Friday, May 28, 2010

3 Kingdoms - Chapter One - 7

Romance of the Three Kingdoms
by Luo Guanzhong

11 While they were drinking, they spotted a large fellow pushing a cart. The man stopped for a moment in the doorway, then entered into the tavern and sat down. The man called out to the server, "Pour me a drink and be quick about it, I'm in a hurry to get to town so that I can join the army." Xuande took a look at the man, who stood at a height of nine chi, and had a two chi long beard; his face was the color of a dark jujube, with lips that were red and plump; his eyes were like that of a crimson phoenix, and his eyebrows resembled reclining silkworms. He had a dignified air, and looked quite majestic. Xuande invited the man to sit with them, and inquired as to his name. The man said, "My surname is Guan, my given name is Yu, my style name was Shouchang, but then I changed it to Yunchang. I am from Xieliang in the Hedong Commandery. Because there was a man from a wealthy family who was acting like a big shot and bullying everybody, I ended up killing him. I had to become a fugitive, and have been living the life of an itinerant mercenary for the past five or six years. When I heard that this area was recruiting soldiers to go smash bandit rebels, I came especially to join up." When Xuande told the man of his plans, Yunchang was overjoyed. They all went to Zhang Fei's estate to discuss these important matters.

12 Fei said, "There is a peach garden in the rear of my estate, and the flowers are now in full bloom; tomorrow, we should conduct a sacrificial ceremony to heaven and earth. We three should become brothers, joining forces with a common purpose, and later we will be able to accomplish great deeds." Xuande and Yunchang both responded in unison, "An excellent idea!" The following day, they prepared sacrificial offerings such as a black bull and a white horse. The three of them all burned incense, and performed double obeisance. They all took an oath, saying, "When saying the names Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, although the surnames are different, yet we have come together as brothers. From this day forward, we shall join forces for a common purpose, and come to each other's aid in times of crisis. We shall avenge the nation from above, and pacify the citizenry from below. We seek not to be born on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. We merely hope to die on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. May the gods of heaven and earth attest to what is in our hearts. If we should ever do anything to betray our friendship, may the gods in heaven strike us dead." Having completed the oath, Xuande was declared to be eldest brother, followed by Guan Yu, with Zhang Fei as the most junior brother. They made thorough offerings to heaven and earth, and then butchered the bull. They also brought out some wine, and gathered together all of the brave men of the county. They recruited more than three hundred men, so they proceeded to get thoroughly drunk in the peach garden. The day after, they gathered their weapons, but became frustrated that they had no horses to ride.

Continued next week. Tomorrow's installment from Lays of Ancient Rome by Macaulay.

More About This Story

This is one of four great novels from China, published when it was the most highly civilization in the world. Map shows China at the time of this story.

Chapter Summary: Three brave men swear an oath of allegiance at the feast in the peach gardens; our heroes' first achievement is the vanquishing of the Yellow Turbans.

More information here:
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This translation from Wikipedia. See license CC-BY-SA.