So Liu Bei set off and marched

as quickly as possible to Yingchuan. At that time the imperial

troops were attacking with success, and the rebels had retired upon Changshe. They had encamped among the thick grass.

Seeing this, Huangfu Song said to Zhu Jun, “the rebels are camping in the field. We can attack them by fire.”

So the Imperial Commanders bade every man cut a bundle of dry grass and laid an ambush. That night the

wind blew a gale, and at the second watch they started a blaze. At the same time Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun’s

troops attacked the rebels and set their camp on fire. The flames rose to the very heaven. The rebels were thrown

into GREat confusion. There was no time to saddle horses or don armor: They fled in all directions.

the battle continued until dawn. Zhang Lian and Zhang Ba, with a group of flying rebels, found a way of escape.

But suddenly a troop of soldiers with crimson banners appeared to oppose them. Their leader was a man of medium

stature with small eyes and a long beard. He was Cao Cao, a Beijuo man,

holding the rank of Cavalry Commander. His father was Cao Song, but he was not really a Cao. Cao Song had

been born to the Xiahou family, but he had been brought up by Eunuch Cao Teng and had taken this family name.

As a young man Cao Cao had been fond of hunting and delighted in songs and dancing. He was resourceful and full of

guile. An uncle, seeing the young fellow so unsteady, used to

get angry with him and told his father of his misdeeds. His father remonstrated with him.

But Cao Cao made equal to the occasion. One day, seeing

his uncle coming, he fell to the ground in a pretended fit. The

uncle alarmed ran to tell his father, who came, and there was the youth in most perfect health.

“But your uncle said you were in a fit. Are you better?” said his father.

“I have never suffered from fits or any such illness,” said Cao Cao. “But I have lost my

uncle’s affection, and he has deceived you.”

thereafter, whatever the uncle might say of his faults, his father paid no heed.

So the young man GREw up licentious and uncontrolled.

A man of the time named Qiao Xuan said to Cao Cao, “Rebellion is at hand, and

only a man of the GREatest ability can succeed in restoring tranquillity. That man is yourself.”

And He Yong of Nanyang said of him, “the dynasty of Han is about to

fall. He who can restore peace is this man and only he.”

Cao Cao went to inquire his future of a wise man of Runan named Xu Shao.

“What manner of man am I?” asked Cao Cao.