“Noble Sir, save me!” cried the inspector.
Now Liu Bei had always been kindly and gracious,
wherefore he bade his brother release the officer and go his way.
Then Guan Yu came up, saying, “Brother, after your magnificent services you only
got this petty post, and even here you have been insulted by this fellow.
A thorn bush is no place for a phoenix. Let us slay this fellow,
leave here, and go home till we can evolve a bigger scheme.”
Liu Bei contented himself with hanging the official seal about the inspector’s neck, saying,
“If I hear that you injure the people, I will assuredly kill you. I now spare your life, and I return to you the seal. We are going.”
The inspector went to the governor of Dingzhou and complained, and orders were issued
for the arrest of the brothers, but they got away to Daizhou and
sought refuge with Liu Hu, who sheltered them because of Liu Bei’s noble birth.
By this time the Ten Regular Attendants had everything in their hands,
and they put to death all who did not stand in with them. From every officer
who had helped to put down the rebels they demanded presents; and if
these were not forthcoming, he was removed from office. Imperial
Commanders Huangfu Song and Zhu Jun both fell victims to these intrigues and
were deprived from offices, while on the other hand the eunuchs
received the highest honors and rewards. Thirteen eunuchs were ennobled,
including Zhao Zhong* who was added to the rank of General of the Flying Cavalry;
Zhang Rang* possessed most of the prize farms around the capital.
The government grew worse and worse, and everyone was irritated.
Rebellions broke out in Changsha led by Ou Xing, and in Yuyang led by
Zhang Ju and Zhang Chun. Memorials were sent up in number as snow flakes in
winter, but the Ten suppressed them all. One day the Emperor was at a feast in
one of the gardens with the Ten, when Court Counselor Liu Tao
suddenly appeared showing very great distress. The Emperor asked what the matter was.
“Sire, how can you be feasting with these when the empire is at the last gasp?” said Liu Tao.
“All is well,” said the Emperor. “Where is anything wrong?”
Said Liu Tao, “Robbers swarm on all sides and plunder the cities.
And all is the fault of the Ten Eunuchs who sell offices and injure the
people, oppress loyal officials and deceive their superiors. All virtuous
ones have left the services and returned to their places, and are building and
guarding their positions. More regional offices have been sought than imperial
appointments. Central authority is being undermined by local interests. Misfortune is before our very eyes!”
At this the eunuchs pulled off their hats and threw themselves at their master’s feet.
“If Minister Liu Tao disapproves of us,” they said, “we are in danger.
We pray that our lives be spared and we may go to our farms.
We yield our property to help defray military expenses.”