• The state of Qi attacked the state of Chu. Chu general Zi Fa did all he could to beat off the Qi attackers, but he was unsuccessful. Fortunately, Zi Fa was skilled at directing the talents of others. Learning that a skilled thief was in his army, Zi Fa decided to put the thief’s skills to work. The first night, the thief went to the Chu camp and stole the mosquito netting from the bed of the Chu general, then the thief brought it back to Zi Fa, who had it returned the next day to the Chu general. The next night, the thief stole the pillow from under the head of the sleeping Chu general; once again, Zi Fa had it returned the next day to the Chu general. The third night, the thief stole the hairpin of the sleeping Chu general; once again, Zi Fa had it returned the next day to the Chu general. These thefts made the Chu general afraid that his head would be stolen next, so he gave up the attack and returned home. Because of the skill of a thief — and Zi Fa’s skill at directing those talents — the state of Chu was saved.
• The state of Qin decided to invade the state of Chu; therefore, the King of Qin sent an envoy to Chu on the pretext of inspecting its treasures but for the real purpose of assessing its defenses and preparedness for war. However, the King of Chu understood the envoy’s real purposes. When the envoy arrived and asked to see the Chu treasures, the King of Chu led the envoy to a room where the Chu ministers were sitting, where he introduced the envoy to the ministers, saying that the ministers were the real treasure of Chu. The King of Chu then invited the envoy to ask any questions he wished. The envoy did ask questions and soon he discovered that the ministers were doing a good job of keeping the Chu citizens healthy, happy, prosperous, and well trained in military matters. Realizing that the Chu citizens would fight hard for their well-governed country, the envoy returned home and advised the King of Qin not to invade Chu.
• The state of Qi wanted to take over the states of Lu and Liang, but did not want to fight a bloody battle. Therefore, the King of Qi decreed that everyone in Qi would wear cotton clothing purchased at high prices from Lu and Liang. The farmers of Lu and Liang stopped growing food and instead started growing cotton, selling the cotton at a high price and buying food. After the farmers of Lu and Liang had sown all their fields with cotton, the King of Qi suddenly decreed that all his people would stop wearing cotton and would instead wear silk clothing manufactured at home. Quickly, a famine started in Lu and Liang, and many of their citizens — including citizens in the military — moved to Qi to avoid starving. The states of Lu and Liang grew so weak that Qi was easily able to take over.
• The state of Han and the state of Zhao went to war against each other, but their strength was equal and the war was at a stalemate. The state of Han sent envoys to the state of Wei to ask for aid; however, the King of Wei replied that he was friends with the King of Zhao and so would not fight against him. Later, the state of Zhao sent envoys to the state of Wei to ask for aid; however, the King of Wei replied that he was friends with the King of Han and so would not fight against him. Because the state of Han and the state of Zhao were so equal in strength, and because neither state could convince Wei to join with it, the war ended. Simply by remaining neutral, the King of Wei had stopped a war.
• King Cao Cao decided to launch an attack against the state of Wuhuan although many of his officials advised against it. Despite many long and arduous difficulties, during which he had to kill thousands of battle horses to feed his soldiers, King Cao Cao conquered Wuhuan and then returned home. After his return, the King asked for a list of the officials who had advised him not to attack Wuhuan. The officials were afraid when King Cao Cao met with them, but he explained that their advice had been correct. True, he had won the war, but only after great difficulty. The best advice had been not to start the war at all. To encourage his officials to continue to give him their best advice, King Cao Cao rewarded them well with treasure.
• General Zhi Bo wanted to attack a fortress in the mountains, but no road went to the fortress. Therefore, he ordered a huge bell to be built. When it was completed, he and his army departed, leaving the bell behind. The general of the mountain fortress saw the huge bell and desired it, so he ordered his soldiers to build a road so that the bell could be taken into the mountain fortress. A few days after the road had been built, General Zhi Bo returned and led his army up the road to the mountain fortress, which he quickly captured.
• House official Dong Anyu was an intelligent man who understood that in times of peace one must prepare for war. Sent to renovate a palace in a strategically located city, Dong Anyu ordered that tree trunks be used in the walls and that solid bronze be used for the pillars. Later, war started. The defenders of the city in which the palace stood began to run out of arrows, so they went to the palace and used the tree trunks to make arrow shafts and the bronze to make arrowheads. With their great supply of arrows, the defenders of the city were victorious.
• Zhi Bo of the state of Jin once gave the King of Wei, a much smaller state, many presents of jade and horses. This aroused the suspicions of Nan Wenzi, an advisor to the King of Wei. He argued that Zhi Bo must have an ulterior motive in giving the gifts, and that therefore the King should beef up its border guards. Nan Wenzi was correct. Zhi Bo had hoped that the gifts would relax the King of Wei’s guard, but after launching a surprise attack against Wei, and finding its borders well guarded, he was forced to give up the attack.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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