Stories and Folktales in Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Peach Garden Oath
Liu Bei was twenty-eight when the outbreak of the Yellow Scarves called for soldiers. The sight of the notice saddened him, and he sighed as he read it. Suddenly a rasping voice behind him cried, "Sir, why sigh if you do nothing to help your country?"
quickly he saw standing there a man about his own height, with a bullet head
like a leopard's, large eyes, a swallow pointed chin, and whiskers like a
tiger's. He spoke in a loud bass voice and looked as irresistible as a dashing
horse. At once Liu Bei saw he was no ordinary man and asked who he was.
"Zhang Fei is my name," replied the stranger. "I live near here where I have a farm; and I am a wine seller and a butcher as well; and I like to become acquainted with worthy humans. Your sighs as you read the notice drew me toward you."
Liu Bei replied, "I am of the Imperial Family, Liu Bei is my name. And I wish I could destroy these Yellow Scarves and restore peace to the land, but alas! I am helpless." "I have the means," said Zhang Fei. "Suppose you and I raised some troops and tried what we could do."
was happy news for Liu Bei, and the two betook themselves to the village inn
to talk over the project. As they were drinking, a huge, tall fellow appeared
pushing a hand-cart along the road. At the threshold he halted and entered
the inn to rest awhile and he called for wine.
"And be quick," added he, "for I am in haste to get into the town and offer myself for the army."
looked over the newcomer, item by item, and he noted the man had a huge frame,
a long beard, a vivid face like an apple, and deep red lips. He had eyes like
a phoenix's and fine bushy eyebrows like silkworms. His whole appearance was
dignified and awe-inspiring. Presently, Liu Bei crossed over, sat down beside
him and asked his name.
"I am Guan Yu," replied he. "I am a native of the east side of the river, but I have been a fugitive on the waters for some five years, because I slew a ruffian who, since he was powerful, was a bully. I have come to join the army here."
Liu Bei told Guan Yu his own intentions, and all three went away to Zhang
Fei's farm where they could talk over the grand project.
Said Zhang Fei, "The peach trees in the orchard behind the house are just in full flower. Tomorrow we will institute a sacrifice there and solemnly declare our intention before Heaven and Earth. And we three will swear brotherhood and unity of aims and sentiments; thus will we enter upon our great task." Both Liu Bei and Guan Yu gladly agreed.
being of one mind, next day they prepared the sacrifices, a black ox, a white
horse, and wine for libation. Beneath the smoke of the incense burning on
the altar, they bowed their heads and recited this oath:
"We three, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, though of different families, swear brotherhood, and promise mutual help to one end. We will rescue each other in difficulty, we will aid each other in danger. We swear to serve the state and save the people. We ask not the same day of birth but we seek to die together. May Heaven, the all-ruling, and Earth, the all-producing, read our hearts, and if we turn aside from righteousness or forget kindliness may Heaven and man spite us!"
- Peach Garden Oath -