Mr. Qi 2 sent a messenger from the State of Zheng to deliver the
following message to the State of Qin. It said, "The King of the State of Zheng
appointed me to be the guard in charge of the key to the northern gate of
Zheng's capital. If you send troops here secretly, you can capture the State of
King Mu of Qin asked Uncle Jian for his advice. Uncle Jian said, "I do not
think it is appropriate to exhaust our army in attacking a distant state. While
our troops would be fatigued, the distant defending army would still be fresh.
We would have little chance to win the war. In addition, Zheng's intelligence
agents would detect our army's activities. Efforts in the absence of rewards
would cause soldiers to disobey. Furthermore, if an army were to travel several
hundred miles, it would be difficult to keep its action secret."
Ignoring Uncle Jian's advice, the king summoned Generals Ming Meng, Qi Xi, Yi
Bai to lead troops and set out on a campaign from the eastern gate. Uncle Jian
cried and said, "Mr. Meng, I see the troops as they go out, but I do not expect
to see them return."
King Mu sent someone to tell Uncle Jian, "What do you know? If you had died
at sixty, the trees beside your tomb would have grown so large that one would
need both arms to stretch around the girth of the trunk. 3"
The son of Uncle Jian was also among the troops. Uncle Jian tearfully sent
him off by saying, "The defending force of the State of Jin will surely ambush
our troops at Yao Mountain. There are two mounds on Yao Mountain. The southern
one is the tomb of Emperor Gao 4 of the Xia dynasty. The northern one
was the place where Emperor Wen of the Zhou dynasty took shelter from the wind
and rain. You will die between those two mounds. I will gather your bones
there." Then Qin's troops set out eastward to battle.
1 In the 30th year of the reign of King Xi of the State of Lu, the State of
Zheng and the State of Chu formed an alliance. King Wen of the State of Jin and
King Mu of the State of Qin besieged Zheng. Later, Qin secretly negotiated peace
with Zheng. Consequently, Jin withdrew its troops. In the 32nd year of the reign
of King Xi of Lu, King Wen of Jin died. King Mu thought the State of Jin would
have no time to attend to foreign affairs, so he took advantage of this
opportunity to try to destroy Zheng. Unexpectedly, while Qin's troops were on
their way to Zheng, Jin's army ambushed them and annihilated them.
2 Mr. Qi was a spy for the State of Qin.
3 This sentence means that Uncle Jian was too old to give wise advice.
4 Emperor Gao, the fifteenth emperor of the Xia dynasty, was the grandfather
of Emperor Jie. Emperor Gao had reigned for eleven years.