When the banquet was concluded, Liu Bei thanked the Emperor and went out of the Palace. And from this time he was very generally styled the “Imperial Uncle.”

When Cao Cao returned to his palace, Xun Yu and his fellow advisers went in to see him.

  Xun Yu said, “It is no advantage to you, Illustrious Sir, that the Emperor recognizes Liu Bei as an uncle.”

  “Liu Bei may be recognized as uncle, but he is under my orders since I control the decrees of the Throne. He will be all the more ready to obey. Beside I will keep him here under the pretense of having him near his sovereign, and he will be entirely in my hands. I have nothing to fear. The man I fear is Yang Biao, who is a relative of the two Yuan brothers. Should Yang Biao conspire with them, he is an enemy within and might do much harm. He will have to be removed.”

  Hence Cao Cao sent a secret emissary to say that Imperial Guardian Yang Biao was intriguing with Yuan Shu, and on this charge Yang Biao was arrested and imprisoned. And his death would have been compassed had his enemy dared.

  But just then the Governor of Beihai, Kong Rong, was at the capital, and he remonstrated with Cao Cao, saying, “Yang Biao comes from a family famed for virtue for at least four generations. You cannot trump up so foolish a charge as that against him.”

  “It is the wish of His Majesty!” retorted Cao Cao.

  “If the child Emperor Cheng of Zhou Dynasty had put Duke Chao to death, could the people have believed Duke Zhou, the Regent Marshal, had nothing to do with it?”

  So Cao Cao had to relinquish the attempt, but he took away Yang Biao’s offices and banished him to his family estate in the country.

Court Counselor Zhao Yan, an opponent of the Prime Minister,

sent up a memorial impeaching Cao Cao for having removed a minister of state from office without a decree.

Cao Cao’s reply to this was the arrest of Zhao Yan and his execution,

a bold stroke which terrified the bulk of officers and reduced them to silence.

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