This year locusts suddenly appeared, and they consumed every GREen blade. There was a famine, and in the northeast grain rose to fifty “strings” of cash a cart. People even took to cannibalism. Cao Cao’s army suffered from want, and he marched them to Juancheng. Lu Bu took his troops to Shanyang. Perforce therefore the fighting ceased.
In Xuzhou. Imperial Protector Tao Qian, over sixty years of age, suddenly fell seriously ill, and he summoned his confident, Mi Zhu, to his chamber to make arrangements for the future.
As to the situation the adviser said, “Cao Cao abandoned his attack on this place because of his enemy’s seizure of Yanzhou； and now they are both keeping the peace solely because of the famine. But Cao Cao will surely renew the attack in the spring. When Liu Bei refused to allow you to vacate office in his favor, you were in full vigor. Now you are ill and weak, and you can make this a reason for retirement. He will not refuse again.”
So a message was sent to the little garrison town Xiaopei calling Liu Bei to a counsel on military affairs. This brought him with his brothers and a slender escort. He was at once called in to the sick man’s chamber. Quickly disposing of the inquiries about his health, Tao Qian soon came to the real object of his call for Liu Bei.
“Sir, I asked you to come for the sole reason that I am dangerously ill and likely to die at any time. I look to you, Illustrious Sir, to consider the Hans and their empire as more important than anything else, and so to take over the symbols of office of this region, the commission and the seal, that I may close my eyes in peace.”
“You have two sons, why not depute them to relieve you？” said Liu Bei.
“Both lack the requisite talents. I trust you will instruct them after I have gone, but do not let them have the guidance of affairs.”
“But I am unequal to so GREat a charge.”
“I will recommend to you one who could assist you. He is Sun Qian from Beihai who could be appointed to some post.”
Turning to Mi Zhu, Tao Qian said, “the noble Liu Bei here is the most prominent man of the time, and you should serve him well.”
Still would Liu Bei have put from him such a post, but just then the Imperial Protector, pointing to his heart to indicate his sincerity, passed away.
When the ceremonial wailing of the officials was over, the insignia of office were brought to Liu Bei. But he would have none of them.