11. The Nine Situations

22

Carefully study the well-being of your men,

For "well-being", Wang Hsi means, "Pet them, humor them, give them plenty of food and drink, and look after them generally."

and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.

Ch`en recalls the line of action adopted in 224 B.C. by the famous general Wang Chien, whose military genius largely contributed to the success of the First Emperor. He had invaded the Ch`u State, where a universal levy was made to oppose him. But, being doubtful of the temper of his troops, he declined all invitations to fight and remained strictly on the defensive. In vain did the Ch`u general try to force a battle: day after day Wang Chien kept inside his walls and would not come out, but devoted his whole time and energy to winning the affection and confidence of his men. He took care that they should be well fed, sharing his own meals with them, provided facilities for bathing, and employed every method of judicious indulgence to weld them into a loyal and homogenous body. After some time had elapsed, he told off certain persons to find out how the men were amusing themselves. The answer was, that they were contending with one another in putting the weight and long-jumping. When Wang Chien heard that they were engaged in these athletic pursuits, he knew that their spirits had been strung up to the required pitch and that they were now ready for fighting. By this time the Ch`u army, after repeating their challenge again and again, had marched away eastwards in disgust. The Ch`in general immediately broke up his camp and followed them, and in the battle that ensued they were routed with great slaughter. Shortly afterwards, the whole of Ch`u was conquered by Ch`in, and the king Fu-ch`u led into captivity.

Keep your army continually on the move,

In order that the enemy may never know exactly where you are. It has struck me, however, that the true reading might be "link your army together."

and devise unfathomable plans.

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