XII. The attack by fire.
Rather more than half the chapter (§§ 1—13) is devoted to the subject of fire, after which the author branches off into other topics.
1. Sun Tzŭ said: There are five ways of attacking with fire. The first is to burn soldiers in their camp;
So Tu Mu. Li Ch‘üan says: 焚其營殺其士卒也 “Set fire to the camp, and kill the soldiers” (when they try to escape from the flames). Pan Ch‘ao, sent on a diplomatic mission to the King of Shan-shan [see XI. § 51, note], found himself placed in extreme peril by the unexpected arrival of an envoy from the Hsiung-nu [the mortal enemies of the Chinese]. In consultation with his officers, he exclaimed: Never venture, never win! The only course open to us now is to make an assault by fire on the barbarians under cover of night, when they will not be able to discern our numbers. Profiting by their panic, we shall exterminate them completely; this will cool the King’s courage and cover us with glory, besides ensuring the success of our mission.’ The ofﬁcers all replied that it would be necessary to discuss the matter first with the Intendant (從事). Pan Ch‘ao then fell, into a passion: ‘It is to-day,’ he cried, ‘that our fortunes must be decided! The Intendant is only a humdrum civilian, who on hearing of our project will certainly be afraid, and everything will be brought to light. An inglorious death is no worthy fate for valiant warriors.’ All then agreed to do as he wished. Accordingly, as soon as night came on, he and his little band quickly made their way to the barbarian camp. A strong gale was blowing at the time. Pan Ch‘ao ordered ten of the party to take drums and hide behind the enemy’s barracks, it being arranged that when they saw flames shoot up, they
- 不入虎穴不得虎子 “Unless you enter the tiger’s lair, you cannot get hold of the tiger’s cubs.”