Sima Yi was told that the emperor was about to hold a banquet and had invited hundreds of officials as guests. She had a plan to join the party. First, she investigated the guest list and found out that one of them would be absent for business, so she imitated his outfit and his writing to take his place to join the party. The only thing she lacked now was an official token to access the palace. Sima Yi told her plan to her father, hoping he would take her with him to the party. To her surprise, her father firmly declined her request..
’That’s an insult to the emperor!’ Are you aware of the gravity of this crime?’
’It won’t be a crime if no one finds out about it!’ ‘Anyhow, I won’t help you.’ Her father’s strong resistance made her sigh. She tooked out a letter and said, ‘You leave me with no other option.’ Her father’s face went pale. The letter recorded the jobs assigned by the emperor. Her father paid other people to finish the jobs for him, and took credit as his own works. ‘You...this…’ ‘Aren’t Father’s deeds a kind of ‘an insult to the emperor?’ Her father fell on the chair and took out a token to Sima Yi. He said softly, ‘Do whatever you like!’ ‘Thank you, Father.’ She grabbed the token and left excitedly, leaving her father alone in despair.
Sima Yi’s father claimed to be sick, unable to join the party. Sima Yi went there alone. She arrived with excitement and nervousness. She watched her every word and step, followed the attendant, and sat in the seat according to the seating plan. To her surprise, Cao Cao sat next to her. She could not tear her eyes away from him, As Cao Cao had noticed her looking, she turned away immediately. She turned away immediately. ‘My name is Cao Cao. And you are?’ ‘
Zhongda’ She made up a random name. They shook hands and sat at their table waiting for the opening.
There were not many empty seats when the gates closed. The party officially began with a series of dance shows. The emperor stood up, ‘Thank you all for coming today.. It’s a perfect opportunity to have a couplet contest. Can anyone come up with the first-line?’ ‘May I?’ An official bolted from his seat, looked at the scenery, and composed the first-line. Another official stood up and created the second-line.
And so, the officials challenged each other until the principal graduate came up with the first line that no one could think of a proper second-line. When the principal graduate deemed it as his victory, Sima Yi stepped out from the crowd and made the second-line without much thinking. Then she composed the first-line for him to continue, but it was too difficult for him. His struggling look had satisfied her ego; it was as if she had exacted revenge for her suffering from the patriarchal society. She thought she had won the contest, but a male voice came up with the second-line! Everyone looked at the voice, which belonged to Cao Cao.
Never had she failed in a couplet contest. Her arrogance drove her to compose another line, ‘Blessed are you whose worthiness gives scope.’ Cao Cao sipped at his wine and replied, ‘Being had, to triumph; being lacked, to hope.’ New couplets kept coming from their mouths and this had continued for hours without a winner. The gate slammed open. A young official entered, it was the man she got her fake identity from!
The soldiers subdued her as soon as they found out about her true identity and her gender. The emperor was about to convict her of the crime of insulting the majesty when Cao Cao stepped out, ‘I invited her to fire up the atmosphere. She’s my wife.’ The officials applauded at his surprise, which had admittedly brought fun to the party. The emperor decided to forgive her.
Cao Cao escorted Sima Yi home after the party. He drew his sword at her on the way and asked, ‘You know why I saved you?’ ‘You’ve seen man women in your life, but not any smart ones.’ Sima Yi answered calmly without betraying her fear. ‘Oh? Why don’t we take a look at what’s inside your smart little head?’ Cao Cao placed his sword on her, but she did not show any sign of fear. Her eyes stared at Cao Cao’s firmly. He sneered, and slashed at his groom, ‘This man’s mouth can’t keep a secret.’ She pressed her lips on Cao Cao’s and smirked, ‘Try mine.’ He smiled surprised by her sudden move.
Their carriage stopped in front of Sima Yi’s mansion. She got off the carriage and watched it disappear before stepping through the gate. Cao Cao pondered the couplets with Sima Yi in the banquet and her every word and curled his lips, thinking that it had been a while since he ever met such an interesting person.