Tu Yu defines 約 as 要約, and Li Ch‘üan as 質盟之約 “a treaty confirmed by oaths and hostages.” Wang Hsi and Chang Yü, on the other hand, simply say 無故 “without reason,” “on a frivolous pretext,” as though 約 bore the rather unusual sense of “important.” Capt. Calthrop has “without consultation,” which is too loose.
27. When there is much running about
Every man hastening to his proper place under his own regimental banner.
and the soldiers fall into rank,
I follow the T‘u Shu in omitting 車 after 兵. Tu Mu quotes the Chou Li, ch. xxix. fol. 31: 車驟徒趨及表乃止.
it means that the critical moment has come.
What Chia Lin calls 晷刻之期, as opposed to a 尋常之期.
28. When some are seen advancing and some retreating, it is a lure.
Capt. Calthrop is hardly right in translating: “An advance, followed by sudden retirement.” It is rather a case of feigned confusion. As Tu Mu says: 僞爲雜亂不整之狀.
29. When the soldiers stand leaning on their spears, they are faint from want of food.
仗 is here probably not a synonym for 倚, but =兵 “a weapon.” The original text has 仗而立者, which has been corrected from the T‘ung Tien and Yü Lan.
30. If those who are sent to draw water begin by drinking themselves, the army is suffering from thirst.
As Tu Mu remarks: 覩一人三軍可知也 “One may know the condition of a whole army from the behaviour of a single man.” The 先 may mean either that they drink before drawing water for the army or before they return to camp. Chang Yü takes the latter view. The T‘ung Tien has the faulty reading 汲役先飮者, and the Yü Lan worse still, 汲設飮者.