Chapter 59: Appearing Righteous (Part Three)
Then, he asked casually, “Donglai, you have been promoted to the Head of the Ministry of War for three years now, right?”
“It has been three years, two months, and six days,” Yu Donglai replied in all seriousness.
“Time flies,” Huai Qiugong sighed and said with a smile, “When I first saw you, you were only a rank 6 official in the Ministry of War. Many years have passed, and I was energetic back then but became an old man who is struggling to live another day, and you turned from a sharp young man into a conservative and steady middle-aged man.”
Yu Donglai replied earnestly, “Senior Huai, you are flattering me.”
“Donglai, do you know why His Majesty is angry?” Huai Qiugong who was saying boring things suddenly changed the topic.
Yu Donglai froze for a second to organize the thoughts in his mind before replying, “I have greatly disappointed His Majesty.”
Huai Qiugong rolled his eyes and said, “It is a safe answer, but it is a lie.”
Yu Donglai smiled and didn’t disagree.
“I got on your horse-drawn carriage because I want to talk to you in private. Some words shouldn’t be said to others. You have been an official for many years, so you should understand what I mean.”
Huai Qiugong looked at Yu Donglai and said, “I will be straightforward since only the two of us are here. His Majesty is angry because more than 2,000 residents and 800 soldiers of Fangu died, Li Xiaozong acted blindly, Li Yuanshan thought that he is smart, and people in the Ministry of War and the Intelligence Department got bribed… However, these aren’t the core cause. Don’t tell me that you don’t know why His Majesty is angry.”
“His Majesty wants to launch an operation in the northwest.” Yu Donglai was honest this time.
“It is good that you aren’t acting dumb. Otherwise, I would have gotten off your horse-drawn carriage and walked home,” Huai Qiugong said before asking, “Then, why is His Majesty punishing the Ministry of War?”
“It is because His Majesty doesn’t want to hear any objections this time. Hou Junci is extremely against this operation and even accused His Majesty of being greedy over fame and merit.”
Huai Qiugong said earnestly, “His Majesty is a wise ruler. Even when some officials say rude things due to disagreements, His Majesty wouldn’t reprimand them and would instead praise them, right?”
“Right!” Yu Donglai nodded.
“But how many people will continue to respect His Majesty?” Huai Qiugong heaved a long sigh and said, “Hou Junci isn’t unlucky; he is a fool. His Majesty needs to act wise, but there are also things that His Majesty must do. For example, this upcoming operation in the northwest. There have been five emperors already, and every one of them expanded the territory of Great Sui.”
After pausing for a second, he continued, “I will be a little disrespectful and say this; His Majesty should think about how he wants to present himself, but officials like us must know our place well and act accordingly. For example, why do I dare to have a bad temper before His Majesty?”
“It is because I’m a royal teacher. His Majesty needs to act respectful toward his teachers, so I will act out my role as well. Zhou Banchuan… that old guy also knows this. His Majesty allows us two to act this way, making others believe that the relationships between us are interesting and fun.”
“Do you think that His Majesty really doesn’t dare to kill me or Zhou Banchuan?”
After being silent for a while, Huai Qiugong continued, “I got on your horse-drawn carriage to tell you this… You should know what kind of official you need to be; you will only please His Majesty this way. Do you know what you need to do?”
Yu Donglai thought for a while, nodded, and replied earnestly, “Perhaps His Majesty needs an official who will be vicious and sell out his peers. Also, His Majesty needs a few more people killed in the Ministry of War. I will go back and really think about how I should create this name list of corrupt officials.”
Huai Qiugong laughed and said, “It is not being vicious but righteous.”
He added, “What is being righteous? What is being a good official? Be loyal to His Majesty and take care of issues. Do what you need to do in different situations.”
Yu Donglai sat straight before bowing. “Senior Huai, thank you for your advice.”
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