The Human Emperor - Chapter 98: Humility!
“Isn’t that so? That’s truly a huge breach of their responsibility! Even if elders like us don’t say anything, the moment the news reaches them, they would immediately hide in shame.”
Duke of Hu chuckled in agreement.
Wang Chong heard of Xue Zique, he was an authoritative official of the finance department in the royal court. Even though he was nicknamed the ‘Bloodsucker’ and countless people cursed him on a daily basis due to his unceasing efforts to tax the rations and wealth of the civilians to fill the national treasury, Wang Chong knew that he wasn’t bad at heart, and he didn’t do so to fulfill his private greed either.
All of the taxes he collected went straight to filling the national treasury. He didn’t corrupt a single tael of it!
“Hahaha, Duke Jiu, Young Master Chong sure is astute and smart. If not for the current era of martial arts and following me would only be a waste of his talents, I would really love to keep him by my side!”
Elder Zhao gazed at Wang Chong in amazement. This youngest grandson of Duke Jiu sure was an eye opener. Possessing such foresight in the military affairs of the empire was already rare, but to be capable of such outstanding performance in the finance department as well was completely inconceivable.
“Hahaha, Elder Zhao, you need not bother about that matter. Duke Jiu has already expressed his consent to have Young Master Chong beside me. Thus, you shouldn’t hold any thoughts about him!”
Duke of Ye scolded playfully as he tried to dispel the thoughts from the other party’s mind.
Of Duke Jiu’s three sons, one daughter, four grandsons, two granddaughters, and a nephew, only this ‘Young Master Chong’ was capable of making his eyes glow.
“Hahaha, there’s no need to fight over him. This child is still young, so when he requires your help in the future, none of you are allowed to turn him down!”
Sitting at the top of the hall, the old master was in good mood. He half-jokingly half-serious issued a command to his old subordinates.
“Of course, of course!”
The elders immediately nodded their heads in consent. Even though they didn’t know whether Duke Jiu intended to install this Young Master Chong as his successor, it was clear that he intended to groom him.
“Gen-er, have you heard those words? You are an authoritative official of the royal court, so you have to keep this matter in mind.”
The old master turned to Big Uncle Wang Gen and said.
“Yes, father. I will make sure to carry out this matter properly!”
Wang Gen replied.
The matter regarding ‘tariffs’ was a huge affair. On the small scale, it affected the finance of the empire and a substantial amount of tax. On the large scale, it affected the military and welfare of the empire, as well as the safety of several hundred thousand troops on the battlefield!
If not for the fact that today was the old master’s birthday banquet, he would immediately rush to the royal court and gather his colleagues to discuss the matter. This wasn’t just because of how much they cared about the empire, the merit they could potentially earn through this matter was enticing as well!
Whoever’s name was on the deal, whoever would gain merit for this matter. Given Wang Gen’s experience, he would surely be able to push this matter through in the shortest time possible.
More importantly, Wang Chong was only fifteen, so it was impossible for him to claim credit for this matter. As the one who propagated this matter in the royal court, Wang Gen would gain the greatest benefits over this matter!
This would definitely leave a beautiful stroke in his political history. As time goes by, it would become his qualifications. One could say that Wang Chong has delivered this huge credit into his hands.
“Right, Young Master Chong, how did you think of the possibility of establishing tariffs?”
Duke of Ye suddenly asked curiously.
Wang Chong knowing of the conditions of the northern Eastern and Western Turkic Khaganate despite his young age could at least still be attributed to the Wang Gen being a general. Raised in such a family, Wang Chong probably grew up seeing and hearing of such matters, so it wasn’t surprising for Wang Chong to possess talents in that aspect.
But ‘tariffs’ was a completely different matter. This wasn’t something that talent could explain!
Hearing those words, Wang Chong chuckled. All of the words he had said beforehand was in preparation for this. “Elders, you all have overestimated me, how could I possibly possess such capability? Actually, I only heard of this matter from Cousin Wang Li!”
Everyone was astonished. They swiftly turned to look at Wang Li.
Wang Li had been looking downward with an awful complexion all along, reluctant to see Wang Chong outdo him. However, upon hearing those words, he abruptly lifted his head and turned to Wang Chong in disbelief.
“Hehehe, cousin, seems like you have forgotten it. Back then, I remember that after you brought this up, you said that it is just nonsense that you came up with, and that the bunch of powerful officials in the royal court couldn’t possibly listen to your words. Your mind was already into the military then, so you’ve probably already forgotten about the matter. Even so, I noted down your words. Hehe, cousin, surely you didn’t expect that, right?”
Wang Chong mischievously blinked at Cousin Wang Li.
Wang Chong didn’t intend to show off before the elders by saying so much. Rather, he was trying to help Cousin Wang Li.
Wang Chong deeply believed that this cousin of his wasn’t a bad person. Even though he stomped out of the Wang Clan in a fit of anger and went missing, when the Wang Clan fell into distress, he rushed back without any hesitation.
Even now, Wang Chong recalled how after the Wang Clan fell from grace, he roamed the streets, only to be bullied by others. In the end, it was Cousin Wang Li who appeared and fought off those people. Right when Wang Chong was injured, it was he who used his back to guard him, even though he spouted cold words such as ‘I didn’t do this for you’ and ‘I just can’t stand their faces’ afterward.
But Wang Chong knew that he came to save him.
After that, Wang Chong realized that cousin was actually a cold-faced but warm-hearted person. Regardless of how difficult he was to get along with and how bad his temper was, nothing could change the fact that they were both offsprings of the Wang Clan!
The ‘tariff’ matter wouldn’t bring him much benefit, but he knew that it would prove to be useful to Cousin Wang Li.
“Li-er, is this true?”
The first one to speak up was Big Uncle Wang Gen.
In the conference hall, everyone’s gazes were on Wang Li.
Wang Li hesitated.
“Hahaha, cousin, you have really forgotten everything. A few years ago, when I was looking for Cousin Zhu Yan, I happened to meet you. Back then, you were sitting on a fake hill and you were muttering to yourself. Then, when you realized that I was eavesdropping by the side, you flew into a temper and forbade me from coming to your house. Have you forgotten everything?”
Wang Chong spoke so confidently that even Wang Li was muddled.
“Young Master Li, is there really such a matter?”
Several subordinates of the old master asked.
“I… I think so!”
Wang Li hesitated for a moment before answering. How could he possibly remember a matter a few years ago? Furthermore, he has spoken so many words, how could he remember every single thing that he mentioned?
“Hehe, congratulations, Duke Jiu. It seemed like Young Master Li is more talented in governance than the military!”
Elder Zhao suddenly spoke to the old master.
Duke Jiu’s eldest son, Eldest gongzi Wang Gen, was an authoritative official in the royal court, and he possessed outstanding talents in politics. Given that Young Master Li grew up under such conditions, it was natural that he would learn a thing or two from Eldest gongzi and possess talents in this aspect as well.
If the matter of ‘tariffs’ was thought of by Young Master Li, then everything made sense.
“Li gongzi is indeed talented in governance. If he can develop on that aspect, he might even catch up to Eldest gongzi and become an influential official in the royal court.”
The other elders spoke in agreement.
The old master frowned silently, and he seemed to be deep in contemplation. Actually, when his grandson, Wang Li, was younger, he did display talents in governance.
He had an impression of this matter.
However, Wang Gen insisted on sending him to the military, and the old master rarely interfered in such matters. After all, he was a person skilled in both the literary and military aspect, so regardless of which of it, it was the same to him.
However, if Wang Li really came up with the idea, then Wang Li could potentially follow his father’s footsteps and join the royal court.
“We’ll talk about this matter later on. Li-er, you should thank your Cousin Wang Chong. If not for him, no one would have known about this.”
With a single word, the old master brought everyone’s attention back to Wang Chong.
“Indeed! It’s admirable how Young Master Chong isn’t greedy for merit!”
“As fellow clan members, it’s a good thing to give in to each other!”
“Possessing such character at such a young age is indeed valuable!”
The elders gazed at Wang Chong as they offered their praises. Their impression of him improved significantly. In large clans, kinship often played a secondary role compared to merit and everything else, and this was exceptionally true in an affluent clan of generals and ministers like the Wang Clan. To be willing to give in to one another was an extremely rare and valuable trait.
Not only did Wang Chong’s honesty and humility not lower the view that everyone had of him, their impression of him even improved.
“Young Master Chong, we should interact more in the future. Our Zhao Clan has quite a few residences in the capital, so feel free to drop by.”
Elder Zhao and a few other elders in the room extended their invitations to Wang Chong.
Wang Chong had the opportunity to ‘take credit’ for this matter. If he didn’t speak of it, no one would have known. It was commonplace to see others claim credit for something that they didn’t do in the royal court and the military, and most of the influential grade-1 officials weren’t exceptions to the tradition as well.
If one was able to not be greedy for credit and fairly treat one’s subordinates, then one already possessed the charisma of a leader.
This was also the main reason why they faithfully followed Duke Jiu, not even frowning in the least even when what he led them to was a sea of flames or a mountain of blades.
Wang Chong could have never imagined that it was this ‘trifling matter’ that made the elders consider the possibility of having him to take over the old master’s influence.
Even though the future was uncertain, the crowd felt that Duke Jiu’s young grandson possessed the charisma to win the hearts of others and unify Duke Jiu’s influence.
——In fact, even the most reticent white-haired old subordinates in the group were already considering this possibility.
Wang Chong smiled. He only felt that the attitude the elders had toward him was weird, but he didn’t think too much into it.
Wang Chong earnestly believed that Cousin Wang Li’s potential in governance far surpassed his potential in the military.
This kind of talent should not be buried. Otherwise, it would be the loss of his cousin, as well as the entire Wang Clan. Wang Chong believed that those who agreed with him today would thank him for his sharp eyes in the future.
After which, Wang Chong sat quietly by Duke of Ye’s side. He had already performed sufficient for today, and going overboard would just slow things down.
Wang Chong didn’t intend to ‘amaze the crowd’ through this occasion. After all, this should be a day for grandfather and his old subordinates to reminisce their brotherhood!