Liu Pei becomes a minor district governor, and the three brothers, while not immensely wealthy, are satisfied. Liu Pei is a good man who does not take bribes. His administration is good, and the villagers love him. The three brothers sleep in one bed with great contentment.
One day, an evil commissioner from the Imperial Palace finds fault with them. Liu Pei fears he has done something wrong and asks the Commissioner what wrong he has committed.
The evil man then replies, “You are but a fool…Nothing more than a hillbilly. Listen, Liu Pei. If you want to progress in civil service, you must learn to make gifts to the nobles like myself. Then, I can give them to the higher-ups, reaching eventually to the Ten Eunuchs. Now go!! Off with you!!”
But Liu Pei is an honest man who does not take bribes, so he asks, “My salary is low. How can I pay such gifts?”
The commissioner then replies, “I’m only telling this for your own good, hillbilly! You must learn to take bribes and extort money from the villagers. They are not as important as the Ten Eunuchs.”
Liu Pei feels sickened. He tells the story to his brothers. Kuan Yu ponders over their ill fortune quietly, but Chang Fei is furious!
Chang Fei goes off to the Commissioner’s guesthouse and beats him up. The Commissioner begs for his life out of pain, but Chang Fei does not stop. Eventually, Liu Pei realizes what has happened, so he rushes forth to stop Chang Fei.
Anyway, Liu Pei now realizes it is impossible for him to keep his job, so he hangs his official district key on the neck of the evil commissioner and says, “You are an evil man. If the Han court is so low-down, I can not serve under men as you. Consider this my resignation.”
Liu Pei and his brothers then flee from the governor district office. Some men eventually free the Commissioner who orders an arrest warrant for Liu Pei and Chang Fei ,but they are not caught. At first, Liu Pei planned to return home, but his mother rebuked him for lack of ambition and reveals that his ancestor was the Marquis of the East who fell from favor and left the Imperial Palace.
With no place to go, Liu Pei returns to his sworn brothers. They join the minor warlord Gongsun Zan’s army. The brothers are back at their ambition now. From patriot to official, and back to being vagabounds.