Xiao Hua couldn’t be said to be a child of good fortune. In fact, one could say her life has been rather miserable.
She was sold at five years old by her dad for a few pieces of silver to an old merchant master’s household.
The steward in the estate saw that she was still young, thin and small, so arranged for her to work in the kitchen stoking the fire. If it weren’t for the fact that she had to work at such a young age, that rich merchant’s household was pretty decent. She never went hungry and she never got beaten. Since kids in poor families had to help with work at an early age, she actually didn’t think much about it.
Unfortunately the merchant decided to relocate his household, and having only worked for three years tending the fire she was sold off once again.
She was bought and sold in succession through three households, but these ones weren’t as nice as her first master’s. Beatings and starvation was a common occurrence….these households’ harshness and criticisms let the young Xiao Hua realize that not all households could be as lenient as her first one. She had even ran away once after being unable to endure, but a child who wasn’t yet ten on the outside streets had nowhere to go. No food, no water, and no shelter. She could only become a beggar on the streets. She even came close to being kidnapped and sold off to the brothel, and was thoroughly frightened. She found her way back to her broker and after suffering a round of beatings was sold once again.
The Jinyang Marquis Estate had been her 5th household in her previous life.
She had felt it was like a paradise upon arriving. Everything was magnificent and well designed. All the maids were as pretty as flowers, and all the madams, young mistresses and young masters were aloof and removed, as though they were gods.
Life in the Jinyang Marquis Estate was also great. As a maid she got nice clothing, good food and even a salary every month. Although she would still get scolded by the head maid when her work wasn’t done well, there was very little beatings and also no starvation.
At that time, as a common sweeper girl in the estate, Xiao Hua’s standards for happiness was really very low. She had even thought that she’d be willing to stay as a sweeper maid forever.
But people always change. Especially when you place someone who was starved in front of a feast of delicacies. Her eating habits were often very unpleasant to look at, and she would also eat very urgently.
People aren’t easily satisfied. A farmer who acquired one acre of farmland would dream of having two acres. Once he had two acres, he wanted ten. After becoming a landowner he would think becoming a government official would be better. After becoming an official he would want a higher ranking position….
Xiao Hua was like this in her past life too.
At first she thought being a sweeper girl was already pretty good, very satisfying and very happy. But she slowly, slowly watched as those senior maids in the estates walked around with reputations not much worse off than their masters. There were also those who used to be maids, but caught their master’s eye and became concubines. Once you became a concubine your life was set. You could wear golden threads and have a maid to serve you. If you were lucky enough to give birth, even if you lost favor in the future you would still have something to depend on.
As a maid, becoming a concubine was the ultimate dream.
Xiao Hua’s thoughts had gradually started to change.
Life in the estate was always pretty good, and having been raised there for over a year, Xiao Hua also transformed from the pitiful little thing who was just skin and bones into a budding flower.
Xiao Hua had previously secretly compared herself to the maids and concubines in the estate and felt that her appearance wasn’t worse off. She even exceeded them by a bit. Although she had yet to mature, she still had the makings of a slender and elegant little beauty.
From desire springs forth ambition, and one’s status often results in ambition growing wildly.
Just when did ambition first enter her heart?
Xiao Hua didn’t know. All she knew was that she started saving her monthly salary like the other maids and slipping some to the maids in charge. She learned to smile whenever she encountered people, and also learned to fawn and flatter others.
Xiao Hua had a good foundation, and after being raised for a year her appearance started to show it. Not only did she gain some meat on her bones but her skin became fair and exquisite. When placed in a group of maids, it was like a crane in a flock of chicken.
The 4th young master’s pavilion happened to need a sweeper girl with decent appearance, and the head maid whom Xiao Hua had often flattered appointed her to the spot.
Xiao Hua still remembered her feelings when she had been appointed at the time.
The 4th young master was young and handsome, recently married with no chambermaids or concubines. The 4th young madam was also not liked by the young master, and if she could obtain his love she could become someone who was above others.
In her past life, Xiao Hua carried those restless thoughts into Jinxiu Pavilion, and began to enact her plans….
Whenever she recalled her past self, Xiao Hua would always have the urge to laugh. Not only was she dumb and foolish, but she put on airs and ended up putting herself to death.
In this life although she didn’t put on airs, she still couldn’t find shelter.
On the side, Cui Lan seemed to have been overly shocked and was as if she had lost her mind, hitting the door repeatedly and muttering to herself: “Young master will definitely come save us, young master will definitely come….”
Liu Ye’s mind was stronger than Cui Lan’s by quite a bit. She stopped hitting the door, finding a spot by the wall and sat silently on the floor.
Cui Lan hit the door for a while, and seeing Xiao Hua and Liu Ye both seeming to have given up hope, ran over and shook them. She shook Liu Ye a few times, then ran over to shake Xiao Hua.
“Right? Young master will definitely come save us, right? Right?”
It seemed as if she would find relief if the people with her could affirm her thoughts.
Xiao Hua was a little dizzy from being shaken by her, and struggled hard to get free of her before saying loudly: “Enough, stop shaking me. Even if you shake me to death, the young master wouldn’t come to save us!”
Cui Lan stood there lifelessly.
Xiao Hua didn’t care about Cui Lan’s look of defeat, and continued saying: “I didn’t even say anything when I got implicated because of you two, what are you going crazy over?” Once Xiao Hua started speaking, her heart filled with indignation. Who had she provoked to deserve this? “The 4th young madam messed around with suicide, there had to be some scapegoats to pacify the situation. It’s impossible for it to be the 4th young master, so it could only be us! The fact that we weren’t dragged off and beaten to death is already pretty good, so why don’t you save your breath.”
Xiao Hua finished speaking and found another corner to curl up in. She had some anger in her heart. Why was it so hard to live her days peacefully like she wanted?
Liu Ye started crying mournfully to the side.
It was no wonder she would cry. Initially scheming her way to riches and status, who knew that not only did the riches and status evade her grasp, even her entire family got sold off.
Cui Lan also stopped her craziness, crouching in place and crying with her face covered.
Only a short time had passed but their circumstances had changed drastically. Moments earlier they were respected senior maids of the estate’s son. Moments later, they were sold off. It wasn’t surprising for the two to find it hard to endure.
Xiao Hua also felt panicked and heavy in her heart, but didn’t express it as clearly as the other two.
She wasn’t born into the estate, and wasn’t some spoiled princess. She was just a little girl who was sold all over the place from a young age.
Having schemed herself to death in her past life, she had decided to behave honestly in this life and didn’t have high hopes for herself. Just passing her days peacefully was sufficient. But even such a simple desire was now shattered. Cui Lan and Liu Ye might not know it, but Xiao Hua was very clear in her heart. Once you are sold, everything would depend on your luck. If you were lucky you would be sold into a nice household as a servant, with no beatings and no starvation. If your luck was not so good, you were sold straight to the brothel, where you would be as good as dead.
Xiao Hua couldn’t help but shiver thinking up to this point.
She touched her own face and examined her body, slowly feeling relieved in her heart.
Luckily, luckily she had yet to mature. Although fourteen years old, she hadn’t developed well.
But Xiao Hua was still a little worried, and rubbed the dust on the floor onto her face.
She applied the dust quite skillfully, not making her whole face dirty but instead staining both her hands with dust and pressing against her face after rubbing her hands together a few times.
After pressing again and again, she had darkened her face, arms and neck. From the outside, she appeared to be a skinny, dark-skinned, sloppy little girl. She rubbed the floor again, and marked two dark streaks around her eyes, and another across her face. Finally, she ruffled her hair into an unkempt and scraggly bush.
This was what Xiao Hua had slowly put together from her experiences of being sold repeatedly.
Xiao Hua had seen some older girls trying to conceal their appearances, and making their face completely filthy. Sometimes being too dirty was also a distinguishing feature. Her disguise was just right, not too dirty but cutting a sorry figure, which meant it wouldn’t attract too much attention.
Regarding the rest, she had to rely on Cui Lan and Liu Ye. Since the young master had gotten intimate with the two of them, hopefully the madam would be considerate and not sell them off to some dirty place, casually selling them off as servants instead.
Cui Lan and Liu Ye were both crying into their hands, and didn’t notice Xiao Hua’s actions.
Once they stopped crying and found a place to sit, they noticed Xiao Hua’s pitiful appearance. However, they just assumed it happened during their relocation process from Qiao-Shi’s residence, and also wasn’t in the mood to pay attention to others.
The light in the room went from bright, to gradually fading and finally to darkness.
During this time none of the old crones brought them food, so Cui Lan and Liu Ye started getting restless. Xiao Hua on the other hand was very familiar with this situation.
They were about to be sold off, who would think to come give them food. It was already nice enough not to starve them to death!
Xiao Hua didn’t think any further and tried to leave her mind blank, trying to ignore the pangs of hunger in her stomach. She leaned against the wall, closed her eyes and hypnotized herself to quickly fall asleep.
This special ability was learned by Xiao Hua during her days of suffering from hunger because a sleeping person no longer feels the hunger.
But it had been a while since she had to use it, and Xiao Hua felt she was no longer as proficient at it. Especially since Cui Lan and Liu Ye continued to weep on the side, their cries causing her thoughts to be in turmoil.
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, continuously enduring without saying a word. She told herself to imagine having fallen asleep already, and gradually fell asleep for real.