Translator’s note: Surprise! Translated an extra chapter today celebrating me managing to get the website up and running. Also didn’t want to leave you guys hanging with the author’s note from last chapter. Although……
Once noon arrived, Su Yan took the low palace maids who were done working back to the sweeper area.
As they were walking along the passageway, Su Yan who was leading the way suddenly spoke quietly: “His highness approaches, everyone kneel.” Following which she was the first to kneel down in front.
This was covered in the estate rules. When encountering masters or mistresses inside the estate they had to kneel and keep their heads down without peeking. Especially for those who were common palace servants. They were not qualified to look them in the face.
Ten or so low palace maids hurriedly knelt and lowered their heads. However, there were a few who didn’t manage to react, still standing there foolishly.
Xiao Hua lowered her head and didn’t know what was going on. But through the corner of her eyes she saw a black pair of dragon engraved boots and the lower hem of a purple colored robe pass in front of her, followed by another pair of black boots.
Only after the people had walked off into the distance did the kneeling servants stand up.
After Su Yan stood up, her expression was furious but she didn’t say anything, merely glaring at those low palace maids who stood there foolishly.
This included Xi’er and Qiao Lian. When Xiao Hua knelt down, she had pulled on Xi’er a couple of times. It wasn’t clear what kind of daze Xi’er was in that she didn’t even feel it.
The silent group made their way back towards the sweeper area. It wasn’t clear what Xi’er was thinking about as she walked, her expression flickering constantly. Due to Su Yan’s ugly expression, the palace maids who failed to kneel earlier all knew they made a mistake and their hearts were apprehensive.
The moment they returned to the sweeper area, Su Yan made them stand outside while she entered.
Seeing the situation, everyone grew even more uneasy.
The few who forgot to kneel all had ugly expressions. Only now did Xi’er snap out of it. Her eyes reddened, “They wouldn’t take away our meal today, right?”
Not being allowed to eat would be letting them off lightly. The real concern was –
As expected, things weren’t quite so simple. Auntie Chen, the Auntie of the sweeper area walked out with Su Yan.
Auntie Chen was around forty, with a long narrow face and prominent cheekbones. Her face was strict and she was clothed in a maroon jacket paired with a lilac traditional skirt1. She swept the crowd with a sharp gaze the moment she stepped out.
“Those who broke the rules, step forwards.”
There was first a spell of silence over the crowd before a single low palace maid stepped out, following which the rest walked out in succession, unable to resist Auntie Chen’s pressure.
Xi’er’s eyes turned even redder, and glanced anxiously at Xiao Hua and then at Xiu Yun and Qiao Lian. However, she also knew she couldn’t hide from it and dragged herself out. Qiao Lian’s face had long since turned pale. Seeing everyone else walk out she also followed behind.
No one dared to try and weasel out of it because Su Yan was there at the time. She was certain to have already reported the situation to Auntie Chen.
Auntie Chen laughed coldly, “Very good, looks like you all know you messed up. If you break the rules you must suffer the punishment. That is how our estate operates. For your first offense, you will each be given ten strokes of the plank.”
As her voice fell, two sturdy palace maids walked in with a punishment plank that was one and a third zhang long, one chi wide and five cun long2. One of them also carried a long bench.
Seeing this display, all the low palace maids were stunned including Xiao Hua.
She was beaten to death in her past life, but the plank in the Jinyang Marquis Estate wasn’t as terrifying. Not just the length, but even its thickness was shocking.
Xiao Hua didn’t know these measurements were standard for the planks used in the palace.
These two palace maids seemed to be old hands with the plank. Seeing no one take the initiative to step up, they pulled one of the guilty palace maids over without a saying a word and pressed her down onto the bench. One of them lifted her skirt and pulled her undergarment halfway off before beginning the beating.
At that moment all the palace maids standing to the side unconsciously wrapped their arms around themselves as though they were the ones getting beaten. The other guilty low palace maids were all scared to tears.
Even though they cried, they still had to accept the plank.
The guilty maids stood unsteadily after the ten strokes.
But Xiao Hua knew that these two had shown mercy and weren’t too heavy-handed. She had been beaten like this in her past life before, and knew that if they had really gone all out these ten strokes would have laid them to the ground, without even the ability to stand afterwards.
Of course, having your pants pulled off and then being beaten wasn’t just a physical punishment. It was also an extreme humiliation since these girls were all in their teens.
Xiao Hua sighed again with complicated emotions in her heart.
It wasn’t as if she had never seen maids being beaten by a plank before in the Jinyang Marquis Estate. But this was the first time she saw trousers being pulled down for the beating. What Xiao Hua didn’t know was this rule had always been present in the palace. This wasn’t just a physical punishment, but also an emotional one. Making you feel shame so you wouldn’t reoffend in the future.
Seeing Xi’er and Qiao Lian standing unsteadily after being beaten, Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun each supported one as they returned to their room. Upon entering, Xi’er started crying loudly. Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun spoke a few words of comfort, but seemed to be unable to placate her.
At this time, a low palace maid came and delivered two bottles of wound medicine, saying it was for those who were beaten.
Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun each took a bottle and started helping the two apply the medicine.
Qiao Lian was normally arrogant but at the moment even she was in floods of tears, let alone Xi’er who hadn’t stopped crying since the beginning.
“Alright, don’t cry anymore. Although Auntie Chen had you beaten with the plank, she was also teaching you the rules. Those who carried out the punishment weren’t heavy-handed, otherwise after ten strokes you would be on the floor without even being able to stand unsteadily.” Xiao Hua helped Xi’er apply medicine as she sighed and spoke.
“That’s easy for you to say, you weren’t the one who got beaten!” Qiao Lian said resentfully.
Xiao Hua’s expression froze and she didn’t retort. After helping Xi’er apply medicine, she put the medicine bottle down and faintly said: “I’m going to go eat lunch.”
Xiu Yun was also done helping Qiao Lian with the medicine and hurriedly stood up, “Xiao Hua, I’ll go with you.” Feeling the awkward atmosphere, she spoke again: “I’ll go eat with Xiao Hua first, and bring you guys some food back later.”
Two of them went for lunch and returned with some food for the other two.
Because she was truly afraid of Qiao Lian’s mouth, Xiao Hua placed the bowl on the table and propped herself up on her bed. Xiu Yun didn’t say anything and also placed the food in her hands on the table.
No matter how dense Xi’er was, she could tell something wasn’t right and slowly pulled herself up as she went to eat by the table. Having worked all morning and then suffering a beaten, she was starving.
Qiao Lian glared at the simple minded Xi’er, and then looked at the other two who seemed to be minding their own business and said mockingly: “Don’t you like to pretend to be good people? Why don’t you feed us? You guys are really heartless. Having lived in the same room for so long, don’t you know to take care of the wounded?”
“Qiao Lian, it’s not as though you can’t move, why would you make others feed you? Come eat quickly, the food is getting cold.” Xi’er also wasn’t willing to talk to Qiao Lian, but seeing her mock Xiao Hua and Xiu Yun, she couldn’t help but say a few words.
Qiao Lian snapped at her, “Who asked for your opinion?!”
All at once the room became silent. Face red, Xi’er angrily closed her mouth, though her movements while eating became excessively fierce.
Low-ranked palace maids were the lowest in status amongst the servants of the Jing Prince Estate. Even if they were beaten, they still had to perform their duties.
This time as they went to sweep, the group included a few who walked very stiffly, clearly those who were beaten the day before.
After this event, all the low palace maids kept their nerves taut, deeply afraid of being beaten over one thing or another.
Xiao Hua saw Xi’er trembling in fear for a few days and couldn’t help but say to her, “As long as you keep the estate’s rules in mind and follow them there’s no need to live in fear.”
Xi’er didn’t believe it at first, but after some thought felt it made some sense. Because Auntie Chen had said on that day they were being punished for violating estate rules, and so they were beaten.
She knew there were many articles in the estate rules, so much so that every afternoon if there were no chores a mid-ranked palace maid would come and go through the rules with them. There were a total of forty major rules and a hundred and twenty minor ones, many of them being very trivial.
These palace maids didn’t know these rules were just an abridged version of the actual imperial palace rules, which had many more articles.
Even so, they were enough to make Xi’er feel anxious. Her memory had never been good, how could she remember so many rules? Qiao Lian mocked Xiao Hua on the surface for being a know-it-all, but clearly put in an extreme amount of effort herself during rule review.
Xiao Hua declined to comment.
If you want to muddle along in a place, you have to be familiar with the rules of the game. The places she had stayed in before, though they didn’t have many estate rules, still had many rules that were taught by the matrons. If she didn’t remember clearly or didn’t follow them, she would be criticized. Missing a meal would be a light punishment and getting beaten would be a heavier one.
Therefore ever since mid-ranked palace maids started teaching them estate rules, Xiao Hua had been especially diligent and had more or less memorized all of the estate’s rules.
Regarding why those palace maids failed to kneel after Su Yan’s reminder that day, Xi’er explained her own situation. According to her, she had been awestruck at seeing his highness, though she didn’t know if that was the case for everyone.
Hearing Qiao Lian scold her in humiliation to “stop spreading rumors”, Xiao Hua realized that was the case for Qiao Lian as well.
How good looking could a guy be?
Xiao Hua thought to herself in amusement and in the blink of an eye put the thought in the back of her mind.
But within a few days, word of his highness’s incredibly handsome appearance had spread amongst the low-ranked palace maids. Xiao Hua could see the eyes of those who secretly discussed it radiate a longing adoration.
What teenage girl didn’t yearn for love, especially from one who was exceptionally handsome with such a majestic status. To embody wealth and status, to embody someone who was above others, to embody flying up into the skies, as long as you were a person, you probably would have such desires.
When Xiao Hua first entered the Jinyang Marquis Estate in her past life as a sweeper maid, she also encountered such a situation, though the object of desire back then was the 4th young master instead of his highness. The 4th young master was young and handsome, as well as innocent without any chambermaids yet. He could be said to be the dream of many sweeper maids.
After reincarnating and seeing such a scene once again, Xiao Hua only smiled bitterly and had no other thoughts.
Translator’s notes: For those of you dissatisfied at the male lead’s brief appearance I’m gonna direct your curses to the author’s note below.
Male lead: “…..” Look! I, this humble prince, have appeared.
Author: “Say something!”
Male Lead: “…..” Look! I, this humble prince, have appeared.
Author is angry: “You damn brat, who taught you not to speak?”
Male Lead: “….” My mother taught me.
Author: “sigh, let me formally introduce my house’s damn brat. What he was trying to say was that he appeared. Please see the fifth paragraph ‘through the corner of her eyes she saw a black pair of dragon engraved boots and the lower hem of a purple colored robe’….yep just like that.”