Xiao Fu Zi’s1 backstory.
“Stubborn donkey, your dad’s calling you for dinner.”……
“Stubborn donkey, the bastard from the village over hit me. Help me beat him up.”……
Back then, they were still young. They were from the same village, and were even neighbors. The two seven, eight year old kids always played together. After their village flooded, they had been separated.
The next time they saw each other was many years later. He was the eunuch Xiao Fu Zi and she had become palace maid Aunt Xiu.2 Although she had changed a lot in appearance, he was able to recognize her at a glance. He himself had also changed, but she also recognized him right away, and even called out “stubborn donkey”.
Stubborn donkey was his nickname.
Afterwards he found out that she had gotten separated from her family and ended up in the palace after various twists and turns. As for him, his family truly couldn’t last any longer and were all about to starve to death. His father heard that eunuchs could eat their fill within the palace, and could also be exchanged for several silver taels, and thus sent him over.
They had both tempered themselves within the palace for several years already, and were no longer the two innocent children from before. He was the low-ranked eunuch who had clung onto the legs of the main hall’s eunuch. She was the low-ranked palace maid doing odd jobs in the needlework department.
For the sake for self-preservation, or perhaps so that the two could stay together and cover each other, they used various methods and connections to be assigned to Attendant Li together.
Many people couldn’t understand why Xiao Fu Zi, who had successfully gotten a high-ranking adoptive father and was full of potential, would choose to let himself go to waste by an unfavored attendant’s side.
No one knew what Xiao Fu Zi was thinking.
Life at Attendant Li’s side was very peaceful. Although it unavoidably invited disdain, it was better since there were no struggles, and there was no risk of suddenly losing one’s life. Xiao Fu Zi was extremely satisfied.
Then Attendant Li got pregnant.
At first, Xiao Fu Zi had actually been very annoyed. He was sure he would get caught up in things again, and it seemed like he couldn’t avoid it no matter where he hid. But Attendant Li unexpectedly chose to give birth in secret.
The fifth prince was thus born.
Xiao Fu Zi had thought his peaceful days were done.
However, Attendant Li still chose to continue hiding.
Sometimes Xiao Fu Zi would secretly rejoice. Having been able to spend several years in peace, he truly wasn’t interested in being attacked from all sides. But looking at the little baby who was shut in the dark room and had never seen the light of day, he would feel a sort of heartache.
The only other time he had felt this sort of heartache was when he witnessed her3 get slapped by a high-ranked palace maid.
That event was also what had made him decide to remove himself from those struggles. He had thought about secretly causing that palace maid’s death, but for her sake, and for the sake of their future, he decided to retract his claws.
Attendant Li seemed to have become a little vacant, and the responsibility of caring for the baby had fallen upon the two of them. Although they only saw him briefly every day, affection seemed to have sprouted during these moments.
Looking at the baby fifth prince who seemed to become more and more like a wooden doll with each passing day, the two of them would also feel panic, worry and grief. But they were only servants. What could they say? They could only watch helplessly.
When the fifth prince was finally revealed to others, Attendant Li was also conferred as an imperial concubine. Unfortunately the Venerated Concubine passed away not long after. The wooden fifth prince became even more wooden, and became extremely hated by the emperor.
Having a high status didn’t guarantee a good life. At least, Xiao Fu Zi didn’t think that becoming the fifth prince’s high-ranked eunuch was a good thing.
If even the master wasn’t doing well, how could the servant be doing any better?
“Others say that you are this prince’s royal brother. As a mute, aren’t you afraid of embarrassing others…?”
“Kick him, hurry and kick him…..”
“A mute like you should just hide in your room. Coming out would only attract resentment….”
“That’s right. The emperor’s son? Don’t make this prince laugh his head off……”
Such a little child was pushed and pinched by those older than him, and even fists and feet were involved. There were countless palace maids and eunuchs standing on the side, but not one of them stepped up to prevent it. Those people only worried whether their own masters would end up hurting their fists end feet, how could they care about the pain of that little child on the floor?
But Xiao Fu Zi couldn’t allow it. He could be said to have raised him over many years. Despite knowing that he may be throwing his life away, and may end up suffering a tragic end, he still rushed up.
As he rushed up to shield that little child, he continuous spoke with his mouth: “Princes, highnesses, please stop hurting your own fists and feet. His majesty would be furious if you got hurt…..”
His face contained a humble smile and his words were flattering but not overdone.
Was it humiliating?
But no matter how humiliating, he still had to protect the person in his arms.
As expected, once those princes realized that if things got out of hand their father would also punish them, they slowly ceased their movements. But the resentment in their hearts was hard to bear. They let the little one off, but this servant could be used to vent their anger.
The result was Xiao Fu Zi being hung on a tree and whipped several tens of times. The servants on the side watched silently, and no one said a word.
The heavens had decided to preserve a breath of life in him. After getting back, he sprawled in bed on his last breath while she hugged the small child and cried inconsolably.
After that time, the child never left his doors again. Unless absolutely necessary, he remained in his own palace hall.
Such a small child seemed to have already matured.
While his master didn’t go out, Xiao Fu Zi wasn’t able to do the same.
How could one just shut himself away? A recluse could be schemed to death by someone and no one would be any wiser. Since they had to survive in this dirty world, they had to be resolved to roll about in the mud.
Although he was no longer the same person he was when he entered the palace, he once again started bending his knees and flattering others. His face could be smiling like a chrysanthemum, or cold like the King of Hell…..
Outside the palace hall he was a lackey, someone who could be cursed at and beaten. Inside the palace hall he managed the few people tightly until they were all well behaved…..
Towards those he couldn’t offend, he was able to flatter and fawn. He could endure their insults, could kneel and beg for forgiveness, could act like a grandson or a dog. Towards those he could offend, he could use his connections to intimidate, bully them based on his position, and his feet could stomp down harsher than anyone else…..
To survive in the palace and to be able to protect someone, you have to discard your dignity and be willing to be ruthless.
What use did he have for dignity? Could it be eaten?
Many palace maids and eunuchs said that the high-ranked eunuch by the fifth prince’s side was a talented person.
Was he talented?
Perhaps, but it was merely for the sake of survival.
To protect him.
And also to protect her.
She had changed her way of doing things and changed her personality. She seemed to have matured in an instant. She would follow the rules to the letter, and grew more cautious every day…..
Others may not know what they fought for, but the two of them knew.
The child grew older day by day, but his personality never changed.
The two of them grew worried, but were also at a loss. They had too much to do and too much to worry about. They could only watch how things developed……
Xiao Fu Zi would always think that one day they could escape from this palace hall where they couldn’t see the daylight. One day….
At that time, this already grown child would finally be able to smile, right?
This was Eunuch Fu’s origins which probably disappointed those who wanted to bully him….
Although the female lead’s sore spot is still present, we have to realize that Xiao Hua is very smart and would be able to see through things. Just because she was temporarily unable to see through it doesn’t mean this would always be how she handled things. It could also be her sixth sense warning her.
At least since that day, she has never said anything or brought it up to the Jing Prince. The Jing Prince naturally understands the meaning behind it, otherwise he wouldn’t be so cold towards Eunuch Fu. (Perhaps an ordinary foolish woman would continue complaining about it, and do her best to trample on him. Once may be fine, twice may be fine, but who would the Jing Prince lean towards as time passed?)
Please don’t underestimate someone who has accompanied him ever since he was young. Even if he isn’t good, and although from your perspective he isn’t good, he still wouldn’t be gotten rid of. Occasionally showing an aggrieved yet unclear appearance to the Jing Prince is a hundred thousand times more useful than crying and making a fuss. (It’s a little like conflicts between a wife and her mother-in-law. Although this author doesn’t have a mother-in-law, I’ve seen too many such cases around me. A family is born from affection. Those who don’t agree shouldn’t scoff at it, because nothing in this world is absolute, and not everyone can relate to this example.)
- Xiao __ Zi seems to be the title for low ranked eunuchs. So Xiao Xia Zi might someday be known as Eunuch Xia. Roughly translated, the appellation means Little Boy.
- I had previously translated it as Elegant Aunt, but from the context here I think “Xiu” might be her first name so I’ll leave it like this for now.
- Referring to Auntie Qi. I like how the author uses the pronoun “her” without context, since it implies that there is only one “her” that was this important to him. Added this note in case it doesn’t come across as well in English.