The Cultivation of the Maid - 2
Arc 1: Palace Maid of the Abandoned Imperial Concubine in the Cold Palace
Translated by ILoveToProcrastinate
A pure white space; the end couldn’t be seen at a glance.
There are no buildings, no doors, and no objects. But, all creatures who came in for the first time would know what this place was and understood the rules and significance of the place.
A faint ripple suddenly appeared in the air. A delicate and timid image of a pathetic body stepped into a gate, using a hand for support on the invisible door frame to step in. On the back of her light green palace dress, it was full of bloodstains. She appeared to be aged twelve or thirteen. Her deathly pale, small face looked up and down with unfamiliarity and awe at the strange world in front of her. She didn’t have a delicate appearance, other than the teardrop mole at the right corner of her eye that improved her appearance slightly.
“Is this a place created by the gods? I was clearly killed by the flogging stick……”
The palace maid sized it up with panic. However, before she finished mumbling to herself, a piece of information made all of her thoughts in her brain stop suddenly. It couldn’t be discerned if her complexion fluctuated between excitement, fear, or joyful expectation. She dropped all of her worries and immediately knelt to the void, prostrating on the ground.
“Immortal! Su Yu, this slave servant, asks the immortal to save my imperial concubine!” She kowtowed forcefully and cried loudly and prayed, “The imperial concubine, she is almost dead, please save her! This slave servant wants her to always be well and no longer be humiliated by others. Even if you want to take this slave servant’s reincarnation in the next life to trade for it, I’m also willing!”
There was still no trace of live breath in the pure white space, but a question appeared in the palace maid’s mind.
“No regrets!” the palace maid firmly said.
If there was no imperial concubine, not to mention that she would’ve died three years ago, her parents and her younger brother who had suffered from a disaster at home would also be a pile of dried up bones. How could she be willing to let her kindhearted master die of illness in the shabby cold palace? Even if she had to use her next life to exchange for it, she also wouldn’t hesitate.
Deep in the palace courtyard, a flogging was currently being carried out in a secluded corner.
“Twenty-seven! Twenty-eight! Twenty-nine……thirty!”
Along with the loud shouting of counting, the thick punishment stick fell mercilessly on the waist and legs of the petite figure lying on the bench. The pale green palace dress had already been covered with the color of bright red blood.
In the beginning, the little palace maid had still been shouting in pain and crying was now silent and motionless. The blood was dripping down along her soaked clothes, forming a pool of blood under the bench.
Everyone looked on coldly, including the eunuch in charge who had given the order for the flogging.
“Without permission, she left her duties and almost collided into a dignitary. Such a servant girl without rules and regulations is not needed in the palace.”
Seeing that the thirty beatings were finished, De Hai left the tea offered by the little eunuch. While he coldly spoke, he got up. As one of the eight eunuchs in charge of the Imperial Palace, he hated the unruly servants the most. Following the regulations, the little palace maid was punished. Without caring if she could survive the severe punishment or not, he left directly.
When the eunuch was about to leave, the following palace people at one side naturally also followed suit. No one cared whether the little palace maid who had made a mistake was alive or dead. In the deep palace, it’s very common for deaths to happen. It was already not bad to be a low ranking servant who could live in fear. Even if you saw the badly mangled appearance out of the corner of your eyes, you could only inwardly shiver in your heart and remind yourself that you absolutely can’t be like her and a wrong step means death.
Yes, no one thought that she could survive. Looking at the prior situation, the experienced palace people had already judged in their hearts that she had already died midway.
However, just as De Hai passed her carelessly and was about to leave, the hem of his robe suddenly seemed to be caught by something, and he looked down to unexpectedly see that it was the little maid who had grabbed it and had been previously thought to be dead.
De Hai subconsciously pulled, but it unexpectedly did not move. He couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows and angrily glare.
“Bold!” a little eunuch immediately pulled her hand to separate them, but the other side refused to let go. Instead, it made De Hai embarrassed. The most important eunuch didn’t want to continue to get caught up in this kind of pulling, so he quickly waved away these useless people.
“What do you want to say to us?” It was already pretty good not to be killed after enduring thirty strokes. With her remaining breath, she didn’t think about her life and unexpectedly pulled on him firmly. Thinking of how she had rushed over anxiously and flustered, De Hai, who had been angry, couldn’t help but get interested.
“Gong……Gong……” the shout came out from the mouth of the little maid. (1) She was dying and didn’t even have the strength to raise her head. “My imperial concubine……The wind is cold and her fever is high without end……I’m afraid I can’t make it……Please……help……help……”
For a moment, there was a sudden silence all around. Many palace people’s faces were frozen in shock. The person on the bench only continuously oozed blood, proving that the scene in front of them wasn’t deathly still.
She was obviously helpless and even was in imminent danger. But when death was at hand, the little maid actually thought about her misfortunate master. Even if she only had one breath left, she only thought about getting help for another person.
“Before, did the girl say that it was the Jingxi Palace?” After quite a while, De Hai opened his mouth.
Someone immediately replied respectfully: “Yes, she serves Jingxi Palace’s imperial concubine Rong Pin.”
When it came to the Jingxi palace, everyone in the palace knew that it was actually the cold palace. Not only did Rong Pin live in it, but all the guilty concubines who have made mistakes would be sent there. The guilty concubines who went there were considered to have their lives to be finished. Not only would they never have the chance to see the emperor again, but they would also be trapped in this place all their lives. Even their living and eating conditions were not as good as the ordinary palace people and without an accident, there was practically no chance to free oneself.
And Rong Pin, before she went to the cold palace, she was still a superior imperial concubine and her parents’ family was a powerful general’s house, so it was reasonable to say that she could live like a fish back in water in the harem. (2) It’s a pity that General Shen died in battle and a city was robbed by an enemy country half a year ago. In addition, she conspired to murder Virtuous Consort’s unborn Prince not long later. (3) The matter was leaked and His Majesty had personally removed her imperial concubine position and sent her to the Jingxi palace.
As the eunuch in charge, De Hai knew that the situation inside was not so simple, but he was even more clear on what to say and what not to say. The matter had passed by for half a year, already no one cared about Rong Pin’s existence or the abandoned imperial concubines who had been worn down until they died of illness and had no value for concern.
“Go find a female doctor to take a look at imperial concubine Rong Pin. Hurry up.” It was extremely difficult for an imperial concubine who lost power to find a doctor when she was ill, but the matter only required a word for De Hai, a eunuch of this level.
In the palace, the imperial physicians in the imperial hospital were not the only ones who could treat illnesses. After all, the inner courtyard of the harem was full of womenfolk. Sometimes, it was more convenient to find a female doctor than an imperial physician.
The little eunuch hurried to take the order and left because his superior told him to hurry up. The sound of his footsteps was also urgent. It was miraculous, just after the palace person who had accepted the order left, the little maid who had firmly held his robe immediately let go and let her arms hang down and the whole person lay there without budging.
De Hai was stunned. As soon as his brows wrinkled up, his beloved adopted son moved forward, step by step, stooped and reached out to check her breath: “Adoptive father, there is still breathing……”
“Contrary to what one might expect, her life is resolute.” Hearing that she was still alive, De Hai’s heart also relaxed. “Well, it’s rare to meet such a loyal person. Take her to go treat her injuries, and then see if she can live with her own luck.” Many palace people had survived the beatings, but they died on the way to recuperation. That’s the same sentence, it’s not unusual for people to die in the palace.
His voice fell, and immediately a courteous small eunuch went over to carry her away which was quite different from the previous unfeelingness. The action of carrying her was done carefully, obviously to make the little maid suffer less.
Everyone in the deep palace lived cautiously; not only the palace servants but also the imperial concubines were like this. There were lots of mutual deception and backstabbing. It was especially rare to have steadfast loyalty in times of adversity. Even if the friendship wasn’t for you, you couldn’t help but help out when seeing a situation without conflict.
Just like a fire in the distance in the dark, even if you can’t get warmth from it, just watching it shine, there is a kind of inexplicable comfort in your heart.
As one of the eunuchs in charge, De Hai had a lot of things to do. When he finally had time to rest, his considerate son told him all the news he heard as detailed stories while he offered tea.
“She’s called Su Yu. She entered the palace three years ago. Before Rong Pin entered the palace, she had been bullied by others when she was working as a sweeper in Warm Consort’s palace. (4) When Rong Pin had just entered the palace, she was favored. Unexpectedly, she met the little maid who had been framed and who was almost flogged to death by the Warm Consort’s order. Thus, she [Rong Pin] begged passionately and got her [the maid] as her subordinate. Later, she continuously worked under Rong Ping. During this time, Rong Pin gave her some money to pay her family, and she has always been loyal to Rong Pin ever since then. Half a year ago, when Rong Pin’s matter happened, all the eunuchs and maids under her had the means to find another home and those who did not have the means kept away from Rong Pin. Only this little maid invited herself to the Jingxi palace, which everyone avoided, in order to continue to serve Rong Pin.”
So it was like this.
De Hai put down his teacup and understood why the little maid would have steadfast loyalty to Rong Pin, but he smiled sarcastically on his gentle and reserved face: “Repay the favor? I remember that Rong Pin made friends with many imperial concubines before losing her power and she was very generous to her subordinates. Especially her dowry maid at that time, Su Lan. Oh……she should be called Lan Changzai now. Before Lan Changzai entered the palace, she and her family received quite a lot of favor from the general’s house. Her older brother had been removed from slavery for a long time and could study for preliminary rounds of imperial examinations. This year, he had even gotten Tanhua and was sent to the Dali Temple by His Majesty?” (5)
The little eunuch bowed his head and didn’t speak, but he disdainfully curled his lip. She [Lan Changzai] had used the master to climb the Emperor’s bed sneakily. The old master had now been demoted to the cold palace for half a year. Let alone visit her, even people didn’t show concern verbally. Although this is the normal situation in the palace, in order to climb to the top, not to mention conscience, even dignity could be thrown away and trampled on the ground. There was nothing to say about everyone doing this, but that was only when there was nothing to compare it to.
Once there was a contrast, it really was like……people should die.
“What about the little maid?”
“I’ve already let the female doctor put medicine. She’s OK.”
De Hai nodded and asked, “How is the situation with Rong Pin?”
“Her fever has subsided. The female doctor said that her body was weak because she is always hungry. Now when it’s cool in autumn, she was on verge of death.”
Hungry? It was normal for the imperial concubines of the Jingxi palace, whose status was not as good as that of ordinary palace people. Not only did it close off Rong Pin who made mistakes, but also other imperial concubines. Even the imperial concubine Chen Taifei of the former emperor was also in it. (6) But that person already went crazy.
Jingxi palace was also the cold palace. Unless it was necessary, the palace rarely spent money here for repair. So it’s conceivable that the environment is dilapidated. The palace people who are sent here have to serve a bunch of angry women and crazy concubines. Plus the resentment that they may not come out in this lifetime, it was strange if they had a good attitude towards their “master” in there. Bullying was almost a common occurrence.
“Xiao Linzi, go to the Jingxi palace to have a look when you are free in a few days,” the eunuch [De Hai] said suddenly.
Speaking of which, the Jingxi palace, which had been deliberately forgotten by the whole Imperial Palace, was also within the scope of De Hai’s authority and supervision. It’s only been two years since he climbed to this position, and it even took a half year’s effort to completely stabilize and train his team. If not for today’s scene, the small cold palace absolutely would not be remembered.
With the order of his superior, the little eunuch naturally responded respectfully, and then was waved back to rest.
In the late autumn night, the wind blew. Apart from the palace people who sounded the night watches and the guards on duty, the whole palace had already rested.
At this time, in a narrow room full of the strong smell of medicine and blood, the little maid who had been continuously sleeping suddenly opened her eyes. Her face was pale and bloodless. Her ordinary appearance only had a teardrop mole in the corner of her eye, which added some color. However, when her unshakable eyes opened, the temperament of her whole person was completely different from that of her appearance.
“The hopeless situation has passed, and the imperial concubine has survived. Next……”
Her voice was very low, like a whisper, until it could be hardly heard at the end. Her moving lips and eyes were closed quietly. This body injury was very serious and it needed a good rest.
- 公公 (gong gong) refers to a eunuch.
- 如鱼得水 (living like a fish back in water) means to live in a suitable environment.
- The Chinese for “Virtuous Consort” is 德妃 (Defei).
- The Chinese for “Warm Consort” is 淑妃 (Shufei).
- 探花 (Tanhua) refers to the candidate who came third in the Han-lin examination and Dali Temple (大理寺) corresponds to the modern supreme court.
- 太妃 (Taifei) refers to the imperial concubine of the late emperor.