Gaining A Servant Girl
Xiao Yuan’s long eyebrows furrowed. She gave Hong Luan an unhappy look and it was clear she had run out of patience.
“If you do not accept those conditions, then we must follow our family’s rules. While you may be my servant girl, a mistake is a mistake. I cannot outright protect you from punishment. If today you had been wrongly accused, then I would do everything in my power to contend for your innocence, but were you wrongly accused?”
Xiao Yuan walked step by step closer to her. Hong Luan was so shocked that a chill run down her spine. She suddenly felt like Xiao Yuan’s fierce gaze could scare someone to death and it seemed like Xiao Yuan could see right through her.
“This servant girl…”
Hong Luan’s mouth twitched. In front of all these people, Hong Luan felt utterly ashamed and badly wanted to find a hole somewhere to crawl into. She cast a sweeping gaze before directing her line of sight onto Hong Xiu. Hong Xiu’s lips curled into a sneer and she pretended as if she had not noticed Hong Luan looking at her, but in her heart, she was pleased with the turn of events.
Hong Luan had been detestable and she deserved a good punishment. Her actions almost resulted in the miss losing her life and now she was ruining the miss’s reputation. She deserved to be hit.
“Hit her!” Xiao Yuan cast a gaze at a few of the elderly servants, “Don’t show any mercy. Hit her thirty times and don’t skip even one. Hit her right here!”
Very quickly, a few of the elderly servants came forth and grabbed a hold of Hong Luan. They retrieved a long wooden bench and dragged Hong Luan on top of it.
After suffering two strikes of the board, Hong Luan couldn’t hold back her blood-curdling screams. The sounds of her screams echoed throughout the entire garden and up towards the sky.
Fan gave Xiao Yuan a look, she felt like Xiao Yuan was different from before. Ever since she returned from the Da Zhao temple, Xiao Yuan was no longer close with her and distanced herself even more from Xiao Ruo and Xiao Ying. She had rather become closer to the old madam.
Fan felt like this turn of events wasn’t good and carefully thought about things. Xiao Ruo and her had been forced to their current situation because of Xiao Yuan because in everyone else’s eyes, Xiao Yuan was the victim.
“Little Ninth.” Fan wanted to walk over but Xiao Yuan noticed it out of the corner of her eye and with an emotionless expression, took a few steps back.
“Do you two not have enough strength? Hit her hard for me. You mustn’t miss a single one.”
Xiao Wan redirected her line of sight and it fell on Cai Ju. Cai Ju’s entire body was trembling.
“If you don’t give me a witness that can prove your innocence, then you’ll be punished with ten strikes.”
Cai Ju was taken aback and she looked around in a circle. All of the maidservants retreated and cowered. As Cai Ju grew more anxious, her face became flushed red, but then she locked onto one of the maidservants in the crowd.
“Bai Sheng, at the time, you were nearby sweeping. Did you see anything?”
The maidservant called Bai Sheng immediately took a few steps back. “I saw absolutely nothing.”
Cai Ju bit her lip and was somewhat discouraged, “Ninth Miss, this servant girl will accept her punishment.”
Xiao Yuan cast a sideways glance at Cai Ju. This girl had a very keen eye and went straight for her target. Her observation abilities were exquisite and, on top of that, she was still young and filled with shrewdness. She was exactly Xiao Yuan’s type.
Xiao Yuan’s red lips parted. Cai Ju also didn’t struggle and tightly bit down on her lip while tears started falling from her eyes.
After suffering ten strikes, Xiao Yuan looked at Hong Xiu. Hong Xiu nodded at Cai Ju before she got up and held onto Cai Ju.
Cai Ju was numb from the waist down and was trembling from the pain. Her small face had gone deathly pale and big beads of sweat fell from her forehead.
Suddenly, Xiao Yuan pointed to Cai Ju and said to Fan, “Mother, Little Ninth just so happens to be lacking a senior maidservant so Little Ninth will take Cai Ju.”
Fan was surprised, “Little Ninth, Cai Ju is still young. Tomorrow mother will ask the yapo* to come and pick a few girls for you. Cai Ju is used to doing unskilled manual labor. How can she enter the rooms and serve you?”
(TN: A yapo is someone who specializes in selling girls to be servants.)
Cai Ju abruptly raised her head and was thoroughly surprised. How could the Ninth Miss possibly want her?
Hearing this, Hong Luan’s eyes suddenly rolled up into her head and she fainted.
“Mother, it’s because she’s still young that I want her. Little Ninth wants to personally train her. If she proves incapable, I can always switch her for someone else.”
Xiao Yuan maintained her position and Fan could only accept.
After the strikes were finished, Xiao Yuan waved her hand. “Summon the manor physician.”
Hong Xiu nodded and got two other maidservants to help carry Hong Luan while she personally supported Cai Ju and the two of them slowly returned to the Ling Long pavilion.
The many maidservants in the courtyard had drastically different opinions of Xiao Yuan’s actions. Some of them were envious of Cai Ju as she had been promoted from the position of a rankless maidservant in charge of manual labor to becoming a maidservant serving at the side of the Ninth Miss. Her suffering these ten hits was certainly worth it then.
However, there were also those that did not understand what had happened and thought that Xiao Yuan had been too headstrong and unreasonable.
Hearing this, Xiao Yuan just laughed it off but just as she was leaving, Fan grabbed onto her arm.
“Little Ninth, mother has some things she needs to discuss with you. I don’t care about what outsiders say, but mother understands that you must certainly be displeased with how mother has been siding with your Fifth sister. Little Ninth, mother has always treated you as if you were my own child. After all these years, you understand how mother feels about you.”
As Fan spoke, the rims of her eyes started to turn red. “It was your Fifth Sister that failed to live up to expectations and ruined your arranged marriage. But mother was unable to do anything as well.”
Xiao Yuan smiled faintly and removed her arm from Fan’s grasp. “Mother is thinking too much. What Grandmother said was right, I care about both of you. Whatever Mother does, Little Ninth will not blame you.”
When Fan heard this, her brows furrowed with worry. “If you say that it just means you’re still angry with mother. Your Fifth Sister was disgraceful and offended you. This time, mother will definitely teach her a lesson. At the very start, mother had no idea that your Fifth Sister was this stupid. If I had known earlier, I would’ve broken her legs and never have let her go outside.”
According to the old madam, biological children and stepchildren were not the same. Usually it was not possible to tell but once something came up, the difference was as clear as night and day and their rankings became distinct.
Fan spoke again, “If there is anyway you can work off your anger, mother will listen to you. There is just one thing. Your Fifth Sister just went through a miscarriage so she cannot be exposed to the wind and cold. If she is, she could be left with life long side effects. After her health fully recovers, mother will definitely request her to personally make amends and apologize to you.”
Fan had thought about it and realized that Xiao Ruo was done for if they left. The only person who could change the old madam’s mind was Xiao Yuan.
Xiao Yuan sneered, “It’s clear that mother cares about Fifth Sister the most. Little Ninth has treated Fifth Sister as if she were my blood sister. If Fifth Sister had even breathed a word about her feelings, Little Ninth would have certainly given him up so why did she go behind my back?”
The more Xiao Yuan spoke, the angrier she became to the point that her small chest was heaving up and down. At this moment, Man Zhi coincidentally was walking by, she looked over and saw how anxious Fan was. Xiao Yuan had already walked far away, feeling both furious and helpless.
Upon returning to the Ling Long pavilion, Xiao Yuan went to go see Cai Ju. Cai Ju was surprised.
Xiao Yuan bent over at the waist and said quietly, “What did you notice today?”
Cai Ju stared blankly and bit her lip. She thought for awhile before speaking, “This servant girl didn’t notice anything today.”
When Xiao Yuan heard this, she stood up and chuckled, “After today, you must make sure to notice things. You better not fail to live up to my expectations. If I’m wrong, there’ll be punishment. There’ll be awards and there’ll be punishments.”
“Ninth Miss, this servant girl knows she made a mistake. This servant girl shouldn’t be so concerned with other people’s business.”
Cai Ju had originally resented Xiao Yuan, but that resentment had vanished completely and the only feeling that remained was admiration. The previous impression she had of Xiao Yuan had suddenly been overturned.
In Xiao Yuan’s eyes was a flash of something wise and worldly. When Cai Ju saw it, she became distracted and lowered her head out of shame.
“Thank you so much Ninth Miss for the promotion. From now on, Cai Ju will definitely not fail to live up to the miss’ expectations.”
Xiao Yuan nodded. “First recover your health, I am not in a rush.”