Sunday, February 26, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife) : Chapter 2.2 - A Side Consort is still a Concubine


Standing next to Feng Side Consort was Jiang Side Consort, Jiang Yong Xu. Upon hearing this Jiang Side Consort tried to hide her smile as she lowered her head. Feng Side Consort had always used a fake facade of being warm and friendly, to invoke the sense of pity in His Highness, but Her Highness had said the exact opposite hinting at her split personality. It would seem that this Prince Consort is not as soft-spoken and weak as the rumors would have it. Rather this Prince Consort who had just entered the prince’s residence had her own way of doing things.

Seeing that Qu Qing Ju was ridiculing at her, Feng Side Consort was struggling to keep the smile on her face as anger raised within her. “You Highness , please do not jest. This lowly one does not deserve such compliments. What us lowly ones admire about Your Highness is your open-mindedness and innocent heart.”

“What this Prince Consort is like has already been stated very clearly by His Majesty when this marriage was being bestowed”, Qu Qing Ju smiling gazed at Feng Side Consort, as if in surprise that this little concubine dared to discuss the behavior and etiquette of the main wife. She continued, “ His Majesty’s words are set in god and his eyes are sharp as that of a dragon’s, naturally His Majesty sees things more clearer than anyone in this world.”

With those words, Feng Side Consort’s words were stuck in her throat unable to come out. Bringing put the emperor, what else could she say? The Prince Consort was personally handpicked by His Majesty. She was but a insignificant Side Consort who had not position against the highly esteemed Emperor. Even His Highness, the prince, could not say anything about that.

There were only 4 imperial sons that had survived to adulthood and the Emperor was already reaching his sixth decade on the throne. Although the struggle of for the throne was not obvious, behind the scenes a storm was already brewing; making all of the imperial sons cautious in their actions.

Her Highness, the Prince Consort, had dared to say something this audacious, using the words of the Emperor to her advantage and twisting its meaning, clearly aware the even His Highness could not repudiate her status and position as his wife.

Recalling the imperial decrees mentioned the words like ‘naturally outstanding’, ‘virtuous’ and ‘of good standing’ etc… If the Emperor had declared the Prince Consort as virtuous and of good fortune, who could refute? Having a bitter smile on her dace, Feng Side Consort curtsied a full bow and clarified, “Have mercy Your Highness, this lowly one has spoken wrongly.”

Sighing Qu Qing Ju said, “Whatever that is said in front of me is fine and within the confines of this prince residence, however if word of this were to get outside and rumors spread that I am unable to maintain the discipline with int the prince’s residence, it might be a minor matter but it would be a different matter if the Prince of Duan’s Residence is shamed.” She added, “As someone who has the most seniority in this household, I should not need to waste my words any further.”

Seeing an opportunity, Jiang Side Consort come forward with a bow and interrupted, “It is our honor as Your Highness is showing your concern for us lowly servants.” She continued, “We may have spent more time in the prince’s residence but as lowly concubines are certainly not as respected and knowledgeable as Your Highness. We have certainly learned a valuable lesson.”

The other 3 present did not think that Jiang Side Consort would actually lower herself to such a degree of respect to the Prince Consort. Although their hearts held disdain and disrespect for the Prince Consort, outwardly they showed looks of agreement.

Fend Side Consort looked at Jiang Side Consort in displeasure, inwardly thinking to herself that Jiang Side Consort was a cunning one trying to gain favor with the Prince Consort as her background was not that of nobility nor of high standing.

Observing the colourful expressions on each of the concubines faces, Qu Qing Ju used her hand to prop her chin on the armrest as she tapped her right index finger on the chair. Out of the 4 women who were in front of her, Feng Side Consort, whose name was Feng Zi Jin , had the noblest background: her father was a third ranking minister in the Ministry of Works. Jiang Side Consort, known by her name Jiang Yong Yu, on the other hand was the daughter of an official who held a sixth-rank position.

As for the other two concubines, they were even lowly down in the ranks. Han Qing He, Madam Han’s father was only an eight-ranked official and she was only promoted to a concubine as she was the one who had taught Prince Duan on matters of adulthood. Madam Lou, Luo Yin Xiu, was fatherless and was dependent on her uncle who held the position of a seventh-ranking official in the Department of Transportation.

By appearances, Feng Zi Jin could be consider the most beautiful, Jiang Yong Yu was be second. Just like her name, Han Qing He was clean looking. On the other hand, Luo Yin Xiu was just as unremarkable as her personality. These 4 women, together with those few unmentionable lower concubines that warmed the Prince’s bed were enough to cause the original owner of this body to be critically ill. They were not simple creatures at all.

“Of course, it would be good to remember”, Qu Qing Ju said as she stood up, holding on to Mu Jin’s hand for support as she started to walk outside. Seeing her leave, the concubines followed her out to the courtyard. The courtyard had been cleaned of any aftermath of the punishment that took place earlier.

Squinting her eyes as she took a quick look towards the sky, Qu Qing Ju turned her gaze to the four concubines and commented, “ The weather today is not too bad. Accompany me for a walk. After so many days being sick and cooped up in the palace, there wasn't any time to bond with you, my sisters. Let us remedy that from today onward, step by step.”

In other residences, when the main wife was sick, would any concubine lower than the main wife not pay their respects and show their concern? Only in the Prince of Duan’s residence existed concubines that only sent presents but never personally made the effort in to pay their respects. While the original Qu Qing Ju had endure the disrespect, this Qu Qing Ju would not tolerate it.

After hearing the Prince Consort’s words, Luo Yin Xiu, being the most timid, shuddered at the undertone that Her Highness was implying. She had wanted to pay her respects daily but seeing that Feng Side Consort did not so so. She could only follow her example. She was but a lowly concubine who was also not favored, making her standing in the prince’s residence weak. Everything she did had  to be cautiously thought out and she could not afford to stand out. Now the Prince Consort wanted to settle old scores, Feng Side Consort had the favor of His Highness, so she was save from the Prince Consort’s disgruntlement. But what could she, a lowly concubine, who was even lower than the Side Consorts and have no favor with His Highness do?

Jiang Yong Yu, also stopped after hearing the Prince Consort’s words and looked at Feng Side Consort. While she did not have the favor of His Highness, her position in the prince’s residence could be considered to be neither horrible nor fantastic. Seeing the Prince Consort of today who had an aura of authority about her, she felt that something was about to change. She was not as weak as the rumors made her out to be. Testament was in the kitchen servants who were beaten for the mistake as an example of her flexing her authority in the household.

Noblemen who were normal would always give the main wife a certain degree of respect, and someone as intelligent as His Highness surely understood this unwritten rule. However, in the past the Prince Consort was soft-spoken and did not take up any issues with being slighted over Feng Side Consort. But not that Her Highness wanted to settle the scores, things were not going to be so tranquil as previously no matter who was more favored.

Although the Prince Consort did not have the attention and love of there father and step-mother, she had an influential maternal family and His Highness was not a person without any ambition. He naturally knew how to respect his main wife because he would need the support.

Jiang Yong Yu looked at Feng Side Consort sympathetically before shifting her gaze away. She notice that there was an entourage that was making their ways towards their direction and who else would it be but the master of the household - His Highness, Prince Duan.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife) : Chapter 2.1 - A Side Consort is still a Concubine


For the Side Consorts and concubines who had arrived to the wonderful scene of authority being played out, they were slightly puzzled as looked at the Prince Consort and the kitchen servants who had just been punished. All of them were wondering what had happened.

As they saw the Prince Consort walking back into the palace, the four of them did not care about priority and simply followed behind Qu Qing Ju without any respect. When Feng Side Consort passed by the kitchen servants who were still kneeling on the floor with pained expressions, she ordered the other servants present to carry them back. However, none of the remaining servants gave any heed to her instructions, making her expression turn black as she continued making her way into the palace.

With their heads lowered, Yin Liu and Jin Zhan guided the Side Consorts and concubines, opening the curtains for them to enter the room. From a distance the both of them saw Mu Jin and Yu Zan arrive with meal boxes. So they paused and waited for Mu Jin and Yu Zan to approach. Seeing the bewilderment on Mu Jin and Yu Zan’s faces, the four maid servants exchanged glances between themselves before they entered the room, as they looked at the servants who had suddenly become more obedient.

The room had already been cleared of the previous dishes and the greasy smell of meat was being covered up with fragrance being burnt. However, even with the fragrance masking the meat smell, Qui Qing Ju did not like the fragrance and casting her glance at the brazier adorned with a flying crane and golden beast which was burning away.

Noticing her expression, Rui Xiang immediately took the initiatively and extinguished the burning fragrance, replacing it with something lighter in fragrance. Only when Qui Qing Ju’ expression soften did Rui Xiang breath a sigh of relief.

Bowing slightly, Feng Side Consort said with a upturn of her mouth, “Look at how attentive Prince Consort maid servant is. It is no wonder that even His highness complemented your maid servant.” Inside her heart however, she was ridiculing Qui Qing Ju as just a few days earlier the prince had taken one of the Prince Consort’s maid servants’ as a lesser concubine; a rank lower than a normal concubine.

At the end of her comment, Qui Qing Ju simply ignored Feng Side Consort and looked through her as if she was invisible. A heavy awkward silence soon enveloped the room as Qui Qing Ju held Shu Kui’s hand and sat down on a chair. Looking over at Mu Jin and Yu Zan with the meal boxes in their hands, she instructed, “Serve the food.”

Soon the meal boxes were served: various types of porridges were displayed, along with a few light vegetable dishes and desserts; the food was exquisite yet light. Steam rose from each dish and with just a glance one could tell how much effort had been put into them.

As she held a delicate ceramic spoon and took a sip of porridge Qui Qing Ju said, “At least there seems to have some kitchen servants who have skills. Reward those kitchen servants who had prepared this 5 taels of silver each.” Looking at the side stood Han Qing He, Madam Han, a concubine whose status was low but her good point was that she was obedient and low-key.

“I heard that His Highness mention that you were good at serving. So for today you will serve the food.”, Qui Qing Ju stated as she was in a good mood with the food. Seeing that there was no reply, Qui Qing Ju was not irritated but asked in a slow tone, “Oh, is Madam Han unwilling?”

“You servant does not dare, your highness”, Madam’s Han face blushed from embarrassment and humiliation. She was but a lowly concubine and it was in the natural order of hierarchy that she was to serve the Prince Consort who was the primary wife and mistress of the household. Even if she did not want to, she did not have a choice.

The other two Side Consorts and concubine looked in disbelief at Qui Qing Ju, who was lowering her head to drink the porridge. They were thinking in their hearts, “Has her highness gone mad?”. Even if Madam Han was a lowly ranked concubine and not very favoured by His Highness she was still the one that had taught the prince on certain matters. The Prince Consort, on the other hand, only had the position in name only, she was not even favoured by His Highness at all and she dared to order Madam Han to serve her food.

Disregarding the opinions of others, Qui Qing Ju declined the piece of vegetable that Madam Han was about to place into her bowl, “I do not like this dish, Remember not to serve this the next time.”

Madam Han’s face froze slight as Qui Qing Ju said that, her hand holding the chopsticks tightened but she did not argue with the Prince Consort. She stiffly bowed and pleaded, “Have mercy our maid servant your highness. This lowly one has served His Highness for a long time and assumed that Your Highness would like the same dishes as His Highness. This lowly servant was wrong.”

Qu Qing Ju smiled without speaking while thinking to herself, “So this was reminding her of her seniority with the prince?” Turning her attention to a dish of lettuce stems with pig stomach.

The silence was like a slap to Madam Han’s face. It was obvious that the Prince Consort totally disregarded Madam Han and treated her no different from the other lowly ranked concubines who had to serve the food and attend to the primary wife in noble families.

Qu Qing Ju took quite a long time to finish her morning meal. Feng Side Consort and the other concubines were standing throughout and by the time Qu Qing Ju had finished her meal, their legs were wobbly. But as there was no instructions for them to sit, they could only stand at the side looking at Qu Qing Ju as she ordered Madam Han to serve her food.

Seeing that the Prince Consort was about done with her meal. Feng Side Consort, Feng Zi Jin, could no longer tolerate and blurted, “Is there a reason Your Highness has called us over? Or were were called over just for conversation?”

Not answering immediately, Qu Qing Ju took tea that Jin Zan held to rinse, and washed her hands in the rose and lemon water. After drying her hands with a piece of absorbent cotton fabric , Qu Qing Ju looked at Feng Side Consort and said, “It would seem that the rumor is true. Feng Side Consort’s personality is as gentle as water, rush as river and impatient as boiling water.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife)

What does it mean to be a virtuous wife? Does being virtuous mean tolerating his cousin, enduring his concubines, and get along with his over bearing mother?

If you refuse to let me live freely, why should I make your life easy for you?

Did fate let her time travel just for the sake of learning how to be a virtuous wife in ancient times being bound by the three morals and four virtues? Forget it, instead of leaving like a coward bound by pointless rules, it would be better to live to in satisfaction!

Translated Chapters

  • Chapter 1  
  • Chapter 2.1 Chapter 2.2 
  • Chapter 3.1 Chapter 3.2 
  • Chapter 4.1 Chapter 4.2 
  • Chapter 5
  • Chapter 6
  • Chapter 7
  • Chapter 8
  • Chapter 9 
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 11 
  • Chapter 12
  • Chapter 13 
  • Chapter 14 
  • Chapter 15 
  • Chapter 16 
  • Chapter 17 
  • Chapter 18
  • Chapter 19
  • Chapter 20
  • Chapter 21
  • Chapter 22
  • Chapter 23
  • Chapter 24
  • Chapter 25
  • Chapter 26
  • Chapter 27
  • Chapter 28
  • Chapter 29
  • Chapter 30
  • Chapter 31
  • Chapter 32
  • Chapter 33
  • Chapter 34
  • Chapter 35
  • Chapter 36 
  • Chapter 37
  • Chapter 38
  • Chapter 39
  • Chapter 40
  • Chapter 41
  • Chapter 42
  • Chapter 43
  • Chapter 44
  • Chapter 45
  • Chapter 46
  • Chapter 47
  • Chapter 48
  • Chapter 49
  • Chapter 50
  • Chapter 51
  • Chapter 52 
  • Chapter 53 
  • Chapter 54
  • Chapter 55
  • Chapter 56 
  • Chapter 57
  • Chapter 58
  • Chapter 59
  • Chapter 60
  • Chapter 61
  • Chapter 62
  • Chapter 63
  • Chapter 64
  • Chapter 63
  • Chapter 66
  • Chapter 67 
  • Chapter 68 
  • Chapter 69
  • Chapter 70
  • Chapter 71
  • Chapter 72
  • Chapter 73
  • Chapter 74 
  • Chapter 75
  • Chapter 76
  • Chapter 77
  • Chapter 78 
  • Chapter 79
  • Chapter 80
  • Chapter 81
  • Chapter 82
  • Chapter 83
  • Chapter 84
  • Chapter 85 
  • Chapter 86
  • Chapter 87
  • Chapter 88
  • Chapter 89
  • Chapter 90
  • Chapter 91
  • Chapter 92 
  • Chapter 93
  • Chapter 94
  • Chapter 95
  • Chapter 96
  • Chapter 97 
  • Chapter 98
  • Chapter 99 
  • Chapter 100
  • Chapter 10
  • Chapter 102
  • Chapter 103
  • Chapter 104
  • Chapter 105
  • Chapter 106
  • Chapter 107
  • Chapter 108
  • Chapter 109 
  • Chapter 110
  • Chapter 111
  • Chapter 112
  • Chapter 113
  • Chapter 114
  • Chapter 115 
  • Chapter 116
  • Chapter 117
  • Chapter 118
  • Chapter 119 
  • Chapter 120
  • Chapter 121
  • Chapter 122
  • Chapter 123  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

何为贤妻 (Being a Virtuous Wife) : Chapter 1 – Being a Reasonable Person


Within the residence of the Prince of Duan, it was an ordinary day in the kitchen: servants were busily moving to and fro in an orderly manner. Granny Ma had just returned from delivering pastries to the inner court with a group of servant girls, and her face was not looking well.

Seeing her expression, another old granny servant asked, “What is the matter? Why does your expression look so terrible?” Handing over a cup of tea to Granny Ma to calm her nerves, the latter further inquired, “Didn’t you just deliver the pastries to the inner court? How come…”

“Don’t even mention it! Her highness, the Prince Consort, just woke up this morning. You know rough labor servants like us cannot enter the palace. We only saw one of her highness’s attendants, Miss Yin Liu,” Granny Ma rambled. Taking a big gulp of tea and looking around, Granny Ma lowered her voice and whispered, “The moment I saw that their expression were not right, I quickly hurried back.”

Upon hearing this, the other granny servant sighed, and in a half-pity half-gossipy tone said, “It hasn’t been that long since Her Highness married into the Prince’s Residence, even the wedding decorations have not yet been taken down yet.”

Granny Ma added, “It has been less than 2 months since the Prince’s Consort married and moved into the Prince’s residence. However, since the wedding night, His Highness has not stepped foot into the main palace. Furthermore, in the recent days that the Prince Consort had gotten sick, His Highness had only briefly come and gone. No wonder the Prince Consort’s attendants were not happy.”

Thinking to herself, Granny Ma thought back to her encounter with the Prince Consort – such a dignified and beautiful woman. She could not understand why His Highness did not like his consort.

Suddenly someone cautioned, “Enough of this chatter nonsense. I just saw one of the servant girls’ of the Side Consort (a concubine beneath the Main/Primary Consort, yet higher than the other concubines) come over to the kitchen”. At a drop of a hat, both grannies stopped their chatter and went back to their duties.

Within the main palace, a group of servant girls was preparing the Prince Consort for her morning ablutions. Slender fingertips brushed across a piece of first-rate silk brushed before setting it at the side. Unlike the previous days, there was no hint of anger on her highness, Qu Qing Ju’s face. Lazily, she took off a grade jade bracelet from her wrist and casually threw it into an intricately carved wooden mahogany box and commented, “The color is too old-fashioned.”

Upon hearing this, a servant girl named Jin Zhan paused briefly before signaling to the other attendants behind her. Soon, several boxes containing various designs of bracelets - gold, adorned with pearls, jade etc… - were presented before Qu Qing Ju. Briefly glancing at the bracelets, she finally decided on a blood-red jade bracelet which accentuated against her pale fair wrist. 

Seeing Qu Qng Ju wear that blood-red bracelet made Jin Zhan’s expression falter. Her highness had always thought that that particular bracelet was too gaudy and never worn it. However today she had picked the same piece she disliked without hesitation and even wore it!

Recalling the days of her highness before marriage, where she was such a warm and gentle soul, carefree of the scheming and pettiness of the inner courts of a household with concubines. Having such a personality would be considered a virtue, but in a household where there were concubines and especially when marrying into royalty, this virtue was but a weakness.

Noticing the change in Jin Zhan’s expression, Qu Qing Ju gave a faint smile as she stood up and spread her arms to allow the female attendants to dress her in a wide-sleeved silk dress she had picked out. The dress was made from the highest quality of white brocade and had red plum blossoms embroidered onto it. When the silk dress moved, the embroidered plum blossoms looked as if they were really swaying in the wind.

Hanging from her waist was a spice bag that was embroidered with two blossoming lotus flowers on a single stem, along with a jade beaded knotted ornament. With her long supple hair tied up in a flying fairy braid, perfectly drawn eyebrows and vibrant red lips… the overall scene was one of a bewitching beauty.

Finally inserting a hair ornament into her hair on her own, Qu Jing Ju slowly stood up and cryptically smiled as she looked out the window, “It should be about time for them to pay their respects.”

Jin Zhan, who was a few steps away, forced a smile and resignedly said, “Your highness, as you were sick for the past few days, his highness had told the concubines not to disturb your rest.”

“Oh?” Qu Qing Ju leisurely sat down while caressing the pair of jade earring adorning her earlobes and adjusted their position into one that was more comfortable. After she was done with her action, Yin Liu handed over a cup of warm water for rinsing. As she put the lid back on the cup, Qu Qing Ju said, “In that case, send someone to each of their palaces and tell them that this consort has just recovered from her illness and has missed her ‘sisters’.”

Upon hearing her words, the 4 first ranking maidservants exchanged quizzical glances amongst themselves. Even if they did not understand for her highness’s change in personality upon waking up, they still followed out her instructions.

As she came out of the main palace, a worried Jin Zhan said. “Her highness does not seem to be normal ever since she woke up today. I don’t know why, but she seems different.”

Yin Liu concurred, “In this Prince's residence, although everyone seems to be showing her highness respect, it is only on the surface. Behind her highness’s back, they actually try to curry favor with the Side Consort in the West Palace. Her highness has been married for just 2 months, but other than the first 3 days of marriage where His highness stayed in the main palace, he has spent all his time with the other concubines. Where does that leave our mistress? It is humiliating.” She added, “That Feng Side Consort has a lofty attitude thinking she is a master, but she is still a concubine and beneath our mistress no less.”

Hearing what Yin Liu said, Yu Zhan looked around cautiously and after seeing that there was no one else, cautioned Yin Liu, “Don’t go around saying such things. Even though his highness favors the Side Consorts over the Primary Consort, he still gives her highness the respect she is due. Don’t add fire the the fuel and create troubles for her highness.” 
“You call that respect?” Yin Liu snorted in displeasure, thinking about her mistress’s warm and soft personality, she helpless sighed, “Jin Zhan and I will go over to invite Feng and Jiang Side Consorts. The second ranked girls can go over to invite the other concubines.”

Mu Jin nodded, “Ok. Bai Lu and Pu Er are sufficient to invite the concubines Madam Luo and Madam Han.”

The Prince Consort’s first ranking maidservants were named after flowers, while the second ranked maidservants were named after teas. As for the third ranking maidservants and those doing heavy-labor, there were no such naming conventions.

Mu Jin, Yin Liu, Mu Jin, Jin Zhan and Yu Zan, had followed Qu Qing Ju when she married the Prince. They were from the Chang De Duke’s residence, so they were naturally closer to the Prince Consort and thought of her well-being. Before being married, her highness was neglected by her stepmother and was not taught how to manage a household. It is even worse when she had married into royalty as the environment was more complex. As a result, her highness quickly became ill just 2 months after entering the Prince residence.

Mu Jin has always been concerned for Qu Qing Ju, so when she saw Qu Qing Ju having the desire to establish her foothold in the Prince residence today, she heaved a sigh of relief. As long as her highness was able to protect herself and establish her presence in the Prince residence, that was all she asked for.

When all the maidservants had left, Qu Qing Ju stood up and walked towards a large copper mirror. The craftsmanship of the mirror was exquisite, and even though it was not as clear as a glass mirror, it was enough to identify a person’s features. In the reflection stood a beautiful girl of around sixteen or seventeen year of age. If this girl was in the era she lived in, she would just be a beautiful high school student.

Trying to piece together the memories in her head, Qu Qing Ju sighed as the memories fleeted across her mind: this girl was not loved by her father and her stepmother was no less horrible, even her husband did not love her and there was even a group of irritating scheming concubines. The original character was a soft personality and somehow she had gotten sick while she was in this complicated Prince residence. During the illness, the original character had mysteriously been replaced with her, a woman from the future. She did not know what warmth or love was, and even in her death there was no justice. 
Qu Qing Ju’s thoughts were soon disrupted by a unfeminine voice, “Your highness, the kitchen servants have delivered breakfast.”

It was probably the voice of one of the eunuchs’ who served within the Prince’s residence. But unlike the eunuchs in the palace, these eunuchs were appointed to serve the Prince when he was given the title, during the time he was in charge of the Department of Household affairs.

“You may proceed”, Qu Qing Ju voiced out as she made her way out while playing with the strands dangling from the gold hair ornament in her hair. Rui Xiang and Shu Kui were already waiting in an adjoining room. Upon hearing the Prince Consort orders, they quickly parted the curtains, and welcomed Qu Qing Ju out, one of them supporting her.

Both Rui Xiang and Shu Kui were maidservants from the Prince residence; hence there was not as much respect for Qu Qing Ju as she was too nice of a person and a pushover. Had the previous Qu Qing Ju not been such a soft person, they would have already been thrown out of the Prince residence. After all, who in their right state of mind would allow potential rivals to serve them and be a temptation to their husbands?

As Qu Qing Ju sat down at the table, her eyes looked over the food that was presented on the table. Stewed pork shoulder, and a bowl of bird’s nest porridge with strands of chicken accompanied by a variety of side dishes that were greasy and fatty. The only dish that looked healthy and palatable was a small side of sautéed lettuce stems.

Just as Shu Kui was about to move forward to serve her, Qu Qing Ju waved her hand and looked at the servants bowing at the entrance with a smile, “The food was delivered by you?”

“Yes, your esteem highness this lowly one has duties in the kitchen”, came the reply from the puzzled kitchen servants.

Leaning back into her seat, Qu Qing Ju nonchalantly commented, “Really such a good kitchen in the Prince’s residence.” Her face slowly darkened as puzzlement washed over the servants present. Swiping over the dish of stewed pig shoulder onto the floor, the room was soon overflowing with the smell of meat. “Men, take them away and give them a good beating.”

Silence filled the air as no one managed to respond as they were in a state of shock. They could not comprehend how a soft personality like her highness would suddenly act so fiercely.

Qui Qing Ju eyes narrowed as she spitted out the words, “What is this? This esteemed princess does not have any authority to command you people now?” Glancing across the servants in the room, she angrily added, “Or do you think it is naturally proper for the kitchen in the Prince’s residence to disrespect me?”

As her gaze went over the servants, they shook in fear and some managed to respond to her commands: a few eunuchs and some strong grannies rush rushed to the front and started to drag the kitchen servants away.

The kitchen servants who were being dragged away did not dare protest or struggle, they only begged for mercy. One kitchen servant even yelled that they were being framed, that they had served her highness with the best foods.

Looking at the kitchen servant who was shouting about being framed and wronged, Qu Qing Ju commanded, “What you people still standing around for? Bring them down and punish them in front of me now.”

Hearing her command, a quick-witted eunuch took out a handkerchief and stuffed it into the mouth of the rambling kitchen servant. When his mouth was stuffed, the eunuch then proceeded to drag him towards to outer yard to carry out the punishment.

Soon the other servants who were holding down the kitchen servants always dragged them out. The remaining servants, cleared a table outside and spread out refreshments for her highness to enjoy while watching the punishment.

“What is that eunuch’s name? He seems quite strong.” Qu Qing Ju asked Shu Kui as she was supporting her outside.

“That eunuch’s name is Xiao Gao Zi (Little Tall) and he is in charge of sweeping the yard”, Shu Kui replied in reverence unaware that her movements and actions were more subservient. 
“He doesn’t seem like he is very tall. Why don’t we change his name to Huang Yang, and make him serve in the inner courtyards?”, Qu Qing Ju mused.

When she was at the outside yard, the kitchen servants were already tied to long benches and being punished as the heavy wooden paddles came into contact with their behinds mercilessly. Qu Qing Ju mentally counted to twenty as she sat down in a chair prepared for her. She calmly said, “Other than the servant who talked back just now, the punishment for the other servants can stop.”

Casting her gaze upon the 3 kitchen servants who were enduring the aftermath of the punishment whilst kneeling down and thanking her, Qu Qing Ju leisurely took a sip from her cup and said, “You must be wondering why you are punished.”

“I am a reasonable person; however, you people who are part of the kitchen staff have crossed the boundary. So much so, I am left with no other choice but to punish you.”, Qu Qing Ju helplessly lamented as she put her cup down.

Even if the Prince Consort did not have the favor of the Prince, she was still the consort that the Emperor had personally decreed to enter the Prince’s residence with the title of primary wife. How would the servants from the kitchen date to disrespect her? Despite finding something amiss, no one dared to say anything, as a good example of someone who voiced out his complaints was being punished in front of them. So who would dare say a word?

Qu Qing Ju continued, “Everyone in the Prince’s residence should know that I have been ill. Even the imperial doctors’ have advised what I should and should not be eating. But what have you been serving every day?” Sighing, Qu Qing Ju with her face filled with anguish went on, “I know you people could not be bothered to treat a sick Prince Consort properly and with respect, so I was resigned to fate and was only waiting for death. But since I have recovered, I will have a good life. Yet you heartless creature have purposefully only brought oily and greasy foods! Is it in the hope that I will die faster?!”

The 3 kitchen servants who were spared the prolong agony of punished wanted to explain but did not dare to, in case they incurred the wrath of her highness and continued their punishment,

Having deemed that the effect was just about right, Qu Qing Ju waved her hand weakly as though she were emotionally drained and wounded, “That’s enough. You all can leave now.”

Turning over to Rui Xiang, Qu Qing Ju instructed, “Give them ointment for their injuries, they are after all servants who are essential to the running of the Prince residence, we can’t have them incapacitated from the punishment.”

Upon hearing her words, the 4 kitchen servants were in despair. Her highness's words meant that even if they were to crawl they still had to continue their work at the Prince’s residence as they were indispensable. Otherwise, they might be thrown out and left begging in the streets.

After finishing her orders, Qu Qing Ju slowly stood up from the chair and turned over to look at the Side Consorts and other concubines who had arrived just in time. Seeing them, Qu Qing Ju showed a look of surprise and exclaimed, “When did you arrive? Since you are all here, come in.”

With that said, without caring about the looks o their faces, Qu Qing Ju took Shu Kui’s hand and walked back to the inner hall.