GNU sponsored chapters (4/5) by Nebulae and Amber Crosby at ko-fi. Thank you for your support!
The first part of today’s sponsored chapters is Ch. 91 Part 1.
The imperial palace was deep and full of rules that encompassed everything. Before an imperial consort entered the palace, a female official would be dispatched to teach her palace rules and etiquette. This tradition applied to everyone, and even lower-ranking imperial concubines were not exceptions. As the Crown Princess, Cheng Yujin represented the face of imperial family and also served as the model for all women in the world. Naturally, the requirements demanded from her were much stricter than others.
Cheng Yujin understood this truth. Empress Yang understood it, too. And the female officials in charge of teaching her rules also understood it.
A woman surnamed Zheng was the head of the four female officials. She was still in her thirties, but everyone called her ‘Gugu’1. As a female official, Zheng-shi had never been married, and she served the court for life. She was responsible for teaching palace rules and etiquette to the draft girls2. Although Zheng Gugu was not very old, she had a sullen and stern face all year round, making her look rigid and unapproachable.
Her voice was just like the impression she gave, stern and cold without emotion: “Eldest Miss Cheng, you are the Crown Princess appointed by the Emperor. You are the master and we are the servants. However, the four of us were ordered by Her Majesty the Empress to teach Eldest Miss Cheng the proper imperial family etiquette. In order to prevent the Crown Princess from making mistakes that will embarrass yourself and the whole imperial clan in the future, when us servants are teaching you, Miss should do your best to follow our instructions and listen to our arrangements. We are going to teach you by the book and won’t lower the standard to accommodate you. Everything is for your own good. Eldest Miss Cheng, you must not feel offended.”
Cheng Yujin nodded: “I naturally understand this. Many thanks to Empress Dowager and Empress’ kindness. This subject daughter will remember this grace, self-introspecting all the time, and dare not forget for a moment.”
The corners of Zheng Gugu’s lips slightly upturned into a cold smile: “Very good. Eldest Miss Cheng, let’s start now.”
Cheng Yujin readily agreed. Zheng Gugu had taught four or five batches of draft girls. Countless palace women cried under her hands, and she had also seen too many noble family daughters like Cheng Yujin. When imperial concubines first entered the palace, they were all like Cheng Yujin, confident and arrogant. They all thought that their etiquette was perfect and that no female officials would be able to point their mistakes. Unfortunately, once they fell under Zheng Gugu, all their confidences were shattered, and they could only bow their heads in defeat, not even dared to protest.
It was just a small effort to teach an ignorant little girl a lesson. Zheng Gugu was naturally very confident. Moreover, the person they were going to teach was also the future crown princess, which gave them another layer of satisfaction.
Zheng Gugu was not in a hurry in her plan to watch a good show. However, three days later, her mental state almost collapsed.
What exactly was this Cheng Yujin? Four experienced female officials were staring at her endlessly, supervising her every movement, gesture, and posture whether she was sitting, lying down, walking, talking, and even sleeping. But Cheng Yujin was as precise as a ruler, and the four female officials couldn’t even nitpick a single wrong.
For the first time since she entered the palace more than twenty years ago, Zheng Gugu began to doubt herself. If the situation here were passed to the palace, Empress Yang would definitely get furious and think that the four female officials she dispatched had accepted Cheng family’s bribes and deliberately throwing a game.
Zheng Gugu was forced to swallow the bitterness in silence. Changed to another person, even she would also think that the person in charge had thrown the game. But since the person was her, Zheng Gugu was very clear about her innocence. Even later, in order to save her skin, she heightened her standard to the roof and observed Cheng Yujin more strictly.
However, no matter how much effort she did, there was nothing in Cheng Yujin’s gestures and movements that were not standard or not elegant.
Zheng Gugu was hit hard and couldn’t help but began to doubt herself. Fortunately, after returning to her room last night, the other female officials with whom she shared a room also returned with an ugly face. The two tentatively talked, only to realize that they were facing the same predicament.
The person whom they supposed to teach a lesson never made any mistake at all. If they were in Cheng Yujin’s place, even they couldn’t be so perfect.
After finding a companion in the same boat, the anxiety in Zheng Gugu’s heart was reduced by half. The two women secretly discussed, and unanimously guessed that Cheng Yujin, upon knowing about their imminent arrival, had made a preparation to correct her posture and etiquette in advance. However, even though she could hold on for a while, could she hold on forever? What they needed to do was to slowly grind Cheng Yujin’s effort every day and patiently waited until the time when she could no longer persist.
So the four female officials watched over Cheng Yujin even more intensely than before. People were not wooden puppets. As long as Cheng Yujin still had a body made from living flesh and blood, there would always be the time when she inadvertently relaxed her guard and made mistakes. With the four of them watched over her, could Cheng Yujin maintain her perfect form all day and night?
The fact proved that she really could.
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