This work is an amateur fan-translation of original work by Tong Hua as available in free online format in Mandarin Chinese at:
The translation is done as good will, so that fellow fans who do not read Mandarin may enjoy this lovely work. We declare that we do not profit monetarily in any way from this work, and also do not pretend to be professional translators. Hence, we apologize in advance for inadvertent translation errors. In addition, reposting of the translation must be done with explicit permission of all translators as contactable via spcnet.
(In Alphabetical Order)
Crown Prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinreng): The second son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently the Crown Prince and thus next in line for the throne.
Dong Yun: One of Ruolan’s maids.
Fourteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinzheng): The fourteenth son of Emperor Kangxi. He is described as being quite handsome.
Fourth-prince (Asin-Gioro Yinzhen): The fourth son of Emperor Kangxi and the future Emperor Yongzheng. Slightly pale and has an impassive demeanour. Very close to the Thirteenth-prince
Eighth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinsi): The eighth son of Emperor Kangxi. Also known as the Eighth Bei’le. Ruolan is his Ce’fujin (Second Wife). Is often seen smiling out of the corners of his mouth as well as conducting himself with a calm and gentle disposition. Fell in love with Ruolan at first sight but unfortunately she does not return his love.
Kangxi: The current Emperor of China.
Li Dequan: The head eunuch who serves Kangxi directly. Seems to like Ruoxi and often secretly gives sound advices to her on how to survive in the Palace.
Luwu: A courtesan who seem to have an unclear relationship with the Thirteenth-prince. Luwu is one of the higher ranking courtesans who have the right to choose her clients and can “sell their talents but not their bodies”. She befriends Ruoxi through the introduction of the Thirteenth-prince.
Mingyu Ge’ge (Guoluoluo Mingyu): Younger sister of the Eighth-prince’s Di’fujin, Guoluoluo Minghui. Not on good terms with Ruoxi. Most likely the one who caused the original Ruoxi’s accident after an argument. During the Tenth-prince’s Birthday banquet, Ruoxi and Mingyu gets into a fight, resulting in quite a spectacle. Arranged to marry the Tenth-prince by Emperor Kangxi.
Ninth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yintang): The ninth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. Seems to have a more taciturn personality. Nicknamed “the venomous snake” by Ruoxi.
Qiao Hui: One of Ruolan’s maids. Qiao Hui used to serve Ruolan even before Ruolan’s marriage. When Ruolan married, Qiaohui accompanied Ruolan to Eighth-prince’s household. Seems to be concerned for her mistress especially regarding Ruolan and Eighth’s relationship.
Ruolan, Maertai: Ruoxi’s older sister. The two are especially close as they are born from the same mother. She is also the Ce’fujin (Second Wife) of the Eighth-prince. Mild and gentle in nature, Ruolan likes to spend a better part of her days reciting Buddhist scriptures. Has a deceased lover who was a soldier in her father’s army. The man was of Han descent and had taught Ruolan how to ride.
Ruoxi, Maertai (Zhang Xiao): The protagonist of the story. Originally a modern day, white collared professional named Zhang Xiao. Under certain unexplainable and supernatural occurrence, Zhang Xiao’s spirit travels through time upon her death and take over a young Manchurian girl’s body. Now stuck in ancient times, Ruoxi must navigate through an entirely foreign environment armed only with the little historical knowledge she remembers. Currently is employed as the head tea serving maid for Emperor Kangxi.
Tenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yin’e): The tenth son of Emperor Kangxi. Currently not given a peerage title. A bit of a simpleton. Likes to tease and bicker with Ruoxi. Nicknamed “the blockhead” by Ruoxi. Likes Ruoxi, but is forced to marry Mingyu Ge’ge.
Thirteenth-prince (Aisin-Gioro Yinxiang): The thirteenth son of the Emperor Kangxi. Nicknamed “the Death Challenging Thirteenth” by his brothers. Has a more carefree and unrestrained demeanour. Due to this, he has developed a great rapport with Ruoxi and they are close friends. Has an unexplained relationship with the beautiful courtesan Luwu. Very close to the Fourth-prince.
Wang Xi: A junior eunuch who is under the tutelage of Li Dequan. One of the eunuch that is quite close to Ruoxi and refers to her as Jie-jie.
Yunxiang: A tea serving maid who works under Ruoxi.
Yutan: A tea serving maid who works under Ruoxi. Very close to Ruoxi and the two have a sister-like relationship.
(In Alphabetical Order)
An’da: The Mongolians term for sworn brothers. Due to the intermarriages between Manchu and Mongolian royalty to preserve relations, this Mongolian term was adopted into the Qing Dynasty. In this case, Ruoxi calling Li Dequan “Brother” indicates her close relationship with the senior eunuch.
Bei’le: Shortened from Duo’luo Bei’le. A peerage title that can be bestowed to those within the imperial family. It is the third rank in the Qing peerage system for the imperial line.
Ce’fujin: A title. Meaning second wife or ‘side’ wife in Manchurian.
Di’fujin: A title. Meaning first wife or main wife in Manchurian.
Ge’ge: A Manchurian word for young mistress, or lady. It is a title you would call an unmarried noblewoman (or before they are bestowed an official title by the Emperor) above a certain rank.
Imperial Father: What the children of the Emperor refer to their father as.
Jie-jie: Older sister in Chinese.
Ji’xiang: A standard greeting one of lower status uses to greet people with higher status in court. The word literally means auspicious and can be translated as, ‘I wish good fortunes, prosperity and happiness to you”
Shifu: Means Master, someone who one is under the tutelage of.
Zhen: A word that the Emperor refers himself as.
Chapter 8 (Part 3)
While sitting in silence, Wang Xi enters. He approaches me, performs a ceremonial bow and says, “Jie-jie, shifu is calling you to see him. “ Yunxiang and Yutan, who are both listening in, stand up in panic when they hear this. I ignore them and stand up to follow Wang Xi to exit the side hall.
Wang Xi leads the way for only a short while when I see Li Dequan standing under a tree in front of us. After approaching closer, Wang Xi withdraws. I perform a ceremonial greeting and stands there silently. After a long time, Li Dequan clears his throat and says, “I thought that you’ve always been a careful person, so how come you’re so careless today?”
I answer, “Please punish me, An’da”
He sighs and says “Next month’s wages will be completely deducted.”
I hurriedly kneel and say, “Thank you, Li An’da.”
He does not respond, only turning around to walk away, while whispering vaguely, “The palace cannot tolerate so many good intentions.”
After he leaves, I remain standing there silently. A hint of sadness mixed with fear gradually oozes out from my heart, creeping inch by inch throughout my whole body, slowly consuming my strength. I can feel that I cannot stand properly anymore and stagger for a few steps before ending up sitting on the ground. I hold my head with my hands while burrowing between my legs. I bite my lower lip hard as tears well up in my eyes, only to be finally forced back by me.
While I am burying my head and sitting there in rumination, I suddenly hear a voice overhead asking, “What’re you doing sitting there?”
From the voice, I can tell it is the Tenth-prince. I didn’t want to pay any attention to him so I continue to hold my head in silence. He kneels down by my side and says, “Hey! I haven’t blamed you for scalding me, yet you here are throwing a tantrum.”
I continue to ignore him. He remains quiet for a moment, but suddenly feels something is wrong. He hurriedly lifts my head, with surprise showing on his face, he exclaims, “Why did you bite your lips till they’re bleeding? How did Li Dequan punish you?”
I raise my head and suddenly spot that it was not only the Tenth-prince that stands beside me; the Fourth-prince, the Eighth-prince, the Ninth-prince, the Thirteenth-prince, and the Fourteenth-prince are all standing to one side. Surprised, I hurriedly wipe my lips with one hand while jumping up to perform a ceremonial greeting.
The Tenth-prince, seeing that I am only busily performing the ceremonial greeting and not answering his question, says irritably, “I am going to find Li Dequan for an explanation.” As he finishes speaking and starts to leave, I quickly whisper, “Come back.”
He halts his steps and says, “Then tell me yourself.”
As I gaze at him, the feelings in my heart are mixed. On one hand I’m irritated at his rashness but on the other, I am touched by his panicked concern. I stare at him for a little while before finally giving him a small glare, “I’m fined a month’s wages.”
The Tenth-prince slaps his thigh and cries, “Just for a mere month’s wage. Is that worth getting so angry over?”
Pouting, I say, “Why not? Those silver ingots may not mean much to you, but I’ve been looking forward to those silvers. Besides, I have never been punished before. This loss of face is a bit difficult on my pride.
Laughingly he says, “Well, don’t be angry anymore. If there’s something you want, I’ll buy it for you.”
Hearing this, I smile but do not say another word. None of the princes speaks either. As usual, the Fourth-prince and the Eighth-prince remain in their respective trademark expressions: one eternally cold and impassive and the other eternally gentle and dignified. Meanwhile, the Ninth-prince looks at me darkly. When the Thirteenth-prince sees that I am looking at him, he smiles, winks at me, and makes a puzzled expression. I return his smile but then I see the Fourteenth-prince with knitted eyebrows looking sullenly at a random direction.
Looking around and noticing nobody wants to speak; I smile apologetically and say, “If there’s nothing else, your humble servant will leave now.”
The Fourth-prince lightly dismisses me, saying, “You may go.”
Last night I worked the night shift until dawn. Even though I slept in the morning, I still feel tied. Plus I did not dare to sleep too much in the morning; for fear that I will sleep even later tonight and feel worse the next day. I lay sideways on the couch; casually grabbing a book titled “Essays on Brewing Spring Water” by Tian Yiheng of the Ming Dynasty, and starts to read it intently under the lamp.
These days, the books on my shelves are basically all on the topic of tea. I now fully regard this as a proper job. The food, living arrangements, wages, and benefits are excellent. However, there’s not enough freedom. The rules are very severe; any mistakes will be dealt with corporal punishment and even worse, the death penalty.
But these past three years have allowed me to figure out some of the rules of the game, to find a sort of freedom while staying within the regulations. My attitude is as such: since I am doing this, I may as well do my best. Although I started the job without any experience or training, currently in the palace, if there’s anything that is tea related, I’m afraid no one would dare to disparage me.
 Means Master, someone one is under the tutelage of.
 Orig. 谙达. It is the term Mongolians used for sworn brothers. Due to the intermarriages between Manchu and Mongolian royalty to preserve relations, this Mongolian term was adopted into the Qing Dynasty. In this case, Ruoxi calling Li Dequan “Brother” indicates her close relationship with the senior eunuch.
 Li Dequan knew Ruoxi’s good intention of saving the Tenth/Fourth prince, but is warning her that in the cutthroat environment of the Palace, she could easily lose her life if she interfered in the palace politics.
 Orig. 《煮泉小品》. Tian Yiheng wrote a book endorsing the ‘natural’, simpler method of tea preparation that became popular during the Ming Dynasty. The tea was to be prepared as loose tea leaves rather than the tea balls that was previously popular. The tea was ideally to be dried in the sun rather than baking it in the fire to preserve the natural flavor.