Volume 6, Chapter 3: First Day of Work

After Maomao told him that she had found a new doctor, Sazen displayed a look of intense relief.

“This is so much better. I thought I would be looking after the store alone again.”

Since he gave her such an impression, Maomao was going to give him a sharp retort: “I can do this on my own!”, but well, let’s just leave it.

The few days after the exam were peaceful. It was the most gracious thing—the half-month where she did nothing aside from studying for the exams had nothing aside from suffering.

Maomao was satisfied tending the fields and compounding medicine after a long time.

A couple of days later, while she thought that it should be about time for her to get a notice of her results, the letter she received was exactly what she had been expecting.

“I wonder if anyone failed this,” the madam said, having asked Maomao what kind of questions appeared in the exam.

Though it was difficult to get full marks, the passing mark was apparently around sixty percent. Even Maomao, who had crammed, got over eighty percent, so the girls who normally study as much as possible to become court ladies probably wouldn’t fail. There were a few questions on doctor’s knowledge and technical stuff; they were all things you would understand if you give it some thought.

“That’s said by people who know. Granny. Maomao.”

It was Pairin, who showed her face, looking really slovenly. Perhaps having gotten a customer yesterday, her skin was very glossy. The customer must have been sucked up like dried goods when he returned. The beauty, not yet in decline despite being long past her thirties, was also rumoured to be a master in bedroom arts. She was the oldest among the courtesans of Rokushoukan.

“Just the simple act of thinking about it hurts my head. I try to learn it, but it doesn’t even get into my head from the start.”

People have their strength and weaknesses. It’s normal that you can somehow get it if you put in some effort, but there are things that can’t be settled with the word effort alone.

Pairin-neechan can’t write characters properly. When she tries, it would end up reflected like a mirror image. The madam had tried to fix it many times, but her habit couldn’t be fixed, so every time someone had to be around to correct it for her.

Instead, she was a dancer that no one can hold a candle to, even in the pleasure district.

“It’s fine that you passed this, but what are you going to do about it? Any recommended outfits?” the madam asked.

“Wouldn’t they prepare that part for me?” Maomao had no intentions of relying on others. Even before the day of the exam, she only got Gaoshun’s messenger to deliver her stationery and a set of clothes to wear. Apparently, he had also wanted to drop her off, but that was somewhat of a bother, so she ignored that. Thanks to that, she ended up eating lunch with Kokuyou in women’s clothes, though.

The pass notice wrote that they would be conducting an interview. It will be held the day after tomorrow in one area within the imperial court. Along with the letter, there was a wooden tag branded with a flower mark. That would have to be the proof of passage.

Maomao gave a hmmm, setting the pass notice on the medicine shelf, and started to crush medicinal herbs in the mortar.

 

 

 

The day after tomorrow, Maomao arrived at the designated place. She was standing before a building that employed a lot of civil officials. It was also close to the medical office.

Would the number of successful applicants who gathered for the interview be around eighty percent of the examinees? When she heard that the passing rate was eighty percent, Maomao was relieved that she hadn’t failed. At the same time, she belatedly understood Jinshi’s and Gaoshun’s surprise when she failed her previous exam.

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Most of them were around fifteen to sixteen years of age. There were several who were over twenty, but Maomao felt that their eyes were blazing strangely. The reason for that needn’t much thought to be understood. Court ladies were here to seek their future husbands. They would get more impatient the older they were.

(I think that it’s ideal to become a mother when you’re over twenty, though.)

It isn’t really strange to marry and have a child at fourteen-fifteen, but their bodies aren’t fully grown yet. For some people, there is also the case where they haven’t gotten their menarche yet. Considering how the monthly cycle stabilises a couple of years after their first period, which is when their bodies are completely grown, it isn’t good to marry when you’re too young.

(It’s difficult to give birth unless your pelvis is fully grown.)

Maomao felt her own hips. She had no desire to grow anymore, but if she were to give birth, she had to gain some weight. There are also cases where childbirth goes hand in hand with death.

Maomao had considered trying to give birth once, but she couldn’t just casually say that. If she were to say that she wanted to try to give birth, she thought that people would probably treat her as a fool.
And also, if they were to know of one other of Maomao’s considerations, there was also the chance where they would bury her with a barrage of yells.

(I can’t get a splendid placenta.)

During childbirth, the placenta falls out with the birth of the child. That placenta is eaten in some regions by the mother as a form of nourishment. It is said to be delicious, tasting like liver sashimi. Of course, there is the chance of bugs when you eat raw animal innards, but this, in this case, would be safe.

Maomao was told by her dad to “Never use humans for medicine.” So she doesn’t go enthusiastic with strange interests, she was told to never touch dead bodies.

However, what about her own placenta? It wasn’t a dead body. She wasn’t even using other people as ingredients. It was originally a part of her body. She was just re-taking it in; nothing wrong about that.

In other words, Maomao was keeping her promise with her dad, but she was also trying a yet unknown medicine that hasn’t been adopted before.

I must try this once while I’m alive, Maomao thought.

“Please gather round.” An elderly court lady assembled the successful applicants. She had a sharp gaze.

The outfits should have already been handed out, but a couple of people had made quite gaudy adjustments. Peacocks fan out their feathers flashily, but human women dress up flashily.

Maomao only wore the outfit as it had been prepared for her, so it wasn’t anything that stood out. And yet, for some reason, she felt people were glancing at her.

(Did I wear it strangely?)

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Like everyone else’s, it was a plain aoqun. The top was a pale-peach colour, the bottom, red. Perhaps the colours were different depending on their posts, there were no more than five people among the successful applicants who wore the same colours as Maomao. Since it was a new post that assisted the court physicians, it might be unusual.

If there was something different, it would have to be the colour of her cord accessory. Maomao felt that only her cord was a little darker.

There’s no need to think hard about it, she thought as she was going to gather and line up in accordance with the elderly court lady’s words, when something bumped into her back.

No, it wasn’t as much as a bump. Maomao crashed onto the floor with her hands before her. It might be a good thing that her face was lacking in contours. She fell flat onto the floor and was thoroughly covered in sand.

“…” She got to her feet while brushing her face.

“I’m sorry.” Walking past her with elegant smiles, was a group clad in the same colours as Maomao.

“Are you okay?” The elderly court lady jogged over.

“I’m fine.” Maomao stood up with an innocent look.

Everyone around her sent her sympathetic gazes. However, Maomao didn’t care about that.

The only thing she thought was….

(How nostalgic.)

This is it, the workplace of women.

Towards the promise from a long time ago, she was flooded with deep emotions.

 

- my thoughts:
Well, we're back in the imperial court. Fun times ahead.
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