Both of them had just stepped into the house when they heard the sound of wooden boards hitting flesh and agonised wails.
Li Chengfeng’s face fell as he cocked his head to listen. “This is bad, it’s the three idiots! Let’s go!”
He was about to leave when one of the servants saw him and yelled loudly, “Young Master is back!”
He quickly said, “Mother, the Sun family from Hedong still owes us money, I’m going to get it back now! I’ll be back soon!”
“If you dare leave now, never come back home again!” roared Madam Xie, who was in the great hall.
Guilty, Li Chengfeng looked at Xiaobao, who advised in a shaky voice, “Young Master, we won’t be able to run forever!”
He straightened his posture and heroically declared, “It’s just a beating! It’s not like they haven’t beaten me before!”
Feigning courage, Li Chengfeng walked into the hall. His gaze swept across the hall to see his mother sitting within, Green Bead on her left and a beautiful handmaiden he had never met on her right. Two foreign-looking servants stood nearby, looking down.
Before her were Big Dumb, Two Dumb and Three Dumb, all pinned down while two people standing on each side took turns beating their behinds with wooden boards. They wailed in pain at every crack.
Li Chengfeng walked in shamelessly as if he was invincible. “So, is it a singles or doubles match today?”
This young master was the precious male heir of the family. Green Bead and the rest of the servants couldn’t help but lower their heads to laugh. The new handmaiden, Su Yuehan, cocked her head and regarded Li Chengfeng with a half-smile. Agatha and Asparta acted as if they did not hear him.
Madam Xie’s expression was cold when she glared at the servants who stopped the beating because they were trying to suppress their laughter. “Carry on, did I say to stop?!”
They quickly raised their boards and started beating again.
Li Chengfeng smiled apologetically, “Mother, this is my fault, just hit me instead!”
Madam Xie raged, “You’re next!”
The beating was in motion when a young boy servant sprinted past Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao, gave them a look, then came to her side and whispered a few words. Madam Xie immediately raged, dropping the teacup in her hand. It shattered on the ground.
She pointed at Zhao Xiaobao, screaming, “Beat him! Beat him to death for all I care!”
Zhao Xiaobao paled, falling to his knees in the hall with tears in his eyes.
Everyone was stunned. They were all family servants and had grown up together with Zhao Xiaobao in this family. They could not believe that Madam Xie would be so furious.
He kowtowed fervently, “Mercy, mercy!”
His head hit the hard floor loudly, every knock echoing through the hall.
Li Chengfeng gasped, “Mother, what is this about?!”
Madam Xie was furious. “Don’t you know what it means when they say that servants die for their masters? Not only did he not help his master out of trouble, he brought on enough trouble to kill our entire family! If we don’t beat him to death now, he will surely kill our entire clan soon enough!”
Zhao Xiaobao and Li Chengfeng now understood what she meant. Tearfully, he begged, “It is my fault, if you choose to beat or kill me, I… will accept my fate!”
Madam Xie yelled, “Hit him!”
The few servants who were pinning Three Dumb down looked at each other, then dragged Zhao Xiaobao exasperatedly to the front of the hall. They then took turns hitting him, causing blood clots to form on his back and behind. He trembled hard.
Although Li Chengfeng and Zhao Xiaobao were master and servant, they were practically brothers. He leapt forward and grabbed a wooden stick, yelling, “Mother, stop it! It’s my fault! Hit me!”
Madam Xie grew angrier by the second, standing up. “Alright, hit him too!”
The servants all stood stunned, not sure what to do. They knew their master’s personality. If they hit him today, they could not afford the consequences of his revenge in the future.
When she saw her servants all retreating timidly, not daring to step forward, she was so mad she laughed. She turned to Asparta and said, “You go!”
Hesitantly, Asparta took a wooden stick from a servant, looked at Li Chengfeng and spoke in inaccurate Daqi language, “Young Master, Madam instructed me to hit you.”
Without a word, he lay on his stomach on the ground, saying, “Come, come! Let’s see if you can get a sound out of me!”
Asparta took a deep breath, raised the stick, then brought it down. All the handmaidens and servants shuddered when they heard the dull thud.
Li Chengfeng had the wind knocked out of him as he turned to look at Asparta. “You’re serious?”
Asparta looked at Madam Xie, hesitant. She roared, “Hit him! Hit him hard!”
Li Chengfeng leapt up and snatched Asparta’s wooden stick angrily. “You’re evil, Mother! I can’t believe you’d have me, your son, beaten like that! Why don’t I hit your son myself! Let’s see if your heart aches for him!” When he finished, he waved the wooden stick and knocked it right on his head, every knock loud as ever.
All the servants had to turn away, their shoulders shaking while they tried their best to repress their laughter.
Madam Xie shook like a leaf as she raged at Aspartha, “If you don’t hit him, I’ll sell your Agatha to the brothel!” Asparta’s face paled instantly. Then, stared at Li Chengfeng with reddened eyes, breathing heavily.
Li Chengfeng knew he could not run now. He gave the wooden stick back and lay down again. Looking up, he cried, “Madam Xie, you win today! Alright, hit me then! Just hit me, I will… Aaaaagh! You f***ing hit my bone, are you trying to kill me?!”
Asparta was obviously terrified by the threat because he kept hitting Li Chengfeng. He was more careful the next few times, now bloodstains could be seen on his trousers. The servants did not laugh anymore.
Madam Xie then yelled at the two other servants who had stopped. “What are you staring at? Carry on!”
The two servants lifted the wooden boards and took turns hitting Zhao Xiaobao.
She glared at them both murderously, saying through clenched teeth, “We have rules in this house! A clear boundary must be drawn between a master and a servant! You did not respect that today, and now you have caused huge trouble for our family! Do you think our small Li family can afford to offend the Zhan family of the northwest?!”
Cracks from wooden boards hitting flesh rang across the hall. Every servant seemed to feel every hit in their core, sending chills down their spines.