IBTBTED Chapter 12
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 12 Jinx One’s Wife
Zhao Chengjun slowly skimmed aside the tea froth with the lid of the teacup and his action was in a leisurely manner. His expression was extremely estranged, and even indifferent through the dense vapor from the hot tea.
Tang Shishi looked at Jing Wang at the top, completely taken aback. She had anticipated many circumstances, and she had even prepared excuses one by one, but only did not foresee that Jing Wang would intervene.
Even more, she was being transferred to his study room. She was sent by Empress Dowager Yao, why did Jing Wang do that?
Liu Ji coughed again, and Tang Shishi suddenly recovered. She sighed in her heart for a long time, obviously reluctant, but she still had to make a surprise appearance and said gratefully, “Thank you, Jing Wang.”
When Tang Shishi was prostrating, she could feel many eyes watching her. Zhao Zixun, Zhou Shunhua, Liu Ji, and even Zhao Chengjun’s eyes were on her.
Zhao Chengjun did not ask her to get up and Tang Shishi still kept at her bowing posture. She waited for a while and heard an indifferent voice from above, “Get up.”
“Thank you, Wangye.”
Tang Shishi went to Zhao Chengjun’s study to serve him. Then, logically, Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun followed Shizi. This should have been a situation that would have satisfied everyone. Zhao Zixun got his choice of persons, and Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun did not have to fight with each other. However, Zhao Zixun, Zhou Shunhua, and others were not pleased.
Zhao Chengjun had been skimming the tea froth for a long time and did not sound like he meant what he said. He put down the teacup and tapped his finger on the table. Zhao Zixun reacted at once and quickly bow with his hands held in front and said, “Father still has things to do. This son doesn’t dare to bother father, so I will leave first.”
Zhao Chengjun nodded faintly without stopping him, “Don’t be distracted and focus on studying.”
“This son obeys your orders.”
Zhao Zixun withdrew, and others followed suit. After leaving Zhao Chengjun’s room, Zhao Zixun’s expression finally cooled down. He glanced at Tang Shishi coldly and said, “Don’t play tricks. Otherwise, I’ll never let you go.”
Tang Shishi kept smiling and said respectfully, “This little girl is fortunate to serve Wangye, and will naturally do my best. How can this little girl play tricks?”
Zhao Zixun sneered coldly, flicked off his sleeve, and strode away. After Zhao Zixun left, Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun quietly glanced at Tang Shishi, bowed their heads, and left following Zhao Zixun.
Tang Shishi stood alone at the door, watching the other two following Zhao Zixun’s footsteps. Zhao Zixun was handsome, and the two women, one elegant, and the other beautiful walked together. When a handsome man and a beautiful woman came together, displayed the unspeakable beauty of youth.
The smile on Tang Shishi’s face gradually faded. She remembered that this was Yan’an courtyard with Jing Wang’s eyes everywhere. Tang Shishi immediately returned to her smiling expression and returned to the room in high spirits.
The news that Tang Shishi and Zhou Shunhua were going to serve grinding ink spread quickly. When the other beauties heard about it, it immediately caused an uproar in the Liuyun courtyard.
Liuyun courtyard was in a boisterous state. Tang Shishi could already guess what situation Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun would face when they got back, but those have nothing to do with her. Tang Shishi was concerned about her own affairs only and cleaned up the yard during her free time. Unexpectedly, in the afternoon, an unexpected guest arrived.
Tang Shishi raised her eyebrows slightly when she saw the visitor, “Feng Qian?”
“Sister Tang.” Feng Qian was wearing plain clothes, and her chin was almost paler than her clothes. Feng Qian stood at the door, covered her mouth lightly, and coughed a few times, then raised her head and smiled at Tang Shishi, “It’s not a coincidence that I’m here. Is it convenient for Sister Tang?”
After the initial unexpected phase passed, Tang Shishi quickly resumed her senses. She smiled and said to Feng Qian, “Convenient. I heard that you were sick recently and it’s windy outside. Come on in.”
Feng Qian thanked her and walked into the house gently. Tang Shishi led Feng Qian to sit on the arhat bed and motioned the maid to serve tea, “It’s simple and plain here. Please forgive for any negligence.”
Feng Qian’s eyes swept all around. Tang Shishi’s residence could not be considered big, but the three main rooms were bright and spacious with interior screens, tables, chairs, and shelves for antiques. It has everything that one could wish for. It was not extravagance, but it was warm enough.
Compared with the Liuyun courtyard, which was packed with nine people, the difference was incomparable like one in the sky and the other was underground.
Feng Qian covered the corners of her lips with her handkerchief, and smiled lightly, “Sister Tang, what are you talking about? If you are still rudimentary here, then what about us? Wangye is so kind to Sister Tang.”
Tang Shishi moved her eyebrows and said, “What are you talking about? We are all here to serve in the Jing Wang mansion. Wangye made allowance for me out of respect for Feng Momo, but I can’t really get carried away. I’m the same as everyone else.”
“Sister Tang is right. It was just a slip of my tongue.” Feng Qian said with a smile, “It’s still Sister Tang who has a broad view.”
Feng Qian seemed to be in poor health, and she got sick from time to time even when they were on the road. Now that she had arrived at Jing Wang’s mansion, her condition was not getting any better. Even though she was smiling, she had a sickly countenance.
Tang Shishi saw Feng Qian’s appearance and asked, “I live far away, and some news is inconvenient. I heard that you have had a cold these past few days. Are you better now?”
Feng Qian bowed her head and sighed with despair, “It’s still the same as before. I’m just getting through the days despite my body condition like this.”
Tang Shishi smiled, and said, “You are still young, so you can’t say these depressing words. It’s just a cold and you’ll be fine in a few days.”
“Thank you, Sister Tang.” Feng Qian looked at Tang Shishi gratefully. She held Tang Shishi’s hand and sadly said, “Among the ten people in the same group, I admire Sister Tang the most. Sister Tang can do well no matter what she does. Unlike me, who has been suffering from many illnesses and misfortunes since I was born. I have no energy to do anything, am physically weak, and don’t have any ambition. I feel very good if I can live my life peacefully like this.”
Why did she say these words? Tang Shishi did not answer rashly, merely comforting her, “You are still young, don’t be disheartened.”
Feng Qian shook her head slowly, with a lonely expression, “I know my body well, what my strengths are, and what life I can lead. I’m clumsy, sick, and weak, and my disposition is not likable. I’m someone who can never get ahead. I don’t expect to stand out and I am very satisfied if I can live my life peacefully. I sometimes feel that Ji Xinxian likes to make noise unnecessarily, and sometimes I envy her for her vitality. Probably only a healthy person like her, who has been spoiled since childhood, dares to make an uproar.”
Tang Shishi stopped for a while, and asked silently, “Ji Xinxian is making trouble in Liuyun courtyard now?”
“How can she not make any noise?” Feng Qian sighed helplessly and smiled bitterly. “When she heard that Sister Zhou and Sister Ren are going to serve Shizi, she made an outburst and demanded to serve him too. I am recuperating, so I can’t bear the noise, so I brazenly hid here with Sister Tang. Thank you Sister Tang for taking me in.”
Tang Shishi ignored Feng Qian’s polite remarks and she found another hidden message.
Did Ji Xinxian also like Shizi? It was opportune for Tang Shishi, Zhou Shunhua, and Ren Yujun, and now added another Ji Xinxian. All the targets were Shizi.
Obviously, this was the Jing Wang mansion, and Jing Wang was the one who held the authority. Why did everyone choose to cling to Shizi instead of Jing Wang?
Tang Shishi settled for the second-best because she read the book and felt that Shizi was young and easy to manipulate. However, other people did not know the future development, why did they do the same?
Tang Shishi asked quietly, “Why is Ji Xinxian making trouble in the Liuyun courtyard? Shizi only needs two people, and the quota is already full, but Jing Wang is still vacant. If she really wants to find something to do, go ask Jing Wang, maybe there is still a chance.”
When Feng Qian heard this, she looked outside. Tang Shishi noticed and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Feng Qian motioned for Tang Shishi to come closer, lowered her voice, and said, “Sister Tang, I admire your competence, so I will only tell you this. Ji Xinxian only entangled Shizi because she did not dare to approach Jing Wang.”
Feng Qian quietly looked to both sides, after confirming that there was no one around, she said in a regrettable tone, “Because Jing Wang jinxes his own wife.”
Jinxes his own wife? She did not know anything about it. After all, she grew up in Linqing. There were differences between officials and merchants. She did not know that many officials’ daughters had been affected by this news since childhood.
Tang Shishi looked at Feng Qian, and a pair of bright eyes clearly reflected Feng Qian’s reflection, “Is this really true?”
Feng Qian said in a low voice, “Naturally, I don’t dare to cook up such a rumor.”
Tang Shishi was deep in thought, Feng Qian’s father was a civil officer of the Imperial Academy. If Feng Qian knew, it meant that it was not a secret at all Jing Wang jinxed his wife in the officials’ circle in the capital. This could also explain why Ren Yujun and Zhou Shunhua came to the Jing Wang mansion, did not attempt Jing Wang at all, and directly chose Zhao Zixun as their target.
Tang Shishi peeled some fruit for Feng Qian, put it on the plate in front of her, and said softly, “Miss Feng, I’ll be serving Jing Wang tomorrow and he is straightly impartial. I am afraid that if I don’t do it right, I’ll provoke Jing Wang’s taboo. I don’t know anything about it and trouble my sister to help me. What was going on with his wife?”
“It’s my pleasure to be able to help Sister Tang.” Feng Qian covered her mouth with her handkerchief, got closer, and whispered quietly, “When I was in the capital, I overheard that there is no Wangfei in Jing Wang’s mansion, and Jing Wang has no intention of getting married. Even though Jing Wang had two previous betrothments, they both died before getting married. One was the eldest daughter of the Xi family and the other was the eldest granddaughter of General Li.”
Tang Shishi suddenly was hit by a realization. Initially, she was wondering why Jing Wang did not have a legitimate wife, and Empress Dowager had to send the beauties over all the way here. It turned out that all the Wangfei-to-be died.
Tang Shishi asked, “Did both Wangfei-to-be die of illness?”
Feng Qian shook her head. This was an Imperial family secret after all, and Feng Qian did not know these details.
Tang Shishi sent Feng Qian away. When she opened the book that night, she saw the story was updated.
Tang Shishi looked at the title of the next chapter blankly, “There is no suspicion during school time, and love blossoming for the first time in my life.”
At the beginning of the chapter, the book described the activities during the school period of Zhou Shunhua and Zhao Zixun.
Zhou Shunhua at this time did not know that what she was about to encounter was the best time in her life. Many years later, Zhou Shunhua, who had become Empress, presided in Kunning Palace alone, she would often think about the good time she spent during the school period. She was a humble maid, Zhao Zixun was a young man of great vigor, and Ren Yujun was her best sister before. Her biggest daily worry was how would Shizi deliberately make things difficult for her. Unlike now, the sisters turned against each other, the husband and wife were strangers, and even her son had a rift with her.
Tang Shishi snorted and closed the book angrily. The best time of youth, intimate sisters, a young handsome man deliberately teased his favorite woman…
Tang Shishi thought indifferently, why had she never been shown with such care before? She also had a childhood sweetheart before and she also studied for Qi Jingsheng, but she never felt what it was like to be doted on.
She obviously worked so hard.
Tang Shishi closed the book and did not want to read it anymore. She understood that there was no substitute for young love. Once she missed the opportunity of the school phase and even if later Tang Shishi won Zhao Zixun over, she would always be beneath Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun.
Tang Shishi was gnashing her teeth when she thought of it. Today, she could have succeeded.
Tang Shishi endured her anger and went to sleep. When she sat in a corner in the study room the next day, she was still aggrieved.
Tang Shishi looked at the thick stack of books in front of her, then looked at Liu Ji, and asked politely, “Liu Gonggong*, this is…”
(*Gonggong – an address for a eunuch)
Liu Ji gestured with his hand and said composedly, “These books are precious and the only copy. Wangye spent a lot of time collecting them. I don’t know how many great scholars in the Imperial Academy will envy you knowing that you can read these books.”
Tang Shishi gradually gave birth to an ominous premonition, “So, what does Wangye want me to do?”
Liu Ji smiled and said, “Wangye said since Miss Tang’s talent is the first in the harem, thus your talent must not be insulted. So, is best for you to copy these books again to have a deeper understanding of the literature. After you finished copying, you can rest assured there will be the next batch.”
Tang Shishi could not even maintain her smile. She tried to pull the corner of her lips, gritted her teeth, and said, “Thank you, Wangye.”