It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 34 Wedding Ceremony
The winter in the Northwest was different from Jinling. It came fast, but it also came swiftly. After a few autumn showers of rain, the weather suddenly turned cold.
In a blink of an eye, it was the twelfth month, and the cold wind was bitter, and there were still remnants of snow around the corner that did not melt yet. As soon as Tang Shishi left the door, she was felt with the oncoming wind. Tang Shishi raised her hand to cover her eyes. After the gust of wind passed, she was about to walk out, and there was a loud and low cry from behind.
It was the voice of Dujuan, so Tang Shishi had to stop. She was covered in a big red cloak, with a border of white fur around her collar. Under the collar, a thin light blue silk coat woven with gold threads could be seen. On the stand-up collar, a pair of gold buttons was beaming brightly.
Tang Shishi wore this suit of clothes with her long and slender figure with her white skin surpassing snow. Now when she was standing in the corridor, she stood out like a red plum in the snow. Dujuan panted, ran closer with her mouth exhaling white breath, and she stuffed a small copper furnace into the palm of Tang Shishi’s hand, “Miss, can consider as I caught up with you. You forgot to bring your handwarmer.”
The handwarmer was still warm. Tang Shishi took the copper handwarmer engraved with flower from her, “It’s just such a small thing, and yet have to trouble you to especially come out to chase after me. Today is the day Shizifei enters the mansion. Some of them are busy with so many people coming and leaving. You’d better take care of Little Li and don’t let it run out. There are so many womenfolk in the backyard. It won’t have a good ending if they collide with each other.”
Dujuan responded graciously, “This maid understands. Miss, don’t have to worry. We will look after Little Li well and won’t let it starve.”
After the autumn hunting, Zhongshun Wang returned to Beiting with his children, and Narentuoya never mentioned the little fox again. Naturally, this little fox belonged to Tang Shishi now. Tang Shishi brought the little fox back to the mansion. As soon as it was brought back, Little Li won the unanimous favor of the womenfolk in Jianjia courtyard.
This little maid, Dujuan lived in the inner residence all year round. The only chance to go out was to follow the mistress as a guest. Under such circumstances, she still has to serve with her heart and rarely could have a relaxing time. It was unheard of for them to go to the wilderness to see flowers and trees. When Tang Shishi brought the little fox back, Dujuan and the others were so happy to see a living fox for the first time.
Nowadays, Dujuan took care of the little fox more than Tang Shishi. Today, Lu Yufei and Zhao Zixun were getting married and Tang Shishi was going out to show her face. It was inconvenient to bring the little fox, so she could only leave it to her maid. Dujuan unreservedly vouched, Tang Shishi ordered a few more words, and then left quickly.
Tang Shishi was already late when leaving her courtyard, in addition, she was delayed by Dujuan on the way there. When she arrived at the reception hall, inside were packed with womenfolk. Tang Shishi took off her cloak and quietly mixed in the crowd without disturbing anyone.
A wedding banquet was held one at the man’s home and another at the woman’s home. Each has their own banquet and invites their own relatives. There was no doubt that more people came to the Jing Wang mansion to attend the banquet than Lu’s family. Now, the reception hall was full of ladies and madams who came to celebrate this joyous occasion.
After Tang Shishi walked into the crowd, she stood quietly. The incense of the madams and young ladies were mixed together, the smell was overwhelming and Tang Shishi was not used to it. So she quietly covered her mouth and nose with a handkerchief.
Tang Shishi tried to reduce her sense of existence, but she was recognized as soon as she arrived. When Ji Xinxian saw that she was coming, she called out and walked over with her handkerchief, “How come great beauty Tang only arrived now? Jianjia courtyard is a single residence. It should be convenient to do anything according to the theory. How come the great beauty Tang came later than the outside guests?”
Here again, Tang Shishi’s expression remained unchanged, and she smiled back, “I am afraid that I will lose my decency in front of the guests and make the guests mistakenly think that the people in the Jing Wang mansion are acrimonious and have no ethics. After washing my mouth several times, only I dared to go out. Naturally not as fast as Miss Ji.”
“You…” Ji Xinxian was about to break out in anger but was interrupted by Tang Shishi leisurely, “If I were you, I would not make a big noise now. If you want to play around also needs to depend on the occasion. Today is the day Shizifei enters the mansion. Wangye has repeatedly ordered not to have any hiccups during the wedding ceremony. If anything goes wrong at the wedding ceremony, let’s see how Tongxiu Gugu deals with you.”
Ji Xinxian was so angry that her chest heaved violently. At last, she restrained herself and forced herself to smile, “Good, Tang Shishi. You are very good. You just wait for me.”
Tang Shishi was not in a hurry, “I’m waiting for you.”
Ji Xinxian was fuming with rage while gritting her teeth and glared at Tang Shishi. She flung her handkerchief and walked away. After Ji Xinxian left, Feng Qian slowly walked to Tang Shishi’s side and asked softly, “Sister Tang, what did you say to Ji Xinxian? Why did you make her so angry?”
“It’s nothing.” Tang Shishi said lightly, “It’s just to remind her to rinse her mouth more often and kept it clean. Heaven knows where it hurts her. Alas, who makes me a plain-spoken and straightforward, a gentle and kind-hearted person.”
Feng Qian smiled softly, “Ji Xinxian will definitely understand Sister Tang’s kindness. Sister Tang, you’re wearing a gorgeous dress at Shizi’s wedding today.”
There was nothing wrong with hearing this sentence at first, but when tied together, there was a sense of awkwardness that could not be expressed. Tang Shishi glanced down at Feng Qian and just as when Feng Qian was getting nervous, Tang Shishi suddenly smiled brightly, “Sister Feng, thank you for your compliment. You’re not any inferior to me.”
It was true what Tang Shishi said. Although Feng Qian’s appearance was light, her eyebrows and eyes were slender, her complexion was well pigmented, and she possessed a delicate kind of beauty. Her clothes today were also light, the cost of the material was expansive and has one kind of understated luxury feel to it. On the contrary, standing in a crowd of women with heavy makeup, she stood out a lot.
However, this was only for ordinary people. No matter what a person wore it, it would be all in vain when standing next to a great beauty who would be crushed by her figure and appearance. It was exactly like this when Feng Qian and Tang Shishi stood together at the same place.
Tang Shishi wore a light blue silk coat woven with gold threads and a six-piece red skirt underneath. She was pretty boisterous and unabashedly. Feng Qian was dressed in plain clothes. She looked exquisite in a group of red rhubarb, but when she stood next to Tang Shishi, she looked depressed and colorless.
Feng Qian was somewhat feeling uncomfortable. She smiles and did not continue the topic just now. Instead, she changed to another topic, “Sister Tang, even though this wedding banquet was held ahead of schedule and many people were not informed timely, yet there are still so many people came. I don’t know how grand the occasion would be if there were a mistress in the mansion.”
Tang Shishi said casually, “There will be a mistress soon. Isn’t Shizifei entering today?”
Feng Qian covered her mouth and smiled softly, “Sister Tang, this is Jing Wang’s mansion after all. Shizifei is only temporary at best, and the true mistress of the mansion should be Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi glanced back at Feng Qian, “You have to tell Wangye about it, why do you tell me?”
“I’m just a little sentimental with Sister Tang.” Feng Qian took Tang Shishi by the hand, led her to a corner, and gently pointed out with her finger, “Sister Tang, look. That’s the Prefectural Magistrate’s wife, Madam Chang, and that’s the General’s wife, Madam Qi. They all wanted to marry their daughter into the Jing Wang mansion. Of course, is just their wishful thinking. The real winner is Madam Xi here.”
Tang Shishi followed the crowd and saw Madam Xi being surrounded by people, talking to Tongxiu Gugu. Behind Madam Xi stood the second Miss Xi, whom she saw last time and her name was Xi Yunchu. Xi Yunchu’s back was straight and looked at everyone else with drooping eyelids and indifference. She would only give a little smile when she met with Tongxiu.
Tang Shishi remembered this Miss Xi and she looked at her for a while, “It seems that this second Miss Xi is very likely to be our future mistress?”
Feng Qian waved her hand, “Who knows? It depends on Wangye.”
Tang Shishi stood by a vase, quietly watching Tongxiu Gugu and Madam Xi exchange greetings. A madam came to greet Tongxiu, but when she saw Xi Yunchu, she was holding her hand in awe, looked at her left and right, and exclaimed.
Even if she could not hear it, Tang Shishi could probably guess what the madam was talking about. It was nothing more than Xi Yunchu has turned from a little girl to a young lady, who was so beautiful, and even more so than her elder sister. Feng Qian sighed and said unhurriedly, “The same people with a different fate. Whether it’s the second Miss Xi or the Shizifei who will enter the mansion soon, they are much luckier than us. Your Majesty Shizong and Imperial Consort Gonglie are dead, and Empress Dowager Yao is far away in Jinling. The marriage between Jing Wang and Shizi was all in the hands of Jing Wang alone. Although Jing Wang didn’t say it clearly, he never stopped Madam Xi’s visit with the second young lady these days. Don’t have to look far away, isn’t it obvious enough Tongxiu Gugu’s attitude towards the Xi family?”
Tang Shishi said silently in her heart “yes ah”, and it was a little inconvenient. Tang Shishi never believed that a man would not marry another concubine. She had prepared that Zhao Chengjun would marry a Wangfei, but if was Xi Yunchu, it would be really annoying.
Tang Shishi just gave a little thought and left it behind in a flash. To put it bluntly, what did this have to do with her? Anyway, her target was Zhao Zixun. In the future, no matter how overbearing the new Wangfei was, she would not be able to interfere in the affairs of her adult stepson, right?
Tang Shishi had just finished thinking about it when suddenly there was a deafening sound of firecrackers outside. The womenfolk were shocked and said with a smile, “The wedding procession is back.”
Tang Shishi mixed in the crowd, watching Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei getting married. This was the first time Tang Shishi saw Zhao Zixun wearing bright red clothes. For some reason, she always felt that this person in front of her was very unfamiliar.
It was hard to imagine that this was the man whom she would have to fight for favor for many years to come.
After the ceremony, the new bride was sent to the bridal chamber, and a group of people swarmed into the new bridal chamber. Everyone could go to the bridal chamber for three days after the wedding. Therefore, the bridal chamber has always been the highlight of the wedding. However, because this was the daughter-in-law appointed by Jing Wang, other people dare not make too much trouble. Only some of the womenfolk and half of the young men went to the bridal chamber.
Tang Shishi did not want to go, but she forced herself to see Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei’s bridal chamber with her own eyes. Everything in the new room was red. Tang Shishi was standing in the red, her eyes stung.
She knew that she would not be able to wear such a bright red in her entire life. Bright red could only be worn by the legitimate wife, even if it was the favorite concubine of the harem, it was necessary to avoid red. Even if Tang Shishi defeated Zhou Shunhua and all the women in the harem, and even if she endured the death of the legitimate wife and succeeded in occupying the position, her age would not allow her to wear such a gorgeous red.
It was so sad.
Although Tang Shishi was standing in the new room, the excitement seemed to have nothing to do with her. The rowdy sound was separated by a layer, and nothing was heard clearly. She heard that the ritual momo asked Zhao Zixun to lift the veil and formally exchanged a cup of wine with the bride. After drinking, a maid brought up a plate of dumplings, Lu Yufei took a bite, and the ritual momo with a smiling face asked, “Life or no life?”
Lu Yufei was wearing bridal make-up and could not see what her real appearance looked like. However, hearing these words, she blushed and said, “Life.”
The whole room was filled with laughter. Tang Shishi quietly observed Zhou Shunhua, Zhou Shunhua lowered her eyes and apparently without emotions. At this time, Lu Yufei stood up and gave everyone a propriety reply. The ritual momo made a mess and accidentally pushed Lu Yufei from behind.
Lu Yufei fell out of control and so happened exactly in the direction of Zhao Zixun. Zhao Zixun stretched out her hand to catch her, and the madams and ladies around them were laughing until out of breath.
Tang Shishi did not smile. She especially looked at Zhao Zixun’s complexion and found that he did not get embarrassed at all. He let go of Lu Yufei and whispered to her to be careful. His move naturally thus caused another uproar. Zhao Zixun allowed everyone to make fun of him. He seemed to enjoy his beautiful new wife and the lively wedding night.
Tang Shishi suddenly felt very boring. She could not stand it anymore, avoiding the crowd, and quietly left through the door.
When Tang Shishi left, Zhao Zixun so happened to look up and saw a red shadow flashing by the door. Zhao Zixun was absent-minded for a moment, and a bridesmaid next to him joked, “Oh, Shizi, what are looking at? With such a beautiful bride right in front of you, how can Shizi still be distracted?”
Zhao Zixun’s attention was drawn back. He laughed and accepted the crowd’s frolic.
After Tang Shishi came out, she did not know what was happening inside, and a sudden burst of laughter. Tang Shishi covered her ears and walked away quickly.
She walked quickly for a long time, and finally, the noise stopped. She was in a hurry and did not pay attention to the path. She did not know where she was heading. When she turned around with the handwarmer in her arms, she almost collided with a person on the opposite side.
Tang Shishi fell back two steps, holding on to the pillars to stabilize herself. She was very surprised when she saw the person opposite of her, “Second Miss Xi? Why are you here?”
Xi Yunchu did not look well at first, and there were even suspicious tears in the corner of her eyes. She did not look at Tang Shishi and said coldly, “Get out of the way.”