It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 36 Serve Tea
The newlyweds offered tea on the next day.
This was the first time that the bride made a public appearance in front of her husband’s family. After paying homage to the ancestor and receiving tea from her in-laws, only then she was considered officially entering her husband’s household. This was a very important ceremony for Lu Yufei. The Yinian courtyard was busy early in the morning, while on the other hand, Zhao Chengjun got up to practice martial arts as usual, and then went to the study room to handle official duties. All his schedule was as usual.
As a book-copying maid, Tang Shishi was forbidden to arrive late or leave early, so she could only go to the study room early and warm the bench. She seemed to be working hard while holding the brush but in fact, she was dawdling and trying her best to pass time.
When it was almost sishi (9 am – 11 am), Liu Ji stepped forward at a fast pace and said to Zhao Chengjun, “Wangye, the time for serving tea is coming.”
“En.” Zhao Chengjun replied nonchalantly, “Let’s get ready. Let them move a little bit more neatly and don’t waste time.”
Liu Ji responded and went out to arrange the servants. Zhao Chengjun put down the brush and walked towards the door slowly. Tang Shishi pricked up her ears and leaned in. She vaguely heard Liu Ji come in and say something. After that Zhao Chengjun was getting ready to go out. Combining today’s date with a little guess, it was time for the serving tea ceremony.
Tang Shishi’s eyes rolled around, thinking that she could not miss such a big scene. Tang Shishi left the brush and ink aside. After Zhao Chengjun passed by, she inadvertently walked out of the pavilion, and then followed behind Zhao Chengjun with a calm expression.
Of course, Zhao Chengjun found out. He glanced back, and Tang Shishi immediately looked up at the sky. Zhao Chengjun was too lazy to talk to her, so he just let her go.
Tang Shishi followed Zhao Chengjun to the front hall. A painting of mountains and rivers was hung in the middle of the front hall, and two red sandalwood master chairs were placed side by side beneath the painting separated by a small square table in the middle, and two rows of seats were placed neatly below the master chairs. Zhao Chengjun was sitting on the top left seat, his right-hand side was empty.
The only person who could sit next to Zhao Chengjun was Jing Wangfei, not even the side concubine. Now that seat of Jing Wangfei was empty, and that exclusive seat beside Zhao Chengjun had always been empty.
The servants entered one after another, scattered in the four corners of the hall, waiting for their orders. Tang Shishi folded both her hands together and stood behind Zhao Chengjun.
When Zhao Chengjun left the study room, Liu Ji sent a message to the newlyweds. Not long after Zhao Chengjun sat down, Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei arrived.
They knew that Zhao Chengjun did not like to wait for others, and they did not dare to let Zhao Chengjun wait. As soon as they were ready here, they came without delay.
The maid took a brocade cushion and placed it on the ground. Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei knelt in front of Zhao Chengjun, and kowtowed together, “Pay my respect to father.”
Zhao Chengjun had no intention of embarrassing them, and quickly said, “Get up.”
Zhao Zixun straightened up, took the tea from the tray, lowered his eyes, and presented it to Zhao Chengjun respectfully, “This son served tea to father.”
Zhao Chengjun took the teacup, lifted the lid of the cup, and placed it on the table. Lu Yufei was a little nervous. She took the tea from the maid, raised her eyebrows, and said respectfully, “This daughter-in-law offers tea to father.”
Zhao Chengjun also took it and placed it on the square table. Zhao Chengjun put down the teacup, realized the two in front of him had no intention to get up yet. Zhao Chengjun was surprised for a moment and finally remembered that this was a newlywed couple offering tea. He seemed to need to say some encouraging words to them.
It was really troublesome. Zhao Chengjun could only say, “Husband and wife are one, they are born in the same bed, and die in the same cave. It is rare for you to get together. In the future, you must trust each other and support each other the whole life.”
Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei saluted together, “Yes. Thank you, father.”
Tang Shishi heard from behind and could not help showing mockery in her eyes. It was easy to say such things as mutual trust and support for life, but how many couples in the world could really do it?
When Zhao Chengjun said these words, he also did not believe the words he has just spoken.
Liu Ji came forward with a smile and gave the newlyweds a meeting gift. He said in a kind manner, “Congratulations to Shizi, congratulations to Shizifei. This is a meeting gift prepared by Wangye for the newlyweds. In the future, Shizi and Shizifei must have a good life. Don’t disappoint Wangye’s expectations.”
Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei kowtowed together, “Yes. Thank you, father.”
After the two of them thanked Zhao Chengjun, they were supported by their servants to stand up slowly. The bride was supposed to offer tea to her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law, but Zhao Chengjun did not have Wangfei, and there was no grandmother in the mansion, so after Lu Yufei kowtowed Zhao Chengjun, the rest of the ceremony was omitted. After that, there were customs such as meeting the sisters-in-law and other family members, but the population of the Jing Wang mansion was too simple. Except for Zhao Chengjun, there were no mother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunts, and uncles. It was no wonder that the officials’ wives in the Xiping province were vying to marry their daughters into the Jing Wang mansion. Apart from other things, simple family relationships were better than having so many people.
After Lu Yufei stood up, Zhao Chengjun signaled Tongxiu to come over, handed a mahogany box to Lu Yufei, and said, “This is the key and the pair of cards of this mansion. From now on, the internal affairs will be in charge by you. For the past ten years, Tongxiu has been managing internal affairs temporarily. Since you have entered the mansion and it can be handed over to you. If you don’t understand anything afterward, just ask Tongxiu directly.”
Lu Yufei looked at the carved wooden box in front of her with excitement in her eyes. Many new daughters-in-law have worked hard for twenty years and may not be able to touch the keys of the housekeeper. She only got them the next day. And this was not an ordinary key, it belonged to the Jing Wang mansion.
Lu Yufei bowed to Zhao Chengjun and said with full confidence, “Thank you for the father’s trust in me. This daughter-in-law will live up to your expectations.”
Tang Shishi stood behind and watched this scene. To be honest, she was a little sour. If there was a chance, who wanted to be the one under the control? Who did not want to hold the power and give directions?
It was a pity that she was not Shizifei. So she did not need to be hopeful for these things at least for the next twenty years. Lu Yufei did not have those refusal scenes, directly took the wooden box, and let her maid put it away. When she did these things, she was very energetic, and her countenance was full of heroic spirit that was bound to win.
She did not even say a polite word to Tongxiu, as if sure that she would do better than Tongxiu.
Tang Shishi quickly glanced at Tongxiu, but Tongxiu was an old person who came out of the Imperial Palace with superficial skills. Tongxiu did not say anything. After handing over the things, she retreated peacefully, just like an ordinary and hardworking servant. Tang Shishi did not see the good show, so she withdrew her eyes with a little disappointment, thinking that Shizifei was very confident and did not say anything else. On the first day after entering the mansion, she dared to invade the original ecology of the Jing Wang mansion with great fanfare.
Tang Shishi thought that today’s tea ceremony was over. Originally, Zhao Chengjun thought the same way. He picked up the tea and signaled to send off the guests. Unexpectedly, Lu Yufei suddenly spoke and interrupted Zhao Chengjun’s actions, “Father, this daughter-in-law has a matter that I want to ask you to agree.”
Zhao Chengjun paused his fingers, he was no longer in a hurry to drink tea, and slowly caressed the teacup, “What’s the matter, let’s talk about it.”
“This daughter-in-law learned that Zhou Shunhua has been accepted by Shizi. After all, beauty Zhou is a delicate person from the Imperial Palace with an unusual identity. It was not a problem to live in the backyard without any distinction. Therefore, this daughter-in-law intends to accept beauty Zhou into the concubine room.”
Tang Shishi took a breath. She looked at Lu Yufei and quickly glanced at Zhou Shunhua who was in the crowd and secretly said brilliant.
On the first day, the battle between the main room and true love has begun?
Zhou Shunhua, who had always been invisible among the maids, was stunned. She could no longer stay out of the situation. She hurried out, knelt in front of the hall, opened her mouth several times, but did not know what she could say.
Now her identity was different from the past. She was no longer the former young lady of the officials, but the one whose fate was decided by another. She could not interrupt before the master spoke.
Zhao Chengjun looked at the woman in front of him and finally moved his gaze to Zhao Zixun, “This is your woman. What do you think?”
Zhao Zixun folded his hands, “I’ll let father arrange this.”
Zhao Chengjun seemed to smile, but the smile was fleeting as if it had never happened. With a chill in his eyes, Zhao Chengjun said, “Your own personal affairs, I will not be involved. If this is the case, it is up to Shizifei to decide.”
“Thank you, father.” Lu Yufei saluted Zhao Chengjun and lowered her neck, “This daughter-in-law, as Shizifei, always keeps the responsibilities in mind and dare not to be arrogant and jealous. I should open more branches and leaves for the imperial family. Shizi, as the only son of the Jing Wang mansion, it’s not proper to have only one concubine, so it’s better to accept another one.”
Tang Shishi’s eyes rounded in surprise again. What? Was she crazy, or was Lu Yufei crazy?
Took a concubine on the first day of her marriage. It was already not a pleasure to have one, but still wanted to add another?
Zhao Chengjun put down the teacup in his hand with a very indifferent expression, “Do you really think so?”
“Yes. A woman should be generous, filial, chaste, obey, warm and virtuous, and not jealous. This daughter-in-law as Shizifei should lead by example.” Lu Yufei lowered her head and continued, “This daughter-in-law thinks that Ren Yujun is good. She and beauty Zhou have a sworn sisterhood relationship, and they both serve Shizi together before. If they can stay by Shizi’s side, it will be a great story.”
Zhao Chengjun looked at Zhao Zixun and slowly asked, “What do you think?”
Zhao Zixun lowered his hand, “Shizifei knows the righteousness. This son respects her very much.”
Zhao Chengjun did not want to talk anymore. He nodded and said, “Good. You can decide among husband and wife, and don’t have to ask me again in the future.”
With that, he stood up and walked out without saying anything.
Tang Shishi hurriedly followed. She walked around the master chair and met with Lu Yufei and Zhao Zixun in the hall. Tang Shishi nodded and smiled out of politeness. When she passed by Zhou Shunhua, she quickly swept past her, then withdrew her eyes and quickly chased after him.
Zhao Chengjun walked very fast all the way. At first, Tang Shishi walked quickly and later had to jog while carrying her skirt and barely keeping up. When she arrived in the study room, Tang Shishi was already out of breath.
As soon as Zhao Chengjun entered the door, he went to the inner room. Tang Shishi wittily headed towards her room. Zhao Chengjun was obviously in a bad mood, whoever went in to disturb him now would have a stroke of bad luck. Tang Shishi has made up her mind to stay in her small pavilion until dark and resolutely not hit his button.
However, she wanted to protect her life wisely, at the same time, other people also wanted to. Not long after Tang Shishi sat down, there was a knock on the pavilion door. Liu Ji stood outside smiling and said to Tang Shishi, “Miss Tang, the tea is ready. You can bring it to Wangye.”
Tang Shishi widened her eyes in surprise and pointed to herself, “Me?”
“That’s right.” Liu Ji smiled and said, “The tea is here, it will be cold in a while. Miss Tang, quickly go now.”
Tang Shishi was unconvinced, this is obviously pushing her out as a pathfinder. However, the current situation was better than others. Liu Ji smiled like a smiling tiger. Tang Shishi did not dare to challenge him. She could only put on a smile, “Thank you Gonggong to think highly of me, I am very honored.”
Tang Shishi pick up the teapot and walked towards the inner room like not afraid of death. Inside the partition door, Zhao Chengjun was reading a letter. Tang Shishi carefully figured out Zhao Chengjun’s expression. However, Zhao Chengjun was calm and ordinary and really could not see any clues.
This was often more terrifying than getting angry. She was not afraid of Zhao Chengjun being angry, but not knowing whether he was angry or not.
Tang Shishi gently put the teapot on Zhao Chengjun’s table, and said carefully, “Wangye, tea is here.”
Zhao Chengjun did not speak, but Tang Shishi grasped the mood and asked quietly, “Wangye, are you angry about Shizi accepting concubines’ matter? This is a trivial matter after all, and it was brought up by Shizifei. So please relax and wait for the prince’s mansion to have a child.”
“A trivial matter?” Zhao Chengjun put down the letter and looked at Tang Shishi with a smile, “Do you think this is a trivial matter?”
Tang Shishi vaguely felt that this was a proposition. She hesitated for a while and said tentatively, “It’s really not ethical to accept concubines as soon as he got married. Shizi shouldn’t be like this.”
Tang Shishi observed Zhao Chengjun’s expression while talking to him and was ready to change her tune anytime. However, Zhao Chengjun did not continue to flare up and it seemed that she had made the right bet. Tang Shishi let out a long sigh of relief and an unexpected feeling appeared in her heart.
Tang Mingzhe, a merchant with little ink in his stomach, could not help but accept a concubine as soon as he succeeded. Unexpectedly, Zhao Chengjun, as a prince, would mind accepting concubines so much.
It was really amazing. In this aspect, Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun were not like father and son.
Tang Shishi tentatively asked, “Wangye, you don’t like Shizi to have concubines?”
“If you have no children, you can accept concubines. On the first day of his marriage, even the legitimate wife didn’t have a bloodline yet, he took the lead in accepting two concubines. What kind of behavior is this? And when I asked him, he actually threw the decision to Shizifei, as if accepting concubines was Shizifei idea…” Zhao Chengjun said and held down his eyebrows again. No, he could not think about it, he became angrier when he thought about it.
Tang Shishi probably understood what Zhao Chengjun meant. He hated that Zhao Zixun was not clear about the importance of the eldest son’s legitimate wife. He also hated that Zhao Zixun was not decisive enough, hesitated when ran into serious matters, and he left the black pot to a woman. Tang Shishi poured a cup of tea for Zhao Chengjun, and put it in Zhao Chengjun’s hand, “Wangye, you calm down. It’s him who takes concubines, not you. It’s not worth your anger. It’s because of his immaturity that Shizi needs to be checked by Wangye. Or do you want to quietly solve Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun?”
Tang Shishi said with a look of anticipation, Zhao Chengjun chuckled, then his face suddenly cold, “I think you are the one who needs to be solved the most. Go back and copy your book.”
Tang Shishi’s calculations were unsuccessful and gave an “Oh” unwillingly. Then she went back to copy the book reluctantly. After Tang Shishi left, Zhao Chengjun looked at the letter in front of him and found that he was not as angry as before.
After being interrupted by Tang Shishi, his mood improved miraculously. It was also rare.