It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 41 Presenting the Dance
After Zhao Chengjun left, the dancers only dared to surround her, “Miss Tang, was that Jing Wang just now?”
Tang Shishi nodded triflingly, “It’s him.”
The dancers covered their mouths in astonishment and jabbered, “It turned out to be Wangye, I have grown so old and have never seen a real imperial family member.”
“Shut up.” The leading dancer scolded, “The prince is as noble as jade, how can you talk about him so casually?”
After finishing speaking, the leading dancer looked at Tang Shishi with vigilance eyes, “Miss Tang, the dance that Wangye talked about just now… is it true?”
“Of course.” Tang Shishi wanted to roll her eyes, but she was afraid of others would find out. She could only silently curse Jing Wang and said with reverence, “Jing Wang never joked. Whatever he said, he will get it done.”
“Ah…” There were voices of different volumes from the dancers, some worried and some surprised. Looking at some spirited dancers, Tang Shishi suddenly asked, “How long have you been practicing your dance?”
Tang Shishi showed a look of despair and asked, “How long have you been dancing together? How about tacit understanding among you?”
The lead dancer said, “Miss Tang, from the moment the newest junior girl joined, we have been practicing dancing together for two years now.”
“Two years…” Tang Shishi’s eyes became dark. They have been dancing together for two years and still need to spend a month practicing this dance. Hence, the probability of Tang Shishi learning this dance in a quarter of an hour would be small.
Without any hope, Tang Shishi asked, “Is your formation complicated? Is it possible to add one more person temporarily?”
“This…” The dancers were embarrassed and shook their heads slightly. “I’m afraid it won’t work.”
Tang Shishi also felt it was impossible. She was running out of time, and at the last moment disrupting the formation will only make the situation worse. Tang Shishi looked at the leading dancer, “We are about the same figure. Give me your dance clothes and I will dance for you. Don’t worry, your reward is indispensable.”
Of course, the leading dancer did not dare to refuse Tang Shishi, so she had to give up her clothes obediently. Tang Shishi chose the most comfortable venue regardless of her age or social status and immediately let the lead dancer teach her to dance. For a quarter of an hour, they all went into battle together and taught Tang Shishi all their movements.
However, the time was still too rushed. After Tang Shishi learned the dance moves, she did not even have time to rehearse with the team, and someone came from the banquet hall. The eunuch stood at the doorway and said with a smile, “Miss Tang, it’s your turn to go on stage.”
The eunuch came, which showed that this was a person sent by Zhao Chengjun. Tang Shishi knew that delaying time was hopeless, so she could only take a deep breath and smiled, “Coming at once.”
Tang Shishi comforted herself in her heart that when the boat arrived at the bridge, it would be straightened no matter what. Maybe she was exceptionally gifted and would not make any mistakes without rehearsing.
The dancers were dancing the Dunhuang’s dance. Their clothes were close-fitting and brightly colorful. They have many jingles bracelets on their hands and ankles, and masks on their faces, full of exotic flair. Tang Shishi was a little grateful for the mask. Fortunately, her face was covered. As long as Zhao Chengjun did not say it, no one knew that the person on the stage was Tang Shishi. Even if she failed, she would only lose face in front of Jing Wang.
Outside, she could still be a talented woman with various skills.
After Lu Yufei returned to the banquet hall, she was quite absent-minded. Today’s game was originally set up for Zhou Shunhua. When she got started, she gave a lot of money to bribe many servants. One of them came to inform her that she had found a letter under Zhou Shunhua’s bed.
Then Lu Yufei went all in and found that someone had written to Zhou Shunhua to ask her to meet in the garden. Lu Yufei remembered that these people were beauties sent from the Imperial Palace. Zhou Shunhua had quite a background in the capital and was said to be the daughter of a court official.
Lu Yufei made up her mind, imitating the format and handwriting of the letter, and wrote a new letter to Zhou Shunhua, asking her to meet in the side room of Yichun Pavilion at the time of haishi (9 pm to 11 pm) on New Year’s Eve. Afterward, Lu Yufei asked someone to put the letter under Zhou Shunhua’s bed, in the original position.
Lu Yufei sent someone specially to stare at it, and sure enough, the letter disappeared the next day. Originally, Lu Yufei should report the incident immediately, but she was greedy, and she wanted to get rid of Zhou Shunhua forever.
A woman’s intuition was very scary. Lu Yufei has a premonition that if she did not get rid of Zhou Shunhua now, she would regret all her life.
Lu Yufei did not send her minions, pretending not to know about this, and still prepared for the New Year’s Eve banquet. When the banquet was about to start in the evening, Lu Yufei secretly reported to Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun. To prevent Zhao Zixun from being soft-hearted, she deliberately chose to say it in front of Jing Wang. In this way, Zhao Zixun could not deliberately let Zhou Shunhua go.
For this reason, Lu Yufei specially arranged the location of the second floor, with screens installed around it, so that the people below could not see the whereabouts of Jing Wang. They have already moved to Yichun Pavilion, waiting for the rabbit that took the initiative to run into them.
However, Lu Yufei did not expect that the person pushing the door was not Zhou Shunhua, but Tang Shishi. When she first saw Tang Shishi, Lu Yufei felt a thump in her heart. She thought Tang Shishi was Zhao Chengjun’s person, and she had already surrendered to Jing Wang. Unexpectedly, she was not.
Why would Jing Wang be at ease to put such a person in his study room?
Lu Yufei was shocked at the time. On one hand, Lu Yufei felt that she had uncovered a spy on behalf of the mansion, and she was a meritorious servant. On the other hand, she was worried that Jing Wang would be angry and took his anger out on her. After all, this kind of thing was not very decent. Since Lu Yufei exposed it in front of everyone, she was afraid that Jing Wang would lose his reputation.
Who would have imagined that Jing Wang was not angry at all, and even laughed when he saw Tang Shishi appear at that time? Only a ghost knew what he was laughing at. After that, Jing Wang slowly seized the loopholes of Tang Shishi. It did not look like a spy type of interrogation, but rather… with some kind of interest?
Lu Yufei walked back to the banquet hall with these strange feelings. After entering the banquet hall, Lu Yufei found that Zhou Shunhua had returned. She was sitting in her seat and was engrossed in watching the play as if she had been watching it for a long time. Lu Yufei stared at her coldly, brushed off her sleeve, and finally walked upstairs.
Lu Yufei knew that this round has been wasted. This was the best opportunity to eliminate Zhou Shunhua. Next time, it would be much more difficult to catch her again.
Lu Yufei sat on the upper floor, absent-minded all the time. The noise on the stage was very lively, but she did not hear a word.
Lu Yufei found that she was unconsciously paying attention to the time. When the time finally arrived at the second quarter of haishi (9 pm – 11 pm), she unknowingly breathed a sigh of relief. Soon after, Lu Yufei was surprised to find that not only she was like this, but also Zhao Zixun and even Zhao Chengjun.
They were all anticipating for this moment to arrive.
The lights on the stage dimmed, and the troupe removed the shelves and replaced them with red lanterns all around the stage. The lanterns were dim, and even the stage was half-bright and half-dark.
The people downstairs were surprised and asked, “What’s going on? Why is the light suddenly dimmed?”
Zhao Chengjun tapped his fingers slowly on the tabletop, smiling and waiting for the upcoming good show.
Several women in brightly colorful dance costumes came on the stage. Their costumes imitated the Flying Apsaras of Dunhuang, with masks on their faces making it difficult to see what they looked like. However, as soon as several people took the stage, Zhao Chengjun instantly focused his eyes on one person.
Not only him, but other people also noticed this person more or less. It was hard to say why, but some people stood out more in the crowd and have outstanding temperaments. Even if without the bonus appearance, her figure stood out among the ordinary people.
When the drumbeat began, the dancers began to move and spun slowly with the rhythm of the drum, making various gentle and beautiful movements. Zhao Chengjun looked at the dance below and was unable to restrain his smile.
There was no problem with her movements, it was difficult for her to finish learning in a quarter of an hour. However, this dance seemed to be different, and there was no coordination at all.
Zhao Chengjun’s fingers tapped on the edge of the table, his eyebrows were relaxed, and he was obviously in a good mood. Lu Yufei withdrew her gaze, and suddenly grew a strong kind of fear in her heart.
There was no doubt that Jing Wang treated Tang Shishi differently. It turned out that Lu Yufei thought that the difference was merely the difference between a man and a somewhat beautiful woman. It was just like Lu Yufei’s father’s concubines. No matter how much favored, after the freshness was over, they were just a plaything and nothing more.
However, what she saw today completely shattered Lu Yufei’s perception. She had never seen Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi got along with each other before. Lu Yufei had a preconceived idea that Tang Shishi was just a beautiful flower vase. There was still freshness now, so he just kept her. However, the facts made Lu Yufei stunned.
Lu Yufei suddenly flashed an extremely dreadful thought, what should be done if Tang Shishi gave birth to Jing Wang’s heir? This thought scared her. Lu Yufei immediately comforted herself, this would not happen. Jing Wang has raised Zhao Zixun for many years and would never do anything to abolish him midway. Jing Wang would not let her give birth to heirs with Tang Shishi’s identity.
Lu Yufei was letting her imagination run wild. She did not pay attention to the second half of the dance, and the drumbeat suddenly stopped. Lu Yufei returned to her senses and found that the dancers below had finished dancing and were performing the finale’s move. The woman in the middle was entangled by something and caused her to stagger once.
At that time, Tang Shishi wanted to die and kept praying that the people below must not recognize her. It was too humiliating.
Tang Shishi danced stiffly and dared to not change for a long time. She danced for a long time, but no one from above stopped her. Then, Tang Shishi had a little mishap, and the womenfolk downstairs also began to whisper, “What’s wrong?”
“What are they waiting for?”
People were whispering among themselves while Liu Ji came down the stairs, put his hands together, and smiled, “Wangye saw this dance and found it very refreshing. Who’s the lead dancer, follow this old servant and Wangye has something to say.”
Tang Shishi stood up, ran down the steps quickly holding her skirt, and followed Liu Ji upstairs. Tang Shishi’s gorgeous skirt swept past the tables, and the womenfolk paused for a while, and suddenly realized something was wrong, “She seems to have not taken off her mask. Brazen. How dare she greet Wangye with the face mask on?”
Tang Shishi pretended not to hear the grievances from below. Tang Shishi had already stepped into the second floor. After the screen was closed, Tang Shishi stood far away in the corner, and did not want to face the people inside, “Pay respect to Wangye, Shizi, and Shizifei.”
Zhao Chengjun looked at her and asked suddenly, “Having an audience with me while wearing a mask. Could it be you want to assassinate me?”
“Don’t dare.” Tang Shishi reply at once. Her voice sounded muffled when passing through the mask. She was embarrassed for a while and unwilling to remove the golden mask, “Wangye.”
“This is the dance you carefully prepared? No wonder you must go to a place where no one is around to practice. The standard is indeed not high.” Zhao Chengjun said calmly, “All the performances on New Year’s Eve should be rewarded, but your dance is really bad, let alone rewards. I think it’s punishment.”
“No way.” Tang Shishi was surprised when she blurted out with an incredulous face, “I meant well, but the outcome is not something that I can ask for and I still have to get punishment?”
“En.” Zhao Chengjun nodded and said casually, “In my place, the rules are like this.”
If this could be tolerated, then what was intolerable. It was possible to insult Tang Shishi, as long as not ask her to fork out money. Tang Shishi was angry, suddenly stepped forward, and in a flash, she was next to Zhao Chengjun’s side.
The guards and eunuchs behind him were alert in an instant, and Zhao Chengjun waved his hand to signal them not to move.
Tang Shishi grabbed Zhao Chengjun’s sword and suddenly drew it out. At this time, even Zhao Zixun could not help but feel tense, but Zhao Chengjun was still sitting in his seat steadily, watching Tang Shishi spin a few times swiftly before retreating five steps away.
Tang Shishi stared at Zhao Chengjun intently and said, “Wangye, since you are not satisfied with the dance performance just now, this little girl will dance for you alone.”
After Tang Shishi finished speaking, she held the sword in her right hand and pulled a sword flower, then she suddenly leaped from the spot. Earlier, the dance performed by Tang Shishi was not choreographed by her but was by the dancers. Tang Shishi was just posing as the original lead dancer. Now, it was Tang Shishi who choreographed the dance by herself.
Her stature was slender, especially her legs were straight, slender, and long, and her body proportions looked exceptionally well-balanced. Her sword pose was neat, fast, and powerful. When she did a bridge pose, her waist was soft and flexible and full of feminine beauty.
There was no music to accompany her sword dance because the jingle ornaments bracelets worn on her body were the best music. The jingle ornaments bracelets on her wrists and ankles clashed back and forth, making jingling sounds. This sword dance was sometimes fast and slow, a combination of both hardness and softness. When she spun, she was as graceful as a butterfly. When she stopped, she could freeze in an instant. Tang Shishi’s eyes were never evasive throughout the whole sword dance and always looked directly at Zhao Chengjun.
She was so beautiful, at the same time very provocative.
Towards the end, she leaped high and pointed the tip of the sword at Zhao Chengjun. The guards and others had already secretly held their swords. Zhao Chengjun smiled slightly, without any evasion. Halfway through, Tang Shishi suddenly turned around and made a loop in the air. This caused the Flying Apsaras’s dress to almost turn halo under the light. In the end, Tang Shishi landed on her toes, and all her movements stopped. It was such a beautiful ending.
This sword dance consumed a lot of physical strength and Tang Shishi could not help but feel breathless. The upper floor was quiet and could only hear Tang Shishi’s panting for air. After a while, Zhao Chengjun applauded first, “Great.”
Tang Shishi seemed to be proud of herself and was showing off at the same time. She deliberately asked, “Wangye, do I still have to get punishment now?”
“No, it’ll be a reward. ” When Zhao Chengjun finished, he could not help but laugh, “I’ve never seen you being so motivated before. A reward can force you to become like this. You are full of future prospects.”