It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 43 New Year
Soon after Tang Shishi left, Zhao Chengjun also left. The upper floor was half empty in an instant, leaving only Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei sitting in the partitioned area.
Lu Yufei moved her fingers and winked at her dowry maid. The maid knew it well and led the others to leave quietly.
Lu Yufei hesitated for a long time, thinking about what to say, “Shizi.”
“What’s the matter?”
“I went to Yichun pavilion today because I saw a secret letter. I was afraid that something might happen, so I set a trap just in case. But I dare to promise that all my actions are for the sake of Jing Wang’s mansion. If Shizi doesn’t believe me, I can swear.”
“I didn’t not believe you.” Zhao Zixun looked down and said, “You are the Shizifei chosen by father. Of course, everything is good. I understood all these things. You don’t have to explain them specifically.”
Lu Yufei let out a long sigh of relief. She paused and asked in a low voice, “Shizi, I meant to catch the spy. I didn’t expect it to be Miss Tang who pushed the door. Will Miss Tang be…”
“She?” Zhao Zixun laughed, which sounded very indifferent, “It won’t be her.”
“But that place is so secluded, and Miss Tang came alone. If she didn’t see the secret letter, how did she find the place?”
“It won’t be her.” Zhao Zixun was very firm as before, resolute and decisive, “Although your plan was a secret, it’s hard to guarantee there will be no oversight in between. The other party will calculate it too, and it’s possible to deliberately stir the muddy water. But no matter who the spy is, it won’t be Tang Shishi. How can she have that brain?”
After hearing Zhao Zixun’s reply, Lu Yufei’s face was inexplicably difficult to look at. She smiled stiffly, “Shizi is right. After all, Miss Tang is the maid of Wangye, and Wangye always has regulations in his nature. If it weren’t for Miss Tang, then why didn’t the owner of the secret letter come? Or she was here, but was caught by something?”
Zhao Zixun’s face was indifferent, “I don’t know this either. This is a matter of the outer courtyard, and my father will investigate it. It’s enough for you to manage your own internal affairs, and don’t meddle in others.”
Zhao Zixun’s tone did not sound peculiar, but the implied meaning was still strange. Lu Yufei’s heart was heavy, and carefully looked at Zhao Zixun’s complexion, “Shizi said as if it was me who has overstepped. Shizi, I was shocked when I found the letter in beauty Zhou’s room at first, for fear that it would make Shizi unhappy. I don’t know why no one came today, and it was very fortunate that this person is not beauty Zhou.”
Zhao Zixun stared at the stage below. At this time, there was a fire shot out from the stage, and the scene suddenly became lively. Initially, Lu Yufei was waiting nervously for Zhao Zixun’s reply but was interrupted by the fire scene. Lu Yufei looked back at the stage, and naturally, the topic just now was dropped.
Lu Yufei was very regretful. Obviously, the fish has taken the bait but ran away abruptly. Next time, she did not know when she would have such a good opportunity again.
To make matters worse, Zhao Zixun seemed to be dissatisfied with her. At this time, Lu Yufei did not take it too seriously as she thought that Zhao Zixun just could not pull it off for a while.
She was only a concubine, how much sincerity there could be. Plus, Zhou Shunhua was suspected to be a spy from Jinling. Lu Yufei did not believe that Zhou Shunhua could continue to be favored.
In the study room, Liu Ji brought a cup of tea to Zhao Chengjun. Zhao Chengjun was pressing his eyebrows and said, “It’s too noisy just now. I can finally be quiet for a while.”
Liu Ji knew that Zhao Chengjun did not sleep very well all the time. He would have a headache at the slightest movement and could not sleep all night. Zhao Chengjun did not like raucous and hated noise which has something to do with his insomnia.
Zhao Chengjun had this illness since he was a child. This illness was not prominent when he was in the imperial palace before. First, there was a night curfew in the Imperial Palace, and once the Imperial Palace gate was closed, it was peaceful and quiet. Second, Emperor Shizong and Imperial Consort Gonglie loved their son and never let anyone speak loudly near Zhao Chengjun’s palace. Therefore, although Zhao Chengjun’s insomnia existed, it was not so serious. However, since the death of Imperial Consort Gonglie, Zhao Chengjun had suffered a great blow, his mind became heavier, and his illness became uncontrollable.
Zhao Chengjun could not even stand the slightest sound of the wind at night, let alone such a noisy banquet. Liu Ji bowed and looked at Zhao Chengjun feeling distressed for him, “Wangye, since you don’t like it, why don’t you tell Shizifei not to invite the theatrical troupe? It’s obviously New Year’s Eve, but Wangye can’t even have a peaceful meal.”
Zhao Chengjun pressed his eyebrows and said slowly, “No worries, it’s not a big deal. I can’t stand the noise, but they are all young people, different from me. It’s rare to have fun once, just let them be.”
Liu Ji sighed and did not know what to say anymore. Zhao Chengjun leaned on the table to relax his mind with his eyes closed. Liu Ji waited for a while and asked softly, “Wangye, what do you think about tonight matters…”
Speaking of tonight, Zhao Chengjun smiled. He did not open his eyes and said unhurriedly, “I know what you wanted to ask, it won’t be her. She’s just stupid, trying to calculate someone, but she was trapped instead.”
Liu Ji pursed his lips which made him unable to answer. Liu Ji also felt that the real person behind the scenes today would not be Tang Shishi, but Liu Ji’s question was not about her.
He was not clear what Zhao Chengjun was thinking about to blurt out Tang Shishi. Liu Ji could not correct him, so he could only follow along, “Wangye was trying to say that Miss Tang doesn’t look like this kind of person.”
Not a clever and sharp-witted type of person.
This was truly a very miraculous matter. The three people were guessing back and forth, and each had their own considerations. However, no one doubted the only person who broke through the scene and the three parties even felt that Tang Shishi was their own. Probably smart people have similar thinking. Things that were too obvious were always not true.
For example, Tang Shishi was clearly set out as a target.
After Liu Ji finished speaking with Zhao Chengjun, he could bring up the topic he really wanted to ask, “Wangye, the informer came to report that Zhou Shun Hua went out during the banquet, and then tailed by Miss Tang.”
“En.” Zhao Chengjun answered. He had expected it to be Zhou Shun Hua for a long time and now it was just a corroboration. Zhao Chengjun said, “Continue to watch attentively. Don’t alarm her. Let her be.”
“Yes.” After Liu Ji finished speaking, he paused and asked probingly, “Wangye, should we talk to Shizifei about tonight?”
This Shizifei was too anxious and overstepped. How long has it been since she entered the mansion, she rushed to take over Tongxiu’s authority, and still deliberately compared with Tongxiu. Since Zhao Chengjun already said those things, of course, he would certainly delegate the power to her. However, Lu Yufei was still too impatient.
Self-confidence was not a bad thing. Her fault was that she had self-confidence without skills.
Zhao Chengjun sighed slightly and said, “I only met her a few times before getting engaged. At that time, I felt that this woman was more heroic and decisive, and she was better than those docile ladies, so I decided on her. I originally thought that Zhao Zixun was headstrong and matching him with a gentle and virtuous person would only further encourage his unhealthy trends. It would be better to find someone with a strong temperament. Unexpectedly, Lu Yufei was indeed someone with a strong temperament, but she wasn’t strong enough.”
Liu Ji asked, “Wangye, you see…”
“Let’s take a look again. After all, she is still young, teach her slowly, and can always teach her again. At least she has a strong temperament. If she changes to a gentle and agreeable one, then it will be a big problem.”
After hearing this, Liu Ji stayed quiet for a while, and said quietly, “Actually, there is a better solution to this matter. It will be much easier if you marry a Wangfei. If in any circumstances that Wangfei does not agree with you, you can always teach her yourself. After all, Shizifei is a generation away, and there are some things that it’s hard to say, but if there is a Wangfei, then it will be different.”
Zhao Chengjun ignored it. Since he ignored it which meant Liu Ji could continue to talk about it, so Liu Ji continued boldly, “This old servant will say something bold. The chaos in the inner mansion is all due to the inexistence of a Wangfei to hold down the fort. There is a difference between having a mistress and not having a mistress. When there is a Wangfei above, even if the Wangfei does nothing, she can deter the people below. If there is no mistress, even Tongxiu can’t control people’s hearts no matter how capable she is.”
Zhao Chengjun did not show any expression as if he did not hear it at all. But Liu Ji just discovered something very remarkable. In the past, Liu Ji would be stopped as long as he started this topic. However, this time after he finished talking, Zhao Chengjun just ignored him with a cold face.
The meaning behind this change was extraordinary.
While Zhao Chengjun was resting, suddenly there was a loud boom of firecrackers outside. Zhao Chengjun was woken up by the loud sound, and finally, the sleepiness that had been brewing was swept away.
Liu Ji was observing Zhao Chengjun’s expression and immediately said, “Wangye, please calm down. This old servant will stop them at once.”
“No need.” Zhao Chengjun stood up from his sitting position and said, “It’s rare to have a holiday. They don’t have a lot of fun throughout the year. There’s no need to spoil everyone’s mood just because of me. Let’s go out and have a look.”
After Tang Shishi finished changing her clothes, she returned to the main courtyard where everyone was excited about lighting up the firecrackers to make crackling sounds everywhere. It was going to be New Year Day soon. Some young manservants brought out bundles of fireworks from the warehouse. Some courageous maids took the incense stick and stretched out their arms to light up the fireworks. As soon as the fuse was ignited, the maids ran back to their group of sisters, and the group of people screamed and jumped happily to watch the fireworks.
The mistresses were much nobler. Each of the beauties held the style of the Imperial Court and refused to go down to mingle with the maids. Instead, they stood high in the corridor to guard their prestige and criticize the courtyard scene. Tang Shishi came in through the side door and wanted to sneak into the crowd quietly. Unfortunately, Ji Xinxian was standing not far away and saw her when she turned around. She immediately yelled out, “Tang Shishi! Why are you here and why did you change your clothes?”
When she came closer, Tang Shishi gave an ambiguous answer, “A New Year signified a new beginning. Since the New Year is here, it’s natural to change into new clothes.”
Ji Xinxian did not believe this type of saying. She walked over and sized up and down Tang Shishi, “If you are changing into new clothes, why your cloak is still the old one? What are you trying to hide?”
Tang Shishi’s heart thumped that she forgot about her little secret. She wore her previous clothes to the Yichun pavilion and changed into the lead dancer’s clothes. Her previous clothes were left in the Yichun pavilion. The weather outside was too cold and Tang Shishi must wear a cloak when she returned to the banquet hall. When her performance was over, Tang Shishi did not want to be found out and slipped back to Jianjia courtyard and asked a maid to go to the Yichun pavilion quietly to pick up her dress. As a result, the dress inside was changed, but the cloak remained the same.
How did Ji Xinxian suddenly have a brain while Tang Shishi made a mistake? Tang Shishi just has to dodge it if she could not outspeak Ji Xinxian. So, when Tang Shishi saw Zhao Chengjun coming in from the main entrance, she immediately shook off Ji Xinxian and welcomed him with great joy, “Wangye!”
Originally, Zhao Chengjun just wanted to show his face, and then go back to rest. As soon as he crossed over the doorway, he saw Tang Shishi running towards him excitedly. Instinctively, Zhao Chengjun was startled, and could not help but stop in his tracks, “What’s happened?”
Tang Shishi rushed to Zhao Chengjun’s side, and said with a smiling expression, “Congratulations to Wangye, and Happy New Year.”
The sound of firecrackers along with her wishes indicated the New Year had arrived. All kinds of fireworks suddenly exploded behind her in various sizes and shapes in the nighttime sky. It was very colorful and magnificent and reflected extremely brightly in her eyes.
Zhao Chengjun was about to speak, but he suddenly frowned, and then pulled her aside. Tang Shishi stumbled due to the sudden pull. When she was about to stand still, she noticed that a firecracker barrel fell down where she was standing just now, and it was still billowing smoke.
Tang Shishi stroked her chest out of fear, it was too thrilling. If she did not escape in time, the firecracker barrel would fall on her clothes or even her head. Zhao Chengjun looked at the courtyard coldly, but it was a mess now. Everyone was busy watching fireworks, setting off fireworks, and did not know who made the mistake.
Seeing that Zhao Chengjun’s complexion was not good, Tang Shishi did not want him to be upset in the New Year, so she quickly pulled Zhao Chengjun’s sleeve. When Zhao Chengjun lowered his head, Tang Shishi perked up with a smiling expression and said, “It was just a false alarm, which means that I will be able to turn a misfortune into a blessing this coming year. This is a good sign. Thank you, Wangye.”
Zhao Chengjun’s expression remained the same. Tang Shishi could only blink and with an innocent look on her face, “Wangye, you have to welcome a good omen on the first day of the New Year. So, you can’t be angry. If you are angry, how can I spend this coming year.”
Zhao Chengjun could not help but glance at her. The corner of his mouth turned up into a smile when he raised his head. Tang Shishi was relieved and purposely said in an exaggerated tone, “Wangye, you smile. This is a happy event. Your constant smiles show that everything is going well this year. This little girl congratulated Wangye in advance, wishing Wangye every year there is today and there is today every year.”