IBTBTED Chapter 48
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 48 Mistress
Tang Shishi’s eyebrows twitched slightly. She thought yesterday’s matter had passed and did not expect Jing Wang would investigate it thoroughly. Probably it was the order of Jing Wang to toss about in the Yinian courtyard all morning.
Jing Wang suppressed everything that happened last night except for several people that were involved, no one else knew about Zhao Zixun being drugged. This was not a good thing after all. It would only damage Zhao Zixun’s reputation when it was spread out. As early as last night, Zhao Chengjun suppressed it like lightning when some clues had been discovered.
Now, only these few people in the main hall and the true mastermind behind the scenes knew the truth of what had happened last night.
Tang Shishi came forward with the tea, softly and gently removed Zhao Chengjun’s teacup, and changed it to the new tea. At this moment, only the sound of her pouring water could be heard in the room. Lu Yufei could not help but raise her eyes secretly. They were being served in the main hall, trembling with fear, and dared not speak, while Tang Shishi could pour tea freely.
Zhao Zixun frowned, looked at Tang Shishi several times, and his expression was very restrained. Zhao Chengjun did not plan to drink any water, but after Tang Shishi changed to the new tea, unknowingly, he picked up the teacup and slowly stroked it in his hand.
Zhao Chengjun took his time and asked, “Why, can’t you say it?”
“I don’t dare.” Zhao Zixun withdrew his gaze promptly. He originally had a concern about Tang Shishi’s presence and felt that it was not appropriate for her to listen to these secrets of the mansion. However, Zhao Chengjun was already annoyed, and Zhao Zixun did not dare to delay any more, so he could only respectfully say, “Father has ordered and I dared not neglect. After returning last night, I interrogate all the people who handled it and left nothing unturned. Finally found out that it was the maid who delivered the wine yesterday. She was greedy and wanted to climb up. So, she secretly added an aphrodisiac drug to my wine. I overlooked for a while and was caught in her insidious scheme.”
Tang Shishi put down the teapot, handed the old tea to the maid, and stood beside Zhao Chengjun with her hands together. She kept busy with her hands, but she did not stop listening. Zhao Chengjun did not believe what Zhao Zixun said, and even Tang Shishi did not believe it.
How could such a little maid dare to drug Shizi? Even if she was brave enough to climb the bed, where did she find the aphrodisiac, and why did not she appear after she succeeded?
This statement sounded reasonable at first, but after thorough consideration, it was simply groundless.
This was the outcome of Zhao Zixun’s investigation. Zhao Chengjun held the teacup in his hand and said nothing. He just looked at Lu Yufei, “There is a difference between inside and outside. Men shouldn’t get too involved in the internal affairs of the mansion. Shizifei, you are the mistress of the mansion, what did you find out?”
Lu Yufei suddenly became nervous. She did not dare to lift her head and submissively said, “Exactly like what Shizi has said. When Shizi interrogated the maidservants, I was also present at that time. It was indeed the maid who was bold and wanted to climb up to seek fame and fortune. She secretly plotted against Shizi.”
Tang Shishi secretly raised her eyebrows. The husband and wife were single-minded. Even if Lu Yufei had a conflict with Zhao Zixun, he would still be the person next to the pillow after all. No matter what happened, of course, Lu Yufei would certainly cover up for Zhao Zixun. Then, how could she face Zhao Chengjun?
Zhao Chengjun’s face was indifferent, and his disappointment could not be concealed from his heart. He put down the teacup and said, “Since your husband and wife already investigated it, then just deal accordingly. What do you plan to do?”
Zhao Zixun lowered his eyes and said calmly, “Following offense of not observing women’s morals. She should beat to death.”
Beat to death… Lu Yufei’s complexion was not very good. She arranged the workforce. Therefore Lu Yufei was also to blame for the problem of the maid who sent the wine. Zhao Zixun’s treatment was so merciless. Was not he telling everyone in the mansion that Lu Yufei was incompetent?
Tang Shishi heard the words “beat to death” again. When Ren Yujun’s clothes offended Jing Wang in the beginning, Zhao Zixun said beat her to death without hesitation. This man was back-to-back a romantic kind of person. When he was heartless, he was really heartless.
He really deserved to be the Emperor who took over the harem in the future. It would be like treasure if being favored, and it would be like dust if falls out of favor.
Lu Yufei lowered her head and said nothing. Zhao Chengjun looked at the performance of the two in front of him, and his heart became colder and colder.
Tang Shishi observed Zhao Zixun silently. Even as an outsider, she knew that the person who slipped the drug would not be a wine delivery maid. How could Zhao Zixun not be aware of it? Yet, he still did not blink his eyes and wanted to execute a completely innocent maid.
When Zhao Chengjun was about to say something, Tang Shishi suddenly spoke and interrupted Zhao Chengjun’s words, “Wangye, a person is not a sage who can do no wrong. The maid should die if she made a mistake, but she doesn’t understand anything. Heaven has the virtue of cherishing life. I hope that Wangye will give her another chance to correct her mistake.”
Zhao Zixun looked at Tang Shishi in surprise and said with a calm face, “Brazen. Is there any reason for you to interrupt when my father is speaking?”
Zhao Chengjun raised his hand, and Zhao Zixun’s words were blocked. He looked at Zhao Chengjun in disbelief, but Zhao Chengjun looked calm with a firm attitude. Zhao Zixun dared not say anymore and could only swallow his words.
Zhao Chengjun remained composed, and asked, “So, what do you think?”
Tang Shishi dared not offend Zhou Shunhua in front of Zhao Zixun. She lowered her eyes and said, “This little girl is humble and dares not comment. But I’ve always heard that Wangye is all-knowing and impartial. I think Wangye will be able to handle the matter well.”
Zhao Chengjun smiled. She knew how to calculate others but did not want to take responsibility for herself and just wanted to flatter him. Zhao Chengjun said while smiling, “I’m not an arbitrary person. You can say what you think, and I’ll not pursue it.”
Tang Shishi was going to let it pass. Was not Zhao Chengjun acting arbitrarily? Zhao Chengjun really deserved to be a man who grew up in the Imperial Court and played the ball well. Tang Shishi opened her eyes wide and acted as if she did not hear him. Zhao Zixun did not understand Zhao Chengjun’s intention and did not dare to speak without permission. In the end, it was Lu Yufei who was ignorant and fearless who spoke first, “I also think that beat to death is too severe. Although she is guilty, she is not guilty of death. In my opinion, there’s no harm in leaving the maid’s life and sending her out of the mansion, which also can be considered as to accumulate merits for the Jing Wang mansion.”
Tang Shishi said quietly, “Then it’s better to beat her to death. Who dares to use the maid who was kicked out by the Jing Wang mansion? She will surely live worse than death.”
Zhao Chengjun’s expression was without any hint of happiness or anger. He glanced at Tang Shishi lightly, “Aren’t you afraid to speak? Now I see you have a lot of ideas.”
Tang Shishi immediately said with a smile, “Where got. I just want to share your worries for Wangye. This little girl is slow-witted and would like to listen to Wangye’s wise opinion.”
This flatterer. Zhao Chengjun sneered lightly and said, “For her first offense, I will spare her life temporarily. She will be fined for half a year’s salary and sent to the laundry room.”
The laundry room engaged in the heaviest and dirtiest job, and it was by no means a good thing to be assigned to the laundry room. However, compared with the previous beat to death or expulsion, this punishment was simply too light until outrageous. When Tang Shishi heard this, she immediately shouted, “Wangye is wise! What are you doing in a daze? Didn’t you hear what Wangye said? Why don’t you go to pass on the message?”
Zhao Zixun stood in the main hall, and before he had time to speak, Tang Shishi got too excited and finalized the matter. Zhao Zixun was somewhat annoyed. This was his personal matter and his father clearly had handed it over to him for investigation. In the end, his father did not respect his way of thinking at all. In that case, why did his father ask him in the first place?
Lu Yufei watched the scene, her mouth opened slightly, but she still dared not speak in the end. It may be a little presumptuous to think this way, but Lu Yufei really felt that Tang Shishi and Zhao Chengjun sang in harmony, just like a husband and wife sang a duet song.
Obviously, they had already discussed it and asked them to come over just for mere formality.
The matter of last night had been settled. It was not a glorious thing. After that, neither Zhao Zixun nor Zhao Chengjun wanted to talk about it anymore. Zhao Zixun retired immediately, and Lu Yufei followed Zhao Zixun and left respectfully.
After they left, Zhao Chengjun got up and walked toward the inner room. Tang Shishi naturally followed. Zhao Chengjun lifted his robe and sat down on his writing desk. Without being instructed, Tang Shishi went up to grind the ink with enthusiasm, “Thank you, Wangye. Wangye is kind-hearted and prudent. It’s like Yao and Shun* are still alive.”
(Yao and Shun* – Emperors Yao and Shun were ancient wise monarchs.)
Initially, Zhao Chengjun was in the middle of dipping his writing brush in the ink, but when he heard that, he turned his hand over and knocked Tang Shishi with the brush shaft, “What are you talking about? You want to die?”
Tang Shishi covered her forehead in pain and said, “I just accidentally said something wrong. Why do you need to use so much force?”
“Is this something that can be said casually?” Zhao Chengjun glanced at her with a slightly cold appearance and said, “Fortunately, you are in Xiping province. If you are in Jinling, you should have to apologize for your offense now.”
Tang Shishi covered the place where she was knocked with both hands, feeling wronged and dared not explain. In fact, she was also to blame for her negligence. Tang Shishi replaced the storyline of later generations and naturally used Yao and Shun to flatter Zhao Chengjun. However, she did not realize that currently Zhao Chengjun was only an official and the Emperor was the monarch. If one said this, one would be beheaded.
When Zhao Chengjun saw Tang Shishi’s arrogance wilted, he knew that she genuinely felt wrong. Zhao Chengjun with a cold complexion was dipping his writing brush in the ink and saw that Tang Shishi was still rubbing her forehead through the reflection of the ink from the inkstone.
Zhao Chengjun asked with a cold expression, “Still hurt?”
He clearly remembered that he did not use much strength.
“En.” Tang Shishi was concerned about the delicate skin on her face, whether it would leave scars when he knocked it like this and did not hear what Zhao Chengjun was asking. She answered casually and continued to focus on her face. Zhao Chengjun wrote a line, then calmly put down his brush and said, “Go and get the ointment.”
Zhao Chengjun thought that it would be better for him to get it himself than to ask her with her clumsiness. Zhao Chengjun stood up, took the Qiongyu ointment from Duobao Pavilion, and said to Tang Shishi, “Look up.”
Tang Shishi was stunned. Before she could react to what had happened, Zhao Chengjun stood in front of her, raised her chin, and forced her to look up.
Tang Shishi was surprised and instinctively dodged backward, “Wangye!”
“Don’t move.” Zhao Chengjun pressed his fingers slightly, held her chin firmly, and said, “Qiongyu ointment is the most suitable ointment for women. It helps to invigorate blood to remove blood stasis, remove scars and relieve pain. Now that I have applied the ointment, it will be fine after a while.”
Tang Shishi’s neck was stiff, her eyes were wide open, and did not dare to move at all. Tang Shishi was forced to raise her head, and her eyes naturally fell on Zhao Chengjun’s face. He leaned over slightly, looking at Tang Shishi’s forehead seriously, and circling slowly using two fingers of his right hand on it.
Tang Shishi stared into Zhao Chengjun’s eyes, unable to move her sight at all. Zhao Chengjun had sword eyebrows, starry eyes, and a high bridge nose. Because he grew up in the Imperial Court since childhood, his skin was peculiarly fair after living a pampered life. After years of training in the Northwest, his profile became stronger quickly, but his eyes still had that indifferent aura. Looking at his personality was as if separated by ice and water and would never let others get close to him.
At ordinary times, he was noble and aloof. These eyes did not know how many people had been scared away. However, now, he was looking down at Tang Shishi, and his eyes were reflecting the reflection of Tang Shishi, as if this person had really come alive.
Tang Shishi did not know how long she had been staring at him, but it was not until Zhao Chengjun’s eyebrows moved that Tang Shishi finally reacted. She realized that she was staring directly at Zhao Chengjun, and quickly looked away. However, Zhao Chengjun’s hand was still holding Tang Shishi’s chin, and she could not avoid it, so she could only stare at Zhao Chengjun’s neck awkwardly.
Today, Zhao Chengjun wore a dark red crimson robe with cyan collar lining. The noble status of the monarch’s descendants was dignified, and the use of color had always been ostentatious. Zhao Chengjun was originally a person who was not easy to approach, by wearing such a rich color on him made him even more indifferent and dignified.
A person’s origin could not be concealed. Even if Zhao Chengjun had callouses on his hands, his neck was slender and fair, and there was no wrinkle, which showed that his childhood life was extremely superior. Tang Shishi stared at him unconsciously again and suddenly discovered that Zhao Chengjun’s Adam’s apple seemed to have moved.
His neck was slender with a prominent Adam’s apple, which was particularly noticeable when it moved up and down. When Tang Shishi was in a daze, her jaw suddenly loosened. Zhao Chengjun stepped back and said, “It’s good now.”
His voice seemed a little hoarse, but he often spoke in such unhurried and calmed manners that Tang Shishi did not take it too seriously. Tang Shishi reached out and touched her forehead doubtfully. She found that it was coated with ointment, and it was rather cool.
Tang Shishi knew that the Qiongyu ointment was the secret medicine of the Imperial Court. She was quite surprised and cleverly performed the ten thousand blessing ceremony, “Thank you, Wangye.”
Zhao Chengjun did not talk much with Tang Shishi, and quickly sat back behind the table. Tang Shishi stood up slowly. When she was not sure whether she should leave or not, she heard Zhao Chengjun ask, “Why did you beg for mercy?”
Tang Shishi paused for a moment and said gently, “Because this little girl is kind, gentle, and compassionate…”
Zhao Chengjun raised his eyes and glanced at her coldly, and Tang Shishi immediately became submissive, “Because I don’t think it was the maid at all. It would be too bad for someone to die in vain when the person has no idea who it was.”
This was indeed the reason why Tang Shishi pleaded for the maid, but this was only one of them. There was also a very important point, Tang Shishi wanted to keep this person to calculate Zhou Shunhua.
Yesterday, no one knew what Zhou Shunhua and Zhao Zixun said. Anyway, today Zhao Zixun was determined to plant the drug on the maid. When the maid died, there would be no evidence left. Dead people tell no lies. However, how could Tang Shishi sit back and watch Zhou Shunhua get what she wish for? The benefit was hers, and the culprit was others. There was no such good thing in this world.
Zhao Chengjun asked casually while writing on the paper, “Who do you think it is?”
The opposite side of the table was quiet and still for a long time. Zhao Chengjun found it funny. He was dipping the brush in the inkstone and asked with a smile, “It’s been so long, haven’t you figured it out yet?”
Tang Shishi was awkward and said, “Wangye, is that you want me to offend other people? I have no authority, no power, no name, and no share. How dare to interfere with Shizi’s family affairs.”
“Just say it. No matter what you say, I’ll let bygones be bygones.”
Tang Shishi tutted and could not help but say, “Wangye, that’s just what you said. You even remember the little things like sesame seeds were bigger in autumn hunting. Can you really not punish me?”
Zhao Chengjun slammed his brush on the table and said with a cold face, “Bold.”
Tang Shishi promptly stepped forward, took over Zhao Chengjun’s brush, and personally ground ink and washed his brush for him, “This little girl is just talking only. Wangye should not be angry. A good word must not be destroyed.”
Tang Shishi served with courteous and sweet words. Zhao Chengjun was unable to flare up and could only let her take it over.
After Tang Shishi’s interruption, the topic earlier was also dropped. In fact, how could Zhao Chengjun not know who was the person that put the drug in the wine? Her methods were too inferior and too anxious.
However, who made Zhao Zixun like her? Even if Zhao Chengjun was the master of the mansion, he could not cross Zhao Zixun and reach out to deal with his adopted son’s woman. Zhao Chengjun sighed, and it was rare of him to say a few sincere words, “There is a difference between close and distant relatives. Once children got married, others will become outsiders, and many things may be difficult to say.”
Zhao Chengjun strongly pushed Zhao Zixun to get a wife. On the one hand, he wanted Zhao Zixun’s heart to be at ease. On the other hand, he also noticed that there were great omissions in the inner mansion and was in urgent need of a mistress to hold down the fort. However, the mistress was found, but Lu Yufei and Zhao Zixun were the ones who were united. She would not manage the inner mansion in the direction that Zhao Chengjun expected most of the time.
In this aspect, Lu Yufei was not as good as Tongxiu. Tongxiu just has her own selfish intentions, and Lu Yufei’s whole person’s position was crooked.
Since Zhao Chengjun already said to delegate power, he could never go back on his words and take back the housekeeper’s authority. After listening for a moment, Tang Shishi suddenly said, “Wangye, I’m just a little maid, but you are the master of the Jing Wang mansion and the uncrowned monarch of the Northwest. Why should you endure it when you are not satisfied in your own home?”
Zhao Chengjun was startled and suddenly clear-headed. Yeah, why did he have to endure it? If the servant was difficult, he could change to another servant. If the housekeeper did not work well, he could change to another housekeeper.
A genuine housekeeper who upholds one’s position and conveys one’s mind.