IBTBTED Chapter 50
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 50 Filial piety
After Lu Yufei finished speaking, there was a strange silence in the room. Immediately, Zhao Chengjun withdrew his gaze as if nothing had happened, Tang Shishi put down the orange, and bowed to Lu Yufei, “Greetings, Shizifei.”
Lu Yufei avoided, and replied, “Miss Tang.”
Lu Yufei returned Tang Shishi’s greeting was entirely based on Zhao Chengjun’s face. She did not care about this propriety, and there was faint scrutiny in her eyes.
Lu Yufei found out that she might have underestimated Tang Shishi, and also thought too highly of Jing Wang. Men’s pursuits in life were not many, such as power, wealth, and beauty. From ancient times to the present times, without exception.
It may not be the first two, however, it must be the last one.
It would be false if Lu Yufei said she was not disappointed. It turned out that Jing Wang whom she respected and relied on, could not escape the vulgarity of men. Lu Yufei did not think that Tang Shishi would have further development. Beauty with a pretty face was nothing more than a color dot on Jing Wang’s map. It was fresh for a few days and would naturally be disposed of after some time.
Lu Yufei just could not accept this fact. She thought that Jing Wang was different from ordinary men. What he appreciates must be more refined talented beauty, the kind like Xi Yunchu.
In the end…
The room was quiet for a moment. Lu Yufei calmed down from her trance and quickly saluted Zhao Chengjun, “Daughter-in-law sees my father-in-law, and pay my respect to father.”
Lu Yufei saluted Zhao Chengjun respectfully. After saying that, she half squatted and waited for Zhao Chengjun to reply. However, Zhao Chengjun did not seem to pay attention to her at all. He supported himself on the armchair with one arm and looked at the other side silently.
Tang Shishi peeled half of the orange and could not put it down. So, she could only continue to peel it. Unfortunately, she did not grasp her strength properly at the last moment, a lot of juice was squeezed out and the juice was all over her hands. Tang Shishi put the orange down, and raised her hands, feeling a little lost.
Zhao Chengjun frowned secretly, why was she so careless?
Zhao Chengjun took his square handkerchief, stopped Tang Shishi’s messy actions, and handed the handkerchief to her, “Wipe your hands clean first.”
Tang Shishi naturally took it. She wiped two fingers and suddenly realized, “Wangye, is this your handkerchief?”
“Yes.” Zhao Chengjun replied casually. Seeing that Tang Shishi could not wipe a spot properly, he could not stand it and took her hand, “Be careful, there’s more here.”
Lu Yufei still maintained her greeting action. Her smile became stiff more and more and was in a dilemma.
Fortunately, before her marriage, her natal family heartlessly disciplined Lu Yufei’s etiquette. So, it was not difficult for Lu Yufei to preserve the half squat position now. She stood uneasily and waited for a while. Finally, after Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi finished talking, she quickly raised her voice and said again, “Daughter-in-law, pay respect to father.”
Zhao Chengjun thought that he finally met someone who had no discernment besides Tang Shishi. Zhao Chengjun put the handkerchief on the table and said lightly, “Get up.”
After Zhao Chengjun’s exemption, Lu Yufei did not get up but continued to kneel down and raised her hands in a respected manner, “Daughter-in-law is not filial, father please forgive me.”
Zhao Chengjun already knew what she was going to say and started to have a headache. Zhao Chengjun hated trouble the most. He had obviously hinted to her, but Lu Yufei was still entangled.
Lu Yufei continued to kneel and could not see Zhao Chengjun’s real expression. Tang Shishi stood aside and saw Zhao Chengjun’s complexion turned cold. Tang Shishi glanced at Lu Yufei quietly and sighed for her.
Zhao Chengjun’s voice was as usual, and could not hear any changes, “Unfilial piety is a serious crime. Don’t talk nonsense. What happened?”
“This daughter-in-law is not worthy to be Shizifei.” Lu Yufei began to cry as she said, lowering her head further, “Father, please decide for this daughter-in-law.”
After saying that, Lu Yufei did not mention what was wrong and bowed her head and cried. Zhao Chengjun got a headache as soon as he heard the crying and it was a real headache. He could not stand the noise at all. He could not endure the sound of the wind at night, let alone a woman’s sobbing.
Zhao Chengjun was pressing the center of his eyebrows. Seeing that Zhao Chengjun’s complexion was wrong, Tang Shishi quickly said to Lu Yufei, “Shizifei, it’s not good to cry early in the morning. If you have something to say, you have to make things clear first before Wangye can decide for you.”
Tang Shishi motioned to the attendants on both sides quickly as she talked, “Help Shizifei to stand up.”
Lu Yufei stood up sobbing, and was finally ready to say what she wanted, “It’s really unfilial for this daughter-in-law to come to disturb father early in the morning. But other than this, this daughter-in-law really doesn’t know what to do…”
Lu Yufei said aggrievedly that Zhao Zixun did not honor the etiquette and let her stay alone on the fifteenth day. Tang Shishi was embarrassed. Although she understood the matter between men and women, she was an unmarried young lady after all. Was this not good for her to hear such things?
Tang Shishi went out quietly on the pretext of serving tea.
Zhao Chengjun stayed alone after that and pressed his eyebrows again with a headache. He deeply felt that he must have a Wangfei. The son did not stay in his wife’s room, instead of sleeping in the concubine’s room at night. How did that come about?
Tang Shishi lingered outside for a while and thought that Lu Yufei had finished crying. Then only she returned with a cup of calming tea. When Tang Shishi entered, Lu Yufei was wiping her tears. Although her eyes were still red, she did not cry anymore.
Tang Shishi put the tea in Zhao Chengjun’s hand, “Wangye, tea for calming the nerves.”
Zhao Chengjun was somewhat surprised. He thought that Tang Shishi had simply gone out to take refuge. Unexpectedly, she still remembered that he had a headache. Zhao Chengjun took the tea, and his fingertips faintly touched Tang Shishi’s fingers. The dullness in his head seemed to disappear all at once.
All of Zhao Chengjun’s senses were attracted by the faint orange smell. She still had the smell of tribute orange in her hand. It seemed that this year’s tribute was pretty good. The sweetness could be smelled from so far away.
When interrupted by this distraction, Zhao Chengjun’s attention shifted, and even his tolerance for Lu Yufei improved a lot. Zhao Chengjun said indifferently, “Since Zhao Zixun did not do properly in this matter, I will beat him separately. You can be Shizifei with peace of mind and not allow to talk about things like unworthiness. As long as you don’t make a mistake, you are the only Shizifei of the Jing Wang mansion.”
Lu Yufei breathed a long sigh of relief. With Jing Wang’s words, her position was unshakeable. Lu Yufei knew when to stop and stood aside silently wiping her tears with a handkerchief.
The voice of an announcer outside the door was particularly distinct in the middle of silence, “Shizi is here.”
Lu Yufei and Tang Shishi both restrained their countenance and saluted toward the door. Zhao Zixun was stunned when he entered the room and saw the atmosphere of the three-council trial. His eyes quickly swept across the room, and naturally, he did not miss Lu Yufei’s red eyes.
Zhao Zixun pretended not to see it and respectfully saluted Zhao Chengjun, “This son pay respect to father.”
“En.” Zhao Chengjun replied indifferently, and said casually, “How’s your schoolwork recently?”
“Father, I have finished reading the selected theory and currently reading Yanyi.”
Zhao Chengjun said, “Is this recommended by some scholars who took the imperial examination outside? These official revisions of the Imperial Court were copied from the previous dynasty. The editors did not pay attention, and scholars also memorized them casually. There is no commendable merit to it. Although you study the Ming Jing policy theory, your identity is different from those of imperial examination candidates, and you’ll be silly after learning the eight-part essay. You don’t have to memorize Yanyi. If you really want to learn current affairs skills, you might as well read the memoirs of famous officials.”
When Zhao Zixun heard it, he cupped his hands and responded. Then, Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun talk about learning. Tang Shishi and Lu Yufei stood aside, and no one dared to disturb them.
In fact, Tang Shishi could not even hear the names of the books when they were talking. Zhao Chengjun was accustomed to handling these books and used abbreviations when speaking. He talked with Zhao Zixun without taboo, and the people next to them were stunned when they heard what they were discussing.
Tang Shishi was suddenly in a daze. Zhao Zixun was groomed according to the ways of court officials. Although he did not have to take the imperial examination, the books he had to read were very similar to those who took the imperial examination. Zhao Zixun was about the same age as Qi Jingsheng. Was Qi Jingsheng reading the eight-part officials’ writing denounced by Zhao Chengjun as dogmatic right now?
It was a huge undertaking to provide for an imperial examination scholar. What book to read at what age, should have been arranged from the age of three or four. Otherwise, with one wrong step, one would not be able to keep up.
Qi Jingsheng was like this. He was enlightened at the age of four, read the Classic of Filial Piety at the age of six, learned Four Books at the age of eight, and literature at the age of ten. In order to develop common topics with Qi Jingsheng, Tang Shishi made great efforts to learn Confusion classic to keep up with Qi Jingsheng. If Tang Shishi did not enter the Imperial Palace but married Qi Jingsheng according to the marriage contract, could Tang Shishi be able to understand what Yanyi was or even read it by herself?
Lu Yufei was waiting expectantly, but when Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun talked about Confucianism, she dared not disturb and was really anxious. So she could only stare at Zhao Chengjun eagerly. After Zhao Chengjun finished inquiring about Zhao Zixun’s schoolwork, he inadvertently said, “Self-cultivation, unify the family, govern the country, and world peace. Do you understand these principles?”
Zhao Zixun stood tall respectfully and glanced at Lu Yufei quickly, then lowered his eyes, “I understand.”
“That’s good that you understood.” Zhao Chengjun did not say much after that. He did not like to be long-winded and only mentioned everything once. If it was not done well the first time, the next time Zhao Chengjun made a move would be to directly kill the person.
Zhao Chengjun’s tone was mediocre and impermanent. After all, the days of Tang Shishi and Lu Yufei entering the mansion were short, and they did not hear the murderous intention behind his sentence. However, Zhao Zixun and Liu Ji, and others understood instantly.
Zhao Zixun’s hair behind his back stood up, and Liu Ji and other servants bowed their heads, all silent due to fear. Lu Yufei found that the atmosphere was still for unknown reasons. Anyhow, she wanted to make use of this moment, deliberately smiled, and said, “My father is so painstaking, and I must remember it in my heart. By the way, there will be a memorial service in Guangji Temple in a few days, and this daughter-in-law wants to go to the mountain to offer incense and candle for the well-being of parents and elders.”
Guangji Temple was a well-known Buddhist Temple in this area. It was said to be very effective. Many people went to Guangji Temple to pray for children and pay homage to the Buddha. The only regret was that Guangji Temple was built on the mountain. The road was challenging, and the carriage had to go for two or three days.
It could be seen that Lu Yufei was very unwilling to fall out of favor, and it was not easy to start with the man, so she fought by showing her filial piety. Lu Yufei was determined to go, and Zhao Chengjun had nothing to say, “Since you have the intention, then go. But the Buddhist Temple is very austere, and now it’s severe winter. I am afraid life on the mountain will not be easy.”
“No harm.” Lu Yufei said immediately, “As long as I can pray for the elders, it’s nothing for this daughter-in-law to endure some hardship. Father, just a few days ago, Madam Xi said that she also wanted to go to the Buddhist Temple to offer the everlight. The Guangji Temple is far away, and one more person will add more strength. So this daughter-in-law thought of calling Madam Xi too.”
Xi family? Tang Shishi glanced at Zhao Chengjun secretly and lowered her head. The everlight illuminated the road to be reborn. Madam Xi wanted to offer the everlight most likely to dedicate to the deceased eldest daughter, Xi Yunwan.
Xi Yunwan was not only the daughter of the Xi family’s parents but also Zhao Chengjun’s first betrothed. Sure enough, Zhao Chengjun seemed to be gloomy when he heard this. There was no smile on his face and said, “It’s rare that Madam Xi is interested. It’s good for you to go together. But now that the ice and snow have not melted, I’m afraid the journey may not be easy. Liu Ji, call Tongxiu over.”
Liu Ji responded and walked out quickly. Lu Yufei was a little surprised, and hurriedly said, “Father, why do you call Tongxiu Gugu over?”
“To be prepared, just in case.” Zhao Chengjun said lightly, “Tongxiu has arranged several trips. She also has experience serving people in the Imperial Palace. Let her follow you on this journey.”
Lu Yufei was flattered and humbly responded.
Soon, Tongxiu came over and greeted Zhao Chengjun, “Wangye.”
Zhao Chengjun said, “Shizifei is going to Guangji Temple to pay homage to the Buddha, and you will travel with Shizifei.”
Tongxiu naturally did not have to respond. Zhao Chengjun also said, “There is still the Xi family in your company. You must serve Shizifei and Madam Xi well. Later, you will pick a few clever maids from the mansion to serve on the journey properly.”
Tongxiu lowered her head, she was taken aback for a few breaths, and quickly realized, “This servant understood.”
Zhao Chengjun’s order was intense and quick. He had already arranged the trip before the others reacted. Tang Shishi stood behind and rolled her eyes.
It seemed that Zhao Chengjun attached great importance to this trip. He not only arranged Tongxiu but even personally selected the accompanying people. Sure enough, it was different with the Xi family.
Tang Shishi somewhat hesitated. Did she want to follow? After all, filial piety was a universal amulet. Under the pretext of filial piety, everything could be forgiven.
However, the days on the mountain were really austere, cold, and rotten. She could not eat meat and had to listen to the monk chanting every day. Tang Shishi, who liked to relax and hated to work, would instinctively reject this kind of hard life, but she was afraid that she would miss an opportunity.
Last time, she missed the opportunity to bathe in the wild and block the knife for Zhao Zixun because she refused to endure hardships. Now, Tang Shishi still could not block a knife for anyone, but it seemed like praying to Buddha and eating vegetarian were still possible?
Tang Shishi struggled for a while, determined to apply her universal formula. According to her own conscience, she had been running wild on the wrong path. The last time she reversed the selection, she got it wrong. Then this time, it should be all right to reverse the selection, right?
Tang Shishi followed this logic and found that the answer was no. Tang Shishi settled down and said to Lu Yufei, “The filial piety of Shizifei moved the world. It’s a pity that I have been feeling cold recently and can’t accompany Shizifei on the journey. I can only wish Shizifei to have a pleasant journey.”
Everyone present was not surprised to hear what Tang Shishi said. Tang Shishi’s illness was different from that of ordinary people, it would show up when it was mentioned. For example, her this common cold, no one could tell where she was sick anyway.
Zhao Chengjun’s expression remained the same, and Zhao Zixun accepted it well. Zhao Zixun has a profound experience with Tang Shishi’s nature. So, no matter what Tang Shishi did, he would not be surprised.
Tang Shishi ignored others’ stares and thought happily that she could stay in the mansion and live a comfortable life. In the end, her way of thinking plummeted when she heard Zhao Zixun say earnestly while cupping both his hands, “Shizifei is so filial, but it seems that I am not responsible. There will be ice and snow along the journey, and Madam Xi is also coming along. It’s inappropriate to assign anyone as a guard for their journey. So, I should go with them.”
With that, Zhao Zixun said clearly, “I am willing to accompany Shizifei to Guangji Temple to pray for blessing.”
Tang Shishi was dumbfounded. Zhao Chengjun nodded and said, “That’s good. The Buddhist Temple is tranquil. You at the same time go there to calm down. In that case, you can arrange the matters of the guards.”
“I’ll follow your orders.”
No one thought that Zhao Zixun would also go. Lu Yufei’s face showed obvious joy, whereas Tang Shishi was completely the opposite.
She looked around and could not react to the current situation. Tang Shishi tried to say, “Wangye…”
Zhao Chengjun turned his head and looked at her quietly, “What’s the matter?”
Tang Shishi took a long time to come up with something, actually, she was embarrassed to say that her common cold was getting better again. She could only lower her head and quietly said, “It’s nothing. I was moved by the filial piety of Shizi and Shizifei. In comparison, I am too careless.”
Zhao Chengjun looked at her and smiled, “It doesn’t matter. Your filial piety is the same when you eat vegetarian and copy scriptures in the mansion.”
Tang Shishi was silent for a long time and found out that some people behaved like a dog but in reality, was narrow-minded.