IBTBTED Chapter 57
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 57 Derailment
Early the next morning, Zhao Chengjun returned with everyone.
Jing Wang personally escorted the Xi family back and this caused another sensation in the whole Xiping city even though Zhao Chengjun had left the convoy after he entered the city. He took Tang Shishi and Lu Yufei’s carriage back to the mansion and let Zhao Zixun and his guards escort the Xi family home. However, these details were completely ignored in the eyes of the onlookers.
They only knew that Jing Wang hurried out of the city after the blizzard, and within a day, he personally picked up the Xi family’s womenfolk back. One heard that in addition to Madam Xi, the second young lady of the Xi was also there.
Who was the second young lady of the Xi? That was the younger sister of Xi Yunwan, Jing Wang’s first wife-to-be. One heard that the two sisters looked very much alike, and Xi Yunchu’s physique and appearance were exactly the same as her older sister.
Those who heard it sighed one after another, Jing Wang was really a nostalgic person, ah.
Tang Shishi finally returned to the mansion. As soon as they entered the second gate of the mansion, neither Lu Yufei nor Tang Shishi had the strength to greet each other and went back to their respective room to rest. After Tang Shishi came back, she bathed and slept until dark before finally regaining her energy.
Dujuan lit the light and helped Tang Shishi to sit up, “Miss, the dinner has been warmed up for you all the time. Do you have an appetite now?”
After her sleep, Tang Shishi was full of energy, and even her appetite was restored. She thought for a while and said, “It’s not advisable to eat too much at night. Bring something good that is easy to digest over.”
Tang Shishi was wearing inner clothes. Since there was no one in the room now, she was too lazy to change her clothes and went to the dining room for dinner wearing that. Dujuan was helping Tang Shishi with vegetables while saying angrily, “Miss, do you know that there have been many tiny moths in the mansion when you were not around these two days? I don’t know who pass the message that Wangye intended to marry the Xi family. Wangye has already chosen the eldest young lady of the Xi family and it’s taboo to die before entering the door. They are not the only family in the world. How can Wangye decide to have the same sister twice?”
Tang Shishi took a sip of soup and said slowly, “This is what Wangye said himself.”
Dujuan was completely stunned, “What?”
“Madam Xi asked Wangye when he would get married. Wangye said in person that it should be soon.” Tang Shishi put down the bowl, patted Dujuan’s hand, and advised, “This matter is settled. You should get over it soon. If you still keep this attitude when the second young lady of the Xi family enters the door, then no one can save you.”
Tang Shishi believed that she was extremely ambitious. As a result, Dujuan had a stronger commitment to realizing her ambitions. She was determined to let Tang Shishi take the most direct path to the top and even planned to make Tang Shishi the first person next to Jing Wang. Tang Shishi was very moved, but she still chose to refuse the idea.
Because Tang Shishi’s target was Zhao Zixun, ah.
Dujuan’s magnificent aspiration was hit head-on. She was having difficulty accepting it, and asked sadly, “When Wangye said that time, did he really mention the second young lady of the Xi family’s name? Is there a misunderstanding?”
Tang Shishi looked at Dujuan with a foolish look, and said, “It’s useless to harbor such a fluke. It’s better to make preparation early.”
After Tang Shishi finished speaking, she went to the cleanroom to rinse her mouth. Dujuan stood in front of the table, thinking for a long time, but still refused to accept it.
It was undoubtedly that Jing Wang treated Tang Shishi the most different from the rest. Even if Wangye really intended to get married, the choice of person should be Tang Shishi. Who was Xi Yunchu? If Wangye intended to renew his marriage with the Xi family, he would have done so long ago. Why did he always say he had no intention of getting married until he suddenly loosened his mouth this year?
There was a saying that Jing Wang did not want to marry a wife in order to wait for the second young lady of Xi to grow up. Dujuan thought this statement was very ridiculous. What kind of person was Jing Wang to possibly preserve his integrity to wait for a woman for so many years? Even if he were really waiting and could not get married, he could still get betrothed?
If a man really liked it, he wanted to immediately announce the world and declare ownership. How could he have delayed in obscurity? There was no exception in the world. If a man did not take the initiative, meant he did not like it.
Dujuan’s mind was confused. She took the ointment and went into the inner room to apply medicine for Tang Shishi. Dujuan was shocked when she saw the bruise on Tang Shishi’s back, “Miss, how did you get this?”
“Don’t mention it.” Tang Shishi’s face was covered in her pillow, and said with a muffled voice, “I accidentally fell off the carriage and it became like this.”
Fell off the carriage? The more Dujuan heard it, the more strange it became. However, Tang Shishi buried her face, as if she did not want to talk anymore. Dujuan could not ask, so she could only apply the ointment gently.
After Dujuan applied the ointment, she covered Tang Shishi’s body with a thin layer of muslin cloth, and then went out. After waiting for Dujuan to leave, Tang Shishi waited for a long time to confirm that there was no sound, then only she quietly sneaked into the secret compartment.
Fortunately, the contents inside were still the same as before and had not been discovered by anyone. Tang Shishi could not help but heaved a sigh of relief. She did not bring the book when she went out this time. Fortunately, the book was safe.
Tang Shishi turned to the latest page under the pillow as a cover-up. The latest chapter said that Zhou Shunhua was tossing around and had difficulty sleeping in the village, and Zhao Zixun also fell asleep alone, silently.
Lu Yufei was able to achieve a complete victory this time all due to Zhao Chengjun’s honor. Zhao Zixun would never be able to send Zhou Shunhua away without the deterrence of Jing Wang. However, this was only a temporary solution, not a permanent cure. Lu Yufei seemed to have won, but in fact, she had lost completely.
The external force would only encourage Zhao Zixun’s rebellious behavior. The more others opposed him, the deeper his feelings for Zhou Shunhua would be. Tang Shishi closed the book and sighed faintly.
It was no surprise that Lu Yufei had been out of favor for many years. If someone forcibly sent away the pet that Tang Shishi liked, Tang Shishi would also hate him for many years, not to mention that Zhao Zixun was still a man and an Emperor.
Although Zhou Shunhua was dangerous, she did not have the ability to fight back. Zhou Shunhua was pushed to the same fraction as Zhao Zixun because of her inability to fight back. Lu Yufei stood on the side of Jing Wang as the oppressor, while Zhou Shunhua was a team member on the same front as Zhao Zixun.
Later, Zhao Zixun rebelled and overthrew Zhao Chengjun’s decree after Zhao Chengjun’s death. It was also for the same reason. Zhao Chengjun was really too powerful until Zhao Zixun had no right to speak in the mansion, and he even could not keep his most beloved woman. As soon as Zhao Chengjun frowned, Zhao Zixun would have to send his beloved concubine away out of fear. How could Zhao Zixun not be resentful eventually?
It was fine if he was his biological son. No matter how harsh the father was, blood was always thicker than water. However, it was not the same for the adopted son.
Tang Shishi sighed. It was no wonder there was an old saying that the blood relationship was truly irreversible because they were of the same breath and branches. The contradiction between Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun was an unsolvable situation.
Tang Shishi sighed for a moment and hid the book again. No matter how miserable these pair of father and son were, one of them was Wangye and the other was Shizi. It was not Tang Shishi’s turn to pity them. At this point in time, she presumed it was better to think about herself.
The following chapters in the book were all related to the village in Nanshan. In other words, the mansion had become a piece of blank space.
Tang Shishi took a deep breath that she could no longer predict the plot. She could only rely on herself for an extended time.
Misfortune, fortune, honor, and disgrace were determined by this one action.
Lu Yufei leaned against the pillow while stirring the porridge in her hand. When the outside door closed softly, Lu Yufei raised her head in surprise, “Shizi… Where’s Shizi?”
The dowry maid lowered her head and said in awkwardness, “Shizifei, a young manservant said that since Shizifei is already asleep and if Shizifei has anything to say, there’s no harm in going there again tomorrow.”
Lu Yufei was disappointed. She looked at the porridge in her hand, suddenly felt it was meaningless, and threw the porridge on the table in disgust.
Lu Yufei could not conceal the loneliness on her face. She murmured in a muffled voice, “Does Shizi blame me?”
The dowry maid lowered her head and dared not speak. Shizifei was praised too highly by her family that everything went smoothly for her, and she could not accept any little bit of setbacks. Zhou Shunhua stole Shizi’s heart on the fifteenth, which made Shizifei lose her face. Shizifei must make Zhou Shunhua pay the price with both principal and interest.
It was right to be jealous of a rival in love, but Shizifei really should not have gone to Jing Wang. Affairs of the room should be concluded in the room. No one would have a good ending once they made a noise in front of Jing Wang.
Afterward, Lu Yufei also felt that she was too impulsive. When she went to Guangji Temple this time, she originally planned to make up with Zhao Zixun. In the end, they encountered a blizzard on the journey and had to turn back halfway. On the return trip, she made several times advances, but Zhao Zixun was neither hot nor cold, and even rather impatient.
Yes, impatient. Lu Yufei was really scared this time. Did she do something wrong that was irreparable?
However, the matter had already reached this point, what could Lu Yufei do now? She could only continue to be tough and tell everyone that she was not wrong. She could not even show regret in front of her dowry maid. Lu Yufei was depressed for a while, and forced to raise her chin, “Shizi may be too tired today. After some time, he would change his mind eventually. Zhou Shunhua has been disposed of by me. Next, I need to appease the Xi family, then my plan will be successfully accomplished.”
The Xi family was the only one that gained from this journey. Lu Yufei originally wanted to pull strings with the Xi family, so she intentionally invited Xi Yunchu. Unexpectedly, it was a mistake. On the contrary, they tried to find out the true intentions of Jing Wang.
Lu Yufei was elated and felt that it was all due to her contribution. If she did not invite Xi Yunchu and if they did not encounter danger on the road, how could Jing Wang, a person who had no desire to get married suddenly loosen his mouth? Lu Yufei said proudly, “I have given such a big favor to the Xi family. They don’t know how to thank me. With the help of Xi Yunchu in the future, I’ll not be alone and helpless in the mansion when I’m under attack by the enemy.”
The older maid was somewhat worried and cautiously reminded her, “Shizifei, if Second Miss Xi really enters the mansion, then she’ll be the Wangfei. At that time, the internal affairs of the mansion will be in charge by Wangfei.”
“How is it possible?” Lu Yufei suddenly sunk, “Xi Yunchu can be a Wangfei entirely because of me. It’s fine if she doesn’t repay her favor, but don’t tell me that she still wants to grab things from me?”
“Otherwise?” The maid sighed and advised softly, “Second Miss Xi is proud and arrogant. I’m afraid she may not recognize Shizifei’s help. After all, Wangfei is different from Shizifei. At that time, she will be supported by etiquette and law, and also favored by Jing Wang. I’m afraid she won’t yield to others.”
In fact, the dowry maid had always disagreed with Lu Yufei’s support for Xi Yunchu. One mountain could not tolerate two tigers. There could only be one mistress in a mansion. Lu Yufei had no mother-in-law and no sister-in-law which was much easier in making decisions by herself. Why did she insist on bringing a mother-in-law in?
The dowry maid was worried, and persuaded Lu Yufei, “Miss, I know that you are kind, but you can’t trust the Xi family completely. Shizi is the foundation of your life. You have to prepare yourself more.”
Lu Yufei sat calmly for a long time and finally had to admit that the maid was right. Xi Yunchu was not easy to get along with. She was obviously half-baked but like to show off in front of others and liked to pass judgment on everything. Even if Xi Yunchu was grateful to her at first, Xi Yunchu would be ungrateful after a long time.
She could win over Xi Yunchu to be a helper, but she could not count on Xi Yunchu to be the trump card. Lu Yufei could only rely on herself.
Lu Yufei clenched her hand until her knuckles were slightly white because of too much force. After a while, Lu Yufei clenched her teeth and said, “Zhou Shunhua is gone. It’s not proper to have no one to serve Shizi. Let’s give Shizi another concubine.”
The next day, after Lu Yufei sent away the concubine who came to pay respect to her, she called her dowry maid to come in. She looked left and right, but she did not feel at ease.
Before a woman got married, the mother always prepared her daughter with dowry maids. These dowry maids usually had good looks and enchanting figures, and the deed of selling their bodies was with their master. In the unlikely event that the daughter could not give birth to a child, or the son-in-law loved the new and disliked the old, the dowry maids were tools for the favored position.
Naturally, Lu Yufei also had dowry maids, but she was so reluctant to groom her maid’s face. Once this step was taken, the dowry maid would never be repossessed again. Not only would Lu Yufei break the bond between the master and servant of this maid, but even the other maids would have their minds floating. After all, if one could be a master, who wanted to be a maid?
Even if there was a deed of selling one’s body, there was no guarantee that these people will not have a disloyal disposition. Lu Yufei thought and thought again, and finally said to her personal maid, “Come here. Get ready with my clothes. I’m going to greet my father.”
Lu Yufei thought about it. Instead of losing her own people, she might as well let those people in the Liuyun courtyard had a dogfight. Anyway, these women would be executed sooner or later. They have talent and appearance and were destined not to have children. These types of candidates genuinely would not pose a threat to Lu Yufei.
When Tang Shishi was copying books in the study room in the afternoon, she received a message from Dujuan. Tang Shishi calmly and quietly went out of the door, walked to the corner, and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Dujuan had been looking around here all afternoon. Just now, after finally catching the sister she knew well, she finally called Tang Shishi out. Dujuan looked all over the place, lowered her voice, and said to Tang Shishi, “Miss, there is a happy event in Liuyun courtyard.”
“Beauty Ji was chosen as a concubine for Shizi.”
Tang Shishi was startled and could not help raising her eyebrows, “Ji Xinxian?”
This was not a trivial matter. Tang Shishi asked for leave from Liu Ji and quickly walked towards the rear court. On the way, Dujuan repeated today’s events in detail to Tang Shishi.
“I heard that it was Shizifei who went to plead with Wangye to request that beauty Ji be bestowed to Shizi, and Wangye agreed. At noon, Shizifei’s momo went to Liuyun courtyard to give beauty Ji a few bolts of red fabrics and groomed her face in a lively manner. Now Liuyun courtyard is very lively. After a while, beauty Ji will move to Shizi’s backyard.”
Tang Shishi listened thoughtfully. Indeed, Lu Yufei came once in the morning. She went inside to say something and came out immediately. Seeing that everything was calm, Tang Shishi did not take this matter seriously. Unexpectedly, Lu Yufei actually went to take a concubine.
Tang Shishi did not know what to say, Lu Yufei was really the model of a virtuous woman. On the second day of marriage, she accepted two concubines for Zhao Zixun. Now, just three months later, Lu Yufei asked for the third concubine for Zhao Zixun.
Did she feel that life was too comfortable, or was she afraid that she was not completely out of favor?
It was difficult for Tang Shishi to understand. She went back to the Jianjia courtyard to simply put things away, without changing her clothes, and hurried to the Liuyun courtyard to “congratulate”.
Tang Shishi was the last to enter the door. When she arrived, the beauties of Liuyun courtyard were competing with each other about their beauty, and even Ren Yujun, who had been out of the circle for a long time, also came. The women gathered around Ji Xinxian to talk. Ji Xinxian had just groomed her face, her hair was rolled up in a bun, and she was smiling contentedly.
When Tang Shishi came in, the room went silent for a moment. Then everyone stood up one after another and greeted Tang Shishi with a smile, “Miss Tang is here, quickly prepare a seat for the busy people.”
Tang Shishi ignored their ridicule. Tang Shishi congratulated Ji Xinxian while smiling, “Sister Ji, congratulations. I’m late and I hope Sister Ji won’t blame me.”
“How can I blame Miss Tang?” Ji Xinxian stood up from her seat while raising her eyebrows, seemingly to ridicule and show off, “Now who doesn’t know that Miss Tang is the only important person around Wangye? How dare I offend my sister when there’s not enough time for me to please my sister? In the future, I will be one generation lower than Miss Tang after I entered Shizi’s courtyard. I hope Miss Tang will say more good words to Wangye and take care of me.”
Tang Shishi naturally responded. When Tang Shishi came, everyone rearranged their seats. Tang Shishi sat right in the front, holding Ji Xinxian’s hand carefully with “sister affection”, “I was in the front yard and the news was slow to reach me. I just learned that Sister Ji has such good luck. Shizi is handsome and talented, and Sister Ji is charming and attractive. Even a talented man and a beautiful woman can’t compare with both of you. In the future, Sister Ji must serve Shizi well, and don’t fail Shizifei’s expectations.”
Ji Xinxian looked fully confident, raised her chin slightly, and said loudly, “Naturally. Sister Zhou is gone, and Shizifei is busy with family matters. I must take over sister Zhou’s important task to take care of Shizi. Sister Ren, don’t you think so?”
As if Ji Xinxian had set her mind that she certainly would be more favored than Zhou Shunhua.
Ren Yujun sat in a trance among the crowd. Unexpectedly, when Ji Xinxian mentioned her, Ren Yujun was stunned for a while and then reacted, “Yes, that’s right. I’m rigid and boring, not as lively as Sister Zhou and Sister Ji. In the future, Shizi will be entrusted to Sister Ji.”
Although Ren Yujun’s remarks were modest, she did not exaggerate. Previously, Ren Yujun had always followed Zhou Shunhua no matter what she did, and everyone felt that these two people were the same. However, the situation was not at all the same after the two became Shizi’s concubines at the same time.
Although Shizi accepted Ren Yujun, he was still polite to her, certainly could not say that he actually favored her much, and was completely incomparable with Zhou Shunhua. Previously, Zhou Shunhua was blocking in front of her, and Ren Yujun could only get one or two days in a month. Now that Zhou Shunhua was finally gone, Ren Yujun thought it was her turn to be favored. In the end, Ji Xinxian came in.
Ji Xinxian had a charming appearance, a flamboyant personality, and was a newcomer. How could Ren Yujun compete with her? Maybe this was her life. Ji Xinxian was cheerful and confident and full of high spirit. On the contrary, Ren Yujun was bored and did not even want to say anything.
Where was the arrogant and beautiful Ren Yujun when she first left the imperial palace in today’s Ren Yujun? In just one year, the brilliance had been worn out.
Many women helped Ren Yujun speak one after another, saying it was to console her, but it was actually more like irritating her. Tang Shishi just smiled in dealing with these hypocritical sisters and even heard Ji Xinxian complain that Shizifei sent a lot of jewelry and clothing materials, and she could not use them up. At the same time, Tang Shishi also could not fall out with them.
In this room, whoever could not resist the disgust would lose first.
After Ji Xinxian had enough of showing off, then only she was willing to let Tang Shishi leave. Tang Shishi secretly felt relieved and quickly left.
Upon seeing this, Feng Qian left with Tang Shishi.
Feng Qian sighed with Tang Shishi while walking on the road, “It’s really unpredictable. Among the ten people in our group, Sister Tang is the most beautiful. In the end, Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun are favored one after another but no one shows any interest in Sister Tang. Now even Ji Xinxian has been selected but you still don’t have any movement. It’s really unfair.”
Tang Shishi rolled her eyes in her heart. This little witch was jealous of Ji Xinxian but came here to provoke her. Tang Shishi was not fooled by her! Tang Shishi smiled softly and said in a particularly virtuous way, “It’s Shizi’s affairs to favor or reward anyone. We as maids, just need to serve properly and shouldn’t interfere in the master’s decision.”
“What Sister Tang said is right. You really deserve to be the person who studied with Wangye and knows the bigger picture.” Feng Qian hugged Tang Shishi’s arm and played coquettishly, “I always think that Ji Xinxian looks like you, but she is far less beautiful than you. Ji Xinxian is only Shizi’s concubine no matter how much she is favored. How can she compare with you? You are an important person around Wangye. In terms of seniority, you are much higher than them.”
“Feng Qian, don’t talk nonsense.” Tang Shishi said with a lukewarm attitude, “Ji Xinxian is a half master, but I’m just a maid. She is superior and I am inferior. How can there be no seniority? If you talk nonsense again, I won’t cover it up for you.”
Feng Qian hurriedly begged for forgiveness. Zhao Chengjun’s status in the mansion was supreme. No one dared to dispute Jing Wang. Tang Shishi’s face was slightly cold, and Feng Qian dared not continue to talk anymore.
If they were really stabbed by Tang Shishi to Jing Wang, none of them would get a good ending.
After a while, Feng Qian felt embarrassed and walked away angrily. Tang Shishi heaved a sigh of relief. Now that it was sunset, Tang Shishi had no intention of going back to copy the book, so she went straight back to Jianjia courtyard.
Anyway, it was just nominal for her to be in the study room. Even if she did not go there occasionally, it would not affect her. Today, Zhao Chengjun was nowhere in sight, so he would not know that she skipped work.
Tang Shishi returned to the room with peace of mind. After eating and bathing, she sent people away. She was holding her long wet hair, on one hand wiping her hair, and on the other flipping through the book.
This was what she must do every day. Even though it took a long time, she had been able to do so. Tang Shishi was scanning the book habitually. When she saw the content inside, her eyes shrunk severely.
She immediately threw away her hair, put her fingers on the pages of the book, and read the contents word by word. After reading it, Tang Shishi was like struck by lightning and did not recover for a long time.
In the book, she was the one who got accepted as a concubine today.
But now, this person had changed from Tang Shishi to Ji Xinxian. Tang Shishi looked back and forth and finally confirmed that there were no mistakes. The following table of contents was all about Tang Shishi’s favor, bullying others, and so on.
There was no doubt that today should be a critical moment for Tang Shishi to enter the stage of competing for favor and from then on, she competed for the main plot, but now, she had completely missed her own plot.