IBTBTED Chapter 59
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 59 Take Risk
Tang Shishi stood under the tree for a while and walked back slowly. Dujuan and others kept guarding at the garden gate. Seeing Tang Shishi come back, they hurriedly stepped forward to surround Tang Shishi, “Miss, be careful of the wind. Miss, what did you just see, why did you go for so long?”
As Dujuan talked, she looked toward the garden. Spring came late in the Northwest, and there was still snow on the ground at this moment. The trees in the garden were depressed, withered, and gloomy. In fact, there was nothing worth seeing. Tang Shishi was standing at the corner of the corridor just now with an unknown tree in front of her, and a rockery in the distance. Dujuan looked at it for a long time but still could not find anything worth seeing.
Tang Shishi gathered her cloak and said casually, “Just find something to kill the time, nothing special.”
Dujuan just said “oh” and walked back with Tang Shishi immediately afterward. On the way back, Dujuan carefully looked at Tang Shishi’s complexion and asked, “Miss, you don’t need to go to the study room these few days?”
Dujuan replied with a little disappointment in her voice, and then said happily, “Miss has been tired for so long, so it may not be a bad idea to rest for a few days. Only when you have a good body you can help lighten Wangye’s worries even more.”
Tang Shishi’s face was white, and she did not answer. She thought slowly in her heart, unlikely.
She would not be going to the study room again. If she succeeded, she would be in Shizi’s courtyard and would not reappear in front of Zhao Chengjun. If she failed, she could not even save her life. How could she share his worries?
But Tang Shishi did not regret it. If she did not succeed, she would die for a righteous cause. She had no other choice since Zhao Chengjun was about to marry a Wangfei, and Tang Shishi’s plot was also replaced by Ji Xinxian. If Tang Shishi did not give herself a way out now and waited for Xi Yunchu to enter the mansion, she still would not have a good ending.
Dujuan did not at all know about this and was still thinking hard about how to replenish Tang Shishi’s body so that Tang Shishi could return to the study room as soon as possible. When they walked halfway, they heard noises from the other end of the garden. Tang Shishi turned her head and saw a bunch of maids surrounding a woman in a deep red colored dress who came for a walk in the garden with great fanfare.
Ji Xinxian stood in the middle of the crowd dressed in brightly colored clothing with pearls all over her head and raised her face slightly. She walked with unparalleled arrogances in every move. She could hardly wait to announce to the entire world that she was very favored and that she was doing very well.
Tang Shishi seemed to see another self through Ji Xinxian. If she did not get the heavenly book and experienced all this, it would be Tang Shishi who came to the garden to show off today. Seeing that Tang Shishi stopped, Dujuan asked, “Miss, that’s beauty Ji. Are you going to talk to beauty Ji?”
“No need.” Tang Shishi quickly withdrew her gaze, feigned putting her fingers on the handwarmer, and said, “Go back to the courtyard.”
Spring came extremely late this year because of the big snow in the second month, and the weather slowly warmed up in the fourth month. The trees in the garden seemed to be in bloom, rushing to open up.
As the weather turned warmer, the ground thawed, and Lu Yufei’s mind to go out also became active again. In the past few months, unknown whether two sides deliberately or not, Shizifei and Lu’s family were remarkably close practically as close as one family, bustling with noise and excitement. Lu Yufei saw that the spring scenery was sunny and beautiful with pleasant weather and looked like it was a good day to go out. So she invited the Xi family again to the Buddhist Temple outside the city to participate in a religious ceremony on the sixteen of the fourth month.
This time, Lu Yufei learned her bitter lesson and no longer clung to Guangji Temple. Instead, she picked a temple nearby that could go back and forth on the same day. The ritual lasted for three days, and Lu Yufei had to stay on the mountain for two nights and return on the third day.
The monkey became the overlord when the tiger was not at home. After Lu Yufei went out on the sixteen’s morning, Ji Xinxian was visibly in high spirits.
Ji Xinxian had been the most favored this month, and her arrogance was simply almost up to the sky. Although Ji Xinxian did not have great wisdom, she still had little cleverness. After examining the social status, she quickly recognized whose thigh she should embrace. Ji Xinxian would say pleasant things to Shizifei from time to time and also helped Shizifei to suppress Ren Yujun together. Over the past month, the rear courtyard had been extremely lively.
Zhao Zixun left it alone. He really liked Ji Xinxian, who was fresh and charming, but he was still sympathetic to the “old woman” Ren Yujun, and his relationship with his wife, Lu Yufei had become more relaxed. Lu Yufei and Ren Yujun would have the rewards that Ji Xinxian had.
Some tiny details from time to time apart from the impartial treatment made every woman feel that she was not the same. In short, it was very lively.
In the past few days, since Lu Yufei went out and was not in the mansion for some time, the struggle between Ji Xinxian and Ren Yujun became even more intense. Everyone wanted to compete for the top spot and grabbed the second mistress position in the mansion. As soon as Lu Yufei went out, Ji Xinxian jumped up.
Ji Xinxian visited Ren Yujun with great fanfare. Ren Yujun thought that this fellow was here to show off again. Ji Xinxian sat decently for a while and finally sent an invitation.
“The spring flowers are blooming, and can’t disappoint the season. I would like to invite Sister Ren to enjoy the flowers by the lakeside on the seventeen’s night of the fourth month. Please accept my inadequate food and drink. I look forward to seeing you.”
Ren Yujun frowned slightly when she saw the date on it.
Seventeen of the fourth month? What a coincidence! It would be fine if Ren Yujun did not know anything, but she just happened to remember that the seventeen of the fourth month was Zhou Shunhua’s birthday.
Was it really a coincidence that Ji Xinxian invited her to be a guest on this day and reserved her for the night?
This was certainly not a coincidence. Tang Shishi looked at the invitation in front of her and threw it into the wastepaper basket. When Dujuan saw it, she said, “Miss, beauty Ji has never had a relationship with you. I’m afraid she did not have good intentions to suddenly invite you to a banquet to admire flowers. Miss, it’s better not to go.”
“Who said I won’t go?” Tang Shishi said, ” There’s no reason not to go when someone is inviting for dinner. Prepare the clothes. I’ll meet these old acquaintances tomorrow.”
Dujuan tilted her head in confusion. She saw that Tang Shishi relentlessly threw the invitation into the wastepaper basket and thought Tang Shishi did not want to go. But, in the end, according to Tang Shishi’s meaning, she would definitely go to the banquet this time.
Why? Dujuan vaguely felt something was wrong. However, she thought that Tang Shishi had been idle at home these days, perhaps she was suffocated, and wanted to go out to take a break. Dujuan thought this way of thinking made sense. She thought she had found an explanation and immediately threw away the suspicion.
Dujuan went to prepare the clothes for tomorrow’s gathering. Tang Shishi sat on the arhat couch and slowly embroidered her pouch. She mended the last few stitches on the lotus flower stalk and the elegant picture of the lotus flower with stalk was finished.
Tang Shishi looked inside and out to make sure nothing was missing before she took out the spices and slowly stuffed them into her embroidered pouch.
It was no coincidence that Ji Xinxian sent an invitation to Ren Yujun on the seventeen of the fourth month. Ji Xinxian was not close to Zhou Shunhua at all and did not know Zhou Shunhua’s birthday, but Tang Shishi knew.
Not only did Tang Shishi know that this day was Zhou Shunhua’s birthday, but she also knew that Zhao Zixun would go to a small building by the lakeside to long for Zhou Shunhua on this day. He even secretly left the mansion, bracing the dew and night, crossing the mountain range, just to go to Nanshan to see Zhou Shunhua. After the two of them cuddled for a while, Zhao Zixun secretly returned to the mansion under the cover of the morning light.
It took about two hours from Xiping province to Nanshan. Zhao Zixun was tormented back and forth, basically unable to close his eyes all night. However, who made Zhao Zixun willing to do so? The more he did not see her, the stronger Zhao Zixun’s feelings for Zhou Shunhua.
Tang Shishi predicted this romantic “Spring Night Rush” segment from the table of contents. She felt that this kind of behavior was simply going crazy with boredom. What was the use of running around about these useless things if did not get to sleep well in the middle of the night? Probably the common people could not appreciate the love between the male and female leads. Anyway, Tang Shishi felt sick and was determined to change it for them.
Tang Shishi first vaguely hinted to Ji Xinxian to ask her to invite Ren Yujun to a banquet on the seventeen of the fourth month. Tang Shishi trusted Ji Xinxian very much. With Ji Xinxian’s expertise, Ren Yujun must be unable to get away all night. After restraining these two hidden dangers, Tang Shish would secretly drug Zhao Zixun. When he was delirious, Tang Shishi would dress up as Zhou Shunhua and would surely seize Zhao Zixun in one stroke.
Moreover, in order not to be disturbed by others, Zhao Zixun did not take any bodyguards with him that day. He would be alone in a small building by the lakeside to relieve his worries with wine. This was also convenient for Tang Shishi, the right time and the right place. The only problem was how Tang Shishi going to slip the drug into his drink.
A month ago, Tang Shishi asked Granny Wu for medicine. Since then, she had been thinking about how to slip the drug. Tang Shishi finally got the pill a few days ago, and her plan gradually took shape.
On the seventeen of the fourth month, Tang Shishi changed into light-colored clothing and went to the banquet by the lakeside. Ji Xinxian had already arrived a long time ago. When she saw Tang Shishi, she was stunned for a moment, and then smiled vaguely, “Sister Tang came really early. It’s strange, Sister Tang always likes bright colors the most, so why do you dress so plainly today?”
Tang Shishi looked indifferent and said, “It’s dark and no one is looking. What’s the difference between what I wear?”
Ji Xinxian asked while smiling, “As Sister Tang said, you have a beautiful face. No matter how much makeup you wear, you are the best of the flowers. Sister Tang should have confidence in your appearance. But why are you so depressed?”
Tang Shishi was once a famous person, dominating first place among all women. However, Tang Shishi had been unhappy recently. A month ago, she was inexplicably removed from the study room duties. The official statement was to recuperate from an illness, but Tang Shishi had a rosy complexion and healthy body. Where did she look sick? Seeing that she has been “healing” for a month and Jing Wang’s side still did not have the intention of summoning Tang Shishi back, everyone realized that Tang Shishi had fallen out of favor.
It was really gratifying. Ji Xinxian happily drank three glasses of wine in a row and felt good seeing everything unfolded this month. Zhou Shunhua was sent to the village, Ren Yujun could not be favored and now even Tang Shishi had been defeated. Ji Xinxian was the most successful among the ten women from the capital. Ji Xinxian could not say how much happy she was. Her family background was not as good as Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun, and her appearance was not as good as Tang Shishi. But so what? She was the ultimate winner.
This banquet was Ji Xinxian’s celebration feast. When Ji Xinxian saw her former enemy in plain clothes and depressed appearance, she became increasingly enthusiastic. Thus, she pulled Tang Shishi to talk non-stop. Tang Shishi showed an impatient expression and had no choice but to endure. She stood up and looked out, “Why hasn’t Sister Ren arrived yet?”
Ji Xinxian was enormously proud when she saw Tang Shishi’s expression. When she heard this, she said with sarcasm, “Maybe Sister Ren wanted to dress up, so she’s coming late.”
Ji Xinxian secretly mocked Ren Yujun’s ugly appearance. Tang Shishi ignored her and said, “Since I don’t know when will Sister Ren arrive, then I will go to the kitchen to remind them about the drinks. It’s too boring to sit like this.”
Ji Xinxian wanted to say that this kind of trivial matter should be done by the maid. There was no need for Tang Shishi to go in person? But Ji Xinxian’s eyes rolled when she spoke and understood Tang Shishi’s intentions.
Tang Shishi was uncomfortable sitting with her, therefore found an excuse to escape, right? Had Ji Xinxian’s livelihood made Tang Shishi so uncomfortable already?
Ji Xinxian looked at Tang Shishi and understood clearly, “Sister Tang is considerate.”
Tang Shishi quickly walked out of the waterside pavilion. Ji Xinxian instinctively understood her hasty departure as an escape. Ji Xinxian disdainfully despised but did not suspect her.
Tang Shishi was really anxious. She only knew that Zhao Zixun would use wine to relieve his sorrows tonight, but she did not know when the wine would be delivered. She would be in trouble if she missed the opportunity of the wine delivery from the kitchen.
Fortunately, Tang Shishi was lucky. When she got to the kitchen, she just saw a young maid going out with a wine pot. Tang Shishi turned her eyes and asked curiously, “What is this?”
Seeing that it was Tang Shishi, the little maid dared not refrain from answering. She bowed down and said, “Miss Tang, this is the calamus wine that Shizi wants.”
“Calamus wine?” Tang Shishi was surprised, “This year’s calamus wine is here?”
“It’s already brewed, but it will still need some time in the cellar. Shizi wanted to drink today, so the kitchen took it out in advance.”
The little maid replied respectfully while holding the wine firmly in her hand and refused to let Tang Shishi get close. Tang Shishi did not find a chance to do it, and her eyes moved slightly, “It’s just right to drink calamus wine these days. It happened that Sister Ji is hosting a banquet today. Please add us a pot of calamus wine too.”
The little maid hesitated. Tang Shishi adjusted her sleeves, raised her eyebrows, and asked, “Why, my words won’t work? Do I have to invite Sister Ji to come over before you can serve me?”
The older maids in the kitchen quickly said they did not dare. Although Tang Shishi was suspected to be out of favor, after all, a cultured person was still better off than the common people even after suffering a loss. The servants did not dare to treat Tang Shishi badly now for fear of being beaten in the face in the future. Anyway, one jar of calamus wine was open, which was no different than two jars were open. Since Tang Shishi wanted it, just let her take a pot.
The older maid went to the back to get the wine. Tang Shishi stood in front as if chatting, asking the little maid from time to time. The little maid could not leave, so she had to wait with the wine in her hands. The older maid was afraid of Tang Shishi would lose her patience, so she used the same wine pot to ensure that there was no difference from the outside. Then she brought it to Tang Shishi, “Miss Tang, the wine is already filled. Please use it slowly.”
Tang Shishi smiled and reached out her hand to take it, “Thank you, mama.” The older maid was shocked when she saw her going to get it herself, “Miss Tang, how can you do this kind of rough work? Let the little maid send it to you. Chuntao, come here quickly…”
“No need.” Tang Shishi interrupted the older maid with a smile, and had already taken the tray from her, “What’s the hassle? Anyway, I have nothing to do. Let Chuntao continue to help mama. I can take it back by myself.”
Tang Shishi insisted, and the older maids did not dare to persuade her. Tang Shishi was holding the tray in her hand and went with the little maid who delivered the wine. Zhao Zixun was hiding in a small building by the lakeside, and Ji Xinxian’s banquet location was in the garden. This was naturally a coincidence carefully arranged by Tang Shishi. Therefore, Tang Shishi and the maid who delivered wine to Zhao Zixun would walk together for a while.
Seeing that they were about to reach the garden, Tang Shishi suddenly gave a cry of “Ouch!”, looked as if she was dizzy, and stopped slowly. The maid was frightened and promptly turned back to check on Tang Shishi, “Miss Tang, what’s the matter with you?”
“Suddenly I can’t see clearly.” Tang Shishi frowned and said, “Put down the things in my hand first. I can’t stand still now.”
The maid was afraid there was something wrong with Tang Shishi. So happened there was a stone table nearby, the maid first put her tray on the table and then came back to pick up Tang Shishi’s tray. Tang Shishi pretended to be unbalanced and crouched down. She secretly shot a glance and saw with her own eyes that the maid put the two trays together.
Tang Shishi felt relieved. She pretended for a while and when she saw that the play was almost over, she stood up with the help of the maid, “It’s much better now, thank you. Sister Ren and Sister Ji are still waiting for me, I’ll go first.”
After Tang Shishi said that she took the lead to the stone table and picked up the tray. The little maid looked somewhat hesitated and asked carefully, “Miss, sudden dizziness is not a small matter. Do you want to find an imperial physician?”
“I’ll be all right. It should be because I didn’t have a good rest yesterday. I’ll just go back slowly.” After Tang Shishi finished speaking, she paused and said, “I don’t want others to know about my personal affairs. Please don’t tell others about my dizziness, you understand?”
The little maid thought there was some sort of conspiracy or struggle. She was so frightened that she immediately responded “Yes”. Tang Shishi said a few more words to the maid and left with the calamus wine. After she turned around, a smile crept across her face.
This wine was no longer the same as a moment ago. While the little maid put the two wines on the stone table, Tang Shishi secretly took the one given to Zhao Zixun. In other words, the one that the little maid was holding right now was the wine in Tang Shishi’s hand a moment ago.
The first step succeeded. Next, everything would be left to Heaven’s will.
In the small building by the lakeside, Zhao Zixun looked at the man in front of him and was quite restless, “Father, why are you here?”