It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 62 Give Up
After Zhao Chengjun left for a long time, Dujuan came in trembling with fear and asked, “Miss, Wangye… is he gone?”
Tang Shishi gave a faint “en” without much enthusiasm. Dujuan guessed for a while, but could not guess the reason why he came, and asked cautiously, “Miss, what did Wangye say?”
“You didn’t hear at all what he said.” Tang Shishi found an embroidered pouch from the wardrobe, sat on the arhat couch, and slowly cut the pouch with scissors. “I don’t have to think about the work in the study room. He let me recuperate with ease. In other words, I am grounded.”
This… Dujuan could not understand the current situation. She looked at the intense movement of Tang Shishi and hurriedly said, “Miss, please slow down and be careful not to hurt your hand! Miss, didn’t you just finish embroidering it a few days ago? You didn’t use it for a few days and you already wanted to cut it again?”
“Things that I don’t need, it’s better to throw them out a little bit earlier.” Tang Shishi used more strength to quickly cut the pouch into several pieces, even the lotus flowers on it were cut up by her. After doing this, Tang Shishi felt a little more comfortable. She threw down the scissors and said, “I was preoccupied with Ji Xinxian before this, and I didn’t eat much. Can you go prepare a meal for me?”
Dujuan looked at Tang Shishi, who was energetic and has a good appetite. She did not look like someone who caught up in trivial matters. Tang Shishi was very resilient. Dujuan went outside to order the meal from the kitchen. Before leaving, she saw Tang Shishi leaning on the arhat couch and was playing with the candlewick using the scissors. She hesitated for a moment and said, “Miss, the future is long. I have been serving in the mansion for eight years and understand Wangye’s temperament to a certain extent. Wangye treats you differently. You don’t have to rush for a while, take your time. There will be many more days to come in the future.”
Tang Shishi responded, “I know. I want to eat lotus soup, crispy roast goose, and cheese with less sugar.”
Dujuan responded quickly and hurried to arrange the meal. Tang Shishi was trimming the candle for a long time, after realizing the candle was about to be destroyed by her, only then she was willing to put down the scissors.
Dujuan was worried that Tang Shishi would be depressed. In fact, Tang Shishi was very calm. During this period, she suddenly even wanted to understand several matters.
Zhao Chengjun personally promised that she would not be harmed by Wangfei. Although Zhao Chengjun was not a good person, he was a person who kept his words and would not deceive her. Since Zhao Chengjun was able to say this, Tang Shishi at least did not have to worry about dying at the hands of other people in the mansion for the rest of her life.
She only needed to worry about whether Jing Wang would kill her.
Tang Shishi originally thought that Xi Yunchu was about to enter the mansion and she who unfortunately had missed her plot, only then she hurried to find a way out for herself. Now there were no worries about her future, Tang Shishi was no longer in a hurry to enter the male lead’s rear court.
She even felt that she did not have to enter his rear court in the future.
Tang Shishi was highly confident in her beauty, but she would not lose her mind. She repeatedly offended the male lead, and even Tang Shishi knew that it was difficult for her to gain Zhao Zixun’s favor.
She entrapped Zhao Zixun so many times. If Zhao Zixun could still like her, Tang Shishi had to doubt that Zhao Zixun was a masochist. Seeing that there was no hope of becoming a concubine, she had to consider another way out.
In fact, those who lived well in the Imperial Palace were not necessarily concubines, and those high-ranking female court officials were not bad either. The favored concubines could change one after another, but the Imperial Palace eunuchs around the emperor were as strong as iron. From the Empress’s inner hall to the imperial concubines to the palace maids, all of them have to be polite when they met with these female court officials. Of course, Tang Shishi could not be a eunuch, but she could be a female official.
If she continued to serve in the study room and became a competent female official next to Zhao Chengjun, she would be the first Gugu before the Emperor after Zhao Chengjun took over the Imperial Palace in the future. At that time, Zhao Zixun would just be a Taizi*, and Zhou Shunhua was a Taizi’s concubine at best. How could they compete with Tang Shishi?
(Taizi* – crown prince)
The more Tang Shishi thought about it, the more she felt good about it. Female court officials were not as pampered as the Empress Dowager, but their mortality rate was low, and a short struggling period made it easier to succeed. If she were to be an empress dowager, Tang Shishi would have to endure for forty years. If there was a little mishap within these forty years, all her effort would be in vain. On the other hand, being a female official was much easier. She only needed to keep her current situation and successfully survived until Zhao Chengjun ascended the throne. At that time, just a random reputable title would be enough for Tang Shishi to consume for the rest of her life.
The only disadvantage of this road was that Zhao Chengjun’s reign time was too short. When Zhao Zixun became the Emperor, he would bring in his own people as Imperial Court officials. Then, Tang Shishi would have a headache with her courting disaster abilities.
Anyway, Tang Shishi secretly calculated her age, thinking that she could endure by gritting her teeth for a few years. After the age of twenty-five, the Imperial Palace’s maids were released from the Imperial Palace according to the law. Even if Zhao Zixun hated Tang Shishi, he would not treat the old people who have served the Emperor of the previous dynasty harshly. He would release Tang Shishi from the imperial palace. Once out of the Imperial Palace, who could still know what was going on in the Imperial Palace, Tang Shishi could go back to the Tang family for retirement. When she was in the Tang family or even in the entire Linqing, relying on the name of the Imperial Court female official, how would not she make trouble?
In this way, she could take care of her mother all her life. At that time, if Tang Mingzhe has a good attitude, she would live in the Tang family and if Tang Mingzhe still doted on concubine Su, she would move out of the Tang family with her mother and buy a house by herself. Anyway, Tang Shishi did not intend to marry anyone. Qi Jingsheng would be worshiped by Linqing after passing the county-level imperial examination, while Tang Shishi would be a person who had been next to the emperor, she did not believe that those merchants dared to bully her.
As for male and female leads, she just let them tangle in their own way. Zhou Shunhua had to fight for thirty or forty years before becoming an empress dowager while Tang Shishi could retire with honor at the age of twenty-five. Tang Shishi may have lived comfortably for a longer time in comparison.
Tang Shishi felt much relieved after she thoroughly thought through things out as if her whole body relaxed all over. She had made so many preparations for Zhao Zixun that she thought she would be very unwilling to give up, but in fact, she was very calm.
It seemed that she had given up something she was originally unwilling to do.
After Tang Shishi adjusted her life goals, she felt very peaceful, and even her life was comfortable. Since Zhao Chengjun did not allow her to go out, she stayed in the room with peace of mind, embroidering flowers and cutting characters. Actually, she felt comfortable too.
Tang Shishi had been staying behind closed doors, naturally did not know that these two days, the rumors of her grounded and about Tang Shishi falling out of favor has been spreading in the mansion like rampant. Tang Shishi deliberately did not pay attention to these rumors, but the wind still blew to Tang Shishi. These days, the food delivery to Jianjia courtyard was getting increasingly late, and sometimes she had to wait for a long time to get something from the warehouse.
The maids in the Jianjia courtyard were all outraged, especially Dujuan who was the edgiest. Dujuan was really furious. These fools dared to say that her young lady was out of favor! Wangye was so angry when he came that day, but when he saw her young lady, he did not punish or reprimand her. Even though he was still angry when he left, he just grounded her.
Ah, pooh! Dujuan was filled with righteous indignation, but she was afraid to make Tang Shishi sad. She endured it all the time and did not let her young lady hear the groundless rumor outside.
It rained last night, and the sky today was as clear as if after washing. It was wonderfully comfortable to push the window open and Tang Shishi leaned against the window to cut flowers. After a while, Dujuan came in angrily. Tang Shishi glanced at her and asked, “Who messed with you again?”
Dujuan endured and endured it again, but it was really hard to swallow this breath. She cursed, “Miss, those old women bullying people too much! I wanted to get for you the plum blossoms syrup, but they shirk in every possible way. In the end, they said it was all gone to beauty Ji.”
Tang Shishi nodded and was not surprised, “Ji Xinxian has been favored recently and Shizifei also flattered her. It’s not surprising that the people in the kitchen curry favor Ji Xinxian. If I don’t have one, then just change it. I don’t have to drink the plum blossoms syrup.”
Plum blossoms syrup was carefully decocted by collecting dew in the morning, adding several kinds of flowers, and medicinal herbs. Since there was not much dew in the morning and it took a lot of effort to cook this medicinal drink, the plum blossoms syrup has always been in short supply. If able to drink a mouthful would be extraordinary already.
Previously, Tang Shishi was offered a small cup every day. Unless the weather was bad and it was impossible to collect dew, it would be temporarily stopped. It rained last night, and there would be a lot of dew today. As usual, Dujuan went to the kitchen to get the plum blossoms syrup but was told that it was all gone.
What was gone? It was obvious that they despised Tang Shishi for being grounded, and they wanted to use the remaining plum blossoms syrup to curry favor with someone else. Dujuan was so angry that she said, “Miss, I don’t care about the bowl of plum blossoms syrup, but rather their attitude. When you worked in the study some time ago, what were their faces? Now you are just resting for a few days, they turned the wheel one by one. It was disgusting to see them.”
Tang Shishi was very calm, “It’s human nature to curry favor by holding on to the high and stepping on the low.”
“Miss!” Dujuan was so angry that she blurted out, “But this is not the case. Wangye indulgent you very much. It can be seen that he doesn’t really want to punish you. Why don’t you gently talk a few good words to Wangye?”
Tang Shishi paused for a while when she heard Dujuan’s words. She looked up to Dujuan with a strange glance, “What are you talking about? Why do I go plead with Jing Wang? He was so tired of me and if I go to plead for myself, isn’t it provoking him again?”
Dujuan was baffled when she heard this, “Miss, what are you talking about? Wangye is tired of you? How is that possible?”
The mistress and servant looked at each other and both thought that the other party might be crazy. The sun was shining brightly outside, and the scenery was just right. Tang Shishi sat for a while and felt really bored. She said tentatively, “Jing Wang only allow me to recuperate but he didn’t say how long he would let me recuperate. Then, I can go outside to relax and help improve my condition, right?”
Dujuan’s voice was blocked, and she did not answer for a while. According to common sense, was not this a tacit excuse? When womenfolk being grounded, which one is really recuperating.
Dujuan would surely fight frantically to stop her from courting disaster if it were someone else. However, if this person was changed to Tang Shishi… Dujuan thought about it and said, “Miss, you can give it a try.”
The more Tang Shishi thought about it, the more she felt reasonable. She changed her clothes and tried to go out. When people outside saw her coming out, they stared at her in disbelief, but no one stopped her. If it was not forbidden, then it was allowed. Tang Shishi immediately went to the garden happily.
In the study room, Liu Ji with his hands in his clothes walked in with small quick steps from the outside. Zhao Chengjun was reading the official report. The little eunuch brought new water. Liu Ji poured tea for Zhao Chengjun cautiously without any noise and said softly, “Wangye, Miss Tang is out today.”
Zhao Chengjun paused his fingers slightly, but he kept his eyes on, and asked, “Where did she go?”
Zhao Chengjun’s fingers tighten. She was indeed daring. He already told her to reflect on her mistakes behind the closed door. She was fantastic, completely ignored his words. How dare she swaggered out in just a few days?
Zhao Chengjun could not even let out his anger. However, he was a dignified prince, and would not be serious with a woman. Zhao Chengjun acted as if he did not hear and left it alone.
Liu Ji looked at him from the side and gave a long “Oh!” in his heart. Zhao Chengjun was not a good nature type of person, especially taboo against others disobeying him. In the past, when Shizi was just a little against Zhao Chengjun’s wishes, he was hit with a wooden plank and made to copy books. However, now Tang Shishi openly went against Zhao Chengjun’s words and ignored Zhao Chengjun’s authority in front of the whole mansion. Unexpectedly Wangye could tolerate it?
Tut, Liu Ji was speechless. This was incredible, ah. Those idiots outside actually said that Tang Shishi was out of favor. Their eyes were truly blinded to be able to say such pig-like words.
In Liu Ji’s opinion, this master was out of favor. This was obviously a great fortune, ah. She offended Wangye and made Wangye so angry that he could not sleep well for several days. However, he was still reluctant to beat or punish, simply sulking by himself.
This was by no means an ordinary type of care, maybe Liu Ji would have to depend on this person in the future.
Liu Ji was discerning from Zhao Chengjun’s body language that he did not want to talk more, so he retreated to one side wisely. Liu Ji lowered his head and stayed still, regarded himself as nonexistence.
Zhao Chengjun’s eyes were still looking at the official report, but his mind drifted far away in a split second. These days, he deliberately did not want to think about what happened that day. Unexpectedly, when he took the initiative to avoid it, the other person appeared in front of him differently.
Zhao Chengjun did not really want to ground Tang Shishi. He was so angry when he saw that Tang Shishi was fascinated by another man, and yet he could not bear to punish her severely. So, he could only leave her alone. It was impossible for Zhao Chengjun to ignore it, and also, he did not want to see her go look for Zhao Zixun, so he simply grounded her.
As a result, Tang Shishi could not feel the danger of her situation at all, and she even dared to not take his orders seriously.
Zhao Chengjun became angrier the more he thought about it. He really could not continue to read the report. He put down the official report and pressed the center of his eyebrows, having a headache.
All were evil obstacles. Tang Shishi was specially sent by Heaven to torture him, right?
There was a greeting from outside “Pay respect to Shizi”, and Zhao Chengjun instantly regained his senses and withdrew his hand calmly. When Zhao Zixun came in, he happened to see Zhao Chengjun letting his hand go. Zhao Zixun knew that Zhao Chengjun’s spirit had been bad and had a headache easily. Zhao Zixun saluted Zhao Chengjun and asked, “Father, do you have a headache today?”
Zhao Chengjun was sitting behind the long red sandalwood table with a solemn expression, and said, “Nothing. What can I do for you?”
Zhao Chengjun was superior. If he were not willing to say, Zhao Zixun also could not ask more. Zhao Zixun responded and said respectfully, “Father, I have two things to ask today. One is the Wangfei you mentioned a few days ago. Father, do you have a proposition in mind?”
The study room was all his own people, and Zhao Zixun did not avoid it when he spoke. When Liu Ji heard this, his eyelids were still drooping, but he secretly glanced at Zhao Chengjun from the corner of his eyes.
Zhao Chengjun’s complexion was not particularly good. His tone was light, and said in a single stroke, “Let’s put this matter aside for the time being. Wangfei may not be able to establish.”
What? Zhao Zixun was startled, and even Liu Ji could not help but lift his eyelids. Zhao Zixun was incredibly surprised and hurriedly asked, “Why? Did the people from the Imperial Court find out the traces?”
Zhao Chengjun hated people who hesitated, especially hated people who repeatedly changed his mind on a matter. Zhao Zixun was given strict requirements from the moment he entered the mansion, so he never thought that it was Zhao Chengjun who changed his mind. He only thought that it was the Imperial Court who was making trouble.
Zhao Chengjun paused for a while and said indifferently, “It has nothing to do with other people. I have my own decision on this matter, you don’t have to worry about it.”
Zhao Zixun’s eyes were wide open and responded suspiciously. Zhao Chengjun had said this in person a few days ago, and yet has to cancel it at once? This was not like his father’s style of work.
Zhao Zixun was puzzled, but this was not the time to enquire more. Zhao Zixun suppressed the matter and said, “The second thing is about the military defense in Suzhou. There is a secret report that came from the spy said that Tatars are gathering troops in Heishui city and are likely to sneak attack Suzhou in the fifth month.”
Zhao Chengjun’s expression also became serious when he heard that it was related to border defense. He asked, “Who sent the news?”
This was the spy they buried within Tatars. The war in the Northwest was unceasing and the situation was complicated. Each of the three regimes has buried its spies in each other’s territory. Zhao Chengjun asked, “Is the news trustworthy? Has the secret letter been intercepted?”
“I checked it carefully. The fire lacquer on the envelope was still intact, and the seal was correct. It was indeed have not been tamper with.”
Zhao Zixun said with certainty, but Zhao Chengjun always felt that something was wrong. The fourth and fifth months were the peak season for horse breeding. Since Tatars lived as nomads, why would they sneak attack the border during this season?
This was the news that Zhao Zixun brought back and Zhao Chengjun did not question him face to face but decided to check it again in private. Zhao Chengjun said, “I understood this matter. I will arrange with the General in Suzhou later. You did an excellent job. You can withdraw now.”
Zhao Chengjun rarely praised people. Zhao Zixun was obviously relieved, and saluted again, “Thank you, father. I will withdraw.”
In the garden, Tang Shishi took a walk along the lake, picking flowers on both sides while walking. She saw a cluster of purple flowers blooming strangely in the woods. At this time, Dujuan had not caught up to her and Tang Shishi was too lazy to wait for her. She went into the woods to pick flowers by herself.
She was just getting close to the flower when someone approached her from behind and suddenly covered her mouth. Tang Shishi was scared and was about to struggle. A muffled voice came from behind, “Don’t scream, it’s me.”
It was Granny Wu. Tang Shishi sighed with relief and stopped struggling. She nodded slightly and signaled that she understood. Seeing that she had responded, Granny Wu quickly released her hand and hinted with her eyes to Tang Shishi to follow her.
Tang Shishi quietly followed Granny Wu without saying a word to a secluded area. Granny Wu looked around to make sure that there was no one around, then only she looked at Tang Shishi, “Why have you been grounded lately?”
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes and sighed faintly, “I was very careful in every possible way the last time I asked Granny Wu for medicine, but I was still found out by Jing Wang.”
When Grandma Wu heard it, she showed a completely not unexpected expression on her face. Instead, she consoled Tang Shishi, “If he got it easily, then he will not be Jing Wang. It doesn’t matter. It’s just a mistake, and you still have a chance in the future. A man, no matter what he says, is still lustful in nature. He still keeps you and has not killed you yet which means he still has an old affection for you. After all, he is Wangye and it’s disgraceful to be drugged by a woman. In the future, you’ll be humble and stay low. If you coax him well, you will come back.”
From Granny Wu’s words, she thought Tang Shishi’s drug was for Jing Wang. Tang Shishi remained silent for a moment and decided to shut up to let this misunderstanding continue.
The failure to slip the drug to Jing Wang was excusable. If Granny Wu knew that Tang Shishi had given to Zhao Zixun and failed in the end, Tang Shishi was afraid that Granny Wu would not have the good face she has now.
Granny Wu talked for a long time, filled with pity and regret, “You can’t even do it even though you are the closest woman to him all these years. Alas, I originally wanted you to help, but now it seems that you should protect yourself first.”
In the heart of Granny Wu, Tang Shishi has been diligently conquering Jing Wang by following the instructions from the imperial palace. Although she has never relayed any real letter or useful news, and even the secret drugs from the imperial court failed, she has been working hard all along. It was not her fault that she did not have enough brains. Granny Wu always encouraged this kind of diligent but not very clever spy.
Granny Wu took Tang Shishi out without much consideration. Although Tang Shishi failed, she was still alive, and this chess piece must be kept. When Tang Shishi heard Granny Wu’s words, the light in her eyes moved slightly, and asked softly, “Granny, what happened?”
Granny Wu shook her head, Tang Shishi could no longer be in use, so she had to consider new candidates and even have to rearrange the plan. Granny Wu was thinking about the matter and casually said to Tang Shishi, “It has nothing to do with you. Imperial guards’ spies intercepted Jing Wang’s secret letter, and he will leave the mansion in the fifth month. This trip will take a long time and traveling for a long distance, which is a golden opportunity. However, these have nothing to do with you. You protect yourself first and dispel Jing Wang’s suspicion as soon as possible will be your greatest contribution.”
Tang Shishi’s pupils suddenly shrank. Granny Wu said this was a golden opportunity. What opportunity could there be in this situation?
Naturally, it was an opportunity to assassinate Zhao Chengjun.
Tang Shishi’s hand which was tucked inside her sleeve trembled uncontrollably.