IBTBTED Chapter 68
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 68 Provocation
The steward was in the middle of catching the fox in the bushes. When he heard the voice, he turned around and was stunned, “Miss Tang?”
Tang Shishi ran closer while lifting her skirt. The more she looked, the more frightened she became. The young menservants held in their hands a rod about the thickness of Tang Shishi’s arm. The steward held an animal net with fine iron nails in his hand. There were many animal traps scattered on the ground, and suspicious black stains were congealed on the bottom.
Tang Shishi was so frightened that her face immediately turned cold and said angrily, “Presumptuous! I raised the fox, it’s not wild. If there’s anything, come to me. Why do you make things difficult for a little fox that could not resist?”
The fact that Tang Shishi raised a fox was not a secret in the palace. People know that there were two ancestors in the Jianjia courtyard. One was Miss Tang, an important person in front of Wangye, and the other was the red fox, which was brought back from the paddock by Wangye to be raised by Miss Tang.
When the little fox ran out before, people in the mansion knew that this was a pet raised by Tang Shishi, and no one dared to make things difficult for it. The little fox grew up smoothly in the mansion. After all, Tang Shishi, Dujuan, and others had other things to do. Since they saw that the little fox did not cause trouble after some time, the supervision was less strict, and they let the little fox go outside to move about at will.
Who could have imagined that the little fox had been living in peace for so long before, but something went wrong only today? Tang Shishi did not believe that Lu Yufei did not know that this was her pet.
Seeing Tang Shishi, the young menservants and the courtyard guards’ action slowed down and spread out slightly to reveal Lu Yufei’s crime who was in the pavilion. Lu Yufei had seen Tang Shishi from the beginning but only now, she walked down slowly and said, “Oh! it turned out to be Miss Tang. Isn’t Miss Tang recuperating, why did you come out?”
“Shizifei wanted to kill my pet. Even if I am a Bodhisattva, I can’t sit still.” With a cold face, Tang Shishi said, “The little fox has been in the mansion perhaps a little longer than Shizifei. Could it be that Shizifei didn’t know that this is my pet?”
“Of course, I know.” Lu Yufei said with a smile, “It’s Miss Tang’s affair what does Miss Tang likes to raise, and it’s not my turn to intervene. I heard that this fox was brought back from the paddock, and Miss Tang also likes to let it roam freely. I originally thought that with Miss Tang’s meritorious deed at serving Wangye, even if it was inconvenient, I still silently endured it. However, this time it was not a matter of forbearance. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged, but it’ll be out of the question to wrong Second Miss Xi. Look, it actually scratched Yunchu! This evil animal is wild and untamable. For the sake of the safety of the womenfolk in the mansion, I think it’s better to get rid of it.”
Tang Shishi saw the blood marks on Xi Yunchu’s hands. Tang Shishi had been raising the little fox for so long and knew its temperament best. The little fox had been raised since it was young and was very clingy and would not recklessly injure others. The blood stains on Xi Yunchu’s hands were neat and tidy. Mostly, she had done something that provoked the little fox to be anxious, and the little fox gave her a paw.
However, the situation was stronger than others and Tang Shishi was unable to defend the little fox. She could only swallow this breath and apologize, “It hurts people because I didn’t teach it well. I am here to apologize to Second Miss Xi. I hope that the second young lady is generous and will let it go this time. After all, it is a little thing with no wisdom, and it is not easy to grow to such a big size. Miss Xi, please be considerate.”
Xi Yunchu snorted softly, and said ambiguously, “If I’m considerate of it, then who is considerate of me? I walked properly, but I was suddenly clawed by it. Its paws are so dirty. I haven’t demanded Miss Tang for justice yet, but Miss Tang questioned me?”
Lu Yufei also followed suit to help, “Yes ah. Yunchu’s hands were originally white and delicate, as tender as lush white, but now they have been scratched and broken. A woman’s body can’t have any scar, and now her good hands were destroyed. If Madam Xi knows about it, I don’t know how angry she should be. Yunchu is my guest. No matter what big mistake she made in the mansion, let alone killing an evil animal, and even if Yunchu wants to beat me, I will never dare to say anything.”
Tang Shishi held back her anger, and said, “It was raised by me since it was born. We usually bathe it very diligently and there will be no dirty things. It is my fault that caused Miss Xi to be marred by a scar. I have Qiongyu ointment in my place, even the old scars can also be eliminated after applying it. I will compensate Miss Xi with Qiongyu ointment along with the money for medical treatment. Miss Xi, please be lenient and spare the little fox life.”
When Xi Yunchu was having fun in the garden just now, she was surprised to see a fox among the bushes and asked the maid to bring it over. This fox was not afraid of people and was playing with the womenfolk without restraint and was very lively. The maids laughed endlessly as they were teased by the little fox. Xi Yunchu was also laughing at first. Later, when Lu Yufei mentioned that this was Tang Shishi’s pet, Xi Yunchu’s mood suddenly deteriorated.
Lu Yufei also said that this was brought back by Tang Shishi from the paddock. It was originally Shizi’s prey. Tang Shishi requested it from Jing Wang, and Jing Wang just gave it to her. This fox was very pampered in the mansion, and its life was better than that of its master. Sometimes, even Jing Wang would remind them with a few words.
The more Xi Yunchu listened, the more unhappy she became. She saw the fox’s fiery tail sweeping around on the ground which looked like being happy with its surrounding like its master. Xi Yunchu felt uncomfortable, so she stepped hard on the fox’s tail. The fox was hurt by the step, jumped up, and gave Xi Yunchu a claw with its backhand.
Xi Yunchu was scratched by the fox when both she and Lu Yufei were sitting. Xi Yunchu hurriedly stood up to take a look at her hand and found it was bleeding.
This was indeed very painful like being slapped on the face. Xi Yunchu’s face was gloomy on the spot. Lu Yufei was afraid of offending Xi Yunchu. She quickly called someone to catch the fox and beat it to death for Xi Yunchu to vent her anger. Unexpectedly, this fox was very clever. Even with so many people, no one was able to catch the little fox for a long time. Instead, it was waiting for Tang Shishi to come.
In fact, Xi Yunchu did not have to sentence the little fox to death as it was nothing more than just a long-haired animal that was not worthy of her concern. However, when Tang Shishi mentioned Qiongyu ointment, Xi Yunchu paused, and her murderous aura became more intense.
Qiongyu ointment was the secret medicine of the imperial court which was very precious and only a few small boxes could be mixed a year. Jing Wang was the only one who could afford to use Qiongyu ointment in the huge Xiping province. Tang Shishi actually had Qiongyu ointment on her hand. Obviously, it was given to her by Jing Wang.
The evil fire in Xi Yunchu’s heart grew even stronger. She was the soon-to-be Jing Wangfei, and Jing Wang’s favor should be hers only. What kind of thing was Tang Shishi? This woman was seductive and bewitching with a demon-like appearance. She should have been rectified long ago.
Xi Yunchu sneered coldly, and said, “Am I short of your money? Gold and silver are nothing but a block of things, which can’t buy me my happiness. Who cares about your stinky money? I am not happy now and only by killing it can dissolve my hatred. No matter who comes or how much money is given, it will not work.”
Upon seeing this, Lu Yufei gave the steward a meaningful look, “Didn’t you hear what Miss Xi said? Still not hurry up?”
Once the steward received Lu Yufei’s command, he immediately called out the young menservants and the guards of the courtyard to catch the fox. Several guards of the courtyard had field experience, and soon the little fox was forced to show itself.
A bunch of people pounced at the fox. The little one kept escaping from the rods and had to be careful of the traps under its feet. Tang Shishi watched until her heart was about to jump out. She did not care about the consequences, and shouted at Xi Yunchu, “Shizifei, this is the mascot given to me by Jing Wang. Jing Wang personally carried it back from the fox’s den and originally planned to give it to Princess Narentuoya. Unfortunately, the princess could not touch the animal’s fur, and she regrettably gave it up. However, the princess still missed it and specially asked Jing Wang to take care of it properly before leaving. The Yan Dynasty and Beiting have had close relations with each other for generations and are inseparable. In the future, when Zhongshun Wang and the princess visit the Xiping province and ask Jing Wang about the little fox, how will Shizifei and Miss Xi respond?”
Lu Yufei’s expression was stunned and then raised her eyebrows, “How dare you use Wangye to threaten me?”
“It’s not a threat.” Tang Shishi looked directly at Lu Yufei and said, “This is just a reminder.”
Lu Yufei could not help but hesitate towards such eyes. Although it was widely rumored in the mansion that Tang Shishi fell out of favor, she was still influential even with her declining favor. These imperial palace women were all evil. What if Jing Wang came back and was seduced by her again? After all, Lu Yufei was only a Shizifei and dared not challenge Jing Wang’s authority. If it was not necessary, she did not want to have any conflict with Jing Wang’s favored concubine and maid.
Lu Yufei was about to let it go but Xi Yunchu was so angry that her teeth itched, and suddenly said fiercely, “If you spare it means you did not give me face. If you don’t kill this evil animal today, I will never set foot on the Jing Wang mansion again in the future.”
This… Lu Yufei dared not say anything. Xi Yunchu was a very petty person, the more she was not allowed to do something, the more she wanted to do the opposite. If a person was hated by Xi Yunchu, then she would ridicule that person for three or four years whenever they met, and sometimes, she would even deliberately fight against that person. Xi Yunchu would soon become Jing Wangfei, and Lu Yufei dared not offend her future mother-in-law like this.
Lu Yufei made up her mind and said resolutely, “Kill it. Don’t worry about it. I’ll bear whatever consequences.”
When the people in charge got the words from Lu Yufei, they were determined to catch the little fox more openly. No matter how clever the little fox was, it could not get away from so many people. It was quickly blocked by people. When it tried to escape, it accidentally stepped on the trap. The trap closed with a bang. The little fox whimpered and knelt down on the ground with a mournful cry.
Everyone yelled out proudly. The young menservants carried their rod and immediately stepped forward to kill it. Tang Shishi was frightened, exerted herself to push the young manservant away, and rushed to the front to stop them and said, “I see who of you dare?”
When the steward saw Tang Shishi, he sighed, “Miss Tang, please don’t make things difficult for us. It’s nothing more than just a long-haired beast. If you really like it, you can buy a gentle rabbit or parrot in the future.”
How could this be the same? Tang Shishi refused to get out of the way, and Dujuan followed suit to help. Lu Yufei’s face sank when she saw this. Tang Shishi’s move was the same as slapping her in the face openly. If she let it go, where would she put her Shizifei’s prestige?
Lu Yufei shouted coldly, “What are you doing in a daze? Why don’t you hurry up and get Miss Tang away?”
The servants knew when to adopt different attitudes under different circumstances the best. Tang Shishi was just a maid who had fallen out of favor, and her future was unknown. Even if she was favored again later, the highest she would be no more than a favored concubine. Wangye who cared so much about the dignity of a legitimate wife would not let Tang Shishi surpass the Wangfei. On the contrary, the two in the pavilion, one was the confirmed Shizifei, and the other was the tacit new Wangfei. It was obvious at a glance who the subordinates should side with.
The steward wanted to bypass Tang Shishi to move forward, but Tang Shishi refused to let him go. In the middle of the chaos, a new young manservant who could not control his movements pushed Tang Shishi hard. Tang Shishi was almost pushed down by him. She was startled and immediately protected her lower abdomen out of instinct.
Dujuan was also terribly frightened. She quickly rushed over to help Tang Shishi, and hurriedly asked, “Miss, are you okay?”
Tang Shishi covered her abdomen, and her complexion was pale. She could not speak for a while. Looking at the expression of the two, master and servant, the steward was a little scared, but he thought about it again, what could a maid who had fallen out of favor do? He arched his hands perfunctorily, and said, “Miss Tang, please forgive me. If you refuse to cooperate, we also could not help it.”
He was saying that he was going to move forward from now on, without any meaning to apologize. In the middle of the chaos, a sharp shout came from far behind, “Stop!”
All people in the garden were shocked at once. Liu Ji ran quickly, not even paying attention to the imperial court propriety that he often talked about. He quickly ran to Tang Shishi’s side and asked carefully, “Miss Tang, how are you?”
Tang Shishi was terribly frightened just now. Her lower abdomen was also aching because of the fright. Tang Shishi did not dare to show it, pretending to be calm, and shook her head, “It’s all right.”
Liu Ji looked at Tang Shishi up and down, and he was relieved to see that she was indeed not injured. He received a message from his apprentice saying that Miss Tang and Shizifei had a conflict in the garden. Thinking of Zhao Chengjun’s instructions before leaving, Liu Ji rushed over to save the scene as he was afraid that Tang Shishi would make any mistakes. Unexpectedly, he was still too late even though he rushed all the way here.
As soon as Liu Ji entered the garden, he saw Tang Shishi being pushed by someone. At that time, he was so frightened that he almost died suddenly. Buddha and Heaven oh! This person could not bear the push. Jing Wang had a cold face when other men touched her once, let alone being pushed hard by a young manservant.
Fortunately, Tang Shishi was all right. He would carefully nurse her for a few days and still could hide it from Jing Wang. After Liu Ji confirmed Tang Shishi’s condition, he turned around to face numerous stewards and young menservants, and his face immediately turned cold and mean.
“All of you have the nerve! Who is Miss Tang and what are you? Who allows you to be disrespectful to Miss Tang?”
Everyone was silent, and the arrogant steward just now shrank like a quail. Lu Yufei rushed over while carrying her skirt, and saluted from a distance, “I don’t know Liu Gonggong is coming, and excuse me for not welcoming you. Gonggong, why are you here?”
The expression on Xi Yunchu’s face also restrained a little, and she saluted Liu Ji indifferently, “Liu Gonggong.”
Liu Ji put on a standard smile expression, but it could be regarded as a fake smile, “I was thinking who it was. It turns out to be Second Miss Xi who has arrived. This is the negligence of our mansion since Second Miss Xi was scratched by a pet in the mansion. I will immediately call the imperial physician to treat Second Miss Xi’s injury. Shizifei, anyone can make mistakes and forgive them whenever possible. Even if it is a fox that is not suitable to sin. Shizifei, Second Miss Xi, what do you two think, right or not?”
Since Liu Ji already said this, Lu Yufei could only nod mockingly, “Gonggong said that it was me who was insane. I just thinking about removing hidden dangers for the mansion and forgot that Wangye is the most compassionate. Wanxia, why don’t you pick up the fox and quickly bandage its wounds so it will not leave any root of the disease.”
Tang Shishi sneered and said coldly, “No need. We are the ones that did not discipline the fox well and dare not to trouble Shizifei’s people. Dujuan, go take the fox out.”
Dujuan responded plainly and ran to rescue the fox without delay. After Liu Ji satirized Lu Yufei, he turned around to look at Tang Shishi, with a smile on his face again, “Miss Tang, you are frightened today. Miss, rest assured that I will certainly teach these fools who have no eyes properly, and absolutely will not let you be wronged in vain. Miss, it’s windy outside, go back and rest.”
Dujuan carefully took out the trap from the little fox’s legs. The fox whimpered and nestled in the Dujuan’s arms sickly. Tang Shishi was shocked to see the blood on its legs and on top of that, she was pregnant. She did not dare to stay in front of Liu Ji too long. Thus, she took the advantage and said, “Sure. Thank you, Liu Gonggong.”
“It’s my duty.” Liu Ji responded with a smile. Even without him to signal, the little eunuch behind Liu Ji took the initiative to escort Tang Shishi back to the courtyard, “Miss Tang, please.”
Tang Shishi was sent back to the Jianjia courtyard. On the way, the little eunuch said that he would call the imperial physician for the little fox, but Tang Shishi did not dare to see the imperial physician now. So, she quickly refused it. After closing the door, Dujuan hurriedly took the little fox to bandage. When the maids in the Jianjia courtyard saw that the little fox was hurt, they all sighed and felt very distressed.
The fox was surrounded by the maids. Tang Shishi knew that Dujuan was more proficient at doing these things. She was unable to intervene. So, she quietly left and left the fox completely in the care of the maids.
The reason Tang Shishi left was one was that she only specialized in school studies, and the other was that she had a slight pain in her lower abdomen. After she returned to her room, she quickly found a soft place to lie down. When she passed by the table, she saw the medicine bowl was still untouched in the same place.
The bowl was still hot when she went out, and now the medicine was completely cold.
Tang Shishi looked at it a few times and unexpectedly thought that the medicine was cold and could not be drunk. She seemed to be relieved, picked up the medicine bowl, and poured it into the flowerpot in the corner.