It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 69 Exposed
“Are you serious about this?”
Feng Qian suddenly stood up from the seat and unconsciously dug her nails into the armrest.
“Miss Feng, I saw it clearly.” A maid with a round face approached and said, “When I went to the Jianjia courtyard to deliver things, I personally saw Miss Tang retching with my own eyes. She vomited for a long time and didn’t vomit anything out. There were even sour plums in the room.”
Feng Qian stood on the ground, her face changing. She reluctantly calmed herself down and slowly returned to her seat.
Tang Shishi was actually pregnant? No wonder she did not come out and kept her door closed for some time. She wanted to hide it from everyone. If she was pregnant, then who was the child’s father?
Jing Wang? Shizi? Or a wild man who knew from where?
Feng Qian ruled out the latter two by intuition. With the Tang Shishi’s ambition, she would never be willing to commit herself to a nameless wild man. Shizi was also possible, but Feng Qian did not think so.
It was hard to say why, but Feng Qian just dared to be sure. Tang Shishi said that she would not dare to climb up to Wangye and seemed to be actively fighting for Shizi too. However, on the contrary, this was Tang Shishi’s cleverness. Women who have no intentions were the ones with the biggest intentions. When dealing with a man like Zhao Chengjun, he would certainly despise her if she chose to pursue him openly and directly. Only by playing hard to get, constantly arousing Zhao Chengjun’s interest, and frequently mentioning other men in front of him to make him jealous would make him have a desire to conquer her. Then only she would be able to conquer this type of person.
Tang Shishi was obviously one of the masters. It was funny that she told Feng Qian that she had no interest in Jing Wang. In fact, Feng Qian saw through it on the first day. If she truly has no interest, why did she look at Jing Wang so dazzlingly? Why was it that when Shizi and Wangye were in the same room, her eyes fell more on Wangye?
This scheming bitch was a fox for thousands of years. Who was she deceiving here?
Feng Qian carefully reviewed the situation with her eyebrows frowned. By the way, on the day she drugged Tang Shishi, it was just in time for Jing Wang’s expedition. Could it be that Tang Shishi was so lucky that she ran back to the mansion just before Jing Wang set off on the expedition?
The previous doubts were easily resolved. Feng Qian was originally baffled by how Tang Shishi managed to cure the drug. Who would have thought that this woman was so scheming that she was able to climb up to Jing Wang! Feng Qian felt so angry until her stomach hurts when she thought of this. When the round-faced maid saw Feng Qian’s complexion kept changing, she quickly asked, “Miss Feng, what’s wrong with you?”
Feng Qian immediately snapped out of it, pretended to cough, and said, “I was too surprised and distracted. When did you find out that Tang Shishi was having morning sickness? “
“Just yesterday.” The round-faced maid flattered, “I remember Miss Feng’s kindness. As soon as I find out the news, I came to inform you. Miss Feng, Wangye is not in the mansion now. Could this be Shizi’s?”
Feng Qian smiled rigidly, and said, “Who knows? I can’t decide on this kind of thing. So, it’s better for me to report it to Shizi and Shizifei. I know that you are the one who leaked the secret. Whether it’s good or bad, I won’t involve you, and Tang Shishi won’t know it was you who leaked the secret.”
After Feng Qian finished speaking, she put a loaded pouch on the table for the maid. At the same time, the maid did not dare to get involved in the struggle among the masters. The situation in the rear court was changing rapidly, and it was not certain when or who would be favored. At that time, she did not want to come forward when the news spread. Since Feng Qian was willing to help her keep a secret, naturally it was better.
The round-faced maid quickly picked up the heavy pouch on the table and thought that she would be safe throughout her life. “Miss Feng is really a good person. You will have a good life and a safe life in the future.”
Feng Qian slowly smiled and said, “You deserve this. If you have any news in the future, remember to tell me, and the reward will be only a lot more.”
“Yay, I can save it!”
Feng Qian smiled as she watched the round-faced maid leave. After the maid walked out of sight, Feng Qian immediately withdrew all her smiles, and sneered, “A short-sighted idiot who is greedy for money. However, this idiot did me a great favor.”
Feng Qian walked slowly to the window, broke a red balsam flower, and crushed it bit by bit. The bright red juice dripped from her fingertips, “Things that are too ostentatious are not worthy of living well. You are not as smart as I am, not as intelligent as I am, and also not as tenacious as me. Except for your face, you have nothing better than me. Why is it you?”
The summer night was hard to disappear. The sun has set for a long time, and the air was still hot and dry. The sky slowly turned from blue to dark blue. The hazy twilight enveloped Jing Wang’s mansion‘s lush trees and insects’ cries.
Lu Yufei’s room was full of brilliance, even though it was already night. Lu Yufei especially changed her clothes and dabbed her face with powder. She held the handkerchief and sat opposite Zhao Zixun, under the flickering light, “Shizi, I did not know you are coming and did not prepare dinner. Would you like to have something to eat?”
“No need, I’ve already had dinner.” Zhao Zixun did not seem to have the intention to chat with Lu Yufei at all. He did not say much nonsense and went directly to the topic, “I heard that a few days ago, you got into a fight in the garden and still wanted to kill Tang Shishi’s fox?”
Zhao Zixun came to her even though today was not the fifteenth day of the month. Lu Yufei was secretly happy, but she did not expect Zhao Zixun to ask about other people. Lu Yufei’s smile stagnant a little, and her expression sank, “That’s right. Tang Shishi’s fox scratched Xi Yunchu, and I couldn’t help but seek justice for her. Shizi is so busy studying and practicing martial arts every day that you have no time to set foot in the rear court. Why do you think of asking the fox today?”
Was it the fox or the owner of the fox that Zhao Zixun wanted to ask?
Zhao Zixun did not want to see Lu Yufei at first. When he heard her talking like this, his heart became even more annoyed. Thinking of the gossip he heard a few days ago, he tried his best to be patient with her, “You are a Shizifei. You should show the attitude of being a mistress of the mansion, don’t catch the small things and lose the big ones and only know to stare at the trivial matter. Furthermore, the second lady of the Xi family is at the marriageable age. If there is nothing important, don’t drag her to the mansion all day long.”
Zhao Zixun’s words were very blunt, and Lu Yu with a gloomy face almost quarreled with him again. Taking into account that it was not easy for the husband and wife to meet once, she reluctantly endured it and said, “I am not a three-year-old child, and naturally know the truth about avoiding suspicion. Shizi, don’t worry. I will keep a distance from the Xi family next time.”
Zhao Zixun frowned that Lu Yufei was always like this. She clearly did not understand anything, but she pretended to understand. Concerning what he said, she did not understand what Zhao Zixun meant at all.
Zhao Zixun implied that she had less interaction with Xi Yunchu and that Xi Yunchu was not a candidate for Wangfei from the start. The closer she was now, the more embarrassing she would be when the truth came to light. On the contrary to expectation, Lu Yufei even helped Xi Yunchu treat the people in the mansion harshly. Zhao Zixun personally came to remind her. However, Lu Yu believed that she thought the mansion was about to be betrothed with the Xi family, and he wanted to avoid suspicion.
This was simply stupid and he could not endure it anymore.
Zhao Zixun was angry. When he was about to say something, an old woman stopped outside to report, “Shizi, Shizifei, someone is requesting to see you.”
Zhao Zixun paused. Lu Yufei stood up frowning and asked towards outside, “Who is it so late?”
“It’s Miss Feng Qian. She said that there is a very important thing, and she must request to see Shizi, Shizifei.”
“Feng Qian?” Lu Yufei’s brows tightened, “What is she doing here?”
Zhao Zixun noticed that Feng Qian mentioned “request to see Shizi”, and his eyes narrowed slightly. It seemed that Feng Qian was here for him. Zhao Zixun calmly said, “She is not an ignorant person. If she said it like that, maybe there is really something important. Let her come in.”
Feng Qian entered the room and lowered her head to greet Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei. After a long time, Feng Qian still looked delicate and soft with a weak appearance. Zhao Zixun asked, “Why did you come at night?”
Feng Qian’s complexion was white, and could almost see the blue-green veins through her skin, but her lips were bright red. In contrast, she looked very enchanting, “Shizi, I have an important matter to report. This matter has a great impact and is inconvenient to tell others.”
Zhao Zixun looked at Feng Qian and gestured to his nearby servants. The maids and menservants retreat outside the door together. However, Feng Qian still refused to say.
Lu Yufei raised her eyebrows slightly, “Miss Feng has such a big arrogance. Could it be that even I as the Shizifei can’t even listen?”
“Of course not.” Feng Qian did not want to make enemies at this critical moment. She stepped back and said, “Shizifei is the mistress of the inner courtyard. Naturally, you can listen. I’m just afraid that such a thing will dirty Shizifei’s ears.”
Lu Yufei ran out of patience, and asked impatiently, “What’s the matter do you have?”
Feng Qian slowly raised her head, her bright red lips closed together under the light. They were as red as blood, which was shocking.
“Shizi, Shizifei, Tang Shishi is pregnant.”
After Feng Qian finished speaking, the light in the corner of the room crackled with a pop, the candlelight flicked violently, and Lu Yufei’s hands shook as well.
After a while, Lu Yufei’s voice was so tense that her voice somewhat altered, “Are you sure?”
“It’s about a woman’s honor. How dare I make a joke about this kind of thing.” Feng Qian smiled lightly and said, “It’s true or false, Shizi will know after taking a look with me.”
Feng Qian only said “Shizi” in her words, and Zhao Zixun became more certain that she came for herself.
As for why Zhao Zixun could probably guess that women’s minds were always like this so delicate and tit-for-tat, especially two beautiful beauties. Tang Shishi was pregnant before she got married. Naturally, this kind of scandal should be stabbed in front of a man.
Now that Zhao Chengjun was away, this candidate has become Zhao Zixun. Zhao Zixun was a little confused, he could not tell what his mood was like. Tang Shishi was pregnant? Whose was it?
He was surprised and flabbergasted with a mix of hidden anger. Zhao Zixun stood up with a calm face and said coldly, “If you dare to lie, this Shizi will never forgive you. Come, go to Jianjia courtyard.”
Only during this time of the day was the most comfortable. Tang Shishi leaned against the window to embroider, and it was already dark after embroidering a few stitches. Dujuan snatched the embroidered loop to prevent Tang Shishi from consuming more energy.
Tang Shishi was really tired of doing anything during this time, so she just let Dujuan take it away. She was bored. She could not help looking at the sky and counting the days silently.
More than half of the seventh month has passed, and Zhao Chengjun has been away from the mansion for two and a half months. Naturally, the child in her belly was two and a half months old.
Tang Shishi stopped thinking about this every time she thought about it and refused to think more about it. She dared not think about whether the child would go or stay, nor what to do next. She was like a ridiculous ostrich, as long as she covered her eyes and did not look or think about it, misfortune would not come.
When Tang Shishi was looking at the stars, she accidentally caught a bright light outside. Before Tang Shishi could figure out where the light came from, the burst of light stopped in front of the Jianjia courtyard, and the gate was pushed aggressively.
Zhao Zixun stood at the forefront, followed by Lu Yufei and Feng Qian. Tang Shishi’s heart sank suddenly.
She already knew what would happen next. Tang Shishi was sitting on the embroidered stool, her hands and feet were cold for a moment and her consciousness was chaotic as if she had lost control of her body.
Tang Shishi could not hide her disappointment in her heart. When this feeling appeared, Tang Shishi knew that she was looking forward to it. Who did she think would be the first person to come?
The maids in the Jianjia courtyard were startled. Dujuan hurriedly ran to the door and said, “Pay respect to Shizi and Shizifei. Shizi, why are you here at night?”
Zhao Zixun’s party was not small, and more and more people were alarmed by the fire. Some people were curious and secretly opened the door to check. Zhao Zixun ignored everyone’s inquisitive gaze and made people surround the Jianjia courtyard.
Dujuan knew the inside story and was frightened by the scene in front of her, “Shizi, what do you mean by this?”
Zhao Zixun did not intend to acknowledge Dujuan at all. He asked with a cold face, “Where is Tang Shishi?”
“Miss is not feeling well, she has just fallen asleep…
Zhao Zixun sneered when he heard it, “There is still light in the room, is she already asleep? Is she really not feeling well, or is there a guilty conscience?”
Dujuan’s face was pale, and saluted, “Shizi, have you misunderstood something…”
“Dujuan.” A soft voice came from the inner part of the courtyard. Tang Shishi’s voice was not loud, but everyone in the courtyard immediately focused on her.
Tang Shishi draped over a light blue cloak without any face powder. She wore her hair in a bun that was hanging low. She looked as light as hibiscus after the rain and as white as the plum in the snow. It turned out that Tang Shishi was really fair. Since she did not go out for a long time during this period, her face was as clear as porcelain and glow slightly in the night.
Tang Shishi had disappeared for two months, and many people almost forgot the radiance of the first-rate beauty who was crowned by the capital. Now that Tang Shishi appeared again, her beautiful figure was lessened, and her expression was colder. Her sickly appearance did not compromise her beauty at all, instead added even more temptation.
She used to be like an overbearing rose and a magnificent peony. The beauty was indeed beautiful and was awe-inspiring to look at. However, now that the rose branches were broken, and the peony was beaten by frost which made people have the urge to pick it.
Tang Shishi looked at the people in the courtyard, without the slightest nervousness or timidity, and calmly let them look at her. She gathered her cloak in her fingers, and gently said to the maids, “Dujuan, step back. Shizi is the master of the mansion. As long as Shizi is willing, he will come whenever he wants to come, and go where he wants to go.”
Tang Shishi’s words were concealed with irony. Zhao Zixun looked at Tang Shishi carefully as if he had not heard it. She was pale with slender shoulders and neck, but he could not see her waist because of her wide clothes. However, with the corners of her clothes fluttering gently in the evening breeze, he could guess that her waist should be extremely slender.
If it was not for someone who reported it, it would be hard to tell that she was pregnant. She even looked a little sick now, a little too pale.
Zhao Zixun walked slowly into the courtyard. The dimly lit yellow lantern reflected on his face, sometimes bright and sometimes dark which was unable to discern any happiness or anger in him, “I heard that you are not in good health these few days, and you haven’t been well after so long. Could it be that your servants are negligent?”
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes slightly, and said, “The maids are serving very well. It was me that is disappointing, and I always fail to get better. Shizi stirs up so many people at night just to blame my maids?”
Zhao Zixun sneered, “Oh? Then your maid is really a loyal servant. On the fifth day of the fifth month, Dujuan took a man in and out of the west corner gate and sent him away after a quarter of an hour. Tang Shishi, do you know this?”
Dujuan immediately knelt down. She was about to confess her guilt, but Tang Shishi had already calmly replied to him, “I know.”
“You know, that means, you have seen this person?”
Tang Shishi paused for a moment, then responded, “Yes.”
“Miss!” Dujuan looked at Tang Shishi nervously, her eyes full of obstruction. Lu Yufei showed a look of surprise. She covered her lips and said strangely, “You brought an outside male into the mansion and meet in private. Miss Tang, this kind of thing is not something a good family’s daughter would do.”
During this time, Tang Shishi’s mood fluctuated greatly. She was already in a bad mood, after hearing Lu Yufei’s words, she laughed and said directly, “My rules are all taught by Feng Momo. If Shizifei thinks Feng Momo did not teach well, or Empress Dowager is not a good family. Then I will write a letter to the capital and let Shizifei talk to Empress Dowager.”
Lu Yu was blocked by her words and her face suddenly turned black. Imperial Court background was a universal block that could be moved wherever or anywhere needed, loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, righteousness, rules, and morality. All of these could crush one to death. When this happened, even Lu Yu could not even refute it. Did she dare to say that Empress Dowager is not?
Obviously could not. Even Zhao Zixun could only avoid subjects related to Empress Dowager. Zhao Zixun could not investigate further, so he could only let that maid let go. Instead, he said, “I sent someone to investigate. That man was a wanderer traveling doctor, who took over a big transaction some time ago. Tang Shishi, are you that mysterious customer?”
“It’s me.” Tang Shishi has been holding her breath for a long time. Now when she saw the people from the Zhao family, she was so angry that she did not hesitate to spread the fire, “Shizi also said that I haven’t been well for a long time. I’m in a hurry to seek medical treatment. I invited the doctor from outside to come in and have a look. Is it against the law?”
Zhao Zixun frowned, “Presumptuous. You brought an outside man into the mansion privately. You not only don’t admit your mistake but also dare to talk to me in this tone?”
Tang Shishi immediately scolded, “Yes, I don’t know the etiquette and don’t understand the rules. Shizi is the most honorable. So Shizi’s etiquette is to break into the woman’s boudoir with a bunch of people late at night, pushing aggressively step by step?”
Zhao Zixun’s jaw tightened, and his lips pressed tightly. Lu Yufei was both surprised and angry, and reprimanded, “Tang Shishi, don’t be insolent. It’s Shizi’s kindness to give you a chance to justify. Otherwise, it’s time to drag you to drown in the pig cage.”
Zhao Zixun’s face changed slightly and gave Lu Yufei a displeased look. Zhao Zixun did not even think about drowning in the pig cages, submerged in ponds, or whatsoever at all. However, Lu Yufei who was also a woman said it out loud impatiently.
It was really embarrassing for a dignified Shizifei to say such a thing.
Tang Shishi’s complexion seemed to be even paler. Even though it was midsummer in the seventh month, she was wearing a cloak and standing under the light as if she could be tossed by the wind at any time. Zhao Zixun was a little bit intolerant and coldly reprimanded Lu Yufei, “Absurd, is this what you should say? It’s not your turn to interrupt when I as Shizi is handling affairs.”
Lu Yufei was shocked. What she said just now was indeed inappropriate, but it was reasonable. If an unmarried woman did not abide by women’s morality, should not she be drowned in a pig cage? How could Zhao Zixun berate her in front of so many people?
Lu Yufei felt very wronged and ashamed. However, when Zhao Zixun had spoken, she did not dare not listen. She could only salute with flattening lips, “I lost my composure. Shizi, please quell your anger.”
Liu Ji heard that Zhao Zixun had led people to surround the Jianjia courtyard. He had already rested, and quickly got up again and hurried to the inner courtyard. As soon as Liu Ji entered the courtyard gate, he heard Lu Yufei plead guilty by grievances, Zhao Zixun’s face was cold, Tang Shishi lowered her head down in a distance, and the maids knelt on the ground. Liu Ji knew something was wrong, so he did not move his expression and asked, “Oh, what’s the matter? Why is Shizi so angry?”
Seeing that it was Liu Ji, Zhao Zixun’s expression became somewhat restrained, “Liu Gonggong. Just some trivial matters, no need to trouble Gonggong. Liu Gonggong always goes to bed early, why haven’t you rested today?”
Liu Ji said in his heart that was not it because of these trivial matters. Liu Ji smiled kindly, and said, “I heard that something was going on with Shizi and this old slave was worried, so I rushed over to take a look. Shizi, why are you here since it’s already so late?”
Zhao Zixun glanced at Tang Shishi lightly, and said, “Naturally it’s for the safety of the mansion. On the fifth day of the fifth month, Tang Shishi secretly brought a quack doctor into the mansion. I would like to know what she invited the doctor to do.”
Liu Ji was startled. Did Tang Shishi invite a doctor? He had people staring at the Jianjia courtyard all day. Why did he not know about it?
However, now was not the time to worry about this, Liu Ji suppressed the question. He smiled, and said evidently, “It turns out to be this matter. Shizi doesn’t know it, this doctor was invited by me.”
Zhao Zixun raised his eyebrows, it was Liu Ji who invited the doctor? No one would believe this deceit that Liu Ji did not use the perfectly good imperial physicians who were nearby but look for one from far away. Why did he need to spend so much trouble to find a doctor outside the mansion? Everyone present understood that Liu Ji was taking the blame for Tang Shishi. This matter was out of the question for Tang Shishi, but it was nothing for Liu Ji.
Zhao Zixun obviously knew it, but he was unable to do anything with Liu Ji. Liu Ji was a person close to Zhao Chengjun who has been deeply rooted in the mansion for many years, and even Zhao Zixun could not easily shake him. Tang Shishi’s accusations were cleared by Liu Ji, but Zhao Zixun still did not relax, and said, “Since Miss Tang was worried about her body, then she should have another diagnose and treatment. Imperial Physician Song, check her pulse.”
Imperial Physician Song, who had been mixed among the crowd, walked out slowly. He hung his sleeves and saluted Zhao Zixun, “This humble servant follow your orders.”
Liu Ji was unsure what Zhao Zixun wanted to do. Moreover, Tang Shishi was so depressed during this period. Liu Ji did not dare to take care of her, so he could only watch and be anxious but unable to do anything. Now it was also a good thing to have the imperial physician diagnose and treat her again. Thus, Liu Ji put his hands in his sleeves and did not stop it.
As Imperial Physician Song came nearer, Tang Shishi’s body tensed and her hands also became cold, “I already have prescribed medicine and don’t need outsiders to check my pulse.”
“You believe in a quack doctor, but you don’t believe in Imperial Hospital?” Zhao Zixun scoffed coldly, and said, ” Imperial Physician Song is best at gynecology. He will never wrong you if he checks your pulse.”
Liu Ji frowned and vaguely felt that Zhao Zixun’s words were strange. Tang Shishi was very resistant, but no matter how hard she struggled, she was still restrained by the maids and her pulse was checked by Imperial Physician Song. Tang Shishi closed her eyes in despair and felt that her fate was completely derailed.
From that rainy day onwards, her life was forcibly pulled off the track, one accident after another. She wanted nothing more than to go back to the old days. She only has this wish, but she was not allowed to realize it.
Her life and death, her family, and her child in her womb were all like the fish on a chopping board, without any power to resist and to be judged by others.
Imperial Physician Song only checked for a while, and then withdrew his hand, “Miss Tang’s illness is so unusual that I dare not say it.”
Seeing the expression on the imperial physician, Zhao Zixun already had an answer in his heart. His complexion was so cold that he said sharply, “Say!”
“Yes.” Imperial Physician Song apparently sighed. He lowered his eyes, his voice was low and melancholy, “Miss Tang has chills entered her body and needs to recuperate. It’s fine if it’s under normal circumstances. However, Miss Tang is pregnant for forty days now which is at a fragile period. If you want to protect the fetus, you must deal with it carefully.”
After Imperial Physician Song’s words, the whole yard came to an abrupt end, as quiet as death. Tang Shishi was also dumbfounded. She was stunned for a moment and suddenly reacted, “What did you say forty days?”