It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 72 Wangfei
Zhao Chengjun rode his horse straight to the second gate. He threw the reins to his men and strode non-stop to the rear court, “How is she?”
Liu Ji received a letter from Wangye who was coming back early this morning. Liu Ji did not dare to be careless, so he hurried to the gate to meet Zhao Chengjun. Shizi and Shizifei had already gone to Jianjia courtyard, Liu Ji jogged after Zhao Chengjun, while hurriedly recounting the affairs of the mansion, “Wangye, Miss Tang is pregnant.”
Although Zhao Chengjun had made full mental preparations earlier, his whole body was stiff for a split second, and was stunned on the spot, “What?”
Liu Ji caught up breathlessly and said, “It’s true. Miss Tang secretly called a traveling doctor herself and later, Shizi called the imperial physician, who also diagnosed a happy pulse. I have people to make some inquiries and found that Miss Tang’s menstruation has stopped. In the past few months, she has been in a state of sudden happiness and sadness and her emotions seem very wrong. There should be no doubt that she is pregnant.”
Zhao Chengjun did not know how long he had been stunned. After he regained his senses, he did not know whether he was surprised or angry. He said sharply, “Why didn’t you say such an important thing in the letter?”
“I’m afraid the secret letter will be intercepted, so I don’t dare to say it in detail.” Liu Ji did not dare to waste time and said in a hurry, “Wangye, Shizi and Shizifei have already gone to Jianjia courtyard. Today, Madam Xi and Second Miss Xi are also there. I’m afraid something will happen. You quickly go and have a look.”
Zhao Chengjun was so angry that he simply did not have time to pursue Liu Ji’s concealment and rushed to the Jianjia courtyard.
When Zhao Chengjun received the letter in Suzhou, he already knew that something was wrong. Liu Ji was not a hasty person. If Liu Ji wrote a letter to him which meant something big must have happened. When Zhao Chengjun opened the envelope and saw the four words “Something happen to Jianjia” on it, and he felt a heavy thump in his heart.
Jianjia courtyard was the courtyard of Tang Shishi. Liu Ji was worried about leaking the secrets, so he did not write too much detail in it. However, these four words alone were enough to make Zhao Chengjun chaotic.
In fact, Zhao Chengjun had chosen two Wangfei before. His first betrothed wife was the eldest daughter of the Xi family. She was graceful and gentle, and read poetry. She had always been healthy, but she suddenly died of a foul disease before marriage. After his betrothed wife’s funeral, Zhao Chengjun was persuaded by his subordinates to betroth to Li Xiayue, the eldest granddaughter of General Li. However, coincidentally, Li Xiayue also had an accident before her marriage and died after falling off a horse.
A young lady from a military general’s family unexpectedly died from the falling of a horse. Henceforth, Zhao Chengjun’s heart to get married had ceased. Empress Dowager Yao would not let him marry a young lady from a family that could provide assistance to him, and Zhao Chengjun did not want to marry Empress Dowager Yao’s obedient person just to gross himself out. He would only drag the woman’s life in vain if he married anyone before he settled his grudges with Empress Dowager Yao.
Zhao Chengjun also had no obsession with getting married and having children. That being the case, he completely broke off his deep affection for a woman, and wholeheartedly focused on expanding his power. Over the years, he had never paid attention to beautiful things, and marrying Tang Shishi was the only unusual idea he had come up with.
It was a crazy fantasy, but once it took root, it quickly grew into a towering tree that could not be eradicated. It was a pity that he has a deep affection for her but the other has no intention. Tang Shishi’s heart cared about her former betrothed, and later she shifted her affection to Zhao Zixun. Zhao Chengjun would never force a woman. He had already given up this idea before leaving the mansion.
However, despite everything, when he was about to set off, Tang Shishi braved the rain to run back from the countryside and recklessly pushed open the gate of his study room. Then, something like that happened again, Zhao Chengjun indulged his greed and determined to be a “villain” to help himself.
However, the military affairs of Suzhou were still waiting for him. Zhao Chengjun could not delay, so he could only give a few words in a hurry and immediately rush to Suzhou with his people. Zhao Chengjun originally wanted to hide Tang Shishi, which was both for protection and concealment. As long as Tang Shishi was obedient, the outsiders would not be aware of his thoughts. After Zhao Chengjun returned to the mansion, he could plan for the next things calmly.
However, Zhao Chengjun unexpectedly received a secret letter from Liu Ji one evening.
The people from the Imperial Palace have killed two chosen Wangfei in a row. Zhao Chengjun really dared not gamble. He immediately left his official duties and returned to the Xiping province with his elite. He rushed back all the way to the mansion in the heavy rain. Zhao Chengjun thought he had made the worst preparations, but he did not expect that things in the world were far more joking than he thought.
Tang Shishi was actually pregnant.
Did he become a father without realizing it?
Zhao Chengjun could not tell how his heart felt like. At this moment, his only thought was to see Tang Shishi. Zhao Chengjun walked strode through the mansion and asked Liu Ji without looking back, “What else happened besides pregnancy?”
Based on Zhao Chengjun’s understanding of Tang Shishi, if she knew she was pregnant, she could never stay obedient.
Liu Ji sighed slightly, summarized the events of this period at a high level, and quickly relayed it to Zhao Chengjun.
For example, Tang Shishi concealed her pregnancy and refused to admit the child’s father after being discovered by Shizi, and also flatly denied that it was Zhao Chengjun.
Of course, Liu Ji did not forget to mention one sentence, “However, Imperial Physician Song said that Miss Tang was pregnant for forty days… it should be fifty days from now. Shizi was very angry and mistakenly thought that Miss Tang had an affair with an outsider. I asked Miss Tang quietly whether the child’s father is Wangye, and Miss Tang denied it firmly.”
When Zhao Chengjun heard this, he was anxious and angry. These two bastards, Zhao Zixun was stupid, and Tang Shishi also did not hesitate to let them down. Who else could it be if it was not him?
Liu Ji secretly glanced at Zhao Chengjun and saw that Wangye was very angry. He was quite certain in his heart that the child belonged to Wangye since he was so angry.
Zhao Chengjun endured his anger and said coldly, “Detained all the people involved during this period, including the imperial physician who diagnosed the pulse, and waits for the punishment.”
When Zhao Chengjun reached Jianjia courtyard, Zhao Zixun’s trusted aides were guarding outside. These people were very powerful in the mansion, but when they saw Zhao Chengjun, they were so well-behaved that they did not dare to say a word.
Zhao Chengjun broke through the door. His heart sank heavily again when he saw the scene inside.
He recognized the maids beside Tang Shishi. At the moment, those maids were restrained by young manservants and old women, and their mouths were still firmly covered. When the eldest maid saw Zhao Chengjun, her eyes suddenly sparkled. She broke free from the restraints with brute force and stumbled to the ground, “Wangye, you are finally back!”
Zhao Chengjun’s heart also sank immediately afterward. It seemed that Tang Shishi’s life was worse than he had imagined during this period.
Dujuan’s voice startled everyone inside the room. The old woman who was getting closer to Tang Shishi slowed down, and Madam Xi showed an expression of surprise and a guilty conscience. Without wasting any time, Zhao Zixun turned around and walked towards the door.
When he had just reached the doorway, the door was pushed open from the outside. Zhao Chengjun appeared outside the door in black armor. He had a stern appearance with a cold face and murderous aura.
Zhao Zixun was shocked intensely. He immediately bowed his head and saluted Zhao Chengjun, “Pay respect to father. I don’t know my father has returned. Please forgive me for not going out to meet you.”
Several other people in the room also woke up like a dream one after another, and hurriedly stepped forward to salute Zhao Chengjun, “Pay respect to Wangye.”
The words “pay respect” came from all directions but Zhao Chengjun ignored all the kneeling people. He raised his eyes and looked directly at the innermost of the room.
Tang Shishi was standing inside with her hand still holding a vase and stared with wide eyes as if she was shocked. Zhao Chengjun had made preparations just now, but by the time he really saw her, he still could not control himself from feeling distressed for a moment.
She has lost so much weight in just these three months. Obviously, she was pregnant, but she did not appear to have any shred of roundness, instead, she was pale and thin. That pointed little face made him feel distressed.
Zhao Chengjun stepped closer to the inner room and wanted to get nearer to Tang Shishi, but he was afraid of frightening her. So, he tried his best to move gently, “Tang Shishi, it’s me. Put the things down.”
Tang Shishi stared at Zhao Chengjun without moving her eyes. She thought she had an illusion. She did not believe it was true until Zhao Chengjun took the things away from her hand and burst into tears.
After Zhao Chengjun took away the vase, he immediately threw it away in a distance. The vase fell on the ground with a crashing sound, nevertheless broke into pieces. Zhao Chengjun did not care about that vase at all as he was more worried about Tang Shishi. Her wrist was so thin that it seemed to break in a single snap. Zhao Chengjun was trembling with fear when he saw her on the verge of collapsing while holding the vase.
Zhao Chengjun was caught off guard as Tang Shishi suddenly burst into tears. He stiffened for a while, then gently hugged Tang Shishi into his arms by avoiding the hard part of the armor on his body.
“I’m back. It’s all right.” Tang Shishi cried until she was trembling all over. Zhao Chengjun felt her thin and frail shoulders, and his heart seemed to be crumpled and torn bit by bit, “Sorry. I’m late.”
Tang Shishi tugged Zhao Chengjun’s clothes in her hand and cried until she was out of breath. She cried out all her grievances and fears during this period. Zhao Chengjun let her cry and waited as long as she cried, and he did not mind if his clothes were wet.
Zhao Chengjun stood aside with Tang Shishi, while the others watched from behind, staring at each other with an embarrassed expression. Lu Yufei stood restlessly, Madam Xi’s face was gloomy, Xi Yunchu was so angry that she tore her handkerchief while Zhao Zixun pursed his mouth tightly and realized that he had made a grave mistake.
How could he not guess such an obvious thing? It was all blamed on Imperial Physician Song’s words, which directly biased Zhao Zixun’s thinking. However, there were no grievances and no hatred between Imperial Physician Song and Tang Shishi. Why did he want to lie?
Zhao Zixun had not yet figured it out clearly. Tang Shishi fainted directly because of her emotional excitement and from crying too much. Zhao Chengjun carried Tang Shishi, walked across the room, and carefully placed her on the bed.
When he did these things, he completely assumed that the remaining people did not exist. Madam Xi and several big living people stood here as if they were transparent. Madam Xi gradually could not withstand anymore, and took the initiative to say, “Jing Wang…”
“Madam, be quiet.” Zhao Chengjun gently adjusted the pillow for Tang Shishi, without turning his head, his voice was cold and indifferent, “She fell asleep. She needs her rest urgently at the moment. If Madam has anything to say, save it until we go out.”
Madam Xi has always received courteous reception in the Jing Wang mansion. This was the first time Zhao Chengjun has given her a cold face. Madam Xi’s complexion changed, and her eyes that looked at Tang Shishi became even more like a poisonous knife.
After Zhao Chengjun placed Tang Shishi down properly, he covered her with a quilt, arranged her hair, and then put down the curtain. Zhao Chengjun’s complexion looked very calm, but everyone in the room knew that this was the calm that was forcibly suppressed before the storm.
Zhao Chengjun said indifferently, “We will disturb her rest in the room. Let’s go to the side room.”
Zhao Zixun almost blurted out his explanation. Hearing Zhao Chengjun’s words, he swallowed back and followed to the side room in silence.
Liu Ji immediately stepped forward to clean up the side room, but Zhao Chengjun raised his hand, “No need, it won’t take long. Go and bring the imperial physician who diagnosed her pulse.”
Liu Ji bowed and responded, “This servant obeys.”
Madam Xi finally found the opportunity and said first, “Wangye, I did not know that you are coming back today. Since you came back in a hurry, you don’t understand many things and maybe there was a misunderstanding. I do this today is to verify and uphold the integrity of the imperial family.”
“I don’t need an outsider to uphold the integrity of the Jing Wang mansion.” Zhao Chengjun’s tone was neither fast nor slow, his eyes were dark with the coercion of Mount Tai. “Madam can’t help but care too much and dare to put your hand on her?”
The color on Xi Yunchu’s face suddenly faded. Madam Xi was ashamed and said in embarrassment, “Jing Wang, I’m doing this for your own good, but you are actually angry with me for the sake of a maid? The child in her belly is unclear. It’s mostly likely belonged to someone outside. Wangye might as well ask someone to come to do another diagnosis first, and then make arrangements after verifying the body.”
“There’s no need for another diagnosis.” Zhao Chengjun listened impatiently, and interrupted Madam Xi directly, “The imperial physician told a lie. She is innocent. The baby in her womb is mine.”
Madam Xi was shocked by these words. She could not believe it, and muttered, “But she is so beautiful, who knows if she’d hook up with others? Wangye, you don’t know how many months the child is. How dare…”
Zhao Chengjun had reached the end of his patience. He slapped hard on the table, and everyone was terrified. Zhao Chengjun endured his anger and said, “Madam Xi, I treat you as an elder and tolerate you everywhere, but it doesn’t mean that I am a softie who can be kneaded by others. She is the mother of my child. Why do I need to check her? On the contrary, it was you who brought the young lady of your family to intervene in my mansion affairs and still tried to harm my child. Shouldn’t you give me an explanation?”
Madam Xi and Xi Yunchu were scolded by Zhao Chengjun by name, and their faces immediately turned red. Madam Xi took a risk by saying, “Wangye, today’s matter is my wrong, but even if Wangye dotes on the concubine, you can’t confuse with the superiority of the legitimate wife. She is only a concubine no matter how much she is favored. Before Wangfei entered the mansion, she had already given birth to a concubine’s bloodline. What does this count as?”
The Yan dynasty paid attention to etiquette and established the country based on the patriarchal clan system. The eldest son of the legitimate wife was the foundation of the family. If a concubine’s son was born before the legitimate wife’s son, this was very rude behavior that not only would be scolded by other people but also affect the performance evaluation of the official career.
Even the imperial family could not ignore these rules. Madam Xi felt that her grievances were very reasonable. When she heard that Shizi jumped into the water to save a favored maid in front of the Lu family at that time, he was punished by Jing Wang with 30 rods. Now Jing Wang favored his concubine and neglected his wife and even contradicted his mother-in-law in front of the younger generation and mocked Xi Yunchu’s face. What did this call?
Jing Wang could not have a double standard.
Zhao Chengjun’s complexion was indifferent. He slowly tapped his fingers that were on the armrests, “Madam Xi said that superiority can’t be confused. I will write a memorial to the imperial court to request conferment of the title immediately. From now on, she will be Wangfei of the Jing Wang mansion.”
Xi Yunchu and Lu Yufei were stunned together. After the suffocating silence, Madam Xi asked incredulously, “Wangye, what are you talking about? Wangfei is obviously Sister Chu.”
“I thought that I had expressed my meaning very clearly.” Zhao Chengjun’s face remained unchanged and said the cruelest words indifferently, “I was only betrothed to Xi Yunwan. When did I say I would continue to marry the Xi family’s daughter? Madam Xi and Second Miss Xi repeatedly disrespected Wangfei and even attempted to harm my child. For the sake of the deceased eldest daughter, I will spare you once. If there is another time, you can go to the imperial clan’s mansion to explain.”
Zhao Chengjun said coldly while flicking his sleeves, “Someone, see the guests off.”
The few people in the side room could not respond to the situation at all. Zhao Chengjun’s trusted aides came over immediately to “escort” the Xi family’s mother and daughter out of the mansion regardless of whether Madam Xi could accept the reality or not. When they were pushed to the door, Zhao Chengjun’s voice came from behind, “Also, although I was once betrothed to the eldest daughter of the Xi family, it has passed after all. In the future to prevent Wangfei from being overwhelmed, I still ask Madam Xi and all the young ladies of the Xi family not to enter the gate of the Jing Wang mansion again.”