It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 77 Leap
At noon, the cicadas’ sounds could be heard one after another, and the earth was as quiet and hot as a steamer. Lu Yufei tossed and turned in bed for a long time. She could not sleep, so she could only get up. Hearing Lu Yufei’s movement, the maid lifted the curtain and asked, “Shizifei, what’s the matter with you?”
Lu Yufei wore a loose green sweater that could see her skin through the tulle. She leaned on the arhat couch and kept fanning her fan, “The weather is too boring that I sweat all over and feel uncomfortable lying down.”
Upon seeing this, the maid hung up the bead curtain and came to fan Lu Yufei. Zhang Momo came in from the corridor. As soon as she walked in, she saw Lu Yufei awake, and said, “Why is Shizifei sitting outside? I thought Shizifei was already asleep.”
Lu Yufei said, “It’s too hot to sleep.”
Zhang Momo was Lu Yufei’s old wet nurse who watched Lu Yufei grow up when she was a child, and then followed Lu Yufei to marry into the mansion. She was very respected in the Yinian courtyard. Therefore, Zhang Momo did not pay much attention in front of Lu Yufei. She immediately said, “This year summer came late and the hot spell during the autumn is particularly strong. It’s only midday, and it will take a long time for the heat to dissipate. If Shizifei is bored, might as well ask the kitchen to bring some iced snacks. I remember the village gave a batch of grapes as tribute yesterday. I’ll ask the big kitchen to prepare it and send it to Shizifei?”
Lu Yufei thought that the afternoon was still long and could not pass the time without doing something. Now Lu Yufei is no longer in charge of the mansion. She has nothing to do except eat and drink all day.
Although Lu Yufei was Shizifei, iced dessert like this was an extra snack, and have to pay for it. Lu Yufei had plenty of money and did not mind about the money at all. She said, “On such a hot day, why trouble Momo to go out by yourself, just let the maids run an errand. Xiaoying, go to my dowry chest and get some silver coins and then make a trip to the big kitchen. You don’t have to save money for me. Whatever the big kitchen has, let them chop it into crushed ice and bring them back. The price and time are not a problem. If they make more, then we will share with the little maids when you come back.”
Xiaoying responded, went into the room to take the silver, and went out happily. Lu Yufei asked the maid to run errands but did not let Zhang Momo go. This was giving respect to Zhang Momo. Zhang Momo’s face brightened instantly. She moved a low stool, sat by Lu Yufei’s feet, and kept Lu Yufei company, “It’s rare that Shizifei with an honorable status, still have this compassionate heart. Shizifei never beat or scold these little maids, and even give them fruits to eat which is really the reincarnation of a good person. They can serve you is all due to their fate that cultivated from three generations ago.”
“This is nothing.” Lu Yufei was happy to listen to these words but said modestly, “I just give some small favors, treat people around me to eat fruits and drink tea and wine. I can’t do for those who are far away. Wangye and Shizi are the ones who show great kindness.”
Zhang Momo said, “You can’t say that. Shizifei is a female member of this mansion. How can you compare with Wangye and Shizi? Looking at the whole Xiping province, apart from Shizifei, which family madams can be as compassionate as Shizifei? They are either too soft-hearted, submissive without opinion, or they are obsessed with money which loses everyone’s tolerance. Only Shizifei, who have both grace and power, strength and softness, is the imperial style.”
These words reflected Lu Yufei’s heart. She has a poor relationship with her husband and was not loved by her husband. So, raising her identity has become her favorite thing to do. Lu Yufei waved her hand and said, “Momo flatter me too much. How can I be so good? Momo can’t say these things outside, let others listen as a joke.”
“What’s the joke? What I said is clearly the truth.” Zhang Momo said happily and talking non-stop, “Who doesn’t know that Shizifei is capable now? You don’t know how many people envy you in Xiping province. According to my understanding, it’s much better for master and madam to have a daughter like you than ten or eight sons. Now, aren’t all the dignity of the Lu family won by Shizifei?”
Lu Yufei and Zhang Momo were teasing each other and without realizing Xiaoying was back. Lu Yufei saw Xiaoying standing outside the door with a cowering appearance. She stopped talking and asked Xiaoying, “Why are you back? Where’s the crushed ice?”
Xiaoying said timidly, “The kitchen said they were busy and didn’t have time to pick up other jobs. They ask Shizifei to wait a bit longer.”
Lu Yufei frowned when she heard this, “It’s the most leisure time during noon. I don’t mind if they are busy during mealtimes but what are they busy with at this time?”
“It’s Miss Tang’s matter.” Xiaoying replied, “Miss Tang only ate a little at noon, and she is hungry now. The kitchen is busy cooking for Miss Tang.”
Tang Shishi was pregnant with the little master of the Jing Wang mansion and immediately soared in a day. However, her status was not confirmed, and the servants dared not call randomly, so they could only vaguely use Miss Tang for the time being.
Lu Yufei frowned when she heard it and Zhang Momo was speechless, “Noon meal was just finished, and have to start the fire again. It’s not that I’ve never seen a pregnant wife, but no one is as delicate as her. If she continues to toss like this, then how can the ordinary family make ends meet?”
Lu Yufei did not speak. Yes ah, women all over the world would get pregnant and it was rare for Tang Shishi to be so pretentious. However, Tang Shishi was not an ordinary woman, and the Jing Wang mansion was not an ordinary home.
Jing Wang allowed Tang Shishi to have her way and even gave the kitchen permission to supply Tang Shishi throughout the day. What could others say? Lu Yufei thought ruthlessly that she was really a villain who has gained power as if the mansion was going to be pregnant just like her and had gotten so pretentious. Lu Yufei wanted to see how long Jing Wang could endure her. Jing Wang hated troublesome people so much. She just needed to wait for Tang Shishi to overdo it and then see how she would end up.
Lu Yufei was extremely angry with Tang Shishi now. A few days ago, she called Madam Xi over to give Tang Shishi an abortion. Who would have thought that the child was Jing Wang? She immediately poked the tiger’s den. Madam Xi was disgraced, and Lu Yufei was deprived of the right to be the housekeeper. Lu Yufei did not dare to resent Jing Wang, so she kept scolding Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi, this scheming prostitute, must have done it on purpose. Tang Shishi clearly knew that she was pregnant with Jing Wang’s heir, but deliberately did not say it and lured Lu Yufei into a trap that caused her to be seized by Jing Wang. Lu Yufei often got angry until her tooth itched whenever she thought about that day but who made Tang Shishi pregnant with Jing Wang’s only heir. Feng Qian and Imperial Physician Song were beaten to death and Shizi was detained just because he pleaded. All those related to Feng Qian and Imperial Physician Song were cleaned up. Nowadays, from top to bottom of the mansion, who else would dare to offend Tang Shishi?
Zhang Momo looked around, sent Xiaoying away, and moved closer to talk to Lu Yufei, “Shizifei, now that person is as high as the sun, and maybe said noble. Some time ago, you accidentally offended her. What is Shizifei going to do after that?”
Lu Yufei sneered and said with disdain, “Momo, do you really think she is the one who is being supplied? No, everyone is supplying for the baby in her belly. Men like dignified and generous women. Tang Shishi, who borrowed her son to climb up, would not be valued by Jing Wang. Jing Wang was holding her now just for the sake of the child in her belly. After the child is born, does she think she is still important?”
Zhang Momo wanted to say something but hesitated, and her expression was complicated. From the perspective of a woman, Lu Yufei swore that Tang Shishi would not last long, but the problem was that it was often this kind of work that led to a good life. In other words, she dared to do it because she was favored.
Based on Zhang Momo’s years of experience, Jing Wang’s tolerance toward Tang Shishi was not just for the sake of the child. Zhang Momo paused and said, “But Jing Wang said a few days ago that he would make that one Wangfei. If she conferred a title, then she will be your legitimate mother-in-law. Shizifei, why not take advantage of fewer people now to curry favor with her?”
Lu Yufei was polite to Tang Shishi before, but with Xi Yunchu’s involvement, the situation between Lu Yufei and Tang Shishi became increasingly delicate. After the abortion incident some time ago, the two of them were completely torn apart.
Not long ago, Lu Yufei said that she should be submerged in the pond in front of Tang Shishi. In a blink of an eye, she went to Tang Shishi to become meek and subservient. Who could accept this disparity? Lu Yufei has not seen Tang Shishi these days. First, Jing Wang was strict and did not allow any unconcerned person to disturb Tang Shishi nursing her baby, and second, she could not pass the hurdle in her heart.
Lu Yufei was dissatisfied and said stubbornly, “Who said she was Wangfei? Wangye was just coaxing her to play. Besides, even if Wangye was really confused and intends to make her Wangfei, the imperial court hasn’t agreed yet. Wangye is muddle-headed, but the imperial court is not. How could it be possible for the imperial family to establish a woman who had lost her virginity before marriage and came from a merchant family as Wangfei?”
Zhang Momo was taken aback, and hurriedly covered Lu Yufei’s mouth, “Shizifei, be careful! Wangye has already dealt with a lot of people, and now this kind of remark is unspeakable.”
Zhang Momo was so scared that she was sweating. She quickly raised her head and saw that no one heard it, so she sighed with relief. Lu Yufei also knew that she had made a mistake, and a layer of cold sweat exuded from her palm.
Zhao Chengjun strictly forbade everyone to criticize Tang Shishi. As long as it was gossiping about Tang Shishi, whether it was the person who spoke or the person who listened, all would be punished with thirty canes and sold to the brothel.
Fortunately, there was no one just now. If someone really heard Lu Yufei say that Tang Shishi had lost her virginity before marriage, and when it was passed to Jing Wang’s ears, Lu Yufei would have to be sent to the ancestral shrine at once. Zhang Momo was silent for a while, and it was rare for her to say a few truthful words, “Shizifei, you grew up on my milk, and I’ll risk my life and said few heartfelt words to you. Regardless of whether Wangye treats that one sincerely or insincerely, whether the imperial court will agree to confer her a title or not, she is Wangye’s person. No matter how bad her life is, it’s not the turn of the younger generation to insult her. You and Shizi are both children. Seeing that she is naturally weak, let alone she is pregnant and even if she is just an unfavored, nameless concubine, you, as a daughter-in-law, how can you still be arrogant when you see Wangye’s concubine? Shizifei, if you can’t get along with her it means you can’t get along with yourself. Why should you? Don’t worry about what the imperial court said, take advantage before the decree arrives, you quickly go and admit that you’re wrong to that one. Didn’t you injure her fox some time ago? This is a good excuse. You admit your mistake with her under the pretext of the fox and admit defeat. Then, this matter will be over.”
Lu Yufei tightened her lips and still refused to speak. Zhang Momo knew that Lu Yufei was proud and arrogant and could not be persuaded overnight. She did not continue to annoy her, but changed her tone and asked livelily, “Where’s Xiaoying? The kitchen made meals for Miss Tang just now. It’s been a long time and should be finished. Let Xiaoying go to the kitchen to ask again. I really have some craving now.”
Zhang Momo said these words intending to ease Lu Yufei’s heart. As a result, after waiting for a while, Xiaoying came back and said, “The grapes are gone. Miss Tang vomited as soon as she ate it, but the maids couldn’t persuade her. After reporting to Wangye, Wangye personally came back to eat with the young lady. Miss Tang ate a grape which is rare to have the appetite, so Wangye asked someone to take all the grapes away.”
Lu Yufei’s face sank as soon as she heard it. Zhang Momo touched her nose, feeling dejected and also embarrassed. Lu Yufei was very flustered and when she saw that there was no one in the room, she blurted out swear words, “She can’t stand eating by herself, so Wangye must come back to accompany her. Then she eats five or six times a day and calls Wangye every time, can Wangye still do anything? Pretentious, I’ll see how long Wangye can stand her.”
Zhang Momo hurriedly calmed Lu Yufei, “Shizifei calms down. The autumn is dry. Be careful of getting too much heat.”
The more Lu Yufei thought about it, the angrier she became. If Xi Yunchu or other wealthy noble young ladies were the Wangfei, Lu Yufei could accept it, but she could not endure being trampled by someone who was not as good as her. Lu Yufei sneered, “I don’t believe that everyone in this world is blind. She is not worthy if she wants to be my mother-in-law. I’ll say it here that she can be a side concubine at most. If a person like her can be a Wangfei, then I’d better not be the Shizifei. I’ll go to Wangye to request for divorce immediately.”
Zhang Momo also agreed with what she said, “Shizifei, you are a noble person, so you can’t say things like ‘divorce’ at all. If you are gone, who else can the huge mansion depend on? I also felt that that one does not have a good appearance. When an ordinary family chooses their daughter-in-law, they don’t want the appearance of a fox spirit. How can she really climb up to the dignified imperial family? She’s only been rampant for two days. Please bear with her for now.”
As the two of them were talking, a little maid rushed in from the outside courtyard. Seeing this, Zhang Momo immediately scolded, “Didn’t you see Shizifei inside? What are you running for?”
The maid greeted and said quickly, “Shizifei, there’s something urgent! There are people from the Imperial Palace.”
“What?” Lu Yufei suddenly stood up and asked, “Who is it? It’s not a new year or a festival. Why did the Imperial Palace send people here for?”
“Come to give Miss Tang the crown clothing of Wangfei and the imperial family’s book of records.” said the little maid. “It was delivered by the person next to Empress Dowager herself. The fanfare is very majestic, and now the whole city is talking about it.”
After Lu Yufei changed her clothes, she hurried to the main courtyard. At the moment, the main courtyard was full of people, including servants from the mansion, and also eunuchs dress in imperial palace clothing.
Lu Yufei saw Tongxiu in front of the door, walked quickly over, and asked, “Tongxiu Gugu, are Wangye and imperial palace envoy inside?”
Seeing Lu Yufei, Tongxiu nodded faintly, “Shizifei, Wangye is talking to the official of the Ministry of Rites. Feng Momo misses Wangfei and went to the back to find Wangfei.”
Lu Yufei thanked her and rushed to Jianjia courtyard. She walked on the road quickly, still very puzzled.
Jing Wang turned out to be not joking at all. He actually wrote a memorial to request conferment for Tang Shishi to be his Wangfei. These two people were really fantastic, one dared to say, and the other dared to respond. What was more terrifying was that the Imperial Court also agreed.
Was Lu Yufei crazy, or was the world crazy?
Lu Yufei rushed to the Jianjia courtyard. When she entered the door, she was severely shocked. The small Jianjia courtyard was almost full of rewards and the maids had to carefully pick the places where the chests were not present when sending water to the room.
Lu Yufei felt that this world was getting crazier.
In the room, a maid reported to Tang Shishi, “Wangfei, Shizifei is here.”
Feng Momo arrived in Jing Wang’s fiefdom for the second time. Although there was no beauty in this trip, she had the imperial marriage decree and the conferment edict. Even though the marriage was by convention, the marriage could only be truly recognized after passing the procedure by the feudal officials. Since Tang Shishi received the title from the imperial court, even if the wedding ceremony has not been held, she was the real Jing Wangfei.
The servants finally had a unified caliber, unanimously changed their mouths to call Tang Shishi “Jing Wangfei”.
Tang Shishi was used to being called a young lady, but now she suddenly changed to “Wangfei”. She needed time to react before she realized someone was calling her. Tang Shishi nodded lightly and said, “Please invite Shizifei to come in.”
Lu Yufei was led in by the maid. Tang Shishi initially wanted to stand up to greet her. When she was about to get up, she suddenly remembered that she was Wangfei now and only have Lu Yufei saluted to her. She did not have to stand up to meet anyone. So, Tang Shishi paused slightly and leaned back on the pillow quietly.
It seemed that what she has to get used to was not only the title but also the change in identity and status.
After Lu Yufei came in, she was quietly pulled down by the maid, and only then did she realize that she has to salute Tang Shishi. Lu Yufei stumbled and saluted with an extremely awkward look.
Tang Shishi finally felt the benefits of getting married. It seemed that Zhao Chengjun was not entirely undesirable. At least marrying him, she was able to leap in class and generation overnight. Before, she could not even see Lu Yufei groveling at her.
Tang Shishi pursed her lips and smiled, ignoring Lu Yufei’s embarrassed expression, and said with a smile, “It’s Shizifei. Get up.”