IBTBTED Chapter 78
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 78 Affection
“Thank you, Wangfei.” Lu Yufei stood up stiffly. Her face was not her face, her hands were not her hands, and her whole body was extremely awkward. Not long ago, she firmly said that if Tang Shishi confer the title Wangfei, she would request for divorce. Now, as soon as she finished saying that, Tang Shishi was conferred the title Wangfei.
There were so many rewards brought in which gave Tang Shishi ample dignity.
Lu Yufei was so embarrassed that her position as Shizifei was hard-won, and she would not request divorce herself. Fortunately, there were no outsiders when she spoke, no one knew about it except Zhang Momo. Lu Yufei pretended that she had never said it before, changed her clothes, and obediently rolled over to pay respect to Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi was extremely happy. She smiled kindly and said, “Shizifei is a rare guest. I have missed you for a long time. Shizifei, this is Feng Momo, the important person next to Empress Dowager. Feng Momo, this is Shizifei of our family who just entered the door last year. Momo, please give her some pointers in the future.”
Feng Momo naturally smiled and declined. She said polite greetings, but her sitting posture was firm without any intention of standing up to greet or give up her seat. In the eyes of Feng Momo, only Zhao Chengjun deserves her attention in the Jing Wang mansion, and now there was one more Tang Shishi. As for that adopted son, he was not considered a proper master at all, and his wife was even less important.
Feng Momo only glanced at Lu Yufei, then turned back and continued to talk to Tang Shishi, as if Lu Yufei did not exist at all. Feng Momo said, “Empress Dowager misses you very much but it’s a pity that Jinling is thousands of miles away from Jing Wang’s fiefdom. Empress Dowager can’t call you into the palace. She can only tell me to bring the imperial decree and precious treasures and come on behalf of her to see if you are doing well. Empress Dowager is incredibly happy that you and Jing Wang are happily married and has personally selected many treasures from the bottom of her chest to add dowries to you. When Emperor and Empress heard that His Highness and Wangfei are getting married, they also rewarded a lot of things which were all left outside.”
Lu Yufei’s eyes widened when she heard that Empress Dowager not only allowed Tang Shishi to be Wangfei but also personally bestow her dowry. If the high-ranking Imperial Court officials could get a reward from the imperial palace, then this was simply bringing honor to their ancestors and would be used to bless three generations at the entrance of the main hall. As a result, Tang Shishi received several chests of rewards at one time, including not only Empress Dowager but also from Emperor and Empress.
Tang Shishi, for what reason?
Lu Yufei felt indignant, the maids and older women were shocked and even Tang Shishi herself was quite flattered. She admitted that her heart was higher than the sky. When she was young, she vowed to marry the best husband and made the biggest limelight. However, Tang Shishi’s most extraordinary fantasy was nothing more than a big sedan carried by eight men and ten miles of dowries. She never thought that one day, the three most honorable people in the world, Empress Dowager, Emperor, and Empress would add dowries to her together.
Even the princess’s marriage was possibly not as good as this big extravagance. It was indeed earth-shaking for Tang Shishi, a commoner daughter who was neither family nor friend could get such a rare honor.
Tang Shishi said, “I can’t afford the rewards given by Empress Dowager. How can I possibly be favored by the three most honorable people, Empress Dowager, His Majesty, and Empress? I’m not worthy of these rewards, I don’t dare to accept it.”
Feng Momo held down Tang Shishi’s hand and said, “What is Wangfei saying? How can the rewards from Empress Dowager and His Majesty be taken back? The above reward shows that Wangfei has your own excellency. You can accept it with peace of mind.”
Of course, Tang Shishi would not be foolish enough to refuse the rewards sent to the door, but she always had to say something polite, “I’m no more than an ordinary madam. I’m not as literate as the high-ranking officials and can’t defend my country, but Empress Dowager treated me so generously. I was afraid that I would fail to live up to the imperial’s kindness.”
Lu Yufei had been hung dry at the side. When she found the opportunity, she quickly said, “Thank you for Emperor’s benevolence. Northwest is so far away from Jinling. Empress Dowager and His Majesty are still concerned about the meritorious officials of the border. With such an outstanding monarch, it’s no wonder that my father has been busy all day and night, must do everything himself and firmly guard the Northwest frontier.”
After Lu Yufei finished speaking, the room fell silent, and the people from the Imperial Palace and the mansion did not comment. Lu Yufei’s interruption was to show her talent originally, but she did not expect that no one answered after she finished speaking. Lu Yufei suddenly felt very embarrassed.
Tang Shishi had to say that Lu Yufei was really good at picking topics. The relationship between Empress Dowager and Jing Wang was so awkward that everyone tacitly talked about eating, drinking, playing, singing, and dancing, but did not mention political affairs. Lu Yufei had to say something out in the open.
Tang Shishi covered her mouth with a handkerchief, turned sideways, and coughed gently. When everyone saw Tang Shishi’s actions, they suddenly came to life. A room full of people rushed to Tang Shishi and asked with concern, “Wangfei, what’s the matter with you?”
“Suddenly I have little nausea.” Tang Shishi pressed her lips and said delicately and weakly, “It’s always like this in the end. It’s the old thing, it’s fine.”
This was the direction that Feng Momo was best at. She immediately became a chatterbox and said, “In the first few months, you have to suffer a bit more. Nausea and vomiting are normal. Just endure for some time. If Wangfei finds it difficult to bear, during normal times, eats more light food, eats less and more meals, and also separates dry and wet ones. You need to eat your meal first and wait for a while before drinking soup, porridge, or any kind of soups.”
Tang Shishi did not expect that there was so much to learn about morning sickness. She quickly glanced at Dujuan and said, “Dujuan, Momo teaches the secret recipe, why don’t you take note quickly.”
In hindsight, Dujuan responded with an “oh” and quickly found something to note down. Feng Momo said a lot of little tricks. Tang Shishi wrote them down one by one and said sincerely, “Momo knows so much.”
These words were not flattery. Tang Shishi really admired the ability to memorize from the people of the Imperial Palace. Probably if she stayed in the Imperial Palace for a longer period, she would automatically enlighten with these imperial palace skills. Even Zhao Chengjun knew many strange traditional remedies. Tang Shishi could not recognize the abortion medicines, but Zhao Chengjun could recognize them at a glance. She could not accept that she was not as capable.
Feng Momo smiled and said, “Wangfei is still young. You will understand when you conceive more babies and bring up more children.”
Everyone laughed and Tang Shishi lowered her head, showing just the right amount of shyness. After this interruption, the awkwardness just now was overturned.
Everyone was talking about precautions during pregnancy and the atmosphere in the room was harmonious and happy. Standing in the crowd, Lu Yufei felt out of place.
She was not pregnant and had no children. Lu Yufei did not understand what they said, and these people did not answer what Lu Yufei was interested in.
Lu Yufei was like an outsider, not only unable to participate in raising child talks but also her identity was vaguely excluded by this group of people.
She was Shizifei and the wife of Jing Wang’s adopted son. In the eyes of this group of Imperial Palace momos with eyes above the top, she was not considered an imperial family at all. Lu Yufei was hit hard after realizing this but Tang Shishi, who had been despised by Lu Yufei, sat in the crowd, surrounded by those Imperial Palace momos, talked, laughed, and behaved freely as if she was born to belong to this class.
After Feng Momo talked for a while, she looked at Tang Shishi properly and said with a smile, “I haven’t seen you for a year. Wangfei is more elegant than before. When you were in the Imperial Palace, Wangfei was also beautiful, but it was the beauty of the unpolished jade. Now, it is truly polished into a precious jade, shining from within with brilliance.”
Since Feng Momo and her group of people entered the door, their flattery was like free of money and praised Tang Shishi from all angles and directions until Tang Shishi was embarrassed by the praises. Tang Shishi promptly said, “Momo, don’t say anymore. If you keep praising like this, I’ll be ashamed and unable to show my face.”
Feng Momo smiled, pointed at the surrounding Imperial Palace maids, and said, “Wangfei, ask these people, am I deliberately exaggerating or telling the truth? They said that a precious horse deserves a good saddle and a beauty deserves a hero. You are originally a first-class beauty. Only after you enter Jing Wang’s mansion can you truly reveal the beauty of Wangfei.”
After listening to this, people on both sides responded one after another, some praised Tang Shishi’s beauty, some praised the ideal couple Wangye and Wangfei, and some praised a fated match of thousand miles marriage with a single string. There were endless all kinds of good words. When Lu Yufei heard these flattery words, she was both familiar and unfamiliar and her heart was extremely complicated for a while.
Familiarity was because every time Lu Yufei went out as a guest since she got married, those madams complimented her like this. Whereas the unfamiliarity was because now this person had changed to Tang Shishi.
Lu Yufei was in a daze when she listened to everyone’s response. After being flattered for a long time, Lu Yufei also took it seriously. She always thought that she was different and her family and friends praised her because she indeed was excellent and outstanding. She despised Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun, especially Tang Shishi. This kind of beautiful empty vase that was untalented and without virtues was destined to be trampled by Lu Yufei all her life.
However, Tang Shishi had transformed into a Wangfei now. This time it was Lu Yufei’s turn to stand on the ground and listen to everyone praising Tang Shishi graciously. Lu Yufei finally realized that previously, everyone was flattering her not because of how smart or capable she was but because she was just an ordinary woman. Actually, the one that everyone sought was clearly Jing Wang.
Once Lu Yufei was the only female family member of the Jing Wang mansion and outsiders who wanted to please Jing Wang could only flatter Lu Yufei. Now that Jing Wang had a legitimate Wangfei, those people naturally rushed to Tang Shishi’s side. After all, Lu Yufei was only the younger generation. It was Wangfei who could really sway through pillow talks and even could influence Jing Wang’s attitude.
Lu Yufei was shocked to feel the gap in identity for the first time. There was a sudden sound of running outside with a burst of footsteps approaching from far and then, there was a crisp collision of bead curtains at the doorway. Zhao Chengjun appeared behind the glazed bead curtain and asked, “What’s the matter? What are you talking about? Why are you so happy?”
“Jing Wang is here.” Everyone stood up one after another to salute. Tang Shishi also stood up along with Feng Momo to salute, “Wangye.”
As soon as Zhao Chengjun entered the room, his eyes immediately fell on Tang Shishi. He frowned slightly when he saw Tang Shishi’s movements.
During this period, he never let Tang Shishi salute and could not even wait to walk for Tang Shishi. How could he be willing to let Tang Shishi salute? Zhao Chengjun’s hand moved, but due to the presence of Empress Dowager’s people, he held back his movement and said indifferently, “Momo, no need to be polite. Please get up.”
Feng Momo stood up, and Tang Shishi who was on the side, also straighten up. After Feng Momo exchanged pleasantries, she said, “Your Highness, the officials of the Ministry of Rites are still outside. Why did you come back?”
Zhao Chengjun naturally came to see Tang Shishi. The official words of those people from the Ministry of Rites were virtually the same, but Tang Shishi was different. Tang Shishi had not been looking for him for an hour and a half, would she feel nauseous, depressed, sensitive, or suspicious? Moreover, since Empress Dowager’s people were here today, would she be bullied?
Zhao Chengjun could not sit still and threw the officials of the Minister of Rites to Zhao Zixun, and immediately came to the inner courtyard by himself. Zhao Chengjun looked at Tang Shishi calmly and saw that her complexion was ruddy with a calm expression. She did not look like she was wronged, and was even more energetic than when she was by Zhao Chengjun’s side.
Zhao Chengjun’s heart was complicated for a while, and he did not know whether he should be happy or disappointed.
Of course, the real reason cannot be said. Zhao Chengjun casually made up an excuse to deal with Feng Momo. Although he exchanged pleasantries with Feng Momo, his attention was all on Tang Shishi. Zhao Chengjun noticed that Tang Shishi had already stood for a cup of tea period.
Zhao Chengjun frowned secretly. Why did this old momo talk so much? The ground was so hard, and Tang Shishi had been standing all along. Would she be tired?
Feng Momo paused in the middle, and Zhao Chengjun looked solemnly, “Momo has worked hard on this journey. I’m very grateful for Momo’s kindness. Momo, please sit down quickly.”
Feng Momo did not expect that Jing Wang would treat her so politely. Feng Momo’s face brighten up and sat down happily. Zhao Chengjun sent a meaningful glance and Liu Ji understood. He promptly moved a soft stool to behind Tang Shishi and waited on Tang Shishi to take her seat.
Feng Momo kept on talking, “… thank you, Your Highness, Jing Wang. Just now, I was joking with Wangfei that Your Highness has made great military achievements for the nation and the people, and don’t know how many contributions he has made. The only shortcoming is that he doesn’t care about his life’s major events. Empress Dowager has been worried for a long time, so she specially bestows beauties to serve His Highness. Unexpectedly due to all the wrong reasons, marriage was achieved.”
Zhao Chengjun had been distracted as he was paying attention to the other side. When he saw that Tang Shishi sat down, he was secretly relieved. Hearing Feng Momo’s question, he recovered and smiled faintly, “Yes. I want to thank Empress Dowager for this.”
After Zhao Chengjun appeared, Tang Shishi took the back seat and quietly became a wallflower. Empress Dowager’s kindness and other words have been repeated several times by Feng Momo. Tang Shishi was not surprised, but she did not expect Zhao Chengjun to respond.
Tang Shishi was surprised and glanced at Zhao Chengjun quickly. Feng Momo also looked surprised. Zhao Chengjun would say thank you to Empress Dowager. Thus, the sun was really going to come out from the west.
Feng Momo swept her eyes over the self-controlled Zhao Chengjun, and then over the docile Tang Shishi as if she understood something. She smiled and deliberately said, “Your Highness is curious about what everyone was laughing at when you enter the door? In fact, we were talking about Wangfei. Your Highness, based on your opinion, is Wangfei beautiful now or when she first came to the fiefdom?”
Tang Shishi did not expect Feng Momo would bring up such words to Zhao Chengjun, and her face blushed. Tang Shishi was anxious and quickly said, “Momo, it’s nothing more than a joke. Why do you say this?”
Feng Momo smiled while looking at Zhao Chengjun, “Your Highness, what do you say?”
Zhao Chengjun smiled. His eyes moved slightly and fell on Tang Shishi. He actually looked at her seriously. Tang Shishi felt uneasy, glared at him secretly with a pair of apricot eyes, and scolded softly, “Wangye.”
She thought she was suppressing the threat by lowering her voice, but she did not realize it was really scary to growl like a little milk cat* with missing teeth.
(little milk cat* – refers to girlfriends that are coquettish and needs more company)
Zhao Chengjun held back his smile and said, “I can’t answer Momo’s question. If I say she looks good now, she will blame me for not caring about her before. If I say she used to look good, she will be so angry that she won’t eat. Anyway, it’s all my fault.”
Feng Momo laughed heartily after she heard his response. The Imperial Palace maids also covered their mouths to steal some laughs. Tang Shishi’s face sank and said angrily, “Where do I have?”
Zhao Chengjun nodded with a good disposition appearance and said, “Very well, you didn’t.”
The imperial palace people laughed even harder. Tang Shishi was angry for a long time and glared at Zhao Chengjun fiercely, she turned her head to not look at him. Upon seeing this, Feng Momo said, “Wangye and Wangfei have very deep affections. In this way, Empress Dowager can be at ease. Empress Dowager has a motherly heart and has been worried about the livelihood of Her Highness over the years for fear that His Highness will treat your body harshly. Fortunately, there is Wangfei to share Empress Dowager’s worries. From now on, I would also like to ask Wangfei to take good care of Jing Wang, take good care of your health, and give birth to a few more princes and princesses with His Highness. This is the greatest filial piety to Empress Dowager.”
After Feng Momo finished speaking, she could not help looking at Tang Shishi’s belly. Tang Shishi was flustered by the meaningful eyes of everyone, but Zhao Chengjun was quite at ease. He glanced at Tang Shishi, showed some smiling expression, and nodded, “Borrow Momo’s auspicious words, she will.”
Tang Shishi’s whole body was about to blow up. What did he mean by she would? What would she do? Did Zhao Chengjun think of having children was like planting radishes? He said it so easily.
Lu Yufei stood aside and felt a deep sense of outsideness. Jing Wang, Tang Shishi, and Feng Momo, as if they were the people of the same world, while Lu Yufei was just a drunk person who mistakenly entered their world. Lu Yufei thought that Tang Shishi had received so many rewards from the imperial palace and had a close relationship with Feng Momo which would be suspected by Jing Wang. In the end, Jing Wang had no grudges and still took good care of Tang Shishi. He said in front of everyone that there would be more children in the future.
What other proposition was more powerful than this statement? No amount of sweet talk, no amount of gold, silver, and jewels, could compare with the statement from one’s husband which was we would have more children in the future.
This showed that Jing Wang did not care at all whether the child in Tang Shishi’s belly was a son or a daughter. It was good to be a son, but it did not matter if it was not. They would have the next one.
Lu Yufei lowered her face and could not help putting her hand on her belly, feeling extreme loneliness.
Feng Momo was shown a lot of affection. Feng Momo’s impression of Zhao Chengjun still lingered on two images. One was that eleven years ago, Zhao Chengjun and his brother were rushed to the border, and the once most respected fourth prince was dying with a high fever. The other was last year, she was ordered by Empress Dowager to send the beauties to the border and saw Zhao Chengjun who was already an adult in the middle of whistling wind at the relay post station.
No matter which one, it had nothing to do with gentleness, kindness, and so on. Who could have imagined that Jing Wang, who was majestic, indifferent, and commanded a thousand troops, would also look at a person with a smile?
Feng Momo had a trace of vigilance in her smile. She looked at the sky outside and said, “It’s getting late. I had bothered for a long time. Now that the rewards from Empress Dowager and Emperor have been delivered, Wangye and Wangfei have also seen them, then I dare not disturb Wangfei to raise the baby. I will retire at once. Wangye and Wangfei stay.”
The womenfolk stood up together to send Feng Momo out. Feng Momo’s trip represented Empress Dowager. She would stay in the Xiping province for a short period and would return to the capital after the marriage. Zhao Chengjun also arranged a residence for Feng Momo. At this moment, he motioned to Liu Ji and said, “Send Momo out.”
Liu Ji responded. When Feng Momo wanted to leave, Tang Shishi certainly must send her to the gate. Feng Momo as a maid could not have been sent out by Zhao Chengjun. However, when Zhao Chengjun saw that Tang Shishi was going out, he was worried about Tang Shishi as if there was a tiger just a few steps from the main room to the gate, so he also followed out.
Feng Momo and a group of people came to the gate. When she saw the mountains of chests stacked outside, she could not help saying, “Your Highness, Wangfei is the mistress of the mansion and registered as Jing Wangfei in the imperial family’s book of records. I’m afraid it doesn’t fit to live in such a small courtyard.”
“This is only her temporary residence before marriage.” Without thinking, Zhao Chengjun said, “Now that the edict has been delivered, it’s time for her to move to the main residence.”
Feng Momo also asked casually. Once again, she requested Tang Shishi and Zhao Chengjun to stay and left with Liu Ji and others. After Feng Momo left, Zhao Chengjun restrained his expression and said indifferently, “It’s getting late and Wangfei wants to raise the baby. You all can withdraw.”
What could Lu Yufei say, she could only retreat guilty. After the crowd dispersed, Tang Shishi could not help asking Zhao Chengjun quietly, “Wangye, do I really have to move?”
Zhao Chengjun glanced at her gently, took her hand, and walked into the room while supporting her shoulder, “Otherwise? How can I go back on my words?”
“Then…” Tang Shishi was anxious, “Then where do I move to?”
“Naturally to Yan’an courtyard.” Zhao Chengjun seemed to carry a smile in his voice, “We are married, do you still want to live in two places?”