It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 83 Tang Family
Tang Shishi’s sigh was exceptionally soft. After sighing, she noticed it was not appropriate and quickly looked at the others. Fortunately, Zhao Chengjun and Feng Momo were in the middle of discussing etiquette and did not notice her movement.
Tang Shishi quietly felt relieved. It was indeed regrettable that her parents and relatives could not attend her wedding, but compared with her future, these regrets were really insignificant. It was rare that both Empress Dowager and Jing Wang were willing to believe her, but this delicate balance was too fragile, and if she was not careful, she would lose everything. Tang Shishi could not even take care of her foundation, so how could she be qualified to care about her reputation in the wedding ceremony, and her parents sending off at the wedding?
Tang Shishi was not a hypocritical person. After she figured it out, she quickly put down this matter and thought about the future arrangements wholeheartedly.
Zhao Chengjun and Feng Momo quickly discussed the details, and even the date was finalized. Zhao Chengjun asked Tang Shishi, “The twenty-seven of the ninth month is suitable for marriage. What do you think?”
What kind of opinion could Tang Shishi have? She naturally nodded, “What Wangye said is very good. Just arrange for this day.”
Tang Shishi said that she had no opinion. However, after she had finished reply, she paused for a while, and still could not help but say, “The twenty-seven of the ninth month is just a few days away. How can it be so fast?”
“Wangfei, this does not consider fast.” Feng Momo answered with a smile, “The ceremonial guards, crown dress, and others are all already made. The ones that can be left out like rituals of accepting the color, asking the name and welcoming relatives will be left out. Since Wangye and Wangfei are far away from the capital, there is no need to visit His Majesty and Empress Dowager on the wedding day. What trouble can there be? Wangfei can’t bear it now. Empress Dowager said personally that His Highness does not need to pay attention to etiquette when getting married, and always puts Wangfei’s health first. If the ceremony is finished earlier, then I will return to the imperial palace sooner to report.”
The Imperial Court conferment was the marriage in the patriarchal sense, and the wedding ceremony was in the secular sense. Zhao Chengjun was the master of the Northwest. Even if he received the Imperial Court conferment, he also has to hold a wedding ceremony to officially announce to the common people in his territory.
Tang Shishi’s health was inconvenient and neither Empress Dowager Yao nor Zhao Chengjun wanted to be too troublesome. The two most powerful people in the world have reached an agreement, let alone holding the wedding ceremony in seven days. Even if have to pick the stars from the sky above, the people below have to find a way to do it.
Tang Shishi has no say in this, all she could do was wait. After Zhao Chengjun finished talking about the wedding, he expected Feng Momo to leave. Unexpectedly, Feng Momo took her time and said with a smile, “Wedding is a big event in life. Before a woman gets married, her mother should educate her on some intimate things. It’s a pity that Wangfei’s parents are not around. Although I am not Wangfei’s parent, I’ve taught Wangfei in the imperial palace before. I courageously stand in on behalf of Wangfei’s mother, and Wangfei would not think that I have overstepped, right?”
Tang Shishi was surprised. She also knew what Feng Momo had just said. Before a woman was married, her mother or other female elders should teach her about the boudoir affairs, prevent the woman from being raised in a deep boudoir, being ignorant of the relationship between men and women, and cause trouble on the night of the bridal chamber. But… Tang Shishi was pregnant. Did she still need to listen to this?
However, even if she knew what Feng Momo said was an excuse, Tang Shishi could not refute it. Tang Shishi immediately said with a smile, “What’s Momo saying? Momo is willing to teach me, and it’s too late for me to be grateful. How can I refuse it?”
Feng Momo also smiled, “That’s great that Wangfei doesn’t mind.”
Zhao Chengjun knew that Feng Momo deliberately send him away, but he also could only play by the book. The children who grew up in the Imperial Palace were precocious. Of course, Zhao Chengjun knew what Feng Momo was going to say to Tang Shishi. How could he listen to such a thing?
Zhao Chengjun stood up as if there was nothing wrong and said, “Suddenly occurred to me that there is still something to do outside. I have to trouble Momo to accompany her for a while. I’ll come back right away.”
Feng Momo got up to send him off, “Your Highness, go to work quickly and I’ll look after Wangfei. Your Highness can rest assured.”
Tang Shishi followed to see him off at the doorway. After Zhao Chengjun went out, Tang Shishi said to the surrounding maids softly, “You don’t need to serve here. You can retreat.”
The maids said yes. The maids retreated one after another, and soon, there were only Tang Shishi and Feng Momo in the room.
Tang Shishi knew that her main act was coming. With a smile on her face, Tang Shishi motioned to Feng Momo, “Momo, please sit down.”
“Wangfei, please first.” Feng Momo took a step back and helped Tang Shishi to sit down before sitting sideways on the arhat couch. She looked at Tang Shishi carefully, looked at her for a while, and said with a smile, “I said before that Wangfei is a person who will enjoy great wealth. Sure enough, in just one year, Wangfei’s status is different from the past.”
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes and smiled meekly, “It’s Empress Dowager and Momo who pity me. I don’t dare to be arrogant.”
Feng Momo was very satisfied with Tang Shishi’s attitude that Tang Shishi did not drift away even after being favored, so it could be seen that she did not forget her roots. Feng Momo said, “Life and death are ruled by fate, and wealth and honor are from Heaven. Since Wangfei can come to this point, it can be seen that Wangfei is born with wealth and honor. Empress Dowager has been thinking about Wangfei all these years. This time, she specially asked me to take care of Wangfei.”
Take care of her? Perhaps, it was for knocking some sense into her. The expression on Tang Shishi remained unchanged, and she still said with a smile, “I don’t dare to forget the teachings of Empress Dowager for a moment. I wonder if Empress Dowager is in good health since I haven’t seen her for a long time?”
“Empress Dowager is at peace. His Majesty and Empress also doing well.” After Feng Momo said, she suddenly mentioned, “I just saw Wangfei sighed. I don’t know what Wangfei sighed for?”
Tang Shishi was surprised. Her sound was so soft that Feng Momo actually heard it? Tang Shishi did not dare to be careless. She thought for a moment and said, “I thought that Momo will be leaving soon. I stayed alone in Jing Wang territory, lonely and helpless. I was really terrified.”
With a smile, Feng Momo patted the back of Tang Shishi’s hand and said meaningfully, “How can Wangfei have no relatives? You are already pregnant with a child. When the child is born, aren’t the child Wangfei’s closest relatives?”
Tang Shishi restrained her eyes, and her eyelashes trembled slightly, “I’m like duckweed, drifting with the tide. It’s hard to say what will happen in the future.”
After Feng Momo looked at Tang Shishi’s expression, she showed the appearance of consideration and understanding. She thought she had guessed Tang Shishi’s heart knot, so she did not hesitate to say, “Wangfei don’t have to worry. You are Wangfei that the Empress Dowager has conferred. When the womenfolk of the imperial family see you, they even have to give in to you. No matter how courageous Jing Wang is, he doesn’t dare to depose you. If he really dares to keep the child and dispose of the mother, the Empress Dowager will definitely seek justice for Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi seemed to be relieved at last and said movingly, “Thank you, Empress Dowager.”
On the surface, Tang Shishi was moved to tears, but inwardly she was afraid that Empress Dowager was looking forward to her to meet with the scenario of keeping the son and disposing of the mother. In this way, Empress Dowager Yao has a legitimate reason to openly attack Jing Wang.
The more Feng Momo talked like this, the more Tang Shishi was certain that Zhao Chengjun would not do anything to her. Instead, she was more afraid that Empress Dowager Yao’s people would harm her.
Feng Momo felt that she had completely mastered Tang Shishi’s mind and was more and more sure of victory in hands, “You don’t have to be afraid. Empress Dowager left many people in Jing Wang’s mansion, and they will protect you when necessary. Now, you must raise the baby well, give birth to the child safely and gain Jing Wang’s trust. Once you got his approval, then only can you get access to the inside story of the Jing Wang mansion and find out the real core information. At that time, you will be the most important eye for Empress Dowager, and you will watch Jing Wang’s every move for Empress Dowager, especially if he is against the Imperial Court.”
Tang Shishi promised, but she thought in her heart about what she needed to do later. Now she could only tell Empress Dowager Yao responsibly that Zhao Chengjun has a rebellious heart.
Not only did he intend to rebel, but he also succeeded in the rebellion. Naturally, Tang Shishi would not tell Feng Momo these words, because she also has them.
Empress Dowager relied heavily upon her capable assistants. How about she became the Empress Dowager herself?
Unfortunately, Feng Momo has preconceived ideas and thought that Tang Shishi was a stupid and vain woman, which could be controlled easily. Feng Momo knew well the principle of giving sweet jujube after a stick. After the threat, she quickly turned her complexion and said kindly, “Wangfei don’t have to worry. You are Empress Dowager’s most favorite person. No matter what, Empress Dowager will protect you. Empress Dowager bestow you a lot of dowries when I came to the fiefdom this time. Look, this is the dowry list. These items are all personal things that Empress Dowager collected over the years, even Emperor did not get them but now all were given to Wangfei. Wangfei has such dignity and still worried that there’s no way out in the future?”
Tang Shishi took the list, glanced quickly, and raised her eyebrows secretly. The rewards were brought in yesterday, but Tang Shishi has not had time to look at it. Now that she got the list, she knew that Empress Dowager had indeed spent a lot.
Empress Dowager Yao deliberately prevented Zhao Chengjun from marrying families with influences and also did not want to be gossiped about by other people in the world, so she put a lot of effort into Tang Shishi. She raised Tang Shishi’s status and praised her again. She praised Tang Shishi’s existence that only existed in Heaven. She wished to declare to the entire world that this was a great marriage.
Tang Shishi represented the face of Empress Dowager Yao. These big people were not short of money and would never treat her badly materially. This was a game between Empress Dowager Yao and Jing Wang. Tang Shishi did not understand who would win or lose, but she has become a direct beneficiary. She was still quite happy to think about it.
After Feng Momo gave her money, she began to play the emotion card next, “Empress Dowager treat Wangfei out of the ordinary which is almost more intimate than her daughter. Wangfei is the best among the ten people sent by Jinling, while the others are either muddle-headed or tangled themselves. They are hopelessly stupid. Wangfei just cares about your own matters and doesn’t have to take care of those stupid things. If it becomes necessary in the future, Wangfei can give up everyone to protect yourself.”
Tang Shishi understood that Empress Dowager Yao was bent on pushing her forward, even at the expense of other beauties. Tang Shishi was relieved with Feng Momo’s words. So, there was no need to mention Feng Qian’s matter.
Empress Dowager Yao would deal with the people of the Feng family well, which definitely would not involve Tang Shishi.
Feng Momo observed the expression on Tang Shishi and played the last and most important card, “Wangfei is depressed today. Are you homesick? Wangfei has not been home for four years. Probably won’t know that the Tang family has expanded very well in recent years. Their business has expanded from Linqing to along the canal, and even Jinling has a branch of the Tang family. By the way, does Wangfei have a sister named Tang Yanyan?”
When Tang Shishi suddenly heard the familiar name, she was startled for a moment, “Yes. What’s wrong with her?”
“Congratulations, Wangfei.” Feng Momo apparently did not know the inside story of the Tang family, and said to Tang Shishi with a smile, “Wangfei is very lucky. Your father and brother are good at doing business, and your brother-in-law also has a talent for studying. Qi Jingsheng, the husband of Wangfei’s second sister, passed the provincial examination and will be able to take part in the imperial civil service examination in the capital next year. If Wangfei makes a meritorious deed, it will not be a big deal for the Empress Dowager to send someone to take care of him next year.”
Tang Shishi was in a trance once again. Qi Jingsheng passed the examination and successfully became a Juren. He actually did it.
Now, Tang Yanyan, concubine Su, and even the whole Tang family must be very happy.
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes and said softly, “The imperial examination is a place for the imperial court to select talented Juren. I dare not make things difficult for Empress Dowager. I thank Empress Dowager for her kindness but don’t have to bother about the imperial civil service examination. Whether he can pass the examination will have to depend on his ability.”
In fact, Feng Momo just said it casually. Although Empress Dowager Yao was regarded as Empress Dowager, she could not interfere in the political affairs of the imperial court. Since the imperial examination was a major event in the country, the Imperial Censor agency eyed it covetously and the Ministry of Rites strictly guarded it. In fact, if Empress Dowager said she could hire a person, could she really hire them?
However, words were just words. Since Tang Shishi took the initiative to refuse, she had won Feng Momo’s favorable impression. Feng Momo smiled with satisfaction, “Wangfei understands the righteousness which is really a blessing for the imperial clan, and Empress Dowager is right about you. Wangfei, don’t have to worry. Your second brother-in-law is blessed by Heaven and will surely pass the examination.”
Tang Shishi smiled faintly, “I hope so.”
Feng Momo had finished explaining what she should have explained. Then, she said some familiar things to Tang Shishi and got up to leave. After Feng Momo left, it was mealtime for Tang Shishi, but she had no appetite for no reason. She had two mouthfuls casually and asked the maid to remove the things.
Zhao Chengjun had something to do outside, so Tang Shishi stayed in Yan’an courtyard to pass time. After a while, it was time for the next meal. Tang Shishi now has to eat several meals a day and this was not the regular meal. Initially, Tang Shishi planned to deal with it at will but unexpectedly, Zhao Chengjun returned.
Tang Shishi was very strange to see Zhao Chengjun, and asked, “Wangye, did you leave anything in the courtyard?”
“No.” Zhao Chengjun’s tone was light. He did not leave after he finished saying that and sat in the room to watch Tang Shishi eat. Tang Shishi felt baffled that she was being watched. She could not guess what Zhao Chengjun wanted to do, so she had to leave him alone for the time being and eat by herself first.
This time it was a soup and Tang Shishi slowly scooped the cheese. Zhao Chengjun sat opposite her and asked casually, “Are you in a bad mood today?”
Tang Shishi said inexplicably, “No.”
Zhao Chengjun paused and then said, “If you have something on your mind, you can say it.”
Tang Shishi became even more inexplicable. She thought carefully but still did not know what was on her mind, “The days are the same as usual. There is nothing special. What can I have on my mind?”
There were no changes in Zhao Chengjun’s face, and he nodded calmly, “That’s good.”
After Tang Shishi finished eating, the maid came forward to clean up the soup bowl. Zhao Chengjun stood up and said, “You take care of yourself. The officials of the Ministry of Rites are still outside. I’ll come to see you later.”
Only then did Tang Shishi realize that Zhao Chengjun had brushoff the officials of the Ministry of Rites just to come back to see her eat? Tang Shishi was confused. She wanted to stand up to send Zhao Chengjun out, but was stopped by Zhao Chengjun, “You are much weaker than me, don’t need to send me off. Just raise the baby with ease.”
During this time, Zhao Chengjun indulged in Tang Shishi very much, and gradually Tang Shishi got used to it. She did not move again and watched Zhao Chengjun go out until he could not be seen.
Tang Shishi leaned on the arhat couch and thought for a while, but still did not understand why Zhao Chengjun did this today. If she could not figure it out, then did not have to think about it anymore. Tang Shishi did not take it seriously and soon went to do her own thing.
In the evening, Zhao Chengjun finally finished his outside affairs and came back to have an evening meal with Tang Shishi. After the meal, Tang Shishi asked the maid to help digest food as usual and then went back to the room to take a bath. This was her essential schedule for the day. By the time she got out from bathing, it was already dark.
Tang Shishi was sitting in front of the mirror combing her hair. She was focusing on checking the ends of her hair and did not notice that the movement behind her gradually stopped. Tang Shishi found a split end, and called out lazily, “Dujuan, bring the scissors.”
Tang Shishi did not hear Dujuan’s response for a long time, so she raised her head up suspiciously and found that all the maids had withdrawn at some point. Zhao Chengjun stood behind her and asked, “You are now avoiding sharp tools. Why do you want scissors for?”
Tang Shishi smoothed her long hair and said, “Hair must be trimmed in time to look good.” After saying that, Zhao Chengjun still did not move. She lost her patience and stared at him, “What are you doing staring blankly? Quickly get the scissors. I won’t find the slip end in a while.”
Zhao Chengjun was despised for the first time. He looked at his pregnant beloved wife in front of him and there was really nothing he could do. So, he had to obediently obey Tang Shishi’s orders and be treated as a servant.
Zhao Chengjun brought the scissors but refused to give them to Tang Shishi. Instead, he said, “What do you want to cut? I’ll do it.”
Zhao Chengjun was frightened by Tang Shishi before. How could he dare to let her touch sharp tools? Tang Shishi did not care. She picked a strand of hair and put it in Zhao Chengjun’s hand, “Look carefully at the ends of the hair. If there is a split end, cut them off.”
Zhao Chengjun was holding her hair in his hand and was helpless again. Tang Shishi really took him as a maid and gave him orders without scruples. Zhao Chengjun sat next to her, felt the warm and delicate fragrance of her beloved wife, her body was soft as boneless and her long silky black hair. He was completely willing to be driven by her.
Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s long hair. While caressing her hair, he asked, “You have something on your mind?”
He asked about this again. Tang Shishi paused slightly, and then said indifferently, “No.”
“If no, then why do you eat so little at noon.” Although Zhao Chengjun was asking a question, his tone was very certain, “Are you thinking about the Tang family?”
Tang Shishi paused. When Zhao Chengjun and Feng Momo were discussing the wedding during the day, she sighed regretfully thinking that her natal family could not attend her wedding. She thought no one noticed, but she did not expect Feng Momo to notice it, and Zhao Chengjun also noticed it.
Yes ah, these two were the people from the imperial palace. How could she possibly hide her little thoughts from them?
After being told bluntly, Tang Shishi also no longer concealed it and quickly admitted, “Yes ah. My mother has been looking forward to my marriage since I was a child. I didn’t expect that when I finally got married, she didn’t even know the news.”
Zhao Chengjun remained silent. The wedding was the most important ceremony in a woman’s life. Which woman did not want to get married grandiosely with the blessing of relatives and friends? But because of him, Tang Shishi could not even notify her natal family.
Zhao Chengjun tightened his fingers. After a while, he said, “Don’t worry. There will be a chance to compensate in the future.”
Zhao Chengjun’s voice was very low, but his tone was firm, and his words were clear as if he were saying a promise. Tang Shishi chuckled and looked askance at Zhao Chengjun, “Wangye, I only get married this time. If I have another chance in the future, I’m afraid it’s not a good thing?”
Zhao Chengjun’s sunk with his eyebrows frowned, “Nonsense.”
Tang Shishi did not avoid and rebutted back. She stared at Zhao Chengjun angrily, “It’s obvious you said it. You still blame me?”
Tang Shishi really felt that she was wronged. What kind of words were these to comfort others that there would be a second wedding? Zhao Chengjun looked at her with deep eyes and found that Tang Shishi really had a talent in making him angry in an unusual way.
What he promised was clearly the conferment of the Empress ceremony. Ordinary women would not have a second wedding, but the Empress could. When Tang Shishi was the Wangfei, he could not do it grandly. When she conferred as Empress in the future, naturally there would be no scruples.
The Empress was the mother of the nation, and the Empress crowning ceremony was barely considered a wedding.
He secretly promised her the future with a sincere heart. As a result, looking at what Tang Shishi said, Zhao Chengjun seriously felt that sooner or later he would die out of anger by Tang Shishi.