It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 87 Filial piety
On the fifth day of the tenth month, Feng Momo followed the officials of the Ministry of Rites set off to capital together.
There were also a few charming beauties that journey with her. These beauties were very reluctant. When they got to the carriage, they stood by the side of the carriage and cried for a long time. Finally, they were forcibly dragged into the carriage by a sturdy maid.
The carriages started to creak when the convoy set in motion, and this also concluded the wedding of Jing Wang.
The news that Feng Momo had left with the beauties of Jing Wang’s mansion spread widely in the city. Everyone heard that Jing Wang sent all the beauties away without frowning because the beauties were noisy and provoked Wangfei to have morning sickness. They were shocked and speechless.
How could this Wangfei who came out of nowhere be so favored? This matter was very deterrent in Xiping city, and no one dared to gossip about Jing Wangfei and the Xi family for a while. No matter how the Xi family emphasized that Xi Yunwan was the original match, she could not be compared with Tang Shishi who was now the proper Wangfei. She was not only pregnant with Jing Wang’s child and doted by Jing Wang, but also has the support of the imperial palace in the capital. When the triple halos were superimposed, who was crazy enough to dare to offend this one?
After Lu Yufei sent Feng Momo away, she was very relieved. Lu Yufei rested for two days and finally recovered. She changed into her home clothes and talked to her momo leisurely, “These people are finally gone. These days, I’ve been filled with anxiety that I don’t dare to say a wrong word or don’t dare to take a wrong step. I was afraid of embarrassing myself in front of the people from the imperial palace. Fortunately, they’re gone, and I can sleep peacefully now.”
Zhang Momo said, “Exactly. Those imperial palace momos looked strange and stereotyped, and they were not easy to get along with, but Shizifei only saw them several times. They disciplined the imperial palace’s maids and have nothing to do with Shizifei. Shizifei just stays in the fiefdom to enjoy happiness and prosperous life.”
Somehow, Lu Yufei also felt distressed, “Yes. Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with them in the future. It would be terrible to have someone around me like this if I lived in the imperial palace.”
Zhang Momo paused slightly and thought of the other women in the mansion. Lu Yufei could not bear the hardships of the imperial palace’s momo by just looking at her, but those few people had gone through the selection and emerged from hordes of troops and horses.
Tang Shishi was even the first among the beautiful young ladies. Zhang Momo suddenly discovered that they had fallen into a misunderstanding that they thought Tang Shishi was stupid, utilitarian, and terribly useless, but they only knew that Tang Shishi had lived in a place like the imperial palace for three years as the number one in the selection. Would any stupid people walk out of the imperial palace alive?
Zhang Momo suddenly had chilled on her back, as if she had neglected a very important thing. Lu Yufei also thought of the few imperial palace beauties left in the mansion. The ones who could still stay behind at the moment were undoubtedly the strongest among the strong ones after the triple screening of the selection, Chuxiu palace* and Jing Wang’s mansion, which was the same as raising a venomous insect. Although it looked like fewer women were in the mansion, the degree of danger rose dramatically.
(Chuxiu palace* – Residence of the empress)
Zhang Momo sighed, “When the people in the imperial palace left two days ago, those five beauties cried like people of tears. It’s too pity to see. When they returned to the imperial palace, how can there be any good fruits to eat? Those guards were so iron-hearted that I as the old momo also cannot bear to look at them, but they didn’t even move.”
“Otherwise?” Lu Yufei disdained and scoffed, “Wangye personally ordered it, and Feng Momo also agreed. How dare those imperial guards to have compassion for women? They can only cry now. When they return to the imperial palace, I’m afraid it’s a crime to cry.”
Zhang Momo sighed, “Wangye really indulged that one. Those beauties only spoke a few words, and the words were reasonable. That one got angry in the end, and everyone has driven away. Patience for a while will bring forth calmness, taking a step back will widen the field. Why have to go this far?”
Lu Yufei said coldly, “She has a death-free gold token in her stomach, so she naturally doesn’t want to tolerate them and also doesn’t want to retreat. I don’t believe that Wangye will really not take concubines. Wangye said that was just to take care of the bigger picture for his child being born safely. So, he can only calm her down for the time being. I want to see how she will end up after she gives birth to the child, without the support of her stomach.”
Zhang Momo also agreed with this. It was natural for men to have three wives and four concubines. How could there be any man in the world who refused to take concubines? However, Jing Wang’s mansion was in a special situation. Jing Wang had his first child at the age of twenty-five, no wonder he was extremely careful. From pregnancy to confinement, Tang Shishi has a full gap of six or seven months. If a concubine was accepted, the concubine would definitely break the head to compete for the favor. At that time, the rear courtyard would be full of dirty tricks. If by any chance that the child was injured, the gains outweighed the losses.
Presumably, Jing Wang did not start a concubine room because of this consideration. Concubine could be taken at any time, but heirs were not easy to come by and must not take risks.
Zhang Momo persuaded Lu Yufei, “Shizifei, the attitude of Wangye is very obvious now. The little master in Wangfei’s belly is the most important person in the mansion. No one can harm the little master with anything. Shizifei, please bear with her for the time being, don’t provoke Wangfei and just endure until she gives birth to the child.”
For the time being she has to endure and endure, everyone said so. Lu Yufei was not satisfied, but who made Tang Shishi the Wangfei, and she was just a Shizifei? Lu Yufei replied reluctantly, “I know. I’ll hide from her during this time.”
“Oh! Shizifei, you can’t hide.” Zhang Momo was worried and persuaded, “Shizifei, she is your nominal mother-in-law after all. Even if you don’t lay down the rules, you can’t skip giving greetings every day. Shizifei, do you want to go over there to serve Wangfei?”
“What?” Lu Yufei’s eyes widened when she heard such an outrageous thing, “I, go to serve her?”
“Yes ah.” Zhang Momo tried her best to say tactfully and evasively, “You are the legitimate daughter-in-law. If you don’t go, wouldn’t you let others take advantage? Both Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun are there, and Ji Xinxian is also there today.”
Lu Yufei was shocked and sat up straight from the couch in an instant. Her even expression changed, “Is this really true?”
“Naturally, it’s true. How can I deceive Shizifei?” Zhang Momo persuaded patiently, “Shizifei, it was easy for you to recruit villains. If you let them go, you can’t tell how those people will calculate you. You better have a look.”
Lu Yufei was really horrified. She originally thought that everyone would not pay respects to Tang Shishi, so she never took it seriously. Unexpectedly, they agreed not to go, but everyone else went except her in the end.
Lu Yufei cursed angrily, quickly changed her clothes, and rushed to Yan’an courtyard.
When Lu Yufei arrived, the hall was full of happy laughter in the Yan’an courtyard. Lu Yufei kept cursing Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun these cheap people in her heart. She had to put on a smile on her face and saluted Tang Shishi happily, “Wangfei.”
“Oh! Shizifei is here.” Tang Shishi laughed and said, “Get up quickly. Dujuan, show Shizifei to her seat.”
Lu Yufei looked around and dared not take a seat in front of Tang Shishi. She resolutely refused and said, “Wangfei is an elder and I am humble. How dare I sit down in front of Wangfei? I should stand and serve Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi hypocritically declined, “How is this good? We are about the same age. How can I make you do things like serving tea and water like maids?”
The other women just smiled as they believed in Tang Shishi’s evil! Outside the western room, a maid stopped in front of the duobao pavilion and asked, “Wangfei, it’s time to eat. Do you want to eat?”
Recently, Tang Shishi vomited whatever she ate. In the past few days, her appetite has gradually improved and often felt hungry. Zhao Chengjun did not allow Tang Shishi to eat more but increased the number of meals, asked her to eat less and more often.
Now, it was time for Tang Shishi to have one of her meals.
Several of Shizi’s women formed a cutthroat competition, and no one moved for a while. In the end, Zhou Shunhua was most willing to put aside her self-respect and stepped forward, “Wangfei, I’ll serve you to eat.”
Tang Shishi raised her eyebrows and said with a smile, “How can this work? You are still older than me.”
“What does it have to do with age to serve my elder?” Zhou Shunhua said, “Wangfei, please grant the favor.”
She wanted to rush to serve her. Of course, Tang Shishi would not refuse. Tang Shishi nodded and said indifferently, “Then as you wish. I’ll grant it.”
The maids stepped forward to check what was on Zhou Shunhua’s body, then tied her sleeves to expose her wrists and personally watched Zhou Shunhua wash her hands. Tang Shishi’s diet was especially extravagant. The whole body of the person who served must be examined and the arms must be exposed completely to eliminate the possibility of poisoning from the sleeves.
The others could not continuously stand when they saw Zhou Shunhua’s behavior. People were most afraid of being compared. If this happened, then they looked unfilial. Ren Yujun also said, “I’m willing to serve Wangfei.”
Ji Xinxian glared at Ren Yujun angrily, and hurriedly said, “So does I.”
There were four, wife and concubines and the other three have changed sides one after another. Now only Lu Yufei was left. Lu Yufei bit her silver teeth with hatred. Finally, she could only force a smile and said, “These several beauties are really energetic as if you are Wangfei’s proper daughter-in-law. Wangfei, it’s your daughter-in-law’s duty to serve you. How can you use someone else? Your daughter-in-law should serve you.”
Tang Shishi tried her best to hold back her laugh, and said humbly, “Shizifei comes from a noble family and is full of knowledge. Your hands are used for writing and painting. How can you do the work of serving others? Shizifei should go back and rest. It’s enough for me to have three of them here.”
The more Tang Shishi said like this, the more Lu Yufei could not leave. It was the duty of the daughter-in-law to visit in the morning and evening and serve her mother-in-law. If Lu Yufei left because she dislike being tired and remain three concubines to fulfill her filial piety, what did it sound like if this spread out? Lu Yufei lowered her head and resolutely requested Tang Shishi to give her a chance to express her filial piety to Tang Shishi. Tang Shishi smiled as if she was helpless, and said, “Well then. Dujuan, help Shizifei to wash her hands. Shizifei’s hands are valuable and can’t be burned.”
After Lu Yufei cleaned up, she walked to the dining table. Zhou Shunhua stood on the other side and nodded to Lu Yufei, “Shizifei, it’s not convenient for me to salute to Shizifei now. Please forgive me.”
Lu Yufei snorted, the hostility in her eyes almost turned into reality.
Four beautiful and charming official young ladies surrounded Tang Shishi to serve. Two were born in the high officials of noble family and the other two were born in the scholarly family. However, now they were all like maids around Tang Shishi, carefully serving dishes, tea, and handkerchiefs to Tang Shishi. Tang Shishi did not have to do it herself at all. Zhou Shunhua would pick up the dish right away that her eyes fell on without her saying it. Ren Yujun or Ji Xinxian could accurately deliver tea and soup when her face showed a little detail as if she was thirsty or tired.
Tang Shishi sighed that this was the usual treatment for Empress Dowager. Sure enough, having money and power was great. The happiness of wealthy people could not be imagined at all.
Sandwiched among three women who had practiced their eyesight in the imperial court before, Lu Yufei was reluctant to give up her prestige but she did not know how to serve others. Standing at the table, she has been repeatedly robbed by others and there was no chance to intervene. Lu Yufei was robbed by Zhou Shunhua to add vegetables several times in a row, and her complexion gradually looked bad.
Tang Shishi was in a happy mood. She even ate an extra half a bowl of rice. She raised her hand and signaled that she was done. Dujuan brought a copper basin and Tang Shishi washed her hands. As soon as she reached out, Zhou Shunhua half knelt on the ground, wrapped Tang Shishi’s fingers in a white cotton handkerchief, and wiped them carefully.
Not to mention by others, Tang Shishi herself felt too delicate. When did she become a person who needed others to wipe her hands? Zhou Shunhua could achieve this level. This woman’s patience and temperament were really terrifying. No wonder she survived four dynasties and seven emperors and became the final winner in the future.
After the meal, Tang Shishi got up lazily and went outside to digest. The four people including Lu Yufei followed her step by step. Tang Shishi was rarely interested to go to the garden to see the autumn scenery. Now it was late autumn and the garden withered badly. The leaves were turned deep red by the cold, the withered yellow leaves were like carpets spreading on the ground and made a soft noise when they stepped on it.
Tang Shishi took four wives and countless maids to go out, and the scene was like Empress Dowager’s southern tour. Tang Shishi walked along the corridor. A gust of wind blew by, and the leaves fell with rustling sounds, just like golden rain. A leaf fell on the sleeve of Tang Shishi, she took the fallen leaf away and turned around. She saw a group of women with beautiful clothes and beautiful faces standing quietly on the fallen leaves as beautiful as a picture scroll.
Tang Shishi said with a smile, “It’s so nice that the wife and concubines are full of harmony.”
Seeing that Tang Shishi was in high spirits, the maids jokingly said, “Wangfei, now it’s just Shizifei and a few beauties serving you. When the little master is added to the mansion in the coming year, it will be even more lively.”
Tang Shishi gently caressed her lower abdomen, smiling without saying a word. Lu Yufei saw Tang Shishi’s smile which was really dazzling.
It was all very nice to talk but getting things done was another matter. If Tang Shishi felt that the wife and concubines were full of harmony, why she did not arrange a concubine for Jing Wang? Tang Shishi asked Lu Yufei to be virtuous and kept stuffing concubines to Lu Yufei. In the end, she sent away all the beauties sent by the Empress Dowager, and even the good-looking maids in Yan’an courtyard were sent away. Tang Shishi could not tolerate any concubine at all, but she was so loud when she persuaded her daughter-in-law to be virtuous. Lu Yufei hated her so much that her tooth itched.
After Tang Shishi’s muscles and bones were moved by walking around the garden, her mood brightened up. She happily returned to Yan’an courtyard. At the moment, many people gathered around at the side door of outside Yan’an courtyard. Seeing her return, they rushed up, “Pay respects to Wangfei. Wangfei, you are back. The old women in charge are waiting for your advice.”