It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 92 Greet the New
It was dead silence in the reception hall. Lu Yufei, Zhou Shunhua, and the remaining concubines could not answer.
When Zhao Chengjun came back from the outside, he found that the reception hall was so quiet and said strangely, “What’s the matter? Why is no one talking?”
After Zhao Chengjun came back, Lu Yufei and the rest quickly stood up and saluted respectfully, “Wangye.”
When Tang Shishi heard Zhao Chengjun coming in, she stood up slowly, ” Wangye.”
Seeing her movement, Zhao Chengjun strode through everyone and took Tang Shishi’s hand, “Don’t move. I said it several times already, no need to pay attention to superficial etiquette. It’s more important to take care of yourself first.”
Tang Shishi really did not insist on saluting and sat down slowly following Zhao Chengjun’s strength. Zhao Zixun followed Zhao Chengjun from behind and waited for Tang Shishi to sit down. Then, he cupped both his hands and said, “Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi nodded, “Shizi.”
After Zhao Zixun greeted Tang Shishi, Lu Yufei and the concubines saluted in sequence, “Shizi.”
Zhao Zixun nodded indifferently. He naturally heard Zhou Shunhua’s. When Lu Yufei saw that, her eyes were slightly dim, Ren Yujun was like an old monk, calm and serene while Ji Xinxian was eager to compete with Zhou Shunhua.
However, these have nothing to do with Tang Shishi. Tang Shishi sat firmly above. Liu Ji bowed his waist and asked, “Wangye, do you want to get the meal ready now?”
Zhao Chengjun nodded, “Go ahead.”
Liu Ji took his orders and left. Zhao Chengjun glanced around and asked, “Why were all of you quiet when I came in just now? Could it be that you were unhappy?”
No one dared to answer this. Lu Yufei immediately declared her innocence, “We don’t dare.” The servants also knelt on the ground, “Wangye, please calm down.”
“Today is the New Year. What are you doing?” Tang Shishi angrily patted Zhao Chengjun and said fiercely, “I’m teaching them on pregnancy experience. You’re so good, you scared people as soon as you come in.”
Zhao Chengjun was furious until very helpless. He was afraid that she was wronged, so she blamed him in turn? Everyone with their own eyes saw that Jing Wang did not get angry after being scolded and beaten, but coaxed happily, “Well, I misunderstood you. Don’t be angry and be careful of the child.”
People in Yan’an courtyard were not surprised to see such strange things, but those who did not serve in front of Jing Wang before have their eyes popped out at this moment. Fortunately, Liu Ji came back in time to save the people who were so shocked that they were about to faint, “Wangye, Wangfei, the meal is ready. Please go over.”
Everyone immediately woke up. Zhao Chengjun moved first, but he did not leave after standing up. Instead, he turned around to help Tang Shishi and walked slowly with her to the place where the meal was set up. No one in the back dared to walk faster than Jing Wang, so they could only move slowly and carefully following Tang Shishi.
After Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi sat down, the maids instantly filed forward and arranged the bowl and chopsticks for them. Zhao Zixun took a seat next to the main seat but Lu Yufei did not dare to sit down. She took the initiative to stand next to Tang Shishi and said, “I’ll serve Wangfei.”
This was also the custom. Before marriage, a young lady was a pampered guest, and after marriage, she became half a maid. She has to work hard to serve her husband’s family, just like eating at ordinary times, parents-in-law, husband, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law could sit down, but daughter-in-law could not. She has to stand behind and serve the mother-in-law to eat.
Before, Tang Shishi also put forward her mother-in-law’s bearing, but it was in private after all. Now it was a New Year’s Eve banquet with Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun were present, Tang Shishi did not dare to make too much limelight. Besides, she did not want to offend Zhao Zixun.
Tang Shishi quickly glanced at Zhao Zixun and said with a smile, “No, the New Year’s Eve banquet is a family banquet. Today, our family sits down to have a good meal, so you don’t have to serve.”
Lu Yufei still insisted, “This is etiquette, and etiquette cannot be abandoned.”
Tang Shishi secretly looked at Zhao Chengjun. Zhao Chengjun did not seem to hear anything at the side and did not say anything. The best way to make a statement was without making a statement. Zhao Zixun immediately answered, “She should serve Wangfei. The more important the occasion such as New Year’s Eve, the more have to follow the etiquette. Wangfei just let her serve.”
Tang Shishi swept across the two men at the dining table in surprise, this kind of drama of a wicked mother-in-law deliberately belittling a daughter-in-law, and these two people actually did not care? Since both Zhao Chengjun and Zhao Zixun said this, then there was nothing else Tang Shishi could decline. She yielded after making a show of resistance and hesitantly said, “Well, then. Have to trouble Shizifei.”
Lu Yufei had already made up her mind earlier to serve in the end. However, it was one thing for her to make up her mind and it was another thing for her husband’s family to not care about her at all. Her husband, Zhao Zixun did not protect her, and Jing Wang who made her Shizifei also ignored her life or death. Lu Yufei’s heart was complicated, but she still smiled and cleansed her hands to serve dishes to Tang Shishi, “Wangfei, try this.”
Lu Yufei was standing while serving Tang Shishi dishes, so how dared the other concubines sit down. Zhou Shunhua and several others also followed to serve Tang Shishi at her back, but they did more as supporting role and dared not steal Lu Yufei’s limelight. Tang Shishi knew that everything has a limit before it was too late. If she really used Lu Yufei for the whole night and got passed out later, it would be the fault of Tang Shishi again.
Tang Shishi wiped the corners of her mouth with a handkerchief and planned to look for an opportunity to send Lu Yufei back. When she saw Zhao Zixun constantly looking behind her, Tang Shishi glanced back and smiled, “I forgot that these few beauties have not eaten yet. Beauty Zhou is Shizi’s favorite. If she is hungry, Shizi will be distressed. That’s all. Shizifei and few beauties, all of you go back to eat.”
Zhou Shunhua’s whole body stiffened. When Tang Shishi said this, was not she setting her as a target? Zhou Shunhua quickly saluted, “I dare not. It’s an honor for me to serve Wangfei. I’m not tired at all. Please give me the honor to continue to serve Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi sneered in her heart. How could she only know now that it was hard to be a target? When Zhao Zixun set her up as a target, why did not she see their heartache? Tang Shishi said, “That’s enough. This is a family reunion banquet, supposed to have a good meal. So, don’t push around and make everyone uncomfortable. You all can go sit down.”
Since Tang Shishi said this, the others did not dare to refuse anymore. Zhou Shunhua could not speak for herself, so she could only endure the pin-piercing gaze of others and took her seat carefully after expressing her thanks.
Lu Yufei sat at the last seat, while Zhou Shunhua and the rest concubines could not sit at the same table with the masters, and another small table was set up for them. Knowing that Tang Shishi was deliberately targeting Zhou Shunhua, Zhao Zixun still had to thank her, “Thank you, Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi smiled, “That’s what I should do. After all, family harmony is the basic foundation. We are all family. We should be considerate of each other. Isn’t it right, Shizi?”
Zhao Zixun lowered his head, “What Wangfei said is very true. I’ve learned a lesson.”
Zhao Chengjun seemed to be concentrating on the meal without saying a word, but his heart gradually came to a conclusion. He has been observing the whole day that Zhao Zixun kept calling Tang Shishi Wangfei, and not even once, called her mother.
In fact, Tang Shishi was not used to being served dishes by others. This kind of mannerism was unique in the imperial palace, but Tang Shishi could not adapt to it. Tang Shishi was relieved when Lu Yufei was not poking around and ate her favorite dishes.
She did not know when there was another green vegetable in her bowl. Tang Shishi picked it out with disgust. When her chopsticks were extended halfway out, it was caught by another pair of chopsticks, “Are you still picky about food?”
Tang Shishi raised her head to look at Zhao Chengjun’s face for a long time and finally ate it reluctantly. Zhao Chengjun picked up two more chopsticks for her and said, “These vegetables are good for your health. The more you are about to give birth, the more you have to be less picky about your food, you know?”
The small imperial palace fight’s class started again. Tang Shishi “En” impatiently and said, “I know.”
Lu Yufei had just sat down and had not eaten two mouthfuls, already overwhelmed by the show of affections between Tang Shishi and Jing Wang who did not know whether they were intentional or unintentional. No wonder Tang Shishi sent them away, it turned out that they delayed Jing Wang?
There were four people at the dining table, and everyone had different thoughts. After the meal, Tang Shishi went to the side hall to rest. Lu Yufei was going to follow suit but was sent away by Zhao Chengjun.
Lu Yufei was very tactful and did not dare to follow in when she saw this. After she retired, she found that Zhao Zixun had disappeared, and Zhou Shunhua also had disappeared. Lu Yufei stood silently in the magnificent lighted hall of the mansion with the same gorgeous but cold Ren Yujun and Ji Xinxian. She sadly realized that on New Year’s Eve night when the whole family was reunited, she could only stay with her sworn enemies.
Lu Yufei thought that Zhao Zixun and Zhou Shunhua went out together. In fact, they were not. Zhao Zixun stood in the wind shelter at this moment and watched indifferently the north wind blowing the lanterns with pounding sounds.
The attendant behind him still advised Zhao Zixun: “… Shizi, you should prepare early. In the past six months, Wangye has become more and more indulgent in that woman which shows that Wangye has been completely caged by the beauty trap. The imperial court’s intention of plotting against Jing Wang’s mansion is not gone. If she gives birth to a son, she will have the support of the imperial palace outside, and the favor of Wangye inside. I’m afraid that the succession of Shizi will be in danger.”
Zhao Zixun’s tone was light and scoffed, “It’s just a baby who hasn’t been born yet. I don’t even know whether it’s a male or a female. For which reason he can fight against me?”
“It’s definitely good if it’s a daughter, but Shizi should make preparations early if it’s a boy.” The attendant persuaded patiently, “After all, it’s the biological son of Jing Wang. Even if it’s more than ten years younger than you, it’s not a problem for Wangye to control the mansion for another 20 years at his prime. At that time, you’ll be in danger.”
“From your point of view, what should we do?”
“I think that there are two strategies.” The attendant stretched out two fingers and said, “First, Shizi will give birth to a son as soon as possible. The eldest son of the legitimate wife is the best and your bargaining chips will be even heavier with an heir. Second is to cut the grass and roots to prevent problems before they happen.”
The west wind howled, swept across the deep winding corridors of the mansion, like a child crying. Zhou Shunhua retreated from behind the wall, pressed her hat tightly, and walked away quickly.
In the side hall, Tang Shishi was lying on the couch and was already asleep. The night watch was too late for her, plus with her pregnancy and easily tired body, she fell asleep right away.
Zhao Chengjun guarded her at the side and browsed the imperial report over and over again. He did not know what happened today that he did not have the concentration he was used to in the past even after a long time.
Zhao Zixun’s alienated and restrained “Wangfei” kept ringing in his ears. It has been an entire day, and Zhao Chengjun kept playing back this scene which almost became torture.
He taught that child to abide by the rules and etiquette without showing his emotions and anger. If there was something he wanted, he must not let others see through it. He had ingrained in him for so long that he even could not see through Zhao Zixun now.
Zhao Zixun, what was he thinking?
Tang Shishi slept for a long time. Later, she woke up in a daze and asked, “What time is it?”
Zhao Chengjun was immersed in his thoughts and was suddenly interrupted. He looked down and realized that Tang Shishi had woken up. He pulled down the blanket for Tang Shishi and said, “It’s almost time to celebrate the New Year. Do you want to get up to have a look?”
Tang Shishi wanted to sit up, but she could not do it with her strength. Zhao Chengjun helped her to sit properly. Tang Shishi just woke up and felt cold all over. She wrapped the blanket a little tighter and said, “What’s good about it? Now, I’m clumsy and heavy, and my clothes are ugly and I’m also ugly. It’s inconvenient to do anything. What am I going out for?”
Zhao Chengjun broke into laughter and said warmly, “Not at all. You have always looked good. Even if you are pregnant, it will not reduce your beauty.”
“Really.” Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s hand and wrapped it firmly in his palm, “When did I lie to you? Without a doubt, you look the best.”
Tang Shishi still pouted and did not say anything, but her eyes gradually showed a smile. At this time, there was a loud noise of firecrackers outside, and the crowd cheered. There was a burst of lights on the window paper. Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi turned their heads and looked out the window.
The New Year was coming.
Looking at the sky full of fireworks and lanterns outside, Tang Shishi suddenly remembered that at this time last year, she was still a precarious maid, and she had a headache every day about how to fight over the female lead. She followed Zhou Shunhua to the theater troop and due to the unexpected turn of events, she was calculated and nearly took the blame for Zhou Shunhua. At that time, it was impossible for her to stop halfway, and she had to draw Zhao Chengjun’s sword to dance for him. Unexpectedly, a year had passed in the blink of an eye, she was pregnant with his child.
Tang Shishi looked down at her belly and felt the impermanence of the way of the world. At that time, she could not have thought that the person she eventually married was not the male lead, but the male lead’s father.
Zhao Chengjun also thought of what happened last year. They held hands together and none of them broke the atmosphere at the moment. After a while, Tang Shishi smiled and said, “Wangye, Happy New Year! I wish you every year there is today, and every year has the present.”
This was what Tang Shishi said to Zhao Chengjun last year. Zhao Chengjun laughed softly after remembering it. He looked down at Tang Shishi’s eyes, his eyes were focused and deep, “Good. Every year there is today, and every year has the present.”
I have you every year.
The first month of other people’s homes was the busiest time, but it was a frightening month in Jing Wang’s mansion, which has been in Shentai for seven years.
Tang Shishi’s stomach was getting bigger and bigger. Seeing that her labor period was approaching day by day, from the top to the bottom of the mansion, whether it was the inner courtyard or the outer courtyard, whether it was the masters or the servants, whether it was the people of the prince’s mansion or the people of Empress Dowager Yao, they all became alert.
Late in the night of the twentieth of the second month, Jing Wang’s mansion which had been quiet suddenly became noisy. Lu Yufei got up with a haggard face. She heard people outside the courtyard banging on the door and said in a hurry, “Shizifei, Wangfei is in labor!”