IBTBTED Chapter 95
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 95 Full Moon
In the third month, the wind blew along the Yumen Pass, the ice and snow melted, and the earth gradually revealed greenery.
The sunlight entered the house through the window and warmed the couch. Tang Shishi could not go out in the wind yet, but it was no problem to bask in the sun by the window and walk around the room with the child.
Tang Shishi walked slowly around the room with the child in her arms. Zhao Chengjun came in, saw her movements, and asked, “He refuses to sleep again?”
When Tang Shishi turned around and saw Zhao Chengjun, she sighed slightly and said softly, “Yes, I have been tossing for the whole morning, and still refuse to sleep. I want him to take a nap now, otherwise, he will sleep in the afternoon. Then in the evening, he’ll have enough sleep and make trouble at night.”
The child was lying in Tang Shishi’s arms with eyes half-closed, already a little sleepy. Zhao Chengjun walked to her and took the child from Tang Shishi’s arms, “Give him to me. You rest for a while.”
Children changed from day to day. After more than 20 days, the child was no longer a wrinkled little monkey at birth, but a white and fat steamed bun. Holding such a big, small stove, even if he was not heavy, it was enough to suffer after holding him for a few quarters of hours without interruption.
Tang Shishi handed over the child to Zhao Chengjun, carefully pulled out her sleeves from under the child, and said in a soft voice, “He can’t sleep well. Don’t wake him up, otherwise, he won’t sleep again.”
Zhao Chengjun nodded and carried the child very skillfully. He did not dare to carry him on the first day, and now that he had carried him so many times, Zhao Chengjun had long been self-taught without a teacher.
Zhao Chengjun’s arm was more stable than that of Tang Shishi. The child might sense the no-nonsense aura on his father’s body, instead of bullying his mother like just now, he quickly fell asleep soundly. Tang Shishi sat on the side and exercised her wrists. Seeing that the child fell asleep so quickly, she was angry but could not let the steam off at all, “Bully the weak and fear the strong. He is particularly obedient every time you come back. He is not like this when it’s just me and the maid.”
Zhao Chengjun walked to the edge of the couch and placed the child on the couch steadily. He broke into laughter at what Tang Shishi said, “Your own son, he is bullying the weak and fearing the strong. Who do you think you should blame?”
Tang Shishi was incited and quickly raised one eyebrow. She leaned on the other side and asked, “Wangye, are you saying that I bully the weak and fear the strong?”
“I didn’t say.” After Zhao Chengjun put the child properly, he sat next to Tang Shishi and carefully massaged her wrists. “If you are too tired from carrying him, let the maid do it. He is full nine catties. Be careful that your wrists can’t stand it.”
Tang Shishi was angry that Zhao Chengjun said she bullied the weak and feared the strong. She wanted to pull back her hand, but she could not pull back after trying hard several times. Tang Shishi gave up and let Zhao Chengjun slowly massage her wrist, “Has the imperial court replied? Has his name been settled yet?”
“It’s just delivered today. It’s settled,” said Zhao Chengjun. “The Imperial Clan Mansion has taken the word Gao and has written it in the genealogy.”
Tang Shishi snorted unhappily, “They still used the word you chose. Did you leave a private message in the letter?”
“You must speak with evidence.” Zhao Chengjun gently fingered Tang Shishi’s head and said, ” You saw with your own eyes when the letter to the imperial clan mansion was put in the envelope. I didn’t mention anything inside. I don’t know exactly who opened the letter. This shows that even the people in the imperial clan mansion felt that the name I choose is more suitable for boys.”
Previously, when Zhao Chengjun was naming the child, he was unable to decide which word to use, so he asked Tang Shishi to help him choose. As a result, the more they chose the more names they came out with, and both have completely different opinions. Zhao Chengjun liked masculine words such as “Cheng”, “Nuo”, “Gao” and so on, while Tang Shishi who disliked the tradition chose words such as “Yi”, “Mi”, “Jin” and so on.
Neither of them could persuade the other. In the end, Zhao Chengjun wrote these characters in the memorial and sent them to the imperial clan mansion, and asked the Imperial Clan Mansion to choose one of them as the name for the child.
The result just came back today, and the imperial clan mansion had drawn up the word “Gao”, which has been listed on the genealogical record and had been finalized.
“Zhao Zigao.” Tang Shishi pursed her lips and complained in a muffled voice, “It sounds like a boy at the first catch.”
Zhao Chengjun raised his eyebrows, unable to cry or laugh, “Otherwise?”
Tang Shishi was still unhappy. When she thought of it, her heart still felt uneasy, “You really didn’t bribe the people in the Imperial Clan Mansion? It’s obvious that the names I chose are better.”
“That’s right, you indeed choose better,” said Zhao Chengjun, “When our daughter is born, it’s up to you to name her. Will this do?”
Tang Shishi turned around to look at him, “How do you know that the next one is a daughter?”
Zhao Chengjun could not help laughing. Tang Shishi did not find the trap in his words and followed his words completely which showed that she did not reject him for having children. Zhao Chengjun said with a smile, “It’s alright to be a son too.”
Tang Shishi was stunned, and suddenly reacted, pulled back her hand forcefully, and glared at him angrily, “Who wants to give you a baby?”
Tang Shishi’s skin was as white as snow. She held her wrists, gently turned her wrist bones, and leaned sideways on the couch railings. Her slender snow-white hands were resting on the railings at will and almost glowing white under the sun. Zhao Chengjun’s eyes fell on her hand and moved up slowly to see her moist lustrous skin, slender neck, red lips, and snowy skin, and her dark eyes were exquisite. When she leaned down on the couch, she looked delicate and reserved with a sense of extraordinary beauty.
Tang Shishi was well raised during her confinement. Now her chin was still exquisite but with some added meat on the side of her cheeks which was much more rounded than when she was just pregnant. She was too thin a while ago and bones could be seen on her body. Unlike now, the flesh was at the right amount, and the blood was full. On the contrary, she was more beautiful than before.
Furthermore, unlike other young ladies after childbirth, her waist quickly recovered to slim, but her bosom and hips became rounded, and her skin was even more delicate like porcelain. Now, her youthfulness has faded and was replaced by a kind of maternal tenderness, like a dusted pearl that bloomed with shining dazzlingly.
Zhao Chengjun was very satisfied as this was what a Wangfei should look like. His wife should be arrogant and unrestrained, bright and beautiful, calm and unhurried, and ignorant of the suffering of the world. Too thin or too depressed features were due to the husband did not do well.
Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s slender and soft fingers, and somehow it stirred his desire little by little. He calculated silently in his heart, what the imperial physician said about when could she have intimacy after giving birth?
Tang Shishi did not pay attention to Zhao Chengjun. She was thinking about her child’s matter and said, “Fortunately, the letter from the imperial court was sent back before the full moon, otherwise it would be difficult to handle the banquet. Have you seen the seat for the full moon ceremony? Was there anything else to change?”
Zhao Chengjun hummed casually, and said, “It’s already very good, no need to change. Just look at these things casually. I have so many servants, it’s not to let them eat free rice, but to let you do it yourself. Your top priority is to nourish your health, as for other things, you can leave it to the servants.”
“I know.” Tang Shishi said, “I just take a look at the list and the maids do all the specific things. I won’t be tired. Besides, it’s been a month and I’m not made out of paper paste. How can I be so delicate?”
Zhao Chengjun said in his heart that she was much more delicate than paper paste. When he was about to say something, he saw the couch from the corner of his eyes and asked, “Did you just say that he sleep restlessly?”
“Yes ah.” Tang Shishi sighed, “Just like you, will wake up with the slightest disturbance. We have to speak more quietly so as not to wake him up.”
Zhao Chengjun sighed, “He is already awake.”
Tang Shishi was surprised, and quickly stood up to find Zhao Zigao lying on the collapsed with big eyes looking at the ceiling while gnawing on his hands. Tang Shishi was helpless, sat on the side of the couch, and pulled his small fist out of his mouth, “You ah, know how to learn the bad and don’t learn the good. You only know how to make trouble with your mother.”
Zhao Chengjun followed her to the other side of the couch with his arms supporting the railings as if he had surrounded Tang Shishi and his child in his arms, “Let two wet nurses work shifts at night. Now the daylight is so long, I guess it’s harder for him to fall asleep.”
Tang Shishi also felt the same. She took out her handkerchief and wiped the child’s hands carefully. The child opened his eyes wide to look at the man and woman in front of him and he suddenly grinned at Zhao Chengjun.
Zhao Chengjun was startled and said in surprise, “He smiles.”
Tang Shishi was wiping her child’s hands when she heard that and she quickly raised her head, “What, he can smile?”
“Yes.” Zhao Chengjun also sat down, next to Tang Shishi’s shoulders, and carefully looked at the child’s face, “He really smile just now. Zhao Zigao, smile once more.”
Tang Shishi looked at the child expectantly, but this time Zhao Zigao’s eyes turned around and refused to smile no matter what. Tang Shishi was disappointed and said aggrievedly, “I carry him for so long, and he didn’t even smile at me.”
Zhao Chengjun coaxed by hugging the big one quickly, “It’s alright. He is still young and will smile again later.”
“That’s different.” Tang Shishi was still very disappointed. “It’s clear that I spend more time taking care of him, but his first smile was not for me but for you. Why?”
Zhao Chengjun was helpless that she wanted to fight for this too. Zhao Chengjun said, “No, he was looking at you at that time. Maybe he was smiling at you and it’s nothing more than that you didn’t see it by chance. Look quickly, he smiles again.”
This time Tang Shishi also saw it, and she finally recovered a little bit of the imbalance in her heart. Next, the two kept teasing Zhao Zigao to smile from the side of the couch, until Liu Ji entered the door and had to interrupt Zhao Chengjun, “Wangye, Master Liu is here and has been waiting for a long time.”
Zhao Chengjun reluctantly put down his child and reluctantly bid farewell to his wife and child, “I will go outside to discuss official matters first, and I will come back to keep you company later.”
“Good.” Tang Shishi said without raising her head and said, “You go quickly.”
She did not even look at him. Zhao Chengjun stopped for a while and found that he could not compete with Zhao Zigao for Tang Shishi’s attention. He could only go out quietly. After going outside, the colors of spring were bright and beautiful with birds singing from time to time and the excitement of spring returning to the earth was everywhere. Zhao Chengjun and Liu Ji walked in this thriving vitality. Liu Ji smiled and said, “Wangye, you used to say that you didn’t like children before and will have a headache whenever you heard them cry. Now, I see that you obviously get along well with the little master.”
Zhao Chengjun was speechless and unable to respond. Facts had proven that some words should not be said too early. Once he was slapped in the face, then it was over and everyone could laugh at him.
And the more steadfast in the early stage, the more painful the slap was on the face in the later stage.
In fact, Zhao Chengjun did not tell lies. It was not that Liu Ji and others thought that he did not know anything because he was young, and only later understood the goodness of a wife and family. Before that, he really planned not to marry throughout his life.
Who knew that he would meet Tang Shishi and did a ridiculous thing by an unexpected turn of events? It was not that he wanted to get married, he just wanted to get married to Tang Shishi.
However, there was no need to tell these to outsiders.
The child was about to reach the full moon. This month, Tang Shishi focused on taking care of her body, thanking guests from behind the closed door, isolating herself from the outside world, and only interacting with her child and Zhao Chengjun every day. Although Zhao Zigao was making trouble, there were many helping hands. If it was a little troublesome, the maids and older women would do it for her. Tang Shishi only needed to move her mouth which was not tired at all. Tang Shishi did not have to exhaust herself and was able to enjoy the joy of the birth of her child. Zhao Chengjun also often ran back to see the child. This month Tang Shishi had an extremely comfortable life. Naturally, the mood state was brought forth in her facial expressions.
Nowadays, Tang Shishi had a gentle countenance, sparkling skin, and lustrous eyes like a clear crystal. Lu Yufei and others were startled when they saw Tang Shishi for the first time at the full moon banquet.
If it was not for Tang Shishi carrying the child and her earlier pregnant belly could not deceive people, Lu Yufei nearly suspected Tang Shishi was not pregnant at all. Did someone else give birth to this child?
Not only did Lu Yufei think like that, but the madams who came as guests also exclaimed in astonishment when they saw Tang Shishi, “Wangfei has recovered very well. Sure enough, the young people have a good foundation, and your waist has become so thin in just one month.”
“No,” complained Tang Shishi while holding the child, “I’ve gained a lot of weight. Even my arms are thicker than before.”
An elderly madam smiled and said, “Women are like this. When they are in the boudoir, they can’t even hold a needle. When they have a child, they won’t feel tired of carrying a child of more than ten catties single-handedly for a few hours. Wangfei’s arm is getting stronger and stronger isn’t it from carrying the little Junwang all day long?”
Everyone laughed together. Tang Shishi looked at the child in her arms with a smile and said, “He grows very fast, now I can hold him for a while, but I’m afraid I won’t be able anymore in a few months.”
“It’s a good thing for a child to grow up quickly. It’s better to let the little Junwang grow up quickly with the maids and old women around.” Another lady squeezed Zhao Zigao’s arm and said in surprise, “Oh, look at this firm little arm. In the future, it will be a good attribute for studying and practicing martial arts.”
The ladies gathered around Zhao Zigao and talked happily with each other. Children were the easiest topic to break the ice on. Tang Shishi listened to these madams talk about their parenting experiences in those years and asked for advice from time to time. The scene was harmonious for a while.
Lu Yufei stood behind Tang Shishi, silently lowered her head, and stared at her flat belly depressingly. She did not want to hear such a topic, but she was the daughter-in-law. She must serve her mother-in-law at all times on such a big occasion. Tang Shishi sat on the master seat and was flattered by everyone. Lu Yufei had to stand behind Tang Shishi to serve tea and water and ask about her well-being all the time.
Before Tang Shishi, Lu Yufei was Shizifei. This kind of occasion had always been her place in the limelight. But now with Tang Shishi, Lu Yufei not only faded away from the mansion but also only faded away from the eyes of the guests.
When everyone was talking, they carefully inquired about Tang Shishi’s preferences and did not pay attention to Lu Yufei anymore who was standing behind Tang Shishi. At present, Tang Shishi gave birth to her first legitimate son. She had not met with keeping the child and disposing of the mother and had not been deprived of custody rights. She still sat firmly in the position of Wangfei. Everyone knew that Tang Shishi was very much favored by Jing Wang, and her position was as stable as an impregnable fortress. All the madams hurriedly flattered Tang Shishi before it was too late, how could they remember Lu Yufei?
Lu Yufei was able to endure all these differences. Who made her the Shizifei and yet Tang Shishi the Wangfei which naturally was a head shorter compared to her? What Lu Yufei really could not tolerate was the completely different directions between the two after they got married.
Lu Yufei and Zhao Zixun, like many noble couples, drifted away irretrievably far away after a short, sweet month. There were more and more estrangements between the two and more and more concubines. In the end, the husband and wife only had decent etiquette.
But Tang Shishi was different. She was so pretentious and arrogant, but the more troublesome she was, the more favored she became. She gained her status and also her child. Tang Shishi had been married for more than half a year, there were no other concubines around him so far and her eyes were still like a young lady, bright and lustrous.
This was the expression of a person who had never been hurt or bumped against the cold south wall. Tang Shishi was young, beautiful, and also favored. With her and Jing Wang’s age, having a few more children was not a problem at all.
Lu Yufei quietly caressed her belly with downcast eyes. Since Tang Shishi became pregnant, many people panicked especially after Tang Shishi gave birth to a son, and the Lu family completely exploded. The Lu family kept urging Lu Yufei to have a baby quickly, and even her good friends urged her to hurry up. Lu Yufei herself also wished for that, but she really did not have the final say about this kind of thing.
She did not know how much medicine she had taken for fertility, performed all sacrificial offerings to Guanyin, Taoist priests, and Buddha, and yet she still could not conceive. She sought but could not get it, but she still had to listen to Tang Shishi and other madams talking about the troubles of parenting which was simply gouging out meat at Lu Yufei’s heart.
Lu Yufei did not envy Tang Shishi’s grandiosity but envied Tang Shishi’s favor. People who had not experienced it would not understand whether their husband loves them or not and was willing to be considerate of them. The difference was indeed too great. As long as the relationship between Lu Yufei and Zhao Zixun was more relaxed, why did Lu Yufei have to gouge out her heart up until now?
However, the same people had different fates. Who knew that the romantic and handsome Zhao Zixun was ruthless after marriage, while the majestic and indifferent Jing Wang favored his wife very much? Obviously, they were from the same mansion, but the treatment was hugely different. Probably, this was Lu Yufei’s fate.
Tang Shishi’s presence at the full moon banquet today was a formal announcement to the social circle that she was back again. After the full moon banquet began, Zhao Zigao was held by Liu Ji to the front courtyard to showcase around the men, and then was sent back to the rear courtyard.
Fortunately, it was spring now, the weather was not cold, and it did not matter if the child was wrapped tightly. After all, Zhao Zigao was still young and was very tired and languish after seeing so many people today. Tang Shishi looked distressed and asked the wet nurse to take him to sleep in the back.
Tang Shishi originally wanted to coax herself, but today she was the host and had to entertain the guests, so it was hard to get away. The wet nurse took the order and left. Tang Shishi was worried and felt uneasy. When she found a gap, she quietly went back to the rear courtyard to have a look.
When wet nurses and maids saw Tang Shishi, they hurriedly saluted, “Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi waved her hand and said, “Get up. Is he asleep?”
“Little Junwang is very obedient today and fell asleep after a while without coaxing.” The wet nurse pulled open the curtain to show Tang Shishi, “He has been asleep for a while.”
Zhao Zigao closed his eyes with steady breathing and seemed to be sleeping very soundly. Tang Shishi was relieved, and whispered, “Look carefully, don’t let anyone disturb him. He may be hungry after a while. If he can still fall asleep after breastfeeding, let him continue to sleep. If he’s awake, then bring him to the reception hall and I will look after him.”
Tang Shishi looked at him for a while, confirming that there was no problem before she planned to leave. Before leaving, Tang Shishi suddenly had a sharp eye and caught something.
Tang Shishi took off an exquisite jade hook from the swaddle and asked, “What is this?”
The wet nurse opened her eyes in surprise, “Isn’t this Wangfei’s thing? I thought it was a token that Wangfei gave to little Junwang, and I thought it was pretty good-looking, so I left it on the baby.”
Tang Shishi turned the jade hook back and forth and frowned. She asked, “When did you see it?”
“I didn’t pay attention. But when I coaxed the little Junwang to sleep, it was already there.”
Tang Shishi pursed her lips and thought about it was already there when he went to sleep. That meant someone had quietly put it on the child either when he was carried from the reception hall to the rear courtyard or during the round trip between the banquet hall and the front courtyard.
Fortunately, this was just a jade hook. If it was something else, would not it be unimaginable? However, why did the other party go through so much trouble just to hang a jade hook on the baby?
Seeing that Tang Shishi’s complexion was not right, the wet nurse was scared to death. She quickly knelt down and said, “Wangfei, please forgive me. I didn’t know anything. Could it be something wrong with this thing?”
Tang Shishi was about to scold the wet nurse for being careless, suddenly a thought flashed through her mind.
Jade hook… She held the jade in her fist when she was born and loosened it when she saw the emperor. Was not this the Madam Gouyi?
Tang Shishi suddenly became cold all over, like falling into an ice cave. Madam Gouyi was a well-known favored concubine in history. She was originally a daughter of a commoner and rose to the sky because she was favored by the emperor. Later, she gave birth to the prince, and the officials worried that the son and the young mother would be strong and that the outside relatives would have the power. Therefore, they told Emperor Wu to keep the son and dispose of the mother and put Madam Gouyi to death.
Did this person put the jade hook in Zhao Zigao’s swaddling clothes to use Madam Gouyi’s story to remind her to be careful of keeping the son and disposing of the mother?
Did these things already happen or were they happening now?