It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 105 Younger Sister
Tang Yanyan ran closer, and the guards of the prince’s mansion were instantly alert. Tang Yanyan felt the unfriendly look of her attendants and was forced to stop three steps away from Tang Shishi.
Tang Yanyan glanced across the disposition of people wielding weapons behind Tang Shishi, pursed her lips to smile, and said to Tang Shishi, “Elder sister, I haven’t seen you in a few years. You don’t even want to recognize your family members?”
It was indeed unlucky to meet Tang Yanyan here. Tang Shishi rolled her eyes internally, but Tang Yanyan was counted as her sister after all. Under the public’s eyes, Tang Shishi could not become hostile right away, so she raised her hand to signal the guards not to be nervous and that she knew this person.
After the guards received the instruction from Tang Shishi, they slowly put their swords back into their scabbard. Tang Shishi looked at Tang Yanyan with a smile, a very standard smile without any intention to reminisce about the past, “I was rushing just now and didn’t notice that second younger sister was also there. When did second younger sister come to Jinling?”
Ignoring Tang Shishi’s indifference, Tang Yanyan stepped forward to hold Tang Shishi’s hand and complained intimately, “It’s all because to accompany Brother Qi to participate in the imperial examination. I’ve been used to living in Linqing for many years. It’s hard to leave my hometown, and I don’t want to adapt to a new place. However, Brother Qi wants to come to the capital to participate in the imperial examination. There’s really nothing that can be done, and I can only move to Jinling with my parents-in-law. I clearly said that I will take good care of Brother Qi, but father and mother were not at ease and moved to the capital as well, even their shops too. Elder sister, you don’t know that over these years, I have been stuffed by my parents-in-law and being nagged by father and mother. It’s really annoying.”
Tang Yanyan said this while covering her mouth exaggeratedly as if she had only half reacted. She said surprisingly, “Elder sister, don’t you know that Brother Qi has passed the exam and become Juren?”
After six years, Tang Yanyan’s drama was still so bad. Tang Shishi chuckled and said, “Is that right? I just knew it. Congratulations to the second younger sister. You’ve become Madam Juren.”
“What is elder sister talking about? I’m stupid and silly. I don’t look as good as the elder sister when I was a child. I can’t believe I can live such a life myself. Elder sister is better than me in everything, and this kind of life should belong to elder sister.” After saying that, Tang Yanyan patted her forehead with a smile and blamed herself, “Look at me, I just talked about myself and forgot to ask about elder sister. Elder sister, where have you been these years? Since you entered the palace, there has been no news. Father sent people to inquire several times and found nothing. If we knew you were in the capital earlier, we would have moved here long ago. However, since the elder sister is also in Jinling, why don’t you send a letter to the family? My father and big mother miss you very much during your absence.”
Tang Shishi kept smiling until she heard Tang Yanyan mention “big mother”. Her smile became slightly cold, and glanced at Tang Yanyan coldly, “Second sister is overly sensitive. I’m not only better-looking than you when I was a child, but to be precise, I have always been better-looking than you.”
Tang Yanyan’s smiling face was stunned. Tang Shishi faintly hooked up the lower lips corner and continued, “Also, what do you mean by father and mother nagging you? Su is a concubine. You should call her second mother.”
Tang Yanyan restrained her smiling face. No matter how disgusted she used to be, she always smiled at Tang Shishi in front of people. Because concubine Su said that Tang Shishi was the eldest sister from the legitimate wife after all and could not give other people any chance that could be used against them later. Once Tang Yanyan was worried about her status as a daughter of a concubine, but now Tang Yanyan did not want to worry anymore.
She was not an ordinary rich madam, she was Madam Juren now. Although Qi Jingsheng has not passed the exam to be Jinshi for the time being, he has already surpassed many men in the world just by being Juren. She has such a talented husband, and yet Tang Shishi has been married for so many years but dared not contact the family. Now she was still wearing gold and silver, which showed that she has become a concubine. The two sisters with a significant difference in social standing. So, what else was Tang Yanyan afraid of her?
Tang Yanyan sneered and said tit-for-tat, “My mother is really a concubine, but over the years, she has helped father to take of business affairs, socialize, and busy entertaining guests. She is the same as the legitimate wife. Many people come to the Tang family without knowing that there is still a legitimate wife in the Tang family. Big mother has a blessed life, her body is delicate and can’t take care of these trivial things. So, she can only let my mother do it for her. Isn’t sister the closest to big mother before? Why haven’t I seen elder sister go back these years?”
Neither of them had the patience to keep the drama of deep sisterhood. Tang Shishi coldly withdrew her hand, wiped her fingers with the handkerchief in front of everyone, and said, “I haven’t been in the capital these years. This year, I follow my husband to the capital to report on his work, so I came to the capital. The place where my husband worked was far from Linqing. I didn’t send a letter because I was afraid of frightening my family.”
Tang Yanyan frowned slowly. What… follow her husband to the capital to report his work? A concubine was not qualified to call the master of the family husband. Tang Shishi called her husband directly which showed that she was not a concubine. Moreover, being able to return to Beijing to report on his work showed that the other party was an official and very likely that the official position was not small.
It should not be ah. Tang Shishi could not live better than her. Tang Yanyan was unwilling to give up, put on a smiling face again, and took Tang Shishi’s arm affectionately, “Elder sister, it’s alright not to talk about other things. Isn’t it too much that you didn’t even tell your family about your marriage? Where did you get married? Why didn’t you go home to visit parents?”
When Tang Shishi saw Tang Yanyan approaching, her whole body began to get goosebumps. She pushed away Tang Yanyan’s hand mercilessly, but Tang Yanyan as if could not feel it and stuck to her again. When Zhao Zixun saw Tang Shishi and her old friend reminiscing the past, he stood at a distance on the other side waiting for her. Now seeing Tang Shishi and that woman appeared to be unhappy, Zhao Zixun frowned and walked slowly over, “Madam Wang, what are you doing?”
Tang Yanyan saw a handsome and tall man approaching from the corner of her eyes. She did not take it seriously until the man stopped beside Tang Shishi and called out “madam”. Tang Yanyan was completely stunned.
Tang Yanyan scanned Zhao Zixun incredulously, then looked at Tang Shishi and said with a slightly trembling voice, “This is…”
Tang Shishi was afraid that Tang Yanyan would say “this is your husband”. She was now the Wangfei, her reputation and integrity were very important, and a little carelessness would lead to death. Tang Shishi immediately stopped Tang Yanyan’s words and said calmly, “I haven’t introduced you yet. This is my eldest son. Zixun, this is my younger sister.”
It was the first time that Zhao Zixun heard her call him by his name. In the past, she always called him “Shizi.” These two words came out of her mouth as if they brought a certain kind of seductive excitement which made his heart flutter and even his blood boil.
Zhao Zixun actually did not pay attention to who Tang Yanyan was, but after all, she was Tang Shishi’s younger sister. Zhao Zixun did her a favor by nodding to Tang Yanyan, “Second young lady of Tang.”
Tang Shishi smiled and said unhurriedly, “You shouldn’t call her young lady. Now, you should call her big young mistress.”
Tang Yanyan’s heart suddenly tightened, suddenly loosened, then suddenly flew up. She just thought that Tang Shishi had married such a young handsome man, but she did not expect that this was her eldest son.
Hahaha, Tang Yanyan thought happily that Tang Shishi would also have today. When she was in the Tang family, Tang Shishi was so proud and arrogant. When Brother Qi bought her food and things, Tang Shishi just nodded lightly like giving charity and said plainly “not bad, thank you” and sometimes she did not even bother to say “thank you”. However, even so, Brother Qi was like a demon and devoted himself to pleasing Tang Shishi. If he could get her to smile, it would be like a great reward.
But now, Tang Shishi was sent to the palace. When she left, she had made such a big scene but she did not get any fame in the end. Instead, she married an old widower. Their eldest son was already so old. Was not that man in his seventies and eighties with white hair and wrinkled skin?
Tang Yanyan was disgusted with goosebumps by just thinking about it. Tang Shishi actually married an old man. No wonder she was dressed so gorgeously as it turned out that it was all in exchange for accompanying an old man. Tang Yanyan felt a little sorry for Tang Shishi, and her eyes were full of pity, “Sister, no wonder you don’t want to contact your family. However, we are a family after all. Although there are things that you don’t’ want to tell outsiders, you can still return home.”
Zhao Zixun remained calm at first but later he frowned more as he listened more. What was this woman talking about? How could becoming a Jing Wangfei after married became a thing that could not be seen by others?
Zhao Zixun was about to open his mouth to remind one or two, but his face suddenly became grave and stared in one direction. Tang Shishi noticed that Zhao Zixun’s expression was wrong and followed Zhao Zixun’s gaze and saw a person standing in the corner outside the shop.
Tang Shishi’s eyes came in contact with the arriving person, and her expression also gradually faded.
After many years of parting, unexpectedly, she met him again on such an occasion.
Tang Yanyan turned around and saw that it was Qi Jingsheng. She happily pulled Qi Jingsheng over. Qi Jingsheng was held by Tang Yanyan like a piece of wood. His gaze stayed on Tang Shishi all along with some sadness, some happiness, some reminiscences, and some melancholy.
Zhao Zixun frowned and was instinctively annoyed. What was the look in this man’s eyes? What was his relationship with Tang Shishi?
However, Tang Yanyan was immersed in the joy of victory and had no time to pay attention to her husband’s strangeness. Tang Yanyan leaned closer to Qi Jingsheng’s shoulder and said in a pampered voice, “Brother Qi, this is my big sister. Don’t you recognize her? By the way, this is my elder sister’s eldest gongzi. Gongzi, this is my husband, Qi Jingsheng.”
Qi Jingsheng’s eyes finally shifted to Zhao Zixun. Initially, he waited outside for a long time and did not see Tang Yanyan come out, so he went into Jinyi Pavilion to find her. Unexpectedly on the inside, he saw a person who he did not be expected no matter what.
He saw Tang Shishi, as well as that man beside her. Qi Jingsheng was in great pain when he saw her put up a married woman’s hair bun, but he knew that there would be such a day eventually.
Since Tang Shishi was selected by the Flower and Bird ambassador and was called into the Imperial Palace, his future with Tang Shishi was completely cut off. Sooner or later, she would marry and become someone else woman, and even might fly into the emperor’s family.
But Qi Jingsheng did not expect that he would be able to see this scene with his own eyes in his lifetime, unsure whether to say it was fortunate or unfortunate.
Qi Jingsheng always thought that this was Tang Shishi’s husband until he heard Tang Yanyan say that this was her eldest son. Qi Jingsheng was surprised that with Tang Shishi’s age, she could never have such a big son. Then, in other words, did she marry the other person as a second wife of a widower?
Even a very old man.
Qi Jingsheng did not know how he should react. While he was feeling sorry in his heart, he also felt unreconciled. It would not matter if she married better, but the other person was obviously not as good as him, then why did not she stay at the beginning?
Tang Yanyan thought she covered up well but in fact, the gloating in her tone could not be more obvious. Zhao Zixun withdrew his attention from Qi Jingsheng and was about to make a correction, but he was interrupted by Tang Shishi, “Yes, it’s a pity that I haven’t brought Zixun and others back to my parents family home since I got married. Zixun, this is Qi Jingsheng, our good elder brother of our family. He passed the provincial imperial examination last year and is now my brother-in-law. Brother Qi, this is Zixun, my husband’s eldest son.”
Zhao Zixun was not stupid. He was interrupted by Tang Shishi again and again. Now, how could he not understand that Tang Shishi did not want him to clarify, or she deliberately let them misunderstand that she married an old man?
It was true that Jing Wang was older than Tang Shi, but he was not that old, was he? Zhao Zixun felt helpless, but he could not compete with Tang Shishi enthusiastically. He could only follow Tang Shishi’s wishes and quietly watch Tang Shishi being mischief.
Tang Shishi herself admitted it which made Tang Yanyan even prouder. Tang Yanyan, as if she had won a great battle, took Tang Shishi’s hand intimately and asked a question which she already knew the answer, “Elder sister, what are you doing in Jinyi Pavilion?”
Tang Shishi smiled. In front of men, Tang Shishi was always willing to show her beautiful side. Tang Shishi patiently accompanied Tang Yanyan to play the drama and said, “I have urgent needs tomorrow. I want to buy some ready-made clothes.”
“Elder sister, are you still buying ready-made clothes?” Tang Yanyan showed a look of surprise, then stomped her foot in distress, and said, “It’s a pity that most of my clothes are made-to-order, and I don’t know how to buy ready-made clothes. However, I have a cloth business under my name, and I know a lot about Jinling brocade. Elder sister, what do you like? Do not hesitate to ask the shopkeeper to take it out. I’ll buy it for you.”
Zhao Zixun immediately said, “No need.”
This was simply a joke. Why did someone else need to pay for something that Wangfei of Jing Wang’s mansion like? But Tang Shishi put out her hand to stop Zhao Zixun’s words and said with a smile, “Zixun, you don’t know anything. My second younger sister is not only the most favored second young lady of the Tang family but also the biggest young mistress of the Qi family. The Tang and Qi families are all engaged in merchant, and they can monopolize half of the canal business when added up together. My second younger sister has a lot of money and this small money is nothing in her eyes.”
Tang Yanyan was praised by others and became increasingly ecstatic. She immediately insisted, “That’s right. It’s rare for my elder sister to come to the capital. As the host, how can I let my sister spend money? Take whatever my sister likes. It’s my treat today.”
Tang Shishi said “Good” with all smiles and then went to choose clothes. She was not lenient at all as she specially chose the expensive ones.
Zhao Zixun was really helpless following behind Tang Shishi. How should she be an adult but still did such childish things?
Zhao Zixun felt amused in his helplessness. He suddenly had a strange feeling. Was this how it felt like when father indulged in Tang Shishi’s mischievous?
Obviously, this was a stupid thing, but she liked it. As long as he could see her smiling face, it did not seem to matter what she did.
Zhao Zixun was stunned and could not help but wonder, without noticing that Tang Shishi had already chosen her clothes. Tang Yanyan was a bit painful when she heard the bill, but when she thought that Tang Shishi was married to an old man and was having an awfully bad time now, Tang Yanyan suddenly felt that even if Tang Shishi cheated some money, what harm could it do?
Tang Yanyan gritted her teeth and said straightforwardly, “Good, all these are recorded in my account, and then you can go to Qi family to get paid.”
“Refreshing.” Tang Shishi said with a smile, “Second younger sister is really favored in the Qi family. She can spend so much money easily. It can be seen that the Qi family’s mother-in-law must like you very much.”
Tang Yanyan thought of her mother-in-law and smiled slightly. Her mother-in-law has always disliked her extravagance, especially now that the whole family wanted to transform into an official family and was overly concerned about their reputation. If such a thing was passed to her mother-in-law’s ears, probably her mother-in-law would scold her again.
Qi Jingsheng has been quiet all along. When he heard this, he said softly, “Mother misses you a lot too.”
Tang Shishi was startled with a look of nostalgia in her eyes. Yes ah, Madam Qi and Lin Wanxi were boudoir friends. They have been childhood friends for many years. Madam Qi pitied her best friend for a bad life, so she betrothed Qi Jingsheng with Tang Shishi. Unexpectedly due to the unexpected turn of events, no one got what they wished.
Speaking of Madam Qi, Tang Shishi’s eyes were much calmer. She could lie to everyone, but she could not say a bad thing to those who really loved her. Tang Shishi’s tone turned lower and asked gently, “How is Madam been doing in these years?”
Qi Jingsheng said softly, “Everything is fine with mother.”
Tang Shishi did not know what to say to Qi Jingsheng, so she could only say indifferently, “When I’m free later, I’ll go to the Qi family to visit madam in person.”
Zhao Zixun frowned secretly, producing a strange sense of seeing a reunion of ill-fated mandarin ducks that were separated for a long time as if the affair was still there, but the people have changed. Was this man simply Tang Shishi’s elder brother and brother-in-law? Why did he feel there was more than that?
When Tang Yanyan saw that Tang Shishi and Qi Jingsheng were going to reminisce about the past, she was immediately vigilant and squeezed between Tang Shishi and Qi Jingsheng quietly, blocking their sight. Tang Yanyan smiled and said warmly, “Elder sister, you haven’t gone home after returning to the capital, right? It just so happens that Brother Qi and I are going back to my parent’s home tomorrow, so let’s go together.”
Tang Shishi thought for a while and said, “It’s not impossible. But I’m not free tomorrow morning. How about tomorrow afternoon?”
“No problem.” Tang Yanyan responded, “Then it’s agreed. Brother Qi and I will be waiting for you at home tomorrow. Sister must come!”
“Good.” Tang Shishi smiled and motioned Dujuan to note down the address. After Tang Yanyan stated the address of the Tang family to Tang Shishi, she was satisfied and said, “It’s getting late. Brother Qi still needs to review his lesson when he gets back. We have to go home. Big sister, it’s a deal. I’ll see you at the Tang family tomorrow.”
Tang Shishi smiled while watching Tang Yanyan pull Qi Jingsheng away, “Great ah, see you tomorrow.”
When the Qi family’s figures could not be seen, Zhao Zixun asked helplessly, “Why Wangfei did not say it clearly?”
Tang Shishi snorted softly and said confidently, “I’m willing to.”
Zhao Zixun felt the helplessness for the first time. He could not do anything to this arrogant and willful Wangfei and could only ask, “Wangfei, then have you had enough fun now?”
“Pretty much.” Tang Shishi waved her hand and said, “It’s rare for someone to treat me. Let’s go back to the mansion.”