IBTBTED Chapter 111
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 111 Ruthless
Since seeing Tang Shishi, Lin Wanxi also missed Tang Shishi’s child. Fortunately, the prince’s mansion sent a carriage to pick up Lin Wanxi to the mansion as a guest within the next few days.
The carriage of the Jing Wang mansion was still very low-key, but no one in the Tang family dared to despise it this time. Tang Mingzhe reluctantly watched Lin Wanxi get into the carriage. During this period, he mentioned several times to let concubine Su accompany Lin Wanxi, but the maid of the mansion refused.
The maids were not afraid of Tang Mingzhe. Before going out, Wangfei gave special instructions to pick up Madam Lin and ignore the rest. The maids knew that the Tang family favored the concubines and neglected the wife. When Wangfei was not married, she suffered a lot from them. Therefore, the maids had no happy faces looking at Tang Mingzhe and concubine Su.
Tang Mingzhe regretfully watched Lin Wanxi leave in distress. The more Tang Mingzhe thought about it, the more regretful he became. When Tang Shishi came last time, why did not he recognize that this was the best redwood? He only looked at whether the carriage was gorgeous or not, and whether the carriage was big or not. Seeing Tang Shishi’s carriage was unremarkable, he felt that Tang Shishi’s husband’s family had no money but neglected that there was no sound when the carriage was moving, and the carriage was too stable.
It turned out that the genuinely rich people did not care about money at all. The things that ordinary people were eager to show off to the world were just daily necessities for them. Tang Mingzhe hated that he understood it too late as they had offended Tang Shishi beforehand. Now was even worse, Tang Mingzhe could not even visit his grandson.
Tang Mingzhe sighed regretfully when he thought of the heroic, handsome, upright yet not estranged Jing Wang. What a pity as it was such a good opportunity to make friends.
Lin Wanxi sat in the carriage for a long time before she felt the carriage was entering the mansion. Lin Wanxi lamented silently in her heart that the Tang family was so far away from the Jing Wang mansion.
Every inch of land in the capital was worth every inch of gold. People were very particular in what kind of place they lived in.
A maid’s respectful voice came from outside, “Madam, the prince’s mansion is here. Please get off the carriage.”
Lin Wanxi lifted the curtain to get off the carriage. Just as she stood firmly, she saw Tang Shishi coming out of the second gate while carrying her skirt, and running toward Lin Wanxi, “Mother, you are finally here!”
Lin Wanxi was startled when she saw Tang Shishi’s action. She quickly shouted at Tang Shishi to stop her, “I’m right here. What are you anxious about?”
Tang Shishi did not care about this. She took Lin Wanxi’s arm and walked towards the courtyard with her mother, “I’m just happy to meet my mother. Mother, come on. Gao’er has been waiting for you a long time ago.”
Of course, Lin Wanxi also wanted to see her daughter earlier, but she heard from concubine Su that officials had strict rules. Moreover, Tang Shishi was still married to an imperial family, so there were only more rules to pay attention to. Lin Wanxi lowered her voice to ask Tang Shishi, “I heard that there are a lot of rules in the palace, and there are also special upbringing momos. You are Wangfei. I don’t know how many pairs of eyes are watching you inside and outside. If you have slight misconduct, I’m afraid others will scold you.”
“What’s this?” Tang Shishi did not care at all and said, “This is not the Imperial Palace. I can do whatever I want in our own mansion. Besides Wangye, who else can control me?”
“But this is the prince’s mansion after all, and there are many people besides Wangye. You must guard against other people’s gossip.”
“Mother, you can rest assured.” Tang Shishi grasped Lin Wanxi’s hand vigorously and said, “It’s hard to say about other mansions, but in our mansion, Wangye really has the final say. No one dared to point me out. You can rest assured wholeheartedly.”
Lin Wanxi was still skeptical as this was completely different from her past experience. When a new wife married into her husband’s family, one would not serve in fear. She could only enjoy the blessing of her daughter-in-law a little after she got older when her children married and had children. Lin Wanxi had lived for so long, and this family was the only one who had no scruples like Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi led Lin Wanxi into the main courtyard. Lin Wanxi watched all the way and saw the surrounding cornices and arches, carved beams, and painted rafters. Although the surrounding plants looked a little withered, they did not hide the exquisiteness and richness architecture of the buildings. However, the most imperial style was not these courtyards, but the maids and servants who were scattered in the meantime, so many people walked around without a sound at all. Everyone was fast and light, elegant like paper silhouettes in a painting that could be blown away by a gust of wind.
Lin Wanxi was amazed by just looking at this. This was the prince’s mansion where Tang Shishi lived. And Tang Shishi was still complaining to Lin Wanxi in a low voice, “Jinling is a small place, and this mansion is more than half smaller than ours in Xiping. No one has lived here in the past ten years, and many places have declined. After the New Year, we have to find someone to repair it.”
Lin Wanxi was surprised and could not help but ask, “Is this still bad?”
“Compared to the one we lived in before, it’s really lacking.” While talking, they arrived at the main courtyard. Tang Shishi pulled Lin Wanxi into the door and said, “Let’s not talk about these. Let’s go see Gao’er first. Gao’er, see who is here?”
In the main courtyard, the maids had long lined up. When they met Tang Shishi and Lin Wanxi, they saluted in perfect order, “Pay respect to Wangfei. Pay respect to Old Madam.”
Lin Wanxi suddenly saw so many people kneeling to her, she was shocked, and subconsciously wanted to help them up, “Please get up quickly, you must not.”
Since the master did not say anything, how dared the maids got up? They lowered their heads and respectfully said, “This slave servant is greeting Old Madam. Old Madam is blessed.”
Tang Shishi was already used to these scenes. She walked past the crowd in a long skirt and said casually, “You’re excused, let’s all get up.”
“Thank you, Wangfei. Thank you, Old Madam.”
Lin Wanxi walked through the cross corridor and then into the main hall. Until she entered the door, her mind was dizzy. Inside the door, the wet nurse was already standing with Zhao Zigao in her arms. When she saw Tang Shishi, she bowed, “Pay respect to Wangfei. Blessing to Old Madam.”
When Zhao Zigao saw Tang Shishi, he immediately smiles and struggled to get Tang Shishi to carry him. Tang Shishi reached out her hand to carry him, smiling with disgust, “Look at you, drool all over. This is your grandmother. Greet grandmother quickly.”
Zhao Zigao was used to seeing people since he was a child and was not afraid of strangers. When seeing Lin Wanxi, he stared at Lin Wanxi with black jade eyes, suddenly grinned, and made babbling sounds in his mouth.
The maids laughed and joked, “Wangfei, little Junwang is calling grandmother.”
Lin Wanxi could not believe this was the reality since from entering the mansion to now as if she was in the clouds. It was not until she saw Zhao Zigao that she was finally sure that it was real. As soon as Zhao Zigao smiled, Lin Wanxi’s heart was about to be sprouted. She no longer cared about the rules of the prince’s mansion and approached him, “This is Gao’er?”
“Yes.” Tang Shishi said and carried Zhao Zigao to Lin Wanxi, “Gao’er, go look for grandmother.”
Lin Wanxi quickly caught him. She had not held a child for many years. Suddenly she came into contact with a soft, lotus root-like child. She was both moved and sad, and said, “He is the same as you when you were a child but stronger than you.”
Tang Shishi sat on the arhat couch and smile when she heard the words, “Really? He was eight catties when he was born and now, he is more than twenty catties at ten months old. If he continues to grow bigger, I won’t be able to hold him anymore.”
“Boys are better to be stronger.” Lin Wanxi held Zhao Zigao and asked Tang Shishi some nourishment questions, and Tang Shishi answered them one by one. The topic of parenting was trivial and yet real, Lin Wanxi slowly calmed down and was no longer restrained.
What about the imperial nobles? In the end, this was her daughter’s home.
Seeing this, the maids and the wet nurses quietly left the west secondary hall and gave the mother and daughter the space to talk. When they were in the Tang family a few days ago, Tang Shishi could not ask anything. With no one around today, Tang Shishi could rest assured to inquire about Lin Wanxi’s affairs over the years, “Mother, have they treated you badly in the past few years when I’m not at home?”
“No.” Lin Wanxi described the past lightly to her daughter, “Same as usual, there is nothing wrong with it. I don’t like to socialize with people, so it’s good to be peaceful and quiet.”
Although Lin Wanxi said this, how could Tang Shishi not know her father’s attitude? Tang Shishi was embezzled by others when she was in the Tang house. After Tang Shishi left home, probably no one would take Lin Wanxi seriously.
Tang Shishi looked cold and asked, “Mom, did Tang Mingzhe and concubine Su do anything to you? If you have any grievances, don’t hesitate to tell me. I’m not afraid of them now.”
“This child, how can you talk like that? That’s your father.” Lin Wanxi gently swung Zhao Zigao’s little hand and said softly, “It’s really nothing. After you were elected to the court by the imperial envoy, they were afraid that you would be favored in the palace and didn’t dare to do anything to me. Later, Qi Jingsheng passed as Juren. First, your father wanted to get closer to the Qi family, and second, he wanted to come to the capital to make some inquiries about your movements, so we moved to Jinling together. Later, before he found out anything, the second young lady met you on the street.”
Tang Shishi was a little relieved when she heard this. She knew that Lin Wanxi must have pretended that everything went well, but as long as Tang Mingzhe and concubine Su had scruples and dared not continue to neglect Lin Wanxi, then that would be enough. Tang Shishi did not expect Tang Mingzhe to find out his conscience and treat Lin Wanxi as his legitimate wife.
Lin Wanxi asked, “What about you? What have you experienced over the years? How did you get into Jing Wang’s mansion?”
Tang Shishi’s eyes moved slightly and smiled unhurriedly, “It is a long story. After I entered the palace, I was favored by Empress Dowager. After three years of training in the palace, I was sent to serve Jing Wang. Later, I became Jing Wangfei which is natural.”
Lin Wanxi did not understand the grudges between Jing Wang and Empress Dowager. All her knowledge of the imperial family came from the play. Lin Wanxi followed the description of the play and came out with, “Empress Dowager should be Jing Wang’s mother, right? It turned out that the marriage was arranged by Empress Dowager which is good. Although Empress Dowager favors you, you should not be overly arrogant. You have to enter the palace diligently and serve Empress Dowager more often.”
Lin Wanxi earnestly taught her daughter how to have a good relationship with her mother-in-law based on her past experience. However, how could the imperial family be the same as the ordinary people? Tang Shishi did not say anything and responded with a smile, “I’ll remember. Mother, don’t worry.”
Both mother and daughter said many things about after their separation. Slowly, as if these six years have been compensated by warmth, they were still the mother and daughter who depended on each other. After learning about the past, Tang Shishi asked Lin Wanxi, “Mother, did Tang Mingzhe tell you anything after I left with Wangye?”
“This child.” Lin Wanxi glared at Tang Shishi and said in disapproval, “That’s your father. How can you call your father’s name directly?”
Tang Shishi did not have any admiration for Tang Mingzhe, but Lin Wanxi was a conventional wife who regarded her husband as Heaven all her life. Tang Shishi showed consideration to Lin Wanxi’s mood and reluctantly changed her mouth, “How did my father deal with concubine Su?”
“What can he do?” Lin Wanxi sighed slightly, “Su has been with him for nearly 20 years. She has given birth to children and presided over the family affairs of the Tang family. People have feelings. How can Old Master really betray Su? He took back Su’s housekeeper rights and let me manage it. I haven’t paid attention to family affairs for 20 years and don’t even recognize people. So, how can I manage it? I said I won’t. After making things difficult for a while, Old Master asked Su to hold the pair card key for me temporarily and then gave it to me when I became familiar with the servants.”
Tang Shishi did not know what to say after listening to her. Lin Wanxi was really… never mind. Lin Wanxi had always been gentle and had been like this for half her life. How could Tang Shishi expect her to change her temper in just six years? Tang Shishi could not live for Lin Wanxi no matter how much she cared about her mother. Since Lin Wanxi was not used to fighting or grabbing, then just let her have her own way. Tang Shishi would just think of another way.
Tang Shishi thought for a while and asked, “Mother, the son of concubine Bai. I remember his name is Tang Wenxuan. Is it time to talk about his marriage now?”
Lin Wanxi did not know why her daughter mentioned concubine Bai and replied truthfully, “That’s right. The second young master is fourteen this year, and the eldest young master is seventeen. After the New Year, both of them should be talking about marriage. Old Master is looking for a legitimate wife for the two young masters. Unfortunately, the Tang family has just arrived in Jinling and doesn’t know which family’s young lady can get married to. Why do you suddenly remember to ask this?”
In addition to concubine Su, Tang Mingzhe had several other concubines. Among them, concubine Bai gave birth to the second young master of the Tang family named Tang Wenxuan who was just behind concubine Su’s son, Tang Wenrui.
Tang Shishi thought deeply and said, “It’s nothing. I just think about it casually. Mother, don’t worry about concubine Su’s son, but when it’s time for Tang Wenxuan to talk about marriage, remember to pay attention and don’t let father decide easily.”
Lin Wanxi did not know what was going on and replied, “Yes, I will pay attention.”
Actually, Tang Shishi did not put any hope in Lin Wanxi when she said this. With Lin Wanxi’s soft temperament, she would lead astray by others even with a little bit of trouble. So, how could she check on Tang Wenxuan? When Tang Shishi sent Lin Wanxi back later, she planned on sending someone to bring a message to concubine Bai. Lin Wanxi could not figure it out, but concubine Bai was a smart person. Presumably, concubine Bai could understand Tang Shishi’s hint and knew what to do with it.
Lin Wanxi was not the housekeeper’s material, but Tang Shishi could not let the housekeeping power continue to be held in concubine Su’s hands. Since Lin Wanxi could not manage it, then just find someone who could.
Both concubine Su and Lin Wanxi were old. It was time for the Tang family to marry a powerful young daughter-in-law to share worries for their elders.
Lin Wanxi looked at Zhao Zigao who was nourished until white and plump on the couch and somehow remembered Tang Yanyan, “Only after you are married and have a child, then I can be completely relieved. Take advantage of your youth, good health, and energy to give birth to more children. It will be troublesome if you keep dragging on like the second young lady.”
When Tang Shishi heard this, she raised her eyebrows slightly and asked, “How have Tang Yanyan been doing these years after marrying into the Qi family?”
“She has become Madam Juren, which is naturally good.” Lin Wanxi was an honest person and said honestly and sincerely, “It’s a pity that she hasn’t had children for several years. Madam Qi has been complaining to me several times. She felt sorry for you every time she mentioned you.”
Tang Shishi was silent and did not answer this. Lin Wanxi knew that Tang Shishi was married now, and it was meaningless to talk about the past, but Qi Jingsheng was the one she saw since she was a child. The two childhood sweethearts had not been able to achieve positive results for many years. It was hard to calm down when she recalled it, “Jingsheng this child… is a sincere man. After you enter the palace, he often comes to the Tang family to see me for fear that I will be neglected for a lack of food and clothing. He is a good boy but unfortunately, both of you don’t have enough fate.”
Tang Shishi lowered her head and smiled, “He became a Juren as he wished and also married the most favored second young lady of the Tang family. He is in high spirits and making great progress. He will be a Jinshi in two years and live a good life. What are you doing by mentioning the past?”
Lin Wanxi wanted to say something but then hesitated while looking at her daughter. She finally sighed and said nothing. Passionate was always annoyed by ruthlessness while ruthlessness could still move people’s feelings. Tang Shishi like this was also very good.