It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 123 Fight Back
After half a month later, Tang Shishi still stayed in the room to nurse her baby with peace of mind. The imperial physician came twice and said that her pulse was very stable and she no longer needed to stay in bed all the time. As long as she was not too vigorous, it was no harm to walk on the ground for a while.
Tang Shishi breathed a sigh of relief that she was finally able to walk around. However, the maids still did not let her move too much. Basically, she could only walk a few steps before stopping by the maids and helped her to sit on the couch.
Tang Shishi stayed behind closed doors to nourish her unborn baby, and Zhou Shunhua was recuperating on the other side. It was just that they were in a completely different state.
On the day of Zhou Shunhua’s miscarriage, Tang Shishi did not go over but sent a gift to express her heartfelt wishes. Naturally, the things that were sent out could not be inquired again, but Tang Shishi knew that all the medicinal ingredients she took were thrown away without opening them.
It looked like both Zhou Shunhua and Zhao Zixun hated them very much. Tang Shishi pretended not to know, and still ate and drank well like before while nursing her own unborn baby comfortably. Dujuan and Xique also returned. They were frightened and knocked with a lot of bruises that day. They were supposed to come back to serve the next day but Tang Shishi sent them back and let them recuperate for another five days before they came back to work.
It has entered the second month. The spring in Jinling was earlier than in the Northwest. After a few drizzled, the weather got warmer day by day. It rained last night, and the sunshine was great today. Tang Shishi leaned against the soft couch at the south window and listened to the maids talked about the movement in the mansion.
“Wangfei, the Tang family sent someone here. The housekeeper sent the newly arrived brocades to the mansion and wanted to send their regards to you and little Junwang. Wangfei, do you want to see them?”
Tang Shishi sighed that there really were no secrets in the capital. She did not know where the Tang family got the news from and tried to beat around the bushes to inquire about her situation. Tang Shishi said, “Tell them that everything is fine with Gao’er and me. Tell them to be cautious as harmony makes money, and don’t fight against others. I have been busy taking care of Cefei recently and can’t spare my hands, so I won’t see them for time being.”
Dujuan responded and told the young maidservant to go outside to pass the message to the Tang family. Tang Shishi was not in the mood to deal with the people of the Tang family now. She was still recuperating and could not strain her mind and body. It was better to wait for another month and then send a message to the Tang family and her mother after her baby was completely stable.
Therefore, Tang Shishi used Zhou Shunhua as an excuse to send the Tang family away. However, Tang Shishi also remembered Zhou Shunhua after mentioning her. Tang Shishi asked, “How is Cefei Zhou these days?”
Dujuan curled her lips, lowered her voice to say quietly, “Who knows. She is too pretentious. The last time I deliver things for Wangfei, she didn’t even show her face. However, according to the maid serving across the courtyard, Cefei Zhou has lost a lot of weight these days, and her face has become thinner.”
She must be in a bad mood after the long-awaited child miscarried. Tang Shishi sighed and asked, “Miscarriage hurts her body. Cefei Zhou needs to make up for it properly. Did she eat those bird’s nest ginseng that I sent over?”
Dujuan looked disdainful and shook her head slowly. Tang Shishi was not surprised by this answer. She still looked like a caring mother and said, “Cefei Zhou may have a bad appetite. However, with the supplement from Shizi, I don’t think there will be anything lacking for Cefei Zhou. Dujuan, you can send a message to the warehouse that no matter what Cefei Zhou wants recently, they don’t have to inform me and just take it directly.”
Dujuan was not satisfied as Zhou Shunhua colluded with outsiders to frame Tang Shishi and why did they still treat Zhou Shunhua so nicely? Tang Shishi insisted and raised her chin to Dujuan, “Go quickly.”
Dujuan went reluctantly. After she left, Xique sighed, “Wangfei is really a kind person. Regardless of the past grievances, you still have a kind heart. No wonder Wangye likes Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi laughed and watched Zhao Zigao crawling beside her. She caressed her lower belly with her right hand, and said softly, “Just to accumulate merits for the children.”
There was no final conclusion about Zhou Shunhua’s collusion with the spy. Firstly, Zhao Chengjun accidentally aborted Zhou Shunhua’s child when he punished her that day. Thus, Zhao Chengjun could not convict Zhou Shunhua. Secondly, she was afraid of Empress Dowager Yao.
Everyone could guess that it was Empress Dowager Yao’s deed that day, but Empress Dowager Yao did not admit it. Who would dare to say it? Everyone was afraid of Empress Dowager Yao behind their back and could only endure it silently. Although there was no punishment on the surface, everyone had an extremely bad impression of Zhou Shunhua in private. In particular, the old people who had served Jing Wang’s mansion for a long time found that Zhou Shunhua was not pleasing to their eyes all over.
The fox bewitched the master, eating inside and serving outside. She deserved to die! Because of this incident, everyone even criticized Zhao Zixun. On the day of the board’s punishment, Zhao Zixun did not hesitate to attack his own people to save Zhou Shunhua, and then he gave Zhao Chengjun a face. When the aides and generals in the outer courtyard heard this, their hearts were extremely subtle.
This was just simply Heaven helping Tang Shishi. Once she was an outsider and Zhao Zixun was their own. Especially in the eyes of those officials and aides, Shizi was their little master that they vowed their loyalty to, while Tang Shishi was a beauty trap with an ulterior motive which especially sent by the imperial court to separate Wangye and Shizi. Once Tang Shishi has the reputation of a disaster beauty, no matter what she did, she was always wrong. Now only a year later, the situation has completely reversed.
Tang Shishi was the “gentle and sincere” Wangfei and the biological mother of little Junwang. Whereas for Shizi, he dared to fight against Wangye because of a woman. Liu Ji’s attitude was very clear from the beginning. His mind was all on Zhao Zigao and only maintained face for Zhao Zixun. Now, more and more people were looking at Zhao Zigao. After all, this was their own.
Tang Shishi did not need to do anything as they divided themselves.
Tang Shishi was in a good spirit when there was a happy event. When she was happy, she wanted to find something unhappy for others. Holding the posture of a caring mother, Tang Shishi said to the maids, “I don’t know what’s wrong recently that there have been frequent mishaps in the mansion, and Shizi has lost two children. As Wangfei, I failed to manage the mansion well, and let the descendants of the mansion die frequently. This is really my fault.”
The maids consoled, “Wangfei, don’t blame yourself. This has nothing to do with you. Perhaps, the fate of Shizi’s heir has not arrived yet.”
Tang Shishi sighed, “Shizi is not young anymore. Although he did not get married later, I don’t know why he always has no children. To me, there’s no need to pay attention to legitimate or concubine born at all at the moment, as long as they can give birth whether it’s a male or female, it’s already very good. Unfortunately, none of Shizi’s children have any fate with Jing Wang’s mansion.”
The wet nurse was a person found from the outside. Unlike the maids who were used to serving in the wealthy family courtyard, she blurted out, “Shizi has no son, but Wangye is at his prime of life. Since Shizi’s courtyard doesn’t follow his heart, then Wangfei and Wangye will just have a few more children.”
The maids and old women all kept silent. Tang Shishi looked down at Zhao Zigao and said nothing. The wet nurse slowly realized that she seemed to have said something wrong and suddenly exuded cold sweats.
Tang Shishi wiped Zhao Zigao’s mouth, and said softly, “Never mind. Since Shizifei is not here, I have to worry more about these matters. Cefei Zhou has just lost her child and she is in grief. In addition, the miscarriage hurts her body greatly and needs some time to recuperate her body. In a while, pick two upright beautiful maids with good temperaments and send them to serve Shizi.”
Nowadays, the big and small things in the mansion were just a word from Tang Shishi. Besides, it was perfectly justified for the legitimate mother to give her son people. The old woman took the order, saluted, and said, “Yes. Wangfei thought so thoroughly.”
Tang Shishi sighed, “Nowadays, the backyard of Shizi is in turmoil. If I don’t care, who else will care? Xique, go call the imperial physician over to check beauty Zhou’s pulse and then write some prescriptions for recuperation. If Cefei Zhou doesn’t believe in the tonic I sent, then she should believe in the prescriptions by the imperial physician, right?”
The wet nurse was so touched, “Wangfei, you are so kindhearted. The mothers-in-law in our neighborhood can’t wait to treat their daughters-in-law as a cow and horse. You’re so good. Your daughters-in-law contradicted you, and you still try your best to find an imperial physician for her. It’s the young lady’s three lifetimes of virtue to be able to be your daughter-in-law.”
Tang Shishi pursed her lips and smiled. She listened with satisfaction to other people praising her while being modest. Tang Shishi’s performance was so fulfilling and signaled to Xique, “Take my nameplate to the Imperial Hospital to invite an imperial physician over. Imperial Physician Xu specializes in gynecology. If Imperial Physician Xu did not go out for consultation, try to ask Imperial Physician Xu to come over.”
After Tang Shishi finished giving instructions, she did not care about the rest. The scenes that belonged to her had already ended. As for whether the imperial physician could be invited, and whatever he said after the invitation, it has nothing to do with Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi leaned on the soft pillow, basking under the sun lazily, and watching leisurely her adorable son crawl around. There were also maids around who were eager to give her food and drink for fear of her getting tired. The afternoon was comfortable and had a good hint of peace and quiet for some years. After basking under the sun for a while, Tang Shishi felt sleepy.
She propped up her forehead and yawned lazily. She was thinking about whether to go to sleep. Then, someone opened the outside door. Tang Shishi turned her head and saw Xique coming back.
Tang Shishi was surprised and asked, “Why did you come back so soon? Where’s the imperial physician?”
Although Xique was a maid, there would be a manservant to pick up and drop off when she went out. If the carriage was inconvenient, there would be a small palanquin to get around. She went to invite an imperial physician and it would take her a lot of time just for the round trip.
Xique saluted and replied, “The Imperial Hospital is too busy and won’t go out for consultations today.”
Not going out for consultations? Tang Shishi felt amiss instinctively, and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Xique looked around and whispered, “I heard that His Majesty accidentally fell into the lake when he went to the back lake to play today. After he was rescued, His Majesty has a fever. Now, the imperial physician is in the Qianqing Palace guarding His Majesty.”
It turned out that Emperor fell into the water. Tang Shishi was quite speechless. Emperor was ridiculously playful and whimsical. At that time during the Lantern Festival, Emperor seemed to have played without boundaries and kept running outwards. Today was even better, he went boating and fell in the water himself.
Since Emperor has a fever, they could never rob people of the emperor. Tang Shishi said, “Since His Majesty is ill, we shouldn’t go to the Imperial Hospital to cause trouble. Huangli, take out my string of Buddhist beads. Since I can’t enter the palace, I’ll pray for His Majesty in the mansion.”
This afternoon, Tang Shishi spent her time fiddling with the Buddhist beads. Tang Shishi knew that the movements in the mansion would not be spread outside, but in order not to be found in a suspicious position, she had better pretend since the little Emperor was ill.
Tang Shishi pretended accordingly. For ordinary people, fever was not a trivial matter, and any carelessness would lead to death. But Emperor was not among the ordinary people. He was surrounded by the best medical resources in the country. He just fell into the water and would recover completely in a few days.
Empress Dowager Yao and the Imperial Hospital including many officials thought so. But no one expected that Emperor’s illness had not improved for a long time but turned for the worse.
Empress Dowager Yao threw the Buddha beads to the ground angrily, the string broke, and the Buddhist beads soaked in sandalwood bounced back and forth on the golden bricks.
The people serving inside and outside all bowed their heads together, and even a needle dropped in the huge Qianqing Palace could be heard. Empress Dowager Yao’s anger was still not relieved after throwing the Buddhist beads. She stood up and pointed at the imperial physicians scold angrily, “Quack, you’re a group of quacks! Zhun’er just fell into the water and was rescued not long after. How could it be possible that a strange cold entered his body, and there is no way to recover? He is only fourteen and young, how could he not last for half a month?”
The imperial physicians bowed deeply and saluted for a long time, “This humble servant is incompetent.”
Empress Dowager Yao walked up and down as if she were in a trance and kept muttering, “I know that all of you must have poisoned him to kill my grandson. Tell me, did Zhao Chengjun instruct all of you to do this? How many benefits did he give you?”
The imperial physicians lowered their eyes, and no one spoke. First Assistant Yang stood at the side calmly as if he did not hear the dangerous remarks of Empress Dowager Yao. Seeing that Empress Dowager Yao was almost calm, he stepped forward with his hands cupped together and said, “Empress Dowager, I naturally hope that His Majesty will be healthy and recover as before. However, the current condition of His Majesty doesn’t look very good. To avoid chaos, Empress Dowager Niangniang should start preparing for the future events.”