IBTBTED Chapter 129
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 129 Taizi
In the evening, the palace maid reported at the door, “Niangniang, His Majesty is here.”
Tang Shishi stood up to welcome Zhao Chengjun, “Your Majesty.”
Zhao Chengjun had walked into Zhongcui Palace. He held Tang Shishi’s arm and said, “There are no outsiders here, you don’t need to do these false etiquettes. Have you eaten the evening meal yet?”
Tang Shishi nodded. Zhao Chengjun had been very busy every day, and the palace was different from the prince’s mansion. There were many rules, so Tang Shishi and Zhao Chengjun ate at their own palace for the past two days.
The image of the scene of him coming back to have a meal with her had not been seen for a long time.
Zhao Chengjun was relieved when he heard that. He also asked about Zhao Zigao’s situation and Tang Shishi replied one by one, “He is still the same. He is a big little mischievous child and wants to touch everything. However, the advantage is that he is not picky about food and ate every meal obediently. He ate a lot tonight and was sleepy after a short while. The wet nurse has already taken him back to bed.”
Zhao Chengjun nodded, “That’s good. I’m busy arranging the affairs of the court recently, and I’ve neglected both of you. It’ll be fine after this busy period.”
Zhao Chengjun forcing the Emperor to abdicate seemed to go smoothly, but he actually spent a lot of effort in private. In this process, some had made meritorious service, some had resisted, and some had remained silent. Now that Zhao Chengjun rose to power, the meritorious officials should be rewarded and those who did not cooperate could not simply be killed. The most important thing was the silent majority.
The roots of the court were intertwined, a slight change would affect everything else. The court could not be cleaned up so quickly. Tang Shishi understood that Zhao Chengjun was busy, but when he said that it would be fine after this busy period, Tang Shishi did not believe it either.
After being busy with the enthronement, there might be a rebellion by the vassal monarch, and Zhao Chengjun would be busy suppressing the rebellion. When the war subsided, there would be spring plowing and autumn planting, natural and man-made disasters, droughts, and floods. How could such a big country be finished busying?
Tang Shishi said, “It’s all right. Gao’er and I can eat by ourselves. Your Majesty’s state affairs are more important. You don’t have to come back especially.”
Zhao Chengjun frowned when he heard these words. He originally wanted to say something but thinking that he would not be able to get away for a while, he could not promise Tang Shishi anything at all, and he could only suppress it down again.
This was really an unsolvable difficult problem. Zhao Chengjun had the desire and plan but was powerless to realize it, so he could only change the subject and ask, “Did they make you angry when you go to the Cining Palace during the daytime?”
“No.” Tang Shishi smiled, “Empress Dowager of the West is ill. Empress Dowager of the East is in a bad mood and doesn’t want to talk to people. I went to see them and then come back. What can I be angry about?”
Zhao Chengjun looked carefully at Tang Shishi’s expression. Although she was smiling, her smile did not reach her eyes. Zhao Chengjun had seen this kind of smile on many women. When his Emperor father came to see his Imperial Concubine mother, his Imperial Concubine mother smiled like this.
Zhao Chengjun’s heart trembled at once. He had been trying his best to make up for her. Could it be that he and Tang Shishi also have to embark on the old road of the court?
Zhao Chengjun slowly calmed down. He remembered his purpose in coming today and said, “The enthronement ceremony will be in twelve more days. The Imperial Palace Bureau will come tomorrow to take your measurement. If you don’t like the details of the long-tail pheasant dress, tell them directly and let them change it as soon as possible.”
Tang Shishi was taken aback and asked, “The Empress’s long-tail pheasant dress needs to make a new one?”
“Of course.” Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s hand and said, “Unfortunately you are still pregnant this time, so the head crown should not be too heavy. I have already explained to the Imperial Palace Bureau that the cutting should not be too tight, and the accessories should not be too heavy. Everything has to depend on your body. If you feel uncomfortable, speak up quickly.”
Tang Shishi wanted to say something but then hesitated and said tactfully, “Actually, I can use the clothes I used before. There’s no need to make them now.”
Even ordinary clothes could not be made in ten days, how could the long-tail pheasant dress make in time? It was rather harsh for them. The Imperial Palace Bureau must have had Yao Pei’er’s ceremonial dress when she was the Empress. In Tang Shishi’s opinion, it was fine to alter Yao Pei’er’s dress.
“How can that work?” Zhao Chengjun refused without even thinking about it and vetoed, “I promised you that I will make up for the wedding, and never let you have any regrets. I didn’t expect you to be pregnant this time too, so I can only do my best.”
Tang Shishi blinked and vaguely remembered the moment when she first got married. She complained to Zhao Chengjun that she could not invite her family when she got married. Zhao Chengjun told her that “there will be a chance to compensate”. At that time, Tang Shishi also ridiculed him for how he could have a second wedding. She did not expect that he meant this.
Tang Shishi suddenly felt a soft mess in her heart. It turned out that he had been planning these things since that time. But for a long time, Tang Shishi had been doubting whether he planned to keep his son and dispose of the mother and whether he used her to deceive Empress Dowager Yao.
Tang Shishi was moved with a guilty conscience. She sighed and said, “There’s no need. Actually, it doesn’t matter.”
Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s hand, took her to sit next to him, and said, “You are my only wife. Your wedding should be perfect, gorgeous, and magnificent. It’ll be the envy of all women in the world.”
Ordinary women would probably be very moved by these words, but Tang Shishi could not help pouring cold water on him indistinctively, “What is the use of an envious wedding? After all, it’s just a show for other people. It’s important that I have a good life.”
Zhao Chengjun did not answer her. He glanced at her faintly, and said, “Do you think I’m performing for other people?”
“I didn’t say that.” Tang Shishi immediately widened her eyes innocently. “I’m just telling the truth. Wangye, don’t frame me.”
When she was anxious, the title was changed to “Wangye.” Zhao Chengjun stretched out his hand to cover Tang Shishi’s abdomen, and sighed, “Don’t learn from your mother in the future. If you’re a son, it’s still not bad. If you’re a daughter, I’m afraid it’s hard to find a husband.”
Look at this temper. It’s too hard to please.
Tang Shishi was angry when she heard this, “What are you talking about? What’s the matter if she resembles me? How can you condemn your daughter like this even before she was born?”
Zhao Chengjun also said quietly, “I’m just telling the truth.”
Tang Shishi was so angry that she threw Zhao Chengjun’s hand away hard and went into the inner palace hall. Zhao Chengjun held back his smile, followed inside, and held Tang Shishi’s shoulder, “All right, I’m just teasing you on purpose. Don’t be angry.”
If he said not to get angry, then she should not be angry right away? Tang Shishi avoided his hand with a cold face, but how could Zhao Chengjun let her escape? Zhao Chengjun tightened his fingers, firmly clasped her shoulders, and said, “If you feel angry, let it out. Don’t hold back by yourself and be careful to hold back until it’s bad for your body. Don’t worry, our daughter was born a princess. It’s proper for her husband and her husband’s family to provide for her and coax her.”
Tang Shishi thought for a while. If this child was a daughter, she would be a princess at birth and if her temper was also big, it was indeed a disaster. Tang Shishi glared at Zhao Chengjun unhappily and said, “You have never heard people say before that they rather marry a widow than be an imperial son-in-law. If she is too temperamental and no one dares to marry her, can you still make an imperial decree to threaten them to marry the princess?”
Zhao Chengjun actually took it for granted, “How difficult can it be?”
Tang Shishi was angry and yet smiling. She hammered him hard and said angrily, “Let go. I want to take something.”
Zhao Chengjun said, “What do you want? I’ll help you.”
Zhao Chengjun paused lightly, looked at Tang Shishi, and said, “I was just joking, don’t take it seriously. Whether this baby is male or female, you don’t have to worry about finding the in-laws in the future.”
“Who told you this? I’m going to alter Gao’er clothes.”
After the two tossed for a while, Zhao Chengjun coaxed Tang Shishi back to the couch again. Zhao Chengjun sat by the lamp, watching Tang Shishi sew small clothes for Zhao Zigao intently, and said, “It’s enough to leave these things to the palace maid. The light is dim at night, so be careful to tire your eyes out.”
Tang Shishi replied without looking up, “It’s not much, I can do it myself. His skin is tender and if the thread is not trimmed properly, the clothes will easily rub his skin red. I’m always worried about handing it over to outsiders. I might as well do it myself.”
Just now, Zhao Chengjun always felt that there was an invisible estrangement. Since entering the palace, they had not been as comfortable as before. However, after making trouble for a while just now, Zhao Chengjun looked at Tang Shishi sewing clothes under the lamp at the moment and felt that everything had not changed.
Still his wife and his son. He believed that she would see his heart as time goes by, and they still have many years in the future.
Probably because of the mentioning getting married just now, Zhao Chengjun suddenly sighed with regret and said, “After the enthronement is finished, it is time to consider Zhao Zigao’s enlightenment. Among the world’s great scholars, I am only interested in Wang Taifu. What do you think?”
When Tang Shishi went to the banquet at the Wang family, she joked that she would ask Wang Taifu to continue to teach Zhao Zigao. At that time, everyone thought it was just a polite remark but unexpectedly, it turned out to be true.
Tang Shishi nodded, “If Wang Taifu is willing, naturally it would be better.”
Tang Shishi’s eyes were looking at the needle but thought to herself that Wang Taifu was the Taizi’s Taifu, who was responsible for assisting the Eastern Palace. What did he mean to ask Wang Taifu to enlighten Zhao Zigao?
It was unknown whether Zhao Chengjun had thought about these before. He continued, “After these things are over, send someone to Xiping province to pick up Lu Yufei. Zhao Zixun has a different identity now. After all, it’s not appropriate to have no legitimate wife to support the façade.”
Tang Shishi put a needle through the clothes and asked casually, “Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun are concubines, don’t need status. But if Shizifei comes, what should she be conferred as?”
Zhao Chengjun’s eyes jumped once, and he turned his head to Tang Shishi. Tang Shishi was still sewing the clothes intently, and her hair naturally fell on the side of her face which looked extremely beautiful.
Zhao Chengjun remained calm and said, “You actually reminded me. The heir to the throne is the foundation of a country. It’s time to consider establishing the Taizi after the enthronement.”
Tang Shishi passed through a long needle, pulled out the cotton thread, and gently cut it with scissors. She put down the scissors and said softly, “On the contrary, I think it’s not urgent.”
After Tang Shishi said this, she knew she had admitted it. She had selfish intentions, she wanted to help her son to the upper position and did not want to take advantage of Zhao Zixun anymore. Zhao Chengjun probably noticed it a long time ago, but he kept pretending not to know.
Neither of them pierced through this layer of paper window. Now, they were finally open and honest.
The palace hall was extremely quiet. The light made a pop sound, and the light swayed violently. Zhao Chengjun stood up and said, “There are still some memorials in Qianqing Palace that haven’t been approved yet. You sleep by yourself first, and I’ll come to see you tomorrow.”
Tang Shishi also put down the sewing basket calmly, got up to salute, and said, “Sending Your Majesty off respectfully.”
Zhao Chengjun left very late at night for the first time in history. The maids from the prince’s mansion were startled. Dujuan rushed in and asked, “Wangfei, what’s wrong? Why is His Majesty leaving?”
“There are important things to do in the Qianqing Palace.”
Dujuan was as anxious as an ant on a hot pan when she saw that Tang Shishi was completely indifferent. Dujuan struggled with herself for a while, and summoned her courage once again to ask, “Empress, why don’t you stop His Majesty from leaving? How about I go invite His Majesty back?”
Tang Shishi glanced at Dujuan lightly, “Military, state affairs, meritorious officials, which one is not more important than a woman? The most valuable thing for a person is to have self-knowledge. Where do you have the courage to dare delay the national affairs?”
Tang Shishi said these words in a bad tone, but Dujuan felt inexplicable that these were not meant for her.
It was like saying it to His Majesty.
Dujuan was puzzled, could it be that Wangfei was dissatisfied with Wangye again? Empress was already conferred, and children already have. So, what happened this time?
It was obviously only a few last stitches left, but Tang Shishi was so angry that she could not sit still and simply threw it down without finishing it. She ignored Zhao Chengjun and directly instructed the maid, “Turn off the light. I’m going to sleep.”
Tang Shishi had already bathed long ago and now she could sleep after changing her clothes. The maids looked at each other in dismay, no one dared to say too much and blew out the lights silently.
Soon, only Tang Shishi’s sleeping hall was left with light in Zhongcui Palace. Tang Shishi changed into her innerwear clothing and sent all the maids out. She dug out the book from the wardrobe and sat quietly under the lamp browsing through the book.
There was not much useful information which was the same as last time. In the book, Zhao Chengjun took by storm. This time, he replaced it with wisdom, but in the end, the uncle still seized the nephew’s throne through unrighteous means. Moreover, Zhao Chengjun was not the only son of Sejong, the original Emperor’s bloodline had been passed down. Seeing that Zhao Chengjun became the Emperor, which of those brothers would be willing?
At the moment, the news had not spread out yet. In the next few days, various vassal monarchs were about to make trouble. Although the storyline had been quite different, the general trend and the outcome of the events have never changed.
Tang Shishi closed the book, and the candlelight reflected in her eyes, half-bright, and half-dark as if there were still more words. Therefore, this time, Zhao Chengjun would still leave the Imperial Palace and personally suppressed the rebellion. So, would he still die from a hidden arrow on the expedition?
Tang Shishi was fidgeting with the table of contents page, turning it again and again, several times, and could not find any hints. This book was unlocked according to time, but in reality, Zhao Chengjun became the Emperor two years earlier than in the plot, and it was estimated that the battle would be too. Tang Shishi did not know the entire process of development or the specific date. She did not even know what happened that day. This book was Zhou Shunhua’s memoir. According to Zhou Shunhua’s reality from time to time, Tang Shishi knew that Zhao Chengjun died on the way to suppress the rebellion.
Tang Shishi held her forehead, feeling extremely tired. She did not know anything. Could it be that she could only wait helplessly for the end to come?
There was a curfew in the Imperial Palace. Once it was nightfall, the Imperial Palace was in absolute silence, so quiet that it was frightening. Zhao Chengjun stood in the shadow of Qianqing Palace and listened to the eunuch’s report, “After Majesty left… Empress soon put out the light and went to sleep.”
It was not surprising at all. Zhao Chengjun nodded and motioned him to continue.
By looking at the eunuch’s face, he was a person who had never appeared in front of anyone before. When he was placed in the crowd, his appearance was basically could be easily forgotten at a glance. He lowered his eyes and said flatly like an emotionless puppet, “Then, Empress dismissed the maids and read a book in the sleeping hall.”
“Book?” Zhao Chengjun raised his eyebrows, “What book?”
The eunuch reached out his hand to hand over a thread-bounded book with an indigo-blue cover. Looking at the cover, it had been some years.
Zhao Chengjun looked at it for a while, and picked it up slowly, his eyes resting on the top three big words.
“Biography of Shunhua”.