IBTBTED Chapter 132
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 132 Over Time
In Kunning Palace, Tang Shishi leaned on the beauty couch, massaging her waist while complaining to Dujuan, “It’s a real suffering to be pregnant in the summer.”
The summer in Jinling was already hot and it was really uncomfortable for Tang Shishi who was pregnant. Seeing this, Dujuan asked, “Niangniang, how about asking the Imperial Palace Bureau to send some ice?”
Tang Shishi was pregnant and did not dare to use ice at all, so she could only fan herself in the room. Tang Shishi thought about it and shook her head, “Forget it, it’s bad for the child to use too many cold things. I’ll just bear with it for a while.”
Dujuan hurried forward to fan Tang Shishi. She fanned gently and said, “Niangniang, since you’re not feeling well, why don’t you tell His Majesty?”
Tang Shishi snorted coldly and said eccentrically, “What’s the use of telling him? It’s still me that has to endure it.”
Just as Liu Ji approached, he heard such a sentence. Zhao Chengjun was afraid of disturbing Tang Shishi’s resting and did not let the eunuch at the door announce his arrival. However, he did not expect to run into this scene.
Liu Ji looked embarrassed and hurriedly went to look at Zhao Chengjun. He found that the master was calm as if he did not care. Liu Ji said cautiously, “Niangniang is pregnant and her temper changes quickly. She is not complaining about Your Majesty.”
There was no change on Zhao Chengjun’s face but Liu Ji was afraid that he would be angry. In fact, Zhao Chengjun was used to it a long time ago, was it not normal for him to be scolded?
Tang Shishi always found him to vent her anger whenever she was unhappy. It was normal for him, so what to fuss about?
The palace maids in Kunning Palace noticed that Zhao Chengjun was coming, and hurriedly knelt down to salute, “Pay respect to Your Majesty.”
At this time, Tang Shishi only knew that he was coming. She froze for a while on the couch and then motioned Dujuan to support her to stand up slowly. Zhao Chengjun watched her movements with trepidation, and immediately said, “Don’t move, sit down quickly.”
But this time, Tang Shishi did not sit back to the original position as before but still had to salute. Zhao Chengjun sighed in his heart, stepped forward to hold Tang Shishi’s arm, and forcibly stopped her movement, “Sit down.”
Tang Shishi snorted from her nose, and said bluntly, “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Dujuan stood at her side and saluted. She looked at Tang Shishi and then looked at Zhao Chengjun quietly. She was not sure whether to mediate the situation. Empress looked like this… it did not seem that she could talk softly well. If Dujuan stayed behind, she could see an opportunity to rescue the storm. If she retreated, maybe Empress would anger His Majesty away again.
When Dujuan hesitated, Liu Ji cleared his voice to signal to everyone to get out with his eyes. Dujuan was reluctant but was dragged away by the palace maids.
Seeing that Zhao Chengjun drove the palace maids away as soon as he came in, Tang Shishi snorted softly and broke away from Zhao Chengjun’s hand. She sat down slowly, and asked, “Your Majesty chase people out as soon as you come in. What do you want to do?”
Zhao Chengjun did not care that Tang Shishi shook off his hand. He was afraid that she would pull her waist. He still came forward to help her to sit down, then only sat down beside her, “Why do you have such a big temper?”
Tang Shishi laughed, “Your Majesty resents me for having a big temper?”
Zhao Chengjun knew that if he replied to her question, it would be endless today. He avoided it wisely and said, “How can there be? Everything about you is good in my eyes. I’m just afraid you’ll hurt your body.”
Tang Shishi said ambiguously, “There are so many important and urgent matters waiting for Your Majesty’s attention in the outside court. Where can we, mother and son dare to disturb Your Majesty?”
Zhao Chengjun sighed secretly as he knew that what should come would always come. Zhao Chengjun did not argue or refute and laid out to be scolded, “It’s my fault. I neglected you these days. Is he good in your belly? Is there any trouble?”
Tang Shishi did not speak. Zhao Chengjun coaxed his beloved wife carefully. If she did not answer, then he would go to find out himself. Zhao Chengjun touched it directly. Unfortunately, the child did not give face like Zhao Zigao. Zhao Chengjun waited on the abdomen for a long time and did not see him move.
Zhao Chengjun withdrew his hand with some regret, and said, “It shouldn’t be. Zhao Zigao likes to move at noon this month.”
Tang Shishi said quietly, “Maybe he doesn’t recognize you and is wary in his heart. So, he doesn’t want to move.”
Zhao Chengjun was helpless after being pointed out, but he also knew that what Tang Shishi said was reasonable. When she was pregnant with Zhao Zigao, he basically accompanied her throughout the whole process, but the second child happened to be enthroned. In contrast, he spent too little time with his second child.
Zhao Chengjun said, “Well, it’s my fault. When I come back, I will accompany him more.”
Tang Shishi vaguely heard something was wrong, waiting for him to come back, what did this mean? But before Tang Shishi could figure it out, Zhao Chengjun continued to say, “I have discussed with Wang Taifu to let Taifu’s grandson enter the palace next year to study with Zhao Zigao.”
Zhao Chengjun’s voice was plain as if it was just a very ordinary thing. Tang Shishi’s attention was diverted, and frowned while asking, “Enlightenment next year?”
“He will be three years old next year. It’s almost time.”
Tang Shishi still frowned, it was too early. Zhao Zigao could not enjoy his carefree childhood for several years but had to go to school. However, Tang Shishi knew rationally that this was for the good of Zhao Zigao.
Tang Shishi was caught in the entanglement of emotion and rationality. Zhao Chengjun looked at her profile quietly and said, “The youngest grandson of Taifu is one year older than Zhao Zigao and just right for the two to keep each other company. Wang Taifu is profoundly knowledgeable and manages the family strictly and none of the men in his family are allowed to take concubines. I think the seventh young master of Wang is not bad growing up in this kind of environment, just right to be Zhao Zigao’s study companion.”
Even if Tang Shishi did not understand politics anymore, she also knew that the study companions of the prince and princess were not randomly selected, and they often represented the political forces behind them. Was Zhao Chengjun intended to bring Zhao Zigao and the Wang family closer? Why?
Tang Shishi was puzzled, so she asked, “Both children are young. One is one year old, and the other is two years old. They can’t even talk clearly. Why do you have to decide on the study companion right now?”
“It’s fine to make an early decision.” Zhao Chengjun said, “If I say it earlier, it also let the Wang family make preparation ahead of time.”
Tang Shishi already felt something was wrong just now, and now she was even more suspicious. Tang Shishi frowned and asked, “Are you hiding something from me? Why did you say to wait for you to come back just now? Are you going out?”
She was not entirely stupid, at least she heard it. Zhao Chengjun smiled and took her into his arms. He gently put his chin on her head and said, “Zhou Wang and Qi Wang intend to rebel. In a few days, I’ll leave the capital to go on the expedition myself. I’ll leave Liu Ji in the palace. If you have anything, just go find Liu Ji.”
Tang Shishi was startled, her eyes suddenly widened. Go on the expedition himself… It was exactly the same as in the book.
Then he would be accidentally shot by a hidden arrow, died an untimely death, and so on. Was it also going to happen?
Zhao Chengjun leaned on Tang Shishi’s fragrant hair and thought that if something really happened to him this time, there would be a group of people such as Wang Taifu, Liu Ji, and the Imperial Clan mansion, who would definitely support Zhao Zigao as the Emperor. As for Xiang Ying, First Assistant Yang, and others, Zhao Chengjun was quite certain that one was an adult and envious Zhao Zixun, and the other was a young and innocent Zhao Zigao, they would definitely choose Zhao Zigao.
When the Emperor was young, he would definitely need Empress Dowager to assist him in politics, and Tang Shishi could finally realize her dream, truly achieving what she wanted and doing what she wanted.
Zhao Chengjun originally thought that he had no selfish intentions and would be able to treat his own son and his adopted son fairly. But later he discovered that he should never challenge human nature.
Even he could not do it himself too.
After all, he was partial to Tang Shishi. As long as she could be free of worries and get what she wanted all her life, Zhao Chengjun would be at ease even if he died.
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes and fell into a long silence. In the book, Zhao Zixun succeeded the throne after Zhao Chengjun’s death. For one because Zhao Zixun had the support of the Zhou family and the Ren family, and for another, because there was no other choice. Zhao Chengjun did not have his own son, only Zhao Zixun was the adopted son. Moreover, Zhao Chengjun had established Zhao Zixun as the Taizi before he went on the expedition which showed that it was Zhao Chengjun’s wish to let Zhao Zixun inherit the throne. Therefore, Zhao Zixun succeeded to the throne without any twists and turns.
But everything was different this time. Zhao Chengjun had his own son, and Zhao Zixun was not established as a Taizi. According to the deep-rooted clan ideology of the world, after Zhao Chengjun’s death, it should be his own son that inherit the family property and the adopted son could share some of the property. However, how could the throne not be given to his own son but to the adopted son?
Moreover, Zhao Chengjun asked the Wang family’s legitimate young grandson to be Zhao Zigao’s study companion, so that the Wang family would stand on Zhao Zigao’s side. Liu Ji would also be in the palace. Liu Ji was a loyal supporter of imperial lineage. After the incident, he would definitely support Zhao Zigao to ascend the throne.
All in all, although the current situation was unclear, it was actually very favorable toward Tang Shishi. If Zhao Chengjun was allowed to choose, he may not choose Zhao Zigao, but if Zhao Chengjun passed away without leaving a will, then the prejudice of the world would have completely fallen to Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi was silent as she already had an eight-point chance of winning. As long as she did not say anything, the position of the Empress Dowager would be in her pocket. But in this way, Zhao Chengjun was about to die.
It took him so long to come up with a plan to take revenge and wipe out old grudges, and yet he died on the eve of victory.
Tang Shishi lowered her eyes and asked, “Your Majesty is determined to go on the expedition in person?”
Zhao Chengjun broke into laughter and wrapped around Tang Shishi, “It’s all started because of me, and it should be ended by me. From the beginning, these wars, conspiracies, and rebellions are all my affairs. You are just dragged into it by me.”
“Time and situation are inseparable, there is no difference between you and me.” Tang Shishi said in a bad tone and bluntly, “Are you not afraid any accident will happen on the expedition?”
“I’ve been marching with the troops for so many years and don’t know how many battles I’ve fought in the Northwest. I have not had any accidents when I fight with the Tatars. So, why am I even afraid of my two good-for-nothings younger brothers?”
Tang Shishi pursed her lips and said, “This is different.”
“Where is it different?”
Tang Shishi was speechless. For the first time, she felt that no matter how she said it, it would be wrong. How should she say it? Could she say that he did not die in the battle, but would be poisoned by a hidden arrow shot from behind after his victory?
Tang Shishi was still thinking about how to make this sentence genuine and believable without being doubted. While she was distressing, a gentle laugh came from above her head.
Zhao Chengjun hugged her and the child tightly, his chin pressed on her head, and smiled silently. He had no intention of testing her, but she was willing to remind him to save him. He had nothing to regret even if he died later.
Tang Shishi felt that something was wrong when she heard him laugh. Tang Shishi raised her eyebrows and asked, “What are you laughing at?”
Zhao Chengjun thought to himself that she was not smart enough or heartless enough after all. If she could be heartless enough and let Zhao Chengjun die, then she would be free of worries for the rest of her life. How could the favored Empress be compared to Empress Dowager who could do whatever she wanted?
Zhao Chengjun said, “Why don’t you wear the blue long dress in your closet anymore?”
Tang Shishi’s face changed suddenly when she heard it. Tang Shishi had never worn that dress as she hid the book in it! How did Zhao Chengjun know?
As soon as Zhao Chengjun saw her reaction, he knew that she had never checked it since the last time she read the book. He sighed secretly, “You are really big-hearted.”
Tang Shishi sat in the same position without moving. She did not try to find the book, nor did she pretend not to know. Instead, she asked, “Are you testing me?”
“No.” Zhao Chengjun said, “If I want to test you, I won’t be saying these things to you. But I’m still very happy that you’re able to remind me.”
Tang Shishi’s heart slowly calmed down. Yes ah, if Zhao Chengjun was testing her just now, there was no need to tell her about the book. She assumed that the book would have been put back to its original place long ago. If Zhao Chengjun did not say anything, Tang Shishi would not know anything at all.
Tang Shishi suddenly felt complicated. Zhao Chengjun hugged her tightly and said, “You can wait for me with the children at home with peace of mind. I will come back.”
Tang Shishi blinked, thick water mist filled her eyes, “All right.”