It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 137 Extra: Empress – A lifelong promise
In the evening, Zhao Chengjun finished the day’s memorials and went back to Kunning Palace to have an evening meal.
Zhao Jingshu and the rest were not surprised. After they greeted their father, they scattered in the main hall and played their own games. Zhao Chengjun sat next to Tang Shishi, took Zhao Ziyan in her hand, and asked, “Did he trouble you today?”
“No.” Tang Shishi said, “Ziyan is very obedient. He seldom cries except when he is hungry or uncomfortable.”
This was the truth. Zhao Zigao has been making trouble since he was young, and he has not been idle for a moment. Zhao Jingshu has set the highest record of hypocrisy. It might be that the older brother and sister had used up the share. So, the next two children, one was more superior and the other was quiet and easy to take care of.
Zhao Chengjun nodded, he still trusted Zhao Ziyan and Zhao Jingqin. Zhao Chengjun held the chubby hand of his youngest son, and asked unexpectedly, “Zhao Ziyan didn’t, then what about them?”
The main hall suddenly became extremely quiet. Zhao Zigao’s chess movement stopped. Zhao Jingshu was originally playing with Zhao Jingqin with a jump rope, but now she did not make a scene. Zhao Ziyan opened his eyes wide and quietly looked at the various beings in the main hall. His eyes seemed to say, I can’t help you either.
Zhao Jinggao stood up first, saluted Zhao Chengjun, and said, “It’s me and a few others who are stupid and can’t share the worries with Empress mother. Instead, let Emperor father worry about it. I’ll go back to study and practice writing.”
Zhao Jingshu blinked her eyes and finally reacted. She also responded immediately afterward, “I will go back too. If I can’t finish my studies today, I won’t come out to eat.”
Zhao Chengjun laughed and said, “It’s really embarrassing for you two to let your younger sister help you out.”
As soon as he heard it, Zhao Zigao knew that he could not avoid today’s incident. He sighed in his heart and was about to admit his mistake, but Zhao Jingshu said first, “Emperor father, I was wrong.”
Zhao Zigao choked as he heard Zhao Jingshu continue to say, “I shouldn’t disturb the class or make Taifu angry. If my Emperor father wants to punish, just punish me.”
Zhao Zigao also hurriedly said, “Emperor father, it’s me who’s wrong. I’m the Taizi and shouldn’t quarrel with my younger sister. At that time, Taifu was coming soon, and I shouldn’t have left Wenyuan Palace. Emperor father, please punish me.”
The two children acknowledged their mistakes one after another. Zhao Chengjun saw that they had a good attitude towards confessing their mistakes and said, “The fault can be forgiven, but the punishment cannot be excusable. Zhao Zigao can go back to copy the Teachings of Emperor Ming Zu ten times. Zhao Jingshu, don’t wink at your mother, you also copy too.”
When Tang Shishi heard this, she raised her eyebrows, “Ten times?”
Teachings of Emperor Ming Zu were a family rules left by the founding fathers to future generations, which has not been fully formed, but it was already very thick. Zhao Zigao was strong. Besides, he was the Taizi and has been studying with Taifu for several years. It was not a problem for him to copy the ancestral teachings, but Zhao Jingshu has to copy it ten times… It was a bit cruel.
Zhao Jingshu has a bitter face when she heard it, and stretched her voice to say, “Emperor father…”
“It’s useless to act like a baby,” Zhao Chengjun remained unmoved and said, “There’s no discussion. You’re really too spoiled. I told you earlier to go to the internal school. You’re either sick or say you want to look after your younger brother, but you won’t go. If you go on fooling around, you’ll only hurt yourself. Today, I told the officials that if there are any school-age girls in their family, they can report their names to me as I’m still willing to allow you, this mischievous person to follow good examples. After a few days, you’ll have a study companion to study with you.”
Zhao Jingshu’s face completely collapsed. Zhao Jingqin who stood quietly said after seeing this, “Emperor father, I’m also willing to go.”
Look, this was the gap. Zhao Chengjun has always been gentle with his well-behaved second daughter. Besides, his second daughter wanted to go to school on her own initiative, how could Zhao Chengjun not agree? Zhao Chengjun said, “Great, it’s just in time to pick a study companion for your sister. You can see which young lady has an affinity with you and also choose together.”
Zhao Jingqin responded. When Zhao Jingshu heard this, she also clamored, “I also want to choose myself!”
“No.” Zhao Chengjun refused her without even thinking about it. “I’ll check the candidates myself. Why do you look at your mother? It’s no use pretending to be pitiful. Don’t use your crooked brain and learn well.”
Zhao Jingshu responded with a sad face and went out sullenly while pulling the flower rope. Tang Shishi was not happy when she saw Zhao Chengjun being fierce to their daughter, and scolded him, “Just talk, why do you have to be fierce with her?”
This was a strange circle. Two princesses, in fact, it was usually only the eldest princess that would complain tearfully with Tang Shishi when she was wronged and then Tang Shishi would scold Zhao Chengjun. Zhao Chengjun was restrained by Empress and had nothing to say. He turned around and berated Zhao Zigao with a cold face, “What are you doing in a daze? Why don’t you go to get the punishment?”
Zhao Zigao, “???”
What did he do wrong?
Zhao Zigao left with a deep sigh. He knew that he was the lowest-end person living in the Imperial Palace, and any wrong would eventually be added to him.
Zhao Zigao left without having a meal. After a while, the Kunning Palace was preparing the evening meal. Zhao Jingshu and Zhao Jingqin had their evening meal but only ate a small portion. Zhao Jingshu put down her chopsticks and said she was full.
Upon seeing this, Zhao Jingqin also put down her chopsticks. Zhao Jingshu said that she wanted to go out for digestion and pulled Zhao Jingqin to slip away.
Zhao Zigao was in the middle of copying the ancestral teachings in Jingmin Palace, suddenly the window was knocked. When he turned his head, he saw Zhao Jingshu and Zhao Jingqin leaning forward on the window and asked, “Older brother, have you eaten?”
Zhao Zigao shook his head. His father was strict with him and did not dare to eat by himself until he finished copying. Zhao Jingshu knew that Zhao Zigao had not eaten it. She climbed over the window with great difficulty and said, “I knew you didn’t eat yet. What an idiot. Fortunately, I brought it for you.”
Zhao Zigao was startled when he saw her move and hurriedly pulled her, “Be careful of falling down!”
Zhao Jingshu and Zhao Zigao were only two years apart. Since childhood, she has become a shadow of Zhao Zigao’s childhood. When Zhao Jingshu was first able to crawl, she did not let the wet nurse or her mother hold her but insisted on Zhao Zigao to hold her. When Zhao Jingshu learned to walk later, the situation worsened further. She tore his schoolwork, snatched his snacks, and even used his writing brush as a rouge to paint both her and Zhao Zigao’s faces. This made his childhood, which was not prosperous, even worse.
According to the palace maid beside her mother, when her mother was pregnant with Zhao Jingshu, Zhao Zigao was young at that time and did not know anything. He patted his chest and said that he would protect his younger brother or sister in his mother’s belly and be kind to his younger siblings all his life. As a result, it caused this evil obstacle.
This situation continued until Zhao Jingqin was born. After Zhao Jingqin was born, Zhao Jingshu found a new plaything and finally let Zhao Zigao go. Not to mention that Zhao Zigao was able to breathe a long sigh of relief. Therefore, he especially doted on Jingqin because of his gratitude, as well as unspeakable guilt.
There was nothing in return for life-saving kindness.
Although Zhao Jingshu has bullied Zhao Zigao since he was a child, the relationship between the two, brother and sister was very good. No matter how Zhao Zigao disdained Zhao Jingshu when his father punishes them, he would also help Zhao Jingshu block it and take the blame on himself. When Zhao Zigao was punished by his father later, Zhao Jingshu would secretly bring him food at the risk of being discovered by his father.
Over the years, the two, brother and sister have become accustomed to this way of getting along. Zhao Jingshu would secretly give Zhao Zigao food and has never been discovered. In fact, how could Zhao Chengjun not know?
With the support of Zhao Zigao and many palace maids, Zhao Jingshu managed to climb over the window with difficulty and stood on the floor of Jingmin Palace. As soon as she turned around, she saw that Zhao Jingqin had stood well with neat clothes and hair. Zhao Jingshu was surprised and asked, “Why are you faster than me?”
Zhao Jingqin turned her head and pointed to the door, “There is a door, ah. Why do I have to climb over the window?”
Zhao Jingshu was speechless for a moment. The palace maids and eunuchs were afraid of starving the two little princesses and brought a lot of snacks. Now the sisters piled their food on the table and talked to Zhao Zigao while eating, “Older brother Taizi, how much have you copied?”
“Less than half.” Zhao Zigao said with a calm and solemn face, “It’s still a lot more.”
Zhao Jingshu sighed with regret, “It’s still a lot more, ah. Then who can I find to copy it ten times? I was going to let you copy for me conveniently.”
As soon as Zhao Zigao heard this, he quickly put down his food as he could not afford these desserts, “You caused the trouble yourself, so find a way by yourself. I don’t care as I’ve to copy ten times here. Even if I copy for you, both will have the same handwriting. How can Emperor father fail to see it?”
That was true. Zhao Jingshu propped up her delicate chin and looked at Zhao Jingqin. Without blinking, Zhao Jingqin said, “I’m still practicing the tracing and I don’t know many words in the ancestral teachings. I’m afraid I can’t help you.”
The elder brother would not do, neither would Jingqin. She could not find Zhao Ziyan to copy for her, could she? Zhao Jingshu sighed bitterly and said, “Forget it. I’ll stop Wang Qilang tomorrow and have him help me copy it. Elder brother, when will your class end?”
Zhao Zigao did not want to suffer, but he also could not push his best friend into the fire pit. He hesitated and said, “It’s hard to say. School finishes whenever Taifu said it’s done. How will I know when Taifu finishes?”
“That’s not a problem.” Zhao Jingshu proudly patted the table and said, “Elder brother, when Taifu is about to finish speaking tomorrow, send a little eunuch to send me a message. I’ll send someone to stop him on the road. I don’t believe that he dares not to follow!”
Zhao Zigao still could not pass his conscience, “Isn’t this… not very good?”
“What’s wrong?” Zhao Jingshu stared at Zhao Zigao with a fierce face. “Anyway, either you copy or he. Someone has to help me. You figure it out!”
All right, Zhao Zigao shut up. Brother, it was not that he has no loyalty, he really tried his best.
The two daughters ran out one after another. Tang Shishi just pretended not to see them. The palace maid frowned and asked, “Your Majesty, Niangniang, the eldest princess and the second princess only ate a little bit. I’m afraid they will be hungry later. How about I go out to have a look?”
“No need,” said Tang Shishi while still feeding Zhao Ziyan steadfastly, “They are fine. They won’t starve themselves. Let them go by themselves.”
Zhao Chengjun did not care about his two daughters either. He took the bowl and chopsticks from Tang Shishi and said, “I’ll feed him, you go eat first. The food will be cold in a while.”
Seeing this, the palace maid immediately said, “Your Majesty, Niangniang, let me feed the second prince.”
Fortunately, Zhao Ziyan was sensible, neither picky nor spitting out. He ate quickly and obediently let the palace maid carried away. Only then did Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi could eat peacefully. Tang Shishi asked, “Why did you think of finding a study companion for her?”
“I should have looked for one a long time ago. It’s to avoid her from running to the Wenhua Palace all day long. It’s time to find something for her to do.”
Tang Shishi also felt that her eldest daughter could not do this all the time and it was time to control her. Tang Shishi said, “She has no bad intention, but she’s impatient and can’t sit still. You have to find a gentle and quiet partner to polish her temper.”
Zhao Chengjun did not express his opinion. He felt that with Zhao Jingshu’s nature, it would be difficult for him to expect the study companion to have a good influence on her.
Zhao Chengjun said, “Just take one step at a time. She is the legitimate eldest princess and has brothers and sisters, so she can be arrogant. If the son-in-law dares to bully her in the future and with Zigao and Jingqin’s assistance, I’m afraid they won’t dare to act rashly.”
Tang Shishi was very confident about this, “She may be bullied by outsiders, but at home, no one can bully her. After the son-in-law married her, I don’t know how he will be tossed.”
Zhao Chengjun smiled lightly and pointed out with meaning, “This is true.” He felt the same way too.
Hearing the meaning behind Zhao Chengjun, Tang Shishi raised her eyebrows and said, “Your Majesty dislikes to be tossed by me?”
“I’ve never said such a thing.”
“You clearly just admitted it.”
“Where got?” said Zhao Chengjun. “I’m obviously praising you. The more Jingshu looks like you, the less she will be bullied by the son-in-law when she got married in the future, the more I can rest assured. You should toss more about this kind of good thing.”
Zhao Chengjun said with a smile. Tang Shishi got angry, glared at Zhao Chengjun hard, turned around, and left.
Zhao Chengjun has been familiar with these kinds of things over the years. He followed her into the inner palace hall and saw Tang Shishi sitting in front of the dressing table, removing her headpiece with jingling sounds. As if he had not seen Tang Shishi’s cold face, he walked behind Tang Shishi and said, “I’ll help you.”
Then Zhao Chengjun went to pull out Tang Shishi’s hairpin. Tang Shishi extended her arm to hold down Zhao Chengjun’s hand, and looked at him coldly through the mirror, “No need.”
“Your hair is combed high today. You can’t reach the hairpin at the back.”
“That doesn’t need you either,” said Tang Shishi. “If I can’t reach it myself, I can call a palace maid. How dare I trouble Your Majesty?”
“The palace maid is not easy to use like me.” Zhao Chengjun did not care about Tang Shishi’s indifference at all. He held Tang Shishi’s snow-white wrist and rubbed it slowly in his palm, and the other hand skillfully helped her take off the dangling hairpins. “When you order the palace maid, you have to pay money and rewards, but I don’t have to. Empress came from a very wealthy family with assets spread across both sides of the canal. Why can’t you calculate this account?”
Tang Shishi glared at him with disdain from the mirror. She moved her arm and wanted to pull her wrist out of his hand, “Let go!”
The more Tang Shishi struggled, the tighter Zhao Chengjun held on to. He encircled Tang Shishi from behind, hugged her close to his chest, and asked, “What if I don’t let go?”
Tang Shishi’s hair was split in half, and the silky black hair was scattered on her shoulders, not as gorgeous as the day, but it had an indescribable sense of seduction. She was tickled by her hair, smiled while dodged for a while, and said helplessly, “Enough, don’t make trouble. I’m doing serious things here.”
Zhao Chengjun’s eyebrows moved slightly and moved closer to Tang Shishi’s ear. When he whispered, the warm air kept brushing on Tang Shishi’s ear, “Am I not serious here?”
Tang Shishi’s face blushed. She knew there were no attendants in the inner palace hall, but she could not help looking around and was relieved when she found that no one heard them. After calming down, Tang Shishi elbowed the person behind her resentfully, “Rogue, what are you talking about!”
Zhao Chengjun hugged her and smiled melancholy, “Zhao Jingshu can write idiot but not stupid. You can only scold this word for many years. Both of you, mother and daughter are really from the same origin.”
Tang Shishi was provoked by him until she raised an eyebrow and leaned on one side with an askance face, “Why, do you regret it?”
“That’s of course.” Zhao Chengjun smiled after seeing Tang Shishi’s angry look and said calmly, “Of course, I regret not having met you earlier. The officials always said that I don’t have many heirs, but I just realize that it is because you appeared too late. I only got my first child at my old age. Now all the officials are blaming me. You say, shouldn’t I blame you?”
“Sophistry!” Tang Shishi did not believe him and said, “There’s an age gap between us. Even if you meet me early, I’ll be too young to get married. Why, are you going to marry a young lady of twelve or thirteen years old?”
“That’s true.” Zhao Chengjun thought about it seriously and said, “It seems that if there is a next life, I still have to control the time. I can’t let you go freely, nor can I appear too early.”
Tang Shishi could not help laughing, “Do you still want to arrange for next life? Are you dissatisfied with this life?”
“I never do anything without an outcome. Compared to worrying about the next life, I want to solve the problems of this life.” After Zhao Chengjun said that he suddenly picked up Tang Shishi and said, “I’ll let him worry about the next life. You help me solve the court political problem first.”
“What are you doing!”
“Of course, I’m doing serious things.”
Emperor, the fourth son of Emperor Shizong, the younger brother of Xiaozong, and the uncle of Wuzong. When Emperor was young, he was intelligent and loved by Emperor Shizong which had aroused Empress Yao’s suspicion. After Shizong died, Empress Yao was afraid that Emperor would seize the position of Xiaozong, so she firmly ordered Imperial Consort Gonglie to be buried along with the dead, and all the officials prevented it to no avail. The Imperial Consort died for the former Emperor. Emperor was seriously ill and was sent to Jing fiefdom in the north while he was ill. Emperor stationed in Jing fiefdom for twelve years, repelling Tatars in the north, curbing Chagatai in the west, and pacifying Beiting in the middle. In the seventh year of Shentai, Empress Yao summoned Emperor back to the capital to celebrate New Year. In the spring of the next year, Wuzong fell into the water, caught a cold, and died suddenly. Wuzong had no heir, and the country could not be without a leader. Emperor presided over the overall situation in Jinling and stabilized the people’s hearts. The officials invited Emperor to ascend the throne honorably and changed to Yongchu Dynasty. In the seventh month, the two vassal monarchs rebelled, and Emperor went on an expedition personally to conquer Zhou and Qi. After a month, he returned with a great victory. Empress Yao colluded with Emperor’s adopted son Zhao Zixun to rebel, and Empress was confined in the palace. Fortunately, Emperor returned in time to turn the tide and the traitors were defeated and executed. Empress Dowager Yao hanged herself in fear of being arrested for her crime. The chaos during the beginning of Yongchu was settled.
Emperor was cautious and respectful, calm and temperate, diligent in administration and loving the people, placed the right people at the right places, and created a prosperous era of Yongchu. Emperor did not establish a concubine in his life, and only had Empress in his life who was the favored crown of the six palaces and was known as Empress Zhuang Yi in history. Empress had a total of three sons and two daughters. There was a saying in the harem that Empress Zhuang Yi was the beauty trap laid by Empress Yao, to emulate Diaochan that break-up Han Dynasty. Emperor ignored them and had a deep affection and harmonious feeling with Empress. When Renzong succeeded to the throne, he called this remark nonsense and banned it.