The Deer And The Cauldron 13

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The Deer And The Cauldron 13
第十三回 翻覆两家天假手 兴衰一劫局更新Chapter 11-In which Lodge Master Wei offers to settle a Score with the Mu FamilY successfully organizes an Escape has a Narrow Scrape with the Fat SOW uses a Pair of Trotters in a Novel Fashion and meets Auntie Tao

Bean Sprout Lane South: a Life for a Life-Settling the Score-The Emperor’s Plan-Curly-Beard, Pale-Face, and Tattoo-Chest-A Libation-Plotting the Escape- Trinket’s Cunning Plan-The Escape-Mission Accomplished Crazy about a Coward-United Front-The Great Sage Onion-An Unexpected Change of Employment-Sister Swallow-A Pair of Feet in a Pair of Shoes-Green and Grey-The Burning-Ground

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Bean Sprout Lane South: a Life for a Life-Settling the Score

韦小宝住处是在乾清门西、南库之南的御膳房侧,Trinket’s rooms were situated to the side of the Imperial Catering Department, west of the Gate of Heavenly Purity.往北绕过养心殿,折而向西,过西三所、养华门、寿安门,往北过寿安宫、英华殿之侧,转东过西铁门,向北出了神武门。那神武门是紫禁城的后门,一出神武门,便是出了皇宫,当下径往高升茶馆来。Trinket, after winding his way north past Nurturing Nature Hall, then west through Longevity Gate, then north again past Longevity Hall and the Hall of Heroic Splendour, finally emerged at the Shenwu Gate, the ‘Gate of the Divine Warrior’, left the Palace, and made straight for the Ascension Tea-house.

一坐定,茶博士泡上茶来,便见高彦超慢慢走近,向他使个眼色。He sat down, and the proprietor served him tea. It was not long before Gao Yanchao, his Triad contact man, came sidling up to him, and gave him a meaningful wink.韦小宝点了点头,见高彦超出了茶馆,于是喝了几口茶,在桌上抛下一钱银子,说道:“今儿这回书,没什么听头。”慢慢踱将出去,Trinket waited, and then, seeing Gao leave the tea-house, he took a few sips of tea, left his money on the table, and sauntered towards the door, muttering casually as he left: ‘I’m afraid today’s story doesn’t really do much for me . . .’果见高彦超等在街角,走得几步,便是两顶轿子。There was Gao outside, waiting at the street corner, with two sedan chairs.高彦超让韦小宝坐了一顶,自己跟了一段路,四下打量见无人跟随,坐上了另一顶。He showed Trinket into one of the chairs, and followed him a Little distance on foot, making sure no one was following them, then climbed into the other chair himself.

轿夫健步如飞,行了一顿饭时分,停了下来。韦小宝见轿子所停处是座小小的四合院,跟着高彦超入内。The bearers set off at quite a pace, and after half an hour or so came to a halt outside a small courtyard house. Trinket and Gao went in through the main gate, and were greeted by a whole assembly of Triad members.一进大门,便见天地会的众兄弟迎了上来,躬身行礼。这时李力世、关安基、祁彪清等人也都已从天津、保定等地赶到,此外樊纲、风际中、玄贞道人以及那钱老板都在其内。There were many familiar faces, including Big Beaver, Brother Li, and Tertius (back from Lodge meetings in Tianjin and Baoding), Brothers Fan and Feng, Father Obscurus the Taoist, and Butcher Qian.

韦小宝笑问:“钱老板,你到底尊姓大名哪?”钱老板道:“不敢,属下真的是姓钱,名字叫做老本。本来的本,不是老板的板。意思是做生意蚀了老本。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“你精明得很,倘若真是做生意,人家的老本可都给你赚了过来啦。”钱老本微笑道:“韦香主,您夸奖啦!”(略译)

众人将韦小宝让到上房中坐定。关安基心急,They showed him into the inner hall, and Trinket—the Master of the Green Wood Lodge—was seated, Obscurus spoke first. He seemed rather agitated.说道:“韦香主,你请看。”说着递过一张大红泥金帖子来,上面浓浓的黑墨写着几行字。’Look at this, Master,’ he said, handing Trinket a red visiting-card, decorated with a gold splash, and inscribed with several columns of characters in thick black ink.韦小宝不接,说道:“这些字嘛,他们认得我,我可跟他们没什么交情,哥儿俩这是初次相会,不认识。”钱老本道:“韦香主,是张请帖,请咱们吃饭去的。” The words. . . seem to know me .. .’ Trinket faltered, ‘but I’m afraid I don’t really . . .’ ‘Master,’ put in Butcher Qian helpfully, ‘it’s an invitation. To a meal.’韦小宝道:“那好得很哪,谁这么赏脸?”钱老本道:“帖子上写的名字是沐剑声。” That sounds fun,’ commented Trinket. ‘Who’s treating us?’ ‘The name on the card is Mu Jiansheng,’ said the butcher.

韦小宝一怔,道:“沐剑声?”钱老本道:“那便是沐王府的小公爷。”韦小宝点头道:“‘花雕茯苓猪’的哥哥。”钱老本道:“正是!”Trinket pulled a face, ‘Mu Jiansheng?’ (He knew that Mu Jianping was the Little Countess.) ‘He’s the Young Count of the Mu Family.’ Trinket nodded. ‘You mean the China-root pig’s big brother?’ ‘Exactly!’ replied the butcher.韦小宝问道:“他请咱们大伙儿都去?”钱老本道:“他帖子上写得倒很客气,请天地会青木堂韦香主,率同天地会众位英雄同去赴宴,就是今晚,是在朝阳门内南豆芽胡同。” ‘Are we all invited?’ The invitation is very politely worded: “The presence of Lodge Master Wei of the Green Wood Lodge, and all brave Triad members of the Lodge, is requested at a banquet to be held this evening at Bean Sprout Lane South, within the Sun-Facing Gate.'”韦小宝道:“这次不在杨柳胡同了?”钱老本道:“是啊,在京城里干事,落脚的地方得时时掉换才是。” ‘Not Willow Lane this time?’ ‘No. They seem to think it safer to keep changing venues.’

韦小宝道:“你想他是什么意思?在酒饭里下他妈的蒙汗药?”李力世道:“按理说,云南沐王府在江湖上这么大的名头,’What do you think they’ll do this time? Put something in the wine?’ It was Brother Li who replied: The Young Count is an important figure in the Mu Family.沐剑声又是小公爷的身分,是跟咱们总舵主平起平坐的大人物,决不能使这等下三滥的勾当。He has the same rank as our Helmsman, I hardly think someone like that would stoop to such underhand tactics.不过会无好会,宴无好宴,韦香主所虑,却也不可不防。”韦小宝道:“咱们去不去吃这顿饭?哼哼,宣威火腿,过桥米线,云南汽锅鸡,那是有得触祭的了。” But we should be careful all the same.’ ‘Well, should we go or not?’ Trinket wondered aloud. ‘Hm, I like the idea of a slice or two of Yunnan ham, and some Yunnan stewed chicken . . .’

众人面面相觑,都不作声。过了好一会,关安基道:“大伙儿要请韦香主示下。” The others exchanged silent glances. After a long pause, Big Beaver spoke: ‘We would like you to decide, Master.’韦小宝笑道:“一顿好酒好饭,今晚大伙儿总是有得下肚的。要太太平平呢,就让我作东道,咱们吃馆子去,吃过饭后,再来推牌九赌钱,叫花姑娘也可以,都是兄弟会钞。你们如想给我省钱呢,大伙儿就去扰那姓沐的。” ‘Why don’t I invite you all out instead! We could have a nice feed in a restaurant, then dice, pretty girls . . . Of course, if you want to save me money, we could just accept the Mu invitation . . .’这番话说得慷慨大方,其实却十分滑头,去不去赴宴,自己不拿主意。Trinket had managed to sound generous, and had at the same time avoided the responsibility of taking the decision.

关安基道:“韦香主请众兄弟吃喝玩乐,那是最开心不过的。不过这姓沐的邀请咱们,要是不去,不免堕了天地会的威风。”韦小宝道:“你说该去?” ‘It’s very kind of you to invite us out,’ said Big Beaver. ‘But I’m afraid if the Triads turn down the Mu invitation, it won’t look too good.’ ‘So you think we should go then?’ said Trinket.眼光转到李力世、樊纲、祁彪清、玄贞、风际中、钱老本、高彦超等人脸上,见各人都缓缓点了点头。韦小宝道:“大伙儿都说去,咱们就去吃他的,喝他的。兵来将挡,水来土掩,茶来伸手,饭来张口,毒药来呢?咱们咕噜一声,也他妈的吞入了肚里。这叫做英雄不怕死,怕死不英雄。” He glanced round at the others. There seemed to be a general, if slow, nodding of heads, ‘Then if you all say so, let’s go! Nothing ventured nothing gained!’

李力世道:“大家小心在意,总瞧得出一些端倪。大伙儿商量好了,有的喝茶,有的不喝,有的饮酒,有的不饮,有的不吃肉,有的不吃鱼。就算他们下毒,也不能让他们一网打尽。但如大家什么都不吃,可又惹他们笑话了。” ‘We should take certain precautions,’ said Brother Li. ‘Some of us should drink wine, some of us tea, some nothing at all. Some should avoid the meat, some the fish. That way, if they are trying to poison us, we won’t all fall into their net at once.’众人商量定当,闲谈一会。挨到申牌时分,韦小宝除下太监服色,又打扮成个公子哥儿的模样。他仍坐了轿子,在众人簇拥之下,往南豆芽胡同而去。They continued to discuss their plans for the evening. By the evening watch. Trinket had changed out of his eunuch’s costume into something more dignified and Lodge Master-like, and, climbing into a sedan chair, off he set, with the others crowding round him.

韦小宝心想:“在宫里日日夜夜提心吊胆,只怕老婊子来杀我,哪有这般做青木堂香主的逍遥快乐?只是师父吩咐过,要我在宫里打探消息,倘若自行出来,只怕香主固然做不成,这条小命能不能保,咱们也得骑驴看唱本,走着瞧!”

南豆芽胡同约在两里之外,轿子刚停下,便听得鼓乐丝竹之声。韦小宝从轿中出来,耳边听得一阵唢呐吹奏,心道:“娶媳妇儿吗?这般热闹。”只见一座大宅院大门中开,十余人衣冠齐楚,站在门外迎接。It was less than a mile to Bean Sprout Lane. When they arrived, they heard festive music coming from inside rather a grand gateway, where a dozen or so men were lined up to receive them.当先一人是个二十五六岁的青年,身材高瘦,英气勃勃,说道:“在下沐剑声,恭迎韦香主大驾。” Foremost among these was a young man of twenty-five or six, a tall, thin fellow, with a vigorous, manly air, who now stepped forward and introduced himself as Mu Jiansheng. ‘I am honoured to welcome Lodge Master Wei.’

韦小宝这些日子来结交亲贵官宦,对方这等执礼甚恭的局面见得惯了。常言道:“居移气,养移体”,他每日里和皇帝相伴,什么亲王、贝勒、尚书、将军,时时见面,也不当什么一会子事,因此年纪虽小,已自然而然有股威严气象。沐剑声名气虽大,却也大不过康亲王、吴应熊这些人,By now Trinket was quite used to highfalutin compliments and was able to pull off this kind of encounter rather convincingly. After all, the Young Count was certainly no grander than either Prince Kang or Little Traitor Wu.当下拱了拱手,说道:“小公爷多礼,在下可不敢当。” He brought his hands smarmily together and bowed. ‘You pay me too great a compliment, sir!’打量他相貌,见他面容微黑,眉目之间,和小郡主沐剑屏依稀有些相似。Meanwhile, he was sizing up his host. The young man had a slightly swarthy complexion, but otherwise there was certainly a visible resemblance between him and his sister.沐剑声早知天地会在北京的首领韦香主是个小孩,又听白寒枫说这小孩武艺低微,油嘴滑舌,是个小泼皮,料想他不过倚仗师父陈近南的靠山,才做到香主,Mu Jiansheng for his part had been briefed on Trinket by the trusty Mu retainer Maple Bo, who had painted a none too flattering picture of the young Lodge Master, describing him as a foul-mouthed, jumped-up little urchin, who knew no kungfu, and owed his position entirely to the Helmsman’s favouritism.此刻见他神色镇定,一副漫不在乎的模样,心想:“这孩子只怕也有点儿门道。” Seeing Trinket now, however, the Young Count could not help being impressed by the young fellow’s calm, self-assured manner.

当下让进门去。厅中椅子上上了红缎套子,放着锦垫,He led the way on into the inner hall. Here the chairs were spread with red damask covers and brocade cushions.各人分宾主就座。“圣手居士”苏冈、白寒枫和其余十多人都垂手站在沐剑声之后。As they took their seats, the Triads noticed that among the dozen or so Mu Family retainers lined up behind the Young Count were Su Gang (the Magic Hand), and Maple (the sole surviving Bo brother).沐剑声与李力世、关安基等人一一通问姓名,说了许多久仰大名等等客套话。李力世等均想:“这位沐家小公爷倒没架子,说话依足了江湖上的规矩。” Introductions were made, and Big Beaver and the others could see that the Young Count was making a big effort to be friendly.

仆役送上香茶,厅口的鼓乐手又吹奏起来,乃是欢迎贵宾的隆重礼数。鼓乐声中,沐剑声吩咐:“开席!”引着众人走进内厅。Scented tea was served, and the musicians struck up again. In the middle of a rather solemn ceremonial piece, the Young Count announced, ‘Let the banquet begin!’, and led them on into another inner room.手下人关上了厅门。厅上居中一张八仙桌,披着绣花桌围,下首左右各有一桌,His retainers closed the doors behind them. A large octagonal Eight Immortals table had been set in the middle of the room, with two smaller tables on each side.桌上器皿陈设虽无康亲王府的豪阔,却也颇为精致。The tables were spread with elaborately embroidered cloths, and laid with tableware not quite as grand as at Prince Kang’s, but stylish enough.沐剑声微微躬身,说道:“请韦香主上座。”韦小宝看这局面,这首席当是自己坐了,说道:“这个,咱们只好不客气啦。”沐剑声在下首主位相陪。各人坐定后,沐剑声道:“有请师父。”苏冈和白寒枫走进内室,陪了一个老人出来。沐剑声站着相迎,说道:“师父,天地会青木堂韦香主今日大驾光临,可给足了我们面子。”转头向韦小宝道:“韦香主,这位柳老师傅,是在下的受业恩师。”韦小宝站起身来,拱手道:“久仰。”见这老人身材高大,满脸红光,白须稀稀落落,足有七十来岁年纪,精神饱满,双目炯炯有神。The Young Count made a slight bow, asked Trinket to be seated, and introduced a ruddy-faced, vigorous old man with wispy white whiskers and piercing eyes, by the name of Liu Dahong. This, he explained, was his Shifu.那老人目光在韦小宝身上一转,笑道:“天地会近来好大的名头……”他话声极响,这几句话随口说来,却和常人放大了嗓子叫嚷一般,’The Triads have been making quite a name for themselves recently . .,’ said the old man, When he spoke, he boomed. It was the sort of voice ordinary men could only emulate by shouting.接着道:“……果然是英才辈出,韦香主如此少年,真是武林中少见的奇才。” ‘And as for Lodge Master Wei,’ the old man went on, ‘clearly we have among us an up-and-coming young hero, a veritable prodigy in the Martial Arts fraternity!’

韦小宝笑道:“是少年,倒也不错,只不过既不是英才,更不是奇才,其实是个蠢才。那日给白师傅扭住了手,动弹不得,险些儿连‘我的妈啊’也叫了出来。在下的武功当真稀松平常之至。哈哈,可笑!可笑,哈哈!” ‘I’m afraid I’m more of a clumsy clot!’ quipped Trinket. ‘I certainly made a fool of myself the other day, when Maple Shifu twisted my arm.. I just about tamarthed myself in my up-and-coming pants! What a little wimp I must have looked! Ha ha ha!’众人一听,都愕然失色。白寒枫的脸色更十分古怪。The others listened in appalled silence to this exhibition of Trinketian argot, and Maple looked decidedly ill at ease.那老人哈哈哈的笑了一阵,说道:“韦香主性子爽直,果然是英雄本色。老夫可有三分佩服了。” But old Shifu Liu erupted in a loud bellow of laughter. ‘Frankly spoken, sir! Now that’s what I call a hero, a man of parts! You’ve already earned a third part of my respect!’韦小宝笑道:“三分佩服,未免太多,有他妈的一分半分,不将在下当作没出息的小叫化、小把戏、小猴儿,也就是了。”那老人又哈哈大笑,道:“韦香主说笑了。” ‘I’d be happy with a tenth!’ cried Trinket. ‘Just so long as you think me better than a beggar, or a clown, or a monkey!”I see Lodge Master Wei likes to joke!’ replied the old man.

玄贞道人道:“老前辈可是威震天南、武林中人称‘铁背苍龙’的柳老英雄吗?”那老人笑道:“不错,玄贞道长倒还知道老夫的贱名。”玄贞心中一凛:“我还没通名,他已知道我名字,沐家这次可打点得十分周到。‘铁背苍龙’柳大洪成名已久,听说当年沐天波对他也好生敬重。清军打平云南,柳大洪出全力救护沐氏遗孤,沐剑声便是他的亲传弟子,乃是沐王府中除了沐剑声之外的第一号人物。” Father Obscurus had already recognized Shifu Liu as the renowned Iron Dragon, the kungfu Master who had done so much to save the Mu Family when they were on the run from the Manchu troops. He knew that this old man ranked second only to the Young Count in the Mu Family躬身说道:“柳老英雄当年怒江诛三霸,腾冲杀清兵,侠名播于天下。江湖上后生小子说起老英雄来,无不敬仰。” He bowed to him and said: ‘It is indeed a great honour for us today to meet one of the true heroes of our age!’柳大洪道:“嘿嘿,那是许多年前的事了,还说他作甚?”脸色显得十分喜欢。’Father Obscurus pays me too great a compliment,’ returned old Liu, unable to conceal his pleasure.

沐剑声道:“师父,你老人家陪韦香主坐。”柳大洪道:“好!”便在韦小宝身旁坐下。这张八仙桌向外一边空着,上首是韦小宝、柳大洪,左首是李力世、关安基,右首下座是沐剑声,上座虚位以待。The Mu Family knew the names of their guests, Obscurus observed. They had clearly done their homework. They took their seats, and noticed that there was still one seat empty at the high table.天地会群豪均想:“你沐王府又要请一个什么厉害人物出来?”只听沐剑声道:“扶徐师傅出来坐坐,让众位好朋友见了,也好放心。” Just as the Triads were wondering which famous kungfu Master they were going to be presented with next, the Young Count announced: Tell them to bring in Mr Xu. I should like our friends to see him, so that they can set their minds at ease.’苏冈道:“是!”入内扶了一个人出来。李力世等人一见,都是又惊又喜,齐叫:“徐三哥!” Su Gang went into the next room and returned leading an elderly man, with bent back and unsure step. Big Beaver and the others recognized the man at once. ‘Brother Xu!’ they cried out in astonishment.

这人弓腰曲背,正是“八臂猿猴”徐天川。他脸色蜡黄,伤势未愈,但性命显然已经无碍。It was indeed Xu Tianchuan, the Eight-Armed Ape, the Triad Brother they had all but given up for lost. His complexion was extremely sallow, his wounds were still not completely healed, but none the less it was Xu, and he was obviously out of mortal danger.天地会群豪,一齐围了上去,纷纷问好,不胜之喜。沐剑声指着自己上首的座位,说道:“徐师傅请这边坐。”徐天川走上一步,向韦小宝躬身行礼道:“韦香主,你好。” They crowded round him excitedly, plying him with questions. The Young Count showed Xu to the seat ”above’ his own. As he sat down, Xu made a bow in the direction of Trinket, ‘Greetings, Lodge Master.’

韦小宝抱拳还礼道:“徐三哥你好,近来膏药生意不大发财罢?” ‘Greetings, Brother Xu,’ returned Trinket, clasping his palms together. ‘I don’t suppose the medicated plaster business has been too busy of late?’徐天川叹了口气,道:“简直没生意。属下给吴三桂手下的走狗掳了去,险些送了老命,幸蒙沐家小公爷和柳老英雄相救脱险。” Xu sighed. ‘No business to speak of at all, I’m afraid. The Satrap’s dogs got their teeth into me, I’d be a dead man now, if Count Mu and Liu Shifu hadn’t saved me!’

天地会群豪都是一怔。樊纲道:“徐三哥,原来那日的事,是吴三桂手下那批汉奸做的手脚。”徐天川道:“正是。这批汉奸闯进回春堂来,捉了我去,那卢……卢一峰这狗贼臭骂了我一顿,将一张膏药贴在我嘴上,说要饿死我这只老猴儿。” The Triads listened to this aghast, ‘So it was the Satrap’s men who did it?’ said Brother Fan. That’s right. They broke into my medicine shop and carried me off. That filthy cur Lu Yifeng began abusing me, and stuck one my own plasters over my mouth. He said he hoped I starved to death!’众人听得卢一峰在内,那是决计不会错的了。樊纲、玄贞等齐向苏冈、白寒枫道:“那日多有冒犯。众位英雄义气深重,我天地会感激不尽。” The Triad Brothers expressed their profoundest apologies to the Mu Family, who it now turned out, so far from having been old Xu’s kidnappers, had in fact been his saviours.苏冈道:“不敢。我们只是奉小公爷之命办事,不敢居功。”白寒枫哼了一声,显然搭救徐天川之事大违他意愿。关安基道:“徐三哥给人掳去后,我们到处查察,寻不到线索,心中这份焦急,那也不用说了。贵府居然救出了徐三哥,令人好生佩服。”苏冈道:“吴三桂手下的云南狗官,都是沐家死对头,我们自然钉得他们很紧。这狗官冒犯徐三哥,给我们发觉了,也没什么希奇。” ‘Say no more,’ said Su the Magic Hand gruffly, ‘We were acting on Count Mu’s orders. Any enemy of the Satrap is a friend of ours.’韦小宝心想:“这小公爷倒精明得很,他妹子给我扣着,他先去救了徐老儿出来,Trinket meanwhile was musing to himself along somewhat different lines: ‘Smart fellow, this Count! He knows I’ve got his sister under lock and key; so now he’s gone and “saved” our Brother Xu.好求我放他妹子。我且装作不知,却听他有何话说。” Soon he’ll be asking for his sister back! I’d better pretend I haven’t spotted his little game . . .’

向徐天川道:“徐三哥,你给白二侠打得重伤,他手上的劲道可厉害得很哪,你活得了吗?不会就此归天罢?”徐天川道:“白二侠当日手下容情,属下将养了这几日,已好得多啦。”白寒枫向韦小宝怒目而视。韦小宝却笑吟吟地,似乎全然没瞧见。
He asked Xu how his wounds were healing. ‘Slowly but nicely, thank you.’ Maple scowled at Trinket. Trinket pretended not to notice.

众仆斟酒上菜,菜肴甚是丰盛。天地会群豪一来见徐天川是他们所救,二来又有“铁背苍龙”柳大洪这等大名鼎鼎的老英雄在座,料想决计不致放毒,尽皆去了疑虑之心,酒到杯干,放怀吃喝。
Generous helpings of food and wine were served. The Triads, who had by now put aside all of their earlier suspicions, ate with a hearty appetite, and filled their cups enthusiastically.

柳大洪喝了三杯酒,一捋胡子,说道:“众位老弟,贵会在京城直隶,以哪一位老弟为首?” Old Iron Dragon Liu tossed back three cups, and gave his whiskers a little twirl: ‘Gendemen, which of you is in charge of the metropolitan district?’李力世道:“在京城直隶一带,敝会之中,职位最尊的是韦香主。”柳大洪点头道:“很好,很好!” Brother Li replied diat Lodge Master Wei was in charge. Liu nodded. ‘Good, good.’喝了一杯酒,问道:“但不知这位小老弟,于贵我双方的纠葛,能有所担当么?” He drank another cup, and continued: ‘But can he accept the responsibility in a serious matter such as this?’韦小宝道:“老伯伯,你有什么吩咐,不妨说出来听听。我韦小宝人小肩膀窄,小事还能担当这么一分半分,大事可就把我压垮了。” ‘Uncle,’ said Trinket, ‘whatever it is, just say it. Cut the crap. I’m only a junior, I know. But I think I can shoulder the odd little load. Just don’t dump too much on me all at once, or I’ll end up looking like Lodge Master Squash-me-all-flat. . .’

天地会与沐王府群豪都不由微微皱眉,均想:“这孩子说话流氓气十足,一开口就耍无赖,不是英雄好汉的气概。” Triads and Mu Family alike frowned at this latest instance of urchin-talk, and looked at each other in horror.柳大洪道:“你不能担当,这件事可也不能罢休。那只好请小老弟传话去给尊师,请陈总舵主赶来处理了。”韦小宝道:“老伯伯有什么事要跟我师父说,你写一封信,我们给你送去便是。”柳大洪嘿嘿一笑,道:“这件事吗,是白寒松白兄弟死在徐三爷手下,不知如何了结,要请陈总舵主拿一句话出来。” Old Liu laughed darkly as he replied: This matter concerns the death of Brother Pine. As we all know, he died at Xu Tianchuan’s hands … I think we may need to ask your Helmsman to advise us how to resolve this matter once and for all.’

徐天川霍地站起,昂然说道:“沐小公爷、柳老英雄,你们把我从汉奸手下救了出来,免遭恶徒折辱,在下感激不尽。Xu leapt to his feet. ‘Count Mu, Liu Shifu,’ he declared bravely, ‘it was you who delivered me from the hands of the Satrap’s men, it was you who saved me from a fate worse than death. My gratitude knows no bounds.白大侠是在下失手所伤,在下一命抵一命,这条老命赔了他便是,又何必让陈总舵主和韦香主为难?樊兄弟,借你佩刀一用。” Pine’s death was my doing, though I never meant to kill him. I will gladly repay his death with my own!’说着伸出右手,向着樊纲,意思非常明白,他是要当场自刎,了结这场公案。He turned to Brother Fan, and held out his right hand: ‘Lend me your dagger!’ Everyone knew what he had in mind. To ‘setde the matter’ there and then, by slitting his own throat.

韦小宝道:“慢来,慢来!徐三哥,你且坐下,不用这么性急。你年纪一大把,怎地火气这么大?我是天地会青木堂的香主不是?你不听我吩咐,可太也不给我面子了。” ‘Wait!’ cried Trinket ‘Hold on a minute, Brother Xu. Sit down, and calm down. You’re too old to let yourself get carried away like this! Now, tell me, am I or am I not Lodge Master Wei of the Green Wood Lodge?’天地会中“不遵号令”的罪名十分重大,徐天川忙躬身道:“徐天川知罪,敬奉韦香主号令。” Disobeying a Lodge Master was a very serious offence for a Triad. Xu bowed to Trinket. ‘Your word is my command, Master.’韦小宝点点头,说道:“这才像话。白大侠死也死了,就算要徐三哥抵命,人也活不转啦,做来做去总是赔本生意,可不是生意经。” Trinket nodded, ‘That’s more like it. Fine is dead and gone, and nothing will bring him back, not even your death, It’d simply be chucking good money after bad . . .’

众人的目光都瞪视在他脸上,不知他接下去要胡说八道什么。天地会群豪尤其担心,均想:“本会在武林中的声名,可别给这什么也不懂的小香主给败坏了。倘若他说出一番不三不四的言语来,传到江湖之上,我们日后可没脸见人。” They all looked at him aghast, wondering what appalling thing he was going to say next.只听韦小宝接着道:“小公爷,你这次从云南来到北京,身边就只带了这几位朋友么?Trinket continued unabashed, addressing himself to the Young Count: Tell me, Count Mu, when you came up from Yunnan to the Capital, surely you brought a few more people with you?好像少了一点罢?”沐剑声哼了一声,问道:“韦香主这话是什么用意?” There seem to be one or two men missing, somehow? ‘What are you driving at, Lodge Master Wei?’

韦小宝道:“那也没什么用意。小公爷这样尊贵,跟我韦小宝大不相同,来到京城,不多带一些人保驾,一个不小心,给鞑子走狗拿了去,岂不是大大的犯不着?”
‘Oh, nothing in particular, I just thought a big shot like you would have one or two more people around, you know, just in case. You never know what these Tartars might try and do to you.”

沐剑声长眉一轩,道:“鞑子走狗想要拿我,可也没这么容易。”韦小宝笑道:“小公爷武艺惊人,打遍天下……嘿嘿……这个对手很少,鞑子自然捉你不去了。不过……不过沐王府中其他的朋友,未必个个都似小公爷这般了得,倘若给鞑子顺手牵羊,反手牵牛,这么希里呼噜的请去了几位,似乎也不怎么有趣了。”沐剑声一直沉着脸听他嬉皮笑脸的说话,等他说完,说道:“韦香主此言,可是讥刺在下么?”说到这句话时,脸上神色更加难看。韦小宝道:“不是,不是。我这一生一世,只有给人家欺侮,决不会去欺侮人家的。人家抓住了我的手,你瞧,乌青也还没退,痛得我死去活来,这位白二侠,嘿嘿,手劲真不含糊,那两招‘横扫千军’、‘高山流水’,可了不起,去搭救你们给鞑子拿了去的朋友,必定管用,说什么也是旗开得胜,马到成功。”白寒枫脸色铁青,待要说话,终于强行忍住。

柳大洪向沐剑声望了一眼,说道:“小兄弟,你的话有些高深莫测,我们不大明白。” Iron Dragon Liu cast a glance in his direction, ‘My young friend,’ he said to Trinket, ‘you seem to be hinting at some mystery. Please be so good as to enlighten us,’韦小宝笑道:“老爷子太客气了,我的话低浅莫测是有的,‘高深莫测’四字,那可不敢当了。低浅之至,低浅之至。” ‘You flatter me! I’m more hysterical than mysterical. Most particularly hysterical and unheroical. . .’柳大洪道:“小兄弟说道,我们沐王府中有人给鞑子拿了去,不知这话是什么意思?” To be precise, my young friend,’ said the Young Count, ‘you seem to be implying that one of our men may have been taken prisoner by the Tartars. Is that it?’

韦小宝道:“一点意思也没有。小王爷,柳老爷子,我酒量也是低浅莫测,’Oh, not really. It must be the wine. A little goes a very long way with me. I get a bit woozy, boozy, mysterical, hysterical, whatever. Put it down to the wine.多半是我喝醉了酒,胡说八道,他妈的作不得数。” I’m probably just drunk and talking a lot of tarnardy twaddle!”

沐剑声哼了一声,强抑怒气,说道:“原来韦香主是消遣人来着。”韦小宝道:“小公爷,你想消遣吗?你在北京城里逛过没有?”沐剑声气势汹汹的道:“怎么样?”韦小宝道:“北京城可大得很哪,你们云南的昆明,那是没北京城大的了,是不是?”沐剑声愈益恼怒,大声道:“那怎么样?”关安基听韦小宝东拉西扯,越来越不成话,插口道:“北京城花花世界,就可惜给鞑子占了去,咱们稍有血性之人,无不恼恨。” 韦小宝不去理他,继续说道:“小公爷,你今天请我喝酒,在下没什么报答,几时你有空,我带你到北京城各处逛逛。有个熟人带路,就不会走错了。否则的话,倘若乱闯乱走,一不小心,走进了鞑子的皇宫,小公爷武功虽高,可也不大方便。”

柳大洪道:“小兄弟言外有意,你如当我是朋友,可不可以请你说得更明白些?” ‘Young friend,’ said old Iron Dragon Liu, ‘if indeed you an a friend, will you please stop beating about the bush and say whatever it is you have to say!’韦小宝道:“我的话再明白没有了。沐王府的朋友们,武功都是极高的,什么‘横扫千军’、‘高山流水’,使得再厉害也没有了,就可惜在北京城里人生路不熟,在街上逛逛,三更半夜里又瞧不大清楚,胡里胡涂的,说不定就逛进了紫禁城去。” ‘Bush? What bush?’ protested Trinket. ‘I’m talking about Peking! It’s such a tricky, sticky sort of place, and if you don’t know your way around it, you never know—people do have a way of disappearing in the middle of the night. . .’

柳大洪又向沐剑声望了一眼,问韦小宝道:“那又怎样?”韦小宝道:“听说紫禁城中一道道门户很多,一间间宫殿很多,Old Iron Dragon shot a glance at the Young Count again. ‘So?’ ‘So,’ Trinket replied, ‘I’ve heard that the Forbidden City is one big maze! Gateway after gateway, hallway after hallway胡乱走了进去,如果没有皇帝、皇太后带路,很容易迷路,一辈子走不出来,也是有的。—if you just go crashing in, and don’t happen to have an Emperor or an Empress handy to guide you around, before you know where you are, you’re lost! Stuck for life!在下没见过世面,不知道皇帝、皇太后有没有空,白天黑夜给人带路。Up to your ears in Tartar sauce . . . The trouble is, I’m not sure if Their Imperial Majesties are available for daytime guided tours. Or night-time ones either, for that matter.或许沐王府小公爷面子大,你们手下众位朋友们抬了小公爷的字号出来,把小皇帝、皇太后这老婊吓倒了,也难说得很。” But you could always try your luck. After all, Count, you’re a bit of a big shot, aren’t you? Why not try and see what happens? You’ll probably scare the Emperor to death, and that Old Whore the Empress Dowager!’
众人听他管皇太后叫做“老婊子”,都觉颇为新鲜。关安基、祁彪清等人忍不住笑了出来。The assembled company had never in their lives heard the Empress Dowager referred to as an Old Whore, Big Beaver, Tertius, and the others found it all rather novel, and could barely suppress a smile.韦小宝在肚里常常骂太后为“老婊子”,此刻竟能在大庭广众之间大声骂了出口,心中的痛快当真难以形容。柳大洪道:“小公爷的手下行事小心谨慎,决计不会闯进皇宫去的。听说吴三桂那大汉奸的儿子吴应熊也在北京,他派人去皇宫干些勾当,也未可知。” ‘It’s more likely to have been the Satrap’s men,’ said Iron Dragon Liu. ‘His son is in town, and I wouldn’t put it past him—’

韦小宝点头道:“柳老爷子说得不错。在下有个赌骰子的小朋友,是在皇宫里服侍御前侍卫的。他说昨晚宫里捉到了几名刺客,招认出来是沐王府小公爷的手下……”’As a matter of fact,’ Trinket continued, ‘I’ve got a friend who works in the Palace. He’s attached to the Guards. Does a fair bit of gambling, actually. He told me there was a break-in last night. Some people tried to kill the Emperor, apparently. They were caught, and they confessed. They said they were working for you . . .’沐剑声失惊道:“什么?”右手一颤,手里的酒杯掉了下来,当的一声,碎成几片。’What?’ cried the Young Count.His right hand trembled, and he dropped his wine-cup on the floor, where it smashed into pieces.
韦小宝道:“我本来倒也相信,心想沐家是大明的大大忠臣,派人去行刺鞑子皇帝,那是……那是这个大大的英雄好汉。’I’d already guessed as much, mind you,’ continued Trinket. ‘After all, you Mu Family were very big under the Ming dynasty, you’d be just the people to do something heroic like try to bump off the Tartar Emperor!’此刻听柳老爷子说了,才知原来是汉奸吴三桂的手下,那可饶他们不得了。我马上去跟那朋友说,叫他想法子好好整治一下这些刺客。他妈的,大汉奸手下,有什么好东西了?非叫他们多吃些苦头不可。” ‘What a shame!’ Trinket interrupted. ‘In that case, I’d better get word to that friend of mine, make sure those men are given a hard time. Tamardy! Anyone who works for that traitor deserves it!’柳大洪道:“小兄弟,你那位朋友尊姓大名?在鞑子宫里担任什么职司?” ‘My dear fellow,’ put in Iron Dragon Liu quickly, ‘can you give me the name of your friend in the Palace? Where exactly did you say he works?’
韦小宝摇头道:“他是给御前侍卫扫地、冲茶、倒便壶的小厮,说出来丢脸得很,人家叫他癞痢头小三子,有什么尊姓大名了?’Oh, he just cleans the floors for the Guards, makes tea, pours water, that kind of thing. He’s nobody important, I’m afraid. People usually call him Warthead. Nobody bothers with his real name—if he’s even got one!那些刺客给绑着,我本来叫癞痢头小三子偷偷拿些好东西给他们吃。柳老爷子既说他们是大汉奸的手下,我可要叫他拿刀子在他们大腿上多戳上几刀,免得给那些乌龟王八蛋逃了。” When I heard the assassins were tied up, I asked him to smuggle them in a snack or two. But now I know they’re the Satrap’s men, I’ll get him to slice them up a bit!’柳大洪道:“我也只是揣测之词,作不得准。他们既然胆敢到宫中行刺,那也是了不起的好汉子。’That was only a guess of mine,’ said Iron Dragon Liu, rather feebly. ‘You never know. Whoever the intruders were, they must have been brave men to break into the Palace at all.韦香主如能托贵友照看一二,也是出于江湖上的义气。” Perhaps you ought to ask that friend of yours to help them out a bit anyway. That might be rather a River and Lake sort of thing to do, don’t you think?’
韦小宝道:“这癞痢头小三子,跟我最好不过,他赌钱输了,我总十两八两的给他,从来不要他还。小公爷和柳老爷子有什么吩咐,我叫小三子去干,他可不敢推托。” ‘Warthead would do anything for me,’ boasted Trinket. ‘Whenever he loses at cards, I always lend him money. So whatever it is you want, I’m sure he’ll do it—for me.’柳大洪吁了一口气,说道:“如此甚好。不知宫里擒到的刺客共有几人,叫什么名字。这些刺客胆子不小,我们是很佩服的,眼下不知是否很吃了苦头。贵会如能代为打听,在下很承韦香主的情。” Iron Dragon breathed a sigh of relief, ‘Thank goodness for that. I wonder how many men were caught, and what their names are? You can’t help admiring them. Perhaps your friend could find out how they are faring? I should be most obliged, Lodge Master, dear friend.’韦小宝一拍胸脯,说道:“这个容易。可惜刺客不是小公爷手下的兄弟,否则的话,我设法去救他一个出来,交了给小公爷,Trinket slapped his own chest. ‘Easiest thing in the world! It’s just a shame that these are the Satrap’s men. If they were your men, Count, I’d go one further. I’d try and get one of them out for you一命换一命,那么徐大哥失手伤了白大侠之事,也就算一笔勾销了。” —that way, we could settle scores, you know, a life for a life … It could even solve Brother Xu’s little problem . . .’
柳大洪向着沐剑声瞧去,缓缓点头。沐剑声道:“我们不知这些刺客是谁,但既去行刺鞑子皇帝,总是仁人义士,是咱们反清复明的同道。Iron Dragon cast the Young Count another glance, and nodded slowly. ‘We don’t know for sure who these men are,’ said the Young Count, ‘but one thing is certain: they showed great courage in trying to kill the Tartar Ernperor, and they clearly stand on our side!韦香主,你如能设法相救,不论成与不成,沐剑声永感大德。徐三爷和白大哥的事,自然再也休提。” I think I can say, Lodge Master Wei, that if you were able to find a way to rescue them, I should be eternally indebted to you, and this whole unfortunate matter with your Brother Xu would be forgotten.’韦小宝转头向白寒枫瞧去,说道:“小公爷不提,就怕白二侠不肯罢休,下次见面又来抓住我的手,捏得我大哭大叫,这味道可差劲得很。” Trinket turned and looked at Maple. ‘But Sir Maple here may not forget so easily. Next time we meet, for all I know he’ll grab me by the arm again and squeeze the living daylights out of me! He’ll have me bawling my poor little tamardy heart out again! Not my idea of fun . . .’
白寒枫霍地站起,朗声说道:“韦香主如能救得我们……我们……能救得那些失陷了的侠客义士,姓白的这只手得罪了韦香主,自当断此一手,向韦香主赔罪。” Maple leapt to his feet. ‘Lodge Master Wei! Rescue our. . . our, , , those poor brave men trapped in diere: and I will take a solemn oath: if this hand of mine should ever offend you again, may it be cut off at the wrist and presented to you as my personal punishment!’韦小宝笑道:“不用,不用,你割一只手给我,我要来干什么?’Please, please!’ cried Trinket. There’s really no need for that! What would I do with your hand anyway even if you did chop it off?再说,我那癞痢头兄弟有没本事去皇宫救人,那也难说得很。这些人行刺皇帝,那是多大的罪名,身上不知上了几道脚镣手铐,又不知有多少人看守。我说去救人,也不过吹吹牛,大家说着消遣罢了。” And besides, I’m not even sure if my friend Warthead can pull this rescue job off. These men are in serious trouble, they’re probably in shackles and leg-irons, with hundreds of men guarding them,’沐剑声道:“要到皇宫中救人,自然千难万难,我们也不敢指望成功。但只要韦香主肯从中尽力,不管救得出、救不出,大伙儿一般的同感大德。” ‘Whether your friend succeeds or not,’ cried the Young Count, ‘we will still be eternally indebted to you both for trying!’
顿了一顿,又道:“还有一件事,舍妹日前忽然失踪,在下着急得很。天地会众位朋友在京城交游广阔,眼线众多,如能代为打听,设法相救,在下感激不尽。” After a short pause, he continued. There is one other matter, A day or two ago, my own younger sister went missing, I’m very worried about her. You Triads are very well-connected here in the Capital. If you get wind of anything, or see any chance of rescuing her from whatever predicament she is in, I should also be eternally grateful!’韦小宝道:“这件事容易办。小公爷放一百二十个心。好,咱们酒也喝够了,我这就去找那癞痢头小三子商量商量。他妈的玩他两手,倒也快活。” ‘No problem at all,’ said Trinket. ‘Set your mind completely at rest. Come, I think we’ve drunk enough of this wine. I’d better go and find my old friend Warthead. Tamardy, it’s about time he and I threw the dice together again!’一伸手,从怀中摸了些物事出来,往八仙桌上一摔,赫然是四粒骰子,滚了几滚,四粒尽是红色的四点朝天,He produced a set of four dices from his inside pocket and rolled them on the table. Four Fours, four lots of four winking little red dots.韦小宝拍手道:“满堂红,满堂红,上上大吉!唉,可不要人人杀头,杀个满堂红才好。” Trinket clapped his hands. ‘Crimson House! Our luck’s in! Let’s just hope their house isn’t crimson with too much blood already!’众人相顾失色,尽皆愕然。韦小宝收起骰子,拱手道:“叨扰了,这就告辞。徐三哥跟我们回去,成不成?” Everyone shuddered at this somewhat macabre remark. Trinket bowed. ‘I must be going, I’d like Brother Xu to come with me, if that’s all right?’
沐剑声道:“韦香主太客气了。在下恭送韦香主、徐三爷和天地会众位朋友的大驾。” ‘Of course!’ said the Young Count. ‘And we insist on seeing all of you on your way. That’s the least we can do,’当下韦小宝和徐天川、李力世、关安基等人离席出门。沐剑声、柳大洪等直送至大门之外,眼看韦小宝上了轿,这才回进屋去。So Trinket, Xu the Eight-Armed Ape, Big Beaver, Brother Li, and all the other Triads walked out of the door, and the Young Count, Iron Dragon Liu, and the other members of the Mu Family, having seen them off, and Trinket into his sedan chair, went back inside.

Settling the Score

群豪回到那四合院中。关安基最是性急,The Triads returned together to their ‘safe’ courtyard house. As usual Big Beaver was the most agitated about the recent news,问道:“韦香主,宫里昨晚闹刺客么?瞧他们神情,多半是沐王府派去的。”韦小宝笑道:“正是。’Lodge Master Wei,’ he said, ‘this certainly looks like a Mu Family break-in,’ ‘I’m sure it was,’ said Trinket.宫里昨晚来了刺客,这事谁也不敢泄漏,外间没一人得知,他们却丝毫不觉奇怪,自然是他们干的。” ‘Did you notice they didn’t seem a bit surprised when I told mem about it. But no one outside the Palace knows about it. It’s been kept top secret,’

玄贞道:“他们胆敢去行刺鞑子皇帝,算得胆大包天,倒也令人好生钦佩。韦香主,他们给擒住了的人,你说能救得出么?只怕这件事极难。”
‘Well I think they deserve our admiration for trying,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘It must have taken a lot of courage to get in. And getting out will be even harder. Lodge Master, do you really think we can do it?’

韦小宝在席上与沐剑声、柳大洪对答之时,早已打好了主意,要搭救被擒的刺客,那是决无可能,Trinket had already been contemplating this very problem. There seemed small chance of getting the main band of assassins out;但自己屋里床上,却好端端的躺着一个小郡主、一个方怡。小郡主不是刺客,是天地会捉进宫去的,放了也算不得数,那方怡却是闯进宫去的刺客,想法子让她混出宫来,却不是难事。but he had a couple of Mu Family girls stowed away in his own bedroom. It might be feasible to get them out.他听玄贞这么问,微笑道:“多了不行,救个把人出来,多半还办得到。In answer to Father Obscurus’s gloomy prognostication, he smiled and said: ‘We won’t be able to get many of them out, but we might be able to manage one or two.徐三哥只杀了白寒松一个,咱们弄一个人出来还他们,一命抵一命,他们也不吃亏了。何况他们连本带利,还有利钱,连钱老板弄来的那个小姑娘,一并也还了他们,还有什么说的?钱老板,明天一早,你再抬两口死猪到御膳房去,Even one would be enough to settle the score, and get Brother Xu off. And then there’s that young lady Butcher Qian smuggled in. Brother Qian, I want you to come to the Catering Department first thing tomorrow morning with two more pig carcasses.再到我屋里装了人,我在厨房里大发脾气,骂得你狗血淋头,说这两口猪不好,逼你立刻抬出宫去。” Big ones. We’ll take them to my rooms and stuff them with you know what. . . Then I’ll make a big fuss in the kitchen, and complain that the meat’s gone off, and you can take them away again,’

钱老板拍掌笑道:“韦香主此计大妙。装小姑娘的那口死猪,倒也罢了,另一口可得挑选特大号的。”韦小宝向徐天川慰问了几句,说道:“徐三哥,你别烦恼。卢一峰这狗贼得罪了你,我叫吴应熊打断他的狗腿。”
The Butcher clapped his hands. ‘Sounds like a brilliant plan, Lodge Master!’ Trinket said a few comforting words to Xu Tianchuan.

徐天川应道:“是,是。多谢韦香主。”心中半点不信:“小孩子家胡言乱语,吴应熊是平西王的世子,多大的气焰,怎会来听你的话?”韦小宝答允替他解开误杀白寒松的死结,虽然好生感激,却也不信他真能办成这件大事。(略译)

The Emperor’s Plan

韦小宝刚回皇宫,一进神武门,便见两名太监迎了上来,齐声道:“桂公公,快去,快去,皇上传你。” Trinket arrived back at the Palace, and entered by the northern Gate of the Divine Warrior, Two eunuchs came out to welcome him. ‘Quickly, Laurel Goong-goong! His Majesty has sent for you!’韦小宝道:“有什么要紧事了?”一名太监道:“皇上已催了几次,像是有急事。皇上在上书房。”韦小宝快步赶到上书房。康熙正在房中踱来踱去,’What’s the matter?’ ‘It must be something important. He keeps asking for you. He’s in the Upper Library,’ Trinket went directly to the Library and found Kang Xi pacing up and down.见他进来,脸有喜色,骂道:“他妈的,你死到哪里去啦?” The Emperor looked happy to see him. ‘Tarnardy, Laurie, where the devil have you been all day?’

韦小宝道:“回皇上:奴才心想刺客胆大妄为,如不一网打尽,恐怕不大妙,说不定还会闹事,可叫皇上操心,须得找到暗中主持的那个正主儿才好。’Majesty, I’ve been so worried about the assassins! You said we should track down the masterminds behind the plot, and deal with them quickly, or we’re sure to have more trouble on our hands.因此刚才换了便服,到各处大街小巷走走,想探听一下,到底刺客的头儿是谁,是不是在京城之中。”康熙道:“很好,可探到了什么消息?” So I’ve been doing a Little plain-clothes detective work in town,’ ‘Well done! And did you discover anything?’

韦小宝心想:“若说一探便探到消息,未免太巧。”说道:“走了半天,没见到什么惹眼之人,明天想再去查察。” ‘I’ve been out there most of the day, but I’m afraid I still didn’t spot anyone suspicious. I’ll try again tomorrow,’康熙道:“你乱走瞎闯,未必有用。我倒有个主意。” ‘It may get us nowhere, you rushing around town,’ replied the Emperor. ‘Besides, I have another idea.韦小宝喜道:“皇上的主意必是好的。”康熙道:“适才多隆禀告,擒到的三个刺客口风很紧,不论怎么拷打诱骗,始终咬实是吴三桂所遣,看来便再拷问,也问不出一句真话。Just now Colonel Dolong was here, and he tells me they’ve been interrogating the three prisoners all day and no amount of torture can get a word out of them. They still swear blind diat they’re the Satrap’s men.我想不如放了他们。”韦小宝道:“放了?这……这太便宜他们了。” I was thinking, rather than go on torturing them, which probably won’t get us anywhere, why not just set them free,’ ‘Let them go? Just, . . just like that?’康熙道:“这些刺客是奉命差遣,虽然叛逆犯上,杀不杀无关大局,最要紧的是找到主谋,一网打尽,’They were clearly acting on orders. The important thing is to catch the people who gave the orders, and round them up.方无后患。”说到这里,微笑道:“放了小狼,小狼该去找母狼罢?” Otherwise, mark my words, this thing will not end here,’ He smiled. ‘So: we’ll set the Little wolf-cubs free, and they will lead us to Mother Wolf.’

韦小宝大喜,拍掌笑道:“妙极,妙极!咱们放了刺客,却暗中撮着,他们自会去跟反贼的头子会面。皇上神机妙算,当真胜过三个诸葛亮。” Trinket clapped his hands in delight. ‘Brilliant! A stroke of genius!’康熙笑道:“什么胜过三个诸葛亮?你这马屁未免拍得太过。只是如何撮着刺客,不让他们发觉,倒不大易办。’Don’t overdo it!’ said Kang Xi, laughing. ‘The difficult part will be to follow them without being seen ourselves.小桂子,我给你一件差使,你假装好人,将他们救出宫去,那些刺客当你是同道,自然带你去了。” That’s where you come in, Laurie. I’m going to put you in charge of that. I want you to pretend to be their saviour. You rescue them, and they’ll take you straight to their leader,’韦小宝沉吟道:“这个……”康熙道:“这件事自然颇为危险,倘若给他们察觉了,非立时要了你的小命不可。Trinket thought this over for a second or two. ‘I’m not sure.’ ‘I know it’s all rather dangerous,’ said Kang Xi. ‘You mustn’t let them suspect you even for a moment, or they’ll kill you in cold blood.只可惜我是皇帝,否则的话,我真想自己去干一下子,这滋味可妙得很哪。”韦小宝道:“皇上叫我去干,自然遵命,再危险的事也不怕。” If only I wasn’t Emperor, dammit, I’d do it myself! It all sounds so tamardy exciting!’ ‘If those are your orders, Majesty, then I’ll do it. Nothing frightens me.’

康熙大喜,拍拍他的肩膀,笑道:“我早知你又聪明,又勇敢,很肯替我办事。你是小孩子,刺客不会起疑。Kang Xi patted him on the shoulder. ‘I always knew what a smart, brave fellow you were, Laurie . . .You look so young, I’m sure they’ll never suspect you.我本想派两名武功好的侍卫去干,可是刺客不是笨人,未必会上当,一次试了不灵,第二次就不能再试了。I’d thought of choosing a couple of guards and sending them along, but they’d have been spotted straight away. This plan of mine will only have one chance of working.小桂子,你去办这件事,就好像我亲身去办一样。” We’ve got to get it right first time, Laurie! Having you do it is going to be almost like doing it myself!’康熙学了武功之后,跃跃欲试,一直想干几件危险之事,但身为皇帝,毕竟不便涉险,派韦小宝去干,就拿他当作自己替身,就算这件事由侍卫去办可能更好,他也宁可差韦小宝去。他想小桂子年纪和我相若,武功不及我,聪明不及我,他办得成,我自然也办得成,差他去办,和自己亲手去干,也已差不了多少,虽然不能亲历其境,但也可想像得之。As he grew up, the young Emperor had come to feel more and more frustrated at not being able to ‘do things himself, at having to preserve his ‘Imperial person’ from danger. Through Trinket he could at least experience vicariously some of the excitement of this hazardous escapade.

康熙又道:“你要装得越像越好,最好能当着刺客之面,杀死一两名看守的侍卫,让这些刺客对你毫不怀疑。’You must be as convincing as possible,’ Kang Xi continued. Tt mightn’t even be a bad idea to kill a couple of guards, just to prove your credentials.我再吩咐多隆,叫他放松盘查,让你带着他们出宫。” I’ll put Doiong in the picture, and give him special instructions to let you pass out of the Palace.’

韦小宝应道:“是!不过侍卫的武功好,只怕我杀他们不了。”康熙道:“你随机应变好了,但可得小心,别让侍卫先将你杀了。”韦小宝伸了舌头,道:“倘若给侍卫杀了,那可死得不明不白,小桂子反而成为反贼的同党。”()

康熙双手连搓,很是兴奋,说道:“小桂子,你干成了这件事,要我赏你些什么?” Kang Xi was rubbing his hands together in his excitement ‘Laurie,, pull this off, and I’ll give you anything you want!’韦小宝道:“这件事倘若办成功,皇上一定开心。只要皇上开心,那可比什么赏赐都强。皇上下次再想到什么既有趣、又危险的玩意儿,仍然派我去办,那就好得很了。” ‘I just want to please you, Majesty! That’s all I want. And to be sent on your next dangerous errand!’康熙大喜,道:“一定,一定!唉,小桂子,可惜你是太监,否则我一定赏你个大官做做。” ‘Excellent! Good man!’ exclaimed the delighted Kang Xi. ‘Oh Laurie, if only you weren’t a eunuch! Then I could make you one of my Great Ministers or something!’韦小宝心念一动,道:“多谢皇上。”Trinket reflected on this possibility for a moment. Thanks for the thought, Your Majesty,’ he said.心想:“总有一天,你会发觉我是冒牌太监,那时候可不知要如何生气了。” But secretly he was thinking to himself: ‘You may be wonderfully pleased with me now. But wait till you find out who I really am! Wait till you know that I’m not a eunuch after all! You’ll be wonderfully angry with me then!’

说道:“皇上,我求你一个恩典。”康熙微笑道:“想做大官么?”韦小宝道:“不是!我替皇上赤胆忠心办事,倘若闯出了祸,惹皇上生气,你可得饶我性命,别杀我头。” ‘Majesty, I’ve got one favour to ask you.’ ‘What is it? Do you want to be a Minister?’ ‘Oh no! It’s just.. . Well, I’m going to do my very best, and I’ll always be your most loyal and brave servant, but just supposing something went terribly wrong.. . Would you forgive me? Would you spare my life?’康熙道:“你只要真的对我忠心,你这颗脑袋瓜子,在脖子上就摆得稳稳的。”说着哈哈大笑。’Just be loyal to me,’ said Kang Xi, ‘and you’ll never have any cause to worry. I’ll make sure that head of yours stays firmly attached to your neck!’ The Emperor had a good laugh.

Curly-Beard, Pale-Face, and Tattoo-Chest

韦小宝从上书房出来,寻思:“我本想放了小郡主和方姑娘给沐王府,但凭着皇上刚才那番话,变成了奉旨放刺客,那两个小姑娘倒不忙就放出去了。As Trinket left the Library, he pondered this unexpected turn of events, ‘Now the Emperor has ordered me to set free the prisoners, so I can take my time with the Little Countess and Fang Yi.刺客的真正头儿,刚才老子就同他们一块儿喝酒,要不要奏知皇上,将沐剑声小乌龟和柳大洪老家伙抓了起来?As for them taking me straight to their leader, why, I’ve just been with their leader, having a few drinks … I wonder if I should have told the Emperor the truth? Should I just hand over the Mu Family, including that turtle the Count and his old Shifu, and have the lot of them arrested?可是师父如知道我干这件事,定然不饶。他妈的,我到底还做不做天地会的香主哪?” No, I don’t think so. If I did, my Shifu the Helmsman would never forgive me. A Triad Lodge Master betraying one of the Mu Family. . . Tamardy! This is all getting too complicated and difficult! What do I want to go on being a Triad Lodge Master for? Why don’t I just quit?’

他在宫里人人奉承,康熙又对他十分宠信,一时之间,真想在宫里就当他一辈子的太监了,After all, life wasn’t so bad in the Palace, he reflected. It was rather pleasant being the Emperor’s favourite and having everyone sucking up to him. In fact there wasn’t even really too much wrong with the idea of being a (theoretical) eunuch for the rest of his life.但一想到皇太后,不由得心中一寒:“这老婊子说什么也要寻我晦气,老子在宫里可耽不长久。” But then he remembered the Empress Dowager, and gave an involuntary shudder. The Old Whore will stop at nothing till she’s done me in. I’d never last long in the Palace.’当下来到乾清宫之西的侍卫房。当班的头儿正是赵齐贤。As he was thinking these thoughts, he had reached the Guardroom next to the Hall of Heavenly Purity. It so happened that his old friend Zhao Qixian was on duty that day.

他昨晚既分得了银子,今日又从侍卫总管多隆处得了赏赐,得知是韦小宝在皇上面前说了好话,The previous day Zhao had been distributing money for Trinket, and today he had received another reward from Colonel Dolong, which he understood had come his way because Trinket had been saying good things about him to the Emperor,一见他到来,喜欢得什么似的,一跃而起,迎了上来,笑道:“桂公公,什么好风儿吹得你大驾光临。” When he saw Trinket coming, he jumped up to greet him. ‘Laurel Goong-goong, what good wind blows you here?’

韦小宝笑道:“我来瞧瞧那几个大胆的反贼。”凑在他耳边低声道:“皇上差我来帮着套套口供,要查到主使他们的正主儿到底是谁。” ‘I’ve come to have a look at those rogues you’ve got locked up,’ said Trinket with an affable smile. Then he put his mouth close to Zhao’s ear and whispered: ‘His Majesty wants me to help with the interrogation, and see if I can’t worm out of them who was behind their little plot.’赵齐贤点头道:“是。”低声道:“三个反贼嘴紧得很,已抽断了两根皮鞭子,总是一口咬定,是吴三桂派他们来的。” Zhao nodded, and whispered back: ‘None of the three will say a word. We’ve broken two whips on them already, and they still stick by their story that the Satrap sent them.’韦小宝道:“让我去问问。”走进西厅,见木柱上绑着三个汉子,光着上身,已给打得血肉模糊。’Let me have a go,’ said Trinket. He went in to find three big fellows strapped to the pillars of the room, their naked bodies bleeding and bruised.一个是虬髯大汉,另外两个是二十来岁的年轻人,一个皮色甚白,另一个身上刺满了花,胸口刺着个狰狞的虎头。One of them was a man with a large curly beard, the other two were younger men, one pale-skinned, the other tattooed all over his body. (On his chest he had a tattoo of a ferocious-looking tiger’s head.)

韦小宝寻思:“不知这二人之中,有没那刘一舟在内?”转头向赵齐贤道:“赵大哥,恐怕你们捉错了人,你且出去一会。” ‘I wonder which one of these two is Fang Yi’s young man?’ thought Trinket to himself. He turned to Zhao. ‘I have a sneaking feeling you may have arrested the wrong men. Leave us alone for a moment.’赵齐贤道:“是。”转身出去,带上了门。韦小宝道:“三位尊姓大名?”那虬髯汉子怒目圆睁,骂道:“狗太监,凭你也配来问老子的名字。” Zhao went out, closing the door behind him. ‘Now,’ began Trinket, ‘tell me your names.’ Curly-Beard glowered at him. Think we’d give our names to a dirty little pup of a eunuch like you?’韦小宝低声道:“我受人之托,来救一个名叫刘一舟的朋友……”他此话一出,三个人脸上都有惊异之色,互相望了一眼。Trinket lowered his voice to a whisper: I’m here to help a friend by the name of Liu Yizhou get out of here . . .’ He observed the three men looking at one another in utter astonishment.

那虬髯汉子问道:“你受谁的托?”韦小宝道:“你们中间有没刘一舟这个人,有呢,我有话说,没有呢,那就算了。”三人又是你瞧瞧我,我瞧瞧你,都有迟疑之色,生怕上当。’Who sent you?’ asked Curly-Beard. ‘Is one of you Liu Yizhou or not? If so, then I might have something more to say. If not, you can forget it.’ They looked at one another again. They were obviously wary of falling into some kind of trap.那虬髯汉子又问:“你是谁?”韦小宝道:“托我那两位朋友,一位姓沐,一位姓柳。‘铁背苍龙’你们认不认识?” ‘Who are you?’ asked Curly-Beard. ‘I’ve been sent by two friends. One of them is called Count Mu, the other is Iron Dragon. Do you know them?’那虬髯汉子大声道:“‘铁背苍龙’柳大洪在云贵四川一带,谁人不知,哪个不晓?沐剑声是沐天波的儿子,流落江湖,此刻也不知是死是活。”一面说,一面连连摇头。’Everyone in Yunnan and Sichuan has heard of the Iron Dragon!’ cried Curly-Beard. ‘As for Count Mu, he is the son of the Young Duke, and since his father’s death has been wandering on River and Lake, Nobody even knows if he is still alive.’ He shook his head sadly.

韦小宝点头道:“三位既然不识得沐家小公爷和柳老爷子,那么定然不是他的朋友了,想来这些招式也不识得。” ‘Well, if none of you know the Count or Iron Dragon personally, that means you can’t be their friends. And I suppose you don’t recognize this either?’说着拉开架子,使了两招沐家拳,自然是“横扫千军”与“高山流水”。那胸口刺有虎头的年轻人“咦”了一声。Trinket proceeded to execute a passable version of the Two Way Sweep and the Cataract. The young man with the tiger tattooed on his chest could not help letting out a gasp of astonishment.

韦小宝停手问道:“怎么?”那人道:“没什么。”虬髯汉子问道:“这些招式是谁教的?”韦小宝笑道:“我老婆教的。”虬髯汉子呸了一声,道:“太监有什么老婆?” Trinket halted his little routine. ‘Well?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Who taught you those moves?’ asked Curly-Beard. ‘My woman did.’ Curly-Beard gave a snort of contempt. ‘What kind of a woman would a eunuch like you have?’说着不住摇头。他本来骂韦小宝为“狗太监”,后来听他言语有异,行动奇特,免去了这个“狗”字。It appeared that Curly-Beard might be beginning to have second thoughts about Trinket. He had at least stopped calling him ‘a dirty little pup’,韦小宝道:“太监为什么不能有老婆?人家愿嫁,你管得着吗?我老婆姓方,单名一个怡字……”’Why shouldn’t a eunuch have a woman? If the woman wants to be had, what business is it of yours? I’ll tell you her name. It’s Fang. Fang Yi. .. ‘

那皮肉白净的年轻人突然大吼一声,喝道:“胡说!”韦小宝见他额头青筋暴起,眼中要喷出火来,情急之状已达极点,The pale-faced younger man suddenly let out a great bellow: That’s a lie!’ Trinket could see the man’s veins bulging on his neck, and his eyes breathing fire.料想这人便是刘一舟了,见地一张长方脸,相貌颇为英俊,只是暴怒之下,神情未免有些可怖,当下笑道:That must be Liu, he thought to himself. Not a bad-looking fellow, but a trifle daunting in his present overwrought state. “什么胡说?我老婆是沐王府中刘白方苏四大家将姓方的后人。’What do you mean a lie?’ he went on. ‘I told you, her name is Fang, she’s descended from one of the Four Paladins that fought with Old Duke Mu.跟我做媒人的姓苏,名叫苏冈,有个外号叫作‘圣手居士’。还有个媒人姓白,他兄长白寒松最近给人打死了,那白寒枫穷极无聊,就给人做媒人骗钱,收殓他死了的兄长……”One of our matchmakers was a gentleman by the name of Su Gang, they call him the Magic Hand. Another one was one of the Bo brothers, Maple. His Elder Brother Pine was killed recently, and Maple was a bit short of cash for the funeral, so he took on a few odd jobs like matchmaking,’那年轻人越听越怒,大吼:“你……你……你……”Pale-Face was looking as if he was about to spontaneously combust. ‘You . . . you . . . you . . .’

那虬髯汉子摇头道:“兄弟,且别做声。”向韦小宝道:“沐王府中的事儿,你倒知道得挺多。” ‘Quieten down, Brother!’ said Curly-Beard. Then turning to Trinket he continued: ‘You certainly seem to know a thing or two about the Mu Family.’韦小宝道:“我是沐王府的女婿,丈人老头家里的事,怎么不知道?那方怡方姑娘本来不肯嫁我的,说跟她师哥刘一舟已有婚姻之约。’Well I ought to, seeing I’m getting married into it!’ replied Trinket, ‘Mind you, my woman—that’s the one who used to be Miss Fang—she wouldn’t marry me at first, said she was betrothed to some Liu fellow.但听说这姓刘的不长进,投到了大汉奸吴三桂的部下,进皇宫来行刺。你想……吴三桂这大汉奸……”说到这里,压低了嗓子道:“勾结鞑子,将我大明天子的花花江山双手奉送给了满清狗贼。吴三桂这家伙,凡是我汉人,没一个不想剥他的皮,吃他的肉。刘一舟这小子,什么主子不好投靠,干么去投了吴三桂?方姑娘自然面目无光,再也不肯嫁他了。” Then she heard how Liu had turned out bad, and gone to fight for that traitor the Satrap, and got caught breaking into the Palace. So she decided to dump him for me.’

那年轻人急道:“我……我……我……”那虬髯汉子摇头道:“人各有志,阁下在清宫里当太监,也不是什么光彩事情。” Pale-Face was getting more and more agitated. ‘I . . . I . . . I . . .’ Curly-Beard shook his head, ‘And what about youf It’s hardly the most glorious thing in the world to be a eunuch working for the Tartars!’韦小宝道:“对,对!当然没什么光彩。我老婆记挂着旧情人,定要我查问清楚,那刘一舟到底死了没有,如果真的死了,她嫁给我更加心安理得,从此没了牵挂。不过要给她的刘师哥安个灵位,烧些纸钱。’You’re right there,’ agreed Trinket. ‘Be that as it may, my woman asked me to find out if this Liu fellow is alive or dead. If he’s dead, she’d like to burn some paper money for him.三位朋友,你们这里没有刘一舟这人,是不是?那我去回复方姑娘,今晚就同我拜堂成亲了。”说着转身出外。But it seems that none of you is Liu, so I’d better be on my way. Our wedding’s this evening . . .’ He turned to go.

那年轻人道:“我就是……”那虬髯汉子大喝:“别上当!”那年轻人用力挣了几下,怒道:“他……他……”突然间一口唾沫向韦小宝吐了过来。Pale-Face opened his mouth, ‘I’m—’ ‘Don’t fall for it! It’s a trap!’ shouted Curly-Beard.Pale-Face was struggling to contain himself. He was foaming at the mouth, and spat in Trinket’s face.韦小宝闪身避开,见这三人的手脚都用粗牛筋给牢牢绑在柱上,决计难以挣脱,Trinket ducked, and as he made for the door, made a mental note of what had been used to tie the three prisoners to the pillars: strong lengths of ox sinew. They’d have some trouble getting free from those.心想:“这人明明是刘一舟,他本就要认了,却给这大胡子阻住。”一沉吟间,已有了计较,说道:“你们在这里等着,我再去问问我老婆。” ‘Tale-Face is obviously Liu,’ he thought to himself. ‘He was about to say so, only old Curly-Beard stopped him,’ Another moment’s reflection, and he had hatched a plan. ‘Wait for me here,’ he said to the three men, ‘I’ve got to report back to my woman.’

回到外间,向赵齐贤道:“我已问到了些端倪,别再拷打了,待会儿我再来。”
Zhao Qixian was waiting for him in the outer room. ‘I think I’m getting somewhere with those three,’ said Trinket. ‘Don’t torture them any more for the time being. I’ll be back shortly.’

A Libation

其时天已昏黑,韦小宝心想方怡和沐剑屏已饿得很了,不即回房,先去吩咐御膳房中手下太监,开一桌丰盛筵席来到屋中,说道昨晚众侍卫擒贼有功,今日要设宴庆贺,席上商谈擒拿刺客的机密大事,不必由小太监服侍。Trinket thought the girls must be getting hungry. On his way back, he dropped in at the Catering Department and gave orders for a big spread to be served in his rooms. He said he wanted to celebrate with some of the guards. They would be discussing confidential matters, he added, and should not be disturbed.他开锁入房,轻轻推开内室房门。沐剑屏低呼一声,坐了起来,轻声道:“你怎么到这时候才来?”韦小宝道:“等得你心焦死了,是不是?我可打听到了好消息。” He unlocked the outer door, and tiptoed into the inner room. He heard the Little Countess give a tiny cry and sit up. ‘Why have you been so dreadfully long?’ she asked in a whisper. ‘I’ve got good news!’ announced a gleeful Trinket.

方怡从枕上抬起头来,问道:“什么好消息?”韦小宝点亮了桌上蜡烛,见方怡双眼红红的,显是哭泣过来,’What good news?’ asked Fang Yi, lifting her head from the pillow. Trinket lit a candle on the table. He could see that Fang Yi’s eyes were red from crying.叹了口气,说道:“这消息在你是大好,对我却是糟透糟透,一个刚到手的好老婆凭空飞了。唉,刘一舟这家伙居然没死。”方怡“啊”的一声呼叫,声音中掩饰不住喜悦之情。’Good news for you!’ he said, heaving a sigh. ‘Lousy news for me! Goodbye to a lovely wife, when I just about had her in the bag! That Liu of yours is alive and kicking, I’m afraid to say.’ Fang Yi let out a little cry of joy.

沐剑屏喜道:“我们刘师哥平安没事?”韦小宝道:“死是还没死,要活恐怕也不大容易。他给宫里侍卫擒住了,咬定说是大汉奸吴三桂派到宫里来行刺的。The Little Countess also seemed delighted: ‘Is Brother Liu unharmed?’ ‘Well, let’s just say he’s alive, I can tell you, he’s lucky to be that. Ever since the guards caught him, he’s insisted on sticking to his Satrap story.死罪固然难逃,传了出去,江湖上英雄好汉都说他给吴三桂做走狗,杀了头之后,这名声也就臭得很。” It’s a shame, really. He’ll be executed anyway, but this way he’ll die with his reputation ruined! Everyone on River and Lake will despise him as a traitor.’

方怡上身抬起,说道:“我们来到皇宫之前,早就已想到此节,但求扳倒了吴三桂这奸贼,为先帝与沐公爷报得深仇大恨,自己的性命和死后名声,早已置之度外。” Fang Yi propped herself up in bed. ‘We’d thought of that beforehand. We just wanted to strike a blow against the Satrap, and to revenge Duke Mu and the true Ming Emperor. Our own lives and reputations seemed of little importance.’韦小宝大拇指一翘,道:“好,有骨气!吾老公佩服得很。方姑娘,咱们有一件大事,得商量商量。如果我能救得你的刘师哥活命,那你就怎样?” Trinket stuck his thumb up in the air. ‘Bravo! Shows guts! Now listen here, Miss Fang, we’ve got some very important business to discuss. Supposing I do manage to get your Liu fellow out—what then?’

方怡眼中精光闪动,双颊微红,说道:“你当真得救得我刘师哥,你不论差我去做什么艰难危险之事,方怡决不能皱一皱眉头。”这几句话说得斩钉截铁,十分干脆。There was a momentary gleam of hope in Fang Yi’s eyes, and her face grew flushed. ‘If you really can save him, I’ll do anything, anything, to show my gratitude!’ There was something wonderfully plucky about the way she said this.韦小宝道:“咱们订一个约,好不好?小郡主作个见证。如果我将你刘师哥救了出去,交了给小公爷沐剑声和‘铁背苍龙’柳大洪柳老爷子……”’Very well then,’ said Trinket, ‘let’s make a deal. And I’d like the Little Countess to witness it for us. If I save your friend Liu, and deliver him safely to Count Mu and Iron Dragon—’沐剑屏接口道:“你知道我哥哥和我师父?”韦小宝道:“沐家小公爷和‘铁背苍龙’大名鼎鼎,谁人不知,哪个不晓。”沐剑屏道:“你是好人,如果救得刘师哥,大伙儿都感激你的恩情。”

‘You mean you know about ihemT interrupted the Little Countess. ‘Of course I do! Everyone does!’ ‘I know you’re a good person!’ cried the Little Countess. ‘I know you’ll save Brother Liu for us!’

韦小宝摇头道:“我不是好人,我只做买卖。刘一舟这人非同小可,可是行刺皇帝的钦犯。我要救他,那是冒了自己性命的大险,是不是?Trinket shook his head. ‘No, I’m not a good person. I’m just making a deal. This Liu friend of yours is not a petty thief, you know. He tried to kill the Emperor! Rescuing him is going to be a very dangerous assignment.官府一查到,不但我人头落地,连我家里爷爷、奶奶、爸爸、妈妈、三个哥哥、四个妹子,还有姨丈、姨母、姑丈、姑母、舅舅、舅母、外公、外婆、表哥、表弟、表姊、表妹,一古脑儿都得砍头,是不是?这叫做满门抄斩。If I get caught, do you have any idea what’ll happen to me? Do you have any idea what’ll happen to all my family—my grandpa, my grandma, my mum and dad, my three brothers, my four sisters, my aunties and uncles and cousins? Off with their heads, that’s what! Every one of them!我家里的金子、银子、屋子、锅子、裤子、鞋子,一古脑儿都得给没入官,是不是?” And do you have any idea what’ll happen to all my worldly goods—my gold, my silver, my estates, my wok, my trousers, my socks, my shoes—what do you think will happen to them? Confiscated, the lot of them! Taken! Gone!’

他问一句“是不是”,沐剑屏点了点头。The Little Countess accompanied this tragic recital by nodding her head every time he asked her if she had ‘any idea’, and muttering sympathetically,方怡道:“正是,这件事牵连太大,可不能请你办。反正我……我……师哥死了,我也不能活着,大家认命罢啦。”说着泪珠扑簌簌的流了下来。’Yes, I know.’ ‘You’re right,’ said Fang Yi. ‘ It really isn’t fair to ask you to do something so dangerous. But… if Brother Liu dies, I won’t want to go on living! I suppose we’ll just have to let fate take its course!’

韦小宝道:“不忙伤心,不忙哭。你这样羞花闭月的美人儿,泪珠儿一流下来,我心肠就软了。Tears were coursing down her cheeks. ‘Don’t do that!’ cried Trinket. ‘Don’t go upsetting your dear little self! Don’t cry! It breaks my heart, to see those pearly tears running down your flowerlike face!方姑娘,为了你,我什么事都干。我定须将你的刘师哥去救出来。咱们一言为定,救不出你刘师哥,我一辈子给你做牛做马做奴才。救出了你刘师哥,你一辈子做我老婆。大丈夫一言既出,什么马难追,就是这一句话。” Oh Miss Fang, I’d do anything for you! I promise I’ll save him for you. Let’s swear an oath. If I fail, I’ll be your ox or your horse for the rest of my days! And if I succeed, you’ll be my wife for the rest of your days! There! My word is my troth!’

方怡怔怔的瞧着他,脸上红晕渐渐退了,现出一片苍白,说道:“桂大哥,为了救刘师哥性命,什么事……什么我都肯,倘若你真能救得他平安周全,要我一辈子……一辈子服侍你,也无不可。只不过……只不过……”Fang Yi stared at him wide-eyed, and the colour drained from her cheeks. Her face was almost white. ‘Brother Laurel,’ she began, ‘if you can save Brother Liu, I’ll do anything . . . Bring him back to me alive, and for the rest of my days I’ll.. , I’ll serve you, I’ll obey you in everything! But I can’t … I can’t. . .’刚说到这里,屋外脚步声响,有人说道:“桂公公,送酒菜来啦。”方怡立即住口。They heard footsteps outside the door. ‘Laurel Goong-goong, the meal you ordered is here!’

韦小宝道:“好!”走出房去,带上了房门,打开屋门。四名太监挑了饭菜碗盏,走进屋来,在堂上摆了起来,十二大碗菜肴,另有一锅云南汽锅鸡。四名太监安了八副杯筷,恭恭敬敬的道:“桂公公,还短了什么没有?”韦小宝道:“行了,你们回去罢。”每人赏了一两银子,四名太监欢天喜地的去了。’Very good!’ said Trinket, and went to the outer door. Four junior eunuchs deposited everything—twelve dishes, including one particularly delicious-looking steamed Yunnan chicken, wine, plates, bowls, and chopsticks—in the outer room, gladly accepted their tip of one tael each, and took their leave.韦小宝将房门上了闩,把菜肴端到房中,将桌子推到床前,斟了三杯酒,盛了三碗饭,问道:“方姑娘,你刚才说‘只不过,只不过’,到底只不过什么?” Trinket carried the food into the bedroom himself, and drew a table up to the bed. He filled three cups with wine, and three bowls with rice. ‘Miss Fang, just now you were saying something . . . ?’

这时方怡已由沐剑屏扶着坐起身来,脸上一红,低下头去,隔了半晌,With some help from the Little Countess, Fang Yi had managed to sit up. The flush had returned to her cheeks, and she sat there with head bowed. Finally she said, in a scarcely audible voice:低声道:“我本来想说,你是宫中的执事,怎能娶妻?但不管怎样,只要你能救得我刘师哥性命,我一辈子陪着你就是了。” ‘What I meant was, I can’t see what someone like you would want to get married for—I mean, with all your duties in the Palace . . . But anyway, if you can save my friend’s life, for the rest of my days I’ll be … your companion.’她容色晶莹如玉,映照于红红烛光之下,娇艳不可方物。Trinket looked at her. In the warm glow cast by the red candle, her face was positively radiant, like a piece of lustrous jade. She seemed in that moment indescribably lovely.

韦小宝年纪虽小,却也瞧得有点儿魂不守舍,笑道:“原来你说我是太监,娶不得老婆。娶得娶不得老婆,是我的事,你不用担心。我只问你,肯不肯做我老婆?” Trinket was only a boy, but he couldn’t help being quite transported by her beauty. He smiled. ‘What you meant was, you can’t see why a eunuch should want to get married. Well, I think that’s something for the eunuch to worry about, not you. Let rne ask you again: will you or won’t you be my wife for the rest of your days?’方怡秀眉微蹙,脸上薄含怒色,隔了半晌,心意已决,A little frown crossed Fang Yi’s brow, and a momentary flash of anger lit up her face. This was followed by a long silence, during which she seemed to be struggling to reach some kind of decision.道:“别说做你妻子,就算你将我卖到窑子里做娼妓,我也所甘愿。” Finally she spoke. ‘All right! I’ll do anything! I wouldn’t even have to be your wife! Have your way with me if you want to, and sell me off to a whore-house! I’d gladly do whatever you say!

这句话倘若别的男子听到,定然大不高兴,但韦小宝本就是妓院中出身,也不觉得有什么了不起,Anyone else would probably have taken offence at this. But Trinket, having been born and raised in a whore-house, didn’t see anything very unusual about her proposal.笑吟吟的道:“好,就是这么办。好老婆,好妹子,咱三个来喝一杯。” He laughed. Very well then, let’s all drink to it! The three of us! Come! Sister! Wife!’

方怡本来没将眼前这小太监当作一回事,待见他手刃御前侍卫副总管瑞栋,用奇药化去他尸体,而宫中众侍卫和旁的太监又都对他十分恭敬,才信他确是大非寻常。Fang Yi had learned over the past day that she had underestimated this eunuch. Watching him rip open the Colonel and dissolve his corpse with the powder, and witnessing how respectfully the other eunuchs all treated him, she was beginning to realize that he was something a little out of the ordinary.刘一舟是她倾心相恋的意中人,虽无正式婚姻之约,二人早已心心相印,一个非君不嫁,一个非卿不娶。昨晚二人一同入宫干此大事,方怡眼见刘一舟失手为侍卫所擒,苦于自己受伤,相救不得,料想情郎必然殉难,岂知这小太监竟说他非但未死,还能设法相救,心想:“但教刘郎得能脱险,我纵然一生受苦,也感谢上苍待我不薄。It had broken her heart to watch Liu being captured, unable to go to his aid because of her own wounds. The two of them, though not yet actually married, were deeply in love and had already sworn themselves to each other. If this eunuch could bring her true love back from the jaws of death, she would gladly endure any suffering!这小太监又怎能娶我为妻?他只不过喜欢油嘴滑舌,讨些口头上的便宜,我且就着他些便了。And besides, the chances were that he only wanted to have her as an ornament, to show her off, perhaps steal the occasional kiss and lick the lipstick off her lips. So why not go along with it?

想明白了这节,便即微微一笑,端起酒杯,说道:“这杯酒就跟你喝了,可是你如救不得我刘师哥,难免做我剑下之鬼。” She raised the wine-cup. ‘Very well, I’ll drink this cup with you. But I warn you, if you don’t save my Brother Liu, I’ll have your head!’韦小宝见她笑靥如花,心中大乐,也端起酒杯,说道:“咱们说话可得敲钉转脚,不得抵赖。倘若我救了你刘师哥,你却反悔,又要去嫁他,那便如何?你们两个夹手夹脚,我可不是对手,他一刀横砍,你一剑直劈,我桂公公登时分为四块,这种事不可不防。” Trinket loved the way her face dimpled when she smiled. He raised his cup. This is a solemn oath. There’s no going back on it. If I rescue Liu, and you betray me . . .

方怡收起笑容,肃然道:“皇天在上,后土在下,桂公公若能相救刘一舟平安脱险,小女子方怡便嫁桂公公为妻,一生对丈夫忠贞不贰。Fang Yi’s face became serious. ‘I swear by Heaven and Earth,’ she declared solemnly, ‘that if Laurel Goong-goong can save Liu Yizhou and bring him safe out of danger, I, Fang Yi, will marry Laurel Goong-goong, and be true to him.就算桂公公不能当真娶我,我也死心塌地的服侍他一辈子。若有二心,教我万劫不得超生。”说着将一杯酒泼在地下,又道:“小郡主便是见证。” Even if he can never be a proper husband to me, I will serve him faithfully all my days as his wife. If I betray him, may I be hacked to pieces and never born again.’ She poured a libation of wine from her cup onto the floor.

韦小宝大喜,问沐剑屏道:“好妹子,你可有什么心上人,要我去救没有?”沐剑屏道:“没有!我怎么会有什么心上人了?”韦小宝道:“可惜,可惜!”沐剑屏道:“可惜什么?”’And may you, Little Countess, be my witness.’ Trinket was ecstatic. He turned to the Little Countess: ‘Do you have a true love I could rescue for you?’ ‘No! Certainly not!’ ‘What a pity!’韦小宝道:“如果你也有个心上人,我也去救了他出来,你不是也就嫁了我做好老婆么?”沐剑屏道:“呸!有了一个老婆还不够,得陇望蜀!!”

韦小宝笑道:“癞虾蟆想吃天鹅肉!喂,好妹子,跟你刘师哥一块儿被擒的,还有两个人,一个是络腮胡子……”沐剑屏道:“那是吴师叔。”韦小宝道:“还有一个身上刺满了花,胸口有个老虎头的。”沐剑屏道:“那是青毛虎敖彪,是吴师叔的徒弟。” The younger man with the tiger on his chest was called Ao Biao, He was known as the Blue Tiger, and was one of Wu’s disciples.韦小宝问道:“那吴师叔叫什么名字?”沐剑屏道:“吴师叔名叫吴立身,外号叫做‘摇头狮子’。”韦小宝笑道:“这外号取得好,人家不论说什么,他总是摇头。” Trinket went on to describe to the Countess the two other assassins taken prisoner. Curly-Beard was, it transpired, a distinguished retainer of the Mu Family called Wu Lishen, a kungfu Master, known to the Martial Arts community as the Shaker Lion, (Trinket had already observed that he did a great deal of head-shaking.)沐剑屏道:“桂大哥,你既去救刘师哥,不妨顺便将吴师叔和敖师哥也救了出来。” The Little Countess pleaded with Trinket to rescue the two others while he was about it.

韦小宝道:“那吴师叔和敖彪,有没有羞花闭月的女相好?”沐剑屏道:“不知道,你问来干什么?”韦小宝道:“我得先去问问他们的女相好,肯不肯让我占些便宜,否则我拚命去救人,岂不是白辛苦一场?” ‘Do they have pretty women waiting for them?’ asked the incorrigible Trinket. This is starting to sound like a lot of fun!’蓦地里眼前黑影一晃,一样物事劈面飞来,韦小宝急忙低头,已然不及,拍的一声,正中额角。那物事撞得粉碎,却是一只酒杯。韦小宝和沐剑屏同声惊呼:“啊哟!”韦小宝跃开三步,连椅子也带倒了,额上鲜血涔涔而下,眼中酒水模糊,瞧出来白茫茫一片。Suddenly something came whizzing towards him through the air, crashed into his forehead, and fell to the ground, where it smashed to smithereens. It was Fang Yi’s wine-cup. Blood and wine trickled from his forehead down his face.只听方怡喝道:“你立即去把刘一舟杀了,姑娘也不想活啦,免得整日受你这等没来由的欺侮!”原来这只酒杯正是方怡所掷,幸好她重伤之余,手上劲力已失。韦小宝额头给酒杯击中,只划损了些皮肉。(略译)

沐剑屏道:“桂大哥,你过来,我给你瞧瞧伤口,别让碎瓷片留在肉里。”韦小宝道:“我不过来,我老婆要谋杀亲夫。” ”Come here and let me have a look at that cut,’ said the Little Countess, alarmed. ‘I’m not coming anywhere near you two!’ cried Trinket. ‘My own wife just tried to murder me!’沐剑屏道:“谁叫你瞎说,又要去占别的女人便宜?连我听了也生气。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“啊,我明白啦,原来你们两个是喝醋,听说我要去占别的女人便宜,我的大老婆、小老婆便大大喝醋了。” I’d have been angry myself,’ said the Little Countess, ‘after the things you said.’ ‘Oh, I see!’ said Trinket, laughing loudly. ‘Now both of my womenfolk are starting to get jealous!’

沐剑屏拿起酒杯,道:“你叫我什么?瞧我不也用酒杯投你!”韦小宝伸袖子抹眼睛,见沐剑屏佯嗔诈怒,眉梢眼角间却微微含笑,又见方怡神色间颇有歉意,自己额头虽然疼痛,心中却是甚乐,The Little Countess raised her cup in the air and threatened to follow Fang Yi’s example. Trinket wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his jacket. The sight of the Little Countess trying to be cross, with a little smile still playing on her face, combined with the charming spectacle of Fang Yi looking almost repentant, more than compensated for the ache he felt on his forehead.说道:“大老婆投了我一只酒杯,小老婆如果不投,太不公平。”走上一步,说道:“小老婆也投罢!” ‘Go on, throw!’ ‘All right then, I will!’
沐剑屏道:“好!”手一扬,酒杯中的半杯酒向他脸上泼到。韦小宝竟不闪避,半杯酒都泼在他脸上。他伸出舌头,将脸上的鲜血和酒水舐入口中,啧啧称赏,She raised her hand in the air, but instead of throwing it she emptied the contents of her cup all over Trinket’s face. He made no effort to avoid it, but just stood there letting the wine run all over his face, then stuck his tongue out and began licking the mixture of wine and blood that came trickling down,说道:“好吃,好吃!大老婆打出的血,再加小老婆泼过来的酒,啊哟,鲜死我了,鲜死我了!” ‘Hmm! Delicious! Blood courtesy of wife number one; wine courtesy of wife number two; what a yummy combination!’

沐剑屏先笑了出来,方怡噗哧一声,忍不住也笑了,骂道:“无赖!”从怀中取出一块手帕,交给沐剑屏,道:“你给他抹抹。”冰剑屏笑道:“你打伤了人家,干么要我抹?”方怡掩口道:“你不是他的小老婆么?”沐剑屏啐道:“呸!你刚才亲口许了他的,我可没许过。”方怡笑道:“谁说没许过?他说:‘小老婆也投罢!’你就把酒泼他,那不是自己答应做他小老婆了?”韦小宝笑道:“对,对!我大老婆也疼,小老婆也疼。你两个放心,我再也不去勾搭别的女人了。”方怡叫韦小宝过来,检视他额头伤口中并无碎瓷,给他抹干了血。三人不会喝酒,肚中却都饿了,吃了不少菜肴。说说笑笑,一室皆春。
The two girls both burst out laughing, first the Little Countess, then Fang Yi, who took out a handkerchief and, after examining his wound, cleaned it up for him.
They were hungry now, and between them did justice to the excellent food before them.

饭罢,韦小宝打了个呵欠,道:“今晚我跟大老婆睡呢,还是跟小老婆睡?”方怡脸一沉,正色道:“你说笑可得有个谱,你再钻上床来,我……我一剑杀了你。” After dinner, Trinket yawned. ‘Which of my two wives should I sleep with tonight?’ Fang Yi pulled a face. ‘For goodness’ sake be serious! If you so much as try getting into bed with me, I’ll. .. I’ll kill you with my sword!’韦小宝伸了伸舌头,道:“终有一天,我这条老命要送在你手里。”将饭菜搬到外堂,取过一张席子铺在地下,和衣而睡。这时实在疲倦已极,片刻间便即睡熟。Trinket stuck out his tongue. ‘One of these days you probably will kill me!’ He carried the leftover food into the outer room. Then he came back in, spread a mat on the ground, and lay down on it fully clothed. He was exhausted, and within minutes had fallen fast asleep.

Plotting the Escape

次日一早醒来,觉得身上暖烘烘的,睁眼一看,身上已盖了一条棉被,又觉脑袋下有个枕头,Trinket awoke early the next morning feeling surprisingly warm and cosy. He opened his eyes, to find that someone had thrown a padded quilt over him, and placed a pillow under his head.坐起身来,见床上纱帐低垂。隔着帐子,隐隐约约见到方怡和沐剑屏共枕而睡。He sat up, and could just make out, through the bed-curtains, the figures of the Little Countess and Fang Yi, lying fast asleep side by side.他悄悄站起,揭开帐子,但见方怡娇艳,沐剑屏秀雅,两个小美人的俏脸相互辉映,如明珠,如美玉,说不出的明丽动人。He stood up and stole across to the bedstead. Drawing the curtains, he beheld a sight of the most soul-bewitching beauty. The two girls complemented each other wonderfully: Fang Yi was enchantingly seductive, in an almost coquettish way; the Little Countess, though in fact the younger of the two, possessed a graver and more sedate beauty. The two of them together were like pearl and jade, a perfect combination.

韦小宝忍不住便想每个人都去亲一个嘴,却怕惊醒了她们,心道:“他妈的,这两个小娘倘若当真做了我大老婆、小老婆,老子可快活得紧。丽春院中哪里有这等俊俏的小娘。” Trinket felt an irresistible desire to kiss them both, but was afraid of waking them. ‘Tamardy!’ he mused to himself ecstatically. ‘If I had these two as my wives, I’d really live happily ever after! They never had girls as pretty as this at Vernal Delights!’他轻手轻脚去开门。门枢叽的一响,方怡便即醒了,微笑道:“桂……桂……你早。”韦小宝道:“桂什么?好老公也不叫一声。”方怡道:“你又还没将人救出来。”韦小宝道:“你放心,我这就去救人。” He crept over to the door. As he opened it, it creaked very slightly. Fang Yi awoke at once, ‘Laurel. . . Good morning!’ ‘Don’t you mean husband?’ ‘You haven’t rescued him yet. . .’ ‘Don’t you worry: I will.’

沐剑屏也醒了过来,问道:“大清早你两个在说什么?” The Little Countess also awoke. ‘What are you two chattering about so early in the morning?’ she asked sleepily.韦小宝道:“我们一直没睡,两个儿说了一夜情话。”打个呵欠,拍嘴说道:“好困,好困!我这可要睡了。”又伸了个懒腰。’We couldn’t get to sleep,’ said Trinket. ‘We’ve been awake all night, talking.’ He yawned, and patted his mouth somewhat affectedly. ‘I’m so tired! It’s been a long night! I’d better try and get some sleep.’ He gave a good stretch.方怡脸上一红,道:“跟你有什么话好说?怎说得上一夜?” Fang Yi flushed. ‘Silly boy! As if I could bear to talk to you for more than a few minutes.’

韦小宝一笑,道:“好老婆,咱们说正经的。你写一封信,我拿去给你的刘师哥,他才肯信我,跟我混出宫去。否则他咬定是吴三桂的女婿……”沐剑屏道:“他冒充吴三桂女婿的侄儿。”韦小宝道:“方姑娘做了我大老婆,刘一舟只好去做吴三桂的女婿了。”方怡道:“你别胡扯!不过要写封信,倒也不错。可是……可是写什么好呢?” Trinket ignored this remark and asked Fang to write him a little note to give to Liu. It would help him to win the prisoners’ trust, he said. That sounds like a good idea. But what should I write?’韦小宝道:“写什么都好,就说我是你的老公,天下第一的大好人,最有义气,受了你的嘱托,前来相救,货真价实,十足真金。”找齐了海大富的笔砚纸张,磨起了墨,将一张白纸放在小桌上,推到床前。’Oh you know, anything really. How you’re going to marry me, what a wonderful person I am, how brave and good, and how I’m going to rescue him for your sake, because you asked me to.’ He found Old Hai’s writing implements, spread a sheet of paper on a little table, and pushed it towards the bed.方怡坐起身来,接过了笔,忽然眼泪扑簌簌的滚了下来,哽咽道:“我写什么好?” Fang Yi sat up in bed, and took the brush in her hand. Suddenly she burst into tears. ‘I don’t want to write that!’

韦小宝见她楚楚可怜的模样,心肠忽然软了,说道:“你写什么都好,反正我不识字。你别说嫁了我做老婆,否则你刘师哥一生气,就不要我救了。”方怡道:“你不识字?你骗我。” Trinket felt sorry for her, and relented. ‘Oh well, write whatever you like. I can’t read anyway. Perhaps on second thoughts it’s better if you don’t tell him you’re marrying me. It’s bound to make him mad.’ ‘I bet you can read,’ said Fang Yi. ‘You’re tricking me.’韦小宝道:“我如识字,我是乌龟王八蛋,不是你老公,是你儿子,是你灰孙子。”方怡提笔沉吟,只感难以落笔,抽抽噎噎的又哭了起来。’If I can read, I’m a rotten turtle, not your husband!’ Fang Yi tried again, but broke down in tears a second time.

韦小宝满腔豪气,难以抑制,大声道:“好啦,好啦!我救了刘一舟出来之后,你嫁给他便是,我不跟他争了。’Oh all right!’ said Trinket, in a sudden fit of magnanimity. I’ll rescue him, and then you can marry him! I’m buggered if I’m going to spend my life competing with him!反正你跟了我之后,还是要去和他轧姘头,与其将来戴绿帽,做乌龟,还是让你快快活活的,去嫁给他妈的这刘一舟。你爱写什么便写什么,他妈的,老子什么都不放在心上了。” Even if you did marry me, you’d only be mooning for him all the time. You’d end up sleeping with him anyway. You’d might as well get on with it, marry him, and live happily ever after. Tamardy! Put down whatever you like. I don’t care.’

方怡一对含着泪水的大眼向他瞧了一眼,低下头来,眼光中既有欢喜之意,亦有感激之情,在纸上写了几行字,将纸折成一个方胜,说道:“请……请你交给他。” Fang Yi looked at him out of big, tear-filled eyes. A happy little wraith of a smile crossed her face, mingled with real gratitude. She wrote a few lines, and folded the paper. There. Please would you give him this.’韦小宝心中暗骂:“他妈的,你啊你的,大哥也不叫一声,过河拆桥,放完了焰口不要和尚。” ‘I like that!’ Trinket thought to himself. ‘I’ve been downgraded to plain old you already! She didn’t lose much time dumping me!’但他既已逞了英雄好汉,装出一股豪气干云的模样,便不能罢逼着方怡做老婆,接过方胜,往怀中一揣,头也不回的出门去了,心想:“要做英雄,就得自己吃亏。好好一个老婆,又双手送了给人。” But he decided not to make a fuss. He took the message, put it in his inside pocket, and walked out of the room, without even looking back. If he was going to play the part of the hero, he might as well do it properly.
乾清官侧侍卫房值班的头儿这时已换了张康年。他早一晚已得了多隆的嘱咐,要相助桂公公将刺客救出宫去,却不可露出丝毫形迹,让刺客起疑,见韦小宝到来,忙迎将上去,使个眼色,和他一同走到假山之侧,低声问道:“桂公公,你要怎生救人?” The officer on duty in the Guardroom now was Trinket’s other friend, Zhang Kangnian. Zhang had already been briefed the previous evening by Dolong about Trinket’s secret mission. He greeted Trinket with a knowing wink, and drew him aside to a secluded spot by a large rock. ‘How are you going to manage this “escape”, Laurel Goong-goong?’ he asked.韦小宝见他神态亲热,心想:“皇上命我杀个把侍卫救人,好让刘一舟他们不起疑心。这张老哥对我甚好,倒有些不忍杀他。Trinket took one look at Zhang’s friendly face and realized he could not possibly kill him just to establish his own credibility with the prisoners (as the Emperor had suggested).好在有臭小娘一封书信,这姓刘的杀胚是千信万信的了。”沉吟道:“我再去审审这三个龟儿子,随机应变便了。” Luckily he now had Fang Yi’s message, which should do the trick just as well. ‘First I’ll go in and interrogate those three turtles,’ he said in reply to Zhang’s question. ‘After that I don’t know; I’ll play it by ear.’

张康年笑着请了个安,道:“多谢桂公公。”韦小宝道:“又谢什么了?”张康年道:“小人跟着桂公公办事,以后公公一定不断提拔。小人升官发财,那是走也走不掉的了。”韦小宝微笑道:“你赤胆忠心给皇上当差,将来只怕一件事。”张康年一惊,问道:“怕什么?”韦小宝道:“就只怕你家里的库房太小,装不下这许多银子。”张康年哈哈大笑,跟着收起笑声,低声道:“公公,我们十几个侍卫暗中都商量好了,大家尽力给公公办事,说什么要保公公做到宫里的太监总首领。”

韦小宝微笑道:“那可妙得很了,等我大得几岁再说罢。”跟着想起钱老本送活猪补漏洞的事来,问道:“瑞副总管哪里去了?多总管跟你们大家忙得不可开交,怎地一直不见瑞副总管?”张康年道:“多半是太后差他出宫办事去了。”韦小宝点点头,道:“你见到瑞副总管时,请他到我屋里来一趟。皇上吩咐了,有几句话要问他。”张康年答应了。

韦小宝走进侍卫房,来到绑缚刘一舟等三人的厅中。一晚不见,三人的精神又委顿了许多,He made his way into the room where the three prisoners were being held. They looked weak and dispirited.虽然未再受拷打,但两日两晚未进饮食,便铁打的汉子也顶不住了。厅中看守的七八名侍卫齐向韦小宝请安,神态十分恭敬。The effects of two days without food or water were beginning to tell. There were seven or eight junior guards keeping watch over them.

韦小宝大声道:“皇上有旨,这三个反贼大逆不道,立即斩首示众。快去拿些酒肉饭菜来,让他们吃得饱饱地,免得死了做饿鬼。”众侍卫齐声答应。
‘His Majesty has decided to have these three executed at once,’ Trinket said to the guards. ‘Go and fetch something for them to eat and drink. They must die on full stomachs, or we’ll have three hungry ghosts on our hands.’ Several of the guards went to do his bidding.

那虬髯汉子吴立身大声道:“我们为平西王尽忠而死,流芳百世,胜于你们这些给鞑子做奴才的畜生万倍。” ‘At least we’ll die glorious deaths!’ bellowed the curly-bearded Shaker Wu. ‘Faithful to our master the Satrap! Not filthy Tartar lackeys!’一名侍卫提起鞭子,刷的一鞭打去,骂道:“吴三桂这反贼,叫他转眼就满门抄斩。”刘一舟神情激动,双眼向天,口唇轻轻颤动,不知在说些什么。One of the guards gave him a few lashes with a whip, and cursed the name of the Satrap. Throughout this Liu Yizhou was staring frantically at the ceiling, mumbling something inaudible.
众侍卫拿了三大碗饭、三大碗酒进来。韦小宝道:“这三个反贼听得要杀头,吓得全身发抖,只怕酒也喝不下,饭也吃不落啦。三位兄弟辛苦些,喂他们每人喝两口酒,可不能多喝。这一大碗饭嘛,就喂他们吃了。要是喝得醉了,杀起头来不知道颈子痛,可太便宜了他们。去到阴世,阎罗王见到三个酒鬼,大大生气,每个酒鬼先打三百军棍,那可又害苦了他们。” The guards came back with the food and drink. ‘Don’t give them too much to drink!’ said Trinket. They mustn’t die drunk, or they won’t feel the pain!’众侍卫都笑了起来,喂三人喝酒吃饭。吴立身大口喝酒,大口吃饭,神色自若。敖彪吃一口饭骂一句:“狗奴才!”Shaker Wu ate and drank his fill. Ao Biao, his much-tattooed disciple, ate his food, and with every mouthful uttered some foul execration.刘一舟脸色惨白,食不下咽,吃不到小半碗,就摇头不吃了。Liu Yizhou grew paler in the face than ever. He was unable to swallow his wine, and after eating half a bowl of rice, shook his head and ate no more.

韦小宝道:“好啦,大伙儿出去。皇上叫我问他们几句话,问了之后再杀头。” ‘I want to be left alone now with the prisoners,’ ordered Trinket. ‘His Majesty has ordered me to ask them one or two last questions.’张康年躬身道:“是!”领着众侍卫出去,带上了门。韦小宝听得众人脚步声走远,咳嗽一声,侧头向吴立身等三人打量,脸上露出诡秘的笑容。Zhang took the hint and led his men off. The minute the guards were out of earshot, Trinket gave a little cough, and turned to face the three prisoners. A conspiratorial smile spread across his face.吴立身骂道:“狗太监,有什么好笑?”韦小宝笑道:“我自笑我的,关你什么事?”刘一舟突然说道:“公公,我……我就是刘一舟!” ‘Damn you, you dirty little gelding! What’s so funny?’ It was Shaker Wu who spoke. ‘None of your business,’ replied Trinket. ‘Just a little private joke of my own.’ Suddenly Liu Yizhou spoke up: ‘Goong-goong . . . I’m the one! It’s me! I’m . . . I’m Liu Yizhou!’

韦小宝一怔,还未答话。吴立身和敖彪已同时喝了起来:“你胡说什么?”刘一舟道:“公公,求求你救我一救,救……救我们一救。” Trinket stared at him in silence. ‘Hold your stupid tongue!’ cried both Wu and Ao Biao together. ‘Goong-goong!’ continued Liu undeterred. ‘I beg you, save me … Save us!’吴立身喝道:“贪生怕死,算什么英雄好汉,何必开口求人?”刘一舟道:“他……他说小公爷和我师父,托……托他来救……救我们的。”吴立身摇头道:“他这等骗人的言语,也信得的?” ‘Coward!’ cried Wu. ‘Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?’ ‘He said he’d been sent by our people to save us!’ ‘And you believed him?’ Wu shook his head.

韦小宝笑道:“‘摇头狮子’吴老爷子,你就瞧在我脸上,少摇几次头罢。” Trinket laughed. ‘Sir Wu,’ he said, ‘the Shaker Lion, if I’m not mistaken? Would you do me a favour, and try not to shake your head at me quite so often!’吴立身一惊,道:“你……你……”韦小宝笑道:“这一位青毛虎敖彪敖大哥,是你的得意弟子,是不是?名师必出高徒,佩服,佩服。”吴立身和敖彪脸上变色,惊疑不定。Wu started.

‘How do you . . .’ Trinket laughed again. ‘And you, Brother Ao Biao, the Blue Tiger, isn’t it? The Lion’s favourite disciple? Honoured to meet you!’ Both Wu and Ao stared at him in disbelief.韦小宝从怀中取出方怡所折的那个方胜,打了开来,放在刘一舟面前,笑道:“你瞧这是谁写的字?” Trinket took the folded message from his inside pocket and held it out in front of Liu Yizhou. ‘Whose is this writing?’
刘一舟一看,大喜过望,颤声道:“这真是方师妹的笔迹。吴师叔,方师妹说这……这位公公是来救我们的,叫我一切都听他的话。” Liu read the message, and as he did so an expression of hope and joy spread across his face. This is from my sister-in-arms, Fang Yi! She says Goong-goong has come to rescue us and we are to do whatever he tells us!’吴立身道:“给我瞧瞧。”韦小宝将那张纸拿到吴立身眼前,心想:“这上面不知写了些什么情话。我这大老婆不要脸,一心想偷汉子,什么肉麻的话都写得出。” ‘Let me see it!’ muttered Wu. Trinket handed him the paper, thinking to himself that it most probably contained all manner of extravagant declarations of love.只听吴立身读道:“‘刘师哥:桂公公是自己人,义薄云天,干冒奇险,前来相救,务须听桂公公指示,求脱虎口。妹怡手启。”嗯,这上面画了我们沐王府的记认花押,倒是不假。” Wu read it aloud: ‘”Dear Brother Liu: The bearer of this letter, Laurel Goong-goong, is one of us. He is a brave and honourable friend, and has come to save you from certain death! You must do whatever he says. Your sister, Fang Yi.” Hm, she has even written our secret Mu Family mark. It must be genuine.’
韦小宝听方怡在信中称赞自己“义薄云天”,不明白“义薄云天”是什么意思,心想义气总是越厚越好,“薄”得飞上了天,还有什么剩下的?但以前曾好几次听人说过,知道确是一句大大的好话,又听她信中并没对刘一舟说什么肉麻情话,更是欢喜,说道:“那还有假的?”刘一舟问道:“公公,我那方师妹在哪里?”韦小宝心道:“在我床上。”口中说道:“她此刻躲在一个安稳的所在,我救了你们出去之后,再设法救她,和你相会。” ‘Of course it’s genuine,’ said Trinket. ‘Goong-goong, where is she?’ asked Liu Yizhou. ‘In a very safe place,’ replied Trinket (thinking to himself, ‘Yes—safely tucked up in my bed!’). ‘When I have rescued you,’ he went on aloud, ‘I’ll rescue her, and the two of you will be reunited.’刘一舟眼泪夺眶而出,哽咽道:“公公的大恩大德,真不知何以为报。”他适才听韦小宝说,吃过酒饭后便提出去杀头,他本来胆大,可是突然间面临生命关头,恐惧之情再也难以克制,忍不住声称自己便是刘一舟,只盼在千钧一发之际留得性命,待见到方怡的书信,得知活命有望,这一番欢喜当真难以形容。For all his earlier blustering, when it came to the crunch, Liu had been undone by his terror of death. It was fear that had driven him to reveal his identity. He now started blubbing like a baby, sobbing his heart out, and swearing his undying gratitude to Trinket.吴立身却临危不惧,仍要查究清楚,问道:“请问阁下尊姓大名。何以肯加援手?” Shaker Wu, whose courage had not faltered for a moment, was still in need of convincing. ‘Would you please tell us your name?’ he asked. ‘And why you are doing this for us?’
韦小宝道:“索性对你们说明白了。我的朋友都叫我癞痢头小三子,你们别奇怪,我从前是癞痢,现今不癞了。’In the circumstances, I think I ought to tell you,’ replied Trinket. ‘My friends all call me Warthead. That’s because I used to be covered in warts.我有个好朋友,是天地会青木堂的香主,名叫韦小宝。I have a very good friend called Trinket, who is Lodge Master of the Triad Green Wood Lodge.他说天地会中有个老头儿,叫做八臂猿猴徐天川,为了争执拥唐、拥桂什么的,打死了你们沐王府的白寒松。He told me that a Triad by the name of Xu, the Eight-Armed Ape I think he’s known as, got into an argument with one of your men about Prince Somebody-or-other, and ended up killing him. Your man’s name was Pine Somebody-or-other.沐家小公爷和白寒枫不肯甘休,但人死了活不转来,没有法子,那韦小宝就来托我救你们三位出去,赔还给沐王府,以便顾全双方义气。” Anyway, your Mu people were very upset about it. You can’t bring back the dead, so my friend Trinket asked me if I could rescue you. He said that might help to settle the score’

跟天地会的纠葛,吴立身知道得很明白,当下更无怀疑,不住的又摇头,又点头,说道:“这就是了。在下适才言语冒犯,多有得罪。” Shaker Wu knew about the scrap with the Triads, and all this accurate inside information finally convinced him of the genuineness of Trinket’s mission. He kept shaking his head and nodding by turns, and ended up apologizing for his earlier rudeness.韦小宝笑道:“好说,好说!只不过如何逃出宫去,可得想个妙法。”刘一舟道:“桂公公想的法子,必是妙的,我们都听从你的吩咐便了。” ‘Forget it!’ said Trinket gallantly. ‘What we’ve got to do now is think of a way out of here!’ ‘You just tell us your plan,’ said Liu Yizhou. ‘We’ll do whatever you say, Goong-goong.’

韦小宝心道:“我可还没想出什么主意呢。”问吴立身道:“吴老爷子可有什么计策?” That’s the whole trouble,’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘I haven’t got a plan.’ ‘What do you think?’吴立身道:“皇宫里狗侍卫极多,白天是闯不出去的。等到晚间,你来设法割断我们手脚上的牛筋,让我们乘黑冲杀出去便是。” he asked, turning to Shaker Wu. ‘With all these pesky guards around, we don’t stand much of a chance during daylight,’ replied Wu. ‘It had better be tonight. If you can manage to cut us free, we can try to get out under cover of darkness.’韦小宝道:“此计极妙,就怕不是十拿九稳。”在厅上走来走去,筹思计策。敖彪道:“冲得出去最好,冲不出去,至不济也不过是个死。” ‘Good thinking,’ said Trinket. ‘But it still won’t be easy’ He walked up and down the room, deep in thought. ‘Let’s just make a dash for it!’ said Ao Biao. The worst they can do is kill us!’刘一舟道:“敖师哥,别打断桂公公的思路。”敖彪怒目向他瞪视。’Be quiet, Brother Ao,’ said Liu Yizhou. ‘You’re disturbing Goong-goong’s concentration.’ Ao Biao scowled angrily at Liu. Trinket’s Cunning Plan
That’s the whole trouble,’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘I haven’t got a plan.’ ‘What do you think?’ he asked, turning to Shaker Wu. ‘With all these pesky guards around, we don’t stand much of a chance during daylight,’ replied Wu. ‘It had better be tonight. If you can manage to cut us free, we can try to get out under cover of darkness.’ ‘Good thinking,’ said Trinket. ‘But it still won’t be easy’ He walked up and down the room, deep in thought. ‘Let’s just make a dash for it!’ said Ao Biao. The worst they can do is kill us!’ ‘Be quiet, Brother Ao,’ said Liu Yizhou. ‘You’re disturbing Goong-goong’s concentration.’ Ao Biao scowled angrily at Liu.

Trinket’s Cunning Plan

韦小宝心想:“最好是有什么迷药,将侍卫们迷倒,便可不伤人命。”走到外室,向张康年道:“张大哥,我要用些迷药,你能不能立刻给我弄些来。” What was going through Trinket’s mind was this: if he could drug the guards, then the prisoners could escape without his having to kill anyone. He went out into the ante-chamber and asked his friend Zhang Kangnian if he could lay his hands on any opiate.张康年笑道:“行,行。赵二哥那里现成有的是蒙汗药,我马上去拿。”韦小宝笑问:“赵二哥身边有蒙汗药?作什么用的?”张康年低声道:“不瞒公公说,前日瑞副总管差我们去拿一个人,吩咐了要悄悄的干,不能张扬。这人武功了得,我们只怕明刀明枪的动手多伤人命,而且不能活捉。赵二哥就去弄了一批蒙汗药来,做了手脚。”韦小宝心道:“你们打不过人家,就搞鬼计。”问道:“结果大功告成?”张康年笑道:“手到擒来。”韦小宝听说是瑞栋要他们去办的事,就得多问几句:“捉的是什么人?犯了什么事?” It turned out that Zhang had a supply ready mixed. It had been prepared for them to use on a secret mission. Colonel Rui Dong, acting on the Empress Dowager’s orders, had sent them to apprehend a man who was something of a fighter, and they had thought it prudent to use the drug rather than rely on their own kungfu skills.张康年道:“是宗人府的镶红旗统领和察博,听说是得罪了太后。瑞副总管把他捉来后,逼他缴了一部经书出来,后来在他嘴上、鼻上贴了桑皮纸,就这么活生生的闷死了他。” The man had been none other than Hochabo, the Head Bannerman of the Bordered Red Banner. The Empress Dowager, so Zhang explained, had wanted to get hold of a copy of some Sutra or other that he possessed. Colonel Rui had duly extracted the Sutra from him, and then afterwards suffocated him, by sticking mulberry-bark adhesive paper over his mouth and his nose.

韦小宝听得暗暗心惊:“原来老婊子为的又是那部《四十二章经》。瑞栋取到经书后,干么不立即去交给老婊子,却藏在自己身上?’So the Old Whore was after that Sutra again!’ thought Trinket to himself. That must be the copy I found on the Colonel’s body I wonder why he didn’t give it straight to the Empress Dowager?还不是想自行吞没吗?”随即想到瑞栋决不敢吞没经书:“嗯,是了,老婊子一见到瑞栋,来不及问经书的事,立即便派他来杀我。瑞栋是想先杀老子,再缴经书,却变成了戏文‘长坂坡’中那个夏侯什么的小花脸,先送性命,再送宝剑。老子这可不成了七进七出的常山赵子龙吗?” Perhaps she sent him off after me again in too much of a hurry?’随口问道:“那是什么经书?这样要紧。”张康年道:“那可不知道了。我这就取蒙汗药去。”韦小宝道:“烦你再带个讯,叫膳房送两桌上等酒席来,是我相请众位哥儿的。”张康年喜道:“公公又赏酒喝。只要跟着公公,吃的喝的,一辈子不用愁短得了。” Zhang went to get the drug, and Trinket gave orders for the kitchens to prepare a meal for him and his friends the guards.过不多时,张康年取了蒙汗药来,好大的一包,怕不有半斤多重,低声笑道:“这一大包药,足够迷倒几百人。Presently Zhang returned with a large packet—it must have weighed at least half a catty. This should be enough to put several hundred people to sleep!’ he whispered to Trinket. ‘点子倘若只有一人,用手指甲挑这么一点儿,和在茶里酒里,那就够了。”跟着吩咐众侍卫搬桌摆凳,说道桂公公赏酒。众侍卫大喜,忙着张罗。For one person, you only need to tip a tiny bit, this much,’ (he held out a fingernail), ‘into a cup of tea or wine.’ Zhang told the guards to set a couple of tables, as Laurel Goong-goong was going to treat them to a big meal.

韦小宝道:“把酒席摆在犯人厅里,咱们乐咱们的,让他妈的这三个刺客瞧得眼红,馋涎滴滴流。” ‘Set the tables in the room right in front of the prisoners,’ said Trinket. ‘I’d like to watch them drool while we stuff ourselves!’酒席设好,御膳房的管事太监已率同小太监和苏拉(按:清宫中低级杂役,满洲语称为“苏拉”),挑了食盒前来,将菜肴酒壶放在桌上。Presently senior and junior eunuchs and serving-boys from the Imperial Catering Department brought in the food.韦小宝笑道:“你们三个反贼,干这大逆不道之事,死到临头,还在嘴硬,现下瞧着老爷们喝酒吃菜,倘若馋得熬不过,扮一声狗叫,老爷就赏你一块肉吃。”众侍卫哈哈大笑。’You just stand there and watch us while we eat!’ cried Trinket, addressing the three prisoners with a hearty laugh. ‘If it’s really too much for you and you start yelping like dogs, who knows, I might even toss you a scrap!’ The guards joined in his laughter.

吴立身骂道:“狗侍卫、臭太监,我们平西王爷指日就从云南起兵,一路打到北京来,将你们这些侍卫、太监一古脑儿捉了,都丢到河里喂王八。” ‘You’re the dogs!’ cried Shaker Wu. ‘Damn the lot of you! When the Satrap raises arms in Yunnan, and storms the Capital, you’ll all be lolled and thrown into the river to feed the turtles!’韦小宝右手伸入怀里,手掌里抓了半把蒙汗药,左手拿起酒壶,Trinket meanwhile had walked over and was standing right in front of Wu. He reached inside his jacket with his right hand and took out a large pinch of the powder, then picked up the wine jug in his left hand.走到吴立身面前,提高酒壶,笑道:“反贼,你想不想喝酒?”吴立身不明他的用意,大声道:“喝也罢,不喝也罢!平西王大兵一到,你这小太监也是性命难逃。” He raised the jug high in the air and cried: ‘Well, you treacherous scum, any of you fancy a drink of wine?’ Shaker Wu was still in the dark as to Trinket’s intentions. ‘Who gives a damn if we drink or not?’ he bellowed. ‘Once the Satrap gets here, you are all dead men!’

韦小宝冷笑道:“那也未必!”高高提起酒壶,仰起了头,将酒从空中倒将下来,张嘴接住了,一口吞将下去,赞道:“好酒。”左手平放胸前,用食指拨开壶盖,将右掌中的蒙汗药都撒入壶中,’Oh yeah?’ cried Trinket. He raised the jug high in the air and poured a little into his own mouth. ‘Good wine!’ Then, in such a way that only Shaker Wu could see what he was doing, he tipped open the lid of the jug and used his finger to flick the powder from his right hand into the wine.跟着拨上了壶盖,左手提高酒壶,在半空中不住摇晃,笑道:“好反贼,死到临头,还在胡说八道。”他放蒙汗药之时,身子遮住酒壶,除吴立身一人之外,谁也没见,这一摇晃,将蒙汗药与酒尽数混和。Closing the lid he raised the jug high in the air again and gave it a good shake, thereby ensuring that the drug was properly dissolved in the wine吴立身瞧在眼里,登时领悟,暗暗欢喜,大声道:“大丈夫死就死了,出言求饶,不是好汉。你这壶酒,痛痛快快的就让老子喝了。”韦小宝笑道:“你想喝酒,偏不给你喝,哈哈,哈哈!” Shaker Wu now had the picture. ‘A proper man dies proud! He doesn’t beg for mercy!’ he cried, ‘Go on, I’ll drink! I’ll drink the whole damn jug!’ ‘So you would like a drink!’ laughed Trinket ”Well, I’m not giving you one! Ha ha ha!’

转身回到席上,给众侍卫都满满斟了一杯酒。张康年等都一齐站起,说道:“不敢当,怎敢要公公斟酒?”韦小宝道:“大家自己兄弟,何必客气?”举起杯来,说道:“请,请!”众侍卫正要饮酒,门外忽然有人大声道:“太后传小桂子。小桂子在这儿么?” And he went over and began pouring wine for the guards, making sure they each had a full cup. They all raised their cups and were about to drink when there was a loud cry from the door. ‘Her Majesty has summoned Laurel Goong-goong! Laurel Goong-goong!’韦小宝吃了一惊,说道:“在这儿!”放下酒杯,心道:“老婊子又来找我干什么?”迎将出去,见是四名太监,为首的一人挺胸凸肚,来势颇为不善,The Old Whore’s after me again!’ thought Trinket, putting his wine-cup down with a jolt. He went out to End four eunuchs waiting for him, their leader a big, nasty-looking fellow with a large protruding belly and puffed-out chest.当即跪下,道:“奴才小桂子接旨。”那太监道:“皇太后有要紧事,命你即刻去慈宁宫。”韦小宝道:“是,是。” Trinket fell to his knees: ‘At Her Majesty’s service!’ ‘Her Majesty wishes to see you at once on urgent business!’ ‘Of course! Of course!’ Trinket did some very quick thinking.

站起身来,心想:“迷药酒都已斟下了,我一离开,众侍卫自然立即喝酒,西洋镜马上拆穿,那也罢了。慈宁宫可万万去不得。你慈宁宫是丽春院吗?你老婊子差人上门来请财主大少?”这时身旁侍卫众多,心中倒也并不惶恐,笑问:“公公贵姓,以前咱们怎地没见过?”那太监哼了一声,说道:“我叫董金魁,这就快去罢,太后等着呢,已到处找了你半天啦!”

韦小宝一把拉住他手腕,道:“董公公,快来瞧瞧一件有趣事儿。” His strongest weapon was inside the room, dissolved in the wine. ‘Come in here a moment,’ he said to the eunuchs. ‘There’s something that will interest you greatly.’拉着他向内走去。董金魁听说是有趣事儿,便跟着走进内厅,眼见开着两桌酒席,便大声道:“好啊,你们可享福得很哪。小桂子,太后派你经管御膳房,你却假公济私,拿了太后和皇上的银子胡花。”韦小宝笑道:“众位侍卫兄弟擒贼有功,皇上命我犒赏三军。来来来,董公公,还有这三位公公,大家坐下来喝一杯。” He ushered all four eunuchs into the room where he and the guards had been about to tuck in to their banquet. The big eunuch made some disapproving remark or other about wasting Catering Department resources.董金魁摇头道:“我不喝!太后传你,还不快去?”韦小宝笑道:“众位侍卫大人都是好朋友,你一杯酒也不跟人家喝,那可太也瞧不起人了。”董金魁道:“我不喝酒。”韦小宝向张康年使个眼色,道:“张大哥,这位董公公架子不小,不肯跟咱们喝酒。”张康年拿起一杯酒来,送到董金魁手中,笑道:“董公公,大家凑个趣儿。” ‘But His Majesty specially asked me to reward these guards for having caught the assassins! Come on, join us! At least have a drink with us!’ The big eunuch refused, and insisted that the Empress Dowager was urgently awaiting Laurel Goong-goong’s presence.
董金魁无奈,只得干了一杯。韦小宝带笑道:“这才够朋友,那三位公公也喝一杯。”那三名太监从侍卫手中移过酒杯,也都喝了。韦小宝道:“好!大伙儿都奉陪一杯。”在四只空酒杯中又斟满了酒。众侍卫一齐举杯喝了。With a Little support from Zhang Kangnian, Trinket succeeded in wearing down the eunuch’s resistance, and eventually had him drinking a cup, and then the other three eunuchs and all of the guards followed suit.韦小宝举杯时以左手袖子遮住了酒杯,酒杯一侧,将一杯药酒都倒入了袖子。他生恐一杯酒力不够,又要替众人斟酒。Trinket raised his own cup, as he did so screening it with his left sleeve and tipping the contents down the inside of his gown. Fearful that one cup would not be enough to put them out, he urged them all to drink another, and went round again with the jug.一名侍卫接过酒壶,道:“我来斟!”董金魁皱眉道:“桂公公,咱们一听太后宣召,谁都立刻拔脚飞奔而去。你这么自顾自的喝酒,那可是大不敬哪!”韦小宝笑道:“这中间有个缘故,来来来,大家喝了这一杯,我就说个明白。”张康年举起杯来,道:“董公公请。”董金魁道:“我可没功夫喝酒。” The big eunuch protested strongly that they should be on their way, and that anyway he was not much of a drinker.说着身子微微一晃。韦小宝知他肚中蒙汗药即将发作,突然弯腰,叫道:“啊哟,肚子痛。” As he spoke, Trinket noticed that he was beginning to sway from side to side, and deduced that the drug was beginning to take effect. Suddenly Trinket himself doubled up as if he was in pain. ‘Aiyo! My stomach!’

众侍卫都感一阵头晕,有人便道:“怎么,这酒不对!” The guards were by this time beginning to feel dizzy. One of them cried out: ‘What’s going on here? Has someone put something in the wine?’韦小宝大声怒道:“董公公,你奉太后之命,赐毒酒给我们喝,是不是?为什么你在酒里下毒?”董金魁大惊,颤声道:“哪……哪有此事?”韦小宝道:“你好狠的手段,竟敢在酒里下毒?众位兄弟,大伙儿给他拚了。” ‘It’s you, isn’t it?’ Trinket shouted angrily at the big eunuch. The Empress Dowager sent you here to poison us, didn’t she!’ The eunuch denied this vigorously but Trinket called on me guards to seize him.众侍卫头晕脑胀,茫然失措。只听得砰砰两声响,两名太监挨不住药力,先行摔倒。跟着董金魁、张康年、众侍卫和余下一名太监先后摔倒,The guards themselves were starting to sway from side to side, and incapable of taking action of any sort. There was a series of thuds as two eunuchs crashed to the floor unconscious, to be followed shordy by the other two and the entire company of guards, including Zhang Kangnian.跌得桌翻椅倒,乱成一团。As they fell to the ground and collapsed in a heap, they brought down the tables and chairs with them.韦小宝抢上前去,在董金魁身上踢了一脚。董金魁唔的一声,手足微微一动,双眼已难睁开。Trinket leapt on top of the big eunuch and gave him a kick for good measure. He groaned and lay there, his hands and feet twitching, his eyes staring helplessly in front of him.

韦小宝大喜,先奔过去掩上了厅门,拔出匕首,在董金魁和三名太监胸口一人一剑。Trinket ran to the door and closed it, then he drew out his trusty dagger and proceeded to stab all four eunuchs in me chest.刘一舟“啊”的一声,大为惊讶。韦小宝再用匕首将吴立身、刘一舟、敖彪手足上绑缚的牛筋尽数割断。他这匕首削铁如泥,割牛筋如割粉丝面条。Liu Yizhou gasped in astonishment. Next Trinket used the dagger to cut free the three prisoners. The blade sliced through the lengths of tough ox screw as if they had been strips of the softest noodle.吴立身等三人武功均颇不弱,吴立身尤其了得,三人虽受拷打,但都是皮肉之伤,并未损到筋骨。The three men had been tortured and bound, but their injuries were only superficial. They were now impatient to get away刘一舟道:“桂公公,咱……咱们怎生逃出去?”韦小宝道:“吴老爷子,敖师兄,你们两位找两个身材差不多的侍卫,跟他们换了衣衫。刘师兄,你没胡子,可以假扮太监,跟这姓董的换了衣衫。”刘一舟道:“我也扮侍卫罢?”韦小宝道:“不行!你假扮太监。”刘一舟不敢违拗,点了点头。三人迅即改换了装束。’Laurel Goong-goong,’ asked Liu Yizhou, ‘how do we … get out of here?’ Trinket ordered Shaker Wu and Ao Biao to change into guards’ uniforms, and Liu to put on the clothes of the big eunuch. They obeyed without hesitation.

韦小宝道:“你们跟我来。不论有谁跟你们说话,只管扮哑巴,不可答话。”从怀中取出化尸药粉,’Come with me,’ said Trinket. ‘Whatever anyone says to you, act dumb! Say nothing!’ From his inside pocket he produced a packet of Decomposing Powder.拉开董金魁的尸体,放在厅角,用匕首在他上身、下身到处戳上几个洞,每个洞中都弹上些药粉,让尸体销毁得加倍迅速,He dragged the big eunuch’s body over to a corner of the room, stabbed it a few more times, and then sprinkled the powder directly into the wounds. That would hasten the decomposition process.这才开了厅门,领着三人出去。一出侍卫房,反手带上了房门,径向御膳房而去。Then he opened the door, and led the three out. He closed the door behind them, and they all set off towards the Imperial Catering Department.

The Escape

御膳房在乾清宫之东,与侍卫房相距甚近,The Catering Department was situated to the east of the Hall of Heavenly Purity, not far from the Guardroom.片刻间便到了。只见钱老板早已恭恭敬敬的站着等候,手下几名汉子抬来了两口洗剥干净的大光猪。
They reached it quickly, and found Butcher Qian waiting for them. He had brought two of his assistants, who were carrying two large, carefully prepared pig carcasses.

韦小宝脸色一沉,喝道:“老钱,你这太也不成话了!我吩咐你抬几口好猪来,却用这般又瘦又干、生过十七八胎的老母猪来敷衍老子,你……你……他妈的,你这碗饭还想吃不吃哪?” ‘What the devil are you playing at!’ cried Trinket, a convincing scowl on his face. ‘I asked for a couple of decent hogs, not these worn-out lanky sows that look like they’ve had seventeen or eighteen litters of piglets! Tamardy! I hope you realize your job’s on the line!他骂一句,钱老板惶惶恐恐的躬身应一声:“是!”Butcher Qian stooped low and made a convincingly abject apology.御膳房众太监见钱老板所抬来的,实在是两口肥壮大猪,但挑剔送来的货物不妥,原是御膳房管事太监捞油水的不二法门,任你送来的牛羊鸡鸭绝顶上等,在管事太监口中,也变成了连施舍叫化子也没人要的臭货贱货。只有送货人银子一包包的递上来,臭贱之物才摇身一变,变成了可入皇帝、皇后之口的精品。众太监听韦小宝这等说,心下雪亮,跟着连声吆喝:“撵出去!这两口发臭了烂猪,只好丢在菜地里当肥料。” The other Catering Department eunuchs assumed that the problem lay in the lack of accompanying ‘presents’ (since the pigs seemed plump enough) and joined in with a chorus of: ‘Take these foul-looking animals away! They’re fit for nothing but fertilizer!’

韦小宝愈加恼怒,手一挥,向吴立身等三人道:“两位侍卫大哥,还有这位公公,你们三个押了这家伙出去,撵到宫门外,再也不许它们进来。” Trinket waved to his companions (Shaker and Ao Biao dressed as guards, Liu as a eunuch) and ordered them to see the butcher to the door, and make sure he never came back.钱老板不知韦小宝是何用意,愁眉苦脸道:“公公原谅了这遭,小……小人回头去换更大更肥的肉猪来,另有薄礼……薄礼孝敬众位公公,这一次……这一次请公公多多包涵。” Butcher Qian was not in on this latest twist in Trinket’s plot, and gave a perplexed frown: ‘Please forgive me this once, Goong-goong, I’ll. . . I’ll come back with some really big fat porkers next time, I promise! And I’ll make sure I bring the right presents . . . Please forgive me!’韦小宝道:“我要肉猪,自会人来叫你。快去,快去!”钱老板欠腰道:“是,是!”御膳房众太监相视而笑,均想:“你有礼物孝敬,桂公公自然不会轰走你了。”吴立身、刘一舟、敖彪三人跟在钱老板身后,又推又拉,将他撵出厨房。韦小宝跟在后面,’If I want any more pork from you, I’ll let you know!’ snapped Trinket. ‘Now, get going!’ Butcher Qian hurried out, the three ex-prisoners following behind him, and Trinket bringing up the rear.来到走廊之中,四顾无人,低声说道:“钱老兄,这三位是沐王府的英雄,第一位便是大名鼎鼎的‘摇头狮子’吴老爷子。”钱老本“啊”的一声,喜道:“久仰,久仰。在下不回头招呼,三位莫怪。”吴立身听得他是韦小宝的同伴,心中大喜,忙道:“身在险地,理当如此。”韦小宝道:“钱老哥,你跟贵会韦香主说,癞痢头小三子帮他办成了。When they reached the covered walkway and there was no one in earshot, he whispered: ‘Brother Qian, these three men are from the Mu Family! I want you to take them to Count Mu’s place, and tell your Triad Lodge Master Wei that Warthead has done the favour he asked for.你领这三位好朋友去见沐小公爷和柳老爷子。这三位朋友一走,宫里立时便会追拿刺客,你可再也不能进宫来了。” Once they’ve escaped, there will be a big hunt on for them, and you’d better not come anywhere the Palace.’

钱老板道:“是,是。敝会上下,都感谢公公的大德。”吴立身问道:“这位钱朋友是天地会的?”钱老板道:“正是!”

五人快步来到神武门。守卫宫门的侍卫见到韦小宝,都恭恭敬敬问好:“桂公公好!”韦小宝道:“大伙儿都好。”这些侍卫虽见吴立身等三人面生,但见韦小宝挽着吴立身的右臂,自是谁也不敢书问一句。
The five of them hurried to the northern Gate of the Divine Warrior. The guards on duty at the gate recognized Trinket and let the party through. When they were a little way from the Palace, Trinket took his leave of the others and returned.

五人出得神武门,又走了数十步。韦小宝道:“在下要回宫去了,后会有期,大家不必多礼。”吴立身道:“救命之恩,不敢望报。此后天地会如有驱策,吴某敖某师徒,赴汤蹈火,在所不辞。”韦小宝道:“不敢当。”只见刘一舟大步走到前面,回头相望,自是怪吴立身何不快走,此处离宫门不远,尚未脱险。韦小宝微微一笑,回神武门来,向守门的侍卫道:“那公公是皇太后的亲信,说道奉了太后慈旨,命我亲自送这几人出宫。他妈的,可不知是什么路道!”守门的侍卫道:“好大的架子!怎能劳动桂公公的大驾?莫非是亲王贝勒不成?”另一名侍卫道:“就算是亲王贝勒,也不能要桂公公亲自相送啊。”韦小宝摇头道:“太后的差使,可教人莫名其妙。我心里可着实犯疑,只是那太监拿了太后的亲笔慈旨来,咱们做奴才的可不敢不办,是不是?”几名侍卫道:“是,是!那又有什么法子?”
As he passed back through the gate, he explained to the guards that the Empress Dowager had personally asked him to escort these men out of the Palace. They were bearing secret instructions from Her Majesty. The guards believed Laurel Goong-goong implicitly.

Mission Accomplished

韦小宝回到侍卫房中,见众人昏迷在地,兀自未醒,当下舀了一盆冷水,泼在张康年头上。张康年悠悠醒转,When Trinket returned to the Guardroom, he found them all still lying unconscious on the ground. He splashed some cold water on Zhang Kangnian’s face, and slowly succeeded in reviving his friend.微笑道:“桂公公,我怎地就这么容易的醉了?”老大不好意思的坐起,见到厅上情景,大吃一惊,颤声道:“怎……怎……那些刺客……已经走了?” ‘Laurel Goong-goong,’ said Zhang, with a perplexed smile, ‘I don’t understand how I can have got drunk so quickly.’ He looked around him, and saw to his astonishment that the prisoners had all gone.韦小宝道:“太后派了那姓董的太监来,使蒙汗药迷倒了咱们,将三名刺客救去了。” ‘It was the Empress Dowager,’ explained Trinket. ‘She sent that eunuch to drug our wine, and rescue the prisoners.’

那蒙汗药分明是张康年亲自拿来交给韦小宝的,听他这么说,心下全然不信,但药力初退,脑子兀自胡里胡涂的,不知如何置答。Zhang had himself provided Trinket with the drug. But although this fact was still fresh in his memory, and although he found Trinket’s story highly incredible, his brain was too befuddled for him to be able to say anything very articulate.韦小宝道:“张大哥,多总管命你暗中放了刺客,是不是?”张康年点头道:“多总管说,这是皇上的密旨,放了刺客,好追查主使的反贼头儿是谁。”韦小宝笑道:“是了。可是宫里走脱了刺客,负责看守的人有没有罪?”张康年一惊,道:“那……那自然有罪,不过……不过这是多总管吩咐过的,我们做下属的,不过奉命行事罢了。” Trinket reminded Zhang that it was his superior officer, Colonel Dolong, who had instructed him to cooperate in the release of the prisoners. Dolong had said that it was a secret plan of the Emperor’s, to track down the true perpetrators of the crime. But there were no written instructions from Dolong to that effect, and the guards would still be held officially responsible for the prisoners’ escape.韦小宝道:“多总管有手令给你没有?”张康年更加惊了,道:“没……没有。他亲口说了,用……用不着什么手令。多总管说道,这是奉了皇上的旨意办事。”韦小宝问道:“多总管拿了皇上亲笔的圣旨给你看了?”张康年颤声道:“没……没有。难道……难道多总管的话是假的?”全身发抖,牙齿上下相击,格格作声。And besides, said Trinket, had anyone seen a written Edict from the Emperor to Dolong? ‘You mean Colonel Dolong may have made the whole thing up?’ asked a shocked Zhang, his teeth chattering with fear.

韦小宝道:“假是不假。我就怕多总管不认帐,事到临头,往你身上一推,可有些不大妙。张大哥,皇上为什么要放刺客出去?”张康年道:“多总管说,要从这三名刺客身上,引出背后主使的人来。”韦小宝道:“事情倒确是这样。只不过宫中放走刺客,若不追究,连刺客也不会相信。这背后主使之人,就未必查得出。说不定皇上会杀几个人,张扬一下,好让刺客不起疑心。” ‘I’m not saying that,’ said Trinket. ‘Just that when it comes to the crunch, Dolong may try to put the blame for this on your shoulders. And if things go wrong, and the prisoners don’t lead them to the true ringleaders, His Majesty may want to kill a few people, just to make the escape look plausible.’这几句话韦小宝倒没冤枉了皇帝,康熙确曾命他杀几名侍卫,以坚被释的刺客之信。张康年惊惶之下,双膝跪倒,叫道:“公公救命!”说着连连磕头。This was in a way partly true: Kang Xi had instructed Trinket to do away with a few guards, to enhance the credibility of the Operation. Poor Zhang was now terrified, and felt to his knees, kow-towing and crying: ‘Save me, Goong-goong!’

韦小宝道:“张大哥何必多礼。”伸手扶起,笑道:“眼前有现成的朋友顶缸,咱们往这四名太监头上一推,说他们下蒙汗药迷倒了众人,放走刺客,可不跟你没干系了?皇上听说这四名太监是太后派来的,自然不会追究。皇上也不是真的要杀你,只要有人顶缸,将放走刺客之事遮掩了过去,皇上多半还有赏赐给你呢。” Trinket helped him to his feet. ‘It’s quite easy: we’ll just lay the blame on these four eunuchs. We’ll say the Empress Dowager sent them. His Majesty will be happy to leave it at that. He will probably even want to reward you.’张康年大喜,叫道:“妙计,妙汁!多谢公公救命之恩。”韦小宝心道:“这件事我虽没救你性命,但适才你昏迷不醒之时,没一剑将你杀了,却也是手下留情。皇上金口吩咐,叫我杀几名侍卫的。”说道:“咱们快救醒众兄弟,咬定是这四名太监来放了刺客。”张康年应道:“是,是!”但想不知是否真能脱却干系,兀自心慌意乱,手足发软,当下舀了冷水,将众侍卫一一救醒。众人听说是太监董金魁将自己迷倒,杀了三名太监,救了三名刺客,无不破口大骂。Zhang thanked Trinket profusely for saving his life. They splashed water on the faces of the other guards and woke them all up. The guards were filled with indignant rage when they were informed that the Empress Dowager’s big eunuch had drugged them, killed his fellow eunuchs, and made off with the prisoners.大家心中起疑:“太后为什么要放走刺客?莫非这些刺客是太后招来的?” Privately they wondered why the Empress Dowager should have wanted to set the prisoners free. Unless of course she herself had sent them on their assassination mission in the Erst place . . .但既牵涉到太后,人人都只在心中想想,谁也不敢宣之于口。这时董金魁的尸身衣服均已化尽,都道他已带领刺客逃进出宫了。But such a suspicion was one that no one dared voice openly, Needless to say, thanks to the Decomposition Powder, there was no actual trace of the big eunuch, and everyone assumed that he had escaped with the prisoners.

Crazy about a Coward

韦小宝回到自己住处,走进内房。沐剑屏忙问:“桂大哥,有什么消息?”韦小宝道:“桂大哥没消息,好哥哥倒有一些。” ‘Brother Laurel, what’s the news?’ the Little Countess asked Trinket as soon as he returned. ‘Brother Laurel has no news,’ replied Trinket, ‘Your darling might have though!’沐剑屏微笑道:“这消息我不着急,自有着急的人,来叫你好哥哥。”方怡脸上一阵晕红,低声道:“好兄弟!你年纪比我小,我叫你好兄弟,那可行了罢?”韦小宝叹了口气,说道:“好老婆变成了好姊姊,眼睛一霎,老母鸡变鸭。行了,救出去啦!”方怡猛地坐起,颤声道:“你……你说我刘师哥已救出去了?”韦小宝道:“大丈夫一言既出,什么马难追。我答应你去救,自然救了。” After a little more of this teasing banter, Trinket Enally communicated to the girls that Liu Yizhou was out of danger. ‘l said I’d do it,’ declared Trinket, ‘and I have. My word is my bond.’方怡道:“怎……怎么救的?”韦小宝笑道:“山人自有妙计。下次你见到你师哥,他自会说给你听。”方怡吁了口长气,抬头望着屋顶,道:“谢天谢地,当真是菩萨保佑。”韦小宝见到方怡这般欢喜到心坎里去的神情,心下着恼,轻轻哼了一声,也不说话。沐剑屏道:“师姊,你谢天谢地谢菩萨,怎不谢谢你那个好兄弟?”方怡道:“好兄弟的大恩大德,不是说一声‘谢谢’就能报答得了的。”韦小宝听她这么说,又高兴起来,说道:“那也不用怎么报答。” Fang Yi seemed overjoyed at the news. She uttered a brief prayer of thanksgiving to Heaven and Earth. Her reaction caused Trinket pangs of jealousy. But he said nothing.

方怡道:“好兄弟,刘师哥说了些什么话?”韦小宝道:“也没说什么,他只求我救他出去。” ‘What did he say when you saw him?’ asked Fang Yi. ‘Oh nothing much. He just begged me to get him out.’方怡“嗯”了一声,又问:“他问到我们没有?”韦小宝侧头想了想,说道:“没有。我跟他说,你是在一个安稳所在,不用担心,不久我就会送你去和他相会。” Fang Yi pouted. ‘Did he ask how I was?’ Trinket put his head to one side and pondered, ‘No. I told him you were somewhere safe, and that he needn’t worry. I said I’d be sending you to see him soon.’

方怡点头道:“是!”突然之间,两行眼泪从面颊上流了下来。’Yes!’ said Fang Yi, with a significant nod of the head. Suddenly two fat tears rolled down her cheeks.沐剑屏问道:“师姊,你怎么哭了?”方怡喉头哽咽,说道:“我……我心中欢喜。”
‘What are you crying for?’ asked the Little Countess. ‘I’m just so happy!’ sobbed Fang Yi.

韦小宝心道:“他妈的,你为了刘一舟这小白脸,欢喜得这个样子。这浪劲儿老子可不爱多瞧。Tamardy!’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘I can’t understand how you can be so crazy about that big coward!’小玄子叫我查究主使刺客的头儿,我得出去鬼混一番,然后回报。”当下出得宫去,信步来到天桥一带闲逛。Then he remembered that he had better at least appear to be searching for the prisoners’ ringleaders, and left the Palace once more, directly heading for the Bridge of Heaven district.

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