The Deer And The Cauldron 14


The Deer And The Cauldron 14
第十四回 放逐肯消亡国恨 岁时犹动楚人哀

United Front

北京天桥左近,都是卖杂货、变把戏、江湖闲杂人等聚居的所在。The area of Peking by the Bridge of Heaven is home to a modey assortment of pedlars, acrobats, street performers of every irnagin-able kind, and all sorts of other denizens of the River and Lake world.韦小宝还没走近,只见二十名差役蜂拥而来,As Trinket approached he saw a platoon of twenty policemen with two constables at their head, pushing their way through the crowd.两名捕快带头、手拖铁链,锁拿着五个衣衫褴褛的小贩。差役手中举着七八个麦杆扎成的草把,草把上插满了冰糖葫芦。这五个小贩显然都是卖冰糖葫芦的。They were dragging after them five ragged pedlars in chains, and were holding seven or eight sticks of small red candied crab-apples, which they had clearly impounded from the pedlars.

韦小宝心中一动,闪在一旁,眼见众差役锁着五名小贩而去,只听得人丛中有个老者叹道:“这年头儿,连卖冰糖葫芦也犯了天条啦。” Trinket suddenly realized what was going on. The Empress Dowager was rounding up every pedlar in town in an attenipt to get hold of his ‘contact’ with Colonel Rui. He ducked into a side-alley. As he did so he heard a bystander mutter with a sigh: ‘Nowadays even selling toffee-apples is a crime!’韦小宝正待询问,忽听得咳嗽一声,有个人挨进身来,弓腰曲背,满头白发,正是“八臂猿猴”徐天川。Trinket was about to question the Speaker when he heard a cough, and saw another man come sidling up to him. It was a stooped, white-haired old man, who on closer inspection turned out to be none other than Xu the Eight-Armed Ape.他向韦小宝使个眼色,转身便走。韦小宝跟在他后面。Xu gave Trinket a meaningful wink, turned around, and set off. Trinket followed him.

来到僻静之处,徐天川道:“韦香主,天大的喜事。”韦小宝微微一笑,心想:“我将吴立身他们教出去的事,你已经知道了。”说道:“那也没什么。” When they came to a more secluded place, Xu stopped and spoke: ‘Lodge Master Wei,’ he began. ‘Wonderful news!’ ‘So he’s already heard of the rescue!’ thought Trinket to himself with a smile. “It was nothing!” he replied, with becoming modesty.徐天川瞪眼道:“没什么?总舵主到了!” ‘Nothing!’ exclaimed Xu. I’m talking about the Helmsman! He’s here in the Capital!’

韦小宝一惊,道:“我……我师父到了?”徐天川道:“正是,是昨晚到的,要我设法通知韦香主,即刻去和他老人家相会。” Trinket was completely thrown by this. ‘My Shifu … in Peking?’ ‘Yes. He arrived yesterday evening. He asked me to arrange an immediate meeting with you. Lodge Master.’韦小宝道:“是,是!”跟师父分别了大半年,功夫一点也没练,师父一见到,立刻便会查究练功的进境,只有缴一份白卷,那便如何是好?’Of course!’ It was over six months since Trinket had last seen his Shifu, Helmsman Chen Jinnan, and in that time he had done absolutely no kungfu practice whatsoever. His Shifu was not going to be pleased.支吾道:“皇帝差我出来办事,立刻就须回报。我办完完了事,再去见师父罢。”徐天川道:“总舵主吩咐,他在北京不能多耽,请韦香主无论如何马上去见他老人家。” He decided to play for time: ‘Right now I’m on an errand for His Majesty. I have to report back to the Palace first. Then I’ll be able to go and see the Helmsman.’ ‘He says he can’t stay long in Peking, He says you must see him at once.’

韦小宝见无可推托,只得硬了头皮,跟着徐天川来到天地会聚会的下处,心想:“早知这样,这几天我赖在宫里不出来啦。师父总不能到宫里来揪我出去。” Trinket could see he had no Option but to go with Xu directly to the place where the Triads had gathered to welcome their ringleader. ‘If I’d known he was going to turn up like this, I’d have done better to stay put in the Palace, out of his reach . . . ‘ he thought to himself.还没进胡同,便见天地会弟兄们散在街边巷口,给总舵主把风。进屋之后,一道道门也都有人把守。They reached the alley, to find numbers of Triads posted at the entrance and along the streets’ sentries. There were more of them guarding each doorway as they entered the house.

来到后厅,只见陈近南居中而坐,正和李力世、关安基、樊纲、玄贞道人、祁彪清等人说话。The Helmsman was sitting in the rear hall, holding council with a group of senior Lodge members which included Brothers Li and Fan, Big Beaver, Father Obscurus, and Tertius.韦小宝抢上前去,拜伏在地,叫道:“师父,你老人家来啦,可想煞弟子了。”陈近南笑道:“好,好,好孩子,大家都很夸奖你呢。” Trinket hurried in and felt to his knees. ‘Shifu! I deserve to die at your hands!’ Chen Jinnan laughed. ‘You’re a good lad! Everyone has been singing your praises!’韦小宝站起身来,见师父脸色甚和,放下了一半心,说道:“师父身子安好?”陈近南微笑道:“我很好。你功夫练得怎样了?有什么不明白的地方没有?” Trinket stood up, saw the friendly expression on the Helms-man’s face, and breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Are you well, Shifu?’ Chen Jinnan smiled. ‘Very well, thank you. How’s your kungfu coming on? Is there anything you don’t understand?’

韦小宝早在寻思,师父考查武功时拿什么话来推搪,师父十分精明,可不容易骗过,只有随机应变,All the way there Trinket had been wondering how he was going to deal with this exact question. The Helmsman was too smart to fool around with. He would have to adopt a more subtle approach.说道:“不明白的地方多着呢。好容易盼到师父来了,正要请师父指点。”陈近南微笑道:“很好,这一次我要为你多耽几日,好好点拨你一下。” Well yes, there are lots of things I can’t quite figure out. Luckily you’re here now, Shifu, and I can ask you to explain them for me!’ ‘Excellent!’ exclaimed the Helmsman. I want to spend a bit more time with you during this stay of mine, and give you a few lessons.’

正说到这里,守门的一名弟兄匆匆进来,躬身道:“启禀总舵主:有人拜山,说是云南沐王府的沐剑声和柳大洪。” As he was saying this, a Triad Brother guarding the door came hurrying in to announce the arrival of Count Mu Jiansheng and Liu Dahong, the Shifu of the Mu Family陈近南大喜,站起身来,说道:“咱们快去迎接。” The Helmsman seemed very pleased. ‘Come,’ he said, rising to his feet, ‘we must go out to greet them.’韦小宝道:“弟子没换过装束,不便跟他们相见。”陈近南道:“是,你在后边等我罢。”天地会一行人出去迎客,韦小宝转到厅后,搬了张椅子坐着。’I can’t meet them in these clothes,’ said Trinket, who had never before encountered the Mu Family In his guise as Palace eunuch. The Helmsman told him to wait in the back room.

过不多时,便听到柳大洪爽朗的笑声,说道:“在下生平有个志愿,要见一见天下闻名的陈总舵主,今日得如所愿,当真喜欢得紧。”陈近南道:“承蒙柳老英雄抬爱,在下愧不敢当。” Trinket eavesdropped as the Triads received the Mu Family delegation, hearing the booing voice of old Liu Dahong expressing his great joy at finally meeting the famed Helmsman, and Chen Jinnan’s self-effacing reply.众人说着话,走进厅来,分宾主坐下。沐剑声道:“贵会韦香主不在这里吗?在下要亲口向他道谢。韦香主大恩大德,敝处上下,无不感激。” Liu went on to say how much he wished to thank Lodge Master Wei for the great favour he had done the Mu Family in asking his friend in the Palace to rescue their men.陈近南还不知原因,奇道:“韦小宝小小孩子,小公爷如此谦光,太抬举小孩子们了。”只听一人大声道:“在下师徒和这刘师侄的性命,都是韦香主救的。韦香主义薄云天,在下曾向贵会钱师傅说过,贵会如有驱策,姓吴的师徒随时奉命。”说话的正是“摇头狮子”吴立身。陈近南不明就里,问道:“钱兄弟,那是怎么一回事?”钱老本陪着吴立身等三人同去沐剑声的住处,当下便被留住了酒肉款待。然后沐剑声、柳大洪亲自率同众人,请钱老本带路,到天地会的下处来道谢,没料到总舵主驾到,这时听陈近南问起,便简略说了经过,说道韦香主有个好朋友在清宫做太监,受了韦香主之托,不顾危险,将失陷在宫里的吴立身等三人救了出来。The Helmsman apparently still knew nothing of all this. Next it was Shaker Wu’s turn to sing the praises of Warthead. Finally Butcher Qian, who had accompanied the Mu delegation, gave the Helmsman a brief account of the whole episode.

陈近南一听,便知什么韦香主的好朋友云云,就是韦小宝自己,心下甚喜,笑道:“小公爷、柳老爷子、吴大哥,三位可太客气了。敝会和沐王府同气连技,自己人有难,出手相援,那是理所当然,说得上什么感恩报德?那韦小宝是在下的小徒,年幼不懂事,只是于这‘义气’二字,倒还瞧得极重……”说到这里,心下沉吟:“小宝混在清宫之中,本来十分隐秘,只盼他能刺探到宫中重要机密,以利反清复明大业。既然做了这等大事出来,江湖上迟早都会知道,倘若再向沐王府隐瞒,便忍得不够朋友了。”吴立身道:“我们很想见一见韦香主,亲口向他道谢。” The Helmsman was greatly pleased to hear of these exploits, and decided that since the Triads and the Mu Family were allies in the struggle against the Tartars, he ought to put them fully in the picture.陈近南笑道:“大家是好朋友,这事虽然干系不小,却也不能相瞒。混在宫里当小太监的,就是我那小徒韦小宝自己。小宝,你出来见过众位前辈。” ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘I cannot bring myself to deceive you in this matter. The truth is that this Warthead, the Palace Eunuch who saved you, is in fact my own disciple, Lodge Master Trinket Wei!’ He called out: ‘You’d better come out and say hello to these gentlemen, Trinket!’

Trinket came out of his hiding-place at once. The astonishment among the members of the Mu Family can be imagined, as the Young Count and old Shifu Liu; on the one hand, and the released prisoners on the other, saw for themselves that Lodge Master Wei and Palace Eunuch Warthead were one and the same person.

韦小宝笑嘻嘻的向吴立身道:“吴老爷子,刚才在皇宫之中,晚辈跟你说的是假名字,你老可别见怪。”吴立身道:“身处险地,自当如此。我先前便曾跟敖彪说,这位小英雄办事干净利落,有担当、有气概,实是一位了不起的人物。鞑子宫中,怎会有如此人才?我们都感奇怪。原来是天地会的香主,那……嘿嘿,怪不得,怪不得!”说着翘起了大拇指,不住摇头,满脸赞叹钦佩之色。“Trinket apologized to the three ex-prisoners for having used a false identity, but Shaker Wu was most insistent that he had done the right thing. ”Dangerous measures for dangerous times! Acted like a true hero! Ha ha ha!’ He seemed to find the whole idea quite exhilarating, stuck his thumb up in the air, and started wagging his head interminably and making a series of exclamations of admiration.摇头狮子”吴立身是柳大洪的师弟,在江湖上也颇有名声。陈近南听他这等称赞自己徒弟,心中大喜,笑道:“吴兄可别太夸奖了,宠坏了小孩子。” Shaker Wu and Liu Dahong had studied with the same kungfu Master, and Shaker had quite a reputation on River and Lake. The Helmsman was needless to say delighted to hear his young disciple being so highly praised by a Martial Arts veteran. He was also pleased to see in this new development a hope for improved relations between their two factions of the Resistance. One of his principal reasons for hurrying to the Capital from Henan had been precisely to try to heal the rift between his Triad organization and the Mu forces in Yunnan.

Just as the Helmsman was contemplating the potential of a united front, old Liu made a remark which threw everything into disarray: ‘Helmsman,’ he said, intending to pay Chen the highest compliment he could think of, ‘when Prince Gui’s heir is proclaimed Emperor of a restored Ming dynasty, you will surely be the man chosen to be his Chief Minister!’

陈近南微微一笑道:“在下无德无能,怎敢居这高位?”祁彪清插口道:“柳老爷子,将来赶跑了鞑子,朱三太子登极为帝,中兴大明,这天下兵马大元帅的职位,大伙儿一定请你老人家来当的。”柳大洪圆睁双眼,道:“你……你说什么?什么朱三太子?”祁彪清道:“隆武天子殉国,留下的朱三太子,行宫眼下设在台湾。他日还我河山,朱三太子自然正位为君。” The Helmsman munibled a polite reply, but Tertius immediately leapt into the fray, insisting that in the event of a Restoration it was in fact the heir of Prince Tang, currently in Taiwan, who had the right to be proclaimed Emperor.柳大洪霍地站起,厉声道:“天地会这次救了我师弟和徒弟,我们很承你们的情。可是大明天子的正统,却半点也错忽不得。祁老弟,真命天子明明是朱五太子。永历天子乃是大明正统,天下皆知,你可不得胡说。” And so on and so forth, und! the two factions, so far from being united, were at each others’ throats again, arguing over the very issue that had led to the earlier fatal altercation between Pine and Xu Tianchuan.陈近南道:“柳老爷子请勿动怒,咱们眼前大事,乃是联络江湖豪杰,共反满清,至于将来到底是朱三太子还是朱五太子做皇帝,说来还早得很,不用先伤了自己人和气。大明帝系的正统谁属,自然是大事,可也不是咱们做臣子的一时三刻所能争得明白。来来来,摆上酒来,大伙儿先喝个痛快。只要大家齐心协力,将鞑子杀光了,什么事不能慢慢商量?”沐剑声摇头道:“陈总舵主这话可不对了!名不正则言不顺,言不顺则事不成。我们保朱五太子,决不是贪图什么荣华富贵。陈总舵主只要明白天命所归,向朱五太子尽忠,我们沐王府上下,尽归陈总舵主驱策,不敢有违。”陈近南微笑摇头,说道:“天无二日,民无二主。朱三太子好端端在台湾。台湾数十万军民,天地会十数万弟兄,早已向朱三太子效忠。”柳大洪双眼一瞪,大声道:“陈总舵主说什么数十万军民,十数万弟兄,难道想倚多为胜吗?可是天下千千万万百姓,都知道永历天子在缅甸殉国,是大明最后的一位皇帝。咱们不立永历天子的子孙,又怎对得起这位受尽了千辛万苦、终于死于非命的大明天子?”他本来声若洪钟,这一大声说话,更是震耳欲聋,但说到后来,心头酸楚,话声竟然嘶哑。The Helmsman tried to make the peace, knowing that the Manchus would be the only ones to benefit from this divisive squabbling, but old Liu was not to be stopped. He delivered a booming and impassioned plea on behalf of the descendants of Prince Gui, who had so tragically given his life after his wretched days of exile in Burma. The old man was in tears, and emotions were running high.

陈近南这次来到北京,原是得悉徐天川为了唐王、桂王正统谁属之事,与沐王府白氏兄弟起了争执,以致失手打死白寒松。他一心以反清复明大业为重,倘若鞑子尚未打跑,自己伙里先争斗个不亦乐乎,反清大事必定障碍重重。是以他得讯之后,星夜从河南赶到京城,只盼能以极度忍让,取得沐王府的原宥。到北京后一问,局面远比所预料的为佳,天地会在京人众由韦小宝率领,已和沐王府的首脑会过面,双方并未破脸,颇有转圜余地,待知韦小宝又救了吴立身等三人,则徐天川误杀白寒松之事定可揭过无疑。不料祁彪清和柳大洪提到唐桂之争,情势又渐趋剑拔弩张。眼见柳大洪说到永历帝殉国之事,老泪涔涔而下,不由得心中一酸,说道:“永历陛下殉国,天人共愤。古人言道:‘楚虽三户,亡秦必楚。’何况我汉人多过了鞑子百倍?鞑子势力虽大,我大汉子孙只须万众一心,何愁不能驱除胡虏,还我河山。沐小公爷、柳老爷子,咱们大仇未报,岂可自己先起争执?今日之计,咱们须当同心合力,杀了吴三桂那厮,为永历陛下报仇,为沐老公爷报仇。” Chen Jinnan tried one last argument to restore the peace: My friends, let us not allow ourselves to be divided like this before we have even achieved our shared goal! Let us first drive the Tartars from our land! And before we do that, let us first kill that traitor Satrap Wu, and avenge the deaths not only of Emperor Yong Li, but also of Duke Mu, who died with him!’

沐剑声、柳大洪、吴立身等一齐站起,齐声道:“对极,对极!” It was a clever move on his part. Not only had he referred to Prince Gui by his Imperial title, he had also alluded to the Young Count’s father, Duke Mu Tianbo, who had been put to death defending his Emperor’s final stand in Burma. And he had focused on the Satrap, a man loathed if anything more ferociously by the Mu Family than by the Triads, since it was the Satrap who had personally ordered the execution of the Gui Tretender and of his devoted Duke. The Young Count and his retainers responded by crying enthusiastically ‘Yes! Death to the Traitor!’.有的人泪流满面,有的人全身发抖,都是激动无比。Some wept openly, others shook with visible excitement at this prospect of revenge.陈近南道:“到底正统在隆武,还是在永历,此刻也不忙细辩。沐小公爷、柳老爷子,天下英雄,只要是谁杀了吴三桂,大家就都奉他号令!”沐剑声之父沐天波为吴三桂所杀,他日日夜夜所想,就是如何杀了吴三桂,听陈近南这么说,首先叫了出来:“正是,哪一个杀了吴三桂,天下英雄都奉他号令。”陈近南道:“沐小公爷,敝会就跟贵府立这么一个誓约,是贵府的英雄杀了吴三桂,天地会上下都奉沐王府的号令……”沐剑声接着道:“是天地会的英雄杀了吴三桂,云南沐家自沐剑声以次,个个都奉天地会陈总舵主号令!” ‘We can debate the rights and wrongs of the succession at a later date,’ added the Helmsman. For the present, let us agree on one thing: whoever kills the Satrap will command our colleguances!’两人伸出手来,拍的一声,击了一掌。
‘Agreed!’ cried the Young Count. He and the Helmsman exchanged a solemn oath to this effect.


























又饮了几巡酒,沐剑声等起身告辞。The Mu Family delegation drank a few cups of wine and took its leave.韦小宝道:“小公爷,你们最好搬一搬家,早晚鞑子便会派兵来跟你们捣乱。虽然你们不怕,但鞑子兵越来越多,一时之间,恐怕也杀不了这许多。”柳大洪哈哈大笑,说道:“小兄弟说得好,多谢你关照,我们马上搬家便是。”沐剑声道:“陈总舵主,韦香主,众位朋友,青山不改,绿水长流,后会有期。” As they went, Trinket gave them some parting words of advice: ‘Count Mu, I think it would be wise if you were to move from Bean Sprout Lane. The Tartars may track you down . . .’ The advice was gratefully received.

When they had gone, the Helmsman took Trinket aside into a private room, and asked him how his kungfu had been progressing.






韦小宝道:“是啊,沐小公爷有什么本事,只不过仗着有个好爸爸,如果我投胎在他娘肚皮里,一样的是个沐小公爷。像师父这样大英雄大豪杰,倘若不得不听命于他,可把我气也气死了。” Trinket tried to avoid answering, instead reminding his Shifu that he was expected back in the Palace at any moment, and adding a few carefully chosen words of flattery.陈近南一生之中,不知听过了多少恭维谄谀的言语,但这几句话出于一个十几岁的孩子之口,觉得甚是真诚可喜,不由得微微一笑。The Helmsman was used to the blunt ways of River and Lake, and tended to believe that people meant what they said. He was genuinely touched by his young friend’s words.他可不知韦小宝本性原已十分机伶,而妓院与皇宫两处,更是天下最虚伪、最奸诈的所在,韦小宝浸身于这两地之中,其机巧狡狯早已远胜于寻常大人。陈近南在天地会中,日常相处的均是肝胆相照的豪杰汉子,哪想得到这个小弟子言不由衷,十句话中恐怕有五六句就靠不住。他拍拍韦小宝肩头,微笑道:“小孩子懂得什么?你怎知沐家小公爷没什么本事?” He had little understanding of Trinket’s riature, which had always been crafty, moulded by years spent first in a whore-house, then in the Palace—both places where deceit and duplicity flourished.

韦小宝道:“他派人去皇宫行刺,徒然送了许多手下人的性命,对吴三桂却丝毫无损,那便是没本事,可说是大大的笨蛋。”陈近南道:“你怎知对吴三桂丝毫无损?”韦小宝道:“这沐家小公爷用的计策是极笨的。他叫进宫行刺之人,所穿内衣上缝了‘平西王府’的字,所用兵刃上又刻了‘平西王府’或‘大明山海关总兵府’的字。鞑子又不是笨蛋,自然会想到,如果真是吴三桂的手下,为什么会用刻上了字的兵器?”陈近南点头道:“这话倒也不错。”韦小宝又道:“吴三桂的儿子吴应熊正在北京,带了大批珠宝财物向皇帝进贡。吴三桂真要行刺皇帝,不会在这时候。再说,他行刺皇帝干什么?只不过是想起兵造反,自己做皇帝。他一起兵,鞑子立刻抓住他儿子杀了,他为什么好端端的派儿子来北京送死?” Trinket went on to criticize the Young Count’s tactics—the much too obvious attempt to lay the blame on the Satrap, the use of marked weapons and clothes, the way their kungfu moves were so easily recognized, and so on.陈近南又点头道:“不错。”其实韦小宝虽然机警,毕竟年纪尚幼,于军国大事、人情世故所知极为有限,这几条理由,他是半条也想不出的,恰好康熙曾经跟他说过,便在师父面前装作是自己见到的事理。So impressed was the Helmsman by his young disciple’s precocious mastery of strategy (when in fact all Trinket was doing was repeating word for word what the Emperor had said to him a day or two earlier), that he began to think it might no longer be so important for him to be profident at kungfu—which was exactly what Trinket had hoped to achieve. After all, there were enough good fighters among the Triads already.

陈近南一听之下,觉得这徒儿见事明白,天地会中武功好手不少,头脑如此清楚之人却没几个。当初他让这孩子任青木堂香主,只为了免得青木堂中两派纷争,先应了众人誓言,慢慢再选立贤能,韦小宝既是自己弟子,届时命他退位让贤便是。In fact, the Helmsman was altogether so impressed by Trinket’s courage and intelligence, that he even began to reconsider his original plan, which had been to replace him as soon as possible as Master of the Green Wood Lodge. He had only nominated the boy in the first place as a ploy to avoid further dissension between rival factions within the Lodge.这时听了他这番话,暗想:“这孩子有胆有识,此刻已颇为了不起,再磨练得几年,便当真做青木堂香主,也未必便输了给其余九位香主。” Now Chen was beginning to think that the boy was turning out to be surprisingly promising. A few more years, and he might be more than a match for the other Lodge Masters.问道:“鞑子已知道了没有?”韦小宝道:“此刻还不大明白,不过皇帝好像已起疑心。他今早召集了侍卫,叫他们演习刺客所使的武功家数。有个侍卫演了这几招,大家在纷纷议论。弟子在旁瞧着,记得了两招。”当下将“高山流水”、“横扫千军”这两招使了出来。陈近南叹道:“沐王府果然没有人才。这明明是沐家拳,清宫侍卫中好手不少,哪有认不出来的?”韦小宝道:“弟子曾见风际中风大哥与玄贞道长演过,料想鞑子侍卫们会认得出。只怕鞑子要搜查拿人。因此刚才劝沐家小公爷早些出城躲避。”陈近南道:“很是,很是!你现下便回宫去打听,明日再来,我再传你武功。”韦小宝听得师父暂不查考自己武功,心中大喜,急忙行礼告辞,’Off you go then!’ he said. ‘You’d better report back to the Palace. Come and see me again tomorrow, and I’ll teach you some kungfu.’ Trinket beat a hasty retreat.心想:“今晚临急抱佛脚,请小郡主将师父那本武功秘诀上的话读来听听,好歹记得一些,明儿师父问起,多少有点儿东西交代。师父只能怪我练得不对,可不能怪我贪懒不用功。谁要他没时间教我呢?他要怪,只能怪自己。”(pass)

The Qreat Sage Onion

韦小宝回到宫里上书房,康熙正在批阅奏章,一见到他,便放下了笔,问道:“探到了什么消息没有?” He found Kang Xi in the Upper Library reading state documents. ‘Well,’ said the Emperor, when he saw Trinket come into the room, ‘did you find anything out?’韦小宝道:“皇上料事如神,半点儿不错,造反的主儿,果然是云南沐家的。” ‘Your Majesty,’ replied Trinket, ‘your suspicions were correct. The people behind the plot were the Mu Family from Yunnan.’康熙喜道:“当真如此?那好极了。瞧多隆的脸色,他现下还不肯信呢?你探到了什么?”韦小宝道:“这三名被擒的刺客,本来一口咬定是吴三桂的部属,多总管将他们打得死去活来,他们说什么也不肯改口。”康熙道:“多隆武功不错,却是个莽夫。”韦小宝道:“奴才奉了皇上圣旨,用蒙汗药将看守的侍卫迷倒,刚好皇太后派了四名太监来,说要立时动手将刺客处死。奴才大胆,就依照皇上安排下的计策,当着刺客之面,将四名太监杀了,将刺客领出宫去。这三个反贼果然半点也没起疑。” Trinket’s Version of events was that he had drugged the guards, and then, when the Empress Dowager had sent four eunuchs to ‘kill the prisoners’, he had taken it upon himself to kill the eunuchs in front of the prisoners’ own eyes (in accordance with Kang Xi’s earlier plan). Then he had escaped with the prisoners.康熙微笑道:“刚才多隆来报,说道太后手下的一名太监头儿放走了刺客,我正奇怪,原来是你做的手脚。” ‘I wondered what was going on!’ exclaimed Kang Xi with a laugh. ‘Just now Colonel Dolong reported that it was one of Her Majesty’s eunuchs who had let them out. But it was you all along!’韦小宝道:“皇上可不能跟太后说,否则奴才小命不保。太后已骂过我一顿,说奴才只对皇上尽忠,不对太后尽忠。’You mustn’t tell Her Majesty that I killed those eunuchs of hers,’ said Trinket. ‘Or my life will be in danger. She already holds it against me that I respect you more than her—which doesn’t make sense to me!其实太后和皇上又分什么了?再说,天无二日,民无二主,终究只有皇上的圣旨才算得数。太后没问过皇上,就下旨将刺客杀了,于道理也不大合。” Anyway, what right does she have to send her eunuchs in there without your permission?’

康熙不去理他的挑拨离间,说道:“我自不会跟太后说。那三名刺客后来怎样?” Kang Xi reassured him that he would not mention it to the Empress Dowager.韦小宝道:“我领他们出得宫去,他们三人自行告诉了我真姓名。原来那老的叫作‘摇头狮子’吴立身,两名小的,一个叫敖彪,一个叫刘一舟。他们向我千恩万谢,终于给奴才骗倒,带我去见他们主人。果然不出皇上所料,暗中主持的是个年轻人,这些反贼叫他作小公爷,真姓名叫做沐剑声,是沐天波的儿子。他手下有个武功极高的老头儿,叫什么‘铁背苍龙’柳大洪,还有‘圣手居士’苏冈哪,白氏双侠中的白二侠白寒枫等等一干人。分别住在杨柳胡同和西坑子胡同两处。” Trinket told him the names of the three prisoners, and of the Young Count and his retainers, and their address in Bean Sprout Lane.康熙道:“你都见到了?”韦小宝道:“都见到了。他们说,天下老百姓都道,皇上年纪虽然不大,却是圣明无比,是几千年来少有的好皇帝,他们便有天大的胆子,也不敢加害皇上。前晚所以进宫来胡闹,完全是想陷害吴三桂,以报复他害死沐天波的大仇。” He went on to explain that they had planned all along to cause trouble for Satrap Wu, and thereby avenge the deaths of Prince Gui and Duke Mu. They had never intended to hurt Kang Xi, whom his Chinese subjects considered an exceptionally wise young ruler.

这几句马屁拍得不免过了分,康熙亲政未久,天下百姓不会便已歌功颂德,但“千穿万穿,马屁不穿”,康熙听说百姓颂扬自己是几千年来少有的好皇帝,不由得大悦,微笑道:“我也没行过什么惠民的仁政,‘圣明无比’云云,是你杜撰出来的罢?” ‘Come come!’ said Kang Xi, secretly pleased by Trinket’s flattery. ‘You’re making that all up.’韦小宝道:“不,不!是他们亲口说的。大家都说鳌拜这大奸臣残害良民,老百姓们恨他恨到了骨头里。皇上一上来就把他杀了,那是大大的好事。他们恭维你是什么鸟生,又是什么鱼汤。奴才也不大懂,想来总是好话,听着可开心得紧。” ‘No, honestly, that’s what they said. The people hated Oboi. They thought he was a heartless monster, and they praise Your Majesty for having put him to death! They all say you’re as great and wise as the Great Sage Onion . . . I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s supposed to be a compliment!’康熙一怔,随即明白,哈哈大笑,道:“原来是尧舜禹汤,他妈的,什么鸟生鱼汤!”他想尧舜禹汤的恭维,韦小宝决计不会捏造出,自不会假。哪知道说书先生说《英烈传》之时,曾说群臣不断颂扬朱元璋是尧舜禹汤,韦小宝听得熟了,虽不明其意,却知“鸟生鱼汤”乃是专拍皇帝马屁的好话,朱元璋每次听了,都是“龙颜大悦”。韦小宝这时将这句话用在小皇帝身上,果然见康熙也是“龙颜大悦”,笑得极是欢畅,知道这马屁拍对了,问道:“皇上,‘鸟生鱼汤’到底是什么东西?”康熙笑道:“还在鸟生鱼汤?你这家伙可真没半点学问。尧舜禹汤是古代的四位有道明君,大圣大智,有仁德于天下的好皇帝。” Kang Xi burst out laughing. “Tamardy, Laurel! You really do manage to get things tied round your neck! The Great Sages Yao and Sun! They were two of the Great Emperors of Ancient Time, famous for their virtue and wisdom!’韦小宝道:“怪不得,怪不得!这些反贼倒也不是全然不明白事理。”康熙道:“虽是如此,也不能让他们就此逃走,快传多隆来。” Whoever they were, Trinket was pleased to have brought a complacent smile to the young Emperor’s face. ‘But all the same, we can’t let those Mu folk get away with it,’ said Kang Xi. ‘Send for Dolong.’

韦小宝应了,出去将御前侍卫总管多隆传进上书房来。康熙吩咐多隆:“反贼果然是云南沐家的人,你带领侍卫,立刻便去擒拿。小桂子,反贼一伙有些什么脚色,你跟多总管说说。”韦小宝当下将沐剑声、柳大洪等人的姓名说了。多隆吃了一惊,说道:“原来是‘铁背苍龙’在暗中主持,这批贼子来头可是不小。那‘摇头狮子’吴立身,奴才也听过他的名字,没想到在宫里关了他一日一夜,却查不到他的底细。奴才倘若聪明一点儿,见到他老是摇头,早该就想到了。如不是圣上明断,我们侍卫房里的人,都认定是吴三桂派的人。” Trinket went off to fetch him, and Kang Xi gave Dolong Orders to go out and arrest the members of the Mu Family. Trinket was then told to brief him, and Dolong was shocked to learn the true identity of the three men he had been holding prisoner.康熙微微一笑,说道:“就怕他们这时早已走了,这一次未必拿得到。”顿了一顿,又道:“既然知道了正主儿,就算这次拿不到,也没什么大碍。就怕咱们蒙在鼓里,上了人家的当还不知道。”多隆道:“是,是。奴才们胡涂,幸好主子英明,否则可不得了。” (pass)磕头告退,立刻点人去拿。He set off to do his duty.康熙道:“小桂子,我去慈宁宫请安,你跟我来。”韦小宝应道:“是!”想到要见太后,不由得胆战心惊。康熙道:“你愁眉苦脸干什么?我带你去见太后,正为的是要保住你头上这颗脑袋。”韦小宝应道:“是,是!” ‘Laurel,’ said Kang Xi, ‘I want you to come with me now to visit Her Majesty.’ Trinket looked very nervous at the thought of seeing the Empress Dowager. ‘Don’t be scared!’ said Kang Xi. To be there to protect you.’ ‘Yes, Majesty!’

An Unexpected Change of Employment

到了慈宁宫,康熙向太后请了安,They reached the Hall of Maternal Tranquillity, and Kang Xi went in to pay his respects to the Empress Dowager.禀明刺客来历,说道是自己派小桂子故意放走刺客,终于查明了真相。He reported the true identity of the intruders, and that he had expressly ordered Laurel to let them go, with a view to acquiring this information.太后微微一笑,说道:“小桂子,你可能干得很哪!”韦小宝跪下又再磕头,道:“那是皇上料事如神,一切早都算定了,奴才不过奉皇上差遣办事而已。奴才所干的事,从头至尾全是皇上吩咐的,奴才自己可没拿半点主意。” The Empress Dowager smiled. ‘Laurel, you’re a very capable little fellow!’ Trinket feil to his knees and kowtowed several times. ‘It was all His Majesty’s ideal All I did was follow his orders.’太后向他望了一眼,哼了一声,说道:“你顽皮胡闹,可不是皇上吩咐办的罢!小孩子家出得宫去,一定到处去玩耍了,可到天桥看把戏没有?买了冰糖葫芦吃没有?” The Empress Dowager studied him for a moment, then gave a little humph. ‘I dare say you’ve been gadding about all over Peking … I wonder, have you been to the Bridge of Heaven by any chance, to see the acrobats? Did you buy any toffee-apples?’

韦小宝想到在天桥见到官差捉拿卖冰糖葫芦的小贩,料来定是太后所遣,她怕那人将消息传去五台山告知瑞栋,便不分青红皂白,将天桥一带所有卖冰糖葫芦的小贩都抓了,自然不分青红皂白,尽数砍了,Trinket knew that she’d had every toffee-apple-seller within a mile of the Bridge of Heaven rounded up, and all their heads chopped off, just to be sure that none of them went to the Wutai Mountains and passed a message on to Colonel Rui.念及她手段的毒辣,忍不住打了个寒噤,说道:“是,是!”太后微笑道:“我问你哪,你买了冰糖葫芦来吃没有?” The thought of how ruthless she was made him shudder with fear. ‘I said, did you buy any toffee-apples?’ she repeated with a sinister smile.

韦小宝道:“回太后的话:奴才在街上听人说道,这几日天桥不大平静,九门提督府派人将贩卖冰糖葫芦的小贩都捉了去,’Well, as a matter of fact, Your Majesty, there’s been a bit of trouble down at the Bridge of Heaven these last few days, and all the toffee-apple-sellers seem to have been rounded up.说道里面有不少歹人。因此本来卖冰糖葫芦的,现下都改了行,有的卖凉糕儿,有的卖花生,还有改行卖酸枣、卖甜饼的,There must have been some criminals among them, I suppose. Quite a few of the old sellers have changed to selling peanuts, or cakes, or something else.这些人奴才见得多了,有些脸孔很熟,他们都说不卖冰糖葫芦啦。还有一个真是好笑,说要到什么五台山、六台山去,贩些和尚们吃的素馒头来卖。” I recognized some of them. Then there was this one queer-looking fellow who said he was off to some mountain or other to seil vegetarian buns to the monks太后竖眉大怒,自然明白韦小宝这番话的用意,那是说这个传讯之人没给抓着,以后也别想抓他得到,随即微微冷笑,说道:“很好,你很好,很能干。皇帝,我想要他在我身边办事,你瞧怎么样?” The Empress Dowager got Trinket’s point, and snarled back at him: ‘You are a clever little fellow!’ She turned to Kang Xi. Tve been thinking. I’d like to keep this clever little eunuch here with me . . . What do you say to it?’

康熙这些日来差遣韦小宝办事,甚是得力,倚同左右手一般,这次亲来慈宁宫,便是要向太后解释,韦小宝杀了太后所遣的四名太监,是奉自己之命,请太后不要怪责于他,突然听得太后要人,不由得一怔。This request took Kang Xi completely by surprise. The last thing he wanted to do at this moment was to part with Laurel.他事母甚孝,太后虽不是他亲生母亲,但他自幼由太后抚养长大,实和亲母无异,自是不敢违拗,But, although the Empress Dowager was not his natural mother, he had grown up under her care and regarded her with great filial respect. He did not dare go against her wishes.微笑道:“小桂子,太后抬举你,还不赶快谢恩?” ‘Laurel, didn’t you hear?’ he said. ‘Her Majesty wants to do you a favour. Aren’t you going to thank her?’韦小宝听得太后向皇帝要人,已然吓得魂飞天外,一时心下胡涂,只想拔脚飞奔,就此逃出皇宫,再也不回来了,听得康熙这么说,忙应道:“是,是!”连连磕头,说道:“多谢太后恩典,皇上恩典。” ‘Yes Majesty, of course Majesty!’ cried Trinket, who had almost died when he heard what the Empress Dowager was proposing. His one and only thought, now more than before, was of escape. And of never returning to the Palace ever again in his entire life. He fell to his knees yet again, and began kowtowing. ‘Your Majesties, I thank you both for your great kindness!’

太后冷笑道:“怎么啦?你只愿服侍皇上,不愿服侍我,是不是?” ‘Don’t you want to serve me?’ asked the Empress Dowager, with a chilling laugh. ‘Do you only ever want to serve the Emperor?’韦小宝道:“服侍太后和皇上都是一样,奴才一样的忠心耿耿,尽力办事。”太后道:“那就好了。御膳房的差使,你也不用当了,专门在慈宁宫便是。” ‘I am devoted to both Your Majesties!’ That’s fine then. From now on, you don’t need to bother with the Imperial Catering Department. You’re just to stay here with me.’韦小宝道:“是,多谢太后恩典。”康熙见太后要了韦小宝,怏怏不乐,说了几句闲话,便辞了出来。韦小宝跟着出去。’Yes, Your Majesty. Much obliged, Your Majesty.’ Kang Xi himself was thoroughly unhappy about this arrangement. He made a few perfunctory remarks, and took his leave. Trinket followed him out.太后道:“小桂子,你留着,让旁人跟皇上回去。我有件事交给你办。” ‘Laurel, come back!’ cried the Empress Dowager. The others can perfectly well look after the Emperor. I need you for something here.’韦小宝道:“是!”眼怔怔瞧着康熙的背影出了慈宁宫,心想:“你这一去,我可就糟了,不知以后还见不见得着你。”忍不住便想大哭。’Yes Majesty!’ Trinket watched Kang Xi disappear out of sight, thinking to himself: ‘Now that you’re gone, I’m done for! I’ll probably never see you again!’ He felt himself about to burst into tears.

Sister Swallow

太后慢慢喝茶,目不转睛的打量韦小宝,只看得他心中发毛,过了良久,问道:“那到五台山去贩卖素馒头的,什么时候再回北京?” The Empress Dowager sipped her tea, and studied Trinket. She could teil he was terrified. ‘So,’ she said at last, ‘when is that man coming back from Wutai—the vegetarian-bun-seller?’韦小宝道:“奴才不知道。”太后道:“你什么时候再去会他?” ‘I don’t know, Your Majesty.’ ‘When are you planning to see him again?’韦小宝随口胡诌:“奴才跟他约好,一个月后相会,不过不是在天桥了。”太后道:“在什么地方?”韦小宝道:“他说到那时候,他自会设法通知奴才。” ‘I arranged to see him in a month’s time,’ Trinket improvised. ‘But not at the Bridge of Heaven.’ ‘Where?’ ‘He said he’d find a way of letting me know nearer the time.’

太后点了点头,道:“那你就在慈宁宫里,等他的讯息好了。”双掌轻轻一拍,内室走了一名宫女出来。The Empress Dowager nodded her head. Then you’d better stay here with me until you hear from him.’ She clapped her hands together softly, and one of her maids-in-waiting appeared from an inner chamber.这宫女已有三十五六岁年纪,体态极肥,脚步却甚轻盈,脸如满月,眼小嘴大,This maid-in-waiting was an exceedingly plump woman of thirty-five or so, but quite sprightly on her feet. She had a big round face like a full moon, small eyes and a large mouth.笑嘻嘻的向太后弯腰请安。太后道:“这个小太监名叫小桂子,又大胆又胡闹,我倒很喜欢他。” She giggled as she came in, and curtseyed to her mistress. The Empress Dowager introduced Trinket to her. This is the eunuch Laurel. He is a cheeky little fellow, and very mischievous, but I’ve taken a liking to him.’那宫女微笑道:“是,这个小兄弟果然挺灵巧的。小兄弟,我名叫柳燕,你叫我姊姊好啦。” ‘Yes, Ma’am! He seems very smart. Hey, little boy, my name’s Liu, Swallow Liu. But you can just call nie Big Sis Swallow.’

韦小宝心道:“他妈的,你是肥猪!”笑道:“是,柳燕姊姊,你这名字叫得真好,身材好似杨柳,走路轻快,就像一只小燕儿。” ‘Fat Tamardy Sow more like!’ Trinket thought to himself. ‘Yes, Sis Swallow!’ he said. That’s a good name for you, you’re like a pretty little bird on the wing!’在太后跟前,旁的宫女太监哪敢说半句这等轻佻言语,但韦小宝明知无幸,这种话说了是这样,不说也是这样,那么不说也是白饶。None of the Empress Dowager’s servants had ever spoken like that before. But what did Trinket care? He had a premonition that he was done for anyway.柳燕嘻嘻一笑,说道:“小兄弟,你这张嘴可也真甜。” Swallow gave a little giggle. ‘What a cute way of talking he has!’

太后道:“他嘴儿甜,脚下也快。柳燕,你说有什么法子,叫他不会东奔西跑,在宫里乱走乱闯?” ‘And an even cuter way of running wild!’ snapped the Empress Dowager. ‘What do you think, Swallow, how are we going to keep him under control?’柳燕道:“太后把他交给奴才,让我好好看管着就是。”太后摇头道:“这小猴儿滑溜得紧,你看他不住的。我派瑞栋去传他,他却花言巧语,将瑞栋这胆小鬼吓跑了。’Give him to me, Your Majesty. I’ll think of a way.’ ‘No.’ The Empress shook her head. ‘He’s much too slippery a customer for you. I sent Colonel Rui after him, but he managed to scare the Colonel off.我又派了四名太监去传他,他串通侍卫,将这四人杀了。I sent four of my eunuchs, and he had them all killed by the guards, every one of them.我再派四人去,不知他做了什么手脚,竟将董金魁他们四人又都害死了。” I sent another four, and he killed them too, goodness only knows how!’柳燕啧啧连声,笑道:“啊哟,小兄弟,你这可也太顽皮啦,那不是难对付得紧吗?太后,看来只有将他一双腿儿砍了,让他乖乖的躺着,那不是安静太平得多吗?” Swallow clicked her tongue. ‘My oh my! He really is a naughty boy! Your Majesty, I think we’d better chop his legs off. . . Then he won’t be able to get up to so much mischief!’太后叹了口气,道:“我看也只有这法儿了。”The Empress sighed. ‘I think you may be right.’

韦小宝纵身而起,往门外便奔。他左脚刚跨出门口,蓦觉头皮一紧,辫子已给人拉住,跟着脑袋向后一仰,Trinket bolted for the door. His left foot had no sooner reached the threshold, when he felt a tug on his pigtail, and his head was jerked upwards.身不由主的便一个筋斗,倒翻了过去,心口一痛,一只脚已踏在胸膛之上。He somersaulted backwards, then landed on the ground. A foot planted itself heavily on his chest. . .只见那只脚肥肥大大,穿着一只红色绣金花的缎鞋,自是给柳燕踏住了。a fat foot, in a red satin shoe embroidered with gold thread. Sister Swallow was Standing over him.韦小宝情急之下,冲口骂道:“臭婆娘,快松开你的臭脚!” ‘Take your smelly foot off me, you dirty old slut!’ cried Trinket in the heat of the moment.柳燕脚上微一使劲,韦小宝胸口十几根肋骨格格乱响,连气也喘不过来。只听柳燕笑道:“小兄弟,你一双脚倒香得很,我挺想砍下来闻闻。” By way of reply, Sister Swallow pressed her foot down even harder, and Trinket felt his ribs go crunch and the breath go out of him. I’ve taken rather a fancy to the smell of your feet, little boy!’ laughed the Fat Sow. ‘I think I’ll chop them off and have a good sniff!’

韦小宝心想太后恨自己入骨,大可将自己一双脚砍了,再派人抬着,去见替瑞栋传讯之人,还可暗中派遣高手,跟着那人上五台山去,将瑞栋杀了。Trinket knew that the Old Whore hated him enough to give the order for this dreadful thing to happen! Then she would have him carried, foot-less, to his rendezvous and secretly send an assassin with him to Wutai to bump off Colonel Rui.但世上早已没有瑞栋这一号人,西洋镜终究要拆穿,眼前大事,是要保住这一双腿,此刻恐吓已然无用,只有出之于利诱,便冷冷的道:“太后,你砍了我的腿不打紧,就算砍了我脑袋,小桂子也不过矮了一截,没有什么,可惜那《四十二章经》,嘿嘿,嘿嘿……”He must not panic. He had to think very fast. ‘Your Majesty,’ he said with a sly smile, ‘you’re welcome to chop off any bits of me you like, I’m sure a few Laurel-amputations wouldn’t matter much to anyone. But there is just one little thing: the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections. . . Hee-hee!’ He gave a series of strange little squeaks.太后一听到《四十二章经》五字,立时站起,问道:“你说什么?” As he had anticipated, the Empress Dowager reacted smartly to the mention of the Sutra, and rose to her feet. ‘What are you trying to say?’

韦小宝道:“我说那几部《四十二章经》,未免有点儿可惜。”太后向柳燕道:“放他起来。” ‘Just that it would be such a pity to lose those copies of the Sutra . . .’ The Empress turned to Sister Swallow. ‘Get off him!’ she commanded.柳燕左足一提,离开韦小宝的胸膛,脚板抄入他身底,在他背心一挑,将他身子挑得弹将起来,左手伸出,已抓住他后领,提在半空,再往地下重重一顿。The fat maid-in-waiting removed her left foot from Trinket’s chest, inserted it under his back, and flicked him over. Then she gripped him by the nape of the neck with her left hand, lifted him up into the air, and dropped him with a great thud to the ground.韦小宝给她放倒提起,毫无抗拒之能,便如婴儿一般,本已到了口边的一句“臭婆娘”,吓得又吞入了肚里。Trinket was like a helpless child in her hands. He was now even too scared to utter the words ‘filthy slut’ that kept forming them-selves on his lips.太后问道:“《四十二章经》的话,你是听谁说的?”韦小宝道:“反正我两条腿就要给你砍了,我什么也不说,大伙儿一拍两散,我没腿没脑袋,你也没《四十二章经》。” ‘Who have you heard talking about the Sutra?’ asked the Empress Dowager. ‘Why should I tell you anything,’ replied Trinket, ‘when you’re about to chop off my feet?’

柳燕道:“我劝你还是乖乖的回答太后的好。”韦小宝道:“回答了是死,不回答也是死,为什么要回答?最多上些刑罚,我才不怕呢。” ‘If you’re a smart boy you’ll answer Her Majesty nicely!’ said the fat maid. ‘Why should I, when I’m going to die anyway? Torture me. I’m not scared.’柳燕拿起他左手,笑道:“小兄弟,你的手指又尖又长,长得挺好看啊。”韦小宝道:“最多你把我的手指都斩断了,又有什么希罕……”The Fat Sow took hold of his left hand and gave a sinister laugh. ‘Little boy, you’ve got such pretty, long fingers ‘Go ahead, cut them off! What do I care!’一句话未毕,手指上剧痛连心,“啊”的一声大叫了出来,却原来柳燕两根手指拿住他左手食指重重一挟,险些将他指骨也捏碎了。This was followed by an ear-piercing scream of pain as the Sow took hold of his Index finger, and squeezed it so viciously that she almost snapped the bone.这肥女人笑脸迎人,和蔼可亲,下手却如此狠辣,而指上的力道更十分惊人,一挟之下,有如铁钳。All the while she was inflicting this excruciating pain, tightening her vice-like grip on Trinket’s finger, she had a big beaming smile on her face.

韦小宝这一下苦头可吃得大了,眼泪长流,叫道:“太后,你快快将我杀了,那几部《四十二章经》,那叫做老猫闻咸鱼,嗅鲞啊嗅鲞(休想)!” Trinket was weeping with pain. ‘Your Majesty,’ he gasped, ‘kill me and get it over with! Forget about the Sutra!’太后道:“你将《四十二章经》的事老实说出来,我就饶你性命。”韦小宝道:“我不用你饶命,经书的事,我也决计不说。” ‘You tell me what you know about the Sutra,’ replied the Empress Dowager, ‘and I will spare you!’ ‘I won’t! I don’t care if you kill me!’太后眉头微蹙,对这倔强小孩,一时倒感无法可施,隔了半晌,缓缓道:“柳燕,如他不说,你便将他的两只眼珠挖了出来。” The Empress Dowager frowned. This little brat was a real thorn in her side. ‘Swallow,’ she said slowly, after a long pause, ‘if he won’t talk, gouge out both of his eyes.’柳燕笑道:“很好,我先挖他一只眼珠。’Certainly, Your Majesty,’ said Swallow with another of her beaming smiles. ‘I’ll do this one first.小兄弟,你的眼珠子生得可真灵,又黑又圆,骨碌碌的转动,挖了出来,可不大漂亮啊。” Oh my poor little boy, what a pretty, clever little eyeball, so bright and shiny, like a little ball, so lovely the way it moves round! I’m afraid when I’ve taken it out, it won’t be such a pretty sight any more!’

说着右手大拇指放上他右眼皮,微微使劲。韦小宝只觉得眼珠奇痛,只好屈服,叫道:“投降,投降!你别挖我眼珠子,我说就是了。” She put her thumb against his right eyelid, and started softly pressing. Trinket felt a shooting pain in his eye, and changed his tune. ‘I surrender! Don’t hurt my eyes! I’ll talk!’柳燕放开了手,微笑道:“那才是乖孩子,你好好的说,太后疼你。” The Sow took away her thumb and gave another of her hideous smiles. There’s a good boy! You talk nicely to Her Majesty now. She loves you.’韦小宝伸手揉了揉眼珠,将那只痛眼眨了几眨,闭起另一只眼睛,侧过了头向柳燕瞧了一会,摇头道:“不对,不对!” Trinket rubbed his right eye, blinked it a few times, then closed his other eye and squinted with the right one at the Sow, shaking his head and muttering: ‘No, she doesn’t!’柳燕道:“什么不对?别装模作样了,太后问你的话,快老实回答。”韦小宝道:“我这只眼珠子给你掀坏了,瞧出来的东西变了样,我见到你是人的身子,脖子上却生了个大肥猪的脑袋。” ‘Of course she does! Stop playing games, and talk to her nicely.’ ‘Look what you’ve gone and done! You’ve ruined my eye!’ moaned Trinket. ‘Everything looks different. Your body looks almost human, but on top you’ve got a head like a big fat pig!’

柳燕也不生气,笑嘻嘻的道:“那倒挺好玩,我把你左边那颗眼珠子也掀坏了罢。”韦小宝退后一步,道:“免了罢,谢谢你啦。” The Sow reacted to this by giggling. ‘What fun! I’d better do the same to the other eye . . .’ Trinket shrank away from her. I’d rather you didn’t! Thanks all the same!’闭起左眼向太后瞧去,摇了摇头。He closed his right eye, squinted at the Empress Dowager with his left, and shook his head.太后大怒,心想:“这小鬼用独眼去瞧柳燕,说见到她脖子安着个猪脑袋,现下又这般瞧我,他口中不说,心里不知在如何骂我,定是说见到我脖子上安着个什么畜生脑袋。”冷冷的道:“柳燕,你把他这颗眼珠子挖了出来,免得他东瞧西瞧。” She scowled at him angrily, wondering to herseif what gargoyle the little brat was going to compare her with. ‘Go on, Swallow, poke that other eye out, before he Starts seeing something else!’

韦小宝忙道:“没了眼珠,怎么去拿《四十二章经》给你?”太后问道:“你有《四十二章经》?哪里来的?” ‘But if I can’t see, how am I to fetch the Sutra for you?’ ‘Have you got one?’ cried the Empress Dowager eagerly. ‘Where did you get it from?’韦小宝道:“瑞栋交给我的,他叫我好好收着,放在一个最隐秘的所在。他说:‘小桂子兄弟啊,皇宫里面,想害你的人很多,倘若将来你有什么三长二短,短了两只眼珠子或两条腿子,这部经书就从此让它不见天日好啦。害你的人,眼珠子虽然不瞎,看不到这部宝贝经书,也跟瞎了眼珠子的人没什么分别,这叫做自作自受。’太后,那部经书,是红绸子封皮,镶白边儿的,也不知道是不是。” ‘Colonel Rui gave it to me. He told me to keep it in a very safe place. Whatever happened to me, I was never to let anyone see it. It was bound in red silk with a white border.’

太后不信瑞栋说过这种话,但她差遣瑞栋去处死宗人府的镶红旗旗主和察博,取了他府中所藏的《四十二章经》,却确是事实。The Empress Dowager was not sure whether to believe Trinket. It was true that she had sent Colonel Rui to kill Hochabo, the Head Bannerman of the Bordered Red Banner, and to steal his copy of the Sutra.当日瑞栋回报之时,她正急于要杀韦小宝灭口,来不及询问经书,此刻听他这么说,心下又怒又喜;On his return, she had been in so much of a hurry to send him off again to murder Trinket that she had forgot-ten to ask him for the Sutra. If what Trinket said was true, she had cause to be both pleased and angry:怒的是瑞栋竟将经书交给了这小鬼,喜的是终于探得了下落,pleased that she now had a clue as to the Sutra’s whereabouts, angry that the Colonel should have given it to Trinket.说道:“既是如此,柳燕,你就陪了这小鬼去取那经书来给我。倘若经书不假,咱们就饶了他性命,将他还给皇帝算啦。咱们永世不许他再进慈宁宫来,免得我见了这小鬼就生气。” ‘In that case,’ she said to Trinket, ‘I want you to go with Swallow and find that book for me. If it is what you say it is, we’ll spare your life, and you can go back to the Emperor and never set foot here again! The sight of you only makes me angry.’柳燕拉住韦小宝右手,笑道:“小兄弟,咱们去罢!”韦小宝将手一摔,道:“我是男人,你是女人,拉拉扯扯的成什么样子。” Swallow took hold of Trinket’s right hand. ‘Come on, little boy, let’s be going!’ Trinket tried to shake her hand off. ‘Let go of me! I’m a man, you’re a woman! Stop trying to feel me up!’柳燕只轻轻握住他手掌,哪知她手指上竟似有极强的黏力,牢牢粘住了他手掌,这一摔没能摔脱她手。She had used virtually no force, and yet her hand stuck to his like a limpet and Trinket was unable to free himself.柳燕笑道:“你是太监,算什么男人了?就算真是男子汉,你这小鬼头给我做儿子也还嫌小。” ‘You’re just a eunuch,’ she said, with one of her appalling grins. ‘You’re not a man! And even if you were, you’re hardly even old enough to be my son.’韦小宝道:“是吗?你想做我娘,我觉得你跟我娘当真一模一样。”柳燕哪知他是绕了弯子,在骂自己是婊子,呸了一声,笑道:“姑娘是黄花闺女,你别胡说。”(pass)

一扯他手,走出门外。来到长廊,韦小宝心念乱转,只盼能想个什么妙法来摆脱她的掌握,They set off together. When they reached the covered walkway, Trinket’s heart was thumping. He was desperately trying to think of a way of escaping from the clutches of the Sow.那柄锋利之极的匕首插在右脚靴筒里,如伸左手去拔,手一动便给她发觉了,这女人武功了得,就算自己双手都有利器,也未必能跟她走上三招两式,’It’s no good trying to get out my dagger—she’ll notice the slightest move, and I don’t stand a chance against her. She obviously knows a thing or two about fighting.心下嘀咕:“他妈的,哪里忽然钻了这样一口大肥猪出来?钱老板什么不好送,偏偏送肥猪,我早就觉得不吉利。(pass)老婊子跟老乌龟动手之时,这头母猪一定还不在慈宁宫,否则她只要出来帮上一帮,老乌龟立时就死了。这头母猪定是这两天才到宫里的,否则的话,前几天老婊子就派她来杀我了,不用老婊子亲自动手。” She can’t have been around when the Old Whore fought with the Old Turtle, or she’d have joined in. She must be new in the Palace. She probably arrived in the last few days, or the Old Whore would have sent her to kill me, and not come herself.’想到这里,突然心生一计,带着她向东而行,径往乾清宫侧的上书房走去,眼前之计,只有去求康熙救命,As these thoughts were running through his head, a sort of a plan began to form itself in his mind. He made an easterly turn and started leading her towards the Upper Library, beside the Hall of Heavenly Purity. He would appeal to the Emperor to save him!这肥猪进宫不久,未必识得宫中的宫殿道路。It was his only hope! He was counting on the fact that she was new in the Palace and wouldn’t know where they were going.
他只向东跨得一步,第二步还没跨出,后领一紧,已被柳燕一把捉住。她嘻嘻一笑,问道:“好兄弟,你上哪里去?” With his second step, he felt her hands dose around his neck. ‘And where do you think we are going to now, dear boy?’ She accompanied this with one of her pig-like snuffling giggles.韦小宝道:“到我屋里去取经啊。”柳燕道:“那你怎么去上书房?想要皇上救你吗?” To my room, to get the Sutra,’ replied Trinket. ‘So what are we doing heading towards the Upper Library? You weren’t thinking of sneaking off to the Emperor by any chance?’韦小宝忍不住破口而骂:“臭猪,你倒认得宫里的道路。” Trinket couldn’t restrain himself. ‘You fat pig!’ he cried. ‘You would have to know your way around!’

柳燕道:“别的地方不认得,乾清宫、慈宁宫、和你小兄弟的住处,倒还不会认错。”手劲向右一扭,将他身子扭得朝西,笑道:“乖乖的走路,别掉枪花。” ‘I know this part of the Palace.’ She seized Trinket by the neck and yanked him round into a westerly direction. ‘There, off we go! Careful now, dear boy, we don’t want to damage die flowers!’她话声柔和,这一扭劲力却是极重。韦小宝颈骨格格声响,痛得大叫,还道头颈已被她扭断。She was all smiles, but her grip was devastating, and Trinket yelped with pain. He thought his neck was going to snap in two.前面两名太监听见声音,转过头来。柳燕低声道:“太后吩咐过的,你如想逃,又或是出声呼叫,要我立刻杀了你。” There were two eunuchs further down the walkway, and when diey heard this they turned around. ‘Her Majesty’s Orders,’ whispered the Sow to Trinket, ‘were that if you tried to escape, or made a noise, I was to kill you!’

韦小宝心想纵然大声求救,惊动了皇帝,康熙也不会违背母后之命。皇帝对自己虽好,决不致为了一个小太监而惹母亲生气。Trinket decided it would be no use to call out for the Emperor, since Kang Xi would be unlikely to defy the Empress Dowager anyway.最好能碰到几名侍卫,挑拨他们杀了柳燕。His only hope was to bump into a couple of guards and get them to help him dispose of the Sow.突然腰里一痛,给她用手肘大力一撞,听她说道:“想使什么鬼计吗?” Suddenly he felt an elbow digging into his ribs. ‘What are you plotting now?’韦小宝无奈,只得向自己住处走去。心下盘算:“到得我房中,虽有两个帮手,但方怡和小郡主身上有伤,我们三个对一个,还是打不过大肥猪。给她发现了两人踪迹,枉自多送了两人性命。” Trinket walked on reluctantly towards his room. He was worried about the two girls. They were still weak from their wounds, and he feared that the Sow might take their lives too if she became aware of their presence.到了门外,他取出钥匙开锁,故意将钥匙和锁相碰,弄得叮叮当当的直响,大声说道:When he reached the door, he unlocked it clumsily, deliberately making a lot of noise with the key, and exclaiming loudly: “臭婆娘,大肥猪,你这般折磨我,终有一日,我叫你不得好死。”柳燕笑道:“你且顾住自己会不会好死,却来多管别人闲事。”韦小宝砰的一声,将门推开,说道:“这经书给不给太后,你都会杀了我的。你当我是傻瓜,想侥幸活命吗?” ‘Slut! Fat Sow! One day I’ll get even!’ He pushed the door open as noisily as possible. . . ‘Whether I give you the Sutra or not, I know she’ll kill me. I’m not that stupid!’

柳燕道:“太后既说过饶你,多半会饶了你性命,最多挖了你一对眼珠,斩了你一双腿。”韦小宝骂道:“你以为太后待你很好吗?你杀了我之后,太后也必杀了你灭口。” ‘If she said she’ll spare you, she probably will. She might just gouge your eyes out though, and chop off your legs . . .’ ‘And what about you, you big fat pig! Do you think she’ll let you live? Once you’ve killed me, she’ll kill you. You’ll know too much to stay alive.’这句话似乎说中柳燕的心事。她一呆,随即用力在他背上一推。Sister Swallow paused for a moment, as if seriously contemplating Trinket’s remark, but then shoved him forward.韦小宝立足不定,冲进屋去。他在门外说了这许多话,料想方怡和小郡主早已听到,知道来了极凶恶的敌人,自是缩在被窝之中,连大气也不敢透。柳燕笑道:“我没空等你,快些拿出来。”又在他背上重重一推,韦小宝一个踉跄,几步冲入了内房。柳燕跟了进去。He stumbled into the room. ‘Hurry up!’ she said. ‘Get the book!’ She shoved him again, and followed him as he stumbled on into the inner room.

韦小宝一瞥眼,见床前整整齐齐的并排放着两对女鞋。其时天色已晚,房中并无灯烛,柳燕进房后未立即发现。Trinket quickly scanned the interior. The first thing to greet his eyes was two pairs of ladies’ slippers neatly arranged by the bed. It was evening, and there were no lamps lit. The Sow had still not spotted the slippers.韦小宝暗叫:“不好!”乘势又向前一冲,将两双鞋子推进了床下,跟着身子也钻了进去,’Drat!’ thought Trinket to himself, and at the same moment hurled himself forward and on to the ground, to push the slippers under the bed. Then on a sudden impulse he wriggled under the bed himself.心想再来一次,以杀瑞栋之法宰了这头肥猪:Perhaps he could deal with the Fat Sow somewhat as he had dealt with Colonel Rui.一钻进床底,右足便想缩转,右手去摸靴桶中的匕首,不料右足踝一紧,已被柳燕抓住,听她喝问:“干什么?”He was just pulling in his right leg, in order to extract the dagger from the side of his boot, when he felt the Sow’s hands close around his ankle. What are you up to now?’

韦小宝道:“我拿经书,这部书放在床底下。”柳燕道:“好!”谅他在床底也逃不到哪里去,便放脱了他足踝。韦小宝身子一缩,蜷成一团,拔了匕首在手。I’m getting the book. It’s under the bed.’ She let him go, thinking that he could hardly get away from her under the bed. Trinket curled up in a ball and took the dagger from his boot.柳燕喝道:“拿出来!”韦小宝道:“咦!好像有老鼠,啊哟,啊哟,可不得了,怎地把经书咬得稀烂啦?”柳燕道:“你在我面前弄鬼,半点用处也没有!给我出来!” ‘Come on! Give it here!’ ‘Oh no!’ came a muffled cry. ‘It looks as if mice have been down here! Aiyo! They’ve chewed the book into little pieces!’ ‘Come out of there! Stop fooling about with me!’

伸手去抓,却抓了个空,原来韦小宝已缩在靠墙之处。柳燕向前爬了两尺,上身已在床下,又伸指抓出。The Sow reached under the bed, but could feel nothing. Trinket was curled up against the wall. She began crawling under the bed herself.韦小宝转过身来,无声无息的挺匕首刺出。刀尖刚和她手背相触,柳燕便即知觉,反应迅捷之极,右手翻过一探,抓住了韦小宝的手腕,指力一紧,韦小宝手上已全无劲力,只得松手放脱匕首。Trinket now had the dagger in his hand. He stabbed at her. As the blade made contact with the back of her hand, the Sow reacted with the speed of lightning, seizing Trinket by the wrist and squeezing it so tightly that his hand went limp and he dropped the dagger on the floor.柳燕笑道:“你想杀我?先挖了你一颗眼珠子。”右手扠住他咽喉,左手便去挖他眼睛。Trying to kill me, were you? Very well then. Out with one of your eyes!’ She gripped his throat with her right hand and began to throttle him, at the same time attacking one of his eyes with her left hand.韦小宝大叫:“有条毒蛇!”柳燕一惊,叫道:“什么?”突然间“啊”的一声大叫,扠住韦小宝喉咙的手渐渐松了,身子扭了几下,伏倒在地。’A snake!’ yelled Trinket. ‘What?’ gasped the Sow. Then she gave a great scream, and the hand on Trinket’s throat loosened its grip. The Sow’s body writhed, and she lay still.

韦小宝又惊又喜,忙从床底下爬出来,只听沐剑屏道:“你……你没受伤吗?” Trinket scrambled out from under the bed, surprised and delighted by this sudden turn of events. He heard the Little Countess’s voice: ‘Are you all right?’韦小宝掀开帐子,见方怡坐在床上,双手扶住剑柄,不住喘气,He drew apart the bed-curtains, and there was Fang Yi sitting on the bed, holding the handle of her sword in both hands and panting.那口长剑从褥子上插向床底,直没至柄。原来她听得韦小宝情势紧急,从床上挺剑插落,长剑穿过褥子和棕绷,直刺入柳燕的背心。She had driven the long blade of the sword down through the bolster and the rope bed-support, right up to its hilt. It had gone straight into the Sow’s back and out through her heart.韦小宝在柳燕屁股上踢了一脚,见她一动不动,欣喜之极,说道:“好……好姊姊,是你救了我性命。” Her fat buttocks were still protruding from under the bed. Trinket gave them a kick, and they did not budge. ‘Dear. . . dear sister, you’ve saved my life!’ he exclaimed joyfully.

凭着柳燕的武功,方怡虽在黑暗中向她偷袭,也必难以得手,但她见韦小宝开锁入房,丝毫没想到房中伏得有人,这一剑又是隔着床褥刺下,事先没半点征兆,待得惊觉,长剑已然穿心而过。纵是武功再强十倍之人,也无法避过。只不过真正的高手自重身分,决不会像她这般钻入床底去捉人而已。韦小宝怕她没死透,拔出剑来,隔着床褥又刺了两剑。Then he clambered onto the bed and stabbed the Sow twice more through the bolster with his dagger, for good measure.沐剑屏道:“这恶女人是谁?她好凶,说要挖你的眼珠子。”韦小宝道:“是老婊子太后的手下。”问方怡道:“你伤口痛吗?” ‘Who was that horrible woman?’ asked the Little Countess. ‘She said she was going to gouge your eyes out!’ ‘She works for that Old Whore the Empress Dowager,’ replied Trinket. He turned to Fang Yi. ‘Is your wound hurting you?’

方怡皱着眉头,道:“还好!”其实刚才这一剑使劲极大,牵动了伤口,痛得她几欲晕去,额头上汗水一滴滴的渗出。She frowned. ‘I’ll be all right.’ In fact the effort she had made had opened her wound again. She was faint with pain, and beads of sweat stood out on her brow.韦小宝道:“过不多久,老婊子又会再派人来,咱们可得立即想法子逃走。’We don’t have much time,’ said Trinket. ‘It won’t be long before the Old Whore sends someone else after me. We must think of an escape plan quickly.嗯,你们两个女扮男装,装成太监模样,咱们混出宫去。好姊姊,你能行走吗?”方怡道:“勉强可以罢。”韦小宝取出自己两套衣衫,道:“你们换上穿了。” The two of you had better dress up as eunuchs, and we’ll all try and sneak out.’ He turned to Fang Yi. ‘Do you think you can manage to walk?’ ‘I’ll try.’ Trinket produced two sets of clothes and told them to put them on.

将柳燕的尸身从床底下拖出来,拾起匕首收好,在尸身上弹了些化尸粉,He dragged the Sow’s body out from under the bed, and sprinkled Decomposing Powder on it赶忙将银票、金银珠宝、两部《四十二章经》,以及武功秘诀包了个包袱,那一大包蒙汗药和化尸粉自然也非带不可。. Then he put away his dagger, made a bundle containing banknotes, gold and silver ingots, two copies of the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections, his kungfu primer, the sleeping potion, and of course the remains of the powder.沐剑屏换好衣衫,先下床来。韦小宝赞道:“好个俊俏的小太监,我来给你打辫子。” The Little Countess was dressed first, and climbed down from the bed. ‘You make a very handsome eunuch!’ said Trinket. ‘Here, let me do your pigtail for you.’过了一会,方怡也下床来。她身材比韦小宝略高,穿了他衣衫绷得紧紧的,很不合身,一照镜子,忍不住笑了出来。He braided her hair, and the Little Countess then did the same for Fang Yi. Soon both girls were ready. Fang Yi was taller than Trinket, and his clothes were rather a tight fit on her. When she looked at herself in the mirror, she couldn’t help laughing.

沐剑屏笑道:“让他给我打辫子,我给师姊打辫子。”韦小宝拿起沐剑屏长长的头发,胡乱打了个大辫。沐剑屏照了照镜子,说道:“啊哟,这样难看,我来打过。”(pass)韦小宝道:“现下不忙便打过。此刻天已黑了,出不得宫。老婊子不见肥猪回报,又会派人来拿我。咱们先找个地方躲一躲,明儿一早混出宫去。” ‘We won’t be able to get out of the Palace tonight,’ said Trinket. ‘But we must find a place to hide. The Old Whore will be after me.’方怡问道:“老……太后不会派人在各处宫门严查么?”韦小宝道:“也只好走一步算一步了。”想起从前跟康熙比武摔交那间屋子十分清静,从没第三人到来,当下扶着二人,出得屋来。After a moment’s thought, he decided to take them to the room where he and Kang Xi had held their sparring matches—the ‘cake-room’.沐剑屏断了腿,拿根门闩撑了当拐杖。方怡走一步,便胸口一痛。韦小宝右手揽住她腰间,半扶半抱,向前行去。The Little Countess hobbled along, using a door-bar as a crutch. Fang Yi had to be helped by Trinket, who put an arm round her, and half-supported, half-hugged her.

好在天色已黑,他又尽拣僻静的路步,撞到几个不相干的太监,也没人留意。到得屋内,三人都松了口气。Luckily it was growing dark already, and they only ran into one or two junior eunuchs on their way. When they reached the room, they breathed a sigh of relief.韦小宝转身将门闩上,扶着方怡在椅子上坐了,低声道:“咱们在这里别说话,外面便是走廊,可不像我住的屋子那么僻静。” Trinket barred the door and helped Fang Yi into a chair. ‘We’d better not talk here,’ he whispered. ‘It’s not like my room. There’s a passage-way outside.’夜色渐浓,初时三人尚可互相见到五官,到后来只见到朦胧的身影。沐剑屏嫌韦小宝结的辫子不好看,自己解开了又再结过。方怡拉过自己辫子在手中搓弄,忽然轻轻“啊”的一声。Gradually it grew darker and darker, until they could hardly see each other any more. Fang Yi started fiddling with her hair, and suddenly gave a little sigh.韦小宝低声问道:“怎么?”方怡道:“没什么,我掉了根银钗子。” ‘What’s the matter?’ whispered Trinket. ‘Nothing, I seem to have lost a hairpin.’沐剑屏道:“啊,是了,我解开你头发时,将你那根银钗放在桌上,打好了辫子,却忘记给你插回头上。真糟糕,那是刘师哥给你的,是不是?”方怡道:“一根钗子,又打什么紧了?” ‘Oh dear!’ whispered the Little Countess. ‘It’s my fault. I took it out when I undid your hair, and left it on the table. It’s the silver one Liu gave you, isn’t it?’ ‘It really doesn’t matter. It’s only a hairpin.’

韦小宝听她虽说并不打紧,语气之中实是十分惋惜,心想:“好人做到底,我去悄悄给她取回来。” Trinket detected the note of sadness in her voice, and his mind was already made up. Chivalry must be observed through to the bitter end.当下也不说话,过了一会,说道:“肚里饿得很了,挨到明天,只怕没力气走路。我去找些吃的。”沐剑屏道:“快回来啊。”韦小宝道:“是了。”走到门边,倾听外面无人,开门出去。’We’ll be dreadfully hungry by morning,’ he said. I’ll go and find us something to eat.’ ‘Don’t be long!’ whispered the Little Countess. Trinket slipped out.

他快步回到自己住处,生怕太后已派人守候,绕到屋后听了良久,确知屋子内外无人,这才推开窗子爬了进去。He was afraid the Empress Dowager might have already sent someone to his room, so he hid outside and listened for any noise, before climbing in through a window.其时月光斜照,见桌上果然放着一根银钗。这银钗手工甚粗,最多值得一二钱银子,心想:“刘一舟这穷小子,送这等寒蠢的礼物给方姑娘。” He could see the silver hairpin lying on the table, shining in the moonlight. It was a cheap little thing, and he mentally berated Liu Yizhou for giving such a beautiful lady such a worthless present.在银钗上吐了口唾沫,放入衣袋,从锡罐、竹篮、抽屜、床上搁板等处胡乱打些糕饼点心,塞在纸盒里,揣入怀中。Then he put it in his pocket, stuffed some cakes into a little cardboard box, and put that inside his gown.正要从窗口爬出去,忽见床前赫然有一对红色金线绣鞋,鞋中竟然各有一只脚。He was about to climb back out of the window, when his eye was caught by something on the ground by the bed. It was a pair of crimson satin shoes embroidered with gold thread. And in each of the shoes was a foot.

韦小宝吓了一大跳,淡淡月光下,见一对断脚上穿了一双鲜艳的红鞋,甚是可怖。Trinket nearly jumped out of his skin with fright. It was certainly a terrifying sight to see in the pale moonlight, a pair of amputated feet in bright red shoes!随即明白:柳燕的尸身被化尸粉化去时,床前地面不平,尸身化成的黄水流向床底,留下两只脚没化去。Trinket quickly figured out what had happened. The ground sloped down towards the bed, and when the Fat Sow’s body had decomposed, the pus had obviously trickled down under the bed, and left her feet—the Sow’s trotters! — stranded high and dry.他转过身来,待要将两只断脚踢入黄水之中,但黄水已干,化尸粉却已包入包袱,留在方怡与沐剑屏身边,He thought of kicking them into the ooze, but it had already dried out. The remaining powder was in the other room, in his bundle.心念一转,童心忽起:“他妈的,老子这次出宫,再也见不到老婊子了,老子把这两只脚丢入她屋中,吓她个半死。” Suddenly an impish idea entered his head. ‘Tamardy! Once I get out of here, I may never see the Old Whore again! Why not play one last trick on her! One that will give her a real fright!’取过一件长衫,裹住一双连鞋的断脚,牢牢包住,爬出窗外,悄悄向慈宁宫行去。He found one of his gowns and wrapped it round both of the amputated feet, in their shoes. Then he climbed out of the window and stole towards the Hall of Maternal Tranquillity.

Qreen and Qrey

离慈宁宫将近,便不敢再走正路,闪身花木之后,走一步,听一听,心想:“倘若一个不小心,给老婊子捉到了,那可是自投罗网。” 又觉有趣,又是害怕, As he approached the Empress Dowager’s compound, he thought it safer to make a detour and go through the shrubbery. He was both carried away by the sheer impudence of what he was planning, and at the same time terrified of the possible consequences if he should get caught.一步步的走近太后寝宫。手心中汗水渐多,寻思:“我把这对猪蹄子放在门口的阶石上,她明天定会瞧见。如果投入天井,毕竟太过危险。” Step by step he drew nearer to the Empress Dowager’s bedroom. His hands were sweating with fear. ‘I’ll just leave the trotters outside the door,’ he thought to himself. ‘She’ll find them there tomorrow. It’s too dangerous to go inside.’轻轻的又走前了两步,忽听得一个男人的声音说道:“阿燕怎么搞的,怎地到这时候还没回来?” As he crept forwards, he suddenly heard a man’s voice: What on earth can Swallow be up to? She’s been away too long.’韦小宝大奇:“屋中怎么有男人?这人说话的声音又不是太监,莫非老婊子有了姘头?哈哈,老子要捉奸。” ‘A man?’ thought Trinket in the greatest surprise. ‘In the Old Whore’s bedroom? And he doesn’t sound like a eunuch either. Has she got a boyfriend? Ha ha! Old Trink’s about to catch the Whore in the arms of her lover!’

他心中虽说要“捉奸”,可是再给他十倍的胆子,却也不敢,但好奇心大起,决不肯就此放下断脚而走。Actually he was far too scared to catch her doing any such thing. But his curiosity was aroused. He couldn’t just leave the trotters and go.向着声音来处蹑手蹑足的走了几步,每一步都轻轻提起,极慢极慢的放下,以防踏到枯枝,发出声响。He crawled forwards stealthily on all fours to where he had heard the voice coming from.只听那男人哼了一声,说道:“只怕事情有变。你既知这小鬼十分滑溜,怎地让阿燕独自带他去?”韦小宝心道:“原来你是在说你老子。” The man coughed. ‘I’m afraid things may have gone wrong. That boy’s a crafty devil, I’m surprised you let Swallow go with him on her own.’只听太后道:“阿燕的武功高他十倍,人又机警,步步提防,哪会出事?多半那部经书放在远处,阿燕押了小鬼去拿去了。” ‘Swallow’s kungfu is ten times better than his,’ replied the Empress Dowager. ‘And she’s very cautious. They probably had to go a long way to find the Sutra, that’s all.’那男人道:“能够拿到经书,自然很好,否则的话,哼哼!”这人语气严峻,对太后如此说话,实是无礼已极。’Let’s just hope they get it! If they don’t. . .’ The man’s tone was extremely gruff, almost threatening.

Trinket was more puzzled than ever. Who on earth would speak to her like that? Surely it can’t be the Old Emperor, come back from Wutai?’ That seemed highly unlikely.

听得太后说道:“你知道我已尽力而为。我这样的身分,总不能亲自押着个小太监,在宫里走来走去。我踏出慈宁宫一步,宫女太监就跟了一大串,还能办什么事?” ‘I did everything I could,’ the Empress Dowager continued. ‘I could hardly go wandering off with a little eunuch myself. All my maids and eunuchs would have insisted on trailing after me.’那男人道:“你不能等到天黑再押他去吗?要不然就通知我,让我押他去拿经书。”太后道:“我可不敢劳你的驾。你在这里,什么形迹也不能露。” ‘Couldn’t you have waited till after dark? Couldn’t you have sent for me?’ ‘I didn’t want to risk revealing your presence here.’那男人冷笑道:“遇到了这等大事,还管什么?我知道,你不肯通知我,是怕我抢了你的功劳。”太后道:“有什么好抢的?有功劳是这样,没功劳也是这样。只求太平无事的多挨上一年罢了。The man gave a hollow laugh. ‘In a matter as important as this? I hardly think so. You were probably afraid I would take the credit for it.’”语气中充满怨怼。韦小宝若不是清清楚楚认得太后的声音,定会当作是个老宫女在给人责怪埋怨。那两人的说话都压低了嗓子,但相距既近,静夜中别无其他声息,决无听错之理,听他二人说什么“抢了功劳”,那么这男子又不是顺治皇帝了。(Pass)他好奇心再也无法抑制,慢慢爬到窗边,从窗缝向内张去。Trinket could control his curiosity no longer. He stole up to the window, and, peeped through a crack.这般站在窗外偷看,他在丽春院自幼便练得熟了,心道:“从前我偷看瘟生嫖我妈妈,今晚偷看老婊子接客。” This was the kind of thing he’d done plenty of times as a child at the whore-house. Then it had been to peep on a customer jumping on his mum; now he was spying on the Empress Dowager with her lover!

只见太后侧身坐在椅上,一个宫女双手负在身后,在房中踱步,He had a side-on view of her sitting in her chair, and he could see a maid walking up and down the room, with her hands behind her back.此外更无旁人,心想:“那男人却到哪里去了?”只见那宫女转过身来,说道:“不等了,我去瞧瞧。” There did not seem to be anyone else present. ‘Where’s the man got to?’ wondered Trinket. Then the maid turned round. ‘I can’t wait any longer,’ she said. ‘I’m going to look for myself.’她一开口,韦小宝吓了一跳,原来这宫女一口男嗓,刚才就是她在说话。韦小宝在窗缝中只瞧得到她胸口,瞧不见她脸。The very first syllable gave Trinket a violent shock. It was a man’s voice. The man’s voice that he had been listening to. He was still unable to see the speaker’s face.太后道:“我和你同去。”那宫女冷笑道“你就是不放心。”太后道:“那又有什么不放心了?我疑心阿燕有什么古怪,咱二人联手,容易制他。”那宫女道:“嗯,那也不可不防,别在阴沟里翻船。这就去罢。” ‘I’ll go with you,’ said the Empress Dowager. ‘Still don’t trust me, do you!’ ‘Of course I trust you! But Swallow can be a tricky customer, and I think it would be safer if there were two of us.’ ‘You may be right. Let’s go then.’

太后点点头,走到床边,掀开被褥,又揭起一块木板来,The Empress Dowager nodded, and went towards the bed. She lifted up the mattress and removed a wooden panel from underneath it.烛光下青光一闪,手中已多了一柄短剑,将短剑插入剑鞘,放在怀中。Something flashed in the lamplight, and then Trinket saw her holding a short-sword. She slipped it into a sheath and put it away in a large inside pocket.韦小宝心想:“原来老婊子床上还有这么个机关。她是防人行刺,短剑不插在剑鞘之中,那是伸手一抓,拿剑就可杀人,用不着从鞘中拔出。万分紧急的当儿,可差不起这么霎一霎眼的时刻。” ‘So, she has a secret compartment in her bed!’ thought Trinket. ‘And keeps a sword there, ready for murderous occasions like this!’只见太后和那宫女走出寝殿,虚掩殿门,出了慈宁宫,房中烛火也不吹熄,He watched the two of them as they stole out into the night, leaving the door ajar. The lamps were still burning inside the room.韦小宝心想:“我将这对猪蹄放在她床上那个机关之中,待会她放还短剑,忽然摸到这对猪蹄,管教吓得她死去活来。” ‘I know,’ thought Trinket with glee. I’ll put the Fat Sow’s trotters in the Old Whore’s secret compartment! When she comes back to put her sword away, she’ll find them there and die of fright!’

只觉这主意妙不可言,当即闪身进屋,掀开被褥,见床板上有个小铜环,It struck him as a brilliant plan. He crept into the room, and lifted up the mattress. Under it he found the wooden panel, a foot wide and two feet long, with a brass ring in it.伸指一拉,一块阔约一尺、长约二尺的木板应手而起,下面是个长方形的暗格,赫然放着三部经书,正是他曾见过的《四十二章经》。He put his finger in the ring and lifted it, to reveal a rectangular compartment, within which he saw to his absolute amazement no less than three copies of the (by now familiar) Sutra in Forty-Two Sections.两部是他在鳌拜府中所抄得,原来放经书的玉匣已不在了。Two of these were the ones he had acquired from the division of Oboi’s property, though they no longer had their jade cases.另有一部封皮是白绸子的,那晚听海老公与太后说话,说顺治皇帝送给董鄂妃一部经书,太后杀了董鄂妃后据为己有,料想就是这部了。The third was bound in white silk, bordered with red. This must be the copy Trinket had heard the Old Whore talking about to Hai Dafu, the one the Old Emperor Shun Zhi had given to his favourite Lady Donggo, and which the Empress Dowager had stolen from Lady Donggo when she murdered her.
韦小宝大喜,心想:“这些经书不知有什么屁用,人人都这等看重。老子这就来个顺手牵羊,把老婊子气个半死。” Trinket was absolutely delighted. ‘Whatever it is that’s so tamardy special about these Sutras, for some reason people seem to think they’re worth their weight in gold! Time for old Trink to help himself to one or two, I’d say, and give the Old Whore a bit more of a scare!’当即取出三部经书,塞入怀里。将柳燕那双脚从长袍中抖入暗格,盖上木板,He removed the three Sutras and put them inside his jacket, then took the trotters out of the gown he had wrapped them in and placed them in the compartment, carefully replacing the wooden panel.放好被褥,将长袍踢入床底,正要转身出外,忽听得外房门呀的一声响,有人推门而进。He spread the bedding out on top of the panel, and kicked the gown under the bed. He was about to leave the room when he heard the sound of a door creaking and somebody entering.

这一下当真吓得魂飞天外,哪料到太后和那宫女回来得这样快,想也想不及,一低头便钻人床底,心中只是叫苦,只盼太后忘记了什么东西They had returned far sooner than he had thought possible! Trinket had no time to think. He ducked terrified under the bed. He was hoping against hope that the Old Whore had come back to fetch something she had forgotten,,回来拿了,又去找寻自己,又盼她所忘记的东西并非放在被褥下的暗格之中。and would leave again as soon as she had found whatever it was, to go away in search of her bete noire—himself! And he was hoping and praying that the forgotten item was not one she normally kept in her secret compartment.

只听得脚步声轻快,一个人窜了进来,却是个女子,脚上穿的虽双淡绿鞋子,裤子也是淡绿,瞧裤子形状是个宫女,The footsteps sounded light and fast, as though only one person was coming into the room. That one person seemed to be a woman, judging from the pale green slippers and silken trousers which now came into view. It was probably a maid-in-waiting.心想:“原来是服侍太后的宫女,她身有武功,不会是蕊初。她如不马上出去,可得将她杀了。最好她走到床前来。”轻轻拔出匕首,只待那宫女走到床前,一刀自下而上,刺她小腹,包管她莫名其妙的就此送命。The feet approached the bed. Trinket pulled out his dagger, ready to take her life if necessary.
只听得她开抽屜,开柜门,搬翻东西,在找寻什么物事,却始终不走到床前,跟着听得嗤嗤几声响,用什么利器划破了两口箱子。Then to his surprise she walked away from the bed and he heard her rummaging in drawers, opening a wardrobe door, searching for something. There was a ripping sound as she broke open a couple of boxes with some sharp implement.韦小宝吃了一惊:“这人不是寻常宫女,是到太后房中偷盗来的,莫非是来盗《四十二章经》?她手中既有刀剑,看来武功也不会差过老子,我如出去,别说杀她,只怕先给她杀了。” This can’t be one of the regular maids,’ thought Trinket to himself in some alarm. Whoever she is, she seems to have come here to steal something. Perhaps the Sutras? She’s obviously got some kind of a knife. I’d better be careful.’听得那女子在箱中一阵乱翻,又划破了西首三口箱子找寻。韦小宝肚里不住咒骂:“你再不步,老婊子可要回来了。你送了性命不要紧,累得我韦小宝陪你归天,你的面子未免太大了。”那女子找不到东西,似乎十分焦急,在箱中翻得更快。He heard her rummaging in some boxes, then breaking open several more. Her searching became more and more frantic.韦小宝就想投降:“不如将经书抛了出去给她,好让她快快走路。” Trinket had more or less decided to abandon his hiding-place, and chuck the Sutras out from under the bed for her, when he heard more footsteps outside the room,便在此时,门外脚步声响,只听得太后低声道:“我说定是柳燕这贱人拿到经书,自行走了。”那女子听到人声,已不及逃走,and the Empress Dowager’s voice muttering: ‘Ill bet that slut Swallow has gone off with the Sutra herself!’ The intruder heard the voice too. It was too late for her to escape.跨进衣柜,关上了柜门。Trinket heard her open a wardrobe and jump inside, pulling the door closed after her.

那男子口音的宫女说道:“你当真差了柳燕拿经书?我怎知你说的不是假话?”太后怒道:“你说什么?我没派柳燕去拿经书?那么要她干什么去?” ‘I’m beginning to wonder if you ever sent Swallow to get the Sutra. ‘It was the maid-with-a-man’s-voice who spoke. ‘How am I to know you’re not making it up?’ ‘What are you trying to say? What else would I have sent her to do?’那宫女道:“我怎知你在捣什么鬼?说不定你要除了柳燕这眼中之钉,将她害死了。”太后怒哼一声,I’ve no idea what you were up to. Perhaps you just wanted to get rid of her . . .’ The Empress Dowager gave an angry snort.说道:“亏你做师兄的,竟说出这等没脑子的话来。柳燕是我师妹,我有这样大的胆子?” Trust you, my own brother-in-arms, to say something as stupid as that! Swallow is my own sister-in-arms, how could I even think of doing such a thing?’

那宫女冷冷的道:“你素来胆大,心狠手辣,什么事做不出来?” ‘You?’ sneered the man’s voice. ‘You’re a vicious scheming bitch, that’s what you are! You’d stop at nothing!’两人话声甚低,但静夜中还是听得清清楚楚。韦小宝听太后叫那宫女为“师兄”,而柳燕却又是她“师妹”,越听越奇。They were speaking in hushed tones, but it was the dead of night and Trinket could hear every word they said. All this talk of brothers- and sisters-in-arms had him more puzzled than ever.她二人说话之间,已走进内室,一见到房中箱子划破,杂物散了一地,同时啊的一声,惊叫出来。When the two of them entered the room, and discovered the chaos of upturned boxes and ransacked drawers, they both let out a shocked cry.太后叫道:“有人来盗经书。”奔到床边,翻起被褥,拉开木板,见经书已然不在,叫了声:“啊哟!”’Someone’s been to steal the Sutras!’ cried the Empress Dowager. She rushed to the bed, lifted the bedding, and removed the panel. When she saw that the Sutras were gone, she let out another cry.跟着便见到柳燕的那一对断脚,惊道:“那是什么?”那宫女伸手拿起,说道:“是女人的脚。” Then she saw the trotters. ‘What’s this?’ she gasped, horrified. The maid-with-a-man’s-voice reached into the compartment. This,’ he said, ‘is a pair of women’s feet.’太后惊道:“这是柳燕,她……她给人害死了。”那宫女冷笑道:“我的话没错罢?” They’re Swallow’s feet!’ cried the Empress Dowager. ‘She’s been killed!’ ‘So, I was right after all,’ sneered the man’s voice.

太后又惊又怒,道:“什么话没错?”那宫女道:“这藏书的秘密所在,天下只你自己一人知道。柳师妹倘若不是你害死的,她的断脚怎会放在这里?” What do you mean?’ cried the Empress Dowager, both shocked and angry. ‘You are the only person who knew where the Sutras were hidden. You killed her and you put her feet in here!’太后怒道:“这会儿还在这里说瞎话?盗经之人该当离去不远,咱们快追。”那宫女道:“不错,说不定这人还在慈宁宫中。你……你可不是自己弄鬼罢?”太后不答,转过身来,望着衣柜,一步步走过去,似乎对这柜子已然起疑。’Stop talking such utter rubbish! The thief can’t be far away. We must go after him.’ She turned and looked around the room. The wardrobe seemed to catch her eye, and she began walking slowly towards it.

韦小宝一颗心几乎要从胸腔中跳了出来,烛光晃动,映得剑光一闪一闪,在地下掠过,By now, Trinket’s heart was thumping so hard he thought it would burst out of his chest. The flickering candlelight was reflected from the Empress Dowager’s sword.料知太后左手拉开柜门,右手便挺剑刺进柜去,柜中那宫女势必无可躲闪。
He knew that when she reached the wardrobe, she would open it, she would use her sword, and the woman inside would have nowhere to escape.

眼见太后又跨了一步,离衣柜已不过两尺,突然间喀喇喇一声响,那衣柜直倒下来,压向太后。The Empress Dowager was by now only two feet from the wardrobe. Suddenly there was a great crash, and the entire wardrobe came toppling down on top of her.太后出其不意,急向后跃,柜中飞出好几件花花绿绿的衣衫,缠在她头上。She leapt backwards, and clothes of every colour came flying out of the wardrobe after her, winding themselves around her head.太后忙伸手去抓,又有一团衣衫掷向她身前,只听得她一声惨叫,As she tried to extricate herself from the various garments, another great bundle came hurtling towards her, and Trinket heard her utter a piercing cry.衣衫中一把血淋淋的短刀提了起来。原来那团衣衫之中竟裹得有人。柜中宫女倒柜掷衣,令太后手足无措,一击成功。In the midst of the bundle he could see a dripping sword. The woman hiding in the wardrobe had tipped it over, thrown dress after dress at the Empress Dowager, and then finally had pounced on her and struck.

那男嗓宫女起初似乎瞧得呆了,待得听到太后惨呼,这才发掌向那团衣服中击落。The maid-with-a-man’s-voice at first stood riveted to the spot. Then when she heard the cry, she went into the attack.韦小宝见那团衣服迅即滚开,那绿衣宫女从乱衣服中跃将出来,手提染血短刀,向那男嗓宫女扑去。那男嗓宫女发掌击出,绿衣宫女斜身闪开,立即又向敌人扑上。Trinket saw the maid in green tumble out of the bundle of clothes, and emerge still clutching her sword dripping with blood. She threw herself now at the man-maid, and the two were soon embroiled in close combat.韦小宝身在床底,只见到两人的四只脚。男嗓宫女穿的是灰色裤子,黑缎鞋子。From under the bed Trinket watched the progress of the fight, grey trousers and black satin shoes versus green trousers and shoes.穿绿鞋的双脚疾进疾退,穿黑鞋的双脚只偶尔跨前一步,退后一步。两人相斗甚剧,却不闻兵刃相交之声,显然那男嗓宫女手中没有兵刃。The green shoes darted in and out with lightning speed, the black shoes advanced and retreated more heavily. It was an intense struggle, but without any sound of weapons clashing.韦小宝斜眼向太后瞧去,只见她躺在地下,毫不动弹,显已死了。The Empress Dowager meanwhile was lying motionless on the ground, apparently dead.但听得掌声呼呼,斗了一会,突然眼前一暗,三座烛台中已有一只蜡烛给掌风扑熄。One of the candles went out, and the room grew darker still.

韦小宝心道:“另外两只蜡烛快快也都熄了,我就可乘黑逃走。” ‘In a minute the other two candles will go out,’ thought Trinket, ‘and I’ll be able to make a dash for it.’呼的一声掌风过去,又是一只蜡烛熄了。两个宫女只是闷打,谁也不发出半点声息,似乎都怕惊动了外人。慈宁宫中本来太监宫女甚众,闹了这么好一会,早该有人过来察看,但这些人显然一向奉了太后严令,不得呼召,谁也不敢过来窥探。The two were still locked in a hushed and deadly conflict. They both seemed to be afraid of arousing the Empress Dowager’s maids and eunuchs. Another candle went out.只听得察察声响,桌椅的碎片四散飞溅,韦小宝暗暗心惊:“这说话好似男人般的宫女武功恁地了得,掌风到处,将桌椅都击得粉碎。”蓦地里一声轻呼,白光闪烁,跟着噗的一声,似是绿衣宫女兵刃脱手,飞上去钉在屋顶。Trinket could hear bits of table and chair flying round the room. Then he saw a flash as the maid in green’s sword went hurtling upwards and impaled itself in one of the beams of the roof.跟着两人倒在地下,扭成一团。这一来韦小宝瞧得甚是清楚,但见两人施展擒拿手法,在数尺方圆之内进攻防御,招招凶险之极。他别的武功所知甚为有限,于擒拿法却练过不少时日,曾跟康熙日日拆解,见两个宫女出招极快,出手狠辣凌厉,挖眼、捣胸、批颈、锁喉、打穴、截脉、勾腕、撞肘,没一招不是攻敌要害。韦小宝暗暗咋舌:“倘若换作了我,早就大叫投降了!” The two combatants were now grappling with each other hand to Hand on the floor. Trinket could see them more clearly. They were fighting within a small space, going for each other’s eyes, chest, throat, Vital Points, wrists.韦小宝一颗心随着两人的手掌跳动,只想:“那支蜡烛为什么还不熄?”他明知二人斗得正紧,他就算堂而皇之的从床底爬了出来,堂而皇之的走出门去,两名宫女也只有惊愕的份儿,谁也缓不出手来阻拦,但就是鼓不起勇气。rinket prayed for the last candle to go out. Even if he had made a dash for it now, the other two would probably have been too stunned to stop him. But he did not have the courage.

蓦地里烛火一暗,一个女子声音轻哼一声,烛光又亮,只见那灰衣宫女已压住了绿衣宫女,右手手肘横架在她咽喉上。For a second or two the last candle guttered. The woman uttered a low cry. Then the light flared up again, and Trinket could see the ‘maid’ in grey trousers astride the one in green, ‘her’ right forearm pressed down against the other’s throat.绿衣宫女左手给敌人掠在外门,难以攻敌,右手勾打拿戳,连连出招,都给对方左手化解了,咽喉给人压住,喘息艰难,右手的招数渐缓,双足向上乱踢,转眼便会给敌人扼死。Green’s left arm was also pinned to the floor and out of action, and all she could do was jab wildly with her right, each time meeting with a block from her opponent. Slowly but surely she was being throttled. Her right hand grew weaker and weaker, and she kicked out with her feet, but it was only a matter of time before it would all be over.韦小宝心想:“这灰衣宫女扼死对手之后。定会探头到床底下来找经书,韦小宝可得变成韦死宝!” ‘Once Grey Trousers has killed her,’ thought Trinket to himself, ‘I’ll be the next to go!’此时不容细思,立即从床底窜出,手起剑落,一匕首插入灰衣宫女的背心,乘势向上一挑,切了一道长长的口子,随即跃开。This one thought galvanized him into action. He scuttled out from under the bed, and drove his dagger straight into Grey Trousers’ back. He ripped the deadly blade upwards, opened up a large gaping wound, then leapt clear.

灰衣宫女纵声大叫,跳了起来,一扑而前,双手抓住韦小宝头颈,用力收紧。韦小宝给她扼得伸出了舌头,眼前阵阵发黑。Grey Trousers let out a great cry, jumped in the air and lunged, grabbing Trinket’s head with both ‘her’ hands. Trinket’s tongue popped out of his mouth, and for a moment everything went black before his eyes.绿衣宫女飞身跃起,右掌猛落,斩在灰衣宫女的左颈,The maid in green came flying through the air and brought the edge of her right palm slicing down on the left side of Grey Trousers’ neck.跟着左手抓住她头发向后力扯,突然手上一松,将她满头头发都拉了下来,露出一个光头,Then with her left hand she seized hold of her opponent’s hair and tugged at it with all her might. The whole head of hair came away in her hand, revealing a shining bald pate.原来装的是假发。就在这时,灰衣宫女双手松开,放脱了韦小宝,头颈扭了几扭,倒地缩作一团,背上鲜血犹如泉涌,眼见不活了。It was a wig. Grey Trousers’ hands went limp, Trinket was free, and with a few convulsions Grey Trousers sank in a heap to the ground, blood gushing from the wound in ‘her’ back. ‘She’ was evidently dead.

绿衣宫女喘息道:“多谢小公公,救了我性命。” ‘Thank you, Goong-goong,’ panted the maid in green. ‘You saved my life!’韦小宝点了点头,惊悸未定,伸手抚摸自己头颈,左手指着那灰衣宫女的光头,道:“她……她……”Trinket nodded, and scratched his own neck in utter perplexity. He touched the bald pate. ‘So … she . . .’绿衣宫女道:“这人男扮女装,混在宫里。”忽听得门口有人叫道:“来人啊,有刺客!”声音半男半女,是个太监。’She was a man dressed up as a woman,’ replied the maid in green. ‘Up to no good.’ A voice could be heard outside calling for help. This time it

was neither a man’s nor a woman’s, but that mixture of both that characterized the voice of a eunuch.

绿衣宫女右手揽住韦小宝,破窗而出,The maid in green put her right arm round Trinket’s waist, and with her left broke a pane in the window and leapt through the opening.左手挥出,噗的一响,跟着“啊”的一声惨叫,那太监身中暗器,扑地倒了。She took aim, and threw something out into the night. There was a nasty thud and a cry, and the eunuch fell to the ground, struck by a deadly dart.绿衣宫女左手揽着韦小宝的腰,将他横着提起,向北疾奔,过西三所,进了养华门。The maid slung Trinket over her shoulder, and set off at a great pace in a northerly direction. She ran through the Gate for Nurturing Splendour.韦小宝这时比之初进宫时已高大了不少,也重了不少,这绿衣宫女跟他一般高矮,身子纤细,但提了他快步而奔,如提婴儿,毫不费力。Trinket was quite a weight, and she was only slightly built herself, but she carried him as effortlessly as if he was an infant.韦小宝赞道:“好本事!”那宫女提着他从小径绕过雨花阁、保华殿,来到福建宫侧的火场之畔,才将他放下。She ran past the Rain Flower Pavilion, past the Hall of Precious Splendour, to the edge of the burning-ground by the Palace of Established Happiness. There she put him down.

The Burning-Ground

这火场已近西铁门,是焚烧宫中垃圾废物的所在,晚间极为僻静。This burning-ground, just inside the Western Iron Gate, was where the Palace refuse was incinerated. At this hour of the evening it was deserted.绿衣宫女问道:“小公公,你叫什么名字?”韦小宝道:“我是小桂子!”她“啊”的一声,说道:“原来是手擒鳌拜、皇上最得宠的小桂子公公。” ‘Goong-goong,’ said the maid in green, ‘tell me your name.’ ‘Laurel.’ The maid let out a little gasp. ‘So you’re the one who caught Oboi! You’re the Emperor’s favourite.’韦小宝微笑道:“不敢!”他在太后寝殿中和这宫女匆匆朝相,当时无暇细看,依稀觉得她已有四十来岁,说道:“姊姊,你又怎么称呼?” Trinket smiled modestly. He had hardly had a chance to study this maid until now. He reckoned she must be about forty years old. ‘And what is your name?’ he asked.

那宫女微一迟疑,道:“你我祸福与共,那也不用瞒你。我姓陶,宫中便叫我陶宫娥。你在太后的床下干什么?” She hesitated. ‘Fate has brought us together. Why should I deceive you? My name is Tao. In the Palace they call me Tao Gong-e. Tell me, what were you doing under the Empress Dowager’s bed?’韦小宝随口胡诌:“我是奉皇帝圣旨,来捉太后的奸!” ‘His Majesty sent me to catch Her Majesty with her lover!’ Trinket was never short of answers.

陶宫娥微微一惊,问道:“皇上知道这宫女是男人?”韦小宝道:“皇上知道一点儿因头,不过也不太确实。” Tao gave a surprised smile. ‘Did His Majesty know that the maid was a man?’ ‘He knew something was going on, but not the whole story.’陶宫娥道:“我……我杀死了太后,这件事转眼便闹得天翻地覆,闭了宫门大搜。我可得立即出宫。桂公公,咱们后会有期。” ‘Well, I’ve killed her now,’ said Tao. ‘When they find out, all hell will break loose. They’ll close the Palace gates and launch a big search. I must try to get away while I can. Goong-goong, we will meet again some day.’韦小宝心想:“老婊子到了阴世去做婊子,我在宫里倒太平无事了,可是闭宫大搜,方沐两个姑娘却非糟糕不可,那便如何是好?”灵机一动,说道:“陶姊姊,我倒有个法子,我立即去禀告皇上,说道亲眼看见太后是给那个假宫女杀死的,假宫女则是太后杀的,他两人斗了个同归于尽。反正太后已经死无对证,你也不用逃出宫去了。”陶宫娥沉吟片刻,道:“这计策倒也使得,但那个太监,却又是谁杀的?”韦小宝道:“我说也是那个假宫女杀的。”陶宫娥道:“桂公公,这件事可十分危险,皇上虽然喜欢你,多半也要杀了你灭口。”韦小宝打个寒噤,问道:“皇上也要杀我,那为什么?”陶宫娥道:“他母亲跟人有苟且之事,倘若泄漏了一点风声出去,你叫皇上置身何地?就算你守口如瓶,皇上每次见到你,总不免心中有愧,迟早非杀了你不可。”韦小宝惊道:“他……他这样毒辣?”觉得陶宫娥这话毕竟不错,这些事可千万不能跟皇帝说。便在此时,南方传来几声锣响,跟着四面八方都响起了锣声,那是宫中失火或是有警的紧急讯号,全宫侍卫、太监立即出动。Even as she said this, they could hear the beginnings of a hue and cry, with drums and gongs sounding throughout the Palace.陶宫娥道:“咱们逃不出去了。你假装去帮着搜捕刺客,我自己回屋去睡觉。” ‘It’s too late to escape. You go and pretend to join the search. I’ll return to my room and go to bed.’伸出左臂,抱住他腰,又带着他疾奔,向西奔到英华殿之侧,将他放下,轻声道:“小心!”一转身便隐在墙角之后。So saying, she picked Trinket up again and flew with him through the Palace grounds, turning past the Hall of Heroic Splendour, and westwards. Then she put him down. ‘Take care!’ She set off again and was soon lost to sight.

韦小宝记挂着方怡和沐剑屏,急忙奔向她二人藏身之所。耳听得锣声越响越急,跟着人声喧哗,他没命价奔进那间屋子,The drums and gongs grew louder and louder, and voices could be heard shouting from all over the Palace. Trinket feared for the safety of the Little Countess and Fang Yi, and hurried back to the room where he had left them hiding.叫道:“是我!”方沐二女早已吓得脸无血色。沐剑屏道:“干么打锣?是来捉拿我们吗?”韦小宝道:“不是。老婊子死了!括括叫,别别跳。还是回到我屋里比较稳当。” ‘It’s me!’ he called out from the door. The two girls were scared out of their wits. ‘What’s happening? Have they come to get us?’ whimpered the Little Countess. ‘No,’ replied Trinket. The Old Whore is dead! It’s a madhouse out there! I’ll be glad to get back safe and sound to my own room!’沐剑屏道:“回到你屋里,我们……我们杀了人……”韦小宝道:“不用怕,他们不知道的,快走!”俯身扶起方怡,左手提了包袱,向外冲出。’To your own room? But. . . we’ve killed two people there!’ cried the Little Countess. ‘Don’t be afraid. Nobody knows anything about that. Let’s go!’ He lifted Fang Yi onto his back, took his bundle in his left hand, and set off.

三人跌跌撞撞的奔了一会,只见斜刺里几名侍卫奔来。为首侍卫高举火把,喝问:“什么人?”韦小宝叫道:“是我,They went stumbling along, and soon ran into a group of guards. Their leader held up his torch, and cried out: ‘Who goes there?’ ‘It’s me! Laurel Goong-goong!’ called out Trinket.你们赶快去保护皇上。是走了水吗?”那人认得韦小宝,忙将火把交给旁人,双手垂下,恭恭敬敬的道:“桂公公,听说慈宁宫出了事。” ‘You’d better hurry to the Emperor’s room. What’s happened?’ The guard recognized Trinket and, handing the torch to one of his comrades, fell humbly to his knees. ‘Laurel Goong-goong, there’s been some trouble in the Empress Dowager’s Palace.’韦小宝道:“好,你们先去,我随后便来。”那侍卫躬身道:“是!”带领众人而去。沐剑屏道:“他们似乎很怕你呢,刚才我还道要糟。”说着连拍胸口。’You’d better be off then. I’ll be along later.’ The guard bowed and hurried away with his men.韦小宝想说句笑话,吹几句牛,但挂念着太后被杀之事闹了出来,不知将有何等后果,心慌意乱之下,什么笑话也说不出口。路上又遇到了一批侍卫,这才回到自己住处,好在方怡和沐剑屏早已换成太监装束,众侍卫群相慌乱,谁也没加留意。Luckily the girls were dressed as eunuchs, and no one had paid them any attention even though Fang Yi was slung over Trinket’s shoulder.韦小宝道:“你们便耽在这里,千万别换装束。”将包袱放入衣箱,出屋后,将门上了锁,快步奔向乾清宫康熙的寝殿。’You two stay hidden here,’ said Trinket, when they finally reached his apartment. ‘Whatever you do, don’t change out of those clothes.’ He put his bundle away in a chest, and hurried out, locking the door behind him. He then made his way towards the Emperor’s sleeping quarters, in the Hall of Heavenly Purity.

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