The Deer And The Cauldron 16

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The Deer And The Cauldron 16
第十六回 粉麝余香衔语燕 珮环新鬼泣啼乌

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韦小宝在马车中合眼睡了一觉。傍晚时分,忽听得马蹄声响,一乘马自后疾驰而来,奔到近处,听得一个男人大声喝道:“赶车的,车里坐的可是个小孩?”韦小宝认得是刘一舟的声音,不待车夫回答,便从车中探头出来,笑道:“刘大哥,你是找我吗?”
Trinket dozed off as the cart rumbled along. Evening was drawing on, when he heard the sound of galloping hooves, and a horse pulled up alongside him. He heard a voice hailing the driver: ‘Hey, you there! Have you got a boy in your cart?’ Trinket recognized the voice as Liu Yizhou’s. He poked his head out of the cart. ‘Brother Liu!’ he cried amiably. ‘Are you looking for me?’

只见刘一舟满头大汗,脸上都是尘土。他一见韦小宝,叫道:“好,我终于赶到你啦!”纵马绕到车前,喝道:“滚下来!”韦小宝见他神色不善,吃了一惊,问道:“刘大哥,我什么事得罪了你,惹你生气?”
He could see that Liu’s face was streaked with sweat and dirt. ‘I’ve found you at last!’ cried Liu, and wheeled his horse round in front of the cart. ‘Get down here at once!’ he shouted, in a tone that was far from friendly. ‘Brother Liu,’ returned Trinket, greatly taken aback, ‘what have I done wrong? Why are you angry with me?’

刘一舟手中马鞭挥出,向大车前的骡子头上用力抽去。骡子吃痛大叫,人立起来,大车后仰,车夫险些摔将下来。那车夫喝道:“青天白日的,见了鬼么?干么发横?”刘一舟喝道:“老子就是要发横!”马鞭再挥,卷住了那车夫的鞭子,一拉之下,将他摔在地上,跟着挥鞭抽击,抽一鞭,骂一声:“老子就是要发横!老子就是要发横!”那车夫挣扎着爬不起来,不住口爷爷奶奶的乱叫乱骂。刘一舟的鞭子越打越重,一鞭下去,鲜血就溅了开来。
Liu cracked his whip violently across the head of the mule pulling Trinket’s cart. The creature let out a cry of pain, and reared on its hind legs. The cart tipped backwards and the driver, who was almost thrown to the ground, cried irately: ‘What are you doing that for?’ ‘Because I want to!’ cried Liu hysterically. He cracked his whip again, and this time coiled it around the driver’s whip and hauled him onto the ground. ‘Because I feel like it!’ The driver scrambled to his feet, screaming and yelping. Liu’s whip had drawn blood.

韦小宝惊得呆了,心想:“这车夫跟他无冤无仇,他这般狠打,自是冲着我来了。老子不是他对手,待他打完了车夫,多半也会这样打我,那可大事不妙。”从靴筒中拔出匕首,在骡子屁股上轻轻戳了一下。骡子吃痛受惊,发足狂奔,拉着大车沿大路急奔。刘一舟舍了车夫,拍马赶来,叫道:“好小子,有种的就别走!”韦小宝从车中探头出来,叫道:“好小子,有种的就别追!”
Trinket reacted quickly to the danger presented by this maniac, who had no quarrel with the driver and would doubtless turn on him in a moment or two—even more viciously. He pulled his dagger from his boot and gave the mule a quick stab in the rump. The animal responded by bolting down the road, dragging the cart along with it. Liu abandoned the driver and galloped after the cart. ‘Stay and fight, you little brat—if you’ve got the guts!’ Trinket poked his head out of the cart: : ‘Stop chasing me, you little brat—if you’ve got the guts!’

刘一舟出力鞭马,急驰赶来。骡子奔得虽然甚快,毕竟拖了一辆大车,奔得一阵,刘一舟越追越近。韦小宝想将匕首向刘一舟掷去,但想多半掷不中,反而失了防身利器。他胡乱吆喝,急催骡子快奔,突然间耳边劲风过去,右脸上热辣辣的一痛,已给打了一鞭。他急忙缩头入车,从车帐缝里见到刘一舟的马头已挨到车旁,只消再奔得几步,刘一舟便能跃上车来,情急智生,探手入怀,摸出一锭银子,用力掷出,正中那马左眼。
Liu whipped his horse on, and was soon close behind the mule and cart. Trinket thought of hurling his dagger at Liu, but was afraid of missing and of losing his precious weapon. He urged the mule on for all he was worth. The next moment, he felt a sudden sting on his cheek. It was Liu’s whip. He ducked back inside the cart. From between the curtains he could see Liu’s horse pulling closer and closer. Another moment and Liu would be able to jump onto the cart. In the heat of the moment Trinket reached inside his gown and took out a lump of silver, which he hurled at Liu’s horse, catching it on the left eye.

那马左眼鲜血迸流,眼珠碎裂,登时瞎了,斜刺里向山坡上奔去。刘一舟急忙勒缰,那马痛得厉害,几个虎跳,将刘一舟颠下马背。他一个打滚,随即站起,那马已穿入林中,嘶叫连声,奔得远了。韦小宝哈哈大笑,叫道:“刘大哥,你不会骑马,我劝你去捉只乌龟来骑骑罢!”刘一舟大怒,提气急奔,向大车追来。韦小宝吓了一跳,急催骡子快奔,回头瞧刘一舟时,见他虽与大车相距已有二三十丈,但迈开大步,不停的追来,要抛脱他倒也不易,当下匕首探出,在骡子臀上又是轻轻一戳。岂知这次却不灵了,骡子跳了几下,忽然转过头来,向刘一舟奔去。
The beast was blinded instantly, and went careering off down the slope at the side, blood pouring from its wounded eye. Liu pulled hard on the reins, but his horse responded by bucking savagely and throwing him to the ground. Liu scrambled to his feet. By the time he started whistling and calling, the horse had vanished into the trees. Trinket burst out laughing. ‘Brother Liu, not much of a rider, are you! Try riding a turtle instead!’ Liu ran huffing and puffing after the cart. Trinket urged his mule on. Looking back, he saw that although Liu was now on foot, he was still drawing closer. It would be hard to throw him off. He prodded the mule again with his dagger, but this time it failed to have the desired effect. Instead the beast stamped its hooves once or twice, turned about, and began heading straight for Liu.

韦小宝大叫:“不对,不对!你这畜生吃里扒外,要老子的好看!”用力拉缰,但骡子发了性,却哪里拉得住?韦小宝见情势不妙,忙从车中跃出,奔入道旁林中。刘一舟一个箭步窜上,左手前探,已抓住他后领。韦小宝右手匕首向后刺出。刘一舟右手顺着他手臂向下一勒,一招“行云流水”,已抓住了他手腕,随即拗转他手臂,匕首剑头对住他咽喉,喝道:“小贼,你还敢倔强?”左手啪啪两下,打了他两个耳光。韦小宝手腕奇痛,喉头凉飕飕的,知道自己这柄匕首削铁如泥,割喉咙如切豆腐,忙嬉皮笑脸的道:“刘大哥,有话好说,大家是自己人,为什么动粗?”
‘No! No!’ yelled Trinket. ‘Wrong way!’ But the more he pulled on the reins, the more the mule hurtled towards Liu. Finally, in despair, Trinket bailed out, and ran for cover in the trees. In a matter of seconds Liu was after him, and had him pinned to the ground. Trinket had his dagger in his right hand, and Liu lost no time in seizing him by the wrist and twisting his arm round (Wandering Clouds and Flowing Water) so that the edge of Trinket’s dagger was pressed against his throat. Trinket knew how sharp the dagger was. It would slice through his neck as if it were the softest bean curd. ‘Dear friend,’ he pleaded, with his most fetching smile, ‘please tell me what all this is about! Surely there’s no need to be so rough! After all, we’re almost brothers!’

刘一舟一口唾沫吐在他脸上,说道:“呸,谁认你是自己人?你……你……你这小贼,竟敢在皇宫里花言巧语,骗我方师妹,又……又跟她睡在一床,这……这……我……我……非杀了你不可……”额头青筋凸起,眼中如要喷出火来,左手握拳,对准了韦小宝面门。韦小宝这才明白,他如此发火,原来是为了方怡,只不知他怎生得知?眼前局面千钧一发,他火气稍大,手上多使半分劲,自己咽喉上便多个窟窿,笑道:“方姑娘是你心上人,我如何敢对她无礼?方姑娘心中,就只有你一个。她从早到晚,只是想你。”刘一舟火气立降,问道:“你怎么知道?”将匕首缩后数寸。韦小宝道:“只因她求我救你,我才送你出宫,她一得知你脱险,可不知道有多喜欢。”
Liu spat in his face. ‘You, my brother? You . . . you sordid little brat! All that sweet-talking you did in the Palace, with my girl! And then you got into bed with her. . . I’ll kill you!’ His brow was working with rage, his eyes were blazing, his left fist was clenched and aimed at Trinket’s forehead. So he’d found out all about Fang Yi, Trinket thought to himself. But how? However it had happened, Liu was in an extremely dangerous mood, and he was holding that dagger far too close for comfort. The slightest pressure and there would be a nasty hole in Trinket’s throat.
‘Can’t you see that you’re the one Miss Fang loves,’ he said, trying to smile without moving his face any more than was absolutely necessary. ‘I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything like that to her. She wouldn’t stop talking about you day and night!’ At these words Liu’s rage visibly abated. ‘How do you know?’ Trinket felt the knife-edge move an inch or so away from his throat. ‘She begged me to rescue you, and when I managed to get you out, she was overjoyed. You should have seen her!’

刘一舟忽又发怒,咬牙说道:“你这小狗蛋,老子可不领你的情!你救我也好,不救我也好,为什么骗得我方师妹答应嫁……嫁你做老婆?”匕首前挺数寸。韦小宝道:“咦!哪有这种事?你听谁说的?方姑娘这般羞花闭月的美人儿,只有嫁你这等又英俊、又了得的英雄,这才相配哪!”刘一舟火气又降了三分,将匕首又缩后了数寸,说道:“你还想赖?方师妹答应嫁你做老婆,是不是?”韦小宝哈哈大笑。
Suddenly Liu flared up again. ‘I don’t owe you anything, you little runt! Why did you cheat my sister-in-arms into . . . agreeing to marry you?’ ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about! Who told you that? A beautiful babe like her could only marry someone handsome and brave like you . . .’ Again Liu’s rage abated, again the blade moved an inch or two away. ‘But do you deny it? Did she agree to marry you or didn’t she?’ Trinket gave a little laugh.

刘一舟道:“有什么好笑?”韦小宝笑道:“刘大哥,我问你,做太监的人能不能娶老婆?”刘一舟凭着一股怒气,急赶而来,一直没去想韦小宝是个太监,而太监决不能娶妻,这一下经韦小宝一言提醒,登时心花怒放,忍不住也笑了出来,却不放开他手腕,问道:“那你为什么骗我方师妹,要她嫁你做老婆?”韦小宝道:“这句话你从哪儿听来的?”刘一舟道:“我亲耳听到方师妹跟小郡主说的,难道有假?”韦小宝道:“是她们二人自己说呢,还是跟你说?”刘一舟微一迟疑,道:“是她们二人说的。”
‘What’s so funny?’ ‘Brother Liu,’ said Trinket, ‘just think for a moment: a eunuch, with a wife?’ Liu had come chasing after Trinket in a mad fit of rage. He had not even stopped to consider the matter calmly. Trinket’s logic seemed to brighten him up no end. He laughed, but still held tightly onto Trinket’s wrist. ‘So why did you make her agree to it then?’ he asked. ‘Who told you I did?’ ‘I heard them talking about it together, her and the Little Countess.’

Something Wrong with the Biscuits

原来徐天川同方怡、沐剑屏二人前赴石家庄,行出不远,便和吴立身、敖彪、刘一舟三人相遇。吴立身等三人在清宫中身受酷刑,虽未伤到筋骨,但全身给打得皮破肉绽,坐了大车,也要到石家庄去养伤,道上相逢,自有一番欢喜。但方怡对待刘一舟的神情却和往日大不相同,除了见面时叫一声“刘师哥”,此后便十分冷淡,对他再也不瞅不睬。刘一舟几次三番要拉她到一旁,说几句知心话儿,方怡总是陪着沐剑屏不肯离开。刘一舟又急又恼,逼得紧了。方怡道:“刘师哥,从今以后,咱二人只是师兄妹的情份,除此之外,什么也不用提,也不用想。”
It transpired that on their way south to Shijiazhuang, old Xu and the two girls had run into Shaker Wu, his disciple Ao Biao (the Blue Tiger), and (Pale-Face) Liu. The three men were planning to rest awhile and recover from the beatings and torture they had suffered during their detention in the Palace. They were delighted to see the Little Countess and Fang Yi. But Liu soon noticed a change in the way Fang behaved towards him. She hardly even looked at him, and seemed strangely cold. Whenever he tried to draw her aside, so that they could have a moment together, she seemed to cling to the Little Countess. Liu was greatly put out by this. He questioned her about it, and finally she said: ‘From this day forth, we are obliged to treat each other as brother- and sister-in-arms. It must go no further than that.’

刘一舟一惊,问道:“那……那为甚么?”方怡冷冷的道:“不为什么。”刘一舟拉住她手,急道:“师妹,你……”方怡用力一甩,挣脱了他手,喝道:“请尊重些!”
Her words had a devastating effect on Liu. ‘What do you mean? Why?’ There isn’t a reason,’ she said coldly. Liu took hold of her hand and pleaded with her: ‘Sister-in-arms, you . . .’ She pushed him away and cried: ‘Show me a little respect, please!’

刘一舟讨了个老大没趣,这一晚在客店之中,翻来覆去的难以安枕,心情激荡,悄悄爬起,来到方怡和沐剑屏所住店房的窗下,果然听得二人在低声说话:沐剑屏道:“你这样对待刘师哥,岂不令他好生伤心?”方怡道:“那有什么法子?他早些伤心,早些忘了我,就早些不伤心了。”
Poor Liu retired to his room in the inn that night in a state of utter desolation. He tossed and turned, but he was much too distraught to sleep. Finally he got up and went outside. He happened to find himself outside the window of the room where Fang Yi and the Little Countess were staying. They were talking. This was what he heard: ‘Why are you doing this to your brother-in-arms? You’ll break his heart!’ The sooner it breaks, the sooner he’ll get over me and feel no pain.’

沐剑屏道:“你真的决意要嫁……嫁给韦小宝这小孩子?他这么小,你能做他老婆?”方怡道:“你自己想嫁给这小猴儿,因此劝我对师哥好,是不是?”沐剑屏急道:“不,不是的!那么你快去嫁给韦大哥好了。”方怡叹了口气,道:“我发过誓,赌过咒的,难道你忘记了?那天我说道:‘皇天在上,后土在下,桂公公如能救刘一舟平安脱险,小女子方怡便嫁了公公为妻,一生对丈夫贞忠不贰,若有二心,教我万劫不得超生。’我又说过:‘小郡主便是见证。’我不会忘记,你也不会忘记。”沐剑屏道:“这话当然说过的,不过我看那……看他只是闹着玩,并不当真。”方怡道:“他当真也好,当假也好。可是咱们做女子的,既然已亲口将终身许了给他,那便决无反悔,自须从一而终。何况……何况……”沐剑屏道:“何况什么?”方怡道:“我仔仔细细想过了,就算说过的话可以抵赖,可是他……他曾跟我们二人同床而卧,同被而眠……”沐剑屏咭的一声笑,说道:“韦大哥当真顽皮得紧,他还说《英烈传》上有这样一回书的,叫甚么‘沐王爷三箭定云南,桂公公双手抱佳人’,师姊,他可真的抱了你哪,还香了你的脸呢!”方怡叹了口气,不再说话。
‘You’re not really thinking of marrying that. . . young Trinket, are you?’ ‘Why, do you fancy him for yourself?’ ‘Of course not!’ Fang Yi sighed. ‘I swore an oath, by Heaven and Earth, and you were my witness.’ ‘I know, but I never thought he was being serious!’ ‘Whether he was serious or not, when a girl promises herself to a man . . . And besides . . .’ ‘Besides what?’ ‘Well, both of us have slept with him in the same bed, under the same covers . . .’ The Little Countess stifled a laugh. ‘He certainly is a mischievous little imp, isn’t he! He put his arms round you, and even kissed you . . .’ Fang Yi said nothing, and only sighed.

刘一舟在窗外只听得五内如焚,天旋地转,立足不定。只听得方怡又道:“其实,他年纪虽小,说话油腔滑调,待咱们二人倒也当真不坏。这次分手之后,不知什么时候能再相会。”沐剑屏又是咭一声笑,低声道:“师姊,你在想念他啦!”方怡道:“想他便想他,又怎么了?”沐剑屏道:“是啊,我也想着他。我几次邀他,要他跟咱们同去石家庄,他总是说身有要事。师姊,你说这是真的,还是假的?”方怡道:“在饭馆中打尖之时,我曾听得他跟车夫闲谈,问起到山西的路程。看来他是要去山西。”沐剑屏道:“他年纪这样小,一个人去山西,路上要是遇到歹人,可怎么办?”方怡叹了口气,道:“我本想跟徐老爷子说,不用护送我们,还是护送他的好,可是徐老爷子一定不会肯的。”沐剑屏道:“师姊。我……我想……”方怡道:“什么?”沐剑屏叹了口气,道:“没什么。”方怡道:“可惜咱们二人身上都是有伤,否则的话,便陪他一起去山西。现下跟吴师叔、刘师哥他们遇上了,咱们便不能去找他了。”刘一舟听后到这里,头脑中一阵晕眩,砰的一声,额头撞上了窗格。方怡和沐剑屏齐声惊问:“什么?”
Outside the window, Liu Yizhou was fit to burst. It was all he could do to remain standing upright. ‘He may be young,’ Fang Yi went on, ‘but he has such a funny way with him! And he was good to us!’ The Little Countess laughed. ‘Why, I do believe you miss him!’ ‘So, what if I do!’ At this point Liu keeled over and came crashing down on the window-frame. ‘What was that?’ cried the two girls.

刘一舟妒火中烧,便如发了狂一般,只想:“我去杀了这小子,我去杀了这小子!”抢到前院,牵了一匹马,打开客店大门,上马疾奔。他想韦小宝既去山西,便向西行。奔到天明,问明了去山西的路程,沿大道追将下来,每见到有单行的大车,便问:“车里坐的可是个小孩?”
Liu now had one thought only, to catch up with Trinket on his journey west and kill him! He found a horse outside the inn and galloped off, asking every cart-driver he passed if he had seen a boy on the road.

韦小宝听刘一舟说,此中情由是听得小郡主跟方怡说话而知,料想必是偷听得来,所知有限,笑道:“刘大哥,你可上了你师妹的大当啦。”刘一舟道:“上了什么当?”韦小宝道:“方姑娘跟我说,她要好好的气你一气,因为她尽心竭力的救你,可是你半点也不将她放在心上。”刘一舟急道:“哪……哪有此事?我怎不将她放在心上?”韦小宝道:“你送过她一根银钗,是吗?银钗头上有一朵梅花的。”刘一舟道:“是,是啊!你怎知道?”韦小宝道:“她在宫中混战之时,将银钗掉了,急得什么似的,说道这是她心上人给的东西,说什么也不能掉了,就是拚了性命不要,也要去找回来。”刘一舟一呆,沉吟道:“她……她待我这么好?”韦小宝道:“当然啦,那难道还有假的?”刘一舟问:“后来怎样?”韦小宝道:“你这样扭住了,我痛得要命,怎能说话?”刘一舟道:“好罢!”他听得方怡对待自己如此情深,怒火已消了大半,又想反正这孩子逃不掉自己掌心,松开了手,又问:“后来怎样?”韦小宝给他握得一条胳臂又痛又麻,慢慢将匕首插入靴筒,见手腕上红红的肿起了一圈手指印,说道:“沐王府的人就爱抓人手腕,你这样,白寒枫也这样。沐家拳中这一招‘龟抓手’,倒也了得。”他将“龟抓手”这个“龟”字说得甚是含糊,刘一舟没听明白,也不加理会,又问:“方师妹失了我给她的那根银钗,后来怎样?”韦小宝道:“我给你的乌龟爪子抓得气也喘不过来,须得歇一歇再能说话。总而言之,你娶不娶得到方姑娘做老婆,这可有老大干系。”

这次刘一舟听明白了“乌龟爪子”四字。但他恼怒的,只是韦小宝骗得方怡答应嫁他,至于口头上给他占些便宜,却也并不在乎,又听得他说:“你娶不娶得到方姑娘做老婆,这可有老大干系”,自是十分关心,问道:“你快说,别拖拖拉拉的了。”韦小宝道:“总得坐了下来,慢慢歇一会,才有力气说话。”刘一舟无法,只得跟着他来到树林边的一株大树下,见他在树根上坐了,当即并肩坐在他身畔。

韦小宝叹了口气,道:“可惜,可惜。”刘一舟立即担心,忙问:“可惜甚么?”韦小宝道:“可惜你师妹不在这里,否则她如能和你并肩而坐在这里,跟你谈情说爱,打情骂俏,她心中才真的喜欢了。”刘一舟大乐,忍不住笑了出来,问道:“你怎么知道?”

韦小宝道:“我听她亲口说过的。那天她掉了银钗,冒着性命危险,冲过了清宫侍卫把守的三道关口,虽然身受重伤,还是杀了三名清宫侍卫,将这根银钗找了回来。我说:‘方姑娘啊,你忒也笨了,一根银钗,值得几钱?我送一千两银子给你,这种钗子,咱们一口气去打造它三四千只。你每天头上插十只,天天不同,一年三百六十日,天天插的还都是新钗子。’方姑娘说:‘你这小孩子家懂得什么。这是我那亲亲刘师哥送给我的,你送给我一千只一万只,就算是黄金钗儿、珍珠钗儿,又哪及得上我亲亲刘师哥给我的一只银钗、铜钗、铁钗?’刘大哥,你说这方姑娘可不是挺胡涂么?”

刘一舟听了这番话,只笑得口也合不拢来,问道:“怎么……怎么她半夜里跟小郡主说话,说的又是另一套?”韦小宝道:“你半夜三更的,在她们房外偷听说话,是不是?”刘一舟脸上微微一红,道:“也不是偷听,我夜里起身小便,刚好听见。”韦小宝道:“刘大哥,这可是你的不是了。你什么地方不好小便,怎地到方姑娘窗下去小便,那可不臭气冲天,熏坏了两位羞花闭月的姑娘?”刘一舟道:“是,是!后来我方师妹怎么说?”

Trinket heard all this from Liu’s own lips. He succeeded, by dint of various references to how much Fang Yi adored Liu, and by fabricating an account of the untold dangers she had encountered to retrieve the hairpin given her by her beloved, in inducing the gullible Liu to loosen his grip; and what with one thing and another, a few minutes later the two of them were sitting down side by side beneath a large tree by the roadside, Trinket’s wrists very blue and swollen. ‘You Mu folk certainly know how to squeeze!’ commented Trinket wryly. That younger Bo brother, Maple, did exactly the same thing to me once. So, how come you were outside their window last night and heard what they were saying? What were you doing?’ ‘Actually, I just went outside to have a pee,’ confessed Liu. ‘That’s a bit low, isn’t it? Stinking out the fair maids’ dwelling like that, when you had the whole world to choose from!’ Tell me some more about Miss Fang,’ begged Liu.

韦小宝道:“我肚子饿得很,没力气说话,你快去买些东西给我吃。我吃得饱饱地,你方师妹那些教人听了肉麻之极的话,我才说得出口。”他只盼把刘一舟骗到市镇之上,就可在人丛中溜走脱身。刘一舟道:“什么教人听了肉麻之极?方师妹正经得很,从来不说肉麻的话。”韦小宝道:“好罢,她正经得很,从来不说肉麻的话。她说:‘我那亲亲刘师哥!’又说:‘我那个又体贴、又漂亮的刘师哥’,他妈的,你听了不肉麻,我可越听越是难为情。哼,也不害臊,说这种话。”刘一舟心花怒放,却道:“不会罢?方师妹怎会说这种话?”韦小宝道:“好,好!算是我错了。刘大哥,我要去找东西吃,失陪了。”说着站起身来。
‘I’m starving,’ protested Trinket. ‘Go and get me something to eat, something nice, then I might have the strength to tell you some more of Sister Fang’s soppy, sickening, sweet-nothings kind of talk . . .’ Trinket was, needless to say, plotting his getaway. ‘What do you mean, soppy and sickening? She never talks like that.’ ‘Oh really? What about stuff like this then: “My darling brother-in-arms Liu, my sweetest, dearest, most adorable, most handsome brother-in-arms . . .” Maybe you don’t find that kind of thing sickening, but it makes me want to puke! Tamardy! I’d be dead embarrassed if I ever caught myself talking like that!’ Liu was, of course, ecstatic. Trinket repeated his demands for food. ‘If you won’t go and get some, I will!’ he announced.

刘一舟正听得心痒难搔,如何肯让他走,忙在他肩头轻轻一按,道:“韦兄弟,你别忙走!我这里带得有几件作干粮的薄饼,你先吃了,说完话后,到前面镇上,我再好好请你喝酒吃面,还得跟你赔不是。”说着打开背上包裹,取了几张薄饼出来。韦小宝接了一张薄饼,撕了一片,在口中嚼了几下,说道:“这饼咸不咸,酸不酸的,算什么玩意儿?你到吃给我看看。”将那缺了一角的薄饼还给他。刘一舟道:“这饼硬了,味道自然不大好,咱们对付着充充饥再说。”说着将饼撕下一片来吃了。韦小宝道:“这几张不知怎样?”将几张薄饼翻来翻去的挑选,翻了几翻,说道:“他妈的尿急,小便了再来吃。”走到一棵大树边,转过了身子,拉开裤子撒尿。刘一舟目不转睛的瞧着他,怕他突然拔足逃走。韦小宝小便后,回过来坐在刘一舟身畔,又将几张薄饼翻来翻去,终于挑了一张,撕开来吃。刘一舟追赶了大半天,肚子早已饿了,拿了一张薄饼也吃,一面吃,一面说道:“难道方师妹跟小郡主这么说,是故意怄我来着?”韦小宝道:“我又不是你方师妹肚子里的蛔虫,怎么知道她的心思?你是她的亲亲好师哥,怎么你不知道,反而问我?”刘一舟道:“好啦!刚才是我鲁莽,得罪了你,你可别卖关子啦!”韦小宝道:“既这么说,我跟你说真心话罢。你方师妹十分美貌,我倘若不是太监,原想娶她做老婆的。不过就算我不娶她,只怕也轮不到你。”刘一舟急问:“为什么?为什么?”韦小宝道:“不用性急,再吃一张薄饼,我慢慢跟你说。”刘一舟道:“他妈的,你说话总是吞吞吐吐,吊人胃口……”说到这里,忽然身子晃了一晃。
‘No,’ cried Liu, anxious to hear more recitals of Fang Yi’s adoration. ‘I’ve got some biscuits with me. Have some of these for now, and later when we get to town I’ll treat you to a proper meal.’ He handed Trinket a biscuit. Trinket complained that it tasted peculiar, and rummaged around in Liu’s bag for another one. He broke off a piece. Tamardy, I’m dying for a piss!’ Trinket went behind a tree, opened his trousers, and began peeing on the ground. When he came back, he rummaged around again among the biscuits. By now Liu was feeling hungry himself, and started munching biscuits too. ‘You know,’ Trinket said to Liu, ‘that Fang girl is a real good-looker. If I wasn’t a eunuch, I wouldn’t mind marrying her myself. Anyway, I’m afraid you never will.’ ‘What do you mean?’ cried Liu. ‘Calm down. Have another biscuit.’ ‘Tamardy! You’re…’ As he spoke, Liu suddenly began to feel faint.

韦小宝道:“怎么?不舒服么?这饼子只怕不大干净。”刘一舟道:“什么?”站起身来,摇摇摆摆的转了个圈子,突然摔倒在地。韦小宝哈哈大笑,在他屁股上踢了一脚,说道:“咦!你的薄饼里,怎么会有蒙汗药?这可真奇怪之极了。”刘一舟唔了一声,已是人事不知。
‘What’s the matter?’ asked Trinket. ‘Aren’t you feeling well? Something wrong with the biscuits?’ Liu rose to his feet, wobbled, and came crashing to the ground. Trinket burst out laughing, and gave him a good kick on the buttocks. ‘Seems your biscuits had a little something in them, my friend!’ Liu gasped, and then lost consciousness.

韦小宝又赐了两脚,见他全然不动,于是解下他腰带裤带,将他双足牢牢绑住,又把他双手反绑了。见大树旁有块石头,用力翻开,露出一洞,下面是一堆乱石,将乱石一块块搬出,挖了个四尺来深的土洞,笑道:“老子今日活埋了你。”
Trinket gave him a couple more l三百六十刀,方消我心头之恨!”提起他辫子,一刀割去。那匕首锋利无比,嗤的一声,便将辫子切断,再在他头顶来回推动,片刻之间,头发纷落,已剃成个秃头。韦小宝骂道:“死贼秃,老子一见和尚便生气,非杀不可!”
‘Not till I’ve had three hundred and sixty slices at your tamardy rat-face!’ He took hold of Liu’s pigtail and sliced it clean off. Then he used the blade as a razor, and shaved Liu’s scalp clean. ‘Filthy bald arse-hole of a monk! Just the sight of a monk like you makes me want to kill!’

刘一舟陪笑道:“韦香主,在下不是和尚。”韦小宝骂道:“你他妈的不是和尚,干么剃光了头皮,前来蒙骗老爷?”刘一舟心道:“明明是你剃光了我头发,怎能怪我?”但性命在他掌握之中,不敢跟他争论,只得陪笑道:“千错万错,都是小人不是,韦香主大人大量,别放在心上。”韦小宝道:“好,那么我问你,方怡方姑娘是谁的老婆?”刘一舟道:“这个……这个……”
Liu sniggered nervously. ‘But Lodge Master, I’m not a monk . . .’ Then why shave your tamardy head, arse-hole!’ Liu was in no position to argue. ‘I did wrong! Forgive me, Lodge Master, forgive me . . .’ ‘Then answer this question,’ said Trinket. ‘Whose wife is Miss Fang?’ ‘I… I…’

韦小宝大声道:“什么这个那个?快说!”提起匕首,在他脸上挥来挥去。刘一舟心想好汉不吃眼前亏,这小鬼是个太监,让他占些口头上便宜便了,否则他真的一剑挥来,自己少了个鼻子或是耳朵,那可槽糕之极,忙道:“她……她自然是韦香主……是韦香主你的夫人。”韦小宝哈哈一笑,说道:“她,她是谁?你说得明白些。老子可听不得和尚们含含糊糊的说话。”刘一舟道:“方怡方师妹,是你韦香主的夫人。”韦小宝道:“咱们可得把话说明白了。你是不是我的朋友?”刘一舟听他口气松动,心中大喜,忙道:“小人本来不敢高攀。韦香主倘苦肯将在下当作朋友,在下……在下自然是求之不得。”
‘Speak up!’ shouted Trinket. He waved the dagger in front of Liu’s face. Liu decided that in the circumstances prudence was definitely the best course of action. This was not the moment for heroics. The boy was only a eunuch after all. He might as well give him the semblance of a victory. He wanted to come out of this with his ears and nose intact. ‘Of course she is your wife, Lodge Master Wei.’ Trinket laughed. ‘She? Come on, I want a name. I can’t hear your monkish mumblings.’ ‘Miss Fang Yi, Miss Fang, my sister-in-arms, is Lodge Master Wei’s Lady Wife…’ ‘Let’s get things straight,’ Trinket continued. ‘Are you my friend?’ Liu thought he saw light at the end of the tunnel. ‘Why, yes!’ he declared joyfully. ‘I mean, I would never have dared to suggest such a thing, but if you are willing to call me your friend, Lodge Master, I consider it a great honour!’

韦小宝道:“我把你当作朋友。江湖上朋友讲义气,是不是?”刘一舟忙道:“是,是。好朋友该当讲义气。”韦小宝道:“朋友妻,不可戏。以后你如再向我老婆贼头贼脑,不三小四,那算什么?你发下一个誓来!”刘一舟暗暗叫苦,心想又上了他的当。韦小宝道:“你不说也不打紧,我早知你鬼鬼祟祟,不怀好意,一心想去调戏勾搭我的老婆。”刘一舟见他又舞动匕首,眼前白光闪闪,忙道:“没有,没有。对韦香主的夫人,在下决计不敢心存歹意。”韦小宝道:“以后你如向方姑娘多瞧上一眼,多说一句话,那便怎样?”刘一舟道:“那……那便天诛地灭。”韦小宝道:“那你便是乌龟王八蛋!”刘一舟苦着脸道:“对,对!”韦小宝道:“甚么对?对你甚么个屁?”将匕首尖直指上他右眼皮。刘一舟道:“以后我如再向方师妹多瞧上一眼,多说一句话,我……我便是乌龟王八蛋!”韦小宝哈哈一笑,道:“既是这样,便饶了你。先在你头上淋一泡尿,这才放你。”说着将匕首插入靴筒,双手去解裤带。突然之间,树林中一个女子声音喝道:“你……你怎可欺人太甚!”
‘I am calling you my friend,’ said Trinket. ‘Now: on River and Lake, friends are bound by honour—am I right?’ ‘Oh yes, absolutely,’ agreed Liu eagerly. ‘Why, friendship means honour!’ ‘And honour means a man never meddles with his friend’s wife, right? So in future, you’re to stop messing around with mine. There’s to be no more nonsense. I want you to swear it’ Liu had walked straight into it. He inwardly cursed himself for being such a fool. He hesitated a moment. But then he saw Trinket’s dagger glinting in front of his eyes. ‘I swear! I will never harbour intentions towards Lodge Master Wei’s wife!’ ‘If you should so much as look at her or speak to her in an improper way, what will become of you?’ ‘May Heaven and Earth punish me!’ ‘And turn you into a turtle!’ ‘Yes! Yes!’ ‘Yes what? Turn you into a what?’ ‘Into a turtle!’
Trinket gave a big laugh. That’s better. Maybe I’ll let you off. But I think I’d better piss on your head first …” He slipped the dagger back down the side of his boot, and undid his trousers. Suddenly a girl’s voice was heard crying from the nearby trees: ‘No! That’s going too far!’The Storm

韦小宝听得是方怡的声音,又惊又喜,转过头去,只见林中走出三个人来,当先一人正是方怡,其后是沐剑屏和徐天川。隔了一会,又走出两人,却是吴立身和敖彪。他五人躲在林中已久,早将韦刘二人的对答听得清清楚楚,眼见韦小宝要在刘一舟头顶撒尿,结下永不可解的深怨,方怡忍不住出声喝止。韦小宝笑道:“原来你们早在这里了,瞧在吴老爷子面上,这泡尿免了罢。”
To Trinket’s surprise and delight, it was Fang Yi. A moment later, she, the Little Countess, and Xu Tianchuan came out of the trees, followed by Shaker Wu and Ao Biao. The five of them had heard Liu Yizhou’s sudden departure during the night, and had followed him. They had been hiding in the trees nearby for quite some time and had heard the entire conversation. Trinket smiled. ‘Out of respect for Mr Wu, I will spare you the humiliation of being pissed on!’

徐天川急忙过去,双手扒开刘一舟身畔的石块泥土,将他抱起,解开绑在他手脚上的腰带。刘一舟羞愧难当,低下头,不敢和众人目光相接。
Old Xu hurried over and excavated Liu from his hole. He hauled him out, and untied the belt which bound him. Liu was overcome with shame and remorse, and hung his head, unable to look any of them in the face.

吴立身铁青了脸,说道:“刘贤侄,咱们的性命是韦香主救的,怎地你恩将仇报,以大欺小,对他又打又骂,又扭他手臂?你师父知道了,会怎么说?”一面说,一面摇头,语气甚是不悦,又道:“咱们在江湖上混,最讲究的便是‘义气’两字,怎么可以争风吃醋,对好朋友动武?忘恩负义,那是连猪狗也不如!”说着呸的一声,在地下吐了口唾沫。他越说越气,又道:“昨晚你半夜里这么火爆霹雳的冲了出来,大伙儿就知道不对,一路上寻来,你将韦香主打得脸颊红肿,又扭住他手臂,用剑尖指着他咽喉,倘若一个失手,竟然伤了他性命,那怎么办?”刘一舟气愤愤的道:“一命抵一命,我还赔他一条性命便是。”

吴立身怒道:“嘿,你倒说得轻松自在,你是什么英雄好汉了?凭你一条命,抵得过人家天地会十大香主之一的韦香主?再说,你这条命是哪来的?还不是韦香主救的?你不感恩图报,人家已经要瞧你不起,居然胆敢向韦香主动手?”刘一舟给韦小宝逼得发誓赌咒,当时命悬人手,不得不然,此刻身得自由,想到这些言语都已给方怡听了去,实是羞愤难当,吴立身虽是师叔,但听他唠唠叨叨的教训个不休,不由得老羞成怒,把心一横,恶狠狠的道:“吴师叔,事情是做下来了,人家姓韦的可没伤到一根寒毛。你老人家瞧着要怎么办,就怎么办罢!”

吴立身跳了起来,指着他脸,叫道:“刘一舟,你对师叔也这般没上没下。你要跟我动手,是不是?”刘一舟道:“我没说,也不是你的对手。”吴立身更加恼怒,厉声道:“倘若你武功胜得过我,那就要动手了,是不是?你在清宫中贪生怕死,一听到要杀头,忙不迭的大声求饶,赶着自报姓名。我顾着柳师哥的脸面,这件事才绝口不提。哼!哼!你不是我弟子,算你运气。”那显然是说,你如是我弟子,早就一刀杀了。刘一舟听他揭破自己在清宫中胆怯求饶的丑态,低下了头,脸色苍白,默不作声。
Shaker Wu gave Liu an angry dressing-down, in the course of which he disclosed to all present Liu’s cowardly behaviour in the Palace, when he had been frightened by the threat of death into betraying his own name. Shaker declared that he was only refraining from punishing Liu out of respect for their mutual Shifu, Iron Dragon. This made Liu all the more ashamed and crestfallen, and he stood there ashen-faced and silent.

韦小宝见自己占足了上风,笑道:“好啦,好啦,吴老爷子,刘大哥跟我大家闹着玩,当不得真。我向你讨个情,过去的事,别跟柳老爷子说。”吴立身道:“韦香主这么吩咐,自当照办。”转头向刘一舟道:“你瞧,人家韦香主毕竟是做大事的,度量何等宽大?”韦小宝向方怡和沐剑屏笑道:“你们怎么也到这里来啦?”
Trinket stepped in and pleaded with Shaker to let bygones be bygones. ‘You see!’ said Shaker Wu. ‘See what a magnanimous person Lodge Master Wei is!’

方怡道:“你过来,我有句话跟你说。”韦小宝笑嘻嘻的走近。刘一舟见方怡当着众人之前对韦小宝如此亲热,手按刀柄,忍不住要拔刀上前拚命。忽听得啪的一声响,韦小宝已吃了记热辣辣的耳光。韦小宝吃了一惊,跳开数步,手按面颊,怒道:“你……你干么打人?”方怡柳眉竖起,涨红了脸,怒道:“你拿我当什么人?你跟刘师哥说什么了?背着人家,拿我这么糟蹋轻贱?”韦小宝道:“我可没说什么不……不好的话。”方怡道:“还说没有呢,我一句句都听见了。你……你……你们两个都不是好人。”又气又急,流下泪来。徐天川心想这是小儿女们胡闹,算不得什么大事,可别又伤了天地会和沐王府的和气,当下哈哈大笑,说道:“韦香主和刘师兄都吃了点小亏,就算是扯了个直。徐老头可饿得狠了,咱们快找饭店,吃喝个痛快。”
‘Come over here,’ said Fang Yi. It was Trinket she was speaking to. There’s something I want to say to you.’ Liu observed this public display of intimacy with uncontrollable jealousy. His hand went to his sword. The next thing he heard was a resounding slap. Trinket jumped back and held his hand to his face. What did you do that for?’ ‘I heard the things you said! How could you!’ Tears of anger and distress were rolling down her cheeks. Xu Tianchuan tried to steer them away from this personal tiff, his main concern being to preserve the harmony between the Triads and the Mu Family. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I think we can consider Lodge Master Wei and Brother Liu’s matter settled. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m hungry! Let’s find somewhere we can have a good meal.’

突然间一阵东北风吹过,半空中飘下一阵黄豆般的雨点来。徐天川抬头看天,道:“十月天时,平白无端的下这阵头雨,可真作怪。”眼见一团团乌云从东北角涌将过来,又道:“这雨只怕不小,咱们得找个地方躲雨。”
A wind had blown up from the north-east, and big drops of rain began falling from the sky. Xu looked up into the heavens. He could see great thunder clouds rolling in. ‘Looks like a storm brewing. Come, we’d better find shelter.’

Shelter

七人沿着大道,向西行去。方怡、沐剑屏伤势未愈,行走不快。那雨越下越大,偏生一路上连一间农舍、一座凉亭也无,过不多时,七人都已全身湿透。韦小宝笑道:“大伙儿慢慢走罢,走得快是落汤鸡,走得慢是落汤鸭,反正都差不多。”七人又行了一会,听得水声,来到一条河边,见溯河而上半里处有座小屋。七人大喜,加快了脚步,行到近处,见那个屋是座东歪西倒的破庙,但总是个避雨之处,虽然破败,却也聊胜于无。庙门早已烂了,到得庙中,触鼻尽是霉气。
The seven of them set off on foot down the highway, in a westerly direction. The two girls had still not fully recovered their strength, and made slow progress. The rain fell ever more heavily, and there was not a dwelling in sight — not a farm, nor even so much as a simple roadside shelter. They were soon soaked to the skin. Presently they heard the sound of rushing water, and came to a river. A few hundred yards upstream stood a small building. They hurried thankfully towards it. As they drew near, they saw that it was a small, and utterly dilapidated, temple. But it was better than nothing. At least it would afford them shelter from the rain. The door had long ago rotted away, and as they entered, a pervading smell of mould and decay assailed their nostrils.

方怡行了这一会,胸口伤处早已十分疼痛,不由得眉头紧蹙,咬住了牙关。徐天川拆了些破桌破椅,生起火来,让各人烤干衣衫。但见天上黑云越聚越浓,雨下得越发大了。徐天川从包裹中取出干粮面饼,分给众人。刘一舟将辫根塞在帽子之中,勉强拖着一条辫子。韦小宝笑吟吟的对他左瞧右瞧。
The walk had exhausted Fang Yi, and she was gritting her teeth to endure the pain from her wound. Old Xu smashed up a few broken pieces of furniture and lit a fire, bidding them all to dry their clothes. It was growing darker and darker, and the rain was now a deluge. Xu produced some dry wheat-cakes from his bag and handed them round. Liu Yizhou stuffed the remains of his pigtail into his hat, and Trinket gave him a scornful look.

沐剑屏笑问韦小宝:“刚才你在刘师哥的薄饼之中,做了什么手脚?”韦小宝瞪眼道:“没有啊,我会做什么手脚?”沐剑屏道:“哼,还不认呢?怎地刘师哥又会中蒙汗药晕倒?”韦小宝道:“他中了蒙汗药么?什么时候?我怎么不知道?我瞧不会罢,他这不是好端端的坐着烤火?”沐剑屏呸了一声,佯嗔道:“就会假痴假呆,不跟你说了。”方怡在一旁坐着,也是满心疑惑。先前刘一舟抓住韦小宝等情状,他们只远远望见,看不真切,后来刘韦二人并排坐在树下说话,他们已蹑手蹑脚的走近,躲在树林里,眼见一张张薄饼都是刘一舟从包裹中取出,他又一直目不转睛地盯着韦小宝,防他逃走,怎么一转眼间,就会昏迷晕倒?韦小宝笑道:“说不定刘师兄有羊吊病,突然发作,人事不知。”刘一舟大怒,霍地站起,指着他喝道:“你……你这小……”方怡瞪了韦小宝一眼,道:“你过来。”韦小宝道:“你又要打人,我才不过来呢。”方怡道:“你不可再说损刘师哥的话,小孩子家,也不修些口德。”韦小宝伸了伸舌头,便不说话了。刘一舟见方怡两次帮着自己,心下甚是受用,寻思:“这小鬼又阴又坏,方师妹毕竟还是对我好。”

天色渐渐黑了下来。七人围着一团火坐地,破庙中到处漏水,极少干地。突然间韦小宝头顶漏水,水点一滴滴落向他肩头。他向左让了让,但左边也有漏水。方怡道:“你过来,这边不漏水。”顿了一顿,又道:“不用怕,我不打你。”韦小宝一笑,坐到她身侧。
Night was falling. The seven of them sat on the ground around the fire. The roof of the ruined temple let in the rain and there were few patches of dry ground left. Trinket felt water dripping on him, and shifted to the left. It was just as wet there. Fang Yi told him to come over and sit next to her. ‘Don’t worry,’ she said, ‘I won’t hit you!’ Trinket gave a little laugh, and sat down beside her.

方怡凑嘴到沐剑屏耳边,低声说了几句话,沐剑屏咭的一笑,点点头,凑嘴到韦小宝耳边,低声道:“方师姊说,她跟你是自己人,这才打你管你,叫你别得罪了刘师哥,问你懂不懂她的意思?”韦小宝在她耳边低声道:“甚么自己人?我可不懂。”沐剑屏将话传了过去。方怡白了他一眼,向沐剑屏道:“我发过的誓,赌过的咒,永远作数,叫他放心。”沐剑屏又将话传过。韦小宝在沐剑屏耳边道:“方姑娘跟我是自己人,那么你呢?”
Fang Yi leant and whispered something to the Little Countess, who gave a splutter of laughter, nodded, and in turn whispered to Trinket: ‘Sister Fang says that now she is yours, you mustn’t take it amiss if she hits you or tries to tell you what to do, like asking you to be nice to Brother Liu. Do you understand?’ ‘No!’ whispered Trinket back. ‘What does she mean by being “mine”, for a start?’ The Little Countess transmitted this to Fang Yi, who gave Trinket a supercilious look and whispered to the Little Countess: ‘I swore an oath. Nothing can change that. Tell him to set his mind at ease.’ Once again, the message was transmitted. ‘If she’s mine,’ whispered Trinket to the Little Countess, ‘what about you?’

沐剑屏红晕上脸,呸的一声,伸手打他。韦小宝笑着侧身避过,向方怡连连点头。方怡似笑非笑,似嗔非嗔,火光照映之下,说不尽的娇美。韦小宝闻到二女身上淡淡香气,心下大乐。刘一舟所坐处和他三人相距颇远,伸长了脖子,隐隐约约的似乎听到甚么“刘师哥”,甚么“自己人”,此外再也听不到了。瞧他三人嘻嘻哈哈,神态亲密,显是将自己当做了外人,忍不住又是妒恨交作。方怡又在沐剑屏耳边低声道:“你问他,到底使了什么法儿,才将刘师哥迷倒。”韦小宝见方怡一脸好奇之色,终于悄悄对沐剑屏说了:“我小便之时,背转了身子,左手中抓了一把蒙汗药,回头去翻检薄饼,饼上自然涂了药粉。我吃的那张饼,只用右手拿,左手全然不碰。这可懂了吗?”沐剑屏道:“原来如此。”传话之后,方怡又问:“你哪里来的蒙汗药?”韦小宝道:“宫里侍卫给的,救你刘师哥,用的就是这些药粉。”这时大雨倾盆,在屋面上打得哗啦啦急响,韦小宝的嘴唇直碰到沐剑屏耳朵,所说的话才能听到。刘一舟心下焦躁,霍地站起身来,背脊重重在柱子上一靠,突然喀喇喇几声响,头顶掉下几片瓦来。这座破庙早已朽烂,给大雨一浸,北风一吹,已然支撑不住,跟着一根根椽子和瓦片砖泥纷纷跌落。
She blushed, gave a disapproving little click of her tongue, and reached out to slap him. Trinket laughed and dodged the blow, all the while nodding meaningfully towards Fang Yi, who was looking at him with a mixture of laughter and anger, her eyes flashing. She looked quite bewitching, and absolutely adorable. Trinket caught a whiff of the two girls’ scent, and breathed it in with ecstasy. Liu Yizhou had been watching all this from a distance with mounting jealousy and rage. Unable to contain himself, he rose to his feet. He leant against one of the pillars of the temple, and there was a sudden series of crashes as several tiles fell from the roof. The rain and wind seemed to have dealt a final blow to the already precarious temple.

徐天川叫道:“不好,这庙要倒,大家快出去。”七人奔出庙去,没走得几步,便听得轰隆隆一声巨响,庙顶塌了一大片,跟着又有半堵墙倒了下来。
Old Xu cried out: The whole temple is going to collapse! We must get out of here!’ The seven of them hurried out. They had no sooner gained open ground than they heard a great rumbling, and the entire roof of the temple caved in, together with half of the main wall. A Haunted House

便在此时,只听得马蹄声响,十余乘马自东南方疾驰而来,片刻间奔到近处,黑暗中影影绰绰,马上都骑得有人。一个苍老的声音说道:“啊哟,这里本来有座小庙,可以躲雨,偏偏又倒了。”另一人大声问道:“喂,老乡,你们在这里干甚么?”徐天川道:“我们在庙里躲雨,这庙塌了下来,险些儿都给压死了。”马上一人骂道:“他妈的,落这样大雨,老天爷可不是疯了。”另一人道:“赵老三,除了这小庙,附近一间屋都没有?有没有山洞什么的?”那苍老的声音道:“有……有是有的,不过也同没有差不多。”一名汉子骂道:“你奶奶的,到底有是没有?”那老头道:“这里向西北,山坳中有一座鬼屋,是有恶鬼的,谁也不敢去,那不是跟没有差不多?”
In the same instant, through the torrential rain, they heard the clattering of horses’ hooves. A dozen or so horses were galloping towards them from the south-east. It was too dark to catch more than a fleeting glimpse of them. ‘Aiyo!’ cried one of the riders, by the sound of it an elderly man. This temple could have given us shelter, if it were still standing!’ ‘Hey, Old Zhang,’ asked one of the other riders, addressing an old peasant who had accompanied them, ‘isn’t there anywhere else to shelter round these parts? A cave or something?’ Old Zhang replied: ‘Well, in a manner of speaking there is . . .’ ‘Cut the crap, will you!’ swore yet another of the company. ‘Is there or isn’t there?’ ‘A little way to the north-west,’ replied Old Zhang, ‘right on the col, there’s a house. It’s haunted though. No one dares go inside it . . .’

马上众人大声笑骂起来:“老子才不怕鬼屋哩。有恶鬼最好,揪了出来当点心。”又有人喝道:“快领路!又不是洗澡,在这大雨里泡着,你道滋味好得很么?”赵老三道:“各位爷们,老儿没嫌命长,可不敢去了。我劝各位也别去罢。这里向北,再行三十里,便有市镇。”马上众人都道:“这般大雨,哪里再挨得三十来里?快别啰唆,咱们这许多人,还怕什么鬼?”赵老三道:“好罢,大伙儿向西北,拐个弯儿,沿山路进坳,就只一条路,不会错的……”众人不等他说完,已纵马向西北方驰去。赵老三骑的是头驴子,微一迟疑,拉过驴头,回头向东南方来路而去。
The men laughed. ‘We’re not afraid of ghosts! Let’s go!’ ‘I strongly advise you gentlemen not to,’ said Old Zhang. ‘If we continue another ten miles or so north, we’ll come to a small town.’ Ten more miles in this rain? You must be joking! Come on, there are plenty of us. We don’t have to be afraid of ghosts!’ ‘Very well. You must go on towards the north-west, then turn, and follow the road up to the col. You can’t miss it. . .’ They did not even wait for him to finish his sentence, but spurred their horses on. Old Zhang hesitated for a moment, then turned his own horse around and headed back towards the south-east.

徐天川道:“吴二哥,韦香主,咱们怎么办?”吴立身道:“我看……”但随即想起,该当由韦小宝出主意才是,跟着道:“请韦香主吩咐,该当如何?”韦小宝怕鬼,只是说不出口,道:“吴大叔说罢,我可没什么主意。”吴立身道:“恶鬼什么,都是乡下人胡说八道。就算真的有鬼,咱们也跟他拚上一拚。”韦小宝道:“有些鬼是瞧不见的,等到瞧见,已经来不及啦。”言下之意,显然是怕鬼。刘一舟大声道:“怕什么妖魔鬼怪?在雨中再淋得半个时辰,人人都非生病不可。”韦小宝见沐剑屏不住发颤,确是难以支持,又不愿在方怡面前示弱,输给了刘一舟,便道:“好,大伙儿这就去罢!倘若见到恶鬼,可须小心!”
‘Brother Wu,’ said Old Xu, ‘Lodge Master, what should we do?’ ‘As I see it. . .’ began Shaker Wu, then paused. ‘I think Lodge Master Wei should be the one to decide.’ The trouble is,’ replied Trinket, ‘there are some ghosts you can’t see. And by the time you can, it’s too late!’ This was the nearest he could get to saying ‘I’m scared of ghosts!’. ‘Ghosts don’t frighten me!’ cried the valiant Liu Yizhou. ‘If we stay in this pouring rain much longer we’ll all catch our death of cold anyway!’ Trinket could see that the Little Countess was shivering, and he certainly didn’t want to be upstaged by Liu. ‘All right, let’s go then.’

七人依着那赵老三所说,向西北走进了山坳,黑暗中却寻不到道路,但见树林中白茫茫地,有一条小瀑布冲下来。韦小宝道:“寻不到路,叫做‘鬼打墙’,这是恶鬼在迷人。”徐天川道:“这片水就是路了,山水沿着小路流下来。”吴立身道:“正是!”踏着瀑布走上坡去。余人跟随而上,爬上山坡。听得左首树林中有马嘶之声,知道那十几个乘马汉子便在那边。徐天川心想:“这批人不知是什么来头。”但想自己和吴立身联手,寻常武师便有几十人也不放在心上,当下踏水寻路,高一脚低一脚的向林中走去。一到林中,更加黑了,只听得前面嘭嘭嘭敲门,果然有屋。韦小宝又惊又喜,忽觉有人伸手过来,拉住了他手。那手掌软绵绵地,跟着耳边有人柔声道:“别怕!”正是方怡。
So off they went in the direction indicated by Old Zhang, up towards the col. But soon they had lost the road, and all they could see was a great torrent of water pouring down the mountainside, through a rain-shrouded expanse of trees. That’s must be a ghost wall!’ said Trinket nervously. That,’ said Old Xu, ‘is simply the water rushing down the road.’ ‘Yes!’ cried Shaker Wu, and began clambering up the course of the torrent. The others followed him. They could hear horses neighing, and knew that the riders must be in the trees off to the side. ‘I wonder what those men are up to?’ brooded Xu silently to himself. But between them he thought he and Shaker Wu should be a match for any opposition, and put his best foot firmly forward, up the course of the stream and into the trees. Presently they heard the sound of a loud knocking on a door close by. That must be the haunted house ahead of them, in among the trees. Trinket was both relieved and frightened. Suddenly he felt a soft hand reach out and take hold of his. Then a gentle voice spoke in his ear. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ It was Fang Yi.

但听敲门之声不绝,始终没人开门。七人走到近处,只见黑沉沉的一大片屋子。一众乘马人大声叫嚷:“开门,开门!避雨来的!”叫了好一会,屋内半点动静也无。一人道:“没人住的!”另一人道:“赵老三说是鬼屋,谁敢来住?跳进墙去罢!”白光闪动,两人拔出兵刃,跳进墙去,开了大门。众人一涌而进。徐天川心想:“这些人果是武林中的,看来武功也不甚高。”七人跟着进去。
The knocking continued, but there seemed to be no answer. The seven of them moved forward, until finally the outline of a large mansion loomed out of the mist. They could hear the riders crying: ‘Open up! Open up! We’re in need of shelter!’ Their cries went unanswered. There’s no one here,’ said one of them. ‘Of course not! Old Zhang said it was haunted. No one would be foolish enough to come and live here. Let’s climb in!’ There was a flash as two of them drew their swords and leapt in through a hole in the outer wall. They opened up the mam door of the house from the inside, and the rest of their party surged in. These men look like common outlaws,’ thought Xu Tianchuan to himself. They certainly don’t give the impression of being very good fighters.’ The seven of them followed the others into the house.

大门里面是个好大的天井,再进去是座大厅。有人从身边取出油包,解开来取出火刀火石,打着了火,见厅中桌上有蜡烛,便去点燃了。众人眼前突现光亮,都是一阵喜慰,见厅上陈设着紫檀木的桌椅茶几,竟是大户人家的气派。徐天川心下嘀咕:“桌椅上全无灰尘,地下打扫得这等清洁,屋里怎会没人?”只听一名汉子说道:“这厅上干干净净的,屋里有人住的。”另一人大声嚷道:“喂,喂,屋里有人吗?屋里有人么?”大厅又高又大,他大声叫嚷,隐隐竟有回声。回声一止,四下除了大雨之声,竟无其他声息。众人面面相觑,都觉颇为古怪。
Inside the main door lay a sizeable courtyard, and beyond that a large hall. One of the riders had kindled a flame, and seeing candles on a table, proceeded to light them. As the hall lit up, they could all see that it was furnished with quality rosewood furniture. It seemed to be the home of a family of some style. There’s not a speck of dust on the furniture,’ muttered old Xu quietly to himself. ‘And the floor has been swept. And yet there’s nobody here!’ One of the riders exclaimed: ‘This place is so neat and tidy. There must be someone living here.’ ‘Is there anyone there? Is there anyone at home?’ cried another. His voice echoed in the great hall. When the echo died away, there was no sound apart from that of the pelting rain. They all looked at one another apprehensively.

一名白发老者问徐天川道:“你们几位都是江湖上朋友么?”徐天川道:“在下姓许,这几个有的是家人,有的是亲戚,要去山西探亲,不想遇上了这场大雨。达官爷贵姓?”那老者点了点头,见他们七人中有老头,有小孩,又有女子,也不起疑心,却不答他问话,说道:“这屋子可有点儿古怪。”又有一名汉子叫道:“屋里有人没有?都死光了吗?”停了片刻,仍是无人回答。那老者坐在椅上,指着六个人道:“你们六个到后面瞧瞧去!”
One of the riders, a white-haired old man, had noticed Xu Tianchuan: ‘Would you all be friends of River and Lake?’ ‘My name is Xu,’ he replied. These are relatives of mine. We were travelling to Shanxi to visit cousins of ours, when we ran into this storm. May I ask your name?’ The old man merely nodded. The party of seven seemed to match Xu’s description (old men and young men, women, a child). But he did not reply to Xu’s question and give his name. Instead he muttered: This place seems a bit weird. ‘Is there anyone there?’ called out another of the riders. ‘Is everyone dead?’ Still no sound. The old man sat down in one of the chairs and gestured to six of his men. ‘You lot go into the back and have a look around!’

六名汉子拔兵刃在手,向后进走去。六人微微弓腰,走得甚慢,神情颇为戒惧。耳听得踢门声、喝问声不断传来,并无异状,声音越去越远,显然屋子极大,一时走不到尽头。那老者指着另外四人道:“找些木柴来点几个火把,跟着去瞧瞧。”那四人奉命而去。
The six drew their swords and went to do his bidding, making their way cautiously into the depths of the house, stooping and walking slowly. From the hall the rest of them could hear the sound of doors being kicked open, and questions being shouted out. Nothing untoward seemed to happen, and gradually the sounds became fainter as the men penetrated deeper and deeper into the mansion. The old man now gave orders to four others to find some wood, make torches, and follow the first six inside. They too obeyed his commands.

韦小宝等七人坐在大厅长窗的门槛上,谁也不开口说话。徐天川见那群人中有十人走向后进,厅上尚有八人,穿的都是布袍,瞧模样似是什么帮会的帮众,又似是镖局的镖客,却没押镖,一时摸不清他们路子。韦小宝忍不住道:“姊姊,你说这屋里有没有鬼?”方怡还没回答,刘一舟抢着说道:“当然有鬼!什么地方没死过人?死过人就有鬼。”韦小宝打了个寒噤,身子一缩。刘一舟道:“天下恶鬼都欺善怕恶,专迷小孩子。大人阳气盛,吊死鬼啦,大头鬼啦,就不敢招惹大人。”方怡从衣襟底下伸手过去,握住了韦小宝左手,说道:“人怕鬼,鬼更怕人呢。一有火光,鬼就逃走了。”
Trinket and his six companions sat down on the ledge of a long window, none of them daring to say a word. Altogether ten of the riding party had now departed into the inner recesses of the house, leaving eight in the hall. They wore plain cloth gowns, and to Old Xu’s experienced eyes seemed like members of some underground fraternity or other. They could have been members of a security escort, if it were not for the fact that they did not seem to have anything to escort. He could not quite make them out.

只听得脚步声响,先到后面察看的六名汉子回到厅上,脸上神气透着十分古怪,七嘴八舌的说道:“一个人也没有,可是到处打扫得干干净净的。”“床上铺着被褥,床底下有鞋子,都是娘儿们的。”“衣柜里放的都是女人衣衫,男人衣服却一件也没有!”刘一舟大声叫道:“女鬼!一屋子都是女鬼!”众人一齐转头瞧着他,一时之间,谁都没作声。突然听得后面四人怪声大叫,那老者一跃而起,正要抢到后面去接应,那四人已奔入大厅,手中火把都已熄灭,叫道:“死人,死人真多!”脸上尽是惊惶之色。
At that moment, the advance party of six riders returned, looking extremely spooked. There’s no one there. But the place is all neat and tidy. There’s bedding on the beds, and shoes on the floor—women’s shoes. And the wardrobes are full of women’s clothes. Not a single thing for men!’ ‘Female ghosts!’ cried Liu loudly. The house is haunted by the ghosts of dead women!’ They all turned simultaneously and looked at him. No one breathed a word. Suddenly they heard cries coming from the second search party. The old man leapt to his feet, and the four came running back into the hall. Their torches were all extinguished. ‘Spooks! Dead men everywhere!’ they cried. There was terror written on their faces.

那老者沉着脸道:“大惊小怪的,我还道是遇上了敌人呢。死人有什么可怕?”一名汉子道:“不是可怕,是……是希奇古怪。”那老者道:“什么希奇古怪?”另一名汉子道:“东边一间屋子里,都……都是死人灵堂,也不知共有多少。”那老者沉吟道:“有没有死人和棺材?”两名汉子对望了一眼,齐道:“没……没瞧清楚,好像没有。”那老者道:“多点几根火把,大伙儿瞧瞧去。说不定是座祠堂,那也平常得紧。”
The old man scowled. ‘Stop panicking! I thought for a moment you had run into a real enemy! There’s nothing to fear from a dead man!’ ‘But they’re . . . spooky!’ ‘What do you mean, spooky? ‘One of the rooms on the right is full of… hundreds of shrines to the dead!’ ‘Are there any bodies or coffins?’ asked the old man. Two of the men exchanged glances. ‘We couldn’t see too clearly,’ they both replied at the same time. ‘We don’t think so.’ ‘Light some more torches, and we will all go in together. It’s probably just something perfectly ordinary, like an ancestral shrine.’

他虽说得轻描淡写,但语气中也显得大为犹豫,似乎明知祠堂并非如此。他手下众汉子便在大厅拆桌拆椅,点成火把,向后院涌去。徐天川道:“我去瞧瞧,各位在这里待着。”跟在众人之后走了进去。
The old man tried to sound casual, but there was a note of uncertainty in his voice. His men set about breaking up chairs and tables, and soon they had all set off into the back of the house with blazing torches. Til go with them and have a look,’ said Xu Tianchuan. ‘You stay here and wait for me.’ He followed after the men.

敖彪问道:“师父,这些人是什么路道?”吴立身摇头道:“瞧不出,听口音似乎是鲁东、关东一带的人,不像是六扇门的魔爪。莫非是私枭?可又没见带货。”刘一舟道:“那一伙人也没什么大不了,倒是这屋中的大批女鬼,可厉害着呢!”说着向韦小宝伸了伸舌头。韦小宝打了个寒噤,紧紧握住了方怡的手,自己掌心中尽是冷汗。沐剑屏颤声道:“刘……刘师哥,你别老是吓人,好不好?”
Ao Biao turned to Shaker Wu. ‘Shifu, what kind of men do you think these riders are?’ Shaker Wu shook his head. ‘From their accents, I’d say they were from Shandong or from just north of the Pass. Probably smugglers, though I can’t see what they’re smuggling.’ ‘They’re nothing to be afraid of. It’s the women ghosts you should be worried about Liu Yizhou stuck his tongue out at Trinket as he said this. Trinket shuddered, and held Fang Yi’s hand tightly. His own palms were clammy with fear. ‘Brother Liu,’ said the Little Countess, in a shaky voice, ‘will you please stop trying to scare us!’

刘一舟道:“小郡主,你不用担心,你是金枝玉叶,什么恶鬼见了你都远远避开,不敢侵犯。恶鬼最憎的就是不男不女的太监。”方怡柳眉一轩,脸有怒色,待要说话,却又忍住了。过了好一会,才听得脚步声响,众人回到大厅。韦小宝吁了口长气,心下略宽。徐天川低声道:“七八间屋子里,共有三十来座灵堂,每座灵堂上都供了五六个、七八个牌位,看来每一座灵堂上供的是一家死人。”刘一舟道:“嘿嘿,这屋子里岂不是有几百个恶鬼?”
‘You’ve got nothing to be scared of, Countess,’ replied Liu. Those nasty ghosts wouldn’t come anywhere near a young lady of noble blood like yourself. No, the people they hate the most are the ones who are neither fish nor fowl, neither man nor woman— eunuchs, for instance . . .’ Fang Yi frowned angrily and wanted to say something, but restrained herself. After a while they heard footsteps again and the search party returned. Trinket breathed a sigh of relief. Xu reported back to his friends in hushed tones. There are seven or eight rooms, and each one is filled with shrines to the departed. Each shrine contains the spirit tablets of between five and eight people. They would seem to be family shrines.’ ‘Ha ha!’ chuckled Liu Yizhou. ‘So we’re talking about a couple of hundred nasty ghosts haunting the place!’

徐天川摇了摇头,他见多识广,可从未听见过这等怪事,过了一会,缓缓的道:“最奇怪的是,灵堂前都点了蜡烛。”韦小宝、方怡、沐剑屏三人同时惊叫出来。一名汉子道:“我们先前进去时,蜡烛明明没点着。”那老者问道:“你们没记错?”四名汉子你瞧瞧我,我瞧瞧你,都摇了摇头。
Xu shook his head gravely. ‘I don’t know. The strangest thing of all,’ he continued, ‘is that in front of each shrine there are candles burning.’ Trinket and the two girls simultaneously let out a cry of terror. ‘When we went in just now,’ put in one of the original advance party, ‘there weren’t any candles lit.’ ‘Are you sure you are remembering correctly?’ asked the old man. Four of the men exchanged doubtful glances, and shook their heads.

那老者道:“不是有鬼,咱们遇上了高人。顷刻之间,将三十几座灵堂中的蜡烛都点燃了,这身手可也真敏捷得很。许老爷子,你说是不是呢?”最后这句话是向着徐天川而说。徐天川假作痴呆,说道:“咱们恐怕冲撞了屋主,不……不妨到灵堂前磕……磕几个头。”雨声之中,东边屋中忽然传来几下女子啼哭,声音甚是凄切,虽然大雨淅沥,这几下哭声却听得清清楚楚。韦小宝只吓得张口结舌,脸色大变。众人面面相觑,都是毛骨悚然。过了片刻,西边屋中又传出女子悲泣之声。刘一舟、敖彪以及两名汉子齐声叫道:“鬼哭!”
These aren’t ghosts,’ said the old man. This is some sort of wizard! To light more than thirty candles in a matter of seconds! What do you make of this, Mr Xu?’ Xu adopted an expression of utter bewilderment. ‘Perhaps we have disturbed the master of the house in some way . . . Maybe we should kowtow at the shrines!’ Just then, clearly audible above the driving rain, they heard a sound coming from the eastern wing of the house. It was the sound of women’s voices wailing. It was a desolate, piercing sound. Trinket stood there with his mouth gaping, his face paralysed with fear. They all looked at one another in terror. Seconds later another sound reached them, this time from the western wing. It was the sound of another group of women weeping and sobbing. Liu Yizhou, Ao Biao, and two of the riders cried with one voice: ‘Ghosts!’

那老者哼的一声,突然大声说道:“咱们路经贵处,到此避雨,擅闯宝宅,特此谢过。贤主人可肯赐见么?这番话中气充沛,远远送了出去。过了良久,后面没丝毫动静。那老者摇了摇头,大声道:“这里主人既然不愿接见俗客,咱们可不能擅自骚扰。便在厅上避一避雨,一等天明雨停,大伙儿尽快动身。”说着连打手势,命众人不可说话,侧耳倾听,过了良久,不再听到啼哭之声。一名汉子低声道:“章三爷,管他是人是鬼,一等天明,一把火,把这鬼屋烧成他妈的一片白地。”那老者摇手道:“咱们要紧事情还没办,不可另生枝节。坐下来歇歇罢!”众人衣衫尽湿,便在厅上生起火来。有人取出个酒葫芦,拔开塞子,递给那老者喝酒。那老者喝了几口酒,斜眼向徐天川瞧了半晌,说道:“许老爷子,你们几个是一家人,怎地口音不同?你是京城里的,这几位却是云南人?”
The old man said something to try and calm them down. Then he turned to Xu Tianchuan. Tell me,’ he said, ‘if you are all from one family, how is it that some of you speak with a Peking accent, some with a Yunnan accent?’

徐天川笑道:“老爷子好耳音,果然是老江湖。我大妹子嫁在云南。这位是我妹夫。”说着向吴立身一指,又道:“我妹夫、外甥他们都是云南人。我二妹子可又嫁在山西。天南地北的,十几年也难得见一次面。我们这次是上山西探我二妹子去。”他说吴立身是他的妹夫,那是客气话,当时北方习俗,叫人大舅子、小舅子便是骂人。那老者点了点头,喝了口酒,眯着眼睛道:“几位从北京来?”徐天川道:“正是。”那老者道:“在道上可见到一个十四五岁的小太监?”
Xu concocted a plausible enough story about the family’s origins and how they were on their way to Shanxi to seek out his younger sister-in-law’s family. Tell me,’ continued the old man, ‘on your way here, did you come across a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old eunuch?’

此言一出,徐天川等心中都是一凛,幸好那老者只注视着他,而徐天川脸上神色不露,敖彪、沐剑屏脸上变色,旁人却未曾留意。徐天川道:“你说太监?北京城里,老的小的,太监可多得很啊,一出门总撞到几个。”那老者道:“我问你在道上可曾看到,不是说北京城里。”徐天川笑道:“老爷子,你这话可不在行啦。大清的规矩,太监一出京城,就犯死罪。太监们可不像明朝那样威风十足了。现下有哪个太监敢出京城一步?”那老者“哦”了一声,道:“说不定他改了装呢?”
Xu’s face betrayed nothing. His companions, when they heard this, registered visible shock, but luckily no one was looking at them. There are so many eunuchs in Peking,’ replied Xu. We must have encountered quite a few of them on our way out of the city.’ ‘I said on your way here,’ insisted the old man, ‘not in Peking.’ ‘My dear sir,’ said Xu, ‘you must surely know that eunuchs are not allowed out of the Capital, on pain of death.’ ‘Perhaps this one was in disguise,’ said the old man, with a humph.

徐天川连连摇头,说道:“没这个胆子,没这个胆子!”顿了一顿,问道:“老爷子,你找的是怎么个小太监?等我从山西探了亲,回到京城,也可帮你打听打听。”那老者道:“哼哼,多谢你啦,就不知有没有那么长的命。”说着闭目不语。徐天川心想:“他打听一个十四五岁的小太监,那不是冲着韦香主吗?这批人既不是天地会,又不是沐王府的,十之八九,没安着善意,可得查问个明白。他不惹过来,我们倒要惹他一惹。”说道:“老爷子,北京城里的小太监,只有一位大大的出名。他大名儿传遍了天下,想来你也听到过,那便是杀了奸臣鳌拜、立了大功的那一位。”那老者睁开眼来,道:“嗯,你说的是小桂子桂公公?”徐天川道:“不是他还有谁呢?这人有胆有勇,武艺高强,实在了不起!”那老者道:“这人相貌怎样?你见过他没有?”徐天川道:“哈,这桂公公天天在北京城里蹓跶,北京人没见过他的,只怕没几个。这桂公公又黑又胖,是个胖小子,少说也有十八九啦,说什么也不信他只十五岁。”
Xu shook his head. He was thinking to himself that these people were most probably after Lodge Master Wei, and that it was his duty to ferret out of them who exactly they were. There is one Palace Eunuch who has become very famous,’ he ventured. The one who succeeded in killing that monster Oboi.’ The old man stared at Xu wide-eyed. ‘You mean Laurel Goong-goong?’ ‘Of course!’ replied Xu. ‘What courage! What kungfu!’ ‘What does he look like? Have you ever seen him?’ ‘He’s always gadding about the Capital. Just about everyone in Peking has seen him. Fat, swarthy little fellow. Looks almost twenty. You’d never take him for a fifteen-year-old.’

方怡握着韦小宝的手掌紧了一紧,沐剑屏的手肘在他背心轻轻一撞,都是暗暗好笑。韦小宝本来一直在怕鬼,听那老者问起了自己,心下盘算,将怕鬼的念头便都忘了。那老者道:“是么?我听人说的,却是不同。听说这桂公公只是个十三四岁的小孩童,就是狡猾机伶,只怕跟你那个外甥倒有三分相像,哈哈,哈哈!”说着向韦小宝瞧去。刘一舟忽道:“听说那小桂子卑鄙无耻,最会使蒙汗药。他杀死鳌拜,便是先用药迷倒的,否则这小贼又胆小,又怕鬼,怎杀得了鳌拜?”向韦小宝笑吟吟的道:“表弟,你说是不是呢?”
Fang Yi gripped Trinket’s hand tightly. The Little Countess nudged him in the small of the back with her elbow. They were both silently chuckling to themselves. Trinket was so frightened to hear himself talked about like this, he had almost forgotten to be afraid of ghosts. ‘Really?’ returned the old man. ‘I’d heard quite differently. I’d heard he looked about thirteen or fourteen. A shifty little brat—a bit like this nephew of yours, in fact!’ He was alluding to (and looking at) Trinket. ‘I’ve heard that Laurel Goong-goong is a low-down little brat too,’ piped up Liu Yizhou, ‘forever putting drugs in people’s drinks. In fact, that’s how he managed to kill Oboi. He’d never have done it otherwise—he’s such a pathetic little coward!’ Liu turned to Trinket with a giggle. ‘Don’t you agree, cousin?’

吴立身大怒,反手一掌,向他脸上打去。刘一舟低头避开,左足一弹,已站了起来。吴立身这反手一掌,乃是一招“碧鸡展翅”,刘一舟闪避弹身,使的是招“金马嘶风”,都是“沐家拳“招式。一个打得急,一个避得快,不知不觉间都使出了本门拳法。那姓章老者霍地站起,笑道:“好啊,众位乔装改扮得好!”他这一站,手下十几人跟着都跳起身来。那老者喝道:“都拿下了!一个都不能放走。”
Shaker Wu flew into a rage at Liu’s continued provocation of Trinket, and he lashed out at him, using a move known in the Mu Family as Emerald Cockerel Spreads Feathers. Liu darted out of the way, responding with another classic Mu Family move, Gold Horse Neighs in the Wind. Between them, the two men were blatantly betraying their Mu Family origins. The old man leapt to his feet. His followers followed his example. ‘Not a single one of them is to escape!’ cried the old man.

吴立身从怀中抽出短刀,大头向左一摇,砍翻了一名汉子,向右一摇,又一名汉子咽喉中刀倒地。那老者双手在腰间摸出一对判官笔,双笔互擦,发出滋滋之声,双笔左点吴立身咽喉,右取徐天川胸口,以一攻二,身手快捷。徐天川向右一冲,左手向一名大汉眼中抓去。那大汉后仰急避,手中单刀已被夺去,腰间一痛,自己的刀已斩入了自己肚子。那边敖彪也已跟人动上了手。刘一舟微一迟疑,解下软鞭,上前厮杀。
Shaker Wu drew a short-sword from inside his jacket, and with a shake of the head to the left, had soon hacked down one of the riders. Then as he shook to the right, another rider received Wu’s sword in the throat and crashed to the ground. The old man now produced a pair of fighting-clubs, and clanged them together menacingly. He swung them through the air, narrowly missing Shaker’s throat with the left, and grazing Xu Tianchuan’s chest with the right. Xu darted to one side, and as he did so poked at one of the men’s eyes with his left hand. The man ducked. Xu seized hold of the man’s short-sword and turned it back on him. The man lurched forwards with the blade in his belly. Ao Biao was also engaged in close combat, while Liu Yizhou was busy cracking his whip.

对方虽然人多,但只那老者和吴立身斗了个旗鼓相当,余下众人都武功平平。韦小宝看出便宜,心想:“只要不碰那老甲鱼,其余那些我也可对付对付。”握匕首在手,便欲冲上。方怡一把拉住,说道:“咱们赢定了,不用你帮手。”韦小宝心道:“我知道赢定了,这才上前哪。倘若输定,还不快逃?”

忽听得滋滋连声,那老者已跳在一旁,两枝判官笔互相磨擦,他手下众人齐往他身后挤去,迅速之极的排成一个方阵。这些人只几个箭步,便各自站定了方位,十余人既不推拥,亦无碰撞,足见平日习练有素,在这件事上着实花过了不少功夫。徐天川和吴立身都吃了一惊,退开几步。敖彪奋勇上前,突然间方阵中四刀齐出,二斩其肩,二砍其足,配合得甚是巧妙,中间二杆枪则架开了他砍去的一刀。敖彪“啊”的一声叫,肩头中刀。吴立身急叫:“彪儿后退!”敖彪向后跃开。战局在一瞬之间,胜负之势突然逆转。
A moment later, the old man leapt back with a crash of his clubs, and all of his men instantly fell into formation behind him. The speed and discipline with which they did this showed it to be a well-drilled manoeuvre. Xu Tianchuan and Shaker Wu gave a start and withdrew a few paces, but Ao Biao rushed impetuously forward. Four blades protruded from the phalanx, while longer pikes protected their flanks. Ao Biao went down with wounds to both of his shoulders, shouting with pain. ‘Retreat!’ cried Shaker Wu, and Ao Biao scrambled out of danger.

徐天川站在韦小宝和二女之前相护,察看对方这阵法如何运用。只见那老者右手举起判官笔,高声叫道:“洪教主万年不老,永享仙福!寿与天齐,寿与天齐!”那十余名汉子一齐举起兵刃,大呼:“洪教主寿与天齐,寿与天齐!”声震屋瓦,状若颠狂。徐天川心下骇然,不知他们在捣什么鬼。韦小宝听了“洪教主”三字,蓦地里记起陶红英惧怕已极的神色与言语,脱口而出:“神龙教!他们是神龙教的!”
Xu Tianchuan was standing protectively in front of Trinket and the girls, watching how the enemy formation would deploy itself next. Things seemed to be taking a nasty turn. At this point the old man brandished his clubs in the air and gave a mighty cry: ‘Long Life to Our Great Leader Hong! Blessings be on Him!’ ‘Long Life to Our Great Leader Hong! Blessings be on Him!’ came back the thundering chorus from his men. Xu stared at them aghast. But at the words ‘the Leader’, Trinket suddenly remembered his conversation with Auntie Tao, and her terror-stricken face. ‘They’re from the Sect of the Mystic Dragon!’ he cried. They’re Dragons!’

那老者脸上变色,说道:“你也知道神龙教的名头!”高举右手,又呼:“洪教主神通广大。我教战无不胜,攻无不克,无坚不摧,无敌不破。敌人望风披靡,逃之夭夭。”徐天川等听得他们每念一句,心中就是一凛,但觉这些人的行为希奇古怪,从所未有,临敌之际,居然大声念起书来。韦小宝叫道:“这些人会念咒,别上了他们当!大伙儿上前杀啊。”
The old rider with the clubs paled. ‘How do you know that name?’ He raised his right hand and chanted: ‘All Hail to Our Supreme and Ail-Powerful Leader Hong! Victory is Ours!’ The chanting was succeeding in unnerving his opponents. That’s part of their technique!’ cried Trinket. That’s what they do! They chant spells! Don’t fall for it! Don’t give up! Fight back!’

却听那老者和众人越念越快,已不再是那老者念一句,众人跟一句,而是十余人齐声念诵:“洪教主神通护佑,众弟子勇气百倍,以一当百,以百当万。洪教主神目如电,烛照四方。我弟子杀敌护教,洪教主亲加提拔,升任圣职。我教弟子护教而死,同升天堂!”突然间纵声大呼,疾冲而出。
But now it was the entire phalanx chanting with one voice in one great crescendo, louder and louder, faster and faster. ‘Our Great Leader Hong will protect us! Our Courage will Multiply! We know no fear! One of us will defeat a hundred of the enemy, a hundred of us will defeat ten thousand! Our Leader Hong’s eyes are as the Lightning in the Heavens! They shine upon the Four Corners of the Earth! Willingly we die for Our Leader! He will take us all to Heaven!’ And then in one climactic burst of sound they surged forward.

吴立身、徐天川等挺兵刃相迎,可是这些人在这顷刻之间,竟然武功大进,钢刀砍来,短枪刺到,都比先前劲力加了数倍,如痴如狂,兵刃乱砍乱杀。不数合间,敖彪和刘一舟已被砍倒,跟着韦小宝、方怡、沐剑屏也都给一一打倒。方怡伤腿,沐剑屏伤臂。韦小宝背心上给戳了一枪,幸好有宝衣护身,这一枪没戳入体内,但来势太沉,立足不定,俯身跌倒。过不多时,吴立身和徐天川也先后受伤。那老者接连出指,点了各人身上要穴。
Shaker Wu, Xu Tianchuan, and the others stood their ground courageously. But the chanting had given the Dragons an added ferocity and power. In a matter of minutes Ao Biao and Liu Yizhou had been hacked down, and Trinket and the two girls were also knocked to the ground. Fang Yi received a wound in the leg, the Little Countess in the arm, and Trinket a pike in the back. The blow was strong enough to send him toppling, though he was protected from serious injury by his trusty magic waistcoat. Next Xu and Shaker were wounded, and the old man leading the Mystic Dragons closed their points and immobilized them.

众汉子齐呼:“洪教主伸通广大,寿与天齐,寿与天齐!”呼喊完毕,突然一齐坐倒,各人额头汗水有如泉涌,呼呼喘气,显得疲累不堪。这一战不到一盏茶时分便分胜败,这些人却如激斗了好几个时辰一般。韦小宝心中连珠价叫苦,寻思:“这些人原来都会妖法,无怪陶姑姑一提到神龙教,便吓得什么似的,果然是神通广大。”
‘Our Great Leader Hong is All-Powerful! Long Life to Our Great Leader Hong!’ The chant rang out once more. Then, in another perfectly coordinated movement, the men all sat down. Sweat was pouring from their brows, and they were panting fiercely. They had obviously drained themselves in the intensity of the onslaught. The whole battle had been decided in no more than the length of time it would take a man to drink a cup of tea. But they looked like warriors who had been fighting for several hours. ‘No wonder Auntie Tao was so scared of them!’ thought Trinket to himself. They’re using black magic! They really are All-Powerful!’

那老者坐在椅上闭目养神,过了好一会才站起身来,抹去了额头汗水,在大厅上走来走去,又过了好一会,他手下众人纷纷站起。那老者向着徐天川等道:“你们一起跟着我念!听好了,我念一句,你们跟一句。洪教主神通广大,寿与天齐!”徐天川骂道:“邪魔歪道,装神弄鬼,要老子跟着捣鬼,做你娘的清秋大梦!”那老者提起判官笔,在他额头一击,冬的一声,鲜血长流。徐天川骂道:“狗贼,妖人!”
The old man sat down on a chair and composed himself. After a while he stood up again, wiped the sweat from his brow, and began pacing up and down the hall. Gradually his men also rose to their feet. The old man addressed Xu Tianchuan: ‘Repeat after me: Our Great Leader Hong is All-Powerful! Long Life to our Leader!’ ‘Me, chant that mumbo-jumbo of yours!’ cried Xu. ‘You must be dreaming!’ The old man swung one of his clubs and struck Xu full on the forehead. Blood gushed down his face. ‘Bastard!’ yelled Xu. ‘Sorcerer!’

那老者问吴立身道:“你念不念?”吴立身未答先摇头。那老者提起判官笔,也在他额头一击,再问敖彪时,敖彪骂道:“你奶奶的寿与狗齐!”那老者大怒,判官笔击下时用力甚重,敖彪立时晕去。吴立身喝道:“彪儿好汉子!你们这些只会搞妖法的家伙,他妈的,有种就把我们都杀了。”
The old man turned next to Shaker Wu. ‘Repeat after me . . .’ Shaker was already wagging his head in defiance. The old man swung his club again, and left Shaker’s forehead a bloody mess. He turned next to Ao Biao. ‘<****> your mother!’ cried the ever impetuous Ao Biao. ‘And a dog’s life to your prick of a leader!’ This sent the old man into a rage. He brought his club down with a mighty crash, and Ao Biao fell unconscious to the ground. ‘Bravely done, Biao!’ yelled Shaker. ‘As for you, you pack of arse-lickers, if you’ve any real courage, why not kill the lot of us!’

那老者举起判官笔,向刘一舟道:“你念不念?”刘一舟道:“我……我……我……”那老者道:“你说:洪教主神通广大,寿与天齐!”刘一舟道:“洪教主……洪教主……”那老者将判官笔的尖端在他额头轻轻一戳,喝道:“快念!”刘一舟道:“是,是,洪教主……洪教主寿与天齐!”
The old man raised his club again and turned to Liu Yizhou. ‘Repeat after me: Long Life to Our Leader Hong!’ ‘Long . . . Long . . .’ The old man brought his club up to Liu’s forehead and gave him a little thump. ‘Come on!’ he yelled. ‘I am! Long . . . Long Life to Our Leader Hong!’

那老者哈哈大笑,说道:“毕竟识时务的便宜,你这小子少受了皮肉之苦。”走到韦小宝面前,喝道:“小鬼头,你跟着我念。”韦小宝道:“用不着你念。”那老者怒道:“什么?”举起了判官笔。
The old man laughed. ‘I’m glad to see that at least one of you has some sense! No need to brain this one!’ He advanced on Trinket. ‘Say after me . . .’ There’s no need for you to say it,’ replied Trinket. ‘Heh? Being cheeky?’ The old man raised his club.

韦小宝大声念道:“韦教主神通广大,寿与天齐,永享仙福。韦教主战无不胜,胜无不战,韦教主攻无不克,克无不攻。韦教主提拔你们大家,大家同升天堂……”他把韦教主这个“韦”字说得含含糊糊,只是鼻孔中这么一哼,那老者却哪知他弄鬼,只道他说的是“洪教主”,听他这么一连串的念了出来,哈哈大笑,赞道:“这小孩儿倒挺乖巧。”他走到方怡身前,摸了摸她下巴,道:“唔,小妞儿相貌不错,乖乖跟我念罢。”方怡将头一扭,道:“不念!”那老者举起判官笔欲待击下,烛光下见到她娇美的面庞,心有不忍,将笔尖对准了她面颊,大声道:“你念不念?你再说一句‘不念’,我便在你脸蛋上连划三笔。”方怡倔强不念,但“不念”二字,却也不敢出口。老者道:“到底念不念?”韦小宝道:“我代她念罢,包管比她自己念得还要好听。”
‘Long Life to Our Great Leader Wei!’ Trinket shouted, and promptly rattled off a whole lot more. ‘Our Great Leader will protect us! Our Leader Wei’s eyes are as the Lightning in the Heavens! They shine upon the Four Corners of the Earth! Willingly we die for Our Leader! He will take us all to Heaven!’ Each time he somehow managed to mumble the ‘Wei’ part so that it came out as a sort of nasal grunt that was indistinguishable from ‘Hong’. The old man looked pleased. ‘Good boy!’ He walked up to Fang Yi and put his hand to her chin. ‘Not a bad looker! Say it for us, there’s a good girl!’ She twisted her face away and cried: ‘I won’t!’ ‘Let me do it for her!’ cried Trinket.

那老者道:“谁要你代?”提起判官笔,在方怡肩头一击。方怡痛得啊的一声,叫了出来。忽有一人笑道:“章三爷,这妞儿倘若不念,咱们便剥她衣衫。”余人齐叫:“妙极,妙极!这主意不错。”刘一舟忽道:“你们干么欺侮这姑娘?你们要找的那小太监,我就知道在哪里。”那老者忙问:“你知道?在哪里?快说,快说!”刘一舟道:“你答应不再难为这姑娘,我便跟你说,否则你就杀了我,也是不说。”方怡尖声道:“师哥,不用你管我。”
‘Who asked you to say anything?’ The old man threatened to smash Fang Yi in the face, but in the end contented himself with hitting her on the shoulder. She gave a cry of pain. One of the men called out: ‘If she won’t say it, let’s strip her clothes off!’ ‘Yes!’ bawled the others. ‘Strip her!’ ‘Leave the girl alone!’ cried Liu. ‘It’s the eunuch you really want. I’ll tell you where he is!’ ‘So you know, do you?’ snapped the old man. ‘Hurry up then, tell us!’ ‘Only if you promise to leave the girl alone,’ said Liu. ‘Brother Liu,’ said Fang Yi sharply, ‘I don’t need your help!’

那老者笑道:“好,我答应你不难为这姑娘。”刘一舟道:“你说话可要算数。”那老者道:“我姓章的说过了话,自然算数。那小太监,就是擒杀鳌拜、皇帝十分宠幸的小桂子,你当真知道他在哪里?”刘一舟道:“远在天边,近在眼前!”那老者跳起身来,指着韦小宝,道:“就……就……是他?”脸上一副惊喜交集之色。方怡道:“凭他这样个孩子,怎杀得了鳌拜,你莫听他胡说八道。”刘一舟道:“是啊,若不是使蒙汗药,怎杀得了满洲第一勇士鳌拜?”那老者将信将疑,问韦小宝道:“鳌拜是不是你杀的?”韦小宝道:“是我杀的,便怎样?不是我杀的,又怎样?”那老者骂道:“你奶奶的,我瞧你这小鬼头就是有点儿邪门。身上搜一搜再说。”
The old man laughed. ‘Very well then, I give you my word. We won’t touch the girl.’ ‘Can I trust you?’ asked Liu. ‘Can you trust me!’ growled the old man. ‘Come on now. We’re after the eunuch who killed Oboi. The Emperor’s favourite. His name is Laurel Goong-goong. Where is he?’ ‘He’s here …” said Liu, ‘and then again he’s not
The old man jumped up. He pointed at Trinket. ‘It’s him, isn’t it!’ He was beginning to be quite overwrought. ‘How could someone like him have killed Oboi?’ said Fang Yi. ‘Don’t take any notice of that man—he’s just talking nonsense!’ ‘You’re right,’ said Liu. ‘I am. He could never have done it— without using drugs!’ ‘Did you kill Oboi?’ the old man asked Trinket, torn between doubt and belief. ‘So what if I did?’ replied Trinket. ‘And so what if I didn’t?’ ‘Damn you!’ cried the old man. ‘I thought from the start there was something queer about you. Search him!’

当下便有两名汉子过来,解开韦小宝背上的包袱,将其中物事一件件放在桌上。那老者见到珠翠金玉诸种宝物,说道:“这当然是皇宫里的物事,咦……这是什么?”拿起一叠厚厚的银票,见每张不是五百两,便是一千两,总共不下数十万两,不由得呆了,道:“果然不错,果然不错,你……你便是小桂子。带他到那边厢房去细细查问。”方怡急道:“你们……你们别难为他。”沐剑屏哇的一声,哭了出来。
Two of his men came up and untied Trinket’s bag, spreading the contents out on the table. The bag disgorged a quantity of precious stones and other valuable items, and then bundles of notes, big denominations, hundreds of thousands of taels’ worth. The old man stared at them in amazement. ‘Just the sort of thing I’d expect to find on a Palace Eunuch! So you’re young Laurel Goong-goong men! Take him next door for questioning!’ ‘Don’t…’ It was Fang Yi who spoke. ‘Don’t be hard on him!’ The Little Countess also let out a pained cry, and started sobbing.

一名汉子抓住韦小宝后领,两人捧起了桌上诸种物事,另一人持烛台前导,走进后院东边厢房。那老者挥手道:“你们都出去!”四名汉子出房,带上了房门。
One of the men now seized Trinket by the scruff of the neck, two others gathered up his belongings, and another carried a candle. They hauled him off through the back courtyard, and into a side-room. The old man followed them into the room, and then dismissed everyone except Trinket. The Inquisition

那老者喜形于色,不住搓手,在房中走来走去,笑道:“踏破铁鞋无觅处,得来全不费功夫。小桂子公公,今日跟你在这里相会,当真是三生有幸。”韦小宝笑道:“在下跟你老爷子在这里相会,那是六生有幸,九生有幸。”他想东西都给他搜了出来,抵赖再也无用,只好随机应变,且看混不混得过去。那老者一怔,说道:“什么六生有幸,九生有幸?桂公公,你大驾这是去五台山清凉寺罢?”韦小宝不由得一惊:“老王八什么都知道了,那可不容易对付。”笑吟吟的道:“尊驾武功既高,念咒的本事又胜过了茅山道士。你们神龙教名扬天下,果然有些道理。在下闻名已久,今日亲眼目睹,佩服之至。”随口把话头岔开,不去理会他的问话。那老者问道:“神龙教的名头,你从哪里听来的?”
When they were alone, the old man began walking up and down the room, rubbing his hands together in gleeful anticipation. ‘So, we meet at last!’ ‘Yes, we do! At long, long last!’ returned Trinket. ‘Eh?’ The old man could not understand what was behind this puzzling retort of Trinket’s. Little did he know that Trinket was (as usual in such a crisis) doing no more than playing for time. Tell me,’ the old man continued, ‘would you happen to be on your way to the Wutai Mountains?’ ‘Damn it!’ thought Trinket. ‘He seems to know everything! This is going to be harder than I thought.’ ‘I was most impressed,’ said Trinket out loud, ‘by that display of Mystic Dragon chanting just now! Most impressed! I’d heard of it, of course, but this is the first time I’ve actually heard it with my own ears! Most impressive!’ ‘Where had you heard of the Mystic Dragon Sect, if I may ask?” countered the old man.

韦小宝信口开河:“我是从平西王吴三桂的儿子吴应熊那里听来的。他奉了父亲之命,到北京朝贡,他手下有个好汉,名叫杨溢之,又有许多辽东金顶门的高手。他们商量着要去剿灭神龙教,说道神龙教有位洪教主,神通广大,手下能人极多。他教下有人在镶蓝旗旗主那里办事,得了一部《四十二章经》,那可厉害得很了。”他精通说谎的诀窍,知道不用句句都是假,九句真话中夹一句假话,骗人就容易得多。
Trinket improvised without a moment’s hesitation: ‘It was the Satrap’s son, Wu Yingxiong, who told me about it. His father sent him to Peking with several top fighters trained in the Golden Gate School from Liaodong. Their mission was to exterminate the Mystic Dragons. I remember them talking about the Great Leader Hong, the Ail-Powerful, and all the Sect members under his command. One of the Sect worked for the Head of the Bordered Blue Banner, and managed to get hold of a copy of the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections. Excellent kungfu!’ Trinket was a veteran Grand Master of the Liars’ Lodge. In order to deceive effectively, he knew that it was necessary to season every spoonful of falsehood with the odd grain of carefully selected truth.

那老者越听越奇,吴应熊、杨溢之这两人的名头,他是听见过的。他教中一位重要人物在镶蓝旗旗主手下任职,那是教中的机密大事,他自己也是直到一个多月之前,才在无意之间得知,隐隐约约又曾听到过《四十二章经》这么一部经书,但其中底细,却全然不晓,忙问:“平西王府跟我们神龙教无怨无仇,干么要来惹事生非?说到‘剿灭’两字,当真是不知死活了。”韦小宝道:“吴应熊他们说,平西王府跟神龙教自然无怨无仇,说到洪教主的本事,大家还是很佩服的。不过神龙教既然得了《四十二章经》,这是至宝奇书,却非夺不可。贵教不是还有个胖胖的女子,叫做柳燕柳大姐的,到了皇宫中吗?”那老者奇道:“咦,你怎么又知道了?”
The old man was thinking to himself: ‘How can he know so much! Why, even I only got wind of the Bordered Blue Banner job a month ago. And that was by accident! It was supposed to be a top secret operation!’ ‘But the Satrap has no cause to exterminate the Mystic Dragons,’ he said to Trinket. ‘Why should he attempt anything so foolish?’ ‘Of course he has nothing against the Mystic Dragons themselves,’ Trinket hastened to explain. ‘In fact, Wu’s men said all sorts of very complimentary things about the Great Leader. No, it’s the Sutra they’re after. That’s the great prize. By the way, I also seem to remember you have a woman member working in the Palace? A fat woman by the name of Swallow Liu?’ The old man seemed genuinely taken aback by this. ‘How could you possibly know that?’

韦小宝口中胡说八道,只要跟神龙教拉得上半点关系的,就都说了出来,心中却是飞快转着念头,说道:“这位柳大姐,跟我交情可挺不错。有一次她得罪了太后,太后要杀她,幸亏我出力相救,将她藏在床底下。太后在宫里到处找不到她。这位胖大姐感激我的救命之恩,劝我加入神龙教,说道洪教主喜欢我这种小孩子,将来一定有大大的好处给我。”那老者“嗯”了一声,益发信了,又问:“太后为什么要杀柳燕?她们……她们不是很好的么?”
Trinket was merely snatching at even the smallest detail in order to construct some credentials, some sort of connection, however tenuous, between himself and the Sect. He swiftly pursued this promising tack. ‘Oh, Sister Swallow and I were especially close. Once, when she’d offended the Empress Dowager, I even saved her life. I hid her under a bed. The Empress Dowager searched everywhere but couldn’t find her. Sister Swallow was so grateful. In fact, she wanted me to join the Mystic Dragons myself. She said the Great Leader could do with a young person like me. He’d be sure to reward me.’ The old man humphed. He was almost beginning to find the boy plausible. ‘But why would Her Majesty want to kill Sister Swallow? Weren’t they . . . partners, in a sense?’

韦小宝道:“是啊,她们俩本来是师姊师妹。太后为什么要杀柳大姐呢?柳大姐说,这是一个天大的秘密,她跟我说了,我答应过她决不泄漏的,所以这件事不能跟你说了。总而言之,太后的慈宁宫中,最近来了一个男扮女装的假宫女,这人头顶是秃的……”
‘Why yes,’ said Trinket, ‘in a sense they were. At the beginning anyhow. So why did Her Majesty want to kill her? You may well ask. Trouble is, that’s absolutely top secret. She made me promise not to tell another living soul. So I really can’t tell you. I’m awfully sorry. Then there’s that other person who popped up in Maternal Tranquillity recently: a man dressed up as a woman, a bald man …”

那老者脱口而出:“邓炳春?邓大哥入宫之事,你也知道了?”韦小宝原不知那假宫女叫做邓炳春,但脸上神色,却满是一副无所不知的模样,微微一笑,说道:“章三爷,这件事可机密得很,你千万不能在人前泄漏了,否则大祸临头,你跟我说倒不要紧,如有第三人在此,就算是你最亲信的手下人,你也万万说不得。要是机关败露,洪教主一生气,只怕连你也要担个大大的不是。”
‘Are you talking about Deng Bingchun?’ gasped the old man. ‘Do you mean to say you know about Comrade Deng’s secret mission too!’ Trinket had no idea what the cross-dressing maid’s name was, but nothing ruffled his all-knowing expression. He smiled. ‘Top secret! Not a word of it to anyone. Otherwise, you might be in grave trouble with the Great Leader yourself . . .’

他在皇宫中住得久了,知道泄漏机密乃是朝廷和宫中的大忌,重则抄家杀头,轻则永无进身的机会,因此人人都是神神秘秘,鬼鬼祟祟,显得高深莫测,表面上却又装得本人甚么都知道,不过不便跟你说而已。他将这番伎俩用在那姓章老者身上,果然立竿见影,当场见效。江湖上帮会教派之中,上级统御部属,所用方法与朝廷亦无二致,所分别者只不过在精粗隐显。
Trinket had worked in the Forbidden City long enough to know that betraying a secret was a misdemeanour punishable at the worst with death, at the least with dishonour. That was why everyone carried on so sneakily in the Palace. No one wanted to run the risk of betraying anyone else. People acted as if they knew everything, while at the same time divulging nothing. This was the basic ploy he was now trying on the old man, and it seemed to be working a treat. When it came down to it, most of the same techniques worked in the Palace as on River and Lake. It was just that in the Palace people were a bit more refined about being underhand.

这几句话只听得那老者暗暗惊惧,心想:“我怎地如此粗心,竟将这种事也对这小孩说了?这小孩可留他不得,大事一了,非杀了灭口不可。”不由得神色尴尬,勉强笑了笑,问道:“你跟我们邓师兄说了些什么?”
The old man had been quite thrown by Trinket’s display of inside Mystic Dragon knowledge. He was not sure how to proceed. He laughed nervously. ‘And what did you say to Comrade Deng?’

韦小宝道:“我跟邓师兄的说话,还有他要我去禀告洪教主的话,日后见到教主之时,我自然详细禀明。”那老者道:“是,是!”给他这么装腔作势的一吓,可真不知眼前这小孩是什么来头,当下和颜悦色的道:“小兄弟,你去五台山,自然是去跟瑞栋瑞副总管相会了?”韦小宝心想:“他知道我去五台山,又知道瑞栋的事,这个讯息,定是从老婊子那里传出的。老婊子叫那秃头假宫女作师兄,这秃头是神龙教的重要人物,原来老婊子跟神龙教勾勾搭搭。老子落在他们手中,当真是九死一生,十八死半生。”脸上假作惊异,道:“咦,章三爷,你消息倒真灵通,连瑞副总管的事也知道。”
‘I’m not allowed to tell anyone,’ replied Trinket. ‘Of course, I’ll be making a full report of what I said to him, and of the message he gave me, when I see the Great Leader in person . . .’ ‘Of course!’ the old man hastily replied. He could not make out who on earth this boy really was. He tried a placatory smile, before venturing: ‘I suppose you’re on your way to the Wutai Mountains to see Colonel Rui. . .’ ‘Hm,’ thought Trinket. ‘So he knows about Wutai and Colonel Rui. The Old Whore must have told him. She and that bald-headed Deng character are obviously mixed up with the Mystic Dragons. Watch it, old Trink! Let that lot get their hands on you, and you’re history!’ He feigned surprise. ‘My goodness, you are well informed! You even know about Colonel Rui!’

那老者微笑道:“比瑞副总管来头大上万倍之人,我也知道。”韦小宝心下暗暗叫苦:“糟糕,糟糕!老婊子什么事都说了出来,除了顺治皇帝,还有哪一个比瑞栋的来头大上万倍?”那老者道:“小兄弟,你什么也不用瞒我。你上五台山去,是奉命差遣呢,还是自己去的?”韦小宝道:“我在宫里当太监,若不是奉命差遣,怎敢擅自离京?难道嫌命长么?”那老者道:“如此说来,是皇上差你去的了?”韦小宝神色大为惊奇,道:“皇上?你说是皇上?哈哈,这一下你消息可不灵了。皇上怎么知道五台山的事?”那老者道:“不是皇上,又是谁派你去的?”
The old man smiled. ‘And I know about someone else,’ he said. ‘Someone much, much more important than Colonel Rui. . .’ ‘Drat!’ Trinket cursed silently. The Old Whore has told him everything. He obviously means the Old Emperor!’ Tell me,’ said the old man, beginning to sound positively ingratiating, ‘were you ordered to go to Wutai, or are you going on your own accord?’ ‘What do you take me for?’ exclaimed Trinket. ‘Since when have Palace Eunuchs gone cruising off on out-of-town jaunts? Since when have they done anything but take orders?’ ‘So it was His Majesty who sent you?’ Trinket looked his most perplexed. ‘His Majesty? Ha ha! I’m afraid this time your information leaves a lot to be desired. How would he know about Wutai?’ Then who was it?’

韦小宝道:“你倒猜猜看。”那老者道:“莫非是太后?”韦小宝笑道:“章三爷果然了得,一猜便着。宫中知道五台山这件事的,只有两个人,一个鬼。”那老者道:“两个人,一个鬼?”韦小宝道:“正是。两个人,一个是太后,一个是在下。那个鬼,便是海大富海老公了。他是给太后用‘化骨绵掌’杀死的。”那老者脸上肌肉跳了几跳,道:“化骨绵掌,化骨绵掌。原来是太后差你去的,太后差你去干什么?”韦小宝微微一笑,道:“太后跟你是自己人,你不妨问她老人家去。”
‘Guess.’ ‘You don’t mean … It can’t be … Her Majesty?’ Trinket laughed. ‘You are a clever chap! Right first time! Only two living souls know about Wutai—and one ghost.’ ‘And who are they?’ ‘In the world of the living, Her Majesty and yours truly,’ replied Trinket. ‘In the world of the dead, a certain Hai Goong-goong. He’s the ghost. Her Majesty used Soft Crush karate to bump him off.’ The old man’s fleshy jowls twitched. ‘Soft Crush, Soft Crush,’ he murmured to himself, almost mesmerized by the words. ‘So it was Her Majesty that sent you. But why?’ Trinket gave a canny smile. ‘Seeing you and Her Majesty are so close, why not go and ask her yourself?’

这句话倘若一进房便说,那老者多半一个耳光就打了过去,但听了韦小宝一番说话后,心下惊疑不定,自言自语:“嗯,太后差你上五台山去。”韦小宝道:“太后说道,这件事情,已经派人禀告了洪教主,洪教主十分赞成。太后吩咐我好好的办,事成之后,太后固有重赏,洪教主也会给我极大的好处。”他不住将“洪教主”三字搬出来,心想眼前这老头对洪教主害怕之极,只消说洪教主得对自己十分看重,他便不敢加害。他这么虚张声势,那老者虽然将信将疑,却也是宁可信其是,不敢信其非,问道:“外面那六个人,都是你的部属随从了?”
If Trinket had said that to him when they had first entered the room, the old man would most probably have given him a good box on the ears. But by now he was too confused to know what to do or say. ‘Sent by Her Majesty …” he muttered to himself. ‘She told me that she’s already sent word to the Great Leader,’ Trinket went on, ‘and that he is extremely pleased with the way things are going. Once the mission is successfully accomplished, the Great Leader is sure to reward me highly!’ He could tell that the old man was absolutely petrified by the slightest mention of the Great Leader, and was exploiting this to its fullest. ‘And those six people outside are under your command?’ asked the old man.

韦小宝道:“他们都是宫里的,两个姑娘是太后身边的宫女,四个男的是御前侍卫,太后差他们出来跟我办事。他们可不知道神龙教的名头。这等机密大事,太后也不会跟他们说……”他说到这里,只见那老者脸露冷笑,心知不妙,问道:“怎么啦?你不信么?”那老者冷笑道:“云南沐家的人忠于前明,怎会到宫里去做御前侍卫?你扯谎可也得有个谱儿。”
‘They’re all from the Palace,’ replied Trinket. The two girls work for Her Majesty, the four men are all guards. Her Majesty sent them with me. But they don’t know anything about the Mystic Dragons. Her Majesty has never mentioned it to them . . .’ Trinket saw a sly smile creep across the old man’s face. ‘What’s the matter? Don’t you believe me?’ He had clearly put his foot in it. The Mu Family fight for the Ming cause,’ sneered the old man. They would never work as guards for the Emperor! You’re lying!’

韦小宝哈哈大笑。那老者愕然道:“你笑什么?”他哪知韦小宝说谎给人抓住,难以自圆其说之时,往往大笑一场,令对方觉得定是自己的说话大错特错,十分幼稚可笑,心下先自虚了,那么继续圆谎之时,对方便不敢过分追逼。韦小宝又笑了几声,说道:“沐王府的人最恨的,可不是太后和皇上。只怕你是不知道的了。”那老者道:“我怎么不知?沐王府最恨的自然是吴三桂。”韦小宝假作惊异,说道:“了不起,章三爷,有你的,我跟你说,沐王府的人所以跟太后当差,为的是要搞得吴三桂满门抄斩,平西王府鸡犬不留。别说皇宫里有沐王府的人,连平西王府中,何尝没有?只不过这是十分机密之事,我跟你是自己人,说了不打紧,你可不能泄漏出去。”
Trinket gave a loud laugh. ‘What’s so funny?’ The old man did not know that this was another of Trinket’s standard ploys. When caught out with a monster fib, he laughed, thereby buying precious time. He laughed again. ‘What you obviously don’t know is that the Mu Family’s real enemy, the person they really hate, is not the Empress Dowager at all—’ ‘Of course I know that!’ snapped the old man. The person they hate the most is Satrap Wu.’ ‘Well done!’ cried Trinket, feigning the utmost surprise. ‘I am impressed! You see, the Mu Family don’t mind working for Her Majesty if it means they can wipe out the Satrap and his entire camp, down to the last chicken and the last dog! Why, they even have their men planted in the Satrap’s headquarters! But you must promise me not to tell a soul!’

那老者点了点头,道:“原来如此。”但他心中毕竟还只信了三成,寻思:“我去问问外面几人,且看他们的口供合不合。问那小姑娘最好,小孩子易说真话。”当下转过身来,推门出外。韦小宝大惊,叫道:“喂,喂,你到哪里去?这是鬼屋哪,你……你怎么留着我一个人在这里?”那老者道:“我马上回来。”反手关上了门,快步走向大厅。韦小宝满手都是冷汗。烛火一闪一晃,白墙上的影子不住颤动,似乎每一个影子都是个鬼怪,四下里更无半点声息。突然之间,外面传来一人大声呼叫:“你们都到哪里去了?”正是那老者的声音。韦小宝听他呼声中充满了惊惶,自己本已害怕之极,这一下吓得几欲晕去,叫道:“他……他们都……都不见了么?”只听那老者又大声叫道:“你们在哪里?你们去了哪里?”
The old man nodded. But his confidence in Trinket’s story had been seriously dented. He decided to go out and cross-question the others. ‘Wait a minute!’ cried Trinket, as the old man turned to go. ‘Where are you off to? This house is haunted . . . You’re not going to leave me here all on my own, are you? I can’t even move,’ ‘I’ll be back in a minute,’ The old man barred the door after him, and hurried to the front hall. Trinket’s hands were clammy with terror. The wavering light of the candles threw dancing shadows on the walls. Each shadow seemed to be a ghost. There was a deathly hush in the room. Then all of a sudden the silence was broken by a great cry from outside. ‘Where are you all?’ It was the old man’s voice. It was shaking with fear, and Trinket nearly fainted. ‘Have . . . have . . . they disappeared?’ he asked. ‘Where are you?’ the old man repeated. ‘Where have you gone?’

两声呼过,便寂然无声。过了一会,听得一人自前向后急速奔去,听得一扇扇门被踢开之声,又听得那人奔将过来,冲进房中。韦小宝尖声呼叫,只见那老者脸无人色,双目睁得大大地,喘息道:“他……他们都……都不见了。”
Silence. Followed by the sound of running, and door after door being kicked closed, then more running, a hurried fumbling with the door-bar, and someone burst into the room. Trinket let out a shriek. It was the old man, terrified out of his wits, his face drained of colour, his eyes bulging out of their sockets. They’ve . . . they’ve all vanished! Every one of them!’

韦小宝道:“给……给恶鬼捉去了。咱们……咱们快逃!”那老者道:“哪有此事?”左手扶桌,那桌子格格颤动,可见他心中也是颇为惊惶。他转身走到门口,张口又呼:“你们在哪里?你们在哪里?”呼罢侧耳顷听,静夜之中又听到了几下女子哭泣之声。他一时没了主意,在门口站立片刻,退了几步,将门关了,随手提起门闩,闩上了门,但见韦小宝一对圆圆的小眼中流露着恐惧的神情。韦小宝目不转睛的瞧着他,见他咬紧牙齿,脸上一阵青、一阵白。
‘Then they’ve been carried away by … ghosts!’ cried Trinket. ‘Quick, help me, let’s run for it!’ The old man slumped across the table, and the table started shaking. Then he rose and made for the doorway again, still crying: ‘Where arc you? Where have you gone!’ He stood still and listened. A faint sound of sobbing could be heard, carried on the night air. Women sobbing. The old man hesitated a moment, then retreated back into the room, barring the door again, from the inside. He looked at Trinket. The boy’s eyes were popping out of his head with sheer terror. Trinket stared back at the old man, who was grinding his teeth, his face whiter than ever.

大雨本已停了片刻,突然之间,又是一阵阵急雨洒到屋顶,刷刷作响。那老者“啊”的一声,跳了起来,过了片刻,才道:“是……下……下雨。”忽然大厅中传来一个女子细微的声音:“章老三,你出来!”这女子声音虽不苍老,但亦非娇嫩,决不是方怡或沐剑屏,声音中还带着三分凄厉。韦小宝低声道:“女鬼!”那老者大声道:“谁在叫我?”外面无人回答,除了淅沥雨声之外,更无其他声息。那老者和韦小宝面面相觑,两人都是周身寒毛直竖。过了好一会,那女人声音又叫起来:“章老三,你出来!”那老者鼓起勇气,左足踢出,砰的一声,踢得房门向外飞开,一根门闩兀自横在门框之上。他右掌劈出,喀的一声,门闩从中断截,身子跟着窜出。韦小宝急道:“别出去!”那老者已奔向大厅。
The rain, which had let up for a while, now began falling heavily on the roof again. Suddenly, through the rain, they heard a woman’s voice from the outer hall—quiet, but distinct: ‘Come out here, old man!’ It was not the voice of an old crone; but it wasn’t a girlish voice either. It was definitely neither Fang Yi nor the Little Countess. There was something horribly chilling about the sound. ‘A woman ghost!’ whispered Trinket hoarsely. ‘Who is calling for me?’ stammered the old man. There was no reply. The only sound was the rain drumming on the roof. Trinket and the old man stared at one another, both shivering with terror. A few minutes passed. Then they heard the same voice again. ‘Come out here, old man!’ The old man finally plucked up his courage and kicked at the door. It was still held fast by the bar. He brought down his right palm with a chopping motion, and split the bar in two. Then he shot out through the doorway. ‘Don’t go!’ Trinket cried after him. But the old man was already running full pelt out towards the hall. A Ghost?

那老者一奔出,就此无声无息,既不闻叱骂打斗之声,连脚步声也听不到了。一阵冷风从门外卷进,带着不少急雨,都打在韦小宝身上。他打个冷战,想张口呼叫,却又不敢。突然间砰的一声,房门给风吹得合了转来,随即又向外弹出。这座鬼屋之中,就只剩下了韦小宝一人,当然还有不少恶鬼,随时随刻都能进房来扠死他。幸好等了许久,恶鬼始终没进来。韦小宝自己安慰:“对了!恶鬼只害大人,决不害小孩。或许他们吃了许多人,已经吃饱了。一等天亮,那就好了!”突然间又是一阵冷风吹进,烛火一暗而灭。韦小宝大叫一声,觉得房中已多了一鬼。他知道那鬼便站在自己面前,虽然暗中瞧不见,可是清清楚楚的觉得那鬼便在那里。
There was no sound of fighting. Trinket could hear no footsteps. A cold wind came curling in from the courtyard, blowing the rain in with it. Trinket shivered, and was about to cry out, but thought better of it. The wind blew the door shut, then blew it open again. So there he was, still incapable of movement, and all alone in a haunted room—alone, that is, apart from the multitude of horrors lurking outside, the horde of vicious ghosts waiting to burst in on him and take his life. But minutes went by, and still there was no onslaught. Trinket comforted himself with the thought that they probably only ate grown-ups, and must have eaten their fill already by now. If only the dawn would come! Suddenly a gust of wind blew out the last remaining candles and Trinket was plunged in total darkness. He let out a great cry. Now he could feel it, without any doubt. There was a ghost in the room. It was standing there right in front of him. He couldn’t actually see anything. But he was positive it was there.

韦小宝结结巴巴的道:“喂,喂,你不用害我,我……我也是鬼,咱们是自己人!不,不……咱们大家都是鬼,都是自己鬼,你……你害我也没用。”那鬼冷冷的道:“你不必害怕,我不会害你。”是个女鬼的声音。
‘Don’t hurt me!’ he babbled. ‘I’m a ghost too! We’re two of a kind! We’re all ghosts! Why would you want to harm me!’ The ghost spoke, calmly, with a woman’s voice. There’s no need to be afraid,’ it said. ‘I’m not going to hurt you.’

韦小宝听了这十个字,精神为之一振,道:“你说过不害我,就不能害我。大丈夫言出如山,再害我就不对了。”那鬼冷冷的道:“我不是鬼,也不是大丈夫。我问你,朝中做大官的那个鳌拜,真是你杀的么?”韦小宝道:“你当真不是鬼?你是鳌拜的仇人,还是朋友?”
Her words put fresh spirit into Trinket. ‘Don’t worry,’ the voice went on. ‘I’m not a ghost. Tell me, are you truly the one who killed Oboi, the great Manchu minister?’ ‘Are you sure you’re not a ghost?’ stammered Trinket. ‘Are you Oboi’s friend, or his enemy?’

他问了这句话后,对方一言不发。韦小宝一时拿不定主意,对方如是鳌拜的仇人或“仇鬼”,直认其事自然甚妙,但如是鳌拜的亲人或“亲鬼”,自己认了岂不糟糕之极?突然之间,赌徒性子发作,心想:“是大是小,总得押上一宝。押得对,她当我是大老爷。押得不对,连性命也输光便是!”大声说道:“他妈的,鳌拜是老子杀的,你要怎样?老子一刀从他背心戳了进去,他就见阎王去了。你要报仇,尽管动手,老子皱一皱眉头,不算英雄好汉。”
His question received no reply. Trinket could not make up his mind whether it would be safer to admit to killing Oboi, or to deny all responsibility for it. It depended. In the end, his gambler’s instinct took over. Tamardy!’ he cried. ‘Yes, ,’ did it! ,’ killed Oboi! I stuck my knife in his back! Well? What are you going to do to me now?’

那女子冷冷的问道:“你为什么要杀鳌拜?”韦小宝心想:“你如是鳌拜的朋友,我就把事情推在皇帝身上,一般无用,你也决计不会饶我。我这一宝既然押了,老子输要输得干净,赢也赢个十足。”大声道:“鳌拜害死了天下无数好百姓,老子年纪虽小,却也是气在心里。偏巧他得罪皇帝,我就乘机把他杀了。大丈夫一身做事一身当。我跟你说,就算鳌拜这狗贼不得罪皇帝,我也要找机会暗中下手,给天下受苦受难的百姓报仇雪恨。”这句话是从天地会青木堂那些人嘴里学来的。其实他杀鳌拜,只是奉了康熙之命,跟“为天下百姓报仇雪恨”云云,可沾不上半点边儿。
‘Why did you do it?’ The same quiet woman’s voice. Once again, Trinket decided to venture all. If this was Oboi’s friend, even if Trinket laid the ultimate responsibility for Oboi’s death at the Emperor’s door (which was the truth), it would not save him. ‘Oboi did terrible things to the common people, he treated them cruelly, he took their lives. When he offended the Emperor, I saw my chance and killed him. I wanted to avenge all the innocent people he had wronged!’ He vaguely remembered what the Triads had said about Oboi. In actual fact, it had been entirely the Emperor’s idea to kill Oboi. But so what!

他说了这番话后,面前那女人默然不语,韦小宝心中怦怦乱跳,可不知这一宝押对了还是错了。过了好一会,只觉微微风响,这女人还不知是否女鬼已飘然出房。韦小宝身子摇了几下,但穴道被点,动弹不得,心道:“他妈的,骰子是摇了,却不揭盅,可不是大大的吊人胃口?”先前他一时冲动,心想大赌一场,输赢都不在乎,但此刻静了下来,越想越觉刚才跟自己说话的是鬼而不是人。她是女鬼,鳌拜是男鬼,两个鬼多半有点儿不三不四,他们俩才是“自己鬼”,跟我韦小宝是“对头鬼”,这可大大的不对头了。两扇门被凤吹得砰嘭作响,身上衣衫未干,冷风一阵阵刮来,忍不住发抖。
The woman before him stood there in silence. Trinket’s heart was thumping. He had no idea if his gamble was going to pay off. He felt a faint breeze, and the woman—or was she really a ghost after all?—flitted out of the room, leaving Trinket standing there, rooted to the spot, his clammy shirt sticking to his body. His points were still closed. He was incapable of movement. The door blew open and flapped noisily. Trinket shivered in the cold gusts of wind.

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