The Deer And The Cauldron 19

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The Deer And The Cauldron 19
第十九回 九州聚铁铸一字 百金立木招群魔

注:唐末罗绍威取魏博镇,将其五千精兵尽数杀死,事后深为懊悔,自知是极大错误,说:“合六州四十三县铁,不能为此错也。”王莽时钱币以铜铁铸作刀形,刀上文字镀以黄金,称为“错刀”。罗绍威以错刀之“错”喻错误之“错”,此错之大,聚天下之铁,也难以铸成。战国时秦国商鞍变法,法令初颂时恐人民不遵,立三丈之木于南门,宣称若能搬出北门者赏五十金,众皆不信。有一人试行搬木,商鞍果然依令照赏,于是人人皆信其法。商鞍立法严峻,民不敢违。

“九州聚铁铸一字”,此“一字”为一个大“错”字,本书借用以喻韦小宝受骗赴神龙岛,悔之莫及。“百金立木招群魔”句,本书用以喻神龙教教主先以甜头招人归附,然后施行严刑峻法,部勒教众。

Chapter 14-In which Trinket travels to Snake Island, and is initiated into the Sect of the Mystic Dragon

An Ambush, and a Journey to the Sea-Snake IslandDoctor lu-Improvisations on a Tadpole Theme-A Summons-The Great Leader-Madame Hong and the Dragon Marshals-Mutiny on Snake Island-Trinket to the Rescue-Trinket the White “Dragon Marshal-The Five Dragon Disc-Three Beauties and Three Heroes-Leopard Embryo Pills

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An Ambush, and a Journey to the Sea

十八少林僧和韦小宝、双儿二人下得锦绣峰来。澄心将经书还给韦小宝,问道:“施主是不是即回北京?”韦小宝道:“是。”澄心道:“我们受玉林大师之嘱,护送施主平安回京。”韦小宝喜道:“那好极啦。我正担心这瘦竹篙般的头陀死心不息,又来啰唣。可是众位和我同行,行痴大师有人保护么?”澄心道:“施主放心,玉林大师另有安排。”
The Eighteen Lohans accompanied Trinket and Doublet down the mountain. ‘Will you be going back to Peking immediately Mr Wei?’ asked Brother Cordial, handing the Sutra to Trinket. He added: ‘We’ve been asked by Venerable Yulin to act as your bodyguards on the way there.’ Trinket was delighted. ‘Excellent! I was just worrying what old Bones was going to try on me next. But if all of you come with me, who’ll be left to protect Brother Wayward?’ ‘Don’t worry about that, Mr Wei. Venerable Yulin has seen to that.’

韦小宝这时对玉林这老和尚已十分佩服,他闭目打坐,似乎天塌下来也不理,可是不动声色,暗中一切已布置得妥妥贴贴。既有少林十八罗汉护送,一路之上自是没半点凶险,那身材高瘦的胖头陀固然没现身,连其余武林中人物也没撞见一个。不一日来到北京城外,十八少林僧和韦小宝行礼作别。澄心道:“施主已抵京城,老僧等告辞回寺。”韦小宝道:“众位大和尚,承你们不怕辛苦,一直送我到这里,我……我实在是感激不尽,请受我一拜。”说着跪下磕头。澄心忙伸手扶起,说道:“施主一路之上,善加接待,我们从山西到北京,乃是游山玩水,何辛苦之有?”
Trinket was beginning to be rather impressed by Venerable Yulin. On the surface the old recluse seemed totally obsessed with Zen, to the exclusion of everything else. Even if the sky fell down all around him, it looked as though he would just carry on sitting there meditating with his eyes firmly closed. But all the while he was quietly taking care of things. With their Lohan escort, Trinket and party encountered no further danger on their journey, and saw no more of Bag-of-Bones, nor of any other roving outlaw for that matter. Within a few days, they arrived at the outskirts of Peking, and there the Lohans took their leave. ‘Now that you’re in Peking, we must return to Shaolin,’ said Brother Cordial. ‘Brothers,’ began Trinket, sinking to his knees and kowtowing to the monks. ‘It… it was very kind of you to come with me all this way.’ Brother Cordial hurriedly reached out his hands to help him up. ‘Say nothing of it, Mr Wei! Actually, thanks to you, this has been a most pleasant journey for us all.’

原来韦小宝一下五台山,便雇了十九辆大车,自己与双儿坐一辆,十八位少林僧各坐一辆,又命于八快马先行,早一日打前站,沿途定好客店,预备名茶、细点、素斋,无不极尽丰盛。每一处地方韦小宝大撒赏金,掌柜和店伙将十八位少林僧当作天神菩萨一般相待。少林僧清苦修持,原也不贪图这些饮食之欲,但见他相敬之意甚诚,自不免颇为喜悦。
On the way down from Wutai, Trinket had hired nineteen mule-carts, one for Doublet and himself, and one for each of the Eighteen Lohans. He had instructed Wurtle to ride on ahead at full speed, so as to arrive at each of their stopping places a day in advance of the main party and arrange accommodation, tea, dimsums, and vegetable dishes for them all. No expense was to be spared. In every place they passed through, thanks to Trinket’s foresight (and lavish tipping), the innkeepers and waiters treated the Eighteen Lohans like living Buddhas. Shaolin monks normally led very simple, austere lives, having transcended all desire for the good things of life; but on this occasion the Lohans could not help feeling gratified at the lengths to which Trinket had gone to ensure that they were treated with respect.

韦小宝虽然油腔滑调,言不由衷,但生性极爱朋友,和人结交,倒是一番真心。这一路上和众僧谈谈说说,很是相得,陡然说要分手,心中一酸,不禁掉下泪来。澄心道:“善哉,善哉!小施主何必难过?他日若有缘法,请到少林寺来叙叙。”韦小宝哽咽道:“那是一定要来的。”澄心和众僧作别而去。
As for Trinket, he was an incorrigible talker, and once he got going there was no stopping him. But he also genuinely enjoyed making new friends, and giving them a good time. During the journey, he had many a pleasant conversation with the monks, and hit it off with them wonderfully well, with the result that when the time came for them to part, he was genuinely sad, and tears ran down his cheeks. There is no need to be so upset, my boy’ said Brother Cordial. ‘One day when you have a chance, you must come and visit us at the Shaolin Monastery.’ ‘Yes, I must!’ sobbed Trinket. Brother Cordial and the other monks cupped their hands together, and made their farewells.

进得北京城时,天色已晚,不便进宫。韦小宝来到西直门一家大客店“如归客栈”,要了间上房,歇宿一宵后,明日去见康熙,奏明一切。寻思:“那瘦得要命的胖头陀拚命想夺我这部经书,说不定暗中还跟随着我。十八位少林和尚既去,他再来下手抢夺,我和双儿可抵挡不了。还是麻烦着一点儿,先将经书藏得好好的,明儿到宫里去带领大队侍卫来取,呈给小皇帝,这叫做‘万失一无’!”
By the time Trinket and his two remaining companions entered the city, it was too late to return to the Palace. Instead Trinket went to rather a grand hostelry called The Happy Return, just inside the West Straight Gate, and there he rented an upper room, planning to stay overnight before reporting to Kang Xi the next day. Tat Dhuta is obviously desperate to get hold of my Sutra,’ he thought to himself, ‘and he may have trailed me here. Without the Eighteen Lohans to protect us, Doublet and I wouldn’t stand a chance. I’d better hide the Sutra for the time being. Tomorrow I can come back for it with an escort of guards, and take it to His Majesty. That sounds like a pretty foolproof plan!’

于是命于八买备应用物事,遣出双儿,闩上了门。关窗之前,先查明窗外并无胖头陀窥探,这才用油布将那部《四十二章经》包好,拉开桌子,取出匕首,在桌子底下的砖墙上割了一洞。那匕首削铁如泥,剖砖自是毫不费力。将经书放入墙洞,堆好砖块,取水化开石灰,糊上砖缝。石灰干后,若非故意去寻,决计不会发现。
He despatched Wurtle to buy some necessities and sent Doublet out of the room as well, shutting the door behind her. He looked around carefully outside to make sure that Fat Dhuta was not lurking anywhere, and closed the windows. Then he wrapped the Sutra in oilskin, moved the table away from the wall, and took out his dagger. Prising a brick from the wall where the table had stood, he slid the package into the hollow, replaced the brick, and resealed it as best he could. When he’d finished, his handiwork was barely noticeable.

次日一早,命于八去套车,要先带双儿去吃一餐丰盛早点,摆摆阔绰,让这小丫头大开眼界,然后去买套太监衣帽,再进宫去。市上要买太监衣帽,倒着实为难,如果买不到手,索性便穿上侍卫服色,再赶做一件黄马褂套上,那时候威风凛凛、大摇大摆的进宫,叫众侍卫、众太监瞧得目瞪口呆,岂不有趣?自己这御前侍卫副总管是皇上亲封,又不是假的?心道:“就是这个主意,还做什么劳什子的太监?老子穿黄马褂进宫便了。”和双儿上了骡车,弯了舌头,满口京腔,说道:“咱们先去西单老魁星馆,那儿的炸羊尾、羊肉饺子,还对付着可以。”
Early the next morning, Trinket sent Wurtle off to prepare their mule-cart. Trinket was feeling extremely pleased with himself at the successful completion of his Wutai duties, and in a mood for celebration. He thought he would take Doublet out for a slap-up breakfast, and then swagger into the Palace in style, wearing his guard’s uniform, with his Yellow Jacket on top. He could already picture the look on the other guards’ faces! Climbing onto the cart with Doublet and Wurtle, he addressed the driver in the convincing Peking brogue he had by now mastered. ‘First of all, take us to the Polestar Inn in Xidan. They do a first-rate fried lamb’s tail there,’ he added for Doublet’s benefit, ‘and their mutton dumplings are delicious.’

车夫恭恭敬敬的应道:“是!”于八挺直腰板,坐在车夫之侧,说道:“嘿,京城里连骡子也与众不同,这么大眼漆黑的叫骡,我们山西通省就找不出一头来。”韦小宝功成回京,心下说不出的得意。那骡车行得一阵,忽然出了西直门。韦小宝道:“喂,是去西单哪,怎么出了城?”车夫道:“是,对不起哪,大爷!小人这口骡子有股倔脾气,走到了城门口,非得出城门去溜个圈儿不可。”韦小宝和双儿都笑了起来。于八道:“嘿,京城里连骡子也有官架子。”大车出城后径往北行,走了一里有余,仍不回头,韦小宝心知事有蹊跷,喝道:“赶车的,你捣什么鬼?快回去!”车夫连声答应,大叫:“回头,得儿,得儿,呼,呼!得儿,转回头!”鞭子劈拍乱挥,骡子却一股劲儿的往北,越奔越快。车夫破口大骂:“他妈的臭骡子,我叫你回头!得儿,停住,停住!你奶奶的王八蛋骡子!”他越叫越急,那骡子却哪里肯停?
‘Yes, sir,’ replied the driver respectfully. The next thing he knew, the mule-cart was heading out through the West Straight Gate. ‘Hey, I said go to Xidan!’ cried Trinket. ‘What are we doing heading out of the city?’ ‘I’m really sorry, sir!’ apologized the driver. ‘My mule’s got this strange habit: the moment he sees the Gate, he wants to go for a little trot outside the walls. There’s no stopping him!’ Trinket and Doublet burst out laughing. The cart headed north after leaving the Gate, and continued for nearly half a mile without showing the slightest sign of stopping or turning back. Trinket grew more and more suspicious. ‘What the hell are you playing at?’ he shouted at the driver. ‘Turn around and go back!’ ‘Yes sir, yes sir, I’m trying my best!’ answered the man, making a great show of wheeling his mule around, and waving his whip wildly in the air. But the mule just kept on hurtling northwards, getting faster all the time. Turn round, you smelly creature!’ shouted the driver. ‘Whoa there! Stop, you stinking pile of tamardy dung!’

便在此时,马蹄声响,两乘马从旁抢了上来,贴到骡车之旁。马上乘客是两名身材魁梧的汉子。韦小宝低声道:“动手!”双儿身子前探,伸指戳出,正中车夫后腰。他身子一晃,从车上摔了下去,大叫一声,给车旁马匹踹个正着。马上汉子飞身而起,坐在车夫位上。双儿又是伸指戳去。这人反手抓她手腕,双儿手掌翻过,拍向他面门。那汉子左掌格开,右手抓她肩头。两人拆了八九招,骡子仍是发足急奔。
At this very moment, they heard the sound of hooves approaching fast, and two massively built horsemen came galloping up behind them, closing in on the cart from both sides. ‘Now!’ Trinket whispered to Doublet, who instantly leaned forward, and dug a finger into the small of the driver’s back. The man immediately toppled over, and fell from the cart. He let out a cry of pain as the horse galloping up on that side of the cart trampled him into the dust. One of the riders now jumped from his horse and. took the driver’s seat. Doublet repeated her previous maneuver, poking him in the small of his back, but this man responded by grabbing her wrist. Doublet twisted her palm and struck him in the face, but the man fended off her attack with his left hand, seizing her shoulder with his right. They exchanged some eight or nine such moves as the mule-cart continued to career forwards.

左边马上乘客叫道:“怎么啦?闹什么玩意儿?”砰的一声响,车上汉子胸口被双儿右掌击中,飞身跌出。另一名汉子提鞭击来。双儿伸手抓住鞭子,顺手缠在车上。骡车正向前奔,急拉之下,那汉子立时摔下马来,急忙撒手松鞭,哇哇大叫。双儿拿起骡子缰绳,她不会赶车,交在于八手里,说道:“你来赶车。”于八道:“我这个……我……也不会。”韦小宝跃上车夫座位,接过缰绳,他也不会赶车,学着车夫“得儿,得儿”的叫了几声,左手松缰,右手紧缰,便如骑马一般,那骡子果然转过头来,又哪里有什么倔脾气了?
‘What’s up?’ the other rider yelled from the left. Doublet lashed out with her right palm, struck her man on the chest, and threw him flying out of the cart. The man on horseback cracked his whip at Doublet, who grabbed the end of the whip and lashed it to the cart, which was still rolling along at full speed. The man was instantly dragged screaming from his horse, and forced to let go of his whip. Doublet had no idea how to drive a mule-cart. She passed the reins to Wurtle, and asked him to bring the cart under control. But this was a mule with a mind of its own, and he was no better at controlling it than she was. Trinket now jumped into the driver’s seat, seized the reins and yelled to the mule, mimicking the driver’s tone of voice. He applied what little basic technique he had learned from horse riding, loosening the left rein and tightening the right. The mule wheeled round obediently.

只听得马蹄声响,又有十几乘马赶来,韦小宝大惊,拉骡子往斜路上冲去。追骑拨转马头,在后急跟。马快车慢,不多时,十余骑便将骡车团团围住。韦小宝见马上汉子各持兵刃,叫道:“青天白日,天子脚下,你们想拦路抢劫吗?”一名汉子笑道:“我们是请客的使者,不是打劫的强盗。韦公子,我家主人请你去喝杯酒!”
At this moment Trinket heard the thunder of hooves up ahead, and saw a party of some dozen horsemen come riding towards them. He tugged frantically on the reins, steering the mule off the road and down the slope to the right. The horsemen chased after him. A horse can easily outstrip a mule, and in a minute or two the cart was completely surrounded. ‘What’s going on?’ shouted Trinket, observing that the riders were all armed. ‘Is this a hold-up?’ ‘No, we’re not robbers! We are here to deliver an invitation,’ said one of riders, with a smarmy smile. ‘Mr Wei, we have orders to invite you for a drink.’

韦小宝一怔,问道:“你们主人是谁?”那汉子道:“公子见了,自然认得。我们主人如不是公子的朋友,怎么请你去喝酒?”韦小宝见这些人古里古怪,多半不怀好意,叫道:“哪有这么请客的?劳驾,让道罢!”另一名大汉笑道:“让道便让道!”手起一刀,将骡头斩落,骡尸一歪,倒在地下,将骡车也带倒了。韦小宝和双儿急跃下地。双儿出手如风,只是敌人骑在马上,她身子又矮,打不到敌人,一指指接连戳去,不是戳瞎了马眼,便戳中敌人腿上的穴道。
Trinket’s first reaction was a stunned silence. Then he asked: ‘Who from?’ ‘You’ll find out soon enough. A friend of yours, of course!’ Trinket found these strangers and their ‘invitation’ highly suspicious. ‘Out of our way!’ he shouted. ‘As you wish!’ cried another of the riders. Even as he spoke, he raised his sword, and swung it downwards with all his might, chopping clean through the mule’s neck. The headless beast collapsed to one side, dragging the cart down with it. Trinket and Doublet leapt to the ground, and Doublet flew into the attack, flailing around her like the wind. She was too small to reach the bodies of her enemies, but she poked very effectively at their horses’ eyes and began jabbing the Vital Points on the riders’ legs.

一霎时人喧马嘶,乱成一团。几名汉子跃下马来,挥刀上前。双儿身手灵活之极,指东打西,打倒了七八名汉子。余下四五人面面相觑,不知如何是好。大道上一辆小车疾驰而来,车中一个女子声音叫道:“是自己人,别动手!”韦小宝一听到声音,心花怒放,叫道:“啊哈!我老婆来了!”
The riders were soon thrown into utter confusion and the place echoed with the sounds of men shouting and horses neighing. Several of the men dismounted, and ran forward with swords drawn. Doublet responded with phenomenal speed, and in no time seven or eight of them were lying dead on the ground. The rest of the riders, about four or five, observed this girl’s devastating kungfu with utter astonishment and were wondering what on earth to do next, when suddenly they saw another cart approaching at a fast trot down the road, and heard a woman’s voice cry out from within it: ‘Stop! Lay down your arms! We should all be friends here!’ Trinket recognized the voice at once. ‘Ha!’ he cried, beside himself with joy. There comes my wife!’

双儿和众汉子当即停手罢斗。双儿大为惊疑,她可全没料到这位相公已娶了少奶奶。其时盛行早婚,男子十四五岁娶妻司空见惯,只是韦小宝从没向她说过已有妻子。小车驶别跟前,车中跃出一人,正是方怡。
Doublet and the surviving men instantly stopped fighting. Doublet was greatly perplexed to hear her master referring to his wife. He had certainly never said anything about being married, although it was quite common at that time for young men to get married at the age of fourteen or fifteen. The cart stopped in front of them, and out jumped—Fang Yi.

韦小宝满脸堆欢,迎上去拉住她手,说道:“好姊姊,我想死你啦,你去了哪里?”方怡微笑道:“慢慢再说。怎么你们打起架来?”眼见地下躺了多人,骡血洒了满地,颇感惊诧。一名汉子躬身道:“方姑娘,我们来邀请韦公子去喝酒,想是大伙儿礼数不周,得罪了公子。方姑娘亲自来请,再好也没有了。”方怡奇道:“这些人都是你打倒的?你武功可大进了啊。”韦小宝道:“要长进也没这么快,是双儿姑娘为了保护我,小显身手。”
Trinket beamed at her happily, stepped forward, and took her by the hand. ‘Dearest sister, I’ve missed you so much. Where have you been?’ ‘Let’s talk later,’ said Fang Yi, shocked to see the tangled pile of dead bodies on the ground, and the blood streaming from the beheaded mule. ‘How did this happen?’ ‘Miss Fang,’ said one of the riders, bowing to her, ‘we delivered the invitation as instructed, but I’m afraid we must have somehow offended Mr Wei.’ Fang Yi turned to Trinket. ‘Did you really get the better of all these men? Your kungfu must have improved enormously since I last saw you.’ ‘Hardly,’ replied Trinket. ‘It was Doublet. She saved me. She killed them all.’

方怡眼望双儿,见她不过十四五岁年纪,一副娇怯怯的模样,真不信她武功如此高强,问道:“妹妹贵姓?”她在庄家之时,和双儿并未朝相,是以二人互不相识。双儿上前跪下磕头,说道:“婢子双儿,叩见少奶奶。”韦小宝哈哈大笑。方怡羞得满脸通红,急忙闪身,道:“你……你叫我甚么?我……我……不是的。”双儿站起身来,道:“相公说你是他的夫人,婢子服侍相公,自然叫你少奶奶了。”方怡向韦小宝狠狠白了一眼,说道:“这人满嘴胡说八道,莫信他的。你服侍他多久了?难道不知他脾气么?我是方姑娘。”
Fang Yi took a good look at this Doublet. She found it hard to believe that such a delicate, bashful-looking girl of fourteen or so could be a brilliant fighter. Tell me, little sister, what’s your name?’ ‘Mistress,’ answered Doublet, sinking to her knees, ‘I’m your maid Doublet.’ Trinket burst out laughing. Fang Yi flushed. ‘What. . . what did you call me?’ Doublet stood up. ‘My master said you were his wife. Since I’m his maid, naturally you’re my mistress.’ ‘Don’t go believing what he says,’ said Fang Yi, shooting Trinket a fierce glance. ‘He just blurts out the first thing that comes into his head. How long have you been serving him? Surely you know his ways by now! Anyway, you can just call me Miss Fang.’

双儿微微一笑,道:“那么现下暂且不叫,日后再叫好了。”方怡道:“日后再叫甚……”脸上又是一红,将最后一个“么”字缩了回去。双儿向韦小宝瞧去,见他一副得意洋洋的神情,突然之间,她也是满脸飞红,却是想起了在五台山上,他曾对胖头陀说自己是他老婆,原来他有个脾气,爱管年轻姑娘叫老婆。待听他笑着又问:“我那小老婆呢?”双儿也就不以为异。方怡又白了他一眼,道:“分别了这么久,一见面也不说正经的,尽耍贫嘴。”当即吩咐众汉子收拾动身。那些汉子给点了穴道,动弹不得,由双儿一一解开。韦小宝笑道:“早知是你请我去喝酒,恨不得背上生两只翅膀,飞过来啦。”方怡又白了他一眼,道:“你早忘了我,自然想不到是我请你。”
Doublet smiled. She glanced at Trinket. He was looking so proud and happy. She recalled the scene on Wutai, when he had told Fat Dhuta that she was his wife. Apparently he made a habit of calling young girls his wives. … A flush stole over her cheeks. ‘All this time we’ve been apart, and you’re as silly as ever!’ said Fang Yi, shooting another look at Trinket, and ordering her men to prepare themselves to set off again. Doublet opened their Vital Points for them one by one. ‘If I’d known the invitation was from you,’ said Trinket with a smile, ‘I’d have flown to your side.’ Fang Yi gave him a supercilious glance. ‘I hardly think so,’ she said. ‘You’d obviously forgotten all about me.’

韦小宝心中甜甜的,道:“我怎会有一刻忘了你?早知是你叫我啊,别说喝酒,就是喝马尿,喝毒药,那也是随传随到,没片刻停留。”方怡一双妙目凝视着他,道:“别说得这么好听,要是我请你去天涯海角喝毒药呢?”韦小宝见她说话时似笑非笑,朝日映照下艳丽难言,只觉全身暖洋洋地,道:“别说天涯海角,就是上刀山,下油锅,我也去了。”方怡道:“好,大丈夫一言既出,甚么马难追。”韦小宝一拍胸膛,大声道:“大丈夫一言既出,甚么马难追。”两人同时大笑。
‘How could I?’ Trinket began to wax sentimental: ‘How could I forget you for a single moment? If I’d known it was you, I’d have gone in a flash! You could have poured horse-piss or poison in my cup!’ ‘Flattery will get you nowhere!’ said Fang Yi, fixing her fine eyes on him. Try and be serious for a moment. Suppose I were to invite you to come with me to the ends of the earth—and then drink poison? Would you really accept?’ A faint smile played on her lips. Trinket gazed at her. Standing there bathed in the rays of the morning sun, she seemed to him an indescribable, adorable vision of beauty. His whole body tingled with a feeling of warmth. He was glowing. ‘Of course!’ he said. ‘If you asked me to climb the Mountain of Knives, or throw myself into a wok of boiling oil, I’d do it—for you!’ ‘Your word is still your wand?’ ‘Wizard Trinket at your service!’ cried Trinket loudly, slapping himself on the chest. The two of them burst out laughing.

方怡命人牵一匹马给韦小宝骑,让双儿坐了她的小车,自己乘马和韦小宝并骑而行,迎着朝阳缓缓驰去,众汉子随后跟来。方怡道:“你本事也真大,掉了什么枪花,收了一个武功这等了得的小丫头?”韦小宝笑道:“哪里掉什么枪花了?是她心甘情愿跟我的。”韦小宝跟着问起沐剑屏、徐天川等人行踪,道:“在那鬼屋里,你给神龙教那批家伙擒住了,后来怎生脱险的?是庄家三少奶请人来救了你们的吗?”方怡问道:“谁是庄家三少奶?”韦小宝道:“便是那庄子的主人。”
Telling Doublet to drive her cart, Fang Yi got horses for Trinket and herself and they set off together, riding side by side. And so they headed slowly eastwards, with her surviving men following behind. As they rode, Trinket asked after the Little Countess, Brother Xu, and the rest of their party. When we were separated, in the haunted house, how did you manage to get away from those Mystic Dragons? Were you saved by Widow Zhuang?’ ‘Who’s she?’ The lady of the haunted house.’

方怡摇摇头,道:“庄子的主人?我们一直没见到。神龙教要找的是你,他们对你也没恶意,那章老三找你不到,就放了我们。小郡主他们就在前面,不久就会见到。”转过头来,微有嗔色,道:“你心中惦记的就只是小郡主,见面只这一会,已连问了七八次。”韦小宝笑道:“几时问了七八次啊?真是冤枉。倘若我见到她,没见到你,这时候我早问了七八十次啦。”方怡微笑道:“你就是生了十张嘴巴,这一会儿也来不及问七八十次。不过你啊,一张嘴巴比十张嘴巴还要厉害。”
‘The lady of the house? We never even saw her,’ replied Fang Yi, shaking her head. The Mystic Dragons were after you, but they didn’t really mean to hurt you. As soon as they lost track of you, they set us free. The Little Countess and the others are a short distance ahead of us. You’ll be seeing them soon.’ As she said this she turned to look at Trinket, with a cross little frown. That’s the seventh time you’ve asked about her. All you seem to care about is the Little Countess.’ That’s not true,’ Trinket defended himself smilingly ‘If she’d been here in your place, I’d have asked her about you at least seventy times.’ ‘You’d have needed ten mouths to do that,’ replied Fang Yi flippantly. ‘But then perhaps not: you probably do more talking than ten people put together.’

两人谈谈说说,不多时已走了十余里,早绕过了北京城,一直是向东而行。韦小宝道:“快到了吗?”方怡愠道:“还远得很呢!你牵记小郡主,也不用这么性急,早知你这样,让她来接你好得多了,也免得你牵肚挂肠的。”韦小宝伸了舌头,道:“以后我一句话也不问就是。”方怡道:“你嘴上不问,心里着急,更加惹人生气。”她似乎醋意甚浓,韦小宝越听越高兴,笑道:“倘若我心里有半分着急,我不是你老公,是你儿子。”方怡噗哧一笑,道:“乖……”脸上一红,下面“儿子”两字没说出口。
They travelled three or four miles in this fashion, skirting the northern walls of the city, and then heading due east away from Peking. ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ asked Trinket. ‘No, we’ve still got a long way to go! Stop being so impatient!’ said Fang Yi with more than a hint of anger in her voice. ‘If I’d known you were pining for her so much, I’d have asked her to come and collect you instead of me.’ Til never mention her ever again!’ declared Trinket, sticking out his tongue. ‘You may not mention her, but you’ll be thinking about her all the same!’ cried Fang Yi. ‘And that’ll make me even crosser!’ She was beginning to sound extremely jealous. Trinket found it highly amusing.

行到中午时分,在镇上打了尖,一行人又向东行。韦小宝不敢再问要去何处,眼看离北京已远,今日已无法赶回宫里去见康熙,心想:“反正小玄子又没限我何时回报,就算我在五台山多耽搁了,又或者给胖头陀擒住不放,迟几日回宫,却有何妨?”
At midday they stopped for some refreshment in a little county town, then set forth again, still heading east. This time Trinket dared not even ask where they were going. He only knew that they were by now a long way from Peking, and that it would be out of the question for him to see Kang Xi that day. ‘Anyway,’ he thought to himself, ‘Misty didn’t set a deadline for my return. For all he knows, I might have stayed on at Wutai for a few more days, or been carried off by Fat Dhuta.’

一路上方怡跟他尽说些不相干的闲话。当日在皇宫之中,两人虽同处一室,但多了个沐剑屏,方怡颇为矜持,此刻并骑徐行,却是笑语殷勤。余人甚是识趣,远远落在后面。韦小宝情窦初开,在皇宫中时叫她“老婆”,还是玩笑占了六成,轻薄讨便宜占了三成,只有一成才有隐隐约约的男女之意。此日别后重逢,见方怡一时轻嗔薄怒,一时柔语浅笑,不由得动情,见她骑了大半日马,双颊红晕,渗出细细的汗珠,说不出的娇美可爱,呆呆的瞧着,不由得痴了。
As they travelled, he and Fang Yi chatted on every subject under the sun. In the Palace, they’d been closeted together in the same room, but the Little Countess had always been with them, which had cramped their style, and made Fang Yi rather reserved. Now, as they rode slowly along side by side (with the rest of the party tactfully lagging a long way behind them), she behaved quite differently, talking happily and smiling gaily. In the Palace, Trinket had made a big thing of calling Fang Yi his wife, but mat had been mainly to tease her. Perhaps he had been a tiny bit flirtatious. But he was only very slightly in love, if at all. Today it was different. Meeting her again, seeing once more the tantalizing expression on her face when she got angry, the delightful way she had of talking and smiling, he couldn’t help falling head over heels in love with her. After half a day’s ride, she was flushed with exertion, and tiny beads of sweat stood out on her face. Trinket found her beauty utterly bewitching. He kept staring at her, transfixed.

方怡微笑问道:“你发什么呆?”韦小宝道:“好姊姊,你……你真是好看。我想……我想……”方怡道:“你想什么?”韦小宝道:“我说了你可别生气。”方怡道:“正经的话,我不生气,不正经的,自然生气。你想什么?”韦小宝道:“我想,你倘若真的做了我老婆,我不知可有多开心。”
‘What’s the matter with you?’ asked Fang Yi lightly. ‘Dearest sister! You . . . you just look so beautiful. I think . . . I think . . .’ Think what?’ ‘Don’t get angry when I say it,’ said Trinket. ‘If you’re serious, I won’t get angry; but if you’re being silly again—’ ‘I think … if you really were to become my wife, I’d be the happiest person alive!’

方怡横了他一眼,板起了脸,转过头去。韦小宝急道:“好姊姊,你生气了么?”方怡道:“自然生气,生一百二十个气。”韦小宝道:“这话再正经也没有了,我……我是真心话。”方怡道:“在宫里时,我早发过誓,一辈子跟着你,服侍你,还有什么真的假的?你说这话,就是自己想变心。”
Fang Yi glowered coldly at him, and turned away. ‘Dear sister, what’s wrong?’ he asked anxiously. ‘Are you cross with me?’ ‘Of course I am! Very cross indeed!’ ‘But I’m being very, very serious,’ said Trinket. ‘I really mean it.’ ‘And what about me? Listen to you! Really this . . . really mat. . . . Anyone would think you were the only person in the world who mattered! What about me? Don’t I really exist? Didn’t I really mean what I said? In the Palace, I promised to serve you for the rest of life! Don’t you mink that was real?’

韦小宝大喜,若不是两人都骑在马上,立时便一把将她抱住,亲亲她娇艳欲滴的面庞,当下伸出右手,拉住她左手,道:“我怎么会变心?一千年、一万年也不变心。”方怡道:“你说这话便是假的,一个人怎会有一千年、一万年好活,除非你是乌……”说到这“乌”字,嗤的一笑,转过了头,一只手掌仍是让他握着。

韦小宝握着她柔腻温软的手掌,心花怒放,笑道:“你待我这样好,我永远不会做小乌龟。”妻子偷汉,丈夫便做乌龟,这句话方怡自也懂得。她俏脸一板,道:“没三句好话,狗嘴里就长不出象牙。”韦小宝笑道:“你嫁鸡随鸡,嫁狗随狗,这一辈子想见你老公嘴里长出象牙来,那可难得紧了。”方怡伏鞍而笑,左手紧紧握住了他手掌。两人一路说笑,傍晚时分,在一处大市镇的官店中宿了。次晨韦小宝命于八雇了一辆大车,和方怡并坐车中。
At that moment Trinket was blissfully happy. If he’d been riding on the same horse as Fang Yi, he would have squeezed her tight, and kissed her on her lovely cheek. As it was, he just took her left hand in his right. ‘I’ll be faithful to you for a thousand years, no, ten thousand years!’ ‘How could you possibly? Silly boy!’ Fang Yi gave a peal of laughter, and turned away. But she left her hand in his, and Trinket felt as if he would burst with joy-Time flew as they rode along and chattered together on their journey. That evening, they stopped at a largish country town and took lodgings for the night in an inn. The next morning, Trinket asked Wurtle (who had been keeping discreetly in the background) to hire a large cart, and now he and Fang Yi were able to sit side by side during their journey.

两人说到情浓处,韦小宝搂住她腰,吻她面庞,方怡也不抗拒,可是再有非份逾越,却一概不准了。韦小宝于男女之事,原也似懂非懂,至此为止,已是大乐。只盼这辆大车如此不停行走,坐拥玉人,走到天涯海角,回过头来,又到彼端的天涯海角,天下的道路永远行走不完,就算走完了,老路再走几遍又何妨?天天行了又宿,宿后又行,只怕方怡忽说已经到了。身处温柔乡中,什么皇帝的诏令,什么《四十二章经》,什么五台山上的老皇爷,尽数置之脑后,迷迷糊糊的不知时日之过,道路之遥。
When he talked of love, and put his arm round her waist and kissed her on the cheek, she did not resist. But she refused to allow him any further intimacy. Trinket had no first-hand experience of such tilings, and was more than satisfied with what she granted him. His only desire in life was that tiieir journey would never come to an end, and that the cart would rumble on and on to the end of the world with him sitting inside it, his arm round his fair love. The joys of sweet love had chased all thought of duty from Trinket’s mind: his Imperial commission, the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections, even the Old Emperor on the Wutai Mountains—all these tilings were quite forgotten. In his dazed state of infatuation, Trinket was oblivious of the passage of time, and of how far they had been travelling.

一日傍晚,车马到了大海之滨,方怡携着他手,走到海边,轻轻的道:“好弟弟,我和你驾船出洋,四海遨游,过神仙一般的日子,你说好是不好?”说这话时,拉着他手,将头靠在他肩头,身子软软的,似已全无气力。韦小宝伸左手搂住她腰,防她摔倒,只觉她丝丝头发擦着自己面颊,腰肢细软,微微颤动,虽想坐船出海未免太过突兀,隐隐觉得有些大大不妥,但当此情景,这一个“不”字,又如何说得出口?
One evening, their cart finally arrived at the sea. Fang Yi took him by the hand and walked with him to the shore, talking to him softiy. ‘Why don’t you and I sail across the sea? Would you like to do that? Shall we explore the world together? We could live a magical life, like a pair of immortals? What do you say?’ As she spoke, Fang Yi held his hand and rested her head softly on his shoulder, leaning on him gently. Trinket put his arm round her waist, for fear that she might fall. Her silken hair brushed against his face, he felt her slender body tremble slighdy. He was somewhat taken aback by this sudden proposal. The whole idea of setting sail and crossing the ocean struck him as decidedly dangerous. But in the circumstances, in the glowing halo of romance that enveloped them, how could he possibly say no? Snake Island

海边停着一艘大船,船上水手见到方怡的下属手挥青巾,便放了一艘小船过来,先将韦小宝和方怡接上大船,再将余人陆续接上。于八见要上船,说道自己晕船,说什么也不肯出海。韦小宝也不勉强,赏了他一百两银子。于八千恩万谢的回山西去了。
A large ship was anchored just off shore. When the sailors on board saw one of Fang Yi’s men wave a blue handkerchief, they sent a small boat to pick up first Trinket and Fang Yi, and then the rest of them. Wurtle had never seen the sea before and was convinced he’d be seasick. He begged to be left behind, and Trinket gave him a hundred taels, and sent him back happily on his way to Shanxi.

韦小宝进入船舱,只见舱内陈设富丽,脚下铺着厚厚的地毡,桌上摆满茶果细点,便如王公大官之家的花厅一般,心想:“好姊姊待我这样,总不会有意害我。”船上两名仆役拿上热手巾,让二人擦脸,随即送上两碗面来。面上铺着一条条鸡丝,入口鲜美,滋味与寻常鸡丝又是不同。只觉船身晃动,已然扬帆出海。
Once on board the ship, Trinket was taken to a luxuriously furnished cabin, fit for a prince, with a thick carpet laid on the floor and sumptuous food and drink set out on the table. A momentary doubt flickered through his mind: ‘She couldn’t be up to something, could she?’ But the thought went as quickly as it had come. At this moment, two attendants entered the cabin and handed him and Fang Yi hot towels, before serving bowls of noodles topped with slices of chicken. The chicken had an exquisite, almost other-worldly flavour. There was a sudden movement, and they knew that the ship had set sail.

舟中生涯,又别有一番天地。方怡陪着他喝酒猜拳,言笑不禁,直到深夜,服侍他上床后,才到隔舱安睡,次日一早,又来帮他穿衣梳头。韦小宝心想:“她此刻还不知我不是太监,只道我们做夫妻毕竟是假的,甚么时候才跟她说穿?”
Trinket found life on board utterly blissful. Fang Yi was by his side all day, drinking and playing ‘guess-finger’ games, chattering away with him freely until midnight, when she would see him to bed, and settle herself in the next cabin. In the morning, she would come over to help him dress and comb his hair. ‘She still thinks I’m a eunuch,’ Trinket mused to himself one day. ‘She still thinks this being together is all a sham, and that we could never be like a real married couple. I wonder when I should tell her the truth?’

舟行数日,这日两人偎倚窗边,同观海上日出,眼见海面金蛇万道,奇丽莫名。方怡叹道:“当日我去行刺鞑子皇帝,只道定然命丧宫中,哪知道老天爷保佑,竟会遇着了你,今日更同享此福。好弟弟,你的身世,我可一点也不明白,你怎么进宫,又怎样学的武功?”韦小宝笑道:“我正想跟你说,就只怕吓你一跳,又怕你欢喜得晕了过去。”
A few days later, what seemed like a perfect opportunity presented itself. They were standing together at the cabin window, watching the spectacle of the sun rising above the eastern sea, its golden beams swimming like so many sea snakes on the surface of the water. Fang Yi heaved a sigh. ‘When I went to Peking to kill the Tartar Emperor, I honestly believed it was my destiny to the there in the Palace. Then by the grace of Heaven, I met you! And now here we are, having this wonderful time together. I wish you’d tell me something about yourself, who you are, and where your family comes from. How did you end up in the Palace? Where did you learn your kungfu?’ There are a couple of things I was planning to tell you,’ replied Trinket with a slightly nervous smile. ‘But I was afraid they might come as a bit of a shock. Or else you’d be so happy you’d faint with joy!’

方怡又向他靠紧了些,低声道:“倘若我听了欢喜,那是最好,就算是我不爱听的,只要你说的是真话,那……那……我也不在乎。”韦小宝道:“好姊姊,我就跟你说真话,我出生在扬州,妈妈是妓院里的。”方怡吃了一惊,转过身来,颤声问道:“你妈妈在妓院里做事?是给人洗衣、烧饭,还是……还是扫地、斟茶?”韦小宝见她脸色大变,眼光中流露出恐惧之色,心中登时一片冰凉,知她对“妓院”十分的鄙视,倘若直说自己母亲是妓女,只怕这一生之中,她永不会再对自己有半分尊重和亲热了,当即哈哈一笑,说道:“我妈妈在妓院里时还只六七岁,怎能给人洗衣烧饭?”方怡脸色稍和,道:“还只六七岁?”
‘If I’m happy, so much the better,’ whispered Fang Yi, moving closer to him. ‘But whatever it is, just tell me the truth. I… I… I won’t mind. I promise.’ ‘In that case,’ said Trinket, I’ll tell you the whole truth. Here goes. First of all, I was born in Yangzhou. My mother worked in a whore-house.’ ‘A whore-house?’ Fang Yi started. She looked him in the eye. ‘What did she do there?’ Her voice was trembling. The washing? The cooking? The cleaning? Or perhaps she served tea? How did she end up in such a dreadful place?’ Trinket saw the horror on her face. His heart sank. If she was so appalled by the mere mention of the word ‘whore-house’, how could he possibly tell her that his mother was a whore? She would never show him any respect or love ever again. He managed a short laugh. ‘Oh, don’t get the wrong idea! My mother was only a little girl at the time. She was hardly even seven years old when she first went there.’ ‘Seven?’ asked Fang Yi, recovering her composure slightly.

韦小宝顺口道:“鞑子进关后,在扬州杀了不少人,你是知道的了?”延挨时刻,想法子给母亲说得神气些。方怡道:“是啊。”韦小宝道:“我外公是明朝大官,在扬州做官,鞑子攻破扬州,我外公抗敌而死,我妈妈那时是个小女孩,流落街头,扬州妓院里有个豪富嫖客,见她可怜,把她收去做小丫头,一问之下,好生敬重我外公,便收了我妈妈做义女,带回家去,又做千金小姐。后来嫁了我爸爸,他是扬州有名的富家公子。”方怡将信将疑,道:“原来如此。先前吓了我一跳,还道你妈妈沦落在妓院之中,给人做女佣,服侍那些不识羞耻、人尽可夫的……坏女人。”
‘Well, you see,’ Trinket continued, playing for time while he tried to work up a decent pedigree for his mother, ‘the Tartars killed so many Yangzhou people after the conquest—I’m sure you know all about the Ten Day Massacre of Yangzhou. My grandfather was an important official in Yangzhou during the Ming dynasty, and he was brave too. He died defending the city against the Tartars. My mother was just a little girl then. When he was dead she had no one to turn to, so she started roaming the streets of Yangzhou, and was taken in by this man, a kind man, a rich man, who happened to be … a customer at this whore-house. First he took her on as his little maid, then later when he found out whose child she was he adopted her as his own daughter. A few years later my mother married my father. He was from another rich Yangzhou family.’ ‘Ah, I see!’ said Fang Yi, only partially believing this rigma- role. ‘You gave me a bit of a turn at first. I thought your mother actually worked in the whore-house as some sort of servant, you know, waiting on those . . . horrible, bad women.’

韦小宝自幼在妓院中长大,从来不觉得自己妈妈是个“不识羞耻的坏女人”,听方怡这么说,不由得心中有气,暗道:“你沐王府的女人便很了不起吗?他妈的,我瞧一般的是不识羞耻、人尽可什么的。”他原想将自己身世坦然相告,这一来,可甚么都说不出口了,索性信口胡吹,将扬州自己家中如何阔绰,说了个天花乱坠,但所说的厅堂房舍、家具摆设,不免还是丽春院中的格局。方怡也没留心去听,道:“你说有一件事,怕我听了欢喜得晕了过去,就是这些么?”韦小宝给她迎头泼了一盆冷水,又见她对自己的吹牛浑没在意,不禁兴味索然,自己不是太监的话也懒得说了,随口道:“就是这些,原来你听了并不欢喜。”方怡淡淡的道:“我欢喜的。”这句话显然言不由衷。
Trinket had grown up in the whore-house, and had never thought of his own mother (or any of the other whores) as ‘horrible’ or ‘bad’. He could barely contain his anger. ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ he muttered silently to himself. ‘Tamardy! If you ask me, you snotty-nosed Mu Family girls are much worse sluts than the whores in Vernal Delights ever were!’ He had wanted to tell her the plain truth about himself, but now he was stuck with his story and had to go on to describe his father’s fabulous wealth, and the opulent decor of his family home, the details of which were in fact borrowed straight from Vernal Delights. Fang Yi still seemed unimpressed. ‘I thought you were going to tell me something to make me very happy? Surely it can’t have been that!’ Trinket’s resolution to tell her that he was a fully equipped man, not a eunuch, had quite evaporated. ‘Yes, that was it,’ he replied as casually as he could. ‘I can see you’re not happy at all.’ ‘Yes I am,’ replied Fang Yi casually, obviously not meaning it.

两人默默无言的相对片刻,忽见东北方出现一片陆地,座船正在直驶过去。方怡奇道:“咦,这是什么地方?”过不了一个时辰,已然驶近,但见岸上树木苍翠,长长的海滩望不到尽头,尽是雪白细沙。方怡道:“坐了这几日船,头也昏了,我们上去瞧瞧好不好?”韦小宝喜道:“好啊,好像是个大海岛,不知岛上有甚么好玩物事。”方怡将梢公叫进舱来,问他这岛叫甚么名字,有甚么特产。梢公道:“回姑娘的话:这是东海中有名的神仙岛,听说岛上生有仙果,吃了长生不老。只不过有福之人才吃得着。姑娘和韦相公不妨上去碰碰运气。”
After a few moments of silence, they saw land on the horizon in the north-east, the direction their ship was heading. An hour later, they were very close to the shore of an island, and they could distinguish lush green trees and an endless vista of beautiful beaches covered with fine snow-white sand. ‘We’ve been at sea so long,’ said Fang Yi. ‘And so cooped up. Shall we take a look around the island?’ Trinket agreed to this with alacrity. Fang Yi called the ship’s captain to the cabin and asked him about the island. This is the famous Fairy Island of the Eastern Sea,’ he replied. ‘People say magical fruits grow here. Anyone who eats them becomes immortal. But only the lucky few ever find them. Why don’t you and Mr Wei try your luck?’

方怡点点头,待梢公出舱,轻轻的道:“长生不老,也不想了,眼前这等日子,就比做神仙还快活。”韦小宝大喜,道:“我和你就在这岛上住一辈子,仙果什么的,也不打紧,只要你永远陪着我,我就是神仙。”方怡靠在他身边,柔声道:“我也一样。”
Fang Yi nodded. When the man had left the cabin she murmured softly to Trinket: ‘I don’t want to be immortal, or a fairy. I’m happy just being with you.’ Trinket was ecstatic. ‘Let’s spend the rest of our lives together on this island.’ ,. ‘Yes, let’s,’ whispered Fang Yi, leaning gently against him.

两人坐小船上岸,脚下踏着海滩的细沙,鼻中闻到林中飘出来的阵阵花香,真觉是到了仙境。方怡道:“不知岛上有没有人住。”韦小宝笑道:“人是没有,却有个美貌无比的女仙,带了个小厮,到岛上来啦。”方怡嫣然一笑,道:“好弟弟,你是我的小厮,我是你的丫头。”韦小宝听到“丫头”两字,想起双儿,回头一望,不见她跟来,这些日来冷落了双儿,心下微感歉疚,但想她如跟在身后,自己不便跟方怡太过亲热,还是不跟来的好。
They went ashore and walked along the fine sand. A faint scent of flowers drifted to them from the trees, as if they really had entered some fairyland. ‘I wonder if anyone lives here?’ asked Fang Yi. ‘I don’t believe so,’ replied Trinket with a smile. ‘Not until today. But now the island is inhabited by a beautiful fairy, and her obedient little servant—me!’ ‘Why couldn’t I be your maid instead?’ said Fang Yi with an enchanting smile. The word ‘maid’ instantly reminded Trinket of Doublet, who was nowhere to be seen. He felt guilty for having neglected her during the past few days; but then again, he reflected, how much harder it would have been for him to be intimate with Fang Yi, if Doublet had been there.

两人携手入林,闻到花香浓郁异常。韦小宝道:“这花香得厉害,难道是仙花么?”向前走得几步,忽听草中簌簌有声,跟着眼前黄影闪动,七八条黄中间黑的毒蛇窜了出来。韦小宝叫道:“啊哟!”拉了方怡转身便走,只跨出一步,眼前又有七八条蛇挡路,全身血也似红,长舌吞吐,嗤嗤发声。这些蛇都是头作三角,显具剧毒。
Trinket and Fang Yi walked hand in hand through the trees, and the scent of flowers grew stronger all around them. The flowers here smell so sweet,’ said Trinket. ‘Do you think they’re magical?’ He walked on among the trees, when suddenly he heard a rustling in the grass and saw something yellow moving in front of his eyes. To his horror, seven or eight yellow-and-black-striped venomous-looking snakes came slithering out of the undergrowth. ‘Aiyo!’ he cried, and, dragging Fang Yi after him, turned around and ran, only to find the path behind them blocked by another seven or eight snakes, this time blood-red in colour, hissing and sticking out their tongues. Their heads were triangular, and they looked extremely poisonous.

方怡挡在韦小宝身前,拔刀挥舞,叫道:“你快逃。我来挡住毒蛇!”韦小宝哪肯如此不顾义气,独自逃命?忙拔出匕首,道:“从这边走!”拉着方怡,斜刺奔出,跨得两步,头颈中一凉,一条毒蛇从树上挂了下来,缠住他头颈,只吓得他魂飞天外,大声惊叫。方怡忙伸手去拉蛇身。韦小宝叫道:“使不得!”那蛇转过头来。一口咬住了方怡手背,牢牢不放。韦小宝急挥匕首,将蛇斩为两段。便在此时,两人腿上脚上都已缠上了毒蛇。韦小宝挥匕首去斩,只觉左腿上一麻,已被毒蛇咬中。
Fang Yi shielded Trinket, drawing her sword and brandishing it at them. ‘Run!’ she shouted to Trinket. Til take care of the snakes!’ ‘ Trinket naturally refused to escape on his own. He drew his dagger, crying: ‘Come this way!’ He dragged her with him off to one side. After stumbling no more than a couple of steps, he felt something cold, and to his horror saw that it was a snake dangling in one of the trees, and beginning to coil itself around his neck. He was petrified, and started shouting loudly for help. Fang Yi reached out her hand and tried to grasp the snake by its body, but it whipped round, and sunk its teeth into her arm. Trinket swung his dagger through the air, and sliced the snake in two. By now there was a huge, writhing mass of poisonous snakes entwined around their legs. Trinket continued to slice at them with his dagger, but soon he too was bitten (on his left leg), and virtually immobilized.

方怡抛去单刀,抱住了他,哭道:“我夫妻今日死在这里了。”韦小宝仗着匕首锋利,每一刀挥去,便斩断一条毒蛇。但林中毒蛇愈来愈多,两人挣扎着出林,身上已被咬伤了七八处。韦小宝只觉头晕目眩,渐渐昏迷,遥望海中,那艘小船正向大船驶去,相距已远。方怡叫了几声,船中水手却哪里听得到?方怡卷起韦小宝裤脚,俯身去吸他腿上蛇毒。韦小宝惊道:“不……不行!”
Fang Yi threw her sword to the ground, and held him tightly. ‘We shall die here together!’ she sobbed. With his sharp dagger, Trinket was able to slice through the snakes one at a time, but the more he sliced, the faster they multiplied. The two of them struggled their way out into the open, their bodies covered with snake-bites. By now Trinket was beginning to feel dizzy, and gradually he sank into an almost comatose state. Fang Yi gazed desperately out to sea, where she could see the little boat that had carried them to shore making its way back towards the large ship. She shouted to the sailors a couple of times, but they could not hear her. She rolled up Trinket’s trousers, and bent down to suck the poison from his leg. ‘No!’ gasped Trinket. ‘Don’t! You . . . mustn’t!’

忽听得身后脚步声响,有人说道:“你们到这里来干甚么?不怕死么?”韦小宝回过头来,见是三名中年汉子,忙叫:“大叔救命,我们给蛇咬了。”一名汉子从怀中取出药饼,抛入嘴中一阵咀嚼,敷在韦小宝身上蛇咬之处。韦小宝道:“你……你先给她治。”这时自己双腿乌黑,已全无知觉。方怡接过药来,自行敷上伤口。韦小宝道:“好姊姊……”眼前一黑,咕咚一声,向后摔倒。
Suddenly they heard footsteps approaching behind them. What are you doing here?’ asked a voice. ‘Are you trying to get yourselves killed?’ Trinket struggled to turn his head and saw three middle-aged men. ‘Snakes!’ he moaned. ‘We’ve been bitten! Please, I beg you, help us!’ One of the men produced a herbal substance from an inside pocket, chewed on it, and then applied it to Trinket’s wounds. Put. . . put some on her wounds first,’ stammered the barely conscious Trinket. His legs were by now black and had lost all feeling. Fang Yi took the medicine herself, and applied it to her own wounds. ‘Dearest. . .’ murmured Trinket, but before he could even finish the sentence, he lost consciousness altogether, and slumped backwards onto the ground. Doctor Lu

待得醒转,只觉唇燥舌干,胸口剧痛,忍不住张口呻吟。听得有人说道:“好啦,醒过来啦!”韦小宝缓缓睁眼,见有人拿了一碗药,喂到他嘴边。这药腥臭异常,他毫不犹豫便都喝了下去,入口奇苦,喝完药后,道:“多谢大叔救命,我……我那姊姊可没事吗?”那人道:“幸喜救得早,我们只须迟来得片刻,两个人都没命了。你们忒也大胆,怎地到这神仙岛来?”
As Trinket gradually came to, the first thing he became aware of was that his lips and tongue were parched, and that he had a bad pain in his chest. He groaned. ‘Excellent!’ exclaimed a voice. ‘He’s waking up!’ Trinket slowly opened his eyes, and saw a man preparing to feed him from a bowl full of some medicinal broth. The medicine, whatever it was, gave off a nasty stench and tasted extremely bitter, but he drank it down without hesitation, then turned to the man. Thanks for saving my life!’ he said. ‘What about. . . her? Is she all right?’ ‘She is out of danger,’ replied the man. The two of you are very lucky. If we had come any later, both of you would have died. What you did was extremely reckless. Why did you come to the island?’

韦小宝听得方怡有救,心中大喜,没口子的称谢,这时才察觉自己是睡在床上的被窝之中,全身衣服已然除去,双腿兀自麻木。那汉子相貌丑陋,满脸疤痕,但在韦小宝眼中,当真便如救命菩萨一般。他吁了口气,道:“船上水手说道,这岛上有仙果,吃了长生不老。”那汉子嘿的一笑,道:“倘若真有仙果,他们自己又不来采?”韦小宝叫道:“啊哟,这些水手不怀好意,船上我还有同伴,莫要……莫要着了歹人的道儿。大叔,请你想法子救她一救。”那丑汉道:“那船三天之前便已开了,却到哪里找去?”
Trinket was hugely comforted to learn that Fang Yi was alive and well, and thanked the man profusely. Then he became aware that he himself was lying on a bed, naked under a bedspread, and that he was quite unable to move either of his legs. The man beside the bed, administering the medicine, was a hideous sight, his face pitted with scars, but in Trinket’s eyes he was a blessed saviour. Trinket breathed a sigh of relief. ‘One of the sailors told us that there were magical fruits here on the island,’ he said, ‘and that if we ate them, we would live for ever.’ The man laughed drily. ‘I see. In that case, why didn’t they come and pick the fruits themselves?’ ‘It must have been a plot!’ cried Trinket. ‘Oh dear! One of my friends is still on board their ship. She … she may be in trouble too. Please think of some way of helping her.’ ‘The ship left three days ago, I’m afraid. It’s too late.’

韦小宝不解,茫然道:“三天之前?”那丑汉道:“你已经昏迷了三日三夜,你多半不知道罢?”韦小宝想起双儿,她虽武功极高,可是茫茫大海之中,孤身一人,如何得脱众恶徒毒手,不由得大急。那丑汉安慰道:“此时着急也已无用,你好好休息。这岛上的毒蛇非同小可,至少要服药七日,方能消毒。”他问了韦小宝姓名,自称姓潘。
‘Three days ago?’ Trinket sounded puzzled. ‘Yes. You’ve been unconscious for three whole days and nights.’ Trinket couldn’t help feeling most concerned at the thought of Doublet, all alone in the middle of the sea, at the mercy of those wicked sailors. However good a fighter she was, she would have great difficulty escaping. ‘It’s no use worrying about that now,’ urged the man. ‘You must rest. The snakes on this island are extremely poisonous. You will need at least seven days of medication to neutralize the poison inside you.’ He asked Trinket for his name, and introduced himself as Mr Pan.

到得第三日上,韦小宝已可起身,扶着墙壁慢慢行走。那姓潘的丑汉带了他去看方怡。原来她另有妇女照料,但见她玉容憔悴,精神委顿。两人相见,又是欢喜,又是难受,不由得抱着哭了起来。此后两人日间共处一室,说起毒蛇厉害,都是毛发直竖。
After another three days, Trinket was able to get up and walk slowly, propping himself against the wall. Mr Pan took him to visit Fang Yi, who was being taken care of by some women, but who still looked pale and weak. When they met, a combination of happiness and sorrow overtook them. They clung onto one another, weeping with emotion.

到得第六日上,那姓潘的说道:“我们岛上的大夫陆先生出海回来了,我已邀他来给韦兄弟看看。”韦小宝谢了。不多时进来一人,四十来岁年纪,文士打扮,神情和蔼可亲,问起韦小宝被毒蛇所噬经过,说道:“岛上居民身边都带有雄黄蛇药,就是将毒蛇放在身上,那蛇也立即逃去,决不敢咬人。”韦小宝道:“原来如此,怪不得潘大哥他们都不怕。”
On the morning of the seventh day, Mr Pan came to visit Trinket again. ‘Our doctor, Doctor Lu, has just returned to the island, and I’ve asked him to come and see you.’ Shortly afterwards, an agreeable man in his mid forties, identifiable by his dress as a member of the scholar class, entered the room, and began asking Trinket in detail about the snakebites. ‘All the inhabitants of this island are issued with a quantity of Realgar Elixir,’ explained Doctor Lu. ‘Provided you’ve taken the Elixir, it acts as an antidote. Even if a snake attacks you, it will not dare bite you but will escape instantly’ ‘I see!’ said Trinket. ‘So that’s why Mr Pan and the others weren’t afraid of the snakes.’

陆先生给他看了伤,取出六颗药丸,道:“你服三颗,另三颗给你的同伴,每日服一颗。”韦小宝深深致谢,取出二百两银票,道:“一点儿医金,请先生别见笑。”陆先生吃了一惊,笑道:“哪用得着这许多?公子给我二两银子,已多谢得很了。”韦小宝执意要给,陆先生谢了收下,笑道:“公子厚赐,却之不恭。公子在这里恐怕住得也气闷了,今晚和公子的女伴同去舍下喝一杯如何?”韦小宝大喜,一口答应。傍晚时分,陆先生派了两乘竹轿来接韦小宝和方怡。这竹轿其实只是一张竹椅,两边穿了竹杠,前后有人相抬,岛居简陋,并没真的轿子。
Doctor Lu checked his wounds and then produced six pills, three for Trinket and three for Fang Yi, one to be taken every day for three days. Trinket took out a two-hundred tael banknote, and handed it to the doctor as a token of his appreciation. At first Doctor Lu was taken aback, but Trinket insisted on his keeping the money, and in the end he did so with gratitude. Doctor Lu invited the two of them to stay at his house that night, and his invitation was joyfully accepted. That evening, Trinket and Fang Yi were fetched in two bamboo chairs, with bamboo carrying-poles along both sides—the islanders led a simple life, and did not have anything as sophisticated as a real sedan-chair.

两乘竹轿沿山溪而行,溪水淙淙,草木清新,颇感心旷神怡,只是韦方二人一见大树长草,便栗栗危惧,唯恐有毒蛇窜将出来。轿行七八里,来到三间竹屋前停下。那屋子的墙壁屋顶均由碗口大小的粗竹所编,看来甚是坚实。江南河北,均未见过如此模样的竹屋。
They were borne along the side of a stream, and the sound of gurgling water, and the sight of the lush green trees all around them, gready revived them. Their good spirits were only marred by the thought of the countless poisonous snakes that must be writhing among the great trees and tall grasses. Finally, after some two or three miles, the chairs stopped in front of three bamboo houses, their roofs and walls all solidly constructed of bamboo poles as thick as a large bowl in diameter. Nowhere, either in the regions to the south of the Yangtze River, or north of the Yellow River, had Trinket and Fang Yi ever seen houses like these.

陆先生迎了出来,请二人入内。到得厅上,一个三十余岁的妇人出来迎客,是陆先生的妻子。那妇人拉着方怡的手,显得十分亲热。陆先生邀韦小宝到书房去坐,书房中竹书架上放着不少图书,四壁挂满了字画,看来这陆大夫是个风雅之士。
Doctor Lu came out to welcome them into his house. In the living-room, a middle-aged woman came out to greet the guests. This was Doctor Lu’s wife. She held Fang Yi’s hands in hers, and spoke to her warmly. Doctor Lu invited Trinket to take a seat in his study, where the bamboo shelves were piled high with an endless array of old thread-bound books, and the walls were covered with calligraphic scrolls and paintings. It was clearly the room of a scholar and connoisseur of art.

陆先生道:“在下僻处荒岛,孤陋寡闻之极。韦公子来自中原胜地,华族子弟,眼界既宽,鉴赏必精,你看这几幅书画,还可入方家法眼么?”他这几句文绉绉的言语,韦小宝半句也不懂,但见他指着壁上字画,抬头看去,见图画中一张画的是山水,另一张画上有只白鹤,有只乌龟,笑道:“这只老乌龟倒很好玩。”
‘Residing as I do on this remote wilderness of an island, I am, alas, both ignorant and uncouth,’ declared the doctor. ‘You, Mr Wei, hailing as you do from the fertile plains of central China, proud scion of the Chinese race, are doubtless a young man of broad culture, and have a keen appreciation of calligraphy and the pictorial arts. Would you deign to glance at these humble scrolls of mine, and tell me if you think they pass muster?’ Trinket found his bookish language almost incomprehensible, but his eyes followed the doctor’s fingers as they pointed in the general direction of the scrolls. The first thing he saw was a landscape painting, then a painting of a white stork and a tortoise. He smiled. ‘Not a bad old turtle!’

陆先生微微一怔,指着一幅立轴,道:“韦公子,你瞧这幅石鼓文写得如何?”韦小宝见这些字弯弯曲曲,像是画符一般,点头道:“好,很好!”陆先生指着另一幅大字,道:“这一幅临的是秦琅玡台刻石,韦公子以为如何?”韦小宝心想一味说好,未免无味,摇头道:“这一幅写得不大好。”陆先生肃然起敬,道:“倒要请韦公子指点,这幅字的弱点败笔,在于何处。”韦小宝道:“败笔很多,胜笔甚少!”他想既有“败笔”,自然也有“胜笔”了。陆先生乍闻“胜笔”两字,呆了一呆,道:“高明,高明。”
Doctor Lu gave him a decidedly old-fashioned look. Then he indicated a vertical scroll covered in an antique style of calligraphy. ‘Mr Wei, what do you think of this example of the Stone-Drum style?’ Trinket looked at the inscription, with characters that twisted and twirled all over the paper like Taoist talismans, and nodded his approval. ‘Good, very good!’ ‘And what of this rubbing? It is one of the famous stone inscriptions from the Qin dynasty, carved on Langya Terrace,’ continued Doctor Lu, pointing to another scroll. Thinking that variety was probably a desirable feature of his performance as a connoisseur, Trinket shook his head. ‘Not quite up to scratch ‘Mr Wei, would you be so kind as to indicate for my enlightenment the outstanding faults in this inscription?’ asked Doctor Lu solemnly. ‘Not exactly outstanding faults,’ replied Trinket, thinking he’d latched onto some specialist jargon. ‘I’d say they were more instanding . . .’ Doctor Lu was appalled. He managed to murmur: ‘Brilliant, brilliant! Most. . . interesting!’

指着西壁一幅草书,道:“这幅狂草,韦公子以为如何?”韦小宝侧头看了一会,摇头道:“这几个字墨干了,也不醮墨。嗯,这些细线拖来拖去,也不擦干净了。”
He turned to another scroll written in the free Grass style. ‘How do you find this one, Mr Wei?’ Trinket cocked his head to one side and subjected the scroll to his expert appraisal. He shook his head. ‘Dreadfully dry. I can’t understand why the painter didn’t put more ink on his brush. And all those straggly lines all over the place look a real mess!’

陆先生一听,脸色大变。草书讲究墨法燥湿,笔润为湿,笔枯为燥,燥湿相间,浓淡有致,因燥显湿,以湿衬燥,阴阳映带,如云霞障天,方为妙书。至于笔画相连的细线,画家称为“游丝”,或联数笔,或联数字,讲究宾主合宜,斜角变幻,又有飘带、折带种种名色。韦小宝数言之间,便露了底。
Doctor Lu was horrified. The colour drained from his face. A fine piece of Grass-style calligraphy should alternate ‘hollow’ and ‘solid’ strokes, the former being ‘dry’ (written with a brush lightly laden with ink), the latter ‘moist’ (black and thick). In this way the two kinds of stroke complement each other, and enhance each other’s beauty. The ‘straggly lines’ are what calligraphers call ‘silken threads’. The well balanced interweaving of these ‘threads’ between individual strokes or characters lends to the aesthetic harmony of the piece as a whole. In just a few words, Trinket had betrayed his utter ignorance of the art of calligraphy.

陆先生又指着一幅字道:“这一幅全是甲骨古文,兄弟学浅,一字不识,要请韦公子指点。”韦小宝见纸上一个个字都如蝌蚪一般,宛似五台山锦绣峰普济寺中石碣上所刻文字,心念一动,道:“这几个字我倒识得,那是‘神龙教洪教主万年不老,永享仙福,神通广大,寿与天齐!’”
Doctor Lu pointed to another scroll. This is a rubbing of an inscription in the ancient Oracle-Bone script. Unlettered as I am, I can recognize none of these words. I crave your instruction, Mr Wei.’ Trinket found himself looking at some tadpole squiggles which somehow reminded him very much of the inscription he had seen on the stone tablet in the Monastery of Universal Salvation, in the Wutai Mountains—the one he had interpreted so fluently for the benefit of Fat Dhuta. He had a sudden brainwave. ‘I can read this!’ he exclaimed. ‘It says: Long Life to Our Great Leader Hong of the Mystic Dragon Sect! Blessings be on Him!’

陆先生满脸喜容,说道:“谢天谢地,你果然识得此字!”眼见他欣喜无限,说话时声音也发抖了,韦小宝疑心登起:“我识得这几个字,他为甚么如此高兴?莫非他也是神龙教的?啊哟,不好!蛇……蛇……灵蛇……难道这里便是神龙岛?”冲口而出:“胖头陀在哪里?”陆先生吃了一惊,退后数步,颤声道:“你……你已经知道了?”
‘Heaven be praised!’ cried the doctor. ‘You really do know the words.’ Trinket grew suspicious at the doctor’s joyful expression, and his trembling voice. ‘Why’s he so happy all of a sudden,’ he thought to himself, ‘just because I can decipher a few words? Unless of course he’s a Mystic Dragon himself? Oh no! Wait a minute. Snakes . . . snakes. . . magical snakes . . . mystic dragons! Is this Snake Island?’ Where’s Fat Dhuta got to?’ he blurted out. : >•Doctor Lu started, and retreated a couple of steps. ‘You . . . you know?’ he cried in a panic-stricken voice.

韦小宝点了点头,其实他是甚么也不知道。陆先生脸色郑重,说道:“既然你都知道了,那也很好。”走到书桌边,磨墨铺纸,说道:“请你将这些蝌蚪古文,一字一字译将出来。哪一个是‘洪’字,哪一个是‘教’字。”提笔醮墨,招手要他过去。
Trinket nodded, although in fact he knew virtually nothing. ‘So long as you know, then everything’s fine,’ said Doctor Lu in a serious tone of voice. He walked to his desk, ground some ink, and spread out a sheet of paper. Then he dipped his writing-brush in the ink, and gestured to Trinket to come over to him. Would you be so kind as to explain some of the words in the rubbing for me? Write them down. Tell me which is the word “Hong” and which is the word “Sect”?’

要韦小宝提笔写字,那真比要他性命还惨,韦小宝暗暗叫苦,但见陆先生神色难看,不敢违拗,硬着头皮,走过去在书桌边坐下,伸手握管,手掌成拳。他持笔若像吃饭拿筷,倒也有三分相似,可是这么一握,有如操刀杀猪,又如持锤敲钉,天下却哪有这等握管之状?
Trinket uttered a silent cry of despair. He would rather die than try to write. But the doctor’s face looked grim, he dared not refuse. He walked up to the desk, sat down, and reached out his hand to take hold of the writing-brush. Then he clutched it tightly— like someone holding a chopstick, or a butcher with a knife about to slaughter a pig, or someone with a hammer about to drive a nail into the wall. The last thing he resembled was a calligrapher holding a brush.

陆先生怒容更盛,强自忍住,缓缓的道:“你先写自己的名字!”韦小宝霍地站起,将笔往地下一掷,墨汁四溅,大声说道:“老子狗屁不识,屁字都不会写。什么‘洪教主寿与天齐’,老子是信口胡吹,骗那恶头陀的。你要老子写字,等我投胎转世再说,你要杀要剐,老子皱一皱眉头,不算好汉。”
Doctor Lu tried to control his rage. ‘Very well then,’ he said slowly, ‘write your name first,’ All of a sudden Trinket leapt to his feet, and flung the brush to the ground. Ink splashed everywhere. ‘I don’t know how!’ he shouted hysterically. ‘Not a dog’s fart! I can’t even write the word fart! All that stuff about “Long Life to Leader Hong” was a load of rubbish. I just made it up to fool old Bones! So if you want me to write, you’ll have to wait for my next life. You may as well just kill me now!’

陆先生冷冷的道:“你什么字都不识?”韦小宝道:“不识!不识你乌龟的‘龟’字,也不识你王八蛋的‘蛋’字。”他西洋镜既给拆穿,不由得老羞成怒,反正身陷蛇岛,有死无生,求饶也是无用,不如先占些口舌上的便宜。陆先生沉吟半晌,拿起笔来,在纸上写了个蝌蚪文字,问道:“这是甚么字?”韦小宝大声道:“去<脏话>!我说过不识,就是不识。难道还有假的?”
‘You don’t know how to write a single word?’ said Doctor Lu coldly. ‘Not a word! Not even “smelly turtle” or “stupid jerk”!’ Trinket’s game was up. He felt a mixture of shame and anger. Here he was stuck on Snake Island, doomed to death, with no hope of escape. He might as well try and score a few verbal points at Doctor Lu’s expense. Doctor Lu lapsed into silence. He took up the writing-brush and began writing some tadpole-like characters on the paper. ‘What word is this?’ he asked. Top your mother’s!’ howled Trinket. ‘I already told you—I said I can’t read and I meant it!’

陆先生点点头,道:“好,原来胖头陀上了你的大当,可是此事已禀报了教主,你这小贼!”突然一跃而前,扠住韦小宝的头颈,双手越收越紧,咬牙切齿的道:“你害得我们蒙骗教主,人人给你累得死无葬身之地,大家一起死了干净,也免得受那无穷无尽的酷刑。”
‘Good!’ muttered Doctor Lu, nodding his head. ‘Now at least we know where we stand. So Fat Dhuta fell for your little trick. But what do we do now? We have already reported the inscription to our Leader, damn you!’ Suddenly he leapt forwards, caught Trinket by the neck with both hands, and began squeezing him, tighter and tighter. ‘It is all your doing!’ he spat out bitterly. ‘Now we are guilty of deceiving our Leader! Our own lives are in danger! Sooner or later every one of us will come to a horrible end. So we might as well all die now, and save ourselves the endless torment!’

韦小宝给他扠得透不过气来,满脸紫胀,伸出了舌头。陆先生眼见手上再一使劲,这小孩便得气绝毙命,想到此事干系异常重大,心中一惊,便放开了手指,双手一推,将他摔在地下,恨恨出房。
Trinket was suffocating. His face was swollen and purple, his tongue was protruding from his mouth. A little more pressure from the doctor’s hands, and the boy would be dead. But Doctor Lu seemed to lose his nerve. He loosened his fingers, threw Trinket to the ground, and stomped out of the room in a rage.

过了良久,韦小宝才惊定起身,“死乌龟,直娘贼”也不知骂了几百声,心想身在这毒蛇岛上,无处可逃,倘若逃入树林草丛之中,只有死得更快。走到门边,伸手推门,那竹门外面反扣住了,到窗外一望,下临深谷,实是无路可走,转头看到壁上的书画,心道:“这些屁字屁画,有什么好?”拾起笔来,醮满了墨,在一幅幅书画上便画,大乌龟、小乌龟画了不计其数。
A long time passed before Trinket was able to overcome his terror and rise to his feet again. Mentally he reviled Doctor Lu a hundred times as a ‘dead turtle’, and a ‘mother-<****>ing scumbag’. But his thoughts soon turned to escape. It was no use trying to hide in the woods; that would only be to endanger his life yet again. He went to the bamboo door and tried to push it open, but it was locked from the outside. Then he moved over to one of the windows and gazed down. Beneath the house lay a deep gorge, with no visible way out of it. He turned around and looked at the scrolls hanging on the walls. This stuff makes me want to puke!’ He took the writing-brush, dipped it in the ink, and began doodling an endless series of turtles of various shapes and sizes all over the doctor’s precious scrolls.

画了几十只乌龟,手也倦了,掷笔于地,蜷缩在椅上,片刻间就睡着了。睡醒时天已全黑,竟然无人前来理会,肚中饿得咕咕直响,心想:“这只绿毛乌龟要饿死老子。”过了好一会,忽听得门外脚步声响,门缝中透进灯光,竹门开处,陆先生持烛进房,侧头向他凝视。韦小宝见他脸上不示喜怒,心下倒也有些害怕。陆先生将烛台放在桌上,一瞥眼间,见到壁上所悬书画已尽数被他涂抹得不成模样,忍不住怒发如狂,叫道:“你……你……”举起手来,便欲击落,但手掌停在半空,终于忍住怒气,说道:“你……你……”声音在喉间憋住了,说不出话来。
Eventually he grew tired of doing this, threw the brush on the ground, curled up in a chair, and was soon fast asleep. It was already the middle of the night when he got up, and still no one had come bothering him. He was starving. ‘Now I suppose turtle Lu is trying to starve me to death,’ he thought. A long while later, he heard the sound of approaching footsteps, and a light shone through a crack in the bamboo door. The door opened, and Doctor Lu entered the room with a candlestick in his hand, his head tilted to one side, his eyes fixed on Trinket, who could read no recognizable emotion on his face, but was terrified none the less. As he put the candlestick down on the table, the doctor caught sight of the turtle-graffiti on his scrolls. They were ruined beyond repair. He burst into an uncontrollable rage. ‘You . . . you . . .’ he howled, his hand raised to strike. But then he checked himself in mid-flight. ‘You . . . you . . .’ His voice was so choked with emotion, he could not utter another word.

韦小宝笑道:“怎么样?我画得好不好?”陆先生长叹一下,颓然坐倒,说道:“好,画得好!”
‘What do you reckon?’ quipped Trinket with a nervous smile. ‘Did I do a good job?’ Doctor Lu heaved a deep sigh and sank to the ground. ‘Wonderful!’ he muttered. ‘Just wonderful!’Improvisations on a Tadpole Theme

他居然不打人,还说画得好,韦小宝倒也大出意料之外,见他险上神色凄然,显是心痛之极,倒也有些过意不去,说道:“陆先生,对……对不起,我涂坏了你的画。”陆先生摇摇头,说道:“没……没什么。”双手抱头,伏在桌上,过了好一会,说道:“你想必饿了,吃了饭再说。”
To Trinket’s intense surprise, Doctor Lu, so far from hitting him, appeared to be complimenting him on his ‘work of art’—his Turtle Improvisations on a Tadpole Theme. But the doctor’s lugubrious expression soon betrayed his underlying pain. Trinket felt a certain sense of remorse. ‘Doctor Lu, I’m so … so sorry I’ve ruined your paintings.’ ‘It doesn’t matter,’ replied the doctor, burying his head in his hands. After a long while, he turned to Trinket. ‘You must be hungry. Let’s go and have some refreshment.’

客堂中桌上已摆了四菜一汤,有鸡有鱼,甚是丰盛。跟着方怡由陆夫人陪着出来,四人共膳。韦小宝大奇:“莫非我这十几只乌龟画得好,陆先生一高兴,就请我吃饭?”但他一点儿自知之明倒还有的,看情形总似乎不像。几次开口想问,见陆先生脸上阴晴不定,深恐触怒了他,饭未吃饱,便被夺下饭碗,未免犯不着。当下一言不发,闷声吃了个饱。饭罢,陆先生又带他进书房。
In the main room, a sumptuous meal—four dishes (including one chicken dish and one fish dish), and a pot of soup—had been set on the table. Doctor Lu’s wife accompanied Fang Yi into the room, and the four of them sat down together to eat. ‘Maybe he really is pleased with me. Maybe this nosh is his way of thanking me for my turtle-art,’ Trinket mused to himself. But he soon dismissed the idea, and did not venture to bring up the subject during their meal for fear of upsetting the doctor, who still looked distinctly moody. The meal was finished in silence, and Doctor Lu led Trinket back to his study.

陆先生从地下拾起笔来,在纸上写了“韦小宝”三字,道:“这是你自己的名字,你会不会写?”韦小宝道:“他认得我,我可认不得他,怎么会写?”陆先生嗯了一声,眼望窗外,凝思半晌,左手拿了烛台,走到那幅蝌蚪文之前,仔细打量,指着一个个字,口中念念有辞,回到桌边,取过一张白纸,振笔疾书,伸指数了数蝌蚪文字的字数,又数纸上字数,再在纸上一阵涂改,回头又看那幅蝌蚪文字,喃喃自言自语:“那三个字相同,这两个字又是一般,须得天衣无缝,才是道理。”沉思半天,又在纸上一阵涂改,喜道:“行了!”
He picked up the writing-brush from the floor, and wrote the words Trinket Wei’ on a piece of paper. This is your name. Can you write it?’ The words know me, but I don’t seem to know them,’ answered Trinket. ‘No. I can’t.’ Doctor Lu cleared his throat and gazed out of the window, lost in deep thought. A moment later he took the candlestick in his left hand, and walked over to the rubbing in the Tadpole script hanging on the wall. He examined it again in minute detail, following the characters one by one with his finger and mumbling them quietly to himself. Then he returned to the table and began writing something energetically on a sheet of paper. As he wrote he kept going back and counting the number of characters on the rubbing, then checking it against the number on his own scroll; time after time he altered his own text, then went to examine the rubbing again. These three characters look exactly the same,’ he mumbled to himself. ‘But these two are only a passable approximation. They have to be a perfect match.’ Again he was lost in deep thought for quite some time. Then he made a few more alterations on his own scroll, and gave a cry of joy. That’s it!’

韦小宝不知他捣甚么鬼,反正饭已吃饱,也就不去理会。只见陆先生又取过一张白纸,仔仔细细的写起字来。这一次他写得甚慢,写完后摇头晃脑的轻轻读了一遍。
Trinket had no idea what was going on. He had eaten, and was no longer hungry: that was the main thing. He paid Doctor Lu little attention. The doctor spread out another sheet of paper and began writing. This time he wrote slowly and with great care—it was evidently a fair copy. When he had finished, he read it through softly, his head swaying gently to the rhythm of the text.

韦小宝只听到有什么“神龙岛”、“洪教主”、“寿与天齐”等等语句,最后则是第一部在何地何山,第二部在何地何山。他心下恍然,这些话都是他在普济寺中向胖头陀信口胡吹的,哪知胖头陀居然信以为真,回来大加传扬。
Trinket was able to catch the odd phrase such as ‘Mystic Dragon Island’, and ‘Long Life to Our Great Leader Hong’. Then towards the end, he heard him mumble something about the locations of the first copy and second copy. Suddenly it dawned on him. The squiggly text on which the doctor was lavishing such calligraphic effort was simply Trinket’s own impromptu version of the stele he had spotted in the courtyard of the Monastery of Universal Salvation, the version he had invented for the benefit of Fat Dhuta. Old Bones must have swallowed his nonsense literally, made a rubbing of the (to Trinket) unintelligible squiggles on the stone, and committed the Authorized Trinket Version of their meaning to memory; then he had communicated the whole thing to the doctor—the rubbing of the text and the word-for-word oral interpretation—on his return to the island.

又想:“那日胖头陀邀我上神龙岛来见洪教主,我说什么也不肯,不料鬼使神差,这船又会驶到了这里,眼下西洋镜拆穿,洪教主又已知道了。他当然要大发脾气,只怕要将好姊姊和我丢入蛇坑,给几千几万条毒蛇吃得尸骨无存。”想到无穷无尽的毒蛇缠上身来,当真不寒而栗。
Trinket had turned down Fat Dhuta’s earlier invitation to the island. But an ironic twist of fate (in the form of that romantic cruise on the boat) had now brought him to the island anyway, where his little stele-prank had been shown up for what it was! And the worst thing about it was that the Great Leader (whoever he was) had been officially told about the stele and its wonderful prophesies! The Leader was sure to fly into a hideous rage when he found out that he had been duped, and would have both Trinket and Fang Yi thrown into some terrible pit, to be consumed alive by thousands of poisonous snakes! Trinket shuddered with terror at the very thought.

陆先生转过身来,脸上神色十分得意,微笑道:“韦公子,你识得石碣上的蝌蚪文,委实可喜可贺。也是本教洪教主洪福齐天,才天降你这位神童,能读蝌蚪文字。”
Doctor Lu turned round with a smile of satisfaction. ‘Mr Wei, we must compliment you on having been able to decipher the Tadpole inscription on the stone tablet. It must have been a Blessing vouchsafed to Our Great Leader, that such a Divine Prodigy as yourself appeared at such an opportune moment!’ Trinket cleared his throat.

韦小宝哼了一声,道:“你不用取笑。我又识得什么蝌蚪文、青蛙文了?老子连癞蛤蟆文也不识。我是瞎说一番,骗那瘦竹篙头陀的。”陆先生笑道:“韦公子何必过谦?这是公子所背诵的石碣遗文,我笔录了下来,请公子指点,是否有误。”
There’s no need to tease me. Me, know Tadpole script? You’ll be telling me I know Frog’s-Leg script next, or Toad script. … I just made the whole thing up to fool old Bones.’ The doctor smiled. ‘Mr Wei, you are being too modest! What we have here is indeed the inscription on the stone tablet exactly as you recited it. See, I have copied it down. Please listen carefully and tell me if there are any mistakes.’

说着读道:“维大唐贞观二年十月甲子,特进卫国公李靖,右领军大将军宿国公程知节,光禄大夫兵部尚书曹国公李绩、徐州都督胡国公秦叔宝会于五台山锦绣峰,见东方红光耀天,斗大金字现于云际,文曰:
The doctor began: In the Second Year of the Zhen-Guan Period of the Tang Dynasty, the year Six Hundred and Twenty-Nine according to the Great Western Calendar, the Tenth Lunar Month, the Day Jia-Zi, His Majesty’s four loyal subjects Lord Li]ing, General Cheng, the Minister of War Li, and the Governor of Xuzhou Qin Shubao, being assembled on the Embroidered Peak of the Wutai Mountains, did behold in the rosy firmament of the eastern heaven, inscribed in great characters of gold that shone mightily against the clouds, the following marvellous proclamation:

‘千载之下,爰有大清。东方有岛,神龙是名。教主洪某,得蒙天恩。威灵下济,丕赫威能。降妖伏魔,如日之升。羽翼辅佐,吐故纳新。万瑞百祥,罔不丰登。仙福永享,普世崇敬。寿与天齐,文武仁圣。’
‘One. thousand years from now, there will come to pass the great conquest of the Qing Tartars. In the eastern sea there lies an island, its name is the Isle of the Mystic Dragon. On that isle will preside a Great Leader, and his name will be Hong. He will hold sway over his subjects with mighty awe, wielding magical power over them. They will practise strange rites, and great will be their power that will be restored thereby. Long Life and Blessings to the Great Leader! May He Live For Ever!’

须臾,天现青字,文曰:‘天赐洪某《四十二章经》八部,一存河南伏牛山荡魔寺,二存山西笔架山天心庵,三存四川青城山凌霄观,四存河南嵩山少林寺,五存湖北武当山真武观,六存川边崆峒山迦叶寺,七存云南昆明沐王府,八存云南昆明平西王府。’
A link while later, and the heavens were emblazoned with farther characters in black:
‘To the Great Leader Hong will be vouchsafed transcriptions of the Sutra in Forty-Two Sections. There will be in all Eight transcriptions of the Sutra. These will be concealed in the following locations: the First will be concealed in the Great Spirit Monastery, on Ox Mountain in the province of Henan; the Second will be concealed in the Heavenly Heart Nunnery, on Brush Stand Mountain in the province of Shanxi; the Third will be concealed in the Taoist Priory of the Pierced Cloud, on Green City Mountain in the province of Sichuan; the Fourth will be concealed in the Shaolin Monastery, on Mount Song in the province of Henan; the Fifth will be concealed in the Taoist Abbey of Truth and Might, on Wudang Mountain in the province ofHubei; the Sixth will be concealed in the Kasyapa Monastery, on Mount Kongdong in the Western Marches; the Seventh will be concealed in the. estates of the Mu Family in Kunming, in the province, of Yunnan; and the Eighth will be concealed in the Palace of the Satrap Wu, Prince of the West, also in Kunming in the province of Yunnan.’

靖请恭录天文,雕于石碣,以待来者。”
These words of prophesy we have most reverentially inscribed upon this tablet of stone, that they may bear witness to men of future ages.

陆先生抑扬顿挫的读毕,问道:“有没读错?”韦小宝道:“这是唐朝的石碣,怎会知道后世有个平西王吴三桂?”陆先生道:“上帝聪明智慧,无所不知,无所不晓,既知后世有洪教主,自然也知道有吴三桂了。”韦小宝暗暗好笑,点头道:“那也说得是。”心想:“不知你在捣什么鬼?”
Doctor Lu recited the words singsong fashion, and when he had finished, turned to Trinket. ‘Is that correct?’ ‘Yes, but tell me,’ said Trinket, remembering the objection raised by Bag-of-Bones. ‘If this stone tablet was carved in the Tang dynasty, how did they know about Satrap Wu?’ The Almighty in his wisdom knows all. If he knew about Our Great Leader Hong, of course he knew about Satrap Wu.’ ‘Fair enough,’ Trinket nodded. But he was meanwhile laughing to himself and thinking: ‘I hope the Almighty-in-his-washroom (or whatever) knows what you’re on about, because ,’ certainly don’t!’

陆先生道:“这石碑上的文字,一字也读错不得。虽然韦公子天赋聪明,但依我之见,那也是圣灵感动,才识得这些蝌蚪文字,日后仓卒之际,或有认错。最好韦公子将这篇碑文读得滚瓜烂熟,待洪教主召见之时,背诵如流,洪教主一喜欢,自然大有赏赐。”
The inscription needs to be recited with complete accuracy,’ Doctor Lu went on. ‘Heaven blessed you with an extraordinary ability to read Tadpole script. You are a prodigy. But in order to avoid any possibility of misinterpretation in later times, I want you now to memorize the whole inscription, so that you can recite it perfectly by heart when you are summoned into the presence of Our Great Leader Hong. Our Leader is sure to be pleased, and will reward you generously.’

韦小宝双眼一翻,登时恍然大悟,连连点头,说道:“原来如此,原来如此。”料知胖头陀和陆先生禀报洪教主,说有个小孩识得石碑上的文字,洪教主定要传见考问。哪知道这件事全是假的,陆先生怕教主怪罪,只得假造碑文,来骗教主一骗。
Trinket finally realized what Doctor Lu had in mind. He nodded several times in succession. ‘I see, I see!’ He was able to piece together what had happened. Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu had reported to Leader Hong that they had found a child prodigy who had been able to interpret the Tadpole inscription, and the Great Leader had demanded to set eyes on the prodigy for himself. Now that Doctor Lu knew that the Authorized Trinket Version of the inscription was a fake, he had decided to create another inscription of his own (along the lines of the Authorized Version), in order to cover up their deception of the Great Leader. He had taken enormous care to make his new version tally with the number of characters in Fat Dhuta’s rubbing.

陆先生道:“我现在读一句,韦公子跟一句,总须记得一字不错为止。‘维大唐贞观二年十月甲子……’”事到临头,韦小宝欲待不读,也不可得,何况串通了去作弄洪教主,倒也十分有趣,便跟着诵读。他生性机伶,听过一段几百字的言语,要再行复述,那是半点不费力气,说到读书,可就要他的命了,这篇短文虽只寥寥数百字,但所有句子都十分拗口,含义更是全不明白,什么“丕赫威能”、“吐故纳新”,浑不知是甚么意思,只得跟着陆先生一遍又一遍的读下去。幸亏陆先生不怕厌烦的教导,但也读了三十几遍,这才背得一字无误。
‘Now, I’m going to read it to you again sentence by sentence,’ said Doctor Lu, ‘and you are to repeat it after me, until you have memorized every word perfectly.’
Trinket really had no choice. And anyway, he found the whole idea of being in cahoots with Doctor Lu and fooling the Great Leader rather appealing. It might be a lot of fun. So he did as he was told, and repeated the sentences after Doctor Lu. He had always had an excellent memory, and was able to memorize large chunks of normal speech with ease. Doctor Lu’s inscription was short, but it was full of difficult bookish expressions (‘rosy firmament’ and ‘vouchsafed’, for example, were quite beyond Trinket’s normal vocabulary). Luckily Doctor Lu was an extremely patient teacher. By the thirtieth repetition, Trinket had managed to get it off pat.

当晚他睡在陆先生家中,次晨又再背诵。陆先生听他已尽数记住,甚是欢喜,于是取过纸笔,将一个个蝌蚪字写了出来,教他辨认,哪一个是“维”字,哪一个是“贞”字。这一来韦小宝不由得叫苦连天,这些蝌蚪文扭来扭去,形状都差不多,要他一一分辨,又写将出来,当真是难于登天,苦于杀头。他片刻也坐不定,如何能静下心来学蝌蚪文?韦小宝固然愁眉苦脸,陆先生更加惴惴不安。
He spent what was left of that night at Doctor Lu’s house, and recited the text perfectly by heart once more the following morning, much to the satisfaction of the doctor, who now took his brush, spread out another sheet of paper, and began writing down all the Tadpole-script characters, teaching him how to decipher (and how to write) the squiggly words, even the ones for ‘rosy firmament’ and ‘vouchsafed’. It was torment for Trinket, who was a reluctant and resdess student at the best of times. But somehow Doctor Lu succeeded.

陆先生这时早已知道,石碣上文字另有含义,他数了胖头陀所拓拓片中的字数,另作一篇文字,硬生生的凑上去,只求字数相同,碣文能讨得洪教主欢心,哪管原来碣文中写些什么。如此拼凑,自然破绽百出,“维大唐贞观二年”这句中,“二”字排在第六,但碣文中第六字的笔划共有十八笔之多,无论如何说不上是个“二”字,第五字只有三笔,与那“观”字也极难拉扯得上。但顾得东来西又倒,陆先生才气再大,仓卒间也捏造不出一篇天衣无缝的文章来。洪教主聪明之极,这篇假文章多半逃不过他眼去,可是大难临头,说不得只好暂且搪塞一时,日后的祸患,只好走着瞧了。
Doctor Lu knew that the original inscription, the one on the stone in the monastery courtyard, had meant something quite different. His only concern was to make up a text with exactly the same number of characters as the rubbing, and with a content designed to please the Leader—at least for the time being. There were discrepancies between the two texts which a careful examination (especially by a man as intelligent as the Leader) would soon uncover. But in the limited time available, this was the best he could do. Let the future take care of itself!

这天教韦小宝写字,进展奇慢,直到中午,只写会了四个蝌蚪文,幸好蝌蚪文本来奇形怪状,在韦小宝笔下写出来难看之极,倒也不觉如何刺眼,若是正楷,由一个从未学过写字的孩子写将出来,任谁一看。立知真伪。下午学了三字,晚间又学了两个字,这一天共学了九个字。韦小宝不住口的大吵大嚷,几次掷笔不学。陆先生又是恐吓,又是哄骗,最后叫了方怡来坐在旁边相陪,韦小宝这才勉强耐心学下去。陆先生一面教,一面暗暗担心,只怕洪教主随时来传,倘若一篇文章尚未学全,便给教主叫了去,韦小宝这颗脑袋固然不保,自己全家难免陪着他送命。
Trinket’s progress at writing was extremely slow. By noon that day he had learned a total of four Tadpole characters. Luckily the original graphs themselves were weird enough, so even in Trinket’s ungainly hand they looked almost plausible. He learned three more graphs in the afternoon, and two more that night, which made a grand total of nine in one day. But he kept screaming and yelling during his practice, and threw his brush on the ground more than once. Doctor Lu threatened and cajoled him, and it was only when he thought of asking Fang Yi to sit next to the boy that Trinket finally setded down a bit and tried to work at it. All this time Doctor Lu was fretting that the Leader would summon Trinket before he had learned the whole inscription, in which case not only would Trinket lose his head, but Doctor Lu and the whole of his family would be put to death as well.

可是这件事丝毫心急不得,越是盼他快些学会,韦小宝反而越学越慢,脑子中塞满的这许多蝌蚪,便如真的在纠缠游动一般,实在是难以辨认。学得数日,韦小宝身上毒蛇所噬的伤口倒好全了,勉强认出的蝌蚪文却还只二三十个,而且缠夹不清,十个字中往往弄错了七八个。
But there was no hurrying Trinket. The more Doctor Lu pressed him, the slower was his progress. The tadpoles just seemed to swim around in Trinket’s head in ever widening and more confusing circles. A few days later, although Trinket had totally recovered from his snake-bites, he could still barely decipher thirty-Tadpole graphs. A Summons

陆先生正烦恼间,忽听得门外胖头陀的声音说道:“陆先生,教主召见韦公子!”陆先生脸如土色,手一颤,一枝醮满了墨的毛笔掉在衣襟之上。
The doctor heard Fat Dhuta’s voice at the door. ‘Doctor Lu, our Leader has summoned Mr Wei.’ The doctor’s face turned pale, his hands trembled, and he lost hold of his writing-brush which fell onto his robe and splashed him with ink.

一个极高极瘦的人走进书房,正是胖头陀到了。韦小宝笑道:“胖尊者,你怎地今日才来见我?我等了你好久啦。”胖头陀见到陆先生的神色,知道大事不妙,不答韦小宝的话,喃喃自语:“我早该知道这小鬼是在胡说八道,偏是痰迷了心窍,要想立什么大功,以求自保,不料反而死得更加早些。”陆先生冷笑道:“你不过是光棍一条,姓陆的一家八口,却尽数陪了你送命。”胖头陀一声长叹,道:“大家命该如此,这叫做劫数难逃。就算没这件事,教主也未必能容咱们多活得几日。”陆先生向韦小宝瞧了一眼,道:“是他们这种人当时得令,我们老了,该死了,那又有什么法子?”语气中充满愤愤不平。胖头陀叹道:“也是我见他年纪小,投其所好,就这么不顾前、不顾后的禀报了上去,唉!”陆先生瞪了他一眼,道:“小也未免小得过了份。”胖头陀道:“陆兄,事已至此,你我同生共死,大丈夫死就死了,又有何惧?”韦小宝拍手道:“胖尊者这话说得是,是英雄好汉,怕甚么了?我都不怕,你们更加不用怕。”陆先生冷笑一声,道:“无知小儿,不知天高地厚,等到你知道怕,已然迟了。”出神半晌,道:“胖尊者请稍待,我去向拙荆吩咐几句。”过了一会,陆先生回入书房,脸上犹有泪痕。
In came Bag-of-Bones. Trinket greeted him with a smile. ‘Bones, it’s been so long!’ From the drawn expression of Doctor Lu, Fat Dhuta could see that all was not well. ‘I should have known right at the start that this boy was only mucking around!’ he muttered. ‘It’s just that I so badly wanted to achieve something for the cause! And all I’ve done is to dig my own grave! ‘You’ve only got yourself to worry about!’ grumbled Doctor Lu. ‘What about me? There are eight people in my family to think about!’ Fat Dhuta heaved a long sigh. ‘It’s our fate. It must have been predestined. Even if this hadn’t happened, our Leader might not have allowed us to live very long.’ ‘One moment, Fat Dhuta,’ said Doctor Lu gloomily. ‘I have something to say to my wife.’ A little while later, Doctor Lu returned to his study, with traces of tears visible on his cheeks.

胖头陀道:“陆兄,你的升天丸,请给我一粒。”陆先生点点头,从怀中取出一个瓷瓶,拔开瓶塞,倒出一粒红色药丸给他,说道:“这丸入口气绝,非到最后关头,不可轻举妄动。”胖头陀接过,苦笑道:“多谢了!胖头陀对自己性命也还看得不轻,不想这么快就即升天。”
‘Brother Lu, please give me one of your Ascension Tablets,’ said Fat Dhuta. Doctor Lu nodded, produced a little porcelain phial from inside his gown, removed the stopper, and tipped out a tiny red pill. ‘Remember, the moment you put this into your mouth, you’re a dead man,’ he said grimly. ‘I won’t forget!’ replied Fat Dhuta with a wry smile, reaching out his hand to take the pill.

韦小宝在五台山上,见胖头陀力敌少林寺十八罗汉,威风凛凛,此刻讨这毒药,显是当洪教主怪罪之时便即自杀,才明白事态果真紧急,不由得害怕起来。
Trinket, who had witnessed a very different Fat Dhuta on Wutai, in full fighting form against the Eighteen Lohans, shivered to see him contemplating the possibility of suicide, rather than face the wrath of an unforgiving Leader.

三人出门,韦小宝隐隐听得内堂有哭泣之声,问道:“方姑娘呢?她不去么?”胖头陀道:“哼,你小小年纪,倒是多情种子,五台山上有个双儿,这里又有个方姑娘。”左手一把将他抱住,喝道:“走罢!”迈开大步,向东急行,顷刻间疾逾奔马。
As the three of them left the study, Trinket heard the sound of weeping issuing from the women’s quarters. ‘Where’s Miss Fang?’ he asked. ‘Isn’t she coming with us?’ ‘Quite the little ladies’ man!’ quipped the Dhuta. ‘On Wutai you had that girl Doublet, now you’ve got this Miss Fang! Come on—let’s go!’ He lifted Trinket up in the air with his left hand, and strode off in an easterly direction, quickening his pace until he was soon going as fast as a trotting horse.

陆先生跟在他身畔,仍是一副愁眉苦脸的模样。韦小宝见他显得毫不费力,却和胖头陀并肩而行,竟不落后半步,才知这文弱书生原来也是身负上乘武功,说道:“胖尊者、陆先生,你们二位武功这样高强,又何必怕那洪教主?你们……”胖头陀伸出右掌,一把按住他口,怒道:“在这神龙岛上,你敢说这等大逆不道的话,可是活得不耐烦了?”韦小宝给他这么一按,气为之窒,心道:“他妈的,你怕洪教主怕成这等模样,还自称是英雄呢,狗熊都不如。”三人向着北方一座山峰行去。行不多时,只见树上、草上、路上,东一条,西一条,全是毒蛇,但说也奇怪,对他三人却全不滋扰。转过了两个山坡,抬头遥见峰顶建着几座大竹屋。胖头陀抱着韦小宝直上峰顶。这时山道狭窄,陆先生已不能与胖头陀并肩而行,落后丈许。
Doctor Lu kept up with them, moving with an athletic stride that contrasted strangely with his gloomy preoccupied air. The three of them soon turned and began heading towards a peak on the northern end of the island. There were poisonous snakes all around them—some hanging from the trees, some crawling in the grass and on the road itself—but strangely the three of them passed through them all unscathed. They had rounded two hills, when they saw a cluster of large bamboo buildings on the very top of the peak a long way ahead of them. The road narrowed as they climbed towards the peak, and there was no longer room for Doctor Lu to walk alongside Fat Dhuta. He therefore fell several yards behind.

胖头陀将嘴凑在韦小宝耳边,低声问道:“你那部《四十二章经》呢?”韦小宝道:“不在我身边。”胖头陀道:“那还用说?你身边早已搜过了几遍。到哪里去啦?”韦小宝道:“少林寺十八罗汉拿了经书,自然去交了给他们方丈。”心想这瘦竹篙头陀打不过少林十八罗汉,听得经书到了少林寺方丈手中,自然不敢去要,就算敢去要,也必给人家撵了出来。那日胖头陀亲手将经书交在澄心和尚手中,对韦小宝这句话自无怀疑,低声道:“待会见了教主,可千万不能提到此事。否则教主逼你交出经书来,你交不出,教主他老人家非将你丢入毒蛇窠不可。”
Fat Dhuta then whispered in Trinket’s ear: ‘So what’s happened to the copy of the Sutra you found?’ ‘I don’t know. ,’ haven’t got it,’ replied Trinket. ‘Don’t worry, I know that. I’ve already had a good look. Where have you put it?’ ‘I suppose the Shaolin monks must have given it to their Abbot,’ said Trinket, thinking mat Fat Dhuta would never dare try to seize the Sutra from the Abbot of the Shaolin Monastery. Since Fat Dhuta had in fact himself surrendered the Sutra to Brother Cordial, he was ready to believe Trinket’s story. ‘When you see our Leader, whatever you do, don’t mention the Sutra,’ muttered Fat Dhuta. ‘If he asks you for it, and you can’t oblige, he’ll throw you into a cave crawling with poisonous snakes.’

韦小宝听他语声中大有惧意,而且显然怕给陆先生听到,低声道:“你明明已抢到了经书,又还给了少林寺和尚,教主知道了,非将你丢入毒蛇窠不可。哼哼,就算暂时不罚你,派你去少林寺夺还经书,也有得够你受的了。”胖头陀身子一颤,默然不语。
Fat Dhuta was obviously terrified of the Leader, and nervous lest Doctor Lu should overhear their conversation. Trinket turned to him and whispered: ‘You’re the one who gave the Shaolin monks the Sutra—he’ll throw you into the snake-cave for sure. Or send you to Shaolin to get it back . . .’ Fat Dhuta trembled with fear, and fell silent.

韦小宝道:“咱哥儿俩做桩生意。有什么事,你照应我,我也照应你。否则大家一拍两散,同归于尽。”陆先生突然在身后接口问道:“什么一拍两散,同归于尽?”韦小宝道:“咱三人有福同享,有难同当。”心想此刻处境之糟,已是一塌胡涂,能把这两个好手牵累在内,多少有点依傍指望。胖头陀和陆先生都默不作声,过了一会,两人齐声长叹。又行了一顿饭时分,到了峰顶。只见四名身穿青衣的少年挽臂而来,每人背上都负着一柄长剑。左首一人问道:“胖头陀,这小孩干什么的?”胖头陀放下韦小宝,道:“教主旨令,传他来的。”西首三名红衣少女嘻嘻哈哈的走来,背上也负着长剑,见到三人,迎了上来。一个少女笑道:“胖头陀,这小孩是你的私生子么?”说着在韦小宝颊上捏了一把。
After proceeding for about the time it would take to consume an average meal, they reached the top of the peak, where they saw four youths dressed in blue approaching hand in hand, each with a long-sword strapped to his back. ‘Comrade Dhuta, what’s this boy doing here?’ asked the youth furthest to the left. ‘Our Leader has summoned him,’ replied Fat Dhuta, depositing Trinket on the ground. From the other side came three girls all in red, laughing and simpering, each of them also equipped with a long-sword. They saw Trinket and his companions. ‘Is this your love child?’ said one of them, turning to Fat Dhuta with a grin and pinching Trinket on the cheek.

胖头陀道:“姑娘取笑了。这小孩是教主他老人家特旨呼召,有要紧事情问他。”
‘Very funny,’ replied Fat Dhuta. This boy has been especially summoned by our Great Leader, who wants to question him on some important matters.’

另一个圆脸少女捏了一下韦小宝的右颊,笑道:“瞧这娃娃相貌,定是胖头陀的私生儿,你赖也赖不掉的。”韦小宝大怒,叫道:“我是你的私生儿子。你跟胖头陀私通,生了我出来。”一群少年少女一怔,随即哈哈大笑起来。那圆脸少女脸上通红,啐道:“小鬼,你作死啊!”伸手便打。韦小宝侧头避开。这时又有十几名年轻男女闻声赶到,都向那圆脸少女取笑。那少女又羞又恼,左足飞起,在韦小宝屁股上猛力踢了一脚。韦小宝大叫:“妈,你干么打儿子?”众少年笑得更加响了。

突然间钟声当当当响起,众人立即肃静倾听,二十多名年轻男女转身向竹屋中奔去。胖头陀道:“教主集众致训。”向韦小宝道:“待会见到教主之时,可千万不能胡说八道。”韦小宝见他神色郁郁,这些年轻男女对他又颇为无礼,心想他武功甚高,干么怕了这些十几岁的娃娃,不由得对他有些可怜,便点了点头。
Any further banter was forestalled by the sudden ringing of a bell. The boys and girls turned around and dashed towards one of the bamboo buildings. ‘The Leader is calling an assembly,’ Fat Dhuta explained to Trinket. ‘Mind your tongue when you meet him.’ Poor Dhuta, thought Trinket. It was pathetic that such a formidable fighter should seem almost nervous in the presence of these children. The Qreat Leader

只见四面八方有人走向竹屋,胖头陀和陆先生带着韦小宝走进屋去。过了一条长廊,眼前突然出现一座大厅。这厅硕大无朋,足可容得千人之众。韦小宝在北京皇宫中住得久了,再巨大的厅堂也不在眼中。可是这一座大厅却实在巨大,一见之下,不由得肃然生敬。但见一群群少年男女衣分五色,分站五个方位。青、白、黑、黄四色的都是少年,穿红的则是少女,背上各负长剑,每一队约有百人。大厅彼端居中并排放着两张竹椅,铺了锦缎垫子。两旁站着数十人,有男有女,年纪轻的三十来岁,老的已有六七十岁,身上均不带兵刃。大厅中聚集着五六百人,竟无半点声息,连咳嗽也没一声。
People were flooding towards the bamboo building from every direction. Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu led Trinket in, and after walking down a long covered walkway, they found themselves at the entrance to an enormous hall, big enough to accommodate more than a thousand people. Trinket had spent quite a long time in the Imperial Palace, and he was accustomed to large halls: but even he was impressed by this one. Inside the hall he found groups of young acolytes dressed in different colours. They stood in five different parts of the hall according to their colours—the boys in blue, white, black, or yellow, the girls in red. Each one of them had a long-sword strapped on their back. Each colour group was approximately a hundred strong. At the far end, in the centre of the hall, stood two bamboo chairs set with brocade-covered cushions; on both sides of the chairs stood several dozen adults, both men and women, ranging in age from thirty to seventy, all unarmed. Altogether between five and six hundred people were gathered in the hall, but there was dead silence. Not a single cough could be heard.

韦小宝心中暗骂:“他妈的,好大架子,皇帝上朝么?”过了好一会,钟声连响九下,内堂脚步声响。韦小宝心道:“鬼教主出来了。”哪知出来的却是十名汉子,都是三十岁左右年纪,衣分五色,分在两张椅旁一站,每一边五人。又过了好一会,钟声镗的一声大响,跟着数百只银铃齐奏。厅上众人一齐跪倒,齐声说道:“教主永享仙福,寿与天齐。”
Tamardy!’ Trinket exclaimed silently to himself. Who does this big guy think he is! The Emperor or something?’ After an interval, he heard the bell ring nine times, and footsteps could be heard coming from the inner hall. Ten men walked in, all in their thirties, each dressed in one of the five colours, and took up their positions on either side of the bamboo chairs. After another interval a great bell sounded, followed by the tinkling of hundreds of little silver bells. Everyone in the hall knelt, and the chanting began: ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Blessings be on Him!’

胖头陀一扯韦小宝衣襟,令他跪下。韦小宝只得也跪了下来,偷眼看时,见有一男一女从内堂出来,坐入椅中。铃声又响,众人慢慢站起。那男的年纪甚老,白鬓垂胸,脸上都是伤疤皱纹,丑陋已极,心想这人便是教主了。那女的却是个美貌少妇,看模样不过二十三四岁年纪,微微一笑,媚态横生,艳丽无匹。韦小宝暗赞:“乖乖不得了!这女人比我那好姊姊还要美貌。皇宫和丽春院中,都还没这等标致角色。”左首一名青衣汉子踏上两步,手捧青纸,高声诵道:“恭读慈恩普照、威临四方洪教主宝训:‘众志齐心可成城,威震天下无比伦!’”厅上众人齐声念道:“众志齐心可成城,威震天下无比伦!”
Fat Dhuta tugged Trinket lightly by the collar, signalling him to kneel down. Trinket reluctantly complied. He glanced up, and saw a man and a woman walk out from the inner hall and seat themselves down on the chairs. The silver bells tinkled again, and everybody rose to their feet. The man looked positively ancient. He had a long white beard hanging down to his chest, and his face was covered with scars and wrinkles. He was altogether rather an ugly sight. So this, mused Trinket, was the Great Leader of the Mystic Dragons. The woman, on the other hand, he was happy to note, was ravishingly beautiful. She looked about twenty-three or twenty-four years old, and had an enchanting smile. ‘Wow!’ Trinket whistled silently to himself. ‘She’s even prettier than Fang!’ A man in blue standing to her left now took two steps forward, and, holding a blue sheet of paper in his hand, began to declaim: ‘Let us read the Treasured Teachings of Our Most Merciful and Mighty Leader. It is written: “United we stand, United we will triumph! Our Power will reign Supreme!”‘ Everyone in the hall repeated this in unison. ‘United we stand, United we will triumph! Our Power will reign Supreme!’

韦小宝一双眼珠止骨碌绿的瞧着那丽人,众人这么齐声念了出来,将他吓了一跳。那青衣汉子继续念道:“教主仙福齐天高,教众忠字当头照。教主驶稳万年船,乘风破浪逞英豪!神龙飞天齐仰望,教主声威盖八方。个个生为教主生,人人死为教主死,教主令旨尽遵从,教主如同日月光!”那汉子念一句,众人跟着读一句。韦小宝心道:“什么洪教主宝训?大吹牛皮。我天地会的切口诗比他好听得多了。”众人念毕,齐声叫道:“教主宝训,时刻在心,建功克敌,无事不成!”那些少年少女叫得尤其起劲。洪教主一张丑脸上神情漠然,他身旁那丽人却笑吟吟地跟着念诵。众人念毕,大厅中更无半点声息。
Trinket was staring goggle-eyed at the handsome lady. The chanting shocked him out of his reverie. ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Courage to all Comrades! With Him we will Surmount Every Challenge! With Him we will Conquer the World! We will Live for Him, and Die for Him! Obey His Every Command! May His Grace Shine upon us like the Light of the Sun and Moon!’ The man in blue continued declaiming, and the assembly chanted the words after him in chorus. ‘The Leader’s Treasured Teachings my arse!’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘Our Triad passwords sounded better than this load of crap!’ The chanting finished with the words: ‘Obey His Teachings! Follow Him to Victory!’ The acolytes were especially enthusiastic in their chanting. Leader Hong’s ugly face registered no emotion whatsoever, while the exquisite lady by his side smiled sweetly as she murmured the chants along with the others. The assembly fell silent again.

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