The Deer And The Cauldron 2

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The Deer And The Cauldron 2
第二回 绝世奇事传闻里 最好交情见面初

  扬州城自古为繁华胜地,The city of Yangzhou has long been synonymous in China with wealth, pleasure, and sybaritic luxury.唐时杜牧有诗云:“十年一觉扬州梦,赢得青楼薄幸名。”The great poet Du Mu, of the late Tang dynasty, sums it up in his famous lines: from my Yangzhou Dream I wake at last– Ten years a rake, ten years gone so fast!古人云人生乐事,莫过于“腰缠十万贯,骑鹤上扬州。”And as the old saying has it, one of life’s greatest pleasures has always been to Stray on a myriad strings of cash, And ride a crane to Yangzhou Town.自隋炀帝开凿运河,扬州地居运河之中,为苏浙漕运必经之地。When the Emperor Yang built the Grand Canal in the Sui dynasty, Yangzhou’s position at the hub of that great waterway made it an obligatory port of call for the grain barges from the surrounding provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.明清之季,又为盐商大贾所聚居,殷富甲于天下。As time went by the great salt-merchants built their mansions there, and during the Ming and Manchu dynasties it grew to be one of the wealthiest places in the whole Empire.

  清朝康熙初年,扬州瘦西湖畔的鸣玉坊乃青楼名妓汇聚之所。’Slender’ West Lake (named in imitation of the famous West Lake by the city of Hangzhou, on the shores of which Zha Yihuang entertained his beggar friend in our last chapter) lies on the western outskirts of Yangzhou. In the early years of the Manchu Emperor Kang Xi, the street beside the lake, known as the Alley of Chiming Jade, was famed for its high concentration of pleasure-houses, and for the beauty of its singsong-girls (whose skills extended to a great deal more than bel canto).这日正是暮春天气,Our story begins in the Alley one warm evening towards the end of spring.华灯初上,The coloured lanterns had just been lit,鸣玉坊各家院子中传出一片丝竹和欢笑之声,中间又夹着猜枚行令、唱曲闹酒,当真是笙歌处处,一片升平景象。the warbling of flutes and the plucking of strings mingled with cries of pleasure and peals of laughter, and from every one of its establishments came the sound of drinking-games, of voices raised in song and revelry. It was a veritable garden of earthly delight.突然之间,坊南坊北同时有五六人齐声吆喝:“各家院子生意上的朋友,姑娘们,来花钱玩儿的朋友们,大伙儿听着:Suddenly, from both the northern and southern ends of the Alley, there burst forth a harsh chorus of voices, demanding the attention of everyone present (both ladies and customers) and announcing that they were conducting a search for ‘one man and one man alone’:

  我们来找一个人,跟旁人并不相干,谁都不许乱叫乱动。不听吩咐的,可别怪我们不客气!”The man we want has got nothing to do with any of you, so don’t make a fuss, and we won’t lay a finger on you! But if there’s trouble, don’t say we didn’t warn you!’一阵吆喝之后,鸣玉坊中立时静了片刻,跟着各处院子中喧声四起,女子惊呼声、男子叫嚷声,乱成一团。There was instant silence in the Alley. But it was short-lived. Very soon pandemonium broke out, and from every direction came the sound of girls shrieking and gentlemen customers shouting.

  丽春院中正在大排筵席,十余名大盐商坐了三桌,There was an especially large party being held in the establishment known as Vernal Delights; a dozen or so prominent salt-merchants had booked three tables,每人身边都坐着一名妓女,一听到这呼声,人人脸色大变。齐问:

  “什么事?”“是谁?”“是官府查案吗?”and each of them had one of the more glamorous singsong-girls sitting by his side. The interruption caused considerable consternation in their midst. ‘What is going on?’ Who are these people?’ ‘Are they from the Yamen?”Is this a raid?’突然间大门上擂鼓也似的打门声响了起来,龟奴吓得没了主意,不知是否该去开门。Then came the sound of battering at the doors, which threw the serving-boys into a regular panic. Even as the boys at Vernal Delights were wondering whether or not to open up,

  砰的一声,大门撞开,涌进十七八名大汉。the main door came crashing down and in stormed a gang of seventeen or eighteen strapping great fellows.

  这些大汉短装结束,白布包头,青带缠腰,手中拿着明晃晃的钢刀,或是铁尺铁棍。They wore short tunics, tied with black sashes, and white bands round their heads; swords or nasty-looking metal stocks flashed in their hands.众盐商一见,便认出是贩私盐的盐枭。当时盐税甚重,倘若逃漏盐税,贩卖私盐,获利颇丰。The merchants recognized them at once as belonging to one of the notorious salt-smuggling gangs. At that time the salt tax was extremely high, and anyone managing to sell the commodity on the black market could make a fortune.扬州一带是江北淮盐的集散之地,一般亡命之徒成群结队,逃税贩盐。Yangzhou was the distribution centre for the salt produced in the Huai Basin north of the Yangtze, and a number of gangs operated in the neighbourhood.这些盐枭极是凶悍,遇到大队官兵时一哄而散,逢上小队官兵,一言不合,抽出兵刃,便与对垒。They were a mean and vicious bunch, who, while they tended to flee if confronted with a sizeable detachment of Government troops, were quick to come to blows with lesser and more vulnerable opponents.是以官府往往眼开眼闭,不加干预。众盐商知道盐枭向来只是贩卖私盐,并不抢劫行商或做其他歹事,平时与百姓买卖盐斤,也公平诚实,并不仗势欺人,On the whole the local gendarmerie turned a blind eye to their activities, and the salt-merchants for their part had come to regard them as relatively harmless (they were not given to attacking or robbing the merchants themselves, and even had a reputation for fair dealing in their illicit transactions, and for not causing trouble with ordinary folk).今日忽然这般强凶霸道的闯进鸣玉坊来,无不又是惊惶,又是诧异。And suddenly here they were storming the Alley and creating the most dreadful scene! It was not just unusual, it was downright alarming.

  盐枭中一个五十余岁的老者说道:“各位朋友,打扰莫怪,在下陪礼。”One of the smugglers, an older fellow of fifty odd, now spoke up: ‘Apologies, gents, for the intrusion! We don’t mean you any harm!’说着抱拳自左至右、又自右至左的拱了拱手,跟着朗声道:“天地会姓贾的朋友,贾老六贾老兄,在不在这里?”As he spoke he clasped his hands in salutation to the assembled company, left to right, and then bowed politely, right to left, before continuing, loud and clear: ‘We’ve come to find Brother Jia, Scarface Jia, of the Triad Society. He wouldn’t happen to be anywhere on the premises, would he?’

  说着眼光向众盐商脸上逐一扫去。His eyes searched the salt-merchants’ faces one by one.

  众盐商遇上他的眼光,都是神色惶恐,连连摇头,心下却也坦然:“他们江湖上帮会自伙里闹事寻仇,跟旁人可不相干。”His penetrating gaze struck terror into their hearts, and they all shook their heads with alacrity. (Simultaneously they breathed a sigh of relief: at least now they knew that this was a vendetta between different branches of the underworld fraternity, and had no direct bearing on them.)

  那盐枭老者提高声音叫道:“贾老六,今儿下午,你在瘦西湖旁酒馆中胡说八道,说什么扬州贩私盐的人没种,不敢杀官造反,就只会走私漏税,做些没胆子的小生意。你喝饱了黄汤,大叫大嚷,说道扬州贩私盐的倘若不服,尽管到鸣玉坊来找你便是。我们这可不是来了吗?贾老六,你是天地会的好汉子,怎地做了缩头乌龟啦?”The old fellow, who was clearly one of the smugglers’ ringleaders, spoke again, even louder this time: ‘Now listen to me, Scarface–wherever you are! This afternoon, in the bar down by the Lake, there were words spoken . . . There were names called. Gutless, you said we were too scared to stand up against a few troopers! Wasn’t that it? Just a bunch of petty salt-peddlers? You’d had a bellyful of booze, I grant you! And if we didn’t like what you were saying we were welcome to come and find you down the Alley, you said! Well, we didn’t like it, not one bit! And we’re here! So come on out, if you’re a Triad and a real man! Or are you too chicken? Trying to keep your dirty little turtle-head under cover?’

  其余十几名盐枭跟着叫嚷:“天地会的好汉子,怎么做了缩头乌龟?”“辣块妈妈,你们到底是天地会,还是缩头会哪?”The others in his gang joined in noisily: ‘Come on out, Triad! Come on out, turtle-head!’ ‘Is it a Triad we’ve got here, or a “try-hard”? Looks more like a headless turtle to me?’ And more of the like. ‘Hold it lads!’ chimed in the older fellow.

  那老者道:“这是贾老六一个人胡说八道,可别牵扯上天地会旁的好朋友们。咱们贩私盐的,原只挣一口苦饭吃,哪及得上天地会的英雄好汉?可是咱们缩头乌龟倒是不做的。”This little matter concerns Scarface and Scarface alone. We’ve got nothing against the Triads as such. What we salt-smugglers do, we do to earn an honest bowl of rice. We’re humble folk. There’s not one of us can compare with the Triads and their Brave Men and True . . . But all the same, we’re none of us chicken neither!’

  等了好一会,始终不听得那天地会的贾老六搭腔。那老者喝道:“各处屋子都去瞧瞧,见到那姓贾的缩头老兄,便把他请出来。这人脸上有个大刀疤,好认得很。”众盐枭轰然答应,便一间间屋子去搜查。A long silence and still no sound of Scarface Jia. ‘Search the rooms!’ ordered the older fellow. ‘Find the turtle, and bring him out! He’s got a big scar across his face, you can’t miss him!’ The other smugglers shouted in response and went off one by one.

  忽然东边厢房中有个粗豪的声音说道:“是谁在这里大呼小叫,打扰老子寻快活?”Suddenly, from a private room on the eastern side of the salon, there came a great roar: What the blazes is going on? D’ye mind leaving me in peace? This may be your idea of fun–‘

  众盐枭纷纷喝道:“贾老六在这里了!”“贾老六,快滚出来!”“他妈的,这狗贼好大胆子!”’That’s him!’ came the ragged smugglers’ chorus. ‘That’s the turtle!’ ‘Come on out, Scarface, and look smart about it!’

  东厢房那人哈哈大笑,说道From within the room came a great guffaw::“老子不姓贾,只是你们这批家伙胡骂天地会,老子可听着不大顺耳。’I’m not the man you’re looking for as it happens! But I won’t let scum like you blacken the name of the Triads all the same!老子不是天地会的,却知道天地会的朋友们个个是英雄好汉。你们这些贩私盐的,跟他们提鞋儿、抹屁股也不配。”I’m not a Triad myself, but I’ll vouch for every man jack of them! Fine fellows they are, and scum like you aren’t fit to carry their shoes or wipe the shit from their bum-holes!’众盐枭气得哇哇大叫,三名汉子手执钢刀,向东厢房扑了进去。The smugglers protested angrily at this abuse and three of them went charging headlong into the side-room, brandishing their swords.却听得“哎唷”、“啊哟”连声,三人一个接一个的倒飞了出来,摔在地下。In a matter of seconds howls of pain were heard, and the three came hurtling out again backwards and tumbled on to the ground.一名大汉手中钢刀反撞自己额头,鲜血长流,登时晕去。跟着又有六名盐枭先后抢进房去,但听得连声呼叫,那六人一个个都给摔了出来。One of them (a big burly fellow) had his own sword rammed down his throat and fell to the ground in a pool of blood. Six more of the gang went bursting in. More cries, and one by one they too came tumbling out.这些人兀自喝骂不休,却已无人再抢进房去。They cursed and they swore, but no one else was willing to repeat the experiment. At this point the ringleader stepped forward and peered into the side-room.

  那老者走上几步,向内张去,朦胧中见一名虬髯大汉在床上,头上包了白布,脸上并无刀疤,果然不是贾老六。In the dim light he was just able to make out the form of a great bewhiskered fellow sitting on a bed, the top of his head swathed in a white turban. There did not appear to be any trace of a scar on his face. He was most definitely not Scarface Jia.那老者大声问道:“阁下好身手,请问尊姓大名?”房内那人骂道:“你爹爹姓什么叫什么,老子自然姓什么叫什么。好小子,连你爷爷的姓名也忘记了。”’That was no mean feat, sir!’ exclaimed the older fellow. ‘Might I have the honour of knowing your name?’ ‘Just call me dad!’ barked the man. ‘Why, you young whip-persnapper, have you forgotten your own father’s name?’

  站在一旁的众妓女之中,突然有个三十来岁的中年妓女“格格”一声,笑了出来。At this one of the singsong-girls in attendance could not help giggling.一名私盐贩子抢上一步,拍拍两记耳光,打得那妓女眼泪鼻涕齐流。那盐枭骂道:“他妈的臭婊子,有什么好笑?”那妓女吓得不敢再说。A smuggler weighed in and slapped her smartly twice across the face. The unfortunate woman began sobbing and snivelling. ‘What’s the big joke, you dirty slut!’ snarled the smuggler. She was far too scared to reply.

  蓦地里大堂旁钻出一个十二三岁的男孩,大声骂道:“你敢打我妈!你这死乌龟、烂王八,A lad of twelve or thirteen came running into the salon, crying: ‘You dare hit my mum, you rotten turtle!你出门便给天打雷劈,你手背手掌上马上便生烂疔疮,烂穿你手,烂穿舌头,脓血吞下肚去,烂断你肚肠。”I hope you’re struck by lightning and your hands fall off,I hope your tongue rots, your belly fills with pus, your guts drop out, your–‘

  那盐枭大怒,伸手去抓那孩子。那孩子一闪,躲到了一名盐商身后。The smuggler who wasn’t going to stand for this went for the boy, but he darted behind one of the salt-merchants.那盐枭左手将那盐商一推,将他推得摔了一交,右手一拳,往那孩子背心重重捶了下去。The smuggler’s left hand smashed into the merchant instead and sent him flying, while with his right he swung round and began pounding away at the boy’s back.那中年妓女大惊,叫道:“大爷饶命!”那孩子甚是滑溜,一矮身,便从那盐枭胯下钻了过去,The singsong-girl (whose giggling had caused all the trouble) cried out in alarm: ‘Spare the boy, sir!’ But the boy had already ducked down between the smuggler’s legs.伸手抓出,正好抓住他的阴囊,使劲猛捏,只痛得那大汉哇哇怪叫。On his way he reached up, grabbed hold of the man’s balls and squeezed them as hard as he could. The smuggler let out a great howl of pain.那孩子却已逃了开去。那盐枭气无可泄,砰的一拳,打在那中年妓女脸上。那妓女立时晕了过去。By now the boy was well out of his reach. The smuggler began thrashing out wildly with his fists and punched the boy’s ‘mum’ straight in the face. She fell senseless to the floor.那孩子扑到她身上,叫道:“妈,妈!”那盐枭抓住孩子后领,The boy flung himself on top of her, yelping at the top of his voice: ‘Mum! Mum!’ The smuggler seized his chance.将他提了起来,正要伸拳打去,那老者喝道:“别胡吵!放下小娃子。”Grabbing the boy by the scruff of the neck, he lifted him bodily off the ground and was about to lay into him when the ringleader shouted: ‘Stop being stupid! Put the little runt down!’那盐枭放下孩子,在他屁股上踢了一脚,将他踢得几个筋斗翻将出去,砰的一声,撞在墙上。The man obeyed, but not without first giving him a kick up the backside that sent him somersaulting across the room and crashing into the far wall.

  那老者向那盐枭横了一眼,对着房门说道:The older fellow cast him an angry glance, and turned to address the following remarks to the doorway that communicated with the side-room (and its bewhiskered inhabitant): “我们是青帮弟兄,只因天地会一位姓贾的朋友公然辱骂青帮,又说在鸣玉坊中等候我们来评理,因此前来找人。’We’re from the Green Gang. One of the Triads, this fellow called Scarface, insulted us, and we came down here to the Alley to settle scores with him.阁下既然不是天地会的,又跟敝帮河水不犯井水,如何便出口伤人?请阁下留下姓名,帮主他们查问起来,也好有个交代。”Seeing as you’ve nothing to do with the Triads, sir, there’s really no cause for you and us to come to blows. If you’d just be so good as to give us your name, I’m sure everything can be sorted out.’

  房里那人笑道:“你们要寻天地会的朋友算帐,跟我什么相干?我自在这里风流快活,大家既然河水不犯井水,那便别来打扰老子兴头。不过我劝老兄一句,The man inside the room laughed: ‘I’m not interested in your little squabble! I was having a perfectly good time, until you people turned up to spoil my evening. I’ll give you a piece of advice, my friend:天地会的人,老兄是惹不起的,给人家骂了,也还是白饶,不如挟起尾巴,乖乖的去贩私盐、赚银子罢。”You leave the Triads well alone. If one of them does happen to insult you, just swallow your pride and go quietly about your business: smuggle a bit more salt, earn yourselves a bit more cash–‘那老者怒道:“江湖之上,倒没见过你这等不讲理的人。”’Why, what an insult!’ retorted the older fellow angrily. ‘The way you talk, I can see you’re not one of us!’ ‘One of you\’ sneered the other.房里那人冷冷的道:“我讲不讲理,跟你有甚相干?莫非你想招郎进舍,要叫我姊夫?”’What have you got in mind? Want to marry me off to one of your sisters? I’ll talk as I damned well please, thank you very much!’

  便在此时,门外悄悄闪进三个人来,也都是盐贩子的打扮。一个手拿链子枪的瘦子低声问道:“点子是什么来头?”At this moment three more men came skulking in, also dressed in the ‘uniform’ of the Green Gang. One of them, a skinny fellow wielding a mace and chain,muttered: ‘What’s the old codger on about?’那老者摇头道:“他不肯说,但口口声声的给天地会吹大气,说不定那姓贾的便躲在他房里。”’I don’t know,’ replied the older fellow, shaking his head. ‘Just keeps stickin’ up for the Triads. I’ll bet that turtle’s hiding in there somewhere . . .’那瘦子一摆链子枪,头一撇,那老者从腰间取出两柄尺来长的短剑。突然之间,四人一齐冲进房中。The skinny one brandished his mace and tossed his head, while the older fellow drew two foot-long swords from his sash. The next instant they went bounding into the room.

  只听得房中兵刃相交之声大作,那丽春院乃鸣玉坊四大院子之一,每间房都摆设得极为考究,梨木桌椅,红木床榻。The clash of blades rang out. Vernal Delights was one of the smartest establishments in the Alley, a five-star bordello for the rich and famous, and the rooms were all luxuriously appointed–pearwood tables and chairs, rosewood couches and bedsteads, that sort of thing.

  乒乓喀喇之声不绝,显是房中用具一件件碎裂。老鸨脸上肥肉直抖,口中念佛,心痛无已。It soon became dear (from the infernal din) that the fight was taking a heavy toll on the furniture. The Madame’s fleshy jowls quivered and she started mumbling frantic prayers to the Lord Buddha, and looking more than a little souffrante.那四名盐枭不断吆喝呼叫,房中那客人却默不作声。厅堂上众人都站得远远地,唯恐遭上池鱼之殃。The guests in the main salon huddled together as far from the scene of action as possible, anxious lest they too be dragged in–like the proverbial fish, innocently caught in the moat of a burning city.但听得兵刃碰撞之声越来越快,忽然有人长声惨呼,猜想是一名盐枭头目受了伤。The din continued to mount, and then there was a long drawn-out howl of pain. It sounded as if one of the smugglers had received a serious blow.

  那踢倒了孩子的大汉阴囊兀自痛得厉害,见那孩子从墙边爬起身来,恼怒之下,Meanwhile the big burly fellow who’d landed the boy a boot in the backside, and whose testicles were still very tender, saw his little tormentor go creeping across the room, and his blood began boiling with rage again.挥拳又向他打去。那孩子侧身闪避,那大汉反手一记耳光,打得那孩子转了两个圈子。He went for him, launching an all-out attack this time, waving his fists wildly in the air. The boy dodged but his opponent succeeded in fetching him a box on the ear which sent him spinning twice round the room.众龟奴、盐商眼见这盐枭如此凶狠,再打下去势必要将那孩子活活打死,可是谁也不敢出言相劝。The serving-boys and the salt-merchants could see the man was in an uncontrollable fury, and quite liable to kill the little fellow, but none of them dared intervene.那大汉右拳举起,又往孩子头顶击落。那孩子向前一冲,无地可避,便即推开厢房房门,奔了进去。When the man brought up his right fist and aimed a massive punch at the boy’s head, the boy bolted in the only direction left open to him–through the doorway and into the side-room where the other fracas was taking place.厅上众人都是“啊”的一声。那大汉一怔,却不敢冲入房中追打。The audience in the main room let out a great gasp, and the boy’s hefty pursuer stopped dead in his tracks. He wasn’t going in there.

  那孩子奔进厢房,一时瞧不清楚,At first, as he tried to size up the situation in the side-room, the boy could not make out what the devil was going on.突然间兵刃相交,当的一声,迸出几星火花,只见床上坐着一人,满头缠着白布绷带,形状可怖。他只吓得“啊”的一声大叫。Then amid the sparks thrown off by the clashing blades he distinguished the form of a man sitting on the bed, his head swathed in a white turban-like bandage; it was a fearful sight, and the boy let out a gasp of terror.火星闪过,房中又黑,厅上灯烛之光从房门中照映进来,渐渐看清,那头缠绷带之人手提单刀,挥舞格斗。Once more blades clashed and steel flashed and then the room was dark again. Gradually the lamplight from the main salon filtered in through the doorway, and he could see that the man with the bandaged head had a cutlass in his hand, which he was using as best he could to ward off his attackers.四名盐枭头目已只剩下两名,两名瘦子都躺在地下,只有手握双短剑的老者和一名魁梧汉子仍在相斗。Two of the more lightweight smugglers were already lying on the ground, but the other two were still going strong: the older fellow with his two swords, and another towering hulk of a man.那孩子心想:“这人头上受了重伤,站都站不起来,打不过这些私盐贩子的。老子得赶快逃走。但不知妈妈怎样了?”That head looks badly wounded, ‘ thought the boy to himself. ‘He can’t even stand up. He’ll never get the better of those salt-peddlers. I’ll have to get the hell out of here. But what about Mum?’

  他想起母亲被人殴辱。气往上冲,He remembered how his mother had been struck in the face, and the insults to which she had been subjected, and rage surged in his young breast.隔着厢房门大骂:“贼王八,你奶奶的熊,我操你十八代祖宗的臭盐皮Turtle-spawn!’ he yelled back through the doorway. ‘Cowards! Salt–that’s all you’re good for! Sod the lot of you, you and all your foul pickled ancestors!……你私盐贩子家里盐多,奶奶、老娘、老婆死了,都用盐腌了起来,拿到街上当母猪肉卖,一文钱三斤,可没人买这臭咸肉……”Go and salt your grannies’ fannies and sell them as pickled pork–if anyone’ll buy the stinking stuff!’厅上那盐枭听他骂得恶毒阴损,心下大怒,想冲进房去抓来几拳打死,却又不敢进房。This, needless to say, put the salt-smugglers in an even greater fury, and they would have rushed in and given the boy a good drubbing, had they not been too frightened to enter the darkened room.

  房中那人突然间单刀一侧,刷的一声响,砍入那魁梧大汉的左肩,连肩骨都砍断了。那大汉惊天动地般大声呼叫,摇摇欲倒。The man on the bed suddenly lunged sideways with his cutlass: the blade swished through the air and sliced into the left shoulder of one of his two assailants–the big burly one–removing a goodly chunk of flesh and bone and sending the man tottering away in howls of pain.那老者双剑齐出,刺向那人胸口。那人举刀格开,便在此时,拍的一声闷响,那大汉一鞭击中他右肩,The older fellow now raised both his swords and went for the chest of the bandaged man, who parried with his cutlass. There was a dull thud: the burly one was back meanwhile (minus the missing chunk), and had brought his metal stock down on the man’s right shoulder.单刀当啷落地。那老者一声吆喝,双剑疾刺。那人左掌翻出,喀喇喇几声响,那老者肋骨纷断,直飞出房,狂喷鲜血,晕倒在地。The cutlass fell to the ground with a clang. The older fellow now gave a ferocious yell and closed in with both swords. The man on the bed flailed out with his left fist: a series of nasty crunching sounds ensued and the older fellow (his ribs considerably the worse for wear) went hurtling out of the room, spattering blood and collapsing in a heap on the ground.

  那大汉虽左肩重伤,仍然勇悍之极,举起钢鞭,向那人头顶击落。The burly one, despite his badly wounded shoulder, was still breathing fire. He summoned his last drop of energy to raise his metal stock and strike at the crown of his adversary’s head.那人却不闪避,竟似筋疲力尽,已然动弹不得。那大汉的力气也所余无几,钢鞭击落之势甚缓。The bandaged man seemed incapable of evading the blow; he looked as if his strength was spent and he could barely move. The stock made its way slowly through the air.

  那孩子眼见危急,起了敌忾同仇之心,疾冲而前,抱住那大汉的双腿,猛力向后拉扯。The boy could see it happening, and the crisis spurred him into action. He dashed forward and grabbed the assailant by both legs, tugging him backwards for all he was worth.这大汉少说也有二百来斤,那孩子瘦瘦小小,平时休想动他分毫,The man must have weighed at least twenty stone, and the boy was only a skinny thing. Normally he wouldn’t have stood a chance of budging him.但此刻他重伤之下,全仗一口气支持,突然给那孩子一拉,一交摔倒,躺在血泊中动也不动了。But because of his wound the man was already nearly done for, and the suddenness of the boy’s attack pulled him off balance. He tumbled to the ground and lay motionless in a pool of blood.

  床上那人喘了几口气,大声笑道:“有种的进来打!”那孩子连连摇手,要他不可再向外人挑战。The man on the bed gasped for breath and then shouted out loud: ‘Anyone else looking for a beating?’ The boy gesticulated frantically, to warn him not to provoke the salt-smugglers any further.当那老者飞出房外之时,撞得厢房门忽开忽合,此刻房门兀自来回晃动,厅上烛光射进房来。照在那人虬髯如草、满染血污的脸上,说不出的狰狞可畏。The old man, on his way out, had set the door swinging, and the lamplight from the main salon shone inside, intermittently illuminating the man on the bed, with his overgrown tangle of whiskers and his blood-stained face. He was a ghastly sight.

  厅上众盐枭瞧不清房中情形,骇然相顾,只听得房中那人又喝:“王八蛋,你们不敢进来,老子就出来一个个杀了。”Back outside the smugglers stared at each other aghast, unable to make out exactly what was going on. The man bellowed again: Turtle-spawn! If you’re too scared to come in, then I’ll come out and kill the lot of you!’众盐枭一声喊,抬起地下伤者,纷纷夺门而出。The salt-smugglers let out a gasp of terror, picked their wounded up from the floor, and made for the main doorway as fast as they could.

  那人哈哈大笑,低声道:“孩子,你……你去将门闩上了。”The man on the bed started laughing, then turning to the boy, said, sotto voce: ‘Bolt the door, kid!’

  那孩子心想这门是非闩不可的,忙应道:“是!”将房门闩上,慢慢走到床前,黑暗中只闻到一阵阵血腥气。’Yes sir’ The boy acted at once and, having made the door fast, walked slowly back through the darkened room towards the bed, breathing in the reek of freshly spilt blood.那人道:“你……你……”一句话未说完,忽然身子一侧,似是晕了过去,身子摇晃,便欲掉下床来。’You . . . must. . .’ Before he could say another word, the man slumped to one side. He seemed to have lost consciousness, and his body was about to slide to the ground.那孩子忙抢上扶住,这人身子极重,奋力将他扶正,将他脑袋放在枕上。那人呼呼喘气,隔了一会,低声道:The boy dashed forward to prop him up. The body weighed a ton, and it was all he could do to heave him up again on to the bed and prop his head on the pillow. The man took several gasps for breath, and after a while muttered: “那些贩盐的转眼又来,我力气未复,可得避……避他妈的一避。”伸手撑起身子,似是碰到了痛处,大哼了一声。They’ll be back any moment. I’ve no strength left. I must get away from them–‘ He tried to lift himself up, and groaned with pain.

  那孩子过去扶他,那人道:“拾起刀,递给我!”The boy supported him. ‘Pick up the cutlass! Give it to me!’那孩子拾起地下单刀,递入他右手,那人缓缓从床上下来,身子不住摇晃。那孩子走将过去,将右肩承在他左腋之下。The boy did as he was told, and slowly and unsteadily the man lowered himself from the bed. The boy stood at his left side, taking the man’s weight on his right shoulder.那人道:“我要出去了,你别扶我。否则给那些贩盐的见到,连你也杀了。”那孩子道:“他妈的,杀就杀,我可不怕,咱们好朋友讲义气,非扶你不可。”’I must get away, ‘ said the man. ‘Let go of me. If they see you they’ll kill you.’ Tuck them!’ cried the boy. ‘Let them kill me! I’m not scared. I’m talking about Honour! Friends should stick together, and I’m sticking by you.’那人哈哈大笑,笑声中夹着连连咳嗽,笑道:“你跟我讲义气?”那小孩道:“干么不讲?好朋友有福同享,有难同当。”The man laughed loudly–which brought on a fit of coughing. ‘Honour, is it, boy? Friends, is it?’ ‘Yes. Friends should stick together, and share everything together, the rough and the smooth!’

  扬州市上茶馆中颇多说书之人,讲述《三国志》、《水浒传》、《大明英烈传》等等英雄故事。Gende Reader, we should perhaps explain that the storytellers who plied their trade in the tea-houses of Yangzhou were forever regaling their audiences with the heroic exploits of the great ages of Chinese Chivalry and Romance–episodes from the great sagas like The Three Kingdoms, Outlaws of the Marsh, or Heroes of the Ming.这小孩日夜在妓院、赌场、茶馆、酒楼中钻进钻出,替人跑腿买物,揩点油水,讨几个赏钱,一有空闲,便蹲在茶桌旁听白书。他对茶馆中茶博士大叔前大叔后的叫得口甜,茶博士也就不赶他走。And our young friend, who was forever dashing from bawdy-house to gambling-den, from tea-house to eating-place, on one errand or another, day and night, would, whenever he had a free moment, squat down by one of the tables and listen to whatever story was being told (he was always obsequiously polite to the tea-house proprietor, and as a result was never chased away).他听书听得多了,对故事中英雄好汉极是心醉,He’d heard the stories told over and over again, and his young mind was alive with epic tales of derring-do, and peopled with the heroes of China’s past and their wonderful exploits.眼见此人重伤之余,仍能连伤不少盐枭头目,心下仰慕,书中英雄常说的语句便即脱口而出。So when he saw this man sorely wounded, and yet still capable of despatching several dastardly salt-smugglers single-handed, he felt as if he’d finally come face to face with one of his idols. It was only natural that he should begin to think and talk as if he were living in one of the storytellers’ tales.

  那人哈哈大笑,说道:“这两句话说得好。老子在江湖上听人说过了几千百遍,有福共享的家伙见得多了,有难同当的人却碰不到几个。咱们走罢!”’Nicely spoken, young man!’ laughed his new-found hero. ‘I’ve heard the same words spoken a million times among the Brothers of River and Lake. But when it comes down to it there are always plenty to take the smooth and precious few to share the rough! Come on, we’d best be on our way!’

  那小孩子以右肩承着那人左臂,打开房门,走到厅上。众人一见,都是骇然失色,四散避开。那小孩的母亲叫道:“小宝,小宝,你到哪里去?”The boy hoisted the man’s arm on to his shoulder, opened the door, and stumbled out into the salon. The others gasped and retreated from them in terror. The boy’s mother cried out: Trinket! Trinket! Where do you think you’re going?’那小孩道:“我送这位朋友出门去,就回来的。”那人笑道:“这位朋友!哈哈,我成了你的朋友啦!”小孩的母亲叫道:“不要去,你快躲起来。”那孩子笑了笑,迈着大步走出大厅。’Just seeing my friend on his way,’ replied the boy. ‘I’ll be back.’ ‘Friend!’ chuckled the man. ‘So I’m your friend, eh?’ ‘Don’t go!’ cried the mother. ‘Hide, for goodness sake! Quickly!’ The boy laughed, and the two of them made their way out of the room.

  两人走出丽春院,巷中静悄悄的竟然无人,Trinket and Whiskers become acquainted on the Road to Victory Hill The two of them walked out of Vernal Delights, and into the Alley, which was now silent and deserted.想必众盐枭遇上劲敌,回头搬救兵去了。The smugglers must have gone for reinforcements.

  那人转出巷子,来到小街之上,抬头看了看天上星辰,道:“咱们向西走!”走出数丈,迎面赶来一辆驴车。The man turned into a narrow side-street. He looked up at the night sky. ‘We’d better head west!’ They’d walked a few paces, when a donkey-cart came rumbling towards them.那人喝道:“雇车!”赶车的停了下来,眼见二人满身血污,脸有讶异疑忌之色。那人从怀中取出一锭银子,约有四五两重,道:“银子先拿去!”’Driver!’ called the man. The cart stopped. But when the driver saw that they were both spattered with blood, he seemed more than a little suspicious. Then the man took a lump of silver from his jacket–five taels: ‘Here! Here’s your money–in advance!’那赶车的见银锭不小,当即停车,放下踏板。那人慢慢将身子移到车上,从怀中摸出一只十两重的元宝,交给那小孩,说道:“小朋友,我走了,这只元宝给你。”Five taels was not an amount to be sniffed at, and the driver let down the footboard of his cart. The man heaved himself slowly up, produced an even larger ingot of silver–ten taels this time– and handed it to the boy. ‘I really must be going now, young guy. This is for you.’那小孩见到这只大元宝,不禁骨嘟一声,吞了口馋诞,暗暗叫道:“好家伙!”The sight of this enormous lump of silver made the boy gulp, then swallow, then mutter inaudibly to himself: ‘Cor! What a beauty!’但他听过不少侠义故事,知道英雄好汉只交朋友,不爱金钱,But many were the stories he’d heard told of Heroes Brave and True, the Brothers of River and Lake, or the ‘kungfu fraternity’ as they sometimes called themselves, and in every story the real heroes valued friendship above everything else, they didn’t care a fig for money.今日好容易有机会做上英雄好汉,说什么也要做到底,可不能脓包贪钱,Here was his chance to be a hero, it was staring him in the face, and nothing was going to make him give it up for the sake of money! He had no intention of stooping to the level of a filthy little mercenary!大声道:“咱们只讲义气,不要钱财。你送元宝给我,便是瞧我不起。你身上有伤,我送你一程。”’What matters to us,’ he declared proudly, ‘is Honour and Chivalry. Money is nothing. By giving me money, you’re saying you despise me. You are wounded, sir; I shall stay by your side.’

  那人一怔,仰天狂笑,说道:“好极,好极,有点意思!”将元宝收入怀中。The man stared at him in utter disbelief, then looked up at the sky and let out a great guffaw. Terrific!’ he cried. ‘Marvellous! I like it!’ He put the silver back in his pocket.那小孩爬上驴车,坐在他身旁。车夫问道:“客官,去哪里?”那人道:“到城西,得胜山!”The boy climbed up on to the cart and sat beside him. ‘Where to, sir?’ asked the driver. ‘West of the city,’ said the man. ‘Victory Hill.’车夫一怔,道:“得胜山?这深更半夜去城西吗?”那人道:“不错!”手中单刀在车辕上轻轻一拍。’Victory Hill!’ repeated the driver with horror. ‘West of the city–at this time of night?’ That’s right,’ affirmed the man. He tapped the wheels of the cart lightly with his cutlass.车夫心中害怕,忙道:“是,是!”放下车帷,赶驴出城。那人闭目养神,呼吸急促,有时咳嗽几声。’Very good sir!’ cried the terrified driver smartly. He let down the curtains and drove out of the city. The man closed his eyes and rested, his breath coming in quick gasps, interspersed with the occasional cough.

  得胜山在扬州城西北三十里的大仪乡,南宋绍兴年间,韩世忠曾在此处大破金兵,因此山名“得胜”。 Victory Hill stands ten miles or so to the north-west of Yangzhou. It was here, during the Shao Xing reign of the Southern Song dynasty, that the great Chinese General Han Shizhong routed the Jurched Tartars–hence its name.车夫赶驴甚急,只一个多时辰,便到了山下,说道:“客官,得胜山到啦!”那人见那山只七八丈高,不过是个小丘,呸的一声,问道:“这便是他妈的得胜山吗?”车夫道:“正是!”The driver made good speed, and in a couple of hours they were at the foot of the hill. ‘Here we are, gentlemen!’那小孩道:“这确是得胜山。我妈和姊妹们去英烈夫人庙烧香,我跟着来,曾在这里玩过。再过去一点子路,便是英烈夫人庙了。”The man looked out and saw a little hillock, it can’t have been more than a hundred feet high. He snorted contemptuously. ‘Call this pathetic looking thing Victory Hill!’ ‘Yes sir\’ answered the driver promptly. ‘It is,’ confirmed the boy. ‘I’ve been out here with my mum and the girls. They come here to burn incense at the shrine to the Hero’s Lady, and I usually muck about. The shrine’s a bit further on.’那英烈夫人庙供奉的是韩世忠夫人梁红玉,扬州人又称之为“异娼庙”。梁红玉年轻时做过妓女,风尘中识得韩世忠。This ‘Hero’s Lady’ was in fact the wife of the above-mentioned General. She was a former singsong-girl who had met the great warrior when she was young and had subsequently become his lady wife.扬州妓女每年必到英烈夫人庙烧香许愿,祈祷这位宋朝的安国夫人有灵,照顾后代的同行姊妹。She was no mean fighter herself.After her death she became the patron saint of all the local singsong-girls.那人道:“你既知道,就不会错。下去罢。”那小孩跳下车来,扶着那人下车。眼见四周黑沉沉地,心想:“是了,此地甚是荒野,躲在这里,那些贩盐的贼坯一定找不到。”’Well, I’m sure you’d know,’ said the man. ‘Let’s get down.’ The boy jumped off the cart and helped the man down. It was pitch-black all around them. This should be a good spot to hide,’ thought the boy to himself. Those lousy smugglers will never find us here.’

  赶车的生怕这满身是血之人又要他载往别处,拉转驴头,扬鞭欲行。那人道:“且慢,你将这个小朋友带回城去。”The driver meanwhile was worried that his blood-spattered customers might be wanting to take another trip, and he steered his donkey round and made to set off. ‘Hold it!’ called out the man. Take this boy back to town with you!’车夫道:“是!”那小孩道:“我便多陪你一会。明儿一早,我好给你去买馒头吃。”那人道:“你真的要陪我?”那小孩道:“没人服侍你,可不大对头。”那人又是哈哈大笑,对车夫道:“那你回去罢!”车夫忙不迭的赶车便行。’Yes sirl’ ‘I’ll stay with you a bit longer,’ protested the boy. ‘In’ the morning I can go and buy you a steamed bun for breakfast.’ ‘Do you really want to stay?’ ‘You need someone to look after you. It wouldn’t be right otherwise.’ The man guffawed again and turned to the driver: ‘Oh very well–off you go!’ The driver needed no further encouragement.

  那人走到一块岩石上坐下,眼见驴车走远,四下里更无声息,突然喝道:“柳树后面的两个乌龟王八蛋,给老子滚了出来。”The man went and sat down on a nearby rock. When the cart was well into the distance, and all was quiet, he suddenly shouted: ‘Come on out of there from behind that willow tree, you two poxy turtle-heads! And look smart!’

  那小孩吓了一跳,心道:“这里有人?”果见柳树后面两人慢慢走了出来,两人白布缠头,青带系腰,自是盐枭一伙了。The boy was dumbfounded. ‘Is someone there?’ he gasped. Sure enough, two men sneaked out from behind a nearby willow. They both wore white headbands and black sashes, and were clearly members of the salt-smugglers’ gang.两人手中所握钢刀一闪一闪,走了两步,便即站住。那人喝道:“乌龟儿子王八蛋,从窖子里一直盯着老子到这里,却不上来送死,干什么了?”Swords glinted in their hands. They took a couple of paces forward and stood still. ‘Foul turtle-spawn!’ cried the man. ‘You trailed me all the way from the whore-house: but you’re afraid to die, aren’t you? Go on, run for it while you can!’那小孩心道:“是了,他们要查明这人到了哪里,好搬救兵来杀他。”’He’s right,’ thought the boy. ‘They were just sent to trail him, and must have been planning to sneak off later and get reinforcements.’

  那两人低声商议了几句,转身便奔。那人急跃而起,待要追赶,“嗳”的一声,复又坐倒。The two smugglers muttered something to one another and made a dash for it. The man leaped to his feet to give chase, but then let out a loud groan and sat down again.他重伤之余,已无力追人。那小孩心道:“驴车已去,我们两人没法走远,这两人去通风报讯,大队人马杀来,那可糟糕。”He was still too weak from his wounds for any such exertion. Things are looking pretty bad,’ thought the boy to himself. The donkey-cart’s gone and we’re stuck here, and those two will soon be back with more men, looking for blood.’突然间放声大哭,叫道:“啊哟,你怎么死了?死不得啊,你不能死啊!”Suddenly he let out a great cry: ‘Oh don’t die! Please! Oh why did you have to die?’ The two smugglers were running hell-for-leather when they heard this and stopped dead in their tracks. The boy went on: ‘You mustn’t die! You can’t!’二名盐枭正自狂奔,忽听得小孩哭叫,一怔之下,立时停步转身,只听得他大声哭叫:“你怎么死了?”不由得又惊又喜。一人道:“这恶贼死了?”另一人道:“他受伤很重,挨不住了。这小鬼如此哭法,自然是死了。”The smugglers were shocked, and not a little delighted. ‘So the old rogue’s dead then, is he?’ said one. ‘He took some nasty wounds. They must have done him in. He must be dead–just listen to the way the kid’s carrying on!’远远望去,只见那人蜷成一团,卧在地下。先一人道:“就算没死,也不用怕他了。咱们割了他脑袋回去,岂不是大功一件?”另一人道:“妙极!”两人挺着单刀,慢慢走近。All they could see, from where they stood, was the man curled up on the ground at the boy’s feet. ‘Even if he’s not dead, ‘ continued the first, ‘there’ll be no fight left in him. Let’s go and cut his head off! That would really be something to tell the others!’ ‘Brilliant!’ exclaimed the second, and the two of them drew their swords and stealthily approached.只听那小孩兀自在捶胸顿足,放声号啕,一面叫道:“老兄,你怎么忽然死了?那些贩私盐的追来,我怎抵挡得了?”The boy was still beating his breast, stamping his feet, and howling pitifully: ”Dear brother, why have you gone and left me like this? The smugglers will be back for me and I’ll be done for!’ This was music to their ears.

  那二人大喜,奔跃而前。一人喝道:“恶贼,死得正好!”抓住了那小孩的背心,另一人便举刀往那人颈中砍去。They quickened their pace. ‘He had it coming to him, the scurvy knave!’ yelled one of them, grabbing the boy by his jacket, while the other raised his sword and brought it down in the direction of the man’s neck.突然间刀光一闪,一人脑袋飞去,抓住小孩之人自胸至腹,开了一道长长的口子。那人哈哈大笑,撑起身来。Suddenly a blade flashed, the head of one smuggler went flying through the air, and the one holding the boy was left with a gaping hole somewhere between his chest and his belly. The whiskered man let out a great snort of laughter and heaved himself up from the ground.那小孩哭道:“啊哟,这位贩私盐的朋友怎么没了脑袋?

  你两位老人家去见了阎王,又有谁回去通风报信哪?这可不是糟了吗?”说到最后,忍不住大笑。’Phew1.’ cried the boy. This salt-smuggling friend of ours over here seems to be missing his head! Now that these two have gone to hell, to report to King Yama, there’ll be no one left to tell the others where we are! Dear oh dearie me!’ And with these last words, he too burst out laughing.

  那人笑道:“你这小鬼当真聪明得紧,哭得也真像。若不是这么一哭,这两个王八蛋还真不会过来。”’You’re a clever little tike!’ said the man, with a grin. ‘And you certainly know how to wail! Without that performance of yours they’d never have come back!’那小孩笑道:“要装假哭,还不容易?我妈要打我,鞭子还没上身,我已哭得死去活来,她下鞭时自然不会重了。”’Wailing’s no problem,’ quipped the boy. ‘I can do it for you any time. When my mum takes a stick to me, I wail like crazy just before it lands. That way she never dares hit me too hard.’那人道:“你娘干么打你?”那小孩道:“那不一定,有时是我偷了她的钱,有时为了我作弄院中的闵婆、尤叔。”’What does she beat you for?’ That depends. Sometimes it’s because I’ve stolen money from her; sometimes it’s because I’ve been giving one of the customers a hard time.’

  那人叹了一口气,说道:The man sighed: “这两个探子倘若不杀,可当真有些儿不妙。喂,刚才你假哭时,怎地你不叫我老爷、大叔,却叫我老兄?”’We had to kill those two. We had no choice. But tell me one thing: just now, when you were doing your wailing act, I thought I heard you call me “brother”–shouldn’t it have been “uncle” or “sir”?’那小孩道:“你是我朋友,自然叫你老兄。你是他妈的什么老爷了?你如要我叫你老爷,鬼才理你?”’But we’re friends,’ replied the boy. ‘And friends are brothers. What sort of sir would you be, anyhow? Me call you “sir”? You must be kidding!’

  那人哈哈大笑,说道:“很好!小朋友,你叫什么名字?”那小孩道:“你问我尊姓大名吗?我叫小宝。”那人笑道:“你大名叫小宝,那么尊姓呢?”The man guffawed: ‘I like it! Tell me, young’un, what’s your name?’ Trinket,’said the boy, after a moment’s hesitation. ‘No, I mean your full name?’那小孩眉头一皱,说道:“我……我尊姓韦。”The boy frowned. ‘Wei–Trinket Wei.’

  这小孩生于妓院之中,母亲叫做韦春花,父亲是谁,连他母亲也不知道,The truth was that the boy had been born and raised in the whore-house, and had certainly never been to school. While his mother’s name was Wei, Spring Fragrance Wei, even she had never been able to work out who his father was.人人一向都叫他小宝,也从来无人问他姓氏。此刻那人忽然问起,他就将母亲的姓搬了出来。这韦小宝生于妓院,长于妓院,从没读过书。他自称“尊姓大名”,倒不是说笑,只是听说书的常常提到“尊姓大名”四字,不知乃是向别人说话时的尊敬称呼,用在自己身上,可不合适。People just called him Trinket, and no one ever bothered to ask him for his ‘full name’. When the man put him on the spot, he just used his mother’s name, without thinking.

  他跟着问道:“那你尊姓大名叫作什么?”那人微微一笑,说道:“你既当我是朋友,我便不能瞒你。我姓茅,茅草之茅,不是毛虫之虫,排行第十八。茅十八便是我了。”What’s yours?’ Trinket asked. The man smiled. ‘Since you’ve treated me as your friend, I’ll not tell you a lie. My family name is Mao, and as I’m the eighteenth of that name in my generation, I’m often called Eighteen. But people usually call me Whiskers.’韦小宝“啊”的一声,跳了起来,说道:“我听人说过的,官府……官府不是正在捉拿你吗?说你是什么江洋大盗。”茅十八嘿的一声,道:“不错,你怕不怕我?”Trinket leaped excitedly in the air. ‘I know who you are! The police are after you, aren’t they! You’re that Notorious Brigand, aren’t you!’ Whiskers chuckled: ‘Sounds like me. Scared?’ Why should I be?’韦小宝笑道:“怕什么?我又没金银财宝,你要抢钱,也不会抢我的。江洋大盗又打什么紧?《水浒传》上林冲、武松那些英雄好汉,也都是大强盗。”Laughed Trinket. ‘I haven’t got a penny. You won’t get anything off me. So what if you are, a Notorious Brigand. So were the Outlaws of the Marsh–and they’re my heroes!’茅十八甚是高兴,说道:“你拿我和林冲、武松那些大英雄相比,那可好得很。官府要捉拿我,你是听谁说的?”’Most flattered by the comparison, my boy!’ chuckled Whiskers delightedly. ‘And who was it told you the police were after me?’

  韦小宝道:“扬州城里贴满了榜文,说是捉拿江洋大盗茅十八,又是什么格杀不论,只要有人杀了你,赏银二千两,倘若有人通风报信,因而捉到你,那就少赏些,赏银一千两。’Well, there are posters all over town. “Wanted: The Notorious Brigand Whiskers Mao, Dead or Alive, Reward Two Thousand Taels of Silver. A Lesser Reward of One Thousand Taels for Information leading to his Arrest.”昨天我还在茶馆听大家谈论,说道你这样大的本事,要捉住你,杀了你,那是不用想了,最好是知道你的下落,向官府通风报信,领得一千两银子的赏格,倒是一注横财。”I heard them talking about it yesterday in the tea-house. They all said you were much too smart to be caught. But all the same, someone could always inform the police and pocket the reward. It’d certainly be a nice little windfall.’茅十八侧着头看着他,嘿的一声。Whiskers looked at Trinket, cocked his head to one side, and gave a little snort.

  韦小宝心中闪过一个念头:“我如得了这一千两赏银,我和妈娘儿俩可有得花了,鸡鸭鱼肉,赌钱玩乐,几年也花不光。”A sudden thought flashed through Trinket’s mind: ‘Suppose I were to pocket the reward? With all that money to spend, just imagine the fine old time Mum and I could have, wining and dining, gambling, and having fun till kingdom come.’见茅十八仍是侧头瞧着自己,脸上神气颇有些古怪,韦小宝怒道:“你心里在想什么?你猜我会去通风报信,领这赏银?”茅十八道:“是啊,白花花的银子,谁又不爱?”韦小宝怒骂:“操你奶奶!出卖朋友,还讲什么江湖义气?”茅十八道:“那也只好由你。”Whiskers was still looking at him, a decidedly old-fashioned kind of look. ‘And just what are you thinking?’ snapped Trinket. Think I’d tell on a friend? Is that what you think I’d do? Call that Honour? Call that Brotherhood?’ ‘It’s up to you.’

  韦小宝道:“你既信不过我,为什么说了真名字出来?你头上脸上缠了这许多布条,和榜文上的图形完全不同了。你不说你是茅十八,谁又认得你?”’If you didn’t trust me, why’d you go and tell me your real name?’ protested Trinket. ‘With all those bandages round your head, you don’t look anything like the poster. No one would ever have recognized you.’茅十八道:“你说咱们有福共享,有难共当。我倘若连自己姓名身分也瞒了你,那还算什么他妈巴羔子的好朋友?”

  韦小宝大喜,说道:“对极!就算有一万两、十万两银子的赏金,老子也决不会去通风报信。”’You were the one who said we were to stick together through thick and thin. What sort of friends would we be if I didn’t even tell you my real name?’ ‘Exactly!’ cried Trinket excitedly. ‘So don’t you see, I’d never tell on you, not if they offered me a hundred thousand taels!’心中却想:“倘若真有一万两、十万两银子的赏格,出卖朋友的事要不要做?”颇有点打不定主意。’I wonder, though, ‘ Trinket was meanwhile thinking quietly to himself. ‘For a hundred thousand–would I, or wouldn’t I?’ He wasn’t quite sure.

  茅十八道:“好,咱们便睡一会,明日午时,有两个朋友要来找我。我们约好在扬州城西得胜山相会,死约会,不见不散。”’Right, ‘ declared Whiskers. ‘It’s time for us both to get some shut-eye. Tomorrow at noon I’ve got a couple of mates coming to see me. I swore a solemn oath I’d be here waiting for them.’

  韦小宝乱了一日,早已神困眼倦,听他这么一说,靠在树干上便即睡着了。Trinket was exhausted after all the day’s excitement, and fell asleep at once, propped against a tree.

  次日醒来,只见茅十八双手按胸,笑道:“你也醒了,你把这两个死人拖到树后面去,将三把刀子磨一磨。”When he awoke the following morning, he looked up and saw Whiskers leaning over him. ‘Up you get, my boy! You’d better shift those two bodies over behind that tree, and give all three blades a sharpen while you’re at it.’

  韦小宝依言拖开死人,其时朝阳初升,这才看清楚茅十八约莫四十来岁年纪,手臂上肌肉盘虬,目闪精光,神情威猛,Trinket did as he was told. The sun had just risen, and in the light of day, as he dragged the bodies away, he was able to form a clearer impression of what Whiskers really looked like. He was a man in his forties: his hands and arms were all gnarled muscle, a keen look shone in his eyes, a fierce expression lit up his face.当下将三柄钢刀拿到溪水之旁,蘸了水,在一块石头上磨了起来。心想:“对付盐贩子,有一把刀也够了。Trinket took the three swords down to the stream, dipped them in the water and started sharpening them on a stone, musing to himself the while: ‘One sword was enough for him against those salt-smugglers.倘若这茅老兄给人杀了,余下两柄刀又磨来干什么?难道让人用来杀我韦小宝吗?”他向来懒惰,装模作样的磨了一会刀,道:“我去买些油条馒头来吃。”But if he gets killed, what good will the other two be to me? Why bother sharpening them? For someone else to kill me with?’ He’d always had an incurably lazy nature, so after going through the motions a little longer he called out to his friend: ‘I think I’ll go and get some fritters and rolls for breakfast!’

  茅十八道:“哪里有油条馒头卖?”韦小宝道:“过去那边没多远,有个小市镇。茅大哥,你身边银子,借几两来使使?”’And where do you think you’re going to find those, out here in the middle of nowhere?’ ‘Not too far back I noticed a little village. If you’ll just lend us a tael or two, Whiskers my old mate茅十八一笑,又取出那只元宝,说过:“哥儿俩你的就是我的,我的就是你的,拿去使便了,说什么借不借的?”’Lend?’ chortled Whiskers, pulling out the big ingot he’d offered Trinket the previous evening. ‘I thought we were supposed to be brothers! What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine! Here, take this, spend whatever you need.’韦小宝大喜,心想:“这好汉真拿我当朋友看待,便有一万两银子的赏格,我也不能去报官。十万两呢?这倒有点儿伤脑筋。呸,凭他这副德性,值得这么多银子?我也不用伤脑筋啦。”Trinket was completely bowled over. ‘He really does think of me as his friend!’ he thought to himself. ‘He’s a Brave Man and True, if ever there was one! And I’m his friend] Why, I’d never betray him, not for ten thousand taels! Or a hundred thousand! . . . Well, I wonder. But they’d never offer such a big reward for someone like Whiskers, so what’s the point of even thinking about it!’接过银子,问道:“要不要给你买什么伤药?”茅十八道:“不用了,我自己有伤药。”韦小宝道:“好,我去了。茅大哥,你放心,倘若公差捉住了我,就算杀了我脑袋,我也决不说你就是茅十八。”He took the money. ‘Want me to buy you anything for your wound?’ ‘No need,’ replied Whiskers. ‘I’ve got what I need.’ ‘I’m off, then. Don’t worry, Whiskers old mate, if the cops catch me, they can kill me, I’ll never give you away.’茅十八见他说得真诚,点了点头。Whiskers could see he meant it, and nodded.

  韦小宝自言自语:“你还有两个朋友来,最好再买一壶酒,来几斤熟牛肉。”茅十八喜道:“有酒肉最好,快去快回,吃饱了好厮杀。”’If you’ve got friends coming,’ Trinket went on, as if talking to himself, ‘I’d better get a jug of wine and a few catties of cold beef.’ ‘Good idea!’ rejoined Whiskers. ‘And hurry up about it: I kill better on a full stomach.’韦小宝惊道:“盐贩子知道你在这里?就要追来?”’Kill?’ said Trinket in some surprise. ‘Are the salt-smugglers coming after you again? Do they know you’re here after all?’茅十八道:“不是!我约了别的人到得胜山来打架,否则巴巴的赶来干什么?”韦小宝吁了口气,道:“你身上有伤,怎么能再打架?这场架吗,等伤好了再打不迟,只不过……只不过就怕人家不肯。”’No! I’ve sworn to fight it out with someone else–to the death. Why else do you think I came here in such a hurry?’ Trinket drew in a sharp breath: ‘But you’re badly wounded! How can you fight in the state you’re in? You should wait until you’re better. . . But I suppose the other party would never agree to that.’

  茅十八道:“呸,人家是有名的英雄好汉,怎能不肯?是我不肯。今天是三月廿九,是不是?’That’s where you’re wrong. The other party is a Brave Man and True, and I’m sure he’d agree to a postponement. But I’d never ask him. Today is the twenty-ninth of the third month, isn’t it?半年之前,这场架便约好了的。后来我给官府捉了关在牢里,牵记着这场约会,非来不可,只好越狱赶来,That’s the date we fixed upon six months ago, before I was arrested and put in jail. Come what may I knew I had to keep this appointment. That’s why I had to break out.越狱时杀了几个鹰爪孙,扬州城里才这么闹得乱糟糟的,悬下他妈的赏格捉拿老子。Unfortunately, I killed one or two of my jailers in the process. It caused a big stir in Yangzhou. They went and put up a poster and offered a reward for my capture, the bastards! 他奶奶的,偏生前天又遇上好几个功夫很硬的鹰爪子,杀了他们三个,自己竟还受了点伤,也真算倒足了大霉。”And then a couple of days ago I ran into a few more of them, not bad fighters either, and was obliged to kill another three.They left their mark on me though; I took a bit of a knocking. Been a bad few days!’韦小宝道:“好,我赶去买些吃的,等你吃饱了好打架。”当即拔足快奔,转过山坡,奔了六七里路,便是一个小市镇,’Well I’d better be off anyway,’ said Trinket, ‘to get some food for your stomach before the fight!’ Trinket hurried off, rounded a hill, and a couple of miles further down the road came to a village.心下盘算:“茅大哥伤得路也走不动,怎能跟人家打架?他说对方是有名的英雄好汉,武功定然了得,我怎地帮他个忙才好。”’Old Whiskers is that badly hurt he can hardly walk, let alone fight,’ he fretted to himself. ‘And he says the other man’s a Brave Man and True–so he’s sure to be a first-class fighter. If only there was something I could do to help?’手里捧着银子,心痒难搔,一生之中,手里从来没拿过这许多银子,须得怎生大花一场,这才痛快,He had the silver in his hands and felt an uncontrollable urge to spend it! Never in his entire life had he had so much money in his possession, and he knew he’d not be happy until he’d spent the lot!走到熟肉铺中,买了两斤熟牛肉,一只酱鸭,再去买了两瓶黄酒,剩下的银子仍是不少,又买了十来个馒头,八根油条,只多用了廿几文,He went into the little village grocer’s and bought two catties of cooked beef, and a soy-braised duck; then he bought two bottles of rice wine, and with the left-over money (which was still a considerable sum) he bought a dozen steamed buns and eight fritters. That left him with just a few coppers.忽想:“我去买些绳索,在地下结成了绊马索。打架之时,对方不小心在绳索上一绊,摔倒在地,茅大哥就可一刀将他杀死。”’I know,’ he thought to himself. ‘I’ll buy some twine and string it across the ground. It’ll work like in the story. When they start fighting, the other fellow won’t see it: he’ll trip up, and then Whiskers can kill him with one blow.’

  他想起说书先生说故事,大将上阵交锋,马足被绊,摔将下来,敌将手起刀落,将之砍为两段,He was thinking of one of the storytellers’ tales, in which a general led his cavalry into battle and his horses got their legs caught in twine. They threw their riders to the ground, where they lay at the mercy of the enemy, and were hacked to pieces.当下兴匆匆的去买绳索。来到一家杂货铺前,只见铺中一排放着四只大缸,一缸白米,一缸黄豆,一缸盐,另一缸是碎石灰。Off he bustled to buy his twine. He came to a general store and saw four large vats standing in a line inside, filled with rice, beans, salt, and lime.立时想起:“去年仙女桥边私盐帮跟人打架,给人家用石灰撒在眼里,登时反胜为败。我怎么不想到这个主意?”Another idea suddenly flashed through his mind: ‘Last year, when the salt gang got into a fight at Fairy Bridge, someone threw lime in their eyes and completely routed them. Why on earth didn’t I think of it before?’绳索也不买了,买了一袋石灰,负在背上,回到茅十八身边。茅十八躺在树边睡觉,听到他脚步声,便即醒了,打开酒瓶,喝了两口,大声赞好,So instead of twine he ended up buying a bag of lime, slung it over his shoulder, and set off back to where he’d left his friend. Whiskers was lying by the tree fast asleep, but awoke the moment he heard footsteps. He broached one of the bottles at once, took a couple of swigs, and made loud appreciative noises.说道:“你喝不喝?”韦小宝从来不喝酒,这时要充英雄好汉,接过酒瓶便喝了一大口,只觉一股热气涌入肚中,登时大咳起来。’Aren’t you having any?’ he asked the boy. Trinket had never so much as tasted wine, but now he felt he had to live up to his new station in life as the friend of a true hero, and grasping the profferred bottle he took a big gulp. He felt a warm, tingling sensation travel down to the pit of his stomach, and then he began to cough.茅十八哈哈大笑,说道:“小英雄喝酒的功夫可还没学会。”忽听得远处有人朗声道:“十八兄,别来好啊?”Whiskers started laughing: ‘Seems like my little champion needs a drinking lesson or two!’ Just at that moment they heard a voice shouting in the distance: Whiskers old mate–been keeping well?’

  茅十八道:“吴兄、王兄,你两位也很清健啊!”Goatee Wu and Baldy Wang Well, if it isn’t my old friends! How are you both?’ called back Whiskers Mao.韦小宝心中突突乱跳,抬头向声音来处瞧去,只见大路上两个人快步走来,顷刻间便到了面前。Trinket’s heart was pounding. These must be the dreaded adversaries. He looked down the road and saw two men hastening along it towards them.

  一人是老头子,一部白胡须直垂至胸,但面皮红润泛光,没半点皱纹。One of the two was an old fellow with a long white goatee beard straggling down to his chest, a ruddy complexion that belied his age, and a firm skin without the slightest trace of a wrinkle.另一个是四十来岁的中年人,矮矮胖胖,是个秃子,后脑拖着条小辫子,前脑光滑如剥壳鸡蛋。The other was a man in his forties, short and stout, bald on top but sporting a little pigtail at the rear. The front of his pate was as smooth and shiny as a boiled egg without its shell.茅十八拱手道:“兄弟腿上不方便,不能起立行礼了。”那秃头眉头微微一皱。那老者笑道:“何必客气?”Whiskers Mao clasped his hands together in salutation. ‘Excuse me for not rising to greet you! I’ve injured my leg.’ The bald one frowned, but the old fellow replied amiably: Think nothing of it!’韦小宝心想:“茅大哥为人太过老实,自己腿上有伤,怎能说给人家听?”茅十八道:“这里有酒有肉,两位吃一点吗?”那老人道:“叨扰了!”坐在茅十八身侧,接过酒瓶。’Isn’t Whiskers giving too much away?’ wondered Trinket to himself. ‘Surely there was no need for him to give them the advantage like that?’ ‘Help yourselves to wine and meat,’ said Whiskers. ‘Most kind,’ said the old fellow with the goatee, sitting down next to Whiskers, and accepting the profferred bottle.韦小宝大喜:“原来这两人是茅大哥的朋友,不是跟他来打架的,那可妙得紧。待会敌人到来,这两人也可帮忙打架。”那老者将酒瓶凑到口边,待要喝酒,那秃头说道:“吴大哥,这酒不喝也罢!”’Oh, they’re friends of his!’ thought Trinket, enormously relieved. They’ve not come to fight him after all! When the others arrive, these two will be on our side!’ The old man was about to put the bottle to his lips when Baldy called out: ‘Brother Wu! Don’t drink it!’那老者一怔,随即哈哈大笑,说道:“十八兄是铁铮铮的好汉子,酒中难道还会有毒?”骨嘟、骨嘟喝了两口,将酒瓶递给秃头,道:“你不喝酒,那可瞧不起好朋友了。”Goatee Wu paused a second, then laughed. ‘Our friend Mao is someone we can trust, a Brave Man and True. You’re surely not suggesting he’d put poison in the wine, are you, Brother Wang?’ He took a couple of loud gulps and passed the botde to his companion: ‘Have some yourself. Or would you rather carry on insulting our friend?’那秃头神色有些犹豫,但对老者之言似是不便违拗,接过酒瓶,刚放到口边,茅十八夹手夺过,说道:“酒不够啦!王兄又不爱喝酒,省几口给我。”仰头喝了两大口。Baldy Wang took the botde with some hesitation and had just raised it to his lips, when Whiskers snatched it from him: We’re running a bit low on wine, actually! Since you don’t seem too keen on the stuff, I’ll help you out.’ And he took two big gulps.那秃头脸上一红,坐下来抓起牛肉便吃。Baldy’s face flushed, and he sat down and tucked into the meat instead.

  茅十八道:“我给两位引见一位好朋友。”指着老者道:“这位吴老爷子,大号叫作大鹏,江湖上人称‘摩云手’, ‘I’d like to introduce you to these friends of mine,’ Whiskers said to Trinket amiably. Then, indicating Goatee first, he went on: This is Brother Wu, known among the fighting folk of River and Lake as the Great Roc, or Cloud Scraper.拳脚功夫,武林中大大有名。”那老者笑道:“茅兄给我脸上贴金了。”说着左右顾视,不见另有旁人,不禁颇为诧异。He’s a master at kick boxing and fist fighting–a legend in fact!’ ‘Friend Mao, you flatter me!’ Old Goatee looked around him, and was still trying to puzzle out who the ‘new friend’ could be, when Whiskers continued,茅十八指着那秃子道:“这位王师傅单名一个‘潭’字,外号‘双笔开山’,一对判官笔使将出来,当真出神入化。”那秃头道:“茅兄取笑了,在下是你的手下败将,惭愧得紧。”this time indicating Baldy: ‘This is Brother Wang, known as Lord Double Shaft, a great master with the twin clubs.’ ‘You are making fun of me!’ protested Baldy. ‘You know you get the better of me every time!’

  茅十八道:“不敢当。”指着韦小宝道:“这位小朋友是我新交的好兄弟……”他说到这里,吴王二人愕然相顾,跟着一齐凝视韦小宝,实看不出这个又干又瘦的十二三岁小孩子是什么来头,’Come come!’ quipped Whiskers. Then, indicating Trinket, he continued: ‘And this young fellow is my newly sworn brother-in-arms.’ The two men looked at each other in utter amazement, then both stared at Trinket. What was going on? Who on earth was this skinny little fellow? Why, he couldn’t be much more than twelve years old!只听茅十八续道:“这位小朋友姓韦,名小宝,江湖上人称……人称,呢,他的外号,叫作……叫作……”顿了一顿,才道:“叫作‘小白龙’,水上功夫,最是了得,在水中游上三日三夜,生食鱼虾,面不改色。”Whiskers went on: This young comrade of mine is Wei, Trinket Wei. In the Brotherhood of River and Lake he’s known as … as …” After a bit more umming and arring he finally came out with: ‘. . . Little White Dragon! You should see him in the water. He’s a wonder. A master-swimmer. He can swim for three days and nights, in fact, feeding on nothing but live fish and shrimps . . .’他要给这个新交的小朋友挣脸,不能让他在外人之前显得泄气,有心要吹嘘几句,可是韦小宝全无武功,吴王二人都是行家,一伸手便知端的,难以瞒骗,一凝思间,便说他水上功夫十分厉害,吴王二人是北地豪杰,不会水性,那便无法得知真假。Whiskers very much wanted to give his newly acquired friend some ‘face’ in the presence of these two recent arrivals. But he knew that Trinket possessed no true fighting skills whatsoever, whereas Goatee and Baldy were both very much the real thing and would quickly see through any false pretences. Swimming was a safe enough bet, though: the two men were northerners, couldn’t swim a stroke between them, and would be quite incapable of judging the truth of his claims.他接着说道:“你们三位都是好朋友,多亲近亲近。”吴王二人抱拳道:“久仰,久仰!”韦小宝依样学样,也抱拳道:“久仰,久仰!”又惊又喜:“茅大哥给我吹牛,其实我是什么江湖好汉了?这西洋镜却拆穿不得。”’I want the three of you to be friends!’ Whiskers went on. ‘Come now, no formality please!’ The two clasped their hands together and nodded politely at Trinket: ‘Honoured to know you, sir! He was quick to pick up the lingo: The honour’s mine!’ But he was actually thinking to himself: ‘Old Whiskers has really gone overboard, calling me a comrade of his! I’m just a nobody, a nothing! But I’d better keep quiet about it.. .’

  四人过不多时,便将酒肉馒头吃得干干净净。这秃头王潭食量甚豪,初食时有些顾忌,到后来放量大嚼,他独个儿所吃的牛肉、馒头和油条,比三人加起来还多。The four of them had soon polished off all the food and wine. Baldy was a terrific eater–a trifle inhibited at first, but by the end he was really tucking in, and stacking away more meat, buns, and fritters than the other three put together.

  茅十八伸衣袖抹了抹嘴,说道:“吴老爷子,这位小朋友水性固是极好,陆上功夫却还没学,在下只好一对二。这可不是瞧不起两位。”Whiskers dabbed his mouth with his long sleeve, and turned to Goatee: ‘This young friend of mine is a master-swimmer, as I have just told you. But on land he is a novice. I shall have to take you both on single-handed. I hope you won’t mind?’吴大鹏道:“咱们这个约会,我看还是再推迟半年罢。”茅十八道:“那为什么?”吴大鹏道:“茅兄身上有伤,显不出真功夫。老朽打赢了固然没什么光采,打输了更是没脸见人。”’I feel we should put this whole thing off another six months, ‘ said the old man. ‘Why on earth?’ ‘You’re wounded, and wouldn’t be able to give of your best. There’d be no glory in defeating you in the condition you’re in. And to lose would be a terrible disgrace.’

  茅十八哈哈一笑,说道:“有伤没伤,没多大分别,再等半年,岂不牵肚挂肠?”左手扶着树干,慢慢站起身来,右手已握单刀,Whiskers laughed aloud. ‘I don’t see that it matters whether I am wounded or not. I’m sure none of us can bear to drag this thing on another six months.’ Leaning with his left hand on the tree, he slowly heaved himself to his feet and took hold of his sword with his right hand.说道:“吴老爷子向来赤手空拳,王兄便亮兵刃罢!”He addressed Goatee first. ‘I know you’ve always preferred to fight with bare fists.’ Then turning to Baldy: ‘Present your weapons, please!’

  王潭道:“好!”伸手入怀,呛啷一声轻响,摸出一对判官笔来。

  吴大鹏道:“既然如此,王贤弟,你替愚兄掠阵。愚兄要是不成,你再上不迟。”’Certainly!’ There was a muffled clang as Baldy reached inside his jacket and produced the twin clubs. ‘I call upon you, Brother Wu,’ said Goatee, ‘to act as my second. If I fail, you can step in.’王潭应道:“是!”退开三步。吴大鹏左掌上翻,右手兜了个圈子,轻飘飘挥掌向茅十八拍来。’Agreed!’ cried Baldy, and stepped back three paces. Goatee Wang, the Great Roc, now brought up his left palm, circled with his right, and began closing in on Whiskers Mao, weaving through the air as he did so.

  茅十八单刀斜劈,径砍他左臂。吴大鹏一低头,自他刀锋下抢进,左手向他右臂肘下拍去。Whiskers lunged with his sword, aiming at his opponent’s left arm, but Goatee ducked low and came in under the blade, punching with his left below Whiskers’ right arm.茅十八一侧身转在村旁,拍的一声响,吴大鹏那掌击在树干之上。这棵大树高五六丈,树身粗壮,给吴大鹏这么一拍,树上黄叶便似雨点般撒下来。Whiskers dodged behind the tree and Goatee’s palm smacked into the tree-trunk. It was a hefty tree, a good fifty feet high, but when Goatee hit it, the leaves came raining down in a shower.

  茅十八叫道:“好掌力!”单刀拦腰挥去。’What a blow! Most excellent kungfu’ cried Whiskers, and immediately lunged at the small of Goatee’s back.吴大鹏突然纵起身子,从半空中扑将下来,白须飘扬,甚是好看。The Great Roc now leapt into the air and came hurtling down towards his opponent, the strands of his long white beard fluttering about him. It was a wonderful sight.茅十八一招“西风倒卷”,单刀自下拖上。Whiskers countered with a move known as Westerly Cyclone, sweeping his sword up in an arc from below.吴大鹏在半空中一个倒翻筋斗,跃了出去。茅十八这一刀和他小腹相距不到半尺。刀势固然劲急,吴大鹏的闪避却也迅速灵动之极。The Roc swivelled in mid-air, and with a great somersault bounded beyond his reach–the sword missing his midriff by less than six inches. The blade had come up with enormous force, but the Roc had reacted with lightning speed.韦小宝一生之中,打架是见得多了,但都是市井流氓抱腿拉辫、箍颈撞头的烂打,除了昨日丽春院中茅十八恶斗盐枭之外,从未见过高手如此凶险的比武。Now, Trinket had watched a fight or two in his short life: but apart from Whiskers’ performance with the salt gang the previous day, they’d all been low-life scraps in the market-place, one thug head-butting (or pigtailing) another. This was altogether different.但见吴大鹏忽进忽退,双掌翻飞,茅十八将单刀舞得幻成一片银光,挡在身前。

  吴大鹏几次抢上,都被刀光逼了出来。While the Roc danced back and forth, his hands weaving through the air, Whiskers’ sword flashed magically in front of him. Each time the old man was poised to strike, the glinting blade of his opponent’s sword forced him away again. Trinket had never seen anything to compare with this present display of sheer martial virtuosity.

  正斗到酣处,忽听得蹄声响动,十余人骑马奔来,都是满清官兵的打扮。The Troopers Arrive The fight was raging, when suddenly they heard the sound of horses’ hooves, and a dozen riders came galloping up, dressed in the livery of the Manchu Imperial Guard.十余骑奔到近处,散将开来,将四人围在垓心,为首的军官喝道:“且住!咱们奉命捉拿江洋大盗茅十八,跟旁人并不相干,都退开了!”They surrounded the four friends, and their Captain called out to them to stop fighting: We have orders to arrest the Notorious Brigand Mao Eighteen, known as Whiskers! The rest of you stand back: this is no concern of yours.’吴大鹏一听,住手跃开。茅十八道:“吴老爷子,鹰爪子又找上来啦!他们冲着我来,你不用理会,再上啊!”When he heard this, the Great Roc lowered his fists and leapt aside. ‘They’re after me again!’ exclaimed Whiskers. Take no notice. Let’s carry on.’吴大鹏向众官兵道:“这位兄台是安分良民,怎地是江洋大盗?你们认错了人罢?”The Roc turned to the Guards: This gentleman is an honourable law-abiding citizen, not a Notorious Brigand! There must be some mistake.’为首的军官冷笑道:“他是安分良民,天下的安分良民未免太多了。茅朋友,你在扬州城里做下了天大的案子,好汉一人做事一人当,乖乖的跟我们去罢!”The Captain of the Guards sneered: ‘If he’s a. law-abiding citizen, I’m a bleeding saint! Come on, Whiskers old boy, you’re in deep trouble and you know it–the whole of Yangzhou does at any rate. So you might as well face the music like a man. Come along quietly with us, please.’

  茅十八道:“你们等一等,且瞧我跟这两位朋友分了胜败再说。”转头向吴大鹏和王潭道:“吴老爷子,王兄,咱们今日非分胜负不可,再等上半年,也不知我姓茅的还有没有性命。爽爽快快,两位一起上罢!”’Just a minute: let me finish this little contest with my friends here first.’ Turning to Goatee and Baldy, Whiskers continued: ‘Gentlemen, this matter must be settled today. Another six months and who knows if I’ll even be alive. So–on guard, then!’

  那军官喝道:“你们两个若不是跟茅十八一伙,快快离开这是非之地,别惹事上身。”’You two!’ cried the Captain testily. ‘Unless you want to be taken in along with this brigand, stand well back both of you. I mean it. Don’t go making trouble for yourselves.’

  茅十八骂道:“你奶奶的,大呼小叫干什么?”’You’re wasting your breath!’ snorted Whiskers contemptuously. ‘Now you listen to me!’

  那军官道:“茅十八,你越狱杀人,那是扬州地方官的事,本来用不着我们理会。blazed the Captain. ‘You’ve broken out of jail, and you’re guilty of murder (several times over)–we’ll leave all of that to the Yangzhou magistrate, where it belongs.不过听说你在妓院里大叫大嚷,说道天地会作乱造反的叛贼都是英雄好汉,这话可是有的?”But we’ll not let you get away with treason! You made a big mistake in the whore-house, calling the Triads heroes in public. Everyone knows they’re rebels and vile treacherous scum!’

  茅十八大声道:“天地会的朋友们当然是英雄好汉,难道倒是你这种给鞑子舐卵蛋的汉奸,反而是英雄好汉?”’Of course my friends the Triads are heroes!’ declared Whiskers stoutly. They’re Brave Men and True of the first order! I suppose you’d have us believe that Tartar-licking traitors like you are heroes?’那军官眼露凶光,说道:“鳌少保派我们从北京到南方来,为的是捉拿天地会反贼。茅十八,你跟我们走。”The Captain’s eyes flashed angrily. ‘We are here at the orders of Lord Oboi. We’ve been sent all the way from the Capital, to bring in the treacherous scum who call themselves Triads. You’re coming with us, Whiskers Mao!’说着转头向吴大鹏与王潭道:“两位正在跟这逆贼相斗,想来不是一路的了,两位这就请便罢。”Turning to Goatee and Baldy: ‘As for you two, you were fighting against this man, and I shall therefore assume that you are not his associates. You can go on your way.’

  吴大鹏道:“请教阁下尊姓大名?”那军官在腰间一条黑黝黝的软鞭上一拍,说道:“在下‘黑龙鞭’史松,奉了鳌少保将令,擒拿天地会反贼。”’May I have the honour of knowing your name?’ asked old Goatee. The Captain of the Guard tapped the black whip he carried tucked into his sash, and replied: ‘My name is Shi Song, but I am usually called Black Dragon, on account of this little beauty here. I’m under orders from Lord Oboi, to round up the Triad rebels–as I have just told you.’

  吴大鹏点了点头,向茅十八道:“茅兄,天父地母!”茅十八睁大了双眼,问道:“你说什么?”Goatee nodded his head. Then, turning to Whiskers, he began: ‘Brother Mao, by Heaven my Father, and Earth my Mother–‘ Whiskers stared at him blankly. What are you talking about?’

  吴大鹏微微一笑,道:“没什么,茅兄,你好像并不是天地会中的兄弟,却干么要大说天地会的好话?”Goatee smiled. ‘Oh, nothing. Obviously you’re not a Triad member. So tell me, why do you think they’re such heroes?’茅十八道: “天地会保百姓,杀鞑子,做的是英雄好汉的勾当,自然是英雄好汉了。江湖上有言道:‘为人不识陈近南,就称英雄也枉然。’’Because they stand up for the common people,’ was Whiskers’ unhesitating reply. ‘Because they kill Tartars. They act like heroes, so in my book that’s what they are. There’s a saying in the Brotherhood: Who’s never yet met Chenjinnan Can’t call himself a proper man.陈近南陈总舵主,便是天地会的头脑。天地会的朋友们,都是陈总舵主的手下,岂有不是英雄好汉之理?” Chen Jinnan, he’s the head of all the Triads. They all owe him allegiance, every Lodge. Of course they’re heroes, Brave Men and True, every last man of them!’吴大鹏道:“茅兄可识得陈总舵主么?”茅十八怒道:“什么?你讥笑我不是英雄吗?”他为此发怒,自然是不识陈近南了。’Have you seen the Helmsman?’ asked Goatee. What?’ retorted Whiskers angrily. ‘Are you implying that I’m not a proper man–is that what you’re trying to say?’ Evidently (from his angry response) he had not seen the Helmsman.吴大鹏微笑道:“不敢。”茅十八又道:“难道你又识得陈总舵主了?”吴大鹏摇了摇头。Goatee laughed: ‘ ‘I meant nothing of the sort.’ ‘And you? Have you met him?’ growled Whiskers. Goatee shook his head.

  史松向吴王二人问道:“你们两个识得天地会的人吗?要是有什么讯息,说了出来,我们拿到了天地会的头目,好比那个陈近南什么的,鳌少保必定重重有赏。”The Captain of the Guard now addressed Goatee and his friend: ‘If you do know any Triad members, now’s the time to speak up. Lord Oboi has promised a rich reward for information leading to the capture of any of their leaders–that Helmsman Chen, for example.’吴大鹏和王潭尚未回答,茅十八仰天大笑,说道:“发你妈的清秋大梦,凭你这块料,也想去拿天地会的陈总舵主?你开口闭口的鳌少保,这鳌拜自称是满洲第一勇士,武功到底怎样?”Before they had a chance to reply, Whiskers threw up his head and guffawed: ‘You’re dreaming! You think you can land a big fish like the Helmsman? And this Lord Oboi, you seem to think he’s some sort of miracle-worker. He may call himself the Manchu Champion, but I’ll bet it’s all empty talk.’史松道:“鳌少保天生神勇,武功盖世,曾在北京街上一拳打死一头疯牛,你这反贼也知道吗?”’You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ protested the Captain. ‘Lord Oboi’s a living wonder–one of the great fighters of the age! Why, one day in the Capital, he took on a wild bull in the street with his bare fists and knocked it down dead. But what would scum of the earth like you know about that?’茅十八骂道:“他奶奶的,我就不信鳌拜有这等厉害,我正要上北京去斗他一斗。”史松冷笑道:“凭你也配和鳌少保动手?他老人家伸一根手指头,就将你捺死了。姓茅的,闲话别多说了,跟我们走罢!”The devil take him!’ swore Whiskers Mao. ‘I’ll lay my money on it that this Oboi can do no such thing! I’ll go to Peking and take him on myself!’ ‘Think you’re a match for the Lord Oboi?’ sneered the Captain. ‘He could snuff you out with one finger! You might as well stop your empty boasting and come along quietly with us.’

  茅十八道:“哪有这般容易?你们这里一共一十三人,老子以一敌十三,明知打不过,也得打一打。”’Not so fast! You may be thirteen against one, but I can still give you a run for your money!’吴大鹏微笑道:“茅兄怎能如此见外?咱们是以三敌十三,一个打四个,未必便输。”’And what about us to put in?’ Goatee Wu, with a mischievous smile. ‘Aren’t you forgetting us? Which makes it thirteen against three, more like four to one: by no means a foregone conclusion . . .’

  史松和茅十八都是一惊。史松道:“两位别转错了念头,造反助逆,可不是好玩的。”Whiskers Mao was taken aback by this, as was the Captain, who warned Goatee Wu in no uncertain terms: ‘I hope you realize what you’re doing? Assisting a known rebel, engaging in treason–this could land you in serious trouble.’

  吴大鹏笑道:“助逆那也罢了。造反却是不敢。”史松道:“助逆即是造反!你们两个想清楚些,是不是帮定了这反贼?”Goatee laughed: ‘I may be about to assist a rebel, but I’m certainly not engaging in treason!’ ‘It amounts to the same thing. Think carefully: do you really want to take sides with a known criminal?’吴大鹏道:“半年之前,茅兄和这位王兄弟约定了,今日在这里以武会友,并将在下牵扯在内。想不到官府不识趣,将茅兄关在狱里。’Six months ago,’ replied Goatee, ‘my friend Mao here made an agreement with my friend Wang,’ (pointing to Baldy), ‘to meet at this spot for a friendly trial of strength. I agreed to come along. You and your troopers went and spoiled things by locking the fellow up.他是言而有信的好汉子,今日若不践约,此后在江湖上如何做人?他越狱杀人,都是给官府逼出来的。这叫做官逼民反,不得不反。Mao’s a man of his word, and it would have been more than his reputation’s worth for him not to show up. So really and truly it was you who forced him to break out of jail. You gave him no choice but to commit a crime.史大人,你如卖老汉的面子,那就收队回去,待老汉和茅兄较量一下手底下功夫,明日你捉不捉他,老汉和王兄弟就管不了啦!”史松道:“不成!”Now listen here, sir: if you’ve any sense you’ll take your men back and leave us to finish what we’ve started. Tomorrow he’ll be all yours!’ ‘Out of the question!’ declared the Captain.军官队中忽有一人喝道:“老家伙,哪有这么多说的?”说着拔刀出鞘,双腿一央,纵马冲将过来,高举单刀,便向吴大鹏头顶砍落。One of his troopers then yelled out impatiently: ‘When’s that old codger going to stop blathering?’ He unsheathed his sword, and spurring his horse forward, raised the blade to bring it down on the old man’s head.吴大鹏斜身一闪,避过了他这一刀,右臂探出,身子纵起,抓住了他背心,顺手一甩,将他摔了出去。Goatee dodged the blow, shot out his right arm, and with a quick move, grabbed the trooper by the back of his jacket and yanked him off his horse and on to the ground.众军官大叫:“反了,反了!”纷纷跃下马来,向吴大鹏等三人围了上去。’Mutiny! At them!’ yelled the troopers, leaping from their horses and surging forward, to form a circle around the three men.

  茅十八大腿受伤,倚树而立,手起刀落,便劈死了一名军官,钢刀横削,又一名军官被他拦腰斩死。Whiskers’ leg-wound obliged him to remain propped against the tree. He raised his cutlass and with a single downward swing sent one trooper to his death, while a sideways blow sliced a second clean through the midriff.余人见他悍勇,一时不敢逼近。史松双手叉腰,骑在马上掠阵。The remaining troopers were deterred by this display of ferocity from closing in any further. Their Captain sat on his horse, arms akimbo, surveying the scene.

  韦小宝本给军官围在垓心,当史松和茅十八、吴大鹏二人说话之际,他一步一步的退出圈子。众军官也不知这干瘦小孩在这里干什么?谁也不加理会。Trinket had at the outset been inside the ring of troopers, but as the Captain and the others conducted their conversation, he had sneaked away unnoticed. No one attached any importance to the skinny little fellow anyway.待得众人动上手,他已躲在数丈外的一株树后,心想:“我快快逃走呢,还是在这里瞧着?茅大哥他们只三个人,定会给这些官兵杀了。这些军爷会不会又来杀我?”When the fight started, he was hiding behind another tree some twenty or thirty feet away. ‘Should I run, or should I stay and watch?’ he was wondering. ‘Looks like old Whiskers and the other two are in for it now: wonder if the troopers’ll go for me afterwards . . . ‘转念又想:“茅大哥当我是好朋友,说过有难同当,有福共享。我若悄悄逃走,可太也不讲义气。”But then again: he called me friend, we talked about sharing the rough and the smooth. If I leave him in the lurch now, a fine kind of Honour that would be . . .’

  吴大鹏挥掌劈倒了一名军官。王潭使开双笔,和三名军官相斗。这时茅十八又将一名军官右腿砍断。这军官倒在血泊之中,大声呼叫喝骂,声音凄厉。Old Goatee had meanwhile felled one of the troopers with his bare fists, and Baldy was laying about three more with his twin clubs. Whiskers brought another down with a devastating kick from his right foot, leaving the victim cursing and howling in a pool of blood.史松一声长啸,黑龙鞭出手,跟着纵身下马。他双足尚未落地,鞭梢已向茅十八卷去。The Captain now let out a high-pitched screech, and brandished the Black Dragon in the air. He vaulted from his horse and before his feet had even touched the ground the tip of the Black Dragon was coiling its way through the air towards Whiskers.茅十八使开“五虎断门刀”刀法,见招拆招,史松的软鞭一连七八招厉害招数,都给他单刀挂了回来。Eight times he cracked the whip, and eight times Whiskers countered with the sword riposte for which he was so famous, known as Five Tigers Breaking the Door.但听得吴大鹏长声吆喝,一人飞了出去,拍哒一响,掉在地下,军官中又少了一人。Meanwhile a great cry issued from Goatee and one more trooper flew through the air and landed with a thud on the ground.

  这边王潭以一敌三,却渐渐落了下风,左腿上被锯齿刀拉了一条口子,鲜血急喷。他一跛一拐,浴血苦斗。Baldy was holding off three men, and slowly getting the worst of it. He had received a nasty gash on his right leg from a sword with a saw-blade edge to it, and was losing blood fast and hobbling badly.和吴大鹏急斗的三人武功均颇不弱,双刀一剑,在他身边转来转去,吴大鹏的摩云掌力一时击不到他们身上。Goatee was also up against three opponents–two wielding short-swords, one a double-edged long-sword–and not bad swordsmen either. They harried him persistently, and even his Cloud Scraper acrobatics were of no avail. He failed repeatedly to land a punch anywhere near them.史松的软鞭越使越快,始终奈何不了茅十八,突然间一招“白蛇吐信”,鞭梢向茅十八右肩点去。The Black Dragon cracked faster and faster, but could not outdo Whiskers Mao. Then suddenly the Captain tried a new whiplash known as the Spitting Snake. The tip of the whip grazed Whiskers’ right shoulder.茅十八举刀竖挡,不料史松这一招乃是虚招,手腕抖动,先变“声东击西”,再变“玉带围腰”,黑龙鞭倏地挥向左方,随即圈转,自左至右,远远向茅十八腰间围来。He countered with a vertical parry, but his opponent was already one step ahead. The first move had only been a feint. The Captain had only to flick his wrist once, then twice, and the whip changed direction and began to form a great whirling loop, coiling itself around Whiskers’ middle: this was known as Jade Sash Wraps the Waist.

  茅十八双腿难以行走,全仗身后大树支撑。史松这一招“玉带围腰”卷将过来,本来只须向前窜出,或是往后纵跃,即能避过,但此刻却非硬接硬架不可,当下单刀对准黑龙鞭的鞭梢拍落。Normally Whiskers would have responded either by dashing forwards or by leaping backwards. But with his wounded leg he could only stay where he was against the tree and parry with his sword–with no success.史松斗然放手,松脱鞭柄,那软鞭一沉,忽儿兜转,迅疾无伦的卷将过来,将茅十八绕在树上,一共绕了三匝,噗的一声,鞭梢击中他右胸。The Captain now let go of the whip-handle and spun the whole whip through the air. It wound tightly three times around both Whiskers and the tree-trunk, and the barbed tip came down with a final flick into his chest.史松要将茅十八生擒,以便逼问天地会的讯息,眼见吴大鹏和王潭尚未降服,急欲取下黑龙鞭使用,当即俯身拾起地下丢弃的一柄单刀,要砍下茅十八的一条右臂。It was clear the Captain wanted Whiskers alive, so he could grill him for information concerning the Triads. Seeing that Goatee and Baldy were still far from subdued, and wanting to release the Black Dragon for further service, the Captain stooped to pick up a short-sword he’d spotted lying on the ground. With this he planned to slice off Whiskers’ right arm at the shoulder.

  他拾刀在手,刚抬起身,蓦地里白影晃动,无数粉末冲进眼里、鼻里、口里,一时气为之窒,跟着双眼剧痛,He had the sword in his hand and was just standing up again when something flashed past him and a shower of tiny dust-like particles flew into his eyes, up his nose, and into his mouth. He felt himself choking and his eyes beginning to smart.犹似万枚钢针同时扎刺一般,待欲张口大叫,满嘴粉末,连喉头嗌住了,再也叫不出声来。It was like the pricking of a thousand needles. He tried to cry out, but his mouth was full of some sort of powder. His throat seized up, and he couldn’t make a sound.这一下变故突兀之极,饶是他老于江湖,却也心慌意乱,手一松,单刀跌落,双手去揉擦眼睛,擦得一擦,这才恍然:“啊哟,敌人将石灰撒入了我眼睛。”He began to panic, and despite his years of experience in the apprehension of outlaws, dropped his sword and began rubbing his eyes with both hands. Then suddenly he knew: ‘Lime! Someone’s thrown lime in my eyes!’

  生石灰遇水即沸,立即将他双眼烧烂,便在此时,肚腹上一阵冰凉,一柄单刀插入了肚中。Raw lime reacts violently on contact with liquid. By now his eyes were raw and burning with an unbearable pain. And then he became aware of another, colder sensation, that of a steel blade working its way into his stomach . . .茅十八为软鞭绕身,眼见无幸,陡然间白粉飞扬,史松单刀脱手,双手去揉擦眼睛,When the whip had lashed Whiskers to the tree, he had written himself off. The next minute the air was a whirling blizzard of lime, his opponent’s sword was on the ground,正诧异间,只见韦小宝拾起单刀,一刀插入了史松肚中,随即转身又躲在树后。and before Whiskers could figure out what on earth was going on, Trinket had dashed forward, seized the sword, thrust it straight into the Captain’s belly, and disappeared again behind his tree.史松摇摇晃晃,转了几转,翻身摔倒。几名军官大惊,齐叫:“史大哥,史大哥!”The Captain reeled from side to side, tottered round and round, and tumbled to the ground. ‘Captain! Captain!’ cried his remaining troopers, aghast.吴大鹏左掌一招“铁树开花”,掌力吐处,一名军官身子飞出数丈,口中鲜血狂喷,余下五人眼见不敌,再也无心恋战,转身便奔,连坐骑也不要了。Goatee chose that moment to ram home an electrifying left (Steel Tree Blooming) and sent one of them flying thirty feet through the air, spewing blood. The remaining contingent of five knew they were finished, and having no heart for further battle turned and fled, without even stopping for their horses.吴大鹏回头说道:“茅兄当真了得,这黑龙鞭史松武功高强,今日命丧你手!”他眼见史松肚腹中刀而死,想来自然是茅十八所杀。’Brother Mao!’ declared old Goatee, assuming that it was Whiskers who had dealt the death-blow. ‘My deepest compliments for dealing so effectively with Black Dragon! He was no mean fighter!’

  茅十八摇头道:“惭愧!是韦小兄弟杀的。”吴王二人大为诧异,齐声道:“是这小孩所杀?”Whiskers shook his head: To my shame, it was my young friend here who killed him. Not me.’ The kid?’ cried Goatee and Baldy simultaneously.他二人适才忙于对付敌人,没见到韦小宝撒石灰。地下满是死尸鲜血,伤者身上滚得满身是泥,虽有石灰粉末撒在地下,他二人也没留意。They had both been far too busy fighting to observe Trinket’s little ploy, or to notice the lime scattered all around them, on the gore-stained corpses of the dead and the mud-spattered limbs of the wounded.

  茅十八左手抓住黑龙鞭鞭梢,抖开软鞭,呼的一声,抽在史松头上。Whiskers now extricated the tip of the Black Dragon, shook loose the whip itself, and cracked it towards the Captain’s head.史松肚腹中刀,一时未死,给这一鞭击正在天灵盖上,立时毙命。The sword hilt still protruded from the Captain’s belly, but he was not quite dead. The whip struck him on the crown of his head, and snuffed out the last residual spark of life in him.茅十八叫道:“韦兄弟,你好功夫啊!”

  韦小宝从树后转出,想到自己居然杀了一个官老爷,心中有一分得意,倒有九分害怕。‘That was a fine stroke of yours, Trinket!’ cried Whiskers. Trinket now emerged from behind his tree. The thought that he had actually killed a Captain of the Imperial Guard had given him a thrill of pride; but it was overshadowed by a much deeper feeling of fear.吴王二人将信将疑,上上下下的向韦小宝打量,但见他脸色苍白,全身发抖,双目含泪,摇摇晃晃的立足不定,只像随时随刻要放声大哭,又或是大叫:“我的妈啊!”Goatee and Baldy kept looking him up and down, unable to decide whether they could really credit this little fellow with such a mighty feat. His face was deadly white, his whole body was trembling, tears started from his eyes. He looked for all the world as if he might at any moment break down completely and collapse on the ground, sobbing for his mother.说什么也不像是杀了黑龙鞭史松之人。He didn’t in the least look like someone who had just sent a Captain of the Guard to his death.吴大鹏道:“小兄弟,你使什么招式杀了此人?”韦小宝颤声道:“我……我……是我杀了这……官……官老爷吗?不,不是我杀的,不……不是我……”Tell us, young friend,’ asked old Goatee, ‘which move did you use?’ ‘I… I… Did I really . . . kill the Captain?’ stammered Trinket. ‘No, surely I didn’t… do it, not me . . .’他知道杀官之罪极大,心慌意乱之下,惟有拚命抵赖。The gravity of what he had done had finally sunk home, striking terror into his heart, as he tried frantically to deny responsibility for the man’s death.

  茅十八皱起眉头,摇了摇头,说道:“吴老爷子,王兄,承你二位拔刀相助,救了兄弟性命。咱们还打不打?”Whiskers frowned and shook his head: ‘Gentlemen, many thanks to you both for coming to my aid and saving my life. Shall we continue our little contest now?’吴大鹏道:“救命之话,休得提起。王兄弟。我看这场架是不必打了?”’Please,’ protested old Goatee, ‘we ask for no thanks. Brother Wang, I hardly think that in the circumstances we need to continue–‘

  王潭道:“不打了!我和茅兄原没什么深仇大怨,大家交上了朋友,岂不是好?茅兄武功高强,有胆量,有见识,兄弟是十分佩服的。”’Please,’ protested old Goatee, ‘we ask for no thanks. Brother Wang, I hardly think that in the circumstances we need to continue–‘吴大鹏道:“茅兄,咱们就此别过,山长水远,后会有期。茅兄十分钦佩天地会的陈总舵主,这一句话,兄弟当设法带给陈总舵主他老人家知晓。”’Very well,’ said Goatee. ‘Friend Mao, we must be on our way. But one day we’ll meet again. Meanwhile I shall remember your words of respect for Helmsman Chen, and will find a way of passing them on to him.’茅十八大喜,抢上一步,说道:“你……你……识得陈总舵主?”Whiskers’ eyes lit up, and he took a step towards the old man: ‘You mean . . . you actually know the Helmsman?’

  吴大鹏笑道:“我和这位王兄弟,都是天地会宏化堂属下的小脚色。承茅大哥对敝会如此瞧得起,别说大伙儿本来没什么过节,就算真有梁子,那也是一笔勾销了。”Goatee gave a short laugh: ‘Both Brother Wang and I are humble Triads, junior members of the Transformation Lodge. After the fine words you spoke earlier concerning our fraternity, we would naturally have dismissed all earlier bones of contention between us–if there had been any remaining!’茅十八又惊又喜,说道:“原来……原来你果然识得陈近南。”吴大鹏道: “敝会弟兄众多,陈总舵主行踪无定,在下在会中职司低下,的确没见过陈总舵主的面,刚才并不是有意相欺。”茅十八道:“原来如此。”’But. . . you really have met him?’ exclaimed Whiskers, in an excited and somewhat awestruck voice. There are many Brothers, and few of us ever know the whereabouts of the Helmsman. I myself am far too humble to have met him face to face. But I will pass on the message none the less. That is all I meant.’ ‘I see,’ replied Whiskers.

  吴大鹏一拱手,转身便行,双掌连扬,拍拍之声不绝,在每个躺在地下的军官身上补了一掌,不论那军官本来是死是活,再中了他的摩云掌力。Goatee bowed to him with clasped hands and turned to go. As he strode off he sliced the air with his hands, and leapt from ne trooper’s body to another, dealing a few final blows.死者筋折骨裂,活着的也即气绝。The wounded he put out of their misery, and if they were already dead he snapped their sinews and broke their bones.

  茅十八低声喝彩:“好掌力!”眼见二人去得远了,喃喃的道:“原来他二人倒是天地会的。”隔了一会,向韦小宝道:“去牵匹马过来!”’What power!’ murmured Whiskers. As the two of them disappeared into the distance, he continued under his breath: ‘So they were both of them Triads!’ Then, turning to Trinket after a moment’s pause: ‘Go and fetch me that horse!’

  韦小宝从未牵过马。见马匹身躯高大,心中害怕,从马匹身后慢慢挨近。Trinket had never handled a horse in his life, and the sheer size of the beast he found himself looking at struck terror into his heart. He tried creeping up towards it from behind.茅十八喝道:“向着马头走过去。你从马屁股过去,马儿非飞腿踢你不可。”’From the front!’ bellowed Whiskers. ‘Go behind the horse’s bum, and it’ll kick you in the face for sure!’韦小宝绕到马前,伸手去拉缰绳,那马倒甚驯良,跟着他便走。Trinket sneaked round the horse’s front end and took hold of the bridle. Luckily for him it was a docile creature and followed him quietly.茅十八撕下衣襟,裹了右臂的伤口,左手在马鞍上一按,跃上马背,说道:“你回家去罢!”Whiskers was meanwhile tearing strips off his jacket and bandaging his wounded right arm. Then he put his left hand on the saddle and vaulted onto the horse’s back. ‘You can go home now!’韦小宝问道:“你到哪里去?”茅十八道:“你问来干么?”韦小宝道:“咱们既是朋友,我自然要问问。”茅十八脸一沉,骂道:“你奶奶的,谁是你朋友?”Where are you going?’ asked Trinket. ‘What’s that to you?’ ‘You’re my friend: that’s what.’ Whiskers’ face darkened:’ Your friend? Me? Never!’ Trinket backed away.

  韦小宝退了一步,小脸儿胀得通红,泪水在眼中滚来滚去,不明白他为什么好端端突然大发脾气。His face flushed, tears started from his eyes. He couldn’t understand why Whiskers should suddenly be so angry with him.茅十八道:“你为什么用石灰撒在那史松的眼里?”声音严厉,神态更是十分凶恶。’Why did you throw lime in the Captain’s eyes?’ His voice was stern, his face grim. Trinket had never seen him like this.

  韦小宝甚是害怕,退了一步,颤声道:“我……我见他要杀你。”茅十八问道:“石灰哪里来的?”韦小宝道:“我……我买的。”茅十八道:“买石灰来干什么?”韦小宝道:“你说要跟人打架,我见你身上有伤,所以……所以买了石灰粉帮你。”He retreated, terrified, and replied in trembling tones: ‘I… I thought he was going to kill you!’ ‘And where did you get the lime from?’ ‘I… bought it.’ ‘And why did you do that?’ ‘You said you’d be fighting, and I could see you were badly wounded … So I bought it, to help you . . .’茅十八大怒,骂道:“小杂种,你奶奶的,这法子哪里学来的?”’Why, you little bastard!’ cried Whiskers angrily. ‘Where in hell’s name did you pick up a cheap trick like that?’

  韦小宝的母亲是娼妓,不知生父是谁,最恨的就是人家骂他小杂种,不由得怒火上冲,Now, because Trinket’s mother was a singsong-girl and neither he nor she knew who his father was, his paternity had always been a sore point with him, and any slur on his own ‘legitimacy’ inevitably sent him flying into an instant rage.也骂道:“你奶奶的老杂种,我操你茅家十七八代老祖宗,乌龟王八蛋,你管我从哪里学来的?你这臭王八,死不透的老甲鱼……”’Bastard yourself!’ he yelled back. ‘Sod you and all your ancestors–all seventeen or eighteen generations of them! Rotten turtle! What business is it of yours what I do? Foul, putrid old turtle!’一面骂,一面躲到了树后。By the end of this, Trinket was safely back behind his tree.

  茅十八双腿一挟,纵马过来,长臂伸处,便将他后颈抓住,提了起来, Whiskers spurred his horse forward, reached out, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, and lifted him up into the air.喝道:“小鬼,你还骂不骂?”韦小宝双足乱踢,叫道:“你这贼王八,臭乌龟,路倒尸,给人斩上一千刀的猪猡……”’You pesky little brat! Got anything more to say for yourself?’ Trinket thrashed the air wildly with his legs, and yelled back: ‘Dirty old turtle! I hope you rot and die by the roadside like a tramp! I hope you’re chopped into a million pieces like stinking sweet-and-sour pork!’他生于妓院之中,南腔北调的骂人言语,学了不计其数,这时怒火上冲,满口的污言秽语。He’d acquired an extensive repertoire of abuse in the whorehouse, from the diverse clientele, Northern and Southern. Fits of rage (such as the present one) tended to inspire him to virtuoso outpourings of filth.茅十八更是恼怒,拍的一声,重重打了他一记耳光。韦小宝放声大哭,骂得更是响了,突然之间。张口在茅十八手背上狠狠咬了一口。This had the effect of inflaming Whiskers all the more, and he dealt the boy a resounding box on the ears. Trinket now started howling and cursing for all he was worth, and then all of a sudden he sunk his teeth savagely into the back of Whiskers’ hand.茅十八手背一痛。脱手将他摔在地下。韦小宝发足便奔,口中兀自骂声不绝。茅十八纵马自后缓缓跟来。The pain caused Whiskers to loosen his grip momentarily, and Trinket dropped to the ground and bolted for it, still cursing nineteen to the dozen.

  韦小宝虽然跑得不慢,但他人小步短,哪里撇得下马匹的跟踪?奔得十几丈,便已气喘力竭,回头一看,茅十八的坐骑和他相距不过丈许,Trinket was a reasonably fast runner, but he didn’t stand a chance with Whiskers after him on horseback. After a hundred feet or so he was puffed out. He looked round, and saw Whiskers not much more than ten feet behind him.心中一慌,失足跌倒,索性便在地上打滚,大哭大叫。His heart missed a beat, he lost his footing and went tumbling to the ground. There he began writhing around, howling and wailing.他平日在妓院之中,街巷之间,时时和人争闹,打不过时便耍这无赖手段,对手都是大人,总不成继续追打,将他打死?生怕被人说以大欺小,只好摇头退开。This was in fact one of his oldest tricks: if ever he got into a scrape, whether in the whorehouse or out on the street, and it looked as if he was getting the worst of it, as a last resort he’d try bawling his head off. It usually worked. His opponent would stop dead in his tracks, shake his head, and walk away. No grown man wanted to be seen beating up a ‘helpless little kid’ …

  茅十八道:“你起来,我有话跟你说。”韦小宝哭叫:“我偏不起来,死在这里也不起来!”茅十八道:“好!我放马过来,踹死了你!”’Up you get,’ ordered Whiskers. ‘I’ve got something to say to you. ‘I won’t! I won’t!’ cried Trinket. ‘I’d rather lie here and die!’ ‘All right then,’ said Whiskers. Til let my horse trample you to death!’

  韦小宝最不受人恐吓,人家说:“我一拳打死你,我一脚踢死你”这等言语,他几乎每天都会听到一两次,根本就没放在心上,Trinket had never taken kindly to intimidation. People were always saying things like Til brain you! I’ll clout you one! I’ll kick your head in!’, and he always refused to take the least bit of notice. This time was no exception.当即大声哭叫:“打死人啦,大人欺侮小孩哪!乌龟王八蛋骑了马要踏死我啦!”’Go on then!’ he cried. Try it! I’ll bet you’re proud of yourself, a great big fellow like you, picking on a poor little kid! Heeeeelp\ There’s a turtle-egg on horseback and he’s going to trample me to death!’茅十八一提马缰,坐骑前足腾空,人立起来。韦小宝一个打滚,滚了开去。Whiskers tugged on his reins, and his horse reared up on its hind legs, pawing the air with its hooves. Trinket scrambled out of – its way.茅十八笑骂:“小鬼,你毕竟害怕。”韦小宝叫道:“我怕了你这狗入的,不是英雄好汉!”’Little brat!’ jeered Whiskers. ‘See–you arc scared!’ ‘Dog’s prick! You’re no hero!’

  茅十八见他如此惫赖,倒也无法可施,笑道:“凭你也算英雄好汉?好啦,你起来,我不打你了。我走啦!”Whiskers could see that Trinket was all done in, and relented. ‘And you are, I suppose!’ he laughed. ‘A hero, I mean. Come on now, up you get. I won’t hurt you. I’m going anyway.’韦小宝站起身来,满脸都是眼泪鼻涕,道:“你打我不要紧。可不能骂我小杂种。”茅十八笑道:“你骂我的话,还多了十倍,更难听十倍,大家扯直。就此算了。”Trinket stood up. His face was wet with tears and covered in snot. ‘Hit me as much as you like. But don’t ever, ever call me a bastard!’ Why not!’ laughed Whiskers. The things you called me were a hundred times worse! I think we’re quits.’韦小宝伸衣袖抹了抹,当即破涕为笑,说道:“你打我耳光,我咬了你一口,大家扯直,就此算了。你去哪里?”Trinket wiped his face with his sleeve, and a smile broke through his tears: ‘Yes,’ he grinned. ‘You boxed my ears, I bit your hand. I think we’re quits too. So, where are you going?’

  茅十八道:“我上北京。”韦小宝奇道:“上北京?人家要捉你,怎么反而自己送上门去?”茅十八道:“我老是听人说,那鳌拜是满洲第一勇士,他妈的,还有人说他是天下第一勇士。我可不服气,要上北京去跟他比划比划。”’Peking.’ ‘Peking?’ Trinket sounded flabbergasted. ‘But you’re a wanted man! What’s the sense in offering yourself up to them on a plate?’ ‘I’m always hearing people say how unbeatable that fellow Oboi is supposed to be,’ replied Whiskers. The Tartar Champion-some people even say the World Champion. Well, I’m going to prove them wrong. I’m going to take him on myself!’

  韦小宝听他说要去跟满洲第一勇士比武,这热闹不可不看,平时在茶馆中,听茶客说起天子脚下北京的种种情状。Now that would really be something, thought Trinket to himself. He could already sense the excitement! He wouldn’t miss a contest like that for all the world! Besides, it was Peking: in the tea-houses he’d heard so much about the wonders of the Capital, and had always dreamed of going there one day.心下早就羡慕,又想到自己杀了史松,官老爷查究起来可不是玩的,虽然大可赖在茅十八身上,但万一拆穿西洋镜,那可乖乖不得了,还是溜之大吉为妙,Here in Yangzhou he was in deep trouble now anyway, with the Captain’s death on his hands. He could always try pinning the blame on Whiskers. But if the true story came out he’d be done for. He’d be well advised to get away while he could.说道:“茅大哥,我求你一件事,成不成?这件事不大易办,只怕你不敢答应。”’Uncle Mao!’ he began. ‘There’s one favour I’d like to ask you. But it’s rather a tough one. You may not have the guts for it.’茅十八最恨人说他胆小,登时气往上冲,骂道:“你奶奶的,小……”他本想骂“小杂种”,总算及时收口,’Not have the guts! Why you dirty little b–‘ Whiskers’ reaction was true to form. He did, however, pull himself up in time, before uttering the forbidden ‘B’ word.道:“什么敢不敢的?你说出来,我一定答应。”又想自己性命是他所救,天大的难事,也得帮他。’Go on, ‘ he continued, ‘speak up. Of course I’ll do it.’ He hadn’t, despite everything, forgotten that he owed the boy his life.

  韦小宝道:“大丈夫一言既出,什么马难追,你说过的话,可不许反悔。”茅十八道:“自然不反悔。”’A man should never break his word, remember,’ insisted Trinket. ‘Promise me, now. By your face and troth–‘ ‘I told you–I promise!’韦小宝道:“好!你带我上北京去。”茅十八奇道:“你也要上北京?去干什么?”韦小宝道:“我要看你跟那个鳌拜比武。”’Good! Then I want you to take me with you to Peking!’ ‘You what?’ exclaimed Whiskers. ‘Whatever for?’ ‘I want to see you take on Lord Oboi!’

  茅十八连连摇头,道:“从扬州到北京,路隔千里,官府又在悬赏捉我,一路上甚是凶险,我怎能带你?”Whiskers shook his head. ‘First, it’s a very long way from Yangzhou to Peking. Second, the Guards are after me, they’ve posted a reward, and it could be a very tough ride. I couldn’t possibly take you.’韦小宝道:“我早知道啦,你答应了的事定要反悔。你带着我,官府容易捉到你,你自然不敢了。”茅十八大怒,喝道:“我有什么不敢?”韦小宝道:“那你就带我去。”’You see, I told you so, I knew you’d say no. You’re afraid I’ll slow you down, and make it easier for them to catch you.’ ‘Of course I’m not afraid!’ protested Whiskers indignantly. Then prove it: take me!’茅十八道:“带着你累赘得很。你又没跟你妈说过,她岂不挂念?”韦小宝道:“我常常几天不回家,妈从来也不挂念。”’Well all right, it’s true, you would slow me down quite a bit. And besides, you haven’t told your mother. She’ll be worried sick.’ ‘Oh I’m always going off for days on end. She never worries.’茅十八一提马缰,纵马便行,说道:“你这小鬼头花样真多。”Whiskers spurred his horse on, muttering: Tricky little devil, aren’t you!’

  韦小宝大声叫道:“你不敢带我去,因为你打不过鳌拜,怕我见到了丢脸!”I know!’ yelled Trinket after him. ‘You won’t take me, because you’re scared I’ll see you being beaten by Oboi!’茅十八怒火冲天,兜转马头,喝道:“谁说我打不过鳌拜?”韦小宝道:“你不敢带我去,自然因为怕我见到你打输了的丑样。你给人家打得爬在地下,大叫:“鳌拜老爷饶命,求求鳌拜大人饶了小人茅十八的狗命’,给我听到,羞也羞死了!”Whiskers wheeled his horse round angrily. ?’What makes you think Oboi will beat me?’ That must be it, that’s why you won’t take me! You’re scared I’ll hear you grovelling and begging! “Please, Great Lord Oboi, spare me sir! Spare my poor little neck!” You’d die of shame if I heard you talking like that!’

  茅十八气得哇哇大叫,纵马冲将过来,一伸手,将韦小宝提将起来,横放鞍头。怒道:“我就带你去,且看是谁大叫饶命。”The very thought seemed to send Whiskers into a paroxysm of rage. He rode up to Trinket, scooped him up, and deposited him sideways across his saddle. ‘Very well then!’ he growled. ‘I’ll take you. And we’ll see which man grovels first!’韦小宝大喜,道:“我若不是亲眼目睹,猜想起来,大叫饶命的定然是你,不是鳌拜。”’I bet it will be you!’ cried the delighted (but unrepentant) Trinket. ‘Anyway, now I’ll be able to see for myself!’

  茅十八提起左掌,在他屁股上重重打了一记,喝道:“我先要你大叫饶命!”Whiskers raised his left hand in the air and dealt him a resounding spank on the backside.韦小宝痛得“啊”的一声大叫,笑道:“狗爪子打人,倒是不轻!”’Yeeeow\’ yelped the boy, grinning despite everything. ‘Not bad, for a dog’s paw!’

  茅十八哈哈大笑,说道:“小鬼头,当真拿你没法子。”’You little devil! I don’t know what I’m going to do with you!’ laughed Whiskers.韦小宝半点也不肯吃亏,道:“老鬼头,我也当真拿你没法子。”To which Trinket, never one to be outdone, replied: ‘You big devil! I don’t know what I’m going to do with youl’茅十八笑道:“我带便带你上北京,可是一路上你须得听我言语,不可胡闹。”韦小宝道:“谁胡闹了?你入监牢,出监牢,杀盐贩子,杀军官,还不算是胡闹?”Til take you to Peking: but on one condition. On the way there you’re to do exactly what I say. No trouble. No nonsense.’ ‘Nonsense?’ protested Trinket. Trouble? Who’s the troublemaker around here? Who got put in jail? Who broke out of jail? Who killed the salt-smugglers? Who killed the troopers?’茅十八笑道:“我说不过你,认输便是。”将韦小宝放在身前鞍上,纵马过去,又牵了一匹马,辨明方向,朝北而行。’I can see I’ll never get the better of you,’ laughed Whiskers. ‘I give in.’ He seated Trinket on the saddle in front of him, and swung his horse round. Tying the second horse to his own with a leading rein, he took his bearings, and set off in a northerly direction.

  韦小宝从未骑过马,初时有些害怕,但靠在茅十八身上,准定不会摔下来,骑了五六里路后,胆子大了,说道:“我骑那匹马,行不行?”Trinket had never so much as ridden on a horse before, and at first he was scared. But with Whiskers right behind him he gradually acquired a little confidence, and after a few miles he asked if he could ride the other horse on his own.茅十八道:“你会骑便骑,不会骑趁早别试,小心摔断了你腿。”

  韦小宝要强好胜,吹牛道:“我骑过好几十次马,怎么不会骑?”’If you can ride, then go ahead. Otherwise, you’re better off where you are. We don’t want you breaking a leg.’ Trinket was eager to prove himself. ‘Of course I can ride!’ he boasted. ‘I’ve ridden dozens of times!’从马背上跳了下来,走到另一匹马左侧,一抬右足,踏入了马镫,脚上使劲,翻身上了马背。不料上马须得先以左足踏镫,他以右足上镫,这一上马背,竟是脸孔朝着马屁股。So saying, he jumped down and ran over to the left flank of the second horse, placed his right foot in the stirrup, swung himself up on to the horse’s back, and found himself staring straight at the horse’s rump.

  茅十八哈哈大笑,脱手放开了韦小宝坐骑的缰绳,挥鞭往那马后腿上打去,那马放蹄便奔。韦小宝吓得魂不附体,险些掉下马来,双手牢牢抓住马尾,两只脚挟住了马鞍,身子伏在马背之上,Whiskers roared with laughter. He promptly untied the horse, and cracked his whip at its rear. Off it cantered, with the terrified Trinket clinging desperately to its tail, clamping his legs frantically on to the saddle and lying as low as possible along the horse’s back.但觉耳旁生风,身子不住倒退。幸好他人小体轻,抓住马尾后竟没掉下马来,口中自是大叫大嚷:“乖乖我的妈啊,辣块妈妈不得了,茅十八,你再不拉住马头,老子操你十八代的臭祖宗,啊哟,啊哟……”He went careering backwards, the wind whistling behind his ears. Luckily he was small and lightly built, and by dint of clinging on to the tail he managed to avoid being thrown to the ground. ‘Ow! Help! Mother’s!’ he screamed as he sped along. ‘Whiskers, stop the horse, or I’ll bugger every last ancestor in your rotten family! HeedpY

  这马在官道上直奔出三里有余,势道丝毫未缓,转了个弯,前面右首岔道上一辆骡车缓缓行来,The horse continued to gather speed and galloped a mile or two down the highway without showing any signs of letting up. After a while it rounded a bend and there up ahead of them, to the right, where another road joined the highway, was a mule-cart. It was rattling straight towards them.车后跟着一匹白马,马上骑着个二十七八岁的汉子。这一车一马走上大道,也向北行。韦小宝的坐骑无人指挥,受惊之下,向那一车一马直冲过去,相距越来越近。赶车的车夫大叫:“是匹疯马!”Behind it galloped a white horse ridden by a man in his late twenties. Trinket’s runaway horse went charging wildly on. ‘Lord save us!’ cried the driver of the cart, as it came closer and closer. ‘A mad horse!’忙要将骡车拉到一旁相避。那乘马汉子掉转马头,韦小宝的坐骑也已冲到了跟前。He pulled his cart over to the side, while the young man behind wheeled his horse round, reined it in, and held his ground. Trinket’s horse came thundering closer and closer towards him.那汉子一伸手,扣住了马头。那马奔得正急,这汉子膂力甚大,一扣之下,那马立时站住,鼻中大喷白气,却不能再向前奔。The young man calmly reached out a hand, took a firm grip of the runaway horse’s head, and checked its mad onward rush. Despite its speed, his sheer strength was such that the horse came to an immediate and absolute halt. There it stood, snorting, and rooted to the spot.

  车中一个女子声音问道:“白大哥,什么事?”那汉子道:“一匹马溜了缰,马上有个小孩,也不知是死是活。”A woman’s voice could be heard from within the cart. ‘Brother Bo, what has happened?’ ‘It’s a runaway horse!’ replied the young man. There’s a boy on its back. I can’t tell if he’s still alive.’韦小宝翻身坐起,转头说道:“自然是活的,怎么会死?”Trinket promptly turned around, and sat upright. ‘Of course I’m alive!’只见这汉子一张长脸,双目炯炯有神,穿一袭青绸长袍,帽子上镶了块白玉, He studied the young man on the white horse more carefully: he had a long handsome face (in a rather well-bred sort of way), lively sparkling eyes, and was wearing a dark silk gown and a hat set with a piece of jade. 衣饰打扮显是个富家子弟,韦小宝出身微贱,最憎有钱人家的子弟,在地下重重吐了口唾沫,He was clearly from a wealthy family, the sort of family that Trinket the urchin had always spat upon–which he did now, a large gob of it landing on the ground.说道:“他妈的,老子倒骑千里马,骑得正快活,却碰到拦路尸,阻住了……阻住了老子……”’Wow!’ he exclaimed. That was a great ride! Gone with the wind–backwards! Terrific! Fantastic fun! Well, it was fun until this dickhead got in the way!’一口气喘不过来,伏在马屁股上大咳。那马屁股一耸,左后腿倒踢一脚。韦小宝“啊哟”一声,滑下马来,大叫:“哎唷喂,哎唷喂!”He ran out of breath and fell back coughing on the horse’s rump. The horse was a little startled, stamped its rear left leg, and sent Trinket sliding yelping to the ground.那汉子先前听韦小宝出口伤人,正欲发作,便见他狼狈万分的摔下马来,微微一笑,转过马头,随着骡车自行去了。The young man had been about to take offence at Trinket’s remarks, but then seeing him make such a fool of himself all over again, merely smiled, gave his own horse’s reins a gentle pull, and trotted off behind the mule-cart.

  茅十八骑马赶将上来,大叫:“小鬼头,你没摔死么?”韦小宝道:“摔倒没摔死,老子倒骑马儿玩,却给个臭小子拦住路头,气得半死。哎唷喂……”Whiskers had meanwhile come riding up. ‘Are you all right, little scamp?’ he cried. ‘Of course I’m all right. I was just having some fun riding back to front, when that spastic idiot went and got in my way. I might have been killed!’哼哼唧唧的爬起身来,膝头一痛,便即跪倒。茅十八纵马近前,拉住他后领,提上马去。He heaved himself up whimpering from the ground; his kneecaps had taken a bad knock, and he promptly doubled up again. Whiskers nudged his horse forward, took hold of him by the collar, and lifted him on to his saddle.韦小宝吃了这苦头,不敢再说要自己乘马了。两人共骑,驰出三十余里,见太阳已到头顶,The Satrap’s Men After this debacle, Trinket did not insist a second time on having his own mount. He rode with Whiskers, and they continued on their way for another ten miles or so, by which time the sun was high in the sky.到了一座小市镇上。茅十八慢慢溜下马背,再抱了韦小宝下马,到一家饭店去打尖。When they came to a little village, Whiskers slid gently from the saddle, lifted Trinket carefully down, and took him into an inn for something to eat.韦小宝在妓院中吃饭,向来是坐在厨房门槛上,捧只青花大碗,白米饭上堆满嫖客吃剩下来的鸡鸭鱼肉。At mealtimes in the whore-house Trinket had been accustomed to standing in the kitchen doorway and holding out his blue-and-white bowl for leftovers. Whatever bits of chicken, duck, fish, or meat the clients might have left uneaten would be piled up on top of his rice.菜肴虽是不少,却从来不曾跟人并排坐在桌边好好吃过一顿饭。Without knowing it he’d probably worked his way many a time through an extensive and varied menu. But never once in his life had he actually sat down at a table with a friend for a proper meal out.这时见茅十八当他是平起平坐的朋友,眼前虽只几碗粗面条,一盘炒鸡蛋,心中却也大乐。Now here he was, with a fellow who genuinely seemed to consider him a friend, and though they were only eating noodles and a plate of stir-fried eggs, to him it was as though he’d been invited out to a feast.

  他吃了半碗面,只听得门外马嘶人喧,涌进十七八个人来,瞧模样是官面上的。He’d eaten half his bowl of noodles when there was the sound of whinnying and shouting outside, and in swaggered seventeen or eighteen men dressed in some sort of uniform.韦小宝暗暗吃惊,低声道:“是官兵,怕是来捉你的。咱们快逃!”茅十八哼了一声,放下筷子,伸手按住刀柄。Trinket swallowed hard. ‘Looks like troopers!’ he muttered to his companion. They must be after you again. Let’s get out of here!’ Whiskers humphed, put down his chopsticks, and reached for his sword.却见这群人对他并不理会,一叠连声的只催店小二快做菜做饭。But the newcomers seemed to be taking little notice of him. They were more concerned with their stomachs, and were noisily ordering their meals.

  小镇上的小饭店中无甚菜肴,便只酱肉、熏鱼、卤水豆腐干、炒鸡蛋。It was only a small village, and the menu at the inn was very basic. All it had to offer was the usual soy-cured meat, smoked fish, bean curd strips in brine, and fried eggs.那群人中为首的吩咐取出自己带来的火腿、风鸡佐膳。The man who was evidently in command of the new arrivals gave orders for his personal supply of ham and pheasant to be brought in.一人说道:“咱们在云南一向听说,江南是好地方,穿的是绫罗绸缎,吃的是山珍海味,我瞧啊,单讲吃的,就未必比得上咱们昆明。”Meanwhile, his men chatted amongst themselves: They’re always going on back home about how wonderful this part of the country is: the gorgeous silks, the delicious seafood, and the finger-licking game. But just take a look at this stuff on offer here! Give me good old Yunnan cooking any day!’另一人道:“你老哥在平西王府享福惯了,吃的喝的,自是大不相同。那可不是江南及不上云南,要知道,世上及得上平西王府的,可就少得很了。”众人齐声称是。’You people over at the Satrap’s H.Q. eat and drink like lords,’ chipped in another. ‘Everyone knows that. Anything else is bound to seem rubbish by comparison.’ This comment met with a general growl of approval.

  茅十八脸上变色,寻思:“这批狗腿子是吴三桂这大汉奸的部下?”Whiskers’ face visibly darkened. These scum must be in the service of that traitor Wu Sangui!’ he thought to himself.

  只听一个焦黄脸皮的汉子问道:“黄大人,你这趟上京,能不能见到皇上啊?”Then one of the newcomers, a swarthy-looking fellow, said to one of his superiors: ‘Excellency Huang, will you be seeing His Majesty on this trip to Peking?’一个白白胖胖的人道:“依我官职来说,本来是见不着皇上的,不过凭着咱们王爷的面子,说不定能陛见罢!The man addressed, a fat, pale individual, replied, rather pretentiously: ‘Strictly speaking, no. I’m not really senior enough for an audience. But His Majesty will probably grant me one, out of consideration for His Highness Satrap Wu.朝廷里的大老们,对咱们‘西选’的官员总是另眼相看几分。”另一人道:“这个当然,当世除了皇上,就数咱们王爷为大了。”They usually make a big fuss of you at Court, if you’re in the Satrap’s personal service.’ That’s only natural,’ put in a third. ‘After all, he is the most powerful man in China, after the Emperor himself.’

  茅十八大声道:“喂,小宝,你可知道世上最不要脸的是谁?”韦小宝说:“我自然知道,那是乌龟儿子王八蛋!”’Hey, Trinket,’ said Whiskers rather loudly, ‘who’s the vilest creature in the entire world? Do you know?’ ‘Of course I know!’ piped up Trinket. ‘It must be that dirty lump of turtle-spawn–‘他其实不知道,这句话等于没说。In actual fact he had not the least idea who Whiskers was referring to. But while his answer said nothing, it gave nothing away either.茅十八在桌上重重一拍,说道:“不错!乌龟儿子王八蛋是谁?”Whiskers thumped the table enthusiastically and cried: ‘You’ve hit it on the head, boy! And tell me, what’s he called, that dirty lump of turtle-spawn?’韦小宝道:“他妈的,这乌龟儿子王八蛋,他妈的不是好东西。”说着也在桌上重重一拍。’Why, blow me if I know! But I do know he’s a good-for-nothing rotten piece of shit!’ This time Trinket brought his fist down most convincingly on the table.

  茅十八道:“我教你个乖,这乌龟儿子王八蛋,是个认贼作父的大汉奸,将咱们大好江山,花花世界,双手送了给鞑子……”’Let me tell you something,’ said Whiskers. That no-good, putrid piece of turtle-spawn, that lousy treacherous son-of-a-bitch–why, he took this beautiful land of ours, and handed it to the filthy stinking Tartars on a plate . . .’

  他说到这里,那十余名官府中人都瞪目瞧着他,有的已是满脸怒色。By now the newly arrived contingent were staring at him as one man, fury written clearly in their eyes. ‘

  茅十八道:“这大汉奸姓吴,他妈的,一只乌龟是吴一龟,两只乌龟是吴二龟,三只乌龟呢?”韦小宝大声道:“吴三龟!”

  茅十八大笑,说道:“正是吴三桂这大……”And I’ll tell you his name,’ continued Whiskers, quite unperturbed. ‘It’s Wu. Wu Sangui. The Satrap they call him.’ The Shit-trap more like,’ suggested Trinket helpfully.突然之间,呛啷啷声响,七八人手持兵刃,齐向茅十八打来。Controlled fury now gave way to action, and there was a loud clang of metal as seven or eight of the Satrap’s men drew their swords and advanced on Whiskers.韦小宝忙往桌底一缩。Trinket promptly disappeared under the table. There was a resounding clash as blade struck blade, Whiskers holding his own with his trusty cutlass.只听得乒乒乓乓,兵刃碰撞声不绝,茅十八手挥单刀,已跟人斗了起来。韦小宝见他坐在长凳上不动,知他大腿受伤,行走不便,心中暗暗着急。From his vantage point (beneath the table) Trinket could see his friend still seated at the bench and realized that he was immobilized by his leg wound. The outlook was pretty bleak.过了一会,当的一声,一柄单刀掉在地下,跟着有人长声惨呼,摔了出去。Then there was an almighty clang, and a sword went flying through the air, followed by the body of a man who tumbled to the ground howling with pain.但对方人多,韦小宝见桌子四周一条条腿不住移动,这些腿的脚上或穿布鞋,或穿皮靴,自然都是敌人,茅十八穿的是草鞋。只听得茅十八边打边骂:“吴三桂是大汉奸,你们这批小汉奸,老子不将你们杀个干干净净……啊哟!”大叫一声,想是身上受了伤,But Whiskers was still surrounded. Trinket could see a melee of legs, terminating in cloth shoes and leather boots. Whiskers was clearly identifiable by his straw sandals. He was smiting away, cursing all the while: The Satrap’s a lousy rotten traitor! And so are all of you! And I’m going to cut off all your dirty little . . . AiyeehV It was Whiskers who let out the cry of pain.跟着只见一人仰天倒下,胸口汩汩冒血。But at the same moment one of Whiskers’ assailants bit the dust, blood spraying from his chest.

  韦小宝伸出手去,拾起掉在地下的一柄钢刀,对准一只穿布鞋的脚,一刀向脚背上剁了下去,擦的一声,那人半只脚掌登时斩落。那人“啊”的一声大叫,向后便倒。Trinket reached for a short-sword that had fallen to the ground. He aimed at one of the cloth-clad feet moving round the table and hacked away at it. There was a nasty tearing sound and a good slice of the sole of the foot came away. A man tumbled screaming to the floor.

  桌子底下黑蒙蒙地,众人又斗得乱成一团,谁也不知那人因何受伤,只道是给茅十八打伤的。It was pitch-black beneath the table, and in the general pandemonium none of the Satrap’s men could tell who was doing what. They assumed the blow must have been inflicted by their principal adversary, Whiskers.韦小宝见此计大妙,提起单刀,又将一人的脚掌斩断。那人却不摔倒,痛楚之下,大叫:“桌子底……底下……”Trinket, exhilarated by the devastating effect of his latest ruse, struck again: this time his unfortunate victim managed to stay upright, grit his teeth, and cry out: ‘Under the table . . . The tablel’弯腰察看,却给茅十八一刀背打上后脑,登时昏晕。As the man stooped to look in the direction he had himself indicated, Whiskers brought the back of his sword down on his head and he went out like a light.便在此时,韦小宝又是一刀斩在一人的小腿之上。Trinket was by now hacking away at another man’s shins.

  那人大叫一声,左手一掀桌子,一张板桌连着碗筷汤面,飞将起来。那人随即举刀向韦小宝当头砍去。The man howled with pain and seized hold of the table, sending it, and everything on it–bowls, chopsticks, soup, and noodles–crashing to the floor. Then he raised his sword and aimed it square at (the now exposed) Trinket’s head.茅十八挥刀格开,韦小宝连爬带滚,从人丛中钻了出来。那小腿被斩之人怒极,挺刀追杀过来。韦小宝大叫:“辣块妈妈!”又钻入了一张桌子底下,Whiskers deftly parried the blow, while Trinket scrambled out through the melee. The most recent of his victims went wildly after him, with raised sword. ‘Great Balls of Sizzling Bean Curd!’ screeched Trinket, zooming under another table.那人叫道:“小鬼,你出来!”韦小宝道:“老鬼,你进来!”’Come on out of there, little skunk!’ the man yelled. ‘Come on in after me, big skunk!’ he yelled back.

  那人怒极,伸左手又去掀桌子。突然之间,砰的一声响,胸口中拳,身子飞了出去,却是坐在桌旁的一人打了他一拳。The man was boiling with rage. With his left hand he tried to tip this table up too, when suddenly there was a great crash, and a fist landed smack in the middle of his chest and sent him flying backwards. It was the man sitting at this very table who had dealt him the blow.

  出拳之人随即从桌上筷筒中拿起一把竹筷,一根根的掷将出去。只听得“唉唷”、“啊哟”惨呼声不绝,围攻茅十八的诸人纷纷被竹筷插中,或中眼睛、或插脸颊,都是伤在要紧之处。一人大声叫道:“强盗厉害,大伙儿走罢!”And now this same man took a fistful of chopsticks from the container on the table and began flicking them one by one at Whiskers’ assailants. They let out great howls of pain as they were struck, each one in a vital spot–eye, cheek, whatever–until one of them finally shouted: ‘Let’s get out of here!’扶起伤者,夺门而出。跟着听得马蹄声响,一行人上马疾奔而去。They beat a hasty retreat, dragging their wounded with them, and soon the sound of horses’ hooves could be heard as they galloped away.韦小宝哈哈大笑,从椅子底下钻出来,手中兀自握着那柄带血的钢刀。Trinket began to laugh hysterically, and emerged from under the table, still clutching the bloodstained sword.茅十八一跷一拐的走过去,抱拳向坐在桌边之人说道:“多谢尊驾出手助拳,否则茅十八寡不敌众,今日的事可不好办。”Whiskers hobbled over, and clasping his hands together bowed in respectful thanks to the man sitting at the table: Thank you for coming to my rescue, sir. That was most excellent kungfu! I was badly outnumbered, and without your help I’m afraid I would have come out of it badly.’韦小宝回头看去,微微一怔,原来坐着的那人,便是先前在道上拉住了他坐骑的汉子,自己曾骂过他几句的。Trinket took a closer look and recognized the man as the rider on the white horse who had so effectively halted his backwards flight (and about whom he had been so rude at the time).

  那汉子站起身来还礼,说道:“茅兄身上早负了伤,仍是激于义愤,痛斥汉奸,令人好生相敬。”The man rose to his feet and returned Whiskers’ bow. ‘Mao, you were already wounded, but your sense of honour inspired you to denounce a traitor and pay the consequences. I was deeply impressed.’茅十八笑道:“我生平第一个痛恨之人,便是大汉奸吴三桂,只可惜这恶贼远在云南,没法找他晦气,今日打了他手下的小汉奸,当真痛快。

  请教阁下尊姓大名。”’Never in all my life,’ replied Whiskers, ‘have I loathed a man as I loathe Satrap Wu. I may not be able to lay hands on him, but at least today I have been able to vent my spleen a little on his underlings. And you, sir–may I know your name?’那汉子道:“此处人多,说来不便。茅兄,咱们就此别过,后会有期。”’I cannot tell you in this public place. I must be on my way, Brother Mao. Until we meet again!’说着转身去扶桌边的一个女客。那女客始终低下了头,瞧不见她脸容。

  茅十八怫然道:“你姓名也不肯说,太也瞧不起人啦。”He escorted his lady companion out of the room. Throughout this exchange she had held her head lowered, and they had not been able to observe her face. ‘I’m afraid I consider that as less than civil of you, sir!’ exclaimed Whiskers.那人并不答理,扶着那女客走了出去,经过茅十八身畔时,轻轻说了一句话。The man said nothing, and continued on his way. But as he walked past Whiskers he leant towards him and muttered something in his ear.

  茅十八全身一震,立时脸现恭谨之色,躬身说道:“是,是。茅十八今日见到英雄,实是……实是三生有幸。”Whiskers was like a man struck by lightning. A radiant expression of awe illuminated his face, and he made a deep bow. ‘A true hero! Yes, today I have seen a true hero!’ he declared solemnly.那人竟不答话,扶着那女客出了店门,上车乘马而去。The man said nothing further, but left the inn with the lady on his arm. She climbed into the cart, he mounted his horse, and off they went.韦小宝见茅十八神情前倨后恭,甚觉诧异,问道:“这小子是什么来头?瞧你吓得这个样子。”Whiskers the Would-be Master Trinket was intrigued by this sudden transformation on Whiskers’ part. ‘Who is that man?’ he asked. ‘What made you start arse-licking all of a sudden?’茅十八道:“什么小子不小子的?你嘴里放干净些。”眼见饭店中的老板与店伴探头探脑,店堂中一塌胡涂,满地鲜血,说道:“走罢!”’Mind your language!’ retorted Whiskers. He looked around, and saw the innkeeper and waiters peering into the room, surveying the scene of destruction and the bloodstains on the floor. ‘Let’s go!’ he said.扶着桌子走到门边,拿起一根门闩撑地,走到店门外,从店外马桩子上解开马缰He hobbled from one table to the next, and managed to make his way to the doorway. Pulling out the door-bar and using it as a crutch, he limped out into the yard and loosened the horses from the post to which they had been tethered.,说道:“你扳住马鞍,左脚先踏马镫子,然后上马……对了,就是这样。”Turning to Trinket, he instructed him: ‘Grab hold of the saddle, put your left foot in the stirrup this time, and heave yourself up … That’s right, that’s how you’re supposed to do it.’韦小宝道:“我本来会骑马的,好久不骑,这就忘了。哪有什么希奇?”’I know how to ride!’ protested Trinket. ‘I’m just a bit out of practice . . .’

  茅十八一笑,跃上另一匹马,左手牵着韦小宝坐骑的缰绳,纵马北行,说道:“我身上有伤,遇上了鹰爪对付不了。咱们不能再走官道,须得找个隐僻所在,养好了伤再说。”Whiskers chuckled and mounted the other horse. He rode off, still holding Trinket’s reins. With these wounds of mine,’ he said, ‘I’d be no match for the troopers. We’d better keep off the main highway. And we need to find a quiet place where I can rest and get my strength back.’韦小宝道:“刚才那人武功倒也了得,一根根竹筷掷了出去,便将人打走。茅大哥,我瞧你是及不上他了。”That fellow just now was quite something!’ said Trinket. The way he flicked those chopsticks! Wow! That made them run all right! You’re not quite in his league, are you, Whiskers?’茅十八道:“那自然。他是云南沐王府中的英雄,岂有不了得的?”’Of course I’m not. The man is attached to the Mu Family! Of course he’s good!’韦小宝道:“他是云南沐王府的吗?我还道是天地会中那个什么陈总舵主呢,瞧你吓得这副德性。”’Attached to the what?’ replied Trinket. ‘You seemed so afraid of him, I was thinking he must be that Helmsman Chen, the chief of the Triads.’茅十八怒道:“我吓什么了?小鬼头胡说八道。我是尊敬沐王府,对他自当客气三分。”’Afraid of him! Stop talking such nonsense, you impudent young puppy! I just happen to have a deep respect for Old Duke Mu, which of course extends to his descendants and their retainers.’韦小宝道:“人家可没对你客气哪!你问他尊姓大名,他理也不理,只说‘咱们就此别过,后会有期。’”Well, he didn’t seem to show you a great deal of respect. When you asked him his name, he just ignored you; all you got out of him was that “till we meet again” stuff.’茅十八道:“他后来不是跟我说了吗?否则的话,我怎知他是沐王府的?”韦小宝问道:“他在你耳朵边说了句什么话?”茅十八道:“他说:

  ‘在下是云南沐王府的,姓白。’”’He spoke to me in confidence as he was leaving–how else would I have known who he was?’ Well? What did he whisper in your ear?’ ‘He told me he served the Mu Family, and that his name was Bo.’韦小宝道:“嗯,姓白,原来是个吃白食的。”茅十八道:“小孩儿别胡说八道。”(此句英文翻译不通,故略过)

  韦小宝道:“你见了沐王府的人便吓得魂不附体,老子可不放在心上。茅大哥,你不怕鳌拜,不怕大汉奸吴三桂,却去怕什么云南沐王府,他们当真有三头六臂不成? ‘So what’s so special about that?’ asked Trinket. ‘You don’t seem scared of Lord Oboi, or the Shit-trap. Have they got three heads and six arms, Old Duke Mu’s merry men, or whatever they’re called? 啊,我知道啦,你怕他用两根筷子戳瞎了你一对眼睛,茅十八变成了茅瞎子。”I know–you’re probably scared shitless he’ll do his chop-stick trick on you and poke out both your eyes.’

  茅十八道:“我也不是怕他们,只不过江湖上的好汉倘若得罪了云南沐王府,丢了性命不打紧,却惹得万人唾骂,给人瞧不起。”’I am not scared of them. You don’t understand. We brothers of River and Lake revere the Mu Family as heroes. To offend one of them in any way is unthinkable. It’s got nothing to do with fear, it’s to do with honour.’韦小宝道:“云南沐王府到底是什么脚色,又有这等厉害?”茅十八道:“你不是武林中人,跟你说了,你也不懂。”’Why? What’s so amazingly special about these people?’ asked Trinket. ‘You wouldn’t understand even if I tried to tell you,’ said Whiskers dismissively. That’s because you are not one of us. You’re not a fighting man.’韦小宝道:“他妈的,好神气吗?我压根儿就不希罕。”’Fighting man my arse!’ Trinket shot back. ‘I wouldn’t want to be one anyway!’

  茅十八道:“咱们在江湖上行走,要见到云南沐王府的人,本来已挺不容易,要他们结交,那更是千难万难了。今天刚好碰上老子跟吴三桂的手下人动手,沐王府跟吴三桂是死对头,他们自然要帮我。偏偏你这小子不学好,尽使些下三滥的手段,连带老子也给人家瞧不起了。”说看不由得满脸怒色。The Mu Family Paladins are very special people. You’re lucky to have set eyes on one! I was in a bit of a tight spot today with those men of the Satrap’s–but luckily Mu’s men consider him their deadliest foe too, so this gentleman naturally came to my aid. Then you went shooting under the table and disgraced me with your cheap little tricks!’ Whiskers’ face filled with indignation and disgust as he spoke.韦小宝道:“啊哟,啧啧啧,人家摆臭架子,不肯跟你交朋友,怎么又怪起我来啦?”’Dearie me!’ sighed Trinket. ‘Dear oh dearie me! Just because someone’s given you the cold shoulder, there’s no need to go taking it out on mel’

  茅十八怒道:“你钻在桌子底下,用刀子去剁人家脚背,他妈的,这又是什么武功了?人家英雄好汉瞧在眼里,怎么还能当咱们是朋友?”’You\ You were skulking under the table!’ roared Whiskers. ‘You were hacking people’s feet off–d’you call that fighting? What d’you think a real fighting man is going to think of that kind of behaviour? Is he going to want to call us his friends after that?’韦小宝道:“你奶奶的,若不是老子剁下几只脚底板,只怕你的性命早没了,这时候却又怪起我来。”’Oh stuff it!’ retorted Trinket. ‘If I hadn’t hacked off a few feet, you’d probably be dead by now!’茅十八想到给云南沐王府的人瞧得低了,越想越怒,Whiskers’ sense of honour was too outraged for him to appreciate this line of argument.说道:“我叫你不要跟着我,你偏要跟来。你用石灰撒人眼睛,这等下三滥的行径,江湖上最给人瞧不起,’I told you I didn’t want you tagging along with me! But you wouldn’t take no for an answer. First it’s throwing lime in people’s eyes–that’s something no proper fighter would ever stoop to,比之下蒙药、烧闷香,品格还低三等。我宁可给那黑龙鞭史松杀了,也不愿让你用这等卑鄙无耻的下流手段来救了性命。it’s worse than knocking a man out with drugs or incense, far worse! It’s not fair play! I’d rather have let that Captain kill me than be saved by a shameless low-down trick like that!他妈的,你这小鬼,我越瞧越生气。”The very sight of you makes my blood boil, you worthless little runt!’

  韦小宝这才明白,原来用石灰撒人眼睛,在江湖上是极其下流之事,自己竟是犯了武林中的大忌,Trinket was beginning to get the message. Throwing lime in the eyes of an opponent was not quite the done thing. It was frowned on by decent practising outlaws. He’d clearly gone and broken an unwritten law.而钻在桌子底下剁人脚板,显然也不是什么光彩武功,但给他骂得老羞成怒,And no doubt hacking feet from underneath a table was not considered exactly heroic conduct either. But his new sense of shame merely made him angrier.恶狠狠的道:“用刀杀人是杀,用石灰杀人也是杀,又有什么上流下流了?要不是我这小鬼用下流手段救你,你这老鬼早就做了上流鬼啦。’Killing’s still killing,’ he retorted fiercely, ‘whether you use lime or a sword. I don’t see why one method’s any better or more honourable than another. All right, so I’m a brat, I used a low-down, dirty trick: but if I hadn’t, you’d be dead by now!你的大腿可不是受了伤么?人家用刀子剁你大腿,我用刀子剁人家脚板,大腿跟脚板,都是下身的东西,又有什么分别?你不愿我跟你上北京,你走你的,我走我的,以后大家各不相识便是。”You were already wounded. Someone hacked you in the leg with a sword, so I hacked them back. A bit lower down, perhaps, but it’s all below the waist, so what’s the fuss about? If you don’t want me to go to Peking with you, fine, let’s go our own separate ways and pretend we never even knew each other!’

  茅十八见他身上又是尘土,又是血迹,心想这小孩所以受伤,全是因己而起,Whiskers looked at the bedraggled little boy, covered with mud from the long journey and spattered with blood from all the fighting. And he, Whiskers, was responsible for it all. After all, he’d started the whole thing in Yangzhou.此地离扬州已远,将这小孩撇在荒野之中,毕竟太也说不过去,何况这小孩于自己有两番救命之德,岂能忘恩负义?They were a very long way from Yangzhou now. He couldn’t possibly abandon him in the middle of nowhere, especially as he owed him his life–twice over. There was no escaping that fact. Didn’t he owe him something?便道:“好,我带你上北京是可以的,不过你须得依我三件事。”’Oh all right! I’ll take you with me to Peking. But this time I’m going to make three conditions.’

  韦小宝大喜,说道:“依你三件事,那有什么打紧?大丈夫一言既出,什么马难追!”他曾听说书先生说过“驷马难追”,但这个“驷”字总是记不起来。’No problem!’ chirped Trinket, pleased as punch. And then, showing that his memory of the storytellers’ turns of phrase could sometimes be a little idiosyncratic: ‘My word is my wand!’

  茅十八道:“第一件是不许惹事生非,污言骂人,口中得放干净些。”The first condition,’ began Whiskers, ‘is that you mustn’t stir up trouble, you mustn’t call people names and insult them all the time. In otherr words, clean up your language!’韦小宝道:“那还不容易?不骂就不骂,可是倘若人家惹到我头上来呢?”茅十八道:“好端端地,人家为什么会来惹你?’No problem!’ cried Trinket. ‘I’ll do it. But what if someone offends me?’’Why on earth should anyone want to do diat?第二件,倘若跟人家打架,不许张口咬人,更不许撒石灰坏人眼睛,至于在地下打滚,躲在桌子底下剁人脚板,钻人裤裆,捏人阴囊,打输了大哭大叫,躺着装死这种种勾当,一件也不许做。Second: if you do get into a fight, you’re not to bite, or throw lime in your enemy’s eyes, or skulk under tables and hack their feet off, or grab them by the balls, or bawl your eyes out if you’re beaten, or pretend to be dead.这都是给人家瞧不起的行径,不是英雄好汉之所为。”In other words, none of your cheap tricks! No self-respecting fighting man would stoop to a single one of them!’

  韦小宝道:“我打不过人家,难道尽挨揍不还手?”’So what do I do if I’m getting the worst of it? Sit back and let them beat the hell out of me?’茅十八道:“还手要凭真武功,似你这等无赖流氓手段,可让别人笑歪了嘴巴。你在妓院中鬼混,那也不打紧,跟着我行走江湖,趁早别干这一套。”Tight back: but fight clean! Fight properly! Dirty fighting will just make people laugh at you and despise you as a little street urchin! That kind of thing may have been all right in the whorehouse: but you’re with me now!’韦小宝心想:“你说打架要凭真实武功,我一个小孩子,有什么真实武功?这也不许,那也不许,还不是挨揍不还手?”Trinket was thinking to himself: ‘It’s all very well for you to talk about fighting clean–but I’m just a kid, no one’s ever taught me anything. All I know is a few tricks. Without them I wouldn’t stand a chance.’

  茅十八又道:“武功都是学的,谁又从娘肚子里把武功带出来了?’Since the olden days the Martial Arts have been transmitted from teacher to disciple,’ continued Whiskers, as if reading the boy’s thoughts. They are skills that have to be learned. No one’s born with them.你年纪还小,这时候起始练武,正来得及。你磕头拜我为师,我就收了你这个徒弟。我一生浪荡江湖,从没几天安静下来,好好收个徒弟。You’re still young. It’s not too late to start training. Get down on your knees, kowtow to me, and I’ll take you on as my disciple. I’ve been a wanderer all my life, I’ve never stopped in one place long enough to have a proper disciple, someone I could hand down my skills to.算你造化,只要你听话,勤学苦练,将来未始不能练成一身好武艺。”说着凝视韦小宝,颇有期许之意。You’re in the right place at the right time– your luck is in! Just do as I say, try hard, train hard, and one day you’ll be a real fighter too! One day you’ll be one of us!’ He was looking Trinket straight in the eyes, obviously taking it for granted that the boy would say yes.

  韦小宝摇头道:“不成,我跟你是平辈朋友,要是拜你为师,岂不是矮了一辈?你奶奶的,你不怀好意,想讨我便宜。”Trinket shook his head. ‘Sorry. I thought we were supposed to be friends: you know, on the same level. If I have to start calling you Master, I’ll be putting myself down. I’m not having that! You’re just trying to pull a fast one on me, that’s what you’re doing!’茅十八大怒,江湖之上,不知有多少人曾想拜他为师,学他江湖上赫赫有名的“五虎断门刀法”, This was too much for Whiskers. Coundess people had asked to be his disciple–otiier members of the oudaw fraternity, men who wished to learn his dazzling sword technique, moves such as the famous Five Tigers Breaking the Door,只是这些人若非心术不正,便是资质不佳,又或是机缘不巧,自己身有要事,无暇收徒传艺,for which he was so widely renowned. Somehow it had never happened: the young men had either had the wrong motive, or were not of the right calibre, or else the time had not been right, and he’d been too busy with other things.今日感念韦小宝救过自己性命,想授他武功,哪知他竟一口拒绝,And now he’d made the offer of passing something on, as a token of gratitude to this boy who’d saved his life. And the little brat had gone and turned him down!大怒之下,便欲一掌打将过去,手已提起,终于忍住不发,说道:“我跟你说,此刻我心血来潮,才肯收你为徒,日后你便磕一百个响头求我,我也不收啦。”He was angry enough to hit him, and even raised his hand to do so, but thought better of it. ‘I tell you boy, I offered to do this for you on an impulse. Take it while it’s there. Come back tomorrow and beg me a hundred times, go down on your knees and knock your head on the ground and I swear I’ll not repeat the offer!’韦小宝道:“那有什么希罕?日后你便是磕三百个响头求我,哀求我拜你为师,我也还是不肯。做了你徒弟,什么事都得听你吩咐,那有什么味道?’You come back tomorrow and beg me to be your disciple three hundred times, ‘ returned Trinket, ‘and I swear I’ll still say no. If I’m to be your disciple, diat means I’ll have to do everything you say. Where’s the fun in diat?我不要学你的武功。”Anyway, who wants to learn all your measly sword tricks.’茅十八气愤愤的道:“好,不学便不学,将来你给敌人拿住了,死不得,活不成,可别后悔。”’Very well,’ said Whiskers, huffily. ‘Don’t learn from me then. But when you’re pinned to the ground and death’s staring you in the face, don’t start wishing you’d said yes. It’ll be too late!’韦小宝道:“又有什么后悔了?就算学成跟你一般的武功,又有什么好?你给黑龙鞭缠住了,动也动不得;见到云南沐家一个吃白食的家伙,恭恭敬敬的只想拍马屁,’Don’t worry, I won’t. Why should I? Why should I want to be only as good as you, anyway? Old Black Dragon had you pinned to a tree. And when that cissy of Duke Mu’s turned up, Pooh or Boo, or whatever his name was, you just went to pieces.跟人家结交,人家却偏偏不睬你。我武功虽不及你,却……”You ended up licking his arse when he wouldn’t even give you the time of day. I may not be as good a fighter as you, but at least I–‘

  茅十八越听越怒,再也忍耐不住,拍的一声,重重打了他个嘴巴。韦小宝料知他要打,竟然不哭,反而哈哈大笑,说道:“你给我说中了心事,这才大发脾气。我问你,是不是你想跟人家交朋友,人家不睬你,你就把气出在老子头上?”Whiskers could control his rage no longer, and clouted the boy on the side of the head. Trinket had been expecting it, and this time instead of bawling he burst out laughing: That’s it, isn’t it? It really upset you, didn’t it? You’re taking it out on me. You were greasing up to him, and he cut you dead–‘茅十八拿这小孩真没办法,打也不是,骂也不是,撇下他不理又不是,他本是霹雳火爆的脾气,这时只好强自忍耐,哼了一声,鼓起了腮帮子生气,松手放开了缰绳,叫道:“马儿,马儿,快来个老虎跳,把这小鬼头摔个半死。”Whiskers was beside himself. This boy was incorrigible. It was no good hitting him, or shouting at him, or threatening to dump him on the roadside. He struggled to contain his rage, humphing and snorting and puffing his cheeks out angrily. Then he jerked at the reins of Trinket’s horse, which he was still holding, and cried histrionically: ‘Dear horse! Do me a favour, will you? Rear for me, buck for me, dance like a tiger for me! Throw this little devil on the ground and smash in his skull for me!’他本来要韦小宝依他三件事,但第二件便说不拢,第三件事也想不起来了。Of his three conditions for taking Trinket to Peking with him, the second (clean fighting) had fallen flat on its face. And the third– why, he couldn’t even remember what it was.

  韦小宝自行拉缰,那坐骑倒乖乖的行走,并不跟他为难。Trinket meanwhile took a firm hold of his own reins, and his horse trotted obediently forward. It certainly didn’t try anything on.

  韦小宝心下大乐,心道:“你不教我骑马,老子可不是自己会了吗?”又想:“今后我跟着你行走江湖,总会时时见你和人家动手打架。你不教我,难道我没生眼珠,不会瞧么?The boy secretly rejoiced: ‘See, he wouldn’t teach me to ride–and I’ve taught myself!’ His thoughts rambled on: ‘From now on, wherever we go, I’ll just watch Whiskers when he fights. I don’t need him to teach me–I’ve got eyes, haven’t I?我不但会学你的武功,连你对头的武功也一起学了。几个人的武功加在一起,自然就比你强了。呸,他妈的,好希罕吗?And I’ll watch the people he fights against, and learn from them too. That way I can put together my own style. I’ll probably end up a better fighter than he is–why shouldn’t I?那吃白食的小子掷筷子的本事倒挺管用,倘若他向老子磕头,求我学他这门功夫,老子倒不妨答应了他。他妈的,他为什么要向我磕头,求我学他这门功夫?”想到这里,不禁嗤的一声,笑了出来。That chopstick-flicking trick, for example, now there’s something worth learning! I wouldn’t mind being his disciple–if he ever asked me, which of course he won’t!’ He chuckled to himself.

  茅十八回头问道:“什么事好笑?”韦小宝道:“我想沐王府这吃白食的小子……”’What do you find so amusing?’ asked Whiskers. ‘I was just thinking about that pooh-faced Aladdin from Duke Mu’s–‘茅十八道:“什么吃白食的小子?”’Paladin!’ objected Whiskers. ‘Whatever.’韦小宝道:“他可不是姓白吗?”茅十八道:“姓白管姓白,怎么姓白的就吃白食?他们姓白的,在云南沐王府中可大大的了不起哪。刘、白、方、苏,是云南沐王府的四大家将。”’And his name is Bo, not Pooh. That gentleman is very highly thought of by the Mu family. He is descended from one of the Four Paladins. So please mind what you say about him!’韦小宝道:“什么三大家将、四大家将?沐王府又是什么鬼东西?”茅十八道:“你口里干净些成不成?江湖之上,提起沐王府,无不佩服得五体投地,什么鬼不鬼的?”’Who gives a stuff about Old Duke Mu and his Merry Men?’ ‘Please!’ protested Whiskers. ‘Show a little respect! Let me try and explain a thing or two.韦小宝嗯了一声。茅十八道:“当年明太祖起兵反元,沐王爷沐英立有大功,平服云南,太祖封他沐家永镇云南,When the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty drove the Mongols out of China, Old Duke Mu Ying was one of his right-hand men. Later he took charge of things in Yunnan Province,死后封为什么王,子孙代代,世袭什么国公。”and his sons and grandsons have ruled there for generations.’韦小宝一拍马鞍,大声道:“原来云南沐王府什么的,是沐英沐王爷家里。你老说云南沐王府,说得不清不楚,要是早说沐英沐王爷,我哪还有不知道的?Trinket slapped his saddle. This rang a bell. He had listened many a time to the tale of the founding of the Ming dynasty. ‘Now you tell me! You mean we’re talking about the Old Duke Mu, the great hero? Why on earth didn’t you say so? That explains everything.沐王爷早死了几千年啦。你也不用这么害怕。”But he’s been dead and gone for thousands of years. Weren’t you overdoing the respect thing a bit?’茅十八道:“什么几千年?胡说八道。咱们江湖上汉子敬重沐王府,倒不是为了沐英沐王爷,而是为了他的子孙沐天波。’You don’t know anything about anything!’ expostulated Whiskers. The Old Duke hasn’t been dead that long–more like three hundred years actually. And anyway, he’s not the only hero in that family; there’s the one we call the Young Duke–Mu Tianbo.明朝末代皇帝桂王逃到云南,黔国公沐天波,对了,记起来啦,是黔国公,他忠心耿耿,保驾护主。吴三桂这奸贼打到云南,黔国公保了桂王逃到缅甸。He was with the Ming Prince Gui when he had to flee to Yunnan. That was only a few years ago, when Satrap Wu and his Tartar friends chased Prince Gui right down into the south-west, through Yunnan and into Burma.缅甸的坏人要杀桂王,沐天波代主而死。这等忠义双全的英雄豪杰,当真古今少有。”The Burmese cowards tried to murder our Prince, and Young Duke Mu died fighting them. He was a true hero.’韦小宝道:“啊,这位沐天波老爷,原来就是《英烈传》中沐英的子孙。沐王爷勇不可当,是太祖皇帝的爱将,这个我知道得不想再知道啦。”他曾听说书先生说《英烈传》,徐达、常遇春、胡大海、沐英这些大将的名字,他听得极熟,又问:“你怎不早说?我如早知沐王府便是沐英沐王爷家中,对那吃白食的朋友也客气三分了。刘、白、方、苏四大家将,又是什么人?”

  茅十八道:“刘白方苏四家,向来是沐王府的家将,祖先随着沐王爷平服云南。天波公护驾到缅甸,这四大家将的后人也都力战而死。只有年幼的子弟逃了出来。我见了那位姓白的英雄所以这样客气,一来他帮我打退大汉奸的鹰犬……”韦小宝道:“我也帮你打退大汉奸的鹰犬,你对我怎么又不客气?”’You should’ve told me!’ protested Trinket. ‘If I’d known your Aladdin was connected with that lot, I’d have been a bit more respectful myself.’ ‘I should think so. As I told you, he’s descended from one of the four loyal generals, the original Four Paladins, that fell with the Old Duke. That’s one of the reasons I look up to him. And then of course he saved my life–‘ ‘So did I, remember,’ put in Trinket. ‘But I don’t see you doing much looking up in my direction . . .’茅十八瞪了他一眼,说道:“二来他是忠良的后人,江湖上人人敬重。倘若得罪了云南沐家之人。岂不为天下万人唾骂?”韦小宝道:“原来如此,见到忠良之后,自然是要客气些。”

  茅十八道:“识得你以来,第一次听到你说一句有道理的话。”韦小宝道:“我不知要等到几时,才听到你说一句有道理的话。沐王爷铜角渡江,火箭射象,这样的大英雄,谁不敬重?又何必要你多说个屁?”Trinket the Storyteller ‘Of course we all know about Old Duke Mu,’ continued Trinket. ‘Everyone’s heard the story of how he blew the horn on the Mongol rear, and drove back the Elephant Rocket Brigade–‘茅十八问道:“什么叫做铜角渡江,火箭射象?”’He what?’

  韦小宝哈哈一笑,说道:“你只知道拍云南沐王府的马屁,原来不知道沐王爷是多大的英雄。你可知沐王爷是太祖皇帝的什么人?”Trinket had a good laugh. ‘See! All you know is how to lick Aladdin’s arse! You don’treally know the first thing about Old Duke Mu, the real hero! What position he held under the Founder of the Ming, for example?’茅十八道:“沐王爷是太祖皇帝手下大将,谁不知道?”’He was one of his top generals. Everyone knows that.’韦小宝道:“呸,大将?大将自然是大将,难道是无名小卒?哪,太祖手下,共有六王,徐达徐王爷、常遇春常王爷,你自然知道啦,还有四王是谁?”’Obviously–he’s hardly likely to have been a foot-soldier, is he? The Founder had six top generals: Duke Xu, Duke Chang–do you know who the other four were?’茅十八是草莽豪杰,于明朝开国的史实一窍不通,徐达、常遇春的名字当然听见过,却不知他们是什么六王,也不知此外还有四个什么王。Whiskers was just an ordinary peasant turned outlaw and swordsman, and knew nothing but the bare bones of the story.韦小宝却在扬州茶坊之中将这部《英烈传》听得滚瓜烂熟。Trinket, on the other hand, had heard it told so many times in the Yangzhou tea-houses that he knew the whole thing off pat.其时明亡未久,人心思旧,却又不敢公然谈论反清复明之事,The Ming dynasty had not long been overthrown, and there was widespread nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ before the Manchu conquest–though no one dared speak openly of a Ming restoration.茶坊中说书先生讲述各朝故事,听客最爱听的便是这部敷演明朝开国、驱逐鞑子的《英烈传》。The tea-house storytellers found that their historical accounts of the founding of the Ming, in particular the defeat of the Mongol Tartars, went down extremely well: their audience found it easy to substitute Manchu for Mongol and thereby to obtain a vicarious patriotic thrill.

  明太祖开国,最艰巨之役是和陈友谅鄱阳湖大战,但听客听来兴致最高的,却是如何将蒙古鞑子赶出塞外,如何打得众鞑子落荒而逃。大家耳中所听,是明太祖打蒙古鞑子,心中所想,打的却变成了满洲鞑子。汉人大胜而鞑子大败,自然志得意满。是以明朝开国诸功臣中,尤以徐达、常遇春、沐英三人最为听众所崇拜。Every Chinese victory and every Mongol defeat gave them a special pleasure. And the Ming Founder’s leading generals became objects of veneration for the tea-house habitues. The storytellers always laid it on thick when describing the slaughter of the Mongols. It worked every time. The audience loved it.说书先生说到三人如何杀鞑子之时,加油添酱,如火如荼,听众也便眉飞色舞,如醉如痴。韦小宝见茅十八答不上来,甚是得意,说道:“还有四王,便是李文忠、邓愈、汤和以及沐英沐王爷。这四位王爷封的是什么王,跟你说了,料你也记不到,是不是?”其实他自己也根本记不起这六王封的是什么王。Trinket was delighted to have exposed Whiskers’ ignorance. He now reeled off the names of the four ‘other generals’, while agreeing to spare him the details of their full tides (which he had himself forgotten).茅十八点了点头。韦小宝又道:“汤和是明太祖的老朋友,年纪大过太祖;邓愈也是很早就结识了太祖,一直跟他打江山的。李文忠是太祖的外甥。沐王爷是太祖的义子,跟太祖姓朱,叫做朱英,后来立功大了,太祖叫他复姓,才叫做沐英。”茅十八道:“原来如此,那么铜角射象什么的,又是怎么一回事?”Whiskers breathed a sigh of relief. What about blowing the horn to drive back the Elephant Rocket Brigade? What was that all about?’ he asked.

  韦小宝道:“是铜角渡江,不是铜角射象。Those are two quite separate stories,’ explained Trinket knowledgeably. The first is called “Blowing the Horn to Cross the River”.太祖打平天下,最后只有云南、贵州的梁王未曾降服。And it goes like this.’ Trinket proceeded to embark on a description of the Founding of the Ming, relating how the Great Founder had reconquered all of China from the Mongols, except the south-west corner. The Provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou were still in the hands of the Mongols, under the man who called himself the Prince of Liang.那梁王叽哩咕噜花,是元朝末代皇帝的侄儿,守住了云南、贵州,不肯投降。”’I can’t remember his Mongol name,’ declared Trinket. ‘Something like Gululaluhu. He was a nephew of the last Mongol Emperor, anyway, and he refused to surrender.’那梁王本名把匝刺瓦尔密,韦小宝记不住他的名字,随口胡谄。The Prince’s actual name, which Trinket had genuinely forgotten, was Basalawarmi.茅十八虽觉奇怪,也不敢反驳,只听韦小宝续道:“太祖皇帝龙心大怒,便点三十万军马,命沐王爷带领前去攻打,But Whiskers knew no better. Trinket warmed to his task: ‘So the broth of the Great Founder was kindled, and he sent an army of six hundred thousand men–infantry and cavalry– under the command of Old Duke Mu.来到云南边界,遇到元兵。元兵的元帅叫做达里麻,此人身高十丈,头如巴斗……”They reached the borders of Yunnan, where they found the Mongol troops waiting for them, under their commander, a man named Delmek, a great giant of a man a hundred feet tall, with a head the size of a bean–‘

  茅十八道:“哪有身高十丈之人?”韦小宝知道说溜了嘴,辩道:“鞑子自然生得比咱们中国人高大些。’No one could be a hundred feet tall!’ protested Whiskers. Trinket had to confess to a little poetic license. ‘Still, the Tartars are often quite a bit bigger than we are.那达里麻身披铁甲,手执长枪,在江边哇啦啦一声大叫,便如半空中连打三个霹雳,只听得扑通、扑通、扑通,响声不断,水花四溅。你道是什么事?”茅十八道:“不知道,是什么事?”He was clad in a suit of mail, this Mongol giant, and he held a mighty spear in his hand. He stood by the river-bank bellowing some Mongol gibberish or other, and then suddenly, from out of the blue, he let out three great diundering roars. No sooner had he done so than he heard a series of splashes and saw ripples spreading across the surface of the water. ‘What do you think had happened?’韦小宝道:“原来达里麻哇哇大叫,声音传过江去,登时有十名明兵给他吓破胆子,摔下马来,掉进江中。沐王爷一见不对,心想再给他叫得几声,我军纷纷堕江,大事不好,于是眉头一皱,计上心来。”’What? What?’ cried Whiskers. ‘Well,’ explained Trinket, relishing his newfound role as a storyteller, ‘when the mighty voice of Delmek echoed across the river, ten of Old Duke Mu’s troops were so terrified they fell off their horses and tumbled into the river and were drowned. The Old Duke foresaw a catastrophe if this continued; he had visions of his entire army falling into the river, and so he racked his brains for a stratagem.’

  韦小宝平时说话,出口便是粗话,“他妈的”三字片刻不离口,但讲到沐英平云南的故事,学的是说书先生的口吻,粗话固然一句没有,偶然还来几句或通或不通的成语。Trinket’s conversation was normally a mishmash of uncouth urchin-like street language, liberally spiced with references to basic bodily functions. But somehow in retelling the story of Old Duke Mu both his manner and his language had been completely transformed into a passable imitation of the storyteller–complete with the occasional garbled proverb.

  他继续说道:“沐王爷眼见得达里麻张开血盆大口,又要大叫,于是弯弓搭箭,飕的一箭,便向达里麻口中射去。沐王爷的箭法百步穿杨,千步穿口,On he went: The Old Duke saw the Mongol General open his cavernous red mouth a second time, and knew he was about to bellow again. He fitted an arrow to his bow, took aim, and sent it whizzing straight through the air at his target. Old Duke Mu was a master archer. He could hit an arbutus berry at a hundred paces, and a man’s mouth at a thousand.这一箭呼呼风响,横过了江面,直向达里麻的大嘴射到。那达里麻也是英雄好汉,眼见这箭来得势道好凶,急忙低头,避了开去。只听得后军齐声呐喊:‘不好了!’达里麻回头一看,只见十名将军胸口都穿了个洞,鲜血狂喷。却原来沐王爷这一箭连穿十名将军,从第一名将军胸口射进,背后出来,又射入了第二名将军胸口,一共穿了十人。”Delmek, himself no mean warrior, saw the arrow homing in on him, and only just managed to duck his head out of the way in time. As he did so he heard a ghastly cry from the warriors drawn up behind him. Turning, he beheld not one, but ten of his finest commanders struck through the heart. The Duke’s arrow had gone straight through the chest of the first, out of his back and into the second, and so on, through ten men.’

  茅十八摇头道:“哪有此事?沐王爷就算天生神力,一箭终究也射穿不了十个人。”’Impossible!’ cried Whiskers, shaking his head in utter disbelief. ‘Even the best archer in the world could do no such thing!’韦小宝道:“沐王爷是天上星宿下凡,玉皇大帝派他来保太祖皇帝驾的,岂同凡人?你道是你茅十八吗?这一箭穿十,有个名堂,叫做‘穿云箭’。” ‘Old Duke Mu,’ pronounced Trinket solemnly, ‘was better than the best archer. He was a heavenly constellation in human form. The Jade Emperor sent him down to earth to protect the Great Founder of the Ming. Of course he was not a mere mortal like you. This feat of his even had a special name: Threading the Clouds.’

  茅十八将信将疑,问道:“后来怎样?”Whiskers was torn between incredulity and an overwhelming temptation to believe. ‘So what happened next?’韦小宝道:“达里麻一见大怒,心想你会射箭,难道我就不会?提起硬弓,也是一箭向沐王爷射将过来。Trinket launched off again. ‘Delmek flew into a flowering rage when he saw how his men had been sent to their deaths, and decided to return like for like. He drew his great bow and sent one of his arrows winging towards Old Duke Mu.沐王爷叫声:

  ‘来得好!’左手两根手指伸出,轻轻便将来箭挟住了。正在此时,天空一群大雁飞过,啼声嘹亮,沐王爷心生一计,”Splendid!” cried the Duke, catching the arrow neatly between two fingers of his left hand, literally plucking it out of the air! At that very moment a flock of wild geese flew honking across the sky, and a brilliant ruse suggested itself to the Old Duke.叫道:‘我要射中第三只雁儿的左眼!’飕的一箭,向那雁儿射去。达里麻心想:‘你要射第三只雁儿,已不容易,怎地还分左眼右眼?’”Watch me!” he shouted. “Third goose from the end, left eye!” And as he said this he sent an arrow whizzing through the sky towards the flock of geese. Delmek marvelled secretly to himself: “To hit the bird at all would be extraordinary! To strike it in the eye would be nothing short of a miracle!”抬头看去。便在此时,沐王爷连珠箭发,三箭齐向达里麻射到。”

  茅十八拍腿叫道:“妙极!这是声东击西的法子。”He gazed up into the sky, and at that precise instant Old Duke Mu let loose a string of three arrows in quick succession, each aimed at the person of the Mongol commander!’ ‘Ha!’ Whiskers, slapped his thigh. ‘Brilliant! A perfect feint! Call East, Strike West! Oldest trick in the book!’

  韦小宝道:“也算达里麻命不该绝,第一箭正中他的左眼,仰后便倒,第二箭、第三箭又接连射死了鞑子八名大将。鞑子身上多毛,明军叫他们毛兵毛将。沐王爷连射三箭,射死了一十八员毛将,这叫做‘沐王爷隔江大战,三箭射死毛十八!’”’It seems, however, that Delmek was not fated to die, ‘ went on Trinket. The first arrow caught him in his left eye, sending him flying to the ground on his back, and allowing the second and third arrows to strike down eight more of his Mongol commanders. So, all told, eighteen of them fell that day, and it became known as “the day Old Duke Mu waged war across the river and with three arrows brought down eighteen.”‘

  茅十八一怔,道:“什么?”韦小宝道:“沐王爷隔江射死毛十八!”说到这里,忍不住格格格笑了出来。茅十八这才明白,他果然是绕着弯儿在骂自己,’What’s that?’ grunted Whiskers, whose real name, it will be remembered, was Mao Eighteen. ‘Brought down eighteen!’ repeated Trinket. ‘Get it?’ And he collapsed in a fit of the giggles. It finally dawned on Whiskers that he was being made fun of, and that the whole story was a roundabout joke at his expense.骂道:“他妈的,胡说八道!沐王爷隔江大战,三箭射死韦小宝!”韦小宝笑道:“那时我还没生,沐王爷又怎射得死我?”茅十八道:“你休得乱说。达里麻左眼中箭,却又如何?”To blazes with you and your nonsense! More like the day he locked Trinket in a trunk and dumped him in the water!’ ‘I wasn’t even alive!’ protested Trinket.

  韦小宝道:“元兵见元帅中箭,倒下马来,登时大乱。沐王爷正要下令大军渡江,忽然听得隔江响号,元兵已有援兵开到,对岸乱箭齐发,只遮得天都黑了。’Anyway–go on with the story.’ ‘Well, panic spread among the Mongol troops when they saw their leader struck to the ground. Old Duke Mu was about to give the order for his men to cross the river when he heard a great commotion on the other bank. Mongol reinforcements had arrived. They unleashed a cloud of arrows that darkened the entire sky overhead.沐王爷又生一计,派了手下四员大将,悄悄领兵到下游渡江,绕到元兵阵后,大吹铜角。”But Old Duke Mu’s brilliant mind thought of a new plan at once. He ordered four of his commanders to take their men and make their way secretly downstream. They were to cross and attack the enemy from the rear, sounding a huge blast on a brass horn as they did so.’

  茅十八道:“这四员大将,超必便是刘白方苏四人了?”韦小宝也不知是与不是,却不愿被茅十八猜中,说道:“不对,那四员大将,乃是赵钱孙李。刘白方苏四将,随在沐王爷身边。”茅十八点头道:“原来如此。”’I suppose they were the four generals you mentioned earlier?’ ‘No,’ replied Trinket coolly. (He had no idea who they were, but he certainly wasn’t going to credit Whiskers with any knowledge.) ‘It was four others. The four , ‘ mentioned stayed with the Duke.’ ‘Oh,’ nodded Whiskers. ‘I see.’

  韦小宝道:“沐王爷传下号令,叫刘白方苏四将手下兵士,齐声呐喊,同时将小船、木排推下江中,派出一千明兵,装腔作势,假作渡江。’So, Old Duke Mu now gave orders for the troops still with him to start creating a great hullabaloo by way of a diversion. A fleet of little boats and rafts was to be got ready and launched, and one thousand men and a certain number of horses were to make as if they were preparing for a crossing.元兵眼见明兵要渡过江来,更是没命的放箭。沐王爷当即收兵,过不到半个时辰,又派兵装模装样的假渡江,元兵又再放箭。江中也不知射死了多少鱼鳖虾蟹。”The Mongols fell for this completely and let loose another great volley of arrows. Old Duke Mu gave his men instructions to hold back. Then an hour or so later he gave orders for the whole process to be repeated, with the same result. Goodness knows how many fish, turtles, prawns, and crabs the Mongol arrows speared that day!’茅十八道:“这个我又不信了。射死鱼儿,那也罢了。虾儿极细,螃蟹甲鱼身上有甲,又怎射得它死?”’Come on!’ cried Whiskers. ‘Fish maybe; but prawns? They’re much too small. And turtles and crabs are too well protected by their shells.’韦小宝道:“你若不信,那就到前面镇上买一只甲鱼,买一只螃蟹,再买一只虾儿,用绳穿了,挂将起来,再放箭射过去,且看射得死呢还是射不死。”’If you don’t believe me,’ insisted Trinket, ‘try it out. Go to the market, buy a turtle, a crab, and a prawn, string them up and shoot at them yourself. That should prove it for you.’茅十八心想:“咱们赶路要紧,哪有这等闲功夫去胡闹。”他听得入神,生怕韦小宝放刁不说,便道:“好,你说射得死便射得死,后来怎样?”Whiskers reflected that they were in too much of a hurry to mess about with side-trips to the nearest market (wherever that was). Besides he was totally absorbed in the story, and the last thing he wanted was to cause his storyteller to go on strike.韦小宝道:“后来沐王爷手下的兵士,从江中拾起十八只给射死了的、身上有毛的老甲鱼,煮来吃了,便没事了。”’Very well then, if you say so, I’ll believe you. So–what happened next?’ ‘Next,’ continued Trinket, ‘Old Duke Mu’s troops fished eighteen enormous, dead, whiskered turtles out of the river, cooked them up and ate them–‘茅十八笑骂:“小鬼头,偏爱绕着弯儿骂人。你说沐王爷怎生渡江。”’You little rascal!’ laughed Whiskers. ‘You won’t leave me alone, will you! Go on: how did the Old Duke cross the river?’

  韦小宝道:“沐王爷一见鞑子兵放箭,便吩咐擂鼓呐喊,作势渡江,如此多次,却并不真的渡江。只听得鞑子兵阵后铜角之声大作,知道赵钱孙李四将已从下游渡江,绕到鞑子兵阵后,这才下令杀将过去。’Well: he repeated this trick several times, sounding the drums, and making a great show of crossing, until the Mongol archers had fired off the last of their arrows. Then he heard what he was waiting for–a great blast on the horn coming from behind the Mongol lines. He knew that his special force had crossed and would soon be attacking from the rear. This time he gave the order for a genuine assault.众兵将竖起盾牌,挡在身前,撑动小船筏子,渡江进攻。鞑子兵放了大半天箭,这箭已差不多射完啦,听得阵后敌人杀来,主将又中箭重伤,不由得军心大乱。Holding their shields in front of them, his men rowed their little fleet across with all their might, and went into the attack. The Mongols could hear the enemy troops bearing down on them from the rear, their arrows were used up, their commander had been struck down, their morale was collapsing.沐王爷一马当先,冲将过去。鞑子兵东奔西逃,乱成一团。沐王爷眼见鞑子兵阵中有一大将横卧马上,许多勒子兵前后保护,知道必是达里麻,When Old Duke Mu rode forward at the head of his men, they simply panicked and fled in every direction. The Old Duke spotted a man slung across a horse in the midst of a group of retreating soldiers and knew it must be Delmek.当即拍马追上,喝道:‘鞑子达里麻,还不下马投降?’达里麻道:‘我……我不是达里麻!我是茅……’沐王爷见他左眼之中插着一根羽箭,箭梢上有个金字,正是一个‘沐’字,却不是自己的羽箭是什么?

  哪里还肯客气,轻伸猿臂,一把抓将过来,往地下一掷,He spurred his horse on, crying: “Off your horse, Mongol, and surrender!” The man cried back: “It’s not me you want! I’m just Whisk– ” But the Old Duke could see an arrow sticking from his left eye, and could even read his own name inscribed in gold on the shaft. He reached over, pulled it out, and threw it to the ground.喝道:‘绑起来!’早有刘白方苏四将过来,揪住达里麻,绑得结结实实。这一仗鞑子兵大败,溺死在江中的不计其数。江中的王八吃了不少长毛鞑子的尸首,从此身上有毛,这种王八叫做毛王八,那是别处没有的。””Tie the man up!” he cried to the four commanders at his side. That day saw a mighty routing of the Mongols, and countless numbers of them drowned in the waters of the river. Their hairy corpses were food for the turtles, and from consuming too much hairy Tartar meat the turtles grew hairs themselves and turned into a new breed known as the Whiskered Turtle . . .’茅十八觉得韦小宝又在骂自己了,哼了一声,却也不敢确定,或许云南江中真有毛王八亦未可知。Poor Whiskers had a shrewd idea that Trinket was making fun of him again. He humphed but lacked the confidence to query this latest detail. For all he knew, perhaps there really was a hairy breed of turtle lurking somewhere in the rivers of Yunnan . . .

  韦小宝道:“沐王爷大获全胜,当即进兵梁王的京城。来到城外,只见城中无声无息。’After this great victory,’ continued Trinket, ‘Old Duke Mu pressed on towards the Mongol Prince’s headquarters. As he approached the city, he found it deathly still.沐王爷下令擂鼓讨战,只见城头挑起一块木牌,写着‘免战’二字。”茅十八道:“原来梁王知道打不过,挂起免战牌。”He was just giving the order to sound the drums and issue the call to battle, when he saw a wooden signboard being hoisted on the city wall, the word TRUCE clearly inscribed on it.’韦小宝道:“沐王爷仁慈为怀,心想这梁王高挂免战牌,多半是要投降,我如下令攻城,城破之后,百姓死伤必多,不如免战三日,让他投降,免得杀伤百姓。”’The Mongol prince must have known he faced sure defeat,’ commented Whiskers. ‘Old Duke Mu,’ Trinket went on, ‘was a merciful man. He wanted to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. So he declared a three-day truce, to give the enemy a chance to surrender.’茅十八一拍大腿,大声道:“是啊,沐王爷一家永镇云南,与明朝同始同终,便因沐王爷爱护百姓,一片仁心,所以上天保佑。”

  韦小宝道:“当晚沐王爷坐在军营之中,挑灯夜看春秋。”’And Heaven rewarded him and his heirs!’ commented Whiskers sententiously, slapping his thigh. ‘Anyway,’ continued Trinket, impatiently, ‘that very evening the Old Duke was sitting in his tent reading the Spring and Autumn Annals by lamplight–‘茅十八道:“关王爷才看《春秋》,难道沐王爷也看《春秋》吗?”韦小宝道:“大家都是王爷,自然都看《春秋》。不看《春秋》,难道看夏冬吗?’I thought it was General Guan Yu in the Three Kingdoms who did that?’ interposed Whiskers, dimly recognizing Trinket’s source. ‘Of course he did too,’ retorted Trinket, unabashed. ‘Any general worth his salt reads the Spring and Autumn.那夏冬是张飞看的书,莽张飞有勇无谋。沐王爷是天上武曲星转世,和关王爷一般,只看《春秋》,不看夏冬。”茅十八也不知道《春秋》和夏冬是什么东西,点头称是。Only oafs read the Summer and Winter, and they always come to a sticky end.’ Whiskers nodded gravely, hopelessly outwitted by this display of bogus erudition (there being no such thing as the Summer and Winter Annals).

  韦小宝道:“沐王爷看了一会,忽然要小便,站起身来,拿起太祖皇帝御赐的金夜壶,’Anyway,’ Trinket went on, ‘as he sat there, the Old Duke felt the need to relieve his bladder. So he stood up and picked up the solid gold chamber-pot that the Great Founder had given him.正要小便,忽听得城中传来几声大吼,声音极响,既不是虎啸,亦不是马嘶。He was about to commence delivery, when he heard a great bellowing sound coming from within the walls of the city. It wasn’t exactly a tiger roaring, and it certainly wasn’t a horse whinnying.沐王爷一听,暗叫不好……”As he heard it, the Old Duke had a deep premonition about the sound …茅十八道:“那是什么叫声?”” Well?’ asked Whiskers, enthralled. ‘What was it, making the sound?’韦小宝道:“你倒猜猜看。”茅十八道:“定是又有几个鞑子,好像达里麻一般,在城中大声哄叫。”’Guess.’ ‘Probably several Mongols like that big chap Delmek blowing their lungs out. . .’韦小宝摇头道:“不是!沐王爷一听之下,登时也不小便了,将金夜壶恭恭敬敬的往桌上一放……”’No,’ said Trinket, shaking his head gravely. ‘It wasn’t that sort of sound at all. The Old Duke, when he heard it, immediately abandoned all thought of relieving himself, and returned the chamberpot carefully to the table.茅十八道:“怎地将便壶放在桌上?”韦小宝道:“这是太祖皇帝御赐的金便壶,你道是寻常便壶吗?所以沐王爷放的时候,定要恭恭敬敬。他放下便壶,立即击鼓升帐,召集众将官,取过一枝金批令箭,The table?’ Whiskers sounded puzzled. ‘Well of course: it was no common or garden chamber-pot, was it? Then he sounded the drum and gave the order to strike camp, summoning his commanders for an urgent council of war. He handed an arrow inscribed in gold to one of his generals,说道:‘刘将官听着:令你带领三千士兵,连夜去捕捉田鼠,捕多者有赏,捉不到者军法从事。’刘将官道:‘得令!’接了令箭,便去捕捉田鼠。”and ordered him to take three thousand men out into the fields and conduct a day-and-night mouse-hunt. Bonuses would be distributed for any mice over and above the quota set, while those who caught none were to be court-martialled. The General set off at once on his mission . . .’

  茅十八大奇,问道:“捕捉田鼠又干什么?”韦小宝道:“沐王爷用兵如神,军机岂可泄漏。元帅有令,照办就是。’What the devil did he want mice for?’ asked a bemused Whiskers. That was a secret part of the Old Duke’s plan, and not divulged to a soul. His generals simply obeyed his orders implicitly.接令的将军倘若多问一句,沐王爷一怒之下,立刻推出帐外斩首。你要是做沐王爷手下的将官,老是这样问长问短,便有十八颗脑袋瓜子,他妈的也都给沐王爷砍了。”Any questions and the Old Duke would have flung the offending officer angrily out of his tent and chopped off his head. If you’d been one of his officers and kept on asking stupid questions all the time, he’d have had all your bloody heads off, all eighteen of them!’茅十八道:“我倘若做了将官,自然不问。你又不是沐王爷,难道就问不得吗?”’If I’d been one of his officers I’d have kept my bloody mouth shut! But you’re not Old Duke Mu, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t ask you\’

  韦小宝摇手道:“问不得,问不得!沐王爷取过第二枝金批令箭,叫白将官听令,说道:‘命你带二万官兵,在五里之外掘下一条长坑,长二里,宽二丈,深三丈,连夜赶掘,不得有误。’白将官领命而去。’Just don’t!’ ordered Trinket with an imperious wave of his hand. ‘Don’t ask anything! And let me get on with the story! Next, Old Duke Mu handed the second arrow to General Bo (that’s the ancestor of the man you were so impressed with just now) and ordered him to take twenty thousand troops and start digging a trench two miles from the city walls. The trench was to be a mile long, twenty feet wide, and thirty feet deep. They were to dig all through the night, and nothing was to be allowed to interfere with their progress. General Bo went off at once to do as he was bidden.沐王爷随即下令退兵,拔营而去,退到离城六里扎营。”Then Old Duke Mu gave orders for the entire army to retreat, and pitch camp again two and a half miles from the city.’

  茅十八愈听愈奇,道:“那当真奇怪,我可半点也猜不到了。”’Damned peculiar!’ exclaimed Whiskers, more puzzled than ever. ‘He’s really got me stumped this time!’

  韦小宝道:“哼!沐王爷用兵之法倘若给你猜到,沐王爷变成茅十八,茅十八变成沐王爷了。’If someone like you could see through his plans, he’d really be up the creek!’ said Trinket, somewhat unkindly.第二日早晨,刘白二将回报:田鼠已捉到一万多只,长坑也已掘成。’Well, next morning the two generals both reported their missions accomplished. More than ten thousand mice had been captured, and the trench had been dug to the Old Duke’s specifications.沐王爷点头道:‘好!’命探子到城边探看动静。午牌时分,忽听得城中金鼓雷鸣,齐声呐喊,探子飞马回报:He congratulated them on their work, and sent a scout to within sight of the walls to spy out enemy movements. At noon there was a great crashing of gongs from the city, accompanied by a tumult of voices, and the scout came galloping back in a great lather to report an impending catastropnei me the table and swore roundly at the man. ‘启禀元帅:大事不好!’沐王爷一拍桌子,喝道:‘他妈的,何事惊慌?’探子说道:‘启禀元帅:鞑子大开北门,城中涌出几百只长鼻子牛妖,正向我军冲锋而来!’沐王爷哈哈大笑,”Pull yourself together for God’s sake!” he cried. “But Your Highness,” the scout panted, “the Mongol Tartars have opened the North Gate, and a great herd of long-nosed cow-demons are pouring out of it–hundreds of them!” The Old Duke let out a great peal of laughter.说道:‘什么长鼻子牛妖!再探。’探子得令而去。””What do you mean, long-nosed cow-demons! Go back and bring me some better intelligence than that!” Off went the scout once more.’

  茅十八奇道:“长鼻子牛妖是什么家伙?”韦小宝正色道:“我早料到你也是不识的了。这些家伙身子比牛还大,皮粗肉厚,鼻子老长,两根尖牙向前突出,一双大耳朵晃啊晃的,模样儿凶猛无比,可不是长鼻子牛妖吗?”’What are long-nosed cow-demons?’ asked Whiskers. ‘I didn’t think you’d have heard of them, ‘ said Trinket, poker-faced. They’re bigger than cows, they’ve got thicker skins, longer noses, two long pointed tusks, and massive floppy ears: fearsome beasts, don’t you agree?’茅十八“嗯”了一声,点点头,凝思这长鼻子牛妖的模样。Whiskers nodded his head and gave a sort of grunt in agreement, struggling to put together the picture.韦小宝道:“沐王爷自言自语:‘这探子是个胡涂蛋,少见多怪,见到骆驼说是马背肿,见到大象说是长鼻子牛妖!’”茅十八一怔,随即哈哈大笑,说道:“这探子果然胡涂,竟管大象叫作长鼻子牛妖。不过他是北方人,从来没见过大象,倒也怪不得。”’Well, the Old Duke muttered to himself what an ignorant fool the scout was; the sort to mistake a camel for a horse with a humpback, or an elephant for a cow-demon with a long nose!’ Whiskers stared at him for a moment and then let out a great guffaw. ‘Why yes! What a fool he was! Not to know an elephant when he saw one! Still, one has to make allowances for Northerners . . .’

  扬州城说书先生说到“长鼻子牛妖”这一节书时,茶馆中必定笑声大作,此刻韦小宝依样葫芦的说来,果然也引得茅十八放怀大笑。This was just the reaction the Yangzhou storytellers hoped for when they recounted this old chestnut. Trinket had spun the yarn out most effectively.韦小宝继续说道:“沐王爷摆开阵仗,远远望去,但见尘头大起,几百头大象头上都缚了尖刀,狂奔冲来,象尾上都是火光。原来云南地近缅甸,那梁王向缅甸买了几百头大象,摆下了一个火象阵,用松枝缚在大象尾上,点着了火。’So Old Duke Mu marshalled his troops. They saw a cloud of dust rise in the distance and out of the cloud came a herd of several hundred stampeding elephants, pointed sword-blades lashed to their heads, flames blazing from their tails. Yunnan is, as you know, right on the Burmese border, and what this Mongol Prince had done was to buy a few hundred elephants from the Burmese and train his own Elephant Rocket Brigade. They tied pine branches to the creatures’ tails and set them alight.大象受惊,便向明军冲来。大象皮坚肉厚,弩箭射它不倒,明军只消一乱,鞑子兵便可跟在象后,掩杀过来。The terrified beasts thundered towards the Ming army, their thick hides feeling nothing from the showers of arrows that rained down upon them. The Mongols were hot behind them, ready to pounce on their enemy once the elephants had thrown them into disarray.明军都是北方人,从未见过大象,一见之下,不由得心头发慌,暗暗叫道:“牛魔王尾巴会喷火,今日大事不好了!’”

  茅十八脸有忧色,沉吟道:“这火象阵果然厉害。”The Ming troops, being Northerners, had none of them ever set eyes on an elephant before. At the sight of them they simply panicked and started whimpering and moaning pathetically that all was lost: the King of the Cow-Demons had come to wreak havoc on them with his fiery tail.’ Whiskers looked sombre. ‘Devilish effective it must have been too!’ he muttered gravely.

  韦小宝道:“沐王爷不动声色,只是微微冷笑,待得大象冲到十丈之外,喝道:‘放田鼠!’’But Old Duke Mu was undaunted, ‘ Trinket continued. ‘He just gave a knowing smile, waited till the elephants were about a hundred feet away, and then issued the order: ‘Release the mice!’那一万多只田鼠放了出来,霎时之间,满地都是老鼠,东奔西窜。要知道大象不怕狮熊虎豹,最怕的却是老鼠。Ten thousand of the little creatures were let loose all at once, the ground was literally thick with them, a river of mice, rushing straight towards the elephants. You see, elephants are not the least bit afraid of lions or bears or tigers or panthers, but they are absolutely terrified of mice!老鼠如果钻入了大象的耳朵,吃它脑髓,大象半点奈何不得。If a mouse gets inside an elephant’s ear and starts nibbling at its brain, the great beast just goes to pieces.众大象一见老鼠,吓得魂飞天外,掉头便逃,冲入鞑子阵中,只踏得鞑子将官兵卒头破腿断。So the sight of this torrent of mice struck abject terror into the rampaging elephants, who turned about and began stampeding back towards the city, trampling the Mongol troops beneath them and leaving the ground strewn with mangled Mongol limbs and crushed Mongol heads.有些大象不辨东南西北,向明军继续冲将过来。便一一掉入陷坑之中。沐王爷叫道:‘放火箭!’他老人家这一声令下,只见天空中千朵万朵火花,好看煞人。”Some of the elephants lost their sense of direction altogether and ended up careering towards the Ming army and falling headlong into the great trench that had been dug that night. Then it was that Old Duke Mu gave the order: “Fire the rockets!” And suddenly, at his command, the sky came alive with thousands of fireworks! It was a wonderful sight!’

  茅十八问道:“怎么箭上会发火?”韦小宝道:“你道火箭是有火的箭么?错了!火箭便是烟花炮仗。明军之中,有放炮放铳用的硝磺火药,沐王爷早一晚已传下号令,命军士用火药做成烟火炮仗,射出去时,火花满天,砰砰的响成一片。Trinket stopped to explain to the incredulous Whiskers that the Ming artillery had been equipped with pyrotechnic cannon and mortars, and had been put on the alert the previous evening.那些大象更加怕了,没命价的奔跑,鞑子的阵势被大象冲了个稀巴烂,希里呼卢,一塌胡涂。This deafening display of theirs shattered whatever remnant of courage the elephants had left. Trinket then went on with the story. The Mongol army was now crushed to a bloody pulp beneath their own terrified, stampeding beasts.

  沐王爷下令擂鼓进攻,众兵将大声呐喊,跟着大象冲进城去。

  梁王带了妃子正在城头喝酒,等候明军大败的消息,却见几百头大象冲进城来。Old Duke Mu gave the order to advance, and with a great cry the Ming army followed the elephants back into the city. The Mongol Prince, Gululaluhu,’ as Trinket insisted on calling him, ‘was on the city ramparts with his favourite concubine, drinking himself silly, waiting for news of the destruction of the Ming army.梁王大叫:“咕噜阿布吐,呜里呜!咕噜阿布吐,呜里呜!’”

  茅十八奇道:“他呜野呜的,叫些什么?”Imagine his horror when he saw the very creatures he had so confidently unleashed crashing their way back into his city. “Gu-lu-wa-ba-tu\ Wu-li-vcul” he gibbered.’ What the hell does that mean?’ asked Whiskers.

  韦小宝道:“他是鞑子,叫的自然是鞑子话,他说:‘啊哟不好了,大象起义了!”’It’s Mongol, of course,’ said Trinket smugly. ‘It means: “Lord save us, the elephants have risen against us!”奔下城头,看见一口井,便跳将下去,想要自杀。不料那梁王太过肥胖,肚子极大,跳下了一半,肚子塞在井口,上不上,下不下,大叫:‘啊哟不好了!孤王半天吊!’”He rushed down from the battlements and jumped feet first into the nearest well, in a desperate attempt to kill himself. But he was so fat, he got wedged halfway down. “Lord save me!” he cried. “I’m neither up nor down!”‘

  茅十八道:“怎么他这次不叫鞑子话了?”

  韦小宝道:“他叫的还是鞑子话,反正你又不懂,我便改成了咱们的话。’How come he was suddenly speaking Chinese?’ ‘He wasn’t,’ answered Trinket, a little curdy. ‘But I knew you wouldn’t understand, so I translated it for you . . .沐王爷一马当先,冲进城来,看见一个老鞑子身穿黄袍,头戴金冠,知道必是梁王,见他一个大肚皮塞在井口,不由得哈哈大笑,抓住他头发,一把提了起来,只闻得臭气冲天,却原来梁王慌得很了,屎尿直流!”Meanwhile Old Duke Mu rode in at the head of his men, and one of the first things he saw was this funny old chap in his long yellow gown with a gold coronet on his head and his big fat belly jammed in a well. He knew it must be the Mongol Prince and burst out laughing. He grabbed him by the hair and yanked him out. The fellow stank to high heaven: he’d been so scared he’d gone and pissed himself, and then pooped in his pants.

  茅十八哈哈大笑,说道:“小宝,你说的故事当真好听。Whiskers laughed heartily. Trinket, you tell a rattling good yarn!

  原来沐王爷平云南,全仗智勇双全。倘若他不摆老鼠阵,梁王那火象阵冲将过来,明军非大败不可。”Old Duke Mu was not only a brave man, he was a crafty one too! Without his Mice Militia, he and all the Ming army would have fallen to the Elephant Rocket Brigade, and no mistake!’韦小宝道:“那还用说?沐王爷打仗用老鼠,咱们打仗用石灰,哥儿俩半斤八两。”’Of course they would,’ declared Trinket emphatically. ‘And just as he had to rely on his Mouse Militia, so I had to rely on my Volley of Lime . . . Great minds think alike, eh?’茅十八摇头道:“不对!常言道兵不厌诈,打仗用计策是可以的。诸葛亮可不是会摆空城计吗?咱们一刀一枪,行走江湖,却得光明磊落,打仗和打架全然不同。”韦小宝道:“我看也差不多。”Wo!’ cried Whiskers, shaking his head vigorously. ‘All’s fair in war, but not in man-to-man combat: in the Brotherhood of River and Lake such things are absolutely forbidden. Fight honourably, or not at all!’ ‘War and combat seem pretty much the same to me,’ said Trinket.

  两人一路上谈谈说说,倒也颇不寂寞。茅十八将江湖上的种种规矩禁忌,一件件说给韦小宝听,最后说道:“你不会武功,人家知道你不是会家子,就不会辣手对付,And so they continued their journey, whiling away the time in conversation. Whiskers did his best to communicate to Trinket one or two of the subtler points of the Brotherhood code, and also gave him the occasional piece of personal advice: ‘As a fighter, remember that you’re nothing. Let other people know that, and they won’t give you too hard a time.千万不可冒充,反而吃亏。”韦小宝道:“我‘小白龙’韦小宝只会水底功夫,伏在水底,生吃鱼虾,这陆上功夫嘛,却不怎么考究。”茅十八哈哈大笑。Whatever you do don’t pretend to be something: you’ll only end up taking a licking if you do!’ ‘I know, I’m just Trinket: Little White Dragon’s the name, swimming’s the game. Water sports. Staying under water. Eating raw fish and prawns. Ground fighting’s not my scene, man!’ Whiskers guffawed.

  当晚两人在一家农家借住。茅十八取出几两银子给那农家,将养了十来日,身上各处伤势大好,这才雇了大车上道。That night they lodged in a peasant’s cottage. Whiskers gave the man some money and they stayed there ten days or so until his wounds were healed. Then they hired a cart and continued on their way.

  注:“最好交情见面初”是“一见如故”的意思,并不是说初见面交情最好,后来就渐渐不好了。

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