The Deer And The Cauldron 20

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The Deer And The Cauldron 20
第二十回 残碑日月看仍在 前辈风流许再攀

Madame Hong and the Dragon Marshals

那丽人眼光自西而东的扫过来,脸上笑容不息,缓缓说道:“黑龙门掌门使,今日限期已至,请你将经书缴上来。”她语音又清脆,又娇媚,动听之极,伸出左手,摊开手掌。
Still smiling, the fair lady glanced across the hall. ‘Black Dragon Marshal, you are due to present the Sutra today.’ She spoke slowly, enunciating the words clearly and with an attractive intonation. She held out her left hand and opened her palm.

韦小宝远远望去,见那手掌真似白玉雕成一般,心底立时涌起一个念头:“这女人做我老婆倒也不错。她如到丽春院去做生意,扬州的嫖客全要涌到,将丽春院大门也挤破了。”
Trinket could see even from a distance that her hand was superbly smooth and white; it looked as if it had been carved from a piece of flawless white jade. ‘She’d make a lovely wife!’ he found himself thinking at once. ‘None of the whores at Vernal Delights were a patch on her! She’d have had all the old men breaking the door down!’

左首一名黑衣老者迈上两步,躬身说道:“启禀夫人:北京传来讯息,已查到了四部经书的下落,正在加紧出力,依据教主宝训的教导,就算性命不要,也要取到,奉呈教主和夫人。”他语音微微发抖,显是十分害怕。
An elderly man in black standing to the left of the two ‘thrones’ now moved a couple of steps forward. ‘I wish to report to Madame that we have received news from Peking about the whereabouts of four of the Sutras.’ His voice was trembling with fear. ‘Our people are working according to the Leader’s instructions and sparing no effort—not even their lives—to lay hands on the Sutras and present them to the Leader and Madame.’

韦小宝心道:“可惜,可惜,这个标致女人,原来竟是洪教主的老婆,一朵鲜花插在牛粪上。月光光,照毛坑!”
‘What a pity she’s married to the Leader,’ thought Trinket. ‘What a waste to have such a beautiful flower growing in such a pile of shit!’

那女人微微一笑,说道:“教主已将日子宽限了三次,黑龙使你总是推三推四,不肯出力,对教主未免太不忠心了罢?”黑龙使鞠躬更低,说道:“属下受教主和夫人的大恩,粉身碎骨,也难图报。实在这事万分棘手,属下派到宫里的六人之中,已有邓炳春、柳燕二人殉教身亡。还望教主和夫人恩准宽限。”
‘Your Leader has extended the deadline three times,’ said the lady with a sinister little smile. ‘But you always delay. You aren’t working hard enough. Don’t you think you’re being a bit disloyal to the Leader?’ ‘I owe everything to the Leader and to Madame,’ grovelled the man referred to as the Black Dragon Marshal, prostrating himself lower and lower to the ground. There have been certain obstacles. Two of the six people I sent to the Palace have given their lives: Deng Bingchun, and Liu Yan. I beg for more time.’

韦小宝心道:“那肥母猪和假宫女原来是你的下属。只怕老婊子的职位也没你大。”那女子左手抬起,向韦小宝招了招,笑道:“小弟弟,你过来。”韦小宝吓了一跳,低声道:“我?”那女子笑道:“对啦,是叫你。”韦小宝向身旁陆先生、胖头陀二人各望一眼。
So, mused Trinket, the Fat Sow (Liu Yan) and the cross-dressing maid (Deng Bingchun) were acting on orders from this Black Dragon Marshal. It seemed that the Marshal was even higher up in the Mystic Hierarchy than the fake Empress Dowager. The lady waved her left hand to Trinket. ‘Come here, little man,’ she said, with that irresistible smile of hers. At first Trinket was too shocked to respond. ‘Me?’ he finally mumbled. ‘Yes, you.’ Trinket glanced quickly at Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta who were still standing next to him.

陆先生道:“夫人传呼,上前恭敬行礼。”韦小宝心道:“我偏不恭敬,又待怎地?”可是走上前去,还是恭恭敬敬的躬身行礼,说道:“教主和夫人永享仙福,寿与天齐。”洪夫人笑道:“这小孩倒乖巧。谁教你在教主之下,加上了‘和夫人’三个字?”
‘Madame is summoning you,’ said the doctor. ‘Go on, salute her respectfully.’ ‘And what if I decide to fart in her face?’ Trinket thought to himself. But he did as he was told. ‘Long Life to Our Leader and to His Wife!’ he said, bowing deeply. ‘Blessings be on You Both!’ ‘You’re a clever little man, I must say!’ said Madame Hong, visibly amused. ‘And who told you to add “and to His Wife”?’

韦小宝不知神龙教中教众向来只说“教主永享仙福,寿与天齐”,一入教后,便将这些话念得熟极而流,谁也不敢增多一字,减少半句。韦小宝眼见这位夫人容貌既美,又是极有权势,反正拍马屁不用本钱,随口便加上了‘和夫人”三字,听她相询,便道:“教主有夫人相伴,寿与天齐才有趣味,否则过得一两百年,夫人归天,教主岂不寂寞得紧?”洪夫人一听,笑得犹似花枝乱颤,洪教主也不禁莞尔,手捻长须,点头微笑。神龙教中上下人等,一见教主,无不心惊胆战,谁敢如此信口胡言?先前听得韦小宝如此说,都代他捏一把汗,待见教主和夫人神色甚和,才放了心。洪夫人笑道:“那么这三个字,是你自己想出来加上去的了?”
Actually Trinket had emended the immutable Mystic Mantra without thinking too much about it. After all, it didn’t cost him anything to be a little obsequious. And this beautiful lady clearly had a lot of authority. The Leader’s Long Life wouldn’t be much fun without His Wife to keep him company,’ he replied. ‘How lonely he would be if His Wife rose to heaven a hundred or two years before he did!’ Madame Hong shook with laughter on hearing this, and even the Leader could not help laughing, rocking his head from side to side and twiddling his long beard. Members of the Mystic Dragon Sect, whatever their rank, stood in absolute terror of the Leader, and never under any circumstances ventured to talk frivolously in his presence. They were astonished, and hugely relieved, to see Trinket emerge unscathed. ‘So it was your own idea to add the few extra words?’ asked the smiling lady.

韦小宝道:“正是,那是非加不可的。那石碑弯弯曲曲的字中,也提到夫人的。”此言一出,陆先生全身登如堕入冰窖,自己花了无数心血,才将一篇碑文教了他背熟,忽然间他别出心裁,加上夫人的名字,那如何还凑得齐字数?这顽童信口开河,势不免将碑文乱说一通,自己所作文字本已破绽甚多,这一来还不当场败露?洪夫人听了也是一怔,道:“你说石碑上也刻了我的名字?”
‘Yes. I had to, because your name was on the Tadpole inscription too.’ Doctor Lu’s heart sank. ‘After all the trouble I went to, to teach him the inscription!’ he thought. ‘Now that he has added her name, our inscription will not have the same number of words as the original. They will soon discover our secret!’ Madame Hong was equally surprised at Trinket’s words. ‘You mean, my name was on the stone tablet?’

韦小宝道:“是啊!”他随口说了“是啊”二字,这才暗叫:“糟糕!她若要我背那碑文,其中却没说到夫人。”好在洪夫人并不细问,说道:“你姓韦,从北京来的,是不是?”韦小宝又道:“是啊。”洪夫人道:“听胖头陀说,你在北京见过一个名叫柳燕的胖姑娘,她还教过你武功?”韦小宝心想:“我跟胖头陀说的话,除了那部经书之外,他都禀告了教主和夫人,眼下只好死挺到底,反正胖柳燕已经死了,这叫做死无对证。”便道:“正是,这个柳阿姨是我叔叔的好朋友,白天夜里,时时到我家里来的。”洪夫人笑吟吟的问道:“她来干什么?”
‘Yes.’ No sooner had Trinket said this than he realized what a spot he’d be in if she asked him to recite the inscription. But luckily for him, she did not. ‘Your surname is Wei, isn’t it? And you come from Peking?’ ‘Yes,’ Trinket replied. ‘Comrade Dhuta told me that you once met a fat lady called Liu Yan in Peking, and that she taught you some kungfu skills. Is that right?’ Figuring that Fat Dhuta must have reported everything he had said to the Leader and Madame Hong, except for the whereabouts of one of the Sutras (the one supposed to be in the Shaolin Monastery), Trinket resolved to keep on lying. After all, the Fat Sow was dead, and could not contradict him. ‘Yes,’ he answered. ‘Auntie Liu was a good friend of my uncle’s; she often used to drop by.’ ‘What for?’ Madame asked with a sly little smile.

韦小宝道:“跟我叔叔说笑话啊。有时他们还搂住了亲嘴,以为我看不到,我可偷偷都瞧见了。”他知道越说得活灵活现,诸般细微曲折的地方都说到了,旁人越是相信。洪夫人笑道:“你这孩子滑头得紧。人家亲嘴,你也偷看。”转头向黑龙使道:“你听见吗?小孩子总不会说谎罢?”
‘She used to like chatting and joking with my uncle. Sometimes they even used to cuddle and kiss a bit. They didn’t know I was watching,’ said Trinket, thinking that details like this might make his story more plausible. ‘You naughty boy! Spying on other people like that!’ Madame Hong was still smiling. Then she turned to the Black Dragon Marshal, and her tone of voice altered. ‘Did you hear what he said? I don’t think the boy is lying.’

韦小宝顺着她眼光瞧去,见黑龙使脸色大变,恐惧已达极点,身子发颤,双膝一曲,跪倒在地,连连磕头,道:“属下……属下督导无方,罪该万死,求教主和夫人网……网开一面,准属下将功赎罪。”韦小宝大奇,心想:“我说那肥猪姑娘和我叔叔亲嘴,跟这老头儿又有什么相干?为什么要吓成这个样子?”
Trinket saw the Black Dragon Marshal’s countenance change. Shaking with abject terror, he threw himself on his knees and knocked his head again and again on the ground. ‘I… I have been negligent,’ he said, ‘and for that I deserve the harshest punishment. But I beg you to have . . . mercy on me so that I can atone for my fault with good service,’ Trinket was puzzled. What had his story about the Fat Sow messing about with his ‘uncle’ got to do with this old man? Why was he so terrified?

洪夫人微笑道:“将功赎罪?你有什么功劳?我还道你派去的人,当真忠心耿耿的在为教主办事。哪知道在北京,却在干这些风流勾当。”黑龙使又连连磕头,额头上鲜血涔涔而下。韦小宝心下不忍,想说几句对他有利的言语,一时却想不出来。
‘Atone with good service? What good service have you ever performed?’ The smile was still there, but fainter. ‘I thought that the people you sent to Peking on this mission were doing their duty properly, working loyally for their Leader. But it seems they were just indulging in debauchery,’ The Black Dragon Marshal kept knocking his head on the ground, and blood was pouring from his forehead. Trinket felt sorry for him and wanted to put in a good word for him, but could think of nothing to say.

黑龙使膝行而前,叫道:“教主,我跟着你老人家出生入死,虽无功劳,也有苦劳。”洪夫人冷笑道:“你提从前的事干什么?你年纪这样大了,还能给教主办多少年事?黑龙使这职位,早些不干,岂不快活?”黑龙使抬起头来,望着洪教主,哀声道:“教主,你对老部下,老兄弟,真没半点旧情吗?”
The Black Dragon Marshal hobbled forward on his knees. ‘Leader, I braved so many dangers with you!’ he cried. ‘What’s the use of talking about the past?’ sneered Madame Hong. ‘You’re getting old. It’s high time you stepped aside.’ The Black Dragon Marshal raised his head and turned to Leader Hong. ‘Leader, have you no feeling left for an old Comrade?’

洪教主脸上神色木然,淡淡的道:“咱们教里,老朽胡涂之人太多,也该好好整顿一下才是。”他声音低沉,说来模糊不清。韦小宝自见他以来,首次听到他说话。突然间数百名少男少女齐声高呼:“教主宝训,时刻在心,建功克敌,无事不成。”
‘There are too many useless old men in our Sect,’ replied the Leader. His voice was expressionless, and there was not the least trace of emotion on his face. ‘It’s time for some reorganization.’ This was the first time that Trinket had heard his voice. It was deep and muffled. Suddenly a loud chorus rang out from the massed acolytes: ‘Obey His Teachings! Follow Him to Victory!’

黑龙使叹了口气,颤巍巍的站起身来,说道:“吐故纳新,我们老人,原该死了。”转过身来,说道:“拿来罢!”厅口四名黑衣少年快步上前,手中各托一只木盘,盘上有黄铜圆罩罩住,走到黑龙使之前,将木盘放在地下,迅速转身退回。厅上众人不约而同的退了几步。
The Black Dragon Marshal heaved a desperate sigh, and staggered to his feet. ‘Out with the Old! In with the New!’ he said. ‘It seems it is time for us old people to step aside. Time for us to die.’ He turned around. ‘Bring it to me.’ Four acolytes in black standing in the doorway hurried into the hall, each bearing a wooden plate with a brass cover. They placed the plates on the ground in front of the Black Dragon Marshal and retreated quickly. Everyone else in the hall took a few paces back.

黑龙使喃喃的道:“教主宝训,时刻在心,建功克敌,无事不成,……嘿嘿,有一事不成,便是属下并不忠心耿耿。”伸手握住铜盖顶上的结子,向上一提。盘中一物突然窜起,跟着白光一闪,斜刺里一柄飞刀激飞而至,将那物斩为两截,掉在盘中,蠕蠕而动,却是一条五彩斑斓的小蛇。韦小宝一声惊呼。厅中众人也叫都了起来:“哪一个?”“什么人犯上作乱?”“拿下了!”“哪一个叛徒,胆敢忤逆教主?”
‘Obey His Teachings! F’ollow Him to Victory!’ mumbled the Black Dragon Marshal. Then suddenly: ‘Ha ha. . . . Not this time I won’t!’ He stretched out his hand and, taking one of the brass covers by its knob, lifted it up. Something wriggled out from under the cover. It was a bright banded little snake. There was a sudden flash of light, and the blade of a knife struck from the side, slicing the snake clean in half. It fell twitching back onto the plate. Trinket cried out in surprise, as did the whole assembly. ‘Who did that?’ ‘Who’s the rebel?’ ‘Get him!’ ‘Treason! Who dares defy the Leader?’

洪夫人突然站起,双手环抱,随即连摆三下。只听得刷刷刷刷,长剑出鞘之声大作,数百名少男少女奔上厅来,将五六十名年长教众团团围住。这数百名少年青衣归青衣,白衣归白衣,毫不混杂,各人占着方位,或六七人,或八九人分别对付一人,长剑分指要害,那数十名年老的顷刻之间便被制住。胖头陀和陆先生身周,也各有七八人以长剑相对。一名五十来岁的黑须道人哈哈大笑,说道:“夫人,你操练这阵法,花了好几个月功夫罢?要对付老兄弟,其实用不着这么费劲。”站在他身周的是八名红衣少女,两名少女长剑前挺,剑尖挺住他心口,喝道:“不得对教主和夫人无礼。”
Madame Hong suddenly stood up with her arms folded, and swayed her body three times from side to side. This was clearly a prearranged sign. It was immediately followed by the clanking sound of swords being drawn from their scabbards. A massed phalanx of acolytes came rushing up to the front of the hall, and, dividing themselves neatly into small groups, according to the colour they were wearing, proceeded to surround each of the fifty or sixty Marshals, including Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu. ‘You must have spent months rehearsing this, Madame,’ said a black-bearded Taoist in his fifties, laughing. ‘It seems a rather heavy-handed way of dealing with old folks like us.’ ‘Don’t be insolent to the Leader and Madame,’ shouted two of the eight young girls in red who had surrounded him, their swords pointed at his chest.

那道人笑道:“夫人,那条五彩神龙,是我无根道人杀的。你要处罚,尽管动手,何必连累旁人?”洪夫人坐回椅中,微笑道:“你自己认了,再好也没有。道长,教主待你不薄吧?委你为赤龙门掌门使,那是教主一人之下,万人之上的高职,你为什么要反?”无根道人说道:“属下没有反。黑龙使张淡月有大功于本教,只因属下有人办事不利,夫人便要取他性命,属下大胆向教主和夫人求个情。”洪夫人笑道:“倘若我不答应呢?”
‘Madame,’ continued the Taoist. ‘It was I who did it. I, Rootless the Taoist, killed the snake. Punish me. There is no need to put the blame on anyone else.’ ‘So you confess. Very good.’ Madame Hong smiled as she returned to her chair. ‘But why? The Leader has been so good to you; he appointed you Red Dragon Marshal, above all other Comrades except for himself. Why would you want to turn against him?’ ‘I have no desire to turn against him. I just wish to beg mercy for the Black Dragon Marshal. He has done so much for our Sect over the years. It seems wrong to kill him just because some of his subordinates have failed to perform their duties.’ ‘What if I decline your request?’ Still the smile.

无根道人道:“神龙教虽是教主手创,可是数万兄弟赴汤蹈火,人人都有功劳。当年起事,共有一千零二十三名老兄弟,到今日有的命丧敌手,有的被教主诛戮,剩下来的已不到一百人。属下求教主开恩,饶了我们几十个老兄弟的性命,将我们尽数开革出教。教主和夫人见着我们老头儿讨厌,要起用新人,便叫我们老头儿一起滚蛋罢。”
‘It is true that the Leader founded the Mystic Dragon Sect,’ replied Rootless the Taoist. ‘But thousands of other Comrades also braved dangers and played their part. Altogether one thousand and twenty-three of us elders took part in the armed struggle then, and now less than a hundred remain. Some died at the hands of our enemies. Others were eliminated by the Leader. I beg the Leader to be merciful to us and not to demand our lives. If he has had enough of us, and wants to replace us, he can just dismiss us.’

洪夫人冷笑道:“神龙教创教以来,从没听说有人活着出教的。无根道长这么说,真是异想天开之至。”无根道人道:“这么说,夫人是不答应了?”洪夫人道:“对不起,本教没这个规矩。”无根道人哈哈一笑,道:“原来教主和夫人非将我们尽数诛戮不可。”
‘Since it was founded, no one has been allowed to leave the Sect alive,’ said Madame Hong grimly. ‘You must be out of your mind.’ ‘So you reject my request?’ ‘I regret that our rules do not allow this to happen.’ ‘I see.’ Rootless the Taoist laughed. ‘So you are going to put us all to death.’

洪夫人微笑道:“那也不然。老人忠于教主,教主自然仍旧当他好兄弟,决无歧视。我们不问年少年长,只问他对教主是否忠心耿耿,哪一个忠于教主的,举起手来。”
She smiled. ‘Not necessarily. The Leader will always be good to any loyal Comrade. Total loyalty to the Leader is the only thing that matters.’ She turned to the others with a smile and continued: ‘Raise your hands if you are loyal to the Leader.’

数百名少年男女一齐举起左手,被围的年长众教也都举手,连无根道人也都高举左手,大家同声道:“忠于教主,决无二心!”韦小宝见大家举手,也举起了手。洪夫人点头道:“那好得很啊,原来人人忠于教主,连这个新来的小弟弟,虽非本教中人,居然也忠于教主。”韦小宝心道:“我忠于乌龟王八蛋。”洪夫人道:“大家都忠心,那么我们这里一个反贼也没有了。恐怕有点不对头吧?得好好查问查问。众位老兄弟只好暂且委屈一下,都绑了起来。”数百少年男女齐声应道:“是!”
The acolytes in the hall all raised their left hands at the same time, and so did all the elders, including Rootless the Taoist. Trinket raised his hand too. ‘We vow unshakeable loyalty to the Leader,’ they cried in one voice. ‘Very good,’ said Madame Hong, nodding her head. ‘So everyone in this room is loyal to the Leader, including apparently this boy who doesn’t even belong to our Sect.’ (‘Yes, I took the oath—to be loyal to an ugly old turtle!’ Trinket muttered silently to himself.) ‘So that means there isn’t a single traitor here. It’s curious, isn’t it? There must be something wrong somewhere. I think I’d better look into this carefully. I’ll need to ask a few questions. Sorry to have to put the older Comrades to such inconvenience.’ She turned to the acolytes: ‘Tie them up!’

一名魁梧大汉叫道:“且慢!”洪夫人道:“白龙使,你又有什么高见?”那大汉道:“高见是没有,属下觉得不公平。”洪夫人道:“啧啧啧,你指摘我处事不公平。”那大汉道:“属下不敢,属下跟随教主二十年,凡事勇往直前。我为本教拚命之时,这些小娃娃都还没生在世上。为什么他们才对教主忠心,反说我们老兄弟不忠心?”洪夫人笑吟吟的道:“白龙使这么说,那是在自己表功了。你居不是说,倘若没有你白龙使钟志灵,神龙教就无今日?”那魁梧大汉钟志灵道:“神龙教建教,是教主一人之功,大伙儿不过跟着他老人家打天下,有什么功劳可言,不过……”洪夫人道:“不过怎样啊?”钟志灵道:“不过我们没有功劳,这些十几岁的小娃娃更加没有功劳。”洪夫人道:“我不过二十几岁,那也没有功劳了?”
‘Wait a moment!’ cried a big burly man. ‘What do you propose, White Dragon Marshal?’ Madame asked. ‘Nothing. I just feel it’s unjust.’ ‘Are you accusing me of being unjust?’ she asked, clicking her tongue. ‘No, I would never dare do that. I have followed the Leader for twenty years and have fought bravely by his side. These boys and girls weren’t even born when I risked my life for the Sect. Why do you consider them loyal to the Leader but not us?’ ‘So you are indispensable to the Sect, are you, White Dragon Marshal?’ ‘The Mystic Dragon Sect was founded by the Leader. We’re only his followers, but—’ ‘But what?’ ‘If we deserve no credit, then these young people deserve even less.’ ‘And that includes me?’

钟志灵迟疑半晌,道:“不错,夫人也没有功劳。创教建业,是教主他老人家一人之功。”洪夫人缓缓的道:“既然大家没有功劳,杀了你也不算冤枉,是不是?”说到这里,眼中闪烁过一阵杀气,脸上神色仍是娇媚万状。钟志灵怒叫:“杀我姓钟的一人,自然不打紧。就只怕如此杀害忠良,诛戮功臣,神龙教的基业,要毁于夫人一人之手。”洪夫人道:“很好,很好,唉,我倦得很。”这几个字说得懒洋洋地,哪知道竟是下令杀人的暗号。站在钟志灵身周的七名白衣少年一听,长剑同时挺出,一齐刺入钟志灵身子。七剑拔出,他身上射出七股血箭,溅得七名白衣少年衣衫全是鲜血。钟志灵叫道:“教主,你……好忍心!好……”倒地而死。
‘In a way,’ he answered hesitantly. ‘If none of us can claim any credit, then you can’t blame me for killing you, can you?’ she said slowly. There was a murderous look in her eyes, though her smile was as sweet and charming as ever. ‘My life is unimportant, of course,’ cried the White Dragon Marshal angrily. ‘But if you execute others who are loyal or who have rendered meritorious service, you will be destroying the very foundation and future of the Sect.’ ‘I see. Oh dear, I’m feeling so tired . . .’ Her languid yawn was, in fact, a secret sign to commence the execution. On hearing it, the seven boys dressed in white surrounding the White Dragon Marshal thrust their swords into his body in one concerted movement. As they withdrew the swords, blood spurted from the seven wounds, and splashed all over their white clothes. ‘My Leader,’ cried the White Dragon Marshal in pain, ‘you . . . you . . . you have a heart of stone.’ So saying, he fell dead to the ground.

七名少年退到廊下,行动极是整齐。教中老兄弟都知白龙使钟志灵武功甚高,但七剑齐至,竟无丝毫抗御之力,足见这七名少年为了今日在厅中刺这一剑,事先曾得教主指点,又已不知练了多少遍,实已到了熟极而流的地步,无不心下栗栗。
The seven boys marched smardy out of the hall. The other elders all trembled with fear. The White Dragon Marshal was a veteran kungfu expert, and yet even he was powerless against the swords of these boys. Clearly they had received secret training from the Leader and had practised the manoeuvre many times.

洪夫人打了个呵欠,左手轻轻按住了樱桃小口,显得娇慵之极。洪教主仍是神色木然,对于钟志灵的被杀,宛如没有瞧见。洪夫人轻轻的道:“青龙使、黄龙使,你们两位,觉得白龙使谋叛造反,是不是罪有应得?”一个细眼尖脸的老者躬身说道:“钟志灵反叛教主和夫人,处心积虑,由来已久,属下十分痛恨,曾向夫人告发了好几次。夫人总是说,瞧在老兄弟面上,让他有个悔改的机会。教主和夫人宽宏大量,只盼他改过自新,哪知道这人恶毒无比,实是罪不可赦。如此轻易将他处死,那是万分便宜了他。教中兄弟,无不感激教主和夫人的恩德。”韦小宝心道:“这是个马屁大王。”
Madame Hong put her left hand lightly to her pretty little lips and yawned again. Even when yawning she managed to look seductive. The Leader showed not the slightest sign of emotion; it was as if nodiing had happened. ‘Blue Dragon Marshal, Yellow Dragon Marshal,’ said Madame Hong sofdy. ‘Do you think White Dragon Marshal deserved his punishment?’ ‘He had been planning this rebellion for a long time,’ said an old man with small eyes and a pointed chin. ‘I reported it to you several times, Madame. But you insisted on giving him another chance, because he was an old Comrade. You were too forgiving! White Dragon was evil! It was kind of you to let him die such a quick death.’ ‘What an arse-licker!’ thought Trinket. Mutiny on Snake Island

洪夫人微微一笑,说道:“黄龙使倒还识得大体。青龙使,你以为怎样?”一个五十来岁的高瘦汉子向身旁八名青衣少年怒目而视,斥道:“滚开。教主要杀我,我不会自己动手吗?”八名少年长剑向前微挺,剑尖碰到了他衣服,那汉子嘿嘿几声冷笑,慢慢提起双手,抓住了自己胸前衣衫,说道:“教主、夫人,当年属下和赤、白、黑、黄四门掌门使义结兄弟,决心为神龙教卖命,没想到竟有今日。夫人要杀许某,并不希奇,奇在黄龙使殷大哥贪生怕死,竟说这等卑鄙龌龊的言语,来诬蔑自己好兄弟……”
‘What about you, Blue Dragon?’ said Madame Hong with a smile. ‘What do you think?’ ‘Stand back!’ cried a tall, thin man in his fifties, glaring at the acolytes in blue who were standing around him. ‘If the Leader wants me killed, I can do it myself.’ The eight boys reached out their swords until the tips of the blades were touching the edge of his gown. ‘Ha ha ha!’ the man laughed contemptuously, and raising his hands slowly, he took hold of the front of his gown. ‘Leader Hong, Madame Hong, when I swore with the other Dragon Marshals to , devote myself to the Sect, I never dreamed that things would come to this. Yellow Dragon is a vile coward . . .’

猛听得嗤的一声急响,那汉子双手向外疾分,已将身上长袍扯为两半,手臂一振之间,两片长袍横卷而出,已将八名青衣少年的长剑荡开,青光闪动,手掌中已多了两柄尺半长的短剑。嗤嗤之声连响,八名青衣少年胸口中剑,尽数倒地,伤口中鲜血直喷。八人尸身倒在他身旁,围成一圈,竟排得十分整齐。这几下手法之快,直如迅雷不及掩耳。洪夫人一惊,双手连拍。二十余名青衣少年挺剑拦在青龙使身前,又团团将他围住。
With a rapid movement of his hands and the sound of tearing cloth, Blue Dragon ripped his long gown in two, and flailing his arms outwards he wound the long strips of cloth around the boys’ swords and sent them clanging across the room. Next came a flash of light, and he produced two twenty-inch short-swords of his own, one in each hand. He moved into the attack like a deadly whirlwind. There was a nasty sound of tearing flesh as he drove his twin swords into the boys’ chests one after the other. They fell to the ground in a neat circle around him, blood spurting from their wounds. Gasping with horror, Madame Hong clapped her hands several times, and in answer to this summons, more than twenty more boys came forward and surrounded the Blue Dragon Marshal again, each pointing a sword at him.

青龙使哈哈大笑,朗声说道:“夫人,你教出来的这些娃娃,脓包之极。教主要靠这些小家伙来建功克敌,未免有些不大顺手罢?”七少年刺杀钟志灵,洪教主犹如视而不见,青龙使刺杀八少年,他似乎无动于衷,稳稳坐在椅中,始终浑不理会。洪夫人看了丈夫一眼,似乎有些惭愧,嫣然一笑,坐下身来,笑道:“青龙使,你剑法高明得很哪,今日……”忽听得呛啷啷呛啷啷之声大作,大厅中数百名少年男女手中长剑纷纷落地,众人大奇之下,眼见众少年一个个委顿在地,各人随即只觉头昏眼花,立足不定。功力稍差的先行摔倒,跟着余人也摇摇晃晃,倒了下来,顷刻之间,大厅中横七竖八的倒了一地。
‘Ha ha ha!’ laughed Blue Dragon again. ‘Madame, these little brats of yours are no damned good! Our Leader will need something a bit better than them if he wants to achieve Victory . . .’ The Leader seemed as unconcerned about the killing of the eight boys as he had been about the killing of White Dragon. He sat in his chair motionless and unmoved. Madame Hong glanced at her husband, almost with a feeling of remorse. Then she gave a pretty smile and sat down. ‘Blue Dragon Marshal,’ she said, ‘you’re certainly a master with the sword Suddenly there was a resounding series of clangs as swords fell from the hands of the acolytes in the hall and crashed to the ground. One by one the young fanatics fell dizzy and exhausted to the floor. In a matter of seconds, the hall was strewn with prostrate bodies.

洪夫人惊呼:“为……为什么……”身子一软,从竹椅中滑了下来。青龙使却昂然挺立,狞笑道:“教主,你残杀兄弟,想不到也有今日罢?”两柄短剑一击,铮然作声,踏着地下众人身子,向洪教主走去。洪教主哼了一声,道:“那也未必!”伸手抓住竹椅的靠手,喀喇一声,拗断了靠手。青龙使登时变色,退后两步,说道:“教主,偌大一个神龙教,弄得支离破碎,到底是谁种下的祸胎,你老人家现在总该明白了罢?”
‘What. . . what’s going on?’ cried Madame Hong fearfully. She herself felt weak, and slipped from her bamboo chair. ‘Leader,’ said the Blue Dragon Marshal, standing erect and proud, with a hideous grin on his face. ‘When you had so many of us put to death, did you never think you would see this day?’ He clanked one of his swords against the other, and, stepping over the bodies, walked towards the Leader. ‘Not exactly,’ the Leader said contemptuously. He clutched one of the arms of his chair and snapped off a piece of it. The Blue Dragon Marshal took two steps backwards, changing countenance in an instant. ‘Leader,’ he said, ‘our great Sect is being broken up and divided against itself. I suppose you now realize who is the source of all the trouble, don’t you?’

洪教主“嗯”的一声,突然从椅上滑下,坐倒在地。青龙使大喜,抢上前去,蓦地里呼的一声,一物挟着一股猛烈之极的劲风,当胸飞来。青龙使右手短剑用力斩出,那物断为两截,原来便是洪教主从竹椅上抛下的靠手。他这一掷之劲非同小可,一段竹棍被斩断,上半截余势不衰,扑的一声,插入青龙使胸口,撞断了五六条肋骨,直没至肺。青龙使一声大叫,戛然而止,肺中气息接不上来,登时哑了。身子晃了两下,手中两柄短剑落地,分别插入了两名少年身上。这两名少年四肢麻软,难以动弹,神智却仍清醒,口中也能说话,短剑插身,痛得大叫起来。数百名少年男女见教主大展神威,击倒了青龙使,齐声欢呼。只见洪教主右手撑地,挣扎着要站起身,但右腿还没站直,双膝一软,倒地滚了几滚,摔得狼狈不堪。这一来,人人知道教主和自己一样,也已中毒,筋软肉痹。教主平素极其庄严,在教众面前连话也不多说一句,笑也不多笑一声,此刻竟摔得如此丢人,自是全身力道尽失。
The Leader cleared his throat. Suddenly he slipped from his chair to the floor. Just as the Blue Dragon Marshal hastened forwards in delight, something came whistling towards him at high speed. It was the broken arm of the Leader’s bamboo chair, thrown with such phenomenal strength that, although the Blue Dragon Marshal managed to catch it on the blade of his sword and slice it in two, one half of it impaled itself in his chest, breaking five or six of his ribs and piercing through to his lung. He cried out in pain, and panted hoarsely for breath. He staggered, and his swords dropped from his hands, straight into the prostrate bodies of the two boys lying beneath him. A chorus of cheers rose from the hall to see the Leader getting the better of Blue Dragon. The Leader now tried struggling to his feet, propping himself up with one hand; but no sooner was one leg straight than he felt weak in the knees and tumbled clumsily over onto the ground again. Then the others began to realize that they had all, including the Leader, been given a poison which had incapacitated them.

大厅上数百人尽数倒地,却只一人站直了身子。此人本来身材甚矮,可是在数百名卧地不起的人中,不免显得鹤立鸡群。此人正是韦小宝。他鼻中闻到一阵阵淡淡的幽香,只感心旷神怡,全身暖洋洋地,快美难以言宣,眼见一个个人都倒在地下,何以会有此变故,心中全然不解。他呆了一会,伸手去拉胖头陀,问道:“胖尊者,大家干什么?”胖头陀奇道:“你……你没中毒?”韦小宝奇道:“中毒?我……我不知道。”他用力扶起胖头陀,可是胖头陀腿上没半点力气,又即坐倒。陆先生突然问道:“许大哥,你……你使得是什么毒?”
The only person left standing in the hall was Trinket. He was only short, but he towered above the body-strewn hall like a giant. He had no idea what everyone was doing lying on the ground. When he had recovered from his surprise, he tugged at Fat Dhuta’s gown. ‘Didn’t the poison have any effect on you?’ asked Fat Dhuta incredulously. ‘Poison? I… I don’t know,’ said Trinket, puzzled. He tried hard to help Fat Dhuta up onto his feet, but Fat Dhuta was too weak and had to sit down again. ‘Comrade Xu,’ said Doctor Lu abruptly, addressing Blue Dragon, ‘what. . . what kind of poison did you use?’

那青龙使身子摇摇晃晃,犹似喝醉了一般,一手扶住柱子,不住咳嗽,说道:“可惜,可……可惜功败垂成,我……我是不中用了。”陆先生道:“是‘七虫软筋散’?是‘千里销魂香’?是……是“化……化血……腐骨粉’?”连说了三种剧毒药物的名称,说到“化血腐骨粉”时,声音颤抖,显得害怕已极。青龙使右肺受伤,咳嗽甚剧,答不出话。陆先生道:“韦公子却怎地没有中毒?啊,是了!”他突然省悟,这“是了”二字,叫得极响,说道:“你短剑上搽了‘百花腹蛇膏’,妙计,妙计。韦公子,请你闻一闻青龙使那两柄短剑,是不是剑上有一阵花香?”
The Blue Dragon Marshal seemed drunk. He was swaying from side to side, holding onto a pillar for support, and coughing persistently. Too bad,’ he said between coughs. Too . . . too bad! I was so nearly there! And I failed. I’m . . . I’m really useless.’ ‘Was it Seven Worm Disabling Potion?’ Doctor Lu asked again. ‘Or Thousand Mile Devitalizing Scent? Or… was it Blood . . . Blood and Bone . . . Combustion Powder?’ He had mentioned three potent types of poison, and when he came to the last one, his voice trembled in grave fear. The Blue Dragon Marshal was coughing badly and unable to reply. ‘Why is that Mr Wei hasn’t been affected?’ Doctor Lu seemed quite bewildered. ‘Ah!’ He suddenly cried, as if he had at last understood the truth. ‘You put some Floral Serpent Bane on the tips of your swords. What a superb stratagem! Mr Wei, would you be so good as to go and smell the Blue Dragon Marshal’s two swords, and see if you can detect the scent of flowers?’

韦小宝心想:“剑上有毒,我才不去闻呢。”说道:“就在这里也香得紧呢。”陆先生脸现喜色,道:“是了,这‘百花腹蛇膏’遇到鲜血,便生浓香,本是炼制香料的一门秘法,常人闻了,只有精神舒畅,可是……可是我们住在这灵蛇岛上,人人都服惯了‘雄黄药酒’,以避毒蛇,这股香气一碰到‘雄黄药酒’,那便使人筋骨酥软,一十二个时辰不解。许大哥,真是妙计。这‘百花腹蛇膏’在岛上本是禁物,原来你暗中早已有备,你定有三四个月没喝雄黄药酒了。”青龙使坐倒在地,正好坐在两名少年身上,摇头说道:“人算不如天算,到头来还是中了洪安通的毒手。”
Trinket was damned if he was going to start sniffing poisoned swords. ‘I can smell it from here,’ he told Doctor Lu. Trinket had already detected a faint but intoxicating fragrance in the air. ‘Ah, there we have it then!’ said Doctor Lu, beaming happily. ‘Floral Serpent Bane is a secretly distilled perfume, which produces a pungent smell when it comes into contact with blood. This normally has a pleasant, relaxing effect. But., . on the island we regularly take Realgar Elixir to protect us against snakes, and when the Bane reacts with the Elixir, it will make us feel weak for twelve hours or so. Superb, Comrade Xu! You had it all planned. And you yourself must have stopped taking the Elixir several months ago.’ Blue Dragon was sitting on the dead bodies of the two boys. ‘But in the end Hong Antong’s evil hands got the better of me!’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Man proposes, but fate disposes!’

几名少年喝道:“大胆狂徒,你胆敢呼唤教主的圣名。”青龙使慢慢站起,拾起一柄长剑,一步步向洪教主走去,道:“洪安通的名字叫不得?咳咳……我杀了这恶贼之后……咳咳……这叫不叫得?”数百名少年男女都惊呼起来。过了一会,只听得黄龙使苍老的声音道:“许兄弟,你去杀了洪安通,大伙儿奉你为神龙教教主。大家快念:咱们奉许教主号令,忠心不贰。”
‘How dare you call the Leader by his holy name!’ cried one of the boys. ‘Madman! Heretic!’ Blue Dragon rose slowly to his feet, picked up a sword from the floor, and staggered towards the Leader. ‘So they won’t let me call you by your name?’ He was overtaken by another coughing fit. ‘Let’s see, shall we. . . . When you’re dead, perhaps then they will!’ The boys cried out in alarm. Then came the deep, hoarse voice of the Yellow Dragon Marshal. ‘Kill Hong Antong, Comrade Xu, and all of us will revere you as the new Leader of the Mystic Dragon Sect. Say after me, everyone: We swear to obey Leader Xu’s Command, to follow Him with Unswerving Loyalty.’

大厅上沉默片刻,便有数十人念了起来:“咱们奉许教主号令,忠心不贰。”有些声音坚决,有些显得迟疑,颇为参差不齐。青龙使走得两步,咳嗽一声,身子晃几下,他受伤极重,但勉力挣扎,说什么要先杀了洪教主。
There was a brief silence, then twenty or thirty voices could be heard repeating the oath, some firmly, others more hesitantly. Blue Dragon took a few steps forward, and started coughing and swaying again. He was badly injured, but he knew that come what may he must kill the Leader first.

洪夫人忽然格格一笑,说道:“青龙使,你没力气了,你腿上半点力气也没了,你胸口鲜血涌了出来,快流光啦。你不成啦。坐下罢,疲倦得很,坐下罢,对了,坐下休息一会。你放下长剑,待会儿坐到我身边来,让我治好你的伤。对啦,坐倒罢,放下长剑。”越说声音越是温柔娇媚。青龙使又走得几步,终于慢慢坐倒,铮的一声,长剑脱手落地。黄龙使眼见青龙使再也无力站起,大声道:“许雪亭,你这奸贼痴心妄想,他妈的要做教主,你撒泡尿自己照一照,这副德性像是不像。”赤龙使无根道人喝道:“殷锦,你这卑鄙无耻的小人,见风使舵,东摇西摆。老道手脚一活,第一个便宰了你。”
Madame Hong suddenly laughed. ‘You’re finished, Blue Dragon,’ she said in her ever sweet and softly mesmerizing voice. ‘Your legs are weak and the blood is draining from the wound in your chest. You’re going to die. Sit down, you must be very tired. Sit down, that’s right, sit down and have a rest. Put down your sword and come over here. Sit down beside me, so that I can treat your wound. That’s right, sit down, and put down the sword.’ Blue Dragon took a few more steps and finally sat slowly down on the floor, letting his sword slip from his grasp. Realizing that Blue Dragon was all done in, Yellow Dragon decided to try another volte-face. ‘You, our Leader? You little rat!’ he jeered. ‘Just take a piss and have a good look at yourself! You’re no Leader!’ ‘What a mean, shameless fellow you are, Yellow Dragon!’ shouted Rootless the Taoist, the Red Dragon Marshal. Tacking with the wind. Once I can move again, the first thing I’ll do is to have your head!’

黄龙使殷锦道:“你狠什么?我……我……”欲待还口,见青龙使许雪亭摇摇晃晃的又待站起,眼见这场争斗不知鹿死谁手,又住了口。一时厅上数百人的目光,都注视在许雪亭身上。洪夫人柔声道:“许大哥,你倦得很了,还是坐下来罢。你瞧着我,我唱个小曲儿给你听。你好好歇一歇,以后我天天唱小曲儿给你听。你瞧我生得好不好看?”许雪亭唔唔连声,说道:“你……你好看得很……不过我……我不敢多看……”说着又即坐倒,这一次再也站不起来,但心中雪亮,自己只要一坐不起,杀不了教主,数百人中以教主功力最为深厚,身上所中之毒定是他最先解去,那么一众老兄弟人人无幸,尽数要遭他毒手,说道:“陆……陆先生,我动不了啦,你给想……想……咳咳……想个法子。”陆先生道:“韦公子,这教主十分狠毒,待会他身上所中的毒消解,便将大伙儿杀死,连你也活不成,你快去将教主和夫人杀了。”
‘Why are you so angry? I. . . I. . .’ protested Yellow Dragon, but seeing Blue Dragon struggling shakily to rise to his feet, he decided it imprudent to say any more. All eyes in the hall were focused on him. ‘Comrade Xu,’ said Madame Hong softly, ‘you’re very tired, you’d better sit down. Look at me, I’ll sing you a little song. Have a good rest. I’ll sing you a little song every day from now on. Do you think I’m beautiful?’ ‘Yes, you . . . you’re very beautiful. . .’ mumbled Blue Dragon. ‘But I… I don’t dare look at you . . .’ He was too weak to stand and sat on the floor again. But he knew that if he stayed sitting and did not kill the Leader, all the elders would be in grave danger. The Leader had the most powerful Inner Force. He would be the first to recover, and then he would kill all the elders. ‘Doctor… Lu … I can’t move,’ he said. ‘You must think . . . of a way out. . .’ He was coughing again. Doctor Lu turned to Trinket. ‘Mr Wei,’ he said, ‘the Leader is merciless. As soon as the poison wears off, he will dispose of us all. You’d better kill him and Madame Hong now!’Trinket to the Rescue

这几句话他就是不说,韦小宝也早明白,当下拾起一柄剑,慢慢向教主走去。陆先生又道:“这洪夫人狐狸精,尽会骗人,你别瞧她的脸,不可望她眼睛。”韦小宝道:“是!”挺剑走上几步。洪夫人柔声道:“小兄弟,你说我生得美不美?”声音中充满了销魂蚀骨之意。韦小宝心中一动,转头便欲向她瞧去。
Trinket had already seen the danger Doctor Lu was telling him about, of course. He picked up a sword from the floor and slowly walked towards the Leader. ‘Madame Hong is a fox,’ warned Doctor Lu. ‘She’s a witch. Don’t look at her. Never look into her eyes.’ ‘All right,’ said Trinket, holding the sword and walking a few steps further forward. ‘Don’t you think I’m beautiful, little man?’ murmured Madame Hong in her soft, bewitching voice. Trinket immediately turned to look at her.

胖头陀大喝一声:“害人精,看不得!”韦小宝一凛,紧紧闭住了眼睛。洪夫人轻笑道:“小兄弟,你瞧啊,向着我,睁开了眼。你瞧,我眼珠子里有你的影子!”韦小宝一睁眼,见到洪夫人眼波盈盈,全是笑意,不由得心中大荡,随即举剑当胸,向着洪教主走去,心道:“你这样的美人儿,我真舍不得杀,你的老公却非杀不可。”
‘Don’t!’ cried Fat Dhuta. ‘She’s an evil woman!’ Trinket shuddered and closed his eyes tightly. Madame Hong gave a soft laugh. ‘Look at me, little man! Go on, you can see your reflection in my eyes!’ Trinket looked into her smiling, glistening eyes. His heart melted. He raised his sword and advanced towards the Leader, thinking to himself, ‘How could I ever harm a beautiful woman like you? But I still have to kill your husband.’ Suddenly a voice rang out from his left side. ‘Don’t, Brother Wei!’

忽然左侧有个清脆的声音说道:“韦大哥!杀不得!”这声音极熟,韦小宝心头一震,向声音来处瞧去,只见一名红衣少女躺在地下,秀眉俊目,正是小郡主沐剑屏。他大吃一惊,万想不到竟会在此和她相遇,至于她身穿赤龙门少女的红衣,反不觉如何惊奇了,忙俯身将她扶起,问道:“你怎么会在这里?”沐剑屏不答他的问话,只道:“你……你千万杀不得教主。”韦小宝奇道:“你投了神龙教?怎……怎么会?”沐剑屏全身软得便如没了骨头,将头靠在他肩上,一张小口刚好凑在他耳边。低声道:“你如杀了教主和夫人,我就活不成了。那些老头子恨死了我们,非尽数杀了我们这些少年人不可。”
It was a very familiar voice. Startled, Trinket turned around and saw a pretty girl lying on the floor, dressed in red. It was the Little Countess, Mu Jianping. Trinket was utterly astounded. She was the last person he would have expected to find there. ‘What are you doing here?’ he asked her, hastening to lift her up. She ignored his question, but repeated that he must on no account kill the Leader. ‘Have you joined the Mystic Dragons?’ said Trinket, in amazement. ‘What’s going on?’ Her body was as soft as if every bone in it had melted. Resting her head on Trinket’s shoulder, she whispered into his ear. ‘If you kill the Leader and Madame Hong, that will be the end of me. These old men are sure to kill all of us.’

韦小宝道:“我要他们不来害你,他们会答允的。”沐剑屏急道:“不,不!教主给我们服了毒药,旁人解不来的。”韦小宝和她久别重逢,本已十分欢喜,何况怀中温香软玉,耳边柔声细语,自是难于拒却,又想她已给教主逼服了毒药,旁人解救不得,那么杀了教主,便是害死怀中这个小美人儿,此事万万不可,只一件事为难,低声道:“我如不杀教主,教主身上毒性去了之后,就要杀死我了。”他将沐剑屏紧紧抱住,这句话就在她耳边而说。沐剑屏道:“你救了教主和夫人,他们怎么还会杀你?”
‘But surely if I ask them not to hurt you, they’ll listen to me,’ said Trinket. ‘Oh no they won’t!’ cried the Little Countess. ‘Anyway, the Leader has given us all the drug, and no one but he has the remedy for it.’ Trinket was so happy to see her again after such a long separation, and now, with her sweet body in his arms and her soft voice in his ear, he found it hard to go against her wishes. ‘But if I don’t kill the Leader,’ he said, holding her tightly and whispering back, ‘he’ll kill me instead, as soon as the poison wears off.’ ‘Why would the Leader and Madame Hong want to do that, if you were the person who saved their lives?’ said the Little Countess.

韦小宝心想不错,洪夫人这样千娇百媚,无论如何是杀不下手的,眼前正是建立大功的机会,只是胖头陀、陆先生、无根道人这几个,不免要给教主杀了。那无根道人十分豪杰,杀了他未免可惜,最好是既不杀教主和夫人,也保全了胖头陀等人性命,便道:“正是!好老婆。就算教主要杀我,我也非救你不可。”说着在她左颊上亲了一吻。沐剑屏大羞,满脸通红,眼光中露出喜色,低声道:“你立了大功,又是小孩,教主怎会杀你?”韦小宝将沐剑屏轻放在地下,转头说道:“陆先生,教主是杀不得的,夫人也杀不得的,石碑上刻了字,说教主和夫人永享仙福,寿与天齐,我怎敢害他们性命?他二位老人神通广大,就是要害,也害不死的。”
Trinket agreed with her. The best solution would be to spare the Leader and his wife, and at the same time somehow to save the lives of Fat Dhuta, Doctor Lu, and Rootless the Taoist. ‘All right, doll,’ he said to the Little Countess, giving her a kiss on her left cheek. ‘Even if the Leader kills me, I’ll do my best to save you.’ Her face flushed and a joyful look came into her eyes. He laid her gently back on the floor and turned to Doctor Lu. ‘Neither the Leader nor Madame Hong should be killed,’ he said. ‘The inscription prophesies Long Life and Blessings for both of them. It must be obeyed.’

陆先生大急,叫道:“碑文是假的,怎作得数?别胡思乱想了,快快将他二人杀了,否则大伙儿死无葬身之地。”韦小宝连连摇头,说道:“陆先生,你不可说这等犯上作乱的言语。你有没有解药?咱们赶快得解了教主和夫人身上的毒。”
That inscription is a fake!’ protested Doctor Lu heatedly. ‘Stop fooling around. Dispatch them both at once or we will all die a horrible death.’ Trinket shook his head. ‘You mustn’t talk like that, Doctor Lu. Have you got the antidote? No, we must help the Leader and Madame to recover from the poison as soon as possible.’

洪夫人柔声说道:“对啦,小兄弟,你当真见识高超。上天派了你这样一位少年英雄下凡,前来辅佐教主。神龙教有了你这样一位少年英雄,真是大家的福气。”这几句话说得似乎出自肺腑,充满了惊奇赞叹之意。韦小宝听在耳里,说不出的舒服受用,笑道:“夫人,我不是神龙教的人。”洪夫人笑道:“那再容易也没有了。你现下即刻入教,我就是你的接引人。教主,这位小兄弟为本教立了如此大功,咱们派他个什么职司才是?”教主道:“白龙门掌门使钟志灵叛教伏法,咱们升这少年为白龙使。”
‘You’re right, little man,’ said Madame Hong softly. ‘You really are very clever. A young hero like you must have been sent by Heaven to assist the Leader. We are very lucky to have you in the Sect.’ Her words gave Trinket a thrill of pleasure. ‘But Madame, I’m not a member of the Sect.’ ‘That’s simple enough,’ she replied. ‘You can join the Sect right away; I’ll be your sponsor.’ She then turned to the Leader. ‘What position should we appoint this young hero to, considering the remarkable service he’s rendered to the Sect?’ ‘Since White Dragon has been executed for treason,’ answered the Leader, ‘we should make this young person the next White Dragon Marshal.’

洪夫人笑道:“好极了。小兄弟,本教以教主为首,下面就是青、黄、赤、白、黑五龙使。像你这样一入教就做五龙使,那真是从所未有之事。足见教主对你倚重之深。小兄弟,你姓韦,我们是知道的,你大号叫做什么?”韦小宝道:“我叫韦小宝,江湖上有个外号,叫做‘小白龙’。”
‘An excellent idea!’ Madame went on to explain the workings of the Sect to Trinket. ‘Under the Leader, there are the Five Dragon Marshals—the Blue, the Yellow, the Red, the White, and the Black. It is an unprecedented honour for you to be made a Marshal as soon as you join the Sect. It shows that the Leader thinks very highly of you. We know that your family name is Wei. What other names do you have?’ Trinket,’ he replied. ‘And on River and Lake they sometimes call me Little White Dragon.’

他想起那日茅十八给他杜撰了个外号,觉得若无外号,不够威风,想不到竟与今日之事不谋而合。洪夫人喜道:“你瞧,你瞧!这是老天爷的安排,否则哪有这样巧法。教主金口,一言既出,决无反悔。”陆先生大急,说道:“韦公子,你别上他们的当。就算你当了白龙使,他们一不喜欢,若要杀你,还不是易如反掌?白龙使钟志灵便是眼前的榜样。你快去杀了教主和夫人,大家奉你为神龙教的教主便了。”
The nom de guerre given him by Whiskers strangely foreshadowed his impending elevation. ‘What a miraculous coincidence!’ purred Madame Hong. ‘Fate certainly moves in mysterious ways!’ ‘Beware, Mr Wei,’ cried Doctor Lu agitatedly. ‘Don’t you see? Even if they do make you White Dragon Marshal, they will dispose of you whenever they feel like it. Look what they did to the last White Dragon! Kill them! Act now, and we will make you our new Leader!’

此言一出,众人皆是一惊。胖头陀、许雪亭、无根道人等都觉这话太过匪夷所思,但转念一想,若不奉他为教主,教中再无比白龙使更高的职位,眼前情势恶劣之极,众人性命悬于其手,也只有这样,才能诱得他去杀了教主和夫人,只消渡过难关,谅这小小孩童就算真的当了教主,也逃不过众人的掌握。当下众人齐道:“对,对,我们齐奉韦公子为神龙教教主,大伙儿对你忠心耿耿。”
Fat Dhuta, Xu the Blue Dragon, and Rootless the Taoist all gasped at the sheer audacity of the doctor’s proposal. But this might be the only way out. Somehow they had to lure him into taking the plunge. He must kill. The important thing was to get rid of the present Leader and his wife. Afterwards, even if this boy did become the new leader, they could easily control him. ‘Yes, yes!’ they cried in unison. ‘We swear to obey Leader Wei’s Command, to follow Him with Unswerving Loyalty!’

韦小宝心中一动,斜眼向洪夫人瞧去,只见她半坐半卧的靠在竹椅上,全身犹似没了骨头一般,胸口微微起伏,双颊红晕,眼波欲流,心想:“做教主没什么好玩,这个教主夫人可真美得要命。我如做了教主,你这教主夫人可还做不做哪?”但这念头只在脑海中一晃而过,随即明白:“这些人个个武功高强,身上毒性一解,我又怎管他们得了?这是过桥抽板。”过桥抽板的事,他在天地会青木堂中早已有过经历,天地会的兄弟都是英雄好汉,过了桥之后不忙抽板,这些神龙教的家伙,岂有不大抽而特抽、抽个不亦乐乎的?教主夫人虽美,毕竟自己的小命更美,当下伸了伸舌头,笑道:“教主我是当不来的,你们说这种话,没的折了我的福份,而且有点儿大逆不道。这样罢,教主、夫人,大家言归于好,今日的帐,双方都不算。陆先生、青龙使他们冒犯了教主,请教主宽宏大量,不处他们的罪。陆先生,你取出解药来,大家服了,和和气气,岂不是好?”洪教主不等陆先生开口,立即说道:“好,就是这么办。白龙使劝我们和衷共济,不咎既往,本座嘉纳忠言,今日厅上一切犯上作乱之行,本座一概宽赦,不再追究。”
This was beginning to sound rather interesting, thought Trinket. He glanced at Madame Hong out of the corner of his eye. She was half sitting, half reclining on the bamboo chair, her body softly wrapped around it as if there was not a hard bone in it. He took in the gentle curve of her breast, the rosy glow of her cheeks, the moist gleam that shone from her eyes. His mind wandered. ‘Being Leader wouldn’t be much fun. But she’s gorgeous . . .’ But after a moment’s reflection he dismissed the idea. The whole thing was altogether too dangerous. These Dragon-folk were capable of anything. They’d use him, and then dump him. If there was one thing he wanted above all else, it was to stay alive. ‘I have another idea,’ he said, turning to the Leader and Madame Hong and addressing them both. ‘Will you agree to forget what’s happened today? Will you forgive Doctor Lu and Blue Dragon for everything?’ Then turning to Doctor Lu, he continued: ‘And I want you to give them the antidote for the poison. Then everyone can make up.’ ‘Very well,’ the Leader hurried to answer before Doctor Lu could speak. ‘Let’s do as White Dragon suggests. He wants us to live in harmony, and let bygones be bygones. I’m ready to forgive and forget.’

韦小宝喜道:“青龙使,教主答应了,那不是好得很吗?”陆先生眼见韦小宝无论如何是不会去杀教主了,长叹一声,说道:“既是如此,教主、夫人,你们两位请立下一个誓来。”洪夫人道:“我苏荃决不追究今日之事,若违此言,教我身入龙潭,为万蛇所噬。”洪教主低沉着声音道:“神龙教教主洪安通,日后如向各位老兄弟清算今日之事,洪某身入龙潭,为万蛇所噬,尸骨无存。”
‘Wonderful!’ cried Trinket with delight. Doctor Lu could see that Trinket was not going to do it. He heaved a long sigh. ‘In that case, I should like our Leader and Madame Hong to swear an oath.’ ‘I, Su Quan, will forgive and forget everything that has happened today,’ declared Madame Hong. ‘If I ever go back on my word, may I fall into the Dragon Pool and be bitten by ten thousand snakes.’ ‘May I, Hong Antong, the Leader of the Mystic Dragon Sect,’ declared the Leader in his deep voice, ‘fall into the Dragon Pool, and my flesh and bones be consumed by ten thousand snakes if I ever blame any old Comrade for what has happened here today.’

“身入龙潭,为万蛇所噬”,那是神龙教中最重的刑罚,教主和夫人当众立此重誓,虽为势所迫,却也是决计不能反口的了。陆先生道:“青龙使,你意下如何?”许雪亭奄奄一息,道:“我……我反正活不成了。”陆先生又道:“无根道长,你以为怎么样?”
‘What do you think, Blue Dragon?’ asked Doctor Lu. ‘I… I’m dying anyway . . .’ gasped the Blue Dragon Marshal. ‘What about you, Rootless?’ Doctor Lu inquired.

无根道人大声道:“就是这样。洪教主原是我们老兄弟,他文才武功,胜旁人十倍,大伙儿本来拥他为主,原无二心。自从他娶了这位夫人后,性格大变,只爱提拔少年男女,将我们老兄弟一个个的残杀。青龙使这番发难,只求保命,别无他意。教主和夫人既已当众立誓,决不追究今日之事,不再肆意杀害老兄弟,大家又何必反他?再说,神龙教原也少不得这位教主。”一群少男少女纵声高呼:“教主永享仙福,寿与天齐。”
‘Very well,’ said Rootless the Taoist loudly. ‘Our Leader was once a great man, and we supported him loyally. Ever since he took Madame as his wife, he has changed. That was when he started promoting these children, and eliminating old Comrades like us. Actually, Blue Dragon was only trying to protect himself.’ ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Blessings be on Him!’ cried all the boys and girls in the hall.

陆先生道:“韦公子,你没喝雄黄药酒,不中百花腹蛇膏之毒,致成今日之功,冥冥之中,自有天意。要解此毒,甚是容易,你到外面去舀些冷水来,喂了各人服下即可。”
‘Mr Wei,’ said Doctor Lu, ‘it is very easy to dispel the effects of the poison. Go outside, fetch some cold water, and give each of them some to drink.’

韦小宝笑道:“这毒原来如此易解。”走到厅外,却找不到冷水,绕到厅后,见一排放着二十余只七石缸,都装满了清水,原来是防竹厅失火之用,当下满满提了一桶清水,回到厅中,先舀一瓢喂给教主喝下,其次喂给洪夫人。第三瓢却喂给无根道人,说道:“道长,你是英雄好汉。”第四、五瓢喂了胖头陀和陆先生,第六瓢喂给沐剑屏。各人饮了冷水,便即呕吐,慢慢手脚可以移动。韦小宝又喂数人后,陆先生已可起立行走,过去扶起青龙使许雪亭,为他止血治伤。胖头陀等分别去提冷水,灌救亲厚的兄弟。不久沐剑屏救了几名红衣少女。一时大厅上呕吐狼藉,臭不可当。
Trinket went outside, but could not see any water. Rounding the building, he saw a row of over twenty stone vats filled with water for putting out fires. He immediately filled up a bucket and brought it into the hall. He gave the first ladle of water to the Leader, the second to Madame Hong, and the third to Rootless the Taoist. ‘You’re a great hero,’ he said to Rootless. He then helped Fat Dhuta, Doctor Lu, and the Little Countess drink the cold water. They all threw up on taking it, and gradually recovered movement in their limbs. When Doctor Lu was able to get to his feet, he went to help Blue Dragon and treated his wounds. Fat Dhuta and the others started ladling out cold water for their friends. Before long, Mu Jianping got up and gave water to a few of the girls from her Branch. Soon the hall stank of vomit.

洪夫人道:“大家回去休息,明日再行聚会。”洪教主道:“本座既不究既往,众兄弟自伙之间,也不得因今日之事,互相争吵寻仇,违者重罚。五龙少年不得对掌门使不敬,掌门使也不可借故处置本门少年。”众人齐声奉令,但疑忌忧虑,毕竟难以尽去。洪夫人柔声道:“白龙使,你跟我来。”韦小宝还不知她是在呼唤自己,见她招手,这才想起自己做了神龙教的白龙使,便跟了过去。教主和夫人并肩而行,出了大厅,已可行动的教众都躬身行礼,高声叫道:“教主永享仙福,寿与天齐!”
‘Go and rest, all of you,’ said Madame. ‘We’ll meet again tomorrow.’ ‘I forgive you all,’ said the Leader. There must be no more quarrelling, and no taking of revenge. Anyone who offends against this order will be severely punished.’ The assembly vowed obedience, but their hearts were filled with suspicion and anxiety. ‘Come with me, White Dragon Marshal,’ Madame Hong said softly, beckoning to Trinket, who at first had no idea that she was calling him. The Leader and Madame walked out of the hall together, followed by Trinket the White Dragon Marshal. Those Sect members who were now able to move bowed to them as they passed, shouting: ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Blessings be on Him!’Trinket the White Dragon Marshal

教主和夫人沿着一条青石板路,向厅左行去,穿过一大片竹林,到了一个平台之上。台上筑着几间大竹屋,十余名分穿五色衣衫的少年男女持剑前后把守,见到教主,一齐躬身行礼。洪夫人领韦小宝进了竹屋,向一名白衣少年道:“这位韦公子,是你们白龙门新任的掌门使,请他在东厢房休息,你们好好服侍。”
They walked along a black flagstone road, round to the left of the assembly hall. After passing through a large grove of bamboos, they came to a level terrace. On the terrace, several more large bamboo buildings had been constructed, and a dozen armed youths stood guard at the front and rear entrances. They all bowed to the Leader as he approached. Madame led Trinket inside one of the bamboo buildings. This is Mr Wei,’ she told a boy in white. ‘He’s the new Marshal of your White Dragon Branch. Show him the way to the east wing where he can rest, and attend to him well.’

说着向韦小宝一笑,进了内堂。几名白衣少年转身向韦小宝道:“属下少年参见座使。”韦小宝在皇宫中做惯了首领太监,在天地会中又做惯了香主,旁人对他恭敬,已毫不在乎,只点了点头。几名白衣少年引他进了东厢房,献上茶来。虽说是厢房,却也十分宽敞,陈设雅洁,桌上架上摆满了金玉古玩,壁上悬着字画,床上被褥华美,居然有点皇宫中的派头。几名白衣少年见洪夫人言语神情之中,显然对韦小宝极为看重,而教主这“仙福居”更是从无外人在此过宿,白龙使享此殊荣,地位更在其他四使之上了。这些少年在此守卫,不知适才大厅中的变故,但见韦小宝位尊得宠,一个个过来大献殷勤。
Casting Trinket a smile, she went on into the inner house. A number of boys in white greeted Trinket with a bow. Trinket, having been both a senior Palace Eunuch and a Triad Lodge Master, was by now quite used to this kind of subservience and merely nodded in reply. The boys led him into the east wing and served him tea. The ‘wing’ was in fact a palatial apartment furnished in the grandest style, with gold and jade antiques on the tables and shelves, calligraphic scrolls and paintings hanging on the walls, and the most elegant brocade coverlets spread on the bed. It was known as the Abode of Immortal Bliss, and was reserved for the Leader’s most honoured guests.

当日下午,韦小宝向几名白衣少年问了五龙门的各种规矩。原来神龙教下分五门,每一名统率数十名老兄弟、一百名少年,数百名寻常教众。掌门使本来都是教中立有大功的高手宿将,但教主近来全力提拔新秀,往往二十岁左右之人,便得出掌仅次于掌门使的要职,韦小宝年纪虽小,却也无人有丝毫诧异。
That afternoon, Trinket asked the boys in white to tell him something about the way the Sect was organized. He learned that each of the five Branches (or Dragon Gates as they were called) of the Mystic Dragon Sect consisted of a Marshal, twenty or so elders, a hundred acolytes (boys and girls), and several hundred rank and file members. The elders were distinguished veteran generals who had rendered outstanding service to the Sect; but recently, the Leader had gone to great lengths to promote new recruits, and so acolytes in their twenties were often appointed to positions immediately under the Marshals. For this reason, they were not in the least surprised that young Trinket had become the new White Dragon Marshal.

次晨洪教主和夫人又在大厅中召集会众。各人脸上都有惴惴不安之色,教主虽已立誓不再追究,但他城府极深,谁也料不到他会有什么厉害手段使出来。教主和夫人升座。韦小宝排在五龙使班次的第四位,反在胖头陀和陆先生之上。
The next morning the Leader and Madame Hong called another assembly in the hall. There was a general air of apprehension. Despite his promises of the previous day, the Leader was both inscrutable and unpredictable. Anything could happen. He and Madame Hong seated themselves. Trinket was asked to stand fourth among the five Marshals.

洪教主问道:“青龙使的伤势怎样?”陆先生躬身道:“启禀教主,青龙使伤势不轻,性命是否能保,眼下还是难说。”教主从怀中取出一个醉红小瓷瓶,道:“这是三颗天王保命丹,你拿去给他服了。”说着也不见他扬手,那瓷瓶便向陆先生身前缓缓飞来。陆先生忙伸手接住,伏地说道:“谢教主大恩。”
‘How is the Blue Dragon Marshal?’ asked the Leader. Doctor Lu bowed. ‘His injuries are serious, Leader. He is not yet out of danger.’ ‘Here are three Breath of Life Pills,’ said the Leader, producing a little red porcelain botde from his bosom. ‘Give them to him.’ Widiout even the slightest movement, the Leader released the bottle, and it flew slowly through the air in the direction of Doctor Lu, who caught it in his outheld hand. The doctor prostrated himself. ‘You are most gracious, Leader.’

他知这天王保命丹十分难得,是教主派遣部属采集无数珍奇药材炼制而成,其中的三百年老山人参、白熊胆、雪莲等物,尤其难得,教主大费心力所炼成的,前后也不过十来颗而已。许雪亭一服这三颗灵丹,性命当可无碍。
He knew how precious these Breath of Life Pills were. Some time ago, the Leader had sent far and wide to search for the rarest herbs—including three-hundred-year-old ginseng, the gall bladder of the white bear, and pods of the snow lotus. Boiling up the ingredients and making them into pills was a long and difficult process. Only a dozen had ever been made. With these, Xu should make a full recovery.

其余老兄弟都躬身道谢。均想:“青龙使昨日对教主如此冲撞,更立心要害他性命,今日教主反赐珍药,那么他的的确确是不咎既往了。”无不大感欣慰。大厅中本来人人严加戒备,这时脸上都现笑容,不少人大吁长气。
The other elders also bowed and thanked the Leader, thinking diat if he had forgiven the Blue Dragon Marshal, they themselves must be out of danger. The atmosphere in the hall lightened noticeably.

洪夫人笑道:“白龙使,听说你在五台山上见到一块石碣,碣上刻有蝌蚪文字?”韦小宝躬身道:“是!”胖头陀道:“启禀教主、夫人,属下拓得这碣文在此。”从怀中取出一个油纸包,打了开来,取出一张极大的拓片,悬在东边墙上,拓片黑底白字,文字希奇古怪,无人能识。
‘I understand that on the Wutai Mountains you came across a stone tablet with a Tadpole inscription. Is that right, White Dragon Marshal?’ asked Madame Hong. ‘Yes,’ Trinket answered, bending at his waist. ‘I made a rubbing of the inscription,’ said Fat Dhuta, producing an oilskin packet from inside his gown. He opened the packet, took out a large rubbing, and hung it on the eastern wall of the hall. The strange, squiggly white characters on a black background were quite unintelligible to the assembled company.

洪夫人道:“白龙使,你若识得这些文字,便读给大家听听。”韦小宝应道:“是。”眼望拓文,大声背诵陆先生所撰的那篇文字:“维大唐贞观二年十月甲子……”慢慢的一路背将下去,偶尔遗忘,便说:“嗯,这是个什么字,倒也难认,是了,是个‘魔’字。”背到“仙福永享,普天崇敬。寿与天齐,文武仁圣”,那四句时,将之改了一改,说是“仙福永享,连同夫人。寿与天齐,文武仁圣。”
‘Read us out the characters if you know them, White Dragon Marshal,’ said Madame. ‘Certainly,’ said Trinket and, looking at the rubbing, he began to recite loudly the text concocted by Doctor Lu: ‘In the Second Year of the Zhen-Guan Period of the Tang Dynasty . . .’ He recited the text slowly, and whenever he was having trouble remembering a word, pretended not to be able to decipher one of the characters on the rubbing. When he came to the bit about ‘Long Life and Blessings to the Great Leader! May He Live For Ever!’, he changed the words to ‘Blessings to the Great Leader and His Wife.’

这“连同夫人”四字,实在颇为粗俗,若教陆先生撰写,必另有雅训字眼,但韦小宝不通文理,哪里作得出什么好文章来?不将四字句改成五字,已十分难能可贵了。洪夫人一听到这四字,眉开眼笑,说道:“教主,碣文中果真有我的名字,倒不是白龙使胡乱捏造的。”
The ‘and His Wife’ sounded a bit crude. The learned doctor would doubdess have come up with a much more elegant turn of phrase. ‘You see! I’m actually in the inscription, Leader,’ said Madame Hong, beaming with joy. ‘The White Dragon Marshal couldn’t possibly have made it up.’

洪教主也十分高兴,点头笑道:“好,好!我们上邀天眷,创下这个神龙教来,原来大唐贞观年间,上天已有预示。”厅上教众齐声高呼:“教主仙福永享,寿与天齐。”无根道人等老兄弟也自骇然,均想:“教主与夫人上应天象,那可冒犯不得。”韦小宝最后将八部《四十二章经》的所在也都一一念了。
The Leader also seemed very happy. He even smiled and nodded his head. ‘Excellent! So our Sect was prophesied as long ago as the Tang dynasty.’ ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Blessings be on Him!’ resounded through the hall. Even Roodess the Taoist and the other elders seemed impressed. Trinket finally came to the last part of the inscription where the location of the eight copies of the Sutra was divulged.

洪夫人叹道:“圣贤豪杰,惠民救世,固然上天早有安排,便连吴三桂这等人,也都在老天爷的算中。教主,这八部宝经,份中应属本教所有,迟早都会到我神龙教来。”教主捻须微笑,道:“夫人说得是。”众人又大叫:“寿与天齐,寿与天齐!”待人声稍静,洪教主道:“现下开香堂,封韦小宝为本教白龙门掌门使之职。”神龙教开香堂,和天地会的仪节又自不同。韦小宝见香案上放着五只黄金盘子,每只盘子中都盛着一条小蛇,共分青、黄、赤、白、黑五色。五条小蛇昂起了头,舌头一伸一缩,身子却盘着不动。
‘How strange that they even predicted Satrap Wu,’ said Madame Hong. ‘It seems that the eight Sutras are ours by right, Leader. It’s just a matter of time.’ :t’Yes.’ The Leader smiled and played with his beard. ‘Long Life to Our Leader! Long Life to Our Leader!’ rang out again. When the chanting had subsided, the Leader gave the order that the altar be set up—he now wanted to install Trinket ceremonially as Marshal of the White Dragon Branch. Trinket noticed how different their ritual was from that of the Triads. On top of the altar stood five golden plates, each containing a small snake of a different colour: blue, yellow, red, white, and black. Their bodies were coiled, but their heads were raised and their tongues flicked in and out.

韦小宝拜过五色“神龙”,向教主和夫人磕头,接受无根道人等人道贺。洪夫人斟了三杯雄黄酒让他饮下,笑道:“饮了此酒,岛上神龙便都知道你是自己人,以后再也不会来咬你了。”教主赐了一串雄黄珠子,命他贴肉挂着,百毒不侵。跟着白龙门本门的执事和少年齐来参见掌门使。教主吩咐:“青龙掌门使因病休养,胖头陀拓碣文有功,青龙门事务,暂由胖头陀代理。待青龙使病愈,再行接掌。”
Trinket bowed before the Five Miniature Mystic Dragons, then he kowtowed to the Leader and Madame Hong. He was congratulated by Rootless the Taoist and the other elders. Madame Hong then poured him three cups of the famous Realgar Elixir. ‘Drink this elixir, and the Mystic Dragons on this island will recognize diat you are one of us; they won’t bite you any more.’ The Leader presented Trinket with a string of realgar beads and ordered him to wear it underneath his clothing, saying that this too would protect him from any kind of poison. Then the elders and acolytes of the White Dragon Branch came over together to pay their respects to their new Marshal. ‘Since the Blue Dragon Marshal is sick and in need of rest,’ announced the Leader, ‘and since Comrade Dhuta has made a contribution by making the rubbing of the inscription, Comrade Dhuta will be in charge of the Blue Dragon Branch until the Blue Dragon Marshal has recovered.’

胖头陀躬身奉令。教主又道:“五龙使和陆高轩六人,齐到后厅议事。”当即和夫人走下座来。厅上众人高呼恭送,无根道人、韦小宝、胖头陀、陆先生等都跟随其后,韦小宝这时才知,原来陆先生的名字叫陆高轩。
Fat Dhuta bowed. The five Marshals and Doctor Lu should proceed to the inner hall,’ commanded the Leader. ‘I wish to hold a council.’ He and Madame Hong immediately descended from their seats and made their way to the inner hall, with the six others following at their heels. The Five Dragon Disc

那后厅便在大厅之后,厅堂不大,居中两张大竹椅,教主和夫人就座。下面设了五张矮凳,三位掌门使分别坐下,胖头陀也坐了一张,说道:“白龙使请坐。”
The inner hall was situated behind the main hall, and smaller in size. The Leader and Madame Hong sat down on two large bamboo chairs in the centre. Fat Dhuta, as acting Blue Dragon, and three other Marshals sat on four of the five stools placed in front of the bamboo chairs. ‘Please be seated, White Dragon Marshal,’ said Fat Dhuta.

韦小宝见陆先生没有座位,微感迟疑。陆先生微笑道:“白龙使请坐,‘潜龙堂’中,没有我这等闲职教众的座位。”韦小宝料想规矩如此,胖头陀若不是代理青龙使,那也是没有座位的了,便即坐下。陆先生站在黑龙使下首。突然之间,殷锦等四人都站起来,韦小宝不明所以,跟着站起,只听殷锦和陆先生等五人齐声念道:“教主宝训……”韦小宝当即跟着念下去:“……时刻在心。制胜克敌,无事不成。”他尖锐的童音,又比那五人更大声了些。洪教主点了点头,五人这才坐下。
Trinket hesitated, seeing that Doctor Lu was still standing. ‘Go ahead, White Dragon Marshal,’ said the doctor with a smile. ‘An ordinary Comrade such as myself has no right to be seated in the Hall of the Hidden Dragon.’ Trinket sat down, and Doctor Lu remained standing next to the Black Dragon Marshal. Suddenly, the four other Marshals rose to their feet. Without even thinking, Trinket stood up too. ‘Obey His Teachings!’ they chanted in unison. Trinket promptly joined in: ‘Follow Him to Victory!’ His high-pitched voice stood out from the others. The Leader nodded his head, and they all resumed their seats.

洪教主道:“碣文所示,这八部《四十二章经》散处四方,可是黑龙使报称,其中四部是在皇宫之内,却是何故?”黑龙使道:“想来这四部经书本在少林寺、沐王府等处,后来给鞑子抢入了宫中。”教主沉吟不语,黑龙使脸上惧意渐浓。洪教主转向胖头陀,问道:“你师兄有消息回报没有?”
The inscription tells us that the eight copies of the Sutra were scattered in different places,’ began the Leader. ‘But according to the Black Dragon Marshal’s report, four of those copies are now in the Palace. How has this come about?’ ‘One was originally in the Shaolin Monastery, one was in the Mu Family estate and two were elsewhere,’ answered the Black Dragon Marshal. ‘Later all four were seized and taken to the Palace by the Tartars.’ The Leader brooded for a moment. Black Dragon looked extremely nervous. ‘Have you any news from your brother-in-arms?’ said the Leader, turning to Fat Dhuta.

胖头陀恭恭敬敬的道:“启禀教主,瘦头陀以前曾说,在镶蓝旗旗王府中,曾查到一些端倪,可是后来却再也查不到什么了。”韦小宝心中一动:“镶蓝旗旗主府中?那不是陶姑姑的师父去过的地方吗?原来胖头陀还有个师兄,叫做瘦头陀。”只听洪教主道:“你说我吩咐他尽快追查,不得懒散。”胖头陀连声答应。
‘Leader,’ replied Fat Dhuta respectfully, Thin Dhuta once told me he’d come across something in the possession of the Head of the Bordered Blue Banner. But it never came to anything.’ The Bordered Blue Banner?’ ran Trinket’s thoughts. ‘Where have I heard that before? Isn’t that where Auntie Tao’s Master used to work? And Fat Dhuta … so, he’s got a brother-in-arms called Thin Dhuta The Leader spoke again. Tell him to speed up his investigation. There must be no more slacking.’ ‘Yes, Leader! Yes, Leader!’

过了一会,洪夫人微笑道:“黑龙使派人去皇宫里取经,据他自己说,已经竭尽全力,可是至今一部经书也没取来。这件事,咱们恐怕另得派一个福份大些的人去办了。”黄龙使殷锦忙道:“夫人高见。取经之事,想来和福份大小,干系极大。黑龙使也不是不努力。不肯替教主立功,可是始终阻难重重,多半是福气不够,因此宝经难以到手。”洪夫人微笑道:“依你之见,谁的福份够呢?”殷锦道:“本教福气最大的,自然是教主他老人家,其次是夫人。不过总不能劳动两位大驾亲自出马。更其次福份最大的,首推白龙使。他识得碣文,又立下大功,印堂隐隐透出红光,福份之大,教主属下无人能出其右。”教主捻须微笑,道:“但他小小孩童,能担当这件大任么?”
‘Since there’s been no progress, perhaps we should send someone new,’ said Madame Hong. ‘Wonderful idea,’ commented the Yellow Dragon Marshal hastily. ‘Why not send the new White Dragon Marshal? Look at the red glow between his eyebrows—after the Leader and yourself, he must be the one among us most favoured by fortune,’ ‘But he’s only a child,’ said the Leader, smiling and playing with his beard. ‘Can he be entrusted with such an important mission?’

白龙使一职,在神龙教虽然甚尊,在韦小宝心里,却半点份量也没有,他既陷身岛上,只好随遇而安,瞧着闭月羞花的洪夫人。自是过瘾之极,但瞧得多了,如给教主发觉自己色迷迷的神色,难免有杀身之祸,还是尽速回北京为妙,听教主这么说,正是脱身的良机,便道:“教主,夫人,承蒙提拔,属下十分感激,我本事是没有的,但托了两位大福气,混进皇宫中去偷这四部宝经,倒也有成功的指望。”洪教主点了点头。洪夫人喜道:“你肯自告奋勇,足见对教主忠心。我知你聪明伶俐,福份又大,恐怕正是上天派来给教主办成这件大事的。”
Being a Dragon Marshal was not a career that appealed enormously to Trinket on any long-term basis, especially since it apparently involved being marooned on this snake-infested island. It was of course great fun goggling at the gorgeous Madame Hong, but if he did too much of that, the Leader would undoubtedly notice and find some way of eliminating him. In the circumstances, going to Peking on official business seemed by far the best option. ‘Leader, Madame Hong,’ he said, ‘I’m not good at much, I know, but I reckon I could sneak into the Palace and steal those four Sutras for you.’ The Leader nodded.

洪教主缓缓道:“据黑龙使禀报,他派在皇宫中的部属传出消息,小皇帝手下有个小太监,叫做什么小桂子的……”韦小宝大吃一惊:“拆穿西洋镜,那可糟糕之极!”听教主续道:“……小皇帝派了他去五台山,意欲不利于我教。我们接连派了几批人手出去,要擒他来审问,章老三找他不到,胖头陀也没能成功,不料小桂子没找到,却遇上了你。”殷锦听教主语气稍顿,说道:“那是教主洪福齐天!”
‘According to Black Dragon,’ said the Leader very slowly, ‘the people he had working for us in the Palace came to hear of a boy eunuch close to the Young Emperor, someone with a name like Laurie . . .’ Trinket’s heart missed a beat. For a moment he wondered if the Leader had seen through his entire story. ‘It seems the Young Emperor sent this Laurie to the Wutai Mountains to meddle in our Sect’s activities there,’ the Leader continued. ‘We sent several groups after him, but none of them managed to find him—not even Comrade Fat Dhuta. And now we’ve found you instead . . .’ The Leader paused. ‘Didn’t I say that fortune had smiled on him!’ mumbled Yellow Dragon.

洪教主向他微微点了点头,续道:“白龙使,你到得宫中,这小桂子的事,可得细细查一查,皇帝派他去五台山,到底有什么图谋。”韦小宝已吓出了一身冷汗,忙道:“是,是。”心下十分欢喜,听教主口气,果然是派自己去皇宫了。向胖头陀瞧了一眼,心道:“你不泄漏我的秘密,算你是好人。”洪夫人道:“那八部《四十二章经》之中,据说藏有强身保命、延年益寿的大秘密。想我们教主既然上蒙天眷,许以永享仙福,寿与天齐,这八部经书,迟早自会落入教主手中。白龙使,你再去为教主立一大功,将这八部经书取来,教主自然另有封赏。”韦小宝站了起来,躬身说道:“属下粉身碎骨,也难报教主与夫人的大恩,自当尽忠报国,马革裹尸。”这“尽忠报国,马革裹尸”八个字,是他从说书先生那里学来的,每逢大将出征,君王勉励,大将就慷慨激昂,说了这八个字出来,他依样葫芦,用在此处,未免有点不伦不类。
The Leader nodded. ‘White Dragon Marshal,’ he continued, ‘when you get into the Palace, I want you to find out what the Emperor had in mind in sending this eunuch of his to Wutai.’ ‘Yes, Leader!’ responded Trinket smartly. By now he was in a cold sweat. The eight copies of the Sutra contain secret doctrines,’ said Madame Hong. ‘Important doctrines concerning the preservation of Long Life. Our Leader is certainly destined to receive them. Do this for the Leader, White Dragon Marshal, and he will certainly grant you another reward.’ Trinket stood up and bowed low. ‘I will always be grateful to the Leader and to Madame,’ he declared. ‘I will devote my life to my country and die on the battlefield.’ Trinket, as usual, had dredged something up for the occasion from his repertoire of storytellers’ tags. An appropriate declaration for a general setting off on a campaign, perhaps. But not quite the thing for the present context.

洪夫人一笑,说道:“你效忠教主,那就好得很了。你去北京,要哪几个人相助,可随便挑选。”韦小宝心想:“我自求脱身,教中有人跟了去,缚手缚脚。”说道:“人多了恐怕泄漏机密,啊,是了,赤龙使座下的少女,属下想挑一两人去,让她们乔装宫女,在宫里行事较为方便。”他想到了沐剑屏,要将她带去。
‘Loyally said!’ Madame Hong smiled. ‘You can choose a few people to go with you.’ Trinket was not too keen on the idea of other Comrades breathing down his neck. ‘We don’t need too many people. Don’t want to give ourselves away. Perhaps one or two girls from the Red Dragon Branch—they could always disguise themselves as Palace maids.’ He had in mind the Little Countess, of course.

无根道人道:“这些小姑娘只怕没什么用,只要教主和夫人允准,你随便挑选就是。”韦小宝道:“多谢道长。”陆高轩道:“启禀教主、夫人,属下昨日犯了重罪,深谢教主不杀之恩……”洪教主挥一挥手,皱眉道:“昨日之事,大家不得记在心上,今后谁也不许再提。”
‘I’m afraid my girls are not much use,’ remarked Rootless, the Red Dragon Marshal. ‘But you’re welcome to them. Choose whichever ones you want, provided the Leader and Madame approve.’ ‘Leader, Madame,’ began Doctor Lu, ‘I committed a grave error yesterday. Thanks to the Leader’s magnanimity, my life has been spared and—’ ‘Please don’t keep harping on about what happened yesterday,’ said the Leader, waving him aside with a frown. ‘None of you are ever to mention it again.’

陆高轩道:“是,多谢教主。属下想跟随白龙使同去,托赖教主与夫人洪福,或能为教主立些微功,稍表属下感激之诚。”洪教主点头道:“陆高轩智谋深沉,武功高强,笔下更十分来得,一篇文章做得四平八稳。很好,很好,你跟随白龙使同去便了。”陆高轩寻思:“他说‘一篇文章做得四平八稳’,杜撰碣文之事,他早就心中雪亮。”
Thank you, Leader,’ said Doctor Lu. ‘What I was wanting to say was, I should like to go with the White Dragon Marshal myself. It would be a way of showing my gratitude.’ ‘You are certainly a resourceful and cool-headed person,’ replied the Leader. ‘And adept with both sword and pen. You know how to cobble together a plausible enough text too. Very well, Comrade Lu, you can go with the White Dragon Marshal,’ Doctor Lu pondered that phrase of the Leader’s about cobbling together a text. It appeared the Leader knew only too well that the inscription was a forgery.

胖头陀说道:“启禀教主、夫人,属下也愿随同白龙使去北京为教主办事。”教主点了点头,见黄龙使也欲自告奋勇,说道:“人数多了,只怕泄漏行藏,就是你们两个同去。一切行止,全听白龙使的号令,不得有违。”陆高轩和胖头陀躬身说道:“属下遵命。”
‘Leader, Madame,’ said Fat Dhuta, ‘I too am willing to go with the White Dragon Marshal to Peking and render you service,’ The Leader nodded his approval. Then he noticed that the Yellow Dragon Marshal was about to offer as well. ‘We can’t have too many people going, or we will give the whole thing away. Only Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta. The two of you are to act on the White Dragon Marshal’s orders.’ ‘Yes, Leader!’ Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta bowed.

洪夫人从怀中取出一条小龙,五色斑斓,是青铜、黄金、赤铜、白银、黑铁铸成,说道:“白龙使,这是教主的五龙令,暂且交你执掌。教下数万教众,见此令有如亲见教主。为了干办大事,付你生杀大权。立功之后,将令缴回。”韦小宝应道:“是。”双手恭恭敬敬的接过,心下发愁:“我只盼一回北京,再也不去理他什么神龙教、恶虎教。拿了她这个‘五龙令’,从此麻烦可多得紧了。”洪夫人道:“白龙使与陆高轩、胖头陀三人暂留,余人退去。”无根道人和黑龙使、黄龙使三人行礼退出。
Madame then produced a miniature dragon from her bosom. It was very colourful, cast from bronze, gold, copper, silver, and iron: the five metals representing the five Branches of the Sect. This is the Leader’s Five Dragon Disc, White Dragon Marshal,’ she said. ‘It’s yours for the time being. When they see it, members of the Sect will obey you just as they do the Leader. It gives you absolute power over their lives. You are to return it when you have completed your mission.’ ‘Yes,’ replied Trinket, accepting the disc respectfully in both hands. Trinket had fresh worries on his mind. Originally he had thought he could forget about the Mystic Dragon Sect once he had returned to Peking. But now that he had this Five Dragon Disc, he would probably be in for a whole lot more trouble. ‘White Dragon Marshal, Doctor Lu, and Fat Dhuta, I want you to stay here for a while,’ Madame Hong ordered. The rest of you may leave.’ Rootless, Black Dragon, and Yellow Dragon saluted and left.

洪教主从身边取出一个黑色瓷瓶,倒了三颗朱红色的药丸出来,说道:“三人奋勇赴北京干事,本座甚是嘉许,各赐‘豹胎易筋丸’一枚。”胖头陀和陆高轩脸上登时现出又是喜欢、又是惊惧的神色,屈右膝谢赐,接过药丸,吞入肚中。韦小宝依样葫芦,跟着照做,接过“豹胎易筋丸”,当即吞服,过不多时,便觉腹中有股热烘烘气息升将上来,缓缓随着血行,散入四肢百骸之中,说不出的舒服。洪夫人道:“白龙使暂留,余人退去。”胖头陀和陆高轩二人退了出去。
The Leader now produced a black porcelain bottle, and tipped out three bright red pills. To reward your courage in undertaking this Peking mission,’ he said, ‘I now bestow on each of you a Leopard Embryo Pill.’ A combined expression of delight and awe suddenly entered the faces of Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu. They bent their right knees to thank the Leader, then each of them took his pill and swallowed it. Trinket copied their actions exactly. Seconds after swallowing his pill, he felt a wave of warmth rising from the pit of his stomach, circulating slowly through his bloodstream and diffusing an indescribably pleasant sensation of well-being throughout his entire body. ‘White Dragon Marshal, stay for a while,’ Madame Hong commanded. ‘You two may leave.’ Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu retreated from the inner hall. Three Beauties and Three Heroes

洪夫人微笑道:“白龙使,你使什么兵刃?”韦小宝道:“属下武艺低微,没学过什么兵器,只有一把匕首防身。”洪夫人道:“给我瞧瞧。”
Madame Hong gave one of her disarming smiles. ‘What weapons do you normally use, White Dragon?’ she said. ‘I’ve only ever learned how to use my dagger,’ he replied. ‘Show it to me.’

韦小宝从靴中拔出匕首,倒转剑柄,双手呈上。洪夫人接过一看,赞道:“好匕首!”拔下一根头发,放开了手,那根头发缓缓落上刃锋,断为两截。教主也赞了声:“好!”韦小宝为人别的没什么长处,于钱财器物却看得极轻,眼见洪夫人对这匕首十分欢喜,心想要拍马屁,就须拍个十足,说道:“这柄匕首,属下献给夫人。常言道得好:胭脂、宝剑,都要……都要献给佳人。天下的佳人,再也没有佳过夫人的了。”他曾听说书先生说过多次,什么“宝剑赠烈士,红粉赠佳人”,毕竟这两句话太难,不易记得清楚。
Trinket extracted the dagger from his boot, and held it out, handle first, to Madame Hong. ‘A fine weapon!’ She pulled out one of her hairs and passed it lightly over the blade, which sliced it clean in two. The Great Leader made an approving noise. Trinket, ever quick to see an opportunity for ingratiating himself, immediately offered his dagger to Madame Hong as a present. ‘A fine dagger such as this needs a beautiful owner,’ he said, vaguely remembering some storyteller’s proverb. ‘And where could it find a more beautiful owner than you?’

洪夫人格格娇笑,说道:“好孩子,你对我们忠心,可不是空口说白话。我没什么好东西给你,怎能要孩子的物事?你这番心意,我可多谢了。来,我传你三招防身保命的招式,叫做‘美人三招’,你记住了。”她走下座来,取出一块手帕,将匕首缚在自己右足小腿外侧,笑道:“教主,劳你的大驾,演一下武功。”洪教主笑嘻嘻的缓步走近,突然左手一伸,抓住了夫人后领,将她身子提在半空。
Madame Hong simpered. ‘What a dear boy! Come here, I’ll teach you something very special in return. Three kungfu moves. They are known as the Three Beauties.’ She took out a silken handkerchief and used it to bind the dagger to her right calf. Then she turned to the Great Leader. ‘Would you be so kind as to demonstrate the moves, Leader?’ The Leader graciously stepped forward. Suddenly, he shot out his left hand, gripped Madame Hong by the back of her neck, and hoisted her up into mid-air.

这一下实在太快,韦小宝吃了一惊,“啊”的一声,叫了出来。洪夫人身子微曲,纤腰轻扭,左足反踢,向教主小腹踹去。教主后缩相避,洪夫人顺势反过身来,左手搂住教主头颈,右手竟已握住了匕首,剑尖对准了教主后心,笑道:“这是第一招,叫做‘贵妃回眸’,你记住了。”这几下干净利落,韦小宝看得心旷神怡,大声喝彩,叫道:“妙极!”心想:“那日我给胖头陀抓着提起,半点法子也没有,倘若早学了这招,一剑已刺死了他。”教主将洪夫人身子轻轻横放在地。洪夫人又将匕首插入小腿之侧,翻身卧倒。教主伸出右足,虚踏她后腰,手中假装持刀架住她头颈,笑道:“投不投降?”
Trinket’s breath was taken away by the sheer speed of the move. Madame Hong now twisted herself around, and kicked out with her right foot against the Leader’s stomach. He in turn pulled back, and she then curved into the hollow made by his withdrawal, throwing her left arm around his neck and taking hold of her dagger with her right hand, pressing the point of it against the small of his back. That move is known as the Twirling Princess!’ Trinket clapped his hands in delight. The Leader gently lowered Madame Hong to the ground. She replaced the dagger, did a quick little somersault, and landed prostrate on the ground. The Leader now thrust his right foot forward, placed it above her back, and made as if to point his sword against the back of her neck. ‘Surrender?’

韦小宝心想:“到这地步,又有什么法子?自然是大叫投降了。”蓦见夫人的脑袋向着她自己胸口钻落,敌人架在颈中的一刀自然落空,她顺势在地下一个筋斗,在教主胯下钻过,握着匕首的右手成拳,轻轻一拳击在教主后心,只是剑尖向上。倘若当真对敌,这一剑自然插入了敌人背心。韦小宝又大叫一声:“好!”
Just as Trinket thought she must have no other option, Madame Hong moved her head to the side and the Leader found himself thrusting into empty space. Another somersault and she had flipped between the Leader’s legs and was holding the dagger at his back again. ‘Excellent kungfu!’ cried Trinket.

教主待她插回匕首后,将她双手反剪,左手拿住她双手手腕,右手虚执兵器,架在她的肤光白腻头颈之中,笑道:“这一次你总逃不了啦。”夫人笑道:“看仔细了!”右足向前轻踢,白光闪动,那匕首已割断她小腿上缚住的手帕,脱了出来。她右足顺势一勾,在匕首柄上一点,那匕首陡地向她咽喉疾射过去。韦小宝惊叫:“小心!”只见她身子向下一缩,那匕首急射教主胸口。教主放开她手,仰天一个铁板桥,扑的一声,匕首在他胸口掠过,直插入身后的竹墙,直没至柄。洪夫人勾脚倒踢匕首,韦小宝已然吓了一大跳,待见那匕首射向她咽喉,她在间不容发之际避开,匕首又射向教主胸口,这一下势在必中,教主竟又避开。这几下险到了极处的奇变,只瞧得他目瞪口呆,心惊胆战,喉头那一个“好”字,竟叫不出来。洪夫人笑问:“怎样?”韦小宝伸手抓住椅背,似欲跌倒,道:“可吓死我了。”

洪教主洪安通和夫人见他脸色苍白,吓得厉害,听了他这句话,那比之一千句、一万句颂扬更是欢喜。他二人武功高强,多一个孩子的称赞亦不足喜,但他如此担心,足见对二人之忠。洪夫人明知故问:“匕首又不是向你射来,怕什么了?”韦小宝道:“我怕……怕伤了夫人和……和教主。”洪夫人笑道:“傻孩子,哪有这么容易便伤到教主了?这一招叫做‘飞燕回翔’,挺不易练。教主神功盖世,就算他事先不知,这一招也伤他不着。但世上除了教主之外,能够躲得过这出其不意一击的,恐怕也没几个。”当下将这“美人三招”的练法细细说给他听,虽说只是三招,可是全身四肢,无一处没有关联,如何拔剑,如何低头,快慢部位,劲力准头,皆须拿捏得恰到好处。那第二招卧地转身,叫做“小怜横陈”。洪夫人又道:“这‘美人三招’,用的都是古代美人的名字,男人学了,未免有些不雅,好在你是孩子,也不打紧。”

韦小宝一招一式的跟着学,洪夫人细心纠正,直教了一个多时辰,才算是教会了,但真要能使,自非再要长期苦练不可,尤其第三招“飞燕回翔”,稍有错失,便杀了自己。洪夫人教他去打造一柄钝头的铅剑,大小重量须和匕首一模一样,以作练习之用。

They carried on with this breathtaking display, demonstrating the second Beauty, named after another Princess, and then the third, known as the Princess Flying Swallow, a series of hair-raising (and deadly) moves in which Madame Hong came so close to slicing through the Leader’s throat that she had Trinket gripping the back of his chair in suspense. Madame Hong went through the intricate details of the Three Beauties for Trinket’s benefit, and the Leader helped him to practise them. Flying Swallow was a particularly dangerous move to execute. The slightest mistake could result in self-destruction.

洪安通在教众之前,威严端重,不苟言笑,但此时一直陪着夫人教招,笑嘻嘻的在旁瞧着,竟然极有耐心,待夫人教毕,说道:“夫人的‘美人三招’自是十分厉害,只不过中者必死。我来教你‘英雄三招’,旨在降服敌人,死活由心。”韦小宝大喜,跪了下来,道:“叩谢教主。”洪夫人笑道:“我可从没听你有‘英雄三招’,原来你留了教好徒儿,却不教我。”洪安通笑道:“这是刚才瞧了你的美人三招,临时想出来的,现制现卖,也不知成不成。你给我指点指点。”洪夫人横了他一眼,媚笑道:“啊哟,我们大教主取笑人啦。”洪安通道:“自来英雄难过美人关,英雄三招,当然敌不过美人三招。”洪夫人又是一阵媚笑,娇声道:“在孩子面前,也跟我说这些风话。”
The Leader seemed in high spirits. ‘Now it’s my turn! I too should like to teach you three moves. Mine are called the Three Heroes. The Three Beauties are designed to kill. Mine are designed to make your enemy surrender.’ ‘You never mentioned your Three Heroes to me before!’ complained Madame Hong. ‘I made them up just now as I was watching you do the Three Beauties. I’d like to test them out. You can be my judge.’ Madame Hong cast him a quizzical glance. ‘Our Leader does seem in a jolly mood today!’ ‘Even the greatest Hero was never a match for Beauty—such as yours.’ Madame Hong gave a little laugh, and purred: ‘Please! Not in front of the boy!’

洪安通自觉有些失态,咳嗽一声,庄容说道:“白龙使年纪小,与人动手,极易给人抓住后颈,一把提起。夫人,你就将我当作是白龙使好了。”洪夫人笑道:“你可不能弄痛人家。”洪安通道:“这个自然。”洪夫人左手伸出,抓住他身子提了起来。洪安通身材魁梧,看来总有一百七八十斤。洪夫人娇怯怯的模样,居然毫不费力的一把便将他提起。洪安通道:“看仔细了!”左手慢慢反转,在夫人左腋底搔了一把。洪夫人格格一笑,身子软了下来。洪安通左手拿住她腋下,右手慢慢回转,抓住她领口,缓缓举起她身子,过了自己头顶,轻轻往外摔出。洪夫人身子一着地,便淌了出去,如在水面滑溜飘行。洪夫人笑声不停,身子停住后,仍斜卧地下,并不站起。
The Leader cleared his throat. ‘Now, I want you to pretend that I am the White Dragon Marshal.’ Madame Hong reached out her left hand and lifted the Leader off the ground—all two hundred pounds of him. It seemed to cost her no effort at all. ‘On guard!’ cried the Leader. He turned his left hand slowly and gave Madame Hong a tickle under the left armpit. She began laughing and the strength went out of her at once. She lowered him to the ground. He then gripped her round the neck with both hands, lifted her up into the air, and threw her over his shoulder. It was all done slowly and effortlessly. Trinket watched it all, and found it unbelievably graceful. The Leader’s kungfu was majestic, it was nothing short of transcendental. It made Madame Hong’s seem elementary. Madame Hong stood up and gave a little laugh.

适才洪安通搔她腋底,反手擒拿,抛掷过顶,每一下都使得极慢,韦小宝看得清清楚楚,见他姿式优美,说不出的好看,行动虽慢,仍是节拍爽利,指搔掌握,落点奇准,比之洪夫人的出手迅捷,显然又更难了几倍。洪夫人笑道:“你胳肢人家,那是什么英雄了。”说着慢慢站起。洪安通微笑道:“这招在真正英雄好汉手中,自然不会来搔你痒。可是白龙使倘若给敌人提起,定是颈下‘大椎穴’给一把抓住,那是手足三阳督脉之会,全身使不出力道,只好去轻搔敌人腋底‘极泉穴’,这穴属手少阳心经,敌人非松手不可。白龙使有了力气,便能甩敌过顶,一摔之际,同时拿闭了敌人肘后‘小海穴’和腋下‘极泉穴’。将他摔在地下,他已然动弹不得。”韦小宝拍手笑道:“这一招果然妙极。”洪安通道:“你熟练之后,出招自是越快越好。”他跟着俯伏地下,洪夫人伸足重重踏住了他后腰,右手取过倚在门边的门闩,架在他颈中,娇声笑道:“你投不投降?”
That was for the benefit of White Dragon,’ said the Leader. ‘If he ever finds himself in a Ex, he can get himself out of it by light pressure—it doesn’t have to be tickling—on the Ultimate Source point beneath the armpit. That Vital Point connects directly through the Lesser Yang meridian with the heart. First his opponent will lose his grip. Then if White Dragon is feeling strong he can try the throw—using slight pressure to close the Little Ocean and Ultimate Source points as he does so. That way he’ll have his enemy on the ground and immobilized.’ Trinket clapped his hands in delight Now the Leader lay face down on the ground and asked Madame Hong to tread on him, placing one foot on the small of his back. Meanwhile, with her right hand she took a wooden door-bar that was leaning against the wall, and held it to the back of his neck. ‘Surrender?’

洪安通笑道:“我早就投降了!我向你磕头。”双腿一缩,似欲跪拜,右臂却慢慢横掠而出,碰到门闩,喀喇一声响,门闩竟尔断折。韦小宝吓了一跳,他手臂倘若急速挥出,以他武功,击断门闩并不希奇,但如此缓缓的和门闩一碰,居然也将门闩震断,却大出意料之外。洪安通道:“你缩腿假装向人叩头,乘势取出匕首。你手上虽没我的内力,但你的匕首锋利异常,敌人任何兵器都可一削而断。”他口中解说,突然间一个筋斗,向洪夫人胯下钻去。韦小宝一怔,心想他以教主之尊,怎地从女子胯下钻过?虽然是他的妻子,似乎总是不妥。哪知洪安通并非真的钻过,只一作势,左手已抓住夫人右脚足踝,右手虚点她小腹,道:“这是削铁如泥的匕首,敌人便有天大的胆子,也不敢挣扎。”说着慢慢站起。洪夫人头下脚上,给他倒提起来,笑道:“快放手,成什么样子?”
The Leader laughed. ‘I already have! Now I will kowtow to you.’ He made as if to kneel before her, but at the same time stealthily reached out with his right forearm and lowered it very slowly onto the door-bar. There was a crunching sound and the bar snapped in two. Trinket was astonished at the sheer force in that slow, almost imperceptible movement. ‘You won’t have my strength,’ commented the Leader, ‘but you can use that special dagger of yours.’ Next he did a sudden somersault between Madame Hong’s legs. It was only a feint, though. The next instant he had her by the ankles, twirled her round, and raised her into the air so that she was to all intents and purposes standing on her head. ‘Put me down!’ she cried. ‘What are you doing?’

洪安通哈哈大笑,右手搂住她腰,放直她身子,说道:“白龙使,你身材矮小,不能倒提敌人,那么抓住他足踝一拖,就算拖他不起,匕首指住他小腹,敌人也只好投降。那时你便得在他胸口‘神藏’‘神封’‘步廊’等要穴踢上几脚,防他反击。”韦小宝大喜,道:“是,是!这几脚是非踢不可的。”洪安通双平反负背后,让夫人拿住,洪夫人拿着半截门闩,架在他颈中。洪安通笑道:“敌人拿住我双手,自然扣住我手腕脉门,教我手上无力。难以反击。当此情景,本来只好用脚……”他话未说完,洪夫人“啊”的一声,笑着放手,跳了开去,满脸通红,道:“不能教孩子使这种下流招数。”
He gave a loud laugh. ‘White Dragon, you’re too small to do this one. But you could try dragging your opponent along the floor instead, and then use that dagger of yours. Then kick him on three Vital Points in the chest—the Reservoir of the Soul, the Seal of the Soul, and the Walkway—to prevent him from any sort of retaliatory move.’ Trinket liked the sound of that. Next, for the third Hero, the Leader proceeded to place both his hands behind his back, and invited Madame Hong to attack him again. She moved behind him, seized hold of his wrists with one hand, and, taking one of the broken halves of the door-bar in her free hand, rammed it against his neck. ‘Now she’s got me in a very dangerous clinch!’ said the Leader with a cunning smile. ‘With the slightest pressure on my wrists, she can drain me of my strength. So . . .’ Trinket heard Madame Hong let out a little cry, then laugh and let go of the Leader’s wrists. She jumped clear, her face flushed. That’s a dirty move! Not in front of the boy, please!’

洪安通笑道:“‘撩阴腿’哪里是下流招数了?”正色说道:“下阴是人身要害。中者立毙,即是名门大派的拳脚之中,也往往有‘撩阴腿’这一招,少林派有,武当派也有,不足为奇。不过敌人在你背后,你双手被制,颈中架刀,只好使‘反撩阴腿’。”说到这里,顿了一顿,又道:“但敌人也必早防到你这一着,见你腿动,多半一刀先将你的小脑袋砍了下来。因此撩阴反踢这招便用不着。”他这时双臂反在背后,给洪夫人抓住了手腕,突然双手十指弯起,各成半球之形,身子向后一撞,十指便抓向洪夫人胸部。洪夫人向后急缩,放脱了他手腕,啐道:“这又是什么英雄招式了?”
The Leader laughed. ‘What’s dirty about the Groin Flip?”» He continued in a serious tone of voice. The sexual organs are, of course, among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of the human body. Every school of kungfu has a move like this, even the Shaolin and the Wudang schools. But what I did just now was the Inverted Groin Flip. I had to, because of the grip she had me in.’ He paused for a moment. ‘Of course, your opponent may anticipate the move, and try stabbing you in the back of the head. In that case you have to try something a little different. . .’ Once again he put his hands behind his back and let Madame Hong hold him by the wrists. Suddenly he tensed his fingers and poked them into her breasts. She recoiled, crying: ‘Very heroic!’

洪安通微微一笑,道:“人身胸口‘乳中’‘乳根’两穴,不论男女,都是致命大穴。白龙使,那人既能将你双手反剪握住,武功自是不低,何况多半已拿住你手腕穴道,就算给你抓中了,本来也不要紧,但他一见你使出这等手势,自然而然的会向后一缩,待得想起你手上使不出力道,已然迟了一步。夫人,你再来抓住我双手。”洪夫人走上两步,轻轻在他反剪的手背上打了一记,然后伸左手握住他双手手腕,上身后仰,不让他手指碰到自己胸口。洪安通道:“看仔细了!”背脊后撞,十指向洪夫人胸口虚抓。洪夫人明知他这一抓是虚势,还是缩身避让。洪安通突然一个倒翻筋斗,身子跃起,双腿一分,已跨在她肩头,同时双手拇指压住她太阳穴,食指按眉,中指按眼,说道:“中指使力,戳瞎敌人眼睛,拇指使力,压令敌人昏晕。但须防人反击。”又是一个空心筋斗,倒翻出去,远远跃出丈余,右手在小腿边一摸,装作摸出匕首,匕尖向外,左掌斜举,说道:“敌人的眼睛如给你这样一下戳瞎了,再扑上来势道定然厉害无比,须防他抱住了你牢牢不放。”
The Leader smiled. ‘There are two deadly Vital Points on the chest: the Nipple Centre, and the Nipple Root. Both men and women have them.’ Again he invited Madame Hong to come at him and seize him by the wrists. This time, having feinted another lunge at her breasts, he did a somersault, leapt into the air and ended up on her shoulders with his thumbs pressing her Greater Yang point, h’is index fingers on her brow, and his middle fingers on her eyes. Another backwards somersault, and he landed about ten feet clear of her.

韦小宝见这一招甚为繁复,宛似马戏班中小丑逗趣一般,可是闪避敌刃、制敌要害,的具显效,叹道:“这一招真好,可就难练得紧了。”
Trinket was hugely impressed. This was like being at the circus. But it all looked much too hard for him, and he said so.

洪安通道:“我教你的虽只三招,但其中包含擒拿、打穴、轻身三门功夫,有一项练得不到家,这三招便使不出。说到擒拿、打穴、轻身,每一项都须十年八年之功。但你只学跟这三招相干的,那便容易得多。”当下指点了穴道部位、擒拿手法、轻身腿劲,与他拆解数遍,演得不对便一一校正。只是韦小宝不敢骑到他头颈中去,洪安通也没教他试练。洪夫人道:“教主,我这美人三招是师父所授,当年经过千锤百炼的改正。你这英雄三招却是临时兴之所至,随意创制,比之我的美人三招又更厉害得多。不是当面捧你,大宗师武学渊深,实在令人拜服。”
‘The three moves I’ve just shown you,’ said the Leader, ‘involve three main branches of kungfu: Catch-Can, Striking the Points, and what we call Flying. Each branch takes between eight and ten years to learn, if you want to master them properly. But if all you want to do is learn enough to do these three moves, that’s a lot easier.’ He proceeded to break the moves down into their individual components, and took Trinket through them, patiently correcting any mistakes he made. The one part he did not dare try was jumping up onto the Leader’s shoulders. ‘Leader,’ said Madame Hong, ‘my Three Beauties took me years of instruction from my Shifu, and years of practice; you made up your Three Heroes in a few minutes. And yet they are more deadly than mine! You are truly a Great Master!’

洪安通抱拳笑道:“夫人谬赞,可不敢当。”昨日韦小宝在大厅之上,见他不言不笑,形若木偶,心下对他很有点瞧不起,早就在想:“这样一个呆木头般的老家伙,大家何必对他怕成这个样子?”此刻见到他的真实功夫,那才死心塌地的佩服,说道:“把师父教的功夫练得纯熟,那不算希奇,教主心里要出什么新招,就随手使了出来,那才真是天下无敌了。”洪夫人问道:“为什么天下无敌?”韦小宝道:“敌人本事再大,教主使几下新招出去,他认也不认得,自然只好大叫投降。”洪安通和夫人齐声大笑。一个微微点头,一个道:“说得不错。”洪夫人又道:“教主,我这美人三招有三个美人的名字,你这英雄三招如此厉害,也得有三位大英雄的名头才是。”
The Leader acknowledged her compliment with a modest clasping of his hands. The previous day in the great assembly, Trinket had been very unimpressed by the Leader. This acrobatic display had completely changed his opinion. ‘Leader,’ said Madame Hong, ‘my Beauties have names. What about your Heroes?’

洪安通微笑道:“好,我来想想。第一招是将敌人举了起来,那是临潼会伍子胥举鼎,叫做‘子胥举鼎’。”洪夫人道:“好,伍子胥是大英雄。”洪安通道:“第二招将敌人倒提而起,那是鲁智深倒拔垂杨柳,叫做‘鲁达拔柳’。”洪夫人道:“很好,鲁智深是大英雄。你这第三招虽然巧妙,不过有点儿无赖浪子的味道,似乎不大英雄……”说到这里,格格娇笑。洪安通笑道:“怎么会不大英雄?叫个什么招式好呢?嗯,我两根食指扣住你眉毛,这叫做‘张敞画眉’。”洪夫人笑道:“张敞又不是英雄,给夫人画眉,难道也算是英雄的一招?”洪安通笑道:“闺房之乐,有甚于画眉者。你说给夫人画眉不是英雄?”洪夫人红晕双颊,摇了摇头。

韦小宝不知张敞是什么古人,心想给老婆画眉毛,非但不是英雄,简直是个怕老婆的孱汉,他也不懂洪安通掉文,乃是在跟妻子调笑,说道:“教主,你这一招骑在敌人头颈里,骑马的大英雄可多得很,关云长骑赤兔马,秦叔宝骑黄骠马。”洪安通笑道:“对,不过关云长的赤兔马本来是吕布的,秦琼又将黄骠马卖了,都不大贴切。有了,这一招是狄青降龙驹宝马,叫做‘狄青降龙’,他降服的那匹宝马,本来是龙变的。”洪夫人拍手笑道:“好极!狄青上阵戴个青铜鬼脸儿,只吓得番邦兵将大呼小叫,落荒而逃,那自然是位大英雄。只不过咱们叫做神龙教……”洪教主微笑道:“不相干,就算是龙,也有给人收伏得服服帖帖的时候。”洪夫人“呸”的一声,满脸红晕,眼中水汪汪地满是媚态。

‘Yes, I’d better think of some,’ replied the Leader. He quickly coined three appropriately heroic names for them, slipping in a little sexual innuendo which seemed to cause Madame Hong both embarassment and pleasure.

当下韦小宝又将“美人三招”和“英雄三招”一一试演,手法身法不对的,洪安通和夫人再加指点。这六招功夫甚是巧妙,韦小宝一时之间自难学会。洪教主说不用担心,只消懂了练习的窍门,假以时日,自能纯熟。等得教毕,已是中午时分了。
Trinket spent some time practising both sets of moves, and the Leader and Madame Hong gave him some more coaching. This lasted until midday.

洪夫人坚决不收匕首,还了给韦小宝,说道:“你武功还没练好,这次去为教主办事,须得这等利器防身。”又道:“白龙使,本教之中,能得教主亲自点拔功夫的,除我之外,便是你一个了。”韦小宝道:“那不知是属下几生修来的福气。”洪夫人道:“你当忠心给教主办事,以报答教主的恩德。”韦小宝道:“是。”洪夫人道:“你这就去罢,明天一早和胖头陀,陆高轩他们乘船出发,不用再来告辞了。”韦小宝答应了,向二人恭恭敬敬的行礼,转身出门,走到门边,回头道:“夫人,如果我活到八十岁,那时教主和夫人再各教我三招,好不好?”

洪夫人微微一怔,随即明白这里他善祷善颂,他现下不过十四五岁,到八十岁还有六十几年,但教主和自己是寿与天齐,再活六十几岁自是应有之义,嘻嘻一笑,说道:“我答应你了。你八十岁生日,教主和我再各传你三招。等到你一百岁大寿,我们又各传三招,叫做‘老寿星三招’、‘老婆婆三招’。”韦小宝道:“不,夫人那时仍跟今日一样年轻美丽,多半你和教主更年轻了,传我的是……是……‘金童三招’,‘玉女三招’。”洪安通和夫人哈哈大笑。

Madame Hong insisted on giving Trinket back his dagger, saying that he might need it on his mission to the Palace. ‘You are the only person that the Leader has taught kungfu, apart from myself! It is a great honour. You must serve him loyally.’ Trinket acknowledged his great blessing. Tomorrow you can set off by ship with Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta. You can say your goodbyes now.’ Trinket did so, and walked out to find the others. Leopard Embryo Pills

胖头陀和陆高轩两人坐在厅外山石上等了甚久,始终不见韦小宝出厅,惊疑不定,不知有什么变故,待见他笑容满脸的出来,才放了心。两人想问,又不敢问。韦小宝道:“教主和夫人传了我不少精妙的武功。”
All this time Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu were sitting in the rockery outside the hall waiting and wondering if something untoward might have happened to Trinket. Not until they saw him walk out with a grin on his face did they set their minds at rest. ‘The Leader and Madame Hong have taught me some excellent kungfu!’ ‘Congratulations, White Dragon Marshal!’ said Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu together. ‘Such an honour!’

胖头陀和陆高轩齐声道:“恭喜白龙使。本教之中,除了夫人之外,从未有人得教主传过一招半式。”韦小宝洋洋得意,道:“教主也这么说。”陆高轩道:“白龙使得教主宠幸,实是本教创教以来,从所未有。”向胖头它望了一眼,问韦小宝道:“教主和夫人可曾说起,何时赐给我们‘豹胎易筋丸’的解药。”韦小宝奇道:“这‘豹胎易筋丸’还得有解药吗?难道……难道……这是毒药?”陆高轩道:“也不能这么说,咱们回家详谈。”向竹厅瞧了几眼,脸上大有戒慎恐惧之色。三人回到陆家,韦小宝见胖陆二人神色郁郁,心下起疑,问道:“这‘豹胎易筋丸’是怎么一回事?到底是毒药还是灵丹?”胖头陀叹道:“是毒药是灵丹,那也得走瞧呢!咱三人的性命,全在白龙使的掌握之中了。”韦小宝一惊,问道:“为什么?”胖头陀向陆高轩瞧去,陆高轩点了点头。
‘I know,’ replied Trinket in a tone of joyful pride. ‘Did they mention when they would grant us the antidote for the Leopard Embryo Pills?’ ‘Antidote?’ asked Trinket curiously. ‘Are you … are you . . . saying that the pills are a kind of poison?’ ‘Not exactly,’ said Doctor Lu, looking fearfully back at the bamboo structure. ‘Let’s talk about it when we get home.’ As the three of them walked to the doctor’s home, Trinket could not help noticing how miserable the two of them looked. ‘What’s up with these Leopard Pills?’ he asked, when they had arrived. ‘Are they a poison, or a magic elixir, or what?’ Fat Dhuta heaved a sigh. ‘We’ll have to wait and see! But our lives are entirely in your hands.’ ‘Why?’ asked Trinket, greatly perplexed. Fat Dhuta gave Doctor Lu a questioning glance. The doctor nodded.

胖头陀道:“白龙使,人家客气的,叫我胖尊者,不怎么客气的,叫我胖头陀。可是我瘦得这般模样,全然名不副实,你是不是觉得有点儿奇怪?”韦小宝道:“是啊。我早在奇怪,猜想人家跟著开玩笑,才这样叫的,可是教主也叫你胖头陀,他老人家可不会取笑你啊。”胖头陀叹了口长气,道:“我服了豹胎易筋丸,这是第二次了,那真是死去活来,现在还常常做噩梦。我本来很矮很胖,胖头陀三字,名不虚传。”韦小宝道:“啊,一服豹胎易筋丸,你就变得又高又瘦了?那好得很啊,你现在相貌堂堂,威武之极,从前是个矮胖子,一定不及现在神气。”胖头陀苦笑,说道:“话是不错,可是你想想,一个矮胖子,在三个月之内,身子忽然拉长了三尺,全身皮肤鲜血淋漓,这番滋味好不好受?若不是运气好,终于回归神龙岛,教主又大发慈悲,给了解药,我只怕还得再高两尺。”
‘Hasn’t it ever struck you as strange, White Dragon,’ continued Fat Dhuta, ‘that everyone calls me Fat Dhuta, when I’m so skinny?’ ‘Oh yes, I thought it was strange ages ago,’ replied Trinket. ‘I guessed it was some kind of joke. But I don’t think the Leader is the joking type.’ Fat Dhuta heaved a long sigh. ‘This is my second dose of the pills. Last time was such a terrible experience, I still have nightmares about it. You see, I used to be short and fat,’ ‘Oh I get it!’ said Trinket. ‘You mean the first pill made you tall and thin? But that’s great! I’m sure you’re much better looking now than you used to be!’ ‘In theory, perhaps,’ said Fat Dhuta with a bitter smile. ‘But can you imagine how terrible it is to be stretched three feet in three months, till every inch of your skin is oozing blood? I would have been a couple of feet taller still if I hadn’t, by a stroke of luck, returned to the island and been granted a dose of the antidote by our merciful Leader.’

韦小宝不禁骇然,道:“咱们三人也服了这药丸,我再高两尺,还不打紧,你如再高两尺,那……那可未免太高了。”胖头陀道:“这豹胎易筋丸药效甚是灵奇,服下一年之内,能令人强身健体,但若一年满期,不服解药,其中猛烈之极的毒性发作出来。却也不一定是拉高人的身子,我师哥瘦头陀本来极高,却忽然矮了下去,他本来极瘦,却变得肿胀不堪,十足成了个大胖子。”韦小宝笑道:“你胖尊者变瘦尊者,瘦尊者变胖尊者,两人只消对掉名字,岂不是什么事都没有了?”胖头陀脸上微有怒色,摇头道:“不成的。”韦小宝道歉:“对不起,胖尊者,我说错了,请勿见怪。”
Trinket suddenly started. ‘But now we’ve all taken the pills! ,’ don’t mind being a couple of feet taller, but you two . . . you’ll both be way too tall if you grow even a few more centimetres.’ This Leopard Pill is a miraculous medicine,’ said the Dhuta. ‘It can make you very healthy and strong, but if after a year you don’t take some antidote, the poisonous ingredients in the pill gradually come into effect. It doesn’t necessarily make you taller. My brother-in-arms, Thin Dhuta, used to be extremely tall and thin; now he’s all swollen and fat,’ ‘All you need to do is swap names,’ said Trinket with a smile, ‘and everything will be fine!’ Fat Dhuta shook his head. That wouldn’t be any good.’ He sounded almost angry. Trinket hastened to apologize. ‘Fat Dhuta, I’m really sorry! I said a stupid thing. Don’t be mad at me!’

胖头陀道:“你执掌五龙令,我是下属,就算打我骂我,我也不会反抗,何况这句话也不是有意损人。我和师兄二人脾气性格,相貌声音,全然大不相同,单是一胖一瘦换个名字,并不能让胖尊才变瘦尊者,瘦尊者变胖尊者。”韦小宝点头道:“原来如此。”
‘How could I be angry?’ said Fat Dhuta. ‘You have the Five Dragon Disc. I must always obey you. And anyway, I know you meant no harm. It’s just that my brother-in-arms and I are two different people—we look different, we sound different, we have entirely different personalities. Changing my name would never turn me into Thin Dhuta, or him into Fat Dhuta.’ ‘I understand.’ Trinket nodded.

胖头陀续道:“五年之前,教主派我和师哥去办一件事。这件事十分棘手,等到办成,已过期三天,立即上船回岛,在船里药性已经发作,苦楚难当。师哥脾气暴躁,狂性大发,将船上桅杆一脚踢断了,这艘船例在大海中漂流,日子一天天过去,我越来越高,越来越瘦,他偏越来越矮,越来越胖。这豹胎易筋丸能将矮胖之人拉成瘦长,高瘦之人压成矮胖,洪教主也当真神通广大之至。这样漂流了两个多月,只道两人再也难以活命。船上粮食吃完,我们将梢公水手一个个杀来吃,幸好侥天之幸,碰上了另一艘船,才得遇救,我们逼著那船立即驶来神龙岛。教主见事情办得妥当,我们又不是故意耽搁,便赐了解药,我们这两条性命才算捡了回来。”
Fat Dhuta continued: ‘Five years ago, our Leader sent me and Thin Dhuta on a very difficult mission. By the time we’d completed it, it was already three days beyond the due date. We travelled back to the island by ship as quickly as we could, but the poison had already started to work. The pain was unbearable. My brother-in-arms has a very hot temper. In a fit of rage he kicked the mast of the ship and broke it. After that our ship drifted aimlessly on the ocean. Days passed, and with every day I became taller and thinner, while he became shorter and fatter. We drifted for two months, and gradually ran out of food. So first we killed the captain, then the sailors one by one, and ate them. Luckily, we met another ship and were saved. We made them take us straight to Mystic Dragon Island. Once the Leader knew that we had completed our mission, and had not meant to return late, he gave us the antidote and spared our lives. But it was too late,’

韦小宝越听越惊,转头向陆高轩瞧去,见他脸色郑重,知道胖头陀之言当非虚假,说道:“那么我们在一年之内,定须取得八部《四十二章经》,回归神龙岛了?”陆高轩道:“八部经书一齐取得,自是再好不过,但这谈何容易?只要能取得一两部,及时赶回,教主自然也会赐给解药。”韦小宝心想:“我手中已有六部,当真没奈何时,便分一两部给教主,又有何难?”当即放心,笑道:“这次倘若教主不赐解药,说不定咱们小的变老,老的变小。我变成七八十岁的老公公,你们两却变成了小娃娃,那可有趣得紧。”
Trinket was horrified by Fat Dhuta’s story. He turned to Doctor Lu, whose serious expression confirmed the truth of it. ‘In that case we have exactly a year to find all eight copies of the Sutra and get back to the island?’ ‘Of course, that would be wonderful,’ answered Doctor Lu. ‘But it won’t be so easy. If we can lay our hands on just one or two copies and be back in time, I am sure the Leader will give us the antidote,’ Trinket was thinking to himself: ‘I’ve got six copies of the Sutra already. At a pinch I can give the Leader one or two of mine.’ His sense of panic was instantly dispelled. He laughed. ‘If our Leader doesn’t give us the antidote, maybe I’ll turn into an old grandpa, and you’ll turn into little children. That would be fun!’

陆高轩身子一颤,道:“那……那也并非不能。”语气之中,甚是恐惧,又道:“我潜心思索,这豹胎易筋丸半是以豹胎、鹿胎、紫河车、海狗肾等等大补大发的珍奇药材制炼而成,药性显然是将原来身体上的特点反其道而行之。猜想教主当初制炼此药,是为了返老还童,不过在别人身上一试,药效却不易随心所欲,因此……因此……”韦小宝道:“因此教主自己就不试服,却用在属下身上。”陆高轩忙道:“这是我的猜想,决计作不得准。请白龙使今后千万不可提起。”
Doctor Lu shuddered. ‘I have racked my brains about these pills,’ he commented. They seem to be compounded from a number of rare and extremely powerful ingredients—like leopard and deer embryos, human placenta, and seal kidneys. They have the effect of reversing the body’s existing tendencies. I think our Leader was originally trying to use the drug to reverse the ageing process. But with other people it has turned out to have the most unpredictable results—’ ‘You mean he hasn’t taken the pills himself,’ said Trinket. ‘He’s been testing them out on other people first?’ ‘I’m simply guessing,’ Doctor Lu hastened to reply. ‘It may not be true, so please do not breathe a word about this, White Dragon Marshal.’

韦小宝道:“两位放心,包在我身上,教主定给解药。两位请坐,我去给方姑娘说几句话。”他昨日见到了沐剑屏,急于要告知方怡。陆高轩道:“洪夫人已传了方姑娘去,说请白龙使放心,只要你尽心为教主办事,方姑娘在岛上只有好处。”韦小宝吃了一惊,道:“方……方姑娘不跟我们一起去?”陆高轩道:“洪夫人差人来传了她去,有言留给内人,是这样说的。还说赤龙门的那位沐剑屏沐姑娘也是一样。”韦小宝暗暗叫苦,他刚才跟无根道人说,要在赤龙门中挑选几人同去,其意自然只在沐剑屏,哪知洪夫人早已料到,颤声问道:“夫人……夫人是不放心我?”陆高轩道:“这是本教的规矩,奉命出外替教主办事,不能携带家眷。”韦小宝苦笑道:“这两个姑娘不是我家眷。”陆高轩道:“那也差不多。”韦小宝本来想到明日就可携方沐二女离岛,心下十分欢喜,霎时之间,不由得没精打采,寻思:“教主和夫人果然厉害,豹胎易筋丸箍在我头上还不够,再加上我大小老婆的两道箍子。”
‘Don’t worry,’ said Trinket. ‘I guarantee I’ll be able to get hold of the antidote for you. Trust me! Please wait here a moment. I want to go and talk to Miss Fang.’ He very much wanted to tell Fang Yi that he had seen the Little Countess the day before. But Doctor Lu told him that Madame Hong had already summoned her: ‘She says you are not to worry about Miss Fang’s safety here on the island. Madame Hong sent someone to fetch her, and left my wife a message to this effect. Miss Mu Jianping from the Red Dragon Branch will be staying here as well.’ Trinket groaned to himself. Madame Hong obviously did not trust him. ‘It is one of our rules,’ said Doctor Lu. ‘You cannot take your family with you when you are on a mission.’ ‘But they’re not my family,’ said Trinket with a bitter smile. ‘Almost,’ replied Doctor Lu. Trinket’s hopes of leaving the island with the two girls were completely dashed. The Leader and Madame Hong were not only using drugs to control him; they were taking his two wives hostage as well!

次日清晨,韦小宝刚起身,只听得号角声响,不少人在门外叫道:“白龙门座下弟子,恭送掌门使出征,为教主忠心办事。”跟著鼓乐丝竹响起。韦小形容词抢出门去,只见门外排著三四百人,一色白衣,有老有少。众人齐声高呼:“掌门使旗开得胜,马到成功!”其后有数十名青衣教衣,是来相送代掌门使胖头陀的。韦小宝自觉神气,登时精神一振,带同胖头陀、陆高轩二人,便即上船。正在和前来适行的无根道人、张淡月、殷锦等人行礼作别,忽听得马蹄声响,两骑马驰到船边。马上两人都身穿白衣,竟是方怡和沐剑屏二女。韦小宝大喜,心中怦怦乱跳,寻思:“莫非夫人回心转意,又放她们和我同去么?”
The next morning he woke up to the sound of the blowing of horns, and a large number of men shouting outside the door. This was followed by the tinkling of musical instruments. He rushed outside to find three or four hundred acolytes and elders dressed in white, lined up outside his door. ‘Every Success to Our Marshal!’ they shouted together. Next arrived a group in blue to bid farewell to Fat Dhuta, their acting Marshal. The three of them boarded the ship. Just as Trinket was exchanging farewells with Rootless the Taoist and the Black Dragon Marshal, he heard pounding hooves and saw two horses galloping towards the jetty. To his astonishment and delight, he saw that the two riders, both dressed in white, were Fang Yi and the Little Countess. His heart started thumping wildly. ‘Maybe Madame has changed her mind, and is letting them go with me after all,’ he thought to himself.

方沐二人翻身下马,走上几步。方怡朗声说道:“奉教主和夫人之命,前来相送白龙使出征。”韦小宝心一沉:“原来只是送行。”方怡又躬身道:“属下方怡,沐剑屏,奉夫人之命自赤龙门调归白龙门,齐奉白龙使号令。”韦小宝一怔,随即恍然大悟:“原来你……你早已日神龙教赤龙门的属下,一路上装腔作势,只是奉教主之命,骗我上神龙岛来。胖尊者硬请不成功,你就来软请。”想到此节,只觉满心不是味儿,本想和她二人说几句亲热的话儿,却也全无兴致,忽然想起一事,对陆高轩道:“陆先生,服待我的那小丫头双儿,你去叫人放出来,我要带同去。”陆高轩道:“这个……”韦小宝大怒喝道:“什么这个那会的?快放?”
The two girls dismounted from their horses, and took a few steps forwards. ‘In the name of our Leader and Madame, we come to bid farewell to our White Dragon Marshal,’ said Fang Yi loudly. Trinket’s heart sank. Fang Yi bowed and continued: ‘By Madame’s gracious permission, we have both been transferred from the Red Dragon Branch to the White Dragon Branch, and are now under your command.’ At that moment it dawned on Trinket that the girls had been members of the Red Dragon Branch all along. They had been acting on the Leader’s instructions, and their mission had quite simply been to get him, by one means or another, to the island. Where Fat Dhuta had failed to get him there by force, they were to use gentler means. . . . The ship they had travelled on must have belonged to the Sect as well. It had all been a plot. He was totally disillusioned. The happy words of endearment that had already formed themselves on his lips evaporated into a stunned silence. And what about Doublet? What might they have done to her? He turned to the doctor. ‘Doctor Lu, what about my maid Doublet? She was with me on the ship when I came to the island. Where is she now?’ Doctor Lu hesitated. ‘Don’t worry. The Leader has taken good care of her.’ ‘What does that mean? Where is she? Send someone to get her. I’m taking her with me,’ ‘But—’ ‘But what? Just do it!’ yelled Trinket angrily.

他厉声一喝,陆高轩竟不敢违抗,应道:“是,是!”向船上随从嘱咐了几句。那人一跃上岸,飞奔而去。过不多时,便见两乘马迅速奔来,当先一匹马上乘者身形纤小,正是双儿。她不等勒定马匹,叫道:“公子!”便从鞍上飞身而起,轻轻巧巧的落在船头。在无根道人等大高手眼中,这手轻巧也不算如何了不起,只是见她年纪幼小,姿势又甚美观,都喝了声彩。初时韦小宝见坐船驶走,生怕双儿落入奸人之手,常自担心,她武功虽强,毕竟年纪幼小,人又温柔斯文,不明世务,在海船上无处可走,必定吃亏,待见到方怡也是神龙教下弟子,猛然想起,自己坐到岛上的那艘船自然也是教中之物。他见到双儿,十分喜欢,拉住她手,但见她容色憔悴,双眼红肿,显是哭过不少次数,忙问:“有人欺侮你吗?”双儿道:“没……没有,我只是记挂著相公。他们……他们关了我起来。”韦小宝道:“好啦!咱们回去了。”双儿道:“这里……毒蛇很多。”说著哇的一声,又哭了出来。
Doctor Lu dared not disobey. Quietly he instructed a subordinate of his, who jumped ashore and went running off. Shortly afterwards, two horses came riding up at lightning speed. The rider in front had a slender build, and was soon recognizable as Doublet. With a cry of ‘Master!’ she vaulted nimbly from the saddle before the horse had even come to a halt, and landed weightlessly on the deck. In the eyes of a veteran like Rootless the Taoist, her ‘flying’ skills were nothing outstanding, but in view of her youth, and the elegance with which she executed the leap, everyone applauded heartily. Trinket was very happy to see Doublet again. He held her by her hands. Her face was pale and drawn, and her eyes were red from much weeping. ‘Have they treated you badly?’ he asked. ‘No . . . no . . .’ wept Doublet. They . . . they just locked me up. But I missed you so.’ Trinket comforted her. ‘Everything is fine now. We’re leaving this place.’ There are so many. . . horrible snakes here!’ Doublet burst into tears again.

韦小宝向方怡又望了一眼,想起她引自己走入林中,让毒蛇咬噬,诸多做作,海船上种种甜言蜜语,全是假意,不由得甚是气愤,向她狠狠白了一眼,道:“开船罢!”船上水手拔锚起碇,岸上鞭炮声大作,送行者齐声说道:“恭祝白龙使旗开得胜,马到成功,为教主立下大功!”海船乘风扬帆,缓缓离岛。岸上众人大声呼叫:“教主宝训,时刻在心……”
Trinket glanced at Fang Yi, and recalled how she had lured him into the woods to be bitten by poisonous snakes, and how she had pretended to be affectionate towards him on the ship. He could feel himself about to explode with rage. ‘Set sail!’ he ordered. As the sailors were raising the anchor, the people on shore let off firecrackers, and continued to shout ‘Every Success to Our White Dragon Marshal!’ and ‘Obey the Leader’s Teachings! Follow Him to Victory!’ as the ship moved slowly away from the jetty.

韦小宝心想:“我若不知方姑娘已经入教,倒会时时刻刻记著她。这么一来,倒也一无牵挂。”但想到方怡的柔情缠绵,心下不禁一片惆怅。
‘If I didn’t know that Fang Yi was a member of the Sect, I’d be missing her dreadfully,’ he thought to himself. ‘But as it is, I couldn’t care less!’ Even so, when he thought of her tenderness on their journey to the island, he couldn’t help feeling disconsolate.

又想:“她们两个怎么会入了神龙教,当真奇怪。是了,她们给章老三一伙人捉闻去,庄少奶说托人去救,定是救不出来,于是便给神龙救逼得入伙。小郡主服了教主的毒药,方姑娘也当然也服了。嗯,方姑娘如不听话,不来骗我上神龙岛,她也得毒发身亡,那是无可奈何,倒也怪她不得。不过这小娘皮装模作样,骗老公不花本钱,不是好人!他妈的,神龙教到底是干什么的?老子虽然作了白龙使,可就全然胡里胡涂。”想到这些事全因章老三而起,心道:“这老家伙不知是属于什么门,老子将来回到神龙岛,将他调到白龙门来,每天打这老家伙三百板屁股。”又想:“章老三不知是不是在岛上?他多半不敢禀报教主,说我就是小桂子,否则教主听他说捉到了我这么个大人物,转手又即放了,非杀他的头不可。他是老家伙,不是小白脸,教主和夫人本来就要杀了,犯了这样的事,那还有不杀他妈的十七八次?对!胖头陀不敢拆穿西洋镜,章老三也不敢拆穿东洋镜。只不过有一件事弄不明白,夫人喜欢小白脸,倒不奇怪,教主为什么也喜欢?”
His thoughts ran on: ‘How could the two of them have become involved with the Sect? It’s very strange. They must have been captured in the haunted house, and then forced to join. Although Widow Zhuang promised to try and save them, she must have failed. If the Little Countess has taken the drug, then Fang Yi must have taken it as well. She probably had to cheat me into going with her to the island, or else die. … I suppose I can’t blame her for what she did. But she certainly had me fooled, the little tart! Oh tamardy! I don’t know! I may be the White Dragon Marshal, but I haven’t got a clue what this Mystic Dragon Sect is all about!’ It suddenly occurred to him that the old man in command of the riders in the haunted house might have spilled the beans and informed on him to the Leader, in which case the Leader would know that he, Trinket, was in fact Laurel (or vice versa!). But it seemed that this had not happened, probably because the old man had been too frightened to admit his failure in bringing back Laurel alive. And another thing—Fat Dhuta had kept quiet about the inscription being a fake. Trinket had so many questions. . . . Why had Madame Hong taken such a liking to him? Or the Leader, for that matter? It was all very puzzling.

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