The Deer And The Cauldron 31

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The Deer And The Cauldron 31
第三十一回 罗甸一军深壁垒 滇池千顷沸波涛

注:罗甸在贵州省中部,吴三桂驻有重兵。

Chapter 20-In which Princess Ning castrates her Groom and ‘commits Suicide’, and Viscount Trinket rescues the Wrong Girl; he meets the Peerless Consort and hears her sing; a Confrontation takes place between General Bash’em, the Satrap, the. White Nun, and the Peerless Consort; and Trinket secures Safe Passage back to Peking for himself and his Entourage

Fire Alarm in the Gardens of the Princess-A Strange Mutilation, and an Attempted Suicide-An Attempt on the Satrap’s Life-At the Satrap’s Palace-The Assassin’-Story behind a Story-At His Wits’ End-The Peerless-The Ballad of the Peerless Consort-Revelations-An Extraordinary Gathering-Memories-Doing a Deal-Departure from Kunming

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Fire Alarm in the Qardens of the Princess

韦小宝晚饭过后,又等了大半个时辰,才踱到建宁公主房中。公主早等得心焦,怒道:“怎么到这时候才来?”韦小宝气忿忿的道:“你公公拉住了我说话,口出大逆不道的言语,我跟他争辩了半天。若不是牵记着你,我这时候还在跟他争呢。”公主道:“他说甚么了?”韦小宝道:“他说皇上老疑心他是奸臣,心里很不舒服。我说皇上若有疑心,怎会让公主下嫁你的儿子?他说皇上定是不喜欢你,有意坑害你。”
Later that evening, having partaken of his dinner, Trinket strolled over to the Princess’ apartment in the An Fu Gardens. She was overjoyed to see him again. ‘Where on earth have you been all this time!’ she cried impatiently. Trinket made up some cock-and-bull story about the Satrap having detained him with slanderous accusations about the Emperor. The Princess was only being married off to the Satrap’s son, so the old man had insinuated, because the Emperor hated her so much.

公主大怒,伸手在桌上重重一拍,喝道:“这老乌龟胡说八道,我去扯下他的胡子来。你叫他快快来见我。”韦小宝也是满脸怒容,骂道:“他奶奶的,当时我就要跟他拚命。我说:皇上最喜欢公主不过。公主又貌美,又伶俐,你儿子哪一点儿配得上了?我又说:你胆敢说这等话,公主不嫁了,我们明天立刻回北京去。像公主这等人才,天下不知有多少人争着要娶她为妻。我心里有一句话没说出来。我实在想跟老乌龟说:我韦小宝巴不得想娶了公主呢。”
‘The filthy fat turtle!’ she exclaimed. ‘I’ll pull his beard out!’ ‘We all know it’s not true’ Trinket reassured her. ‘Of course the Emperor loves you. And there are lots of good-looking men just itching to marry you. That old turtle-head the Satrap doesn’t know how lucky he is to have you marrying into his family! I almost thought of telling him I’d-‘ . ‘You’d what?’ ‘I’d like to marry you myself!’

公主登时眉开眼笑,说道:“对,对!你干么不跟他说?小宝,咱们明日就回北京去。我去跟皇帝哥哥说,非嫁了你不可。”韦小宝摇头道:“老乌龟见我发怒,登时软了下来,说他刚才胡言乱语,不过说笑,千万不可当真,更加不可传入公主的耳里。我说,我姓韦的对皇上和公主最是忠心不过,从来不敢有半句话瞒骗皇上和公主。”公主搂住他脖子,在他脸上轻轻一吻,说道:“我早知你对我十分忠心。”韦小宝也吻她一下,说道:“老乌龟慌了,险些儿跪下来求我,又送了两把罗刹人的火枪给我,要我一力为他遮掩。”
‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ cried the Princess, beaming happily. ‘Let’s do it! Let’s go back to Peking straight away, and I’ll tell my brother I won’t marry anyone but you!’ She threw her arms around him and gave Trinket a big kiss, which he was only too happy to return. The old turtle got quite scared when he thought I might tell on him. He even gave me a couple of Russian pistols.’

说着取出火枪,装了火药铁弹,让公主向花园中发射。公主依法开枪,见这火枪一声巨响,便轰断了一根大树枝,伸了伸舌头,说道:“好厉害!”韦小宝道:“你要一支,我要一支,两根火枪本来是一对儿。”公主叹道:“两根火枪一雌一雄,并排睡在这木盒儿里,何等亲热?一分开,两个儿都孤零零的十分凄凉了。我不要,还是你一起收着罢。”说这话时,想到皇帝旨意毕竟不可更改,自己要嫁韦小宝,终究是一句虚话罢啦。韦小宝搂住了她着意慰抚,在她耳边说些轻薄话儿。公主听到情浓处,不禁双颊晕红,吃吃而笑。韦小宝替她宽衣解带,拉过锦被盖住她赤裸的身子,心想:“怎地大汉奸的手下还不放火?最好他们冲到这里来搜查,撞见了公主赤身裸体,公主便可翻脸发作。”
He took out the pistols, primed them, and invited the Princess to fire them off into the garden. She took aim, and there was a terrific explosion. She shot a branch clean off a tree. ‘Fantastic!’ she cried, her tongue popping out of her mouth. ‘Let’s keep one each,’ suggested Trinket generously. ‘No no!’ cried the Princess. ‘It would be such a shame to separate them! They look so cosy, cuddled up together in that lovely case. They’d be lonely apart!’ These thoughts of conjugal togetherness and bliss only made her realize the more forcefully that marrying Trinket was out of the question. It was pure fantasy’ the Emperor would never change his mind. Her lot was cast. Trinket put his arms around her and did his best to comfort her, whispering all sorts of naughty nothings in her ear. She blushed fiercely, and burst out spluttering with laughter. He untied her sash and loosened her gown, then threw an embroidered cover over her naked body. ‘I wonder why the Traitor’s men are taking so long?’ he thought to himself. They still haven’t set the place on fire! If they burst in now, they’ll find her naked. That should be fun to watch!’

他坐在床沿,轻轻抚摸公主的脸蛋,竖起了耳朵倾听屋外动静。公主鼻中唔唔作声,昵声道:“我……我这可要睡了。你……你……”耳听得花园里已打初更,韦小宝正自等得不耐,突然间锣声镗镗响动,有十余人大叫:“走水啦,走水啦!”公主一惊坐起,搂住韦小宝的脖子,颤声问道:“走水?”韦小宝怒道:“他妈的,定是老乌龟放火,要烧死你我二人灭口,免得泄漏了他今日的胡话。”公主更加惊慌,问道:“那……那怎么办?”韦小宝道:“别怕。韦小宝赤胆忠心,就是性命不保,也要保卫我的亲亲好公主平安周全。”轻轻挣脱了她搂抱,走到房门口,如见有人冲来,自己可先得走出公主卧房。但听得人声鼎沸,四下里呐喊声起:“走水!走水!快去保护公主。”
He sat on the edge of the bed, gently stroking her face, listening out for the slightest sound from outside. The Princess’ breathing grew slower and heavier. ‘I think I’m going to … fall asleep. . . . You can . . .’ Trinket could hear the watchman sounding the night watch in the grounds. He was beginning to grow impatient, when suddenly there was a great crashing of gongs, and several voices began yelling at once”Fire! Fire!’The Princess sat up with a jolt and clutched Trinket round theneck.’What’s happening?’Tamardy turtle’head!’ cried Trinket. ‘He wants to set us on fire! He wants us both dead! So we won’t betray his secret.”What are we going to do?”Don’t you worry. You know you can count on your faithful Trink. Leave this one to me.’Trinket extricated himself from her embrace and went to the doorway, to secure the best escape route when the men came bursting in.’Fire! Fire! Quick, save the Princess!’

韦小宝往窗外张去,只见花园中十余人快步而来,心想:“大汉奸这些手下人来得好快。他们早就进了安阜园,伏在隐蔽之处,一听得火警,便即现身。”回头对公主道:“公主,没甚么大火,你不用怕。老乌龟是来捉奸。”公主颤声道:“捉……捉甚么?”韦小宝道:“他定是疑心你跟我好,想来捉奸。”说着打开了屋门,说道:“你躺在被窝里不用起身,我站在门外。倘若真有火头烧过来,我就背了你逃走。”公主大是感激,说道:“小宝,你……你待我真好。”韦小宝在门外一站,大声道:“大家保护公主要紧。”
He heard voices echoing through the grounds, and could make out a dozen or so figures racing across the garden. They must be the Satrap’s men, who had hidden themselves inside the grounds ahead of time.’It’s nothing serious, Princess,’ he called out. The old turtle was probably just hoping to catch us together in bed!’The Princess shuddered.’You stay under the covers, and don’t move,’ ordered Trinket. ‘I’ll stand guard outside the door. If there’s a real fire, I’ll carry you out.”Darling Trinket! You’re so good to me!’Trinket stood in the doorway and shouted into the garden”Is there anyone out there’ Quick, save the Princess!’He was answered at once by one of the Satrap’s guards”Lord Wei, a fire has just broken out, and our master has sent the Young Prince to protect Her Royal Highness.’

呼喝声中,已有平西王府的家将卫士飞奔而至,叫道:“韦爵爷,园子中失火,世子已亲来保护公主。”只见东北角上两排灯笼,拥着一行人过来。片刻间来到跟前,当先一人正是吴应熊。韦小宝心想:“为了搜查那蒙古大胡子,竟由小汉奸亲自出马带队,可见对大胡子十分看重,勾结蒙古、罗刹国造反之事,定然不假。”只听得吴应熊遥遥叫道:“公主殿下平安吗?”一名卫士叫道:“韦爵爷已在这里守卫。”吴应熊道:“那好极了!韦爵爷,这可辛苦你了,兄弟感激不尽。”韦小宝心道:“我辛苦甚么?我搂着公主亲热,好辛苦么?你为此而对我感激不尽吗?这倒不用客气。”接着韦小宝所统带的御前侍卫、骁骑营佐领等也纷纷赶到。各人深夜从床上惊跳起身,都是衣衫不整,有的赤足、有的没穿上衣,模样十分狼狈,大家一听得火警,便想:“倘若烧死了公主,那是杀头的大罪。”是以忙不迭的赶来。韦小宝吩咐众侍卫官兵分守四周。张康年一扯他衣袖,韦小宝走开了几步。张康年低声道:“韦副总管,这事有诈。”韦小宝道:“怎么?”
The next instant Trinket saw men with lanterns in every comer of the garden. Coming towards him he identified the figure of Wu Yingxiong, the Little Traitor himself. He had clearly been put in charge of the search for Hatiemo, the missing Mongol envoy.’So they’ve sent him to find Hatty-it must be a very important assignment. That proves they really are plotting with the Mongols and the Russians.”Is all safe in Her Highness’ apartment?’ He could hear Young Wu’s voice. ‘Lord Wei is there,’ answered one of the guards. ‘I am most obliged to you, Lord Wei,’ said Wu. ‘What for?’ mumbled Trinket silently to himself. ‘For having a quick cuddle with your princess’ The pleasure’s all mine!’ His own Imperial Guards could now be seen rushing into the garden, roused from their beds, some of them only in their shirtsleeves. Trinket stationed them around the building. Zhang Kangnian tugged him by the sleeve. There’s something funny going on here, my Colonel’ he muttered. ‘What do you mean?’ asked Trinket.

张康年道:“火警一起,平西王府家将便四面八方跳墙进来,显是早就有备。他们口中大叫救火,却到各间房中搜查,咱们兄弟喝骂阻拦也是无用,已有好几人跟他们打了架。”韦小宝点头道:“吴三桂疑心我们打他的主意,我看他要造反!”张康年吃了一惊,向吴应熊瞧去,低声道:“当真?”韦小宝道:“让他们搜查好了,不用阻拦。”张康年点点头,悄悄向北京来的官兵传令。这时园子西南角和东南角都隐隐见到火光,十几架水龙已在浇水,水头却是射向天空,一道道白晃晃的水柱,便似大喷泉一般。韦小宝走到吴应熊身前,说道:“小王爷,你神机妙算,当真令人佩服,当年诸葛亮、刘伯温也不及你的能耐。”吴应熊一怔,道:“韦爵爷取笑了。”韦小宝道:“决非取笑。你定然屈指算到,今晚二更时分,安阜园中要起火,烧死了公主,那可不是玩的,因此预先穿得整整齐齐,守在园子之外,耐心等候。一待火起,一声令下,大伙儿便跳进来救火。哈哈,好本事,好本事。”
‘Well, the minute the fire alarm was sounded, the Satrap’s men came swarming over the walls and began searching the entire garden. They were obviously out there ready, lying in wait. Some of our people put up a bit of resistance, but there’s simply no stopping them.’ The Satrap must think we’re onto him,’ said Trinket. This makes it all the more obvious that he’s planning a rebellion.’ Zhang Kangnian registered an appropriate level of shock. ‘Anyway,’ continued Trinket, ‘tell your men not to interfere with their search. Let them get on with it.’ Zhang gave the necessary orders. Trinket went up to the Little Traitor. ‘I must congratulate you, sir’ he commented. ‘You’re even smarter than the great strategist Sleeping Dragon, from the time of the Three Kingdoms!’ ‘You’re making fun of me,’ returned a somewhat puzzled Wu. ‘Not at all’ protested Trinket. ‘Your timing is quite brilliant! By some stroke of genius you seem to have worked out exactly when the fire was going to break out, so you had your men all dressed and ready to save the Princess in the nick of time.’

吴应熊脸上一红,说道:“倒不是事先料得到,这也是碰巧。今晚我姊夫夏国相请客,兄弟吃酒回来,带领了卫士家将路过此地,正好碰上了园中失火。”韦小宝点头道:“原来如此。我听说书先生说道:‘诸葛一生惟谨慎’。我说小王爷胜过了诸葛亮,那是一点也不错的。小王爷到姊夫家里喝酒,随身也带了水龙队,果然大有好处,可不是在这儿用上了么?”吴应熊知他瞧破了自己的布置,脸上又是一红,讪讪的道:“这时候风高物燥,容易起火,还是小心些好的,这叫做有备无患。”韦小宝道:“正是。只可惜小王爷还有一样没见到。”吴应熊道:“倒要请教。”韦小宝道:“下次小王爷去姊夫家喝酒,最好再带一队泥水木匠,挑备砖瓦、木材、石灰、铁钉。”吴应熊问道:“却不知为了何用?”韦小宝道:“万一你姊夫家里失火,水龙队只是朝天喷水,不肯救火,你姊夫家不免烧成了白地。小王爷就可立刻下令,叫泥水匠给你姊夫重起高楼。这叫做有备无患啊。”吴应熊嘿嘿嘿的干笑几声,向身旁卫士道:“韦爵爷查到水龙队办事不力,你去将正副队长抓了起来,回头打断了他们狗腿子。”那卫士奉命而去。韦小宝问道:“小王爷,你将水龙队正副队长的狗腿子打断之后,再升他们甚么官?”吴应熊一怔,道:“韦爵爷,这句话我可又不明白了。”
Wu flushed. ‘It was pure luck actually! We had no idea this, . . . er, fire thing was going to happen. As a matter of fact we were on our way back from a bit of a banquet being held by my brother’in’law, Xia Guoxiang, when we saw the flames.’ Trinket nodded. ‘Of course. That proves I was right. You are smart. You’re even smarter than Sleeping Dragon. Fancy going to “a bit of” a banquet at your brother’in’law’s with a fully equipped fire brigade in tow . . .’ Wu flushed again. His alibi had been totally transparent.The fire danger is extreme at the moment’, he mumbled rather lamely. ‘I thought it best to be on the safe side.”I see. Next time you’re at a party, why not take a few regiments of builders, bricklayers, plasterers, and joiners with you as well. You never know. They might come in handy if you ever get called out to do a spot of impromptu construction work.’Wu laughed ruefully, and turned to his aide’de’camp.’Go and tell the commander of the fire brigade that Lord Wei is not too pleased with his work. He’d better do things right, or I’ll break his legs.”But what would you do with him then?’ quipped Trinket.’What do you mean?’

韦小宝道:“我可也不明白了。我想,嘿,小王爷只好再起两座大监狱,派这两个给打断了腿的正副队长去当典狱官。”吴应熊脸上变色,心想:“你这小子好厉害,卢一峰当黑坎子监狱典狱官,你竟也知道了。”当下假作不明其意,笑道:“韦爵爷真会说笑话,难怪皇上这么喜欢你。”打定主意:“回头就命人去杀了卢一峰,给这小子来个死无对证。”不久平西王府家将卫士纷纷回报,火势并未延烧,已渐渐小了下来。韦小宝细听各人言语,并未察觉打何暗语,但见吴应熊每听一人回报,脸上总微有不愉之色,显是得知尚未查到罕帖摩,不知他们使何暗号。留神察看众家将的神情,亦无所见。忽见一名家将又奔来禀报,说道火头突然转大,似向这边延烧,最好请公主启驾,以防惊动。吴应熊点了点头。韦小宝站在一旁,似是漫不在意,其实却在留神他的神色举止,只见吴应熊眼光下垂,射向那家将右腿。韦小宝顺着他眼光瞧去,见那家将右手拇指食指搭成一圈,贴于膝旁。韦小宝登时恍然:“原来两根手指搭成一圈,便是说没找到罕帖摩。说话中却无暗号。”吴应熊道:“韦爵爷,火头既向这边烧来,咱们还是请公主移驾罢,倘若惊吓了公主殿下,那可是罪该万死。”
‘Well, where would you employ an officer with broken legs’ Unless of course you’re planning to open another prison that specializes in broken legs and amputations. . . .’This obvious reference to the fate of Trinket’s unfortunate friend Yang Yizhi brought a nasty scowl to Young Wu’s face. So Trinket knew all about Lu Yifeng and the unpleasant things that went on in the Black Hole. . . .Presently the Satrap’s guards reported that the fire had been successfully brought under control. Trinket watched them carefully, but could not work out what secret code they were using (if any). All he could tell was that Young Wu was displeased with the way the operation was proceeding-presumably because they had failed to locate Hatty. Then suddenly a guard came rushing up to say that the fire had broken out again, and was spreading towards the very courtyard they were standing in. The Young Prince was advised to leave at once. Trinket noticed that the guard, as he spoke to Wu, crooked the thumb and index finger of his right hand and held them against his knee’ that was clearly the sign that the search for Hatty was about to be called off.’Lord Wei’ said Wu, ‘since the fire seems to be spreading this way, I’m afraid we must advise Her Highness to leave.’

韦小宝知道平西王府家将到处找不着罕帖摩,园中只剩下公主的卧房一处未搜,他们一不做,二不休,连公主卧房也要搜上一搜,不由得心头火起,一时童心大盛,提起右手,拇指和食指扣成一圈,在吴应熊脸前晃了几晃。这个记号一打,吴应熊固然大吃一惊,他手下众家将也都神色大变。吴应熊颤声问道:“韦……韦爵爷……,这……这是甚么意思?”韦小宝笑道:“难道这个记号的意思你也不懂?”吴应熊定了定神,说道:“这记号,这记号,嗯,我明白了,这是铜钱,韦爵爷是说要银子铜钱,公主才能移驾。”
Trinket understood. The only premises left to search were the Princess’ own private quarters. Something about their sneaky way of carrying on provoked Trinket to one of his reckless fits of bravado. He proceeded to crook the thumb and first finger of his right hand and wave them in front of Young Wu’s face. Wu started, as did his guards. ‘Lord Wei. . .’ stammered Wu. ‘What are you trying to-‘ ‘Don’t you understand the signal?’ laughed Trinket. ‘Signal?’ Wu tried to remain calm. ‘What signal’ ‘Oh, of course, you mean money’ Her Highness wants money if she is to agree to move?’

韦小宝心道:“小汉奸的脑筋倒也动得好快。”当下笑笑不答。吴应熊笑道:“铜钱银子的事,咱们是自己兄弟,自然一切好商量。”韦小宝道:“小王爷如此慷慨大方,我这里代众位兄弟多谢了。小王爷,请公主移驾的事,你自己去办罢。”笑了笑道:“你们是夫妻,一切好商量。深更半夜的,小将可不便闯进公主房里去。”心想:“就让你自己去看个明白,那蒙古大胡子是不是躲在房里。”吴应熊微一踌躇,点了点头,推开屋门,走进外堂,在房门外朗声道:“臣吴应熊在此督率人众救火,保护公主。现下火头向这边延烧,请公主移驾,以策万全。”隔了一会,只听得房内一个娇柔的声音“嗯”的一声。吴应熊心想:“你我虽未成婚,但我是额驸,名份早定,此刻事急,我进你房来,也不算越礼。这件事不查个明白,终究不妥。除我之外,旁人也不能进你房来。”当即推开房门,走了进去。
‘You crafty little turtle’head of a traitor!’ thought Trinket to himself. He sniggered, but said nothing. The money can be easily settled between us,’ went on Wu. ‘After all, we’re brothers.’ ‘Very generous of you, my Prince,’ returned Trinket. ‘Would you be so good as to go in there now and settle this little financial matter with Her Highness yourself’ After all, you’re virtually husband and wife already.’ He was thinking to himself’ ‘That way you can see for yourself that the Big Mongol isn’t in there.’ Wu hesitated a moment, and then nodded. He pushed open the door and walked on into the Princess’ outer room. From the door leading into the inner apartment he called out’ ‘It is your subject Wu Yingxiong. I have come with some of my guards to save Your Highness. The fire seems to be spreading this way. We must advise you to leave.’ A ladylike little cough of protest could be heard from within. ‘I may not be her husband yet,’ thought Wu to himself, ‘but we are after all betrothed, and in circumstances like these I can surely be forgiven for entering her room. No one else would dare go in, and we must complete the search!’ He pushed open the inner door and strode on in.

A Strange Mutilation, and an Attempted Suicide

韦小宝和百余名御前侍卫、骁骑营将官、平西王府家将都候在屋豌。过了良久,始终不闻房中有何动静。又过一会,众人你瞧瞧我,我瞧瞧你,脸边嘴角,均含笑意,大家心中所想的全是同一回事:“这对未婚夫妻从未见过面,忽然在公主闺房中相会,定是甚为香艳。不知两人要说些甚么话?小王爷会不会将公主搂在怀里,抱上一抱?亲上一亲?”只有韦小宝心中大有醋意,虽知吴应熊志在搜查罕帖摩,这当儿未必会有心情和公主亲热,但公主这骚货甚么事都做得出,是否自行去跟吴应熊亲热,那也难说得很。突然之间,听得公主尖声叫道:“大胆无礼!你……你……不可这样,快出去。”屋外众人相顾而嘻,均想:“小王爷忍不住动手了。”只听得公主又叫:“你……你不能,不能脱我衣服,滚出去,啊哟,救命,救命!这人强奸我哪!他强奸我。救命,救命!”
Trinket and the various guards waited outside. Minutes went by, and all was silent. Still more minutes went by. The guards began to exchange little looks and knowing smiles, all thinking one and the same thought’ the loving couple’s first face’to’face encounter, the hugs, the kisses . . . Trinket himself began to feel more than a touch of jealousy. He was certain that Young Wu’s intentions were far from romantic; but with someone as insatiable and unpredictable as the Princess you could never tell. Suddenly there was an ear’piercing scream. It was the Princess.’Vile monster! No I won’t let you have your way with me! Never! Out of my sight!’More looks and stifled giggles from the guards. So their master had not been able to wait! ‘Leave my clothes alone! You … you … Get out! Help! Rape! Rape! Help!’

众人忍不住好笑,均觉吴应熊太过猴急,忒也大胆,虽然公主终究是他妻子,怎可尚未成婚,便即胡来?有几名武将终于笑出声来。御前侍卫等都瞧着韦小宝,候他眼色行事,是否要保护公主,心中均想:“吴应熊这小子强奸公主,虽然无礼,但毕竟是他们夫妻间的私事。我们做奴才的妄加干预,定然自讨没趣。”韦小宝心中却怦怦乱跳:“这小汉奸为人精明,怎地如此胡闹?难道他……他真想加害公主吗?”当即大声叫道:“小王爷,请你快快出来,不可得罪了公主。”公主突然大叫:“救命!”声音凄厉之极。
Giggles turned into laughter. Wu really was rather an oaf, they were all thinking, not to be able to wait until his wedding day. The Imperial Guards watched Trinket carefully, waiting for a sign to intervene on the Princess’ behalf (though if the truth be known they thought this was a matter best left to the young couple to sort out between themselves). Trinket for his part was becoming quite agitated. What if the rascal had actually tried to use violence on the Princess”Come on out of there, sir!’ he cried. ‘Don’t offend Her Highness.”Help’Another scream from the Princess, even louder and more urgent this time.

韦小宝大吃一惊,手一挥,叫道:“闹出大事来啦。”抢步入屋。几名御前侍卫和王府家将跟了进去。只见寝室房门敞开,公主缩在床角,身上罩了锦被,一双雪白的大腿露在被外,双臂裸露,显然全身未穿衣衫。吴应熊赤裸裸地躺在地下,一动不动,下身全是鲜血,手中握着一柄短刀。众人见了这等情状,都惊得呆了。王府家将忙去察看吴应熊的死活,一探鼻息,尚有呼吸,心脏也尚在跳动,却是晕了过去。公主哭叫:“这人……这人对我无礼……他是谁?韦爵爷,快快抓了他去杀了。”韦小宝道:“他便是额驸吴应熊。”公主叫道:“不是的,不是的。他剥光了我衣衫,自己又脱了衣衫,他强奸我……这恶徒,快把他杀了。”
Trinket got quite a fright. Beckoning to his men, and crying To the rescue!’, he burst into the outer room. He was followed by a few of his own guards and some of the Satrap’s. The inner door into the Princess’ bedroom was wide open, and they could see her lying on the bed, her pale legs poking out at the bottom of the bed from under her snow’white quilt, her bare arms protruding at either side. Under the bedclothes she was obviously stark naked. Young Wu was naked too. But he was not on the bed. He was lying face down and motionless on the floor, and smears of blood were clearly visible on his lower body. He had a dagger gripped in his hand. The scene was enough to strike terror into the heart of Trinket and the guards. The Satrap’s men hurried over to ascertain whether the Young Prince was still alive, and were relieved to find him breathing, though unconscious.’He was trying to . . .’ blurted out the Princess. ‘He’s a foul creature! Disgusting! Who is he anyway’ Lord Wei, have this vile beast arrested and killed at once!’

一众御前侍卫均感愤怒,自己奉皇命差遣,保卫公主,公主是今上御妹,金枝玉叶的贵体,却受吴应熊这小子如此侮辱,每人都可说是有亏职守。王府家将却个个神色尴尬,内心有愧。其中数人精明能干,心想事已至此,倘能在公主房中查到罕帖摩,或能对公主反咬一口,至少也有些强辞夺理的余地,当下假装手忙脚乱的救护吴应熊,其实眼光四射,连床底也瞧到了,却哪里有罕帖摩的影踪?
‘But Your Highness, this is your husband’to’be, Young Prince Wu!’ replied Trinket.’He can’t be! Not him! Impossible! The way he behaved! He stripped me naked, then he took off all his clothes and tried to rape me! Kill him, the monster!’ The Palace Guards were filled with angry indignation, that the sister of their Emperor should have been defiled in this way, her chastity violated (little did they know …). The Satrap’s guards for their part stood there looking decidedly sheepish. Some of the smarter ones took the opportunity to have a quick snoop around for Hatty. But there was no sign of him.

突然之间,一名王府家将叫了起来:“世子……世子的下身……下身……”吴应熊下身鲜血淋漓,众人都已看到,初时还道是他对公主无礼之故,这时听那人一叫,都向他下身瞧去,只见鲜血还是在不住涌出,显是受了伤。众家将都惊慌起来,身边携有刀伤药的,忙取出给他敷上。
Suddenly one of them who had been ministering to Young Wu gave a great cry. ‘His Highness has been . . . his private parts are . . .’ In the heat of the moment the men had at first taken the blood on Wu’s limbs to be evidence of his recent activities with the virgin Princess; but as time went by and the blood continued to flow, they realized that he was himself seriously hurt. Horrified, they hurried to apply balm to the wound.

韦小宝喝道:“吴应熊对公主无礼,犯大不敬重罪,先扣押了起来,奏明皇上治罪。”众侍卫齐声答应,上前将他拉起。王府家将亲耳所闻,亲眼所见,吴应熊确是对公主无礼,绝难抵赖,听韦小宝这样说,只有暗叫:“糟糕,糟糕!”谁也不敢稍有抗拒之心。一名家将躬身说道:“韦爵爷开恩。世子受了伤,请韦爵爷准许世子回府医治。我们王爷必感大德。世子确是万分不是,还请公主宽宏大量,韦爵爷多多担代。”韦小宝板起了脸,说道:“这等大罪,我们可不敢欺瞒皇上,有谁担待得起?有话到外面去说,大伙儿拥在公主卧房之中,算甚么样子?哪有这等规矩?”众家将喏喏连声,扶着吴应熊退出,众侍卫也都退出,只剩下公主和韦小宝二人。公主忽地微笑,向韦小宝招招手。韦小宝走到床前,公主搂住他肩头,在他耳边低声说道:“我阉割了他。”
‘Wu Yingxiong has committed an outrage on Her Highness’ barked Trinket. ‘He is to be detained and questioned, and the matter reported to His Majesty!’ The Palace Guards leapt into action. None of the Satrap’s men resisted, though one of them pleaded somewhat feebly with Trinket to let them take their master back to the Satrap’s palace for medical attention. Trinket was adamant, and ordered everyone out of the Princess’ bedroom. They all trooped out, carrying Young Wu with them, and leaving Trinket alone with the Princess. All of a sudden she gave a crafty smile, and beckoned to Trinket. He went over to her bed. She threw her arms around him and whispered in his ear’ ‘I chopped his dong and balls right off!’

韦小宝大吃一惊,问道:“你……你甚么?”公主在他耳中吹了一口气,低声笑道:“我用火枪指住他,逼他脱光衣服,然后用枪柄在他脑袋上重击一记,打得他晕了过去,再割了他的讨厌东西。从今而后,他只能做我太监,不能做我丈夫了。”韦小宝又是好笑,又是吃惊,说道:“你大胆胡闹,这祸可闯得不小。”公主道:“闯甚么祸了?我这可是一心一意为着你。我就算嫁了他,也只是假夫妻,总而言之,不会让你戴绿帽做乌龟。”韦小宝心下念头急转,只是这件事情实在太过出于意外,不知如何应付才好。公主又道:“强奸无礼甚么都是假的。不过我大叫大嚷,你们在外面都听见了,是不是?”韦小宝点点头。公主微笑道:“这样一来,咱们还怕他甚么?就算吴三桂生气,也知道是自己儿子不好。”韦小宝唉声叹气,道:“倘若他给你一刀割死了,那可如何是好?”公主道:“怎么会割死?咱们宫里几千名太监,哪一个给割死了?”韦小宝道:“好,你一口咬定,是他强奸你,拿了刀子逼你。你拚命抗拒,伸手推他。他手里拿着刀子,又脱光了衣服,就这样一推一挥,自己割了去。”
‘You did what!’ cried the horrified Trinket. The Princess breathed into his ear, and went on’ ‘First I pointed that gun thing at him, and made him take all his clothes off. Then I bashed him on the head with the gun’handle, till he passed out. Then I cut off those disgusting things of his. So! Now he’ll never be able to be my husband-just my pathetic little eunuch slave!’ Trinket did not know whether to burst out laughing, or panic completely. ‘You’ve really gone and made a mess of things now!’ ‘What do you mean’ You’re the one I love! Anyway, I made it sound like rape. Didn’t you hear me screaming?’ Trinket nodded. Then we’re in the clear’ she went on. ‘When the Satrap finds out what I’ve done, he’ll be angry, but he’ll be too ashamed of his son to do anything about it.”But you must have a good story, and stick to it very carefully’ said Trinket, his imagination working overtime. ‘Listen, this is the way it happened. He tried to rape you, he took all his clothes off, he had the dagger in his hand, you resisted, he slipped, and he-‘

公主埋首锦被,吃吃而笑,低声道:“对啦,就这样说,是他自己割了的。”韦小宝回到房外,将吴应熊持刀强逼、公主竭力抗拒、挣扎之中吴应熊自行阉割之事,低声向众侍卫说了。众人无不失惊而笑,都说吴应熊色胆包天,自遭报应。有几名吴应熊的家将留着探听动静,在旁偷听到后,都是脸有愧色。安阜园中闹了这等大事出来,王府家将迅即扑灭火头,飞报吴三桂,一面急传大夫,给吴应熊治伤。御前侍卫将吴应熊受伤的原因,立即传了开去,连王府家将也是众口一词,都说皆因世子对公主无礼而起。各人不免加油添酱,有的说听到世子如何强脱公主衣服;有的说世子如何手持短刀,强行威迫。至于世子如何惨遭阉割,各人更是说得活龙活现,世子怎么用刀子架在公主颈中,公主怎么挣扎阻挡,怎么推动世子手臂,一刀挥过,就此糟糕,种种情状,皆似亲眼目睹一般。说者口沫横飞,连说带比;听众目瞪口呆,不住点头。过得小半个时辰,吴三桂得到急报,飞骑到来,立即在公主屋外磕头谢罪,气急败坏的连称:“罪该万死!”韦小宝站在一旁,愁形于色,说道:“王爷请起,小将给你进去探探公主的口气。”吴三桂从怀中掏出一把翡翠珠玉,塞在他手里,说道:“韦兄弟,小王匆匆赶来,没带银票,这些珠宝,请你分赏给各位侍卫兄弟。公主面前,务请美言。”韦小宝将珠宝塞还他手中,说道:“王爷望安,小将只要能出得到力气的,决计尽力而为,暂且不领王爷的赏赐。这件事实在太大,不知公主意思如何。唉,这位公主性子高傲,她是三贞九烈、娇生惯养的黄花闺女,便是太后和皇上也让她三分,世子实在……实在太大胆了些。”吴三桂道:“是,是。韦兄弟在公主跟前说得了话,千万拜托。”
The Princess buried her head in the quilt and let out a little peal of laughter.’That’s it!’ she murmured. ‘He did it! He chopped off his own dong by mistake!’Trinket communicated this version of events to his guards. There were a few startled laughs, and a lot of muttered comments to the effect that Wu had dealt himself an appropriate punishment for his own barbaric behaviour. Those of the Satrap’s men who had stayed behind listened shamefaced.Other members of the contingent sent by the Satrap meanwhile went through the motions of putting out the ‘fire’, and then returned to report the whole disastrous episode to their master. A doctor was sent for urgently to see to Young Wu’s wounds. The Imperial Guards for their part made sure that a vivid retelling of the story made the rounds of Kunming’s tea’houses and wine’shops.The Satrap lost no time. He hurried over to the Princess’ quarters, and kowtowed outside her door, humbly apologizing for his son’s terrible misdemeanour. Trinket stood beside him, pulling a long face.’I’m afraid he has really gone too far this time.”I know, I know!’ grovelled Wu. ‘I’m absolutely counting on you to put in a good word for me with the Princess.”Of course I’ll do my best’ replied Trinket. ‘But we both know how difficult Her Royal Highness can be.’

韦小宝点点头,脸色郑重,走到公主屋门前,朗声说道:“启禀公主:平西王爷亲来谢罪,请公主念他是有功老臣,从宽发落。”吴三桂低声道:“是,是!老臣在这里磕头,请公主从宽发落。”过了半晌,公主房中并无应声,韦小宝又说了一遍,忽听得砰的一声,似是一张凳子倒地。韦小宝和吴三桂相顾惊疑。只听得一名宫女叫了起来:“公主,公主,你千万不可自寻短见!”吴三桂吓得脸都白了,心想:“公主倘若自尽而死,虽然眼下诸事尚未齐备,也只有立刻举兵起事了。逼死公主的罪名,却如何担当得起?”但听房中几名宫女哭声大作。一名宫女匆匆走出,哭道:“韦……韦爵爷,公主殿下悬梁自尽,你……你快来救……救……”
He called from the door”Your Highness, Satrap Wu is here. He’s come to apologize for his son’s crime, and to beg for mercy.’A moment of total silence passed. Then there came a sudden thud, something like the sound of a stool hitting the ground. Trinket and the Satrap looked at each other in horror.’No, Your Highness!’ one of the Princess’ maids cried out from within. ‘No! How could you think of doing such a terrible thing!’The thought that the dishonoured Princess might have succeeded in doing away with herself drained the last drop of colour from the Satrap’s face. ‘If she has taken her life’ he was thinking secretly to himself, ‘my hand will be forced! I shall have to declare an open rebellion at once-and I am not ready yet!’ The voices of women sobbing reached them from the inner room. A maid came rushing out’ ‘Lord Wei! Come quickly! Her Highness has hung herself!’

韦小宝踌躇道:“公主的寝殿,我们做奴才的可不便进去。”吴三桂轻轻推他背心,说道:“事急从权,快救公主要紧。”转头对家将道:“快传大夫。”说着又在韦小宝背上推了一把。韦小宝抢步进房,只见公主躺在床上,七八名宫女围着哭叫。韦小宝道:“我有内功,救得活公主。”众宫女让在一旁。只见公主双目紧闭,呼吸低微,头颈里果然勒起了一条红印,梁上悬着一截绳索,另有一截放在床头,一张凳子翻倒在地,韦小宝心下暗笑:“做得好戏!这骚公主倒也不是一味胡闹的草包。”抢到床边,伸指在她上唇人中重重一捏。公主嘤的一声,缓缓睁开眼来,有气没力的道:“我……我不想活了。”
After a moment’s hesitation Trinket went on in, to find seven or eight of the maids weeping dramatically around the bed. The Princess’ eyes were closed, her breathing was faint, and there was a clearly visible red mark round her neck. One end of a cord was hanging from a beam, the other end was strewn on the bed, while a stool lay on its side on the floor. ‘Clever little slut!’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘Nice bit of stage’management! Excellent kungfu!’ He stood by the bedside and gave her a discreet pinch on the upper lip. She let out a barely audible squeal and slowly opened her eyes. Then, listlessly (but audibly) said’ ‘I… I don’t want to go on living. . . .’

韦小宝道:“公主,你是万金之体,一切看开些。平西王在外边磕头请罪。”公主哭道:“你……你叫他将这坏人快快杀了。”韦小宝以身子挡住了众宫女的眼光,伸手入被,在她腰里捏了一把。公主就想笑了出来,强行忍住,伸指甲在他手臂上狠狠一戳,大声哭道:“我不想活了,我……我今后怎么做人?”吴三桂在屋外隐隐约约听得公主的哭叫之声,得悉她自杀未遂,不禁长长舒了一口气,又听她哭叫“今后怎么做人”,心想:“这事也真难怪她着恼。小两口子动枪动刀也罢了,别的地方甚么不好割,偏偏倒霉,一刀正好割中那里。应熊日后就算治好,公主一辈子也是守活寡了。眼前只有尽力掩护,别张扬出去。”
‘Your Highness,’ pleaded the loyal Viscount Trinket Wei loudly, ‘your life is so precious, you must try to look beyond this moment of despair. Satrap Wu is outside at this very moment, down on his knees, begging you for forgiveness.’ ‘Just tell him to take that horrible son of his away and kill him!’ Without the maids noticing, Trinket reached under the covers and gave the Princess another pinch. She fought the temptation to laugh and instead dug a fingernail hard into the back of his hand, moaning’ ‘I just want to die! How can I ever look the world in the face again?’ From outside the Satrap indistinctly heard the sound of the Princess’ voice and heaved a huge sigh of relief. At least she was still alive! But what had she got left to live for, he reflected, now that his son’s conjugal equipment had been physically removed! What a young idiot the boy had been! How could he possibly hush the whole thing up now’

过了半晌,韦小宝从屋里出来,不住摇头。吴三桂忙抢上一步,低声问道:“公主怎么说?”韦小宝道:“人是救过来了。只是公主性子刚强,说甚么也劝不听,定要寻死觅活。我已吩咐宫女,务须好好侍候公主,半步不可离开。王爷,我担心她服毒。”吴三桂脸色一变,点头道:“是,是。这可须得小心提防。”韦小宝低声道:“王爷,公主万一有甚么三长两短,小将是皇上差来保护公主的,这条小命那也是决计不保的了。到那时候,王爷你可得给我安排一条后路。”吴三桂一凛,问道:“甚么后路?”韦小宝道:“这句话现下不能说,只盼公主平安无事,大家都好。不过性命是她的,她当真要死,阻得她三四天,阻不了十天半月。小将有一番私心,只盼公主早早嫁到你王府之中,小将就少了一大半干系啦。”吴三桂心头一喜,说道:“那么咱们赶快办理喜事,这是小儿胡闹,闯出来的祸,韦兄弟一力维持,小王已是感激不尽,决不能再加重韦兄弟肩上的担子。”压低嗓子问道:“只不知公主还肯……还肯下嫁么?”心想:“我儿子已成废人,只盼公主年幼识浅,不明白男女之事,刚才这么一刀,她未必知道斩在何处,胡里胡涂的嫁了过来,木已成舟,已无话可说,说不定她还以为天下男子都是这样的。”韦小宝低声道:“公主年幼,这种事情是不懂的,她是尊贵之人,也说不出口。”吴三桂大喜,心想:“英雄所见略同。”随即转念:“他妈的,这小子是甚么英雄了,居然跟我相提并论?”说道:“是,是。咱们就是这么办。刚才的事,咱们也不是胆敢隐瞒皇上。不过万岁爷日理万机,忧心国事,已是忙碌之极,咱们做奴才的忠君爱国,可不能再多让皇上操心。太后和皇上钟爱公主,听到这种事情,只怕要不快活。韦兄弟,咱们做官的要诀,是报喜不报忧。”韦小宝一拍胸膛,又弹了弹自己帽子,慨然道:“小将今后全仗王爷栽培提拔,这件事自当拚了小命,凭着王爷吩咐办理。”吴三桂连连称谢。韦小宝道:“不过今晚之事,见到的人多,倘若有旁人泄漏出去,可跟小将没有干系。”吴三桂道:“这个自然。”
Presently Trinket emerged from the inner room, shaking his head gravely. The Satrap hurried forward. ‘How is Her Highness?’ he mumbled.’Alive,’ replied Trinket. ‘But determined to kill herself. And once she’s set her mind on something, we all know what she can be like. I’ve told her maids to keep a close watch on her, and not to let her out of their sight. I’m worried she may try to take poison next, sir.’The Satrap’s face darkened. He nodded.’Yes, yes. We must take the utmost care to stop anything like that from happening.’Secretly he was thinking to himself”Our only hope is that the Princess may still be too young to understand what has happened, too innocent to know the value of what my son has lost, and of what she will be deprived of as a result!’ The poor, deluded Satrap-little did he know. . . .He next broached with Trinket the possibility of keeping the news of his son’s unfortunate mutilation a secret from the Emperor. After all, His Majesty was so busy, he argued, it would be an act of loyalty to spare him (and the Empress Dowager) the gruesome details and the inevitable distress that such news would cause. Trinket indicated that he was quite amenable to this idea. ‘But how’, he asked, ‘were they to silence all the other witnesses? ‘I’ll think of something,’ replied the Satrap.

心中已在筹划,怎地点一枝兵马,假扮强盗,到广西境内埋伏,待韦小宝等一行回京之时,一古脑儿的将他们都杀了。广西是孙延庆的辖地,他妻子孔四贞是定南王孔有德的女儿,太后收了她为干女儿,封为和硕格格,朝廷甚是宠幸。治境不靖、盗贼戕官的罪名,就由孔四贞去担当罢。韦小宝虽然机灵,究不及吴三桂老谋深算,见他心有所思,只道他还在担心此事泄漏于外,笑道:“王爷放心,小将尽力约束属下,命他们不得随口乱说。”吴三桂道:“韦兄弟今日帮了我这个大忙,那不是金银珠宝酬谢得了的。不过韦兄弟统带的官兵不少,要塞住他们的嘴巴,总得让小王尽些心意,回头就差人送过来。”韦小宝道:“这就多谢了。只不知世子伤势怎样,咱们去瞧瞧,只盼伤得不重才好。”吴三桂和他同去探视。
The Satrap had indeed already started thinking of a way to resolve this problem. He was plotting to lay an ambush for Trinket and his entire party on their way home-his own men, disguised as robbers, would lie in wait for them in some lonely part of Guangxi Province. That way he could dispose of the lot of them. Dead men tell no tales. The blame for their deaths would fall on the Provincial Governor of Guangxi, who would be taken to task for not having maintained law and order in his domain. That particular governor was a certain Sun Yanling, who had married the daughter of Kong Youde, a former general serving the Manchu cause. The daughter was held in great favour at Court, and had even been granted the status of a minor princess on account of her father’s services. It would fall to her to sort the whole thing out.Needless to say, Trinket was totally unaware of what was going through the Satrap’s mind, and attributed his long silence to a more general concern lest the news of his son’s disgrace should leak out.The two of them now went to consult with the physician who had been examining the extent of Young Wu’s injuries.

那大夫皱眉道:“世子性命是不碍的,不过……不过……”吴三桂点头道:“性命不碍就好。”生怕韦小宝要扣押儿子,吩咐家将立即送世子回府养伤,亲自绊住了韦小宝,防有变卦,直至吴应熊出了安阜园,这才告辞。韦小宝心想:“小汉奸醒转之后,定要说明真相,但那有甚么用?谁信得过一位金枝玉叶的公主,平白无端的会将丈夫阉了?就是大汉奸自己,也决计不信,多半还会狠狠将儿子痛骂一顿。”又想:“公主这一嫁出,回北京之时,一路上可得向阿珂大下功夫了。”
‘His life is in no danger’ reported the doctor. ‘But as for his … I fear that. The Satrap nodded and commented’ ‘At least he is still alive!’ He gave orders for his son to be taken home, and continued to occupy Trinket in conversation, fearful that he might try to interrogate Young Wu. Only when his son had left the An Fu Gardens did the Satrap take his leave. Trinket for his part began to reflect on what Young Wu himself might say once he regained consciousness. But in the circumstances it was highly unlikely that his version of events would be believed by anyone-even by his own father.

回到住处,徐天川、玄贞等早已得讯,无不抚掌称快。韦小宝也不向他们说明实情,问起嫖院之事,群雄说道依计行事,一切顺利。韦小宝心想:今晚发生了这件大事,倘若立即派兵回京,大汉奸定疑心我是去向皇上禀告,还是待事定之后,再送这蒙古大胡子出去。忙乱了一夜,群雄正要退出,忽然御前侍卫赵齐贤匆匆走到门外,说道:“启禀总管:平西王遇刺!”
Returning to his quarters, he learned from his Triad Brothers that the brothel ‘rape’, and the ‘killing’ of the fake Hatty, had all gone according to plan; they could now proceed to Peking with their Mongol witness, who would be made to testify to the Satrap’s mutinous intentions, and to his sinister plan to create an anti’Imperial alliance with the Mongols, the Tibetans, and the Russians. Trinket reflected that in view of recent developments, it would be prudent not to send the party off to Peking there and then. The Satrap might suspect that he was reporting to the Emperor on his son’s misdemeanours. Altogether it had been an extremely hectic night. The Triads were just about to leave Trinket, and go on their way, when a distraught Captain Zhao of the Palace Guards came knocking on Trinket’s door, bearing the most astonishing tidings’ ‘Someone has tried to murder the Satrap!’

An Attempt on the Satrap’s Life

韦小宝大吃一惊,忙问:“刺死了吗?刺客是谁?”他不想让赵齐贤见到天地会群雄深夜在他房中聚会,当即走到门外,又问:“大汉……大……平西王有没有死?”赵齐贤道:“没有死,听说只受了点轻伤。刺客当场逮住,原来……原来是公主身边的宫女。”韦小宝又是一惊,连问:“是公主身边的宫女?哪一个宫女?为甚么要行刺平西王?”赵齐贤道:“详情不知。属下一得平西王遇刺的讯息,即刻赶来禀报。”韦小宝道:“快去查明回报。”
An Attempt on the Satrap’s Life ‘Is he dead?’ cried the startled Trinket through the door. ‘Who did it?’ The last thing he wanted was that Captain Zhao should discover him entertaining Triad visitors in his apartment in the dead of the night, so he went outside to speak to him. ‘He’s still alive,’ replied the captain. ‘He was only slightly wounded. The person has been arrested. It turns out to have been one of the Princess’ maids.’ ‘Which one?’ enquired Trinket. ‘What would one of the Princess’ maids want to kill the Satrap for?’ Zhao said he had no idea, and Trinket sent him off to try and ascertain more details.

赵齐贤答应了,刚回身走出几步,只见张康年快步走来,说道:“启禀总管:行刺平西王的宫女,名叫王可儿。”韦小宝身子晃了一晃,颤声道:“她……她……为了甚么?”王可儿便是阿珂的化名,是将“珂”字拆开而成。张康年道:“平西王已将她带回府中,说是要亲自审问,到底是何人指使。”韦小宝一听得心上人被逮,脑子中一片混乱,再也想不出主意。张康年道:“大家都说,又有谁主使她了?这王可儿是个十六七岁的小姑娘,定是她忠于公主,眼见公主受辱自尽,心下不忿,因此要为公主出气报仇。”韦小宝在一团漆黑之中,斗然见到一线光明,忙道:“对,对,定是如此。这样一个美貌小姑娘,跟平西王有甚么怨仇?咱们就是要行刺平西王,也决计不会派个小姑娘去。”
Just as Zhao was about to leave, Trinket’s other friend from the Palace Guards, Captain Zhang Kangnian, arrived to report that the maid they had arrested was someone called Ah Kor. Trinket nearly fainted when he heard Green Girl’s name. ‘Why . . . why should she want to do such a thing?’ ‘The Satrap has taken her back to his palace for questioning, to find out who was behind it’ was all Zhang could offer by way of reply. Trinket was utterly devastated at the thought that his darling had been apprehended. Captain Zhao suggested that perhaps this maid had wanted to strike a blow on behalf of her injured mistress the Princess, and Trinket clutched at this straw. ‘Yes! That must be it! We would never have chosen a lovely girl like that to murder the Satrap.’ For a moment, Trinket had forgotten that he was talking to two Captains of the Guard, not to his Triad friends.

赵齐贤和张康提年互望一眼,均想:“韦副总管说话有些乱了,咱们怎会派人去行刺平西王?”张康年道:“想来平西王也不会疑心到别人头上。这件事张扬开来,谁都没好处。他多半派人悄悄将这宫女杀了,就此了事。”韦小宝颤声道:“杀不得,杀不得!他如杀了,老子跟他拚命,跟这老乌龟大汉奸白刀子进,红刀子出。”赵张二人又是对望一眼,心下起疑:“难道是韦副总管恼怒公主受辱,派这宫女行刺?”二人垂手站立,不敢接口。韦小宝道:“那怎么办?那怎么办?”张康年见他犹如神不守舍,焦急万状,安慰他道:“韦副总管,这事当真闹将出来,告到皇上跟前,追究罪魁祸首,那也是吴三桂父子的不是。强奸公主,那还了得?何况吴三桂又没死,就算他查明了指使之人,咱们给他抵死不认,他也无可奈何。”韦小宝摇头苦笑,说道:“的的确确,不是我指使她的。咱们自己兄弟,难道还用得相瞒?”
The two captains looked at one another in bewilderment. Had their commanding officer taken leave of his senses’ ‘The Satrap will most probably have the maid quietly put to death’ commented Zhang. The last thing he wants at the moment is a lot of fuss.’ ‘No! She mustn’t be killed!’ Trinket’s voice was trembling. ‘If she dies, I die too! I’ll stab that traitor of a turtle myself!’ Zhang and Zhao exchanged another startled glance. Had their Colonel sent the girl himself’ Had he given orders for the Satrap to be killed, in a fit of anger at the Princess’ disgraceful treatment’ Neither of them dared say a word. Trinket seemed to read their thoughts. ‘Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with us. But what are we to do?’

赵齐贤和张康年登时放心,同时长长舒了口气。赵齐贤道:“那就好办了,咱们蒙头大睡,诈作不知,也就是了。”韦小宝道:“不行。两位大哥,请你们辛苦一趟,拿我的名帖去见平西王,说道王可儿冲撞了王爷,十分不该,我很是恼怒,但这是公主的贴身宫女,请王爷将这妞儿交给你们带来,由我禀明公主,重重责打,给王爷出气。”赵张二人答应了自去,都觉未免多此一举,由吴三桂将这宫女悄悄杀了,神不知,鬼不觉,大家太平无事。韦小宝匆匆来到九难房外,推门而进,见她在床上打坐,刚行功完毕,说道:“师父,你知道师姊……师姊的……的事吗?”九难问道:“甚么事?这样慌慌张张的。”韦个宝道:“师……师姊她……她去行刺大汉奸,却给……给逮住了。”九难眼中光芒一闪,问道:“可刺死了没有?”韦小宝道:“没有。可是……可是师姊给他捉去了。”
The two captains were hugely relieved to learn that he was not behind the attempted murder of Satrap Wu. Trinket then sent them to call on the Satrap with his visiting’card, and to request that he release the maid (for whose wicked deed he offered no excuses) back into the custody of the Princess, who would herself make sure that she was properly punished. They set off reluctantly on this mission, thinking to themselves that it would have been far better to wash their hands of the whole business and leave the maid to die. Trinket now went to call on the one’armed White Nun (or Sister Tribulation, to use her proper nom de religion). He found her in the midst of her meditations. When she had finished he approached her and said’ ‘Shifu . . . have you heard the news about . . . Green’ Ah Kor?’ ‘What news’ What are you in such a state about?’ ‘Shifu! She. . . she went to kill the Satrap. . . and she’s been caught!’

九难哼了一声,脸有失望之色,冷冷的道:“不中用的东西。”韦小宝微觉奇怪,心想:“她是你徒儿,她给大汉奸捉了去,你却毫不在乎。”转念一想,登时明白,说道:“师父,你有搭救师姊的法子,是不是?”九难瞪了他一眼,摇头道:“没有。这不中用的东西!”韦小宝一路之上,眼见师父对这师姊冷冷淡淡的,并不如何疼爱,远不及待自己好,可是师父不喜欢她,我韦小宝却喜欢得要命,急道:“大汉奸要杀了她的,只怕现下已打得她死去活来,说是要……要查明指使之人。”九难冷冷的道:“是我指使的。大汉奸有本事,让他来拿我便了。”
Trinket saw a steely light flash in Sister Tribulation’s eyes. ‘Did she succeed’ Is he dead?’ ‘No. He’s still alive. And she was captured by the Satrap’s men!’ Tribulation sighed. ‘Useless creature!’ At first Trinket was astonished to see her so unconcerned for the welfare of her own disciple. Then’ ‘I understand!’ he cried. ‘You’ve got a plan to save her, haven’t you?’ Tribulation shook her head. ‘No. I haven’t got anything of the kind.’ She may not care about her, thought Trinket, but I do! I care about her a lot! ‘Don’t you see?’ he cried. The Satrap’s going to kill her! In fact, he’s probably killed her already. And then he plans to find out who sent her!’ ‘It was me,’ said the nun calmly. ‘I sent her. Let him come and find me, if he has the courage!’

九难指使徒儿去行刺吴三桂,韦小宝听了倒毫不诧异。她是前明崇祯皇帝的公主,大明江山送在吴三桂手里,对此人自然恨之切骨,而她自己,也就曾在五台山上行刺过康熙。可是阿珂武功平平,吴三桂身边高手卫士极多,就算行刺得手,也是难以脱逃,师父指使她去办这件事,岂非明明要她去送命?韦小宝心中疑团甚多,却也不敢直言相询,说道:“师姊决不会招出师父来的。”九难道:“是吗?”说着闭上了眼。韦小宝不敢再问,走出房外。料想赵张两人向吴三桂要人,不会这么快就能回来,在厅上踱来踱去,眼见天色渐明,接连差了三批侍卫去打探消息,一直不见回报。到后来实在忍不住了,点了一队骁骑营军士,亲自率领了,向平西王府行去,开到离王府三里处的法慧寺中扎下,又差侍卫飞马去探。
In a way this did not surprise Trinket. After all, she was the daughter of the last Emperor of the Ming, and it was Satrap Wu who had betrayed the Empire into the hands of the Manchus. It was only natural that she should hate him to the very core of her being. Had she not already herself tried to kill the Manchu Emperor, on Wutai’ But he was surprised that she should have sent an inexperienced fighter such as Green to carry out this mission. Was she deliberately sending her to her death’ He did not dare voice this doubt. Instead he said’ ‘I know Green would never betray you, Shifu.’ ‘Really?’ The nun closed her eyes. Trinket left her there, and walked back to his own apartment. Dawn was breaking, but it was still too early for captains Zhao and Zhang to have returned. He paced anxiously up and down the hall, from time to time sending one of the guards to find out if there was any news, but to no avail. Finally the suspense was too much for him. He selected a few cavalry guards and set off at their head in the direction of the Satrap’s palace. When he came to the Temple of Dharma Wisdom, a mile or two from the palace, he tethered his own horse and sent the other men ahead post’haste to scout out the situation.

过了一顿饭时分,只听得蹄声急促,张康年快马驰来,向韦小宝禀报:“属下和赵齐贤奉副总管之命去见平西王。王爷一直没接见。赵齐贤还在王府门房中相候。”韦小宝又急又怒,顿足骂道:“他妈的,吴三桂好大架子!”张康年道:“他是威镇一方的王爷,天下除了皇上,便是他大。他不见我们小小侍卫,那也是平常得紧。”韦小宝怒道:“我亲自去见他,你们都跟我来!”韦小宝回头吩咐一名骁骑营的佐领:“把我们的队伍都调过来,在吴三桂这狗窝子外候命。”那佐领接令而去。张康年等众人听了,均有惊惧之色,瞧韦小宝气急败坏的模样,简直便是要跟吴三桂火併;可是平西王麾下兵马众多,从北京护送公主来滇的只两千多官兵,若是动手,只怕不到半个时辰,就给杀得干干净净。张康年道:“韦副总管,你是钦差大臣,奉了皇上之命来到昆明,有甚么事跟他好好商量,平西王不能不卖你的面子。以属下之见,不妨慢慢的来。”韦小宝怒道:“他妈的,吴三桂甚么东西?咱们倘若慢慢的来,他把我老……把那王可儿杀了,谁能救得活她?”张康年见他疾言厉色,不敢再说,心想:“杀一个宫女,又有甚么大不了?她又不是你亲妹子,用得着这么大动阵仗?”韦小宝连叫:“带马,带马!”翻身上马,纵马疾驰,来到平西王府前。王府的门公侍卫见是钦差大臣,忙迎入大厅,快步入内禀报。
Half an hour or so later he heard the sound of clattering hooves, and Zhang Kangnian came galloping up. ‘Captain Zhao and I conveyed your message to the Satrap. He refused to receive us. Captain Zhao is still there waiting.’ Trinket stamped his foot angrily. That dirty turtle’head has a nerve!’ Zhang tried to point out to his superior that it was nothing out of the ordinary for such an eminent person as the Satrap (the second most powerful person in the land after the Emperor, after all) to refuse to receive a couple of junior officers. ‘I shall call on him myself!’ cried Trinket. ‘Come with me!’ Trinket would not be dissuaded. He vaulted onto a horse, and galloped to the Satrap’s palace. The Satrap’s guards welcomed him and went hurrying on ahead to announce his arrival.

At the Satrap’s Palace

夏国相和马宝两名总兵双双出迎。夏国相是吴三桂的女婿,位居十总兵之首,向韦小宝行过礼后,说道:“韦爵爷,王爷被遇刺的讯息,想来你已得知了。王爷受伤不轻,不能亲自迎接,还请恕罪。”韦小宝吃了一惊,道:“王爷受了伤?不是说没受伤吗?”夏国相脸有忧色,低声道:“王爷胸口给刺客刺了一剑,伤口有三四寸深……”韦小宝失惊道:“啊哟,这可糟了。”夏国相皱起眉头,说道:“王爷这番能……能不能脱险,眼前还难说得很。我们怕动摇了人心,因此没泄漏,只说并没受伤。韦爵爷是自己人,自然不能相瞒。”韦小宝道:“我去探望王爷。”
Two of the Satrap’s top officers came out to receive Trinket’ General Xia, and Brigadier Ma Bao. Xia was married to the Satrap’s daughter and was commander’in’chief of the Satrap’s army. He bowed politely to Trinket.’Viscount Wei, I think you must have heard the news of the attempt on Prince Wu’s life. He is seriously wounded, and hopes you will forgive him for being unable to receive you in person.”I thought he had escaped unharmed!’ exclaimed Trinket.’Indeed not. His Highness received a sword wound in the chest,’ replied Xia, speaking in a tone of subdued gravity. The blade entered to a depth of some three or four inches.”But that’s terrible!’ cried Trinket.General Xia frowned.’It is too soon to know whether His Highness will live. We nave not wanted to cause a disturbance, and have withheld the news from the public. Instead we have let it be understood that His Highness escaped unharmed. But since you are his close friend, sir, we considered it imperative to tell you the truth.’ ‘I must go in and call on His Highness,’ said Trinket. ‘I insist.’

夏马二人对望一眼。夏国相道:“小人带路。”来到吴三桂的卧房,夏国相道:“岳父,韦爵爷探您老人家来啦。”听得吴三桂在帐中呻吟了几声,并不答应。夏国相揭起帐子,只见吴三桂皱眉咬牙,正自强忍痛苦,床褥被盖上都溅满了鲜血,胸口绑上了绷带,带中还在不断渗出血水。床边站着两名大夫,都是愁眉深锁。
Xia and Ma exchanged glances. ‘Follow us! This way, sir!’ The two officers led the way to the Satrap’s private apartment. Xia announced that Viscount Trinket had come to visit and they heard a muffled groan from within the canopied bedstead. General Xia drew aside the curtain and they saw the Satrap frowning and clenching his teeth with pain. His covers were still spattered with blood, and his chest was heavily bandaged. Blood continued to seep through the bandages. Two physicians stood by the bedside, both the picture of gloom.

韦小宝没料到吴三桂受伤如此沉重,原来的满腔怒气,刹那间化为乌有,不由得大为耽心。吴三桂是死是活,他本也不放在心上,但此人倘若伤重而死,要救阿珂是更加难了,低声问道:“王爷,你伤口痛得厉害么?”吴三桂“嗬嗬”的叫了几声,双目瞪视,全无光采。夏国相又道:“岳父,是韦爵爷来探望你老人家。”吴三桂“哎唷,哎唷”的叫将起来,说道:“我……我不成啦。你们……你们快去把应熊……应熊这小畜生杀了,都……都是他害……害死我的……”夏国相不敢答应,轻轻放下了帐子,和韦小宝走出房外。
Trinket had not been prepared to see Wu so badly wounded. In that instant his anger evaporated, and was replaced by a feeling of urgent concern’ not for the Satrap (he did not care a fig whether the fat villain lived or died), but for Green. The Satrap’s death would make it even harder to rescue her. ‘Your Highness, is the pain very bad?’ he mumbled. Wu groaned and stared lifelessly in front of him. ‘I’m . . . done for. … Go and fetch that useless son of mine and . . . kill him! This is all his doing!’ General Xia dared not say anything in reply. He let down the curtain and led Trinket out of the room.

夏国相一出房门,便双手遮面,哭道:“韦爵爷,王爷……王爷是不成的了。他老人家一生为国尽忠,却落得如此下场,当真……当真是皇天不佑善人了。”韦小宝心道:“为国尽个屁忠!皇天不佑大汉奸,那是天经地义。”说道:“夏总兵,我看王爷虽然伤重,却一定死不了。”夏国相道:“谢天谢地,但愿如爵爷金口。却不知何以见得?”韦小宝道:“我会看相。王爷的相,贵不可言。他将来做的官儿,比今日还要大上百倍。这一次决不会死的。”吴三桂贵为亲王,云贵两省军民政务全由他一人统辖,爵位已至顶峰,官职也已到了极点。韦小宝说他将来做的官儿比今日还要大上百倍,除了做皇帝之外,还有甚么官比平西王大上百倍?
‘That our great Prince should die like this!’ he lamented aloud. ‘After all he has done for his country! After a lifetime’s devotion! It is so unjust!’ ‘Lifetime’s devotion my twat!’ Trinket expostulated silently to himself. ‘He lived like a dog, and he deserves to die like a dog!’ Aloud he said’ ‘General Xia, I think the Prince will certainly live.’ ‘How can you tell, sir?’ ‘Because I can read men’s futures in their faces. His face speaks of a great future. I can tell that one day he will be raised to a height even greater than his present one.’

夏国相一听,脸色大变,说道:“皇恩浩荡,我们王爷的爵禄已到极顶,再升是不能升了。只盼如韦爵爷金口,他老人家能逢凶化吉,遇难呈祥。”韦小宝见了他的神色,心想:“吴三桂要造反,你十九早已知道了,否则为甚么我一说他要高升百倍,你就吓成这个样子?我索性再吓他一吓。”说道:“夏总兵尽管放心,我看你的相,那也是贵不可言,日后还得请你多多提拔,多多栽培。”夏国相请了个安,恭恭敬敬的道:“钦差大人言重了。大人奖勉有加,小将自当忠君报国,不敢负了钦差大人的期许。”韦小宝笑道:“嘿嘿,好好的干!你们世子做了额驸,便官封少保,兼太子太保。就是当年岳飞岳爷爷,朱仙镇大破金兵,杀得金兀术屁滚尿流,也不过是官封少保。一做公主的丈夫,就能有这般好处。夏总兵,好好的干!”一面说,一面向外走出。夏国相吓得手心中全是冷汗,心道:“听这小子的说话,竟是指明我岳父要做皇帝。难道……难道这事竟走漏了风声?还是这小子不知天高地厚,满口胡说八道?”韦小宝走到回廊之中,站定了脚步,问道:“行刺王爷的刺客,可逮到了?到底是甚么人?是谁指使的?是前明余孽?还是沐王府的人?”
General Xia’s face darkened when he heard these words, and he hastened to protest that his master had already been raised so high by the great kindness of His Majesty that he could never hope to be raised any higher. Yes, thought Trinket, that’s true enough’ the only way he can get any higher is by rebelling against the Throne, and becoming Emperor himself! Which you and I both know is exactly what he is planning to do. Which is why you reacted the way you did just now. You were scared that I might know too much. Ha, I think I’ll try and give you another little scare!’You too have a face that speaks of great things to come. After all, when he, the Lord and Master, rises, it only makes sense that the man married to his daughter the Princess should have his share of glory.As he said this, Trinket started walking out of the room. Xia was aghast. The palms of his hands went clammy with fear.’Could it be that our confidential plans for the rebellion have leaked out?’ he wondered to himself. ‘Or is this young whippersnapper just talking a load of rubbish?’Outside in the corridor Trinket asked him’Tell me, has the would’be assassin been captured’ What sort of person was it’ Who was behind it’ Some Ming Loyalist’ One of the Mu Family bravos?’

夏国相道:“刺客是个女子,名叫王可儿,有人胡说……说她是公主身边的宫女。小将就是不信,多半是冒充。钦差大人明见,小将拜服之至,这人只怕是沐家派来的。”韦小宝蓦地一惊,暗叫:“不好!他们不敢得罪公主,诬指阿珂是沐王府的人,便能胡乱处死了。这可糟糕之极。”说道:“王可儿?公主有个贴身宫女,就叫王可儿。公主喜欢她得紧,片刻不能离身。这女子可是十七八岁年纪,身材苗条,容貌十分美丽的?”夏国相微一迟疑,说道:“小将一心挂念王爷的伤势,没去留意刺客。这女子若不是冒充宫女,便是名同人不同。钦差大人请想,这位姓王的宫女既然深得公主宠爱,平素受公主教导,定然知书识礼,温柔和顺,那有行刺王爷之理?这决计不是。”他越是坚称刺客绝非公主的宫女,韦小宝越是心惊,颤声问道:“你们已……已杀了她么?”夏国相道:“那倒没有,要等王爷痊愈,亲自详加审问,查明背后指使之人。”韦小宝心中略宽,说道:“你带我去瞧瞧这个刺客,是真宫女还是假宫女,我一看便知。”
‘It’s a woman,’ replied General Xia. ‘Her name is Ah Kor. Someone said she’s in service with the Princess-but I find that hard to believe. I think you are right, she is most probably one of the Mu Family, pretending to be a maid.’This gave Trinket a visible shock.’I see what they’re up to,’ he thought to himself. ‘By passing it off as the work of the Mu Family, and not connected with the Princess, they think they can get away with killing her. This is looking even worse than I thought.”Has she already been . . .’ Trinket hesitated. ‘Put to death?”We are waiting for His Highness to recover. He will want to look into this personally, and decide who was behind the plot.’Trinket breathed a little more easily. He continued”I should like to visit this young lady myself. I shall be able to tell at once if she is a genuine maid in the Princess’ service.’

夏国相道:“这可不敢劳动钦差大人的大驾。这刺客决计不是公主身边的宫女,外面谣言很多,大人不必理会。”韦小宝脸色一沉,道:“王爷遇刺,伤势很重,倘若有甚么三长两短,两短三长,那可谁也脱不了干系。本人回到北京,皇上自然要仔仔细细的问上一番,刺客是甚么人?何人指使?我如不亲眼瞧个清清楚楚,皇上问起来,又怎么往上回?难道你叫我胡说一通吗?这欺君之罪,我自然担当不起。夏总兵,嘿嘿,只怕你也担当不起哪。”
‘I hardly think that is necessary, sir,’ countered the general.’On the contrary’ I am sure His Majesty will want a full report from me when I return to the capital,’ insisted Trinket. This seemed to work at first, and General Xia mumbled’ ‘Of course, of course.’ But he did nothing.’What’s the matter’ Come on. Bring her out here smartish for me to have a look at!’

他一抬出皇帝的大帽子来,夏国相再也不敢违抗,连声答应:“是,是。”却不移步。韦小宝脸色不愉,说道:“夏总兵老是推三阻四,这中间到底有甚么古怪?你想要掉枪花,摆圈套,却也不妨拿出来瞧瞧,看我姓韦的是否对付得了。”他因心上人被擒,眼见凶多吉少,焦急之下,说话竟不留丝毫余地,官场中的虚伪面目,全都撕下来了。夏国相急道:“小将怎敢向钦差大人掉枪花?不过……不过这中间实在有个难处。”韦小宝冷冷的道:“是吗?”夏国相道:“不瞒钦差大人说,我们王爷向来御下很严,小将是他老人家女婿,王爷对待小将加倍严厉,以防下属背后说他老人家不公。”韦小宝微微一笑,说道:“你这女婿,是不好做得很了。王爷的王妃听说叫做陈圆圆,乃是天下第一美人。我大清得这江山,跟陈王妃很有些关系。你丈母娘既有羞花闭月之貌,你老婆大人自然也有沉鱼落雁之容了。你这个女婿做得过,做得过之至,只要多见丈母娘几次,给丈人打几次屁股,那也稀松平常……”夏国相道:“小将的妻室……”韦小宝说得高兴,又道:“常言道得好,丈母看女婿,馋唾滴滴涕。我瞧你哪,丈母娘这么美貌,这句话要反过来说了。女婿看丈母,馋唾吞落肚。哈哈,哈哈。”

夏国相神色尴尬,心想:“这小子胡说八道,说话便似个市井流氓,哪里有半分大官的样子?”说道:“小将的妻室不是陈王妃所生。”韦小宝叹道:“可惜,可惜,你运气不好。”脸色一沉,说道:“我要去审问刺客,你却尽来跟我东拉西扯,直扯到你丈母娘身上,嘿嘿,真是奇哉怪也。”夏国相越来越怒,脸上仍是一副恭谨神色,说道:“钦差大人要去审问刺客,那是再好不过,钦差大人问一句,胜过我们问一百句、一千句。就只怕王爷……王爷……”韦小宝怒道:“王爷怎么了?他不许我审问刺客么?”夏国相忙道:“不是,不是。钦差大人不可误会。大人去瞧瞧刺客,查明这女子的来历,我们王爷只有感激,决无拦阻之理。小将斗胆,有一句话,请大人别见怪。”韦小宝顿足道:“唉,你这人说话吞吞吐吐,没半点大丈夫气概,定是平日在老婆床前跪得多了。快说,快说!”夏国相心中骂道:“你姓韦的十八代祖宗,个个都是畜生。”说道:“就只怕那刺客万一就是公主身边的宫女,大人一见之下,便提了去,王爷要起人来,小将交不出,那……那可糟糕之极了。”韦小宝心道:“你这家伙当真狡猾得紧。把话儿说在前头,要我答应不提刺客。你奶奶的,这刺客是我亲亲老婆,岂容你们欺侮?”笑道:“你说过刺客决非公主的宫女,那又何必担心?”夏国相道:“那是小将的揣测,究竟如何,实在也不明白。”韦小宝道:“你是不许我把刺客提走?”

夏国相道:“不敢。钦差大人请在厅上稍行宽坐,待小将去禀明王爷,以后的事,自有王爷跟钦差大人两位作主。就算王爷生气,也怪不到小将头上。”韦小宝心道:“原来你是怕给岳父打屁股,不肯担干系。”嘿嘿一笑,说道:“好,你去禀告罢。我跟你说,不管王爷是睡着还是醒着,你给我即刻回来。你王爷身子要紧,我们公主的死活,却也不是小事。公主殿下给你世子欺侮之后,这会儿不知怎样了,我可得赶着回去瞧瞧。”他生怕吴三桂昏迷未醒,夏国相就此守在床边,再也不出来了。夏国相躬身道:“决计不敢误了钦差大人的事。”韦小宝哼了一声,冷笑道:“这是你们的事,可不是我的事。”夏国相进去之后,毕竟还是过了好一会这才出来,韦小宝已等得十分不耐,连连跺脚。夏国相道:“王爷仍未十分清醒。小将怕钦差大人等得心焦,匆匆禀告之后,来不及等候王爷的谕示,这就来侍候大人去审问刺客。钦差大人请。”
His anxiety on behalf of his beloved was driving him to forsake all semblance of politeness. After a great deal more bantering exchange, he managed to pressurize Xia into going in and consulting with his master the Prince. Xia returned after a long interval of time, to report that Prince Wu was still asleep, and that rather than wait indefinitely for him to wake up, he had decided to take the initiative himself. ‘So, if you will come this way, sir, I can take you in to see the young woman now.’

The Assassin?

韦小宝点点头,跟着他走向内进,穿过了几条回廊,来到花园之中。只见园中数十名家将手执兵刃,来回巡逻,戒备森严。夏国相引着他走到一座大假山前,向一名武官出示一支金批令箭,说道:“奉王爷谕,侍候钦差大人前来审讯刺客。”那武官验了令箭,躬身道:“钦差大人请,总兵大人请。”侧身让在一旁。夏国相道:“小将带路。”从假山石洞中走了进去。韦小宝跟着入内,走不几步,便见到一扇大铁门,门旁有两名家将把守。原来这假山是地牢的入口。一连过了三道铁门,渐行渐低,来到一间小室之前。室前装着粗大铁栅,栅后一个少女席地而坐,双手捧头,正在低声饮泣。墙上装有几盏油灯,发出淡淡黄光。韦小宝快步而前,双手握住了铁栅,凝目注视着那少女。
Trinket followed Xia down several walkways until they reached a garden. Between forty and fifty of the Satrap’s crack troops were there, heavily armed, patrolling the place. General Xia presented an official tally and demanded to be let through. The soldiers made way for the two of them, and General Xia led Trinket into a passageway that had been created in the side of an artificial rockery. Presently they came to a large metal door, guarded by two more soldiers. The rockery was, it transpired, masking the entrance to the Satrap’s secret jail. There were three metal doors, one after the other, and as they passed through them they descended deeper and deeper underground. Finally they came to a little room, separated from the rest of the subterranean compound by a heavy metal grill. Through the grill, it was possible to distinguish the form of a woman seated on the ground, holding her head in both hands and quietly sobbing to herself. The only light in the room (and it was a very dim one) came from a couple of oil lamps on the walls. Trinket hurried up to the bars, grasped them in his hands, and gazed intently at the woman.

夏国相喝道:“站起来,钦差大人有话问你。”那少女回过头来,灯光照到她脸上。韦小宝和她四目交投,都是“啊”的一声惊呼。那少女立即站起,手脚上的铁链发出呛呛啷啷声响,说道:“怎……怎么你在这里?”两人都是惊奇之极。韦小宝万万想不到,这少女并非阿珂,而是沐王府的小郡主沐剑屏。
‘Stand up, you!’ cried General Xia. ‘You have a visitor-an important visitor!’ The woman turned to look, and the lamplight fell on her face. She and Trinket exchanged a quick glance, and each of them let out a gasp of surprise. She rose to her feet, and as she did so the shackles on her hands and feet made a melancholy clanging sound. ‘What are … you doing here?’ she asked. To Trinket’s utter astonishment he saw that the woman before him was not Ah Kor at all. She was not Green Girl-but the Little Countess, Mu Jianping!

他定了定神,转头问夏国相:“为甚么将她关在这里?”夏国相道:“大人识得刺客?她……她果然是服侍公主的宫女吗?”脸色之诧异,实不下于韦小宝与沐剑屏。韦小宝道:“她……她是行刺吴……行刺王爷的剑客?”夏国相道:“是啊,这女子胆大之极,干这等犯上作乱之事,到底是谁人主使,还请大人详加审问。”韦小宝稍觉放心:“原来大家都误会了,行刺吴三桂的不是阿珂,却是沐家的小郡主。她父亲被吴三桂害死,她出手行刺,为父亲报仇,自然毫不希奇。”又问夏国相:“她自己说名叫王可儿?是公主身边的宫女?”夏国相道:“我们抓到了之后,问她姓名来历,主使之人,她甚么也不肯说。但有人认得她是宫女王可儿。不知是也不是,要请大人见示。”
Struggling to compose himself, he turned to General Xia.’Why have you got her chained up in here?”Why, are you acquainted with this woman, sir?’ replied the general. ‘Is she one of the Princess’ maids?’He was beginning to sound as bewildered as they were.’Is this the one who tried to kill the Sa. . . I mean, Prince Wu?’ asked Trinket.’That is correct. But what we want to know is, who put her up to it?”So they were all wrong,’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘It was the Little Countess who did it. She had a good motive, after all. The Satrap killed her father.”Tell me,’ he asked the general, ‘did she herself say that her name was Ah Kor, and that she was a maid in service with the Princess?”As a matter of fact, when we captured her she refused to say anything. Somebody else recognized her as the Princess’ maid. What do you say, sir’ Is she or isn’t she?’

韦小宝思忖:“小郡主被擒,我自当设法相救。她也是我的老婆,做人不可偏心。”说道:“她自然是公主身边的宫女,公主是十分喜欢她的。”说着向沐剑屏眨了眨眼睛,说道:“你干么来行刺平西王?不要小命了吗?到底是谁主使?快快招来,免得皮肉受苦。”沐剑屏慨然道:“吴三桂这大汉奸,认贼作父,把大明江山奉送给了鞑子,凡是汉人,哪一个不想取他性命?我只可惜没能杀了这奸贼。”
Trinket was thinking.The Little Countess is married to me too. I have a duty to rescue her as well! I mustn’t be partial.”Yes,’ he replied. ‘She is one of the maids. In fact, she’s Her Highness’ favourite maid.’As he said this he gave the Little Countess a wink.’What sort of nonsense did you think you were up to, trying to murder His Highness Prince Wu’ Are you crazy’ Do you want to get yourself killed’ Who sent you’ Come on, confess, it’ll be easier for you in the end.’This provoked a spirited response from the Little Countess”That great fat traitor the Satrap is hated by every self’respecting Chinese man and woman in the land! He betrayed our country to the Tartars! Anyone with Chinese blood in their veins would be happy to kill him! My only regret is that I didn’t succeed!’

韦小宝假意怒道:“小小丫头,这等无法无天。你在宫里耽了这么久,竟一点规矩也不懂。胆敢说这种大逆不道的话?你不怕杀头吗?”沐剑屏道:“你在宫里耽得比我久得多,你又知道甚么规矩?我怕杀头,也不来昆明杀吴三桂这大汉奸了。”韦小宝走上一步,喝道:“快快招来,到底是谁指使你来行刺?同党还有何人?”一面说,一面右手拇指向身后指了几指,要小郡主诬攀夏国相。他身子挡住了手指,夏国相站在他后面,见不到他手势和挤眉弄眼的神情。沐剑屏会意,伸手指着夏国相,大声道:“我的同党就是他,是他指使我的。”
Trinket put on a little show of anger.’You shameless hussy! Have all your years of service in the Palace taught you nothing’ Aren’t you afraid to die?”And what about you?’ retorted the Little Countess. ‘What about all your years in the service of those Tartars’ Have you no shame?’Trinket advanced towards her and cried’ ‘You must confess! Who sent you here’ Who else is in this plot with you?’ As he advanced, with his back to the general, Trinket was secretly gesticulating and grimacing in such a way as to suggest to the Little Countess that she should somehow implicate General Xia himself in the plot. She tumbled to the idea very quickly. ‘It was him’ she cried, pointing at Xia. ‘He sent me!’

夏国相大怒,喝道:“胡说八道!”沐剑屏道:“你还想赖?你叫我行刺吴三桂。你说吴三桂这人坏极了,大家都恨死了他。你说……你说刺死了吴三桂后,你就可以……可以……”她不知夏国相是甚么身份,又不善说谎,一时接不下去。韦小宝道:“他就可以升官发财,从此没人打他骂他?”沐剑屏大声道:“对啦,他说吴三桂常常打他骂他,待他很凶,他心里气得很,早就想亲手杀了吴三桂,就是……就是没胆子。”夏国相连声喝骂,沐剑屏全不理会。韦小宝喝道:“你说话可得小心些。你知道这将军是谁?他是平西王的女婿夏国相夏总兵,平西王虽然有时打他骂他,那都是为了他好。”说着在胸前竖起大拇指,赞她说得好。
‘Stuff and nonsense!’ shouted Xia angrily. ‘How dare you lie!’ protested the Little Countess. ‘You sent me to kill the Satrap. You said he was an evil man and that everyone wanted him dead. You said that with him out of the way you could . . .’ She was not quite sure of Xia’s rank, and hesitated. ‘Could become even more rich and powerful?’ Trinket suggested helpfully. ‘So no one would ever scold him and beat him again?’ ‘Yes, that’s it!’ cried the Little Countess. ‘You said you’d had enough of being treated like that. But you didn’t dare do the thing yourself.’ The general began shouting angrily at the Little Countess, but she paid him no attention. ‘You’d better be careful,’ said Trinket. ‘Do you have any idea who you’re talking to’ This is the Satrap’s son’in’law, General Xia.’ As he said this Trinket secretly stuck his thumb up, to let her know that she was doing a grand job.

沐剑屏道:“这夏总兵对我说,一杀了吴三桂,他自己就可做平西王。他说不论行刺成不成功,他都会放我出去,不让我吃半点苦头。可是他却关了我在这里。夏总兵,我听你吩咐,干了大事,你甚么时候放我出去?”夏国相怒极,心想:“你这臭丫头本来又不认得我,全是这小子说的。这混帐小子,为了要救你,拿老子来开玩笑。你二人原来相识,可真万万料想不到。”喝道:“你再胡言乱语,我打得你皮开肉绽,死去活来。”沐剑屏一惊,便不敢再说,心想韦小宝倘若相救不得,这武官定会狠狠对付自己。韦小宝道:“你心里有甚么话,不妨都说出来。这位夏总兵是我的好朋友,倘若真是他指使你行刺平西王,你老老实实跟我说,我也不会泄露出去。”说着又连使眼色。沐剑屏道:“他……他要打死我的,我不敢说了。”韦小宝道:“如此说来,这话是真的了。”说着叹了口气,退后几步,摇了摇头。夏国相道:“大人明鉴,反贼诬攀长官,事所常有,自然是当不得真的。”韦小宝沉吟道:“话是不错。不过平西王平时对夏总兵很严,夏总兵心下恼恨,想杀了岳父老头儿,这些话,只怕她一个小小女孩儿凭空也捏造不出。待平西王伤愈之后,我要好好劝他,免得你们丈人和女婿势成……势成那个水甚么,火甚么的。”先前夏国相听得沐剑屏诬攀,虽然恼怒,倒也不怎么在意,自己一生功名富贵,全由平西王所赐,没人相信自己会有不轨图谋,但韦小宝若去跟平西王说及此事,岳父定然以为自己心中怀恨,竟对外人口出怨言;岳父近年来脾气暴躁,御下极严,一听了这番话,只怕立有不测之祸,忙道:“王爷对待小将仁至义尽,便当是亲生儿子一般,小将心中感激万分。钦差大人千万不可跟王爷说这等话。”
‘That makes sense. He told me that when the Satrap was dead, he would be made Prince of the West. He said he’d make sure I escaped safely, whether I succeeded in killing the Satrap or not. He’d make sure I came to no harm. That’s what he said. And now he’s locked me up in here. General Xia, I’m waiting for you to stick to your side of the bargain.’ ‘Any more of that wicked nonsense and I’ll beat you till you’re all blood and bruises!’ roared General Xia in a rage. ‘I’ll beat you to death!’ He had more or less figured out what the two of them were up to. Somehow he had to put a stop to it, before it got out of hand. He turned to Trinket. ‘You surely cannot believe the story this stupid little maid has made up?’ Trinket shook his head pensively. ‘I don’t know. It seems a great deal for her to have made up on her own. We all know how difficult the Satrap can be. I shall have to wait until he is better and see what he himself has to say about all this.’This really seemed to put the wind up Xia.’I beg you, sir, don’t mention any of this to Prince Wu. You know how highly he regards you.’

韦小宝见他着急,微微一笑,说道:“人无伤虎意,虎有害人心。恩将仇报的事情,世上原是有的。平西王待我不错,我定要劝他好好提防,免得遭了自己人的毒手。平西王兵强马壮,身边有无数武功高手防卫,外人要害他,如何能够成功?可是内贼难防,自己人下毒手,只怕就躲不过了。”夏国相越听越是心惊,明知韦小宝的话无中生有,用意纯在搭救这少女,可是平西王疑心极重,对人人都有猜忌之心,前几日他亲兄弟吴三枚走入后堂,忘了除下佩刀,就给他亲手摘下刀来,痛骂了一顿。韦小宝倘若跟平西王去说甚么“外敌易御,内贼难防”的话,平西王就算不信,这番话在他心中生下了根,于自己前程必定大大有碍,当即低声道:“钦差大人提拔栽培,小将永远不敢忘了您老的大恩大德,大人但有所命,小将赴汤蹈火,在所不辞。便有天大的干系,小将也一力承担了。”韦小宝笑道:“我是为你着想啊。这丫头的话,天知地知,你知我知,还有小丫头知,一共是三个人知道。本来嘛,你早早将她一刀杀了灭口,倒也干净利落。这时候言入我耳,你要再灭口,须得将我也一刀杀了。我手下的侍卫兵将,早就防了这着,几千人都候在王府之外,你要杀我,比较起来要难上这么一点儿。”夏国相脸色一变,请了个安,道:“小将万万不敢。”韦小宝笑道:“既然灭不了口,这番话迟早都要传入平西王耳中。夏总兵,你是十大总兵的头儿,又是平西王的女婿,其余九位总兵,还有王府中的文武百官,喝你醋的人恐怕不少。常言道得好:开门七件事,柴米油盐酱醋茶。既然有人喝醋,加油添酱的事也就免不了啦。只要漏出了这么一点儿风声出去,平西王的耳根就不怎么清净了。人人在他老人家耳边说你坏话。加柴添草,煽风点火,平西王受了伤,病中脾气不会很好罢?这个……这个……唉!”说着连连摇头。韦小宝只不过照常情推测,夏国相却想这小子于我王府的事倒知得清楚,妒忌我的人确然不少,说道:“大人为小将着想,小将感激不尽,只不知如何才好?”韦小宝道:“这件事办起来,本来很有些为难,好罢,我就担些干系,交了你这朋友。你把这小丫头交给我带去,说是公主要亲自审问。”凑嘴到他耳边,低声道:“今儿晚上,我把她杀了,传了消息出来,说她抵死不招,受刑不过,就此呜呼哀哉。那不是大事化小,小事化无,一干二净,一清二楚吗?”
Trinket smiled. Clearly the general was now well and truly rattled. It was tempting to add more fuel to the flames.’On the contrary, I think it’s only right for me to advise the Satrap that the main threat to his person is to be expected from within his own ranks. He is far too heavily guarded and protected for an outsider to get anywhere near him. Of course, if the slightest word of this got out, if you were once suspected, the other high’ranking officers would just love a pretext to bring you down. The safest thing for you to have done would have been to have kitted the girl as soon as she was caught. But it’s a bit late for that now. After all, now 7 know about it too. And killing me might be a little trickier, given that I’ve got a few thousand guards of my own posted outside.’A bit more of this sort of intimidation, and General Xia seemed convinced that his entire life and future lay in Trinket’s hands. Trinket finally came to the point.’So’ there’s only one way out of this. I’ll do you a huge favour by taking on the responsibility myself. Just hand the girl over to me, and I’ll take her back to the Princess. You can say the Princess wants to question her personally about this affair.’Then, sotto voce to the general”I’ll have her killed myself. I’ll put it out that she refused to confess, and died under torture. I think that should take care of things nicely.’General Xia was too intelligent not to realize what Trinket was up to.

夏国相早料到他要说这几句话,心道:“他妈的混帐臭小子,你想救这小丫头,却还要我承你的情,是你臭小子帮了我一个大忙。只不过你怎会识得这小丫头,可真奇了。”问道:“大人的确认清楚了,她是公主身边的宫女?小将刚才盘问她之时,她对公主相貌年纪、宫里的情形,说得都不大对。”韦小宝道:“她不愿连累了公主,自然要故意说错了。这小丫头忠于公主,又不负你夏总兵的重托,很好,很好。”
‘Damn you, you little rat!’ he was thinking to himself. ‘I know perfectly well that the only thing you want is to get her safely out of here. And you have the nerve to make it look like you’re doing me a favour. I just wonder how you come to know her in the first place?”Are you quite sure she is one of the Princess’ maids?’ he asked out loud. ‘When I questioned her, she seemed to know nothing about the Princess.’LI THEDEtRAND I Ht CAULUKON ‘She did that on purpose’ returned Trinket. ‘She didn’t want to involve her mistress in this.’

夏国相听他话头一转,又套到了自己头上,忙道:“大人妙计,果然高明。就请大人写个手谕,说将犯人提了去,好让小将向王爷交代。”韦小宝笑骂:“他妈的,老子瞎字不识,写甚么手谕脚谕了?”伸手入怀,摸出一柄短铳火枪,说道:“这是你王爷送给我的礼物,你去拿给王爷瞧瞧,就说我奉公主之命,把犯人提去,这把火枪就是证物。”夏国相双手接过,放入怀中,出去叫了两名武官进来,吩咐打开铁栅,除去沐剑屏的足镣,但仍是戴着手铐。夏国相手握手铐上连着的铁链,直送到王府门外,将铁链交在韦小宝手里,又将手铐的钥匙交给他,大声说道:“钦差大人奉公主殿下谕示,将女犯一名提去审问,大伙儿小心看守,可别给犯人跑了。”韦小宝笑道:“你怕我提了犯人会抵赖么?这里人人都瞧见了,都听见了。我想要赖,也赖不了啦。”夏国相躬身道:“大人取笑了,小将决无此意。”韦小宝道:“你去跟王爷说,我挺惦念他老人家的身子,明日再来请安问候。”夏国相又躬身道:“不敢当。”
‘Very well then’ said Xia. ‘Your plan does seem the best, and I’ll go along with it. But I shall need something official in writing from you.’ ‘Sorry’ said Trinket with a cheeky grin. ‘Don’t know how to. Can’t write a thing. Tell you what, though, I’ll give you this.’ He extracted from his jacket pocket one of the guns that the Satrap had given him. ‘Give your boss this. He’ll know it’s from me. That should be official enough.’ General Xia sent for a couple of jailers to let the Little Countess out of her cell, and to undo her shackles; but he made her keep on the handcuffs. Leading her by a chain attached to the cuffs, he conducted her to the main entrance of the palace, where he handed the chain (and the key for the handcuffs) to Trinket. ‘Be careful now, sir’ he said loudly. ‘You can take her back to the Princess for questioning. But be sure she doesn’t escape.’ Trinket smiled. ‘Don’t you worry! I’ll be back tomorrow to enquire after the Prince’s health.’ The general bowed as Trinket departed.

Story behind a Story

韦小宝带着沐剑屏回到安阜园自己屋里,关上了房门,笑嘻嘻的问道:“好老婆,到底是怎么回事?”沐剑屏小脸羞得通红,嗔道:“一见面就不说好话。”手一抬,手铐上铁链叮叮当当发声,道:“你先把这个除去了再说。”韦小宝笑道:“我先得跟你亲热亲热,一除去手铐,你就不肯了。”说着伸手抱住她纤腰。沐剑屏大急,道:“你……又来欺侮我。”
Trinket escorted the Little Countess back to the An Fu Gardens. When they had reached his apartment he closed the door and burst out laughing. ‘So tell me, dear wife, tell your husband what on earth has been going on?’ She blushed a deep crimson. ‘Haven’t you got anything nicer to say to me than that?’ She held out her hands. ‘Get me out of these horrible things first!’ ‘I think I’d better cuddle you first’ retorted Trinket. ‘If I undo those, you’ll never let me.’ So saying, he put his arms round the Little Countess’ deliciously slender waist. ‘You’re bullying me again!’ she cried angrily.

韦小宝笑道:“好,我不欺侮你,那么你来欺侮我。”将自己面颊凑到她嘴唇上轻轻一触,取出夏国相交来的钥匙开了手铐,拉着她并肩坐在床边,这才问起行刺吴三桂的情由。沐剑屏道:“洪教主和夫人收到你送去的东西,很是喜欢,让我服了解药,解去身上的毒,派了赤龙副使带同我来见你,要你忠心办事。夫人说,教主和夫人知道你要想见我,所以……所以……”韦小宝握住她手,道:“所以派你来给我做老婆?”沐剑屏急道:“不,不是的。夫人说怕你心中牵记我,不能安心办事。她真的没说别的。”韦小宝道:“夫人一定说了的,你自己瞒着不说就是了。”沐剑屏道:“你如不信,见到夫人时问她好了。”韦小宝见她急得泪珠在眼眶中滚动,怕逗得她哭了,便温言道:“好,好。夫人没说。不过你自己,是不是也牵记我?也想见我?”沐剑屏转过脸去,轻轻点了点头。韦小宝道:“那赤龙副使呢?怎么你又去行刺吴三桂?”
‘Very well, I won’t bully you then. Why don’t you bully me, instead.’ He held his cheek to her face and pressed it gently against her lips. Then he took out the key and unlocked her handcuffs, and they sat down side by side on the bed. He asked her to tell the whole story.’Leader Hong and Madame Hong’ she began, ‘were very grateful for the package you sent them. They gave me some of the Antidote, and I was able to clear the poison out of my body. They sent the Deputy Red Dragon Marshal to bring me to you. They said they knew that you’d be missing me so they wanted me to-‘She hesitated, just long enough for Trinket to put in’To marry me!”No!’ she cried. ‘Not at all! Madame thought that my being so far away might be making your mission harder to accomplish. That’s all.’Trinket could see she was on the verge of tears, and softened his tone.’Very well. I believe you. But what about you’ Did you miss me too?’The Little Countess turned away, and as she did so nodded her head almost imperceptibly.’What about you and the Deputy Red Dragon Marshal’ What were you two up to, trying to kill the Satrap?’

沐剑屏道:“我们大前天来到昆明,就想来见你,不料在西门外遇见了我哥哥跟柳师父。”韦小宝道:“啊,你哥哥和柳师父都到了昆明,我可不知道。”沐剑屏道:“敖师哥、刘师哥他们也都来了,只吴师叔生了病没来。大家来到昆明,安排了个计策,要刺杀建宁公主。”韦小宝吃了一惊,道:“要刺杀公主,那为甚么?公主可没得罪你们沐王府啊。”沐剑屏道:“我哥哥说,我们要扳倒吴三桂这大汉奸,眼前正有个大好机会。鞑子皇帝将妹子嫁给吴三桂的儿子,我们如把公主杀了,皇帝一定怪吴三桂保护不周,下旨责罚,多半就会逼得吴三桂造反。”韦小宝听到这里,手心中全是冷汗,暗想:“这计策好毒。我一心在图谋吴三桂,没想到如何好好保护公主,倘若给沐王府先下手为强,这可糟了。”问道:“后来怎样?”
‘We arrived in Kunming three days ago. I ran into my brother and Shifu Iron Dragon Liu outside the town.”Oh, I had no idea they were here!’ exclaimed Trinket.’Yes, they are. And Blue Tiger-Ao Biao-and my brother’inarms Liu Yizhou are here too’ said the Little Countess. ‘Shifu Wu was too ill to travel. They’d made a plan to murder the Princess Ning.”What!’ exclaimed Trinket in some consternation. ‘What would they want to do that for’ What has she ever done to harm the Mu Family?”The idea was to provoke the Emperor into punishing Satrap Wu’ then the Satrap would be forced to come out into the open and declare a revolt against the Throne.’These people are more cunning and ruthless than I thought!’ reflected Trinket. ‘I’ve been thinking all along about how to get at the Satrap, and never spared a thought for the Princess’ safety!”So what did you do?’ he asked.

沐剑屏道:“我哥哥叫我假扮宫女,混到公主身边行刺,他们在外接应,一等我得手,就救我出去。赤龙副使听到了他们的计策,对我说,白龙使负责保护公主,倘若杀了公主,只怕要连累了你。我想这话不错,想来跟你商量。不料给柳师父知道了,一刀就将赤龙副使杀了。”说到这里,身子微微发抖,显是想起当时情景,兀自心有余悸。韦小宝紧紧握住沐剑屏手,安慰道:“别怕,别怕。你都是为了我,多谢你得很。”沐剑屏泪水滚下面颊,抽抽噎噎的道:“可是……可是你一见我,就来欺侮我,又……又不信我的话。”韦小宝拿起她手来,打了自己一记耳光,骂道:“该死的混蛋,打死你这婊子儿子!”沐剑屏忙拉住他手,说道:“不,我不要你打自己、骂自己。”韦小宝又拿起她手,轻轻在自己脸颊上打了一下,说道:“总之是韦小宝该死,你的好老婆沐家亲亲小宝贝给吴三桂捉去了,怎么不早些去救?”
‘I was to pretend to be one of the Princess’ maids, and get close to her. Once I’d killed her, they would come in and rescue me. But the Deputy Red Dragon Marshal was concerned for your safety, as the Princess’ escort. So I thought I had better consult with you first. When Iron Dragon Liu got to hear of this, he drew a sword on the Deputy Marshal and killed him there and then!’ The Little Countess was shaking with emotion as she recalled these events. Trinket tried to comfort her. ‘Don’t be afraid. It was very sweet of you to think of me.’ She began sobbing, and great tears coursed down her cheeks. ‘But then . . . when you saw me again . . . the first thing you did was to start bullying me. . . .’ Trinket took her hand and administered himself a slap in the face. ‘What a horrible creature I am! Bad boy!’ Slap! Slap! ‘Stop!’ cried the Little Countess, tugging her hand away. ‘Don’t do that!’ He took her hand again, and this time used it to tap himself lightly on the cheek. ‘I am a bad boy, I am! I should have rescued my little wife much sooner from the clutches of the wicked Satrap!’

沐剑屏道:“你这不是救了我出来吗?不过咱们可得赶快想法子,怎生去救哥哥和柳师父。”韦小宝微微一惊,问道:“你哥哥和柳师父也都给捉去了?”沐剑屏道:“前天晚上,我们住的地方忽然给吴三桂手下的武士围住了。他们来的人很多,武功很高的人也有二十多个,我们寡不敌众,敖师哥当场给杀了。我哥哥、柳师父、还有我自己,都让他们捉了。”韦小宝叹道:“敖师兄给大汉奸杀了,可惜,可惜。”又问:“你给他们拿住之后,怎么又能去行刺吴三桂?”沐剑屏道:“行刺吴三桂?我没有啊。我当然想杀了大汉奸,可是……可是这些坏人给我戴了脚镣手铐,我又怎能行刺?”韦小宝越听越奇,问道:“你前天晚上就给捉住了?这两天在哪里?”沐剑屏道:“我一直给关在一间黑房里,今天他们带我去关在那地牢里,过得不久,你就来了。”
‘But you did rescue me in the end!’ said the still tearful Little Countess. ‘And now we must think of a way of rescuing my brother and Iron Dragon Liu.’ ‘Were they caught too?’ said Trinket in some alarm. ‘The day before yesterday,’ she began, ‘the house where we were staying was surrounded by the Satrap’s men. They were too many for us. Brother Ao was killed. My brother, Iron Dragon Liu, and I were taken prisoner.’ Trinket sighed. ‘It’s very sad that the Blue Tiger is dead. But tell me, if you were taken prisoner, how were you able to get anywhere near the Satrap?’ ‘I wasn’t! I wish I had, but how could I possibly, with all those chains on?’ Trinket was more perplexed than ever. ‘So where have you been since then?’ ‘First I was kept in a darkened room. Then today I was moved to that black hole of a dungeon where you found me.’

韦小宝隐隐知道不妙,显已上了夏国相的大当,只是其中关窍,却想不出来,沉吟道:“今天吴三桂给人行刺,受伤很重,不是你刺的?”沐剑屏道:“自然不是。我从来没见过吴三桂,他会死吗?”韦小宝摇头道:“我不知道。你自己的身分来历,有没有跟他们说?”沐剑屏道:“没有。我甚么也不说,审问我的武官很生气,问我是不是哑巴。韦大哥,你从前也说过我是哑巴。”韦小宝在她脸上轻轻一吻,道:“你是我的亲亲小哑巴,我还说要在你脸上雕一只小乌龟呢。”沐剑屏又羞又喜,眼光中尽是柔情,却不敢转头去瞧他。
Trinket sensed that all was not well. He had clearly fallen for some ruse of General Xia’s. But exactly what was going on he could not fathom. ‘So the Satrap’s wounds were not inflicted by you?’ ‘Of course not. I’ve never set eyes on him. Tell me, do you think he’s going to die?’ Trinket shook his head. ‘I don’t know. Did you tell them who you were?’ ‘No. I didn’t tell them anything. The officer interrogating me got angry, and asked me if I was dumb. Remember, you once said I was dumb?’ Trinket lent over her and kissed her gently. ‘Yes, my little dumb girl, and I still want to carve a turtle on your pretty little face.’ The Little Countess felt a strange sense of pleasure at Trinket’s words, and there was a glow of affection in her eyes. But she did not turn to look at him.

韦小宝心中却在大转念头:“夏国相为甚么要小郡主来冒充宫女?是了,他要试试我,跟沐王府的人是否相识。我这一救小郡主,显然便招承跟他们同是一伙。他是布了个陷阱,要我踏将下去。眼下老子不小心,已落入了他的圈套,这可糟了,大大的糟了。老子大大的糟了之后,下一步又是如何糟法?”他虽机警狡狯,毕竟年幼,真正遇上了大事,可不是吴三桂、夏国相这些老奸巨猾之人的对手,心中一急,全身都是汗水,说道:“亲亲好老婆,你在这里待着,我得去跟人商量商量,怎生救你哥哥和柳师父。”
Trinket was still brooding on the significance of what had happened. Why would General Xia have wanted to pretend that the Little Countess was one of the Princess’ maids’ Unless he was testing him out, to see if Trinket knew her. That must be it. And now he had recognized her, and Xia would have every reason to believe that Trinket himself was involved with the Mu Family. He’d fallen right into the trap. For all his instinctive cunning, Trinket was a child by comparison with seasoned plotters and schemers such as the Satrap and General Xia. As he thought about the danger he was in, he broke out in a cold sweat. ‘You stay here for a while,’ he said to the Little Countess. ‘I must go and see what I can do about rescuing your brother and Iron Dragon Liu.’

At His Wits’ End

当下来到西厢房,召集天地会群雄,将这些情由跟众人说了。徐天川等一听,均觉其中大有蹊跷。玄贞道:“莫非咱们假装杀了罕帖摩的把戏,给吴三桂瞧出了破绽?”钱老本道:“吴三桂不知从何得到讯息,半夜里去擒拿沐王府的朋友?”韦小宝心念一动,道:“沐王府有个家伙,名叫刘一舟,此人跟我有梁子,为人又贪生怕死,多半是他通风报讯。”钱老本道:“想必如此。可是韦香主,你是鞑子皇帝宠信的钦差大臣,大汉奸说甚么也不会疑心你跟沐王府的人有甚么牵连。这中间……”皱起了眉头,苦苦思索。祁清彪道:“依我推想,大汉奸决不是疑心韦香主跟沐王府的人本来相识,那只是误打误撞,事有巧合。”韦小宝忙问:“怎地误打误撞,事有功合?”
Trinket made his way to the western wing of the compound, and summoned his Triad friends to a meeting. He briefed them on the latest turn of events. They too suspected some sort of plot on the part of the Satrap.’Perhaps he has seen through the way we “killed” Hatiemo?’ suggested Father Obscurus.’But how did the Satrap know where to find the Mu Family?’ asked Butcher Qian. ‘I bet it’s that weasel Liu Yizhou’ Trinket speculated aloud. ‘He’s one of them, but he’s got a grudge against me, and he’s a sneak and a coward. I bet he told them.’ ‘You’re probably right. But Master, how could the Satrap ever suspect you of being involved with the Mu Family’ So far as he’s concerned, you’re the Emperor’s trusted envoy.’ Butcher Qian frowned and scratched his head as he attempted to puzzle this one out. ‘If you ask me,’ put in Tertius, ‘it’s all a coincidence.’ ‘What do you mean?’ asked Trinket.

祁清彪道:“行刺大汉奸的,多半真是公主身边那宫女王可儿,大家都这么说,不能无中生有的捏造。”韦小宝道:“是,是,那王可儿确是失了踪,定是给大汉奸逮去了。”祁清彪道:“大汉奸自然料到公主会派韦香主去要人,碍着公主和钦差大人的面子,他不能不放人,却又不甘心就此放了刺客。恰好沐家小郡主给他们逮着,他们就说这是刺客。韦香主到牢里一看,自然认得她不是王可儿。这一来,韦香主便束手无策了。”韦小宝一拍大腿,说道:“对,对,究竟祁三哥是读书人,理路清楚。他们就算没逮到沐家小郡主,一般能随便找个姑娘来塞给我,说道:‘钦差大人,这是刺客,您老人家要不要?要就提去,不必客气。她不是公主身边的宫女吗?那好极了!’他奶奶的,那时老子最多只能说公主走失了一个宫女,要他们在昆明城里用心找找,可不能硬要提人了。我居然认得沐家小郡主,一定大出他们意料之外。这件事大汉奸问起来,倒也不易搪塞。”祁清彪道:“韦香主,事已如此,那只好跟吴三桂硬挺。你跟他说,你是奉了皇帝的圣旨,才跟沐家结交的。”
‘Someone else really did try to kill the Satrap. It probably was that maid of the Princess’. Why else would everybody be saying so?’ ‘You may be right there,’ said Trinket. ‘Ah Kor has gone missing. She’s probably being held by the Satrap’s men as well.’ ‘So’ continued Tertius, ‘they knew you would come for Ah Kor, and they substituted the Mu girl. That way they could hand her over to you, without giving up the real would’be assassin. They’ve put you in a very tricky situation.’ Trinket slapped his thigh. ‘Yes, I’m sure that’s it. You’re certainly a smart one, Tertius, to figure it all out like that. Popping momma’s! They probably had no idea I even knew the Little Countess! This is going to be very hard to explain to the Satrap.’ ‘You’ll have to brazen it out, Master,’ went on the subtle Tertius. ‘Just tell the Satrap that you’ve been given special orders by the Emperor to do undercover work, which means fraternizing with the Mu Family. . . .’

韦小宝给他一语提醒,当即哈哈大笑,说道:“不错,不错。我放了吴立身这一干人,的的确确是……”说到这里,立即住嘴,心想:“皇上亲口下旨,要我释放吴立身等人,这话却不能说。”转口道:“我虽可说奉的是皇帝圣旨,就怕骗不过这大汉奸。”钱老本道:“真要骗倒大汉奸,自然不易。不过韦香主只须一口咬定是皇帝的主意,大汉奸就算不信,那也无可奈何。总而言之,韦香主只要不跟他翻脸,一等离了云贵两省,就不怕他了。”徐天川点头道:“这计策甚高。大汉奸做了亏心事,不免疑神疑鬼,担心小皇帝会知道他造反的阴谋。”韦小宝道:“沐王府的人明知我奉旨保护公主,却想来刺死她,太也不讲义气。要是吴立身吴二哥在这里,一定不会赞成。”祁清彪道:“他们知道韦香主身在曹营心在汉,也不是当真忠心给鞑子皇帝办事,因此没顾虑到此节。咱们天地会和沐王府虽然打赌争胜,但大家敌忾同仇,柳大洪等又是响当当的好汉子,咱们可不能袖手旁观,置之不理。”
Trinket burst out laughing. ‘Great idea! But will he fall for it?’ He had been about to say that Tertius’ plan was pretty much what the Emperor had indeed once asked him to do (on the occasion when he had released Shaker Wu), but thought better of divulging to his Triad friends too many of the convolutions of his own complicated existence. ‘Even if he doesn’t believe you,’ said Butcher Qian, ‘he’ll have to go along with it. And once we’re out of his part of the world, who cares what he thinks anyway?’ ‘There’s one thing I find most upsetting in all of this,’ went on Trinket. ‘The Mu Family knew I was escorting the Princess, but they went ahead with a plan to murder her. That doesn’t seem a very honourable thing to do. If Shaker Wu were here today, I hardly think he’d approve of what they did.’The subtlety of Tertius was once more brought into play.’They probably worked it out this way’ since your loyalty to the Emperor and the Tartar cause is only a pretence, therefore you would not take their planned assassination of the Princess amiss. Your real loyalty is to the cause. We all believe in the same cause. We Triads may have had our differences with the Mu Family in the past, but in the end we’re on the same side’ we cannot stand by now and not go to their aid.’

说到如何拯救沐剑声、柳大洪等人,此事殊非容易,群雄都想不出善策。商议良久,韦小宝道:“这些法子恐怕都不管用,待我见了大汉奸后,再瞧有没有机会。”群雄辞出后,韦小宝心想:“说不定我那阿珂老婆并没去行刺大汉奸,也没给逮了去,那是旁人误传。”来到九难房中,不见阿珂,问道:“师父,师姊不在吗?”九难一怔,道:“吴三桂放了她出来?他知……知道了么?”说这话时神色有异,声音也有些发颤。韦小宝奇道:“吴三桂知道甚么?”九难默然,隔了一会,问道:“这大汉奸伤势如何?”韦小宝道:“伤得很重。弟子刚才见到了他,他昏迷不醒,只怕未必能活。”九难脸上喜色一现,随即又皱起了眉头,低声道:“须得让他知道。”
There followed a debate on the possible ways of extricating the Young Count and Iron Dragon Liu from the Satrap’s clutches. Nothing seemed to present itself as a feasible plan.’Let’s wait until I have been to speak with the Satrap,’ said Trinket. ‘Then we’ll see how the land lies.’The Triads dispersed, and Trinket was left on his own to brood on the complex twists and turns of recent events. Perhaps the Green Girl had never tried to kill the Satrap’ Perhaps she had never been captured’ Perhaps it was all empty rumour’ He made his way to the White Nun’s quarters, and asked her where Ah Kor was.’Has Satrap Wu let her go?’ was the Nun’s reply. ‘Does he know the truth?”Know what truth?’ asked Trinket. There was something peculiar about the way the Nun had spoken. Her voice was trembling. She said nothing for a moment or two. Then”How badly was the Traitor wounded?”Badly. I saw him a little while ago. He was still unconscious. He may well not live.’There was the faintest trace of a smile on the Nun’s face. Then she frowned.’He must be told.’

韦小宝想问让他知道甚么,但见师父神色郑重,不敢多问,退了出去。他心中还存了万一的指望,去查问阿珂的所在。“王可儿”这宫女平日极少露面,她又化了妆,丽色尽掩,向来无人留意,安阜园中一众宫女、太监、侍卫,都说没见到。有的侍卫则说:“王可儿,那不是行刺平西王的宫女吗?平西王放了人吗?可没见到。”他忙了一天一晚,实在倦得很了,回到房中,跟沐剑屏说得几句闲话,倒头便睡。
Trinket wanted to ask what it was that Wu Sangui needed to be told, but there was something about the intensely serious expression on the Nun’s face that did not encourage further questions. He left her alone in her room, and went out to enquire if anyone else had seen Ah Kor leave the An Fu Gardens. But no one recollected having seen her. He made his way back to his ownI Mt UtCK’MNIU I ME room, exhausted, and after exchanging a few words with the Little Countess, fell asleep.

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