The Deer And The Cauldron 32

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The Deer And The Cauldron 32
第三十二回 歌喉欲断从弦续 舞袖能长听客夸

The Peerless

次日韦小宝去探吴三桂的伤势。吴三桂的次子出来接待,说道多谢钦差大人前来,王爷伤势无甚变化,此刻已经安睡,不便惊动。韦小宝问起夏国相,说道正在带兵巡视弹压,以防人心浮动,城中有变,再问吴应熊的伤势,也无确切答复。韦小宝隐隐觉得,平西王府已大起疑心,颇含敌意,这时候要救沐王府人,定难成功;要救阿珂更是难上加难,只怕激得王府立即动手,将自己一条小命送在昆明。
Trinket called on the Satrap the following day to enquire after his health, and was received by his second son, who informed him that there had been no change in his father’s condition’ the Satrap was sleeping and could not be disturbed. Further enquiry elicited the information that General Xia was out and about in the city with a battalion of soldiers, maintaining law and order and dealing with any signs of possible unrest. On the subject of the Satrap’s eldest son, and his unmentionable wound, Trinket received the vaguest possible reply. Trinket sensed a growing suspicion and hostility emanating from the Satrap’s camp. This was going to make it harder than ever, if not altogether impossible, to secure the release of the remaining members of the Mu Family. As for the Green Girl, to try and rescue her now would probably provoke an all’out attack from the Satrap’s men, and might lead to his own premature demise in the city of Kunming.

又过一日,他正在和钱老本、徐天川、祁清彪等人商议,高彦超走进室来,说道有一名老道姑求见。韦小宝奇道:“老道姑?找我干甚么?是化缘么?”高彦超道:“属下问她为了何事,她说是奉命送信来给钦差大人的。”说着呈上一个黄纸信封。韦小宝皱眉道:“相烦高大哥拆开来瞧瞧,写着些甚么。”高彦超拆开信封,取出一张黄纸,看了一眼,读道:“阿珂有难……”韦小宝一听到这四字,便跳了起来,急道:“甚么阿珂有难?”
The following day, Trinket was discussing the deteriorating situation with his Triad friends, when the arrival was announced at the outer gate of an elderly Taoist nun, with a personal letter for him. Trinket asked one of the Triads to open the letter, which was written on yellow paper, and read it out to him. It began’ ‘Ah Kor is in serious trouble-‘ ‘What!’ Trinket jumped up in alarm.

天地会群雄并不知九难和阿珂之事,都是茫然不解。高彦超道:“信上这样写的。这信无头无尾,也没署名,只说请你随同送信之人,移驾前往,共商相救之策。”韦小宝问道:“这道姑在外面么?”高彦超刚说得一句:“就在外面。”韦小宝已直冲出去。来到大门侧的耳房,只见一个头发花白的道姑坐在板凳上相候。守门的侍卫大声叫道:“钦差大臣到。”那道姑站起身来,躬身行礼。韦小宝问道:“是谁差你来的?”那道姑道:“请大人移步,到时自知。”韦小宝道:“到哪里去?”那道姑道:“请大人随同贫道前去,此刻不便说。”韦小宝道:“好,我就同你去。”
The Triads knew nothing of his own involvement with the White Nun and her beautiful disciple. He must tread carefully. Those are the exact words with which the letter begins,’ said Tertius, who had read them out. The rest seems to make very little sense, and it is not even signed at the end. It just says that you are to go with the bearer of the letter, if you wish to discuss how to rescue this person.’ Trinket hurried out to the main gate, in one of the side’rooms of which he found the nun waiting patiently for him, seated on a bench. She rose to her feet and bowed. ‘Who sent you here?’ asked Trinket. ‘Please follow me, sir’ replied the old lady. ‘All will becomeclear.”Where to?”If you will just follow me, sir. I really can’t say.’ ‘Very well.’

叫道:“套车,备马!”那道姑道:“请大人坐车前往,以免惊动了旁人。”韦小宝点点头,便和那道姑出得门外,同坐一车。徐天川、钱老本等生怕是敌人布下陷阱,远远跟随在后。那道姑指点路径,马车迳向西行,出了西城门。韦小宝见越行越荒凉,微觉担心,问道:“到底去哪里?”那道姑道:“不久就到了。”又行了三里多路,折而向北,道路狭窄,仅容一车,来到一小小庵堂之前。那道姑道:“到了。”韦小宝跳下车来,见庵前匾上写着三字,第一字是个“三”字,其余两字就不识得了,回头一瞥,见高彦超等远远跟着,料想他们会四下守候,于是随着那道姑进庵。
Trinket ordered a horse and carriage, but the old nun begged him to travel with her in her simple cart, so as not to attract undue attention. Apothecary Xu, Butcher Qian, and other Triads insisted on following at a discreet distance, fearful that this might be a trap set by one of Trinket’s adversaries.They left the city by the west gate and were soon in the countryside, which grew more and more lonely and desolate. Trinket began to have misgivings.’Where are we going?’ he asked.’We’ll be there soon’ replied the old nun, inscrutable as ever.A mile or two further on they changed course and began heading north down a narrow track, just wide enough for their simple cart. Finally they arrived outside what seemed to be a tiny hermitage.’Here we are’ said the old nun. Trinket alighted from the cart. Above the entrance hung an inscription, of which he was able to decipher the first word ‘Three.’ Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted his Triad Brothers lurking in the distance. Somewhat reassured, he walked in with the old nun.

但见四下里一尘不染,天井中种着几株茶花,一树紫荆,殿堂正中供着一位白衣观音。神像相貌极美,庄严宝相之中带着三分俏丽。韦小宝心道:“听说吴三桂的老婆之中,有一个外号四面观音,又有一个叫作八面观音。不知是不是真有观音菩萨这么好看。他妈的,大汉奸艳福不浅。”
The interior of the hermitage was spotlessly clean and immaculately tidy. In the centre of the courtyard were several camellia bushes and a Judas tree, while a statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, gazed down on them from the main hall directly ahead. It was a fine figure, with a feminine, if slightly austere, charm. Trinket was favourably impressed.

那道姑引着他来到东边偏殿,献上茶来,韦小宝揭开碗盖,一阵清香扑鼻,碗中一片碧绿,竟是新出的龙井茶叶,微觉奇怪:“这龙井茶叶从江南运到这里,价钱可贵得紧哪,庵里的道姑还是尼姑,怎地如此阔绰?”那道姑又捧着一只建漆托盘,呈上八色细点,白磁碟中盛的是松子糖、小胡桃糕、核桃片、玫瑰糕、糖杏仁、绿豆糕、百合酥、桂花蜜饯杨梅,都是苏式点心,细巧异常。这等江南点心,韦小宝当年在扬州妓院中倒也常见,嫖客光临,老鸨取出待客,他乘人不备,不免偷吃一片两粒,不料在云南一座小小庵堂中碰到老朋友,心下大乐:“老子可回到扬州丽春院啦。”
The old nun led him to a side’room on the east side, and served tea. As Trinket raised the lid of his cup, the most delicious aroma assailed his nostrils. The brew was a wonderful pale green colour, and he immediately recognized it as a fine blend of Dragon Well tea from the Hangzhou region. These must be well’heeled nuns, he thought to himself, to be able to afford such expensive tea in this remote corner of the south’west. Next the old nun came in carrying a lacquer tray on which was an exquisite white porcelain bowl filled with an assortment of snacks’ pine’nut candies, a piece of walnut cake, slices of dried peach, rose’petal flavoured cookies,candied almonds, green bean’cake, lotus pastry, and arbutus berries preserved in cassia honey. These were all choice Suzhou delicacies, the sort of thing Trinket was only too familiar with from his own childhood in the southern city of Yangzhou. The Madame at Vernal Delights regularly served her customers with such things, and from time to time the young Trinket had managed to nibble one or two when no one was looking. Seeing them once again in this far’flung region was like being reunited with a gang of old friends! ‘Old Trink’s beginning to feel quite at home!’ he chuckled to himself in delight.

那道姑奉上点心后,便即退出。茶几上一只铜香炉中一缕青烟袅袅升起,烧的是名贵檀香,韦小宝是识货之人,每次到太后慈宁宫中,都闻到这等上等檀香的气息,突然心中一惊:“啊哟,不好,莫非老婊子在此?”当即站起身来。只听得门外脚步之声细碎,走进一个女子,向韦小宝合十行礼,说道:“出家人寂静,参见韦大人。”语声清柔,说的是苏州口音。
The old nun withdrew and left Trinket alone in the room. Clouds of sandalwood incense smoke drifted from a little bronze censer on the table. Trinket recognized the exact variety of sandalwood’ he had encountered it once in the Empress Dowager’s palace. The thought brought him to his feet with a start. ‘Oh no! Disaster! Not her’ Don’t tell me the Old Whore’s here! That means big trouble!’ At that very moment, he heard’soft footsteps outside the door, and a woman came in. She brought her hands together in the traditional Buddhist salutation, and bowed to her visitor. ‘Welcome to my simple hermitage, Lord Wei,’ she said. Her voice had a clear, gentle ring to it, and she spoke with a discernible Suzhou accent.

这女子四十岁左右年纪,身穿淡黄道袍,眉目如画,清丽难言,韦小宝一生之中,从未见过这等美貌的女子。他手捧茶碗,张大了口竟然合不拢来,刹时间目瞪口呆,手足无措。那女子微笑道:“韦大人请坐。”韦小宝茫然失措,道:“是,是。”双膝一软,跌坐入椅,手中茶水溅出,衣襟上登时湿了一大片。
She looked like a woman of about forty years of age, and was wearing a pale’yellow nun’s habit. The statue Trinket had seen in the main hall was of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, but this nun had lustrous long hair in the free manner of a Taoist nun. She also had the most wondrously luminous eyes and exquisitely curved brows. As Trinket gazed at her, he thought to himself that he had never in his life set eyes on such a ravishingly beautiful specimen of feminine humanity. He rose to his feet and stood there with his tea’cup still in his hands, riveted to the spot, gaping open’mouthed at this apparition, incapable of either speech or movement. The lady smiled. ‘Please be seated, sir.’ ‘Yes, ma’am,’ mumbled Trinket incoherently. His knees went all wobbly, and he half sat, half collapsed into his chair, spilling his tea all over himself in the process.

天下男子一见了她便如此失魂落魄,这丽人生平见得多了,自是不以为意,但韦小宝只是个十五六岁的少年,竟也为自己的绝世容光所镇慑。那丽人微微一笑,说道:“韦大人年少高才,听人说,从前甘罗十二岁做丞相,韦大人却也不输于他。”韦小宝道:“不敢当。啊哟,甚么西施、杨贵妃,一定都不及你。”那丽人伸起衣袖,遮住半边玉颊,嫣然一笑,登时百媚横生,随即庄容说道:“西施、杨贵妃,也都是苦命人。小女子只恨天生这副容貌,害苦了天下苍生,这才长伴清灯古佛,苦苦忏悔。唉,就算敲穿了木鱼,念烂了经卷,却也赎不了从前造孽的万一。”
The lady seemed not the least bit put out. It was as if she had watched this happen a thousand times before-this disabling effect she had on men. Countless times she had seen grown men totally unmanned by her stunning beauty. This time it was just a fifteen’or sixteen’year’old youth who had been conquered. She smiled again.’For such a very great and important man, sir, you seem dreadfully young. But then there was the famous Gan Luo in ancient times, who was made Prime Minister when he was still only a boy of twelve. And I am sure you are in no way his inferior.”Nor you, ma’am,’ replied a confused Trinket. ‘I mean, you’re not inferior to the fabulous beauties of olden days, ma’am.’She raised a silken sleeve to mask the smile that was spreading across her face. The enchantment of that smile soon gave way to an expression of great seriousness”Alas, that the beauty with which nature endowed me should have served only to bring suffering! To myself, and to many other sentient beings. Here, beside my lonely lamp and beneath the gaze of the ancient image of our Lord Buddha, I strive to make amends for the follies of my past. Alas! A thousand beatings of the wooden fish, a thousand chantings of the sutras are not enough to redeem the smallest part of the karma handed down from my former days!’

说到这里,眼圈一红,忍不住便要流下泪来。韦小宝不明她话中所指,但见她微笑时神光离合,愁苦时楚楚动人,不由得满腔都是怜惜之意,也不知她是甚么来历,胸口热血上涌,只觉得就算为她粉身碎骨,也是甘之如饴,一拍胸膛,站起身来,慷慨激昂的道:“有谁欺侮了你,我这就去为你拚命。你有甚么为难的事儿,尽管交在我手里,倘若办不到,我韦小宝割下这颗脑袋来给你。”说着伸出右掌,在自己后颈中重重一斩。如此大丈夫气概,生平殊所罕见,这时却半点不是做作。
Her eyes reddened, and Trinket could see tears stealing down her cheeks. He had no idea what it was she was talking about. But he was reduced to pity by the mere sight of this beautiful woman and by the spectacle of her grief, which seemed to plumb the very depths of human despair. Without understanding what the cause of her sorrow was, he could feel himself being carried away by an indescribable welling of compassion that surged throughout his being. An irresistible impulse took hold of him, to sacrifice himself for her, to die if need be on her behalf. He rose to his feet and began beating his chest.’Who has treated you cruelly, ma’am?’ he proclaimed heroically. ‘Who has caused you to suffer’ Tell me, and I will avenge you! Lay all your troubles on my shoulders. I will wipe out the wrong done to you, or else I will sever this head of mine from my body and present it to you as penance!’As he was describing with such high’flown eloquence this most improbable sequence of actions, he raised his right hand, and brought the edge of the palm down with a chopping motion on his neck. His speech and gesture both breathed an exaggeratedly knightly air. At any other moment in our hero’s life the whole thing would have been nothing more than a contrived performance, not something to be taken seriously. But on this occasion, extraordinarily, for the very first time, Trinket really meant it.

那丽人向他凝望半晌,呜咽道:“韦大人云天高义,小女子不知如何报答才是。”忽然双膝下跪,盈盈拜倒。韦小宝叫道:“不对,不对。”也即跪倒,向着她冬冬冬的磕了几个响头,说道:“你是仙人下凡,观音菩萨转世,该当我向你磕头才是。”那丽人低声道:“这可折杀我了。”伸手托住他双臂,轻轻扶住。两人同时站起。韦小宝见她脸颊上挂着几滴泪水,晶莹如珠,忙伸出衣袖,给她轻轻擦去,柔声安慰:“别哭,别哭,便有天大的事儿,咱们也非给办个妥妥当当不可。”
She gazed at him. Then she sobbed’ ‘Your gallantry is more than I can ever be worthy of!’ Suddenly she fell to her knees and began kowtowing to him, knocking her head repeatedly on the ground before him. ‘No, ma’am!’ cried Trinket. ‘You mustn’t!’ He also fell to his knees, and began knocking his head in rhythm with hers. ‘You are a beauty descended to this mortal earth from fairy realms,’ he began. ‘You are the Goddess of Mercy reborn. I beg you to accept my humble service.’ ‘I shall die of shame!’ she mumbled almost inaudibly. She took hold of him by the arms and gave him the gentlest and chastest of embraces. Then the two of them rose to their feet. Trinket could see the tears glistening like pearls on her cheeks, and hurried to wipe them away .with the sleeve of his gown. ‘Don’t cry!’ he comforted her. ‘Whatever it is that is troubling you, together we will find a way to put things right! I promise we will!’

以那丽人年纪,尽可做得他母亲,但她容色举止、言语神态之间,天生一股娇媚婉娈,令人不自禁的心生怜惜,韦小宝又问:“你到底为甚么难过?”那丽人道:“韦大人见信之后,立即驾到,小女子实是感激……”韦小宝“啊哟”一声,伸手在自己额头一击,说道:“胡涂透顶,那是为了阿珂……”双眼呆呆的瞪着那丽人,突然恍然大悟,大声道:“你是阿珂的妈妈!”
She was easily old enough to be his mother. But there was something so tender and feminine about her, something so fragile and ethereal about the way she spoke, something so captivating about her whole manner-it was enough to melt his boyish heart. Tell me’ Trinket continued. ‘What is your trouble?’ ‘Lord Wei,’ she replied, ‘I am so deeply grateful to you for coming to me so soon after you received my letter.’ ‘Yikesl’ cried Trinket suddenly, slapping himself in the face as he spoke, as if to wake himself from some dream. ‘Of course! The letter! Ah Kor!’ He stared at her again, and in that instant the truth dawned on him. ‘You’re her mother, aren’t you!’

那丽人低声道:“韦大人好聪明,我本待不说,可是你自己猜到了。”韦小宝道:“这容易猜。你两人相貌很像,不过……不过阿珂师姊不及……你美丽。”那丽人脸上微微一红,光润白腻的肌肤上渗出一片娇红,便是如白玉上抹了一层胭脂,低声问道:“你叫阿珂做师姊?”韦小宝道:“是,她是我师姊。”当下毫不隐瞒,将如何和阿珂初识、如何给她打脱了臂骨、如何拜九难为师、如何同来昆明的经过一一说了,自己对阿珂如何倾慕,而她对自己又如何丝毫不瞧在眼里,种种情由,也是坦然直陈。只是九难的身世,以及自己意欲不利于吴三桂的图谋,毕竟事关重大,略过不提。
‘You are very clever to have guessed, sir,’ she mumbled. ‘I would never have told you of my own accord.’ ‘It was easy. The two of you look so alike. But my sister’inarms . . . she’s beautiful all right, but she isn’t half as beautiful as you are!’ She flushed. The pink glow made her usually pale, lustrous [ace more beautiful than ever. It was like a delicate smear of rouge on a piece of white jade.’Did you call her your sister’in’arms?’ she enquired softly.’Yes,’ replied Trinket. ‘We are disciples of the same Shifu.’He told the whole story’ how he had first encountered Ah Kor how they had both travelled to Kunming with their Shifu, Sister Tribulation, the White Nun. He even described in detail his own feelings of adoration towards Ah Kor, and the low regard in which (alas!) she held him. He refrained, however, from going into the details of the White Nun’s past as Princess Royal, and said nothing of their shared determination to strike against the Satrap.

那丽人静静的听着,待他说完,轻叹一声,低吟道:“妻子岂应关大计?英雄无奈是多情。红颜祸水,眼前的事,再明白也没有了。韦大人前程远大……”韦小宝摇头道:“不对,不对。‘红颜祸水’这句话,我倒也曾听说书先生说过,甚么妲己,甚么杨贵妃,说这些美女害了国家。其实呢,天下倘若没这些糟男人、糟皇帝,美女再美,也害不了国家。大家说平西王为了陈圆圆,这才投降清朝,依我瞧哪,要是吴三桂当真忠于明朝,便有十八个陈圆圆,他奶奶的吴三桂也不会投降大清啊。”
When he had finished his tale, the nun (who had listened carefully to every word he said) gave a little sigh.’Alas! In a woman’s beauty so often lie the seeds of calamity! Women know nothing of the greater good; and men are so hastily led astray!”No, ma’am!’ cried Trinket, shaking his head vehemently. ‘I’ve heard the story’tellers say the same thing, but it’s not true. They always lay the blame at the woman’s door. But I say it’s the men, the wretched, despicable, worthless men-Emperors, generals, whatever! They’re the ones at fault! Take Satrap Wu’ people say that he would never have betrayed his own Emperor to the Manchus if it hadn’t been for the Peerless Consort, the beautiful Chen Yuanyuan, the woman he was so crazy about. But I don’t see it that way. It was his own fault! If Satrap Wu had been a better man to start with, if he’d been loyal to the Throne, twenty Peerless Consorts would never have been able to lead him astray! Tamardy! It was his fault, everything was his fault, the foul turtle’head!’The lady bowed to Trinket several times.

那丽人站起身来,盈盈下拜,说道:“多谢韦大人明见,为贱妾分辨千古不白之冤。”韦小宝急忙回礼,奇道:“你……你……啊……啊哟,是了,我当真混蛋透顶,你若不是陈圆圆,天下哪……哪……有第二个这样的美人?不过,唉,我可越来越胡涂了,你不是平西王的王妃吗?怎么会在这里搞甚么带发修行?阿珂师姊怎么又……又是你的女儿?”
Thank you, my lord, for your generous words. You speak on behalf of a much wronged woman.’Trinket hurriedly returned her bow. Then”But. . .’ he stammered. ‘You … oh my goodness! That’s it, isn’t it! You’re her, aren’t you! You’re the one! Of course! You’re the Peerless One! Peerless! How could there be anyone else in the whole world as beautiful as you! Forgive me! I must be going crazy, I just don’t know what’s going on, I don’t understand any of this at all. If you’re the Satrap’s Peerless Consort, what are you doing here in this hermitage’ And how could … Green … Ah Kor … be your daughter?’

那丽人站起身来,说道:“贱妾正是陈圆圆。这中间的经过,说来话长。贱妾一来有求于韦大人,诸事不敢隐瞒;二来听得适才大人为贱妾辨冤的话,心里感激。这二十多年来,贱妾受尽天下人唾骂,把亡国的大罪名加在贱妾头上。当世只有两位大才子,才明白贱妾的冤屈。一位是大诗人吴梅村吴才子,另一位便是韦大人。”其实韦小宝于国家大事,浑浑噩噩,胡里胡涂,那知道陈圆圆冤枉不冤枉,只是一见到她惊才绝艳的容色,大为倾倒,对吴三桂又十分痛恨,何况她又是阿珂的母亲,她便有千般不是,万般过错,这些不是与过错,也一古脑儿、半丝不剩的都派到了吴三桂头上。听她称自己为“大才子”,这件事他倒颇有自知之明,急忙摇手,说道:“我西瓜大的字识不上一担,你要称我为才子,不如在这称呼上再加上‘狗屁’两字。这叫做狗屁才子韦小宝。”
There were too many unanswered questions in his head. ‘Yes’ replied the woman, ‘I am Chen Yuanyuan. It is a very long story. After all the gallant things that you have said, I cannot possibly hide the truth from you. For twenty years I have been reviled by all my fellow countrymen. I have been held to blame for our country’s defeat, for our national disgrace. There are only two great men of distinction alive, two famous men of letters, who understand the truth. One is you. The other is the great poet, Wu Weiye.’ Needless to say, Trinket knew next to nothing about Chen Yuanyuan’s past, and whether or not she had indeed been to blame for the falling of Peking to the Tartars and their subsequent conquest of China. All he knew (now that he had seen her for himself) was that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. That was argument enough for him. And he also knew that he loathed Satrap Wu. So why not blame everything on him’ There was also a sufficiently powerful logic in that. But at least he was honest enough to disown any claims to being a great man of letters! ‘Actually I’m afraid I can’t read or write’ he confessed. ‘You’d really better not make the mistake of calling me a Great Man of Letters. Doctor Dog Fart would be a far better title for me.’

陈圆圆微微一笑,说道:“诗词文章做得好,不过是小才子。有见识、有担当,方是大才子。”韦小宝听了这两句奉承,不禁全身骨头都酥了,心道:“这位天下第一美女,居然说我是大才子。哈哈,原来老子的才情还真不低。他妈的,老子自出娘胎,倒是第一次听见。”陈圆圆站起身来,说道:“请大人移步,待小女子将此中情由,细细诉说。”韦小宝道:“是。”跟着她走过一条碎石花径,来到一间小房之中。房中不设桌椅,地下放着两个蒲团,墙上挂着一幅字,看上去密密麻麻的,字数也真不少,旁边却挂着一只琵琶。陈圆圆道:“大人请坐。”待韦小宝在一个蒲团上坐下,走到墙边,将琵琶摘了下来,抱在手中,在另一个蒲团上坐了,指着墙上那幅字,轻轻说道:“这是吴梅村才子为贱妾所作的一首长诗,叫作《圆圆曲》。今日有缘,为大人弹奏一曲,只是有污清听。”韦小宝大喜,说道:“妙极,妙极。不过你唱得几句,须得解释一番,我这狗屁才子,学问可平常得紧。”
She smiled. ‘You are a young man of courage and wisdom. That’s what counts.’ Hearing such words of praise from such a gorgeously attractive woman sent Trinket into a swoon. He could hardly believe his ears. ‘Come with me’ said Chen Yuanyuan. ‘I want to tell you the whole story myself. In my own way.’ She led him out of the room, down a little cobbled path, to her private chamber. The Ballad of the Peerless Consort Her chamber was bare apart from two mats (of the kind used for meditation), a long calligraphic scroll on the wall, and a piba mandolin which hung next to it. ‘Please be seated’ said Chen Yuanyuan. When Trinket had lowered himself onto one of the mats, she took down the piba and sat down on the other mat, cradling the instrument on her lap. Pointing to the calligraphy on the wall, she explained that it was a long ballad written for her by the famous poet Wei Wuye. It was called the ‘Ballad of the Peerless Consort’.Today is a very special occasion’ she continued. ‘Ours has been such an important meeting. I should like to sing the Ballad for you, if you would like to hear it.’That would be wonderful’ said a delighted Trinket. ‘But I hope you’ll explain it as you go along. Otherwise I won’t have the faintest idea what it’s all about. Don’t forget, Doctor Dog Fart’s not very strong on the book’learning, I’m afraid.’

陈圆圆微笑道:“大人过谦了。”当下一调弦索,丁丁冬冬的弹了几下,说道:“此调不弹已久,荒疏莫怪。”韦小宝道:“不用客气。就算弹错了,我也不知道。”只听她轻拢慢捻,弹了几声,曼声唱道:
She smiled again.’You are too modest.’She tuned the strings of her instrument and plucked a few notes.’I haven’t played this piece for a long time. You must forgive me if I go astray from time to time.”Don’t worry’ replied Trinket. ‘I’d be the last person to notice.’She began with a few slow, gentle introductory measures on the piba. Then she sang:

“鼎湖当日弃人间,破敌收京下玉关。恸哭六军俱缟素,冲冠一怒为红颜。”
‘Twas when the Son of Heaven forsook the world,
That General Wu stormed through the Pass of jade;
The soldiers all for grief in white were dad,
But he alone at beauty’s flight did rage.

唱了这四句,说道:“这是说当年崇祯天子归天,平西王和满清联兵,打败李自成,攻进北京,官兵都为皇帝戴孝。平西王所以出兵,却是为了我这不祥之人。”韦小宝点头道:“你这样美貌,吴三桂为了你投降大清,倒也怪他不得。倘若是我韦小宝,那也是要投降的。”陈圆圆眼波流转,心想:“你这个个娃娃,也跟我来调笑。”但见他神色俨然,才知他言出由衷,不由得微生知遇之感,继续唱道:
She explained this first verse for Trinket’s benefit.’You see, when the last Son of Heaven, or Emperor, of the Ming dynasty, Chong Zhen, died, General Wu, the one people today sometimes call the Satrap, though they should really just call him Prince of the West, joined forces with the Manchu Tartars to take Peking away from the rebel commander Li Zicheng, the one they call General Bash’em. Li and his rebel army had taken control of the Capital, the last Ming Emperor was dead, and Li was already setting himself up as the new Emperor. The combined forces of General Wu’s Chinese troops and the Tartars defeated Li at the famous Battle of the Pass. The Chinese soldiers were all dressed in white, in mourning for their dead Emperor; but the song says that Wu was not really fighting against Bash’em and for the Emperor- he did it all for love of me! Because Li, General Bash’em, had stolen me from him.’Trinket nodded.’I don’t blame him! I’d have gone over to tne i

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