The Deer And The Cauldron 33

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The Deer And The Cauldron 33
第三十三回 谁无痼疾难相笑 各有风流两不如

Chapter 21 In which Trinket and Party make their way to the Province of Guizhou, and thence to Peking; there is Singing on the River, and Tales are told of Taiwan; Two Elderly Jesuit Fathers prove their Skill at the Art of making Cannon; Devoted Doublet pieces together the Map; and Trinket is put in command of a Naval Expedition

In the Mountains-A Number of Familiar Faces-In the Gambling Den-A Surprising Intervention-Beggar, Meatball, and other Combatants-Triad Talk-The Log Rafts- Exit Sir Zheng-The Storm on the River-The Helmsman presents an Old Hero-The Helmsman Informed-The Art of Escape-In the Capital Once More- Of Jesuits and Cannon-Piecing together the Scraps- me Cauldron-Cannon of Divine Might-Mission Impossible-The Three Treasures of Manchuria-Pacifying the Ocean-Strategy, and a Golden Bowl-Trinket at Sea-Meatball, and other Floating Objects-Smoke Signals and Big Guns

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In the Mountains

行了几日,离昆明已远,始终不见吴三桂派兵马追来,众人渐觉放心。

这天将到曲靖,傍晚时分,四骑马迎面奔来,一人翻身下马,对骁骑营的前锋说道,有紧急军情要禀报钦差大臣。韦小宝得报,当即接见,只见当先一人身材瘦小,面目黝黑,正要问他有何军情,站在他身后的钱老本忽道:“你不是邝兄吗?”那人躬身道:“兄弟邝天雄,钱大哥你好。”韦小宝向钱老本瞧去。钱老本点了点头,低声道:“是自己人。”韦小宝道:“很好,邝老兄辛苦了,咱们到后边坐。”
After several days of travelling, the city of Kunming was well and truly behind them, and there was no visible sign of the Satrap’s troops following them. They felt they could finally begin to relax a little.One evening, as they were approaching the county town of Qujing, they saw four riders galloping towards them. One of them leapt from his horse and announced to the vanguard of Trinket’s party that he was carrying important military intelligence for the Imperial Envoy Lord Wei. Trinket immediately summoned the manbefore him. He was a diminutive, scrawny, swarthy fellow. Trinket was about to interrogate him when Butcher Qian called out from behind him’ ‘Aren’t you Brother Kuang?’ The man bowed. ‘At your service, Brother Qian!’ Trinket glanced at Qian, and Qian nodded back, muttering’ ‘He’s one of ours.’

来到后堂,身后随侍的都是天地会兄弟。钱老本道:“邝兄弟,这位就是我们青木堂韦香主。”邝天雄抱拳躬身,说道:“天父地母,反清复明。赤火堂古香主属下邝天雄,参见韦香主和青木堂众位大哥。”韦小宝道:“原来是赤火堂邝大哥,幸会,幸会。”
Trinket escorted the man to the back, where the only others present were Triads. Butcher Qian introduced him to Kuang as their Lodge Master, whereupon Kuang clasped his hands together and bowed, pronouncing the words of the Triad oath’ ‘By Heaven my father and Earth my mother, I will overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming! Brother Kuang Tianxiong of the Red Fire Lodge greets Lodge Master Wei and Brothers of the Green Wood Lodge.’ ‘Pleased to meet you, Brother Kuang,’ replied Trinket.

钱老本跟这邝天雄当年在湖南曾见过数次,当下替他给李力世、祁清彪、风际中、徐天川、玄贞道人、高彦超等人引见了。邝天雄所带三人,也都是赤火堂的兄弟。众人知道赤火堂该管贵州,再行得数日,便到贵州省境,有本会兄弟前来先通消息,心下甚喜。韦小宝道:“自和古香主在直隶分手,一直没再见面,古香主一切都顺利罢?”邝天雄道:“古香主好。他吩咐属下问候韦香主和青木堂众位大哥。我们得知韦香主和众位大哥近来干了许多大事出来,好生仰慕,今日拜见,实是三生有幸。”韦小宝笑道:“大家自己兄弟,客气话不说了。我们过得几日,就到贵省,盼能和古香主叙叙。”邝天雄道:“古香主吩咐属下禀报韦香主,最好请各位改道向东,别经贵州。”韦小宝和群雄都是一愕。邝天雄道:“古香主说.他很想跟韦香主和众位大哥相叙,但最好在广西境内会面。”韦小宝问道:“那为甚么?”
Butcher Qian had run into this man a few times in Hunan in the past, on Triad business. He now proceeded to introduce him to his fellow Triads, including Brothers Li Lishi, Tertius Qi, Feng Jizhong, Apothecary Xu, Obscurus, and Gao Yanchao. The three men accompanying Kuang were also members of the Red Fire Lodge. This was the Lodge responsible for the Province of Guizhou, which they would be entering in a few days. It was reassuring that the local Brothers should have come all this way to welcome them. Trinket enquired after their Lodge Master Gu, whom he had last seen at the great gathering in the north. Kuang conveyed his Lodge Master’s best wishes to them all, and the admiration of his Lodge for what they had achieved. Lodge Master Gu also wished to warn them that they should change their plans and travel by a more easterly route, through southern Guangxi, bypassing Guizhou Province altogether. This came as something of a shock to Trinket and his friends. Kuang went on to say that Lodge Master Gu was still looking forward to seeing them, but that the meeting would now have to take place in Guangxi Province. ‘Why there?’ asked Trinket.

邝天雄道:“我们得到消息,吴三桂派了兵马,散在宣威、虹桥镇、新天堡一带,想对韦香主和众位大哥不利。”青木堂群雄都是“啊”的一声。韦小宝又惊又怒,骂道:“他奶奶的,这奸贼果然不肯就这样认输。他连儿子的性命也不要了。”邝天雄道:“吴三桂十分阴毒,他派遣了不少好手,说要缠住韦香主身边一位武功极高的师太,然后将他儿子、鞑子公主、韦香主三人掳去,其余各人一概杀死灭口。眼下曲靖雨和沾益之间的松韶关已经封关,谁也不得通行。我们四人是从山间小路绕道来的,生怕韦香主得讯迟了,中了这大汉奸的算计,因此连日连夜的赶路。”
‘We have information that Satrap Wu has dispatched a large detachment of cavalry to Xuanwei, and other parts of eastern Yunnan, with a view to ambushing your party.’ They all gasped with horror when they heard this.’That turtle just doesn’t know when to give in!’ cried Trinket. ‘Doesn’t he even care if he puts his own son’s life in danger?’Kuang briefed him on what they had gleaned of the Satrap’s plans. These were to send a sizeable contingent of crack fighters to apprehend ‘a certain dangerous woman Shifu’, and then to make off with Young Wu, the Tartar Princess, and Lodge Master Wei, having killed all the others in cold blood. The pass beyond Qujing at Songshao had already been closed and no one could get through. They themselves had made their way by small mountain tracks, and had travelled day and night, to forewarn Trinket of the dangers he faced.

韦小宝见这四人眼睛通红,面颊凹入,显是疲劳已极,说道:“四位大哥辛苦了,实在感激得很。”邝天雄道:“总算及时把讯带到,没误了大事。”言下甚是喜慰。韦小宝问属下诸人:“各位大哥以为怎样?”钱老本道:“邝大哥可知吴三桂埋伏的兵马,共有多少?”邝天雄道:“吴三桂来不及从昆明派兵,听说是飞鸽传书,调齐了滇北和黔南的兵马,共有三万多人。”众人齐声咒骂。韦小宝所带部属不过二千来人,还不到对方的一成,自是寡不敌众。
Trinket thanked them profusely. The four of them did look truly done in, and were red’eyed from lack of sleep. Trinket consulted with his comrades. Butcher Qian enquired of Kuang how many men the Satrap had sent.’He couldn’t get his own troops up from Kunming in time; so he sent a message by carrier pigeon with orders for troops from northern Yunnan and southern Guizhou to be seconded for this mission-about thirty thousand in all.’There were cries and curses all round at this. Trinket’s entire force amounted to only two thousand men-only a fraction of the enemy’s strength. They were well and truly outnumbered.

钱老本又问:“古香主要我们去广西何处相会?”邝天雄道:“古香主已派人知会广西家后堂马香主,韦香主倘若允准,三位香主便在广西潞城相会。从这里东去潞城,道路不大好走,路也远了,不过没吴三桂的兵马把守,家后堂兄弟沿途接应,该当不出乱子。”韦小宝听得吴三桂派了三万多人拦截,心中早就寒了,待听得古香主已布置妥贴,马香主派人接应,登时精神大振,说道:“好,咱们就去潞城。吴三桂这老小子,他妈的,总有一天要他的好看。”当即下令改向东南。命邝天雄等四人坐在大车中休憩。众军听说吴三桂派了兵在前截杀,无不惊恐,均知身在险地,当下加紧赶路,一路上不敢惊动官府,每晚均在荒郊扎营。
‘Whereabouts in Guangxi does Lodge Master Gu want us to meet up?’ asked Qian.’He has sent one of his men ahead to make contact with Lodge Master Ma of the Clan Lodge in Guangxi. If Lodge Master Wei agrees, the three Lodge Masters can meet in Lucheng. That’s in western Guangxi, a long way from here, and hard roads all the way. But at least the place is not patrolled by the Satrap’s troops. And the Clan Lodge Brothers of Guangxi will be there for us if need be. It should be safe enough.’Trinket was greatly relieved to hear this.’Good. We’d better head towards Lucheng then. But that fat turtle of a Satrap has got it coming to him one day soon!’He gave the order for the party to set off in a new direction, and head towards the south’east, into the mountainous province of Guangxi. Brother Kuang and his friends were to be carried in a comfortable conveyance, so that they could rest after their exertions. Knowing that the Satrap was still after them, they hurried forward with a new sense of urgency, camping out every night in the open, not wishing to alert the local officials to their presence.

不一日来到潞城。天地会家后堂香主马超兴、赤火堂香主古至中,以及两堂属下的为首兄弟都已在潞城相候。三堂众兄弟相会,自有一番亲热。当晚马超兴大张筵席,和韦小宝及青木堂群雄接风。席上群雄说起沐王府从此对天地会甘拜下风,都是兴高采烈。筵席散后,赤火堂哨探来报,吴三桂部属得知韦小宝改道入桂,提兵急追,到了广西边境,不敢再过来,已急报昆明请示,是否改扮盗贼,潜入广西境内行事。马超兴笑道:“广西不归吴三桂管辖。这奸贼倘若带兵越境,那是公然造反了。他如派兵改扮盗贼,想把这笔帐推在广西孔四贞头上,匆匆忙忙的,那也来不及了。”
A few days later they reached Lucheng. Lodge Master Ma Chaoxing of the Clan Lodge, Lodge Master Gu Zhizhong of the Red Fire Lodge, together with leading members of both Lodges, were gathered there to greet them. That evening Lodge Master Ma presided over a banquet. The local Triads were pleased to learn of the recent turn of events in Kunming, and the consequent loss of prestige of their traditional rivals in the Resistance, the Mu Family. When the feast was ended a detachment of Red Fire Lodge scouts returned to report that the Satrap’s men had learned about Trinket’s changed route, and were already in hot pursuit. They had reached the Guangxi border, but had not dared to cross over. They had sent back to Kunming for instructions as to whether or not they should penetrate into Guangxi disguised as brigands. Lodge Master Ma laughed. ‘Guangxi is outside the Satrap’s jurisdiction. If he were to send his men in here, it would be as good as an open declaration of rebellion. He probably thinks that by disguising his men he can shift the responsibility for whatever happens onto the shoulders of the Princess Kong Sizhen-but it will never work!’ He was referring to the daughter of the general Kong Youde, who had himself died soon after the Manchu conquest. Later, during Kang Xi’s reign, the Princess had been showered with honours, and she continued to control Guangxi Province, which had been her father’s fief during his lifetime.

众人在潞城歇了一日。韦小宝终觉离云南太近,心中害怕,催着东行。第三天早晨和古至中及赤火堂众兄弟别过了,率队而东。马超兴和家后堂众兄弟一路随伴。眼见离云南越来越远,韦小宝也渐放心。在途非止一日,到得桂中,一众侍卫官兵惊魂大定,故态复萌,才重新起始勒索州县,骚扰地方。这一日来到柳州,当地知府听得公主到来,竭力巴结供应,不在话下。一众御前侍卫和骁骑营官兵也是如鱼得水,在城中到处大吃大玩。
They all rested a day in Lucheng. Trinket still felt they were too close to Yunnan for comfort, and was for moving further east. The following day he said farewell to Gu and the Red Fire Triads, and set off with his party eastwards into Guangxi, accompanied by Ma and the Clan Lodge Triads. A Number of Familiar Faces After several days on the road, they finally came to central Guangxi, sufficiently far away from danger for the members of the Imperial Guard (including Trinket’s old friends, Captains Zhang and Zhao) to feel that they could begin indulging again in their usual practices of extortion and trouble’making. When they arrived in the city of Liuzhou, the local Prefect, knowing that the party included an Imperial Princess, entertained them lavishly. The troops were back in their element, and went out on the town.

第三日傍晚,韦小宝在厢房与马超兴及天地会众兄弟闲谈,御前侍卫班领张康年匆匆进来,叫了声:“韦副总管。”便不再说下去,神色甚是尴尬。韦小宝见他左脸上肿了一块,右眼乌黑,显是跟人打架吃了亏,心想:“御前侍卫不去打人,人家已经偷笑了,有谁这样大胆,竟敢打了他?”他不愿御前侍卫在天地会兄弟前失了面子,向马超兴道:“马大哥请宽坐,兄弟暂且失陪。”马超兴道:“好说。韦爵爷请便。”韦小宝走出厢房。张康年跟了出来,一到房外,便道:“禀告副总管:赵二哥给人家扣住了。”他说的赵二哥,便是御前侍卫的另一个领班赵齐贤。韦小宝骂道:“他妈的,谁有这般大胆,是柳州守备?还是知府衙门?犯了甚么事?杀了人么?”
During their third evening in Liuzhou, Trinket was engaged in conversation with Lodge Master Ma and other Triads, when Captain Zhang Kangnian came up in a great fluster, demanding urgendy to see Colonel Wei. He would say nothing more, but looked extremely ill at ease. Trinket saw that his left cheek was swollen, and that on the right side he had a black eye. He had obviously been in some sort of a brawl, and had come out of it somewhat the worse for wear. Trinket left his Triad friends (not wishing to humiliate a Guard in front of them), and drew Captain Zhang into a side’room. As soon as they were alone, Zhang informed Trinket that their friend Captain Zhao Qixian was being held in custody.’What a bloody cheek!’ cried Trinket angrily. ‘Who was it? One of the Liuzhou guard? One of the Yamen constables? What did he do? Kill someone?’

心想若不是犯了人命案子,当地官府决不敢扣押御前侍卫。张康年神色忸怩,说道:“不是官府扣的,是……是在赌场里。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“他奶奶的,柳州城的赌场胆敢扣押御前侍卫,当真是天大的新闻了。你们输了钱,是不是?”张康年点点头,苦笑道:“我们七个兄弟去赌钱,赌的是大小。他妈的,这赌场有鬼,竟一连开了十三记大,我们七个已输了千多两银子。第十四记上,赵二哥和我都说,这一次非开小不可……”韦小宝摇头道:“错了,错了,多半还是开大。”张康年道:“可惜我们没请副总管带领去赌,否则也不会上这个当。我们七人把身边的银子银票都掏了出来,押了个小。唉!”韦小宝笑道:“开了出来,又是个大。”张康年双手一摊,作个无可奈何之状,说道:“宝官要收银子,我们就不许,说道天下赌场,那有连开十四个大之理,定是作弊。赌场主人出来打圆场,说道这次不算,不吃也不赔。赵二哥说不行,这次本来是小,宝官做了手脚,我们已输了这么多钱,这次明明大赢,怎能不算?”韦小宝笑骂:“他妈的,你们这批家伙不要脸,明明输了,却去撒赖。别说连开十四记大,就是连开廿四记,我也见过。”张康年道:“那赌场主人也这么说。赵二哥说道,我们北京城里天子脚下,就没这个规矩。他一发脾气,我就拔了刀子出来。赌场主人吓得脸都白了,说道承蒙众位侍卫大人瞧得起,前来耍几手,我们怎敢赢众位大人的钱,众位大人输了多少钱,小人尽数奉还就是。赵二哥就说,好啦,我们没输,只是给你骗了三千一百五十三两银子,零头也不要了,算我们倒霉,你还我们三千两就是。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,一路走入花园,问道:“那不是发财了吗?他赔不赔?”张康年道:“这开赌场的倒也爽气,说道交朋友义气为先,捧了三千两银子,就交给赵二哥。赵二哥接了,也不多谢,说道你招子亮,总算你运气,下次如再作弊骗人,可放你不过。”韦小宝皱眉道:“这就是赵齐贤的不是了。人家给了你面子,再让你双手捧了白花花的银子走路,又有面子,又有夹里,还说这些话作甚?”张康年道:“是啊,赵二哥倘若说几句漂亮话,谢他一声,也就没事了。可是,他拿了银子还说话损人……”韦小宝道:“对啦!咱们在江湖上混饭吃,偷抢拐骗,甚么都不妨,可不能得罪了朋友。有道是:‘光棍劈竹不伤笋。’”张康年应道:“是,是。”心中却想:“咱们明明在宫里当差,你官封钦差大臣,一等子爵,怎么叫作在江湖上混饭吃?”
Trinket was thinking to himself that, for a Palace Guard to have been arrested, it must have been something extremely serious. A shamefaced Zhang confessed that their friend had been apprehended in a gambling den. Trinket roared with laughter.’Tamardy! You mean he’s been nabbed by some local gamblers! That’s rich! The two of you lost a lot of money, I’ll bet!’Zhang nodded. It transpired that at the end of a long (and disastrous) gambling session, Captain Zhao had provoked trouble by abusing the operators of the den and accusing them of cheating, despite the fact that they had let him off very generously.’Not a very River and Lake sort of thing to do!’ commented Trinket.’That’s an odd remark,’ reflected Zhang silently to himself, ‘seeing that we all work in the Palace, and neither you nor I norZhao have anything to do with the River and Lake fraternity at all.’

韦小宝又问:“怎么又打起来啦?那赌场主人武功很高吗?”张康年道:“那倒不是。我们七人拿了银子,正要走出赌场,赌客中忽然有个人骂道:“他妈的,发财这么容易,我们还赌个屁?不如大伙儿都到皇宫里去伺候皇帝……皇帝……好啦。’副总管,这反贼说到皇上之时,口出大不敬的言语,我可不敢学着说。”韦小宝点头道:“我明白,这家伙胆子不小哇。”张康年道:“可不是吗?我们一听,自然心头火起。赵二哥将银子往桌上一丢,拔出刀来,左手便去揪那人胸口。那人砰的一拳,就将赵二哥打得晕了过去。我们余下六人一齐动手。这反贼的武功可也真不低,我瞧也没瞧清,脸上已吃了一拳,直摔出赌场门外,登时昏天黑地,也不知道后来怎样了。等到醒来,只见赵二哥和五个兄弟都躺在地下。那人一只脚踹住了赵二哥的脑袋,说道:“这里六只畜生,一千两银子一只。你快去拿银子来赎。老子只等你两个时辰,过得两个时辰不见银子,老子要宰来零卖了。十两银子一斤,要是生意不差,一头畜生也卖得千多两银子。
Confusion such as this was becoming only too common on Trinket’s part, as he sought unsuccessfully to manage his complex identities. Anyway, as a result of Captain Zhao’s abusive behaviour, he and Zhang and five of their friends from the Guard had been knocked unconscious by a strange dishevelled old fellow, a large man, who had leapt to the defence of the gambling establishment, at the same time saying all manner of insulting things about theEmperor. The man had used devastating kungfu on them. When Zhang recovered consciousness, he found himself lying on the ground, with his friends sprawled around him. The big fellow was standing with one foot on Captain Zhao’s head, demanding that they each pay a thousand taels of silver. If they didn’t come up with the money within four hours, he would start selling them off as meat, in medium’sized chunks, at ten taels a pound!

韦小宝又是好笑,又是吃惊,问道:“这家伙是甚么路道,你瞧出来没有?”张康年道:“这人个子很高大,拳头比饭碗还大,一脸花白络腮胡子,穿得破破烂烂的,就像是个老叫化。”韦小宝问道:“他有多少同伴?”张康年道:“这个……这个……属下倒不大清楚。赌场里的赌客,那时候有十七八个,也不知是不是他一伙。”韦小宝知他给打得昏天黑地,当时只求脱身,也不敢多瞧,寻思:“这老叫化定是江湖上的英雄好汉,见到侍卫们赌得赖皮,忍不住出手,真要宰了他们来零卖,倒也不见得。我看也没甚么人肯出十两银子,去买赵齐贤的一斤肉。我如调动大队人马去打他一人,那不是好汉行径。”又想:“这老叫化武功很好,倘若求师父去对付,自然手到擒来,可是师父怎肯去为宫里侍卫出力?这件事如让马香主他们知道了,定会笑我属下这些侍卫脓包得紧。”觉得就是派风际中、徐天川他们去也不妥当。突然间想起两个人来,说道:“不用着急,我这就亲自去瞧瞧。”张康年脸有喜色,道:“是,是。我去叫人,带一百人去总也够了。”韦小宝摇头道:“不用带这许多。”张康年道:“副总管还是小心些为是。这老叫化手脚可着实了得。”韦小宝笑道:“不怕,都有我呢。”回入自己房中,取了一大叠银票,十几锭黄金,放在袋里,走到东边偏房外,敲了敲门,说道:“两位在这里么?”房门打开,陆高轩迎了出来,说道:“请进。”韦小宝道:“两位跟我来,咱们去办一件事。”陆高轩和胖头陀二人穿着骁骑营军士的服色,一直随伴着韦小宝,在昆明和一路来回,始终没出手办甚么事,生怕给人瞧破了形迹,整日价躲在屋里,早闷得慌了,听韦小宝有所差遣,兴兴头头的跟了出来。
‘What sort of a fellow is he?’ asked Trinket, intrigued. ‘He’s huge, he’s got fists bigger than rice’bowls, and his face is covered in whiskers. He’s dressed in rags, like a beggar.’ Clearly this was some River and Lake figure, thought Trinket to himself, and dealing with him would require appropriate River and Lake measures (and a certain amount of money, no doubt). It suddenly occurred to him that he had the very people for the job. He disappeared for a moment and returned with a bag full of money and a couple of officers from the Valiant Regiment. Captain Zhang was dismayed. How was Colonel Trinket going to deal with such a deadly fighter aided by only these two men’ Zhang could not know that beneath their uniforms, these men were none other than those redoubtable warriors, our old friends Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta (the scrawny one), who had accompanied Trinket throughout his trip to Yunnan, dressed as officers in the Valiant Regiment of Household Cavalry. They had kept a very low profile for fear of complicating life unnecessarily for him and for themselves (and, no doubt, for the indulgent reader as well). They had spent most of their time indoors, and had stayed well out of trouble. When Trinket told them he had a special mission for them, they were only too pleased to be involved in some action at last.

张康年见韦小宝只带了两名骁骑营军士,心中大不以为然,说道:“副总管,属下去叫些侍卫兄弟来侍候副总管。”韦小宝道:“不用,人多反而麻烦。你叫一百个人,要是都给他拿住了,一千两银子一个,就得十万两,我可有点儿肉痛了。咱们这里四个人,只不过四千两,那是小事,不放在心上。”张康年知他是说笑,但见他随便帝了两名军士,就孤身犯险,实在太也托大,说道:“是,是。不过那反贼武功当真是很高的。”韦小宝道:“好,我就跟他比比,倘若输了,只要他不是切了我来零卖,也没甚么大不了。”张康年皱起眉头,不敢再说。他可不知这两个骁骑营军士是武林中的第一流人物,赌场中一个无赖汉,不论武功高到怎样,神龙教的两大高手总不会拾夺不下。

In the Qambling Den

当下张康年引着韦小宝来到赌场,刚到门口,听得场里有人大声吆喝:“我这里七点一对,够大了罢?”另一人哈哈大笑,说道:“对不起之至,兄弟手里,刚好有一对八点。”跟着拍的一声,似是先一人将牌拍在桌上,大声咒骂。韦小宝和张康年互瞧了一眼,心想:“怎么里面又赌起来了?”韦小宝迈步进去,张康年畏畏缩缩的跟在后面。陆高轩和胖头陀二人走到厅口,便站住了,以待韦小宝指示。只见厅中一张大台,四个人分坐四角,正在赌钱。赵齐贤和五名侍卫仍是躺在地上。东边坐的是个络腮胡子,衣衫破烂,破洞中露出毛茸茸的黑肉来,自是那老叫化了。南边坐着个相貌英俊的青年书生。
Zhang led Trinket, the Doctor, and Fat Dhuta to the gambling den, where play was in full swing. Trinket strode boldly into the room, while Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta stood in the doorway, awaiting his orders. Zhang skulked behind them. There were four men playing around a large table. Captain Zhao and the five other Palace Guards were still lying motionless on the ground. The man sitting to the right of the table (East in gambling parlance) was a big, hairy fellow, certainly the kungfu beggar described by Zhang. To his left, in South position, was a handsome young gentleman or scholar.

韦小宝一怔,认得这人是李西华,当日在北京城里曾经会过,他武功颇为了得,曾中过陈近南的一下“凝血神抓”,此后一直没再见面,不料竟会在柳州的赌场中重逢。西首坐的是个乡农般人物,五十岁左右年纪,神色愁苦,垂眉低目,显然已输得抬不起头来。北首那人形相极是奇特,又矮又胖,全身宛如个肉球,衣饰偏又十分华贵,长袍马褂都是锦缎,脸上五官挤在一起,倒似给人硬生生的搓成了一团模样。这矮胖子手里拿着两张骨牌,一双大眼眯成一线,全神贯注的在看牌。
Trinket recognized him at once as Li Xihua, a man he had once met in Peking, a young fighter of supreme skill. On that occasion, Li had been involved in a staggering display of kungfu virtuosity, involving the Helmsman Chen Jinnan himself, who had been obliged to use his Blood’Curdling Snatch on Li’s ankle. Trinket was more than a little surprised to see him again in these outlandish provincial surroundings. Opposite the beggar, in West position, was a man of sixty or so, dressed like a peasant, a sour’faced, glum’looking individual, whose expression suggested that he had sustained heavy losses at the table. In North position was the oddest’looking character of them all, a short, fat individual, round as a meatball, dressed in a luxurious silken jacket and gown. His face was all squashed together, as if someone had literally pounded it into a ball. He was totally engrossed in the game.

韦小宝心想:“这李西华不知还认不认得我?隔了这许多时候,我今日穿了官服,多半不认得了,却不忙跟他招呼。”笑道:“四位朋友好兴致,兄弟也来赌一手,成不成啊?”说着走近身去,只见台上堆着五六千两银子,倒是那乡下人面前最多。他是大赢家,却满脸大输家的凄凉神气,可有点儿奇怪。那矮胖子伸着三根胖手指慢慢摸牌,突然间“啊哈”一声大叫,把韦小宝吓了一跳。
‘I wonder if Li Xihua remembers me?’ wondered Trinket silently. ‘Probably not. After all, it was such a long time ago, and I’m all dressed up in these official clothes. But I’d better watch my step with him.”Good evening to you all, friends!’ he announced cheerfully. ‘I wonder if I could join you for a round or two?’ As he approached the table, Trinket saw large piles of money on somewhere between five and six thousand taels in all. And the largest pile of all was stacked right in front of the sour-faced peasant. Despite his glum expression, he was clearly by far the biggest winner. Odd. The short round man in the silken gown tapped his dominoes with his stubby fingers. Then suddenly he let out a startling cry.

只听他哈哈大笑,说道:“妙极,妙极!这一次还不输到你跳?”拍的一声,将一张牌拍在桌上,是张十点“梅花”。韦小宝心想:“他手里的另一张牌,多半也是梅花,梅花一对,赢面极高。”那矮胖子笑容满面,拍的一声,又将一张牌拍在桌上。余人一看之下,都是一愣,随即纵声大笑,原来是张“四六”,也是十点,十点加十点,乃是个别十,牌九中小到无可再小。他又是闲家,就算庄家也是别十,别十吃别十,还是庄家赢。那乡农却仍是愁眉苦脸,半丝笑容也无。韦小宝一看他面前的牌,是一对九,他正在做庄,跟矮胖子的牌相差十万八千里,心想:“这人不动声色,是个最厉害的赌客。”矮胖子问道:“有甚么好笑?”对那乡农说:“我一对十点,刚好赢你一对九点。一百两银子,快赔来。”那乡农摇摇头道:“你输了!”矮胖子大怒,叫道:“你讲不讲理?你数,这张牌一二三四五六七八九十,十点,那张牌也是一二三四五六七八九十,十点。还不是十点一对?”韦小宝向张康年瞧了一眼,心道:“这矮胖子来当御前侍卫,倒也挺合适,赢了拿钱,输了便胡赖。”

那乡农仍旧摇摇头,道:“这是别十,你输了。”矮胖子怒不可遏,跳起身来,不料他这一跳起,反而矮了个头,原来他坐在凳上,双脚悬空,反比站在地下为高。他伸着胖手,指着乡农鼻子,喝道:“我是别十,你是别九,别十自然大过你的别九。”那乡农道:“我是一对九,你是别十,别十就是没点儿。”矮胖子道:“这不明明欺侮人吗?”韦小宝再也忍耐不住,插口道:“老兄,你这个不是一对儿。”说着从乱牌中捡出一张梅花,一张四六,跟另外两张梅花、四六分别凑成了对子,说道:“这才是一对,你两张十点花样不同,梅花全黑,四六有红,不是对子。”矮胖子兀自不服,指着那一对九点,道:“你这两张九点难道花样同了?一张全黑,一张有红。大家都不同,还是十点大过九点。”韦小宝觉得这人强辞夺理,一时倒也说不明白,只得道:“这是牌九的规矩,向来就是这样的。”矮胖子道:“就算向来如此,那也不通。不通就不行,咱们讲不讲理?”

李西华和老叫化只是笑吟吟的坐着,并不插嘴。韦小宝笑道:“赌钱就得讲规矩,倘若没规矩,又怎样赌法?”那矮胖子道:“好,我问你这小娃娃:为甚么我这一对十点,就赢不了他一对九点?”说着拿起两张梅花,在前面一拍。韦小宝道:“咦,你刚才不是这两张牌。”矮胖子怒极,两边腮帮子高高胀起,喝道:“混帐小子,谁说我不是这两张牌?”拿起一对梅花,随手翻过,在身前桌上一拍,又翻了过来,说道:“刚才我就拍过一拍,留下了印子,你倒瞧瞧!”

只见桌面牌痕清晰,一对梅花的点子凸了起来,手劲实是了得。韦小宝张口结舌,说不出话来。那乡农道:“对,对,是老兄赢。这里是一百两银子。”拿过一只银元宝,送到矮胖子身前,跟着便将三十二张牌翻转,搓洗了一阵,排了起来,八张一排,共分四排,摆得整整齐齐,轻轻将一叠牌推到桌子正中,跟着将身前的一大堆银子向前一推。韦小宝眼尖,已见到桌上整整齐齐竟有三十二张牌的印子,虽然牌印远不及那对梅花之深,只淡淡的若有若无,但如此举重若轻的手法,看来武功不在那矮胖子之下。他将牌子一推,已将牌印大部分遮没。韦小宝一瞥之际,已看到一对对天牌、地牌、人牌全排在一起,知道那乡农在暗中弄鬼。那矮胖子将二百两银子往天门上一押,叫道:“掷骰子,掷骰子!“又向李西华和老叫化道:“快押,这么慢吞吞的。”

李西华笑道:“老兄这么性急,还是你两个对赌罢。”矮胖子道:“很好。”转头问老叫化:“你押不押?”老叫化摇头道:“不押,别十赢别九,这样的牌九我可不会。”矮胖子怒道:“你说我不对?”老叫化道:“我说自己不会,可没说你不对。”矮胖子气忿忿的骂道:“他妈的,都不是好东西。喂,你这小娃娃在这里叽哩咕噜,却又不赌?”这句是对着韦小宝而说。

韦小宝笑道:“我帮庄。这位大哥,我跟你合伙做庄行不行?”说着从怀里抓了八九个小金锭出来,放在桌上,金光灿烂的,少说也值得上千两银子。那乡农道:“好,你小兄弟福大命大,包赢。”矮胖子怒道:“你说我包输?”韦小宝笑道:“你如怕输,少押一些也成。”矮胖子大怒,说道:“再加二百两。”又拿两只元宝押在天门。那乡农道:“小兄弟手气好,你来掷骰子罢。”韦小宝道:“好!”拿起骰子在手中一掂,便知是灌了铅的,不由得大喜,心想:“这里赌场的骰子,果然也有这调调儿。”他本来还怕久未练习,手法有些生疏了,但一拿到灌铅的骰子,登时放心,口中念念有词:“天灵灵,地灵灵,赌神菩萨第一灵,骰子小鬼抬元宝,一只一只抬进门!通杀!”口中一喝,手指转了一转,将骰子掷了出去,果然是个七点。天门拿第一副,庄家拿第三副。

韦小宝看了桌上牌印,早知矮胖子拿的是一张四六,一张虎头,只有一点,己方却是个地牌对,对那乡农道:“老兄,我掷骰子,你看牌,是输是赢,各安天命。”那乡农拿起牌来摸了摸,便合在桌上。矮胖子“哈”的一声,翻出一张四六,说道:“十点,好极!”又是“哈”的一声,翻出一张虎头,说道:“一二三四五,六七八九十,十一。十一点,好极。”伸手翻开庄家的牌,说道:“一二三四,一共四点,我是廿一点,吃你四点,赢了!”韦小宝跟那乡农面面相觑。矮胖子道:“快赔来!”韦小宝道:“点子多就赢,点子少就输,不管天杠、地杠,有对没对,是不是?”矮胖子道:“怎么不是?难道点子多的还输给少的?你这四点想赢我廿一点么?”韦小宝道:“很好,就是这个赌法。”赔了他四小锭金子,说:“每锭黄金,抵银一百两,你再押。”

矮胖子大乐,笑道:“仍是押四百两,押得多了,只怕你们输得发急。”韦小宝看了桌上牌印,掷了个五点,庄家先拿牌,那是一对天牌。矮胖子一张长三,一张板凳,两张牌加起来也不及一张天牌点子多,口中喃喃咒骂,只好认输,当下又押了四百两银子,三副牌赌下来,矮胖子输得干干净净,面前一两银子也不剩了。他满脸胀得通红,便如是个血球,两只短短的胖手在身边东摸西摸,再也摸不到甚么东西好押,忽然提起躺在地下的赵齐贤,说道:“这家伙总也值得几百两罢?我押他。”说着将赵齐贤横在桌上一放。赵齐贤给人点了穴道,早已丝毫动弹不得。

It was evident that he suspected the sullen Peasant sitting on his right of cheating. There was a heated exchange between the two of them, during which Li Xihua and the old Beggar (who had both retired from the game) sat on the sidelines quietly chuckling. As the game progressed, Trinket could see that the Peasant was actually using a clever system of marking. Meatball went on losing more and more heavily, until finally he was cleaned out altogether and had nothing left to bet with. The blood had gone rushing to his face, so that it looked like one huge, crimson, bloated blood vessel. He began rummaging through all his pockets with his podgy hands, without finding anything, and seemed about to despair, when suddenly he caught sight of Captain Zhao lying on the ground.That creature must be worth a few hundred taels! I’ll bet him!’ He promptly lugged Zhao up onto the table. The unfortunate Captain had had his Vital Points well and truly immobilized, and was incapable of offering even the slightest resistance.

那老叫化忽道:“且慢,这几名御前侍卫,是在下拿住的,老兄怎么拿去跟人赌博?”矮胖子道:“借来使使,成不成?”老叫化道:“倘若输了,如何归还?”矮胖子一怔,道:“不会输的。”老叫化道:“倘若老兄手气不好,又输了呢?”矮胖子道:“那也容易。这当儿柳州城里,御前侍卫着实不少,我去抓几名来赔还你便是。”老叫化点点头,说道:“这倒可以。”矮胖子催韦小宝:“快掷骰子。”这一方牌已经赌完,韦小宝向那乡农道:“请老兄洗牌叠牌,还是老样子。”
‘Wait a minute!’ barked the old Beggar. ‘I’m the one who arrested these guards! What right do you have to bet with them?’ ‘Just lend him to me, will you?’ grovelled Meatball. ‘And if you lose’ What will I get back?’ A strange expression came into Meatball’s eyes. ‘I have no intention of losing-‘. ‘And supposing your luck doesn’t turn?’ ‘Oh, there are plenty more guards in town-I’ll get hold of another one for you.’ ‘I’m not so sure. . . .’ muttered the Beggar, but he nodded his head all the same. ‘Come on, you!’ Meatball urged Trinket. ‘Throw the dice for me!’ Trinket turned to the cheerless Peasant. ‘You shuffle the dominoes, would you’ Same as last time.’

那乡农一言不发,将三十二张骨牌在桌上搓来搓去,洗了一会,叠成四方。韦小宝吃了一惊,桌上非但不见有新的牌印,连原来的牌印,也给他潜运内力一阵推搓,都已抹得干干净净,唯有纵横数十道印痕,再也分不清点子了。倘若矮胖子押的仍是金银,韦小宝大可不理,让这乡农跟他对赌,谁输谁赢,都不相干。但这时天门上押的是赵齐贤,这一庄却非推不可,既不知大牌叠在何处,骰子上作弊便无用处,说道:“两人对赌,何必赌牌九?不如来掷骰子,谁的点子大,谁就赢了。”矮胖子将一个圆头摇得博浪鼓般,说道:“老子就是爱赌牌九。”韦小宝道:“你不懂牌九,又赌甚么?”矮胖子大怒,一把捉住他胸口,提了起来,一阵摇晃,说道:“你奶奶的,你说我不懂牌九?”韦小宝给他这么一阵乱摇,全身骨骼格格作响。
The Peasant made a great racket shuffling the thirty’two bone dominoes, and then proceeded to divide them into piles. Trinket was astonished to observe how all his old cheating marks had been secretly erased, and no new ones were as yet visible in their place. If the two men had still been playing for money, it wouldn’t have mattered so much. But since the stake was now his old friend Captain Zhao, Trinket felt the need to intervene. ‘Why not just play with dice!’ he suggested to the two of them. Meatball shook his fat round head till it wobbled like a spinning’top. ‘I much prefer playing dominoes!’ ‘But you’re obviously not much good at it.’ Meatball reached out, grabbed Trinket by the chest, yanked him up into the air, and began shaking him up and down. ‘Nobody calls me a bad player! Nobody’ Trinket felt the bones rattling in his body.

忽听得身后有人叫道:“快放手,使不得!”正是胖头陀的声音。那矮胖子右手将韦小宝高高举在空中,奇道:“咦,你怎么来了?为甚么使不得?”只听陆高轩的声音道:“这一位韦……韦大人,大有来头,千万得罪不得,快快放下。”矮胖子喜道:“他……他是韦……韦……他妈的韦小宝?哈哈,妙极,妙极了!我正要找他,哈哈,这一下可找到了。”说着转身便向门外走去,右手仍是举着韦小宝。
Then a voice from behind him cried’ ‘Put him down! You can’t do that to him’ It was Fat Dhuta, who had suddenly made himself visible. Meatball still had Trinket suspended from his right hand. He pulled a face. ‘Why not’ And what the hell are you doing here anyway?’Doctor Lu replied on behalf of Fat Dhuta”Just put him down! He’s somebody important. You really mustn’t offend His Excellency . . . Mr Wei!’Meatball gave a great whoop of joy.’Mr Wei! You mean this is Mr Wei! Tamardy! The very man I’ve been looking for! Fantastic!’And so saying he went running towards the door, still suspending Trinket in mid’air and making for the street.

胖头陀和陆高轩双双拦住。陆高轩道:“瘦尊者,你既已知道这位韦大人来历,怎么仍如此无礼?快快放下。”矮胖子道:“就是教主亲来,我也不放。除非拿解药来。”胖头陀道:“快别胡闹,你又没服豹……那个丸药,要解药干甚么?”矮胖子道:“哼,你懂得甚么?快让开,别怪我跟你不客气。”韦小宝身在半空,听着三人对答,心道:“原来这矮胖子就是胖头陀的师兄瘦头陀,难怪胖得这等希奇,矮得如此滑稽。”
Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu barred his way.’Come on, Skinny’ said Doctor Lu, addressing Meatball. ‘Now that you know who he is, show a little more respect. . . . Put him down!”If he was the Great Leader himself, I still wouldn’t put him down! Not till he gave me some of the Antidote!”Stop talking such rubbish! What would you want the Antidote for now?’ cried Fat Dhuta.’You don’t know anything.’ cried Meatball. ‘Out of my way! Unless you want a fight!’Trinket was following this strange conversation as best he could from his position in mid’air.’So Meatball must be Fat Dhuta’s long’lost brother’in’arms, Thin Dhuta. The one they sometimes call Lump’of’Flesh. He’s certainly fat and short and grotesque! Makes sense, I suppose. …’

那日在慈宁宫中,有个大肉球般的怪物躲在假太后被窝里,光着身子抱了她逃出宫去。韦小宝后来询问胖头陀和陆高轩,知道是胖头陀的师兄瘦头陀。只因那天他逃得太快,没看清楚相貌,以致跟他赌了半天还认他不出。转念又想:“胖头陀曾说,当年他跟师兄瘦头陀二人,奉教主之命赴海外办事,未能依期赶回,以致所服豹胎易筋丸的毒性发作,胖头陀变得又高又瘦,瘦头陀却成了个矮胖子。现下他二人早已服了解药,原来的身形也已变不回了,这矮胖子又要解药来干甚么?啊,是了,假太后老婊子身上的豹胎易筋丸毒性未解,这瘦头陀跟她睡在一个被窝里,自然是老相好了。”大声道:“你要豹胎易筋丸解药,还不快快将我放下?”
He recalled that day in the Palace, in the Hall of Maternal Tranquillity, the Fake’Empress Dowager’s compound, when a fat spherical creature had come hurtling naked from under the bedcovers, and escaped from the Palace carrying the ‘Old Whore’ under his arm. (He’d been moving too fast on that occasion for Trinket to get a good view of his features, which is why he hadn’t recognized him this time in the gambling den.)Fat Dhuta had once told Trinket the whole story about him and Thin Dhuta’ how the two of them had been sent overseas on an important mission by the Great Leader, and were delayed on the way back, with the result that the Leopard Embryo Pills they’d taken had developed a violent toxicity-the originally fat member of the duo had grown into a tall, skinny beanpole, and the thin one had become a spherical dwarf. Afterwards, they had both taken the Antidote, so Fat Dhuta said, but it had been too late to reverse the process. Meatball’s current obsession with the Antidote seemed a bit futile-unless he wanted it for the Old Whore! Yes, that must be it! He wanted it for that vile slut of a lover of his! ‘Hey, you!’ Trinket yelled. ‘If you want that Antidote, you’d better put me down smartish.’

瘦头陀一听到“豹胎易筋丸”五字,全身肥肉登时一阵发颤,右臂一曲,放下韦小宝,伸出左手,叫道:“快拿来。”韦小宝道:“你对我如此无礼,哼!哼!你刚才说甚么话?”瘦头陀突然一纵而前,左手按住了韦小宝后心,喝道:“快取出解药来。”他这肥手所按之处,正是“大椎穴”,只须掌力一吐,韦小宝心脉立时震断。
At the mention of the word ‘Antidote’ Meatball’s entire physical sphere started to tremble like a jelly. He put Trinket down and stretched out his left hand. ‘Give!’ ‘What, just like that’ When you’ve just been so rude to me’ After everything you said?’ Meatball, or Thin Dhuta as he really ought to be called from now on, lunged forward and poked Trinket in the small of the back. ‘Quick!’he cried.’The Antidote!’ His fat palm was now bearing down on Trinket’s Great Mallet point. A little more pressure, and Trinket’s Heart Meridian would be in serious trouble. It would be fatal.

胖头陀和陆高轩同时叫道:“使不得!”叫声未歇,瘦头陀身上已同时多了三只手掌。老叫化的手掌按住了他头顶“百会穴”,李西华的手掌按在他后脑的“玉枕穴”,那乡农的手掌却按在他脸上,食中二指分别按在他眼皮之上。百会、玉枕二穴都是人身要穴,而那乡农的两根手指更是稍一用力便挖出了他眼珠。那瘦头陀实在生得太矮,比韦小宝还矮了半个头,以致三人同时出手,都招呼在他那圆圆的脑袋之上,连胸背要穴都按不到。
‘Leave him alone!’ yelled Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta simultaneously. And at the exact same moment, three other hands sought out Thin Dhuta’s pumpkin head. The Beggar’s palm pressed down on his Hundred Meetings point, on his crown; Li Xihua’s hand pressed on his Jade Pillow point, on the back of his head; and the surly Peasant shot his hand out at Thin Dhuta’s face and pressed two fingers-his index and middle fingers-into points just above one of his eyelids. These were lethal points, and it would only have taken a slight jab for the Peasant to rip out his eye’ball. Thin Dhuta was extremely short. He was half Trinket’s height. With all these hands descending on him from above, he was totally outmanoeuvred.

胖头陀和陆高轩见三人这一伸手,便知均是武学高手,三人倘若同时发劲,只怕立时便将瘦头陀一个肥头挤得稀烂,齐声又叫:“使不得!”老叫化道:“矮胖子,快放开了手。”瘦头陀道:“他给解药,我便放。”老叫化道:“你不放开,我要发力了!”瘦头陀道:“反正是死,那就同归于尽……”突然之间,胖头陀的右掌已搭在老叫化胁下,陆高轩一掌按住李西华后颈。胖陆二人站得甚近,身上穿的是骁骑营军士服色,老叫化和李西华虽从他二人语气之中知和瘦头陀相识,没料到这二人竟是武功高强之至,一招之间,便已受制。胖陆二人同时说道:“大家都放手罢。”
Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta could tell that each of the three men possessed highly developed kungfu skills. If they were all three to press home their concerted attack, they would certainly make a messy pulp of Thin Dhuta’s fat head. ‘Hold back!’ the two of them cried in unison. ‘First you do some holding back, Fatso!’ demanded the Beggar. ‘Get your hands off Mr Wei.’ ‘If he gives me the Antidote!’ ‘If you don’t let go of him,’ continued the Beggar, ‘I’ll have to teach you a lesson.’ But before he could carry out his threat, Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta stepped in. They soon had both the Beggar and Li Xihua immobilized.

那乡农突从瘦头陀脸上撤开手掌,双手分别按在胖陆二人后心,说道:“还是你们二位先放手。”李西华笑道:“哈哈,真是好笑,有趣,有趣!”一撤手掌,快如闪电般一缩一吐,已按上了那乡农的头顶。这一来,韦小宝、瘦头陀、李西华、陆高轩、胖头陀、乡农、老叫化七人连环受制,每人身上的要害都处于旁人掌底。霎时之间七人便如泥塑木雕一般,谁都不敢稍动,其中只有韦小宝是制于人而不能制人,至于制住自己要害之人到底是甚么来头,也只有韦小宝知道,其余六人却均莫名其妙。韦小宝叫道:“张康年!”这时赌场之中,除了缩在屋角的几名伙计,只张康年一人闲着,他应道:“喳!”刷的一声,拔了腰刀。瘦头陀叫道:“狗侍卫,你有种就过来。”张康年举起腰刀,生怕这矮胖子伤了韦小宝,竟不敢走近一步。韦小宝身在垓心,只觉生平遭遇之奇,少有逾此,大叫:“有趣,有趣!矮胖子,你一掌杀了我不打紧,你自己死了也不打紧,可是这豹胎易筋丸的解药,你就一辈子拿不到了。你那老姘头,全身一块块肉都要烂得掉下来,先烂成个秃头,然后……”瘦头陀喝道:“不许再说!”韦小宝笑道:“她脸上再烂出一个个窟窿……”
A second later, the Peasant snatched his hand from Thin Dhuta’s face and transferred his attentions to Doctor Lu and Fat Dhuta. They could each feel one of his hands poking them in the small of the back. The seven of them-Trinket, Thin Dhuta, Li Xihua, Doctor Lu, Fat Dhuta, the Peasant, and the Beggar-rang the changes, taking it in turns to control and to be controlled. Then for an instant they were all motionless, like an array of clay dolls. Strictly speaking, Trinket was only ever on the receiving end of control. But then, he was the only one who knew what the fuss was all about. None of the others knew of Thin Dhuta’s liaison with the Old Whore. ‘This is all such fun!’ he cried. ‘Hey, Fatso, go ahead, kill me, who cares! Who cares if you get killed either, for that matter. The only pity would be if the Antidote disappeared with me.. . . Then a certain lady friend of yours might be very upset. She’d probably start falling apart, bit by bit. First chunks of her hair would fall out, and then she’d go completely bald. Then she’d-‘ ‘Stop!’ cried Thin Dhuta. ‘Then her face would collapse into a skull-‘

正说到这里,厅口有人说道:“在这里!”又有一人说道:“都拿下了!”众人一齐转头,向厅口看去,突见白光闪动,有人手提长剑,绕着众人转了个圈子。众人背心、胁下、腰间、肩头各处要穴微微一麻,已被点中了穴道,顷刻之间,一个个都软倒在地。但见厅口站着三人,韦小宝大喜叫道:“阿珂,你也来……”说到这个“来”字,心头一沉,便即住口,但见她身旁站着两人,左侧是李自成,右侧却是那个他生平最讨厌的郑克塽。东首一人已将长剑还入剑鞘,双手叉腰,微微冷笑,却是那“一剑无血”冯锡范。瘦头陀、老叫化、李西华、胖头陀、陆高轩、乡农等六名好手互相牵制,此亦不敢动,彼亦不敢动,突然又来了个高手,毫不费力的便将众人尽数点倒,连张康年也中了一剑。
Suddenly a voice could be heard from the doorway. ‘Here they are! Take them all prisoner!’ They all turned to see a flash of steel, and realized that they were surrounded. They felt their points freeze, and then one by one, they sank immobile to the ground. A Surprising Intervention Trinket saw that one of the new arrivals in the gambling den was his darling Green Girl, and was about to cry out to her in delight, when he recognized two of the men with her as Bash’em Li Zicheng (her natural father) and the man who was in Trinket’s eyes the most loathsome, foul creature in the entire universe-her so’called fiance Zheng Keshuang. The third man, who had replaced his long sword in its scabbard and was standing there arms akimbo, sneering at them all, was Feng Xifan, the Bloodless Sword, Zheng Keshuang’s sinister mentor. It was his deadly blade that had immobilized every one of them, even Captain Zhang Kangnian.

瘦头陀坐倒在地,跟他站着之时相比,却也矮不了多少,怒喝:“你是甚么东西,胆敢点了老子的阳关穴、神堂穴?”冯锡范冷笑道:“你武功很不错啊,居然知道自己给点了甚么穴道。”瘦头陀怒道:“快解开老子穴道,跟你斗上一斗。这般偷袭暗算,他妈的不是英雄好汉。”冯锡范笑道:“你是英雄好汉!他妈的躺在地下,动也不能动的英雄好汉。”瘦头陀怒道:“老子坐在地上,不是躺在地下,他妈的你不生眼睛么?”冯锡范左足一抬,在他肩头轻轻一拨,瘦头陀仰天跌倒。可是他臀上肥肉特多,是全身重量集中之处,摔倒之后,虽然身上使不出劲,却自然而然的又坐了起来。
Thin Dhuta, when he was sitting on the ground, was hardly any shorter than he was standing up. That tends to be the way with spherical objects. IL ‘Who the blazes are you?’ he yelled. ‘Who gave you permission to close my Sun Gate and Spirit Hall points?’ ‘I am impressed!’ sneered Feng. ‘At least you know which points they are! Excellent kungfu!’ But Thin Dhuta was not impressed by Feng’s sarcasm. ‘Open them, and I’ll challenge you to a proper fight! Sneaking up on people like that is not a very brave thing to do.’ Feng sneered yet again. ‘And what a brave little thing you are! Lying there on the ground, like a beached ball! Brave little ball!’ ‘I’m sitting, not lying! Haven’t you got any tamardy eyes in your head?’ Feng prodded Thin Dhuta on the shoulder with his left foot, and he rolled over onto his back. But the sheer weight of his great fat bottom brought him rolling back into a sitting position.

郑克塽哈哈大笑,说道:“珂妹,你瞧,这不倒翁好不好玩?”阿珂微笑道:“古怪得很。”郑克塽道:“你要找这小鬼报仇,终于心愿得偿,咱们捉了去慢慢治他呢,还是就此一剑杀了?”韦小宝大吃一惊,心想:“‘小鬼’二字,只有用在我身上才合适,难道阿珂要找我报仇,我可没得罪她啊。”阿珂咬牙说道:“这人我多看一眼也是生气,一剑杀了干净。”说着刷的一声,拔剑出勒,走到韦小宝面前。
Zheng Keshuang burst out laughing. ‘Look at this roly’poly toy, Ah Kor! Isn’t it a scream!’ ‘He’s weird,’ was her reply. ‘So, my dear’ continued Zheng Keshuang, ‘you said you wanted revenge on the little brat. Shall we torture him, or kill him outright?’ ‘Yikes! Little brat-that has to be me!’ thought Trinket. ‘But what does Green want to be revenged on me for?’ ‘The very sight of him makes me mad!’ said Green, grinding her teeth. ‘Let’s just kill him and be done with it!’ There was a swishing sound as she drew her sword and advanced on Trinket.

瘦头陀、胖头陀、陆高轩、老叫化、李西华、张康年六人齐叫:“杀不得!”韦小宝道:“师姊,我可没……”阿珂怒道:“我已不是你师姊了!小鬼,你总是想法儿来害我、羞辱我!”提起剑来,向他胸口刺落。众人齐声惊呼,却见长剑反弹而出,原来韦小宝身上穿着护身宝衣,这一剑刺不进去。阿珂一怔之间,郑克塽道:“刺他眼睛!”阿珂道:“对!”提剑又即刺去。
‘Don’t kill him!’ cried a chorus consisting of the Two Dhutas, Doctor Lu, the Beggar, Li Xihua, and Zhang Kangnian. ‘Dearest sister’in’arms,’ pleaded Trinket. ‘What have I ever done-?’ ‘First, let’s get one thing straight’ I am not your sister’in’arms, you obnoxious little brat!’ snapped Green. ‘All you ever do is think of new ways of offending me, new ways of disgracing me. . . .’ She raised her sword and swung it with all her might at his chest. A cry of dismay rose from Trinket’s immobilized friends and supporters. But then to their utter amazement they saw the sword rebound. Trinket was wearing his magic waistcoat, and not even Green’s blade could get through that. She looked stunned. ‘Stab him in the eyes!’ cried her valiant paramour, Zheng Keshuang. ‘Good idea!’ She raised the sword again and this time lunged at his face.

屋角中突然窜出一人,扑在韦小宝身上,这一剑刺中那人肩头。那人抱住了韦小宝一个打滚,缩在屋角,随手抽出韦小宝身边匕首,拿在手中。这人穿的也是骁骑营军士的服色,身手敏捷,身材矮小,脸上都是泥污,瞧不清面貌。众人见他甘愿替韦小宝挡了一剑,均想:“这人倒忠心。”
Suddenly, a diminutive figure came hurtling from a darkened corner of the room. It wrapped itself protectively around Trinket and took the full impact of the oncoming blade directly on its shoulder. The figure then retreated with Trinket back into the comer of the room from which it had come, at the same time extracting Trinket’s dagger from his boot.It was a figure of slim build, clad in the uniform of the Valiants. The face was so heavily caked in mud that it was impossible to discern the features. Whoever it was, the spectators were deeply impressed by this act of blind devotion, and the skill with which it had been executed.

冯锡范抽出长剑,慢慢走过去,突然长剑一抖,散成数十朵剑花。忽听得叮的一声响,冯锡范手中长剑断成两截,那骁骑营军士的肩头血流如注。原来他以韦小宝的匕首削断了对方手中长剑,若不是匕首锋利无伦,只怕此时已送了性命。再加上先前郑克塽那一剑,他肩头连受两处剑伤。冯锡范脸色铁青,哼了一声,将断剑掷在地上,一时拿不定主意,是否要另行取剑,再施攻击。
Feng drew his sword again, and advanced slowly on Trinket and his little saviour. Then suddenly he began swinging the sword through the air, describing a blinding series of figures. A great clang rang out and, to his own (and everyone else’s) utter astonishment, the sword (Feng’s famous Bloodless Blade) snapped clean in two’ Trinket’s adamantine dagger had shattered it. At the same moment blood began spurting from the unknown Valiant’s shoulder.Feng Xifan’s cadaverous face darkened, and he grunted as he . threw the pieces of his broken weapon to the ground, and pondered his next move.

韦小宝叫道:“哈哈,一剑无血冯锡范,你把我手下一个小兵刺出了这许多血,你的外号可得改一改啦,该叫作‘半剑有血’冯锡范。”那骁骑营军士左手按住肩头伤口,右手在韦小宝胸口和后心穴道上一阵推拿,解开了他被封的穴道。胖瘦二头陀、陆高轩、李西华等于互相牵制之际骤然受袭,以致中了暗算,人人心中都十分不忿,听得韦小宝这么说,都哈哈大笑。那老叫化大声道:“半剑有血冯锡范,好极,好极!天下无耻之徒,阁下算是第二。”李西华道:“他为甚么算是第二?倒要请教。”老叫化道:“比之吴三桂,这位半剑有血的道行似乎还差着一点儿。”众人齐声大笑。李西华道:“依我看来,相差也是有限之至。”
Trinket laughed out loud.’Well, just take a look at the Bloodless Sword! No sword, and blood all over the place! Thanks to one of my junior officers. I think we’d better start calling you the Swordless Bloodbath!’The little Valiant was holding his left hand pressed to his own shoulder wound, while with his right hand he massaged Trinket’s chest and then the small of his back, and began releasing his points.The Beggar, Doctor Lu, the Two Dhutas, and Li Xihua all laughed heartily at Feng Xifan’s discomfiture.’I like it!’ bellowed the Beggar. ‘The Swordless Bloodbath! Suits the evil bastard exactly!’

冯锡范于自己武功向来十分自负,听众人如此耻笑,不禁气得全身发抖,此时若再换剑又攻那骁骑营军士,要伤他自是易如反掌,但于自己身份可太也不称,向那军士瞪眼说道:“你叫甚么名字?今日暂且不取你性命,下次撞在我手里,叫你死得惨不堪言。”那军士道:“我……我……”声音甚是娇嫩。韦小宝又惊又喜,叫道:“啊,你是双儿。我的宝贝好双儿!”伸手除下她头上帽子,长发散开,披了下来。韦小宝左手搂住她腰,说道:“她是我的小丫头。半剑有血,你连我一个小丫头也打不过,还胡吹甚么大气?”
Feng was shaking with rage and humiliation.’Who are you?’ he demanded of the Valiant. ‘I’ll let you live this once. I seem to have no choice. But I’m warning you, next time-”Who am I’ I’m… I’m just…’The Valiant’s voice seemed weak, almost effeminate. Trinket suddenly recognized the sound.’Why it’s you!’ he cried in delight. ‘Dear Doublet! My own dearest darling of a jewel of a Doublet!’ He removed her headgear at once, let down her hair, and wrapped his right arm around her. ‘She’s my maid,’ he said. ‘See, Swordless, you’ve been defeated by my maid. . . . Not much to brag about, eh?’

冯锡范怒极,左足一抬,砰嘭声响,将厅中赌台踢得飞了起来,连着台上的大批银两元宝,还有一个横卧在上的赵齐贤,激飞而上,撞向屋顶。银子、骨牌四散落下,摔向瘦头陀等人头上身上。各人纷纷大骂,冯锡范更不答话,转身走出。只见大门中并肩走进两个人来,冯锡范喝道:“让开!”双手一推。那二人各出一掌,和他手掌一抵,三人同时闷哼。那二人倒退数步,背心都在墙上重重一撞。冯锡范身子晃了晃,深深吸一口气,大踏步走了出去。
Feng, angrier than ever, kicked out his left foot and sent the gambling table flying up into the air, complete with the piles of money and the recumbent figure of Zhao Qixian. Cash and dominoes were scattered everywhere. Then Feng turned silently and made for the door. His exit was, however, blocked. Two men stood there grimly side by side in the doorway, two Triad brothers, the taciturn Feng Jizhong and the Taoist Father Obscurus. ‘Out of my way!’ he yelled, pulling them away from the doorway with both hands and crashing them into the wall. They both began spitting blood. Feng Xifan drew a deep breath and strode on out.

那二人哇的一声,同时喷出一大口鲜血,原来是风际中和玄贞道人。韦小宝快步过去,扶住了风际中,问玄贞道人:“道长,不要紧么?”玄贞咳了两声,说道:“不要紧,韦……韦大人,你没事?”韦小宝道:“还好。”转头向风际中瞧去。风际中点点头,勉强笑了笑。他武功远比玄贞为高,但适才对掌,接的是冯锡范的右掌,所受掌力强劲得多,因此受伤也比玄贞为重。李西华道:“韦兄弟,你骁骑营中的能人可真不少哪!”原来风际中和玄贞二人,穿的也是骁骑营军士的服色。韦小宝道:“惭愧,惭愧!”只听得脚步声响,钱老本、徐天川、马彦超三人又走了进来。阿珂眼见韦小宝的部属越来越多,向李自成和郑克塽使个眼色,便欲退走。李自成走到韦小宝身前,手中禅杖在地下重重一顿,厉声道:“大丈夫恩怨分明,那日你师父没杀我,今日我也饶你一命。自今而后,你再向我女儿看上一眼、说一句话,我把你全身砸成了肉酱。”
Trinket came over to check that the two men were not badly hurt. Brother Feng Jizhong had received a more serious injury than Obscurus, but he made light of it. Soon further Triad reinforcements arrived in the form of Butcher Qian, Apothecary Xu (the Eight’Armed Ape), and Gao Yanchao. Green glanced at Bash’em and Zheng Keshuang, indicating that it was time to beat a retreat. Bash’em walked over to Trinket and thumped the ground with his monk’s staff. ‘Since your Shifu spared my life the other day, I shall let you off today. It’s the honourable thing to do. But if you so much as look at my daughter ever again, or address a single word to her, I shall pound you into paste!’

韦小宝道:“大丈夫一言既出,那就怎样?那日在三圣庵里,你和你的姘头陈圆圆,已将阿珂许配我为妻,难道又想赖么?你不许我向自己老婆看上一眼,说一句话,天下哪有这样的岳父大人?”阿珂气得满脸通红,道:“爹,咱们走,别理这小子胡说八道!他……他狗嘴里长不出象牙,有甚么好话说了?”韦小宝道:“好啊,你终于认了他啦。这父母之命,你听是不听?”李自成大怒,举起禅杖,厉声喝道:“小杂种,你还不住口?”
‘Isn’t it the honourable thing to do, to keep your own promises’ On the very same day that my Shifu spared your life, you promised me your daughter in marriage. Remember’ It was a promise. It’s a pretty strange kind of father’in’law who won’t allow his son’in’law to even look at his own wife, or speak to her!’ Green was red with fury. ‘Father, let’s go. Don’t listen to that brat!’ ‘Excellent!’ chipped in Trinket. ‘So you’ve finally accepted that he is your father. About time too. . . . Well, are you going to obey Daddy’s orders?’ Bash’em Li raised his staff angrily into the air. ‘Shut your mouth, you misbegotten toad!’

钱老本和徐天川同时纵上,双刀齐向李自成后心砍去。李自成回过禅杖,当的一声,架开了两柄钢刀。马彦超已拔刀横胸,挡在韦小宝身前,喝道:“李自成,在昆明城里,你父女的性命是谁救的?忘恩负义,好不要脸!”李自成当年横行天下,开国称帝,举世无人不知。马彦超一喝出他姓名,厅中老叫化、瘦头陀等人都出声惊呼。
At this, Butcher Qian and Apothecary Xu, who were standing behind Bash’em, launched a joint attack. Bash’em swivelled round and blocked both their swords with his staff. There was a resounding clang. Meanwhile Brother Gao had drawn his sword and was standing guard over Trinket.’Li Zicheng!’ Gao cried. ‘Who was it saved your life and your daughter’s in Kunming’ You are an ungrateful, wicked old man!’The others present had all heard of the great bandit General Li Zicheng, the man who some twenty years earlier had succeeded in taking Peking and proclaiming himself Emperor of China-even if it was only for a matter of days. But everyone believed him to be dead. They were amazed to hear his name spoken now.

李西华大声道:“你……你便是李自成?你居然还没死?好,好,好!”语音之中充满愤激之情。李自成向他瞪了一眼,道:“怎样?你是谁?”李西华怒道:“我恨不得食你之肉,寝你之皮。我只道你早已死了,老天爷有眼,好极。”李自成哼了一声,冷笑道:“老子一生杀人如麻。天下不知有几十万、几百万人要杀我报仇,老子还不是好端端的活着?你想报仇,未必有这么容易。”阿珂拉了他衣袖,低声道:“爹,咱们走罢。”
‘You’ Li Zicheng?’ cried the young Li Xihua aghast. ‘You mean to say you’re still alive! My prayers have been answered!’There was a strange intensity in the way he said this, a tone of deep bitterness. Li Zicheng stared at him for a moment, a puzzled expression on his face.’And who are you?”Me’ I am the man who is going to eat your flesh, you foul monster!’ cried young Li, his voice trembling with rage. ‘I thought you were dead and beyond my grasp. But Heaven has granted me my dearest wish!’Bash’em grunted and gave a bitter laugh.’Many’s the man that bears me a grudge. I’ve killed hundreds of thousands in my time. But if you really want revenge, you’ll have to fight for it!’Green tugged him by the shoulder.’Come on, father, let’s go.’

李自成将禅杖在地下一顿,转身出门。阿珂和郑克塽跟了出去。李西华叫道:“李自成,明日此刻,我在这里相候,你如是英雄好汉,就来跟我单打独斗,拚个死活。你有没胆子?”李自成回头望了他一眼,脸上尽是鄙夷之色,说道:“老子纵横天下之时,你这小子未出娘胎。李某是不是英雄好汉,用不着阁下定论。”禅杖一顿,走了出去。众人相顾默然,均觉他这几句大是有理。李自成杀人如麻,世人毁多誉少,但他是个敢作敢为的英雄好汉,纵是对他恨之切骨的人,也难否认。此时他年纪已老,然顾盼之际仍是神威凛凛,厅人众人大都武功不弱,久历江湖,给他眼光一扫,仍不自禁的暗生惧意。
Bash’em thumped his staff on the ground once more, turned on his heel, and strode out, followed by Green and Zheng Keshuang.’I shall be here tomorrow at this hour!’ Li Xihua called after him. ‘I’ll be waiting for you! If you’ve any courage, if you’re a true man, you’ll come and fight!’Nobody present had the slightest doubt that Bash’em Li was a true man, and a man of enormous courage. Despite his great age, he was still a fighter to be reckoned with. He was a living legend. One glance from him was sufficient to strike terror into the heart of most mortals.

Beggar, Meatball, and other Combatants

韦小宝骂道:“他妈的,你明明已把女儿许配了给我做老婆,这时又来抵赖,我偏偏说你是狗熊,英个屁雄。”见双儿撕下了衣襟,正在裹扎肩头伤口,便助她包扎,问道:“好双儿,你怎么来了?幸亏你凑巧来救了我,否则的话,我这老婆谋杀亲夫,已刺瞎了我的眼睛。”双儿低声道:“不是凑巧,我一直跟在相公身边,只不过你不知道罢了。”韦小宝大奇,连问:“你一直在我身边?那怎么会?”瘦头陀叫道:“喂,快把我穴道解开,快拿解药出来,否则的话,哼哼,老子立刻就把你脑袋砸个稀巴烂!”
‘Tamardy!’ grumbled Trinket, when Bash’em had left. ‘You promised me your daughter, old man! Go back on your word, and ‘ say you’re no true man’ you’re no more than a dog’s fart!’ He helped Doublet, who was bandaging her shoulder wound. ‘Thank heavens you came to my rescue, dear Doublet’ he said. ‘It was a real stroke of luck.’ ‘It wasn’t anything to do with luck,’ protested Doublet touchingly. ‘I’ve never been far away. You just didn’t know I was there.’ ‘How come?’ Trinket was quite taken aback. But before Doublet could explain, there was a strangled cry from Thin Dhuta. ‘Undo my points! Get me some Antidote! Or I’ll smash your poxy little brain to bits!’

突然之间,大厅中爆出一声哈哈、呵呵、嘿嘿、嘻嘻的笑声。韦小宝的部属不断到来,而这极矮奇胖的家伙穴道被封,动弹不得,居然还口出恐吓之言,人人都觉好笑。瘦头陀怒道:“你们笑甚么?有甚么好笑?待会等我穴道解了,他如仍是不给解药,瞧我不砸他个稀巴烂。”钱老本提起单刀,笑嘻嘻的走过去,说道:“此刻我如在你头上砍他妈的三刀,老兄的脑袋开不开花?”瘦头陀怒道:“那还用多问?自然开花!”钱老本笑道:“乘着你穴道还没解开,我先把你砸个稀巴烂,免得你待会穴道解开了,把我主人砸了个稀巴烂。”众人一听,又都哄笑。瘦头陀怒道:“我的穴道又不是你点的。你把我砸个稀巴烂,不算英雄。”钱老本笑道:“不算就不算,我本来就不是英雄。”说着提起刀来。胖头陀叫道:“韦……韦大人,我师哥无礼冒犯,请你原谅,属下代为陪罪。师哥,你快陪罪,韦大人也是你上司,难道你不知么?”他头颈不能转动,分别对韦小宝和瘦头陀说话,无法正视其人。瘦头陀道:“他如给我解药,别说陪罪,磕头也可以,给他做牛做马也可以。不给解药,就把他脑袋瓜儿砸个稀巴烂。”
The strange noise he was making, his wild, empty threats, and the altogether sorry spectacle he presented, stuck there on the ground, incapable of any movement except a ridiculous rocking backwards and forwards, like a fat wobbly little ball, provoked a burst of hilarious laughter. Fat Dhuta (who was also still immobilized) begged Trinket to forgive his brother’in’arms for his rudeness. But Thin Dhuta wasn’t having any of it. ‘First he undoes my points and gives me some Antidote; then I’ll be polite, then I’ll do anything-I’ll go down on my hands and knees and kowtow to him! But if he doesn’t do the right thing, I’ll smash his ugly little face in!’

韦小宝心想:“那老婊子有甚么好,你竟对她这般有恩有义?”正要说话,忽见那乡农双手一抖,从人丛中走了出来,说道:“各位,兄弟失陪了。”众人都吃了一惊,八人被冯锡范点中要穴,除了韦小宝已由双儿推拿解开,余下七人始终动弹不得。那冯锡范内力透过剑尖入穴,甚是厉害,武功再高之人,也至少有一两个时辰不能行动。这乡农模样之人宛如个乡下土老儿,虽然他适才推牌九之时,按牌入桌,印出牌痕,已显了一手高深内功,但在这短短一段时候之间竟能自解穴道,实是罕见罕闻。只见他拖着鞋皮,踢跶踢跶的走了出去。韦小宝对钱老本道:“解了自己兄弟的穴道,这位李……李先生,也是自己人。”说着向李西华一指。钱老本应道:“是。”还刀入鞘,正要替李西华解穴。
Trinket was lost in thought, wondering why Meatball was so devoted to the Old Whore, why he was going to such lengths to get her the Antidote, when all of a sudden the surly Peasant rose to his feet, waved both his hands in the air and walked out of the room, dragging his slippers noisily along the ground and bidding them all farewell. They were amazed. None of them could understand how he had managed to regain mobility. Doublet had succeeded in opening Trinket’s points by dint of some skilful and energetic massaging. But all the others were still frozen from Feng Xifan’s devilish kungfu. Such was the power of Feng’s Inner Force that he was able to immobilize an opponent’s Vital Points by merely touching him with the tip of his sword. He projected the force down the shaft of the blade and into his opponent’s body. The ensuing paralysis usually lasted for several hours. And yet the old Peasant had apparently shaken it off in a few moments. He must have had some extraordinary knack (in addition to his knack for cheating at dominoes).

那老叫化忽道:“明复清反,母地父天。”钱老本“啊”了一声。徐天川抢上前去,在那老叫化后心穴道上推拿了几下,转到他面前,双手两根拇指对着他面前一弯。天地会兄弟人数众多,难以遍识,初会之人,常以“天父地母,反清复明”八字作为同会记认。但若有外人在旁,不愿泄漏了机密,往往便将这八字倒转来说,外人骤听之下,自是莫名其妙。徐天川向那老叫化屈指行礼,也是一项不让外人得知的礼节。钱徐二人跟着给李西华、胖头陀、陆高轩三人解开了穴道。只余下瘦头陀一人坐在地下,满脸胀得通红,喝道:“师弟,还不给我解穴?他妈的,还等甚么?”
No sooner had he left the room, than the Beggar suddenly exclaimed”By Brother my Earth and Sister my Heaven, I shall underthrow the Tartars and destroy the Ming!’This piece of nonsense was in fact a conventional distortion of the Triad password, for use in delicate first encounters, where outsiders might be present. Brother Qian was at first somewhat taken aback to hear these words from the Beggar’s mouth; but then he went on to exchange a number of secret signs with him, which confirmed that he was indeed one of the Brotherhood.Butcher Qian and Apothecary Xu went on to open everyone’s points, except for Thin Dhuta, who was still stranded on the ground, rocking and red in the face.’Come on! What are you waiting for? Undo me!’

胖头陀道:“解穴不难,你可不得再对韦大人无礼。”瘦头陀怒道:“谁教他不给解药?是他得罪我,又不是我得罪他!他给了解药,就算是向我赔罪,老子不咎既往,也就是了。”胖头陀踌躇道:“这个就为难得很了。”老叫化喝道:“你这矮胖子罗唆个没完没了,别说韦兄弟不给解药,就算他要给,我也要劝他不给。”右手一指,嗤的一声,一股劲风向瘦头陀射去,跟着又是两指,嗤嗤连声,瘦头陀身上穴道登时解开。突见一个大肉球从地下弹了起来,疾扑韦小宝。
‘Only if you promise to be respectful to Mr Wei!’ ‘But it’s his fault. Why can’t he just give me the Antidote?’ The old Beggar seemed to lose his patience, and with a click of his fingers he proceeded to release Thin Dhuta’s points. Before anyone could draw breath, the Ball shot towards Trinket.

老叫化呼的一掌,击了出去,瘦头陀身在半空,还了一掌,身子弹起,他武功也当真了得,凌空下扑,双掌向老叫化头顶击落。老叫化左足飞出,踢向他后腰。瘦头陀又即挥掌拍落,掌力与对方腿力相激,一个肥大的身子又飞了起来。他身在空中,宛似个大皮球,老叫化掌拍足踢,始终打不中他一招。别瞧这矮胖子模样苯拙可笑,出手竟灵活之极,足不着地,更加圆转如意。李西华和天地会群雄都算见多识广,但瘦头陀这般古怪打法,却也是生平未见。胖头陀和陆高轩全神贯注,瞧着老叫化出手,眼见他每一招都是劲力凌厉,瘦头陀一个二百多斤的身躯,全凭借着老叫化的力道,才得在空中飞舞不落。两人越斗越紧,拳风掌力逼得旁观众人都背靠墙壁。忽听得瘦头陀怪声大喝,一招“五丁开山”,左掌先发,右拳随下,向着老叫化头顶击落。老叫化喝道:“来得好!”蹲下身子,使一招“天王托塔”,迎击而上。两股巨力相撞,瘦头陀腾身而起,背脊冲上横梁,只听喀喇喇一阵响,屋顶上瓦片和泥尘乱落,大厅中灰沙飞扬。
The Beggar tried to intervene, but Thin Dhuta countered with some highly unconventional, and unbeatable, kungfu moves of his own devising. The Beggar used his left foot, but Thin Dhuta countered with his hand. And when he moved through the air, Thin Dhuta had all the speed and manoeuvrability of a football. None of them had ever seen anything remotely resembling this weird style of full’body ball kungfu.The fight between Thin Dhuta and the Beggar became quite a spectacle, with the little fat man ricocheting off the ceiling and bringing down an avalanche of broken tiles and dust.

瘦头陀又已扑击而下,老叫化缩身避开。瘦头陀一扑落空,砰的一声,重重落在地下。老叫化哈哈大笑,笑声未绝,瘦头陀又已弹起,迅捷无伦的将一个大脑袋当胸撞来。眼见他这一撞势道甚是威猛,老叫化侧身避过,右掌已落在他屁股上,内劲吐出,大喝一声。瘦头陀的撞力本已十分厉害,再加上老叫化的内劲,两股力道并在一起,眼见瘦头陀急飞而出,脑袋撞向墙壁,势非脑浆迸裂不可。众人惊叫声中,胖头陀抓起一名缩在一旁的赌场伙计,掷了出去,及时挡在墙上,波的一声,瘦头陀的头颅撞入他胸腹之间,一颗大脑袋钻入了那伙计的肚皮,嵌入墙壁,撞出了一个大洞。他摇摇晃晃的站起身来,一颗肥脑袋上一塌胡涂,沾满了那伙计的血肉。他双手在脸上一阵乱抹,怒骂:“他妈的,这是甚么玩意?”众人无不骇然。
Finally Thin Dhuta came hurtling forwards, head down and with all his might, and when the Beggar stepped nimbly aside, he looked set to collide with the wall and spill his brains. At the very last moment, Fat Dhuta grabbed hold of one of the gambling den attendants who was crouching huddled up in a corner of the room, and hurled him between the wall and the oncoming human missile. The impactwas such that Thin Dhuta’s head went clean through the poor man’s chest and embedded itself in the wall, creating a large dent in the masonry. ‘What the tamardy hell is going on?’ cried Thin Dhuta, staggering to his feet and wiping the waiter’s blood and guts from his own puffy face.

老叫化喝道:“还打不打?”瘦头陀道:“当年我身材高大之时,你打我不赢。”老叫化道:“现今呢?”瘦头陀摇头道:“现今我打你不赢,罢了,罢了!”忽地跃起,向墙壁猛撞过去,轰隆一声响,墙上穿了个大洞,连着那伙计的尸身一齐穿了出去。胖头陀叫道:“师哥,师哥!”飞跃出洞。陆高轩道:“韦大人,我去瞧瞧。”脚前头后,身子平飞,从洞中跃出,双手兀自抱拳向韦小宝行礼,姿式美妙。众人齐声喝采。徐天川、钱老本等均想:“韦香主从哪里收了这两位部属来,武功竟如此了得?比之我们高出十倍。”李西华拱手道:“少陪了。”从大门中快步走出。韦小宝向老叫化拱手道:“这位兄台,让他们走了罢?”说着向赵齐贤等一指。老叫化呵呵笑道:“多有得罪。”随手拉起赵齐贤等人,也不见他推宫解穴,只一抓之间,已解了几名侍卫的穴道。韦小宝道:“多谢。”吩咐赵齐贤、张康年先行回去。
‘Still want a fight?’ asked the Beggar, as they all looked on aghast. ‘You’d never have been a match for me in the old days, when I was still tall!’ He shook his head sadly. ‘But the way I am now-‘ So saying, he charged once more at the wall, and this time he went clean through it, carrying bits of the dead waiter with him. Fat Dhuta went flying after him, followed by Doctor Lu, who dived head first through the hole in the wall, but managed as he did so to bid a polite farewell with clasped hands-a piece of balletic kungfu that evinced gasps of admiration all round. Butcher Qian and the Triads were wondering to themselves where on earth their Lodge Master had picked up these weird associates, with their eccentric kungfu prowess. Li Xihua for his part politely clasped his hands and took his leave, through the main doorway. The Beggar released the points of the various guards, and Trinket led them away. Triad Talk

徐天川向双儿瞧了一眼,问道:“这姑娘是韦香主的心腹之人?”韦小宝道:“是,咱们甚么事都不必瞒她。”老叫化道:“这位姑娘年纪虽小,一副忠肝义胆,人所难及。刚才若不是她奋不顾身,忠心护主,韦兄弟的一双眼珠已不保了。”韦小宝拉着双儿的手,道:“对,对,幸亏是她救了我。”双儿听两人当众称赞自己,羞得满脸通红,低下了头,不敢和众人目光相接。徐天川走上一步,对老叫化朗声说道:“五人分开一首诗,身上洪英无人知。”
Apothecary Xu glanced doubtfully at Doublet, and asked’ ‘Is she to be trusted?’ ‘We need have no secrets from her’ replied Trinket. ‘She’s a brave and devoted young lady,’ added the Beggar. ‘I think you owe her your eyes, Brother Wei.’ Trinket took Doublet by the hand. ‘I’m very grateful to her.’ At these words of praise, Doublet blushed and hung her head in confusion. Apothecary Xu took a step towards the Beggar and began declaiming’ ‘It’s in the lines of verses shared, That our allegiance is declared.

老叫化道:“自此传得众兄弟,后来相认团圆时。”韦小宝初入天地会时,会中兄弟相认的各种仪节切口,已有人传授了他,念熟记住。这些句子甚是俚俗,文义似通非通,天地会兄弟多是江湖汉子,倒有一大半人和他一般目不识丁,切口句子若是深奥了,会众兄弟如何记得?这时听那老叫化念了相认的诗句,便接着念道:“初进洪门结义兄,当天明誓表真心。”老叫化念道:“松柏二枝分左右,中节洪花结义亭。”韦小宝道:“忠义堂前兄弟在,城中点将百万兵。”老叫化道:“福德祠前来誓愿,反清复明我洪英。”韦小宝道:“兄弟韦小宝,现任青木堂香主,请问兄长高姓大名,身属何堂,担任何职。”老叫化道:“兄弟吴六奇,现任洪顺堂红旗香主。今日和韦香主及众家兄弟相会,十分欢喜。”
To which the Beggar promptly replied’ And in that sharing of the word Is known our bond of brotherhood. Trinket had been taught some of these jingles when he first joined the Triad fraternity. They were supposed to be easy to memorize, for the simple reason that most Triads were uneducated folk, and could read and write about as much (or as little) as he could. He himself was even able to provide the appropriate response to the Beggar’s lines’ One thing unites the brothers’ band’ An oath of trust throughout the land. To which the Beggar finally replied’ Before the tablets of our ancestors I vow, That we the Brethren of Hong will overthrow The Tartar foe, And restore the Ming. ‘Allow me to present myself,’ said Trinket. ‘Lodge Master Wei of the Green Wood Lodge. May I know the Brother’s affiliation?’ ‘Red Banner Master Wu Liuqi of the Obedience Lodge of Guangdong,’ came the reply. ‘It is my great pleasure to be with the Brothers today.’

众人听得这人竟然便是天下闻名的“铁丐”吴六奇,都是又惊又喜,一齐恭敬行礼。徐天川等各通姓名,说了许多仰慕的话。吴六奇官居广东提督,手握一省重兵,当年受了查伊璜的劝导,心存反清复明之志,暗中入了天地会,任职洪顺堂红旗香主。天地会对这“洪”字甚是注重。一来明太祖的年号是“洪武”,二来这“洪”字是“汉”字少了个“土”字,意思说我汉人失了土地,为胡虏所占,会中兄弟自称“洪英”,意谓不忘前本、决心光复旧土。红旗香主并非正职香主,也不统率本堂兄弟,但位在正职香主之上,是会中十分尊崇的职份,仅次于总舵主而已。吴六奇是天地会中红旗香主一事,甚是隐秘,连徐天川、钱老本等人也均不知。
They were totally amazed and absolutely delighted to discover that this man was none other than the famous Beggar General, Wu Liuqi, who had been doing heroic work for the Resistance under the cloak of his official position as Military Governor in the service of the Tartar Throne. As readers will remember,* Wu’s innate sense of patriotism had been greatly strengthened by his encounter in the snow with the generous Loyalist scholar Zha Yihuang, at a time when he had himself been thrown out of the Beggars Guild and was very much down on his luck. It was as a result of that encounter that Wu had secretly entered the Triad organization. His current position as a Red Banner Master was technically superior to that of (See the Prologue of the First Book) the regular Lodge Master of the Guangdong Provincial Lodge. His elevated Triad ranking was second only to that of the Helmsman himself. But of these details, rank and file Triad members such as Butcher Qian and Apothecary Xu would have been quite unaware. They just knew of him as a hero in their cause.

吴六奇拉着韦小宝的手,笑道:“韦香主,你去云南干事,对付大汉奸吴三桂。总舵主传下号令,命我广东、广西、云南、贵州四省兄弟相机接应。我一接到号令,便派出了十名得力兄弟,到云南暗中相助。不过韦香主处置得当,青木堂众位兄弟才干了得,诸事化险为夷,我们洪顺堂帮不上甚么忙。前几天听说韦香主和众位兄弟来到广西,兄弟便化装前来,跟各位聚会。”
‘Lodge Master Wei’ continued Wu, ‘your exploits in Kunming have earned our highest respect and admiration. You did well to teach that Traitor a lesson. The Helmsman has issued orders to the Brothers of the Four Southern Provinces-Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan-to offer you what assistance they can. I had news that you were here in Guangxi, so made my way hither.’

韦小宝喜道:“原来如此。我恩师他老人家如此照应,吴香主一番好意,做兄弟的实在感激不尽。吴香主大名,四海无不知闻,原来是会中兄弟,那真是刮刮叫,别别跳,乖乖不得了。”其实吴六奇的名字,他今日还是第一次听见,见徐天川等人肃然起敬,喜形于色,便顺口加上几句。吴六奇笑道:“韦兄弟手刃大奸臣鳌拜,那才叫四海无不知闻呢。大伙儿是自己兄弟,客气话也不用说了。我得罪了韦兄弟属下的侍卫,才请得你到来,还请勿怪。”
‘I deeply appreciate my Shifu the Helmsman’s concern’ replied Trinket. ‘And all the Brothers know of your great renown, sir.’ In actual fact this was the first time that Trinket himself had ever heard of Wu. But he could see that the others were deeply impressed, and thought he’d better say something appropriately reverent. ‘It is your great renown, Brother Wei, that has reached my ears-on account of your heroic act in killing the wicked Tartar strongman Oboi! But come, between Brothers there is no need for all this formality. Please accept my apologies for having mistreated your guards. At least it had the effect of bringing you here so that I could meet you in person.’

韦小宝笑道:“他奶奶的,这些家伙狗皮倒灶,输了钱就混赖。吴大哥给他们吃点儿苦头,教训教训,教他们以后赌起钱来规规矩矩。兄弟还得多谢你呢。”吴六奇哈哈大笑。众人坐了下来,吴六奇问起云南之事,韦小宝简略说了。吴六奇听说已拿到吴三桂要造反的真凭实据,心中大喜,没口子的称赞,说道:“这奸贼起兵造反,定要打到广东,这一次要跟他大干一场。待得打垮了这奸贼,咱们再回师北上,打上北京。”
Trinket laughed. ‘They were behaving like gutter’dogs- losing, and refusing to pay their debts. They deserved to be taught a lesson. I should thank you.’ Wu laughed out loud. The two of them went on to talk about events in Yunnan, and the fact that Trinket had uncovered incontrovertible proof of the Satrap’s planned rebellion. ‘Let him strike first at Guangdong!’ declared Wu. ‘We’ll put paid to him and then carry the struggle north to Peking!’

说话之间,家后堂香主马超兴也已得讯赶到,和吴六奇相见,自有一番亲热。谈到刚才赌场中的种种情事,吴六奇破口大骂冯锡范,说他暗施偷袭,阴险卑鄙,定要跟他好好的打上一架。韦小宝说到冯锡范在北京要杀陈近南之事。吴六奇伸手在赌台上重重一拍,说道:“如此说来,咱们便在这里干了他,一来给关夫子报仇,二来给总舵主除去一个心腹大患,三来也可一雪今日给他暗算的耻辱。”他一生罕遇敌手,这次竟给冯锡范制住了动弹不得,实是气愤无比。马超兴道:“李自成是害死崇祯天子的大反贼,既是到了柳州,咱们可也不能轻易放过了。”天地会忠于明室,崇祯为李自成所逼,吊死煤山,天地会自也以李自成为敌。韦小宝道:“台湾郑家打的是大明旗号,郑克塽这小子却去跟李自成做一路,那么他也成了反贼,咱们一不做,二不休,连他一起干了。更给总舵主除去了一个心腹大患。”众人面面相觑,均不接口。天地会是台湾郑氏的部属,不妨杀了冯锡范,却不能杀郑二公子。何况众人心下雪亮,韦小宝要杀郑克塽,九成九是假公济私。
But his immediate desire for action was aimed at Feng Xifan, whose recent behaviour had considerably upset him. He was not used to having his points closed like that. And when he heard from Trinket about Feng’s encounter with the Helmsman, and the slaying of Brother Guan, his passions were truly roused. Presently Lodge Master Ma arrived, and greeted Wu. Ma insisted that they deal with Li Zicheng. It was Bash’em after all who was responsible for the death of the last Ming Emperor Chong Zhen. To this Trinket added that if Li was a traitor, then so was young Zheng Keshuang’ they should deal with him too, and thus doubly avenge the Helmsman. This raised a few eyebrows. After all, strictly speaking, Zheng Keshuang was the grandson of Coxinga, and the Triads therefore owed him allegiance. Killing the Bloodless Sword was one thing; killing Zheng was quite another. Besides, the Triads knew only too well that Trinket had purely personal reasons for wanting Zheng out of the way.

吴六奇岔开话头,问起胖瘦二头陀等人的来历,韦小宝含糊以应,只说胖头陀和陆高轩二人是江湖上的朋友,自己于二人有恩,因此二人对自己甚是忠心。吴六奇对那自行解穴的乡下老头甚是佩服,说道:“兄弟生平极少服人,这位仁兄的武功高明之极,兄弟自愧不如。武林中有如此功夫的人寥寥可数,怎么想来想去,想不出是谁。”众人议论了一会。马超兴派出本堂兄弟,去查访李自成、冯锡范等人落脚的所在,一面给风际中、玄贞、双儿三人治伤。
Wu changed the subject, and asked for some information on the Two Dhutas. Trinket (who for obvious reasons could not go into their real background as members of the Mystic Dragon Sect) succeeded in passing them off vaguely as a couple of River and Lake characters who had somehow become attached to him. Wu went on to enquire about the morose Peasant, whose skills in unblocking points had deeply impressed him. Who was he’ There was an inconclusive discussion on this point, after which Lodge Master Ma sent men out to ascertain Feng Xifan and Li Zicheng’s current whereabouts, and saw to it that Feng Jizhong, Father Obscurus, and Doublet’s wounds were given proper attention.

韦小宝问起双儿如何一路跟随着自己。原来她在五台山上和韦小宝失散后,到处寻找,后来向清凉寺的和尚打听到已回了北京,于是跟着来到北京,韦小宝派去向她传讯的人,自然便没遇上。那时韦小宝却又已南下,当即随后追来,未出河北省境便已追上。她小孩儿家心中另有念头,担心韦小宝做了鞑子的大官,不再要自己服侍了,不敢出来相认,偷了一套骁骑营军士的衣服穿了,混在骁骑营之中,一直随到云南、广西。直到赌场中遇险,阿珂要刺伤韦小宝眼睛,这才挺身相救。韦小宝心中感激,搂住了他,往她脸颊上轻轻一吻,笑道:“傻丫头,我怎会不要你服侍?我一辈子都要你服侍,除非你自己不愿意服侍我了,想去嫁人了。”双儿又是欢喜,又是害羞,满脸通红,道:“不,不,我……我不会去嫁人的。”
Trinket put his arm around Doublet, and gave her a little kiss on the cheek. It was so like her to have followed him in secret all this way, dressed as a Valiant, and to have rescued him so bravely in his most desperate hour of need. He asked her why she had never shown herself to him before. She replied shyly’ ‘I was worried that since you’d become such an important person you might not want me any more as your maid-‘ ‘Silly girl! I’ll always want you as my maid. Until the day comes when you want to go off and get married.’ Doublet blushed. ‘That day will never come!’

The Log Rafts

当晚马超兴在柳州一家妓院内排设筵席,替吴六奇接风。饮酒之际,会中兄弟来报,说道已查到李自成一行人的踪迹,是在柳江中一所木排小屋之中。柳州盛产木材,柳州棺材,天下驰名。是以有“住在苏州,着在杭州,吃在广州,死在柳州”之谚。木材扎成木排,由柳江东下。柳江中木排不计其数,在排屋之中隐身,确是人所难知,若非天地会在当地人多势众,只怕也无法查到。
That evening Lodge Master Ma threw a big party in Wu’s honour, in one of Liuzhou’s best singsong’houses. As they were drinking, the Triad scouts returned to report that Li Zicheng’s party had been located on one of the log rafts on the River Liu. Liuzhou is famous for its timber, and most especially for its high quality coffin boards. Hence the popular saying: Live in Suzhou (famous for gardens and pretty women); Trade in Hangzhou (famous for silk and other items of luxury); Eat in Canton (famous for dim’sum and exotic dishes); Die in Liuzhou (famous for coffins). The logs from which the coffin boards were to be cut were tied together, made into rafts, and floated east down the Liu River. There were countless such rafts on the river, with cabins built on top of them, and Li and his companions must have reckoned it would be a smart move to hide in one of them. But they had not reckoned on the excellent network of Triad informers in the province.

吴六奇拍案而起,说道:“咱们快去,酒也不用喝了。”马超兴道:“此刻天色尚早,两位且慢慢喝酒。待兄弟先布置一下,可莫让他们走了。”出去吩咐部属行事。待到二更天时,马超兴领带众人来到柳江江畔,上了两艘小船。三位香主同坐一船。小船船夫不用吩咐,自行划出,随后有七八艘小船远远跟来,在江上划出约莫七八里地,小船便即停了。一名船夫钻进舱来,低声道:“禀告三位香主:点子就在对面木排上。”
Wu thumped the table. ‘Let’s waste no time! No more drinking tonight!’ ‘ .! Lodge Master Ma begged him to stay a while longer and drink, while he made some preparations. In the early hours of the morning, before sunrise, Ma led them all out to the banks of the Liu River. There were two light river craft waiting for them. The three Lodge Masters-Ma, Wu, and Trinket-took their seats in the cabin of one of the boats. The skipper set off, followed at a discreet distance by a little flotilla of seven or eight smaller boats. They travelled two or three miles down river, then came to a halt. A boatman appeared in the cabin and informed them that their ‘target’ was on the raft immediately ahead of them.

韦小宝从船篷中望出去,只见木排上一间小屋,透出一星黄光,江面上东一艘、西一艘尽是小船,不下三四十艘。马超兴低声道:“这些小船,都是我们的。”韦小宝大喜,心想一艘船中若有十人,便有三四百人,李自成和冯锡范再厉害,还能逃上了天去?
Trinket looked out through the matting that formed the wall of their cabin, and saw another little cabin’type structure atop one of the log rafts, and within it he caught a familiar flash of steel. The water all around them was completely clogged up with thirty or forty small boats. They’re all ours,’ whispered Ma. Trinket was reassured to hear this. If each boat held ten men, that meant they were several hundred against Li and Feng. They surely had them cornered now.

便在此时,忽听得有人沿着江岸,一边飞奔,一边呼叫:“李自成……李自成……你缩头缩脑,躲在哪里……李自成,有没有胆子出来……李自成……”却是李西华的声音。木排上小屋中有人大声喝道:“谁在这里大呼小叫?”江岸上一条黑影纵身飞跃,上了木排,手中长剑在冷月下发出闪闪光芒。排上小屋中钻出一个人来,手持禅杖,正是李自成,冷冷的道:“你活得不耐烦了,要老子送你小命,是不是?”李西华道:“今日取你性命,就怕你死了,也还是个胡涂鬼。你可知我是谁?”
At that very moment, they heard a voice from the river-bank yelling across the water: ‘Li Zicheng … Li Zicheng . . . Do you hear me’ Come on out! I know you’re in there!’ In the darkness, they could just make out a figure hurtling along the bank towards them. It looked like Li Xihua. A voice boomed back from the little cabin on the raft ahead. ‘Who’s that out there?’The man on the bank leapt aboard the raft, and in the moonlight there was a chilly flash of steel as Li Xihua brandished his sword. Li Zicheng emerged from the cabin with his great monk’s staff.’Come to meet your death, eh’ Bored with life?”You’re the one who’s going to die today!’ declared Li Xihua fiercely. ‘But even when you’re dead, we’ll still have to put up with your vile ghost. . . . Do you know who I am?’

李自成道:“李某杀人过百万,哪能一一问姓名。上来罢。”这“上来罢”三字,宛如半空中打个霹雳,在江上远远传了出去,呼喝一声,挥杖便向李西华打去。李西华侧身避开,长剑贴住杖身,跃起身来,剑尖凌空下刺。李自成挺杖向空戳去。李西华身在半空,无从闪避,左足在杖头一点,借力一个筋斗翻出,落下时单足踏在木排边上。吴六奇道:“划近去瞧个清楚。”船夫扳桨划前。马超兴道:“有人来纠缠他一下,咱们正好行事。”向船头一名船夫道:“发下号令。”
‘How could I possibly know’ I have sent millions to their deaths. Come closer!’The words were boomed out like a challenge into the darkness. Bash’em swung his great staff through the night air. Li Xihua dodged the blow, blocking the staff with his long sword. Then he leapt into the air, bringing the point of his sword down towards Bash’em, who parried with his staff, throwing Li Xihua off balance. He tumbled backwards, landing with one foot on the edge of the raft.’Steer closer’ Wu ordered the boatman. ‘I want to see more clearly.’The boatman punted the boat forwards. Ma spoke to one of the other men on board.’Give the signal! Distract them while we make our move!’

那船夫道:“是。”从舱中取一盏红色灯笼,挂在桅杆上,便见四处小船中都有人溜入江中。韦小宝大喜,连叫:“妙极,妙极!”他武功不成,于单打独斗无甚兴趣,这时以数百之众围攻对方两人,稳操胜券,正是投其所好,何况眼见己方会众精通水性,只须钻到木排底下,割断排上竹索,木排散开,对方还不手到擒来?一想到木排散开,忙道:“马大哥,那边小屋中有个姑娘,是兄弟未过门的老婆,可不能让她在江里淹死了。”马超兴笑道:“韦兄弟放心,我已早有安排。下水的兄弟之中,有十个专管救你这位夫人。这十个兄弟一等一水性,便是一条活鱼也捉上来了,包管没岔子。”韦小宝喜道:“那好极了。”心想:“最好是淹死了那郑克塽。”但要马超兴下令不救郑克塽,这句话终究说不出口。小船慢慢划近,只见木排上一团黑气、一道白光,盘旋飞舞,斗得甚紧。吴六奇摇头道:“李自成没练过上乘武功,全仗膂力支持,不出三十招,便会死在这李西华剑下。想不到他一代枭雄,竟会毕命于柳江之上。”韦小宝看不清两人相斗的情形,只是见到李自成退了一步,又是一步。
The man promptly hoisted a red lantern on the mast. At this signal, boats from all sides converged towards midstream, and one after another men could be seen diving into the water.As their boat approached the raft, they could still make out the two figures fighting’ intermittent shadows and flashes of steel.’Bash’em is not a skilful fighter,’ commented Ma. ‘He relies entirely on brute force, and on that great staff of his. It’s only a matter of time before Li Xihua has him lying dead.’Trinket could see that Bash’em was gradually being pushed back. Then he heard Green’s voice from within the cabin.

忽听得小屋中阿珂说道:“郑公子,快请冯师父帮我爹爹。”郑克塽道:“好。师父,请你把这小子打发了罢!”小屋板门开处,冯锡范仗剑而出。这时李自成已被逼得退到排边,只须再退一步,便踏入了江中。冯锡范喝道:“喂,小子,我刺你背心‘灵台穴’了。”长剑缓缓刺出,果然是刺向李西华的“灵台穴”。李西华正要回剑挡架,突然间小屋顶上有人喝道:“喂,小子,我刺你背心‘灵台穴’了!”白光一闪,一人如飞鸟般扑将下来,手中兵刃疾刺冯锡范后心。
‘Quick, Keshuang! Ask your Master to come to my father’s rescue!”Shifu,’ came Zheng Keshuang’s voice, ‘will you deal with that young cur?’The door of the cabin opened, and out came Feng, his new sword in hand. By now Bash’em had been pushed to the very edge of the raft. Another step and he would be in the water.’Hey you!’ called out Feng Xifan. ‘Baby face! I’m going to split your Spirit Terrace for you!’ He aimed the tip of his sword at this highly sensitive point on Li Xihua’s back, and moved slowly forward. Li turned to block the move with his sword. Suddenly, from the roof of the cabin, came a cry’ ‘Hey you! Big baby face! I’m going to split your Spirit Terrace for youl’ A flash of steel, and a man dropped from the roof like a bird swooping from the sky, his blade homing in on Feng’s back.

这一下人人都是大出意料之外,没想到在这小屋顶上另行伏得有人。冯锡范不及攻击李西华,侧身回剑,架开敌刃,当的一声,嗡嗡声不绝,来人手中持的是柄单刀。双刃相交,两人都退了一步,冯锡范喝问:“甚么人?”那人笑道:“我认得你是半剑有血冯锡范,你不认得我么?”
Feng was obliged to turn back from his attack on Li Xihua, in order to parry this new and unexpected threat. There was a confused clanging as Feng’s sword met his opponent’s short’sword. ‘Who are you?’ asked Feng. The man laughed. ‘I know who you are’ Feng the Swordless Blade, the Kunlun Master. . . . Don’t you know me?’

韦小宝等这时都已看得清楚,那人身穿粗布衣裤,头缠白布,腰间围一条青布阔带,足登草鞋,正是日间在赌场中自解穴道的那个乡农。想是他遭了冯锡范的暗算,心中不忿,来报那一剑之辱。
By this time Trinket and his friends could see the man clearly. He wore rough trousers, a white turban wrapped round his head, a simple black cloth sash tied around his waist, and straw sandals. It was the sullen Peasant from the gambling den, come to give Feng a dose of his own medicine.

冯锡范森然道:“以阁下如此身手,谅非无名之辈,何以如此藏头露尾,躲躲闪闪?”那乡农道:“就算是无名之辈,也胜于半剑有血。”冯锡范大怒,挺剑刺去。那乡农既不闪避,也不挡架,举刀向冯锡范当头砍落,骤看似是两败俱伤的拚命打法,其实这一刀后发先至,快得异乎寻常。冯锡范长剑剑尖离对方尚有尺许,敌刃已及脑门,大骇之下,急忙向左窜出。那乡农挥刀横削,攻他腰胁。冯锡范立剑相挡,那乡农手中单刀突然轻飘飘的转了方向,劈向他左臂。冯锡范侧身避开,还了一剑,那乡农仍不挡架,挥刀攻他手腕。两人拆了三招,那乡农竟是攻了三招,他容貌忠厚木讷,带着三分呆气,但刀法之凌厉狠辣,武林中实所罕见。吴六奇和马超兴都暗暗称奇。冯锡范突然叫道:“且住!”跳开两步,说道:“原来尊驾是百胜……”那乡农喝道:“打便打,多说甚么?”纵身而前,呼呼呼三刀。冯锡范便无余暇说话,只得打起精神,见招拆招。冯锡范剑法上也真有高深造诣,这一凝神拒敌,那乡农便占不到上风。二人刀剑忽快忽慢,有时密如连珠般碰撞数十下,有时回旋转身,更不相交一招。
As the two men proceeded to fight, it became clear that the Peasant’s short’sword kungfu was in no way inferior to Feng’s Kunlun play with the long’sword. The Peasant moved with astonishing speed, and after three fierce exchanges they could see that the two men were very evenly matched. Now they were locked in close combat, entwined like a string of entangled pearls; now they swirled around each other, without making any physical contact.

那边厢李自成和李西华仍是恶斗不休。郑克塽和阿珂各执兵刃,站在李自成之侧,俟机相助。李自成一条禅杖舞将开来,势道刚猛,李西华剑法虽精,一时却也欺不近身。斗到酣处,李西华忽地手足缩拢,一个打滚,直滚到敌人脚边,剑尖上斜,已指住李自成小腹,喝道:“你今日还活得成么?”
Throughout this unexpected encounter, Bash’em and young Li Xihua were continuing their struggle on the side of the raft. Zheng Keshuang and Green stood by the cabin at a slight distance, waiting for a chance to intervene. Li Xihua suddenly curled himself into a ball, and rolled swiftly forward to his opponent’s feet, from which position he aimed his sword upwards at Bash’em’s groin. ‘Now!’ he cried. ‘Die!’

这一招“卧云翻”,相传是宋代梁山泊好汉浪子燕青所传下的绝招,小巧之技,迅捷无比,敌人防不胜防。阿珂和郑克塽都吃了一惊,待得发觉,李自成已然受制,不及相救。李自成突然塽目大喝,人人都给震得耳中嗡嗡作响,这一喝之威,直如雷震。李西华一惊,长剑竟然脱手。李自成飞起左腿,踢了他一个筋斗,禅杖杖头已顶在他胸口,登时将他压在木排之下,再也动弹不得。这一下胜败易势,只顷刻之间,眼见李自成只须禅杖舂落,李西华胸口肋骨齐断,心肺碎裂,再也活不成了。李自成喝道:“你如服了,便饶你一命。”
It was a lethal move known as the Hidden Cloud Tumble, handed down (according to tradition) from one of the famous Outlaws of the Marsh, back in the Song dynasty. Bash’em was at Li Xihua’s mercy. Zheng Keshuang and Green looked on aghast. Then suddenly Bash’em let out a great booming roar, like a mighty peal of thunder. Li Xihua was so taken aback, he let his sword fall from his grasp. Bash’em swung his left leg through the air, and sent Li Xihua tumbling backwards. In the same instant he brought his staff up against Li’s chest, and pinned him to the boards of the raft. One thrust of the staff, and Li’s ribs would be shattered, his entrails squashed to a pulp.’Surrender!’ boomed the old man.

李西华道:“快将我杀了,我不能报杀父大仇,有何面目活在人世之间?”李自成一声长笑,说道:“很好!”双臂正要运劲将禅杖插下,一片清冷的月光从他身后射来,照在李西华脸上,但见他脸色平和,微露笑容,竟是全无惧意。李自成心中一凛,喝道:“你是河南人姓李吗?”李西华道:“可惜咱们姓李的,出了你这样一个心胸狭窄、成不得大事的懦夫。”李自成颤声问道:“李岩李公子是你甚么人?”李西华道:“你既知道了,那就很好。”说着微微一笑。李自成提起禅杖,问道:“你是李兄弟……兄弟的儿子?”
‘And I will spare your life!”Kill me!’ cried Li. ‘If I cannot avenge my father’s death, how can I go on living in this world?’Bash’em was just about to go ahead and strike the deadly blow, when something in young Li’s expression caught his eye, something fearless, something peaceful and reconciled, illumined by the moonlight. He drew a sudden breath.’I know who you are! You’re the son of Prince Li Yan, aren’t you? Crimson’s child. . .’

李西华道:“亏你还有脸称我爹爹为兄弟。”李自成身子晃了几下,左手按住自己胸膛,喃喃的道:“李兄弟留下了后人?你……你是红娘子生的罢?”李西华见他禅杖提起数尺,厉声道:“快下手罢!尽说这些干么?”李自成退开两步,将禅杖拄在木排之上,缓缓的道:“我生平第一件大错事,便是害了你爹爹。你骂我心胸狭窄,是个成不得大事的懦夫,不错,一点不错!你要为你爹爹报仇,原是理所当然。李自成生平杀人,难以计数,从来不放在心上,可是杀你爹爹,我……我好生有愧。”突然间哇的一声,喷出了一大口鲜血。李西华万料不到有此变故,跃起身来,拾回长剑,眼见他白须上尽是斑斑点点的鲜血,长剑便刺不进去,说道:“你既内心有愧,胜于一剑将你杀了。”飞身而起,左足在系排上的巨索上连点数下,已跃到岸上,几个起落,隐入了黑暗之中。阿珂叫了声:“爹!”走到李自成身边,伸手欲扶。李自成摇摇手,走到木排之侧,左脚跨出,身子便沉入江中。阿珂惊叫:“爹!你……你别……”
Li Xihua gave a faint smile. Bash’em, once he knew that Li Xihua was indeed the son of Li Yan, his former comrade’in’arms and trusted adviser, broke down altogether. It was a most strange and dramatic turn of events. Bash’em confessed the remorse he felt at having killed Li Xihua’s father, and finally exploded in a great wail of emotion, and began spitting blood. Li Xihua could easily have taken his revenge. But instead of raising his sword and taking the life of this defenceless old man, he declared”It means more to me that you should feel remorse, than that I should take your life!’And with these words he leapt from the raft onto the rope that moored it, and from that up onto the bank. In a matter of seconds he was swallowed up in the shadows.Bash’em staggered to the very edge of the raft, and stood there a moment, his left foot swaying unsteadily in the air. Then he tumbled into the river.’Father!’ Green cried out.

众人见江面更无动静,只道他溺水自尽,无不骇异。过了一会,却见李自成的头顶从江面上探了出来,原来他竟是凝气在江底步行,铁禅杖十分沉重,身子便不浮起。但见他脑袋和肩头渐渐从江面升起,踏着江边浅水,一步步走上了岸,拖着铁禅杖,脚步蹒跚,慢慢远去。
There was no sign of movement in the water. They watched in horror, sure that Bash’em must have sunk to the bottom of the river. But a moment later, his head and shoulders re’emerged, and he stumbled through the shallow water and up onto the bank, dragging his great staff behind him. Slowly he shambled off along the bank.

阿珂回过身来,说道:“郑公子,我爹爹……他……他去了。”哇的一声,哭了出来,奔过去扑在郑克塽怀中。郑克塽左手搂住了她,右手轻拍她背脊,安慰道:“你爹爹走了,有我呢!“一言未毕,突然间足下木材滚动。两人大叫:“啊哟!”摔入江中。天地会家后堂精通水性的好手潜入江中,将缚住木排的竹索割断,木材登时散开。冯锡范急跃而起,看准了一根大木材,轻轻落下。那乡农跟着追到,呼的一刀,迎头劈下。冯锡范挥剑格开。两人便在大木材上继续厮拚。这番相斗,比之适才在木材上过招,又难了几倍。木材不住在水中滚动,立足固然难稳,又无从借力。冯锡范和那乡农却都站得稳稳地,刀来剑往,丝毫不缓。圆木顺着江水流下,渐渐飘到江心。
Zheng Keshuang was consoling Green, when the raft tilted violently under them and they too both fell into the river. Triads from the local Clan Lodge now leapt into the water and severedthe mooring’rope. The raft drifted out into midstream. Feng Xifan, who had also been thrown into the water, caught hold of a loose log and floated out on it, still pursued by the Peasant, swinging at him with his short’sword. The two men clung to the same log. They managed to clamber onto it, and continued their fierce struggle with some difficulty as the log floated downstream.

吴六奇突然叫道:“啊哟!我想起来了。这位兄弟是百胜刀王胡逸之。他……他……他怎么变成了这个样子?快追,划船过去!”马超兴奇道:“胡逸之?那不是又有个外号叫作‘美刀王’的吗?此人风流英俊,当年说是武林中第一美男子,居然扮作了个傻里傻气的乡巴佬!”韦小宝连问:“我的老婆救起来了没有?”吴六奇脸有不悦之色,向他瞪了一眼,显然是说:“百胜刀王胡逸之遭逢强敌,水面凶险,我们怎不立即上前相助?你老是记挂着女子,重色轻友,非英雄所为。”马超兴叫道:“快传下令去,多派人手,务须相救那个小姑娘。”后梢船夫大声叫了出去。忽见江中两人从水底下钻了上来,托起湿淋淋的阿珂,叫道:“女的拿住了。”跟着左首一人抓住郑克塽的衣领,提将起来,叫道:“男的也拿了。”众人哈哈大笑。韦小宝登时放心,笑逐颜开,说道:“咱们快去瞧那百胜刀王,瞧他跟半剑有血打得怎样了。”坐船于吴六奇催促之下,早就在四桨齐划,迅速向胡冯二人相斗的那根大木驶去,越划越近。溶溶月色之下,见江面上白光闪烁,二人兀自斗得甚紧。

二人武功原也不分上下,但冯锡范日间和风际中、玄贞道人拚了两掌,风际中内力着实了得,当时已觉胸口气血不畅,此刻久斗之下,更觉右胸隐隐作痛。在这滚动不休的大木之上,除了前进后退一步半步之外,绝无回旋余地,百胜刀王胡逸之的刀法招招险、刀刀狠,只攻不守,每一刀似乎都是要拚个同归于尽。这等打法若在武艺平庸之人使来,本是使泼耍赖,但胡逸之刀法自成一家,虽险实安。他武功本已精奇,加上这一般凌厉无前的狠劲,冯锡范不由得心生怯意,又见一艘小船划将过来,船头站着数人,一瞥之下,赫然有日间在赌场中相遇的老化子在内。胡逸之大喝一声,左一刀,右两刀,上一刀,下两刀,连攻六刀。冯锡范奋力抵住,百忙中仍还了两剑,门户守得严密异常。吴六奇赞道:“好刀法!好剑法!”胡逸之又是挥刀迎面直劈。冯锡范退了半步,身子后仰,避开了这刀,长剑晃动,挡住身前。这时他左足已踏在大木末端,脚后跟浸在水中,便半寸也退不得了。胡逸之再砍三刀,冯锡范还了三剑,竟分毫不退。胡逸之大喝一声,举刀直砍下来。冯锡范侧身让开,不料胡逸之这一刀竟不收手,向下直砍而落,嚓的一声,将大木砍为两段。冯锡范立足之处是大木的末端,大木一断,他“啊”的一声,翻身入水。胡逸之钢刀脱手,向他身上掷出。冯锡范身在水中,闪避不灵,眼见钢刀掷到,急挥长剑掷出,刀剑铮的一声,空中相交,激出数星火光,远远荡了开去,落入江中。冯锡范潜入水中,就此不见。胡逸之暗暗心惊:“这人水性如此了得,刚才我如跟他一齐落水,非遭他毒手不可。”
Suddenly Beggar Wu cried out’ ‘I know that man! He’s Hu Yizhi, Hu the Gallant, Hu the Handsome, the King of Swordsmen. What on earth is he doing here, dressed in those rags’ Quick, punt after him!’ Trinket’s one and only concern, meanwhile, was to save Green. She and Zheng were soon pulled dripping from the water. Feng and Hu the Peasant continued their desperate struggle on the floating log. The Triad boat edged closer and closer to them. Short’sword and long’sword swung through the air again and again, until suddenly there was a great crash and the log was split in two, sending Feng Xifan, who was balanced on the very edge, toppling into the water. Hu hurled his sword after him, and Feng countered by throwing his own sword into its path. The two blades met in mid’air, giving off a series of sparks, then splashed into the river. Feng disappeared beneath the surface.

吴六奇朗声说道:“百胜刀王,名不虚传!今日得见神技,令人大开眼界。请上船来共饮一杯如何?”胡逸之道:“叨扰了!”一跃上船。船头只微微一沉,船身竟无丝毫晃动。韦小宝不明这一跃之难,吴六奇、马超兴等却均大为佩服。吴六奇拱手说道:“在下吴六奇。这位马超兴兄弟,这位韦小宝兄弟。我们都是天地会的香主。”胡逸之大拇指一翘,说道:“吴兄,你身在天地会,此事何等隐秘,倘若泄漏了风声,全家性命不保。今日初会,你居然对兄弟毫不隐瞒,如此豪气,好生令人佩服。”吴六奇笑道:“倘若信不过百胜刀王,兄弟岂不是成了卑鄙小人么?”胡逸之大喜,紧紧握住他手,说道:“这些年来兄弟隐居种菜,再也不问江湖之事,不料今日还能结交到铁丐吴六奇这样一位好朋友。”说着携手入舱。他对马超兴、韦小宝等只微一点头,并不如何理会。韦小宝见他打败了郑克塽的师父,又是佩服,又是感谢,说道:“胡大侠将冯锡范打入江中,江里的王八甲鱼定然咬得他全身是血。半剑有血变成了无剑有血,哈哈!”胡逸之微微一笑,说道:“韦香主,你掷骰子的本事,可不错啊。”这句话本来略有讥嘲之意,笑他武功不行,只会掷骰子作弊骗羊牯。韦小宝却也不以为忤,反觉得意,笑道:“胡大侠砌牌的本事,更是第一流高手。咱哥儿俩联手推庄,赢了那矮胖子不少银子,胡大侠要占一半,回头便分给你。”胡逸之笑道:“韦香主下次推庄,兄弟还是帮庄。跟你对赌,非输不可。”韦小宝笑道:“妙极,妙极!”马超兴命人整治杯盘,在小船中饮酒。胡逸之喝了几杯酒,说道:“咱们今日既一见如故,兄弟的事,自也不敢相瞒。说来惭愧,兄弟二十余年来退出江湖,隐居昆明城郊,只不过为了一个女子。”
Beggar Wu called out to Hu to climb aboard the boat, and then introduced himself and his comrades. Hu expressed his enormous sense of honour at meeting the famous ‘Beggar’, General Wu. He decided the time had come to tell his own story. ‘All these years I have been lying low, growing my vegetables’ he began. These twenty years I’ve been retired from Raver and Lake. I’ve been living in hiding outside the city of Kunming. Incognito. And all for the sake of a woman . . .’

韦小宝道:“那个陈圆圆唱歌,就有一句叫做英雄甚么是多情。既是英雄,自然是要多情的。”吴六奇眉头一皱,心想:“小孩子便爱胡说八道,你懂得甚么?”不料胡逸之脸色微微一变,叹了口气,缓缓道:“英雄无奈是多情。吴梅村这一句诗,做得甚好,可是那吴三桂并不是甚么英雄,他也不是多情,只不过是个好色之徒罢了。”轻轻哼着《圆圆曲》中的两句:“妻子岂应关大计,英雄无奈是多情。”对韦小宝道:“韦香主,那日你在三圣庵中,听陈姑娘唱这首曲子,真是耳福不浅。我在她身边住了二十三年,断断续续的,这首曲子也只听过三遍,最后这一遍,还是托了你的福。”韦小宝奇道:“你在她身边住了二十三年?你……你也是陈圆圆的姘……么?”

胡逸之苦笑道:“她……她……嘿嘿,她从来正眼也不瞧我一下。我在三圣庵中种菜扫地、打柴挑水,她只道我是个乡下田夫。”吴六奇和马超兴对望一眼,都感骇异,料想这位“美刀王”必是迷恋陈圆圆的美色,以致甘为佣仆。此人武功之高,声望之隆,当年在武林中都算得是第一流人物,居然心甘情愿的去做此低三下四之人,实令人大惑不解。看胡逸之时,见他白发苍苍,胡子稀稀落落,也是白多黑少,满脸皱纹,皮肤黝黑,又哪里说得上一个“美”字?韦小宝奇道:“胡大侠,你武功这样了得,怎么不把陈圆圆一把抱了便走?”胡逸之一听这话,脸上闪过一丝怒色,眼中精光暴盛。韦小宝吓了一跳,手一松。酒杯摔将下来,溅得满身都是酒水。胡逸之低下头来,叹了口气,说道:“那日我在四川成都,无意中见了陈姑娘一眼,唉,那也是前生冤孽,从此神魂颠倒,不能自拔。韦香主,胡某是个没出息、没志气的汉子。当年陈姑娘在平西王府中之时,我在王府里做园丁,给她种花拔草。她去了三圣庵,我便跟着去做火伕。我别无他求,只盼早上晚间偷偷见到她一眼,便已心满意足,怎……怎会有丝毫唐突佳人的举动?”韦小宝道:“那么你心中爱煞了她,这二十几年来,她竟始终不知道?”胡逸之苦笑摇头,说道:“我怕泄漏了身份,平日一天之中,难得说三句话,在她面前更是哑口无言。这二十三年之中,跟她也只说过三十九句话。她倒向我说过五十五句。”
He had first set eyes on the beautiful Peerless Consort many years earlier in the city of Chengdu. And now, for twenty’three years, Hu the Gallant, famed for his good looks and martial prowess, had been tending the vegetable garden at the Hermitage where she had taken up residence. He fetched firewood and water for her, he swept the courtyards, and she just took him for a simple peasant. He had never once dared declare his love for her, convinced that she would regard him as utterly beneath her. And now he was an old man with grey hair and wrinkles. ‘You have no idea how fortunate you were that day to hear her sing her ballad!’ he said to Trinket. ‘In all the years I was there, you. … In all that time, I only ever spoke thirty-nine sentences to her. And she only spoke fifty-five sentences back.’

韦小宝笑道:“你倒记得真清楚。”吴六奇和马超兴均感恻然,心想他连两人说过几句话,都数得这般清清楚楚,真是情痴已极。吴六奇生怕韦小宝胡言乱语,说话伤了他心,说道:“胡大哥,咱们性情中人,有的学武成痴,有的爱喝酒,有的爱赌钱,陈圆圆是天下第一美人,你爱鉴赏美色,可是对她清清白白,实在难得之极。兄弟斗胆,有一句话相劝,不知能否采纳么?”胡逸之道:“吴兄请说。”吴六奇道:“想那陈圆圆,当年自然美貌无比,但到了这时候,年纪大了,想来……”胡逸之连连摇头,不愿再听下去。说道:“吴兄,人各有志。兄弟是个大傻瓜,你如瞧不起我,咱们就此别过。”说着站起身来。韦小宝道:“且慢!胡兄,陈圆圆的美貌,非人世间所有,真如天上仙女一般。幸好吴香主、马香主没见过,否则一见之后,多半也是甘心要给她种菜挑水,我天地会中就少了两位香主啦……”吴六奇心中暗骂:“他妈的,小鬼头信口开河。”韦小宝续道:“……我这可是亲眼见过的。她的女儿阿珂,只有她一半美丽,不瞒你说,我是打定了主意,就是千刀万剐,粉身碎骨,也非娶她做老婆不可。昨天在赌场之中,她要挖我眼睛,心狠手辣,老子也不在乎,这个,你老兄是亲眼所见,并无虚假。”胡逸之一听,登时大兴同病相怜之感,叹道:“我瞧那阿珂对韦兄弟,似乎有点流水无情。”韦小宝道:“甚么流水无请?简直恨我入骨。他妈的……胡大哥,你别误会,我这是随口骂人,可不是骂她的妈陈圆圆……那阿珂不是在我胸口狠狠刺了一剑么?后来又刺我眼珠,若不是我运气好,她早已谋杀了亲夫。她……她……哼,瞧上了台湾那个郑公子,一心一意想跟他做夫妻,偏偏那姓郑的在江中又没淹死。”
There was something deeply touching about his fanatical way of loving. Beggar Wu and Lodge Master Ma were both greatly moved. They were concerned that Trinket might say something foolish and offend Hu. But curiously enough, it was Trinket who seemed to understand Hu’s feelings most, who even identified with them. After all, had he not already admitted to himself that Green, Peerless-daughter, was only half as beautiful as her mother? And was he not himself totally infatuated with Green? And was she not totally heartless towards him?’ Trinket said all of this aloud.

胡逸之坐了下来,握住他手,说道:“小兄弟,人世间情这个东西,不能强求,你能遇到阿珂,跟她又有师姊师弟的名份,那已是缘份,并不是非做夫妻不可的。你一生之中,已经看过她许多眼,跟她说过许多话。她骂过你,打过你,用刀子刺过你,那便是说她心中有了你这个人,这已经是天大的福份了。”
After Hu had listened to Trinket’s protestations of love, he sat down and took him by the hand. ‘Listen to me, my friend. Love is a very special kind of thing. There’s no forcing it. You’ve had more than your share of good fortune. You’ve met Green, you have the same Shifu, you are already brother and sister’in’arms. Your fates are clearly intertwined. Don’t think to yourself that the only way to be happy is to marry her, to possess her. You’ve looked into her eyes, you’ve spoken to her; she has scolded you, she has hit you, she has struck you with her sword-all of this is proof that she has feelings about you, that you are important to her. That makes you one of the luckiest men alive.’

韦小宝点头道:“你这话很对。她如对我不理不睬,只当世上没我这个人,这滋味就挺不好受。我宁可她打我骂我,用刀子杀我。只要我没给她杀死,也就是了。”胡逸之叹道:“就给她杀了,也很好啊。她杀了你,心里不免有点抱歉,夜晚做梦,说不定会梦见你;日间闲着无事,偶然也会想到你。这岂不是胜于心里从来没你这个人吗?”吴六奇和马超兴相顾骇然,均想这人直是痴到了极处,若不是刚才亲眼见到他和冯锡范相斗,武功出神入化,真不信他便是当年名闻四海、风流倜傥的“美刀王”。韦小宝却听得连连点头,说道:“胡大哥,你这番话,真是说得再明白也没有,我以前就没想到。不过我喜欢了一个女子,却一定要她做老婆,我可没你这么耐心。阿珂当真要我种菜挑水,要我陪她一辈子,我自然也干。但那个郑公子倘若在她身边,老子却非给他来个白刀子进、红刀子出不可。”
Trinket nodded.’I know you’re right. It would be so much worse if she took no notice of me at all. I’d much rather she treated me the way she does. So long as she doesn’t actually kill me . . .’Hu sighed.’Even that-who knows’ Suppose she did kill you. . . she’d probably feel remorse afterwards, and then at night she’d have feelings of guilt, she’d see you in her dreams. … Or else during the day she’d find herself thinking about you.’This kind of talk was utterly beyond the comprehension of the others. If they hadn’t witnessed with their own eyes his recent struggle with Feng Xifan, they would have found it impossible to believe that the man uttering these absurd sentimentalities was HuYizhi the Gallant.But Trinket understood every word, and kept on nodding as Hu spoke. ‘You’re absolutely right, Brother Hu. But I’ve always had this problem. If I meet a girl that I really like, I want to marry her. I can’t help it. I’m just not as patient as you are. If Green wanted me to grow veggies for her, I’d do it, of course I would. But I couldn’t bear to see that Zheng lout hanging around her. I’d have to deal with him. Out with my snick’a’snee-‘

胡逸之道:“小兄弟,这话可不大对了。你喜欢一个女子,那是要让她心里高兴,为的是她,不是为你自己。倘若她想嫁给郑公子,你就该千方百计的助她完成心愿。倘若有人要害郑公子,你为了心上人,就该全力保护郑公子,纵然送了自己性命,那也无伤大雅啊。”韦小宝摇头道:“这个可有伤大雅之至。赔本生意,兄弟是不干的。胡大哥,兄弟对你十分佩服,很想拜你为师。不是学你的刀法,而是学你对陈圆圆的一片痴情。这门功夫,兄弟可跟你差得远了。”胡逸之大是高兴,说道:“拜师是不必,咱哥儿俩切磋互勉,倒也不妨。”
Hu took him to task. ‘My young friend, you have much to learn. If you love a lady, then you want her to be happy. It’s her happiness that counts, not yours. If what Green wants is to marry the other man, then you must do everything you can to help her do so. If someone else tries to harm him, you must defend him, you must be willing to lay down your life for him-for her sake.’ Trinket shook his head. ‘I don’t think I could ever be like you. I’d like to. I can see that you’re a very superior kind of lover. But I know I could never be like that. I’d like to be your disciple, though!’ ‘No!’ protested Hu. ‘We are simply Brothers in the School of Love.’

吴六奇和马超兴对任何女子都不瞧在眼里,心想美貌女子,窑子里有的是,只要白花花的银子搬出去,要多少就有多少,看来这两个家伙都是失心疯了。胡韦二人一老一少,却越谈越觉情投意合,真有相见恨晚之感。其实韦小宝是要娶阿珂为妻,那是下定决心,排除万难,苦缠到底,和胡逸之的一片痴心完全不同,不过一个对陈圆圆一往情深,一个对陈圆圆之女志在必得,立心虽有高下之别,其中却也有共通之处。何况胡逸之将这番深情在心中藏了二十三年,从未向人一吐,此刻得能尽情倾诉,居然还有人在旁大为赞叹,击节不已,心中的痛快无可言喻。马超兴见胡韦二人谈得投机,不便打断二人的兴致,初时还听上几句,后来越听越不入耳,和吴六奇二人暗皱眉头,均想:“韦香主是小孩子,不明事理,那也罢了。你胡逸之却为老不尊,教坏了少年人。”不由得起了几分鄙视之意。胡逸之忽道:“小兄弟,你我一见如故,世上最难得的是知心人。常言道得好,得一知己,死而无憾。胡某人当年相识遍天下,知心无一人,今日有缘跟你相见,咱俩结为兄弟如何?”韦小宝大喜,说道:“那好极了。”忽然踌躇道:“只怕有一件事不妥。”胡逸之问道:“甚么事?”韦小宝道:“如果将来你我各如所愿,你娶了陈圆圆,我娶了阿珂,你变成我的丈人老头儿了。兄弟相称,可不大对头。”

吴六奇和马超兴一听,忍不住哈哈大笑。胡逸之怫然变色,愠道:“唉,你总是不明白我对陈姑娘的情意。我这一生一世,决计不会伸一根手指头儿碰到她一片衣角,若有虚言,便如此桌。”说着左手一伸,喀的一声,抓下舟中小几的一角,双手一搓,便成木屑,纷纷而落。吴六奇赞道:“好功夫!”胡逸之向他白了一眼,心道:“武功算得甚么?我这番深情,那才难得。可见你不是我的知己。”韦小宝没本事学他这般抓木成粉,拔出匕首,轻轻切下小几的另一角,放在几上,提起匕首,随手几剁,将那几角剁成数块,说道:“韦小宝倘若娶不到阿珂做老婆,有如这块茶几角儿,给人切个大八块,还不了手。”旁人见匕首如此锋利,都感惊奇,但听他这般立誓,又觉好笑。韦小宝道:“胡大哥,这么说来,我一辈子也不会做你女婿啦,咱们就此结为兄弟。”胡逸之哈哈大笑,拉着他手,来到船头,对着月亮一齐跪倒,说道:“胡逸之今日和韦小宝结为兄弟。此后有福共享,有难同当,若违此誓,教我淹死江中。”韦小宝也依着说了,最后这句话却说成“教我淹死在这柳江之中”,心想:“我决不会对不起胡大哥,不过万一有甚么错失,我从此不到广西来,总不能在这柳江之中淹死了。别的江河,那就不算。”两人哈哈大笑,携手回入舱中,极是亲热。吴六奇和马超兴向二人道喜,四人举杯共饮。吴六奇怕这对痴情金兰兄弟又说陈圆圆和阿珂之事,听来着实厌烦,说道:“咱们回去罢。”胡逸之点头道:“好。马兄,韦兄弟,我有一事相求,这位阿珂姑娘,我要带去昆明。”马超兴并不在意。韦小宝却大吃一惊,忙问:“带去昆明干甚么?”胡逸之叹道:“那日陈姑娘在三圣庵中和她女儿相认,当日晚上就病倒了,只是叫着:‘阿珂,阿珂,你怎么不来瞧瞧你娘?’又说:‘阿珂,娘只有你这心肝宝贝,娘想得你好苦。’我听得不忍,这才一路跟随前来。在路上我曾苦劝阿珂姑娘回去,陪伴她母亲,她说甚么也不肯。这等事情又不能用强,我束手无策,只有暗中跟随,只盼劝得她回心转意。现下她给你们拿住了,倘若马香主要她答应回去昆明见母,方能释放,只怕她不得不从。”

Beggar Wu and Lodge Master Ma found this dialogue of theirs altogether excessive. They’d never wasted any time thinking about women-let alone prattling on about them in this highfalutin fashion. There were good’looking wenches aplenty in the whorehouses, and if you wanted one, for goodness sake, all you had to do was shell out a bit of cash and she was yours. All this sickening talk about the School of Love! They were clearly nuts, both of them. Plain bonkers. Hu the Gallant Peasant and Trinket by now felt like sworn brothers, and Hu proposed that they should formally seal their bond. They knelt on the deck of the boat in the moonlight and took a solemn oath of brotherhood. A toast was drunk. Then Hu asked for leave to perform one last task. ‘Green’s mother has been ailing ever since her daughter left her. All these years the girl has never even known who her real parents were. Let me take her back for a short visit to the Hermitage. It may help to heal her mother’s illness.’

马超兴道:“此事在下并无意见,全凭韦香主怎么说就是。”胡逸之道:“兄弟,你要娶她为妻,来日方长,但如陈姑娘一病不起,从此再也见不到她女儿。这……这可是终身之恨了。”说着语音已有些哽咽。吴六奇暗暗摇头,心想:“这人英雄豪气,尽已消磨,如此婆婆妈妈,为了吴三桂的一个爱妾,竟然这般神魂颠倒,岂是好汉子的气概?陈圆圆是断送大明江山的祸首之一,下次老子提兵打进昆明,先将她一刀杀了。”韦小宝说道:“大哥要带她去昆明,那也可以,不过……不过不瞒大哥你说,我跟她明媒正娶,早已拜过天地,做媒人的是沐王府的摇头狮子吴立身。偏偏我老婆不肯跟我成亲,要去改嫁给那郑公子。倘若她答应和我做夫妻,自然就可放她。”吴六奇听到这里,勃然大怒,再也忍耐不住,举掌在几上重重一拍,酒壶酒杯登时尽皆翻倒,大声道:“胡大哥,韦兄弟,这小姑娘不肯去见娘,大大的不孝。她跟韦兄弟拜过了堂,已有夫妻名份,却又要去跟那郑公子,大大的不贞。这等不孝不贞的女子,留在世上何用?她相貌越美,人品越坏,我这就去把她的脖子喀喇一下扭断,他妈的,省得教人听着心烦,见了惹气。”厉声催促艄公:“快划,快划。”胡逸之、韦小宝、马超兴三人相顾失色,眼见他如此威风凛凛,杀气腾腾,额头青筋涨了起来,气恼已极,哪敢相劝?坐船渐渐划向岸边,吴六奇叫道:“那一男一女在哪里?”一艘小船上有人答道:“在这里绑着。”吴六奇向艄公一挥手,坐船转头偏东,向那艘小船划去。吴六奇对韦小宝道:“韦兄弟,你我会中兄弟,情如骨肉。做哥哥的不忍见你误于美色,葬送了一生,今日为你作个了断。”韦小宝颤声道:“这件事……还得……还得仔细商量。”吴六奇厉声道:“还商量甚么?”

眼见两船渐近,韦小宝忧心如焚,只得向马超兴求助:“马大哥,你劝吴大哥一劝。”吴六奇道:“天下好女子甚多,包在做哥哥的身上,给你找一房称心满意的好媳妇就是。又何必留恋这等下贱女子?”韦小宝愁眉苦脸,道:“唉,这个……这个……”突然间呼的一声,一人跃起身来,扑到了对面船头,正是胡逸之。只见他一钻入船舱,跟着便从后艄钻出,手中已抱了一人,身法迅捷已极,随即跃到岸上,几个起落,已在数十丈外,声音远远传来:“吴大哥、马大哥、韦兄弟,实在对不住之至,日后上门请罪,听凭责罚。”话声渐远,但中气充沛,仍是听得清清楚楚。吴六奇又惊又怒,待要跃起追赶,眼见胡逸之已去得远了,转念一想,不禁捧腹大笑。韦小宝鼓掌叫好,料想胡逸之抱了阿珂去,自然是将她送去和陈圆圆相会。
Beggar Wu was extremely dubious about this sentimental way of seeing things. He was all for resolving matters by simply killing the Peerless Consort without further ado. When all was said and done, in his eyes (and those of many Chinese) she was still considered to have been one of the principal causes of the fall of the Ming dynasty. And as for her daughter Green, she was clearly guilty of being unfilial towards her own mother and unfaithful to her own betrothed-namely, Trinket. However beautiful Green might be, she was obviously a bad lot. Wu suggested that he go and break her pretty little neck. It would be good riddance. The veins were bulging on his great forehead, and he was a ferocious sight. He issued the command to row towards the boat where Green and Zheng Keshuang were being held captive. Even as Trinket pleaded with him to show mercy, the two boats drew side by side. But before Wu could carry out his threat, Trinket saw Hu leap aboard the other boat, dash into the cabin, and emerge through the rear door, clutching a human shape. He leapt onto the bank, and they could hear his voice trailing into the distance’ ‘Farewell, brothers! Till we meet again!’

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