The Deer And The Cauldron 34

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The Deer And The Cauldron 34
第三十四回 一纸兴亡看复鹿 千年灰劫付冥鸿

Exit Sir Zheng

片刻间两船靠拢,天地会中兄弟将郑克塽推了过来。韦小宝骂道:“奶奶的,你杀害天地会中兄弟,又想害死天地会总舵主,非把你开膛剖肚不可。辣块妈妈,你明知阿珂是我老婆,又跟她勾勾搭搭。”说着走上前去,左右开弓,拍拍拍拍,打了他四个耳光。郑克塽喝饱了江水,早已萎顿不堪,见到韦小宝凶神恶煞的模样,求道:“韦大人,求你瞧在我爹爹的份上,饶我一命。从今而后,我……再也不敢跟阿珂姑娘说一句话。”韦小宝道:“倘若她跟你说话呢?”郑克塽道:“我也不答,否则……否则……”否则怎样,一时说不上来。韦小宝道:“你这人说话如同放屁。我先把你舌头割了,好教你便想跟阿珂说话,也说不上。”说着拔出匕首,喝道:“伸舌头出来!”郑克塽大惊,忙道:“我决不跟她说话便是,只要说一句话,便是混帐王八蛋。”韦小宝生怕陈近南责罚,倒也不敢真的杀他,说道:“以后你再敢对天地会总舵主和兄弟们无礼,再敢跟我老婆不三不四,想弄顶绿帽给老子戴,老子一剑插在你这奸夫头里。”提起匕首轻轻一掷,那匕首直入船头。郑上塽忙道:“不敢,不敢,再也不敢了。”韦小宝转头对马超兴道:“马大哥,他是你家后堂拿住的,请你发落罢。”
Zheng Keshuang was brought out of the cabin by a number of Triad brethren and transferred aboard the other boat. Trinket gave him a good punch in the face, and bawled him out for having conspired to kill Triad members, and for foooling around with Trinket’s betrothed.Zheng had swallowed a great deal of river water, and presented a sorry spectacle. Trinket terrorized him for a while with various threats (which included cutting out his tongue), and reduced him to a snivelling wreck. Then he turned to Lodge Master Ma, ‘Brother Ma, it was your men who captured him. You deal with him.’

马超兴叹道:“国姓爷何等英雄,生的孙子却这么不成器。”吴六奇道:“这人回到台湾,必跟总舵主为难,不如一刀两段,永无后患。”郑克塽大惊,忙道:“不,不会的。我回去台湾,求爹爹封陈永华陈先生的官,封个大大的官。”马超兴道:“哼,总舵主希罕么?”低声对吴六奇道:“这人是郑王爷的公子,咱们倘若杀了,只怕陷得总舵主有‘弑主’之名。”天地会是陈永华奉郑成功之命而创,陈永华是天地会首领,但仍是台湾延平郡王府的属官,会中兄弟若杀了延平王的儿子,陈永华虽不在场,却也脱不了干系。吴六奇一想不错,双手一扯,拉断了绑着郑克塽的绳索,将他提起,喝道:“滚你的罢!”一把掷向岸上。郑克塽登时便如腾云驾雾般飞出,在空中哇哇大叫,料想这一摔难免筋折骨断,那知屁股着地,在一片草地上滑出,虽然震得全身疼痛,却未受伤,爬起身来,急急走了。
‘Alas!’ protested Ma. ‘He is but a shadow of his grandfather, Lord Coxinga, the mighty hero!’Beggar Wu was for executing him there and then.’He’ll only cause more trouble for the Helmsman when he gets back to his family in Taiwan!’But in the end, out of respect for his grandfather, they untied him and set him free. Wu lifted him up bodily and flung him onto the bank, where he landed with his backside on the grass. After skidding along some way, he picked himself up and ran howling off into the distance.

The Storm on the River

吴六奇和韦小宝哈哈大笑。马超兴道:“这家伙丢了国姓爷的脸。”吴六奇问道:“这家伙如何杀伤本会兄弟,陷害总舵主?”韦小宝道:“这事说来话长,咱们上得岸去,待兄弟跟大哥详说。”向天边瞧了一眼,说道:“那边尽是黑云,只怕大雨就来了,咱们快上岸罢。”一阵疾风刮来,只吹得各人衣衫飒飒作声,口鼻中都是风。吴六奇道:“这场风雨只怕不小,咱们把船驶到江心,大风大雨中饮酒说话,倒有趣得紧。”韦小宝吃了一惊,忙道:“这艘小船吃不起风,要是翻了,岂不糟糕?”马超兴微笑道:“那倒不用担心。”转头向艄公吩咐了几句。艄公答应了,掉过船头,挂起了风帆。此时风势已颇不小,布帆吃饱了风,小船箭也似的向江心驶去。江中浪头大起,小船忽高忽低,江水直溅入舱来。韦小宝枉自外号叫作“小白龙”,却不识水性,他年纪是小的,这时脸色也已吓得雪白,不过跟这个“龙”字,却似乎拉扯不上甚么干系了。吴六奇笑道:“韦兄弟,我也不识水性。”韦小宝大奇道:“你不会游水?”
Dawn was coming. The sky was dark with clouds, and rain seemed imminent. They could feel a few gusts of wind blowing their clothes. ‘I feel a storm brewing,’ said Wu. Tunt the boats out into midstream, and let’s down a few cups of wine! Devilish fine way to ride out the storm!’ Trinket personally thought it sounded like a devilishly terrifying thing to do. But Lodge Master Ma told him not to be afraid. He gave orders to hoist the sails, and soon the billowing wind drove the boat scudding into midstream. The waves were growing choppier and choppier by the minute, and the boat kept heaving up and down on the river. Large quantities of water came surging into the cabin. For all that he had been nicknamed Little White Dragon (in his callow Whiskers Mao days), and for all that dragons were supposed to be at home in the water, Trinket was no swimmer. On the present occasion, the only thing that recalled his nom de guerre was his face, which was white with fear. There was certainly nothing dragon’like about him, as he half mumbled, half trembled’ ‘I can’t swim!’ ‘Nor can I!’ It was big burly Wu who had spoken. Trinket found it hard to believe.

吴六奇摇头道:“从来不会,我一见到水便头晕脑胀。”韦小宝道:“那……那你怎么叫船驶到江心来?”吴六奇笑道:“天下的事情,越是可怕,我越是要去碰它一碰。最多是大浪打翻船,大家都做柳江中的水鬼,那也没甚么大不了。何况马大哥外号叫作‘西江神蛟’,水上功夫何等了得?马大哥,咱们话说在前,待会若是翻船,你得先救韦兄弟,第二个再来救我。”马超兴笑道:“好,一言为定。”韦小宝稍觉放心。这时风浪益发大了,小船随着浪头,蓦地里升高丈余,突然之间,便似从半空中掉将下来,要钻入江底一般。韦小宝被抛了上来,腾的一声,重重摔上舱板,尖声大叫:“乖乖不得了!”船篷上刹喇喇一片响亮,大雨洒将下来,跟着一阵狂风刮到,将船头、船尾的灯笼都卷了出去,船舱中的灯火也即熄灭。韦小宝又是大叫:“啊哟,不好了!”
‘It’s true, damn it!’ insisted Wu. ‘I’ve only got to see water like this and I start to go all sick and dizzy.’ ‘Then why did you give the order to steer the boats out into the middle of the river?’ ‘That’s the way I am. The more frightening a thing is, the more I want to go for it head on. Damn it! What’s the worst that can happen’ We all drown in the river, turn into river ghosts. Anyway, Brother Ma here is famous for his water kungfu. He’ll save the non’swimmers. Won’t you, Brother Ma?’ Ma gave a hearty laugh. The waves were growing larger and larger, and the boat was heaving up and down dramatically in the water, suddenly rearing into the air one minute on the crest of a particularly powerful wave, only to be tossed down seconds later, as if to the bottom of an abyss. The wind had extinguished the lanterns hanging at the poop and prow, together with all the lamps in the cabin. Boatmen struggled to hoist the sails, clinging desperately to the mast.

从舱中望出去,但见江面白浪汹涌,风大雨大,气势惊人。马超兴道:“兄弟莫怕,这场风雨果然厉害,待我去把舵。”走到后梢,叱喝船夫入舱。风势奇大,两名船夫刚到桅杆边,便险些给吹下江去,紧紧抱住了桅杆,不敢离手。大风浪中,那小船忽然倾侧。韦小宝向左边摔去,尖声大叫,心中痛骂:“这老叫化出他妈的这古怪主意,你自己又不会游水,甚么地方不好玩,却到这大风大雨的江中来开玩笑?风大雨大,你妈妈的肚皮大。”狂风挟着暴雨,一阵阵打进舱来,韦小宝早已全身湿透。猛听得豁喇喇一声响,风帆落了下来,船身一侧,韦小宝向右撞去,砰的一声,脑袋撞在小几之上,忽想:“我又没对不起胡大哥,为甚么今日要淹死在这柳江之中?啊哟,是了,我起这誓,就是存心不良,打了有朝一日要欺骗他的主意。玉皇大帝,十殿阎王,救苦救难观世音菩萨,韦小宝诚心诚意,决计跟胡大哥有福共享,有难同当。同享甚么福?他如娶了陈圆圆……难道我也……”风雨声中,忽听得吴六奇放开喉咙唱起曲来:
Trinket looked out of the cabin window, but a seething white mass of waves, whipped to a terrifying fury by wind and rain. Squalls of wind’driven water came lashing into the cabin. By now he was well and truly soaked to the skin.An especially powerful gust of wind brought down the sails, and the boat lurched violently to one side, toppling Trinket over so that he hit his head on a low table.Suddenly, in the midst of this howling tempest, old Wu’s voice could be heard, singing for all he was worth:

“走江边,满腔愤恨向谁言?老泪风吹,孤城一片,望救目穿,使尽残兵血战。跳出重围,故国悲恋,谁知歌罢剩空筵。长江一线,吴头楚尾路三千,尽归别姓,雨翻云变。寒涛东卷,万事付空烟。精魂显大招,声逐海天远。”
Wandering by the riverside,
To whom could he his deepest grief confide?
The wind Hew the tears
On his face;
From the forsaken city
No matter how he strained his eyes,
No help could he espy.
His love for the ancient dynasty
Was nought but
A cause of bitterness;
The song was ended,
The banquet hall empty;
A myriad miles of river
Stretched from the realm ofWu
Down to the hills ofChu-
All gone,
All taken!
The rain whirled,
The clouds turned,
The cold tide eastwards curled,
And all dissolved in mist.
His mighty spirit
Wafted from sea to sky!

曲声从江上远送出去,风雨之声虽响,却也压他不倒。马超兴在后梢喝采不迭,叫道:“好一个‘声逐海天远’!”韦小宝但听他唱得慷慨激昂,也不知曲文是甚么意思,心中骂道:“你有这副好嗓子,却不去戏台上做大花面?老叫化,放开了喉咙大叫:‘老爷太太,施舍些残羹冷饭’,倒也饿不死你。”忽听得远处江中有人朗声叫道:“千古南朝作话传,伤心血泪洒山川。”那叫声相隔甚远,但在大风雨中清清楚楚的传来,足见那人内力深湛。韦小宝一怔之际,只听得马超兴叫道:“是总舵主吗?兄弟马超兴在此。”
The song echoed far across the river, cutting through the roar of the storm. It was a much’loved aria from the opera The Peach Blossom Fan. From the back of the boat, Ma applauded loudly.’Well sung! What a magnificent voice! What a towering sound! It reaches from the river all the way up to the sky!’But before these words of his were out, a second voice rang out from further up the river’ This tale of the exiled king Will be told for ever and a day; And tears of blood Will swell the streams with woe. It was another powerful voice, and it too carried clearly across the water. Trinket was still puzzling over the identity of this latest singer, when he heard Ma cry out’ ‘Is that you, Helmsman’ Brother Ma at your service!’

那边答道:“正是,小宝在么?”果是陈近南的声音。韦小宝又惊又喜,叫道:“师父,我在这里。”但狂风之下,他的声音又怎传得出去?马超兴叫道:“韦香主在这里。还有洪顺堂红旗吴香主。”陈近南道:“好极了!难怪江上唱曲,高亢入云。”声音中流露出十分喜悦之情。吴六奇道:“属下吴六奇,参见总舵主。”陈近南道:“自己兄弟,不必客气。”声音渐近,他的坐船向着这边驶来。风雨兀自未歇,韦小宝从舱中望出去,江上一片漆黑,一点火光缓缓在江面上移来,陈近南船上点得有灯。过了好一会,火光移到近处,船头微微一沉,陈近南已跳上船来。韦小宝心想:“师父到来,这次小命有救了。”忙迎到舱口,黑暗中看不见陈近南面貌,大声叫了声“师父”再说。陈近南拉着他手,走入船舱,笑道:“这场大风雨,可当真了得。你吓着了么?”韦小宝道:“还好。”吴六奇和马超兴都走进舱来参见。
‘Is Brother Wei there?’ There was now no mistaking the Helmsman’s voice. ‘Here I am, Shifu,’ called Trinket, both delighted and somewhat taken aback. His puny little voice failed to carry at all in the storm, and it was Lodge Master Ma who informed the Helmsman of Trinket’s presence, and of old Wu’s. ‘Excellent!’ The Helmsman’s reply carried clearly again across the water. ‘I thought I recognized Beggar Wu’s mighty voice!’ Wu called out’ ‘Wu Liuqi at your service, Helmsman!’ ‘Come, drop the formality! We are all Brothers here!’ The Helmsman’s boat gradually came closer. Looking out into the pitch’black stormy night, Trinket could make out the boat’s storm’lantern drawing near. Then he heard the Helmsman jump aboard. He rushed out on deck to welcome his Shifu, but could see nothing. He felt the Helmsman grasp him by the hand and draw him back down into the cabin. ‘What a dreadful storm! Are you afraid?’ ‘I’m all right, Shifu.’ Wu and Ma joined them in the cabin.

陈近南道:“我到了城里,知道你们在江上,便来寻找,想不到遇上这场大风雨。若不是吴大哥一曲高歌,也真还找不到。”吴六奇道:“属下一时兴起,倒教总舵主见笑了。”陈近南道:“大家兄弟相称罢。吴大哥唱的是《桃花扇》中《沉江》那一出戏吗?”吴六奇道:“正是。这首曲子写史阁部精忠抗敌,沉江殉难,兄弟平日最是爱听。此刻江上风雨大作,不禁唱了起来。”陈近南赞道:“唱得好,果然是好。”韦小宝心道:“原来这出戏叫作《沉江》。甚么戏不好唱,却唱这倒霉戏?你要沉江,小弟恕不奉陪。”陈近南道:“那日在浙江嘉兴舟中,曾听黄宗羲先生、吕留良先生、查伊璜先生三位江南名士,说到吴兄的事迹,兄弟甚是佩服。你我虽是同会弟兄,只是兄弟事繁,一直未能到广东相见。吴兄身份不同,亦不能北来。不意今日在此聚会,大慰平生。”
‘I arrived in town, and learned that you were out here on the river,’ began the Helmsman. ‘I’d never have found you in this terrible storm, if I hadn’t heard Brother Wu’s singing.’ ‘My spirits were roused,’ replied Wu. ‘Got a bit carried away. Made a bit of a fool of myself, I’m afraid-‘ ‘I know the aria’ was the Helmsman’s only comment. ‘It’s from The Peach Blossom Fan.’ CHAPTER 21 ‘Yes. The loyal minister Shi Kefa has just drowned himself in the river. Just jumped in. Hell of a brave fellow. Manchus all over the place. Yangzhou taken, Nanking taken. No hope left. Always one of my favourite bits in the play. Something about the storm got me singing. . . .”You sing extremely well’ commented the Helmsman.But Trinket was thinking to himself’Trust you to sing some stinking aria about a man drowning himself in the river. Go ahead, drown! Just count me out!’Chen Jinnan told Beggar Wu how he had first heard (or strictly speaking overheard) of his exploits from the three Loyalist scholars Huang Zongxi, Lii Liuliang, and Gu Yanwu. He had always looked forward eagerly to meeting him in person, but knew that circumstances usually made it hard for Wu to travel to the north.

吴六奇道:“兄弟入了天地会后,无日不想参见总舵主。江湖上有言道:‘平生不见陈近南,就称英雄也枉然。’从今天起,我才可称为英雄了,哈哈,哈哈。”陈近南道:“多承江湖上朋友抬举,好生惭愧。”两人惺惺相惜,意气相投,放言纵谈平生抱负,登时忘了舟外的风雨。
Wu returned the compliment, quoting (with a certain humour) the common Triad jingle’Who’s never yet met Chen Jinnan Can’t call himself a prayer man.’Now I can finally call myself a proper man!’He gave one of his big belly laughs. Chen Jinnan accepted the compliment with fitting modesty. The two men were soon deeply engrossed in conversation, oblivious to the storm still raging outside, aware only of how much they held in common, of how deeply committed they both were to the Loyalist cause, and of how closely their temperaments and ideals coincided.

谈了一会,风雨渐渐小了。陈近南问起吴三桂之事,韦小宝一一说了,遇到惊险之处,自不免加油添酱一番,种种经过,连马超兴也是首次得闻。陈近南听说已拿到了蒙古使者罕帖摩,真凭实据,吴三桂非倒大霉不可,十分欢喜;又听说罗刹国要在北方响应吴三桂,夺取关外大片土地,不由得皱起了眉头,半晌不语。
Gradually the storm was subsiding. The Helmsman asked for the latest news of the Satrap, and Trinket reported on their recent adventure in Kunming, not without a certain amount of embellishment. Chen Jinnan was delighted to learn that they had captured the Satrap’s Mongolian go’between, and thus had concrete proof of his treacherous ambitions, and therewith the means to bring about his downfall. When he was told of the alliance struck by the Satrap with the Russians, whereby they were to be left in control of large swathes of Chinese territory in the north, in return for their support of Wu’s bid for power in China proper, he frowned and was lost in thought for a while.’These Russians pose a grave danger. Suppose we rid ourselves of the Tartars, only to find a still more dangerous enemy at ourdoor? Suppose we chase away the wolf, only to let in the tiger? And they have powerful weapons. . . .’

韦小宝道:“师父,罗刹国人红毛绿眼睛,倒也不怕,最多不向他们脸上多瞧就是了。他们的火器可真厉害,一枪轰来,任你英雄好汉,也抵挡不住。”陈近南道:“我也正为此担心,吴三桂和鞑子拚个两败俱伤,正是天赐恢复我汉家山河的良机,可是前门驱虎,后门进狼,赶走了鞑子,来个比鞑子还要凶恶的罗刹国,又来占我锦绣江山,那便如何是好?”吴六奇道:“罗刹国的火器,当真没法子对付吗?”陈近南道:“有一个人,两位可以见见。”走到舱口,叫道:“兴珠,你过来。”那边小船中有人应道:“是。”跳上船来,走入舱中,向陈近南微微躬身,这人四十来岁年纪,身材瘦小,满脸英悍之色。陈近南道:“见过了吴大哥、马大哥。这是我的徒弟,姓韦。”那人抱拳行礼,吴六奇等都起身还礼。陈近南道:“这位林兴珠林兄弟,一直在台湾跟着我办事,很是得力。当年国姓爷打败红毛鬼,攻克台湾,林兄弟也是有功之人。”韦小宝笑道:“林大哥跟红毛鬼交过手,那好极了。罗刹鬼有枪炮火器,红毛鬼也有枪炮火器,林大哥定有法子。”吴六奇和马超兴同时鼓掌,齐道:“韦兄弟的脑筋真灵。”吴六奇本来对韦小宝并不如何重视,料想他不过是总舵主的弟子,才做到青木堂香主那样高的职司,青木堂近年来虽建功不少,也不见得是因这小家伙之故,见他迷恋阿珂,更有几分鄙夷,这时却不由得有些佩服:“这小娃儿见事好快,倒也有些本事。”陈近南微笑道:“当年国姓爷攻打台湾,红毛鬼炮火厉害,果然极难抵敌。我们当时便构筑土堤,把几千名红毛兵围在城里,断了城中水源,叫他们没水喝。红毛兵熬不住了,冲出来攻击,我们白天不战,只晚上跟他们近斗。兴珠,当时怎生打法,跟大家说说。”
‘Yes’ chipped in Trinket. Those red’haired Russian devils may not be much to write home about, but those guns of theirs are very nasty. I tried out a couple at the Satrap’s. They make a very loud bang indeed! Could be very tricky to deal with.’ ‘How would we plan to deal with the Russian guns?’ enquired Wu of the Helmsman. The Helmsman presents an Old Hero At this point Chen Jinnan walked over to the cabin door and called out’ ‘LinXingzhu!’ A man from a neighbouring boat leapt on board and, coming into the cabin, bowed to the Helmsman. Chen introduced him to the present company as a disciple of his, one of Marshal Coxinga’s officers in the campaign several years earlier to take Taiwan from the Dutch settlers. It was as a consequence of that campaign that he had experience of firearms. Chen Jinnan began to describe the situation as it had been’ ‘The Dutch were well equipped with cannon and other weapons. So we decided to surround them with a great earthen wall, effectively besieging several thousand of them within the city of Fort Zeelandia. Then we cut off their supply of water, until eventually they were forced to try and break out. But we refused to fight them by day. Tell how we fought, Xingzhu.’

林兴珠道:“那是军师的神机妙算……”陈近南为郑成功献策攻台,克成大功,军中都称他为“军师”。韦小宝道:“军师?”见林兴珠眼望陈近南,师父脸露微笑,已然明白,说道:“啊,原来师父你是诸葛亮。诸葛军师大破藤甲兵,陈军师大破红毛兵。”林兴珠道:“国姓爷于永历十五年二月初一日祭江,督率文武百官、亲军武卫,乘坐战舰,自科罗湾放洋,二十四日到澎湖。四月初一日到达台湾鹿耳门。门外有浅滩数十里,红毛兵又凿沉了船,阻塞港口。咱们的战舰开不进去。正在无法可施的当儿,忽然潮水大涨,众兵将欢声震天,诸舰涌进,在水寨港登岸。红毛兵就带了枪炮来打。国姓爷对大伙儿说,咱们倘若后退一步,给赶入大海,那就死无葬身之地。红毛鬼枪炮虽然厉害,大伙儿都须奋勇上前。众兵将齐奉号令,军师亲自领了我们冲锋。突然之间,我耳边好像打了几千百个霹雳,眼前烟雾瀰漫,前面的兄弟倒了一排。大家一慌乱,就逃了回来。”韦小宝道:“我第一次听见开红毛枪,也吓得一塌胡涂。”
‘It was a master’stroke of yours, Helmsman. It was the fifteenth year of Yong Li, the first day of the second month, when Marshal Coxinga launched the fleet from Keluo Bay. He arrived at the Pescador Islands on the twenty’fourth. By the first of the fourth month, the fleet was at Lu’er Men. Here the waters are shallow for several miles, and access to the harbour had been blocked by the Dutch, who had run a boat aground right across the harbour mouth. Our boats simply could not get in. Then, as if from nowhere, there was a strong tide that simply rushed our boats forward and we were able to land at the port of Shuizhai. Marshal Coxinga spoke to the troops, greatly raising their morale and urging them to resist the deadly fire’power of the Dutch. It was you, Helmsman, who led our first charge. The next thing we knew, there were great explosions all around us like claps of thunder, and a huge cloud of smoke ahead of us. Our front line fell and we all fled in panic.”I know the feeling,’ muttered Trinket to himself.

林兴珠道:“我正如没头苍蝇般乱了手脚,只听军师大声叫道:‘红毛鬼放了一枪,要上火药装铅子,大伙儿冲啊!’我忙领着众兄弟冲了上去,果然红毛鬼一时来不及放枪。可是刚冲到跟前,红毛鬼又放枪了,我立即滚在地下躲避,不少兄弟却给打死了,没有法子,只得退了下来。红毛鬼却也不敢追赶。这一仗阵亡了好几百兄弟,大家垂头丧气,一想到红毛鬼的枪炮就心惊肉跳。”韦小宝道:“后来终于是军师想出了妙计?”
‘Just as we were all buzzing around like headless flies,’ continued Lin Xingzhu, ‘you cried out’ “The Dutch soldiers are reloading their guns. Now’s our chance! Charge!” And so I rallied my men and we charged, and sure enough at first the Dutch were unable to fire at us. It was only when we were almost on top of them that they fired. … I ducked and rolled along the ground out of the line of fire, but a lot of my men were shot down. We had no option but to retreat again. The Dutch hadn’t the courage to come after us. We lost several hundred men, and our morale was pretty low, I can tell you. Those guns of theirs had us really scared.”So,’ Trinket burst in breathlessly, ‘then the Helmsman had a brilliant plan. . . .’

林兴珠叫道:“是啊。那天晚上,军师把我了去,问我:‘林兄弟,你是武夷山地堂门的弟子,是不是?’我说是的。军师道:“日里红毛鬼一放枪,你立即滚倒在地,身法很敏捷啊。’我十分惭愧,说道:‘回军师的话:小将不敢贪生怕死,明日上阵,决计不敢再滚倒躲避,折了我大明官兵的威风。否则的话,你杀我头好了。”韦小宝道:“林大哥,我猜军师不是怪你贪生怕死,是赞你滚地躲避的法子很好,要你传授给众兄弟。”
‘Yes, you’re absolutely right. That evening he called me over. “Brother Lin,” he said, “I should guess you studied with the Ditang School of kungfu of Fujian Province'” I told him that he was right. I had. He referred to my ducking and rolling under enemy fire. I felt a great sense of shame-”There was no need to!’ chipped in Trinket. ‘I bet the Helmsman was about to praise you for it and suggest that you teach it to all the others.’

陈近南向他瞧了一眼,脸露微笑,颇有赞许之意。林兴珠一拍大腿,大声道:“是啊,你是军师的徒弟,果然是明师出高徒……”韦小宝笑道:“你是我师父的部下,果然是强将手下无弱兵。”众人都笑了起来。林兴珠道:“那天晚上军师当真是这般吩咐。他说‘你不可会错了意。我见你的燕青十八翻、松鼠草上飞的身法挺合用,可以滚到敌人身前,用单刀斫他们的腿。有一套地堂刀法,你练得怎样?’我听军师不是责骂我胆小怕死,这才放心,说道:‘回军师的话:地堂刀法小将是练过的,当年师父说道,倘若上阵打仗,可以滚过去斫敌人的马脚,不过红毛鬼不骑马,只怕无用。’军师道:‘红毛鬼虽没骑马,咱们斫他人脚,有何不可?’我一听之下,恍然大悟,连说:‘是,是,小将脑筋不灵,想不到这一点。’”韦小宝微微一笑,心想:“你师父教你这刀法可斫马脚,你就以为不能斫人脚,老兄的脑筋,果然不大灵光。”林兴珠道:“当时军师就命我演了一遍这刀法。他赞我练得还可以,说道:‘你的地堂门刀法身法,若没十多年的寒暑之功,练不到这地步,但咱们明天就要打仗,大伙儿要练,是来不及了。’我说:‘是。这地堂门刀法小将练得不好,不过的确已练了十几年。’军师说道:‘咱们赶筑土堤,用弓箭守住,你马上去教众兵将滚地上前、挥刀砍足的法子。只须教三四下招式,大伙儿熟练就可以了,地堂门中的深奥武功,一概不用教。’我接了军师将令,当晚先去教了本队士兵。第二天一早,红毛鬼冲来,给我们一阵弓箭射了回去。本队士兵把地堂刀法的基本五招练会了,转去传授别队的官兵。军师又吩咐大伙儿砍下树枝,扎成一面面盾牌,好挡红毛兵的铅弹。第四日早上,红毛兵又大举冲来,我们上去迎战,滚地前进,只杀得红毛鬼落花流水,战场上留下了几百条毛腿。赤嵌城守将红毛头的左腿也给砍了下来。这红毛头就此投降。后来再攻卫城,用的也是这法子。”
‘Yes! That’s exactly what he did!’ exclaimed Lin Xingzhu. ‘He said my Flying Squirrel Slide and my Weasel Tumble would be just the thing to bring our men right under the noses of the Dutch line. We could protect ourselves with our wicker shields; then we could tackle them with swords. He asked me if I knew any Ditang sword moves. I told him I did, but couldn’t see the use, since they mostly involved hacking at horses’ legs. But he said we could hack at mens’ legs instead. So that’s what we ended up doing. It took me a day or two to train the men. But when the Dutch troops next attacked, they had it coming to them! We left hundreds of hacked hairy Dutch limbs on the field of battle!’

马超兴喜道:“日后跟罗刹鬼子交锋打仗,便可用地堂功夫对付。”陈近南道:“然而情形有些不同。当年在台湾的红毛兵,不过三四千人,死一个,少一个。罗刹兵如来进犯,少说也有几万人,源源而来,杀不胜杀,再说,地堂刀法只能用于近战。罗刹兵如用大炮轰击,那也难以抵挡。”吴六奇点头称是,道:“依军师之见,该当如何?”他听陈近南对林兴珠引见之时不称自己为“香主”,料想林兴珠不是天地会中人,便也不以“总舵主”相称。陈近南道:“我中国地大人多,若无汉奸内应,外国人是极难打进来的。”众人都道:“正是。鞑子占我江山,全仗汉奸吴三桂带路。”陈近南道:“现今吴三桂又去跟罗刹国勾结,他起兵造反之时,咱们先一鼓作气的把他打垮,罗刹国没了内应,就不能贸然入侵。”马超兴道:“只是吴三桂倘若垮得太快,就不能跟鞑子打个两败俱伤。”陈近南道:“这也不错。但利害相权,比较起来,罗刹人比鞑子更加可怕。”
‘And do you think we can use the same technique against the Russians?’ asked Ma.’Conditions will not be the same,’ answered the Helmsman. ‘In the first place, there are so many more Russians than there were Dutch. There were only three or four thousand Dutch altogether. There would be ten or twenty times that number of Russians. Andthe technique would only work at close quarters, not with the sort of long’range cannon the Russians have got.’ ‘So what will we do?’ asked Wu. ‘As I see it, the key lies in removing their support within our own ranks, among our own people. It was the Satrap’s treason that made it possible for the Manchus to conquer our land. Now the Traitor is up to his old tricks. He’s proposing an alliance with the Russians. Get rid of him first, and we will have removed their prime source of strength.’ ‘But we must not strike against him too quickly,’ put in Ma. ‘Let him first fight the Tartars, and weaken them in the process.’ ‘I agree,’ replied the Helmsman. ‘But never forget that the Russians will be a lot harder to deal with than the Manchus.’

韦小宝道:“是啊。鞑子也是黄皮肤,黑眼睛,扁鼻头,跟我们没甚么两样,说的话也是一般。外国鬼子红毛绿眼睛,说起话来叽哩咕噜,有谁懂得?”众人谈了一会国家大事,天色渐明,风雨也已止歇。马超兴道:“大家衣衫都湿了,便请上岸去同饮一杯,以驱寒气。”陈近南道:“甚好。”这一场大风将小船吹出了三十余里,待得回到柳州,已近中午。众人在原来码头上岸。
‘Of course,’ chirped Trinket. The Tartars are not really that different from us’ they’ve got black eyes, yellow skin, flat noses, they even speak the same sort of language. But those foreign devils have got red hair and green eyes and talk gibberish-no one can understand a word they’re saying.’ They continued discussing the plight of their country well into the early hours of the morning. First light was dawning and the storm had by now completely abated. Ma invited them to return with him, change into some dry clothes, and drink a cup of wine to dispel the chill after the long cold night on the river. This the Helmsman accepted as an excellent propostion. The storm had blown their boat miles downstream, and it was almost midday before they were back in Liuzhou.

只见一人飞奔过来,叫道:“相公,你……你回来了。”正是双儿。她全身湿淋淋的,脸上满是喜色。韦小宝问:“你怎么在这里?”双儿道:“昨晚大风大雨,你坐了船出去,我好生放心不下,只盼相公早些平安回来。”韦小宝奇道:“你一直等在这里?”双儿道:“是。我……我……只担心……”韦小宝笑道:“担心我坐的船沉了?”双儿低声道:“我知道你福气大,船是一定不会沉的,不过……不过……”码头旁一个船夫笑道:“这位小总爷,昨晚半夜三更里风雨最大的时候,要雇我们的船出江,说是要寻人,先说给五十两银子,没人肯去,他又加到一百两。张老三贪钱,答应了,可是刚要开船,豁喇一声,大风吹断了桅杆。这么一来,可谁也不敢去了。他急得只是大哭。”韦小宝心下感动,握住双儿的手,说道:“双儿,你对我真好。”双儿胀红了脸,低下头去。
As they were disembarking, Doublet came rushing up, still wet through. ‘Master, you’re . . . back!’ Her face was a picture of joy. ‘What are you doing here?’ asked Trinket. ‘I was so worried about you yesterday evening on the river in that terrible storm.’ It transpired that she had even tried to hire a boat and set off in search of her master. But no one was willing to go out in such weather. Trinket took her by the hand. ‘You’re so thoughtful.’ She flushed and hung her head.

一行来到马超兴的下处,换过衣衫。陈近南吩咐马超兴派人去打听郑公子和冯锡范的下落。马超兴答应了,派人出去访查,跟着禀报家后堂的事务。马超兴摆下筵席,请陈近南坐了首席,吴六奇坐了次席。要请韦小宝坐第三席时,韦小宝道:“林大哥攻破台湾,地堂刀大砍红毛火腿,立下如此大功,兄弟就是站着陪他喝酒,也是心甘情愿。这样的英雄好汉,兄弟怎敢坐他上首?”拉着林兴珠坐了第三席。林兴珠大喜,心想军师这个徒弟年纪虽小,可着实够朋友。筵席散后,天地会四人又在厢房议事。陈近南吩咐道:“小宝,你有大事在身,你我师徒这次仍不能多聚,明天你就北上罢。”韦小宝道:“是。只可惜这一次又不能多听师父教诲。我本来还想听吴大哥说说他的英雄事迹,也只好等打平吴三桂之后,再听他说了。”吴六奇笑道:“你吴大哥没甚么英雄事迹,平生坏事倒是做了不少。若不是查伊璜先生一场教训,直到今日,我还是在为虎作伥、给鞑子卖命呢。”韦小宝取出吴三桂所赠的那支洋枪,对吴六奇道:“吴大哥,你这么远路来看兄弟,实在感激不尽,这把罗刹国洋枪,请你留念。”吴三桂本来送他两支,另一支韦小宝在领出沐剑屏时,交了给夏国相作凭证,此后匆匆离滇,不及要回。吴六奇谢了接过,依法装上火药铁弹,点火向着庭中施放一枪,火光一闪,砰的一声大响,庭中的青石板石屑纷飞,众人都吓了一跳。陈近南皱起眉头,心想:“罗刹国的火器竟然这等犀利,若是兴兵进犯,可真难以抵挡。”韦小宝取出四张五千两银票,交给马超兴,笑道:“马大哥,烦你代为请贵堂众位兄弟喝一杯酒。”马超兴笑道:“二万两银子?可太多了,喝三年酒也喝不完。”谢过收了。韦小宝跪下向陈近南磕头辞别。陈近南伸手扶起,拍拍他肩膀,笑道:“你很好,不枉了是我陈近南之徒。”
Once they reached Ma’s lodgings, and had changed into dry clothes, the Helmsman told Ma to send scouts to ascertain the current whereabouts of Feng Xifan and Zheng Keshuang. They all sat down to a good meal, and Trinket made a big thing of seating Lin Xingzhu, the ‘hero’ of the Taiwan campaign, in a seat of honour. He also, as a token of his esteem, presented old Wu with one of the two Russian pistols that the Satrap had given him in Kunming. (The other one he had left with General Xia as a surety, when the Little Countess was released. In his hurried departure from Kunming, he had not got round to asking for it back.) Wu loaded the pistol and fired a shot into the courtyard, shattering a slab of granite. Everyone was most impressed. Trinket knew he must lose no more time, and had to press on towards Peking. He knelt before the Helmsman, and kowtowed. Chen Jinnan raised him, and patted him on the shoulder. ‘I’m proud of you!’ he said with a fatherly smile.

韦小宝和他站得近了,看得分明,见他两鬓斑白,神色甚是憔悴,想是这些年来奔走江湖,大受风霜之苦,不由得心下难过,要想送些甚么东西给他,寻思:“师父是不要银子的,珠宝玩物,他也不爱。师父武功了得,也不希罕我的匕首和宝衣。”突然间一阵冲动,说道:“师父,有一件事要禀告你老人家。”吴六奇和马超兴知他师徒俩有话说,便即退出。韦小宝伸手到贴肉衣袋内,摸出一包物事,解开缚在包外的细绳,揭开一层油布,再揭开两层油纸,露出从八部《四十二章经》封皮中取出来的那些碎羊皮,说道:“师父,弟子没甚么东西孝敬你老人家,这包碎皮,请你收了。”
Trinket became aware, in that moment, of how the Helmsman had aged since their last encounter. His hair was greyer, and there was a careworn expression on his face. These had been trying times for him, as he rushed up and down the length of China, trying to bring together the fragmented strands of the Resistance. Trinket wanted to give him something to show his concern, but knew that the Helmsman would not be interested in anything material. His kungfu was so transcendant he had no need of magic waistcoat or adamantine dagger. Suddenly a thought came into his head. ‘Master, there is a matter I should like to speak to you about.’

The Helmsman Informed

陈近南甚感奇怪,问道:“那是甚么?”韦小宝于是说了碎皮的来历。陈近南越听脸色越郑重,听得太后、皇帝、鳌拜、西藏大喇嘛、独臂尼九难、神龙教主等等大有来头的人物,无不处心积虑的想得到这些碎皮,而其中竟隐藏着满清鞑子龙脉和大宝藏的秘密,当真是做梦也想不到之事。他细问经过情形,韦小宝一一说了,有些细节如神龙教教主教招、拜九难为师等情,自然略过不提。陈近南沉吟半晌,说道:“这包东西实是非同小可。我师徒俩带领会中兄弟,去掘了鞑子的龙脉,取出宝藏,兴兵起义,自是不世奇功。不过我即将回台,谒见王爷,这包东西带在身边,海道来回,或恐有失。此刻还是你收着。我回台之后,便来北京跟你相会,那时再共图大事。”
Trinket proceeded to extract a package from his inside pocket. He untied the string, and unwrapped layer after layer of oilskin paper. Finally, from inside the innermost layer, he produced a pile of tiny scraps of parchment-the entire collection contained within the covers of the Eight Sutras. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I wanted to give you a present, and this is all I can think of.’Chen Jinnan was most perplexed. ‘What on earth is it?’ Trinket told him the whole story of how he had collected the Eight Sutras, and the scraps of parchment which, once pieced together, would lead them to the secret treasure of the Manchus. The Helmsman listened to it all with an expression of the utmost gravity. It was impressive, the list of those who would have given anything to lay their hands on these scraps, and study the secret map. It included the Fake ‘Empress Dowager, the Emperor himself, Oboi (when he had been alive), the Great Tibetan Lama, the one’armed White Nun Tribulation, and the Great Leader of the Mystic Dragon Sect. Each and every one of them wanted the map, and dreamed of controlling the Dragon Lines of the Manchu destiny, of finding the buried Tartar treasure. Trinket told him everything he knew, omitting only one or two details that he thought might not meet with the Helmsman’s approval (such as the fact that he had signed on with a second Shifu-the White Nun; and had studied the Mystic Dragon Leader’s highly unorthodox kungfu style). Chen Jinnan expressed his profound appreciation of Trinket’s gesture, but considered it safer for Trinket to keep the precious scraps until his own return from Taiwan.

韦小宝道:“好!那么请师父尽快到北京来。”陈近南道:“你放心,我片刻也不停留。小宝,你师父毕生奔波,为的就是图谋兴复明室,眼见日子一天天的过去,百姓对前朝渐渐淡忘,鞑子小皇帝施政又很妥善,兴复大业越来越渺茫。想不到吴三桂终于要起兵造反,而你又得了这份藏宝图,那真是天大的转机。”说到这里,不由得喜溢眉梢。他本来神情郁郁,显得满怀心事,这时精神大振,韦小宝瞧着十分欢喜。陈近南又问:“你身上中的毒怎样了?减轻些了么?”韦小宝道:“弟子服了神龙教洪教主给的解药,毒性是完全解去了。”陈近南喜道:“那好极了。你这一双肩头,挑着反清复明的万斤重担,务须自己保重。”说着双手按住他肩头。韦小宝道:“是。弟子乱七八糟,甚么也不懂的。得到这些碎皮片,也不过碰上运气罢了。每一次都好比我做庄,吃了闲家的夹棍,天杠吃天杠,别十吃别十,吃得舒舒服服。”陈近南微微一笑,道:“你回到北京之后,半夜里闩住了门窗,慢慢把这些皮片拼将起来,凑成一图,然后将图形牢牢记在心里,记得烂熟,再无错误之后,又将碎皮拆乱,包成七八包,藏在不同的所在。小宝,一个人运气有好有坏,不能老是一帆风顺。如此大事,咱们不能专靠好运道。”韦小宝道:“师父说得不错。好比我赌牌九做庄,现今已赢了八铺,如果一记通赔,这包碎皮片给人抢去了,岂不是全军覆没,铲了我的庄?因此连赢八铺之后,就要下庄。”陈近南心想,这孩子赌性真重,微笑道:“你懂得这道理就好。赌钱输赢,没甚么大不了。咱们图谋大事,就算把性命送了,那也是等闲之事。但这包东西,天下千千万万人的身家性命都在上面,那可万万输不得。”韦小宝道:“是啊,我赢定之后,把银子捧回家去,埋在床底下,斩手指不赌了,那就永远输不出去。”陈近南走到窗边,抬头望天,轻轻说道:“小宝,我听到这消息之后,就算立即死了,心里也欢喜得紧。”
‘I have to cross the Straits, and visit Prince Zheng. But it will not be long before I am back in Peking. You have brought me such good news! I had been concerned that with the passage of time our great cause was losing momentum. With every day, memories of the Ming grow dimmer, and this young Manchu Emperor, to everyone’s surprise, is proving himself to be quite a capable ruler. But the Satrap’s rebellion will change everything! And now, with this map, we hold the key! Our cause has been greatly advanced!’ Trinket was so happy to see his Master’s careworn face lighten for a moment. ‘When you are in Peking,’ the Helmsman went on to instruct him, ‘lock yourself away somewhere and piece together the map. Then memorize it exactly. And divide the pieces up again into eight lots, and hide each lot in a different place. The secret must not on any account fall into the wrong hands. We must take no chances.’ He sighed. Trinket, this is most excellent news that you bring. If I were to die today, I should die a much happier man.’

韦小宝心想:“往日见到师父,他总是精神十足,为甚么这一次老是想到要死?”问道:“师父,你在延平郡王府办事,心里不大痛快,是不是?”陈近南转过身来,脸有诧异之色,问道:“你怎知道?”韦小宝道:“我见师父似乎不大开心。但想世上再为难的事情,你也不放在心上。江湖上英雄好汉,又个个对你十分敬重。我想你连皇帝也不怕,普天之下只郑王爷一人,能给你气受。”陈近南叹了口气,隔了半晌,说道:“王爷对我一向礼敬有加,十分倚重。”
‘Shifu’ protested Trinket, ‘you shouldn’t speak like that! I know that you have many thoughts on your mind. There are things going on at Prince Zheng’s court that don’t please you. . . . Am I right?’ The Helmsman seemed taken aback. ‘How did you know?’ He added with a sigh’ ‘Prince Zheng has always treated me with the greatest respect and courtesy.’ Trinket knew that the Helmsman was referring to the current Prince of Yanping and de facto ruler of Taiwan, Zheng ling, eldest son and heir of the Great Marshal Zheng Chenggong, or Coxinga. The Prince had two sons. His second son was the insufferable Zheng Keshuang.

韦小宝道:“嗯,定是郑二公子这家伙向你摆他妈的臭架子。”陈近南道:“当年国姓爷待我恩重如山,我早誓死相报,对他郑家的事,那是鞠躬尽瘁,死而后已。郑二公子年纪轻,就有甚么言语不当,我也不放在心上。王爷的世子,英明爱众,不过乃是庶出。”韦小宝不懂,问道:“甚么庶出?”陈近南道:“庶出就是并非王妃所生。”韦小宝道:“啊,我明白了,是王爷的小老婆生的。”陈近南觉他出言粗俗,但想他没读过书,也就不加理会,说道:“是了。当年国姓爷逝世,跟这件事也很有关连,因此王太妃很不喜欢世子,一再吩咐王爷,要废了世子,立二公子做世子。”韦小宝大摇其头,说道:“二公子胡涂没用,又怕死,不成的!这家伙是个混蛋,脓包,他妈的混帐王八蛋。那天他还想害死师父您老人家呢。”
‘I’ll bet it’s that brat of a second son of his who’s been getting up your nose.’ ‘He is young, it is true, and often says things without thinking. But he is the Great Marshal’s grandson all the same. His elder brother, Sir Zheng Kezang, is a fine man. Unfortunately he is only a concubine’s son. That is why the late Marshal’s widow, the Lady Dong, wanted to disinherit him and set up the second son in his place as Heir. The second son has the good fortune to be handsome, and the apple of his grandmother’s eye.’ ‘Him! Handsome! An apple!’ Trinket was truly disgusted. ‘Why he’s no more than a putrid tamardy pickled turtle’s egg! He’s just a stinking piece of pus! He tried to kill you, for heaven’s sake!’

陈近南脸色微微一沉,斥道:“小宝,嘴里放干净些!你这不是在骂王爷么?”韦小宝“啊”的一声,按住了嘴,说道:“该死!王八蛋这三字可不能随便乱骂。”陈近南道:“两位公子比较起来,二公子确是处处及不上他哥哥,只是相貌端正,嘴头又甜,很得祖母的欢心……”韦小宝一拍大腿,说道:“是啊,妇道人家甚么也不懂,见了个会拍马屁的小白脸,就当是宝贝了。”陈近南不知他意指阿珂,摇了摇头,说道:“改立世子,王爷是不答应的,文武百官也都劝王爷不可改立。因此两位公子固然兄弟失和,太妃和王爷母子之间,也常常为此争执。太妃有时心中气恼,还叫了我们去训斥一顿。”韦小宝道:“这老……”他“老婊子”三字险些出口,总算及时缩住,忙改口道:“老太太们年纪一大,这就胡涂了。师父,郑王爷的家事你既然理不了,又不能得罪他们,索性给他来个各人自扫门前雪,别管他家瓦上霜。”陈近南叹道:“我这条命不是自己的了,早已卖给了国姓爷。人生于世,受恩当报。当年国姓爷以国土待我,我须当以国士相报。眼前王爷身边,人材日渐凋落,我决不能独善其身,舍他而去。唉!大业艰难,也不过做到如何便如何罢了。”说到这里,又有些意兴萧索起来。韦小宝想说些话来宽慰,却一时无从说起,过了一会,说道:“昨天我们本来想把郑克爽这么……”说着举起手来,一掌斩落,“……一刀两断,倒也干净爽快。但马大哥说,这样一来,可教师父难以做人,负了个甚么‘撕主’的罪名。”陈近南道:“是“弑主’。马兄弟这话说得很对,倘若你们杀了郑公子,我怎有面目去见王爷?他日九泉之下,也见不了国姓爷。”韦小宝道:“师父,你几时带我去瞧瞧郑家这王太妃,对付这种老太太,弟子倒有几下散手。”心想自己把假太后这老婊子收拾得服服贴贴,连皇太后也对付得了,区区一个王太妃又何足道哉。陈近南微微一笑,说道:“胡闹!”拉着他手,走出房去。
Trinket!’ The Helmsman’s face darkened. ‘You should not speak like that! Never forget that it is Prince Zheng’s son you are talking about, the late Marshal’s grandson! It saddens me that there should be so much dissension and bickering within the ranks of the Prince’s family. It seriously weakens our cause.’ ‘Shifu’ said Trinket, ‘I think it’s the late Marshal’s widow, that Lady Ding’Dong, or whatever her name is, who’s partly to blame, for being so partial and meddling in things that don’t concern her. If you ask me, you ought to leave them to sort out their own problems. As for old widow Dong, why not let me have a go at her myself! I’m not bad at dealing with old whores like her!’ Chen Jinnan shook his head and sighed. ‘I cannot possibly do that! I owe everything to the late Marshal. I could never betray him. I could not abandon his son Prince Zheng when he most needs my support. I could never strike the Marshal’s grandson, Sir Zheng, however badly he behaves-much less take his life!’ However hard Trinket tried to cheer him up, the Helmsman seemed very gloomy.

注:台湾延平郡王郑经长子克是陈永华之婿,刚毅果断,郑经立为太子,出征时命其监国。克执法一秉至公,诸叔及诸弟多怨之,扬言其母假娠,克为屠夫李某之子。郑经及陈永华死后,克为董太妃及诸弟杀害。

当下韦小宝向师父、吴六奇、马超兴告辞。吴马二人送出门去。吴六奇道:“韦兄弟,你这个小丫头双儿,我已跟她拜了把子,结成了兄妹。”韦小宝和马超兴都吃了一惊,转头看双儿时,只见她低下了头,红晕双颊,神色甚是忸怩。韦小宝笑道:“吴大哥好会说笑话。”吴六奇正色道:“不是说笑。我这个义妹忠肝义胆,胜于须眉,正是我辈中人。做哥哥的对她好生相敬。我见你跟‘百胜刀王’胡逸之拜把子,拜得挺有劲,我见样学样,于是要跟双儿拜把子。她可说甚么也不肯,说是高攀不上。我一个老叫化,有甚么高攀、低攀了?我非拜不可,她只好答应。”马超兴道:“刚才你两位在那边房中说话,原来是商量拜把子的事。”吴六奇道:“正是。双儿妹子叫我不可说出来,哈哈,结拜兄妹,光明正大,有甚么不能说的?”韦小宝听他如此说,才知是真,看着吴六奇,又看看双儿,很是奇怪。吴六奇道:“韦兄弟,从今而后,你对我这义妹可得另眼相看,倘若得罪了她,我可要跟你过不去。”双儿忙道:“不……不会的,相公他……他待我很好。”韦小宝笑道:“有你这样一位大哥撑腰,玉皇大帝、阎罗老子也不敢得罪她了。”三人哈哈大笑,拱手而别。
It was time for Trinket to take his leave. The two Lodge Masters and the Helmsman saw him off. As they reached the doorway, Beggar Wu turned to Trinket’. There is something I need to tell you, Brother Wei. That young maid of yours, well, she and I are sworn brother and sister now.’ Trinket and Ma looked thunderstruck. Doublet was not far off, standing there with her head downcast, and a maidenly flush on her cheeks. It transpired that old Wu had been so deeply impressed by the maid’s courage and devotion, that he had in all sincerity proposed sealing a bond between them, in part following the example of Trinket and Hu Yizhi, the besotted Peasant. They had sworn an oath, and become ‘brother and sister’. Doublet had, in characteristic fashion, gone along with the idea, while protesting her own insignificance and insisting that he tell no one. ‘Tell no one!’ Wu had let out a hearty laugh. ‘Why, it’s something to be damned proud of! Of course I’ll tell people!’

韦小宝回到下处,问起拜把子的事,双儿很是害羞,说道:“这位吴……吴爷……”韦小宝道:“甚么吴爷?大哥就是大哥,拜了把子,难道能不算数么?”双儿道:“是。他说觉得我不错,定要跟我结成兄妹。”从怀里取出那把洋枪,说道:“他说身上没带甚么好东西,这把洋枪是相公送给他的,他转送给我,相公,还是你带着防身罢。”韦小宝连连摇手,道:“是你大哥给你的,又怎可还我?”想起吴六奇行事出人意表,不由得啧啧称奇,又想:“他名字都叫“六奇’,难怪,难怪!不知另外五奇是甚么?”
Trinket spoke to Doublet, who confirmed the story, adding: ‘Mister Wu gave me-‘ ‘Mister Wu!’ interjected Trinket. ‘Come now, surely you mean Brother Wu?’ ‘He said the only thing he had to give me was this.’ She produced the Russian pistol that Trinket had given Wu in the first place. ‘I think I should give it back to you, Master. You may need it one day.’ But Trinket absolutely refused to accept it.

The Art of Escape

一行人一路缓缓回京。路上九难传了韦小宝一路拳法,叫他练习。但韦小宝浮动跳脱,说甚么也不肯专心学武。九难吩咐他试演,但见他徒具架式,却是半分真实功夫也没学到,叹道:“你我虽有师徒之名,但瞧你性子,实不是学武的材料。这样罢,我铁剑门中有一项‘神行百变’功夫,是我恩师木桑道人所创,乃是天下轻功之首。这项轻功须以高深内功为根基,谅你也不能领会。你没一门傍身之技,日后遇到危难,如何得了?我只好教你一些逃跑的法门。”
Trinket and his party made their way by slow stages northwards, back to the Capital. Occasionally the White Nun would give him some Martial Arts training. But Trinket was his usual fickle, unconcentrated self. She could see he was just going through the motions. ‘I despair of you!’ she said. ‘You’ll never master anything. What can we do with you’ I’d like to have been able to teach you the branch of Iron Sword kungfu known as the Hundred Changes, but most of it requires a proper mastery of Inner Force, which you’ll never have. What I could do is to teach you the part which doesn’t require too much in the way of Inner Force’ that’s the part called the Art of the Hundred Flights, or the Secret of Escape.’

韦小宝大喜,说道:“脚底能抹油,打架不用愁。师父教了我逃跑的法门,那定是谁也追不上的了。”九难微微摇头,说道:“‘神行百变’,世间无双,当年威震武林,今日却让你用来脚底抹油,恩师地下有知,定是不肯认你这个没出息的徒孙。不过除此之外,我也没甚么你学得会的本事传给你。”韦小宝笑道:“师父收了我这个没出息的徒儿,也算倒足了大霉。不过赌钱有输有赢,师父这次运气不好,收了我这徒儿,算是大输一场。老天爷有眼,保佑师父以后连赢八场,再收八个威震天下的好徒儿。”九难嘿嘿一笑,拍拍他肩头,说道:“也不一定武功好就是人好。你性子不喜学武,这是天性使然,无可勉强。你除了油腔滑调之外,总也算是我的好徒儿。”
Poor Trinket was feeling rather crestfallen, and aware of his own failure. ‘My poor Shifu, you’ve had rotten luck, taking on such a hopeless disciple as me! I just pray that your next batch of disciples will be able to master all the things I can’t.’ She gave a little laugh and patted him on the shoulder. Trinket, you can’t help the way you are. Not everyone is born to be good at kungfu. You’re a good disciple, in your own way’ you just let your mouth run away with you rather.’

韦小宝大喜,心中一阵激动,便想将那些碎羊皮取出来交给九难,随即心想:“这些皮片我既已给了男师父,便不能再给女师父了。好在两位师父都是在想赶走鞑子,光复汉人江山,不论给谁都是一样。”当下九难将“神行百变”中不需内功根基的一些身法步法,说给韦小宝听。说也奇怪,一般拳法掌法,他学时浅尝辄止,不肯用心钻研,这些逃跑的法门,他却大感兴趣,一路上学得津津有味,一空下来便即练习。有时还要轻功卓绝的徐天川在后追赶,自己东跑西窜的逃避。徐天川见他身法奇妙,好生佩服。初时几下子就追上了,但九难不断传授新的诀窍,到得直隶省境,徐天川说甚么也已追他不上了。
九难见他与“神行百变”这项轻功颇有缘份,倒也大出意料之外,说道:“看来你天生是个逃之夭夭的胚子。”韦小宝笑道:“弟子练不成‘神行百变’,练成‘神行抹油’,总算不是一事无成。”他冲了一碗新茶,捧到九难面前,问道:“师父,师祖木桑道长既已逝世,当今天下,自以你老人家武功第一了?”九难摇头道:“不是。‘天下武功第一’六字,何敢妄称?”眼望窗外,幽幽的道:“有一个人,称得上‘天下武功第一’。”韦小宝忙问:“那是谁?弟子定要拜见拜见。”九难道:“他……他……”突然间眼圈一红,默然不语。韦小宝道:“这位前辈是谁?弟子日后倘若有缘见到,好恭恭敬敬的向他磕几个头。”九难挥挥手,叫他出去。韦小宝甚是奇怪,慢慢踱了出去,心想:“师父的神色好生古怪,难道这个天下武功第一之人,是她的老姘头么?”九难这时心中所想的,正是那个远在万里海外的袁承志。她对袁承志落花有意,袁承志却情有别钟。二十多年来这番情意深藏心底,这时却又给韦小宝撩拨了起来。次日韦小宝去九难房中请安,却见她已不别而去,留下了一张字条。
Trinket was very touched, and was almost tempted to show her his great treasure too-the precious parchment scraps. After all, she too was devoted to the cause. But then he thought better of it. He turned out to be a brilliant student of the Art of the Hundred Flights. Here was a branch of kungfu that really appealed to him. Even Apothecary Xu, the Eight’Armed Ape, famous among the Triads for his Flying skills, was impressed by Trinket’s progress. And by the time they arrived in the metropolitan province of Zhili, and the White Nun had taught Trinket a few more tricks, Xu could not catch up with him at all. Trinket was pleased with himself. And then one morning, when Trinket went in to call on his Shifu, she was not there. She had gone on her way alone, leaving nothing but the briefest of notes.

In the Capital Once More

韦小宝拿去请徐天川一念,原来纸条上写着“好自为之”四个字。韦小宝心中一阵怅惘,又想:“昨天我问师父谁是天下武功第一,莫非这句话得罪了她?”不一日,一行人来到北京。建宁公主和韦小宝同去谒见皇帝。康熙早已接到奏章,已复旨准许吴应熊来京完婚,这时见到妹子和韦小宝,心下甚喜。建宁公主扑上前去,抱住了康熙,放声大哭,说道:“吴应熊那小子欺侮我。”
When they reached Peking, Princess Ning and Trinket went straight to the Palace to report to the Emperor. Kang Xi had already given his permission for his sister and Young Wu to be married in the Capital. He was pleased to see her and Trinket again. She threw her arms around him and burst into tears.’That horrid man wasn’t nice to me at all!’

康熙笑道:“这小子如此大胆,待我打他的屁股。他怎么欺侮你了?”公主哭道:“你问小桂子好了。他欺侮我,他欺侮我!皇帝哥哥,你非给我作主不可。”一面哭,一面连连顿足。康熙笑道:“好,你且回自己屋里去歇歇,我来问小桂子。”建宁公主早就和韦小宝商议定当,见了康熙之后,如何奏报吴应熊无礼之事。一等公主退出,韦小宝便详细说来。康熙皱了眉头,一言不发的听完,沉思半晌,说道:“小桂子,你好大胆!”韦小宝吓了一跳,忙道:“奴才不敢。”康熙道:“你跟公主串通了,胆敢骗我。”韦小宝道:“没有啊,奴才怎敢瞒骗皇上?”康熙道:“吴应熊对公主无礼,你自然并未亲见,怎能凭了公主一面之辞,就如此向我奏报?”韦小宝心道:“乖乖不得了,小皇帝好厉害,瞧出了其中破绽。”忙跪下磕头,说道:“皇上明见万里。吴应熊对公主如何无礼,奴才果然没有亲见,不过当时许多人站在公主窗外,大家都是亲耳听见的。”康熙道:“那更加胡闹了。吴应熊这人我见过两次,他精明能干,是个人才。他又不很年轻了,房里还少得了美貌的姬妾?怎会大胆狂妄,对公主无礼。哼,公主的脾气我还不知道?定是她跟吴应熊争吵起来,割了……割了他妈的卵蛋。”
Kang Xi laughed.’Why, then I’ll have to give him a good spanking! What’s he been doing to you?”Ask Laurie. Brother, you’ve got to help me!’She was sobbing and stamping her foot. Kang Xi smiled.’You go to your room and have a rest. I’ll talk to Laurie about it.’When the two of them were alone, Trinket told the whole story, as he and the Princess had agreed it should be told. Kang Xi frowned. After a moment’s silence, he looked at Trinket”You’ve got a nerve, haven’t you! Did the two of you really think you could pull the wool over my eyes?’Trinket fell to the ground and began kowtowing frantically. Kang Xi took him to task. ‘I know exactly what happened-I know my sister well enough. And I know Young Wu too. He’s a man of the world. He’d never be such a fool as to try and rape a Princess! No, she made a scene, she picked a fight, and then she cut off his thing, and his tamardy testicles!’

说到这里,忍不住哈哈大笑。韦小宝也笑了起来,站起身来,说道:“这种事情,公主是不便细说的,奴才自然也不敢多问。公主怎么说,奴才就怎么禀告。”康熙点点头,道:“那也说得是。吴应熊这小子受了委屈,你传下旨去,叫他们在京里择日完婚罢,满了月之后,再回云南。”韦小宝道:“皇上,完婚不打紧,吴三桂这老小子要造反,可不能让公主回云南去。”康熙不动声色,点点头道:“吴三桂果然要反,你见到甚么?”韦小宝于是将吴三桂如何跟西藏、蒙古、罗刹国、神龙教诸方勾结的情形一一说了。康熙神色郑重,沉吟不语,过了好一会,才道:“这奸贼!竟勾结了这许多外援!”韦小宝也早知这事十分棘手,不敢作声。再过一会,康熙又问:“后来怎样?”
He was unable to stop himself from bursting out laughing. Trinket laughed too. They neither of them had much affection for the Little Traitor. ‘We’ll have to go through with things now,’ continued Kang Xi. ‘You see to it. Let them get married, and then after a month they can both go back to Kunming.’ ‘I’m not sure about them going back to Kunming,’ said Trinket. ‘Not with Satrap Wu planning this rebellion of his.’ Kang Xi’s face registered no expression. He merely nodded. ‘So what have you seen that makes you so certain of the Satrap’s intentions?’ Trinket described in some detail Wu Sangui’s plans to form an unholy alliance with the Tibetans and Mongols in the west and north’west, the Russians in the north, and the Mystic Dragon Sect off the eastern coast. Kang Xi listened to all this intently, without uttering a syllable. Then finally he exclaimed’ The utter scoundrel! So that’s what he’s been busy doing all this time!’ Trinket was silent. ‘Well?’ asked Kang Xi. ‘What else?’

韦小宝说道已将蒙古王子的使者擒来,述说自己如何假装吴三桂的小儿子而骗出真相,吴应熊如何想夺回罕帖摩,在公主住处放火,反而惨遭阉割,自己又如何派遣部属化装为王府家将,在妓院中争风吃腊、假装杀死罕帖摩。康熙听得悠然伸往,说道:“这倒好玩得紧。”又道:“吴三桂这人,我没见过。那日宫中传出父王宾天的讯息,吴三桂带了重兵,来京祭拜。我原想见他一见,可是几名顾命大臣防他拥兵入京,忽然生变,要他在北京城外搭了孝棚拜祭,不许他进北京城。”说到这里,站起身来,来回踱步,说道:“鳌拜这厮见事极不明白。如果担心吴三桂入京生变,只须下旨要他父子入京拜祭,大军驻扎在城外,他还能有甚么作为?他倘若不敢进城,那是他自己礼数缺了。不许他进城,那明明是跟他说:‘我们怕了你的大军,怕你进京造反,你还是别进来罢!’嘿嘿,示弱之至!吴三桂知道朝廷对他疑忌,又怕了他,岂有不反之理?他的反谋,只怕就种因于此。”韦小宝听康熙这么一剖析,打从心坎儿里佩服出来,说道:“当时倘若他见了皇上,皇上好好开导他一番,说不定他便不敢造反了。”康熙摇头道:“那时我年纪幼小,不懂军国大事,一见之后,没甚么厉害的话跟他说,他瞧我不起,只有反得更快。”当下详细询问吴三桂的形貌举止,又问:“他书房那张白老虎皮到底是怎样的?”韦小宝大是奇怪,描述了那张白老虎皮的模样,说道:“皇上连这等小事也知道。”康熙微笑不语,又问起吴三桂的兵马部署,左右用事之人及十大总兵的性情才干;问话之中,显得对吴三桂的情状所知甚详,手下大将哪一个贪钱,哪一个好色,哪一个勇敢,哪一个胡涂,无不了然。韦小宝既惊且佩,说道:“皇上,你没去过云南,可是平西王府内府外的事情,知道得比奴才还多。”突然恍然大悟,道:“啊,是了,皇上在昆明派得有不少探子。”康熙笑道:“这叫做知己知彼,百战百胜啊。他一心想要造反,难道咱们就毫不理会?小桂子,你这趟功劳很大,探明了吴三桂跟西藏、蒙古、罗刹国勾结。这桩大秘密,我那些探子就查不到。他们只能查小事,查不到大事。”韦小宝全身骨头大轻,说道:“那全仗皇上洪福齐天。”康熙道:“把那罕帖摩带进宫来,让我亲自审问。”
Trinket reported that they had brought with them back to Peking Hatiemo, the Mongol Prince’s envoy to Kunming. He described their whole escapade in Kunming with great gusto. Kang Xi seemed to find it all most entertaining. ‘What fun it must all have been!’ Kang Xi went on to ask Trinket a whole series of questions about Wu Sangui and his set’up in Kunming. He even asked about the rare black and white tiger skin in the Satrap’s study. Trinket was amazed. Kang Xi seemed to know virtually all there was to be known about the Satrap and his chief ministers, even though he’d never actually met him. ‘You seem very well informed, Majesty! I suppose you’ve got a whole network of spies working for you in Kunming?’ ‘”Know yourself, and above all know your enemy, and you will never be defeated.” Those are the words of our great strategist of olden times, Master Sun, in his famous treatise The Art of War. But you did well, Laurie. What you have found out about this alliance is of the utmost importance. None of my spies knew about that. They only picked up petty details. They couldn’t see the wood for the trees.’ Kang Xi told Trinket to have Hatiemo sent in, so that he could question him personally.

韦小宝答应了,率领十名御前侍卫,将罕帖摩送到上书房来。康熙一见到,便以蒙古话相询。罕帖摩听到蒙古话,既感惊奇,又觉亲切,眼见到宫中的派势,再也不敢隐瞒,一五一十,都将实情说了。康熙一连问了两个多时辰,除蒙古和吴三桂勾结的详情外,又细问蒙古的兵力部署、钱粮物产、山川地势、风土人情、以及蒙古各旗王公谁精明,谁平庸,相互间谁跟谁有仇,谁跟谁有亲。韦小宝在一旁侍候,听得二人叽哩咕噜的说个不休,罕帖摩一时显得十分佩服,一时又显得害怕,到最后却跪下来不住磕头,似是感恩之极。康熙命御前侍卫带下去监禁。一名小太监送上一碗参汤。康熙接过来喝了,对小太监道:“你给韦副总管也斟一碗来。”韦小宝磕头谢恩,喝了参汤。
He received the Mongol in his study, and spoke to him in fluent Mongolian (a language not far removed from his native Manchu). Hatty was deeply impressed by the grandeur of the surroundings, and at the same time moved by the fact that he was being addressed in his own language. He told the Emperor everything he wanted to know. Kang Xi kept him there for hours, and quite apart from the Mongol connection with the Satrap, he asked him a host of questions about the Mongols themselves’ their military organization, eating habits, the currency they used, what the countryside looked like, and questions about any number of Mongol customs that he was curious about. He wanted to know about the different princes or dzassaks in command of the various Mongol Banners (or khoshun, as they were known), which ones were smart, which ones were so so, which were ill’disposed to each other, which were joined by bonds of friendship. Trinket was watching all this from the sidelines, unable to make out a single word of their outlandish chatter. The interview finally came to an end, and Hatiemo fell to his knees and performed a series of kowtows. Kang Xi sent for a Palace Guard to escort him back to his quarters in prison. A junior eunuch brought in a bowl of ginseng broth for the Emperor. Kang Xi ordered him to serve Colonel Wei a bowl of it too.

Of Jesuits and Cannon

只听得书房外脚步响声,一名小太监道:“启禀皇上:南怀仁、汤若望侍候皇上。”康熙点点头。小太监传呼出去,进来了两个身材高大的外国人,跪下向康熙磕头。韦小宝大是奇怪,心想:“怎么有外国鬼子来到宫里,真是奇哉怪也。”
There was the sound of footsteps outside the Imperial study, and another junior eunuch came in to report that two of the Emperor’s western Jesuit advisors had come to pay their respects. These Jesuit priests had received favourable treatment from Kang Xi ever since he had taken over the reins of government from Oboi. The two most distinguished members of the fraternity were the elderly German Adam Van Schall, whom Kang Xi had literally saved from Lingering Death; and the younger Belgian, Ferdinand Verbiest. Both men (like the majority of Jesuits in China at the time) were referred to by their Chinese names’ in Schall’s case, Tang Ruowang or Father Tang, in Verbiest’s Nan Huairen or Father Nan. Kang Xi nodded, and the two men entered. They were both of tall stature, and wore long gowns similar to those worn by high’ranking Chinese mandarins. They knelt before the Emperor and kowtowed. Trinket was greatly bemused. ‘What the hell are these foreign devils doing in the Palace, dressed up as Chinese?’ he wondered. ‘Weird!’

两个外国人叩拜后,从怀中各取出一本书卷,放在康熙桌上。那个年纪较轻、名叫南怀仁的外国人道:“皇上,今儿咱们再说大炮发射的道理。”韦小宝听他一口京片子,清脆流利,不由得“咦”的一声,惊奇之极,心道:“希奇希奇真希奇,鬼子不会放洋屁。”康熙向他一笑,低头瞧桌上书卷。南怀仁站在康熙之侧,手指卷册,解释了起来。康熙听到不懂的所在,便即发问。南怀仁讲了半个时辰,另一个老年白胡子外国人汤若望接着讲天文历法,也讲了半个时辰,两人磕头退出。
When they had finished kowtowing, they each stepped forward and deposited a scroll on Kang Xi’s desk. It was the younger of the two, Verbiest, who spoke first’ ‘Majesty, we have come to continue our explanations of the principles of cannon fire.’ Trinket let out a little gasp of astonishment. Not only was this foreign devil allowed into the Palace, and into the Imperial presence, he also spoke the most perfect, the crispest, the most fluent Mandarin Chinese. It was one hundred percent Peking brogue, without the slightest trace of a foreign accent. ‘Stone the tamardy crows!’ he muttered silently to himself. ‘I never thought I’d live to see the day! Why, these foreign devils probably even fart like us Chinese!’ Kang Xi meanwhile smiled at Verbiest and examined the scroll. Verbiest stood by the Emperor’s elbow, and began his little lecture, pointing from time to time at the scroll and the blueprint on it. Whenever Kang Xi failed to understand anything, he would ask for a more detailed explanation. This went on for about an hour. Then it was the turn of the older man, Schall, to expound some of the basic principles of astronomy and the science of the calendar. His discourse also lasted about an hour, after which they both kowtowed again and took their leave.

康熙笑道:“外国人说咱们中国话,你听着很希奇,是不是?”韦小宝道:“奴才本来很奇怪,后来仔细想想,也不奇怪了。圣天子百神呵护。罗刹国图谋不轨,上天便降下两个会说中国话的洋鬼子来辅佐圣朝,制造枪炮火器,扫平罗刹。”康熙道:“你心思倒也机灵。不过洋鬼子会说中国话,却不是天生的。那个老头儿,在前明天启年间就来到中国了,他是日耳曼人。那年轻的是比利时人,是顺治年间来的。他们都是耶稣会教士,来中国传教的。要传教,就得学说中国话。”韦小宝道:“原来如此。奴才一直在担心罗刹的火器厉害。今天一听这外国人甚么大炮短铳,说得头头是道,这可就放心啦。”康熙在书房中缓缓踱步,说道:“罗刹人是人,我们也是人,他们能造枪炮,我们一样也能造,只不过我们一直不懂这法子罢了。当年我们跟明朝在辽东打仗,明兵有大炮,我们很吃了些苦头。太祖皇帝就为炮火所伤,龙驭宾天。可是明朝的天下,还不是给我们拿下来了?可见枪炮是要人来用的,用的人不争气,枪炮再厉害也是无用。”
When they had gone, Kang Xi turned to Trinket. Their Chinese is pretty amazing, isn’t it! They’ve been here in the Capital for quite some time. The older one arrived at the very end of the Ming dynasty. He’s from a Western country called Germany. The younger one arrived during my late father’s reign. He’s from Belgium. They are both priests. That’s why they learned Chinese-to help them preach their religious beliefs.’ Trinket nodded. ‘Well, I’m mighty relieved they know so much about cannon!’ he declared. ‘It’ll come in handy if we ever do come up against the Russians.’As Kang Xi continued talking, he began strolling up and downthe study.’Before we Manchus conquered China, in the battles we fought in the north’east, we often came off the worst because the Chinese had cannon. Nurhachi, our Great Ancestor, was even killed by a cannon’ball. But we won in the end! It’s not the weapons themselves; it all depends on how you use them!’

韦小宝道:“原来明朝有大炮。不知这些大炮现下在哪里?咱们拿了去轰吴三桂那老小子,轰他个一佛出世,二佛升天!”康熙微微一笑,说道:“明朝的大炮就只那么几尊,都是向澳门红毛人买的。单是买鬼子的枪炮,那可不管用。倘若跟鬼子打仗,他们不肯卖了,岂不糟糕?咱们得自己造,那才不怕别人制咱们死命。”韦小宝道:“对极,对极。皇上还怕这些耶稣会教士造西贝货骗你,因此自己来弄明白这个道理。从今而后,任他鬼子说得天花乱坠,七荤八素,都骗不了你。”康熙道:“你明白我的心思。这些造枪炮的道理,也真繁难得紧,单是炼那上等精铁,就大大不易。”韦小宝自告奋勇,说道:“皇上,我去给你把北京城里城外的铁匠,一古脑儿的都叫了来,大伙儿拉起风箱,呼扯,呼扯,炼他几百万斤上好精铁。”
‘I didn’t know the Ming Emperor had any cannon,’ said Trinket. ‘Where have they got to’ We could use them to blast the Satrap to pieces!’Kang Xi smiled.’They only had very few. They bought them from the foreigners in Macao. It’s no good buying things like that from foreigners. One day, if we ever had to fight against foreigners themselves, they’d simply cut off our supplies. We need to learn to make them ourselves. Then we won’t be at their mercy any more.”Right! Right!’ concurred Trinket enthusiastically. ‘We need to find out what’s what for ourselves. We need to learn the nuts and bolts, how to make things ourselves. That way these foreign devils will never be able to monkey around and make fools of us!’ ‘Exactly my own thinking! And it’s not easy, I can tell you, making cannon. Smelting the right quality metal, for a start. That takes some doing.’Trinket wanted to show willing”Majesty, why don’t I round up all the best blacksmiths in and around Peking, and we all set to work with a big pair of bellows, and huff’puff, huff’puff, we’ll smelt you a few million catties of the very best!’

康熙笑道:“你在云南之时,我们已炼成十几万斤精铁啦。汤若望和南怀仁正在监造大炮,几时你跟我去瞧瞧。”韦小宝喜道:“那可太好了。”忽然想起一事,说道:“皇上,外国鬼子居心不良,咱们可得提防一二。那造炮的地方,又有火药,又有铁器,皇上自己别去,奴才给你去监督。”康熙道:“那倒不用担心。这件事情关涉到国家气运,我如不是亲眼瞧着,终不放心。南怀仁忠诚耿直。汤若望的老命是我救的,他感激得不得了。这二人决不会起甚么异心。”韦小宝道:“皇上居然救了外国老鬼子的老命,这可奇了。”
Kang Xi laughed.’As a matter of fact, while you were away in Kunming, we did exactly that. We smelted a few thousand catties of the very best metal, and the two Jesuit Fathers are already supervising the making of some very big cannon. We must go over together sometime, and have a look at them.”I’d love to!’ cried Trinket.He suddenly had a thought.’But Majesty, you should be very careful. These foreign devils are always up to no good. They’re not to be trusted. I don’t think you should go there, it might be dangerous, with all that gunpowder around the place. Let me go for you.’ ‘Don’t you worry. This is a matter that concerns the protection of our nation, and I must supervise it personally. Besides, I have great confidence in Schall and Verbiest. Verbiest I know to be an honest man, and old Schall owes a great deal to me. I got him out of serious trouble once, saved his life. He was most tremendously grateful. Neither of them would ever turn against me, I’m sure of it.’ ‘Saved a foreign devil’s life!’ cried Trinket. The strange things you do, Majesty!’

康熙微笑道:“康熙三年,汤若望说钦天监推算日食有误,和钦天监的汉官双方激辩。钦天监的汉官杨光先辩不过,就找他的岔子,上了一道奏章,说道汤若望制定的那部《大清时宪历》,一共只推算了二百年,可是我大清得上天眷祤,圣祚无疆,万万年的江山。汤若望止进二百年历,那不是咒我大清只有二百年天下吗?”韦小宝伸了伸舌头,说道:“厉害,厉害。这外国老鬼会算天文地理,却不会算做官之人的手段。”康熙道:“可不是么?那时候鳌拜当政,这家伙胡里胡涂,就说汤若望咒诅朝廷,该当凌迟处死。这道旨意送给我瞧,可给我看出了一个破绽。”韦小宝道:“康熙三年,那时你还只十岁啊,已经瞧出了其中有诈,当真是圣天子聪明智慧,自古少有。”康熙笑道:“你马屁少拍。其实这道理说来也浅,我问鳌拜,这部大清时宪历是几时做好的。他说不知道,下去查了一查,回奏说道,是顺治十年做好的,当时先帝下旨嘉奖,赐了他一个‘通玄教师’的封号。我说:‘是啊,我六七岁时,就已在书房里见过这部《大清时宪历》了。这部历书已做成了十年,为甚么当时大家不说他不对?这时候争他不过,便来翻他的老帐?那可不公道啊。鳌拜想想倒也不错,便没杀他,将他关在牢里。这件事我后来也忘了,最近南怀仁说起,我才下旨放了他出来。”韦小宝道:“奴才去叫他花些心思,做一部大清万年历出来。”康熙笑了几声,随即正色道:“我读前朝史书,凡是爱惜百姓的,必定享国长久,否则尽说些吉祥话儿,又有何用?自古以来,人人都叫皇帝作万岁,其实别说万岁,享寿一百岁的皇帝也没有啊。甚么‘万寿无疆’,都是骗人的鬼话。父皇谆谆叮嘱,要我遵行‘永不加赋’的训谕,我细细想来,只要遵守这四个字,我们的江山就是铁打的。甚么洋人的大炮,吴三桂的兵马,全都不用担心。韦小宝不明白这些治国的大道理,只是喏喏连声,取出从吴三桂那里盗来的那部正蓝旗《四十二章经》,双手献上,说道:“皇上,这部经书,果然让吴三桂这老小子给吞没了,奴才在他书房中见到,便给他来个顺手牵羊,物归原主。”康熙大喜,说道:“很好,很好。太后老是挂念着这件事。我去献给她老人家,拿去太庙焚化了,不管其中有甚么秘密,从此再也没人知道。”韦小宝心道:“你烧了最好!这叫做毁尸灭迹。我盗了经中碎皮片儿的事,就永远不会发觉了。”
Kang Xi went on to tell Trinket how in the early years of his reign he had saved Schall from the charges of high treason and heresy brought against him by Oboi, when Oboi and the Regents still held power, and he was a mere boy of ten. He started talking about Palace politics and other matters of state, and much of what he said went over Trinket’s head. Trinket then remembered the Sutra belonging to the Plain Blue Banner that he had acquired from the Satrap during his stay in Kunming. This, Majesty, is the Sutra I found at the Satrap’s. It has finally come back to its rightful owner.’ The Empress Dowager will be so pleased,’ exclaimed Kang Xi. ‘I will show it to her, and arrange to have it incinerated in the Temple of the Imperial Ancestors. Then no one will ever be able to find out the secret hidden inside it!’ ‘Excellent!’ thought Trinket secretly to himself. ‘And no one will ever know that I have taken all the scraps from inside the covers, which contain the greatest secret of all!’

Piecing together the Scraps

他回到了自己子爵府,天黑之后,闩上了门,取出那包碎皮片,叫了双儿过来,说道:“有一桩水磨功夫,你给我做做。”吩咐她将几千片碎皮片拼凑还原。双儿伏在案上,慢慢对着剪痕,一片片的拼凑。但数千片碎皮片乱成一团,要凑成原状,当真谈何容易?韦小宝初时还坐在桌边,出些主意,东拿一片,西拿一片,帮着拼凑,但搞了半天,连两块相连的皮片也找不出来,意兴索然,径自去睡了。次日醒来,只见外边房中兀自点着蜡烛,双儿手里拿着一片碎皮,正怔怔的凝思。韦小宝走到她身后,“哇”的一声大叫。双儿吃了一惊,跳起身来,笑道:“你醒了?”韦小宝道:“这些碎皮片儿可磨人得紧,我又没赶着要,你怎地一晚不睡?快去睡罢!”双儿道:“好,我先收拾起来。”
Trinket returned to his own new Residence in the East City (the little mansion given him by Prince Kang). As soon as it was dark, he bolted the door of his room and took out the bundle of scraps. He had already sent for Doublet. ‘I’ve got a job for you. It’s a really fiddly one.’ With the utmost patience, Doublet set about piecing together the parchment scraps. There were well over a thousand of them altogether, and it was very painstaking work. At the start Trinket sat up at the table with her and tried to give her a hand. But none of his suggestions ever worked and eventually he lost interest, gave up, and went to bed.When he woke up the following morning he saw the lamp still burning in the next room. Doublet was sitting there, holding one of the scraps in her fingers, and staring at the table. Trinket crept up behind her and gave a little cry. She started, jumped up in alarm, and then gave a laugh.’Have you woken up, then?”What about you’ It looks like you’ve been up all night! Come on, it’s time you tried to get some sleep!”I’ll just put the pieces away first.’

韦小宝见桌上一张大白纸上已用绣花针钉了十一二块皮片,拼在一起,全然吻合,喜道:“你已找到了好几片啦。”双儿道:“就是开头最难,现下我已明白了一些道理,以后就会拼得快些。”将碎皮片细心包在油布包裹里,连同那张大白纸,锁在一只金漆箱中。韦小宝道:“这些皮片很是有用,可千万不能让人偷了去。”双儿道:“我整日守在这里,不离开半步便是。就是怕睡着出了事。”韦小宝道:“不妨,我去调一小队骁骑营军士来,守在屋外,给你保驾。”双儿微笑道:“那就放心得多了。”韦小宝见她一双妙目中微有红丝,足见昨晚甚是劳瘁,心生怜惜,说道:“快睡罢,我抱你上床去。”双儿羞得满脸通红,连连摇手,道:“不,不,不好。”韦小宝笑道:“有甚么好不好的?你帮我做事,辛苦了一晚,我抱你上床,有甚么打紧?”说着伸手便抱。双儿咭的一声笑,从他手臂下钻了过去。韦小宝连抱了几次,都抱了个空,自知轻身功夫远不及她,心头微感沮丧,叹了口气,坐倒在椅上。双儿笑吟吟的走近,说道:“先服侍你盥洗,吃了早点,我再去睡。”
On the table Doublet had stretched a large sheet of white paper, and using a neat little embroidery needle, she had already stitched twelve of the scraps in place. That tiny portion was complete. It fitted perfectly together.’You’ve made a good start!’ said Trinket.’It’s the first ones that are the hardest,’ replied Doublet. ‘I think I’ve worked out the basic principle of the thing, and it should be a lot easier from now on.’Doublet carefully wrapped the pile of scraps in their original oilskin package, and put them away in a gilded lacquer chest, together with the sheet of paper.’I’ll help you to bed,’ said Trinket. He could see that her eyes were bloodshot from her night’long exertions. She blushed and made a coy movement with her hand.’No, that wouldn’t be right-”What do you mean, not right’ You’ve been up working all night, helping me. Surely I can help you-just a tiny bit?’He put his arms round her. She gave another little laugh and slipped out from between his arms. He tried again several times, but she always got the better of him. He sat down and sulked.’I’ll get your washing things ready,’ she said, ‘and bring you your breakfast; then I’ll go and have a sleep.’

韦小宝摇头不语。双儿见他不快,心感不安,低声道:“相公,你……你生气了吗?”韦小宝道:“不是生气,我的轻功太差,师父教了许多好法门,我总是学不会。连你这样一个小姑娘也捉不到,有甚么屁用?”双儿微笑道:“你要抱我,我自然要拚命的逃。”韦小宝突然一纵而起,叫道:“我非捉到你不可。”张开双手,向她扑去。双儿格格一笑,侧身避开。韦小宝假意向左方一扑,待她逃向右方,一伸手扭住了她衫角。双儿“啊”的一声呼叫,生怕给他扯烂了衫子,不敢用力挣脱。韦小宝双臂拦腰将她抱住。双儿只是嘻笑。韦小宝右手抄到她腿弯里,将她横着抱起,放到自己床上。双儿满脸通红,叫道:“相公,你……你……”韦小宝笑道:“我甚么?”拉过被子盖在她身上,俯身在她脸上轻轻一吻,笑道:“快合上眼,睡罢。”转身出房,带上了门,心道:“这丫头怕我着恼,故意让我抱住的。”
Trinket shook his head. Doublet could see that he was upset.’Is something the matter?’ she asked.’I’m just fed up that I can’t even get the better of a girl, after all the stuff I’ve been learning with my Shifu.”I just didn’t want you putting your arms around me.”Still…’ In a flash Trinket was up again and this time, by dint of a cleverly timed feint, he managed to get a good hold of her blouse, and she was too afraid of tearing it to pull away. He put one hand under her leg, hoisted her up, and carried her off bodily to his bed. By this time she was bright red in the face. ‘Master. . . put me . . . down. . . .’ He pulled the covers over her, leant down, and gave her the lightest of kisses. There. Now close your eyes and go to sleep.’ He turned around and left the room, closing the door after him. ‘She only let me do it,’ he was thinking to himself, ‘because otherwise she was scared I might get into a real state. Typical Doublet!’

来到厅上,吩咐亲兵传下令去,调一队骁骑营军士来自己房外守卫。这几天之中,他将云南带来的金银礼物分送宫中妃嫔、王公大臣、侍卫、太监;心中盘算:“若说是吴三桂送的,倒让人领了这老小子的情,不如让老子自己来做好人。”于是吴三桂几十万两金银,都成了钦差大臣、骁骑营都统韦小宝的礼物。收礼之人自是好评潮涌。宫中朝中,都说皇上当真圣明,所提拔的这个少年都统精明干练,居官得体。这些日子中,双儿每日都在拼凑破碎羊皮,一找到吻合无误的皮片,便用绣花针钉住。韦小宝每晚观看,见拼成的图形越来越大,图中所绘果然都是山川地形,图上注着弯弯曲曲的文字。双儿道:“这些都是外国字,我可一个也不识。”
He gave orders for a detachment of Valiants to mount guard outside his bedroom. He was taking no chances with that precious collection of scraps. During the days after his return to Peking, he distributed the Satrap’s largesse among the various Imperial Concubines, Princes, Ministers, Palace Guards, and Eunuchs of his acquaintance. He gave it away as if it was his own, and as a consequence earned himself a great reputation for generosity. Everyone agreed that Kang Xi had showed extremely good judgement in promoting this young man to his position of command in the Valiants. As the days went by, little by little, Doublet contrived to piece together the scraps. Whenever she found two pieces that made a perfect fit, she would stitch them together with her embroidery needle. Each evening Trinket watched her, and gradually he saw a pattern emerging. It became more and more recognizable as a map. And spaced out on the map were some words written in a very squiggly script. ‘These are words in some foreign language,’ said Doublet. ‘I can’t read a single one of them.’

韦小宝在宫中住得久了,却知写的是满洲字,反正连汉字他也不识,图中所写不论是甚么文字,也都不放在心上。到得第十八天晚上,韦小宝回到屋里,只见双儿满脸喜容。他伸手摸了摸她下巴,问道:“甚么事这样开心?”双儿微笑道:“相公,你倒猜猜看。”
Trinket had been around in the Palace long enough to recognize Manchu writing when he saw it. But he had no idea what any of it meant. (Not that it would have been any easier for him if the words had been written in Chinese.) On the eighteenth evening, Trinket came back to his room to find a beaming Doublet standing in front of the table. He chucked her lightly under the chin. ‘What are you looking so pleased about, then?’ She gave a little laugh. ‘Master, you guess!’

昨晚临睡之时,韦小宝见只余下二三百片碎皮尚未拼起。这门拼凑功夫,每拼起一片,余下来的少了一片,就容易了一分。最初一两天最是艰难,一个时辰之中,未必能找到两片相吻合的碎皮,到得后来便进展迅速了。他料想双儿已将全图拼起,是以喜溢眉梢,笑道:“让我猜猜看。嘿,你定是裹了几只湖州粽子给我吃。”双儿摇头道:“不是。”韦小宝道:“你在地下捡到了一件宝贝?”双儿道:“不是。”韦小宝道:“你义兄从广东带了好东西来送给你?”双儿道:“不是,路这么远,怎会送东西来啊。”韦小宝道:“庄家三少奶捎了信来?”双儿摇摇头,眉头微蹙,轻声道:“没有。庄家三少奶她们不知好不好,我常常想着。”韦小宝叫道:“我知道了,今天是你生日。”双儿微笑道:“不是的,我生日不是今天。”韦小宝道:“是哪一天?”双儿道:“是九月十……”忽然脸上一红,道:“我忘记了。”
There had been two or three hundred pieces left unsolved the previous evening. As the days had gone by, Doublet had worked faster and faster. Trinket was sure she had finished. But he was not going to miss out on this opportunity of teasing her.’Let me think now…. You’ve made me some of those yummy Huzhou dumplings you’re so good at?”No!’She shook her head. ‘You’ve found some buried treasure?’ ‘No!”Your newly adopted brother has come from Canton with lots of lovely presents for you?”No, no! Of course not! Canton’s much too far away for him to be able to do that!”You’ve had a letter from Widow Zhuang?’This was a reference to Doublet’s original mistress and benefactor. Doublet shook her head and gave a little frown.’No! But I do often think about them and wonder how they are.’7 know!’ cried Trinket. ‘Today’s your birthday and-‘Doublet smiled.’No. My birthday’s not today.”When is it then?”It’s in the ninth month, on the . . .’Suddenly she blushed.’I’ve forgotten!’

韦小宝道:“你骗人,自己生日怎会忘记了?对了,对了。一定是这个,你在少林寺的那个老和尚朋友瞧你来啦。”双儿噗哧一笑,连连摇头,说道:“相公说话真是好笑,我有甚么少林寺的老和尚朋友?你才有啦。”韦小宝搔搔头皮,沉吟道:“这也不是,那也不是,这可难猜了。我本来想猜,是不是你已拼好了图样呢?不过昨晚见到还有二三百片没拼起,最快也总得再有五六天时光。”双儿双眼中闪耀着喜悦的光芒,微笑道:“倘若偏偏是今天拼起了呢?”韦小宝摇头道:“你骗人,我才不信。”双儿道:“相公,你来瞧瞧,这是甚么?”韦小宝跟着她走到桌边,只见桌上大白布上钉满了几千枚绣花针,几千块碎片已拼成一幅完整无缺的大地图,难得的是几千片碎皮拼在一起,既没多出一片,也没少了一片。
‘Oh no you haven’t! Don’t try and fool me! How could you have forgotten your own birthday’ I know what it is’ that old monk you got friendly with at Shaolin has come to see you.’Doublet gave a little splutter of a laugh.’Master, you’re just making fun of me!’Trinket scratched his head.’Well, I don’t know. It’s really hard to guess. You couldn’t possibly have finished piecing together the scraps yet. You still had two or three hundred bits left last night. They’d take you another week at least.’There was a happy twinkle in Doublet’s eyes.’Come and look.’She led Trinket over to the table. All the pieces were neatly stitched together on the great sheet of paper. The puzzle was complete. It was a large, detailed map. Every scrap of parchment had been used, and there was not a single gap. It was perfect.

韦小宝大叫一声,反手将双儿一把抱住,叫道:“大功告成,亲个子邬。”说着向她嘴上吻去。双儿羞得满脸通红,头一侧,韦小宝的嘴吻到了她耳垂上。双儿只觉全身酸软,惊叫:“不,不要!”韦小宝笑着放开了她,拉着她手,和她并肩看那图形,不住口的啧啧称赞,说道:“双儿,若不是你帮我办这件事,要是我自己来干哪,就算拼上三年零六个月,也不知拼不拼得成。”双儿道:“你有多少大事要办,那有时光做这种笨功夫?”韦小宝道:“啊哟,这是笨功夫么?这是天下最聪明的功夫了。”双儿听他称赞,甚是开心。
Trinket gave a great cry of joy and picked Doublet up in his arms. ‘For this you definitely deserve a kiss!’ He made to kiss her on the mouth. As he did so, she blushed fiercely, and looked away, and Trinket’s lips ended up somewhere on one of her earlobes. She felt a strange tingling sensation all over and cried out’ ‘No, don’t!’ Trinket put her down and held her by the hand. They stood there side by side looking at the map. Trinket could not praise her handiwork enough. ‘Dearest Doublet! I don’t know what I’d have done without you. It would have taken me years. And even then I probably wouldn’t have managed to do it!’ ‘You’re much too busy to have time for stupid little things like this,’ protested Doublet with her usual charming display of modesty. ‘This, a stupid little thing! I call it brilliant! Most excellently brilliant kungfu, that’s what I call it!’ His ecstatic praise made Doublet feel very happy.

韦小宝指着图形,说道:“这是高山,这是大河。”指着一条大河转弯处聚在一起的八个颜色小圈,说道:“全幅地图都是墨笔画的,这八个小圈却有红、有白、有黄、有蓝,还有黄圈镶红边儿的。啊,是了,这是满洲人的八旗。这八个小圈的所在,定是大有古怪。只不知山是甚么山,河是甚么河。”双儿取出一叠薄棉纸来,一共三十几张,每一张上都写了弯弯曲曲的满洲文字,交给韦小宝。韦小宝道:“这是甚么?是谁写的?”双儿道:“是我写的。”韦小宝又惊又喜,道:“原来你识得满洲字,前几天还骗我呢。”说着张开双臂,作势要抱。双儿急忙逃开,笑道:“没骗你,我不识满洲字,这是将薄纸印在图上,一笔一划印着写的。”
Trinket now set about deciphering features on the map. ‘That’s a mountain. That’s a river. . . .’ In one place, near a winding river, there was a cluster of circles in eight different colours. ‘The rest of the map’s all in black. But these circles are all different colours’ yellow, red, white, blue, yellow with a red border. . . . ‘ know! It’s the Eight Manchu Banners. This place with all the coloured circles must be a very special place for the Manchus. The only trouble is, I can’t tell which mountain is which, or which river is which.’ Doublet handed him a length of fine muslin, folded in concertina fashion into about thirty strips. On each strip was a squiggly piece of writing. ‘What’s this’ Who wrote this stuff?’ ‘I did.’ ‘So you do know Manchu!’ he exclaimed, surprised and delighted. ‘You were just tricking me.’ He tried to hug her, but she slipped out of his arms again. ‘No, I don’t understand a word of it. I just traced the writing from the map line by line.’

韦小宝喜道:“妙计,妙计。我拿去叫满洲师爷认了出来,注上咱们的中国字,就知道图中写的是甚么了。好双儿,宝贝双儿,你真细心,知道这图关系重大,把满洲字分成几十张纸来写。我去分别问人,就不会泄漏了机密。”双儿微笑道:“好相公,聪明相公,你一见就猜到我的用意。”韦小宝笑道:“大功告成,亲个子邬。”双儿一听。反身一跃,逃出了房外。韦小宝来到厅上,吩咐亲兵去叫了骁骑营中的一名满洲笔帖式来,取出一张棉纸,问他那几个满洲字是甚么意思。
‘Brilliant idea! I’ll get one of the Manchu clerks to look at it and write down the Chinese words beside these squiggles. Then we might know what on earth’s going on in this map. Doublet, dear, precious, wonderful Doublet, you’re so clever! You think of everything! For this, you most definitely deserve a kiss!’ But she was away and out of the room before he could even stretch out his arms. QobbledegookTrinket went out to the main hall of his mansion, and sent one of his personal guards to fetch a Manchu clerk from the Valiant barracks. When the clerk arrived, Trinket handed him the folded length of muslin, pointed to one of the strips, and ordered him to translate the Manchu words traced on it.

那笔帖式道:“回都统大人:这‘额尔古纳河’、‘精奇里江’、‘呼玛尔窝集山’,都是咱们关外满洲的地名。”韦小宝道:“甚么叽哩咕噜江,呼<脏话>山,这样难听。”那笔帖式道:“回都统大人:额尔古纳河、精奇里江、呼玛尔窝集山,都是咱们满洲的大山大江。”韦小宝问:“那在甚么地方?”那笔帖式道:“回都统大人:是在关外极北之地。”韦小宝心下暗喜:“是了,这果然是满洲人藏宝的所在。他们把金银珠宝搬到关外,定然要藏得越远越好。”说道:“你把这些唏哩呼噜江、呼<脏话>山的名字,都用汉字写了出来。”那笔帖式依言写了。韦小宝又取出一张棉纸,问道:“这又是甚么江、甚么山了?”那笔帖式道:“回都统大人:这是西里木的河,阿穆尔山、阿穆尔河。”
‘Colonel Wei’ replied the clerk at once, ‘here we have some of our Manchu ancestral place’names. The Ergun River, the Zeja River, and Mount Khumarsk. They are all right up in the north’east, beyond the Pass.”Beyond the Pass’ was the general term used for the whole of the north’eastern Manchu homeland.’Of course,’ Trinket was thinking to himself. ‘Makes sense. That would be where the Manchus would have buried their treasure’ as deep into their own stomping ground as possible.’What he actually said was”I want you to write down all these weird’sounding names for me in Chinese.’The clerk did as he was told.Trinket pointed to another section of the muslin.’And these?”My Colonel, these are the Silimu River, Mount Amur, and the Amur River.’

韦小宝道:“他妈的,越来越奇啦!你这不是胡说八道吗?好好的名字不取,甚么希<脏话>河,甚么阿妈儿、阿爸儿的。”那笔帖式满脸惶恐,请了个安,说道:“卑职不敢胡说八道,在满洲话里,那是另有意思的。”韦小宝道:“好,你把阿妈儿、阿爸儿,还有希<脏话>河,都用汉字注在这纸上。回头我还得去问问旁人,瞧你是不是瞎说。”那笔帖式道:“是,是。卑职便有天大胆子,也不敢跟都统大人胡说。”韦小宝道:“哈,你有天大胆子么?”那笔帖式道:“不,不,卑职胆小如鼠。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“来人哪,拿五十两银子,赏给这个胆小如鼠的朋友。喂,这些希<脏话>河,希你爸的山,你要是出去跟人说了,给我一知道,立即追还你五十两银子,连本带利,一共是一百五十两银子。”那笔帖式大喜过望,他一个月饷银,也不过十二两银子,都统大人这一赏就是五十两,忙请安道谢,连称:“卑职决不敢乱说。”心想:“本钱五十两,利息却要一百两。我的妈啊,好重的利息,杀了头我也还不起。”
‘Tamardy!’ exclaimed Trinket. ‘They sound weirder and weirder. Why can’t you give me some decent names, instead of all this gobbledegook rubbish. I’m sure you made the whole lot up.’The clerk looked scared.’Forgive me, my Colonel, but in our Manchu language, they do mean something. I would never dare to make them up.’ ‘Don’t worry. Just write them all down in Chinese. And this is for your trouble.’ He tossed the clerk fifty taels of silver. The poor man had probably never seen so much money at one time. His monthly wage would have been something of the order of twelve taels. ‘But once you leave this room, you’re to forget all about those place’names, all right’ If I find out that you’ve been chattering about them, I’ll come after you for the fifty taels, plus another one hundred in interest and penalties. . . . Plus your head!’

数日之间,韦小宝已问明了七八十个地名,拿去复在图上一看,原来那八个四色小圈,是在黑龙江之北,正当阿穆尔河和黑龙江合流之处,在呼玛尔窝集山正北,阿穆尔山西北。八个小圈之间写着两个黄色满洲字,译成汉字,乃是“鹿鼎山”三字。
It took Trinket a few days to sort out the names, with Doublet’s help. There were some seventy or eighty of them in all. Looking more closely at the map, he saw that the cluster of eight coloured circles was in the very north of the province known in Chinese as Heilongjiang (River of the Black Dragon). In fact they were clustered around the very place where the Ergun River and the Amur or Black Dragon River converged, due north of Mount Khumarsk, and north’west of Mount Amur. The place was marked on the map with the Manchu words Meeting of the Waters, and next to these words, in yellow, was inscribed an old Chinese seal’character meaning Water. Right in the middle of the cluster of circles were two more symbols drawn in yellow. These two symbols also looked like the ancient Chinese seal’script, and unmistakably represented a deer deerand a cauldron.

韦小宝把图形和地名牢记在心,要双儿也帮着记住,心想这些碎皮片要是给人抢了去,不免泄露秘密,于是投入火炉,一把烧了。见到火光熊熊升起,心头说不出的愉悦。寻思:“师父要我分成数包,分别埋在不同的地方,说不定仍会给人盗了去。现下藏在我心里,就算把我的心挖了去,也找不到这幅地图啦。不过这颗心,自然是挖不得的。”一转头,见火光照在双儿脸上,红扑扑的甚是娇艳,心下大赞:“我的小双儿可美得紧哪。”
The Manchu words written alongside them, when translated into Chinese, read’ Lu’ding’shan (which means Deer and Cauldron Mountain). Clearly this was a very special, important sort of place.Trinket committed the map and all the names on it carefully to memory, and made Doublet do likewise. Then, to make sure the scraps and their secret never fell into the wrong hands, he threw them all into the brazier. As they went up in flames, he felt an indescribable sense of happiness.’My Shifu’s instructions were to divide the scraps up and bury them in separate places. But someone could still have come along, found them all, and pieced them back together again. Now they’re buried in my heart, and no one can ever find them, not even if they opened me up to look!’Doublet’s face looked so radiantly pretty in the light from the dancing flames in the brazier.

双儿给他瞧得有些害羞,低下了头。韦小宝道:“好双儿,咱们图儿也拼起啦,地名也查到啦,甚么希<脏话>河,希你爸的山,也都记在心中了,那算不算是大功告成了呢?”双儿忙跳起身来,笑道:“不,不,没……没有。”韦小宝道:“怎么还没有?”双儿笑着夺门而出,说道:“我不知道。”韦小宝追出去,笑道:“你不知道,我可知道。”
She could feel him looking at her, and hung her head shyly. There we are, my dear Doublet,’ he exclaimed joyfully. ‘We’ve pieced it all together, and we’ve found out what all the names are. All those weird places, Gobbledegook Mountain and Hujamiflip River-we’ve memorized them all! Don’t you think this brilliant feat of ours deserves a-‘But before he could finish she was on her feet crying playfully”No! No!”What do you mean, no!’ protested Trinket.She ran out of the room, crying”I don’t know!’Trinket ran after her.’I do!’

忽见一名亲兵匆匆进来,说道:“启禀都统:皇上传召,要你快去。”韦小宝向双儿做个鬼脸,出门来到宫中。只见宫门口已排了卤簿,康熙的车驾正从宫中出来。韦小宝绕到仪仗之后,跪在道旁磕头。康熙见到了他,微笑道:“小桂子,跟我看外国人试炮去。”韦小宝喜道:“好极了,这大炮可造得挺快哪。”一行人来到左安门内的龙潭炮厂,南怀仁和汤若望已远远跪在道旁迎驾。康熙道:“起来,起来,大炮在哪里?”南怀仁道:“回圣上:大炮便在城外。恭请圣上移驾御览。”康熙道:“好!”
But just at that moment he saw one of his guards coming towards him.’My Colonel, His Majesty has sent for you. He wishes to see you at once.’Trinket pulled a long face, and set off for the Palace. Cannon of Divine Might He arrived just as the Emperor’s cavalcade was leaving the gates of the Forbidden City. Trinket took up a position on the roadside and kowtowed. Kang Xi saw him there and called out’ ‘Laurie! Come along! We’re going to watch those foreigners try out their cannon!’ ‘Excellent!’ responded Trinket. ‘They certainly didn’t waste any time making them.’ The procession made its way to the imperially established Cannon Foundry at Dragon Pool, inside the city gate known as the Left Gate of Peace. The two Jesuit fathers, Schall and Verbiest, could be seen in the distance kneeling by the roadside. As he approached Kang Xi bade them rise. ‘Up you get! So, where are the big guns?’ ‘Your Majesty, the cannon are outside the walls. Would Your Majesty like to inspect them?’ ‘Excellent!’

从车中出来,侍卫前后拥护,出了左安门,只见三尊大炮并排而列。康熙走近前去,见三门大炮闪闪发出青光,炮身粗大,炮轮、承轴等等无不造得极是结实,心下甚喜,说道:“很好,咱们就试放几炮。”南怀仁亲自在炮筒里倒入火药,用铁条桩实,拿起一枚炮弹,装入炮筒,转身道:“回皇上:这一炮可以射到一里半,靶子已安在那边。”康熙顺着他手指望去,见远处约莫一里半以外,有十个土墩并列,点头道:“好,你放罢。”南怀仁道:“恭请皇上移驾十丈以外,以策万全。”康熙微微一笑,退了开去。
Kang Xi descended from his carriage, and proceeded through the Left Gate of Peace, with large numbers of Palace Guards walking before and after him. There, outside the city walls, he beheld three large guns, assembled and ready to fire. He walked closer to inspect them. Their barrels were dazzlingly polished, their mountings and wheels imposingly solid and well made. He was greatly impressed, and altogether delighted. ‘Well done indeed! Now for a test firing!’ Verbiest personally put the gunpowder charge into the barrel, ramming it in firmly with a metal rod. Then he inserted a cannon’ball, and turned to address the Emperor’ ‘Majesty, this particular cannon can fire approximately three quarters of a mile. We have set up the targets at that distance, over there.’ Kang Xi’s gaze followed the direction in which he was pointing. In the distance he could see a row of earthen mounds. ‘Very good. Go ahead then.’ ‘Your Majesty, may I suggest that you step well aside, for your own personal safety.’ Kang Xi chuckled, and did as he was told.

韦小宝自告奋勇,道:“这第一炮,让奴才来放罢。”康熙点点头。韦小宝走到大炮之旁,向南怀仁道:“外国老兄,你来瞄准,我来点火。”南怀仁已校准了炮口高低,这时再核校一次。韦小宝接过火把,点燃炮上药线,急忙跳开,丢开火把,双手紧紧塞住耳朵。只见火光一闪,轰的一声大响,黑烟祤漫,跟着远处一个土墩炸了开来,一个火柱升天而起。原来那土墩中藏了大量硫磺,炮弹落下,立时燃烧,更显得威势惊人。众军士齐声欢呼,向着康熙大呼:“万岁,万岁,万万岁!”
Trinket decided the moment had arrived to make a demonstration of his own courage, and he asked Kang Xi if he could fire the cannon. Kang Xi nodded. Trinket walked forward, and addressed Verbiest’ ‘Foreign brother, you set the sights; I will light the fuse.’ Verbiest made some final adjustments to the positioning of the barrel, and handed Trinket the torch. Trinket held the torch to the tip of the fuse. The next instant he had leapt into the air, dropping the torch and clapping both hands tightly to his ears. There was a great burst of flame, a clap of thunder, and a huge black cloud of smoke, and one of the earthen mounds disintegrated with the impact of the cannon’ball. A column of flame rose into the sky above the mound, which had been stuffed full of explosives to enhance the effect. A roar of applause went up from the group of military officers gathered around the Emperor. Then they turned towards their Sovereign and chanted’ ‘Long Live His Imperial Majesty!’

三尊大炮轮流施放,一共开了十炮,打中了七个土墩,只三个土墩偏了少些没打中。康熙十分喜欢,对南怀仁和汤若望大加奖勉,当即升南怀仁为钦天监监正。汤若望原为太常寺卿加通政使,号“通玄教师”,在鳌拜手中被革,康熙下旨恢复原官,改号“通微教师”。康熙名叫玄烨,“玄”字为了避讳不能再用。三门大炮赐名为“神武大炮”。
There were three newly cast cannon, and they were fired altogether ten times. Seven cannon’balls hit the mark, and seven out of the ten targets were blown up. The other three cannon’balls fell slightly short. Kang Xi was hugely pleased with the experiment, and showered the two Jesuits with praise. Verbiest was promoted on the spot to the rank of Director of the Imperial Observatory. Schall was already a President of the Imperial Court of Ritual and a State Chamberlain, and had some time earlier been awarded the honorary title of Master of Universal Mysteries. All his ranks and titles, which had been taken away during the Oboi Regency, were now restored. His honorary title was changed, to Master of Universal Subtlety. This was because the word ‘mystery’ was currently tabooed, being one of the Emperor’s personal names (hence his nickname Misty, used only by his close personal friend and ex’sparring partner Laurie, alias Colonel Trinket Wei). The three mighty cannon were ceremoniously named the Great Cannon of Divine Might.

Mission Impossible

回到宫中,康熙把韦小宝叫进书房,笑吟吟的道:“小桂子,咱们日夜开工,造他几百门神武大炮,一字排开,对准了吴三桂这老小子轰他妈的,你说他还造不造得成反?”韦小宝笑道:“皇上神机妙算,本来就算没神武大炮,吴三桂这老小子也是手到擒来。只不过有了神武大炮,那是更加如……如……如龙添翼了。”他本要说“如虎添翼”,但转念一想,以皇帝比作老虎,可不大恭敬。康熙笑道:“你这句话太没学问。飞龙在天,又用得着甚么翼?”韦小宝笑道:“是,是。可见就算没有大炮,皇上也不怕吴三桂。”康熙笑道:“你总有得说的。”眉头一皱,道:“说到这里,我可想到一件事来。吴三桂跟蒙古、西藏、罗刹国勾结,还有一个神龙教。那个大逆不道的老婊子假太后,就是神龙教派来秽乱宫禁的,是不是?”韦小宝道:“正是。”康熙道:“这叛逆若不擒来千刀万剐,如何得报母后被害之恨、太后被囚之辱?”说到这里,咬牙切齿,甚是气愤。
As they returned from their excursion, the Emperor was talking to Trinket, when a thought seemed to cross his mind, and he frowned. ‘Apart from the Mongols, the Tibetans, and the Russians, it appears that the Satrap is also trying to create some sort of an alliance with that strange Mystic Dragon Sect on that island of theirs. And they are the very people who sent the Fake’Empress Dowager here (the one you always call the Old Whore), to do their dirty work in the Palace.’ That’s right’ replied Trinket. Kang Xi was certainly putting the picture together accurately. ‘Well if that Old Whore is part of the plot, I absolutely have to crush this rebellion! I have to avenge my poor mother’s death, and I have to make up for all the years the real Empress Dowager spent cooped up in that dark cupboard!’ There was something bitter and fierce about the way he said this.

韦小宝心想:“皇帝这话,是要我去捉拿老婊子了。那老婊子跟那又矮又胖的瘦头陀在一起,这时候不知是在哪里,要捉此人,可大大的不容易。”心下踌躇,不敢接口。康熙果然说道:“小桂子,这件事万分机密,除了派你去办之外,可不能派别人。”韦小宝道:“是。就不知老婊子逃到了哪里?她那个奸夫一团肉球,看来会使妖法。”
‘Oh dear!’ Trinket thought to himself. ‘I think I know what this is all leading up to. … Would I kindly go and get hold of the Old Whore for him’-another tricky little assignment for Trink. But what he doesn’t realize is that she went shooting off with Thin Dhuta, orLump’of’Flesh, or Meatball, or whatever his current name is, and I haven’t the foggiest where she ended up.’ He was extremely apprehensive, and too nervous to say anything at all in response to Kang Xi’s emotional words. ‘Laurie,’ continued Kang Xi, to Trinket’s dismay, ‘this is a highly confidential matter. You’re the only person I can trust with it.’ ‘Yes, Majesty. 1 understand. But the trouble is, I don’t know where the Old Whore is. She could be anywhere by now. That fat lover of hers, the one who helped her escape, is capable of all manner of strange tricks.’

康熙道:“老婊子如果躲到了荒山野岭之中,要找她果然不易。不过也有线索可寻。你带领人马,先去将神龙邪教剿灭了,把那些邪教的党羽抓来,一一拷问,多半便会查得出老婊子的下落。”见韦小宝有为难之色,说道:“我也知道这件事犹如大海捞针,很不易办。不过你一来能干,二来是员大大的福将,别人办来十分棘手之事,到了你手里,往往便马到成功。我也不限你时日,先派你到关外去办几件事。你到了关外,在奉天调动人马,俟机去破神龙岛。”韦小宝心想:“皇帝在拍我马屁了。这件事不答应也不成了。”
‘Yes, I know. She may have vanished into the wilds, she may be hiding somewhere in the mountains. It will be hard to find her. But there must be clues. You just have to follow them up. Take a company of soldiers, take a whole regiment if you need to, go to that island and wipe out that whole Mystic Dragon gang. But be sure to interrogate them first. That’s the way to find out where she is.’ Colonel Trinket looked an extremely doubtful starter for this particular mission. Kang Xi tried to jolly him along. ‘Look, Laurie, I know this is a tough one. It’s like asking you to fish a needle out of the sea. But you’re the man for it, I know you are. You’re the one I turn to when all else fails. You’re so smart, I know you can do it. I won’t even set you a time limit. First you must set off towards the north’east, so that it looks as if you’re on some other mission. Then when you’re beyond the Pass and reach the city of Mukden, you can put your force together there and choose a good moment to take their island. Wipe these Mystic Dragons out! I want them broken!’Trinket could see that all this flattery was for a purpose. There was obviously no refusing. It was time for surrender.

说道:“奴才的福气,都是皇上赐的。皇上对我特别多加恩典,我的福份自然大了。只盼这次又托赖皇上洪福,把老婊子擒来。”康熙听他肯去,心中甚喜,拍拍他肩头,说道:“报仇雪恨虽是大事,但比之国家社稷的安危,又是小了。能捉到老婊子固然最好,第一要务,还是攻破神龙岛。小桂子,关外是我大清龙兴发祥之地,神龙教在旁虎视耽耽,倘若跟罗刹人联手,占了关外,大清便没了根本。你破得神龙岛,好比是斩断了罗刹国人伸出来的五根手指。”韦小宝笑道:“正是。”突然提高声音叫道:“啊罗呜!古噜呼!”提起右手,不住乱甩。康熙笑问:“干甚么?”韦小宝道:“罗刹国断了五根手指,自然痛得大叫罗刹话。”
‘As always, Majesty, I owe every happiness in my life to you, to your infinite kindness and generosity. I just pray that I can live up to your expectations and bring back the Old Whore alive!’ Kang Xi slapped him on the back.’That’s the fellow! But remember, it’s wiping out those Dragons that’s the most important thing. They’re a threat to the Realm. Dealing with that woman is important too, but it’s more of a personal settling of scores. Those Dragons on their island are just a stone’s throw from our Manchu homeland in the north’east. They’re too close for comfort. If they were to join up with the Russians and take the lands beyond the Pass, the stability of our whole dynasty would be threatened. Destroy them, and you break the Dragon’Russian alliance. You deprive the Russians of the five fingers of one hand!’ Trinket laughed. That’s right!’ Suddenly he yelled’ ‘Chop’skee off’skee’ As he did so, he raised his right hand in the air and beganthrashing it around wildly.’What’s that all about?’ asked Kang Xi, highly amused byTrinket’s antics.That’s a Russian yelling because he’s had five fingers choppedoff!’

康熙哈哈大笑,说道:“我升你为一等子爵,再赏你个‘巴图鲁’的称号,调动奉天驻防兵马,扑灭神龙岛反叛。”韦小宝跪下谢恩,说道:“奴才的官儿做得越大,福份越大。”康熙道:“这件事不可大张旗鼓,以防吴三桂、尚可喜他们得知讯息,心不自安,提早造反。须得神不知、鬼不觉,突然之间将神龙教灭了。这样罢,我明儿派你为钦差大臣,去长白山祭天。长白山是我爱新觉罗家远祖降生的圣地,我派你去祭祀,谁也不会疑心。”
Kang Xi laughed loudly. Then”In connection with this mission, I am making you a Viscount First Class, and bestowing on you the Manchu title of Baturu. Your confidential orders are to put together an expeditionary force in Mukden, and to destroy the rebels of the Mystic Dragon Sect.’ Trinket knelt to give thanks.’Do this thing carefully, mark you’ the Emperor continued. ‘I don’t want our plan to leak out. I don’t want the Satrap and his allies to get the wind up and launch their rebellion ahead of time. I just want you to succeed, and your success to come out of the blue Mystic Dragons eliminated-end of story. To keep things quiet, and provide you with a cover, tomorrow I’m announcing that you’ll be going as my official representative to the Long White Mountains to perform a sacrifice to the ancestors of the Imperial Aisin’Gioro clan. That’s the clan my family belongs to. We originally came from that range of mountains. They are sacred to us. Sending you there is a perfect alibi.’

韦小宝道:“皇上神机妙算,神龙教教主寿与虫齐。”康熙问道:“甚么寿与虫齐?”韦小宝道:“那教主的寿命不过跟小虫儿一般,再也活不多久了。”
‘Your Majesty, you have thought it all out down to the last detail. As for the Great Leader of the Mystic Dragons… what I say is, Long Life to the Insect!’ ‘Eh?’ Kang Xi was totally bemused by this pleasantry of Tinket’s. ‘Well, I mean he is a mere insect compared to your great might. So he’ll probably live no longer than a little midge!’

他在康熙跟前,硬着头皮应承了这件事,可是想到神龙教洪教主武功卓绝,教中高手如云,自己带一批只会抡刀射箭的兵马去攻打神龙岛,韦小宝多半是“寿与虫齐”。出得宫来,闷闷不乐,忽然转念:“神龙岛老子是决计不去的,小玄子待我再好,也犯不着为他去枉送性命。我这官儿做到尽头啦,不如到了关外之后,乘机到黑龙江北的鹿鼎山去,掘了宝藏,发他一笔大财,再悄悄到云南去,把阿珂娶到了手,从此躲将起来,每逃谀钱听戏,岂不逍遥快乐?”言念及此,烦恼稍减,心想:“临阵脱逃,虽然说来脸上无光,有负小玄子重托,可是性命交关之事,岂是开得玩笑的?掘了宝藏之后,不再挖断满洲人的龙脉,也就很对得住小玄子了。”
In actual fact Trinket had been calculating to himself how infinitely slim his own chances were going to be against the deadly kungfu skills of the Leader and his various champions. All he would have on his side would be regular fighting troops with ordinary swords and bows. The diminutive lifespan of an insect was probably what lay in store for Colonel Trinket of the Valiants, was what he was thinking. He left the Palace feeling exceptionally glum. Then suddenly his face lightened. ‘I’m damned if I’ll do it! Why the hell should I’ However kind the Emperor’s been to me, I’m through with this whole charade! I’ll pretend to do it. I’ll go as far as the Pass, and then make a dash for it. Perhaps I’ll head for that place called the Mountain of , and dig up some of that treasure. Make myself a quick fortune, sneak back to Yunnan, marry Green and run away with her for ever. A quiet life, incognito, gambling, watching opera. . . having some fun for a change. . .’ He was feeling better already.

The Three Treasures of Manchuria

次日上朝,康熙颁下旨意,升了韦小宝的官,又派他去长白山祭天。散朝之后,王公大臣纷纷道贺。索额图与他交情与众不同,特到子爵府叙话,见他有些意兴阑珊,说道:“兄弟,去长白山祭天,当然不是怎么的肥缺,比之到云南去敲平西王府的竹杠,那是天差地远了,也难怪你没甚么兴致。”韦小宝道:“不瞒大哥说,兄弟是南方人,一向就最怕冷,一想到关外冰天雪地,这会儿已经冷得发抖,今儿晚非烧旺了火炉,好好来烤一下不可。”
The following day Kang Xi issued the necessary Edict. After the morning audience, the high ministers of state competed with each other to congratulate Trinket on his new appointment. Songgotu was the closest friend Trinket had in higher political circles (they were in fact sworn brothers). He came round to Trinket’s mansion afterwards for a chat, and noticed his absence of enthusiasm about the new mission. Songgotu’s interpretation was predictable.’I completely understand how you feel, dear friend. There obviously won’t be such rich pickings for you up in the north’east as there were down in Yunnan.”It’s not that,’ moaned Trinket. ‘It’s just that I’m a southerner. I’m not a Manchu like you. I hate the cold. The very thought of all that ice and snow has given me the shivers already, and we haven’t even set off.’

索额图哈哈大笑,安慰道:“那倒不用担心,我回头送一件火貂大氅来,给兄弟御寒。暖轿之中加几只炭盆,就不怎么冷了。兄弟,派差到关外,生发还是有的。”韦小宝道:“原来这辽东冻脱了人鼻子的地方,也能发财,倒要向大哥请教。“索额图道:“我们辽东地方,有三件宝贝……”韦小宝道:“好啊,有三件宝贝,取得一件来,也就花差花差了。”索额图笑道:“我们辽东有一句话,兄弟听见过没有?那叫做‘关东有三宝,人参貂皮乌拉草’。”韦小宝道:“这倒没听见过。人参和貂皮,都是贵重的物事。那乌拉草,又是甚么宝贝了?”索额图道:“那乌拉草是苦哈哈的宝贝。关东一到冬季,天寒地冻,穷人穿不起貂皮,坐不起暖轿,倘若冻掉了一双脚,有谁给韦兄弟来抬轿子啊?乌拉草关东遍地都是,只要拉得一把来晒干了,捣得稀烂,塞在鞋子里,那就暖和得紧。”韦小宝道:“原来如此。乌拉草这一宝,咱们是用不着的。人参却不妨挑他几十担,貂皮也提他几千张回来,至爱亲朋,也可分分。”索额图哈哈大笑。
Songgotu gave a hearty guffaw.’Don’t fret,’ he said, in his most reassuring manner. ‘I’ll send you over a nice warm sable’lined robe. That should keep the cold out. And a charcoal brazier or two in your sedan should keep you warm on the march. And listen to me, brother’ there are, ways of making money on this mission of yours!”Money’-up in that godforsaken frozen wilderness’ I thought the only thing it was good for was freezing off your balls!”We Manchus always say that our homeland has Three Treasures’ ginseng, sable fur, and ula’grass.”I know all about ginseng and sable,’ replied Trinket. ‘But what the hell is ula’grass?”It’s a very bitter plant,’ Songgotu explained. ‘But it’s a treasure. A bitter treasure. Up in the north’east, during the winter, when the ground is frozen solid, the poor people can’t afford to wear furs, or sit in warm sedan’chairs. To stop their feet from freezing, they pick this ula’grass (which grows everywhere up there), dry it, crush it, and stuff it in their shoes. It works wonders! Keeps their feet warm as anything!’

Pacifying the Ocean

正说话间,亲兵来报,说是福建水师提督施琅来拜。韦小宝登时想起那日郑克墍说过的话来,说他是武夷派的高手,曾教过郑克墍武功,后来投降了大清的,不禁脸上变色,心想这姓施的莫非受郑克墍之托,来跟自己为难,冯锡范如此凶悍厉害,这姓施的也决非甚么好相与,对亲兵道:“他来干甚么?我不要见。”那亲兵答应了,出去辞客。韦小宝兀自不放心,向另一名亲兵道:“快传阿三、阿六两人来。”阿三、阿六是胖头陀和陆高轩的假名。
At that moment, one of Trinket’s guards came in to announce the arrival of Admiral Shi Lang, the Naval Commander of the Imperial Fujian Fleet. Somehow the name rang a bell with Trinket. He remembered Zheng Keshuang (the Insufferable) once telling him that this man was a master of the Wuyi School of kungfu (named after the Wuyi mountains in the far north of Fujian Province). He had once served under Prince Zheng (the Insufferable’s father, and Coxinga’s son) and had even taught the Insufferable himself a certain amount of kungfu. But later he had surrendered to the Manchus.Trinket could not help being suspicious of the man, because of his previous connection with his pet hate and arch’rival in love. ‘What has he come here for?’ he demanded of the guard. ‘I don’t think I particularly want to see him.’ The guard went out to inform the visitor that his Master was indisposed and unable to receive him. Trinket could not help feeling a little uneasy about this new development. He sent another of his guards off to fetch ‘Number Three’ and ‘Number Six’ (these were the somewhat unimaginative pseudonyms that Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu had adopted as members of his household retinue in Peking).

索额图笑道:“施靖海跟韦兄弟的交情怎样?”韦小宝心神不定,问道:“施……施靖甚么?”索额图道:“施提督爵封靖海将军,韦兄弟跟他不熟吗?”韦小宝摇头道:“从来没见过。”说话间胖头陀和陆高轩二人到来,站在身后。韦小宝有这两大高手相护,略觉放心。亲兵回进内厅,捧着一只盘子,说道:“施将军送给子爵大人的礼物。”韦小宝见盘中放着一只开了盖的锦盒,盒里是一只白玉碗,碗中刻着几行字。玉碗纯净温润,玉质极佳,刻工也甚精致,心想:“他送礼给我,那么不是来对付我了,但也不可不防。”
‘Are you not acquainted with Admiral Shi?’ asked the ever’smiling Songgotu. ‘Never met the man.’ ‘He has been appointed Admiral in charge of Pacifying the Ocean’ was Songgotu’s comment. In military parlance, this tide indicated that Admiral Shi’s brief was to ‘pacify’ (that is, annex) the large island of Taiwan, still at this date in the hands of Coxinga’s descendants, who were managing to hold out very well against the Manchus more than twenty years after the conquest. They ran the place pretty much as their own private kingdom, and had in fact turned the island into quite a thriving little trade entrepot. Meanwhile Numbers Three and Six had arrived and had taken up a position behind Trinket, which helped to set his mind somewhat at ease. His guard brought in a present from the Admiral, a beautiful inscribed jade bowl, in an embroidered casket. The present slightly softened Trinket’s hostility. Songgotu inspected the bowl and smiled. ‘Brother Wei, you should not treat this as any ordinary present.’ ‘What do you mean?’

索额图笑道:“这份礼可不轻哪,老施花的心血也真不小。”韦小宝问道:“怎么?”索额图道:“玉碗中刻了你老弟的名讳,还有‘加官晋爵’四字,下面刻着‘眷晚生施琅敬赠’。”韦小宝沉吟道:“这人跟我素不相识,如此客气,定是不怀好意。”索额图笑道:“老施的用意,那是再明白不过的。他一心一意要打台湾,为父母妻儿报仇。这些年来,老是缠着我们,要我们向皇上进言,为了这件事,花的银子没二十万,也有十五万了。他知道兄弟是皇上驾前的第一位大红人,自然要来钻这门路。”韦小宝心中一宽,说道:“原来如此。他为甚么非打台湾不可?”索额图道:“老施本来是郑成功部下大将,后来郑成功疑心他要反,要拿他,却给他逃走了,郑成功气不过,将他的父母妻儿都……”说着右掌向左挥动,作个杀头的姿势,又道:“这人打水战是有一手的,降了大清之后,曾跟郑成功打过一仗,居然将郑成功打败了。”
‘Admiral Shi has clearly given it a great deal of thought. The inscription conveys his sincerest congratulations on your recent promotion, and is signed “Your Humble Servant and Admirer, Shi Lang”.’ ‘Hm …’ mumbled Trinket to himself. ‘This man hardly knows me.’ Then out loud’ ‘Something fishy going on here, eh Songgo?’ Songgotu (the ever smiling) remarked’ ‘It seems clear enough to me what is going on. This Admiral’s one and only goal in life is to take possession of Taiwan and avenge the cruel deaths inflicted on his family by the Coxinga faction. For several years now he has been trying to enlist our support in his cause. Now he is trying to enlist yours.’Trinket was relieved to hear this. Maybe the man had not come to execute some dire command of the Insufferable’s. Maybe he wasn’t an assassin after all.’But why is he so set on taking Taiwan?”It’s a long story. It goes back to the time when he was a general under Coxinga. Coxinga suspected him of wanting to usurp supreme power on the island. As you know, Coxinga regarded himself as king of the island. Shi Lang escaped before Coxinga could do anything to him, but his family were not so lucky.’Songgotu made a gesture with his right hand that was unmistakably an executioner’s chop.They all perished in the aftermath. Shi Lang himself is a first’rate naval commander. Once he’d come over to the Manchus, he v’ent on to defeat Coxinga at sea.’

韦小宝伸伸舌头,说道:“连郑成功这样的英雄豪杰,也在他手下吃过败仗,这人倒不可不见。”对亲兵道:“施将军倘若没走,跟他说,我这就出去。”向索额图道:“大哥,咱们一起去见他罢。”他虽有胖陆二人保护,对这施琅总是心存畏惧。索额图是朝中一品大臣,有他在旁,谅来施琅不敢贸然动粗。索额图笑着点头,两人携手走进大厅。
Trinket’s tongue popped out in sheer amazement.’Wow! He must be good!’Trinket relented of his earlier suspicions. He sent one of his guards to find out if Admiral Shi had already left. If not, he was to say that his Master was on his way out to receive him.’Won’t you come with me, Songgo?’ he asked, still a little apprehensive about the encounter. The presence of Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu was reassuring, but he knew he would feel more comfortable if he had his eminent Manchu ‘brother’ with him as well. Songgotu laughed and nodded and, taking Trinket by the hand, led the way out to the main reception hall of the mansion.

施琅坐在最下首一张椅上,听到靴声,便即站起,见两人从内堂出来,当即抢上几步,请下安去,朗声道:“索大人,韦大人,卑职施琅参见。”韦小宝拱手还礼,笑道:“不敢当。你是将军,我只是个小小都统,怎地行起这个礼来?请坐,请坐,大家别客气。”施琅恭恭敬敬的道:“韦大人如此谦下,令人好生佩服。韦大人是一等子爵,爵位比卑职高得多,何况韦大人少年早发,封公封侯,那是指日之间的事,不出十年,韦大人必定封王。”韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“倘若真有这一日,那要多谢你的金口了。”
Shi Lang had already taken a seat on one of the ‘humblest’ (i.e. lowest) chairs in the hall. The moment he heard the sound of footsteps, he hurried forward. ‘Humblest greetings to you both, sires!’ Trinket brought his hands together in the usual gesture of salutation. ‘Come, come! You an Admiral of His Majesty’s Fleet, me a two’bit Colonel! Let’s have a bit less of the humble greetings around the place, shall we, and bit more of the “Why don’t we all sit down, and relax.’ ‘You are too generous, sire!’ Despite Trinket’s words, Admiral Shi sounded more obsequious than ever as he continued’ ‘You are a Viscount of the First Rank, sire, infinitely superior in station to my humble self. You have risen so high at such a young age! Surely one day you will rise to be a Prince of the Realm!’ Trinket laughed. ‘If that day ever comes, I’ll remember your kind words.’

索额图笑道:“老施,在北京这几年,可学会了油嘴滑舌啦,再不像初来北京之时,动不动就得罪人。”施琅道:“卑职是粗鲁武夫,不懂规矩,全仗各位大人大量包涵,现下卑职已痛改前非。”索额图笑道:“你甚么都学乖了,居然知道韦大人是皇上驾前第一位红官儿,走他的门路,可胜于去求恳十位百位王公大臣。”施琅恭恭敬敬的向两人请了个安,说道:“全仗二位大人栽培,卑职永感恩德。”
Songgotu smiled at the Admiral. ‘You’ve certainly learned how to talk like a courtier, my friend! Your years in Peking have been put to good use. I remember you when you first came here. You were always offending people.’ ‘At heart I’m just a plain soldier. It’s gentlemen such as yourself who have taught me what little I know of the ways of the Court.’ ‘Well, you’re obviously smart enough’ continued Songgotu, beaming the unstoppable Songgo smile. ‘You’ve worked out one important thing for yourself’ if you want to get close to the Emperor, Lord Wei will be more use to you than all the Princes and Ministers of State put together.’ And so on and so forth; long’winded civilities flowing backwards and forwards, ad nauseam.

韦小宝打量施琅,见他五十左右年纪,筋骨结实,目光炯炯,甚是英悍,但容颜憔悴,颇有风尘之色,说道:“施将军给我那只玉碗,可名贵得很了,就只一桩不好。”施琅颇为惶恐,站起身来,说道:“卑职胡涂,不知那只玉碗中有甚么岔子,请大人指点。”韦小宝笑道:“岔子是没有,就是太过名责,吃饭的时候捧在手里,有些战战兢兢,生怕一个不小心,打碎了饭碗,哈哈,哈哈。”
Trinket, meanwhile, was sizing up the Admiral. He looked about fifty, strongly built, with a bright, steady gaze, and a vigorous manner. But despite this, there was something a little careworn about him, as if life had not treated him too kindly. ‘I must thank you for that beautiful jade bowl,’ Trinket put in. There’s one small problem, though.’ The Admiral jumped to his feet, afraid that he had committed some diplomatic blunder. ‘Pray tell me what flaw you have found in the bowl, sire?’ Trinket laughed. ‘It’s not a flaw. No, no. It’s just that it’s so nice I’d be afraid ever to eat out of it. I’d be all in a tremble in case I dropped it and it smashed into a zillion pieces.’

索额图哈哈大笑。施琅陪着干笑了几声。韦小宝问道:“施将军几时来北京的?”施琅道:“卑职到北京来,已整整三年了。”韦小宝奇道:“施将军是福建水师提督,不去福建带兵,却在北京玩儿,那为甚么?啊,我知道啦,施将军定是在北京堂子里有了相好的姐儿,不舍得回去了。”施琅道:“韦大人取笑了。皇上召卑职来京,垂询平台湾的方略,卑职说话胡涂,应对失旨,皇上一直没吩咐下来。卑职在京,是恭候皇上旨意。”
He started chuckling, and Songgotu chimed in with one of his bluff Manchu guffaws. Admiral Shi felt obliged to contribute to the general hilarity, and gave a muted titter. Tell me, how long have you been here in Peking?’ asked Trinket. Three years, sire,’ was Shi’s reply. Trinket seemed puzzled. ‘I thought you were in command of His Majesty’s Fujian fleet. What keeps you in town’ Some pretty girl, eh?’ ‘You jest, sire’ protested the Admiral (humour Trinket’style was clearly not his strong point). ‘His Majesty summoned me here to consult on strategy for the Taiwan campaign. I have not yet received His Majesty’s orders to proceed south.”Be patient’ replied Trinket, thinking to himself that there was certain to be some good reason for the Emperor’s delay. The time will come soon enough. Don’t worry. His Majesty always has some master plan up his sleeve.”Indeed, sire’ It sets my mind hugely at rest to hear these words from such distinguished lips.’

韦小宝心想:“小皇帝十分精明,他心中所想的大事,除了削平三藩,就是如何攻取台湾。你说话就算不中听,只要当真有办法,皇上必可原谅,此中一定另有原因。”想到索额图先前的说话,又想:“这人立过不少功劳,想是十分骄傲,皇上召他来京,他就甚么都不卖帐,一定得罪了不少权要,以致许多人故意跟他为难。”笑道:“皇上英明之极,要施将军在京候旨,定有深意。你也不用心急,时辰未到,着急也是无用。”施琅站起身来,说道:“今日得蒙韦大人指点,茅塞顿开。卑职这三年来,一直心中惶恐,只怕是忤犯了皇上,原来皇上另有深意,卑职这就安心得多了。韦大人这番开导,真是恩德无量。卑职今日回去,饭也吃得下了,觉也睡得着了。”韦小宝善于拍马,对别人的谄谀也不会当真,但听人奉承,毕竟开心,说道:“皇上曾说,一个人太骄傲了,就不中用,须得挫折一下他的骄气。别说皇上没降你的官,就算充你的军,将你打入天牢,那也是栽培你的一番美意啊。”施琅连声称是,不禁掌心出汗。索额图捋了捋胡子,说道:“是啊,韦爵爷说得再对也没有了。玉不琢,不成器,你这只玉碗若不是又车又磨,只是一块粗糙石头,有甚么用?”施琅应道:“是,是。”
Trinket was smart enough to recognize courtier’talk when he heard it, but he was also a creature of vanity, and couldn’t help enjoying the flattery a little.’Listen to me, Admiral. Take my advice. Take things easy. Relax. Just put your faith in HM. He’s a wise old bird, for all his youth. Maybe he just wants to keep you waiting. He does that sometimes. Likes to take people down a peg or two, make sure they’re not getting above themselves. Really you should consider yourself lucky. You haven’t actually been demoted or anything. Sometimes he even puts people in the clink, just to test them out, see what they’re made of.”Indeed, indeed.’The palms of the Admiral’s hands were sweating. Songgotu tugged thoughtfully at his whiskers.’What Lord Wei says is so very true’ he commented, in the smooth, judicious tone of another highly placed person in the know. ‘As the saying goes’ “A piece of jade must needs be rubbed smooth, if it is ever to become a vessel of great worth.” A bit like that jade bowl you just gave Lord Wei. Dashed fine piece that. . .”Yes, yes’ mumbled Admiral Shi.

韦小宝道:“施将军,请坐。听说你从前在郑成功部下,为了甚么事跟他闹翻的啊?”施琅道:“回大人的话:卑职本来是郑成功之父郑芝龙的部下,后来拨归郑成功统属。郑成功称兵造反,卑职见事不明,胡里胡涂的,也就跟着统帅办事。”韦小宝道:“嗯,你反清复……”他本想说“你反清复明,原也是应当的”,他平时跟天地会的弟兄们在一起,说顺了口,险些儿漏了出来,幸好及时缩住,忙道:“后来怎样?”施琅道:“那一年郑成功在福建打仗,他的根本之地是在厦门,大清兵忽施奇袭,攻克厦门。郑成功进退无路,十分狼狈。卑职罪该万死,不明白该当效忠王师,竟带兵又将厦门从大清兵手中夺了过去。”韦小宝道:“你这可给郑成功立了一件大功啊。”施琅道:“当时郑成功也升了卑职的官,赏赐了不少东西,可是后来为了一件小事,却闹翻了。”韦小宝问道:“那是甚么事?”施琅道:“卑职属下有一名小校,卑职派他去打探军情。不料这人又怕死又偷懒,出去在荒山里睡了几天,就回来胡说八道一番。我听他说得不大对头,仔细一问,查明了真相,就吩咐关了起来,第二天斩首。不料这小校狡猾得紧,半夜里逃了出去,逃到郑成功府中,向郑成功的夫人董夫人哭诉,说我冤枉了他。董夫人心肠软,派人向我说情,要我饶了这小校,说甚么用人之际,不可擅杀部属,以免士卒寒心。”韦小宝听他说到董夫人,想起陈近南的话来,这董夫人喜欢次孙克墍,几次三番要改立他为世子,不由得怒气勃发,骂道:“这老婊子,军中之事,她妇道人家懂得甚么?他奶奶的,天下大事,就败在这种老婊子手里。部将犯了军法倘若不斩,人人都犯军法了,那还能带兵打仗么?这老婊子胡涂透顶,就知道喜欢小白脸。”
Trinket now asked him to tell the story of how he had transferred his allegiance from the ‘rebel’ leader Coxinga to the Manchu Imperial cause. Shi described the early days of his career, when he had fought for Coxinga (and indeed Coxinga’s father before him) against the Manchu troops. As he listened to this tale of the Resistance, Trinket, who had so often talked of these heroic events with his Triad brothers, had to bite his tongue to prevent himself from cheering, or uttering some of the Triad mantras that he knew so well. Such were the hazards of his multiple existence!As Shi Lang’s tale unfolded, it became clear that the real cause of his shift of allegiance was the fact that he had offended Coxinga’s consort, Lady Dong. At the very mention of her name, Trinket cried angrily: ‘That foul old whore!’ The late Marshal’s lady was, as he knew only too well, the great protector of her younger grandson, the hateful Zheng Keshuang. He now learned that, as a result of her interference, Shi Lang had been thrown into prison. He had been lucky to escape. His entire family-father, wife, children-had been arrested and executed, to placate Lady Dong.

施琅万料不到他听到这件事会如此愤慨,登时大起知己之感,一拍大腿,说道:“韦大人说得再对也没有了。您也是带惯兵的,知道军法如山,克敌制胜,全仗着号令严明。”韦小宝道:“老婊子的话,你不用理,那个甚么小校老校,抓过来喀嚓一刀就是。”施琅道:“卑职当时的想法,跟韦大人一模一样。我对董夫人派来的人说,姓施的是国姓爷的部将,只奉国姓爷的将令。我意思是说,我不是董夫人的部将,可不奉夫人的将令。”韦小宝气忿忿的道:“是极,谁做了老婊子的部将,那可倒足大霉了。”索额图和施琅听他大骂董夫人为“老婊子”,都觉好笑,又怎想得到他另有一番私心。施琅道:“那老……那董夫人恼了卑职的话,竟派了那小校做府中亲兵,还叫人传话来说,有本事就把那小校抓来杀了。也是卑职一时忍不下这口气,亲自去把那小校一把抓住,一刀砍了他的脑袋。”韦小宝鼓掌大赞:“杀得好,杀得妙!杀得干净利落,大快人心。”施琅道:“卑职杀了这小校,自知闯了祸,便去向郑成功谢罪。我想我立过大功,部属犯了军法,杀他并没有错。可是郑成功听了妇人之言,说我犯上不敬,当即将我扣押起来。我想国姓爷英雄慷慨,一时之气,关了我几天,也就算了。哪知过了多时,我爹爹和弟弟,以及我的妻子,都给拿了,送到牢里来。这一来我才知大事不妙,郑成功要杀我的头,乘着监守之人疏忽,逃了出来。过不多时,就得到讯息,郑成功将我全家杀得一个不留。”韦小宝摇头叹息,连称:“都是董夫人那老婊子不好。”施琅咬牙切齿的道:“郑家和我仇深似海,只可惜郑成功死得早了,此仇难以得报。卑职立下重誓,总有一天,也要把郑家全家一个个杀得干干净净。”韦小宝早知郑成功海外为王,是个大大的英雄,但听得施琅要杀郑氏全家,那自然包括他的大对头郑克墍在内,益觉志同道合,连连点头,说道:“该杀,该杀!你不报此仇,不是英雄好汉。”
Shi Lang and Trinket had found a common cause in their hatred of Lady Dong, and in their contempt for women meddling in military affairs. Shi vowed that he would never rest until he had taken vengeance and wiped out all of Coxinga’s descendants, the entire Zheng clan. This was by no means the first time that Trinket had experienced the pangs of divided loyalties, and it would certainly not be the last. On the one hand, he had always been led (by his Triad friends) to think of Coxinga as a great patriotic hero (rather than a ruthless pirate with a Japanese wife and maniacal tendencies). If he had been a hero, then wiping out his descendants seemed a dastardly thing to do. But on the other hand, he adored Green, and if extermination of the Zheng clan meant removing the obnoxious Zheng Keshuang from the face of the earth (and leaving the field clear for Trinket himself), then it was clearly an extermination devoutly to be desired. The agony of his dilemma was short’lived. Love won hands down over patriotism. Trinket nodded his head enthusiastically. ‘Yes! Kill the lot of ’em! You owe it to your family’s memory. Vengeance must be yours!’

施琅自从给康熙召来北京之后,只见到皇帝一次,从此便在北京投闲置散,做的官仍是福建水师提督,爵位仍是靖海将军,但在北京领一份干饷,无职无权,比之顺天府衙门中一个小小公差的威势尚不如,以他如此雄心勃勃的汉子,自然是坐困愁城,犹似热锅上蚂蚁一般。这三年之中,他过不了几天便到兵部去打个转。送礼运动,钱是花得不少,历年来宦囊所积,都已填在北京官场这无底洞里,但皇帝既不再召见,回任福建的上谕也不知何年何月才拿得到手。到得后来,兵部衙门一听到施琅的名字就头痛,他手头已紧,没钱送礼,谁也不再理他。此刻听得韦小宝言语和他十分投机,登觉回任福建有望,脸上满是兴奋之色。索额图道:“施将军,郑成功杀你全家,确是不该。不过你也由此而因祸得福,弃暗投明。若不是如此,只怕你此刻还在台湾抗拒王师,做那叛逆造反之事了。”施琅道:“索大人说得是。”
And so on. Shi Lang was needless to say delighted (and not a little surprised) to have found such an enthusiastic anti-Zheng ally in the person of Lord Wei. The past three years in Peking had been something of an ordeal for him. He had waited and waited for something to happen. No amount of bribery had succeeded in promoting his cause. He was growing tired of kicking his heels. No Edict to go South and launch the campaign was forthcoming from the Palace. Indeed, in all that time, he had been accorded but one audience with the Emperor. Somehow as a result of this brief conversation with Trinket, the Emperor’s favourite, he saw light at the end of the tunnel. Songgotu had his own words of advice to offer.’Admiral Shi, you are quite justified in your feelings. Coxinga should never have done what he did to your family. But think for a moment. If he hadn’t done that terrible thing, you might still be a rebel fighting against the Throne. You might never have seen the light. So you see, in a way, it was a blessing in disguise.”Indeed, sire, what you say has a certain truth.’

韦小宝问道:“郑成功杀了你全家,你一怒之下,就向大清投诚了?”施琅道:“是。先帝恩重如山,卑职起义投诚,先帝派我在福建办事。卑职感恩图报,奋不顾身,立了些微功,升为福建同安副将。恰好郑成功率兵来攻,卑职跟他拚命,仗着先帝洪福,大获全胜。先帝大恩,升我为同安总兵。后来攻克了厦门、金门和梧屿,又联合一批红毛兵,坐了夹板船,用了洋枪洋炮,把郑成功打得落海而逃,先帝升卑职为福建水师提督,又加了靖海将军的头衔。其实卑职功劳是半分也没有的,一来是我犬清皇上福份大,二来是朝中诸位大人指示得宜。”韦小宝微笑道:“你从前在郑成功军中,又在福建跟他打了几场硬仗,台湾的情形自然是很明白的。皇上召你来问攻台的方略,你怎么说了?”
‘So if I understand you properly,’ said Trinket, ‘you switched sides because Coxinga killed your family.”Yes. His Late Majesty gave me command of the Fujian army and navy, and we drove Coxinga from his stronghold in Amoy. There were some Dutch troops fighting with us, in their big warships, and we had some guns and cannon. His Late Majesty appointed me Admiral of the Fujian Fleet, in charge of Pacifyingthe Ocean.”With all your years in Coxinga’s service,’ said Trinket, ‘you must know the situation in Taiwan like the back of your hand. What advice did you give His Majesty for the Taiwan campaign?’

施琅道:“卑职启奏皇上:台湾孤悬海外,易守难攻。台湾将士,又都是当年跟随郑成功的百战精兵。如要攻台,统兵官须得事权统一,内无掣肘,便宜行事,方得成功。”韦小宝道:“你说要独当一面,让你一个人来发号施令?”施琅道:“卑职不敢如此狂妄。不过攻打台湾,须得出其不意,攻其无备。京师与福建相去数千里,遇有攻台良机,上奏请示,待得朝中批示下来,说不定时机已失。台湾诸将别人也就罢了,有一个陈永华足智多谋,又有一个刘国轩骁勇善战,实是大大的劲敌,倘若贸然出兵,难有必胜把握。”
‘I submitted a memorial on this subject, in which I made a number of points. Firstly, Taiwan is an island, which makes it easy to defend and hard to take. Then, Coxinga’s generals are seasoned veterans. Our attack needs to be carefully coordinated. Above all, it needs to have a single command.”And that single command should be you’ put in Trinket. ‘I would never venture to put it as bluntly as that. But if we are to take their defence by surprise, then decisions will have to be made on the spot, on the coast in Fujian. It is no good waiting for authorization to arrive from the Court in Peking. By then, the opportunity for victory will have passed us by. There are a couple of exceptionally good commanders in the Taiwan army’ Liu Guoxuan and Chen Jinnan. They will be hard to beat.’

韦小宝点头道:“那也说得是。皇上英明之极,不会怪你这些话说得不对。你又说了些甚么?”施琅道:“皇上又垂询攻台方略。卑职回奏说:台湾虽然兵精,毕竟为数不多。大清攻台,该当双管齐下。第一步是用间,使得他们内部不和。最好是散布谣言,说道陈永华有废主自立之心,要和刘国轩两人阴谋篡位。郑经疑心一起,说不定就此杀了陈刘二人;就算不杀,也必不肯重用,削了二人的权柄。陈刘二人,一相一将,那是台湾的两根柱子,能够二人齐去,当然最好,就算只去一人,余下一个也是独木难支大厦了。”韦小宝暗暗心惊:“他妈的,你想害我师父。”问道:“还有个‘一剑无血’冯锡范呢?”
Trinket nodded. He appreciated anyone who praised his Shifu, the Helmsman Chen Jinnan.’You’re right there. And I’m sure His Majesty is smart enough to appreciate the truth of what you are saying. What else did you offer by way of advice?”I suggested a two’pronged attack. On the one hand, we use spies to sow dissension within the Taiwan ranks. We spread rumours that Chen and Liu have ambitions to seize power. That will provoke Zheng Jing (Coxinga’s son, the one they call the Prince of Yanping) to purge two of his own best generals. He will killthem outright, or he will strip them of all their power. Either way we stand to gain hugely.’ Tamardy!’ thought Trinket to himself all of a sudden. This man is planning to kill my Shifu!’ ‘And what about that general of theirs called Feng Xifan, the one known as the Bloodless Sword?’

施琅大为惊奇,说道:“韦大人居然连冯锡范也知道。”韦小宝道:“我是听皇上闲谈时说起过的。皇上于台湾的内情可清楚啦!皇上说,董夫人喜欢小白脸孙子郑克墍,不喜欢世子郑克墍,要儿子改立世子,可是郑经不肯。可有这件事?”施琅又惊又佩,说道:“圣天子聪明智慧,旷古少有,居于深宫之中,明见万里之外。皇上这话,半点不错。”韦小宝道:“你说攻打台湾,有两条法子,一条是用计害死陈永华和刘国轩,另一条是甚么啊?”施琅道:“另一条就是水师进攻了。单攻一路,不易成功,须得三路齐攻。北攻鸡笼港,中攻台湾府,南攻打狗港,只要有一路成功,上陆而立定了脚根,台湾人心一乱,那就势如破竹了。”
Shi looked at Trinket in amazement. ‘You know about him too, sire?’ ‘Oh, just some stuff I picked up from HM,’ said Trinket as casually as possible. The Emperor is remarkably well informed on the Taiwan issue. He also told me that Lady Dong is far too fond of that little runt of a grandson of hers, and has taken against Zheng Jing’s first son, Zheng Kezang. She wants Zheng Jing to make the runt his heir, but he refuses. Is that true?’ Shi Lang was most impressed. ‘His Majesty is indeed unprecedently wise! From the depths of his Palace he knows of events that are unfolding many hundreds of miles away! Yes, that is the exact truth of the situation!’ ‘Just now you mentioned a two’pronged attack. The first prong was using spies to bring about the downfall of Chen Jinnan and Liu Guoxuan. What is the second?’ ‘A full’scale naval invasion,’ replied Shi Lang, without the slightest hesitation. ‘And the invasion itself has to be three’pronged. One section will land at Keelung Harbour in the north’east; one at Taiwan Port;’ (this is what the Chinese called Fort Zeelandia, on the west of the island) ‘and the third at Dagou Port on the south coast. If even one of these three succeeds in getting a foothold on the island, the people are bound to panic and we will have the road clear to victory.’

韦小宝道:“统带水师,海上打仗,你倒内行得很。”施琅道:“卑职一生都在水师,熟识海战。”韦小宝心念一动,寻思:“这人要去杀姓郑的一家,干掉了郑克墍这小子,倒也不错。不过郑成功是个大大的英雄好汉,杀了他全家,可说不过去。何况他攻台湾,就是要害我师父,那可不行。此人善打海战,派他去干这件事,倒是一举两得。”转头问索额图:“大哥,你以为这件事该当怎么办?”索额图道:“皇上英明,高瞻远瞩,算无遗策,咱们做奴才的,一切听皇上吩咐办事就是了。”韦小宝心想:“你倒滑头得很,不肯担干系。”端起茶碗。侍候的长随高声叫道:“送客!”施琅起身行礼,辞了出去。索额图说了会闲话,也即辞去。
‘Anyone can see, my dear Admiral,’ said Trinket, ‘that you are an old hand when it comes to battles at sea.’ ‘I’ve spent most of my active life on the water,’ was Shi’s reply. During this perfunctory exchange, Trinket’s real thoughts were running as follows’ This is all very well. If he does attack Taiwan it’ll be bad news for the Insufferable runt, which will be excellent news for me; but it’ll also be bad news for my Shifu, which will be bad news for me too. This will never do. … I know! If this man is such a brilliant commander, why not get him transferred to another mission’ Like this latest one of mine, for example’ Interesting thought.. .’ Tea was served, and shortly afterwards the Admiral took his leave.

Strategy, and a Golden Bowl

韦小宝进宫去见皇帝,禀告施琅欲攻台湾之事。康熙道:“先除三藩,再平台湾,这是根本的先后次序。施琅这人才具是有的,我怕放他回福建之后,这人急于立功报仇,轻举妄动,反而让台湾有了戒备,因此一直留着他在北京。”韦小宝登时恍然大悟,说道:“对,对!施琅一到福建,定要打造战船,操演兵马,搞了个打草惊蛇。咱们攻台湾,定要神不知,鬼不觉,人人以为不打,却忽然打了,打那姓郑的小子一个手忙脚乱。”
When Trinket next saw Kang Xi, he brought up his recent conversation with Shi Lang on the subject of Taiwan.’My first priority,’ said the Emperor, without any hesitation, ‘is to quell the Satrap and put a stop to his plans. Taiwan will have to wait. As for Shi Lang, I don’t deny his talent, but I’ve always been a little wary of his emotional involvement. Too much revenge about him for my liking. Could cause him to act rashly and give the whole game away. That’s why I’ve kept him here in Peking all this time. On a short leash, so to speak.”Of course!’ exclaimed Trinket, as if suddenly seeing the light. If he started building ships and training troops, he’d spoil everything. The attack on Taiwan must be kept absolutely secret. We must take those scoundrels completely by surprise.’

康熙微笑道:“用兵虚实之道,正该如此。再说,遣将不如激将,我留施琅在京,让他全身力气没处使,闷他个半死,等到一派出去,那就奋力效命,不敢偷懒了。”韦小宝道:“皇上这条计策,诸葛亮也不过如此。奴才看过一出《定军山》的戏,诸葛亮激得老黄忠拚命狠打,就此一刀斩了那个春夏秋冬甚么的大花面。”
Kang Xi laughed.’You’re becoming quite the little strategist! That’s straight from Master Sun’s The Art of War, where he talks about Empty and Full, Weakness and Strength, and the Art of Deception! And at the same time I’m keeping Shi Lang in Peking so that when he does finally go into battle he will be lean and hungry, and ready to win.”Just like another great strategist, Zhuge Liang, in the opera!’ cried Trinket, not to be outdone by the Emperor’s literary references. ‘I’ve seen it! Zhuge, Sleeping Dragon, gets Huang Zhong all worked up and excited, and in the end he defeats General What’s’his’name and cuts his head off. . . . The one with the painted face.’

康熙微笑道:“夏侯渊。”韦小宝道:“是,是。皇上记性真好,看过了戏,连大花面的名字也记得。”康熙笑道:“这大花面的名字,书上写得有的。施琅送了甚么礼物给你?”韦小宝奇道:“皇上甚么都知道。那施琅送了我一只玉碗,我可不大喜欢。”康熙问道:“玉碗有甚么不好?”韦小宝道:“玉碗虽然珍贵,可是一打就烂。奴才跟着皇上办事,双手捧的是一只千年打不烂、万年不生锈的金饭碗,那是大大的不同。”康熙哈哈大笑。韦小宝道:“皇上,奴才忽然想到一个主意,请皇上瞧着,能不能办?”康熙道:“甚么主意?”韦小宝道:“那施琅说道他统带水师,很会打海战……”康熙左手在桌上一拍,道:“好主意,好主意。小桂子,你聪明得很,你就带他去辽东,派他去打神龙岛。”
Kang Xi laughed.’His name was Xiahou Yuan.”You know everything! What a memory you’ve got!”I read the story in the novel, The Three Kingdoms. That’s where I remember it from, not the opera. But tell me about the present that Shi Lang gave you.’Trinket was impressed.’You really do know everything! It was a jade bowl. Actually I don’t much care for it.”Why not?”It’s too breakable. I much prefer those solid gold ones that you serve food in here. Nothing could break those, not in a million years!’ Kang Xi laughed again. ‘Majesty,’ Trinket continued, ‘I’ve just had an idea. If that Admiral Shi Lang is as good as they say he is, why not-‘ ‘Of course! What a brilliant idea!’ Kang Xi brought his left hand smartly down on the table. ‘What a clever fellow you are, Laurie! Of course you’re right! You must take him with you to the north’east. He can deal with the Mystic Dragons! Perfect!’

韦小宝心下骇然,瞪视着康熙,过了半晌,说道:“皇上定是神仙下凡,怎么奴才心中想的主意还没说出口,皇上就知道了。”康熙微笑道:“马屁拍得够了。小桂子,这法子大妙。我本在担心,你去攻打神龙岛,不知能不能成功。这施琅是个打海战的人才,叫他先去神龙岛操练操练,不过事先可不能泄漏了风声。”韦小宝忙道:“是,是。”康熙当即派人去传了施琅来,对他说道:“朕派韦小宝去长白山祭天,他一力举荐,说你办事能干,要带你同去。朕将就听着,也不怎么相信。”韦小宝暗暗好笑:“诸葛亮在激老黄忠了。”施琅连连磕头,说道:“臣跟着韦都统去办事,一定尽忠效命,奋不顾身,以报皇上逃邝。”康熙道:“这一次是先试你一试,倘若果然可用,将来再派你去办别的事。”施琅大喜,磕头道:“皇上逃邝浩荡。”康熙道:“此事机密,除了韦小宝一人之外,朝中无人得知。你一切遵从韦小宝的差遣便是,这就下去罢。”施琅磕了头,正要退出,康熙微笑道:“韦都统待你不错,你打一只大大的金饭碗送他罢。”施琅答应了,心中大惑不解,不明皇上用意,眼见天颜甚喜,料想决计不是坏事。
Trinket looked absolutely flabbergasted. He stared at Kang Xi for a moment, and then exclaimed’ ‘You definitely are some sort of wonder’worker, Majesty! How did you manage to read my secret thoughts?’ Kang Xi smiled. ‘Spare me the flattery, there’s a good fellow. Laurie, this is the perfect solution. I was always a bit worried by the idea of you having to take on the Mystic Dragons. Shi Lang’s the very man to help you. But the operation must still be kept top secret.’ ‘Of course,’ Trinket hastened to assure him. So Kang Xi summoned Shi Lang (for the long’awaited audience), and instructed him to accompany Trinket on this secret mission. He intimated that this was Shi Lang’s opportunity to prove himself for the Big One’ the invasion of Taiwan. Shi Lang was needless to say thrilled. ‘Colonel Wei has said good things about you, Admiral Shi,’ said Kang Xi. ‘I’d say a present of some sort might be in order. Something along the lines of a golden bowl?’ Shi Lang made a mental note of this, and took his leave of the Emperor.

韦小宝回到子爵府时,见施琅已等在门口,说了不少感恩提拔的话。韦小宝笑道:“施将军,这一次只好委屈你一下,请你在我营中,做一个小小参领,以防外人知觉。”施琅大喜,说道:“一切遵从都统大人吩咐。”他知韦小宝派他的职司越小,越加当他是自己人,将来飞黄腾达的机会越多,如果派他当个亲兵,那是更加妙了;又道:“皇上吩咐卑职打造一只金饭碗奉呈都统。不知都统大人喜欢甚么款式,卑职好监督高手匠人连夜赶着打造。”韦小宝笑道:“那是皇上的恩典,不论甚么款式,咱们做奴才的双手捧着金饭碗吃饭,心中都感激皇恩浩荡。”施琅连声称是。

韦小宝心想:“老子本想逃之夭夭,辞官不干了。现下找到了你这替死鬼,最好你去跟洪教主拚个同归于尽,哥儿俩寿与虫齐。”施琅去后,韦小宝去把李力士、风际中、徐天川、玄贞道人等天地会兄弟叫来,将经过情形详细说了。李力士道:“这姓施的贼子反叛国姓爷,又要攻打台湾,陷害总舵主,天幸教他撞在韦香主手里,咱们怎生摆布他才好?”韦小宝道:“神龙教勾结吴三桂和罗刹国,现下皇帝派我领施琅去剿神龙教,让这姓施的跟神龙教打个昏天黑地,两败俱伤,咱们再来个渔翁得利。”众人齐声赞好。韦小宝道:“这姓施的精明能干,我要靠他打神龙岛,可不能先将他杀了。众位哥哥须得小心,别让他瞧出破绽来。”高彦超道:“我们都扮作骁骑营的鞑子,平日少跟他见面,就算见到,谅他也不敢得罪鞑子。”

次日下午,施琅捧着一只锦盒,到子爵府来求见。韦小宝打开锦盒,果然是一只大大的金饭碗,怕不有六七两重。施琅道:“卑职本该再打造得大些,就怕……就怕都统大人用起来不方便。”韦小宝左手将金饭碗在手里掂了掂,笑道:“已够重了。施将军,这许多字写的是甚么哪?”施琅道:“中间四个大字,是‘公忠体国’。上面这行小字是:‘钦赐领内侍卫副大臣、兼骁骑营正黄朴诩统、赐穿黄马褂、巴鲁图勇号、一等子爵韦小宝。’下面更小的字是:‘臣靖海将军施琅奉旨监造’。”韦小宝甚喜,笑道:“这可当真多谢了。”心道:“是啊,我的金饭碗是皇上赐的,你能给我甚么金饭碗了?这老施倒也不是笨蛋。”
The following day he arrived at Trinket’s mansion, and gave him a new present-a solid gold rice’bowl. Trinket was most appreciative and wanted to know what the little characters engraved on the outside said. Shi Lang read them out for him’ ‘Presented to the Great Minister, Plain Yellow Banner Colonel of the Valiant Regiment, wearer of the Yellow Riding Jacket, Baturu Brave, Viscount First Class Trinket Wei.’ And below, in still smaller characters’ ‘Made at His Majesty’s Command by Admiral Shi Lang, Pacifier of the Ocean.’ Trinket looked pleased as punch. ‘Brilliant! It’s just what I wanted!’ And to himself he was thinking’ ‘No fool, this Shi Lang!’

Later that day Trinket had a private consultation with his Triad friends’ Tertius, Li Shimin, Feng Jizhong, Apothecary Xu, and Father Obscurus. When they learned that their Lodge Master Wei had run into Shi Lang, who so far as they were concerned was quite simply a black’hearted traitor to the cause, they were all for killing Shi outright. But Trinket persuaded them that it was in fact in the interests of their cause to keep him alive for the time being. Let him first eliminate the Mystic Dragons, who were dangerous members of the Wu Sangui alliance (in this respect Triads and Manchus were of one mind). Then they could deal with Shi Lang himself.

Trinket at Sea

过得两日,康熙颁下上谕,命韦小宝带同十门神武大炮,自大沽出海,渡辽东湾北上,先祭辽海,再登陆辽东,到长白山放炮祭天。韦小宝接了上谕,心想这次是去攻打神龙教,胖头陀和陆高轩可不能带,命他二人留在北京,带了双儿和天地会兄弟,率领骁骑营人马,来到天津。
A day or two later, Kang Xi issued the formal Edict. Viscount Trinket Wei was to set sail from the port of Dagu, in command of a fleet equipped with ten Cannon of Divine Might, and sail across the Gulf of Liaodong. He was to perform (on the Emperor’s behalf) ritual sacrifices to the Spirit of the Gulf, and then disembark on the coast of the Liaodong Peninsula. Thence, he was to proceed to the Great White Mountains, where he was to perform sacrifices to the Great Spirit of Heaven. Trinket did not think it quite appropriate to take Fat Dhuta and Doctor Lu with him on this expedition (the real goal of which was, after all, to destroy the very Sect of which they were prominent members’at’large). He gave them orders to lie low in Peking, and await his return. At the head of a detachment of his own Valiants, with Doublet and his Triad friends in tow, he finally set off and soon arrived at the bustling city’port of Tianjin.

文武百官迎接钦差大臣,或恭谨逾恒,马屁十足;或奉承得体,恰到好处,惟有一个大胡子武官却神色傲慢,行礼之时显是敷衍了事,浑不将韦小宝瞧在眼里。韦小宝大怒,立时便要发作,转念一想:“皇上吩咐了的,这次一切要办得十分隐秘,不可多生事端,惹人谈论。你瞧不起我,难道老子就瞧得起你这大胡子了?咱哥儿俩来比比,谁做的官大些?”跟着有个官儿大赞他手刃鳌拜的英雄事迹,韦小宝洋洋自得,便不去理那大胡子了。当晚韦小宝将天津水师营总兵请来,取出康熙密旨。那水师营总兵叫黄甫,见密旨中吩咐他带领水师营官兵船只,听由钦差大臣指挥,干办军情要务,接旨后躬身听训。韦小宝问了水师营的官兵人数,船只多少,便传施琅到来,要他和黄甫计议出海之事,自到后营,去和众兵将推牌九赌钱去了。在天津停留三日,水师营办了粮食、清水、弹药、弓箭等物上船。韦小宝率领水师营及骁骑营官兵,大战船十艘,二号战船三十八艘,出海扬帆而去。
That evening he met with the local naval commander to discuss the details of his fleet and its equipment. Shi Lang was called into the meeting, and Trinket left him alone with the commander, while he himself sneaked out to have a hand of cards with the lower ranks. They were in Tianjin for three days all told. Food, water, gunpowder, bows and arrows-everything was taken to the port of Dagu and put on board, and finally the little armada set sail and headed out to sea. A corps of sailors, Trinket’s Valiants, ten ships of the line, and thirty-eight sloops.

离了大沽,来到海上,韦小宝才宣示圣旨,此行是去剿灭神龙岛,上下官兵务须用命,成功之后,各有升赏。众官兵眼见己方人多势众,钦差大臣又带有十门西洋大炮,那神龙岛不过是一群海盗盘踞之地,大炮轰得几炮,海盗还不打个精光,这次立功升官是一定的了。当下人人欢呼,精神百倍。
Once they were out at sea, Trinket revealed to his men the true nature of their mission. This was no sacrificial outing, but war. They were to give of their utmost, and if the outcome was successful, they would be suitably rewarded with promotion. The men were supremely confident of their success. What could a bunch of pirates on their island hide’out hope to do against the combined firepower of this Imperial fleet, complete with its ten great cannon, freshly cast to the very latest foreign design. Promotion was round the corner. Spirits were high.

韦小宝坐在主舰之中,想起上次去神龙岛是给方怡骗去的,这姑娘虽然狡猾,但那几日在海上共处的温柔滋味,此时追忆,大是神往,寻思:“一到岛边,倘若大炮乱轰,将神龙教的教众先轰死大半,几千官兵一涌而上,洪教主武功再高,那也抵敌不住。只不过这样一来,说不定把我那方怡小娘皮一炮轰死了,这可大大的不妙。就算不死,轰掉了一条手臂甚么的,也可惜得很。”他本来害怕洪教主,只想脚底抹油,溜之大吉,但此刻有施琅主持,几十艘大战船在海上扬帆而前,又有新造的十门神武大炮,这一仗有胜无败,但想怎生既能保得方怡无恙,又须灭了神龙教,那才两全其美。于是把施琅叫来,问他攻岛之计。
As he sat on deck gazing out to sea, Trinket found himself thinking back to his first trip to Snake Island, with Fang Yi, sister’in’arms of the Little Countess. He remembered those days of romantic bliss, when he had stood on deck staring at her lovely face, that ‘indescribable, adorable vision of beauty’. … True, it had all turned out to be a plot, to deliver him into the hands of her Leaders in the Sect. But their sea journey there had been one of those magical experiences, like a dream. Now they were going to take Snake Island by storm, and the Leader and all his men would be powerless to resist them, powerless against their great cannon! But Fang Yi was on the island! What if she were killed in the process’ Or had an arm or a leg blown off by a cannon’ball’ That would be most terrible. . . . Here was a serious dilemma. How to destroy the Mystic Dragons, and yet preserve the lovely Fang Yi unharmed. Trinket sent for Shi Lang, to hear his plans for the attack.

施琅打开手中带着的卷宗,取出一张大地图来,摊在桌上,指着海中的一个小岛,说道:“这是神龙岛。”韦小宝见神龙岛上已画了个红圈,三个红色的箭头分从北、东、南三方指向红圈,大为佩服,说道:“原来你早已想好了攻打神龙岛的计策。我是离了大沽之后,才颁示皇上的密旨,你怎地早就预备好了海图?”施琅道:“卑职听说大人是要从大沽经海道前赴辽东,是以预备了这一带的海图。卑职一向喜欢海上生涯,海图是看惯了的。”韦小宝道:“原来如此,看来咱们这一战定是旗开得胜,船到成功。”施琅道:“那是托赖皇上的圣德,韦大人的威望。依卑职的浅见,咱们分兵三路,从岛北、岛东、岛南三路进攻,留下了岛西一路不攻,轰了一阵大炮之后,岛上匪徒抵挡不住,多半会从岛西落海而逃,咱们在岛西三十里外这个小岛背后,埋伏了二十艘船。一等匪徒逃来,这二十艘战船拥出来拦住去路,大炮一响,北、东、南三路战船围将上来,将海盗的船只围在垓心。那时一网打尽,没一个海盗能逃得性命。”韦小宝鼓掌叫好,连称妙计。
Shi brought a large map with him, which he spread on the table. This’ he said, pointing to a speck in the middle of the sea, ‘is Snake Island.’ It had been circled in red, and there were three red arrows converging on it, from the north, east, and south. Trinket was most impressed. ‘You’ve worked it all out, haven’t you!’ ‘I thought a three’pronged attack would be best.’ (It seemed to Trinket that Shi Lang was rather partial to three’pronged attacks!) ‘We leave the west coast of the island unthreatened. We pound them with the big guns, and the bandits will turn and flee. They’ll automatically think of escaping from the unthreatened west coast. That’s where we’ll catch them. See here-ten miles west of Snake Island, another smaller island.’ He pointed on the map. ‘We’ll have twenty or so smaller ships lying in wait here, and the bandits will flee straight into their arms! There will be a signal from one of the big guns, and the rest of the fleet will encircle them. Then we’ve got them!’Trinket clapped his hands enthusiastically.’Excellent! Excellent kungfu!’

施琅道:“请大人率领中军,在这无名小岛上坐镇督战,务请不要上船出战。中军之地必须稳若泰山。统帅的旗舰若有稍微损伤,给大风吹坏了桅杆甚么的,不免动摇军心。卑职统率战船,三路进攻。黄总兵统率伏兵拦截。十艘小艇来往报告军情,如何行动,请大人随时发号施令,以便卑职和黄总兵遵行。”韦小宝大喜,心想:“你这人倒乖觉得很,明知我怕死,便让我在这三十里外的小岛上坐镇,当真万无一失。就算你们全军覆没,老子也还来得及赶上快船,溜之乎也,妙计,妙计。”当下大赞了他一番。施琅道:“卑职久仰韦大人的威名,得知韦大人当年手刃满洲第一勇士鳌拜,把满汉第一勇士的名号抢了过来,因此钦赐‘巴鲁图’勇号,武勇天下扬名。卑职只担心一件事,就怕大人要报上逃邝,打仗之时奋不顾身,倘若给炮火损伤了大人一个小指头儿,皇上必定大大怪罪。卑职这一生的前程就此毁了,倒不打紧,却辜负了大人提拔重用的知遇大恩,卑职万死莫赎。因此务请大人体谅,保重万金之体。”
‘I want you, Colonel, to take a detachment of men and pitch camp on this little island. Your job will be to provide a solid command post and liaison centre.”Crafty!’ thought Trinket to himself. ‘You know perfectly well that I’m scared shitless by this whole attack, so you’re putting me on a nice little island well out of harm’s way. If the lot of you get wiped out, I can still make a quick getaway. Excellent! Suits me perfectly.’He congratulated Shi Lang once again on his skilful strategic planning.’My thinking was this, Colonel’ knowing you to be a great warrior, the slayer of the mighty Oboi and so on, I was concerned that you might get too carried away in the heat of battle. I could never forgive myself if the slightest thing happened to you. I already owe you so much.’

韦小宝叹了口气,说道:“坐船打仗,那是挺有趣的玩意儿。我本想亲自冲锋,将那神龙教的教主揪了过来。你既这么说,那只好让你去干了。”施琅道:“是,是。大人体谅下情,卑职感激不尽。”韦小宝心想:“你在北京熬了三年,已精通做官的法门,老子本想干了你,瞧你如此精乖,倒有些不忍了。‘满汉第一勇士’这个头衔,今日倒是第一次听见,亏你想得出。”说道:“那神龙岛上,有几百名小姑娘,其中有几个是从宫里逃出去的,皇上吩咐了,务须生擒活捉。攻岛之时须可小心在意,大炮不可乱轰,倘若轰死了那几名宫女,皇上必定怪罪,你功劳再大,也是功不抵过。这是第一件大事。”
Trinket sighed convincingly.’It’s true, I was really looking forward to being in the thick of it. Hoping I could be the first to get my hands on that Mystic Dragon Leader chap. Kill him in single combat. But I suppose I’d better go along with your idea.’He paused for effect, then continued”I happen to know that there are a hundred or so young ladies in that Sect. And some of them were actually abducted from the Palace. His Majesty has given orders that they are to be taken alive. So you’ll have to be very careful where you point your big guns. If one of these young ladies gets killed by mistake, HM will be extremely displeased.’

施琅吃了一惊,说道:“若不是大人关照,卑职险些闯了大祸出来。这次攻岛,只要是女的,就只能活捉,不能杀伤,尽数拿来,由大人发落便是。”韦小宝道:“这就是了。这几名宫女,我是见过的,一见就认得出。不过这种皇宫里的事,嗯,你知道啦。”施琅道:“是。大人望安,卑职守口如瓶。宫里的事情,谁敢随口乱说?”众战船向东北进发,恰逢逆风,舟行甚慢。这日神龙岛已经不远,施琅指着左舷前方的一座小岛,说道:“那便是都统大人的大营驻扎之地。这座小岛向无名称,请大人赐名。”
Shi Lang replied: ‘Most obliged to you, Colonel, for tipping me off about the ladies. All female persons to be taken alive and brought directly to yourself.”That’s right. And this is to be kept top secret. Understood?”Absolutely.’The fleet proceeded in a north’easterly direction, into the wind, and was only able to make slow progress. But gradually they came closer to Snake Island. One day Shi Lang pointed to a small island off to their left. That is the island where you are to make camp, Colonel. The place has no name as yet; I thought perhaps you might like to give it one.’

韦小宝搔了搔头皮,说道:“要我想名字,可要了我的老命啦。嗯,这次我做庄,你是我庄家手下的拆角,咱们推牌九,总得把神龙岛吃个一干二净不可。这小岛,就叫做‘通吃岛’罢。”施琅笑道:“妙极,妙极!韦大人坐镇通吃岛,那是大吉大利,不论敌军多么顽强厉害,总是吃他个精光。大人前关天牌宝一对,那是大人自己,后关至尊宝,那自然是皇上。这两副牌摊出去,怎不通吃?”韦小宝哈哈大笑,喝道:“众将官,兵发通吃岛去者!”这句话是他在看戏时学来的,此时呼喝出来,当真威风凛凛,意气风发之至。数十艘战船前后拥卫主帅旗舰,缓缓向通吃岛驶去。忽然一艘小船上的兵士呼叫起来,不久小船驶近禀报,说是海中发见一具浮尸。
Trinket scratched his head. ‘I’ve never been much good at things like names. In fact I’m not much good with words at all. Let’s think though. What am I any good at’ Cards. All right. Suppose we’re playing a game of cards, I’m the dealer, you’re the fellow to my left, I win, I clean you out. … I know! That’s it! The main object of our “game” is to wipe out those Dragons, to make a clean sweep of Snake Island. Why not call the place Sweep Island’ No, that’s no good. . . . Well, what about food’ I like food. Suppose this is a meal. After all, war is a bit like a meal. Then, the whole object of the exercise is to eat the Dragons! Dragon Fu Yung! We’ll swallow them whole! Just munch up whatever comes our way. Take pot luck-that’s it! Let’s call it Potluck Island. Not bad! Don’t you think?’ Meatball, and other Floating Objects As the fleet headed for Poduck Island, a sailor cried out from one of the smaller boats’ ‘Floating body ahead!’

韦小宝眉头一皱,心想:“出师不利,撞见浮尸!莫非这一庄要通赔?”施琅道:“恭喜大人旗开得胜,还没开炮放箭,敌人已先死了一名,真是大大的吉兆。卑职过去瞧瞧。”说着跳下小船。过了一会,施琅回上旗舰,说道:“启禀都统大人:这具浮尸手足反绑,似乎是海盗谋财害命,推人落海。”刚说到这里,小船上又叫喊起来,说道又发见了两具浮尸。韦小宝脸色甚是难看,这时施琅也说不出吉利话了,又再跳落小船察看,回上主舰时却是喜容满脸,说道:“回大人:这三具浮尸,看来是神龙岛上的。”韦小宝问道:“你怎知道?”施琅道:“第一具尸首还看不出甚么,后面两具显然都是海盗,身子壮健,定是身有武功之人。”韦小宝道:“难道是神龙岛起了内讧?”施琅道:“风从神龙岛吹来,这三具浮尸,多半是顺风飘来的。倘若敌人起了内讧,韦大人推这一庄就像是吃红烧豆腐,咬都不用咬,一口通吃。”
Shi Lang went to inspect, and reported back to Trinket that the floating corpse that had been sighted was bound hand and foot. At first sight it looked like the work of pirates. Some unfortunate navigator had probably been stripped of everything and tossed into the sea. But even as he was saying this, another sailor’s voice rang out to report two more floating corpses, to starboard. Shi Lang went off again to inspect. This time he returned with a new hypothesis’ that they were all three members of the Mystic Dragon Sect. ‘Why do you think that?’ asked Trinket. They look big strong types, the sort to have done a certain amount of kungfu training.’ ‘I wonder if perhaps there’s been some sort of fighting among the Dragons’ Trinket mused aloud. ‘A civil war, or some such thing.’ The wind’s blowing from Snake Island, so the bodies most probably floated from there,’ was Shi Lang’s comment. ‘Well, my Colonel, as you said, war is a bit of a meal. If there is a civil war going on, they’ll be like stewed beancurd! They’ll slip down a treat, nice and soft. We’ll just have to take pot luck!’

韦小宝举目向远处望去,但见海上水气蒸腾,白雾迷漫,瞧不见神龙岛,忽觉海面上有个皮球般之物,载浮载沉,渐渐飘近,问道:“那是甚么?”施琅凝视了一会,道:“这东西倒有点儿奇怪。”传令下去,吩咐小船驶过去捞来。一艘小船依令驶去捞起,船上军官大声叫道:“又是一具浮尸,是个矮胖子。”
Trinket stared at the horizon (apparently unaware of Shi Lang’s heavy’handed attempt at humour), but however hard he stared it was too misty to make out Snake Island. He did however become aware of yet another strange object bobbing about on the water. Not so much a body, more like a big bloated football. And it was gradually getting nearer.’What the devil is that?’ he asked.Shi Lang stared at it too.’Very odd . . .’He sent a small boat to fish it out of the water. As the boat got closer, the officer in charge yelled out”Another floating corpse! But this one’s very short and very round!’

韦小宝心中一动:“难道是他?”说道:“抬上来让我瞧瞧。”三名水兵将那浮尸抬上旗舰,放在甲板上。这矮胖浮尸手足都给牛皮绑住了,韦小宝一见,果然便是瘦头陀。他本已极肥,这时喝足了水,肚子高高鼓起,宛然便是个大皮球。只见海水从他口中汨汨流出,过了一会,胖肚子一起一伏,呼吸起来。众官兵叫道:“浮尸活转了。”施琅提起瘦头陀,将他后腰放在船头的链墩上,头一低,口中海水流得更加快了。过了一会,瘦头陀突然一弹而起,骂道:“你奶奶的!”跌下来时坐在船头。
‘Oh no!’ thought Trinket. ‘Not him again!”Bring it up here and let me have a look at it!’ he ordered. Three sailors heaved the fat spherical creature out of the water, and dumped it dripping on the deck. As with the other floating corpses, its hands and feet were bound with leather thongs. Trinket took one look and recognized it at once as Thin Dhuta. He’d been fat enough to start with; now he was all bloated and even more like a big ball than ever. Sea water was gurgling out of his mouth. After a minute or two, his great belly started heaving, and he seemed to be breathing again. ‘It’s alive!’ cried the sailors. Shi Lang yanked him up, and propped him against one of the fore-deck bollards. His head slumped forward, and the gurgle of sea water coming out of his mouth became a gushing torrent. Then suddenly he leapt to his feet, screaming, ‘Hot popping twatnots!’, toppled over, and ended up sitting on the deck.

众官兵吓了一跳,随即哈哈大笑。瘦头陀双手一挣,牛皮索浸湿了水,更加坚韧,却哪里挣得断?他摇了摇头,双目中尽是迷茫之色,说道:“他妈的,这是龙宫,还是阴世?”韦小宝笑道:“这里是龙宫,我是海龙王。”众官兵又都笑了起来。瘦头陀睁大了一对细眼,凝视着韦小宝,道:“你……你……你怎么在这里?”
The sailors started in alarm, then burst out laughing. Thin Dhuta struggled to break his bonds, but the thongs were tighter and stronger than ever from their long immersion in sea water, and his efforts were to no avail. He shook his head from side to side, and a glazed look came over his eyes. ‘Hot momma’s . . . where am I? In Heaven or Hell?’ ‘Dragon Heaven,’ replied Trinket, with a grin. ‘And I’m the Dragon King.’The sailors all laughed. Thin Dhuta peered at Trinket. ‘You’ What are you doing here?’

韦小宝生怕他泄漏自己隐私,说道:“这汉子奇形怪状,说不定知道神龙岛的底细,快提到我舱中审问。”两名亲兵将瘦头陀提入韦小宝的坐舱。韦小宝吩咐:“你们在外侍候,不听呼唤,不必进来。”待亲兵关上了舱门,韦小宝问道:“瘦头陀,你武功高得很哪,怎么会给人绑住了,投入大海?”
Trinket was nervous that Meatball might be about to betray one or two of his own personal secrets. ‘This thing,’ he announced, ‘may well possess useful information on the Mystic Dragons. Have him taken to my cabin at once. I shall interrogate him personally.’ Two of his guards escorted Thin Dhuta to Trinket’s cabin. Trinket instructed them to wait outside. ‘So’ he began, ‘tell me, Meatball, what’s a classy fighter like you doing all trussed up in a watery place like this?’

瘦头陀道:“老子又不是武功天下第一,怎么不会给人绑住了投入大海?”韦小宝一怔,笑道:“啊,你打不过教主。”瘦头陀道:“那又有甚么好笑?又有谁能打得过教主?”韦小宝问道:“你怎地得罪教主了?”瘦头陀道:“谁敢得罪教主他老人家?夫人说毛东珠在宫里办事不力,瞒骗教主,要将她送入神龙窟喂龙,我……我……我……”说到这里凸睛露齿,一张肥脸上神情甚是愤激。韦小宝登时恍然,那晚在慈宁宫中,假太后老婊子对他师父九难说,她是明朝大将毛甚么龙的女儿,名叫毛东珠,笑道:“你在皇宫里跟毛东珠睡一个被窝,可快活得很哪。”瘦头陀脸有得色,说道:“可不是吗?”韦小宝道:“你这条性命是我救的,是不是?”瘦头陀道:“就算是罢。”韦小宝道:“怎么算不算的?你如说我没救你性命,那也容易得很。”瘦头陀问:“怎么容易得很?”韦小宝道:“我再将你推入海中,就算没救过你性命,也就是了。”瘦头陀大叫:“不行,不行!你淹死我不打紧,我那东珠妹子可也活不成了。”韦小宝道:“她活不成就活不成,反正你也死了。”瘦头陀大叫:“不行,不行!”韦小宝问:“如果我放了你,你待怎样?”瘦头陀道:“那我多谢你啦,我还得再上神龙岛去救我那东珠妹子。”韦小宝大拇指一翘,赞道:“你有情有义!”
It transpired that at one of the Mystic Dragon struggle’sessions Madame Hong had denounced Meatball’s lover the Old Whore (Mao Dongzhu, the Fake’Empress Dowager), who had as a result been condemned to confinement in the Dragon’s Lair (Sect’speak for the island equivalent of the Satrap’s Black Hole). When Meatball had leapt to her defence, he had been clobbered and set adrift on the ocean. Thin Dhuta’s face was positively exploding with fury as he told the story. He looked fit to burst. If Trinket would only set him free, he swore that the first thing he would do would be to bounce straight back to Snake Island and rescue his lover. ‘What a gallant fellow you are!’ exclaimed Trinket.

寻思:“皇上要捉老婊子,我正发愁没地方找她,现下从这矮胖子身上着落,老婊子是一定可以找得到了。但这人武功高强,一放了他,那是放老虎容易捉老虎难。说不定啊嗬一下,反咬我一口。”瘦头陀道:“好在神龙岛上正打得天翻地覆,再去救人,可方便得多了。”韦小宝一听,精神为之一振,忙问:“神龙岛上怎么打得天翻地复?”瘦头陀道:“五龙门你打我,我打你,已打了十多天啦。谁让对方捉到了,便给绑住手脚,投在大海里喂海龙。”韦小宝问:“为甚么打起来的?”
However, what he was thinking to himself was’ ‘Here’s the perfect chance to locate the Old Whore myself and take her back in chains to the Emperor!’ ‘But on the other hand,’ his thoughts ran on, ‘is it really safe to set this little package free’ He’s such a dangerous individual, and a mean fighter. Setting a tiger free is child’s play; catching him again is no joke! I’d most probably just get bitten in the process.’ Thin Dhuta interrupted his train of thought’ There’s one thing on my side. All hell’s been let loose on the island at present. It’s civil war. That’ll make it easier to rescue her.’ Trinket asked him to explain what this civil war was all about, and Thin Dhuta obliged. The Five Branches of the Sect are all at each others’ throats. It’s been going on for over a week now. If anyone gets captured, they tie his hands and feet together with leather thongs and dump him in the sea. Food for the Water Dragons.’ ‘But what are they fighting about?’ asked Trinket.

瘦头陀侧过了一个胖胖的头颅,斜眼看着韦小宝,说道:“东珠妹子说,你是本教白龙使,执掌五龙令,怎么会不知道?”韦小宝道:“我奉教主之命,赴中原办事,岛上的事情就不清楚了。”瘦头陀突然大声怪叫。韦小宝吓了一跳,退开两步。门外四名亲兵听得怪声,生怕这矮胖子伤了都统大人,手执佩刀,一齐冲进,见矮胖子手足被绑,好端端的坐在地上,这才放心。韦小宝挥手道:“你们出去好了,没事。”众亲兵退了出去。
Thin Dhuta turned his fat face towards Trinket and squinted at him through his piggy little eyes. ‘I thought Dongzhu’-(that was how he referred to the Old Whore’ for to him she was a real, lovable human being, with a name)-‘told me you were supposed to be the White Dragon Marshal, with your own Five Dragon Disc and everything’ How come you don’t know what’s going on?”I’ve been away all this time on a top secret mission,’ replied Trinket (truthfully for once).Thin Dhuta suddenly gave a great cry, a strange, strangled sound, and Trinket stepped back aghast. The guards outside heard it and, fearing for their Master’s safety, burst into the cabin, swords in hand. But all they saw was the fat creature sitting on the ground, his hands and feet still tightly bound.’Off you go! Everything’s all right!’Trinket dismissed them with a wave of the hands and they returned to their post outside the cabin door.

韦小宝道:“你怪叫些甚么?”瘦头陀道:“糟糕!你是教主和夫人的心腹,我却把甚么事都对你说了。”韦小宝笑道:“那也没甚么糟糕。你就当作我没救你起来,你还在大海里飘啊飘的,骨嘟骨嘟的喝海水好啦。”瘦头陀道:“他奶奶的,这咸水真不好喝。”韦小宝道:“你不想喝咸水,就老老实实跟我说,五龙门为甚么自己打了起来?”
‘What was that dreadful noise all about?’ Trinket asked Thin Dhuta, when they were alone again.’I’m finished, done for! I suddenly realized. You’re one of the Leader and Madame Hong’s men, and I’ve gone and told you everything!’Trinket laughed.’You’re not finished! In fact, I’m the one who saved you from the water. Would you like to go back in there, and do some more gargling?”Oh no! That salty water tastes ho’rrrrrr’ible!’Then be a good Meatball, and tell me what they’re all fightingabout.’

瘦头陀道:“我和东珠妹子回到神龙岛时,他们已经打了好几天啦。我一问人,原来青龙使许雪亭一天晚上忽然给人杀死了,房里地下有一柄血刀。后来查到,这把血刀,是赤龙使无根道人的大弟子何盛的。”
‘Well, when Dongzhu and I got back to the island, they’d already been at it for quite a few days. Apparently the Blue Dragon Marshal, Xu Xueting, was found murdered one evening. They discovered a bloodstained dagger hidden beneath the floorboards in his room. The murderer turned out to be a young disciple of the Red Dragon Marshal, Rootless the Taoist. The Comrade’s name is He Sheng.’

韦小宝听到许雪亭为人所杀,微微一惊,立即便想:“多半是洪教主派人杀的。”只听瘦头陀又道:“教主大为震怒,问何盛为甚么暗算青龙使,何盛抵死不招,说没杀青龙使。后来青龙门的门下为掌门使报仇,把何盛杀了。赤龙门和青龙门就打了起来。”韦小宝道:“那只是赤龙跟青龙两门的事啊,怎么你说五龙门打得一塌胡涂?”瘦头陀道:“也不知怎的,黑龙门去帮青龙门,黄龙门又帮赤龙门,你杀我,我杀你,打得不亦乐乎。”韦小宝道:“那我的白龙门呢?”
All these names were bringing back to Trinket the full horror of his first initiation into Mystic Dragon politics. His immediate reaction was to assume that the murder had in fact been carried out on the instructions of the Leader. But then Thin Dhuta went on to say: ‘ The Leader was very upset and angry about it all. He Sheng refused to confess to the murder. The upshot was that the members of the Blue Branch wanted revenge, and they killed He Sheng. And then it turned into a free’for’all between the Blues and the Reds.’ ‘What about the other three colours? I thought you said they were involved in this mess too?’ ‘Somehow or other, the Blacks supported the Blues, and the Yellows supported the Reds. They just all started laying into each other, and it turned into an orgy of killing.’ ‘What about my Whites?’

瘦头陀瞪眼道:“你是白龙使,怎么自己门中的事也不知道?”韦小宝道:“我对你说过,我不在岛上,自然不知。”瘦头陀道:“你门下分成了两派,老兄弟是一派,帮青龙门;少年弟子又是一派,帮赤龙门。”韦小宝皱眉道:“五龙门打大架,教主难道不理么?”瘦头陀道:“大伙儿打发了兴,教主也镇压不了。”
Thin Dhuta stared at him incredulously. ‘Don’t you even know what your own people are doing?’ ‘I told you. I’ve been away. I haven’t been on the island.’ ‘The Whites split into two factions. The older ones supported the Blues, and the younger ones supported the Reds.’ Trinket frowned. ‘Surely the Leader didn’t let them get away with all of this killing?’ ‘He just couldn’t stop it. Everyone’s blood was up.’

Smoke Signals and Big Guns

正说到这里,忽觉船已停驶,船上水手呟喝,铁链声响,抛锚入海,已到了通吃岛。韦小宝走上船头,只见岛上树木茂盛,山丘起伏,倒是好个所在,对施琅道:“神龙岛上到处都是毒蛇,你派人先上去探探,通吃岛上有没有蛇。”施琅应令下去,便有十艘小艇向岛上划去。众水兵上陆后入林搜索,不久举火传讯,岛上平静无事,并无敌踪,也无毒蛇。
Even as they were talking, they felt the boat come to a standstill, and heard the sound of sailors shouting, chains rattling, and anchors being dropped. They had clearly reached Potluck Island. Trinket went up on deck, and surveyed the terrain. The island was covered in lush vegetation. It seemed hilly, and not unattractive. He called out to Shi Lang’ ‘Snake Island is crawling with snakes. You’d better send a party ashore to check this island out for wriggly things too.’ Shi Lang acknowledged this order and ten small rowing’boats were dispatched towards the island. Shortly afterwards a smoke signal went up from the woods, which meant that all was quiet, there were no traces of enemy occupation, and no nasty signs of serpent life.

当下先锋队上陆,搭起中军营帐。一面绣着斗大“韦”字的帅字旗在营前升起。韦小宝这才下艇,施琅和黄总兵左右护卫,登陆通吃岛。号角和鞭炮齐响,众军躬身行礼。韦小宝昂然进中军营坐定,吩咐亲兵将瘦头陀囚在帐后,拿些酒肉给他吃,却不可解了他手脚上的皮索,还得再加上几条铁链绑住,以策万全。随即传下将令,命施琅率领三十艘战船,分从神龙岛东、北、南三面进攻;又命黄总兵率领其余战船,藏在通吃岛西侧,一听施琅发出号炮,就驶出截拦。哪一艘战船居前,哪一艘战船接应,何队冲锋,何队侧击,尽皆分派得井井有条,指示周详。
The first detachment disembarked and began erecting their commanding officer’s tent on the shore, complete with official regimental flag, embroidered with the character WEI. Trinket and Shi Lang proceeded ashore, to the accompaniment of trumpets, a three’gun salute, and a ceremonial ‘hurrah!’ from the assembled troops. Trinket entered his tent with the dignity expected of a Colonel of the Valiants, and ordered his guards to take Thin Dhuta and confine him in a tent of his own, to provide him with food and wine, but on no account to untie his leather thongs. In fact they were to reinforce them with lengths of wire cable.The time had come to issue Shi Lang with his official orders to launch the three’pronged attack on Snake Island. A reserve fleet was to lie hidden to the west of Potluck Island. At a prearranged signal from Snake Island (from one of the cannon), they were to sail out into the open sea and intercept the fleeing Dragons. The details for this pincer movement had all been carefully thought through.

黄总兵及水师营中的副将、参将、守备、骁骑营的参领、佐领等大小军官,见都统大人小小年纪,居然深谙水战策略,计谋精妙,指挥合宜,无不深为叹服,却不知尽是出于施琅的策划,这位都统大人只不过在台前依样葫芦,唱一出双簧而已。当晚众军饱餐战饭。傍晚时分,一艘艘战船驶了出去,约定次晨卯时,三面进攻。到第二日清晨,韦小宝登上军士赶搭的瞼望台,向东瞼望,隐隐听得远处炮响,火花闪动,海面卷起一团团浓烟,知道施琅已在发炮进攻,不由得担心方怡的安危,但想施琅行事谨慎,自己一再嘱咐,不可伤了岛上女子,料想他必定加意小心。他在瞼望台上站了一会,脚酸起来,回进中军帐,取得六粒骰子,心道:“这一次倘若大获全胜,就掷个满堂红。”一把掷将出去,不料尽是黑色,连一粒红也没有。他出口骂道:“他妈的,你跟我捣蛋!”使起作弊手法,将六粒骰子都是三点朝上,运手劲轻轻一转,这次果然有五粒骰子是红色的四点,却仍有一粒黑色的五点。他明知自己作弊,算不得是好口采,却也高兴了些。
The officers and sailors present at the issuing of these battle orders were deeply impressed by their young Colonel’s total command of the situation. Little did they know that every element in the plan had been worked out by Shi Lang. Trinket was just playing the part of a very convincing ventriloquist’s dummy.They all had an excellent eve’of’battle dinner. As night fell, the ships set out. The attack was set for dawn the next day.At first light, Trinket climbed his hastily constructed lookout, and scanned the eastern horizon. He could hear faint gunfire in the distance, and see the flashes of exploding shot and puffs of smoke escaping across the surface of the sea. Shi Lang had already begun his assault. Trinket’s first thought was for the safety of the delectable Fang Yi. But he consoled himself that Shi Lang was a highly skilful and precise operator, and that his orders had been very clear’ no women were to be killed.

双儿端上一碗茶来,说道:“相公,你放心好啦,这一次一定打个大胜仗。”韦小宝问道:“你怎知道?”双儿道:“咱们这许多大炮开了起来,人家怎抵敌得住?”韦小宝道:“来,双儿,我跟你掷骰子,你赢了,我给你打手心。我赢了,就算是大功告成。”双儿脸上一红,忙道:“我不来,我不来。”韦小宝笑道:“那么咱们来赌钱。我赢了,你输一钱银子,你赢了,我输一两银子给你。这样你总占便宜了罢?”双儿笑道:“我没银子输给你。”韦小宝道:“你要银子,那还不容易。”掏出一把银票来塞给她。双儿笑道:“我要银子没用。”韦小宝道:“唉,你没赌性,不如去放了那矮胖子出来,我跟他赌钱。”正说到这里,忽听得号炮连响。韦小宝跳起身来,一把搂住了双儿,说道:“大功告成,亲个嘴儿。”双儿忙笑着低头。韦小宝在她后颈中吻了两下,笑道:“你的头颈真白!”只听得号角呜嘟嘟吹起,他奔出中军帐,上了瞼望台,但见远处神龙岛上升起三个大火柱,直冲云霄,全岛已裹在黑烟之中,料想神龙岛已轰成一片焦土;又见一艘艘战船向东驶去,心想:“施琅这家伙算得是一个半臭皮匠,料事如神是说不上,料事如鬼,也就马马虎虎了。”海上战船来往,甚是缓慢,他在了望台上站了半天,也没见神龙岛上有船只逃出来,更见不到施琅和黄总兵如何东西夹击,于是又回进中军帐休息。等了两个多时辰,亲兵来报,适才见到烟花讯号,两路战船都向都统大人报捷。韦小宝大喜,心想:“老子稳坐中军帐,眼见捷报至,耳听好消息,这一场大战,胜来不费吹灰之力。但盼方怡这小娘皮,头发也没给炮火烧焦了一根。”
When he returned to his tent, Doublet tried to raise his spirits. ‘Our troops are sure of victory, Master! Who could be a match for those dreadful big guns of ours!’Even as she said this, there was another burst of cannon fire. This time it seemed louder. Trinket jumped to his feet and threw his arms round Doublet.’Hear that! Now you can’t deny that’s a brilliant achievement! That definitely deserves a kiss!’He gave her two kisses on the back of her neck. ‘What lovely white skin you’ve got!’ he cried playfully. There was a loud burst on the bugle. Trinket ran out of his tent and back up to the lookout. Three tall columns of smoke were rising into the sky from Snake Island. The entire island was soon wreathed in a pall of black smoke. He could see the occasional boat heading across the water in the distance, but as yet no sign of the rout anticipated by Shi Lang.

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