The Deer And The Cauldron 41

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The Deer And The Cauldron 41
第四十一回 渔阳鼓动天方醉 督亢图穷悔已迟

注:本回回目中,“渔阳鼓动”是安禄山造反的典故,喻吴三桂起兵;“督亢图穷”是荆轲刺泰王的典故,本书借用,指归辛树等误刺吴六奇,后悔不及,又要去行刺康熙,其实只字面相合,含义并不贴切。

Chapter 25

In which the Strange Gui Trio, and Iron Hand the Lady Warrior, are introduced; and an Assassination Attempt has Vnpredicted Results

News of the War-Strange Companions-Spinning Tops and Playing Tag-Kungfu Pedigrees-Evil is its own Reward- Living Legends-Dead Man’s Head-Of Murder and Assassination-Capital Deliberations-Trinket the Calligrapher-Serious Consequences of a Light Poke-Kang Xi confronts the Old Whore-What Fun!-The Truth will Out-I don’t know where to go!-Escape Plans A, B, & , C-Plan C in Action

*********

News of the War

次日韦小宝带同随从兵马,押了吴之荣和毛东珠离扬回京。康熙的上谕宣召甚急,一行人在途不敢耽误停留,不免少了许多招财纳贿的机会。沿途得讯,吴三桂起兵后,云南提督张国桂、贵州巡抚曹申吉、提督李本深等归降,云南巡抚朱国治被杀,云贵总督甘文焜自杀。这日来到山东,地方官抄得邸报。呈给钦差太臣,乃是康熙斥责吴三桂的诏书。韦小宝叫师爷诵读解说。那师爷捧了诏书读道:“逆贼吴三桂穷蹙来归,我世祖章皇帝念其输款投诚,授之军旅,锡封王爵,盟勒山河:其所属将弁,崇阶世职,恩赉有加;开阔滇南,倾心倚任。迨及朕躬,特隆异数,晋爵亲王,重寄干城,实托心膂,殊恩优礼,振古所无。”韦小宝听了师爷的解说,不住点头,说道:“皇上待这反贼的确不错,半分没吹牛皮。像我韦小宝,对皇上忠心耿耿,也不过封个伯爵,要封到亲王,路还差着一大截呢。”

那师爷继续诵读:“讵意吴三桂性类穷奇,中怀狙诈,宠极生骄,阴图不轨,于本年七月内,自请搬移。朕以吴三桂出于诚心,且念及年齿衰迈,师徒远戍已久,遂允所请,令其休息。乃饬所司安插周至,务使得所,又特遣大臣往宣谕朕怀。朕之待吴三桂,可谓体隆情至,蔑以加矣。近览川湖总督蔡毓荣等奏:吴三桂径行反叛,背累朝豢养之恩,逞一旦鸱张之势,播行凶逆,涂炭生灵,理法难容,人神共愤。”韦小宝听一句解说,赞一句:“皇上宽宏大量,没骂吴三桂的奶奶,还算很客气的。”

张勇、赵良栋、王进宝、孙思克、以及李力世等在侧旁听,均想:“圣旨中只说皇帝待他好到不能再好,斥责吴三桂忘恩负义,不提半句满汉之分,也不提他如何杀害明朝王室,可十分高明,好让天下都觉吴三桂造反是大大的不该。”那师爷继续读下去,敕旨中劝谕地方官民不可附逆,就算已误从贼党,只要悔罪归诚,也必不究既往,亲族在各省做官居住,一概不予株连,不必疑虑。诏书中又道:“其有能擒吴三桂投献军前者,即以其爵爵之;有能诛缚其下渠魁,以及兵马城池归命自效者,论功从优取录,朕不食言。”韦小宝听那师爷解说:“皇上答应,只要谁能抓到吴三桂献到军前,皇上就封他为平西亲王。”不由得心痒难搔,回顾李力世等人,说道:“咱们去把吴三桂抓了来,弄他个平西亲王做做,倒也开胃得很。”众人齐声称是。张勇等武将均想:“吴三桂兵多将广,要抓到他谈何容易?”李力世等心想:“我们要杀吴三桂,是为了他倾覆汉人江山,难道真是为鞑子皇帝出力?但如韦香主做了平西亲王,在云南带兵,再来造反,倒也不错。”
The following day, Trinket set off for Peking, with Prefect Wu and the Old Whore and an escort of guards. They made haste on their journey, eager to obey the Emperor’s urgent summons.En route they had the latest news of the Satrap’s rebellion. The Military Commander of Yunnan Province, Zhang Guogui, and the Governor of Guizhou, Cao Shenji, along with his military counterpart, General Li Benshen, had all of them surrendered to the Satrap’s advancing forces. The Governor of Yunnan had committed suicide, as had the Viceroy of the Twin Provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou, Gan Wenkun. Things looked very bleak for the Imperial cause.Trinket reached the province of Shandong, and there the local officials read out to him the Emperor’s most recent proclamation, which had been published in the Peking Gazette. In it Kang Xi denounced the Satrap’s treason and his base ingratitude to an Imperial Throne that had done nothing but shower him with honours all his life. He urged all his true subjects to remain loyal to the Throne. If anyone could capture the Satrap, that man himself would be granted the Satrap’s full title, Prince of the West. This idea appealed greatly to Trinket. His Triad friends, while having no desire to strike a blow for the Manchu cause by capturing Satrap Wu, reflected that if their Lodge Master were to be made Prince of the West, they would themselves be in a stronger position to launch a rebellion of their own from the South-West.

韦小宝听完诏书,下令立即启程,要尽快赶回北京,讨差出征,以免给人赶在头里,先把吴三桂抓到了,抢去了平西亲王的封爵。
Trinket gave orders for his party to proceed with all haste to the Capital. The sooner they reached Peking, the sooner he could take part in the growing conflict, and the less chance there was that someone else would earn this reward and become Prince of the West.

Strange Companions

这一日来到香河,离京已近,韦小宝吩咐张勇率领大队,就地等候,严密看守钦犯毛东珠,自己带同双儿和天地会群雄,押了吴之荣,折向西南,去庄家大屋,要亲自交给庄家三少奶,以报答她相赠双儿这么个好丫头的厚意。
They had reached the town of Xianghe, some fifty miles southeast of Peking, when Trinket handed over command of the expeditionary force to his deputy, Colonel Zhang Yong, with orders to proceed straight to Peking and to await him there, taking special care to keep the Fake’Empress Dowager closely confined. He himself led a small contingent, consisting of Doublet and the Triads, with the still heavily bound Prefect Wu, and went off in a south’westerly direction, towards the ‘haunted house’ in which the widows of the Zhuang Family lived. He intended to fulfil his promise to Doublet, and to hand over Prefect Wu to Widow Zhuang herself.

傍晚时分,来到一处镇上,离庄家大屋尚有二十余里,一行人到一家饭店打尖。这时各人已换了便服,将吴之荣点了哑穴和身上几个穴道,却不绑缚,以免骇人耳目。众人围坐在两张板桌之旁。无人愿和吴之荣同桌,双儿怕他逃走,独自和他坐了一桌,严加监视。饭菜送上,各人正吃间,十几个官兵走进店来,为首一人是名守备,店外马嘶声不绝,两名兵士自行打水饲马。一名把总大声喝,吩咐赶快杀鸡做饭,说道有紧急公事,要赶去京里报讯。掌柜的诺诺连声,催促店伴侍候官老爷,亲自替那守备揩抹桌椅。
That evening they all put up at an inn, some ten miles short of the Zhuang mansion. They had all by this time changed out of their military clothes, to avoid attracting undue attention. They had also (for the same reason) untied Prefect Wu, virtually immobilizing him instead, and rendering him incapable of speech, by a deft manipulation of the relevant Vital Points. They sat down to dinner at two tables. Doublet sat at a separate table with Wu (who was shunned by the others), keeping a close watch over him. As they were eating their food, a squad or a dozen or so Imperial troops arrived, and started noisily demanding food and drink. The innkeeper hurried to clear tables, slaughter fowl, and wait on them.

一批官兵刚坐定,镇口传来一阵车轮马蹄声,在店前停车下马,几个人走进店来。当先二人是精壮大汉。第三人却是个痨病鬼模样的中年汉子,又矮又瘦,两颊深陷,颧骨高耸,脸色蜡黄,没半分血色,隐隐现出黑气,走得几步便咳嗽一声。他身后一个老翁、一个老妇并肩而行,看来都已年过八旬。那老翁也是身材瘦小,但精神矍铄,一部白须飘在胸口,满脸红光。那老妇比那老翁略高,腰板挺直,双目炯炯有神。最后两个都是二十来岁的少妇。瞧这七人的打扮,那病汉衣着华贵,是个富家员外,两男两女是仆役、仆妇。翁媪二人身穿青布衣衫,质料甚粗,但十分干净,瞧不出是什么身份。
No sooner had these soldiers sat down to their meal than the sound of horses and rumbling carriage wheels was heard, and another group of travellers entered the inn. The first two were sturdy young men. They were followed by a strange, consumptive’looking man of middle years, short and skinny, with sunken cheeks and prominent cheek’bones, and a sallow, completely bloodless complexion. There was something strange, almost sinister about his manner. Every few steps he took he halted and coughed. Behind him there entered an elderly couple. They must have been well into their eighties. The old man was also of slight build, but hale and hearty, with a long flowing white beard and a ruddy face. The old woman by his side was somewhat taller than he was, an upright figure with lively, piercing eyes. Last of all came two women in their twenties. Of the group of seven, it was the consumptive who was by far the most lavishly dressed, quite the well’to’do gentleman. The two young men and women were clearly servants of some sort. As for the elderly couple, they were dressed in plain, nondescript black clothing, and it was hard to place them. It was the old lady who spoke first.

那老妇道:“张妈,倒碗热水,侍候少爷服药。”一名仆妇应了,从提篮中取出一只瓷碗,提起店中铜壶,在碗中倒满了热水,荡了几荡倾去,再倒了半碗水,放在病汉面前。那老妇从怀中取出一个瓷瓶,打开瓶塞,倒出一粒红色药丸,拿到病汉口边。病汉张开嘴巴,那老妇将药丸放在他舌上,拿起水碗喂着他吞了药丸。病汉服药后喘气不已,连声咳嗽。老翁、老妇凝视着病汉,神色间又是关注,又是担忧,见他喘气稍缓,停了咳嗽,两人都长长吁了口气。
‘Nurse Ma, pour the Young Master a bowl of hot water, so he can take his medicine.’One of the women’servants produced a porcelain bowl from a basket she was carrying, and filled it with hot water from a kettle provided by the inn. She warmed the bowl, then poured out half the water and placed the half’full bowl in front of the ‘Young Master’ (who was not really so very young). The old lady took out a little porcelain bottle from inside her gown, removed the stopper, and extracted a small red pill. She went over and placed the pill on the Young Master’s tongue, at the same time pouring the hot water gently into his mouth. When he had swallowed the pill, he took several short breaths, and was seized with a coughing fit. The old couple watched him anxiously. They heaved a sigh of relief when his breathing steadied and he stopped coughing.

病汉皱眉道:“爹,妈,你们老是瞧着我干么?我又死不了。”老翁哼了一声,转开了头。老妇笑道:“说什么死啊活啊的,我孩儿长命百岁。”韦小宝心想:“这家伙就算吃了玉皇大帝的灵丹,也活不了几天啦。原来这老头儿、老婆子是他爹娘,这痨病鬼定是从小给宠坏了,爹娘多瞧他几眼,便发脾气。”那老妇道:“张妈、孙妈,你们先去热了少爷的参汤,再做饭菜。”两名仆妇答应了,各提一只提篮,走向后堂。
He seemed irritated, and frowned. ‘Mum, dad, stop looking at me like that! I’m not dead yet.’ The old man humphed and looked away. The old lady smiled’ ‘Of course not, dear. I’m sure you have a long and happy life ahead of you.’ Trinket was watching this little drama with considerable interest. ‘A long life my foot!’ he observed silently. ‘That little runt will be lucky to survive the next couple of days-he’s a goner, if ever I saw one! They can feed him the Jade Emperor’s Most Miraculous Elixir ten times a day, it won’t make a bit of difference! So the two old ones are his mum and dad. … I’d say they’d spoilt him rotten since the day he was born.’ ‘Nurse Zhang! Nurse Ma!’ It was the old woman’s voice again. ‘Go and heat up the Young Master’s ginseng broth, and bring him his food.’

官兵队中那守备向掌柜打听去北京的路程。掌柜道:“众位老爷今日再赶二三十里路,到前面镇上住店。明儿一早动身,午后准能赶到京城。”那守备道:“我们要连夜赶路,住什么店?掌柜的,打从今儿起一年内,包你生意大旺,得多备些好酒好菜,免得到时候手忙脚乱。”那掌柜笑道:“老爷说得好。小店生意向来平常,像今天这样的生意,一个月中难得有几天,那是众位老爷和客官照顾。哪能天天有这么多贵人光临呢?”那守备笑道:“掌柜的,我教你一个乖。吴三桂造反,已打到了湖南,我们是赶到京里去呈送军文书的。这一场大仗打下来,少说也得打他三年五载。禀报军情的天天要打从这里经过,你这财是有得发了。”
The two serving’women went off to the kitchen to do her bidding, each carrying a basket. Meanwhile, the corporal in deputy command of the squad of Imperial soldiers was busy chatting to the innkeeper, and enquiring how far it was to Peking. ‘Another ten miles march or so,’ said the innkeeper obligingly. ‘You’ll come to a small town, with a reasonable tavern. You could lodge the night there, and then you should be in Peking by the following afternoon-‘ ‘We won’t be lodging in a tavern!’ exclaimed the corporal. ‘We’re on urgent military business. We’ll be marching right through the night, most probably. We’ve to carry an important military dispatch to the Capital. The news is that Satrap Wu has already fought his way through to Hunan Province! I tell you, this war is going to be a long haul-four or five years most likely. You should be pleased, though-it’ll be good for your line of business!’

掌柜连声道谢,心里叫苦不迭:“你们总爷的生意有什么好做?大吃大喝下来,大方的随意赏几个小钱,凶恶的打人骂人之后,一拍屁股就走。别说三年五载,就只一年半载,我也得上吊了。”韦小宝和李力世等听说吴三桂已打到了湖南,都是一惊:“这厮来得好快。”钱老本低声道:“我去问问?”韦小宝点点头。钱老本走到那守备身前,满脸堆笑,抱拳道:“刚才听得这位将军大人说,吴三桂已打到了湖南。小人的家眷在长沙,很是挂念,不知那边打得怎样了?长沙可不要紧吗?”
‘Good for my line of business my arse!’ thought the innkeeper bitterly to himself. ‘With the likes of you for customers I’ll be broke in less than a year. I know you lot! You eat and drink me out of house and home, then go marching off and toss me a few coppers to keep me happy! Good for business, hah!’ Trinket and his Triad friends were shocked to hear that the Satrap had made such swift inroads into central China, and was already as far north as Hunan. Butcher Qian went over to the corporal to try and find out more. ‘Excuse me, sir, but I thought I heard you talking just now about Satrap Wu’s army having advanced into Hunan. I’m a Changsha man myself, and I’ve still got family there. I was wondering if you had any more detailed news?’

那守备听他叫自己为“将军大人”,心下欢喜,说道:“长沙要不要紧,倒不知道。吴三桂派了他手下大将马宝,从贵州进攻湖南,沅州是失陷了,总兵崔世禄被俘。吴三桂部下的张国柱、龚应麟、夏国相正分头东进。另一名大将王屏藩去攻四川,听说兵势很盛。川湘一带的百姓都在逃难了。”
The corporal was flattered to be addressed as sir and proceeded to give Qian a fuller account of the state of the rebellion”I don’t know much about Changsha. All I know is, one of the Satrap’s generals by the name of Ma Bao has moved his troops into Hunan from Guizhou; and the town of Yuanzhou, in southern Hunan, has fallen to the rebel forces. Three of the Satrap’s other generals are leading a three’pronged attack from Yunnan eastwards, while another of his top commanders, Wang Pingfan, is attacking from Sichuan. The Satrap’s forces are carrying everything before them. People are fleeing left, right, and centre.’Qian’s face looked serious.

钱老本满脸忧色,说道:“这……这可不大妙。不过大清兵很厉害,吴三桂不见得能赢罢?”那守备道:“本来大家都这么说,但沅州这一仗打下来,昊三桂的兵马挺不易抵挡,唉,局面很是难说。”钱老本拱手称谢,回归座上。天地会群雄有的心想:“别让吴三桂这大汉奸做成了皇帝。”有的心想:“最好吴三桂打到北京,跟满清鞑子斗个两败俱伤。”众官兵匆匆吃过酒饭。那守备站起身来,说道:“掌柜的,我给你报了个好消息,这顿酒饭,你请了客罢。”掌柜哈腰陪笑,道:“是,是。当得,当得。众位大人慢走。”那守备笑道:“慢走?那可得坐下来再吃一顿了。”掌柜神色尴尬,只有苦笑。
That sounds pretty bad, sir! But the Emperor’s troops are sure to defeat Wu in the long run, wouldn’t you say?’That’s what everyone thought. But Yuanzhou fell after a single skirmish. The Satrap is going to be a tough one to beat, that’s what I’d say.’Qian brought his hands together in a polite gesture of thanks, and went back to sit with his friends. The Triads had very mixed feelings about this news. Some of them could imagine nothing worse than a victory for the Satrap, such was their hatred for him as the arch traitor to the Ming cause. But some almost wanted him to do well, to fight his way up to Peking and have a showdown with the Manchu forces. According to these people it would help their own cause to see both sides-the Satrap’s and the Emperor’s- weakened by such a conflict.The soldiers gobbled down their food and rose to leave.Thanks for the meal, my friend!’ the corporal called out to the innkeeper as they were going. ‘Fair exchange for the good news we brought you, don’t you think! Excellent for business this war will be!’The innkeeper smiled bleakly.’Indeed! Of course, gentlemen, everything’s on the house ….’

那守备走向门口,经过老翁、老妇、和病汉的桌边时,那病汉突然一伸左手,抓住了他胸口,说道:“你去北京送什么公文?拿出来瞧瞧。”那守备身材粗壮,但给他一抓之下,登时蹲了下来,身子矮了半截,怒喝:“他妈的,你干什么?”胀红了脸用力挣扎,却半分动弹不得。那病汉右手嗤的一声,撕开守备胸口衣襟,掉出一只大封套来。那病汉左手轻轻一推,那守备直摔出去,撞翻了两张桌子,乒乒乓乓一阵乱响,碗碟碎了一地。众官兵大叫:“反了,反了!”纷纷挺枪拔刀,向那病汉扑去。病汉带来的两名仆役抬拳踢腿,当着的便摔了出去。顷刻之间,众兵丁躺了一地。那病汉撕开封套,取出公文来看。那守备吓得魂不附体,颤声大叫:“这是呈给皇上的奏章,你……你胆敢撕毁公文,这……这……这不是造反了吗?”
The soldiers made their way to the door. As the corporal passed by the table where the consumptive was sitting with his elderly parents, he suddenly felt a hand at his throat.’Hey, you! What’s this dispatch’ Show me.’The corporal was a strongly built fellow, but he found himself literally crumpling up in the consumptive’s grip.’What the hell! Tamardy! Let go of me will you-‘ He struggled till he was bright red in the face, but was totally overpowered by the Invalid, who had used his right hand to rip open the corporal’s jacket and help himself to the document concealed within it. Then with his left hand he pushed him effortlessly away. The soldier went hurtling past two tables, sending large amounts of crockery crashing to the ground. The other members of his squad rushed to their officer’s aid, but were themselves soon overpowered by the Invalid and his two retainers, who laid them low with deadly use of fist and foot. The Invalid then proceeded to tear open the document and read it. The corporal’s face was white with horror at this breach of security. ‘You . .. you can’t do that! That’s for the Emperor’s eyes only! This is treason!’

那病汉看了公文,说道:“湖南巡抚请鞑子皇帝加派援兵去打平西王,哼,就算派一百万兵去,还不是……咳咳……还不是给平西王扫荡得干干净净。”一面说话,一面将公文团成一团,捏入掌心,几句话说完,摊开手掌一扬,无数纸片便如蝴蝶般随风飞舞,四散飘扬。天地会群雄见了这等内力,人人变色,均想:“听他语气,竟似是吴三桂手下的。”那守备挣扎着爬起,拔出腰刀,道:“你毁了公文,老子反正也活不成了,跟你拚了!”提刀跃前,猛力向病汉头顶劈下。那病汉仍是坐着,右手伸出,在守备小腹上微微一推,似乎要他别来滋扰。那守备举起了刀的手臂忽然慢慢垂将下来,跟着身子软倒,坐在地下,张大了口,只有出气,没有进气了。被打倒了的兵丁有的已爬起身来,站得远远地,有气没力的吆喝几句,谁也不敢过来相救长官。一名仆妇捧了一碗热汤出来,轻轻放在病汉之前,说道:“少爷,请用参汤。”老翁、老妇二人对适才这一场大闹便如全没瞧见,毫不理会,只是留神着儿子的神色。
The Invalid continued to read, and then said’ ‘Interesting. The Governor of Hunan wants reinforcements against the Prince of the West. Huh! Fat lot of use that will be! A million men won’t stand a chance against him.’ Here he started coughing again. The Prince will simply wipe them out!’ He crumpled the document into a ball and squeezed it in the palm of his hand. When he opened the palm, a hundred tiny scraps of paper flew swirling around the room. The Triads were amazed at this effortless display of Inner Force by a man who looked as if he was at death’s door. When the corporal finally managed to drag himself to his feet and advanced on the Invalid, he was knocked to the floor again with a simple sweep of the man’s hand, and found himself lying there helpless and barely able to breathe. The other soldiers were now in no mood or state to come to his aid. The Invalid just sat there, as if nothing had happened. One of the two nurses now brought him his hot ginseng broth, and his old mother blew on it and fed him with great care, as if she was feeding a child.

徐天川低声道:“这几人挺邪门,咱们走罢。”高彦超去付了饭钱-一行径自出门。只见那老妇端着参汤,轻轻吹去热气,将碗就到病汉嘴边,喂他喝汤。韦小宝等走出镇甸,这才纷纷议论那病汉是什么路道。徐天川道:“这人撕烂那武官的衣衫,功力这等厉害,当真……当真少见。”玄贞道人道:“他在那武官肚子上这么一推,似乎稀松平常,可是要闪避挡格,却真不容易。风兄弟,你说该当如何?”风际中道:“不该走近他身边三尺。”群雄一想,都觉有理,对这一推,不论闪避还是挡格,至少在他三尺之外方能办到,既已欺得这么近,再也避不开、挡不住了。徐天川忽道:“我抓他手腕……”一句话没说完,便摇了摇头,知道以对方内劲之强,就算抓住了他手腕,他手掌一翻一扭,自己指骨、腕骨难保不断。众人明知这病汉是吴三桂一党,但眼见他行凶伤人,竟然谁也不敢出手阻拦,虽然被害的是鞑子军官,终究不是众人平素的侠义豪杰行径,心有愧意,不免兴致索然,谈得一会,便均住口。行出数里,忽听得背后马蹄声响,两骑马急驰而来。当地已是通向庄家大屋的小道,不能两骑并行。
‘Weird!’ muttered Apothecary Xu, echoing exactly the sentiments of the other Triads. ‘I think we ought to be going.’ They settled their bill, and went on their way. Spinning Tops and Playing Tag As they went they discussed the strange Invalid. The way he ripped open that soldier’s shirt’ commented Xu. The sheer force! Most unusual!’ ‘And the way he pushed him away afterwards,’ went on Father Obscurus. ‘So casual, but lethal!’They all agreed that the best way of dealing with this strange character was to keep as far as possible out of his way. They had been able to deduce (from the way he had used the title ‘Prince of the West’) that he was on the side of the Satrap, and therefore an enemy. But none of them had the stomach to pick a fight with the strange family Trio. This was a sobering (and somewhat shaming) realization for the Triads, and they continued on their way in silence for a while.

群雄正没好气,虽听蹄声甚急,除了风际中和双儿勒马道旁之外,余人谁也不肯让道。转眼间两乘马已驰到身后,群雄一齐回头,只见马上乘者竟是那病汉的两名男仆。一名仆人叫道:“我家少爷请各位等一等,有话向各位请问。”这句话虽非无礼,但目中无人之意却再也明白不过。群雄一听,尽皆有气。玄贞道人喝道:“我们有事在身,没功夫等。大家素不相识,有什么好问?”那仆人道:“是我家少爷吩咐的,各位还是等一等的好,免得大家不便。”言语中更是充满了威吓。
The silence was suddenly broken by the sound of clattering hooves. There were two horses galloping up behind them. The road they were on was a small country lane leading to the Zhuang Family manor, and it was too narrow for two horses to pass. Feng Jizhong and Doublet pulled their horses off the road, but the others just stayed where they were.When they turned, they saw that the riders were the Invalid’s two retainers. So much for keeping out of his way.’Halt there!’ one of them cried. ‘Our master would like to speak with you!’The way he said this was not exactly rude. But it implied clearly that the only important person in the world was their master. The Brothers were none too happy about this.That won’t be possible,’ replied Father Obscurus gruffly. ‘We have an important engagement, and cannot wait. Besides, we have never even met this master of yours.’Those were my master’s orders,’ replied the retainer. ‘I think it would be extremely advisable for you to wait for him here.’

钱老本道:“你家主人,是吴三桂手下的吗?”那仆人道:“呸!我家主人何等身份,怎能是平西王的手下?”群雄均想:“他不说吴三桂而称平西王,定是跟吴贼有些渊源。”便在此时,车轮声响,一辆大车从来路驰至。那仆人道:“我家主人来了。”勒转马头,迎了上去。群雄此时倘若纵马便行,倒似是怕了那病汉,当下一齐驻马等候。大车驰到近处,一名仆妇驾车,另一名仆妇掀起车帷,只见那病汉坐在正中,他父母坐在其后。那病汉向群雄瞪了一眼,问道:“你们为什么点了这人的穴道?”说着向吴之荣一指,又问:“你们是什么人?要上哪里去?”声音尖锐,语气十分倨傲。
This was sounding more and more like a threat.’Isn’t your master one of Satrap Wu’s men?’ asked Butcher Qian.’My master is nobody’s man!’ replied the retainer haughtily.At that moment they heard the rumbling of wheels, and a large carriage came into view. The retainer turned his horse around and went up to greet his master. The Triads waited where they were, conscious that a swift departure would now be interpreted as cowardice.One of the nurses was inside the carriage. She opened the curtain, and they could see the Invalid seated within. His aged parents were riding on the rear of the carriage. Invalid gave Trinket and his entourage a piercing look.’What have you done to that man?’ He was pointing at Prefect Wu. ‘Who are you, anyway?’ he continued. ‘And where are you going?’ He spoke briefly and sharply, and in the tone of a man who was not used to being trifled with.

玄贞道人说道:“尊驾高姓大名?咱们素不相识,河水不犯井水,干么来多管闲事?”那病汉哼了一声,说道:“凭你也还不配问我姓名。我刚才问的两句话,你听见了没有?怎不回答?”玄贞怒道:“我不配问你姓名,你也不配问我们的事。吴三桂造反作乱,是个大大的奸贼,你口口声声称他平西王,定是贼党。我瞧尊驾已经病入膏肓,还是及早回家寿终正寝,免得受了风寒、伤风咳嗽,一命呜呼。”
‘And who would you be?’ replied Father Obscurus. ‘I don’t believe we are acquainted. I’d ask you to mind your own business. “River water never mingles with water from the well?’ as the saying goes.’ Invalid humphed. ‘Answer my question. It’s no business of yours who I am!’ Father Obscurus was starting to get angry. ‘And what business is it of yours who we are or what we do’ As for you, we can tell, from the way you keep referring to that vile traitor Satrap Wu as the Prince, that you are one of his men. Take my advice’ the fragile state you’re in, you’d be best off at home in bed with a nice warm drink. You might catch cold out here and cough yourself to death!’

天地会群雄哈哈大笑声中,突然间人影晃动,拍的一声,玄贞左颊已重重吃了记巴掌,跟着左胁中掌,摔下马来。这两下迅捷无伦,待他倒地,群雄才看清楚出手的原来竟是那老妇。她两掌打倒了玄贞,双足在地下一顿,身子飞起,倒退着回坐车中。群雄大哗,齐向大车扑去。那病汉抓住赶车的仆妇背心,轻轻一提,已和她换了位子,将仆妇抓入车中,自己坐了车把式的座位。
The other Brothers burst out laughing. But not for long. The next instant there was a loud smacking sound and a flashing movement, and Obscurus had received a stinging blow to his left cheek, followed by a chop to the left of his ribcage, which threw him violently from his horse. It all happened with the speed of lightning, and it was only when Obscurus was already on the ground that his Triad brethren were able to see that the person responsible for the attack was the Invalid’s aged mother. She had struck with the palms of both her hands. She now steadied herself where she stood on the ground, then leapt back onto the carriage with the same lightning speed. Meanwhile Invalid had changed places with one of the nurses who had been sitting on the coachman’s seat, lifting her bodily with his left hand, and placing her inside the carriage.

这时正好钱老本纵身双掌击落,那病汉左手一拳打出,和他双掌相碰,竟是无声无息。钱老本只觉一股强劲的大力涌到,身不由主的两个筋斗,倒翻出去,双足着地后待要立定,突觉双膝无力,便要跪倒,大骇之下,急忙用力后仰摔倒,才免了向敌人跪倒之辱。
Butcher Qian launched into the attack, aiming at him with both palms. Invalid punched out with his left fist at the edges of both of Qian’s palms. The impact made no sound, but Qian felt a devastating force surge through his entire frame, and was sent spinning away, totally out of control. Two backward somersaults later he tried to steady himself and stand upright again, only to find himself giving way at the knees. In a desperate attempt not to fall down on his knees directly before his adversary, thereby disgracing himself and his Brothers utterly, Qian managed to flip himself backwards again, and to land facing in the other direction.

钱老本刚摔倒,风际中跟着扑至。那病汉又是一拳击出。风际中不跟他拳力相迎,右掌中途变向,突然往他颈中斩落。那病汉“咦”的一声,似觉对方武功了得,颇出意料之外,右手拇指扣住中指,向他掌心弹去。风际中立即收掌,右脚踏上骡背。高彦超和樊纲分向两名男仆进攻。二仆纵马退开,叫道:“让少爷料理你们。”高樊二人均想和对方仆从动手,胜之不武,见二仆退开,正合心意,当即转身,双双跃起,攻那病汉左侧。突然那骡子长声嘶叫,软瘫在地,带动大车跟着倾侧。原来风际中踏上骡背,足底暗运重力,一踹之下,骡子脊骨便断。那病汉足不弹、身不起,在咳嗽声中已然站在地下。车中老翁、老妇分别提着一名仆妇从车中跃出。这三人行动似乎并不甚快,但都抢着先行离车,大车这才翻倒。钱老本和徐天川向老翁、老妇抢去。那老妇左手摇摇,右手向病汉一指,笑道:“你们过去,陪我孩儿玩玩。”言中之意,竟是要二人去挨她儿子的拳头,好让他高兴高兴。

徐天川右拳向那老翁头顶击落,只是见他年纪老迈,虽知他武功不弱,还是生怕一拳打死了他,喝道:“看拳!”手上也只使了三成力。他自从失手打死白寒松,和沐王府闹出不少纠纷后,已然深自戒惕。那老翁伸手一把捏住了他拳头。这老翁身材瘦小,手掌竟然奇大,捏住他拳头后,说道:“到那边玩去!”徐天川年纪虽比这老翁小得多,却也已是个白发老头,这老翁这句话,却如是对顽童说话的语气。徐天川右手用力回夺,左拳跟着击出。这一招“青龙白虎”本是相辅相成的招式,左拳并非真的意在击中对方,只是要迫敌松手,但若对方不肯松手,这一拳便正中鼻梁。

那老翁展臂一送,松开了手。徐天川只觉一股浑厚之极的大力推动过来,再加上自己左拳正用力打出,右力向后,左力向前,登时身如陀螺急转,一直向那病汉转了过去。那病汉正和风际中、高彦超、樊纲、李力世四人相斗,见徐天川转到,拍手笑道:“有趣,有趣!”四人的拳脚正如疾风骤雨般向他身上招呼,他竟有余裕拍手欢呼,跟着伸手一拨。徐天川忽然反了个方向,本是右转,却变成左转,急速向那老翁旋转将过去。那病汉笑道:“爹,好玩得很,你再把这陀螺旋过来!”玄贞奋力冲上。那病汉随手一拨一推、一拨一推,竟将玄贞、高彦超、樊纲、李力世四人也都转成了陀螺。只风际中没给带动,但也已胸口气血翻涌,急忙跃退三步,双掌护身。五位天地会的豪杰都转个不停,想运力凝住,却说什么也定不下来。哪一人转的势道稍缓,那病汉便抢过去一拨一推,旋转的势道登时又急了。这情景便如是孩童在桌上旋铜钱一般,五个铜钱在桌上急转,直立不倒,哪一个转得缓了,势将倾倒,那孩童又用手指去转上一转。韦小宝只瞧得目瞪口呆,惊骇不已。双儿站在他身前,提心吊胆的护住了他。韦小宝低声道:“咱们三十六着。”双儿道:“快到庄家去。”韦小宝道:“对,一到庄家,大吉大利。做庄家的可以吃夹棍,大杀三方。”转身便走。双儿拉了吴之荣,跟在后面。
Next it was Brother Feng Jizhong’s turn to enter the fray. He was literally repulsed by a single flick of the middle finger of Invalid’s right hand. One by one, the consumptive (who had by now jumped down on to the ground) took them all on, and by dint of flicking, jabbing, and pulling he soon had five Triad brethren whirling around like so many spinning tops. There was nothing they could do. Invalid was from time to time seized with a fit of coughing, but he was invincible. The minute one of his human tops began to slow down, he would set him spinning again, like a child spinning coins on a table. He seemed to be having great fun.Trinket watched aghast. Doublet was standing in front of him, loyally protecting her master.Time for a Number Thirty’Six’ muttered the valiant Trinket (the famous Thirty’Sixth Strategy’ when all else fails, beat a hasty retreat).’We should head straight for the Zhuang manor’ suggested Doublet. Trinket agreed, and they prepared to set off, with the incapacitated Prefect Wu still in tow.

那病汉转陀螺转得兴高采烈。一对老夫妇脸带微笑,瞧着儿子。四名仆人拍手喝采,在旁为小主人助兴。那病汉见风际中站稳马步,左掌高,右掌低,摆成个“古松矫立势”,当即欺身上前,伸手往他右肩拨去。风际中右足退了一步,侧肩让开,却不敢出掌还手。那病汉怒道:“你这坏人,你不转陀螺?”伸手又往他右肩拨去。风际中又再后退,不料左肩后突然一股大力推到,登时身不由主,在那病汉大笑声中急速旋转,待要使“千斤坠”定住身子,被那病汉在后腰用力一拨,又转了起来。吴之荣见那病汉和对头为难,陡然间现出生机,当下一步一跌的行得几步,假装脚下一绊,摔倒在地。双儿用力拉扯,他只不肯起身。韦小宝大急,生怕他向敌人说出真相,左手托住他下颚,使劲一捏,吴之荣便张开口来。韦小宝从靴筒中拔出匕首,往他口中一绞,将他舌头割去了大半截。吴之荣痛得晕了过去。双儿只道韦小宝已将这奸贼杀死,叫道:“相公,快走!”两人向前飞奔。
Meanwhile Invalid was still spinning his tops and enjoying himself enormously. His aged parents smiled as they watched their ‘boy’ at play, and the four servants stood to the side, applauding their master.Prefect Wu saw that this might be his last chance to escape from his dire predicament. He struggled free of Doublet and hobbled towards the Invalid. Trinket panicked. What if Wu were to divulge the truth to this weird but formidable adversary’ Quickly grabbing Wu’s jaw with his left hand, he squeezed his mouth open, reached into his boot for his lethal dagger, and sliced off the front half of his tongue. Wu passed out in agony.For a moment Doublet thought that Trinket had actually killed him.’Come, Master, let’s hurry!’ she cried, and the two of them ran off, leaving Wu behind.

两人奔不到一里,便听得身后马蹄声响,有人骑马追来。韦小宝向左首的乱石冈一指,两人离开小路,奔入乱石堆中。那病汉和一名仆人骑马追到,眼见得马匹不能驰入乱石冈中,那仆人跃下马来,叫道:“两个小孩别怕。我家少爷叫你们陪他玩,快回来。”韦小宝道:“转陀螺的事,老子可不干。”逃得更加快了。那仆人追入乱石堆,韦小宝和双儿脚下甚快,那仆人追赶不上。那病汉叫道:“捉迷藏么?有趣,有趣!”下了马背,咳嗽不停,从南抄将过来。韦小宝和双儿转身向东北角奔逃,反向那仆人奔去。那仆人扑过来要捉韦小宝。韦小宝使出九难所授的“神行百变”功夫,身子一侧,那仆人便扑了个空。双儿反手一掌,打向他后腰。那仆人见她小小年纪,毫没放在心上,竟不招架,伸手去扭她右臂。双儿左掌疾落,擦的一声,已斩中他后腰。那仆人吃痛,“啊”的一声叫了出来,便在这时,双儿已抓住他右手手腕,反过来一扭,喀喇一响,扭断了他手肘关节。那病汉“咦”的一声,从一块岩石跳到另一块岩石,几个起落,纵到双儿身前,左手挥出,双儿头上帽子落地,满头青丝散了开来。
They had gone less than half a mile when they heard the sound of horses in hot pursuit behind them. Trinket spied a rocky hillock off to the left, and he and Doublet left the road and ran up the boulder’strewn slope. It was Invalid and one of his retainers who had followed them on horseback. Their horses could not negotiate the boulders, however, and they both halted.’You two children!’ called out the retainer, dismounting. ‘Don’t be afraid! Come down! My master wants to play with you!’ ‘Oh no!’ muttered Trinket. ‘Not the spinning’top game. I don’t think so.’ He scrambled faster than ever up the hill. The retainer came relentlessly after him, but Trinket and Doublet were quick on their feet, and he was unable to catch up with them. ‘What fun!’ cried Invalid. ‘I love Tag!’ He too dismounted and scrambled coughing up the hillside. Trinket meanwhile, thanks to a dodging tactic taught him by the White Nun (one of the Hundred Flights), was managing to elude the retainer. Doublet grabbed the man from behind (he had not reckoned on her having such strength), and succeeded in dislocating his elbow. Invalid was jumping from boulder to boulder, and soon landed in front of Doublet. One sweep of his left hand and Doublet’s hat went flying into the air. Her long hair now blew loose in the wind.

那病汉笑道:“是个姑娘!”伸手抓住了她长发。双儿“啊”的一声大叫,一招“双回龙”,双肘后撞,那病汉笑道:“好!”左手自左而右一掠,抓住她两只手拳,反在背后,跟着右手将她长发在她双手手腕绕了两转,再打个结,哈哈大笑。双儿急得哭了出来,叫道:“相公,快逃,快逃!”那病汉伸指在她腰里轻轻一戳,点了穴道,笑道:“他逃不了的。”撇下双儿,向韦小宝追去,片刻间便已追近。韦小宝在乱石中东窜西走,那病汉几次要抓到了,都被他用“神行百变”功夫逃开。那病汉笑道:“你捉迷藏的本事倒好啊。”韦小宝内力不足,奔跑了这一阵,已然气喘吁吁,知道再过一会非给他抓到不可,叫道:“你捉我不到,现下轮到我捉你了。你快逃,我来捉你了。”说着转过来,向那病汉扑去。
‘Look! It’s a girl!’ cried Invalid, laughing gleefully. He reached out and grabbed her by the hair. She retorted with a double elbow reverse jab, the move known as Double Whirling Dragon. ‘Excellent!’ cried the Invalid. With his left hand, he swept through the air again and, seizing both of her hands, pinned them behind her back. Next he wrapped her long hair around her wrists, and tied them in a tight knot. Then he burst out laughing. ‘What fun!’ Doublet was distraught. ‘Master!’ she cried. ‘Get away while you can!’ Invalid poked her in the small of the back, and closed one of her points. ‘He’ll never get away!’ he laughed, and dropping her to the ground, went in pursuit of Trinket, who was still scrambling around in the rocks. He continued to evade Invalid, using the same tactics taught him by the White Nun. ‘You’re excellent at Tag!’ laughed Invalid. But by now Trinket was out of breath. He knew he could not last much longer. ‘You’ll never catch me!’ he bluffed. Til catch you first!’

那病汉嘻嘻一笑,果真转身便逃,也在乱石堆中转来转去。韦小宝早瞧出他武功虽高,为人却痴痴呆呆,四十几岁年纪,行事仍如孩童一般,可是他在乱石堆中倏来倏往,刚见他在东边,眼睛一霎,身形已在西边出现,神速直如鬼魅。韦小宝又是骇异,又是佩服,叫道:“我定要捉住你,你逃不了的。”假装追赶,奔到双儿身边,一把将她抱起,大声叫道:“喂,我就算抱了一个人,也追得上你。”那病汉哈哈大笑,叫道:“呜嘟嘟,吹法螺,咳咳……呜哩哩,吹牛皮!”韦小宝抱着双儿,装着追赶病汉,却越走越远。那病汉叫道:“没用的小东西,你还捉不住我……咳咳……”向着他抢近几步。韦小宝叫道:“这一下还不捉住你?你咳得逃不动了。”说着作势向他一扑。那老妇在远处怒喝:“小鬼!你胆敢引我孩儿咳嗽!”
And he pounced on Invalid, who laughed, and slipped out of Trinket’s grasp. He began running around haphazardly on the rocky hillside. Trinket had begun to figure him out a little by now. He was, without any doubt, an extraordinarily gifted fighter, but evidently had some kind of mental handicap-though he must have been forty years old at the least, he seemed to have the mental age of a nine’year’old. He was devilishly quick on the stony ground, leaping around from rock to rock, popping up suddenly in places where Trinket least expected him to be. Trinket was both surprised and impressed.’I’ll catch you soon, never you worry!’ he cried. Invalid seemed to find this threat unbearably funny. He burst out in a fit of childish gibberish that left him coughing uncontrollably.’Now I’ll get you!’ cried Trinket, and made to pounce on him. Just at that moment he heard a voice calling in the distance. It was the old mother. She sounded very angry with Trinket.’You horrid boy! Making my son cough like that!’

嗤的一声,一粒石子破空飞来。石子虽小,声响惊人。韦小宝叫声:“啊哟!”蹲下身子躲避,还是慢了一步。那石子正中腿弯,扑地倒了,和双儿滚成了一团。那老妇道:“抓过来!”另一名男仆纵身过来,抓住韦小宝和双儿的背心,提到那老妇面前,抛在地下。那病汉嘻嘻而笑,拍手唱道:“不中用,吃胡葱,咳咳……跌一交,扑隆通!”韦小宝又惊又怒,只见徐天川、风际中等人都已被长绳缚住,排成了一串,一名仆妇手中拉着长绳,连吴之荣也缚在一串之末。每人头垂胸前,双目紧闭,似乎都已失了知觉。那老妇道:“这女娃娃女扮男装,哼,你的分筋错骨手,是哪里学的?那男孩子,你的‘神行百变’功夫跟谁学的?”
And next thing a pebble came whistling through the air and struck Trinket (who failed to duck out the way in time) right on the ankle.’Seize him!’ cried the old lady, and the other retainer ran forward and took hold of both Trinket and Doublet, dragging them over to where she stood. Invalid was chuckling loudly and clapping his hands.’Silly baby!’ (More coughing.) ‘Baby! Big baboon! Useless baboon!’Trinket was both taken aback and angry at this latest turn of events. His Triad Brothers were all bound by now, and roped together in a line. One of the nurses was leading them along by one end of the rope. Prefect Wu was the last in line. They all walked with their heads hung and eyes closed, almost as if they were unconscious or in some kind of trance.’Tell me,’ asked the old lady, ‘where did this girl, the one dressed up as a man, learn to dislocate elbows like that’ And you, young man, where did you learn the Hundred Flights’ And who are you anyway?’

韦小宝吃了一惊,心想:“这老婆子的眼光倒厉害,知道我这门功夫的名字。”想到人家竟然认了出来,那么自己的“神行百变”功夫显然已练得颇为到家,又不禁有些得意,笑道:“什么神行百变?你说我会‘神行百变’的功夫?”那老妇道:“呸!你这几下狗跳不象狗跳,蟹爬不象蟹爬,也算是神行百变了?”韦小宝坐起身来,说道:“是你自己说的神行百变,又不是我说的。我怎知是‘神跳百变’呢,还是‘神爬百变’?”那病汉拍手笑道:“你会神跳百变,只会神爬百变,哈哈,有趣。”俯身在韦小宝背上点了一指。韦小宝只感一股炙热的暖气直透入身,酸麻的下肢登时灵活,站起身来,说道:“你解穴道的本事,可高明得很哪。”那病汉道:“你快爬,爬一百样变化出来,又要乌龟爬,又要蛤蟆爬,这才叫得神爬百变。”韦小宝道:“我不会神爬百变,你如会,你爬给我看。”那病汉道:“我也不会。我爹说的,武学大师不单是学人家的,还要能别出心裁,独创一格,才称得上‘大师’。爹,武学之中,有没‘神爬百变’这门功夫?”那老翁皱着眉头,摇了摇头。韦小宝道:“你是武学大师,天下既没这门功夫,你自己就去创了出来,立一个‘神爬门’……”话未说完,屁股上已吃了那老妇一脚,只听她喝道:“别胡说八道!”那老妇向儿子横了一眼,脸上微有忧色,似乎生怕儿子听了这少年的撺掇,真去创什么“神爬百变”的新功夫。她不愿儿子多想这件事,又问韦小宝:“你叫什么名字?你师父是谁?”韦小宝心想:“这两个老妖怪,一个小妖怪……不,中妖怪,武功太强,老子是斗不过的。好汉不吃眼前亏,只好骗骗他们。老子倘若冒充是吴三桂的朋友,谅他们就不敢难为我了。”向吴之荣瞥了一眼,灵机一动,说道:“我姓吴,名叫吴之荣,字显扬,扬州府高邮县人氏。辣块妈妈,我的伯父平西王不久就要打到北京来。你们要是得罪了我,平西王可要对你们不客气了!”老夫妇和那病汉都大为惊讶,互相望了一眼。那病汉道:“假的!平西王怎会有你这样的侄儿?”韦小宝道:“怎会是假?平西王家里的事,你不妨一件件问我。只要我有一件说错了,你杀我的头就是。”
Trinket reflected for a moment before answering this last question. ‘I’ll never get the better of these weirdos by ordinary means. Perhaps I’d better try something a bit different. Like pretending to be a friend of the Satrap’s. That might just work. That might save my skin. . . .’ As these thoughts were passing through his mind, he caught sight of Prefect Wu, and had an inspiration. ‘If you really want to know, my name is Wu’ he replied at last. ‘I’m from Yangzhou, actually. Hot popping momma! When my uncle’s armies fight their way through to Peking, you’d better watch out, because he’s Prince of the West you know! And if Uncle thinks you’ve been treating me badly-‘ The three of them-Invalid and his old parents-exchanged a startled glance. ‘You’re lying!’ exclaimed Invalid. ‘How could someone like you be the Prince’s nephew?’ ‘I’m most certainly not lying!’ protested Trinket. ‘Go ahead- if you don’t believe me, test me. Ask me anything you like about the Prince. If I get a single answer wrong, cut my head off!’

那病汉道:“好!平西王最爱的是什么东西?”韦小宝道:“你说是东西呢,还是人?他最爱的人,从前是陈圆圆,后来陈圆圆年纪大了,他就喜欢了一个叫做‘四面观音’的美人,现今他最心爱的美人,叫做‘八面观音’。”那病汉道:“美人有什么好爱?我说他最爱的东西。”韦小宝道:“平西王有三件宝贝,他是最爱的了。第一是一张白老虎皮,第二是一颗鸡蛋大的红宝石,第三是一面老虎花纹的大理石屏风。”那病汉笑道:“哈哈,你倒真的知道,你瞧!”解开衣扣,左手抓住长袍的大襟往外一扬,露出里面所穿的皮裘来。那皮裘白底黑章,正是白老虎皮所制。韦小宝大奇,道:“咦,咦!这是平西王第一心爱的白老虎皮哪,你……你……怎么偷了得来?”那病汉得意洋洋的道:“什么偷了得来?是平西王送我的。”
‘Very well then’ what does the Prince treasure more than anything else in the whole world?’ ‘You mean people, or things?’ replied Trinket. ‘If you mean people, then that’s easy’ the Peerless Consort, Chen Yuanyuan, the most beautiful woman that ever-‘ He was off. ‘Of course not peopled snapped Invalid. ‘His possessions?’ ‘Certainly! I can tell you that,’ replied Trinket confidently. And he proceeded to list the Satrap’s Three Treasures’ his white tiger skin, his big ruby the size of a chicken’s egg, and his marble screen with the tiger’skin markings. The Invalid was not just impressed by this evidence of inside knowledge, he was actually tickled by it and laughed out loud. ‘Well done! You really do know, don’t you! What fun!’ And as he said that, he flung open the lapel of his gown, to reveal a beautiful white tiger’skin lining-with black markings on a white background, to be precise. ‘How . . . how did you manage to steal that?’ gasped Trinket. ‘Steal it’ The Prince gave it to me,’ replied the Invalid.

韦小宝摇头道:“这个我可不信了。我听我姊夫夏国相说……”那病汉道:“夏国相是你姊夫?”韦小宝道:“是,是堂姊夫,我堂姊吴之……吴之芳,是嫁给他做老婆的。我姊夫很会打仗,是平西王麾下十大总兵之一。”那病汉点头道:“这就是了。平西王请我爹妈和我喝酒,我爹妈不去,我独自去了。平西王亲自相陪。他手下的十大总兵都来了。你姊夫排在第一个。”韦小宝道:“是啊,还有马宝马大哥、王屏藩王大哥、张国柱张大哥,那都是顶括括的战将,好威风啊,好杀气!”那病汉道:“你姊夫说我这张白老虎皮怎样?”韦小宝一意讨他欢心,信口开河:“我姊夫说,当年陈圆圆最得宠之时,受了风寒,有点儿伤风咳嗽,听人说,只要拿这张白老虎皮当被盖,盖得三天,立刻就好了。她向吴……向平西王讨这张白老虎皮。平西王言道:‘借你盖几天是可以的,赐给你就不行了。这是天下最吉祥的宝贝,八百年只出一只白老虎,就算出了,也打不到,剥不到皮。这张白老虎皮放在屋里,邪鬼恶魔一见到,立刻就逃得远远地。身上有病,也不用吃药,只须将白老虎皮当被盖,盖不了几天就皮到病除。人家赌牌九,左门叫作青龙,右门叫作白虎。青龙皮、白虎皮,都是无价之宝。

那老妇听他说得活灵活现,儿子身上有病,那是她唯一关心的事,听说白虎皮当被盖可治咳嗽,虽不甚信,却亟盼当真如此,说道:“孩儿,平西王将这件宝贝送了给你,你面子可不小啊。你做了皮袍子穿,真聪明,倘若这白虎皮真能治病……”那病汉皱眉道:“我又没病,你尽提干么?”那老妇笑道:“是,是。你生龙活虎一般,这几个都是江湖好汉,却给你转陀螺、耍流星,玩了个不亦乐乎。”那病汉哈哈大笑,笑声中夹着几声咳嗽。那老妇道:“你晚上睡觉之时,咱们记得把皮袍子盖在被上。”病汉转过了头不理。那老翁一指风际中等人,问道:“这些都是平西王的手下?”韦小宝心想:“我冒充是老汉奸的侄子,也不打紧。要徐三哥他们认是吴三桂的手下,那可一万个不愿意了。他们骨头硬,别要言语中露出了马脚。”说道:“他们都是我的手下。我们听说平西王起义,额驸和公主留在京里,逃不出来。这吴应熊哥哥跟我最说得来,交情再好不过,我带这批朋友想到北京去救额驸。这件事虽然凶险,可是大家义气为重,这叫赴汤蹈火,在所不辞,明知是刀山剑林,也要去闯了。”这几句话,可说得慷慨激昂之至。

那老翁点了点头,走过去双手几下拉扯,登时将缚住风际中等人的长绳拉断,跟着在每人背心轻拍两记,推拿数下,解开了各人被封的穴道。一名仆妇去解开了双儿缚住两手的头发。那老翁对韦小宝道:“单凭你这一面之辞,也不能全信,这事牵连重大,你说是平西王的侄子,可有什么证据?”韦小宝笑道:“老爷子,这可为难了。我的爹娘却不是随身带的。这样罢,咱们去北京见额驸,倘若他已给皇帝拿了,咱们就去见建宁公主。公主定会跟你们说,我是货真价实、童叟无欺的吴之荣。”心想一到北京,那里还怕你们胡来,就算当真给他们扭了去见建宁公主,自己就冒充是天上的玉皇大帝,公主也必点头称是。那老翁和老妇对望了一眼,沉吟未决。韦小宝突然想起,笑道:“啊,有了,我身上有一封平西王写的家书,这封信给旁人见到了,我不免满门抄斩。你们既是平西王的朋友,瞧一瞧倒也不妨。”说着伸手入怀,取出查伊璜假造的那封书信,交给老翁。
Gradually Trinket continued to build up a convincing new identity as the Satrap’s nephew. He dropped the names of several of Wu’s generals (names he remembered only too well from his eventful stay in Kunming), and struck home with a carefully chosen anecdote about the curative properties of the tiger skin (most especially effective for coughs and colds). The Peerless Consort, when she caught a chill, had been privileged to borrow it for a mere three days, and had ‘witnessed its miraculous effects. Needless to say, this story appealed particularly to Invalid’s parents, who were delighted to learn that their son was actually wearing such a potent cough remedy.Trinket also displayed intimate knowledge of the Satrap’s son, Wu Yingxiong. (He was especially careful not to use his own favourite name for the man-the Little Traitor.) And he claimed a close acquaintance with Wu’s new wife, the Princess Ning (though how close that acquaintance really was, he chose not to specify). The Trio were by now almost inclined to believe Trinket, and the old man untied the Triad brethren and opened their various points. One of the nurses untied Doublet’s hair. But Trinket still wanted to give the Trio a final, clinching piece of proof. Just as the old couple were beginning to look doubtful again, it came to him. Ofcourse!He was thinking, needless to say, of the fake letter ‘from Satrap Wu’ that his friends and fellow Resistance fighters Gu Yanwu and Zha Yihuang had concocted to incriminate Prefect Wu. It would be perfect for his present needs!’I know’ he said, smiling inwardly. ‘There is one thing I could show you, since after all you’re working for my uncle. I’ve got a letter from him-it’s highly confidential of course, but I think I can trust you.’

那老翁抽出书笺,在沉沉暮色之中观看。韦小宝还怕他们不懂,解说道:“斩白蛇、唱大风歌什么的,是说朱元璋……”他不解说倒好,一解便错,将刘邦的事说成了朱元璋,幸好那老翁、老妇正在凝神阅信,没去留意他说些什么。那老妇看了信后,说道:“那是没错的了。平西王要做汉高祖、明太祖,请他去做张子房、刘伯温。二哥,平西王说起义是为了复兴明室,瞧这信中的口气,哼,他……他自己其志不小哇。”向韦小宝瞧了一眼,说道:“你年纪轻轻……”心中自然是说:“你这小娃儿,也配做张子房、刘伯温么?”那老翁将信折好,套入信封,还给韦小宝,道:“果然是平西王的令侄,我们适才多有得罪。”韦小宝笑道:“好说,好说。不知者不罪。”这时徐天川等均已醒转,听韦小宝自称是吴三桂的侄儿,对方居然信之不疑,无不大为诧异,但素知小香主诡计多端,当下都默不作声。韦小宝心想:“老子曾对那蒙古大胡子罕帖摩冒充是吴三桂的儿子,儿子都做过,再做一次侄儿又有何妨?下次冒充是吴三桂的爸爸便是,只要能翻本,就不吃亏。”
It worked. The old man read the letter through from beginning to end. The evening was drawing on, and the light was beginning to fail, but what he read finally convinced him that Trinket was indeed the nephew of the Prince of the West. He made a mental note, as he read, that the Prince was perhaps not as dedicated to the cause of the Ming Restoration as he would like people to believe. This seemed more like the letter of a man ambitious to take the throne for himself, and to found his own dynasty-not to put a Ming Pretender on the throne. Perhaps he deserved his nickname the Satrap after all.He hastened to apologize to Trinket for having treated him so disrespectfully. Trinket dismissed the matter as a mere trifle. After all, at the time the gentleman had not known his true identity.Meanwhile the Triads were one by one regaining full consciousness, and were dumbfounded to hear their Lodge Master claiming the Satrap as his uncle. But then, he’d done stranger things in the past, they remembered. No doubt he had some cunning plan.

这时天色已甚为昏暗,众人站在荒郊之中,一阵阵寒风吹来,那病汉不住咳嗽。韦小宝问道:“请问老爷子、老太太贵姓?”那老妇道:“我们姓归。”韦小宝心道:“什么姓不好姓,却去姓个乌龟的‘龟’,真正笑话奇谈。”那老妇瞧着儿子,说道:“这就天黑了,得找个地方投宿,别的事慢慢再商量。”韦小宝道:“是,是。刚才我在山冈之上,见到那边有烟冒起来,有不少人家,咱们这就借宿去。”说着向庄家大屋的方向一指。其实此处离庄家大屋尚有十来里地,山丘阻隔,瞧得见什么炊烟?那男仆牵过两匹马来,让病汉、老翁、老妇乘坐。老妇和病汉合乘一骑,她坐在儿子身后,伸手搂住了他。韦小宝等本来各有坐骑,一齐上马,四名仆役步行。行了一阵,韦小宝对双儿大声道:“你骑马快去,瞧前面是市镇呢还是村庄,找一两间大屋借宿,赶快先烧热水,归家少爷要暖参汤喝。大伙儿热水洗了脚,再喝酒吃饭。多赏些银子。”他说一句,双儿答应一声。他从怀中摸出一大锭银子,连着一包蒙汗药一起递过。双儿接过,纵马疾驰。那老妇脸有喜色,韦小宝吩咐煮热水、暖参汤,显然甚合她心意。又行出数里,双儿驰马奔回,说道:“相公,前面不是市镇,也不是村庄,是家大屋。屋里的人说他家男人都出门去了,不能接待客人。我给银子,他们也不要。”韦小宝骂道:“蠢丫头,管他肯不肯接待,咱们只管去便是。”双儿应道:“是。”那老妇也道:“咱们只借宿一晚,他家没男子,难道还抢了他、谋了他家的不成?”一行人来到庄家。一名男仆上去敲门,敲了良久,才有一个老年仆妇出来开门,耳朵半聋,缠夹不清,翻来覆去,只是说家里没男人。那病汉笑道:“你家没男子,这不是许多男子来了吗?”一闪身,跨进门去,将那老仆妇挤在一边。众人跟着进去,在大厅上坐定。那老妇道:“张妈、孙妈,你们去烧水做饭,主人家不喜欢客人,一切咱们自己动手便是。”两名仆妇答应了,径行去找厨房。
Night was now falling in earnest, and a cold wind had arisen. Invalid started coughing again. ‘May I be so bold as to ask your names?’ ventured Trinket. This time the old man answered directly. ‘We are the Gui Family.’ He glanced at his son. ‘It is getting late. We had better find somewhere suitable for him to pass the night.’ Trinket suggested that they should all proceed together, since he knew of a place where they could stay. The old lady mounted the same horse as her son, sitting behind him and wrapping her arms around him. Kungfu Pedigrees It was not long before they arrived at the Zhuang manor. One of them went ahead and knocked at the door. It was quite some time before finally an aged half’deaf crone answered. She seemed extremely vague, and muttered something about there being no gentlemen in the house. Invalid was not in the least deterred by this. There are now!’ he exclaimed. He laughed and strode on into the hall, pushing the old lady aside as he did so. His parents immediately sent off the two nurses to prepare his meal.

徐天川来过庄家大屋,后来曾听韦小宝说起个中情由,眼见他花言巧语,将这三个武功深不可测的大高手骗得自投罗网,心下暗暗欢喜,当下和众兄弟坐在阶下,离得那病汉和韦小宝远远地,以免露出了马脚。那老翁指着吴之荣问道:“这个嘴里流血的汉子是什么人?”韦小宝道:“这家伙是朝廷里做官的,我们在道上遇见了,怕他去向官府出首告密,因此……因此便割去了他的舌头。”那老翁当时离得甚远,却瞧在眼里,心中一直存着个疑团,这时听韦小宝说了,仍有些将信将疑,走到吴之荣身前,问道:“你是朝廷的官儿,是不是?”吴之荣早已痛得死去活来,当下点了点头。那老翁又问:“你知道人家要造反,想去出首告密,是不是?”吴之荣心想要抵赖是不成了,只盼这老翁能救得自己一命,于是连连点头。韦小宝道:“他得知南方有一位手握兵权的武将要造反,这位武将姓吴,造起反来就不得了。”那老翁问吴之荣道:“这话对吗?”吴之荣又点头不已。那老翁再不怀疑,对韦小宝又多信得几分。他回坐椅上,问韦小宝:“吴兄弟的武功,是哪位师父教的?”韦小宝道:“我师父有好几位,一、二、三,一共是三位。不过我……我又笨又懒,什么功夫也没学好。”那老翁心想:“你武功没学好,难道我不知道了。”但于他的“神行百变”轻功总是不能释怀,虽然韦小宝所使的只是些皮毛,然而身法步伐,确是“神行百变”上乘轻功无疑,又问:“你跟谁学的轻功?”韦小宝心想:“他定要问我轻功是谁教的,必是跟我那位师太师父有仇,那可说不得。他是吴三桂一党,多半跟西藏喇嘛有交情。”便道:“有一位西藏大喇嘛,叫作桑结,在昆明平西王的五华宫里见到了我,说我武功太差,跟人打架是打不过的,不如学些逃走的法子罢,就教了我几天。我练得很辛苦,自以为了不起啦,哪知道一碰上你老公公、老婆婆,还有这位身强力壮、精神百倍的归少爷,却一点也不管用。”
Old Gui was still not entirely convinced by Trinket’s tale. He started asking questions about the ‘real’ Prefect Wu, whose face was a sorry sight, blood dribbling from his mouth. Trinket passed Wu off as a Manchu official he had met on the way, whose tongue he had been obliged to cut out, to prevent him betraying any of the Satrap’s-er, the Prince’s-secrets. Wu, still in agony, was incapable of contradicting Trinket’s story. When Old Gui went on to question the origins of Trinket’s kungfu, things looked tricky for a moment. Trinket did not want to risk revealing the identity of any of his Shifus. So he came up with a new one for the occasion, the Tibetan Grand Lama Sangge (he knew Sangge had links with the Satrap, and it was therefore likely that Old Gui would know about him). The Reverend Sangge was good enough to teach me one or two moves. He also instructed my young maid. But I am ashamed to say I never really learned them properly. I was no match for your son. What strength he has! What excellent kungfu!’

那老妇听他称赞儿子“身强力壮,精神百倍”,这八字评语,可比听到什么奉承话都欢喜,不由得眉花眼笑,向儿子瞧了几眼,从心底里乐上来,说道:“二哥,孩儿这几天精神倒健旺。”那老翁微微点头,然见儿子半醒半睡的靠在椅子,实是萎靡之极,心中不由得难过,向韦小宝道:“原来如此,这就是了。”那老妇问道:“桑结怎么会铁剑门的轻功?”那老翁道:“铁剑门中有个玉真子,在西蒙住过很久。”那老妇道:“啊,是了,他是木桑道长的师弟。多半是他当年在西藏传了给人。”转头问双儿:“小姑娘,你的武功又是跟谁学的?”一对老夫妇都凝视着她,似乎她的师承来历是件要紧之极的大事。双儿给二人瞧得有些心慌,道:“我……我……”她不善说谎,不知如何回答才是。韦小宝道:“她是我的丫头,那位桑结喇嘛,也指点过她的武功。”
Mother Gui was always pleased to hear anyone speak in optimistic terms of her son’s health. At that very moment Invalid was slumped in a chair, looking like death warmed up. She looked at him and smiled. But she was still sceptical about Trinket’s kungfu pedigree.’What you did just now was typical Iron Sword kungfu. I’d know it anywhere. How could the Lama have possibly taught you that?’She obviously knew what she was talking about. The White Nun, who had taught Trinket the Hundred Flights, was indeed a leading exponent of Iron Sword kungfu. Luckily for him, the old man seemed to have worked out another possible lineage’There was an Iron Sword Master called Perfect Jade who once spent a lot of time in Tibet. It was most probably he who passed on the Iron Sword secrets to the Tibetans.”And what about the girl’s kungfu?’ The old lady was still far from satisfied. ‘You’re not going to tell me she learned hers from the Tibetan too’ I hardly think so.’

老翁、老妇一齐摇头,齐声道:“决计不是。”脸上神色十分郑重。这时那病汉忽然大声咳嗽,越咳越厉害。老妇忙过去在他背上轻拍。老翁也转头瞧着儿子。两名仆妇从厨下用木盘托了参汤和热茶出来,站在病汉身前,待他咳嗽停了,服侍他喝了参汤,才将茶碗分给众人、连徐天川等也有一碗。那老翁喝了茶,要待再问双儿,却见她已走入后堂。那老翁忽地站起,问孙妈道:“冲茶的热水哪里来的?”韦小宝大吃一惊,心中怦怦乱跳,暗叫:“糟糕,糟糕!这老不死的知道了。”孙妈道:“是我和张妈一起烧的。”老翁问道:“用的什么水?”孙妈道:“就是厨房缸里的。”张妈跟着道:“我们仔细看过了,很干净……”话犹未了,咕咚、咕咚两声,两名男仆摔倒在地,晕了过去。那老妇跳起身来,晃了一晃,伸手按头,叫道:“茶里有毒!”
She and the old man both shook their heads. There was clearly something they had recognized in Doublet’s style of fighting. Their doubts were interrupted by another fit of coughing from Invalid. Mother Gui hurried over to rub his back, and presently the nurses came in with his ginseng broth and with bowls of tea, which they offered round to Apothecary Xu and the others.Old Gui drank his tea, and was about to question Doublet further, when he noticed that she had already slipped out of the room. Suddenly he stood up, and spoke to the two nurses”Where did you get the water from, for the tea?”From the kitchen,’ they hastened to answer. ‘It was quite clean. We both looked carefully.’Even as they said this, there was a thud, and the two Gui retainers passed out and fell to the ground. Old Lady Gui was on her feet now, wobbling unsteadily, and holding her hand to her head.The tea! It’s been drugged!’

徐天川等并未喝茶,各人使个眼色,一齐摔倒,假装晕去,乒乒乓乓,茶碗摔了一地。韦小宝叫道:“啊哟!”也摔倒在地,闭上了眼睛。只听张妈和孙妈齐道:“水是我们烧的,厨房里又没来过别人。”那老妇道:“缸里的水下了药。孩儿,你觉得怎样?”那病汉道:“还好,还……”头一侧,也晕了过去。孙妈道:“参汤里没加水。参汤是我们熬了带来的。”老翁道:“隔水燉热,水汽也会进去。”老妇道:“对!孩儿身子虚弱,这……这……”忙伸手去摸那病汉额头,手掌已不住颤抖。那老翁强运内息,压住腹内药力不使散发,说道:“快去挹两盆冷水来。”张妈、孙妈没喝茶,眼见奇变横生,都吓得慌了,忙急奔入内。那老妇道:“这屋子有古怪。”她身上不带兵刃,俯身去一名男仆腰间拔刀,一低头,只觉一阵天旋地转,再也站立不定,一交坐倒,手指碰到了刀柄,却已无力捏住。那老翁左手扶住椅背,闭目喘息,身子微微摇晃。
The Triads had not tasted their tea, but they too (having exchanged meaningful glances) suddenly slumped to the floor, knocking bowls all over the place. Trinket too uttered a cry, and did likewise, closing both his eyes. Invalid gave a feeble cry. His head tilted to one side, and he lost consciousness. Old Gui had drunk the tea, but he was able, through a series of deep breathing exercises, to control the movement of the drug, so that it did not circulate within his body. ‘Quickly’ he said to the two nurses, who had themselves drunk nothing. ‘Fetch two bowls of cold water.’ They hurried out. There’s something very strange about this house,’ muttered the old lady, as she bent down to take hold of the sword belonging to one of her retainers. She grew dizzy and collapsed on the ground. Old Gui had taken hold of a chair with his left hand, and was standing there, closing his eyes and taking deep breaths, tottering slightly from side to side.

韦小宝躺在地下,偷眼察看,见双儿引了一群女子出来。那老翁突然挥掌劈出,将一名白衣女子击得飞出丈许,撞塌了一张椅子。徐天川等大声呼喝,跃起身来,抢到老翁身前,却见他已然晕倒。风际中出指点了他穴道,又点了那老妇和病汉的穴道。韦小宝跳起身来,哈哈大笑,叫道:“庄三少奶,你好!”
From his prostrate position on the floor, Trinket opened his eyes a slit. He saw Doublet coming into the room, accompanied by a large number of women in white. Old Gui spotted them at the same moment and summoned up a last spurt of energy, propelling himself at one of the women, chopping at her with a flashing movement of his palm, and sending her flying into a chair. This was the cue for the Triads to leap up from the ground (where they were busy pretending to be drugged) and pounce on him. But he was already unconscious. In a matter of seconds, Apothecary Xu closed a few points, and had the three Guis immobilized, to make doubly sure. Trinket now jumped to his feet, and laughed loudly. Then he turned to one of the woman in white, and bowed respectfully, ‘Greetings, Widow Zhuang!’

Evil is its own Reward

向一个白衣女子躬身行礼。那女子正是庄家三少奶,急忙还礼,说道:“韦少爷,你擒得我们的大仇人到来,真不知如何报答才是。老天爷有眼,让我们大仇得报。韦少爷,请你来见过我们的师父。”引着他走到一个黄衫女子之前。这女子伸手在那被老翁击伤的女子背上按摩。那伤者哇的一声,吐出一大口鲜血,跟着又是一大口血。那黄衫女子微笑道:“不要紧了。”声音柔美动听。
The lady in white returned Trinket’s salutation. ‘How can we ever express our gratitude to you for delivering our enemy into our hands like this! For giving us this opportunity for vengeance and justice! Please come with me. I would like you to meet our Shifu.’ She took Trinket by the hand and led him towards a lady dressed in a yellow tunic who was busy massaging the back of the unfortunate woman recently hurled across the room by Old Gui. The woman was still moaning in pain and spitting out mouthfuls of blood. ‘Don’t worry!’ said the woman in the yellow tunic, smiling gently and speaking in a soft, tender voice.

韦小宝见这女子年纪已然不轻,声音却如少女一般。她头上戴了个金环,赤了双足,腰间围着条绣花腰带,装束甚是奇特,头发已然花白,一张脸庞却又白又嫩,只眼角间有不少皱纹,到底多大年纪,实在说不上来,瞧头发已有六十来岁,容貌却不过三十岁上下。他想这人既是三少奶的师父,当即上前跪倒磕头,说道:“婆婆姊姊,韦小宝磕头。”那女子笑问:“你这孩子叫我什么?”韦小宝站起身来,说道:“你是三少奶的师父,我该叫你婆婆,不过瞧你相貌,最多不过做得我姊姊,因此叫你婆婆姊姊。”
She was no youngster, reflected Trinket as he looked at her. But she had the voice of a young girl. She wore a little band of gold on her head, and was barefoot. Her hair was grey, and her face, although her cheeks were soft and white, was heavily wrinkled around the eyes. It was almost impossible to guess her age. From the hair one would say well over sixty; from the cheeks, about thirty. In any case, thought Trinket, if she’s Widow Zhuang’s Shifu, I should kowtow to her. Which he did.Trinket bows to Elder Sister Madam!’She clearly found this mode of address highly amusing. Trinket hastened to explain.’I called you that because if you are Widow Zhuang’s Shifu, I should call you Madam; but on the other hand, if I’d heard your voice on its own, without seeing you, I’d have thought you were my little sister.’

那女子格格而笑,说道:“最多做你姊姊?难道还能做你妹子吗?”韦小宝道:“倘若我隔壁听见你的声音,那要叫你婆婆妹妹了。”那女子笑得身子乱颤,笑道:“你这小滑头好有趣,一张嘴油腔滑调,真会讨人欢喜,难怪连我归师伯这样的大英雄,也会着了你道儿。”她此言一出,众人无不大惊。韦小宝指着那老翁道:“这……这老公公,是你婆婆姊姊的师伯?”那女子笑道:“怎么不是?我跟他老人家有四十年不见了,起初还真认不出来,直到见到他老人家出手,这一掌‘雪横秦岭’如此威猛,中原再没第二个人使得出,才知是他。”
Yellow Tunic laughed out loud.’What a funny little fellow you are! You certainly have the gift of the gab! No wonder you talked round my own Shifu’s brother’in’arms, Old Gui!’Trinket and his friends looked at her in utter amazement.’You mean . . .’ began Trinket incredulously. ‘You mean that this old gentleman here is your Shifu’s brother’in’arms?’That’s what I said. It’s forty years since I last saw him. At first I did not even recognize him. But the moment I saw him in action, I knew it was him! No one else can do that move the way he does. It’s deadly-Snow on the Mountain Passes of Qin!’

韦小宝愁道:“既然是自己人,那怎么办?”那女子摇头笑道:“我可也不知道怎么办了。我师父知道了这事,非把我骂个臭死不可。”眼见几名仆妇已手持粗索在旁侍候,笑道:“你如吩咐要绑人,你自己发号令罢,可不关我事。师伯我是不敢绑的,不过如果不绑,他老人家醒了转来,我却打他不过。小弟弟,你打得过吗?”韦小宝大喜,笑道:“我更加打不过了。”知她这么说,只是要自脱干系,却无回护师伯之意,忙向徐天川等道:“这几个人跟吴三桂是一党,不是好人。咱们天地会绑他起来,跟婆婆姊姊半点也不相干。”徐天川等适才受那病汉戏弄,实是生平从所未经的奇耻大辱,早已恨得牙痒痒地,当即接过绳索,将老翁、老妇、病汉和两个男仆都结结实实的绑住。那黄衫女子问道:“我归师伯怎会跟吴三桂是一党?你们又怎么干上了的?”韦小宝于是将如何与那老翁在饭店相遇的情形说了,徐天川等为那病汉戏耍一节,自然略过了不说,只说这痨病鬼武功厉害,大家不是他敌手。那女子道:“归家小师弟的性命,还是我师父救的。他从小就生重病,到现在身子还是好不了。他是归师伯夫妇的命根子。”看了那老翁一眼,说道:“归师伯为人很正派,怎会跟吴三桂那大汉奸是一党?倘若真是这样,我师父就不能骂人,嘻嘻!”听她言语,似乎对师父着实怕得厉害。韦小宝道:“谁帮了吴三桂,那就该杀。你师父知道了这事,还会大大称赞你呢。”那女子笑道:“是吗?”瞧着那老翁、老妇,沉思片刻,过去探了探那病汉的鼻息,说道:“三少奶,待会我师伯醒来,定要大发脾气。咱们又不能杀了他。这样罢,让他们留在这里,咱们大伙儿溜之大吉,教他们永远不知道是给谁绑住的,你说好不好?”三少奶道:“师父吩咐,就这么办好了。”
Trinket reflected that whatever Old Gui’s kungfu lineage was, the Gui Trio were going to be impossible to deal with once they came round. He would have to bind them as a precaution.These three are working for the Satrap’ he declared, and gave orders for them to be bound. The Triads were only too glad to oblige, having just recently been so tormented and humiliated. Being a Spinning’Top was not something they wanted to experience again.’Working for the Satrap?’ said Lady Yellow Tunic. The Guis’ I find that hard to believe. How did you run into them anyway?’Trinket told her the story, giving a vivid description of Invalid Gui’s strange (but invincible) kungfu.’It was my own Shifu who saved the boy’s life in the first place’ said Yellow Tunic. ‘He is his parents’ pride and joy.’She looked at the unconscious form of Old Gui. ‘The old man was always so upright, so just. If he really has joined forces with the Satrap, my Shifu would certainly be most disappointed.’ She spoke of her Shifu with a mixture of awe and fear. Meanwhile one of the women in white came up to Widow Zhuang. ‘Ma’am, now that we have the Great Enemy in our hands, let us go into the shrine and make an offering to the souls of the departed.’ ‘Very well,’ replied Widow Zhuang.

但想在此处居住多年,突然立刻要走,心中固是舍不得,又觉诸物搬迁不易,不禁面有难色。一个白衣老妇人说道:“仇人已得,我们去祭过了诸位相公,灵位就可焚化了。”三少奶道:“婆婆说得是。”当下众人来到灵堂,将吴之荣拉过来,跪在地下。三少奶从供桌上捧下一部书来,拿到吴之荣跟前,说道:“吴大人,这部是什么书,你总认得罢?”吴之荣对这部书早已看得滚瓜烂熟,一见这书的厚薄、大小、册数,便知是自己赖以升官发财的《明史》,再看题签,果然是《明书辑略》,便点了点头。
They all proceeded deeper into the manor, dragging Prefect Wu with them. When they reached the shrine, they forced him to his knees. Widow Zhuang took a book down from the altar and held it out before Wu. ‘Do you recognize this book?’ If there was one book that Wu Zhirong knew by heart, it was this’ An Epitome of Ming History, by Zhuang Tinglong, the book responsible for his own meteoric rise within the ranks of the mandarinate. He nodded.

三少奶又道:“你瞧得仔细些,这里供的英灵,当年你都认得的。”吴之荣凝目向灵牌上的名字瞧去,只见一块块灵牌上写的名字是庄允城、庄廷、李令晰、程维藩、李焕、王兆桢、茅元锡……一百多块灵牌上的名字,个个是因自己举报告密、为《明史》一案而被朝廷处死的。吴之荣只看得八九个名字,已然魂飞天外。他舌头被割,流血不止,本已三成中死了二成,这时全身一软,坐倒在地,扑簌簌的抖个不住。
The Widow continued’ ‘Now look at these Spirit Tablets. Tell me if you recognize the names.’ Wu looked up at the row of tablets above the altar and all around the candle’lit shrine. There were more than a hundred all told. They were all of them men who had been put to death several years earlier, as a result of the Ming History Inquisition. It was Wu Zhirong who had instigated the witch’hunt. He had been responsible for the death of every one of them’ Zhuang Tinglong, the blind nominal author-(although he had already died by the time of the Inquisition, his corpse had been taken out of its coffin and gibbeted); Zhuang Yuncheng (the author’s father); Li Lingxi (the Vice’President of the Board of Rites, who had written the book’s Preface’ he had been subjected to the Slow Process-death by slicing); Cheng Weifan (the well’meaning Yamen secretary, another case of the Slow Process); Li Huan and Wang Zhaozhen (petty officials in the Prefect of Huzhou’s Yamen); and so on. As Wu began reading the names, he had a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Blood was still dribbling from the stump of his amputated tongue. He was already two’thirds dead. He felt his whole body begin to tremble beneath him.

三少奶道:“你为了贪图功名富贵,害死了这许多人。列位相公有的在牢狱中受苦折磨而亡,有的惨遭凌迟,身受千刀万剐之苦。我们若不是天幸蒙师父搭救,也早已给你害死。今日如一刃杀了你,未免太也便宜了你。只不过我们做事,不像你们这样残忍,你想死得痛快,自己作个了断罢。”说着解开了他身上穴道,当的一声,将一柄短刀抛在地下。吴之荣全身颤抖,拾起刀来,可是要他自杀,又如何有这勇气?突然转身,便欲向灵堂外冲出逃命,只跨出一步,但见数十个白衣女子挡在身前。他喉头荷荷数声,一交摔倒,扭曲了几下,便一动也不动了。
The Widow spoke again’ ‘These are all men that you destroyed, for the sake of your own wealth and glory. Some died in prison, after long days and weeks of torture. Some were sliced to death, slowly and painfully, by a thousand cuts. We too would have died, or spent the rest of our days in slavery, if our Shifu had not saved us. Today your turn has come. Today you will die. We will not be as cruel as you were. But justice must be done. It would be too easy for you if one of us were to do the deed. You are to take your life with your own hand.’ And so saying, she released his points, restoring the power of movement necessary for this final act, and tossed him a sword. Wu picked up the sword. He was trembling violently. He lacked the courage to do what he had to do. Suddenly he turned, and made a desperate dash for the door of the shrine. It was a futile gesture. Before he had taken a single step, a dozen white’clad figures had converged to block his path. He uttered a hoarse cry, and stumbled to the ground. There he writhed around for a moment. And then he lay still.

三少奶扳过他身子,见他呼吸已停,满脸鲜血,睁大了双眼,神情可怖,说道:“恶有恶报,这奸贼终于死了。”跪倒在灵前,说道:“列位相公,你们大仇得报,在天之灵,便请安息罢。”众女子一齐伏地大哭。韦小宝和天地会群雄都在灵前行礼。那黄衫女子却站在一旁,秀眉微蹙,默然不动。众女子哭泣了一会,又齐向韦小宝叩拜,谢他擒得仇人到来。韦小宝忙磕头还礼,说道:“小事一桩,何必客气?倘若你们再有什么仇人,说给我听,我再去给你们抓来便是。”三少奶道:“奸相鳌拜是韦少爷亲手杀了,吴之荣已由韦少爷捉来处死。我们的大仇已报了十足,再也没仇人了。”当下众女子撤了灵位,火化灵牌。
Widow Zhuang went up and felt his body. He was no longer breathing. His face was covered in blood. His eyes were staring wide. He was a terrifying sight. ‘Evil has had its own reward. This wicked man has finally met his death.’ She knelt before the altar. ‘Spirits of the departed! You have been avenged! May your souls know peace!’ All the women threw themselves face down on the ground, and began howling. Trinket and his Triad friends all bowed before the altar. Yellow Tunic stood motionless and silent to one side, a slight frown on her fair brow. After a lengthy spell of lamentation, the women kowtowed before Trinket and thanked him for what he had done. Not only had he killed Oboi, the Manchu who had initiated the investigation leading to their husbands’ deaths. He had also brought them Wu. The women proceeded to dismantle the altar and the shrine, and committed the tablets to the flames.

Living Legends

那黄衫女子见她们繁文缛节,闹个不休,不耐烦起来,出去瞧那被擒的数人。韦小宝和天地会群雄跟了出去。只见那老翁、老妇、病汉兀自未醒。

那黄衫女子微笑道:“小娃娃,你要下毒害人,可着实得好好的学学呢。”韦小宝道:“是,是,晚辈下药迷人,实在是没法子。他们武功太强,我如不使个诡计,非给扭断脖子不可。这些下作手段,江湖上英雄好汉是很瞧不起的。我知错了,下次不敢了。”那黄衫女子微微一笑,说道:“什么下作上作?杀人就是杀人,用刀子是杀人,用拳头是杀人,下毒用药,还不一样是杀人?江湖上的英雄好汉瞧不起?哼,谁要他们瞧得起了?像那吴之荣,他去向朝廷告密,杀了几千几百人,他不用毒药,难道就该瞧得起他了?”

这番话句句都教韦小宝打从心坎儿里欢喜出来,不禁眉花眼笑,说道:“婆婆姊姊,你这话可真对极了。我小时候帮人打架,用石灰撒敌人眼睛,我帮他打赢了架,救了他性命,可是这人反而说我使的是下三滥手段,狠狠打我耳光。可惜那时婆婆姊姊不在身边,否则也好教训教训他。”那黄衫女子道:“不过你向我归师伯下毒,我也得狠狠打你几个耳光。”韦小宝忙道:“那时候我可不知他是你的师伯哪。”那女子道:“要是你知道他是我师伯,他又要扭断你的脖子,你有毒药在手,下不下他的毒?”韦小宝嘻嘻一笑,说道:“性命交关,那也只好得罪了。”那女子道:“算你说老实话。人家要你的命,你怎能不先要人家的命?我说要打你耳光,只因你太也不知好歹。人家是大名鼎鼎的‘神拳无敌’归辛树归二爷,功力何等深厚?你对他使这吃了头不会晕、眼不会花的狗屁蒙汗药,他老人家只当是胡椒粉。”
Lady Yellow Tunic now took Trinket and his friends back out to the hall, where the Gui Trio were still lying unconscious. Havingdiscovered that the old man was the brother’in’arms of Yellow Tunic’s Shifu, Trinket felt somewhat ashamed at having used drugs to lay him low. ‘If I’d known who he was, I’d never have done such a thing!’ he protested. ‘If you’d known who he was’ Why, you obviously still have no idea. This man is a living legend. He is known far and wide as one of the greatest fighters of all time. His full name is Gui Xinshu, and he has always been known as the Matchless Knight. Those paltry drugs you tried on him would have affected him about as much as a sprinkling of pepper in his soup!’

韦小宝道:“可是他……他……”那女子道:“你这不上台盘的蒙汗药混在茶里,人家八十年的老江湖,会胡里胡涂的就喝了下去?那是开黑店的流氓痞棍玩意儿。要下毒,就得下第一流的。”韦小宝又惊又喜,说道:“原来……原来婆婆姊姊给换上了第一流的。”那女子道:“胡说!我没换。归师伯他们自己累了,头痛发烧,晕了过去。跟我有什么相干?一个是痨病鬼,两个是八十多岁的老公公、老婆婆,忽然之间自己晕倒了,有什么希奇?”她嘴里说得一本正经,眼光中却露出玩闹的神色。韦小宝知她怕日后师父知道了责骂,是以不认,心中对这女子说不出的投缘佩服,突然跪倒在地,说道:“婆婆姊姊,我拜你为师,你收了我这徒儿,我叫你师父姊姊。”那女子格格嘻笑,伸出右臂,将手掌搁在他颏下。韦小宝只觉得颏下有件硬物,绝非人手,垂首看去,大吃一惊,只见那物竟是一把黑黝黝的铁钩,钩尖甚利,闪闪发光。那女子笑道:“你再瞧仔细了。”左手捋起右手衣袖,露出一段雪白的上臂,但齐腕而断,并无手掌,那只铁钩竟是装在手腕上的。那女子道:“你要做我徒儿,也无不可,这就来割去了手掌,我给你装只铁钩。”
‘What do you mean?’ ‘I mean, do you really think an old veteran like Gui, a living legend of the kungfu world, would have fallen for something like that’ Common or garden whore’house opiate’ That stuff you were using may be all right on young girls. But on Matchless’ To put him out required something a little more serious, I can assure you.’ Trinket knew at once that it was she who had added this ‘something more serious’, a more powerful ingredient to make his amateurish potion so effective. She denied this fiercely. But he knew it was true. He knelt before her and begged her to accept him as her disciple. She laughed, and reaching out she took hold of him by the chin. As she did so, Trinket felt something hard and cold. He looked down, and had the shock of his life. At the end of her right arm was not a hand, but a shining black metal hook. She smiled. ‘Look carefully.’ With her left hand she pulled back the sleeve, to reveal a snow’white right arm, as far as the wrist. And then there was the black hook. ‘If you really want to be my disciple,’ she said, ‘you must do the same thing yourself.’

这黄衫女子,便是当年天下闻名的五毒教教主何铁手。后来拜袁承志为师,改名为何惕守。明亡后她随同袁承志远赴海外,那一年奉师命来中原办事,无意中救了庄家三少奶等一群寡妇,传了她们一些武艺。此番重来,恰逢双儿拿了蒙汗药前来,说起情由,她虽不知对方是谁,但武功既如此高强,寻常蒙汗药绝无用处,于是另行用些药物放入水缸之中。何惕守使毒本领当世无双,自归华山派后,不弹此调已久,忽然见到有人要在水缸中下毒,不禁技痒,牛刀小试,天下何人当得?若非如此,归辛树内力深厚,尚在她师父袁承志之上,韦小宝这包从御前侍卫手中得来的寻常蒙汗药,如何迷得他倒?那病汉归钟在娘胎之中便已得病,本来绝难养大,后来服了珍贵之极的灵药,这条性命才保了下来,但身体脑力均已受损,始终不能如常人壮健。归辛树夫妇只有这个独子,爱逾性命,因他自幼病苦缠绵,不免娇宠过度,失了管教。归钟虽然学得一身高强武功,但人到中年,心智性情,却还是如八九岁的小儿一般。何惕守下药之时,不知对方是谁,待得发觉竟是归师伯一家,不由得心中惴惴,然而事已如此,也就置之度外,听得韦小宝说话讨人欢喜,对他很是喜爱,心想域外海岛之上,哪有这等伶俐顽皮的少年?韦小宝听说要割去一只手,才拜得师父,提起手掌一看,既怕割手疼痛,又舍不得,神色甚是踌躇。
This ‘Lady Yellow Tunic’ was in fact known as Lady Iron Hand. She was the famed guru of the Five Poisons Sect, who had later herself become the disciple of Yuan Chengzhi, the legendary Master of the Mount Hua School of kungfu. With the downfall of the Ming, she had followed Yuan to his island exile. She had been on a secret mission on the mainland when she had run into the Zhuang widows, on their way into captivity and slavery in Manchuria. She had saved them, and it was also she who had taught them a certain amount of kungfu. On this present occasion she had encountered Doublet in the kitchen, as she was putting some of Trinket’s ‘whorehouse opiate’ in the tea. Enquiring as to the situation, without ascertaining the exact identity of the opponents they were dealing with, she had realized that their kungfu was far too advanced for such a cheap trick, and so had added something much more potent of her own (she had not been a Five Poisons guru for nothing).Trinket was not so sure about the idea of cutting off his right hand.

何惕守笑道:“师父是不用拜了,我也没时候传你功夫。我有一件很好玩的暗器,这就送了给你,免得你心里叫冤,白磕了头,又叫了一阵‘师父姊姊’。”韦小宝道:“师父姊姊,那决不是白叫的。你就是不传我功夫,不给我物事,像你这般美貌姑娘,我多叫得几声师父姊姊,心里也快活得很。”何惕守格格而笑,说道:“小猴子油嘴滑舌,跟你婆婆没上没下的瞎说。”她是苗家女子,于汉人的礼法规矩向来不放在心上,韦小宝赞她美貌,她非但不以为忤,反而开心,又笑道:“小猴子,你再叫一声。”韦小宝笑道:“姊姊,好姊姊!”何惕守笑道:“啊哟,越来越不成话啦。”
She laughed.’Don’t you worry. There’s no need for you to be my disciple. And anyway, I don’t have time to teach you; though I do have something I’d like to give you. There’s absolutely no call for you to go knocking your head on the ground and calling me Elder Sister Shifu!”But I like it!’ protested Trinket. ‘Even if you won’t be my Shifu, I’d still like to call you Big Sister! You’re so pretty! Big sis! Big sis!’He was almost as bad as Invalid.She let out a peal of laughter. She belonged to the Miao mountain people of the south’west, and had none of the typical Chinese inhibitions about such things. She just liked being called pretty, and found Trinket’s way of talking entertaining.’Go on, say it again!”Big sis! Big sis!”You’re a cheeky little boy, aren’t you!’

突然左手抓住他后颈,将他提在左侧,但听得嗤嗤嗤声响,桌上三枝烛火登时熄灭,对面板壁上拍拍之声密如急雨般响了一阵。韦小宝又惊又喜,问道:“这是什么暗器?”何惕守笑道:“你自己瞧瞧去。”松手放他落地。韦小宝从茶几上拿起一只烛台,凑近板壁看时,只见数十枚亮闪闪的钢针,都深深钉入了板壁。他佩服之极,说道:“姊姊,你一动也不动,怎地发射了这许多钢针?这等暗器,天下又有谁躲得过?”何惕守笑道:“当年我曾用这‘含沙射影’暗器射我师父,他就躲过了,一枚针儿也射他不中。不过除了我师父之外,躲得过的只怕也没几个。”韦小宝道:“你师父定是要你试着射他,先有了防备,倘若突然之间射出去,他老人家武功再强,这种来无影、去无踪的暗器,又怎闪躲得了?”何惕守道:“那时候我跟师父是对头,正在恶斗。他不是叫我试射,事先完全不知道。”韦小宝道:“这就是了。你师父正在全神贯注的防你,这才避过了。倘若那时候你向东边一指,转头瞧去,叫道:‘咦,谁来了?你师父必定也向东瞧上一眼,那时你忽然发射,只怕非中不可。”何惕守叹了口气,说道:“或许你说得不错。这钢针上喂了剧毒,我师父那时倘若避不过,便已死了。那时我可并不想杀他。”韦小宝道:“你心中爱上了师父,是不是?”
She grabbed his neck from behind with her left hand, lifted him off the ground, and dangled him over to her left side. Suddenly he heard a series of spluttering sounds and three of the candles on the table directly in front of him went out. Then, from the wooden partition wall opposite, he heard a series of puttering sounds, like heavy drops of rain falling rapidly one after the other.’Go and have a look,’ she said, releasing him. He took one of the candles that was still alight, and walked up to the wall. He could see twenty or thirty glistening steel darts embedded in it.’How on earth did you do that’ You didn’t even move!’ he cried in amazement. ‘No one could ever dodge something as fast as that!”The only person who could was my Shifu. We fought each other once-it was before I became his disciple. Luckily I never killed him.’There was a strange note in her voice. Trinket looked at her.’I think you were in love with that Shifu of yours? ‘ he ventured.

何惕守脸上微微一红,呸了一声,道:“没有的事,快别胡说八道,给我师娘听见了,非割了你半截舌头不可。”韦小宝可万万料想不到,那时何惕守所暗中爱上的,却是这个女扮男装的师娘。少年往时事蓦地里兜上心来,虽已事隔数十年,何惕守脸上仍不禁发烧,她取出两只鹿皮小指套,戴在左手拇指和食指之上,将板壁上钢针一枚枚拔下,跟着伸手从衣襟内解了一根铁带出来,带上装着一只钢盒,盒盖上有许多小孔。
She flushed very slightly. ‘Nonsense! If his lady were to hear you say that, she’d cut your tongue out!’ There was so much that Trinket did not know. For example, it was not her Shifu, the handsome Yuan Chengzhi, that Lady Iron Hand had really been in love with. It was his lady, the woman warrior who dressed as a man. But that is part of another story.* Lady Iron Hand seemed momentarily flushed by memories of the passion of her youth. She took a pair of finger’sheaths from her pocket and slipped them onto the thumb and first finger of her left hand. Then she carefully removed the darts from the wall, and extracted a small metal casket attached to a metal hoop inside her gown. It had rows of tiny little holes in its lid. She replaced the darts one by one.

韦小宝恍然大悟,拍手叫道:“姊姊,这暗器当真巧妙,原来你装在衣衫里面,只消一掀铁带上机括,铁盒中就射了钢针出去。”心想她答应送一件暗器给自己,多半便是此物,不禁心花怒放。何惕守微笑道:“不论多厉害的暗器,发射时总靠手力准头。你武功也太差劲,除了这‘含沙射影’,别的暗器也用不来。”当下将钢针一枚枚插回盒中,要他捋起长袍,将铁带缚在他身上,钢盒正当胸口,教了他掀动机括之法,又传了配制针上毒药和解药的方子,说道:“盒中钢针一共可用五次,用完之后就须加进去了。我师父一再叮嘱,千万不可滥伤无辜。这暗器本来是淬上剧毒的,现下喂的并不是要人性命的毒药,只叫人中了之后,麻痒难当,全身没半点力气。但你仍然千万不可乱使。”韦小宝没口子的答应,又跪下拜谢。
Trinket took one look at the casket and clapped his hands. ‘I see how it works! There’s a spring, and all you have to do is release the spring and the darts fly straight out from inside your gown. It’s so clever!’ ‘You must be very careful when you use these’ she said undoing his gown and attaching the hoop. She showed him how to release the spring. She also explained to him how to make the poison with which the darts were tipped, and how to make the antidote. ‘There are enough darts in here for five strikes’ she said. ‘Then you have to replenish the supply, and tip them with fresh poison.’ The poison was not fatal, she explained. It merely rendered the opponent powerless. But he should use them sparingly none the less. Trinket nodded instantly, and knelt once again to express his gratitude.

Dead Man’s Head

何惕守道:“你把他们三位扶起坐好。”韦小宝答应了,先将归辛树扶起坐入椅中,又去扶归钟时,碰到他腰间圆鼓鼓的似有一个葫芦,拉起他长袍一看,却是个革囊。韦小宝好奇心起,拉开囊上革索,探眼一看,突然大叫起来:“啊哟,是个死人头,他……他……瞪着眼在瞧我呢。”何惕守也觉奇怪,说道:“他不知杀了什么要紧人物,却巴巴的将首级挂在腰里。你拿出来瞧瞧。”
‘You can sit the Gui family up now’ said Lady Iron Hand, and herself left the room. Trinket propped up Old Gui on a chair, and went over to Invalid. As he hauled him up from the ground, he felt something large and round, like a big gourd, protruding from under his gown. Opening the gown, he saw a large leather sack. Trinket was curious as to its contents, and he loosened the leather thongs and looked inside.’Aiya!’ he cried in horror. ‘A dead man’s head! And . . . and he’s staring right at me! Yikes! Listen to me, Dead Man’s Head, if I take you out, will you promise not to bite me?’

* The reader can pursue these characters in the author’s earlier novel, The Bloodstained Sword.

韦小宝道:“死人,死人!我拿你出来,你不可咬我。”慢慢伸手入囊,抓住那首级的辫子,提了出来,放在桌上。烛火下瞧得明白,这首级怒目圆睁,虬髯戟张,韦小宝大叫一声,连退三步,惊叫:“是……是吴大哥……”何惕守微微一惊,问道:“你认得他?”韦小宝道:“他……他是我们会里的兄弟,吴六奇吴大哥!”心下悲痛,放声大哭。天地会群豪听得他的狂叫大哭,奔上厅来,见到吴六奇的首级,尽皆惊诧悲愤。各人手按刀柄,凝视何惕守,只道吴六奇是她杀的。跟着双儿也奔了出来。韦小宝拉着她手,指着首级,叫道:“双……双儿,这是你义兄吴大哥,他……他给这恶贼害死了!”说着抢到归钟之前,在他身上狠狠踢了几脚,向徐天川等道:“吴大哥的首级,这恶贼挂在身上。”众人再细看那首级时,只见血渍早干,颈口处全是石灰,显是以药物和石灰护住,不使腐烂。双儿抚着首级,放声大哭。李力世道:“咱们用冷水淋醒这恶贼,问明端详,再杀他为吴大哥抵命。”群雄齐声称是。何惕守道:“这人是我师弟,你们不能动他一根寒毛!”说着伸出右手铁钩,向着桌上一枝蜡烛挥了几挥,飘然入内。玄贞道人怒道:“就算是你师父,也要把他斩为肉酱……”突然风际中“咦”的一声,左手两根手指拿了七八分长的一截蜡烛,举起手来。烛台上的蜡烛本来尚有七八寸长,但这时已割成六七截,每截长不逾寸,整整齐齐的叠在一起,并不倒塌。这手武功,当真惊世骇俗。天地会群豪无不变色。玄贞刷的一声,拔出佩刀,说道:“我杀了这厮为吴大哥报仇,让那女人杀我便了。”李力世道:“且慢,先问个明白,然后这三人一起都杀。”韦小宝道:“对!这位婆婆姊姊只怕她师伯,只消连她师伯、师伯老婆一起都杀了,反而没事。双儿,你去打一盆冷水来,可不要那厨房里下过药的。”
The head had once belonged to Beggar Wu, the undercover Triad general from Guangdong. Of that there was no doubt. Trinket began howling. The Triad Brothers heard him, and came hurrying into the room. Their first reaction was to think that Lady Iron Hand had killed him. Then Doublet arrived. Trinket took her by the hand.’Doublet, sweet Doublet, this is your sworn brother, General Wu! He was killed by this creature! I found the head inside his gown!’So saying, he rushed over to the slumped, still unconscious form of Invalid Gui, and gave him a few hefty kicks. Apothecary Xu examined the severed head more closely. The blood had clearly been dry for some time, and the head had been carefully preserved with lime. Doublet stroked it and began wailing pitifully.’Throw some cold water on this vile thing and wake him up!’ demanded Brother Li. ‘We must get to the bottom of this. We must kill him, and avenge our Brother’s death!’Unanimous agreement was expressed by the other Triads.

双儿进去打了一盆冷水出来,徐天川接过,在归钟头上慢慢淋下去。只听他连打了几个喷嚏,慢慢睁开眼来。他身子一动,发觉手足被缚,腰间又被点了穴道,怒道:“谁?谁跟我闹着玩?”玄贞将刀刃在他脸上轻轻一拍,骂道:“你祖宗跟你闹着玩。”指着吴六奇的首级,问:“这人是你害死的吗?”归钟道:“不错!是我杀的。妈妈、爹爹,你们在哪里?”转头见到父母也都已被绑,吓得险些哭了出来。他一生跟随父母,事事如意。从未受过些少挫折,几时又经历过这等情景?哭丧着脸道:“你……你们干什么?你们打我不过,怎么……怎么绑住了我?绑住了我爹爹、妈妈?”徐天川反过手掌,拍的一声,打了他一个耳光,喝道:“这人你怎么杀的?快快说来,若有半句虚语,立时戳瞎了你眼睛。”说着将刀尖伸过去对准他的右眼。归钟吓得魂不附体,不住咳嗽,说道:“我……我说……你别戳瞎我眼睛。瞎了眼睛,可看不见……看不见……咳咳……咳咳……平西王说道,鞑子皇帝是个大大的坏蛋,霸占……霸占我们……我们大明江山,求我去……去杀了鞑子皇帝……”
Doublet went off to fetch some water, which they threw in Invalid Gui’s face. He sneezed a few times, and slowly opened his eyes. He tried to move, only to discover that he had been both bound and immobilized.’Who’s playing tricks!’ he exclaimed angrily.Father Obscurus nudged his face with the point of his sword.’My grandfather has’ he muttered threateningly. ‘What have you got to say about this?’ He pointed at Wu’s head.’I did it!’ declared Invalid. ‘Where are my mum and dad?’He looked around and saw that the old couple were also bound and helpless. He almost burst out crying. Suddenly he seemed very afraid and alone, like a spoilt child in real trouble for the first time. Apothecary Xu gave him a good box on the ears. ‘Why did you kill this man’ Come on, speak up, and tell the truth, or I’ll poke both your eyes out!’ He held the tip of his sword a millimetre from Invalid’s right eyeball. Invalid was terrified and started coughing uncontrollably. ‘I … I … Don’t poke my eyes out! Don’t! Then I won’t be able to see! It was the Prince. He said the Emperor was a bad, bad man. He took away our land. I ought to kill him!’

群豪面面相觑,均想:“这话倒也不错。”韦小宝却大大的不以为然,骂道:“辣块妈妈,吴三桂是他妈的什么好东西了?”归钟道:“平西王是你伯父,他……他……不是好东西,你也不是好东西。”韦小宝在他身上重重踢了一脚,骂道:“胡说八道!吴三桂是大汉奸,怎么会是老子的伯父?吴三桂是你伯父!”归钟叫道:“是你自己说的,啊哟,你说过了话要赖,我不来,我不来!”李力世见他缠夹不清,问道:“吴三桂要你去杀鞑子皇帝,怎么你又去害死了他?”说着又向吴六奇的首级一指。归钟道:“这人是广东的大官,平西王说他是大汉奸,保定了鞑子皇帝。平西王要起兵打广东,非先杀了他不可。平西王送了我很多补药,吃了治咳嗽的,又送了我白老虎皮。我妈说的,大汉奸非杀不可。咳咳,这人武功很好,我……我跟妈两个一起打他,才杀了的。你们快放开我,放开我爹爹妈妈。我们要上北京去杀鞑子皇帝,那是大大的功劳……”韦小宝骂道:“要杀皇帝,也轮不到你这痨病鬼。众位哥哥,把这三个家伙都杀了,婆婆姊姊那里,由我来担当好了。”忽听得庄外数十人齐声大叫:“痨病鬼,快滚出来,把你千刀万剐,为吴大哥报仇!”庄前庄后都是人声,连四处屋顶上都有人呐喊,显是将庄子四下围住了。天地会群豪听得来人要为吴六奇报仇,似乎是自己人,都是心中一喜。钱老本大声叫道:“明复清反,母地父天。外面的朋友哪一路安舵?”天地会的口号是“天父地母,反清复明”,但当遇上身分不明之人,先将这八个字颠倒来说,倘若是会中兄弟,便会出言相认,如是外人,对方不知所云,也不致泄漏了身分。庄外和屋顶上有十七八人齐声叫道:“地振高冈,一派溪山千古秀。”厅中群豪叫道:“门朝大海,三河合水万年流。”屋顶有人道:“哪一堂的兄弟在此?”钱老本道:“青木堂做兄弟的迎接众家哥哥。哪一堂的哥哥到了?”厅门开处,一人走了进来,叫道:“小宝,你在这里?”这人身材高瘦,神情飘逸,正是天地会总舵主陈近南。韦小宝大喜,抢上拜倒,连叫:“师父,师父。”
So far, so good, as far as the Triads were concerned. ‘But why did you have to kill this man?’ asked Brother Li, pointing to Beggar Wu’s severed head. The Prince told me he was a very bad man. He was working for the Emperor, and we had to get rid of him. The Prince gave me medicine for my cough. He gave me the tiger skin. My mum said I was to do it. She said that man was a traitor. He was a good fighter though. It took all three of us to kill him. Now let me loose. And let my mum and dad loose too. We’ve got to go to Peking now and kill the Emperor. It’s particularly important.’ ‘We should kill all three of them!’ cried Trinket. But at that very moment they heard voices crying outside. ‘Come out! We have come to avenge Brother Wu!’ The Brothers within were surprised and delighted. After exchanging a coded password, they ascertained that these men were also Triads. They identified their own Lodge, and were waiting for the new arrivals to identify themselves in like manner, when the door of the hall was thrown open and in strode the tall, dashing figure of the Helmsman, Chen Jinnan. Of Murder and Assassination ‘Shifu!’ Trinket rushed forward and fell to his knees.

陈近南道:“大家好!只可惜……”见到桌上吴六奇的首级,抢上前去,扶桌大恸,眼泪扑赖簌的直洒下来。厅门中陆续走进人来,广西家后堂香主马超兴、贵州赤火堂香主古至中等都在其内。众人一见归钟,纷纷拔刀。还有二十余人是广东洪顺堂属下,更是恨极。归钟眼见众人这般凶神恶煞的情状,只咳得两声,便晕了过去。
‘Greetings!’ replied Chen Jinnan. He was about to say more, when he saw the severed head on the table. He hurried over and stood there holding the edge of the table with both hands. Tears began to surge down his cheeks. His escort included Mao Chaoxing, Lodge Master of the Clan Lodge of Guangxi Province, and Gu Zhizhong, Lodge Master of the Red Fire Lodge of Guizhou Province, and several Brothers from the Obedience Lodge of Guangdong Province (to which Beggar Wu had been affiliated as Red Banner Master). When they saw Invalid Gui sitting there, their hands moved angrily to their sword’hilts. Invalid took one look at them, burst out in a coughing fit, and lost consciousness again.

陈近南转过身来,问道:“小宝,你们怎地擒得这三名恶贼?”韦小宝说了经过,但徐天川等如何为归钟戏耍、自己冒充吴之荣等等丑事,自然不提,最后道:“这三名恶贼武功厉害,我们是打不过的。幸好有一个婆婆姊姊帮手,才擒住了。可是这婆婆姊姊又说这老头儿是她师伯,不许我们杀他为吴大哥报仇。”陈近南皱眉道:“什么婆婆姊姊?”韦小宝道:“她年纪是婆婆,相貌是姊姊,因此我叫她婆婆姊姊。”陈近南道:“她人呢?”韦小宝道:“她躲在后面,不肯跟她师伯会面。师父、古大哥、马大哥,你们怎么都到了这里?”陈近南道:“这恶贼害了吴大哥,我们立传快讯,四面八方的追了下来。”青木堂众人与来人相见,原来山东、河南、湖北、湖南、安徽各堂的兄弟也有参与,大部分监守在庄外各处。古至中、马超兴都道:“韦兄弟又立此大功,吴大哥在天之灵,也必深感大德。”韦小宝道:“吴大哥待我再好不过,替他报仇,那是该当的。”李力世道:“启禀总舵主:这恶贼适才说道,他们要上北京去行刺鞑子皇帝,又说了些反清复明的言语,不知内情到底如何。”韦小宝道:“有什么内情?他怕我们杀他,就顺口胡说。他身上这件白老虎皮袍子,就是吴三桂送给他的。吴三桂的猪朋狗友,有什么好东西了?咱们把这三个恶贼开膛剜心,为吴大哥报仇就是。”陈近南道:“把这三人都弄醒了。好好问一问。”双儿去提了一桶冷水,又将归辛树夫妇和归钟一一淋醒。归二娘一醒,立即大骂,说道下毒迷人,实是江湖上卑鄙无耻的勾当。归辛树却一言不发。陈近南道:“瞧你们身手,并非平庸之辈。你们叫什么名字?跟我们吴六奇吴大哥有什么冤仇?干么下毒手害他性命?”归二娘怒道:“你们这等使闷香、下迷药的无耻小贼,也配来问老娘姓名?”古至中扬刀威吓,归二娘性子极刚,更加骂得厉害。韦小宝道:“师父,他们姓归,乌龟的龟,两只老乌龟,一只小乌龟。我先杀了小乌龟再说。”拔出匕首,指向归钟的咽喉。归二娘见韦小宝要杀她儿子,立时慌了,叫道:“小鬼,你有种的就来杀老娘好了,可不许碰我孩儿一根寒毛。”韦小宝道:“我偏偏只爱杀小乌龟。”将刀尖在归钟咽喉轻轻一戳。匕首极利,虽然一截甚轻,但归钟咽喉立时迸出鲜血。他大声叫道:“妈呀,他……他杀死我了。”归二娘大叫:“别……别杀我孩儿!”
They soon discovered that there were also in the newly arrived group Triad brethren from Lodges in the provinces of Shandong, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, and Anhui. Most of them were still outside mounting guard on the manor. Trinket proposed once more that they should execute the Gui Trio on the spot, but the Helmsman insisted on bringing them round first and questioning them thoroughly. Doublet obliged with another bucket of cold water, and brought round the old couple and their son for the second time.No sooner was she conscious than the old lady started complaining loudly about the ‘lowdown dirty trick’ that had been played on them-putting drugs in their tea. The old man said nothing for the time being. The Helmsman proceeded to grill them. At first the old lady refused to answer his questions. But Trinket held his dagger to Invalid’s throat (producing a little trickle of blood).’Mum’ Trinket wailed, and then started imitating to perfection one of Invalid’s coughing fits. ‘Mum! I’m going to die. Any minute now!’ (cough, cough) ‘I’m going to die of a bad case of the head’chop, mum.’ (cough, cough) ‘A bad dose of the throat’cut, mum.’ (cough, cough) ‘A terrible attack of minced meat, mum.’ (cough, cough) ‘It won’t be any fun at all!’ Trinket had always been a brilliant (and merciless) mimic, and this was one of his best performances. It sent a shiver down Old Lady Gui’s spine. ‘Stop doing that at once!’ she cried.

韦小宝道:“我师父问一句,你乖乖的答一句,那么半个时辰之内,暂且不杀你的痨病鬼儿子。”归二娘怒道:“我孩儿没生病,你才是痨病鬼。”但听韦小宝答应暂且不杀她儿子,略觉宽心。韦小宝假装连声咳嗽,学着归钟的语气,说道:“妈呀,我……我……咳咳……快要死了……好妈妈。你快快实说了罢……咳咳……咳咳……我没生痨病,我生的是钢刀断头病,咳咳,又是尖刀穿喉病,全身斩成肉酱病哪,咳咳……”他学得甚像,归二娘毛骨悚然,叫道:“别学,别学我孩儿说话!”韦小宝继续学样:“妈呀,你再不回答人家的话,我……我……咳咳,又得生肚子剖开病,肚肠流出病了哪……”说着拉起归钟的衣衫,将匕首尖在他瘦骨嶙嶙的胸膛上比划。归二娘再也忍耐不住,说道:“好!我们是华山派的,我们当家的神拳无敌归二侠,当年威震中原之时,你们这些小毛贼还没转世投胎啦。”陈近南听得这二人竟然便是大名鼎鼎的神拳无敌归辛树夫妇,不由得肃然起敬,又想吴六奇武功何等了得,据当时亲眼见到他被害情景的洪顺堂兄弟言道,只一个老妇和一个痨病鬼出手,便打倒了十几名洪顺堂好手,两人合攻吴六奇,将他击毙,割了他首级,对方自非冒名。神拳无敌归辛树成名已久,近数十年来不闻在江湖上走动,不知何以竟会牵入这件惨祸,中间必有重大缘由,当即上前向归辛树恭恭敬敬的抱拳行礼,说道:“原来是华山神拳无敌归二侠夫妇。小人陈近南,多有失礼。”伸手一扯,拉断了缚在归辛树身上的绳索,接着又在他背心和腰间推拿数下,解开他穴道,转身又拉断归二娘和归钟身上的绳索。
Trinket was relentless.’Mum!’ he continued. ‘You must tell them everything, or else-‘ (cough, cough)’-or else I’ll go down with split’open’the tummy syndrome.’ (cough, cough) ‘Or maybe guts’spilled’all’over’the’floor’itis.’As he did this he lifted up Invalid’s shirt, and poked his dagger into his skinny chest. The old lady could hold out no longer.’Very well! I’ll tell you who we are. We belong to the Mount Hua School. Before you were even born, my lord Sir Gui-Gui Xinshu-was renowned throughout the land as the Matchless Knight.’ When he heard these words, the Helmsman seemed deeply impressed. For years there had been no news of the famed Martial Arts adept Gui Xinshu. If this was truly he, there must be a lot to explain. He stepped forward and bowed respectfully to the old man. ‘So you are the Matchless Knight! Chen Jinnan presents his humble respects!’ He loosed Old Gui’s bonds, and opened his points, massaging him gently but firmly in the small of the back. Then he loosed the bonds of the other two.

韦小宝大急,又道:“师父,这三个人厉害得很,放他们不得。”陈近南微微一笑,说道:“归二娘骂我们下迷药,是江湖上下三滥的卑鄙行径。我们天地会并没下迷药,就算当真下了,归二侠内功深厚,下三滥的寻常蒙汗药,又如何迷得倒他老人家……”韦小宝道:“不错,不错,我们天地会没下蒙汗药。”心想这药是婆婆姊姊的,也是她自己换上的,不能算在我们天地会帐上,何况这药又不是蒙汗药。归辛树左手在妻子和儿子背心上一拂,已解开了二人穴道,手法比陈近南快得多了,点了点头,说道:“不是寻常蒙汗药,是极厉害的药物。”伸手去搭儿子脉搏。归二娘凝神瞧着丈夫脸色,问道:“怎样?”归辛树道:“眼前似乎没事。”想起自己晕倒之前,曾和人对了一掌,此人武功甚浅,但所习内功法门,显然是华山派的,又想起双儿在乱石冈中奔跑的身法,也是华山派轻功,一瞥之间,已在人丛中见到了她。双儿见到他精光闪闪的眼光,不由得害怕,缩在韦小宝身后。归辛树道:“小丫头,你过来,你是华山派的不是?”
The old man opened their points, a great deal more quickly and expertly (it must be said) than Chen had done his. He glanced at the crowd around him, and spotted the figure of Doublet. She was the one whose style of kungfu he had recognized earlier as belonging to his own lineage. Doublet’s eyes met his piercing gaze, and she shrank fearfully behind Trinket. ‘Come over here, young girl,’ said the old man. ‘Tell me, do you belong to the Mount Hua School?’

双儿道:“我不过来!你杀了我义兄吴大哥,我要为他报仇。我……我也不是什么华山派的。”何惕守当日对庄三少奶、双儿等传了些武功,并非正式收她们为徒,也没向她们说自己的门户派别,“华山派”三字,双儿今日还是首次听闻。归辛树也不去和这小姑娘一般见识,突然气涌丹田,朗声说道:“冯难敌的徒子徒孙,都给我出来。”这句话声音并不甚响,但气流激荡,屋顶灰尘簌簌而落。他想同门师兄弟三人、袁承志门下均在海外,大师兄黄真逝世已久,华山派门户由黄真的大弟子冯难敌执掌,庄中既有华山派门人,自必是冯难敌一系。那知隔了良久,内堂竟寂然无声。陈近南道:“年前天下英雄大会河间府,歃血为盟,决意齐心合力诛杀大汉奸吴三桂。令师侄冯难敌前辈,正是河间府杀龟大会的主人。何以归前辈反而跟吴三桂携手,杀害敝会义士吴六奇兄弟?这岂不为亲者所痛、仇者所快吗?”话是说得客气,辞锋却咄咄逼人。归二娘向他横了一眼,说道:“曾听人说:‘平生不识陈近南,就称英雄也枉然。’当尊驾尚未出世之时,我夫妇已然纵横天下。如此说来,定要等尊驾出世之后,我们才称得英雄。嘿嘿,可笑啊可笑。”陈近南道:“在下才具武功,都是不值归二侠贤夫妇一笑。江湖上朋友看得起在下,也不过是说在下明白是非,还不致胡作非为、结交匪人而已。”

归二娘怒道:“你讥刺我们胡作非为、结交匪人?”陈近南道:“吴三桂是大汉奸!”归二娘道:“这吴六奇为虎作伥,做鞑子的大官、欺压我汉人百姓。你们又怎么口口声声称他为大哥?这还不是胡作非为、结交匪人吗?”马超兴大声道:“吴大哥身在曹营心在汉,他是天地会洪顺堂的红旗香主,手握广东兵权,一朝机缘到来,便要起兵打鞑子。洪顺堂众位兄弟,你们说是也不是?”洪顺堂属下二十余人齐声说道:“正是!”马超兴道:“你们袒开胸膛,给这两位大英雄瞧瞧。”二十余人双手拉住衣襟,向外一分,各人胸前十余颗扣子登时迸开。露出胸膛,只见每人胸前都刺了“天父地母,反清复明”八个字,深入肌理。归钟一直默不作声,这时见二十余人胸口都刺了八个字,拍手笑道:“有趣,有趣!”天地会群雄一齐向他怒目而视。陈近南向归辛树道:“令郎觉得有趣,归二侠夫妇以为如何?”归辛树懊丧无比,摇了摇头,向归二娘道:“杀错人了。”
‘What Mount Hua School?’ cried Doublet nervously. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about! I just want to avenge the death of my sworn brother, General Wu!’ The truth about Doublet’s kungfu lineage was as follows’ when Lady Iron Hand had helped Widow Zhuang to escape, she had taught both her and her entourage (including her young maid Doublet) certain kungfu skills. She had never taken them on as true disciples, however, and had certainly never mentioned her own lineage, or her connection with the legendary Mount Hua Master, Yuan Chengzhi. So of course, the old man’s words meant nothing to Doublet. ‘If there are any of Old Master Shen’s disciples present,’ the old man called out, ‘let them come forward now!’ There was total silence. But the name Shen elicited an immediate response from the Helmsman. ‘Sir,’ he commented, respectfully, but pointedly. ‘Old Master Shen is indeed known to me. He is a great fighter, and a leading teacher of the Mount Hua School. What is more, he was chosen at the Hejianfu Congress as the President of our League for the Eradication of Traitors. And the principal goal of that League was Yet you, sir, a fighter of the same lineage as Old Master (缺) Brother-in-arms, apparently claim to be working for the Satrap, and take pride in the fact that you have killed one of our best and bravest warriors, General Wu Liuqi, known among his Triad Brothers as Beggar Wu. There is much here that I do not understand.’

归二娘道:“杀错人了!上了吴三桂这奸贼的当。”左手一伸,从马超兴腰间拔出单刀,往自己脖子中抹去。陈近南叫道:“使……”疾伸右手,抓住了她左腕。归二娘右掌拍出,陈近南出左掌相抵,两人身子都是一晃。陈近南左手两根手指伸过去挟住了刀背。归二娘右手又是一掌,拍向他胸口。陈近南倘若退避,那刀就夺不下来,只怕她又欲自尽,适才跟她对了一掌,知她年纪老迈,内力已不如己,但出手如电,拳掌功夫精绝,自己只要退得一步,空手再也夺不了她手中兵刃,当下硬挺胸膛,砰的一声,受了她一掌。归二娘一呆,陈近南左手双指已将她单刀夺过,退后两步,哇的一声,吐出一口鲜血。当归二娘横刀自尽之时,归辛树倘若出手,自能阻止,但他错杀了吴六奇,既惭且悔,已起了自尽以谢的念头,因此并不阻挡妻子,待见陈近南不惜以身犯险,才夺下归二娘手中钢刀,更是愧感交集。他拙于言辞,只道:“陈近南当世豪杰,名不虚传。”陈近南扶着桌子,调匀气息,半晌才道:“不知者不罪。害死吴大哥的罪魁祸首,乃是吴……吴三……”说着又吐了口鲜血。归二娘年纪虽老,昔年功力仍有大半,陈近南为了夺她兵刃,无法运气防护,这一掌挨得着实不轻。归二娘道:“陈总舵主,我如再要自尽,辜负了你一番盛情。我夫妇定当去杀了鞑子皇帝,再杀吴三桂这奸贼。”
Gradually, as the two men talked, it all became clear. The old Gui couple had been well and truly deceived by the Satrap, who had not only convinced them of the patriotic nature of his own uprising against the Manchus, but had also cast Beggar Wu in the light of a Manchu stooge, thereby justifying his assassination. When they learned of the terrible mistake they had made, that they had in fact put to death a hero, one of the key figures of the Resistance that they themselves held so dear, the old couple were so genuinely devastated that their first reaction was to attempt to take their own lives. It was only an extremely fast move on the part of the Helmsman that saved them. He himself sustained a serious injury in the process (a deadly chop from Old Lady Gui), and begancoughing up blood.The old lady fell to the ground before the severed head ofBeggar Wu.’Since we seem fated still to live, let this be our vow!’ shedeclared fiercely. ‘First we will assassinate the Manchu Emperor in his Palace in Peking, and then we will take the life of that vile monster, that lying traitor, Wu Sangui!’

说着跪倒在地,向吴六奇的首级拜了三拜。陈近南道:“吴六奇大哥行事十分隐秘,江湖上英雄多有唾骂他的为人,贤夫妇此番出手,用意原为诛杀汉奸,只可惜……只可惜……”说着忍不住掉下泪来。归辛树夫妇心中都是一般的念头,决意去刺杀康熙和吴三桂,然后自尽以谢吴六奇,但此刻也不必多说,同时向陈近南抱拳道:“陈总舵主,这便告辞。”陈近南道:“两位请留步,在下有一言禀告。”归氏夫妇携了儿子的手,正要出外,听了这话便停步转身。陈近南道:“吴三桂起兵云南,眼见天下大乱,正是恢复我汉家河山的良机。尚有不少英雄,日内都要聚集京师商议对策。大家志同道合,请两位前辈同去北京会商如何?”归辛树心中有愧,不愿与旁人相见,摇了摇头,又要迈步出外。韦小宝听他二人说要去行刺皇帝,心想这三个姓“龟”的家伙武功极高,小皇帝未曾防备,别要给他们害死,叫道:“这是天下大事。你们这位公子,做事很有点儿乱七八糟,这一次如果再坏了事,你们三位就算一古脑儿的自杀,也不免臭……臭气万年。”他听人说过“遗臭万年”的成语,一时说不上来,说成了“臭气万年”。成语虽然说错,归氏夫妇却也明白他意思。归辛树自知武功高强,见事却不如何明白,否则也不会只凭吴三桂的一面之辞,便铸下这等大错,听了韦小宝这句话,不禁心中一寒,寻思:“行刺皇帝,确是有关国家气运的大事。”韦小宝又道:“现下的皇帝年纪小。不大懂事,搞得吴三桂造反,一塌胡涂。你们如果杀了他,换上一个年纪大的厉害鞑子来做皇帝,咱们汉人的江山,就坏在你们手上了。”归辛树缓缓点头,回过身来。
The Helmsman himself, deeply moved at the tragic outcome of their misunderstanding, shed bitter tears for his departed friend. When his tears were dry, he reapplied himself to the important business of the day. He informed the Guis that he and his confederates were planning a large’scale gathering of all the various factions of the Resistance. The outbreak of Satrap Wu’s rebellion offered them a golden opportunity to advance their cause, and there was a need to discuss and concert strategy. He begged the two veteran warriors to attend the meeting. At first they declined, feeling too shamefaced at their recent terrible blunder. But Trinket managed to talk them round, arguing that now might not be the best moment to dispose of the Emperor anyway. In the present situation, if an older, and smarter, Manchu were to take his place, it would only make matters worse for them. Better to keep this young and inexperienced Emperor on the throne for the time being. (In reality,he was concerned that his friend Misty might not survive an attack by this deadly duo and their weird son.)

陈近南道:“两位前辈,这孩子年纪小,话说没上没下,冲撞莫怪。”说着拱手致歉,又道:“但他的顾虑似乎也可从长计议。如此大事,咱们谋定而后动如何?”归辛树心想一错不可再错,自己别因一时愧愤,以致成为万世罪人,便道:“好!谨听陈总舵主吩咐。”陈近南道:“吩咐两字,万万不敢当。明日上午,大伙儿同到北京,晚间便在这孩子的住处聚会,共商大事。两位以为怎样?”归辛树点点头。陈近南问韦小宝:“你搬了住所没有?”韦小宝道:“弟子仍在东城铜帽子胡同住。”陈近南道:“两位前辈,明晚在下在北京东城铜帽子胡同这孩子的子爵府恭候大驾。”韦小宝道:“师父,你别生气,现下叫作伯爵府。”陈近南道:“嘿,又升了官。”归二娘瞪眼瞧着韦小宝,问道:“你是吴三桂的侄子,也是身在曹营心在汉,要大义灭亲吗?”韦小宝笑道:“我不是吴三桂的侄子,吴三桂是我灰孙子。”陈近南斥道:“前辈跟前,不得无礼。快磕头谢罪。”韦小宝道:“是。”作势欲跪,却慢吞吞的延挨。归辛树一扬手,带了妻儿仆从,径自出门,明知外边并无宿处,却宁可挨饿野宿,实是无颜与天地会群豪相对。归钟自幼并无玩伴,见韦小宝言语伶俐,年纪又小,甚是好玩,向他招手,说道:“小娃娃,你跟我去,陪我玩儿。”韦小宝道:“你杀我朋友,我不跟你玩。”
The Helmsman announced that they would all be setting off for Peking the next morning, and would meet together that same evening in the safety of Trinket’s Residence, to discuss their tactics. He turned to Trinket. ‘Have you moved house again?’ ‘No,’ replied Trinket. ‘I’m still in Bronze Hat Lane.’ ‘Good. Very well then, sirs.’ The Helmsman addressed the Guis. ‘We shall meet tomorrow evening at Viscount Wei’s palace.’ ‘Excuse me, Shifu, but it’s Earl Wei now!’ ‘Indeed!’ replied Chen Jinnan. ‘My congratulations!’ The three Guis and their retainers made ready to go. As they were leaving, Invalid called out to Trinket’ ‘Hey, kid! Want to play with me?’ The poor man had never really had a playmate in his life, and despite everything, he thought Trinket was rather fun (to use his favourite expression). Trinket simply replied’ ‘You killed my friend. I’m not playing with you.’

突然间呼的一声响,人影一晃,归钟跃将过来,一把将韦小宝抓住,提到门口。这一下出手快极,陈近南适才受伤不轻,隔得又远,其余天地会群雄竟没一人来得及阻止。归钟哈哈大笑,叫道:“你再跟我去捉迷藏,咱们玩个痛快!”归辛树脸一沉,喝道:“孩儿,放下他。”归钟不敢违拗父言,只得放下了韦小宝,嘴巴却已扁了,便似要哭。归二娘安慰道:“孩儿,咱们去买两个书僮,陪你玩耍。”归钟道:“书僮不好玩,就是这小娃娃好玩,咱们买了他去。”归辛树见儿子出丑,拉住他手臂,快步出门。群雄面面相觑,均觉吴六奇一世英雄,如此胡里胡涂的死在一个白痴手里,实是太冤。韦小宝道:“师父,我去请婆婆姊姊出来,跟大家相见。”和双儿走到后堂,哪知何惕守早已离去。三少奶说道妇道人家,不便和群雄会见,只吩咐仆妇安排酒饭,款待宾客。
Invalid was not having this. In a flash he leapt on to Trinket, grabbed him, and whisked him off as far as the doorway. No one had quick enough reflexes to stop him, not even the Helmsman, who was still weakened from his recent encounter with Old Lady Gui. ‘Come on!’ cackled Invalid. ‘Let’s play another game of Tag!’ Tut him down, boy!’ said Old Gui sternly. Invalid obeyed his father’s order. But he looked as if he would burst into tears at any moment. His mother tried to comfort him’ ‘Don’t you worry, my boy. We’ll get you a couple of pageboys to play with when we get to Peking.’ ‘I don’t want page’boys!’ he wailed. They’re no fun! I like this kid! He’s fun! Get him for me instead!’ Old Gui dragged him off. When the Guis had gone, Trinket wanted to invite Lady Iron Hand to come in and meet everyone. But to his great disappointment, she had already left.

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