The Deer And The Cauldron 42

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The Deer And The Cauldron 42
第四十二回 九重城阙微茫外 一气风云吐纳间

次日韦小宝拜别了主人,和陈近南等分道赴京。陈近南道:“小宝,归二侠夫妇要去行刺皇帝,他们已答应大家商量之后,再作定论。你到北京之后,可不能通知皇帝,让他有了防备。”韦小宝本有此意,却给师父一语道破,忙道:“这个自然。他鞑子占了我们汉人江山,我在朝中做官,是奉了师父你老人家之命,怎能真的向着他?”陈近南道:“这就是了,你如言不由衷,做了对不起大伙的事,我第一个就饶不得你。”韦小宝道:“师父你放一百二十个心。”心道:“放一百一十九个心罢!我自己就有点不大放心。”带了双儿、徐天川等人,去和张勇、赵良栋等人相会,押了毛东珠,回到北京。他一回铜帽子胡同,立即便想去见康熙,寻思:“小皇帝是我的好朋友,怎能让他死在这三只乌龟手里?有了,我去宫里分派侍卫,大大戒备,严密守卫。我答应了师父,不跟皇帝说,大丈夫言而有信,不说就不说,可是仍能叫三只乌龟不能得手。”刚要出门,陈近南已带了古至中和马超兴到来。韦小宝暗暗叫苦,心道:“你们怎地来得这么快?”只得强打精神,设宴接待。不久天地会群雄分批陆续来到。跟着沐剑声带同铁背苍龙柳大洪、摇头狮子吴立身、圣手居士苏冈等一行人也来了。沐王府众人早在北京,得到讯息后齐来聚会。众人用毕酒饭,又等了良久,归家三人这才到来。韦小宝吩咐另开筵席,归二娘淡淡的道:“我们吃过饭了。”归钟东张西望,见府第中堂皇华贵,说道:“小娃娃,你家里的模样,跟平西王的五华宫倒也相差不远。你没说谎,吴三桂果然是你伯父。”
And so the following day, Trinket took his leave or(缺) and set off for the Capital with the Helmsman and the rest of his entourage. They presently met up with his deputy commander, Zhang Yong, who had the Fake’Empress Dowager in custody.As soon as they arrived at Bronze Hat Lane, Trinket’s first thought was for Kang Xi’s safety. He could not bear the thought of his old friend Misty being assassinated by these weird fanatics, the Gui Trio, however much he owed it to his Shifu the Helmsman to be loyal to the Triad cause. He could not very well openly warn the Manchu Emperor of this new threat to his person. But perhaps he could have a word with one or two of his own friends among the Palace Guards, and persuade them to tighten security.He was just about to set off for the Palace, when the Helmsman appeared, with the other Lodge Masters, and he was obliged to stay at home and entertain them. Soon they were joined by other Triad brethren, and by the Young Count, Mu ]iansheng, and the principal retainers of the Mu Family’ Liu Dahong, the Iron Dragon, and his brother’in’arms, Wu Lishen, the Shaker Lion; and Su Gang, the Magic Hand. They had already been in Peking for some time. It was a while after dinner before the Gui Trio arrived. Trinket offered to feed them, but was informed that they had already eaten. Invalid looked around him with an appreciative gaze.’Hey kid, this place is almost as grand as one of the Prince’s palaces! You must be his nephew after all!’

韦小宝道:“对,吴三桂是你的……”说到这“的”字,突然住口,心想这一句顺口便宜讨过去,师父必定生气,当即改口:“三位既已用过饭了,请到东厅喝茶。”众人来到东厅,献上清茶点心,韦小宝遣出仆役。陈近南又派了十余名会众出去,在厅周及屋顶把守,这才关门上闩,商议大事。陈近南替归氏夫妇和沐王府众人引见,却不提吴六奇之事。归氏夫妇虽退隐已久,柳大洪、吴立身等还是好生仰慕,对之十分恭敬。归二娘单刀直入,说道:“吴三桂起兵后攻入湖南、四川,兵势甚锐,势如破竹。吴三桂当年虽然投降鞑子,断送了大明天下,实是罪大恶极,但他毕竟是咱们汉人。依我们归二爷之见,我们要进皇宫去刺杀鞑子皇帝,好让鞑子群龙无首,乱成一团。众位高见如何?”沐剑声道:“鞑子皇帝固然该杀,但这么一来,岂不是帮了吴三桂这奸贼一个大忙?”

归二娘道:“吴三佳当年害死沐王爷,沐公子自然放他不过。可是满汉之分,那是头等大事。咱们先杀尽了鞑子,慢慢再来收拾吴三桂不迟。”柳大洪道:“吴三桂倘若起兵得胜,他自己便做皇帝,再要动他,便不容易了。依晚辈之见,咱们先让鞑子跟吴三桂自相残杀,拚个你死我活。咱们再来渔翁得利。因此晚辈以为眼前不宜去行刺鞑子皇帝。”他虽满颏白须,但归氏夫妇成名已久,他自称晚辈:沐王府跟吴三桂深仇似海,定要先见他覆灭,这才快意。归二娘道:“吴三桂打的是兴明讨虏旗号,要辅佐朱三太子登基。这里有一张吴三桂起兵的檄文,大家请看。”从身边取了一大张纸出来,摊在桌上。

陈近南便即诵读:“原镇守山海关总兵、今奉旨总统天下水陆大元帅、兴明讨虏大将军吴,檄天下文武官吏军民人等知悉:本镇深叨大明世爵,统镇山海关……”陈近南知道群豪大都不通文墨,读几句,解说几句,解明第一段后,接着又读下去,下面说李自成如何攻破北京,崇祯归天,他为了报君父之仇,不得已向满清借兵破贼,其后说道:“幸而渠魁授首,方欲择立嗣君,继承大统,封藩割地,以酬满酋。不意狡虎虏逆天背盟,乘我内虚,雄据燕京。窃我先朝神器,变我中国冠裳:方知拒进狼之非,莫挽抱薪救火之误。”归二娘道:“他后来就知道向满洲借兵是错了,可惜已来不及啦。”柳大洪哼了一声,道:“这奸贼说得好听,全是假话。”归二娘道:“陈总舵主,请你读下去。”陈近南道:“是!”接续读道:“本镇刺心呕血,追悔靡及,将却返戈北返,扫荡腥膻,适遇先皇之三太子。太子年甫三岁,刺股为记,寄命托孤,宗社是赖。姑饮血隐忍,养晦待时,选将练兵,密图兴复,迄于今日,盖三十年矣!”
They adjourned to the eastern wing of Trinket’s palace, to drink tea and begin the more serious part of their discussion. The servants were dismissed, and the Helmsman posted Trinket’s guards outside and up on the rooftop. Then they bolted the door fast, and got down to business. The Helmsman made the necessary formal introductions, and the old veterans Shaker Wu and Iron Dragon Liu expressed their deep respect for the old Gui parents, of whom they were lifetime admirers. No mention was made of the unfortunate killing of Beggar Wu.As soon as the discussion got under way, a basic difference of opinion became apparent. The Guis considered the assassination of the Manchu Emperor to be the number one priority. Satrap Wu could be dealt with afterwards. The Mu Family, on the other hand, insisted that the Satrap should be dealt with first. Killing the Emperor would in fact (according to their view) be tantamount to giving the Satrap a helping hand. Old Gui produced one of the Satrap’s proclamations, in which he made claims to be restoring the Chinese Throne to the Han (that is, Chinese) people. Wu Sangui had also produced as his figurehead a three’year-old boy purporting to be the new Ming Pretender. This received short shrift from the Mu Family.

柳大洪听到这里再也忍耐不住,拍案道:“放屁!放屁!这狼心狗肺、天地不容的奸贼,倘若他真有半分兴复大明之心,当年为甚么杀害永历皇帝、永历太子?此事天下皆知,又如何抵赖得?”群雄见了柳大洪须眉戟张的情状,无不心佩他的忠义,均想吴三桂十二年前在昆明市上绞杀永历皇帝父子,决计无可狡辩。归二娘道:“柳大哥这话不错,吴三桂决非忠臣义士,这是连三岁孩童也知道的。咱们要去行刺鞑子皇帝,是为了反清复明,绝不是帮吴三桂做皇帝。”陈近南道:“我把这檄文读完了,大家从长计议。”读道:“兹者,虏酋无道,奸邪高张,道义之儒,悉处下僚;斗筲之辈,咸居显职……”读到这句,向韦小宝笑了笑,说道:“小宝,这句话是说你了。”韦小宝听着师父诵读文章,只觉抑扬顿挫,倒也好听,忽听说吴三桂的文章中提到自己,不禁又惊又喜,忙问:“师父,他说我甚么?这家伙定是不说我的好话。”陈近南道:“他说有学问道德的好人,只做芝麻绿豆小官,毫无本事的家伙,却都做了大官。这不是说你吗?”韦小宝道:“他自己呢?他的官比我做得还大,岂不虽比我更不中用?”众人都笑了起来,说道:“不错!鞑子朝廷中的官职,可没比平西亲王更大的。”檄文最后一段是:“山惨水愁,妇号子泣;以致彗星流陨,天怒于上:山崩土裂,地怨于下。本镇仰观俯察,是诚伐暴救民、顺天应人之日。爱卜甲寅之年正月元旦,恭奉太子,祭告天地,敬登大宝。建元周咨。”陈近南读完后,解说了一遍。众人之中,除了陈近南和沐剑声二人,都没读过什么书,均觉这道檄文似乎说得头头是道,却总有些什么不对,可也说不上来。

沐剑声沉吟片刻,说道:“陈总舵主,他既奉朱三太子敬登大宝,为什么不恢复大明国号,却要改国号为周?这中间实是个大大的破绽。何况朱三太子什么的,也不知是真是假,谁也没听说过,忽然之间,没头没脑的钻了出来。多半吴三桂去找了个不懂事的孩子出来,说是朱三太子,号召人心,其实是把他当作傀儡。”众人都点头称是。归二娘道:“吴三桂把朱三太子当作傀儡,自然绝无可疑。这人是真是假,也没多大分别。不过朱三太子不是小孩子,先皇殉国已三十年,如果朱三太子是真,至少也有三十几岁了。”韦小宝道:“三十几岁的不懂事小娃娃,也是有的,嘻嘻。”说着向归钟瞧了一眼。群雄中有几人忍不住笑了出来。归二娘双眉一竖,便要发作,但转念一想,韦小宝的话倒也不假,自己的宝贝儿子活了三十几岁,果然仍是个不懂事的小娃娃,不禁轻轻叹了口气。众人商议良久,有的主张假手康熙,先除了吴三桂,再图复国:有的以为吴三桂虽然奸恶,终究是汉人,应当助他赶走鞑子,恢复了汉人江山,再去除他。议论纷纷,难有定论。说到后来,众人都望着陈近南,人人知他足智多谋,必有高见。陈近南道:“咱们以天下为重。倘若此刻杀了康熙,吴三桂声势固然大振,但是台湾郑王爷也可渡海西征,进兵闽浙,直攻江苏。如此东西夹击,鞑子非垮不可。那时吴三桂倘若自己想做皇帝,郑王爷的兵力,再加上沐王府、天地会和各路英雄,也可制得住他。”
‘In the first place’ protested Iron Dragon Liu indignantly, ‘if he wants us to believe he is restoring the Ming, why does he plan to call the new dynasty Zhou’ It’s obviously all a lie. He wants the Throne for himself. We all know that! This three’year-old princeling, if he really exists, is just a puppet! The whole thing is outrageous!’ They looked to the Helmsman to provide some wisdom and resolve their differences. Chen Jinnan advocated a course of action not very different from that proposed by the Guis’ to kill the Emperor first, and to deal with the Satrap later. He also pointed out that they could count on the support of the Zheng Family and their forces in Taiwan. (These were the descendants of Coxinga, to whom the Helmsman had vowed undying loyalty, and whom the Triads still considered to be the core of the Resistance.) In the aftermath of the Emperor’s assassination, the Zhengs could invade the central coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, and together with the Triads and the Mu Family, they could get the upper hand over the Satrap.

苏冈冷冷的道:“陈总舵主这话,是不是有些为台湾郑王爷打算呢?”陈近南凛然道:“郑王爷忠义之名,著于天下,苏兄难道信不过吗?”苏冈道:“陈总舵主忠勇侠义,人人钦服。可是郑王爷身边,奸诈卑鄙的小人可也着实不少。”韦小宝忍不住说道:“这话倒也不错。好比那‘一剑无血’冯锡范,还有郑王爷的小儿子郑克塽,都不是好人。”陈近南听他并不附和自己,微感诧异,但想他的话也非虚假,不禁叹了口气。归二娘道:“赶走鞑子,那是一等一的大事,至于谁来做皇帝,咱们可管不着,反清是一来要反的,复不复明,不妨慢慢商量。大明的崇祯皇帝,就不是什么好东西。”陈近南和沐王府群雄向来忠于朱明,一听所言,都是脸上变色。沐剑声道:“咱们如不拥朱氏子孙复位,难道还拥吴三桂这大奸贼不成?”归钟突然说道:“吴三桂这人很好啊,他送了我一张白老虎皮做袍子,你们可瞧见过没有?”说着翻开皮袍下襟,露出白虎皮来,大是洋洋得意。归二娘道:“小孩子家,别在这里胡说八道。”
Magic Hand Su Gang was not that impressed. ‘You speak highly of the Zheng Family, Helmsman; and none of us questions your own loyalty to the cause, or that of Prince Zheng himself. But among the lesser ranks of the Zheng Family, there are some highly unreliable individuals!’ ‘Yes!’ piped up Trinket. That Young Sir Zheng, for example, and his teacher Feng Xifan, the Bloodless Sword, are a couple of rogues for a start!’ The Helmsman noted with some surprise that his young disciple had some somewhat heretical views on the Taiwan situation. Suddenly Invalid Gui saw fit to say something. ‘Wu Sangui’s all right. He gave me his tiger skin. Look!’ And he proceeded to open his gown and exhibit his pride and joy. His mother called out’ ‘Not here, child! What will you think of next!’

苏冈冷笑道:“在归少爷眼中,一件皮袍子可比咱们汉人的江山更加要紧了。”归二娘怒道:“孩子,把皮袍子脱下来!”归钟愕然道:“干什么?”归辛树一伸手,从儿子腰间拔出长剑,白光闪动,嗤嗤声响,归辛树手中长剑的剑尖在儿子身前、身后、肩头、手臂不住掠过。众人大吃一惊,都从椅中跳起身来,只道归辛树已将儿子杀死,却见归钟所穿的那件皮袍已裂成十七八块,落在身周,露出一身丝棉短袄裤。归辛树这数剑出手准极,割裂皮袍,却没割破丝棉袄裤。
But it was too late. Su Gang was not going to allow this little exhibition of Satrap’worship to go without comment.’So, I suppose your pretty little fur-lining is more important than our country^’Take it off!’ cried the mother, sensing serious trouble. ‘Why?’ wailed her son.What happened next left everyone gasping. Old Gui, without any warning, reached out and took hold of his son’s sword. Then in a breathtakingly swift series of moves he began slicing at his son-front, back, shoulders, and arms. Everyone thought the boy was as good as dead. But such was the precision of the old man’s swordsmanship that his son was untouched, while the priceless tiger’skin’lined gown now lay on the floor in seventeen or eighteen neatly sliced pieces. Invalid Gui stood there in nothing but his silkfloss’padded under’jacket and trousers.

群雄待得看清楚时,尽皆喝采。归钟吓得呆了,连声咳嗽,险些哭了出来,说道:“爹,咳咳……咳咳……爹……咳,我……”归辛树一挥手,长剑入鞘,跟着解下自己身上棉袍,披在儿子身上,说道:“穿上了!”归二娘拾起地下白虎皮碎块,投入烧得正旺的火炉中,登时火光大盛,一阵焦臭,白虎皮渐渐烧成灰烬。韦小宝连称:“可惜,可惜。”归辛树道:“走罢!”牵了儿子的手,向厅门走去。陈近南道:“归二侠去干谋大事,我们谨依驱策。”归辛树道:“不敢当!不用了!”说着走向厅门。韦小宝知他立时便要动手,已来不及去告知皇帝,心想须得使个缓兵之计,阻他一阻,大声道:“皇宫里的屋子没一万间,也有五千间,你可知鞑子皇帝住在哪里?”归辛树一怔,觉得此言甚是有理,回头问道:“你知道吗?”
When all assembled were able to see what had happened, they burst out in a spontaneous round of applause-all except for Invalid Gui himself, who was so terrified he started coughing violently and nearly burst into tears.His father removed his own padded gown and threw it round his son’s shoulders. The old lady picked up the pieces of tiger skin and tossed them into the brazier.’What a shame!’ muttered Trinket.Old Gui took his son by the hand and led him out of the room, calling to the old lady”Come! Let us be about our own business!’ Trinket’s heart sank. They were on their way to murder Kang Xi. He still had not had a chance to forewarn his friend. He racked his brains for some form of delaying tactic.’Wait a minute!’ he called out. ‘How will you know where to find the Emperor’ There are thousands of rooms in the Palace. Do you know which one to look in?’ Old Gui paused for a moment. ‘Do you?’

韦小宝摇头道:“没人知道。鞑子皇帝怕人行刺,每晚换地方睡。有时睡在长春宫,有时睡在景阳宫,有时又在咸福宫、延禧宫睡,说不定又睡在丽景轩、雨花阁、毓庆宫。”他一口气说了七八个宫阁的名字,归辛树只听得皱起了眉头。韦小宝又道:“就算是皇帝贴身的太监、侍卫,也不知他今晚睡在什么地方。”归辛树道:“那么怎样才能找到皇帝?”韦小宝道:“皇帝上朝,文武百官就见到了。待他一进大内,只有他来找你,旁人就永远找他不到。”其实情形并非如此,康熙也不经常掉换寝处,但归辛树夫妇是草莽布衣,怎知皇宫内院的规矩?听了韦小宝一番胡诌,心想皇帝严防刺客,原该如此,不禁大为踌躇。韦小宝见归辛树脸有难色,心中得意,问道:“归老爷子,你可知皇帝有多少妃子?”归辛树哼的一声,瞪目不语。韦小宝道:“说书人说皇帝有三宫六院,后宫美女……美丽三千人。鞑子皇帝的老婆没这么多,三千个倒也没有,八九百个是有的。他夜夜做新郎,今天在第三百五十一个妃子那里睡,明天到第六百三十四个妃子那里睡。就算是皇帝的妃子,也不知皇帝今晚宿在那里,等上三年、四年,也不知皇帝来是不来。”陈近南道:“小宝,你在宫里日久,必定知道找到皇帝的法子。”
Trinket shook his head.’Nobody does. The Emperor changes rooms every night, for that very reason, so any would’be assassin won’t know where to find him. Sometimes he sleeps in the Palace of Eternal Spring, sometimes he’s in the Palace of the Southern View, or the Palace of Complete Happiness, or the Palace of Prolonged Happiness, or thePorch of Beautiful View, or the Rain Flower Pavilion, or the Palace for Congratulations.’ As Trinket rattled them off, Old Gui frowned. Trinket continued’ ‘Even his personal eunuchs and guards wouldn’t know where to find him.’ Of course Trinket had made this all up (though the names of the Palaces were all authentic). But the Guis were not to know. ‘Another thing,’ added Trinket. ‘Have you any idea how many wives and concubines the Emperor’s got?’ Old Gui humphed and glowered at him. Trinket was not discouraged. ‘Well, let’s not exaggerate like the storytellers do. Let’s tell the plain truth. He’s probably got eight or nine hundred. Every night’s a wedding night for him. He just keeps on doing the rounds. Tonight he may be with Number 351, tomorrow it’s 634. None of the lucky ladies knows where he’s going to sleep on any given evening. Sometimes they have to wait three or four years before they get to see him in bed!’ ‘You must know the Palace well by now’ put in the Helmsman. ‘You must know how to find him, surely?’

韦小宝道:“白天还容易找,晚上就说什么也找不到了。”陈近南道:“那么明日白天咱们都乔装改扮,由你带领,混进宫去行事。这位钱兄弟和吴二哥,你不是带进宫里去过吗?”说着向钱老本和吴立身二人一指。韦小宝道:“钱大哥只到过御厨房。吴二哥他们一进皇宫,就给卫士……给卫士们发觉了,要见皇帝的面,可还差着十万八千里呢。钱大哥、吴二哥,你们两位说是不是?”钱吴二人都点点头。他二人进过皇宫,都知要在宫里找到皇帝的所在,确似大海捞针一般。韦小宝道:“弟子倒有个法子。”陈近南问道:“什么法子?”韦小宝道:“弟子明日去见皇帝,他必定要说吴三桂造反,如何派兵去打,弟子撺掇他出来瞧试演大炮。只要他一出宫门,下手就容易多了,行刺成功也罢,不成功也罢,咱们脚底抹油,溜之大吉,也少了许多凶险。”归二娘冷笑道:“皇帝就这么听你这小娃娃的话?他三年不出宫来,咱们难道就等他三年?你推三阻四,总之是不肯带领去干事就是了。”沐剑声道:“进宫去行刺皇帝的事,兄弟也是干过的。说来惭愧,我们沐王府死了好几位兄弟。舍妹和一位方师妹,还有这位吴师叔以及两个师弟,都失陷在宫里,几遭不测,幸蒙韦香主仗义相救,那才脱险。不是我们胆小怕死,这件事可当真不易成功。”归二娘冷冷的瞧着韦小宝,说道:“凭你就能救得他们脱险?”
‘Not at night’time,’ replied Trinket. ‘In the daytime, yes.’ ‘Well then, we’ll do it tomorrow, in broad daylight! We’ll go in disguise. You’ll help us get in. I know Butcher Qian and Shaker Wu have been in before.’ ‘Brother Qian has been as far as the kitchen,’ Trinket corrected him. ‘And as for Shaker Wu, when he got into the Palace, he was discovered by the guards and didn’t get anywhere near the Emperor. Isn’t that right?’ Qian and Wu nodded. They knew only too well how hard it was to find the Emperor in the labyrinthine maze of the Forbidden City. ‘I know what,’ said Trinket. ‘I’ve thought of a plan. Tomorrow I’ll go and see the Emperor myself. I know he’ll want to talk about the Satrap’s rebellion. What I’ll do is, I’ll persuade him to go out for one of his cannon inspections. You can get him then! Once he’s out of the Palace, he’s a much less difficult target. And it will be much easier for us to get away if anything happens to go wrong.’ ‘I see,’ retorted Old Gui sarcastically. ‘So we’re supposed to believe that the Emperor will do whatever you tell him to do! That’s no plan! You’re just inventing excuses because you’re too scared to come in with us! You’re a coward!’ The Young Count stood up for Trinket and told Old Gui the story of how Trinket had once saved the lives of several Mu Family men on their own failed attempt to assassinate the Emperor.

吴立身忙道:“这位韦香主年纪虽小,可是仁义过人,机智聪明,兄弟的性命,全仗他相救。”归二娘道:“沐王府办不成的,未必姓归的也一定办不成。”柳大洪霍地站起身来,说道:“归氏夫妇神拳无敌,当然胜过我们小小沐王府百倍。这就请启驾动身,我们在这里静候好音。”天地会洪顺堂的一名兄弟说道:“韦香主,你还是一起进宫去的好,等到归家三位大侠给鞑子的卫士拿住了,你好设法相救啊。”他恼恨归家三人杀了吴六奇,虽在总舵主之前,也忍不住要出言讥刺几句。韦小宝心中暗骂:“你们三只乌龟,进宫去给拿住了,杀了我头也不会来救。”笑道:“归家三位大侠怎会给卫士拿住?皇宫里卫士有八千多名,归少爷只须咳嗽几声,就把这八千多名卫士一古脑儿都震死了。”天地会和沐王府群豪中有不少人都笑了出来。归钟笑道:“真有这等事?那可有趣得很啊。他们怕听我的咳……咳咳吗?咳咳……咳咳……”归氏夫妇大怒,一人执着儿子的一条臂膀,三人并肩向外。陈近南道:“归二侠,请息怒。兄弟倒有个计较。”归二娘素知陈近南足智多谋,转身候他说下去。陈近南道:“归二侠贤夫妇武艺高强,当世无敌。但深入险地,毕竟是敌众我寡。咱们还是商议一个万全之策为是……”归二娘道:“我道是陈总舵主当真有什么高见,哼!”转过身来,走向厅门。

柳大洪和吴立身突然快步抢过,拦在门口。柳大洪道:“二位要相助吴三桂,我们沐王府万万不允。”归二娘道:“怎么?要动手么?”柳大洪道:“二位尽可先杀我师兄弟,再出此门,去帮吴三桂的忙。”归二娘道:“谁说我们是帮吴三桂的忙?”柳大洪道:“二位虽无相助吴贼之意,但此事若成,吴贼声势大盛,再也制他不了。”归辛树低声道:“让开!”踏上一步。柳大洪张开双手,拦在门前。归辛树左手前探,便去抓他胸口。柳大洪伸手挡格,拍的一声,双掌相交,柳大洪身子晃了两下,一张脸登时变得惨白。归辛树道:“我只使了五成力道。”吴立身摇头道:“你不妨使十成力道,把我师兄弟都毙了。”归钟道:“十成就十成。”两手一缩一伸。吴立身伸臂相格。归钟两手又是一缩,吴立身便格了个空。归钟乘他双臂正要缩回之际,双手快如电闪,已拿住了他胸口要穴。陈近南抢上前去,劝道:“大家都是好朋友,不可动武。”
‘Yes,’ confirmed Shaker Wu, ‘I owe my life to Lodge Master Wei.’ ‘I see!’ returned Old Gui. ‘And just because you lot failed, that means that we will too!’ ‘Oh, I don’t think our Gui friends have anything to fear,’ said Trinket, ‘even from the eight thousand Palace Guards they will face. They have a Secret Weapon, after all. They have their Master of Coughing Kungfu! One or two coughs from him and the guards will simply die of fright, every one of them!’ Invalid Gui laughed out loud. ‘Really! What fun! You mean if I just do this-‘ He started coughing. His mother was furious. She and the old man each took one of their son’s arms, and began to walk out. ‘Sir Gui!’ called the Helmsman. ‘Just one moment! I have a plan!’ Shaker Wu and Iron Dragon Liu leapt forward to block the way, still considering the Guis to be following an inadvisable course of action that would merely favour the Satrap. But despite their considerable prowess in the Martial Arts, they were no match for Old Gui and his son, who soon had them at their mercy. It was the Helmsman who intervened. ‘Come-we are all friends here, and united in one cause! Let us not resort to physical force!’

Trinket the Calligrapher

韦小宝道:“大家争个不休,终究不是了局。这样罢,咱们掷一把骰子,碰一碰运气,倘若归老爷子赢呢,我们非但不阻三位进宫,晚辈还将宫里情形,详细说与两位知道。”归二娘道:“如果是你赢呢?”韦小宝道:“那么这件事就搁上一搁。等吴三桂死了之后,咱们再向皇帝下手。”归二娘心想:“倘若自己人先干了起来,沐家多半会去向鞑子报讯,这件事终究难办,不如听他的。”问丈夫道:“二爷,你说呢?”归辛树向韦小宝道:“你输了可不能赖。”韦小宝笑道:“男子汉大丈夫,一言既出,死马难追。鞑子小皇帝又不是我老子,我干么要回护他?只不过赢要赢得英雄,输要输得光棍。不论谁赢谁输,都不会伤了和气。”陈近南觉得他最后这句话颇为有理,说道:“此事牵涉重大,到底于我光复大业是祸是福,实难逆料。古人占卦决疑,我们来掷一把骰子,也是一般意思。大家不用争执,就凭天意行事罢。”归二娘道:“孩儿,放开了手。”归钟道:“我不放。”归二娘道:“这位小兄弟要跟你掷骰子玩儿呢。”归钟大喜,立即松手,放开吴立身胸口的穴道。吴立身胸口酸痛难当,内息不畅,不住摇头。韦小宝道:“归少爷,请你将骰子拿出来,用你们的。”归钟道:“骰子?我没有啊,你有没有?”韦小宝道:“我也没有,哪一位身上带有骰子?”众人都缓缓摇了摇头,均想:“又不是烂赌鬼,哪有随身带骰子的?”归二娘道:“没有骰子,咱们来猜铜钱好了。”韦小宝道:“还是掷骰子公平。货真价实,童叟无欺。我是童,归二爷是叟,可见非掷骰子不可。亲兵之中总有人有的。我去问问。”说着拔闩开门出厅。他出了东厅,走进大厅,便从袋中摸出六粒骰子来,这是他随身携带的法宝,但若当场从怀中取出,归氏夫妇定有疑心,在大厅上坐了片刻,回到东厅,笑道:“骰子找到了。”
In the end it was Trinket, not the Helmsman, who hit upon a way of resolving their dilemma. It was a characteristically Trinket’style resolution of the problem’ he challenged the Guis to roll the dice with him. If the Guis won, they could proceed with their assassination plan; if they lost, they would have to go along with the will of those who were in favour of uniting against the Satrap first. Somehow everyone agreed that this method would reveal the Will of Heaven, and that come what may they should all abide by the outcome. Invalid Gui simply thought that throwing the dice sounded like great fun. The immediate problem was that nobody present had any dice (or was prepared to say so, at least). Trinket was obliged to make a great show of going outside to ‘borrow some dice from one of the guards’. In point of fact, he had his ‘old buddies’ in his pocket all along, but did not wish to increase the Guis’ suspicions by saying so.

归二娘道:“怎么赌输赢?”韦小宝道:“掷骰子的玩意,我半点也不懂。归少爷,你说怎么赌法?”归钟拿起两粒骰子,道:“我跟你比准头。”手指弹处,嗤嗤两声,两粒骰子飞起,打灭两枝蜡烛,跟着噗噗两声,两粒骰子嵌入板壁。群雄齐赞:“好功夫!”韦小宝道:“我见人家掷骰子,是比点子大小,可不是比暗器功夫。”归二娘道:“是了!你们两个各掷一把,谁掷出的点子大,谁就赢了。”韦小宝心想:“只一把,说不定他运气真好,一下子掷了个三十六点。”说道:“这样罢,咱们各掷三把,三赢两胜。”归钟是掷的次数越多,越是高兴。说道:“咱们每人掷三百次,胜了两百次的算赢。”归二娘道:“那有这么麻烦的,各掷三把够了。”徐天川将嵌入板壁的两粒骰子挖了出来,放在桌上。韦小宝道:“归少爷,你先掷。”归钟拿起骰子,笑嘻嘻的正要掷下,归二娘道:“且慢!”转头问柳大洪、沐剑声:“这场赌赛如是我们胜了,沐王府算不算数?”柳大洪适才和归辛树对了一掌,胸口气血翻涌,此刻兀自尚未平,心想对方还说只使了五成力,此人是前辈英雄,自无虚言,他真要去皇宫行刺,单凭沐王府又怎阻他得住?便点了点头。沐剑声道:“天意如何,全凭两位掷骰决定便了。”归二娘道:“好!”向归钟道:“掷罢!掷的点子越大越好。”归钟细看六粒骰子,说道:“最多的是六点,最少的是两点,还有一个大凹洞儿。”归二娘道:“大凹洞儿是一点。”归钟道:“古里古怪,四点却又是红的。”右掌一挥,拍的一声响,六粒骰子都嵌入桌面,向上的尽是六点。原来他在掌中将骰子放好了,六粒骰子都是一点向下,这一掷下来,自然都是六点向上了。众人又是吃惊,又是好笑。这痨病鬼看来弱不禁风,内力竟如此深厚,可是天下掷骰子哪有这么掷法的?归二娘道:“孩儿,不是这样的。”伸掌在桌上一拍,六粒骰子都跳了起来。众人齐声喝采。归二娘拿起骰子,随手一滚,说道:“滚出几点,便是几点,可不能凭自己意思。”

归钟道:“原来这样。”学着母亲的模样,拿起骰子,轻轻掷在桌上,骰子滚动,定下来时共是二十点。六粒骰子掷成二十点,赢面略高。韦小宝拿起骰子,小指拨了几拨,暗使花样,叫道:“通吃!”一把掷了出去,五粒骰子滚出了十七点,最后一粒不住滚动,依着他作弊的手法,这粒骰子非滚成六点不可,二十三点,便赢了第一把。那知这骰子滚将过去突然陷入了桌面的一个小孔,那正是归钟适才用骰子掷出来的。那骰子微微一颤,不能再滚,向天的却是一点,十八点便输了。韦小宝道:“桌面上有洞,这不算。”拿起骰子,却待再掷。陈近南摇头道:“这是天意,输了第一把。”韦小宝心想:“还有两把,我非赢了你不可。”将骰子交给归钟。归钟赢了第一把,得意非凡,轻轻一掷,却只有九点。沐家众人见这一把是输定了,不禁欢呼起来。韦小宝走到方桌的另一角,远离桌面的六个小洞,一把掷去,竟是四粒六点,两粒五点,三十四点,任何两粒骰子也都赢了。胜得无惊无险。双方各胜一把,这第三把便决最后输赢。归钟一把掷下,六骰转动良久,转出了三十一点,赢面已是甚高。沐家众人均脸有忧色,心想要赢这三十一点,当真要极大运气才成。韦小宝却并不担心,心道:“我还是照适才的法子,掷成三十四点赢你便了。”小指在掌心暗拨,安好了骰子的位置,轻轻滚了出去。

但见六粒骰子在桌上逐一转定,六点、五点、五点、六点,四粒转定了的都是大点,已有二十二点。第五粒又转了个六点出来,一共二十八点。最后一粒骰子不住的溜溜转动。若是三点,双方和局,须得再掷一次,一点或两点是输了,四五六点便赢。赢面占了六成。韦小宝心想:“就算是三点和局,再掷一次,你未必能再有这么好运气。”这粒骰子转个不休,眼见要定在六点上,他大叫一声:“好!”忽然骰子翻了个身,又转了过去。他大吃一惊,叫道:“有鬼了!”一瞥眼间,只见归辛树正对着骰子微微吹气,便在此时,那骰子停住不转,大凹洞儿仰面朝天,乃是一点。众人齐声大叫。韦小宝又是吃惊,又是气恼,掷骰子作弊的人见过无数,吹气转骰子之人却是第一次遇上,以前也从未听见过。这老翁内功高强之极,聚气成线,不但将这粒骰子从六点吹成一点,只怕适才归钟掷成三十一点也非全靠运气,是他老子在旁吹气相助。他胀红了脸,大声道:“归老爷子,你……你……呼,呼,呼!”说着撮唇吹气。归辛树道:“二十九点,你输了!”伸手拿起那第六粒骰子。夹在拇指和中指间一捏,喀的一声,骰子碎裂,流出少些水银,散上桌面,登时化为千百粒细圆珠,四下滚动。归钟拍手道:“好玩,好玩!这是什么东西?又像是水,又像是银子。”
It was Trinket to throw versus Invalid Gui. Invalid began by flicking the dice, all six of them, so hard (he couldn’t help it) that they literally embedded themselves in the surface of the table, creating six little holes. His mother gently explained to him that ‘throwing’ dice actually meant ‘rolling’ them softly across the table. They agreed to decide the outcome according to the best of three throws. The first two went one each way, Trinket’s initial defeat having been caused by his dice hitting one of the Invalid’s potholes. The third roll looked sure to go Trinket’s way, and the Mu Family (who were still dead against the Gui assassination plan, but did not dare confront them again after their recent debacle) were already breathing a sigh of relief. But then at the last minute, when Trinket had already thrown five dice, and the sixth was about to settle on the desired (and, needless to say, predetermined) number, suddenly it stopped dead in its tracks, wobbled, and turned in a different direction, to land on a single ‘one’, thereby giving the victory to Invalid Gui. Trinket glanced around him, just in time to detect a suspicious movement from Old Gui. The old man had undoubtedly been blowing, in such a way as to influence the direction of the dice. Trinket was about to leap up and denounce him for cheating, when the old man took hold of the six dice in one hand and effortlessly crushed them. The mercury with which they were ‘loaded’ came oozing out and little beads of it ran onto the table, like so many little silver pearls. ‘Oh look!’ cried Invalid Gui. ‘How pretty! Drops of silver water!’

韦小宝见他拆穿了骰子中灌水银的弊端,也不能再跟他辩论吹气的事了,假作惊异,说道:“原来骰子里放有水银。老爷子,你可教了晚辈一个乖。骰子是牛骨做的,我今日才知水银是从牛骨头里生出来的,从前还道是银子加水调成的呢。黄牛会耕田,又会造水银,了不起,了不起!”归二娘不去理会他胡说八道,说道:“大伙儿再没话说了罢?韦兄弟,皇宫里的情形,请你详细说来。”韦小宝眼望师父。陈近南点点头道:“天意如此,你老老实实的向二位前辈说罢。”他明知这徒弟甚是狡狯,待别加上“老老实实”四字。韦小宝心念一转,已有了主意,说道:“既然输了,赌帐自然是不能赖的。大丈夫偷抢拐骗,都没什么,赌帐却不可不还。皇宫里的屋子太多,说也说不明白。我去画张图出来。徐三哥、钱大哥,请你们陪客人,我去画图。”向众人拱拱手,转身出厅,走进书房。

这伯爵府是康亲王所赠,书房中图书满壁,桌几间笔砚列陈,韦小宝怕赌钱坏了运气,书输二字同音,这“输房”平日是半步也不踏进来的。这时间来到案前坐下,喝一声:“磨墨!”早有亲随上来侍候。伯爵大人从不执笔写字,那亲随心中纳罕,脸上钦佩,当下抖擞精神,在一方王羲之当年所用的蟠龙紫石古砚中加上清水,取过一锭褚遂良用剩的唐朝松烟香墨,安腕运指,屏息凝气,磨了一砚浓墨,再从笔筒中取出一枝赵孟?定造的湖州银镶斑竹极品羊毫笔,铺开了一张宋徽宗敕制的金花玉版笺,点起了一炉卫夫人写字时所焚的龙脑温麝香,恭候伯爵大人挥毫。这架子摆将出来,有分教:钟王欧褚颜柳赵,皆惭不及韦小宝。
Trinket had been outwitted. He had no choice but to concede defeat. He was now obliged (according to the terms agreed upon) to provide the Guis with a detailed map, and with an explanation of how to find their way around the Palace. He went ahead to his study, to prepare the paper, ink, and brush for the purpose. It was an extraordinary sight, Trinket the Calligrapher seated in his study. His page’boy carefully ground the priceless ink’stick on the equally priceless ink’stone, laid out the exquisite sheet of calligraphic rice paper, loaded the brush with the thick, sooty mixture, and handed it to his Master.

韦小宝掌成虎爪之形,指运擒拿之力,一把抓起笔杆,饱饱的蘸上了墨,忽地拍的一声轻响,一大滴墨汁从笔尖上掉将下来,落在纸上,登时将一张金花玉版笺玷污了。那亲随心想:“原来伯爵大人不是写字,是要学梁楷泼墨作画。”却见他在墨点左侧一笔直下,画了一条弯弯曲曲的树干,又在树干左侧轻轻一点,既似北宗李思训的斧劈皴,又似南宗王摩洁的披麻皴,实集南北二宗之所长。这亲随常在书房伺候,肚子里倒也有几两墨水,正赞叹间,忽听伯爵大人言道:“我这个‘小’字,写得好不好?”那亲随吓了一跳,这才知伯爵大人写了个“小”字,忙连声赞好,说道:“大人的书法,笔顺自右至左,别创一格,天纵奇才。”韦小宝道:“你去传张提督进来。”那亲随答应了出去,寻思:“不知伯爵大人下面写一个什么字。”可是他便猜上一万次,却也决计猜不中。原来韦小宝在“小”字之下,画了个圆圈。在圆圈之下,画了一条既似硬柴,又似扁担的一横,再画一条蚯蚓,穿过扁担。这蚯蚓穿扁担,乃是一个“子”字。三个字串起来,是康熙的名字“小玄子”。“玄”字不会写,画个圆圈代替。想当日他在清凉寺中为僧,康熙曾画图传旨,韦小宝欣慕德化,恭效圣行,今日事势紧急,便画图上奏。写了小玄子的名字后,再画一剑,剑尖直刺入圆圈。这一把刀不似刀,剑不像剑之物,只画得他满头是汗,刚刚画好,张勇已到。韦小宝折好金花玉版笺,套入封套,密密封好,交给张勇,低声道:“张提督,这道要紧奏章,你立刻送进宫去呈给皇上。你只须说是我的密奏,侍卫太监便会立刻给你通报。”
Trinket’s hand was poised above the paper. Poised for the masterstroke. Slowly a drop of ink gathered at the tip of his brush. Then it fell-plop!-onto the page. Next to this blob, a little to its left, he drew a straight (well, almost straight) line with a little hook at the bottom. And, still further to the left, he ‘plopped’ another litde blob. The three ‘strokes’ constituted one of the very few words in his repertoire, which is to say, one of the very few words he could actually write at all. It meant ‘little’, xiao, and it formed the first of the three Chinese characters that made up the nickname of his Imperial friend’ Misty (Xiao’xuan’zi’ Little Mysterious One). Then he drew an approximation of the rest. For the middle character (which was much too complicated) he simply substituted a circle. The third character he could just about manage. Then he added a roughly drawn sword, aimed at the very heart of the ‘name’. It was a message in Trinket’code for his friend in the Palace. Someone is coming, Misty, someone with a sword, someone who wants to kill you!He quickly folded the sheet of paper, and placed it inside an envelope.Then he sent for his trusted deputy, Colonel Zhang Yong.’I want you to take this at once to His Majesty! Tell him that it is from me personally, and that it is very, very urgent.’

张勇答应了,双手接过,正要放入怀内,听得书房外两名亲兵齐声喝问:“什么人?”房门砰的一声推开,闯进三个人来,正是归氏夫妇和归钟。归二娘一眼见到张勇手中奏章,夹手抢过,厉声问韦小宝:“你去向鞑子皇帝告密?”韦小宝惊得呆了,只道:“不……不是……不是……”归二娘撕开封套,抽出纸笺,见了笺上的古怪图形,愕然道:“你看!”交给归辛树,问韦小宝道:“这是什么?”韦小宝道:“我吩咐他去厨房,去做……做……做那个汤团,请客人们吃,要小团子不要大团子,团子上要刻花。他……他弄不明白,我就画给他看。”归辛树和归二娘都点了点头,神色顿和,这纸笺上所画的,果然是用刀在小团子上刻花,绝非向皇帝告密。韦小宝向张勇挥手道:“快去,快去!”张勇转身出书房。韦小宝道:“要多多的预备,多派人手,赶着办!大家马上要吃,这可是性命交关的事,片刻也耽搁不得。”张勇又在门口答应了一声。归二娘道:“点心的事,不用忙。韦兄弟,你画的皇宫地图呢?”
He was in the act of handing this secret message to Zhang, when in came the Gui Trio. Old Gui’s suspicions were immediately aroused. He snatched the envelope from Zhang and examined its contents.’What’s going on here’ Looks very fishy to me. Trying to warn the Palace, were you?’Trinket laughed nervously.’Fishy’ Oh no, not at all actually-but it is for the kitchen. We’ve been having such trouble with the cooks lately. I ordered some special dumplings for this evening, and I wanted to remind them how to make them properly, you know, with the “little” slit on the top-like so!’And with his right hand he made a convincing gesture, pointing with the other hand to the coded ‘picture’ on the page.Trinket’s calligraphy was so unorthodox and clumsy that the message could indeed have lent itself to this new explanation. Old Gui gave one of his characteristic humphs. ‘Anyway’ said his lady, ‘it’s time you kept your side of the bargain and told us all about the Palace.’

韦小宝取过一气玉版笺,铺在桌上,将笔交向归二娘,说道:“我画来画去画不好,我来说,请你来画。”归二娘接过笔,坐了下来,道:“好,你说罢。”韦小宝心想这也不必相瞒,于是从午门说起,向北到金水桥。折而向西,过弘义阁,经太和、中和、保和三大殿,经隆宗门到御膳房,这是韦小宝出身之所;由此向东,经乾清门至乾清宫、交泰殿、坤宁宫、御花园、钦安殿:从御膳房向北是南库、养心殿、永寿宫、翊坤宫、体和殿、储秀宫、丽景轩、漱芳斋、重华宫。由此向南是咸福宫、长春宫、体元殿、太极殿;向西是雨花阁、保华殿、寿安宫、英华殿:再向南是西三所、寿康宫、慈宁宫、慈宁花园、武英殿:出武英门过桥向东,过熙和门,又回到午门,这是紫禁城的西半部。归氏夫妇听他说了半天,还只皇宫的西半部,宫殿阁楼已记不胜记,不由得倒抽了一口凉气。归二娘挨次将宫殿和门户的名称记下。韦小宝又把东半部各处宫殿门户说了,亏得他记心甚好,平日在皇宫到处游玩,极是熟悉。归二娘写了良久,才将皇宫内九堂四十八处的方位写完。她搁下笔嘘了口气,微笑道:“难为韦兄弟记得这般明白,可多谢你了。”她听韦小宝将每处宫殿门户的名称方位说来,如数家珍,绝无窒滞,料想是实,他要捏造杜撰,也没这等本事。韦小宝笑道:“这是归少爷掷骰子赢了的采头,你们不用谢我。”又道:“皇帝的御前侍卫,平时大都在东华门旁的銮舆卫一带侍候,不过眼下跟吴三桂打仗,鞑子皇帝一定严加戒备,想来禁城四十八处之中,到处有侍卫守御了。”心想:“我先安上一句,免得小玄子接到我密奏后加派卫士,这三只乌龟疑心我通风报信。”归二娘道:“这个自然。”韦小宝道:“宫里侍卫虽多,也没什么大高手,就一味人多。满洲人射箭的本事倒是很厉害的。不过三位当然也不放在心上。”归二娘道:“多承指教。咱们就此别过。”韦小宝道:“三位吃了团子去,才有力气办事。”走到门边,大声道:“来人哪,送点心来。”门外侍仆高声答应。归二娘道:“不用了。”携着儿子的手,和归辛树并肩出了书房。夫妇二人均想:“你在这刻花团子之中,多半又做了什么手脚。团子又何必刻花?上了一次当,可不能上第二次。”他三人在韦小宝府中,自始至终,连清茶也没喝上半口。
This Trinket proceeded to do, blinding them with another (but much longer) series of names of buildings and compounds as he took them on a ‘guided tour’ of the Forbidden City. After all, he couldn’t see how it could really do any harm. He started with the Meridian Gate, directly behind the Gate of Heavenly Peace, then led them over the five’fold Bridge of Golden Water, and on through the three Great Halls-of Supreme Harmony, Middle Harmony, and Harmony Protected-then through the Gate of the Imperial Ancestors, and on to the Imperial Kitchens (in his former identity as Laurel Goong’goong he had been attached to these kitchens); then through the Palace of Heavenly Purity, and into the women’s apartments, the Palace of Female Repose and the Palace of Maternal Tranquillity; thence into the Imperial Gardens, and northwards to , the Hall of Nurturing the Mind; and on, and on. Lady Gui did her utmost to commit all of this to memory. ‘Come on!’ called Old Gui. ‘Let us be on our way!’

韦小宝送到门口,拱手而别,说道:“晚辈眼望捷报至,耳听好消息。”归辛树伸手在大门口的石狮子头上一掌,登时石屑纷飞,嘿嘿冷笑,扬长而去。韦小宝呆了半晌,心想:“这一掌倘若打在老子头上,滋味可大大的差劲。他是向我警告,不可坏他们大事,否则就是这么一掌。”伸手也是在狮子头上一掌,“啊”的一声,跳了起来,手掌心好不疼痛。石狮头顶本来甚是光滑,但给归辛树适才一掌拍崩了不少石片,已变得尖角嶙嶙。韦小宝提起手来,在灯笼下一看,幸好没刺出血。他回到东厅,只见陈近南等正在饮酒。他告知师父,已将紫禁城中详情说与归氏夫妇知道,刚才送了三人出去。陈近南点了点头,叹道:“归氏夫妇就算能刺杀鞑子皇帝,只怕也回不来了。”群雄默默饮酒,各想心事,偶尔有人说上一两句,也没旁人接口。过了大半个时辰,门外有人说道:“启禀爵爷,张提督有事求见。”
Trinket saw them out of his study, and noticed Colonel Zhang setting off from the main gate. Old Gui’s parting gesture was to give one of the stone lions standing beside the terrace steps a little tap on the head. Splinters of shattered marble fell to the ground. Serious Consequences of a Light Poke Trinket returned to his friends in the eastern hall of the palace. They were still drinking and in a thoughtful mood. He informed the Helmsman that he had briefed the Gui Trio on the layout of the Palace, and that they had already left on their mission. The Helmsman nodded and heaved a sigh. ‘If they do manage to reach the Manchu Emperor and kill him, I fear that will be the last we will ever see of them.’ They sat around a while longer, drinking in sombre silence. An hour or so later, there was an urgent message for Trinket. Colonel Zhang wanted to see him.

韦小宝心中一喜,说道:“深更半夜的,有什么要紧事了。你就说我已经睡了,有事明天再说。”那人应道:“是。”陈近南低声道:“或许是皇宫里有消息,你去问问。”韦小宝答应了,来到大厅,只见赵良栋、王进宝、孙思克三人站在大厅上,神色间甚是惊惶,却不见张勇。韦小宝一怔,低声问道:“张提督呢?”王进贤道:“启禀大人,张提督出了事,晕倒在府门外,已抬在那边厢房里。”韦小宝大吃一惊,问道:“怎……怎么晕倒了?”抢进厢房,只见张勇双目紧闭,脸色惨白,胸口起伏不已。韦小宝叫道:“张提督,你怎么了?”张勇缓缓睁眼,道:“卑……卑……”双眼一翻,又晕了过去。韦小宝忙伸手到他怀中,摸了自己那道奏章出来,抽出纸笺,果是自己“落笔如云烟”的书画双绝,不由得暗暗叫苦。孙思克道:“刚才巡夜的兵丁前来禀报,府门外数百步的路边,有名军官晕倒在地,有人过去一瞧,认出是张提督,这才抬回来。张提督后脑撞出的血都已结了冰,看来晕倒已有不少时候。”韦小宝寻思:“他晕倒已久,奏章又未送出,定是一出府门便遭了毒手,难道这三只乌龟派人在府门外埋伏,怕我遣人向皇帝告密,因此向张提督下手?”心下焦急万分。
Trinket went out, to find not Zhang, but his three other colonels, Zhao Liangdong, Wang Jinbao, and Sun Sike. They looked grim. Zhang himself was laid out in a side’room, deathly pale, his eyes closed. When Trinket spoke to him, he opened his eyes a slit and promptly lost consciousness again. Trinket felt in Zhang’s breast pocket. His ‘coded’ message was still there, undelivered.Zhang had been found not a hundred paces from the gate of Trinket’s palace. It seemed that he had been set upon by some thug. He was most probably lured by the Guis, Trinket speculated silently. They already had their suspicions, and wanted to ensure that Kang Xi was not forewarned.Zhang came round.’I have . . . failed you . . .’ he gasped hoarsely.’Just take it easy,’ replied Trinket. He entrusted the message to the other three officers, with instructions to deliver it without fail to the Emperor in person.

这时张勇又悠悠醒转。王进宝忙提过酒壶,让他喝了几口烧酒,孙思克和赵良栋分别用烧酒在他两只手掌上摩擦。张勇精神稍振,说道:“卑职该死,走出府门……还没……几百步,突然间胸口……胸口痛如刀割,再……再挨得几步,眼前登时黑了,没……没能办大人交代的事,卑职立刻……立刻便去……”说着支撑着便要起身。韦小宝忙道:“张大哥请躺着休息。这件事请他们三位去办也是一样。”将奏章交给王进宝,命他和赵良栋、孙思克三人带同侍卫,赶去皇宫呈递,心下焦急:“归家三人已去了大半个时辰,只怕小玄子已性命不保,咱们只好死马当活马医。”王进宝等三人奉命而去。张勇道:“大人书房里那老头……那老头的武功好不厉害,我走出书房之时,他在我背上……背上……咳咳……轻轻推了一把,当时也不觉得怎样,那知道已受内伤,一出府门,立刻……立刻发作……误了大人的大事……”韦小宝这才恍然,原来归辛树虽见这道奏章并非告密,还是起了疑心,暗使重手,叫张勇办不了事,见他神色惭愧,忙道:“张大哥,你安心静养,这半点也怪不得你。他妈的,这老乌龟向你暗算,咱们不能算完。”又安慰了几句,吩咐亲随快煎参汤,唤医生来诊治。他回到东厅,说道:“不是宫里的消息。张提督给归二爷打得重伤,只怕性命难保。”众人都是一惊,忙问:“怎么打伤了张提督?”韦小宝摇头道:“张提督在府外巡查,见到他们三人出府,上前查问,归二爷就是一掌。”众人点头,均想:“一个寻常武官,怎挨得起神拳无敌的一根小指头儿?”韦小宝好生后悔:“倘若早知张提督遭了毒手,奏章不能先送到小玄子手里,那么宫内的情形,就决不能说得这等清楚,该当东南西北来个大抖乱才是。老子给他移山倒海,将皇极殿搬到寿安宫,重华宫搬去文华殿,让三只乌龟在皇宫里团团乱转,爬个晕头转向。”众人枯坐等候,耳听得的笃的笃镗镗镗镗,厅外打了四更。又过一会,远处胡同中忽然群犬大吠,众人手按刀柄,站起身来,侧耳倾听,群犬吠了一会,又渐渐静了下来。
When Zhang himself had recovered sufficiently to tell the tale, the full truth emerged. As he was leaving the building, Old Gui had caught up with him and dealt him a light poke in the back (even as he recalled it, Zhang groaned with pain). At the time it seemed nothing. But he had hardly walked out into the street, when the excruciating pain began. It was one of those deadly internal blows, not unlike the Old Whore’s Soft Crush karate.Trinket comforted Zhang and told a guard to bring him some hot ginseng broth. At the same time, he sent for a doctor to come and see to his wounds.Trinket returned to his friends, and reported that Colonel Zhang had run into the Guis (he said nothing of the message he was carrying), and had been seriously hurt by Old Gui. Secretly he brooded over the failure of this important mission.’Now I wish I’d never told them so much about the Palace! I should have deliberately mixed everything up, to confuse them!’

过得良久,一片寂静之中,隐隐听得鸡鸣,接着鸡啼声四下里响起,窗格子上隐隐现出白色。韦小宝道:“天亮啦,我去宫里打听打听。”陈近南道:“归家夫妇父子倘若不幸失手,你务须想法子搭救。吴六奇大哥的事出于误会,须怪他们不得。要知道大义为重,私交为轻。他们对我们的侮慢,也不能放在心上。”韦小宝道:“师父吩咐,弟子理会得。只不过……只不过他们倘若已杀了小皇帝,弟子就算拚了小命,也救他们不出了。”想到小皇帝这当儿多半被归家三人刺死,不禁心中一阵难过,登时掉下泪来,哽咽道:“只可惜吴大哥……”乘机便哭出声来。沐剑声道:“归氏夫妇此去不论成败,今日北京城中,定有大乱,兄弟在外面有不少朋友,须得赶着出去安排,要大家分散了躲避,待过了这风头再说。”
The night passed in anxious anticipation. Finally, when first light dawned, Trinket announced that he himself was leaving for the Palace. The Helmsman gave him a short parting lecture, urging him to do everything in his power for the Guis, if by any chance they should fail and fall into Manchu hands. The killing of Beggar Wu, he emphasized, was the result of a misunderstanding.’The Gui Trio’s rude ways must not blind us to the fact that they are our allies. Despite everything they are fighting for the same cause as we are.’ ‘Yes, Shifu,’ answered Trinket. ‘But what if they have succeeded’ What if the Emperor is already dead’ There won’t be anything I can do to save them then.’ He was not particularly concerned for the Guis. He was thinking about the mortal danger his friend Kang Xi was in, and that in all probability he had already been assassinated. Tears came to his eyes. ‘Poor Brother Wu!’ he sobbed, quickly providing a Triad cover for his emotions. The Young Count pointed out that whatever the outcome of the Gui assassination attempt, things were going to be very dangerous in Peking for a while. He must warn his own friends to lie low, or else to escape from the Capital altogether.

陈近南道:“正是。敝会兄弟散在城内各处的也很不少,大家分头去通知,所有相识的江湖上朋友,人人都得小心些,可别遭了祸殃。今晚酉正初刻,咱们仍在此处聚会,商议今后行止。”众人都答应了。当下先派四名天地会兄弟出去察看,待得回报附近并无异状,这才防续离府。韦小宝将要出门,恰好孙思克回来,禀称奏章已递交宫门侍卫,那侍卫的统带一听说是副总管韦大人的密奏,接了过来,立即飞奔进去呈递。他三人在宫门外等候,直到五鼓,那统带还是没出来。现下王进宝、赵良栋二人仍在宫门外候讯,因怕韦大人挂念,他先回来禀告。韦小宝道:“好,你照料着张提督。”忧心忡忡,命亲兵押了假太后毛东珠,坐在一乘小轿之中,进宫见驾。
The Helmsman agreed. ‘We must do likewise. All Triad Brothers disperse to safe locations. And pass the word around. Be cautious, and don’t provoke the enemy into retaliating. Any sort of showdown could be disastrous. This evening, meet again here to discuss further plans.’ As Trinket walked out of his main gate, he ran straight into Colonel Sun, who reported the successful delivery of the message to one of the Emperor’s personal guards. The other two colonels were still in the Palace, awaiting a reply. ‘Very good,’ said Trinket. ‘You go in, and stay with Colonel Zhang.’ With a heavy heart, Trinket gave the order for his guards to bring the Fake-Empress Dowager, and set off in a sedan chair for the Palace.

Kang Xi confronts the Old Whore

来到宫门,只见四下里悄无声息,十多名宫门侍卫上前请安,都笑嘻嘻的道:“副总管辛苦,这扬州地方,可好玩得紧哪。”韦小宝心中略宽,寻思:“宫里若是出了大乱子,他们定没心情来跟我说扬州什么的。”微笑着点了点头,问道:“这些日子,大伙儿都没事罢?”一名侍卫道:“托副总管的福,上下平安,只是吴三桂老小子造反,可把皇上忙得很了,三更半夜也常常传了大臣进宫议事。”韦小宝心中又是一宽。另一名侍卫笑道:“总管大人一回京,帮着皇上处理大事,皇上就可清闲些了。”韦小宝笑道:“你们不用拍马屁。我从扬州带回来的东西,好兄弟们个个有份,谁也短不了。”众侍卫大喜,一齐请安道谢。韦小宝指着小轿道:“那是太后和皇上吩咐要捉拿的钦犯,你们瞧一瞧。”随从打开轿帘,让宫门侍卫搜检。众侍卫循例伸手入轿,查过并无凶器等违禁物事,笑道:“副总管大人这次功劳不小,咱们又好讨升官酒喝了。”韦小宝进得宫来,一问乾清门内班宿卫,得知皇上在养心殿召见大臣议事,从昨儿晚上议到此刻,还未退朝。韦小宝一听大喜,心想:“原来皇上忙了一晚没睡,召见大臣之时,自然四下里戒备得好不严紧。养心殿四下里千百盏灯笼点得明晃晃地,归家那三只乌龟又怎近得了皇上?倘若小玄子早早上床睡了觉,乌灯黑火,只怕昨晚已经糟了糕啦。可见他做皇帝,果然洪福齐天。幸好吴三桂这老小子打仗得胜,皇上才心中着急,连夜议事。”
On his arrival at the main gate of the Forbidden City, Trinket observed that all seemed quiet. He was cordially greeted by the Palace Guards, who wanted to know if he had had a pleasant stay in Yangzhou. Trinket nodded. So far so good. This was a good sign, at least. One of the guards then went on to say that the Emperor had been up most of the night, locked in consultation with his chief ministers, discussing the Imperial response to Satrap Wu’s advances. Trinket told the guards that the sedan chair following his own contained an important prisoner, the disgraced former Empress Dowager. They searched the sedan for any concealed weapons. On reaching the Gate of Heavenly Purity, Trinket was informed that the Emperor was still holding an audience in the Hall of Nurturing the Mind. The audience had lasted all night. Trinket was hugely relieved. It was undoubtedly the safest place for him to have spent the night.’Phew! Thank goodness the Satrap is doing so well! Thanks to that, Misty had to hold this emergency audience-and it has certainly saved his life, with those Gui turtles lurking around the place.’For some time now Trinket had been referring to the Guis in his own mind as ‘those Gui turtles’-the play on the word gui, which also meant ‘turtle’, pleased him. For all the Helmsman’s Resistance pep talk, he didn’t like the deadly Trio one bit.

当下来到养心殿外,静静的站着伺候。他虽得康熙宠幸,但皇帝在和王公大臣商议军国大事,却也不敢擅自进去。等了大半个时辰,内班宿卫开了殿门,只见康亲王杰书、明珠、索额图等一个个出来。众大臣见到韦小宝,都是微笑着拱拱手,谁也不敢说话。太监通报进去,康熙即刻传见。韦小宝上殿磕头,站起身来,见康熙坐在御座之中,精神焕发。韦小宝一阵喜欢,说道:“皇上,奴才见到你,可……可真高兴得很了。”他担了一晚的心事,眼见康熙无恙,忍不住眼泪夺眶而出。康熙笑问:“好端端的哭什么了?”韦小宝道:“奴才是喜欢得哭了。”
He waited discreetly outside the Hall where the audience was still progressing. An hour or so later, he saw the ministers trooping solemnly out. They included his old Manchu friends Prince Kang (Giyesu) and Songgotu, who pumped hands happily when they caught sight of Trinket, but refrained from entering into conversation. A senior eunuch summoned him urgently into the Emperor’s presence.Entering the Great Hall, Trinket fell to his knees and performed an elaborate kowtow. Then he rose to his feet again, and saw Kang Xi seated on his Dragon Throne, looking in fine fettle.’Majesty!’ exclaimed Trinket, a feeling of genuine happiness momentarily overwhelming him. He had been truly concerned for his friend’s safety. ‘I am so glad to see you!’His eyes were glistening.’Come, come! Why the tears?”I’m just so happy!’

康熙见他真情流露,笑道:“很好,很好!吴三桂这老小子果真反了。他打了几个胜仗只道我见他怕了,不敢杀他儿子。他妈的,老子昨天已砍了吴应熊的脑袋。”韦小宝吃了一惊,“啊”的一声,道:“皇上已杀了吴应熊?”康熙道:“可不是吗?众大臣都劝我不可杀吴应熊,说什么倘若王师不利,还可跟吴三桂讲和,许他不削藩,永镇云南。又说什么一杀了吴应熊,吴三桂心无顾忌,更加凶狠了。呸!这些胆小鬼。”韦小宝道:“皇上英断。奴才看戏文《群英会》,周瑜和鲁肃对孙权说道,我们做臣子好投降曹操,主公却投降不得。咱们今日也是一般,他们王公大臣及跟吴三桂讲和,皇上却万万不能讲和。”康熙大喜,在桌上一拍,走下座来,说道:“小桂子,你如早来得一天,将这番道理跟众大臣分说分说,他们便不敢劝我讲和了。哼,他们投降了吴三桂,一样的做尚书将军,又吃什么亏了?”心想韦小宝虽然不学无术,却不似众大臣存了私心,只为自身打算,拉着他手,走到一张大桌之前。桌上放着一张大地图。
‘I’m touched!’ replied the Emperor. ‘Well, that old Satrap turtle has gone and done it! He’s rebelled against me! And so far, he’s doing a little too well for my liking. A little too well for comfort. He thinks he can scare me. Well, I’ve got a few surprises up my sleeve. Tamardy! Yesterday, I had that no’good son of his put to death!’Trinket let out a gasp of amazement. So the Little Traitor was dead!’You’ve killed him?”That’s right! They all told me not to. All the old men. They said I should keep him alive. If the war went badly for us, I could always use him as a bargaining piece. They said killing him would only make things worse for us, it would make the Satrap mad. Lily’livered bunch they are!”I’m sure you were right, Majesty,’ declared Trinket. ‘You had to be decisive and brave.’ ‘There you are! I knew you’d see it my way! If only you’d been here yesterday to talk to those old fogeys! All they care about is hanging on to their jobs. They’d just as soon work for the Satrap, if he was prepared to keep them on!’ Kang Xi descended from the throne, took Trinket by the hand, and led him over to the table, on which was spread a large map.

康熙指着地图,说道:“我已派人率领精兵,一路由荆州赴常德把守,一路由武昌赴岳州把守,派了顺承郡王勒尔锦做宁南靖寇大将军,统率诸将进剿。刚才我又派了刑部尚书莫洛做经略,驻守西安。吴三桂就算得了云贵四川,攻进湖南,咱们也不怕他。”韦小宝道:“皇上,你也派奴才一个差使,带兵去干吴三桂这老小子!”康熙笑了笑,摇头道:“行军打仗的事,可不是闹着玩的。你就在宫里陪着我好了。再说,这次派出去的,都是满洲将官满洲兵,只怕他们不服你调度。”韦小宝道:“是。”心想:“吴三桂要天下汉人起来打鞑子。我是假满洲人,皇上自然信不过我。”康熙猜到了他心意,说道:“你对我忠心耿耿,我不是信不过你。小桂子,吴三桂的兵马厉害得很,没三年五载,甚至是七八年,是平不了他的。头上这几年,咱们非打败仗不可。这一场大战,咱们是先苦后甜,先败后胜。你爱打败仗呢,还是打胜仗?”韦小宝道:“自然是爱打胜仗。抛盔甩甲,落荒而逃,味道不好!”康熙笑道:“你对我忠心,我也不能让你吃亏。头上这三年五载的败仗,且让别人去打。直累得吴逆精疲力尽、大局已定的时候,我再派你去打云南,亲手将这老小子抓来。你可知我的讨逆诏书中答允了什么?”

韦小宝大喜,说道:“皇上恩德,真是天高地厚。”康熙笑道:“我布告天下,答允了的,哪一个抓到吴三桂的,吴三桂是什么官,就封他做什么官。小桂子,这可得瞧你的造化了。他妈的,你这副德性,可像不像平西亲王哪?哈哈,哈哈!”侧过头端相他片刻,笑道:“现今是猴儿崽子似的,半点儿也不像,过得六七年,你二十来岁了,那时封个王爷,只怕就有点谱了,哈哈。”韦小宝笑道:“平西亲王什么的大官,奴才恐怕没这个福份。不过皇上如派我做个大将军,带兵到云南去抓吴三桂,大将军八面威风,奴才手执丈八蛇矛,大喝一声:‘吴三桂,来将通名!’可真挺美不过了。谢天谢地,吴三桂别死得太早,奴才要亲手揪他到这里来,跪在这里向皇上磕头。”康熙笑道:“很好,很好!”随即正色道:“小桂子,咱们头上这几年的仗,那是难打得很的。打败仗不要紧,却要虽败不乱。必须是大将之才,方能虽败不乱,支撑得住。你是福将,可不是勇将、名将,更加不是大将。唉,可惜朝廷里却没什么大将。”韦小宝道:“皇上自己就是大将了。皇上已认定咱们头几年一来要输的,那么就算败,也一定不会乱。好比赌牌九,皇上做庄,头上赔他七副八副通庄,一点也不在乎。咱们本钱厚,泰山石敢当,沉得住气,输了钱,只当是借给他的。到得后来,咱们和牌对、人牌对、地牌对、天牌对、至尊宝,一副副好牌杀将出去,通吃通杀,只杀得吴三桂这老小子人仰马翻,输得干干净净,两手空空,袋底朝天,翻出牌来,副副都是别十。”康熙哈哈大笑,心想:“朝廷里没大将,我自己就是大将,这句话倒也不错。‘虽败不乱,沉得住气’这八个字,除了我自己,朝廷里没一个将帅大臣做得到。”从御案上取过韦小宝所上的那道密奏,说道:“你说有人要行刺,要我小心提防?”
‘Come and look at this. I’ve sent one lot of troops down to Changde in Hunan, via Jingzhou; another lot down to Yuezhou, via Wuchang. I’ve put Prince Lergiyen in overall command. I’ve appointed Chief Secretary Molo, from the Board of Justice, Commander’in’Chief on the western front, in the two provinces of Shaanxi and Sichuan. So, you can tell the Satrap, I’m ready for him!’ ‘Majesty, I beg you, put me in command of something! Let me have a go at the turtle!’ Kang Xi shook his head. ‘War is no game. Besides I want you here with me. And anyway, you’re not a Manchu. My men might not obey your orders.’ Kang Xi sighed. ‘What I need now are one or two great generals. Leaders of real stature. This is going to be a hard war, especially the first few years. We may have to weather a few setbacks. And we need to be able to keep up our morale. It takes a great general to do that!’ ‘But Majesty, you yourself are the very man you are looking for! You are the Great General of the moment!’ Trinket followed this up with a detailed comparison between the Art of War (in which he was a novice), and the Art of Gambling (in which he was a master). The main point was that one or two losses (whether in battle or at cards) didn’t matter. You had to look on a loss as a loan’ you were simply lending money to your enemy, money which would eventually make its way back a hundredfold into your coffers. Kang Xi laughed. He picked up Trinket’s ‘coded’ message, which was lying on his desk. ‘So, you tried to warn me! You thought there might be someone wanting to kill me!’

韦小宝道:“正是。当时局面紧急,奴才又让人给看住了,不能叫师爷来写奏章,只得画这一副图画儿。皇上聪明得紧,一瞧就明白了。那刺客眼睁睁瞧着,就不知道是什么玩意儿。万岁爷洪福齐天,反叛逆贼,枉费心机。”康熙道:“是怎么样的逆贼?”韦小宝道:“是吴三桂派来京城的。”康熙点头道:“吴逆一起兵,我就加了三倍侍卫。昨晚收到你的奏章,又加了内班宿卫。”韦小宝道:“这次吴逆派来的刺客,武功着实厉害。虽然圣天子有百神呵护,咱们还须加倍小心,免得皇上受了惊吓。”忽然想起一事,说道:“皇上,奴才有一件宝贝背心,穿在身上,刀枪不入。奴才就脱下来,请皇上穿上了。”说着便解长袍扣子。康熙微微一笑,问道:“是鳌拜家里抄来的,是不是?”
‘I knew you’d understand it, Majesty! I couldn’t send an ordinary message-there were people watching my every move. So I made up a little drawing.’ ‘Who were me dbba^mo. -“”’i’>were after me?”They were people sent by the Satrap.’ Trinket’s reply had an element of truth in it. The Guis had originally been sent by the Satrap, even though now they were part of the Triad’led alliance.’Since the beginning of this rebellion, I’ve taken the precaution of tripling the guard in the Palace. And when I got your message, Idoubled the night watch.”This time you’re dealing with very unusual people’ saidTrinket. You must be extremely careful.’An idea suddenly occurred to him.’Majesty, I have a waistcoat that will protect you from anything. Nothing can get through it.’He began to take it off. Kang Xi smiled.’I know all about that thing. You got it from Oboi’s house,didn’t you?’

韦小宝吃了一惊,他脸皮虽然甚厚,这时出其不意,竟也难得胀了个满脸通红,跪下说道:“奴才该死,什么也瞒不了皇上。”康熙笑道:“这件金丝背心,是在前明宫里得到的,当时鳌拜立功很多,又冲锋陷阵,身上刀枪矢石的伤受了不少,因此上摄政王赐了给他。那时候我派你去抄鳌拜的家,抄家清单上可没这件背心。”韦小宝只有嘻嘻而笑,神色尴尬。康熙笑道:“你今日要脱给我穿,足见你挺有忠爱之心。但我身在深宫,侍卫千百,谅来刺客也近不了我的身。这背心是不用了。你在外面给我办事,常常遇到凶险,这件背心,算是我今日赐给你的。这贼名儿从今起可就免了。”韦小宝又跪下谢恩,已出了一身冷汗,心想:“我偷四十二章经的事,皇上可别知道才好。”康熙道:“小桂子,你对我忠心,我是知道的。可是你做事也得规规矩矩才是。你身上这件背心,日后倘若也叫人抄家抄了出来,给人隐瞒吞没了去,那可不大妙了。”韦小宝道:“是,是。奴才不敢。”额上汗水不由得涔涔而下,又磕了几个头,这才站起。康熙说道:“扬州的事,以后再回罢。”
Trinket had no idea the Emperor knew. He was normally capable of preserving a perfect poker’face. But this took him totally unawares. He flushed deeply, and fell to his knees.’Majesty, it was wrong of me to take it. I deserve to die! Youknow everything!’ Kang Xi smiled.That waistcoat was an Imperial heirloom that used to belong to the Ming Emperors. We found it in the Palace. The late Regent, Prince Dorgon, gave it to Oboi, who had been wounded many times. When I sent you to supervise the confiscation of Oboi’s estate, I noticed afterwards that it was missing from the inventory.’ Trinket smiled sheepishly.’Anyway,’ Kang Xi continued, ‘I want you to keep it. I’m so heavily guarded here in the Palace, I don’t need to worry for my own safety. You are always encountering danger out there. Considerit a gift from me.’Trinket fell to his knees. As he did so he broke out in a cold sweat’ supposing the Emperor knew about him taking the Sutrastoo!You must tell me about your trip to Yangzhou another time.’

说着打了个呵欠,一晚不睡,毕竟有些倦了。韦小宝道:“是。托了太后和皇上的福,那个罪大恶极的老婊子,奴才给抓来了。”康熙一听,叫道:“快带进来,快带进来。”韦小宝出去叫了四名传卫,将毛东珠揪进殿来,跪在康熙面前。康熙走到她面前,喝道:“抬起头来。”毛东珠略一迟疑,抬起头来,凝视着康熙。康熙见她脸色惨白,突然之间心中一阵难过:“这女人害死我亲生母亲,害得父皇伤心出家,使我成为无父无母之人。她又幽禁太后数年,折磨于她,世上罪大恶极之人,实无过此了,可是……可是……我幼年失母,一直是她抚育我长大。这些年来,她待我实在颇有恩慈,就如是我亲生母亲一般。深宫之中,真正待我好的,恐怕也只有眼前这个女人,还有这个狡猾胡闹的小桂子。”
Kang Xi yawned. He was clearly exhausted by his all’night audience.There is one thing I wish to report, Majesty. I was able to arrest the Old Whore and bring her to Peking.’This piece of news seemed to wake Kang Xi up. ‘Indeed! Bring her in here at once!’ Trinket gave the order, and four guards dragged the Fake’Empress Dowager into Kang Xi’s presence. She knelt before him. Kang Xi rose to his feet. ‘Look up at me!’ he ordered her. After a moment’s hesitation, Mao Dongzhu raised her head and looked him straight in the eyes. She was so haggard and deathly pale that, despite everything, Kang Xi found himself feeling sorry for her. This woman has done so much evil in her life’ he reflected. ‘She killed my mother, she drove my father to become a monk by killing his beloved consort. That made me virtually an orphan. She kept the true Empress Dowager cooped up in a wardrobe all those years. She’s done the most terrible things. And yet-after she killed my mother, it was she who brought me up as a child. She was actually kind to me, she was almost like a real mother. If I stop and think about it, there have only ever been two people in this place who have shown any feeling for me’ her, and this mischievous little prankster, Laurel!’

内心深处,又隐隐觉得:“若不是她害死了董鄂妃和董妃之子荣亲王,以父皇对董鄂妃宠爱之深,大位一定是传给荣亲王。我非但做不成皇帝,说不定还有性命之忧。如此说来,这女人对我还可说是有功了。”在数年之前,康熙年纪幼小,只觉人世间最大恨事,无过于失父失母,但这些年来亲掌政事,深知大位倘若为人所夺,那就万事全休,在他内心,已觉帝皇权位比父母亲的慈爱为重,只是这念头固然不能宣之于口,连心中想一下,也不免罪孽深重。毛东珠见他脸色变幻不定,叹了口气,缓缓道:“吴三桂造反,皇上也不必太过忧急,总要保重身子。你每天早晨的茯苓燕窝汤,还是一直在吃罢?”康熙正在出神,听她问起,顺口答道:“是,每天都在吃的。”毛东珠道:“我犯的罪太大,你……亲手杀了我罢。”
His reflections continued’ ‘Besides, if I look at it one way, I owe her my throne and my life. Supposing she hadn’t killed the Donggo Empress and her son Prince Rong, I would probably never have become Emperor. Prince Rong would have been put on the throne, and most probably I would have been got rid of altogether!’ As a boy, Kang Xi had always considered the loss of his parents to have been the greatest sorrow in his life. With the years, his view of life had evolved, and now, after ruling China for several years, he had begun to value his throne and his power more highly than anything-even more than the love of a mother and a father. It was something he could never bring himself to admit to anyone. Even to think it to himself filled him with a sense of guilt. But it was true! The Old Whore observed his thoughtful expression and sighed. ‘You mustn’t let yourself worry too much about this rebellion of the Satrap’s,’ she said, speaking slowly and with great deliberation. ‘You must take good care of yourself. I hope you’re still taking your Bird’s Nest Soup everyday?’ Kang Xi was awoken from his wandering train of thought. ‘Yes, I do. Every day.”I have done so much evil in my life,’ said the Old Whore. ‘I hope you will have the kindness to put me to death yourself.’

康熙心中一阵难过,摇了摇头,对韦小宝道:“你带她去慈宁宫朝见太后,说我请太后圣断发落。”韦小宝右膝一屈,应了声:“喳!”康熙挥挥手,道:“你去罢。”韦小宝从怀中取出葛尔丹和桑结的两道奏章来,走上两步,呈给康熙,说道:“皇上大喜。西藏和蒙古的两路兵马,都已跟吴三桂翻了脸,决意为皇上出力。”康熙连日调兵遣将,深以蒙藏两路兵马响应吴三桂为忧,听得韦小宝这么说,不由得惊喜交集,道:”有这等事?”展开奏章一看,更是喜出望外,挥手命侍卫先将毛东珠押出殿去,问韦小宝道:“这两件大功,你怎么办成的?他妈的,你可真是个大大的福将哪。”其时西藏、蒙古两地,兵力颇强,康熙既知桑结、葛尔丹暗中和吴三桂勾结,已部署重兵,预为之所,这时眼见两道奏章中言辞恭顺恳切,反而成为伐讨吴三桂的强助,如何不教他心花怒放?只是此事来得太过突兀,一时之间还不信是真。
Kang Xi shook his head. It wounded him to hear her speak like this. He turned to Trinket.’I want you to take her to the Empress Dowager’s apartment in the Hall of Maternal Tranquillity. I want her to decide what to do.”Yes, Majesty!’ replied Trinket, dropping to one knee.Take her away then!’Before he left, Trinket produced the two Memorials from Galdan and Sangge, and handed them to Kang Xi.’Majesty, I have another piece of excellent news. The Mongols and the Tibetans have decided to break with the Satrap and come over to your side!’This was indeed wonderful, and unexpected, news. The Mongolian and Tibetan soldiers had a fearsome reputation as fighters, and would prove extremely useful against the Satrap. Kang Xi could hardly believe it. He sent the Fake’Empress Dowager out of the room for a moment, and when he was alone again with Trinket, exclaimed’Tamardy, Laurie! How on earth did you manage to do that?’

韦小宝知道每逢小皇帝对自己口出“他妈的”,便是龙心大悦,笑嘻嘻的道:“托皇上的洪福,奴才跟他们拜了把子,桑结大喇嘛是大哥,葛尔丹王子是二哥,奴才是三弟。”康熙笑道:“你倒真神通广大。他们帮我打吴三桂,你答应了给他们什么好处?”韦小宝笑道:“皇上圣明,知道这拜把子是装腔作势,当不得真的,他们一心一意是在向皇上讨赏。桑结是想当活佛,达赖活佛、班禅活佛之外,想请皇上开恩,再赏他一个桑结活佛做做。那葛尔丹王子,却是想做什么‘整个儿好’,这个奴才就不明白了。”康熙哈哈大笑,道:“整个儿好?啊,是了,他想做准噶尔汗。这两件事都不难,又不花费朝廷什么,到时候写一道敕文,盖上个御宝,派你做钦差大臣去宣读就是了。你去跟你大哥、二哥说,只要当真出力,他们心里想的事我答应就是。可不许两面三刀,嘴里说的是一套,做的又是一套,见风使舵,瞧哪一边打仗占了上风,就帮哪一边。”韦小宝道:“皇上说得是。我这两个把兄,人品不怎么高明。皇上也不能全信了,总还得防着一些。皇上说过,咱们头几年要打败仗,那要防他二人非但不帮庄,反而打霉庄,尽在天门落注。”心想得把话说在头里,免得自己担的干系太大。康熙点头道:“这话说得是。但咱们也不怕,只要他们敢打,天门、左青龙、右白虎,通吃!”韦小宝哈哈大笑,心中好生佩服,原来皇上于赌牌九一道倒也在行。(按:后来葛尔丹和桑结分别作乱,为康熙分别平定。葛尔丹死于康熙三十六年,桑结死于康熙四十四年。)
Trinket knew that whenever the Emperor used the expression ‘tamardy!’ he was really pleased. He chuckled happily, and told Kang Xi how he had become the ‘sworn brother’ of Galdan and Sangge.’And I’ll bet you promised them something in return?’ Trinket confessed that he had indeed, on the Emperor’s behalf, offered them a reward’ in Sangge’s case, elevation to a Living Buddhahood comparable with that of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama; in Galdan’s case, promotion to something comparable with the title Gengimoto Khan (he still couldn’t get the name right).Kang Xi understood only too well. ‘You mean he wants to be Khan of all the Dzungars. Of course they will both be rewarded. When the time comes, I will issue the Edict, and will send you to deliver it in person. But first, they have to fight and show their true loyalty. You must tell them that.’ ‘Yes, Majesty. You shouldn’t trust them too much. They’re not exactly what I’d call very trustworthy people.’ Trinket wanted to make sure that if they did turn out to be unreliable, he wasn’t going to be held responsible.* What Fun!

韦小宝押了毛东珠,来到慈宁宫谒见太后。太监传出懿旨,命韦小宝带同钦犯进见。韦小宝心想:“以前我是太监,自可出入太后寝殿。现下我是大臣了,怎么还叫我进寝殿去?想来太后听得捉到了老婊子,喜欢得很了,忘了我已不是太监。”于是由四名太监押了毛东珠,一同进去。只见寝殿内黑沉沉地,仍与当日假太后居住时无异。太后坐在床沿,背后床帐低垂。韦小宝跪下磕头,恭请圣安。太后向毛东珠瞧了一眼,点了点头,道:“你抓到了钦犯,嗯,你出去罢!”
Trinket now proceeded with the Old Whore to the Hall of Maternal Tranquillity. The eunuch’in’attendance announced that Her Majesty would receive them both. Trinket was a little surprised at being allowed directly into the Empress’ apartment (no one still believed him to be a eunuch), but he went in as instructed. It was dark inside the Empress’ room, as dark as it had ever been during the days of her sinister impostor, the Old Whore. She was sitting on the edge of her bed. Behind her the bed’curtains were closed. Trinket fell to his knees and kowtowed. She glanced at Mao Dongzhu and nodded. ‘So, you’ve arrested this criminal. Very well, you may go now.’

韦小宝磕头辞出,将毛东珠留在寝宫之中。他从慈宁宫出来,心下大为不满:“我抓到老婊子,立了一场大功,可是太后似乎一点也不欢喜,连半句称赞的话也没有。他奶奶的,谁住在慈宁宫,谁就是母混蛋,真太后也好,假太后也好,都是老婊子。”他肚里暗骂,穿过慈宁花园石径,经过一座假山之侧。突然间人影一晃,假山背后转出三个人来,其中一人一伸手,便抓住了韦小宝左手,笑道:“你好!”
That was obviously all she intended to say. Trinket kowtowed again and retired from the room, leaving the Old Whore inside. ‘Well, that’s gratitude and a half!’ he thought to himself. ‘After all I’ve done! Just “You may go now”! Well, sod the lot of them! Old Whore, New Whore, they’re all the same as far as I’m concerned!’ He set off, accompanied by the same guards who had escorted him, and feeling thoroughly unappreciated. He was wandering through the garden next to the Empress’ apartment, alongside an extended rockery, when he caught sight of a human shape flitting past in the shadows. Then three figures emerged from behind one of the larger artificial mountains. One of them reached out and seized him by the left hand. ‘Good day!’

韦小宝吃了一惊,见是个老太监,正待喝问,已看清楚这老太监竟然是归二娘。这一惊当真非同小可,再看她身旁两人,赫然是归辛树和归钟,两人都穿一身内班宿卫服色,韦小宝暗暗叫苦:“你们三人原来躲在这里。”左手给归二娘抓住了,半身酸麻,知道只要一声张,归辛树轻轻一掌,自己的脑袋非片片碎裂不可,料想自己的脑袋,不会有伯爵府外那石狮子头这般坚硬,当下苦笑道:“你老人家好!”心下盘算脱身之计。”归二娘低声道:“你叫他们在这里别动,我有话说。”
It was one of the eunuchs, thought Trinket. And then again, it wasn’t. He looked closer, and recognized the features of Old Lady Gui. The two other figures, dressed as Palace Guards, were Old Gui and the Invalid. Trinket was not inclined to antagonize Old Gui. He remembered only too clearly the splinters of crushed marble to which a light tap of the old man’s extended palm had reduced the Our author notes that in fact both Galdan and Sangge subsequendy rebelled against the Manchu throne, and were defeated by Kang Xi, in the 1690s. CHAPTER 25 head of one of the stone lions outside his study. He did not relish the idea of a similar tap on his own head, which was made of considerably softer stuff.’Good day to you all!’ he replied, racking his brains for anescape plan.Tell your guards to wait here!’ whispered Old Lady Gui. ‘We need to talk to you in private.’

韦小宝不敢违拗,转头对跟在身后的几名侍卫道:“你们在这里等着。”归二娘拉着他手,向前走了十几步,低声道:“快带我们去找皇帝。”韦小宝道:“三位昨儿晚上就来了,怎么还没找到皇帝么?”归二娘道:“问了几名太监和侍卫,都说皇帝在召见大臣,一晚没睡。我们没法走近,下不了手。”韦小宝道:“刚才我就想去见皇帝,要探探口气,想知道你们三位怎么样了。可是皇帝已经睡了,见不着。三位已换了束装,当真再好也没有,咱们这就出宫去罢。”归二娘道:“事情没办成,怎么就出宫去?”韦小宝道:“白天是干不得的,三位倘若兴致好,不妨今晚再来耍耍。”归二娘道:“好容易进来了,大事不成,决不出去。他在哪里睡觉,快带我们去。”韦小宝道:“我也不知他睡在哪里,得找个太监问问。”归二娘道:“不许你跟人说话!你刚才说去求见皇帝,怎会不知他睡在那里?哼,想在老娘跟前弄鬼,那可没这么容易。”说着手指一紧。韦小宝只觉奇痛彻骨,五根手指如欲断裂,忍不住哼了一声。归辛树伸过手来,在他头顶轻轻摸一下,说道:“很好!”韦小宝知道无法违抗,心念一动:“我带他们去慈宁宫,大呼小叫一番,小皇帝得知讯息,就有防备了。他们要是下手害死了太后,也不关我事。”便道:“刚才我是到慈宁宫去的,说不定皇帝在向太后请安,咱们再去找找看。”
Trinket did as he was told. She dragged him along a few yards, then hissed in his ear’Take us to the Emperor-now”I thought you came here last night?’ said Trinket. ‘Haven’t you managed to find him yet?’The eunuchs and guards all said he was going to be up all night in a special audience. We haven’t been able to do anything yet.”I had planned to go and see him myself’ said Trinket. ‘But they told me he’d already gone to bed.”Well take us there! Surely you know where he’s sleeping?”No, I don’t know! I’d need to ask a eunuch or something. It’s all very dangerous. Take my advice, and get out while you still can. Come back another time if you really want to go ahead with it.”We’re not leaving till we’ve done what we came here to do!’ hissed the old lady. ‘And don’t think you can fool around with me!’She tightened her grip, and Trinket let out a little yelp of pain. He thought his fingers were going to snap.’Or would you like me to-‘It was Old Gui, tapping the top of Trinket’s head very lightly. Trinket was thinking fast”Why don’t I take them to the Empress Dowager’s apartment,and raise the alarm’ At least that will warn the Emperor. So what ifthey do end up killing the New Whore! Why should I care anyway?”I was in there at the Empress Dowager’s just a moment ago’he said. The Emperor is very likely to be there now, paying hisrespects.’

归二娘望见他适才确是从慈宁宫出来,倒非虚言,说道:“我们三人既然进得宫来,就没想活着出去了。只要你有丝毫异动,只好要你陪上一条小命。咱们四个一起去见阎王,路上也不寂寞。我孩儿挺喜欢你作伴儿的。”韦小宝苦笑道:“要作伴儿,倒也不妨,咱们就在这御花园里散散心罢!那条阴世路,我看是不必去了。”归二娘道:“你爱去见阎王呢,还是爱去见鞑子皇帝?这两个家伙,今日你总是见定了其中一个。”韦小宝叹道:“那还是去见皇帝罢。咱们话说在前头,一见到皇帝,你们三位自管自动手,我可是不能帮忙的。”归二娘道:“谁要你帮忙?只要你带我们见到了皇帝,立刻就放你。以后的事,不跟你相干。”韦小宝道:“好!就是这样。”
Old Lady Gui looked at him.’Any nonsense from you, and we’ll kill you. We’re not expecting to get out of here alive anyway. When you’re dead, you’re welcome to join us on the road to the Underworld. We can go and see King Yama together. For some reason my boy seems to think you’re fun to have around.’ Thanks for the invitation, but no thank you!’ said Trinket, forcing a smile to his face. ‘I’d rather play with him right here in the garden, if it’s all the same with you.’ ‘Stop wasting time!’ snapped the old lady. ‘Which is it to be’ Who are we going to see’ The King of the Underworld’ Or the Manchu Emperor on his Chinese throne?’ The Manchu Emperor most definitely!’ said Trinket. ‘But let’s get one thing clear. Once we’re there, I’m out of it; I’ll have no further part in whatever it is you’re planning to do.’ ‘You!’ sneered the old lady. ‘We don’t need you. Once we’re there, you can go. We’ll finish this off on our own.’

韦小宝给三人挟着走向慈宁宫。归钟见到花园中的孔雀、白鹤,大感兴味。韦小宝指指点点,跟他谈个不休,只盼多挨得一刻好一刻。归二娘虽然不耐,但想儿子一生缠于苦疾,在这世上已活不到一时三刻,临死之前便让他稍畅心怀,也不忍阻他的兴头。远远望见慈宁宫中出来了一行人,抬着两顶轿子,归二娘一手拉着韦小宝,一手拉了儿子,闪在一座牡丹花坛之后。归辛树避在她身侧。
They proceeded through the garden, the four of them, back towards the Empress Dowager’s compound. Invalid was greatly excited by the sight of all the peacocks and doves. Trinket kept chattering away to him, anything to delay the moment. Old Lady Gui was impatient to get there, but at the same time could not bring herself to deny her darling son a few moments of pleasure, knowing that he was so close to certain death. As they approached the main entrance to the Empress Dowager’s compound, they saw a string of people emerge, followed by two palanquins, each carried by eight bearers. Seizing Trinket in one hand and her son in the other, Lady Gui darted behind a bed of large peony bushes. Old Gui followed.

这行人渐渐走近,韦小宝见当先一人是敬事房太监,后面两乘轿子一乘是皇太妃的,一乘是皇太后的,轿侧各有太监扶着轿杆,轿后太监举着黄罗大伞,跟着数十名太监宫女,还有十余名内班宿卫。本来太后在宫中来去并无侍卫跟随,想来皇帝得到自己报讯后加派了侍卫。他灵机一动,低声道:“小心!前面轿中就是鞑子皇帝,后面轿中是皇太后。”
The people and chairs drew nearer and nearer. The person at the very front Trinket recognized as one of the eunuchs from the genuine Empress Dowager’s entourage. The first of the two palanquins belonged to the young Emperor’s First Consort. The second belonged to the Empress Dowager herself. The eunuch bringing up the rear was carrying a large silken umbrella, and was accompanied by twenty or so junior eunuchs and Palace maids, and a dozen members of the Imperial Bodyguard. Normally the Empress Dowager would not have had such a large escort when she moved around within the confines of the Forbidden City. Doubtless this was a new precaution, reflected Trinket, arising out of the present unusual situation, and his own warning to the Emperor. It was then that he had one of his inspirations. ‘Look out!’ he whispered to the Guis. That’s the one! The one in front has got the Emperor inside it. The one behind it belongs to the Empress Dowager.’

归氏夫妇见了这一行人的排场声势,又是从慈宁宫中出来,自然必是皇帝和太后,不由得都心跳加剧,两人齐向儿子瞧去,脸上露出温柔神色。归二娘低声道:“孩儿,前面轿中坐的就是皇帝,待他们走近,听我喝一声‘去!’咱三人就连人带轿,打他个稀巴烂!”归钟笑道:“好,这一下可好玩了!”眼见两乘轿子越走越近,韦小宝手心中出汗,耳听得那敬事房太监口中不断发出“吃!吃!吃!”之声,叫人回避。归二娘低喝一声:“去!”三人同时扑出。
This seemed more than plausible to the old couple. They felt a sudden sense of impending climax. Things were drawing to a head. They both glanced at their son with a certain tenderness. ‘Listen to me, boy,’ whispered the old lady. The person in that first chair is the Emperor. We’ll wait for them to pass close by, then I’ll give the word and we’ll all three of us jump on the chair and hack him to pieces!’ ‘Good!’ Invalid grinned. ‘What fun!’ The chair came closer and closer. Trinket felt his own hands go cold and clammy. He could hear the eunuch in front calling out the usual command for everyone to stand aside. The old lady gave the word, and Trinket watched the Turtle Trio leap into action.

这三人去势好快,直如狂风骤至,只听得砰的一声巨响,三人六掌,俱已击在第一乘轿子之上。归辛树和归二娘怕打不死皇帝,立即抽出腰间长剑,手起剑落,刹那间向轿中连刺了四五剑,每一剑拔出时,剑刃上都是鲜血淋漓,轿中人便有十条性命,也都已了帐。随从侍卫大惊,纷纷呼喝,抽出兵刃上前截拦。归二娘叫道:“得手了!”左手拉住儿子,径向北闯。归辛树长剑急舞,向前夺路。众侍卫哪里挡得住?眼见三人冲向寿康宫西侧的花径而去。众宫女太监惊呼叫嚷,乱成一团。
They moved like a collective whirlwind. There was a great crashing sound as the three of them struck out with extended palms at the first chair. Next the old couple, anxious to ensure that the Emperor was well and truly killed, drew their swords and thrust four, five times through the curtains and deep within the chair. Each time their blades came out dripping with blood. If there had been ten people inside that chair, they would all have been dead for certain. The guards had by now had time to react, and surged forward swords in hand. But the Guis were too quick for them. With a cry of The deed is done!’, the old lady seized her son by the hand and zoomed off into the bushes. The old man brandished his sword and hacked his way past the guard, who were powerless to hold any of them back. Seconds later they were all three to be seen whirling down a path beside the Palace of Ripe Old Age. The maids and eunuchs in the retinue were screaming hysterically.

四下里锣声响起,宫中千百扇门户纷纷紧闭上闩,内班宿卫、宫门侍卫严守各处要道通路。接着宫墙外内府三旗护军营、前锋营、骁骑营官兵个个弓上弦,刀出鞘,密密层层,严加把守。韦小宝见归家三人刺杀了皇太妃,便以为得手,径行逃走,心中大喜,当即从花坛后闪了出来,大声喝道:“大家不得慌乱,保护皇太后要紧!”众侍卫正乱得犹似没头苍蝇相似,突见韦小宝现身指挥,心中都是一定。韦小宝喝道:“大家围住皇太后御轿,若有刺客来犯,须得拚命挡住!”众侍卫齐声应道:“得令!”韦小宝从侍卫中抢过一把刀来,高高举起,大声道:“今日是咱们尽忠报国,为皇太后、皇太妃拚命的时候,管他来一千一万刺客,大伙儿也要保护太后圣驾!”众侍卫又齐应:“得令!”眼见侍卫副总管伯爵大人威风凛凛,指挥若定,忠心耿耿,视死如归,无不打从心底里佩服出来,均想:“他年纪虽小,毕竟高人一等!”十余名侍卫团团围定皇太后御轿。
Alarm gongs went off, and everywhere in the Palace there was the sound of doors being closed and bolted as the guards doubled security on every passage and gateway. Every unit was put on the highest possible alert’ the Palace Guard, the Valiants, and the regiments of Banner troops stationed just outside the Palace. ‘So, the First Consort is dead! Too bad! Couldn’t be helped!’ thought Trinket to himself. And, in his ever resourceful manner, he chose this moment to leap out from behind the flower’bed (where he had been abandoned by the Guis), crying’ ‘Protect Her Majesty’s chair! They may try to take Her Majesty’s life!’ Somewhat late in the day, the guards were galvanized into action. Trinket seized a sword from one of them, and led them heroically into the fray. They formed a circle around the second chair, the one belonging to the Empress Dowager. Trinket was not content with this. He rallied the eunuchs and maids to a display of valour as well.

韦小宝又向众太监宫女呼喝:“你们乱些什么?快在外边围成一个圈子,保护太后,倘若刺客犯驾,好先砍了你们这些不值钱的脑袋。”众太监宫女心想自己的脑袋虽不值钱,胡乱给人砍了,倒也不大舍得,但见他执刀挥舞,神色威严,谁也不敢违抗,只得战战兢兢的在众侍卫外又围了个圈子,有几人已吓得屎尿齐流。韦小宝这才放下钢刀,走到皇太后御轿之前,说道:“奴才韦小宝救驾来迟,惊动了太后圣驾。恭请太后圣安,刺客已经杀退。”太后在轿中说道:“很好!”
‘Come on, you useless bunch of babies! Stop screaming, and form a second circle! If the assassins strike again, then they can hack you utterly worthless lot to pieces first!’ The eunuchs and maids certainly did not agree that they were utterly worthless. But Trinket was cutting such a heroic figure, they could hardly refuse to obey him, and reluctantly formed an outer circle around the Empress Dowager’s chair. Some of them were so scared they wet their pants. Trinket now put down his sword, and went up to the Empress Dowager’s chair. ‘Your Majesty, your servant Trinket presents his apologies for arriving on the scene so late! 1 am pleased to report, however, that Your Majesty’s person is safe, and that the assassins have been driven away!’ ‘Well done.’

韦小宝伸手掀开轿帷一角,见太后脸色苍白,却满面笑容,连连点头,说道:“韦小宝,你很好,很好!又救了我一次。”韦小宝道:“太后万福圣安,奴才喜欢得紧。”轻轻放下轿帷。他回头指着两名侍卫,说道:“你们快去奏告皇上,太后圣躬平安,请皇上不必挂念。你们说奴才韦小宝恭请皇上圣安,众侍卫奋勇护驾,刺客已然杀退。”两名侍卫领命而去。忽听得太后低声叫道:“韦小宝!”韦小宝应道:“喳!奴才在。”太后低声问道:“前面轿里那两人死了?”韦小宝道:“两人?”太后道:“你去瞧瞧,小心在意。”韦小宝答应了,心中大奇:“怎么是两人?又为什么小心在意?”走到第一乘轿子之前,揭开轿帷,不由得“啊”的一声大叫,放下轿帷,倒退了几步,只觉双膝酸软,险些坐倒在地。轿中血肉模糊,果然死了两人!两人身上都有好几个剑创,兀自汩汩流血。一个是假太后毛东珠,另一个是矮矮胖胖的男子,五官已给掌力打得稀烂,但瞧这身形,赫然便是瘦头陀。两人相搂相抱而死。
He heard the voice of the Empress Dowager from within. He drew aside the curtain and looked inside the chair. The Empress Dowager sat there, her face deathly pale, but smiling broadly. ‘Well done, Trinket! Very well done! You have saved my life yet again!’ ‘All health to Your Majesty!’ replied Trinket, and closed the curtain again. He next sent word to the Emperor, that the Empress Dowager was alive and well, and that the assassins had been driven away, and that he was to set his Imperial mind at rest. Trinket!’ It was the Empress Dowager’s voice again, this time whispering through the curtains. ‘Yes, Majesty.’ ‘Are the two in the front palanquin both dead?’ Two?’ ‘Yes. Go and have a look. But be extremely careful.’ Trinket was very curious as to why there should be two people in the First Consort’s palanquin. And why should he need to be ‘extremely’ careful’ He went up to the palanquin, and extremely carefully pulled the curtain immediately, (缺)the knees, and all but collapsed on the ground.The interior of the chair was a bloody mess. Yes, there weretwo bodies. Each had been stabbed several times. There was blood everywhere. One of the bodies was immediately recognizable as the Fake’Empress Dowager. The other was that of a short, fat man. He had been battered to a pulp by the first palm attack. But it did not take Trinket more than a second to recognize him as Thin Dhuta. There they were’. Meatball and the Old Whore, dead, and locked ina lovers’ embrace.

毛东珠死在轿中倒也不奇,她是韦小宝押到慈宁宫去呈交太后的,可是这瘦头陀却从何而来?这二人居然坐了皇太妃的轿子,由皇太后相陪,却要到哪里去?他定了定神,走到太后轿前,低声道:“启禀太后,那两人已经死了,死得一塌胡涂,死得不能再死了。”太后一笑,说道:“很好!咱们回慈宁宫。那乘轿子也抬了去,不许旁人启轿观看。”韦小宝答应了,传下令去,自己扶着太后御轿到了慈宁宫,打开轿帷,扶着太后出来。太后又向他一笑,说道:“你很好!”韦小宝报以一笑,心道:“我有什么好了?太后年纪虽然不小,相貌倒挺标致哪。”太后招招手,叫他随进寝殿,吩咐宫女太监都出去,要韦小宝关上了门。
Trinket was not overly surprised to discover the Old Whore in the chair. After all, he had only just taken her into the Empress Dowager’s room. But where had Meatball sprung from’ And where were the two of them going, in the First Consort’s palanquin, and accompanied by the Empress Dowager in person’Trinket took a deep breath and approached the EmpressDowager’s chair.’Majesty, the two people you referred to are dead. Very dead indeed. It’s a horrible mess in there.’ He spoke very softly. There was a laugh from inside the chair.’Well done! Shall we go back to my apartment now’ I want the other chair to be carried back as well. Just as it is. No one is to look inside. Understand?’ ‘Yes Majesty!’This was sounding stranger and stranger. But Trinket gave the order at once, and personally assisted the bearers with the Empress Dowager’s chair. Once they reached her compound, he helped her down. She smiled at him again.’Very well done!’It seemed to be her expression of the moment. Trinket returnedthe smile. But he was thinking to himself”What’s so very well done about it’ And how come the New Whore’s looking so seductive all of a sudden?’The Empress Dowager summoned him into her inner room, waving away all the maids and eunuchs. She told Trinket to close the door.

韦小宝心中怦怦而跳,不禁脸上红了起来,心道:“啊哟,乖乖不得了!太后不住赞我很好,莫非要我做老皇爷的替身?假太后有个师哥假扮宫女,又有个瘦头陀钻在她被窝里。这真太后如果要我也假扮宫女,钻进她被窝去,那便如何是好?”太后坐在床沿,出神半晌,说道:“这件事当真好险,又是全仗你出力。”韦小宝道:“奴才受太后和皇上的大恩,粉身碎骨也不能报答。”
Trinket’s heart was pounding. He was bright red in the face. ‘Yikes!’ he was thinking to himself. This is looking very nasty for old Trink! All those “well dones”-I don’t know, what if she fancies me or something’ The Old Whore got up to some pretty rum stuff, with that bald man she kept dressed up as one of her maids, and then with old Meatball in bed with her. Supposing the New Whore decides she wants me in bed with her?’ And what if she wants me to dress up as a maid too’ Trink in drag’ Hello- I don’t think so!’ The Empress Dowager sat for some time on the edge of her bed. Then she spoke. The whole thing has been most dangerous. I have been absolutely counting on you!’ ‘Majesty, you can always count on me to do anything to save your life!’ It was by no means clear what the ‘whole thing’ was. Or what it was she was counting on him to do. Trinket was trying to narrow down the options. Dressing up in drag could hardly be considered a life’saver.

太后点了点头,说道:“你很忠心。皇上用了你,也是咱们的福气。”韦小宝道:“那是太后和皇上的恩典。奴才只知道尽忠为主子出力罢了。”心中只道:“玉皇大帝、观世音菩萨保佑,你可别叫我假扮宫女。”太后又是向他一笑,只笑得韦小宝心中直发毛,只听她道:“你打死的那两个反贼,去连人带轿一起用火烧了,不能泄漏半句言语。刚才在场的侍卫和宫女太监……”说到这里,沉吟不语。
She nodded. ‘I know. You’re a very loyal young man. It’s very lucky for us all that His Majesty has taken such a fancy to you.’ ‘I’m the lucky one, Majesty!’ Trinket was silently uttering a prayer’ ‘Jade Emperor in Heaven Above! And Our Beloved Lady of Mercy! Look down on me and protect me! Please, oh please don’t let her ask me to dress up as a maid!’ She smiled at him again. The smile made Trinket shiver. Then she spoke’ ‘I want this whole thing kept quiet. I want you to take the two dead bodies, and the chair, and I want you to burn everything. And I don’t want anyone to breathe a word about this. As for the guards and eunuchs and maids who were there at the time . . .’ She was silent for a moment.

韦小宝道:“太后圣安。奴才有法子叫他们连屁也不敢放半个。”太后听他说话粗俗,微一皱眉,说道:“这件事你给我办得妥妥当当的,自有你的好处。”韦小宝请了个安,说道:“奴才用心去办,倘若有人漏出半点消息,太后砍奴才的脑袋好了。”太后道:“这样我就放心了。你去罢!”韦小宝大喜,磕头辞出。出得慈宁宫来,只见康熙的御轿正向这边而来,数百名宿卫前后左右拥卫,卫士比平日增了数倍,韦小宝避在道旁。康熙在轿中见到了他,叫道:“小桂子,你在这里等着。”韦小宝答应了,知道康熙是去向太后请安,苦苦思索:“瘦头陀怎么会躲在太妃的轿里?真是奇哉怪也!”
‘Majesty, don’t worry, I know a way to seal their lips! They won’t breathe a word, I promise. In fact I’ll seal their bums too, so that they won’t be able to fart a word!’ She frowned at Trinket’s vulgarity. ‘Just see to it! I’ll make sure you are rewarded.’ ‘I shall, Majesty! If anyone says a thing, you can have my head off!’ ‘Off you go then!’ Trinket kowtowed and left the room. As he was leaving, he saw Kang Xi’s Imperial palanquin on its way into the compound, preceded and followed by several hundred guards. Trinket stood to one side to let it pass. From within his great chair Kang Xi caught sight of him. ‘Laurie! Wait for me here!’ ‘Yes Majesty!’ He knew that Kang Xi would want to hurry in and see the Empress Dowager first. He stood there waiting in a daze. There were still so many questions to be answered. What was going on’ What was Meatball doing hiding in the First Consort’s chair’ What did the Emperor want to see Trinket for?

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