The Deer And The Cauldron 43

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The Deer And The Cauldron 43
第四十三回 身作红云长傍日 心随碧草又迎风

注:本回回目中,“红云傍日”指陪伴帝皇,“心随碧草”指有远行之念。

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The Truth will Out

康熙从慈宁宫出来。韦小宝跟着回养心殿,在殿外候传。过了良久,见前锋营统领阿济赤从殿中出来,韦小宝心道:“皇上定是调动前锋营,加紧严防刺客。”接着太监传韦小宝进见。康熙屏退侍卫、太监,命他关上了殿门。康熙蹙起了眉头,在殿上踱来踱去,显是心中有个难题,好生委决不下。韦小宝见状,心下惴惴。小皇帝年岁渐长,威势日盛,韦小宝每见到他一次,总觉亲昵之情减了一分,畏惧之心加了一分,再也不是当时互相扭打时那么肆无忌惮。
Trinket accompanied Kang Xi back to the Hall of Nurturing the Mind. He waited at the entrance for some time. Then he saw Colonel Ajige, the commandant of the Vanguard Regiment, come out-an obvious sign that Kang Xi was redeploying units of the Vanguards, to catch the assassins. A eunuch summoned Trinket into the Emperor’s presence. Kang Xi dismissed his guards and eunuchs, and told Trinket to close the doors behind him. Kang Xi paced up and down the room, frowning to himself. There was obviously something weighty on his mind. He seemed to be struggling with himself, trying to come to a decision. Trinket watched him anxiously. With every day the Emperor was growing more and more a figure of authority, someone to be feared. Each time he saw him, he felt their old friendship slipping away. Gone were the days when they used to spar and tumble together without a care in the world.

过了一会,康熙说道:“小桂子,有一件事,可不知道怎么办才好。”韦小宝道:“皇上聪明智慧,诸葛亮甘拜下风,想出来的主意,一定是高的。”康熙道:“这一回可连诸葛亮也没法子了。你有三件大功劳,我一件都没赏你。擒获毛东珠是第一件。说得蒙古、西蒙两路兵马归降,是第二件。刚才又派人击毙反贼,救了太后,那是第三件了。你年纪小小,已封了伯爵,我总不能封你为王哪!”说到这里,哈哈大笑。
Finally Kang Xi spoke. ‘Laurie, there’s something on my mind, and I really don’t know how to deal with it for the best.’ ‘But Majesty, you yourself have the wisdom of Zhuge Liang!’ Trinket assumed that this was some important affair of state, or a military decision. As usual, he could think of no one more flattering for the occasion than the great strategist of the Three Kingdoms. ‘Even he would be stuck with this one. It concerns you. I can’t decide what to do. You’ve done three things for me, you’ve performed three highly meritorious services to the Throne. First, you’ve captured Mao Dongzhu, the woman you always liked to call the Old Whore; second, you have brought Prince Galdan and Lama Sangge round to my side in this conflict; and third, you have saved the life of the Empress Dowager, and helped to fight off the would’be assassins. You’ve done all of this! And how am I to reward you’ You are already an Earl-I can hardly make you a Prince!’ Kang Xi burst out laughing.

韦小宝才知道皇上跟自己开玩笑,喜道:“这几件事都托赖太后和皇上洪福,所有功劳都是皇上自己的。可惜皇上不能封自己的官,否则的话,皇上该当自己连升三级才是。”康熙又是一阵大笑,说道:“皇帝虽不能升自己的官,可是自古以来,不知有多少皇帝爱给自己加尊号。有件甚么喜庆事,打个小小胜仗,就加几个尊号,虽然说是臣子恭请,其实还不是皇帝给自己脸上贴金。真正好皇帝这么自称自赞,已然颇为好笑,何况许多暴君昏君,也是圣仁文武、宪哲睿智甚么的一大串。皇帝越胡涂,头衔越长,当真恬不知耻。古来圣贤君主,还有强得过尧舜禹汤的么?可是尧就是尧,舜就是舜,后人心中崇仰,最多也不过称一声大舜、大禹。做皇帝的若有三分自知之明,也不会尊号加到几十字那么长了。”

韦小宝道:“原来鸟生鱼汤是不加自己尊号的。皇上是鸟生鱼汤,自然也不加了。不过照奴才看来,打平吴三桂之后,皇上倘若不加几个头衔风光风光,未免太也吃亏。”康熙笑道:“吃甚么亏?”韦小宝道:“打平吴三桂之后,皇上大封功臣,犒赏三军,大家都要升官发财。皇上自己非但升不了官,反而要大开库房,黄澄澄的金子、白花花的银子,一箱箱搬出去花差花差,岂不大大破财?”康熙笑道:“你就是没学问,没出息。扫除吴逆,天下太平,百姓安居乐业,那就是你主子的升官发财。”韦小宝道:“原来如此。”康熙道:“不过荡平吴逆之后,群臣一定是要上尊号的。这些马屁大王,有事的时候不能为朕出力分忧,一待大功告成,他们就来捡现成便宜,大拍马屁了。”韦小宝道:“皇上事事有先见之明。咱们那时候静静的瞧着,那几个官儿请皇上加尊号,谁就是马屁大王。”康熙笑道:“对!那时候老子踢他妈的狗屁股。”君臣相对大笑。果然不出康熙所料,吴三桂平后,群臣便上尊号,歌功颂德,大拍马屁。康熙下谕道:“贼虽已平,疮痍未复,君臣宜加修省,恤兵养民,布宣德化,务以廉洁为本,共致太平。若遂以为功德,崇上尊称,滥邀恩赏,实可耻也。”这已说得十分严峻,但群臣兀自不悟,以为康熙不过假意推辞,又再请上尊号。康熙颁谕:“朕自幼读书,觉古人君行事,始终一辙者甚少,尝以为戒。惟恐几务或旷,鲜有克终,宵衣旰食,祁寒盛暑,不敢少间。偶有违和,亦勉出听断。中夜有几宜奏报,披衣而起,总为天下生灵之计。今更鲜洁清之效,民无康阜之麻,君臣之间,全无功绩可纪。倘复上朕尊号,加尔等官秩,则徒有负愧,何尊荣之有?”群臣拍马屁拍在马脚上,闹得灰头土脸,这才不敢再请。此是后话,按下不表。

康熙笑道:“皇帝自己加尊号,那是多得很的,不算希奇。明朝有个正德皇帝,那才叫奇了。”韦小宝道:“这个皇帝,奴才见过他好几次。”康熙奇道:“你见过他好几次?做梦么?”韦小宝道:“不是。奴才在戏台上见过的。有一出戏叫做《梅龙镇》,正德皇帝游江南,在梅龙镇上见到一个卖酒姑娘李凤姐,生得美貌,跟她勾勾搭搭。”康熙笑道:“正德皇帝喜欢微服出游,李凤姐的事,说不定真是有的。这皇帝不加自己尊号,却爱封自己的官,他封自己为‘总督军务威武大将军总兵官’,遇到甚么风吹草动,就下一道上谕:‘北寇犯边,特命总督军务威武大将军总兵官朱寿率六军往征。’朱寿就是他的名字。后来打了一仗,其实是败仗,他却说是胜仗,功劳很大,下一道圣旨,加封自己为镇国公,加俸禄米五千石。”

韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“这人皇帝不做,却去做镇国公,真是胡涂得很了。”康熙笑道:“当时大臣一齐反对,说若是封镇国公,就要追封祖宗三代。皇上自己称镇国公还不打紧,皇上的祖宗三代都是皇帝,他们一定不肯降级。正德皇帝不理,定要做镇国公,后来又说立了功劳,加封自己为太师。幸亏他死得早,否则官越封越大,到后来只好自己篡自己的位,索性做皇帝了。”韦小宝听到“篡位”两字,不敢多言,只干笑几声。康熙道:“正德皇帝做了许多胡涂事,害得百姓很苦。固然他自己不好,但一半也是太监和臣子教坏他的。”韦小宝道:“是,是。坏皇帝爱用坏太监和奸臣,好皇帝用的就是好太监和忠臣。”康熙微微摇头,说道:“那也不然。好皇帝身边,坏太监和奸臣也是有的,只不过皇帝倘若不胡涂,就算给人蒙蔽得一时,到后来终于能揭穿奸臣的阴险狡猾。”韦小宝道:“是,是。”一颗心不由得怦怦乱跳。

康熙问道:“毛东珠那贱人的奸夫,叫甚么名字啊?”韦小宝道:“他叫瘦头陀,真的名字叫甚么,奴才就不知道了。”康熙道:“他这样胖,象是一个肉球,怎么叫瘦头陀?”韦小宝道:“听说他本来是很高很瘦的,后来服了神龙教教主的毒药,便缩成一团,变成个矮胖子了。”康熙又问:“你怎知他跟毛东珠躲在慎太妃的轿中,胁迫太后送他们出宫?”韦小宝心念电转:“皇上先说我派人击毙反贼,救了太后,功劳很大。此刻又说他二人躲在太妃轿中,胁逼太后送他们出宫。那么归家三人行刺之事,皇上还不知道。不过归家三人这时逃走了也罢,给活捉了也罢,给打死也罢,终究是瞒不过的。我又怎么说才好?”康熙见他迟疑不答,问道:“怎么?有甚么忌讳的事吗?”韦小宝道:“不,不!奴才心里奇怪,怎么这两名反贼会坐在太妃的轿中,当真是想破了脑袋也想不通,还要请皇上开导。”康熙道:“我先问你,你怎知轿里坐的不是太妃,因而指挥侍卫袭击御轿?”韦小宝心想:“原来皇上还以为是宫中侍卫杀了瘦头陀和毛东珠,这件事终究是要揭穿的,我还是直说罢。”便道:“奴才罪该万死,皇上恕罪。”说着跪了下来。康熙皱眉道:“甚么事?”韦小宝道:“奴才奉皇上谕旨,将反逆毛东珠押去慈宁宫,经过御花园,忽然假山后面豁喇一响,跳出三个穿了侍卫和太监服色的人来,将奴才一把抓住,要我带他们来寻皇上。这三人的武功是极高的,奴才的手指都险些给他们捏断了。”说着提起左手,果然五根手指都瘀黑粗肿。康熙道:“他们寻我干甚么?”
He then went on to engage Trinket in a roundabout conversation about the dearth of honest ministers at Court, and the abundance of sycophants. Finally he brought up the subject of the Fake’Empress Dowager. ‘Who was that lover of hers?’ ‘He was always called Thin Dhuta’ replied Trinket. ‘I’ve never known his real name.’ ‘But he was so fat! He was as round as a meatball! Why Thin Dhuta?’ Trinket told him the story. ‘In the first place, how did you know he was in the First Consort’s palanquin, with the Fake’Empress Dowager?’ asked Kang Xi. ‘And then, why did you tell the guards to attack the chair and kill them both?’ It was now clear to Trinket that Kang Xi knew nothing about the Gui Trio and their part in this killing. He decided it was time to tell him-but without going into names or details (which might prove very awkward to explain away). He described how he had met the three would’be assassins in the garden, just after he had left the Old Whore with the Empress Dowager. Two of them were dressed as eunuchs, one of them as a guard. One of them grabbed me and squeezed my fingers so hard I thought they’d snap off!’ He held up the fingers of his left hand. They were still bruised and swollen. ‘They ‘wanted me to lead them to you, Majesty.’ ‘What did they want with me?’

韦小宝道:“这三人定是吴三桂派来的刺客,奴才就算给他们捏死了,也决计不肯带他们来犯驾的,正好……不,不是正好,是刚巧,刚巧太后和太妃鸾驾来到,这三个刺客胡里胡涂,以为太妃轿中坐的是皇上圣驾,就冲出来行凶。那是太后和皇上的洪福齐天,竟是反贼杀了反贼。那三个刺客这当儿不知是给众侍卫格毙了,还是擒获了,奴才这就去查明回奏。”康熙道:“三个刺客未必会胡里胡涂,多半是你指点的,是不是?你想与其刺客向我犯驾,不如去害太妃,他们只要一动手,宫中大乱,就伤我不到了,你这条小命也保住了,是不是?”韦小宝给康熙说穿了心事,知道抵赖不得,只有连连磕头。康熙道:“你指点刺客去危害太妃,本来是该当砍头的,总算你对我还有这么三分忠爱之心……”韦小宝忙道:“不是三分,是十分,一百分,一千分,一万分的忠爱之心。”康熙微笑道:“不见得罢?”韦小宝道:“见得,见得,大大的见得!”康熙伸足在他额头轻轻一踢,笑道:“他妈的,站起来罢。”韦小宝已吓得满头是汗,磕了个头站起。康熙笑道:“你立了三件大功,我本来想不出法子赏你,现下想到了。你指点刺客,犯上行凶,有不臣之心,我却也不来罚你。将功赎罪,咱们干折了罢。”韦小宝道:“好极,好极。好比皇上推牌九,前道是奴才赢了,后道是皇上赢了,大家扯直。皇上不吃我的,也不赔我的。”心想:“不升官就不升官。难道你还能封我做威武大将军、镇国公吗?就算封太师,也没甚么了不起。当年唐伯虎点秋香,华太师的两个儿子华大、华二是傻的。我韦太师生两个儿子韦大、韦二,也这么乱七八糟,可真倒了大霉啦。”
‘They wanted to kill you! They were sent by Satrap Wu. In the end, I was able to trick them into killing the Old Whore and her fat lover. Afterwards they got away. For all I know, the three of them are still at large in the Palace.’ ‘Wait a minute!’ exclaimed Kang Xi. ‘One thing at a time! If I understand you correctly, what happened was this. You decided CHAPTER 25 347 that rather than lead them to me, you would let them murder whoever was in my Consort’s chair’ Is that right?’ ‘Yes, Majesty.’ ‘For that decision alone, I should have your head off.’ Trinket was already on the ground, performing one kowtow after another. Kang Xi smiled. ‘Tamardy, man! Get up!’ Trinket was in a muck sweat, out of sheer terror. He kowtowed once more, and stood up. ‘As a matter of fact,’ said the still smiling Kang Xi, ‘you’ve helped me solve my dilemma. Your reward for your three meritorious acts is this’ I will forgive you for this one heinous crime!’ Kang Xi now reconstructed for Trinket’s benefit the course of events as he understood it’

康熙道:“这矮胖贼子,用心也当真奸险。他的相好给你抓住之后,难以夺回,料到你定会送进宫来,呈给太后发落,竟然铤而走险,又闯进慈宁宫去,犯上作乱,胁迫太后。这当儿宫中侍卫加了数倍,戒备森严,他再也不能如上次那样乘人不备,逾墙遁逃,他只盼坐在慎太妃轿中,由太后亲自陪到宫门口,就可双双逃走。他万万料想不到,鬼使神差,你竟会指点刺客去攻打太妃的鸾轿,将两名叛贼杀了。”韦小宝恍然大悟,说道:“原来如此。太后和皇上洪福齐天,果然半点也不错。”心想:“无怪我送老婊子去时,太后一副晦气脸孔,倒象我欠了她三白万两银子不还似的。原来那时瘦头陀早已躲在寝殿里,多半就藏在床上。瘦头陀在慈宁宫住过不少日子,熟门熟路,这张大床也不知睡过多少晚了,也真亏他想得出这条巧计来。不知他在太后寝殿中已等了多久?说不定有好几天了。啊哟,不好!瘦头陀和太后一男一女躲在房里,接连几天,不知干了甚么花样出来没有?五台山老皇爷头上的和尚帽,只怕有点儿绿油油了。”康熙自猜不到他心中的龌龊念头,笑道:“太后和我福气大,你的福气可也不小。”韦小宝道:“奴才本来是没有福气的,跟得皇上久了,就沾了些皇上的福气。”康熙哈哈大笑,问道:“那归辛树外号‘神拳无敌’,武功果然厉害得很么?”康熙在大笑声中问出这句话来,韦小宝耳边便如起了个霹雳,身子连晃,只觉两条腿中便似灌满了醋一般,又酸又软,说道:“这……这……”康熙冷笑道:“天父地母,反清复明!韦香主,你好大的胆子哪!”
‘That fat man must have succeeded in smuggling himself into the Empress Dowager’s apartment – I suppose he must have known his way around well enough, after all those earlier assignations of his with the Old Whore! Then he forced the Empress Dowager to help him escape with the Old Whore. It was just his bad luck that he ran into you and those three assassins.’ Trinket was thinking to himself’ ‘So that’s what was going on! He was already hiding in there when I took the Old Whore over. No wonder the New Whore gave me such a black look, as if I owed her a million taels or something! Old Meatball was probably in her bed, he was probably right there inside the curtains behind her! I wonder how long he’d been there’ Days, probably. I wonder if he got up to any hanky’panky with the New Whore’ Or perhaps he was just looking for one of the Sutras. Who knows!’ In the midst of these musings, Trinket suddenly became aware of Kang Xi speaking again. Tell me, that Old Gui, the Matchless Knight, is he really as great a fighter as they make him out to be?’ Trinket felt as if a thunderbolt had struck him right in the midriff. His legs melted under him, and he started wobbling dizzily from side to side. What didn’t the Emperor know’ Kang Xi was not through. ‘By Heaven my father and Earth my mother, I will overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming! Lodge Master Wei I think you owe me an explanation!’

韦小宝但觉天旋地转,脑海中乱成一团,第一个念头便想伸手去靴筒中拔匕首,但立即想起:“他甚么都知道了!既然问到这句话,就是翻牌跟我比大小。他武功比我高,我一剑刺他不死的。就算能杀了他,我也决计不杀!”当下更无迟疑,立即跪倒,叫道:“小桂子投降,请小玄子饶命!”这“小玄子”三字入耳,康熙心头登时涌起昔日和他比武玩耍的种种情事,不由得长叹一声,说道:“你……一直瞒得我好。”韦小宝磕头道∶“奴才虽然身在天地会,可是对皇上忠心耿耿,没做过半点对不起皇上的事。”康熙森然道:“你若有分毫反意,焉能容得你活到今日?”韦小宝听他口气有些松动,忙又磕头说道:“皇上鸟生鱼汤,赛过诸葛之亮。奴才尽忠为主,好似关云之长。”康熙忍俊不禁,心中暗骂:“他妈的,甚么诸葛之亮,关云之长?”只是在这要紧的当口,倘若稍假以词色,这小丑插科打诨,顺着杆儿爬上来,再也收服他不住,喝道:“你给我从头至尾,一一招来!只消有半句虚言,我立刻将你斩成狗肉之酱!”说到最后四字,嘴角边不由得露出笑意。韦小宝爬在地上,瞧不见他神色已和,但听语意严峻,忙磕头道:“是,是。皇上一切都已知道了,奴才怎敢再有丝毫瞒隐?”
Trinket’s first reaction was to reach for his dagger. But what was the point’ He would never succeed in killing Kang Xi. And besides, he didn’t want to. Instead, he fell to his knees and said abjectly’ ‘Misty! Laurel surrenders! He begs you to forgive him! You are the Great Sage Onion . . . .’ ‘I want a full confession from you,’ replied Kang Xi. The very mention of the old names Misty and Laurel had brought memories of their happy sparring days flooding back. And the old Sage Onion joke-Kang Xi could not help smiling. But at the same time he could not possibly allow Trinket to get away with it as easily as that. ‘Confess everything. One lie, and I’ll have you chopped up and fed to the dogs!’ ‘Yes, Majesty! Yes, Majesty!’ From where he was on the floor, Trinket could only hear Kang Xi’s severe tone of voice. He could not see the hint of a smile on his face. ‘Majesty, yes, I was with the Triads; but I never did anything against you. I swear! You seem to know everything anyway, so I had better tell you the whole story.’

当下将如何去康亲王府杀鳌拜而为天地会所掳,如何拜陈近南为师,如何被迫入会做了青木堂香主等情,一一照实说了,最后述说如何遇到归家三人,如何掷骰子输给归钟,如何绘图密奏,如何在慈宁花园为归二娘所擒,如何指引三人袭击太妃鸾轿以求皇帝得警等等,至于盗四十二章经等等要紧关节,自然略过不提。他说了这般长篇大论,居然谎言甚少而真话极多,一生之中算是破题儿第一遭了。康熙不住询问天地会的情形,韦小宝便也据实禀告。康熙听了一会,点了点头,说道:“五人分头一首诗,身上洪英无人知。”
And he did, starting with the day he had been kidnapped by the Triads from Prince Kang’s, after killing Oboi; how he’d become the Helmsman’s disciple, and then a Triad Lodge Master; and all the rest, ending with his recent encounter with the Gui Trio. He told Kang Xi how he’d rolled the dice, how Invalid Gui had won, how he’d drawn the ‘coded’ picture message, how he’d been dragged aside in the Empress Dowager’s garden by the old lady, and how he’d set them on the Consort’s palanquin in the hope of alerting the Emperor to the danger threatening him. The only thing he left out was the business of the eight copies of the Sutra in Forty’Two Sections. With that one important exception, he made a clean breast of it. It was probably the most truthful moment in Trinket’s long and confused career as the young Manchu Emperor’s friend. Kang Xi kept asking questions about the Triads. Trinket answered them all truthfully. Then the Emperor, to Trinket’s amazement, began reciting by heart lines that formed part of the Triad catechism’ The Five Fathers divided a verse of poetry; No one knew that the heroes had it on their person.

韦小宝一怔:“皇上连我会中兄弟相认的切口也知道了。”接着念道:“自此传得众兄弟,后来相认团圆时。”康熙道:“初进洪门结义兄,当天明誓表真心。”韦小宝道:“松柏二枝分左右,中节洪花结义亭。”康熙道:“忠义堂前兄弟在,城中点将百万兵。”韦小宝念道:“福德祠前来誓愿,反清复明我洪英。”按照天地会中规矩,他这两句诗一念完,对方便当自报姓名,述说所属堂口,在会中的职份,康熙却只微微一笑。韦小宝喜道:“原来皇上也是我会中兄弟,不知是甚么堂口?烧的是几炷香……”说到这里,立知自己胡涂透顶,他是大清皇帝,怎会来“反清复明”?连说:“打你这胡涂小子,打你这胡涂小子!”拍拍有声,轻轻打了自己两个嘴巴。
Trinket knew the response’ It was handed down among the Brothers, And when they meet, they know each other by this sign. Rang Xi: On entering the Triad Gate of Brotherhood, From that day forth, we swear to speak the Truth. Trinket: Pine and Fir stand to left and right of the Door; In the Centre, the Red Flower Pavilion of Brotherhood. Kang Xi: The Brothers stand before the Lodge of Loyalty; The Generals and Troops wait within the City. Trinket: Let us swear an oath by our Founding Fathers, To overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming. According to Triad ritual, this exchange established mutual trust and security, and led to a further exchange of identification’ personal name, Lodge affiliation, and position in the Triad hierarchy. Kang Xi merely smiled. ‘Why, Majesty!’ said a dazed Trinket. ‘I would never have guessed that you were a Triad Brother yourself! Which Lodge do you belong to?’ He suddenly realized what an idiot he was being. Of course the Emperor could not possibly belong to an organization whose principal goal was to overthrow the Emperor! ‘Stupid Trinket!’ he cried, giving himself a good slap in the face.

康熙站起身来,在殿上踱来踱去,说道:“你做的是我满洲的官儿,吃的是我大清的禄米,心中却存着反清复明的念头。若不是念着你有过一些微功,你便有一百颗脑袋,也早砍下来了。”韦小宝道:“是,是!皇上宽洪大量,奴才的脑袋才保得到今天。奴才即刻去退会,这天地会的香主说甚么也不干了。今后决不反清复明,专门反明复清。”康熙肚里暗暗好笑,骂道:“我大清又没亡国,要你来复甚么?满口子胡说!”韦小宝忙道:“是,是!奴才保定我主江山万万年。皇上要我复甚么,我就复甚么,要我反甚么,奴才就反甚么。”康熙低沉着声音,一字一字慢慢的说道:“好!我要你反天地会!”韦小宝道:“是,是!”心中暗暗叫苦,脸上不自禁的现出难色。康熙道:“你满嘴花言巧语,说甚么对我忠心耿耿,也不知是真是假。”
Kang Xi rose from this throne, and began pacing up and down the room again. ‘I should have you chopped into little pieces. All this time you’ve been wanting to overthrow me and all the Manchus, and restore the Ming!’ ‘Majesty! I owe everything to you! I owe you my life! It’s all thanks to you that I’ve not been chopped into little pieces! I’ll quit the Triads. From now on I’ll overthrow the Ming and restore the Manchus instead!’ ‘Silly fool! We rule the country! We don’t need to be restored! And as for the Ming, they don’t need to be overthrown-they already have been!’ ‘Well, I’ll do whatever you tell me to do, I’ll overthrow anyone’ Kang Xi nodded. This time, when he went on to speak, he spoke very quietly, pronouncing each syllable with great care. ‘Good. Then I’ll tell you who I want you to overthrow. The Triads.’ ‘Yes! Yes!’ cried Trinket. But one look at his tortured face was enough for Kang Xi to see how much he recoiled from the idea. ‘You’d say anything!’ muttered Kang Xi. ‘It’s all lies-‘

韦小宝忙道:“十足真金,十足真金,再真也没有了。”康熙道:“我细细查你,总算你对我还没甚么大逆不道的恶行。倘若你听我吩咐,这一次将天地会挑了,斩草除根,将一众叛逆杀得干干净净,那么将功赎罪,就赦了你的欺君大罪,说不定还赏赐些甚么给你。如你仍然狡猾欺诈,两面三刀,哼哼,难道我杀不了天地会的韦香主吗?”韦小宝只吓得全身冷汗直流,连说:“是,是。皇上要杀奴才,只不过是好比捏死一只蚂蚁。不过……不过皇上是鸟生鱼汤,不杀忠臣的。”康熙哼了一声,说道:“你是甚么忠臣了?你是大白脸奸臣。”韦小宝道:“皇上明鉴:奴才瞒了皇上,有些事情不说,那是有的。不过的的确确不是大白脸奸臣。董卓、曹操,我是决计不做的。”康熙道:“好!就算你不是大白脸奸臣,你是白鼻子小丑。”韦小宝得皇帝如此分派他这样一个角色,登时松了口气,忙道:“小丑就小丑罢,好比……好比时迁、朱光祖,也能给皇上立功。”康熙微微一笑,道:“哼,你总是硬要把自己说成好人,这样罢,你点齐兵马,去把天地会、沐王府、归辛树一干反贼,一古脑儿的都拿了来。若是走掉了一个,砍你一只手,走掉了四个,一双手一双脚都砍下来。要是走掉了五个,那再砍你的甚么?”韦小宝道:“这个……这个……奴才只好真的做太监了。”康熙忍不住哈哈大笑,骂道:“他妈的,你倒会打如意算盘。”韦小宝愁眉苦脸道:“皇上砍了我两只手两只脚,奴才多半是活不成了,脖子上这个脑袋,砍不砍也差不多。”心想:“他连沐王府也知道了,当真消息灵通。”
‘No, it’s the truth!’ cried Trinket. ‘The whole truth, nothing but the truth!’ There’s only one way to find out. Actions speak louder than words. I want those Triads destroyed, root and branch. I want them dead, every one of them. And I want you to do it. That’s how you can earn my forgiveness. That’s how you can make up for having lied to me all these years. And if I find you are still lying and playing tricks on me, I shall have no hesitation in killing you, Lodge Master Weil’ Trinket was in a cold sweat. ‘Surely you’d never kill me, Majesty’ I may have kept one or two things from you, but I’ve always been your devoted friend and loyal subject!’ ‘Devoted friend’ Loyal subject?’ Kang Xi smiled. ‘Wicked villain, more like!’ ‘Never wicked. Never, Majesty. Nor villain. I never meant you any harm.’ ‘Well, then, let’s settle for clown or fool, if you prefer. But don’t think you can talk me out of this. I have set my mind on it. The Triads must be broken. You can have as many soldiers as you like. I want you to bring them all in-the Triads, the Mu Family, the Guis- the lot of them! For every one of them that’s missing, I’ll cut off one of your hands. If four are missing, I’ll cut off both your hands and both your feet. Five missing and I’ll-what can I cut off then?’ ‘You’ll have to cut off my dingdong. I’ll just have to be a hot popping eunuch!’ Kang Xi could not help laughing out loud. ‘Tamardy! You think you’re so smart don’t you!’ Trinket was secretly thinking to himself’ ‘He knows everything^. He even knows about the Mu Family! He’s got spies everywhere!’

康熙伸手入袖,取出一张纸来,念道:“天地会总舵主陈近南,青木堂香主韦小宝,属下李力世、徐天川、玄贞道人、钱老本、高彦超、风际中等等;沐家的沐剑声、柳大洪、吴立身等等,三名进宫的刺客是归辛树、归二娘、归钟。一、二、三、四、五……一共是四十三名反贼,除了你自己暂且不算,一共四十二名。”韦小宝又即跪下,磕了两个头,说道:“皇上,这干人虽然说要反清复明,不过他们也没能反成功、复成功。让我去跟他们说,皇上上知天文,下知地理,过去未来,甚么都知道了。皇上说过大清江山万万年,那定然不错。反清是反不成的,大家不如散了伙罢。”
Kang Xi produced a sheet of paper from inside his Dragon Robe. ‘I have here a list of forty’three names.’ He proceeded to read them all out’ Chen Jinnan, Helmsman of the Triad Secret Society; Trinket Wei, Lodge Master of the Green Wood Lodge; Brothers Li Lishi and Xu Tianchuan, Father Obscurus, Butcher Qian, Gao Yanchao, Feng Jizhong; and many more Triad names to follow. Then he came to the Mu Family’ Mu Jiansheng, known as the Young Count; Liu Dahong, known as the Iron Dragon; Wu Lishen, known as the Shaker Lion. The list ended with the names of the three Guis. ‘If we remove your name from the list, that makes it forty’two. I want them all.’ Trinket fell to his knees. Several kowtows later, he spoke’ ‘Majesty, I know those men have sworn to overthrow you and your Manchus. But they haven’t succeeded. Just let me talk to them. I’ll tell them what a good Emperor you are, how wise and everything. I’ll persuade them to give up the struggle. Only don’t kill them.’

康熙伸手在桌上重重一拍,厉声道:“你是一意抗命,不肯去捉拿反贼了?”韦小宝心想:“江湖上好汉,义气为重。我如把师父他们都捉了来,皇上一定砍他们的头。这样一来,韦小宝出卖朋友,变成吴三桂啦。唉,当时甚么人不好冒充,偏偏去冒充小桂子。小桂子,小桂子,可不是吴三桂的小儿子吗?我这伯爵大人也不要做了,想法子通知师父他们大家逃走,滚他妈的臭鸭蛋罢。”康熙见他不答,心中更怒,喝道:“到底怎样?你难道不知自己犯了大罪?我给了你改过自新、将功赎罪的良机,却还在跟我讨价还价?”韦小宝道:“皇上,他们要来害你,我拚命阻挡,奴才对你是讲义气的。皇上要去拿他们,奴才夹在中间,难以做人,只好向你求情,那也是讲义气。”康熙怒道:“你心中向着反贼,那是顺逆不分,目无君上,还说讲义气?”顿了一顿,说道:“你救过我性命,救过父皇,救过太后,今日我如杀了你,你心中定然不服,要说我对你不讲义气,是不是?”到此地步,韦小宝索性硬了头皮,说道:“是的。从前皇上答应过的,奴才就算做错了事,皇上也饶我性命。万岁爷的金口,说了可不能反悔。”康熙道:“好啦,你倒深谋远虑,早就伏下了这一着棋子,哼,其心可诛。”韦小宝不懂“其心可诛”这四字是甚么意思,料想决不是好话,自从识得康熙以来,从没见过他发这样大的脾气,心想:“我这颗脑袋,那是砍下了一大半啦。小皇帝的脾气,向他求情也没有用,只有跟他讲理。”
Kang Xi brought his hand down heavily on the desk in front of him. ‘Are you refusing to do what I have asked you to do?’ Trinket’s mind was in absolute turmoil. ‘How can I possibly betray my friends?’ he was thinking to himself. The Emperor will kill them for sure. Somehow I’ve got to get word to the Helmsman, and give them a chance to escape.’ (The previous evening he had been worrying how to save his Manchu friend from the Triads and their allies; now he was desperately thinking of a way to save his Triad friends from the Manchus. Was there no end to it’) Kang Xi was beginning to get angry. ‘What are you waiting for’ Don’t you see that this is your only chance to redeem yourself?’ ‘Yes, but don’t you see, Majesty, that I’m only trying to be loyal to all of my friends’ You’re my friend. I tried to be loyal to you, I tried to stop them from killing you. But they’re my friends too. Can’t you see, you are putting me in a very difficult position.’ (Actually, as they both knew only too well, it was Trinket, and Trinket alone, who had put himself in his present untenable position, by going along with a series of mutually contradictory fictions, out of little more than a well’developed sense of self’preservation.) ‘How can you talk about being loyal’ said Kang Xi, ‘when you spend your life thinking of ways to act against your Emperor?’ Trinket had never seen Kang Xi as angry as this. ‘Oh dear!’ he mused to himself. ‘Looks like the loyalty argument won’t work. Better try a different tack.’

说道:“皇上,我拜过你为师,你答应收我为徒弟的。那陈近南,也是我的师父。我如心存害你,那是欺师灭祖。我如去害那个师父,也是欺师灭祖。再说……再说,皇帝砍奴才的脑袋,当然稀松平常。可是师父砍徒弟的脑袋,却有点儿不大对头了。”康熙心想:“收他为徒的戏言,当时确是说过的。这小子恃宠而骄,无法无天,居然将我跟天地会的匪首相提并论,实在胡闹之至……”正想到这里,忽听得远处隐隐人声喧哗,乒乒乓乓的,又有兵刃相交之声。韦小宝跳起身来,说道:“好像有刺客。师父请坐着别动,让徒儿挡在你身前。”康熙哼了一声,心想:“这小子便有千般不是,对我毕竟有忠爱之心。”说道:“你以后再也不可叫我师父。你不守本门的门规,本师父将你开革了。”说着不禁有些好笑。只听得脚步声响,有数人奔到殿门外,停住不动。韦小宝奔到殿门之后,立刻拿起门闩上了闩,这是性命攸关的大事,手脚之快,无与伦比,喝道:“甚么人?”
‘Majesty, remember’ you are my Shifu! How can a Shifu kill his own disciple?’ Kang Xi was just wondering how to reply to this preposterous plea (as a matter of fact, he reflected, he had only ever joked about being Trinket’s Shifu-the whole idea was ridiculous!), when he heard a confused hubbub of voices outside, and the sound of weapons clashing. Trinket leapt to his feet. ‘That may be the assassins now! Shifu, don’t move! Stay where you are! I will protect you!’ ‘You are never to call me Shifu again!’ muttered KangXi. ‘From this moment I disown you!’ But secretly he was thinking to himself that Trinket was probably as loyal to him as any disciple to his Shifu, and most likely would lay down his life for him. They heard footsteps. It sounded as if a large number of people had come running as far as the entrance of the hall, and were now waiting outside. Trinket ran to the door and quickly bolted it from the inside. ‘Who’s there?’ he called out.

外边有人大声道:“启奏皇上:宫中闯进来三名刺客,内班宿卫已团团围住,不久便可擒获。”韦小宝心道:“归家三人终于逃不出去。”喝道:“皇上知道了。即速加调一百名侍卫,到养心殿前后护驾,屋顶上也得站三十名。”殿外的侍卫首领应命而去。康熙心想:“他倒想得周到。那日在五台山遇险,那白衣尼姑从屋顶破瓦而下,果是难以防备,幸亏这小子奋不顾身的在我身前挡了一剑。”过了一会,吆喝声渐轻,但不久兵刃撞击又响了起来。康熙皱起眉头,说道:“连三名刺客也拿不住。倘若来的是三百名、三千名,那怎么办?”韦小宝道:“皇上不用烦恼。像归辛树这等脚色,世上是很少的,最多也不过四五个罢了。”再过一会,只听得脚步声响,又有刀剑响动,加调的内班宿卫到了殿外;又听得殿顶四周屋瓦发出响声,上高的宿卫跃上了殿顶,众卫士知道皇帝便在殿内,都把守在殿檐殿角,不敢走到屋顶,否则站在皇帝头顶,那可是大大的不敬。康熙知道单是养心殿周遭,便至少有四五百名侍卫把守,决计无虞,不再理会刺客,说道:“你瞧瞧这是甚么?”从衣袖内又抽出一张纸来,铺在桌上。
‘Inform His Majesty that three intruders have been sighted in the Palace grounds!’ It was the loud voice of a soldier. ‘The Guard have them surrounded, and we expect to capture them any minute!’ to himselt. ‘His Majesty has been informed!’ he called back, ‘i another hundred guards, and post them in front of the Hall of Nurturing the Mind, and behind it. And post twenty or thirty men up on the roof.’ The guard went at once to execute these commands. So far as he was concerned, Lord Wei was still a senior officer in the Palace Guard, and his orders were to be obeyed. Minutes later they heard the sound of men taking up their positions on the roof directly above them, and large numbers of additional guards arriving outside. Kang Xi looked on, reflecting on how carefully Trinket was taking everything in hand, how devotedly and effectively he was seeing to his Emperor’s personal safety-just as he had on Mount Wutai, when the White Nun had leapt down through the roof. For the time being he was safe from the assassins. He took another sheet of paper from inside his gown and handed it to Trinket’ ‘Look at this. What do you think it is?’

韦小宝走近一看,见是一幅图画,中间画的是一座大屋,屋前有旗杆石狮,有些像是自己的伯爵府;屋子四周排列着十几门大炮,炮口都对准了大屋。再仔细看时,那屋子越看越像是自己的屋子。康熙道:“你认得这屋子吗?”韦小宝道:“倒有点儿像奴才的狗窝。”康熙道:“你认得就好。”指着图中门额上的四字,问道:“这‘忠勇伯府’四字,都认得吗?”韦小宝听得果然便是自己的屋子,又不禁冷汗直冒。自己住处四周排列了这许多大炮,自然大事不妙。他曾亲眼见到两个外国鬼子汤若望、南怀仁操炮,大炮一发,轰的一声,只炸得火焰冲天,泥石溅起十几丈高,自己身上就算穿了一百件护身宝衣,那也是炸成狗肉之酱了,想到大炮轰击之威,不由得身子打战。
Trinket looked. It was a picture of a large building, with two stone lions in front of it, and a flagpole. It looked rather like his house. There were also a dozen cannon in the picture at various sites all around the building, all clearly aimed directly at it. As he studied it a little more carefully, there was no doubt left in his mind. It was definitely his house. ‘Well?’ ‘It looks a bit like my place.’ ‘You’re absolutely right.’ Trinket shivered. Cannon all round his house could only mean one thing. He’d watched the two foreigners firing their cannon. He’d heard the terrible noise they made, he’d seen the smoke and the flames, the bits of stone and mortar sent flying everywhere into the air. Even with a hundred magic waistcoats he wouldn’t stand a chance. He’d be blown into pieces, made into minced meat, and so would all his friends. He started trembling violently at the very thought of it.

康熙缓缓的道:“今儿晚上,你们天地会、云南沐家、华山派姓归的,还有王屋派门下司徒鹤一干人,都要在你家聚会。我这十二门大炮,这会儿已在你屋子四周的民房中架好,炮弹火药也早就上好了,只消拉开窗子,露出炮口,一点药线,只怕没一个反贼能逃得了性命。就算大炮轰不死,逃了出来,围在外面的几队前锋营兵马,总也不能吃饭不管事。刚才你见到前锋营统领阿济赤了罢?他已去点兵预备动手了。前锋营向来跟你统带的骁骑营不大和睦,未必肯放你走罢?”韦小宝颤声道:“皇上甚么都算到了,此刻对奴才明言,就是饶了奴才一条性命。奴才以前的一点儿微功,就此将功折罪,都折得干干净净,半点儿也不剩了。”康熙微微一笑,道:“你明白就好,好比咱两人赌牌九,你先赢了不少银子,可是在一注之中都输还了给我,以前赢的,一下子都吐了出来,从此没了输赢。我们如要再玩,就得从头来过。”韦小宝吁了一口气,说道:“真正多谢皇上龙恩,奴才今后只专心给皇上当差,别说天地会,就算是天九会的香主,奴才也不干了。”
‘I know all about tonight’s meeting,’ said Kang Xi. ‘The Triads, the Mu Family, the Guis of the Mount Hua School, even Situ He from the Wang Wu Clan-they’ll all be there, won’t they, in your house’ These twelve cannon of mine are all carefully positioned in various buildings around yours. They’re all primed and ready to fire. All my men need to do is open a few windows, poke the muzzles out, and light the fuses. And bang! None of your friends will come out alive. And if one of them did, I’ve got men stationed all round the place. I think you ran into Colonel Ajige just now. He’s in charge of the whole operation. It’s the Vanguard men-and they don’t get on too well with your Valiants, so don’t imagine you can talk them into doing you any favours!’

心中暗暗着急:“师父他们约好了今晚在我屋里聚会,怎生通知他们别去才好?”又道:“皇上吩咐我去擒拿这一干反贼,只不过是试试奴才的心,其实皇上早就神机妙算,甚么甚么之中,甚么千里之外。”只听得殿门外有人朗声说道:“回皇上:反贼拿到!”康熙脸有喜色,喝道:“带进来!”韦小宝道:“是!”转身过去拔了门闩,打开殿门。数十名侍卫拥了归家三人进来,齐喝:“叩见皇上,下跪!”数十名侍卫一齐跪倒。归辛树、归二娘、归钟三人满身血污,到处是伤,却昂然直立。三人都给粗索绑住了,身畔各有两名侍卫牵住。侍卫的领班喝道:“下跪!下跪!”归家三人哪去理睬。只听得殿上嗒嗒声响,归家三人和受伤的侍卫身上鲜血不住下滴。归二娘怒目瞪视韦小宝,喝道:“小汉奸,你……你这臭贼!”
Trinket was frantically trying to think of a way of getting word to the Helmsman and his friends, to warn them not to go there this evening, when a voice called from outside’ ‘Majesty, we’ve caught them!’ Kang Xi looked delighted and told Trinket to let them in. ‘Certainly, Majesty,’ Trinket answered, and went to unbolt the door. The Gui Trio were brought in under armed escort. There must have been twenty or thirty guards surrounding them. ‘Kowtow to His Majesty! On your knees!’ shouted one of the guards. All the guards immediately fell to their knees. The Guis were badly wounded, and spattered with blood from head to foot. But they stood defiantly upright. They were all three tightly bound, and each was being led on a tether by two armed guards. ‘On your knees! You too!’ bawled the captain of the guard. The Guis took not the slightest notice. Blood was dripping from them, as it was from the guards wounded in the struggle. Old Lady Gui was glaring at Trinket. ‘Little traitor!’ she hissed.

韦小宝眼见三人的惨状,心中不禁难过,任由她辱骂,也不回答。康熙点点头,说道:“神拳无敌归辛树,却原来是这么个糟老头儿!咱们的人死伤了多少?”侍卫领班道:“回皇上:反贼凶悍之极,侍卫殉职的三十多人,伤了四十来人。”康熙“嘿”的一声,摆了摆手,心中暗赞:“了不起!“侍卫领班吩咐手下将三人带出。突然间归辛树大喝一声,运起内力,右肩向身旁侍卫一撞。那侍卫“啊”的一声大叫,身子飞了出去,脑袋撞在墙上,登时毙命。归辛树抓住绑在归钟身上的绳索,一绷一扯,拍的一声,绳索立断,抓住他身子,喝道:“孩儿快走,我和妈妈随后便来。”向外一送,归钟便从殿门口飞了出去。便在此时,归氏夫妇双双跃起,向康熙扑将过去。
Trinket felt sorry for them, the terrible state they were in. He said nothing. Kang Xi nodded. ‘So this wretched old creature is Gui the Matchless Knight! How many of our men did he kill?’ ‘Majesty!’ answered the captain. ‘They fought fiercely! Thirty of our men met their deaths, and forty more were wounded!’ Kang Xi was astounded. He reflected silently to himself that they must be extraordinary fighters, these three. He waved them away, and the captain began to escort them outside. At that very instant, Old Gui summoned up a desperate surge of Inner Force, and swung his right shoulder sharply into the side of one of the guards beside him. The guard gave a cry of pain, and went shooting through the air. His head smacked into the wall and he fell dead to the ground. Old Gui then grabbed hold of the rope binding his son, worked it loose, and gave it a forceful tug. It broke in two. He held his son in his arms for a second, and cried’ ‘Go boy! Escape now! Your mother and I will follow later!’ He literally threw his son out through the door. And in that same instant, he and Old Lady Gui staggered forwards, bound as they were, in an attempt to pounce on Kang Xi. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

韦小宝见变故斗生,大惊之下,抢上去一把抱住了康熙,滚到了桌子底下,自己背脊向外,护住康熙。只听得拍拍两声响,跟着便有几名侍卫抢过,扶起康熙和韦小宝。看归氏夫妇时,只见均已倒在血泊之中,背上插了七八柄刀剑,眼见是不活了。归辛树力杀数十名侍卫后,身受重伤,最后运起内力,扯断了儿子身上的绑缚,立即向康熙扑去。归二娘明白丈夫的用意,一来只盼临死一击,能伤了鞑子皇帝的性命,二来好让儿子在混乱之中脱逃。两人手脚都为绳索牢牢捆缚,再也无力挣断,还是一齐跃起,向康熙冲击。但两人力战之余,已然油尽灯干,都是身在半空,便即狂喷鲜血,再也支持不住,摔下地来。众侍卫就算不再砍斫,两人也早毙命了。康熙惊魂稍定,皱眉道:“拉出去,拉出去。”侍卫齐声答应,正要抬出二人尸首,突然殿门口人影一晃,窜进一个人来,身法奇快,扑在归氏夫妇的尸身上,大叫:“妈,爹!”
Trinket was absolutely flabbergasted by this sudden turn of events. He dashed forward, threw his arms around Kang Xi, and bundled him under the desk, at the same time protecting him with his own body. From beneath the desk they heard a series of heavy thuds. Seconds later, Trinket poked his head out, and saw the Old Guis lying in a pool of blood, seven or eight swords driven deep into their backs. They looked extremely dead. It had been a desperate attempt, partly to create a diversion during which their son would have some chance of escape, partly to use their last remaining drop of energy in an assault on the Emperor’s life. But the day’s fighting had already taken its toll on their strength, and besides, they were bound hand and foot. All they could do was stagger forward and then collapse on the ground spitting blood. They were easy work for the guards. Kang Xi stood up and took a deep breath. ‘Carry them out!’ he said. The guards were about to lift the bodies from the ground, when a figure flashed in through the door, darting forward with lightning speed and throwing itself on the old couple. ‘Mum! Dad!’

正是归钟。数名侍卫兵刃斫将下去,归钟竟不知闪避,兵刃尽数中在他身上,只听他喘气道:“妈,你……你不陪着我怎么办?我不认得路……”咳嗽两声,垂首而死。他一生和母亲寸步不离,事事由母亲安排照料,此刻离开了父母,竟是手足无措,虽然逃出了养心殿,终究还是回来依附父母身畔。侍卫总管多隆奔进殿来,跪下道:“回皇上:宫里刺客已全部……全部……肃清……”见到殿上满地是血,心下惶恐,磕头道:“刺客惊了圣驾,奴才……奴才该死!”康熙适才给韦小宝这么一抱一滚,虽然甚是狼狈,有损尊严,但此人舍命护驾,忠君之心却确然无疑,对多隆道:“外面还有人要行刺韦小宝,你要好好保护他,不得离开寸步,更加不能让他出宫。明日早晨,再另听吩咐。”多隆忙应道:“是,是。奴才尽心保护韦都统。”
It was Invalid Gui. The guards hacked at him where he lay, and he seemed quite incapable of evading their blows. Each sword found its way deep into his flesh. ‘Mum!’ he gasped. ‘I can’t manage on my own! I don’t know where to go!’ All his life Invalid Gui had depended on his parents for everything. He had managed to escape from the Hall for Nurturing the Mind, only to realize that he simply could not manage without them. He had come back to find them and be with them. He coughed twice, then his head slumped forward. He was dead. Dolong, Commander of the Guard, came hurrying through the doorway of the hall and fell to his knees before Kang Xi. ‘Majesty, the intruders have all been-‘ He suddenly stopped, as he looked up and caught sight of the carnage all around him. Kang Xi, who had himself only just emerged from under the desk, reflected that once again he owed his life to Trinket-however unorthodox and lacking in dignity his methods of protection may have been. ‘Colonel Dolong, I want you personally to look after Lord Wei. He may be in great danger. Tomorrow morning, I will issue fresh instructions.’ ‘Yes, Majesty.’

韦小宝暗暗叫苦:“皇上今晚要炮轰天地会,怕我通风报讯,吩咐多隆看住我。”康熙走到殿门口,又想:“小桂子狡狯得紧,多隆这老粗不是他对手。”转头道:“多隆,你多派人手,紧紧跟着韦小宝,不能让他跟人说话,也不能让他传递甚么东西出宫。总而言之,局势危险,你就当他是钦犯办好了。”多隆应道:“是,是。皇上恩待臣下,无微不至。”只道皇上爱惜韦小宝,不让刺客有危害他的机会。韦小宝道:“皇上恩典,奴才粉身碎骨也难以报答。”心知皇帝这么说,是顾住自己面子,日后还有用得着自己的地方。康熙微微一笑,说道:“你又赢了一注。咱们打从明儿起再来玩过罢。你那只金饭碗,可得牢牢捧住,别打烂了!”说着出了殿门。康熙这两句话,自然只有韦小宝明白。适才自己抱住康熙护驾,他又算自己立了一功。今晚杀了师父陈近南等一干人后,自己跟天地会再不相干,皇帝又会重用。那只金饭碗上刻着“公忠体国”四字,皇帝是要自己对他忠心耿耿,不得再有二心。
Trinket realized that this measure was not so much for his own protection, as to prevent him from interfering with Kang Xi’s plans to bombard Trinket’s palace that very evening. Kang Xi walked over to Dolong. ‘Lord Wei is to be kept under close guard. He is in need of protection. He is to be allowed to speak to no one, he must not be allowed to send anything out of the Palace. You must understand, the situation is extremely dangerous at present. In short, Lord Wei should be treated as if he were a prisoner.’ Kang Xi had no illusions about Dolong’s abilities. He was a good soldier, but no match for Trinket’s cunning. ‘Yes, Majesty,’ replied the trusty Dolong. ‘You can count on me in this matter.’ Trinket went through the motions of thanking Kang Xi for his deep concern, though in his own mind he knew that this was all for show. Kang Xi knew that he might have some use for Trinket again one day, and was therefore saving him some ‘face’. In reality there was no question about it. He was under arrest.

Escape Plans A, B, & C

韦小宝想到师父和天地会中一干兄弟血肉横飞的惨状,自己就算再加官进爵,于心如何能安?心道:“做人不讲义气,不算乌龟王八蛋算甚么?”寻思:“皇上消息这么灵通,是哪个王八蛋跟他说的?今儿早我第一次见到皇上,他对我好得很,说要派我去打胜仗,盼望我拿到吴三桂,封我为平西王。那时候皇上一定还不知道天地会韦香主的事。他得知讯息,是我押了老婊子去呈给太后这当口。却是哪个狗贼通风报信?哼,多半是沐王府的人,要不然是王屋派司徒鹤的手下。否则我偷盗四十二章经,在神龙教做白龙使这些事,皇上又怎么不知道?”多隆见他愁眉苦脸,神情恍惚,拍拍他肩膀,笑道:“韦兄弟,皇上这般宠爱你,真不知你前世是几生修来的?朝里不论哪一位亲王、贝勒、将军、大臣,皇上从来不曾派御前侍卫保护过他。大家都说,韦都统不到二十岁,就会封公封王了。你不用担心,只要不出宫门一步,反贼就有千军万马,也伤不到你一根寒毛。”
One thing Trinket knew for sure. He could not simply sit back and let his friends be blown to smithereens. That would be to abandon any claim whatsoever to the River and Lake code of honour. That would be to sink to the very depths of turtle behaviour. One thing was puzzling. How had Kang Xi suddenly become so well informed’ He seemed to know everything all of a sudden. And yet earlier in the day, when they had been talking about the war, he had seemed to know nothing about Trinket’s various secrets. Who could it have been that had betrayed him’ Dolong could see that his young charge was deep in thought and (being the thick soldier that he was) jumped immediately to the wrong conclusion. He slapped Trinket on the back. ‘Set your mind at rest, my friend! No one could be better protected than you are! See how His Majesty cares for you! We’ll make sure no one can get anywhere near you, don’t you worry!’

韦小宝只有苦笑,说道:“皇上恩德,天高地厚。咱们做奴才的,自该尽心竭力,报答皇上的恩典。”眼见数十名侍卫站在前后左右,要给天地会兄弟传个信,那真是千难万难,心想:“甚么封王封公,老子是不想了。宁可小皇帝在我屁股上踢一脚,大喝一声:‘滚<脏话>臭鸭蛋!从此不许你再见我的面。’这般保护,可真的保了我的老命啦。”多隆道:“韦兄弟,皇上吩咐你不可随便走动,是到你从前的屋子去歇歇呢,还是去侍卫班房,大伙儿陪你耍几手?”他知跟韦小宝掷骰子、推牌九,最能投其所好。
‘Exactly my problem!’ thought Trinket bitterly to himself, managing to force a smile and make a few polite remarks about the Emperor’s infinite consideration. ‘I’ll never get a message through to my friends now, with all these great hulking brutes standing around me all the time! (There must have been between thirty and forty guards visibly monitoring his every move.) I don’t want to be protected! It’s the last thing I want to be! I’d rather Kang Xi booted me up the bum, and screamed at me, and said “Get out! Scram! Get the tamardy out of here, you smelly piece of pickled shit-I never ever want to see you again!”‘ ‘My friend!’ said the ever jovial and well’intentioned Dolong. ‘My instructions are that you are not to wander around the Palace. You’ll have to stay put somewhere. Where’s it going to be’ Your old quarters’ Or in one of the guardrooms’ We could have a round of cards or something?’ He was trying to please.

韦小宝突然心念一动,说道:“太后吩咐我有一件要紧事情,须得立即办妥,请多大哥一起去罢。”多隆脸有难色,道:“太后交下来的差使,当然立刻得办,不过……不过……皇上严旨,要韦兄弟千万不要出宫……”韦小宝笑道:“这是在宫里办的事儿,多大哥不必担心。”多隆当即放心,笑道:“只要不出宫门,那便百无禁忌。”韦小宝吩咐侍卫,将慎太妃的鸾轿立刻抬到神武门之西的火烧场去,说道:“有谁打开了轿帘,太后吩咐立刻砍了脑袋。”刺客袭击太妃鸾轿之事,多隆和众侍卫均已知悉,虽不明其中真相,却均知是太后的一件隐事,一直惴惴不安,听韦小宝说要抬去火烧场焚化,那是去了一个天大的祸胎,各人心头都放下了一块大石。
Meanwhile the embryo of a plan was forming itself in Trinket’s wily little mind. ‘Friend Dolong,’ he said (after all, they had known each other now for a year or two, even if his main gambling and carousing friends in the guards were Dolong’s juniors, Captains Zhang and Zhao), ‘I’ve just remembered that I promised to do something for Her Majesty the Empress Dowager.’ Dolong looked dubious. ‘His Majesty’s instructions were very clear. You’re not to leave the Palace on any account.’ ‘Don’t worry. This doesn’t involve my leaving the Palace.’ Trinket went on to instruct a number of the guards to carry the First Consort’s palanquin to the Palace burning’ground west of the Gate of the Divine Warrior. ‘Her Majesty’s orders are very precise. No one is to look inside the palanquin. Anyone looking inside will be immediately executed.’ Dolong and the guards all knew about the assassins’ attack on the Consort’s palanquin earlier in the day. They also knew that the Empress Dowager had (for whatever reason) cast a thick veil of secrecy over the whole affair. They were only too glad to hear that the palanquin and its contents were to be incinerated. It would be one less murky mystery.

当下多隆随着韦小宝,押了鸾轿去火烧场,一路之上,轿中兀自滴出血来。至于轿中死人是谁,自然无人敢多问半句。到得火烧场,苏拉杂役堆起柴枝,围在鸾轿四周烧了起来。韦小宝捡根木条,拿焦炭画了只雀儿,双手拱了木条,对着轿子喃喃祝告:“瘦头陀、老婊子,你们在世上做不成夫妻,到阴世去做千年万年的夫妻罢。杀死你们的归家三位,这当儿也已死了。你们前脚走,他们后脚跟来。倘若在奈何桥上、望乡台边碰到,大伙儿亲近亲近罢。”
As they carried the palanquin through the Palace grounds, blood continued to ooze from between the wooden panels of the floor. No one even dared to ask whose blood it was. Dolong supervised the cortege, and when they reached the burning’ground, various Palace menials (sula they were known as in Manchu) were deputed to build a pyre, and the palanquin and its unknown contents were committed to the flames. As Trinket watched the mortal remains of Thin Dhuta and the Old Whore turn to ash, he picked a piece of wood from the ground and began casually drawing the shape of a bird on it, using a charred stick. Then he held it in both hands and, gazing at the blazing palanquin, mumbled to himself’ Thin Dhuta, Old Whore, in this life you never had the good fortune to be man and wife. Now, in the Dark World to which you are travelling, you can be together for ever and a day. That Turtle Trio who actually killed you-they’re on their way there too. They’ll only be a few steps behind you. You’ll probably meet up somewhere on the way, on the Bridge of Woe, or in the Temple of Memory.’

多隆等见他嘴唇微动,料想是祝告死者阴魂早得超生,只见他搬起几块石子,堆成一个小堆,将木条插入,便如是一炷香相似,那料到是他和陶红英通传消息的记号?
Colonel Dolong assumed that his young charge was paying his last respects to the spirit (or spirits) of the departed (whoever he, she, or they might be). He watched Trinket make a little heap of stones, and place the piece of wood with the drawing of the bird in the middle of the heap. A touching act of homage. What Dolong did not know was that this was the old signal agreed between Trinket and his ‘Auntie’, Tao Hongying, the former maid of the Ming Princess Royal (alias the one’armed White Nun). Auntie Tao had been hiding in the Palace all these years, waiting for a chance to avenge the death of the last Ming Emperor. She had saved Trinket on a previous occasion. Perhaps she could help him again now.

眼见轿子和尸体都烧成了焦炭,韦小宝回到自己从前的住处,早有奉承他的太监过来打扫干净,送上酒菜点心。韦小宝给了赏钱,和多隆及侍卫用了些,说道:“多大哥,你们各位请随便宽坐。兄弟昨晚整晚给皇上办事,实在倦得很了。”多隆道:“兄弟不用客气,快请去睡,做哥哥的给你保驾。”韦小宝道:“那真是一千个、一万个不敢当。多大哥,你想要皇上赏你甚么?你跟我说了,兄弟记在心里,见到皇上高兴之时,帮你求求,只怕有八分能成。”多隆大喜,道:“韦兄弟肯代我求皇上,那还有不成的吗?”韦小宝道:“多大哥的事,便是兄弟自己的事,那有不出力之理?”多隆笑道:“做哥哥的在京里当差,有些儿腻了,就是想到外省去调剂调剂。”韦小宝一拍大腿,笑道:“大哥说得不差,在北京城里,高过咱们的王公大官可不知有多少,实在显不出威风,只要一出京,那可自由自在得很了。就是要几两银子使使,只须这么咳嗽一声,人家立刻就乖乖的双手捧了上来。”两人相对大笑。韦小宝回到房中,斜倚在床上,心想:“多大哥得了皇上旨意,看得我好紧,我要出宫去给师父报讯,那决计办不到。待会陶姑姑到来,自可请她去传信,就怕她来得太晚,倘若她半夜三更才来相会,那边大炮已经轰了出去,这便如何是好?”出了一会,寻思:“眼下只有想个法子,派些侍卫去打草惊蛇。”
When there was nothing remaining of the palanquin but ash, Trinket left the burning’ground and made his way to his old quarters. The eunuchs had given the place a thorough cleaning, and an assortment of wine and snacks had been set out for him. By now evening was beginning to draw in. Trinket began to fret that Auntie Tao might arrive too late, or might not see his ‘signal’ at all. It was imperative that he got a message to his friends, or they would share the palanquin’s fate’ there would be nothing left of them in the morning but ashes. And the trusty Dolong just wouldn’t go away. Trinket needed badly to come up with a cunning (and foolproof) plan.

计较已定,合眼睡了一个多时辰,醒来时见日影稍斜,已过未时,走出房去,问多隆道:“多大哥,你可知那批要向我下手的反贼,是甚么来头?”多隆道:“这可不知道了。”韦小宝道:“一批是天地会,一批是沐王府的。”多隆伸了伸舌头,道:“这两伙反贼都很厉害,怪不得皇上这么担心。”韦小宝道:“我想在宫里躲得了一日,躲不得一世。今天虽有多大哥保护,但反贼不除,总是后患无穷。”多隆道:“皇上明日召见,必有妙策,韦兄弟倒也不必担心”。韦小宝道:“是。不瞒大哥说,兄弟家里,有几个如花如玉的小妞儿,兄弟很是喜爱。看来今晚反贼会到我家里行刺,他们害不到兄弟,多半要将这几个小妞儿杀了,那……那是可惜得很。”多隆笑着点了点头,想起那日韦小宝要自己装模装样的跟郑克塽为难,便是为了一个小美人儿,这个小兄弟风流好色,年纪虽小,家中定已收罗了不少美貌姬妾,便道:“这个容易,我便派人到兄弟府上去保护。”韦小宝大喜,拱手称谢,说道:“兄弟家里的小妞儿,我最宠爱的共有三人,一个叫双儿,一个叫曾柔,还有一个叫……叫剑屏(心想若是说出沐剑屏这个“沐”字来,只怕引起疑心),相貌都是挺不错的,兄弟实在放心不下。请大哥这就派人去保护,跟她们说,今晚有天地会和沐家刺客到来,要她们赶快躲了出来。最好大哥多派些人去,守在兄弟家里,刺客到来,正好一古脑儿抓他奶奶的。哪一位兄弟出了力的,自当重重酬谢。”多隆一拍胸膛,笑道:“这件事容易办。是韦伯爵府上的事,哪一个不拚命向前?”当即吩咐侍卫领班,命他出去派人。
A short nap, and he was up again and talking to Dolong. The cunning plan was emerging in his mind. ‘Dolong, old friend, I’m sure I’m safe enough in here, with all you lot looking after me so well. But there’s one thing I can’t help worrying about, with all these nasty Triads and Mu Family people wandering around after me everywhere.’ ‘What would that be?’ enquired the colonel politely. ‘Well, it’s a bit delicate. It’s to do with women, actually. I’m just worried that once they realize they can’t get their hands on me, these people might try something on my womenfolk. There are some very pretty ones down at my place, I can tell you!’ Trinket was relying on the man-to-man factor. And Dolong had no reason to doubt the truth of what he was saying. The young philanderer Lord Wei had long left his earlier identity as the eunuch Laurel behind him, and now had quite a reputation in Palace circles for his amorous conquests. ‘I wonder,’ Trinket continued, ‘if you could possibly send some men over to my place, to keep an eye on them for me?’ ‘Of course, my dear chap! Nothing could be simpler!’

众侍卫都知韦小宝出手豪阔,平时没事,也往往千儿八百的打赏,这一次去保护他的宠姬爱妾,那更是厚厚的赏赐了,当下尽皆欣然奉命,轮不到的不免唉声叹气,抱怨运气欠佳。韦小宝心下稍慰,暗想:“双儿她们听了众侍卫的言语,说是宫里派人来保护,等候捉拿天地会和沐王府的刺客,自会通知我师父他们躲避。但若我师父他们倒躲开了,双儿、曾姑娘、小郡主三个却给大炮轰死,那可糟糕!不过大队御前侍卫在我屋里,外面的炮手一定不会胡乱开炮。”
Dolong knew only too well that his men would compete eagerly to go on this particular mission, knowing as they did Lord Wei’s other reputation-for generosity when it came to handing out tips. ‘There are two young ladies I am particularly concerned about,’ Trinket went on. ‘One of them is called Doublet, and the other one is called Zeng Rou. I’d like your men to make a point of telling them that the Triads and the Mu Family people might raid the house tonight.’ The idea was that if such an odd message did get through to them, Doublet and Zeng Rou would be smart enough to put two and two together, and warn the Helmsman and the others that there was something strange going on. But what about the girls themselves, and anyone else unable to get away in time’ Trinket kept seeing this picture of cannon’balls falling and bits of bodies belonging to his friends being thrown into the air. He tried to console himself ‘with the thought that if there were some of Dolong’s Palace Guards in the place, the bombardment might never take place.

转念又想:“要是炮手奉了皇帝严旨,不管三七廿一,到时非开炮不可,那又如何?”小郡主和曾柔也还罢了,双儿对自己情深义重,那是心头第一等要紧人,决不能让她送了性命。只是事在两难,如要侍卫将双儿她们先接了出来,便没人留下给师父和众兄弟传讯;只救双儿,不救师父,重色轻友,那又是乌龟王八蛋了。一时绕室徬徨,苦无妙策。过了大半个时辰,率队去忠勇伯府的侍卫领班回来禀报:他们还没走近伯爵府,便给前锋营的官兵挡住,带队的前锋参领说道,他们奉旨保护伯爵府,不用众位侍卫大人费心了。众侍卫要进府保护内眷,前锋营说甚么也不让过去,说道皇上一切已有安排。到后来连前锋营的阿统领也亲自过来阻拦,众侍卫拗不过,只得回来。韦小宝一听,心中只连珠价叫苦。多隆笑道:“兄弟,皇上待你当真周到,竟派了前锋营去保护你的小美人儿,那你还担心甚么?哈哈,哈哈!”韦小宝只得跟着干笑几声,心想:“小皇帝甚么甚么之中,甚么千里之外,这一番我师父他们可真是大祸临头了。前锋营定是奉了严旨,在我伯爵府四处把守,见到寻常百姓,就放他们进府,以便晚上一起轰死,若是文武官员,便拦住了不许进去。”
But then again (Trinket began to fret, after Dolong’s guards had already left the Palace), suppose the Emperor’s orders were to fire on the house come what may, that would be the end of the girls! Doublet was especially present in his thoughts. He knew he would miss her the most. She had always been so sweet and devoted. He could not bear to lose her. But if he tried to change the plan, and gave orders for the guards to bring the girls out, then there would be no one to pass the message on to the Helmsman. He would then be guilty of an extremely un’River’and’Lake decision, and a very turtle’headed, love’and’sex before honour’and’friendship attitude. It was all very difficult. Why was life presenting him with these insoluble dilemmas’ He paced up and down his room. In the event, the dilemma was resolved for him an hour or so later, when the guards reported back. They had been unable to get anywhere near Lord Wei’s Residence in Bronze Hat Lane. The Vanguard regiment, under Colonel Ajige, was in charge of the whole operation, and had absolutely refused to let them through. Ajige had said that he had the situation completely under control. It was as the Emperor had predicted. There was little love lost between the Vanguards and the Palace Guards.

又想:“我突然发出‘含沙射影’暗器,要结果多大哥的性命不难,可是这许多侍卫,又怎能一个个尽数杀了?可惜我身边的蒙汗药,在庄家一下子都使完了。”眼见日头越来越低,他便如热锅上的蚂蚁一般,全身发烫,拉了一泡尿又是一泡,却想不出半点主意。过得一个多时辰,天色渐渐黑下来,韦小宝推窗向外看去,只见七八名侍卫在窗外踱来踱去,守卫严密之极。他东张西望,那里有陶红英的影子?长叹一声,颓然倒在床上,心想这当儿只怕已有不少朋友进了伯爵府,多耽搁得一刻,众兄弟便向阴世路走近了一步。一瞥眼间,见到屋角落里的那只大水缸,那是海大富遗下来的。
So much for Plan A. Trinket had to think up yet another cunning plan, and quickly. He probably had enough poisoned darts to put paid to Dolong (dear friend!) and a few of the guards. But not enough for all of them. He’d used up all the opiate at Widow Zhuang’s manor. It would soon be dark. Time was running out. He felt as desperate as an ant trapped in a hot wok. He was pissing in his pants every thirty seconds. And still he could not think of a plan. Slowly but surely darkness was falling. Trinket opened his window and looked outside. Seven or eight Palace Guards were patrolling right beneath his window. Of Auntie Tao there was not the least sign. He heaved a sigh and lay down dejectedly on his bed. Any minute now it would be too late, and his friends would be on their way to the next world. And a noisy departure it would be too! And then he saw it. The big vat of water which stood by the window, the vat that had once belonged to the late (and not much lamented) Eunuch Hai Dafu (he’d used it to cool off during his frequent bouts of fever). It had come in extremely handy on a later occasion, when Colonel Rui Dong (the Invincible Iron Palm) had come to his room under orders from the Old Whore to eliminate Trinket.

当日自己全靠了这只水缸,才杀了瑞栋,心想:“我何不把多大哥骗进房来。发暗器杀了他,再在房中放起火来,混乱之中便可逃出。多大哥待我十分不错,平白无端的伤他性命,实在对他不住。可是义气有大有小,我师父他们几十条性命,总比他一条性命要紧些。”想了一会,心意已决,取火刀、火石打了火,点着了蜡烛,心想:“帐子着火最快,一杀了多大哥,便烧帐子。”
Colonel Rui (it will be remembered) had toppled Trinket from this very same window ledge and into the vat, only to find himself seconds later with the deadly dagger in his own innards. It was definitely a vat with a history, thought Trinket to himself. And history was knocking on its capacious rim once more. The vat was giving him ideas. He felt for his dagger. The plan that was forming itself in his mind was as follows. First he would lure Dolong into the room. Then he would kill him’ in the vat, with darts, somehow- that part of the plan could be filled in later. Then he would start a fire, and in the ensuing chaos, he would escape. The thought of killing Dolong was not one he particularly relished (dilemmas again!). They had been friends for some time. But honour decreed it. And besides, Dolong’s death would enable dozens of others to live, including his own Shifu, the Helmsman. His mind was made up. He lit a candle. The curtains would catch fire the quickest, he thought to himself. First he would kill Dolong, then he would set the curtains on fire.

正在这时,听得多隆在外房叫道:“韦兄弟,酒饭送了来啦,出来喝酒。”韦小宝道:“咱哥俩在房里吃罢!”多隆道:“好!”吩咐送酒菜的太监提了饭盒子进来。那太监是个十六七岁少年,进房后向韦小宝请了安,打开饭盒子,取出酒饭。韦小宝脑中灵光一闪,想起了个主意,说道:“你在这里侍候喝酒。”那小太监十分欢喜,素知韦伯爵从前是御膳房的头儿,对下人十分宽厚,侍候他吃喝定有好处,喜孜孜的摆设碗筷。多隆跟着走进房来,笑道:“兄弟,你早不在宫里当差了,皇上却不撤了你这间屋子。就算是亲王贝勒,皇上也不会这么优待。”韦小宝道:“倒不是皇上优待,皇上要管多少天下大事,哪来理会这等不相干的小事?说实在的,兄弟再在这里住,可十分不合规矩。”多隆笑道:“别人不合规矩,你兄弟却不打紧。”他知宫里的总督太监要讨好韦小宝,谁也不会另行派人来住这间屋子,宫里屋子有的是,海大富这间住屋又不是甚么好地方,接管御膳房的太监自然另有住处。韦小宝笑道:“大哥不提,兄弟倒也忘了,明日该得通知总管太监,把这间屋子缴回。咱们做外臣的再住在宫里,给外面御史大人知道了,参上一本,可不是味儿。”多隆道:“皇上喜欢你,谁又管得了?”韦小宝道:“请坐。请坐。这间屋子也没甚么好,只是兄弟住得惯了,反而觉得外面的伯爵府没这里舒服。”慢慢走到他身后,拔了匕首在手,笑道:“这八碗菜,都是兄弟爱吃的,膳房里倒还记得,大哥试试这碗蟹粉狮子头怎样?”多隆道:“兄弟爱吃的菜,定是最好……”一句话没说完,突觉左边后心一凉,伏在桌上便不动了。原来韦小宝已对准他后心,一匕首刺了进去。这一刀无声无息,那小太监丝毫不觉,仍在斟酒。韦小宝走到他背后,又是轻轻一匕首将他刺死,立即转身,在门后上了闩,快手快脚除下衣帽鞋袜,只剩内衣裤和护身背心,改穿上小太监的衣帽,将自己的衣帽都穿戴在那小太监身上。两人高矮相若,衣衫倒也合身。然后将小太监的尸身抱到椅边坐下,提起匕首,在小太监的脸上一阵乱剁,将五官剁得稀烂。
At that very moment he heard Dolong’s voice outside in the passageway. ‘They’ve brought your dinner, Lord Wei! Would you like to come out and eat it!’ ‘Why don’t we eat together in here?’ ‘Very well!’ Dolong sent in the junior eunuch from the Catering Department with the food and wine. He was a young lad of sixteen or seventeen. As he set out the meal, Trinket, on a sudden impulse (or more accurately, a sudden new development of Plan B), invited him to stay and keep them company. Dolong came in shortly afterwards, and they sat down to their meal. Dolong started talking. ‘Just look at how well the Emperor treats you! Why, it’s ages since you were in service in the Palace, and yet he’s kept your old room for you, just the way it always was!’ ‘Eat up, my friend,’ Trinket urged him. ‘See, they brought some of my old favourites! Clever of them to have remembered in the Catering Department. Try some of this Lion’s Head Meatball with Crab.’ Trinket had strolled behind Dolong even as he was saying this. Dolong did not even have time to raise his chopsticks. He felt something cold enter his heart from behind, and slumped forward onto the table. In the end, Trinket had chosen to use his infallible dagger. It had been carried out with precision and in total silence. The eunuch noticed nothing. Next it was his turn. And once that was done, Trinket quickly bolted the door from the inside and changed clothes with the dead eunuch. He propped Dolong’s body on his chair, and for good measure carved his face up until it looked a real mess.

他手中忙碌,心里说道:“多大哥,你是鞑子,我天地会靠杀鞑子吃饭,不杀你不行。今日伤你性命,实在对不住之至。好在你总免不了要死的。我今晚逃走,皇上明日定要砍你的脑袋,你也不过早死了半日,不算十分吃亏。何况我杀了你,你是因公殉职。但如皇上砍你的头,你势必要被抄家,老婆儿女都要受累,不如早死半日,换得家里的抚恤赠荫。打起算盘来算一算,你实在是占了大大的便宜啦。”但多隆平素对自己着实不错,迫不得已的杀了他,心中终究十分难受,忍不住流下泪来。拭了拭眼泪,转身瞧那小监,心道:“你这位小兄弟,身上穿了黄马褂,可有多神气。你本来便投胎十世,也挨不上黄马褂的半分边儿,头上这顶伯爵大人的顶帽,单是那一颗红宝石,便够你使上七八世的了,嘿嘿,你升官发财,可交上大运啦。我韦小宝当年冒充小桂子,从此飞黄腾达,做了大官。你今日冒充韦小宝,今后是不是能飞黄腾达,那得瞧你的本事了。”又想:“我先前冒充小太监,今日让一个小太监冒充回去,欠下的债,还得一清一爽,干干净净。小玄子啊小玄子,我可没对你不起。”整理一下自身的衣帽,见已无破绽,大声说道:“小娃儿,你这就出去罢,这里不用你侍候了。这五两银子,给你买糖吃。”跟着含含糊糊的说了声:“多谢伯爵大人。”又提高嗓子说道:“我跟多总管在这里喝酒谈心,谁也不许来打扰了!”
Even as he was doing this, he was thinking to himself’ ‘I’m really sorry, Dolong, old friend. But I’m sure you’ll understand that I had to do it. I just had to. Try and look on the bright side. Supposing I got away, and you were still alive, and the Emperor decided to punish you. You’d have been executed anyway tomorrow (and most of your family with you). This way, you’ll have died in the performance of your duty (so to speak), and your family will probably get a fat pension. So really, one way of looking at it is that you’re better off as you are now.’ But even he was not greatly convinced by himself. He could not help shedding a few tears for his friend. ‘As for you, my poor young fellow,’ he continued, looking at the eunuch, propped up opposite Dolong, and now wearing his (Trinket’s) clothes. ‘In a way, you’re lucky too, to be wearing my Yellow Jacket, and my hat with the Ruby Button. In real life, you could never have dreamed of such rapid promotion!’ He straightened out his eunuch uniform. Then, loudly’ ‘That’ll be all! You can go now, little fellow! Here’s a few taels for your pains!’ ‘Thank you, sir!’ (muffled, eunuch’like reply) Loudly again: ‘Tell them that Colonel Dolong and I would like to be left on our own for a while. We are not to be disturbed!’

太监在宫里本来只服侍皇帝、皇后、妃嫔、皇子和公主,但有职司的大太监要小太监服侍,却也向来如此。韦小宝虽已不做太监,他从前却是宫中声威赫赫、大红大紫的太监,要一名小太监侍候再打赏银子,实在平常不过。门外众侍卫听了,谁也不加理会,只见房门开处,那小太监提了饭盒出来,低着头,回身带上了门。韦小宝提了食盒,低头走向门口。见众侍卫正在搬饭斟酒,谁也没有留意,韦小宝暗暗欢喜,心想:“众侍卫至少要一个时辰之后,才会发见房里两人已经死了,只道韦伯爵和多总管都被刺客刺死,这一下可得吓他们个屁滚尿流。”跨出大门,忽见数名太监宫女提着灯笼前导,抬了一乘轿子到来。这乘轿子以野鸡尾毛为饰,称为“翟轿”。领先的太监喝道:“公主驾到。”韦小宝大吃一惊:“公主迟不到,早不到,却在这当儿到来,一进屋去,立即见到我韦小宝给人杀死了。宫中还不吵得天翻地覆?要出去可千难万难了。”一时手足无措,只见轿子停下,建宁公主从轿里跨了出来,叫道:“小桂子在里面罢?”
So when the door opened and a junior eunuch emerged into the passageway carrying a food basket the guards, who were having their own dinner, paid him not the slightest attention. ‘Excellent kungfu!’ thought Trinket as he headed for the main door. ‘It’ll be a couple of hours at least before they notice anything. And when they do see the two dead bodies, they’ll think that Lord Wei and Colonel Dolong have both been assassinated! There’s a lot of that going on in the Palace at the moment. They’ll piss themselves!’ Just as Trinket was going out the main door, what should he see but an extremely grand palanquin heading towards him, all decked out with pheasant tail’feathers. The eunuchs clearing the way in front of it cried’ ‘Make way! Make way for Her Highness the Princess Ning!’ ‘What bad timing!’ muttered Trinket. ‘Now I’ll never get away. She’ll insist on going in, and she’ll find me dead! All hell will be let loose!’ He watched the Princess step down from her palanquin. ‘Is Laurel here?’ she asked.

韦小宝硬起头皮,走上前去,低声说道:“公主,韦爵爷喝醉了,奴才领公主进去。”灯笼不甚明亮,公主没认出他来,眼见众侍卫一齐从屋中出来迎接,心想:“怎么这许多人?”皱起了眉头,左手一摆,道:“大家在外面侍候。”踏步进屋。韦小宝跟了进去。他一进屋子,反手便带上了门。公主道:“你也出去。”韦小宝道:“是,韦伯爵在内房。”公主快步过去,推开房门,只见“韦小宝”和多隆二人伏在桌上,显是喝得大醉,秀眉一蹙,喝道:“还不快出去?”韦小宝低声笑道:“我如出去,便烧不成藤甲兵了。”公主一惊,回过头来,烛光下赫然见到韦小宝站在身后,不由得又惊又喜,“啊”的一声,叫了出来,道:“你……你干甚么?”韦小宝低声道:“别作声!”公主瞧瞧他,又瞧伏在桌上的“韦小宝”,低声问道:“捣甚么鬼?”
Trinket took a deep breath and walked forward. ‘Your Highness,’ he said to the Princess, sotto voce, ‘I’m afraid Lord Wei is rather drunk. Allow me to accompany you.’ By the dim light of the lanterns, the Princess had not recognized him. She saw all the guards emerging from Trinket’s quarters to greet her, and wondered what on earth was going on. She frowned and waved them away. ‘All of you wait for me here outside!’ And so saying she strode on into the passageway leading to Trinket’s room. Trinket (in his role as the junior eunuch) followed her in. As they entered the passage, he closed the main outer door behind them. The Princess told him to leave and walked on into the inner room. Then she saw the slumped bodies, and gave a strangled cry. She saw the ‘little eunuch’ still standing there by the inner door, and frowned. ‘What are you doing in here?’ Trinket drew closer to her. Take a look.’ The Princess was somewhat taken aback by this cheeky response. But then she looked, and recognized Trinket. ‘Just what do you think you’re up to now?’ ‘Be quiet!’ whispered Trinket. ‘Very quiet!’ ‘What the hell is going on?’

韦小宝拉着她进房,又关上了房门,低声道:“大事不妙,皇上要杀我!”公主道:“皇帝哥哥已杀了额驸,怎么连你也要杀?他……他……他如杀了你,我跟他拚命。”韦小宝伸出双臂,一把抱住了她,在她面颊上吻了一下,说道:“咱们快逃出宫去。皇上知道了我跟你的事,要砍我脑袋。”公主给他一抱一吻,登时全身酸软,昵声道:“皇帝哥哥杀了额驸,我只道便可嫁给你了,怎么……怎么又弄出这等事来?他怎会知道的?”
The Princess looked from the real Trinket to the one slumped ‘drunk’ on the table. Trinket pulled her well inside the room, and closed the inner door. ‘Things are very bad indeed!’ he whispered. ‘In fact they couldn’t be ‘worse. For a start, the Emperor wants me dead-‘ ‘He’s already had my husband killed!’ Princess Ning put in. ‘What does he want to go killing you for’ If he tries that-I’ll fight him myself!’ She was nothing if not plucky! Trinket put both arms around the Princess and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Plan B had sort of fallen through; but Plan C was already forming in his mind. So he said’ ‘Let’s both get out of the Palace as quickly as we possibly can! The Emperor knows all about us! He wants to chop my head off!’ He was hugging the Princess so tight, and kissing her so passionately, she was aching all over and almost incapable of replying. ‘But…’ When she finally did manage to speak, her voice sounded husky and strangely sexy. ‘But, now that he’s killed that horrible husband of mine, I was thinking I could go ahead and marry you! And he wants to kill you! How did he find out about us! How?’

韦小宝道:“定是你露了口风,是不是?”公主脸上一红,道:“我没有。我只问过几次,你甚么时候回来。”韦小宝道:“那还不是吗?那也不打紧,反正咱俩这夫妻是做定了。这就快逃出宫去罢。”公主迟疑道:“我明儿去求求皇帝哥哥,他不会杀你的。他杀了额驸,跟我说很对我不住,答应另外给我找一个好额驸。他向来很喜欢你的……”
‘I don’t think it was very hard,’ replied Trinket. ‘You gave the game away all the time.’ She blushed. ‘I didn’t! I just asked him once or twice when you were coming back, that’s all.’ ‘That’s what I mean! Anyway, it doesn’t make any difference. It looks as if we’re going to end up married after all. But we’ve got to get out of here fast!’ She seemed hesitant. ‘I’ll talk to my brother tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll understand. I’m sure he won’t really kill you. He said he wanted to find me another husband. He’s always been so good to you.’

说到这里,只觉房中的血腥气越来越浓,嗅了两下,问道:“甚么……”突然间胸口一阵烦恶,哇的一声,扶着椅背大吐起来,喉头不住作呕,却只吐出了些清水。韦小宝轻轻拍她背脊,轻轻安慰:“怎么?吃坏了东西?好一些没有?”公主又呕了两下,忽地反过手掌,拍的一声。重重打了他一个耳光,骂道:“我吃坏了东西?都是你不好,都是你不好!”双拳在他胸口不住捶打。公主向来横蛮,此时突然发作,韦小宝也不以为奇,但眼前事势紧迫,多耽搁得一刻,跟大炮齐轰的时候便近了一刻,实不能跟她无谓纠缠,说道:“好,好,都是我不好。”公主扭住他耳朵,喝道:“你跟我去见皇帝哥哥,咱俩马上要拜堂做夫妻。”韦小宝大急,求道:“拜堂做夫妻的事,包在我身上,可是一见皇上,你的老公就变成没脑袋的额驸了。咱们快快逃出宫去要紧。”公主重重一拉,韦小宝耳朵吃痛,忍不住叫了一声。公主骂道:“你没脑袋,打甚么紧?你这小鬼,你本来就是没脑子的。我肚子里的小小桂子却怎么办?”说到这里,哇的一声,哭了出来。韦小宝大吃一惊,问道:“甚……甚么……小小桂子?”公主飞起一脚,正中他小腹,哭道:“我肚子里有了你的臭小小桂子,都是你不好。咱们若不马上做夫妻,我肚子……我肚子一天天大起来……皇上知道吴应熊是太监,不成的,我……我可不能做人了。”
It was at this moment that she noticed the nasty, sickly smell that permeated the room. And in the next moment, realizing that it was the smell of blood, she let out a cry, grabbed hold of the table, and began vomiting all over the floor. Trinket tried patting her on the back and comforting her. She merely turned on him and started boxing him ferociously on the ears. ‘You’re bad! You’re a wicked wicked boy!’ Now she was pummelling his chest. ‘Yes, I know, I’m wicked and bad. I know I am.’ The one thing Trinket knew for certain at that moment was that unless he left the Palace at once, his friends were as good as dead. The time set for the bombardment was minutes away. And here was the Princess having one of her tantrums. She twisted his ears. ‘You don’t know how wicked and bad you are! Look at what you’ve done to me for a start! Poor little baby Laurel!’ She stood up, stuck out her tummy, and started sobbing.

韦小宝脸色惨白,正在这千钧一发的紧急当口,偏生又遇上了这桩尴尬事,忙道:“咱们如不赶快出宫,小小桂子就没爹爹了。逃了出去之后,咱们立刻拜堂成亲,你生下小小桂子来,那……那可不是皇上的外甥?皇上做了便宜舅舅,他成了我的大舅子,总不好意思杀了妹夫罢?”公主道:“有甚么不好意思?吴应熊是他妹夫,他还不是一刀杀了?”韦小宝道:“皇上知道吴应熊是假妹夫,我韦小宝才是货真价实。假妹夫杀得,真妹夫杀不得。好公主,咱们的小小桂子出世之后,搂住了你的脖子叫妈妈,可不是挺美吗?”说着便伸手搂住了她脖子。公主噗哧一笑,喜道:“美你个王八蛋,我才不要小王八蛋叫妈妈呢。”话是这么说,扭住韦小宝耳朵的手却也放开了,昵声道:“这么久没见你了,你想我不想?”说着便扑在他怀里。韦小宝道:“想啊,我日日想,晚晚想,时时刻刻都想。”心中暗骂:“这当儿纠缠不清,真是他妈的死婊子。”眼见她情意缠绵,红晕上脸,这时实在不能跟她亲热,可是不敢得罪了她,低声道:“咱们一逃出宫去,以后白天黑夜都是在一块,再也不分开了。这就走罢。”公主身子扭了几扭,说道:“不成!咱们今晚就要做夫妻。”韦小宝道:“好,好!今晚就今晚,可总得逃出宫去再说。”公主道:“逃甚么!皇帝哥哥最喜欢我的,他是你师父,也是最喜欢你的。咱们明儿求求他,他就甚么气也没了。皇帝哥哥最恨吴三桂,你请旨带兵去打吴三桂,我陪你同去。我做兵马大元帅,你就做副元帅,把吴三桂打得落花流水,皇帝哥哥还封你做王爷呢。”说着紧紧搂住了他。
Trinket looked at her stunned. ‘You don’t mean-‘ ‘Yes, I do! And if we don’t get married very soon, my life won’t be worth living. I could never pretend this was little Wu’s doing. Everyone knows what I did to him!’ All the colour drained from Trinket’s face. What a moment to have to confront paternity! And with the hysterical Princess of all people. If he was hard with her, she was liable, no, she was certain to make a huge scene, here and now, and spoil his entire escape plan (whether it was the aborted Plan B he went ahead with, or the new Plan C). On the other hand, if he was too nice to her, she would want to go to bed with him there and then. What was he to do’ His night of dilemmas was by no means over yet.

韦小宝正在狼狈万状之际,突然间窗格上有人轻轻敲了三下,一停之后,又敲了两下。韦小宝大喜,低声道:“是陶姑姑吗?”轻轻推开公主,抢过去开了窗子。人影一晃,一人跳了进来,正是陶红英。两个女人一对面,都是吃了一惊。陶红英低声叫道:“公主。”公主怒道:“你是甚么人,来干甚么?”一转念间,登时醋意勃发,心想深更半夜的,这宫女从窗子跳进小桂子的屋里,那还有甚么好事干了,定是他的相好无疑,虽见陶红英年纪已老,但想小桂子连这样又老又丑的宫女也要勾勾搭搭,更不可恕,她正自情热如火,给这女人撞破了好事,越加的怒发若狂,大声叫道:“来……”韦小宝早已防到,哪容她将“来人哪”三字喊出口来,一伸手便按住了她嘴巴。公主用力挣扎,反手拍的一声,打了韦小宝一个耳光。韦小宝惊慌焦躁之下,右手扣住她的头颈,出力收紧,骂道:“死婊子,我扼死你!”公主登时呼吸艰难,手足乱舞。韦小宝左手反过来,在她头上捶了两拳。
At that very moment there came a series of three knocks at the window. Then a pause. Then two more knocks. ‘That must be Auntie Tao!’ whispered Trinket excitedly. And sure enough, the next second, a figure vaulted up onto the window’ledge and into the room-Auntie Tao. There was hope after all! She and the Princess eyed one another. ‘Good evening, Your Highness!’ said Auntie Tao. ‘And who might you be?’ replied the Princess somewhat haughtily. Whatever was this middle’aged, unattractive woman doing in Trinket’s room at this hour of the night’ The very fact that she was neither young nor pretty made the Princess’ pangs of jealousy all the stronger. Her lover was clearly undiscriminating in his desires. Insatiable in fact. She was just about to call for one of the guards, when Trinket clapped a hand over her mouth. She fought back and began boxing him on the ears again. Trinket put his right hand round her neck and began squeezing it tightly. ‘I’ll strangle you, you little whore!’ For a moment, she could not breathe and she flailed her hands in the air and kicked her feet around wildly. Trinket brought his left hand round and thumped her hard twice on the crown of the head.

陶红英见他胆敢殴打公主,大吃一惊,随即知道这件事反正闹大了,伸出手指,在公主腰间和胸口连点三下,封了她上身数处穴道。韦小宝这才放开了手,低声道:“姑姑,大事不好,皇帝要杀我,这就得赶快逃出去。”陶红英道:“外边侍卫很多。我早就到了,在花坛后面等了大半个时辰,才得钻空子过来。你瞧。”轻轻推进窗格一线。
Auntie Tao could tell from the way Trinket was carrying on with the Princess that this must be an emergency. She quickly pressed three places on the Princess1 back and chest, and closed the Vital Points controlling her upper body. Trinket let go of her. ‘Auntie!’ he whispered. Things are very bad! The Emperor wants to kill me! I’ve got to get out of the Palace!’ ‘It’s crawling with guards out there,’ replied Tao. That’s why it took me so long to get through. Look!’ She pushed the window slightly open.

韦小宝凑眼望出去,果见七八名侍卫提了灯笼来回巡逻,一转念间,想起瘦头陀和毛东珠的法子,心想:“他两个运气不好,撞到了归辛树夫妇。老子就学学他们的样。总不成归家这三人借尸还魂,又来打公主的轿子。”对公主道:“公主,你别喝醋。她是我的姑姑,就是我爹爹的妹子,我妈妈的姊姊。你不用乱发脾气。”公主给陶红英点了穴道后,气得几欲晕去,听了韦小宝这几句话,心意登和,也没想到“爹爹的妹子”和“妈妈的姊姊”不能是同一个人,总之这女人不是小桂子的相好,那没事了,当下脸上露出笑容,说道:“那么快放开我。”韦小宝要讨她欢喜,说道:“你是我老婆,快叫姑姑。”公主很是高兴,居然便叫了声:“姑姑!”陶红英莫名其妙,眼见两人刚才还在打大架,怎么公主居然叫起自己“姑姑”来?
Trinket looked through the crack and could see seven or eight guards patrolling with lanterns. It looked bad. But maybe Plan C could work after all. Maybe he could get out the same way Thin Dhuta and the Old Whore had tried’ in a palanquin-the Princess’ palanquin. Hopefully he would not run into a Gui’style ambush. The first thing was to talk the Princess round. ‘Listen, my sweet, darling Princess,’ he said, ‘you really mustn’t be jealous, or think there’s anything going on between this woman and myself. She’s my Auntie, for goodness’ sake! And since you and me are about to get married, I think you should call her Auntie too.’ Princess Ning smiled. She was only too pleased to believe that the woman was not Trinket’s lover, and only too happy to call her Auntie. Auntie Tao herself could not make out this couple at all. One minute they were fighting like cat and dog, the next they were all lovey-‘dovey.

韦小宝道:“你去吩咐把轿子抬进屋来,然后叫人出去,关上了门,我和你一起坐在轿里。咱们混出宫去,立即拜堂成亲。拜堂的时候一定得有个长辈在旁瞧着,这才算数。我们的姑姑就是长辈了,你说好不好?”公主大喜,脸上一红,低声道:“很好!”韦小宝推她背心,催道:“快去,快去!”公主给他催得紧了,也不等上身穴道解开,便走到门口吩咐:“把轿子抬进屋来!”一众太监宫女都感奇怪,但这位公主行事向来匪夷所思,平日吩咐下来甚么事,总是合乎常情的极少,异想天开的甚多,当即齐声答应,抬轿过来。鸾轿可抬进慈宁宫,悄悄将瘦头陀和毛东珠抬出去。韦小宝这住屋数尺阔的门口,公主的翟轿怎抬得进门?只进了两条轿杆,轿身塞在门口,便进不来了。公主骂道:“不中用的东西,通统给我滚出去。”在轿前抬轿的两名太监均想:“门口就这么宽,又怎怪得我们?”当下从轿畔钻了出去。韦小宝在公主身边低声道:“你吩咐众侍卫不要进来。”公主大声道:“小桂子,你给我好好在屋里耽着,不许出来。”韦小宝大声道:“是,时候不早了,请公主殿下早回休息罢。”公主骂道:“我偏偏要出去逛逛,你管得着吗?”韦小宝大声道:“宫里闹刺客,公主殿下还是小心些为是。”公主道:“皇上养了这一大批侍卫,净会吃饭不管事。大家给我站在屋子外面,不许进去。”众侍卫齐声答应。韦小宝钻进轿子坐下,招了招手。陶红英解开公主身上穴道,公主也进轿去,坐在他身前怀里。韦小宝左手搂住了她,低声对陶红英道:“姑姑,请你陪我们出宫罢。”心想她武功了得,有她在轿旁护送,倘若给人拆穿西洋镜,也好帮着打架杀人。陶红英当即答允,她穿的是宫女服色,站在公主轿边,谁也不会起疑。公主喝道:“抬了轿子走。”两名在前抬轿的太监又从轿侧钻入门里,和在轿后抬轿的太监一齐提起轿杠,将轿子倒退数步,转过身来,抬起来走了,心中都大为奇怪:“怎么轿子忽然重了?”
‘Now then,’ said Trinket, ‘what we’re going to do is this. We’re both going to leave here in your palanquin, and get out of the Palace. As soon as possible after that we’ll get married. We’ll need somebody a bit older to act as a witness, so I suggest we take Auntie Tao along with us.’ The Princess had her points duly reactivated, and called for her chair to be brought into the room. Her eunuch chair’bearers thought this a strange order, but no stranger than many other orders they’d had from her in the past, so they did their best to oblige. The trouble was, the chair was rather a grand one, and it was much too wide for the door. The most they could get through the doorway was the two front carrying’poles. The chair itself could go no further. The two front eunuchs had to backwards and vacate the passageway connecting the inner room to the antechamber, as the Princess had given specific orders that she wanted to be left alone when she climbed into her palanquin. Then she and Trinket sneaked into the passageway, climbed inside, and closed the curtains. They persuaded Auntie Tao to accompany them on foot. Since she was posing as a maid (and had been for some considerable time), her presence would arouse no suspicion. ‘We’re ready!’ The two eunuchs wriggled their way back into their chair’carrying positions, and all the bearers lifted their load and set off. ‘Funny!’ they thought to themselves. ‘It seems a lot heavier than when we came!’

Plan C in Action

公主听着韦小宝的指点,吩咐从神武门出宫。翟轿来到神武门,宫门侍卫见公主翟轿要深夜出宫,上前盘问。公主从轿中一跃而出,喝道:“我要出宫,快开门。”
Following Trinket’s instructions, the Princess ordered her bearers to carry them out of the Palace through the Gate of the Divine Warrior. It was late at night, and the guards on duty at the gate asked the bearers to halt. The Princess poked her head out through the curtains. ‘I want to go home!’ she cried. ‘Out of my way!’

这晚神武门当值的侍卫领班是赵齐贤,当即躬身行礼,陪笑道:“启禀殿下,宫里今晚闹刺客,不大平静,请殿下等天亮了再出宫罢。”公主怒道:“我有急事,怕甚么刺客?”赵齐贤本来不敢违拗,但知额驸吴应熊已诛,公主夤夜出宫,说不定跟吴三桂的造反有甚么牵连,明白查究起来,脱不了重大干系,接连请了几个安,只是不肯下令开门,实在给公主逼得急了,便道:“既是如此,待奴才去请示多总管,请公主稍待,奴才请示之后,立即飞奔回来开启宫门。”韦小宝在轿中听得公主只是发脾气,赵齐贤却说甚么也不肯开门,他要去找多隆,那是大糟而特糟了,危急之中便道:“赵齐贤,你知我是谁?”赵齐贤跟随他办事已久,自然认得他声音,又惊又喜,问道:“是韦副总管?”韦小宝笑道:“正是。”从轿中探头出来,招了招手。赵齐贤忙走近身去。韦小宝低声道:“我奉皇上密旨,去办一件机密大事,我只要一露面,就会坏事,因此皇上吩咐我坐在公主的轿子里,请公主遮掩了出去。”赵齐贤素知他深得皇上宠幸,行事神出鬼没,更无怀疑,忙道:“是,是。卑职这就开门。”
The captain in command of this particular watch was Trinket’s old friend Zhao Qixian. He hastily bowed to the Princess, and laughed nervously. ‘Your Highness, there’s been a serious disturbance in the Palace this evening, and all sorts of undesirable people managed to break in. It’s really not very safe. I strongly urge you to wait to go home until morning.’ ‘I’m in a hurry!’ cried the Princess angrily. ‘What do I care about any of that?’ Zhao was still not prepared to give the order to open the gate. After all, the Princess’ late husband had been the son of the Satrap, and in the present situation, it was possible to be suspicious of anything and anyone. He insisted on seeking the authorization of his superior, Colonel Dolong. Trinket was following all of this from inside the palanquin, and when he learned that Zhao was about to go in search of Dolong, he reckoned the time had come to intervene. ‘Zhao,’ he said from inside, ‘do you know who I am?’ irmxet poked his head out and gestured to Zhao to come closer. He spoke in a barely audible whisper. ‘Zhao, I’m on a top secret mission for the Emperor. If I Jet anyone see me, the whole thing will be spoiled. That’s why the Emperor told me to ride in the Princess’ palanquin.’ Zhao knew how close Trinket was to the Emperor. And he’d certainly seen him in even stranger circumstances in the past. ‘Very well, sir. I’ll open the gate straight away.’

韦小宝灵机一动,低声道:“你想不想升官发财?”赵齐贤跟着他办事,数年间官已升了两级,财已发了二万多两银子,一听“升官发财”四字,知道韦副总管既问到这句话,那又是在提拔栽培自己了,心花怒放之下,忙屈膝请安,说道:“多谢副总管栽培。副总管有甚么差遣,卑职粉身碎骨,在所不辞。”韦小宝心想:“这句话是你自己说的。大炮轰来,炸得你粉身碎骨,你说过在所不辞,须怪不得我。”低声道:“有一批反贼跟吴三桂勾结。皇上定下妙计,这当儿已骗得他们聚在我伯爵府中。皇上派我带领前锋营人马,前去擒拿。前锋营素来跟我的骁骑营不对,你可知皇上为甚么派我去带领前锋营?”赵齐贤道:“卑职笨得很,这个可不知道了。”韦小宝压低了嗓子,说道:“前锋营的阿统领跟吴三桂勾结,皇上要乘机一网打尽。公主是吴三桂的媳妇,他们一见到公主,就不起疑了。”
‘Just a moment.’ Trinket had had another of his brainwaves. It seemed that so far as his ever fertile mind was concerned, the more desperate the situation, the more inventive he became. ‘You may be wondering what the mission is. Since we’re old friends, I think I can let you in on the secret. His Majesty has come up with a very clever plan. He’s fixed things so that a whole group of the Satrap’s men are all gathering together tonight, in my house in Bronze Hat Lane. He’s put me in charge of a Vanguard regiment, and I’m supposed to go and arrest the lot of them. Now, you know as well as I do that the Vanguards don’t get on with the Valiants, and I’m a Colonel in the Valiants. So you’re probably wondering why I’m commanding Vanguard troops for this particular mission.’ ‘Well, yes sir, it does seem rather odd.’ ‘I’ll tell you.’ At this point Trinket’s whisper became positively ghost’like. ‘It’s all because we’ve found out that the Vanguard commander, Colonel Ajige, is himself in league with the Satrap. The man’s a traitor. His Majesty wants to make a clean sweep of them all. And the brilliant part of it is that because Her Highness the Princess used to be married to the Satrap’s son, they’ll never suspect anything when they see her palanquin arrive. Absolutely brilliant, isn’t it?’

赵齐贤恍然大悟,道:“原来如此。想不到阿统领竟敢大逆不道。这件事多半也是给韦副总管查出来的,立了大功。”韦小宝道:“这件功劳,是皇上自己安排好了,交在我手里的。咱们是好兄弟,有官同升,有财同发,你带四十名侍卫,跟我一起去立功罢。”赵齐贤大喜,连声谢谢,忙请公主升轿,点了四十名素日大拍自己马屁的侍卫,说道奉了密旨办事,大开神武门,护送公主翟轿出宫,吩咐余下的六十名卫士严加守卫。韦小宝道:“这宫门今晚无论如何是不可开了,除非有多总管和我的命令,否则甚么人都不能放出宫去。”赵齐贤转传韦小宝的号令,余下六十名宫门侍卫齐声答应。韦小宝暗暗好笑:“老子这一去,那是再也不会回来了,就不知多总管的鬼魂,会不会来传令开启宫门?”铜帽儿胡同离皇宫并不甚远,一行人不多时已行近忠勇伯府。一路上韦小宝一颗心跳个不住,只怕行到半路,前面已炮火连天,幸好始终静悄悄地并无动静。将到胡同口,前锋营统领阿济赤已得报公主翟轿到来,上前迎接。公主在轿中一面给韦小宝在身上揉揉搓搓,一面已得他详细嘱咐,如何行事,听得阿济赤通名迎接,当即从轿帘后探头出来,说道:“阿统领,皇上密旨,今晚交办的事情十分要紧,你一切都预备好了?”阿济赤躬身道:“是,都预备好了。”公主低声道:“那些大炮,也都已安排定当。”阿济赤道:“是,是南怀仁南大人亲自指挥。”韦小宝在轿中听得分明,心道:“皇上果然没骗我。南怀仁这洋鬼子在这里亲自瞄准,那还有打不中的?”公主道:“皇上吩咐,要我进伯爵府去办一件事,你跟着我进去罢。”阿济赤道:“回殿下:时候紧迫,这时候不能进去了。”公主怒道:“甚么不能进去?这是圣旨,你也敢违抗吗?”阿济赤道:“奴才不敢。不过……不过,实在很危险。殿下万金之体……”
Zhao was out of his depth. ‘Wow! I’d certainly never have suspected Colonel Ajige of being a traitor! I’ll bet it was you that found out, sir?’ ‘Be that as it may, what I want you to do now is follow us with forty of your men.’ orders at once. He was delighted to have been invited to take part in this secret mission, which would no doubt greatly further his own career in the Palace Guards. It was not far from the Forbidden City to Bronze Hat Lane. Soon their little procession had reached the entrance to the lane. Trinket’s heart was pounding all the way. He kept expecting the bombardment to begin. Colonel Ajige came forward to greet the Princess’ palanquin. All the way there the Princess had been briefed by Trinket on exactly what to say and do (the latest version of Plan C). She had also found time to give him a massage, to help him unwind a bit. ‘Colonel Ajige,’ she said, in her most princessly voice, looking out through the curtain. ‘My brother the Emperor has asked me to remind you of how important your mission is tonight. Is everything ready?’ Ajige bowed. ‘Everything is ready, Highness.’ ‘What about the big cannon?’ ‘Yes, Your Highness. Eather Nan,’ (the Belgian Jesuit Verbiest), ‘is in charge of them personally.’ Trinket heard this all too clearly. He knew the Belgian foreign devil was an excellent shot. ‘His Majesty wants me to go into Lord Wei’s Residence personally. There’s something he wants me to do. You may accompany me if you wish.’ ‘Excuse me, Your Highness, but we are very close to the appointed time. I really cannot allow you to go in now.’ ‘What do you mean?’ The Princess sounded angry. She was good at sounding angry. ‘Are you disobeying His Majesty’s orders?’ ‘Of course not, Your Highness. But … it is much too dangerous.’

韦小宝在轿中一声咳嗽,陶红英抢上一步,出指如风,已在阿济赤左右腰间和胁下三处要穴各点一指。阿济赤一声轻呼,上身已动弹不得,随觉背心一凉,跟着一阵剧痛,一把利刃已在他背上划破了一道长长的口子,这一下只吓得魂飞天外,全然不明所以。公主道:“皇上的密旨,你如不奉旨,立刻砍了,还将你满门抄斩。”阿济赤颤声道:“是,是。”韦小宝心念一动:“这些御前侍卫跟着我办事,一向听话,何必要他们送命?不如让前锋营去做替死鬼。”在公主耳边低声道:“要他点五十名前锋营官兵,跟了咱们进去。”公主喝道:“你带五十名手下军士,跟咱们进去办事。”阿济赤颤声应道:“是……是……”当即传下号令,点了五十名军士,跟在公主轿后,直进伯爵府中。韦小宝吩咐赵齐贤率领御前侍卫,守在门外。轿子抬到第进二厅前,公主和韦小宝都下了轿,吩咐五十名军士在天井中列队等候。陶红英押着阿济赤,四人走进花厅。
Trinket gave a little cough. It was the prearranged signal for Auntie Tao to spring into action. She darted forward and poked her fingers into three of Ajige’s Vital Points, two in the small of his back, one beneath his ribs. Ajige let out a barely audible groan, and froze. He felt a cold sensation and a sharp little jab as a blade was pressed into his back. He was frightened out of his wits. ‘Either you obey His Majesty’s orders, or I shall be obliged to kill you,’ said the Princess calmly. ‘And all of vour fa^;?’?’ ‘Yes, Your Highness.’Ajige’s voice trembled. ‘ t, At this point Trinket had yet another of his last’minute brainwaves. Why should he sacrifice perfectly good Palace Guards (men with whom he had mostly excellent relations), when he could use Vanguard troops instead. He whispered to the Princess’ ‘Tell him to select fifty of his own men to escort you inside.’ The Princess did exactly this, and the trembling Ajige gave the necessary orders. Trinket told Zhao to wait outside with his Valiants. The palanquin was carried as far as the entrance hall of the second courtyard of Trinket’s compound. There the Princess and Trinket climbed out and told the fifty Vanguard troops to form up in the courtyard. Auntie Tao led Ajige, and the four of them (the Princess, Trinket, Ajige, and Auntie Tao) walked on into the main hall of the palace.

一推开厅门,只见陈近南、沐剑声、徐天川诸人都在厅上。众人见韦小宝带进来一位贵妇、一个宫女、还有一名武官,都是大感诧异。韦小宝招招手,众人都聚了拢来。他低声道:“皇帝知道了咱们在这里聚会,胡同外已围满了官兵,还有十几门大炮,对准了这里。”群豪大吃一惊,尽皆变色。柳大洪道:“大伙儿冲杀出去。”韦小宝摇头道:“不成!外面官兵很多,大炮更是厉害。我已带来了几十名官兵。大家剥了他们的衣服,这才混出去。”群豪齐称妙计。韦小宝回过身来,向公主说了,公主点点头,对阿济赤道:“传二十名军士进来。”阿济赤早见情势不妙,只是钢刀格在颈中,那敢违抗,只得传出号令。天地会和沐王府的群豪守在门口,等前锋营二十名军士一进花厅,立即拳打脚踢、肘撞指戳,将二十人打倒在地。第二次叫进十五名,第三次又叫进十五名,五十军士尽数打倒后,剥下衣衫,群豪换在自己身上。连公主也都换上了。
They opened the doors, and saw’ the Helmsman, the Little Countess, Apothecary Xu, and all the others, gathered there in the hall. They were taken aback to see Trinket with his present companions, all of whom were total strangers. Trinket greeted them all. ‘The Emperor knows all about this meeting. The streets outside are crawling with soldiers. And a dozen cannon have been set up, ready to fire straight into my house! Any minute now this place will be flattened! We have no time to lose!’ General panic ensued. Iron Dragon Liu was one of the first to speak’ ‘Let’s make a dash for it! The worst that can happen is that we get killed!’ Trinket shook his head. ‘No. I have a much better plan. I want you to change clothes with the soldiers waiting outside in the courtyard. Then we can all get out safely.’ They all praised Trinket’s plan as a brilliant one. Ajige gave the orders for his men to troop in. He had no alternative. There was a knife at his throat. The Triads and the Mu Family waited until the first twenty’odd soldiers filed into the hall, and then set on them. After much punching and kicking, they were soon laid low. There were two more batches, fifteen at a time, who suffered a similar fate. Then the Triads and Mu Family stripped the soldiers and dressed themselves up, all of them, even the Princess, as Vanguard troops.

韦小宝见沐剑屏和曾柔跟着众人更换衣衫,却不见双儿,忙问曾柔。曾柔道:“双儿妹子见你进宫这么久不回来,归二侠他们进宫去行刺,又没半点消息,好生放心不下,随同风大爷出去打探消息。”沐剑屏道:“他二人吃过中饭就出去了,怎么这时候还不回来?”韦小宝皱起了眉头,好生记挂,虽想风际中武艺高强,当能护得双儿周全,但他二人不知皇帝的布置,倘若众人逃走之后,他二人却又回来,刚好大炮轰到,岂不糟糕?微一凝思,对钱老本道:“钱大哥,风大哥和双儿出去打探消息,还没回来,须得在这里多做记号,好让他们见到之后,立即离去。”钱老本答应了,时势紧迫,便拔出短刀,在两名清兵大腿上截了两刀,割下衣衫,在两人伤口中蘸了鲜血,在各处门上写下“快逃”两个大血字。一连写了八道门户,各人换衣也已完毕。韦小宝带领众人,到马厩中牵了坐骑。四名天地会的部属假扮太监,抬了公主的翟轿,押着阿济赤从伯爵府出来,那五十名军士或穴道被封,或手脚被缚,都留在伯爵府中。
The one person Trinket could not see was Doublet. It was Zeng Rou who told him’ ‘She was so worried. In the end she set off with Brodier Feng to find out what had happened to you.’ They left at noon,’ confirmed the Little Countess. ‘It’s strange that they’re not back yet.’ Trinket was very concerned. Neither of them knew what was happening, and they might arrive back just in time to be blown to pieces. It was very important to leave them a message of some sort. It was Butcher Qian who volunteered to do this. There was no time for anything fancy. He took his sword and slashed the legs of a couple of the Vanguard soldiers. Then he ripped off some lengths of their undergarments, and soaked them in their own blood. With these makeshift writing’brushes he went around the house smearing the words ESCAPE QUICKLY! on every door. They now untied all the horses in the stables, and led them out. Four Triad Brothers pretended to be eunuchs, and carried out the Princess’ palanquin, with the Princess and Trinket still inside it. Everyone else just walked out in Vanguard uniform, with the unfortunate Colonel Ajige in their midst. The real Vanguards were left inside, immobilized, or bound, or both-to await their fate.

韦小宝仍是坐在公主轿中,出府之后,叹了口气,心想:“府里服侍我的那些门房、马伕、厨子、亲兵、男女仆役,可都不免给大炮轰死了,但如叫他们一起出来,非给外面的官兵瞧出破绽不可。”又想:“那日在五台山大家假扮喇嘛,救了老皇爷的性命,今天用的还是这条计策。这一条乌龟脱壳之计,先救老皇爷,再救小桂子,倒大大的有用。”群豪拥着公主和阿济赤来到胡同外,但见官兵来去巡逻,戒备森严之极,但大炮排在何处,一时却瞧不到。韦小宝身离险地,吁一口长气,眼见师父和众位朋友都免了炮火之灾,甚感喜慰,对赵齐贤道:“这阿统领犯上作乱,大逆不道,你去把他押在牢里,除非皇上亲自要提审,否则等我回来再发落好了。”赵齐贤答应了。韦小宝又道:“这人是钦犯,皇上恨他入骨,一听到他名字就要大发脾气。你跟众兄弟说,大家小心些,别让皇上听到这反贼的名字。”赵齐贤接了号令,带领四十名御前侍卫,押着阿济赤而去。阿济赤陷身天牢,此后何时得脱,韦小宝也不费心去理会了。群豪默不作声,只往僻静处行去。走出里许,韦小宝舍轿乘马。陈近南问他:“归二侠他们入宫行刺,后来怎样了?”韦小宝道:“他们三个……”突然间只听得砰、砰、砰响声大作,跟着伯爵府上空黑烟瀰漫,远远望去,但见梁木砖瓦在空中乱飞。群豪只觉脚底下土地震动,这时大炮声兀自隆隆不绝,伯爵府中血红的火焰向上升起,高达十余丈。群豪和铜帽儿胡同相距已远,仍觉到一阵阵热气扑面而来。众人相顾骇然,都想不到大炮的威力竟如此厉害,倘若迟走了片刻,哪里还有命在?柳大洪骂道:“他奶奶的,这么惊天动地的……”只听得又是砰砰炮响,将他下面的话声都淹没了。远望伯爵府,但见火光一暗,跟着火焰上冲云霄,烧得半边天都红了。韦小宝心想:“这炮声小皇帝一定也听见了,要是他派人来叫我去说话,西洋镜立刻拆穿。”走出轿里,对陈近南道:“师父,咱们得赶紧出城。等到讯息一传开,城门口盘查严密,就不容易出去了。”
Trinket’s one regret was for his own household staff-the stable’boys, cooks, guards, maids, and so on-but there was nothing he could do. If he had alerted them all to the impending danger, and tried to get away with his entire household in tow, he would undoubtedly have given the whole game away. As they emerged from the lane, they saw huge numbers of Imperial troops everywhere. But where the cannon were hidden, they still had no idea. Trinket was hugely relieved to have extricated himself and his friends from the immediate danger. He gave orders for Zhao (who was still waiting outside) to take Ajige away and lock him up. His treason was so serious, Trinket explained, he was not on any account to be released except on the Emperor’s personal orders. They all waited down a quiet side’alley, about half a mile from Trinket’s house. Suddenly it began. One explosion after another, and clouds of black smoke rising up into the night sky, together with fragments of brick and tile and timber. The ground trembled beneath their feet. The bombardment was quite protracted. Soon flames rose from the building. Most of them had never seen or heard a cannon before, and were deeply impressed. They had escaped with only minutes to spare. Trinket, who had by now climbed down from the Princess’ palanquin and was riding a horse, hurried to the Helmsman’s side. ‘Shifu, we must leave the city as soon as we possibly can. When v’ord gets around of what’s happened, the city gates will be closed and we’ll never be able to get away.’

陈近南道:“不错,这就走罢。”公主当即跃出轿来。韦小宝转头对公主道:“你先回宫去,等得事情平静之后,我再来接你。”公主又惊又怒,喝道:“你说甚么?”韦小宝又说了一遍。公主叫道:“你过桥抽板,这就想撇下我不理了么?”韦小宝道:“不,不是……”一言未毕,啪的一声,脸上已重重吃了个耳光。群豪尽皆愕然。适才炮火震撼天地,人人都想若非韦小宝设计相救,各人这当儿早已化为飞灰,绝无逃生之机,因此即使平日对这少年香主并不如何瞧得起的,此刻也不由得不感激佩服,突然见到公主出手便打,当下便有人抢过来将她推开,更有人出言呼叱。公主大哭大叫:“你说过要跟我拜天地的,我才听你的话,把你从皇宫里带出来,又叫那前锋营统领去救你朋友,你……你这臭贼,你想抵赖,咱们可不能算完。我肚子里……”韦小宝怕她口没遮拦,当众说出丑事,忙道:“好,好!你跟我去就是。大家出城再说。”公主破涕为笑,翻身上了马鞍。
‘You are right.’ Trinket then turned to the Princess, who had just climbed out of her palanquin. ‘You’d better hurry back to the Palace. I’ll come back for you when everything has quietened down.’ ‘You’ll what’ The Princess was fuming. ‘I help you escape from the Palace; I talk Ajige into saving your friends-and you think you can just dump me’ And that marriage you talked to me about’ What about that’ And what about this?’ She held her hand to her stomach, and was clearly about to give the assembled (and already somewhat shocked) Triads a detailed report on her pregnancy. Trinket thought better of his previous idea. ‘All right! All right! Come with me then! Climb up behind.’ A big smile lit up the Princess’ face, and she vaulted into the saddle.

一行人来到东城朝阳门。韦小宝叫道:“奉皇上密旨,出城追拿反贼,快快开城。”骁骑营、护军营、前锋营三营官兵是皇帝的御林军亲兵。在北京城里横冲直撞,文武百官谁都忌惮他们三分。守门官兵见是一队前锋营的军士,那敢违拗?何况刚才听见炮声隆隆,城里确是出了大事,当即打开城门。众人出得城来,向东疾驰。韦小宝和陈近南并骑而驰,将归辛树一家如何行刺失手、皇帝如何发觉自己的隐秘等情简略说了。陈近南赞道:“小宝,我平时见你油腔滑调,很不老实,可是遇到这要紧关头,居然能以义气为重,不贪图富贵、出卖朋友,实是难得。”韦小宝笑道:“别的朋友也还罢了,大义灭师的事,却万万做不得的。”陈近南道:“甚么叫做‘别的朋友也还罢了’?只要是朋友,那就谁也不能出卖。‘大义灭师’这四个字,也用得不对。”韦小宝伸了伸舌头,道:“弟子没学问,说错了话,师父别怪。”想到往昔跟小皇帝胡言乱语,甚是快乐,经过今日这一番,此后再也不能和他见面了,不由得心下黯然。陈近南道:“咱们冒充前锋营的军士出来,过不了半天,鞑子就知道了。须得赶快更换装束才是。”韦小宝道:“正是,一到前面镇上,这就买衣服改装罢。”

众人向东驰出二十余里,来到一座市镇,可是镇上却没旧衣铺。陈近南于行军打仗、政事兴革等事极具才略,于这类日常小事,一时却感束手无策,见无处买衣更换,便道:“只有到前面市镇再说,只盼能找到一家旧衣店才好。”一行人穿过市镇,见市梢头有家大户人家,高墙朱门,屋宇宏伟。韦小宝心念一动,说道:“师父,咱们到这家人家去借几件衣服换换罢。”陈近南迟疑道:“只怕他们不肯。”韦小宝笑道:“咱们是官兵啊。官兵不吃大户、着大户,却又去吃谁的、着谁的?”跳下马来,提起门上铜环,当当乱敲。男仆出来开门,众人一拥而入,见人便剥衣服。户主是个告老回乡的京官,见这群前锋营官兵如狼似虎,连叫:“众位总爷休得动粗,待兄弟吩咐安排酒饭,请各位用了,再奉上盘缠使用……”一言未毕,已给人一把揪住,身上长袍、袜子当即给人剥了下来。他吓得大叫:“兄弟年纪老了,这调调儿可不行……”

群豪嘻嘻哈哈,顷刻间剥了上下人等的数十套衣衫。那官儿和内眷个个魂不附体,幸喜这一队前锋营官兵性子古怪,只剥男人衣衫,却不戏侮女眷,剥了男人衣衫之后,倒也不再干别的勾当,一哄而出,骑马去了。那大户全家男人赤身露体,相顾差愕。群豪来到僻静处,分别改装。公主、沐剑屏、曾柔三人也换上了男装。各人上马又行。韦小宝只是记挂着双儿,说道:“风大哥和我的一个小丫头,不知在京里怎样了,我想请哪一位外省来的面生兄弟,回京去打听打听。”两名来自广西的天地会兄弟接令而去。群豪见并无官兵追来,略觉放心。又行了一程,沐剑屏“啊”的一声惊呼,跟着格格笑了起来。原来曾柔所骑的那匹马突然拉了一大泡稀屎,险些溅在沐剑屏脚上。行不多时,又有几匹马拉了稀屎,跟着玄贞道人所骑的那马一声嘶叫,跪倒在地,再也不肯起来。钱老本道:“道长,咱哥儿俩合骑一匹罢!”玄贞道:“好!”纵身上马,坐在他身后。

韦小宝突然省觉,不由得大惊,叫道:“师父,报应,报应!这下可糟了。”陈近南问道:“甚么?”韦小宝道:“吴……吴应熊的鬼魂找上我啦。他恨我……恨我抓了他回去,又抢了他的……他的……”下面“老婆”二字,实在不好意思说出口来。他想到那日奉旨追人,只因吴应熊一行人所骑的马匹都给喂了大量巴豆,沿途不停的拉稀屎,跟着纷纷倒毙,这才无法远逃,给他擒回。倘若吴应熊那次逃去了云南,皇帝当然杀他不得,追究起来,是自己派人向他的马匹下毒之故。现下轮到自己逃跑,一匹匹马也这般泻肚倒毙,却不是吴应熊的鬼魂作怪是甚么?何况自己带了他的妻子同逃,吴应熊做鬼之后,头上还戴一顶碧绿翡翠顶子的一品大绿帽,定然心中不甘。他越想越害怕。不由得身子发颤,只听得几声嘶鸣,又有两匹马倒将下来。陈近南也瞧出情形不对,忙问端详。韦小宝说了当日捉拿吴应熊的情形,颤声道:“吴应熊阴魂不散,今日报仇来啦。这……这……”公主怒道:“吴应熊这小子,活着的时候是窝囊废,死了之后也是个脓包鬼,你怕他干么?”陈近南皱眉道:“青天白日的,哪有甚么鬼了?那日你毒了吴应熊的马匹,鞑子皇帝知不知道?”韦小宝道:“知道的,他还赞我是福将呢。”陈近南点头道:“是了。鞑子皇帝即以福将之道,还治福将之身。他怕你逃走,早就派人给你的马匹喂了巴豆。”

韦小宝立时省悟,连说:“对,对。那日拿到吴应熊,小皇帝十分开心,赏了个小官儿给我的马瀰做,派他去兵部车驾司办事。这一次定是叫他来毒我的马儿。”陈近南道:“是啊,他熟门熟路,每匹马的性子都知道,要下毒自然百发百中。”韦小宝怒道:“下次抓到了这马瀰儿,这里许多烂屎,都塞进他嘴里去……”一言未毕,突觉胯下的坐骑向前一冲,跪了下去,韦小宝一跃而下,见那匹马挣扎着要待站起,几下挣扎,却连后腿也跪了下来。陈近南道:“牲口都不中用了。须得到前面市集去买过。”柳大洪道:“一下子头几十匹马可不容易。”陈近南道:“正是。大伙儿还是暂且分散罢。”正说话间,忽然得来路上隐隐有马蹄之声。玄贞喜道:“是官兵追来了。咱们杀他个妈巴羔子的,正好抢马。”陈近南叫道:“天地会的兄弟们伏在大路左首,沐王府和王屋山的兄弟们伏在右首。等官兵到来,攻他个出其不意。啊哟,不对……”但听得蹄声渐近,地面隐隐震动,追来的官兵少说也有一二千人,群豪不必问他这“啊哟,不对”四字是何用意,都不禁脸上变色。群豪只数十人,武功虽然不弱,但大白天在平野上和大队骑兵交锋,敌军重重叠叠围上来,武功高的或能脱身,其余大半势必送命。陈近南当机立断,叫道:“官兵人数不少。咱们不能打硬仗,大家散入乡村山林。”只说得这几句话,蹄声又近了些。放眼望去,来路上尘头高扬,有如大片乌云般涌来。韦小宝大叫:“糟糕,糟糕!”发足便奔。公主叫道:“喂,你去哪里?”紧紧跟来。韦小宝叫道:“你还是回宫去罢,跟着我没好处。”公主骂道:“臭小桂子,你想逃走吗?可没这么容易。”
They all made their way to the Zhao Yang Gate in the east of the city, where it was easy enough to persuade the guards on duty to let them through. The guards had seen the smoke and heard the explosions. Something big was obviously happening. What could be more normal than for a squad of the Emperor’s Vanguards to go in pursuit of some wanted criminal’ Their first priority when they had travelled a dozen miles or so was to change into civilian clothes. This they achieved by raiding a retired mandarin’s home, and stripping every single member of his household. Their horses soon collapsed under them (Trinket suspected foul play), and they were obliged to continue on foot. Presently, they heard the sound of hooves in the distance behind them. As the horses approached they could tell that there must be getting on for two thousand mounted troops after them. Seeing that they were hopelessly outnumbered, the Helmsman gave the order to split up and lie low for the time being, rather than put up a futile fight and all die in the process. They should each go their separate ways, and hide in the countryside, in the relative safety of some small village or other. ‘I’m off!’ It was Trinket. ‘Where do you think you’re going?’ cried the Princess, hurrying after him. ‘Somewhere. And you’re going somewhere else. Back to the Palace. It’s not safe for you with me.’ ‘Little rat! Think you can get away from me’ Well, I can tell you, it’s going to be a lot harder than you think!’

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