The Deer And The Cauldron 45

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The Deer And The Cauldron 45
第四十五回 尚余截竹为竿手 可有临渊结网心

韦小宝在天地会的所作所为,康熙无不备知底细,连得天地会中的暗语切口,也能背诵如流,但韦小宝偷盗四十二章经,在神龙教任白龙使等情,康熙却全然不知。韦小宝仔细想来,定是天地会中出了奸细,而且这人必是自己十分亲密之人。但青木堂这些朋友个个赤胆忠心,义气深重,决计不会去做奸细,出卖朋友。因此他心中虽然一直存了老大一个疑团,却没半点端倪可寻,只觉此事十分古怪、难以索解而已。此刻风际中这么一说,韦小宝蓦地省悟,心道:“我真该死,怎么会想不到此人身上。那日小皇帝要我炮轰伯爵府,天地会众人之中,就只他一个不在府里。这事早已明白不过,在伯爵府里的,决不会是奸细,否则大炮轰去,有谁逃得性命?只因他事先已经得悉,因此先行避开。唉,我真是大傻瓜一个,他此刻倘若不说,我还是蒙在鼓里。”风际中沉默寡言,模样老实之极,武功虽高,举止却和一个呆头木脑的乡巴佬一般。
For some time he had been wondering who had betrayed him to Kang Xi. That day in the Library, the Emperor had suddenly seemed to know everything about his Triad identity and his Triad activities, and had even learned by heart all those secret Triad verses. But on the other hand, he seemed to be quite unaware of Trinket’s connection with the Mystic Dragons, and of his having laid hands on all eight of the Sutras. This all pointed to the traitor being a Triad. A Triad close to Trinket. But Trinket had until now been reluctant to believe that any one of his Triad friends could be capable of such base treachery. Of course it had been Feng! That evening of the bombardment, he had been absent. He clearly had inside information, and knew it was going to happen. And yet of all the Triads, he had been the least likely suspect. He had always been so silent and straightforward, a good fighter, a man who seemed a simple’hearted peasant.

韦小宝偶尔猜测这奸细是谁,只想到口齿灵便、市侩一般的钱老本;举止轻捷、精明乖巧的徐天川;办事周到、能干练达的高彦超;脾气暴躁、好酒贪杯的玄贞道人,连对见多识广、豪爽慷慨的樊纲,以及近年来衰老体弱的李力世、说话尖酸刻薄的祁清彪,也都曾猜疑过,就是对这个半点不像奸细的风际中,从来不曾有过丝毫疑心。突然又想:“那时候双儿也不在伯爵府,难道她……她也是奸细,也对我不住吗?”想到此节,不由得心中一酸,但随即明白:“双儿是风际中故意带出去的。他知道这个丫头是我的命根子,倘若轰死了她,此后事情拆穿,我定会恨他一世。他不过是皇上所派的一个奸细,暗中通报些消息而已,天地会一灭,皇上便用不着。我如在皇上面前跟他为难,他就抵挡不住,因此不敢当真得罪了我。”
Almost any of the others would have been a more likely candidate’ the talkative, tradesman’like Butcher Qian; the subtle, crafty Apothecary Xu; the competent, professional operator Gao Yanchao; the impulsive, wine’loving Father Obscurus; the courageous man’of’the’world Su Gang; even Li Lishi, who was starting to show his age; or the sharp’tongued Tertius Qi Qingbiao- almost any one of them had seemed a possibility. But he had never suspected Feng Jizhong. And then he remembered that on the same occasion Doublet had also been absent. Should he be suspecting her too’ Surely not. That would be a terrible blow. He thought a little more about it, and came to the conclusion that Feng had taken her with him precisely because he knew about the imminent bombardment, and he’knew how much Trinket cared for her. He was afraid of one day being held responsible for her death.

这些推想说来话长,但在当时韦小宝心中,只灵机一闪之间,便即明白,说道:“风大哥,多谢你把双儿带出伯爵府,免得大炮轰死了她。”风际中“啊”的一声,登时脸色大变,退后两步,手按刀柄,道:“你……你……”韦小宝笑道:“你我心照不宣,皇上早就甚么都跟我说了。”风际中知道皇帝对他甚是宠爱,此言自必不假,问道:“那你为甚么不遵圣旨?”这句话一问,那便是一切直承其事。韦小宝微笑道:“风大哥,那你何必明知故问?这叫做忠义不能两全。皇上待我,那是没得说的了,果真是皇恩浩荡,可是师父待我也不错啊。现下师父已经死了,我还有甚么顾虑的。就不知皇上肯不肯赦我的死罪。”
All of this flashed through Trinket’s mind in a matter of seconds. He decided to test Feng out’ ‘By the way, Brother Feng, I’ve always wanted to thank you for saving Doublet’s life that night they bombarded my house.’ Feng’s face fell. ‘How . . . did . . . you . . .’ Trinket gave a little laugh. ‘We don’t need to have any secrets from each other. The Emperor told me everything.’ Feng knew that Trinket was very close to the Emperor. It seemed plausible enough that he should know. ‘But why didn’t you obey the Emperor’s orders’ Why were you so obstinate?’ he asked. Every word he said proved to Trinket that his hypothesis was correct. Feng had been the Emperor’s informant.

风际中道:“眼下便有个将功赎罪的良机,刚才我说皇上决意要除去三个眼中钉,除了吴三桂、陈近南之外,第三个便是盘踞台湾的郑经。咱们把郑经的儿子拿了,解去北京,说不定便可逼得郑经归降。皇上这一欢喜,韦都统,你便有天大的死罪,皇上也都赦免了。”他对韦小宝既不再隐瞒,口中也便改了称呼,叫他为“韦都统”,对总舵主也直斥其名。韦小宝心下恼怒:“你这没义气的奸贼,居然叫我师父的名字。”但想到能和康熙言归于好,却也当真开心,做不做官,那也罢了,时时能和小皇帝谈谈讲讲,实有无穷乐趣。
‘Now you have a perfect opportunity to set everything to rights with His Majesty,’ Feng continued. (He was even beginning to talk like a Manchu creep, Trinket thought to himself.) ‘I said there were three men the Emperor wanted to be rid of. The third is this man Zheng Keshuang’s father, the man who rules Taiwan and calls himself Prince Zheng. Take his son to Peking, and the Emperor may be able to use him to put pressure on the father to abandon Taiwan.’ So Feng had everything nicely worked out, thought Trinket. The slimy traitor! And what had he received from the Emperor for his pains’ Trinket could not resist asking him outright. Feng had no hesitation in informing him’ ‘As a matter of fact, His Majesty made me a Captain in the Chinese Regiment of Guards,’ he replied, obviously thrilled at the appointment. ‘My heartfelt congratulations!’ replied Trinket, thinking to himself that a piddling little rank like that was more or less the measure of this rat. ‘His Majesty was always talking about you, Colonel,’ said Feng. (Now that they were in each other’s confidence, he need no longer keep up the charade of calling him Lodge Master, he thought.)

风际中又道:“韦都统,咱们回到北京,仍是不可揭穿了。天地会那些人得知陈近南死了,多半会推你做总舵主。你义气深重,甘心抛却荣华富贵,伯爵不做,都统不做,只为了要救天地会众朋友的性命,这当儿早已传遍天下。这些时候来,江湖上沸沸扬扬,说的都是这件事,那一个不佩服韦都统的英雄豪气?”韦小宝大是得意,问道:“大家当真这么说?你这可不是骗人?”风际中道:“不,不……卑职决计不敢欺骗都统大人。”韦小宝心想:“他自称卑职,不知做的是甚么官?”虽然好奇,却不敢问,一问便露出了马脚,“皇上早就甚么都跟我说了”这话就不对,转念又想:“却不妨问他升了甚么官。”微笑道:“你立了这场大功,皇上一定升了你的官,现下是甚么官儿了?”风际中道:“皇上恩典,赏了卑职当都司。”韦小宝心想:“原来是个芝麻绿豆小武官,跟老子可差着他妈的十七廿八级。”清朝官制,伯爵是超品大官,骁骑营都统是从一品。汉人绿营武官最高的提督是从一品,总兵正二品,此下是副将、参将、游击,才轮到都司。但瞧风际中的模样,脸上虽然仍是一副老实之极的神气,眼光中已忍不住露出得意之色,便拱手笑道:“恭喜,恭喜。这是皇上亲手提拔的,与众不同。”

风际中请了一个安,道:“今后还仗大人多多栽培。”韦小宝笑道:“咱们是自己人,那有甚么说的?给皇上办事,你本事大过我啊。”风际中道:“卑职那及大人的万一?回大人:皇上吩咐卑职,若是见到大人,无论如何要大人回京,不可抗命违旨。卑职听皇上的口气,对大人着实看重,可说是十分想念。这番立了大功,将台湾郑逆的儿子逮去北京,皇上一欢喜,定然又会升大人的官。”韦小宝嗯了一声,道:“那你是该升游击了。”风际中道:“卑职只求给皇上出力,皇上见到大人,心里欢喜,咱们做奴才的也欢喜得紧了。升不升官,那是皇上的恩典。”韦小宝心想:“我一直当你是老实人,原来这么会打官腔。”风际中又道:“大人当上了天地会总舵主,将十八省各堂香主、各处重要头目通统调在一起,说是为陈近南开丧,那时候一网打尽,教这些图谋不轨、大逆不道的反贼一个都逃不了。这场大功劳,可比当日炮轰伯爵府更加大上十倍了。大人你想,当日你如遵旨杀了陈近南、李力世这一干人,天地会的反贼各省都有,杀了一个总舵主,又会立一个总舵主,总是杀不干净。只有大人自己当了总舵主,那才能斩草除根,永远绝了皇上的心腹大患。”

这一番言语,只听得韦小宝背上出了一阵冷汗,暗想:“这条毒计果然厉害之极,料想你自己也未必想得出,十九是小皇帝的计策。我回去北京,小皇帝多半会赦免我的大罪,可是定要我去扑灭天地会。这一番他定有对付我的妙法,再也逃不出他手掌心了。”越想越寒心:“小皇帝要我投降,要打我屁股,那都不打紧,但逼我去做天地会总舵主,将所有兄弟一古脑儿杀了,这件事可万万干不得。这件事一做,普天下好汉个个操我的十八代祖宗,死了之后也见不得师父。这里的大妞儿、小妞儿们,都要打从心底里瞧我不起。就算旁人不理会,韦小宝良心虽然不多,总还有这么一丁点儿。”他向风际中瞧了一眼,口中“哦哦”连声,心想:“我如不答应,他立时便跟我翻脸。动起手来,我们这许多人打他一个,未必便输了。只是这厮武功挺高,我这些大妞儿、小妞儿要是给他杀了一两个,那可乖乖不得了。咱们不妨再来玩一下‘含沙射影’。”沉吟道:“去见皇上,我倒也是很高兴,只不过……只不过要杀了天地会这许多兄弟,未免太也不讲义气,不够朋友,可得好好的商量商量。”风际中道:“大人说得是。可是常言道得好:量小非君子,无毒不丈夫。”韦小宝道:“对,对!无毒不丈夫……咦,啊哟,怎么郑克塽这小子逃走了?”
‘He would so very much like to see you back in Peking. I’m sure you’d be forgiven straight away, and probably promoted again!’ ‘And no doubt you’d be made a Major!’ ‘I should just be pleased to see His Majesty happy!’ ‘And to lick His Imperial Arse!’ thought Trinket to himself, growing angrier by the second. ‘And to think I always took you for an honest soul! You little Emperor’s’cock’sucking creep of a turtle traitor!’ Feng continued’ ‘As I see it, the best plan by far is as follows. Now that Chen Jinnan is dead,’ (no Helmsman now, no need to mess about) ‘you’re the obvious person to be his successor. Once you’re Helmsman, you can call a grand meeting of all the Lodge Masters from North, South, East, and West, and all the most important Triad Brothers. Then, when you’ve got everyone together in one place, we can strike! It’ll be perfect!’ Feng’s plan was exactly what Kang Xi had wanted Trinket to do in the first place. However much he liked the idea of seeing his old friend Misty again, he knew now that it would always be on the same terms’ he would always be expected to help him wipe out the Triads. And on that score, he was totally incapable of taking Feng Jizhong’s road. No, there was only one solution for the Feng problem. And that lay within the little metal casket containing his remaining poisoned darts. ‘Interesting idea,’ said Trinket, knowing that he had to keep talking so as not to arouse Feng’s suspicions. For the time being, Feng still saw him as an accomplice in treason. ‘But I’m not absolutely sure that it will work. Incidentally, where has Sir Zheng got to’ What’s he up to now?’

风际中吃了一惊,回头去瞧。韦小宝胸口对准了他,伸手正要去按毒针的机括,却见双儿抢上前来,叫道:“相公,甚么事?”原来她见二人说之不休,一直关心,早在慢慢走近,忽听得韦小宝惊呼“啊哟”,当即纵身而前。韦小宝这“含沙射影”一射出,风际中固然打中,却也势须波及双儿,这时手指虽已碰到了机括,可就不敢按下去。风际中一转头间,见郑克塽和冯锡范兀自站在岸边,并无动静,立知不妙,身子一矮,反手已抓住了双儿,将她挡在自己身前。以双儿的武功,风际中本来未必一抓便中,只是突然出手,双儿全无提防,当下给他抓中了手腕脉门,上身酸麻,登时动弹不得。风际中沉声道:“韦大人,请你举起手来。”偷袭的良机既失,双儿又被制住,韦小宝登落下风,便笑嘻嘻的道:“风大哥,你开甚么玩笑?”风际中道:“韦大人这门无影无踪的暗器太过厉害,卑职很是害怕,请你举起双手,否则的话,卑职只好得罪了。”说着推双儿向前,自己躲在她身后,教韦小宝发不得暗器。苏荃、方怡、阿珂、曾柔等见这边起了变故,纷纷奔来。风际中心想:“这小子心爱这小丫头,不敢动手,那些女人却不会爱惜她的性命。她们只爱惜这小子。”左手从腰间拔出钢刀,手臂一长,刀尖指在韦小宝的喉头,喝道:“大家不许过来!”

苏荃等见韦小宝身处险境,当即停步,人人都是又焦急,又奇怪,这风际中明明是韦小宝的朋友,刚才还并肩抗敌,怎么一转眼间,一言不合,便动起手来?料想定是韦小宝要放郑克塽,风际中却要杀了他为陈近南报仇。刀尖抵喉,韦小宝微微向后一仰,风际中刀尖跟着前进,喝道:“韦大人,请你别动,钢刀不生眼睛,得罪莫怪,还是举起手来罢。”韦小宝无奈,双手慢慢举起,笑道:“风大哥,你想升大官,发大财,还是对我客气一点儿好。”风际中道:“升官发财固然要紧,第一步还得保全性命。”突然身子微侧,抢到韦小宝身后,伸手从他靴桶中拔出匕首,指住他后心,说道:“韦大人,你这把匕首锋利得很,卑职曾见你使过几次。”韦小宝只有苦笑,但觉背心上微痛,知道匕首剑尖已刺破了外衣,虽然穿着护身宝衣,却挡不住这柄宝剑。风际中喝道:“你们大家都转过身去,抛下兵刃。”苏荃等见此情势,只得依言转身,抛下兵器。
Feng fell for it. Even as he turned to look towards the sea, Trinket swivelled his chest round, took aim, and was about to release the trigger when Doublet walked towards him and stepped right between himself and Feng. At that very moment, Feng saw Sir Zheng and his companions standing over by the cliff. They were not ‘up to’ anything. He immediately suspected that Trinket’s question was a decoy, swung round, and grabbed hold of Doublet. ‘Lord Wei!’ he cried. ‘Raise your hands!’ Doublet was his human shield. He had already seen Trinket use the deadly darts on Sir Zheng and Feng Xifan’ he was taking no chances. Su Quan, Fang Yi, Green, and the others came running over. Holding Doublet with one hand, Feng thrust his sword at Trinket’s throat. ‘None of you move!’ The womenfolk had no idea of what had passed between Brother Feng and Trinket. They imagined that the disagreement had something to do with Brother Feng wanting to kill Sir Zheng, and thereby avenge the Helmsman. Feng now moved behind Trinket and pulled the dagger out of his boot, pressing it into the small of his back. Trinket knew that the blade would cut clean through his magic waistcoat. ‘All of you turn around and drop your weapons!’ The women all obeyed.

风际中见尚有六名天地会兄弟站在一旁,向着他们叫道:“大家都过来,我有话说。”那六人不明所以,走了过来。风际中右肘一抬,拍的一声,手肘肘尖撞正韦小宝背心“大椎穴”,左手钢刀挥出,擦擦、啊啊、拍拍、哎唷几下声响,六名天地会兄弟已尽数中刀毙命。他在顷刻间连砍六人,每一刀分别砍中了一人要害。出刀之快,砍杀之狠,实是罕见。苏荃等听得惨呼之声,一齐回过身来,眼见六人尸横就地,或头、或颈、或胸、或背、或腰、或胁,伤口中都是鲜血泉涌,众女无不惊呼失声,脸无人色。
Feng now called over the six other Triad Brothers, who were equally unaware of the recent turn of events. With his right elbow, he dug into the small of Trinket’s back, immobilizing his Great Mallet Point; and with his left hand he swung his sword and, a few well timed and devastating slices later, the six fellow Triads all lay dead on the beach. His swordsmanship was both precise and ferocious. The women watched helplessly as he ran amok. They stared in disbelief at the butchered bodies, and at the blood draining into the sand, and cried out in terror and alarm.

原来风际中眼见已然破面,动起手来,自己只孤身一人,因此上抢先杀了这六名天地会兄弟,一来立威镇慑,好教韦小宝及众女不敢反抗;二来也是少了六个敌人。这么一来,对方人数虽多,却只剩下一个少年,七个女子。他左手长刀回过,又架在韦小宝颈中,说道:“韦大人,咱们下船罢。”他想只须将韦小宝和郑克塽二人擒去呈献皇上,便是立了奇功。这七个女人还是留在岛上,以免到得船中多生他患,自己手下留情,不杀七女,那也是预留地步,免得和韦小宝结怨太深。皇上日后对这少年如何处置,那是谁也料想不到之事。众女见韦小宝受他挟制,都是心惊胆战,不知如何是好。建宁公主却大声怒骂:“你是甚么东西,胆敢如此无礼?快快抛下刀子!”风际中哼了一声,并不理会。他曾随同韦小宝护送她去云南就婚,识得公主,不敢出言顶撞。公主见他不睬,更是大怒,世上除了太后、皇帝、韦小宝、苏荃四人之外,她是谁也不放在眼内,俯身拾起地下一柄单刀,纵身而前,向风际中当头劈落。风际中侧身避过。公主呼呼呼连劈三刀,风际中左右避让。倘若换作别个女人,他早已飞腿将她踢倒。但提刀砍来的是皇帝御妹、金枝玉叶的公主,他心中所想的只是立功升官、报效皇家,如何敢得罪了公主?当下只是闪避。公主骂道:“你这臭王八蛋奴才,站着不许动!我要砍你的脑袋,怎么你这臭头转来转去,老是教我砍不中?我跟皇帝哥哥去说,把你千刀万剐!”风际中大吃一惊,心想这女人说得出,做得到,她跟皇帝是兄妹之亲,自己只是个芝麻绿豆小武官,怎斗得过公主?可是要听她吩咐,将自己的臭头稳摆不动,让她公主殿下万金之体的贵手提刀来砍,似乎总有些难以奉命。
Brother Feng was now left with the seven women and Trinket to deal with. If he could get Trinket and Sir Zheng onto a boat and take them with him to Peking to present to the Emperor, then his own future career would be assured. The seven women he could leave behind on the island. It was impossible to know how things would turn out in the end between the Emperor and Trinket, and he thought it prudent not to alienate Trinket too much by killing them all. He had reckoned without the Princess. She was not used to being ordered around. She reached down to the ground for her sword, and raised it to swing at Brother Feng’s head. Three times she swung. Three times he parried. To any other woman, he would have shown no mercy. But he found it hard to be ruthless with the sister of the Emperor, the sister of the very man to whom he had so recently shifted his allegiance. He tried to dart out of her way. ‘Stand still where you are, you putrid turtle!’ shouted the fearless Princess. ‘Let me split your nasty head in two! If I can’t do it today, I’ll ask my brother to do it for me when he next sees you!’

公主口中乱骂,钢刀左一刀、右一刀的不住砍削。风际中身子微侧略斜,轻轻易易的就避过了,虽然每一刀相差总不过数寸,却始终砍他不着。公主焦躁起来,横过钢刀,拦腰挥去。风际中叫道:“小心!”纵身跃起,眼见她这一刀收势不住,砍向韦小宝肩头,他身在半空,左脚踹出,将韦小宝踹倒在地,同时借势跃出丈余。双儿向前一扑,将韦小宝抱起,飞步奔开。风际中大惊,提刀赶来。双儿武功了得,毕竟力弱,她比韦小宝还矮了半个头,横抱着他只奔出数丈,风际中已然追近。韦小宝背心穴道被封,四肢不听使唤,只道:“放下我,让我放暗器。”可是风际中来得好快,双儿要将韦小宝放下,让他发射“含沙射影”暗器,其势已然不及,危急之中,奋力将他身子抛了出去。风际中大喜,抢过去伸手欲接,忽听得背后嗒的一声轻响,似是火刀、火石相撞,跟着砰的一声巨响,他身子飞了起来,摔倒在地,扭曲了几下,就此不动了。
As she spoke she kept on swinging her sword from side to side, hacking at Feng wildly, and he kept dancing to one side and then to the other, in order to avoid her. One of her fiercest blows was particularly ill’aimed, and Feng could see that she was about to slice heavily into Trinket’s shoulder. He himself was in mid’leap at the time, and he lunged out with his left foot and managed to kick Trinket to the ground. At this point Doublet dashed forward, grabbed her master, and ran. Brother Feng went after them both. Doublet was greatly slowed down by the weight of Trinket, and he soon caught up with them. Trinket himself was still unable to move. ‘Put me down!’ he whispered. ‘I must try to use my darts!’ But there was no time. Doublet, in desperation, tried throwing Trinket beyond Brother Feng’s reach. Feng ran forward and was about to pounce on him when he heard an explosion behind, and was himself thrown headfirst forwards. His body twitched once or twice, then he lay motionless on the sand.

韦小宝摔倒在沙滩上,倒未受伤,一时挣扎着爬不起身,但见双儿身前一团烟雾,手里握着一根短铳火枪,正是当年吴六奇和她结义为兄妹之时送给她的礼物。那是罗刹国的精制火器,实是厉害无比。风际中虽然武功卓绝,这血肉之躯却也经受不起。双儿自己也吓得呆了,这火枪一轰,只震得她手臂酸麻,手一抖,短枪掉在地下。韦小宝惟恐风际中还没死,抢上几步,胸口对准了他,按动腰间机括,一丛钢针射将出去,尽数钉在他身上。但风际中毫不动弹,火枪一轰,早已死得透了。众女齐声欢呼,拥将过来。七个女人再加上一个韦小宝,当真是七张八嘴,不折不扣,你一言,我一语,纷纷询问原由。韦小宝简略说了。双儿和风际中相处甚久,一路上他诚厚质朴,对待自己礼数周到,实是个极本份的老好人,那知城府如此之深,越想越是害怕。她转身拾起短枪,突然间,明白了当年吴六奇与自己义结兄妹的深意:这位武林奇人盼望韦小宝日后娶自己为妻,不过自己乃是丫鬟,身份不配,作了天地会红旗香主的义妹之后,便大可嫁得天地会青木堂的香主了。她念及这位义兄的好意,又见人亡枪在,不禁掉下泪来。
Trinket managed to heave himself up slowly from the ground. He was unscathed. He saw Doublet standing in the midst of a cloud of smoke. In her hand she held a gun-the Russian pistol Beggar Wu had given her months before, when they had sworn their everlasting oath, and had become brother and sister. It was one of a pair that the Satrap had originally given to Trinket. Brother Feng’s kungfu skills were of no avail against it. Doublet was herself in a state of shock, and trembling from the explosion. She let the gun fall to the ground. Trinket staggered over and stood above Brother Feng, releasing another shower of the poisoned darts. But as they entered Feng’s body, there was not the slightest motion or response. Brother Feng was already well and truly dead. A cheer went up from the ladies, and they came crowding round. There was a lot of explaining to be done, and Trinket did his best to tell them the whole story. Doublet had never for a moment suspected Brother Feng. For her, he was just a trusty Triad like all the others. Little had she guessed what dark plans he was hatching. And now he was dead. Looking at the gun lying on the ground, Doublet found herself thinking of the man who had given it to her in the first place’ Beggar Wu, himself now dead. As she thought, it dawned on her that the real reason why he had wanted to form such a special bond with her was so that she would acquire a higher status in the eyes of the world. She would no longer be a maid, but the sworn sister of a General, and therefore eligible one day to marry Trinket-something Wu himself wanted to happen. What a big’hearted man he had been! An eccentric, an idealist. She wept at the thought of his kindness, and of his untimely end.

An Unusual IOU

韦小宝转过身来,只见郑克塽等四人正走向海边,要上小艇,心想:“就这么让他杀了师父,太太平平的离去,未免太便宜了。”当下手持匕首追上,叫道:“且慢!”郑克塽停步回头,面如土色,说道:“韦……韦香主,你已答应放我……放我们走了。”韦小宝冷笑道:“我答应不杀你,可是没答应不砍下你一条腿。”冯锡范大怒,待要发作,但只是手一提,便全身酸软,再也使不出半分力道。这时郑克塽已然心胆俱裂,双膝一软,跪倒在地,说道:“韦……韦香主,你砍了我一条腿,我……我定是活不成的了。”韦小宝摇头道:“活得成的。你欠了我一百万两银子,说是用阿珂来抵押。但她跟我拜过天地,是我明媒正娶的老婆,肚里又有了我的孩子,自愿跟我。你怎能用我的老婆来向我抵押?天下有没这个道理?”这时苏荃、方怡、曾柔、公主等都已站在韦小宝身旁,齐声笑道:“岂有此理!”
Doublet promptly set about releasing Trinket’s points. Trinket noticed that Sir Zheng and his companions were still at the water’s edge, about to embark on their little skiff. That man killed my Shifu! I can’t just let him go scot’free, as if nothing had ever happened!’ he thought indignantly to himself. Pulling out his dagger, he went running towards them. ‘Wait there a minute!’ he cried. Sir Zheng blanched with terror. ‘Lodge Master Wei!’ he stammered. ‘You promised to let me go!’ ‘I promised not to kill you,’ replied Trinket, gloating over Sir Zheng’s discomfiture. ‘I never promised not to hack off one of your legs!’ Feng Xifan would have leapt to Sir Zheng’s defence, but he was still suffering from the effects of the poisoned darts, and could barely move. Sir Zheng fell to his knees, trembling like a helpless child. ‘Lodge Master Wei! If you do that, I’m sure I’ll die! And then-‘ Trinket shook his head. ‘You’ll survive, don’t you worry! You owe me a lot of money, don’t forget. A hundred times ten thousand taels’ a million! I always make sure to keep my creditors alive! And as for offering me my own wife, pregnant with my own child, as security for your loan- I’m afraid I don’t think very much of that idea!’ By now Su Quan and the others were standing behind him and providing orchestrated moral suport.

郑克塽脑中早已一片混乱,但也觉此理欠通,说道:“那……那怎么办?”韦小宝道:“我砍下你一条手臂、一条大腿作抵。你将来还了我一百万两银子,我把你的断臂、断腿还你。”郑克塽道:“刚才你说阿珂卖断给你,一万两……一万两银子的欠帐已一笔勾销。”韦小宝大摇其头,说道:“不成,刚才我胡里胡涂,上了你的大当。阿珂是我的老婆,你怎能将我老婆卖给我自己?好!我将你的母亲卖给你,作价一百万两,又将你的父亲卖给你,作价一百万两,再将你的奶奶卖给你,作价一百万两,还将你的外婆卖给你,作价一百万两……”郑克塽道:“我外婆已经死了。”韦小宝道:“死人也卖。我将你外婆的尸首卖给你,死人打八折,作价八十万两,棺材奉送,不另收费。”郑克塽听他越说越多,心想连死人也卖,自己的高祖、曾祖、高祖奶奶、曾祖奶奶一个个都卖过来,那还了得,就算死人打八折,甚至七折六折,那也决计吃不消,这时不敢说不买,只得哀求:“我……我实在买不起了。”韦小宝道:“好啊。你买不起了,就饶了你。可是已经买了的,却不能退货。你欠我三百八十万两银子,怎么归还?”公主笑道:“是啊,三百八十万两银子,快快还来。”郑克塽哭丧着脸道:“我身边一千两银子也没有,那里拿得出三百八十万两?”
Even Sir Zheng, in his confused state, could see that it didn’t make sense to offer Trinket his own wife. ‘Well, what do you suggest instead?’ ‘What I suggest is this’ I hack off one of your arms, and one of your legs, and then when you’ve paid up the one million, you can CHAPTER 26 415 have them back! How about that’!’ He was enjoying himself. Sir Zheng was desperate. ‘But just now you said that if I let you have Green, outright, that would make us quits!’ Trinket shook his head impressively. ‘Sorry, things have changed since then. I was being stupid. I almost fell for your trick. I’m a lot smarter now. No, I think we may have a very interesting new business proposition here, a little bit along the lines of your original one, only changing one or two details. What I suggest first of all is that ‘ sell you your mother- we’ll call that one million; and then your father-that’ll cost you another million; and then your father’s mother-another million; and your mother’s mother-‘ ‘She’s dead!’ muttered Sir Zheng. ‘So’ I’ll sell you her corpse, then. And since she’s already dead, we’ll knock off twenty per cent. We’ll just call it eight hundred thousand for the old lady, and I’ll throw in the coffin free!’ Sir Zheng could see this very interesting, not to say highly ingenious, new business proposition of Trinket’s going on for ever, and eventually including every one of his paternal and maternal ancestors. Even at thirty and forty per cent discounts, he would never be able to afford Trinket’s asking price. ‘I can’t afford it!’ he wailed.

韦小宝道:“也罢!没有银子,准你退货。你快快将你的父亲、母亲、奶奶、死外婆,一起交还给我。少一根头发也不行。”郑克塽料想如此胡缠下去,终究不是了局,眼望阿珂,只盼她来说个情,可是她偏偏站得远远地,背转了身,决意置身事外。他心中大急,瞧韦小宝这般情势,定是要砍去自己一手一足,不由得连连磕头,说道:“韦香主,我……我害了陈军师,的确是罪该万死,只求你宽洪大量,饶了小人一命。就算是我欠了你老人家三百八十万两银子,我……我一定设法归还。”韦小宝见折磨得他如此狼狈,愤恨稍泄,说道:“那么你写下一张欠据来。”
Trinket was feeling generous. ‘Very well then, I’ll let you off that last one. We’ll just stick to the first three items. That comes to three million taels exactly. Now, how would you like to pay?’ ‘Yes!’ chipped in the Princess with a broad grin on her face. ‘What about payment’ Now! In cash!’ ‘I haven’t a penny on me!’ wailed Sir Zheng. ‘In that case, I’ll have to have the goods back!’ declared the merciless Trinket. That’ll be, let’s see’ your father, your mother, your grandmother-and your mother’s mother’s corpse, plus the coffin. I’ve changed my mind about dropping that last item.’ Sir Zheng looked desperately at Green. But she was standing at a distance, with her back to him, as if she totally disowned him. Sir Zheng frantically kowtowed to Trinket. ‘Lodge Master Wei, I know I did wrong to kill Marshal Chen, and that I deserve to die! But I beg you to spare my life! Whatever I owe you, I swear I’ll find a way of paying it!’ Trinket had already vented a considerable (缺) on the abject creature. He relented slightly. ‘I’ll need some sort of IOU.’

郑克塽大喜,忙道:“是,是。”转身向卫士道:“拿纸笔来。”可是在这荒岛之上,哪里有甚么纸笔?那卫士倒也机灵,当即撕下自己长衫下摆,说道:“那边死人很多,咱们蘸些血来写便是。”说着便要去拖风际中的尸首。韦小宝左手一伸,抓住了郑克塽右腕,白光一闪,挥匕首割下了他右手食指的一节。郑克塽大声惨叫。韦小宝道:“用你指上的血来写。”郑克塽痛得全身发抖,一时手足无措。
‘Of course!’ Sir Zheng was ecstatic. Turning to one of his guards’ ‘Bring me some paper and a writing’brush!’ Such things were not to be found on that desolate beach. But the guard had an idea, and tore off a strip of his own shirt. ‘There are a lot of dead bodies over there’ he said. ‘We can soak this in blood and you can use it to write with.’ He went off to drag over the nearest corpse, which happened to be that of Brother Feng Jizhong. But in that very instant, Trinket reached out and seized hold of Sir Zheng’s right wrist. There was a flash of steel as his dagger sliced off the top joint of the index finger. Sir Zheng howled with pain. ‘Write with that!’ ordered Trinket. Sir Zheng was shuddering with pain, and could hardly coordinate his movements at all.

韦小宝道:“你慢慢写罢,要是血干了不够用,我再割你第二根手指。”郑克塽忙道:“是,是!”哪里还敢迟延,咬牙忍痛,将断了半截的食指在衣裾上写道:“欠银三百八十万两正。郑克扠押。”写了这十三个字,痛得几欲晕去。韦小宝冷笑道:“亏你堂堂的王府公子,平日练字不用功,写一张欠据,几个字歪歪斜斜,全是败笔,没一个胜笔。”将衣裾接了过来,交给双儿,道:“你收下了。瞧瞧银码没短写了罢?这人奸诈狡猾,别少写了几两。”双儿笑道:“三百八十万两银子,倒没少了。”说着将血书欠据收入怀中。韦小宝哈哈大笑,对郑克塽下颏一脚踢去,喝道:“滚你死外婆的罢!”郑克塽一个筋斗,滚了出去。卫士抢上扶起,包了他手指伤口。两名卫士分别负起郑克塽和冯锡范,上了一艘小艇,向海中划去。韦小宝笑声不绝,忽然想起师父惨死,忍不住又放声大哭。郑克塽待小艇划出数十丈,这才惊魂略定,说道:“咱们去抢了大船开走,料得这群天杀的狗男女追赶不上。”可是驶近大船,却见船上无舵,一应船具全无。冯锡范恨恨的道:“这批狗男女收起来了。”眼见大海茫茫,波浪汹涌,小艇中无粮无水,如何能够远航?郑克塽道:“咱们回去再求求那小贼,向他借船,最多又写三百八十万两欠据。”冯锡范道:“他们也只有一艘船,怎能借给咱们?我宁可葬身鱼腹,也不愿再去向这小贼哀求。”郑克塽听他说得斩截,不敢违拗,只得叹了口气,吩咐三名卫士将小艇往大海中划去。韦小宝等望着郑克塽的小艇划向大船,发见大船航行不得,这才划船远去,都忍不住好笑。
‘Take your time!’ said Trinket reassuringly. ‘But whatever you do don’t let the blood dry or I’ll have to chop off another joint. Or another whole finger.’ Sir Zheng gritted his teeth, ripped off a piece of his own shirt’tail, and with the bleeding stump of his finger wrote on it’ T owe Trinket the sum of three million, eight hundred thousand taels exactly. Zheng Keshuang.’ He was almost fainting from the pain. He cowered kneeling and trembling on the ground. ‘Tut tut!’ mocked Trinket. ‘For such a well’bred young man, your handwriting leaves a lot to be desired!’ He took the IOU and handed it to Doublet for safe’keeping. Then he laughed out loud, and gave Sir Zheng a good kick in the face, which sent him reeling across the sand. ‘Now get the <****> out of here!’ Sir Zheng’s guards hurried over to help him up from the ground and bandage his wound. Then they carried him and Feng Xifan onto the skiff, and rowed forlornly out into the open sea. They had no choice’ Shi Lang and the few surviving members of his company had by now sailed away in the large junk, and the only other seaworthy boat available belonged to Trinket, and anyway had had its rudder and sails removed. Trinket watched them, gloating over their humiliation.

The Potluck Island Idyll

苏荃见韦小宝又哭又笑,总是难泯丧师之痛,要说些话引他高兴,便道:“这郑家二公子奸诈之极,明明是想抢咱们的大船。小宝,你这三百八十万两银子的帐,我瞧他是非赖不可。”韦小宝道:“料来这家伙也是不会还的。”苏荃笑道:“你做甚么都精明得很,可是刚才这家伙把你自己的老婆卖给你,一万两银子就算清帐,你想也不想,就没口子答应,定是你爱阿珂妹子爱得胡涂了。那时候,他就是要你倒找一百万两银子,我瞧你也会答应。”韦小宝伸袖子抹了抹眼泪,笑了起来,说道:“管他三七二十一,答应了再说,慢慢再跟他算帐。”方怡问道:“后来怎么才想起原来是吃了大亏?”韦小宝搔了搔头,道:“杀了风际中之后,我心里再没甚么担忧的事,忽然间脑子就清楚起来了。”他本来也并没对风际中有丝毫怀疑,只是内心深处,总隐隐觉得身边有个极大的祸胎,到底是甚么祸胎,却又说不出来,只是没来由的害怕着甚么,待得风际中一死,立时如释重负,舒畅之极,心想:“说不定我早就在害怕这贼,只是连自己也不知道而已。”众人迭脱奇险,直到此刻,所有强敌死的死,逃的逃,岛上才得太平。人人都感心力交瘁。韦小宝这时双脚有如千斤之重,支持不住,便躺在沙滩上休息。苏荃给他按摩背上被风际中点过的穴道。夕阳返照,水波摇晃,海面上有如万道金蛇竞相窜跃,景色奇丽无方。众女一个个坐了下来。过不多时,韦小宝鼾声先作,不久众女先后都睡着了。
When he had ceased weeping, he lay down, exhausted, on the beach. So much had happened in such a short space of time. Although he had never suspected Feng Jizhong of being a traitor, he felt a huge sense of relief now that the man was dead. He must have had an intuition that someone meant him harm. Of his other enemies, none were left on the island. They had all either died, or fled. It had been a very eventful day. There was a strange feeling of peace. Su Quan gently massaged his back, especially the points that Feng Jizhong had closed. The ever rippling waves reflected the light of the setting sun. It was a spectacle of extraordinary beauty, like the glistening coils of a thousand snakes, constantly writhing on the water’s surface. His womenfolk all sat down near him on the sand. In a matter of minutes he was snoring his head off. And not long after, they too were all fast asleep.

Rules for Trinket’s Harem

直到一个多时辰之后,方怡先行醒来,到韦小宝旧日的中军帐茅屋里去弄了饭菜,叫众人来吃。大堂上燃了两根松柴,照得通屋都明。八人团团围坐,吃过饭后,方怡和双儿将碗筷收拾下去。韦小宝从苏荃、方怡、公主、曾柔、沐剑屏、双儿、阿珂七女脸上一个个瞧过去,但见有的娇艳,有的温柔,有的活泼,有的端丽,各有各的好处,不由得心中大乐,此时倚红偎翠,心中和平,比之当日丽春院中和七女大被同眠的胡天胡帝,另有一番平安丰足之乐,笑道:“当年我给这小岛取名为通吃岛,原来早有先见之明,知道你们七位姊姊妹妹都要做我老婆,那是冥冥中自有天意,逃也逃不掉的了。从今而后,我们八个人住在这通吃岛上寿与天齐,仙福永享。”
Fang Yi was the first to awake, about an hour later. She set off down to the other end of the beach to the tent that had once served as Trinket’s headquarters, during the earlier campaign to destroy the Mystic Dragons on nearby Snake Island. There she prepared an evening meal. The inside of the tent was illuminated by two pine torches. They all sat down in a circle and ate their food, and afterwards Fang Yi and Doublet cleared it all away. Trinket surveyed the seven of them’ Su Quan, Fang Yi, the Princess, Zeng Rou, the Little Countess, Doublet, and Green. Each of them had her charms, her individual qualities’ more beautiful to look at, or more tender, or more vivacious, or more graceful. He felt a sense of joy and contentment, of peace and fulfilment. It was a feeling quite different from the one he had experienced that hectic and memorable night in the big bed in the Yangzhou whore’house. This was such a tranquil, almost bucolic scene. Potluck Island’ the place seemed destined to be his earthly paradise! ‘Here we all are, together at last!’ he declared euphorically. ‘Long Life and Blessings to all of us!’

苏荃道:“小宝,这八个字不吉利,以后再也别说了。”韦小宝立时省悟,知她不愿听到任何和洪教主有关之事,忙道:“对,对!是我胡说八道。”苏荃道:“施琅和郑克塽回去之后,多半会带了兵来报仇,咱们可不能在这岛上长住。”众人齐声称是。方怡道:“荃姊姊,你说咱们到哪里去才是?”苏荃眼望韦小宝,笑道:“还是听至尊宝的主意罢。”韦小宝笑道:“你叫我至尊宝?”苏荃笑道:“若不是至尊宝,怎能通吃?”韦小宝哈哈大笑,道:“我名字中有个宝字,本来只道是小小的宝一对,甚么一对五,板凳两张,原来是至尊宝。”眼见众女一齐望自己,微一沉吟,说道:“中原是去不得的。神龙岛离这里太近,那也不好。总得去一个又舒服、又没人的地方。”可是没人的荒僻之处一定不舒服,舒服的地方一定人多。何况韦小宝心目中的舒服,既要赌博,又要看戏文、听说书,诸般杂耍、唱曲、菜肴、点心、美貌姑娘,无一不是越多越好。除了美貌姑娘身边已经颇为不少之外,其余各项,若不是北京、扬州这等天下一等一的繁华之地,那是决计难以住得开心的了。他一想到这些风流热闹,孝心忽动,说道:“我们在这里相聚,也算得十分有趣,只不知我娘一个人孤苦伶仃的,又是怎样?”众女从来没听他提过自己的母亲,均想他有此孝心,倒也难得,齐问:“你娘这时候在哪里?”有的更想:“你娘便是我的婆婆,自该设法相聚,服侍她老人家。”韦小宝叹了口气,说道:“我娘在扬州丽春院。”
‘Trinket!’ protested Su Quan. ‘That’s not in very good taste! I never want to hear that slogan again, as long as I live!’ ‘I’m sorry!’ said Trinket abjectly. His euphoria was short’lived. He soon found himself reflecting, not for the first time, that perhaps, apart from the seven beautiful women with whom it was now peopled, the island had rather little to recommend it. It was not really such a paradise after all. It lacked most of the pleasures and amenities that had made him happy in the past’ gambling dens, theatricals, storytellers, good food, yummy cakes, and so on. The list was endless. And none of the things on it were to be had here. This was obviously going to be a major drawback. Potluck might not prove to be such a lucky place after all. The trouble was, only big bustling cities like Peking and Yangzhou could provide the sort of entertainment that he craved. And in the present circumstances, such places were extremely dangerous for a wanted criminal like himself. Thinking of Yangzhou inevitably made him think of his mother. ‘There’s one person missing here tonight!’ he declared. ‘My mum!’ ‘Where is she?’ asked one of the girls, innocently. He duly replied with a sad sigh’ ‘A long, long way from here. At Vernal Delights, in Yangzhou.’

众女一听到“扬州丽春院”五字,除了公主一人之外,其余六人登时飞霞扑面,有的转过脸去,有的低下头来。公主道:“啊,扬州丽春院,你说过的,那是天下最好玩的地方,你答应过要带我去玩的。”方怡微笑道:“他损你呢,别信他的。那是个最不正经的所在。”公主道:“为甚么不正经?你去玩过吗?为甚么你们个个神情这样古怪?”方怡忍住了笑不答。公主搂住沐剑屏的肩头,说道:“好妹子,你说给我听。”沐剑屏胀红了脸,说道:“那……那是一家妓院。”公主兀自不解,问道:“他妈妈在妓院里干甚么?听说那是男人玩的地方啊。”方怡笑道:“他从来就爱胡说八道,你只要信了他半句话,就够你头痛的了。”
The mention of that den of sin brought a maidenly flush to a number of faces. The only one among them who had not been there with Trinket on that celebrated (and productive) occasion was the Princess. That place?’ she piped up. ‘You’ve talked about it so often, and you always said you wanted to take me there with you one day!’ Fang Yi laughed. ‘He was having you on. It’s a very bad place.’ ‘Why?’ asked the Princess. ‘What’s bad about it’ Have you been there’ Why are you all looking at each other like that’ Have I missed out on something?’ Fang Yi masked a smile. The Princess put her arm round the Little Countess. ‘Sister dear, be nice’ you tell me!’ The Little Countess blushed. ‘It’s … a whore’house.’ ‘A whore’house’! Why would he and I want to go there’ What the tamardy hell would we do in a whore’house?’ exclaimed the perplexed Princess. ‘I thought that was where men went on their own to have a good time.’ Fang Yi laughed. ‘Don’t take any notice of him. He’s always saying stupid things like that!’

那日在丽春院中,韦小宝和七个女子大被同眠,除了公主掉了老婊子毛东珠之外,其余六女此刻都在跟前。公主的凶蛮殊不下于毛东珠,只是既不如她母亲阴毒险辣,又年轻轻美得多。韦小宝暗自庆幸,这一下掉包大有道理,倘若此刻陪着自己的不是公主而是她母亲,可不知如何是好了,说不定弄到后来,自己也要像老皇爷那样,又到五台山去出家做和尚,倘若非做和尚不可,这七个老婆是一定要带去的。

眼见六女神色忸怩,自是人人想起了那晚的情景,他想:“那一晚黑暗之中,我乱搅一起,也弄不清是谁。阿珂和荃姊姊肚里怀了我的孩子,那是两个了,记得还有一个,这可不知是谁,慢慢的总要问了出来。”笑吟吟的道:“咱们就算永远住在这通吃岛上,那也不寂寞啊。荃姊姊、公主、阿珂,你们三个肚子里已有了我的孩儿,不知还有哪一个,肚子里是有了孩儿的?”此言一出,方怡等四女的脸更加红了。沐剑屏忙道:“我没有,我没有。”曾柔见韦小宝的眼光望向自己,便白了他一眼,说道:“没有!”韦小宝道:“好双儿,一定是咱们大功告成了。”双儿一跃而起,躲入了屋角,说道:“不,不!”韦小宝对方怡笑道:“怡姊姊,你呢?你到丽春院时,肚皮里塞了个枕头,假装大肚子,一定有先见之明。”方怡忍不住噗哧一声,笑了出来,啐道:“死太监,我又没跟你……怎么会有……”沐剑屏道:“是哟。师姐、曾姊姊、双儿妹子和我四个,又没跟你拜天地成亲,怎么会有孩子呢?小宝你坏死了,你跟荃姊姊、公主、阿珂姊姊几时拜了天地,也不跟我说,又不请我喝喜酒。”在她想来,世上都是拜天地结了亲,这才会生孩子。

众人听她说得天真,都笑了起来。方怡一面笑,一面伸臂搂住了她腰,说道:“小师妹,那么今儿晚上你就跟他拜天地做夫妻罢。”沐剑屏道:“不成的。这荒岛上又没花轿。我见做新娘子都要穿大红衣裙,还要凤冠霞帔,咱们可都没有。”苏荃笑道:“将就着一些,也不要紧的。咱们去采些花儿,编个花冠,就算是凤冠了。”韦小宝听她们说笑,心下却甚惶惑:“还有一个是谁?难道是阿琪?我记得抱着她走来走去,后来放着她坐在椅上,没抱她上床。不过那晚妞儿们太多,我胡里胡涂的抱了她上床可也说不定,倘若她肚子里有了我的孩子,这小家伙将来要做蒙古整个儿好的王子。啊哟,不好,难道是老婊子?如果是她,归辛树他们可连我的儿子也打死了。”

只听沐剑屏道:“就算在这里拜天地,那也是方师姊先拜。”方怡道:“不,你是郡主娘娘,当然是你先拜。”沐剑屏道:“我们是亡国之人,还讲甚么郡主不郡主。”方怡微笑道:“那么双儿妹子先跟他拜天地罢。你跟他的时候最久,一起出死入生的,患难之交,与众不同。”双儿红着脸:“你再说,我要走了。”说着奔向门口,却被方怡笑着抱住。苏荃向韦小宝笑道:“小宝,你自己说罢。”韦小宝道:“拜天地的事,慢慢再说。咱们明儿先得葬了师父。”众女一听,登时肃然,没想到此人竟然尊师重道,说出这样一句礼义兼具的话来。
Trinket was listening to all of this with a bemused expression on his face. That night in Yangzhou, when he’d snuggled up under that big quilt with seven women, the one difference had been that in the place of the Princess, he’d had her vicious mother the Old Whore. True, the Princess was every bit as troublesome a person as her mother, but at least she was a lot younger, and a lot prettier and sexier, and nothing like as devious and sinister. Trinket found himself breathing a sigh of relief. Life was so unpredictable, he reflected. One should try to be content with what one had.

那知他下面的话却又露出了本性:“你们七人,个个是我的亲亲好老婆,大家不分先后大小。以后每天晚上,你们都掷骰子赌输赢,哪一个赢了,哪一个就陪我。”说着从怀里取出那两颗骰子,吹一口气,骨碌碌的掷在桌上。公主呸了声,道:“你好香么?哪一个输了才陪你。”韦小宝笑道:“对,对!好比猜拳行令,输了的罚酒一杯。哪一个先掷?”
Night fell as Trinket continued to philosophize silently to himself, surrounded by his seven wives. There remained the all’important and pressing question of which of his beauties was to spend the night with him. Fang Yi deferred to the Little Countess on the grounds of her princely blood. The Little Countess deferred to Doublet, on the grounds that she had fought with Trinket though thick and thin for so long. Doublet blushed and threatened to leave altogether, but Fang Yi held her back and hugged her. It was a touching scene. Finally, Su Quan, the Elder Sister of the harem, suggested that Trinket should decide. But by now his thoughts were elsewhere. Tomorrow we must give the Helmsman a proper burial,’ he said. They were all deeply impressed (and enormously surprised) by this evidence of devotion on his part. They were equally taken aback by his next remark’ ‘And as for choosing which one of you is to sleep with me, that’s easy! We’ll roll the dice!’ He took out his dice and threw them on the table. The lucky winner spends the night with me!’

这一晚荒岛陋屋,春意融融,掷骰子谁赢谁输,也不必细表。自今而后,韦家众女掷骰子便成惯例。韦小宝本来和人掷骰赌博,赌的是金银财宝,患得患失之际,乐趣盎然,但他作法自毙,此后自身成为众女的赌注,被迫置身局外,虽有温柔之福,却无赌博之乐了。可见花无常开,月有盈缺,世事原不能尽如人意。
‘Big head!’ Needless to say, it was the Princess who said this. ‘What makes you think it’s such a big deal spending the night with you! [Mucky, I’d call it!’ Trinket laughed. ‘Maybe you’re right! Anyway, who’s rolling first?’ But our history does not narrate the outcome of that first wild night on the island. It simply records that from that day onwards, this method was indeed the method formally adopted by Trinket and his seven wives to resolve this important question.

Modus Vivendi

次日八人直睡到日上三竿,这才起身。韦小宝率领七女,掩埋陈近南的遗体,眼见黄土盖住了师父的身子,忍不住又放声大哭。众女一齐跪下,在坟前行礼。公主心中甚是不愿,暗想我是堂堂大清公主,怎能向你这反贼跪拜?然而心下明白,自己虽是金枝玉叶,可是在韦小宝心目之中,只怕地位反而最低,亲厚不及双儿、美貌不及阿珂、武功不及苏荃、机巧不及方怡、天真纯善不及沐剑屏、温柔斯文不及曾柔,差有一日之长者,只不过横蛮泼辣而已,若是不拜这一拜,只怕韦小宝从此要另眼相看,在骰子中弄鬼作弊,每天晚上赌掷之时,使自己场场大胜。当下委委屈屈的也跪了下去,心中祝告:“反贼啊反贼,我公主殿下拜了你这一拜,你没福消取受,到了阴世,只怕要多吃苦头。”众人拜毕站起,转过身来。方怡突然叫道:“啊哟,船呢?船到哪里去了?”众人听她叫得惊惶,齐向海中望去,只见停泊着的那艘大船已不见了影踪,无不大吃一惊,极目远眺,唯见碧海无际,远远与蓝天相接,海面上数十头白鸟上下飞翔。苏荃奔上悬崖,向岛周眺望,东南西北都不见那船的踪迹。方怡奔向山洞,去查看收藏着的帆舵船具,不出所料,果然已不知去向。众人聚在一起,面面相觑,心下都不禁害怕。
The following morning the eight of them buried the Helmsman’s body, and there was a renewed outpouring of grief. The only exception to this was the Princess, who still in her heart considered him a rebel. But even she forced herself to kneel by his grave and go through the motions. After all, she thought to herself, I may once have been a Manchu Princess. But what am I now’ Just plain Mrs Wei, of Potluck Island. Just one among this man’s seven wives. Doublet is more devoted than I am; Green is prettier; Su Quan is a better fighter; Fang Yi is smarter; the Little Countess is purer and a better person; Zeng Rou is so sweet and childlike. I’d better watch my step, or I’ll end up losing favour in the eyes of my new Lord and Master! And then he’ll fix it so that I lose at dice every night! As they returned from burying the Helmsman, they noticed to their horror that their boat, which they had moored in the bay, their one and only means of leaving the island, had disappeared. They searched the horizon, but saw nothing, nothing but gulls dipping and circling between the blue of the sea and the blue of the sky. Su Quan ran up to the top of the cliff, from where she had a view all round the island. Not a sign of a boat in any direction. Fang Yi ran back to the cave, and sure enough everything had been taken’ sails, oars, rudder, everything. They were stranded.

昨晚八人说笑玩闹,直至深宵方睡,忘了轮值守夜,竟给船夫偷了船具,将船驶走,从此困于孤岛,再也难以脱身。韦小宝想到施琅和郑克塽定会带兵前来复仇,自己八人如何抵敌?就算苏荃、公主、阿珂赶紧生下三个孩儿,也不过十一人而已。苏荃安慰众人:“事已如此,急也无用。咱们慢慢再想法子。”回到屋中,众人自是异口同声的大骂船夫,但骂得个把时辰,也没甚么新鲜花样骂出来了。苏荃对韦小宝道:“眼下得防备清兵重来。小宝,你瞧怎么办?”韦小宝道:“清兵再来,人数定然不少,打是打不过的。咱们只有躲了起来,只盼他们一下子找不到,以为咱们早已乘船走了。”苏荃点头道:“这话很是。清兵决计猜不到我们的船会给人偷走。”韦小宝高兴起来,说道:“倘若我是施琅,就不会再来。他料想我们当然立即脚底抹油,那有傻不哩叽的呆在这里,等他前来捉拿之理?”公主道:“倘若他禀告了皇帝哥哥,皇帝哥哥就会派人来瞧瞧,就算我们已经逃了,也好寻些线索,瞧我们去了哪里。”韦小宝摇头道:“施琅不会禀告皇上的。”公主瞪眼道:“为甚么?”韦小宝道:“他如禀告了,皇上自然就问:为甚么不将我们抓去。他只好承认打了败仗,岂不是自讨苦吃?”苏荃笑道:“很是,很是。小宝做官的本事高明。瞒上不瞒下,是做官的要紧诀窍。”韦小宝笑道:“荃姊姊倘若去做官,包你升大官,发大财。”苏荃微微一笑,心想:“神龙教中那些人干的花样,还不是跟官场中差不多?”韦小宝道:“施琅一说出来,皇上怪他没用,那也罢了,必定还派他带兵前来捉拿。施琅料想我们早已逃走,那里还捉得着?这岂不是自己找自己麻烦?还不如闷声大发财罢。”众女一听都觉有理,忧愁稍解。公主道:“郑克塽那小子呢?他这口气只怕咽不下去罢?”说着向阿珂望了一眼。众人都知道她这话含意,那自是说:“这个如花似玉的阿珂,他怎肯放手,不带兵来夺回去?”阿珂满脸通红,低下了头,说道:“他要是再来,我……我便自尽,决计不跟他去。”语气极是坚决。

韦小宝大喜,心想阿珂对自己向来无情,是自己使尽诡计,偷抢拐骗,才弄到了手,此刻听了这句话,真比立刻弄到十艘大船还要欢喜,情不自禁,便一把抱住了她,在她脸上嗒的一声,亲了一下,说道:“好阿珂,他不敢来的,他还欠了我三百八十万两银子。他有天大的胆子,来见债主?”公主道:“哎唷,好肉麻!他带了兵来捉住了你,将借据抢了过去,又将阿珂夺了去,再将你的爹爹、妈妈、奶奶、外婆卖给你,一共七百六十万两银子,割下你的指头,叫你写一张借据,算欠了他的。”韦小宝越听越恼,如果这些事他能对付得了,也就不会生气,但郑克塽倘若如此这般,依样葫芦,将他的爹爹、妈妈、奶奶、外婆硬卖给他,妈妈倒也罢了,他爹爹是谁却从来不知,不知爹爹是谁,自然更不知奶奶是谁,要将两个连他自己也不知是谁的人卖给他,又坐地起价,涨了一倍,如何承受得落?他大怒之下,厉声道:“别说了!郑克塽这小子倘若领兵到来,我别的谁都不卖,就将一个天下最值钱的皇帝御妹卖给他,附送肚里孩儿一个,作价一千万两。他还要找我二百四十万两银子!这笔生意倒做得过。”公主哇的一声,哭了出来,掩面而走。沐剑屏忙追上去安慰,说料想韦小宝决无此意,不过是吓吓她的,不必难过。
It must have been the boatman, they decided, who had made off with the boat under cover of darkness. They sat down to discuss what best to do, how they could plan for the future. Shi Lang might return with reinforcements, to capture Trinket and take him away. Sir Zheng might return to try and take back Green. At this suggestion, Green blushed fiercely, and swore that if he ever tried to take her back, she would kill herself. Trinket was more pleased to hear her say this than he would have been to learn of the arrival of ten ships! It seemed that she was finally his. After all this time. He threw his arms around her. ‘Darling Green!’ he cried. ‘Don’t be afraid. He’ll never come back. He wouldn’t dare! Don’t forget, he owes me three million, eight hundred thousand taels of silver!’

韦小宝发了一会脾气,却也是束手无策。众人只得听着苏荃指挥,在岛中密林之内找到一个大山洞,打扫布置,作为安身起居的所在,那茅屋再也不涉足一步,只盼施琅或郑克塽重来之时,眼见岛上人迹杳然,只道他们早已远走,不来细加搜索。初时各人还提心吊胆,日夜轮流向海面眺望,过得数月,别说并无清廷和台湾的舰只,连渔船也不见一艘,大家渐渐放下心来,料想施琅不敢多事,而郑克塽坐了小艇,定是在大海中遇风浪沉没了。八人在岛上捕鱼打兽,射鸟摘果,整日价忙忙碌碌,倒也太平无事。好在岛上鸟兽不少,海中鱼虾极丰,八人均有武功,渔猎甚易,是以粮食无缺。
It was Su Quan who finally took the lead, and made one or two sensible decisions. They found a large cave in a thickly forested part of the island, which they thoroughly cleaned out and transformed into a reasonable sort of a dwelling. They decided to abandon the old bivouac on the shore again. That way, if anyone did come looking for them by sea, they would assume that they had already left the island. At first they lived in daily apprehension of some new danger. But as the weeks and months went by, and they saw not a single stranger arrive on the island, not even a stray fisherman, they began to relax a little. No doubt Sir Zheng had been drowned at sea. And probably Shi Lang had decided to stay out of trouble. They caught fish. They trapped wild game. They shot birds with bows and arrows, and gathered the wild fruit that grew in abundance on the island. Their days were busy, and undisturbed.

The Seasons of Potluck Island

秋去冬来,天气一日冷似一日。苏荃、公主、阿珂三人的肚子也一日大似一日。方怡和双儿忙着剥制兽皮,替八人缝制冬衣,三个婴儿的衣衫也一件件做了起来。又过得半月,忽然下起大雪来,只一日一夜之间,满岛都是皑皑白雪。八人早就有备,腌鱼咸肉、柴草干果等物在洞中藏身甚是充足,日常闲谈,话题自是不离那三个即将出世的孩儿。这一晚雪已止了,北风甚劲,寒风不住从山洞板门中透进来。双儿在火堆中加了干柴,韦小宝取出骰子,让众女掷骰。五女掷过后,沐剑屏掷得三点最小,眼见她今晚是输定了。曾柔笑道:“是剑屏妹子输了,我不用掷啦。”沐剑屏笑道:“快掷,快掷!说不定你掷个两点呢。”曾柔拿了骰子在手,学着韦小宝的模样,向着掌中两粒骰子吹了一口气,正要掷出,一阵北风吹来,风声中隐隐似有人声。众人登时变色。苏荃本已睡倒,突然坐起,八人你瞧瞧我,我瞧瞧你,刹那间人人脸无血色。沐剑屏低呼一声,将头钻入了方怡怀里。过得片刻,风声中传来一股巨大之极的呼声,这次听得甚是清楚,喊的是:“小桂子,小桂子,你在哪里?小玄子记挂着你哪!”
Autumn came and went, and soon it was winter. It grew colder every day. And the three expectant mothers grew bigger. Fang Yi and Doublet were busy making warm winter clothes out of the hides of wild animals, for the eight of them, and for the three babies that would be arriving soon. One day, there was a sudden, heavy fall of snow. In a matter of hours, the whole island became glisteningly white. They had made preparations, and their cave was well’stocked with provisions and firewood. One evening the snow stopped falling and a strong wind got up. It came whistling through the cracks in their cave door. Doublet put some more wood on the fire, and Trinket suggested the usual evening game of dice. It was the Little Countess who lost, and who was therefore selected. Just at that moment, they thought they heard a voice carried faintly on the wind. Su Quan had already fallen asleep, but even she started up. They all exchanged startled glances, and the blood drained from their faces. The Little Countess snuggled close to Fang Yi by the fire. Minutes later, they heard it again. But this time it was loud and clear-a huge voice, bellowing’ ‘Laurie! Laurie! Where are you? Misty misses you!’

韦小宝跳起身来,颤声道:“小……小玄子来找我了。”公主道:“小玄子是谁?”韦小宝道:“是……是……”“小玄子”三字,只他一人知道就是康熙,他从来没跟谁说过,康熙自己更加不会让人知道,忽然有人叫了起来,而声音又如此响亮?他全身颤抖,只觉此事实在古怪之极,定是康熙死了,他的鬼魂记挂着自己,找到了通吃岛来。霎时之间,不禁热泪盈眶,从山洞中奔了出去,叫道:“小玄子,小玄子,你找我么?小桂子在这里!”只听那声音又叫:“小桂子,小桂子,你在哪里?小玄子记挂着你哪!”声音之巨,直不似出自一人之口,倒如是千百人齐声呼叫一般,但千百人同呼,不能喊得这般整齐,而一人呼叫,任他内力如何高强,也决不能这般声若雷震,那定是康熙的鬼魂了。韦小宝心中难过已极,眼泪夺眶而出,心想小玄子对我果然义气深重,死了之后,鬼魂还来找我。他平日十分怕鬼,这时却说甚么也要和小玄子的鬼魂会上一面,当下发足飞奔,直向声音来处奔去,叫道:“小玄子,你别走,小桂子在这里!”
Trinket stood up. That’s Misty!’ he cried, and his voice trembled. ‘He’s come to find me!’ ‘And who is Misty?’ asked the Princess. Trinket was trembling from head to foot. The only person in the world (apart from Trinket) who knew of Kang Xi’s secret name was Kang Xi himself. Something very weird was going on. Most probably Kang Xi was dead, and this was his ghost, come all the way to Potluck Island to find him. Tears started to his eyes, and he rushed to the entrance of the cave. ‘Misty!’ he yelled out into the night. ‘It’s me, Laurie! I’m here! I’m coming!’ The same words echoed back’ ‘Laurie! Laurie! Where are you’ Misty misses you!’ It sounded like a giant’s voice, or, to be more precise, like the voices of a thousand men all shouting the same thing but shouting it with one huge voice. It must surely be a ghost, thought Trinket, the ghost of Kang Xi. All his life Trinket had been frightened of ghosts. But if this was his old friend, he must go and see him, come what may! He ran out into the cold night, in the direction of the great voice. ‘Misty! Don’t go! I’m on my way!’

满地冰雪,溜滑异常,他连摔了两个筋斗,爬起来又跑。转过山坡,只见沙滩边火光点点,密若繁星,数百人手执灯笼火把,整整齐齐的排着。韦小宝大吃一惊,叫道:“啊哟!”转身便逃。人丛中抢出一人,叫道:“韦都统,这可找到你啦!”韦小宝跨出两步,便已明白眼下情势,自己踪迹既已给人发见,对方数百人搜将过来,在这小小的通吃岛上决计躲藏不了,听那人声音似乎有些熟悉,当即停步,硬着头皮,缓缓转过身来。那人叫道:“韦都统,大伙儿都想念你得紧。谢天谢地,终于找着你了。”
The snow had frozen hard, and he slipped with every step he took. But he pulled himself up again every time and stumbled on. He finally rounded a corner in the path and came into view of the shore. There were fires lit down the whole length of the beach. They were like stars in the sky. There were literally hundreds upon hundreds of men down there, standing in serried ranks, with lanterns in their hands. Trinket let out a cry of fear, and turned back. But it was too late. He had been seen and heard. A man came running towards him out of the throng. ‘Colonel Wei! We’ve found you at last!’ Trinket knew it was hopeless to flee. So many men, on such a tiny island. They were bound to find him sooner or later. Besides, the man’s voice seemed familiar. He took a deep breath and turned to face him. ‘Colonel Wei!’ the voice continued. ‘We’ve all missed you greatly. Thank heavens we’ve finally found you!’

声音中充满喜悦不胜之情。那人手执火把,高高举起,快步过来,走到临近,认出原来是王进宝。韦小宝和故人相逢,也是一阵欢喜,想起那日在北京郊外,他奉旨前来捉拿,却故意装作不见,拚着前程和性命不要,放走了自己,的确是义气深重,今日是他带队,纵有凶险,也有商量余地,当下微笑道:“王三哥,你的计策妙得很啊,可骗了我出来。”王进宝抛掷火把在地,躬身说道:“属下决计不敢相欺,实不知都统是在岛上。”韦小宝微笑道:“这是皇上御授的锦囊妙计,是不是?”王进宝道:“那日皇上得知都统避到了海外,便派属下乘了三艘海船,奉了圣旨,一个个小岛挨次寻来。上岛之后,便依照皇上的圣旨,这般呼喊。”这时双儿、苏荃等都已赶到,站在韦小宝身后,又过一会,方怡、公主、阿珂三人也都到了。韦小宝回头向公主道:“你皇帝哥哥本事真好,终于找到咱们啦。”王进宝认出了公主,跪下行礼。公主道:“皇上派你来抓我们去北京吗?”王进宝忙道:“不,不是。皇上只派小将出海来寻访韦都统,全不知公主殿下也在这里。”公主低头瞧了一眼自己凸起的大肚子,脸上一阵红晕。王进宝向韦小宝道:“属下是四个多月前出海的,已上了八十多个小岛呼喊寻访,今晚终于得和都统相遇,实是欢喜得紧。”韦小宝微笑道:“我是犯了大罪之人,早就不是你上司了,这都统、属下的称呼,咱们还是免了罢。”王进宝道:“皇上的意思,都统听了宣读圣旨之后,自然明白。”转身向人群招了招手,说道:“温公公,请你过来。”人群中走出一个人来,一身太监服色,却是韦小宝的老相识,上书房的太监温有方。他走近身来,朗声道:“有圣旨。”温有方是韦小宝初进宫时的赌友,掷骰子不会作弊,是个“羊牯”,已不知欠了他多少银子。韦小宝青云直上之后,每次见到,总还是百儿八十的打赏。韦小宝听得“有圣旨”三字,当即跪下。
The man seemed to speak with genuine joy. He lifted high his torch and came hurrying towards Trinket, who finally recognized him as his old subordinate, Wang Jinbao. Wang had helped him once before in a tight spot. Trinket was glad to see him. ‘Friend Wang, what a clever ruse! It must have been the Emperor’s idea!’ By now the womenfolk had arrived. Trinket turned to the Princess. ‘It seems that your brother the Emperor has finally found us!’ Wang Jinbao knelt when he realized it was the Princess. ‘I suppose His Majesty wants us all to go back?’ she said. ‘As a matter of fact, Your Highness, no. His Majesty did not even know that you were here,’ replied Wang. The Princess looked down at her (by now) very large stomach and flushed. Wang turned to Trinket. ‘I have been at sea for four months, and called in at over eighty islands looking for you. It is such a joy to have found you, Colonel!’ Trinket protested that he was no longer in anyone’s service, whether military or civil, and that such titles were quite out of order. Wang replied that before he said anything further, Trinket should hear the Emperor’s Edict. He called forward one of his aides, and as the man approached, Trinket recognized him as Wen Youfang, his old gambling friend, the eunuch from Kang Xi’s Upper Library. Wen proceeded to read out the Edict.

Two Tamardy Edicts

温有方道:“这是密旨,旁人退开。”王进宝一听,当即远远退开。苏荃等跟着也退了开去。公主却道:“皇帝哥哥的圣旨,我也听不得吗?”温有方道:“皇上吩咐的,这是密旨,只能说给韦小宝一人知道,倘若泄漏了一字半句,奴才满门抄斩。”公主哼了一声,道:“这么厉害!你就满门抄斩好了。”料想自己在旁,他决不肯颁旨,只得退了开去。温有方从身边取出两个黄纸封套,韦小宝当即跪下,说道:“奴才韦小宝接旨。”温有方道:“皇上吩咐,这一次要你站着接旨,不许跪拜磕头,也不许自称奴才。”韦小宝大是奇怪,问道:“那是甚么道理?”温有方道:“皇上这么吩咐了,我就跟你这么说,到底是甚么道理,你见到皇上时自己请问罢。”韦小宝只得朗声道:“是,谢皇上恩典。”
‘This Edict is marked Highly Confidential,’ announced Wen. ‘All others must absent themselves, save the recipient, Lord Wei.’ Trinket fell to his knees, and kowtowed before the bearer of the Imperial Communication, and Wang Jinbao and his men immediately withdrew to a discreet distance. The womenfolk all did likewise, except for the Princess, who registered a protest as the Emperor’s sister. But when Eunuch Wen informed her that he was under the strictest orders to communicate the Edict to Lord Wei, and to Lord Wei only, on pain of death, and the probable execution of his own entire family, she relented and went with the others. ‘His Majesty commands me to communicate these two Edicts to you personally. You are to receive them standing.’

站起身来。温有方将一个黄纸封套递了给他,说道:“你拆来瞧罢。”韦小宝双手接过,拆开封套,抽出一张黄纸来。温有方左手提起灯笼,照着黄纸。韦小宝见纸上画了六幅图画。第一幅画的是两个小孩滚在地下扭打,正是自己和康熙当年摔角比武的情形。第二幅图画是众小孩捉拿鳌拜,鳌拜扑向康熙,韦小宝刀刺鳌拜。第三幅画着一个小和尚背负一个老和尚飞步奔逃,后面有六七名喇嘛持刀追赶,那是他在清凉寺相救老皇爷的情状。第四幅白衣尼凌空下扑,挺剑行刺康熙,韦小宝挡在他身前,代受了一剑。
Trinket rose to his feet, and received in both hands the first Imperial’yellow envelope handed to him by the eunuch. He opened it, and unfolded the sheet of yellow paper it contained. On it was a series of six pictures. The first showed two boys wrestling on the floor’ this was clearly supposed to be Misty and Laurel, the boyhood sparring partners. The second showed Oboi, in the midst of a crowd of young eunuchs, lurching towards Kang Xi, with Trinket in the act of stabbing him. The third showed a young monk carrying an older monk, running, hotly pursued by a group of Lamas, armed with swords’ this was clearly supposed to be a depiction of the time he had saved the Old Emperor, alias Brother Wayward, in the Wutai Mountains. The fourth showed a Nun dressed in white, descending from the ceiling to attack Kang Xi, and Trinket defending him and receiving a sword wound.

第五幅画的是韦小宝在慈宁宫寝殿中将假太后踏在地下,从床上扶起真太后。第六幅画的是韦小宝和一个罗刹女子、一个蒙古王子、一个老喇嘛,一齐揪住一个老将军的辫子,瞧那老将军的服色,正是平西亲王,自是说书小宝用计散去吴三桂的三路盟军。
The fifth showed Trinket in the Palace of Maternal Tranquillity, trampling the Old Whore on the ground, and propping up the True Empress Dowager in bed. The sixth and last picture showed Trinket with a Russian Princess, a Mongol Prince, and an old Tibetan Lama, dragging a big whiskered gentleman (clearly Satrap Wu) along by the pigtail’ a reference to Trinket’s ‘great diplomatic coup’ in breaking up the Russian’Mongolian’Tibetan axis which Satrap Wu had been trying to create against the Manchus.

康熙雅擅丹青,六幅画绘得甚为生动,只是吴三桂、葛尔丹王子、桑结喇嘛、苏菲亚公主四人他没见过,相貌不像,其余人物却是个个神似,尤其韦小宝一幅惫懒顽皮的模样,更是维妙维肖。六幅画上没写一个字,韦小宝自然明白,那是自己所立的六件大功。和康熙玩闹比武本来算不得是甚么功劳,但康熙心中却是念念不忘。至于炮轰神龙教、擒获假太后、捉拿吴应熊等功劳,相较之下便不足道了。韦小宝只看得怔怔发呆,不禁流下泪来,心想:“他费了这么多功夫画这六幅图画,记着我的功劳,那么心里是不怪我了。”
On the whole, Kang Xi had done a good job of the pictures. He personally had never set eyes on Satrap Wu, Galdan, Sangge, or Sophia, so it was not surprising if they hardly resembled the originals at all. But the others were very lifelike. Especially Trinket, whose lazy, mischievous personality had been captured to perfection by the Imperial brush. There was not a single word on the sheet of paper, but Trinket understood the meaning exactly. These were his Six Great Achievements. The youthful sparring hardly counted as an ‘achievement’, but Kang Xi clearly had fond memories of it. And several of his ‘minor achievements’, such as the destruction of Snake Island, and the capture of the Old Whore after her escape, had not been included. Trinket stared at the pictures a long while, deep in thought. Tears started to his eyes. ‘If he was prepared to go to all this trouble, it must mean he has forgiven me!’ Eunuch Wen waited patiently before enquiring’

温有方等了好一会,说道:“你瞧清楚了吗?”韦小宝道:“是。”温有方拆开第二个黄纸封套,道:“宣读皇上密旨。”取出一张纸来,读道:“小桂子,他妈的,你到哪里去了?我想念你得紧,你这臭家伙无情无意,可忘了老子吗?”韦小宝喃喃的道:“我没有,真的没有。”中国自三皇五帝以来,皇帝圣旨中用到“他妈的”三字,而皇帝又自称为“老子”,看来康熙这道密旨非但空前,抑且绝后了。
‘My Lord, have you “perused” the Edict sufficiently?’ ‘I have.’ Wen now opened the second yellow envelope, and took out another sheet of yellow paper. ‘I will now read the text of the Confidential Edict itself,’ he announced. He unfolded the second sheet of paper, cleared his throat, and began’ ‘Laurie! Tamardy! Where the popping hell have you got to’ I’ve missed you like anything, damn it! You really are the most filthy, stinking, putrid turtle, to go and forget your old chum!’* ‘I never forgot you’ mumbled Trinket. ‘Never.’

温有方顿了一顿,又读道:“你不听我话,不肯去杀你师父,又拐带了建宁公主逃走,他妈的,你这不是叫我做你的便宜大舅子吗?不过你功劳很大,对我又忠心,有甚么罪,我都饶了你。我就要大婚啦,你不来喝喜酒,老子实在不快活。我跟你说,你乖乖的投降,立刻到北京来,我已经给你另外起了一座伯爵府,比先前的还要大得多……”韦小宝心花怒放,大声道:“好,好!我立刻就来喝喜酒。”温有方继续道:“咱们话儿说在前头,从今以后,你如再不听话,我非砍你的脑袋不可了,你可别说我骗了你到北京,又来杀你。你姓陈的师父已经死了,天地会跟你再没甚么干系,你得出点力气,把天地会给好好灭了。我再派你去打吴三桂。建宁公主就给你做老婆。日后封公封王,升官发财,有得你乐子的。小玄子是你的好朋友,又是你师父,鸟生鱼汤,说过的话死马难追,你给我快快滚回来罢!”
Eunuch Wen paused for effect before continuing’ ‘You’ve disobeyed me; you refused to follow my orders and take your Shifu’s life. You ran away with my sister! Tamardy! But I’ll still forgive you everything, if you just jolly well surrender and come back to Peking. I’ve already built you a new palace, and it’s much grander than your old one. And another thing’ I’m getting married! I really want you to be here for the party.’ At the word ‘party’, Trinket’s eyes lit up. There were not many parties on Potluck Island. ‘That’s it!’ he cried. ‘I’m on my way out of here!’ Wen continued to read’ ‘But I must insist that from now on you obey me. Otherwise I’ll chop your head off. I really will. Now that your Shifu’s dead, there’s nothing to stop you from dealing with those Triads. I want the lot of them wiped out. I mean it! The lot of them! Then I’ll send you off to fight Satrap Wu. And you can marry my sister. I’ll make you a proper Prince, I’ll make you richer and more powerful than you’ve ever dreamed of being. I’m your friend, Laurie. And I’m your Shifu- remember’ Holy Sage and Onion! A man’s word is his wand-remember’ So just bugger on back up here, will you!’

* Our author notes that this is certainly the one and only verifiable occasion in the entire recorded annals of Chinese history that an occupant of the Dragon Throne has been known to use the vulgar expressions ‘tamardy!’ and ‘old chum!’ in a formal Edict.

温有方读完密旨,问道:“你都听明白了?”韦小宝道:“是,都听明白了。”温有方将密旨伸入灯笼,在蜡烛上点燃了,取出来烧成了一团灰烬。韦小宝瞧着那道密旨着火后烧成火焰,又火灭成灰,心中思潮起伏,蹲下身来,拨弄那堆灰烬。温有方满脸堆笑,请了个安,笑道:“韦大人,皇上对你的宠爱,那真是没得说的。小的今后全仗你提拔了。”韦小宝黯然摇头,寻思:“他要我去灭天地会。这件事可太也对不起朋友。要是我这种事也干,岂不是跟吴三桂、风际中一般无异,也成了大汉奸、乌龟王八蛋?小玄子这碗饭,可不是容易吃的。这一次他饶了我不杀,话儿却说得明明白白,下一次可一定不饶了。但我如不肯回去,不知他又怎样对付我?”问道:“我要是不回北京,皇上要怎样?叫你们抓我回去,还是杀了我?”温有方满脸诧异之色,说道:“韦大人不奉旨?哪……哪有这等事?这……这不是……唉,违旨的事,那是说也说不得的。”韦小宝道:“你跟我说老实话,我要是不奉旨,那就怎样?”温有方搔了搔头,说道:“皇上只吩咐小的办两件事,一件是将一道密旨交给韦大人,另一件是待韦大人看了第一道密旨之后,再拆阅另一道密旨宣读。这密旨里说的甚么话,小的半点不懂。其余的事,那是更加不知道了。”
Wen had finished declaiming the Imperial document. ‘Did you understand it all, Lord Wei?’ ‘Every word’ replied Trinket. Wen held the sheet of paper in the flame of his lantern, and set the sacred document on fire. Trinket watched as Misty’s Imperial excursion into the vernacular turned to ash. He was deep in thought. ‘How can I possibly do what he asks’ Turn on my own friends’ Why, then I’d be a traitor, no better than the Satrap, or Feng Jizhong. But if I refuse to go back, who knows what the Emperor will do!’ He put the question to Wen’ ‘And if I won’t come back with you, what are your orders’ To take me by force’ To kill me?’ Wen lookly deeply shocked. ‘I cannot believe that Lord Wei is even contemplating the possibility of disobeying the Edict!’ ‘Just answer my question, will you?’ said Trinket. Wen scratched his head. ‘I really don’t know.’

韦小宝点点头,走到王进宝身前,说道:“王三哥,皇上的密旨,是要我回京办事,可是……可是你瞧,公主的肚子大得很了,我当真走不开。要是不奉旨回京,皇上要你怎样对付我?”心想:“先得听听对方的价钱。倘若说是格杀勿论,我就投降,否则的话,不妨讨价还价。”王进宝道:“皇上只差属下到各处海岛寻访韦都统,寻到之后,自有温公公宣读密旨。以后的事,属下自然一切听凭韦都统差遣。”韦小宝大喜,道:“皇上没有叫你捉我、杀我?”王进宝忙道:“没有,没有,哪有此事?皇上对韦都统看重得很。韦都统一进京,定然便有大用,不做尚书,也做大将军。”韦小宝道:“王三哥,不瞒你说,皇上要我回京,带人去灭了天地会。我是天地会的香主,这等杀害朋友的事,是万万干不得。”王进宝为人极讲义气,对韦小宝之事也早已十分清楚,听他这么说,不禁连连点头,心想为了升官发财而出卖朋友,那可猪狗不如。韦小宝又道:“皇上待我恩重如山,可是吩咐下来的这件事,我偏偏办不了。我不敢去见皇上的面,只好来世做牛做马,报答皇上的大恩了。你见到皇上,请你将我的为难之处,分说分说。本来嘛,忠义不能两全,做戏是该当自杀报主,虽然割脖子痛得要命,我无可奈何,也只好尽忠报国了。”王进宝将心比心,自己倘若遇此难题,也只有出之以自杀一途,既报君皇知遇之恩,亦不负朋友相交之义,急忙劝道:“韦都统不可出此下策,咱们慢慢的想法子。待属下将都统这番苦衷回禀皇上。张提督、赵总兵、孙副将几位,这几个月来都立了些功劳,很得皇上看重,大伙儿拚着前程不要,无论如何要为韦都统磕头求情。”
Trinket walked over to where Wang Jinbao was standing. ‘Wang, old friend, His Majesty orders me to return to Peking. But I really can’t. I mean, look at Her Highness the Princess, she’s going to have her baby any day now. I can’t possibly leave her!’ Wang replied’ ‘My orders were simply to find you. And Wen Goong’goong’s orders are to deliver the Edict. That is all.’ ‘My friend’ said Trinket, in a somewhat uncharacteristic fit of honesty. ‘I want to tell you the truth. His Majesty wants me to go back to Peking to help him wipe out the Triads. But the trouble is, I’m a Triad Lodge Master myself. I can’t possibly turn against my own friends and kill them. I’d rather kill myself.’ As a matter of fact, Wang already knew all of this. And he had nothing but respect for Trinket’s decision. He nodded his head gravely. To sell one’s friends for the sake of one’s own advancement was beneath contempt. ‘Do nothing rash, Colonel’ he said. ‘Remember your friends. We all think of you.’

韦小宝见他一副气急败坏的模样,心中暗暗好笑:“要韦小宝自杀,那真是日头从西天出了。别说自杀,老子就割自己一个小指头儿也不会干。再说,小玄子要杀我就杀,要饶我就饶,他自己可不知道多有主意,凭你们几个人磕几个响头,又管甚么用?”但见他义气深重,心下也自感激,握住了他手,说道:“既是如此,就烦王三哥奏告皇上,说韦小宝左右为难,横剑自刎,幸蒙你抢救,才得不死。”王进宝道:“是,是!”心想温太监就在旁边,一切亲眼目睹,如此欺君,只怕要拆穿西洋镜,不由得露出为难之色。韦小宝哈哈大笑,说道:“王三哥不必当真,我是说笑呢。皇上深知韦小宝的为人,自杀是挺怕痛的。你一切据实回奏罢。”王进宝这才放心。韦小宝心想倘若坐他船只回归中原,再逃之夭夭,皇上定要降罪,多半会杀了他头,自己如出言求恳,他在势不能拒绝,可是那未免太对不起人了,说道:“咱们正事说完啦。王三哥,兄弟在这荒岛上,很久没赌钱了,实在没趣之极,咱们来掷两把怎样?”王进宝大喜,他赌性之重,绝不下于韦小宝,当没有对手之时,往往左手和右手赌,当下连声称好,迫不及待,命手下兵士搬过一块平整的大石,六名兵士高举灯笼在旁照着,呼吆喝六,便和韦小宝赌了起来。不久温有方,以及几名参将、游击也加入一起掷骰,围在大石旁的越来越多。沐剑屏看得疑窦满腹,悄悄问方怡道:“师姊,他们为甚么掷骰子?难道输了的便……便……可是他们都是男人啊。”方怡噗哧一声,笑了出来,低声道:“哪个输了,哪个便来陪你。”沐剑屏虽不明白世务,却也知决无此事,伸手到方怡腋窝里呵痒,二女笑成一团。一场赌博,直到天明方罢。韦小宝面前银子堆了高高的三堆,一来手气甚旺,二来大出花样,众官兵十个中倒有九个输了。韦小宝兴高采烈,一转头间,只见公主、阿珂、沐剑屏三女已倚在石上睡着了,苏荃、方怡、双儿、曾柔四人睡眼惺忪,强自支撑着在旁相陪,不由得心感歉仄,将面前三大堆银子一推,说道:“王三哥,这里几千两银子,请你代为赏了给众兄弟罢。各位来到荒岛之上,没甚么款待的,实在不好意思。”
Trinket shook him warmly by the hand. Then I can count on you to take a message to the Emperor, that I am desperately sorry, but I can’t obey his command?’ ‘You can count on me.’ ‘Excellent!’ cried Trinket. ‘So much for business. Now let’s have a game of dice. Tamardy, it’s been an age since I had a decent game! There’s no one I can play with properly on this wretched island!’ Wang was almost as much of a compulsive gambler as Trinket, and agreed willingly. He ordered some of his men to drag a flat stone over beside one of the bigger fires, then he sat down to play with Trinket. Six soldiers stood around them with lanterns raised aloft, to illuminate the proceedings. It was not long before Wen Goong’goong and one or two of the junior officers joined in the game, which lasted well into the early hours. By that time Trinket had won heavily, and was feeling very happy with himself. He looked up to see that three of his women-the Princess, Green, and the Little Countess-had fallen asleep by the fire, while the four others were struggling to stay awake. He felt a little guilty at having kept them up all night. There was still thick snow on the ground, and they must have been freezing. ‘Here, friend Wang.’ He pushed his big pile of winnings across the stone ‘table’. ‘Distribute this among your men.’

众官兵本已输得个个脸如土色,一听之下,登时欢声雷动,齐声道谢。王进宝吩咐官兵划了小艇回船,将船上的米粮、猪羊、好酒、药物,以及碗筷、桌椅、锅镬、菜刀等物一艇艇的搬上岛来。又指挥官兵在林中搭了几大间茅屋。人多好办事,几百名官兵落力动手,数日之间,通吃岛上诸事灿然齐备,这才和韦小宝别过。温有方临别之时,才知这岛名叫通吃岛,不由得连连跺脚叹气,说道早知如此,定要请韦小宝让他推几铺庄,在通吃岛上做闲家打庄,岂有不给通吃之理?过得十余日,阿珂先产下一子,次日苏荃又产下一子。公主却隔了一个多月,才生下一女,她见人家生的都是儿子,自己却偏偏生了个女儿,心中生气,连哭了几日。韦小宝不住安慰,说自己只喜欢女儿,不爱儿子,这才哄得她破涕为笑。
Trinket had taken the money off them in the first place, and they were beginning to feel the pinch. This impulsive generosity on his part (for which Trinket had always been famous) cheered them up no end. Wang gave orders for some of the men to row back to the ship and bring supplies ashore for Lord Wei and his lady’friends’ grain, meat, wine, and all manner of crockery, chopsticks, tables and chairs, and sundry items of cooking equipment. He also sent off a sizeable detail to erect a few cabins in the forest. In a few days, Potluck Island had been transformed into a considerably more comfortable living environment, and Wang felt he could safely leave. Domestic Details A fortnight or so later, Green gave birth to a son, and the very next day Su Quan also had a baby boy. It was another month before the Princess gave birth, to a daughter. She was very upset to be the mother of a girl, when the other two had both had boys, and she cried about it for several days. Trinket reassured her, and constantly reminded her that all his life he had preferred girls, and really had little time for boys. In the end she dried her tears, and began to be a little more cheerful.

三个婴儿倒有七个母亲,虽然人人并无育婴经验,七手八脚,不免笑话百出,但三个婴儿倒也都甚壮健活泼。众女恭请韦小宝题名。韦小宝笑道:“我瞎字不识,要我给儿子、姑娘取名字,可为难得很了。这样罢,咱们来掷骰子,掷到甚么,便是甚么。”当下拿起两粒骰子,口中念念有词:“赌神菩萨保祐,给取三个好听点儿的名字。”第一个!掷了下去,一粒六点,一粒五点,是个“虎头”。韦小宝笑道:“阿大的名字不错,叫作韦虎头。”第二次掷了个一点和六点,凑成个“铜锤么六”,老二叫作“韦铜锤”。第三次掷下去,第一粒骰子滚出两点,第二粒骰子转个不停,终于也是个两点,凑成一张“板凳”。韦小宝一怔之下,哈哈大笑,说道:“咱们大姑娘的名字可古怪了,叫作‘韦板凳’!”众女无不愕然。公主怒道:“难听死了!好好的闺女,怎能叫甚么板凳、板凳的,快另掷一个。”韦小宝道:“赌神菩萨给取的名字,怎能随便乱改?”将女婴抱了过来,在她脸上嗒的一声,亲了个吻,笑道:“韦板凳亲亲小宝贝儿,这名字挺美啊。”
They were sturdy, lively babies, and their seven ‘mothers’ certainly had plenty of fun learning how to look after them. Trinket was asked to think of names for them. Predictably, he suggested throwing dice. Mumbling a little improvised prayer, along the lines of ‘Dear God of Gambling, we pray you to give us three fine’sounding names for our children’, Trinket threw the first dice. A Five and a Six, the combination known as the Tiger. ‘My first’bom son certainly has a fine name!’ exclaimed Trinket with a merry laugh. Tiger Wei!’ The second throw produced a One and a Six, the combination known as the Mallet. So the second boy was duly called Mallet Wei. The third throw produced two Twos’ commonly known as the Bench. Trinket was somewhat taken aback. Then he laughed. ‘Strange name for our girl! Miss Bench Wei!’ The women were appalled. ‘That’s horrible!’ said the Princess angrily. ‘We can’t possibly call our daughter Bench! Throw again!’ ‘You can’t just change the Gambling God’s chosen names!’ Trinket picked the baby girl up and gave her a little kiss on the cheek. There’s a nice kiss for Miss Bench! See, it’s a lovely name really!’

公主怒道:“不行,不行!说甚么也不能叫板凳。孩子是我生的,这样难听的名字,我可不要。”韦小宝道:“哼,孩子是你生的,你一个人生得出吗?”公主抢过骰子,说道:“我来掷,掷了甚么,就叫甚么。”韦小宝无奈,只得由她,说道:“好罢,这一次可不许赖!倘若也掷了虎头、铜锤呢?”公主道:“跟她哥哥一样,也叫虎头、铜锤好了。”把骰子在掌中不住摇动,说道:“赌神菩萨,你如不给我闺女取个好听名儿,我砸烂了你这两粒臭骰子。”一把掷下,两粒骰子滚了几滚,定将下来,天下事竟有这般巧,居然又都是两点,仍是一张“板凳”。公主口瞪目呆之余,哇的一声,大哭起来。众人又是惊讶,又是好笑。苏荃笑道:“妹子你别着急!两点是双,两个两点是双双。咱们闺女叫作‘韦双双’,你瞧好不好呢?”公主破涕为笑,登时乐了,笑道:“好,好!这名字挺有趣的,跟双儿妹子差不多。”双儿也很喜欢,将韦双双接过去抱在怀里,着实亲热。沐剑屏笑道:“双儿妹妹,你这样爱她,快喂她吃奶呀。”双儿红着脸啐了一口,道:“还是你喂!”伸手去解她衣扣。沐剑屏急忙逃走。众女笑成一团。
‘No it’s noiV protested the Princess shrilly. ‘She’s my daughter, and I absolutely refuse to call her Bench! I refuse!’ She took the dice from Trinket and insisted on throwing them again herself. She rolled them around in the palm of her hand, mumbling as she did so’ ‘Dear God of Gambling, give me a pretty name for my little girl, or I’ll crush these dice of yours into little pieces!’ This time, you must promise to accept the decision of the God!’ declared Trinket. ‘I promise.’ She rolled the dice. To her great dismay, she came up with another double Two. The God definitely seemed to have Bench in mind. The Princess howled with disappointment. Su Quan comforted her’ ‘Don’t be sad, sister. We can give her a nice nickname. Since she had a double number, why don’t we call her Little Double! That’s a bit like Doublet, too.’ The Princess was slightly mollified by this proposal.

通吃岛上添了三个婴儿,日子过得更加热闹。自从王进宝送了大批粮食用具之后,诸物丰足,不必日日渔猎,只是兴之所至,想吃些新鲜鱼虾野味,才去动手。初时大家也还担心康熙呼召韦小宝不至,天威不测,或有后患,但过得数月,一无消息,也就渐渐不将这事放在心上了。到得这年夏天,王进宝忽又率领大船数艘到来,宣读圣旨。这次的圣旨却是骈四骊六,文辞深奥。韦小宝一句不懂,全仗苏荃解说。原来康熙于前事一句不提,却派了一名参将,率兵五百,驻岛保护公主。此外还有十六名男仆、八各女仆、八名丫环,诸般用具、食物,满满的装了三大船。韦小宝暗暗发愁:“小玄子赏了我这许多东西,只怕是要叫我在这通吃岛上长住一世了。”他生性好动,岛上岁月虽然无忧无虑,又有七个如花似玉的夫人相伴,可是太平日子过得久了,实在乏味无聊,有时回忆往事,反觉在丽春院中给人揪住了小辫子又打又骂,来得精神爽利。
With the three babies, life on Potluck Island became positively jolly. Thanks to Wang Jinbao’s provisions, they were now able to live in much greater comfort than before. And as the months went by, and there was no sign of a return visit by the Imperial troops, bearing further Edicts from the Emperor, they all began to feel less threatened. The summer of the following year, Wang Jinbao did return, this time with a long, formally worded Edict, and a detachment of five hundred soldiers whose mission was to protect the Princess. No mention was made of his previous expedition. But the soldiers brought with them all sorts of stores, and an additional retinue of maids and servants. Trinket had mixed feelings about this new contingent of Imperial ‘minders’. It was beginning to seem as if he was destined to live out his days on Potluck Island. And that was not a prospect that greatly excited him. He sometimes yearned for the rough’and’tumble of life as he had lived it in Yangzhou. He yearned to be spanked and scolded. To have a bit of fun.

Earl of Potluck Island

这年十二月间,康熙差了赵良栋前来颁旨,皇帝立次子允礽为皇太子,大赦天下,韦小宝晋爵一级,封为二等通吃伯。韦小宝设宴请赵良栋吃酒,席上赵良栋说起讨伐吴三桂的战事,说道吴三桂兵将厉害,王师诸处失利。韦小宝道:“赵二哥,请你回去奏知皇上,说我在这里实在闷得无聊,还是请皇上派我去打吴三桂这老小子罢。”赵良栋道:“皇上早料到爵爷忠君爱国,得知吴逆猖獗,定要请缨上阵。皇上说道,韦小宝想去打吴三桂,那也可以,不过他先得给我灭了天地会。否则的话,还是在通吃岛上钓鱼捉乌龟罢。”
The next expedition arrived in the twelfth month of the same year, under the command this time of Brigadier Zhao Liangdong. They brought the news that Kang Xi had designated his infant son, Yin Reng, the Heir Apparent, and in honour of the occasion had declared a General Amnesty. Trinket had been given a new honorary rank, Earl of Potluck Island, Second Class. Over dinner, Brigadier Zhao reported on the war against Satrap Wu, which was not proceeding too smoothly. Trinket asked him to take a message back to the Emperor, saying that he, Trinket, was still eager to join in the ‘war, and help punish the traitor Wu. ‘His Majesty is aware of your devotion to the Throne, Lord Wei, and is himself anxious to enlist your service in this war. But he continues to insist that you must first wipe out the Triad organization. If you still refuse to do so, he asks me to tell you that you’d better get used to the idea of spending the rest of your days here on Potluck Island, fishing and catching turtles!’

韦小宝眼圈红了,险些哭了出来。赵良栋道:“皇上说,从前汉朝汉光武年轻的时候,有个好朋友叫做严子陵。汉光武做了皇帝之后,这严子陵不肯做大官,却在富春江上钓鱼。皇上又说,从前周武王的大臣姜太公,也在渭水之滨钓鱼。周武王、汉光武都是古时候的好皇帝,可见凡是好皇帝,总得有个大官钓鱼。皇上说道,皇上要做鸟生鱼汤,倘若韦爵爷不给他捉鸟钓鱼,皇上怎做得成鸟生鱼汤呢?韦爵爷,属下是粗人,为甚么皇上要派爵爷在这里捉鸟钓鱼,实在不大明白。不过皇上英明得很,想来其中必有极大的道理。”韦小宝道:“是,是!”只有苦笑。明知康熙是开自己的玩笑,看来自己如果不答应去灭天地会,皇帝是要自己在这里钓一辈子的鱼了。这五百名官兵说是在保护公主,其实是狱官狱卒,严加监视,不许自己离岛一步。他越想越悲苦,一席酒筵草草终场,竟然酒后赌钱也不赌了,回到房中,怔怔的落下泪来。七位夫人见韦小宝哭泣,都感惊讶,齐来慰问。他将康熙这番话说了。公主怒道:“是啊!皇帝哥哥真要升你的官爵,从三等伯升为二等伯就是了,哪有甚么‘二等通吃伯’的道理。咱们大清只有昭信伯、威毅伯,要不然是襄勤伯、承恩伯,你本来是三等忠勇伯,那就挺好,这‘通吃伯’三字,明明是取笑人。他……他……一点也不把我放在心上。”韦小宝道:“通吃伯倒也没甚么,这通吃岛的名字是我自己取的,也不能怪皇上。我是通吃岛岛主,自然是通吃伯了,总是比‘通赔伯’好得多。荃姊姊,你怎生想个法子,咱们逃回中原去,我……我实在想念我妈妈。”苏荃摇头道:“这件事可实在难办,只有慢慢等机会罢。”韦小宝拿起茶碗,呛啷一声,在地下摔得粉碎,怒道:“你就是不肯想法子,好,我将来一个人悄悄溜了,大家可别怪我。我……我……我宁可去丽春院提大茶壶做王八,也不做这他妈的通吃伯,这可把人闷都闷死了。”
Trinket was almost in tears. The five hundred soldiers that had been there ever since the summer were in reality his prison waraers. even nis new title seemed like a cruel joke. It was more of a life sentence than a life peerage. He could see no way out of his confinement. The dinner was called to a premature close. Even Trinket was in no mood for gambling that night. He went back to his room, and sat there moping and staring into space, the occasional tear stealing down his face. His seven wives tried to cheer him up. He begged Su Quan to think of some means of getting back to the mainland. ‘I can think of nothing at the moment’ she said. ‘We must just be patient, and wait for something to turn up.’ ‘I’m fed up!’ cried Trinket petulantly, picking up a teacup and hurling it at the floor. ‘I think I’ll just run away on my own! I don’t want to be some tamardy Potluck Earl cooped up for the rest of my life on this boring dump of an island! I’d rather be a turtle of a waiter working in a whore’house! It’d be a whole lot more fun!’

苏荃也不生气,微笑道:“小宝,你别着急,总有一天,皇上会派你去办事。”韦小宝大喜,站起来深深一揖,道:“好姊姊,我跟你赔不是了。快说,皇上会派我去办甚么事?只要不是打天地会,我……我甚么事都干。”公主道:“皇帝哥哥要是派你去倒便壶、洗马桶呢?”韦小宝怒道:“我也干。不过天天派你代做。”公主见他脾气很大,不敢再说。沐剑屏道:“荃姊姊,你快说,小宝当真着急得很了。”苏荃沉吟道:“做甚么,我是不知道。但推想皇帝的心思,总有一日会叫你去北京的。他在逼你投降,要你答应去灭天地会。你一天不答应,他就一天跟你耗着。小宝,你要做英雄好汉,要顾全朋友义气,这一点儿苦头总是要吃的。又要做英雄,又想听粉头唱十八摸,这英雄可也太易做了。”韦小宝一想倒也有理,站起身来,笑道:“我又做英雄,自己又唱十八摸,这总可以了罢?”跟着便唱了起来:“一呀摸,二呀摸,摸到荃姊姊的头发边……”伸手向苏荃头上摸去。众人嘻笑声中,一场小风波消于无形。

此后日复一日,年复一年,韦小宝和七女便在通吃岛上耽了下去。每年腊月,康照必派人前来颁赏,赏赐韦小宝的水晶骰子、翠翡牌九、诸般镶金嵌玉的赌具不计其数。幸好通吃岛上多了五百名官兵,韦小宝倒也不乏赌钱的对手。这一年孙思克到来颁赏。韦小宝见他头戴红宝石顶子,穿的是从一品武官的服色,知道是升了提督,忙向他恭喜:“孙四哥,恭喜你又升了官啦!”孙思克满脸笑容,向他请安行礼,说道:“那都是皇上恩典,韦爵爷的栽培提拔。”开读圣旨,却原来是朝廷平定三藩,云南平西王吴三桂、广东平南王尚之信、福建靖南王耿精忠先后削平。康熙论功行赏,以二等通吃伯韦小宝举荐大将,建立殊勋,甚可嘉尚,特晋爵为一等通吃伯,荫长子韦虎头为云骑尉。韦小宝谢恩毕,收了康熙所赏的诸般赐物,其中竟有一座大理石屏风,便是当年在吴三桂五华宫的书房中所见,是吴三桂的三宝之一。
Days, months, years went by. And for Trinket and his seven wives, life continued uneventfully on the island. Every winter, in the twelfth month, Kang Xi sent a regular expedition with presents for everyone. On one occasion, Trinket received a set of crystal dice, and gambling accessories made from precious stones. At least with his full’time ‘prison’ guard of five hundred, Trinket did not lack for people to gamble with. Then one year, the usual twelfth month expedition was led by Colonel Sun Sike. Trinket noticed that his old friend was wearing a ruby button on his official cap, and the uniform of a military mandarin of the first rank, second division. He had clearly been promoted, and Trinket congratulated him heartily. Sun hastened to read him an Edict containing the good news that the Satrap and his fellow rebels in Guangdong and Fujian (Shang Zhixin and Geng Jingzhong)-the Three Feudatories as they were known-had finally been defeated. The war was over! Sun Sike, as one of the generals active in the war, had been promoted. And Trinket had been promoted too! From Earl Second Class to Earl First Class. And his first son, Tiger, had been made a Baronet. Among the presents sent by Kang Xi was the exquisite screen of Dali marble that had once belonged to the Satrap (and that Trinket had once seen in Wu’s study in Kunming). It had been one of the Satrap’s Three Treasures. And now it belonged to Trinket.

张勇、赵良栋、王进宝、孙思克等也各有厚礼。当晚筵席之上,孙思克说起平定吴三桂的经过。原来张勇在甘肃、宁夏一带大破吴三桂大军,屡立大功,现下已封了一等侯,加少傅,兼太子太保,官爵已远在韦小宝之上。孙思克说张侯爷当年给归辛树打了一掌之后,始终不能复原,骑不得马,也不能站立,打仗时总是在坐轿子中指挥大军。韦小宝啧啧称奇,说道:“抬轿子的可也得是勇士才行,否则张老哥大叫冲锋,四名轿夫却给他来个向后转,岂不糟糕?”孙思克道:“是啊。张侯爷临阵之时,轿子后面一定跟着刀斧手,抬轿的倘若要向后转,大刀斧头就砍将下来了。”孙思克又说到赵良栋如何取阳平关、定汉中、克成都、攻下昆明,功劳甚大,皇上封他为勇略将军、兼云贵总督、加兵部尚书衔。王进宝和他自己,也各因力战而升为提督。韦小宝见他说得眉飞色舞,自己不得躬逢其盛,不由得怏怏不乐,但想四个好朋友都立大功、封大官,又好生代他们欢喜。孙思克道:“我们几个人常说,这几年打仗,那是打得十分痛快,饮水思源,都是全仗皇上知遇之恩,韦爵爷举荐之德,倘若是韦爵爷做平西大元帅,带着我们四人打吴三桂,那才是十全十美了。赵二哥和王三哥常常吵架,吵到了皇上御前,连张大哥也压他们不下。皇上几次提到韦爵爷,说如此吵架,怎对得起你,他们两个才不敢再吵。”韦小宝微笑道:“他二人本来一见面就吵架,怎么做了大将军之后,这脾气还不改?”孙思克道:“可不是吗?两个人分别上奏章,你说我的不是,我说你的不是。幸好皇上宽洪大量,概不追究,否则的话,只怕两个都要落个处分呢。”韦小宝道:“吴三桂那老小子怎么了?你有没有揪住他辫子,踢他妈的几脚?”
During that evening’s banquet, Colonel Sun related the course of the war. Trinket’s four deputies-Sun himself, Wang Jinbao, Zhang Yong, and Zhao Liangdong-had all distinguished themselves in some way, especially Zhang Yong, who had been in command of the north’western provinces of Gansu and Ningxia, and had successfully routed Wu Sangui’s armies as he marched south. He had been promoted to an even higher eminence than Trinket, and was now a Marquis First Class, with the honorary title of Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. Sun explained that ever since he had been wounded by old Gui that night, Zhang had been unable to use his leg properly, and could not even ride a horse. He had been obliged to direct military operations from a sedan chair. All this talk of military exploits was beginning to make Trinket feel very left out of things. But he was happy that his friends had done so well. ‘And what about Satrap Wu’ I hope you managed to give that ugly old turtle a good tamardy kick up the pants!’

孙思克摇头道:“这老小子的运气也真好……”韦小宝惊道:“给他逃走了?”孙思克道:“那倒不是。他到处吃败仗,占了的地方一处处失掉,眼看支持不住了,就想在临死之前过一过皇帝瘾,于是穿起黄袍,身登大宝,定都衡州。咱们听得他做了皇帝,更是唏哩花啦的狠打,他几个大败仗一吃,又惊又气,就呜呼哀哉了。”韦小宝道:“原来如此。倒便宜了这老小子。”孙思克道:“吴逆死后,他部下诸将拥立他孙子吴世璠继位,退到昆明。赵二哥打到昆明,把吴逆的大将夏国相、马宝他们都抓来斩了。吴世璠自杀,天下就太平了。”
Sun shook his head. ‘He just started to lose one battle after another. With each defeat he had to retreat, and he ended up controlling less and less territory. But even though things were going so badly for him, he insisted on making himself an emperor, so he dressed himself up as one, and sat on a throne, and called himself the First Emperor of the Shun Dynasty! So we laid into him some more, and finally he couldn’t hold out any longer. After he was dead, they made his grandson the new Emperor in Kunming. Old Zhao Liangdong marched his men down to Kunming, and inflicted a major defeat on what was left of the Wu forces. Two of the old Satrap’s generals, Xia Guoxiang and Ma Bao, were captured in the fighting and executed. In the end, the new Emperor took his own life. And then it was all over.’

韦小宝道:“昆明有一件国宝,却不知怎样了?”孙思克道:“甚么国宝?属下倒没听说过。”韦小宝道:“那是件活国宝,便是天下第一美人陈圆圆了。”孙思克笑道:“原来是陈圆圆,可没听到她的下落。不知是在乱军中死了呢,还是逃走了。”韦小宝连称:“可惜,可惜!”心想:“阿珂是我老婆,陈圆圆是我货真价实的岳母大人。赵二哥要是俘虏了她,知道是我岳母,自然要送到通吃岛来,让她和阿珂母女团聚。她母女团聚也不打紧,我们岳母女婿团聚,可大大的不同。别的不说,单是听她弹起琵琶,唱唱圆圆曲、方方歌,当真非同小可。丈母娘通吃是不能吃的,不过‘女婿看丈母,馋涎吞落肚’,那总可以罢?”宴后回到内堂,向七位夫人说起。阿珂听说母亲不知所踪,虽然她自幼为九难盗去,不在母亲身边,但母女亲情,不免也感伤心。韦小宝劝阿珂不必担心,说她母亲不论到了甚么地方,那“百胜刀王”胡逸之一定随侍在侧,寸步不离,说道:“阿珂,这胡大哥的武功高得了不得,你是亲眼见过的了,要保护你母亲一人,那是易如反掌。”阿珂心想倒也不错,愁眉稍展。

韦小宝忽然一拍桌子,叫道:“啊哟,不好!”阿珂惊问:“甚么?你说我娘有危险么?”韦小宝道:“你娘倒没危险,我却有大大的危险。”阿珂奇道:“怎么危险到你身上了?”韦小宝道:“胡大哥跟我八拜之交,是结义兄弟。倘若他在兵荒马乱之中,却跟你娘搂搂抱抱,勾勾搭搭,可不是做了我的岳父吗?这辈份是一塌胡涂了。”阿珂啐了一口,白眼道:“这位胡伯伯是最规矩老实不过的,你道天下男子,都像你这般,见了女人便搂搂抱抱、勾勾搭搭吗?”韦小宝笑道:“来来来,咱们来搂搂抱抱、勾勾搭搭!”说着张臂向她抱去。韦小宝升为“一等通吃伯”之后,岛上厨子、侍仆、婢女又多了数十人。韦虎头身在襁褓之中,便有了“云骑尉”的封爵。荒岛生涯,竟然也是锦衣玉食,荣华富贵,只不过太也安逸无聊,韦小宝千方百计想要惹事生非,搞些古怪出来,须知不作荒唐之事,何以遣有涯之生?只可惜七位夫人个个一本正经,日日夜夜,看管甚紧,连公主这等素爱胡闹之人,也不肯追随他兴风作浪,这位一等通吃伯缚手缚脚,只有废然长叹。

想起孙思克所说征讨吴三桂大小诸场战事,有时惊险百出,有时痛快淋漓,自己却置身事外,不能去大显身手,实是遗憾之极;自己若在战阵之中,决计不能让吴三桂如此一死了之,定会想个法子,将他活捉了来,关入囚笼,从湖南衡州一路游到北京,看一看收银子五钱,向他吐一口唾沫收银子一两,小孩减半,美女免费。天下百姓恨这大汉奸切骨,我韦小宝岂有不花差花差哉?吴三桂已平,仗是没得打的了,但天下除了打仗之外,好玩之事甚多,只要到了人多之处,自有生发热闹,总而言之,须得先离开通吃岛;但七个夫人、两个儿子、一个女儿,寸步不离的跟着,便如是十块大石头吊在颈中,要想一齐偷偷离开通吃岛,委实难之又难,不如撇下这十个人,自己想法子溜了罢。自从送走孙思克后,每日里就在盘算这个主意。有时坐在大石上垂钓,想像坐在大海龟背上,乘风破浪,悠然而赴中原,不亦快哉?这一日将近中秋,天时仍颇炎热,韦小宝钓了一会鱼,心情烦躁,倚在石上正要朦胧入睡,忽听得有声音说道:“启禀韦爵爷:海龙王有请!”
Trinket asked what had happened to Chen Yuanyuan, the Peerless Consort, but Sun was unable to give him any news. There was no sign of her. Nobody knew if she had been killed during the fighting, or if she had succeeded in escaping. After Sun Sike’s departure, Trinket felt more cooped up and bored than ever. He seemed to be forever sitting on a rock and fishing. And his ten dependants (seven wives and three children) began to seem like millstones round his neck. More and more he dreamed of escaping on his own. Of leaving Potluck Island for ever. It was almost the Mid’Autumn Festival, and the weather was still quite hot. Trinket went fishing, and ended up as usual fretting about his confinement on the island. He lay down on the rocks with his head on a stone, his line idly in one hand, and was dozing off, when suddenly he heard a voice’ ‘Your Excellency Lord Wei, the Dragon King requests the pleasure of your company!’

韦小宝大奇,凝神看时,只见海中浮起一头大海龟,昂起了头,口吐人言:“东海龙王他老人家在水晶宫中寂寞无聊,特遣小将前来恭请韦爵爷赴宴,宴后豪赌一场。海龙王以珊瑚、水晶下注,陆上的银票一概通用。”韦小宝大喜,叫道:“妙极、妙极!这位高邻如此客气,自然是要奉陪的。”那大龟道:“水晶宫中有一部戏班子,擅做群英会、定军山、钟馗嫁妹、白水滩诸般好戏。有说书先生擅说大明英烈传、水浒传诸般大书。又有无数歌女,各种时新小调,叹五更、十八摸、四季相思无一不会。海龙王的七位公主个个花容月貌,久慕韦爵爷风流伶俐,都盼一见。”
Trinket was astonished to hear this and gazed out to sea, where the voice seemed to be coming from. There, floating on the water, he saw a huge turtle, rearing its great head. It spoke again’ ‘The Dragon King of the Eastern Sea finds life lonely and boring in his Crystal Palace under the waves. He has sent me to request the presence of His Excellency Lord Wei at an underwater banquet, to be followed by a watery game of dice. His Majesty will be placing bets with precious stones-coral, crystal, and such like- but ordinary silver taels will be accepted too.’ ‘Excellent! What fun!’ cried Trinket. The turtle messenger went on to describe the various actors and storytellers who would be providing entertainment that night in the Dragon King’s palace beneath the sea. There would be singsong’girls galore singing The Eighteen Touches’, and others of Trinket’s favourite ditties, such as The Five Watches of the Night’, or The Four Seasons of Love’. The Dragon King had no fewer than seven princesses, each more beautiful than the last, and they had all been yearning for a chance to meet the dashing Lord Wei!

韦小宝只听得心痒难搔,连称:“好,好,好!咱们这就去罢。”那大龟道:“就请爵爷坐在小的背上,摆驾水晶宫去者。”韦小宝纵身一跃,坐上大龟之背。那大龟分开海波,稳稳游到了水晶宫。东海龙王亲自在宫外迎接,携手入宫。南海龙王已在宫中相候。欢宴之间,又有客人络绎到来,有猪八戒和牛魔王两个妖精,张飞、李逵、牛皋、程咬金四位大将,纣王、楚霸王,隋炀帝、明正德四位皇帝。这四帝、四将、一猪一牛二龙四位神魔,个个都是古往今来、天上地下兼海底最胡涂的大羊牯。宴后开赌,韦小宝做庄,随手抓牌,连连作弊,每副牌不是至尊宝,就是天一对,只赢得那十二人哇哇大叫,金银财宝输尽皆堆在韦小宝身前,最后连纣王的妲己、正德皇帝的李凤姐,以及猪八戒的钉耙、张飞的丈八蛇矛也都赢了过来。待得将李逵的两把板斧也赢过来时,李逵赌性不好,一张黑脸只胀得黑里泛红,大喝一声:“贼厮鸟,做人见好就该收了。你赢了人家婆娘,也不打紧,却连老子的吃饭家伙也赢了去,太也没有义气。”一把抓住韦小宝胸口,提起醋缽大的拳头,打将下来,砰的一声,打在他耳朵之上,只震得他耳中嗡嗡作响。
‘Wonderful!’ cried Trinket impatiently. ‘Let’s go! What are we waiting for!’ ‘Just climb aboard,’ announced the turtle, ‘and we’ll be off.’ In one movement, Trinket was astride the turtle, which parted the waves and plunged down deeper and deeper into the murky depths of the ocean. They were greeted by the Dragon King in person, who led them on into his palace. His royal cousin the Dragon King of the South Sea was also there. The party began, and a host of guests arrived. There was Pigsy, the fat porcine personification of Greed that Trinket knew from countless plays; there was the Bull Demon King; there were all sorts of great generals and kings of legend; and there was host of grotesque submarine extras. When they had finished eating, the gambling began. Trinket was banker. And he just kept winning and winning. There was one particular player who could not bear to lose, and started hitting him, boxing him on the ears. Trinket’s head started buzzing.

韦小宝大叫一声,双手一提,一根钓丝甩了起来,钓鱼钩钩在他后领之中,猛扯之下,鱼钩入肉,全身跟着跳起。霎时之间,甚么李逵、张飞、海龙王全都不知去向,待得惊觉是南柯一梦,却又听得砰的一声大响,起自海上。
Trinket let out a great cry, and as he did so he pulled his line flying in. The hook caught on his neck, and he leapt to his feet in pain. His dream faded away. But even as the dream and its wonderful revelry melted into thin air, an alarming reality took its place, in the form of a loud explosion coming from the sea right in front of him.

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