The Deer And The Cauldron 49

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The Deer And The Cauldron 49
第四十九回 好官气色车裘壮 独客心情故旧疑

Chapter 28-In which Trinket returns yet again to Peking, and 501 is obliged to supervise the Execution of his Old Friend Whiskers Mao; he meets Four Gentlemen of the Resistance; and finally decides to call it a Day and retire from Public Life Altogether

An Old, Bewhiskered Friend-Making Choices-Trinket the Debt’Collector-A Small Favour-Necessity, the Mother of Trinketian Invention-Aftermath of an Execution- Safe House-Who’d ever choose to be Emperor’-The Urchin Academician-A Puddle tells All-The Way of the Prince – Not Today, not Tomorrow, not Ever!-A Man can only be Who He Is-The Murdering of Trinket-Just like Yours! Epilogue-The Never’Ending Quest

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An Old, Bewhiskered Friend

韦小宝凯旋回京。大军来到北京城外,朝廷大臣齐在城门口迎接。韦小宝率同佟国纲、索额图、马喇、阿尔尼、马齐、朋春、萨布素、郎坦、巴海、林兴珠等朝见康熙。皇帝温言奖勉,下诏韦小宝进爵为一等鹿鼎公,佟国纲、索额图等大臣以及军官士卒各有升赏。此后数日,康熙接连召见韦小宝,询问攻克雅克萨、划界订约的经过详情。韦小宝据实奏告,居然并不如何夸张吹牛。康熙甚是欢喜,赞他大有长进,对他七名夫人和两个儿子都加颁赏。这日康熙赐宴抚远大将军、鹿鼎公韦小宝暨此役有功诸臣。康熙在席上题了两首诗,陪宴的翰林学士尽皆恭和,庆功纪盛。宴罢,韦小宝捧了御赐珍物,得意洋洋的出得宫来,从官前呼后拥,打道回府,忽听得大街旁有人大呼:“韦小宝,你这忘恩负义的狗贼!”
An Old, Bewhiskered Friend Trinket returned from Nerchinsk to Peking in total triumph. All the chief ministers of state came out to the city gates to greet his carriage. He went immediately to see the Emperor, together with all the other mandarins who had accompanied him on his mission, including’ Songgotu, Pengcun, Sabsu, and Lin Xingzhu. Kang Xi expressed his enormous pleasure at the success of the negotiations, and elevated Trinket (yet again!) to Duke of Luding First Class. There was nowhere higher for him to rise now, other than to a Princedom of the Realm. The others were also rewarded with appropriate promotions. In a private audience, Trinket gave a truthful enough account of the taking of Fort Albazin and the final settling of the border treaty. Kang Xi, to express his pleasure, gave presents for Trinket’s wives and children, and threw a grand banquet for him that very evening. After the banquet, Trinket was carried home in great state, with a number of official criers clearing the way for him and others following in the rear. Suddenly, from the depths of his palanquin, he heard a very familiar voice, shouting from the roadside: There goes Trinket Wei-I know him! I’d know that little guttersnipe anywhere, the filthy, rotten knave, the dirty, ungrateful scoundrel!’

韦小宝吃了一惊,更听得声音颇为熟悉,侧头瞧去,只见一条大汉从屋檐下窜到街心,指着他破口大骂:“韦小宝,你这千刀万剐的小贼,好好的汉人,却去投降满清,做鞑子的走狗奴才。你害死了自己师父,杀害好兄弟,今日鞑子皇帝封了你做公做侯,你荣华富贵,神气活现。你奶奶的,老子白刀子进,红刀子出,在你小贼身上戳<脏话>十七廿八刀,瞧你还做不做得成乌龟公、甲鱼公?”这大汉上身赤膊,胸口黑毵毵地生满了长毛,浓眉大眼,神情凶狠,正是当年携带韦小宝来京的茅十八。韦小宝一呆之际,早有数十名亲兵围了上去。茅十八从绑腿中拔出短刀,待要抵抗,众亲兵一齐出手,有的伸刀架在他颈中,有的夺下他手中短刀,横拖倒曳的拉过,绑了起来。茅十八兀自骂不绝口:“韦小宝,你这婊子生的小贼,当年老子带你到北京,真是错尽错绝,我对不起陈近南陈总舵主,对不起天地会的众家英雄好汉。老子今日就是不想活了,要让天下众人都知道,你韦小宝是卖友求荣、忘恩负义的狗贼,你只想升官发财,做鞑子皇帝的走狗……”
Trinket looked out through the curtains and in the dark he saw a great burly figure of a man come out from under the eaves, running towards him, gesticulating wildly, and swearing nineteen to the dozen’ ‘Trinket Wei! You shameless rogue! You’ve sold out to the Manchu Tartars! You’ve killed your own Shifu, and your own Brothers, brave men and true! So the Emperor made you a Duke for it, did he! Well bully for you! Because I’m going to run this sword of mine right through you, Duke Puke!’ As the man came closer, Trinket could see that he was completely naked down to the waist. He was a fierce’looking character, with a very hairy chest, bushy eyebrows, and big, deepset eyes. And then suddenly Trinket knew who it was. It was none other than his old friend, the very man who had brought him to Peking in the first place-the outlaw Whiskers Mao, his Would’be Master! Mao pulled out the short’sword he was carrying concealed in his leggings and dashed towards Trinket; but before he knew what was happening, a dozen guards had pounced on him, beaten him up, and bound him tight. None of this deterred Mao from continuing his tirade’ ‘You dirty little son of a whore! And to think it was I who brought you here in the first place! And you-with all that fancy talk about Honour and Brotherhood- ended up selling out to the Tartars and betraying your own friends! You’ve got the Helmsman’s blood on your foul turtle hands!’

众亲兵打他嘴巴,他始终骂不绝口。韦小宝急忙喝止亲兵,不得动粗。一名亲兵取出手帕,塞入茅十八嘴里。茅十八犹自呜呜之声不绝,想必仍在痛骂。韦小宝吩咐亲兵:“将这人带到府里,好生看守,别难为了他,酒食款待,等一会我亲自审问。”韦小宝回府后,在书房中设了酒席,请茅十八相见,生怕他动粗,要苏荃和双儿二人假扮亲随,在旁侍候。亲兵押着茅十八进来,韦小宝命除去茅十八身上铐镣,令亲兵退出。韦小宝含笑迎上,说道:“茅大哥,多日不见,你好啊。”茅十八怒道:“我有甚么好不好的?自从识得你这个贼之后,本来好端端地,也变得不好了。”韦小宝笑道:“茅大哥且请宽坐,让兄弟敬你三杯酒,先消消气。兄弟甚么地方得罪了茅大哥,你喝了酒之后,再骂不迟。”茅十八大踏步上前,喝道:“我先打死你这小贼再喝酒。”伸出碗大拳头,呼的一声,迎面向韦小宝击去。
The guards began to punch him on the mouth, but even that failed to stop him cursing and swearing. Trinket ordered them not to treat the man so roughly. Finally they stuffed a handkerchief in his mouth in a last effort to silence him, and now all he could utter was a series of muffled (but still outraged) grunts and groans. Take this man to my palace,’ ordered Trinket. ‘Don’t be too hard on him. Give him food and drink. I shall question him myself later.’ As soon as he reached home, Trinket had a meal set out for two in his study, and invited Whiskers to join him. As a precaution, he secretly told Su Quan and Doublet to stand by, disguised as menservants. Mao was brought in, and Trinket gave orders that his gag and shackles were to be removed, and that the two of them were to be left alone. He gave Whiskers a smiling welcome. ‘Brother Mao! How have you been keeping?’ ‘Me’ Keeping?’ blustered the still unrepentant Whiskers. ‘I’ve been keeping extremely poorly, I’d have you know, ever since the day I met you!’ ‘Please sit down, Brother Mao,’ said Trinket. ‘Have a drink or two, and relax. Then we can talk about whatever it is you think I’ve done to offend you.’ ‘I’ll kill you first!’ cried Whiskers, and advanced on Trinket, brandishing his great fists.

苏荃抢将上去,伸左手抓住了茅十八的手腕,轻轻一扭,右手在他肩头拍了两下。茅十八登时半身酸麻,不由自主的坐入椅中。他又惊又怒,使劲跳起,骂道:“小贼……”苏荃站在他背后,双手拿住他两肩的“肩贞穴”,又轻轻向下一按,茅十八抗拒不得,只得重行坐下。他身形魁梧,少说也有苏荃两个那么大,但为她高深武功所制,缚手缚脚,只有乖乖的坐着,更是恼怒,大声道:“老子今日当街骂你这小汉奸,原是拚着没想再活了,只是要普天下世人知道你卖师卖友的卑鄙无耻……”韦小宝道:“茅大哥,我跟皇上办事。是去打罗刹鬼子,又不是去杀汉人,这可说不上是汉奸啊。”茅十八道:“那……那你为甚么杀死你师父陈近南?”韦小宝急道:“我怎会害我师父?我师父明明是给郑克塽那小子杀死的。”茅十八怒斥:“你这时候还在抵赖?鞑子皇帝他妈的圣旨之中,说得再也清楚不过了。”韦小宝惊道:“皇上的圣旨之中,怎……怎会说我害死师父?”心中一片迷惘,转头向苏荃瞧去。苏荃道:“皇上前几天升你为一等鹿鼎公,颁下的诰命中叙述你的功劳,也不知道诰命是谁写的,其中说你‘举荐良将,荡平吴逆,收台湾于版图;提师出征,攻克进城,扬国威于域外’,那都是对的。可是又有两句话说:‘擒斩天地会逆首陈近南、风际中等,遂令海内跳梁,一蹶不振;匪党乱众,革面洗心’,那便不对了。”韦小宝皱眉道:“什么洗面割心的,到底说些甚么?”苏荃道:“诰命里说你抓住陈近南、风际中等人杀了,吓得天地会的人再也不敢造反。”韦小宝跳起身来,大叫:“哪……哪有这事?这不是冤枉人吗?”苏荃缓缓摇头,道:“风际中做奸细,确是咱们杀的,圣旨里的话没错,就只多了‘陈近南’三字。”韦小宝急道:“陈近南是我恩师,我……我怎么会害他老人家?皇上……皇上这道圣旨……唉……你见了圣旨,怎不跟我说?”苏荃道:“咱们商量过的,圣旨里多了‘陈近南’三字,你如知道了,一定大大的不高兴。”韦小宝知道所谓“咱们商量过的”,便是七个夫人一齐商量过了,转头向双儿瞧去,双儿点了点头。

韦小宝道:“茅大哥,我师父的的确确不是我害的。那风际中是天地会的叛徒,他……他暗中向皇帝通风报信……”茅十八冷笑道:“那么你倒是好人了?”韦小宝颓然坐倒,说道:“我跟皇上分说去,请他改了……改了……改了……”他说三个“改了”,却知道康熙决不致因圣旨中多了‘陈近南’三字,会特地另发上谕修改,心想:“不知那个狗贼多嘴,去跟皇上说我害死师父。在皇上看来,这是我的忠心,可是……可是……我韦小宝还算是人吗?”他心中焦急,突然间哇的一声,哭了出来,叫道:“茅大哥,荃姊姊,好……好双儿,我没害死我师父!”三人见韦小宝忽然大哭,都吃了一惊。苏荃忙走过去搂住他肩头,柔声道:“那郑克塽在通吃岛上害死你师父,咱们都是亲眼见到的。”说着取出手帕,给他抹去了眼泪。茅十八这时才看了出来,这个武功高强的“亲兵”原来竟是女子,不禁大为惊诧。韦小宝想起一事,说道:“茅大哥,郑克塽那小子也在北京,咱们跟他当面对质去,谅他也不敢抵赖。对,对!咱们立刻就去……”
Su Quan rushed forward, seized Whiskers’ wrist in her left hand, and gave it a sharp twist, while at the same time striking him twice on the shoulder with her right hand. Whiskers went numb immediately, and slumped into a chair, still cursing and swearing, still struggling to jump up and fight, and muttering, ‘Little guttersnipe!’ Su Quan was by now astride his shoulders, and had both hands pressing his twin shoulder points. He sank helplessly back into the chair. He was easily twice her size, but no match for her. It soon transpired that Whiskers’ misunderstanding stemmed from the fact that Kang Xi, in his Edict elevating Trinket to the Dukedom First Class of Luding, had deliberately listed as one of his ‘great achievements’ the killing of the ‘notorious Triad ringleader’ Chen Jinnan. Trinket was greatly perplexed at this, and deeply upset at the thought that anyone should think him capable of doing something as base as taking the life of his own Shifu. He assured Whiskers in forceful terms that it was not he, but Zheng Keshuang, who had done this terrible deed. Why, Zheng was even now living in Peking, and they could go and confront him with it.

正说到这里,忽听得门外亲兵大声说道:“圣旨到。御前侍卫多总管奉敕宣告。”韦小宝站起身来,迎到门口,只见多隆已笑吟吟的走来。韦小宝向北跪下磕头,恭请圣安。多隆待他拜毕,说道:“皇上吩咐,要提那在街上骂人的反贼亲自审问。”韦小宝心头一凛,说道:“那……那个人么?兄弟抓了起来,已详细审过,原来是个疯子,这人满口玉皇大帝、太上老君的胡说八道。兄弟问不出甚么,狠狠打了他一顿,已将他放了。皇上怎地会知道这事?其实全不打紧的……”茅十八听到这里,再也忍不住,猛力在桌上一拍,只震得碗盏都跳了起来,乒乒乓乓,在地下摔得粉碎,大声骂道:“他妈的韦小宝,谁是疯子了?今日在大街上骂鞑子皇帝的就是老子!老子千刀万剐也不怕,难道还怕见他妈的鞑子皇帝?”韦小宝暗暗叫苦,只盼骗过了康熙和多隆,随即放了茅十八,那知他全然不明自己的一番回护之意,如此公然辱骂皇上,茅十八当真便有十八颗脑袋,也保不住了。多隆叹了口气,对韦小宝道:“兄弟,你对江湖上的朋友挺有义气,我也是很钦佩的。这件事你已出了力,算得是仁至义尽。咱们走罢。”茅十八大踏步走到门口,突然回头,一口唾沫,疾向韦小宝脸上吐去,韦小宝正想着心事,不及闪避,拍的一声,正中他双目之间。几名亲兵拔出腰刀,便向茅十八奔去。韦小宝摆摆手,黯然道:“算了,别难为他。”多隆带来的部属取出手铐,将茅十八扣上了。
Just then, the arrival was announced of Colonel Dolong, bearing an Imperial Edict. Trinket fell to his knees and kowtowed. ‘His Majesty commands that the man who abused you in the street should be taken straight to the Palace for questioning.’ Trinket shuddered when he heard this, for his old friend’s sake. He knew only too well what ‘questioning’ meant. ‘But why?’ he protested to Dolong. ‘It was nothing! In fact, I’ve already “questioned” the man myself, and he meant no harm, he’s simply a bit mad! He was shouting all sorts of nonsense, raving about the Jade Emperor in Heaven! It was all quite harmless. Anyway, I’ve already agreed to release him.’ Whiskers was not prepared to go along with this. He staggered forward and brought both his fists crashing down on the table, sending cups and bowls flying everywhere. ‘Bit mad, am I’ Oh no I’m not! I know what I was saying. I know a filthy Tartar when I see one, and I know a Tartar’lover too, and I’m not afraid of any Tartar Emperor either!’ ‘Drat!’ muttered Trinket silently to himself. Trust old Whiskers to miss the point! I was only trying to pull the wool over Dolong’s eyes so I could set him free! Now he’s in real trouble!’ ‘Come along!’ ordered Dolong, and his men dragged Whiskers from the room. The last thing he did was to take aim and send a great gob of phlegm flying directly at Trinket. It hit him right between the eyes.

韦小宝寻思:“皇上亲审茅大哥,问不到三句,定要将他推出去斩了。我须立刻去见皇上,无论如何,总得想法子救人。”向多隆道:“我要去求见皇上,禀明内情,可别让这粗鲁汉子冲撞了皇上。”一行人来到皇宫。韦小宝听说皇帝在上书房,便即求见。康熙召了进去。韦小宝磕过了头,站起身来。康熙道:“今日在大街上骂了你、又骂我的那人,是你的好朋友,是不是?”韦小宝道:“皇上明见万里,甚么事情用不着猜第二遍。”康熙道:“他是天地会的?”韦小宝道:“他没正式入会,不过会里的人他倒识得不少。他很佩服我的师父。皇上圣旨中说我杀了师父,他听到后气不过,因此痛骂我一场。至于对皇上,他是万万不敢有半分不敬的。”康熙微笑道:“你跟天地会已一刀两断,从今而后,不再来往了,是不是?”韦小宝道:“是。这次去打罗刹鬼子,奴才就没带天地会的人。”康熙问道:“以后你天地会的旧朋友再找上你来,那你怎么办?”韦小宝道:“奴才决计不见,免得大家不便。”康熙点了点头,道:“因此我在那道诰命之中,亲笔加上陈近南、风际中两个的名字,好让你日后免了不少麻烦。小桂子,一个人不能老是脚踏两头船。你如对我忠心,一心一意的为朝廷办事,天地会的浑水便不能再趟了。你倘若决心做天地会的香主,那便得一心一意的反我才是。”
Trinket feared the worst for Whiskers. He would probably be tortured, summarily questioned, and then executed. He must think fast, and find a way to rescue his old friend. Making Choices Trinket followed Dolong to the Palace, and went straight in to see Kang Xi, who was in the Upper Library. ‘That man shouting at you in the street-he was your friend, wasn’t he’ A Triad, was he?’ ‘He was my friend, Majesty, yes, but he’s never strictly speaking been a Triad. He knew my Shifu, Chen Jinnan, and got CHAPTER 28 505 very upset when he heard, from your Edict, that I was supposed to have killed him.’ Kang Xi smiled. ‘I thought you were supposed to have broken all ties with the Triads’ Wasn’t that our agreement?’ ‘I have, Majesty. On this last mission, to deal with the Russians, none of the Triads came with me.’ ‘And if they should ever try to get in touch with you?’ Then I’ll refuse to see them.’ Kang Xi nodded. ‘You can’t go on for ever serving two masters, Laurie. You have to make a choice. If you’re with them, then you must be against me.’ Trinket looked horrified by this remark. He fell to his knees and knocked his head on the ground.

韦小宝吓了一跳,跪下磕头,说道:“奴才是决计不会造反的。奴才小时候做事胡里胡涂,不懂道理,现在深明大义,洗面割心,那是完完全全不同了。”康熙点头笑道:“那很好啊。今天骂街的那个疯子,明天你亲自监斩,将他杀了罢。”韦小宝磕头道:“皇上明鉴,奴才来到北京,能够见到皇上金面,都全靠了这人。奴才对他还没报过恩,大胆求求皇上饶了这人,宁可……宁可奴才这番打罗刹鬼子的功劳,皇上尽数革了,奴才再退回去做鹿鼎侯好了。”康熙脸一板,道:“朝廷的封爵,你当是儿戏吗?赏你做一等鹿鼎公,是我的恩典,你拿了爵禄封诰来跟我做买卖,讨价还价,好大的胆子!”韦小宝连连磕头,说道:“奴才是漫天讨价,皇上可以着地还钱,退到鹿鼎候不行,那么退回去做通吃伯、通吃子也是可以的。”
‘Never! I could never be against you! I’ve learnt my lesson, Majesty. I’ve turned over a new leaf. Really I have.’ ‘Excellent!’ Kang Xi nodded and smiled again. Then I want you personally to supervise this man’s execution-tomorrow morning!’ Trinket kowtowed again. ‘But Majesty, it’s thanks to him that I came to Peking in the first place. It’s thanks to him that I met you. Please, I beg you, spare his life! What has he done, anyway’ You can cancel all the titles you gave me for my Russian mission and demote me back to plain Marquis if you like.’ Kang Xi’s face was stern and expressionless. ‘Don’t think you can bargain with me! You’ve got a nerve!’ Trinket kowtowed frantically. ‘I don’t mind how far down I go! I’ll go all the way back to being Earl of Potluck if that’ll help. Anything!’

康熙本想吓他一吓,好让他知道些朝廷的规矩,那知这人生来是市井小人,虽然做到一等公、大将军,无赖脾气却丝毫不改,不由得又好气,又好笑,喝道:“他妈的,你站起来!”韦小宝磕了个头,站起身来。康熙仍是板起了脸,说道:“你奶奶的,老子跟你着地还钱。你求我饶了这叛逆,那就得拿你的脑袋,来换他的脑袋。”韦小宝愁眉苦脸,说道:“皇上的还价太凶了些,请您升一升。”康熙道:“好,我就让一步。你割了卵蛋,真的进宫来做太监罢。”韦小宝道:“请皇上再升一升。”康熙道:“不升了。你不去杀了此人,就是对我不忠。一个人忠心就忠心,不忠就不忠。那也有价钱好讲的?”韦小宝道:“奴才对皇上是忠,对朋友是义,对母亲是孝,对妻子是爱……”
Kang Xi looked at Trinket prostrate on the ground before him, and realized that wealth and glory, rank and title, meant nothing to him. He was still a street urchin at heart. It made him angry. It offended him. But at the same time he could not help being amused by it. Tamardy! Hot poppas and mommas! For goodness’ sake stand up man!’ Another kowtow or two, and Trinket obeyed. Kang Xi’s face was still stern. ‘Very well. I will make a deal with you’ if you really want me to let him keep his head, then I’ll have to cut off yours!’ Trinket pulled the most wretched face he could muster. That’s a bit of a hard deal, isn’t it?’ ‘Very well, I’ll be soft on you. I won’t cut off your head, but you can cut off your balls, and I’ll let you enter my service as a real eunuch!’ ‘That’s still a pretty tough deal, Majesty.’ That’s as far as I’m prepared to go. If you refuse to kill that man, it proves that you’re disloyal to me.’ ‘But I’m not!’ cried Trinket. ‘I’m loyal to you, loyal as anything! But I’m also true to my friends, and to my mother, and to my wives . . .’

康熙哈哈大笑,说道:“你这家伙居然忠孝节义,事事俱全。好,佩服,佩服。明天这时候,拿一个脑袋来见罢,不是那叛逆的脑袋,便是你自己的脑袋。”韦小宝无奈,只得磕头退出。康熙见他走到门口,说道:“小桂子,你又想逃走了吗?”韦小宝道:“这一次是不敢了。奴才回家去,垫高了枕头,躺下来好好想想,最好是既能让皇上欢喜,又顾得了朋友义气,而奴才自己这颗脑袋,仍是生得牢牢的。”康熙微笑道:“很好。我跟建宁公主多日不见,很想念她,已吩咐接来宫里。”顿了一顿,又道:“你其余的六个夫人,三个儿女,也随同公主一起进宫来朝见太后。太后说你功劳不小,要好好赏你的夫人和儿女。”韦小宝道:“多谢太后和皇上的恩典,奴才实在是粉身难报。”退得两步,忍不住道:“皇上。奴才以前说过,你是如来佛,我是孙悟空,奴才说甚么也跳不出你的手掌心。”康熙微笑道:“你神通广大,那也不用客气了。”韦小宝出得书房门,不由得唉声叹气,心道:“皇上把我七个老婆、三个儿女都扣了起来,就算我有胆子逃走,可也舍不得哪。”
Kang Xi laughed out loud. ‘What a perfect human being you are! No, I’m afraid a decision is a decision, and first thing tomorrow morning I want to see a head’ if it’s not his, then it’ll just have to be yours!’ Trinket could see that Kang Xi was adamant. He kowtowed once more and left. Just as he reached the door, Kang Xi called after him’ ‘I hope you’re not thinking of trying to run away again!’ ‘No’ replied Trinket. ‘Not this time. I just need to go home and do some hard thinking. Somehow I have to find a way to please you and at the same time be true to my friends.’ ‘Very well, very well.’ Kang Xi smiled. ‘By the way, the Empress Dowager said she’d like to meet those wives of yours, and your three children. Bring them over for a visit, right away.’ Trinket the Debt’Collector As he made his way out, Trinket thought to himself’ ‘Inviting them here for a “visit” is just another way of putting pressure on me. He’ll hold them here as hostages, and then I’ll never be able to get away!’

走到长廊,多隆迎将上来,笑道:“韦兄弟,太后召见你的夫人、公子、小姐,赏赐定是不少。恭喜你啊。”韦小宝拱手道:“托福,托福。”多隆微笑道:“兄弟这回带兵出征之前,吩咐我给你讨债,讨到现在,也有七八成了。二百六十几万两银子的银票,回头我送到府上来。”韦小宝笑道:“大哥本领不小,居然榨到了这么多。”随即恨恨的道:“郑克塽这小子害死我师父,直到今天,还是叫我头痛之极。他奶奶的,那疯子今日在街上骂人,还不是郑克塽种下的祸根。”越想越恨,说道:“大哥,请你多带人手,咱们这就讨债去。”
He was met by a smiling Dolong. ‘What excellent news! I mean the visit. I imagine Her Majesty has it in mind to present your family with substantial gifts!’ Trinket pumped his hands together somewhat absent’mindedly. ‘Another thing, my friend,’ continued Dolong. ‘I’ve managed to squeeze about three’quarters of the money out of that Zheng fellow. I’ve collected around two million six hundred thousand taels of his debt already. I’ll bring it round in a day or two.’ ‘Well done!’ Trinket smiled. Anything unpleasant happening to Sir Zheng was a cause for celebration. He reflected bitterly on the fact that Whiskers’ present predicament was a direct consequence of Sir Zheng’s cowardly killing of the Helmsman. ‘Come,’ he said to Dolong, ‘let’s go to Sir Zheng’s residence together and see about the part of the debt he still hasn’t paid.’

多隆听到又要去郑府讨债,那是第一等的赏心乐事,今日有抚远大将、一等鹿鼎公韦公爷带队,干起来更加肆无忌惮,当即连声答应,吩咐御前侍卫副总管在宫里值班,率了一百名侍卫,簇拥着韦小宝向郑府而去。那郑克塽封的虽然也是公爵,然而和韦小宝这公爵相比,可就天差地远了,一个是归降的叛逆藩王,一个是皇帝驾前的大红人、大功臣。同是公爵府,大小、派头却也大不相同,大门匾额上那“海澄公府”四字乃是黑字,不如韦小宝“鹿鼎公府”那四字是金字。韦小宝一见之下,便有几分喜欢,说道:“这小子门口的招牌,可不及我的金字招牌了。”众侍卫来海澄公府讨债,三日两头来得惯了的,也不等门公通报,径自闯进府去。韦小宝在大厅上居中一坐,多隆坐在一旁。郑克塽听得抚远大将军韦小宝到来,那是他当世第一克星,不由得便慌了手脚,却又不敢不见,只得换上公服,战战兢兢的出迎,上前拱手见礼,叫了声:“韦大人!”韦小宝也不站起,大刺刺的坐着,拾头向天,鼻中哼了一声,向多隆道:“多大哥,郑克塽这小子可忒也无礼了。咱们来了这老半天,他不理不睬,可不是瞧不起人吗?”多隆道:“是啊!杀人偿命,欠债还钱。老是做一辈子缩头乌龟,终究是躲不过去的。”郑克塽怒极,只是在人檐下过,那得不低头,眼前二人,一个是手握兵权的大将军,一个是御前侍卫总管,自己无权无势,身当嫌疑之地,虽说爵位尊荣,其实处境比之一个寻常百姓还要不如,只得强忍怒气,轻轻咳嗽一声,说道:“韦大人,多总管,您两位好!”

韦小宝慢慢低下头来,只见眼前站着个弓腰曲背的老头儿,头发花白,容色憔悴不堪,仔细再看,这人年纪倒也不怎么老,只是愁眉苦脸,眼角边都是皱纹,颏下留了短须,也已花白,再凝神一看,却不是郑克塽是谁?数年不见,竟然老了二三十岁一般。韦小宝先是大奇,随即明白,他这几年来苦受折磨,以致陡然衰老,不禁起了怜悯之意,但跟着想起当年他在通吃岛上手刃陈近南的狠毒,怒气立时便涌将上来,冷笑道:“你是谁?”郑克塽道:“在下郑克塽,韦大人怎地不认识了?”韦小宝摇头道:“郑克塽?郑克塽不是在台湾做延平王吗?怎么会到了北京?你是个冒牌货色。”郑克塽道:“在下归顺大清,蒙皇上恩典,赏了爵禄。”韦小宝道:“哦,原来如此。你当年在台湾大吹牛皮,说要打到北京,拿住了皇上,要怎样怎样长,怎样怎样短,这些话还算不算数?”郑克塽背上冷汗直流,心想:“他要加我罪名,胡乱捏造些言语。皇上总是听他的,决不会听我的。”自从多隆率领御前侍卫和骁骑营军士不断前来滋扰,郑克塽当真度日如年,从台湾带来的大笔家产,十之八九已给他们勒索了去,为了凑集二百多万两银子的巨款,早将珠宝首饰变卖殆尽。他心中已不知几千百遍的懊悔,当日实不该投降。施琅攻来之时,如率兵奋力死战,未必便败,就算不胜,在阵上拚命而死,也对得起祖父、父亲的在天之灵,不致投降之后,却来受这无穷的困苦羞辱。此刻听了韦小宝这几句话,更是懊丧欲死。

韦小宝道:“多大哥,这位郑王爷,当年可威风得很哪。兄弟最近听得人说,有人要迎接郑王爷回台湾去,重登王位。郑王爷,来跟你接头的人,不知怎么说?兄弟想查个明白,好向皇上回报。”郑克塽颤声道:“韦大人,请你高抬贵手。您说的事,完……完全没有……”韦小宝道:“咦,这倒奇了。多大哥,昨儿咱们不是抓到了一个叛徒吗?他破口大骂皇上,又骂兄弟。这人说是郑王爷的旧部下,说他在北京受人欺侮,要为他报仇,要杀尽满清鞑子甚么的。”郑克塽听到这里,再也支持不住,双膝一曲,跪倒在地,颤声道:“韦大人饶命!小人过去罪该万死,得罪您老人家。您大人大量,放我一条生路,老天爷保你公侯万代。”韦小宝冷笑道:“当日你杀我师父的时候,可没想到今日罢?”
Dolong was only too pleased to comply. Since his surrender, Zheng Keshuang was, it is true, technically a duke. But his title was a nominal one, bestowed on a surrendering rebel, not a genuine honour earned by meritorious service and accorded to one of the Emperor’s favourites (as had been the case with all of Trinket’s long string of titles over the years). Zheng’s ‘palace’ was correspondingly unprepossessing, when compared with Trinket’s. Trinket and Dolong sauntered in and sat down in the main hall. When Zheng finally appeared he was unrecognizable. It was only a couple of years since Trinket had last seen him. But in those two years he had aged thirty. He was a wreck of a man. He had been obliged to sell off most of his family possessions in order to meet the extortionate demands of Dolong and his men. On the present occasion, he managed to scrape together some cash and a few valuables for Trinket. But he had nothing of any real value left to sell. He was terrified enough already, and when Trinket started taunting him afresh, he almost broke down. When he spoke, he trembled with fear. Trinket felt no pity for him. ‘You should have thought of this the day you killed my Shifu!’

突然间后堂快步走出一人,身材瘦长,神情剽悍,却是“一剑无血”冯锡范。他抢到郑克塽身旁,一伸手便拉起了他,转头向韦小宝道:“当年杀陈近南,全是我的主意,跟郑公爷无关。你要为你师父报仇,尽管冲着我来好了。”
A few moments later, Zheng was joined by the tall figure of his evil mentor and Father-in-law, Feng Xifan, the Bloodless Sword. By contrast, Feng was as proud and fierce as ever. He tried to instil a little pride into Sir Zheng. ‘It was my idea to kill Chen Jinnan,’ he declared, addressing Trinket. ‘So if it’s vengeance you want, you’d better take it on me.’

韦小宝对冯锡范向来十分忌惮,见到他狠霸霸的模样,不由得全身在椅中一缩,颤声道:“你……你想打人吗?”多隆跳起身家,叫道:“来人哪!”便有十多名侍卫一起拥上,团团围住。韦小宝见己方人多势众,这才放心,大声道:“这人在京师之地,胆敢行凶,拿下了。”四名侍卫同时伸手,抓住了冯锡范的手臂。冯锡范也不抗拒,朗声道:“我们归降朝廷,皇上封郑公爷为海澄公,封我为忠诚伯。皇上金口说道,过去的事一笔勾销,决不计较。韦大人,你想假公济私,冤枉好人,咱们只好到皇上跟前去分剖明白。”韦小宝冷笑道:“你是好人,嘿嘿,原来‘一剑无血’冯大人是大大的好人,这倒是今日第一天听见!”冯锡范道:“我们到了北京之后,安份守己,从来不见外人,更加不敢犯了半条王法。这些侍卫大人不断的前来伸手要钱,我们倾家荡产的应付,那都没有甚么。韦大人,你要乱加我们罪名,皇上明见万里,只怕也由不得你。”这人有胆有识,远非郑克塽可比,这番话侃侃而言,韦小宝一时倒也难以辩驳,心想他二人虽是台湾降人,却已得朝廷封爵,欺侮欺侮固然不难,当真要扳倒他们,皇上只消问得几句,立时便显了原形。皇上料到自己是为师父报仇,非怪罪不可。他心中已自软了,嘴上却兀自极硬,说道:“我们昨天抓到一个叛逆,他亲口供认要迎郑王爷回台湾,难道会是假的?”冯锡范道:“这种人随口妄扳,怎作得数?请韦大人提了这人来,咱们上刑部对质。”韦小宝道:“你要对质?那好得很,妙得很,刮刮叫得很,别别跳得很。”转头问郑克塽道:“郑王爷,你欠我的钱,到底几时还清哪?”

冯锡范听得韦小宝顾左右而言他,鉴貌辨色,猜想他怕给皇帝知晓,心想这件事已弄到了这步田地,索性放大了胆子,闹到皇帝跟前。皇帝年纪虽轻,却十分英明,是非曲直,定能分辨。若不乘此作个了断,今后受累无穷。实在是给这姓韦的小子逼得让无可让了,狗急跳墙,人急悬梁,你逼得我要上吊,大伙儿就拚上一拚。他心念已决,说道:“韦大人,多总管,咱们告御状去。”韦小宝吓了一跳,心想要是告到皇帝跟前,自己吃不了要兜着走,可是这当儿决不能示弱,说道:“很好!把这姓郑的一并带了走!把他们两个先在天牢里收押起来,让他们好好享享福,过得一年半载,咱们慢慢的再奏明皇上。”

多隆心下踌躇,郑克塽是敕封的公爵,跟他讨债要钱,那是不妨,真要逮人,却非奉到上谕不可,低声道:“韦大人,咱们先去奏知皇上,再来提人。”郑克塽心中一宽,忙道:“是啊,我又没犯罪,怎能拿我?”见风使帆原是韦小宝的拿手好戏,当即说道:“是不是犯罪,现在还不知道。你欠我的钱可没还清,那怎么办?你是还钱呢,还是跟了我走?”郑克塽听得可免于逮捕,一叠连声的道:“我还钱,我还钱!”忙走进内堂,捧了一叠银票出来,两名家丁捧着托盘,装着金银首饰。郑克塽道:“韦大人,卑职翻箱倒笼,张罗了三四万两银子,实在再也拿不出了。”韦小宝道:“再也拿不出了?我不信,兄弟陪你进去找找。”郑克塽道:“这个……这个……那可不大方便。”冯锡范大声道:“我们又没犯了王法,韦大人要抄我们的家,是奉了圣旨呢,还是有刑部大堂的文书?”韦小宝笑道:“这不是抄家。郑王爷说再也拿不出了,我瞧他还拿出得很。只怕他金银珠宝,还有大批刀枪武器、甚么龙椅龙袍,收藏在地窖秘室之中,一时找不到,大伙儿就给他帮忙找找。”

郑克塽忙道:“刀枪武器、龙椅龙袍甚么的,我……我怎敢私藏?再说,卑职只是……只是公爵,‘王爷’的称呼,是万万不敢当的。”韦小宝对多隆道:“多大哥,请你点一点,一共是多少钱。”多隆和两名侍卫点数银票,说道:“银票一共是三万四千三百两银子,还有些挺不值钱的首饰,不知怎生作价。”韦小宝伸手在首饰堆里翻了几下,拿起一枚金凤钗,失惊道:“啊哟,多大哥,这是违禁的物事啊,皇上是龙,正宫娘娘是凤,怎……怎么郑王爷的王妃,也戴起金凤钗来?”冯锡范更是恼怒,大声道:“韦大人,你要鸡蛋里找骨头,姓冯的今日就跟你拚了。普天下的金银首饰铺子,哪一家没金凤钗?北京城里官宦之家的女眷,哪一个不戴金凤钗?”韦小宝道:“原来冯大人看遍了北京城里官宦之家的女眷,嗯,你说哪一家的太太小姐最为美貌?啧啧啧,厉害,厉害,看了这么多人家的女眷,眼福不浅。康亲王的王妃,兵部尚书明珠大人的小姐,你都见过了吗?”冯锡范气得话也说不出来,心里也真有些害怕,知道这少年和当朝权贵个个交好,倘若将这番话加油添酱的宣扬出去,自己非倒大霉不可。郑克塽连连打躬作揖,说道:“韦大人,一切请你担待,卑职向你求个情。”

韦小宝见几句话将冯锡范吓得不敢作声,顺风旗已经扯足,便哈哈一笑,说道:“多大哥,兄弟的面子,比起你来可差得远了,多大哥来讨债,讨到了二百多万两银子,兄弟亲自出马,却不过这么一点儿。”郑克塽道:“实在是卑职家里没有了,决不敢……决不敢赖债不还。”韦小宝道:“咱们走罢!过得十天半月,等郑王爷从台湾运到了金银,再来讨帐便是。”说着站起身来,走出厅去。冯锡范听得韦小宝言语之中,句句诬陷郑克塽图谋不轨,仍在和台湾的旧部勾结,这是灭族的大罪,若不辩明,一世受其挟制,难以做人,朗声道:“我们奉公守法,不敢行错踏差了半步。今日韦大人、多总管在这里的说话,我们须得一五一十的奏明皇上。否则的话,天地虽大,我们可没立足之地了。”韦小宝笑道:“要立足之地么?有的,有的。郑王爷、冯将军回去台湾,不是有一块大大的立足地么?你们两位要商议立足的大事,我们不打扰了。”携了多隆之手,扬长出门。
This veiled threat was enough to spur Dolong into action. In seconds, a dozen of his men had closed in on Feng. Threats were exchanged, but in the end Trinket took his leave of Sir Zheng with a parting shot’ ‘I’ll give you a fortnight to have some more cash sent over from Taiwan. I’ll be back for it!’ The implication, that they were still in contact with the Taiwan Zhengs- something that, according to the terms of their amnesty, they were absolutely forbidden to do, on pain of death-elicited a final defiant protest from Feng.

A Small Favour

韦小宝回到府中,当即开出酒筵,请众侍卫喝酒。多隆命手下侍卫取过四只箱子,打了开来,都是金银珠宝以及一叠叠的银票,笑道:“讨了几个月债,郑克塽这小子的家产,一大半在这里了。韦兄弟,你点收罢。”韦小宝取了一叠银票,约有十几万两,说道:“这狗贼害死了我师父,偏生皇上封了他爵位,这仇是报不得了。多谢大哥和众位兄弟治得他好惨,代兄弟出了这一口恶气。我师父没家眷,兄弟拿这笔钱,叫人去台湾起一座大大的祠堂,供奉我师父。余下的便请大哥和众位兄弟分了罢。”多隆连连摇手,说道:“使不得,使不得。这是郑克塽欠兄弟的钱。你只消差上几名清兵,每日里上门讨债,也不怕他不还。我们给你办一件小小差使,大家是自己人,怎能要了你的?”韦小宝笑道:“不瞒大哥说,兄弟的家产已多得使不完,好朋友有钱大家使,又分甚么彼此?”多隆说什么也不肯收,两人争得面红耳赤,最后众侍卫终于收发一百万两银子的“讨债费”,另外三十万两,去交给骁骑营的兄弟们分派,余下的多隆亲自捧了,送入韦府内堂。众侍卫连着在宫里值班的,大家一分,每人有几千两银子。人人兴高采烈,酒醉饭饱之余,便在公爵府花厅上推牌九、掷骰子的大赌起来。既是至好兄弟,韦小宝掷骰也就不作弊了。
Trinket, Dolong, and the guards went on to Trinket’s palace, where a fine feast was spread before them. Dolong sent for the four chests containing everything paid up so far by Sir Zheng, and they counted it out together. ‘I must thank you all,’ said Trinket, ‘for helping me avenge the death of my Shifu, in the only way I can. The Emperor has forbidden me to harm Sir Zheng’s person, so I must hurt him in whatever other way I can. He must be made to suffer! Some of this money will go to Taiwan, to build a memorial shrine for my Shifu. The rest, I want you all to divide amongst yourselves.’ Earnest protestations were forthcoming from Dolong, to which Trinket replied, candidly, that he had himself already accumulated more money than he knew what to do with. In the end Dolong acquiesced in Trinket’s generosity, much to the delight of the soldiers, who celebrated by getting thoroughly drunk and playing cards and dice well into the night.

赌到二更时分,韦小宝向多隆道:“多大哥,兄弟还要烦劳你做一件事。”多隆手气正旺,心情大佳,笑道:“好,不管甚么事,只要你吩咐。”但随即想起一事,说道:“就只一件不成!那个骂街的疯子,皇上吩咐了要我严加看管,明天一早由你监斩。倘使我徇私释放,皇上就要砍我的头了。”
When everyone was in the highest of spirits, Trinket took Dolong aside and said to him: ‘I’ve got one small favour to ask of you, my friend.’ ‘Anything! Anything at all-‘ But Dolong seemed to remember one thing: ‘-anything, that is, except something connected with that whiskered fellow, the one the Emperor has given me strictest orders to have executed tomorrow, under your supervision. Ask me to interfere with that, and I’m a dead man!’ That was of course the one favour that Trinket had wanted to ask. ‘Drat!’ he thought to himself. ‘Not even a million taels can save my friend’s life now, it seems.’

韦小宝想托他做的,便正是这件事,哪知他话说在前头,先行挡回,心想:“皇上神机妙算,甚么都料到了。连一百万两银子都买不到茅大哥的一条命。”心中恼恨,便又想去郑克塽家讨债,但一想到郑克塽那副衰颓的模袲,觉得尽去欺侮这可怜虫也没甚么英雄,一转念间,说道:“那疯子是皇上亲自吩咐了的,我便有天大的胆子,也不敢放他。今日咱们去讨债,那郑克塽倒也罢了,他手下那个冯锡范,妈巴羔子的好不厉害,咱们可都给他欺了。兄弟想起来,这口气当真咽不下。”几名侍卫在旁听了,都随声附和,说道:“咱们今日见着,人人心里有气。韦大人不用烦恼,大伙儿这就找上门去。他一个打了败仗的降兵,竟胆敢在北京城里逞强,这般无法无天的,咱们还用混吗?”众侍卫越说越怒,都说立时去拆了冯锡范的伯爵府。韦小宝道:“咱们去干这龟儿子,可不能明着来,给言官知道了,奏上一本,御前侍卫的名声也不大好。”多隆忙道:“是,是,兄弟顾虑得很对。”韦小宝道:“多大哥也不用亲自出马,便请张大哥和赵大哥两位带了人去。”向张康年和赵齐贤道:“你们冒充是前锋营泰都统的手下,有紧急公事,请冯锡范那龟儿子商议。他就算心中起疑,却也不敢不来。走到半路,便给他上了脚镣手铐,眼上蒙了黑布,嘴里塞了烂布,在东城西城乱兜圈子,最后才兜到这里来。大伙儿狠狠揍他一顿,剥光他衣衫,送去放在泰都统姨太太的床上。”众侍卫哄堂大笑,连称妙计。御前侍卫和前锋营的官兵向来不和,碰上了常常打架。前锋营的统领本是阿赤济,那日给韦小宝用计关入了大牢,后来虽放了出来,康熙怪他无用,办事不力,已经革职,现下的都统姓泰。多隆和泰都统明争暗斗,已闹了好久,只是谁也奈何不了谁。
Trinket thought fast. He would have to approach this by a more devious route. ‘No, no! Of course I wouldn’t dream of going against the Emperor’s orders! No, it’s not him’ it’s that foul turtle earlier today at snivelling Zheng’s place, that tall, nasty’looking creep, Feng Xifan.’ Dolong’s men overheard the name, and were all for going straight to Feng’s house and smashing the place up. Trinket had a more subtle plan. ‘I’d rather no one placed the blame for whatever happens on my friends in the guards. Let Zhang and Zhao go, and pretend to be acting on the orders of Colonel Tai, the commander of the Vanguards. I want them to pay Feng Xifan a little visit, and then when they’ve got him down a side’street, clap him in chains, blindfold him, gag him, and bring him here-but by a very roundabout route. Then we’ll give him a good thumping, strip him bare, and send him over to the bed of Colonel Tai’s new concubine!’ There was great hilarity among the troops at Trinket’s excellent scenario for the rest of the night’s entertainment. And what made it even more amusing was that it would all be blamed on the hated Vanguards! The new Vanguard commander (since the dismissal of the unfortunate Ajige) was a particular pet hate of Dolong’s.

多隆更是心花怒放,说道:“老泰这家伙怕老婆,娶了妾侍不敢接回家去。他新娶的第八房姨太太住在甜水井胡同,老泰晚上不去住宿。咱们把冯锡范剥得赤条条的,放在他新姨太太的床上,老泰非气个半死不可。他就算疑心是咱们搞的鬼,大伙儿只要不泄漏风声,他也无可奈何。”当下众侍卫除去了身上的侍卫标记,嘻嘻哈哈的出门而去。韦小宝和多隆在厅上饮酒等候。韦小宝手下的亲兵不断打探了消息来报:众侍卫已到了“忠诚伯府”门前,自称是前锋营的,打门求见;冯锡范出来迎接,要请众人入内喝茶;张康年说奉泰都统之命,有台湾的紧急军情,请他即刻去会商;冯锡范已上了轿,众侍卫拥着去了西城;众侍卫已将冯锡范上了铐镣,将他随带的从人也都抓了起来;一行人去了北城,九门提督的巡夜喝问,赵齐贤大声回答是前锋营的,冯锡范在轿里一定听得清清楚楚;众人向着这边府里来了……过得一炷香时分,众侍卫押着冯锡范进来。张康年大声道:“启禀泰都统:犯官冯锡范带到。”
Dolong was absolutely delighted at the plan. ‘Old Tai’s terrified of his wife! He’s never dared bring home a single one of his concubines. He keeps this new one of his, his Number Eight, in a little love’nest in Sweet Water Lane. I can’t wait to see his face when he finds Bloodless Sword Feng naked in bed with her. He’ll have a fit!’ Dolong’s men removed their Palace Guard insignia, and set out on their mission. Necessity, the Mother of Trinketian Invention All went according to plan, and an hour or two later the trusty Captain Zhang Kangnian returned to Trinket’s palace with a shackled, blindfolded, and gagged Feng Xifan. ‘In accordance with Colonel Tai’s orders, I have brought in the criminal Feng Xifan for questioning’ announced Zhang, carefully maintaining the charade that it was the Vanguards who had arrested Feng.

韦小宝右手捏紧拳头,作个狠打的姿势。众侍卫叫道:“犯官冯锡范勾结叛逆,图谋不轨。泰都统有令,重重拷打。”当即拳打脚踢,往他身上招呼。冯锡范武功极高,为人又十分机警,当众侍卫冒充前锋营官兵前来相请之时,他便瞧出路道不对,若要逃走,众侍卫人数虽多,却也决计擒拿不住。但他投降后得封伯爵,心想对方纵使有意陷害,皇帝英明,总可分辩,要是自己脱身而走,不免坐实了畏罪潜逃的罪名,从此尊荣爵禄,尽付流水,是以一直不加抗拒。只因贪图富贵,以致身为当世武功高手,竟给众侍卫打得死去活来。眼见他鼻孔流血,内伤甚重,韦小宝甚感痛快,杀师父之仇总算报了一小半,再打下去只怕便打死了,当即摇手制止,命亲兵剥光他衣衫,用一条毛毡裹住。这时冯锡范已自奄奄一息,人事不知。多隆笑道:“这就到老泰的八姨太家去罢。”赵齐贤笑道:“最好把老泰的八姨太也剥光了,将两人捆在一起。”。众侍卫大乐,轰然叫好。
Trinket gave the silent sign-a tightly clenched fist-and the guards went to work’ ‘Colonel Tai’s orders-the criminal Feng is to be tortured.’ Prolonged punching and kicking followed, till Feng (despite his enormous strength) was more dead than alive. Blood was streaming from his nose, and he had sustained massive internal injuries. Trinket began to feel a certain sense of pleasure. His Shifu’s death had been at least partly avenged. He gestured to the men to stop short of actually killing him. Then he ordered his own guards to strip Feng (or what was left of him) naked, and wrap him (unconscious as he was) in a rug. ‘And now, to the house of Colonel Tai’s Eighth Concubine!’ Dolong rubbed his hands in glee. ‘Why not strip the woman too, and tie them up together?’ suggested Zhao Qixian, and the men roared their approval, all entering into the spirit of the thing.

多隆要瞧泰都统的八姨太给剥光了衣衫的模样,笑道:“这次我来带队。”一行人抬了冯锡范正要出发,忽然两名亲兵快步进来,向韦小宝禀报:“启禀大人:甜水井泰都统的外宅,这会儿闹得天翻地覆,正在打大架。”众人都吃了一惊,均想:“怎么泄漏了风声?泰都统有了防备,这件事可要糟糕。”韦小宝问道:“甚么人打大架?”一名亲兵道:“小人等一共八人,奉了大人将令,在甜水井胡同前后打探,忽然见到一队娘子军,总有三四十人……”韦小宝皱眉道:“甚么娘子军?”那亲兵道:“回大人:这一大队人都是大脚女人,有的拿了赶面棍儿,有的拿了洗衣棒,还有拿着门闩扁担,冲进泰都统的外宅,乒乒乓乓的乱打,把一个花不溜秋的小娘子拉了出来,用皮鞭狠狠的抽。”韦小宝道:“这可奇了!再探。”两名亲兵答应了出门。第二路探子跟着来报:“回大人:泰都统骑了快马,已赶到甜水井胡同。他衣服也没穿好,左脚有靴子,右脚却是赤脚。原来率领娘子军攻打甜水井胡同的,便是泰都统夫人。”众人一听之下,哄堂大笑,才知是泰都统夫人喝醋,去抄打他的外宅。那亲兵说到这里,也忍不住笑,又道:“那位太太抓住了泰都统,劈脸就是劈劈拍拍两个耳括子,跟着又是一脚,好不厉害。泰都统打躬作揖,连说:‘太太息怒!’”多隆手舞足蹈,说道:“这一下可有得老泰受的了。”韦小宝笑道:“大哥,你快带领人马,赶去劝架。这一下老泰给你揪住了小辫子,保管他前锋营从今而后,再也不敢跟咱们御前侍卫作对。”

多隆给他一言提醒,大喜之下,伸手在自己额头用力一凿,笑道:“我这胡涂蛋!这么好的机会也不抓住。兄弟们,大伙儿去瞧热闹啊。”率领众侍卫,向甜水井胡同急奔而去。韦小宝瞧着躺在地下的冯锡范,寻思:“这家伙怎生处置才是?放了他之后,他必定要去禀告皇上。就算拿不到我把柄,皇上也必猜到是我作的手脚。”背负双手,在厅上踱来踱去,又想:“天一亮,就得去杀茅大哥,可有甚么法子救他性命?‘大名府’劫法场是不行的,法场,法场……”突然之间,想起了一出戏来:“‘法场换子’!对了,薛刚闯了祸,满门抄斩,有个徐甚么的白胡子老头儿,把自己的亲生儿子,在法场换了一个薛甚么的娃娃出来……”他看过的戏文着实不少,剧中人的名字不大说得上来,故事却是记得清清楚楚的。一想到“法场换子”,跟着又想起了另外一出戏来:“‘搜孤救孤’!这故事也差不多,有个叫做程婴的黑胡子,把自己的儿子去调换了主子的儿子,让儿子去杀头,救了小主人的性命。乖乖不得了,幸亏茅大哥的年纪跟我儿子不一样,否则的话,要我将虎头、铜锤送上法场杀头,换了茅大哥出来,虽说朋友义气为重,这种事情我可是万万不干的。很好,很好!”向着躺在地下的冯锡范重重踢了一脚,说道:“你运气不坏,韦大人这就收了你做干儿子。韦大人的亲儿子舍不得换,干儿子就马马虎虎。”当即叫了亲兵队长进来,密密嘱咐一番,赏了他一千两银子,另外又有一千两银子,命他去分给办事的其余亲兵。那队长躬身道谢,说道:“大人放心,一切自会办得妥妥帖帖,决不有误。”韦小宝安排已毕,回进内堂。七个夫人和儿女都给太后召进皇宫去了,屋里冷冷清清,和衣在床上躺了一会,不久天便亮了。
Dolong decided he wanted to be personally present, to witness the spectacle of old Tai’s woman stripped naked. Just as they were about to set off, one of Trinket’s men came hurrying in. He was one of the group sent ahead to Sweet Water Lane (where Colonel Tai’s Eighth lived), to scout out the land. The latest news was that an entire regiment of country women had descended on the lady’s residence, armed with all sorts of rustic implements, and had dragged her out into the street. Old Tai had come rushing over on horseback (one shoe on, one shoe off), to find that this whole event had been stage’managed by his jealous termagant of a wife. Clearly now their original plan for Feng Xifan was going to have to be modified. For the guards’ benefit, Trinket looked disappointed that it would no longer be possible to see the hated Feng humiliated in this comical and scandalous manner. But in actual fact he had already (as was his wont-with Trinket, necessity was often the mother of invention) dreamt up an even better plan. It was now almost dawn, and that very morning Whiskers Mao was due to be executed. To find a way of saving his old friend was still in the forefront of Trinket’s mind and, while racking his brains for an idea, it had occurred to him that many was the opera he had seen in which one person was substituted for another at the last moment, just before the executioner’s blade fell. . . . Trinket issued the necessary orders (and distributed the necessary largesse), and then went in to his personal apartment. It seemed lonely in there, without his wives and children, all of whom were already in the Palace, at the Empress Dowager’s invitation. He stretched himself out fully clothed on his bed, and was soon sound asleep.

辰牌时分,宫里传出旨来:“江洋大盗茅十八大逆不道,辱骂大臣,着即斩首,命抚远大将军、一等鹿鼎公韦小宝监斩。”韦小宝接了上谕,在府门外点齐了亲兵,只见多隆率领了数十名御前侍卫,押着茅十八而来。茅十八目青鼻肿,满脸是血,显是受了苦刑。他一见韦小宝便破口大骂:“韦小宝,你这不要脸的小汉奸,今日你做老子的监斩官,老子死得一点不冤。谁叫我当日瞎了眼睛,从扬州的婊子窝里,把你这小汉奸带到北京来?”众亲兵大声吆喝,茅十八却越骂越凶。韦小宝不去理他,问多隆道:“老泰怎样了?”多隆笑道:“昨晚我赶到时,老泰已给他夫人抓得满脸都是血痕。他一见到我,这份狼狈样儿可有得瞧的了。我做好做歹,劝住了他夫人,又把他八姨太接到我家里,让两个小妾陪她。老泰千恩万谢,感激得了不得。”韦小宝笑问:“这位八姨太相貌怎样?”多隆大拇指一翘,说道:“嘿嘿,了不起!”韦小宝笑道:“你可不能见色起意,乘火打劫!”多隆哈哈大笑,道:“兄弟你放一百二十个心,你大哥那能这么不长进?老泰虽是我对头,这种事情你大哥是决计不干的。”当下两人押着茅十八,往菜市口法场而去。多隆骑马,韦小宝则乘了一辆大马车。茅十八坐在开顶的牛车之中,双手反绑,颈中插了一块木牌,写道:“立斩钦犯茅十八一名”。牛车自骡马市大街向西,众百姓纷纷聚观。茅十八沿途又叫又唱,大喊:“老子十八年后,又是一条好汉,所以名叫茅十八,早就知道是要杀头的。”街边百姓大声喝采,赞他:“有种,是硬汉子。”
First thing in the morning (a mere hour or two later), Trinket was woken up by a messenger bearing an Imperial Summons’ Lord Wei, Duke of Luding, was to supervise the Execution of the Notorious Brigand Whiskers Mao Eighteen. When he went out to his reception hall shortly afterwards, he saw Oolong’s men dragging in Whiskers, bruised and battered, his face caked in blood, after his night of ‘questioning’ in the Palace jail. ‘So!’ cried the indomitable Whiskers. ‘You’re to be my executioner as well as the Helmsman’s! See how the little guttersnipe I hauled all the way from his mother’s whore’house has grown up to be a spineless traitor and licker of Tartar arses!’ Whiskers was transported, still cursing and swearing, to the Execution Ground on the site of the old Vegetable Market, in the southern part of the Inner City. Dolong followed on horseback, Trinket in a large horse’drawn carriage. Whiskers himself stood in an ox’drawn cart, his hands bound, and a wooden signboard tied at his throat, inscribed with his name and the grim words FOR IMMEDIATE EXECUTION. The cart went via the Horse Market, where a large crowd had already gathered. Whiskers stood upright and shouted defiantly as the cart rolled down the street. The crowd cheered and shouted out noisy hurrahs, to the effect that the criminal was indeed a Brave Man and True!

来到骡马市大街和宣武门大街交叉十字路口的菜市口法场,韦小宝的亲兵早已连夜搭灯了席棚,棚前棚后,守卫得极是严密。多隆奉了康熙的嘱咐,生怕天地会要劫法场,已知会九门提督,派了两千名官兵在法场四周把守。茅十八凛然站在法场中心,大叫:“咱们都是大汉百姓,花花江山却给鞑子占了,总有一日,要把鞑子杀得干干净净!”韦小宝下车进棚,马车停在棚边。韦小宝升座,请多隆坐在一旁,多隆皱眉道:“这犯人尽说大逆不道的言语,在这里煽动人心,咱们尽快把他斩了罢。”韦小宝道:“是。”喝道:“带犯人!”四名亲兵将茅十八推进棚来,要按他跪倒,茅十八说甚么也不背跪。韦小宝道:“不用跪了。”转头向多隆道:“大哥,验明正身,没错罢?”多隆道:“没错!”韦小宝道:“验明正身,立斩钦犯茅十八一名。”提起朱笔,在木牌上画了个大圈,摔了出去。一名亲兵拾起木牌,将茅十八拉了出去。
They reached the Execution Ground, which was at the crossroads formed by Horse Market Avenue and Martial Gate Street. Dolong had posted two thousand Palace Guards around the square, forewarned by the Emperor of the likelihood of a Triad attempt to rescue the condemned man. Whiskers stood in the middle of the open space and yelled at the top of his lungs’ ‘One day they’ll die-the filthy Tartars who stole our land!’ Trinket descended from his carriage and took his seat in the covered stand erected for the occasion at one end of the square. He invited Dolong to sit next to him. Dolong looked worried. The sooner we have this man’s head off the better. He’s saying the sort of things that are likely to inflame the crowd.’ Trinket gave the order, and four men dragged Mao before the stand. He refused to kneel. Trinket turned to Dolong’ ‘You are absolutely sure that this is the man?’ ‘Absolutely sure.’ ‘Very well. The criminal has been duly identified. Proceed immediately with the execution!’ With a brush he drew the necessary red circle on the wooden signboard and threw it to the ground. One of the guards picked it up and Mao was dragged away again.

韦小宝道:“多大哥,我给你瞧一样好玩的物事。”说着从衣袖中取出一叠手帕来,递到多隆面前,手帕上绣的是一幅春宫图,图中男女面目俊美,姿态生动。多隆一见之下,目光登时给吸住了,翻过一块手帕,下面一块帕子上绣的又是另外一幅春宫,姿势甚是奇特。多隆笑道:“这模样倒古怪得紧。”一连翻下去,每块帕子上所绣的人物姿态愈出愈奇,有一男两女者,有二男三女者。多隆只看得血脉贲张,笑道:“兄弟,这宝贝儿是哪里来的?你给哥哥也买上一套。”韦小宝笑道:“这是兄弟孝敬大哥的。”多隆如获至宝,眉花眼笑的连声多谢,将一叠手帕珍而重之的收入怀中。便在这时,外面砰砰砰连放三炮,亲兵队长进来禀告:“时辰已到,请大人监斩。”
Trinket turned to Dolong. ‘I’ve something here that might amuse you.’ He produced a wad of folded silken handkerchiefs from his inside pocket, and passed them to Dolong. The top one was decorated with a finely painted and very titillating erotic scene, done in a most lifelike manner. Dolong’s eyes lit up. He examined the next one, which depicted an extremely intriguing sexual posture. ‘Hm . . . most interesting!’ he commented, with a big grin on his face, and carried on leafing through the collection. The pictures became more and more ‘interesting’ the further down the pile he got’ one man with two women, two men with three women. . . . Dolong was becoming unmistakably aroused. ‘Where did you get these from’ Any chance you could buy me a set?’ ‘Keep them,’ replied Trinket. They’re a present.’ Dolong was effusive in his thanks, and folded his new treasure and put it away in his inside pocket. At that very moment there was a loud report as the three guns were fired to signal the commencement of the execution proper. A guard came hurrying up’ ‘It is time, sir.’

韦小宝道:“好!”站起身来,拉着多隆的手,走到棚外。只见茅十八垂头丧气的跪在法场之中,便如昏迷了一般。鼓手擂起鼓来,鼓声一停,披红挂彩的刽子手举起手臂,靠在下臂的鬼头刀向前一推,登时将犯人的脑袋切下,左足飞出,踢开脑袋。犯人身子向前一倒,脖子中鲜血狂喷。多隆道:“差事办成了,咱们别过了罢。我要去见皇上复旨。”韦小宝哽咽道:“多大哥,这人跟我挺有交情,实在是皇上的严旨,救他不得,唉!”说着以袖拭泪,抽抽噎噎的哭了起来。多隆叹道:“兄弟很够义气。你好好收殓了他,给他安葬,那也是很对得起死者了。”韦小宝应了一声,哭泣不止。
Trinket took Dolong by the hand, and walked out from the covered stand. Mao was now kneeling in the middle of the square, his head hung, his old defiant spirit apparently quite crushed. He almost looked unconscious. The drummer beat his drum. The brightly clad executioner raised his arm and down came the great blade. Off fell the head, and with his left foot the executioner kicked it free. The criminal’s body tumbled forwards, as fresh blood pumped from the neck. ‘His Majesty’s orders have been carried out’ said Dolong. ‘I shall report to the Palace.’ Trinket sobbed to Dolong’ That man was very close to me, and I could do nothing to save him!’ He wiped his tears away with his sleeve, but continued sobbing. Dolong did his best to console him’ ‘At least you can try to give him a decent burial.’

韦小宝以衣袖拭泪,其实是将袖中备下的生姜揉擦双眼,辣得眼睛通红,流泪不止,心中暗暗好笑,庆幸计策成功。多隆又安慰了几句,送他上了车,这才上马而去。众亲兵簇拥着马车,径回公爵府。另有几名亲兵以草席卷起犯人尸首,放入早就备在一旁的棺材,盖上棺盖钉实。观斩的众百姓纷纷议论,都说茅十八临死之前还敢破口大骂,当真是英雄好汉,也有怕事的便出言诃责,说这钦犯大逆不道,决不可赞他,以免惹祸上身。韦小宝来到府门前下车,那辆马车径自向南,出了北京城,一直往南,向扬州而去。
The reason Trinket had wiped away his tears with his sleeve was simple’ the sleeve contained a quantity of fresh ginger, and the ginger had the effect of immediately stimulating tears and making his eyes convincingly red. Trinket was in fact silently laughing to himself, rejoicing in the success of his little scheme. He climbed back into his carriage and returned home, leaving some of his guards to wrap the dead body in a length of rush matting, place it in a coffin that had been procured especially, and nail it down securely. When Trinket reached home, he stepped down from his carnage and went inside. The carriage itself carried straight on, making its way out through one of the main city gates and heading south towards the city of Yangzhou.

Aftermath of an Execution

韦小宝进宫复旨。康熙即行召见。他已得多隆回报,知道韦小宝监斩茅十八时曾流泪不止,这时见他双目红肿,心下微感歉仄,又想他忠心为主,很是难得,温言慰抚了几句,说道:“小桂子,你抓来的那些罗刹兵,大多数求我释放回国,我都已放了,却有二百多名愿意留居中国。”韦小宝道:“北京比莫斯科热闹好玩,跟随皇上办事,又比跟随那两个不中用的罗刹小沙皇,风光多了。”康熙微笑道:“我将这批罗刹兵编为两个‘俄罗斯佐领’。这两队兵,就拨归你统带罢。你可得好好管束,不许他们在京里生事。”韦小宝大喜,跪下谢恩。

出得宫来,两队罗刹兵已在太和门外金水桥边侍候。罗刹兵穿了新制的清兵服色,光鲜合身,倒也神气。韦小宝吩咐:每人赏银二十两,给假三天。罗刹兵大叫“乌拉”不已。终康熙之世,这两队罗刹兵一直在清军中服役,忠心不贰,外国使臣前来北京,见到中国皇帝役使罗刹官兵,无不心中敬畏。直到众罗刹兵逐渐老死,“俄罗斯佐领”的编制方始裁撤。(按:关于被俘罗刹兵编入清军详情,具见俞正燮《癸巳类稿》卷九“俄罗斯佐领考”。萧一山《清代通史》云:“俘献京师,玄烨赦之,编为佐领,是为俄罗斯族兵,其苗裔今有存者云。”则俄罗斯兵有和中国女子通婚而生育子女者。)

韦小宝回到府中,公主和其余六位夫人、三名子女都已从宫中出来,人人得了太后不少赏赐,公主却愀然不乐。韦小宝一问,原来太后对七个夫人一视同仁,公主虽是她亲生女儿,却无半句亲热的言语。韦小宝自然明白其中缘故,暗想:“太后没对你特别不好,已是瞧在你老公份上了。”说道:“太后是很识大体的,只怕对你特别好了,六个妹妹吃醋。”公主怒道:“她是我亲娘,对我好些,难道她们也会吃醋?”韦小宝搂住她,笑道:“我对你特别好些,瞧她们吃不吃醋?”众夫人叽叽喳喳,笑成一团。公主是直性子人,大家一闹,也就释然了。

此后十多天中,王公大臣一个个设宴和韦小宝庆功道贺,听戏赌钱,更无虚夕。这一日多隆来访,说起冯锡范失踪了十多天,他家人已告上了顺天府。多隆低声问道:“兄弟,那晚咱们痛打了他一顿,后来怎样了?”韦小宝道:“后来就送他回家了,这家伙到哪里去啦?”多隆道:“不是你杀了他?”韦小宝道:“倘若是我叫人杀了他,你一定也在旁瞧着。多大哥,你有没瞧见?”多隆忙道:“没有,没有。咱们只狠狠打了他一顿,哪里杀他了?”韦小宝道:“是啊。兄弟自从奉旨带兵后,虽已交卸了副总管的差使,但只要是御前侍卫们干的事,不论有甚么干系,兄弟仍然跟大哥一起担当。”

多隆微笑道:“乱子是不会有的。冯家咬定那晚是前锋营老泰派人来接他去的,后来就没回家。顺天府亲自去拜访老泰,问起那晚的事。老泰好不尴尬,支支吾吾的不愿多说,后来老羞成怒,大发脾气,顺天府也不敢查了。”说着站起身来,拍拍韦小宝的肩头,笑道:“兄弟,你是福将。哪想到事情会有这么凑巧,老泰的夫人迟不迟、早不早,偏偏会在这一晚心血来潮,率领娘子军去攻打甜水井胡同。这一来,甚么事情都教老泰给担当了去。”他心中料定,冯锡范定是暗中给韦小宝杀了,这件事自己虽然了担了些干系,但嫁祸于前锋营泰都统,却是大合己意。他哪里知道,泰都统夫人不迟不早于那时出师,并非凑巧,而是韦小宝算准时刻,派人向她通风报信的。他自然更加不会知道,韦小宝派了清兵,在监斩的席棚中搭了复壁,将冯锡范藏于其内。待验明茅十八正身,牵出席棚之时,韦小宝拿出春宫手帕来,引开了多隆的目光,手下亲兵立即将茅十八和冯锡范二人掉了包。其时冯锡范昏迷不醒,满脸是血,衣着打扮和茅十八一模一样,在法场中低头而跪,立即斩首,冯茅二人面貌身材虽然有异,却谁也没有发觉,刽子手所杀的,其实是冯锡范的头。亲兵将茅十八抱入紧靠席棚的韦大人座车,塞住了他嘴巴,马不停蹄的送往扬州,过了黄河才跟他说明真相,又送了他三千两银子。茅十八死里逃生,锐气大挫,又觉韦小宝拚了性命救他,并非不讲义气之人,自也不会再声张出来了。
A few days later, Dolong called on Trinket to report the ‘strange disappearance’ of Feng Xifan. Dolong himself suspected that Trinket had probably had him beaten to death, but he was glad enough to lay the blame at the door of Colonel Tai’s Vanguard men. What Dolong did not know was that the extraordinary coincidence of Colonel Tai’s wife suddenly leading her army of women to Sweet Water Lane had in fact been no coincidence at all. Trinket had planned it all, in order to abort their original plan for Feng Xifan, whereby Feng would have ended up in bed with Tai’s Eighth Concubine. He had thought of a far better plan’ he had seen to it that a false compartment was built into the wall of the stand at the Execution Ground, and that the semi’conscious Feng was hidden there. Once Dolong had positively identified the condemned man, at the very moment when Mao was being dragged out to be decapitated, Trinket had distracted Dolong with the pornographic hankies, while his carefully briefed men swapped Feng for Mao. It was Feng’s head that rolled onto the square. And Mao had been smuggled out aboard Trinket’s carriage, gagged (who knows what he might have tried to shout otherwise’). The carriage then made post’haste towards the South, and only once they had crossed the Yellow River did they stop to explain to Mao what had really happened. He was given three thousand taels and set free. He now knew that he owed his life to Trinket, and that Trinket was not a traitor or a bad man after all. He vowed never to abuse him publicly again.

Safe House

韦小宝连日酬酢,也有些腻了,记挂着天地会的兄弟,心想皇帝的手段越来越厉害,自己在公爵府享福,青木堂的众兄弟可别让皇帝给一网打尽了,须得商量个计较才是。于是扮作个富家公子模样,要双儿扮作了亲随,两人来到天桥,在人丛中混了半个时辰,便见徐天川背着药箱,坐在一家小菜馆中喝茶。韦小宝当即走进茶馆,在徐天川的座头上坐了下来,低声叫道:“徐大哥!”
Trinket found life extremely tedious as the Emperor’s well’behaved loyal subject, constantly enjoying the good life, but unable to make any contact with his Triad friends for fear of alerting one of the Emperor’s countless spies. One day he could stand it no longer. He disguised himself as a wealthy young man about town, and set off (with Doublet dressed as his valet) towards the Bridge of Heaven district, where soon enough they ran into Apothecary Xu with his medicine chest, sitting in a little local tea’house. Trinket strolled in and sat down next to him. ‘Brother Xu!’

徐天川霍地站起,怒容满脸,大踏步走了出去。韦小宝一愕,跟了出去,见徐天川尽往僻静处走去,当下和双儿远远跟随在后。徐天川穿过三条胡同,经过两条小街,来到一条小巷子前,巷口两株大银杏树。他走进巷子,到第五家屋子的大门上打了几下。板门开处,樊纲迎了出来。他一见到韦小宝,一怔之际,也是怒容满脸。韦小宝走上前去,笑道:“樊大哥,你好!”樊纲哼了一声,并不答话。徐天川板起了脸,问道:“韦大人,你是带了兵马来捉我们吗?”韦小宝忙道:“徐三哥怎……怎么开这个玩笑?”樊纲快步走到小巷外一张,回进屋来,关上了门。韦小宝和双儿跟着二人穿过院子,来到大厅,只见李力世、祁清彪、玄贞道人、高彦超、钱老本等一干人都聚在厅上。众人一见韦小宝,都“啊”的一声,站起身来。韦小宝拱手道:“众位哥哥,大家都好。”玄贞道人怒道:“我们还没给你害死,总算还不错!”
Xu looked at him and jumped angrily to his feet, then strode immediately out of the tea’house. Trinket followed him out and trailed him to a lonely side’street. Xu began criss’crossing his way through town, until he finally turned a corner (there was an old gingko tree growing there, Trinket noticed), walked down a narrow alley, and knocked on the door of the fifth house. Who should appear at the door but Fan Gang, the Triad with the big bass voice, whom Trinket remembered from the early days. This was clearly a new Triad safe house. Trinket hurried forward and greeted him. ‘Brother Fan, are you keeping well?’ ‘I should count myself lucky to be still alive, and not to have been killed by you!’

刷的一声,拔出了腰间佩剑。韦小宝退了一步,颤声道:“你……你们为甚么对我……对我这样?我又没做……做甚么对不起你们的事?”玄贞道人大声怒道:“总舵主给你害死了,风二哥也给你害死了,前几天你又杀了茅十八!我……我们恨不得抽你的筋,剥你的皮。”韦小宝大急,忙道:“没……没有的事,那都是假的。”玄贞抢上一步,左手抓住了他衣襟,厉声道:“我们正想不出法子来杀你,你……你这小汉奸今日上门送死,真是总舵主在天有灵。”韦小宝见情势不对,回过头来,便想施展“神行百变”功夫,溜之大吉,却见徐天川和樊纲二人手执兵刃站在身后,只得说道:“大家自己兄弟,何必……何必这样性急?”玄贞道:“谁跟你这小汉奸称兄道弟?你这小鬼花言巧语,没甚么好听的。先剖了你的狼心狗肺出来,祭了总舵主和风二哥再说。”左臂一缩,将他拉近身去。韦小宝大叫:“冤枉,冤枉哪!”双儿眼见危急,从怀里取出罗刹短铳,向着屋顶砰的一声,放了一枪,屋中登时烟雾瀰漫,随即抓住韦小宝后心,用力一扯。玄贞当年吃过西洋火器的大苦头,父兄都死于火器之下,一听到枪声,心头大震,韦小宝便给双儿夺了过去。双儿跃向屋角,挡在韦小宝身前,以短铳铳口对着众人,喝道:“你们讲不讲理?”
He too stared angrily at Trinket. Then he glanced up and down the alley, and led Trinket and Doublet quickly inside, closing the door firmly behind them. They crossed the courtyard, and entered the main hall. The Triads of die Green Wood Lodge were assembled there’ Li Lishi, Tertius Qi, Father Obscurus, Gao Yanchao, Butcher Qian. Trinket was clearly the very last person they were expecting to see. After all, they held him responsible for the deaths of Helmsman Chen, Brother Feng Jizhong, and now Whiskers Mao (who, though not officially a Triad, was a well’respected member of the River and Lake fraternity). Father Obscurus, never one to restrain his impulses, took hold of Trinket and shook him. Trinket’s first thought was to try and escape. But Apothecary Xu and Fan Gang had already blocked the way. It was Doublet who saved the situation by firing her Russian pistol at the ceiling, causing a lot of noise and a great cloud of smoke. Obscurus (whose fur’trader father had been shot by the Russians) started with fright and let go of Trinket. Doublet grabbed hold of Trinket and pointed the pistol at the Triads: ‘Do you want to know the truth or don’t you?’ she cried.

玄贞红了双眼,叫道:“大伙儿上,跟他们拚了!”提剑便欲抢上。钱老本伸手拉住,说道:“道长,且慢!”向双儿道:“你有甚么道理,说来听听。”双儿道:“好!”于是将韦小宝如何为了相救陈近南及众家好汉而出亡、如何给神龙教掳向通吃岛、陈近南如何为郑克塽和冯锡范二人所杀、风际中如何阴谋败露而给自己轰毙、康熙如何一再命令韦小宝剿灭天地会而他决不奉命、最近又如何法场换人搭救茅十八等情,一一说了。她并非伶牙俐齿之人,说得殊不动听,但群豪和她相处日久,素知她诚信不欺,又见她随口说出来,没丝毫踌躇,种种情由决非顷刻之间捏造得出,韦小宝为了救护众人而弃官,伯爵府为大炮轰平,众人原是亲历,再细想风际中的行事,果然一切若合符节,不由得都信了。玄贞道:“既是这样,鞑子皇帝的圣……圣……他妈的圣旨之中,怎么又说是韦香主害死了总舵主?”他改口称为“韦香主”,足见心中已自信了九分。双儿摇头道:“这个我就不懂了。”祁清彪道:“这是鞑子皇帝的阴谋,要韦香主跟本会一刀两断,从今而后,死心塌地做鞑子的大官。”徐天川道:“祁兄弟的话不错。”还刀入鞘,双膝一曲,便向韦小宝跪下,说道:“我们一批胡涂虫鲁莽得紧,得罪了韦香主,罪该万死,甘领责罚。”其余群豪跟着一起跪下。玄贞连打自己耳光,骂道:“该死,该死!”韦小宝和双儿急忙跪下还礼。韦小宝惊魂方定,说道:“众位哥哥请起,常言道不知者不罪。一时误会有甚么打紧?”群豪站起身来,又一再道歉。韦小宝这时可得意了,手舞足蹈,述说往事。他的叙述自然精采生动,事事惊险百出,但在群豪听来,却远不如双儿所说的可信。群豪交头接耳的低声商议了一会,李力世道:“韦香主,总舵主不幸为奸人所害。天地会群龙无首,十堂兄弟一直在商议推举总舵主的事。咱们青木堂兄弟想推你为总舵主。只是怕其余九堂的兄弟们不服,又或是心有疑忌,大伙儿想请你去立一件大功。”韦小宝连连摇手,说道:“总舵主我是决计做不来的。”
In the end, they agreed to hear her out. Doublet explained the entire sequence of events, beginning with how Trinket had saved them all from certain death the night of the bombardment of his house; to how the Helmsman had been killed, not by Trinket, but by Feng Xifan and Zheng Keshuang; to the treachery of Feng Jizhong, for which he had merited death; right down to the recent saving of Whiskers Mao from the executioner’s sword. Doublet was no storyteller, but this made her account all the more credible and convincing. Soon the Triads were on their knees and begging their Lodge Master’s forgiveness-foremost among them the impetuous Father Obscurus, who boxed himself on the ears. Next it was Trinket’s turn to give his version of events, which was certainly a lot more entertaining than Doublet’s, but not for that reason any more credible. One way or another, the Triads were by now fully convinced of their Lodge Master’s innocence, indeed of his heroism. A group of them huddled together conspiratorially and after a little while came forward with a request. They wanted to nominate Trinket as Chen Jinnan’s successor, as the new Helmsman. They went on to say that in order to convince the other Lodges of Trinket’s true dedication to the cause, he would now have to perform a great deed. Trinket declined immediately.

但好奇心起,问道:“却不知要我立甚么大功?”李力世道:“三藩之乱已定,台湾又给鞑子占了,北方罗刹人也已给韦香主打退,咱们反清复明的大业,可越来越难了。”韦小宝叹了口气,道:“是啊。”心中却道:“既然很难,大家就偷偷懒,不干反清复明了罢。”李力世道:“鞑子皇帝年纪虽轻,却是十分精明能干,又会收罗人心。天下百姓对前朝已渐渐淡忘。再这般拖得几年,只怕鞑子的江山就坐稳了。”韦小宝又叹了口气,道:“是啊。”心道:“小玄子坐稳江山,也没甚么不好啊。”李力世道:“韦香主很得皇帝宠信,大伙儿想请你定个计策,带着众兄弟混进宫去,刺死鞑子皇帝。”
But nonetheless, he could not help being curious about the ‘great deed’ they had in mind. ‘Lodge Master Wei,’ (the old title was back), ‘now that Satrap Wu’s rebellion has been put down, now that Taiwan has been taken by the Manchus, and the Mystic Dragons have been crushed, the Manchus are looking more and more entrenched in power.’ ‘I know,’ said Trinket, secretly thinking to himself that with someone like Misty as Emperor, it was hardly surprising! ‘If things go on like this for much longer, the Ming Restoration will be forgotten. The people will accept the Manchus as their rightful sovereigns!’ ‘I know,’ said Trinket again, secretly thinking to himself, ‘So much the better!’, which was a very un’Triad’like thought. ‘You are the only one who can stop this from happening! You must help us to sneak into the Palace and murder the Emperor!’

韦小宝大惊,颤声道:“这……这件事可办不到。”樊纲道:“请问韦香主,不知道中间有什么困难?”韦小宝道:“皇宫里的侍卫多得很,又有骁骑营、前锋营、护军营、火器营、健锐营、虎枪营等等保驾,乖乖不得了。单是侍卫,就有御前侍卫、干清门侍卫、三旗侍卫。当日神拳无敌归辛树老爷子这等英雄了得,尚且失手毙命,何况是我?要行刺皇上,那可是难上加难。”群豪听他一口拒绝,已是不悦,又听他口称“皇上”,奴气十足,更是人人脸有怒色。樊纲向众兄弟瞧了一眼,对韦小宝道:“韦香主,行刺鞑子皇帝当然极难,然而由你主持大局,却也不是绝无成功的指望。我们兄弟进得宫去,那是没一人想活着出来的了,却无论如何要保得韦香主平安。你曾为本会立了不少大功,本会十数万兄弟之中,实在没一人及得上你。天地会和鞑子不共戴天。今后反清复明的重担子,全仗韦香主挑起。”韦小宝摇头道:“这件事我是决计不干的。皇上要我灭了天地会,我不肯干,那是讲义气。你们要我去刺杀皇帝,我也不干,那也是讲义气。”玄贞怒道:“你是汉人,却去跟鞑子皇帝讲义气,那不是……不是汉……”他本想骂出“汉奸”两字来,终于强行忍住。樊纲道:“这件事十分重大。韦香主难以即刻答应,那也是情理之常。请你仔细想想,再吩咐大伙儿罢。”韦小宝忙道:“好,好。我去仔细想想,我去仔细想想。”徐天川见他毫无诚意,说道:“只盼韦香主不可忘了故总舵主的遗志,不可忘了亡国的惨祸,凡我汉人,决不能做鞑子的奴才。”韦小宝道:“对,对。那是不能忘的。”群豪知他言不由衷,均各默然。韦小宝瞧瞧这个,望望那个,笑道:“众位哥哥怎么不说话了?”群豪仍是均不作声。韦小宝甚感没趣,犹似芒刺在背,说道:“那么今天咱们暂且分手,待我回去仔细想想,再跟众位大哥商量。”说着站起身来。群豪送到巷口,恭恭敬敬的行礼而别。
Trinket shook his head. ‘In the first place, I can’t do it. Look what happened to Old Gui-you know what a fighter he was! In the second place, I won’t do it. The Emperor wanted me to wipe out the Triads and I refused, because I knew it would be wrong to betray my friends. Now you want me to help you kill the Emperor, and I won’t do it, because it would be wrong to betray-‘ He was about to call the Manchu Emperor his friend in front of the Triads, but stopped short. It was a good thing he did, or Father Obscurus would most probably have spontaneously combusted. Take your time,’ said Fan Gang. This is a very big undertaking, and we quite understand if you need a day or two to think it over.’ ‘Yes,’ Trinket hastened to reply. ‘Let me think about it.’ There was an awkward silence. They knew that Trinket’s heart was no longer in his role as Lodge Master, and he knew that they knew. They said their farewells.

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