The Deer And The Cauldron 9

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第九回 琢磨颇望成全璧 激烈何须到碎琴

In which Trinket becomes better acquainted with the Factions of the Resistance Treatment for the Poison

过了三天,韦小宝禀明康熙,要出去访查鳌拜的余党,径自到东城甜水井胡同来。Three days later, having first given Kang Xi notice that he was going to look for remnants of Oboi’s faction, Trinket made his way to Sweet Water Lane in the East City.

  离胡同口十来丈处停着一副馄饨担子,卖馄饨的见到韦小宝,拿起下馄饨的长竹筷,在盛钱的竹筒上托托托的敲了三下,停一停,敲了两下,又敲三下。Twenty yards or so from the entrance to the lane there was a wonton stall whose stallholder, when he saw Trinket coming, picked up one of the long chopsticks he used for fishing out boiling wontons from his cauldron and beat a rhythm with it on the side of the bamboo cylinder he kept his money in: three taps, pause, two taps, pause, three taps.隔着数丈处,有人挑了担子在卖青萝卜,那人用削萝卜的刀子在扁担上也这般敲击。A few yards farther on a radish-seller who carried his wares suspended from the ends of a carrying-pole drummed the same rhythm on his carrying-pole with a knife.韦小宝料想是天地会传讯之法,随着一个卖冰糖葫芦的小贩进了胡同,Realizing that this must be one of the Triads’ secret signals, like the ones he had seen them using a few days previously, he followed a toffee-apple seller into the lane.来到漆黑大门的一座屋子前。门口蹲着三人,正用石灰粉刷墙壁,Some way down it the man halted momentarily by a house with a black-lacquered door outside which squatted three men whitewashing a wall.见到韦小宝后点了点头,石灰刀在墙上敲击数下,大门便即开了。One of them, when he saw Trinket, picked up the lime-knife and banged the same rhythm with it on the wall. At once the house-door opened.

  韦小宝走进院子,进了大厅,见陈近南已坐在厅中,立即上前磕头。Trinket walked inside, crossed the courtyard and climbed up the steps to the main reception hall, where the Helmsman sat ready waiting. He went straight up to him and kowtowed.陈近南甚是喜欢,说道:“你来得早,再好也没有了。The Helmsman seemed very pleased to see him. ‘You’re early, Trinket, that’s excellent,’ he said.我本来想多耽几天,传你功夫,但昨天接到讯息,福建有件大事要我赶去料理。这次我只能停留一天。”’I’d been hoping to stay here a few days longer so that I could begin your training, but I’ve just had news from Fujian that there’s some important business there they want me to sort out for them. So this time I can only stay one day.’韦小宝心中一喜:“你没空多传我功夫,将来我练得不好,那是你的事,可不能怪我。”Trinket was rather pleased. ‘If you haven’t got time to teach me,’ he thought, ‘it won’t be my fault if next time you see me I’m not much good.’脸上却尽是失望之色。But he tried to look disappointed.

  陈近南从怀中取出一本薄薄的册子来,说道:The Helmsman took a thin booklet from the inner pocket of his gown. “这是本门修习内功的基本法门,你每日自行用功。”’This is our school’s basic training manual, showing the exercises we use for strengthening our Inner Force,’ he said. ‘You must practise these every day.’打开册子,每一页上都绘有人像,当下将修习内功的法门和口诀传授了。He opened the booklet, and began going through it. On each page there was a picture of a little man doing one of the Inner Force exercises and some lines of verse explaining the purpose of the exercise and the correct way of doing it. The Helmsman read these out aloud for the benefit of his new disciple.韦小宝一时之间也未能全盘领悟,只是用心记忆。Trinket could not understand all of the verses but memorized as many of them as he could.陈近南花了两个多时辰,将这套内功授完,说道:The Helmsman spent the better part of four hours going over them all and explaining them. “本门功夫以正心诚意为先。’Our School of Martial Arts sets great store on will-power and the ability to concentrate the mind,’ he said.你这人心猿意马,和本门功夫格格不入,练起来加倍艰难,须得特别用功才是。’You’re rather a butterfly-minded boy and power of concentration is precisely what you haven’t got, so training will be doubly difficult in your case and you’ll need to make twice as much effort as is normally needed for these exercises.你牢牢记住,倘若练得心意烦躁,头晕眼花,便不可再练,须待静了下来,收拾杂念,再从头练起,否则会有重大危险。”But always remember this: if, when you are doing them, your mind begins to wander or you start feeling dizzy, stop at once, wait until you feel calmer and can concentrate your thoughts, and start all over again. Not to do so can be very dangerous.’韦小宝答应了,双手接过册子,放入怀中。Promising to do as the Helmsman said, Trinket received the manual from him respectfully, with both his hands, and stowed it away in the inner pocket of his gown.

  陈近南又细问海大富所授武功的详情,待韦小宝连说带比的一一说完,陈近南沉吟道:The Helmsman now questioned him once more about the Martial Arts training he had received from Hai Dafu. After listening to his description and watching him mime some of the movements, he looked puzzled. “这些功夫,你也早知道是假的,当真遇上敌人,半点也不管用。我只是奇怪,怎地鞑子皇太后传授给鞑子小皇帝的武功,却也是假的。”’You already know yourself that this stuff he taught you is all bogus,’ he said. ‘It would be completely useless against an enemy. What I can’t understand is why the Tartar Empress Dowager should have taught bogus self-defence methods to the Tartar Emperor.’韦小宝道:“老婊子不是小皇帝的亲娘,而且……而且老婊子不是好人,是个大大的坏人。”’She isn’t the Emperor’s real mother, ‘ said Trinket, ‘she’s an Old Whore. She’s not a good person at all. In fact, she’s very, very bad.’心想老婊子害死小皇帝的母亲等等情由,牵连太过重大,对师父也不能说,何况此事跟师父毫不相干。It occurred to him that some of the things he had learnt about the Empress Dowager, like the fact that she had murdered the little Emperor’s real mother, were of too great consequence to be told his Shifu and were not, in any case, his Shifu’s business.

  陈近南点点头,跟着又查问海大富的为人和行事,只觉这老太监的所作所为之中,充满了诡秘。The Helmsman nodded and asked some more questions about Hai Dafu–the sort of person he was and the way he behaved. The more he heard about this old eunuch, the more he got the impression that some sinister mystery surrounded him.韦小宝说了一些,突然间“哇”的一声,哭了出来。They were still talking about him when Trinket surprised the Helmsman by suddenly uttering a loud wail and bursting into tears.陈近南温言问道:“小宝,怎么啦?”韦小宝抽抽噎噎的将海大富在汤中暗下毒药的事说了,最后泣道:The Helmsman asked him kindly what the matter was and Trinket, his whole body shaking with sobs, told him about the systematic way in which Old Hai had been poisoning him. “师父,我这毒是解不了的啦。我死之后,青木堂的兄弟们可不能再用老法子。”There isn’t an antidote,’ he said. ‘And besides, when I die, the Brothers in Green Wood Lodge won’t be able to follow the rule.’陈近南问道:“什么老法子?”韦小宝道:“鳌拜害死尹香主,我杀了鳌拜,大伙儿就叫我做青木堂香主。’What rule?’ asked the Helmsman, puzzled. ‘Well, Oboi killed Brother Yin,’ said Trinket, ‘and I killed Oboi, so the Brothers made me Master of the Lodge.海老乌龟害死韦香主,老婊子杀了海老乌龟。大伙儿可不能请老婊子来做青木堂香主。”When I die it will be because of Old Hai; but Old Hai has already been killed by the Old Whore and they can’t very well make her Master.’陈近南哈哈一笑,细心搭他脉搏,又详询他小腹疼痛的情状,伸指在他小腹四周穴道上或轻或重的按捺,The Helmsman laughed out loud. Then he very carefully took Trinket’s pulse and felt all over his abdomen, varying the pressure of his fingers on the vital points and telling him to say when it hurt.沉吟半晌,说道:“不用怕!海大富的毒药,或许世上当真无药可解,但我可用内力将毒逼了出来。”After muttering to himself for a minute or two, he assured Trinket that he had no need to worry. ‘It may be that there is no known antidote,’ he said, ‘but I can use my inner power to expel it.’韦小宝大喜,连说:“多谢师父!”Trinket’s cheerfulness returned. ‘Can you, Shifu?’ he said. ‘Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.’

  陈近南领他到卧室之中,命他躺在床上,The Helmsman led him into a bedroom and made him lie down on the bed;左手按在他胸口“膻中穴”,右手按住他背脊“大椎穴”。 then he placed his left hand over the Middle Fetid point on his lower abdomen and his right hand over the Major Vertebral point on his back and held them there under gentle pressure.过得片刻,韦小宝只觉两股热气缓缓向下游走,全身说不出的舒服,迷迷糊糊的就睡着了。After a while Trinket could feel two channels of warmth moving downwards through his insides and an indescribable sense of well-being suffusing his whole body. A great drowsiness came over him, and very soon he dropped off to sleep.

  睡梦之中,突觉腹中说不出的疼痛,“啊哟”一声,醒了过来,叫道:“师父,我……我要拉屎!”It was a sleep troubled by dreams, however, in one of which he experienced a sudden pain in his insides, so intense that he cried out and woke himself with his cry. ‘Shifu,’ he shouted, ‘I… I need to shit.’陈近南带他到茅房门口。韦小宝刚解开裤子,稀屎便已直喷,但觉腥臭难当,口中跟着大呕。The Helmsman led him to the door of the latrine. He barely had time to get his trousers down before the explosion of liquid faeces burst from his insides, accompanied by a most dreadful stench.

  韦小宝回到卧室,双腿酸软,几难站直。After that he was very sick. On the way back to the bedroom his legs were so weak and wobbly that they could barely support him.陈近南微笑道:“好啦,你中的毒已去了十之八九,余下来的已不打紧。我这里有十二粒解毒灵丹,The Helmsman smiled his little smile. ‘That’s good. That will have got rid of most of the poison, and what’s left shouldn’t do you any harm. I’ve got twelve pills here I’m going to give you which contain a powerful dispersant.你分十二天服下,余毒就可驱除干净。”I want you to take one of them every day for twelve days. That should clear your body completely of whatever remains of the poison.’从怀中取出一个小瓷瓶,交给韦小宝。He extracted a small porcelain bottle from the inside breast pocket of his gown and handed it to Trinket.韦小宝接了,好生感激,说道:“师父,这药丸你自己还有没有?你都给了我,要是你自己中毒……”Trinket’s gratitude made him considerate. ‘But Shifu,’ he said, ‘have you got any more of these pills? If these are all you’ve got, what will you do if someone tries to poison you?’陈近南微微一笑,说道:“人家想下我的毒,也没这么容易。”The Helmsman smiled a trifle grimly. ‘Anyone trying to poison me won’t find it so easy.’

  眼见天色已晚,陈近南命人开出饭来,和韦小宝同食。As it was getting late, the Helmsman ordered a meal to be brought and invited Trinket to sit with him and share it.韦小宝见只有四碗寻常菜肴,心想:“师父是大英雄,却吃得这等马虎。”There were only four bowls of very plain fare to go with the rice. Trinket could not understand why his heroic Shifu should be so indifferent about what he ate,他既知身上剧毒已解,心怀大畅,吃饭和替师父装饭之时,脸上笑咪咪地,甚是欢喜。but the relief he felt now that he knew his body was almost completely free of the deadly poison was so great that nothing could diminish his cheerfulness, and all the time he was eating or helping his Shifu to more rice there was a happy smile on his face.饭罢,韦小宝又替师父斟了茶。陈近南喝了几口,说道:“小宝,盼你做个好孩子。我一有空闲,便到京城来传你武艺。”When they had finished eating, Trinket poured the Helmsman some tea and the Helmsman sat sipping it for a while. ‘You know, Trinket, ‘ he said musingly, ‘you could be a good lad if you chose. As soon as I have the time, I’ll come back to Peking and begin your training.’

  韦小宝应道:“是。”陈近南道:“好,你这就回皇宫去罢。鞑子狡猾得紧,你虽也聪明,毕竟年纪小,要事事小心。”’Yes sir, ‘ said Trinket. ‘All right, then, ‘ said the Helmsman, ‘you’d better be getting back to the Palace. The Tartars are a crafty lot. I know you’re an intelligent boy, but you’re still young. You need to be very, very careful.’

  韦小宝道:“师父,我在宫里很气闷,什么时候才可以跟着你行走江湖?”’Shifu, ‘ said Trinket, ‘I get so bored in the Palace. When shall I be able to travel around with you?’

  陈近南凝视他脸,道:“你且忍耐几年,为本会立几件大功。The Helmsman looked at him hard. ‘You’ll have to be patient for a few years yet, ‘ he said. ‘Wait until you’ve distinguished yourself by carrying out one or two important assignments for the Society.等得……等得再过几年,你声音变了,胡子也长出来时,不能再冒充太监,那时再出宫来。”Wait until–well, until your voice starts to break and you begin growing hair on your face, so that it’s no longer possible for you to pretend that you’re a eunuch. That will be the time to leave the Palace.’韦小宝心想:“我在宫里做好事还是做坏事,你们谁也不知,想废去我的香主,可没有那么容易。’While I’m in the Palace none of you has any means of knowing what I’m getting up to, ‘ thought Trinket. ‘And if you don’t know what I’m getting up to, you won’t have any grounds for taking my Mastership away from me–even if you want to.将来我年纪大了,武功练好了,或许你们便不废了。”想到此处,便开心起来,说道:“是,是。师父,我去啦。”By the time I’m grown up and properly trained, perhaps you won’t want me to stop being Master anyway.’ Consoled somewhat by these calculations, he regained his cheerfulness. ‘All right, Shifu, ‘ he said. I’ll be off, then.’

  陈近南站起身来,拉着他手,说道:“小宝,鞑子气候已成,The Helmsman stood up and took Trinket’s hand in his own. Trinket, ‘ he said, ‘as things are at present, it looks as if the Tartars have got everything going their way.这反清复明的大事,是艰难得很的。The great task we have set ourselves, of overthrowing them and bringing back the Ming, is going to be extremely difficult.你在皇宫之中,时时刻刻会遇到凶险,Living in the midst of them in the Imperial Palace, you are liable at any moment to find yourself in the most terrible danger.你年纪这样小,又没学到什么真实本领,我实在好生放心不下。And you’re still so young and haven’t yet had any real training in self-defence. I can’t help feeling worried about you.不过咱们既入了天地会,这身子就不是自己的了,只要于反清复明大业有利,就算明知是火坑,也只好跳下去。Of course, when we enter the Society our lives are no longer ours and we have to do whatever we know will advance the cause, even if it means throwing ourselves into a pit of fire.只可惜……只可惜你不能时时在我身边,我可好好教你。但盼将来你能多跟我一些时候。Still– I really am sorry that I can’t always be at your side, to teach you all the things you ought to know about. I only hope the time will come when we can spend a bit more time together.现下会中兄弟们敬重于你,只不过瞧在我的份上,但我总不能照应你一辈子。At present the Brothers only respect you because of me, but the time will come when I’m no longer there to look after you.

  将来人家敬重你,还是瞧你不起,一切全凭你自己。”When that time comes, it will be up to you whether the Brothers still respect you or not.’韦小宝道:“是。我丢自己的脸不打紧,师父的脸可丢不起。”’I know, Shifu, ‘ said Trinket. ‘It doesn’t matter if I disgrace myself, but I mustn’t disgrace you.’陈近南摇头道:“你自己丢脸,那也不成啊。”The Helmsman shook his head. ‘No, Trinket, ‘ he said. ‘Your honour is just as important as mine, ‘韦小宝应道:“是,是。那么我丢小桂子的脸好了。’All right, ‘ said Trinket. ‘Let’s say it doesn’t matter if Laurie disgraces himself then.小桂子是鞑子太监,咱们丢小桂子的脸,就是丢鞑子的脸,那就是反清复明。”Laurie is a Tartar eunuch, so his honour doesn’t matter. By disgracing Laurie, I’ll be disgracing the Tartars. That will be my way of helping the great cause.’陈近南长叹一声,实不知如何教导才是。The Helmsman sighed. He was beginning to wonder if he would ever succeed in teaching this wayward boy some sense.韦小宝进宫回到自己屋里,将索额图交来几十张、一共四十六万六千五百两的银票反复细看,心下大乐。When Trinket got back to the Palace and was in his own room again, he had another look at the banknotes that Songgotu had sent him. There were about fifty in all, representing a total of four hundred and sixty-six thousand, five hundred taels of silver. Counting and recounting them gave him a great thrill of pleasure.原来索额图为了讨好他,本来答应四十五万两银子,The sum that Songgotu, in the hope that it would buy him an influential ally in the Palace, had originally promised was four hundred and fifty thousand (half a million, less fifty thousand taels distributed in tips).后来变卖鳌拜家产,得价较预计为多,又加了一万多两。This had been augmented by an additional sixteen thousand, five hundred because the sale of Oboi’s estate had realized an amount considerably greater than had been estimated.他看了多时,收起银票,取出陈近南的那本武功册子,照着所传秘诀,盘膝而坐,练了起来。After looking at the banknotes for quite a while, Trinket put them away, got out the Inner Force training manual that the Helmsman had given him, assumed the cross-legged attitude indicated and embarked on the first lesson.他点收银票,看到票子上银号、票号的朱印时神采奕奕,一翻到武功图谱,登时兴味索然,But for some reason, though he had felt full of beans when he was studying his banknotes– working out the figures and examining the red imprints on them– as soon as he set eyes on the manual his spirits sank.何况书中的注解一百个字中也识不上一个,The pictures were dull and uninspiring and, to make matters worse, there were all these hundreds of characters only one or two of which he could recognize.练不到小半个时辰,便觉神昏眼倦,倒在床上便睡着了。Less than half an hour he was feeling tired and muzzy, and when he abandoned the exercises and flopped down on the bed, he dropped off almost immediately and slept through until the next morning.

  次日醒来后,在书房中侍候完了皇帝,回到屋里,又再练功,过不多时又竟入睡。Later that morning, when his hours of duty in the Upper Library were finished and he was back in his own room, he had another shot at beginning his training. But it was only to fall asleep once more.原来陈近南这一门功夫入门极是不易,非有极大毅力,难以打通第一关。The fact is that the Helmsman’s system of Martial Arts training required, especially in the initial stages, an extraordinary amount of will-power,韦小宝聪明机警,却便是少了这一份毅力, and for all his intelligence and quickness of wit, Trinket simply did not have enough of that commodity to get over the first hurdle.第一个坐式一练,便觉艰难无比,昏昏欲睡。For him, the meditation and breathing exercises with which the course began were an insuperable difficulty. They simply made him feel sleepy.一觉醒转,已是半夜,心想:“师父叫我练功,可是他的功夫乏味之极。This time when he woke up it was after midnight. ‘It’s all very fine for Shifu to tell me I must practise this stuff,’ he thought, ‘but it’s so boring.但如偷懒不练罢,下次见到师父,他一查之下,我功夫半点也没长进,一定老大不高兴。Still, if I don’t persevere, he’ll be able to tell at a glance that I’m not any better next time I see him, and he’s not going to like that at all.说不定便将我的青木堂香主给废了。”Probably he’ll take away my job as Master of the Green Wood Lodge, I shouldn’t wonder.’起身再拿那册子来看,依法打坐修习,过不多时双眼又是沉重之极,忍不住要睡,心想:He got up, had another look at the manual, and sat himself down again in the prescribed attitude, but it was no good: his eyelids were soon drooping once more and it was a struggle to keep awake. “他们打定了主意,要过河拆桥,我这座桥是青石板大桥也罢,是烂木头独木桥也罢,’Dammit!’ he thought. ‘I’m just a bridge for these people, to get them over their difficulty. What difference does it make whether I’m a bridge of granite or just a rotten old plank?他们总是要拆的,我练不练功夫,也不相干。”They’re going to get rid of me anyway, whether I do all this training or not.’既找到了不练功夫的借口,心下大宽,倒头呼呼大睡。Greatly relieved to have found an excuse for not practising, he lay down on the bed again and was soon fast asleep.他既不须再练武功,此后的日子便过得甚是逍遥自在,Now that he had abandoned his training, the days passed extremely pleasantly.十二粒药丸服完,小腹上的疼痛已无影无踪。He had finished the twelve pills that the Helmsman had given him and his stomach was completely free from pain.日间只在上书房中侍候康熙几个时辰,空下来便跟温氏兄弟等掷骰子赌钱。Every day he had only to wait on the Emperor for a few hours in the Upper Library; after that he was free to spend all his time at dice with the Wen brothers and their friends.他此刻是身有数十万两银子家财的大富豪,掷骰子原已不用再作弊行骗,但羊牯当前,不骗上几下,心中可有说不出的不痛快,He was now a semi-millionaire and did not need to cheat; but what seasoned gambler playing with donkeys who are waiting to be relieved of their money can resist cheating a little bit when cheating is half the fun?温氏兄弟、平威、老吴等人欠他的赌债自然越积越多。The Wen brothers and the other gamblers, Fat Ping, Wu and the rest, continued to get deeper and deeper in his debt,

  好在韦小宝不讨赌债,而海大富又已不在人世,温氏兄弟等虽债台高筑,却也不怎样担心。but since Trinket never asked them for the money and they no longer had Old Hai to worry about, they had long since ceased to care.至于尚膳监的事务,自有手下太监料理,每逢初二、十六,管事太监便送四百两银子到韦小宝屋子里来。As for his managerial duties in the Imperial Catering Department, these were taken care of for him by the Eunuch Supervisors, who, regular as clockwork, delivered four hundred taels of silver to his quarters on the second and sixteenth of each month, so that all he had to do was receive the money.这时索额图早已替他将几万两银子分送宫中嫔妃和有权势的太监、侍卫,And Songgotu, acting on his behalf, had by now distributed some tens of thousands of taels among the ladies-in-waiting, members of the Palace Guard, and all the most influential eunuchs.韦小宝嘴头上既来得,康熙又正对他十分宠幸,这几个月中,在宫中众口交誉,人人见了他都笑颜相迎。This, together with the fact that Trinket always knew what to say to people to keep them happy and the fact that he was known to be a great favourite of the Emperor, meant that wherever he went in the Palace he met smiling faces.秋尽冬来,天气日冷一日,这天韦小宝从上书房中下来,忽然想起:One day, as autumn was drawing towards winter and the weather was beginning to grow colder, a thought suddenly struck him as he was coming off duty in the Upper Library: “师父吩咐,倘若有事,便去天桥找卖膏药的徐老头联络。’Shifu told me that if there was ever anything I needed to consult him about I should get in touch with some old fogey called Xu who sells plasters near the Bridge of Heaven.虽然没什么事,也不妨去跟他对答一下,什么‘地振高冈,一派溪山千古秀。门朝大海,三河合水万年流’,倒也有趣。I haven’t got anything to consult him about, but it would be fun to go there and try out that mumbo-jumbo he taught me.喂,你这张膏药要三两黄金、三两白银,太贵啦,太贵啦!五两黄金、五两白银卖不卖?哈哈,哈哈!””Did you say three taels of gold and three taels of silver for that plaster? Too dear, too dear! What about five taels of gold and five taels of silver?” Ha ha ha!’

  他走出宫门,在大街上转了几转,Walking through the Palace gates and along the main thoroughfare outside, he turned off after a while and wandered for a bit through the side-streets.见一家茶馆中有个说书先生在说书,便踱进去泡了壶茶坐下。Presently he came to a tea-house where a storyteller was holding forth to an attentive audience. He strolled inside, ordered a pot of tea, and sat down at one of the tables.说书先生说的正是《英烈传》,The storyteller was reciting an excerpt from Heroes of the Ming.说到朱元璋和陈友谅在鄱阳湖大战,He had just reached the passage describing the great naval battle between Zhu Yuanzhang and Chen Youliang on Lake Poyang–如何周颠抱了朱元璋换船、如何陈友谅战船上一炮轰来,将朱元璋原来的坐船轰得粉碎。the bit where Zhou Dian carries Zhu Yuanzhang into another ship not long before a cannon-shot from Chen Youliang’s vessel lands on the ship that Zhu Yuanzhang had just left and blows it to smithereens.这些情节韦小宝早已听得烂熟,那说书的穿插也不甚佳,Trinket had heard this tale many times before and the storyteller wasn’t telling it very well;但他一坐下来,便听了大半个时辰,东逛西混,直到天黑,这天竟没到天桥去。nevertheless he sat there listening for a good three-quarters of an hour before continuing on his way; but his progress was so leisurely and so full of distractions that long before he reached the Bridge of Heaven district it was getting dark and he had to hurry back to the Palace. .. …第二天,第三天也始终没去。每晚临睡,心里总说,明天该去瞧瞧那徐老头儿了,Next day and the day after that he didn’t go out at all, though on each of those days he told himself at bedtime that on the tomorrow he really must go and try to find old Xu.可是第二天不是去掷骰子赌钱,便是去听说书,要不然到街市之中乱花银子。He continued to make this resolution on many subsequent nights as well, but invariably next day would find him either dicing and gambling in the Palace or else outside in the city, listening to some storyteller or wandering through the streets and markets, spending his money on unnecessary trifles.这些日子在皇宫里逍遥快乐,做太监比做天地会的什么香主、臭主要适意得多,It was such a relaxed, enjoyable life he led now. Being a eunuch was, he had to admit, much more agreeable than being the Master of a Lodge.自知这念头十分没出息,也不敢多想,偶尔念及,便自己安慰:He knew this was an unworthy thought and tried to suppress it; yet even when it wouldn’t be suppressed, there were ways he found of solacing his conscience. “反正我又没事,去找徐老头儿干么?泄漏了机密,送了我小命不打紧,反而连累了天地会的大事。”’After all,’ he told himself, ‘I haven’t got any business to report, so what would I be contacting the old bloke for? And suppose while I was looking for him I was being shadowed and the Palace got to find out who I really was? Old Trink’s little life might be unimportant, but what about the others? The whole Triad Society would be at risk.’如此又过月余,韦小宝这一日又在茶馆中听《英烈传》。More than a month passed by in this manner; then a day came when he found himself once more in the tea-house to hear another instalment of Heroes of the Ming.

  茶博士见他是宫中太监,给的赏钱又多,总是给他留下最好的座头,泡的是上好香茶。The waiter, knowing that this was a Palace Eunuch who gave generous tips, led him to one of the reserved tables and served him with the highest grade of jasmine-scented tea.韦小宝这些日子来给人奉承惯了,对茶博士的恭谨巴结虽不怎么希罕,听在耳里却也着实受用。These days Trinket was accustomed to preferential treatment and took the flattering attentions of the waiter more or less for granted; still, the man’s deferential way of speaking was very agreeable to the ear.

  坛上说书说的是大将军徐达挂帅出征,将鞑子兵赶往蒙古。The storyteller on his little platform had reached the point in the story where the great General Xu Da takes command and drives the Tartars back into Mongolia.京师之地,茶馆里听书的旗人甚多,说书先生不敢公然提“鞑”二字,Since this was Peking, the Capital of the Manchu Empire, there were many Manchus in the audience, so the storyteller dared not use the word ‘Tartar’ when referring to the Mongols.只说是元兵元将,但也说得口沫横飞,精神十足。But this had not prevented him from working himself up into a fine frenzy of excitement. The listeners at the nearer tables were in serious danger of being hit by flying spittle.韦小宝正听得出神,忽有一人说道:“借光!”在他的茶桌边坐下。Just as Trinket was beginning to get carried away by the performance, a voice beside him suddenly said ‘May I?’ and a man sat down at his table.韦小宝眉头一皱,有些不耐烦。那人轻声说道:“小人有张上好膏药,想卖与公公,公公请看。”Trinket frowned crossly at the interruption, but instead of being discouraged, the man leaned over and addressed him in a low voice: ‘I’ve got a very good plaster here, I’d like to sell you, Goong-goong. Would you care to have a look at it?’韦小宝一转头,只见桌上放着一张膏药,一半青,一半红,他心中一动,问道:“这是什么膏药?”Trinket turned his head and glanced down at the plaster that the man had laid on the table. He gave a start. It was in two colours: one half was red and one half was green. ‘What sort of plaster is that?’ he asked.

  那人道:“这是除清恶毒、令双目复明的膏药。”压低了声音,道:“有个名目,叫作‘去清复明膏药’。” ‘It’s a cure for tartar poisoning,’ the man said. He dropped his voice even lower: To drive out the Tartar. Full restoration guaranteed.’

  韦小宝看那人时,见他三十来岁年纪,英气勃勃,并不是师父所说的那个徐老头,心下起疑,Trinket glanced up at the speaker, a young man of thirty or so, bursting with health and vigour: certainly not the elderly Mr Xu that the Helmsman had led him to expect. He became suspicious.问道:“这张膏药要卖多少银子?”那人道:“三两白银,三两黄金。”韦小宝道:“五两白银、五两黄金卖不卖?”那人说道:“那不是太贵了吗?”’How much are you asking for it?’ Three taels of silver and three taels of gold,’ said the man. ‘Would you take five taels of silver and five taels of gold?’ Trinket asked him. ‘Isn’t that too much?’ said the man.韦小宝道:“不贵不贵,只要当真去得清毒。复得了明,便给你做牛做马,也是不贵。”那人将膏药向韦小宝身前一推,低声道:“公公,请借一步说话。”说着站起身来,走出茶馆。’It’s not a lot,’ said Trinket. ‘I’d give anything at all to get rid of the Tartar poison.’ The man pushed the plaster towards him. ‘Can I have a word with you outside, Goong-goong?’ he said, and without waiting for a reply, he rose to his feet and made his way out of the tea-house.

  韦小宝将二百文钱丢在桌上,取了膏药,走了出去。那人候在茶馆之外,Trinket threw down two hundred pennyworth of copper cash on the table as a tip for the waiter, picked up the plaster, and followed him. The man was waiting for him outside the tea-house.向东便走,转入一条胡同,站定了脚,When he saw Trinket coming, he started walking in an easterly direction and presently turned a corner into one of the side lanes leading off the street. Then he stopped again and waited for Trinket to catch up with him.说道:“地振高冈,一派溪水千古秀。”韦小宝道:“门朝大海,三河合水万年流。”不等他问,先行问道:“阁下在红花亭畔住哪一堂?”那人道:“兄弟是青木堂。”韦小宝道:“堂上烧几炷香?”那人道:“三炷香!”韦小宝点了点头,心想:“你比我的职位可低了两级。”’Which Lodge beside the Red Flower Pavilion?’ he asked, as Trinket joined him. ‘The Green Wood one.’ ‘Who burns the joss-sticks in the Lodge?’ ‘The Master.’那人叉手躬身,低声道:“哥哥是青木堂烧五炷香的韦香主?”韦小宝道:“正是。”心想:“你年纪比我大得多,却叫我哥哥,当真要叫得好听,怎么又不叫爷爷,阿叔?”???

  那人道:“兄弟姓高,名叫彦超,是韦香主的下属,久仰香主的英名,今日得见,实是大幸。”’I’m Gao Yanchao,’ said the man, ‘one of the Brothers under your command. Very pleased to meet you, Master.’韦小宝心中一喜,笑道:“高大哥好说,大家是自己人,何必客气。”Trinket felt a glow of pride at being so addressed, but did his best to conceal it. ‘Pleased to meet you too, Brother Gao. But we’re all Brothers: forget about the Master bit.’高彦超道:“本堂有一位姓徐的徐大哥,向在天桥卖药,今日给人打得重伤,特来报知韦香主。”’There’s a Brother Xu in our Lodge who sells medicines near the Bridge of Heaven,’ said Brother Gao. ‘He got very badly beaten up today. That’s what I wanted to see you about.’韦小宝吃了一惊,说道:“我连日宫中有事,没去会他。他怎么受了伤,是给谁打的?”’Oh?’ said Trinket, startled. ‘I’ve had so much to do in the Palace lately, I haven’t had a chance to meet Brother Xu yet. How come he got beaten up? Who did it?’高彦超道:“此处不便详告,请韦香主跟我来。”韦小宝点了点头。高彦超大步而行,韦小宝远远跟着。’I can’t go into details here,’ said Brother Gao. ‘Would you mind just following me?’ He began walking off at a brisk pace and Trinket followed him some way behind.过了七八条街,来到一条小街,高彦超走进一家药店。韦小宝见招牌上写着五个字,自然一个也不识,也不用细看,料想是药店的名字,便跟着进去。After seven or eight turns in the little back streets, Brother Gao disappeared inside a shop. Trinket couldn’t read any of the characters on the sign, but he could see that it was an apothecary’s. He walked inside.柜台内坐着一个肥肥胖胖的掌柜,apothecary, an enormously fat man, was sitting behind the counter.高彦超走上前去,在他耳畔低声说了几句。Trinket saw Brother Gao go up to him and whisper something in his ear.那胖掌柜连声应道:“是,是!”站起身来,向韦小宝点了点头,道:“客官要买上好药材,请进来罢!”’Yes, yes. Of course,’ said the fat man. He got up and nodded in Trinket’s direction. ‘If it’s best quality herbs you’re looking for, sir, may I ask you to step inside?’引着韦小宝和高彦超走进内室,反手带上了门,俯身掀开一块地板,露出一个洞来,有石级通将下去。He led Brother Gao and Trinket into a room behind the shop and closed the door after them. Then he bent down and raised a square section of the flooring, revealing a flight of stone steps leading down into a passage.

  韦小宝见地道中黑黝黝地,心下惊疑不定:“这两人真是天地会的兄弟吗?只怕有点儿靠不住。下面若是宰杀韦小宝的屠房,岂不糟糕?”The passage was very dark and Trinket once more became suspicious. ‘Are these two characters really Triads?’ he wondered. There’s something a bit fishy about all this. Suppose they’ve got a Carve Up Trinket room down there? That wouldn’t be very funny.’但高彦超跟在身后,其势已无可退缩,只得跟着那掌柜走入地道。But Brother Gao was standing close behind him, so he had no choice but to follow the fat apothecary down the steps.

  幸好地道极短,只走得十来步,那掌柜便推开了一扇板门,门中透出灯光。Fortunately the passage was a short one, for after they had gone only about ten steps along it, the apothecary pushed open a wooden door and a flood of light streamed out through the opening.韦小宝走进门内,见是一间十来尺见方的小室,室中却坐了五人,另有一人躺在一张矮榻之上。Trinket found himself walking into an underground chamber that was barely ten-feet square. There were already five men sitting in it and there was another man lying on a low truckle-bed along one of its sides.待得再加上三人,几乎已无转身余地,幸好那胖掌柜随即退出。By the time the three of them had entered, there was hardly enough room to turn round in. It was a good thing that the fat apothecary left almost immediately.

  高彦超道:“众位兄弟,韦香主驾到!”’Brothers,’ Gao Yanchao announced, ‘the Master has come to see us.’室中五人齐声欢呼,站起来躬身行礼,地窖太小,各人挤成一团。The five men rose to their feet with cries of welcome, bowing and pumping their hands and nearly bumping into one another as they did so because of the smallness of the room.韦小宝抱拳还礼。见其中一人是个道人,那是曾经会过的,道号玄贞,记得他曾开玩笑,叫关安基跟他妻子“十足真金”离婚,Trinket examined their faces as he returned their greeting. One of them, a Taoist, he recognized as the Father Obscurus who, on the occasion when he last saw him, had jokingly advised Big Beaver to divorce his wife.另有一个姓樊,也是见过的。Another of them he remembered on the same occasion being referred to by the other Triads as Brother Fan.韦小宝见到熟人,当即宽心。Seeing these familiar faces, he felt reassured.

  高彦超指着卧在矮榻上那人,说道:“徐大哥身受重伤,不能起来见礼。”Brother Gao pointed to the man lying on the bed. ‘Brother Xu can’t get up to welcome you,’ he said. ‘He’s too badly hurt.’

  韦小宝道:“好说,好说!”走近身去,只见榻上那人一张满是皱纹的脸上,已无半点血色,双目紧闭,呼吸微弱,白须上点点斑斑都是血渍,’No, no, of course not,’ said Trinket, and went over to have a closer look. The old man’s wrinkled face was deathly pale. His eyes were tightly closed, his breathing was faint, and his white beard was streaked and matted with blood.问道:“不知是谁打伤了徐大哥?是……是鞑子的魔爪子吗?”’Who did this to Brother Xu?’ he asked. ‘Was it… was it Tartar agents?’

  高彦超摇头道:“不是,是云南沐王府的人。”

  韦小宝一惊,道:“云南沐王府?他们……他们跟咱们是一路的,是不是?”Brother Gao shook his head. ‘No. Duke Mu’s people. From Yunnan.’ ‘Duke Mu’s people from Yunnan?’ Trinket echoed in some surprise. ‘I thought they were on our side.’

  高彦超缓缓摇头,说道:“启禀香主大哥:徐大哥今朝支撑着回到这里回春堂药店来,断断续续的说道,下手打伤他的,是沐王府的两个年轻人,都是姓白……”Again Brother Gao shook his head, this time more slowly. ‘When Brother Xu dragged himself back to the shop this morning he could barely speak, but from what we could make out it was two young Mu followers called Bo-something-or-other who beat him up.韦小宝道:“姓白?那不是沐王府四大家将的后人吗?”They–‘ ‘Wasn’t one of Old Duke Mu’s Four Paladins called Bo?’ said Trinket, interrupting. ‘It must be the same family.’高彦超道:“多半是的。大概就是白寒松、白寒枫兄弟,叫做什么‘白氏双木”的。”’Like enough,’ said Brother Gao. ‘It was probably the Bo brothers, Pine and Maple. The Bo Family Trees they call them.’

  韦小宝喃喃道:“两根烂木头,有什么了不起啦。”’Pretty rotten wood, if you ask me,’ said Trinket.高彦超道:“听徐大哥说,他们为了争执拥唐拥桂,越说越僵,终于动起手来。’From what Brother Xu said,’ Brother Gao went on, ‘it seems that they got into an argument with him about the rightful succession. The argument got more and more heated, and they ended up by having a fight.徐大哥双拳难敌四手,身受重伤。”And as it was only one pair of hands against the two of them, he got the worst of it. That’s why he came to be hurt so badly.’韦小宝道:“两个打一个,不是英雄好汉。什么糖啊桂的,莫非……莫非……”’Two against one, ‘ said Trinket. ‘That doesn’t sound like the way men of Honour ought to fight. But what’s this about the “rightful succession”? Do you mean . . .’心想什么“拥桂”,莫非为了拥护我小桂子,但觉得不大像,缩住了不说。For a moment he wondered if it had something to do with his being appointed Master of the Lodge; but then he thought no, surely it couldn’t be that, and forebore to ask.

  高彦超道:“沐王府是桂王手下,咱们天地会是当年唐王天子手下。徐大哥定是跟他们争名份,以致言语失和。”’Duke Mu’s people are Gui supporters, but we Triads have always maintained that Prince Tang was the rightful Heir to the throne,’ said Brother Gao. That’s what they were arguing about. They couldn’t agree to differ.’韦小宝还是不懂,Trinket was still none the wiser.问道:“什么桂王手下,唐王手下?”高彦超道:“那桂王不是真命天子,咱们唐王才是真命天子。”???

  玄贞道人明白韦小宝的底细,知他肚中的料子有限,插口道:Father Obscurus, who knew something about Trinket’s background and the very limited extent of his general knowledge, ventured to intervene. “韦香主,当年李闯攻入北京,逼死了崇祯天子。吴三桂带领清兵入关,占我花花江山。各地的忠臣义士,纷纷推戴太祖皇帝的子孙为王。’It’s like this, Master. When the rebel Li Zicheng fought his way into Peking and forced the Ming Emperor Chong Zhen to hang himself on Coal Hill, and then Wu Sangui let the Tartars in through the Wall and helped them take over China, all those patriots who wanted to resist began looking around for a member of the Imperial family to be their leader.先是福王在南京做天子。The first one chosen was Prince Fu, who was raised up as Emperor in Nanking.后来福王给鞑子害了,咱们唐王在福建做天子,那是国姓爷郑家一伙人拥戴的,自然是真命天子。Then, after the Tartars killed Prince Fu, Prince Tang was proclaimed Emperor in Fujian. He was acknowledged by our Founder, Marshal Zheng, along with many others, to be the rightful heir, so of course we Triads have always considered that he was the true Emperor.哪知道另一批人在广西、云南推戴桂王做天子,又有一批人在浙江推戴鲁王做天子,那都是假的真命天子。”Unfortunately there was another group in the Guangxi-Yunnan area who recognized Prince Gui as Emperor, and yet another lot in Zhejiang who recognized Prince Lu. But we don’t consider either of them to have been the true Emperor.’

  韦小宝点头道:“天无二日,民无二主。既有唐王做了天子,桂王、鲁王就不能做天子了。”Trinket nodded and said wisely: ‘One sun to rule the sky above, One Emperor for the folk below. Once Prince Tang was made Emperor, how could Prince Gui and Prince Lu be Emperors too?’高彦超道:“是啊,韦香主说得对极!”That’s right, ‘ said Brother Gao. ‘You’re absolutely right, Master.’

  玄贞道人道:“可是广西、浙江那些人为了贪图富贵,’But those folk in Guangxi and Yunnan and Zhejiang didn’t see it that way, ‘ said Father Obscurus. They continued to support their own choice out of greed or ambition, knowing how much they would stand to lose if they didn’t.争着说道,他们拥立的才是真命天子,大家自伙里争得很厉害。”So there was a great deal of quarrelling among the different factions, often leading to very great bitterness.’叹了口气,续道:“后来唐王、鲁王、桂王,先后都遭了难。He sighed. ‘Prince Tang, Prince Lu, and Prince Gui one after another met their deaths,

  这些年来,江湖上的豪杰不忘明室,but the leaders of the Resistance didn’t want people to forget about the House of Ming,分别找了三王的后人,奉以为主,干反清复明的大业。so during these past few years they’ve sought out the heirs of these Princes among the younger generation and made them their leaders.桂王的手下拥戴桂王的子孙,鲁王的手下拥戴鲁王的子孙,那是桂派和鲁派,他们又称咱们天地会为唐派。Those who support the heirs of Prince Gui are called the “Gui faction”, those who support the heirs of Prince Lu are called the “Lu faction”, while they call us Triads the “Tang faction”.唐、桂、鲁三派,都是反清复明的。不过只有咱们天地会才是正统,桂派、鲁派却是篡位。”We all share the anti-Qing pro-Ming policy of the Resistance, but only we Triads follow the correct line on legitimacy. We consider the Princes supported by the Lu and Gui factions to be usurpers.’韦小宝点头道:“我明白了。沐王府那些人是桂派,是不是?”Trinket nodded. ‘I see. And Duke Mu’s lot are Gui supporters, is that right?’玄贞道人道:“正是。这三派人十几年来相争不休。”That’s right, ‘ said Father Obscurus. The quarrel between the three factions about legitimacy has gone on for more than twelve years now.’韦小宝想起那日在苏北道上遇到沐公府的人物,甚是傲慢无礼,那人也是姓白的,不知是不是这两根烂木头之一,Trinket remembered the arrogance and rudeness of the Duke Mu follower, also called Bo, whom he and Whiskers had met on their journey from Yangzhou and wondered if he was one of the Bo Family Trees.当时见茅十八对他怕得厉害,早就不忿,便道:The thought of Whiskers’ cringing deference to that unpleasing individual still made him feel indignant. “唐王既是真命天子,他们就不该再争。’If Prince Tang was the rightful Emperor, ‘ he said, ‘they had nothing to quarrel about.听说沐公爷是很好的,只怕他老人家归天之后,他手下那些人有点儿乱七八糟。”Everyone says the Young Duke Mu was a good man, so it can’t have been him who started the quarrel. I suppose it must have been his followers, after his death, that got the whole thing going.’地窖中众人齐声道:“韦香主的话,一点也不错。”This view was unanimously approved by those present.

  玄贞道人道:“江湖上好汉瞧在沐天波沐公爷尽忠死节的份上,遇上了沐王府的人物,都是容让三分。’Yes, ‘ said Father Obscurus. ‘It’s out of respect for Young Duke Mu’s memory–because of his loyalty and the heroic way he died–that members of the Brotherhood go out of their way to be especially polite to his followers.这样一来,沐王府中连阿猫阿狗也都狂妄自大起来。Unfortunately the only effect it has is to make all of them, down to their cats and dogs, behave as if they owned the earth.我们这位徐大哥人是再好也没有的,他从前服侍过唐王天子,当真是忠心耿耿,提到先帝时便流眼泪。This Brother Xu here is the mildest of men, but he used once to be in the service of Prince Tang. He’s always been very loyal to the Prince. Even now just the mention of Prince Tang will bring tears into his eyes.定是沐王府的人说话不三不四,言语中轻侮了先帝,否则的话,徐老哥怎能跟沐王府的人动手?”I’m quite sure that what happened is that these two fellows from Duke Mu’s household were making a lot of frivolous remarks about this and that and happened to say something derogatory about Prince Tang. It’s inconceivable that Brother Xu would have got into a fight with people from Duke Mu’s household for any other reason.’高彦超道:“徐大哥在午前清醒了一会儿,要众兄弟给他出这口气。’Just before noon, ‘ said Brother Gao, ‘when Brother Xu came to himself for a while, he said he wanted the Brothers to avenge him.在直隶境内,眼下本会只韦香主一位香主,按照本会规矩,遇上这等大事,须得禀明韦香主而行。Now according to the rules of the Society, a matter of this importance has first got to be reported to a Master, and you’re the only Master in this area, so we had to wait to see you before we could do anything.倘若是对付鞑子的魔爪子,那也罢了,杀了鞑子和鹰爪固然很好,弟兄们为本会殉难,也是份所当为。Of course, if it was just a question of dealing with Tartar agents or collaborators, it would be a different matter. Even if we ended up getting killed ourselves, we’d be dying for the cause.可是沐王府在江湖上名声很响,说来总也是自己人,But these people of Duke Mu’s are highly thought of everywhere on River and Lake, and they are, after all, supposed to be on our side.去跟他们交涉,说不定会大动干戈,后果怎样,就很难料。”韦小宝嗯了一声。Besides, if we do take them on, there’s likely to be serious fighting and the outcome would be very far from certain.’ Trinket looked more than usually thoughtful. ‘Hm.’

  高彦超又道:“徐大哥说,他一直在等候韦香主驾到,已等了好几个月,有时见到韦香主在街市采购物品,有时在茶馆里听书。”’Brother Xu says he’s been expecting a visit from you for months now,’ said Brother Gao. ‘He says he’s seen you sometimes in the street or in the market buying things, or listening to storytellers in the tea-houses.’韦小宝脸上微微一红,说道:“原来他早见到我了。”高彦超道:“徐大哥说,总舵主吩咐过的,韦香主倘若有事,自会去找他,因此徐大哥虽然见到韦香主,却不敢上前相认。”Trinket reddened. ‘So he’s already seen me?’ ‘Yes,’ said Brother Gao, ‘but he didn’t like to go up to you and introduce himself because he says the Helmsman told him that you would seek him out when you needed, and not before.’

  韦小宝点了点头,向榻上的老头瞧了一眼,心想:“原来这老狐狸暗中早就跟上了我。我在街上买了东西乱吃,胡花银子,早就落入他眼中。Trinket nodded. ‘So the old fox has been secretly trailing me,’ he thought, darting a not too kindly look at the recumbent figure on the bed. ‘He’s been taking a good look at me chucking my money around and buying stuff to eat at street stalls and all the rest of it.他妈的,日后他见了我师父,定会搬弄是非,最好是这只老狐狸伤势好不了,呜呼哀哉!”Tamardy! I bet next time Shifu comes this way he’ll make trouble for me. Let’s hope the old fox is hurt so badly that he’ll kick the bucket!’

  玄贞道人道:“咱们一商量,迫不得已,只好请韦香主到来主持大局。”’We thought the matter over carefully,’ said Father Obscurus, ‘and we came to the conclusion that there was nothing for it but to call on you, as Master, to take command of the situation.’

  韦小宝心想:“我一个小孩子,能主持什么大局?”但见这些人对自己十分恭谨,心下也不禁得意。Take command of the situation?’ thought Trinket. ‘Come on, I’m only a kid.’ All the same, he couldn’t help feeling proud that these grown men should be treating him so respectfully.他初入天地会时,除了师父之外,九位香主都比自己年长资深,此刻这些人中却以自己地位最高,轻飘飘之感登时油然而兴。Since becoming a member of the Triad Society, the only other members he had so far had anything much to do with, apart from the Helmsman himself, had been the other nine Masters, all of them middle-aged or elderly men with years of experience behind them. It gave him an intoxicating feeling of superiority to be with men amongst whom, for once, in terms of status at any rate, he was the most senior.

  一名中年的粗壮汉子气愤愤的道:A brawny, thickset fellow in his mid-thirties spoke up now, his voice shaking with indignation. “大伙儿见到沐王府的人退让三分,那是敬重沐公爷为人忠义’It’s out of respect for Duke Mu’s memory that we defer to these Mu folk,’ said the man.,为主殉难,说到所做事业的惊天动地,咱们国姓爷比之沐王爷可胜过了十倍” ‘But although the Young Duke was so loyal and died like a hero and all that, he didn’t achieve anything particularly world-shaking. In terms of achievement our Marshal Zheng was ten times more worthy of respect.’那姓樊的樊纲道:“我敬你五尺,你就该当敬我一丈。怎地我们客气,他们反当是运气?’In any case,’ said Brother Fan, ‘when you show respect to people they ought by rights to show twice as much respect in return; but when you show respect to these Mu fellows, they behave as if it was their natural right.这件事若不分说清楚,以后天地会给沐王府压得头也抬不起来,大伙儿还混个什么?”If we don’t sort this out properly now, they’ll be getting so uppity that we Triads won’t be able to hold our heads up in front of them. I personally don’t see what we’re waiting for.’

  众人你一言,我一语,都十分气恼。玄真道人道:“这件事如何办理,大伙儿都听韦香主的指示。Several contributions followed from the others present, all in the same angry vein. ‘How we are to deal with this matter is for the Master to decide,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘Whatever we do, we must follow his decision.’

  要韦小宝想法子去偷鸡摸狗,混蒙拐骗,他还能拿些主意,现下面临这种大事,要他拿个主意出来,当真是要他的好看,Now if Trinket had been asked for advice about carrying out some small-scale operation like stealing a chicken or cheating someone at cards, he might have known what to say, but faced with an important matter like this he was totally at a loss;摆明了叫他当场出乖露丑。in fact, by asking him for a decision, they were simply inviting him to make a fool of himself–to demonstrate just how hopelessly inadequate he was for the job.可是他不折不扣,确是陈近南的弟子,天地会十大香主之一,直隶全省之中,天地会众兄弟以他为首,这姓徐的老头和别的几人,又都是他青木堂的嫡系下属,Yet he was the Helmsman’s apprentice, he was one of the Triad Society’s Ten Masters, he was head of all the Society’s members in the Metropolitan Area, and this old fellow Xu and all the others present were his subordinates, for whose fate he was personally responsible.眼见人人的目光都注视在他脸上,不由得大是发窘,心中直骂:“辣块妈妈,这……这如何是好?”When he saw the eyes of all those present focused on him expectantly, an intense feeling of helplessness came over him and he began cursing inwardly. ‘Hot-piece momma! What the hell am I going to do?’

  他心中发窘,一个个人瞧将过去,盼望寻一点线索,In his desperation he began looking from one to another of their faces in search of inspiration.可以想个好主意,看到那粗壮汉子时,忽见他嘴角边微有笑容,眼光中流露出狡猾的神色。As his glance fell on the thickset fellow who had spoken a few moments previously, he was struck by the man’s expression. A faint smile seemed to curve the corners of his mouth and there was a gleam of sly satisfaction in his eyes.此人刚才还在大叫大嚷,满腔子都是怒火,怎地突然间高兴起来?Why should he be looking so pleased, thought Trinket, when only a few moments ago he had been shouting angrily, apparently overcome with passion?一凝神间,猛地想起:“啊哟,辣块妈妈,这批王八蛋不怀好意,要我来掮烂木梢。他们想去跟沐王府的人打架,却生怕我师父将来责怪,于是找了我来,要我出头。”It dawned on him why after a moment or two of reflection. ‘Hot-piece momma! These bastards are setting me up! They want to go and sort out the Mu gang, but they’re shit scared that if Shifu finds out he won’t like it, so they want me to carry the can.’他越想越对,寻思:“我只是个十来岁的小孩子,虽说是香主,难道还真会有胜过他们的主意?The more he thought about it the more convinced he became that this was the case. ‘I’m only a kid,’ he thought. ‘Although I’m Master, how could I possibly be better at planning things than they are?他们是要拿我来作挡箭牌,日后没事,那就罢了,有什么不妥,都往我头上一推,They just want me for a fall guy. If they carry this off, well and good. But if things go wrong, they’ll just put the blame on to me.说道:‘青木堂韦香主率领大伙儿干的。香主有令,咱们不敢不从。’”This was Lodge Master Wei’s idea. He gives the orders. We were only doing what we were told.”哼,他们本就要鸡蛋里找骨头,废了我这香主,我领头去跟沐王府的人打架,不论是输是赢,总之是大大的一块骨头。好啊,辣块妈妈,老子可不上这个当。”Oh yes. They’ve all along been looking for bones in the egg, so that they can have an excuse to get rid of me, and if I take responsibility for getting them into a fight with the Mu lot, that’ll count as a whopping great bone against me, whatever happens. Hot-piece momma! I’m not falling for that one!’他假装低头沉思,过了一会,说道:“众位兄长,小弟虽然当了香主,只不过碰巧杀了鳌拜,He bowed his head and pretended to be deep in thought. After what seemed an appropriate pause, he said: ‘Look here, Brothers, I may be Master of this Lodge, but it’s only because I killed Oboi by a lucky accident.本事是一点也没有的,计策更加没有。我看还是请玄贞道长出个主意,一定比我高明得多。”I’ve got no real qualifications. I’m certainly not good in the planning department. I’m sure if Father Obscurus were to make a suggestion it would be very much better than anything I could say.’他这一招叫作“顺水推舟”,将一根烂木梢向玄贞道人肩头推去。This is what old hands call ‘pushing the boat with the stream’. In plain language, Trinket was simply passing on the can for Father Obscurus to carry.

  玄贞道人笑了一笑,向樊纲道:“樊三哥的脑筋可比我行得多,你瞧怎么办?”Father Obscurus laughed and turned towards Brother Fan. ‘You’ve got a better head for these things than I have, Brother Fan. What do you think we ought to do?’

  樊纲是个直性汉子,说道:“我看也没第二条路好走,咱们就找到姓白的家里,他们要是向徐大哥磕头赔罪,那就万事全休。Brother Fan was a straightforward, no-nonsense sort of fellow. ‘It seems to me obvious what we ought to do,’ he said. ‘We find out where these Bos are staying, then we go round there and tell them that if they are prepared to kowtow to Brother Xu and offer him a formal apology, we are prepared to let the matter drop.否则的话,哼哼,说不得,只好先礼后兵。”If not–well, too bad. We shall have tried peaceful means, so we’ll have to see what a bit of force can do.’人人心中想的,其实都是这一句话,只是沐王府在江湖上威名甚盛,又是反清复明的同道,谁也不愿首先将这句话说出口来。This was precisely the view that the others all secretly shared but had so far refrained from expressing, partly because of the great prestige the Mu Family enjoyed on River and Lake, and partly because the Family shared the Triads’ own commitment to the cause of anti-Manchu Resistance.樊纲这么一说,几个人都附和道:“对,对!樊三哥的话对极!能够不动武自然最好,否则咱们天地会可也不是好欺的,给人家打成这副样子,难道便罢了不成?”Now the idea had been given voice to, all but two of them chimed in eagerly with their support. ‘Yes, yes, Brother Fan is absolutely right. If we can avoid fighting, so much the better; but people mustn’t be allowed to think they can mess around with us as they like. When one of us is beaten up like this, we can’t just stand by and do nothing.’韦小宝向玄贞和另一个汉子道:“你二位以为怎样?”Trinket turned to Father Obscurus and the other man who had not yet spoken. ‘What do you two think?’那汉子道:“这叫作逼上梁山,没有法子,咱们确是给赶得绝了” ‘They’ve forced our hand,’ said the other man. ‘Nothing else for it. We can’t help ourselves.’

  玄贞却微笑着点了点头,不置可否。韦小宝心想:“你不说话,将来想赖,我偏偏叫你赖不成。”Father Obscurus merely smiled and nodded. He wasn’t going to be drawn. Trinket knew he was refusing to say anything so that later on he would be able to deny responsibility for what happened. He decided that he was not going to let this slippery Taoist get away with it.

  问道:“玄贞道长,你以为樊三哥的主意不大妥当,是不是?”’What about you, Father Obscurus?’ he asked. ‘You don’t think what Brother Fan suggests is quite such a good idea, do you?’玄贞道:“也不是不妥当,不过大家须得十分郑重,倘若跟沐王府的人动手,’I wouldn’t say that,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘But this is a pretty serious business. If we are going to try consequences with the Mu people, there are two things we must make sure of.第一是败不得,第二是杀不得人。One is, we must make sure that we win. The other one is, we mustn’t kill anybody.倘若打死了人,那可是一件大事。”If we kill anyone, this will become a very serious business indeed.’樊纲道:“话是这么说,但如徐大哥伤重不治,却又怎样?”玄贞又点了点头。That’s all very well,’ said Brother Fan, ‘but suppose Brother Xu doesn’t recover?’ Father Obscurus nodded his head.韦小宝道:“请大家商量个法子出来。各位哥哥见识多,吃过的盐比我吃过的米还多,走过的桥比我走过的路还多,想的主意也一定比我好得多。”’Well, it’s up to you all to decide exactly what it is you want to do,’ said Trinket. ‘You’ve all had lots of experience. You’ve probably eaten more salt in your lives than I’ve eaten boiled rice and crossed more bridges than I’ve done miles of walking, so I’m sure any suggestions you make are going to be much better than anything I could come up with.’玄贞向他瞧了一眼,淡淡的道:“韦香主很了不起哪!”韦小宝笑道:“道长你也了不起。”Father Obscurus gave Trinket a somewhat old-fashioned look. ‘There are no flies on you, Master,’ he said drily. ‘There are no flies on you, Father Obscurus, ‘ said Trinket, grinning back at him.

  众人商量了一会,还是依照樊纲的法子,请韦小宝率同众人,去向沐王府的人兴问罪之师,After some discussion, it was decided to adopt what was essentially the strategy suggested by Brother Fan: that is to say, there was to be a punitive expedition against the Mu people under Trinket’s leadership;各人身上暗带兵刃,但须尽量忍让,要占住地步,arms would be concealed about their persons, but their attitude, to start with, would be peaceable; and every effort would be made not to put themselves in the wrong.最好是沐王府的人先动了手打了人,这才还手。Ideally it would be the Mu people who would be seen as having begun hostilities: then, by retaliating, they would simply be acting in self-defence.玄贞道:“咱们不妨再约北京城里几位成名的武师一同前去,请他们作个见证,免得传了开来,说咱们天地会上门欺人。’It would be a good idea to invite one or two well-known Peking Martial Arts specialists to go with us as witnesses,’ said Father Obscurus, ‘just to make sure the story doesn’t get about that we Triads went around to the Mu place deliberately looking for trouble.日后是非不明,只怕总舵主见罪。”We don’t want some garbled account of what happened reaching the ears of the Helmsman and putting us all in the wrong.’

  韦小宝喜道:“好极,要请有本事的,越多越好。”’Good idea,’ said Trinket. ‘But why just one or two? The more the merrier.’在苏北道上的饭店之中,沐王府那姓白的一根根筷子掷出去,只打得吴三桂手下一个个摔倒在地,这情景此刻犹似便在眼前。Trinket retained a vivid impression of the young man called Bo disabling several of Satrap Wu’s men in the inn merely by flicking chopsticks at them.

  他们要是再搞什么铜角渡江、火箭射象的玩意儿,If these people were so lethal with chopsticks, what couldn’t they do with an Elephant Brigade like the one in the early history of the Mus he had himself, with a few trimmings of his own, narrated to Whiskers on that same occasion?就算北京城里摆不出大象阵,单是摆上个把老鼠阵,青木堂韦香主吃不了就得兜着走,Perhaps Peking was not a suitable terrain for the deployment of elephants, but even an army of mice, he thought, would be more than a match for the Master of the Green Wood Lodge.本想推托不去,又有点说不出口。听玄贞道人说要约同北京城里著名武师前去,正中下怀。He had been on the point of excusing himself from leading this expedition; but when Father Obscurus suggested inviting some leading Peking specialists in the Martial Arts to go along with them, he changed his mind.玄贞微微一笑,说道:“咱们只约有声望名气的。倒不是请他们去助拳,武功好不好却在其次。”Father Obscurus guessed what he was thinking and smiled. ‘One or two men of known reputation is what we are looking for,’ he said. ‘They will be there as witnesses, not to do any fighting. Whether they are good fighters or not is of secondary importance.’高彦超道:“名气大的。武功多半就高。”他是在帮着韦小宝说话。’If they’re of known reputation, they’re probably good at fighting anyway,’ said Gao Yanchao in support of Trinket, whose view he shared.玄贞点了点头。樊纲道:“咱们去请哪几位武师?”’Well, who shall we ask?’ said Brother Fan.当下众人商议请谁同去,邀请的人要在武林中颇有名望,与官面上并无来往,而与天地会多少有些交情。After some discussion it was decided that the specialists they invited must meet three requirements: they must have a high standing in the profession; they must have had no dealings whatever with officialdom; and they must have had some sort of friendly contact in the past with a member or members of the Triad Society.

  商议定当后,正要分头去请人,那徐老头忽然呻吟道:“不……不……不……不能请外人。”They had finished their discussion and were about to go their separate ways to interview the persons it had been decided to invite when there was a faint murmuring sound from Brother Xu on the bed. ‘You . . . you . . . you can’t invite anyone … to go … with you.’樊纲问道:“徐大哥,你说不能请外人?”徐老头道:“韦香主。他……他在宫里当差,这……这件事可不能泄漏出去,那……那是性命交关……交关的大事。”’What did you say, Brother Xu?’ asked Brother Fan. ‘Did you say we can’t invite anyone to go with us?’ The Master,’ quavered old Xu, ‘he … he works in the Palace. It’s very im . . . important there shouldn’t be … a leak.’

  众人一听。都觉有理,韦小宝在宫中做太监,自然是奉了总舵主之命。They all understood what he meant and knew that he was right. Trinket was working in the Palace as a eunuch on the Helmsman’s orders.暗中必有重大图谋,一有外人知道,难保不走漏风声。Whatever plan underlay this arrangement, it was obviously of vital importance that his identity should remain unknown. Once outsiders were brought in, there was always the risk of a leak.樊纲道:“韦香主倒也不必亲自出马。咱们去跟那两个姓白的理论,结果怎样,回来禀报韦香主知道便是。”’Of course, the Master doesn’t have to come with us,’ said Brother Fan. ‘As long as we report back to him when we know the outcome, we can sort out these Bo characters by ourselves.’韦小宝本来对沐王府颇为忌惮,但既邀武林中一批大有名望之人同去,那就笃定泰山,有胜无败,Trinket had started off being rather scared of the Mu mob, but when it was proposed to invite some of the city’s leading Martial Arts experts to go with them, he decided that victory was a hundred per cent certain.这好比用灌铅骰子跟羊牯赌钱,怎可置身局外?说道:“我如不去,那就不好玩了。我的姓名身份,你们别跟外人说就是。”It would be like playing against donkeys with loaded dice. He couldn’t bear to miss it. ‘Oh, but if I don’t go I’ll miss all the fun,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to tell anyone who I am or what I do.’

  玄贞道人道:“倘若韦香主乔装改扮了,那就没人知道他在宫里办事……”’I suppose the Master could go in disguise,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘No one would know then that he worked in the Palace.’

  韦小宝没听他说完,当时即拍手叫好,连称:“妙极,妙极!”’Yes, yes!’ Trinket was clapping his hands delightedly almost before Father Obscurus had finished speaking.

  这主意正投其所好,上门生事,本已是十分有趣,改装之后去生事,更是妙上加妙。Visiting a strange house with a view to creating a disturbance was Trinket’s idea of fun. But to be able to dress up as well–that was really something!

  众人本来都觉若非韦香主率领,各人担的干系太大,见他如此热心。争着要去,自无异议。The others had been thinking that to go without Trinket as their leader would be taking too much responsibility on themselves, so when they saw him so determined to go, they felt little inclined to dissuade him.徐老头道:“大伙儿……大伙儿千万要小心。韦香主扮……扮作什么人?”众人望着韦小宝,听他示下。But old Xu still seemed dubious. Tor God’s sake all of you … be careful. What will you … be disguised . . . as?’ The others all looked at Trinket to hear what he would say.

  韦小宝心想:“我扮个富家公子呢,还是扮个小叫化?”Either a rich boy or a little beggar-boy, he thought. It would have to be one or the other.他在妓院之中,见到来嫖院的王孙公子衣饰华贵,向来甚是羡慕。一直没机会穿着。When he was a lad in the brothel he had often admired the flashy outfits of the rich young toffs who came to visit the girls, but had never had a chance to wear anything like that himself.微一沉吟,从怀中摸出三张五百两银子的银票来,道:“这里是一千五百两银子,相烦哪一位大哥去给我买些衣衫。”It didn’t take him long to decide. ‘Here’s fifteen hundred taels, ‘ he said, fishing three banknotes out of his inside pocket. ‘Will one of you Brothers take this and buy some clothes for me?’

  众人都是微微一惊。几个人齐声道:“哪得着这许多银子?”A little shock of surprise ran through the men. ‘But you don’t need all that much,’ several of them cried out simultaneously.韦小宝道:“我银子有的是,衣衫买得越贵越好,再买些珠宝戴了起来,谁也不知我是宫里的小……小太监了。”’I’ve got plenty of money, ‘ said Trinket. The more expensive the clothes are the better. You can buy a bit of jewellery for me as well. If I dress like a young swell, no one’s going to guess that I’m a … a eunuch.'(The word still stuck in his throat.)玄贞道人道:“韦香主说得是。高兄弟,你去买韦香主的衣衫。”韦小宝又取出一千两银子的银票,道:“多花些钱好了,不打紧。”The Master’s right,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘Brother Gao, why don’t you buy the Master’s disguise for him?’ Trinket took out another banknote, this time for a thousand taels. ‘Spend a bit more if you like. It doesn’t matter.’旁人见这小小孩童身边银票极多,都暗暗称异,说什么也料想不到他屋里的银子竟有四十几万两之多。The men all secretly marvelled that a mere boy should have so much money on him. Little could they have guessed that he had another four hundred thousand taels’ worth or more of banknotes stashed away in his room.按照韦小宝本来脾气。身边便有二三两银子,也要花光了才舒服,Trinket was a natural spender, one who, even if he had only one or two coppers on him, would not feel happy until he had spent them.可是四十几万两银子如何花用得掉?How he was ever going to get through so vast a sum as four hundred thousand taels was a question that had frequently worried him.能够买些华贵衣服来穿戴穿戴,出出风头,当真机会难得,心里快活之极,见众人目瞪口呆,便又伸手入怀。The opportunity that now presented itself of spending lavishly on an expensive outfit to show off in was not to be missed and he seized on it delightedly.

  他手伸出来时,掌中已有三千五百两银子的银票,交给玄贞道人。’Here,’ he said to the goggling men, thrusting his hand once more into the bosom of his gown and pulling out a fistful of banknotes, this time to the value of three thousand five hundred taels. He held them out for Father Obscurus to take.道:“兄弟跟各位大哥今日初见。没什么孝敬。这些银子,是鞑子那里拿来的,都是不义……不义的银(他本想说“不义之财”,这句成语却忘记了),’You’re all my elders and I’m meeting most of you for the first time. This money is all I’ve got to offer by way of a First Meeting present. It comes from the Tartars’ ill-gotten . . . thingummy.’ (He couldn’t remember the word.)请大伙儿帮着花用花用。”’I’d be glad if you’d help me spend it.’天地会规矩严明,不得胡乱取人财物,樊纲、高彦超等早已穷得久了,Strictly forbidden by their rules to enrich themselves by theft or extortion or other unlawful means, Triads like Gao and Fan were habitually short of money.突见韦香主取出这许多银票,又言明是取自鞑子的不义之财,他既在清宫中当差,此言自然不假,Seeing so much of it now on offer and being assured that it was money taken from the Tartars, who had no right to it (there was no reason to disbelieve this, since Trinket worked in the Palace),各人情不自禁的都欢呼起来。they could scarce restrain a cheer.

  玄贞道:“咱们要分头请人,今日是来不及了。韦香主,明日大伙儿在这里恭候大驾,不知你什么时刻能到?”’We’ve got to split up now and invite the people we want as our witnesses,’ said Father Obscurus. There won’t be time for anything else today. So can we look forward to seeing you again tomorrow, Master? What time will you be able to come?’韦小宝道:“上午我要当差,午后准到。”玄贞道:“很好。明日午后,咱们在这里会齐,然后同去跟那两个姓白的算帐。”’I’m on duty in the mornings,’ said Trinket, ‘but I can definitely come any time in the afternoon.’ ‘Very well then, some time after midday,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘We’ll all meet here first and then we’ll go along to sort out those Bo characters.’

  当晚韦小宝便心痒难搔,在屋里跳上跳下,指手划脚。That night Trinket could hardly sleep for excitement. He was hopping and jumping about in his room all the evening or strutting and swaggering in imitation of the young toff he planned to impersonate on the morrow.次日从上书房下来,便匆匆去珠宝店买了一只大翡翠戒指,He hurried off next day, as soon as his duties in the Upper Library were over, to a jeweller’s shop in the city where he bought a large jadeite ring.又叫店中师傅在一顶缎帽上钉上一大块白玉,四颗浑圆明珠,这一来便花了四千多两银子。He also bought a large piece of white jade and four round pearls which he got the jeweller’s assistant to inset for him, while he waited, in the headband of a black satin cap. In this way he was able to dispose of rather more than four thousand taels.珠宝店中见这位贵客是宫中太监,丝毫不以为奇,既是内宫来采购珠宝,花钱再多十倍也是常事。The jeweller was not in the least surprised to see his young customer spend so much money. It was not unusual for eunuchs making purchases on behalf of inmates of the Inner Palace to spend ten times as much in a single visit.

  韦小宝赶到回春堂药店,众人已在地窖中等候,Hurrying on to his appointment in the apothecary’s, Trinket found the Triads of the previous day’s meeting already waiting for him.说道已请了北京四位知名武师,同去作见证,每人已送了二百两银子谢礼。They told him that they had arranged for four well-known Peking Martial Arts professionals to accompany them as witnesses and that they had paid them two hundred taels in advance for their services. ‘韦小宝心道:“得人钱财,与人消灾,这四位武师非帮我们不可。A well-paid hand is a helping hand, ‘ thought Trinket, ‘and we want to make sure that these pros are going to help us.只是二百两银子谢礼太少,最好送五百两。Pity they only gave them two hundred each. Five hundred would have been more like it.四位武师太少,最好请十六位。”And they ought to have invited sixteen of them, not just four.’ But he didn’t say anything.高彦超取出衣服鞋袜来给韦小宝换了,每件衣物都十分华贵,Brother Gao now brought out the gear he had purchased for him to change into. It was as expensive-looking as he could have wished.外面一件长袍是火狐皮的里子,在领口和衣袖外翻出油光滑亮的毛皮。高彦超道:“皮袍是叫他们连夜改小的,多给了三两六钱银子的工钱。”There was a long gown with a lining of sleekest red fox doubled over at the neck and cuffs. He had had it altered overnight to fit a person of Trinket’s size, he said, at an additional cost of three taels and six pennyweights of silver–韦小宝连说:“不贵,不贵。”一件天青缎子的马褂,十粒扣子都是黄金打的。饶是如此,他给的银子还是一半也用不了。That’s not much, ‘ said Trinket–and there was a loose outer jacket of rust-tinged black satin to go over it. The ten buttons on the jacket were of real gold. Even so, he had succeeded in spending only half the money that Trinket had given him.

  韦小宝在宫中住了将近一年,居移气,养移体,食用既好,见识又多,Nurture is a great transformer, they say, and the year–it was nearly a year now–that Trinket had spent in the Palace had not only nourished his skinny frame but broadened his mental horizon as well.这半年来做了尚膳监的首脑,百余名太监给他差来差去,做首领早做得惯了。Moreover, since becoming head of the Imperial Catering Department six months previously with a staff of a hundred or more eunuchs at his beck and call, he had grown used to commanding others.这时周身再一打扮,虽然颇有些暴发户的俗气,却也显得款式非凡,派头十足,与樊纲、高彦超等草莽豪杰大不相同。It is perhaps not surprising then that, when dressed up in his new finery, he should, in spite of his diminutive size and the flashiness of the clothes, have cut a stylish, even quite impressive figure, setting him in a class apart from the homespun heroes who accompanied him.

  众人已安排了一乘轿子,等在门外,请韦小宝上轿,以防他改装之后在城里行走,撞见宫中太监或朝廷官员。They had hired a closed chair for his conveyance so that there would be no risk of his being seen on the street while in his disguise and recognized by a eunuch or by some official from the Palace. It was now waiting at the door for him and they invited him to get in.一行人先到东城武胜镖局,和四位武师会齐。The little procession, led by the chair and its two bearers, made its way to the Victory Security Agency in the East City where the four Martial Arts professionals were already waiting for them.那四位武师第一位是北京潭腿门掌门人老武师马博仁,那是清真教门的;The first of these was a grizzled old warrior called Ma Boren who was Warden of the Watergate district and a member of the Golden Lotus sect.第二位跌打名医姚春,徐老头受了伤,便由他医治,此人既是名医,擒拿短打也是一绝;The second, Yao Chun, was one of the foremost exponents of the Close Combat branch of Catch-Can. He was also well-known as an expert wound-doctor and bone-setter, in which capacity he had already been called in by the Triads to treat Brother Xu.第三位是外号“虎面霸王”的雷一啸,铁布衫功夫大大有名;The third, Lei Yixiao, was known in the profession as Tiger Face. The Martial Art he professed went by the name of Iron Shirt from the alleged invulnerability to sharp-edged weapons it bestowed on its practitioners.第四位便是武胜镖局的总镖头金枪王武通。The fourth was the manager of the Agency himself, Wang Wutong or Gold Spear.

  马博仁等四人早已得知天地会领头的韦香主年纪甚轻,一见之下,竟是这样一个豪富少年,都是十分诧异,These four professionals had been told in advance that the Triads’ Master of the Green Wood Lodge was very young, but nothing had prepared them for the sight that now presented itself to their astonished eyes.但各人久仰陈近南的大名,心想天地会总舵主的弟子,年纪虽小,也必有惊人艺业,都不敢小觑了他。They treated their young visitor respectfully however, reflecting that if this preposterous little swell was a disciple of the great Helmsman–whose name they revered though they had never met him–he must presumably, in spite of his extreme youth, be endowed with remarkable proficiency in one or other of the arts of self-defence.众人在镖局中喝了茶,便同去杨柳胡同那姓白的二人驻足之处。After taking tea together, the company set off for Willow Lane, where the two Bo brothers, the Family Trees, had their temporary residence in the Capital.韦小宝和马博仁、姚春三人坐轿,雷一啸与王武通骑马,余人步行相陪。Trinket, Ma Boren, and Yao Chun went in sedan chairs, Lei Yixiao and Wang Wutong on horseback; the rest followed on foot.玄贞道人、樊纲等都是成名人物,王武通要相借坐骑,但玄贞怕惹人注目,坚决不要。Wang Wutong had wanted Father Obscurus and Brother Fan, who both had some standing in the profession, to ride as well, and would have lent them horses; but Father Obscurus insisted that four people on horseback would make their party too conspicuous and resolutely declined the offer.

  一行人来到杨柳胡同一座朱漆大门的宅第之外,高彦超正要上前打门,忽听得门内传出隐隐哭声。They had finally halted outside the red-lacquered portal of the house in Willow Lane and Brother Gao already had his hand on the knocker when suddenly a faint sound of weeping was heard from inside the house.众人一怔,只见大门外挂着两盏白色灯笼,却是家有丧事。They listened in surprise and, as they did so, the significance of the two large white lanterns hanging one on each side of the entrance, which they had previously ignored, now dawned on them. This was a house of mourning.高彦超轻叩门环,过了一会,大门打开,出来一名老管家。Brother Gao again lifted the knocker and knocked, very restrainedly, on the door. After a minute or so the door opened and an elderly steward came out.高彦超呈上备就的五张名帖,说道:“武胜镖局、潭腿门、天地会的几位朋友,前来拜会白大侠、白二侠。”Brother Gao handed him five large visiting-cards. ‘Some friends from the Victory Security Agency, the Watergate district, and the Triad Society, ‘ he said, ‘come to see the two Mr Bos, ‘

  那老管家听得“天地会”三字,双眉一竖,满脸怒容,向众人瞪了一眼,接过拜帖,一言不发的便走了进去。At the mention of the Triad Society the steward’s eyebrows shot up angrily. He glared at the little party, took the cards in silence, and disappeared into the house.

  马博仁年纪虽老,火气却是极大,登时忍不住生气,Old Ma Boren’s fiery temper, which age had done nothing to sweeten, was instantly provoked by the steward’s rudeness.道:“这奴才好生无礼。”’insolent lackey!’ he growled.

  韦小宝道:“马老爷子的话一点不错。””I totally agree with you, Mr Ma, ‘ said Trinket.他对沐王府的人毕竟甚是忌惮,只盼马博仁、王武通等人站定在自己这一边,待会倘若动手,便可多有几个得力的帮手。He was still much in awe of Duke Mu’s people and anxious to have old Ma and the other professionals on his side, so that if there was any fighting he could rely on them to do more than just stand by.

  隔了好一会,一名二十六七岁的汉子走了出来,身材甚高,披麻带孝,满身丧服,After a considerable wait a young man in his late twenties came to the door, a tall young man dressed in white mourning garments.双眼红肿,兀自泪痕未干,抱拳说道:“韦香主、马老爷子、王总镖头,众位大驾光临,有失远迎。在下白寒枫有礼。”His eyes were red and swollen and his cheeks still wet from recent weeping. He clasped his hands in greeting. ‘Mr Wei, Mr Ma, Mr Wang. Forgive me for not receiving you more formally, but 1 wasn’t expecting your visit. Bo Hanfeng at your service.’众人抱拳还礼。白寒枫让众人进厅。马博仁最是性急,问道:“白二侠身上有服,不知府上是哪一位过世了?”When the others had clasped their hands and returned his greeting, he conducted them towards the reception hall inside. ‘I see you are in mourning,’ Ma Boren said, brushing aside the preliminary courtesies. ‘Might we ask which member of your family you have lost?’白寒枫道:“是家兄寒松不幸亡故。”马博仁跌足道:“可惜,可惜!’My elder brother,’ said Young Bo. Old Ma stamped his foot sympathetically. ‘What a loss!白氏双木乃沐王府的英雄虎将,武林中大大有名,白大侠正当英年,不知是得了什么疾病?”The Bo Family Trees are famous everywhere as the star officers of the late Duke Mu’s establishment. But he was a young man still, in his prime. What did he die of?’

  众人刚到厅中,还未坐定,白寒枫听了此言,陡地转过身来,双眼中如欲射出火光,They had only just entered the room and not even had time to sit down. Young Bo, who had been leading them, swung round abruptly when he heard this question, his eyes blazing with anger.厉声道:“马老爷子,在下敬你是武林前辈,以礼相待。你这般明知故问,是讥嘲于我吗?”’Now look here, Mr Ma,’ he said fiercely, ‘I’ve received you courteously because you’re an old man and well known in your profession. I see no reason why you should mock me by asking me a question when you perfectly well know the answer.’

  他陡然发怒,韦小宝出其不意,不由得吃了一惊,退了一步。Startled by this sudden explosion of anger, Trinket involuntarily stepped back a pace;

  马博仁摸着白须,说道:“这可希奇了!老夫不知,这才相问,什么叫做明知故问?but old Ma merely fondled his white beard. ‘This is very strange,’ he said. ‘It was because I didn’t know that I asked the question. I don’t know what you mean, asking a question when I know the answer.白二侠死了兄长,就算心中悲痛,也不能向我老头子发脾气啊!”白寒枫哼的一声,道:“请坐!”I quite understand that you’re upset because you’ve lost your brother, but that’s no excuse for taking it out on an old man.’ Young Bo snorted. ‘Well, won’t you sit down?’

  马博仁喃喃自语:“坐就坐罢!难道还怕了不成!”向韦小宝道:“韦香主,你请上座。”’Maybe I will,’ old Ma muttered to himself, ‘but you needn’t think I’m scared of a young puppy like you. Mr Wei,’ he said, turning to Trinket, ‘you ought to sit in this chair.’韦小宝道:“不,还是马老爷子上座!”’No, no,’ said Trinket. ‘You’re the senior one here, Mr Ma.’

  白寒枫看了拜贴,知道来客之中有天地会的青木堂香主韦香主,万料不到这少年便是韦香主,From having seen the visiting-cards, Young Bo knew that one of his visitors was a Mr Wei who was Master of the Green Wood Lodge of the Triad Society, but it had not for a moment entered his head that this young boy was the one.心下又奇又怒,一伸手,便抓住韦小宝的左腕,喝道:“你便是天地会的韦香主?”Surprised and angry, he shot out his hand and grasped Trinket by the left wrist. ‘So you are the Master from the Triad Society?’这一抓之力劲道奇大,韦小宝奇痛彻骨,“啊”的一声,大叫了出来,两道眼泪自然而然流下腮来。This was no ordinary grasp but a vice-like grip which sent a thrill of anguish through Trinket’s very bones. He let out a loud ‘Ow!’. At the same time, two fat tears coursed down his cheeks.

  玄贞道人道:“上门是客,白二侠太也欺人!”伸指便往白寒枫胁下点去。’This is no way to treat a guest, ‘ said Father Obscurus and made a jab with his fingers towards Young Bo’s ribs which would have immobilized him if it had struck home;

  白寒枫左手一挡,放开韦小宝手腕,退开一步,说道:“得罪了。”but Young Bo parried with his left hand, simultaneously releasing Trinket’s wrist and stepping back a pace. ‘I’m sorry, ‘ he said,

  韦小宝愁眉苦脸,伸袖擦干了眼泪。but Trinket, still grimacing with the pain, was wiping the tears away on his sleeve and made no reply.白寒枫固是大出意料之外,马博仁、王武通,以及天地会中众人也都惊诧不置,眼见白寒枫这一抓虽然手法凌厉,却也不是无可挡避。The four professionals and the Triads looked at him in amazement. Young Bo’s grab at his wrist had been sudden and unexpected, but anyone skilled in the Martial Arts could have parried it quite easily.这韦香主身为陈近南的弟子,不但闪避不了,大叫之余兼且流泪,实是武林中的一大奇事。Yet this Lodge Master Wei, this apprentice of the great Helmsman, had not only failed to parry it, but had cried out in pain; and not only that, but had shed tears as well. Among professional fighting men such a thing was unheard of.玄贞、樊纲、高彦超等人都面红过耳,甚感羞惭。Father Obscurus and the other Triads blushed to the tips of their ears and felt utterly humiliated.

  白寒枫道:“对不住了!家兄不幸为天地会下毒手害死,在下心中悲痛……”’I’m sorry, ‘ Young Bo repeated, ‘but it was the Triads who foully murdered my brother and in my grief–‘

  他话未说完,众人纷道:“什么?”“什么白大侠为天地会害死了?”“哪有此事?”“决无此事。”’What?’ ‘Murdered? By the Triads?”No, no, impossible!’ That can’t be right.’ Whatever Young Bo had been going to say was drowned in their cries of protest.

  白寒枫霍地站起,大声道:“你们说决无此事,难道我哥哥没有死吗?你们来,大家亲眼来瞧瞧。”一伸手,又向韦小宝左臂抓去。His voice now rose to a shout: ‘You say it’s impossible. Are you going to tell me my brother isn’t dead? Come inside, then. Come and see with your own eyes.’ He made another grab at Trinket’s left wrist,

  这一次玄贞道人和樊纲都有了预备,白寒枫右臂甫动,二人一袭前胸,一袭后背,同时出手。but this time Father Obscurus and Brorner Fan were ready for him. As soon as he stretched his right arm out they were aiming at him with their stabbing fingers, one at his chest, the other at his back.白寒枫当即斜身拗步,双掌左右打出。玄贞左掌一抬,右掌又击了出去,樊纲却已和白寒枫交了一掌。白寒枫变招反点玄贞咽喉,玄贞侧身闪开。Young Bo twisted, side-stepped, and lashed out with both hands to left and right. One of his hands met Brother Fan’s half way. He changed his position and went for Father Obscurus’s throat.

  白寒枫厉声喝道:“我大哥已死在你们手里,我也不想活了。天地会的狗畜牲,一起上来便是。”’You killed my brother,’ he shouted. ‘I don’t want to live any more. Come on, you Triad swine, I’ll take on the lot of you!’跌打名医姚春双手一拦,说道:“且慢动手,这中间恐有误会。白二侠口口声声说道,白大侠为天地会害死,到底实情如何,且请说个明白。”The bone-setter Yao Chun flung out his arms and stepped forward to separate them. ‘Not so fast!’ he said. ‘I think there’s some mistake here. You say the Triads murdered your brother; those were your words. I think you owe it to us to explain exactly what happened.’

  白寒枫道:“你们来!”大踏步向内堂走去。’All right, come inside,’ said Young Bo and strode off towards the inner hall of the house, which was separated from the reception room by a courtyard.众人心想己方人多,也不怕他有何阴谋诡计,都跟了进去。The others, judging their number sufficient to be proof against a trap, followed him into the courtyard.

  刚到天井之中,众人便都站定了,只见后厅是个灵堂,灵幔之后是口棺材,死人躺在棺材之上,露出半个头、一双脚。As they entered the inner hall they saw that it had been turned into a funeral chamber. Behind the white funeral hangings was a coffin on top of which, under a coverlet which left only the feet and the upper half of the head exposed, lay the body of a dead man.

  白寒枫掀起灵幔,大声叫道:Young Bo drew back the coverlet and addressed the corpse in a loud, wailing voice. “哥哥你死得没眼闭,兄弟好歹要杀几个天地会的狗畜牲,给你报仇。”他声音嘶哑,显是哭泣已久。’You died with your eyes open, brother, you’re not at rest. But don’t worry. I’ll kill some of these Triad swine. You’ll be revenged, I promise.’ His voice sounded cracked and hoarse. They could tell he must have been weeping a great deal before they arrived.

  韦小宝一见到死人面容,大吃一惊,那正是在苏北道上小饭店中见过的,那人以筷子击打吴三桂部属,When Trinket looked at the dead man’s face, he got a big surprise. It was the man that he and Whiskers had met in the inn on their journey from Yangzhou, the one who had shot down Satrap Wu’s soldiers by flicking chopsticks.武功高强,想不到竟会死在这里,随即想到对方少了一个厉害角色,惊奇之余,暗自宽心。Once he had got over the shock of seeing this dangerous person dead in front of him, however, he felt rather comforted by the thought that he was now one powerful enemy the less.

  马博仁、姚春、雷一啸、王武通四人走近前去。王武通和白寒松有过一面之缘,叹道:“白大侠果真逝世,可惜!”The four Martial Arts professionals approached the coffin. ‘Yes, he’s dead all right, ‘ said Wang Wutong, who had had a slight acquaintance with the elder Bo brother in the past.姚春特别仔细,伸手去搭了搭死人腕脉。Yao Chun was a careful man, however, and felt the dead man’s pulse, just in case.

  白寒枫冷笑道:“你若治得我哥哥还阳,我……我给你磕一万二千个响头。”’If you think you can cure my brother,’ said Young Bo sarcastically, ‘I’m willing to make you twelve thousand extra hard kowtows.’

  姚春叹了口气,道:“白二侠,人死不能复生,还请节哀。伤害白大侠的,果然是天地会的人?白二侠没弄错吗?”Yao Chun sighed. There’s no way to bring the dead back to life, Mr Bo. You must try to moderate your grief. But was it really the Triads who killed your brother? Are you sure you haven’t made a mistake?’白寒枫叫道:“我……我弄错?我会弄错?”众人见他哀毁逾恒,足见手足之情极笃,都不禁为他难过,’Made a mistake?’ Young Bo was shouting once more. ‘How could I have made a mistake?’ Seeing how deeply upset he was, the others realized the extent of his devotion to his dead brother and began to feel quite sorry for him.樊纲怒气也自平了,寻思:“他死了兄长,也难怪出手不知轻重。”Even Brother Fan forgot his anger, reflecting that a man who has lost his elder brother might well be unaware just how hard he was hitting you.

  白寒枫双手扠腰,在灵堂一站,大声道:“害死我哥哥的,是那平日在天桥卖药的姓徐老贼。Young Bo stood with his arms akimbo before the coffin. The man who murdered my brother was that old villain who sells plasters near the Bridge of Heaven.这老贼名叫徐天川,有个匪号叫作‘八臂猿猴’,乃是天地会青木堂中有职司的人,是也不是?你们还能不能赖?”His name is Xu Tianchuan, but he’s often called by his nickname, the Eight-Armed Ape. That man is an office-holding member of the Triad Society. You’re not going to deny that, are you? Come on now, is he or isn’t he?’

  樊纲和玄贞等几人面面相觑,他们这伙人到杨柳胡同来,本是要向白氏兄弟问罪,质问他们为什么伤人,Brother Fan, Father Obscurus, and the other Triads exchanged glances. They had come to Willow Lane to complain about the wounding of Brother Xu by the wo brothers, but now the tables were turned:不料白氏兄弟中的大哥白寒松竟已死在徐天川手底。one of the brothers was dead and Brother Xu appeared to have been the killer.樊纲叹了口气,说道:“白老二,徐天川徐大哥是我们天地会的兄弟,原是不假,不过他……他……”白寒枫厉声道:“他怎样?”樊纲道:“他已给你们打得重伤,奄奄一息,Brother Fan sighed unhappily. ‘It’s true, Mr Bo. Xu Tianchuan is a Triad. But he . . . he . . .’ ‘He what?’ said Young Bo sharply. The two of you beat him up so badly that by the time you had finished with him his life was hanging by a thread,’ said Brother Fan.也不知这会儿是死是活。不瞒你说,我们今日到来,原是要来请问你们兄弟,干么将我们徐大哥打成这等模样,哪知道……想不到……唉……”’He was half-dead when we left him just now. For all we know he may already be dead. The fact of the matter is, we came here today to ask you and your brother why you left him in such a state. We didn’t expect… we didn’t think … oh dear!’

  白寒枫怒道:“别说这姓徐的老贼没死,就算他死了,这猪狗不如的老贼,也不配抵我哥哥的命。”’Half-dead?’ said Young Bo angrily. ‘Even if he’s dead, the life of that old pig would be no compensation for the life of my poor brother.’樊纲也怒道:“你说话不干不净,像什么武林中的好汉?依你说便要怎样?”It was Brother Fan’s turn to be angry. ‘Watch your language!’ he said. ‘What kind of way is that for a professional fighting man to talk? So what sort of compensation are you looking for?’白寒枫叫道:“我……我不知道!我要将你们天地会这批狗贼,一个个都宰成肉酱。’I don’t know,’ said Young Bo brokenly. ‘I’d like to kill all of you Triad swine, every one of you, and chop you up into little bits.我陪你们一起死,大伙儿都死了干净。”And then die myself. That would wipe the slate clean.一转身,从死人身侧抽出一口钢刀,随即身子跃起,直如疯虎一般,挥刀虚劈,呼呼有声。He turned to the coffin, snatched up a sword that was lying at his dead brother’s side, and began jumping about like a madman, whirling it round so that it made swishing sounds in the air.

  天地会樊纲、玄贞等纷纷抽出所携兵刃,以备迎敌。韦小宝忙缩在高彦超身后。Father Obscurus, Brother Fan, and the other Triads took out the weapons they had been concealing and prepared to defend themselves. Trinket dodged behind Brother Gao’s back for safety.

  猛地里听得一声大吼:“不可动手!”声音震得各人耳鼓嗡嗡作响,只见“虎面霸王”雷一啸举起双手,挡在天地会众人之前,大声道:“白二侠,你要杀人,杀我好了!”这人姓得好,名字也取得好,这么几声大喝,确有雷震之威。Suddenly, as if from nowhere, there was a great roar that made their ears tingle. ‘Hold it!’ It was Tiger Face, Lei Yixiao, whose voice matched his nom de guerre. Holding up both his arms, he stood in front of the Triads and faced the enraged young man. ‘If you want to kill anyone, you can kill me first.’

  白寒枫心伤乃兄亡故,已有些神智失常,给他这么一喝,头脑略为清醒,说道:“我杀你干什么?我哥哥又不是你杀的?”Already half-crazed with grief, Young Bo seemed, during the past few moments, to have gone totally berserk. The sudden shout pulled him up short and did something to clear his brain. ‘Why should I kill you?’ he asked. ‘You didn’t kill my brother.’

  雷一啸道:“这些天地会的朋友,可也不是杀你哥哥之人。再说,普天下天地会的会众,’Neither did any of these Triad friends here, ‘ said Tiger Face. ‘And in any case, the Triad Society has branches all over the country.少说也有二三十万,你杀得完么?”Altogether it must have somewhere between twenty and thirty thousand members. Are you proposing to kill all of them?’白寒枫一怔,大叫:“杀得一个是一个,杀得一双是一双!”Young Bo was somewhat taken aback by this, but was not yet prepared to climb down. ‘I can make a start.’

  突然之间,门外隐隐传来一阵急促的马蹄声,似有十余骑马向这边驰来。姚春道:“只怕是官兵,大伙儿收起了兵刃!”Just at that moment a faint sound of horses’ hooves could be heard. It sounded as if ten or more riders were approaching. ‘Tartar soldiers, probably. Hide your weapons everybody!’ said Yao Chun.

  樊钢、玄贞等眼见雷一啸挡在身前,白寒枫不易扑过来挥刀伤人,便都收起了兵刃。With Tiger Face standing between them, the Triads judged it unlikely that Young Bo would make a rush and began putting away the assorted knives and daggers they had been holding.白寒枫大声道:“便是天王老子到来,我也不怕。”Young Bo, however, continued to shout defiantly: ‘I don’t care if it’s the King of Heaven. I’m not afraid!’

  马蹄声越来越近,奔入胡同,来到门口戛然而止,跟着便响起了门环击门之声。The Story of Maple and Pine The sound of hooves grew louder as the riders entered the lane, then stopped abruptly as they arrived outside the house. Immediately there was a hammering at the door and the sound of a man’s voice shouting.门外有人叫道:“白二弟,是我!”人影一晃,一人越墙而入,冲了进来。’Maple! It’s me!’ A moment later a man of forty or so came rushing into the hall. He had slipped over the outside wall, impatient of the doorman’s delay.这人四十来岁年纪,神态威武,面色却是大变,颤声道:“果然……果然是白大弟……白大弟……”Though formidably warlike in appearance, he seemed greatly affected by what he saw and when he spoke his voice was trembling. ‘So it’s true, Maple: your brother. . .’

  白寒枫抛下手中钢刀,迎了上去,叫道:“苏四哥,我哥哥……我哥哥……”一口气说不下去,放声大哭。Young Bo threw down the sword he was holding and stepped forward to meet him. ‘Su! He . . . he . . .’ He broke down and began weeping noisily.马博仁、樊纲、玄贞等均想:“这人莫非是沐王府中的‘圣手居士’苏冈?”Father Obscurus and the others guessed that this Su must be Su Gang, alias Su the Magic Hand, a distinguished member of Duke Mu’s establishment.

  这时大门已开,涌进十几个人来,男女都有,冲到尸首之前,几个女子便呼天抢地的大哭起来。一个青年妇人是白寒松之妻,另一个是白寒枫之妻。By now the street door had been opened and a dozen or more people of both sexes came streaming into the hall. The women among them, who included Young Bo’s wife and the dead man’s widow, began a pitiful wailing as soon as they saw the corpse.

  樊纲、玄贞等都感尴尬,眼见这些人哭得死去活来。若再不走,待得他们哭完,就算不动手,也免不了给臭骂一顿。The Triads looked on uncomfortably, aware that, by their continued presence, they were inviting physical or, at the very least, verbal assault as soon as the lamentation ceased.

  韦小宝先前给白寒枫重重抓住手腕,此刻兀自疼痛,本来仗着人多,打定主意要叫玄贞、樊纲等人抓住了他,好歹也得在他屁股上踢他妈的七八脚,Trinket, whose wrist still hurt from the mauling Young Bo had given it, had been planning, before the appearance of these new arrivals, to get his own back on Young Bo by asking the Triads to overpower him so that he could give him a good kicking;不料对方人手越来越多,打起架来已占不到便宜,心中怦怦乱跳,but now that the Triads were themselves outnumbered, his heart beat faster at the thought that if there were to be any encounter now, it was more likely they who would be overpowered.见玄贞道人连使眼色,显是要脚底抹油,溜之大吉,此举正合心意,当即转身便走,说道:He was grateful, therefore, when he saw Father Obscurus signalling to him that they should slip quietly away, and responded by at once leading a retreat from the hall. “大伙儿去买些元宝蜡烛,再来向死人磕头罢!”’Come on, everybody,’ he said, by way of excusing their exit, ‘let’s go and buy some candles and paper ingots. We’ll come back here to kowtow and make an offering when we’ve got the necessary.’白寒枫叫道:“想逃吗?可没这么容易。”冲上前去,猛挥右掌向樊纲后心拍去。’Running away?’ Young Bo shouted after them. ‘You’re not getting off that easily.’ He came dashing after them and aimed a savage blow with his fist at Brother Fan’s back.樊纲怒道:“谁逃了?”回身举左臂挡开,却不还击。玄贞等众人便都站住了。’Who’s running away?’ said Brother Fan angrily. He turned and parried the blow with his left arm but made no attempt to return it. Father Obscurus and the others stopped in their tracks,

  韦小宝却已逃到了门口,一只脚先跨出了门槛再说。but Trinket, who had already reached the doorway, made sure that he had one foot over the threshold before waiting to see what would happen.

  那姓苏的男子问道:“白二弟,这几位是谁?恕在下眼生。”’Tell me, Maple, who are these people?’ said Su Gang. ‘I don’t think I know any of them.’

  白寒枫道:“他们是天地会的狗东西,我哥哥……哥哥便是给他们害死的。”此言一出口,本来伏着大哭的人都跃起身来,呛啷啷响声不绝,兵刃耀眼,’These are the Triad swine who murdered my brother,’ said Young Bo. At these words the men, who up to that moment had been on their knees weeping and lamenting round the coffin, leapt to their feet and there was a swish of metal and a flash of steel as they drew their swords from their scabbards.登时将来客都围住了,连马博仁、姚春、雪一啸、王武通等四个都给围在垓心。In a trice they had the Triads surrounded. The four Martial Arts professionals found themselves trapped in a little knot in their midst.王武通哈哈大笑,说道:“马大哥,雷兄弟,姚大夫,咱们几时入了天地会哪?凭咱们几个的德行,只怕给天地会的朋友们提鞋子也还不配哪。”Wang Wutong diplomatically insisted on treating this as a joke. ‘I don’t recollect ever having joined the Triad Society, do you Mr Ma? or you, Mr Lei? or you, Dr Yao? I doubt, in any case, whether they’d allow four old buffers like us to join. I doubt they’d think us worthy even to carry their shoes for them.’

  那姓苏的中年汉子抱拳说道:“这几位不是天地会的吗?

  这位姚大夫,想来名讳是个春字。Su Gang clasped his hands politely. ‘So you gentlemen are not Triads then? No, I’ve heard of Dr Yao. It’s Yao Chun, isn’t it?在下苏冈,得悉白家大兄弟不幸身亡的讯息,从宛平赶来,伤痛之下,未得请教,多有失礼。”说着向众人作揖为礼。My name is Su Gang. We were in Wanping when we got the sad news about Mr Bo and came here immediately. I’m afraid we were all so upset when we got here that we neglected to introduce ourselves. It was very discourteous of us.

  王武通抱拳笑道:“好说,好说。圣手居士,名不虚传,果然是位有见识、有气度的英雄。”’Not at all, not at all,’ said Wang Wutong, bowing and smiling in response. ‘I’ve long heard about the Magic Hand and now that I have met him I find him to be exactly the understanding, gentlemanly person I had been led to expect.’当下给各人一一引见,第一个便指着韦小宝,道:“这位是天地会青木堂韦香主。”He went on to introduce the others, beginning with Trinket. This is Mr Wei, the Master of the Triad Society’s Green Wood Lodge.’苏冈知道天地会共分十堂,每一堂香主都是身负绝艺的英雄豪杰,Su Gang knew that the Triad Society was divided into ten Lodges, each of them presided over by a Master who, he had been led to believe, was invariably a person of great presence and exceptional ability;但这韦香主却显然是个乳臭未干的富家少年,yet this Mr Wei was manifestly some pampered rich boy whose mother’s milk was scarcely dry on his lips.不由得心下诧异,但脸上不动声色,抱拳道:“久仰,久仰。”However, if he was puzzled, he betrayed no sign of it as he clasped his hands and gravely bowed to the young Master. ‘I am honoured.’韦小宝嗤的一声笑,抱拳还礼,从门边走了回来,问道:“你久仰我什么?”Trinket returned his salutation with a giggle and sauntered over from the doorway. ‘Why are you honoured?’苏冈一怔,道:“在下久仰天地会十堂香主,个个都是英雄好汉。”Su Gang looked somewhat taken aback. The Ten Masters of the Triad Society are men of known valour,’ he said. ‘It is an honour to meet any of them.’韦小宝点点头,笑道:“原来如此。”苏冈见他神情油腔滑调,心下更是嘀咕。当下王武通给余人都引见了。Trinket grinned and nodded. ‘I see.’ This unseemly levity on Trinket’s part left Su Gang feeling even more nonplussed. Wang Wutong now introduced all the other members of the Triads’ party,苏冈给他同来这伙人引见,其中两个是他师弟,三人是白氏兄弟的师兄弟,还有几个是苏冈的徒弟。and Su Gang, in turn, introduced the men who had accompanied him from Wanping. Three of them had trained under the same teacher of Martial Arts as the Bo brothers and himself and several of the others were former apprentices of his own.白寒松的夫人伏在丈夫尸首上痛哭,白寒枫的夫人一边哭,一边劝,几个女子都不过来相见。The dead man’s widow, meanwhile, continued to cling to his body, weeping bitterly, while her sister-in-law, Young Bo’s wife, though weeping herself, endeavoured to comfort her. Neither they nor any of the other women made any effort to come over and be introduced.

  姚春道:“白二侠,到底白大侠为了什么事和天地会生起争竞,请白二侠说来听听。”’Mr Bo,’ said Yao Chun, ‘won’t you tell us what the quarrel between the Triads and your brother was about?’咳嗽一声,又道:“云南沐王府在武林中人所共仰,天地会的会规向来极严,都不是蛮不讲理之人。He coughed before continuing. ‘Duke Mu’s people of Yunnan are respected among professional fighting men everywhere, while the Triads for their part are known to have very strict rules of conduct. Neither of them is given to acting unreasonably;天下原抬不过一个‘理’字,今日之事,也不是单凭打架动武就能了结的。And Reason, as we know, is a lady who is very hard to shift. Whatever is at the bottom of this business is not going to be resolved by fighting.这里马老师,雷兄弟,王总镖头,以及区区在下,跟双方就算没有交情,也都是慕名。Old Ma and Lei and Wang here and my humble self are none of us connected with either party, although we are great admirers of both.白二侠,请你冲着咱们一点薄面,说一说这中间的缘由如何?”王武通道:“不瞒众位说,天地会的朋友们,的的确确不知白大侠已经身故,否则的话,他们还会上门来自讨没趣么?”So, Mr Bo, won’t you, just for our sakes, try to tell us how all this started?’ ‘I can give you my word that our Triad friends really didn’t know that the elder Mr Bo had passed away,’ Wang Wutong added. They would never have come here and put themselves in this embarrassing situation if they had.’

  苏冈道:“然则韦香主和众位朋友来到敝处,又为了什么?”’Perhaps you can tell me why Mr Wei and his friends did come here then,’ said Su Gang.王武通道:“咱们真人面前不说假话。天地会的朋友说道,他们徐天川徐大哥给沐王府的朋友打得身受重伤,已说不出话,’I won’t attempt to deceive you,’ said Wang Wutong. ‘According to what our Triad friends here have told us, it was because their Brother Xu Tianchuan was beaten up by some of Duke Mu’s people–beaten up so badly that he couldn’t speak.他们只好邀了我们几个老朽,伴同来到贵处,想问一问缘由。”They felt that they had no alternative but to get a few old fellows like me to come along with them and find out exactly what it was all about.’苏冈森然道:“如此说来,各位是上门问罪来着?”’It sounds to me like a punitive expedition,’ said Su Gang somewhat frostily.

  王武通道:“这可不敢当。我们几个在江湖上混口饭吃,全仗朋友们给面子。’No, no, not at all, ‘ said Wang Wutong. ‘Old River and Lake folk like us rely on the little bit of reputation we have to make a living. We depend entirely on the good opinion of our friends.是非曲直,自有公论,谁也不能昧着良心说瞎话。”The only way to decide what the rights and wrongs are in a case like this is by open discussion, we’re not going to endanger the little bit of reputation we have by taking sides.’

  苏冈点了点头。道:“王总镖头说得对,请各位到厅上说话。”Su Gang nodded. ‘You’re right. Let’s all go into the other hall where we can talk.’

  众人来到大厅。苏冈命师弟、徒弟们收起兵刃。白寒枫手中钢刀总是不肯放下。When they had all trooped into the reception hall, Su Gang told his companions to put up their weapons. All complied except Young Bo, who still clung obstinately to his sword.苏冈让众人坐下,说道:“白二弟,当时实情如何,你给大家说说。”Su Gang invited everyone to sit. ‘Now, Maple, tell us, ‘ he said. ‘What exactly happened?’

  白寒枫叹了一声,说道:“前天下午……”只说了四个字,不由得气往上冲,手中钢刀挥了一挥。Young Bo sighed. The day before yesterday, in the afternoon, ‘ he began; but at the mere recollection the anger flared up inside him and he once more began waving his sword.韦小宝吃了一惊,身子向后一缩。白寒枫觉得此举太过粗鲁,钢刀用力往地下一掷,呛啷一声,击碎了两块方砖,Trinket flinched back in alarm, whereupon even Young Bo seemed to become aware that he was behaving boorishly, for he flung the sword down then, with such force that he broke two of the floor-tiles.呼了口气,道:“前天下午,我和哥哥在天桥的一家酒楼上喝酒,忽然上来一个官员,带了四名家丁。After breathing heavily for a moment or two, he began again. The day before yesterday, in the afternoon, my brother and I were drinking upstairs in a wine-shop in the Bridge of Heaven district when suddenly an official came in attended by four men-servants.那四个家丁神气惹厌得很,要酒要菜,说的却是云南话。”The menservants immediately began shouting for service and generally behaving in a thoroughly objectionable manner; but what really struck us about these people was the fact that they were talking in Yunnan dialect, ‘苏冈“哦”了一声。白寒枫道:“我和哥哥一听他们口音,就留上了神。”This brought an ‘Oh’ from Su Gang. When my brother noticed this, he began listening more carefully, ‘ said Young Bo.

  王武通、樊纲等都知道,沐王府世镇云南,苏冈、白寒枫等都生长于云南,在北京城里听到乡音,自会关注。The Triads and their four invited companions all knew that, like other retainers of the Mu family (which had virtually ruled Yunnan for generations), Su Gang and the Bo brothers had been born and bred in that province and, when they were in Peking, would naturally take a more than usual interest in anyone speaking their own dialect.白寒枫续道:“我哥哥听了一会,隔座接了几句。那官员听得我们也是云南人,便邀我们过去坐。’After listening for a bit, ‘ Young Bo continued, ‘my brother exchanged a few words with this official across the room. When he heard that we were Yunnanese too, the official invited us to come over and join him. ‘After listening for a bit, ‘ Young Bo continued, ‘my brother exchanged a few words with this official across the room. When he heard that we were Yunnanese too, the official invited us to come over and join him.我和哥哥离家已久,很想打听故乡的情形,见这位官员似是从云南来,便移座过去。Well, having been away from home for quite a long time, my brother was longing to hear some local news, and it seemed that this official had only just arrived from Yunnan, so we went over and sat at his table.一谈之下,这官员自称叫做卢一峰,原来是奉了吴三桂的委派,去做曲靖县知县的。In the course of conversation it turned out that his name was Lu Yifeng and that he’d been appointed by Satrap Wu to be District Magistrate of Qujing prefecture.他是云南大理人。照规矩,云南人本来不能在本省做地方官。不过这卢一峰说道,他是平西王委派的官,可不用理会这一套!”He came from Dali in Yunnan. According to the rules a person can’t be made a District Magistrate in his own province, but this Lu Yifeng assured us that anyone appointed by Satrap Wu could forget about all that stuff, ‘

  樊纲忍不住骂道:“他奶奶的,大汉奸吴三桂委派的狗官,有什么神气了?”Brother Fan could not contain his indignation. ‘Grandmother’s! A pseudo-magistrate appointed by that filthy traitor Wu Sangui? What a nerve!’

  白寒枫向他瞧了一眼。点了点头,道:“这位樊……樊兄说得不错,当时我也这么想。可是我哥哥为了探听故乡情形,反而奉承了他几句。Young Bo stared at him for a moment and then nodded. This Fan–er, Mr Fan is right. I thought so myself at the time; but my brother was so keen to get some local news out of him that he decided, for the time being at any rate, to go along with him and pretended to be impressed.这狗官更加得意了,说是吴三桂所派的官,叫做‘西选’,意思说是平西王选的。That made this Lu Yifeng really happy. He told us that they’ve even got a special name now for officials appointed by the Satrap. “Western appointments” they call them.云南全省的大小官员,固然都是吴三桂所派,就是四川、广西、贵州三省,‘西选’的官儿也比皇帝所派的官吃香。”He told us that not only are all new officials in Yunnan “western appointments” nowadays, but even in Sichuan, Guangxi, and Guizhou officials appointed by the Satrap are more highly thought of than those appointed by the Emperor.’

  苏冈听他说得有些气喘,接口解释:“倘若有一个缺,朝廷派了。吴三桂也派了,谁先到任,谁就是正印。Su Gang observed that Young Bo had begun panting asth-matically, and tactfully intervened. When there’s a vacancy and the Court in Peking and Wu Sangui both have their own appointee, the convention is that whichever of them gets there first has first right to the post.云贵川桂四省的官员,哪一个先出缺,自然是昆明知道得早,从昆明派人去快得多。因此朝廷的官儿,总是没‘西选’的脚快。”But as Kunming naturally gets to hear about vacancies in Yunnan or any of the other three south-western provinces first, the Court’s appointees are invariably beaten to it by the so-called “western appointments”.’

  白寒枫吁了口气,接着道:“那官儿说,平西王为朝廷立下了大功,满清能得江山,全仗平西王的功劳,因此朝廷对他特别给面子。Young Bo took a big breath and continued. This Lu Yifeng said the Manchus appreciated how much Wu Sangui had done for them. They realized that if it hadn’t been for him, they’d never have been able to take over China, consequently they give him a lot of face.吴三桂启奏什么事,从来就没有驳回的。”Whatever he asks the Court for gets approved. No proposal coming from him has ever been vetoed.’王武通道:“这官儿的话倒是实情。兄弟到西南各省走镖,亲眼见到,云贵一带大家就知道有吴三桂,不知道有皇帝。”’It’s true, ‘ said Wang Wutong. ‘I’ve been to all the southwestern provinces on security jobs, so I’ve seen with my own eyes. The only government the folk down that way know about is Satrap Wu’s. They’ve never even heard of the Emperor.’

  白寒枫道:“这卢一峰说,照朝廷规矩,凡是做知县的,都先要到京城来朝见皇帝,由皇帝亲自封官。他到北京来,就是等着来见皇帝的。’This Lu Yifeng said that according to the rules every newly appointed magistrate is supposed to go to Court to receive his commission from the Emperor,’ Young Bo continued, ‘and that was why he was in Peking. He was waiting for an audience.他说平西王既然封了他官。到京城来朝见皇帝,也不过是例行公事而已。But he said that in his case, because he’d already received his commission from the Satrap, this coming to Peking for an audience with the Emperor was merely a formality.我哥哥说:‘卢大人到曲靖做官,本省人做本省的官,那更是造福桑梓了。’”Well,” said my brother then, “you’re a Yunnan man yourself and Qujing prefecture is in Yunnan: as a fellow-countryman you’ll be well placed to do the people there some good.”那卢一峰哈哈大笑,说道:‘这个自然。’突然之间,隔座有人插嘴,这老……这老贼……我和他仇深……”说着霍地站起,满脸胀得通红。This Lu fellow laughed loudly at that. “Exactly,” he said. But just as he said that, someone chipped in from one of the other tables. It was that. . . that old … oh, I hate that old man!’

  苏冈道:“是‘八臂猿猴’徐天川说话么?”白寒枫点了点头,道:‘正……正……”急愤之下,喉头哽住了,说不出话来,隔了一会,This is the “Eight-Armed Ape”, Xu Tianchuan, you are referring to, is it?’ said Su Gang. ‘Ec . . . ec . . .’ Rage seemed to have deprived him temporarily of speech; but after a moment or two he was able to go on.才道:“正是这老贼,他坐在窗口一张小桌旁喝酒,插嘴说:‘本省人做本省的官,刮起地皮来更加方便些。’’Exactly. He was sitting drinking on his own at a little table by the window. Then suddenly he chipped in. “As a fellow-countryman you’ll be well placed to bleed them dry,” he said.这老贼,我们自管自说话,谁要他来多口!”Wretched old man! We were all minding our own business. What did he have to butt in for?’

  玄贞冷冷的道:“白二侠,徐三哥这句话,可没说错。”’Mr Bo,’ said Father Obscurus very drily, ‘what Brother Xu said was correct.’白寒枫哼了一声,顿了一顿,说道:“这句话是没说错,我又没说他这句话错了。可是……可是……谁要他多管闲事?他倘若不插这句嘴,怎会生出以后许多事来?”Young Bo snorted and paused a moment before replying. ‘Well yes, it was. I didn’t say it wasn’t. But. . . but. . . why couldn’t he mind his own business? If it hadn’t been for that one remark, none of this would have happened.’玄贞见他气急,也就不再说下去。Father Obscurus could see that he was flustered and thought it best not to argue with him.

  白寒枫续道:“卢一峰听了这句话,勃然大怒,一拍桌子,’When Lu Yifeng heard this,’ Young Bo continued, ‘he flew into a towering rage and began thumping the table;转过头来,见这老贼是个弯腰曲背的老头儿,容貌猥琐,桌上放着一只药箱,椅子旁插着一面膏药旗,是个卖药的老头儿,but when he turned to look, what he saw was this humpbacked, feeble-looking old plaster-seller, sitting there with his medicine chest beside him on the table and the flag with his business name on it propped against the chair.喝道:‘你这个老不死的,胡说些什么?’他手下的四名家丁早就抢了上去。在老贼桌上拍桌大骂,一名家丁抓住了他衣领。”What was that you said?” he shouted. “Stupid old fool!” By that time his four menservants were already on top of the old man, banging on his table and swearing at him, and one of them had grabbed hold of him by the collar.也是我瞎了眼,瞧不出这老贼武功了得,还道他激于一时义愤,出言讥刺,怕他吃亏,I must have been blind not to see that the old devil was perfectly capable of looking after himself, but I thought at the time that he was some poor old chap who’d got carried away by his righteous indignation and blurted out something that he might later on regret.便走上去假意相劝,将这四名家丁都推开了。”I didn’t want him to get hurt, so on pretence of going over to reason with them, I managed to get the four menservants off his back.’

  玄贞赞道:“白二侠仁义为怀,果然是英雄行径。”’It shows that your heart is in the right place, Mr Bo,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘I would say that you acted like a gentleman.’心想白寒松已死,徐天川受伤虽然不轻,多半不会死,己方终究已占了便宜,这件事双方只好言和,口头上捧白寒枫几句,且让他平平气。He was anxious to seem conciliatory, for with the elder Bo already dead but Brother Xu, though badly wounded, likely to survive, it looked as if the Triads had come out of this comparatively lightly and he was hoping that a little mild flattery might calm the young man down.

  哪知白寒枫不受他这一套,瞪了他一眼,说道:“什么英雄?我是狗熊!生了眼睛不识人,瞧不出这老贼阴险毒辣,还道他是好人。But Young Bo wasn’t having any and glared back scornfully. ‘A gentleman? No,’ he said, ‘I acted like a fool. I ought to have had the wit to see that this wasn’t a good man at all but a murderous, calculating old villain.那卢一峰打起官腔,破口大骂,大叫:反了,反了,说京城里刁民真多,须得重办。”Anyway, Lu Yifeng began getting on his official high horse then, shouting at him and calling him every name under the sun. “This is rebellion,” he said. “Peking is full of cunning rascals like you masquerading as honest citizens. It’s high time someone dealt firmly with you!”‘

  樊纲插嘴道:“这官儿狗仗人势,在云南欺侮百姓不够,还到北京城来欺人。”’What a swine!’ said Brother Fan, interrupting. ‘Not enough for him to bully the poor people in Yunnan: he has to come to Peking and do his bullying here.’

  白寒枫道:“要欺侮人,也没这么容易。这官儿连声吆喝,叫家丁将这姓徐的老贼绑起来送官,打他四十大板,戴枷示众。那老贼笑嘻嘻的道:’I don’t know about that,’ said Young Bo. ‘I don’t think he found it quite so easy here. While he was hollering away at his servants to tie the old man up and take him to the authorities to be given forty strokes of the heavy bamboo and put in the pillory as an example, all the old villain did was laugh. ‘大老爷,你这么大声嚷嚷,不吃力吗?我送张膏药卖给你贴贴。’”Aren’t you tiring yourself with all this shouting, Your Honour?” he said. “Let me sell you a plaster to build up your strength.”他从药箱里取了张膏药出来,双掌夹住,跟着便将那张本来折拢的膏药拉平了。Then he took a plaster out of his medicine chest and began working it between his palms to flatten out the ointment.我初见那老贼对这凶神恶煞的家丁并不害怕,心下已自起疑,待见他拉膏药的手势,和哥哥对望了一眼,已然明白。’Well, I’d already had my suspicions about him when I saw how unafraid he was of those thuggish menservants, but when I saw the way he handled that plaster, I exchanged a look with my brother, because I was sure now that he wasn’t the feeble old man he appeared to be.膏药中间的药膏硬结在一块,总得点了火烘焙多时,才拉得开。’As you well know, the way they make these plasters is to fold the ointment in a lump in the middle, which is so hard by the time you buy the plaster that normally you have to heat it for quite a while before you can open it out for use;可是他只是在双掌间夹得片刻,便以内力烘软药膏,这份功力可真了不起。but all this old man did was to work it for half a minute between his palms. It must have taken incredible inner power to generate the amount of heat needed to soften it.他将药膏拉平之后,药膏热气腾腾。那卢一峰却兀自不悟,一叠连声的催促家丁上前拿人。’Anyway there the old villain was now, with the plaster opened out all steaming hot in his hand while that Lu Yifeng, still quite unaware of what the old villain was up to, went on bawling to his manservants to arrest him.我便不再拦阻那官儿的走狗,由得他们去自讨苦吃。一名家丁见我让开,当即向那老贼冲去。This time I did nothing to hinder them. I thought to myself, if they were looking for trouble, I wasn’t going to stand in their way. One of those thugs saw that I wasn’t going to stop them and made a dash at him.那老贼笑道:“你要膏药?将那张膏药放在家丁手中。那家丁骂道:‘老狗,你干什么?’'”Oh, do you want the plaster?” said the old villain, and he placed it in the fellow’s hand. The man swore at him: “Old dog!” he said. “What do you think you’re doing?”那老贼在他手臂上一推,那家丁移过身去,拍的一声响,那张热烘烘的膏药,正好贴在卢一峰那狗官的嘴上……”Then somehow–I don’t quite know how he did it–the old villain gave the manservant a little push so that he swivelled round and clapped the steaming hot plaster right over his master’s mouth.’韦小宝听到这里,再也忍耐不住,哈的一声笑了出来,拍手叫好。白寒枫哼了一声,恶狠狠的瞪视着他。韦小宝心中害怕,便不敢再笑。苏冈问道:“后来怎样?”Trinket could no longer contain his laughter and clapped his hands delightedly, but when Young Bo snorted and glanced murderously in his direction he immediately fell silent. ‘Yes?’ said Su Gang. Then what?’

  白寒枫道:“那狗官的嘴巴被膏药封住,忙伸手去拉扯。

  那老贼推动四名家丁,说道:‘去帮大老爷!’Then, while Lu Yifeng tried to tear the plaster off his mouth,’ Young Bo went on, ‘the old villain began urging the menservants to do something. “Go on!” he said. “Go and help His Honour!”只听得拍拍拍拍声响不停,四名家丁你一掌,我一掌,都向那狗官打去。and the next thing we heard was “slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap”: the four of them looked as if they were playing some sort of game, taking it in turns to slap their master’s face.原来那老贼推拨四名家丁的手臂,运上了巧劲,以这四人的手掌去打那狗官。片刻之间,那狗官的两边面皮给打得又红又肿。”It was the old villain, of course, with his diabolical skill, manipulating them from behind like puppets. Within a very short time the wretched man’s face was red and swollen.’

  韦小宝又是哈哈大笑,转过了头,不敢向白寒枫多看一眼。Once more Trinket burst out laughing; but this time he turned away to do so and was careful to avoid Young Bo’s eye.

  苏冈点头道:“这位徐老兄诨名叫作‘八臂猿猴’,听说擒拿小巧功夫,算得是武林一绝,果然名不虚传。”Su Gang nodded. ‘You can understand why this old Xu came to be nicknamed the Eight-Armed Ape, ‘ he said. ‘In the “fancy” branch of Catch-Can wrestling he’s reckoned to be the greatest living Master.’他想白寒松死在他手下,这老儿的武功自然甚高,抬高了他武功,也是为白氏双雄留了地步。Whether or not this was strictly true, it seemed obvious to him that the old man must have had considerable martial skill to have caused the elder Bo’s death, and he hoped that by praising his skill he would make the brothers’ defeat seem less humiliating.

  白寒枫道:“我和哥哥只是好笑,眼见那狗官已给打得两边面皮鲜血淋漓,酒楼上不少闲人站着瞧热闹。那老贼大声叫嚷:‘打不得,打不得,大老爷是打不得的!你们这些大胆奴才,以下犯上,怎么打起大老爷来?’’We couldn’t help laughing, ‘ said Young Bo. ‘Lu Yifeng stood there with blood trickling down both sides of his face, surrounded by customers from other parts of the shop who’d come to watch the fun, while the old villain kept shouting, “Don’t hit him! Don’t hit His Honour! You mustn’t lay hands on your own master!”在四名家丁身后跳来跳去。活脱像是一只大猴子,伸手推动家丁的手臂,反似是在躲闪,那些闲人都瞧不出是他在搞鬼。and all the time dancing round like a big monkey, giving a little push here and a little push there to the arm or hand of one or other of the four thuggish menservants, yet managing to look as if he was trying to dodge out of their way, so that none of the bystanders was aware that he was responsible for their movements.直打得那狗官晕倒在地,他才住手,回归原座。He kept this game up until Lu Yifeng fell down unconscious on the floor, then he quietly slipped back and sat down again at his own table.这四名家丁还道是撞邪遇鬼,说什么也不明白怎么会伸手去打大老爷,可是自己手掌上都是鲜血,却又不假。The four menservants thought they’d been bewitched. They couldn’t for the life of them make out how they had come to be hitting their own master; yet the blood on their hands was real enough.四人呆了一阵,便扶着那狗官去了。”For a while they stood staring at it stupidly, then finally they picked him up and carried him away.’

  樊纲道:“痛快,痛快!吴三桂手下的走狗,原该如此整治。徐三哥痛打狗官,正是给天下百姓出一口胸中恶气。’Very good! I like that!’ said Brother Fan. ‘It’s a pity all those pseudo-officials of Wu Sangui’s can’t be dealt with in the same way. What Brother Xu did struck a blow for all our poor oppressed countrymen.白二侠,你当时怎么不帮着打几拳?”白寒枫登时怒气又涌了上来,大声道:“老贼在显本事打人,我为什么要帮他?是他在打人,又不是他在挨打!”I wonder you didn’t feel like helping him, Mr Bo.’ Young Bo’s anger returned. ‘Why should I?’ he said loudly. ‘He was only showing off his skill. In any case, he was the one doing the hitting; no one was hitting him, ‘

  玄贞道:“白二侠说得是,先前他不知徐三哥身有武功,可不是见义勇为,出手阻止狗官的家丁行凶吗?”That’s right, ‘ said Father Obscurus. ‘Before he realized that Brother Xu was a trained fighter, Mr Bo did go to help him. He went to save him from those four thugs, like a true gentleman, ‘白寒枫哼了一声,续道:“那狗官和家丁去后,我哥哥叫酒楼的掌柜来,说道一应打坏的桌椅器皿,都由他赔,那老贼的酒钱也算在我们帐上。Young Bo made a little humph-like sound before continuing. ‘After Lu Yifeng and his four menservants had gone, my brother called the proprietor of the wine-shop to him and told him that he would pay for any damage. He also said he would pay the old villain’s bill.那老贼笑着道谢。我哥哥邀他过来一同喝酒。那老贼低声道:‘久慕松枫贤乔梓的英名,幸会,幸会。’The old villain laughed then and thanked him and my brother invited him to come and sit with us at our table. ‘ “I’ve heard a lot about the famous brothers Pine and Maple,” the old villain said, speaking in a low voice so as not to be overheard. “It’s a great honour to meet you.”我和哥哥都是一惊,心想原来他早知道了我们的来历,我们却不知他是谁。我哥哥道:‘惭愧得紧,请问老爷子尊姓大名。’It gave us a shock to find out that he had known who we were all along, although we hadn’t the faintest idea who he was. “I’m ashamed not to know it, but I’m going to have to ask you what your name is,” said my brother.那老贼笑道:‘在下徐天川,一时沉不住气,在贤乔梓跟前班门弄斧,可真见笑了。’The old villain laughed again. “Xu Tianchuan at your service,” he said. “I must apologize for making an exhibition of myself just now in front of the real experts. I got a bit carried away.”那时我们还不知道徐天川是什么来头,但想他殴打狗官,自然跟我们是同一条路上的。这狗官倘若不挨这一顿饱打,我兄弟俩一样的也要痛打他一顿。’At the time we knew nothing about Xu Tianchuan, but we thought that anyone who’d done what he’d just done must be on our side, for if he hadn’t beaten up that bogus official, we would have given him a good thrashing ourselves.

  我们三人喝酒闲谈,倒也十分相投,酒楼之中不便深谈,便邀他到这里来吃饭。”Anyway, the three of us sat there talking and drinking for a bit and we seemed to be getting on very well together; but it wasn’t very convenient talking to him in the wine-shop, so we invited him to come with us and have a meal here.’

  樊纲“哦”了一声,道:“原来徐三哥到了这里,是在府上动起手来了?”

  白寒枫道:“谁说在这里动手了?在我们家里,怎能跟客人过招,那不是欺侮人么?”’Oh,’ said Brother Fan, ‘so Brother Xu came here? Is this where you started fighting then?’ ‘Certainly not!’ said Young Bo indignantly. ‘He was our guest here. We wouldn’t fight an invited guest under our own roof.’

  玄贞点头道:“白氏兄弟英风侠骨,这种事是决计不做的。”Father Obscurus nodded. ‘Of course not. Men of Honour like the Bo brothers, It’s inconceivable that they would do such a thing.’

  白寒枫听他接连称赞自己,终于向他点点头,以示谢意,This was the third or fourth time he had spoken in commendation of the brothers. His efforts at conciliation were beginning to have some effect, for this time Young Bo nodded to him in gratitude for the confirmation.说道:“我兄弟将老贼请到这里,恭谨相待,问起他怎么认得我兄弟。他也不再隐瞒,说道自己是天地会的,’We treated the old man with great respect when we got here,’ he continued. ‘When we asked him how he came to know who we were, he no longer concealed from us the fact that he was a member of the Triad Society.我兄弟来到北京之时,他天地会已得到讯息,原是想跟我兄弟交朋友。He said that the Society had had advance information of our coming to Peking and that he had wanted to meet us ever since he heard the news.他在酒楼上殴打狗官,一来是痛恨吴三桂,二来也是为了要和我兄弟结交。这老贼能说会道,哄得我兄弟还当他是个好人。He said that when he beat up that bogus official in the wine-shop it was partly because he detested Wu Sangui and all his works, but also as a means of getting to know us. The old villain certainly knew how to talk. He had the two of us thinking he must be a really nice old man.

  后来说到反清复明之事,三个人,不,两个人一只狗,越说越投机……”’Gradually the conversation got round to the Resistance movement and the three of us–no, not the three of us, the two of us and that vile dog–found ourselves in complete agreement–‘

  韦小宝接口道:“两个人和一只狗越说越投机,倒也希奇。”Two men and a dog in complete agreement, ‘ Trinket chipped in. That must have been interesting.’

  众人忍不住好笑,只是碍着白寒枫的面子,不敢笑出声来。The others present could not help smiling at this but refrained from laughing out loud for fear of upsetting Young Bo.

  白寒枫大怒,喝道:“你这小鬼,胡说八道!”樊纲道:“白二侠,这位韦香主年纪虽轻,却是敝会青木堂的香主,敝会上下,对他都是十分尊敬的。”白寒枫道:“香主便怎么样?”Young Bo, notwithstanding, was extremely angry. ‘Hold your tongue, you little brat!’ ‘Mr Bo,’ Brother Fan expostulated, ‘this is the Master of the Green Wood Lodge of the Triad Society you are addressing, whom everyone in our Society, high and low, treats with respect.’ ‘What of it?’ said Young Bo.

  苏冈岔开话头,说道:“我白兄弟心伤兄长亡故,说话有些气急,各位请勿介意。韦香主,你包涵些。”Su Gang hurriedly interrupted. ‘My friend Bo has been greatly upset by the death of his brother. I must ask you all to be indulgent if he speaks a little wildly sometimes. Please excuse him, Mr Wei.’他想天地会的香主身份非同小可,白寒枫直斥为“小鬼”,终究理亏。He knew that the status of Master in the Triad Society was very considerable and that to call one of them a ‘brat’ was to put oneself seriously in the wrong.

  白寒枫也非蠢人,一点便透,眼光不再与韦小宝相触,说道:“后来我们三个……”韦小宝道:“不,两个人,一只狗。”Young Bo was no fool and knew that he had gone too far. When he continued he was careful to avoid Trinket’s eye. The three of us–‘ ‘No,’ said Trinket, ‘the two of you and the dog.’

  白寒枫怒喝:“你……你……”终于忍住了,吁了口大气,’You . . . you . . .’ Young Bo shouted angrily, but managed, with some difficulty, to swallow whatever it was he had been going to call him.续道:“大家说到反清复明之事,说道日后将鞑子杀光了,扶保洪武皇帝的子孙重登龙庭。’From discussing the Resistance we got on to the subject of what we should do when we had finished wiping out the Tartars,’ he said after taking a big breath. ‘I mean, which of the Ming Founder’s descendants should sit once again on the Dragon Throne. ‘我哥哥说:“皇上在缅甸宴驾宾天,只留下一位小太子,倒是位聪明睿智的英主,目下在深山中隐居。那老贼却道:“真命天子好端端是在台湾。””When His Imperial Majesty died in Burma,” said my brother, “his only surviving heir was a little boy. At present he’s living in hiding in the hills.” “But the true Ming Emperor is alive and well in Taiwan,” said the old villain.’

  白寒枫一引述徐天川这句话,苏冈、姚春、王武通等人便知原来双方争执是由拥桂、拥唐而起。崇祯皇帝吊死煤山,清兵进关,明朝的宗室福王、唐王、鲁王、桂王分别在各地称帝,当时便有纷争,各王死后,手下的孤臣遗老仍是互相心存嫌隙。As soon as they heard that, Su Gang and the four Martial Arts professionals knew what the Triads had long since surmised: that the quarrel between old Xu and the Bo brothers had been over the Ming succession and the rivalry between the four claimants to the throne and their supporters.

  (白寒枫续道:“那时我听了老贼这句话,便问:‘我们小皇帝几时到台湾去了?’那老贼道:‘我说的是隆武天子的小皇帝,不是桂王的子孙。’我哥哥道:‘徐老爷子,你是英雄豪杰,我兄弟俩是很佩服的,只不过于天下大事,您老人家见识却差了。崇祯天子崩驾,福王自立。福王为清兵所俘,唐王不幸殉国,我永历天子为天下之王。永历天子殉国之后,自然是由他圣上的子孙继位了。’”隆武是唐王的年号,永历是桂王的年号。他们是唐王、桂王的旧臣,对主子都以年号相称。

  樊纲听到这里,插口道:“白二侠,请你别见怪。隆武天子殉国之后,兄终弟及,由圣上的亲兄弟绍武天子在广州接位。桂王却派兵来攻打绍武天子。大家都是太祖皇帝的子孙,不打满清鞑子,自己打了起来,岂不是大错而特错?”白寒枫怒道:“那老贼的口吻,便跟你一模一样!可是这到底是谁起的衅?我永历天子好好派了使臣到广州来,命唐王除去尊号。唐王非但不奉旨,反而兴兵抗拒天命。唐王这等行为明明是犯上作乱,大逆不道,可说是罪魁祸首。”

  樊纲冷笑道:“三水那一战,区区在下也在其内,却不知道是谁全军覆没?”白寒枫大怒,站起身来,厉声道:“你还在算这旧帐么?”韦小宝听了樊纲的话,便知三水这一仗是唐王胜而桂王败,忙问:“樊大哥,三水一仗是怎么打的?”樊纲道:“桂王听了手下奸臣的教唆,派了一个名叫林桂鼎的,带兵来打广州……”苏冈插口道:“樊大哥,这话与事实不符。那是唐王先派兵去攻肇庆,我永历天子才不得已起而应战。”

  双方你一言,我一语,说的多是旧事,渐渐的剑拔弩张,便要动起手来。)???

  姚春连连摇手,大声道:“多年前的旧事,还提起他干么?不论谁胜谁败,都不是什么光彩之事,最后还不是都教鞑子给灭了。”The dispute is ancient history,’ said Yao Chun. ‘It is not worth fighting about.’众人一听,登时住口,均有惭愧之意。苏冈道:“白二弟,大义之所在,原是非誓死力争不可的,后来怎样?”’Where Honour or Loyalty is at stake,’ said Su Gang, ‘a quarrel must be pursued to its end.’ He turned once more to Young Bo. ‘So what happened next?’

  白寒枫道:“那老贼所说的话,便和这……这位姓樊的师傅一模一样,我兄弟俩自然要跟他剖析明白。双方越说越大声,谁也不让。我哥哥盛怒之下,一掌将一张茶几拍得粉碎。’Naturally my brother and I were anxious to put the old villain right. The argument got a bit noisy, but neither side would give way, and in the end my brother got so angry that he smashed up a tea-table with a single blow of his hand.

  那老贼冷笑道:‘你道理说不过人,便想动武么?沐王府白氏双木威名远震,我天地会的一个无名小卒,却也不惧。’The old villain gave a sort or sneering laugh. “If you can’t win the argument with words,” he said, “do you think you can win it by brute force? Duke Mu’s two Family Trees may be world-renowned fighters and I may be only a nobody from the Triad Society, but you don’t scare me that way.”他这句话显然是说,他是天地会的一个无名小卒,还胜似沐王府的成名人物。Well of course, this was tantamount to saying that the most insignificant member of the Triad Society was better than the most distinguished member of Duke Mu’s establishment.我哥哥道:‘我自拍碎我家里的茶几,关你什么事了?你出言轻侮沐王府,仗的是什么势道?’双方越说越僵,终于约定,当晚子时,在天坛较量。””I don’t see that it’s any concern of yours what I do with my own furniture,” said my brother, “but I’d like to know on what authority you think you can insult the memory of Duke Mu.” They went at it a bit longer after that, but they’d soon reached a point of no return and neither of them would budge, so it ended up with our arranging to meet him at midnight that night at the Altar of Heaven for a duel.’

  苏冈叹了口气,黯然道:“原来这场纷争,由此而起。”Su Gang sighed. ‘So that’s how it all started, ‘ he said, half speaking to himself.

  白寒枫道:“当晚我们到天坛赴约,没说几句,便和这老贼动起手来……”韦小宝道:“想必是二对一了,但不知是白大侠先上,还是白二侠先上?”’We said very little when we turned up at the Altar of Heaven that night,’ Young Bo continued. ‘We just started fighting straight away.’ There were two of you and only one of him,’ said Trinket, ‘so was it your brother who fought him first or was it you?’白寒枫脸上一红,大声道:“我两兄弟向来联手,对付一个是二人齐上,对付一百个也是二人齐上。”Young Bo turned very red and started shouting. ‘My brother and I always fought as a team. Whether it was one man we were fighting or a hundred, it was always the two of us.’

  韦小宝点头道:“原来如此。倘若跟我这小孩子动手,你两兄弟也是齐上了。”Trinket nodded. ‘I see. So if it was a little kid like me you were fighting, it would still be the two of you?’白寒枫怒吼一声,挥掌便向韦小宝头顶击落。苏冈左手伸出,抓住白寒枫手腕,说道:“白二弟,不可!”Young Bo let out a bellow of rage and raised his hand in the air intending to bring it down on Trinket’s head, but Su Gang’s own hand shot out and seized him by the wrist. ‘No, Maple, you mustn’t!’白寒枫叫道:“这……这小鬼讥刺我死了的哥哥。”韦小宝贪图口舌之便,没想到连已死的白寒松也说在其内,眼见他犹如发疯一般,心下害怕,便不敢再说。This . . . this brat is insulting my dead brother,’ Young Bo cried. Trinket had aimed his quip at the living brother, not thinking about the dead one. Seeing Young Bo once again half demented with grief and rage, he became afraid and decided not to open his mouth again.

  苏冈道:“白二弟,冤有头,债有主,是那姓徐的害死了白大哥,咱们只能找那姓徐的算帐。”’Maple, ‘ said Su Gang, ‘the person who gives offence is the one who has to pay. It’s Xu Tianchuan who murdered your brother. He is the one you have to settle accounts with. You mustn’t keep going for other people.’白寒枫狠狠的向韦小宝道:“终有一日,我抽你的筋,剥你的皮。”Young Bo eyed Trinket murderously. ‘One of these days I’m going to skin you alive and tear out your sinews, ‘ he snarled.韦小宝向他伸伸舌头,料想苏冈在旁,白寒枫不能对自己怎样,真要抽筋剥皮,总也不是今日的事。Trinket stuck his tongue out. As long as Su Gang was there, he calculated, Young Bo couldn’t touch him. If he was going to skin him alive and tear his sinews out, it wouldn’t be today at any rate.

  樊纲道:“苏四哥,你说白大侠给我们徐大哥害死,这个‘害’字,恐怕还得斟酌。白二侠说道,双方在天坛比武较量,徐大哥以一敌二,’Mr Su, ‘ said Brother Fan, ‘you said a moment ago that Mr Bo was “murdered” by our Brother Xu. Surely “murder” isn’t quite the word? Young Mr Bo himself has just told us that the two parties met by appointment and that Brother Xu was fighting on his own against the two of them:既不是使什么阴谋毒计,又不是恃多为胜,乃是光明正大的动手过招,怎说得上一个‘害’字?”there was no secret plotting or surprise ambush and you certainly couldn’t say that Mr Bo was outnumbered. It was open combat. How can you call that murder?’白寒枫怒道:“我哥哥自然是给老贼害死的。我兄弟俩去天坛赴约之前曾经商量过。’Of course he was murdered, ‘ said Young Bo angrily. ‘Before we went to keep this appointment, my brother and I had already talked it over and decided what we would do.我哥哥说道,这老儿虽然头脑胡涂,不明白天命所归,终究是反清复明的同道,My brother said that although the person we were going to fight was a stupid, wrong-headed old man who didn’t understand about things like divine right and the will of heaven, he was after all one of us in so far as he was a member of the Resistance and working, like us, towards a Ming restoration.比武之时,须当瞧在天地会的份上,只可点到为止,不能当真伤了他。Out of respect for the Triad Society, he said, we ought to agree in advance that a touch on one of the vital points would count as a win. We wouldn’t actually hurt him.我两兄弟手下留情,哪料到这老贼心肠好毒,竟下杀手,害死了我哥哥。”So in this duel we were deliberately holding back. We weren’t expecting him to take advantage of that and strike to kill. That’s why I call it murder.’

  苏冈问道:“那姓徐的怎生害死了白大弟?”白寒枫道:“我们动上手,拆了四十几招,也没分出什么输赢。’So how did he do that?’ Su Gang asked him. ‘After we’d each delivered and parried about forty attacks without either side gaining any definite advantage, ‘ said Young Bo,那老贼跳出圈子,拱手道:‘佩服,佩服!今日不分胜败,不用再比了。沐王府武功驰名天下,果然高明。’”’the old villain jumped clear of us, clasped his hands and bowed. “I’m truly impressed,” he said. “Neither side is winning. Let’s call it quits and not fight any more. It’s no wonder Duke Mu’s people are famous throughout China,” he said. “You’re brilliant fighters.”‘

  樊纲道:“那很好啊,大家就不用再打了,免伤和气,岂不甚好?”’Why, that was excellent, ‘ said Brother Fan. ‘No need to fight any more. You could have parted then with no ill feelings. What was wrong with that?’

  白寒枫怒道:“你又没瞧见那老贼说话的神气,你还道他真是好心吗?’You didn’t see the expression on his face while he was saying it, ‘ said Young Bo angrily. ‘You don’t think he really meant it, do you?他嘴角边微微冷笑,显然是说,沐王府的白氏双木以二敌一,也胜不了他一个老头儿,什么‘武功驰名天下’,只不过是吹牛而已。He’d got a little smile on his face as much as to say, “If two of Duke Mu’s people fighting against one old man can’t get the better of him, all that talk about being famous throughout China is a lot of empty boasting.”我当然心下有气,便道:‘不分胜败,便打到分出胜败为止。’Naturally I was angry. I said, “If neither of us is winning, we’d better go on fighting until one of us is.”这老头虽然灵活,长力却不及我兄弟,斗久了非输不可,他想不打,不过想乘机溜去。Although he was so light on his feet, his strength wasn’t equal to the combined strength of the two of us and he knew that in the long run he was bound to lose. That’s the only reason he wanted to stop fighting. It was just an excuse to get away.于是我们又打了起来,打了好一会,我使一招‘龙腾虎跃’,从半空中扑击下来。’Anyway, we went on fighting then for quite a while until I did a Tiger’s Leap and came down on him from above.那老贼果然上当,侧身斜避。这一招我两兄弟是练熟了的,我哥哥便使‘横扫千军’,左腿向右横扫,右臂向左横击,叫他避无可避。”That fooled him, because as he ducked aside to avoid me, my brother simultaneously did a Two Way Sweep. We’d practised this together many times in the past. In the Two Way Sweep you swing your left leg to the right at the same time as you swing your right hand towards the left, so that your opponent has no means of avoiding you.’他说到这里,将“横扫千军”那一招比了出来。He demonstrated it for them.

  玄贞道人点头道:“这一招左右夹击,令人左躲不是,右躲也不是,果然厉害。”Father Obscurus nodded. ‘Hm. Yes. Striking from both sides. I can see there’s no getting away from that one. Very neat.’

  白寒枫道:“这老贼身子一缩,忽然向我哥哥怀中撞到。

  我哥哥双掌一翻,按在他胸膛之上,笑道:“哈哈,你输……’The old villain seemed to crumple up and fall towards my brother,’ Young Bo continued. This was just as we’d planned. As he fell, my brother’s two hands were ready to thrust against his chest. My brother laughed. “Ha ha!” he said. “You’ve lost!”;就在这时,噗的一声响,那老贼却好不毒辣,竟然使出重手。but even while he was saying it there was a sickening thump as the old villain hit him a murderous double body-blow.我眼见势道不对,一招‘高山流水’,双掌先后击在那老贼的背心。那老贼身子一晃,退了开去。我哥哥已然口喷鲜血,坐倒在地。I could see that something was wrong and did a Cataract on the old villain’s back–one wo, one two in rapid succession–which made him stagger. But my brother was already on his knees on the ground, vomiting blood.我好生焦急,忙去扶起哥哥,那老贼干笑了几声,一跛一拐的走了。I rushed in a panic to lift him up, while the old villain laughed and went limping slowly away.我本可追上前去,补上几拳,立时将他打死,但顾念着哥哥的伤势,没空去理会那老贼。I could easily have run after him and given him a few more hacks to finish him off, but I was too worried about my brother, who seemed to be seriously wounded, to bother about anything else.我抱着哥哥回到家来,他在途中只说了四个字:‘给我报仇。’便咽了气,苏四哥……咱们此仇不报,枉自为人!”说到这里,泪如泉涌。My brother died in my arms on the way back home. All he managed to say before he died were the words “Avenge my death.” If I don’t avenge him, Su, I shan’t be able to call myself a man.’ At this point he burst into a flood of tears.

  玄贞道人转头向一人道:“风二弟,白二侠刚才所说的那几招,咱们来比划比划。”Father Obscurus turned to address the Triad who stood beside him. ‘Brother Feng, what about you and me trying to demonstrate those last few movements that Mr Bo has just described to us?’

  这姓风的名叫风际中,模样貌不惊人、土里土气。昨日在回春堂药店地窖中引见之后,从未开口说过话,韦小宝也没对他留意。The person thus addressed was an unprepossessing, somewhat oafish-looking individual whom Trinket had not heard utter a single word since the time he was introduced to him in the underground chamber at the apothecary’s and whose presence he had up to now barely noticed.他点点头站起,发掌轻飘飘的向玄贞拍出。Brother Feng nodded wordlessly, rose to his feet, and made a light feint at Father Obscurus,

  玄贞左掌架开,身子一缩,双手五指都拿成了爪子,活脱是只猴子一般,显是模仿“八臂猿猴”徐天川的架式。who, having first parried it with his left hand, assumed a hunched-up, crouching attitude, arms held out widely from his sides and fingers curled into claws, in exact imitation of the ape-like posture that had earned Brother Xu his nickname.风际中左足一点,身子跃起,从半空中扑击下来。With a stamp of his left foot Brother Feng now launched himself into a parabolic leap, so high that he appeared to be diving down on Father Obscurus’s head.姚春叫道:“好一招‘龙腾虎跃’!”叫声未毕,玄贞已斜身闪开。That’s the Tiger’s Leap,’ said Yao Chun approvingly. ‘A good one.’ Father Obscurus had meanwhile dodged aside to avoid this human projectile,便在此时,风际中倏地抢到玄贞身前,左腿向右横扫,右臂向左横掠,正是白寒枫适才比划过的那一招“横扫千军”。 but the latter had miraculously righted himself and now stood in front of him, executing, with left leg and right arm, the Two Way Sweep that Young Bo had himself been demonstrating a few moments previously.

  风际中一身化而为二,刚使完白寒枫的一招“龙腾虎跃”,跟着便移形换位,抢到玄贞道人身前,使出白寒松那招“横扫千军”,身法之快,实是匪夷所思。The speed and agility with which this bumpkin-like individual had moved from the Tiger’s Leap of the younger brother to the Two Way Sweep of the elder was so fantastic that it was easy for the spectators to imagine them being performed not by one man in succession but by two men simultaneously.众人喝彩声中,玄贞缩拢身子,直撞入对方怀中。Even as they were applauding, Father Obscurus seemed to shrink in on himself and fall towards Brother Feng’s body.风际中双掌急推,按在玄贞胸口,说道:“哈哈,你输……”Brother Feng thrust his hands out against his chest, somewhat woodenly uttering the first words he had spoken yet: ‘Ha ha! You’ve lost!’便在这时,玄贞右拳击在风际中胸口,左掌拍中他小腹。两人拳掌都放在对方身上,凝住不动。玄贞道:“白二侠,当时情景,是不是这样?”But as he did so, Father Obscurus’s right fist shot out to his midriff and his left fist lower down to his belly. For a few moments the two men stood frozen in that position, each having both hands in contact with his opponent’s body. ‘Is this right, Mr Bo?’ said Father Obscurus. ‘Is this how it was?’

  白寒枫尚未回答,风际中身子一晃,闪到了玄贞背后,双掌从自己脸面右侧直劈下来,虚拟玄贞的背心,说道:“高山流水!”But before Young Bo could answer, Brother Feng jumped clear, slipped with lightning speed behind Father Obscurus and, with palms held vertical and parallel to the right of his own face, proceeded to make successive karate-chops on his back, saying, by way of explanation, The Cataract.’这两掌并没碰到玄贞身子,众人眼前一花,他又已站在玄贞面前,双掌按住他胸口,让玄贞的拳掌按住自己腹部,回复先前的姿式。The chops were, needless to say, only simulated and barely touched Father Obscurus’s body. Then once again, with a speed that made the onlookers feel dizzy, he jumped back to his former position, both hands on Father Obscurus’s chest, while Father Obscurus placed his fists exactly as before against Brother Feng’s midriff and belly.

  这两下倏去倏来,直如鬼魅,这些人除了韦小宝外,均是见多识广之人,但风际中这等迅捷无伦的身手,却是见所未见。Apart from Trinket, all those present were highly skilled, experienced men who had seen a great deal of fighting in their time, but never in their lives had they witnessed anything to match the uncanny agility and artistry of Brother Feng.众人骇佩之余,都已明白了他的用意,It took them a few moments to recover from their wonderment before they realized what the real purpose of this demonstration was:当时徐天川以一敌二,情势凶险无比,倘若对白寒松下手稍有留情,只怕难逃背后白寒枫“高山流水”的这一击。fighting alone against two such opponents, Brother Xu, at the moment he dealt the elder Bo his death-blow, was in an impossibly dangerous situation. There could have been no question of his ‘holding back’, as Young Bo claimed he ought to have been doing. If he had, Young Bo would undoubtedly have finished him off with his Cataract.玄贞又道:“白二侠,当时情景,是不是这样?”Father Obscurus now repeated his question. ‘Is this right, Mr Bo? Is this how it was?’

  白寒枫脸如死灰,缓缓点了点头。风际中身法兔起鹘落,固然令人目眩神驰,而他模仿自己两兄弟这几下招式,竟也部位手法丝毫无误,宛然便是自己师父教出来的一般。Young Bo, ashen-faced now, nodded reluctantly. It was not just the dazzling skill of the demonstration but the fact that Brother Feng had executed these movements in exactly the way, down to the minutest detail, that Young Bo and his brother had been taught them by their Martial Arts instructor. “龙腾虎跃”、“高山流水”和“横扫千军”三招,都是“沐家拳”中的著名招式,流传天下,识者甚多,The Tiger’s Leap, the Cataract, and the Two Way Sweep belonged, all three, to a style of fighting developed in the household of Duke Mu. The ‘Mu Family Style’ was known to connoisseurs of all-in wrestling all over China and had many imitators.风际中会使,倒也不奇,但以一人而使这三招拳脚,前后易位,身法之快,实所罕见,加之每一招都是清清楚楚,中规中式,法度严整,自己兄弟毕生练的都是“沐家拳”,却也远所不及。There was nothing unusual in Brother Feng being familiar with these movements. What shook Young Bo was the fact that he had been able to perform them with a textbook precision and at a speed that he and his brother, who had practised them all their lives, could probably not have equalled.

  风际中收掌站立,说道:“道长,请除下道袍,得罪了!”Brother Feng dropped his hands to his sides and addressed Father Obscurus. ‘Sorry, Father. Would you mind taking off your gown?’玄贞一怔,不明他的用意,但依言除下道袍,略一抖动,忽然两块布片从道袍上飘了下来,却是两只手掌之形,道袍胸口处赫然是两个掌印的空洞。Father Obscurus was somewhat startled by this request, but complied with it none the less. He took off his Taoist robe and gave it a shake. As he did so, two pieces of cloth fluttered from it to the floor, and when he held up the gown to look, there were two large holes in it where Brother Feng’s hands had been thrust against his chest.原来适才风际中已用掌力震烂了他道袍。玄贞不禁脸上变色,情不自禁的伸手按住胸口,心想风际中的掌力既将柔软的道袍震烂,自己决无不受内伤之理,一摸之下,胸口却也不觉有何异状。He felt his chest in some alarm. A force sufficient to make holes in his gown must surely have caused considerable internal injury. But he appeared to be unhurt.

  风际中道:“白大侠掌上阴力,远胜在下。徐大哥胸口早已受了极重内伤,再加上背心受了‘高山流水’的双掌之力,只怕性命难保。”’Mr Bo’s strike would have had more force in it than mine,’ said Brother Feng. ‘After two such blows to the chest and the Cataract on top of that I doubt the old man will live…..,’

  众人见风际中以阴柔掌力,割出玄贞道袍上两个掌印,这等功力,比之适才一身化二、前后夹攻的功力,更是惊人,Brother Feng’s demonstration of an Inner Force so intense that it could make holes in clothing without damaging the body beneath it impressed the onlookers even more than his single-handed enactment of the simultaneous movements of the two brothers.无不骇然,连喝彩也都忘了。韦小宝心想:“海老乌龟当日在我袍子胸口上割下一个掌印,只怕用的也是这种手段。”So astonished were they in fact, that they forgot to applaud. Trinket was reminded of the holes that had appeared in his own gown the morning after his battering by the old eunuch. What had then seemed supernatural must evidently have been caused by some secret art known also to Brother Feng.苏冈和白寒枫对望了一眼,均是神色沮丧,眼见风际中如此武功,己方任谁都和他相去甚远,Su Gang and Young Bo exchanged glances, both looking extremely glum. It was obvious that Brother Feng’s martial skill greatly exceeded their own.又给他这等试演一番,显得徐天川虽然下重手杀了人,却也是迫于无奈,在白氏兄弟厉害杀手前后夹击之下,奋力自保,算不得如何理亏。It was also obvious that the double blow which had proved fatal to the elder Bo had been struck by old Brother Xu in self-defence, when he was caught between the deadly pounding of the two brothers: a desperate reaction to a desperate situation for which he could not reasonably be blamed.

  苏冈站起身来,说道:“这位风爷武功高强,好教在下今日大开眼界。倘若我白大弟真有风爷的武功,也决不会给那姓徐的害死了。”There’s no doubt about it, this Mr Feng is a real master,’ said Su Gang. ‘It’s certainly been an eye-opener for me, what I’ve just seen. I’m sure if my friend Bo had had such skill, he would still be alive today.’

  韦小宝道:“白大侠的武功是极高的,江湖上众所周知,苏四侠也不必客气了。”’You’re just being polite, Mr Su,’ said Trinket. ‘Everyone knows that the elder Mr Bo’s fighting skills were first-class.’白寒枫狠狠瞪了他一眼,可又不能说自己兄长武功不行。韦小宝又道:“白二侠的武功也是挺高的,江湖上众所周知。”Young Bo glared at him murderously, but could scarcely object to his own brother being praised. ‘And everyone knows that the younger Mr Bo’s fighting skills are first-class,’ Trinket added.

  樊纲生怕他更说出无聊的话来,多生枝节,向苏冈和白寒枫拱手道:“今日多有打扰,这就别过。”Brother Fan, afraid that he was about to make some provocative remark that would create further complications, hastily intervened. ‘I think we’ve already caused you enough trouble for one day, ‘ he said, clasping his hands and bowing politely to Su Gang and Young Bo. ‘I think we had better be going.’玄贞道:“且慢!大伙儿到白大侠灵前去磕几个头。这件事……这件事,唉,说来大家心里难受,可别伤了沐王府跟天地会的和气。”说着迈步便往后堂走去。’Hold on a minute!’ said Father Obscurus. ‘Shouldn’t we first make our kowtows to the dead? This business–oh dear!–it’s all very distressing. But we mustn’t allow it to damage the good relations between Duke Mu’s people and our Society.’ As he said this he began moving towards the inner hall,

  白寒枫双手一拦,厉声道:“我哥哥死不瞑目,不用你们假惺惺了。”but was halted by Young Bo, who barred the way with his arms. ‘My brother is still waiting to be revenged, ‘ he said fiercely. ‘He doesn’t need your false sympathy.’玄贞道:“白二侠,别说这是比武失手,误伤了白大侠,’Look, Mr Bo, ‘ said Father Obscurus, ‘I’m not going to argue that your brother’s death was one of those unfortunate accidents that sometimes happen in fights when a blow lands in the wrong place.就算真是我们徐大哥的不是,你也不能恨上了天地会全体。But even if Brother Xu intended your brother’s death as you say he did, you can’t make out that the whole Triad Society is to blame.我们到灵前一拜,乃是武林中同道的义气。”苏冈道:“道长说得是。白二弟,咱们不可失了礼数。”We only want to pay him our respects. It’s the least we can do, as fellow-soldiers in the same cause.’ ‘Father Obscurus is right, Maple,’ said Su Gang. ‘We mustn’t refuse a courtesy.’

  当下韦小宝、玄贞、樊纲、风际中、姚春、马博仁等一干人齐到白寒松的灵前磕头。So Trinket, Father Obscurus, Brother Fan, Brother Feng, Dr Yao, old Ma, and the rest went into the other hall, knelt down in front of the coffin and made their kowtows,

  韦小宝一面磕头,一面口中念念有词,磕了三个头,站起身来。白寒枫厉声道:“你刚才说些什么?”Young Bo observed that Trinket was muttering to himself all the time he was on his knees. When, after the third kowtow, he got up, he asked him suspiciously what he had been saying.韦小宝道:“我暗暗祷祝,向白大侠在天之灵说话,关你什么事?”’I was praying,’ said Trinket. ‘I was talking to your brother’s soul in Heaven. What business is it of yours what I was saying?’白寒枫道:“你嘴里不清不楚,祷祝些什么?”’Praying?’ said Young Bo. ‘It didn’t sound like it.’ ‘韦小宝道:“我说:‘白大侠,你先走一步,也没什么。在下韦小宝,给你的好兄弟打得遍体鳞伤,命不长久,过几天就来阴世,跟你老人家相会了。’”I told your brother not to worry,’ said Trinket. ‘I said, “Your younger brother has beaten me black and blue all over, I’m probably not going to live much longer. Just a day or two more,” I told him, “and I’ll be keeping you company up there.”‘白寒枫道:“我几时打过你了?”韦小宝拉起衣袖,露出右腕,只见手腕上肿起了又黑又紫的一圈,指痕宛然,正是刚才给白寒枫捏伤的,说道:“这不是你打的么?”’When did I ever beat you?’ said Young Bo. Trinket rolled back his left sleeve and showed a bruised and swollen wrist on which the finger-marks of the hand which had gripped it were still distinctly visible. ‘What’s this then?’ he said.苏冈向白寒枫瞧了一眼,见他不加否认,脸上就微有责备之意,转头向韦小宝道:“韦香主,这件事一言难尽。咱们日后慢慢再说。”Su Gang glanced at Young Bo. His face assumed a reproachful expression when the latter made no attempt to disown his handiwork. ‘Mr Wei,’ he said apologetically, ‘this matter obviously needs looking into. Do you think we could discuss it at a later date?’韦小宝道:“只怕我伤重不治,一命呜呼,日后也没什么可说的了。”’I think I’m too badly hurt to get better,’ said Trinket. ‘At a later date I probably shan’t be alive to discuss it.’苏冈见他说话流利,毫无受伤之相,知他是耍无赖,心想:“天地会怎地叫这样一个小流氓做香主?”He was talking in a normal tone of voice and didn’t sound at all like a person who had been seriously injured. Su Gang concluded that he was merely playing with them and asked himself, not for the first time, how on earth the Triads had come to choose this juvenile delinquent for their Master.说道:“韦香主长命百岁,大伙儿都死光了,你还活上几十岁呢。”’I’m sure you’ll outlive us all, Mr Wei,’ he said. ‘You have at least forty or fifty years ahead of you.’韦小宝道:“我此刻腹痛如绞,五脏六腑,全都倒转,也不知能不能活到明天。’I’ve got a terrible pain in my belly and my insides feel as if they’ve been turned inside out and twisted upside down,’ said Trinket. ‘I feel at the moment that I’ll be lucky if I last till tomorrow.风二哥,玄贞道长,我倘若死了,你们不必找白二侠报仇。江湖上义气为重,咱们可不能伤了沐王府跟天地会的和气。”Father Obscurus, Brother Feng, if I should die, don’t try to avenge my death on Mr Bo. It’s our cause that matters. I don’t want you to do anything that might spoil things between Duke Mu’s lot and the Triads.’

  苏冈皱起了眉头,将众人送出门外。玄贞向马博仁、姚春、雷一啸、王武通四人道了劳,抱拳作别。Su Gang frowned and hurriedly conducted Trinket and his party to the door. When they were outside, Father Obscurus thanked Ma Boren and the other professionals for their trouble and then the two parties, Triads and professional witnesses, went their separate ways.

  天地会一行人回到回春堂药店。刚到店门口,就见情形不对,When they got back to the apothecary’s shop, the Triads could see, as soon as they opened the door, that something was wrong.柜台倒坍,药店中百余只小抽屜和药材散了一地。The counter had collapsed under some heavy weight and the hundreds of little drawers in which the drugs were stored had been emptied and lay amidst their scattered contents in promiscuous confusion on the floor.众人抢进店去,叫了几声,不听得有人答应,到得内堂,只见那胖掌柜和两名伙计都已死在地下。这药店地处偏僻,一时倒无人聚观。They rushed inside the shop shouting, but there was no reply from the fat apothecary or his two assistants. They found all three of them lying dead in the inner room. The shop was in a quiet, out-of-the-way area, otherwise there would have been a crowd of onlookers by now;

  玄贞吩咐高彦超:“上了门板,别让闲人进来。咱们快去看徐大哥。”but just in case someone should arrive and try to get in, Father Obscurus told Brother Gao to bar the door on the inside before they went to look for Brother Xu.拉开地板上的掩盖,奔进地窖,叫道:“徐大哥,徐大哥!”地窖中空空如也,徐天川已不知去向。樊纲愤怒大叫:“他奶奶的,咱们去跟沐王府那些贼子拚个你死我活。”That done, they took up the cover of the secret stairway and rushed to the underground chamber, shouting as they went. But Brother Xu had disappeared without trace. ‘Bastards!’ Brother Fan shouted furiously. ‘What bastards those Mu turtles are! Back we go, then! And this time it’s a fight to the finish.’

  玄贞道:“快去请王总镖头他们来作个见证。”玄贞道:“他们若要害死徐大哥,已在这里下手,既将他掳去,不会即行加害。”当下派出人去,将王武通、姚春等四人请来。’No, just a minute,’ said Father Obscurus. ‘Let’s think. If they’d been going to kill him, they’d have done it here. The fact that they’ve kidnapped him means that they can’t be intending to kill him–not just yet, anyway.’ He turned to another of the Triads: ‘Hurry, quick as you can to the Agency. Tell Wang Wutong and the other three that we need them again as witnesses.’

  王武通等见到胖掌柜的死状,都感愤怒,齐道:“事不宜迟,咱们立即到杨柳胡同去要人。”The four professionals arrived in due course and inspected the shambles. They were appalled by what they saw and very angry. All agreed that they should go back to Young Bo’s place without delay and insist that Brother Xu be delivered up to them.一行人又到杨柳胡同。白寒枫开门出来,冷冷的道:“众位又来干什么了?”And so the Triads and their four witnesses set out once more for Willow Lane. This time it was Young Bo himself who opened the door to them. ‘So what do you want now?’ he asked them coldly.樊纲大声道:“白二侠何必明知故问?这等行径,太也给沐王府丢脸。”’Why ask, when you know the answer?’ Brother Fan bellowed back at him. This job you’ve just done is disgusting. I didn’t think you people could stoop so low.’白寒枫怒道:“丢什么脸?什么行径?”’Stoop so low?’ said Young Bo angrily. ‘I don’t understand you. What job are you talking about?’樊纲道:“我们徐大哥在哪里?快送他出来。你们乘人不备,杀死了我们回春堂的三个伙计,当真卑鄙下流。”’Where’s Brother Xu?’ said Brother Fan. ‘Hand him over to us at once! Sneaking over to our apothecary’s and killing our employees when you knew we wouldn’t be there: I call that really low.’白寒枫大声道:“胡说八道!什么回春堂、回秋堂、什么三个伙计?”’Don’t talk nonsense!’ Young Bo shouted back at him. ‘I don’t know anything about your apothecary or your employees.’

  苏冈闻声出来,问道:“众位去而复回,有什么见教?”Su Gang appeared now, drawn by the noise of the shouting. ‘Ah, you’re back again, gentlemen. What can we do for you?’ he asked the Triads.

  雷一啸道:“苏四侠,这一件事,那可是你们的不是了。’Mr Su,’ said Tiger Face Lei gravely, ‘I suppose it’s for some other judgement to decide, but I must say I think in this case you people really are in the wrong.

  是非难逃公论,你们就算要报仇,也不能任意杀害无辜啊。京城之中做了这等事出来,牵累可是不小。”I can understand your wanting revenge, but to wantonly kill innocent people, and in the Capital too–the consequences are liable to be very serious.’

  苏冈问白寒枫:“他们说什么?”白寒枫道:“谁知道呢,真是莫名其妙。”Su Gang turned to Young Bo in perplexity. ‘What is he talking about?’ ‘Don’t ask me,’ said Young Bo. ‘I haven’t the faintest idea.’

  王武通道:“苏四侠、白二侠,天地会落脚之处,有三个伙计给人杀了,徐天川师傅也给人掳了去。这件事的是非曲直,’Mr Su, Mr Bo,’ said Wang Wutong, ‘three employees have been killed at the apothecary’s shop which is the Triad Society’s safe house in the Capital and Xu Tianchuan, who was hidden there, has been kidnapped. Let’s for the moment forget about the rights and wrongs of this business:大家慢慢再说,请你们瞧着我们几个的薄面,先放了徐师傅。”they can be discussed later. All I’m asking now, as a personal favour to me and my three colleagues, is that you should release Mr Xu and hand him back to the Triads.’苏冈奇道:“徐天川给人掳了么?那可奇了!各位定然疑心是我们干的了。可是各位一直跟我们在一起,难道谁还有分身术不成?”’Are you saying that Xu Tianchuan has been kidnapped?’ Su Gang asked in some surprise. ‘How extraordinary! I can see that you would naturally suspect us first, but don’t forget that we were here all the time with you when this is supposed to have happened. We could hardly be in two places at once.’樊纲道:“你们当然另行派人下手,那又是什么难事?”苏冈道:“各位不信,那也没法。你们要进来搜查,尽管请便。”’No, but there was nothing to stop you sending someone to do the job for you,’ said Brother Fan. ‘I can’t help it if you don’t believe me,’ said Su Gang. ‘You are welcome to come inside and search the house if you like.’

  白寒枫大声道:“‘圣手居士’苏冈苏四哥说话向来一是一、二是二,几时有过半句虚言?’Magic Hand has always been a man of his word,’ said Young Bo loudly. ‘If he says the old man isn’t here, that ought to be enough for you.老实跟你说,那姓徐的老贼倘若落在我们手里,立时就一刀两段,谁还耐烦捉了来耗费米饭养他?”For my part, I don’t mind telling you that if the old villain ever did fall into my hands, I’d chop him in half immediately. I wouldn’t waste good food on keeping him a prisoner.’苏冈沉吟道:“这中间只怕另有别情。在下冒昧,想到贵会驻马之处去瞧上一瞧,不知道成不成?”There must be something else behind this,’ said Su Gang musingly. ‘I’d like to suggest that you allow us to come over to this safe house of yours and have a look. Do you think we could?’玄贞等见他二人神情不似作伪,一时倒拿不定主意。The Triads were now in something of a quandary. It looked as if Su Gang and Young Bo were innocent of the kidnapping, but they weren’t quite sure.樊纲道:“苏四侠,大伙儿请你拿一句话出来,到底我们徐天川徐大哥,是不是在你们手上。”’Look, Mr Su, ‘ said Brother Fan, ‘I think we’d feel happier if you could give us some sort of definite assurance that Xu Tianchuan is not in your hands.’苏冈摇头道:“没有。我可担保,我们白二弟跟这件事也丝毫没有干系。”’He’s not,’ said Su Gang. ‘I give you my solemn word for it. And I give you my word that Mr Bo has nothing to do with this kidnapping either.’苏冈在武林中名声甚响,众人都知他是个正直的好汉子,他既说没拿到徐天川,应该不假。Su Gang was a man of honour whose honesty was a byword among professional fighting men. If he gave his word that Brother Xu was not being held at Willow Lane, the Triads felt pretty confident that he was not there.

  玄贞道:“既是如此,请两位同到敝处瞧瞧。韦香主,你说怎样?”’In that case,’ said Father Obscurus, ‘please do come to our place and have a look.’ He turned to Trinket. That’s all right, Master, isn’t it?’

  韦小宝心道:“你先邀人家去瞧瞧,再问我,‘你说怎样’。”说道:“道长说怎样,就是怎样了。’Why ask me?’ thought Trinket. ‘You’ve already invited them.’ ‘If you say so, Father Obscurus,’ he said.反正我们三个人都给人家打死了,请他们两位去磕几个头赔罪,也合道理啊。”’Anyway, three of our people have been killed so while they’re about it they’ll be able to make a few kowtows to them to show us that they’re sorry. It’s only right they should.’

  苏冈、白寒枫都向他瞪了一眼,均想:“你这小鬼,一口就此咬定,是我们打死了你们三个人。”Su Gang and Young Bo stared at him indignantly. The unspeakable brat was as good as accusing them of the three murders.一行人来到回春堂中,苏冈、白寒枫细看那胖掌柜与两名药店店伙的死状,So they all trooped back to the apothecary’s, accompanied this time by the two from Willow Lane, who made a careful inspection of the corpses.都是身受殴击毙命,胸口肋骨崩断,手法甚是寻常,瞧不出使的是什么武功家数。They could see that the bodies of all three, the fat apothecary and his two assistants, had been brutally assaulted, their ribs broken, and their chests stoved in towards the spine. It was the work of crude assassins, not of anyone properly trained in the Martial Arts.白寒枫道:“这件事大伙儿须得查个水落石出,否则我们可蒙了不白之冤。”’We must definitely get to the bottom of this, ‘ said Young Bo. ‘It’s not right that we should be blamed for it.’苏冈道:“蒙上不白之冤,那也不打紧,日后总会水落石出。只是徐大哥落入了敌人手中,可得尽快想法子救人。”’Never mind who is to blame, ‘ said Su Gang. ‘No doubt the truth will emerge eventually but it will take some time. The important thing now is that Xu Tianchuan is in enemy hands. We must find a way of rescuing him as soon as possible.’

  众人在药店前前后后查察,又到地窖中细看,寻不到半点端倪。They combed through the shop from front to back without finding anything, then went down below into the secret chamber, but still they could find no clue.眼见天色已晚,苏冈、白寒枫、王武通等人告辞回家,约定分头在北京城中探访,As it was getting late, the two from Willow Lane and the four professionals began their leave-taking, arranging before they went each to carry out investigations in different parts of the city.樊纲道:“苏四侠、白二侠,你们瞧明白了没有?今晚半夜,我们可要放火烧屋,毁尸灭迹了。”苏冈点头道:“都瞧明白了。好在邻近无人,将店铺烧了也好,免得官府查问。”Brother Fan asked Su Gang and Young Bo if they had seen all they wanted to see. ‘Make sure you have, ‘ he said. ‘As there’s no one living nearby, we’ll be setting fire to this place some time round about midnight to get rid of the bodies. We don’t want the authorities nosing in on this.’

  苏冈和白寒枫去后,青木堂众人纷纷议论,As soon as Su Gang and Young Bo had gone, a long discussion began among the Triads about what had happened.都说徐天川定是给沐王府掳去的,否则哪有迟不迟、早不早,刚打死了对方的人,徐天川便失了踪?All agreed that Brother Xu’s kidnapping was almost certainly the work of the Mu faction, otherwise his disappearance at precisely the time when the shop was ransacked and the apothecary and his assistants killed made no sort of sense.最多是苏冈、白寒枫二人并不知情而已。The most that could be said in Su Gang and Young Bo’s defence was that it could have been done by other members of the Mu clan without their connivance.众人跟着商议如何放火烧屋。Having dealt with that question, they began discussing the means they would employ to burn down the shop.韦小宝一听得要放火烧屋,登时大为兴奋。玄贞道:“韦香主,天色已晚,你得赶快回皇宫去。Here was a matter to engage Trinket’s excited attention; but Father Obscurus warned him against taking part. ‘It’s getting late, Master, ‘ he said. ‘You’d better be getting back to the Palace.咱们放火烧屋,并不是什么大事,韦香主不在这儿主持大局,想来也不会出什么岔子。”There’s not much to it really, burning a shop down. We ought to be able to manage it all right ourselves without your supervision.’韦小宝笑道:“道长,自己兄弟,你也不用捧我啦。韦小宝虽然充了他妈的香主,Trinket laughed. ‘Come on, Father Obscurus, you don’t have to pretend with me. I’ve only got this tamardy Master’s job because I was made to;武功见识,哪里及得上各位武林好手?我要留在这里,不过想瞧瞧热闹罢了。”I’m not an experienced fighter like the rest of you. The only reason I wanted to stay was to join in the fun.’

  众人面子上对他客气,但见他年幼,在白家又出了个大丑,实在颇有点瞧不起他,Up to now the Triads’ attitude to Trinket had superficially been polite and courteous, but because of his extreme youth and the fact that he had let them down so badly in the Willow Lane encounter, they were secretly contemptuous of him.听他这么说,却高兴起来。他这几句话说得人人心中舒畅。大家对这个小香主敬意虽是不加,亲近之心却陡然多了几分。In contrast, the boyish frankness of what he had just said struck them as strangely touching; and though they felt no more respect for their little Master now than they had done previously, they began to look on him with a new-found warmth.

  玄贞笑道:“咱们放火烧屋,也得半夜里才动手,还得打断火路,以免火势蔓延,波及邻居。韦香主一夜不回宫,恐怕不大方便。”’We shan’t set fire to this place until well after midnight, ‘ said Father Obscurus smiling, ‘and even after that we shall have to hang around a long time to make sure it doesn’t spread. It might be a bit awkward if you were to spend the whole night outside the Palace.’韦小宝心想此言倒也有理,天一黑宫门便闭,再也无人能入,自己得小皇帝宠幸,宫中人人注目,违禁外宿,罪名可是不小,Trinket knew he was right. The Palace gates were closed at nightfall and after that no one could get in or out. He was the Emperor’s favourite and for that very reason conspicuous, and spending the night outside without permission was an offence carrying the direst penalties.只得叹了口气,道:“可惜,可惜!这把火如果让我来点,那可兴头得紧了。”高彦超低声道:“日后咱们要是白天去烧人家的屋,一定恭请韦香主来点火。”He yielded with a sigh. ‘What a pity! I’d so like to have been the one to start the fire.’ Brother Gao, in a softly spoken aside, did his best to comfort him. ‘If we ever have to burn a house down in daylight, Master, ‘ he said, ‘we’ll definitely ask you to start it.’韦小宝大喜,握住他手道:“高大哥,大丈夫一言既出,你……你可不能忘了。”Trinket brightened immediately and grasped his hand. ‘Promise, Brother Gao? On your face and troth? Mind you don’t forget!’高彦超微笑道:“韦香主吩咐过的事,属下怎敢不遵?”韦小宝道:“咱们明天就去杨柳胡同,放火烧了白家的屋可好?”’Your wish is our command.’ ‘Couldn’t we go to Willow Lane tomorrow then, and burn down Young Bo’s place?’高彦超吓了一跳,忙道:“这可须得从长计议。总舵主知道了,多半要大大怪罪。”Brother Gao was alarmed. This was more than he had bargained for. ‘Not tomorrow, ‘ he said hurriedly. ‘That’s something that would need a lot of thinking about. Anyway, the Helmsman probably wouldn’t be too pleased if he got to hear about it.’韦小宝登时意兴索然,便去换了小太监的服色。高彦超将他换下来的新置衣服鞋帽包做一包,拿在手里。Trinket’s elation quickly vanished and he went off disconsolately to change back into his eunuch’s uniform. When he had done so, Brother Gao collected together the clothes, shoes, and other items of his disguise and made them up into a bundle which he carried for him.众人四下查勘,并无沐王府的人窥伺,这才将韦小宝夹在中间,送到横街之上,雇了一乘小轿,送他回宫。The Triads, having first made a quick reconnaissance of the neighbourhood to make sure that none of Duke Mu’s people were spying on them, grouped themselves round him in a protective knot and escorted him up to the main road, where they hired a closed chair that would take him back to the Palace.

  韦小宝向众兄弟点点头,上轿坐好。高彦超将衣帽包好放入轿中。一个会中兄弟走到轿前,钻头入轿,低声道:“韦香主,明儿一早,最好请你到尚膳监的厨房去瞧瞧。”He got in, nodding his farewell to the Brothers, and when he was settled, Brother Gao handed in his bundle. Just before the bearers started, another Triad thrust his head inside the chair. ‘Master,’ said this individual, keeping his voice down low, ‘it would be a good idea if you were to take a look in the Imperial Catering Department’s kitchens first thing tomorrow morning.’韦小宝道:“瞧什么?”那人道:“也没什么。”说着便退了开去。Take a look at what?’ Trinket asked him. ‘Nothing,’ said the man, and withdrew his head.韦小宝想不起他叫什么名字,这人留着两撇鼠须,鬼头鬼脑,市井之中最多这等小商贩,到杨柳胡同时他也没跟着同去,自己一直以为他是药店中的伙计,心想他叫我明天到厨房去瞧瞧,不知有什么用意?Trinket couldn’t put a name to the man’s face. It was a sly, ferrety face with a wispy moustache: the sort of face you might expect to find behind a market stall. Its owner hadn’t been one of the party which went to Willow Lane, and Trinket had up to now assumed that he was one of the apothecary’s assistants. He wondered what reason he could possibly have for wanting him to visit the Imperial kitchens next day?

  反正巡视御厨房正是他的职责,第二天早晨便去。顶头上司一到,厨房中的承值太监以下,人人大忙特忙,名茶细点,流水价捧将上来。Inspection of the Imperial Catering Department’s kitchens was, of course, nominally part of Trinket’s job, so when he went there bright and early next morning to have a look, the appearance on the scene of their supreme commander had all the staff, from the Eunuch Supervisor of Kitchens downwards, on their toes, and a succession of them came rushing up to serve him with tea and a selection of their finest delicacies.韦小宝吃了几块点心,说道:“你们这里的点心,做得也挺不错了,不过最好再跟扬州的厨子学学。”These little cakes you make are very good,’ said Trinket after sampling a few different kinds, ‘but you ought to get a Yangzhou cook to give you a few tips when you’re making stuff like this.’承值太监忙道:“是,是。若不是韦公公指点,我们可还真不懂。”’We shall indeed, Goong-goong,’ said the Eunuch Supervisor. Thank you for mentioning it, Goong-goong. This is just the sort of thing we like to be told.’

  韦小宝见厨房中也无异状,正待回去,见采办太监从市上回来,后面跟着一人,手中拿着一杆大秤,笑嘻嘻的连连点头,Trinket couldn’t see anything unusual in the kitchens and was about to return to his own room when one of the two Eunuch Buyers, the Meats and Victuals one, arrived back from the market, followed by a man holding a big steelyard who laughed and nodded his head obsequiously as he answered whatever it was the Eunuch Buyer had just been saying.说道:“是是,是是!公公怎么说,便怎么办,包管错不了。”韦小宝一见此人,吃了一惊,那正是昨天要他到厨房来瞧瞧之人。’Ha ha! Yes, Goong-goong. I’ll do exactly as you say. No problem at all.’ Trinket recognized the man with a start. It was the one who had told him the day before that he ought to visit the kitchens.

  采办太监忙抢到韦小宝面前,请安问好。韦小宝指着那人,问道:“这人是谁?”The Eunuch Buyer came hurrying over to Trinket to pay his respects. ‘Who is this with you?’ Trinket asked him.采办太监笑道:“这人是北城钱兴隆肉庄的钱老板,今儿特别巴结,亲自押了十几口肉猪送到宫里来。”This is Butcher Qian from the North City,’ said the Eunuch Buyer, smiling. ‘We’re being specially privileged this morning: he’s delivering the dozen pig carcasses we ordered from him in person.’转头向钱老板道:“老钱哪,今儿你可真交上大运啦。这位桂公公,是我们尚膳监总管,He turned to address the man. Today must be your lucky day, Qian. This Laurie Goong-goong is the Manager of the whole Imperial Catering Department.当今皇上跟前的第一大红人。我们在宫里当差的,等闲也见不着他老人家一面。你定是前生三世敲穿了木鱼,恰好碰上了桂公公。”He is also the number one favourite of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor. Even we don’t get to see him all that easily. You must have worn your prayer-mat out in three past lives to have earned a chance like this!’

  那钱老板跪下地来,向韦小宝连磕了几个响头,说道:“这位公公是小号的衣食父母,今日才有缘拜见,真是姓钱的祖宗积了德。”Butcher Qian immediately dropped to his knees and began knocking his head on the floor. The Goong-goong who feeds and clothes me, who is father and mother to me!’ he said between bumps. ‘What an honour to meet you! I bless my ancestors that I have lived to see this day!’韦小宝说道:“不用多礼。”寻思:“他混进宫来,想干什么了?怎地事先不跟我说?’All right,’ said Trinket. ‘No need to overdo it.’ But while he said this, he was thinking, ‘I wonder what he’s got himself into the Palace for. I wish he’d let me know beforehand.’”那钱老板站起身来,满脸堆笑,说道:“宫里公公们作成小号生意,小号的价钱特别克己,可说没什么赚头,Butcher Qian was now on his feet again, his face all wreathed in smiles. ‘I owe everything I have to you Goong-goongs in the Palace,’ he said. ‘Not that the prices I charge you aren’t very reasonable– in fact I hardly make a profit.不过替皇上、公主、贝勒们宰猪,那是天大的面子。别人听说连皇上都吃小号供奉的肉,小号的猪肉自然天下第一,再没别家比得上了。But the prestige I get from being pork-butcher to the Emperor and the Princes and Princesses is a guarantee to the public outside that my meat is the best to be had. No other butcher can compete with me.因此上钱兴隆供奉宫里肉食也只一年多,生意可着实长了好几倍,这都是仰仗公公们栽培。”说着又连连请安。In less than a year I’ve doubled my business several times over. And all thanks to you Goong-goongs.’ He concluded with a whole series of bowings and hand-pumpings.韦小宝点点头,笑道:“那你一定挺发财啦!”那人道:“托赖公公们的洪福。”从怀中掏出两张银票来,笑嘻嘻道:“一点点小意思,不成敬意,请公公留着赏人罢!”说着双手送到韦小宝手里。Trinket nodded. ‘You must be pretty well off then.’ Thanks to you,’ said Butcher Qian. ‘Here,’ he said, fishing two banknotes from an inside pocket, ‘a little token of my esteem. It’s nothing. You can use it when you want to give someone else a tip.’ He delivered the notes respectfully with both his hands.

  韦小宝接过来一看,银票每张五百两,共是一千两银子,正是自己前天分给高彦超他们的,微微一怔,Trinket looked at them. Two banknotes for five hundred taels each. A thousand taels. With a slight start he recognized them as two of the banknotes he had handed to Brother Gao a couple of days previously.只见钱老板嘴巴向着那采办太监一努,韦小宝已明其意,笑道:“钱老板好客气哪!”将两张银票交了给承值太监,笑道:“钱老板的敬意,哥儿们去分了罢,不用分给我。”Butcher Qian looked at him and gestured towards the Eunuch Buyer with his lips. Immediately Trinket understood. Thank you,’ he said. ‘You’re very kind.’ He turned to the Eunuch Buyer with a smile and handed him the notes. ‘Why don’t you share Butcher Qian’s present with the others?’ he said. ‘I shan’t be wanting any of it myself.’众太监见是一千两银子的银票,无不大喜过望。There was excitement among the other eunuchs when they caught sight of the notes. A thousand taels was far beyond any amount that normally came their way.供奉宫中猪羊牛肉、鸡鱼蔬菜的商人,平时都给回扣,向有定例,逢年过节虽有年礼节礼,也不过是四五百两,这其中尚膳房的头儿太监又先分去了一半。It was a general rule that suppliers of meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables should give a small commission on each delivery, and there were regular presents at the New Year and seasonal festivals; but these were never more than four or five hundred taels. And even then the Manager of the Imperial Catering Department invariably kept half back for himself.

  此刻见银子既多,韦小宝又说不要,各人摊分起来,岂不是小小一注横财?This time not only was the present an unusually large one, but Laurie Goong-goong had expressly renounced his claim to any part of it. When they calculated what each of them would get, it came to quite a tidy little sum.那承值太监却想,桂公公口说不要,只不过在外人面前摆摆架子,他是头儿,岂能当真省得了的,待会摊分之时,自须仍将最大的份儿给他留着。But the Eunuch Buyer thought differently. He assumed that Trinket was only acting generous because there were others present and would expect his Manager’s share of it when the time came. In his calculation a major part would have to be set aside for Trinket and given to him later.

  钱老板道:“桂公公,你这样体恤办事的公公们,可真难得。你不肯收礼,小人心中难安。There can’t be many people who are as kind and considerate to their subordinates as you are, Goong-goong,’ said Butcher Qian. ‘But if you won’t accept my little present for yourself, you put me in a bit of a dilemma.这样罢,小号养得有两口茯苓花雕猪,算得名贵无比,待会去宰了,一口孝敬皇太后和皇上,Now let me see. I tell you what. I’ve got a couple of China-root pigs I’ve been fattening up specially which are just about ready for slaughtering. I’ve been planning to present one of them to the Emperor and the Empress Dowager.另一口抬到桂公公房中,请公公细细品尝。”Why don’t I have the other carcass delivered to your place so that you can have a taste of it yourself from time to time?’韦小宝道:“什么茯苓花雕猪?名头古怪,可没听过。”’China-root pig is a funny sort of name,’ said Trinket. ‘I’ve never heard of a pig called that before.’钱老板道:“这是小号祖传的秘法,选了良种肉猪,断乳之后,就喂茯苓、党参、杞子等等补药,饲料除了补药之外,便只鸡蛋一味,渴了便给喝花雕顶……”The recipe for fattening them is a secret in my family, ‘ said Butcher Qian. ‘You take a couple of weaners from the very best stock and feed them a mixture of China-root, codonopsis, and medlars. Apart from that mix, the only other thing hey have to eat is hen’s eggs. For drink you give them the very best Shaoxing wine . . .’

  他话没说完,众太监都已笑了起来,都说:“哪有这样的喂猪法?喂肥一口猪,岂不是要几百两银子?”Before he could finish, the eunuchs had all burst out laughing. That’s crazy, ‘ said one of them. ‘It would cost hundreds just to fatten one pig.’钱老板道:“本钱自然不小,最难的还是这番心血和功夫。”’Oh, it’s not just the money, ‘ said Butcher Qian. There’s a great deal of work involved as well, ‘韦小宝道:“好,这等奇猪,倒不可不尝。”钱老板道:“不知桂公公今日午后什么时候有空,小人准时送来。”’All right, ‘ said Trinket. ‘It certainly sounds special, this China-root pork. Yes, I’d like to try it.’ ‘When will you be free, Goong-goong?’ said Butcher Qian. ‘If you tell me when, I’ll deliver the carcass myself.’韦小宝心想从上书房下来,已将午时,便道:“巳末午初,你送来罢!”钱老板连称:“是,是!”又请了几个安出去。Trinket calculated that he ought to be finished in the Upper Library by eleven. ‘Any time between eleven and twelve I should be free, ‘ he said. ‘Very good, ‘ said Butcher Qian, and with more hand-pumpings and bows he took his leave.承值太监陪笑道:“桂公公,待会见了皇上,倒不可提起这回事。”’Laurie Goong-goong, ‘ said the Eunuch Buyer after the butcher had gone, ‘when you see His Imperial Majesty presently, you won’t tell him anything about this, will you?’韦小宝问道:“为什么?”承值太监道:“宫里的规矩,凡是希奇古怪的食物,是不能供奉给皇太后、皇上和贝勒、公主们的。倘若吃了有一点儿小小乱子,大伙儿有几颗脑袋?”’Why not?’ said Trinket. ‘It’s one of the rules of the Palace, ‘ said the eunuch. ‘No rare or unusual food must be offered to the Empress Dowager or the Emperor or the Princes and Princesses of the Imperial family, the reason being that if one of them were to suffer the slightest little sickness after eating it, it would be off with our heads.’韦小宝点头道:“正是。”Trinket nodded. ‘Of course, ‘承值太监又道:“皇上年少好奇,听到有这等希奇古怪的茯苓花雕猪,倘若吩咐取来尝尝,咱们做奴才的干系太大。’His Imperial Majesty is young, ‘ continued the Eunuch Buyer. ‘He has the curiosity of youth. If he hears that there’s a rare animal called a China-root pig and says he wants to try the meat, we have a problem.再说,这种千辛万苦喂起来的肉猪,又不是常常都有的,Besides, look at all the trouble and expense involved in producing this kind of pork: it’s not a type of meat you can come by easily.要是皇上吃得对了胃口,下了圣旨,命御厨房天天供奉,大家可只有上吊的份儿了。”Suppose His Imperial Majesty takes a fancy to it and orders the Imperial kitchens to prepare it for him every day. We’ll be left with no alternative but to hang ourselves.’韦小宝哈哈大笑,道:“你倒想得周到。”Trinket burst out laughing. ‘You certainly don’t believe in taking chances.’

  承值太监道:“这是尚膳房历来相传的规矩罢了。’It’s one of the standing rules of the Imperial Catering Department that’s been handed down from generation to generation, ‘ said the Eunuch Buyer.太后和皇上的菜肴,一切时鲜果菜,都是不能供奉的。”The dishes prepared for Their Imperial Majesties the Empress Dowager and the Emperor must contain no fresh fruit or vegetable that has just come into season.’韦小宝奇道:“时鲜菜蔬不能供奉,难道反而只供奉过时的、隔宿的果菜?”他虽当了几个月尚膳监的头儿,对御厨的事却一直不曾留心。’No fresh fruit or vegetable that’s just come into season?’ Trinket echoed in some surprise. ‘You surely don’t mean that you only serve them stale old leftovers?’

  承值太监笑道:“供奉过时隔宿的菜蔬,那是万万不敢。不过有些一年之中只有一两月才有的果菜,咱们就不能供奉了。’No, no, of course not,’ said the Eunuch Buyer. ‘But any fruit or vegetable which only comes into season for one month or two months in the year must be avoided.倘若皇上吃得入味,夏天要冬笋,冬天要新鲜蚕豆,大伙儿又只好上吊了。”Otherwise, if Their Imperial Majesties took a fancy to it and started asking for fresh bamboo shoots in the height of summer or fresh broad beans in mid-winter, we’d be obliged to hang ourselves.’

  韦小宝笑道:“皇太后、皇上都是万分圣明的,哪有这等事?”承值太监一凛,忙道:“是,是。太后和皇上圣明,那是决计不会的。听说那是打从前明宫里传下来的规矩。’But Their Imperial Majesties are very intelligent people,’ said Trinket, laughing. ‘Surely they couldn’t be as silly as that?’ The Eunuch Buyer turned slightly pale. ‘Oh yes, of course, Their Imperial Majesties are very intelligent people, ‘ he said hurriedly. ‘I’ve been told that this rule is an old one that was laid down in the time of the Ming Emperors.到了我大清,皇上通情达理,咱们奴才们办起事来,就容易得多啦。”心下暗暗吃惊,对先前这几句话好生后悔。Our Qing Emperor is so wise and so understanding, things nowadays are very much easier for all of us.’ The poor eunuch was all of a flutter and very much regretted what he had just been saying.

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