Автор: Agatha Christie Об авторе: Автобиография Жанр: Английский язык, зарубежные детективы, классические детективы Тип: Книга Издательство: Каро Год издания: 2019 Цена: 187.00 руб. Просмотры: 16 Скачать ознакомительный фрагмент FB2 EPUB RTF TXT КУПИТЬ И СКАЧАТЬ ЗА: 187.00 руб. ЧТО КАЧАТЬ и КАК ЧИТАТЬ
Endless Night / Бесконечная ночь. Книга для чтения на английском языке Agatha Christie Чтение в оригинале (Каро)Detective story Роман Агаты Кристи, которая предстает перед читателем тонким знатоком психологии человека, рассказывает о любви, которая окрыляет молодого небогатого парня и приводит его в проклятое поместье «Цыганское подворье». Подробные комментарии и словарь помогут читателям следить за перепетиями сюжета. Agatha Christie / Агата Кристи Endless Night / Бесконечная ночь. Книга для чтения на английском языке To Nora Prichard from whom I first heard the legend of Gipsy’s Acre Every Night and every Morn Some to Misery are born. Every Morn and every Night Some are born to Sweet Delight, Some are born to Sweet Delight, Some are born to Endless Night, William Blake Auguries of Innocence Endless Night © 1967 Agatha Christie Limited. All rights reserved. AGATHA CHRISTIE ©, and the Agatha Christie Signature are registered trade marks of Agatha Christie Limited in the UK and elsewhere. © КАРО, 2019 Book I Chapter 1 In my end is my beginning… That’s a quotation I’ve often heard people say. It sounds all right – but what does it really mean? Is there ever any particular spot where one can put one’s finger and say: ‘It all began that day, at such a time and such a place, with such an incident?’ Did my story begin, perhaps, when I noticed the Sale Bill hanging on the wall of the George and Dragon, announcing Sale by Auction of that valuable property ‘The Towers’, and giving particulars of the acreage, the miles and furlongs[1 - furlong – британская и американская единица измерения расстояния], and the highly idealized portrait of ‘The Towers’ as it might have been perhaps in its prime, anything from eighty to a hundred years ago? I was doing nothing particular, just strolling along the main street of Kingston Bishop, a place of no importance whatever, killing time. I noticed the Sale Bill. Why? Fate up to its dirty work? Or dealing out its golden handshake of good fortune?[2 - Fate up to its dirty work? Or dealing out its golden handshake of good fortune? – На свою беду? Или судьба преподнесла мне счастливый билет?] You can look at it either way. Or you could say, perhaps, that it all had its beginnings when I met Santonix, during the talks I had with him; I can close my eyes and see: his flushed cheeks, the overbrilliant eyes, and the movement of the strong yet delicate hand that sketched and drew plans and elevations of houses. One house in particular, a beautiful house, a house that would be wonderful to own! My longing for a house, a fine and beautiful house, such a house as I could never hope to have, flowered into life then. It was a happy fantasy shared between us, the house that Santonix would build for me – if he lasted long enough… A house that in my dreams I would live in with the girl that I loved, a house in which just like a child’s silly fairy story we should live together ‘happy ever afterwards’. All pure fantasy, all nonsense, but it started that tide of longing in me. Longing for something I was never likely to have. Or if this is a love story – and it is a love story, I swear – then why not begin where I first caught sight of Ellie standing in the dark fir trees of Gipsy’s Acre? Gipsy’s Acre. Yes, perhaps I’d better begin there, at the moment when I turned away from the Sale board with a little shiver because a black cloud had come over the sun, and asked a question carelessly enough of one of the locals, who was clipping a hedge in a desultory fashion nearby[3 - in a desultory fashion nearby – (зд.) резкими движениями]. ‘What’s this house, The Towers, like?’ I can still see the queer face of the old man, as he looked at me sideways and said: ‘That’s not what us calls it here. What sort of a name is that?’ He snorted disapproval. ‘It’s many a year now since folks lived in it and called it The Towers.’ He snorted again. I asked him then what he called it, and again his eyes shifted away from me in his old wrinkled face in that queer way country folk have of not speaking to you direct, looking over your shoulder or round the corner, as it were, as though they saw something you didn’t; and he said: ‘It’s called hereabouts Gipsy’s Acre.’ ‘Why is it called that?’ I asked. ‘Some sort of a tale. I dunno rightly. One says one thing, one says another.’ And then he went on, ‘Anyway, it’s where the accidents take place.’ ‘Car accidents?’ ‘All kinds of accidents. Car accidents mainly nowadays. It’s a nasty corner there, you see.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘if it’s a nasty curve, I can well see there might be accidents.’ ‘Rural Council put up a Danger sign, but it don’t do no good, that don’t. There are accidents just the same.’ ‘Why Gipsy?’ I asked him. Again his eyes slipped past me and his answer was vague. ‘Some tale or other. It was gipsies’ land once, they say, and they were turned off, and they put a curse on it.’ I laughed. ‘Aye,’ he said, ‘you can laugh but there’s places as is cursed. You smart-Alecks in town[4 - You smart-Alecks in town – Вы, городские умники] don’t know about them. But there’s places as is cursed all right, and there’s a curse on this place. People got killed here in the quarry when they got the stone out to build. Old Geordie he fell over the edge there one night and broke his neck.’ ‘Drunk?’ I suggested. ‘He may have been. He liked his drop, he did. But there’s many drunks as fall – nasty falls – but it don’t do them no lasting harm. But Geordie, he got his neck broke. In there,’ he pointed up behind him to the pine-covered hill, ‘in Gipsy’s Acre.’ Yes, I suppose that’s how it began. Not that I paid much attention to it at the time. I just happened to remember it. That’s all. I think – that is, when I think properly – that I built it up a bit in my mind. I don’t know if it was before or later that I asked if there were still gipsies about there. He said there weren’t many anywhere nowadays. The police were always moving them on, he said. I asked: ‘Why doesn’t anybody like gipsies?’ ‘They’re a thieving lot,’ he said, disapprovingly. Then he peered more closely at me. ‘Happen you’ve got gipsy blood yourself?’ he suggested, looking hard at me. I said not that I knew of. It’s true, I do look a bit like a gipsy. Perhaps that’s what fascinated me about the name of Gipsy’s Acre. I thought to myself as I was standing there, smiling back at him, amused by our conversation, that perhaps I had a bit of gipsy blood. Gipsy’s Acre. I went up the winding road that led out of the village and wound up through the dark trees and came at last to the top of the hill so that I could see out to sea and the ships. It was a marvellous view and I thought, just as one does think things: I wonder how it would be if Gipsy’s Acre was my acre… Just like that… It was only a ridiculous thought. When I passed my hedge clipper again, he said: ‘If you want gipsies, there’s old Mrs Lee of course. The Major, he gives her a cottage to live in.’ ‘Who’s the Major?’ I asked. He said, in a shocked voice, ‘Major Phillpot, of course.’ He seemed quite upset that I should ask! I gathered that Major Phillpot was God locally. Mrs Lee was some kind of dependant of his, I suppose, whom he provided for. The Phillpots seemed to have lived there all their lives and more or less to have run the place. As I wished my old boy good day and turned away he said: ‘She’s got the last cottage at the end of the street. You’ll see her outside, maybe. Doesn’t like the inside of houses. Them as has got gipsy blood don’t.’ So there I was, wandering down the road, whistling and thinking about Gipsy’s Acre. I’d almost forgotten what I’d been told when I saw a tall black-haired old woman staring at me over a garden hedge. I knew at once it must be Mrs Lee. I stopped and spoke to her. ‘I hear you can tell me about Gipsy’s Acre up there,’ I said. She stared at me through a tangled fringe of black hair[5 - tangled fringe of black hair – (зд.) запутанный край черных волос] and she said: ‘Don’t have nought[6 - nought = nothing] to do with it, young man. You listen to me. Forget about it. You’re a good-looking lad. Nothing good comes out of Gipsy’s Acre and never will.’ ‘I see it’s up for sale,’ I said. ‘Aye, that’s so, and more fool he who buys it.’ ‘Who’s likely to buy it?’ ‘There’s a builder after it. More than one. It’ll go cheap. You’ll see.’ ‘Why should it go cheap?’ I asked curiously. ‘It’s a fine site.’ She wouldn’t answer that. ‘Supposing a builder buys it cheap, what will he do with it?’ She chuckled to herself. It was malicious, unpleasant laughter. ‘Pull down the old ruined house and build, of course. Twenty – thirty houses, maybe – and all with a curse on them.’ I ignored the last part of the sentence. I said, speaking before I could stop myself: ‘That would be a shame. А great shame.’ ‘Ah, you needn’t worry. They’ll get no joy of it, not those who buys and not those who lays the bricks and mortar. There’ll be a foot that slips on the ladder, and there’ll be the lorry that crashes with a load, and the slate that falls from the roof of a house and finds its mark. And the trees too. Crashing, maybe, in a sudden gale. Ah, you’ll see! There’s none that’ll get any good out of Gipsy’s Acre. They’d do best to leave it alone. You’ll see. You’ll see.’ She nodded vigorously and then she repeated softly to herself, ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre. There never has been.’ I laughed. She spoke sharply. ‘Don’t laugh, young man. It comes to me as maybe one of these days you’ll laugh on the wrong side of your mouth. There’s never been no luck there, not in the house nor yet in the land.’ ‘What happened in the house?’ I asked. ‘Why has it been empty so long? Why was it left to fall down?’ ‘The last people that lived there died, all of them.’ ‘How did they die?’ I asked out of curiosity. ‘Best not to speak of it again. But no one cared to come and live in it afterwards. It was left to moulder and decay. It’s forgot by now and best that it should be.’ ‘But you could tell me the story,’ I said, wheedlingly. ‘You know all about it.’ ‘I don’t gossip about Gipsy’s Acre.’ Then she let her voice drop to a kind of phoney beggar’s whine. ‘I’ll tell your fortune now, my pretty lad, if you like. Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell your fortune. You’re one of those that’ll go far one of these days.’ ‘I don’t believe nonsense about fortune-telling,’ I said, ‘and I haven’t any silver. Not to spare, anyway.’ She came nearer to me and went on in a wheedling voice. ‘Sixpence now. Sixpence now. I’ll do it for sixpence. What’s that? Nothing at all. I’ll do it for sixpence because you’re a handsome lad with a ready tongue and a way with you. It could be that you’ll go far.’ I fished a sixpence out of my pocket, not because I believed in any of her foolish superstitions but because for some reason I liked the old fraud even if I did see through her. She grabbed the coin from me, and said: ‘Give me your hand then. Both hands.’ She took my hands in her withered claw and stared down at the open palms. She was silent for a minute or two, staring. Then she dropped my hands abruptly, almost pushing them away from her. She retreated a step and spoke harshly. ‘If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get out of Gipsy’s Acre here and now and you won’t come back! That’s the best advice I can give you. Don’t come back.’ ‘Why not? Why shouldn’t I come back?’ ‘Because if you do you’ll come back to sorrow and loss and danger maybe. There’s trouble, black trouble waiting for you. Forget you ever saw this place. I’m warning you.’ ‘Well of all the —’ But she had turned away and was retreating to the cottage. She went in and slammed the door. I’m not superstitious. I believe in luck, of course, who doesn’t? But not a lot of superstitious nonsense about ruined houses with curses on them. And yet I had an uneasy feeling that the sinister old creature had seen something in my hands. I looked down at my two palms spread out in front of me. What could anyone see in the palms of anyone’s hands? Fortune-telling was arrant nonsense – just a trick to get money out of you – money out of your silly credulity. I looked up at the sky. The sun had gone in, the day seemed different now. А sort of shadow, a kind of menace. Just an approaching storm, I thought. The wind was beginning to blow, the backs of the leaves were showing on the trees. I whistled to keep my spirits up and walked along the road through the village. I looked again at the pasted-up bill advertising the auction of The Towers. I even made a note of the date. I had never attended a property sale in my life but I thought to myself that I’d come and attend this one. It would be interesting to see who bought The Towers. That is to say interesting to see who became the owner of Gipsy’s Acre. Yes, I think that’s really where it all began… А fantastic notion occurred to me. I’d come and pretend to myself that I was the man who was going to bid for Gipsy’s Acre! I’d bid against the local builders! They’d drop out, disappointed in their hopes of buying it cheap. I’d buy it and I’d go to Rudolf Santonix and say, ‘Build me a house. I’ve bought the site for you.’ And I’d find a girl, a wonderful girl, and we’d live in it together happy ever after. I often had dreams of that kind. Naturally they never came to anything but they were fun. That’s what I thought then. Fun! Fun, my God! If I’d only known! Chapter 2 It was pure chance that had brought me to the neighbourhood of Gipsy’s Acre that day. I was driving a hired car, taking some people down from London to attend a sale, a sale not of a house but its contents. It was a big house just at the outskirts of the town, a particularly ugly one. I drove an elderly couple there who were interested, from what I could overhear of their conversation, in a collection of papier mâché, whatever papier mâché was. The only time I ever heard it mentioned before was by my mother in connection with washing-up bowls. She’d said that a papier mâché washing-up bowl was far better than a plastic one any day! It seemed an odd thing for rich people to want to come down and buy a collection of the stuff. However I stored the fact away in my mind and I thought I would look in a dictionary or read up somewhere what papier mâché really was. Something that people thought worthwhile to hire a car for, and go down to a country sale and bid for. I liked to know about things. I was twenty-two years of age at that time and I had picked up a fair amount of knowledge one way and another. I knew a good deal about cars, was a fair mechanic and a careful driver. Once I’d worked with horses in Ireland. I nearly got entangled with a dope gang but I got wise and quit in time. А job as a chauffeur to a classy car hire firm isn’t bad at all. Good money to be made with tips. And not usually too strenuous. But the work itself was boring. Once I’d gone fruit picking in summer time. That didn’t pay much, but I enjoyed myself. I’d tried a lot of things. I’d been a waiter in a third-class hotel, life guard on a summer beach, I’d sold encyclopaedias and vacuum cleaners and a few other things. I’d once done horticultural work in a botanical garden and had learnt a little about flowers. I never stuck to anything. Why should I? I’d found nearly everything I did interesting. Some things were harder work than others but I didn’t really mind that. I’m not really lazy. I suppose what I really am is restless. I want to go everywhere, see everything, do everything. I want to find something. Yes, that’s it. I want to find something. From the time I left school I wanted to find something, but I didn’t yet know what that something was going to be. It was just something I was looking for in a vague, unsatisfied sort of way. It was somewhere. Sooner or later I’d know all about it. It might perhaps be a girl… I like girls, but no girl I’d met so far had been important… You liked them all right but then you went to the next one quite gladly. They were like the jobs I took. All right for a bit and then you got fed up with them and you wanted to move on to the next one. I’d gone from one thing to another ever since I’d left school. A lot of people disapproved of my way of life. I suppose they were what you might call my well-wishers[7 - well-wishers – доброжелатели]. That was because they didn’t understand the first thing about me. They wanted me to go steady with a nice girl, save money, get married to her and then settle down to a nice steady job. Day after day, year after year, world without end, amen. Not for yours truly! There must be something better than that. Not just all this tame security, the good old welfare state limping along in its half-baked way! Surely, I thought, in a world where man has been able to put satellites in the sky and where men talk big about visiting the stars, there must be something that rouses you, that makes your heart beat, that’s worthwhile searching all over the world to find! One day, I remember, I was walking down Bond Street. It was during my waiter period and I was due on duty. I’d been strolling looking at some shoes in a shop window. Very natty they were. Like they say in the advertisements in newspapers: What smart men are wearing today’ and there’s usually a picture of the smart man in question. My word, he usually looks a twerp! Used to make me laugh, advertisements like that did. I passed on from the shoes to the next window. It was a picture shop. Just three pictures in the window artily arranged with a drape of limp velvet in some neutral colour arranged over a corner of a gilt frame. Cissy, if you know what I mean. I’m not much of a one for Art. I dropped in to the National Gallery once out of curiosity. Fair gave me the pip, it did. Great big shiny coloured pictures of battles in rocky glens, or emaciated saints getting themselves stuck with arrows. Portraits of simpering great ladies sitting smirking in silks and velvets and lace. I decided then and there that Art wasn’t for me. But the picture I was looking at now was somehow different. There were three pictures in the window. One a landscape, nice bit of country for what I call everyday. One of a woman drawn in such a funny way, so much out of proportion, that you could hardly see she was a woman. I suppose that’s what you call art nouveau[8 - art nouveau (фр.)– стиль модерн]. I don’t know what it was about. The third picture was my picture. There wasn’t really much to it, if you know what I mean. It was – how can I describe it? It was kind of simple. А lot of space in it and a few great widening circles all round each other if you can put it that way. All in different colours, odd colours that you wouldn’t expect. And here and there, there were sketchy bits of colour that didn’t seem to mean anything. Only somehow they did mean something! I’m no good at description. All I can say is that one wanted terribly to go on looking at it. I just stood there, feeling queer as though something very unusual had happened to me. Those fancy shoes now, I’d have liked them to wear. I mean I take quite a bit of trouble with my clothes. I like to dress well so as to make an impression, but I never seriously thought in my life of buying a pair of shoes in Bond Street. I know the kind of fancy prices they ask there. Fifteen pounds a pair those shoes might be. Hand-made or something, they call it, making it more worthwhile for some reason. Sheer waste of money[9 - Sheer waste of money – Пустая трата денег] that would be. А classy line in shoes, yes, but you can pay too much for class. I’ve got my head screwed on the right way. But this picture, what would that cost? I wondered. Suppose I were to buy that picture? You’re crazy, I said to myself. You don’t go for pictures, not in a general way. That was true enough. But I wanted this picture… I’d like it to be mine. I’d like to be able to hang it and sit and look at it as long as I liked and know that I owned it! Me! Buying pictures. It seemed a crazy idea. I took a look at the picture again. Me wanting that picture didn’t make sense, and anyway, I probably couldn’t afford it. Actually I was in funds at just that moment. А lucky tip on a horse. This picture would probably cost a packet. Twenty pounds? Twenty-five? Anyway, there would be no harm in asking. They couldn’t eat me, could they? I went in, feeling rather aggressive and on the defensive. The inside of the place was all very hushed and grand. There was a sort of muted atmosphere with neutral-colour walls and a velvet settee on which you could sit and look at the pictures. А man who looked a little like the model for the perfectly dressed man in advertisements came and attended to me, speaking in a rather hushed voice[10 - hushed voice – тихий, приглушенный голос] to match the scenery. Funnily, he didn’t look superior as they usually do in high-grade Bond Street shops. He listened to what I said and then he took the picture out of the window and displayed it for me against a wall, holding it there for me to look at as long as I wanted. It came to me then – in the way you sometimes know just exactly how things are, that the same rules didn’t apply over pictures as they do about other things. Somebody might come into a place like this dressed in shabby old clothes and a frayed shirt and turn out to be a millionaire who wanted to add to his collection. Or he could come in looking cheap and flashy, rather like me perhaps, but somehow or other he’d got such a yen for a picture that he managed to get the money together by some kind of sharp practice. ‘A very fine example of the artist’s work,’ said the man who was holding the picture. ‘How much?’ I said briskly. The answer took my breath away. ‘Twenty-five thousand,’ he said in his gentle voice. I’m quite good at keeping a poker face. I didn’t show anything. At least I don’t think I did. He added some name that sounded foreign. The artist’s name, I suppose, and that it had just come on the market from a house in the country, where the people who lived there had had no idea what it was. I kept my end up and sighed. ‘It’s a lot of money but it’s worth it, I suppose,’ I said. Twenty-five thousand pounds. What a laugh! ‘Yes,’ he said and sighed. ‘Yes indeed.’ He lowered the picture very gently and carried it back to the window. He looked at me and smiled. ‘You have good taste,’ he said. I felt that in some way he and I understood each other. I thanked him and went out into Bond Street. Chapter 3 I don’t know much about writing things down – not, I mean, in the way a proper writer would do. The bit about that picture I saw, for instance. It doesn’t really have anything to do with anything. I mean, nothing came of it, it didn’t lead to anything and yet I feel somehow that it is important, that it has a place somewhere. It was one of the things that happened to me that meant something. Just like Gipsy’s Acre meant something to me. Like Santonix meant something to me. I haven’t really said much about him. He was an architect. Of course you’ll have gathered that. Architects are another thing I’d never had much to do with, though I knew a few things about the building trade. I came across Santonix in the course of my wanderings. It was when I was working as a chauffeur, driving the rich around places. Once or twice I drove abroad, twice to Germany – I knew a bit of German – and once or twice to France – I had a smattering of French too – and once to Portugal. They were usually elderly people, who had money and bad health in about equal quantities. When you drive people like that around, you begin to think that money isn’t so hot after all[11 - money isn’t so hot after all – (зд.) деньги не главное]. What with incipient heart attacks, lots of bottles of little pills you have to take all the time, and losing your temper over the food or the service in hotels. Most of the rich people I’ve known have been fairly miserable. They’ve got their worries, too. Taxation and investments. You hear them talking together or to friends. Worry! That’s what’s killing half of them. And their sex life’s not so hot either. They’ve either got long-legged blonde sexy wives who are playing them up with boyfriends somewhere, or they’re married to the complaining kind of woman, hideous as hell, who keeps telling them where they get off. No. I’d rather be myself. Michael Rogers, seeing the world, and getting off with good-looking girls when he feels like it! Everything a bit hand-to-mouth[12 - Everything a bit hand-to-mouth – Еле сводить концы с концами], of course, but I put up with that. Life was good fun, and I’d been content to go on with life being fun. But I suppose I would have in any case. That attitude goes with youth. When youth begins to pass fun isn’t fun any longer. Behind it, I think, was always the other thing – wanting someone and something… However, to go on with what I was saying, there was one old boy I used to drive down to the Riviera. He’d got a house being built there. He went down to look how it was getting on. Santonix was the architect. I don’t really know what nationality Santonix was. English I thought at first, though it was a funny sort of name I’d never heard before. But I don’t think he was English. Scandinavian of some kind I guess. He was an ill man. I could see that at once. He was young and very fair and thin with an odd face, a face that was askew somehow. The two sides of it didn’t match. He could be quite bad-tempered to his clients. You’d have thought as they were paying the money that they’d call the tune and do the bullying. That wasn’t so. Santonix bullied them and he was always quite sure of himself although they weren’t. This particular old boy of mine was frothing with rage, I remember, as soon as he arrived and had seen how things were going. I used to catch snatches here and there when I was standing by ready to assist in my chauffeurly and handyman way. It was always on the cards that Mr Constantine would have a heart attack or a stroke. ‘You have not done as I said,’ he half screamed. ‘You have spent too much money. Much too much money. It is not as we agreed. It is going to cost me more than I thought.’ ‘You’re absolutely right,’ said Santonix. ‘But the money’s got to be spent.’ ‘It shall not be spent! It shall not be spent. You have got to keep within the limits I laid down. You understand?’ ‘Then you won’t get the kind of house you want,’ said Santonix. ‘I know what you want. The house I build you will be the house you want. I’m quite sure of that and you’re quite sure of it, too. Don’t give me any of your pettifogging middle-class economies[13 - pettifogging middle-class economies – ваше мелкобуржуазное скупердяйство]. You want a house of quality and you’re going to get it, and you’ll boast about it to your friends and they’ll envy you. I don’t build a house for anyone, I’ve told you that. There’s more to it than money. This house isn’t going to be like other people’s houses!’ ‘It is going to be terrible. Terrible.’ ‘Oh no it isn’t. The trouble with you is that you don’t know what you want. Or at least so anyone might think. But you do know what you want really, only you can’t bring it out into your mind. You can’t see it clearly. But I know. That’s the one thing I always know. What people are after and what they want. There’s a feeling in you for quality. I’m going to give you quality.’ He used to say things like that. And I’d stand by and listen. Somehow or other I could see for myself that this house that was being built there amongst pine trees looking over the sea, wasn’t going to be the usual house. Half of it didn’t look out towards the sea in a conventional way. It looked inland, up to a certain curve of mountains, up to a glimpse of sky between hills. It was odd and unusual and very exciting. Santonix used to talk to me sometimes when I was off duty. He said: ‘I only build houses for people I want to build for.’ ‘Rich people, you mean?’ ‘They have to be rich or they couldn’t pay for the houses. But it’s not the money I’m going to make out of it I care about. My clients have to be rich because I want to make the kind of houses that cost money. The house only isn’t enough, you see. It has to have the setting. That’s just as important. It’s like a ruby or an emerald. А beautiful stone is only a beautiful stone. It doesn’t lead you anywhere further. It doesn’t mean anything, it has no form or significance until it has its setting. And the setting has to have a beautiful jewel to be worthy of it. I take the setting, you see, out of the landscape, where it exists only in its own right. It has no meaning until there is my house sitting proudly like a jewel within its grasp.’ He looked at me and laughed. ‘You don’t understand?’ ‘I suppose not,’ I said slowly, ‘and yet – in a way – I think I do…’ ‘That may be.’ He looked at me curiously. We came down to the Riviera again later. By then the house was nearly finished. I won’t describe it because I couldn’t do it properly, but it was – well – something special – and it was beautiful. I could see that. It was a house you’d be proud of, proud to show to people, proud to look at yourself, proud to be in with the right person perhaps. And then suddenly one day Santonix said to me: ‘I could build a house for you, you know. I’d know the kind of house you’d want.’ I shook my head. ‘I shouldn’t know myself,’ I said, honestly. ‘Perhaps you wouldn’t. I’d know for you.’ Then he added, ‘It’s a thousand pities you haven’t got the money.’ ‘And never shall have,’ I said. ‘You can’t say that,’ said Santonix. ‘Born poor doesn’t mean you’ve got to stay poor. Money’s queer. It goes where it’s wanted.’ ‘I’m not sharp enough,’ I said. ‘You’re not ambitious enough. Ambition hasn’t woken up in you, but it’s there, you know.’ ‘Oh, well,’ I said, ‘some day when I’ve woken up ambition and I’ve made money, then I’ll come to you and say “build me a house”.’ He sighed then. He said: ‘I can’t wait… No, I can’t afford to wait. I’ve only a short time to go now. One house – two houses more. Not more than that. One doesn’t want to die young… Sometimes one has to… It doesn’t really matter, I suppose.’ ‘I’ll have to wake up my ambition quick.’ ‘No,’ said Santonix. ‘You’re healthy, you’re having fun, don’t change your way of life.’ I said: ‘I couldn’t if I tried.’ I thought that was true then. I liked my way of life and I was having fun and there was never anything wrong with my health. I’ve driven a lot of people who’ve made money, who’ve worked hard and who’ve got ulcers and coronary thrombosis and many other things as a result of working hard. I didn’t want to work hard. I could do a job as well as another but that was all there was to it. And I hadn’t got ambition, or I didn’t think I had ambition. Santonix had had ambition, I suppose. I could see that designing houses and building them, the planning of the drawing and something else that I couldn’t quite get hold of, all that had taken it out of him. He hadn’t been a strong man to begin with. I had a fanciful idea sometimes that he was killing himself before his time by the work he had put out to drive his ambition. I didn’t want to work. It was as simple as that. I distrusted work, disliked it. I thought it was a very bad thing, that the human race had unfortunately invented for itself. I thought about Santonix quite often. He intrigued me almost more than anyone I knew. One of the oddest things in life, I think, is the things one remembers. One chooses to remember, I suppose. Something in one must choose. Santonix and his house were one of the things and the picture in Bond Street and visiting that ruined house, The Towers, and hearing the story of Gipsy’s Acre, all those were the things that I’d chosen to remember! Sometimes girls that I met, and journeys to the foreign places in the course of driving clients about. The clients were all the same. Dull. They always stayed at the same kind of hotels and ate the same kind of unimaginative food. I still had that queer feeling in me of waiting for something, waiting for something to be offered to me, or to happen to me, I don’t quite know which way describes it best. I suppose really I was looking for a girl, the right sort of girl – by which I don’t mean a nice, suitable girl to settle down with, which is what my mother would have meant or my Uncle Joshua or some of my friends. I didn’t know at that time anything about love. All I knew about was sex. That was all anybody of my generation seemed to know about. We talked about it too much, I think, and heard too much about it and took it too seriously. We didn’t know – any of my friends or myself – what it was really going to be when it happened. Love I mean. We were young and virile and we looked the girls over we met and we appreciated their curves and their legs and the kind of eye they gave you, and you thought to yourself: ‘Will they or won’t they? Should I be wasting my time?’ And the more girls you made the more you boasted and the finer fellow you were thought to be, and the finer fellow you thought yourself. I’d no real idea that that wasn’t all there was to it. I suppose it happens to everyone sooner or later and it happens suddenly. You don’t think as you imagine you’re going to think: ‘This might be the girl for me… This is the girl who is going to be mine.’ At least, I didn’t feel it that way. I didn’t know that when it happened it would happen quite suddenly. That I would say: ‘That’s the girl I belong to. I’m hers. I belong to her, utterly, for always.’ No. I never dreamed it would be like that. Didn’t one of the old comedians say once – wasn’t it one of his stock jokes[14 - stock jokes – заготовленные шутки]? ‘I’ve been in love once and if I felt it coming on again I tell you I’d emigrate.’ It was the same with me. If I had known, if I had only known what it could all come to mean I’d have emigrated too! If I’d been wise, that is. Chapter 4 I hadn’t forgotten my plan of going to the auction. There was three weeks to go. I’d had two more trips to the Continent, one to France and the other to Germany. It was when I was in Hamburg that things came to a crisis. For one thing I took a violent dislike to the man and his wife I was driving. They represented everything I disliked most. They were rude, inconsiderate, unpleasant to look at, and I suppose they developed in me a feeling of being unable to stand this life of sycophancy any longer. I was careful, mind you. I thought I couldn’t stand them another day but I didn’t tell them so. No good running yourself in bad with the firm that employs you. So I telephoned up their hotel, said I was ill and I wired London saying the same thing. I said I might be in quarantine and it would be advisable if they sent out a driver to replace me. Nobody could blame me for that. They wouldn’t care enough about me to make further inquiries and they’d merely think that I was too feverish to send them any more news. Later, I’d turn up in London again, spinning them a yarn of how ill I’d been[15 - spinning them a yarn of how ill I’d been – заливая им, что я был болен]! But I didn’t think I should do that. I was fed up with the driving racket[16 - driving racket – суматоха движения]. That rebellion of mine was an important turning point in my life. Because of that and of other things, I turned up at the auction rooms on the appointed date. ‘Unless sold before by private treaty[17 - Unless sold before by private treaty – Если только не будет продан по частной договоренности]’ had been pasted across the original board. But it was still there, so it hadn’t been sold by private treaty. I was so excited I hardly knew what I was doing. As I say, I had never been to a public auction of property before. I was imbued with the idea that it would be exciting but it wasn’t exciting. Not in the least. It was one of the most moribund performances I have ever attended. It took place in a semi-gloomy atmosphere and there were only about six or seven people there. The auctioneer was quite different from those auctioneers that I had seen presiding at furniture sales or things of that kind; men with facetious voices and very hearty and full of jokes. This one, in a dead and alive voice, praised the property and described the acreage and a few things like that and then he went half-heartedly into the bidding. Somebody made a bid of £5,000. The auctioneer gave a tired smile rather as one who hears a joke that isn’t really funny. He made a few remarks and there were a few more bids. They were mostly country types standing around. Someone who looked like a farmer, someone who I guessed to be one of the competitive builders, a couple of lawyers, I think, one a man who looked as though he was a stranger from London, well dressed and professional-looking. I don’t know if he made an actual bid, he may have done. If so it was very quietly and done more by gesture. Anyway the bidding petered to an end, the auctioneer announced in a melancholy voice that the reserve price had not been reached and the thing broke up. ‘That was a dull business,’ I said to one of the countrylooking fellows whom I was next to as I went out. ‘Much the same as usual,’ he said. ‘Been to many of these?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘actually it’s the first.’ ‘Come out of curiosity, did you? I didn’t notice you doing any bidding.’ ‘No fear,’ I said. ‘I just wanted to see how it would go.’ ‘Well, it’s the way it runs very often. They just want to see who’s interested, you know.’ I looked at him inquiringly. ‘Only three of ’em in it[18 - ‘em = them], I should say,’ said my friend. ‘Whetherby from Helminster. He’s the builder, you know. Then Dakham and Coombe, bidding on behalf of some Liverpool firm, I understand, and a dark horse from London, too, I should say a lawyer. Of course there may be more in it than that, but those seemed the main ones to me. It’ll go cheap. That’s what everyone says.’ ‘Because of the place’s reputation?’ I asked. ‘Oh, you’ve heard about Gipsy’s Acre, have you? That’s only what the country people say. Rural Council ought to have altered that road years ago – it’s a death trap.’ ‘But the place has got a bad reputation?’ ‘I tell you that’s just superstition. Anyway, as I say, the real business’ll happen now behind the scenes, you know. They’ll go and make offers. I’d say the Liverpool people might get it. I don’t think Whetherby’ll go high enough. He likes buying cheap. Plenty of properties coming into the market nowadays for development. After all, it’s not many people who could afford to buy the place, pull that ruined house down and put up another house there, could they?’ ‘Doesn’t seem to happen very often nowadays,’ I said. ‘Too difficult. What with taxation and one thing and another, and you can’t get domestic help in the country. No, people would rather pay thousands for a luxury flat in a town nowadays up on the sixteenth floor of a modern building. Big unwieldy country houses are a drag on the market.’ ‘But you could build a modern house,’ I argued. ‘Labour-saving.’ ‘You could, but it’s an expensive business and people aren’t so fond of living lonely.’ ‘Some people might be,’ I said. He laughed and we parted. I walked along, frowning, puzzling to myself. My feet took me without my really noticing where I was going along the road between the trees and up, up to the curving road that led between the trees to the moorlands. And so I came to the spot in the road where I first saw Ellie. As I said, she was standing just by a tall fir tree and she had the look, if I can explain it, of someone who hadn’t been there a moment before but had just materialized, as it were, out of the tree. She was wearing a sort of dark green tweed and her hair was the soft brown colour of an autumn leaf and there was something a bit unsubstantial about her. I saw her and I stopped. She was looking at me, her lips just parted, looking slightly startled. I suppose I looked startled too. I wanted to say something and I didn’t quite know what to say. Then I said: ‘Sorry. I – I didn’t mean to startle you. I didn’t know there was anyone here.’ She said, and her voice was very soft and gentle, it might have been a little girl’s voice but not quite. She said: ‘It’s quite all right. I mean, I didn’t think anyone would be here either.’ She looked round her and said, ‘It – it’s a lonely spot.’ And she shivered just a little. There was rather a chilly wind that afternoon. But perhaps it wasn’t the wind. I don’t know. I came a step or two nearer. ‘It is a sort of scary place rather, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘I mean, the house being a ruin the way it is.’ ‘The Towers,’ she said thoughtfully. ‘That was the name of it, wasn’t it – only I mean, there don’t seem to have been any towers.’ ‘I expect that was just a name,’ I said. ‘People call their houses names like The Towers to make them sound grander than they are.’ She laughed just a little. ‘I suppose that was it,’ she said. ‘This – perhaps you know, I’m not sure – this is the place that they’re selling today or putting up for auction?’ ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I’ve come from the auction now.’ ‘Oh.’ She sounded startled. ‘Were you – are you – interested?’ ‘I’m not likely to buy a ruined house with a few hundred acres of woodland land,’ I said. ‘I’m not in that class.’ ‘Was it sold?’ she asked. ‘No, it didn’t come up to reserve[19 - it didn’t come up to reserve – даже близко не дошло до спрашиваемой цены].’ ‘Oh. I see.’ She sounded relieved. ‘You didn’t want to buy it either, did you?’ I said. ‘Oh no,’ she said, ‘of course not.’ She sounded nervous about it. I hesitated and then I blurted out the words that came to my lips. ‘I’m pretending,’ I said. ‘I can’t buy it, of course, because I haven’t got any money, but I’m interested. I’d like to buy it. I want to buy it. Open your mouth and laugh at me if you like but that’s the way it is.’ ‘But isn’t it rather too decrepit, too —’ ‘Oh yes,’ I said. ‘I don’t mean I want it like it is now. I want to pull this down, cart it all away. It’s an ugly house and I think it must have been a sad house. But this place isn’t sad or ugly. It’s beautiful. Look here. Come a little this way, through the trees. Look out at the view that way where it goes to the hills and the moors. D’you see[20 - D’you see? = Do you see?]? Clear away a vista here – and then you come this way —’ I took her by the arm and led her to a second point of the compass. If we were behaving unconventionally she did not notice it. Anyway, it wasn’t that kind of way I was holding her. I wanted to show her what I saw. ‘Here,’ I said, ‘here you see where it sweeps down to the sea and where the rocks show out there. There’s a town between us and that but we can’t see it because of the hills bulging out farther down the slope. And then you can look a third way, to a vague foresty valley. Do you see now if you cut down trees and make big vistas and clear this space round the house, do you see what a beautiful house you could have here? You wouldn’t site it where the old one is. You’d go about fifty – a hundred yards to the right, here. This is where you could have a house, a wonderful house. А house built by an architect who’s a genius.’ ‘Do you know any architects who are geniuses?’ She sounded doubtful. ‘I know one,’ I said. Then I started telling her about Santonix. We sat down side by side on a fallen tree and I talked. Yes, I talked to that slender woodland girl whom I’d never seen before and I put all I had into what I was telling her. I told her the dream that one could build up. ‘It won’t happen,’ I said, ‘I know that. It couldn’t happen. But think. Think into it just like I’m thinking into it. There we’d cut the trees and there we’d open up, and we’d plant things, rhododendrons and azaleas, and my friend Santonix would come. He’d cough a good deal because I think he’s dying of consumption or something but he could do it. He could do it before he died. He could build the most wonderful house. You don’t know what his houses are like. He builds them for very rich people and they have to be people who want the right thing. I don’t mean the right thing in the conventional sense. Things people who want a dream come true want. Something wonderful.’ ‘I’d want a house like that,’ said Ellie. ‘You make me see it, feel it… Yes, this would be a lovely place to live. Everything one has dreamed of come true. One could live here and be free, not hampered, not tied round by people pushing you into doing everything you don’t want, keeping you from doing anything you do want. Oh I am so sick of my life and the people who are round me and everything!’ That’s the way it began, Ellie and I together. Me with my dreams and she with her revolt against her life. We stopped talking and looked at each other. ‘What’s your name?’ she said. ‘Mike Rogers,’ I said. ‘Michael Rogers,’ I amended. ‘What’s yours?’ ‘Fenella.’ She hesitated and then said, ‘Fenella Goodman,’ looking at me with a rather troubled expression. This didn’t seem to take us much further but we went on looking at each other. We both wanted to see each other again – but just for the moment we didn’t know how to set about it. Chapter 5 Well, that’s how it began between Ellie and myself. It didn’t really go along so very quickly, because we both had our secrets. Both had things we wanted to keep from the other and so we couldn’t tell each other as much about ourselves as we might have done, and that kept bringing us up sharp, as it were, against a kind of barrier. We couldn’t bring things into the open[21 - We couldn’t bring things into the open – Мы не могли в открытую заявить] and say, ‘When shall we meet again? Where can I find you? Where do you live?’ Because, you see, if you ask the other person that, they’d expect you to tell the same. Fenella looked apprehensive when she gave me her name. So much so that I thought for a moment that it mightn’t be her real name. I almost thought that she might have made it up! But of course I knew that that was impossible. I’d given her my real name. We didn’t know quite how to take leave of each other that day. It was awkward. It had become cold and we wanted to wander down from The Towers – but what then? Rather awkwardly, I said tentatively: ‘Are you staying round here?[22 - Are you staying round here? – Вы недалеко живете?]’ She said she was staying in Market Chadwell. That was a market town not very far away. It had, I knew, a large hotel, three-starred. She’d be staying there, I guessed. She said, with something of the same awkwardness, to me: ‘Do you live here?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I don’t live here. I’m only here for the day.’ Then a rather awkward silence fell. She gave a faint shiver. А cold little wind had come up. ‘We’d better walk,’ I said, ‘and keep ourselves warm. Are you – have you got a car or are you going by bus or train?’ She said she’d left the car in the village. ‘But I’ll be quite all right,’ she said. She seemed a little nervous. I thought perhaps she wanted to get rid of me but didn’t quite know how to manage it. I said: ‘We’ll walk down, shall we, just as far as the village?’ She gave me a quick grateful look then. We walked slowly down the winding road on which so many car accidents had happened. As we came round a corner, a figure stepped suddenly from beneath the shelter of the fir tree. It appeared so suddenly that Ellie gave a start and said, ‘Oh!’ It was the old woman I had seen the other day in her cottage garden. Mrs Lee. She looked a great deal wilder today with a tangle of black hair blowing in the wind and a scarlet cloak round her shoulders; the commanding stance she took up made her look taller. ‘And what would you be doing, my dears?’ she said. ‘What brings you to Gipsy’s Acre?’ ‘Oh,’ Ellie said, ‘we aren’t trespassing, are we?’ ‘That’s as may be. Gipsies’ land this used to be. Gipsies’ land and they drove us off it. You’ll do no good here, and no good will come to you prowling about Gipsy’s Acre.’ There was no fight in Ellie, she wasn’t that kind. She said gently and politely: ‘I’m very sorry if we shouldn’t have come here. I thought this place was being sold today.’ ‘And bad luck it will be to anyone who buys it!’ said the old woman. ‘You listen, my pretty, for you’re pretty enough, bad luck will come to whoever buys it. There’s a curse on this land, a curse put on it long ago, many years ago. You keep clear of it.[23 - You keep clear of it – Не подходи близко к этому месту] Don’t have nought to do with Gipsy’s Acre. Death it will bring you and danger. Go away home across the sea and don’t come back to Gipsy’s Acre. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.’ ‘We’re doing no harm.’ ‘Come now, Mrs Lee,’ I said, ‘don’t frighten this young lady.’ I turned in an explanatory way to Ellie. ‘Mrs Lee lives in the village. She’s got a cottage there. She tells fortunes and prophesies the future. All that, don’t you, Mrs Lee?’ I spoke to her in a jocular way. ‘I’ve got the gift,’ she said simply, drawing her gipsy-like figure up straighter still. ‘I’ve got the gift. It’s born in me. We all have it. I’ll tell your fortune, young lady. Cross my palm with silver and I’ll tell your fortune for you.’ ‘I don’t think I want my fortune told.’ ‘It’d be a wise thing to do. Know something about the future. Know what to avoid, know what’s coming to you if you don’t take care. Come now, there’s plenty of money in your pocket. Plenty of money. I know things it would be wise for you to know.’ I believe the urge to have one’s fortune told is almost invariable in women. I’ve noticed it before with girls I knew. I nearly always had to pay for them to go into the fortune-tellers’ booths if I took them to a fair. Ellie opened her bag and laid two half-crowns in the old woman’s hand. ‘Ah, my pretty, that’s right now. You hear what old Mother Lee will tell you.’ Ellie drew off her glove and laid her small delicate palm in the old woman’s hand. She looked down at it, muttering to herself. ‘What do I see now? What do I see?’ Suddenly she dropped Ellie’s hand abruptly. ‘I’d go away from here if I were you. Go – and don’t come back! That’s what I told you just now and it’s true. I’ve seen it again in your palm. Forget Gipsy’s Acre, forget you ever saw it. And it’s not just the ruined house up there, it’s the land itself that’s cursed.’ ‘You’ve got a mania about that,’ I said roughly. ‘Anyway the young lady has nothing to do with the land here. She’s only here for a walk today, she’s nothing to do with the neighbourhood.’ The old woman paid no attention to me. She said dourly: ‘I’m telling you, my pretty. I’m warning you. You can have a happy life – but you must avoid danger. Don’t come to a place where there’s danger or where there’s a curse. Go away where you’re loved and taken care of and looked after. You’ve got to keep yourself safe. Remember that. Otherwise – otherwise —’ she gave a short shiver. ‘I don’t like to see it, I don’t like to see what’s in your hand.’ Suddenly with a queer brisk gesture she pushed back the two half-crowns into Ellie’s palm, mumbling something we could hardly hear. It sounded like ‘It’s cruel. It’s cruel, what’s going to happen.’ Turning, she stalked away at a rapid pace. ‘What a – what a frightening woman,’ said Ellie. ‘Pay no attention to her,’ I said gruffly. ‘I think she’s half off her head anyway. She just wants to frighten you off. They’ve got a sort of feeling, I think, about this particular piece of land.’ ‘Have there been accidents here? Have bad things happened?’ ‘Bound to be accidents. Look at the curve and the narrowness of the road. The Town Council ought to be shot for not doing something about it. Of course there’ll be accidents here. There aren’t enough signs warning you.’ ‘Only accidents – or other things?’ ‘Look here,’ I said, ‘people like to collect disasters. There are plenty of disasters always to collect. That’s the way stories build themselves up about a place.’ ‘Is that one of the reasons why they say this property which is being sold will go cheap?’ ‘Well, it may be, I suppose. Locally, that is. But I don’t suppose it’ll be sold locally. I expect it’ll be bought for developing. You’re shivering,’ I said. ‘Don’t shiver. Come on, we’ll walk fast.’ I added, ‘Would you rather I left you before you got back into the town?’ ‘No. Of course not. Why should I?’ I made a desperate plunge[24 - desperate plunge – (зд.) отчаянный шаг]. ‘Look here,’ I said, ‘I shall be in Market Chadwell tomorrow. I – I suppose – I don’t know whether you’ll still be there… I mean, would there be any chance of – seeing you?’ I shuffled my feet and turned my head away. I got rather red, I think. But if I didn’t say something now, how was I going to go on with this? ‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘I shan’t be going back to London until the evening.’ ‘Then perhaps – would you – I mean, I suppose it’s rather cheek —’ ‘No, it isn’t.’ ‘Well, perhaps you’d come and have tea at a cafe – the Blue Dog I think it’s called. It’s quite nice,’ I said. ‘It’s – I mean, it’s —’ I couldn’t get hold of the word I wanted and I used the word that I’d heard my mother use once or twice —‘it’s quite ladylike,’ I said anxiously. Then Ellie laughed. I suppose it sounded rather peculiar nowadays. ‘I’m sure it’ll be very nice,’ she said. ‘Yes. I’ll come. About half past four, will that be right?’ ‘I’ll be waiting for you,’ I said. ‘I – I’m glad.’ I didn’t say what I was glad about. We had come to the last turn of the road where the houses began. ‘Goodbye, then,’ I said, ‘till tomorrow. And – don’t think again about what that old hag said. She just likes scaring people, I think. She’s not all there,’ I added. ‘Do you feel it’s a frightening place?’ Ellie asked. ‘Gipsy’s Acre? No, I don’t,’ I said. I said it perhaps a trifle too decidedly, but I didn’t think it was frightening. I thought as I’d thought before, that it was a beautiful place, a beautiful setting for a beautiful house… Well, that’s how my first meeting with Ellie went. I was in Market Chadwell the next day waiting in the Blue Dog and she came. We had tea together and we talked. We still didn’t say much about ourselves, not about our lives, I mean. We talked mostly about things we thought, and felt; and then Ellie glanced at her wrist-watch and said she must be going because her train to London left at 5.30— ‘I thought you had a car down here,’ I said. She looked slightly embarrassed then and she said no, no, that hadn’t been her car yesterday. She didn’t say whose it had been. That shadow of embarrassment came over us again. I raised a finger to the waitress and paid the bill, then I said straight out to Ellie: ‘Am I – am I ever going to see you again?’ She didn’t look at me, she looked down at the table. She said: ‘I shall be in London for another fortnight.’ I said: ‘Where? How?’ We made a date to meet in Regent’s Park in three days’ time. It was a fine day. We had some food in the open-air restaurant and we walked in Queen Mary’s Gardens and we sat there in two deck-chairs and we talked. From that time on, we began to talk about ourselves. I’d had some good schooling, I told her, but otherwise I didn’t amount to much. I told her about the jobs I’d had, some of them at any rate, and how I’d never stuck to things and how I’d been restless and wandered about trying this and that. Funnily enough, she was entranced to hear all this. ‘So different,’ she said, ‘so wonderfully different.’ ‘Different from what?’ ‘From me.’ ‘You’re a rich girl?’ I said teasingly —‘A poor little rich girl.’ ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I’m a poor little rich girl.’ She talked then in a fragmentary way about her background of riches, of stifling comfort, of boredom, of not really choosing your own friends, of never doing what you wanted. Sometimes looking at people who seemed to be enjoying themselves, when she wasn’t. Her mother had died when she was a baby and her father had married again. And then, not many years after, he had died, she said. I gathered she didn’t care much for her stepmother. She’d lived mostly in America but also travelling abroad a fair amount. It seemed fantastic to me listening to her that any girl in this age and time could live this sheltered, confined existence. True, she went to parties and entertainments, but it might have been fifty years ago it seemed to me from the way she talked. There didn’t seem to be any intimacy, any fun! Her life was as different from mine as chalk from cheese. In a way it was fascinating to hear about it but it sounded stultifying to me. ‘You haven’t really got any friends of your own then?’ I said, incredulously. ‘What about boyfriends?’ ‘They’re chosen for me,’ she said rather bitterly. ‘They’re deadly dull.’ ‘It’s like being in prison,’ I said. ‘That’s what it seems like.’ ‘And really no friends of your own?’ ‘I have now. I’ve got Greta.’ ‘Who’s Greta?’ I said. ‘She came first as an au pair – no, not quite that, perhaps. But anyway I’d had a French girl who lived with us for a year, for French, and then Greta came from Germany, for German. Greta was different. Everything was different once Greta came.’ ‘You’re very fond of her?’ I asked. ‘She helps me,’ said Ellie. ‘She’s on my side. She arranges so that I can do things and go places. She’ll tell lies for me. I couldn’t have got away to come down to Gipsy’s Acre if it hadn’t been for Greta. She’s keeping me company and looking after me in London while my stepmother’s in Paris. I write two or three letters and if I go off anywhere Greta posts them every three or four days so that they have a London postmark.’ ‘Why did you want to go down to Gipsy’s Acre though?’ I asked. ‘What for?’ She didn’t answer at once. ‘Greta and I arranged it,’ she said. ‘She’s rather wonderful,’ she went on. ‘She thinks of things, you know. She suggests ideas.’ ‘What’s this Greta like?’ I asked. ‘Oh, Greta’s beautiful,’ she said. ‘Tall and blonde. She can do anything.’ ‘I don’t think I’d like her,’ I said. Ellie laughed. ‘Oh yes you would. I’m sure you would. She’s very clever, too.’ ‘I don’t like clever girls,’ I said. ‘And I don’t like tall blonde girls. I like small girls with hair like autumn leaves.’ ‘I believe you’re jealous of Greta,’ said Ellie. ‘Perhaps I am. You’re very fond of her, aren’t you?’ ‘Yes, I am very fond of her. She’s made all the difference in my life.’ ‘And it was she who suggested you went down there. Why, I wonder? There’s not much to see or do in that part of the world. I find it rather mysterious.’ ‘It’s our secret,’ said Ellie and looked embarrassed. ‘Yours and Greta’s? Tell me.’ She shook her head. ‘I must have some secrets of my own,’ she said. ‘Does your Greta know you’re meeting me?’ ‘She knows I’m meeting someone. That’s all. She doesn’t ask questions. She knows I’m happy.’ After that there was a week when I didn’t see Ellie. Her stepmother had come back from Paris, also someone whom she called Uncle Frank, and she explained almost casually that she was having a birthday, and that they were giving a big party for her in London. ‘I shan’t be able to get away,’ she said. ‘Not for the next week. But after that – after that, it’ll be different.’ ‘Why will it be different after that?’ ‘I shall be able to do what I like then.’ ‘With Greta’s help as usual?’ I said. It used to make Ellie laugh the way I talked about Greta. She’d say, ‘You’re so silly to be jealous of her. One day you must meet her. You’ll like her.’ ‘I don’t like bossy girls,’ I said obstinately. ‘Why do you think she’s bossy?’ ‘By the way you talk about her. She’s always busy arranging something.’ ‘She’s very efficient,’ said Ellie. ‘She arranges things very well. That’s why my stepmother relies on her so much.’ I asked what her Uncle Frank was like. She said, ‘I don’t know him really so very well. He was my father’s sister’s husband, not a real relation. I think he’s always been rather a rolling stone and got into trouble once or twice. You know the way people talk about someone and sort of hint things.’ ‘Not socially acceptable?’ I asked. ‘Bad lot?’ ‘Oh, nothing really bad I think, but he used to get into scrapes, I believe. Financial ones. And trustees and lawyers and people used to have to get him out of them. Pay up for things.’ ‘That’s it,’ I said. ‘He’s the bad hat of the family. I expect I’d get on better with him than I would with the paragon Greta.’ ‘He can make himself very agreeable when he likes,’ said Ellie. ‘He’s good company.’ ‘But you don’t really like him?’ I asked sharply. ‘I think I do… It’s just that sometimes, oh I can’t explain it. I just feel I don’t know what he’s thinking or planning.’ ‘One of our planners, is he?’ ‘I don’t know what he’s really like,’ said Ellie again. She didn’t ever suggest that I should meet any of her family. I wondered sometimes if I ought to say something about it myself. I didn’t know how she felt about the subject. I asked her straight out at last. ‘Look here, Ellie,’ I said, ‘do you think I ought to – meet your family or would you rather I didn’t?’ ‘I don’t want you to meet them,’ she said at once. ‘I know I’m not much —’ I said. ‘I don’t mean it that way, not a bit! I mean they’d make a fuss. I can’t stand a fuss.’ ‘I sometimes feel,’ I said, ‘that this is rather a hole and corner business. It puts me in a rather bad light, don’t you think?’ ‘I’m old enough to have my own friends,’ said Ellie. ‘I’m nearly twenty-one. When I am twenty-one I can have my own friends and nobody can stop me. But now you see – well, as I say there’d be a terrible fuss and they’d cart me off somewhere so that I couldn’t meet you. There’d be – oh do, do let’s go on as we are now.’ ‘Suits me if it suits you,’ I said. ‘I just didn’t want to be, well, too underhand about everything.’ ‘It’s not being underhand. It’s just having a friend one can talk to and say things to. It’s someone one can —’ she smiled suddenly, ‘one can make-believe with. You don’t know how wonderful that is.’ Yes, there was a lot of that – make-believe! More and more our times together were to turn out that way. Sometimes it was me. More often it was Ellie who’d say, ‘Let’s suppose that we’ve bought Gipsy’s Acre and that we’re building a house there.’ I had told her a lot about Santonix and about the houses he’d built. I tried to describe to her the kind of houses they were and the way he thought about things. I don’t think I described it very well because I’m not good at describing things. Ellie no doubt had her own picture of the house – our house. We didn’t say ‘our house’ but we knew that’s what we meant… So for over a week I wasn’t to see Ellie. I had taken out what savings I had (there weren’t many), and I’d bought her a little green shamrock ring made of some Irish bog stone. I’d given it to her for a birthday present and she’d loved it and looked very happy. ‘It’s beautiful,’ she said. She didn’t wear much jewellery and when she did I had no doubt it was real diamonds and emeralds and things like that but she liked my Irish ring. ‘It will be the birthday present I like best,’ she said. Then I got a hurried note from her. She was going abroad with her family to the South of France immediately after her birthday. ‘But don’t worry,’ she wrote, ‘we shall be back again in two or three weeks’ time, on our way to America this time. But anyway we’ll meet again then. I’ve got something special I want to talk to you about.’ I felt restless and ill at ease not seeing Ellie and knowing she’d gone abroad to France. I had a bit of news about the Gipsy’s Acre property too. Apparently it had been sold by private treaty but there wasn’t much information about who’d bought it. Some firm of London solicitors apparently were named as the purchasers. I tried to get more information about it, but I couldn’t. The firm in question were very cagey. Naturally I didn’t approach the principals. I palled up to one of their clerks and so got a little vague information. It had been bought for a very rich client who was going to hold it as a good investment capable of appreciation when the land in that part of the country was becoming more developed. It’s very hard to find out about things when you’re dealing with really exclusive firms. Everything is as much of a deadly secret as though they were M. I.5 or something! Everyone is always acting on behalf of someone else who can’t be named or spoken of! Takeover bids[25 - Takeover bids – приобретение компании путем скупки большей части ее акций, (зд.) взятка] aren’t in it! I got into a terrible state of restlessness. I stopped thinking about it all and I went and saw my mother. I hadn’t been to see her for a good long time. Chapter 6 My mother lived in the same street she had lived in for the last twenty years, a street of drab houses all highly respectable and devoid of any kind of beauty or interest. The front doorstep was nicely whitened and it looked just the same as usual. It was No. 46. I pressed the frontdoor bell. My mother opened the door and stood there looking at me. She looked just the same as usual, too. Tall and, grey hair parted in the middle, mouth like a rat-trap, and eyes that were eternally suspicious. She looked hard as nails angular. But where I was concerned there was a core of softness somewhere in her. She never showed it, not if she could help it, but I’d found out that it was there. She’d never stopped for a moment wanting me to be different but her wishes were never going to come true. There was a perpetual state of stalemate between us. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘so it’s you.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘it’s me.’ She drew back a little to let me pass and I came into the house and went on past the sitting-room door and into the kitchen. She followed me and stood looking at me. ‘It’s been quite a long time,’ she said. ‘What have you been doing?’ I shrugged my shoulders. ‘This and that,’ I said. ‘Ah,’ said my mother, ‘as usual, eh?’ ‘As usual,’ I agreed. ‘How many jobs have you had since I saw you last?’ I thought a minute. ‘Five,’ I said. ‘I wish you’d grow up.’ ‘I’m fully adult,’ I said. ‘I have chosen my way of life. How have things been with you?’ I added. ‘Also as usual,’ said my mother. ‘Quite well and all that?’ ‘I’ve no time to waste being ill,’ said my mother. Then she said abruptly, ‘What have you come for?’ ‘Should I have come for anything in particular?’ ‘You usually do.’ ‘I don’t see why you should disapprove so strongly of my seeing the world,’ I said. ‘Driving luxurious cars all over the Continent! Is that your idea of seeing the world?’ ‘Certainly.’ ‘You won’t make much of a success in that. Not if you throw up the job at a day’s notice[26 - day’s notice – предупреждение за день] and go sick, dumping your clients in some heathen town.’[27 - heathen town – языческий город, (зд.) богом забытый город] ‘How did you know about that?’ ‘Your firm rang up. They wanted to know if I knew your address.’ ‘What did they want me for?’ ‘They wanted to re-employ you I suppose,’ said my mother. ‘I can’t think why.’ ‘Because I’m a good driver and the clients like me. Anyway, I couldn’t help it if I went sick, could I?’ ‘I don’t know,’ said my mother. Her view clearly was that I could have helped it. ‘Why didn’t you report to them when you got back to England?’ ‘Because I had other fish to fry,’ I said. She raised her eyebrows. ‘More notions in your head? More wild ideas? What jobs have you been doing since?’ ‘Petrol pump. Mechanic in a garage. Temporary clerk, washer-up in a sleazy night-club restaurant.’ ‘Going down the hill in fact,’ said my mother with a kind of grim satisfaction. ‘Not at all,’ I said. ‘It’s all part of the plan. My plan!’ She sighed. ‘What would you like, tea or coffee? I’ve got both.’ I plumped for coffee. I’ve grown out of the tea-drinking habit. We sat there with our cups in front of us and she took a home-made cake out of a tin and cut us each a slice. ‘You’re different,’ she said, suddenly. ‘Me, how?’ ‘I don’t know, but you’re different. What’s happened?’ ‘Nothing’s happened. What should have happened?’ ‘You’re excited,’ she said. ‘I’m going to rob a bank,’ I said. She was not in the mood to be amused. She merely said: ‘No, I’m not afraid of your doing that.’ ‘Why not? Seems a very easy way of getting rich quickly nowadays.’ ‘It would need too much work,’ she said. ‘And a lot of planning. More brainwork than you’d like to have to do. Not safe enough, either.’ ‘You think you know all about me,’ I said. ‘No, I don’t. I don’t really know anything about you, because you and I are as different as chalk and cheese. But I know when you’re up to something. You’re up to something now. What is it, Micky? Is it a girl?’ ‘Why should you think it’s a girl?’ ‘I’ve always known it would happen some day.’ ‘What do you mean by “some day”? I’ve had lots of girls.’ ‘Not the way I mean. It’s only been the way of a young man with nothing to do. You’ve kept your hand in with girls but you’ve never been really serious till now.’ ‘But you think I’m serious now?’ ‘Is it a girl, Micky?’ I didn’t meet her eyes. I looked away and said, ‘In a way.’ ‘What kind of a girl is she?’ ‘The right kind for me,’ I said. ‘Are you going to bring her to see me?’ ‘No,’ I said. ‘It’s like that, is it?’ ‘No, it isn’t. I don’t want to hurt your feelings but —’ ‘You’re not hurting my feelings. You don’t want me to see her in case I should say to you “Don’t”. Is that it?’ ‘I wouldn’t pay any attention if you did.’ ‘Maybe not, but it would shake you. It would shake you somewhere inside because you take notice of what I say and think. There are things I’ve guessed about you – and maybe I’ve guessed right and you know it. I’m the only person in the world who can shake your confidence in yourself. Is this girl a bad lot who’s got hold of you?’ ‘Bad lot?’ I said and laughed. ‘If you only saw her! You make me laugh.’ ‘What do you want from me? You want something. You always do.’ ‘I want some money,’ I said. ‘You won’t get it from me. What do you want it for – to spend on this girl?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I want to buy a first-class suit to get married in.’ ‘You’re going to marry her?’ ‘If she’ll have me.’ That shook her. ‘If you’d only tell me something!’ she said. ‘You’ve got it badly, I can see that. It’s the thing I always feared, that you’d choose the wrong girl.’ ‘Wrong girl! Hell!’ I shouted. I was angry. I went out of the house and I banged the door. Chapter 7 When I got home there was a telegram waiting for me – it had been sent from Antibes. Meet me tomorrow four-thirty usual place. Ellie was different. I saw it at once. We met as always in Regent’s Park and at first we were a bit strange and awkward with each other. I had something I was going to say to her and I was in a bit of a state as to how to put it. I suppose any man is when he comes to the point of proposing marriage. And she was strange about something too. Perhaps she was considering the nicest and kindest way of saying No to me. But somehow I didn’t think that. My whole belief in life was based on the fact that Ellie loved me. But there was a new independence about her, a new confidence in herself which I could hardly feel was simply because she was a year older. One more birthday can’t make that difference to a girl. She and her family had been in the South of France and she told me a little about it. And then rather shyly she said: ‘I – I saw that house there, the one you told me about. The one that architect friend of yours had built.’ ‘What – Santonix?’ ‘Yes. We went there to lunch one day.’ ‘How did you do that? Does your stepmother know the man who lives there?’ ‘Dmitri Constantine? Well – not exactly but she met him and – well – Greta fixed it up for us to go there as a matter of fact.’ ‘Greta again,’ I said, allowing the usual exasperation to come into my voice. ‘I told you,’ she said, ‘Greta is very good at arranging things.’ ‘Oh all right. So she arranged that you and your stepmother —’ ‘And Uncle Frank,’ said Ellie. ‘Quite a family party,’ I said, ‘and Greta too, I suppose.’ ‘Well, no, Greta didn’t come because, well —’ Ellie hesitated, ‘– Cora, my stepmother, doesn’t treat Greta exactly like that.’ ‘She’s not one of the family, she’s a poor relation, is she?’ I said. ‘Just the au pair girl, in fact. Greta must resent being treated that way sometimes.’ ‘She’s not an au pair girl, she’s a kind of companion to me.’ ‘A chaperone,’ I said, ‘a cicerone, a duenna, a governess. There are lots of words.’ ‘Oh do be quiet,’ said Ellie, ‘I want to tell you. I know now what you mean about your friend Santonix. It’s a wonderful house. It’s – it’s quite different. I can see that if he built a house for us it would be a wonderful house.’ She had used the word quite unconsciously. Us, she had said. She had gone to the Riviera and had made Greta arrange things so as to see the house I had described, because she wanted to visualize more clearly the house that we would, in the dream world we’d built ourselves, have built for us by Rudolf Santonix. ‘I’m glad you felt like that about it,’ I said. She said: ‘What have you been doing?’ ‘Just my dull job,’ I said, ‘and I’ve been to a race meeting and I put some money on an outsider. Thirty to one. I put every penny I had on it and it won by a length. Who says my luck isn’t in?’ ‘I’m glad you won,’ said Ellie, but she said it without excitement, because putting all you had in the world on an outsider and the outsider winning didn’t mean anything to Ellie’s world. Not the kind of thing it meant in mine. ‘And I went to see my mother,’ I added. ‘You’ve never spoken much of your mother.’ ‘Why should I?’ I said. ‘Aren’t you fond of her?’ I considered. ‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘Sometimes I don’t think I am. After all, one grows up and – outgrows parents. Mothers and fathers.’ ‘I think you do care about her,’ said Ellie. ‘You wouldn’t be so uncertain when you talk about her otherwise.’ ‘I’m afraid of her in a way,’ I said. ‘She knows me too well. She knows the worst of me, I mean.’ ‘Somebody has to,’ said Ellie. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘There’s a saying by some great writer or other that no man is a hero to his valet[28 - no man is a hero to his valet – нет пророка в своем отечестве (пословица)]. Perhaps everyone ought to have a valet. It must be so hard otherwise, always living up to people’s good opinion of one.’ ‘Well, you certainly have ideas, Ellie,’ I said. I took her hand. ‘Do you know all about me?’ I said. ‘I think so,’ said Ellie. She said it quite calmly and simply. ‘I never told you much.’ ‘You mean you never told me anything at all, you always clammed up. That’s different. But I know quite well what you are like, you yourself.’ ‘I wonder if you do,’ I said. I went on, ‘It sounds rather silly saying I love you. It seems too late for that, doesn’t it? I mean, you’ve known about it a long time, practically from the beginning, haven’t you?’ ‘Yes,’ said Ellie, ‘and you knew, too, didn’t you, about me?’ ‘The thing is,’ I said, ‘what are we going to do about it? It’s not going to be easy, Ellie. You know pretty well what I am, what I’ve done, the sort of life I’ve led. I went back to see my mother and the grim, respectable little street she lives in. It’s not the same world as yours, Ellie. I don’t know that we can ever make them meet.’ ‘You could take me to see your mother.’ ‘Yes, I could,’ I said, ‘but I’d rather not. I expect that sounds very harsh to you, perhaps cruel, but you see we’ve got to lead a queer life together, you and I. It’s not going to be the life that you’ve led and it’s not going to be the life that I’ve led either. It’s got to be a new life where we have a sort of meeting ground between my poverty and ignorance and your money and culture and social knowledge. My friends will think you’re stuck up and your friends will think I’m socially unpresentable. So what are we going to do?’ ‘I’ll tell you,’ said Ellie, ‘exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to live on Gipsy’s Acre in a house – a dream house – that your friend Santonix will build for us. That’s what we’re going to do.’ She added, ‘We’ll get married first. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that’s what I mean. If you’re sure it’s all right with you.’ ‘It’s quite easy,’ said Ellie, ‘we can get married next week. I’m of age, you see. I can do what I like now. That makes all the difference. I think perhaps you’re right about relations. I shan’t tell my people and you won’t tell your mother, not until it’s all over and then they can throw fits and it won’t matter.’ ‘That’s wonderful,’ I said, ‘wonderful, Ellie. But there’s one thing. I hate telling you about it. We can’t live at Gipsy’s Acre, Ellie. Wherever we build our house it can’t be there because it’s sold.’ ‘I know it’s sold,’ said Ellie. She was laughing. ‘You don’t understand, Mike. I’m the person who’s bought it.’ Chapter 8 I sat there, on the grass by the stream among the water flowers with the little paths and the stepping stones all round us. А good many other people were sitting round about us, but we didn’t notice them or even see they were there, because we were like all the others. Young couples, talking about their future. I stared at her and stared at her. I just couldn’t speak. ‘Mike,’ she said. ‘There’s something, something I’ve got to tell you. Something about me, I mean.’ ‘You don’t need to,’ I said, ‘no need to tell me anything.’ ‘Yes, but I must. I ought to have told you long ago but I didn’t want to because – because I thought it might drive you away. But it explains in a way, about Gipsy’s Acre.’ ‘You bought it?’ I said. ‘But how did you buy it?’ ‘Through lawyers,’ she said, ‘the usual way. It’s a perfectly good investment, you know. The land will appreciate[29 - appreciate – (зд.) земля будет дорожать]. My lawyers were quite happy about it.’ It was odd suddenly to hear Ellie, the gentle and timid Ellie, speaking with such knowledge and confidence of the business world of buying and selling. ‘You bought it for us?’ ‘Yes. I went to a lawyer of my own, not the family one. I told him what I wanted to do, I got him to look into it, I got everything set up and in train.[30 - I got everything set up and in train (разг.)– У меня все на мази] There were two other people after it but they were not really desperate and they wouldn’t go very high. The important thing was that the whole thing had to be set up and arranged ready for me to sign as soon as I came of age. It’s signed and finished.’ ‘But you must have made some deposit or something beforehand. Had you enough money to do that?’ ‘No,’ said Ellie, ‘no, I hadn’t control of much money beforehand, but of course there are people who will advance you money. And if you go to a new firm of legal advisers, they will want you to go on employing them for business deals once you’ve come into what money you’re going to have so they’re willing to take the risk that you might drop down dead before your birthday comes.’ ‘You sound so businesslike,’ I said, ‘you take my breath away!’ ‘Never mind business,’ said Ellie, ‘I’ve got to get back to what I’m telling you. In a way I’ve told it you already, but I don’t suppose really you realize it.’ ‘I don’t want to know,’ I said. My voice rose, I was almost shouting. ‘Don’t tell me anything. I don’t want to know anything about what you’ve done or who you’ve been fond of or what has happened to you.’ ‘It’s nothing of that kind,’ she said. ‘I didn’t realize that that was what you were fearing it might be. No, there’s nothing of that kind. No sex secrets. There’s nobody but you. The thing is that I’m – well – I’m rich.’ ‘I know that,’ I said, ‘you’ve told me already.’ ‘Yes,’ said Ellie with a faint smile, ‘and you said to me, “poor little rich girl”. But in a way it’s more than that. My grandfather, you see, was enormously rich. Oil. Mostly oil. And other things. The wives he paid alimony to are dead, there was only my father and myself left because his two other sons were killed. One in Korea and one in a car accident. And so it was all left in a great big huge trust and when my father died suddenly, it all came to me. My father had made provision for my stepmother before, so she didn’t get anything more. It was all mine. I’m – actually one of the richest women in America, Mike.’ ‘Good Lord,’ I said. ‘I didn’t know… Yes, you’re right, I didn’t know it was like that.’ ‘I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want to tell you. That was why I was afraid when I said my name – Fenella Goodman. We spell it G-u-t-e-m-a-n, and I thought you might know the name of Guteman so I slurred over it and made it into Goodman.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I’ve seen the name Guteman vaguely. But I don’t think I’d have recognized it even then. Lots of people are called names rather like that.’ ‘That’s why,’ she said, ‘I’ve been so hedged around all the time and fenced in, and imprisoned. I’ve had detectives guarding me and young men being vetted before they’re allowed even to speak to me. Whenever I’ve made a friend they’ve had to be quite sure it wasn’t an unsuitable one. You don’t know what a terrible, terrible prisoner’s life it is! But now that’s all over, and if you don’t mind —’ ‘Of course I don’t mind,’ I said, ‘we shall have lots of fun. In fact,’ I said, ‘you couldn’t be too rich a girl for me!’ We both laughed. She said: ‘What I like about you is that you can be natural about things.[31 - to be natural about things – быть честным, прямым]’ ‘Besides,’ I said, ‘I expect you pay a lot of tax on it, don’t you? That’s one of the few nice things about being like me. Any money I make goes into my pocket and nobody can take it away from me.’ ‘We’ll have our house,’ said Ellie, ‘our house on Gipsy’s Acre.’ Just for a moment she gave a sudden little shiver. ‘You’re not cold, darling,’ I said. I looked up at the sunshine. ‘No,’ she said. It was really very hot. We’d been basking. It might almost have been the South of France. ‘No,’ said Ellie, ‘it was just that – that woman, that gipsy that day.’ ‘Oh, don’t think of her,’ I said, ‘she was crazy anyway.’ ‘Do you think she really thinks there’s a curse on the land?’ ‘I think gipsies are like that. You know – always wanting to make a song and dance about some curse or something.’ ‘Do you know much about gipsies?’ ‘Absolutely nothing,’ I said truthfully. ‘If you don’t want Gipsy’s Acre, Ellie, we’ll buy a house somewhere else. On the top of a mountain in Wales, on the coast of Spain or an Italian hillside, and Santonix can build us a house there just as well.’ ‘No,’ said Ellie, ‘that’s how I want it to be. It’s where I first saw you walking up the road, coming round the corner very suddenly, and then you saw me and stopped and stared at me. I’ll never forget that.’ ‘Nor will I,’ I said. ‘So that’s where it’s going to be. And your friend Santonix will build it.’ ‘I hope he’s still alive,’ I said with an uneasy pang. ‘He was a sick man.’ ‘Oh yes,’ said Ellie, ‘he’s alive. I went to see him.’ ‘You went to see him?’ ‘Yes. When I was in the South of France. He was in a sanatorium there.’ ‘Every minute, Ellie, you seem to be more and more amazing. The things you do and manage.’ ‘He’s rather a wonderful person I think,’ said Ellie, ‘but rather frightening.’ ‘Did he frighten you?’ ‘Yes, he frightened me very much for some reason.’ ‘Did you talk to him about us?’ ‘Yes. Oh yes, I told him all about us and about Gipsy’s Acre and about the house. He told me then that we’d have to take a chance with him. He’s a very ill man. He said he thought he still had the life left in him to go and see the site, to draw the plans, to visualize it and get it all sketched out. He said he wouldn’t mind really if he died before the house was finished, but I told him,’ added Ellie, ‘that he mustn’t die before the house was finished because I wanted him to see us live in it.’ ‘What did he say to that?’ ‘He asked me if I knew what I was doing marrying you, and I said of course I did.’ ‘And then?’ ‘He said he wondered if you knew what you were doing.’ ‘I know all right,’ I said. ‘He said “You will always know where you’re going, Miss Guteman.” He said “You’ll be going always where you want to go and because it’s your chosen way.” ‘“But Mike,” he said, “might take the wrong road. He hasn’t grown up enough yet to know where he’s going.” ‘I said,’ said Ellie, ‘“He’ll be quite safe with me.”’ She had superb self-confidence. I was angry though at what Santonix had said. He was like my mother. She always seemed to know more about me than I knew myself. ‘I know where I’m going,’ I said. ‘I’m going the way I want to go and we’re going it together.’ Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/pages/biblio_book/?art=48508423&lfrom=334617187) на ЛитРес. Безопасно оплатить книгу можно банковской картой Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, со счета мобильного телефона, с платежного терминала, в салоне МТС или Связной, через PayPal, WebMoney, Яндекс.Деньги, QIWI Кошелек, бонусными картами или другим удобным Вам способом. notes Примечания 1 furlong – британская и американская единица измерения расстояния 2 Fate up to its dirty work? Or dealing out its golden handshake of good fortune? – На свою беду? Или судьба преподнесла мне счастливый билет? 3 in a desultory fashion nearby – (зд.) резкими движениями 4 You smart-Alecks in town – Вы, городские умники 5 tangled fringe of black hair – (зд.) запутанный край черных волос 6 nought = nothing 7 well-wishers – доброжелатели 8 art nouveau (фр.)– стиль модерн 9 Sheer waste of money – Пустая трата денег 10 hushed voice – тихий, приглушенный голос 11 money isn’t so hot after all – (зд.) деньги не главное 12 Everything a bit hand-to-mouth – Еле сводить концы с концами 13 pettifogging middle-class economies – ваше мелкобуржуазное скупердяйство 14 stock jokes – заготовленные шутки 15 spinning them a yarn of how ill I’d been – заливая им, что я был болен 16 driving racket – суматоха движения 17 Unless sold before by private treaty – Если только не будет продан по частной договоренности 18 ‘em = them 19 it didn’t come up to reserve – даже близко не дошло до спрашиваемой цены 20 D’you see? = Do you see? 21 We couldn’t bring things into the open – Мы не могли в открытую заявить 22 Are you staying round here? – Вы недалеко живете? 23 You keep clear of it – Не подходи близко к этому месту 24 desperate plunge – (зд.) отчаянный шаг 25 Takeover bids – приобретение компании путем скупки большей части ее акций, (зд.) взятка 26 day’s notice – предупреждение за день 27 heathen town – языческий город, (зд.) богом забытый город 28 no man is a hero to his valet – нет пророка в своем отечестве (пословица) 29 appreciate – (зд.) земля будет дорожать 30 I got everything set up and in train (разг.)– У меня все на мази 31 to be natural about things – быть честным, прямымКУПИТЬ И СКАЧАТЬ ЗА: 187.00 руб.