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1367.Stories to read and discuss

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Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Учебно-методическое пособие
для студентов младших курсов
языкового факультета педагогического вуза
Л. Н. Пустосмехова
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
УДК 811.111
ББК 81.2Англ-93
S 86
by James Joyce
кандидат педагогических наук, доцент кафедры иностранных
языков и методики преподавания Л. Н. Пустосмехова.
Ивонина Л.К., старший преподаватель кафедры общенаучных дисциплин Березниковского филиала
Попова Т. В., к.п.н., доцент каф.ИЯ и МП.
S 86
STORIES TO READ AND DISCUSS [Текст] : учебнометодическое пособие для студентов младших курсов языкового факультета педагогического вуза / Л. Н. Пустосмехова,
составление. – Соликамск : СГПИ, 2010. – 104 с. – ISBN
Данное учебно-методическое пособие, разработанное по курсу
«Практика устной и письменной речи английского языка» (специальность
«Филология»), включает практический материал для работы над художественным произведением в рамках аспекта «Домашнее чтение» в языковых вузах. Оно содержит систему практических заданий, включающих
разные формы работы с текстом и направленных на обучение произношению, лексике, грамматике и общению на иностранном языке, что в итоге
способствует развитию коммуникативно-речевых умений студентов.
УДК 811.111
ББК 81.2Англ-93
Рекомендовано к изданию
решением редакционно-издательского совета СГПИ.
Протокол № 5 от 4.02.2010.
ISBN 5-89469-019-6
© ГОУ ВПО «Соликамский государственный
педагогический институт», 2010
© Л. Н. Пустосмехова, составление, 2010
Eight years before he had seen his friend off at the North Wall and
wished him God-speed. Gallaher had got on. You could tell that at once
by his travelled air, his well-cut tweed suit, and fearless accent. Few
fellows had talents like his, and fewer still could remain unspoiled by
such success. Gallaher’s heart was in the right place and he had deserved
to win. It was something to have a friend like that.
Little Chandler’s thoughts ever since lunch-time had been of his
meeting with Gallaher, of Gallaher’s invitation, and of the great city
London where Gallaher lived. He was called Little Chandler because,
though he was but slightly under the average stature, he gave one the idea
of being a little man. His hands were white and small, his frame was fragile,
his voice was quiet and his manners were refined. He took the greatest
care of his fair silken hair and moustache, and used perfume discreetly on
his handkerchief. The half-moons of his nails were perfect, and when he
smiled you caught a glimpse of a row of childish white teeth.
As he sat at his desk in the King’s Inns he thought what changes those
eight years had brought. The friend whom he had known under a shabby
and necessitous guise had become a brilliant figure on the London Press.
He turned often from his tiresome writing to gaze out of the office window.
He watched the scene and thought of life; and (as always happened when
he thought of life) he became sad. A gentle melancholy took possession
of him. He felt how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being
the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.
He remembered the books of poetry upon his shelves at home. He
had bought them in his bachelor days and many an evening, as he sat in
the little room off the hall, he had been tempted to take one down from
the bookshelf and read out something to his wife. But shyness had always
held him back; and so the books had remained on their shelves. At times
he repeated lines to himself and this consoled him.
When his hour had struck he stood up and took leave of his desk
and of his fellow clerks punctiliously. He emerged from under the arch
of the King’s Inns, a neat modest figure, and walked swiftly down
Henrietta Street.
He had never been in Corless’s, but he knew the value of the
name. He knew that people went there after the theatre to eat oysters and
drink liqueurs; and he had heard that the waiters there spoke French and
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German. Walking swiftly by at night he had seen cabs drawn up before
the door and richly-dressed ladies, escorted by cavaliers.
He turned to the right towards Capel Street. Ignatius Gallaher on the
London Press! Who would have thought it possible eight years before?
Still, now that he reviewed the past, Little Chandler could remember many
signs of future greatness in his friend. People used to say that Ignatius
Gallaher was wild. Of course, he did mix with a rakish set of fellows at
that time; drank freely and borrowed money on all sides. In the end he
had got mixed up in some shady affair, some money transaction: at least,
that was one version of his flight. But nobody denied him talent. There
was always a certain...something in Ignatius Gallaher that impressed you
in spite of yourself. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end
for money he kept up a bold face.
Little Chandler quickened his pace. For the first time in his life he
felt himself superior to the people he passed. For the first time his soul
revolted against the dull inelegance of Capel Street. There was no doubt
about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do
nothing in Dublin. As he crossed Grattan Bridge he looked down the
river towards the lower quays and pitied the poor stunted houses. They
seemed to him a band of tramps, huddled together along the riverbanks,
their old coats covered with dust and soot. He wondered whether he could
write a poem to express his idea. Perhaps Gallaher might be able to get it
into some London paper for him. Could he write something original? He
was not sure what idea he wished to express, but the thought that a poetic
moment had touched him, took life within him like an infant hope.
Every step brought him nearer to London, farther from his own
sober inartistic life. A light began to tremble on the horizon of his mind.
He was not so old – thirty-two. His temperament might be said to be
just at the point of maturity. There were so many different moods and
impressions that he wished to express in verse. He felt them within him.
Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought,
but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith. If he could
give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen. He
would never be popular: he saw that. He could not sway the crowd, but
he might appeal to a little circle of kindred minds. The English critics,
perhaps, would recognize him as one of the Celtic school by reason of the
melancholy tone of his poems. He would speak to Gallaher about it.
As he came near Corless’s his former agitation began to overmaster
him and he halted before the door in indecision. Finally he opened the
door and entered.
The light and noise of the bar held him at the doorway for a few
moments. He looked about him, but his sight was confused by the shining
of many red and green wineglasses. He glanced quickly to right and left
and when his sight cleared a little he saw that nobody had turned to look
at him: and there, sure enough, was Ignatius Gallaher leaning with his
back against the counter.
«Hallo, Tommy, old hero, here you are! What is it to be? What will
you have? I’m taking whisky.»
Ignatius Gallaher took off his hat and displayed a large closely­cropped head. His face was heavy, pale, and cleanshaven. His eyes,
which were of bluish colour, relieved his unhealthy pallor and shone out
plainly above the vivid orange tie he wore. Between these rival features
the lips appeared very long and shapeless and colourless. He bent his
head and felt with two sympathetic fingers the thin hair at the crown.
Little Chandler shook his head as a denial. Ignatius Gallaher put on his
hat again.
«It pulls you down», he said. «Press life. Always hurry and sсurry,
looking for copy and sometimes not finding it: and then, always to have
something new in your stuff. Damn proofs and printers, I say, for a few
days. I’m deuced glad, I can tell you, to get back to the old country. Does
a fellow good, a bit of a holiday. I feel a ton better since I landed again
in dear, dirty Dublin.»
Little Chandler allowed his whisky to be very much diluted.
«I drink very little as a rule», said Little Chandler modestly.
They clinked glasses and drank the toast.
«Tommy», said Ignatius, «I see you haven’t changed an atom. You’re
the very same serious person that used to lecture me on Sunday mornings
when I had a sore head and a fur on my tongue. You’d want to knock about
a bit in the world. Have you never been anywhere even for a trip?»
«I’ve been to the Isle of Man,» said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher laughed.
«The Isle of Man!» he said. «Go to London or Paris: Paris; for
choice. That’d do you good.»
«Have you seen Paris?»
«I should think I have! I’ve knocked about there a little.»
«And is it really so beautiful as they say?» asked Little Chandler.
He sipped a little of his drink while Ignatius Gallaher finished his
«Beautiful?» said Ignatius Gallaher, pausing on the word and on
the flavour of his drink. «It’s not so beautiful, you know. Of course it is
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beautiful. But it’s the life of Paris; that’s the thing. Ah, there’s no city like
Paris for gaiety, movement, excitement...»
Little Chandler finished his whisky and, after some trouble,
succeeded in catching the barman’s eye. He ordered the same again.
«I’ve been to the Moulin Rouge», Ignatius Gallaher continued
when the barman had removed their glasses, «and I’ve been to all the
Bohemian cafes.»
Little Chandler looked at his friend enviously. «Everything in Paris
is gay», said Ignatius Gallaher. «They believe in enjoying life – and don’t
you think they’re right? If you want to enjoy yourself properly you must
go to Paris. And, mind you, they’ve a great feeling for the Irish there.
When they heard I was from Ireland they were ready to eat me, man.»
Little Chandler took four or five sips from his glass.
«Tell me», he said, «is it true that Paris is so...immoral, as they say?»
Ignatius Gallaher made a catholic gesture with his right arm.
«Every place is immoral,» he said. «Of course you do find spicy
bits in Paris. Go to one of the students’ balls, for instance. That’s lively,
if you like, when the cocottes begin to let themselves loose. You know
what they are, I suppose?»
«I’ve heard of them», said Little Chandler.
Ignatius Gallaher drank off his whisky and shook his head.­
«Ah,» he said, «you may say what you like. There’s no woman like
the Parisienne – for style, for go.»
Ignatius Gallaher puffed thoughtfully at his cigar and then, in
a calm historian’s tone, he proceeded to sketch for his friend some
­pictures of the corruption which was rife abroad. He summarized the
vices of many capitals and seemed inclined to award the palm to Berlin.
Some things he could not vouch for (his friends had told him), but of
others he had personal experience. He spared neither ­rank nor caste. He
revealed many secrets and described some of the practices which were
fashionable in high society, and ended by telling, with details, a story
about an English duchess – a story which he knew to be true. Little
Chandler was astonished.
«Ah, well,» said Ignatius Gallaher, «here we are in old Dublin
where nothing is known of such things.»
«How dull you must find it,» said Little Chandler, «after all the
other places you’ve seen.»
«Well,» said Ignatius Gallaher, «it’s a relaxation to come over here,
you know. And, after all, it’s the old country, as they say, isn’t it? You
can’t help having a certain feeling for it. That’s human nature...But tell
me something about yourself. Hogan told me you had...tasted the joys of
family life. Two years ago, wasn’t it?»
Little Chandler blushed and smiled.
«Yes,» he said. «I was married last May twelve months.» «I hope
it’s not too late in the day to offer my best wishes,» said Ignatius Gallaher.
«I didn’t know your address.»
He extended his hand, which Little Chandler took. «Well, Tommy,»
he said, «I wish you and yours every joy in life, old chap, and tons of
money, and may you never die till I shoot you. And that’s the wish of a
sincere friend, an old friend. You know that?»
«I know that,» said Little Chandler.
«Any youngsters?» said Ignatius Gallaher.
Little Chandler blushed again.
«We have one child,» he said.
«Son or daughter?»
«A little boy.»
Ignatius Gallaher slapped his friend on the back.
«Bravo,» he said, «I wouldn’t doubt you, Tommy.»
Little Chandler smiled, looked confusedly at his glass and bit his
lower lip with three childishly white front teeth.
«I hope you’ll spend an evening with us,» he said, «before you
go back. My wife will be delighted to meet you. We can have a little
music and...»
«I’m awfully sorry, old man. But I must leave tomorrow night.»
Little Chandler ordered the drinks. Three small whiskies had gone
to his head and Gallaher’s strong cigar had confused his mind, for he was
a delicate and abstinent person. The adventure of meeting Gallaher after
eight years, of finding himself with Gallaher in Corless’s surrounded by
lights and noise, of listening to Gallaher’s stories and of sharing for a
brief space Gallaher’s vagrant and triumphant life, upset the equipoise
of his sensitive nature. He felt acutely the contrast between his own life
and his friend’s, and it seemed to him unjust. Gallaher was his inferior
in birth and education. He was sure that he could do something better
than his friend had ever done, or could ever do, something higher than
mere tawdry journalism if he only got the chance. What was it that stood
in his way? His unfortunate timidity! He wished to vindicate himself in
some way, to assert his manhood. He saw behind Gallaher’s refusal of
his invitation. Gallaher was only patronizing him by his friendliness just
as he was patronizing Ireland by his visit.
The barman brought their drinks. Little Chandler pushed one glass
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towards his friend and took up the other boldly.
«Who knows?» he said, as they lifted their glasses. «When you
come next year I may have the pleasure of wishing long life and happiness
to Mr. and Mrs. Ignatius Gallaher.»
Ignatius Gallaher in the act of drinking closed one eye expressively
over the rim of his glass. When he had drunk he smacked his lips
decisively, set down his glass and said:
«No blooming fear of that, my boy. I’m going to have my fling first
and see a bit of life and the world before I put my head in the sack if I
ever do.»
«Some day you will,» said Little Chandler calmly. Ignatius Gallaher
turned his blue eyes full upon his friend.
«You think so?» he said.
«You’ll put your head in the sack,» repeated Little Chandler stoutly,
«like everyone else if you can find the girl.»
Ignatius Gallaher watched him for a few moments and then said:
«If ever it occurs, you may bet your bottom dollar there’ll be no mooning
and spooning about it. I mean to marry money. She’ll have a good fat
account at the bank or she won’t do for me.»
Little Gallaher shook his head.
«Why, man alive,» said Ignatius Gallaher, «do you know what it
is? I’ve only to say the word and tomorrow I can have the woman and
the cash. You don’t believe it? Well, I know it. There are hundreds –
what am I saying? – thousands of rich Germans and Jews, rotten with
money, that’d only be too glad … But I’m in no hurry. They can wait. I
don’t fancy tying myself up to one woman, you know.»
Little Chandler sat in the room of the hall, holding a child in his
arms. To save money they kept no servant, but Annie’s young sister
Monica came for an hour or so in the morning to help. But Monica had
gone home long ago. It was a quarter to nine. Little Chandler had come
home late for tea and, moreover, he had forgotten to bring Annie home
the parcel of coffee from Bewley’s. Of course she was in a bad humour
and gave him short answers. She said she would do without any tea, but
when it came near the time at which the shop at the corner closed she
decided to go out herself for a quarter of a pound of tea and two pounds
of sugar. She put the sleeping child deftly in his arms and said:
«Here. Don’t waken him.»
A little lamp with a white china shade stood upon the table and its
light fell over a photograph which was enclosed in a frame of crumpled
horn. It was Annie’s photograph. Little Chandler looked coldly into the
eyes of the photograph and they answered coldly. Certainly they were
pretty and the face itself was pretty. But he found something mean in
it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes
irritated him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion
in them, no rapture. He thought of what Gallaher had said about rich
Jewesses. Those dark Oriental eyes, he thought, how full they are of
passion! … Why had he married the eyes in the photograph?
He caught himself up at the question and glanced nervously round
the room. He found something mean in the pretty furniture which he had
bought for his house on the hire system. Annie had chosen it herself and
it reminded him of her. It was prim, too. A dull resentment against his life
awoke within him. Could he not escape from his little house? Was it too
late for him to try to live bravely like Gallaher? Could he go to London?
There was the furniture still to be paid for. If he could only write a book
and get it published, that might open the way for him.
A volume of Byron’s poems lay before him on the table. He opened
it cautiously with his left hand lest he should waken the child and began
to read the first poem in the book.
He paused. He felt the rhythm of the verse about him in the room.
How melancholy it was! Could he, too, write like that, express the
melancholy of his soul in verse? There were so many things he wanted
to describe: his sensation of a few hours before on Grattan Bridge, for
example. If he could get back again into that mood...
The child awoke and began to cry. He turned from the page and
tried to hush it: but it would not be hushed. He began to rock it to and fro
in his arms, but its wailing cry grew keener. He rocked it faster while his
eyes began to read the second stanza.
It was useless. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t do anything. The
wailing of the child pierced the drum of his ear. It was useless, useless!
He was a prisoner for life. His arms trembled with anger and suddenly
bending to the child’s face he shouted: «Stop!»
The child stopped for an instant, had a spasm of fright and began
to scream. He jumped up from his chair and walked hastily up and down
the room with the child in his arms. It began to sob piteously, losing its
breath for four or five seconds and then bursting out anew...
The door was burst open and a young woman ran in, panting.
«What is it? What is it?» she cried.­
The child, hearing its mother’s voice, broke out into a paroxysm of
«It’s nothing, Annie... it's nothing …. He began to cry...»
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She flung her parcels on the floor and snatched the child from him.
«What have you done to him?» she cried, glaring into his face.
Little Chandler sustained for one moment the gaze of her eyes
and his heart closed together as he met the hatred in them. He began
to stammer.
«It's nothing...He...he...began to cry…I couldn’t…I didn’t do
Little Chandler felt his cheeks suffused with shame and he stood
back out of the lamplight. He listened while the paroxysm of the child’s
sobbing grew less; and tears of remorse started to his eyes.
1. Who are the main characters of the text?
2. Was Gallaher a success in life?
3. Why was Chandler called little?
4. What happened in the life of the two former friends within eight
5. What was little Chandler thinking about while sitting in his
6. Why did Ignatius Gallaher leave Dublin for London?
7. In what manner is Dublin presented?
8. What did Little Chandler dream of while going to the place of
9. What kind of place was Corless’s?
10. What did Ignatius look like when Tom Chandler saw him?
11. What was their conversation about?
12. What did Little Chandler feel listening to Ignatius’s chat?
13. How did Gallaher describe Paris? Why?
14. Why was Chandler confused when he was telling his former
friend about his family?
15. What kind of marriage did Gallaher prefer?
16. What kind of life did Little Chandler and his wife Annie lead?
17. What were their relations like?
18. What made Little Chandler feel resentment against his life?
19. What did the main character feel when he was unable to hush
the child?
20. Do you think not in vain the author gave his character a speaking
1. Gallaher’s heart was in the right place…
2. People used to say that Ignatius Gallaher was wild.
3. Even when he was out at elbows and at his wits’ end for money he
kept a bold face.
4. There’s no woman like the Parisienne – for style, for go.
5. Gallaher was his inferior in birth and education.
6. He was a prisoner for life.
1. Prove that success in life depends on many factors.
2. The bachelor’s life is much easier and more interesting than the
life of a married man.
3. Family relations are always complicated.
4. Love never lasts forever.
5. It’s always very difficult to become somebody in life.
1. Deeds not words.
Нужны дела, а не слова.
2. First deserve and then desire.
По заслугам и честь.
3. A good Jack makes a good Jill.
У хорошего мужа и жена хороша.
4. Life is not all cakes and ale.
Жизнь прожить – не поле перейти.
5. Stretch your legs according to the coverlet.
Не так живи, как хочется, а так, как можется.
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аfter Somerset Maugham
St. Laurent de Maroni is a pretty little place. It is neat and clean. It
exists for the group of prison camps of which it is the centre. My object
here is to tell a story. As I am well aware, one can never know everything
about human nature. One can be sure only of one thing, and that is that
it will never cease to have a surprise in store for you. I should inform the
reader that three-quarters of the convicts at St. Laurent de Maroni are
there for murder. I spent the better part of one day inquiring into crimes
of passion. I wanted to know exactly what was the motive that had made
a man kill his wife or his girl.
I spent another day inquiring into the matter of conscience. Moralists
persuade us that it is one of the most powerful agents in the human
behaviour. It is generally accepted that murder is a shocking crime, and
it is the murderer above all other criminals who is supposed to suffer
But only in one man did I discern anything that might appropriately
be called a conscience, and his story was so remarkable that I think it well
worth narrating.
I met him on my first visit to the camp with the commandant. He was
a handsome man, tall, erect and lean, with flashing dark eyes and cleancut, strong features. He had a fine head of long, naturally­ waving dark
brown hair. This at once made him look different from the rest of the
prisoners, whose hair is close-cropped. The commandant spoke to him of
some official business.
«He’s a very decent fellow,» he said. «He’s in the accountant’s
department, and he’s had leave to let his hair grow. He’s delighted.»
«What is he here for?» I asked. «He killed his wife. But he’s only got six
years. He’s clever and a good worker. He’ll do well. He comes from a
very decent family and he’s had an excellent education.»
I thought no more of Jean Charvin, but by chance I met him next day
on the road. He was coming towards me. He told me he was taking some
papers from the bank. There was a pleasing frankness in his face.
«Are you fond of reading?» I asked. «Very. I think the want of books
is what I most suffer from now. The few I can get hold of I’m forced to
read over and over again.»
I saw him twice more during my stay at St. Laurent. He told me his
story, but I will tell it now in my words.
Jean’s natural gift for figures made it easy for him to get a place
in the accountant’s department of a large exporting house. Through his
childhood and his young manhood, he lived in the constant companionship
of a boy called Henri Renard whose father was also an official in the
Customs. Jean and Riri went to school together, played together, worked
for their examinations together, spent their holidays together, for the two
families were intimate, had their first affairs with girls together, partnered
one another in the local tennis tournaments, and did their military service
together. They never quarrelled. They were never so happy as in one
another’s society. They were inseparable. When the time came for them
to start working they decided that they would go into the same firm; but
that was not so easy; Jean tried to get Riri a job in the exporting house
that had engaged him, but could not manage it, and it was not till a year
later, that Riri got something to do. But by then trade was as bad at Le
Havre, as everywhere else, and in a few months he found himself once
more without employment.
Riri was a light-hearted youth, and he enjoyed his leisure. He danced,
bathed and played tennis. It was thus that he made the acquaintance of
a girl who had recently come to live at Le Havre. Her father had been a
captain in the colonial army and on his death her mother had returned to
Le Havre, which was her native place. Marie-Louise was then eighteen.
She had spent almost all her life in Tonkin. This gave her an exotic
attraction for the young men who had never been out of France in their
lives, and first Riri, then Jean, fell in love with her. Perhaps that was
inevitable; it was certainly unfortunate. She was a well-brought-up girl,
an only child, and her mother, besides her pension, had a little money of
her own. It was evident that she could be pursued only with a view to
marriage. Of course Riri, dependent for the while entirely on his father,
could not make an offer, but having the whole day to himself was able to
see a great deal more of Marie-Louise than Jean could. Madame Meurice
was something of an invalid, so that Marie-Louise had more liberty than
most French girls of her age and station. She knew that both Riri and
Jean were in love with her, she liked them both and was pleased by their
attentions, but she gave no sign that she was in love with either. It was
impossible to tell which she preferred. She was well aware that Riri was
not in a position to marry her.
«What did she look like?» I asked Jean Charvin.
«She was small, with a pretty little figure, with large grey eyes, a pale
skin and soft, mouse-coloured hair. She was rather like a little mouse.
She was not beautiful, but pretty; there was something very appealing
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about her. She was easy to get on with. You couldn’t help feeling that she
would make anyone a good wife.»
Jean and Riri hid nothing from one another and Jean made no secret
of the fact that he was in love with Marie-Louise, but Riri had met her
first and it was an understood thing between them that Jean should not
stand in his way. At length she made her choice. One day Riri waited for
Jean to come away from his office and told him that Marie-Louise had
consented to marry him. They had arranged that as soon as he got a job
his father should go to her mother and make the formal offer. Jean was
hard hit. It was not easy to listen with sympathy to the plans Riri made
for the future. But he was too much attached to Riri to feel sore with him;
he knew how lovable he was and he could not blame Marie-Louise. He
tried with all his might to accept honestly the sacrifice he made on the
altar of friendship.
«Why did she choose him rather than you?» I asked.
«He had immense vitality. He was the gayest, most amusing lad you
ever met. His high spirits were infectious. You couldn’t be dull in his
«Was he good-looking?»
«No,not very. But he had a nice, good-humoured face.» Jean Charvin
smiled rather pleasantly. «I think without any vanity I can say that I was
better-looking than Riri.»
But Riri did not get a job. His father, tired of keeping him in idleness,
wrote to everyone he could think of, the members of his family and his
friends in various parts of France, asking them if they could not find
something for Riri to do; and at last he got a letter from a cousin in Lyons
who was in the silk business to say that his firm were looking for a young
man to go out to Phnom-Penh, in Cambodia, where they had a branch, to
buy native silk for them. If Riri was willing to take the job he could get
it for him.
But to Riri’s dismay Marie-Louise told him that nothing would induce
her to. In the first place she could not desert her mother, whose health was
obviously declining; and then, after having at last settled down in France,
she was determined never again to leave it. She was sympathetic to Riri,
but resolute.
Jean hated losing him, but from the moment Riri told him his bad
news, he had realised that fate was playing into his hands. With Riri out
of his way for five years Jean could not doubt that after a while MarieLouise would marry him. His circumstances, his respectable position in
Le Havre, where she could be near her mother, would make her think
it very sensible; and when she was no longer under the spell of Riri’s
charm there was no reason why her great liking for him should not turn to
love. Life changed for him. After months of misery he was happy again,
and though he kept them to himself he too now made great plans for the
future. There was no need any longer to try not to love Marie-Louise.
Suddenly his hopes were shattered. One of the shipping firms at Le
Havre had a vacancy, and it looked as though the application that Riri had
quickly made would be favourably considered. A friend in the office told
him that it was a certainty. It would settle everything. It was an old and
conservative house, and it was well known that when you once got into
it you were there for life. Jean Charvin was in despair, and the worst of
it was that he had to keep his anguish to himself. One day the director of
his own firm sent for him.
When he reached this point Jean stopped. A harassed look came into
his eyes.
«I’m going to tell you something now that I’ve never told to anyone
before. I’m an honest man, a man of principle; I’m going to tell you of
the only discreditable action I’ve ever done in my life.»
I must remind the reader here that Jean Charvin was wearing the
pink and white stripes of the convict’s uniform and serving a term of
imprisonment for the murder of his wife.
«I couldn’t imagine what the director wanted with me. He was
sitting at his desk when I went into his office, and he gave me a searching
«I want to ask you a question of great importance,» he said. «I wish
you to treat it as confidential. I shall of course treat your answer as equally
so.» I waited. He went on:
«You’ve been with us for a considerable time. I am very well satisfied
with you, there is no reason why you shouldn’t reach a very good position
in the firm. I put implicit confidence in you.»
«Thank you, sir,» I said. «I will always try to merit your good
«The question at issue is this. Monsieur Untel is proposing to engage
Henri Renard. He is very particular about the character of his employees,
and in this case it is essential that he shouldn’t make a mistake. Part of
Henri Renard’s duties would be to pay the crews of the firm’s ships, and
many hundreds of thousand francs will pass through his hands. I know
that Henri Renard is your great friend and that your families have always
been very intimate. I put you on your honour to tell me whether monsieur
Untel would be justified in engaging this young man.»
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«I saw at once what the question meant. If Riri got the job he would
stay and marry Marie-Louise, if he didn’t he would go out to Cambodia
and I should marry her. I swear to you it was not I who answered, it was
someone who stood in my shoes and spoke with my voice. I had nothing
to do with the words that came from my mouth.»
«Monsieur le directeur,» I said, «Henri and I have been friends all
our lives. We have never been separated for a week. We went to school
together; we shared our pocket-money and our mistresses when we were
old enough to have them; we did our military service together.» «I know.
You know him better than anyone in the world. That is why I ask you
these questions.»
«It is not fair, Monsieur le directeur. You are asking me to betray my
friend. I cannot, and I will not answer your questions.»
The director gave me a shrewd smile. He thought himself much
cleverer than he really was.
«Your answer does you credit, but it has told me all I wished to
know.» Then he smiled kindly. I suppose I was pale, I dare say I was
trembling a little. «Pull yourself together, my dear boy; you’re upset and
I can understand it. Sometimes in life one is faced by a situation where
honesty stands on the one side and loyalty on the other. Of course one
mustn’t hesitate, but the choice is bitter. I shall not forget your behaviour
in this case and on behalf of Monsieur Untel I thank you.»
I withdrew. Next morning Riri received a letter informing him that
his services were not required, and a month later he sailed for the far
Six months after this Jean Charvin and Marie-Louise were married.
Jean wrote to Riri telling him the facts and Riri wrote back warmly
congratulating him. He assured him that he need have no compunctions
on his behalf. He was finding consolation at Phnom­-Penh. His letter was
very cheerful. From the beginning Jean had told himself that Riri, with
his mercurial temperament, would soon forget Marie-Louise, and his
letter looked as if he had already done so. It was a justification. For if he
had lost Marie-Louise, he would have died; with him it was a matter of
life and death.
For a year Jean and Marie-Louise were extremely happy. Madame
Meurice died, and Marie-Louise inherited a couple of hundred thousand
francs; but with the depression and the unstable currency they decided
not to have a child till the economic situation was less uncertain. MarieLouise was a good housekeeper. She was an affectionate, amiable and
satisfactory wife. She was placid. This before he married her had seemed
to Jean a rather charming trait, but as time wore on it was borne in upon
him that her placidity came from a certain lack of emotional ardour. It
concealed no depth. He had always thought she was like a little mouse:
there was something mouse-like in her furtive reticences; she was oddly
serious about trivial matters and could busy herself indefinitely with
things that were of no consequence. She had her own tiny little set of
interests and they left no room in her pretty sleek head for any others.
She sometimes began a novel, but seldom cared to finish it. Jean was
obliged to admit to himself that she was rather dull. The uneasy thought
came to him that perhaps it had not been worth while to do a dirty trick
for her sake. It began to worry him. He missed Riri. He tried to persuade
himself that what was done was done but he could not quite still the
prickings of his conscience. He wished now that when the director of his
firm spoke to him he had answered differently.
Then a terrible thing happened. Riri contracted typhoid fever and
died. It was a frightful shock for Jean. It was a shock to Marie-Louise
too; she paid Riri’s parents the proper visit of condolence but she neither
ate less heartily nor slept less soundly. Jean was exasperated by her
Jean felt that he had killed him. If he had told the director all the good
he knew of Riri, knew as no one else in the world did, he would have got
the post and would now be alive and well.
«I shall never forgive myself,» he thought. «I shall never be happy
again. Oh, what a fool I was.»
Jean was tortured by remorse. What he had suffered before was
nothing to what he suffered now. The anguish that the recollection of
his treachery caused him was worse than a physical pain gnawing at his
vitals. He began to dislike her. For it was for her that he had done the
shameful thing, and what was she? An ordinary, commonplace, rather
calculating little woman.
«What a fool I’ve been,» he repeated.
He did not even find her pretty any more. He knew now that she was
terribly stupid. She bored him to distraction. Though he said nothing,
though he was kind, amiable and indulgent, he could often have killed
her. When he did, however, it was almost without meaning to. It was
ten months after Riri’s death, and Riri’s parents, Monsieur and Madame
Renard, gave a party to celebrate the engagement of their daughter. The
party had been very gay. It gave Jean a nasty turn when he found that
they were using Riri’s old room for the women to put their wraps in
and the men their coats. There was plenty of champagne. Jean drank a
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great deal to drown the bitter remorse that tormented him. He wanted to
deaden the sound in his ears of Riri’s laugh. It was three o’clock when
they got home. Next day was Sunday, so Jean had no work to go to. They
slept late. The rest I can tell in Jean Charvin’s own words.
«I had a headache when I woke. Marie-Louise was not in bed. She
was sitting at the dressing-table brushing her hair. I’ve always been very
keen on physical culture, and I was in the habit of doing exercises every
morning. I got out of bed and took up my Indian clubs.
Our bedroom was fairly large and there was plenty of room to swing
them between the bed and the dressing-table where Marie-­Louise was
sitting. I did my usual exercises. Marie-Louise had started a little while
before having her hair cut differently, quite short, and I thought repulsive.
From the back she looked like a boy, and the stubble of cropped hair on
her neck made me feel rather sick. She put down her brushes and began
to powder her face. She gave a nasty little laugh.
«What are you laughing at?» I asked.» «Madame Renard. That was
the same dress she wore at our wedding, she’d had it dyed and done over;
but it didn’t deceive me. I’d have known it anywhere.»
«It was such a stupid remark, it infuriated me. I was seized with rage,
and with all my might I hit her over the head with my Indian club. I broke
her skulI, apparently, and she died two days later in hospital without
recovering consciousness.»
He paused for a moment. I handed him a cigarette and lit another
myself. «I was glad she died. We could never have lived together again,
and it would have been very hard to explain my action.» «Very.»
«I was arrested and tried for murder. Of course I swore it was an
accident, I said the club had slipped out of my hand, but the medical
evidence was against me. Fortunately for me they could find no motive.
We were generally looked upon as a devoted couple. My character was
excellent and my employer spoke in the highest terms of me. In the end I
was sentenced to six years. I don’t regret what I did, for from that day, all
the time I was in prison awaiting my trial, and since, while I’ve been here,
I’ve ceased to worry about Riri.If I believed in ghosts I’d be inclined to say
that Marie-Louise’s death had laid Riri’s. Anyhow, my conscience is at rest,
and after all the torture I suffered I can assure you that everything I’ve gone
through since is worth it; I feel I can now look the world in the face again.»
I know that this is a fantastic story. If this had been a tale that I was
inventing I would certainly have made it more probable. As it is, unless I
had heard it with my own ears I am not sure that I should believe it.
I had asked him what were his plans for the future.
«A clever accountant like me, and a man who’s honest and industrious,
can always get work. Of course I shan’t be able to live in Le Havre, but
the director of my firm has business connections at Lille and Lyons and
Marseilles. He’s promised to do something for me. No, I look forward
to the years to come with a good deal of confidence. I shall settle down
somewhere, and as soon as I’m comfortably fixed up I shall marry. After
what I’ve been through I want a home.»
Jean Charvin’s eyes searched the distance as though to see the
«But next time I marry,» he said thoughtfully, «I shan’t marry for
love, I shall marry for money.»
1. What brought the narrator to St. Laurent de Maroni?
2. What made him narrate the story?
3. Was there anything special in Jean Charvin’s looks?
4. What facts from Jean Charvin’s life did you learn from the text?
5. Why was Riri very unhappy about his employment?
6. What did Henry Renard do in between the jobs?
7. Under what circumstances did Marie-Louise appear in Le Havre?
8. What kind of girl was she?
9. Was Henri’s financial position better than that of the girl?
10. Why did the friends make no secret of the fact that they both were
in love with the girl?
11. What choice did Marie-Louise make?
12. How did Jean accept it?
13. How did Henri get his job at last?
14. Why didn’t Marie-Louise want to accompany Riri to PhnomPenh?
15. What did Jean feel when he learned about the girl’s refusal?
16. What event shattered his hopes?
17. Did he perform a discreditable action out of despair?
18. Did Jean Charvin deserve the director’s praise?
19. What was Henri’s reaction to the news of his friend and his former
girl-friend’s marriage?
20. Did Jean and Marie-Louise’s happiness last long?Why not?
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21. What happened to Riri in Cambodia?
22. Was his death a great shock for all who knew him?
23. Why was Jean tortured by remorse?
24. What event worsened Jean’s condition?
25. How did the next day after the party begin?
26. How did it finish?
27. Why was it difficult for the police to prove Jean’s guilt?
28. Why was Jean’s conscience at rest now?
29. What were his plans for the future?
1. It was evident that she could be pursued only with a view to
2. ...was pleased by their attentions…
3. ...he had realised that fate was playing into his hands.
4. ...when you once got into it you were there for life.
5. He is very particular about the character of his employees…
1. There are no friends in love.
2. Betrayal is a nasty thing and cannot be justified.
3. Every crime deserves punishment.
4. You can never know what to expect of a man.
1. A guilty conscience needs no accuser.
Нечистая совесть спать не дает.
2. A fair face may hide a foul heart.
Лицом гладок, а делами гадок.
3. Handsome is that handsome does.
Красив тот, кто красиво поступает.
4. Murder will out.
Шила в мешке не утаишь.
after Jean McCord
I left the orphanage at seventeen. A married couple had asked for a
girl to help out around the house. As I was the oldest girl at Good Hope,
I got the chance to start a life of my own.
I’don’t think I was quite what the Fergusons had in mind. I was a big
person with straight hair, weak eyes, and a manner that was shy, and bold
at the same time.
They lived almost in the country. They had more than ten acres of
land in a small town where Mr. Ferguson taught high school and Mrs.
Ferguson worked in a hat store. I settled in a small downstairs room they
gave me, and I was very happy with it. But I didn’t completely unpack
my suitcase for a long time because I expected to be sent back to the
My job with the Fergusons was simple enough; I was to clean, cook,
and do the dishes. The rest of the time was my own. If I wanted to do
anything else around the place, that was my business, they said.
After I had been there a month,I had worked hard and well enough
to surprise them completely. The orphanage had trained me well. Mr.
Ferguson said one evening as he sat at the table and I was gathering up the
dishes, «Alice, we’ve decided you are well worth more than your room and
board. We’re going to give you five dollars a week, starting tomorrow.»
I was taken by surprise and could only mumble something and turn
away from him. But as I washed the dishes, I felt terrible. I wanted to
throw all the dishes on the floor and run into the front room where they
were sitting and shout at them, «I don’t want your money. Take it back!
Oh, please don’t do this to me!» Were they so blind they couldn’t see
anything that went on inside my brain? Of course they couldn’t. No one
ever does; but I didn’t know that then.
Ever since I could remember, I’d been told that I had no parents. So
I had imagined my own parents. My father, I’d decided, was a famous
lawyer. And my mother had been a wonderful movie star who had given
up everything to marry my father and to have me. And my status as a
lonely child living in a country orphanage? Very simple! I had been
stolen by kidnappers, held for an enormous ransom, and even though my
loving parents had paid millions of dollars to get me back, I had been
transported across the country and abandoned. So here I was. It was a
fiction that helped me to sleep happily nearly every night of my life.
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In the month that I’d been living with the Fergusons I became to
realize that my dreams had changed. The movie-star mother and the
famous father had gone into the back of my mind, and the Fergusons had
taken their place. That was why I was so hurt when Mr. Ferguson offered
me money. I thought about it for some days and then decided that maybe
this was a way to tell me how much they thought of me.
When guests came to the Fergusons, Mrs. Ferguson would say, «Alice
is a real treasure! We are very lucky to have her.» I was so happy to hear
it. There was only one trouble I had. It was their dog King, he didn’t like
me from the moment I arrived there. I had made one or two small tries at
friendship giving him food from my hand. Though he accepted it, I felt that
he hated and feared me. I understood the whole thing only much later. Poor
King! He was worried that I could replace him in the hearts of his owners.
The Fergusons talked a lot about their future. I listened to them and
felt almost a part of their conversation.
«In about two years,» Mr. Ferguson would say, «we'll sell the house,
take the money and old King, and go to Alaska.» He looked so excited,
jumping up from his chair and dancing with his wife, King barking madly
and running around them. I would smile and smile. For we were all going
to Alaska. We were going to start a new life, pioneers in a new land where
there was freedom and opportunity for all. Alaska itself was almost too
much for my practical imagination. I could think only of Eskimos and a
polar bear jumping around here and there. I could only see us as a family,
living on a farm or ranch, growing cabbages as big as washtubs.
Meanwhile, I made myself work all the time for the Fergusons. I
began getting up so early that I had time to make breakfast, feed the
chickens and the cat. I wasn’t spending any of my money. Each week
I took the five-dollar bill they gave me, and put it inside my shabby
suitcase. «Some day,» I thought, «the suitcase will be completely filled,
and I’ll give it all back to them, saying ’Please, I want you to take this,
for I don’t really need it.»
Sometimes I saw Mrs. Ferguson looking at me rather strangely. Once
she said, «Alice, don’t you want to go into town and buy yourself some
nice new clothes?»
«No, Ma’am!» I almost shouted at her. I couldn’t think of touching any
of my hidden money. And what did new clothes mean to me, coming from
an orphanage where we were given a few new things only once a year?
It was about a week later that Mrs Ferguson knocked politely and
came into my little room with a bundle of clothes. «Alice, my dear,» she
said, «I hope you won’t take this in the wrong way. But there are some
things of Mr. Ferguson’s that might fit you, and they would be all right to
wear in the house.» There were six shirts and two pairs of pants, and of
course, I was glad to have them. I was used to second-hand clothes. So
I thanked her, and wore them every day from then on. I had no need for
any other kind of clothes, for I never went into town. There was nobody
I knew and nothing that I needed.
There was one dreadful thing that happened late in the summer, after
which I wept every night for a week. It was a Sunday afternoon and the
Fergusons had guests. I went into the kitchen and heard them discussing
me. I knew I should leave, but I held my breath and waited for Mrs.
Ferguson to say some nice things, such as «Alice is a real jewel. We are
so lucky to have her.»
One of the guests asked, «But what about her schooling? Doesn’t she
want to go back and finish? Perhaps go on to college?»
Mrs. Ferguson said with an icy laugh: «I’m afraid Alice doesn’t have
the mental equipment for college.»
I felt a terrible pain. What did she mean, «mental equipment»? I ran
into my room, feeling like a thief in this house for the first time. I didn’t
go for my work then, but left the house quietly, and walked all the rest of
the day, thinking about those overheard words. How could Mrs Ferguson
say that I didn’t have the mental equipment? I had never had any trouble
making good grades in school.
The next day my eyes were swollen, and I sniffed constantly. Mrs
Ferguson said, with concern, «Aren’t you feeling well, Alice?»
I answered, «I think I’m catching a cold». Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson
were always nice to me after that. Every few months she gave me some
more of his shirts. Night after night I heard them discussing Alaska, while
I was working in the kitchen. After all the work was done, I would go
into my room, take out my suitcase, and count my money. Having been
with the Fergusons for almost two years, I had already about five hundred
dollars. It was for me more money than there was in the whole world.
Once, as I was working outside the house, the Fergusons called me
«We’d like to talk to you, Alice,» said Mr Ferguson. «Sit down. As
you know, we’ve been talking for a long time of going to Alaska.» I
smiled and nodded my head. «I have a new job in Vancouver, British
Columbia, and my wife and I are moving there in two weeks. In the
spring, if all goes well, we’ll be ready to leave for Alaska with the good
weather. So the question is, what do you want to do now? You’ll have
to find another job, somewhere to live, as we’re going to sell this house.
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We’ll give you the best references. Maybe we’ll help you to find a new
place before we leave, if you want us to.»
I had that terrible pain inside once more. «Alaska?» I tried to speak.
«I’m not... Alaska?» But it was clear I wasn’t going and clear that they
had never thought of my going there with them. Where had I got such a
wild idea? It was my crazy imagination again. There was nothing I could
do or say.
That night I did not count my money. I laid my old suitcase on the bed.
Very slowly and carefully I began to put my things next to the money, my
dresses and socks I had brought from the orphanage. I left the shirts and
pants Mrs. Ferguson had given me in the closet. I knew I wouldn’t need
them. I was ready to leave.
Mrs. Ferguson had got me her job in the hat store, so they drove
me into town. We said goodbye, shook hands, and wished good luck to
each other. The Fergusons went out of my life, taking King with them. I
was left with only the memory of two good years and a shabby leather
suitcase with my old clothes and a package of five-dollar bills.
I worked in the hat store for a year, but it was boring. The next year
I went to high school. School seemed easy enough, and I graduated
with honours. But it meant very little since there was no one in the
auditorium to clap sincerely for me when I received my diploma. I got
three postcards from the Fergusons in two years, saying they were still
planning to leave for Alaska. In return, I wrote them long letters, telling
them what I was doing.
After I finished high school, I went back to the hat shop for the
summer, and then I entered the state university. The memory of the words
«doesn’t have the mental equipment» had stayed in my brain forever.
My years in college passed very quickly, and I was ready for another
graduation. The words that Mrs. Ferguson had said so long ago had been
proved completely wrong.
Before graduation day, I carefully and correctly sent an invitation to
the Fergusons. According to their last postcard, they were still living in
Vancouver, waiting for the spring weather to go to Alaska.
It was graduation day when I received their answer. My heart
was beating heavily when I was opening the envelope. The letter said,
«Wishing you the very best of luck. The Fergusons and King.» With the
little note was an elegant lace handkerchief.
So why did I start crying bitterly? Why did I go through the graduation
ceremony with a ton of ice in my chest? And why, when the formal
procedure was over, did I walk down to the bridge across the river that
led to the ocean where Alaska lay? I don’t know. I don’t know either
why I walked to the middle of that bridge and dropped that handkerchief.
It fell down and landed on the dark waters and looked like the sail of a
ship. I thought of Alaska and Eskimos and King playing happily, and the
Fergusons always young and beautiful, and the handkerchief that looked
like a sailboat waiting to move off to Alaska, and myself, Alice, wanting to
leave the orphanage but not knowing how. I thought of how the Fergusons
were always polite but more friendly with King than with me.­
1. At what age did Alice have a chance to start a life of her own?
2. What made Alice doubt that the Fergusons would be pleased
with her?
3. What social position did the Fergusons have?
4. How did the girl feel in a new place?
5. What work about the house did she do?
6. What made the Fergusons pay Alice? Did they do it with the best
7. What was Alice’s reaction to it?
8. How did the girl imagine her parents?
9. Can you understand why the girl wanted to refuse the money?
10. Was Alice happy with the Fergusons?
11. Why did the dog hate the girl?
12. What dreams about the future did the Fergusons have? Was Alice
part of their plans?
13. Did she begin working harder hoping they would take her with
them to Alaska?
14. Why did Mrs. Ferguson bring Alice Mr. Ferguson’s things and
why did Alice accept the «gift» gladly? Didn’t she understand she was
grown up enough to take care of her appearance?
15. What upset the girl so dreadfully one day?
16. Did the Fergusons give Alice any reason to think that for them
she was something more than a helper in the house?
17. Could Mr. Ferguson be not so straightforward in his conversation
with the girl?
18. Could Alice change the situation somehow?
19. In what way did the Fergusons help Alice to adapt to her
independent life?
20. How did the girl’s life change after the Fergusons’ departure?
21. Why wasn’t the main character pleased with her outstanding
success at school?
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22. Though the Fergusons left they still remembered and cared for
Alice, didn’t they?
23. Did Alice go to college to prove that she had the mental equipment
for it?
24. If the Fergusons didn’t leave for Alaska why didn’t they invite
Alice to Vancouver to stay with them?
25. What present did they give Alice as a reward for her most
successful study?
26. Why was Alice in a complete frustration on her graduation day?
1. The orphanage had trained me well.
2. I listened to them and felt almost part of their conversation.
3. I’m afraid Alice doesn’t have the mental equipment for college.
4. It was for me more money than there was in the whole world.
5. School seemed easy enough, and I graduated with honours.
1. Tell what, in your opinion, is the most unbearable thing in the life
of orphans.
2. Try to explain why the children abandoned by their parents imagine
the most incredible stories about their families.
3. Do you think if Alice had told the Fergusons about her dreams
they would have made her a member of their family?
4. Speak on the role of the last paragraph in understanding the
author’s message.
1. Catch the bear before you sell his skin.
Не дели шкуру неубитого медведя.
2. The best way out is through.
Самый лучший выход напрямик.
3. Circumstances alter cases.
Наперед не загадывай.
4. After meat comes mustard.
После поры не точат топоры.
После драки кулаками не машут.
by Conrad Aiken
Michael Lowes hummed as he shaved, amused by the face he saw –
the pallid, asymmetrical face, with the right eye so much higher than the
left, and its eyebrow so peculiarly arched, like a «v» turned upside down.
Perhaps this day wouldn’t be as bad as the last. In fact he knew it wouldn’t
be and that was why he hummed. This was the bi-weekly day of escape,
when he would stay out for the evening, and play bridge with Hurwitz,
Bryant, and Smith. Should he tell Dora at the breakfast table? No, better
not .Particularly in view of last night’s row about unpaid bills. And there
would be more of them, probably, beside his plate. The rent. The coal. The
doctor who had attended to the children. Jeez, what a life. Maybe it was
time to do a new jump. And Dora was beginning to get restless again –
But he hummed, thinking of the bridge game. Not that he liked
Hurwitz or Bryant or Smith – cheap fellows, really – mere pick-up
acquaintances. But what could you do about making friends, when you
were always moving from one place to another, looking for a living, and
fate always against you! They were all right enough. Good enough for a
little escape, a little party…
And it all went off perfectly, too. Dora was quiet at breakfast, but
not hostile. The pile of bills was there, to be sure, but nothing was said
about them. And while Dora was busy getting the kids ready for school
he managed to slip out. He met the others at the Greek restaurant and
they began with wine which warmed him and then decided to walk along
Boylston Street to Smith’s room. It was a cold night, the temperature
below twenty, with a fine dry snow sifting the streets. But Smith’s room
was comfortably warm.
It was during an intermission, when they all got up to stretch their
legs and renew their drinks, that the talk started – Michael never could
remember which one of them it was who had put in the first oar – about
impulse. It might have been Hurwitz, who was in many ways the only
intellectual one of the three.
«Sure,» he said, «anybody might do it. Have you got impulses?
Of course, you got impulses. How many times you think – suppose I
do that? And you don’t do it, because you know if you do it you’ll get
arrested. You meet a man you despise – you want to spit in his eyes.
You see a girl you’d like to kiss – you want to kiss her. Or maybe just
to squeeze her arm when she stands beside you in the street car. You
know what I mean.»
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«It would be easy,» said Hurwitz «to give in to it. You know what I
mean? So simple. Temptation is too close.This girl you see is too damn
good-looking – she stands too near you – you just put out your hand, it
touches her arm – why worry? And you think, maybe if she doesn’t like
it I can make believe I didn’t mean it …»
«Sure … And like these fellows that cut off braids of hair with
scissors. They just feel like it and do it … Or stealing.»
«Stealing?» said Bryant.
«Sure. Why, I often feel like it ... I see a nice little thing: right in front
of me on a counter – you know, a nice little knife, or necktie; or a box of
candy – quick, you put it in your pocket, and then go to the other counter,
or the soda fountain for a drink. What would be more human? We all
want things. Why not take them?»
Michael was astonished at this turn of the talk. He had often felt
both these impulses. To know that this was a kind of universal human
inclination came over him with something like relief.
«Of course, everybody has those feelings,» he said smiling. «I have
them myself...»
The game was resumed, the glasses were refilled, pipes were lit,
watches were looked at. Michael had to think of the last car from Sullivan
Square, at eleven-fifty. But also he could not stop thinking of this strange
idea. It was amusing. It was fascinating. Here was everyone wanting to
steal – toothbrushes, or books – or to caress some fascinating stranger
of a female in a subway train – the impulse everywhere – why not be a
Columbus of the moral world and really do it?
The lights on the snow were very beautiful. The Park Street Church
was ringing, with its queer, soft quarter-bells, the half-hour. Plenty of
time. Plenty of time. Time enough for a visit to the drugstore, and a hot
chocolate – he could see the warm lights of the windows falling on the
snowed sidewalk. He zigzagged across the street and entered.
And at once he was seized with a conviction that his real reason for
entering the drugstore was not to get a hot chocolate – not at all! He was
going to steal something. He was going to put the impulse to the test,
and see whether (one) he could manage it with sufficient skill, and (two)
whether theft gave him any real satisfaction. The drugstore was crowded
with people who had just come from the theatre next door.
Oddly enough, he was not in the least excited; perhaps that was
because of the gin. On the contrary, he was intensely amused; not to say
delighted. He was smiling, as he walked slowly along the right-hand side
of the store toward the back. There were some extremely attractive scent28
sprays. There were stacks of boxed letter-paper. A basket full of clothesbrushes. Green hot-water bottles. A tray of multicolored tooth-brushes,
bottles of Cologne, fountain pens – and then he experienced love at first
sight. There could be no question that he had found his chosen victim. He
gazed, fascinated, at the delicious object – a de luxe safety-razor set, of
heavy gold, in a snakeskin box which was lined with red plush
The whole section of counter was clear for the moment – there were
neither customers nor clerks. He approached the counter, leaned over it
as if to examine something. He was thus leaning directly over the box;
and it was the simplest thing in the world to clasp it as planned between
thumb and forefinger of his other hand, to shut it softly, and to slide it
downward to his pocket. It was over in an instant.
He was in the act of pressing forward in the crowd to ask for his hot
chocolate when he felt a firm hand close round his elbow. He turned, and
looked at a man in a slouch hat and dirty raincoat, with the collar turned
up. The man was smiling in a very offensive way.
«I guess you thought that was pretty smart,» he said in a low voice
which nevertheless managed to convey the very essence of venom and
hostility. «You come along with me, mister.»
Michael returned the smile amiably, but was a little frightened. His
heart began to beat.
«I don’t know what you’re talking about,» he said.
The man was walking toward the rear of the store, and was pulling
Michael along with him, keeping a paralyzingly tight grip on his elbow.
Michael was beginning to be angry, but also to be horrified.
«Get the manager in here,» said the man. He smiled at Michael,
with narrowed eyes, and Michael hating him, but panic-stricken, smiled
foolishly back at him.
The manager had appeared, and the clerk, and events then happened
with revolting and nauseating speed. Michael’s hand was yanked violently
from his pocket, the fatal snakeskin box was pulled out by the detective,
and identified by the manager and the clerk. They both looked at Michael
with a queer expression, in which astonishment, shame, and contempt
were mixed with a vague curiosity.
«Sure that’s ours,» said the manager, looking slowly at Michael.
«I saw him pinch it,» said the detective. «What about it?» He again
smiled offensively at Michael. «Anything to say?»
«It was all a joke,» said Michael, his face feeling very hot and
flushed. «I made a kind of a bet with some friends... I can prove it. I can
call them up for you» .
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The three men looked at him in silence, all three of them. Just faintly
smiling, as if incredulously.
«Sure you can,» said the detective, urbanely. «You can prove it in
court ... Now come along with me, mister.»
Michael was astounded at this appalling turn of events, but his brain
still worked. Perhaps if he were to put it to this fellow as man to man,
when they got outside? As he was thinking this, he was firmly conducted
through a back door into a dark alley at the rear of the store. It had stopped
snowing. A cold wind was blowing. But the world, which had looked so
beautiful fifteen minutes before, had now lost its charm. They walked
together down the alley in six inches of powdery snow, the detective
holding Michael’s arm with affectionate firmness.
They walked along Tremont Street. And Michael couldn’t help, even
then, thinking what an extraordinary thing this was! Here were all these
good people passing them, and little knowing that he, Michael Lowes,
was a thief; a thief by accident, on his way to jail. It seemed so absurd
as hardly to be worth speaking of! And suppose they shouldn’t believe
him? This notion made him shiver. But it wasn’t possible – no, it wasn’t
possible. As soon as he had told his story, and called up Hurwitz and
Bryant and Smith, it would be all laughed off. Yes, laughed off.
He began telling the detective about it: how they had discussed such
impulses over a game of bridge. Just a friendly game, and they had joked
about it and then, just to see what would happen, he had done it. What
was it that made his voice sound so insincere, so hollow? The detective
neither slackened his pace nor turned his head. His businesslike grimness
was alarming. Michael felt that he was paying no attention at all; and,
moreover, it occurred to him that this kind of lowbrow official might not
even understand such a thing ... He decided to try the sentimental. «And
good Lord, man, there’s my wife waiting for me – I.»
«Oh, sure, and the kids too.»
«Yes, and the kids!»
The detective gave a quick leer over the collar of his dirty raincoat .
«And no Santy Claus this year,» he said. Michael saw that it was
hopeless! He was wasting his time.
Arrived at the station, and presented to the lieutenant at the desk,
Michael tried again. Something in the faces of the lieutenant and the
sergeant, as he told his story, made it at once apparent that there was going
to be trouble. They obviously didn’t believe him – not for a moment. But
after consultation, they agreed to call up Bryant and Hurwitz and Smith,
and to make inquiries. The sergeant went off to do this, while Michael sat
on a wooden bench.
The first serious blow then fell. The sergeant, reporting, said that
he hadn’t been able to get Smith but had got Hurwitz and Bryant . Both
of them denied that there had been any bet. They both seemed nervous,
as far as he could make out over the phone. They said they didn’t know
Lowes well, were acquaintances of his, and made it clear that they didn’t
want to be mixed up in anything. Hurwitz had added that he knew Lowes
was hard up.
At this, Michael jumped up to his feet, feeling as if the blood would
burst out of his face.
«The damn liars!» he shouted. «The bloody liars! By God...!»
«Take him away,» said the lieutenant, lifting his eyebrows, and
making a motion with his pen.
Michael lay awake all night in his cell, after talking for five minutes
with Dora on the telephone. Something in Dora’s cool voice had frightened
him more than anything else.
And when Dora came to talk to him the next morning at nine o’clock,
his alarm proved to be well-founded. Dora was cold, detached, deliberate.
She was not at all what he had hoped she might be – sympathetic and
helpful. She didn’t volunteer to get a lawyer, or in fact to do anything –
and when she listened quietly to his story it seemed to him that she had
the appearance of a person listening to a very improbable lie. Again, as
he narrated the perfectly simple episode – the discussion of «impulse» at
the bridge game, the drinks, and the absurd tipsy desire to try a harmless
little experiment – again, as when he talked to the store detective, he
heard his own voice becoming hollow and insincere. It was exactly as
if he knew himself to be guilty. His throat grew dry, he began to falter,
to lose his thread, to use the wrong words. When he stopped speaking
finally, Dora was silent.
«Well, say something!» he said angrily, after a moment. «Don’t just
stare at me. I’m not a criminal!»
«I’ll get a lawyer for you», she answered, «but that’s all I can do.»
«Look here, Dora – you don’t mean you –» He looked at her
incredulously. It wasn’t possible that she really thought him a thief? And
suddenly, as he looked at her, he realized how long it was since he had
really known this woman. They had drifted apart. She was embittered, that
was it – embittered by his non-success. All this time she had slowly been
laying up a reserve of resentment. She had resented his inability to make
money for the children, the little dishonesties they had had to commit
in the matter of unpaid bills, the humiliations of duns, the top-frequent
removals from town to town – she had more than once said to him, it
was true, that because of all this she had never had any friends – and she
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had resented, he knew, his gay little parties with Hurwitz and Bryant and
Smith, implying a little that they were an extravagance which was to say
least. Perhaps they had been. But was a man to have no indulgences?
«Perhaps we had better not go into that,» she said. «Good Lord –
you don’t believe me!» «I’ll get the lawyer – though I don’t know
where the fees are to come from. Our bank account is down to seventyseven dollars. The rent is due a week from today. You’ve got some salary
coming, of course, but I don’t want to touch my own savings, naturally,
because the children and I may need them. »
To be sure. Perfectly just. Women and children first. Michael thought
these things bitterly, but refrained from saying them. He gazed at this
queer cold little female with intense curiosity. It was simply extraordinary
-simply astonishing. Here she was, seven years his wife, he thought he
knew her inside and out, every quirk of her handwriting, inflection of
voice; her passion for strawberries, her ridiculous way of singing; the
brown moles on her shoulder, the extreme smallness of her feet and toes,
her dislike of silk underwear. Her specal voice at the telephone, too –
that rather chilly abruptness, which had always surprised him, as if she
might be a much harder woman than he thought her to be. And the queer
sinuous cat-like rhythm with which she always combed her hair before the
mirror at night, before going to bed – with her head tossing to one side,
and one knee advanced to touch the chest of drawers. He knew all these
things, which nobody else knew, and nevertheless, now, they amounted
to nothing. The woman herself stood before him as opaque as a wall.
«Of course,» he said, «you’d better keep your own savings.» His
voice was dull. «And you’ll, of course, look up Hurwitz and the others?
They’ll appear, I’m sure, and it will be the most important evidence. In
fact, the evidence.»
«I’ll ring them up, Michael,» was all she said, and with that she
turned quickly on her heel and went away...
Michael felt doom closing in upon him; his wits went round in
circles; he was in a constant sweat. It wasn’t possible that he was going
to be betrayed? It wasn’t possible! He assured himself of this. He walked
back and forth, rubbing his hands together, he kept pulling out his watch
to see what time it was. Five minutes gone. Another five minutes gone.
Damnation, if this lasted too long, this confounded business, he’d lose his
job. If it got into the papers, he might lose it anyway. And suppose it was
true that Hurwitz and Bryant had said what they said – maybe they were
afraid of losing their jobs too. Maybe that was it! Good God.
This suspicion was confirmed, when, hours later, the lawyer came to
see him. He reported that Hurwitz, Bryant and Smith had all three refused
flatly to be mixed up in the business. They were all afraid of the effects
of publicity.
The Judge, not unnaturally perhaps, decided that there was a perfectly
clear case. There couldn’t be the shadow of a doubt that this man had
deliberately stolen an article from the counter of so-and-so’s drugstore.
The prisoner had stubbornly maintained that it was the result of a kind
of bet with some friends, but these friends had refused to give testimony
on his behalf. Even his wife’s testimony – that he had never done such
a thing before – had seemed rather half-hearted. And she had admitted,
moreover, that Lowes was unsteady, and that they were always living in
a state of something like poverty.
By this time, Michael was in a state of complete stupor. He sat in the
box and stared blankly at Dora who sat very quietly in the second row, as
if she were a stranger. She was looking back at him, with her white face
turned a little to one side, as if she too had never seen him before, and were
wondering what sort of people criminals might be. Human? Sub-human?
She lowered her eyes after a moment, and before she had looked up
again Michael had been touched on the arm and led stumbling out to the
courtroom. He thought she would of course come to say goodbye to him,
but even in this he was mistaken; she left without a word.
And when he did finally hear from her, after a week, it was in a very
brief note.
«Michael,» it said. «I’m sorry, but I can’t bring up the children with
a criminal for a father, so I ’m taking proceedings for a divorce. This is
the last straw. It was bad enough to have you always out of work and
to have to slave night and day to keep bread in the children’s mouths?
I’m sorry, and you know how fond I was of you at the beginning, but
you’ve had your chance. You won’t hear from me again. You’ve always
been a good sport and generous, and I hope you’ll make this occasion no
exception, and refrain from contesting the divorce. Goodbye – Dora.»
Michael held the letter in his hands, unseeing, and tears came into his
eyes. He dropped his face against the sheet of notepaper, and rubbed his
forehead to and fro across it ... LittIe Dolly!... Little Mary! ... Of course…
This was what life was. It was just as meaningless and ridiculous as this;
a monstrous joke; a huge injustice. You couldn’t trust anybody, not even
your wife, not even your best friends. You went on a little lark, and they sent
you to prison for it, and your friends lied about you, and your wife left you.
He dropped the letter to the floor and turned his heel on it, slowly
and bitterly. He sat down on the edge of his bed and thought of Chicago.
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He thought of his childhood there, the Lake Shore Drive, Winnetka, the
trip to Niagara Falls with his mother. He could hear the Falls now. He
remembered the Fourth of July on the boat; the crowded examination
room at college; the time he had broken his leg at baseball, when he
was fourteen; and the stamp collection which he had lost at school. He
remembered his mother always saying, «Michael, you must learn to be
orderly» and the little boy who had died of scarlet fever next door, and
the pink conch-shell smashed in the back yard. His whole life seemed
to be composed of such trivial and infinitely charming little episodes as
these; and as he thought of them, affectionately and in wonder, he assured
himself once more that he had really been a good man. And now, had it
all come to an end? It had all come foolishly to an end.
1. What influenced Michael’s mood that morning?
2. What did he think about his companions in the bridge game?
3. What worried Michael most of all?
4. What did the main character and his friends do at night?
5. What did they talk about?
6. What in their conversation made Michael astonished?
7. What idea seemed amusing and fascinating to him?
8. What for did he enter the drugstore?
9. What goods were there?
10. Was it very simple to steal anything in the drugstore?
11. When was Michael panic-stricken?Why?
12. What did the detective find in the character’s pocket?
13. How did Michael try to explain himself?
14. What did he reflect upon while going to jail?
15. What did Michael hope for?
16. Why were his expectations ruined?
17. What was Dora’s reaction to her husband’s arrest?
18. What in their relations became clear to Michael?
19. What intimate details of his life did the main character recollect?
What made him do it?
20. What did Michael think about in prison?
21. What was the judge’s verdict?
22. How did Dora behave during the trial?
23. What did Dora’s note say? Do you approve of her decision?
24. Did the main character admit his guilt?
25. What role does the last paragraph play in understanding the
whole text?
1. This was the bi-weekly day of escape.
2. ...Michael never could remember which one of them it was who
had put in the first oar…
3. ...why not be a Columbus of the moral world and really do it?
4. I made a kind of a bet with some friends.
5. ...he knew Lowes was hard up.
6. ...he thought he knew her inside and out…
7. Michael felt doom closing on upon him; his wits went round in
8. They were afraid of the effect of publicity.
9. This is the last straw.
Agree or disagree to the following:
1. Men are never responsible for their families.
2. It’s the duty of women to take care of children.
3. Betting is no harm.
4. Stealing is a disease and it should be treated and not punished.
5. Wife should always support her husband.
6. When grown-ups divorce it’s children who suffer most.
1. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Друг познается в беде.
2. Cowards are cruel.
Трусы жестоки.
3. Drive the nail that will go.
Стены лбом не прошибешь. На рожон не лезь.
4. False friends are worse than open enemies.
Друг до поры – хуже недруга.
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by Charles G. Norris
The most fascinating place in the United States today, I consider, is
Palm Beach and the most interesting spot in it is «Whitney’s.» The name
isn’t Whitney’s at all, but anyone who has ever been to Palm Beach will
know the establishment to which I refer.
Whitney’s is a restaurant and a gambling place, and sooner or later
everybody who comes to Palm Beach visits Whitney’s.
There is no restaurant or hotel in France, Italy, Germany or Spain that
can compare with Whitney’s in the matter of food! At Whitney’s there
are no menus; you order what you wish from an endless variety of special
foods, any­thing from duck soup to bird’s tongues – and the surprising
fact is that you get what you order. But on your first visit to Whitney’s
you often pay little attention to what you eat, for very soon, as the room
commences to fill, you can hardly believe your eyes. At every table you
soon recognize someone who is either famous or notorious.
After lunch this brilliantly dressed group of persons goes down to
the gambling room. By two o’clock this room is well filled, by three it is
crowded, and it remains so until the early hours of the morning. It is far
more interesting and better conducted than Monte Carlo. I was deeply
impressed, and soon I welcomed an opportunity to meet Mr. Whitney
We found him in a small, businesslike office hardly large enough to
hold the big old ­fashioned roll-top desk and a chair or two. Perhaps there
was a safe; I can’t remember. The office was protected by some iron bars,
and there was a uniformed attendant at the door who admitted us after
Mr. Whitney had given the word he would see us.
I found him a man square of jaw, cold of eye, his face rather
unexpressive – much what I expected. He runs his gambling place as
a business – and it is a matter of pride with him that it is conducted in
an efficient, businesslike way. It is said that his profits are two million
dollars a season, and I doubt this just as one doubts the salaries of motion
picture stars.
However, the man had strong a personal­ity. He interested me. I
liked him. I wanted to talk to him, but it was difficult. He was not a very
communicative person. Soon I asked him how much he lost a season in
the way of bad checks and bad debts. He said approxi­mately two hundred
thousand dollars, which he didn’t seem to consider as heavy. As he spoke
of this a light came into his eyes, and a faint smile appeared on his lips.
«I had a rather interesting experience the other day,» he said. «I was
sitting in my office one morning when word was brought to me that a
lady wanted to see me: «Mrs. John Rossiter,» the man told me. I knew
who John Rossiter was, so I told him to show her in.»
«Before she said a word she began to cry, not bitterly; but the tears
came into her eyes and began to run down her cheeks, and she kept wi­ping
them away with her handkerchief, trying all the time to control herself.
I don’t like that sort of thing, you know, and I usually avoid it, but this
rather impressed me. I felt sorry for her before she opened her mouth.»
«Her husband had been gambling, she told me, and on Wednesday
– the day before – had lost thirty thousand dollars. I’ve been acquainted
with John Rossiter off and on for five or six years. Every year he has been
coming down here, and I’ve known him well enough to say «Hello,»
but not much more intimately than that. At any rate, I’ve always had a
good feeling about Rossiter. He was a clean-cut man, a good sport, and
was pretty well liked, belonged to a good club, and was rather popular
everywhere. I had seen him year after year here, but I hadn’t an idea
of how he played or what he won or lost. He had an account with me
and always paid very promptly at the end of the month if there was any
paying to be done.
«Mrs. Rossiter explained that the great problem of her life had
been her husband’s gambling. She had begged him to keep away from
the stock market and from cards, and he’d promise her that he’d stop,
but then he’d slip and get caught again. The thirty thousand dollars he
had lost on Wednesday about cleaned him and his wife out. It meant –
oh, I’ve forgotten what she told me exactly: selling the home – it was
mortgaged already, she said, taking the two girls out of school; herself
perhaps having to find a position. It was a long story, I don’t remember
the details, but I confess that I felt very sorry for her. Taking those two
girls out of school was what I believe impressed me, I don’t know why
exactly. Well, at any rate, I told her that I didn’t like the idea of anybody
coming here and losing every­thing. Sentiment, if you like, but it’s good
business at the same time. It doesn’t help an establishment like this to get
a reputation that people can lose everything they have here. The result
of it all was that I agreed to give her back the money which her husband
had lost, but on one condition, and I made that point very clear: John
Rossiter was never to enter my place again. I don’t like that kind of a
«loser» around here. If he hasn’t got the money, he oughtn’t to play. She
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promised me with the tears running down her cheeks, and I gave her the
money, and she made me feel like a damn fool by kissing both my hands,
and asking God to bless me – all that foolishness that a grateful woman
feels she has to do when you do her a favor.
«I didn’t think anything more about the affair until the very next
afternoon when it was clearly brought back to my mind. My floor manager
came to me and told me that John Rossiter had just come in, had gone
to the gambling room, and was playing at one of the tables. As a rule, I
never mix up with what happens outside, but this made me pretty mad,
so I walked out there myself.
«I went straight up to him and said: ’May I speak to you a minute?’And
when we were off in a corner away from the crowd, I asked him what he
meant by coming into my place.
«’I want to know what this means,’ I demanded. ’Your wife came to
see me yester­day morning and told me about your troubles and about your
losing thirty thousand dollars here on Wednesday, and I gave her back
the money you’d lost on one condition and that was that you were never
to enter my doors again. Now, what do you mean by coming here?»
Rossiter looked at me for a moment. Then he said: ’Why, Mr.
Whitney, there must be some mistake. I’m not married’.»
1. At every table you soon recognize someone who is either famous
or notorious.
2. However, the man had a strong personality.
3. I have been acquainted with John Rossiter off and on for five or
six years.
4. …home… was mortgaged already…
5. …and I made that point very clear…
1. Give as much background information about gaming and gambling
places as you can. Are there such places in your town?
2. Express your own point of view on gambling. Is it a useful hobby,
a waste of time, an illness or addiction?
3. Russia’s law on exiling the gambling industries to the four allocated
zones will fail, some people suppose. What do you think?
4. Russia needs its own Las Vegas. Do you approve or disapprove of
this statement? Give your reasons.
1. What description of Whitney’s does the author give?
2. The routine of the place is usual, isn’t it?
3. What did Mr. Whitney’s office look like?
4. What traits of the owner’s character seem interesting to the
5. Why did Mrs. John Rossiter come to the gambling place one
6. What did she want?
7. Why did Mr. Whitney take her trouble to his heart?
8. Why did the owner of the establishment break his rule next
9. Was he a success in his talk with Mr. Rossiter?
1. Judge not of men and things at first sight.
Не суди о людях и вещах с первого взгляда.
2. To err is human.
Человеку свойственно ошибаться.
3. Borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
Долги наносят ущерб хозяйству.
4. To come away none the wiser.
Уйти несолоно хлебавши.
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S. Maugham
Dr. Audlin looked at the clock on his desk. It was twenty minutes to
six. He was surprised that his patient was late, for Lord Mountdrago was
always proud of his punctuality.
There was in Dr. Audlin’s appearance nothing to attract attention.
He was not more than 50, but he looked older. His eyes, pale blue and
rather large, were tired and inexpressive. When you had been with him
for a while you noticed that they moved very little; they remained fixed
on your face. His clothes were dark. His tie was black. He gave you the
impression of a very sick man.
Dr. Audlin was a psychotherapist. He could relieve certain pains by
the touch of his cool, soft hand, and by talking to his patients often induce
sleep in those who were suffering from sleeplessness. He spoke slowly.
His voice had no particular colour, but it was musical, soft and lulling.
Dr. Audlin found that by speaking to people in that low monotonous
voice of his, by looking at them with his pale, quiet eyes, by stroking
their foreheads with his long firm hands, he could sometimes do things
that seemed miraculous. He restored speech to a man who had become
dumb after a shock and he gave back the use of his limbs to another
who had been paralyzed after a plane crash. He could not understand his
power that came from he knew, not where, that enabled him to do things
for which he could find no explanation. He had been practicing now for
15 years and had a wonderful reputation in his speciality. Though his fees
were high, he had as many patients as he had time to see.
And what had he not seen of human nature during the 15 years that
patients had been coming to his dark room in Wimpole Street? The
confessions that he heard during these years ceased to surprise him.
Nothing could shock him any longer. He knew by now that men were
liars, he knew how unlimited was their vanity, he knew far worse things
about them, but he knew that it was not for him to judge or to condemn.
It was a quarter to six. Of all the strange patients he had had, Dr. Audlin
could remember none stranger than Lord Mountdrago. It was an able and
distinguished man who was appointed Secretary of Foreign Affairs when
he was still under forty. He was considered the ablest politician in the
Conservative Party and for a long time directed the foreign policy of his
Lord Mountdrago had many good qualities. He had intelligence and
industry. He travelled in the world and spoke several languages. He had
courage, insight and determination. He was a good speaker, clear, precise
and often witty. He was a tall, handsome man, a little too stout, but this
gave him solidity that was of service to him.
At 24 he had married a girl of 18 whose father was a duke and her
mother a great American heiress, so that she had both position and wealth,
and by her he had two sons. For several years they had lived privately
apart, but in public united, and their behavior did not give ground for
gossip. Shortly speaking, he had a great deal to make him a popular and
successful figure.
He had unfortunately great defects. He was a horrible snob. He had
beautiful manners when he wanted to display them, but this he did only
with people he regarded as his equals. He was coldly rude to those whom
he looked upon as his social inferiors. He often insulted his servants and
his secretaries. He knew that he was a great deal cleverer than most of
the persons he had to deal with, and never hesitated to demonstrate it to
them. He felt himself born to command and was irritated with people who
expected him to listen to their arguments or wished to hear the reasons
for his decisions. He was extraordinarily selfish. It never occurred to
him that he could do something for others. He had many enemies: he
despised them. He had no friends. He was unpopular with his party, and
yet his merit was so great, his patriotism so evident, his intelligence so
prominent and his management of affairs so brilliant, that they had
to put up with him. And sometimes he could be enchanting; you were
surprised at his wide knowledge and his excellent taste. You thought him
the best company in the world, you forgot that he had insulted you the
day before and was quite capable of killing you the next.
Lord Mountdrago almost failed to become Dr. Audlin’s patient. A
secretary rang up the doctor and told him that the lord wished to consult
him and would be glad if he would come to his house at 10 o’clock on
the following morning. Dr. Audlin answered that he was unable to go to
Lord Mountdrago’s house, but would be glad to give him an appointment
at his consulting room at five o’clock on the next day. The secretary
took the message and presently rang again to say that Lord Mountdrago
insisted on seeing Dr. Audlin in his own house and the doctor could fix
his own fee. Dr. Audlin replied that he saw patients only in his consulting
room and expressed his regret that unless Lord Mountdrago was prepared
to come to him he could not give him his attention. In a quarter of an hour
a brief message was delivered to him that his lordship would come not
next day but the same day, at five.
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When Lord Mountdrago had entered the room he did not come
forward but stood at the door and silently looked the doctor up and down.
Dr. Audlin saw that he was in rage.
«It seems that it is as difficult to see you as a Prime Minister, Dr.
Audlin. I’m extremely busy. I think I should tell you I’m His Majesty’s
Secretary for Foreign Affairs,» he said acidly.
«Won’t you sit down?» said the doctor.
Lord Mountdrago made a gesture as if he was about to go out of the
room, but then he changed his mind and sat down. Dr. Audlin opened a
large book and took his pen. He wrote without looking at his patient.
«How old are you?»
«Are you married?»
«Have you any children?»
«I have two sons.»
Dr. Audlin leaned back in his chair and looked at his patient. He did
not speak, he just looked, gravely, with pale eyes that did not move.
«Why have you come to me?» he asked at last. «I’ve heard about you.
You have a very good reputation. People seem to believe in you.»
«Why have you come to me?» repeated Dr. Audlin.
Now it was Lord Mountdrago's turn to be silent. It looked as if he
found it hard to answer. Dr. Audlin waited. At last Lord Mountdrago
began to speak.
«I’m in perfect health. I work hard, but I’m never tired, and enjoy my
work. It is very important. The decisions I make can affect the welfare of
the country and even the peace of the world. I must have a clear brain. I
look upon it as my duty to eliminate any cause of worry that may interfere
with my work.»
Dr. Audlin had not taken his eyes off him. He saw that behind his
patient’s pompous manner was an anxiety that he could not conceal.
Lord Mountdrago paused and then spoke again.
«The whole thing’s so trivial that I’m afraid you’ll just tell me not to
be a fool and waste your valuable time.»
«Even things that seem very trivial may have their importance. They
can be a symptom of a deep-seated disturbance. And my time is at your
Dr. Audlin’s voice was slow and strangely soothing. After hesitation
Lord Mountdrago decided to be frank. «The fact is,» he said, «I’ve been
having some very strange dreams lately. I know it’s silly to pay any
attention to them, but – well, the truth is that I’m afraid they’ve got on
my nerves.»
«Can you describe any of them to me?»
«They’re so idiotic, I can hardly tell you about them.»
«I’m listening.»
«Well, the First I had was about a month ago. I dreamt that I was at
a party at Connemara House. It was an official party. The King and the
Queen were to be there, and many prominent people too. Suddenly I saw
a little man there called Owen Griffiths, who’s a member of Parliament
from the Labour Party, and to tell you the truth, I was surprised to see him
there. The Connemaras were at the top of a marble staircase receiving
their guests. Lady Connemara gave me a look of surprise when I shook
hands with her, and began to giggle; I didn’t pay attention – she’s a very
silly woman and her manners are very bad. I walked through the reception
rooms, nodding to a number of people and shaking hands; then I saw the
German Ambassador talking with one of the Austrian dukes. I wanted to
talk with him so I went up and held out my hand. The moment the duke
saw me he burst into a roar of laughter. I was deeply hurt. I looked him
up and down, but he only laughed the more. I was about to speak to him
rather sharply when there was a sudden hush, and I realized that the King
and Queen had come. Turning my back on the duke, I stepped forward
and then, quite suddenly, I noticed that I hadn’t got my trousers on. No
wonder Lady Connemara and the duke had laughed! I can’t tell you what
I felt at the moment. An agony of shame. I awoke in a cold sweat. Oh,
what relief it was to find it was only a dream.»
«It’s the kind of dream that is not so very uncommon,» said Dr.
«Of course. But an odd thing happened next day. I was in the lobby
of the House of Commons when that fellow Griffiths walked slowly past
me. He looked down at my legs, and then he looked me full in the face,
and I was almost certain he winked. A ridiculous thought came to me. He
was there the night before and saw how everybody were laughing at me.
But, of course, I knew that was impossible because it was only a dream. I
gave him an icy look, and he walked on. But he continued to grin.»
Lord Mountdrago took his handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped
his hands. Dr. Audlin didn’t take his eyes off him.
«Tell me another dream,» said he.
«It was the night after, and it was even more absurd than the first
one. I dreamt that I was in the Parliament. There was a debate on foreign
affairs which was very important not only for the country but for the
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whole world. Of course, the House was crowded. I was to make a speech
in the evening. I had prepared it carefully. I wanted it to produce an effect
in the Parliament and to silence my enemies. I rose to my feet. There was
a dead silence when I began to speak. Suddenly I noticed that odious little
Griffiths, the Welsh member on one of the opposite benches; he put out
his tongue at me. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a vulgar music-hall
song called» A Bicycle Made for Two.» It was very popular many years
ago. To show Griffiths how completely I despised him I began to sing it.
The House listened to me in stony silence and I felt the song wasn’t going
down very well. When I started the third verse the members began to
laugh; in an instant the laughter spread; the ambassadors, the guests, the
ladies in the Ladies’ Gallery, the reporters, they shook, they held their
sides, they rolled in their seats; everyone was dying with laughter, except
the ministers on the front bench, behind me. In that unprecedented noise
they sat petrified. I looked at them and suddenly the absurdity of what
I had done fell upon me. I had made myself the laughing-stock of the
whole world. I realised that I should have to resign. I woke and I knew it
was only a dream.»
When Lord Mountdrago finished he was pale and he trembled. But
with an effort he pulled himself together.
«The whole thing was so fantastic that I didn’t think about it any
more. When I went into the House on the following afternoon I was in
a very good form. The debate was dull but I had to be there, and to read
some documents. For some reason I looked up, and I saw that Griffiths
was speaking. I couldn’t imagine that he had anything to say that was
worth listening to and I was about to return to my papers when he quoted
two lines from «A Bicycle Made for Two». I glanced at him, and I saw
that his eyes were on me. I tried to read my papers again, but I found it
difficult to concentrate on them. Was it a mere coincidence that he had
just quoted those two lines? I asked myself if it was possible that he was
dreaming the same dreams as I was. But of course the idea was absurd,
and I decided not to give it a second thought.»
There was silence. Dr. Audlin looked at Lord Mountdrago and Lord
Mountdrago looked at Dr. Audlin. «I’ll tell you one more dream I had a
few days ago. I dreamed that I went into a public house, in Limehouse.
I’ve never been in a public house since I was at Oxford and yet I felt at
home there. I went into a room; there was a fire place and a large armchair
on one side of it, and a long bar on the other.
It was a Saturday night, and the place was packed. It seemed to
me that most of the people there were drunk. There was a gramophone
playing, and in front of the fireplace two women were doing a grotesque
dance. I went up to have a look and some man said to me: ’Have a drink,
Bill.’ He gave me a glass of beer and I drank it. One of the women who
were dancing came up to me and took the glass. ’You come and have a
dance with me,’ she said. Before I could protest she had caught hold of
me and we were dancing together. And then I found myself sitting in the
armchair with that woman on my lap and we were drinking beer from the
same glass. I should tell you that sex has never played any great part in
my life. I’ve always been too busy to give much thought to that kind of
thing, and living so much in the public eye as I do, it would be madness
to do anything that could give rise to scandal. I despise the men who
ruin their careers for women. The woman I had on my lap was drunk,
she wasn’t pretty and she wasn’t young; in fact she was just a cheap old
prostitute. But I wanted her. I heard a voice. That’s right, old chap, have
a good time.»
«I looked up, and there was Owen Griffiths. You know, I wasn’t so
much annoyed at his seeing me in that absurd situation as angry that he
addressed me as old chap.
’I don’t know you, and I don’t want to know you,’ I said.
’I know you well,’ he said, ’and my advice to you, Molly, is – see
that you get your money, he’ll cheat you if he can.’
There was a bottle of beer standing on the table. Without a word I
seized it and hit him over the head with it as hard as I could. I made such
a violent gesture that it woke me up.»
«There is nothing special in this story,» said Dr. Audlin.
«The story’s idiotic. I’ve told it you for what happened next day. I
went to the library of the House, got a book and began reading. I hadn’t
noticed that Griffiths was sitting in a chair close by me. Another of the
Labour members came in and went up to him. ’Hallo, Owen,’ he said to
him, ’you’re looking pretty bad today.’ ’I’ve got an awful headache,’ he
answered. I feel as if I’d been hit over the head with a bottle.’»
Now Lord Mountdrago’s face was grey with pain.
«I knew then that the idea which I considered absurd was true. I
know that Griffiths was dreaming mydreams and that he remembered
them as well as I did.»
«Have you any idea why this same man should come into your
Dr. Audlin’s eyes had not left his patient’s face and he saw that he
was lying.
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«The dream you’ve just described to me took place over three weeks
ago. Have you had any since?»
«Every night.»
«And does this man Griffiths come into them all?»
Dr. Audlin drew a line or two on his paper. It often took a long time
to make people tell the truth, and yet they knew that unless they told it he
could do nothing for them.
«Dr. Audlin, you must do something for me. I shall go mad if this
goes on. I’m afraid to go to sleep. But I must have sleep. With all the
work I have to do I need rest; sleep brings me none. As soon as I fall
asleep my dreams begin, and he’s always there, that vulgar little cad,
laughing at me, mocking me, despising me. He has seen me do things
that are so horrible, so shameful that even if my life depended on it I
wouldn’t tell them. It can’t go on. If you can’t do something to help me I
shall either kill myself or kill him.»
«Can you give any reason why this particular man persists in coming
into your dreams? Have you ever done him any harm?»
«Are you quite sure?»
«Quite sure. You don’t seem to understand that our ways lead along
different paths. I must remind you that I am a Minister and Griffiths is an
ordinary member of the Labour Party. Naturally, we could not possibly
have anything in common.»
«I can do nothing for you unless you tell me the complete truth. Have
you done anything to this man that he might look upon as an injury?»
Lord Mountdrago hesitated. He looked away and then, as though
there were in Dr. Audlin’s eyes a force that he could not resist, looked
back. He answered reluctantly.
«Only if he was a dirty foolish little cad.»
«But that is exactly what you’ve described him as.» Lord Mountdrago
sighed. He was beaten. The silence lasted two or three minutes.
«I’m ready to tell you everything that can be of any use to you. If I
didn’t mention this before, it’s only because it was so unimportant that
I didn’t see how it could possibly have anything to do with the case.
Griffiths won a seat at the last election and it appeared that he imagined
himself a minister of foreign affairs. From the beginning I hated the way
he talked, his vulgar Welsh accent and his shabby clothes. I must admit
that he was a rather good orator and had a certain influence over the minds
of the members of his party. He calls himself an idealist. He talks all that
silly rubbish the intelligentsia have been boring us for years with. Social
justice, the brotherhood of men, and so on. The worst of it was that it
impressed not only his own party, but even some of the silliest members
of ours. It was likely that Griffiths could get the Foreign Office when a
Labour Government came in. One day I happened to visit a debate on
foreign affairs which Griffiths had opened. He’d spoken for an hour. I
thought it was a very good opportunity «to cook his goose», and really,
sir, I cooked it. In the House of Commons the most devastating weapon
is mockery. I mocked him. I was in a good form that day and the House
rolled with laughter. And if ever a man was made a fool of, I made a fool
of Griffiths. When I sat down I’d killed him. I’d destroyed his prestige for
ever, he had no more chance of getting office than the policeman at the
door. But that was no business of mine.
«I heard afterwards that his father, the old miner, and his mother had
come up from Wales with various supporters of his to watch the triumph
they expected him to have. They had seen his humiliation.»
«So I can say that you ruined his career?» «He brought it on
«Have you ever felt sorry about it?»
«I think perhaps if I’d known that his father and mother were there, I
would have let him down a little more gently.»
There was nothing more for Dr. Audlin to say, and at the end of an
hour he dismissed him.
Since then Dr. Audlin had seen Lord Mountdrago half a dozen times.
He had done him no good. The dreams continued every night, and it
was clear that his general condition was getting worse. Dr. Audlin came
to the conclusion at last that there was only one way in which Lord
Mountdrago could get rid of his dreams but he knew him well enough to
be sure that he would never, never take it of his own free will. In order
to save Lord Mountdrago from a breakdown he must be induced to take
a step that was against his pride and his nature. He was sure that it was
necessary to do it immediately.
During one of the shows of hypnosis he put him to sleep. With his
low, soft, monotonous voice he repeated the same words over and over
again. Lord Mountdrago lay quite still, his eyes closed, his breathing
regular and his limbs relaxed. Then Dr. Audlin in the same quiet tone
spoke the words he had prepared.
«You will go to Owen Griffiths and say that you are sorry, that you
caused him that great injury. You will say that you will do all you can to
undo the harm that you have done him.»
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The words acted on Lord Mountdrago like the blow of a whip across
the face. He shook himself out of his hypnotic state and sprang to his feet.
His face was red with anger and he poured upon Dr. Audlin a stream of
such words that Dr. Audlin was surprised that he knew them.
«Apologize to that dirty little Welshman? I’d rather kill myself.»
«I’m sure it’s the only way in which you can regain your balance.»
Dr. Audlin had not often seen a man in such a condition of
uncontrollable fury. He watched Lord Mountdrago coolly, waiting for
the storm to finish.
«Sit down,» he said then sharply.
Lord Mountdrago sank into a chair. For five minutes perhaps they
sat in complete silence. Then Dr Audlin said: «I’ve thought a great deal
about your case. I don’t quite understand it but I believe that your only
chance to get rid of your dreams is to do what I have proposed. I believe
that there are many selves in you, that is your conscience has risen up
against the injury you did to Griffiths. It has taken the form of Griffiths
in your mind and is punishing you for what you cruelly did.»
«My conscience is clear. I regret nothing.»
It was with these words that Lord Mountdrago left him the last time.
Reading through his notes, while he waited, Dr. Audlin thought of his
patient. He glanced at the clock. It was six. It was strange that Lord
Mountdrago did not come.
He took up the evening newspaper. A huge headline ran across the
front page. «Tragic Death of Foreign Minister.» «My God!» exclaimed
Dr. Audlin. He was shocked, horribly shocked, and yet he was not
surprised. The possibility that Lord Mountdrago might commit suicide
had occurred to him several times, for that it was suicide he did not doubt.
Dr. Audlin had not liked Lord Mountdrago. The chief emotion that his
death caused in him was dissatisfaction with himself because he could
do nothing for him. Suddenly he started. His eyes had fallen on a small
paragraph near the bottom of a column. «Sudden death of a M.P.,» he
read. «Mr. Owen Griffiths, member of the House of Commons, had been
taken ill in Fleet Street in London. When he was brought to a hospital he
was dead. It was supposed that death was due to natural causes, but an
investigation will be held.»
Was it possible that the night before Lord Mountdrago had at last
in his dream killed his tormentor, and that this horrible murder took
effect on him some hours later? Or maybe when Lord Mountdrago
found relief in death, his enemy followed him to some other sphere
to torment him still there? The sensible thing was to look upon it as
an odd coincidence. Dr. Audlin rang the bell.
«Tell Mrs. Multon that I’m sorry I can’t see her this evening.
I’m not well.»
It was true. He trembled as though of a chill. The dark night of the
human soul opened before him and he felt a strange primitive terror of he
knew not what.
1. What kind of man was Dr. Audlin?
2. What method did he use in his medical practice?
3. Why couldn’t anything shock him?
4. In what light is Lord Mountdrago shown?
5. The Lord was happy in his family life, wasn’t he?
6. Lord Mountdrago was a defectless man, wasn’t he?
7. Under what circumstances did the psychotherapist and his unusual
patient get acquainted?
8. Was their first meeting a friendly one?
9. What features of the two characters emerged clearly during their
first conversation?
10. What brought Lord Mountdrago to Dr. Audlin’s?
11. What coincidence between his bad night dream and reality did
Lord Mountdrago notice the next day?
12. Was Lord Mountdrago’s second dream even more frightening
than the previous one?
13. Why didn’t Lord Mountdrago give a second thought to another
14. Why did the last night dream seem absolutely absurd to the
15. Was Lord Mountdrago’s face grey with pain because he began to
realize the meaning of his nightmares?
16. What was Lord Mountdrago afraid of?
17. How did Dr.Audlin guess that his visitor was lying to him?
18. Was there an open rivalry between Owen Griffiths and Lord
Mountdrago? Why was it?
19. Who won the competition? At what price?
20. What way to prevent a nervous breakdown of his patient did the
doctor choose?
21. Did his therapy work?
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22. Why wasn’t Dr. Audlin surprised at learning about the tragic
death of Foreign Minister?
23. What puzzled and startled him?
24. What is the end of the story?
1. And what had he not seen of human nature during the fifteen years
that patients had been coming to his dark room…
2. …but he knew that it was not for him to judge or condemn…
3. He was a horrible snob.
4. He called himself an idealist.
5. I believe that there are many selves in us…
1. Pick out facts from the text to prove that the work of the members
of the government is very strenuous.
2. Express your opinion on the following statement: «Struggle for
power is the most merciless of all. One can come to power only through
destroying his opponents.»
3. A psychotherapist’s work is very special because to help a patient
the doctor must be fully absorbed in his patient’s secrets. Are you of the
same opinion?
4. Do you feel there are several selves in each of us?
1. A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit.
Худой мир лучше доброй ссоры.
2. Clever men are good, but they are not the best.
Умные люди хороши, но они не лучшие.
3. Confess is the first step to repentance.
Признание первый шаг к раскаянию.
4. Death is the grand leveller .
Смерть чинов не разбирает.
after Chris Culshaw
I used to go BMX racing every week and I was the fastest rider in
town. I won every race I entered, but I’ve stopped racing now. I don’t even
go down to the track to watch my mates race. Do you want to know why?
It all started about six months ago. I was down at the track as usual
on Saturday afternoon. There was a new rider there, a kid I hadn’t seen
before. He was riding a PK Ripper and wearing a helmet with a dark
visor. I couldn’t see his face and I didn’t recognise his bike, so I went
over and asked his name. He didn’t reply.
I said, «Are you entering the big race?»
He just nodded and rode off to the start line.
There were about twenty riders in the big race, but nobody in my
class. By the end of the ninth lap I was in the lead and cruising home to
another easy win. I had about 300 metres to go when I turned and saw
the new kid right behind me. His bike seemed to fly over the rough track
without making a sound. He started to overtake me. I pedalled as hard as
I could but it was no use. He rolled past me as if I was standing still.
He was in the lead now and we were only 100 metres from the finish.
Then he did a very strange thing.
He slowed down. He touched his brakes just enough to let me slip
through and win.
All my mates came over to congratulate me after the race.
«That was a great race,» they said. «You really showed that new kid.
We won’t see him around here again.»
I didn’t feel like celebrating. I knew I hadn’t won that race. The kid on
the PK Ripper had let me win. It was his race. I knew that and so did he.
My mates were wrong when they said the new kid wouldn’t show up
again. He was back next week and once again I was up against him in the
big race.
The same thing happened. I had the race in my pocket. I was steaming
towards the finish leaving all the other riders eating my dust when all of
a sudden there he was! He overtook me but slowed down just before the
finish. This time I won by just half a metre.
The following week the same thing happened again. It was weird.
Nobody knew who the new kid was. He never took off his helmet so we
never saw his face. I asked everyone at the track if they knew him, but no
one did. He came down to the track every Saturday just before the big race
and slipped away as soon as the race was over. His identity was a mystery.
I wanted to know who I was up against. He could beat me with one
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hand tied behind his back I was sure of that. But why did he let me win?
I decided to find out who he was and where he lived.
The following week at the end of the race, I followed him when he
rode out of the track. I trailed him across town for two kilometres and
saw him turn into a quiet street near the park. He pulled into the gate half
way down the street, on the left. I rode slowly down the street and pulled
up outside the house.
Now I knew where he lived, but I wanted to know his name. I couldn’t
just walk up to the front door and ask. I needed a reason for going to the
house. I took off one of my gloves and stuffed it down my shirt. Then I
walked up to the front door holding the other glove. I rang the bell and
waited. A middle-aged man came to the door.
«Yes?» he said. «What do you want?»
I held out the glove and said, «Er... I found this at the track... I thought it
might belong to your son…» The man stood staring at me for a second. His
eyes were cold and hard. «Is this some kind of a sick joke?» he said at last.
«No,» I said, «I just wanted to...»
The door slammed in my face and I heard the man shouting, «Clear
off you little sadist, before I bring the police to you!»
I stood on the doorstep not knowing what to do or say. Perhaps I
should ring the bell again and explain that it was all a joke. I decided not
to. Maybe he would bring the police.
As I turned to go I saw a name under the bell push. It said: Mr & Mrs
A. J. Clarke.
At least I knew the kid’s name and address. Maybe now I’d get to the
bottom of the mystery.
The next day I went to see Mr. Higgins, the man who ran the BMX
track in town. I said, «Do you know a kid called Clarke? He lives at 27
Queens Street and rides a PK Ripper?»
«Oh yes,» said Mr Higgins. «I knew him. He was always down at
the track. He was one of the best riders in town. He could have become
a professional.»
«What do you mean,» I said. «He could have become a pro?»
Mr Higgins looked at me strangely and said, «He’s dead, that’s why.
Run over by a ruddy great truck. It was his own silly fault mind you. He
was pulling wheelies on the main road.»
«When was this?» I said. «When was he killed?»
«A year ago,» replied Mr Higgins. «Why? What’s it to you?»
«Oh nothing...,» I said and left.
The following Saturday I was down at the track as usual. There was a
bitter wind blowing from the east and it was raining hard. The track was
wet and slippery. I thought the races might be cancelled but they went
ahead as usual.
We lined up at the starting hill and I was in gate 4. The kid on the
PK Ripper was in gate 7. As the gate slammed down I set off determined
this time not to be beaten.
There was no escape from the kid on the PK Ripper. He was there,
just behind me, lap after lap. At the end of the ninth lap he pulled up
alongside me. We raced together towards the final straight.
I’m not sure what happened next. I’ve tried to remember, many times,
but it’s all a blur like a film out of focus. For some reason I suddenly
swerved to my l eft and railed into the kid on the PK Ripper. I smashed
into him with a hell of a bang and we both fell off into the mud.
For a second or two I didn’t know where I was. When I came to my
senses I was lying on the track next to the kid. I got up and knelt beside
him. He didn’t move and I thought he might be dead. I couldn’t see his
face because the visor was caked with mud. I raised the visor, just a little
way and looked into his helmet. Quite suddenly the kid got up off the
ground, closed his visor and got on to his bike. He rode out of the BMX
track and nobody ever saw him again.
When my mates came over to see if I was hurt I was still kneeling in
the mud next to my bike. They’d seen me look into the kid’s visor and
they all wanted to know who he was.
«Oh … he was just a kid,» I said. «Never seen him before …
just a kid.»
I couldn’t tell them the truth. I couldn’t tell them that the helmet was
empty. I know you’ll think I’m stupid but it was. The kid’s helmet was
empty. I don’t mean there was nothing inside it. There was something
there, but it was empty. I had the same feeling looking into the helmet
that I get looking up into the sky on a starry night. I always get the feeling
that there’s someone out there, in the stars, far away in the darkness. And
I’m sure that if I could shout long enough and hard enough someone
would answer. I got the same feeling when I opened that visor. For just
one second I looked into a starry darkness, a cold void and thought I
heard a voice calling out from far, far away.
1. What was the narrator fond of?
2. What was unusual about the new rider?
3. Was it a very exciting race for the narrator?
4. What happened at the end of the race?
5. Did the same thing occur next week?
6. Why was the new rider’s identity a mystery to all the other
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7. What did the narrator want to find out and why?
8. How did the narrator learn something about the mysterious rider?
9. Why did the man at the gate threaten to call the police?
10. What striking information did the narrator learn from Mr.
11. What happened next race?
12. Why couldn’t the narrator tell his friends the truth?
1. I used to go BMX racing every week.
2. I didn’t feel like celebrating.
3. I had the race in my pocket.
4. There was no escape from the kid on the PK Ripper.
Many things happen in the world that we cannot explain.
1. «Ghosts» – Do you think they exist? Many people say that they
have seen or heard ghosts. What do you think about them? Do you think
they have any supernatural abilities?
2. «Astrology» – Do the stars and planets influence personality and
behaviour? Do human beings control their own future or it is already
3. «Esp (Extrasensory Perception)» – Can some people read other
people’s minds and know what is going to happen in the future?
4. «Predicting the Future» – Can some people see the future by
looking into a crystal ball, or reading someone’s palm, or using cards?
5. «Reincarnation» – When people die, do they return to earth as
someone or something else?
1. To dance on a volcano.
Играть с огнем.
2. A danger foreseen is half avoided.
Знал бы, где упасть – соломки постелил бы.
3. He that seeks trouble never misses.
Кто за худом ходит, худо и находит.
4. Open not your door when the devil knocks.
Не открывай дверь, когда черт стучится.
by Thomas Walsh
Item One, the grimmest and most important item, was the body of
a respectable middle-aged pharmacist named Carl Sawyer. Item Two,
the usual emotional item, was an attractive blonde woman, apparently
his widow, who was sobbing hysterically over him when Cochran and
McReynolds arrived from the precinct house. Item Three – which, to
Cochran and McReynolds, explained everything at first glance and com­
pletely – was a rifled cash register. Item Four, the familiar professional
headache, was a store crowded with excited and talkative neighbours.
It appeared at first that every one of these people was quite willing to
furnish Cochran with detailed and significant information; it developed
later, when he had attended to the necessary elimination, that just four
of them had actually seen anything. Mrs. Sawyer and a chance customer
named Ellen Morison had witnessed the shooting; two others – ­a husband
and wife – glimpsed a man who sprinted out of the drugstore immediately
afterward, and raced away in a car which he had parked thirty or forty
feet distant, in heavy shadow. This couple agreed, however, on one or
two distinguishing facts about the car; and Ellen Morison, a slim and
alert young girl with brown hair, intelligent dark eyes and a sensible if
excited voice, described the man.
She informed Cochran that fifteen or twenty minutes ago, when she
had entered the drugstore, the man had been standing in front of Mr.
Sawyer. They were so close together, just a bit left of the cash register,
that at first she had taken him for a friend of Mr. Sawyer, and had assumed
that Mr. Sawyer was chatting with him; then the man had turned quickly,
apparently in panic, looked at her quickly, fired twice at Mr. Sawyer and
slapped his left hand out and down at the cash register. It was her opinion
that the man was about twenty-eight years old, per­haps older; that he had
blond hair, a slim build and a very sharp, narrow jaw. She seemed to be
breathless and considerably upset at this time which was quite natural, but
because she remembered the right things about the man – not too many
of these, just the striking and obvious details – Cochran was inclined to
accept her as perhaps the most dependable witness.
The married couple, who had observed the man from the side and in
motion, were the only people who had seen the car. They described it to
Cochran as either a black or a dark blue sedan with a dented fender – the
right rear fender. One of them thought that the man had been wearing a
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brown suit and brown shoes; the other, that he had on slacks and a grey
sports jacket. They both declared, like Ellen Morison, that the man had
been hatless. They both remembered the blond hair.
McReynolds, in the meantime, had attempted first to compose
Mrs. Sawyer and then to question her. Both attempts failed. She did
not appear to understand who McReynolds was or what he wanted; she
would just shake her head dumbly and blindly at him, as if she were still
in a condition of severe shock. Cochran left her alone. He was sure then
that they wanted a man of a certain age, build and complexion; one who
owned or who had access to a cheap sedan with a dented fender; who had
a gun; and who, in all likelihood, had also a police record.
He and McReynolds set out to locate this man. They checked pictures
and records downtown; they settled on a few possible suspects; they
round­ed up and detained four of these; and then, two days later, Mrs.
Sawyer picked one of the four immediately and hysterically from a line-up.
The married couple supported Mrs. Sawyer’s identification, even
though in Cochran’s opinion, they could not be half so sure of it as they
insisted they were. Ellen Morison would not corroborate. She was the
only witness who had impressed Cochran to any extent, and she admitted
now that the man they showed her looked something, not too much, like
the man who had shot the druggist. She was not prepared to swear that he
was the man... or that he was not. She told Cochran uncomfortably that
she remembered the other man as being older and taller. This one –…
She shook her head. McReynolds became impatient with her;
Cochran, who suspected that bereaved women like Mrs. Sawyer, after
and because of their bereavement, often hit out at the first convenient and
likely target, reserved judgement on the identification and went out to do
some routine checking.
He discovered these facts: the man Mrs. Sawyer had identified –
a tough and surly young truck helper named Johnny Palica, who had
a couple of minor arrests to his discredit – lived with a brother-in-law
who owned a cheap black sedan. On the night in question, last Thursday,
Johnny Palica had been permitted to use the sedan, which had a couple of
deep scrapes on the back fender, and had kept it out from early evening
until after midnight. Just driving around, he admitted uneasily to Cochran;
he had his girl with him. What did anyone do when he had his girl with
him? He kept to himself, didn’t he? Well then –
The girl corroborated his story – only the girl. She was not an impres­
sive or disinterested witness. There were still three people who identi­fied
Johnny Palica – who, indeed, were more certain of him now than they
had been previously – and two of these people also identified the broth­
er-in-law’s car. There was another witness, Ellen Morison, who could not
seem to make up her mind definitely about him. It was a shaky de­fence, very
badly handled, and the jury convicted. After the conviction, which made the
death sentence mandatory, Cochran began to avoid McReynolds for some
reason; and then one afternoon he discovered sudden­ly, with a shock of acute
physical discomfort, that McReynolds was beginning also to avoid him.
Each of them knew that an identification made under circumstances
of great excitement and tension was not always trustworthy. And appar­
ently each of them, because of a highly developed instinct in such mat­
ters, disliked this one. They did not discuss it with each other – it was not
their province – but they did not forget about it either. Then March came,
and on March fifth, at half past two in the afternoon, Cochran re­ceived a
phone call which for some time, and in an uneasy and illogical manner,
he had been anticipating.
«You remember that Morison girl?» McReynolds asked, quiet
enough about it – perhaps too quiet. «The one who couldn’t make up her
mind about this Johnny Palica?»
«Who?» Cochran said. But, of course, he remembered her
immediate­ly; he pretended not to because he did not want McReynolds to
get any ideas about him. «No. I don’t seem to – Wait a minute. That one?»
He rubbed his mouth carefully. «What’s the matter now? What’s up?»
McReynolds said stolidly, «Big news. She just told me that Palica
isn’t the guy. She claims she’s positive. You better hustle around here,
Ray. I think we’re in trouble.»
So Cochran got a cab for himself. He found McRcynolds and Ellen
Morison in an upstairs room at the precinct house, with a busy and impa­
tient young man named Wilson who was somebody unimportant on the
district attorney’s staff; and he was informed by Wilson that last night,
outside a tavern on Third Avenue, Miss Morison saw – or thought she
saw – the man who had actually murdered Carl Sawyer. She was positive
about him, Wilson added dryly, because he had turned his head and
glanced at her exactly the way he had glanced at her that night in the
drugstore. She did not think that he had recognized her. When she came
back five or ten minutes afterwards with a policeman, he was gone. A
bartender in the tavern was unable to furnish any useful information
about him. That seemed to be it, Wilson said. A long silence followed.
Cochran was waiting for McReynolds to break it; McReynolds, who
looked a bit pale and haggard that afternoon, appeared to be waiting for
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At last Cochran said, «Well,» uncertainly, and sat down on a corner of
the desk with his hat pushed back, his lips pursed and his palms on his knees.
«Exactly,» said the district attorney’s man, as if Cochran had made
a very shrewd and penetrating remark. «The whole thing is almost chiId­
ishly simple. Last night Miss Morison happened to see someone who
bore a superficial resemblance to our friend Palica. So immediately – «
Cochran said, «We never found the gun.»
«Granted. I wish we had too. But when we’ve been able to convince
a jury without it, I don’t see – »
McReynolds said suddenly, angrily and pugnaciously, as if the
words burst out of him, «Wait a minute now. Me and Cochran are
responsible for him; not you, mister. And I’ve kind of been sweating a
little blood over it lately, if that means anything. I don’t like this thing.
I never did.»
He went that far. Cochran – they were boosting each other along
now – took his right palm from his knee, turned it over, examined it and
decided to go a bit further.
Cochran said, «I’ve seen nervous and hysterical women like Mrs
Sawer identify cops who were just put into a line-up to fill it out. Sure,
that married couple agreed with her; witnesses like them always go
along with the first person who makes up her mind. I kind of agree with
Mac here. Let’s talk this over.»
Ellen Morison, who appeared nervous but determined, glanced at
him and said quietly, «Thank you. I’m beginning to feel better. I testified
at the trial that the man who shot Mr. Sawyer – the man I’m telling you
I saw outside the tavern last night – seemed to be older and thinner, and
a lot taller, than the man you arrested. I was treated then as if I didn’t
know what I was talking about. I wasn’t sure, or I told myself I wasn’t
sure. But now I am. And now I want something done about it.»
The man from the district attorney’s office stopped looking annoyed
and angry, and started looking concerned and worried. More discussion
ensued; then it was decided that the first thing to do, if they wanted a
reasonable standard of comparison, was to give Ellen Morison another
and longer look at Johnny Palica. The lieutenant, who had been careful
enough to disassociate himself entirely from this interview, was
called in. The lieutenant phoned downtown, and then downtown made
ar­rangements with a Captain Mooney.
At half-past eight the next morning, Cochran and the girl drove up
to – to that place, as Cochran had begun to think of it, very uneasily –
and found Mooney waiting for them. They shook hands and conferred
briefly; then Mooney glanced sidewise, without much facial expression,
at Ellen Morison, and conducted them out of the visitors’ room and into
a corridor which had high barred windows.
They went by two men who were dressed in the uniform of prison
guards; they stopped in front of a steel door which was unlocked from
within, and they waited for several moments, even though they had
Moo­ney with them, in front of another just beyond the first, and quite
as massive and powerful looking, until the one through which they had
been admitted was closed and locked.
Afterwards there were more doors, and more prison guards, more
cor­ridors, and finally a courtyard and another and rather isolated building.
When they entered that building, Cochran, who did not have to be told
what it was, touched his lips in a nervous and delicate manner with his
tongue. He did not look at Ellen Morison. He did not make any attempt
to look at her.
They stepped presently outside a room. It was this kind of room. It
had low composition walls and a brown baseboard. It had a cheap oak
table with a soiled blotter on it and a clean ash tray; it had two chairs, one
window and one powerful ceiling lighting fixture. In this room there was a
peculiar but unmistakable sort of presence waiting for Coch­ran. He knew
why; he and McReynolds were chiefly responsible for it. He entered.
Ellen Morison, who was not to talk to Johnny Palica, but only to
observe him through a grille concealed in the outside door at normal eye
level, remained in the hall; but Captain Mooney entered behind Cochran,
glanced at him and went out through another exit. Almost as soon as
Cochran was left alone, the harsh light in the room and the intense still­
ness made him restless and uncomfortable. SeveraI minutes passed; to
Cochran they seemed to pass with extreme slowness. Then there were
steps in the inside corridor, and Cochran jabbed his hands into his hip
pockets, turned and braced himself, at least physically, for this.
Mooney came in. «All right now,» Mooney said, in the simplest and
most matter-of fact tone. «In here, Johnny. You remember Ray Cochran,
don’t you?» ­
Cochran spoke the first words that came into his head. «Sure,» Coch­
ran said, his lips feeling like wet flour. «Sure, he does... Come on in and
sit down, fella. How’ve you been?»
He had intended to shake hands here, but he stopped awkwardly after
starting the gesture, because Johnny Palica did not appear to recognize
him. Because of that, and of what it meant, the tone which Cochran had
decided to employ – official, authoritative, but not unfriendly – became,
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after the first moment or two, a shabby and ridiculous pretence. There
was no necessity for it. Johnny Palica was whiter, quieter and much
more nervous than Cochran remembered; and as soon as he recognized
Cochran, he made a desperate and pathetic attempt to ingratiate himself.
There was no more toughness or defiance in him. He was well broken.
Not by Mooney, not by a couple of months’ imprisonment, but by a cer­
tain idea and a certain date which Cochran and McReynolds had arranged
for him. He grinned anxiously, and when it seemed that Cochran was not
going to respond to the grin, he widened it in a slow, clumsy manner,
with much effort.
«Fine,» he said. «I’m okay, Mr. Cochran. I’m – You got some
It was the first time he had ever addressed Cochran by that title; it
was a small thing, and it was intolerable. Cochran began to sweat at the
same time because he had been warned by Mooney not to excite John­ny
Palica and not to tell him anything about the girl until they had one or two
definite facts to go on; he muttered that there didn’t seem to be anything
new in this thing, not yet. Headquarters, he added, just thought Johnny
Palica might want to go over his story about that night again. If he did –
He did. He nodded violently. So Cochran put a couple of questions
to him, the answers to which he and McReynolds had already checked,
in so far as was humanly possible, months ago; and then Cochran preten­
ded to listen intently to what Johnny Palica said to him, and even checked
everything off, detail by detail, in a pocket notebook. «Sure, sure,»
Cochran muttered, even when the words had no particular application
to what had preceded them. That was another thing, he’d add huskily,
which he and McReynolds would check right away. They’d talk to
Johnny Palica’s girl, of course. And they’d go back carefully over the
whole affair. They’d –
He would have done anything, said anything, promised anything, to
get out of that room quickly, to remove himself from the way in which
Johnny Palica kept watching him. As if he wanted help and reassurance
from somewhere, Cochran thought savagely; not as if he expected it; as
if he just wanted it. And then, when Mooney concluded the interview,
when Cochran picked up his coat and mumbled something hearty and
cheerful and got out of there, it was worse than before. In the outside hall,
Ellen Morison was waiting for him.
She was quite pale, her eyes looked extremely odd, and apparently
she did not want to talk to Cochran any more than Cochran wanted to
talk to her. All she did was to shake her head at him. Of course, Cochran
thought, she meant that he and McReynolds had the wrong man here.
That – He turned away from her. He did not ask himself whether she
was right about Johnny Palica; before he had half completed his turn
something much worse had happened to him. He felt it.
Later that afternoon, McReynolds also appeared to feel it. He did
not discuss the thing logically with Cochran; he just nodded a couple of
times, swallowed once, got his hat and drove over with Cochran to inter­
view Mrs. Sawyer.
They discovered that something had happened to her, too, because
she was no longer a pink and cunning little woman with demure blue eyes
and fluffy gold hair. She had aged noticeably; and by gradual de­grees, as
Cochran talked to her, she became withdrawn, bitter, nervous and finally
hysterical again.
She was still sure that it was Johnny Palica who had murdered her
husband; now, Cochran reflected hopelessly, hatred and loneliness had
done their usual sort of job on her. So he and McReynolds did not tackle
the two supporting witnesses; that was useless unless and until they had
first shaken Mrs. Sawyer. That evening McReynolds went downtown and
started rechecking the files for another picture and description that might
approximate Johnny Palica’s; and, at almost the same hour Cochran and
Ellen Morison established a vigil over on Third Avenue, outside the
Shamrock tavern.
­They would park there, in Cochran’s coupe, for five or six hours a
night – the late hours – and for seven nights a week. They would stay
there until half past one in the morning, with elevated trains rumbling
overhead monotonously, with March wind lashing at them, and then Coch­
ran would drive the girl home and go home himself after a cup of coffee
somewhere. But he would not sleep any too well – the coffee, perhaps,
or perhaps the other things. He would remain restless for a while, doze
again, and then rouse suddenly with the conviction in him that someone
had been shouting his name just now, at an infinite distance, but quite
clearly. He never managed to hear the voice – not as a sound – but at the
same time he recognized it and in the end it came to have its own sort of
existence for him.
He knew what it wanted from Mr. Cochran. He knew that much the
first time it happened to him, and every time afterward, but he could not
do anything helpful because, if there was going to be any appeal made
on the basis of new evidence, he and McReynolds needed this other man.
They could not find him. They could not imagine how to find him. They
had twelve weeks at first, and then ten, and then eight, and then six. But
nothing came up, either at headquarters or outside the Shamrock tavern.
Occasionally, after his end had dried up on him, McReynolds spent
a couple of uncomfortable hours with them, but for the rest of the time
Cochran and the girl had no company but themselves. At that period
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Cochran could have described the girl well, at least partially, although
he himself did not seem to retain any personal or individual impression
of her. She had dark hair, of which at times he had a vague sort of recol­
lection, and the softness and delicacy around the mouth which had never
been particularly attractive to him in other girls. He liked her all right,
but he did not think about her as he had thought one or two other girls.
There was no opportunity. On those endless and monotonous evenings
they rarely conversed at length because the appalling signifi­cance of their
watch made ordinary conversation nearly impossible; and yet, despite that,
they achieved a kind of intimacy which would have seemed very new and
unusual to Cochran if he had been in any position to consider it.
Every so often, instead of just sitting there and waiting for the right
man to show up, she worried him by attempting to force a resemblance
between the person they wanted and some unimportant client of the
Shamrock tavern. And so once, in their sixth week, he explained imper­
sonally to her that it was rather silly to get excited about this, because the
only thing they could use here was patience and more patience and again
patience. «You couldn’t rush these things.» Cochran said. «You waited
them out.» They generally came to some sort of conclusion in the long run.
But she noticed at once that Cochran did not commit himself, here
and now, as to the sort of conclusion they were going to reach outside
the Shamrock tavern. She sat back in her corner of the seat and then
glanced at him.
She said, «I suppose they do. Only this time» – she put her lips
to­gether for a moment – «they simply have to work out in the right way.
Not that I’m discouraged about anything; I can’t make myself believe for
one minute that a mistake like this, a cruel and vicious mistake, is going
to be – well, permitted. We’ll find him. You wait and see.»
«I hope we do,» Cochran said. But when he looked out at Third Avenue
– shabby, rain-swept, deserted, watery yellow light spilling across the
black pavement in front of the tavern –he felt heavily depressed. «We’ve
got a chance, anyway.»
She said, with a confidence that surprised Cochran, «Oh, we’ve got
more than that … much more. Things don’t happen that way. If they did,
there wouldn’t be much point to the whole mess.»
«Maybe there isn’t,» Cochran said.
«Of course that’s silly,» Ellen Morison said. She was very calm about
it. «Or out-and-out horrible. We’ve just got to believe that things are true
and important. If we don’t –»
«What things?» Cochran asked; it was the first discussion that had
interested him even slightly. «You name a couple. I’d like to find out
about them.»
So it was that, of all subjects, they began arguing the most profound
and imponderable one. They would argue it from exactly opposed
view­points – not with the technical skill and finish of philosophers, but
from each of their individual accumulations of judgement, experience
and intui­tion. If she knew half the things he knew, Cochran would say
darkly, or if she understood half the facts about the uglier side of human
nature, she wouldn’t talk so much about this or that being permitted or
else not permitted. Things happened; that was all you could say about
She was earnest at first, and then irritated, and then scornful, but, of
course, she never convinced Cochran. What he did admit – reluctantly
and not to her – was it might be pretty comforting to see this as Ellen
Morison saw it, to believe in reasons for things, to be sure that someone,
somewhere, was keeping an eye peeled in Ray Cochran’s direction or
Johnny Palica’s.
An idea of that kind would have provided him with some useful
insu­lation. He admitted so much, again privately; and then, little by
little, and very stubbornly, he became a bit weaker in regard to his own
argu­ments and a bit more responsive in regard to hers. Friday night at
about half past ten, he had just declared that perhaps people did achieve
happier and more useful lives when they shared Ellen Morison’s belief,
and not his but that didn’t prove anything at all, as Cochran saw it. True
was true. And if –
A man who did not resemble Johnny Palica at all parked in front
of them and went into the Shamrock tavern. Cochran glanced at him
and dismissed him, but Ellen Morison froze up, made some sort of
breathless­ly inarticulate sound and grabbed at Cochran.
He got out of the car slowly, his heart thumping. He said, «All right.
You stick here. We don’t want him to know anything about you yet. I’ll
be back as soon as I get a better look at him.» Then he walked around
the front of the coupe and into the tavern... and went numb.
The man whom Ellen Morison had just identified for him was at
least four inches taller than Johnny Palica, noticeably older, noticeably
stout­er; there was, apart from his blond hair, not even the slightest
physical similarity between them. What is this? Cochran asked himself
very quiet­ly. Something broke in him. He strode back to the coupe to
that girl, but what he felt for her at this moment was a mixture of cold
rage and ferocious contempt.
Did she understand, Cochran demanded thickly, what she had been
doing for the last six weeks to him and McReynolds? Did she have any
idea of how she had put them on the rack, and kept them there, and twis­
ted the wheel night after night until each of them was just about out of
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his head? She looked very pale and excited, but not as if she under­stood
what he was talking about.
«What’s the matter?» she said. She was still breathless. «Why don’t
you – He’s the man, Cochran! I know he is! Do you think I could ever –»
«Then where’s the mistake?» Cochran almost shouted at her. He
began pounding his fist, with an impression of infinite restrained force,
against the roof of the car. «How did anybody ever take this guy for
Palica? You kept telling us all along that they looked like each other.
That’s the thing we were going to spring on everybody. That’s all we had.»
«But he does!» She pushed her head out anxiously at him. «Of course,
he’s grown that moustache. That’s what you –»
Cochran spun away from her, maddened; then he got into the car
blindIy, closed the door, cradled his arms in front of him on the steering
wheel and laid the right side of his face against them. That way he did not
have to so much as look at her.
«He grew too,» Cochran said. His voice hated her. «He grew four
inches. Me and McReynolds were dumbheads; all along the district attor­
ney’s office had you down for just what you were. We figured you knew
what you were talking about. We were stupid enough to go through helI
because somebody like you –»
She faltered out several jerky sentences. Why was he talking like
this? Hadn’t they waited together for the man all these weeks? And now
wasn’t he in their hands? Cochran would not answer her. The only clear
idea in his mind was that if this man looked like Johnny Palica, they
might have got the witnesses to admit confusion and perhaps error. This
way no one – not Mrs. Sawyer, not the married couple, not the district
attorney’s office – would even consider him. So –
­The girl shook him again. Then she whispered painfully, «Listen,
Cochran. Will you please, please listen to me? I tell you –»
The man came out of the Shamrock tavern, had a bit of trouble in
starting his car – Cochran would scarcely have noticed him otherwise –
and pulled out into Third Avenue. After a few moments, Cochran – a
good, careful cop – turned on his ignition and pulled into Third Avenue
after him. They drove north. By now, of course, Cochran was following
him more by training and dogged instinct than because of any remaining
hope in this angle. He still hated the girl; he still felt that she had first
argued with him, and then convinced him, and then – most shameful
of all – got him almost ready to believe Ray Cochran was something a
lot more significant than an ordinary precinct detective who had been
in­structed to straighten something out, and who had torn himself into
little pieces because he was unable to manage it. Always merry and
bright, Cochran thought savagely, that was the ticket. There were reasons
for everything – oh, sure! Good and logical reasons, if you were stupid
enough to understand what they were. If –
Twice she attempted to speak to him; twice Cochran would not
listen to her. Then the sedan in front of him turned into a side street that
seemed hazily familiar. He followed. He saw, halfway along this street,
an apartment house which was also vaguely familiar to him, and then,
when the sedan parked in front of it, he recognized that building with a
complete and paralysing shock.
He whispered something. He drove past the sedan, past the man who
was ringing a bell in the apartment vestibule, and parked several houses
away. He noticed without hate, with a complete detachment that Ellen
Morison was looking white, scared and miserable. What was the matter
with her now? Cochran asked himself. What was she – ­
He got her out of the car. He told her where to phone McReynolds,
and what to tell him; then he moved back carefully to the sedan which
he had followed up here from the Shamrock tavern. All his thoughts had
become quick, sharp and decisive. His heart had begun to thump heavily
again. An old car with a new paint job, Cochran saw now; no marks on
it. Of course. Not so much as a scratch on the rear fender. But he and
McReynolds would find the shop where the paint job had been put on,
and where the right rear fender had been hammered out; and then Coch­
ran told himself grimly, he’d get that married couple to identify this sedan
even if he had to knock their heads together.
He left the sedan and secluded himself in a dim hallway just down
the street from it. The girl came back, and Cochran waved her over
imperatively to him, but he did not bother with explanations because he
had very little time or attention for her at that moment. He got out two
ci­garettes and smoked them in extraordinarily long draughts; then McRey­
nolds and a couple of precinct men cruised past him in a department car.
Cochran whistled twice. McReynolds stopped.
They discussed matters for a moment or two, Cochran explaining
why he was up here, McReynolds grasping the explanation almost
im­mediately. After that the precinct men went around the rear entrance
and to the fire escapes, and Cochran and McReynolds entered the
apartment house after ringing a bell on the top floor – which was not the
floor they wanted. They went up two flights rapidly. They each took deep
breaths. Then Cochran rang a bell on that landing, and after some delay
the door was opened about three inches and Cochran put a palm against
it, shoved and walked in.
The blond man with the dinky little moustache was in there.Cochran
walked up to him, gave him a very tight, ugly smile, and hit him. Coch­
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ran hit him very hard, and for no apparent reason at all. He just felt that
way. He felt fine. At the same moment, McReynolds did what he was
supposed to do. McReynolds took care of Mrs. Sawyer.
Of course, after the event it was all obvious. Then Cochran told
himself that he and McReynolds should have paid more attention to the
story Ellen Morison had told them. Hadn’t she said that when she entered
the drugstore, Mr. Sawyer and the held-up man were standing and talking
together like old friends? And hadn’t Mrs. Sawyer got all excited and
hysterical when he and McReynolds had gone back to question her as how
sure she was about Johnny Palica? What should have been at least indicated
then was that she could be making some attempt to cover up the real killer,
and that, consequently, she herself might be involved in the murder.
It was also clear that Ellen Morison had walked in at just the wrong
moment. Mrs. Sawyer and her masculine friend had thought up a perfectly
simple and effective method through which to rid themselves of a hus­
band who was getting along in years, and who owned a profitable busi­
ness. They had attempted to arrange everything so that Mrs. Sawyer,
who was supposed to be the only close witness, would describe a man
to the police who did not resemble the gentleman friend in any respect;
and then Ellen Morison had appeared just when the gentleman friend had
nerved himself up to it, and had got himself into so much of a panic that
he was unable to postpone it.
And so, on the first night, Mrs. Sawyer had pretended grief and
horror, and had refused to understand McReynolds’ questions, because it
was necessary for her to learn as quickly as possible what Ellen Morison
remembered about the man. If she had differed too much with the girl’s
description, which was fairly accurate, she might have started Cochran
and McReynolds nosing around; and so, she agreed with it, and identified
Johnny Palica.
She did that to cover herself, obviously, and to keep the police busy
on another angle. And then the married couple supported her identifica­
tion, and Johnny Palica was unable to prove his whereabouts, and every­
thing had begun to work out very nicely for Mrs. Sawyer and her friend.
Until he had done the one thing he should never have done – until he had
visited Mrs. Sawyer at home, very late at night, in the same apartment
house where Cochran and McReynolds had questioned her weeks ago.
As soon as Cochran had recognized the apartment house he had asked
himself the natural question: what connection was there between this man
and an attractive little woman like Mrs. Sawyer? Only one answer had
seemed at all feasible. It explained immediately why Mrs. Sawyer had
identified Johnny Palica, and why Ellen Morison had refused to identify
him. Now Cochran was unable to understand why he had never consid­
ered that particular aspect before; and even after McReynolds and the
other two had got Mrs. Sawyer and her masculine friend screaming at
each other, blaming each other – into the department car and had start­ed
downtown with them, the whole thing continued to exasperate Coch­ran
as the evidence of a colossal personal stupidity.
«Because in something like this we always check on the wife or hus­
band,» he insisted to Ellen Morison, who was still waiting downstairs for
him. «Always! We’d have done it this time if you hadn’t been there to
back up her story. But when you saw the whole thing happen just in front
of you – Well, how were we going to question it? What for? It wasn’t
reasonable.» «But I suppose this is,» Ellen Morison said. She looked
very tired and miserable. «Now everything’s fine. If those two make you
ashamed of the whole human race, that doesn’t matter at all, it’s just –»
Her mouth twisted. «Get me away from here, Cohran, please, I’m
scared. I don’t want to hear anything else about this. All I – »
She began shivering. Cochran soothed her. There was a perspective
you attained in such matters, Cochran said; the one important thing was
that you did not permit an event of this nature to throw you off balance,
to make you cynical, to – He stopped there; he remembered suddenly
that not too long ago he had been arguing a similar question from another
position. Ah, forget it, he thought angrily. Who understood why things
like this happened the way they did? Who wanted to? He could go this far
with Ellen Morison – they worked out pretty well frequently. They had
worked out now, hadn’t they?
It did not strike him at once that he had gone much further with her
than he had ever gone with anyone else. When it did strike him, he decid­ed
that perhaps there was some sort of significance there. He got her into the
car and patted her hand tentatively and murmured to her. On other nights,
Cochran decided and under different conditions, they could argue the
verities, but just now he would have to be very firm, and sen­sible about this.
He was. He started the car and got her away from there. They drove
aimlessly at first, with Cochran very quiet and reassuring with her, and
then he took her home and went home himself. He slept fourteen hours
with nothing disturbing him, not even the garbage trucks or the morning
traffic, and when he woke up at last, he discovered that he felt fine and
comfortable, and that he was thinking about Ellen Morison. Say, Coch­
ran thought slowly, what is this? But he knew. He knew almost as soon
as the question completed itself.
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1. What were the obvious items that the policemen noticed at the site
of the crime?
2. What could the witnesses tell about the shooting?
3. What picture of the crime did Ellen Morrison give?
4. What did the married couple see?
5. How did Mrs. Sawyer behave?
6. What measures did the police take to find the criminal?
7. What difficulties in identifying the criminal did the policemen
8. Why did Cochran and McReynolds’ relations become tense?
9. What information did Ellen Morrison want to share with the
10. What facts made the detectives doubt?
11. Why did the witness Miss Morrison feel confused?
12. What steps did Cochran take to clear out the whole matter?
13. In what atmosphere did Cochran and Johnny Palica’s meeting
take place? What did both feel?
14. What was Cochran’s manner of interrogation like? Why?
15. Why did he leave the room so hurriedly?
16. Did the policeman know even before his talk with Ellen that they
had taken the wrong man?
17. What did Mrs. Sawyer insist on? How did she change?
18. Why did the police establish a vigil outside the Shamrock
19. Did this action bring any results?
20. How can you prove that both Ellen and the detective felt confused
and extremely inconvenient?
21. They became disagreeable and irritated, didn’t they?
22. What happened one night?
23. Why was Cochran mad with anger?
24. If Cochran thought that the witness was mistaken why did he
follow the sedan?
25. What event made the detective act quickly and resolutely?
26. What was the real picture of the crime?
27. Was Ellen Morrison’s evidence of the crime justified?
28. Why did Cochran continue thinking about Ellen?
1. ...every one of these people was quite willing to furnish Cochran
with detailed and significant information…
2. He and McReynolds set out to locate this man.
3. The girl corroborated his story.
4. There was no more toughness or defiance in him.
5. … but Ellen Morrison froze and made some sort of breathlessly
inarticulate sound…
1. Johnny Palica was the victim of circumstances.
2. Mrs.Sawyer was quite successful in her attempts to mislead the
3. Hadn’t it been for Ellen Morrison,the real criminal would have
escaped justice.
4. Witnesses so often differ in their accounts of what they have
5. Capital punishment is believed by some people to be the only true
deterrent to vicious crime.What is your opinion about it?
1. With time and patience the leave of the mulberry becomes satin.
Терпенье и труд все перетрут.
2. To put a spoke in somebody’s wheel.
Вставлять палки в колеса.
3. Everything comes to him who waits.
Все прийдет к тому, кто ждет.
4. He laughs best who laughs last.
Хорошо смеется тот, кто смеется последним.
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by Dorothy L. Sayers
£ 500 REWARD
The Evening Messenger has decided to offer the above reward to any
person who shall give information leading to the arrest of the man, William Strickland, who is wanted by the police in connection with the murder of the late Emma Strickland at 59, Acacia Crescent, Manchester.
The following is the official description of William Strickland: Age
43; height 6 ft 1 or 2; complexion rather dark; hair silver-grey and abundant, may dye same; full grey moustache and beard, may now be cleanshaven; eyes light grey; left upper eye-tooth stopped with gold; left
thumb-nail deformed by a recent blow.
Speaks in rather loud voice; quick, decisive manner. Disappeared 5th
inst., and may have left, or will try to leave, the country.
Mr. Budd read the description through carefully once again and
sighed. It was most unlikely that William Strickland should choose his
small and unsuccessful saloon out of all the barbers’ shops in London,
for a haircut or a shave, still less for «dyeing same»; even if he was in
London, which Mr. Budd saw no reason to suppose.
Nevertheless, Mr. Budd committed the description, as well as he
could to his memory. It was a chance – and Mr. Budd’s eye was always
fascinated by headlines with money in them.
He put the newspaper down, and as he did so, caught sight of his
own reflection in the glass and smiled, for he was not without a sense of
hu­mour. He did not look quite the man to catch a brutal murderer singlehanded. He was well on in the middle forties – with a small paunch and
pale hair, five feet six at most, and soft-handed, as a hairdresser must be.
Even razor in hand, he would hardly be a match for William Strick­
land, height six feet one or two, who had so fiercely beaten his old aunt
to death. Shaking his head doubtfully, Mr. Budd advanced to the door, –
and nearly ran into a large customer who dived in rather suddenly.
«I beg your pardon, sir,» murmured Mr. Budd, fearful of losing ninepence; «just stepping out for a breath of fresh air, sir. Shave, sir?» The
large man tore off his overcoat without waiting for Mr. Budd’s helping
hands. «Are you prepared to dye?» he demanded abruptly. The question
fitted in so alarmingly with Mr. Budd’s thoughts about murder that for a
moment it quite threw him off his professional balance.
«I beg your pardon, sir,» he stammered, and in the same moment
decided that the man must be a preacher of some kind. He looked rather like
it, with his odd, light eyes, his bush of fiery red hair and short chin-beard.
«Do you do dyeing?» said the man impatiently.
«Oh!» said Mr. Budd, relieved, «yes, sir, certainly, sir.»
A stroke of luck, this dyeing meant quite a big sum.
«Fact is,» said the man, «my young lady doesn’t like red hair. She
says it attracts attention. Dark brown, now – that’s the colour she has a
fancy for. And I’m afraid the beard will have to go. My young lady does
not like beards.»
«Will you have the moustache off as well, sir?»
«Well, no-no, I think I’ll stick to that as long as I’m allowed to,
what?» He laughed loudly, and Mr.Budd approvingly noted well-kept
teeth and a gold stopping. The customer was obviously ready to spend
money on his personal appearance.
In fancy, Mr. Budd saw this well off and gentlemanly customer
advising all his friends to visit «his man» . It was most important that
there should be no failure. Hair-dyes were awkward things – there had
been a case in the paper lately.
«I see you have been using a tint before, sir», said Mr. Budd with
respect. «Could you tell me ?»
«Eh?» said the man. «Oh, yes – well, fact is, as I said, my fiancee’s a
good bit younger than I am.
As I expect, you can see I began to go grey early – my father was just
the same – all our family – so I had it touched up – grey bits restored, you
see. But she doesn’t like the colour, so I thought, if I have to dye it at all,
why not a colour she does fancy while we’re about it, what?»
Lightly talking about the feminine mind, Mr. Budd gave his custom­
er’s hair the examination of trained eye and fingers. Never – never in the
process of nature could hair of that kind have been red. It was naturally
black hair, prematurely grey. However, that was none of his busi­ness.
He received the information he really needed – the name of the dye formerly used, and noted that he would have to be careful. Some dyes do not
mix kindly with other dyes.
Chatting pleasantly, Mr. Budd worked on, and as he used the roaring
drier, talked of the Manchester murder.
«The police seem to have given it up as a bad job,» said the man.
«Perhaps the reward will liven things up a bit,» said Mr. Budd, the
thought being naturally uppermost in his mind.
«Oh, there’s a reward, is there? I hadn’t seen that.»
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«It’s in to-night’s paper, sir. Maybe you’d like to have a look at it.»
The stranger read the paragraph carefully and Mr. Budd, watching him
in the glass, saw him suddenly draw back his left hand, which was resting carelessly on the arm of the chair, and push it under the white apron.
But not before Mr. Budd had seen it. Not before he had taken con­
scious note of the horny, deformed thumb-nail. Many people had such
an ugly mark, Mr. Budd told himself hurriedlly, but the man glanced up,
and the eyes of his reflection became fixed on Mr. Budd’s face in serious
«Well,» said Mr. Budd, «the man is safe out of the country by now,
I reckon. They’ve put it off too late.»
The man laughed.
«I reckon they have,»he said. Mr. Budd wondered whether many men
with smashed left thumbs showed a gold upper left eye-tooth. Probably
there were hundreds of people like that going about the country. Like­
wise with silver-grey hair («may dye same») and aged about forty-three.
There came back to him the exact number and extent of the brutal
wounds inflicled upon the Manchester victim – an elderly lady, rather
stout, she had been. Glancing through the door, Mr. Budd noticed that the
streets were full of people. How easy it would be ...
«Be as quick as you can, won’t you?» said the man, a little impatiently, but pleasantly enough. «It’s getting late. I’m afraid it will keep
you over time.»
«Not at all, sir,» said Mr. Budd. «It doesn’t matter at all.»
No – if he tried to rush out of the door, his terrible customer would
jump upon him, drag him back, and then with one frightful blow like the
one he had given his aunt…
Yet surely Mr. Budd was in a position of advantage. A decided man
would do it. He would be out in the street before the customer could get
out of the chair. Mr. Budd began to move round towards the door.
«What’s the matter?» said the customer. «Just stepping out to look at
the time, sir,» said Mr. Budd softly and stopped. He retreated to the back
of the shop, collecting his materials. If only he had been quicker – more
like a detective in a book – he would have observed that thumb-­nail, that
tooth, put two and two together, and run out to give the alarm while the
man’s beard was wet and soapy and his face buried in the towel. Or he
could put lather in his eyes – nobody could possibly commit a murder or
even run away down the street with his eyes full of soap.
But after all Mr. Budd didn’t have to arrest the man himself.
«Information leading to arrest’ – those were the words. He would he
able to tell them the wanted man had been there, that he would now have
dark brown hair and moustache and no beard.
It was at this moment that the great inspiration came to Mr. Budd.
As he fetched a bottle from the glass-fronted case he remembered an oldfashioned wooden paper-knife that had belonged to his mother. Handpainted, it bore the inscription «Knowledge is Power.»
Mr. Budd now felt a strange freedom and confidence; he removed the
razors with all easy, natural movement, and made light conversation as
he skillfully applied the dark-brown tint.
The streets were less crowded when Mr. Budd let his customer out.
He watched the tall figure cross Grosvenor Place and climb onto a 24 bus.
He closed the shop door, and in his turn made his way, by means of
a 24, to the top of Whitehall.
Mr. Budd was interviewed by an important looking inspector in uniform who listened very polilely to his story and made him repeat very
carefully about the gold tooth and the thumbnail and the hair which had
been black before it was grey or red and was now dark-brown.
«But there’s one thing more,» said Mr. Budd – «and I’m sure to
good­ness,» he added, «I hope, sir, it is the right man because if it isn’t
it’ll be the ruin of me.»
Nervously he crushed his soft hat into a ball as he leant across the
table, breathlessly uttering the story of his great professional betrayal.
The Miranda docked at Ostend at 7 a.m. A man burst hurriedly
into the cabin where the wireless operator was just taking off his head­
«Here!» he cried; «this is to go. There’s something up and the Old
Man’s sent over for the police. The Consul’s coming on board. A mes­
sage to the English police:
Man on board answering to description.Ticket booked name of Wat­
son. Has locked himself in cabin and refuses to come out. Insists on having hairdresser sent out to him. Have communicated Ostend police. Await
The Old Man with authoritative gestures cleared a way through the
excited little knot of people gathered about First Class Cabin No. 36, for
several passengers had heard of ’something up’. Sternly he bade the stew­
ards and the boy to stand away from the door. Terribly he commanded
them to hold their tongues. Four or five sailors stood watchfully at his
side. In the sudden silence, the passenger in No. 36 could be heard pacing
up and down the narrow cabin, moving things, clattering, splashing water.
Presently came steps overhead. Six pairs of Belgian police boots
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came tip-toeing down the stairs. The Old Man glanced at the official
paper held out to him and nodded.
The Old Man knocked at the door of No. 36.
«Who is it?» cried a harsh, sharp voice.
«The barber is here, sir,that you sent for.»
«Ah!» There was relief in the tone. «Send him in alone, if you please.
I-I have had an accident.»
At the sound of the bolt being carefully withdrawn, the Old Man
stepped forward. The door opened a chink, and was slammed to again,
but the Old Man’s boot was firmly pushed into the opening. The policemen hurried forward. The passenger was brought out.
«Strike me pink!» screamed the boy, «strike me pink if he ain’t gone
green in the night!»
Not for nothing had Mr. Budd studied the complicated reactions of
chemical dyes. In the pride of his knowledge he had set a mark on his
man, to mark him out from all the billions of this overpopulated world.
Was there a port in all the world where a murderer might slip away, with
every hair on him green as a parrot – green moustache, green eye­brows,
and that thick, springing mass of hair, vivid, flaring midsummer green?
Mr. Budd got his £ 500. The Evening Messenger published the full
story of his great betrayal. He trembled, fearing this dangerous fame.
Surely no one would ever come to him again.
On the next morning an enormous blue limousine rolled up to his
door. A lady, magnificent in furs and diamonds, swept into the saloon.
«You are Mr. Budd, aren’t you?» she cried. «The great Mr.Budd?
Isn’t it too wonderful? And now, dear Mr Budd, you must do me a favour.
You must dye my hair green, at once. Now. I want to be able to say l’m
the very first to be done by you. I’m the Duches of Winchester,and that
awful Melcaster woman is chasing me down the street – the cat!»
If you want it done, I can give the number of Mr. Budd’s parlours in
Bond Street. But I understand it is a terribly expensive process.
1. What notice did the Evening Messenger carry?
2. Why did Mr. Budd memorize the description of the man wanted
by the police?
3. Why did Mr. Budd think he would hardly be a match for William
4. What did Mr. Budd suppose when his customer said,«Are you
prepared to dye»?
5. What did the customer really mean?
6. What made Mr. Budd suspect his customer?
7. What confirmed his suspicions?
8. What was Mr. Budd’s first impulse?
9. What was Mr. Budd’s great inspiration?
10. How was the murderer captured?
11. How was Mr. Budd rewarded for his ingenious idea?
12. Why did the Duches of Winchester want to have her hair dyed
1. And I’m afraid the beard will have to go.
2. Some dyes do not mix kindly with other dyes.
3. Perhaps the reward will liven things up a bit.
4. Terribly he commanded them to hold their tongues.
5. Not for nothing had Mr. Budd studied the complicated reactions
of chemical dyes.
1. Do you believe that it’s impossible to meet a criminal face to
2. Only money rewards can make citizens collaborate with police.
3. Try to explain how it sometimes happens that the most impossible
things may become the current fashion.
4. Knowledge is power, isn’t it?
5. It’s not an easy matter to identify the man by his description in the
1. Knowledge is the antidote of fear.
Знание – это противоядие страху.
2. No flying from fate. От судьбы не уйдешь.
3. Variety is the spice of life.
Перемены придают остроту жизни.
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The conversation took a turn. The theme now was the ruin of good
men by bad wives, and, more particularly, the frustration of many a promising young man’s high hopes by an early marriage.
«I did it myself», said the hay-maker with bitterness. «I married at
eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence o’t.»
He pointed at himself and family. The young woman, his wife, who
seemed accustomed to such remarks, acted as if she did not hear them.
The auctioneer selling the horses in the field outside could be heard
saying, «Now this is the last lot – now who’ll take the last lot? Shall I say
two guineas? «Tis a promising brood-mare, a trifle over five years old.»
The hay-maker continued. «For my part, I don’t see why men who
have got wives and don’t want ‘em shouldn’t get rid of ‘em as these gipsy
fellows do their horses. Why, I’d sell mine this minute if anyone would
buy her!» The fuddled young husband stared around for a few seconds,
then said harshly, «Well, then, now is your chance; I am open to an offer.”
She turned to her husband and murmured, «Michael, you have talked
this nonsense in public places before. A joke is a joke, but you may make
it once too often, mind!»
«I know I’ve said it before, and I meant it. All I want is a buyer. Here,
I am waiting to know about this offer of mine. The woman is no good to
me. Who’ll have her?» The woman whispered; she was imploring and
anxious. «Come, come, it is getting dark, and this nonsense won’t do. If
you don’t come along, I shall go without you. Come!» She waited and
waited; yet he did not move.
«I asked this question and nobody answered to’t. Will anybody buy
The woman’s manner changed. «I wish somebody would,» said she
firmly. «Her present owner is not to her liking!»
«Nor you to mine», said he. «Now stand up, Susan, and show yourself. Who’s the auctioneer?»
«I be,» promptly answered a short man. «Who’ll make an offer for
this lady?»
«Five shillings», said someone, at which there was a laugh.
«No insults,» said the husband. «Who’ll say a guinea?» Nobody
answered. «Set it higher, auctioneer.»
«Two guineas!» said the auctioneer; and no one replied.
«If they don’t take her for that, in ten seconds they’ll have to give
more,» said the husband. «Very well. Now, auctioneer, add another.»
«Three guineas. Going for three guineas!»
«I’ll tell ye what. I won’t sell her for less than five,» said the husband, bringing down his fist. «I’ll sell her for five guineas to any man that
will pay me the money and treat her well; and he shall have her for ever.
Now then, five guineas and she’ s yours. Susan, you agree?» She bowed
her head with absolute indifference.
«Five guineas,» said the auctioneer. «Do anybody give it? The last
time. Yes or no?»
«Yes,» said a loud voice from the doorway.
All eyes were turned. Standing in the triangular opening which
formed the door of the tent, was a sailor, who, unobserved by the rest, had
arrived there within the last two or three minutes. A dead silence followed.
«You say you do?» asked the husband, staring at him. «I say so,»
replied the sailor.
«Saying is one thing, and paying is another. Where’s the money?»
The sailor hesitated a moment, looked anew at the woman, came in,
unfolded five crisp pieces of paper, and threw them down upon the tablecloth. They were Bank of England notes for five pounds. Upon these, he
chinked down the shillings severally – one, two, three, four, five. The
sight of real money in full amount had great effect upon the spectators.
Their eyes became riveted upon the faces of the chief actors, and then
upon the notes, as they lay, weighted by the shillings, on the table. The
lines of laughter left their faces, and they waited with parted lips.
«Now,» said the woman, breaking the silence, «before you go further, Michael, listen to me. If you touch that money, I and this girl go
with the man. Mind, it is a joke no longer.»
«A joke? Of course it is not a joke!» shouted her husband. «I take the
money, the sailor takes you.» He took the sailor’s notes and deliberately
folded them, and put them with the shillings in a pocket with an air of finality.
The sailor looked at the woman and smiled. «Come along!» he said
kindly. «The little one, too. The more the merrier!» She paused for an
instant. Then, dropping her eyes again and saying nothing, she took up the
child and followed him as he made towards the door. On reaching it, she
turned, and pulling off her wedding-ring, flung it in the hay-maker’s face.
«Mike,» she said, «I’ve lived with thee a couple of years, and had
nothing but ill-temper! Now I’ll try my luck elsewhere. Twill be better
for me and Elizabeth-Jane, both.
So good-bye!»
1. What was the conversation between the men about?
2. Why was the hay-maker so bitter about his marriage?
3. Why did wife take his words indifferently?
4. What was happening at that time outside the building?
5. What theory about marriage did the hay-maker have?
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6. For what offer was he open?
7. Did Susan take her husband’s words seriously?
8. When the auctioneer agreed to auction Susan did he believe it was
only a joke?
9. Have you ever heard of auctions offering wives for sale?
10. Was it an open insult to Susan? What did she feel?
11. Who bought Susan and her child? For how much?
12. Why did laughter leave the spectators’ faces?
13. Did Michael understand that his joke had gone too far?
14. Did the sailor have any right to buy the woman?
15. Was Susan relieved after she had been bought? What did she
think about her married life?
1. ...I don’t see why men who have got wives and don’t want’em
shouldn’t get rid of’em as these gypsy fellows do their horses.
2. ...I’m open to offer.
3. Her present owner is not to her liking.
4. The lines of laughter left their faces.
5. ...and put them with the shillings in a pocket with an air of
1.Auctions of people are immoral.
2.Women are often humiliated by men.
3.Early marriages lead to frustration.
1. Best defence is offence.
Лучшая защита – нападение.
2. Discretion in speech is more than eloquence.
Благоразумие в речах важнее красноречия.
3. Every dark cloud has a silver lining.
Нет худа без добра.
by Jay Street
Marvin Geller arrived at his office on Monday morning, with the
feeling that his was a dull and conventional existence. The night before,
he had met an explorer, an actor, and a Marine sergeant at a party. Tales
of their triumphs and exploits lingered in his ears. As he paused in front
of the mahogany door, he no longer felt a thrill of pride at the sight of the
gold letters that proclaimed his function in the world.
With a sigh, he put the key in the lock and went inside.
Even the sight of his gleaming-white, immaculate equipment, the
new amalgamator that produced a fine mix of alloy and mercury in just
eight seconds, the neatly-kept files, the general atmosphere of efficiency,
faded to lighten his gloom mood. Nevertheless, he managed a smile
when Miss Forbes, his assistant, arrived for the day’s work. ­
«Mrs. Holland this morning,» she said brightly. «You were supposed
to take radiographs of her central incisor. And I was supposed to remind
you about Mr. Feuer’s abscessed molar.»
«Yes, thanks,» he said vaguely.
«It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? I walked to the office this morning. Did
you have a good time last night?»
«Just fine. Did that Mr. Smith call again last night after I left?»
«Oh, yes.» Miss Forbes started flipping through the appointment calendar. «I told him you were booked solid for the day, but he was insistent
and said he’d drop by anyway.»
«Strange man. Oh, well,» Marvin said, reaching for his clean white
coat. «Let’s get things started.»
Marvin’s mood improved as the day wore on as he became occupied with the problem of Mrs. Holland’s incisor, Mr. Feuer’s molar, Miss
Beech’s gingivitis, Mr. Conroy’s impacted wisdom. By afternoon, he
was almost as convinced of the worth of his profession as he had always
been. But adventurous? Maybe not.
At one o’clock, Miss Forbes announced: «That man is here again:
Smith. The funny part is, Mrs. Fletcher cancelled her appointment a couple of minutes ago, so you could see him lf you want. «Send him in,»
Marvin said.
Mr. Smith was a short, compact man with sharp-angled shoulders
and an eroded complexion.His handshake was muscular, and his tight
chin displayed a set of badly cared-for teeth. He looked at the dental
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chair doubtfully, but when he turned his small black eyes to the doctor,
they seemed wise and unafraid.
«Make yourself comfortable,» Marvin said. «Was there some specific complaint,or just a check-up?» «Well, I’ll tell you, Doc,» Smith’s
voice was hoarse. «I got kind of a dull pain, back here.» He shoved a
blunt finger in his mouth. Marvin probed the back teeth. Quickly, he
found the gaping cavity in the second molar. There appeared to be numerous other problems, too and Marvin assessed them with interest. «Well,
Doc? What’s the verdict?» «You have several cavities. The most serious
is in the second molar, that’s the cause of your pain.» «Will you have to
drill?» «Some, but it won’t be bad.»
«Don’t give me that. I heard that ‘painless’ junk before.» He shut
his mouth firmly, and then the lips turned upwards in a smile. «Be­sides, I
didn’t come for no drilling. I just figured the best way to ap­proach you
was like a patient. Sorry to spoil your fun.»
Marvin stared at him and knew he was telling the truth. He didn’t
look like a patient. He was too cocky, sitting in the chair, one hand toying
with the contra angle, swinging it carelessly.
«I don’t understand. What did you want, Mr. Smith?» – «I want
to do a little business, Doc.» He gestured towards the neat file cabinets.
«A friend of mine is thinking of setting up a little dental practice. I’d
like to buy those files from you.» Marvin gaped. «But those are my personal dental records; they’re not for sale.» «Maybe not usually.» Mr.
Smith grinned with his bad teeth. «But in this case, maybe you’ll make
an exception, Doc. Like for a thousand bucks.»
«Are you crazy?» Mr. Smith dipped into his jacket and came out with
a chubby envelope. He slapped it against the chair arm, smiling. Marvin
shook his head vigorously. «Your friend is going about this all wrong.
Those files won’t help anybody – they’re just charts of the dental conditions of my patients, past and present. And they’re cer­tainly not for sale.»
Smith’s grin widened. «I get it, Doc. Okay, I can be reasonable.
Let’s make it – two grand, and I’ll take the files right along with me.»
«Miss Forbes!» Marvin cried. Smith’s face fell, and the grin vanished. «Okay, don’t get in an uproar. If you want time to think it over, take
time. I’II be back here tomorrow. But I’d take my offer seriously, Doc.
My friend can get pretty nasty.»Miss Forbes came in. «Yes, Dr. Geller?»
«It’s okay,»the man said. «I was just going.Thanks for the exam, Doc.
Maybe next time I’ll let you fill the tooth. Hardly get any fun out of a
steak anymore.» When he was gone, Miss Forbes looked at the dentist’s
shaking hands «.Something wrong, Dr. GeIler?»
«No, nothing.Just a crackpot.» He straightened his white jacket.
«Show Mr.Feuer in, and stand by for an X-Ray.»
At ten the next morning, Miss Forbes came in just as he was com­
pleting a temporary filling, «I told him you were busy, doctor –»
«Who?» «Mr. Smith. He’s on the phone.» Marvin sighed, and
excused himself. In the anteroom, he picked up the telephone receiver
lying on the desk blotter.
«Hiya, Doc,» Smith’s hoarse voice said. «Had time to sleep on my
offer?» «I didn’t give it another thought. The files are not for sale.» «Then
listen carefully, this is the final offer. Three thousand bucks. I’ll come
over with the cash at five-thirty.» «No!» Marvin said angrily. «There’s
no use coming, Mr. Smith, unless you want me to do something about
that cavity of yours. Other­wise, you’re wasting your time.» «Yeah, sure,
Doc, you can fill the tooth. Been hurting like hell today. I’ll see you at
five-thirty.» He spent the rest of the day wondering about it. He wondered about it through three fillings, an extraction, and a laborious root
canal job. Then, at five fifteen, he said good night to Miss Forbes. The
short, compact man showed up promptly for his appointment and hopped
athletically into the chair. «Been thinking about it, Doc?» «Yes, I have.
Only we better have that tooth taken care of before it gives you real trouble.» «Sure, Doc, whatever you say.» Marvin inserted the angled mirror,
and said: «This won’t take long. A few minutes of drilling, and then I’ll
put in a temporary filling.You come back in two days and I’ll finish up.»
«That’s okay with me.»
Marvin set to work, adjusting the burr on the end of the grill arm,
absorbed in his work, no longer worrying about the motives of the man
in the chair. All patients were the same to Marvin, just open mouths with
problems. He worked quickly and methodically, using the drill end delicately, expertly readying the cavity for the insertion of the tem­porary fill.
«There,»he said finally. «Was I right or wrong about the pain, Mr.
Smith?» «Not bad, Doc, not bad at all.» The short man rubbed his jaw.
«And just to show my gratitude, I’ll make this part painless, too,»
He reached into his jacket and produced an even fatter envelope.
«There’s three thousand bucks in there, Doc. And it’s all yours.» Marvin
shook his head. «I’m sorry you misunderstood me, Mr. Smith. It’s just
not a question of money.»
Smith stopped smiling.
«I was afraid you’d say that, Doc. I was hoping we could keep it
painless, but I see we can’t.»
His hand returned to his jacket, but this time it brought forth some­
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thing a great deal more upsetting than an envelope. It was a small, competent-looking pistol, and it fitted cosily in his hand.
«Now,» he said. «See what you get for being stubborn? If you did it
my way, you’d be three grand richer. Now you got nothing.» He wrig­
gled the fingers of his free hand. «Let’s have ’em all, Doc. The files.»
«You can’t do this!» Marvin said, staring at the round hole in the
weapon. «This is robbery!» «So it’s robbery.Let’s have the files, Doc,
from A to Z and no monkey business.» Marvin turned around, his heart
thumping. He pulled out the two long drawers marked RECORDS and
brought them back to the chair. Smith tucked one under each arm, and
grinned. «Thanks, Doc. My friend will be very happy.» He covered Marvin with the pislol, and went to the door. «Thanks for the good work,» he
said. «I’m looking forward to that steak tonight.» Marvin looked blankly
at the closed door after he was gone, and then rushed for the anteroom
telephone. «Hello, operator? Give me the police!» When the sergeant’s
dry voice at the other end asked his business, Marvin said: «I want to talk
to somebody in homicide.» There was a click, and a second voice said:
«Lieutenant Gregg speak­ing. What can I do for you?» «Listen, my name
is Marvin Geller, and I’m a dentist in the Brooks Building on Fifth Avenue, eighth floor. A patient just held me up and stole my dental records –»
«You got the wrong division, mister.» «No, wait! Has there been a murder recently? Somebody found dead you couldn’t identify?» «What’s the
point?» «You don’t understand. This man tried to buy my dental records,
and when I wouldn’t sell them, he took them by force. If you’ve found a
body recently, maybe that means he’s trying to prevent identification–»
«Stay where you are!» Gregg snapped. «We’ll be right over.»
The Lieutenant was a burly, square-jawed man, but he looked
un­comfortable at the sight of Marvin’s equipment. He sat gingerly in
the chair and said: «Okay, so what makes you so sure about the murder?» «Well, it happens all the time, doesn’t it? Bodies get smashed up
or burned beyond recognition, but they can often be identified by their
teeth. Every dentist keeps a record – and teeth are more personal than fingerprints. Isn’t that right?»
«Yeah, that’s true enough. But just because a guy cops your files –»
«Why else would he offer so much money? One of my patients must
have been his victim; maybe he found one of my cards on him. If he
couldn’t be identified, maybe there wouldn’t even be a murder inves­
tigation. Don’t you see?» Marvin licked his lips nervously.
«Did you find an unidentified body recently?»
«Yeah,» Gregg said, rubbing his cheek. «Matter of fact, we did, three
days ago. Out on Route 21, in the bushes. Man’s body, burned to ashes,
maybe with gasoline fumes.»
«Then he must be a patient of mine. All you’ve got to do is check on
all my clients, and find out which one is missing. You’ll have your victim
– then all you’ll need is your murderer.»
«Mr. Smith?»
«Of course.»
The detective shook his head. «That won’t be so easy. Now that he’s
got the files, he’s probably heading for parts unknown. Can you describe
this guy?»
«Exactly. Down to his teeth.» Marvin grinned triumphantly. «But
maybe I can do more than that. Maybe I can tell you where to find him.»
The dentist’s face glowed. «I don’t think you’ll have too much trou­
ble. All you’ve got to do is make sure that every dentist in the area has
his description. He’ll walk right into your arms.»
«Because,» Marvin said, «once I figured he was up to no good, I
drilled that bad tooth of his all the way down to the nerve. Then I put in a
filling that I knew couldn’t last more than ten or fifteen minutes.»
«Ouch,» said the lieutenant, wincing.
«Ouch is right,» Marvin grinned. «He’s going to need help pretty
soon. That tooth will give him the biggest ache he’s ever had in his life.
All you have to do is be ready for him. Okay?»
«Okay is right,» the detective grinned widely. When he shook Mar­
vin’s hand, the dentist noticed the incipient cavity in his lateral inci­sor.
«I’ll be seeing you, Doc,» Gregg said.
«I wouldn’t be at all surprised,» said Marvin happily.
1. What did Marvin Geller do?
2. Why wasn’t he proud of himself?
3. What unexpected visitor did the doctor have that day?
4. What brought Mr. Smith to the dentist’s surgery?
5. What offer did the newcomer make?
6. Why did Marvin see no sense in selling the dental records?
7. Was the doctor’s new patient very insistent?
8. What made the dentist wonder the rest of the day?
9. Was a temporary filling the only way of treating Mr. Smith’s
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10. What did the patient produce before leaving?
11. Did he threaten the doctor?
12. What for did Mr. Smith need the patients’ files?
13. What guesses about Mr. Smith did the dentist have?
14. What information did Gregg share with Marvin?
15. What way to investigate the crime did the dentist suggest?
16. How did the clever doctor help the police?
1. …he no longer felt a thrill of pride at the sight of the gold letters
that proclaimed his function in the world.
2. I just figured out the best way to approach you was like a patient.
3. My friend can get pretty nasty.
4. It’s just not a question of money.
5. ...from A to Z and no monkey business.
6. ...he’s probably heading for parts unknown.
7. He’ll walk right into your arms.
1. Marvin Geller was a highly skilled dentist.
2. A dentist’s work is monotonous and unchallenging.
3. Mr. Smith was not of great interest to Marvin Geller as a patient.
4. Criminals are inventive above the ordinary.
5. Bodies smashed up or burned beyond recognition can be identified
by their teeth.
6. Watchful people are of great help to the police.
7. Marvin Geller changed his mind about his profession.
1. Harm watch,harm catch.
Будешь лихо караулить – лихо и подхватишь.
2. No man is wise at all times.
И на старуху бывает проруха.
3. Look before you leap.
Не зная броду, не суйся в воду.
by Margaret St. Clair
I had nightmares about it for several years afterward – the kind where
something is on your heels, and you make desperate efforts, each more
futile than the last, to escape it – and always felt bad about them when
I woke up. I never could decide whether I was justified in having bad
dreams at all.
It began when I went to live with Aunt Muriel in 1933. I hadn’t had
a job for six months when I got the letter of invitation from her, and I
hadn’t eaten much at all for two weeks.
Aunt Muriel wasn’t exactly my aunt, to begin with. She was a sort
of great-aunt, once removed, on my mother’s side, and I hadn’t seen her
since I was a beady-eyed kid in knee breeches.
The invitation might have surprised me – though she explained in
the letter that she was an old woman, getting lonely, and felt the need of
some kindred face near her – only I was too hungry to wonder.
There was a money order in the letter, and a ticket to Downie, where
she lived. After I paid the back room rent with the money order and got
myself a meal with double portions of everything, I had two dollars and
thirteen cents left. I caught the afternoon train to Downie, and a little before
noon the next day I was walking up the steps to Aunt Mu­riel’s house.
Aunt Muriel herself met me at the door. She seemed glad to see me.
She wrinkled up her mouth in a smile of welcome. «So good of you to
come, Charles!» she said. «I really can’t thank you enough! So very good
of you!» She ran to italics.
I was beginning to warm up to the old girl. She didn’t look any old­er
to me than she had fifteen years before. She’d been held together by
whalebone and net collars then, and she still was. I put the more flattering portion of this idea into words.
«Oh, Charles,» she chirped, «you flatterer!» She gave me another
smile and then led me into the hall.
I followed her up the stairs to my room on the second floor front. It
had a high ceiling and a tall fourposter bed which should have had curtains
around it to cut off the draft. After she left, I put my immitation leather
suitcase in the big closet and went into the bath next door to clean up.
Lunch was laid on the dining-room table when I came down, and a
maid, who looked a good deal older than Aunt Muriel, was fluttering in
and out with more dishes. With my aunt’s encouragement, I ate enough
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to keep me comatose all afternoon, and then sat back with a cigarette and
listened to her talk.
She began by doing a good deal of commiserating with herself on the
subject of her age and loneliness, and a good deal of self-congratu­lation
because she was going to have a young kinsman around from now on.
It developed that I was expected to make myself useful in small ways
like walking the dog – an unpleasant Pomeranian named Teddy – and
taking letters to the mailbox.This was perfectly all right with me, and I
told her so.
There was a short hiatus in the conversation. Then, picking Teddy
up off the floor where he’d been during the meal, she installed him in her
lap and launched out on an account of what she called her hobby. In the
last year or so she’d taken up drawing and it had become, from what she
said, almost an obsession. Holding Teddy under one arm, she rose and
went to the walnut sideboard and returned with a portfolio of drawings
for me to look at.
«I do almost all my drawing here in the dining-room,» she said,
«be­cause the light is so good. Tell me, what do you think of these?» She
handed me fifty or sixty small sheets of drawing paper.
I spread the drawings out on the dining-room table, among the littеr
of dishes, and examined them carefully. They were all in pencil, though
one or two had been touched up with blotches of water color, and they
were all of the same subject, four apples in a low china bowl.
They had been labored over; Aunt Muriel had erased and re-erased
until the surface of the paper was gritty and miserable. I racked my brains
for something nice to say about them.
«You-unh-you’ve really caught something of the essence of those
apples,» I forced out after a moment. «Very creditable.»
My aunt smiled. «I’m so glad you like them,» she replied. «Amy said
– the maid, you know – that I was silly to work at them so much, but I
couldn’t stop, I couldn’t bear to stop, until they were perfect.» She paused,
then added, «Do you know, Charles, I had the biggest dif­ficulty!»
«The apples kept withering! It was dreadful. I put them in the ice­box
just as soon as I got through for the day, but still they went bad after two
or three weeks. It wasn’t until Amy thought of dipping them in melted
wax that they lasted long enough.»
«Good idea.»
«Yes, wasn’t it? But you know, Charles, I’ve gotten rather tired of
apples lalely. I’d like to try something else ... I’ve been thinking, that lit86
tle tree out on the lawn would make a good subject.»
She went over to the window to show me the tree she meant. I fol­
lowed her. It was a young sapling, just coming into leaf. My aunt said it
was a flowering peach.
«Don’t you think that would be a good subject, Charles? I believe I’ll
try it this afternoon while you take Teddy for a little walk.»
Amy helped bundle my aunt up in several layers of coats and mufflers,
and I carried the stool, the easel, the box of pencils and the paper out into
the garden for her.
She was rather fussy about the location of the various items, but I
finally got them fixed to her satisfaction. Then, though I’d much rather
have had an afterluncheon nap upstairs, I snapped the lead on Teddy’s
objectionable little collar and started out for a survey of the town of Downie.
I soon realized that Downie was the sort of town whose social life
centers around the drugstore, but I managed to kill the next two hours by
letting Teddy investigate the lamp posts which caught his fancy.
I expected to find Aunt Muriel on the lawn when I got back, hard at
work on her drawing, but she had gone in and the easel and stool were gone,
too. I looked around for her, but she wasn’t in sight, so I let Teddy climb
into his box in the dining-room and went upstairs for that belated nap.
After all, I couldn’t get to sleep. For some irrelevant reason I kept
thinking of all those painstaking drawings of the bowl of apples, and I lay
on the bed and counted the spots on the wall until dinner time.
The dinner was good, and plentiful. My aunt, however, was defini­
tely snappish. After Amy had cleared away the dishes and my aunt had
restored Teddy to his accustomed place on her lap, I found out what the
reason was. «My drawing went badly,» she complained. «The wind kept
whip­ping those leaves around until I couldn’t get a thing done.»
«I didn’t notice much wind, Aunt Muriel,» I said rather stupidly.
«You just don’t notice things!» she flared. «Why, the leaves weren’t still
a single minute.»
I hastened to make amends.
«I can see that a careful craftsman like yourself might be distracted,»
I placated her. «I’m sorry. I haven’t been with artists much.»
The reference to herself as an artist pleased my aunt.
«Oh, I’m sure you didn’t mean to give offense,» she said. «It’s just
that I can’t work with anything unless it’s absolutely still. That’s why
I stayed with the apples so long. But I would like to draw that tree. I
wonder…» She went into a brown study which lasted until she had
emptied two cups of coffee.
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«Charles,» she said finally, «I’ve been thinking. I want you to chop
that tree down for me tomorrow and bring it into the house. I’ll put it in
one of those two-quart milk bottles. That way I can draw without the
wind bothering me.»
«But it’s such a nice little tree,» I protested. «Besides, it won’t last
long after it’s been cut down.»
«Oh, it’s only a tree,» she replied. «I’ll get another from the nurs­ery.
And about the withering, Amy is wonderful with flowers.She puts aspirin
and sugar in the water, and they last forever. Of course, I’ll have to work
fast. But if I put in two or three hours in the morning and four or five after
lunch, I ought to get something done.»
As far as she was concerned, the matter was settled.
Immediately after breakfast next morning, Aunt Muriel led me to
the tool shed in the rear of the house and gave me a rusty hatchet. She
watched with ghoulish interest while I put an edge on the hatchet and
then escorted me to the scene of the execution. Feeling like a mur­derer,
I severed the little sapling from its trunk with a couple of chops and then
carried it into the house.
I spent the rest of that day, and the next three or four days, working
in the garden. I’ve always liked gardening, and there were some nice
things in the place, though they’d been badly neglected. I divided some
perennials and fertilized the earth around them with bone meal. Somebody
had stocked up the shed with Red Arrow and nicotine sul­phate, and I had
a good time spraying for aphides and beetles.
Friday morning at breakfast I found a five-dollar bill folded up in my
napkin. I raised my eyebrows toward Aunt Muriel. She nodded, yes, it
was for me, while a faint flush washed up in her flabby cheeks.
I folded it neatly and put it in my pocket, feeling a warm glow of
gratitude for the old girl. It really was extraordinarily decent of her to
provide me with cigarette money. I resolved to go shopping for a little
present for her that afternoon.
I found that the resources of Downie were limited. After hesitating
between a China fawn and a bowl of fan-tailed goldfish, I decided that the
goldfish had more verve. I went in after them, and discovered that Drake,
the clerk who sold them to me, had been to California, too, and was
practically a friend. I made a date with him for a gabfest the following
Aunt Muriel seemed genuinely delighted with the fish. She oohed
and ahhed over the sinuosity and filminess of their tails and ended by
installing the bowl on the little stand beside her easel.
We began to settle into a routine. In the mornings and early after­
noons Aunt Muriel drew in the dining-room while I worked in the gar­
den. Later in the day I ran errands, walked Teddy, and undertook a bunch
of small repairs around the house.
About the middle of my second week with Aunt Muriel, the peach
tree withered beyond any hope. She told me at dinner time, with a tone
of one announcing a major disaster, that she had had to throw it out. We
held a post mortem on the batch of thirty-two drawings she had been able
to complete before the catastrophe.
I picked out one of them as having more plastic value than the rest.
She admitted it was her favorite, too, and everything was fine. I could
see, though, that she was wondering what she could draw next.
The next day she flitted restlessly, through the house looking for
something to draw. She kept popping out into the yard where I was
transplanting antirrhinum seedlings, to ask my opinion of this or that as
a subject for her pencil. I noticed, when I went in to lunch, that she kept
watching the goldfish bowl speculatively, but I didn’t make any­thing of
it at the time.
That night when I returned from Drake’s house she met me at the
door and led me to the kitchen with an air of mysterious triumph.
«I was a little nervous about it,» she said, with her hand on the
handle of the refrigerator door. «But really, it came out ever so well!»
She opened the refrigerator, fumbled in its depths a moment, and pulled
out the goldfish bowl. Moisture began to condense on its surface. I stared
at it stupidly.
«I knew the fish would never hold still, and yet I was just aching to
draw them,» she went on. «So I thought and I thought – and really, I do
think it was a splendid idea, even if it was my own! I just turned the cold
control way down, and put the bowl in, and came back in a couple of
hours, and it was frozen solid!
«I was afraid the bowl would crack when it began to freeze, but
it didn’t. See, the ice is perfectly clear.» She picked up a dish towel
and rubbed the moisture away until I could see the two goldfish neatly
in­cased in transparent ice. «And now I’ll be able to draw them without
any trouble. Isn’t it wonderful?»
I said yes, it was wonderful and went upstairs as soon as I decently
could. The incident left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Not that I
held any especial brief for the continued existence of the goldfish, but
She’d seemed to enjoy watching them swimming about so much, and
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I’d given them to her, and – Oh, hell!
I woke up the next morning feeling faintly unhappy before I could
remember what was disturbing me. When I remembered, I decided that
I was acting like a champion chump. To let the demise of two goggleeyed fish upset me was tops in imbecility. Whistling, I went down to
After the meal was over, Aunt Muriel got the bowl out of the refrig­
erator and set to work. I went out in the shed and messed around with the
spray gun for a while.
Looking up at the scaling side of the house, I had an idea. Why not
repaint it? I asked my aunt and she approved. Accordingly, after some
calculation, I brought home a bucket of paint from the store and started
sloshing it on.
The work proceeded slowly. Days went by and I got to be a famil­
iar customer at the paint store. Aunt Muriel had finished her eighty-first
study of the frozen goldfish before I’d given the big house its first coat,
and the surface was so bad it was going to require at least two.
Spring drifted imperceptibly into early summer, and I was still
painting the house and Aunt Muriel was still drawing the goldfish, both
of us increasingly absorbed in our tasks.
I was having a pretty good time. Drake had introduced me to his sister, a
vivid brunette with just the combination of honey and claws which attracts
me most in a woman, and he’d got another girl for him­self. We went out
together several nights each week. My room in the city with the unpaid
rent, the hopeless hunt for a job, and the hunger, seemed a long way off.
I got the painting on the house done the day before Aunt Muriel
decided she had exhausted the goldfish. I felt like celebrating. So I mixed
soapsuds and nicotine sulphate, stirred up a mess of Red Arrow,and
puttered among the neglected plants to my heart’s content.
Aunt Muriel handed me the last of the goldfish studies at dinner the
next day and I went over the entire group with her. I was beginning to
hate these inquests over the anatomy of whatever she’d been drawing,
but I bore up under it as well as I could.
When we’d finished, she said, «CharIes, I’ve been wondering. Do
you suppose Teddy would be a good subject for me next?»
I looked down at the little animal where he was lying in her lap and
said yes, I thought he would, but would he hold still enough?
My aunt looked thoughtful.
«I don’t know,» she said. «I’ll have to try to think of something.
Perhaps I could give him his dinner right after breakfast. Or «... She went
off into one of those periods of meditation of hers and, after a while, I left
unobtrusively for my date with Virginia, Drake’s sister.
We sat in the porch swing in the dark and held hands while the breeze
blew the smell of purple lilacs toward us. It was a sweet, sad, sentimental
sort of date.
The next day was Saturday. After breakfast my aunt told me to take
Teddy for a walk, and to get him thoroughly tired out. She was going to
feed him when I got back and she hoped that the exercise, plus the food,
might make him comatose enough to serve as a model.
Obediently, we started out. Teddy and I assessed every lamp post
in Downie at least twice, and if he wasn’t tired out when I brought him
back, he should have been. My aunt took the lead from his collar and
led him to the pantry where his food dish was waiting, piled high with
Teddy ate like a little pig. When he had finished he lay down on
the floor of the pantry with a resolute air. My aunt had to carry him into
the dining-room and deposit him in a sunny spot near her easel. He was
asleep and snoring before I left the room.
We had lunch late that day, almost two-thirty in the afternoon, so
Aunt Muriel would be able to take full advantage of Teddy’s lethar­gy.
I was hungry, and Amy had prepared a really snazzy meal, centering
around fried chicken Southern style. As a result, it wasn’t until I had
finished with the fresh peach mousse that I paid much attention to my
aunt. Then I saw that she was looking distracted and morose.
«Didn’t the drawing go well this morning, Aunt Muriel?» I asked.
She shook her head until the pendants of her bright earrings jangled
«No, Charles, it did not. Teddy – » She halted, looking very sad.
«What was the matter? Wouldn’t he stay asleep?»
If my aunt had been a different type of woman she would have
laughed sardonically. As it was, she gave a tiny, delicale snort.
«Oh, he slept,» she replied. «Yes, he slept. But he kept twitching and
jumping and panting in his sleep until – well, really, Charles, it was quite
impossible. Like trying to draw an aspen in a high wind !»
«That’s too bad. I guess you’ll have to find another subject.»
For a moment my aunt did not answer. Looking at her, I thought I
caught a glint of tears in her eyes.
«Yes,» she replied slowly, «I guess I will…I think, Charles, I’ll go
into town this afternoon and buy a few little things for Teddy.»
For a moment something cold slid up and down my spine. Then it
was gone, and I was thinking it was nice of the old girl, considering how
much store she set by her drawing, not to be annoyed at the little dog. ..
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She came up to my room just before dinner and showed me what
she’d bought for Teddy. There was a bright red collar with a little bell,
a chocolate-flavored rubber bone, and a box of some confection called
«Dog Treet» which, according to the label, was a wholesome sweetmeat
for pets.
She put the collar on Teddy while I watched and then gave him two
of the dark brown lozenges out of the «Dog Treet» box. He ate them with
a flurry of little growls, and seemed to relish them ...
Sunday morning I sat around, nursing the old bones until my watch
told me it was time to get going if I didn’t want to be late for the all-day
hike Drake and I had planned with the girls.
We had a fine time in the country. Drake wandered into a thicket of
poison oak, and Virginia, giggling, dropped a woolly caterpillar down
my neck.
It was quite dark when I returned to the house. Even before I got
inside I noticed that all the lights were on and that there was a general air
of confusion.
When I opened the door I found Aunt Muriel standing in the hall­
way, having what looked like a fit. Amy was standing before her waving
a bottle of smelling salts.­
«It’s Teddy!» my aunt gasped when she saw me. «Oh, Charles, he’s
– » I put my arm around her comfortingly, and my aunt dissolved into
tears. They began to trickle over the coating of talcum powder on her
cheeks and drop on the high net collar around her neck.
«It’s Teddy,» she whimpered. «Oh, Charles, he’s dead!»
I’d been expecting it subconsciously, but all the same I jumped.
«What happened?» I asked.
«I let him out in the yard for a little run about three hours ago. He was
gone a long time, and at last I went out to look for him. I called and called
and finally I found him out under the rhododendron. He was awfully
sick. So I came right in and called the doctor, but when he got here, poor
little Teddy – was – was gone. Somebody must have poisoned him.» She
began to cry again.
I stroked my aunt’s shoulder and murmured reassuring words while
my mind was busy. Some one of the neighbors? Teddy had been a quiet
little beast, but he did bark once in a while, and some people just don’t
like dogs.
«Dr. Jones was ever so nice and sympathetic about it. He took poor
little Teddy away in a bag. He’s going to take him to a man he knows and
have him stuffed.»
Stuffed? I felt sweat break out along my shoulder blades and under
my arms. Mechanically I pulled the handkerchief out of my hip pocket
and handed it to my aunt.
She took it and began to blot her eyes. «It’s such a comfort to me,
anyway,» she said, blowing her nose, «to think that he did – enjoy his –
­last day – on earth.» ­
I took her up to her room and mixed her a bromide. I stood over her
while she drank and talked to her soothingly and patted her hand. After a
while I got her calm enough so I could go to my room.
I lay down on the bed and stared up at the spots on the ceiling for a
while. My head was beating hard and quick. Pretty soon I reached in my
coat pocket for cigarettes and began to smoke.
I emptied the pack while I lay there, looking at the ceiling, not
thinking about anything, keeping my mind back, with an effort that was
barely conscious, from the edge of something I didn’t want to ex­plore.
About twelve I undressed and went to bed.
I felt soggy the next day. I’d slept, but it hadn’t done me any good.
Aunt Muriel came in later after I’d pushed aside my toast. She was redeyed. I said good morning and went out into the garden.
The day was muggy and overcast, and I didn’t feel like doing much,
anyhow. I disbudded peonies for a while and clipped off seed pods; then
I decided to give the Oriental cherries a light going over with the pruning
shears. It ought to have been done earlier. When I’d finished, I went into the
shed for some linseed oil and bordeaux to mix a poultice for their wounds.
Reaching for the can of bordeaux, an unfamiliar gleam in the cor­ner
behind it caught my eyes. It was a can of arsenate of lead. The label bore
the usual skull and crossbones. I opened the can. About a quarter of an
inch of the poison was gone.
It might have been in the shed before, of course; I wasn’t sure it
hadn’t been. I held on to that idea: I wasn’t sure.
I don’t know what I did the rest of the day. I must have pottered
around in the garden, trying not to think, until dinner time. Aunt Muriel
came to the window once and asked me if I didn’t want any lunch, and I
said I wasn’t hungry.
I guess she spent the day looking at Teddy’s box in the living room.
Well, I got over it. Two or three days later, when Teddy came back
from the taxidermist’s, I’d pushed the whole thing back so far in my
mind that my reaction had begun to seem slightly comic as well as
Even when Aunt Muriel got her pencils and started on an endless
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series of sketches of the little stuffed animal, it was all right with me. If
anyone had asked me, I’d have said it was only natural for her to want to
draw the pet of which she’d been so fond.
While she drew Teddy over and over again, I started re-roofing the
house. It was a rough job because it was full of old-fashioned turrets and
cupolas, and the summer was well along before I finished.
Aunt Muriel kept urging me to relax, but I just couldn’t be quiet.
After the roof, I started a lath house in back for seedlings. Virginia
and I were dating almost every night, and I told myself I was feeling fine.
I did notice a slight, steady loss of weight, but I pretended it was due to
my smoking too much.
One hot night toward the end of August, my aunt got out the packet
of drawings she’d made of Teddy, and I went over them with her.
«I think I’ll try a few more» she said when I’d laid the last sketch
aside. «And then – well, I must get something else.» She looked sad.
«Yes,» I said noncommittally. The subject made me uneasy, some­
how. But so thoroughly had I repressed my awareness, I had no idea why.
«Charles,»she said after a minute. She was looking more depressed
than ever. «You’ve made an old woman very happy. This Virginia you’ve
been going around with so much – are you fond of her?»
«Why-unh-yes. Yes, I am.»
«Well, I’ve been thinking. Would you like it, Charles, if – if I were to
advance you the money to set up a little nursery business here in Downie?
You seem to have a real talent for that sort of thing. I’d miss you, of
course, but if you wanted to – I’m sure you’d be happy with Virginia,
and – »
She choked up and couldn’t go on. The old darling! I went around
to her side of the table and gave her a hug and kiss. I managed to tell her
how happy it would make me and how much I’d been wanting to do just
what she suggested. A business of my own, and Virginia for a wife! She
was better than a fairy godmother.
We sat up late discussing plans for the nursery – location, stock,
advertising, policy – items that I found fascinating, and Aunt Muriel
seemed to enjoy listening to.
When I went upstairs to bed, I was feeling so elated I didn’t think
I could ever go to bed. I whistled while I undressed. And, despile my
expectations, I corked off almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I awoke about three in the morning, my mind filled with an unal­
terable conviction. It was as if what I’d only suspected, what I’d made
myself forget, had added itself up and become, while I slept, an un­yielding
certainty. I sat on the edge of the bed in pajamas, shivering.
Aunt Muriel was going to kill me. Lovingly, regretfully, she was
going to put poison in my food or in my drink. Lovingly, regretfully, she
was going to watch my agonies or smooth my pillow.
With tears in her eyes, she would delay calling the doctor until it was
too late. She’d be most unhappy over the whole thing. And, after I was
dead, she’d give me to the best mortician in Downie to embalm.
A week later, after drawing me for eighteen hours daily, she’d con­
sign me to the earth, still regretfully, but with her regret a little alle­viated
by the knowledge that my last days on earth had been happy ones. The
nursery business and the marriage with Virginia Drake were, you see,
to be the equivalent for me of Teddy’s red collar and chocolate-flavored
bone. I went over my chain of reasoning rapidly. It was flawless. But
there was one thing more – I had to see for myself.
I drew on my bathrobe and tiptoed along the corridor and down the
back stairs. When I got into the shed, I lighted matches and looked until I
found the spot on the shelf behind the can of bordeaux where the arsenate
of lead should have been. It wasn’t there.
Back in my room, I dressed, threw things into my suitcase, and exited
in the classical way. That is, I knotted sheets together, tied them to the
four-poster bed, and slid down them to the ground. I caught the five-thirty
train for the city at the station.
I never heard from Aunt Muriel again. After I got to L.A. I wrote a
few cards to Virginia, without any address, just to let her know I hadn’t
forgotten her. After a while I got into private employment and met a nice
girl. One thing led to another, and we got married.
But there’s one thing I’d give a good deal to know. What did Aunt
Muriel draw next?
1. How did it happen that Charles went to stay with Aunt Muriel?
2. What impression did the aunt and the house make on the main
3. In what ways was Charles expected to make himself useful in
Aunt Muriel’s house?
4. What was Aunt Muriel’s hobby? What difficulties did she have
while drawing?
5. Why couldn’t Charles help thinking of all those painstaking
drawings of his aunt?
6. What troubled Aunt Muriel most when drawing? How did she
cope with the difficulties?
7. What did Charles feel chopping down the sapling?
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8. Why did Charles think he ought to buy his aunt a present?
9. How did Aunt Muriel make the goldfish keep still? Do you approve
of her step?
10. What happened to Teddy? Could the main character foresee the
dog’s fate?
11. What did Charles finally come to realize and what way out of the
whole mess did he find?
1. Charles had no choice other than accepting Aunt Muriel’s
2. Aunt Muriel really needed somebody to keep her company.
3. Drawing had become an obsession with Aunt Muriel.
4. Charles was fully justified in suspecting that Aunt Muriel had
designs on his life.
5. Charles worked hard towards his upkeep.
I. What do you believe was actually behind Aunt Muriel’s invitation
to Charles to come and live at her place?
2. Imagine what happened when Aunt Muriel woke up in the morning
to discover that Charles was gone.
3. All creative people are obsessed to some degree.
4. The difference between a hobby and an obsession.
1. Beggers cannot be choosers.
Нищим выбирать не приходится.
Бедному да вору всякая одежда впору.
2. Appetite comes with eating.
Аппетит пpиходит во время еды.
3. Any port in a storm.
В беде любой выход хорош.
4. Discretion is the better part of valour.
Береженого бог бережет.
5. Iron hand in a velvet glove.
Мягко стелет, да жестко спать.
by Fiona Goble
He saw her from behind and recognized her immediately. He walked
faster until he was just ahead of her, then turned round, wondering whether
to smile. It didn’t seem like fifteen years. She didn’t see him at first. She
was looking in a shop window. He touched the sleeve of her jacket.
«Hello, Amanda,»he said gently. He knew he hadn’t made a mistake.
Not this time. For years he kept thinking he’d seen her – at bus stops, in
pubs, at parties.
«Peter!» As she said his name, her heart quickened. She remembered
their first summer together. They’d lain together by the river at Cliveden.
They were both 18 and he’d rested his head on her stomach, twisting
grass in his fingers, and told her that he couldn’t live without her.
«I’m surprised you recognize me,» he said, burying his hands in the
pockets of his coat.
«Really?» She smiled. In fact she’d been thinking about him a lot
recently. «You haven’t moved back – here, have you?» Surely not, she
thought. She knew he loathed the place. Even at 18, he couldn’t wait to
leave and travel the world.
«Good heavens no,» he said. «I’m still in London.»
She looked at him. He looked the same. He hadn’t begun to go bald
like so many of the men she knew, but his shoulders were broader and his
face slightly rounder.
«I came back for the funeral,» he continued. «My father’s.» «A heart
attack. It happened very suddenly.»
«I’m sorry.» she said, though she wasn’t really. She remembered him
telling her about how his father used to beat him regularly until he was
16 and grew too tall.
«Thank you,» he said to her, though he felt nothing for his dead
father, just relief for his mother. She’d be happier without him. She’d
been trying to pluck up courage to leave him for years.
«And I take it that you’re not living back here either?»
«I’m in London, too,» she said. She pushed her hair behind her ears
in a gesture that he hadn’t forgotten.
«Just back for my sister’s wedding tomorrow.»
«That’s nice,» he said, though his only memory of Amanda’s sister
was as a rather plump, boring 12-year-old.
«Yes,» she agreed, feeling that her baby sister’s wedding only served
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to spotlight her own series of failed relationships.
«And your parents?» he asked. «They’re well?»
«Fine.» She remembered how he’d always envied her middle-class
parents, who ate foreign food and took exotic holidays.
«Are you rushing off somewhere?» he asked.
«No, I’m just killing time, really.»
«Then I suggest we kill it together. Let’s grab a coffee.»
They walked towards Gaby’s, a small cafe just off the high street.
They had spent hours there when they had first met, laughing and holding
hands under the table, and discussing their plans for the future over cups
of coffee. They sat opposite each other. He ordered the coffee.
«And so, Peter, did you become a foreign correspondent?» she
asked, remembering the places they dreamed of visiting together – India,
Morocco, and Australia.
«Not exactly,» he said. «I’m a lawyer, believe it or not.» She looked
at his clothes, and she could believe it. They were a far cry from the
second-hand shirts and jeans he’d worn as a student.
«You enjoy it?» she asked.
«Yes.» he lied. «And you? Are you a world famous artist?» He’d
always loved her pictures. He remembered the portrait of herself which
she’d painted for him for his twentieth birthday. He still had it.
«Well, ... no.» She tried to laugh. She wondered if he still had her
self-portrait. She’d stopped painting years ago. He looked at her hair,
cascading in dark unruly waves over her shoulders. He could see a few
white hairs now, but she was still very beautiful.
«So,» he said. «What are you up to?»
«Nothing much,» she said. «I’ve tried a few things.» She didn’t want
to tell him about the succession of temporary jobs that she’d hoped might
lead to something more permanent but never had.
«So you’re not painting at all?»
«Only doors and walls,» she joked, and he laughed politely. She
remembered the evenings they’d spent in the small bedsit that they rented
together in their last term at college. He’d sit for hours just watching her
paint. She filled sketch book after sketch book.
«So where are you in London?» she asked. «North,» he said. It was a three-bedroom flat in Hampstead. Nice in
an empty kind of way. He thought about all the evenings he wished he
had someone to come home to.
«And you?» he asked, after a pause.
«South. It’s okay, I rent a room.» She thought of the small room with
the damp walls which she rented in an unfashionable part of Clapham.
«But I’m thinking of buying somewhere. It’s one of the reasons I came
home. I want to sort things out a bit,» she sighed, thinking about the
letters from him that she’d found in her old bedroom. She’d been reading
them only yesterday.
«Oh, Peter, I don’t know why I left that day,» she said at last. He
looked up at her.
«It’s all right,» he said, remembering the evening she hadn’t come
back to the bedsit.
«We were young. Young people do things like that all the time,» he
added, knowing that this wasn’t true, knowing that he hadn’t deserved
such treatment. He thought of all the letters he’d sent to her parents»
home. He’d written every day at first, begging her to return or at least to
ring him. He’d known even then that he would never meet anyone like
her again.
«I suppose you’re right.» She swallowed hard, trying to hide her
disappointment and hurt that he seemed to have no regrets.
«Well, I ought to be going,» she said.
«Already? I thought you had time to kill.»
«I did,» she said, blinking to hold back the tears. «But I ought to get
back now to help my mother with the wedding.»
«I understand,» he said, though he didn’t. Surely her parents would
«Shall I give you my phone number? Perhaps we could meet up?»
«Perhaps,» she said.
He wrote his telephone number on the back of the bill and she tucked
it into the zipped compartment of her handbag.
«Thanks. Goodbye, Peter.»
«Goodbye, Amanda.»
Years later, every so often, she still checked that compartment to
make sure his number was there.
1. Who are the main characters of the text?
2. How did they meet?
3. What relations did they have in the past?
4. Why did Peter return to his native town?
5. Why wasn’t Amanda sorry for Peter’s father?
6. Did Peter regret his father’s death?
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7. What brought the girl to the place where she was born?
8. What did Amanda feel telling her former boy-friend about her
sister’s wedding?
9. Why did the characters go namely to Gaby’s?
10. What did Peter dream about in his childhood? Did his dreams
come true?
11. Did Amanda become a famous artist? What did she do?
12. What were their living conditions in London like?
13. Why did they part?
14. Why didn’t Amanda call Peter but kept his phone number?
15. Do you feel sorry for Peter and Amanda or angry with them?
16. What is tragic about them?
1. Васильева, Л. Краткость – душа остроумия [Текст] :
английские пословицы, поговорки, крылатые выражения / Л.
Васильева. – М. : Центрполиграф, 2006. – 350с.
2. Рассказы современных английских и американских
писателей [Текст] : учебное пособие. – М.: МГЛУ, 1997.
3. Maugham,W. S. Selected Prose [Текст] / W. S. Maugham.
– М.: Менеджер, 2002. –156 с.
1. She’d been trying to pluck up courage to leave him for years.
2. ...her baby sister’s wedding only served to spotlight her own series
of failed relationships.
3. I’m just killing time, really.
4. I want to sort things out a bit.
1. Peter and Amanda used to be in love.
2. Love is a difficult thing.
3. People are usually broken- hearted when they have to part.
4. It’s not an easy matter to speak about one’s feelings.
1. Out of sight, out of mind.
С глаз долой, из сердца вон.
2. To err is human. Человеку свойственно ошибаться.
3. At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; at 40 the
judgement. В 20 лет царит желание; в 30 – разум; в 40 – рассудительность.
Copyright ОАО «ЦКБ «БИБКОМ» & ООО «Aгентство Kнига-Cервис»
Учебное издание
Компьютерная верстка
Л. В. Малышевой
Дизайн обложки
Е. В. Ворониной
Учебно-методическое пособие
для студентов младших курсов
языкового факультета педагогического вуза
Людмила Назаровна Пустосмехова
Подписано в печать 23.03.2010.
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