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Конкурс переводов - Тур 120 (август 2013 г.)
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Maud had left Reggie by the time Alice Faraday reached him, and that ardent youth was sitting on a stone seat, smoking a cigarette and entertaining himself with meditations in which thoughts of Alice competed for precedence with graver reflections connected with the subject of the correct stance for his approach-shots. Reggie's was a troubled spirit these days. He was in love, and he had developed a bad slice with his mid-iron. He was practically a soul in torment.

"Lady Caroline asked me to tell you that she wishes to speak to you, Mr. Byng."

Reggie leaped from his seat.

"Hullo-ullo-ullo! There you are! I mean to say, what?"

He was conscious, as was his custom in her presence, of a warm, prickly sensation in the small of the back. Some kind of elephantiasis seemed to have attacked his hands and feet, swelling them to enormous proportions. He wished profoundly that he could get rid of his habit of yelping with nervous laughter whenever he encountered the girl of his dreams. It was calculated to give her a wrong impression of a chap--make her think him a fearful chump and what not!

"Lady Caroline is leaving by the twelve-fifteen."

"That's good! What I mean to say is--oh, she is, is she? I see what you mean." The absolute necessity of saying something at least moderately coherent gripped him. He rallied his forces. "You wouldn't care to come for a stroll, after I've seen the mater, or a row on the lake, or any rot like that, would you?"

"Thank you very much, but I must go in and help Lord Marshmoreton with his book."

"What a rotten--I mean, what a dam' shame!"

The pity of it tore at Reggie's heart strings. He burned with generous wrath against Lord Marshmoreton, that modern Simon Legree, who used his capitalistic power to make a slave of this girl and keep her toiling indoors when all the world was sunshine.

"Shall I go and ask him if you can't put it off till after dinner?"

"Oh, no, thanks very much. I'm sure Lord Marshmoreton wouldn't dream of it."

She passed on with a pleasant smile. When he had recovered from the effect of this Reggie proceeded slowly to the upper level to meet his step-mother.

"Hullo, mater. Pretty fit and so forth? What did you want to see me about?"

"Well, Reggie, what is the news?"

"Eh? What? News? Didn't you get hold of a paper at breakfast? Nothing much in it. Tam Duggan beat Alec Fraser three up and two to play at Prestwick. I didn't notice anything else much. There's a new musical comedy at the Regal. Opened last night, and seems to be just like mother makes. The Morning Post gave it a topping notice. I must trickle up to town and see it some time this week."

Lady Caroline frowned. This slowness in the uptake, coming so soon after her brother's inattention, displeased her.

"No, no, no. I mean you and Maud have been talking to each other for quite a long time, and she seemed very interested in what you were saying. I hoped you might have some good news for me."

Reggie's face brightened. He caught her drift.

"Oh, ah, yes, I see what you mean. No, there wasn't anything of that sort or shape or order."

"What were you saying to her, then, that interested her so much?"

"I was explaining how I landed dead on the pin with my spoon out of a sand-trap at the eleventh hole yesterday. It certainly was a pretty ripe shot, considering. I'd sliced into this baby bunker, don't you know; I simply can't keep 'em straight with the iron nowadays--and there the pill was, grinning up at me from the sand. Of course, strictly speaking, I ought to have used a niblick, but--

"Do you mean to say, Reggie, that, with such an excellent opportunity, you did not ask Maud to marry you?"

"I see what you mean. Well, as a matter of absolute fact, I, as it were, didn't."

Lady Caroline uttered a wordless sound.

"By the way, mater," said Reggie, "I forgot to tell you about that. It's all off."

"What!"

"Absolutely. You see, it appears there's a chappie unknown for whom Maud has an absolute pash. It seems she met this sportsman up in Wales last summer. She was caught in the rain, and he happened to be passing and rallied round with his rain-coat, and one thing led to another. Always raining in Wales, what! Good fishing, though, here and there. Well, what I mean is, this cove was so deucedly civil, and all that, that now she won't look at anybody else. He's the blue-eyed boy, and everybody else is an also-ran, with about as much chance as a blind man with one arm trying to get out of a bunker with a tooth-pick."

"What perfect nonsense! I know all about that affair. It was just a passing fancy that never meant anything. Maud has got over that long ago."

"She didn't seem to think so."

"Now, Reggie," said Lady Caroline tensely, "please listen to me. You know that the castle will be full of people in a day or two for Percy's coming-of-age, and this next few days may be your last chance of having a real, long, private talk with Maud. I shall be seriously annoyed if you neglect this opportunity. There is no excuse for the way you are behaving. Maud is a charming girl--"

"Oh, absolutely! One of the best."

"Very well, then!"

"But, mater, what I mean to say is--"

"I don't want any more temporizing, Reggie!"

"No, no! Absolutely not!" said Reggie dutifully, wishing he knew what the word meant, and wishing also that life had not become so frightfully complex.

"Now, this afternoon, why should you not take Maud for a long ride in your car?"

Reggie grew more cheerful. At least he had an answer for that.

"Can't be done, I'm afraid. I've got to motor into town to meet Percy. He's arriving from Oxford this morning. I promised to meet him in town and tool him back in the car."

"I see. Well, then, why couldn't you--?"

"I say, mater, dear old soul," said Reggie hastily, "I think you'd better tear yourself away and what not. If you're catching the twelve-fifteen, you ought to be staggering round to see you haven't forgotten anything. There's the car coming round now."

"I wish now I had decided to go by a later train."

"No, no, mustn't miss the twelve-fifteen. Good, fruity train. Everybody speaks well of it. Well, see you anon, mater. I think you'd better run like a hare."

"You will remember what I said?"

"Oh, absolutely!"

"Good-bye, then. I shall be back tomorrow."

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