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Конкурс переводов - Тур 50 (октябрь 2005 г.)
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Отрывок

Mr Galloway was a good trencherman. At a very early date he had realized that a man who wishes to make satisfactory braces must keep his strength up. He wanted a good deal here below, and he wanted it warm and well cooked. It was, therefore, not immediately that his dinner with Rollo became a feast of reason and a flow of soul. Indeed, the two revellers had lighted their cigars before the elder gave forth any remark that was not purely gastronomic.

When he did jerk the conversation up on to a higher plane, he jerked it hard. He sent it shooting into the realms of the soulful with a whiz.

'Rollo,' he said, blowing a smoke-ring, 'do you believe in affinities?'

Rollo, in the act of sipping a liqueur brandy, lowered his glass in surprise. His head was singing slightly as the result of some rather spirited Bollinger (extra sec), and he wondered if he had heard aright.

Mr Galloway continued, his voice rising as he spoke.

'My boy,' he said, 'I feel young tonight for the first time in years. And, hang it, I'm not so old! Men have married at twice my age.'

Strictly speaking, this was incorrect, unless one counted Methuselah; but perhaps Mr Galloway spoke figuratively.

'Three times my age,' he proceeded, leaning back and blowing smoke, thereby missing his nephew's agitated start. 'Four times my age. Five times my age. Six--'

He pulled himself together in some confusion. A generous wine, that Bollinger. He must be careful.

He coughed.

'Are you--you aren't--are you--' Rollo paused. 'Are you thinking of getting married, uncle?'

Mr Galloway's gaze was still on the ceiling.

'A great deal of nonsense,' he yelled severely, 'is talked about men lowering themselves by marrying actresses. I was a guest at a supper-party last night at which an actress was present. And a more charming, sensible girl I never wish to meet. Not one of your silly, brainless chits who don't know the difference between lobster Newburg and canvas-back duck, and who prefer sweet champagne to dry. No, sir! Not one of your mincing, affected kind who pretend they never touch anything except a spoonful of cold consomme. No, sir! Good, healthy appetite. Enjoyed her food, and knew why she was enjoying it. I give you my word, my boy, until I met her I didn't know a woman existed who could talk so damned sensibly about a bavaroise au rhum.'

He suspended his striking tribute in order to relight his cigar.

'She can use a chafing-dish,' he resumed, his voice vibrating with emotion. 'She told me so. She said she could fix chicken so that a man would leave home for it.' He paused, momentarily overcome. 'And Welsh rarebits,' he added reverently.

He puffed hard at his cigar.

'Yes,' he said. 'Welsh rarebits, too. And because,' he shouted wrathfully, 'because, forsooth, she earns an honest living by singing in the chorus of a comic opera, a whole bunch of snivelling idiots will say I have made a fool of myself. Let them!' he bellowed, sitting up and glaring at Rollo. 'I say, let them! I'll show them that Andrew Galloway is not the man to--to--is not the man--' He stopped. 'Well, anyway, I'll show them,' he concluded rather lamely.

Rollo eyed him with fallen jaw. His liqueur had turned to wormwood. He had been fearing this for years. You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she will return. Blood will tell. Once a Pittsburgh millionaire, always a Pittsburgh millionaire. For eleven years his uncle had fought against his natural propensities, with apparent success; but Nature had won in the end. His words could have no other meaning. Andrew Galloway was going to marry a chorus-girl.

Mr Galloway rapped on the table, and ordered another kummel.

'Marguerite Parker!' he roared dreamily, rolling the words round his tongue, like port.

'Marguerite Parker!' exclaimed Rollo, bounding in his chair.

His uncle met his eye sternly.

'That was the name I said. You seem to know it. Perhaps you have something to say against the lady. Eh? Have you? Have you? I warn you to be careful. What do you know of Miss Parker? Speak!'

'Er--no, no. Oh, no! I just know the name, that's all. I--I rather think I met her once at lunch. Or it may have been somebody else. I know it was someone.'

He plunged at his glass. His uncle's gaze relaxed its austerity.

'I hope you will meet her many more times at lunch, my boy. I hope you will come to look upon her as a second mother.'

This was where Rollo asked if he might have a little more brandy.

When the restorative came he drank it at a gulp; then looked across at his uncle. The great man still mused.

'Er--when is it to be?' asked Rollo. 'The wedding, and all that?'

'Hardly before the Fall, I think. No, not before the Fall. I shall be busy till then. I have taken no steps in the matter yet.'

'No steps? You mean--? Haven't you--haven't you proposed?'

'I have had no time. Be reasonable, my boy; be reasonable.'

'Oh!' said Rollo.

He breathed a long breath. A suspicion of silver lining had become visible through the clouds.

'I doubt,' said Mr Galloway, meditatively, 'if I shall be able to find time till the end of the week. I am very busy. Let me see. Tomorrow? No. Meeting of the shareholders. Thursday? Friday? No. No, it will have to stand over till Saturday. After Saturday's matinee. That will do excellently.'

Участники

  • coy_echidna
  • Ringo
  • Антон Моргунов
  • Errora
  • orange protagonist
  • VikK
  • Stranger
  • bananafish
  • Ольга
  • Bollinger
  • Анна К. ( aka sugar)
  • Олик Су
  • Phoenix
  • Krot
  • Алексей Маркин
  • Feliz
  • fett
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  • Ёжик

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