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Конкурс переводов - Тур 63 (апрель 2007 г.)
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Agnes Flack, meanwhile, though basking in the rays of Captain Jack Fosdyke, had by no means forgotten Sidney McMurdo. In the days that followed their painful interview, in the intervals of brushing up her fifty yards from the pin game in preparation for the Women's Singles contest which was shortly to take place, she found her thoughts dwelling on him quite a good deal. A girl who has loved, even if mistakenly, can never be indifferent to the fortunes of the man whom she once regarded as the lode star of her life. She kept wondering how he was making out, and hoped that his vacation was not being spoiled by a broken heart.

The first time she saw him, accordingly, she should have been relieved and pleased. He was escorting Cora McGuffy Spottsworth along the boardwalk, and it was abundantly obvious even from a casual glance that if his heart had ever been broken, there had been some adroit work done in the repair shop. Clark Gable could have improved his technique by watching the way he bent over Cora McGuffy Spottsworth and stroked her slender arm. He also, while bending and stroking, whispered into her shell-like ear, and you could see that what he was saying was good stuff. His whole attitude was that of a man who, recognizing that he was on a good thing, was determined to push it along.

But Agnes Flack was not relieved and pleased; she was disturbed and concerned. She was perhaps a hard judge, but Cora McGuffy Spottsworth looked to her like the sort of woman who goes about stealing the plans of forts-or, at the best, leaning back negligently on a settee and saying "Prince, my fan". The impression Agnes formed was of something that might be all right stepping out of a pie at a bachelor party, but not the type you could take home to meet mother.

Her first move, therefore, on encountering Sidney at the golf club one morning, was to institute a probe.

"Who," she demanded, not beating about the bush, "was that lady I saw you walking down the street with?"

Her tone, in which he seemed to detect the note of criticism, offended Sidney.

"That," he replied with a touch of hauteur, "was no lady, that was my fiancee."

Agnes reeled. She had noticed that he was wearing a new tie and that his hair had been treated with Sticko, the pomade that satisfies, but she had not dreamed that matters had proceeded as far as this.

"You are engaged?"

"And how!"

"Oh, Sidney!"

He stiffened.

"That will be all of that 'Oh, Sidney!' stuff," he retorted with spirit. "I don't see what you have to beef about. You were offered the opportunity of a merger, and when you failed to take up your option I was free, I presume, to open negotiations elsewhere. As might have been foreseen, I was snapped up the moment it got about that I was in the market."

Agnes Flack bridled.

"I'm not jealous."

"Then what's your kick?"

"It's just that I want to see you happy."

"I am."

"How can you be happy with a woman who looks like a snake with hips?"

"She was every right to look like a snake with hips. In a former incarnation she used to be Cleopatra. I," said Sidney McMurdo, straightening his tie, "was Antony."

"Who told you that?"

"She did. She has all the facts."

"She must be crazy."

"Not at all. I admit that for a while at our first meeting some such thought did cross my mind, but the matter is readily explained. She is a novelist. You may have heard of Cora McGuffy Spottsworth?"

Agnes uttered a cry.

"What? Oh, she can't be."

"She has documents to prove it."

"But Sidney, she's awful. At my school two girls were expelled because they were found with her books under their pillows. Her publisher's slogan is 'Spottsworth for Blushes'. You can't intend to marry a woman who notoriously has to write her love scenes on asbestos."

"Well, what price your intending to marry a prominent international plug-ugly who thinks nothing of shooting people with elephant guns?"

"Only African chiefs."

"African chiefs are also God's creatures."

"Not when under the influence of trade gin, Jack says. He says you have to shoot them with elephant guns then. It means nothing more, he says, than if you drew their attention to some ruling by Emily Post. Besides, he knows Bobby Jones."

"So does Bobby Jones's grocer. Does he play golf himself? That's the point."

"He plays beautifully."

"So does Cora. She expects to win the Women's Singles."

Agnes drew herself up haughtily. She was expecting to win the Women's Singles herself.

"She does, does she?"

"Yes, she does."

"Over my dead body."

"That would be a mashie niblick shot," said Sidney McMurdo thoughtfully. "She's wonderful with her mashie niblick."

With a powerful effort Agnes Flack choked down her choler.

"Well, I hope it will be all right," she said.

"Of course it will be all right. I'm about the luckiest man alive."

"In any case, it's fortunate that we found out our mistake in time."

"I'll say so. A nice thing it would have been, if all this had happened after we were married. We should have had one of those situations authors have to use a row of dots for."

"Yes. Even if we had been married, I should have flown to Jack."

"And I should have flown to Cora."

"He once killed a lion with a sardine opener."

"Cora once danced with the Duke of Windsor," said Sidney McMurdo, and with a proud tilt of the chin, went off to give his betrothed lunch.


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