Гилберт Честертон.

Английский с улыбкой. Охотничьи рассказы / Tales of the Long Bow



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© Пирогов М. С., адаптация текста, комментарии, словарь, 2016

© ООО «Издательство АСТ», 2016

Chapter I. The unpresentable appearance of colonel crane

These stories tell about things recognized as impossible to do. If the writer just said that they happened, without saying how they happened, nobody would believe him, just like no one believes the story about the cow who jumped over the moon.


The first story begins on a straight road of bright houses in a suburb of a big city. The time was about twenty minutes to eleven on Sunday morning, when a procession of suburban families in Sunday clothes were going up the road to church. And the man was a very respectable retired military man named Colonel Crane, who was also going to church, as he had done every Sunday at the same hour for many years. He was dressed very elegantly for church as if for parade; but his clothes did not stand out in any way. He was quite handsome in a dry, sun-baked style; but his blond hair was of a colourless sort, and though his blue eyes were clear, they looked out a little heavily under lowered eyelids.

Colonel Crane belonged to the previous age in the history of England. He was not really old, indeed he was hardly middle-aged, and had received his last medals for the Great War[1]1
  Great War – «Великая война», речь идёт о Первой мировой войне (1914–1918).


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. But for a number of reasons he still belonged to the traditional type of the old professional soldiers, the way it had existed before 1914. Each church in those times had only one colonel as it had only one priest. It would be quite unjust to call him an old ruin; indeed, it would be much better to call him a bastion. Because he had remained in the traditions as firmly and patiently as he had stood under enemy fire. He was simply a man who had no taste for changing his habits, and had never worried about conventions enough to change them. One of his excellent habits was to go to church at eleven o’clock, so he went there every Sunday. And he did not know that there went with him something from an old-world atmosphere and a paragraph in the history of England.

When he came out of his front door on that particular morning, he was twisting a piece of paper in his fingers and frowning. Instead of walking straight to his garden gate he walked once or twice up and down his front garden, swinging his black walking-stick. The note had been given to him at breakfast, and it clearly described some practical problem which he needed to solve immediately. He stood for a few minutes looking at a red flower on of the nearest flower-bed; and then a new expression came to his bronzed face.

Folding up the paper and putting it into his pocket, he walked round the house to the back garden. Behind the back garden there was a kitchen-garden, in which an old servant named Archer was working as a gardener.

Archer was also a bastion

...

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