Τρίτη, 23 Μαΐου 2017

"If" by Rudyard Kipling ("Αν", Κίπλινγκ)

If

 Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

"Αν",  Κίπλινγκ 
μετάφραση: Κώστας Βάρναλης
Αν να κρατάς καλά μπορείς
το λογικό σου, όταν τριγύρω σου όλοι
τάχουν χαμένα και σ’ εσέ
της ταραχής των ρίχνουν την αιτία.
Αν να εμπιστεύεσαι μπορείς
τον ίδιο τον εαυτό σου, όταν ο κόσμος
δεν σε πιστεύει κι αν μπορείς
να του σχωρνάς αυτή τη δυσπιστία.
Να περιμένεις αν μπορείς
δίχως να χάνεις την υπομονή σου.
Κι αν άλλοι σε συκοφαντούν,
να μην καταδεχθείς ποτέ το ψέμα,
κι αν σε μισούν, εσύ ποτέ
σε μίσος ταπεινό να μην ξεπέσεις,
μα να μην κάνεις τον καλό
ή τον πολύ σοφό στα λόγια.
Αν να ονειρεύεσαι μπορείς,
και να μην είσαι δούλος των ονείρων
αν να στοχάζεσαι μπορείς,
δίχως να γίνει ο στοχασμός σκοπός σου,
αν ν’ αντικρίζεις σου βαστά
το θρίαμβο και τη συμφορά παρόμοια
κι όμοια να φέρνεσαι σ’ αυτούς
τους δυο τυραννικούς απατεώνες,
αν σου βαστά η ψυχή ν’ ακούς
όποιαν αλήθεια εσύ είχες ειπωμένη,
παραλλαγμένη απ’ τους κακούς,
για νάναι για τους άμυαλους παγίδα,
ή συντριμμένα να θωρείς
όσα σου έχουν ρουφήξει τη ζωή σου
και πάλι να ξαναρχινάς
να χτίζεις μ’ εργαλεία πούναι φθαρμένα.
Αν όσα απόχτησες μπορείς
σ’ ένα σωρό μαζί να τα μαζέψεις
και δίχως φόβο, μονομιάς
κορόνα ή γράμματα όλα να τα παίξεις
και να τα χάσεις και απ’ αρχής,
ατράνταχτος να ξεκινήσεις πάλι
και να μη βγάλεις και μιλιά
ποτέ γι’ αυτόν τον ξαφνικό χαμό σου.
Αν νεύρα και καρδιά μπορείς
και σπλάχνα και μυαλό και όλα να τα
σφίξεις
να σε δουλέψουν ξαναρχής,
κι ας είναι από πολύ καιρό σωσμένα
και να κρατιέσαι πάντα ορθός,
όταν δε σούχει τίποτε απομείνει
παρά μονάχα η θέληση,
κράζοντας σ’ όλα αυτά: «ΒΑΣΤΑΤΕ».
Αν με τα πλήθη να μιλάς
μπορείς και να κρατάς την αρετή σου,
με βασιλιάδες να γυρνάς
δίχως απ’ τους μικρούς να ξεμακρύνεις.
Αν μήτε φίλοι, μήτ’ εχθροί
μπορούνε πια ποτέ να πειράξουν,
όλο τον κόσμο αν αγαπάς,
μα και ποτέ πάρα πολύ κανένα.
Αν του θυμού σου τις στιγμές
που φαίνεται αδυσώπητη η ψυχή σου,
μπορείς ν’ αφήσεις να διαβούν
την πρώτη ξαναβρίσκοντας γαλήνη,
δική σου θάναι τότε η Γη,
μ’ όσα και μ’ ότι απάνω της κι αν έχει
και κάτι ακόμα πιο πολύ:
Άνδρας αληθινός θάσαι παιδί μου.

Και η παρωδία του ποιήματος από τον ίδιο (Κ. Βάρναλη):


Αν ημπορείς την παλαβή να κάνεις, όταν οι άλλοι σου κάνουνε το γνωστικό κι όλοι σε λένε φταίχτη, αν δεν πιστεύεις τίποτα κι άλλοι δε σε πιστεύουν, 
αν σχωρνάς όλα τα δικά σου, τίποτα των άλλων, 
κι αν το κακό που πας να κάνεις, δεν το αναβάλλεις, 
κι αν όσα ψέματα σου λεν με πιότερα απανταίνεις, 
κι αν να μισείς ευφραίνεσαι κι όσους δε σε μισούνε 
κι αν πάντα τον πολύξερο και τον καλόνε κάνεις. 
Αν περπατάς με την κοιλιά κι ονείρατα δεν κάνεις 
κι αν να στοχάζεσαι μπορείς μονάχα το ιντερέσο, 
το νικημένο αν παρατάς και πάντα διπλαρώνεις το νικητή, 
μα και τους δυό ξετσίπωτα προδίνεις, 
αν ο τι γράφεις κι ο τι λες, το ξαναλέν κ’ οι άλλοι γι’ αληθινό- να παγιδεύουν τον κουτό κοσμάκη, 
αν λόγια κ’ έργα σου καπνόν ο δυνατός αέρας τα διαβολοσκορπά και συ ξαναμολάς καινούριον. 
Αν όσα κέρδισες μπορείς να τα πληθαίνεις πάντα και την πατρίδα σου κορώνα γράμματα να παίζεις, κι αν να πλερώνεις την πεντάρα που χρωστάς αρνιέσαι και μόνο να πληρώνεσαι σωστό και δίκιο το ‘ χεις, 
αν η καρδιά, τα νεύρα σου κι ο νους σου εν αμαρτίαις γεράσανε κι όμως εσύ τα στύβεις ν’ αποδίδουν, αν στέκεις πάντα δίβουλος και πάντα σου σκυμμένος 
κι αν όταν φωνάζουν οι άλλοι «εμπρός»! εσύ φωνάζεις «πίσω»! 
Αν στην πλεμπάγια να μιλάει αρνιέται η αρετή σου κι όταν ζυγώνεις δυνατούς, στα δυό λυγάς τη μέση 
κι αν μήτε φίλους μήτε εχθρούς ποτέ σου λογαριάζεις και κάνεις πως τους αγαπάς, αλλά ποτέ κανέναν, 
αν δεν αφήνεις ευκαιρία κάπου να κακοβάνεις και μόνο, 
αν κάνεις το κακό, η ψυχή σου γαληνεύει, 
δικιά σου θά ναι τούτ’ η Γης μ’ όλα τα κάλλη πού χει 
κ’ έξοχος θά σαι Κύριος, 
αλλ’ Άνθρωπος δε θά σαι.



Πέμπτη, 13 Απριλίου 2017

Τα κόκκινα παπούτσια, Κική Δημουλά


Έχουμε πάνω από μία ώρα που δοκιμάζουμε παπούτσια. Άσπρα. Αστραφτερά, χαρωπά, ανθισμένα παπούτσια. Πασχαλιάτικα. Παιδικά. Τέσσερα πόδια γεύονται κατά κόρον το «καινούργιο» και το «αλλιώτικο», δοκιμάζοντας και απορρίπτοντας ό,τι δεν τους αρέσει, με το αιτιολογικό, αυτό με στενεύει… αυτό μου είναι μεγάλο… αυτό μου είναι μεγάλο και με στενεύει. Εγώ και ο υπάλληλος έχουμε κυριολεκτικά γονατίσει μπροστά σ΄ αυτά τα πόδια, προσπαθώντας να εντοπίσουμε πού κείται το μεγάλο δάχτυλο, πού κείται το ψεύδος.
Κι άξαφνα, μέσα από ένα κουτί, κάνει τη μοιραία εμφάνιση ένα ζευγάρι κόκκινα κοριτσίστικα παπαρουνένια παπούτσια, μ΄ ένα κόκκινο παιγνιδιάρικο κουμπάκι στο πλάι, αυτό που πιο πολύ έκαμε την καρδιά μου να σπαρταρήσει, να μικρύνει, να γίνει καρδιά παιδική, να ξανααισθανθεί. Ιπποτικά αμέσως φέρεται ο καιρός, παραμερίζει, για να 'ρθει μπροστά μία σκονισμένη ιστορία, παλιά, πάλι με παπούτσια, με τα πρώτα παπούτσια που μ΄ έκαμαν να κλάψω.
Πάσχα και πάντως μια εποχή που όλα ονομάζονταν «δύσκολα». Τα πράγματα δύσκολα, οι μέρες δύσκολες, η ζωή δύσκολη. Και τότε ακριβώς ήταν που αξίωσα ένα ζευγάρι κόκκινα παπούτσια.
— Θα την πάω στο Μοναστηράκι, στον πατριώτη μου το μαστρο-Κούλη… Θα μας φτιάξει κάτι που να “ναι γερό και συφερτικό, ενέδωσε με τα πολλά ο πατέρας.
Θα κόντευε Μεγάλη Βδομάδα που με πήρε ένα απομεσήμερο να πάμε στο μαστρο-Κούλη. Οι νοικοκυρές ανέμιζαν στα παράθυρα, έπλεναν τζάμια. Καθώς τα τριβαν με κομμάτια εφημερίδας, εκείνα έτριζαν, κι άστραφταν σα στα παράθυρα να κρέμονταν κλουβιά με τιτιβίζοντα χελιδόνια, και ήλιοι.
Απερίγραπτο ήταν το πόσο σφιχτά με κρατούσε από το χέρι ο πατέρας μου στις λιγοστές εξόδους μας, στους λιγοστούς περιπάτους μας. Σα να του “χα ξεφύγει και να τρεχε χρόνια να με πιάσει. Και σα να με είχε πιάσει μόλις εκείνη τη στιγμή. Όμως, αυτή τη φορά, ήταν τόσο ευχάριστο αυτό το σφίξιμο. Σαν το εύθυμο εκείνο σφίξιμο που σου κάνουν τα καινούργια παπούτσια την πρώτη μέρα.
Αν με ρωτούσε κανείς πώς πήγαμε στο μαγαζί του μαστρο-Κούλη, από πού περάσαμε, εγώ θα του λεγα, περάσαμε… περάσαμε… από κάτι κόκκινα παπούτσια, ύστερα πήραμε ένα μακρύ δρόμο κόκκινα παπούτσια, στρίψαμε μετά από κάτι άλλα κόκκινα παπούτσια, και φτάσαμε! Μα σα βρέθηκα στο μαγαζί του μαστρο-Κούλη ξέβαψε όλο το κόκκινο χρώμα κι όλη η χαρά από το όραμά μου. Από την πόρτα με πήρε μια χοντρή βαριά μυρουδιά πετσιού και προβιάς, έπεσε μέσα της η αναπνοή μου και πνίγηκε. Χάμω, σκουπίδια, σπάγγοι, καρφάκια, ένας λόφος με λογιώ λογιώ κατσούφικα κοψίδια δέρματα. Μια χοντρή βελόνα, σα μεγάλο καρφί, ανεβοκατέβαινε βαριεστημένη και στριγγλή και γάζωνε ένα εφιαλτικό παπούτσι.
Σα δήμιος εμφανίστηκε ο μαστρο-Κούλης, αναμερίζοντας μιαν αυλαία από κρεμάθες χοντροπάπουτσα, αντρικά τα πιο πολλά, τα κορδόνια τους τρεμούλιασαν σα νευρικά μουστάκια, και κάτω από τη χοντρή λαστιχένια τους σόλα σπαρτάραγε το κακόμοιρο το όνειρο μου. Κι αφού είπανε, χρόνια και ζαμάνια, ψυχρά κι ανάποδα, και αφού τώωωρα η Αργυρούλα, μπήκε στο θέμα πια ό πατέρας μου:
— Και τώρα, μαστρο-Κούλη, ας πάμε στο προκείμενο!
Με τούτο το «προκείμενο» πήρα να ελπίζω. Φαντάστηκα πώς το «προκείμενο» μπορεί να “ταν ένας άλλος δρόμος, ένα άλλο μαγαζί, το «καλό» μαγαζί του μαστρο-Κούλη.
— Από δω η κόρη, συνέχισε ο πατέρας μου, ό,τι θυμάται χαίρεται! Της θυμήθηκαν κόκκινα παπούτσια. Έχεις να μας δώσεις τίποτα κατάλληλο;
Και πριν προφτάσω ν” ακούσω την απάντηση, η πατούσα μου βρέθηκε καθηλωμένη πάνω σ” ένα βρομόχαρτο, κι από πάνω της ολόκληρος ο μαστρο-Κούλης, όλα τα χοντροπάπουτσα, να τη ζουλάνε μη και ξεφύγει. Πιο απειλητικό, το βάρος της λέξης «μπόλικα! μπόλικα», που σφυροκοπούσε ο πατέρας μου. Ένα κουτσομόλυβο σύρθηκε σαν κατσαρίδα γύρω γύρω της ενώ ο πατριώτης έλεγε:
 θα γίνουν αθάνατα!
Ανησύχησα.
— Δε θέλω αθάνατα, κόκκινα θέλω, ψέλλισα.
 Θέλε! αγρίεψε ό μαστρο-Κούλης, κάτι συνεννοήθηκε ιδιαιτέρως με τον πατέρα μου, και φύγαμε.
Ίσως σου κακοφανεί, μαστρο-Κούλη, αν τύχει και διαβάσεις αυτή την ιστορία, αλλά κι εγώ τι σου χρώσταγα να περάσω μια τόσο μαύρη Λαμπρή; Τι παπούτσια ήταν εκείνα που μου φτιαξες; Κόκκινα δε σου είπα πως θέλω; Γιατί σώνει και καλά μουσταρδιά; Και γιατί τόσο χοντρό λάστιχο, βρε μαστρο-Κούλη; Τάνκς ήμουνα; Κι όλα αυτά καλά. Αμ εκείνο το κόκκινο κουμπί, στο Θεό σου, τι το ήθελες και το έμπηξες; Από πού ως πού κόκκινο κουμπί; Α, προτιμούσα να με γελάσεις παρά να με ξεγελάσεις. Έσκασα στο κλάμα.
 Βρε αχάριστο, φώναζε η μάνα μου, κι αν δεν είναι κόκκινο, είναι προς το κόκκινο… Τι παραπάνω θες; Δεν έχει κόκκινα κουμπιά; Άρα κόκκινα είναι.
Αναγκάστηκα να πειστώ. Και τι το περίεργο; Μήπως τώρα που λέμε «αναπνέουμε, άρα ελπίζουμε», το ίδιο δεν είναι; Κι ανήμερα το Πάσχα, στη λειτουργία της Αγάπης, με κρατάει πάλι ο πατέρας μου από το χέρι, κατηφορίζουμε για την εκκλησία. Εγώ με τα κόκκινα κουμπιά μου, αυτός με την κατάνυξη του, Χριστός Ανέστη σιγοψέλνει. Μπορώ να θυμηθώ και το παραμικρό της σκηνής εκείνης, ακόμα και τις στάλες από τα κεριά της Αναστάσεως στα πεζοδρόμια και στα μαρμάρινα σκαλιά, την αυστηρή παλάμη του πατέρα μου που με ζούλαγε ολόκληρη μέσα της, το πρόσεχε μην πέσεις, το δεν καταλαβαίνω γιατί εννοείς να ξεκινάς πάντα με το αριστερό, διόρθωσε το βήμα σου, άλλαξε το βήμα σου. Τα θυμάμαι όλα, και τους μικρούς μου πήδους κάθε τόσο για να βγει το δεξί μπροστά και να πάει το αριστερό πίσω, όλα, ακόμα και το πόσο μου μύρισαν οι πασχαλιές που αγόραζε μια γυναίκα σκυμμένη στο παράθυρο από έναν πλανόδιο ανθοπώλη.
— Άλλαξε το βήμα σου, ξανάπε ο πατέρας μου.
Κι εκείνη τη φορά έγινε το κακό. Πάνω στο πήδημα μπερδεύτηχαν τα πόδια μου, κι είδα το ένα κουμπί να διαγράφει μια κόκκινη τροχιά και να εξαφανίζεται. Τι κλάμα και τι ψάξιμο ήταν εκείνο; Δάκτυλος του Σατανά, δάκτυλος του Σατανά! έτριζε τα δόντια του ο πατέρας μου, καθώς έψαχνε χωρίς αποτέλεσμα, καθώς με άκουγε να κλαίω «ασεβώς». Δεν είμαστε πια για εκκλησία, «χρειάζεται καρδίαν καθαράν», και πήραμε πάλι τον ανήφορο. Μπρος εκείνος, με τα χέρια διπλωμένα πίσω στη μέση, να λέει, με κόλασες! με κόλασες!, πίσω εγώ, σα μονοσάνταλη, να κλαίω, να κλαίω.
Η μάνα μου, άμα άκουσε τι συνέβη, είπε μόνο:
— Τι λες… Κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα.
Μα καθώς με είδε να πετάω τα παπούτσια και να την ακολουθώ ξυπόλυτη και κλαίγοντας, τα έβαλε με τον πατέρα μου:
— Και συ ευλογημένε, πώς στην ευχή έψαξες; Με τα δικά μου τα μάτια; Ολόκληρο κουμπί!
Αλλά εκείνος είχε κιόλας ριχτεί με όλο του το είναι στην κάθαρση. Είχε πάρει μια Σύνοψη κι έψελνε, μουρμουριστά, μασουλιστά, με λοξό κάπως το κεφάλι και το χέρι κοντά στο στόμα, κάπως σα να εξιστορούσε με συντριβή στο αυτί του Κυρίου το πώς τον «κόλασα».
– Θέλω το ολόκληρο κουμπί μου, έλεγα τώρα εγώ μέσα στους οδυρμούς μου.
– Τι λες εκεί… Κάτι τρέχει στα γύφτικα, επανέλαβε η μάνα μου φουρκισμένη.
Και φορώντας μου τα παπούτσια με το ζόρι, με έσπρωξε βίαια στήν ξώπορτα, να πάω να παίξω.Λίγα βήματα πιο πέρα στεκότανε η φιλενάδα μου η Πόπη. Με κοίταζε. Εγώ κόλλησα στον τοίχο, σήκωσα το “να μου πόδι, και το “κρυψα πίσω από το άλλο. Και στεκόμουνα έτσι.
Και τώρα, γονατισμένη ακόμα, λες και προσκυνούσα, αναπολώντας την τούτην την ανάμνηση, προσπαθώ να καταφέρω τη μικρή ν΄ αγοράσει αυτά τα παπούτσια. Τα κόκκινα.
– Σου είπα, θέλω γόβα άσπρη!
– Μα τα κόκκινα είναι πιο πρακτικά.
– Δεν τα θέλω για πρακτικά, τα θέλω για ευχαριστήσιμα.

Και αποφασίζω. Και τα άσπρα και τα κόκκινα. Προηγουμένως τα εξετάζω προσεχτικά, δοκιμάζω να ιδώ, είναι καλά στερεωμένο το κουμπάκι τους, μην την ξαναπάθω; «Αθάνατα», βεβαιώνει ο υπάλληλος. Και φεύγω, έχοντας επιτέλους αποκτήσει ένα πραγματικό κόκκινο ζευγάρι παπούτσια, πασχαλιάτικο δώρο στα περασμένα μου.

Σ΄ αυτό τον κεντρικό δρόμο, που φράζεις τη μύτη και το στόμα σου να μη σε πνίξουν τα καυσαέρια, είναι τρέλα να ισχυριστείς ότι μυρίζουν πασχαλιές. Και όμως, εμένα μου μύρισαν.

Τρίτη, 14 Μαρτίου 2017

3. The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzerald

The Great Gatsby - O Υπέροχος Γκατσμπι είναι μυθιστόρημα γραμμένο το 1925 από τον Αμερικανό συγγραφέα Φράνσις Σκοτ ΦιτζέραλντΒρισκόμαστε στη Ν. Υόρκη τη δεκαετία του 1920. Είναι η εποχή της τζαζ, μια εποχή θαυμάτων, τέχνης, υπερβολής, όπου κυριαρχεί ακόμα η πεποίθηση ότι τα λεφτά μπορούν να αγοράσουν την ευτυχία. Ο Γκάτσμπυ είναι πάμπλουτος, μένει σε μια έπαυλη, έχει μπάτλερ, υπηρέτες, μια Ρολς-Ρόις και διοργανώνει θρυλικά πάρτι. Κανείς δεν ξέρει από πού έρχεται, ούτε πώς κατέχει μια τόσο μεγάλη περιουσία, ωστόσο όλοι γοητεύονται από το μυστηριώδες παρελθόν και τον τρόπο ζωής του. Εκείνος έχει κάτι ακόμα. Έναν απόλυτο, ανεκπλήρωτο, ρομαντικό έρωτα για την εύθραυστη αλλά πανέμορφη Νταίζη. Ο Γκάτσμπυ ξεχωρίζει. Και είναι τόσο αθεράπευτα ιδεαλιστής που γίνεται πραγματικά υπέροχος. 
THE GREAT GATSBY in PDF

Τετάρτη, 1 Μαρτίου 2017

Heinrich Boell (μτφ. Λεωνίδας Ρήγας), "Ο χάχας", Νέα Εστία 1234 (1 Δεκ.1978)

Όταν με ρωτάνε για το επάγγελμά μου, βρίσκομαι σ' αμηχανία: κοκκινίζω, τραυλίζω, εγώ, που αλλιώς είμαι γνωστός σαν άνθρωπος με αυτοπεποίθεση. Ζηλεύω τους ανθρώπους, που μπορούν να πουν: είμαι χτίστης. Τους μπαρμπέρηδες, τους λογιστές, τους συγγραφείς τους ζηλεύω για την απλότητα της απάντησής τους, γιατί όλ' αυτά τα επαγγέλματα είναι αυτεξήγητα και δεν χρειάζονται περισσότερες αποσαφηνίσεις. Αλλά εγώ είμαι υποχρεωμένος στην ερώτηση "τι δουλειά κάνετε" ν' απαντάω: "γελάω". Μια τέτοια δήλωση χρειάζεται περισσότερο ανάλυση, γιατί στη δεύτερη ερώτηση: "ζείτε απ' αυτό"; είμαι υποχρεωμένος, για να πω την αλήθεια, ν' απαντήσω μ' ένα "ναι".
Πραγματικά ζω απ' το γέλιο μου, και μάλιστα καλοπερνάω, γιατί το γέλιο μου - για να μιλήσουμε εμπορικά - έχει ζήτηση. Είμαι ένας καλός, ένας σπουδαγμένος χάχας. Κανένας άλλος δεν γελάει έτσι όπως εγώ, κανένας δεν κατέχει τόσο τις αποχρώσεις της τέχνης μου. Πολύν καιρό - για ν' αποφεύγω τις ενοχλητικές διασαφηνίσεις - έλεγα πως είμαι ηθοποιός. Αλλά οι ικανότητές μου σε μίμηση και άρθρωση είναι τόσο φτωχές, που αυτός ο χαρακτηρισμός δεν φαινότανε αληθινός. Αγαπάω την αλήθεια. Κι η αλήθεια είναι: είμαι ένας χάχας. Δεν είμαι ούτε κλόουν ούτε κωμικός. Δεν χαρίζω ευθυμία, αλλά διαπιστώνω την ύπαρξή της. Γελάω σαν ρωμαίος αυτοκράτωρ ή σαν αισθηματίας τελειόφοιτος γυμνασίου. Το γέλιο του 17ου αιώνα είναι τόσο του χεριού μου όσο και του 19ου, κι αν είναι ανάγκη, γελάω όπως έκαναν σ' όλους τους αιώνες, σ' όλες τις κοινωνικές τάξεις, σ' όλες τις ηλικίες. Απλούστατα, τα έμαθα, όπως μαθαίνεις να σολιάζεις παπούτσια. Το γέλιο της Αμερικής ησυχάζει μέσα στο στήθος μου, το γέλιο της Αφρικής, λευκό, ερυθρό, κίτρινο γέλιο το ίδιο, και με την πληρωμή της αντίστοιχης αμοιβής τ' αφήνω να σκορπίσει, έτσι όπως προβλέπει η σκηνοθεσία.
Έγινα απαραίτητος. Γελάω σε δίσκους, γελάω σε κασέτες κι οι ραδιοσκηνοθέτες με μεταχειρίζονται πολύ διακριτικά. Γελάω βαρύθυμα, μετρημένα, υστερικά, γελάω σαν τραμβαγιέρης ή σαν μπακαλόπαιδο, πρωινό γέλιο, βραδινό γέλιο, αυγινό γέλιο. Κοντολογίς: γελάω όπου και όπως πρέπει να γελάει κανείς. Το πετυχαίνω.
Θα με πιστέψετε, ότι ένα τέτοιο επάγγελμα είναι κοπιαστικό. Ακόμη κατέχω - αυτή είναι κι η ειδικότητά μου - και το μεταδοτικό γέλιο. Έτσι έγινα απαραίτητος και στους κωμικούς τρίτης και τέταρτης κατηγορίας, που δίκαια τρέμουν για τις αιχμές του ρόλου τους, και κάθομαι σχεδόν κάθε βράδυ ανάμεσα στους θεατές των βαριετέ, σαν ένα είδος κλάκας ποιότητας, για να γελάω μεταδοτικά στ' αδύνατα σημεία του προγράμματος.
Η δουλειά μου πρέπει να είναι κομμένη στα κατάλληλα μέτρα: τ' ανοιχτόκαρδο, ακράτητο γέλιο μου δεν πρέπει να 'ρθει ούτε πολύ νωρίς ούτε πολύ αργά, αλλά στην κατάλληλη στιγμή. Τότε ξεσπάω προσχεδιασμένα κι' ολόκληρο το ακροατήριο ξεκαρδίζεται μαζί με μένα και το αστείο σημείο του προγράμματος σώζεται.
Εγώ όμως γλιστράω ξεζουμισμένος στην γκαρνταρόμπα, φοράω το παλτό μου όλος χαρά, που επί τέλους έχω σχολάσει. Συχνά βρίσκονται κιόλα σπίτι τηλεγραφήματα για μένα: "Χρειαζόμεθα επειγόντως γέλιο σας, προσλαμβάνεσθε Τρίτην". Και λίγες ώρες αργότερα κάθομαι σε μιαν υπερθερμασμένη "ταχεία" και κλαίω τη μοίρα μου.
Καθένας καταλαβαίνει, ότι αφού σχολάσω ή στις διακοπές μου ελάχιστη διάθεση έχω για γέλια. Ο εργάτης που αρμέγει χαίρεται, όταν μπορεί να ξεχάσει τις αγελάδες, ο χτίστης τη λάσπη, οι μαραγκοί έχουνε λίγο - πολύ σπίτι τους πόρτες που δε δουλεύουνε καλά ή συρτάρια που ανοίγουνε δύσκολα. Οι ζαχαροπλάστες προτιμάνε τα ξινά, ο χασάπης τ' αμυγδαλωτά κι' ο φούρναρης το σαλάμι από το ψωμί. Οι ταυρομάχοι θέλουν να 'ναι ανάμεσα σε περιστέρια κι οι μποξέρ χλομιάζουν μόλις ανοίξει η μύτη των παιδιών τους. Όλ' αυτά τα καταλαβαίνω, γιατί ποτέ μου δε γελάω αφού σχολάσω. Είμαι ένας αυστηρά σοβαρός άνθρωπος κι ο κόσμος - δίκαια ίσως - με θεωρεί απαισιόδοξο.
Τα πρώτα χρόνια της παντρειάς μου, μου 'λεγε συχνά η γυναίκα μου: "Γέλα και μια στάλα!" Αλλά στο μεταξύ κατάλαβε, ότι δεν μπορούσα να της κάνω αυτή τη χάρη. Χαίρομαι, όταν μπορώ τους τεντωμένους μυς του προσώπου μου, όταν μπορώ τη στραπατσαρισμένη ψυχική μου διάθεση να τη χαλαρώσω με την απόλυτη σοβαρότητα. Ακόμη και το γέλιο των άλλων με νευριάζει, γιατί μου θυμίζει πολύ το επάγγελμά μου.
Έτσι περνάμε τη ζωή του παντρεμένου με σιωπή και ομόνοια, γιατί κι' η γυναίκα μου ξέμαθε να γελάει. Πότε πότε την πιάνω να χαμογελάει και τότε χαμογελάω κι εγώ. Μιλάμε σιγά μεταξύ μας, γιατί μισώ τον θόρυβο των βαριετέ, μισώ τον θόρυβο που μπορεί να επικρατεί στους χώρους λήψεως. Άνθρωποι, που δεν με ξέρουν, με λογαριάζουν για χαρακτήρα κλειστό. Μπορεί και να 'μαι, γιατί πολύ συχνά πρέπει ν' ανοίγω το στόμα μου για να γελάω.
Με ανέκφραστο πρόσωπο περνάω τις ώρες της ιδιωτικής μου ζωής, μόνο που επιτρέπω πότε πότε στον εαυτό μου ένα αχνό χαμόγελο. Και συχνά αναρωτιέμαι αν γέλασα ποτέ. Νομίζω όχι. Οι αδερφές μου, που με ξέρουν, μου λένε ότι ήμουνα πάντοτε ένα σοβαρό αγόρι.
Έτσι γελάω με πολλούς και διάφορους τρόπους, αλλά το δικό μου γέλιο δεν το ξέρω.

Χάινριχ Μπελ,  Το λυπημένο μου πρόσωπο
http://ebooks.edu.gr/modules/ebook/show.php/DSGL-C131/595/3931,17415/

Για τον συγγραφέα:
http://www.biblionet.gr/author/644/B%C3%B6ll,_Heinrich,_1917-1985 http://www.tovima.gr/relatedarticles/article/?aid=184296
http://gr.boell.org/el

Τετάρτη, 1 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

2. Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland by Carson Mc Cullers



 Carson McCullers was an American who wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, who explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South. 



Carson Mc Cullers 1917-1967
Madame Zilensky and the King of Finland


To MR. BROOK, the head of the music department at Ryder College, was due all the credit (όλα τα εύσημα) for getting Madame Zilensky on the faculty. The college considered itself fortunate; her reputation was impressive, both as a composer and as a pedagogue. Mr. Brook took on himself the responsibility of finding a house for Madame Zilensky, a comfortable place with a garden, which was convenient to the college and next to the apartment house where he hi¬mself lived.
No one in Westbridge had known Madame Zilensky before she came. Mr. Brook had seen her pictures in musical journals, and once he had written to her about the authenticity of a certain Buxtehude manuscript (χειρόγραφο). Also, when it was being settled that she was to join the faculty, they had exchanged a few cables and letters on practical affairs. She wrote in a clear, square hand, and the only thing out of the ordinary in these letters was the fact that they contained an occasional reference to objects and persons altogether unknown to Mr. Brook, such as „the yellow cat in Lisbon” or „poor Heinrich.” These lapses (κενά)Mr. Brook put down to the confusion of getting herself and her family out of Europe.
Mr. Brook was a somewhat pastel person; years of Mozart minuets, of explanations about diminished sevenths and minor triads, had given him a watchful vocational patience. For the most part, he kept to himself. He loathed academic fiddle-faddle (ανούσια) and committees. Years before, when the music department had decided to gang together and spend the summer in Salzburg, Mr. Brook sneaked out ( ξέφυγε) of the arrangement at the last moment and took a solitary trip to Peru. He had a few eccentricities himself and was tolerant of the peculiarities (ιδιαιτερότητες) of others; indeed, he rather relished (απολάμβανε) the ridiculous. Often, when confronted with some grave and incongruous (άτοπη) situation, he would feel a little inside tickle, which stiffened his long, mild face and sharpened the light in his gray eyes.
Mr. Brook met Madame Zilensky at the Westbridge station a week before the beginning of the fall semester. He recognized her instantly. She was a tall, straight woman with a pale and haggard(κουρασμένο) face. Her eyes were deeply shadowed and she wore her dark, ragged hair pushed back from her forehead. She had large, delicate hands, which were very grubby(βρώμικα). About her person as a whole there was something noble (ευγενικό) and abstract that made Mr. Brook draw back for a moment and stand nervously undoing his cuff links. In spite of her clothes — a long, black skirt and a broken-down old leather jacket — she made an impression of vague elegance. With Madame Zilensky were three children, boys between the ages of ten and six, all blond, blank-eyed, and beautiful. There was one other person, an old woman who turned out later to be the Finnish servant.
This was the group he found at the station. The only luggage they had with them was two immense boxes of manuscripts, the rest of their paraphernalia (σύνεργα) having been forgotten in the station at Springfield when they changed trains. That is the sort of thing that can happen to anyone. When Mr. Brook got them all into a taxi, he thought the worst difficulties were over, but Madame Zilensky suddenly tried to scramble over his knees and get out of the door.
„My God!” she said. „I left my — how do you say? — my tick-tick-tick –”
„Your watch?” asked Mr. Brook.
„Oh no!” she said vehemently (έντονα). „You know, my tick-tick-tick,” and she waved her forefinger from side to side, pendulum fashion.
„Tick-tick,” said Mr. Brook, putting his hands to his forehead and closing his eyes. „Could you possibly mean a metronome?”
„Yes! Yes! I think I must have lost it there where we changed trains.”
Mr. Brook managed to quiet her. He even said, with a kind of dazed gallantry(ευγένεια), that he would get her another one the next day. But at the time he was bound to admit to himself that there was something curious about this panic over a metronome when there was all the rest of the lost luggage to consider.
The Zilensky ménage moved into the house next door, and on the surface everything was all right. The boys were quiet children. Their names were Sigmund, Boris, and Sammy. They were always together and they followed each other around Indian file, Sigmund usually the first. Among themselves they spoke a desperate-sounding family Esperanto made up of Russian, French, Finnish, German, and English; when other people were around, they were strangely silent. It was not any one thing that the Zilenskys did or said that made Mr. Brook uneasy. There were just little incidents. For example, something about the Zilensky children subconsciously bothered him when they were in a house, and finally he realized that what troubled him was the fact that the Zilensky boys never walked on a rug; they skirted it single file on the bare floor, and if a room was carpeted, they stood in the doorway and did not go inside. Another thing was this: Weeks passed and Madame Zilensky seemed to make no effort to get settled or to furnish the house with anything more than a table and some beds. The front door was left open day and night and soon the house began to take on a queer, bleak look like that of a place abandoned for years.
The college had every reason to be satisfied with Madame Zilensky. She taught with a fierce insistence. She could become deeply indignant (αγανακτισμένη) if some Mary Owens or Bernadine Smith would not clean up her Scarlatti trills. She got hold of four pianos for her college studio and set four dazed students to playing Bach fugues together. The racket that came from her end of the department was extraordinary, but Madame Zilensky did not seem to have a nerve in her, and if pure will and effort can get over a musical idea, then Ryder College could not have done better. At night Madame Zilensky worked on her twelfth symphony. She seemed never to sleep; no matter what time of night Mr. Brook happened to look out of his sitting-room window, the light in her studio was always on. No, it was not because of any professional consideration that Mr. Brook became so dubious.
It was in late October when he felt for the first time that something was unmistakably wrong. He had lunched with Madame Zilensky and had enjoyed himself, as she had given him a very detailed account of an African safari she had made in 1928. Later in the afternoon she stopped in at his office and stood rather abstractly in the doorway.
Mr. Brook looked up from his desk and asked, „Is there anything you want?”
„No, thank you,” said Madame Zilensky. She had a low, beautiful, sombre voice. „I was only just wondering. You recall (θυμάστε) the metronome. Do you think perhaps that I might have left it with that French?”
„Who?” asked Mr. Brook.
„Why, that French I was married to,” she answered.
„Frenchman,” Mr. Brook said mildly. He tried to imagine the husband of Madame Zilensky, but his mind refused. He muttered half to himself, „The father of the children.”
„But no,” said Madame Zilensky with decision. „The father of Sammy.”
Mr. Brook had a swift prescience. His deepest instincts warned him to say nothing further. Still, his respect for order, his conscience, demanded that he ask, „And the father of the other two?”
Madame Zilensky put her hand to the back of her head and ruffled up her short, cropped hair. Her face was dreamy, and for several moments she did not answer. Then she said gently, „Boris is of a Pole who played the piccolo.”
„And Sigmund?” he asked. Mr. Brook looked over his orderly desk, with the stack of corrected papers, the three sharpened pencils, the ivory-elephant paperweight. When he glanced up at Madame Zilensky, she was obviously thinking hard. She gazed around at the corners of the room, her brows lowered and her jaw moving from side to side. At last she said, „We were discussing the father of Sigmund?”
„Why, no,” said Mr. Brook. „There is no need to do that.”
Madame Zilensky answered in a voice both dignified (αξιοπρεπή) and final. „He was a fellow-countryman.”
Mr. Brook really did not care one way or the other. He had no prejudices (προκαταλήψεις); people could marry seventeen times and have Chinese children so far as he was concerned. But there was something about this conversation with Madame Zilensky that bothered him. Suddenly he understood. The children didn’t look at all like Madame Zilensky, but they looked exactly like each other, and as they all had different fathers, Mr. Brook thought the resemblance astonishing(εκπληκτική ομοιότητα).
But Madame Zilensky had finished with the subject. She zipped up her leather jacket and turned away.
„That is exactly where I left it,” she said, with a quick nod. „Chez that French.”
Affairs in the music department were running smoothly. Mr. Brook did not have any serious embarrassments to deal with, such as the harp teacher last year who had finally eloped with a garage mechanic. There was only this nagging apprehension about Madame Zilensky. He could not make out what was wrong in his relations with her or why his feelings were so mixed. To begin with, she was a great globe-trotter(κοσμογυρισμένη), and her conversations were incongruously seasoned with references to far-fetched (μακρινά) places. She would go along for days without opening her mouth, prowling through the corridor with her hands in the pockets of her jacket and her face locked in meditation. Then suddenly she would buttonhole Mr. Brook and launch out on a long, volatile (ευέξαπτο) monologue, her eyes reckless and bright and her voice warm with eagerness. She would talk about anything or nothing at all. Yet, without exception, there was something queer (παράδοξο), in a slanted sort of way, about every episode she ever mentioned. If she spoke of taking Sammy to the barbershop, the impression she created was just as foreign as if she were telling of an afternoon in Bagdad. Mr. Brook could not make it out.
The truth came to him very suddenly, and the truth made everything perfectly clear, or at least clarified the situation. Mr. Brook had come home early and lighted a fire in the little grate in his sitting room. He felt comfortable and at peace that evening. He sat before the fire in his stocking feet, with a volume of William Blake on the table by his side, and he had poured himself a half-glass of apricot brandy. At ten o’clock he was drowsing cozily before the fire, his mind full of cloudy phrases of Mahler and floating half-thoughts. Then all at once, out of this delicate stupor (λήθαργο), four words came to his mind:„The King of Finland.” The words seemed familiar, but for the first moment he could not place them. Then all at once he tracked them down. He had been walking across the campus that afternoon when Madame Zilensky stopped him and began some preposterous rigamarole, to which he had only half listened; he was thinking about the stack of canons turned in by his counterpoint (συμπληρωματική) class. Now the words, the inflections (τόνος) of her voice, came back to him with insidious exactitude (ακρίβεια), Madame Zilensky had started off with the following remark: „One day, when I was standing in front of a pâtisserie, the King of Finland came by in a sled.”
Mr. Brook jerked himself up straight in his chair and put down his glass of brandy. The woman was a pathological liar. Almost every word she uttered outside of class was an untruth. If she worked all night, she would go out of her way to tell you she spent the evening at the cinema. If she ate lunch at the Old Tavern, she would be sure to mention that she had lunched with her children at home. The woman was simply a pathological liar, and that accounted for (εξηγούσε) everything.
Mr. Brook cracked his knuckles and got up from his chair. His first reaction was one of exasperation. That day after day Madame Zilensky would have the gall (θράσος) to sit there in his office and deluge (μπαφιάζω) him with her outrageous falsehoods! Mr. Brook was intensely provoked. He walked up and down the room, then he went into his kitchenette and made himself a sardine sandwich.
An hour later, as he sat before the fire, his irritation had changed to a scholarly and thoughtful wonder. What he must do, he told himself, was to regard the whole situation impersonally and look on Madame Zilensky as a doctor looks on a sick patient. Her lies were of the guileless  (αθώα) sort. She did not dissimulate (κρύβω) with any intention to deceive, and the untruths she told were never used to any possible advantage. That was the maddening thing; there was simply no motive behind it all.
Mr. Brook finished off the rest of the brandy. And slowly, when it was almost midnight, a further understanding came to him. The reason for the lies of Madame Zilensky was painful and plain. All her life long Madame Zilensky had worked — at the piano, teaching, and writing those beautiful and immense twelve symphonies. Day and night she had drudged and struggled and thrown her soul into her work, and there was not much of her left over for anything else. Being human, she suffered from this lack and did what she could to make up for it. If she passed the evening bent over a table in the library and later declared that she had spent that time playing cards, it was as though she had managed to do both those things. Through the lies, she lived vicariously (έντονα). The lies doubled the little of her existence that was left over from work and augmented (μεγεθύνω) the little rag end of her personal life.
Mr. Brook looked into the fire, and the face of Madame Zilensky was in his mind — a severe face, with dark, weary eyes and delicately disciplined mouth. He was conscious of a warmth in his chest, and a feeling of pity, protectiveness, and dreadful understanding. For a while he was in a state of lovely confusion.
Later on he brushed his teeth and got into his pajamas. He must be practical. What did this clear up? That French, the Pole with the piccolo, Bagdad? And the children, Sigmund, Boris, and Sammy — who were they? Were they really her children after all, or had she simply rounded them up from somewhere? Mr. Brook polished his spectacles and put them on the table by his bed. He must come to an immediate understanding with her. Otherwise, there would exist in the department a situation which could become most problematical. It was two o’clock. He glanced out of his window and saw that the light in Madame Zilensky’s workroom was still on. Mr. Brook got into bed, made terrible faces in the dark, and tried to plan what he would say next day.
Mr. Brook was in his office by eight o’clock. He sat hunched up behind his desk, ready to trap Madame Zilensky as she passed down the corridor. He did not have to wait long, and as soon as he heard her footsteps he called out her name.
Madame Zilensky stood in the doorway. She looked vague and jaded (κουρασμένη). „How are you? I had such a fine night’s rest,” she said.
„Pray be seated, if you please,” said Mr. Brook. „I would like a word with you.”
Madame Zilensky put aside her portfolio and leaned back wearily (κουρασμένα) in the armchair across from him. „Yes?” she asked.
„Yesterday you spoke to me as I was walking across the campus,” he said slowly. „And if I am not mistaken, I believe you said something about a pastry shop and the King of Finland. Is that correct?”
Madame Zilensky turned her head to one side and stared retrospectively at a corner of the window sill.
„Something about a pastry shop,” he repeated.
Her tired face brightened. „But of course,” she said eagerly. „I told you about the time I was standing in front of this shop and the King of Finland –”
„Madame Zilensky!” Mr. Brook cried. „There is no King of Finland.”
Madame Zilensky looked absolutely blank. Then, after an instant, she started off again. „I was standing in front of Bjarne’s pâtisserie when I turned away from the cakes and suddenly saw the King of Finland –”
„Madame Zilensky, I just told you that there is no King of Finland.”
„In Helsingfors,” she started off again desperately, and again he let her get as far as the King, and then no further.
„Finland is a democracy,” he said. „You could not possibly have seen the King of Finland. Therefore, what you have just said is an untruth. A pure untruth.”
Never afterward could Mr. Brook forget the face of Madame Zilensky at that moment. In her eyes there was astonishment, dismay (απόγνωση), and a sort of cornered horror. She had the look of one who watches his whole interior world split open and disintegrate.(διαλύεται)
„It is a pity,” said Mr. Brook with real sympathy.
But Madame Zilensky pulled herself together. She raised her chin and said coldly, „I am a Finn.”
„That I do not question,” answered Mr. Brook. On second thought, he did question it a little.
„I was born in Finland and I am a Finnish citizen.”
„That may very well be,” said Mr. Brook in a rising voice.
„In the war,” she continued passionately, „I rode a motorcycle and was a messenger.”
„Your patriotism does not enter into it.”
„Just because I am getting out the first papers –”
„Madame Zilensky!” said Mr. Brook. His hands grasped the edge of the desk. „That is only an irrelevant issue. The point is that you maintained and testified that you saw — that you saw –” But he could not finish. Her face stopped him. She was deadly pale and there were shadows around her mouth. Her eyes were wide open, doomed, and proud. And Mr. Brook felt suddenly like a murderer. A great commotion of feelings — understanding, remorse (τύψεις), and unreasonable love — made him cover his face with his hands. He could not speak until this agitation (αναστάτωση) in his insides quieted down, and then he said very faintly, „Yes. Of course. The King of Finland. And was he nice?”
An hour later, Mr. Brook sat looking out of the window of his office. The trees along the quiet Westbridge street were almost bare, and the gray buildings of the college had a calm, sad look. As he idly took in the familiar scene, he noticed the Drakes’ old Airedale waddling  (προχωρούσε) along down the street. It was a thing he had watched a hundred times before, so what was it that struck him as strange? Then he realized with a kind of cold surprise that the old dog was running along backward (αντίστροφα). Mr. Brook watched the Airedale until he was out of sight, then resumed (ξανάπιασε) his work on the canons which had been turned in by the class in counterpoint.


Πέμπτη, 19 Ιανουαρίου 2017

1. The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H Lawrence

Tο διήγημα "The rocking horse winner" του D.H Lawrence, διαδραματίζεται στην Αγγλία, λίγο μετά τον 1o Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο. Δημοσιεύτηκε πρώτη φορά το  1926. Η ιστορία μιλά για μία νεαρή Βρετανή μητέρα η οποία καταδιώκεται από μια αίσθηση αποτυχίας και ατυχίας, παρότι φαινομενικά πετυχημένη. Ο τρόπος ζωής της οικογένειας δεν συμβαδίζει με το εισόδημα τους. Τα παιδιά, ο Πωλ και οι αδελφές του νιώθουν αυτήν την ανησυχία και ισχυρίζονται ότι ακούν μέχρι και το σπίτι να ψιθυρίζει "πρέπει να βρεθούν χρήματα"......

Epsom Derby, Grand National, Royal Ascot, Lincoln: Ιππικοί αγώνες στην Αγγλία

The Rocking Horse Winner by D. H. Lawrence 

There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust (επιβάλλω) upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: "She is such a good mother. She adores her children." Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other's eyes. 



There were a boy and two little girls. They lived in a pleasant house, with a garden, and they had discreet servants, and felt themselves superior to anyone in the neighbourhood. 


Although they lived in style, they felt always an anxiety in the house. There was never enough money. The mother had a small income, and the father had a small income, but not nearly enough for the social position which they had to keep up. The father went into town to some office. But though he had good prospects, these prospects never materialised. There was always the grinding sense of the shortage of money, though the style was always kept up. 

At last the mother said: "I will see if I can't make something." But she did not know where to begin. She racked her brains, and tried this thing and the other, but could not find anything successful. The failure made deep lines come into her face. Her children were growing up, they would have to go to school. There must be more money, there must be more money. The father, who was always very handsome and expensive in his tastes, seemed as if he never would be able to do anything worth doing. And the mother, who had a great belief in herself, did not succeed any better, and her tastes were just as expensive. 

And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more money!" And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other's eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. "There must be more money! There must be more money!" 

It came whispering from the springs of the still-swaying rocking-horse, and even the horse, bending his wooden, champing head, heard it. The big doll, sitting so pink and smirking in her new pram, could hear it quite plainly, and seemed to be smirking all the more self-consciously because of it. The foolish puppy, too, that took the place of the teddy-bear, he was looking so extraordinarily foolish for no other reason but that he heard the secret whisper all over the house: "There must be more money!" 

Yet nobody ever said it aloud. The whisper was everywhere, and therefore no one spoke it. Just as no one ever says: "We are breathing!" in spite of the fact that breath is coming and going all the time. 

"Mother," said the boy Paul one day, "why don't we keep a car of our own? Why do we always use uncle's, or else a taxi?" 

"Because we're the poor members of the family," said the mother. 

"But why are we, mother?" 

"Well - I suppose," she said slowly and bitterly, "it's because your father has no luck." 

The boy was silent for some time. 

"Is luck money, mother?" he asked, rather timidly. 

"No, Paul. Not quite. It's what causes you to have money." 

"Oh!" said Paul vaguely. "I thought when Uncle Oscar said filthy lucker, it meant money." 

"Filthy lucre does mean money," said the mother. "But it's lucre (κέρδος), not luck." 

"Oh!" said the boy. "Then what is luck, mother?" 

"It's what causes you to have money. If you're lucky you have money. That's why it's better to be born lucky than rich. If you're rich, you may lose your money. But if you're lucky, you will always get more money." 

"Oh! Will you? And is father not lucky?" 

"Very unlucky, I should say," she said bitterly. 

The boy watched her with unsure eyes. 

"Why?" he asked. 

"I don't know. Nobody ever knows why one person is lucky and another unlucky." 

"Don't they? Nobody at all? Does nobody know?" 

"Perhaps God. But He never tells." 

"He ought to, then. And are'nt you lucky either, mother?" 

"I can't be, if I married an unlucky husband." 

"But by yourself, aren't you?" 

"I used to think I was, before I married. Now I think I am very unlucky indeed." 

"Why?" 

"Well - never mind! Perhaps I'm not really," she said. 

The child looked at her to see if she meant it. But he saw, by the lines of her mouth, that she was only trying to hide something from him. 

"Well, anyhow," he said stoutly, "I'm a lucky person." 

"Why?" said his mother, with a sudden laugh. 

He stared at her. He didn't even know why he had said it. 

"God told me," he asserted, brazening it out. 

"I hope He did, dear!", she said, again with a laugh, but rather bitter. 

"He did, mother!" 

"Excellent!" said the mother, using one of her husband's exclamations. 

The boy saw she did not believe him; or rather, that she paid no attention to his assertion. This angered him somewhere, and made him want to compel her attention. 

He went off by himself, vaguely, in a childish way, seeking for the clue to 'luck'. Absorbed, taking no heed of other people, he went about with a sort of stealth, seeking inwardly for luck. He wanted luck, he wanted it, he wanted it. When the two girls were playing dolls in the nursery, he would sit on his big rocking-horse, charging madly into space, with a frenzy that made the little girls peer at him uneasily. Wildly the horse careered, the waving dark hair of the boy tossed, his eyes had a strange glare in them. The little girls dared not speak to him. 

When he had ridden to the end of his mad little journey, he climbed down and stood in front of his rocking-horse, staring fixedly into its lowered face. Its red mouth was slightly open, its big eye was wide and glassy-bright. 

"Now!" he would silently command the snorting steed. "Now take me to where there is luck! Now take me!" 

And he would slash the horse on the neck with the little whip he had asked Uncle Oscar for. He knew the horse could take him to where there was luck, if only he forced it. So he would mount again and start on his furious ride, hoping at last to get there. 

"You'll break your horse, Paul!" said the nurse. 

"He's always riding like that! I wish he'd leave off!" said his elder sister Joan. 

But he only glared down on them in silence. Nurse gave him up. She could make nothing of him. Anyhow, he was growing beyond her. 

One day his mother and his Uncle Oscar came in when he was on one of his furious rides. He did not speak to them. 

"Hallo, you young jockey! Riding a winner?" said his uncle. 

"Aren't you growing too big for a rocking-horse? You're not a very little boy any longer, you know," said his mother. 

But Paul only gave a blue glare from his big, rather close-set eyes. He would speak to nobody when he was in full tilt. His mother watched him with an anxious expression on her face. 

At last he suddenly stopped forcing his horse into the mechanical gallop and slid down. 

"Well, I got there!" he announced fiercely, his blue eyes still flaring, and his sturdy long legs straddling apart. 

"Where did you get to?" asked his mother. 

"Where I wanted to go," he flared back at her. 

"That's right, son!" said Uncle Oscar. "Don't you stop till you get there. What's the horse's name?" 

"He doesn't have a name," said the boy. 

"Get's on without all right?" asked the uncle. 

"Well, he has different names. He was called Sansovino last week." 

"Sansovino, eh? Won the Ascot. How did you know this name?" 

"He always talks about horse-races with Bassett," said Joan. 

The uncle was delighted to find that his small nephew was posted with all the racing news. Bassett, the young gardener, who had been wounded in the left foot in the war and had got his present job through Oscar Cresswell, whose batman he had been, was a perfect blade of the 'turf'. He lived in the racing events, and the small boy lived with him. 

Oscar Cresswell got it all from Bassett. 

"Master Paul comes and asks me, so I can't do more than tell him, sir," said Bassett, his face terribly serious, as if he were speaking of religious matters. 

"And does he ever put anything on a horse he fancies?" 

"Well - I don't want to give him away - he's a young sport, a fine sport, sir. Would you mind asking him himself? He sort of takes a pleasure in it, and perhaps he'd feel I was giving him away, sir, if you don't mind. 

Bassett was serious as a church. 

The uncle went back to his nephew and took him off for a ride in the car. 

"Say, Paul, old man, do you ever put anything on a horse?" the uncle asked. 

The boy watched the handsome man closely. 

"Why, do you think I oughtn't to?" he parried. 

"Not a bit of it! I thought perhaps you might give me a tip for the Lincoln." 

The car sped on into the country, going down to Uncle Oscar's place in Hampshire. 

"Honour bright?" said the nephew. 

"Honour bright, son!" said the uncle. 

"Well, then, Daffodil." 

"Daffodil! I doubt it, sonny. What about Mirza?" 

"I only know the winner," said the boy. "That's Daffodil." 

"Daffodil, eh?" 

There was a pause. Daffodil was an obscure horse comparatively. 

"Uncle!" 

"Yes, son?" 

"You won't let it go any further, will you? I promised Bassett." 

"Bassett be damned, old man! What's he got to do with it?" 

"We're partners. We've been partners from the first. Uncle, he lent me my first five shillings, which I lost. I promised him, honour bright, it was only between me and him; only you gave me that ten-shilling note I started winning with, so I thought you were lucky. You won't let it go any further, will you?" 

The boy gazed at his uncle from those big, hot, blue eyes, set rather close together. The uncle stirred and laughed uneasily. 

"Right you are, son! I'll keep your tip private. How much are you putting on him?" 

"All except twenty pounds," said the boy. "I keep that in reserve." 

The uncle thought it a good joke. 

"You keep twenty pounds in reserve, do you, you young romancer? What are you betting, then?" 

"I'm betting three hundred," said the boy gravely. "But it's between you and me, Uncle Oscar! Honour bright?" 

"It's between you and me all right, you young Nat Gould," he said, laughing. "But where's your three hundred?" 

"Bassett keeps it for me. We're partner's." 

"You are, are you! And what is Bassett putting on Daffodil?" 

"He won't go quite as high as I do, I expect. Perhaps he'll go a hundred and fifty." 

"What, pennies?" laughed the uncle. 

"Pounds," said the child, with a surprised look at his uncle. "Bassett keeps a bigger reserve than I do." 

Between wonder and amusement Uncle Oscar was silent. He pursued the matter no further, but he determined to take his nephew with him to the Lincoln races. 

"Now, son," he said, "I'm putting twenty on Mirza, and I'll put five on for you on any horse you fancy. What's your pick?" 

"Daffodil, uncle." 

"No, not the fiver on Daffodil!" 

"I should if it was my own fiver," said the child. 

"Good! Good! Right you are! A fiver for me and a fiver for you on Daffodil." 

The child had never been to a race-meeting before, and his eyes were blue fire. He pursed his mouth tight and watched. A Frenchman just in front had put his money on Lancelot. Wild with excitement, he flayed his arms up and down, yelling "Lancelot!, Lancelot!" in his French accent. 

Daffodil came in first, Lancelot second, Mirza third. The child, flushed and with eyes blazing, was curiously serene. His uncle brought him four five-pound notes, four to one. 

"What am I to do with these?" he cried, waving them before the boys eyes. 

"I suppose we'll talk to Bassett," said the boy. "I expect I have fifteen hundred now; and twenty in reserve; and this twenty." 

His uncle studied him for some moments. 

"Look here, son!" he said. "You're not serious about Bassett and that fifteen hundred, are you?" 

"Yes, I am. But it's between you and me, uncle. Honour bright?" 

"Honour bright all right, son! But I must talk to Bassett." 

"If you'd like to be a partner, uncle, with Bassett and me, we could all be partners. Only, you'd have to promise, honour bright, uncle, not to let it go beyond us three. Bassett and I are lucky, and you must be lucky, because it was your ten shillings I started winning with ..." 

Uncle Oscar took both Bassett and Paul into Richmond Park for an afternoon, and there they talked. 

"It's like this, you see, sir," Bassett said. "Master Paul would get me talking about racing events, spinning yarns, you know, sir. And he was always keen on knowing if I'd made or if I'd lost. It's about a year since, now, that I put five shillings on Blush of Dawn for him: and we lost. Then the luck turned, with that ten shillings he had from you: that we put on Singhalese. And since that time, it's been pretty steady, all things considering. What do you say, Master Paul?" 

"We're all right when we're sure," said Paul. "It's when we're not quite sure that we go down." 

"Oh, but we're careful then," said Bassett. 

"But when are you sure?" smiled Uncle Oscar. 

"It's Master Paul, sir," said Bassett in a secret, religious voice. "It's as if he had it from heaven. Like Daffodil, now, for the Lincoln. That was as sure as eggs." 

"Did you put anything on Daffodil?" asked Oscar Cresswell. 

"Yes, sir, I made my bit." 

"And my nephew?" 

Bassett was obstinately silent, looking at Paul. 

"I made twelve hundred, didn't I, Bassett? I told uncle I was putting three hundred on Daffodil." 

"That's right," said Bassett, nodding. 

"But where's the money?" asked the uncle. 

"I keep it safe locked up, sir. Master Paul he can have it any minute he likes to ask for it." 

"What, fifteen hundred pounds?" 

"And twenty! And forty, that is, with the twenty he made on the course." 

"It's amazing!" said the uncle. 

"If Master Paul offers you to be partners, sir, I would, if I were you: if you'll excuse me," said Bassett. 

Oscar Cresswell thought about it. 

"I'll see the money," he said. 

They drove home again, and, sure enough, Bassett came round to the garden-house with fifteen hundred pounds in notes. The twenty pounds reserve was left with Joe Glee, in the Turf Commission deposit. 

"You see, it's all right, uncle, when I'm sure! Then we go strong, for all we're worth, don't we, Bassett?" 

"We do that, Master Paul." 

"And when are you sure?" said the uncle, laughing. 

"Oh, well, sometimes I'm absolutely sure, like about Daffodil," said the boy; "and sometimes I have an idea; and sometimes I haven't even an idea, have I, Bassett? Then we're careful, because we mostly go down." 

"You do, do you! And when you're sure, like about Daffodil, what makes you sure, sonny?" 

"Oh, well, I don't know," said the boy uneasily. "I'm sure, you know, uncle; that's all." 

"It's as if he had it from heaven, sir," Bassett reiterated. 

"I should say so!" said the uncle. 

But he became a partner. And when the Leger was coming on Paul was 'sure' about Lively Spark, which was a quite inconsiderable horse. The boy insisted on putting a thousand on the horse, Bassett went for five hundred, and Oscar Cresswell two hundred. Lively Spark came in first, and the betting had been ten to one against him. Paul had made ten thousand. 

"You see," he said. "I was absolutely sure of him." 

Even Oscar Cresswell had cleared two thousand. 

"Look here, son," he said, "this sort of thing makes me nervous." 

"It needn't, uncle! Perhaps I shan't be sure again for a long time." 

"But what are you going to do with your money?" asked the uncle. 

"Of course," said the boy, "I started it for mother. She said she had no luck, because father is unlucky, so I thought if I was lucky, it might stop whispering." 

"What might stop whispering?" 

"Our house. I hate our house for whispering." 

"What does it whisper?" 

"Why - why" - the boy fidgeted - "why, I don't know. But it's always short of money, you know, uncle." 

"I know it, son, I know it." 

"You know people send mother writs, don't you, uncle?" 

"I'm afraid I do," said the uncle. 

"And then the house whispers, like people laughing at you behind your back. It's awful, that is! I thought if I was lucky -" 

"You might stop it," added the uncle. 

The boy watched him with big blue eyes, that had an uncanny cold fire in them, and he said never a word. 

"Well, then!" said the uncle. "What are we doing?" 

"I shouldn't like mother to know I was lucky," said the boy. 

"Why not, son?" 

"She'd stop me.

"I don't think she would." 

"Oh!" - and the boy writhed in an odd way - "I don't want her to know, uncle." 

"All right, son! We'll manage it without her knowing." 

They managed it very easily. Paul, at the other's suggestion, handed over five thousand pounds to his uncle, who deposited it with the family lawyer, who was then to inform Paul's mother that a relative had put five thousand pounds into his hands, which sum was to be paid out a thousand pounds at a time, on the mother's birthday, for the next five years. 

"So she'll have a birthday present of a thousand pounds for five successive years," said Uncle Oscar. "I hope it won't make it all the harder for her later." 

Paul's mother had her birthday in November. The house had been 'whispering' worse than ever lately, and, even in spite of his luck, Paul could not bear up against it. He was very anxious to see the effect of the birthday letter, telling his mother about the thousand pounds. 

When there were no visitors, Paul now took his meals with his parents, as he was beyond the nursery control. His mother went into town nearly every day. She had discovered that she had an odd knack of sketching furs and dress materials, so she worked secretly in the studio of a friend who was the chief 'artist' for the leading drapers. She drew the figures of ladies in furs and ladies in silk and sequins for the newspaper advertisements. This young woman artist earned several thousand pounds a year, but Paul's mother only made several hundreds, and she was again dissatisfied. She so wanted to be first in something, and she did not succeed, even in making sketches for drapery advertisements. 

She was down to breakfast on the morning of her birthday. Paul watched her face as she read her letters. He knew the lawyer's letter. As his mother read it, her face hardened and became more expressionless. Then a cold, determined look came on her mouth. She hid the letter under the pile of others, and said not a word about it. 

"Didn't you have anything nice in the post for your birthday, mother?" said Paul. 

"Quite moderately nice," she said, her voice cold and hard and absent. 

She went away to town without saying more. 

But in the afternoon Uncle Oscar appeared. He said Paul's mother had had a long interview with the lawyer, asking if the whole five thousand could not be advanced at once, as she was in debt. 

"What do you think, uncle?" said the boy. 

"I leave it to you, son." 

"Oh, let her have it, then! We can get some more with the other," said the boy. 

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, laddie!" said Uncle Oscar. 

"But I'm sure to know for the Grand National; or the Lincolnshire; or else the Derby. I'm sure to know for one of them," said Paul. 

So Uncle Oscar signed the agreement, and Paul's mother touched the whole five thousand. Then something very curious happened. The voices in the house suddenly went mad, like a chorus of frogs on a spring evening. There were certain new furnishings, and Paul had a tutor. He was really going to Eton, his father's school, in the following autumn. There were flowers in the winter, and a blossoming of the luxury Paul's mother had been used to. And yet the voices in the house, behind the sprays of mimosa and almond-blossom, and from under the piles of iridescent cushions, simply trilled and screamed in a sort of ecstasy: "There must be more money! Oh-h-h; there must be more money. Oh, now, now-w! Now-w-w - there must be more money! - more than ever! More than ever!" 

It frightened Paul terribly. He studied away at his Latin and Greek with his tutor. But his intense hours were spent with Bassett. The Grand National had gone by: he had not 'known', and had lost a hundred pounds. Summer was at hand. He was in agony for the Lincoln. But even for the Lincoln he didn't 'know', and he lost fifty pounds. He became wild-eyed and strange, as if something were going to explode in him. 

"Let it alone, son! Don't you bother about it!" urged Uncle Oscar. But it was as if the boy couldn't really hear what his uncle was saying. 

"I've got to know for the Derby! I've got to know for the Derby!" the child reiterated, his big blue eyes blazing with a sort of madness. 

His mother noticed how overwrought he was. 

"You'd better go to the seaside. Wouldn't you like to go now to the seaside, instead of waiting? I think you'd better," she said, looking down at him anxiously, her heart curiously heavy because of him. 

But the child lifted his uncanny blue eyes. 

"I couldn't possibly go before the Derby, mother!" he said. "I couldn't possibly!" 

"Why not?" she said, her voice becoming heavy when she was opposed. "Why not? You can still go from the seaside to see the Derby with your Uncle Oscar, if that that's what you wish. No need for you to wait here. Besides, I think you care too much about these races. It's a bad sign. My family has been a gambling family, and you won't know till you grow up how much damage it has done. But it has done damage. I shall have to send Bassett away, and ask Uncle Oscar not to talk racing to you, unless you promise to be reasonable about it: go away to the seaside and forget it. You're all nerves!" 

"I'll do what you like, mother, so long as you don't send me away till after the Derby," the boy said. 

"Send you away from where? Just from this house?" 

"Yes," he said, gazing at her. 

"Why, you curious child, what makes you care about this house so much, suddenly? I never knew you loved it." 

He gazed at her without speaking. He had a secret within a secret, something he had not divulged, even to Bassett or to his Uncle Oscar. 

But his mother, after standing undecided and a little bit sullen for some moments, said: "Very well, then! Don't go to the seaside till after the Derby, if you don't wish it. But promise me you won't think so much about horse-racing and events as you call them!" 

"Oh no," said the boy casually. "I won't think much about them, mother. You needn't worry. I wouldn't worry, mother, if I were you." 

"If you were me and I were you," said his mother, "I wonder what we should do!" 

"But you know you needn't worry, mother, don't you?" the boy repeated. 

"I should be awfully glad to know it," she said wearily. 

"Oh, well, you can, you know. I mean, you ought to know you needn't worry," he insisted. 

"Ought I? Then I'll see about it," she said. 

Paul's secret of secrets was his wooden horse, that which had no name. Since he was emancipated from a nurse and a nursery-governess, he had had his rocking-horse removed to his own bedroom at the top of the house. 

"Surely you're too big for a rocking-horse!" his mother had remonstrated. 

"Well, you see, mother, till I can have a real horse, I like to have some sort of animal about," had been his quaint answer. 

"Do you feel he keeps you company?" she laughed. 

"Oh yes! He's very good, he always keeps me company, when I'm there," said Paul. 

So the horse, rather shabby, stood in an arrested prance in the boy's bedroom. 

The Derby was drawing near, and the boy grew more and more tense. He hardly heard what was spoken to him, he was very frail, and his eyes were really uncanny. His mother had sudden strange seizures (κρίση) of uneasiness about him. Sometimes, for half an hour, she would feel a sudden anxiety about him that was almost anguish. She wanted to rush to him at once, and know he was safe. 

Two nights before the Derby, she was at a big party in town, when one of her rushes of anxiety about her boy, her first-born, gripped her heart till she could hardly speak. She fought with the feeling, might and main, for she believed in common sense. But it was too strong. She had to leave the dance and go downstairs to telephone to the country. The children's nursery-governess was terribly surprised and startled at being rung up in the night. 

"Are the children all right, Miss Wilmot?" 

"Oh yes, they are quite all right." 

"Master Paul? Is he all right?" 

"He went to bed as right as a trivet. Shall I run up and look at him?" 

"No," said Paul's mother reluctantly. "No! Don't trouble. It's all right. Don't sit up. We shall be home fairly soon." She did not want her son's privacy intruded upon. 

"Very good," said the governess. 

It was about one o'clock when Paul's mother and father drove up to their house. All was still. Paul's mother went to her room and slipped off her white fur cloak. She had told her maid not to wait up for her. She heard her husband downstairs, mixing a whisky and soda. 

And then, because of the strange anxiety at her heart, she stole upstairs to her son's room. Noiselessly she went along the upper corridor. Was there a faint noise? What was it? 

She stood, with arrested muscles, outside his door, listening. There was a strange, heavy, and yet not loud noise. Her heart stood still. It was a soundless noise, yet rushing and powerful. Something huge, in violent, hushed motion. What was it? What in God's name was it? She ought to know. She felt that she knew the noise. She knew what it was. 

Yet she could not place it. She couldn't say what it was. And on and on it went, like a madness. 

Softly, frozen with anxiety and fear, she turned the door-handle. 

The room was dark. Yet in the space near the window, she heard and saw something plunging to and fro. She gazed in fear and amazement. 

Then suddenly she switched on the light, and saw her son, in his green pyjamas, madly surging on the rocking-horse. The blaze of light suddenly lit him up, as he urged the wooden horse, and lit her up, as she stood, blonde, in her dress of pale green and crystal, in the doorway. 

"Paul!" she cried. "Whatever are you doing?" 

"It's Malabar!" he screamed in a powerful, strange voice. "It's Malabar!" 

His eyes blazed at her for one strange and senseless second, as he ceased urging his wooden horse. Then he fell with a crash to the ground, and she, all her tormented motherhood flooding upon her, rushed to gather him up. 

But he was unconscious, and unconscious he remained, with some brain-fever. He talked and tossed, and his mother sat stonily by his side. 

"Malabar! It's Malabar! Bassett, Bassett, I know! It's Malabar!" 

So the child cried, trying to get up and urge the rocking-horse that gave him his inspiration. 

"What does he mean by Malabar?" asked the heart-frozen mother. 

"I don't know," said the father stonily. 

"What does he mean by Malabar?" she asked her brother Oscar. 

"It's one of the horses running for the Derby," was the answer. 

And, in spite of himself, Oscar Cresswell spoke to Bassett, and himself put a thousand on Malabar: at fourteen to one. 

The third day of the illness was critical: they were waiting for a change. The boy, with his rather long, curly hair, was tossing ceaselessly on the pillow. He neither slept nor regained consciousness, and his eyes were like blue stones. His mother sat, feeling her heart had gone, turned actually into a stone. 

In the evening Oscar Cresswell did not come, but Bassett sent a message, saying could he come up for one moment, just one moment? Paul's mother was very angry at the intrusion, but on second thoughts she agreed. The boy was the same. Perhaps Bassett might bring him to consciousness. 

The gardener, a shortish fellow with a little brown moustache and sharp little brown eyes, tiptoed into the room, touched his imaginary cap to Paul's mother, and stole to the bedside, staring with glittering, smallish eyes at the tossing, dying child. 

"Master Paul!" he whispered. "Master Paul! Malabar came in first all right, a clean win. I did as you told me. You've made over seventy thousand pounds, you have; you've got over eighty thousand. Malabar came in all right, Master Paul." 

"Malabar! Malabar! Did I say Malabar, mother? Did I say Malabar? Do you think I'm lucky, mother? I knew Malabar, didn't I? Over eighty thousand pounds! I call that lucky, don't you, mother? Over eighty thousand pounds! I knew, didn't I know I knew? Malabar came in all right. If I ride my horse till I'm sure, then I tell you, Bassett, you can go as high as you like. Did you go for all you were worth, Bassett?" 

"I went a thousand on it, Master Paul." 

"I never told you, mother, that if I can ride my horse, and get there, then I'm absolutely sure - oh, absolutely! Mother, did I ever tell you? I am lucky!" 

"No, you never did," said his mother. 

But the boy died in the night. 

And even as he lay dead, his mother heard her brother's voice saying to her, "My God, Hester, you're eighty-odd thousand to the good, and a poor devil of a son to the bad. But, poor devil, poor devil, he's best gone out of a life where he rides his rocking-horse to find a winner."