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He walked out of the fire station and along the midnight street toward the subway where the silent, air-propelled train slid soundlessly down its lubricated flue (воздуховод) in the earth and let him out with a great puff of warm air on onto the cream-tiled escalator rising to the suburb.

Whistling, he let the escalator waft him into the still night air. He walked toward the corner, thinking little at all about nothing in particular. Before he reached the corner, however, he slowed as if a wind had sprung up from nowhere, as if someone had called his name. His inner mind heard the faintest whisper. Breathing? Or was the atmosphere compressed merely by someone standing very quietly there, waiting?

He turned the corner.

The autumn leaves blew over the moonlit pavement in such a way as to make the girl who was moving there seem fixed to a sliding walk, letting the motion of the wind and the leaves carry her forward. Her head was half bent to watch her shoes stir the circling leaves. Her face was slender and milk-white, and in it was a kind of gentle hunger that touched over everything with tireless curiosity. It was a look, almost, of pale surprise; the dark eyes were so fixed to the world that no move escaped them. Her dress was white and it whispered. He almost thought he heard the motion of her hands as she walked, and the infinitely small sound now, the white stir of her face turning when she discovered she was a moment away from a man who stood in the middle of the pavement waiting.

The trees overhead made a great sound of letting down their dry rain. The girl stopped and looked as if she might pull back in surprise but instead stood regarding  Montag with eyes so dark and shining and alive, that he felt he had said something quite wonderful. But he knew his mouth had only moved to say hello, and then when she seemed hypnotized by the salamander on his arm and the phoenix-disc* on his chest, he spoke again.

‘Of course’, she said, ‘you’re a new neighbour, aren’t you?’

‘And you must be’ – she raised her eyes from his professional symbols – ‘the fireman.’ Her voice trailed off.

‘How oddly you say that’.

‘I'd…I'd have known it with my eyes shut," she said, slowly.

‘What–-the smell of kerosene? My wife always complains,’ he laughed. ‘You never wash it off completely.’

‘No, you don't,’ she whispered ...

‘Kerosene,’ he said, because the silence had lengthened, ‘is nothing but perfume to me.’

‘Does it seem like that, really?’

‘Of course. Why not?’

She gave herself time to think of it. ‘I don’t know’. She turned to face the sidewalk going toward their homes. ‘Do you mind if I walk back with you? I'm Clarisse McClellan.’

‘Clarisse. Guy Montag. What are you doing out so late wandering around? How old are you?’

They walked in the warm-cool blowing night on the silvered pavement and there was the faintest breath of fresh apricots and strawberries in the air, and he looked around and realized this was quite impossible, so late in the year.

There was only the girl was walking with him now, her face bright as snow in the moonlight, and he knew she was working with his questions around, seeking the best answers she could give.

“Well,” she said, “I’m seventeen and I’m crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane. Isn’t this a nice time of night to walk? I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sun rise”.

They walked on again in silence. (2878)

the phoenix [‘fi:niks] disc – a round emblem of firemen

Your World

Your world is as big as you make it.

In the narrowest nest in a corner,

My wings pressing close to my side.

But I sighted the distant horizon

There the sky line encircled the sea

And I throbbed with a burning desire

To travel this immensity.

I battered the cordons around me

And cradled my wings on the breeze

Then soared to the uttermost reaches

With  rapture, with power, with ease!

Georgia Douglas Johnson

443086, г.Самара ул. Потапова, 64/163, к. к.203,204,205
телефон (846)926-05-59, факс (846)926-05-59, samgueng@mail.ru