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JOHN STEINBECK p.p.124-126 The Pastures of Heaven


She awakenеd on a December Saturday morning and found frost in the air and a brilliant sun shining. After breakfast she put on her corduroy skirt and her hiking boots, and left the house. In the yard she tried to persuade the ranch dogs to accompany her, but they only flopped their tails and went back to sleep in the sun.

The Maltby place lay about two miles away in the little canyon called Gato Amarillo. A stream ran beside the road, and ferns grew rankly under the alders. It was almost cold in the canyon, for the sun had not yet climbed over the mountain. Once during her walk Miss Morgan thought she heard footsteps and voices ahead of her, but when she hurried around the bend, no one was in sight. However, the brush beside the road crackled mysteriously.

Although she had never been there before, Miss Molly knew the Maltby land when she came to it. Fences reclined tiredly on the ground under an overload of bramble. The fruit trees stretched bare branches clear of a forest of weeds. Wild blackberry vines (= побеги) clambered up the apple trees; squirrels and rabbits bolted from under her feet, and soft-voiced doves flew away with whistling wings. In a tall wild pear tree a congress of bluejays (= голубые сойки) squawked a cacopho­nous argument. Then, beside an elm tree which wore a shaggy coat of frost-bitten morning glory, Miss Molly saw the mossy, curled shingles of the Maltby roof. The place, in its quietness, might have been deserted for a hundred years. "How rundown and slovenly," she thought. "How utterly lovely and slipshod!" She let herself into the yard through a wicket gate which hung to its post by one iron band. The farm buildings were gray with weathering, and, up the sides of the walls, outlawed climbers pushed their fingers. Miss Molly turned the corner of the house and stopped in her tracks; her mouth fell open arid a chill shriveled on her spine. In the center of the yard a stout post was set up, and to it an old ragged man was bound with many lengths of rope. Another man, younger and smaller, but even more ragged, piled brush about the feet of the captive. Miss Molly shivered and backed around the house corner again. "Such things don't happen," she insisted. "You're dreaming. Such things just can't happen." And then she heard the most amiable of conversations going on between the two men.

"It's nearly ten," said the torturer.

The captive replied, "Yes, and you be careful how you put fire to that brush. You be sure to see them coming before you light it."

Miss Molly nearly screamed with relief. She walked a little unsteadily toward the stake. The free man turned and saw her. For a second he seemed surprised, but immediately recovering, he bowed. Coming from a man with torn overalls and a matted beard, the bow was ridiculous and charming.

"I'm the teacher," Miss Molly explained breath­lessly. "I was just out for a walk, and I saw this house. For a moment I thought this auto-da-fe was serious."

Junius smiled. "But it is serious. It's more serious than you think. For a moment I thought you were the rescue. The relief is due at ten o'clock, you know."

A savage barking of foxes broke out below the house among the willows. "That will be the relief," Junius continued. "Pardon me, Miss Molly, isn't it? I am Junius Maltby and this gentleman on ordinary days is Jakob Stutz. Today, though, he is President of the United States being burned by Indians. For a time we thought he'd be Guenevere,* but even without the full figure, he makes a better President than a Guenevere, don't you think? Besides he refused to wear a skirt."

"Damn foolishness," said the President compla­cently.

Miss Molly laughed. "May I watch the rescue, Mr. Maltby?"

"I'm not Mr. Maltby, I'm three hundred Indians."

The barking of foxes broke out again. "Over by the steps," said the three hundred Indians. "You won't be taken for a redskin and massacred over there." He gazed toward the stream. A willow branch was shaking wildly. Junius scratched a match on his trousers and set fire to the brush at the foot of the stake. As the flame leaped up, the willow trees seemed to burst into pieces and each piece became a shrieking boy. The mass charged forward, armed as haphazardly and as terribly as the French people were when they stormed the Bastille. Even as the fire licked toward the Pres­ident, it was kicked violently aside. The rescuers un­wound the ropes with fervent hands, and Jakob Stutz stood free and happy. Nor was the following cerem­ony less impressive than the rescue. As the boys stood at salute, the President marched down the line and to each overall bib pinned a leaden slug on which the word hero was deeply scratched. The game was over.

*Guenevere - Джиневра, жена легендарного короля Артура, по имени которого назван цикл легенд о рыцарях Круглого стола. В королеву был тайно влюблен благородный рыцарь Ланселот, совершивший во имя ее множество благородных подвигов.




Of every tree

A mountain makes;

Тill pale and faint

At shut of day,

Stoops from the west

One wintry ray.

And, feathered in fire,

Where ghosts the moon,

A robin shrills

His lonely tune.

No break of wind,

No gleam of sun—

Still the white snow

Whirls softly down—

Twig and bough

And blade and thorn

All in an icy Quiet, forlorn.

Whispering, rustling,

Through the air,

On sill and stone,


It heaps its powdery

Crystal flakes;

Music Comes

Music comes

Sweetly from the trembling string

When wizard fingers sweep

Dreamily, half asleep;

When through remembering reeds

Ancient airs and murmurs creep,

Oboe oboe following,

Flute answering clear high flute,

Voices, voices—falling mute,

And the jarring drums.

At night I heard

First a waking bird

Out of the quiet darkness sing . . .

Music comes

Strangely to the brain asleep!

And I heard

Soft, wizard fingers sweep

Music from the trembling string,

And through remembering reeds

Ancient airs and murmurs creep;

Oboe oboe following,

Flute calling clear high flute,

Voices faint, falling mute,

And low jarring drums;

Then all those airs

Sweetly jangled—newly strange,

Rich and change . . .

Was it the wind in the reeds?

Did the wind range

Over the trembling string:

Into flute and oboe pouring

Solemn music; sinking, soaring

Low to high,

Up and down the sky?

Was it the wind jarring

Drowsy far-off drums?

Strangely to the brain asleep

Music comes.

John Freeman

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