Mrs. Figg (arabella_doreen) wrote,
Mrs. Figg

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, the book - 3

A magician's house is expected to have certain pecularities, but the most peculiar feature of Mr Norrell's house was, without a doubt, Childermass. In no other house-hold in London was there any servant like him. One day he might be observed removing a dirty cup and wiping crumbs from a table like a common footman. The next day he would interrupt a room full of admirals, generals and noblemen to tell them in what particulars he considered them mistaken. Mr Norrell had once publicly reprimanded the Duke of Devonshire for speaking at the same time as Childermass.

The portrait shewed Mr Norell in his plain grey coat and his old-fashioned wig. Both coat and wig seemed a little too large for him. He appeared to have withdrawn inside them and his small, blue eyes looked out at the world with a curious mixture of fearfulness and arrogance that put Sir Walter Pole in mind of his valet's cat. Most people, it seemed, were having to put themselves to a little effort to find any thing flattering to say of Mr Norrell's half of the picture, but everyone was happy to admire Strange's half. Strange was painted behind Mr Norrell, half-sitting, half-leaning against a little table, entirely at his ease, with his mocking half-smile and his eyes full of smiles and secrets and spells - just as magicians' eyes should be.

Стрендж и коты.

Strange did not return to the battle. Instead, he walked to Quatre Bras farm, just behind the British lines. The farm was quite deserted. Doors stood open; curtains billowed out of windows; a scythe and hoe had been thrown down in the dust in the haste to get away. In the milk-smelling gloom of the dairy he found a cat with some newborn kittens. Whenever the guns sounded (which was often) the cat trembled. He fetched her some water and spoke to her gently. Then he sat down upon the cool flagstones and placed his map before him.

One morning around the middle of December he arrived at the Hall and found a man seated, quite at his ease, upon the steps. Though he did not believe he had ever seen the man before, he knew him instantly: he was Bad Fortune personified; he was the Ruin of Mr Segundus's Hopes and Dreams. The man was dressed in a black coat of an old-fashioned cut, as worn and shabby as Mr Segundus's own, and he had mud on his boots. With his long, ragged dark hair he looked like the portent of doom in a bad play. "Mr Segundus, you cannot do this" he said in a Yorkshire accent.

As soon as Mr Lascelles had gone, Mr Norrell called for a silver dish of clear water to be brought to him in his room on the second floor. In Shropshire, Strange was working upon his book. He did not look up, but suddenly he smiled a little wryly and wagged his finger at the empty air as if to tell some unseen person No. All the mirrors in the room had been turned to face the wall and, though Mr Norrell spent several hours bent over his silver dish, by the end of the evening he was no wiser.

Mr Norrell was at least as susceptible to flattery as most men and he began to think that perhaps he was indeed doing something unusualy virtuous. He extended his hand with the intention of patting Childermass's hand in a friendly and condescending manner. However, upon meeting Childermass's cold stare, he thought better of it, coughed and left the room.

Strange, smiling, considered a moment. "That is a good answer," he said at last, "but not quite good enough, I am afraid. I do not believe that you can truly support Norrell's side. One magician in England! One opinion upon magic! Surely you do not agree with that? There is at least as much contrariness in your character as in mine. Why not come and be contrary with me?"

Опять Стрендж и коты.

"Such nonsence!" declared Dr Greysteel. "Whoever heard of cats doing anything useful!" "Except for staring at one in a supercilious manner," said Strange. "That has a sort of moral usefulness, I suppose, in making one feel uncomfortable and encouraging sober reflection upon one's imperfections."

"... Do the magic, Mr Segundus." So Mr Segundus did the magic.

"You are wrong," he said to Childermass. "He is not dead." He came and stood directly before Childermass. With as little ceremony as a parent who cleans something from a child's face, the man licked his finger and daubed a sort of symbol on each of Childermass's eye-lids, on his lips and over his heart. Then he gave Childermass's left hand a knock, so that the pistol fell to the ground. He drew another symbol on Childermass's palm. He turned and seemed about to depart, but glancing back and apparently as an afterthought, he made a final gesture over the cut in Childermass's face.
Tags: jonathan strange and mr norrell, чтение
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