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Michael Morpurgo


14. War Horse.


ќбсуждение Morpurgo Michael:

01.11.2013 15:07 Guest: Morpurgo Michael

popopopopopopop

01.11.2013 15:07 Guest: Morpurgo Michael

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01.11.2013 15:09 Guest: Morpurgo Michael

CooperТs Station and Piggy Bacon and GodТs Work


I think it was from the moment they first shut us in the dormitory block at CooperТs Station, and we heard the door bolted behind us, that I have hated walls about me and locked doors. I never lock the doors of my house even now Ц never. Ever since CooperТs Station, doors and walls have made me feel like a prisoner. I was about to find out, as we all were, not what it was like to be a prisoner, but what it was to be a prisoner. Worse still we were slaves too.

IТve had a lot of time to think things over since. IТm still angry about CooperТs Station, about what they did to us there. But we werenТt the first. Two hundred years or so before we were sent out from England to Australia, others had made the same journey we did. They had come in chains in the stinking bowels of transport ships. We may have come in a beautiful ship, with pillar-box-red funnels and an orchestra, but we were prisoners just like them. And they must have very soon discovered, as we did, that you werenТt just a prisoner, you were a slave as well, and that when youТre a slave they donТt just take away your freedom, they take away everything else as well because they own you. They own you body and soul. And the soul, we were about to find out, was particularly important to our owners.

I canТt pretend I had any understanding of all this then, lying there clutching my lucky key in the sweltering darkness of the dormitory during my first night at CooperТs Station, but I knew already that the dream had died. Marty lay in the bunk next to me, stunned to silence like the rest of us. He cried that night, the only time I ever heard Marty cry. I knew now this brand-new country we had come to was not a paradise after all. It was, as we were soon to discover, a hell on earth Ц a hell specially devised for children by Mr Bacon, Piggy Bacon we called him, who was to be our gaoler, slave-master, preacher and brand-new father, all in one.

I can honestly say that Piggy Bacon was the only person in all my life that I ever wanted to kill. But to be fair to him, he did at least tell it to us straight. That first morning at CooperТs Station, after washing from the buckets lined up out on the verandah, after our breakfast of lukewarm, lumpy porridge, he told us exactly why we were there. We were all gathered there shivering outside the dormitory block. Mrs Bacon was at his side in her blue dungarees and flowery apron, tiny alongside his great bulk. He was a great thickset bull of a man, red-faced with short, cropped ginger hair and a clipped ginger moustache, and little pink eyes Ц even his eyelashes were ginger. He always seemed to me like a man on fire and about to explode. His vast stomach looked as if it was only just held in by his checked shirt and broad belt, a belt every one of us would have good cause to fear as the months passed. He wore knee-length boots which heТd whack irritably from time to time with the stick he used to carry Ц the same stick he would use for punctuating his speeches Ц speeches which, like this one,always turned into sermons. Sometimes heТd carry a whip for cracking at the dogs, at the cattle or the horses, or us if he felt like it. Stick or whip, it didnТt matter to us Ц we came to fear both just as much.

Mrs Bacon smiled the same fixed nervous smile that day that I so often saw afterwards. We didnТt know the reason she was nervous, not then. She seemed shrunk inside her dungarees Ц I think she always wore the same blue dungarees, only the aprons changed. I sensed from the first that Mrs Bacon was frightened, that she was hiding something. Her face was drained of all colour. I never in my life saw a woman look more weary. She stood there, her eyes downcast, as Piggy Bacon told us all the whys and wherefores, the doТs and donТts of CooperТs Station.

УYou can count yourselves very lucky,Ф he began, Уthat Mrs Bacon and I have taken you in. No one else would, you know. We did it out of the kindness of our hearts, didnТt we, Mrs Bacon? Out of the kindness of our hearts, thatТs what it was. You are the little ones no one else wanted. You are the little ones thrown out of the nest, rejected and with no home to go to, no one to look after you, no one even to feed you. But we will, wonТt we, Mrs Bacon? We will feed you and house you, we will clothe you and teach you about hard work and the ways of God. What more could a child ever want? Mrs Bacon and I are God fearinТ folk, Christian folk. We were brought up to know our duty. СSuffer little children to come unto me,Т the good Lord said. So we are doing his will, and this we shall train you to do as well. A child is born sinful and must be bent to the will of God. That is now our task.

УSo we have offered to take you in, at our own expense mind, out of good Christian charity. We have built you this home for your shelter Ц your shelter from the storm of life. You will help us make a garden of Eden, a paradise out of this wilderness. Mrs Bacon and I will be like a mother and father to you, wonТt we, Mrs Bacon? And your training in the ways of the Lord will begin right now. There will be no swearing, no idleness Ц I promise you, you will be kept too busy ever to be idle. You will work to earn your keep. And you will work because the Devil makes work for idle hands. If you work we shall feed you well. If you work well you may play for one hour at the end of each day, the last hour before sundown.

УLook out there!Ф he roared suddenly, waving his stick towards the horizon. УLook! Do you see? Nothing. Nothing but wilderness as far as the eye can see, and that nothing goes on for miles and miles north, south, east and west. So donТt you ever think of running off. YouТd go round in circles out there. YouТd die of thirst, be shrivelled up by the sun. The snakes would bite you, the crocs would eat you up, or the dingo dogs would tear you to pieces. And even if you survived all that, the black fellows would soon find you Ц they always do what I say Ц and theyТd just bring you right back here to CooperТs Station. IsnТt that right, Mrs Bacon?Ф

Mrs Bacon did not respond. She just stayed there beside him, eyes still lowered, while he ranted on.

When she thought heТd finished she walked away towards the farmhouse, followed closely by her dun-coloured dog, a furtive frightened creature like his mistress, who slunk along behind her, his tail between his legs. But Piggy Bacon had not finished, not quite. He glared after her, and then slapped his boot with his stick. УItТs GodТs work weТre doing,Ф he said. УGodТs work. Always remember that.Ф

And so to GodТs work we went.


01.11.2013 15:09 Guest: Morpurgo Michael

CooperТs Station and Piggy Bacon and GodТs Work


I think it was from the moment they first shut us in the dormitory block at CooperТs Station, and we heard the door bolted behind us, that I have hated walls about me and locked doors. I never lock the doors of my house even now Ц never. Ever since CooperТs Station, doors and walls have made me feel like a prisoner. I was about to find out, as we all were, not what it was like to be a prisoner, but what it was to be a prisoner. Worse still we were slaves too.

IТve had a lot of time to think things over since. IТm still angry about CooperТs Station, about what they did to us there. But we werenТt the first. Two hundred years or so before we were sent out from England to Australia, others had made the same journey we did. They had come in chains in the stinking bowels of transport ships. We may have come in a beautiful ship, with pillar-box-red funnels and an orchestra, but we were prisoners just like them. And they must have very soon discovered, as we did, that you werenТt just a prisoner, you were a slave as well, and that when youТre a slave they donТt just take away your freedom, they take away everything else as well because they own you. They own you body and soul. And the soul, we were about to find out, was particularly important to our owners.

I canТt pretend I had any understanding of all this then, lying there clutching my lucky key in the sweltering darkness of the dormitory during my first night at CooperТs Station, but I knew already that the dream had died. Marty lay in the bunk next to me, stunned to silence like the rest of us. He cried that night, the only time I ever heard Marty cry. I knew now this brand-new country we had come to was not a paradise after all. It was, as we were soon to discover, a hell on earth Ц a hell specially devised for children by Mr Bacon, Piggy Bacon we called him, who was to be our gaoler, slave-master, preacher and brand-new father, all in one.

I can honestly say that Piggy Bacon was the only person in all my life that I ever wanted to kill. But to be fair to him, he did at least tell it to us straight. That first morning at CooperТs Station, after washing from the buckets lined up out on the verandah, after our breakfast of lukewarm, lumpy porridge, he told us exactly why we were there. We were all gathered there shivering outside the dormitory block. Mrs Bacon was at his side in her blue dungarees and flowery apron, tiny alongside his great bulk. He was a great thickset bull of a man, red-faced with short, cropped ginger hair and a clipped ginger moustache, and little pink eyes Ц even his eyelashes were ginger. He always seemed to me like a man on fire and about to explode. His vast stomach looked as if it was only just held in by his checked shirt and broad belt, a belt every one of us would have good cause to fear as the months passed. He wore knee-length boots which heТd whack irritably from time to time with the stick he used to carry Ц the same stick he would use for punctuating his speeches Ц speeches which, like this one,always turned into sermons. Sometimes heТd carry a whip for cracking at the dogs, at the cattle or the horses, or us if he felt like it. Stick or whip, it didnТt matter to us Ц we came to fear both just as much.

Mrs Bacon smiled the same fixed nervous smile that day that I so often saw afterwards. We didnТt know the reason she was nervous, not then. She seemed shrunk inside her dungarees Ц I think she always wore the same blue dungarees, only the aprons changed. I sensed from the first that Mrs Bacon was frightened, that she was hiding something. Her face was drained of all colour. I never in my life saw a woman look more weary. She stood there, her eyes downcast, as Piggy Bacon told us all the whys and wherefores, the doТs and donТts of CooperТs Station.

УYou can count yourselves very lucky,Ф he began, Уthat Mrs Bacon and I have taken you in. No one else would, you know. We did it out of the kindness of our hearts, didnТt we, Mrs Bacon? Out of the kindness of our hearts, thatТs what it was. You are the little ones no one else wanted. You are the little ones thrown out of the nest, rejected and with no home to go to, no one to look after you, no one even to feed you. But we will, wonТt we, Mrs Bacon? We will feed you and house you, we will clothe you and teach you about hard work and the ways of God. What more could a child ever want? Mrs Bacon and I are God fearinТ folk, Christian folk. We were brought up to know our duty. СSuffer little children to come unto me,Т the good Lord said. So we are doing his will, and this we shall train you to do as well. A child is born sinful and must be bent to the will of God. That is now our task.

УSo we have offered to take you in, at our own expense mind, out of good Christian charity. We have built you this home for your shelter Ц your shelter from the storm of life. You will help us make a garden of Eden, a paradise out of this wilderness. Mrs Bacon and I will be like a mother and father to you, wonТt we, Mrs Bacon? And your training in the ways of the Lord will begin right now. There will be no swearing, no idleness Ц I promise you, you will be kept too busy ever to be idle. You will work to earn your keep. And you will work because the Devil makes work for idle hands. If you work we shall feed you well. If you work well you may play for one hour at the end of each day, the last hour before sundown.

УLook out there!Ф he roared suddenly, waving his stick towards the horizon. УLook! Do you see? Nothing. Nothing but wilderness as far as the eye can see, and that nothing goes on for miles and miles north, south, east and west. So donТt you ever think of running off. YouТd go round in circles out there. YouТd die of thirst, be shrivelled up by the sun. The snakes would bite you, the crocs would eat you up, or the dingo dogs would tear you to pieces. And even if you survived all that, the black fellows would soon find you Ц they always do what I say Ц and theyТd just bring you right back here to CooperТs Station. IsnТt that right, Mrs Bacon?Ф

Mrs Bacon did not respond. She just stayed there beside him, eyes still lowered, while he ranted on.

When she thought heТd finished she walked away towards the farmhouse, followed closely by her dun-coloured dog, a furtive frightened creature like his mistress, who slunk along behind her, his tail between his legs. But Piggy Bacon had not finished, not quite. He glared after her, and then slapped his boot with his stick. УItТs GodТs work weТre doing,Ф he said. УGodТs work. Always remember that.Ф

And so to GodТs work we went.



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