Английские тексты - The white silence27 июль 2009
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A group of three, two men and an Indian woman, the wife of one of them, stopped to rest in the middle of the day. The dogs lay in their harnesses. The people and the dogs were cold and hungry. They had two hundred miles of unbroken trail in prospect,? with a scanty six days`food? for the people and none for the dogs.
“No more lunches after today”, said Malemute Kid. Then he added that had to keep a close eye on the dogs,? because the animals would eat one of the weakest dogs.
The woman, Ruth by name, made coffee and gave it to both men. Her husband began speaking with her in the language which only they understood. He told Ruth that soon they would finish their traveling and would live in a big house. They would have plenty of food. A great love for white lord was seen in the eyes of the woman, because he was the first white man who treated a woman as something better than a mere animal or a beast of burden.?
Their conversation was interrupted by a row among the dogs. In some minutes the dogs were separated and sleds were ready for the trail.
It is very difficult to break the trail? in the Northland. The snow is deep and every step people sink till the snow is level with their knees.? And what makes it more difficult is the While Silence. Everything is white, everything is silent, everything is sunlit. All movement stops. People are frightened at the sounds of their own voices. And the fear of death comes over them.
The day wore away.? The river took a great bend,?? and Mason, Ruth’s husband, decided to cut off their way. They had to go up a high bank. The dogs, weak from hunger, exerted their last strength. Up-up-the sled moved to the top of the bank. But suddenly one of the dogs, the weakest, fell. The result was terrible. Mason was knocked off his feet. The sled and all the dogs fell to the bottom again. Mason began to beat the dog cruelly, and Malemute Kid asked him not to do it because the dog was very weak.
It was a terrible moment – a dying dog and two men in anger. Ruth looked from man to man but did not say a word.
They had another try,?? and this time the difficulty was overcome. Mason was walking at the head of group, little thinking that danger hovered in the air. Some feet away from the trail he saw a big pine. For many centuries it stopped there. Mason stopped to fasten his moccasin. The sleds stopped to wait for him, the dogs lay down in the snow. The stillness was terrible; the cold and silence had chilled the heart and lips of nature. Then the great tree, burdened with its weight of years and snow, fell. It fell on Mason’s shoulder.
The sudden danger, the quick death – how often had Malemute Kid faced it!
He jumped to his feet.? Quick action was necessary. The Indian woman did not faint, as might do many of her white sisters. She helped Malemute Kid take her husband from under the tree. In the snow they saw what once was a man.? Mason was terribly crushed. His right arm, leg and back were broken; his limbs were paralyzed. There was no sign of life in him. But worse than Mason’s pain was the silent pain in the woman’s eyes.
Little was said. With the temperature at sixty-five below zero, a man cannot lie in the snow and live. They made a big fore, rolled Mason in furs and laid him on the bed of branches.
No hope; nothing to be done.? Mason was conscious-less. The night fell slowly. Ruth was stoic in her despair.
Next morning Mason came to himself. He asked Malemute Kid not to send Ruth back to her people. It would be very hard for her, he said, because almost four years she lived on bacon, beans, flour and dried fruit. And then he added:
“And the child, Kid, I only hope it will be a boy. See that he gets a good schooling:?? and, above all,?? don’t let him come back. This country is for white people”.
Then Mason asked Malemute Kid to leave him and continue their way. Kid asked to give him only three days. Perhaps, he said, Mason would be better. But Mason did not agree. Kid asked him once more, and at last Mason gave him only one day, and not a minute more. Then he asked Malemute Kid not to leave him to face death alone.??
“Just a shot??”, he said. “You understand. And now send Ruth here. I want to say good-bye and tell her that she must think of the boy, and not wait till I die. She may refuse to go with you, if I don’t say. Good-bye, old man”.
Malemute Kid sent Ruth to Mason, and himself took the gun and went to the forest. He wanted to kill a caribou, but he didn't see a single one.
When approaching the camp he heard an uproar of the dogs and cries of Ruth. The dogs had broken the iron rule of their masters and were eating the stock of food. With great difficulty the people stopped the dogs and Ruth returned to her husband.
Next morning Mason was still alive. Malemute Kid made a cache such as those which hunters make to save their meat from wolves and dogs. Then he bent the tops of two pines nearly to the ground and tied them. He wrapped furs round Mason and tied them with a rope and each end of the rope he tied to the bent pines. A single stroke of his hunting knife and the body will go high in the air.
The he harnessed the dogs to two sleds and told Ruth to start. She had received her husband’s wish and she did what Malemute Kid told her.
Malemute returned to Mason hoping, waiting that his friend would die.
It was not pleasant to be alone with painful thoughts in the White Silence. The bright White Silence, clear and cold, under steely skies, is pitiless.
An hour passed - two hours – but the man would not die.? At last Malemute Kid came up to his friend. He looked around, the White Silence was terrible, and a great fear came upon him. There was a sharp shot,? Mason swung into his aeriel sepulcher,? and Malemute Kid galloped the dogs across the snow.
THE WHITE SILENCE
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