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Повелитель мух / Lord of the Flies

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“It’s like in a book.”

At once there was a clamor.

“Treasure Island—”

“Swallows and Amazons—”

“Coral Island—”

Ralph waved the conch.

“This is our island. It’s a good island. Until the grownups come to fetch us we’ll have fun.”

Jack held out his hand for the conch.

“There’s pigs,” he said. “There’s food; and bathing water in that little stream along there—and everything. Didn’t anyone find anything else?”

He handed the conch back to Ralph and sat down. Apparently no one had found anything.

The older boys first noticed the child when he resisted. There was a group of little boys urging him forward and he did not want to go. He was a shrimp of a boy, about six years old, and one side of his face was blotted out by a mulberry-colored birthmark. He stood now, warped out of the perpendicular by the fierce light of publicity, and he bored into the coarse grass with one toe. He was muttering and about to cry.

The other little boys, whispering but serious, pushed him toward Ralph.

“All right,” said Ralph, “come on then.”

The small boy looked round in panic.

“Speak up!”

The small boy held out his hands for the conch and the assembly shouted with laughter; at once he snatched back his hands and started to cry.

“Let him have the conch!” shouted Piggy. “Let him have it!”

At last Ralph induced him to hold the shell but by then the blow of laughter had taken away the child’s voice. Piggy knelt by him, one hand on the great shell, listening and interpreting to the assembly.

“He wants to know what you’re going to do about the snake-thing.”

Ralph laughed, and the other boys laughed with him. The small boy twisted further into himself[9 - twisted further into himself – сжался еще сильнее].

“Tell us about the snake-thing.”

“Now he says it was a beastie.”


“A snake-thing. Ever so big. He saw it.”


“In the woods.”

Either the wandering breezes or perhaps the decline of the sun allowed a little coolness to lie under the trees. The boys felt it and stirred restlessly.

“You couldn’t have a beastie, a snake-thing, on an island this size,” Ralph explained kindly. “You only get them in big countries, like Africa, or India.”

Murmur; and the grave nodding of heads.

“He says the beastie came in the dark.”

“Then he couldn’t see it!”

Laughter and cheers.

“Did you hear that? Says he saw the thing in the dark—”

“He still says he saw the beastie. It came and went away again an’ came back and wanted to eat him—”

“He was dreaming.”

Laughing, Ralph looked for confirmation round the ring of faces. The older boys agreed; but here and there among the little ones was the doubt that required more than rational assurance.

“He must have had a nightmare. Stumbling about among all those creepers.”

More grave nodding; they knew about nightmares. “He says he saw the beastie, the snake-thing, and will it come back tonight?”

“But there isn’t a beastie!”

“He says in the morning it turned into them things like ropes in the trees and hung in the branches. He says will it come back tonight?”

“But there isn’t a beastie!”

There was no laughter at all now and more grave watching. Ralph pushed both hands through his hair and looked at the little boy in mixed amusement and exasperation.

Jack seized the conch.

“Ralph’s right of course. There isn’t a snake-thing. But if there was a snake we’d hunt it and kill it. We’re going to hunt pigs to get meat for everybody. And we’ll look for the snake too—”

“But there isn’t a snake!”

“We’ll make sure when we go hunting.”

Ralph was annoyed and, for the moment, defeated. He felt himself facing something ungraspable. The eyes that looked so intently at him were without humor.

“But there isn’t a beast!”

Something he had not known was there rose in him and compelled him to make the point, loudly and again.

“But I tell you there isn’t a beast!”

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