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Повелитель мух / Lord of the Flies

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Piggy shook his head.

“You have to have a lot of metal things for that,” he said, “and we haven’t got no metal. But we got a stick.”

Ralph turned and smiled involuntarily. Piggy was a bore; his fat, his ass-mar and his matter-of-fact ideas were dull, but there was always a little pleasure to be got out of pulling his leg, even if one did it by accident.

Piggy saw the smile and misinterpreted it as friendliness. There had grown up tacitly among the biguns the opinion that Piggy was an outsider, not only by accent, which did not matter, but by fat, and ass-mar, and specs, and a certain disinclination for manual labor. Now, finding that something he had said made Ralph smile, he rejoiced and pressed his advantage.

“We got a lot of sticks. We could have a sundial each. Then we should know what the time was.”

“A fat lot of good that would be.”

“You said you wanted things done. So as we could be rescued.”

“Oh, shut up.”

He leapt to his feet and trotted back to the pool, just as Maurice did a rather poor dive.

Ralph was glad of a chance to change the subject. He shouted as Maurice came to the surface.

“Belly flop! Belly flop!”

Maurice flashed a smile at Ralph who slid easily into the water. Of all the boys, he was the most at home there; but today, irked by the mention of rescue, the useless, footling mention of rescue, even the green depths of water and the shattered, golden sun held no balm. Instead of remaining and playing, he swam with steady strokes under Simon and crawled out of the other side of the pool to lie there, sleek and streaming like a seal. Piggy, always clumsy, stood up and came to stand by him, so that Ralph rolled on his stomach and pretended not to see. The mirages had died away and gloomily he ran his eye along the taut blue line of the horizon.

The next moment he was on his feet and shouting.

“Smoke! Smoke!”

Simon tried to sit up in the water and got a mouthful. Maurice, who had been standing ready to dive, swayed back on his heels, made a bolt for the platform, then swerved back to the grass under the palms. There he started to pull on his tattered shorts, to be ready for anything.

Ralph stood, one hand holding back his hair, the other clenched. Simon was climbing out of the water. Piggy was rubbing his glasses on his shorts and squinting at the sea. Maurice had got both legs through one leg of his shorts. Of all the boys, only Ralph was still.

“I can’t see no smoke,” said Piggy incredulously. “I can’t see no smoke, Ralph—where is it?”

Ralph said nothing. Now both his hands were clenched over his forehead so that the fair hair was kept out of his eyes. He was leaning forward and already the salt was whitening his body.

“Ralph—where’s the ship?”

Simon stood by, looking from Ralph to the horizon. Maurice’s trousers gave way with a sigh and he abandoned them as a wreck, rushed toward the forest, and then came back again.

The smoke was a tight little knot on the horizon and was uncoiling slowly. Beneath the smoke was a dot that might be a funnel. Ralph’s face was pale as he spoke to himself.

“They’ll see our smoke.”

Piggy was looking in the right direction now.

“It don’t look much.”

He turned round and peered up at the mountain. Ralph continued to watch the ship, ravenously. Color was coming back into his face. Simon stood by him, silent.

“I know I can’t see very much,” said Piggy, “but have we got any smoke?”

Ralph moved impatiently, still watching the ship.

“The smoke on the mountain.”

Maurice came running, and stared out to sea. Both Simon and Piggy were looking up at the mountain. Piggy screwed up his face but Simon cried out as though he had hurt himself.

“Ralph! Ralph!”

The quality of his speech twisted Ralph on the sand.

“You tell me,” said Piggy anxiously. “Is there a signal?”

Ralph looked back at the dispersing smoke in the horizon, then up at the mountain.

“Ralph—please! Is there a signal?”

Simon put out his hand, timidly, to touch Ralph; but Ralph started to run, splashing through the shallow end of the bathing pool, across the hot, white sand and under the palms.

A moment later he was battling with the complex undergrowth that was already engulfing the scar. Simon ran after him, then Maurice. Piggy shouted.

“Ralph! Please—Ralph!”

Then he too started to run, stumbling over Maurice’s discarded shorts before he was across the terrace. Behind the four boys, the smoke moved gently along the horizon; and on the beach, Henry and Johnny were throwing sand at Percival who was crying quietly again; and all three were in complete ignorance of the excitement.

By the time Ralph had reached the landward end of the scar he was using precious breath to swear. He did desperate violence to his naked body among the rasping creepers so that blood was sliding over him. Just where the steep ascent of the mountain began, he stopped. Maurice was only a few yards behind him.

“Piggy’s specs!” shouted Ralph. “If the fire’s all out, we’ll need them—”

He stopped shouting and swayed on his feet. Piggy was only just visible, bumbling up from the beach. Ralph looked at the horizon, then up to the mountain. Was it better to fetch Piggy’s glasses, or would the ship have gone? Or if they climbed on, supposing the fire was all out, and they had to watch Piggy crawling nearer and the ship sinking under the horizon?

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