Roald Dahl


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    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    I was ecstatic. I rushed home and told my mother. ‘And I’ll be gone for three years,’ I said.

    I was her only son and we were very close. Most mothers, faced with a situation like this, would have shown a certain amount of distress. Three years is a long time and Africa was far away. There would be no visits in between. But my mother did not allow even the tiniest bit of what she must have felt to disturb my joy. ‘Oh, well done you!’ she cried. ‘It’s wonderful news! And it’s just where you wanted to go, isn’t it!’

    The whole family came down to London Docks to see me off on the boat. It was a tremendous thing in those days for a young man to be going off to Africa to work. The journey alone would take two weeks, sailing through the Bay of Biscay, past Gibraltar, across the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, calling in at Aden and arriving finally at Mombasa.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Then suddenly, in 1936, I was summoned back to Head Office in London. One of the Directors wished to see me. ‘We are sending you to Egypt,’ he said. ‘It will be a three-year tour, then six months’ leave. Be ready to go in one week’s time.’

    ‘Oh, but sir!’ I cried out. ‘Not Egypt! I really don’t want to go to Egypt!’

    The great man reeled back in his chair as though I had slapped him in the face with a plate of poached eggs. ‘Egypt’, he said slowly, ‘is one of our finest and most important areas. We are doing you a favour in sending you there instead of to some mosquito-ridden place in the swamps!’

    I kept silent.

    ‘May I ask why you do not wish to go to Egypt?’ he said.

    I knew perfectly well why, but I didn’t know how to put it. What I wanted was jungles and lions and elephants and tall coconut palms swaying on silvery beaches, and Egypt had none of that. Egypt was desert country. It was bare and sandy and full of tombs and relics and Egyptians and I didn’t fancy it at all.

    ‘What is wrong with Egypt?’ the Director asked me again.

    ‘It’s… it’s… it’s’, I stammered, ‘it’s too dusty, sir.’

    The man stared at me. ‘Too what?’ he cried.

    ‘Dusty,’ I said.

    ‘Dusty!’ he shouted. ‘Too dusty! I’ve never heard such rubbish!’

    There was a long silence. I was expecting him to tell me to fetch my hat and coat and leave the building for ever. But he didn’t do that. He was an awfully nice man and his name was Mr Godber. He gave a deep sigh and rubbed a hand over his eyes and said, ‘Very well then, if that’s the way you want it. Redfearn will go to Egypt instead of you and you will have to take the next posting that comes up, dusty or not. Do you understand?’

    ‘Yes, sir, I realize that.’

    ‘If the next vacancy happens to be Siberia,’ he said, ‘you’ll have to take it.’

    ‘I quite understand, sir,’ I said. ‘And thank you very much.’

    Within a week Mr Godber summoned me again to his office. ‘You’re going to East Africa,’ he said.

    ‘Hooray!’ I shouted, jumping up and down. ‘That’s marvellous, sir! That’s wonderful! How terrific!’

    The great man smiled. ‘It’s quite dusty there too,’ he said.

    ‘Lions!’ I cried. ‘And elephants and giraffes and coconuts everywhere!’

    ‘Your boat leaves from London Docks in six days,’ he said. ‘You get off at Mombasa. Your salary will be five hundred pounds per annum and your tour is for three years.’
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    For three weeks we trudged all over that desolate land with enormous loads on our backs. We carried tents and groundsheets and sleeping-bags and saucepans and food and axes and everything else one needs in the interior of an unmapped, uninhabitable and inhospitable country. My own load, I know, weighed exactly one hundred and fourteen pounds, and someone else always had to help me hoist the rucksack on to my back in the mornings. We lived on pemmican and lentils, and the twelve of us who went separately on what was called the Long March from the north to the south of the island and back again suffered a good deal from lack of food. I can remember very clearly how we experimented with eating boiled lichen and reindeer moss to supplement our diet. But it was a genuine adventure and I returned home hard and fit and ready for anything.

    There followed two years of intensive training with the Shell Company in England. We were seven trainees in that year’s group and each one of us was being carefully prepared to uphold the majesty of the Shell Company in one or another remote tropical country. We spent weeks at the huge Shell Haven Refinery with a special instructor who taught us all about fuel oil and diesel oil and gas oil and lubricating oil and kerosene and gasoline.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    I was accepted by Imperial Chemicals and by the Finnish lumber company, but for some reason I wanted most of all to get into the Shell Company. When the day came for me to go up to London for this interview, my Housemaster told me it was ridiculous for me even to try. ‘The Eastern Staff of Shell are the crème de la crème,’ he said. ‘There will be at least one hundred applicants and about five vacancies. Nobody has a hope unless he’s been Head of the School or Head of the House, and you aren’t even a House Prefect!’

    My Housemaster was right about the applicants. There were one hundred and seven boys waiting to be interviewed when I arrived at the Head Office of the Shell Company in London. And there were seven places to be filled. Please don’t ask me how I got one of those places. I don’t know myself. But get it I did, and when I told my Housemaster the good news on my return to school, he didn’t congratulate me or shake me warmly by the hand. He turned away muttering, ‘All I can say is I’m damned glad I don’t own any shares in Shell.’

    I didn’t care any longer what my Housemaster thought. I was all set. I had a career. It was lovely. I was to leave school for ever in July 1934 and join the Shell Company two months later in September when I would be exactly eighteen. I was to be an Eastern Staff Trainee at a salary of five pounds a week.

    That summer, for the first time in my life, I did not accompany the family to Norway. I somehow felt the need for a special kind of last fling before I became a businessman. So while still at school during my last term, I signed up to spend August with something
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    During my last year at Repton, my mother said to me, ‘Would you like to go to Oxford or Cambridge when you leave school?’ In those days it was not difficult to get into either of these great universities so long as you could pay.

    ‘No, thank you,’ I said. ‘I want to go straight from school to work for a company that will send me to wonderful faraway places like Africa or China.’

    You must remember that there was virtually no air travel in the early 1930s. Africa was two weeks away from England by boat and it took you about five weeks to get to China. These were distant and magic lands and nobody went to them just for a holiday. You went there to work. Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours and nothing is fabulous any more. But it was a very different matter in 1934.

    So during my last term I applied for a job only to those companies that would be sure to send me abroad.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    It was he and only he who had it in his power to invite this master or that to play against him and his team on certain afternoons. All these responsibilities were given to me when I became Captain of Fives. Then came the snag. It was more or less taken for granted that a Captain would be made a Boazer in recognition of his talents – if not a School Boazer then certainly a House Boazer. But the authorities did not like me. I was not to be trusted. I did not like rules. I was unpredictable. I was therefore not Boazer material. There was no way they would agree to make me a House Boazer, let alone a School Boazer. Some people are born to wield power and to exercise authority. I was not one of them. I was in full agreement with my Housemaster when he explained this to me. I would have made a rotten Boazer. I would have let down the whole principle of Boazerdom by refusing to beat the Fags. I was probably the only Captain of any game who has never become a Boazer at Repton. I was certainly the only unBoazered Double Captain, because I was also Captain of squash-racquets. And to pile glory upon glory, I was in the school football team as well.

    A boy who is good at games is usually treated with great civility by the masters at an English Public School. In much the same way, the ancient Greeks revered their athletes and made statues of them in marble. Athletes were the demigods, the chosen few. They could perform glamorous feats beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. Even today, fine footballers and baseball players and runners and all other great sportsmen are much admired by the general public and advertisers use them to sell breakfast cereals. This never happened to me, and if you really want to know, I’m awfully glad it didn’t.

    But because I loved playing games, life for me at Repton was not totally without pleasure. Games-playing at school is always fun if you happen to be good at it, and it is hell if you are not. I was one of the lucky ones, and all those afternoons on the playing-fields and in the fives courts and in the squash courts made the otherwise grey and melancholy days pass a lot more quickly.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    A Captain of any game, whether it was football, cricket, fives or squash, had many other duties.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    basically it consists of hitting a small, hard, white, leather-covered ball with your gloved hands. The Americans have something like it which they call handball, but Eton-fives is far more complicated because the court has all manner of ledges and buttresses built into it which help to make it a subtle and crafty game.

    Fives is possibly the fastest ball-game on earth, far faster than squash, and the little ball ricochets around the court at such a speed that sometimes you can hardly see it. You need a swift eye, strong wrists and a very quick pair of hands to play fives well, and it was a game I took to right from the beginning. You may find it hard to believe, but I became so good at it that I won both the junior and the senior school fives in the same year when I was fifteen. Soon I bore the splendid title ‘Captain of Fives’, and I would travel with my team to other schools like Shrewsbury and Uppingham to play matches. I loved it. It was a game without physical contact, and the quickness of the eye and the dancing of the feet were all that mattered.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    He would be talking to us about this or that when suddenly he would stop in mid-sentence and a look of intense pain would cloud his ancient countenance. Then his head would come up and his great nose would begin to sniff the air and he would cry aloud, ‘By God! This is too much! This is going too far! This is intolerable!’

    We knew exactly what was coming next, but we always played along with him. ‘What’s the matter, sir? What’s happened? Are you all right, sir? Are you feeling ill?’

    Up went the great nose once again, and the head would move slowly from side to side and the nose would sniff the air delicately as though searching for a leak of gas or the smell of something burning. ‘This is not to be tolerated!’ he would cry. ‘This is unbearable!’

    ‘But what’s the matter, sir?’

    ‘I’ll tell you what’s the matter,’ Corkers would shout. ‘Somebody’s farted!’

    ‘Oh no, sir!’… ‘Not me, sir!’… ‘Nor me, sir!’… ‘It’s none of us, sir!’

    At this point, he would rise majestically to his feet and call out at the top of his voice, ‘Use door as fan! Open all windows!’

    This was the signal for frantic activity and everyone in the class would leap to his feet. It was a well-rehearsed operation and each of us knew exactly what he had to do. Four boys would man the door and begin swinging it back and forth at great speed. The rest would start clambering about on the gigantic windows which occupied one whole wall of the room, flinging the lower ones open, using a long pole with a hook on the end to open the top ones, and leaning out to gulp the fresh air in mock distress. While this was going on, Corkers himself would march serenely out of the room, muttering, ‘It’s the cabbage that does it! All they give you is disgusting cabbage and Brussels sprouts and you go off like fire-crackers!’ And that was the last we saw of Corkers for the day.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    There were about thirty or more masters at Repton and most of them were amazingly dull and totally colourless and completely uninterested in boys. But Corkers, an eccentric old bachelor, was neither dull nor colourless. Corkers was a charmer, a vast ungainly man with drooping bloodhound cheeks and filthy clothes. He wore creaseless flannel trousers and a brown tweed jacket with patches all over it and bits of dried food on the lapels. He was meant to teach us mathematics, but in truth he taught us nothing at all and that was the way he meant it to be. His lessons consisted of an endless series of distractions all invented by him so that the subject of mathematics would never have to be discussed. He would come lumbering into the classroom and sit down at his desk and glare at the class. We would wait expectantly, wondering what was coming next.

    ‘Let’s have a look at the crossword puzzle in today’s Times,’ he would say, fishing a crumpled newspaper out of his jacket pocket. ‘That’ll be a lot more fun than fiddling around with figures. I hate figures. Figures are probably the dreariest things on this earth.’

    ‘Then why do you teach mathematics, sir?’ somebody asked him.

    ‘I don’t,’ he said, smiling slyly. ‘I only pretend to teach it.’

    Corkers would proceed to draw the framework of the crossword on the blackboard and we would all spend the rest of the lesson trying to solve it while he read out the clues. We enjoyed that.

    The only time I can remember him vaguely touching upon mathematics was when he whisked a square of tissue-paper out of his pocket and waved it around. ‘Look at this,’ he said. ‘This tissue-paper is one-hundredth of an inch thick. I fold it once, making it double. I fold it again, making it four thicknesses. Now then, I will give a large bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut Milk Chocolate to any boy who can tell me, to the nearest twelve inches, how thick it will be if I fold it fifty times.’

    We all stuck up our hands and started guessing. ‘Twenty-four inches, sir’… ‘Three feet, sir’… ‘Five yards, sir’… ‘Three inches, sir.’

    ‘You’re not very clever, are you,’ Corkers said. ‘The answer is the distance from the earth to the sun. That’s how thick it would be.’ We were enthralled by this piece of intelligence and asked him to prove it on the blackboard, which he did.

    Another time, he brought a two-foot-long grass-snake into class and insisted that every boy should handle it in order to cure us for ever, as he said, of a fear of snakes. This caused quite a commotion.

    I cannot remember all the other thousands of splendid things that old Corkers cooked up to keep his class happy, but there was one that I shall never forget which was repeated at intervals of about three weeks throughout each term.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    For me, the importance of all this was that I began to realize that the large chocolate companies actually did possess inventing rooms and they took their inventing very seriously. I used to picture a long white room like a laboratory with pots of chocolate and fudge and all sorts of other delicious fillings bubbling away on the stoves, while men and women in white coats moved between the bubbling pots, tasting and mixing and concocting their wonderful new inventions. I used to imagine myself working in one of these labs and suddenly I would come up with something so absolutely unbearably delicious that I would grab it in my hand and go rushing out of the lab and along the corridor and right into the office of the great Mr Cadbury himself. ‘I’ve got it, sir!’ I would shout, putting the chocolate in front of him. ‘It’s fantastic! It’s fabulous! It’s marvellous! It’s irresistible!’

    Slowly, the great man would pick up my newly invented chocolate and he would take a small bite. He would roll it round his mouth. Then all at once, he would leap up from his chair, crying, ‘You’ve got it! You’ve done it! It’s a miracle!’ He would slap me on the back and shout, ‘We’ll sell it by the million! We’ll sweep the world with this one! How on earth did you do it?
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Every now and again, a plain grey cardboard box was dished out to each boy in our House, and this, believe it or not, was a present from the great chocolate manufacturers, Cadbury. Inside the box there were twelve bars of chocolate, all of different shapes, all with different fillings and all with numbers from one to twelve stamped on the chocolate underneath. Eleven of these bars were new inventions from the factory. The twelfth was the ‘control’ bar, one that we all knew well, usually a Cadbury’s Coffee Cream bar. Also in the box was a sheet of paper with the numbers one to twelve on it as well as two blank columns, one for giving marks to each chocolate from nought to ten, and the other for comments.

    All we were required to do in return for this splendid gift was to taste very carefully each bar of chocolate, give it marks and make an intelligent comment on why we liked it or disliked it.

    It was a clever stunt. Cadbury’s were using some of the greatest chocolate-bar experts in the world to test out their new inventions. We were of a sensible age, between thirteen and eighteen, and we knew intimately every chocolate bar in existence, from the Milk Flake to the Lemon Marshmallow. Quite obviously our opinions on anything new would be valuable. All of us entered into this game with great gusto, sitting in our studies and nibbling each bar with the air of connoisseurs, giving our marks and making our comments. ‘Too subtle for the common palate,’ was one note that I remember writing down.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Did they preach one thing and practise another, these men of God?

    And if someone had told me at the time that this flogging clergyman was one day to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, I would never have believed it.

    It was all this, I think, that made me begin to have doubts about religion and even about God. If this person, I kept telling myself, was one of God’s chosen salesmen on earth, then there must be something very wrong about the whole business.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    By now I am sure you will be wondering why I lay so much emphasis upon school beatings in these pages. The answer is that I cannot help it. All through my school life I was appalled by the fact that masters and senior boys were allowed literally to wound other boys, and sometimes quite severely. I couldn’t get over it. I never have got over it. It would, of course, be unfair to suggest that all masters were constantly beating the daylights out of all the boys in those days. They weren’t. Only a few did so, but that was quite enough to leave a lasting impression of horror upon me. It left another more physical impression upon me as well. Even today, whenever I have to sit for any length of time on a hard bench or chair, I begin to feel my heart beating along the old lines that the cane made on my bottom some fifty-five years ago.

    There is nothing wrong with a few quick sharp tickles on the rump. They probably do a naughty boy a lot of good. But this Headmaster we were talking about wasn’t just tickling you when he took out his cane to deliver a flogging. He never flogged me, thank goodness, but I was given a vivid description of one of these ceremonies by my best friend at Repton, whose name was Michael.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    ‘Four with the dressing-gown on or three with it off?’ the Boazer would say to you in the changing-room late at night.

    Others in the dormitory had told you what to answer to this question. ‘Four with it on,’ you mumbled, trembling.

    This Boazer was famous for the speed of his strokes. Most of them paused between each stroke to prolong the operation, but Williamson, the great footballer, cricketer and athlete, always delivered his strokes in a series of swift back and forth movements without any pause between them at all. Four strokes would rain down upon your bottom so fast that it was all over in four seconds.

    A ritual took place in the dormitory after each beating. The victim was required to stand in the middle of the room and lower his pyjama trousers so that the damage could be inspected. Half a dozen experts would crowd round you and express their opinions in highly professional language.

    ‘What a super job.’

    ‘He’s got every single one in the same place!’

    ‘Crikey! Nobody could tell you had more than one, except for the mess!’

    ‘Boy, that Williamson’s got a terrific eye!’

    ‘Of course he’s got a terrific eye! Why d’you think he’s a Cricket Teamer?’

    ‘There’s no wet blood though! If you had had just one more he’d have got some blood out!’

    ‘Through a dressing-gown, too! It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it!’

    ‘Most Boazers couldn’t get a result like that without a dressing-gown!’

    ‘You must have tremendously thin skin! Even Williamson couldn’t have done that to ordinary skin!’

    Did he use the long one or the short one?

    ‘Hang on! Don’t pull them up yet! I’ve got to see this again!’

    And I would stand there, slightly bemused by this cool clinical approach.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Feeling like an undertaker’s apprentice in a funeral parlour, I crept downstairs.

    My sisters shrieked with laughter when I appeared. ‘He can’t go out in those!’ they cried. ‘He’ll be arrested by the police!’

    ‘Put your hat on,’ my mother said, handing me a stiff wide-brimmed straw-hat with a blue and black band around it. I put it on and did my best to look dignified. The sisters fell all over the room laughing.

    My mother got me out of the house before I lost my nerve completely and together we walked through the village to Bexley station. My mother was going to accompany me to London and see me on to the Derby train, but she had been told that on no account should she travel farther than that. I had only a small suitcase to carry. My trunk had been sent on ahead labelled ‘Luggage in Advance’.

    ‘Nobody’s taking the slightest notice of you,’ my mother said as we walked through Bexley High Street.

    And curiously enough nobody was.

    ‘I have learnt one thing about England,’ my mother went on. ‘It is a country where men love to wear uniforms and eccentric clothes. Two hundred years ago their clothes were even more eccentric then they are today. You can consider yourself lucky you don’t have to wear a wig on your head and ruffles on your sleeves.’

    ‘I still feel an ass,’ I said.

    ‘Everyone who looks at you’, my mother said, ‘knows that you are going away to a Public School. All English Public Schools have their own different crazy uniforms.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    I was hustled out of the car and in through the front door with my mother still holding the bloodstained handerchief firmly over my wobbling nose.

    ‘Good heavens!’ cried Dr Dunbar. ‘It’s been cut clean off!’

    ‘It hurts,’ I moaned.

    ‘He can’t go round without a nose for the rest of his life!’ the doctor said to my mother.

    ‘It looks as though he may have to,’ my mother said.

    ‘Nonsense!’ the doctor told her. ‘I shall sew it on again.’

    ‘Can you do that?’ My mother asked him.

    ‘I can try,’ he answered. ‘I shall tape it on tight for now and I’ll be up at your house with my assistant within the hour.’

    Huge strips of sticking-plaster were strapped across my face to hold the nose in position. Then I was led back into the car and we crawled the two miles home to Llandaff.

    About an hour later I found myself lying upon that same nursery table my ancient sister had occupied some months before for her appendix operation. Strong hands held me down while a mask stuffed with cotton-wool was clamped over my face. I saw a hand above me holding a bottle with white liquid in it and the liquid was being poured on to the cotton-wool inside the mask. Once again I smelled the sickly stench of chloroform and ether, and a voice was saying, ‘Breathe deeply. Take some nice deep breaths.’

    I fought fiercely to get off that table but my shoulders were pinned down by the full weight of a large man. The hand that was holding the bottle above my face kept tilting it farther and farther forward and the white liquid dripped and dripped on to the cotton-wool. Blood-red circles began to appear before my eyes and the circles started to spin round and round until they made a scarlet whirlpool with a deep black hole in the centre, and miles away in the distance a voice was saying, ‘That’s a good boy. We’re nearly there now… we’re nearly there… just close your eyes and go to sleep…’

    I woke up in my own bed with my anxious mother sitting beside me, holding my hand. ‘I didn’t think you were ever going to come round,’ she said. ‘You’ve been asleep for more than eight hours.’

    ‘Did Dr Dunbar sew my nose on again?’ I asked her.

    ‘Yes,’ she said.

    ‘Will it stay on?’

    ‘He says it will. How do you feel, my darling?’
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    The first miserable homesick night at St Peter’s, when I curled up in bed and the lights were put out, I could think of nothing but our house at home and my mother and my sisters. Where were they? I asked myself. In which direction from where I was lying was Llandaff? I began to work it out and it wasn’t difficult to do this because I had the Bristol Channel to help me. If I looked out of the dormitory window I could see the Channel itself, and the big city of Cardiff with Llandaff alongside it lay almost directly across the water but slightly to the north. Therefore, if I turned towards the window I would be facing home. I wriggled round in my bed and faced my home and my family.

    From then on, during all the time I was at St Peter’s, I never went to sleep with my back to my family. Different beds in different dormitories required the working out of new directions, but the Bristol Channel was always my guide and I was always able to draw an imaginary line from my bed to our house over in Wales. Never once did I go to sleep looking away from my family. It was a great comfort to do this.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Once, after lights out, a brave boy called Wragg tiptoed out of our dormitory and sprinkled castor sugar all over the linoleum floor of the corridor. When Wragg returned and told us that the corridor had been successfully sugared from one end to the other, I began shivering with excitement. I lay there in the dark in my bed waiting and waiting for the Matron to go on the prowl. Nothing happened. Perhaps, I told myself, she is in her room taking another speck of dust out of Mr Victor Corrado’s eye.

    Suddenly, from far down the corridor came a resounding crunch! Crunch crunch crunch went the footsteps. It sounded as though a giant was walking on loose gravel.

    Then we heard the high-pitched furious voice of the Matron in the distance. ‘Who did this?’ she was shrieking. ‘How dare you do this!’ She went crunching along the corridor flinging open all the dormitory doors and switching on all the lights. The intensity of her fury was frightening. ‘Come along!’ she cried out, marching with crunching steps up and down the corridor. ‘Own up! I want the name of the filthy little boy who put down the sugar! Own up immediately! Step forward! Confess!’

    ‘Don’t own up,’ we whispered to Wragg. ‘We won’t give you away!’

    Wragg kept quiet. I didn’t blame him for that. Had he owned up, it was certain his fate would have been a terrible and a bloody one.

    Soon the Headmaster was summoned from below. The Matron, with steam coming out of her nostrils, cried out to him for help, and now the whole school was herded into the long corridor, where we stood freezing in our pyjamas and bare feet while the culprit or culprits were ordered to step forward.

    Nobody stepped forward.

    I could see that the Headmaster was getting very angry indeed. His evening had been interrupted. Red splotches were appearing all over his face and flecks of spit were shooting out of his mouth as he talked.

    ‘Very well!’ he thundered. ‘Every one of you will go at once and get the key to his tuck-box! Hand the keys to Matron, who will keep them for the rest of the term! And all parcels coming from home will be confiscated from now on! I will not tolerate this kind of behaviour!’

    We handed in our keys and throughout the remaining six weeks of the term we went very hungry. But all through those six weeks, Arkle continued to feed his frog with slugs through the hole in the lid of his tuck-box. Using an old teapot, he also poured water in through the hole every day to keep the creature moist and happy. I admired Arkle very much for looking after his frog so well. Although he himself was famished, he refused to let his frog go hungry. Ever since then I have tried to be kind to small animals.
    allsafeje citiraoпре 2 године
    Now and again, when we were out in the open water beyond the chain of islands, the sea became very rough, and that was when my mother enjoyed herself most. Nobody, not even the tiny children, bothered with lifebelts in those days. We would cling to the sides of our funny little white motor-boat, driving through mountainous white-capped waves and getting drenched to the skin, while my mother calmly handled the tiller. There were times, I promise you, when the waves were so high that as we slid down into a trough the whole world disappeared from sight. Then up and up the little boat would climb, standing almost vertically on its tail, until we reached the crest of the next wave, and then it was like being on top of a foaming mountain. It requires great skill to handle a small boat in seas like these. The thing can easily capsize or be swamped if the bows do not meet the great combing breakers at just the right angle. But my mother knew exactly how to do it, and we were never afraid. We loved every minute of it, all of us except for our long-suffering Nanny, who would bury her face in her hands and call aloud upon the Lord to save her soul.

    In the early evenings we nearly always went out fishing. We collected mussels from the rocks for bait, then we got into either the row-boat or the motor-boat and pushed off to drop anchor later in some likely spot. The water was very deep and often we had to let out two hundred feet of line before we touched bottom. We would sit silent and tense, waiting for a bite, and it always amazed me how even a little nibble at the end of that long line would be transmitted to one’s fingers. ‘A bite!’ someone would shout, jerking the line. ‘I’ve got him! It’s a big one! It’s a whopper!’ And then came the thrill of hauling in the line hand over hand and peering over the side into the clear water to see how big the fish really was as he neared the surface. Cod, whiting, haddock and mackerel, we caught them all and bore them back triumphantly to the hotel kitchen where the cheery fat woman who did the cooking promised to get them ready for our supper.
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