Надежда Никифоровна Рогожина
, проректор по международным программам, зав. кафедрой лингвистики и межъязыковой коммуникации Самарского муниципального университета Наяновой, кандидат педагогических наук, доцент.
Директор негосударственного учреждения дополнительного образования “World Class-Samara”.
I am happy to introduce our ‘new’ old author to you, Mr David A. Wright who lives in Runcorn, Cheshire, England, UK. This time you will get acquainted with his first literary piece, a story. Living rather far from his grandchildren (well, by British standards, of course!), David first started writing for them. It’s no wonder, Mr Wright is a very interesting personality with a vast life experience who got an excellent education and, of course, he has much to say to the younger ones.
Many a time, writers emerge all of a sudden from nowhere but it only seems that simple. You never know which facts, feelings, circumstances or combination of any of them may trigger imagination. Thus a story and then a book appears.
The book shows Mr Wright’s childlike nature for in a very talented grown up person there is always an inner child. In the book, which the author called “Stories from Old England”, the reader will find everything: love, kindness, longing for old times and humour, of course. I hope the reader will appreciate the proper English language so well preserved in Mr Wright’s stories. The scene is an idealised village in 1930’s: at home, on a farm, in a historic site (a ruined castle), etc.
This is what the author himself writes about the characters:
“Many of the tales focus on two dogs imbued with some of the more admirable human characteristics. In others, a family of four children plays a larger role. Their friends and neighbours come and go as friends and neighbours should, there when needed, but never intrusive. There are no complex characters; rather it is their innocence and simplicity that fits them for their part. There are deliberate, and probably also accidental, anachronisms (tee-shirts, bouncy castles, etc.) but they are all part of the fun — try looking for them! The series started out as a single tale intended as a bedtime story for grandchildren whom regrettably I seldom see. Hence the soporific repetition designed to lull a little one and give his and her parents a chance of an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Then, the grandchildren wanted to know what happened next! And thus a series commenced.”
I enjoyed reading the book and I am sure you will, too!
Once upon a time, there were two dogs called Bruce and Pip. Bruce was a big, brown, sensible dog; Pip was a little white dog with a black patch over one eye. They lived together in a house with Mr & Mrs Bletherington-Smythe, their master and mistress. The house was out in the country near some woods where Bruce and Pip liked to go for walks with Mr Bletherington-Smythe – well, Mr Bletherington-Smythe and Bruce walked but Pip spent most of the time running around trying to catch squirrels. He never caught any of course, they were far too nimble1 for him, but he said to himself that he could if he really wanted to. Actually, he just enjoyed the chasing about and would not have known what to do with a squirrel if he had caught one! Bruce just walked quietly with Mr Bletherington-Smythe but kept one eye open and one ear pricked up2 in case there was any trouble because he felt that he was responsible for the other two and he liked being in charge3. When they got home, they would have worked up quite a thirst4 so they would go to their bowls in the kitchen and slurp5 away until they felt better.
Bruce and Pip each had a basket to sleep in. Bruce’s basket was a big square one with soft red cushions6 inside. Pip’s basket was a small round one with soft green cushions. Each night, when Mr & Mrs Bletherington-Smythe drank their cocoa before going to bed, Bruce and Pip would amble7 off to their baskets and settle down for the night. For Pip, this involved turning round and round until he had got the cushions just the way he wanted them and then, he would fall asleep, dreaming of squirrels and what he would do if he caught one – he never did, of course! Bruce, on the other hand, just lay down and also went to sleep, but he kept one ear open, because he was in charge of the house at night. From time to time during the night, Bruce would get up and stroll8 around the house. He was very quiet so as not to wake anyone else, but he liked to check that the doors were locked properly and that Mrs Bletherington-Smythe had not left anything switched on in the kitchen – she never had, of course, but he liked to check because he was in charge and he liked being in charge. He always took his responsibilities seriously as befitted9 a senior dog and, anyway, he didn’t need a lot of sleep at his age. Occasionally, Pip would yelp a little as he nearly caught a squirrel in his dreams and Bruce would look over to make sure the little dog was all right. There is a lot to take care of when you are in charge!
In the morning, Mr Bletherington-Smythe would come into the kitchen to make tea for himself and Mrs Bletherington-Smythe. While the kettle was boiling, he would put fresh water in both the dog bowls and open a tin of their favourite food. He would put ј of the tin into Pip’s dish and ѕ of the tin into Bruce’s dish. The dogs gobbled down10 their breakfast while Mr Bletherington-Smythe finished making the tea and put two cups, the milk and the tea-pot on a tray to take upstairs. Before going up, Mr Bletherington-Smythe would open the back door so that the two dogs could run outside. Pip would scamper11 all round the garden madly, making sure that there were no squirrels about, while Bruce would watch him in a superior way as befitted one who was in charge. Bruce knew that he was in charge of the garden during the day-time.
Meanwhile, Mr Bletherington-Smythe would carry the tray upstairs. While Mrs Bletherington-Smythe poured out the tea, Mr Bletherington-Smythe would climb back into bed, taking care not to put his cold feet anywhere Mrs Bletherington-Smythe’s legs. Once they were settled with their tea, they would discuss what they planned to do during the day.
One day, Mrs Bletherington-Smythe said that she wanted to go to the shops to buy the things that they needed, like food, and things that Mr Bletherington-Smythe thought that they didn’t really need, like more clothes, but which Mrs Bletherington-Smythe would buy anyway, because that is what ladies do. Mr Bletherington-Smythe asked her not to forget to get some more dog food. Mrs Bletherington-Smythe smiled to herself because he always reminded her to get the dog food and she never forgot anyway. But he liked to remind her just in case, because that is what men do. Mr Bletherington-Smythe said that he would take the dogs for a walk in the woods. Mrs Bletherington-Smythe smiled to herself again, because that is what he always did when she went shopping. Once that was decided, they drank their tea and started their day. After breakfast, Mrs Bletherington-Smythe got ready to go out. That took quite a long time, because she knew that she might meet some other ladies in the town and she wanted to look her very best. Mr Bletherington-Smythe cleared away and washed up the breakfast things and began to put his waterproof jacket and boots on because it might be damp in the woods and you never knew when it might rain. Better safe than sorry. When Pip saw his preparations, he got very excited and chased his tail for a while. Bruce was also excited but it was beneath his dignity12 to show it, so he just went and fetched their leads13 as the first part of the walk was along a road. He knew that he didn’t need one because he always walked quietly beside his master, but it was best to have Pip on a lead and he didn’t want Pip to feel that he was the only one who needed a lead. Mrs Bletherington-Smythe drove off in the car, because it was quite a long way to the town and they all said goodbye: Pip barking, Bruce wagging his tail and Mr Bletherington-Smythe waving until the car was out of sight. Then it was time for their walk.
Once they reached the woods, Mr Bletherington-Smythe took off the dog’s leads and put them in his pocket for safe keeping – better safe than sorry, he always thought. They set off together, crunching through the twigs and dead leaves underfoot, Mr Bletherington-Smythe walking briskly14 along with Bruce while Pip ran madly about in circles chasing squirrels. The squirrels didn’t mind because they knew that he would never catch them and when he got too close, they would run up a tree out of his way. In fact, they rather enjoyed the game although they chattered away in the tree branches pretending to scold15 him. Sometimes they would even throw nut shells down at him to make him even more excited. No wonder he slept so well at night!
This day however, Bruce noticed that Pip had gone rather far away down a deep gully16 and was barking even more excitedly than usual. To a human, the barking would sound much the same as it normally did, but to Bruce’s keen doggy ears it was quite different. He knew that something was up17. Since he was in charge, it was clearly his duty to investigate18. He followed the sound of Pip’s barking and scrambled19 down the gully. It was quite steep and it had been a long time since Bruce had engaged in such puppy antics20, but eventually he reached the bottom and saw Pip with a bundle of old clothes. As he got closer, he realised that it was not just a bundle of clothes, but an elderly gentleman lying on the wet ground. He knew that that was not right, so he also started barking. As soon as Mr Bletherington-Smythe heard Bruce’s deep bark, he realised that something was amiss21 because Bruce hardly ever barked and then only when it was really necessary. So he, too, scrambled down the gully. He knew at once that the elderly gentleman was quite badly hurt and unable to get up. It looked as if his leg was broken and he had a nasty looking cut on his head that had been bleeding down the man’s face. He knew that he could not move the man by himself and anyway it might be dangerous to try as that could make matters worse. He spoke carefully to the dogs: “Bruce, stay here and look after this poor man; Pip stay and keep Bruce company. I will go to get help and be as quick as I can, but you must both stay here.” Of course, the dogs didn’t need telling twice, but Mr Bletherington-Smythe often did that when he was really worried so they knew things were quite serious. Then Mr Bletherington-Smythe went off as quickly as he could, but taking care, too, –there was no point in having two casualties and it was always better to be safe than sorry, he said to himself.
Pip didn’t quite know what to do as he had no experience of such situations, but Bruce was used to being in charge, so he told Pip to calm down, but keep running up and down the slope and barking so that any rescuers22 could find them quickly. Then Bruce weighed up the situation23 to see what he could be doing while they waited for Mr Bletherington-Smythe to return. He couldn’t do anything about the broken leg of course, but he could see that the man was very cold, so he lay down close beside him to try to warm him up. He licked at the wound on the man’s head as he knew that was a good way to help clean and heal such injuries24. Then he settled down to wait for Mr Bletherington-Smythe’s return, knowing that it could be quite a long wait. Even Pip realised that this was no time for playing games and got on with his job of running up and down the slope forgetting completely about squirrels for once. Mr Bletherington-Smythe hurried home and there telephoned for an ambulance, explaining what had occurred. He said he would wait for the men at his house so that he could guide them quickly to the right spot. They would not be able to drive the car all the way, so they would have to take a stretcher25 and carry the man through the woods. It took quite a long while for the paramedics to arrive, at least, it seemed a long time to Mr Bletherington-Smythe – it always seems longer when you are waiting impatiently, doesn’t it? The help had to come from the town and Mr Bletherington-Smythe could hear the siren blaring long before it got to his house. As it got closer, he could see the flashing blue light and knew that all the neighbours would be wondering what was amiss. He was not worried about the dogs as he knew that they would be all right with Bruce in charge.
When the ambulance arrived, Mr Bletherington-Smythe climbed in to show the crew the way. They could go only a short distance and then they had to park and get a stretcher out of the back of the vehicle. The men wore bright yellow jackets with “Paramedic” emblazoned26 on the back. One of them carried a case with things that they might need while Mr Bletherington-Smythe helped the other one with the stretcher. They were soon at the spot on the path where they had to scramble down the slope into the gully. Pip was overjoyed to see them and ran down to tell Bruce, then back up again, and so on, up and down, up and down – the slope was nothing to a young dog like him. At last, they all arrived at the scene of the accident. The paramedics were pleased to see what a good job Bruce had done in keeping the man warm and cleaning up his wound. Mr Bletherington-Smythe praised both dogs for their sense: Pip was pleased about that and so was Bruce, really, although he pretended to be disdainful27 and that it was all in a day’s work for a responsible dog. The paramedics soon had the man in the ambulance and it sped away with siren sounding and lights flashing to clear its way.
Once they got home, Mr Bletherington-Smythe changed out of his walking clothes. Then he began to get the dinner ready for when Mrs Bletherington-Smythe returned while the two dogs slurped at their water bowls. They had worked up quite a thirst! The dinner was just about ready when they heard the sound of the car. Bruce heard it first because as the dog in charge it was his job to be always on the alert.
They all went out to help Mrs Bletherington-Smythe carry in all her shopping and Mr Bletherington-Smythe said, “I see you remembered to get the dog food,” which made Mrs Bletherington-Smythe smile to herself again because he always said that. As the two humans sat down to their dinner, the two dogs settled down in their baskets – they ate only in the mornings and in the evenings. To tell the truth, they were both rather tired after all their adventures and soon fell asleep, Bruce with one ear open, of course, as his responsibilities never ceased. Mr Bletherington-Smythe was also more tired than he liked to admit to himself and he promised himself a snooze28 after dinner. But first, he had to hear all about Mrs Bletherington-Smythe’s shopping expedition and all the other ladies she had met and all the latest gossip she had learned. She had bought some splendid new clothes, too. As she said to her husband, she really hadn’t a thing to wear, which made Mr Bletherington-Smythe smile to himself as he wondered what was in all the wardrobes upstairs. “Well,” said Mr Bletherington-Smythe patiently, “just so long as you remembered the dog food,” which made them both laugh.
“And what sort of day did you have?” said Mrs Bletherington-Smythe when she had finished recounting her tales.
“Oh, we just went for a walk in the woods as usual,” said Mr Bletherington-Smythe casually.
He was going to leave it at that, but thought that he had better tell her all the details – he would never hear the last of it if she heard about it first from one of the neighbours. When she heard how good they had all been, she made Mr Bletherington-Smythe go and sit down quietly and have a good rest – he needed it after all his exertions29 that morning. Like Bruce, he wasn’t getting any younger, he told himself. He soon fell asleep and it wasn’t long before Mrs Bletherington-Smythe also fell asleep in another chair. It had been quite an eventful day.
by David A. Wright
Drawings by Maria Vorotyntseva
1 nimble – проворный
2 prick up ear – держать ухо востро
3 be in charge – отвечать (за что-л.)
4 work up (a thirst) – (зд.) нагуливать
5 slurp – хлюпать, лакать
6 cushion – диванная подушка
7 amble – идти легким шагом
8 stroll – бродить
9 befit – подобать, приличествовать
10 gobble (down) – есть жадно
11 scamper – резво скакать
12 beneath his dignity – ниже его достоинства
13 lead – (зд.) поводок
14 briskly – резво
15 scold – ругать
16 gully – овражек
17 be up – (зд.) происходить
18 investigate – расследовать
19 scramble – продираться
20 antic – (нелепая) выходка
21 amiss – плохой, неправильный
22 rescuer – спасатель
23 weigh up the situation – оценить ситуацию
24 injury – рана
25 stretcher – носилки
26 emblazoned – украшенный (эмблемами)
27 disdainful – высокомерный
28 snooze – короткий сон (днем)
29 exertion – усилие
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