Full book "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" by Muriel Spark on English!!! Ч. 3 (КОНЕЦ)

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
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The side-effects of this condition were exhilarating to her special girls in that they in some way partook of the general absolution she had assumed to herself, and it was only in retrospect that they could see Miss Brodie's affair with Mr. Lowther for what it was, that is to say, in a factual light. All the time they were under her influence she and her actions were outside the context of right and wrong. It was twenty-five years before Sandy had so far recovered from a creeping vision of disorder that she could look back and recognise that Miss Brodie's defective sense of self-criticism had not been without its beneficent and enlarging effects; by which time Sandy had already betrayed Miss Brodie and Miss Brodie was laid in her grave.
It was after morning church on Sundays that Miss Brodie would go to Cramond, there to lunch and spend the afternoon with Mr. Lowther. She spent Sunday evenings with him also, and more often than not the night, in a spirit of definite duty, if not exactly martyrdom, since her heart was with the renounced teacher of art.
Mr. Lowther, with his long body and short legs, was a shy fellow who smiled upon nearly everyone from beneath his red-gold moustache, and who won his own gentle way with nearly everybody, and who said little and sang much.
When it became certain that the Kerr sisters had taken over permanently the housekeeping for this bashful, smiling bachelor, Miss Brodie fancied he was getting thin. She announced this discovery just at a time when Jenny and Sandy had noticed a slimmer appearance in Miss Brodie and had begun to wonder, since they were nearly thirteen and their eyes were more focussed on such points, if she might be physically beautiful or desirable to men. They saw her in a new way, and decided she had a certain deep romantic beauty, and that she had lost weight through her sad passion for Mr. Lloyd, and this noble undertaking of Mr. Lowther in his place, and that it suited her.
Now Miss Brodie was saying: "Mr. Lowther is looking thin these days. I have no faith in those Kerr sisters, they are skimping him, they have got skimpy minds. The supplies of food they leave behind on Saturdays are barely sufficient to see him through Sunday, let alone the remainder of the week. If only Mr. Lowther could be persuaded to move from that big house and take a flat in Edinburgh, he would be so much easier to look after. He needs looking after. But he will not be persuaded. It is impossible to persuade a man who does not disagree, but smiles."
She decided to supervise the Kerr sisters on their Saturdays at Cramond when they prepared for Mr. Lowther's domestic week ahead. "They get well paid for it," said Miss Brodie. "I shall go over and see that they order the right stuff, and sufficient." It might have seemed an audacious proposition, but the girls did not think of it this way. They heartily urged Miss Brodie to descend upon the Kerrs and to interfere, partly in anticipation of some eventful consequence, and partly because Mr. Lowther would somehow smile away any fuss; and the Kerr sisters were fairly craven; and above all, Miss Brodie was easily the equal of both sisters together, she was the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle and they were only the squares on the other two sides.
The Kerr sisters took Miss Brodie's intrusion quite meekly, and that they were so unquestioning about any authority which imposed itself upon them was the very reason why they also did not hesitate later on to answer the subsequent questions of Miss Gaunt. Meantime Miss Brodie set about feeding Mr. Lowther up, and, since this meant her passing Saturday afternoons at Cramond, the Brodie set was invited to go, two by two, one pair every week, to visit her in Mr. Lowther's residence where he smiled and patted their hair or pulled pretty Jenny's ringlets, looking meanwhile for reproof or approval, or some such thing, at brown-eyed Jean Brodie. She gave them tea while he smiled; and he frequently laid down his cup and saucer, went and sat at the piano and burst into song. He sang:
March, march Ettrick and Teviotdale,
Why the de'il dinna ye march forward in order?
March, march, Eskdale and Liddesdale,
All the Blue Bonnets are bound for the Border.
At the end of the song he would smile his overcome and bashful smile and take his teacup again, looking up under his ginger eyebrows at Jean Brodie to see what she felt about him at the current moment. She was Jean to him, a fact that none of the Brodie set thought proper to mention to anyone.
She reported to Sandy and Jenny: "I made short work of those Kerr sisters. They were starving him. Now it is I who see to the provisions. I am a descendant, do not forget, of Willie Brodie, a man of substance, a cabinet maker and designer of gibbets, a member of the Town Council of Edinburgh and a keeper of two mistresses who bore him five children between them. Blood tells. He played much dice and fighting cocks. Eventually he was a wanted man for having robbed the Excise Office — not that he needed the money, he was a night burglar only for the sake of the danger in it. Of course, he was arrested abroad and was brought back to the Tolbooth prison, but that was mere chance. He died cheerfully on a gibbet of his own devising in seventeen-eighty-eight. However all this may be, it is the stuff I am made of, and I have brooked and shall brook no nonsense from Miss Ellen and Miss Alison Kerr."
Mr. Lowther sang:
O mother, mother, make my bed,
O make it soft and narrow,
For my true love died for me today.
I'll die for him tomorrow.
Then he looked at Miss Brodie. She was, however, looking at a chipped rim of a teacup. "Mary Macgregor must have chipped it," she said. "Mary was here last Sunday with Eunice and they washed up together. Mary must have chipped it."
Outside on the summer lawn the daisies sparkled. The lawn spread wide and long, one could barely see the little wood at the end of it and even the wood belonged to Mr. Lowther, and the fields beyond. Shy, musical and gentle as he was, Mr. Lowther was a man of substance.
Now Sandy considered Miss Brodie not only to see if she was desirable, but also to find out if there was any element of surrender about her, since this was the most difficult part of the affair to realise. She had been a dominant presence rather than a physical woman like Norma Shearer or Elisabeth Bergner. Miss Brodie was now forty-three and this year when she looked so much thinner than when she had stood in the classroom or sat under the elm, her shape was pleasanter, but it was still fairly large compared with Mr. Lowther's. He was slight and he was shorter than Miss Brodie. He looked at her with love and she looked at him severely and possessively.
By the end of the summer term, when the Brodie set were all turned, or nearly turned, thirteen, Miss Brodie questioned them in their visiting pairs each week about their art lesson. The girls always took a close interest in Teddy Lloyd's art classes and in all he did, making much of details, so as to provide happy conversation with Miss Brodie when their turn came to visit her at Gordon Lowther's house at Cramond.
It was a large gabled house with a folly-turret. There were so many twists and turns in the wooded path leading up from the road, and the front lawn was so narrow, that the house could never be seen from the little distance that its size demanded and it was necessary to crane one's neck upward to see the turret at all. The back of the house was quite plain. The rooms were large and gloomy with Venetian blinds. The banisters began with a pair of carved lions' heads and carried up and up, round and round, as far as the eye could reach. All the furniture was large and carved, dotted with ornaments of silver and rose-coloured glass. The library on the ground floor where Miss Brodie entertained them held a number of glass bookcases so dim in their interiors that it was impossible to see the titles of the books without peering close. A grand piano was placed across one corner of the room, and on it, in summer, stood a bowl of roses.
This was a great house to explore and on days when Miss Brodie was curiously occupied in the kitchen with some enormous preparation for the next day's eating — in those months when her obsession with Mr. Lowther's food had just begun — the girls were free to roam up the big stairs, hand-in-hand with awe, and to open the doors and look into the dust-sheeted bedrooms and especially into two rooms that people had forgotten to furnish properly, one of which had nothing in it but a large desk, not even a carpet, another of which was empty except for an electric light bulb and a large blue jug. These rooms were icy cold, whatever the time of year. On their descending the stairs after these expeditions, Mr. Lowther would often be standing waiting for them, shyly smiling in the hall with his hands clasped together as if he hoped that everything was to their satisfaction. He took roses from the bowl and presented one each to the girls before they went home.
Mr. Lowther never seemed quite at home in his home, although he had been born there. He always looked at Miss Brodie for approval before he touched anything or opened a cupboard as if, really, he was not allowed to touch without permission. The girls decided that perhaps his mother, now four years dead, had kept him under all his life, and he was consequently unable to see himself as master of the house.
He sat silently and gratefully watching Miss Brodie entertain the two girls whose turn it was to be there, when she had already started on her project of fattening him up which was to grow to such huge proportions that her food-supplying mania was the talk of Miss Ellen and Miss Alison Kerr, and so of the Junior school. One day, when Sandy and Jenny were on the visiting rota, she gave Mr. Lowther, for tea alone, an admirable lobster salad, some sandwiches of liver paste, cake and tea, followed by a bowl of porridge and cream. These were served to him on a tray for himself alone, you could see he was on a special diet. Sandy was anxious to see if Mr. Lowther would manage the porridge as well as everything else. But he worked his way through everything with impassive obedience while she questioned the girls: "What are you doing in the art class just now?"
"We're at work on the poster competition."
"Mr. Lloyd — is he well?"
"Oh yes, he's great fun. He showed us his studio two weeks ago."
"Which studio, where? At his house?" — although Miss Brodie knew perfectly well.
"Yes, it's a great long attic, it———"
"Did you meet his wife, what was she like? What did she say, did she give you tea? What are the children like, what did you do when you got there?..."
She did not attempt to conceal from her munching host her keen interest in the art master. Mr. Lowther's eyes looked mournful and he ate on. Sandy and Jenny knew that similar questions had been pressed upon Mary Macgregor and Eunice Gardiner the previous week, and upon Rose Stanley and Monica Douglas the week before. But Miss Brodie could not hear enough versions of the same story if it involved Teddy Lloyd, and now that the girls had been to his house — a large and shabby, a warm and unconventional establishment in the north of Edinburgh — Miss Brodie was in a state of high excitement by very contact with these girls who had lately breathed Lloyd air.
"How many children?" said Miss Brodie, her teapot poised.
"Five, I think," said Sandy.
"Six, I think," said Jenny, "counting the baby."
"There are lots of babies," said Sandy.
"Roman Catholics, of course," said Miss Brodie, addressing this to Mr. Lowther.
"But the littlest baby," said Jenny, "you've forgotten to count the wee baby. That makes six."
Miss Brodie poured tea and cast a glance at Gordon Lowther's plate.
"Gordon," she said, "a cake."
He shook his head and said softly, as if soothing her, "Oh, no, no."
"Yes, Gordon. It is full of goodness." And she made him eat a Chester cake, and spoke to him in a slightly more Edinburgh way than usual, so as to make up to him by both means for the love she was giving to Teddy Lloyd instead of to him.
"You must be fattened up, Gordon," she said. "You must be two stone the better before I go my holidays."
He smiled as best he could at everyone in turn, with his drooped head and slowly moving jaws. Meanwhile Miss Brodie said:
"And Mrs. Lloyd — is she a woman, would you say, in her prime?"
"Perhaps not yet," said Sandy.
"Well, Mrs. Lloyd may be past it," Jenny said. "It's difficult to say with her hair being long on her shoulders. It makes her look young although she may not be."
"She looks really like as if she won't have any prime," Sandy said.
"The word 'like' is redundant in that sentence. What is Mrs. Lloyd's Christian name?"
"Deirdre," said Jenny, and Miss Brodie considered the name as if it were new to her although she had heard it last week from Mary and Eunice, and the week before that from Rose and Monica, and so had Mr. Lowther. Outside, light rain began to fall on Mr. Lowther's leaves.
"Celtic," said Miss Brodie.
Sandy loitered at the kitchen door waiting for Miss Brodie to come for a walk by the sea. Miss Brodie was doing something to an enormous ham prior to putting it into a huge pot. Miss Brodie's new ventures into cookery in no way diminished her previous grandeur, for everything she prepared for Gordon Lowther seemed to be large, whether it was family-sized puddings to last him out the week, or joints of beef or lamb, or great angry-eyed whole salmon.
"I must get this on for Mr. Lowther's supper," she said to Sandy, "and see that he gets his supper before I go home tonight."
She always so far kept up the idea that she went home on these week-end nights and left Mr. Lowther alone in the big house. So far the girls had found no evidence to the contrary, nor were they ever to do so; a little later Miss Ellen Kerr was brought to the headmistress by Miss Gaunt to testify to having found Miss Brodie's nightdress under a pillow of the double bed on which Mr. Lowther took his sleep. She had found it while changing the linen; it was the pillow on the far side of the bed, nearest the wall, under which the nightdress had been discovered folded neatly.
"How do you know the nightdress was Miss Brodie's?" demanded Miss Mackay, the sharp-minded woman, who smelt her prey very near and yet saw it very far. She stood with a hand on the back of her chair, bending forward full of ears.
"One must draw one's own conclusions," said Miss Gaunt.
"I am addressing Miss Ellen."
"Yes, one must draw one's own conclusions," said Miss Ellen, with her tight-drawn red-veined cheeks looking shiny and flustered. "It was crêpe de Chine."
"It is non proven," said Miss Mackay, sitting down to her desk. "Come back to me," she said, "if you have proof positive. What did you do with the garment? Did you confront Miss Brodie with it?"
"Oh, no, Miss Mackay," said Miss Ellen.
"You should have confronted her with it. You should have said, 'Miss Brodie, come here a minute, can you explain this?' That's what you should have said. Is the nightdress still there?"
"Oh, no, it's gone."
"She's that brazen," said Miss Gaunt.
All this was conveyed to Sandy by the headmistress herself at that subsequent time when Sandy looked at her distastefully through her little eyes and, evading the quite crude question which the coarse-faced woman asked her, was moved by various other considerations to betray Miss Brodie.
"But I must organise the dear fellow's food before I go home tonight," Miss Brodie said in the summer of nineteen-thirty-three while Sandy leaned against the kitchen door with her legs longing to be running along the sea shore. Jenny came and joined her, and together they waited upon Miss Brodie, and saw on the vast old kitchen table the piled-up provisions of the morning's shopping. Outside on the dining-room table stood large bowls of fruit with boxes of dates piled on top of them, as if this were Christmas and the kitchen that of a holiday hotel.
"Won't all this give Mr. Lowther a stoppage?" Sandy said to Jenny.
"Not if he eats his greens," said Jenny.
While they waited for Miss Brodie to dress the great ham like the heroine she was, there came the sound of Mr. Lowther at the piano in the library singing rather slowly and mournfully:
All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell, Come ye before him and rejoice.
Mr. Lowther was the choir-master and an Elder of the church, and had not yet been quietly advised to withdraw from these offices by Mr. Gaunt the minister, brother of Miss Gaunt, following the finding of the nightdress under the pillow next to his.
Presently, as she put the ham on a low gas and settled the lid on the pot Miss Brodie joined in the psalm richly, contralto-wise, giving the notes more body:
O enter then his gates with praise, Approach with joy his courts unto.
The rain had stopped and was only now hanging damply within the salt air. All along the sea front Miss Brodie questioned the girls, against the rhythm of the waves, about the appointments of Teddy Lloyd's house, the kind of tea they got, how vast and light was the studio, and what was said.
"He looked very romantic in his own studio," Sandy said.
"How was that?"
"I think it was his having only one arm," said Jenny.
"But he always has only one arm."
"He did more than usual with it," said Sandy.
"He was waving it about," Jenny said. "There was a lovely view from the studio window. He's proud of it."
"The studio is in the attic, I presume?"
"Yes, all along the top of the house. There is a new portrait he has done of his family, it's a little bit amusing, it starts with himself, very tall, then his wife. Then all the little children graded downwards to the baby on the floor, it makes a diagonal line across the canvas."
"What makes it amusing?" said Miss Brodie.
"They are all facing square and they all look serious," Sandy said. "You are supposed to laugh at it."
Miss Brodie laughed a little at this. There was a wonderful sunset across the distant sky, reflected in the sea, streaked with blood and puffed with avenging purple and gold as if the end of the world had come without intruding on every-day life.
"There's another portrait," Jenny said, "not finished yet, of Rose."
"He has been painting Rose?"
"Rose has been sitting for him?"
"Yes, for about a month."
Miss Brodie was very excited. "Rose didn't mention this," she said.
Sandy halted. "Oh, I forgot. It was supposed to be a surprise. You aren't supposed to know."
"What, the portrait, I am to see it?"
Sandy looked confused, for she was not sure how Rose had meant her portrait to be a surprise to Miss Brodie.
Jenny said, "Oh, Miss Brodie, it is the fact that she's sitting for Mr. Lloyd that she wanted to keep for a surprise." Sandy realised, then, that this was right.
"Ah," said Miss Brodie, well pleased. "That is thoughtful of Rose."
Sandy was jealous, because Rose was not supposed to be thoughtful.
"What is she wearing for her portrait?" said Miss Brodie.
"Her gym tunic," Sandy said.
"Sitting sideways," Jenny said.
"In profile," said Miss Brodie.
Miss Brodie stopped a man to buy a lobster for Mr. Lowther. When this was done she said:
"Rose is bound to be painted many times. She may well sit for Mr. Lloyd on future occasions, she is one of the crème de la crème."
It was said in an enquiring tone. The girls understood she was trying quite hard to piece together a whole picture from their random remarks.
Jenny accordingly let fall, "Oh, yes, Mr. Lloyd wants to paint Rose in red velvet."
And Sandy added, "Mrs. Lloyd has a bit of red velvet to put around her, they were trying it round her."
"Are you to return?" said Miss Brodie.
"Yes, all of us," Sandy said. "Mr. Lloyd thinks we're a jolly nice set."
"Have you not thought it remarkable," said Miss Brodie, "that it is you six girls that Mr. Lloyd has chosen to invite to his studio?"
"Well, we're a set," said Jenny.
"Has he invited any other girls from the school?" — but Miss Brodie knew the answer.
"Oh, no, only us."
"It is because you are mine," said Miss Brodie. "I mean of my stamp and cut, and I am in my prime."
Sandy and Jenny had not given much thought to the fact of the art master's inviting them as a group. Indeed, there was something special in his acceptance of the Brodie set. There was a mystery here to be worked out, and it was clear that when he thought of them he thought of Miss Brodie.
"He always asks about you," Sandy said to Miss Brodie, "as soon as he sees us."
"Yes, Rose did tell me that," said Miss Brodie.
Suddenly, like migrating birds, Sandy and Jenny were of one mind for a run and without warning they ran along the pebbly beach into the air which was full of sunset, returning to Miss Brodie to hear of her forthcoming summer holiday when she was going to leave the fattened-up Mr. Lowther, she was afraid, to fend for himself with the aid of the Misses Kerr, and was going abroad, not to Italy this year but to Germany, where Hitler was become Chancellor, a prophet-figure like Thomas Carlyle, and more reliable than Mussolini; the German brownshirts, she said, were exactly the same as the Italian black, only more reliable.
Jenny and Sandy were going to a farm for the summer holidays, where in fact the name of Miss Brodie would not very much be on their lips or in their minds after the first two weeks, and instead they would make hay and follow the sheep about. It was always difficult to realise during term times that the world of Miss Brodie might be half forgotten, as were the worlds of the school houses, Holyrood, Melrose, Argyll and Biggar.
"I wonder if Mr. Lowther would care for sweetbreads done with rice," Miss Brodie said.

@настроение: happy

@темы: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Мюриэл Спарк, Расцвет мисс Джин Броди

2012-01-12 в 21:06 

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
"Why, it's like Miss Brodie!" said Sandy. "It's terribly like Miss Brodie." Then, perceiving that what she had said had accumulated a meaning between its passing her lips and reaching the ears of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd, she said, "Though of course it's Rose, it's more like Rose, it's terribly like Rose."
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2012-01-12 в 21:43 

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
Mr. Lowther had caused Miss Brodie a good deal of worry in the past two years. There had been a time when it seemed he might be thinking of marrying Miss Alison Kerr, and another time when he seemed to favour Miss Ellen, all the while being in love with Miss Brodie herself, who refused him all but her bed-fellowship and her catering.
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2012-01-12 в 21:49 

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
It was plain that Miss Brodie wanted Rose with her instinct to start preparing to be Teddy Lloyd's lover, and Sandy with her insight to act as informant on the affair. It was to this end that Rose and Sandy had been chosen as the crème de la crème. There was a whiff of sulphur about the idea which fascinated Sandy in her present mind. читать дальше

2012-01-12 в 21:53 

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
Miss Mackay, the headmistress, never gave up pumping the Brodie set. She knew it was useless to do so directly, her approach was indirect, in the hope that they would be tricked into letting fall some piece of evidence which could be used to enforce Miss Brodie's retirement. Once a term, the girls went to tea with Miss Mackay.
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2012-01-12 в 22:01 

Dorothy Zbornak
Dorothy Zbornak
"From what you tell me I should think that Rose and Teddy Lloyd will soon be lovers." Sandy realised that Miss Brodie meant it. She had told Miss Brodie how peculiarly all his portraits reflected her. She had said so again and again, for Miss Brodie loved to hear it. She had said that Teddy Lloyd wanted to give up teaching and was preparing an exhibition, and was encouraged in this course by art critics and discouraged by the thought of his large family.
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Sarcastic Witch Dorothy Zbornak