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.His sentences advanced on you deliberately, like a furry caterpillar; and often they intended to tickle.There was even the suspicion of a lisp in his speech.Although the two manners were so utterly different, the one fluttering and always on the point of flight, the other thick and padded, Nancy was certain that the lisp had been caught from Polydore.Another contagion was the habit of comfortable cardigans in colours which, Marcus was persuaded, would not shew any spots that fell on them.But they did shew: a glitter of dried glue; a few freckles of gold leaf rubbed into the ribbing.Nancy was always scrubbing at his clothes, sometimes in the sink, sometimes with her thumbnail while he was wearing them."Lady Macbeth," he said.His fingers -- splayed, perhaps, by fitting intricate little bits of wood into place and pressing them firm until the glue set -- developed plump little cushions at the tips; they looked like the fingers of one of the frogs which have suckers for clinging to tree trunks or to the back of the female.They had not lost their sensitive appearance; but it was no longer the sensitivity of avoiding contact with substances; now, they seemed to move deliberately, though still lightly, to any substance which presented itself and to take in its texture through the pores -- to appreciate, almost to listen to, textures and consistencies.Because their dining room, although full of furniture, was not furnished, Nancy and Marcus could not ask people to dinner -- at least "not", as Nancy put it, " people : because I'm damned if I'm going to tell my guests they mustn't spill the wine on the table because the table isn't ours." They could entertain only such people as could be invited to eat in the kitchen.That would have included Marcus's mother, of course, were it not that she had a distrust of food not cooked by herself.She preferred Nancy and Marcus to come to her; when she did visit them in Chelsea, it was for tea, where she ate nothing.Nancy's parents they did not invite because of the embarrassment about whether to invite them together or separately.They both seemed too weary to sustain a whole dinner and conversation with one another.It was easier for the four of them to go every now and then to a recital at the Wigmore Hall -- where Marcus could so simply buy the tickets during his lunch hour.Then he, Nancy and Nancy's father would wait in the at first crowded and then emptied foyer for Nancy's mother, who always arrived at the last moment, rushed, hurrying herself in from a rainy night outside, and the four of them would slide into the auditorium one second before the music began; whereupon the separating effect of music would take charge and isolate each of them into a little listening centre, as though each one carried his own receiving set and wore his own earphones, so that they did not have to behave as a group, let alone a family, all evening.Orchestral music, Marcus thought, might have bludgeoned them, by its very beat and brassiness, into a communal response; but since it was always chamber music, the thin, exact tones, each quite finite and without reverberation, moved drily towards them and enclosed each person in his own linear, unbreakable confine.Marcus remembered how the parents had stolen into the drawing room of their own house to listen to music, like the animals in The Magic Flute.Now it seemed to him that they all four stole separately into the Wigmore Hall and, when the music was over, stole separately out again.That left Marcus's sister who could be invited to sit in the warm kitchen, under the hams, over prolonged meals: and Polydore.He had arrived one evening after Marcus had spent the day at home, to ask after one of the pieces Marcus was working on; and he had stayed until the smell of cooking was so indecent that they had to invite him to dinner.After that, he began dropping in once a week, and since it was obvious he was going to come in any case they thought they might as well invite him in so many words, which at least prevented him from coming when it was inconvenient.He was gluttonous.He would endure even the deliberate discomfort of Nancy's welcome to get at her cooking.He ate and ate and ate and remained as thin as ever.They were awkward evenings.Marcus addressed him as Polly and made jokes with him or talked shop.Nancy said little and addressed him as Siegfried, with the proper German z sound.Nancy did not, in fact, like either of her guests.With Marcus's sister, even Marcus did not attempt to talk much.She always brought her knitting, and after coffee she would push her chair back, take out her knitting, shake it clear of the empty cups and sit knitting over the table.In bed after one of her visits Nancy said to Marcus:"I've discovered what it is I dislike about her.""What?""She's got breasts [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]