فصل 07

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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A Problem with Eyes

Pelagia treated the captain as badly as she could. If she served him food, she would deliberately spill it as she put it down, and eventually she noticed that he had acquired the habit of not pulling in his chair until she had already put the food on the table. His failure to protest at her treatment of him and his constant politeness made her even more annoyed. Her anger was so deep and so bitter that she needed to shout at him or even strike him in order to release it. After two months of sleepless nights, months during which she had done her best to annoy him, the captain remained calm and friendly.

One day he left his gun on the table. After some thought, Pelagia decided to put the gun in a bowl of water for a few minutes in the hope that this would do some damage. The captain came in and caught her just as she was lifting the gun out of the water. She heard a voice behind her and, in her fear, dropped it back in the bowl.

‘Oh God,’ she exclaimed, ‘you frightened me!’

The captain looked down at the gun, raised his eyebrows and said coolly, ‘I see you’re trying to make trouble for me.’ This was not what she had expected, but nevertheless her heart beat faster with fear and anxiety. ‘I was washing it,’ she said weakly at last. ‘It was terribly oily.’

‘How charming to know so little about guns,’ said the captain. Pelagia went red, strangely angered by his suggestion, which she knew he did not mean, that she was a sweet and silly girl who did stupid things.

‘You are not a good liar,’ the captain added.

‘What do you expect?’ she demanded, immediately wondering what she had meant.

The captain seemed to know, however. ‘It must be very difficult for you all to have to put up with us.’ He removed the gun from the bowl, sighed and said, ‘I suppose you have done me a favour. It does need cleaning.’

‘Aren’t you angry, then? Why aren’t you angry?’

‘What’s anger got to do with music? Do you really believe I’ve got nothing important to think about? Let’s just think about important things and leave one another in peace. I’ll leave you alone and you can leave me alone.’

This idea struck Pelagia as new and unacceptable. She did not want to leave him alone, she wanted to shout at him and hit him. Suddenly overcome with emotion, she struck him with all her force, right across the left cheek. He tried to step back in time, but was too late. He steadied himself and touched a hand to his face, as if comforting himself, then held out the gun. ‘Put it back in the water,’ he said, ‘I might find it less painful.’ This remark made Pelagia even angrier. She rushed out into the yard and kicked an iron pot, injuring her toe, then threw the pot over the wall. The captain, watching her from the window, shook his head in amazement. These Greek girls, such passion and fire, he thought admiringly, and then wondered why no one had ever written an opera set in modern Greece. A tune entered his mind and he began to sing it softly to himself, thinking that perhaps he would call it ‘Pelagia’s March’.

As the months went by, Pelagia noticed that she was losing her anger, and this puzzled and upset her. The fact was that the captain had become as much a part of the house as the goat or her own father, and she was quite used to seeing him playing with little Lemoni in the yard, or seated at the table, deep in concentration, composing music for the mandolin. Early in the morning she looked forward with pleasure to the moment when he would enter the kitchen and say, ‘Kalimcra Kyria Pelagia. Is Carlo here yet?’ and in the evening she would actually begin to worry if he were a little late.

A new source of anger developed, the problem being that this time the anger was directed against herself. It seemed that she just could not help looking at him, and he was always catching her. There was something about him, sitting at the table as he went through his paperwork, that made her look up at him regularly. But every time she looked up, he did too, and she would be caught in his steady gaze as surely as if he had grasped her by the wrists.

For a few seconds they would look at one another and then she would grow red and look down. Then a few seconds later she would look up, and at that moment he would return her glance. It was impossible and embarrassing. ‘I’ve got to stop doing this,’ she would tell herself and, certain that he was deep in his tasks, would look up and get caught again.

She knew he was playing a game with her, that she was being played with so gently that it was impossible to protest. After all, she had never caught him looking at her, so it was all her fault, obviously. Nevertheless, it was a game of which he was in absolute command, and in that sense she was its victim. She decided that she would not be the one to look down; she would wait until he broke away. She searched for every last bit of courage and looked up.

They looked at one another for what seemed like hours and Pelagia wondered foolishly if it was considered acceptable to blink. Her eyes began to water and she started seeing two captains instead of one. He did not look away but began to make funny faces, showing his teeth like a horse, and moving the tip of his nose from side to side, so that Pelagia began a smile, then laughed aloud and blinked. Corelli jumped to his feet, crying, ‘I won! I won,’ and the doctor looked up from his book, exclaiming, ‘What? What?’

‘You cheated,’ protested Pelagia, laughing. The doctor looked from the captain to his daughter, adjusted his glasses and sighed. ‘Whatever next?’ he demanded, knowing perfectly well what was next, and working out in advance how to deal with it.

Some days later they passed each other at the door, she going out and he returning from work. Unselfconsciously, she raised one hand to his left cheek and, in passing, kissed him on the other. He was astonished and, by the time she reached the entrance to the yard, so was she, because it was not until then that she realized what she had done. She stopped as if she had walked straight into a wall, felt her blood rising to the roots of her hair, and realized that she did not dare look back at him. He called out, as she knew he would, ‘Kyria Pelagia,’

‘What?’ she demanded.

‘What’s for dinner?’

‘Don’t laugh at me. I thought you were my father. I always kiss him like that when he comes in.’

‘Very understandable. We are both old and small.’

‘If you are going to laugh at me, I shall never speak to you again.’

He came out and threw himself upon his knees before her.

‘Oh no,’ he cried, ‘not that. Shoot me, beat me, but don’t say you’ll never speak to me.’ He grasped her round the knees and pretended to weep.

‘The whole village is looking,’ she protested. ‘Stop it at once.’

‘My heart is broken,’ he cried and, taking her hand, he began to cover it with kisses.

‘Stupid goat, you are insane.’

Corelli laughed and got to his feet. ‘Come inside,’ he said, ‘I’ve got something very interesting to show you.’

Relieved by this sudden change of subject, she followed him through the door, but found that he was passing her on the way out again. He put his hands on each side of her head, kissed her dramatically on the forehead, exclaimed, ‘I’m sorry, I thought it was the doctor,’ and then ran away across the yard and down the street. She stared after him in amazement, making every effort not to laugh or smile.

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