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    The End of the Flight

    Автор книги Somerset Maugham

    Время прослушивания 03:24, Дата публикации

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    I shook hands with the skipper and he wished me luck. Then I went down to the lower deck crowded with passengers, and made my way to the ladder. Looking over the ship's side I saw that my luggage was already in the boat. It was full of gesticulating natives. I got in and a place was made for me. We were about three miles from the shore and a fresh breeze was blowing. As we drew near I saw a lot of coconut trees and among them the brown roofs of the village. A Chinese who spoke English pointed out to me a white bungalow as the residence of the district officer. Though he did not know it, it was with him that I was going to stay. I had a letter of introduction to him in my pocket. I felt somewhat lonely when I landed and my bags were put beside me on the beach. This was a far off place, this little town on the north coast of Borneo, and I felt a trifle shy at the thought of presenting myself to a total stranger with the announcement that I was going to sleep under his roof, eat his food and drink his whisky, till another boat came in to take me to the place where I was going. But everything turned out all right. The moment I reached the bungalow and sent in my letter he came out, a sturdy, ruddy, cheerful man, of thirty five perhaps, and greeted me with heartiness. While he held my hand he shouted to a boy to bring drinks and to another to look after my luggage. He cut short my apologies. "Good God, man, you have no idea how glad I am to see you. Don't think I'm doing anything for you in putting you up. The boot's on the other leg. And stay as long as you like. Stay a year." I laughed. He put away his day's work, saying that he had nothing to do that could not wait till tomorrow, and threw himself into a long chair. We talked and drank and talked. Towards evening, when it was no longer hot we went for a long walk in the jungle and came back wet to the skin. We took a bath, and then we dined. I was tired out and though it was clear that my host was willing to go on talking straight through the night I was obliged to beg him to allow me to go to bed. "All right, I'll just come along to your room and see that everything's all right." It was a large room with verandahs on two sides of it and a huge bed protected by mosquito netting. "The bed is rather hard. Do you mind?" "Not a bit. I shall sleep without rocking tonight." My host looked at the bed thoughtfully. "It was a Dutchman who slept in it last. Do you want to hear a funny story?" I wanted chiefly to go to bed, but he was my host, and then I know that it is hard to have an amusing story to tell and find no listener. "He came on the boat that brought you here. He came into my office and asked me where he could find a place to stay for some time. I told him that if he hadn't anywhere to go I didn't mind putting him up. He jumped at the invitation. I told him to send for his luggage.