Uit: The Stranger’s Child
“She heard a faint familiar sound, the knock of the broken gate against the post at the bottom of the garden; and then an unfamiliar voice, with an edge to it, and then George’s laugh. He must have brought Cecil the other way, through the Priory and the woods. Daphne ran up the narrow half-hidden steps in the rockery and from the top she could just make them out in the spinney below. She couldn’t really hear what they were saying, but she was disconcerted by Cecil’s voice; it seemed so quickly and decisively to take control of their garden and their house and the whole of the coming weekend. It was an excitable voice that seemed to say it didn’t care who heard it, but in its tone there was also something mocking and superior. She looked back at the house, the dark mass of the roof and the chimney-stacks against the sky, the lamp-lit windows under low eaves, and thought about Monday, and the life they would pick up again very readily after Cecil had gone.
Under the trees the dusk was deeper, and their little wood seemed interestingly larger. The boys were dawdling, for all Cecil’s note of impatience. Their pale clothes, the rim of George’s boater, caught the failing light as they moved slowly between the birch-trunks, but their faces were hard to make out. George had stopped and was poking at something with his foot, Cecil, taller, standing close beside him, as if to share his view of it. She went cautiously towards them, and it took her a moment to realize that they were quite unaware of her; she stood still, smiling awkwardly, let out an anxious gasp, and then, mystified and excited, began to explore her position. She knew that Cecil was a guest and too grown-up to play a trick on, though George was surely in her power. But having the power, she couldn’t think what to do with it. Now Cecil had his hand on George’s shoulder, as if consoling him, though he was laughing too, more quietly than before; the curves of their two hats nudged and overlapped. She thought there was something nice in Cecil’s laugh, after all, a little whinny of good fun, even if, as so often, she was not included in the joke. Then Cecil raised his head and saw her and said, ‘Oh, hello!’ as if they’d already met several times and enjoyed it.
George was confused for a second, peered at her as he quickly buttoned his jacket, and said, ‘Cecil missed his train,’ rather sharply.
‘Well, clearly,’ said Daphne, who chose a certain dryness of tone against the constant queasy likelihood of being teased.
‘And then of course I had to see Middlesex,’ said Cecil, coming forward and shaking her hand. ‘We seem to have tramped over much of the county.’
‘He brought you the country way,’ said Daphne. ‘There’s the country way, and the suburban way, which doesn’t create such a fine impression. You just go straight up Stanmore Hill.’
In mij zit een klein geschilderd pleintje,
Omzoomd door oude winkels, met opzichtige luifels.
En voor de winkels zitten oude mannen met open hemden te roken,
Zonlicht te drinken.
De oude mannen zijn mijn gedachten:
En ik kom elke avond naar ze toe, in een krakende kar,
En laad stilletjes voorraden uit.
We vullen slanke pijpen en praten,
En inhaleren geuren van bleke bloemen in het midden van het pleintje. . . .
Sterke mannen, rinkelende vrouwen en druipende, jengelende kinderen
Kuieren aan ons voorbij, of de winkels in.
Ze groeten de winkeliers en tikken voor mij tegen hun hoed of voorhoofd. . . .
Op een avond zal ik niet terugkeren naar mijn mensen.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen