Ralf Adams Cram. The Dead Valley (abridged for upper-intermediate)

This is the abridged version of the mystic story «The Dead Valley» by Ralf Adams Cram. The text is adapted for upper-intermediate. Also there is the story in Russian with audio and music. Enjoy listening during the dark night with your friends!

Ralf Adams Cram. The Dead Valley (upper-intermediate)

The contents:

  1. The Dead Valley. Part 1
  2. The Dead Valley. Part 2
  3. The Dead Valley. Part 3
The text is abridged by M. Gromova. Copyright © Englishstory.ru 2019

Ralf Cram. The Dead Valley

My friend Olof Ehrensvärd is a Swede by birth who by chance has thrown his lot with the New World. I want to tell you the story of his early boyhood. It is a curious story of a boy from a proud family, a boy who is now a tall yellow-bearded man with the sad eyes.

In the winter evenings we play chess together and after a game that ends up with my defeat, we fill our pipes and Ehrensvärd tells me stories of the far, half-remembered days in his fatherland: stories that sound strange and incredible, but stories that, nevertheless, I fully believe. One of them made a strong impression on me, as best I can remember it, here it is.

throw lot with – связать свою судьбу с

fill a pipe – набить трубку

«I never told you how Nils and I went over the hills to Hallsberg, and how we found the Dead Valley, did I? I was about twelve years old, and Nils Sjöberg was a few months younger. We were inseparable at that time, and whatever we did, we did together.

«Once a week it was market day in Engelholm, and Nils and I went there to see what was there at the market. One day we quite lost our hearts, for an old man had brought a little dog to sell, that seemed to us the most beautiful dog in all the world. He was a round, woolly puppy, so funny that Nils and I sat down on the ground and laughed at him, until he came and played with us. He was so jolly that we felt that there was only one desirable thing in life, and that was the little dog of the old man. But unfortunately we had not half money enough to buy him, so we asked the old man not to sell him before the next market day, promising that we would bring the money for him. He gave us his word, and we ran home very fast and begged our mothers to give us money for the little dog.

woolly – мохнатый

jolly – весёлый

beg – выпрашивать

«We got the money, but we could not wait for the next market day. Suppose the puppy should be sold! The thought frightened us so that we begged that we might be allowed to go over the hills to Hallsberg where the old man lived, and get the little dog ourselves, and at last they told us we might go. By starting early in the morning we should reach Hallsberg by three o’clock, and it was arranged that we should stay there that night with Nils’s aunt, and, leaving by noon the next day, be home again by sunset.

«Soon after sunrise we were on our way, after having received instructions that we should start for home at the same hour the next day, so that we might get safely back before nightfall.

start for – направиться к

nightfall – наступление ночи

«For us it was very important: yet the journey was simple enough, along a good road, across the big hills we knew so well, half the territory of this side was the dividing ridge of the Elfborg. Back of Engelholm lay a long valley, from which rose the low mountains, and we had to cross this, and then follow the road along the side of the hills for three or four miles, before a narrow path led to the left up through the pass.

dividing ridge – водораздельный хребет

low mountains – низкогорье

pass – ущелье

«Nothing occurred of interest on the way to Hallsberg where we reached in time. We found that the little dog was not sold, secured him, and so went to the house of Nils’s aunt to spend the night.

secure – заполучить

«Why we did not leave early on the following day, I can’t quite remember. The result was that we did not start for home until afternoon, and when we saw the sun was going down, I think we were a little scared of the possible punishment that awaited us when we got home at midnight.

«So we hurried as fast as possible up the mountain side, while the dusk closed in, and the light died in the purple sky. At first we had talked hilariously, and the little dog had leaped ahead of us with joy. Later, however, a curious oppression came on us; we did not speak or even whistle, while the dog walked behind us, following us with hesitation.

dusk – сумерки

close in – наступать

leap – прыгать

oppression – угнетённость

hesitation – нерешительность

«We had passed through the foothills and the low spurs of the mountains, and were almost at the top, when life seemed to go out of everything, leaving the world dead, so suddenly silent the forest became. We stopped to listen.

foothills – предгорье

spurs – уступ горы

«Perfect silence,—the silence of deep forests at night; and more, even in the wooded mountains, there is always a murmur of little lives, awakened by the darkness: but here and now the silence seemed unbroken even by the turn of a leaf, the movement of night bird or insect. I could hear the blood beat through my veins; and the crushing of the grass under our feet as we stepped with hesitating that sounded like the falling of trees.

wooded – покрытый лесом

murmur – шум

unbroken – ненарушенный

crushing – шуршание

«And the air was stagnant,—dead. What we usually call silence seems so only in relation to the din of ordinary experience. This was silence in the absolute, and it crushed the mind awaking fear.

stagnant – затхлый

din – шум

crush the mind – врезаться в сознание

«I know that Nils and I stared towards each other in terror, listening to our heavy breathing. And the poor little dog we were leading justified our terror. He lay close on the ground, moaning, and moving closer to Nils’s feet. I think this animal fear was the last touch; but just then, as we stood trembling came a sound, so awful, so horrible, that it seemed to rouse us from the dead spell that was on us.

justify – подтверждать

moaning – скулить

last touch – последняя капля

rouse – пробудить

dead spell – смертельное заклятие

«In the depth of the silence came a cry, beginning as a low, sorrowful moan, rising to a tremulous shriek, culminating in a yell. So fearful was it that I could not believe it had actual existence, for a moment I thought it the result of my own animal terror.

cry – крик

sorrowful moan – плачевный стон

tremulous shriek – пронзительный крик

culminating in a yell – переходящий в вопль

«I glanced at Nils: in the pale light of the high stars he was the embodiment of all possible human fear, his jaw fallen, his tongue out, his eyes like those of a hanged man. Without a word we ran, the panic of fear giving us strength, and together, the little dog caught close in Nils’s arms,—anywhere, goal was of no account: we had but one impulse—to get away from that place.

embodiment – воплощение

jaw – челюсть

impulse – порыв


Ralf Cram. The Dead Valley. Part 2.

«So under the black trees we leaped down the mountain side, regardless of path, straight across mountain streams. How long we were running thus, I have no idea, but the forest fell behind, and we found ourselves among the foothills, and fell exhausted on the dry short grass.

leap down – спрыгивать

regardless – независимо

mountain stream – горная речка

«It was lighter here in the open, and presently we looked around to see where we were in order to find the path that would lead us home. We looked in vain for a familiar sign. As I remember, we did not speak to each other once: the terror was too heavy on us for that, but by and by we rose simultaneously and started out across the hills.

in vain – тщетно

simultaneously – одновременно

started out – отправиться в путь

«Still the same silence, the same dead, motionless air—: a heavy heat struck through with an icy chill. Still carrying the helpless dog, Nils went through the hills, and I followed close behind. At last, in front of us, rose a slope touching the white stars. We climbed it, reached the top, and found ourselves gazing down into a great, smooth valley, filled half way to the brim with—what?

motionless – неподвижный

struck – пробиваться

icy chill – ледяной холод

slope – склон

climb – подниматься

smooth valley – голая долина

brim – край

«As far as the eye could see there stretched ashy white sea of velvet fog that lay like motionless water. If it were possible, I think that sea of dead white mist struck even greater terror into my soul than the heavy silence or the deadly cry—it lay there like a dead ocean under the steady stars. Yet through that mist we must go! there seemed no other way home, and, shattered with fear, mad with the one desire to get back, we started down the slope to the sea of milky mist.

ashy white sea – пепельно белое море

velvet fog – густой туман

dead white mist – мертвенно белый туман

strike (struck) terror – вселять ужас

shatter with fear – дрожать от страха

slope – склон

«I put one foot into the ghostly fog. A chill as of death struck through me, stopping my heart, and I stepped backward on the slope. At that instant came again the shriek, close, close, right in our ears, in ourselves.

ghostly fog – призрачный туман

chill – холод

struck through – пронизывать

instant – мгновенно

«This was enough: we turned and ran along the margin of the white sea that throbbed now with fitful motion below us, rising, rising, slowly and steadily, driving us higher and higher up the side of the foothills.

margin – край

throb – колебаться

fitful motion – порывистое движение

steadily – непрерывно

«It was a race for life; that we knew. How we kept it up I cannot understand, but we did, and at last we saw the white sea fall behind us as we staggered up the end of the valley, and then down into a region that we knew, and so into the old path. The last thing I remember was hearing a strange voice, that of Nils, but horribly changed, ‘The dog is dead!’ and then and consciousness went out of me.

race for life – гонка за жизнь

stagger – идти шатаясь

resistlessly – непреодолимо

consciousness went out – терять сознание

«It was some three weeks later, as I remember, that I awoke in my own room, and found my mother sitting beside the bed. I could not think very well at first, but as I slowly grew strong again, vague flashes of recollection began to come to me, and little by little the whole sequence of events of that awful night in the Dead Valley came back. All that I could gain from what was told me was that three weeks before I had been found in my own bed, and that my illness grew fast into brain fever. I tried to speak of the dread things that had happened to me, but noone would believe that, and so I closed my mouth and kept it to myself.

vague flashes of  recollection – смутные воспоминания

sequence of events – развитие событий

gain – получать

brain fever – воспаление мозга

dread things – странные вещи

«I must see Nils, however, and so I asked for him. My mother told me that he also had been ill with a strange fever, but that he was now quite well again. Presently they brought him in, and when we were alone I began to speak to him of the night on the mountain. I shall never forget the shock that struck me down on my pillow when the boy denied everything: denied having gone with me, ever having heard the cry, having seen the valley, or feeling the deadly chill of the ghostly fog. Nothing would shake his determined ignorance, and in spite of myself I was forced to admit that his denials came from blank oblivion.

fever – лихорадка

determined ignorance – решительное неведение

blank oblivion – провал в памяти

«My weakened brain was in a turmoil. Was it all a delirium? Or had the horror of the real thing blotted Nils’s mind into blankness so far as the events of the night in the Dead Valley were concerned? The latter explanation seemed the only one, else how explain the sudden illness which in a night had struck us both down? I said nothing more, either to Nils or to my own people, but waited, with a growing determination that, once well again, I would find that valley if it really existed.

turmoil – смятение

delirium – горячка

blot mind into blankness – стереть из памяти

concern – вызывать тревогу

determination — решимость

«It was some weeks before I was really well enough to go, but finally, late in September, I chose a bright, warm, still day, the last smile of the dying summer, and started early in the morning along the path that led to Hallsberg. I was sure I knew where the trail led to the right, down which we had come from the valley of dead water, for a great tree grew by the Hallsberg path at the point where, we had found the home road. Presently I saw it to the right, a little distance ahead.

trail – след

«I think the bright sunlight and the clear air had worked as a tonic to me, for by the time I came to the foot of the great pine, I had quite lost faith, believing at last that it was indeed but the nightmare of madness. Nevertheless, I turned sharply to the right into a narrow path that led through a dense thicket. As I did so I stepped over something. A swarm of flies sung into the air around me, and looking down I saw the matted fleece and the poor little bones of the dog we had bought in Hallsberg.

lose faith – потерять веру

a dense thicket – плотная чаща

swarm of flies – стая мух

matted fleece – комок шерсти


Ralf Cram. The Dead Valley. Part 3

«Then my courage went out of me, and I knew that it all was true, and that now I was frightened. Pride and the desire for adventure urged me to conitue my way. The path was hardly visible: the bushes above grew thick and hardly penetrable. The land rose slowly, and rising grew clearer, until at last I came out on a great slope of hill,  very like my memory of that rise of land where we might find the dead valley and the icy fog. I looked at the sun; it was bright and clear, and all around insects were humming in the autumn air, and birds were darting to and fro. Surely there was no danger, not until nightfall at least; so I began to whistle and mount the last crest of the hill.

urge me on – убедить меня

hardly penetrable – трудно проходимый

slope – склон

humming – жужжащий

darting to and fro – юркать туда сюда

crest of the hill – гребень холма

«There lay the Dead Valley! A great oval basin, almost as smooth as though made by man. On all sides the grass crept over the brink of the encircling hills, from dusty green on the crests, then to a deadly white, that was forming a thin ring, running in a long line around the slope. And then? Nothing. Bare, brown, hard earth, dead and barren. No grass, not even a stone, but only the expanse of beaten clay.

basin – впадина

smooth – гладкая, ровная поверхность

crept over the brink – проходить по краю

encircling – окружающий

crest – гребень холма

barren – бесплодный

expanse of beaten clay – просторы битой глины

«In the midst of the basin, perhaps a mile and a half away, the level expanse was broken by a great dead tree, rising leafless into the air. Without a moment’s hesitation I started down into the valley and made for this goal. Fear seemed to have left me, and even the valley itself did not look so very terrifying. At all events, I was driven by an overwhelming curiosity, and there seemed to be but one thing in the world to do,—to get to that Tree! As I walked along the hard earth, I noticed that voices of birds and insects had died away. No bee or butterfly in the air, no insects leaped over the dull earth. The very air itself was stagnant.

level expanse – ровное пространство

overwhelming curiosity – переполняющее любопытство

dull earth – безжизненная земля

stagnant – затхлый

«As I drew near the skeleton tree, I noticed the glint of sunlight on a kind of white mound around its roots, and I wondered curiously. It was not until I had come close that I saw its nature.

glint – мерцающий свет

mound – насыпь

«All around the roots were little bones. Tiny skulls of rodents and of birds, thousands of them, rising about the dead tree and lying for several yards in all directions, until the dreadful pile ended in skulls and scattered skeletons. Here and there a larger bone appeared,— of a sheep, a horse, and to one side a human skull.

tiny skulls of rodents – крошечные черепа грызунов

dreadful pile – страшная груда

skull – череп

scattered skeletons – разбросанные скелеты

«I stood quite still, staring with all my eyes, when suddenly the silence was broken by a faint cry high over my head. I looked up and saw a great falcon turning and sailing downward just over the tree. In a moment more she fell motionless on the bones.

falcon – сокол

«Horror struck me, and I rushed for home, a strange numbness growing in me. I ran steadily, on and on. At last I glanced up. Where was the rise of hill? I looked around wildly. Close before me was the dead tree with its pile of bones. I had circled it round and round, and the valley wall was still a mile and a half away.

numbness – окоченение

steadily – непрерывно

pile of bones – куча костей

«I stood dazed and frozen. The sun was setting down, towards the line of hills. In the east the dark was growing fast. Was there still time? Time! It was not that I wanted, it was will! My feet seemed clogged as in a nightmare. I could hardly drag them over the barren earth. And then I felt the slow chill creeping through me. I looked down. Out of the earth a thin mist was rising, that grew ever larger. The western hills halved the copper sun. When it was dark I should hear that shriek again, and then I should die. I knew that, and with every remaining atom of will I rushed towards the red west through the mist that crept around my ankles.

dazed – растерянный

clogged – застыть

barren earth – бесплодная земля

halved – наполовину закрыло

copper – медно-красный цвет

remaining atom – оставшийся атом

creep – обвивать  

«And as I fought my way off from the Tree, the horror grew, until at last I thought I was going to die. The silence pursued me like dumb ghosts, the still air held my breath, the hellish fog caught at my feet like cold hands.

pursue – преследовать

dumb ghosts – немые  призраки

hellish fog – адский туман

«But I won! though not a moment too soon. As I crawled on my hands and knees up the slope, I heard, far away and high in the air, the cry that already had almost bereft me of reason. It was faint and vague, but unmistakable in its horrible intensity. I glanced behind. The fog was dense and pallid, rising up the slope. The sky was gold under the setting sun, but below was the ashy gray of death. I stood for a moment on the brink of this sea of hell, and then leaped down the slope. The sunset opened before me, the night closed behind, and as I crawled home weak and tired, darkness shut down on the Dead Valley.»

crawl – ползти

slope – склон

bereft me of reason – лишить меня разума

faint and vague – слабый и расплывчатый

dense and pallid – плотный и бледный

ashy – пепельный

brink – край

The End

I hope you like «The Dead Valley». The story was written by the American architect (!) Ralf Adams Cram in 1895.

Enjoy listening to it in Russian — Мертвая долина (на русском языке).
And … read more horror stories on EnglishStory.ru

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