Ray Bradbury. The Dragon (intermediate)
The Dragon by Ray Bradbury (part 1, for intermediate)
Words to understand the story:
- on the moor — на равнине, поросшей вереском
- in the wilderness — в этом диком месте
- strewn hither and thither — рассеяны здесь и там
- the birth of Jesus — рождение Христа
- to breath
- breathing (breath)
- a sword
- to give away
- to smell
- a castle
- to sigh
- a nightmare
- to kindle
- a victim
- a night
- to fail
- to whisper
- to vanish
- to put on
The night fell, the silence was on the moor. It was years since a bird had flown in the dark sky. Two men were sitting by their lonely fire in the wilderness, darkness pumped quietly in their veins and ticked silently in their temples and their wrists.
Firelight gleamed on their wild faces. They listened to each other’s faint breathing.
At last, one man poked the fire with his sword.
«Don’t do that; you’ll give us away!»
«No matter,» said the second man. «The dragon can smell us miles off, anyway. How cold it is! I wish I was back at the castle«.
«It’s death, not sleep, we’re after….»
«Why? Why? The dragon never sets foot in the town!»
«Quiet, fool! He eats men travelling alone from our town to the next!»
«Let them be eaten and let us get home!»
«Wait now; listen!»
The two men sat in silence. They waited for a long time, nothing had happened, nothing was heard, there was only the shake of their horses’ buckles, softly, softly.
«Ah.» The second man sighed. «What a land of nightmares. Everything happens here. God, listen! This dragon, they say his eyes are fire. His breath is white gas; you can see him go across the dark lands. He runs with thunder and kindles the grass. Sheep panic and die insane. Women deliver forth monsters. The dragon’s fury is such that tower walls shake back to dust. His victims, at sunrise, are strewn hither and thither on the hills. How many knights, I ask, have gone for this monster and failed, even as we shall fail?»
«Enough of that!»
«More than enough! Out here I cannot tell what year this is!»
«Nine hundred years since the birth of Jesus«.
«No, no,» whispered the second man, eyes shut. «On this moor is no Time, is only Forever. I feel if I ran back on the road the town would be gone, the people yet unborn, things changed; don’t ask how I know, the moor knows, and tells me. And here we sit alone in the land of the fire dragon. God save us!»
«What’s use? The dragon runs from nowhere; we cannot guess its home. It vanishes in fog, we know not where it goes. Aye, put on our armour, we’ll die well-dressed».
The second man turned his head.
* * *
The Dragon by Ray Bradbury (part 2, for intermediate)
Words to understand:
- all time confused — время смешалось
- the midnight wilderness — полночная пустыня
- terrible wailing cry — ужасающий пронзительный вой
- gave him plenty of whistle — свистели вовсю
- to thicken
- fog/ mist
- a sound
- a lightning
- to rush
- to roar
- to appear / disappear
- to flash
- to strike (struck, struck)
- to smash
- to get the willies
- to hit (hit, hit)
Across the dim country the wind blew full of dust from clocks that used dust for telling time. The burnt leaves were shaken from some autumn tree beyond the horizon. This wind blew, making the blood thicken. It was a thousand souls dying and all time confused. It was a fog inside of a darkness, and this place was no man’s place and there was no year or hour at all, but only these men were standing in the emptiness of the moor. Sudden thunder was heard, then came the lightning. The rain drenched the moor, and the two men were waiting alone, listening to its sound.
«There,» whispered the first man. «Oh, there…»
Miles off, rushing with a great roar appeared the dragon.
In silence the men mounted their horses. The midnight wilderness was split by as the dragon roared nearer, nearer. Its yellow glare appeared above a hill and then disappeared into a valley.
They spurred their horses forward to a small hollow.
«This is where it passes!»
They got their swords ready for the battle.
On the instant the dragon rounded a hill. Its monstrous yellow eye flashed on them. With a terrible wailing cry it was going forward.
The sword struck under the huge yellow eye. The dragon buckled him, threw the man through the air, knocked him down. Passing, the monster smashed the other horse and a rider. The two knights were dead. The roaring dragon, the fire and the smoke all around, disappeared.
«Did you see it?» cried a voice. «Just like I told you!»
«The same! The same! A knight in armour, by the Lord, Harry! We hit him!»
«Are you going to stop?»
«Did once; found nothing. Don’t like to stop on this moor. I get the willies«.
«But we’ve hit something».
«We gave him plenty of whistle; but he didn’t move».
The steam cut the mist aside.
«We’ll arrive at Stokely on time. More coal, eh, Fred?»
The night train vanished over cold earth, towards the north, leaving black smoke and steam to dissolve in the air minutes after it had passed and gone forever.
- Best English Stories (for intermediate) by English and American Writers
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