en-fr  Three Hours between Planes  by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) Short story
C'était une occasion folle mais Donald était de bonne disposition, en forme et s'ennuyait, avec un sentiment de tâche ennuyeuse accomplie.

Il allait maintenant s'offrir une récompense.

Peut-être.

Quand l'avion eut atterri, il débarqua dans une nuit d'été du Midwest et se dirigea vers l'aéroport isolé du village, banal comme un vieil "entrepôt ferroviaire" rouge.

Il ne savait pas si elle était en vie, si elle résidait dans cette ville, ou quel était son nom actuel.

Avec exaltation, il rechercha dans l'annuaire téléphonique l'adresse de son père qui pourrait aussi bien être mort, au cours de ces vingt années.

Non. Juge Harmon Holmes --- Hillside 3194.

Une voix amusée de femme répondit à sa requête pour parler à Miss Nancy Holmes.
"Nancy est Madame Walter Gifford maintenant. Qui est à l'appareil ? Mais Donald raccrocha sans répondre. Il avait découvert ce qu'il voulait savoir et n'avait que trois heures.

Il ne se souvenait d'aucun Walter Gifford et il eut un autre moment d'hésitation pendant qu'il parcourait l'annuaire téléphonique. Elle aurait pu s'être mariée hors de la ville.

Non. Walter Gifford -- Hillside 1191. Le sang refluait du bout de ses doigts;

"Allo ?"

"Allo. Mme Gifford est-elle là -- c'est un vieil ami à elle." "C'est Mme Gifford." Il se souvenait ou pensait se souvenir, de l'étrange magie de sa voix.

— Donald Plant. Je ne vous ai pas vue depuis l'âge de douze ans. — Oooh ! Le ton était celui de la surprise totale, très polie, mais on n'y distinguait ni joie ni reconnaissance certaine. ... Donald ! ajouta la voix. Cette fois, il y avait quelque chose de plus que de la mémoire chancelante.

". ... ... Quand êtes-vous revenu en ville ? Puis, cordialement, où êtes-vous ?
— Je sors de l'aéroport... seulement pour quelques heures. — Eh bien, passez me voir. — Vous êtes sure que vous n'alliez pas vous coucher ? — Mon dieu, non ! s'exclama-t-elle. — J'étais assise là seule... avec un verre de whisky. Dites seulement à votre chauffeur de taxi... ... Sur le chemin, Donald analysa la situation.

Ses mots « à l'aéroport » prouvaient qu'il avait conservé sa position dans la haute bourgeoisie.

La solitude de Nancy pourrait indiquer qu'elle avait évolué en femme sans attraits ni amis.

Son mari pouvait être soit absent, soit couché. Et ... parce qu'elle avait toujours dix ans dans ses rêves ... le whisky le stupéfiait.

Mais il se ravisa avec un sourire ... elle approchait les trente ans.

À l'extrémité d'une courbe, il aperçut une petite beauté aux cheveux noirs debout dans l'embrasure lumineuse de la porte, un verre à la main.

Surpris par son apparition, Donald sortit du taxi en disant : — Mme Gifford ? Elle alluma la lumière du porche et le fixa, les yeux écarquillés, hésitante. La perplexité laissa place à un léger sourire.

— Donald... c'est toi... nous changeons tous tellement. Oh, comme c'est drôle ! Alors qu'ils entraient, l'expression « toutes ces années» sonna à leurs oreilles, et Donald sentit son estomac chavirer.

Cela venait en partie du souvenir de leur dernière rencontre — quand elle l'avait renversé à vélo et l'avait totalement ignoré —, et en partie à cause de la peur qu'ils n'aient rien à se dire.

C'était comme une réunion d'anciens... mais, là, l'échec à retrouver le passé était dissimulé par la circonstance hâtive et tapageuse.

Effaré, il réalisa que cela serait peut-être une heure vide et longue. Désespérément, il se jeta à l'eau.

— Tu as toujours été quelqu'un d'adorable. Mais je suis un peu choqué de te retrouver aussi belle qu'avant." Cela fonctionna. La prise de conscience immédiate de leur état modifié, l'audacieux compliment, firent d'eux d'intéressants étrangers au lieu d'amis d'enfance maladroits.

— Tu veux un whisky soda? demanda-t-elle. — Non? Je t'en prie, ne vas pas croire que je boive en cachette, mais c'était une nuit déprimante.

J'attendais mon mari mais il a télégraphié qu'il allait rester deux jours de plus. Il est adorable, Donald, et très séduisant.

Un peu ton genre et ton teint. Elle hésita, ... et je pense qu'il a quelqu'un à New York... et je ne sais pas qui. — Maintenant que je t'ai vue, ça me semble impossible, lui assura-t-il.

J'ai été marié six ans et il y a eu une époque où je me suis torturé de la sorte.

Et puis, un jour, j'ai jeté la jalousie hors de ma vie à jamais. Après la mort de mon épouse, j'en fus très malheureux. Cela m'a laissé de très riches souvenirs... rien de gâché, abimé ou difficile à remémorer." Elle le regarda attentivement puis avec sympathie tandis qu'il parlait.

— Je suis vraiment désolée, dit-elle. Et après un bon moment, "Tu as beaucoup changé. Tourne la tête. Je me souviens de père qui disait : "Ce garçon a un cerveau. Tu as probablement argumenté contre cela. — J'étais impressionnée. Jusqu'alors, je pensais que tout le monde avait un cerveau. C'est pour cela que ça me reste en mémoire. — Qu'est-ce qui te reste d'autre en mémoire? demanda-t-il en riant.

Tout-à-coup, Nancy se leva et fit quelques pas.

"Ah, voilà", lui reprocha-t-elle. "Ce n'est pas juste" ! Je suppose que j'étais une polissonne. "Pas vraiment" dit-il fermement. * Et je prendrai bien un verre maintenant * . Comme elle lui servait à boire, sans lui faire face il continua : * Pense-tu que tu étais la seule petite fille qui n’ait été jamais embrassée *? * Est-ce bien le sujet * ? demanda-t-elle. Son irritation passagère s'estompa et elle dit : "Que diable" ! Nous nous sommes bien amusés. Comme dans la chanson".
"En promenade en traîneau". "Oui ... et au pique-nique chez ... Trudy James. Et à Frontenac cet ... ces étés." C'était de la balade en traîneau dont il se souvenait le plus et de ses joues froides l'embrassant dans la paille dans un coin tandis que son rire montait jusqu'aux étoiles blanches et glacées.

Le couple près d'eux leur tournait le dos et il avait embrassé son joli petit cou et ses oreilles, mais jamais ses lèvres.

"Et la fête des Mack où ils ont joué au bureau de poste, je ne pouvais pas y aller parce que j'avais les oreillons" dit-il.

"Je ne me souviens pas de cela". "Oh, si tu étais là. Et on t'a embrassée, j'étais fou de jalousie comme jamais je ne l'ai été depuis." "C'est drôle, je ne m'en souviens pas. Peut-être ne voulais-je pas m'en souvenir". "Mais pourquoi" ? demanda-t-il amusé.

"Nous étions deux enfants parfaitement innocents.

Nancy, chaque fois que j'ai parlé du passé à mon épouse, je lui ai dit que tu étais la fille que j'ai aimée presque autant qu'elle.

Mais je crois que je t'ai vraiment aimée autant qu'elle.

Quand nous avons quitté la ville, je t'ai emportée dans mes entrailles comme un boulet de canon. — Étais-tu tellement... ému? — Mon Dieu, oui!

Je... Il réalisa soudain qu'ils se tenaient juste à deux pieds l'un de l'autre, qu'il lui parlait comme s'il l'aimait au moment présent, qu'elle levait les yeux vers lui, les lèvres entrouvertes et le regard assombri.


— Continue, dit-elle, j'ai honte de le dire... j'aime ça.

Je ne savais pas que tu étais si bouleversé à ce moment. Je pensais que c'était moi qui étais bouleversée. — Toi! s'exclama-t-il.

— Tu ne te souviens pas de m'avoir laissé tomber à la pharmacie? Il rit. — Tu m'as tiré la langue. — Je n'en ai aucun souvenir.

Il m'a semblé que c'était toi qui m'avais laissé tomber. Elle posa doucement la main sur son bras, presque pour le réconforter.

— J'ai un album de photos à l'étage que je n'ai pas regardé depuis des années. Je vais l'exhumer." Donald resta assis cinq minutes, sa faisant deux réflexions... d'abord l'impossibilité sans espoir de concilier ce que différentes personnes se rappelaient à propos du même événement... et ensuite que, d'une façon effrayante, Nancy l'émouvait en tant que femme autant qu'elle l'avait ému quand il était enfant.

Une demie heure avait généré une émotion qu'il n'avait pas connue depuis le décès de sa femme... qu'il n'avait jamais espéré connaître à nouveau.

Côte à côte sur un canapé, ils ouvrirent l'album entre eux. Nancy le regarda, souriante et ravie.

— Oh, c'est trop drôle, dit-elle.

Trop drôle que tu sois si gentil, que tu te souviennes de moi si... merveilleusement.

Laisse-moi te dire... J'aurais aimé le savoir à ce moment-là! Après ton départ, je t'ai détesté.
— Quel dommage, dit-il avec douceur.

— Mais pas maintenant, le rassura-t-elle, et puis impulsivement, on s'embrasse et on se réconcilie — . . ce n'est pas être une bonne épouse, dit-elle au bout d'une minute. Franchement, je ne crois pas avoir embrassé deux hommes depuis mon mariage." Il était en émoi... mais surtout gêné.

Avait-il embrassé Nancy? ou un souvenir? ou cette adorable étrangère frissonnante qui détournait son regard de lui et tournait une page de l'album?

— Attend! dit-il. Je ne pense pas que je pourrais regarder une photo pendant quelques secondes. — Nous n'allons pas recommencer. Je ne me sens pas si calme non plus. Donald dit une de ces banalités qui recouvrent un tas de sujets.

— Serait-ce si horrible si nous retombions amoureux? — Tais-toi! Elle rit, mais d'une voix haletante. — C'est terminé. Ça a été un instant. Un instant que je vais devoir oublier. — N'en parle pas à ton mari. — Pourquoi pas? Habituellement, je lui dis tout. — Ça va lui faire mal. Ne dis jamais de telles choses à un homme. — D'accord, je ne lui dirai rien.

— Embrasse-moi encore, dit-il de façon incohérente, mais Nancy avait tourné une page et montrait une photo du doigt avec impatience.

— C'est toi, cria-t-elle. — Tout de suite! Il regarda. C'était un petit garçon en culotte courte sur un embarcadère avec un voilier en arrière-plan.


— Je me souviens... elle rit triomphalement... du jour même où on l'a prise. Kitty l'a prise et je la lui ai volée." Un instant, Donald ne parvint pas à se reconnaître sur la photo... puis, en se penchant plus près... il fut absolument incapable de se reconnaître.

— Ce n'est pas moi, dit-il.

— Mais, si. C'était à Frontenac... l'été où... nous avions l'habitude d'aller à la caverne. — Quelle caverne? Je suis resté seulement trois jours à Frontenac.

A nouveau, il se fatigua les yeux à regarder la photo légèrement jaunie.

— Et ce n'est pas moi. C'est Donald Bowers. On se ressemblait vraiment." Maintenant, elle le regardait fixement... en se penchant en arrière, semblant s'écarter de lui.

— Mais tu es Donald Bowers! s'exclama-t-elle; elle éleva un peu la voix.

— Non, tu n'es pas Donald Bowers. Tu es Donald Plant." — Je te l'ai dit au téléphone. Elle s'était levée... l'air un peu horrifiée.

— Plant! Bowers! Je dois être folle.

Ou bien, c'est ce que j'ai bu?

J'étais un peu déboussolée quand je t'ai rencontré. Regarde ici! Qu'est-ce que je t'ai dit? Il tenta de retrouver un calme olympien en tournant une page de l'album.

— Rien du tout, dit-il.

Des photos sur lesquelles il n'était pas se dessinaient et se redessinaient devant ses yeux... Frontenac... une caverne... Donald Bowers... — Tu m'as laissé tomber! Nancy parlait depuis l'autre bout de la pièce.

— Ne raconte jamais cette histoire, dit-elle.

Les histoires ont une façon de circuler." Il n'y a aucune histoire, hésita-t-il. Mais il pensa: donc c'était une sale gosse.

Et soudain, il fut plein d'une jalousie violente et sauvage à l'égard du petit Donald Bowers... celui qui avait banni à jamais la jalousie de sa vie.

Dans les cinq pas qu'il lui fallut pour traverser la pièce, il écrasa vingt années et l'existence de Walter Gifford dans la foulée.

— Embrasse-moi encore, Nancy, dit-il, en posant un genou à terre à côté de sa chaise et posant la main sur son épaule.

Mais Nancy s'échappa.

— Tu as dit que tu avais un avion à prendre." — Ce n'est rien.

Je peux le rater.

C'est sans importance." — Je t'en prie, vas-t'en, dit-elle froidement.

— Et, s'il te plait, essaie d'imaginer ce que je ressens." — Mais tu agis comme si tu ne te souvenais pas de moi, cria-t-il... comme si tu ne te rappelais pas Donald Plant! — Mais si, je m'en souviens.

Je me souviens aussi de toi. . .

Mais c'est il y a si longtemps". Sa voix devint dure à nouveau.

— Le numéro du taxi est Crestwood 8484." En route pour l'aéroport Donald hocha la tête d'un côté et d'autre.

Il était maintenant tout à fait lui-même mais il ne parvenait pas à assimiler l'expérience.

Ce fut seulement quand l'avion s'élança en rugissant dans le ciel sombre et que ses passagers devinrent une entité différente du monde des affaires en-dessous qu'il traça une parallèle depuis son vol.

Durant cinq aveuglantes minutes il avait vécu comme un fou dans deux mondes en même temps. Il avait été un garçon de douze ans et un homme de trente-deux, mélangés indissolublement et sans espoir.

Donald avait perdu un bon contrat, aussi, pendant ces heures entre les avions... mais puisque la seconde moitié d'une vie est un long processus pour se débarrasser des choses, cette partie de l'expérience n'avait probablement pas d'importance.
unit 2
He was now rewarding himself.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 3
Maybe.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 5
He did not know whether she was alive, or living in this town, or what was her present name.
2 Translations, 4 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 7
No.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 8
Judge Harmon Holmes--Hillside 3194.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 9
A woman's amused voice answered his inquiry for Miss Nancy Holmes.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 10
'Nancy is Mrs Walter Gifford now.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 11
Who is this?’ But Donald hung up without answering.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 12
He had found out what he wanted to know and had only three hours.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 14
She might have married out of town.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 15
No.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 16
Walter Gifford--Hillside 1191.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 17
Blood flowed back into his fingertips.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 18
‘Hello?'
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 19
'Hello.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 21
'This is Donald Plant.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 22
I haven't seen you since I was twelve years old.’ 'Oh-h-h!'
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 24
--Donald!'
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 25
added the voice.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 26
This time there was something more in it than struggling memory.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 27
'.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 28
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 29
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 30
when did you come back to town?'
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 31
Then cordially, 'Where are you?'
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 33
she exclaimed.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 34
'I was sitting here--having a highball by myself.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 35
Just tell your taxi man .
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 36
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 37
.’ On his way Donald analysed the conversation.
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 38
unit 39
Nancy's aloneness might indicate that she had matured into an unattractive woman without friends.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 40
Her husband might be either away or in bed.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 41
And--because she was always ten years old in his dreams--the highball shocked him.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 42
But he adjusted himself with a smile--she was very close to thirty.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 45
A smile broke through the puzzled expression.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 46
'Donald--it is you--we all change so.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 50
Aghast, he realized that this might be a long and empty hour.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 51
He plunged in desperately.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 52
'You always were a lovely person.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 53
But I'm a little shocked to find you as beautiful as you are.’ It worked.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 55
'Have a highball?'
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 56
she asked.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 57
'No?
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 58
Please don't think I've become a secret drinker, but this was a blue night.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 59
I expected my husband but he wired he'd be two days longer.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 60
He's very nice, Donald, and very attractive.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 61
Rather your type and colouring.'
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 63
'I was married for six years, and there was a time I tortured myself that way.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 64
Then one day I just put jealousy out of my life forever.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 65
After my wife died I was very glad of that.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 67
'I'm very sorry,' she said.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 68
And after a proper moment,' You've changed a lot.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 69
Turn your head.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 70
I remember father saying, "That boy has a brain.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 71
»' 'You probably argued against it.’ 'I was impressed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 72
Up to then I thought everybody had a brain.
1 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 73
That's why it sticks in my mind.’ 'What else sticks in your mind?'
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 74
he asked smiling.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 75
Suddenly Nancy got up and walked quickly a little away.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 76
'Ah, now,' she reproached him.
3 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 77
'That isn't fair!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 78
I suppose I was a naughty girl.’ 'You were not,' he said stoutly.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 80
she demanded.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 81
Her momentary irritation melted and she said: 'What the hell!
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 82
We did have fun.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 83
Like in the song.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 84
'On the sleigh ride.’ 'Yes--and somebody's picnic--Trudy James's.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 88
'I don't remember that.’ 'Oh, you were there.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 90
Maybe I wanted to forget.’ 'But why?'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 91
he asked in amusement.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 92
'We were two perfectly innocent kids.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 94
But I think I really loved you just as much.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 97
'Go on,' she said, 'I'm ashamed to say--I like it.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 98
I didn't know you were so upset then.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 99
I thought it was me who was upset.’ 'You!'
2 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 100
he exclaimed.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 101
'Don't you remember throwing me over at the drugstore.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 102
He laughed.
2 Translations, 3 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 103
'You stuck out your tongue at me.’ 'I don't remember at all.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 104
It seemed to me you did the throwing over.'
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 105
Her hand fell lightly, almost consolingly on his arm.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 106
'I've got a photograph book upstairs I haven't looked at for years.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 109
Side by side on a couch they opened the book between them.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 110
Nancy looked at him, smiling and very happy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 111
'Oh, this is such fun,' she said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 112
'Such fun that you're so nice, that you remember me so—beautifully.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 113
Let me tell you--I wish I'd known it then!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 114
After you'd gone I hated you.'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 115
'What a pity,' he said gently.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 116
'But not now,' she reassured him, and then impulsively, 'Kiss and make up—' '.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 117
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 118
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 119
that isn't being a good wife,' she said after a minute.
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 121
Had he kissed Nancy?
1 Translations, 2 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 122
or a memory?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 123
or this lovely trembly stranger who looked away from him quickly and turned a page of the book?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 124
'Wait!'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 125
he said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 126
'I don't think I could see a picture for a few seconds.’ 'We won't do it again.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 127
unit 128
'Wouldn't it be awful if we fell in love again?’ 'Stop it!'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 129
She laughed, but very breathlessly.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 130
'It's all over.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 131
It was a moment.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 132
A moment I'll have to forget.’ 'Don't tell your husband.’ 'Why not?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 133
Usually I tell him everything.’ 'It'll hurt him.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 134
Don't ever tell a man such things.’ 'All right I won’t.'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 136
'Here's you,' she cried.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 137
'Right away!’ He looked.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 138
It was a little boy in shorts standing on a pier with a sailboat in the background.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 139
'I remember--' she laughed triumphantly, '--the very day it was taken.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 141
'That's not me,' he said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 142
'Oh yes.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 143
It was at Frontenac--the summer we--we used to go to the cave.’ 'What cave?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 144
I was only three days in Frontenac.'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 145
Again he strained his eyes at the slightly yellowed picture.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 146
'And that isn't me.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 147
That's Donald Bowers.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 148
unit 149
'But you're Donald Bowers!'
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 150
she exclaimed; her voice rose a little.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 151
'No, you're not.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 152
unit 153
'Plant!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 154
Bowers!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 155
I must be crazy.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 156
Or it was that drink?
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 157
I was mixed up a little when I first saw you.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 158
Look here!
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 159
What have I told you?’ He tried for a monkish calm as he turned a page of the book.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 160
'Nothing at all,' he said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 162
'You'll never tell this story,' she said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 163
'Stories have a way of getting around.’ 'There isn't any story,' he hesitated.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 164
But he thought: So she was a bad little girl.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 168
But Nancy strained away.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 169
'You said you had to catch a plane.’ 'It's nothing.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 170
I can miss it.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 171
It's of no importance.’ 'Please go,' she said in a cool voice.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 173
I remember you too .
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 174
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 175
.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year ago
unit 176
But it was all so long ago.’ Her voice grew hard again.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 178
He was completely himself now but he could not digest the experience.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
unit 180
For five blinding minutes he had lived like a madman in two worlds at once.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  commented on  unit 175  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  commented on  unit 118  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 118  1 year, 1 month ago
"."
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 117  1 year, 1 month ago
"."
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 174  1 year, 1 month ago
"."
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 175  1 year, 1 month ago
"."
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 154  1 year, 1 month ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 125  1 year, 1 month ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 102  1 year, 1 month ago
GCHOTEAU • 2259  translated  unit 57  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 36  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 29  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 28  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 27  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  commented on  unit 5  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 19  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 18  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 15  1 year, 1 month ago
Bouchka • 3709  translated  unit 7  1 year, 1 month ago

It was a wild chance but Donald was in the mood, healthy and bored, with a sense of tiresome duty done.

He was now rewarding himself.

Maybe.

When the plane landed he stepped out into a mid-western summer night and headed for the isolated pueblo airport, conventionalized as an old red 'railway depot'.

He did not know whether she was alive, or living in this town, or what was her present name.

With mounting excitement he looked through the phone book for her father who might be dead too, somewhere in these twenty years.

No. Judge Harmon Holmes--Hillside 3194.

A woman's amused voice answered his inquiry for Miss Nancy Holmes.
'Nancy is Mrs Walter Gifford now. Who is this?’

But Donald hung up without answering. He had found out what he wanted to know and had only three hours.

He did not remember any Walter Gifford and there was another suspended moment while he scanned the phone book. She might have married out of town.

No. Walter Gifford--Hillside 1191. Blood flowed back into his fingertips.

‘Hello?'

'Hello. Is Mrs Gifford there--this is an old friend of hers.’

'This is Mrs Gifford.’

He remembered, or thought he remembered, the funny magic in the voice.

'This is Donald Plant. I haven't seen you since I was twelve years old.’

'Oh-h-h!' The note was utterly surprised, very polite, but he could distinguish in it neither joy nor certain recognition.

'--Donald!' added the voice. This time there was something more in it than struggling memory.

'. . . when did you come back to town?' Then cordially, 'Where are you?'
'I'm out at the airport--for just a few hours.’

'Well, come up and see me.’

'Sure you're not just going to bed?’

'Heavens, no!' she exclaimed. 'I was sitting here--having a highball by myself. Just tell your taxi man . . .’

On his way Donald analysed the conversation.

His words 'at the airport' established that he had retained his position in the upper bourgeoisie.

Nancy's aloneness might indicate that she had matured into an unattractive woman without friends.

Her husband might be either away or in bed. And--because she was always ten years old in his dreams--the highball shocked him.

But he adjusted himself with a smile--she was very close to thirty.

At the end of a curved drive he saw a dark-haired little beauty standing against the lighted door, a glass in her hand.

Startled by her final materialization, Donald got out of the cab, saying:
'Mrs Gifford?’

She turned on the porch light and stared at him, wide-eyed and tentative. A smile broke through the puzzled expression.

'Donald--it is you--we all change so. Oh, this is remarkable!’

As they walked inside, their voices jingled the words 'all these years', and Donald felt a sinking in his stomach.

This derived in part from a vision of their last meeting--when she rode past him on a bicycle, cutting him dead--and in part from fear lest they have nothing to say.

It was like a college reunion--but there the failure to find the past was disguised by the hurried boisterous occasion.

Aghast, he realized that this might be a long and empty hour. He plunged in desperately.

'You always were a lovely person. But I'm a little shocked to find you as beautiful as you are.’

It worked. The immediate recognition of their changed state, the bold compliment, made them interesting strangers instead of fumbling childhood friends.

'Have a highball?' she asked. 'No? Please don't think I've become a secret drinker, but this was a blue night.

I expected my husband but he wired he'd be two days longer. He's very nice, Donald, and very attractive.

Rather your type and colouring.' She hesitated, '--and I think he's interested in someone in New York--and I don't know.’

'After seeing you it sounds impossible,' he assured her.

'I was married for six years, and there was a time I tortured myself that way.

Then one day I just put jealousy out of my life forever. After my wife died I was very glad of that. It left a very rich memory--nothing marred or spoiled or hard to think over.’

She looked at him attentively, then sympathetically as he spoke.

'I'm very sorry,' she said. And after a proper moment,' You've changed a lot. Turn your head. I remember father saying, "That boy has a brain. »'

'You probably argued against it.’

'I was impressed. Up to then I thought everybody had a brain. That's why it sticks in my mind.’

'What else sticks in your mind?' he asked smiling.

Suddenly Nancy got up and walked quickly a little away.

'Ah, now,' she reproached him. 'That isn't fair! I suppose I was a naughty girl.’

'You were not,' he said stoutly. 'And I will have a drink now.’

As she poured it, her face still turned from him, he continued:
'Do you think you were the only little girl who was ever kissed?’

'Do you like the subject?' she demanded. Her momentary irritation melted and she said: 'What the hell! We did have fun. Like in the song.'
'On the sleigh ride.’

'Yes--and somebody's picnic--Trudy James's. And at Frontenac that--those summers.’

It was the sleigh ride he remembered most and kissing her cool cheeks in the straw in one corner while she laughed up at the cold white stars.

The couple next to them had their backs turned and he kissed her little neck and her ears and never her lips.

'And the Macks' party where they played post office and I couldn't go because I had the mumps,' he said.

'I don't remember that.’

'Oh, you were there. And you were kissed and I was crazy with jealousy like I never have been since.’

'Funny I don't remember. Maybe I wanted to forget.’

'But why?' he asked in amusement.

'We were two perfectly innocent kids.

Nancy, whenever I talked to my wife about the past, I told her you were the girl I loved almost as much as I loved her.

But I think I really loved you just as much.

When we moved out of town I carried you like a cannon ball in my insides.’

'Were you that much--stirred up?’

'My God, yes!

I--' He suddenly realized that they were standing just two feet from each other, that he was talking as if he loved her in the present, that she was looking up at him with her lips half-parted and a clouded look in her eyes.

'Go on,' she said, 'I'm ashamed to say--I like it.

I didn't know you were so upset then. I thought it was me who was upset.’

'You!' he exclaimed.

'Don't you remember throwing me over at the drugstore.' He laughed. 'You stuck out your tongue at me.’

'I don't remember at all.

It seemed to me you did the throwing over.' Her hand fell lightly, almost consolingly on his arm.

'I've got a photograph book upstairs I haven't looked at for years. I'll dig it out.’

Donald sat for five minutes with two thoughts--first the hopeless impossibility of reconciling what different people remembered about the same event--and secondly that in a frightening way Nancy moved him as a woman as she had moved him as a child.

Half an hour had developed an emotion that he had not known since the death of his wife--that he had never hoped to know again.

Side by side on a couch they opened the book between them. Nancy looked at him, smiling and very happy.

'Oh, this is such fun,' she said.

'Such fun that you're so nice, that you remember me so—beautifully.

Let me tell you--I wish I'd known it then! After you'd gone I hated you.'
'What a pity,' he said gently.

'But not now,' she reassured him, and then impulsively, 'Kiss and make up—'

'. . . that isn't being a good wife,' she said after a minute. 'I really don't think I've kissed two men since I was married.’

He was excited--but most of all confused.

Had he kissed Nancy? or a memory? or this lovely trembly stranger who looked away from him quickly and turned a page of the book?

'Wait!' he said. 'I don't think I could see a picture for a few seconds.’

'We won't do it again. I don't feel so very calm myself.’

Donald said one of those trivial things that cover so much ground.

'Wouldn't it be awful if we fell in love again?’

'Stop it!' She laughed, but very breathlessly. 'It's all over. It was a moment. A moment I'll have to forget.’

'Don't tell your husband.’

'Why not? Usually I tell him everything.’

'It'll hurt him. Don't ever tell a man such things.’

'All right I won’t.'

'Kiss me once more,' he said inconsistently, but Nancy had turned a page and was pointing eagerly at a picture.

'Here's you,' she cried. 'Right away!’

He looked. It was a little boy in shorts standing on a pier with a sailboat in the background.

'I remember--' she laughed triumphantly, '--the very day it was taken. Kitty took it and I stole it from her.’

For a moment Donald failed to recognize himself in the photo--then, bending closer--he failed utterly to recognize himself.

'That's not me,' he said.

'Oh yes. It was at Frontenac--the summer we--we used to go to the cave.’

'What cave? I was only three days in Frontenac.'

Again he strained his eyes at the slightly yellowed picture.

'And that isn't me. That's Donald Bowers. We did look rather alike.’

Now she was staring at him--leaning back, seeming to lift away from him.

'But you're Donald Bowers!' she exclaimed; her voice rose a little.

'No, you're not. You're Donald Plant.’

'I told you on the phone.’

She was on her feet--her face faintly horrified.

'Plant! Bowers! I must be crazy.

Or it was that drink?

I was mixed up a little when I first saw you. Look here! What have I told you?’

He tried for a monkish calm as he turned a page of the book.

'Nothing at all,' he said.

Pictures that did not include him formed and re-formed before his eyes--Frontenac--a cave--Donald Bowers--'You threw me over!’

Nancy spoke from the other side of the room.

'You'll never tell this story,' she said.

'Stories have a way of getting around.’

'There isn't any story,' he hesitated. But he thought: So she was a bad little girl.

And now suddenly he was filled with wild raging jealousy of little Donald Bowers--he who had banished jealousy from his life forever.

In the five steps he took across the room he crushed out twenty years and the existence of Walter Gifford with his stride.

'Kiss me again, Nancy,' he said, sinking to one knee beside her chair, putting his hand upon her shoulder.

But Nancy strained away.

'You said you had to catch a plane.’

'It's nothing.

I can miss it.

It's of no importance.’

'Please go,' she said in a cool voice.

'And please try to imagine how I feel.’

'But you act as if you don't remember me,' he cried, '--as if you don't remember Donald Plant!’

'I do.

I remember you too . . .

But it was all so long ago.’

Her voice grew hard again.

'The taxi number is Crestwood 8484.’

On his way to the airport Donald shook his head from side to side.

He was completely himself now but he could not digest the experience.

Only as the plane roared up into the dark sky and its passengers became a different entity from the corporate world below did he draw a parallel from the fact of its flight.

For five blinding minutes he had lived like a madman in two worlds at once. He had been a boy of twelve and a man of thirty-two, indissolubly and helplessly commingled.

Donald had lost a good deal, too, in those hours between the planes--but since the second half of life is a long process of getting rid of things, that part of the experience probably didn't matter.