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A Ripple from the Storm

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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      A Ripple from the Storm
Doris Lessing

The third book in the Nobel Prize for Literature winner’s ‘Children of Violence’ series tracing the life of Martha Quest from her childhood in colonial Africa to old age in post-nuclear Britain.‘“The personal life of a comrade would be arranged so that it interferes as little as possible with work," he said. Martha had not imagined that the "personal talk" with Anton would arise like an item on an agenda; she now felt frivolous because she had been looking forward to something different …’The ‘Children of Violence’ series established Doris Lessing as a major radical writer. In this third volume, Martha, now free of her stultifying marriage to Douglas, is able to pursue the independent life she has wanted for so long. Her deepening involvement with South African revolutionary politics draws her into a world of fierce commitments and passionate idealism. A time of great change, Martha's young womanhood brings not only immense happiness when she embarks on an affair with a fellow party member, but also great sorrow – for the pain of abandoning Caroline, her baby daughter, left at home with Douglas, never diminishes …

MODERN CLASSIC

A Ripple from the Storm

Doris Lessing

Book Three of the

‘Children of Violence’ series

Contents

Cover (#ued69f050-bdf9-575b-8aed-cab2eabf6e01)

Title Page (#uc3efefc7-f14a-5506-bc6a-b48c22c7a7f8)

Part One (#ubb98d3a0-6682-57c5-9f81-a97106754753)

Chapter One (#u2e9e10dd-0c16-5bb4-82f7-43c90d61c4ba)

Chapter Two (#u37af3dc1-ec1d-5383-8b68-bd46d3a45717)

Chapter Three (#u47ff721d-254a-50d6-8abd-5f728841a462)

Chapter Four (#uc6061a59-bf38-5475-b9a5-4228ae4d26b1)

Part Two (#u6ca50ff2-3996-543d-91cc-02094c581d22)

Chapter One (#u5b7ed911-4da3-5b93-9f51-e7d24c9affd6)

Chapter Two (#u269a8abb-9b8b-53a5-b931-ab4be4c03692)

Chapter Three (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Four (#litres_trial_promo)

Part Three (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter One (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Two (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Three (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Four (#litres_trial_promo)

Part Four (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter One (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Two (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Three (#litres_trial_promo)

Chapter Four (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Author (#litres_trial_promo)

By the same author (#litres_trial_promo)

Read On (#litres_trial_promo)

The Grass is Singing (#litres_trial_promo)

The Golden Notebook (#litres_trial_promo)

The Good Terrorist (#litres_trial_promo)

Love, Again (#litres_trial_promo)

The Fifth Child (#litres_trial_promo)

Copyright (#litres_trial_promo)

About the Publisher (#litres_trial_promo)

Part One (#ulink_aa119e42-3525-52fc-ab31-bded0f73d014)

There is no passion for the absolute without the accompanying frenzy of the absolute. It is always accompanied by a certain exaltation, by which it may first be recognized and which is always working on the growing point, the focal point of destruction, at the risk of making it appear to such as have not been warned, that the passion for the absolute is the same as a passion for unhappiness.

LOUIS ARAGON

Chapter One (#ulink_e4ebb7ca-fa4a-5dd5-87a8-cfd6167464e4)

From the dusty windows of a small room over Black Ally’s Café it could be seen that McGrath’s ballroom was filling fast. Groups of people clogged all the pillared gold-painted entrances of the hotel.

Jasmine said composedly: ‘Jackie’s very late,’ and, having neatly fastened the windows and turned herself around, she smiled at Martha. Martha smiled back with affectionate devotion. The devotion was no less because its quality had changed. Three months before, she had regarded this competent girl with awe: Jasmine was not afraid to stand on a platform before hundreds of people; she understood that mysterious process organization; and people always suggested her first if a secretary were needed. Martha had been used to watching her descend demurely from a platform with her files and papers or selling pamphlets at the door, feeling that she must be of an entirely superior order of person, not because she was competent, but because competence was the result of years of service in public causes of one kind or another.

Now Martha could do these things herself. She had learned without knowing she was learning by being with Jasmine so much of her time. She understood she had become for others what Jasmine had been for her when the pretty English schoolteacher, Marjorie Pratt, her fine blue eyes alive with admiration, had said: ‘I do admire you, Matty, for not being afraid of doing these things in public.’ At which Martha had felt an affectionate pity – not for Marjorie, who would herself soon acquire these so easily acquired qualities, but for herself of three months ago.

Martha said: ‘William’s late too. They’ve probably got some sort of meeting in the camp.’

Again the two girls exchanged a warm smile. In it was the affection every member of the group felt for the others: a communal tenderness. But there was more: Jasmine and Martha, both with lovers from the airforce, had a special tie. They did not speak of what they felt: their men would most likely be posted soon, and they would be left alone: their happiness was lit by the foreknowledge of loss. Or rather, this was what each felt on behalf of the other, a gentle protectiveness for the other’s situation, as if for someone weaker; and all these emotions were part of that greater elation on which they had all been floating now for months, ever since the formation of ‘the group’.

The small grimy room had in it a small deal table, a couple of hard benches and some unpainted chairs, This was the group’s headquarters and home. It was also the scene of Jasmine’s love, for there was a campbed folded against the wall beside the filing cabinet. To Martha, with her painful need to admire someone for qualities she could never possess herself, it seemed natural that Jasmine’s love should be at home here, camped among the files and papers of the world Revolution. On those rare nights when Jackie was free from the camp and Jasmine from her family, here it was that they lay in each other’s arms. To Martha, her own love seemed domestic and ordinary in comparison.

Jasmine was independent of her family because – or so it seemed, she was so bound to it. The Cohens had heard of their daughter’s affair with this disreputable character from the camp, and confronted her with their knowledge. She had said calmly, yes, she intended to live with Jackie Cooper when the war was over. Yes, she did know he was married and had children. ‘You can’t expect them to understand,’ she had remarked, telling Martha of the unpleasant scene. ‘I did explain it was a question of the revolution, but I saw it was no use.’

It seemed that the parents, both in tears, had officially disowned Jasmine, an entirely ritual act, for she still lived at home. But they would not speak to her. ‘I can’t leave home,’ she explained, ‘because it would be such a disgrace for them in the community.’ (She meant the Jewish community of this small town.) That kind of thing is very important to them; they simply can’t help it.’ To protect her parents from the results of their own attitudes, she was prepared to live at home like an outcast, treated as if she did not exist. Martha admired her for this chivalry she was convinced was far beyond herself.

Her own mother had also cast her off, in a letter of the same ritual quality. Martha, Mrs Quest had announced by registered letter, was no longer her daughter. Unable to discover the right answer to this, Martha had done nothing at all. Besides, she was so busy she had no time to think about it. As a result, Mrs Quest had come bustling one morning into the furnished room Martha now lived in, saying: ‘Dear me, how untidy you are!’ That final casting-off letter might never have been written and posted. And Mr Quest, meeting Martha, outside the chemist’s shop near the house, had announced vaguely: ‘Ah, there you are, old chap! How’s everything with you, all right?’ In this way he had been enabled not to make judgments or to take a stand. But this meant that Martha could no longer go to her father for his advice and support. She scarcely admitted to herself that she needed it. But on occasions like this, when Jasmine and she were alone, engaged on some ‘group work’ – they were at the moment stacking pamphlets and books on the Soviet Union into a suitcase for the meeting – they were likely to discuss their parents. They were talking about the difficulties of ‘re-educating the older generation to socialist ethics’, and what sort of work would be best suited to the capacities of Mr and Mrs Cohen, Mr and Mrs Quest – work which would release them into being much better and nobler people than they were now; while they simultaneously worried about the unpunctuality of their lovers.

At last they heard voices from the pavement below and they went to the window and peered out. Beside a taxi stood William and Jackie; the taxi driver was standing with them; and Jackie had his arm on the black man’s shoulder and was talking directly into his face, his own forceful face expressing an intimacy of persuasion. The black man was nodding, but seemed uneasy; and Martha and Jasmine also instinctively cast wary glances up and down the street in case anyone was watching the scene. Jasmine leaned over and said in a cautious voice: ‘Hey there, Jackie, be careful.’ Jackie glanced up and nodded, but continued his emotional pressure on the driver. Martha therefore called down to William: ‘We’re going to be late.’ She could see that the young man had been trying to hurry Jackie; for now he smiled quickly up at them both, as if glad of their moral support, and said something to Jackie, who was irritated at the interruption, but he gave a final squeeze to the black man’s elbow, smiled warmly into his face, and then turned and vanished into the doorway of Black Ally’s. He must have forgotten to pay the taxi-man, for William now did so. The taxi drove off and William again looked up at the two young women, who could hear Jackie’s steps on the wooden stairs, with a small smiling upwards grimace, which was a warning. Then he too disappeared into the doorway. Martha and Jasmine turned back into the room, looking severe. All kinds of loyalties prevented them from speaking; but Martha’s look said to Jasmine that it was her task to deal with the situation.

Jackie Bolton came in with his soft wolf-tread, unbuttoning the jacket of his uniform with one hand, while he laid the other on Jasmine’s cheek and smiled into her eyes. The publicity of this love gesture embarrassed Martha; she knew that it was partly designed to make her feel jealous of Jasmine. She looked away, for William was coming in. Immediately William said: ‘Don’t settle yourself down, Jackie. We’re all late.’

Jackie Bolton, smiling, finished removing his jacket, and settled himself on a bench by the wall. Martha saw he had been drinking. Now both she and William glanced at Jasmine, waiting for her to speak. Jasmine was flushed, her small round face distressed. Martha could feel her struggle in herself.

For months no one had said what they felt about Jackie Bolton. Without him, there would never have been ‘the group’. That quality in him which enabled him to inspire others seemed to put him in a category outside criticism; for to criticize Jackie – so he made them all feel – was to criticize the revolution itself. But two days before, Jasmine (flushed and unhappy then as now) had stood up at a meeting and said in her quiet way that she felt Comrade Jackie had a great defect, which was that he had anarchistic tendencies. If the other comrades agreed with her, then Jackie should accept the criticism and try to change himself. The other comrades did agree with her, with a spontaneity that embarrassed them all. Jackie Bolton had, as usual, heaved with silent laughter; but he had at last admitted, although with reluctance, that he had to accept a unanimous vote.

Since then, his manner had held an angry and deliberate sarcasm; he had missed three meetings, saying he was busy in the camp; and Jasmine, William and Martha all knew that he was late tonight and apparently determined to be later still because he had been criticized.

Now he was watching Jasmine with the look of one ready to be betrayed.

‘Jackie,’ said Jasmine firmly, although her voice was unsteady, ‘you know you shouldn’t go talking to Africans like that in public. We’re all trying to be so careful.’
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