e Corniche.● The migrants multiplying on th▓e shallow reaches of Mareotis.Waters● moving from gold to grey, the pigmentation of w▓

inter.The parties assemble at● Nessim’s house towards twilight ▓— a prodigious collection of ●cars and shooting-brakes.Here begins the● long packing and unpacking of wicker ba●skets and gun-bags, conducted to the acco●mpaniment of cocktails and sandwiches.Costumes● burgeon.Comparison of guns an●d cartridges, conversation inseparable from a s●hooter’s life, begin now, ramb


ling, i●nconsequent, wise.The yellowish moonless ▓dusk settles: the angle of the ●sunlight turns slowly upwards into the▓ vitreous lilac of the eveni▓ng sky.It is brisk weather, clear as wate▓rglass.Justine and I are moving● through the spiderweb of our preoc●cupations like people already parted.▓She wears the familiar velvete●en costume — the coat with its▓ deeply cut and slanted pockets: and th●e soft velours hat

  • ch, after so many shame-faced importun▓ities, I had
  • persuaded a local jobbing printer▓ to place my nam
  • e and address, and taking up my ▓pen wrote: mr
  • —————— accepts with pleasu●re the kind invita
  • tion of mr ———— 癃— to a duck shoot on Lak


pulled down over her br▓ows — a schoolgirl’s hat: leather jack-bo▓ots.We do not look directly at each othe▓r any more, but talk with a hollow impe▓rsonality.I have a splitting headache.S●he has urged upon me her own s▓pare gun — a beautiful stout twelve by▓ Purdey, ideal for such an

John - e Ma●reotis


Collect from /



unpractised han●d and eye as mine.There is laughter and● clapping as lots are drawn for the m▓akeup of the various parties.We ●will have to take up widely dis▓persed positions around

the lak●e, and those who draw the western butts wi●ll have to make a long detour by road through ▓Mex and the desert fringes.The leade●rs of each party draw paper strips in tur●n from a hat, each with a guest’s ●name written upon it.Nessim has already● drawn Capodistria who is clad ●in a natty leather jerkin with velvet cuff▓s, khaki gaberdine plus-fours an▓d check socks.He wears an old twee▓d hat with a cock-pheasant’s feather in it▓, and is festooned with bandoliers ful●l of cartridges.Next comes Ralli the old Greek ●general, with ash-coloured bags under his eyes ▓and darned riding-breeches; Pallis the ●French Chargé d’Affaires in a sheepskin coat; ▓lastly myself.Justine and Pombal are join●ing Lord Errol’s party.It is clear no●w that we are to be separated.All ●of a sudde

n, for the first time▓, I feel real fear as I watch the expressionless● glitter of Nessim’s eyes.We ta▓ke our various places in the▓ shooting-brakes.Selim is doing up the str●aps of a heavy pigskin gun-case.His hands tremb●le.With all the dispositions m●ade the cars start up with a roar of engi●nes, and at this signal a flock of s●ervants scamper out of the great house w●ith glasses of champagne to offer us a sti▓rrup-cup.This diversion enables Justi▓ne to come across to our car● and under the pretext of handing me a packet of▓ smokeless cartridges to press my arm once, w▓armly


, and to fix me for a half-second with th●ose expressive black eyes shining n●ow with an expression I might alm●ost mistake for relief.I try to form a

Michael - about● human behaviour.

s●mile with my lips.We move of●f steadily with Nessim at the wheel and▓ catch the last rays of the sunset as we cle●ar the town to run along the shallo●w d

Ray - Justine (1957) Part ▓III Ch





unelands towards Aboukir.Everyone is▓ in excellent spirits, Ralli talking nineteen t▓o the dozen and Capodistria keepin●g us entertained with anecdotes of his fabulous● mad father.(‘His first act on going mad was ●to file a suit again

st his two sons accusing th▓em of wilful and persistent illegitimacy. 癔) From time to time he raises a▓ finger to touch the cotton compress which is he●ld in position over his left eye by the ▓black patch.Pallis has produc●ed an old deerstalker with large ear-fla●ps which make him look like a speculativ●e Gallic rabbit.From time to time ●in the driving mirror I catch Nessim’●s


eye and he smiles.The dusk▓ has settled as we come to the shor●es of the lake.The old hydroplane▓ whimpers and roars as it wait▓s for us.It is piled high with decoys.Nessim● assembles a couple of tall duck-guns and

Von - he clear winte

t▓ripods before joining us in the ●shallow punt to set off across the re●ed-fringed wilderness of the lake to ●the desolate lodge where we a●re to spend the night.All horizons have been ab▓ruptly cut of

Tron - ●rset.High se

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f now as we skirt th▓e darkening channels in our nois▓y craft, disturbing the visit●ants

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of the lake with the roar of our engines;▓ the reeds tower over us, an▓d everywhere the sedge hassocks of islands rise●

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out, of the water with their promise of cover▓.Once or twice a long vista● of water opens before us a

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nd w●e catch sight of the flurry of bir●ds rising — mallard trailing their webs▓ across the still surface.Nearer at han▓d t

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he hither-and-thithering cormor▓ants keep a curiosity-shop with their long slave●-to-appetite beaks choked with sedge.Al

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l round● us now, out of sight the tee▓ming colonies of the lake ar●e settling down for the night▓.When the engines of the hydrop▓lane are turned off the silence is suddenl▓y filled with groani

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