Falk - Joseph Conrad - Страница 1 из 112


FALK
A REMINISCENCE
By Joseph Conrad
Several of us, all more or less connected with the sea, were dining in
a small river-hostelry not more than thirty miles from London, and less
than twenty from that shallow and dangerous puddle to which our coasting
men give the grandiose name of "German Ocean." And through the wide
windows we had a view of the Thames; an enfilading view down the Lower
Hope Reach. But the dinner was execrable, and all the feast was for the
eyes.
That flavour of salt-water which for so many of us had been the very
water of life permeated our talk. He who hath known the bitterness of
the Ocean shall have its taste forever in his mouth. But one or two
of us, pampered by the life of the land, complained of hunger. It was
impossible to swallow any of that stuff. And indeed there was a strange
mustiness in everything. The wooden dining-room stuck out over the mud
of the shore like a lacustrine dwelling; the planks of the floor seemed
rotten; a decrepit old waiter tottered pathetically to and fro before
an antediluvian and worm-eaten sideboard; the chipped plates might have
been disinterred from some kitchen midden near an inhabited lake; and
the chops recalled times more ancient still. They brought forcibly to
one's mind the night of ages when the primeval man, evolving the first
rudiments of cookery from his dim consciousness, scorched lumps of flesh
at a fire of sticks in the company of other good fellows; then, gorged
and happy, sat him back among the gnawed bones to tell his artless tales


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