عدد المساهمات : 4
تاريخ التسجيل : 27/05/2011
|موضوع: The Prisoner of Zenda السيد المعداوى معلم خبير انجليزى الأحد 26 أغسطس 2012, 11:37 pm|| |
I was eating breakfast in the dining room of my brother's house one sunny morning, thinking about what I would do that week, when my brother's wife Rose came into the room."Rudolf, you're 29 years old," she said. "Are you ever going to do anything useful?""Rose," I answered, putting down my egg spoon, "why should I do anything? I have nearly enough money to do anything I want to (no one ever has quite enough money to do that, of course), and I enjoy an important position in society: my brother's Lord Burlesdon and you are a countess.""But you've done nothing except...""Be lazy? It's true. I'm a member of the Rassendyll family and our family don't need to do things."This annoyed Rose, because her family were rich but less important than the Rassendylls.At this moment, my brother Lord Burlesdon (who we were happy to call simply Robert) came into the room."Robert, I'm so happy you're back!" cried Rose."What's the matter, my dear?" Robert asked her."She's angry because she thinks I don't do anything," I explained to my brother.At this point, I should explain that I had not been lazy all my life. I had studied hard and learned a lot when I was at a German school and German university. I spoke German as well as I spoke English, and I also knew how to speak French, Italian and Spanish. I was good with a gun and a strong swordsman. I was also very good at riding a horse."It's not just your red hair that makes you different from your brother," said Rose. "He also realises his position in society has responsibilities. You only see opportunities in yours.""To a man like me, opportunities are responsibilities," I explained."Good, because I have some news for you," said Rose." Sir Jacob Borrodaile tells me he'll offer you a real opportunity. He's going to be an ambassador in six months' time, and he says he's happy for you to work for him. I hope you'll take this job, Rudolf."My sister-in-law has a way of asking people to do thing which is impossible to refuse. Moreover, I thought this job sounded quite interesting, so I said, "If in six months' time I'm in a position to take this job, then I'll certainly say yes.""Oh, Rudolf, how good of you!" said Rose."Where will he be working?" I asked."Sir Jacob doesn't know which country it will be, but he's sure it'll be a good embassy.""For you I'll do it, even if it's a terrible embassy," I replied.Now I had made my promise to Rose, but there were still six months to go before the job would start, and I began to think about what I could do in this time. I decided that I would visit Ruritania, a small country in the middle of Europe.My family have always had an interest in that country because in 1733, Countess Amelia Rassendyll married a member of the Ruritanian royal family, the Elphbergs. In fact my brother has paintings of her and her descendants on his walls: many of them have the same red hair and straight noses as the Elphbergs; I am the latest one to have the appearance of the Ruritanian royal family.My decision was helped a few days later when I read in The Times newspaper that Rudolf the Fifth was to become King of Ruritania in the next three weeks, and that amazing celebrations were planned for this joyous occasion. I thought how fantastic it would be to see such an event and began to prepare for my journey.I do not like to tell people where 1go on my travels, so I told Rose that I was going walking in the Alps. I did not want her to think I was being lazy either, so I told her I was going to write a book about social problems in the country."You're going to write a book? That would be such a good thing to do, wouldn't it, Robert?" said Rose."Yes, indeed. Writing a book's the best way to get into politics," agreed Robert, and he should know, as he has written many books himself."You're right," I said to them both. However, I had no plan to really write a book, which shows how little we know about the future. Because here I am now, writing a book as I had promised to do, even if the book has nothing to do with the social problems in the Alps. But let me begin near the start of my journey to Ruritania.My Uncle William always said that no man should ever pass through Paris without spending twenty-four hours in the city, so I took his advice and booked a night at The Continental Hotel. As soon as I had checked in, I called on some old friends that I knew in the French capital: George Featherly, who worked at the embassy, and Bertram Bertrand, who was now a famous journalist in the city. That evening, we all ate in a restaurant and they told me all about the latest exciting events in Paris."We've had quite a few important people visiting the city recently," said Bertram."Anyone I'd know?" I asked."Well, I met Antoinette de Mauban today," Bertram replied. "You've probably heard of her. She's a lady who's well known for her wealth and ambition. But she's leaving Paris today, we don't know where she's going to next.""So why did she come to Paris?" I asked."She was a guest of the Duke of Strelsau," said George." I met him at the embassy yesterday. He's the half-brother to the King of Ruritania. People say he was his father's favourite son. He's gone back for the coronation, although I don't think he'll enjoy it very much because he probably wishes he were the King. I don't think he likes being only a Duke.""I hear he's a clever man, though," said Bertram."He's extremely clever, I'd say," agreed George.The next day, George came with me to the station and I bought a ticket to my next stop, Dresden. I did not tell him that I was going to Ruritania. If I had, the news would have gone immediately to Bertram and then it would have been in all the newspapers within days.Just as I was about to get on the train, George suddenly smiled and walked away to talk to a beautiful, tall and fashionably dressed woman of about thirty who was standing at the ticket office with two younger women. I thought these must be her servants."You have an important person to travel with," George told me when he returned a few minutes later. "That's Antoinette de Mauban and she's also going to Dresden."Paris was soon behind me. It was a long and boring journey and I wondered if I would see Antoinette de Mauban in the dining car when I ate in the train that evening, or perhaps at breakfast the next morning. However, I did not see the lady again until the following day, when both she and I got on the next train from Dresden to Ruritania. She was further up the train, however, and did not see me.A few hours later, the train arrived at the Ruritanian border where we stopped so the guards could check our passports. I was surprised when the guards stared at me and my passport for some time before letting me into the country. Once in Ruritania, I bought a newspaper and read that the King's coronation was to be in two days' time, which was much earlier than I had thought. The newspaper described the excitement in the country and in particular the capital city, Strelsau, where it said all the hotels were full with people who wanted to see the event. On reading this, I decided it would be best to stop at Zenda, a small town eighty kilometres from the capital, and about ten kilometres from the border. Here I could walk in the hills and see the town's famous castle, then I could take the train for the day to Strelsau to see the coronation. As I got off the train at Zenda, I saw Antoinette de Mauban, who remained on the train for its journey to the capital, but she did not look at me.I was welcomed at the inn in Zenda by an old woman who ran it with her two daughters. She said she was not very interested in what happened in the capital, but she loved the Duke of Strelsau, who she called Duke Michael. He was the man who was responsible for the land around Zenda and its castle. In fact, the hotel owner said she wished the Duke was the new King and not his brother."We all know Duke Michael," she explained. "He's always lived in Ruritania and he cares about the people, so people like him. As for the King, well, he's almost a stranger. He's been abroad for most of his life and not many people even know what he looks like. Now the King's staying in a hunting lodge in the forest, very near to Zenda. From there he'll travel to the capital for his coronation."I was interested to hear this, and decided I would walk in the forest the next day so that I might see him."I wish he'd stay there in the forest," continued the woman. "People say he only likes hunting and good food. He should let the Duke become our King. And there are many others who think the same.""Well I don't like Duke Michael," said her older daughter. "They say the King has red hair, just like you!""Many men have red hair like me," I laughed."How do you know the King has red hair?" the old woman asked her daughter."Johann, the Duke's servant, told me," she explained. "He's seen the King at the hunting lodge.""But why's the King here, if it's the Duke's land?" I asked."The Duke invited him, sir," explained the old lady. "The Duke's in Strelsau, preparing for the coronation.""So they are good friends?""I don't know if you can be good friends if you want the same thing.""What do you mean?""Duke Michael would like to be King, too, I'm sure.""Well!" I said. "I feel quite sorry for the Duke, but it's right that the older brother becomes king.""Who's talking of the Duke?" said a deep voice from outside the door."We have a guest, Johann," called the old lady, as a man entered the room. When he saw me, he took off his hat and stepped back in surprise, as though he had seen something amazing."What's the matter, Johann?" asked the old lady. "This gentleman's come to our country to see the coronation.""It's the red hair," said one of the daughters. "We don't often see it in our country unless you're part of the King's family, the Elphbergs. Many of them have red hair."The man continued to stare at me, but said, "Good evening, sir. I'm sorry, I didn't expect to see any new guests here.""Don't worry," I said. "It's late and time I went to bed. I wish you all a good night. Thank you, ladies, for our conversation." I stood up to go to my room, when Johann suddenly said, "Sir, have you ever seen our King?""No, I've never seen him, but I hope to do so on Wednesday at the coronation."Johann said no more, but I felt his eyes on me as I walked up the stairs.The next morning, Johann seemed much more relaxed. When he heard that I was going to Strelsau, he said I could stay at his sister's house. She was married to a wealthy trader and she had invited him to stay with them for the coronation, but he was unable to go. I was very happy to have this opportunity and accepted his offer, so he said he would contact his sister at once and tell her to expect me that day.I decided, however, that I still wanted to see the forest where the King was staying, so first I planned to walk for sixteen kilometres through the forest to the next station along the line, where I could catch a train to the capital.I did not tell Johann about this plan, as I did not think it would be important if I arrived at his sister's later in the day. So I sent my luggage on to the station and said goodbye to the old lady and her daughters, and set off up the hill towards the castle. After that, it was a short walk to get into the forest.Half an hour later, I reached the castle. It was very old but well built, with a moat all around it. Behind it was a large modem mansion, which was used by the Duke of Strelsau as his country home. The mansion was reached by a wide road, but the old castle could only be reached by a drawbridge between it and the mansion. I was pleased to see that the Duke had such a well-defended house, even if he were not to become King.Soon I reached the dark forest and I walked for about an hour, pleased that the tall trees gave me cool shade: not much sun reached the ground through the many leaves. It was a beautiful place and after a time I decided to rest by lying against one of the enormous trees. It was so quiet and peaceful in the forest that I soon fell into a deep sleep, forgetting all about the train I should have caught to Strelsau and my luggage that would be waiting at the station. I was just dreaming about living in the Castle of Zenda when a voice woke me:"Why look at him! It's amazing! He looks just like the King!"I opened my eyes slowly and found two men looking at me. Both carried guns and were dressed for hunting. One of them was short but looked very tough with light blue eyes, and he looked like a soldier. The other was younger, thin and of medium height, and he looked like a gentleman. I later found out that my guesses were both correct.The older man walked up to me and raised his hat to me politely, so I stood up."He's about the same height as the King, too!" he said. "This really is extraordinary. What's your name, sir?""Perhaps you can tell me what your names are first?" I asked them.The gentleman stepped forward with a smile and said, "Of course. This is Colonel Sapt, and my name's Fritz von Tarlenheim. We both work for the King of Ruritania."I shook their hands and told them, "I'm Rudolf Rassendyll. I'm a traveller from England and was an officer in the Queen's army.""Well, we're officers for our King, so we understand each other well!" said Tarlenheim."Rassendyll, Rassendyll," said Colonel Sapt quietly. "I know! Are you one of the Burlesdons?""My brother's the new Lord Burlesdon," I explained. "So, do I really look like the King?""You could be twins," said Fritz."Although you look like identical twins, you do not have identical personalities or skills. You two seem very different. If you were an officer for the Queen's army, Rassendyll, you must be good with a sword!" laughed Sapt."Is the King not a fighting man?" I asked."The King likes to live well," said Fritz. "Let's say he prefers eating to action, but he's a kind man and he's our King. We'd do anything for him.""Perhaps we are alike then," I said, "because I like to have an easy life, too!"At this moment, a voice came from the trees behind us."Fritz? Where are you, Fritz?"Fritz looked worried, and then said quietly to me, "It's the King! He's coming here now."A young man then came out from behind a tree in the forest and stood in front of us. As I looked at him, I gave out a loud cry at the same time as he stood back in amazement to see me. Except perhaps for a centimetre or two difference in height, we looked so alike that the King of Ruritania might have been me, Rudolf Rassendyll, and I might have been him, the King of Ruritania.
The prisoner of Zenda