By Archibald Jowpb Cronin
Cronin, Archibald Joseph (1896), a modern English writer, was born in Scotland. After graduating from the Glasgo University in 1919 he practised medicine in South Wales and later in London. His first novel "Hatter's Castle" (1931) was a great success and enabled the author to devote all his time to writing.
Among his best known books are: "The Stars Look Down", "The Citadel", "The Green Years", "Shannon's Way", "Crusader's Tomb", "The Northern Light". They are written in the best traditions of English critical realism. In the "Citadel" Cronin exposed the rotten and senile system of medical service in England.
Cronin shows a vivid sense of scene and atmosphere and a skill for telling a story with dramatic force. His method is mostly direct: he usually provides a description of his personages' appearance and speaks about their emotions himself. But besides there is ample characterization by action and speech to which the text below may serve as an example.
At this point in his reflections he arrived at Riskin Street and entered Number 3. Here he found the patient to be a small boy of nine years of age, named Joey Howells, who was exhibiting a mild, seasonal
attack 1 of measles. The case was of little consequence; yet, because of the circumstances of the household, which was a poor one, it promised inconvenience to Joey's mother. Howells himself, a day labourer at the quarries, had been laid up three months with pleurisy, for which no compensation was payable; and now Mrs. Howells, a delicate 2 woman, already run off- her feet attending to one invalid in addition to her work of cleaning Bethesda Chapel 3 was called upon to make provision for another.
At the end of his visit, as Andrew stood talking to her at the door of her house, he remarked with regret:
"You have your hands full. It's a pity you must keep Idris home from school." Idris was Joey's younger brother.
Mrs. Howells raised her head quickly. She was a resigned little woman with shiny red hands and work-swollen finger-knuckles.
"But Miss Barlow said I needn't have him back."
In spite of his sympathy Andrew felt a throb of annoyance.
"Oh?" he inquired. "And who is Miss Barlow?"
"She's the teacher at Bank Street School," 4 said the unsuspecting Mrs. Howells. "She's come round to see me this morning. And seein' how hard put I was, she's let little Idris stop on in her class. Goodness knows 5 what I'd have done if I'd had him fallin' over me as well."
Andrew had a sharp impulse to tell her that she must obey his instructions and not those of a meddling schoolmistress. However, he saw well enough that Mrs. Howells was not to blame. For the moment he made no comment, but as he took his leave and came down Riskin Street his face wore a resentful frown. He hated interference, especially with his work, and beyond everything he hated interfering women. The more he thought of it the angrier he became. It was a distinct contravention of the regulations to keep Idris at school when Joey, his brother, was suffering from measles.
He decided suddenly to call upon this officious Miss Barlow and have the matter out with her.
Five minutes later he ascended the incline of Bank Street, walked into the school, and, having inquired his way of the janitor, found himself outside the classroom of Standard I 6. He knocked at the door, entered.
It was a large detached robm, well-ventilated, with a fire burning at one end. All the children were under seven and, as it was the afternoon break 7 when he entered, each was having a glass of milk-part of an assistance scheme introduced by the local branch of the M.W.U.8 His eyes fell upon the mistress at once. She was busy writing out sums upon the blackboard, her back towards him, and she did not immediately observe him. But suddenly she turned round.
She was so different from the intrusive female of his indignant fancy that he hesitated. Or perhaps it was the surprise in her brown eyes which made him immediately ill at ease.
He flushed and said: "Are you Miss Barlow?"
"Yes." She was a slight figure in a brown tweed skirt, woollen stockings, and small stout shoes: His own age, he guessed; no, younger-
about twenty-two. She inspected him, a little doubtful, faintly smiling, as though, weary of infantile arithmetic, she welcomed distraction on this fine spring day. "Aren't you Doctor Page's new assistant?"
"That's hardly the point," he answered stiffly; "though, as a matter of fact, I am Doctor Manson. I believe you have a contact here: Idris Howells. You know his brother has measles."
There was a pause. Her eyes, though questioning now, were persistently friendly.
Brushing back untidy hair she answered: "Yes, I know."
Her failure to take his visit seriously was sending his temper up again.
"Don't you realize it's quite against the rules to have him here?"
At his tone her colour rose and she losf her air of comradeship. He could not help thinking how clear and fresh her skin was, with a tiny brown mole, exactly the colour of her eyes, high on her right cheek. She was very fragile in her white blouse, and ridiculously young. Now she was breathing rather quickly, yet she spoke slowly:
"Mrs. Howells was at net wits' end. Most of the.children here have had measles. Those that haven't are sure to get it sooner or later. If Idris had stopped off, he'd have missed his milk, which is doing him such a lot of good."
"It isn't a question of his milk," he snapped. "He ought to be isolated."
She answered stubbornly, "I have got him isolated in a kind of way. If you don't believe me, look for yourself."
He followed her glance. Idris, aged five, at a little desk all by himself near the fire, was looking extraordinarily pleased with life. His pale blue eyes goggled contentedly over the rim of his milk mug.
The sight infuriated Andrew. He laughed contemptuously, offensively.
"That may be your idea of isolation. I'm afraid it isn't mine. You must send that child home at once."
Tiny points of light glinted in her eyes.
"Doesn't it occur to you that I'm the mistress of this class? You may be able to order people about in more exalted spheres. But here it's my word that counts."
He glared at her with raging dignity.
"You're breaking the law! You can't keep him here. If you do, I'll have to report you."
A short silence followed. He could see her hand tighten on the chalk she held. That sign of her emotion added to his anger against her - yes, against himself.
She said disdainfully: "Then you had better report me. Or have me. arrested. I've no doubt it will give you immense satisfaction."
Furious, he did not answer, feeling himself in an utterly false position. He tried to rally himself, raising his eyes, attempting to beat down hers, which now sparkled frostily-towards him. For an instant they faced each other, so close he could see the soft beating in her neck, the gleam of her teeth between her parted lips.
Then she said: "There's nothing more, is there?" She swung round tensely to the class. "Stand up children, and say: 'Good morning, Doctor Manson. Thank you for coming.'"
There was a clatter of chairs as the infants rose and chanted her ironic bidding. His ears were burning as she escorted him to the door. He had an exasperating sense' of discomfiture, and added to it the wretched suspicion that he had behaved badly in losing his temper while she had so admirably controlled hers. He sought for a crushing phrase, some final intimidating repartee. But before that came the door closed quietly in his face.
1. seasonal attack: pertaining to the seasons or periods of human lif-e. Measles, as we know, mostly affects children.
2. And now Mrs. Howells, a delicate woman, already run off her feet attending to one invalid in addition to her work of cleaning Bethesda Chapel was called upon to make provision for another: the italicized parts of the sentence are words whfch partially coincide in form and meaning in both English and Russian. Words of identical origin that occur in several languages as a result of borrowing from one language into others are called international words. A student of English should bear in mind that such words despite their outward similarity very rarely if ever coincide in their range of meaning. For example, the English word "delicate" has such meanings as: 1) утонченный, изысканный; 2) слабый, болезненный; 3) чувствительный, тонкий; 4) нежный, едва уловимый; 5) щекотливый, затруднительный; 6) деликатный, вежливый while the Russian adjective "деликатный" has only two meanings: "вежливый, мягкий в обращении" and "затруднительный, требующий тактичного Отношения".
3. Bethesda [bə] Chapel: a chapel for nonconformists
4. Bank Street School: schools in England have names, not numbers as in the Soviet Union. These are usually taken from the name of the town, district or street in which the school is situated, e.g. Parliament Hill School, Pinewood Primary School. There are schools named after the founder, or some other person connected with the school, e.g. George Dixon Grammar School, William Ellis School.
5. Goodness knows ... : stands for 'God knows ... '. To make use of God's name is considered sinful by the Church, therefore the word is often substituted by the phonetically similar word 'goodness'. Such substitution of mild or vague expressions for harsh or blunt ones is called euphemism.
6. Standard I: Primary schools in England are divided into standards or. classes.
7. afternoon break: a break in the middle of the day from 12.30 or 1 o'clock until about 2 o'clock when children have their dinner either at school or at home. It is often referred to as dinner or lunch hour.
8. M.W.U.: Mine Workers' Union
9. a contact: a possible carrier of disease