Читать онлайн "The Guns of the South" автора Тертлдав Гарри Норман - RuLit - Страница 137

 
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He ran a finger lightly down the spine of the Picture History, as if to reassure himself it was real. Somehow, finding a second copy of it was far more than twice as strange as finding only one. One was an isolated curiosity, a liber ex machina. But where there were two, there had to be hundreds, thousands. All at once, the distant time from which the men of the AWB had come felt nearly close enough for him to touch.

And that Picture History proved to be but one of hundreds of books about the Second American Revolution, though they called it the Civil War, or the War Between the States, or occasionally the Great Rebellion. He found memoirs by Joe Johnston, by u. S. Grant, by Jefferson Davis—he shook his head when he saw Davis’s were called The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Nation—byJubal Early. He shook his head again; he’d gone to Early’s funeral yesterday and knew his former division commander had written no memoirs. Nor, for that matter, had Johnston or Grant or Davis.

He also found studies on the battle of the Wilderness; on Confederate railroads; on black-white relations, North and South, before, during, and after the Second American Revolution; and on Confederate Richmond—one, he saw with wry amusement, was called General Lee’s City. The amusement slipped when he pulled the book off the shelf and saw on its cover Richmond in flames. He opened the book, discovered it had been published—would be published? would have been published?—in 1987. He also noted that its author was one Richard M. Lee, and wondered if the man was a descendant. If he was, he had an impartiality Robert E. Lee approved of, for he also seemed to have written a book named Mr. Lincoln’s City.

Lee put the book back in its place. It stood near half a shelf of volumes that looked to be devoted exclusively to him. He left them alone. He already knew who he was. The Rivington men, for all their reference works, plainly did not.

Along with the books on the Confederacy, Lee found several shelves of volumes on South Africa—not a country, so far as he knew, that appeared on the globe in 1868. Some had their titles written in English, but more in the German-looking language that had also produced the phrase Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging.

It was not German. That had been Lee’s first guess, when papers written in it turned up in the files of the AWB outer offices. But a professor of German summoned from the Virginia Military Institute had taken one look and gone back to V MI with his tail between his legs. Lee did not let failure frustrate him—and where the professor gave up, a Richmond merchant, a Jew from Aachen, was able to make fair sense of the AWB’s private tongue.

Lee stuck his head out the door, asked the two soldiers in the adjoining room, “Is Mr. Goldfarb anywhere about?”

“Yes, sir, I saw him next door,” said one of them, a captain. He turned to his companion. “You want to go and fetch him in here, Fred?”

Fred, who was a lieutenant, went and fetched him. Avram Goldfarb was a medium-sized, heavyset man in his fifties, with curly gray hair and a curly gray beard long enough to obviate any need for a cravat. His nose was more distinctly Hebraic than that of Judah P. Benjamin, and his eyes…when Lee looked into those dark, deep-set eyes, he gained a more profound understanding of the Book of Jeremiah than he had enjoyed before. Avram Goldfarb had seen sorrow, for himself and for his folk.

He dipped his head to Lee. “You’ve found more papers in this verkakte tongue for me to read, sir?” At Lee’s nod, he rolled those sorrowful eyes. “I will do my best, even if it makes me crazy. This speech, it is not Deutsch—German, you would say—it is not Dutch, as I should know, since Aachen lies by the border and before ‘48 I did as much trade with Amsterdam as with Cologne…But enough. This speech, it is not quite anything. It is, you would say in English, a mishmash.”

Lee was not sure he would say that, but he got the idea. He stood aside to let Goldfarb into the secret chamber. The Jew blinked when he noticed the extraordinary ceiling lights, but Lee gave him no time to ponder them. He pulled out a book that had Akrikaner Weerstandsbeweging in its title, hoping it would tell him more about the AWB.

“The African Resistance Movement: What It Is, by Eugen Blankaatd,” Goldfarb read.

“’African’?” Lee pointed to the poster on the wall.

“Afrikaner, then,” Goldfarb said, shrugging, “whatever an Afrikaner may be.” He opened the book to the frontispiece, an arresting photograph of a stalwart young man, his right arm upraised, his left hand on a Bible, standing blindfolded in front of what looked like a firing squad armed with AK-47s. There were a few lines of text under the photograph. Goldfarb translated them: “If I advance, follow me. If I retreat, shoot me. If I die, avenge me. So help me God…”

It was not the oath of a group that did anything by halves. Lee let air hiss out through his nose; to his sorrow, he already knew that. Whatever Goldfarb thought of it, his face revealed nothing. He turned the page, then startled Lee by starting to laugh. He pointed to the copyright page. “The printer must have been drunk, sir, and the proofreader too, or someone would have noticed this says the book was made in 2004.” He laughed again, louder this time.

“Mr. Goldfarb,” Lee said seriously, “I suggest you never speak of this, ah, error to anyone save me. Please believe me when I tell you I make this suggestion for your own safety.”

The Jew studied him, saw he meant what he said. Slowly, he nodded. “I will do as you say, sir. Now to theis foreword an English word?”

“The preface, perhaps,” Lee said after a moment’s thought.

“The preface. Thank you. I begin: ‘More than half a Jahrhundert’—excuse me, a century—’ago, during the Second Worldwar—’” He said it like that, as if it were one word, so Lee needed a second to understand and another to start to imagine what it meant, but Goldfarb was already going on: “ ‘a great man, Koot Vorster, said, “Hitler’s My Struggle shows the way to greatness, the way to South Africa. Hitler gave the Germans a calling. He gave them a fanaticism which causes them to stand back for no one. We must follow this example because only by such fanaticism can the Afrikaner nation achieve its calling.” Goldfarb looked to Lee. “This, to me, is nonsense. Do you wish me to go on with it?”

Lee did not understand the historical references either, but he knew that was because the history in question had yet to happen. He also got a stronger feeling for the way the AWB thought: fanaticism, to his way of thinking, was no virtue, yet the Rivington men plainly considered it one. He said, “Please do continue, Mr. Goldfarb.”

“If you like.” Goldfarb cleared his throat and went on: “ ‘But no one—hmm—heeded Vorster.’ I am sorry, sir, but this is Dutch spelled as if the devil had written it, and I must sometimes guess what it means. ‘South Africa threw in with England, and Hitler and Germany were beaten—and so was South Africa. Now we whites are prisoners in our own country, ruined by stupid, evil laws that make all men alike, regardless of their color. Those who cursed our land with these laws call themselves liberal, but they lie. They call us outlaws. We take pride in the name, and call them fools. They have been seduced by outlanders and outlanders’ ways, and we will no more stand for it. White power shall yet rise again, and put the kaffir’—I do not know what a kaffir is, I am sorry—’back down into his proper place. The rest of the world be damned, say I. So say we all.’”

     

 

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