Disgrace by J M Coetzee

Disgrace by J M Coetzee

Author:J M Coetzee [J. M. Coetzee]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Random House
Published: 2011-11-11T16:00:00+00:00


FOURTEEN

A NEW DAY. Ettinger telephones, offering to lend them a gun ‘for the meanwhile’. ‘Thank you,’ he replies. ‘We’ll think about it.’

He gets out Lucy’s tools and repairs the kitchen door as well as he is able. They ought to install bars, security gates, a perimeter fence, as Ettinger has done. They ought to turn the farmhouse into a fortress. Lucy ought to buy a pistol and a two-way radio, and take shooting lessons. But will she ever consent? She is here because she loves the land and the old, ländliche way of life. If that way of life is doomed, what is left for her to love?

Katy is coaxed out of her hiding-place and settled in the kitchen. She is subdued and timorous, following Lucy about, keeping close to her heels. Life, from moment to moment, is not as before. The house feels alien, violated; they are continually on the alert, listening for sounds.

Then Petrus makes his return. An old lorry groans up the rutted driveway and stops beside the stable. Petrus steps down from the cab, wearing a suit too tight for him, followed by his wife and the driver. From the back of the lorry the two men unload cartons, creosoted poles, sheets of galvanized iron, a roll of plastic piping, and finally, with much noise and commotion, two halfgrown sheep, which Petrus tethers to a fence-post. The lorry makes a wide sweep around the stable and thunders back down the driveway. Petrus and his wife disappear inside. A plume of smoke begins to rise from the asbestos-pipe chimney.

He continues to watch. In a while, Petrus’s wife emerges and with a broad, easy movement empties a slop bucket. A handsome woman, he thinks to himself, with her long skirt and her headcloth piled high, country fashion. A handsome woman and a lucky man. But where have they been?

‘Petrus is back,’ he tells Lucy. ‘With a load of building materials.’

‘Good.’

‘Why didn’t he tell you he was going away? Doesn’t it strike you as fishy that he should disappear at precisely this time?’

‘I can’t order Petrus about. He is his own master.’

A non sequitur, but he lets it pass. He has decided to let everything pass, with Lucy, for the time being.

Lucy keeps to herself, expresses no feelings, shows no interest in anything around her. It is he, ignorant as he is about farming, who must let the ducks out of their pen, master the sluice system and lead water to save the garden from parching. Lucy spends hour after hour lying on her bed, staring into space or looking at old magazines, of which she seems to have an unlimited store. She flicks through them impatiently, as though searching for something that is not there. Of Edwin Drood there is no more sign.

He spies Petrus out at the dam, in his work overalls. It seems odd that the man has not yet reported to Lucy. He strolls over, exchanges greetings. ‘You must have heard, we had a big robbery on Wednesday while you were away.



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