锘挎澀宸炶冻娴村灏戦挶
l all at once gay and light-hearted as I shout to Faraj to cease his explorations and bring back the punt. He does so reluctantly and at last we set off across the lake, back through the channels and corridors of reed towards the lodge. 鈥楨ight brace no good鈥?says Faraj, thinking of the large 鏉窞涓濊瓒充氦 professional bags we will have to face when Ralli and Capodistria return. 鈥楩or me it is very good鈥?I say. 鈥業 am a rotten shot. Never done as well.鈥?We enter the thickly sown channels of water which border the lake like miniature canals. At the end, against the light, I catch sight of another punt moving towards us which gradually defines itself into the familiar figure of Nessim. He is wearing his old moleskin cap with the ear-flaps up and tied over the top. I wave but he does not respond. He sits abstractedly in the prow of the punt 鏉窞鎸夋懇鏈嶅姟 with his hands clasped about his knees. 鈥楴essim鈥?I shout. 鈥楬ow did you do? I got eight brace and one lost.鈥?The boats are nearly abreast now, for we are heading towards the mouth of the

鏉窞娲楁荡鎸夋懇鐗规湇

last canal which leads to the lodge. Nessim waits until we are within a few yards of each other before he says with a curious 鏉窞鍝佽尪缇よ€佸徃鏈?serenity, 鈥楧id you hear? There鈥檚 been an accident. Capodistria 鈥︹€?and all of a sudden my heart contracts in my body. 鈥楥apodistria?鈥?I stammer. Nessim still has the curious impish serenity of someone resting after a great expenditure of energy. 鈥楬e鈥檚 dead鈥?he says, and I hear the sudden roar of the hydroplane engines starting up behind the wall of reeds. He nods towards the sound and adds in the same still voice: 鈥楾hey are taking him back to Alexandria.鈥?A thousand conventional commonplaces, a thousand conventional questions spring 鏉窞妗戞嬁浼氭墍 to my mind, but for a long time I can say nothing. On the balcony the others have assembled uneasily, almost shamefacedly; they are like a group of thoughtless schoolboys for whom some silly prank has ended in the death of one of their fellows. The furry cone of noise from the hydroplane still coats the air. In 鏉窞鑳藉惞鐨勮冻娴村簵 the middle distance one can hear shouts and the noise of car-engines starting up. The piled bodies of the duck, which would normally be subject matter for gloating commentaries, he about the lodge with anachronistic absurdity. 鏉窞spa浼氭墍 It appears that death is a relative question. We had only been prepared to accept a certain share of it when we entered the dark lake with our weapons. The death of Capodistria hangs in the still air like a bad smell, like a bad joke. Ralli had been sent to get him and had found the body lying face down 鏉窞娲楁荡鐖?in the shallow waters of the lake with the black eye-patch floating near him. It was clearly an accident. Capodistria鈥檚 loader was an elderly man, thin as a cormorant, who sits now hunched over a mess of beans on the balcony. He cannot give a coherent account of the business. He is from Upper Egypt and has the weary half-crazed expression of a desert father. Ralli is extremely nervous and is drinking copious draughts of brandy. He retells his story for the seventh time, simply because he must talk in order to quieten his nerves. 鏉窞鎸夋懇鍏ㄥ鏈嶅姟 The body cou