English for Everybody - Intermediate reading comprehension


Page 61


The three ladies

I pulled a large couch out of its place near the corner, so that I could lie and look at the lovely view to east and south. Without thinking or caring about the dust, I prepared myself for sleep. I suppose I must have fallen asleep. I hope so, but I am afraid I did not, because what happened next was startlingly real. In fact it was so real that now, whilst I am sitting here in the broad, full sunlight of the morning, I really cannot believe that it was all sleep.

I was not alone. The room was the same. It had not changed in any way since I came into it. In the brilliant moonlight I could see my own footsteps on the floor, marked in the long accumulation of dust. In the moonlight opposite me were three young women. They seemed to be ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time when I saw them that I must be dreaming, because their bodies made no shadow on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at me for a while, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high, thin, straight noses, like the Count, and big dark eyes that seemed to see straight through me. Their eyes looked almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon.

The other was pale, very pale indeed. She had great masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I thought I knew her face, and that it had something to do with some kind of dreamy fear, but I could not recollect anything more at that moment. All three ladies had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, wanting something yet at the same time feeling some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips.


Couch: Sofa; a seat for two or three
Startlingly: Astonishingly
Accumulation: Gathering together
Manner: Behaviour
Contrasted: Compared
Masses: Amounts
Sapphires: Blue precious stones
Recollect: Remember
Pearls: White shiny stones from oysters
Voluptuous: Loving pleasure

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