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E-Books (english-e-reader), Christmas in Prague CHAPTER 5-7 (1)

Christmas in Prague CHAPTER 5-7 (1)

Some visitors for Carol

Two hours later a tall man arrived at the hospital. He asked to see the woman in yesterday's street accident. He didn't know her name. The doctor came downstairs. 'Who are you?' she asked the man.

'My name is Pavel Brychta. I saw the accident and I called the ambulance. Is the woman all right? I just wanted to know that. I was afraid she was dead.'

The doctor smiled. 'Would you like to see her? She's much better now.'

'Yes, please,' answered Pavel.

'Then come with me.'

They went upstairs in the lift and walked along to Carol's room. At the door, they stopped and looked in through the window.

'She's sleeping,' said the doctor.

'But she looks well,' said Pavel. 'Yesterday she looked so white! I was afraid for her.'

Just then, Carol opened her eyes and saw a man through the window in her door.

She sat up. 'Jan!' she shouted. 'Jan!'

'Oh dear!' the doctor said. 'Not again! She hit her head in the accident and she's confused about some things. She thinks that you are her husband from England.'

'Shall I go?' asked Pavel.

'Perhaps it's better - yes,' answered the doctor.

She went into Carol's room and closed the door. Pavel walked slowly back to the lift. Then the lift door opened and a man ran out, with some beautiful red flowers in his arms. He looked at the numbers of the rooms and then went quickly into Carol's room. He didn't see Pavel. But an older man came slowly out of the lift next. He saw Pavel, and stopped suddenly. Pavel stopped too.

'I'm sorry,' said the old man. 'My eyes aren't very good... I thought... You see look -'

'Yes, I know,' said Pavel. 'I saw your friend.'

'He's not my friend - he's my son. Please, tell me, what is your name?'

'Pavel Brychta.'

The old man looked very afraid. His face went white, and his mouth opened and closed, but he said nothing.

Now Pavel was afraid.

'You don't look very well,' he said. 'Would you like to sit down? And shall I call a doctor? There's a doctor in this room here...'

'Please...' said the old man. 'My son is in that room. Please take me to him.'

Pavel took the old man's arm.

In Carol's room, Jan put the red flowers on the bed and took his wife's hands.

'Oh, my love, are you all right?' he said. 'I can't understand it. Why did you run in front of a bus? How did it happen?'

Carol didn't answer his questions.

'Jan?' She looked up into his face. 'You are Jan? Tell me that you're Jan.'

'Of course I'm Jan! What are you talking about?'

The doctor came up to the bed. 'Wait a minute,' she said. 'You told me that your name was Pavel Brychta. Are you Mrs Vlach's husband, or not?'

Just then, Carol looked behind Jan. She saw Pavel with Jan's father through the window of her door. Her eyes got bigger and bigger.

'Who - is - that?' she said.

Jan and the doctor turned and saw Pavel.

'My God!' said Jan. 'I don't know!'

The doctor looked back at Jan's face. 'Two men, but only one face,' she said quietly.

Then Jan's father opened the door of Carol's room and the two men came in.

Jan stood up. He looked at his father. 'Who is this man?' he asked.

'His name is Pavel Brychta,' answered his father. 'Please bring me a chair and some water. I need to sit down before I can answer your question.'

Jan got a chair for his father and the doctor gave him some water. Then she left the room quietly.

CHAPTER SIX

Who is Pavel?

The old man drank some water and looked up.

'Pavel,' he said. 'I must ask you to look at this photo.' He put his hand in his pocket and took out a photograph of a young woman. 'Do you know this woman?'

'Yes,' said Pavel. 'That's a photo of my mother, Lenka.

She died when I was very young. But my grandmother had many photos of her, and we often looked at them.'

'Did you live with your grandmother when you were young?'

'Yes, I did. But how do you know all this?'

'Because,' said Josef, 'Lenka was my wife.'

'Dad, what are you saying?' said Jan.

Josef looked at Jan. 'My boy, don't be angry with me. I didn't tell you many things about your mother. Perhaps I was wrong. But I wanted to forget... not to forget your mother, only to forget that terrible night in 1957. Jan, this man Pavel is your twin brother. You can see that it's true. Look at your faces.'

Pavel looked at Jan. 'So, I have a brother,' he said. 'My grandmother never told me that.'

Jan smiled. 'And my father - our father - never told me about a twin brother!' He turned to Josef. 'Dad, why didn't you tell me?'

'It's a long story,' said the old man. 'It begins many years ago when a young man went to Prague University. He was there for seven years, and in his last year he met a beautiful young woman.'

His eyes turned to the photo.

'She was so beautiful! Of course, the young man fell in love with her, and they got married in 1956. But things were difficult in Prague then. People were not happy and they were not free. Lenka and I, and a lot of our friends, wanted to change things. But it was dangerous work. The Russians knew about us and they watched us all the time. Then you two boys were born on a wonderful day in June 1957.'

'But you went away,' Pavel said angrily. 'Your wife died, and you left the country. You went away to England and began a new life. You didn't write, you didn't telephone. You weren't interested in me - your son!'

Josef's face was very sad. 'Pavel,' he said. 'I thought you were dead. Look. I must show you something.' From behind the photo of his wife, he took out a letter, and gave it to Pavel.

The letter was old and yellow. Pavel opened it and began to read. The letter was in Czech, and it was his grandmother's writing.

I write to tell you, Josef, that your wife is dead. On Christmas night, the guards shot her on the road at the border. She carried Pavel - your baby son, and my grandson - on her back, and the guards shot him too. Your wife, and your son, are dead. Your 'friends' came and told me yesterday.

You have Jan, and a new life in England. And what do I have? Nothing. You took one grandson away from me, and now my daughter and little Pavel are dead - because of you. Don't write to me, and don't come back to Prague. I never want to see you or hear from you again.

Stanislava

Slowly, Pavel put the letter down. 'I understand now,' he said quietly. 'What a terrible letter! How could she do that to you... and to me?'

'Stanislava loved her daughter very much,' Josef said sadly. 'She loved you, too, and didn't want to lose you. I see that now. But she never liked me. And after that letter, how could I go back to Prague? You were dead, Lenka was dead...' He put his face in his hands.

The room was very quiet. Then Pavel put his hand on his father's arm. 'Stanislava is dead now,' he said. 'You and I can begin again...' He smiled. 'And learn to be father and son.'

Josef's face was wet with tears. He put his hand over Pavel's hand and smiled back at him, but he could not speak. Now there were tears in everybody's eyes.

After a minute or two Jan said, 'Dad, I know it's difficult for you. But can you tell us about that Christmas in 1957? How did it all happen? I'd like to know...'

'Yes,' said his father. 'You, and Pavel, must know.' He turned to Pavel. 'But what did Stanislava tell you?'

'Very little,' Pavel said. 'She never wanted to talk about it. She told me that my mother died in hospital. And you went away to England. That was all.'

'I can understand that,' said Josef. 'Poor Stanislava! She lost her daughter, because of me. And she never liked our work for freedom, you see. She didn't understand. She just wanted a quiet family life.'

'Christmas 1957...' said Jan.

'Yes,' said Josef. 'In October and November of that year things got more and more dangerous for Lenka and me. Our friends told us: "Leave, before the Russians get you. Get away to Austria, and then to England." We didn't want to leave Czechoslovakia, of course; it was our home. But we couldn't stay. Our friends helped us, and Jan and I got across the border on the day before Christmas, December the 24th. It was night. There was no moon, and we got to Austria all right through the fields and the snow. But the next night...'

'December the 25th,' said Pavel. 'My grandmother told me the day. My mother died in a hospital bed in Prague, she said.'

'Lenka died in the snow, on the road at the border,' Josef said. 'She was so near Austria... so near us... with you, Pavel, on her back...'

The old man's voice stopped, and again, he put his head in his hands.

CHAPTER SEVEN

The music must come first

For some minutes, nobody in the room said anything.

They looked at the old man in his chair, and they all thought about a snowy night in 1957.

Then Pavel turned to Jan.

'Let's forget 1957 for now,' he said quietly. 'For me, this is a wonderful day. I have no family in Prague. My grandmother died many years ago. But now I have a brother, a father...' He looked at Carol in her bed, and smiled. 'And a sister.'

'Why did you come to the hospital to see me?' Carol asked.

'You had an accident because of me,' Pavel said. 'I knew that. You called to me, and shouted, and then ran to me across the street, right in front of a bus. I didn't understand why, but I wanted to know that you were all right.'

Jan looked at Carol too. 'And are you all right, my love? I'm sorry, I forgot about you...'

'I'm feeling very well,' Carol said happily. 'Now I understand everything, so I feel much better. My husband is my husband again - and we have a new brother. Oh, but there is one thing...' She looked at her new brother. 'Why is your name Pavel Brychta, and not Pavel Vlach?' The old man moved in his chair. 'Her name was Lenka Brychta,' he said quietly, 'before she married me.'

'Yes,' Pavel said. He looked at Carol. 'You see, my father didn't want me, I thought. So I didn't want my father's name, and when I was older, I changed it and took my mother's name.' He turned to his father. 'I was an angry young man then, but now...'

'No,' said Josef. 'Don't change it. It's a very good name. And you are Lenka's son.'

Suddenly the door opened, and Mr Rinaldi came in. 'Carol,' he said, 'the doctor says that you are better. Is it true? You look wonderful. Can you play in the concert tonight? You see, I can't find another harpist, and without a harp the music -'

He saw everyone for the first time, and stopped.

'Oh, I'm sorry,' he said quickly. 'I see you have friends here. But, you see, it's important. It's an important concert for my orchestra and -' He stopped again. 'Why are you all laughing at me?'

Jan stopped laughing first.

'Mr Rinaldi,' he said, 'you are the right man for Prague, the city of music. The music must come first!'

'Carol...' Mr Rinaldi began.



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Christmas in Prague CHAPTER 5-7 (1)

Some visitors for Carol

Two hours later a tall man arrived at the hospital. He asked to see the woman in yesterday's street accident. He didn't know her name. The doctor came downstairs. 'Who are you?' she asked the man.

'My name is Pavel Brychta. I saw the accident and I called the ambulance. Is the woman all right? I just wanted to know that. I was afraid she was dead.'

The doctor smiled. 'Would you like to see her? She's much better now.'

'Yes, please,' answered Pavel.

'Then come with me.'

They went upstairs in the lift and walked along to Carol's room. At the door, they stopped and looked in through the window.

'She's sleeping,' said the doctor.

'But she looks well,' said Pavel. 'Yesterday she looked so white! I was afraid for her.'

Just then, Carol opened her eyes and saw a man through the window in her door.

She sat up. 'Jan!' she shouted. 'Jan!'

'Oh dear!' the doctor said. 'Not again! She hit her head in the accident and she's confused about some things. She thinks that you are her husband from England.'

'Shall I go?' asked Pavel.

'Perhaps it's better - yes,' answered the doctor.

She went into Carol's room and closed the door. Pavel walked slowly back to the lift. Then the lift door opened and a man ran out, with some beautiful red flowers in his arms. He looked at the numbers of the rooms and then went quickly into Carol's room. He didn't see Pavel. But an older man came slowly out of the lift next. He saw Pavel, and stopped suddenly. Pavel stopped too.

'I'm sorry,' said the old man. 'My eyes aren't very good... I thought... You see look -'

'Yes, I know,' said Pavel. 'I saw your friend.'

'He's not my friend - he's my son. Please, tell me, what is your name?'

'Pavel Brychta.'

The old man looked very afraid. His face went white, and his mouth opened and closed, but he said nothing.

Now Pavel was afraid.

'You don't look very well,' he said. 'Would you like to sit down? And shall I call a doctor? There's a doctor in this room here...'

'Please...' said the old man. 'My son is in that room. Please take me to him.'

Pavel took the old man's arm.

In Carol's room, Jan put the red flowers on the bed and took his wife's hands.

'Oh, my love, are you all right?' he said. 'I can't understand it. Why did you run in front of a bus? How did it happen?'

Carol didn't answer his questions.

'Jan?' She looked up into his face. 'You are Jan? Tell me that you're Jan.'

'Of course I'm Jan! What are you talking about?'

The doctor came up to the bed. 'Wait a minute,' she said. 'You told me that your name was Pavel Brychta. Are you Mrs Vlach's husband, or not?'

Just then, Carol looked behind Jan. She saw Pavel with Jan's father through the window of her door. Her eyes got bigger and bigger.

'Who - is - that?' she said.

Jan and the doctor turned and saw Pavel.

'My God!' said Jan. 'I don't know!'

The doctor looked back at Jan's face. 'Two men, but only one face,' she said quietly.

Then Jan's father opened the door of Carol's room and the two men came in.

Jan stood up. He looked at his father. 'Who is this man?' he asked.

'His name is Pavel Brychta,' answered his father. 'Please bring me a chair and some water. I need to sit down before I can answer your question.'

Jan got a chair for his father and the doctor gave him some water. Then she left the room quietly.

CHAPTER SIX

Who is Pavel?

The old man drank some water and looked up.

'Pavel,' he said. 'I must ask you to look at this photo.' He put his hand in his pocket and took out a photograph of a young woman. 'Do you know this woman?'

'Yes,' said Pavel. 'That's a photo of my mother, Lenka.

She died when I was very young. But my grandmother had many photos of her, and we often looked at them.'

'Did you live with your grandmother when you were young?'

'Yes, I did. But how do you know all this?'

'Because,' said Josef, 'Lenka was my wife.'

'Dad, what are you saying?' said Jan.

Josef looked at Jan. 'My boy, don't be angry with me. I didn't tell you many things about your mother. Perhaps I was wrong. But I wanted to forget... not to forget your mother, only to forget that terrible night in 1957. Jan, this man Pavel is your twin brother. You can see that it's true. Look at your faces.'

Pavel looked at Jan. 'So, I have a brother,' he said. 'My grandmother never told me that.'

Jan smiled. 'And my father - our father - never told me about a twin brother!' He turned to Josef. 'Dad, why didn't you tell me?'

'It's a long story,' said the old man. 'It begins many years ago when a young man went to Prague University. He was there for seven years, and in his last year he met a beautiful young woman.'

His eyes turned to the photo.

'She was so beautiful! Of course, the young man fell in love with her, and they got married in 1956. But things were difficult in Prague then. People were not happy and they were not free. Lenka and I, and a lot of our friends, wanted to change things. But it was dangerous work. The Russians knew about us and they watched us all the time. Then you two boys were born on a wonderful day in June 1957.'

'But you went away,' Pavel said angrily. 'Your wife died, and you left the country. You went away to England and began a new life. You didn't write, you didn't telephone. You weren't interested in me - your son!'

Josef's face was very sad. 'Pavel,' he said. 'I thought you were dead. Look. I must show you something.' From behind the photo of his wife, he took out a letter, and gave it to Pavel.

The letter was old and yellow. Pavel opened it and began to read. The letter was in Czech, and it was his grandmother's writing.

I write to tell you, Josef, that your wife is dead. On Christmas night, the guards shot her on the road at the border. She carried Pavel - your baby son, and my grandson - on her back, and the guards shot him too. Your wife, and your son, are dead. Your 'friends' came and told me yesterday.

You have Jan, and a new life in England. And what do I have? Nothing. You took one grandson away from me, and now my daughter and little Pavel are dead - because of you. Don't write to me, and don't come back to Prague. I never want to see you or hear from you again.

Stanislava

Slowly, Pavel put the letter down. 'I understand now,' he said quietly. 'What a terrible letter! How could she do that to you... and to me?'

'Stanislava loved her daughter very much,' Josef said sadly. 'She loved you, too, and didn't want to lose you. I see that now. But she never liked me. And after that letter, how could I go back to Prague? You were dead, Lenka was dead...' He put his face in his hands.

The room was very quiet. Then Pavel put his hand on his father's arm. 'Stanislava is dead now,' he said. 'You and I can begin again...' He smiled. 'And learn to be father and son.'

Josef's face was wet with tears. He put his hand over Pavel's hand and smiled back at him, but he could not speak. Now there were tears in everybody's eyes.

After a minute or two Jan said, 'Dad, I know it's difficult for you. But can you tell us about that Christmas in 1957? How did it all happen? I'd like to know...'

'Yes,' said his father. 'You, and Pavel, must know.' He turned to Pavel. 'But what did Stanislava tell you?'

'Very little,' Pavel said. 'She never wanted to talk about it. She told me that my mother died in hospital. And you went away to England. That was all.'

'I can understand that,' said Josef. 'Poor Stanislava! She lost her daughter, because of me. And she never liked our work for freedom, you see. She didn't understand. She just wanted a quiet family life.'

'Christmas 1957...' said Jan.

'Yes,' said Josef. 'In October and November of that year things got more and more dangerous for Lenka and me. Our friends told us: "Leave, before the Russians get you. Get away to Austria, and then to England." We didn't want to leave Czechoslovakia, of course; it was our home. But we couldn't stay. Our friends helped us, and Jan and I got across the border on the day before Christmas, December the 24th. It was night. There was no moon, and we got to Austria all right through the fields and the snow. But the next night...'

'December the 25th,' said Pavel. 'My grandmother told me the day. My mother died in a hospital bed in Prague, she said.'

'Lenka died in the snow, on the road at the border,' Josef said. 'She was so near Austria... so near us... with you, Pavel, on her back...'

The old man's voice stopped, and again, he put his head in his hands.

CHAPTER SEVEN

The music must come first

For some minutes, nobody in the room said anything.

They looked at the old man in his chair, and they all thought about a snowy night in 1957.

Then Pavel turned to Jan.

'Let's forget 1957 for now,' he said quietly. 'For me, this is a wonderful day. I have no family in Prague. My grandmother died many years ago. But now I have a brother, a father...' He looked at Carol in her bed, and smiled. 'And a sister.'

'Why did you come to the hospital to see me?' Carol asked.

'You had an accident because of me,' Pavel said. 'I knew that. You called to me, and shouted, and then ran to me across the street, right in front of a bus. I didn't understand why, but I wanted to know that you were all right.'

Jan looked at Carol too. 'And are you all right, my love? I'm sorry, I forgot about you...'

'I'm feeling very well,' Carol said happily. 'Now I understand everything, so I feel much better. My husband is my husband again - and we have a new brother. Oh, but there is one thing...' She looked at her new brother. 'Why is your name Pavel Brychta, and not Pavel Vlach?' The old man moved in his chair. 'Her name was Lenka Brychta,' he said quietly, 'before she married me.'

'Yes,' Pavel said. He looked at Carol. 'You see, my father didn't want me, I thought. So I didn't want my father's name, and when I was older, I changed it and took my mother's name.' He turned to his father. 'I was an angry young man then, but now...'

'No,' said Josef. 'Don't change it. It's a very good name. And you are Lenka's son.'

Suddenly the door opened, and Mr Rinaldi came in. 'Carol,' he said, 'the doctor says that you are better. Is it true? You look wonderful. Can you play in the concert tonight? You see, I can't find another harpist, and without a harp the music -'

He saw everyone for the first time, and stopped.

'Oh, I'm sorry,' he said quickly. 'I see you have friends here. But, you see, it's important. It's an important concert for my orchestra and -' He stopped again. 'Why are you all laughing at me?'

Jan stopped laughing first.

'Mr Rinaldi,' he said, 'you are the right man for Prague, the city of music. The music must come first!'

'Carol...' Mr Rinaldi began.

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