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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 2 страница. the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out



the front door. He laid Harry gently on the doorstep, took a letter out

of his cloak, tucked it inside Harry's blankets, and then came back to

the other two. For a full minute the three of them stood and looked at

the little bundle; Hagrid's shoulders shook, Professor McGonagall

blinked furiously, and the twinkling light that usually shone from

Dumbledore's eyes seemed to have gone out.

 

"Well," said Dumbledore finally, "that's that. We've no business staying

here. We may as well go and join the celebrations."

 

"Yeah," said Hagrid in a very muffled voice, "I'll be takin' Sirius his

bike back. G'night, Professor McGonagall -- Professor Dumbledore, sir."

 

Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself

onto the motorcycle and kicked the engine into life; with a roar it rose

into the air and off into the night.

 

"I shall see you soon, I expect, Professor McGonagall," said Dumbledore,

nodding to her. Professor McGonagall blew her nose in reply.

 

Dumbledore turned and walked back down the street. On the corner he

stopped and took out the silver Put-Outer. He clicked it once, and

twelve balls of light sped back to their street lamps so that Privet

Drive glowed suddenly orange and he could make out a tabby cat slinking

around the corner at the other end of the street. He could just see the

bundle of blankets on the step of number four.

 

"Good luck, Harry," he murmured. He turned on his heel and with a swish

of his cloak, he was gone.

 

A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and

tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect

astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter rolled over inside his

blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside

him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was

famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs.

Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk

bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and

pinched by his cousin Dudley... He couldn't know that at this very

moment, people meeting in secret all over the country were holding up

their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry Potter -- the boy

who lived!"

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

THE VANISHING GLASS

 

Nearly ten years had passed since the Dursleys had woken up to find

their nephew on the front step, but Privet Drive had hardly changed at



all. The sun rose on the same tidy front gardens and lit up the brass

number four on the Dursleys' front door; it crept into their living

room, which was almost exactly the same as it had been on the night when

Mr. Dursley had seen that fateful news report about the owls. Only the

photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much time had passed.

Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a

large pink beach ball wearing different-colored bonnets -- but Dudley

Dursley was no longer a baby, and now the photographs showed a large

blond boy riding his first bicycle, on a carousel at the fair, playing a

computer game with his father, being hugged and kissed by his mother.

The room held no sign at all that another boy lived in the house, too.

 

Yet Harry Potter was still there, asleep at the moment, but not for

long. His Aunt Petunia was awake and it was her shrill voice that made

the first noise of the day.

 

"Up! Get up! Now!"

 

Harry woke with a start. His aunt rapped on the door again.

 

"Up!" she screeched. Harry heard her walking toward the kitchen and then

the sound of the frying pan being put on the stove. He rolled onto his

back and tried to remember the dream he had been having. It had been a

good one. There had been a flying motorcycle in it. He had a funny

feeling he'd had the same dream before.

 

His aunt was back outside the door.

 

"Are you up yet?" she demanded.

 

"Nearly," said Harry.

 

"Well, get a move on, I want you to look after the bacon. And don't you

dare let it burn, I want everything perfect on Duddy's birthday."

 

Harry groaned.

 

"What did you say?" his aunt snapped through the door.

 

"Nothing, nothing..."

 

Dudley's birthday -- how could he have forgotten? Harry got slowly out

of bed and started looking for socks. He found a pair under his bed and,

after pulling a spider off one of them, put them on. Harry was used to

spiders, because the cupboard under the stairs was full of them, and

that was where he slept.

 

When he was dressed he went down the hall into the kitchen. The table

was almost hidden beneath all Dudley's birthday presents. It looked as

though Dudley had gotten the new computer he wanted, not to mention the

second television and the racing bike. Exactly why Dudley wanted a

racing bike was a mystery to Harry, as Dudley was very fat and hated

exercise -- unless of course it involved punching somebody. Dudley's

favorite punching bag was Harry, but he couldn't often catch him. Harry

didn't look it, but he was very fast.

 

Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry

had always been small and skinny for his age. He looked even smaller and

skinnier than he really was because all he had to wear were old clothes

of Dudley's, and Dudley was about four times bigger than he was. Harry

had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes. He

wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of

all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose. The only thing Harry

liked about his own appearance was a very thin scar on his forehead that

was shaped like a bolt of lightning. He had had it as long as he could

remember, and the first question he could ever remember asking his Aunt

Petunia was how he had gotten it.

 

"In the car crash when your parents died," she had said. "And don't ask

questions."

 

Don't ask questions -- that was the first rule for a quiet life with the

Dursleys.

 

Uncle Vernon entered the kitchen as Harry was turning over the bacon.

 

"Comb your hair!" he barked, by way of a morning greeting.

 

About once a week, Uncle Vernon looked over the top of his newspaper and

shouted that Harry needed a haircut. Harry must have had more haircuts

than the rest of the boys in his class put

 

together, but it made no difference, his hair simply grew that way --

all over the place.

 

Harry was frying eggs by the time Dudley arrived in the kitchen with his

mother. Dudley looked a lot like Uncle Vernon. He had a large pink face,

not much neck, small, watery blue eyes, and thick blond hair that lay

smoothly on his thick, fat head. Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley

looked like a baby angel -- Harry often said that Dudley looked like a

pig in a wig.

 

Harry put the plates of egg and bacon on the table, which was difficult

as there wasn't much room. Dudley, meanwhile, was counting his presents.

His face fell.

 

"Thirty-six," he said, looking up at his mother and father. "That's two

less than last year."

 

"Darling, you haven't counted Auntie Marge's present, see, it's here

under this big one from Mommy and Daddy."

 

"All right, thirty-seven then," said Dudley, going red in the face.

Harry, who could see a huge Dudley tantrum coming on, began wolfing down

his bacon as fast as possible in case Dudley turned the table over.

 

Aunt Petunia obviously scented danger, too, because she said quickly,

"And we'll buy you another two presents while we're out today. How's

that, popkin? Two more presents. Is that all right''

 

Dudley thought for a moment. It looked like hard work. Finally he said

slowly, "So I'll have thirty ... thirty..."

 

"Thirty-nine, sweetums," said Aunt Petunia.

 

"Oh." Dudley sat down heavily and grabbed the nearest parcel. "All right

then."

 

Uncle Vernon chuckled. "Little tyke wants his money's worth, just like

his father. 'Atta boy, Dudley!" He ruffled Dudley's hair.

 

At that moment the telephone rang and Aunt Petunia went to answer it

while Harry and Uncle Vernon watched Dudley unwrap the racing bike, a

video camera, a remote control airplane, sixteen new computer games, and

a VCR. He was ripping the paper off a gold wristwatch when Aunt Petunia

came back from the telephone looking both angry and worried.

 

"Bad news, Vernon," she said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't

take him." She jerked her head in Harry's direction.

 

Dudley's mouth fell open in horror, but Harry's heart gave a leap. Every

year on Dudley's birthday, his parents took him and a friend out for the

day, to adventure parks, hamburger restaurants, or the movies. Every

year, Harry was left behind with Mrs. Figg, a mad old lady who lived two

streets away. Harry hated it there. The whole house smelled of cabbage

and Mrs. Figg made him look at photographs of all the cats she'd ever

owned.

 

"Now what?" said Aunt Petunia, looking furiously at Harry as though he'd

planned this. Harry knew he ought to feel sorry that Mrs. Figg had

broken her leg, but it wasn't easy when he reminded himself it would be

a whole year before he had to look at Tibbles, Snowy, Mr. Paws, and

Tufty again.

 

"We could phone Marge," Uncle Vernon suggested.

 

"Don't be silly, Vernon, she hates the boy."

 

The Dursleys often spoke about Harry like this, as though he wasn't

there -- or rather, as though he was something very nasty that couldn't

understand them, like a slug.

 

"What about what's-her-name, your friend -- Yvonne?"

 

"On vacation in Majorca," snapped Aunt Petunia.

 

"You could just leave me here," Harry put in hopefully (he'd be able to

watch what he wanted on television for a change and maybe even have a go

on Dudley's computer).

 

Aunt Petunia looked as though she'd just swallowed a lemon.

 

"And come back and find the house in ruins?" she snarled.

 

"I won't blow up the house," said Harry, but they weren't listening.

 

"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," said Aunt Petunia slowly, "...

and leave him in the car...."

 

"That car's new, he's not sitting in it alone...."

 

Dudley began to cry loudly. In fact, he wasn't really crying -- it had

been years since he'd really cried -- but he knew that if he screwed up

his face and wailed, his mother would give him anything he wanted.

 

"Dinky Duddydums, don't cry, Mummy won't let him spoil your special

day!" she cried, flinging her arms around him.

 

"I... don't... want... him... t-t-to come!" Dudley yelled between huge,

pretend sobs. "He always sp- spoils everything!" He shot Harry a nasty

grin through the gap in his mother's arms.

 

Just then, the doorbell rang -- "Oh, good Lord, they're here!" said Aunt

Petunia frantically -- and a moment later, Dudley's best friend, Piers

Polkiss, walked in with his mother. Piers was a scrawny boy with a face

like a rat. He was usually the one who held people's arms behind their

backs while Dudley hit them. Dudley stopped pretending to cry at once.

 

Half an hour later, Harry, who couldn't believe his luck, was sitting in

the back of the Dursleys' car with Piers and Dudley, on the way to the

zoo for the first time in his life. His aunt and uncle hadn't been able

to think of anything else to do with him, but before they'd left, Uncle

Vernon had taken Harry aside.

 

"I'm warning you," he had said, putting his large purple face right up

close to Harry's, "I'm warning you now, boy -- any funny business,

anything at all -- and you'll be in that cupboard from now until

Christmas."

 

"I'm not going to do anything," said Harry, "honestly..

 

But Uncle Vernon didn't believe him. No one ever did.

 

The problem was, strange things often happened around Harry and it was

just no good telling the Dursleys he didn't make them happen.

 

Once, Aunt Petunia, tired of Harry coming back from the barbers looking

as though he hadn't been at all, had taken a pair of kitchen scissors

and cut his hair so short he was almost bald except for his bangs, which

she left "to hide that horrible scar." Dudley had laughed himself silly

at Harry, who spent a sleepless night imagining school the next day,

where he was already laughed at for his baggy clothes and taped glasses.

Next morning, however, he had gotten up to find his hair exactly as it

had been before Aunt Petunia had sheared it off He had been given a week

in his cupboard for this, even though he had tried to explain that he

couldn't explain how it had grown back so quickly.

 

Another time, Aunt Petunia had been trying to force him into a revolting

old sweater of Dudley's (brown with orange puff balls) -- The harder she

tried to pull it over his head, the smaller it seemed to become, until

finally it might have fitted a hand puppet, but certainly wouldn't fit

Harry. Aunt Petunia had decided it must have shrunk in the wash and, to

his great relief, Harry wasn't punished.

 

On the other hand, he'd gotten into terrible trouble for being found on

the roof of the school kitchens. Dudley's gang had been chasing him as

usual when, as much to Harry's surprise as anyone else's, there he was

sitting on the chimney. The Dursleys had received a very angry letter

from Harry's headmistress telling them Harry had been climbing school

buildings. But all he'd tried to do (as he shouted at Uncle Vernon

through the locked door of his cupboard) was jump behind the big trash

cans outside the kitchen doors. Harry supposed that the wind must have

caught him in mid- jump.

 

But today, nothing was going to go wrong. It was even worth being with

Dudley and Piers to be spending the day somewhere that wasn't school,

his cupboard, or Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling living room.

 

While he drove, Uncle Vernon complained to Aunt Petunia. He liked to

complain about things: people at work, Harry, the council, Harry, the

bank, and Harry were just a few of his favorite subjects. This morning,

it was motorcycles.

 

"... roaring along like maniacs, the young hoodlums," he said, as a

motorcycle overtook them.

 

I had a dream about a motorcycle," said Harry, remembering suddenly. "It

was flying."

 

Uncle Vernon nearly crashed into the car in front. He turned right

around in his seat and yelled at Harry, his face like a gigantic beet

with a mustache: "MOTORCYCLES DON'T FLY!"

 

Dudley and Piers sniggered.

 

I know they don't," said Harry. "It was only a dream."

 

 

Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice creams at the

entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry

what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap

lemon ice pop. It wasn't bad, either, Harry thought, licking it as they

watched a gorilla scratching its head who looked remarkably like Dudley,

except that it wasn't blond.

 

Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to

walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who

were starting to get bored with the animals by lunchtime, wouldn't fall

back on their favorite hobby of hitting him. They ate in the zoo

restaurant, and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker

glory didn't have enough ice cream on top, Uncle Vernon bought him

another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.

 

Harry felt, afterward, that he should have known it was all too good to

last.

 

After lunch they went to the reptile house. It was cool and dark in

there, with lit windows all along the walls. Behind the glass, all sorts

of lizards and snakes were crawling and slithering over bits of wood and

stone. Dudley and Piers wanted to see huge, poisonous cobras and thick,

man-crushing pythons. Dudley quickly found the largest snake in the

place. It could have wrapped its body twice around Uncle Vernon's car

and crushed it into a trash can -- but at the moment it didn't look in

the mood. In fact, it was fast asleep.

 

Dudley stood with his nose pressed against the glass, staring at the

glistening brown coils.

 

"Make it move," he whined at his father. Uncle Vernon tapped on the

glass, but the snake didn't budge.

 

"Do it again," Dudley ordered. Uncle Vernon rapped the glass smartly

with his knuckles, but the snake just snoozed on.

 

"This is boring," Dudley moaned. He shuffled away.

 

Harry moved in front of the tank and looked intently at the snake. He

wouldn't have been surprised if it had died of boredom itself -- no

company except stupid people drumming their fingers on the glass trying

to disturb it all day long. It was worse than having a cupboard as a

bedroom, where the only visitor was Aunt Petunia hammering on the door

to wake you up; at least he got to visit the rest of the house.

 

The snake suddenly opened its beady eyes. Slowly, very slowly, it raised

its head until its eyes were on a level with Harry's.

 

It winked.

 

Harry stared. Then he looked quickly around to see if anyone was

watching. They weren't. He looked back at the snake and winked, too.

 

The snake jerked its head toward Uncle Vernon and Dudley, then raised

its eyes to the ceiling. It gave Harry a look that said quite plainly:

 

"I get that all the time.

 

"I know," Harry murmured through the glass, though he wasn't sure the

snake could hear him. "It must be really annoying."

 

The snake nodded vigorously.

 

"Where do you come from, anyway?" Harry asked.

 

The snake jabbed its tail at a little sign next to the glass. Harry

peered at it.

 

Boa Constrictor, Brazil.

 

"Was it nice there?"

 

The boa constrictor jabbed its tail at the sign again and Harry read on:

This specimen was bred in the zoo. "Oh, I see -- so you've never been to

Brazil?"

 

As the snake shook its head, a deafening shout behind Harry made both of

them jump.

 

"DUDLEY! MR. DURSLEY! COME AND LOOK AT THIS SNAKE! YOU WON'T BELIEVE

WHAT IT'S DOING!"

 

Dudley came waddling toward them as fast as he could.

 

"Out of the way, you," he said, punching Harry in the ribs. Caught by

surprise, Harry fell hard on the concrete floor. What came next happened

so fast no one saw how it happened -- one second, Piers and Dudley were

leaning right up close to the glass, the next, they had leapt back with

howls of horror.

 

Harry sat up and gasped; the glass front of the boa constrictor's tank

had vanished. The great snake was uncoiling itself rapidly, slithering

out onto the floor. People throughout the reptile house screamed and

started running for the exits.

 

As the snake slid swiftly past him, Harry could have sworn a low,

hissing voice said, "Brazil, here I come.... Thanksss, amigo."

 

The keeper of the reptile house was in shock.

 

"But the glass," he kept saying, "where did the glass go?"

 

The zoo director himself made Aunt Petunia a cup of strong, sweet tea

while he apologized over and over again. Piers and Dudley could only

gibber. As far as Harry had seen, the snake hadn't done anything except

snap playfully at their heels as it passed, but by the time they were

all back in Uncle Vernon's car, Dudley was telling them how it had

nearly bitten off his leg, while Piers was swearing it had tried to

squeeze him to death. But worst of all, for Harry at least, was Piers

calming down enough to say, "Harry was talking to it, weren't you,

Harry?"

 

Uncle Vernon waited until Piers was safely out of the house before

starting on Harry. He was so angry he could hardly speak. He managed to

say, "Go -- cupboard -- stay -- no meals," before he collapsed into a

chair, and Aunt Petunia had to run and get him a large brandy.

 

Harry lay in his dark cupboard much later, wishing he had a watch. He

didn't know what time it was and he couldn't be sure the Dursleys were

asleep yet. Until they were, he couldn't risk sneaking to the kitchen

for some food.

 

He'd lived with the Dursleys almost ten years, ten miserable years, as

long as he could remember, ever since he'd been a baby and his parents

had died in that car crash. He couldn't remember being in the car when

his parents had died. Sometimes, when he strained his memory during long

hours in his cupboard, he came up with a strange vision: a blinding

flash of green light and a burn- ing pain on his forehead. This, he

supposed, was the crash, though he couldn't imagine where all the green

light came from. He couldn't remember his parents at all. His aunt and

uncle never spoke about them, and of course he was forbidden to ask

questions. There were no photographs of them in the house.

 

When he had been younger, Harry had dreamed and dreamed of some unknown

relation coming to take him away, but it had never happened; the

Dursleys were his only family. Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped)

that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers

they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once

while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. After asking Harry

furiously if he knew the man, Aunt Petunia had rushed them out of the

shop without buying anything. A wild-looking old woman dressed all in

green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long

purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and

then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all these

people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a

closer look.

 

At school, Harry had no one. Everybody knew that Dudley's gang hated

that odd Harry Potter in his baggy old clothes and broken glasses, and

nobody liked to disagree with Dudley's gang.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

THE LETTERS FROM NO ONE

 

The escape of the Brazilian boa constrictor earned Harry his

longest-ever punishment. By the time he was allowed out of his cupboard

again, the summer holidays had started and Dudley had already broken his

new video camera, crashed his remote control airplane, and, first time

out on his racing bike, knocked down old Mrs. Figg as she crossed Privet

Drive on her crutches.

 

Harry was glad school was over, but there was no escaping Dudley's gang,

who visited the house every single day. Piers, Dennis, Malcolm, and

Gordon were all big and stupid, but as Dudley was the biggest and

stupidest of the lot, he was the leader. The rest of them were all quite

happy to join in Dudley's favorite sport: Harry Hunting.

 

This was why Harry spent as much time as possible out of the house,

wandering around and thinking about the end of the holidays, where he

could see a tiny ray of hope. When September came he would be going off

to secondary school and, for the first time in his life, he wouldn't be

with Dudley. Dudley had been accepted at Uncle Vernon's old private

school, Smeltings. Piers Polkiss was going there too. Harry, on the

other hand, was going to Stonewall High, the local public school. Dudley

thought this was very funny.

 

"They stuff people's heads down the toilet the first day at Stonewall,"

he told Harry. "Want to come upstairs and practice?"

 

"No, thanks," said Harry. "The poor toilet's never had anything as

horrible as your head down it -- it might be sick." Then he ran, before

Dudley could work out what he'd said.

 

One day in July, Aunt Petunia took Dudley to London to buy his Smeltings

uniform, leaving Harry at Mrs. Figg's. Mrs. Figg wasn 't as bad as

usual. It turned out she'd broken her leg tripping over one of her cats,

and she didn't seem quite as fond of them as before. She let Harry watch

television and gave him a bit of chocolate cake that tasted as though

she'd had it for several years.

 

That evening, Dudley paraded around the living room for the family in

his brand-new uniform. Smeltings' boys wore maroon tailcoats, orange

knickerbockers, and flat straw hats called boaters. They also carried

knobbly sticks, used for hitting each other while the teachers weren't

looking. This was supposed to be good training for later life.

 

As he looked at Dudley in his new knickerbockers, Uncle Vernon said

gruffly that it was the proudest moment of his life. Aunt Petunia burst

into tears and said she couldn't believe it was her Ickle Dudleykins, he

looked so handsome and grown-up. Harry didn't trust himself to speak. He

thought two of his ribs might already have cracked from trying not to

laugh.

 

There was a horrible smell in the kitchen the next morning when Harry

went in for breakfast. It seemed to be coming from a large metal tub in

the sink. He went to have a look. The tub was full of what looked like





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