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فصل 05

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER FIVE

As Angus awoke to find a perfect blue sky outside his window, he could almost forget about Alan McLeod and how his sons must be feeling. He lay a moment thinking about his own dad and his childhood on Harris.

This train of thought was interrupted by a beep from his phone. Susie had sent a message: ‘Don’t forget to ask your mum! Luv S’.

He felt a momentary flutter of nerves, but then hurried out of bed, so he could ask his mum if Susie could stay, before he chickened out.

He had known his mum wouldn’t say no, but she was more enthusiastic than he’d expected.

“Of course she’s welcome. I’d like to meet her,” she said as if he invited girlfriends home every day, “Now what are your plans for the day? Are you going to visit poor Stuart McLeod?”

“Yes, I thought I’d walk up there.”

“Well, give him my condolences. His father was a good man.”

Angus acknowledged this and left to get ready.

It was about half past ten when Angus left the cosy bungalow for the crisp air outside. He smiled as the sun hit his face and set off to the McLeods’ hands in pockets, taking the quickest route through the village.

Tramping past the garage - still closed that morning - he remembered Stephen’s car driving away the previous night and he tried to work out a connection between him and Mark Mackenzie. It could be entirely innocent, but something about their exchange hadn’t seemed quite right.

As the last of the village houses merged into the rolling hillsides and he was alone with only a few blackfaced sheep for company, he remembered overhearing someone in the pub say that Mark had returned from London in October. He’d gone there to set up a new life for himself but it had all gone wrong. Stephen lived in London, but knowing the size of the city it seemed unlikely that two lads from Tarbert on Harris had bumped into each other there.

He was so distracted by these thoughts that he didn’t notice the clouds appearing in the distance, visible as he reached the top of a hill. To an inexperienced observer they looked harmless: fluffy white clouds far away, but a local would know that they heralded stormy weather.

Still deep in thought he walked along the McLeod’s driveway with his head down and almost collided with Stephen McLeod. Stephen’s face was grey and his eyes showed signs of a sleepless night. He spoke first: “Stuart’s already gone out, said he was heading to Pirates’ Cove.”

Angus almost smiled at this childhood name: “Thanks, I’ll see if I can find him. Or do you think he wants to be alone?”

“No, no, I’m sure he’d be pleased with the company. I’ll walk with you a bit of the way.”

Angus nodded and the two men fell into step. After a moment Angus spoke again, “I’m really sorry about your dad.”

Not knowing Stephen so well he wasn’t sure what else to add.

“Thanks. I’m just glad I could be there.”

Angus nodded again but was confused: hadn’t the doctor said that only Stuart was at his father’s bedside? Did Stephen just mean he glad he was at home and not in London?

Stephen continued talking: “I feel bad about being away all this time. I wasn’t a good son but I intend to change that now.”

Angus wondered what he meant by that, but kept quiet.

At the crossroads they shook hands and parted ways. Angus hurried in the direction of the small beach that they had played on as kids, hoping to find Stuart still be there.

Clambering over rocks to get to the beach, he found it deserted. The sea, wild and grey, pounded on the sand and rocks. Angus shivered and noticed for the first time that the sun had disappeared and been replaced by mercury-coloured clouds.

He sat down and pulled out a Thermos of tea and a squashed sandwich. While he was eating he pondered what to do. He was frustrated that he hadn’t found Stuart, and for a moment wondered if Stephen had deliberately sent him the wrong way. Dismissing that thought as paranoia, he quickly finished his snack. He knew a shortcut home along the cliffs. It wouldn’t offer much protection from the weather but would shorten the walk by an hour. Weighing up his options he decided to risk the shortcut: he could still return to the road if need be. He climbed back up the rocks and set off in the direction of Tarbert.

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