فصل 11

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER ELEVEN

I got up late the next morning. Mrs Blair called me as I came on deck.

‘Good morning, gipsy girl. Sit down here next to me.’

‘Why do you call me that?’ I asked, as I sat down.

‘It suits you. It’s the gipsy in you that makes you so different. I decided from the beginning that you and Colonel Race were the two most interesting people on the ship.’

‘That’s funny, ‘I said,’ I thought the same about you - only that is much easier to understand.’

Mrs Blair laughed - and I knew we would get on well together.

‘Tell me about yourself, Anne. Why are you going to South Africa?’

I told her about Papa’s work.

‘So you are Charles Beddingfeld’s daughter? I knew you were more than a simple country girl! Are you going to Broken Hill to dig up more bones?’

‘I may,’ I said carefully. ‘I’ve got other plans as well.’

‘What a mysterious girl you are. But you look tired this morning. Did you not sleep well?’ She yawned. ‘A fool of a steward woke me in the middle of the night to return that film I dropped yesterday. He did it in the most silly way. He put his arm through the air ventilator and dropped it on me. I thought it was a bomb for a moment!’

‘Here is your colonel,’ I said, as Colonel Race appeared on the deck.

‘He’s not my colonel. In fact he admires you very much. So don’t run off.’

‘I need something from my cabin,’ I said and left quietly.

For some reason I was a little afraid of Colonel Race. I went down to my cabin to find something to stop the wind blowing my hair about. But as soon as I opened my drawer, I knew it had been searched. I sat down, my head full of questions. Since the previous night, I had been wondering who the young man in my cabin was, and who had stabbed him. And now this. Who had done it? What were they looking for? Why should Cabin Number 17 be so important?

I counted the people I thought I should watch. Sir Eustace Pedler. Mr Pagett, the cruel-looking secretary. And a conversation with Mr Chichester would be a good idea, I decided.

Tying a scarf round my hair, I went up on deck again, determined to look for answers. I was in luck. Mr Chichester was leaning against the rail, drinking tea.

‘I hope you have forgiven me about Cabin 17,’ I said with my best smile.

‘I believe in forgiveness,’ said Mr Chichester coldly.

‘Is this your first visit to South Africa?’ I asked.

‘Yes. But I have worked for the last two years amongst the cannibals in East Africa.’

‘Man-eaters! How exciting! How did you escape?’

‘Escape?’

‘From being eaten, I mean?’

Mr Chichester was not amused. But if he had spent the last two years in Africa, why was he not suntanned? His skin was as pink as a baby’s.

After lunch I found Sir Eustace and Pagett having coffee with Mrs Blair and Colonel Race. Mrs Blair welcomed me with a smile, so I joined them.

‘But I love the Italians,’ Mrs Blair was saying. ‘They’re so helpful. You ask for directions and they take you kindly by the arm and walk all the way there with you.’

‘Was that your experience in Florence, Pagett?’ asked Sir Eustace, with a smile.

His secretary’s face became pink and he had difficulty speaking. ‘Oh - yes - yes.’

With a quick excuse, he got up and left.

‘I am beginning to believe Pagett has committed some secret crime in Florence,’ remarked Sir Eustace. ‘Whenever Italy is mentioned, he changes the subject or runs off.’

‘Perhaps he murdered someone,’ said Mrs Blair. ‘I hope I am not hurting your feelings, Sir Eustace, but he does look like a murderer.’

‘Yes! It is amusing, when you think of how very respectable the poor man is.’

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