فصل 23

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER TWENTY THREE

When we arrived at Bulawayo, Sir Eustace was rather bad tempered. I think it was our wooden animals that annoyed him - especially the large giraffe with the very long neck. To carry forty-nine wooden animals is a problem. We hired two porters, Suzanne and I carried all we could, Colonel Race helped, and I placed the big giraffe into Sir Eustace’s arms. Even Miss Pettigrew did not escape.

I had a feeling Miss Pettigrew did not like me. She avoided me as much as she could. And the funny thing was, her face seemed familiar.

I didn’t sleep well that night, because of bad dreams. But the morning was fresh and lovely, with wooded hills as far as I could see. I loved it more than any place I had ever seen. I wished then that I could live there always.

That afternoon, Colonel Race pointed a long way ahead of us to a cloud of white mist. ‘The spray from the water at Victoria Falls,’ he said. ‘We are nearly there.’

I had a strong feeling that I had come home… yet I had never been here before.

We walked from the train to the big white building that was the hotel. There were no roads, no houses. We went out on the verandah, and there, half a mile away, were the Victoria Falls. I’ve never seen anything so grand and beautiful. I was happy, excited - restless. I had the strange feeling that I was waiting for something that would happen soon.

After tea we were taken by smiling natives to the bridge over the Zambezi. It was a wonderful sight - the chasm was a huge cut down into the earth, and the river below. The spray from the water falling into the chasm was so thick that it became a white cloud - and now and then, through this cloud we could see the great waterfall. We went over the bridge and walked along the path, marked out with white stones, which led around the edge of the gorge. Finally the path led down towards the chasm.

‘Shall we go down?’ Colonel Race asked. ‘Or leave it until tomorrow? It will take some time, and it’s a long climb up again.’

‘We will leave it until tomorrow,’ Sir Eustace said firmly, and led the way back.

That night, when I went to my room, I was too excited to sleep. I lay back in a chair and allowed myself to daydream. All the time I knew something was coming, something that would change my life was coming nearer and nearer… There was a knock at the door. It was a boy with a note for me.

I must see you. I dare not come to the hotel. Will you come to meet me at the top of the path into the chasm? In memory of Cabin 17 please come. The man you knew as Harry Rayburn.

My heart beat faster and faster. He was here! Oh, I had known it! I had felt him near me. I had to be careful. He was being hunted. I quickly left the hotel, and took the path to the bridge. I crossed it, but as I went on, I heard a noise behind me. I knew immediately that I was threatened. It was the same feeling as on the Kilmorden that night - a warning of danger.

I looked over my shoulder. A man came out of the shadow. I ran, hearing him behind me, coming closer. I ran faster, watching the white stones that showed me where to step. Suddenly my foot felt emptiness. I heard the man behind me laugh, and that was the last thing I heard as I fell head first.

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