فصل 24

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR

I woke up slowly and painfully. My head and my left arm hurt. When I tried to move I felt myself falling again - and the nightmares began. Once, Harry Rayburn’s face seemed to come to me out of the mist. Once, someone put a cup to my lips and I drank. A black face smiled into mine. Then the dreams began again - long, troubled dreams. Then came darkness - and sleep.

I woke at last with my mind peaceful. I remembered the last terrible moment of falling. But I had not been killed. I was weak, but I was alive. I was in a small room with rough wooden walls. On them were the skins of animals and elephant tusks. I was lying on a bed, also covered with animal skins, and my left arm was bandaged. It felt stiff and uncomfortable. Then I saw a man between me and the window, and my heart beat faster. It was Harry Rayburn. ‘Feeling better?’

I could not answer. There were tears on my face. I held his hand in both of mine.

‘Don’t cry, Anne. Please don’t cry. You are safe now. No one will hurt you.’

He comforted me until I slept again.

When I woke, the sun was high and I was alone. As I tried to sit up, an old native woman came in. She smiled at me, brought me water, and helped me wash. Then she brought me soup, which I ate quickly. Suddenly she stood up. Harry came in and she left us alone. He smiled at me. ‘Better today?’

‘Yes, much better, but confused. Where am I?’

‘You are on a small island on the Zambezi River, about four miles away from the Falls.’

‘Oh!’ I cried. ‘I must send a message to Suzanne. She will be very worried.’

‘Who is Suzanne?’

‘Mrs Blair. I was with her and Sir Eustace and Colonel Race at the hotel - but you knew that?’

He shook his head. ‘No. I only know that I found you, caught in a tree, unconscious and with a badly twisted arm.

‘Where was the tree?’

‘Below the edge of the chasm. If your clothes had not caught on the branches of the tree, you would be dead.’

His words brought back a memory of fear.

‘But what about the note you sent, asking me to meet you?’

He stared at me. ‘I sent no note.’

I blushed, feeling my whole face turn red. ‘So why were you in the place where I needed you to be? And what are you doing in this part of the world, anyway?’

‘I live here,’ he said simply.

‘On this island?’

‘Yes, I came here after the War. Sometimes I take tourists from the hotel out in my boat, but it costs me very little to live, and I usually do whatever I want.’

‘But why were you walking about so conveniently for me?’ I asked.

‘I could not sleep. I had the feeling something was going to happen. In the end I walked down towards the Falls. Then I heard you scream.’

Why didn’t you get help from the hotel instead of carrying me here?’ I asked.

And now he blushed. ‘You think I should have told your friends, who allowed a murderer to lead you to your death? No,nI promised myself I’d take care of you. Nobody comes to this island. I got old Batani to look after you. I helped her once when she was ill and she’s loyal. She will never say a word. I could keep you here for months and nobody would ever know.’

I could keep you here for months and nobody would ever know! Oh, such pleasing words!

‘You did the right thing,’ I said quietly. ‘And I will not try to contact anyone. That note did not come from a stranger.’

‘If you would like my advice…’ he began.

‘I don’t expect I will,’ I answered honestly. ‘But there is no harm in hearing.’

Harry laughed. His whole face changed when he laughed. It became boyish, happy - a different personality. ‘What I was going to say was this. I think you should stay here until you are strong again. Your enemies will believe you are dead. They will think your body was carried away by the river.’

I shivered.

‘Once you are completely well again, you can travel back to England.’

‘Then I would be a failure,’ I objected angrily.

‘There speaks a foolish schoolgirl.’

‘I’m not a foolish schoolgirl,’ I cried. ‘I am a woman.’

He looked at me with an expression I could not understand, as I sat up blushing red and excited. ‘So you are,’ he said and went quickly out.

It was a strange time. Harry was out a lot, but we spent many hours together, lying in the shade of the trees, talking about everything in the world - disagreeing about some things and agreeing about others in a most wonderful way. A real and lasting friendship developed between us. That - and something more. The time was coming when I should leave - but I did not want to go. Was he going to let me go? Without a word?

There were times of silence and moments when he would walk off by himself. One evening the moment of decision came. We had finished our meal and were sitting in the doorway of the little house. The sun was going down. My hair, straight and black, hung to my knees - Harry had not been able to give me any hairpins. I felt, rather than saw him looking at me. ‘You look like a witch, Anne,’ he said, and there was something in his voice that had never been there before. He reached out and touched my hair. I shivered. Suddenly he jumped up and spoke angrily. ‘You must go, do you hear?’ he cried. ‘I cannot control myself any more. I’m only a man, after all. You must go, Anne. You must. You’re not a fool. You know yourself that this cannot go on.’

‘I suppose not,’ I said slowly. ‘But - it has been a happy time.’

‘Happy? It’s been torture!’

‘As bad as that!’

‘What do you hurt me for? Why are you laughing at me? Why do you say that?’

‘I am not laughing. If you want me to go, I will go. But if you want me to stay - I will stay.’

‘Not that!’ he cried. ‘Don’t, Anne. Do you realize what I am? A criminal. A man hunted down. Any day they will come for me. You’re so young, Anne, and so beautiful. All the world is in front of you - love, life, everything. Mine’s behind me - burnt.’

‘If you don’t want me…’

‘You know I want you. You know that I would give anything to pick you up in my arms and keep you here, hidden away from the world, forever. Anne, with your long witch’s hair, and your eyes that are golden and brown and green and never stop laughing even when your mouth is serious. But I will protect you from yourself and from me. You must go tonight. You must go back to England, Anne - and - and marry and be happy.’

‘With a safe man who’ll give me a good home!’

‘Better that than staying here with me and destroying your future.’

‘And what about you?’

His face became hard. ‘I have my work. I will clear my name or die in the attempt, and I will kill the man who tried to murder you.’

‘We must be fair,’ I said. ‘He did not in fact push me over.’

‘His plan was cleverer than that. He had moved the stones which mark the path. There are bushes growing over the edge. He’d balanced the outside stones on them, so you would think you were on the path when you were stepping over the edge. If I find him, I will make him suffer!’

He paused for a long time, then said in a different tone, ‘I want you to hear the whole story, Anne.’

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