فصل 04

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter four

Lucy Eyelesbarrow was thirty-two. She had taken a First in Mathematics at Oxford, and was expected to have a successful academic life. But Lucy Eyelesbarrow, as well as being very clever, was also very sensible. She knew that scholars were not well-paid, and she liked money. And to make money she knew that one must do work that is highly-valued because there are always too few people to do it. So, to the great surprise of her friends and fellow scholars, Lucy Eyelesbarrow decided to become a highly-skilled professional at housework.

Her success was immediate. Now, after about ten years, she was known all over Britain. It was quite usual for wives to say joyfully to husbands, ‘It will be all right. I can go with you to America. I’ve got Lucy Eyelesbarrow!’ Because once she came into a house, all the worry and hard work went out of it. Lucy Eyelesbarrow did everything. She looked after old people and young children, got on well with servants, and was wonderful with dogs. She also cooked perfectly. Best of all she never minded what she did. She washed the kitchen floor, dug the garden, and carried coal!

One of her rules was never to accept any job for a long time: two weeks or four at the most.

Lucy read the letter from Miss Marple. She had met her two years ago when Raymond West, the novelist, had paid for her to look after his old aunt who had been ill. Lucy had liked Miss Marple very much and now the old lady was asking if she could do a certain job for her - rather an unusual one. Perhaps Miss Eyelesbarrow could meet her so they could discuss it.

So the next day they met alone in a small, dark writing room of Lucy Eyelesbarrow’s club in London. She said, ‘I’m rather busy at the moment, but perhaps you can tell me what it is you want me to do?’

‘It’s very simple, really,’ said Miss Marple. ‘Unusual, but simple. I want you to find a body.’

‘What kind of a body?’ asked Lucy Eyelesbarrow with admirable calm.

‘The body of a woman,’ said Miss Marple, ‘who was strangled in a train.’

‘Well, that’s certainly unusual. Tell me about it.’

Miss Marple told her. Lucy Eyelesbarrow listened without interrupting. At the end she said, ‘Well, what do you want me to do?’

‘I’ve got a theory,’ said Miss Marple. ‘The body’s got to be somewhere. If it wasn’t found in the train, then it must have been pushed out of the train - but it hasn’t been found anywhere on the line. So I travelled down the same way to see if there was a place where the body could have been thrown off the train and yet not on to the line - and there was. The railway line makes a big curve before getting into Brackhampton, on the edge of a high embankment. If a body was thrown out there, when the train was leaning to one side, I think it would fall right down the embankment.’

‘But surely it would still be found - even there?’

‘Oh, yes. It would have to be taken away… Here’s the place - on this map.’

Lucy studied the place where Miss Marple’s finger pointed.

‘It is right on the edge of Brackhampton now,’ said Miss Marple, ‘but originally it was a country house with large grounds and it’s still there, untouched - surrounded by housing estates. It’s called Rutherford Hall. It was built by a man called Crackenthorpe, a very rich manufacturer, in 1884. The original Crackenthorpe’s son, an elderly man, is living there still with, I hear, a daughter. The railway encircles half of the property.’

‘And you want me to do - what?’

‘I want you to get a job there. But it might, you know, be dangerous.’

‘I don’t know,’ said Lucy ‘I don’t think danger would worry me.’

‘I didn’t think it would,’ said Miss Marple.

‘What do I look for exactly?’

‘Any signs along the embankment, a piece of clothing, broken bushes - that kind of thing.’

‘And then?’ Lucy asked.

‘I shall be staying nearby,’ said Miss Marple. ‘With an old servant of mine, Florence, who lives in Brackhampton. I think you should mention you have an aunt living in the neighbourhood and that you want a job that is close to her, and also that you need some spare time so that you can go and see her.’

‘I was going on holiday the day after tomorrow,’ Lucy said. ‘That can wait. But I can only stay three weeks. After that, I have another job.’

‘If we can’t find out anything in three weeks, we might as well give up the whole thing,’ said Miss Marple.

After Miss Marple had gone, Lucy rang up an Employment Office in Brackhampton, and explained she needed a job in the neighbourhood to be near her ‘aunt’. After saying no to several more desirable places, Rutherford Hall was mentioned.

‘That sounds exactly what I want,’ said Lucy.

Two days later, driving her own small car, Lucy Eyelesbarrow passed between two large iron gates. A long drive wound between dark bushes up to Rutherford Hall, which was like a small castle. But the stone steps in front of the door were broken and the drive was green with weeds.

She pulled an old bell, and an untidy woman opened the door. ‘Miss Eyelesbarrow?’

‘That’s right,’ said Lucy.

The house was very cold inside. The woman led her along a dark hall and opened a door. To Lucy’s surprise, it was a rather pleasant sitting room, with books and pretty chairs.

‘I’ll tell Miss Crackenthorpe you’re here,’ said the woman, and went away shutting the door.

After a few minutes the door opened again. Emma Crackenthorpe was a middle-aged woman, neither good- looking nor plain, sensibly dressed in warm clothes, with dark hair and light brown eyes.

‘Miss Eyelesbarrow?’ She held out her hand. Then she looked doubtful. She had clearly been expecting someone very different from Lucy. ‘I wonder, if this job is really right for you? I don’t want someone just to organize things, I want someone to do the work.’

Lucy said, ‘You want cooking and washing-up, and housework. That’s what I do.’

‘It’s a big house, you know, and we only live in part of it - my father and myself. I have several brothers, but they are not here very often. Two women come in, a Mrs Kidder in the morning, and Mrs Hart three days a week.’ She paused. ‘My father is old and a little - difficult sometimes. I wouldn’t like-‘

Lucy said quickly, ‘I’m very used to old people, and I always manage to get on well with them.’

Emma Crackenthorpe looked thankful. Lucy was given a large dark bedroom with a small electric heater, and was shown round the house. As they passed a door in the hall a voice shouted, ‘Is that you, Emma? Have you got the new girl there? Bring her in. I want to look at her.’

The two women entered the room. Old Mr Crackenthorpe was stretched out in a chair. He was a big, but thin man with thick grey hair, a large chin and small, lively eyes. ‘Let’s have a look at you, young lady.’

Lucy advanced, confident and smiling.

‘There’s one thing you must understand straight away. Just because we live in a big house doesn’t mean we’re rich. We’re not rich. We live simply - do you hear? - simply! I live here because my father built the house and I like it.’

‘Your home is your castle,’ said Lucy.

‘You’re laughing at me?’

‘Of course not. I think it’s very exciting to have a real country place all surrounded by a town.’

‘Exactly. Fields with cows in them - right in the middle of Brackhampton.’

Lucy and Emma left the room and Lucy asked the times of meals and inspected the kitchen. Then she said cheerfully, ‘Just leave everything to me.’

Lucy got up at six the next morning. She cleaned the house, prepared vegetables, cooked and served breakfast. With Mrs Kidder she made the beds and at eleven o’clock they sat down for some tea in the kitchen Mrs Kidder was a small, thin woman. ‘Miss Emma has to put up with a lot from her father,’ she said. ‘He’s so mean. But she’s not weak. And when the gentlemen come down she makes sure there’s something good to eat.’

‘The gentlemen?’

‘Yes. It was a big family. The eldest, Mr Edmund, he was killed in the war. Then there’s Mr Cedric, he lives abroad somewhere. He paints pictures. Mr Harold works in the City, in London - he married a lord’s daughter. Then there’s Mr Alfred, he seems very nice, but he’s been in trouble once or twice - and there’s Miss Edith’s husband, Mr Bryan, ever so nice, he is - she died some years ago, and there’s Master Alexander, their little boy. He’s at school, but comes here for the holidays.’

Lucy listened carefully to all this information. When Mrs Kidder had gone, she cooked lunch and when she had cleared it away and washed up, she was ready to start exploring.

First, she walked round the gardens. A flower border near the house was the only place that was free of weeds. The gardener was a very old man, who was only pretending to work in the kitchen garden. Lucy spoke to him pleasantly. He lived in a cottage nearby and behind his cottage was a drive that led through the park, and under a railway arch into a rough path.

Every few minutes a train ran over the arch. Lucy watched the trains as they slowed down to go round the sharp curve surrounding the Crackenthorpe property. She passed under the railway arch and out into the road. On one side was the railway embankment, on the other was a high wall and some factory buildings. Lucy walked along the path until it came out into a street of small houses. A woman was walking past and Lucy stopped her.

‘Excuse me, can you tell me if there is a public telephone near here?’

‘There’s one at the Post Office at the corner of the road.’ Lucy thanked her and walked along until she came to the Post Office. There was a telephone box at one side. She went into it, dialled and asked to speak to Miss Marple.

A woman’s voice said, ‘She’s resting. And I’m not going to wake her! Who shall I say called?’

‘Miss Eyelesbarrow. Just tell her that I’ve arrived and that I’ll let her know when I have any news.’

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