فصل 11

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فصل 11

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  • زمان مطالعه 12 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER ELEVEN

A New Beginning

It was the middle of the night when Nate finally woke up. He rubbed his sore eyes. His forehead was very hot. He was thirsty and couldn’t remember his last meal. In the darkness of the room, somebody moved from bed to bed, finally stopping beside Nate’s. She touched him gently on the arm.

“Nate,” she whispered. “It’s Rachel.”

“Rachel?” he whispered.

“I’m here, Nate. God sent me to protect you.”

He reached for her and she took his hand. “You are not going to die, Nate,” she said. “God has plans for you.”

He could say nothing. Slowly his eyes adjusted and he could see her. “It’s you,” he said. Or was it another dream?

He rested his head on the pillow. His muscles relaxed and his joints became loose. The heat left his forehead and face and he fell into a deep sleep. He dreamed of girls in white dresses floating in the clouds above him. They sang songs he’d never heard before, but they somehow seemed familiar.

He left the hospital at noon the next day, against his doctor’s advice. No one had seen Rachel at the hospital. Nate had whispered his secret to Jevy, who had asked the nurses. After lunch, Jevy began walking through town on foot, searching for her. No one seemed to know anything about a white woman arriving from the Pantanal. In Valdir’s office, Nate phoned Josh Stafford.

“The fever is gone,” he said. “I’ll come home in a couple of days.”

“OK. Tell me about the woman.”

“She’s not interested in the money. You can’t talk this woman into anything. I tried, got nowhere, so I stopped.”

“Nobody walks away from this kind of money, Nate. Couldn’t you talk some sense into her?”

“No, Josh. She is the happiest person I’ve ever met, perfectly content to spend the rest of her life working among her people. It’s where God wants her to be.”

“She signed the papers?”

“No. Sorry, boss. I tried to make her sign them. She’ll never sign them.”

Jevy found no trace of Rachel and he began to doubt his friend’s story. Dengue makes you see things, makes you hear voices, makes you believe in ghosts. But he kept searching.

Nate also walked the streets. He saw the lights of a small church. That, he thought, is where she will be.

He stopped in the door and counted five people among the chairs. There was no one like Rachel. Three more people came in from the street. A young man with a guitar began to play and sing.

I need Rachel, Nate thought. The burdens I left with her have found me again. I need her to sit with me, to hold my hand and help me pray. Nate closed his eyes and called God’s name. God was waiting.

With both hands, Nate gripped the back of the chair in front of him. He repeated every weakness and evil that attacked him. He confessed them all. He held nothing back. When he finally finished, Nate had tears in his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to God. “Please help me.”

He opened his eyes and wiped his cheeks. A voice was calling him, a voice from within. But Nate was confused. Surely God couldn’t be calling him. He was Nate O’Riley-drunk, addict, lover of women, absent father, terrible husband, greedy lawyer.

Hurriedly, he left the church.

Nate searched until the end of the week. He walked the streets, watched the crowds, checked out hotels and sidewalk cafes, and saw no one who looked like Rachel.

On his last day, he stopped at Valdir’s office and collected his passport. They parted like old friends, and promised to see each other soon. They both knew it would never happen. Jevy drove him to the airport. He wanted to spend time in the United States, and asked for Nate’s help.

“I’ll need a job,” he said.

Nate listened with sympathy, not certain if he himself was still employed.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said.

The lady in the seat next to him on the plane ordered a beer. Nate studied the can. Not anymore, he told himself. He closed his eyes and asked God to give him strength. He ordered coffee.

Hours later, the plane dropped through the clouds. In Washington, the earth was covered with heavy snow. Josh was waiting for him.

“I thought you could stay at our place for a couple of days,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“How do you feel?”

“I’m fine. A little weak, that’s all.”

They rode in silence for a while. Traffic was slow. Then Nate announced, “I’m not going back to the office, Josh. Those days are over.”

“Why?”

“Let’s just say I’m tired.”

Back at the house, he told Josh about his adventures in the Pantanal. He talked about Rachel and described her in great detail. He used her exact words when he talked about the money and the papers.

“If she won’t take the gift from Troy’s will, the money remains in his estate,” Josh said. “If, however, the heirs can prove Troy was crazy, then there is no will. All seven of his children will share equally in his estate. If Rachel doesn’t want a share, then her money will be divided by the other six. They’ll get a billion dollars each.”

“Why are we fighting for the will if Rachel says she doesn’t want the money?” Nate asked.

“First and most importantly, my client gave away his estate as he wanted. I want to protect his will. Second, I know how Mr. Phelan felt about his children. He really didn’t want them to get their hands on his money. I share his feelings - I hate to think what they’d do if they got a billion each. Third, Rachel could change her mind. We’re going to fight, Nate. But Rachel needs a lawyer.” He looked at Nate.

“You want me to be her lawyer?”

“There’s no way around it, Nate. You have to take one last case before you leave. Just sit at the table and protect Rachel’s interests. We’ll go to Judge Wycliff and tell him you found Rachel, that she doesn’t want to come to court. She’s not sure what to do, but she wants you to act for her.”

“We’ll be lying to the judge.”

“It’s a small lie, Nate.”

“I don’t want to stay in town, Josh. Where would I go?”

“Take my house on Chesapeake Bay,” Josh said. “We don’t use it in winter. It’s at St. Michaels, two hours away. You can drive in when you’re needed.”

Nate had to admit that it was a good plan. The lawsuit would never go to court. And he could earn some money for a few months.

“I propose a fee of ten thousand dollars a month,” Josh said.

“Have you heard anything from the government about my tax?”

“The government will settle. You’ll have to pay them a lot of money and they’ll take away your law license for five years. But they won’t do anything for a few months.”

“Thanks, Josh.” Nate was tired again. He wanted a warm, soft bed in a dark room.

St. Michaels had a population of 13,000. There were stores on both sides of the main street, old buildings side by side. The house was on Green Street, and had a view of the harbor. The front yard was small and under almost a meter of snow. Nate parked his car and fought his way to the porch.

Inside, the house was neat and organized. Josh said a woman came every Wednesday to clean. But there was no coffee, and this was the first emergency of the day. Nate locked the doors and went into town. It was Sunday; all the stores were closed. Nate studied their windows as he walked along. Ahead, the church bells began.

Nate went into the church. It was a handsome building, but there were few people inside. Father Phil Lancaster, a little man with thick glasses and curly red and gray hair, stood at the front.

They struggled through the songs and prayers. Father Phil noticed Nate sitting in the last row and they exchanged smiles.

Sitting in the warm little church, safe from fevers and storms, safe from the dangers of the city, Nate realized that he was at peace. God was pulling him in some direction. He wasn’t sure where, but he was no longer afraid.

As he left the church, Father Phil grabbed Nate by the hand. “Welcome,” he said. “Welcome to Trinity Church.”

“I’m Nate O’Riley, from Washington. I’m staying in the Stafford house for a few days.”

“Nice to have you with us. When did you arrive?”

“This morning.”

“Are you alone?”

“Yes.”

“Then you must join us for lunch. My wife makes soup every time it snows. It’s on the stove now. Please, our house is just behind the church.” Phil was already pulling Nate’s arm. “What brings you here?” he asked.

“It’s a long story.”

“Oh wonderful! Laura and I love stories. Let’s have a long lunch and tell stories.”

“Why not?” thought Nate. There was no food at the house.

At the back of the church, Laura was turning off the lights. Phil introduced her to Nate. She had short gray hair and looked older than her husband. She wasn’t surprised to have a guest for lunch.

As they ate, Nate told them about his trip to Brazil. In his story, the storms grew fiercer, the boat smaller, the Indians less friendly. When he finished, the questions began. Phil wanted to know about the missionary - her faith, her work with the Indians.

It was almost three o’clock when Nate left. Phil would happily have sat at the table until dark, but Nate needed a walk. He felt as though he’d known them for years.

Near the harbor, he found a small store and bought coffee, soup, and cookies. There were bottles of beer by the counter. He smiled at them, happy that those days were behind him.

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