فصل 02

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فصل 02

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Chapter two

Mrs Blakemore

I followed Miss Vixon down the corridor. We went to another part of the house. She knocked on a heavy white door and we walked into Mrs Blakemore’s bedroom. The curtains were half closed and the room was quite dark. A woman about fifty-five years old was sitting up in bed.

‘Is that the new nurse?’ she asked in a sharp voice.

I was surprised because she really did look very white and sick. Some bottles of medicine and bottles of pills were on the table beside the bed. The bed itself was covered with books, letters and half-eaten chocolates.

‘Yes. This is Nurse Harrison,’ said the housekeeper.

‘Good,’ said Mrs Blakemore. ‘Now you - get out and leave us alone.’

I was astonished. But Miss Vixon said nothing. She just smiled politely and left the room.

Mrs Blakemore stared at me.

‘You look intelligent, Nurse,’ she said. ‘These others… they’re all useless. I’m not getting better, you know. I’m getting worse.’ A look of fear came into her eyes. ‘Do you know… sometimes I think that someone is poisoning me.’

‘Nonsense!’ I said. ‘You just need some nice fresh air!’

I pulled back the curtains and opened the window. Sunlight poured into the room. I took her temperature. It was perfectly normal.

‘Now, Mrs Blakemore,’ I said. ‘A nice walk in the garden will make you feel a lot better.’

‘Oh, don’t be silly,’ she said. ‘I’m much too weak.’

At that moment, Miss Vixon opened the door and said, ‘Doctor Spencer is here.’

A short, fat man with glasses came in.

‘And how’s my patient today?’ he asked.

‘I’ve got a very nasty taste in my mouth, Doctor,’ she complained. ‘My legs hurt and I feel sick.’

‘Ah!’ he said. ‘But you’ve got a nice new nurse! What a lucky woman you are!’

‘Listen, Doctor,’ said Mrs Blakemore. ‘I’m not getting better. I was sick last night.’

‘Oh, dear,’ said Doctor Spencer. ‘You’ve been eating too many chocolates!’ He smiled at her and then at me.

‘I’m really sick, you fool!’ said Mrs Blakemore angrily.

‘My dear lady,’ said Doctor Spencer, gently. ‘Please don’t worry. You worry too much.’

He looked at me. ‘I’ll just give her a little injection. It will calm her down.’

I nodded.

‘She has some strange ideas,’ he said. ‘She’s a writer, you see.’

The injection worked. Soon she was lying there quietly. Then Doctor Spencer noticed the chocolates.

‘Look! What did I say? More chocolates… Dear… dear…’

‘Yes, my nephew always brings me chocolates,’ said Mrs Blakemore.

‘Your nephew?’

‘My nephew… our vicar… The Reverend John Palmer,’ she explained in a tired voice.

‘Oh. So he’s your nephew, is he? That’s interesting,’ said the doctor. ‘I didn’t know that.’

‘I’ve told you hundreds of times,’ said Mrs Blakemore. Tour memory isn’t very good, is it? Or perhaps you just want to annoy me.’

He laughed a little nervously and he left the room.

‘Useless man!’ she said. Then she smiled at me strangely. ‘I’ve got a little joke for Doctor Spencer.’

‘Have you?’ I said.

‘Yes. I’ve told him that I’m going to leave him a lot of money in my will. When I die. But it’s not true. No, I’m not going to leave him anything.’ Mrs Blakemore laughed weakly. ‘He’s a useless doctor.’

‘Why don’t you get a new one?’ I asked.

‘This isn’t London, you know,’ she said. ‘This is the country. There’s only one other doctor near here and he lives ten miles away. He’s useless, too. The world is full of useless people.’ She closed her eyes. ‘Anyway, I’m leaving all my money to my nephew.’

‘But what about your husband?’

‘Edward?’ Her face looked almost kind for a moment.

‘Edward doesn’t want my money. He has plenty of his own. Even this house is his. Anyway, he doesn’t really care about money. He only thinks about music.’

She put another chocolate in her mouth and ate it.

Outside, in the corridor, I met Charlotte. She was carrying Mrs Blakemore’s lunch. She took it into the bedroom and then she showed me the way to the kitchen. Here we all ate in silence until Bernard, the cook, suddenly put down his knife and fork.

‘What do you think of her, then?’ he asked me.

‘Mrs Blakemore? Oh, she seems all right,’ I replied.

‘All right?’ he said. ‘She’s rude, selfish and mean. Do you know, she’s got lots of money… loads of it. But she always makes us use the last little bit of everything. The last bit of milk, the last bit of bread.’

‘Well, perhaps she doesn’t like to waste anything,’ I said.

There was silence again.

‘Mrs Blakemore thinks that someone is poisoning her,’ I said.

Bernard laughed. ‘Really?’ he said. ‘I’m sure that we would all like to poison her, if we could. I would do it if I could think of a good way.’

Miss Vixon’s face went white. ‘Bernard!’

‘Well, it’s true, isn’t it?’ he said. ‘You don’t like her either, do you?’

Miss Vixon didn’t answer. Bernard went to get the ice-cream from the fridge. He walked with some difficulty. I saw that he had something wrong with his left leg.

Suddenly Charlotte said to me, ‘That’s a nice ring you have. It’s a diamond, isn’t it?’

‘Yes,’ I said. (At last the conversation had changed!) ‘I’m getting married next year. My boyfriend’s name’s David and he’s a sailor. He’s going to be away at sea for the next six months.’

‘Oh, I’d like to get married too,’ Charlotte said. ‘I want to marry a rich man. Then I can have a big house like this and a maid.’ She laughed. ‘Who knows… perhaps if Mrs Blakemore dies, Mr Blakemore will marry me! He’s a bit old… but he’s famous and he is rich!’

‘If that’s a joke, Charlotte, it’s not very funny,’ said Miss Vixon.

Bernard laughed again.

‘Yes, Charlotte. Keep your mouth shut. Mr Blakemore would never want to marry a silly little girl like you.’

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