فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

Two unhappy women

Later, at about ten o’clock, I left my bedroom and went down the corridor to the bathroom. On my way back, I heard something. Someone was crying. The noise came from Miss Vixon’s room, so I knocked on her door.

‘It’s me. Nurse Harrison,’ I said. ‘Is anything wrong?’ The handle turned and the door opened a little.

‘Can I come in?’ I said.

She looked terribly unhappy and her eyes were red. ‘What’s the matter?’ I asked.

‘I can’t tell you,’ she whispered.

‘Sit down here on the bed,’ I suggested. ‘You’re normally so calm and controlled. What is it?’

She looked at me for a moment. Then she hid her face in her hands.

‘I didn’t want her to die,’ she whispered. ‘She wasn’t always a very nice woman. But murder! That’s terrible!’ I put my arm around her. Yes, Stella Vixon was different from the others. She was the only one with a kind heart. She had never said anything nasty about Mrs Blakemore. Someone in the house might be the murderer. But it wasn’t Stella Vixon, I felt sure.

‘Please,’ she said. ‘You must go now.’

‘But will you be all right?’ I was worried. She seemed so frightened.

‘Yes, go,’ she said. ‘I’m sorry. It’s my problem.’

‘Well, try to get some sleep,’ I said. ‘I’ll see you in the morning.’

‘Yes. Thank you, Nurse. Goodnight.’

I was worried about her. Perhaps Charlotte could help. I went along the corridor to her room and knocked.

‘Charlotte? Can I come in?’

There was no reply. So I knocked again. At last she opened the door.

‘What is it?’ she said sleepily.

‘I need to talk to you.’

‘I’m half asleep,’ she complained. But she let me in. She got back into bed. I sat down beside her.

‘I’ve just seen Miss Vixon. She’s been crying. And she seems very frightened. Do you know why?’

‘No. It’s not my business. She can do what she likes. I don’t care.’

‘You don’t like her, do you? Why?’

She did not reply. Instead she looked bored. She began to play with something on one of her fingers. It was a diamond ring.

‘That’s pretty,’ I said. ‘Where did you get it from?’

‘It’s mine,’ she said quickly. Then she hid the ring with her other hand. ‘Someone gave it to me.’

‘Is it one of Mrs Blakemore’s rings?’

Her face went red. ‘I didn’t take it! He gave it to me!’

‘Who gave it to you?’

She would not answer.

‘Listen, Charlotte,’ I said. I tried to be gentle. ‘Did Mr Blakemore give you that ring?’

She started to cry quietly, angrily. Then suddenly she said, ‘I saw them. He tried to kiss her.’

‘Who?’

‘I went into the study with some wood for the fire. It was in February. I saw them.’

Charlotte’s eyes became darker.

‘Why did he want her?’ she said to herself. She sounded jealous.

‘What? Who did you see?’

‘Mr Blakemore, of course!’

I tried to understand. ‘Charlotte… you went into the study. And you saw Mr Blakemore. And he was trying to kiss his wife? Is that right?’

‘No, silly!’ she cried. ‘Miss Vixon!’

I stared at her in astonishment. She started to cry.

‘Later, he gave me this little ring. He said, “Be a good girl. It can be our little secret, can’t it?”’

I was so shocked that I couldn’t say anything. I remembered the strange look that Mr Blakemore had given Miss Vixon. And the look of embarrassment on her face.

‘I don’t know why he wanted her,’ said Charlotte. ‘He wanted her to marry him. But she told him not to be silly. He was already married.’

She looked at me sadly and dried her blue eyes. Then I remembered something. Mr Blakemore had cried, “I want to be with her. Why can’t I be with her?” Now I understood. He hadn’t been talking about his wife that night. He had been talking about Stella Vixon.

‘You’ve been a bit silly yourself, Charlotte,’ I said. ‘Mr Blakemore is much too old for you. One day you’ll meet the right man, I’m sure. Now go to sleep. You can tell all this to the police tomorrow morning.’

‘The police!’ she whispered. ‘Why?’

‘It may help them.’

‘Will I have to give back the ring?’

‘I don’t know, Charlotte. Anyway, there are more important things than your ring.’

I left her. Outside, I began to shake with fear. Did Mr Blakemore murder his wife? No! It was impossible! He hadn’t been in the house. And yet… perhaps there was something I had forgotten. What was it?

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