فصل 07

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

The ghost appears

A few days later, both Marilyn and Rick caught flu. They felt terrible all weekend. On Monday neither of them felt well enough to go to work. They telephoned their offices, and decided to spend the day at home. It was a boring day. They both had headaches, and they spent the day in the living room. Rick watched videos, Marilyn read a book from the library, Ghosts of Sandbourne and East Wessex. At half past two Marilyn suddenly looked up.

‘What’s that?’ she said.

They heard voices outside the front door. Then they heard the sound of a key in the lock. Rick jumped up. ‘What…?’

They heard footsteps in the hall.

‘It’s a very nice hall.’ It was a man’s voice. Rick and Marilyn looked at each other. Then the living room door began to open. Marilyn took Rick’s hand. Two men and a woman walked into the room. They stopped in surprise.

‘What are you doing here?’ said Rick angrily.

‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry,’ said one of the men. ‘I thought you were out.’

He turned to the man and woman behind him. ‘Oh, this is Mr and Mrs Patterson. They’re very interested in your house.’

‘And who are you?’ said Marilyn.

‘Oh, I’m sorry. Of course we haven’t met. I’m Michael Webb. From Burchill and Bradley. I’m very pleased to meet you, Mrs Barclay.’

‘I’m not Mrs Barclay!’ said Marilyn. The Barclays moved months ago. Last September.’

Rick was laughing. ‘Ah! I understand! You’re the tidy ghost.’

Mr Webb looked worried. ‘The tidy ghost? I don’t understand…’

‘Yes, the tidy ghost,’ said Rick. He turned to Marilyn. The letters, the nightclothes, the newspaper…’

Marilyn was laughing too. ‘…the lipstick on the cigarette, the coffee cups, the bathroom light,’ she said.

‘I’m sorry,’ said Mr Webb, ‘I really don’t understand.’

‘We bought the house from the Barclays. We bought it through Norman and Naylor… and you’re from Burchill and Bradley, the other estate agents!’ said Marilyn.

‘Oh, I see!’ said Mr Webb. The Barclays never told us that the house had been sold. I’ve been showing the house to people for six months. I am sorry. The Barclays gave us a set of keys, and told us to show people the house when they were at work.’

Marilyn smiled. ‘And you’ve been tidying the house for us, haven’t you?’ she said.

Mr Webb looked uncomfortable and embarrassed. His face was going redder and redder.

‘Er, yes,’ he said. ‘You see, I usually arrive before the people that want to see the house. So… I’ve been coming in and… er, tidying things.’

‘And the cigarette with lipstick?’ said Marilyn.

‘Yes, I’m sorry about that. I brought a lady to see the house, Mrs Green. She wanted a cigarette while we were talking about the house. I forgot to throw it away. I remembered later in the evening. Didn’t you know that it was someone looking at the house?’

‘Well, no… we didn’t,’ said Marilyn.

‘Oh, dear,’ said Mr Webb. ‘I hope there wasn’t any trouble about it.’

‘I thought…’ Marilyn looked at Rick. ‘I thought my husband…’ Then she felt sorry for Mr Webb, who was very embarrassed. ‘I thought my husband had started smoking again,’ she said.

Mr Webb remembered that Marilyn had said ‘the cigarette with lipstick’. He went redder again.

‘I’m very, very sorry,’ he said.

Marilyn smiled. She looked at Mr and Mrs Patterson, who were looking embarrassed too.

‘It’s a pity,’ said Mrs Patterson. ‘It’s a lovely house, and it’s a lovely area.’

‘Yes, well, it’s my fault. I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time,’ said Mr Webb.

‘It isn’t your fault,’ Marilyn said. The Barclays didn’t tell you they had moved. Look, can I get you all a cup of tea?’

‘Yes, please take a seat,’ said Rick. ‘I know that Mr and Mrs Collins at number twenty-nine are trying to sell their house. It’s just the same as this one. Perhaps we’re going to be neighbours!’

Mr and Mrs Patterson sat down. Mr Patterson picked up Marilyn’s book which was lying on the coffee table.

‘Hmm,’ he said, ‘Ghosts of Sandbourne and East Wessex. I hope there aren’t any ghosts round here.’

‘Oh, no,’ said Marilyn, ‘there aren’t any ghosts round here. They’re all new houses.’

She went into the kitchen to make the tea. They had had a cup of tea and a sandwich an hour earlier, and she hadn’t washed up. There, on the kitchen table was the teapot, and a neat pile of plates and cups. She opened the teapot. It was clean!

‘But…’ she said. Then she heard a laugh behind her. It was Rick. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘it was me. I came out and washed up half an hour ago. Don’t you remember?’

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