فصل 03

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فصل 03

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CHAPTER THREE

The Lorry is Stopped

The policeman held his hand up. Peter slowed the lorry down and stopped. The policeman walked up to the side window. ‘What is it?’ asked Peter. ‘What’s the matter?’

‘We’re looking for a boy who we think may have killed his uncle,’ replied the policeman.

‘Oh, yes,’ said Peter, ‘I heard the news about it on the radio this morning.’

‘Well,’ continued the policeman, ‘we think the boy has left Bristol and he may be hitch-hiking north.’

‘Is he dangerous?’ asked Peter.

‘Very dangerous. He killed his uncle with a chair leg,’ the policeman added.

‘What does he look like?’ asked Peter.

The policeman took out his notebook and read, ‘John Stevens, aged 16. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Average height. Last seen wearing a red jersey and blue jeans.’ The policeman looked up from his book. ‘Have you seen him?’ he asked Peter.

‘Yes,’ said Peter, ‘I’ve seen hundreds of young men dressed like that this morning. It could have been any of them.’

‘OK,’ said the policeman, ‘thanks for your help. If you do see him let us know, won’t you?’

‘Of course,’ replied Peter and started the engine.

‘Cheerio,’ shouted the policeman.

‘Just a minute,’ said another voice. The policeman turned around. Another policeman was getting out of the police car. He was big and red-faced and had a nasty voice.

‘What is it now?’ asked Peter. ‘I’ve got to be in Manchester before five o’clock.’

‘All right. This won’t take long,’ said the second policeman. ‘We’re going to search your lorry.’

‘Why?’ asked Peter angrily.

‘The boy may be hiding there.’ Both policemen walked around to the back of the lorry.

What shall I do now, thought Peter. I could drive off before they look in the back. But if I do drive away they’ll drive after me and their car is much faster than my lorry. What shall I do? Sit here and wait. If they find John, I can say that I didn’t know he was in my lorry.

‘Hey, you!’ shouted one of the policemen.

They’ve found him, thought Peter.

‘Hey, you, come and help us open the back of your lorry.’

‘Right,’ shouted Peter and got out. If I’m there when they find John, he thought, perhaps I can give him a chance to escape by getting in the policemen’s way. Peter walked around to the back of the lorry and opened it for the policemen. They looked in. All they could see was a lot of boxes and, in one corner, some old coats on the floor.

‘Right,’ said the second policeman, ‘I’m sorry to have made you wait so long. You can go now.’

Peter thanked him, got into the lorry and drove off. He drove for ten minutes until he was sure that the police car was not following him. Then he stopped, jumped out and ran around to the back of the lorry. He opened it and looked in. He couldn’t see John anywhere. Peter climbed into the back. He couldn’t understand where John was. The old coat was there but John wasn’t lying on it. Then Peter saw something that the police hadn’t noticed. He could see part of a shoe sticking out from under the coat. Peter smiled when he thought how stupid the police were not to have looked under the coat. He went up to the coat and said loudly: ‘This is the police. Come out at once. We know you are under the coat.’

‘All right,’ said a voice from under the coat, and John slowly got up.

‘Oh, it’s you,’ said John. ‘I thought you were the police.’

‘No,’ replied Peter. ‘I was just playing a joke on you.’

‘You did frighten me,’ said John. ‘I had a strange dream when I was asleep.’

‘What!’ exclaimed Peter. ‘Have you been asleep all the time?’

‘Yes, I dreamt the police were searching the lorry.’

‘That wasn’t a dream,’ replied Peter. ‘It was real.’

‘You mean that the police stopped the lorry when I was asleep?’ asked John.

Peter nodded his head. ‘Yes,’ he said.

‘And you didn’t tell them where I was?’ asked John.

‘No,’ said Peter.

‘But why did you help me?’ asked John. ‘You could have got into trouble yourself.’

‘Because I don’t think you did what the police said,’ answered Peter.

‘What has my uncle told them?’ asked John.

‘Your uncle hasn’t told them anything.’

‘Well, in that case…’ said John.

‘Because he’s dead,’ said Peter quietly.

‘Oh, no,’ cried John. ‘I didn’t hit him very hard.’

‘If you hit someone with a chair leg,’ continued Peter, ‘you don’t have to hit them very hard to kill them.’

‘A chair leg?’ replied John in surprise. ‘I didn’t hit him with a chair leg. I hit him with my hands.’

Peter took the newspaper out of his pocket and showed John the article about the murder.

‘Are you sure?’ asked Peter.

‘Yes,’ said John firmly.

‘Then I was right not to tell the police about you,’ said Peter. ‘We’d better start again now or else we’ll never get to Manchester, or find out who killed your uncle.’

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