فصل 04

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کتاب های ساده

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فصل 04

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PART FOUR

Sybil

When Lord Arthur woke up it was twelve o’clock. The midday sun shone through the silk curtains of his room. He got up and looked out of the window. In the square below, children were playing and the street was full of people on their way to the park. Life was wonderful; worries were far away.

His servant brought him a cup of chocolate. He drank it and then went into the bathroom. His bath was ready. He got into the marble bath and put his head under the water. He wanted to remove the memory of the previous night. After the bath he felt better. He got dressed.

After breakfast he sat down on the sofa. On the mantelpiece was a photograph of Sybil Merton at Lady Noel’s ball, where he had met her the first time. She was perfect. Her head was small but wonderfully shaped; her neck was delicate and thin. Her eyes expressed tender purity. She had grace. Lord Arthur looked at her and he felt pity for the woman he loved.

How could he now marry her? How could they be happy? Perhaps at any moment the terrible prophecy written in his hand would come true. The marriage must be postponed. He had no doubt. Although he loved her, he knew he could not marry her. First, he had to commit the murder. After this, he could marry Sybil, free from shame forever. It must be done, and the sooner the better.

Lord Arthur had a strong sense of duty. He believed that principles came before pleasure. There was more than just passion in his love for Sybil; for him she was a symbol of everything that was good and noble. For a moment he was disgusted by the idea of what he had to do. But the feeling soon passed. His heart told him that what he had to do was not a sin but a sacrifice. He was convinced that he had no choice. Lord Arthur was not a dreamer. He was a practical person who preferred a life of action to a life of thought. He had a rare quality, common sense.

He now felt embarrassed by last night’s walk through the streets of London. He asked himself how he had possibly suffered so much about something that was so inevitable. However, one question disturbed him: who must he kill? He realised that murder needs a victim as well as a murderer. He was not a genius and so he had no enemies. He considered some people that he did not like, but he told himself that this was not the right occasion for simple revenge. No, his mission was important and solemn. He made a list of names of friends and relatives. After careful consideration he chose one name: Lady Clementina Beauchamp, a distant relative who lived in Curzon Street. Lord Arthur liked the old lady very much. He was rich and no one could suspect him of killing her for money. Yes, she was perfect. He must start immediately.

How could he kill her? He decided that poison was the best solution. He did not like physical violence. Yes, poison was the answer. It was safe, sure, and quiet. He went to his club. He knew nothing about the science of poison. He looked for some books on the subject in the club library. Finally, he found a book he could understand. There was a description of just the poison he wanted, aconitine. It was quick and painless. He went to a chemist’s and explained that the poison was for one of his dogs. ‘It has rabies, very dangerous,’ he explained. The chemist understood completely.

He bought a pretty little silver box and put the poison pill inside it.

Lord Arthur arrived at his aunt’s house. ‘I’ve brought you a cure for your indigestion, Aunt,’ he said.

‘How kind you are! I’ll take it immediately,’ his aunt replied.

‘No, Lady Clem!’ cried Lord Arthur, holding her hand. ‘You must take it when you have indigestion next. When will that be?’

‘Before the end of the month, unfortunately,’ his aunt told him.

Lord Arthur said goodbye to his aunt and left her house feeling happy.

That evening he told Sybil that he could not marry her. She must be patient and trust him.

‘Everything will be all right,’ he told her.

Early the next morning he left for Venice.

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