فصل 11

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فصل 11

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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Rainaldi Again

The New Year began and my birthday - on 1st April - was three months away. How I wanted to have control of my own money! I was tired of Nick Kendall being my guardian.

However, I could spend money on the house. I decided to make it beautiful for Rachel. There were many repairs to be done. From January, I had nearly twenty men working for me. The bills for the work were sent to my godfather.

Rachel and I had many plans for the gardens too. Work had started on a sunken water-garden. We had found the design for the water-garden in one of Rachel’s books.

Because there were so many workmen in the house, we could not have visitors. My cousin Rachel and I stayed quietly at home and I was very happy. I loved to watch Rachel move about the house. I loved to hear her voice. When her hands touched me, my heart beat faster.

The first days of spring came and the sun shone. Then something happened which took all my happiness away again.

I had kept one of Ambrose’s old coats to wear myself. One day, as I was walking in the woods, I felt something in a pocket. It was another letter from Ambrose.

I was pleased that I was alone. I walked on until I reached the highest place on the estate. Ambrose had always loved to sit there. I sat down and held the letter in my hands. I did not want to open it. I was afraid that Ambrose had written something bad about Rachel. We were so happy together now that I wanted to forget the past. But at last, I opened the letter. It had been written three months before his death, but he had never posted it.

My cousin Rachel, Ambrose wrote, had been expecting a child, but it had died. The doctors told her that she could never have another child. At first, Rachel was quiet and unhappy. Then she began to spend money carelessly. Ambrose suspected that Rainaldi was in love with her. For these reasons, Ambrose had not signed his new will, in which he left everything to Rachel.

Ambrose also wrote about his terrible headaches. He told me about the fever which at first made him violent. Then it made him very weak. Ambrose was very unhappy and he had written: You are the only person who can help me, Philip. Are Rachel and Rainaldi trying to poison me for my money! I must know!

I hid the terrible letter under a large stone and walked slowly back to the house. I could not forget Ambrose’s words. But I decided that Rachel must never know about the letter.

In three weeks’ time the estate and all the money would be mine. But this was not right. Ambrose had made a new will, but he had not signed it because of his illness. His money belonged to Rachel. She must have it.

That night, I asked Rachel about Ambrose’s will. She showed me a copy of it, which I read carefully. Everything had been left to Rachel. Then if she had died without children, everything was to be mine.

‘Why did Ambrose not sign this will?’ I asked. ‘Tell me, Rachel.’

‘I don’t know,’ she answered quietly. ‘Perhaps when he knew we could not have children, his feelings changed. Perhaps it was only a mistake. But when the headaches started, Ambrose suspected me of terrible things. I can’t speak about that time. Please leave me alone, Philip. I can’t answer any more questions.’

‘I have reasons for my questions,’ I said. ‘You will understand in three weeks’ time.’

By the following morning, I had made up my mind. I rode into the town and, with the help of a lawyer, wrote out a document. In three weeks’ time, all my property would be given to Mrs Rachel Ashley. The jewels would belong to her too. But she would not be able to sell the house or the land.

‘I have one question,’ the lawyer said. ‘Mrs Ashley is quite a young woman. What will happen to the property if she marries again?’

I thought for a moment. The house and the estate must always belong to the Ashleys. ‘If she marries,’ I said, ‘or if she dies, the property becomes mine again. That must be made clear.’

I told the lawyer that the document must be kept secret. He promised to send me a copy on the last day of March.

I felt very happy as I rode home. My dear Rachel would never leave me now. We would live in perfect happiness forever.

When I reached the house, I heard voices in the library. The door opened and Rachel came out, laughing happily.

‘Come and see my visitor, Philip,’ she cried. ‘He has come a long way to see us both.’

The man stood up and held out his hand.

It was Rainaldi. We stood there, looking at each other. Then Rainaldi began talking about his journey. Rachel suggested that he should stay in the house for a few days. I could say nothing.

During dinner, Rachel and Rainaldi talked about people and places I knew nothing about. Often, they spoke in Italian and I could not understand a word.

At last, Rachel stood up and said, ‘You must excuse us, Philip. Rainaldi and I have some business to discuss. He has brought papers I must sign.’

They went upstairs and I walked alone in the gardens. I felt cold and unhappy. I stayed outside until the light went out in Rainaldi’s room. I had just reached my own room when there was a quiet knock on my door.

‘I came to wish you goodnight,’ my cousin Rachel said. ‘Why didn’t you come and drink tisana with us, Philip? You must make Rainaldi welcome. He is a very old friend of mine.’

Rainaldi stayed with us for seven days. As he laughed and talked with Rachel, I began to hate him. When it was time for Rainaldi to leave, he took my cousin Rachel’s hand and kissed it.

‘Write and tell me your plans,’ he said. ‘I shall be in London for some time.’

‘I am making no plans until after the first of April,’ Rachel replied with a laugh.

Rainaldi smiled. ‘I hope Philip enjoys his birthday,’ he said. ‘1st April is All Fools’ Day, isn’t it? But perhaps Philip doesn’t want to remember that.’

When Rainaldi had gone, Rachel smiled at me. ‘You have been very good, Philip,’ she said. ‘Are you glad we are alone again.’

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