فصل 09

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فصل 09

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CHAPTER NINE

We Open Ambrose’s Boxes

Now it was October, but the weather was fine and my cousin Rachel was able to work in the garden. We also had time to visit the tenants on the estate. They all loved my cousin Rachel. When they were ill, she gave them medicines made from herbs.

Sometimes in the afternoons, our neighbours came to the house. Sometimes my cousin Rachel went to visit them. I enjoyed listening to her at dinner. My cousin Rachel told me about the people she had seen during the day. She always made me laugh.

But at the end of the month, the weather changed. Rain fell every day. There was no gardening and no visiting.

One morning, my cousin Rachel and I were standing at the library window. Outside the rain was falling heavily. Then Seecombe reminded us about Ambrose’s boxes. They were still in my room and had never been emptied. We began to open the boxes. The first box we opened was full of Ambrose’s clothes. Suddenly my cousin Rachel was crying. Then she was in my arms, her head against my chest.

‘Oh Philip! I’m so sorry,’ she said. ‘But we both loved him so much.’

I moved my lips against her hair.

‘Don’t worry, Rachel,’ I said. ‘I’ll do this.’

It was the first time I had called her by her name. She stopped crying and we continued to unpack the boxes. We decided to give Ambrose’s clothes to the tenants on the estate. Then we began to look at the books.

As I opened a book on gardening, a piece of paper fell out. It looked like part of a letter, written by Ambrose.

She cannot stop spending money, I read. It is like an illness. If this goes on, my dear Philip, she will spend everything. You must tell Kendall in case…

‘What have you there?’ my cousin Rachel said suddenly. ‘That is Ambrose’s writing.’

‘It’s nothing,’ I said and threw the piece of paper on the fire. We continued our work in silence.

That same morning, some boxes had arrived for my cousin Rachel from London. New dresses, perhaps. I remembered the words in Ambrose’s letter: It is like an illness. She will spend everything.

After dinner, when we went to the library as usual, the most beautiful blue and gold cloth lay over the chairs.

‘Do you like it, Philip?’ my cousin Rachel asked. ‘It’s Italian. It will make beautiful curtains for your room.’

‘Isn’t it very expensive?’ I asked.

‘Well, yes, but that isn’t important. If you like it, take it - as a present from me.’

I thought unhappily about the letter, but I could say nothing.

As we sat by the fire, my cousin Rachel began talking about her life in Italy. She spoke of the time before she had met Ambrose. I was listening with the greatest interest, when she suddenly said, ‘What was on that paper you threw in the fire, Philip?’

‘It was from a letter,’ I said, ‘Ambrose was worried about money - I can’t remember exactly.’ The worried look went from Rachel’s eyes.

‘Was that all?’ she said. ‘Poor Ambrose. He did not understand life in Italy. He thought I spent too much money. He was very generous until he became ill. Then he changed so much.’

‘How did he change?’ I asked.

‘When I wanted money for the house, he became very angry. In the end I had to ask Rainaldi for money to pay the servants. When Ambrose found out, he refused to have Rainaldi in the house.

‘It was a terrible time. I did not want to tell you about it, Philip. Ambrose was so ill. He trusted no one. You wouldn’t have known him.’

‘That is all over now,’ I said. ‘Don’t make yourself unhappy. You cannot bring Ambrose back. This is your home now.’

My cousin Rachel looked into my eyes. ‘You are so like him,’ she said. ‘Sometimes I am afraid. You must not change too.’

I took her hands in mine.

‘I will never change,’ I said. ‘And we must remember Ambrose as he used to be. ‘This house belongs to all three of us now.’

‘You are very good to me, Philip,’ my cousin Rachel said as she moved to the door. ‘I hope that one day you will be as happy as I was with Ambrose - at the beginning.’

She went to bed and I sat alone by the library fire. My terrible jealousy had returned. But now I was jealous of Ambrose. I was jealous because of the love that my cousin Rachel had given him.

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