فصل 11

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فصل 11

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Chapter eleven

The China Cupid

Frank had told me to forget the past. I wanted to. But Frank did not sit in the morning room every day as I did. He did not sit at Rebecca’s desk and touch the things she had touched. Dear God, I did not want to think about Rebecca. I wanted to be happy. I wanted Maxim to be happy too. But Rebecca was always in my thoughts and dreams.

Beatrice, Maxim’s sister, had promised to give me a wedding present. She did not forget. One day, Robert brought a large parcel into the morning-room where I was sitting alone. I cut the string excitedly and tore off the dark brown paper. Beatrice had sent me four big books about painting. She knew that I enjoyed sketching and she had really tried to please me.

I was glad to have something at Manderley that belonged to me. I looked round the room for somewhere to put the books. I stood them in a row on top of the desk and looked at them. But the books were far too heavy. First one fell and then the others followed. A little china ornament which always stood on the desk was knocked on to the floor. The ornament broke into many pieces. It was a beautiful little cupid and one of the loveliest things in the house. I was suddenly very frightened. I found an envelope in a drawer and carefully put the pieces of china into it. Then, like a child, I hid the envelope in the desk. I decided to put my new books in the library and I said nothing about the cupid.

The following day, after lunch, Frith brought our coffee to the library as usual. Instead of leaving, he stood by Maxim’s chair.

‘Could I speak to you, sir?’ he said. Maxim looked up from his paper.

‘Yes, Frith, what is it?’

‘It’s about Robert, sir. He’s very upset. Mrs Danvers has accused him of taking a valuable ornament from the morning-room. Mrs Danvers noticed it was missing late this morning. She says that Robert must have taken it or broken it. Robert says he knows nothing about it.’

‘Perhaps it was one of the maids,’ said Maxim. I knew he hated any kind of trouble with the servants.

‘No, sir. No one except Robert has been in the room, apart from Madam, of course. Mrs Danvers doesn’t let the maids clean the morning-room.’

‘Well, Mrs Danvers had better come and see me. What ornament was it?’

‘The china cupid, sir. It stands on the desk.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Maxim. ‘That’s very valuable. It must be found. I’ll see Mrs Danvers at once.’

‘Very good, sir,’ said Frith and quietly left the room.

‘Darling,’ I said to Maxim when we were alone, ‘I meant to tell you before, but I forgot. I broke the cupid yesterday.’

‘You broke it? Why didn’t you say so when Frith was here? You’ll have to explain to Mrs Danvers now.’

‘Oh no. Please, Maxim, you tell her. Let me go upstairs.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ said Maxim angrily. ‘Anyone would think you were afraid of Mrs Danvers.’

‘I am afraid of her. At least not afraid, but…’

The door opened without a sound and Mrs Danvers came into the room. I looked nervously at Maxim. His face was half amused, half angry.

‘It’s all a mistake, Mrs Danvers,’ Maxim told her. ‘Mrs de Winter broke the cupid herself. She forgot to tell us.’

I felt like a child again.

‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, ‘I never thought Robert would get into trouble.’

‘Is it possible to repair the cupid, Madam?’ said Mrs Danvers. She did not seem surprised. I felt she had known the truth all the time.

‘I’m afraid not,’ I said. ‘It’s in hundreds of pieces.’

‘What did you do with the pieces?’ said Maxim.

They are in an envelope in a drawer of the writing desk.’

‘Find the pieces, Mrs Danvers. Try to get them mended in London.’

‘I never thought that Mrs de Winter had broken the ornament,’ said Mrs Danvers. As she left the room I could see the scorn and hatred in her eyes.

‘I’m very sorry, darling,’ I said. ‘It was very silly and careless of me.’

‘Forget it,’ said Maxim. ‘But you do act strangely sometimes. More like a servant than the mistress of Manderley. Even when we have visitors, you sit on the edge of your chair and say only “yes” and “no”.’

‘I can’t help being shy.’

‘I know you can’t, darling. But you must learn to hide it.’

‘I do try. But I’m not used to this kind of life. People look at me and ask me so many questions.’

‘What does it matter? They are interested in us, that’s all.’

‘They can’t find me very interesting,’ I said. ‘I suppose that’s why you married me. You knew I was dull and quiet. No one would ever gossip about me.’

Maxim threw his paper on the ground and got up from his chair. His face was dark with anger and his voice was hard.

‘What do you know about any gossip down here?’ he said. ‘Who’s been talking to you?’

‘No one. No one at all.’

Maxim stared at me.

‘Perhaps I did a very selfish thing when I married you,’ he said slowly. ‘I am so much older than you.’

I felt cold and frightened.

‘Age doesn’t matter,’ I said. ‘I’m happy. You know I love you more than anything else in the world. I love Manderley too. I love everything here. You’re happy too, darling, aren’t you?’

Maxim did not answer. He stood staring out of the window.

‘If you don’t think we’re happy, you must tell me,’ I went on. ‘I don’t want you to lie to me.’

Maxim took my face in his hands.

‘How can I answer you?’ he said. ‘If you are happy, then we are both happy.’

He kissed me and walked across the room.

‘But you are disappointed in me. You think I am not right for Manderley. If only I hadn’t broken that cupid. Was it very valuable?’

‘I think so,’ Maxim answered. ‘It was a wedding present. Rebecca knew a lot about china.’

Maxim went on staring straight in front of him.

He is thinking about Rebecca, I said to myself. I have broken one of their wedding presents.

Maxim went back to his chair and picked up his paper. I sat on the long seat under the window. After a time, Jasper came to me and climbed on to my lap.

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