فصل 04

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کتاب های ساده

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فصل 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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CHAPTER FOUR

Clifford and Phoebe

For years Hepzibah had looked forward to spending her life with the brother she loved so dearly. She had waited patiently for him and now she wanted to make his life warm and happy.

She opened an old bookcase and took out several books that she had enjoyed reading many years before. She tried reading to Clifford, but he wasn’t interested in the books and he did not like the sound of her hoarse voice. She tried to find other things to interest Clifford, but he was not grateful and that made her sad.

But, worst of all, Clifford did not like Hepzibah’s appearance.

She had never been beautiful, but now with age and sadness, she was ugly and bitter. Clifford did not like her old dress and turban, her strange ways and her angry look. He liked beautiful things and Hepzibah knew it. She wanted to improve her appearance with some ribbons on her turban but she knew that it wouldn’t change anything. Therefore, she turned to Phoebe, who was young, lovely and cheerful.

To Clifford, Phoebe represented all women, with her youth, beauty, and laughter. Phoebe gave him the warmth and attention that he had lacked throughout his life and Clifford was content just to know that she was near.

As the days passed Phoebe’s presence became necessary to the daily lives of Clifford and Hepzibah. She brought hope and beauty to the dark old house with its curse and its ghosts.

Clifford liked to sleep late in the morning, so Hepzibah stayed with him while Phoebe worked in the shop. There were always more customers in the shop during the morning hours because Phoebe was there. In the afternoons Hepzibah worked in the shop and Phoebe stayed with Clifford. She often took him into the garden, where they talked about flowers and things of beauty. Clifford had forgotten about the wonders of nature - the flowers, the vegetables, the birds - but he rediscovered them. Phoebe also read to him with her musical voice. It was not easy for Phoebe to understand this child-like man with a mysterious and terrible past and no future - all he had was the present.

On Sundays in the summer, Phoebe, Hepzibah; Clifford, Mr Holgrave and Mr Venner always met in the garden, and enjoyed the flowers, the sunshine and the conversation.

One Sunday, while they were all talking in the garden, Mr Venner said, “Miss Hepzibah, I’d like you to come and visit my house in the country.”

“Mr Venner is always talking about his house in the country,” said Clifford.

“Everyone would like to have a house in the country!” said Phoebe.

Phoebe and Clifford did not always go to the garden. Sometimes Phoebe used to take him upstairs to a room with a big window. Phoebe wanted him to look at life outside the House of the Seven Gables. The window looked down onto the street. Phoebe opened it and Clifford watched the street. He spent a lot of time sitting by this window and he saw how everything was different in Pyncheon Street now. He saw people coming and going and children playing games. He liked children because he was like a child. The noise of the train frightened him, but other things made him smile.

When the organ grinder made music in the street, Clifford was delighted and said, “I can hear music! Beautiful music!” The organ grinder had a monkey on his shoulder. It went up to the people and held out its hat waiting for them to give it some money. Clifford moved closer to the window because he wanted to see the people walking to the sound of the music.

“Now I’m going to walk with them,” Clifford decided. He stood in front of the open window and started to climb out. When Hepzibah saw him she screamed and Phoebe pulled him back. Hepzibah started crying.

“Clifford, are you mad?” cried his sister.

“I don’t know,” Clifford said calmly. “I wanted to walk with the people.” Clifford needed to be part of human life. Up until now he had just been a frightened spectator.

One Sunday morning Phoebe was getting ready to go to church. The church bells were ringing loudly, calling out to the people. When Phoebe went out, Clifford and Hepzibah were sitting at the window watching her and the neighbors walk towards the church. Phoebe turned around and waved at them.

“Hepzibah, do you ever go to church?” asked Clifford.

“No, Clifford,” she replied. “I haven’t been for many, many years.”

“I’d like to go to church because other people are there. I think I could pray with them,” said Clifford.

Hepzibah looked into his eyes and she suddenly felt great affection for her brother. She wanted to take his hand and go to church to be among people and with God again after so many years. She said, “Dear brother, let’s go. We don’t belong anywhere, but let’s join the others and pray.”

So they put on their best old clothes and went downstairs together. They opened the front door and took a step outside. They felt that the whole world was watching them. They could not take another step.

“It’s too late, Hepzibah,” said Clifford sadly. “We’re ghosts! We can’t live among human beings, because we would frighten them. If we had lived like human beings all these years, we would have walked down the street like everyone else. But now we can only live in this old house with Maule’s curse on it.”

Hepzibah understood her brother. They went back home and closed the door. Now the house seemed much gloomier than before.

However, Clifford was not always unhappy. He enjoyed sitting at the window and watching the children play. He dreamed a lot about when he was a child and sometimes he told Hepzibah and Phoebe about his dreams. One afternoon he decided to blow soap bubbles. He had often blown soap bubbles with his sister when they were children. So he began blowing soap bubbles happily at the window just as Judge Pyncheon was passing by.

“Cousin Clifford!” he said. “Still blowing soap bubbles!” The judge’s comment frightened Clifford and he felt weak and confused.

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