فصل 07

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

The Ghosts Escape

They hadn’t left the safety of the big old house together for years and Hepzibah felt lost. She looked at her brother as they walked and saw great excitement on his face. The weather was terrible and there were very few people around. Therefore, Hepzibah and Clifford didn’t attract much attention as they went to the train station. Certainly, no one could guess the secret that they were carrying with them. As they walked, Hepzibah asked herself, “Am I awake?”

They got to the train station and got on a train without any problems. They sat down and Hepzibah whispered in her brother’s ear, “Clifford! Is this a dream?”

“A dream, Hepzibah!” he repeated, almost laughing in her face. “Oh, I’ve never been more awake!”

As the train moved on, through one village after another, they looked at the world around them. They watched the people inside the train too - some sat reading quietly, some children were eating sweets and a group of girls was throwing a ball from one side of the train to the other. Clifford was excited by all the activity - it was life itself! But Hepzibah was worried.

“You’re not happy, Hepzibah,” said Clifford. “You’re thinking about that gloomy old house and cousin Jaffrey. But now we’re free! We’re out in the world, in the middle of life. Let’s be happy.”

When they were in the big old house, Hepzibah had looked after her brother but now Clifford was in charge.

The conductor passed by and Clifford gave him some money.

“Where are you going?” asked the conductor.

“We’ll go as far as the train will take us. We’re riding for pleasure,” said Clifford. The new experience gave him energy and life, and he started talking to the people on the train.

“Clifford, please be quiet. People will think you’re mad,” whispered his sister.

“You be quiet,” replied Clifford. “I’m not mad and for the first time in thirty years I can express my thoughts and I will!”

When the train reached a small station they got off and started walking around.

Judge Pyncheon remained in the House of the Seven Gables.

He was dead, but his eyes remained open. He held his pocket-watch in his left hand. It wasn’t possible to see the time but the watch continued to move - you could hear it. He had an appointment with his doctor that day because he had not been feeling well. And that evening he had a meeting with some of the other important men of the town because he wanted to become governor.

The next morning Mr Venner woke up early and went to the shop on Pyncheon Street, but it was closed. Another woman came to the shop hoping to find Hepzibah.

“Good morning, Mr Venner,” said Holgrave, looking out of the window of one of the gables.

“I’m glad to see you, Mr Holgrave,” replied Mr Venner. “There’s a strange, lonely air around this house today. Where is everyone?”

“I don’t know,” said Holgrave. “It’s is very strange.”

Several adults and children stood outside the old house asking about Hepzibah and the judge. Where were they? During the morning other people came to the shop looking for Hepzibah. The baker came to deliver the bread and the butcher brought some meat which he had chosen especially for Clifford. But they found the shop closed. The organ grinder came down Pyncheon Street followed by the sound of his music and a lot of children. They stopped outside the house, wondering where its inhabitants were.

Half an hour after the organ grinder had left Phoebe arrived. She tried to open the front door.

“No, Phoebe!” screamed Ned Higgins, the schoolboy. “Don’t go in! There’s something bad in there. Don’t go in!”

Phoebe went to the back door but she was afraid. She knocked and it suddenly opened, but she did not see anyone.

“It’s probably Hepzibah,” she thought.

It was dark inside the house and she felt a hand take hers.

“This isn’t Hepzibah’s hand!” Phoebe thought. She turned around and saw Holgrave. The daguerreotypist looked paler than usual. He smiled at her.

“Where are Hepzibah and Clifford?” she asked. “Something terrible has happened!”

“No, no, Phoebe!” said Holgrave. “Listen to me. Do you remember this?”

He showed her the daguerreotype of Judge Pyncheon which he had once shown her.

“It’s Judge Pyncheon,” said Phoebe.

“And here is the same face that I took half an hour ago,” said Holgrave showing her another miniature.

“But this is death,” she said. “Judge Pyncheon is dead!”

“Yes, and he is sitting in the living room of this house,” Holgrave said. “Clifford and Hepzibah have disappeared and I don’t know anything else.”

The young girl was frightened.

“Why haven’t you opened the doors and asked if there are witnesses?” she asked.

“We must think about what’s best for Clifford. He and Hepzibah made the mistake of running away. Poor Clifford, the police will suspect him.”

“Clifford?” asked Phoebe.

“Perhaps you don’t know the whole story,” said Holgrave. “Clifford went to prison for thirty years because he was accused of his uncle’s death. But Clifford didn’t murder him and he didn’t murder Judge Pyncheon. You see, Old Colonel Pyncheon, Clifford’s uncle and Judge Pyncheon all died in the same way because they all had the same problem: a bad heart! That was Maule’s curse.”

“Then Clifford is innocent!” cried Phoebe. “We must tell everyone. Let’s open the doors and tell our neighbors the truth.”

“You’re right, Phoebe,” said Holgrave, but he did not move. He looked at Phoebe lovingly and said, “The presence of a dead man in this house threw a great black shadow over everything. The world looked evil and unfriendly, and my past life seemed dark and lonely. My future seemed sad and hopeless. But then you came into the house this morning and brought warmth and hope. Dear Phoebe, I love you.”

“How… how can you love a simple girl like me?” asked Phoebe, looking at Holgrave.

“You are my only happiness,” answered Holgrave. “Do you love me, Phoebe?”

“Look into my heart,” said Phoebe. “You know I love you.”

At that moment everything was beautiful and hopeful for the two young people.

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