فصل 10

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فصل 10

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chapter ten

Nell has a Terrible Shock

Nell and her grandfather had been working for Mrs Jarley for several days when they were given a day to rest. In the evening they decided to go for a walk out into the countryside to enjoy the last hours of sun. It was a warm evening, but while they were walking the weather changed - the sky turned dark and storm clouds began to form above them. Soon there was very heavy rain and strong winds, so they ran inside a nearby public house.

‘Welcome to my pub!’ said the landlord cheerfully.

As they stood drying themselves by the fire, Nell heard men’s voices coming through an open door. Her grandfather moved closer to her and whispered excitedly, ‘They’re playing cards in the next room! Don’t you hear them?’

Her grandfather was right. Nell could hear the men discussing the game and how much money they had already won or lost. She looked at her grandfather and was worried to see he had changed: his eyes were now wide open, his face was quite red and he was breathing quickly.

‘Oh Nell,’ he said happily. ‘This is it! I’ve always known that my chance would come to win a lot of money! I’ve always dreamt of this moment! How much money have we got, Nell? I saw you with some money yesterday. Give it to me now.’

‘No, let me keep it, grandfather,’ said the frightened child. ‘Let’s go from here. I don’t want to stay.’

‘Give me the money!’ ordered the old man angrily.

‘Please don’t take it,’ said the child, beginning to cry. ‘Don’t cry, Nell,’ said her grandfather. ‘I didn’t mean to upset you. I only want to do this for you, to look after you! Now, give me the money. I must have it.’

Nell took a little purse out of her pocket. He grabbed it, turned and walked quickly into the other room. Nell followed slowly. There were two rough-looking men sitting with cards and silver coins on the table between them. One of the men, who was much bigger than the other, looked up when they came into the room.

It took a few minutes for Nell’s grandfather to persuade the men to let him play, but at last he sat down at the table with them. The landlord also sat down and the four men began to play a new game of cards.

The child sat near them and watched how at one moment her grandfather shouted with excitement and at the next moment looked terribly sad and upset, then happy again. It was the first time she had seen him like this and it frightened her. She now understood that he could not stop himself and that he had a serious problem with gambling.

After what seemed like hours, the card game came to an end. The large man had won, and Nell’s purse lay completely empty in front of her grandfather. For a few moments the old man stayed at the table looking again and again at the cards that lay there. Nell walked to him and put her hand on his shoulder.

‘If the game had gone on just a little longer, I think I would have won!’ he said.

Nell said nothing. It was now very late and the storm was still blowing outside. Her purse was empty, but Nell remembered that she still had that one gold coin which she had sewn into the bottom of her dress. She told her grandfather about the coin and suggested that they stay the night at the pub. Nell used the gold coin to pay the landlord. He was surprised to see such a valuable coin and he gave her back some smaller coins before showing them to their rooms upstairs.

Later, Nell did not feel comfortable when she was alone in her room. It was a large, dark house and it took her a long time to fall asleep. When she did finally sleep her head was full of terrible dreams. Then suddenly she woke up. It was dark, but she could see a shadowy figure standing in her room! She wanted to cry out, but she was too frightened to move or make a sound. The terrible figure slowly moved around her bed and it began searching for something. After a few moments she watched it leave the room. She was shocked to see the figure then go silently to her grandfather’s door and inside his room! She could not bear it any longer. As quietly as she could, she climbed out of bed and went to the open door of his room.

What she saw in front of her was terrible. The bed had not been slept in, and sitting at a small candlelit table was her grandfather. His head was down and he was counting the money which he had just stolen from his own granddaughter.

Nell had been frightened, but now she felt sick. She could not believe what she saw. She felt that she did not know the man who was her grandfather. Silently, she returned to her room and lay awake worrying until morning.

The next day, as they were walking back to the caravans, Nell told her grandfather that someone had stolen her money during the night. Her last hope disappeared when she heard her grandfather’s reply.

‘But don’t we have any more money?’ he asked. ‘Then we must get some more.’

That night, when he thought Nell was fast asleep, the old man left his van. But Nell was not asleep, and when he came back hours later, she saw that he was sad because he had lost all the money gambling again.

‘Get me more money,’ he ordered. ‘I’ll make you rich. Just get me some more money.’

What could Nell do? Her grandfather was not well. In the next few days she gave him all the money she earned. It upset her to do this, but she was worried that he would steal money from Mrs Jarley if she did not.

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