فصل 13

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فصل 13

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Chapter thirteen

Nell is Given Hope

Poor Nell did not know what to do. Her grandfather was taking all her money and gambling it away with other travellers every night. She knew this because she had secretly followed him to find out where he was going. One night, while standing in the shadows, she had heard the men he gambled with asking him for more money. When he said that he had no more money, one of the men made a terrible suggestion.

‘What about that waxworks woman you work for?’ the man began. ‘She makes a lot of money and I’ve heard she keeps it in a metal box under her bed at night. She doesn’t lock her door because she’s afraid of fire. Go in there when she’s asleep and take the money. Anyone could go in there and do it, so she won’t know it’s you. It will be easy!’

They talked about it for some time until the grandfather finally agreed that he would steal all of Mrs Jarley’s money and return the next night.

What could Nell do? She could not let him steal money from Mrs Jarley. So later that night she woke up her grandfather and told him that they had to leave. She packed up their things and took him away from the caravans while Mrs Jarley and George were still sleeping. She led him by the hand to the top of a nearby hill and there they rested. Nell started to cry. Then later that night they lay down and slept on the grass.

It was a long way to the next town and they travelled slowly through the countryside for the next day and night. At last they walked into the town, which was very noisy and full of factories. It was raining hard now and Nell was tired, cold and wet. She had started to feel ill and they had very little money. She did not like the town. They spent several hours walking through the busy streets without knowing what to do or where they would stay that night. Evening came and Nell found a dry doorway where they could lie down to sleep.

In the morning Nell and her grandfather started to walk towards the countryside again. They walked all day through ugly, dirty streets where poor, thin people worked. As day turned to night, the factories seemed to be dangerous, frightening places. They saw sick, hungry people who were crying in the street and children who were homeless. By now, Nell was very ill and she became weaker and weaker. All they had eaten that day was some bread. She could not walk anymore so she lay down at the side of the road to sleep.

The next morning they carried on, with slow, tired steps. They had nothing to eat and as evening came Nell felt again that she could not walk another step. She saw another traveller ahead of them on the road and called out to him, hoping that he might give them some food. The man turned and, as he walked towards her, Nell suddenly screamed and fell to the ground in shock. It was Mr Marton, the schoolteacher! He picked her up in his arms and carried her as fast as he could to a nearby public house.

‘She is very ill and weak,’ he told her grandfather, who was very worried about her.

The landlady of the pub ran to Nell and gave her some medicine and a drink. Then Nell was taken to a bed upstairs, where she slept for several hours. The next morning she woke up feeling a little better and was able to eat something. Mr Marton kindly paid for all three of them to stay another night at the public house so that Nell could rest.

‘Thank you so much,’ Nell said to the schoolteacher. ‘If we hadn’t met you, I think I might have died. I don’t know how I can thank you for your help and for paying for us to stay here.’

‘That’s enough talk about dying!’ answered Mr Marton. ‘And the money is no problem. Since the last time I saw you, I have been given another job. I am going to be clerk and schoolteacher in a village several days’ journey from here. That is where I am travelling to now. They are going to pay me thirty-five pounds a year!’

‘I’m very happy for you,’ replied Nell.

Mr Marton said that he thought of Nell as a good friend and suggested that she and her grandfather should come with him to his new village. ‘I’m sure you would find a job there,’ he told her.

And so they agreed that the next day he, Nell and her grandfather would travel together by public coach to the village.

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