فصل 14

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فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

Quilp Makes a Plan

Now we must return to Kit’s mother and her journey with the single gentleman. It was not a relaxed journey. Kit’s mother spent the whole time worrying about her two young children, whom she had left behind. The single gentleman spent his time worrying about finding Nell and her grandfather. They travelled all night at speed, stopping only to eat dinner. Then Kit’s mother fell asleep in the carriage and was woken in the morning as the carriage came to a stop.

‘This is the place!’ cried the single gentleman. He climbed out of the carriage and, after asking a few people in the street, he found the hall with the waxworks. But it did not take long for him to find out from Mrs Jarley that Nell and her grandfather were no longer there. Mrs Jarley explained how she had met Nell and her grandfather, and how she had given them each a job and a place to live. Then she told him that they had suddenly disappeared. She said that she was very worried about them because the old man had seemed unwell and confused. She had tried to find them, but had had no luck.

The single gentleman was very upset at this news and said he did not know where to look next. He took Kit’s mother to a nearby public house where they could stay the night. As they went up to their rooms, Kit’s mother was amazed to see Mr Quilp coming down the stairs.

She stepped backwards in surprise and cried, ‘Goodness me!’

‘Kit’s mother!’ said Quilp and he smiled his horrible smile at her.

‘Mr Quilp,’ said the single gentleman. ‘We have met before. You may remember that the day I arrived in London, I found The Old Curiosity Shop empty and closed up. A neighbour told me to come and see you. I discovered that you had taken that shop and everything in it. And you had forced the old man who used to live there to leave and become a beggar.’

‘That shop legally belongs to me,’ replied Quilp. ‘I didn’t force him, he went by his own choice - he disappeared in the night.’

‘You didn’t help me when I came to you, and now you are following me. Why?’ asked the single gentleman with anger in his voice.

‘Following you!’ cried Quilp. ‘I’m not following you!’

The single gentleman simply looked at Quilp. There was nothing more to say.

Quilp returned to his room upstairs and thought for a long time about what had happened in the last few days. He had been to the office of his lawyer friend Mr Brass and had spoken to Richard Swiveller there. Richard had talked about the single gentleman who was staying in Mr Brass’s house - the same gentleman who had come to see Quilp some weeks before. Richard had also said that on another day he had seen the single gentleman and Kit talking together. Wasn’t that a strange thing?

Quilp had guessed from all this that the single gentleman was trying to find Nell and her grandfather. Quilp wanted to know why, so he decided to go and see Kit’s mother. He thought it would be easy to frighten her and she would tell him everything she knew.

But when he got there he saw her getting into the carriage with the single gentleman, about to start their journey. He talked to the driver, found out exactly where the carriage was going, and followed it in a public coach. And now they had all met in this public house.

‘So,’ Quilp said quietly to himself, ‘that horrible boy Kit keeps getting in my way. It’s Kit and his mother who are helping to find Nelly now and will end up being rewarded. So I think I will have to kill him. Yes, that single gentleman would have paid me a lot of money to find Nell and her grandfather if Kit hadn’t got in the way!’

The next morning Quilp caught the public coach back to London. As soon as he got there he went to see Mr Brass and Sally. He told them about Kit, how he kept getting in the way and how he hated him. Mr Brass, who did not really know Kit at all, said that he completely agreed with Quilp.

‘You are my good friends, aren’t you?’ said Quilp.

‘Yes! Yes, of course,’ replied Mr Brass, nodding his head several times.

‘Then find a way to get rid of Kit. I hate him. Do you understand me?’ said Quilp coldly. ‘Let’s shake hands on it.’

Mr Brass and Sally looked at each other and then both shook hands with Quilp.

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