فصل 15

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فصل 15

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Chapter fifteen

A Village Life

When Mr Marton, Nell and her grandfather arrived at the village, Mr Marton went to get the keys to his new house. Nell and the old man waited near the church. When Mr Marton returned, he had a surprise for his travelling friends.

‘Do you see that house there?’ he asked, pointing to a very old but pretty house nearby. Nell nodded.

‘Well,’ he continued, ‘it is yours for as many years as you want it.’

‘Ours!’ cried the child.

‘Yes,’ replied Mr Marton happily. ‘There are two houses and I will be living in the house next door to that one.’

He then explained to Nell a little more about the house. The woman who had lived there used to look after the church keys. Her job had been to open and close the church and show it to visitors. She had died a few weeks before and a new person was now needed to do this job and live in the house. Nell could be that person! It was like her job with the waxworks.

‘I’ve spoken to the clergyman. The job would give you some money,’ said Mr Marton. ‘It wouldn’t be very much, but enough money to live on in this simple place.’

‘Thank you so much!’ cried the child.

For the next two days they cleaned and prepared the houses. Nell still did not feel well but she did her best to work hard. Some of the local people came to welcome them, to offer their help or to bring some food.

Nell was given the keys to the church. She spent some time on her own, walking slowly around it. At first she felt happy and calm to be in the beautiful church, but seeing all the graves in the graveyard made her feel sad because many of them were where children had been buried. She sat down near one of these graves and started to cry.

Mr Marton, walking past, saw her. ‘Nell, what’s wrong?’ he asked her.

‘It makes me so sad that these children who have died are forgotten so quickly,’ she answered.

‘No, no,’ disagreed her friend. ‘No one who dies is forgotten. Perhaps there are no flowers on these graves now, but these people are not forgotten. All of the good things they did will live on in the hearts of the people who knew them.’

Nell smiled a little, but she looked tired and her skin seemed white in the sunlight.

The next day Nell started to tidy up the graveyard and plant flowers on some of the graves. She worked all day there and her grandfather helped her. Later in the afternoon Mr Marton came and watched her working. At first he smiled because she had started to make the graves look cared for and bright. But then his heart became heavy and he sat in silence when he realized that Nell had only worked on the graves of children. Her grandfather had noticed the same thing. He stood for a moment with a worried look on his face and then moved towards Nell and put his hand gently on her shoulder. He told her how she was growing stronger and stronger each day and would soon become a woman.

The weeks passed and the new village began to feel like home. But Nell still seemed tired and ill and spent a lot of time sitting quietly looking into the fire. Both her grandfather and Mr Marton were very worried about her.

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