فصل 19

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فصل 19

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Chapter nineteen

The Single Gentleman Shares his Story

Kit was now happier than he had ever been. He had heard the news about Mr Brass and Sally and had been told that he was now a free man. Mr Garland came as quickly as he could to get Kit from the prison and take him home.

When they arrived back at the Garlands’ house Kit’s mother was there with his two brothers and she was crying with joy. Mrs Garland, Abel, Barbara and the single gentleman were there too. They were all very excited and pleased to see Kit - especially Barbara. They laughed and talked and gave Kit special presents to welcome him home.

After a while, Kit realized that he had forgotten to say hello to another friend. He quietly walked out to the back of the house to the stables, where Whisker the pony was kept. He put his hand on Whisker’s neck and spoke to him gently. As he was talking, he heard someone move behind him. It was Barbara! What was Barbara doing here?

‘Oh, Kit,’ she said, ‘is it really you? Are you really back here safe with us? I’ve missed you so much.’

She was standing quite near him now and Kit could see that she had begun to cry. Without thinking about it, he put his arm around her, and dried her cheek. She looked up at him, and again without thinking, Kit kissed her. The pony suddenly moved and Barbara, who was surprised, ran away.

Later that evening, when everything was calmer, Mr Garland asked to speak to Kit.

‘Would you come with me on a journey tomorrow?’ he asked.

‘A journey?’ asked Kit.

‘Yes,’ replied his master. ‘Nell and her grandfather have been found and we should go and see them. Nell has been ill and is weak, but I hope she will be better soon.’

Mr Garland then told Kit the whole story. He explained that he had a very good friend who was a schoolteacher who lived in a village in the country. His name was Mr Marton. He did not see this friend very often, but they wrote letters to each other. In one of his letters, Mr Marton had described helping two new people in the village - a young girl and her old grandfather. He wrote about how they had been travelling and were poor. When Mr Garland had read this he thought they might be Kit’s friends, so he wrote a letter asking Mr Marton for more information. That very day a reply had come which said that yes, they were Nell and her grandfather.

Kit was very happy and said that of course he would be ready for the journey the next morning. He found it difficult to sleep that night because he was thinking about Nell, and about Barbara.

Early the next morning Mr Garland and the single gentleman climbed into the carriage. Kit climbed up onto the back of it, and they began their long journey. They travelled all day and into the evening. After a long silence in the carriage, the single gentleman turned to Mr Garland and asked him if he was a good listener.

‘Yes, of course,’ he replied. ‘If the story is interesting!’

‘Then there is a short story I want to tell you,’ the single gentleman began. ‘There were two brothers who loved each other a lot. There was an age difference of twelve years between them. Happily, they both fell in love, but sadly, it was with the same woman. The younger brother was the first to realize this and he was very upset about it. When he was a child he had been very ill and weak and his older brother had looked after him very carefully for years. The younger brother decided not to say anything about the woman because he wanted his brother to be happy. He left the country.

‘The older brother married the woman and was very happy for a while. But then his wife died and left him with a daughter. This daughter was beautiful and was exactly like her mother. She grew up to be a sweet woman, but she married a terrible man who spent all of her money and was cruel to her. They were so poor that first her husband died, and then she died too, leaving two children behind. There was a son of about ten years old and a baby girl. So then their grandfather - the older brother - looked after them. He was very sad. He had lost his wife, and then he had lost his daughter, and he was by that time an old man.

‘The two children grew up to be very different. The boy became just like his father had been. He was dishonest and lazy, and he had wasted a lot of the grandfather’s money before he left to live on his own. The girl was sweet and innocent, just like her beautiful mother had been. She stayed with her grandfather and helped him to run a business, which was a shop selling old curios.

‘The old man loved his young granddaughter very much. Her beautiful face reminded him of his wife and his daughter. But he was very frightened that the girl would have a sad and short life like her mother and grandmother before her.

‘During all these years the younger brother was travelling in many different countries all alone. No one knew why he had left England, and they thought it must have been for bad reasons. As he got older he thought more and more about his older brother and the happy times they had shared as children. The time came when he could bear it no more. He sold everything he owned. Now being rich enough to look after both himself and his brother, he returned to London and knocked on his brother’s door…’ said the single gentleman, whose voice had grown quiet and sad.

‘Yes,’ said Mr Garland, putting his hand on top of his friend’s, ‘And I think I know the rest of the story.’

‘Yes,’ agreed the single gentleman. ‘You know all about how I have been looking for my brother and his granddaughter and, until now, have had no luck. I really hope that this time we will find them.’

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