فصل 10

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فصل 10

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CHAPTER TEN

‘You Must Never Come Here Again’

I read and re-read Helen’s diary all night. In the morning, I opened the window and breathed the fresh air. Thank God! My beautiful Helen had done nothing wrong! All the stories about her were untrue. She is a good woman who has a bad husband. We are free to love each other.

After breakfast, I hurried to Wildfell Hall. I took Helen’s diary with me. Rachel opened the front door but she did not look happy when she saw me.

‘Mrs Graham can’t see anyone today,’ Rachel said.

‘But I must see her!’ I said. ‘Please tell her that I’m here!’ The old servant shook her head. But at that moment, Arthur came to the door with his little dog.

‘Mama says that you must come in, Mr Markham,’ he said. Then he ran outside.

Helen was in the sitting-room. Her face was pale, but very beautiful. I gave her the diary.

‘I believed the stories about you,’ I said. ‘I didn’t know the truth about your marriage. Can you ever forgive me?’

‘Can you ever forgive me?’ she replied. ‘I should have told you everything before now. But my life has been terrible.’

I held her in my arms and kissed her. When Helen looked at me, her expression was calm.

‘Gilbert, you must leave me very soon,’ she said. ‘And when you leave, you must never come here again.’

‘Never come here again?’ I repeated. ‘But now I love you more than ever, my dearest Helen.’

‘And that is why we must never meet again. I’ll be leaving Wildfell Hall soon. This must be our last meeting.’

‘But I can’t live without you, Helen. You can’t go back to Huntingdon now! He’s a bad man and a bad husband.’

‘Gilbert, don’t say that,’ she cried. ‘You’re not helping me. You’re making things much, much worse.’

‘Then I won’t talk about him again,’ I said. ‘And I won’t speak about my love for you. But can’t we meet as friends?’

‘No. That is impossible,’ Helen said. ‘Every time that we meet, our love will become stronger. This mustn’t happen. I’m married to Huntingdon. I promised God in church that I’d always be a good wife. I mustn’t love another man.’

‘Then let me write to you. Write to me, Helen,’ I said. ‘My brother will give you news about me,’ she replied. Then I remembered my fight with Frederick.

‘Your brother won’t help us,’ I said sadly. ‘I was jealous and I didn’t know the truth. I behaved badly towards him.’

‘Yes, I know. Frederick doesn’t think that we should meet,’ Helen said. ‘But I’ll not forget you, Gilbert. You’re young. You’ll find a good woman to love. You’ll marry.’

‘You’re young too,’ I said. ‘Huntingdon is ten years older than you. He might die soon. Then we can be married.’

‘My husband may live for many years,’ Helen replied. ‘I’ve thought about all these things, Gilbert. You must trust me. I’ve made my decision.’

‘Then let’s write to each other,’ I said. ‘Please, Helen!’ Helen thought for a moment. ‘I’d like that,’ she replied. ‘But you mustn’t write to me yet. We’ll wait six months-‘

‘Six months!’ I cried.

‘Frederick will tell you where I am,’ Helen said. ‘Write after six months, and I’ll answer you. But we must never meet again.’

Helen looked at me and I saw the sadness in her eyes. I held her close in my arms for many minutes.

‘Go, go!’ she whispered at last.

I held her for a moment more. Then I left her.

Little Arthur saw me in the garden and ran to meet me. But I did not stop and speak to the boy. I ran until I could not see Wildfell Hall. I did no work that day.

But there was something that I had to do. I had to visit Frederick Lawrence and apologize to him. And I had to tell him about my last meeting with his sister. I went immediately to Woodford House, Lawrence’s home.

‘I’m sorry, but Mr Lawrence is ill,’ his servant said. ‘He can’t see anyone. I’ll give him a message from you.’

‘I must speak to him myself,’ I said.

I walked past the servant quickly and opened each of the doors that led off the hallway. When I opened the door of the sitting-room, I saw Lawrence lying on a sofa. I walked into the room. Lawrence looked ill. He did not get up.

‘Markham!’ he said in surprise. ‘What are you doing here?’

‘I’ll not stay for more than a few minutes,’ I replied. ‘Please listen to me.’

‘Then speak quickly,’ he said. ‘You’ve behaved very badly. I don’t want you in my house.’

‘I’ve come to say that I’m sorry,’ I said.

‘Why should I believe you?’ said Lawrence. ‘You hit me and left me on the road.’

‘I am truly sorry,’ I said. ‘I did a terrible thing to you. I didn’t know that you were Mrs Graham’s brother.’

‘Who told you that?’ he asked.

‘Mrs Graham,’ I said. ‘She’s told me everything. She’s told me about Huntingdon and her terrible marriage. But don’t worry, Lawence. I’m not seeing her again.’

‘I’m pleased to hear it,’ he replied. ‘You’re doing the right thing, Markham. If my sister trusts you, so do I. I accept your apology. Let’s shake hands.’

‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘Have you told Helen about our fight?’

‘No, and I’m not going to,’ he replied with a smile. ‘I feel better now. Come and visit me again, when you have time.’ I thanked Lawrence again and bowed. Then I left him.

I wanted to tell my mother and sister the truth about Helen, but I could not. Soon, our neighbors stopped talking about Helen when I was with them. They knew that this gossip made me angry.

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