فصل 11

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فصل 11

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Return to Grassdale

One morning, at the beginning of November, Eliza Millward visited Linden-Car. She came to see my sister. I was in the sitting-room with Rose, when Eliza arrived. I was writing some business letters.

‘I find you at home too, Mr Markham!’ Eliza said. ‘I’m very lucky!’ As she spoke, she smiled an unkind smile. ‘I’ve some news for you and Rose. It’s about Mrs Graham.’

I looked up from my work quickly.

‘Oh, and what is your news, Eliza?’ Rose asked.

‘Well, Helen Graham isn’t a widow!’ Eliza replied. ‘Her husband isn’t dead. She ran away from him! And now, she’s gone back to him! They’re friends again!’

‘Who told you this, Miss Eliza?’ I asked angrily.

‘A servant at Woodford House told my servant, and she told me!’ Eliza said.

‘So you listen to servants’ gossip now, do you?’ I replied. ‘Excuse me, but I have to go out with these letters.’

I had to know the truth. I got on my horse and rode immediately to Frederick Lawrence’s house.

‘Has your sister left Wildfell Hall?’ I asked Lawrence.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘She’s returned to Grassdale.’

‘But that’s impossible!’ I cried. ‘Why would she do that?’

‘Huntingdon is ill,’ Lawrence replied.

‘Is he dying?’

‘No, I don’t think so,’ Lawrence said. ‘Helen thought that she should go to him. She thought that it was her duty.’

‘Her duty? Nonsense!’ I cried.

‘I agree with you, Markham,’ said Lawrence calmly. ‘I hate Huntingdon. But he had a fall from his horse. He’s very ill. There was no one who could take care of him. Here, read Helen’s letter. It came this morning.’

Grassdale, 4th November

Dear Frederick

I am writing to tell you that Arthur is ill. He fell from his horse when he was drunk. He has injured his leg badly. He is not dying, but he has been in bed for many days. He is weak and he does not know where he is. At first, he did not recognize me. He thought that I was the governess - Alice Myers. But she left him some time ago. Arthur called out for Miss Myers many times. Then he said that he could see the white face and dark eyes of his wife - me. He shouted out again and again. He was terrified. He believed that he was going mad. After a few minutes, he became calmer. Then I told him that Alice had gone and I had returned to Grassdale. I told him that I had brought a nurse to look after him. Arthur wanted to see our son and he promised not take the child from me. When the boy saw his father, he was afraid. Arthur cursed me. He told me that I had made the boy hate him.

The next day, Arthur talked about dying. I do not want him to die. But I told him that he was very ill and that only God could save him. Then Arthur cursed again and turned his head away.

Dear brother, my life is not easy. Drink has destroyed my husband. But with God’s help, I will do my duty.

Your sister Helen

‘What do you think, Markham?’ Lawrence asked me.

‘I wish that your sister hadn’t gone back to Grassdale,’ I replied. ‘But she’s gone to do her duty.

‘Please let me keep this letter,’ I went on. ‘I want to tell Rose and my mother the truth about your sister. When you write to Helen again, please ask her if I can do this.’

Lawrence agreed and a few days later, he came to see me. He showed me a second letter from his sister.

Dear Frederick

Arthur is a little stronger, but his temper is worse. He wants me near him all the time. Sometimes he curses me. Sometimes he asks me if I love him. I am sorry for him. I will stay here while he needs me.

At the end of the letter, there was a message to me: Mr Markham may tell his mother and sister my story. I hope that he is well. But he must not think about me. Please tell him this.

Helen’s letter made me sad. But I was happy to tell my mother and sister the truth about the tenant of Wildfell Hall. Rose was delighted to know the truth and she told her friends. Soon everyone knew my dear Helen’s story. They knew that Helen was Mrs Huntingdon - not Mrs Graham. And they knew why she had left her husband.

But I do not think that I will see my dear love again.

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