فصل 12

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فصل 12

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CHAPTER TWELVE

Free

Frederick Lawrence and I were now good friends. I often went to Woodford House. When Lawrence had a letter from his sister, he always let me read it. One day, Helen told him that her husband’s health was much worse.

Huntingdon’s doctor had told him that he must not drink any alcohol. But he had started to drink wine again. When Helen mixed the wine with water, Huntingdon threw the glass out of the window. He told his servant to open a bottle of the strongest wine. Then he drank it all. After this, Huntingdon’s leg became bad again. Once more, he was very ill. He blamed Helen for his pain. He cursed her because she had not taken the wine away from him. She could do nothing that pleased him.

Helen sent another letter a few days after this news. It had been written over several days.

Dear Frederick

My husband is in great pain now. He wants me to be with him all the time. He is terrified of death. I can say nothing to help him.

…There has been a change in Arthur’s health. He is very happy now and feels no pain. But his leg is worse and he is very weak. I know that this is bad.

…The doctor has told Arthur that he is near to death. Arthur is terribly afraid of dying. I cannot write more.

Your sister Helen

Helen’s next letter brought worse news. Lawrence gave it to me and I read it quickly.

Dear Frederick

Esther Hargrave has come to Grassdale. She is taking care of little Arthur. I have to stay with my husband all day and all night.

He fears death. He cannot trust in God. And he cannot think of heaven. Nothing that I say helps him.

The letter stopped suddenly. Then it continued on a new line:

Arthur has gone at last. He is dead. I sat beside him all night, holding his hand. In the early morning, he asked me to pray for him. Then he died. He is now free.

Arthur will be buried on Thursday. Frederick, please come to me quickly. I need your help.

Helen

I gave the letter back to Lawrence.

‘Will you go to her?’ I asked.

‘Yes, my carriage is waiting outside,’ Lawrence replied.

I shook his hand and left the house at once.

As I returned to Linden-Car, I thought again and again about what had happened. Huntingdon was dead. Helen was a widow now. She was free. I thought of her all the time. But did she ever think of me? Would she forget all thoughts of love now that her husband was dead? I did not know.

And then there was another problem. Grassdale now belonged to Helen. She was no longer a poor artist. She was a rich woman. Would she marry me - a simple farmer?

Lawrence stayed at Grassdale for nearly two weeks. He wrote and told me that Helen was very tired. He also told me that she was very unhappy about her husband’s death.

I wanted to know if Helen had spoken about me. But I dared not ask Lawrence. In ten more weeks, Helen and I could write to each other.

Then suddenly at the beginning of February, Helen’s uncle died. She went to Staningley and stayed with her aunt. Her brother went to Mr Maxwell’s funeral. When Lawrence came home to Woodford House, Helen stayed at Staningley.

‘When will Helen return to Grassdale?’ I asked Lawrence.

‘I don’t know,’ he replied, smiling. ‘Why do you ask?’

I thought that he was laughing at me and I did not reply.

I did not see Lawrence again for several weeks. It was June when we met again.

‘Hello, Lawrence,’ I said. ‘I called at Woodford House several times, but you weren’t there.’

‘Well, I’m pleased that we have met now Markham,’ he said. ‘I’m leaving here soon. I’ll be away for a month or two.’

‘Where are you going?’ I asked.

‘First, to Grassdale,’ he replied. ‘Then I’m taking my sister and our aunt to the sea. We all need a holiday.’

Lawrence did not return to his home until the end of August. Helen went back to Staningley with her aunt. I was very disappointed. I did not want to write to her there.

Weeks passed and I did not see Helen, or write to her. And she did not write to me. I thought that she had forgotten me. I tried to forget her, but it was impossible. I loved her! Would I ever see her again?

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