فصل 06

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فصل 06

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Chapter six

I Go Back

When I woke, the sun was shining. At first, I felt weak and ill. But after a bath and breakfast I felt better.

I was not going to run away. I had a job to do. I was afraid. I had seen and heard terrible things. But I was a young man. And young men forget easily.

I was going back to Eel Marsh House. I was going to look at Mrs Drablow’s papers. But not today and not alone.

I wanted some exercise. I told the innkeeper I was going for a long walk.

‘Can you ride a bicycle, sir?’ he said. ‘There’s a bicycle here you can use.’

I was very pleased. Stella and I often rode bicycles into the country. Yes, an hour or two on a bicycle. That’s what I needed! Then tomorrow, I would go back to Eel Marsh House. But not alone.

I decided to talk to Mr Jerome. He probably had a boy who worked in the office. The boy can help me, I thought. Together we will finish the job quickly.

I walked through the town to Mr Jerome’s office. He did not look pleased to see me.

‘The house is full of papers,’ I said. ‘I must look at them all. I need help.’

A look of fear came into Mr Jerome’s face.

‘I can’t help you, Mr Kipps,’ he said quickly.

‘But can your office-boy help me?’

I said.

‘I don’t have an office-boy,’ Jerome answered.

‘Well, any other boy in the town,’ I said. ‘I’ll pay him of course.’

Mr Jerome stood up. His face was white.

‘You will find no one to help you! No one!’ he shouted.

‘I think I understand you, Mr Jerome,’ I said. No one in this town will stay at Eel Marsh House. Everyone is too afraid. Afraid of seeing…’ I stopped.

‘The woman in black?’ Mr Jerome said.

‘Yes,’ I answered. ‘I saw her again.’

‘Where?’ he whispered.

‘In the graveyard behind Eel Marsh House. But she’s not going to stop me - whoever she is - or was!’

I laughed. My laugh did not sound true.

‘I must be brave, Mr Jerome,’ I added. ‘I’m not going to run away.’

‘That’s what I said…’ the little man replied very quietly.

I did not understand him.

‘Well, I’ll go back alone,’ I said. ‘Perhaps I’ll not see the woman again.’

‘I pray that you do not,’ Mr Jerome said slowly. ‘I pray that you do not.’

I went back to the inn. I wrote a letter to Mr Bentley. I told him I wanted to stay for a few days. I said nothing about the woman in black.

Then I took the bicycle and rode off. The weather was perfect for cycling. The wind was cold. But the air was bright and clear.

I decided to ride west, away from the marshes. I was going to ride to the next village and have lunch there.

At the end of the town, I looked to the east. I was looking back to the water of the marshes. The marshes were pulling me back. I knew I had to go back to them. But not now. Not today.

Taking a deep breath, I turned my bicycle. My back was to the marshes now. I cycled away from the marshes along the country road.

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