فصل 07

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فصل 07

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Chapter seven

Dinner with Mr Daily

I rode back to Crythin Gifford about four hours later. I was feeling happier. Eel Marsh House did not frighten me now. I knew I was brave enough to go there alone. The sea-mist and loneliness of the place had frightened me. How silly I had been to be afraid! That would not happen again.

I turned the corner into the town square. A big car was coming towards me. I stopped quickly. But I almost fell off the bicycle.

The car slowed down and stopped. Mr Samuel Daily looked out of the window.

‘How are you, young man?’ he called.

‘Fine,’ I said. ‘I’ve had a good ride. I feel hungry and I’m looking forward to my dinner tonight!’

‘And what about your business? Have you been out to the house?’

‘Yes, of course,’ I answered. ‘It won’t take me long.’ Mr Daily looked at me for a few moments. He said nothing.

‘I’m enjoying the work,’ I went on quickly. ‘It’s all very interesting. But there are many papers to look at.’ Mr Daily went on staring at me.

‘Mr Kipps,’ he said, ‘those are brave words. But I don’t believe them. Come to my house for dinner tonight. The innkeeper knows where I live.’

He sat back and the car drove on.

Mr Daily’s words did not make me change my mind. I was going back to Eel Marsh House.

I went shopping in the town. I bought tea, coffee and bread. Then a large torch and rubber boots. I wanted to be ready for anything at Eel Marsh House.

I told the innkeeper what I was going to do.

‘Tomorrow,’ I said, ‘I am going to go to Eel Marsh House. I am going to stay there for two nights. Can I use your bicycle?’

The innkeeper nodded. He said nothing. But he looked at me sadly.

In the evening, I cycled out to the Dailys’ house. It was a very large house. Mr Daily was clearly a rich man.

Mr Daily and his wife gave me a friendly welcome. The food and drink were very good. All through dinner, Samuel Daily talked about himself. He had worked hard all his life. Now he owned land and houses.

I told him about Stella and our plans for the future.

After dinner, Mrs Daily left us. Until then, Mr Daily had not spoken about Mrs Drablow or Eel Marsh House.

He filled my glass and his own with wine.

‘You’re a fool to go on with it,’ he said.

I knew what he meant.

‘I’ve got a job to do, Mr Daily,’ I said. ‘And I want to do it well.’

‘Listen to me, Arthur,’ Daily said. ‘There are stories about that place. Stories I’m not going to tell you. You’ll hear them from other people. Perhaps you’ve heard them already. You’ve been out to the house, haven’t you?’

‘Yes, I’ve been there,’ I answered. ‘And I heard and saw things. Things I cannot understand.’

And then I told him everything.

Mr Daily listened carefully, but said nothing.

‘I think the woman in black is a ghost,’ I said. She made me afraid. She has the power to make people afraid. But that is all. She did me no harm.’

‘And what about the pony and trap? The child’s cry?’ Daily asked.

‘Yes, I thought to myself, the child’s cry was the worst of all. But I did not say that to Mr Daily.

‘I’m not running away,’ I said.

‘You shouldn’t go back,’ Daily said.

‘I must.’

‘Then don’t go alone.’

‘No one will go with me,’ I answered. ‘I’ll be all right. After all, Mrs Drablow lived there alone for sixty years!’

‘Alone? I wonder,’ Mr Daily said. He stood up. It was time for me to go. A servant brought my coat. When the man had left, Daily said, ‘Are you really going back to that house?’

‘I am,’ I answered.

‘Then if you must go, take a dog,’ Daily said.

I laughed. ‘I haven’t got a dog!’ I said.

‘But I have a dog,’ Daily answered. You can take her with you now.’

We walked out of the house together.

‘Wait here a moment,’ Daily said.

He walked round to the back of the house. I stood there smiling. I liked dogs. I was happy to have a dog with me in that empty old house.

After a few moments, Daily returned with a bright-eyed little dog.

‘Take her,’ he said. ‘Bring her back when you’ve finished.’

‘What’s her name?’

‘Spider.’

Hearing her name, the little dog wagged her tail.

‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘Come on, girl. Come on, Spider!’

I began to walk away. The dog did not move. She looked at Daily.

‘Go on, girl,’ he said. Spider ran over to me at once. Waving goodbye, I got on my bicycle. Then, with Spider running behind me, I rode back to the town.

I felt happy. Happy and safe. I was looking forward to the morning.

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