فصل 09

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فصل 09

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  • زمان مطالعه 11 دقیقه
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Chapter nine

Behind the Door

The morning was cold and wet. The sky was covered with thick clouds. It was raining.

I was very tired. But after breakfast, I felt better. I went back to the locked door. I stood and listened. But I heard nothing.

At nine o’clock, I rode back along the causeway on the bicycle. Spider ran beside me.

There was a letter from Stella at the Gifford Arms inn. Her loving words made me feel very happy. In two or three more days we would be together again.

I walked round the town, buying more food. Then I rode back along the causeway. I was back at Eel Marsh House in time for lunch.

The clouds were thicker now. The sea-mist was coming in over the marshes.

Inside the house, it was already dark. I put on all the lights. But the house stayed dark and shadowy. My fears returned. I decided to go back to the town.

I went outside. There was some mist around the house. But I was able to see the causeway. However, it was completely covered by water. I could not return to Crythin Gifford that day.

So I whistled to Spider. She ran to me quickly. We both went back inside the house. I emptied papers from more cupboards. I started work again.

I worked hard for several hours. I found a packet of letters tied together. They looked interesting.

After supper, I sat down by the fire and opened the packet.

There were some papers and some letters. The letters were all in the same handwriting. They were signed ‘Jennet’ or ‘J’. I remembered the gravestone I had seen. It was in the graveyard at the back of Eel Marsh House. One of the names on that gravestone had been Jennet! Was this the same Jennet?

There were dates on the letters. The letters had been written sixty years ago. Each letter began with the words, ‘Dearest Alice’. Alice was Mrs Drablow’s first name. All the letters were written to Mrs Alice Drablow.’

I looked through them quickly. Jennet was Mrs Drablow’s younger sister.

I began to read the letters carefully. They were short and in simple language. They told a sad story.

Jennet was unmarried, but she was going to have a child. The child’s father refused to marry Jennet and he left the country. Jennet did not know what to do. Her family refused to help her.

Then the child was born - a boy. For a few months, there were no letters. Then Jennet began writing again. And now her letters were full of anger.

The child is mine, Jennet wrote. I will never give him to strangers.

But Jennet was unmarried. She was poor and she could not keep the child. At last, she had to agree that Alice could take the boy.

In her last letter, Jennet wrote:

Love him, Alice. Love him as your own child. But remember, he is mine - mine! He can never be yours. Forgive me. My heart is breaking.

Poor Jennet, I thought. What a sad story! I began to look at the other papers. The first one was from a solicitor’s office.

The paper was about a boy called Nathaniel. Nathaniel was the son of Jennet Humfrye. Nathaniel had been adopted by Thomas and Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House.

Alice Drablow was Jennet Humfrye’s married sister. Nathaniel had been given the name Drablow.

So the child, Nathaniel Drablow, had lived here, I thought. Away from the mother who loved him.

I thought for a few moments about Jennet Humfrye and her sad life. Then I picked up the next paper.

At that moment, Spider growled. The little dog was standing at the door. Every hair on her body was stiff with fear.

I sat there for a few moments, frozen with fright. Then I stood up. If this was a ghost, I must face it.

I made myself walk to the door. I opened it. Spider rushed out of the room and up the stairs. I heard her run along the passage. She stopped. I knew she had stopped outside the locked door!

I heard the sound again. Bump. Bump. Bump.

I knew what I must do. I must open that door. There was an axe in the wood-shed. I must get that axe.

Taking my torch, I stepped outside the house. It was very dark. But I found the wood-shed. And the axe.

As I was walking back, I heard the sound of the pony and trap. It came from the front of the house. Had Keckwick come back for me?

No one was there, no one at all. I could still hear the pony and trap. But now the sound was coming from the marshes.

I stood there, Spider beside me. I was terribly afraid. Again, I heard the sounds of the water and the mud. I heard the pony shriek. I heard the child’s awful cry. And then, silence.

I was shaking now. My mouth was dry with fear. I had heard these sounds before. The pony and child were not alive. I knew this. A pony and trap and all the people in it had sunk beneath the water.

Spider began to howl and howl. I put down the axe and the torch and picked up the little dog. I carried her into the house. She was afraid and so was I.

After a few moments, the dog jumped out of my arms. She ran upstairs, towards the locked door. I hurried outside, picked up the axe and torch and followed her.

The sound was louder now. When I reached the door, I saw why. The door of the locked room was open - wide open. I thought I was going to die of fear.

The dog ran inside the room. The bumping sound went on. And now I remembered. I knew what the sound was.

When I was a child, my mother had a rocking-chair. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep. Then my mother held me in her arms. She sat in the chair and rocked me back and forwards.

Bump. Bump. Bump. That was the sound made by the rocking- chair on the floor.

I was no longer afraid. The sound meant peace and rest.

There was evil in that room. I knew that. But it had gone away. Perhaps it was my happy thoughts. They had driven the evil away from that place. Holding the torch in front of me, I walked into the room.

I pressed the light switch. Nothing happened. But my torch was powerful. I shone the bright torch round the room.

The room had been a child’s bedroom. There was a small bed in one corner. A tall rocking-chair stood in front of the fireplace. The chair was rocking gently.

But there was no one there. The room was empty. No one had passed me in the passage. There was no other door. I shone my torch at the window. It was shut. There were two wooden bars across it. The chair stopped moving. There was complete silence.

The little room was clean and tidy. There were sheets and pillows on the bed. I opened a chest and a cupboard. They were both full of clothes. Clothes for a boy of six or seven. The clothes were beautifully made. But they were old-fashioned clothes - clothes of sixty years ago.

The room was full of children’s toys. They were neat and tidy. There was no dust on them at all.

I saw toy soldiers and a sailing-ship. There were games, paints and books. All things that little boys love.

They had been here for sixty years. But everything was neat, tidy and clean.

There was nothing frightening in this room. Only a feeling of sadness - a feeling of something lost I felt sad, very sad.

I went slowly out of the room. Spider followed and I closed the door. I felt too tired to do any more work.

I had a hot drink and went upstairs. The door to the child’s bedroom was still closed. Everything was quiet. I went into my bedroom and closed the door.

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