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فصل 06

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Never again

The next day started uneventfully. It was only after lunch, when Corrie and Sarah were sitting in the kitchen, that things started to go wrong again.

Sarah sat staring, completely lost in her own thoughts again, her eyes empty. Then suddenly, she began to sing.

‘All things bright and beautiful.

All creatures great and small.

All things wise and wonderful.

The Lord God made them all…’

Her voice was high and very shaky on the top notes. And she sang the words of the old Sunday school hymn very deliberately, rolling the ‘r’s and pronouncing all the final consonants. It was a strange, almost crazy performance.

Sarah suddenly looked straight at Corrie and ordered her to sing too: ‘Come on now. All together…’ And she began to sing again. All things bright and beautiful. Come on, dear, all together. Join in. Come on.’

Corrie, who had never heard the words or the tune of this hymn before, didn’t know what to do.

‘Come on, dear. It’s a lovely hymn. We used to sing it at Sunday school. Come on…’

And she sang the first verse again, conducting wildly, with her arms spread wide, like some crazy old bird flapping its wings. She moved on to the second verse.

‘Come on, you can do better than that,’ she told Corrie.

‘Each little flower that opens.

Each little bird that sings.

He made their glowing colours.

He made their tiny wings.’

Corrie tried her best to sing along, but Sarah was clearly not satisfied with her efforts.

‘Back to the chorus,’ she said, and waved her arms even more wildly. ‘All things bright and beautiful-‘

And that wasn’t the end of it. Sarah went on and on, repeating the verses over and over again. Corrie began to wonder if she would ever stop singing.

The week went on and somehow Corrie got used to the old woman and her crazy talk. At times Sarah would act quite normally. But other times she would refuse to eat her food, or throw it on the floor. One morning she woke up and refused to get out of bed. Often she would ask Corrie about her father and mother as if they were still alive. Sometimes she seemed not to recognise Kate, or she thought that Corrie was her daughter. Luckily, Corrie was a patient and kind person, so somehow they got through the week.

On Wednesday evening after supper, Kate asked Corrie again, ‘How do you think Mother is now?’

‘Madam, I think she very old and maybe she got problem with her memory. But she a nice lady, I think. Maybe she need her family with her.’

‘Yes, well it would be nice, I know, but we haven’t got the time to be with her all day - we’re so busy. Anyway, she’ll be going home soon.’

In fact Kate had hardly spoken to her mother. She left for work each morning before Sarah was up and only got back in time to say goodnight to her.

Kate was about to go up to bed when she remembered something. Hugh had called her from New York and wanted her to prepare a special dinner party on Friday evening again for his business friends. But this time, he wanted it to be at home so it would be more informal and private.

‘Oh, Corrie, we have six people coming to dinner on Friday. We’ll talk about the food tomorrow, but can you manage to feed Mother early and make sure she’s back in her room before the guests arrive?’

‘Yes, madam, I will do my best,’ said Corrie, though she wondered how she would manage to look after the old lady and cook the dinner too.

Hugh got back on Thursday evening. He slept late on Friday morning, then went off to play golf. Kate was glad he wouldn’t be around, in case he met her mother. He’d obviously forgotten all about her. And Corrie felt grateful that she wouldn’t have to cook him lunch. It was always difficult to please him, and he usually found something he didn’t like about her cooking, though everyone else always praised her skill as a cook. She didn’t like Hugh. She thought he wasn’t a nice man at all.

After she had taken Sarah her breakfast, Corrie went down to the kitchen to start preparing the evening meal for the guests. At lunchtime, she took up a light meal to Sarah’s room, but Sarah wasn’t there. Kate was working at home in her study so Corrie went to tell her, and together they started to look for Sarah. They looked all over the house, but didn’t find her. After half an hour, they were both feeling very worried. Then, by chance, Corrie looked out of the window in Sarah’s room and saw her at the bottom of the garden, right next to the river. They ran out of the house and down to the river - just in time to see Sarah standing in the river, with the water up to her knees.

‘Hello,’ she said. ‘Isn’t, it a lovely day? Shall we all go for a swim?’

Somehow, they managed to get Sarah out of the river and back to her room. Corrie gave her a hot bath and put her back to bed.

‘Wasn’t that lovely, dear?’ said Sarah, and immediately fell asleep.

But in the afternoon she woke up and started her crazy singing again. Kate had gone out, so it was Corrie who had to go up to her room with some tea and biscuits to try to calm her down. Sarah went on singing the same hymn she had sung earlier… but much, much louder this time.

Corrie was starting to feel worried because she still hadn’t finished preparing for Kate’s dinner party. Eventually, over half an hour later, Sarah stopped singing, and without saying a word, went back to bed and fell asleep again. Corrie sighed with relief, and began to lay the table in the big dining room.

Corrie served Sarah a light supper on a tray in her room, then left her to make the final dinner preparations.

‘Where are you going, dear?’

‘I have to prepare some things for Kate,’ Corrie replied.

‘Oh, I can help you, dear,’ said Sarah.

‘No, no. No need, thank you,’ said Corrie, terrified at what might happen if Sarah came downstairs.

‘Oh, all right then. I think I shall have another bath.’

The guests began arriving at seven thirty. Hugh served drinks in the lounge, then everyone went through into the dining room. This was an important business dinner for Hugh. He was hoping to get someone else to sign up for his new investment fund. This time, the Clerides and the Mazumdars were joined by an English couple - the Manninghams. Clive Manningham had been at Oxford University with Hugh, so they knew each other well. All the ladies were dressed in expensive clothes again, and Melpa Clerides was looking especially wonderful. Like a film star, Kate thought a little jealously - Melpa seemed so much more elegant than she did.

Getting all these important people together in the same place at the same time hadn’t been easy to arrange, so Hugh really wanted everything to go well. Then, just as the guests were sitting down, the dining room door flew open, and Sarah stood in the doorway. She was wearing bright red lipstick, lots of eye make-up… and her nightdress.

‘I’m so sorry to keep you waiting,’ she said in her ‘best’ voice. ‘I’m truly very happy to see you all here. Please do make yourselves at home. Just like old times. Now, shall we have a little sing-song?’

And she started to sing ‘All things bright and beautiful’ in a very loud voice, conducting wildly, and encouraging the guests to join in.

Hugh, of course, was furious. ‘Get her out of here!’ he said to Kate in an angry voice.

After some confusion, in which a couple of wine glasses were broken and some dishes knocked on to the floor, they managed to lead her out of the room, and back upstairs. But Hugh’s dinner party was ruined, at least for him. The guests didn’t seem to mind; they just found it amusing. Everything soon returned to normal, and everyone enjoyed the excellent dinner that Corrie had prepared. But for Hugh it felt like the end of the world.

‘Just get her out of this house and never bring her back! Do you understand? Never!’ Hugh shouted as soon as their guests had gone. Kate followed him through to the lounge. He suddenly turned on her, his face still red with anger.

‘I want her out of here by tomorrow. That mad old woman has ruined my business deal and made us both look like idiots in front of those people. How can I ever invite them again?’

‘I know it was bad, darling, but it wasn’t that bad. In fact, I think they all thought it was quite funny. Their wives too. I’m sure it won’t ruin your business deal. These are grown-up people - surely they won’t hold it against you.’

‘I’m not so sure. That crazy old woman made us look like idiots. If I look like an idiot, maybe they’ll think I am an idiot. You don’t know how these people’s minds work.’

‘Anyway, I’m sorry it happened,’ said Kate. ‘And of course Mother can’t stay here. It was a bad idea. I should have known it wouldn’t work. Something I didn’t tell you was that she walked into the river this afternoon. She could have drowned. If she can do that, goodness knows what else she might do. It wouldn’t be safe to have her here. I’ll call Jan in the morning and tell her I’ll be taking Mother back to Lewisham tomorrow. She won’t like it, but it’s too bad. We have our own lives to lead.’

“That’s the least you can do after what’s happened,’ replied Hugh.

‘Now I’ll have to start trying to pick up the pieces. I’ll have to call everyone tomorrow and try to calm things down. Let’s hope my partners don’t walk away from the investment fund now that we’ve got so far with it.’

‘I’m sure it will all pass. No-one will even remember it in a month from now. People easily forget these things.’

‘I hope you’re right. Now I think of it, maybe it would have been better if your mother had kept walking into the river… that would have been one less problem for us to think about.’

‘Hugh! How can you say such a thing? She may be a nuisance, but no-one wants her dead.’

‘Are you so sure?’ said Hugh roughly. ‘I’m pretty sure your sister Jan wouldn’t mind losing her.’

‘Let’s leave Jan out of this, shall we? I’ll have enough to do explaining to her why we can’t keep Mother here.’

‘All right, but sometimes I think it would be better to get rid of people like your mother. They’re no use to anyone and it costs the country millions of dollars to keep them alive.’

‘OK, Hugh, that’s enough. I’m tired. I want to go to bed - it’s been a busy week.’ Kate walked to the door, then paused. ‘Oh, by the way, where did you go today? When I was putting your things away, I noticed your golf shoes were clean - there was no dirt on them at all. I thought you were supposed to be playing golf.’

There was an uncomfortable silence.

‘Well, no, actually,’ said Hugh. ‘I wanted to play, but on the way to the club I got a call from Macey. He wanted me to meet him in the office. Something urgent.’

‘I thought you were taking the day off since you’d just got back from the States? Are you sure?’

‘Of course I’m sure. What are you suggesting? Macey was right to call me too. We could have lost a lot of money. I spent most of the day with him trying to sort it out. I can’t afford any problems with this new fund all ready to start up.’

Kate had a strange feeling. Perhaps Hugh was telling her the truth, but perhaps he wasn’t. His story didn’t sound quite right. Where could he have been if he wasn’t playing golf and wasn’t at work? But she felt too tired to argue.

‘Anyway, goodnight, darling,’ she said as she kissed him lightly on the cheek and went towards the stairs. As she went up the stairs, she heard the usual pop of a cork from a bottle, and the sound of whisky being poured. Things weren’t right between her and Hugh. He seemed more and more like a stranger to her. Things couldn’t go on like this.

They must have a proper talk soon, she decided.

The following morning, Kate called Jan.

‘I’m sorry, Jan. It won’t work. I’m driving Mother back home this morning. Maybe you could be there when she arrives. I’m sorry. Don’t say anything. I know all the arguments, but she can’t stay here. She just can’t. That’s final.’

Jan swore under her breath and put the phone down. They were back to square one, back to where they had started.

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