فصل 05

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فصل 05

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER FIVE

Two middle-aged ladies were sitting in the small lounge of a hotel in Casablanca. Mrs Baker, short and round, with blue-tinted hair, was writing letters. She was an energetic woman who loved to talk - a typical American travelling abroad.

Miss Hetherington, who was obviously English, was knitting a shapeless-looking jumper. She was tall and thin with badly-styled hair and a disappointed expression.

The two ladies had been staying at the hotel for a few days and had got to know each other. They both looked up as they saw a tall woman with red hair walk past the door of the lounge.

‘Did you see that woman with red hair?’ whispered Mrs Baker. ‘They say she’s the only survivor of that terrible plane crash last week.’

‘I saw her arrive this afternoon,’ said Miss Hetherington. ‘She came straight from hospital in an ambulance.’

‘The hotel manager told me she had concussion,’ continued Mrs Baker. ‘I see her face was bandaged. Poor thing. I wonder if she was travelling with her husband?’

‘I don’t think so,’ said Miss Hetherington. ‘In the newspaper it said she was travelling alone. Her name is Mrs Betterton, I believe. Now where have I heard that name before?’

Looking pale and ill, with her face bandaged, Mrs Betterton had arrived at the hotel, where the manager showed her to her room. When he had gone, Hilary lay down on the bed, thinking that Olive Betterton would need to rest.

Olive Betterton’s passport now had Hilary’s photo on it and her signature was in Hilary’s handwriting. Everything was organized. But there were no letters or messages for her at the hotel reception desk, and all Olive Betterton’s tickets and travel plans were now out of date.

The real Olive Betterton, however, had been in a plane crash. If Hilary forgot any instructions or things she had to do next, she could blame the concussion. All she could do now was to wait and see if anything happened.

In the evening, Hilary went downstairs to the hotel dining room. People stared at her and whispered, obviously talking about the accident. After dinner Hilary sat in the lounge and picked up a magazine. She wondered if anyone would talk to her. There were one or two other women sitting in the room, and soon a small, middle-aged woman with blue-tinted hair moved to sit near her. ‘Please excuse me,’ the woman said in a pleasant voice with an American accent, ‘but are you the woman who escaped from that plane crash?’

Hilary put down her magazine. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I am.’

‘That crash was terrible!’ the woman said. ‘Can I ask, Miss - Mrs…’

‘Betterton,’ said Hilary.

‘Can I ask, Mrs Betterton, if you were sitting in the front or the back of the plane?’

Hilary knew the answer to this question. ‘Near the back,’ she said.

‘Did you hear that, Miss Hetherington?’ said the woman, turning to include another middle-aged lady in the conversation. ‘They do say the back of the plane is the safest place to be.

I won’t sit near the front again. Let me introduce myself,’ the woman continued. ‘My name is Mrs Baker and this is Miss Hetherington.’

Hilary politely said hello. ‘I’ve been travelling round Morocco,’ Mrs Baker continued. ‘Are you planning to visit Marrakesh, Mrs Betterton?’

‘Yes, I am,’ said Hilary. ‘But I need to rebook my tickets.’

‘Marrakesh is very expensive,’ said Miss Hetherington. ‘Though I have heard of a nice hotel there - very clean and with good food.’

‘Where else are you going, Mrs Betterton?’ asked Mrs Baker.

‘I would like to see Fez,’ said Hilary carefully. ‘Have you been there?’

‘Not yet. But I’m planning to go there soon, and so is Miss Hetherington,’ said Mrs Baker. ‘I believe the old city is well worth seeing.’

After the three women had talked a while longer, Hilary said she was tired and went upstairs to her room. Had she achieved anything? She wasn’t sure. The two women she had just talked to seemed so normal, such typical travellers. She would see if anything happened tomorrow.

The next morning there were still no letters or messages, so Hilary decided to go to the travel agency to rebook her tickets. After waiting in the queue, she finally reached the front desk and told the clerk her name.

Ah yes, Madame Betterton,’ said the clerk. ‘We received your telephone message and I have all your new tickets and travel plans ready for you.’

Hilary was excited. She hadn’t phoned the travel agency. This was a definite sign that Olive Betterton’s travel plans had been arranged by someone else. Outside, Hilary looked carefully at her new tickets, and saw that she was booked to leave for Fez the next day.

Back at the hotel, Hilary didn’t see Mrs Baker again, and though she did see Miss Hetherington, she didn’t speak to her. And the next day Hilary left by train for Fez.

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