جان رید

مجموعه: کتاب های فوق متوسط / کتاب: لورنا دون / درس 2

کتاب های فوق متوسط

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جان رید

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Chapter 1 John Ridd

My name is John Ridd. My home is in Oare, a village in the county of Somerset, in the south-west of England. My father was a farmer, and we owned a large farm, which had been in our family for hundreds ofyears. We were not rich, but we lived very comfortably.

I was the only boy in our family, and my father wanted me to go to a good school. He sent me to Tiverton School in Devon, the county next to Somerset. It was the largest school in the west of England.

My story begins on 29 November 1673, my twelfth birthday. My friends and I came out of school at five o’clock and saw a long line of horses coming down the road. The horses were carrying gold, and the gold was guarded by soldiers because a famous highwayman was in the area. I was very interested when I heard this; the highwayman, whose name was Tom Faggus, was my cousin.

We all ran to the gate to see the soldiers pass. Just then a man on horseback came round the corner, leading another horse behind him.

‘Have any of you seen John Ridd?’ he asked.

The man was John Fry, a servant at our home. I went forward and spoke to him.

‘John!’ I cried. ‘Why have you come now? School doesn’t finish for another two weeks.’

John Fry turned his eyes away from me.

‘I know that,’ he said. ‘But your mother wants you at home—’

He stopped suddenly, and this frightened me.

‘And Father - how’s Father?’ I asked. ‘He always comes to take me home from school.’

‘Oh - he was too busy to come,’ said John Fry.

He was looking at the ground as he said this, and I knew that something was wrong. I was very worried, but I went with him.

We left Tiverton early the next morning.

It is a long and difficult journey from Tiverton to Oare because the road crosses Exmoor, a large area of high, wild land. There are marshes there, and it is often difficult to find the road. We crossed two rivers, and it was midday when we reached the town of Dulverton. We talked as we travelled, and I knew that John Fry was lying to me about my father. He did not want to tell me why I had to return home from school.

At Dulverton we had lunch in a pub, and afterwards I went outside to wash. A young woman came out of the house and watched me.

‘Come here, little boy,’ she said in a foreign accent. ‘Your eyes are so blue! Your skin is like snow!’

I felt very embarrassed. ‘I’m sorry, madam, I must go,’ I said.

‘Then go, my dear. My name is Benita, and I’m the servant of a great lady. Can you tell me how far it is to the village of Watchet?’

‘Oh, it’s a long way,’ I said, ‘and the road is as bad as the road to Oare.’

‘Oare - is that where you live? I’ll remember that. Perhaps one day I’ll come and look for you there. Now please fill this glass with water for my lady.’

I filled the glass and she went back inside.

John Fry and I started our journey again about an hour later.

After we had travelled some distance, we passed a big carriage with six horses going up a hill. In the carriage I saw the servant that I had met outside the pub. There was also a woman with a lovely, kind face and a pretty little girl with wonderful dark hair. I took off my hat to them, and the woman waved her hand to me.

We did not see them again because we turned off onto a side road and rode over the moor. The road got worse and worse, and soon there was none at all. Thick mist came down and we could not see beyond our horses’ heads. When the mist cleared for a moment, I saw a terrible sight. A man was hanging from the tree in front of me. My heart felt cold with fear.

‘Who’s that hanging from the tree?’ I asked. ‘Have they hanged one of the Doones, John?’

‘Hanged one of the Doones!’ said John. ‘Don’t be so stupid!

Even the king wouldn’t dare to hang one of the Doones. No, that’s only a thief called Red Jem.’

We continued our journey. I wanted to know more about the thief.

‘Who was Red Jem?’ I asked.

‘Be quiet!’ he said. ‘We’re near the Doones’ path now. It’s the highest place on the moor. If they’re out tonight, we must go quietly.’

The Doones! Thieves, murderers and outlaws, the Doones of Bagworthy were hated and feared by everyone in Devon and Somerset. My legs began to shake.

‘But, John,’ I whispered, ‘they won’t see us in this thick mist, will they?’

‘They can see through any mist,’ said John. ‘God never made a mist thick enough to stop their eyes. Now go quietly, boy, if you want to live to see your mother.’

We rode down the side of a deep valley and up the other side.

Then I heard a frightening noise. It was the sound of horses’ feet and the breathing of tired men.

‘Get off your horse,’ said John in a low voice. ‘Let the horse go free.’

We lay down on the ground behind a small tree on the hillside. I saw the first horseman pass on the path below me.

Suddenly the mist cleared and a red light appeared.

‘That’s the fire on Dunkery Hill,’ said John in my ear. ‘They light it to show the Doones the way home.’

I lay only a few feet above the heads of the riders. They were big, heavy men, more than thirty of them, with long boots and leather jackets, and they carried guns. Their horses were carrying the things that they had stolen. I could see cups made of silver and gold, bags, boxes and dead sheep.

One man had a child lying across his horse. The child wore a beautiful dress, and it shone in the firelight. I felt very sad when I saw this, and I wondered what would happen to the child.

When the men had gone, we continued our journey, silent and shocked. At last we reached the house, but my father did not come to meet me. At first, I thought that perhaps he had guests.

But then, I don’t know how, I understood. I went away to hide, to be alone. I did not want to hear it.

After some time, I heard the sound of weeping. Then my mother and sister appeared, holding each other. I could not look at them, and turned away.

My father was dead. He had been killed by the Doones.

He was riding home from market with five other farmers.

Suddenly a Doone had appeared in front of them, and demanded all their money. The five farmers began to look for their money, but my father had attacked the robber with his stick.

Then twelve more of the Doones appeared and attacked my father. He struck down three of them, but one man, Carver Doone, had a gun and shot my father. The next morning my father was found dead on the moor with his stick under him.

My father was dead, and now I had to be the man of the family. My mother was very shocked by my father’s death, but I knew that she would be able to manage the farm. But legally, the farm was mine, and my mother and my two sisters, Annie and little Lizzie, were my responsibility.

I must explain who the Doones were, and how they came to Bagworthy.

In the year 1640, two men owned a large amount of land in the north ofEngland. One was a very clever man called Sir Ensor Doone; the other was his cousin, Lord Lorne. The two men owned the land together, and each man received half of the money that came from it. But Lord Lorne decided that he did not want the money; he wanted half the land. Sir Ensor refused to give it to him. They went to the courts of law in London and asked a judge to make a decision. The judge decided that the land did not belong to either of them.

Although Lord Lome lost a lot of money, he was still rich. But the judge’s decision made Sir Ensor a poor man, and he became very angry. I do not know exactly what he did, but it was something very violent and wrong. Some people say that he killed someone.

The courts made Sir Ensor an outlaw. So he searched for the wildest part of England that he could find. In Bagworthy, on Exmoor, he found a valley with high walls of rock all around it, and he decided to live there.

When he arrived, Sir Ensor had only twelve people with him, including his wife and sons. But, as time passed, others joined him. At first, the Doones lived peacefully and did not harm anyone. The farmers and country people knew Sir Ensor’s story and were sorry for him. But then the Doones began to steal from the farmers and from travellers on the roads, and if a man fought them, he was killed. All the Doones were taught to shoot when they were children. People started to hate and fear the Doones, but they did not dare to attack them.

I was only a boy when my father died, but I took my father’s gun and taught myself to shoot with it. I had a secret plan. One day, when I was older, I intended to kill the man who had killed my father. I intended to kill Carver Doone.

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