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متن انگلیسی درس

Chapter 6 The Painting of — ngley Hall

(from The Mezzotint)

Mr S.Williams was a collector of paintings, and his special interest was pictures of old English country houses, English churches and country towns. One day, he received a price list from Mr Britnall’s shop, where he often bought paintings. With the list was a note from Mr Hritnall himself, saying that he thought painting number 978 might interest Mr Williams. Although the price seemed rather high, the description of number 978 made Mr Williams keen to see it. He decided to order it at once.

The painting arrived a few days later and Mr Williams tore off the paper, teeling quite excited. What he found was an ordinary picture of a large country house from the century before. The house had three rows of windows, there were tall trees on either side and a garden in front. The letters A.W.F. were in a corner of the painting, probably for the name of the artist. On the back of the picture was a piece of paper, torn in half, with the words ‘—ngley Hall, —ssex’ on it. He could not see anything very special about the picture and could not understand why Mr Britnall thought he would like it or why the price was so high.

He decided to_scnd it back to the shop the next day.

That evening, a good friend, John Garwood, came to

Williams’s house and noticed the painting. ‘A new one, eh, Williams? Mmm … I rather like it. The light is very good and I rather like this person at the front,’ he said.

‘A person?’ said Williams, coming closer. ‘Oh yes, so there is! I didn’t notice it before.’ Only the head of the person could be seen. It was impossible to say whether it was a man or a woman, but it was standing under the dark trees at one side of the picture, looking at the house. ‘And I suppose the light is quite good,’

Williams went on. ‘I still feel it’s a bit expensive, though. I was going to send it back tomorrow.’

Soon afterwards, the two men went out to dinner with some of their friends from the university and later Williams invited some of them back to his house for a drink. O n e of them, w h o was also interested in art, noticed the new painting. ‘Quite interesting,’ he said, ‘but don’t you find it ratheer horrible, Williams? The light is good, but that person standing in front of the house is rather frightening.’

Williams was too busy pouring drinks to look at the painting just then, but later, on his way to bed, he looked at it again and was amazed to see that the person in the picture was now right in front of the house, not to one side under the trees. The person seemed to be on their hands and knees, moving towards the house. He or she looked extremely thin and was dressed all in black, except for a white cross on the back.

‘Am I going mad?’ W’illiams asked himself. He decided to lock me picture in a cupboard but did not want to go straight to bed.

‘I’ll write down everything that has happened to the picture since it arrived here. The n in the morning 1 won’t think this is all a dream,’ he thought to himself. And that is what he did. He found it very difficult to sleep that night, and the next morning he decided to ask another friend, Nisbet to come and look at the painting.

‘I want you to tell me exactly what you see in the picture, in detail,’ he said to Nisbct, showing him the painting. ‘I’ll explain why afterwards.’

“Well, I can sec a country house - English, I think — by moonlight. . . ‘ began Nisbet.

‘Moonlight?’ interrupted Williams. ‘Are you sure? There was no moon there when 1 first got it.’

Nisbet looked at his friend strangely. ‘Shall I continue? The house has one - two -three rows of windows . . . ‘ ‘But what about people?’ interrupted Williams again.

‘No one at all,’ said Nisbet. ‘But what is all this about.

Williams?’

‘I’ll explain in a moment,’ answered Williams. ‘Can you see anything more?’

‘Well, let me see, the only other interesting detail is that one of the windows on the ground floor is open,’ said Nisbet.

‘My goodness!’ Williams shouted. ‘It’s inside the house now.’

He rushed across the room to see for himself. Sure enough, Nisbet’s description was correct. Williams went to his desk and wrote quickly for a minute or two. Then he brought two pieces of paper over to Nisbet. The first was a description of the painting as it was at that moment, which Nisbet signed. The second was Williams’s description of the painting on the night before, which Nisbet read but did not believe.

‘This is the strangest thing I’ve ever heard or seen,’ said Nisbet.

‘The first thing we must do is take a photograph of the painting before it changes again. Then we should try to find out where this place is in England. I feel there is something strange and terrible happening there.

‘Yes, and I also want to ask John Garwood to write a description of what he saw when he looked at the painting last night. We could only just see the person then, under the trees over on this side of the house,’ said Williams, pointing at one side of the picture.

John Garwood came over immediately and, while he was writing his description, Nisbet photographed the painting. Then the three friends decided to go for a walk.’Perhaps it will help us to think more clearly,’ said Nisbet.

They returned to Williams’s house at about five o’clock in the afternoon and were surprised to find Williams’s servant. Robert.

sitting and staring at the painting. When the three men entered, he jumped to his feet in embarrassment.

‘I must apologize for sitting in your chair, sir,’ he said to Williams. ‘But I couldn’t stop looking at this picture.’

‘Please don’t apologize, Robert. What do you think of the painting? I’m interested to hear your opinion,’ said Williams.

‘Well, sir. It’s not the sort of painting I would let my young daughter look at. She’s very easily frightened and I think this strange, thin person carrying a baby would give her bad dreams.’

The three men said nothing. They waited for Robert to go. As soon as the door closed, they rushed to the painting. Robert was right. The strange, bony person was now back in the picture, walking away from the house and, in its long, thin arms was a baby.

For two hours the three men sat and watched the picture, but it did not change again. They went to have dinner. After dinner they came back again and by now the person was gone and the house looked quiet and calm again in the moonlight.

They decided to read through books on Essex and Sussex to find —ngley Hall. It was hard work, but many hours later, in a Guide to Essex, Williams found the following information: ‘The village of Anningley has an interesting twelfth-century church and next to the church, in a beautiful park, stands Anningley Hall, which used to be the country home of the Francis family. No members of this family are now living; the last baby boy of the family disappeared mysteriously in the middle of a September night in 1802. Nobody could discover who took the baby but people suspected that it was a member of the Gawdy fanuly. Some time before the baby disappeared, Tom Gawdy was caught stealing by Sir John Francis, the father of the child, and Gawdy was hanged for his crime. People say that the Gawdy family wanted revenge and that they took it by stealing the last child of the Francis family.’

‘Well, it does seem that they got their revenge, if the story of our painting is true, doesn’t it?’ said Williams.

The painting has not changed again since then. It now hangs in the museum at Anningley, in Essex.

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