I Go Back
When I woke, the sun was shining. At first, I felt weak and ill. But after a bath and breakfast I felt better.
I was not going to run away. I had a job to do. I was afraid. I had seen and heard terrible things. But I was a young man. And young men forget easily.
I was going back to Eel Marsh House. I was going to look at Mrs Drablow's papers. But not today and not alone.
I wanted some exercise. I told the innkeeper I was going for a long walk.
`Can you ride a bicycle, sir?' he said. `There's a bicycle here you can use.'
I was very pleased. Stella and I often rode bicycles into the country. Yes, an hour or two on a bicycle. That's what I needed! Then tomorrow, I would go back to Eel Marsh House. But not alone.
I decided to talk to Mr Jerome. He probably had a boy who worked in the office. The boy can help me, I thought. Together we will finish the job quickly.
I walked through the town to Mr Jerome's office. He did not look pleased to see me.
`The house is full of papers,' I said. `I must look at them all. I need help.'
A look of fear came into Mr Jerome's face.
`I can't help you, Mr Kipps,' he said quickly. But can your office-boy help me?' I said.
`I don't have an office-boy,' Jerome answered.
'Well, any other boy in the town,' I said. `I'll pay him of course.'
Mr Jerome stood up. His face was white.
`You will find no one to help you! No one!' he shouted.
`I think I understand you, Mr Jerome,' I said. `No one in this town will stay at Eel Marsh House. Everyone is too afraid. Afraid of seeing ...' I stopped.
`The woman in black?' Mr Jerome said. `Yes,' I answered. `I saw her again., 'Where?' he whispered.
`In the graveyard behind Eel Marsh House. But she's not going to stop me - whoever she is - or was!'
I laughed. My laugh did not sound true.
`I must be brave, Mr Jerome,' I added. `I'm not going to run away.’
`That's what I said ...' the little man replied very quietly.
I did not understand him.
`Well, I'11 go back alone,' I said. `Perhaps I'll not see the woman again.'
`I pray that you do not,' Mr Jerome said slowly. `I pray that you do not.'
I went back to the inn. I wrote a letter to Mr Bentley. I told him I wanted to stay for a few days. I said nothing about the woman in black.
Then I took the bicycle and rode off. The weather was perfect for cycling. The wind was cold. But the air was bright and clear.
I decided to ride west, away from the marshes. I was going to ride to the next village and have lunch there.
At the end of the town, I looked to the east. I was looking back to the water of the marshes. The marshes were pulling me back. I knew I had to go back to them. But not now. Not today.
Taking a deep breath, I turned my bicycle. My back was to the marshes now. I cycled away from the marshes along the country road.
Date: 2015-02-03; view: 485