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متن انگلیسی فصل
But I was not able to see Lorna again as soon as I had hoped. Before the month had passed, I was called away from home, in a very strange and unexpected way.
One afternoon, as I was outside the house feeding the horses, a stranger rode up to our gate and shouted at me. He was a tough-looking, hard-faced man, about forty years old, with small, quick eyes, and he was dressed very differently from the way we dress in Exmoor. He said he was looking for Plover’s Barrows farm, and a man called John Ridd. When I told him he had found them both, he introduced himself as Jeremy Stickles, a servant of the King, and he gave me a letter. I looked at him in alarm, but he said there was nothing in the letter to worry me.
At the top of the letter, my name was written in large letters. I read: To JOHN RIDD:
This letter is to order you to appear before the King’s judges in London, and tell them anything you know about some matters which may be harmful to the King and the country.
Jeremy Stickles seemed very pleased by my fear and surprise at the letter, but he said again that no one was going to hurt me. All I had to do was tell the truth.
When my mother read the letter, she became very worried and began to cry. She wondered how the King had heard of me, and what he wanted to do with me. But Mr. Stickles, who wasn’t really as hard as he seemed, explained everything carefully to her. He told her that the King only knew of me because the stories of my great size and strength had reached even London. He had heard I was a good man, and thought I could help him, that was all.
This made my mother feel better, but I was very unhappy. I was thinking of Lorna. How could I tell her I was going away? I had promised not to go back to the valley for a month, and that was still a few days away. But how terrible it would be if she came to look for me at the end of the month, and I was not there! I would have to break my promise and go before the agreed time.
Mr. Stickles was happy to stay at the farm for one or two days, to try our good Exmoor food. So I used the time to look for Lorna. But I saw nothing of her in the valley, and no signal that she needed me. There was nothing else I could do. Mr. Stickles wanted to go, and I had to leave for London without seeing her.
A journey to London was both long and dangerous in those days, because of all the robbers on the roads. As I said goodbye to my mother and sisters and took my last look at the farmhouse, I felt very miserable. But Jeremy Stickles was a good companion. As we rode, he told me many amusing stories of London life, and we became the best of friends.
I did not like London. It was a crowded, dirty place, not at all like Exmoor - and, even worse, I had to wait more than two months before the King’s judges were ready to see me. There was a lot of trouble in London at that time, with arguments between the King and the City of London. Nobody had time to talk to John Ridd, but I was not allowed to leave and go home. At last, I was called to see Judge Jeffreys.
Jeremy Stickles had told me about Judge Jeffreys. He was the King’s chief judge, and there were terrible stories about him. He became very angry if anyone argued with him, and he had sent many of the King’s enemies to their deaths.
In the room I walked into, there were three men sitting on high seats, and they were dressed in very rich clothes. In front of each of them was a desk, with pen and paper. The man in the middle seemed to be the most important. He was a big, heavy man, with a square chin and a kind of fire in his eyes. He was a man that almost anyone would be afraid of. This was certainly Judge Jeffreys.
He gave me a terrible stare, and asked me who I was and where I came from. When I had told him, he said: ‘Well done, John Ridd. You have answered me without fear. I remember this matter now. I will ask you some questions.’ He looked at me more closely. ‘In Exmoor,’ he said, ‘there is a family of robbers. Is that true?’
I told him it was.
‘And why isn’t your local judge doing anything about them?’
‘I suppose he’s afraid, my Lord. The robbers are very strong, and their valley is hard to attack.’
‘But they must still answer to the law!’ Judge Jeffreys said. ‘What’s the name of these people, and how many of them are there?’
‘They are the Doones, and we think there are about forty men in the valley.’
‘I will do something about these thieves,’ he said. ‘Perhaps I will come down to the west myself.’ But then he stared hard at me again, and asked: ‘Is there any sign, in Exmoor, of any dislike of the King?’
‘No, my Lord. We don’t know much about him.’
That’s a good answer,’ he laughed. ‘But the King knows he has enemies in the country. I see you know nothing about them, though. You’re a good man, John Ridd. Keep out of trouble. Keep away from the King’s enemies, and from the Doones as well, and you will be safe. I was going to use you as a spy, but I see you’re too honest. I will send someone else. But never tell anyone what I’ve said to you.’ Here he stared at me very angrily, but when he saw he had frightened me enough, he smiled again. ‘Now go home, John. I will remember you - and I don’t think you will forget me.’
I had no money left to hire a horse for the journey back to Exmoor, so I had to walk the whole way. It took me seven days, and I was very glad to get home again.
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