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Chapter 11 A Visit to the Sheriff





Sam and Lila sat in the room behind the shop, waiting for Arbogast to return.

'It's over an hour,' said Lila. 'Why isn't he back yet?'

'Maybe he found something important.'

Lila pushed back her chair and stood up. 'He's more than an hour late. He hasn't even called. I'm going to the Old Highway. I know he's found something. Are you coming with me?'

Sam stood up with a sigh. Til go. You stay here,' he said. 'Somebody must be here if Arbogast comes back.'

The motel was dark and empty when Sam arrived. He called Arbogast's name several times, but nobody answered. He looked up at the big house behind the motel, and saw somebody at the window. 'I guess that's the mother,' he thought. 'The old woman that Arbogast wanted to speak to.' He climbed the hill and tried the door. Again, no answer.

Sam drove back to Fairvale. 'There's nobody at the motel,' he told Lila. 'No Arbogast. No Bates. Just a sick old woman who couldn't answer the door.'

'I'm worried,' Lila said.'Something's wrong.'

'I agree,' said Sam. 'We have to tell the police. Let's visit Jud Chambers. He's the sheriff of this town. He'll be able to help us.'

The sheriff and his wife had to get out of bed to answer the door. It was late, but they asked Sam and Lila to come in. They listened while Sam told them about Marion and Arbogast.

'Arbogast phoned us to say that he wanted to go back to the motel. He wanted to speak to Mrs Bates,' said Sam. 'But that was three hours ago.'

'I didn't know that Norman had a wife,' said Mrs Chambers, surprised.

'No,' Sam explained.'It's an old woman. His mother.'

The sheriff thought for a. minute, then asked Lila: 'When did your sister disappear?'

'She left Phoenix a week ago.'

'How did you know that she came here?'

'She came to see me,' Sam explained.

'And she didn't say anything to you?' the sheriff was still looking at Lila.

'No. She just ran away.'

'From what?'

Nobody spoke for a moment. Then Lila said quietly:'She stole some money.'

'A lot?'

'$40,000.'

'Why didn't you tell the police before?'

'We wanted Marion to give back the money without telling the police.'

'Did this detective talk about the money when he phoned you three hours ago?'

'The money doesn't matter, does it?' Lila cried unhappily. 'I just want to find my sister!'

The sheriff sighed, and tried to look friendly.'What can I do?'

'I'm sure there's something wrong,' said Lila. 'At the motel, I mean.'

Mrs Chambers looked at Lila and she felt sorry for her. 'Why don't you telephone Norman at the motel?' she said to her husband.'

'It's late.'

'Oh, please call,' said Lila.

The sheriff sighed again and picked up the telephone.'Hello?'he said a few seconds later. 'Norman? It's Sheriff Chambers speaking. Listen, I have some people here. They're worried. Did you have any visitors tonight? ... No, not a customer ... a detective

Jud Chambers listened quietly for a minute, then put down the phone. 'Yes,' he said, turning to Sam and Lila. 'The detective was there tonight. Norman told him about the girl. The detective said thank you and left.'

'Without seeing Mr Bates's mother?' Lila asked.

The sheriff looked Lila straight in the eye. 'Norman's mother died ten years ago.' He said. 'She killed her lover, then she killed herself. It was in all the newspapers. Norman found them dead together, in bed.'

'But that isn't true. I saw her!' Sam cried.

'Yes,' Lila agreed. 'Arbogast saw her too.'

'Mm, 'Jud Chambers replied, looking at his wife. 'Very strange. If Norman's mother is still alive, who was the woman who killed herself ten years ago?'

Norman Bates put down the phone after speaking to Sheriff Chambers. 'The police will be here soon,' he thought. 'I must hide Mother before they come.'

He ran out of the office, up the hill to the old house, and climbed the stairs to his mother's room.

'Mother, I have something to say,' he said.

The old woman laughed. 'You're a stupid boy, telling me what to do.'

'Mother, it's important.'

'No. I will not hide in the fruit cellar. I'm staying here. This is my room and no one will ever take me away.'

'They'll come for you, Mother,' Norman tried to explain.'That man came after the girl. Now someone will come after him. Mother please, just for a few days, so that they won't find you.'

'A few days in that ugly old cellar? No! You hid me there once before. I'll never go there again. Now go away!'

But Norman wasn't listening. He picked his mother off the bed and carried her out of the bedroom, down the stairs, and into the fruit cellar.

 







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