فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

What Happened to the Guests?

Every day Mr Washington and the two boys went hunting or fishing, played golf or swam in the cool mountain lake. John found that Mr Washington was completely uninterested in any ideas or opinions except his own. Mrs Washington was always reserved and shy. She was quite indifferent to her two daughters and was only interested in Percy, with whom she had long conversations in Spanish at dinner.

Jasmine, the older daughter, looked like Kismine but was not so pretty. Her favorite books were about girls from poor families. Percy and Kismine seemed to have the arrogant attitude of their father - they were both selfish.

John was fascinated by the castle, and one day he asked Percy, “Who built this wonderful castle?”

“Oh,” he answered, “I’m embarrassed to tell you, but it was a man who worked in the film industry. He was the only person we found who could work with an unlimited amount of money - although he couldn’t read or write.”

Towards the end of August John was sorry that he had to return to school. He and Kismine decided to run away and get married the following June.

“It would be nicer to get married here,” Kismine said, “but I could never get father’s permission to marry you. The best thing is to run away. It’s terrible for rich people to get married in America because they have to inform the newspapers.”

“I know,” said John.

One afternoon late in August one of Kismine’s comments changed the entire situation and terrified John.

They were in their favorite place and between kisses John said sadly, “Sometimes I think we’ll never marry. You’re too wealthy, too magnificent. You’re not like other girls because you’re too rich. I should marry the daughter of a rich businessman and be happy with her half-million dollars.”

“I knew the daughter of a rich businessman once,” said Kismine. “She was a friend of my sister who visited us.”

“Oh, then you’ve had other guests?” John asked.

“Oh, yes,” she said quickly, “we’ve had a few.”

“But wasn’t your father afraid they would tell others about this place?”

“Well, yes,” she answered. “Let’s talk about something more pleasant.”

But now John was curious.

“Something more pleasant!” he said. “What’s unpleasant about this? Weren’t they nice girls?”

John was very surprised when Kismine started to cry.

“Yes - that - that’s the trouble. I liked some of them very much. And Jasmine did too. But she continued inviting them anyway. I couldn’t understand it.”

John suddenly went cold.

“Do you mean… What happened to them?” asked John.

“Father took no chances - and Jasmine kept inviting them, and they had such a good time.”

John was horrified by what he heard and sat there open- mouthed.

“Now I’ve told you and I shouldn’t have,” she said drying her dark blue eyes.

“Do you mean that your father murdered them before they left?”

She nodded. “In August usually - or early in September. It’s only natural for us to get all the pleasure out of them first.”

“How absolutely terrible. How? Why? I must be going mad. Did you really say that?”

“I did,” Kismine said quietly. “We can’t imprison them like the pilots because we would be able to see them every day. That would make us feel very bad. To make it easier for Jasmine and me, father always did it sooner than we expected. That way we didn’t have to say goodbye.”

“So you murdered them?” cried John.

“It was done very nicely. They were drugged while they were sleeping - and their families were always told that they had died of a disease.”

“But, I can’t understand why you continued inviting them.”

“I didn’t!” cried Kismine. “I have never invited anyone. They were Jasmine’s guests. And they always had a very good time. Jasmine gave them the nicest presents, especially towards the end. I will probably have visitors too - then I won’t feel so bad about it. We can’t let such a thing as death stand in the way I of enjoying our life. Think of how lonely it would be here if no one ever came to visit. Why, father and mother have lost some of their best friends, just as we have.”

“And so,” cried John, “and so you let me love you and pretended to return my love. And you talked about marriage, knowing that I would never leave this place alive.”

“No,” she protested. “Not anymore. I did at first. You were here and I thought your last days should be pleasant for both of us. But then I fell in love with you, and - I’m honestly sorry you’re going to be killed. But if you are killed, you can’t ever kiss another girl.”

Oh, really! Is that what you think?” cried John fiercely.

“Well, yes… I have always heard that a girl can have more fun with a man she knows she can never marry. Oh, why did I tell you? I’ve probably ruined your good time now, and we were really enjoying ourselves. I knew it would make things quite sad for you.”

“Oh, you did?” said John very angrily. “I’ve heard enough of this. If you think it’s fun to fall in love with a boy who isn’t much better than a corpse, then stay away from me.”

“You’re not a corpse,” she protested in horror. “You’re not a corpse. You can’t say I kissed a corpse.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did. You said I kissed a corpse.”

“I didn’t.”

Their voices were loud, but when they heard footsteps they became silent. A moment later Braddock Washington was looking at them through the rose bushes.

“Who kissed a corpse?” he asked.

“Nobody,” answered Kismine quickly. “We were just joking.”

“What are you two doing here?” he asked. “Kismine, you should read or play golf with your sister. Go read. Go play golf. I don’t want to find you here when I return.”

Then he bowed to John and left.

“See?” said Kismine angrily, when her father left, “See what you’ve done? We can never meet again. He won’t let me meet you. He will poison you if he thinks we’re in love.”

“We’re not in love anymore.” cried John fiercely. “He doesn’t have to worry about that. And don’t think I’m going to stay here any longer. In six hours I’ll be over those mountains, no matter what I have to do.”

They were both standing and Kismine came close and put her arm through his.

“I’m going too.”

“You must be mad!”

“Of course I’m going,” she interrupted.

His love for her suddenly returned. She was his - she would go with him and share the dangers. He put his arms around her and kissed her. After all, she saved him, she loved him.

They walked back slowly towards the castle and discussed how they would escape. They decided that since Braddock Washington had seen them together they should leave the next night.

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