فصل 04

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فصل 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 4 دقیقه
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CHAPTER FOUR

The Game Begins

I woke suddenly the next morning. Someone had thrown water over me! I opened my eyes angrily and looked up at Fritz and the Colonel.

‘That wasn’t a good joke!’ I said angrily.

‘Be quiet,’ Colonel Sapt ordered angrily. ‘We had to wake you up. There’s something wrong.’ He pointed to the floor. The Prince was lying there. ‘The Prince is still sleeping. We’ve tried to wake him, but we can’t.’

‘We think the Duke put something in that bottle of wine,’ Fritz explained. ‘Something that will make the Prince sleep all day.’

‘It’s a crisis for Ruritania,’ Colonel Sapt said. ‘The coronation is this morning. If Prince Rudolf does not go to Strelsau today, he’ll never be king!’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘The Duke wants to be king,’ Colonel Sapt told me. ‘Prince Rudolf is not popular. I think the Duke will seize the crown!’

‘What are you going to do about it?’ I asked him.

‘There’s only one chance,’ Colonel Sapt explained. ‘The coronation is today. Prince Rudolf must go to Strelsau this morning!’

‘But if he’s asleep - ‘ I began.

‘You can go,’ Colonel Sapt said. ‘You can be Prince Rudolf for the day.’

‘Me!’ I cried. ‘But that’s ridiculous. I don’t know how to behave like a prince. I can’t pretend to be the Prince of Ruritania!’

‘You look like the Prince, except for your beard,’ Colonel Sapt said slowly. ‘You can do it. Rassendyll, I know you can.’

I did not say anything.

‘If you don’t do it, the Duke will be the next King of Ruritania,’ Colonel Sapt went on. ‘And he’ll kill Prince Rudolf.’

Then I decided. I was young and I liked excitement and adventure.

‘Very well,’ I told the Colonel. ‘I’ll help you. I’ll be the Prince for a day.’

‘Well done!’ the Colonel cried excitedly. He shook my hand. ‘There’s a lot to do. Let’s make a start.’

I got up and began to shave off my beard while the Colonel told me his plan.

‘I’ll hide the Prince in the wine-cellar,’ he said excitedly. ‘Then we all go to Strelsau together to the coronation, and you become King. Then we come back to Zenda. We wake the real King. He goes back to Strelsau with us the next day. And you, Mr. Rassendyll, you leave Ruritania very secretly.’ He paused then he clapped his hands together. ‘Yes! It’s a good plan,’ he cried.

The Colonel picked up the Prince and carried him to the door. He was very strong. He opened the door suddenly - and then stopped. Johann’s mother was standing on the other side of the door.

‘Was she listening?’ Fritz asked quickly.

‘I’ll make sure she’s quiet!’ the Colonel said grimly.’The Colonel carried the Prince into the wine cellar. Then he came upstairs again and seized hold of Johann’s mother. He put a handkerchief in her mouth and tied her up. Then he carried her down to a coal-cellar and locked her in.

Then Colonel Sapt, Fritz and I continued to make our plans.

‘No one will ever know,’ Fritz said. ‘It’ll work - and you’ll save Ruritania from disaster, Mr. Rassendyll.’

‘All we’ve got to do is hide the real Prince while we’re all in Strelsau,’ the Colonel said. ‘Fritz and I will do that while you’re getting ready, Mr. Rassendyll. Joseph will guard him while we’re away.’

Colonel Sapt hurried out of the room to make all the arrangements with the servant.

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