فصل 10

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فصل 10

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Chapter ten

The end?

Alfred and Ernest said goodbye to Rodolfo, who could not thank them enough, and caught the 3.30 from Vilcea to Craiova, where they planned to pick up the train to Vienna. They, of course, had no news of the Doctor and wondered whether he would use his money and power to send a team to try to kill them. Strangely enough, it was Ernest who was most concerned.

“Do you know, Alfred old fellow, we’re not home and dry yet! It was we who uncovered his evil deeds, and he’s not the type who forgives easily.”

“Do you really think he’ll send some of his killers after us? Why would he bother?”

“It’s a question of pride and honour. And these foreign fellows think such things are terribly important.”

Alfred had great difficulty thinking of danger. He was already imagining himself back in his room in London.

“What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get back, Ernest?”

“What a question! Let me see. Yes, I think I’ll open a bottle of your finest wine, dear boy. What’ll you do?”

“I’ll go for a walk through the fog of London and stand on Tower Bridge and watch the boats go underneath.”

Ernest laughed.

“Really, Alfred, you’re such a sentimentalist.”

They arrived in Craiova at about 6:00 and had to wait an hour for their connection. They were waiting on the crowded platform when Alfred saw a man he thought he recognised.

“Ernest, do you see that man over by the entrance? The one with the beard and the scar above his left eye. Does he ring a bell?”

“Don’t think so, old fellow.”

“Probably my imagination.”

However, Alfred kept an eye on him and noticed that he too got on the train to Vienna. There was something suspicious about him. He was dressed like a man of wealth, but looked like a boxer.

It was about 4.45 in the morning and they were about halfway to Vienna when the first attempt on their lives was made. Ernest was fast asleep and snoring so loudly that he was keeping Alfred awake. The door of their cabin opened, allowing a strip of light to enter. Alfred opened his eyes for a second and saw the man with the beard. He was holding a piece of rope in his hands and was obviously intending to strangle them both. Alfred wished he had put the Derringer under his pillow, and also that Ernest was not fast asleep. He decided to wait and grab the man by the legs as soon as he got close enough to the bunk bed. Alfred was about to jump when he heard the man grunt and fall to the floor of the compartment. Ernest switched on the light and looked at the man lying on the floor, apparently dead.

“It looks as if I saved your life, Alfred old fellow. It’s a good thing I don’t sleep as deeply as you do.”

“But I don’t.”

“Don’t what?”

“Sleep soundly. You were the one snoring. I was wide awake.”

“Snoring? Was I really?”

Ernest looked at the body.

“I’m afraid I broke his neck. Well, what can a chap do if another chap tries to strangle him in the middle of the night? I suppose we’ll have to explain this mess to the guard.”

For the next two days, nothing unusual happened. It wasn’t until they were outside Paris that the next attempt on their lives was made. They had got to know another passenger, a German by the name of Wolf Heinz. He said he was an ornithologist and was on his way to England to study a bird species there. Ernest, however, was quite suspicious because that particular species of bird wouldn’t arrive in England for another two months. It all happened when they were having tea and cakes in the dining car. Herr Heinz had arrived first and had already ordered. Alfred was delighted to see the cherry cakes and tea waiting.

“I say, Wolf, old chap. Jolly nice of you!”

They sat down and Wolf offered them a cake each. Ernest noticed that they smelt strongly of almond and suspected that Wolf had put cyanide in some of them. Rather than cause a fuss, he pretended to knock the cake out of Alfred’s hand.

“Frightfully sorry, old fellow! How clumsy of me! Good heavens! Look out there! That bird. Very unusual. What is it?”

Wolf looked out of the window and tried hard to see the bird, during which time Ernest changed his cake for the one on Wolf’s plate. Then he winked at Alfred so that he understood what was happening.

“Oh, dear, it must have flown away.”

When he turned round, Alfred and Ernest were pretending to be finishing off their cakes, which Ernest had put into his pocket.

“What lovely cakes, Wolf!” Wolf joined in and ate his.

On arrival in Paris, they saw an empty coffin arrive and leave with a body in it. Ernest looked at Alfred and smiled. “Poor Wolf! And they did look like awfully nice cakes!”

When they got off the train at Charing Cross they really felt their adventure had ended, but they did not see the young man get into the cab behind them and follow them all the way.

Suddenly, a shot rang out. Alfred pushed Ernest to the ground. A man was standing on the pavement, pointing a gun at them. Ernest was quite annoyed.

“Dear me! And I was so looking forward to a nice cup of English tea.”

The man in the street looked mad, his eyes moving wildly in his head.

“You ruined my father! You will pay for this!”

But by the time he had finished his last sentence, Ernest had got out his Derringer and had shot him straight through the heart. They ran to the body, now lying in a pool of blood. In his pocket, Alfred found a passport with the name Nikolai Magorsky.

“Really, these foreign fellows are hot-blooded, aren’t they?”

Ernest was more concerned about the body.

“Now how are we going to explain this to the police?”

For the next three months, Alfred and Ernest went everywhere looking over their shoulder. But it appeared that Nikolai was the last assassin.

“Come on! Hold out your glass, Ernest old chap.”

Alfred raised his glass in the air and Ernest filled it with champagne.

“Well, here’s to a successful end to the Dracula affair. The Globe has been awfully good. Of course, they didn’t believe a word of it, but they said that even as a work of fiction it was worth publishing.”

“Oh, well done, old fellow.”

“Yes, we’re going to call it The Real Count Dracula, in ten episodes. I have to admit that I’m going to make a fortune.”

“Well, I must tell you, old fellow, that you’re not the only one who’s had some success. I’m going to have an article published in The British Bat Society magazine on the vampire bat and I’ve been booked to give talks on the subject all summer.”

“Oh, how superb! Let’s drink to the late and present Counts Dracula!”

“I wonder what happened to the Doctor.”

“Probably took one of his deadly potions. He had nothing to live for.”

Just then, there was a knock on the door and Alfred’s servant entered with a letter. Alfred opened it quickly.

“Ah, it’s from Rodolfo. Let’s see what he has to say.

‘Dear Alfred and Ernest, I have some good and some bad news. The bad news is that my brother Radu died and was buried next to his father in the Dracula Cemetery. The good news is that the Doctor is dead. He was found with all the blood sucked out of him with his horrible bats standing on his body. He died as he deserved to: in the way that he killed his victims. The other good news is that I am getting married and would like you to come to my wedding. I am marrying the daughter of a Count, in Craiova. I know it may not be possible for you to come, but it would make me very happy as I owe you my life and much more.

Your true and devoted friend,

Count Rodolfo Dracula.

“Well, it is nice to know that everything turned out all right for him in the end. What about this wedding thing, then?”

“Let’s decide tomorrow. Have some more champagne?”

Some minutes later, there was another knock on the door, and Alfred’s servant entered with another letter.

Alfred opened it and looked at the name.

“Frankenstein. Have you heard the name Frankenstein before?”

“Yes, I believe I have. Wasn’t he that chap who created a monster?”

‘“Dear Alfred Sackville-Jones, something terrible has happened. There have been reports that a family of monsters looking like the monster my grandfather created, have been seen high up in a mountain in Switzerland. I do not know whether it is a He or not. Could you please come and investigate? I have heard about your success with Count Dracula and I want you to do the same for the Frankenstein name. Please reply as soon as possible. Yours, Albert Frankenstein.’”

“Well, it sounds pretty exciting to me. When shall we leave?”

“Ernest, Ernest, old boy! I still haven’t recovered from the Dracula affair!”

“Oh, what a spoil sport you are!”

“Well, I won’t say no. I’ll decide tomorrow. Come on. Let’s enjoy this champagne and go for a walk to the Tower Bridge. I do love England at this time of year. Don’t you?”

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