فصل 03

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فصل 03

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter three

The Man in the black Cape

Ernest leant over Alfred who was snoring peacefully.

“Boo!”

“Ah!”

Alfred screamed and sent the covers flying. Then he saw Ernest.

“Oh, it’s you.”

Ernest, who was fully dressed, handed him his dressing gown.

“Who did you expect it to be, dear boy? Count Dracula?”

Alfred looked over at the portrait on the wall, which, in the daylight, seemed even more alive than ever, the manic eyes staring at him.

Ernest gave him his razor and a shaving brush.

“Hurry up, old chap. It’s way past breakfast time, and we’ve got work to do. Now, I’ve done a little exploring. I got Rodolfo to show me where the Count is buried. I’m afraid his English is a little basic, but he’s got the general idea. Oh, you’ve cut yourself, dear fellow. Blood is running down your neck!”

As he took a handkerchief from Ernest, Alfred noticed the Count’s eyes. Did they really light up at the sound of the word “blood”?

“The family graveyard is outside the castle, up a narrow path by the river. Beautiful spot; wouldn’t mind being buried there myself!”

They went down to the dining room and sat at an enormous wooden table loaded with eggs, steak, cheese, liver and fish, along with bread, butter, honey, jam and coffee. During the meal, Mania and Rodolfo hovered over them like enormous bats with trays of food. Towards the end, old Gregory staggered in, carrying logs for the fire. Alfred saw his opportunity.

“Gregory, my dear fellow, can we have a word?”

Gregory grunted and came up to the table.

“Can you tell us a little bit about the old chap? The Count, I mean. By the way, it’s awfully dark in here. Don’t you ever open the shutters?”

A look of horror appeared on the old man’s wrinkled face.

“No, Sir Aleferd. Not since the mistress died.”

“Oh, so he was married, was he? When did the good woman die?”

“Forty-five years ago, Sir Aleferd.”

“Forty-five years ago! Did I understand correctly? My Romanian is a little rusty. Good heavens! Any children?”

Gregory looked down at the floor and then whispered a reply.

“I see. No children. And the Count never married again. He must have been madly in love.”

“Yes, quite mad. She was a very beautiful Gentle eyes and long shining red hair. A tragedy! The Count was heartbroken.”

“Are you sure you won’t sit down, old boy? You look a little unsteady!”

Gregory appeared not to hear.

“When she died, the Count swore never to see the light of day again. After that, he only went out at night, on Warrior, his white horse. When there was a good moon and a clear sky, of course.”

“Fascinating! Now how did these nasty rumours start about that vampire nonsense?”

Suddenly Gregory became very excited.

“The master is… was… a good man!’’

“I’m sure he was, old boy. But all these dead people with funny teeth marks on their necks… who or what made them?”

Gregory waved his thin old arms in the air.

“Not the master! Not the master!”

“Calm down, old chap! You’ll do yourself an injury! I believe you!”

Gregory got down on his knees and took Alfred’s hand, which Alfred found rather embarrassing.

“Sir Aleferd Shagwill Gons, I would die for the master.”

“Quite sure you would, old boy. Fine. Now we’re going to need some spades. Any chance you could find us a couple?”

“Spades?”

“Yes, you see, Lord Ernest wants to go looking for truffles. Well, no, actually we have to see the Count. He told us to in his letter.”

Gregory drew away from Alfred.

“It’s the only way, really.”

“All right, Sir Aleferd. But Rodolfo must not know.”

Gregory looked round in the direction of the servants’ rooms.

“Oh, of course, we won’t say a thing. And, by the way, could you open the castle gates at about midnight tonight?”

“Yes, Sir Aleferd. Anything for the master.”

That night, Alfred and Ernest met as planned near the castle gates. As promised, Gregory turned the wheel to let them out. A strong wind had got up which roared through the valley. They followed the path with difficulty, as the moon kept hiding behind large black rain clouds. Every so often they heard the screech of an owl or some other night creature. As they entered the graveyard, the rusty old iron gate squealed. The place was sheltered from the wind by massive cypress trees and was as silent as all the Dracula’s that lay buried there. Ernest pointed to a white marble gravestone.

“That’s the one.”

As they approached the Count’s grave, he looked up into the sky at the pale light from the moon, which threw a white veil over the crooked gravestones.

“It’s a full moon. They say it was on such nights that the Count went looking for human blood. Well, here we are. Got your spade, Alfred? Don’t look so down, old boy. The exercise’ll do you good.”

The soil on the grave was loose and it was not long before they had dug a large hole. Ernest was the first to touch wood.

“Ho, ho! I believe we’re about to meet the Count again. Is it just the moonlight or are you looking rather pale, dear boy? I know it’s well past your bedtime, but I wish you would be a little bit more enthusiastic about it all.”

“Are you sure we ought to do this, Ernest? I know that I wouldn’t like to be disturbed just as I had started my eternal rest.”

“You’re forgetting, dear boy. He’s not at rest. Now help me take off the lid.”

At that moment they heard a screech above their heads. Ernest let out a cry.

“The vampire bat! I’d recognise that sound anywhere.”

Ernest lit a candle and held it over the Count’s head. Now it was Alfred’s turn to cry out.

“Oh, my God, his eyes are still open! Just like the portrait!”

“Stop staring and let’s search him. I’m afraid we’re going to have to turn him over. Just grab his left arm. That’s funny. I’d swear he was warm.”

They searched the coffin but all they found was the Count’s silver cane.

“Well, look at that! The end of the cane is in the shape of Desmodus Rotondus.”

“I beg your pardon. Who’s he?”

“The vampire bat. Look at those pointed ears and the teeth. Just hold the candle a little closer.”

“Ernest, this is not the time not the place”

“Beautiful piece of work. Nothing here though. Pity.” They rolled the Count on to his back again. Ernest stopped dead.

“Look. His eyes are closed, and I think… yes, I’m certain. I believe he’s smiling. I can see his teeth. And what’s that? Blood.”

“Blood?”

“Oops. Sorry. I must have cut myself on a nail opening the coffin.”

“This whole business is beginning to disturb me.” They put the coffin back, covering it with soil, and made their way back to the castle.

Just as they arrived, Alfred remembered something.

“Oh, dash it! I completely forgot to tell old Gregory to let us in again.”

At that moment, they heard the grinding of the castle gate. When it was wide enough, a white horse charged out, ridden by a man in a black cape and hood. They watched in amazement as the figure disappeared into the night. Ernest grabbed Alfred’s arm.

“You once asked me whether I believed in ghosts, old chap. Well, I have to say that I think I’ve changed my mind on the subject.”

“A ghost! What an article this is going to be! The only trouble is The Globe won’t believe a word of it.”

They ran through the castle yard and up to their bedroom. As he was taking off his cloak, Alfred noticed the Count’s portrait.

“Look, Ernest. The Count’s face. It seems so much more peaceful than before, almost happy.”

“Who’s imagining things now? It looks like an ordinary portrait to me.”

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

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