فصل 05

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فصل 05

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Chapter five

The Search

Back in Dracula Castle, Alfred and Ernest were sitting in front of a blazing fire after yet another wonderful meal, this time of roast goose and apple pie with cream on top. Alfred raised his glass of wine in the air.

“I would like to drink a toast to the Count and his superb hospitality.”

“And his excellent taste in wines. The old fellow certainly knew how to eat and drink well. As for Mania, she’s an absolute treasure.”

“You know, Ernest, I am a little bit worried. The evidence does not seem to be in the old chap’s favour, does it? A figure looking like the Count rides out into the moonlit night and two hours later a girl dies with two teeth marks on her neck. It can hardly be a coincidence now, can it?”

“The question is whether we believe in ghosts or not. As you know, I’d love them to exist, but my logic tells me that they don’t. Therefore, that person on the white horse could not have been the Count. So, who was it?”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t Mania or Gregory. And the only other person in the castle is…”

“Good thinking, old boy. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t serve us at breakfast yesterday. He was catching up on his sleep. But why?”

“I can’t help feeling that the answer must be in the Count’s letter. I’ve got it here. Let’s see.

“Don’t leave a stone unturned…’ stone… we have to look under stones… “You can lead a horse to water…’”

Suddenly, a scream, just like the one they had heard the previous night, was heard faintly echoing through the castle. Alfred shivered.

“Did you hear it?”

“I certainly did, old boy. And I think it came from outside.”

They ran out into the castle yard, but there was nothing to be seen except the well. They stood wondering where the sound could have come from. Alfred pointed to the well.

“Do you see that enormous stone covering the well? How on earth do they get the water out?”

“Interesting question, old boy. And what’s that thick piece of wood for?”

“Ernest, come here! Quick!”

Alfred was holding his ear to the stone.

“What is it?”

“I can hear something like an animal in pain, crying or… no, it’s more of a moan. Can you hear it?”

“Sorry. Can’t hear a thing. I think your mind’s playing tricks on you, old boy. It’s probably the rumbling of your stomach after that delicious goose. Let’s get back inside. It’s freezing out here.”

Gregory was standing inside the door of the dining room with a worried look on his face.

“Sir what is the matter?”

“Probably my imagination. I thought I heard someone scream.”

“Ah, that was Don Juan maybe. He has bad dreams.”

“I beg your pardon. Don Juan?”

“I mean Rodolfo. Don Juan is his nickname. He was loved by many women, but he loved the master more.”

“I see. By the way, Gregory, I’ve been meaning to ask you. Tell me about Dr Magorsky. Lord Ernest and I didn’t take to him very much.”

“He was the Count’s doctor, but he is an evil man. He uses old medicine, the medicine of the witches. Herbs, leaves…”

“Nothing wrong with herbs. My Aunt Agatha swears by them.”

“Frogs, snakes, bats and mice and other living creatures.”

“Well, yes, I think Aunt Agatha would draw the line there.”

“He bleeds all his patients. He says losing blood is good for you. But he does not care about health. He is a greedy man, who loves only money.”

“Thank you very much, Gregory old fellow. Bleeds his patients…”

“Good night, Sir Aleferd. I am an old man and must sleep.”

“Oh, of course, old boy. Sweet dreams!”

Alfred told Ernest what Gregory said. Ernest was intrigued.

“It becomes more interesting by the minute. I suggest we go for a walk before breakfast, when our minds are clear, and try and sort this out.”

“Ernest, old boy, what has got into you? I thought you liked sleep. I wish you’d have pity on me. I’m exhausted.”

“My dear fellow, we’re on a case. We can’t waste time sleeping.”

The next morning, Alfred and Ernest got up early and went out into the yard for a walk. Through the thick mist they saw Rodolfo near the well carrying a tray of food. Alfred was surprised.

“That’s funny. What’s Rodolfo doing? I didn’t ask for breakfast in bed.”

Rodolfo had laid the tray on the well top and was holding an enormous piece of wood. Alfred called out. Rodolfo turned with a look of shock on his face.

“Bright and early, I see, Rodolfo. Or should I say, Don Juan? I wanted to ask you about this well top. How do you get the water out?”

“The well is not used. The Count put a stone over it many years ago.”

“I see, what is that piece of wood for?”

Rodolfo seemed angry.

“This well is not used. The wood is rotten.”

“Looks fine to me, but I won’t argue with you, old fellow.”

“Now I must leave.”

“Of course. Oh, don’t forget your tray. Em, those eggs and that bacon look good. Perhaps we should have breakfast now, Ernest.”

Rodolfo took the tray and went quickly towards the kitchen.

“Come on, Alfred. Stop thinking of your stomach and let’s go for that walk. I suggest we visit the Count.”

“The Count?”

“Yes, I feel he may give us inspiration.”

Dracula Cemetery was as quiet as an empty house. Even the birds seemed to have stopped singing. Because of the thick mist, they could hardly see more than a few feet in front of them. Suddenly Alfred couldn’t see Ernest anywhere.

“Ernest! Where on earth have you gone?”

There was no answer, just the echo of his voice. He called again and this time got an answer.

“I’m over here, dear boy. At the Count’s grave. And I’ve found something rather interesting.”

“Just keep talking, will you? In that way, I might be able to find you.”

Finally, Alfred found Ernest leaning over the Count’s grave.

“Do you think it’s rather strange that there is no sign of our footsteps? It’s as if the soil was taken out and put back again.”

“Don’t forget; it rained last night.”

“What I can’t understand is why the Count told us in his letter to visit him when he had nothing to tell us.”

“Hold on. I’ve just had an idea. You don’t think that cane of his is hollow, do you? And that inside is a vital message?”

“My word, you’re a genius, dear boy. Of course, it must be!”

“Oh, dear. Does that mean we have to do more grave- digging?”

“Afraid so, old chap. But you’re getting quite good at it. By the way, have you been eating garlic?”

“Garlic? Well, yes… em… I… thought it better to be safe than sorry. I got dear Mania to let me have a few cloves for emergencies.”

“The smell is enough to keep away the Devil himself. As for the vampire bat, he wouldn’t dare fly within a mile of us. Come on. Let’s go and have breakfast.”

They made their way back by the river to the castle gate, which Gregory had left open for them. Alfred was still trying to work out the connection between stones, water and horses.

“You know, Ernest. I feel that the solution to our mystery lies very close to that well. There’s a big stone there, with water under it, and opposite the stable where the Count’s horse is kept. I’m sure the answer lies under that stone.”

Ernest touched Alfred’s arm and held a finger to his mouth.

“Sh! Look, Rodolfo just got out of the well. And he’s pushing the stone back by himself. Good heavens, he must be as strong as an ox.”

Through the mist they saw Rodolfo carrying a tray from the well to the kitchen. Alfred slapped the side of his head in annoyance.

“Dash it! I should have thought of it before. Don Juan was a great lover, wasn’t he? What did the Count say in his letter? ‘Beware of the Lover.’ Do you think Rodolfo could be ‘The Lover? We’d better keep a very close eye on him and find out what’s hidden down that well. Why was he carrying a tray?”

“All this detective work has given me quite an appetite. What about you, Alfred?”

“Oh, yes. And I think we deserve it. I feel we’re getting very close to an important discovery.”

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