A s we stood and stared in the direction of our leader’s outstretched finger, sure enough I fancied I could make out a dark shape and a curious flash of red trailing it, moving among the stand of elms and poplar.
“What is it?” asked Ayres, “is it the Beast of Bodmin?”
“Barbudo?” I asked, “I thought he was getting treatment.”
“Quick men, the game’s afoot! We must be swift. The tors are riddled with caves and our quarry must not slip our grasp!” Shouted that most magnificent of detectives and with purposeful strides he was off up the slope.
We followed in his wake, in no small measure hampered by our provisions. As Ayres’ sturdy young legs pumped up the hill like pistons, they struck the hamper at every step.
“Mind the crockery Ayres,” I admonished, “and we should try not to shake the Burgundy if we can help it.”
Back at Castle Alucard, Dr Evil’s daughter Sarah had decided to liven proceedings by ‘putting on a show’.
Guest and servant alike had been dragooned into rehearsing a unique amateur production cobbled together from Lady Windermere’s Fan with bits of Charlie’s Aunt. The released safety inspector had just loped in through the French windows with a cricket bat exclaiming “Anyone for tennis?”
“No No NO!” shouted Sarah.
Of course the fabulously wealthy Dr Evil could have hired the English National Opera to stage Aida on the lawn, but Sarah who was up on these things had stamped her dainty foot saying that was the point. The old money made their own entertainment with nothing more than the dressing up box from the attic.
Evil had agreed, although it went against all his aesthetic sensibilities.
Sarah on the other hand had no such doubts and had appointed herself director of the piece.
Look at the rubbish I have to work with, she thought, and noticing an unnatural bulge in the Inspector’s flannels asked,
“are you wearing a box by the way?”
“A protector. A cricketer’s box?”
“No. Where do you wear them?” asked the inspector.
“On the pitch, look never mind. You’re quite sure are you?”
“Yes quite sure thank you.”
“See me after rehearsals then,” she said, her voice suddenly hoarse.
As the run-through continued, Sarah mouthed the lines in time with the actors‘ delivery.
“…is this an oriental dagger I see before me, it’s squiggly blade pointed toward my breast?…”
Back out on the moor, we had gained the summit in time to see an old dirty vagabond disappearing into a thicket dragging an evil looking monkey after him on a chain. The monkey, dressed in a miniature bandsman’s uniform was screaming in bare-fanged terror at our approach. The vile chattering little beast adjusted his little pillbox hat and suddenly lifted a blowpipe to his lips, sending a feathered dart towards Ayres.
I tried to warn him.
“Ayres! Watch out!” I shouted, “You’ll upset the trifle!”
But Ayres now quite deaf to my entreaties, stood silent for a second then fell smiling onto the grass.