That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Part Four

I awoke from my slumbers to the fresh hope of a new day. The comfort and familiarity of my own sheets had done much to restore my spirits after the previous night’s macabre events; the sunlight now streaming into the room was quickly dispelling any lingering superstitious fears, like the hysterical shadows they were.
Lying there, in that delicious warm twilight that we experience before we submit to the full dawn of consciousness, I reached out for the welcome form of Mrs Maroon lying close. Stretching out a hand to stroke her hair, letting it linger before moving on, past her soft round shoulder, to the coarse coconut matting of her rock-hard bicep.

“Stop right there Maroon! And I sincerely hope that isn’t what I think it is.” said a familiar voice.
I opened my eyes into the startled face of Gorilla Bananas, his head on the pillow not six inches from mine.

“Bananas, I…I…I don’t know what to say old friend.“
“Then we’ll say no more about it. Ever!”

In a flood, the strange circumstance in which I now found myself, all came back to me.

* * *

At the inn on Dartmoor, Miss Lindy had also spent a disconcerting night.
No wind had howled round her chimney driven like demons from the high Tors and stone circles out on the Moor. No tree branch had rattle tattle tatted on her window pane. Lightning hadn’t flashed, casting appalling shapes on the wall.

It wasn’t meant to be like this, no, not like this at all.

Things had started to slip earlier, when in the inn’s common room she had cornered an old local with the intention of extracting information from him using her devious and wily ways.

“Tell me (my good man), would you say it is dangerous out on the Moor, at night, perhaps but not restricted to, that area where the road passes near to Castle Alucard, taking it for example’s sake only?” her opening gambit.
“The Moor? Nay lass. You could walk to Exeter at midnight on that road. I’ve seen us do it too, if we’ve missed the coach.” he chuckled, reminiscing.
“Then what did that coachman mean?” Lindy asked.
“Old Jack? Why, old Bob the innkeeper is his brother in law, they has an arrangement. Jack brings the guests and old Bob sees him right. That new railways line has slackened trade here somethin’ awful.”
Changing tack, she asked:
“OK what about the Castle then? What about all the young virgins disappearing?”
Blushing, because of her youth, he replied:
“Well they usually comes back after their time if you sees what I means, beggin’ your pardon lass. ‘Going to their aunties’ we calls it. Why, half of us round here was born that way! Tis no shame in it roun’ here miss.”

Things got worse with her meal. It was excellent.
The disastrous evening was crowned when she was shown into the best room she’d seen since arriving in England. With the log fire gently crackling, she lay in a Goldilocks bed and was asleep in two minutes.

* * *

Now that I was awake, I could take stock of the arrangements we had made.
At Gorilla Bananas insistence, I had stayed the previous night at Baker Street; for he had assured me that the city was no longer safe to any of us alone.

“Well he’s not bunking with me.” said Ayres, rather quickly.
“He will share my bed” Said Bananas. “In fact all this should wait till morning, when our minds will be clearer. Maroon, Ayres will give you a night shirt, and I shall send a street urchin round to your house for your overnight bag. A shilling should cover it.”

Ayres gave me a old striped nightshirt with the injunction that I “keep it” for he would not wear it again, and in that frame, we all took to bed.

We three had now breakfasted on the full English with hot rolls and butter, and were waiting for Mrs Hudson to leave, rather than discuss such untoward and disturbing affairs in front of her.
“Can I get you anything else?“ she solicited.
“Thank you, no. We are replete I think.” Said Bananas in answer for us all.
“More baps and marmalade perhaps? Dr Watson says that my baps are the best he’s ever…”
Her last words were lost, as she closed the door.

“First things first” said Bananas, “Lets get down to cases. Barbudo. We’ve left him in the field too long, his cover is blown We must bring him in from the cold. Send him the message.”
Ayres took up his position at the machine, threw a switch, and hit it a tap with his fist.
“Just warming up. Temperamental thing.” he mumbled
“Next,” continued Bananas, “Barbudo’s last message, the code book if you would Maroon. Ah yes,”


“Oh dear. We should have acted on this sooner. It looks like he’s in trouble, I hope he’s not been taken alive for his sake.”
“Well will I send the message anyway?” asked Ayres from his corner.
“Yes, tell him we’re coming with all due dispatch. Tell him we’ll be setting out immediately, after dinner tonight, on the sleeper to Devon.”

With some Abyssinian language and muttered oaths, Ayres tapped out the message.
Suddenly the door was flung open and into the room stepped a man dressed in the uniform of a captain of Russian Hussars.

“I am NOT the King of Bohemia!” he declared.
“Across the landing!” chorused Ayres and Bananas, without looking up.
* * *

Down in Devon, as the coach rattled off on the road from the inn, the old local man that Miss Lindy had questioned the previous night, joined Bob the landlord at the door, waving them off.

"Is she the one then?" Asked Bob the landlord.
The old local replied:
"Oh she’s The Slayer all right, she just don’t know it yet!"

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