“I tell you she is a Vampire!” Exclaimed Ayres.
“Don’t be ridiculous; this is 1888, not the middle ages,” I said.
“Professor Van Hellsing gave a lecture at the Royal Society and he said…” continued Ayres.
“Never mind what this Van Herring said,” I countered, ”you’ll be telling us next that…”
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt…did you see her incisors?” Ayres returned.
“All Americans have good teeth, it’s the dental plans!” I thrust back.
“This is getting us nowhere; her message was disturbing to me at least”
said Gorilla Bananas, forcing us to pause.
Such was the nature of our heated debate that night in Baker Street while we watched from the upstairs window as her magnificent red carriage disappeared into the London night, taking her off to Drury Lane for another sell out performance.
It had all been so different an hour before:
Ayres it turned out, was a great admirer of the singer and had pulled out his large assemblage for her inspection. He insisted she examine it, now engorged, with paper cuttings and scraps, begging her autograph on this bit or that.
McShae, his bonnet removed in her presence, sat statue still. No doubt the boat lag, and the illustrious company and the first showings of beriberi conspiring together to overwhelm him. He took another sip from his flask.
“Quinine, ye ken.” he muttered.
This activity allowed Gorilla Bananas the chance of his expert appraisal. I, as an acolyte of his astonishing deductive powers, tried likewise.
With she and Ayres sitting snug on the couch, we took in the great lady. Not an arduous task, it has to be said. Her cloak of the most profound black cast aside, we studied her, from her luxuriant hair and full lips (of a deep burgundy), to her matching gown of the deepest velvet red, a wide cut vee showing her snow white attributes to stunning effect.
At her bosom hung two drop gems the size of plovers’ eggs. A hot ruby and a cool sapphire; reputedly gifts from foreign potentates. Unable to take his eyes from them, Ayres asked:
“Are they yours?” nodding his head with a wink at her womanly embonpoint.
“Ayres! Please! A gentleman would never ask such a thing!” I protested.
“I was referring to the settings of the stones Maroon! I read somewhere that Ms Redhead makes her own jewellery.” Said Ayres hotly.
“Relaax Doktor,” she said with a smile, “I knew vott he meant. Vould you like to hold zem, Zir Kim?”
“I Vouldn’t, I mean I wouldn’t, mind.” croaked Ayres, reaching out a shaking hand.
But at that, the lights started flashing, the brass bell rang and the paper tape tickered out the slot, and Ayres tore himself away to investigate.
“Oh,” I continued, “I thought you were an American.”
“Zat iss correkt Doktor, yew-ezz-ay, all zay vay!”
“But your accent?..” I stammered
“Vott of it?”
“Perhaps” interjected Bananas, “Ms Redhead would like to tell us the purpose of her visit.”
We were to learn later, that while our discussion raged thus, many miles away in Devon, not far from Castle Alucard in fact, a brave and intrepid young lady was stepping down from a coach with the rest of the passengers; the coachman having refused to go any further that night.
“We’ll all get rooms at this ‘ere inn. Arr.” He said.
“Why? Is it unsafe to travel further on this road? Are there things abroad by moonlight on the Moor?” Asked Miss Lindy, her shorthand notebook and pencil at the ready.
“That there be, ma’am! Tain’t safe to travel no further, things bein’ what they is up at the Castle an’ all. Beggin’ your pardon miss, but you is travellin’ to the Castle isn’t you?”
“I certainly am. But you’re right, this will do for tonight.”
“My thoughts too, bein’ bold if I may. Twill be a better journay by daylight.”
And with that, the coachman led them into the inn. The keenly observant Miss Lindy noticed a friendly wink of recognition pass between the coachman and the landlord, who was standing at his door now, holding it open for them. For reassurance, she slipped her hand into her carpetbag resting it on the familiar texture of the sharpened stakes, the mallet, and most importantly The Book.
Not far up the road from the inn, Dr Evil was continuing with his preparations for “The Gathering.”
“Sarah ! Sarah!” He called from his baronial dining hall. “Where is that girl?”
“Here Pops” she replied. Appearing in the room on a wave of gardenia and petuli. “what is it you want?”
“Sit there and tell me what you think” said the excited maniac.
She slumped down and started fiddling with a short knobbly candlestick, stroking it thoughtfully.
Dr Evil spread his arms wide and sashayed across the floor, allowing his cloak to billow.
“What dya think? Isn’t this just darling? Oh this is sooo going to wow them! I can’t wait!” he exclaimed.
“Do I have to be there? It’s only a lousy Gathering. Say, can I have this candlestick for my room?” she asked.
“No! And not the candle either! We’ve spoken about this whole issue of your “toys“ before…And you are sooo going to be there my girl!” said Evil, stamping a foot.
Dr Evil’s butler chose this moment to unwisely interrupt his master.
"There’ss a Ssafety Inspector here to look at the generatorss my Lord.” he announced.
“Sonofa...Damn you Eater! Damn you to black Damnation! What does he want?” raged Evil, beside himself.
“He’s from the council apparently; there’ss been a complaint.”
In the warmth of Baker street, Ms redhead took up her tale:
“My cousin Dr Evil, zent me as an emissary Mr Bananas, to invite you down to Devon, he sayz you have no need of spies and zuchlike, you need only ask. He velcomes the challenge you present to hiz planz and vishes only to see you in ze flesh az it vere."
We three, took this news in stunned amazement, but none more so than Ayres who stood at the mantle staring at her, the tickertape message dropping to the floor.
“Zat is all I haff to zay Mr Bananas,” she continued. “Can I drop you anyvere, Mr McShae? Come, with hair like zat I haff a feeling you’re going my vay.”
and with a dramatic flourish, she stood and led the entranced McShae out to her carriage.
“What is it Ayres?” Asked Gorilla Bananas, concern for the first time in his voice.
“She wasn’t in the mirror! I stole a look at her in the mirror, and I could only see an empty davenport!” he said, gibbering slightly.
Seeing the slip of paper on the rug, I picked it up. It read: