Read The Mystery in Dracula's Castle Online

Authors: Vic Crume

Tags: #mystery, #dracula, #juvenile, #disney

The Mystery in Dracula's Castle (8 page)

Jean laughed. "I know. Red carpets, flowers, everything."

"Sure," Alfie said seriously. "I want it to be a regular Hollywood premiere."

Leonard could see that nobody was really interested in listening to him. "Come, Watson," he said.

Leonard's next try was his mother. Maybe she'd listen. "Mom, it's my necklace. Something's wrong. It's changed. I just
know
it's different."

Mrs. Booth turned away from her typewriter. "Sounds as though you have a real mystery on your hands."

Leonard nodded. "That's what I think."

"Have you any suspects?" his mother smiled. "In my books, the person most unlikely to commit a crime is the one who is the criminal. Has anybody shown an interest in the necklace?"

Long after Leonard had gone to bed he was thinking of the right answer to his mother's question. Scenes flashed into his mind. Noah had said it was nice. Keith said he could use it for a collage. Bill Wasdahl had offered him a trade. Jean liked it, and Alfie had wanted to use it for a trade. "In the morning, first thing, I'm going to make a list of suspects," he thought sleepily. "First thing."

Right after breakfast, Leonard started his questioning with Jean. "Sure I said your necklace was pretty, Leonard." She smiled. "But I'm a beads person myself. I'm going to need help with the cookies for the party. Are you going to be around?"

Leonard quietly crossed Jean's name off the list.

Alfie was next, but Leonard found it hard to believe Alfie was a real suspect. He drew a line through Alfie's name. "That leaves only Noah Baxter and Keith Raynor," Leonard said to himself. "But if they'd really wanted the necklace, they could have gone down the cliff themselves. I'd never have seen it again. I might as well give up. Without them I just don't have any suspects."

He put the list in his pocket. As he started out of the kitchen, a question popped into his mind. "What would Sherlock Holmes do right now?" And Leonard knew the answer. "He wouldn't give up," he said aloud.

"What did you say, Leonard?" Jean asked.

"Oh — nothing," Leonard replied.

CHAPTER 8

Sheriff Wyndham's car was already parked in the Booth's driveway when Noah Baxter and Keith Raynor arrived for Alfie's premiere.

"I don't like this," Noah grumbled. "Suppose the sheriff recognizes the necklace in the movie?"

Keith Raynor laughed. "That small-town hayseed? Forget it. Come on. Let's get this over with."

Both men managed to smile when Marsha Booth greeted them at the front door. Alfie's premiere seemed to be getting off to a great start. Everything was ready — from lighted candles on the refreshment table to eerie music on the phonograph.

Leonard, wearing the necklace, went from person to person with a plate loaded with cookies. "Hi, Mr. Baxter. Want a cookie?"

Noah Baxter's hand went out — and stopped. He stared at Leonard's necklace. "How —?"

Keith Raynor hastily spoke. "I see you got your necklace back. That's great."

Leonard didn't blink. "I got it with my fishing line, but it's not mine."

Keith tried to smile. "Oh? Whose is it?"

"I don't know," Leonard answered. "But I'm going to find out."

Keith shrugged. "If you want my opinion, it's the same ordinary costume jewelry you had before. Unfortunately, I've finished the collage I was working on. I don't want it."

"Oh." Leonard's voice showed his disappointment. Mentally, he crossed Keith's name off the list of suspects.

He looked at Noah Baxter. "Have another cookie, Mr. Baxter. Do you think dreams mean anything?"

"What?" Noah reached for a cookie.

"I had a dream about you. I dreamed you took my necklace."

Noah suddenly uncrossed his legs. His foot hit the bottom of the loaded cookie plate and cookies rolled in all directions. He bent over to help pick them up. "Now look what you made me do," he said, trying to laugh. "You just had a dream, kid. I never wanted your necklace."

Leonard stared at him suspiciously. He turned away, put down the cookie plate, took out his suspect list, and quickly circled Noah Baxter's name.

"Okay, everybody. Sit down. We're ready to start," Alfie called out. "Leonard, will you turn off the lights?"

Jean turned on the record player, and to the strains of chilling, stirring music, Alfie's masterpiece began.

Across the screen, the title loomed up —
Dracula and the Sheriff's Daughter
. Next came the credits — Directed, Produced, Written, Photographed, Edited, and Scored by Alfred Booth.

Everybody clapped and concentrated on the screen — everybody but Noah Baxter. He still had his mind on Leonard. "That kid's up to something," he thought uneasily. He glanced toward Leonard's chair.

It was empty.

 

 

 

On the cliff, the lighthouse loomed against the sky, pale as a tombstone beneath the moon and stars. From the rocks below came the boom of crashing surf.

Leonard propped his bike against a dark clump of bushes. Then, picking up Watson and the flashlight he had brought along, he started up the driveway.

Watson scampered on ahead and was already scratching at the door by the time Leonard reached it. Leonard turned the knob. Locked. "Maybe they've left a window open. Come on, Watson," Leonard said.

There was no window open, but he found a small window in the storage room that was unlocked. Leonard opened it easily. But before he could even turn on his flashlight, Watson vanished over the window sill.

"Watson! Wait!" Leonard cried. "Come back here!"

A faraway, cheerful bark came from the darkness. Leonard flashed his light and followed Watson into the lighthouse. The strong beam of the flashlight fell on the burned out wall safe but no Watson was in sight. Fearfully, Leonard moved on until a noise from above brought him to a sudden stop. It was Watson on the stairs outside the second floor workshop.

"Come on down here!" Leonard called. "We're supposed to be searching
together
."

Watson signaled with a departing wag of his tail and trotted on into the workroom. Leonard hesitated a moment, then hurried up the stairs. "You're supposed to be following me — not me following —" He broke off as his glance went to the worktable.

Twisted in a golden glitter was the Daumier necklace. "My necklace!" Leonard exclaimed. He hurried over to pick it up. Not a ruby was left!

While he was still staring at the remains of the once beautiful necklace, headlight beams flashed across the room and Leonard heard the roar of the Volkswagen zooming up the drive.

Grabbing the necklace, he scooted to a window. The drop below was much too far. Frantically, he looked around. As footsteps sounded on the stairs, he swept Watson up in his arms and crawled under the worktable. He bumped against a heavy wooden box — the coffin box. Leonard shuddered and held Watson closer. "Don't bark," he begged.

Keith Raynor and Noah Baxter walked in. Leonard could see their shoes. Then his view widened as the two men crossed the room and went straight to a small steel box. Keith opened it and lifted out seven glowing rubies set in a brand new necklace.

"One thing I'm sure of," Keith said. "Nobody will recognize the Daumier jewels now."

"The Daumier jewels!" Leonard gasped to himself. "Of course! They were stolen from Mr. Flack!"

"Let's celebrate," Keith was saying. "A hundred thousand dollar necklace in the clear is worth a toast. I'll go down and get some drinks."

"The fence ought to be getting here any minute," Noah said.

Keith laughed. "Yeah. Bill isn't going to recognize the jewels now. I'll be back in a second."

Fence— that would be the man who was going to sell the stolen jewels for them. Leonard listened as Keith's footsteps on the staircase faded away.

Two shoes moved over by the table. "I know you're there, kid. I can see your mutt's tail. Come on out," a hard voice said.

There was a moment's absolute silence, then— WHAM! Leonard shoved hard on the pine box. It went hurtling out — straight into Noah Baxter's shins. In the same second Leonard and Watson shot out from the other side of the table. Leonard swerved to snatch the necklace from the steel box, then made a rush for the stairs.

"Keith!" Noah yelled. "Get him!"

But Keith, tray in hand, was no match for Leonard or Watson. They plowed past him and were out the front door before Keith realized what was happening.

"After them!" Noah shrieked, hobbling down the stairs as fast as he could. "They've got the necklace!"

In the darkness beyond the lighthouse entrance, Leonard crashed straight into a man heading for the doorway.

"Help! Help!" he cried out. "They're after me! They're jewel thieves!"

"Bill," Noah shouted. "Grab that kid. He's got the jewels!"

Bill! That was the name of the man Noah had called "the fence"! Too late Leonard realized he was begging the wrong person for help. He struggled in the iron grip of the man standing in the dark. "Let me
go
!" he cried — and looked up.

To his amazement, he saw Bill Wasdahl, the town jeweler. And his name hadn't even appeared on the suspects list that Leonard had left in the kitchen!

 

 

 

In the storage room of the lighthouse, the three jewel thieves clustered together. "You can't keep that kid locked up there in the lantern gallery," Bill Wasdahl said. "That's kidnapping. I didn't expect anything like this."

"Who's kidnapping?" Noah Baxter asked. "They'll find him by tomorrow, and by that time we'll be long gone. I'm not sticking around here to become a ward of the state. And you take my advice — get yourself out of the country too, while there's still time."

Bill's eyes widened. "You can count me out of this deal," he said. And, without adding another word, he brushed past Keith and Noah. The door banged behind him.

Seconds later, the headlights of his car picked out the figures of Alfie Booth and Jean Wyndham trudging up the driveway. He ducked his head and sped past them.

 

 

 

"Hi!"

Noah Baxter's hand froze on the handle of the Volkswagen door. He swung around. "Jean! Alfie! What are you doing here?"

"Leonard's missing," Jean said. "We think he's around here somewhere. Mrs. Booth is out in her car looking for him, and my dad is searching too. We decided to come here."

"His bike's down there in the bushes," Alfie said. "We spotted it."

Keith stepped around from the other side of the car. "Well, let's take a look," he said. "Come on, Noah. We'll search the place from
bottom to top
."

Noah looked doubtful, but he followed the group into the lighthouse.

On the first floor they found the window open in the storage room. On the second floor, Jean discovered Leonard's flashlight where it had rolled out from under the worktable. Keith took it and frowned. "We'd better go up to the lantern gallery. That's the last place to look."

But at the top of the stairs, Alfie saw that the trapdoor was bolted. "He wouldn't be there, Mr. Raynor. It's locked from this side."

"Better look," Keith replied, unbolting the door.

"Yeah, better look," Noah Baxter growled.

And almost before Jean and Alfie knew it, they had joined Leonard and Watson in the dark lantern gallery — pushed in by Keith and Noah.

"Alfie! Jean!" Leonard gulped. "They're jewel thieves! My necklace — it was the Daumier jewels!"

The bolt on the trapdoor thudded into place. For a second there was dead silence in the round, glass room high above the crashing surf. Then Alfie yelled out, "We've got to stop them. We've
got
to!"

"How?" Jean asked hopelessly. "We can't even signal for help. Mr. Raynor took the flashlight."

Alfie bounded to the windows overlooking the driveway. "They haven't left yet," he said excitedly.

"What's the difference?" Jean said gloomily. "We're stuck here."

"Maybe not! I've got the matches I used to light the candles on the refreshment table," Alfie said.

Leonard shook his head. "You can't signal with matches, and there aren't any candles here."

But Alfie had other ideas. He struck a match and made his way to the old instrument panel. "The foghorn. It works from here somewhere. That'd bring help!"

"We should have let Mr. Raynor show us how things worked," Jean said. "He was going to when we were filming — "

Alfie interrupted. "I'll pull everything.
Something
ought to start!" He stared at the switches and dials. "Here goes!"

In seconds, the bellow of the foghorn came blasting in their ears, and the huge old lamp that once guided ships at sea began to glow dimly. Then its light quickly died down.

"No oil," Jean said desperately.

But in the dying light, Leonard spotted the sign on one of the two wooden boxes Noah had carried up to the lantern gallery. "Fireworks!" he exclaimed.

"That solves our signal problem!" Alfie shouted. "Come on!"

Leonard frowned. "That's funny," he thought. "The 'fireworks' box downstairs had 'Dynamite' written on the side of it."

But this was no time for just
thinking
, and Leonard rushed to help Alfie unload stacks of red-wrapped roman candles packed in a bed of straw.

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