Read The Mystery in Dracula's Castle Online

Authors: Vic Crume

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

The Mystery in Dracula's Castle (9 page)

 

 

 

Down in the doorway, as Keith and Noah headed for the Volkswagen, the sudden roar of the foghorn split the air. And almost before the first bellow died away, a roman candle came hissing downward, exploding in a burst of red and green stars.

"Fireworks! Those blasted kids found the fireworks!" Keith exclaimed.

"You and your fireworks!" Noah shouted angrily. "Let's get out of here!"

They hurriedly tossed their luggage into the Volkswagen. But before they could climb in themselves, three more roman candles came hurtling down almost on top of them. In a fiery shower of gold, silver, red, blue, and green stars, the two men dashed for cover.

CHAPTER 9

In the brilliant light of the exploding fireworks, Alfie had a clear view of Keith and Noah scurrying away from the Volkswagen.

"Keep em coming, Leonard," he shouted back from his lookout on the walkway. "We've got 'em on the run!"

Inside the lantern gallery, Leonard and Jean worked at top speed to keep Alfie in fireworks ammunition. Leonard was in charge of lighting the fuses and handing the candles on to Jean. She acted as the supply line and dashed from Leonard to Alfie with each sputtering explosive.

"Here you are, Alfie," she panted. "Fire away!"

She waited a second on the walkway to watch the spectacular star-burst that followed Alfie's well-aimed pitch, then rushed back inside. "Leonard!" she screamed. "
Watch out
!"

Leonard was staring in horror at the roman candle in his hand. The lighted fuse was burning much too fast and its glowing tip snaked along at lightning speed toward the explosive charge.

"Throw it!" Jean screamed.

As she and Leonard ran for cover, the released candle exploded in a hissing blast of light. Smoke filled the small room and sparks fell like fiery raindrops.

On the walkway, Alfie whirled around. "Jean! Leonard! You okay?" he shouted.

"The room's on fire," Jean shouted back.

Alfie took a deep breath and dove inside. His eyes smarted in the smoke-filled air, which was now turning an ugly dull pink. Jean was swatting at the flames with her jacket, and Leonard was hopping up and down like a jack-in-the-box, stamping out curls of flame that glowed on the floor.

Then, in one stinging, tear-filled glance, Alfie saw the most dreadful sight of all — dark letters showing clearly in the light of the flames that flared and crept along the sides of a wooden box: DYNAMITE. Then he remembered Keiths words: "Dynamite? Oh, you must mean my
fireworks
."

Alfie tore off his T-shirt and began batting at the flames. "Let's get this fire out!" he shouted, "or there's going to be plenty more fireworks —
plenty
."

Noah Baxter lifted his face from the sand. He saw the pinkish glow in the lantern gallery. "Keith!" he exclaimed. "Get up! We've got to get out of here."

Keith Raynor looked up. "It's on fire!" he exclaimed, horrified. "Noah — the dynamite! We've got to get those kids out of there!" He sprang to his feet and ran toward the lighthouse.

Noah raced behind him. He leaped into the Volkswagen. "Come on!" he shouted. "This is our one chance!"

Keith shouted back. "You put the dynamite up there. Those kids could be killed!"

"I'm not staying," Noah yelled back, starting the engine.

"I'm no murderer," Keith yelled. "I've got to let those kids out."

"Be the hero," Noah screamed after Keith. "I'm leaving." He swung the Volkswagen down the drive.

Too late! Sheriff Wyndham's patrol car, siren sounding and red warning light revolving, swung off the road into the drive.

Noah stopped and got out of the little car, hands raised over his head.

Sheriff Wyndham climbed out of the patrol car and ran up the driveway. "What's the idea?" he said angrily. "You know fireworks are illegal in this county."

Noah Baxter's jaw dropped. He was so sure he was about to be arrested that now he couldn't believe his ears. "I just — "

There was a sudden hissing, swishing sound above them. Both Noah and the Sheriff rushed out of range of the exploding stars and almost ran into the headlights of Marsha Booth's car, which came to a screeching stop.

Above them, the flames suddenly shot out from the lantern gallery. "What's going on?" Marsha Booth asked anxiously.

"You can't pin this on me," Noah Baxter said nervously. "I'm no killer."

Sheriff Wyndham and Marsha Booth stared at him in amazement. "Can't pin
what
on you?" the Sheriff asked. "What are you talking about?"

Noah squirmed. "The kids. Keith. They're up there."

"No!" Marsha Booth cried. She started forward. But as the Sheriff pulled her back, Keith, Jean, Alfie, Leonard, and Watson, came racing out of the lighthouse.

"Run!" Keith screamed. "
Run
! The dynamite! It's about to go!"

Like rabbits, seven people and one small dog bounded across the drive and down the road. As they flung themselves to the ground, there was an earth-shattering BOOM.

In one glorious burst of fireworks and one terrible blast of dynamite, the old lantern gallery blew sky-high!

When the last thudding blast died away, Watson scrambled up from the huddled group, shook off a small cloud of sand, and sneezed briefly. Ready for more action, he trotted off as the others were just getting to their feet.

"Alfie — Leonard! You could have been killed!"

Marsha Booth brushed the tears off her cheeks and hugged her sons.

In the moonlight, Sheriff Wyndham looked from the tattered, smoke-smudged boys and his own smudge-streaked daughter, to Keith and Noah. "Will someone kindly tell me what's going on around here?" he asked.

Leonard pointed to Keith and Noah. "They've got my necklace."

"Your
necklace? What
necklace?"

"They're jewel thieves, Dad," Jean Wyndham said hotly. "Arrest them!"

"
Jewel thieves
!" Keith Raynor exclaimed. "Nonsense! I never heard anything so silly in — "

His words ended as Watson, who had been tearing at a knapsack on the front seat of Noah's car, skidded to a halt in front of Leonard.

"Watson!" Leonard cried. He bent down and took the necklace from Watson's jaws. "
This
isn't nonsense, Sheriff Wyndham. It's the Daumier jewels. And they're worth one hundred thousand dollars — Mr. Raynor and Mr. Baxter said so. They stole it, and Mr. Wasdahl is their
fence
."

Sheriff Wyndham's jaw dropped. "Bill Wasdahl! A crook!" The Sheriff's hand went to his gun holster and Keith and Noah backed up. "Okay, you two. We'll clear this up back in town. Get going."

CHAPTER 10

Sheriff Wyndham and Jean were helping Alfie and Marsha Booth lash the bicycles onto the back of the Booths' car.

"I'll never forget this summer," the sheriff said. "Bill Wasdahl mixed up with jewel thieves." He shook his head. "You folks coming back next summer?"

"We haven't missed a summer yet," Mrs. Booth replied gaily. She stowed her typewriter into one last space. "Alfie — where's Leonard? We're all set to go."

"I was going to ask the same thing," the sheriff said. "I've a little something here for him."

Alfie looked up interestedly. "What?"

Just then Leonard came around the corner of the cottage. He was walking very slowly and looking down at his sneakers.

"I can't find Watson anywhere," he said sadly.

"Oh, he'll show up," Sheriff Wyndham smiled. "Look, Leonard. I want you to have this." He held out a real deputy sheriff's badge and bent down to pin it on Leonard's shirt. "There now. It's official. You're my Special Deputy Sheriff. I couldn't have cracked this case without you."

Leonard's face brightened, but only for a second. Once again he looked down at his sneakers. "Thanks, but half of it belongs to Watson."

Alfie stared at his brother as though he were seeing Leonard for the first time. "
Half
the credit!" he thought. And suddenly he could see the credits at the beginning of his film — "Written by, produced by, photographed by,
everything
by Alfred Booth."

"All the time I was laughing at him, he was sticking to being a detective and
he's
the one who really cracked the case. He hasn't said once, 'I told you so.' And now here he is saying he should get only
half
the credit!"

Alfie cleared his throat. "Leonard— no wonder I call you 'dumb' sometimes! Can't you remember?
You're
Sherlock Holmes. And I bet Mr. Flack will be wanting to talk with you. Boy! Getting his jewels back and everything! That was something!"

Leonard still looked miserable. He shook his head.

"We'll have to go now, Leonard," his mother said gently. "We can't wait any longer for Watson." She turned to Sheriff Wyndham. "He's been gone since we started packing last night. I guess he is the town dog. We can't expect him to leave just because we have to go."

"Don't worry, Leonard," Jean said kindly. "I'll take good care of him while you're gone, and he'll be right here waiting for you next summer."

Marsha Booth got into the car. "Jump in, boys. Time to say good-bye."

Alfie climbed in and, slowly, Leonard followed. Marsha Booth switched on the motor. "Bye!" she called.

"See you next summer," Alfie grinned.

Leonard only lifted his hand in a sad wave. "But Watson's my partner," he said in a whispery voice.

"Bye!" the Wyndhams called after them. They watched the car move slowly down the street.

"Hey, Dad! Look!" Jean cried out.

Sheriff Wyndham tilted back his hat. "Well, I'll be darned! Looks like we're losing the town dog after all."

Watson, at top speed and barking his finest, raced after the Booths.

"Maybe they won't see him," Jean said anxiously.

"See him! They'll hear him," the sheriff laughed. "Don't worry!"

The two watched the Booth car slow to a stop. Leonard jumped out and swept up Watson in his arms. Then all three Booths turned to look back up the street. Three hands waved a happy, final farewell and there was a cheerful good-bye bark from Watson.

The Wyndhams waved back. "There goes Trouble," the sheriff grinned.

"There goes Watson, you mean, Dad. After all — "

"After all, what?" her father asked.

"After all," Jean said softly, "who ever heard of a Watson deserting a Sherlock Holmes? Especially the one who solved the mystery in Dracula's Castle?"

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