This is Jana, and I’m here with another episode of The Dutch Hotel.
The Duel - Part 1
Norman was the new Chauffeur at the Dutch Hotel. He lovingly cared for the hotel’s three luxury cars, including a rolls-royce silver shadow. But he himself did not own a car. He lived a few miles up the road from the hotel, in Kilburn, and rode to work on his electric scooter. Dave, one of the bellhops, went one better and had an electric skateboard which he used in Hyde Park, where he effortlessly sailed past all the foot-powered skateboarders.
Now as you may know, the Dutch Hotel was managed by Alan and his wife Angeliki. Their two children, Yogi and Nafsi, both wanted electric scooters or skateboards for their birthdays and their mother said “No, absolutely not,” because they were way too dangerous, especially in central London with all the hostile traffic. In fact, strictly speaking, e-scooters weren’t yet legal on the roads, not even in the cycle lanes, and certainly not on the pavements.
But of course Norman didn’t know about Angeliki’s views on electric scooters and so sometimes he let the kids ride his scooter around the mews at the back of the hotel, which was very quiet, so nothing too terrible could happen there. He did say that they both had to wear their bike helmets though. The surface of the mews wasn’t exactly ideal for scooting - it was made of cobbles and it was extra bumpy, but that also made it kind of fun.
One day in the holidays, they were particularly pleased because Dave let them try out his electric skateboard. It did take a bit of getting used to, Nafsi realised when she fell off and grazed her arm. She hoped her Mum wouldn’t notice when she got back to their apartment at the hotel. While Norman was in the garage, polishing the angel on the bonnet of the Rolls, Nafsi and Yogi tried a race to see which was fastest, the skateboard or the scooter. They started at one end of the mews, just under the arch that ran through the building, and Yogi called out:
“Get Ready, Get Set, Go!”
And off they went, bumpity, bump over the cobbles, both laughing, with Nafsi on the Skateboard in the lead by a nose. As both of them had to slow down before reaching the end of the muse, it was a little difficult to say for sure who had won. So after arguing for a minute or two, they decided to race back up the mews to the arch. Only this time Yogi was on the Skateboard and Nafsi was riding the scooter. When they had swapped vehicles, Yogi looked around and said:
“That’s odd. Does the mews seem different to you?”
“Well yes it does,” agreed Nafsi. “The door to the garage is green, not white, and somebody has hung some washing up on a line. They like baggy clothes, whoever they are.”
They rode back up the arch, not racing, but at normal speed. Even before they took a look down the street, they heard the clip-clop of horse’s hooves. That wasn’t totally unusual - horses do live in London, but when they went through the arch, they both saw something that they had only seen in a Sherlock Holmes movie. The horse was pulling a two-wheeled hansom cab, a kind of horse-drawn taxi. And the driver was sitting high up behind the cab wearing a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat to keep the drizzling rain off his face.
“Do you know what I’m thinking?” asked Yogi.
And Nafsi replied, “Yes, because I’m thinking the same. Nothing is like it usually is. There should be a double yellow line along the road, and there isn’t. Look at the street-lights Yogi. They’re different. They’re made of iron and have glass lamps at the top. You see that girl over there?” Yogi looked at where Nafsi was pointing and they saw a girl sweeping the steps of a house across the road but she was wearing a very old fashioned black and white uniform.
“Are the people here ghosts?” Asked Yogi.
“I’m not too sure. But I’ve got the feeling that maybe we are the ghosts, because we shouldn’t be here. This is like 200 years ago.”
“Who says we shouldn’t be here? Mum and Dad run the hotel, even if they are 200 years in the future. Let’s go and see what it’s like inside.”
So the kids walked around the corner to the front of the hotel. Nafsi pushed her scooter along, and Yogi carried the skateboard under his arm. A smart door man was standing on the steps wearing a red uniform with white pin-stripes on his trousers.
“I know him,” said Nafsi right away. “He came to our New Year’s Eve Party.”
“Yah loads oof ghosts turned up for that,” said Yogi Shall we see if he remembers us?””
So they went up to the steps of the hotel. “Excuse me sir,” said Nafsi, “Do you remember meeting us? You were at our New Year’s party.”
The door man looked down at them. “Well now, if you aren’t the most peculiar pair of children I ever did se.,”
“We’re dressed like this because we’re from the future,” said Nafsi. “And you must know about that, because we’ve seen you in the future. You see our father, Alan, and our mother, Angeliki, are the managers of the Dutch Hotel, or at least, they will be, in the future.”
The doorman scratched his head. “I really don’t understand what in the world you’re talking about,” he replied.
“If you don’t believe us, just watch this,” said Yogi, excitedly. Then he put the e-skateboard on the ground, stood on it, and made it go forward, before hopping off. “See, I bet you’ve never seen anything like that before because it hasn’t even been invented yet,” he declared.
“No, I can’t say I have seen anything like that. Not here in London, anyway.”
“That’s because you haven’t been to the future - yet - but we know that you will because we’ve already met you at our New Year’s Eve Party,” said Nafsi.
“Now you’ve really got me confused. Step inside and meet Mr. Cooper who’s in charge of the reception. He claims to have visited the future more than once and there’s nothing he likes better than an audience for his stories.”
The inside of the hotel was surprisingly similar to its future-self. In particular, the kids noticed the huge reception desk made out of walnut wood. When they took over the hotel, it was scraped, scuffed and covered in dust. Their dad had worked for three days in his garage to restore the desk to its former glory.
As for the room itself, the future builders rescued a small piece of the plaster cornice and ordered copies so that they could return the ceiling to its former glory. The black and white marble floor was no different - all glistening and shiny. Of course some of the details were different. Candles, instead of computer screens shimmered in the corners of the reception, but all in all, the kids saw that their dad and the builders had done a pretty good job of keeping the hotel lobby historically accurate.
Mr Cooper himself stood behind the reception desk. His appearance was not exactly warm and welcoming as would be required in a modern hotel. If anything, his foreboding appearance might make you want to turn around and head straight home. Yogi thought he looked like an angry head-teacher. You could not fault him for smartness though. He wore a dark suit, with a wing collar and burgundy red tie.
“Mr Cooper, Sir,” said the doorman. “You may be interested to meet these two peculiar looking, but highly respectable, young persons, seeing as they say they have come directly from the future.”
The expression on Mr Cooper’s face changed immediately. All of a sudden he was wearing a friendly smile. “Well, well, well,” he said leaning over the desk, “If it isn’t Miss Nafsi and Master Yogi, what a delightful surprise. What brings you here to the present day?”
“Well, er, sir, we came here by accident,” said Nafsi.
“Just like I did when I met you too in the future. You know Edward,” he said turning to the doorman, “the future is a most remarkable place. Miss Nafsi and Master Yogi could tell you about a thousand marvels that would make your head quite dizzy with disbelief, only it’s all true.”
“They’ve demonstrated their vehicles sir,” said the doorman. “That move by themselves without any pushing or pulling.”
“Most, remarkable,” said Mr Cooper.
“Excuse me sir,” said Yogi, “But I think this is the first time that we have met you. We have seen Edward the doorman at our New Year’s party, only he doesn’t remember seeing us.”
“Ah yes,” said Mr Coope tapping the deskd. “It ca get all very confusing. I do believe that when I met you last, you were a little bit taller than you are now.”
“Well that would explain it,” said Nafsi. “We only moved into the hotel a few months ago. We are probably going to meet you a bit later. And although we’ve already met Edward, he hasn’t had time to meet us yet. If that makes any sense.”
“Yes, I do believe it does,” said Mr Cooper. “Well what can I do for you two? Would you care for some tea and cake?”
“That would be very nice, thank you,” said Nafsi. “We’ve had victoria sponge cake before, but we’ve never had real victorian cake.”
“So you’re in for a treat,” said Mr Cooper. “Take a seat in the drawing room. Edward will show you the way…. But of course you know where it is. You live in the hotel - or you will do, in about 170or so years from now.”
The kids thanked Mr Cooper and went through the double doors into what was called the Amsterdam Room in the modern era. The name was supposed to evoke the Dutch history of the hotel.
They sat down at a table and before long a maid brought them an ornate silver tea service, as well as some pretty rose patterned cups and plates. The cake stand had three different types of cake - Victoria Sponge, Ginger Cake and Fruit Cake. The maid said that they should try a small piece of each, so as not to miss out on any of the delicious cakes. The kids agreed. Yogi’s mouth was too full of cake to speak, but Nafsi asked the maid if she knew about the Dutch Brothers who owned the hotel.
“Yes of course,” she said, “that would be Mr Lucas and Mr Levi.”
“We heard a story,” said Nafsi, “that they both loved the same girl, and that they fought a duel, and that’s why the hotel’s haunted.”
As she spoke the maid’s cheeks flushed bright red. “Well little miss, I’ve heard something like that story too, but I can tell you it’sa lot of ggossip. Ther’s nno truth in the matter at all.”
“Well that’s a pity,” said Nafsi, “Because it’s quite a romantic story - but of course it’s not nice about them shooting each other in the duel.”
“Shooting each other, you say?” asked the maid.
“It’s just a story,” said Nafsi. “I’m sure it’s not true. But in our time, in the future, the hotel uses it in their marketing literature.”
“According to the story, which of course is totally made up, did the brothers survive?” Asked the maid.
“Oh no, in the story, they killed each other, and that’s why there are ghosts in the hotel, but of course we know that there aren’t exactly ghosts, it’s more like time travelers.said Yogi.”
“Oh right,” said the maid, now looking more pale than red. “Goodness me, what a story that is! Mr Lucas and Mr Levi murdering each other!Hhowcan such a terrible thing happen righthere att the hotel!”
“Oh they didn’t shoot each other at the hotel,” said Yogi. “According to the story they did it in Hyde Park!”
“In Hyde Park, well that’s hardly any better is it now?”cried the maid, who hurried off rather suddenly.
“Do you know what?” said Nafsi, “I don’t think we should mention the story of the duel any more. It only seems like a romantic story for us because it happened so long before we were born. But for anyone who is alive now, it might be a bit upsetting, even if it isn’t true.”
“It’s not true …yet,” said Yogi. “But I see what you mean. We won’t mention it to anyone.”
After tea and cake, the kids went to thank Mr Cooper for the hotel’s hospitality, and Nafsi added,
“But I think we’d better get going now before our parents wonder where we’ve gone.”
“Or we could wait and see them in 200 years time,” laughed Yogi.
They both assumed that if they raced their e-scooter and e-skateboard along the muse, they would slip back into the present. But however much they raced, they were still stuck in the past. Eventually, they gave up, and returned to the lobby to explain their predicament to Mr. Cooper.
“This is my advice,” he said after he’d heard them out. “Based on my experience, you have to return at around the same time of day that you arrived. In this case that would be around 11 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
“But our mother will be having kittens,” exclaimed Nafsi. Mr Cooper scratched his head, somewhat puzzled. “I mean, our parents will be ever so worried if we are away for a whole day and night.”
“But you won’t be away any time at all,” said Mr Cooper. “You will most likely return at exactly the same time you left.”
“Oh, that’s a relief,” said Nafsi. “But where can we stay for the night?”
“That much is easy to solve. We’re a hotel. We have rooms.”
“But we don’t have any old-fashioned money,” said Yogi, pulling a modern one pound coin out of his pocket.
“Pay? Why should you pay? You live in the hotel, albei almostt170 years in the future. Now, let me see. We have the Princess’s suite available for Miss Nafsi, and the Prince’s suite for young master Giorgi. I trust that you will find your stay with us comfortable, even if the conveniences of the year 1855 are somewhat primitive compared to the scientific improvements of the future.”
“Well we know that you have better cake than we are used to, so I expect that everything else will be just as good.”
“I do so hope your confidence in us will prove justified.”
Their confidence was more than justified. The Dutch Hotel of 1855 was as luxurious as any modern hotel, although in order to have a bath, you had to ring a bell and ask the valet or maid to bring hot water in buckets. The staff laid out clothes so that the children would not look conspicuous in their modern dress.
The clean and freshly clothed children ate a huge dinner in the dining hall. The plates and silver platters kept on coming - soup, fish, roast pheasant, green beans, berries, treacle pudding and pastries.
The kids were waddling back into the lobby when they saw two young men coming down the wide staircase. They instantly knew who they were because they were identical twins. They had to be the Dutch brothers who owned the hotel. But they were not on brotherly terms. In fact, they were arguing loudly in a foreign language. When they reached the ground floor, one of them pushed the other. The one who was pushed, grabbed an ink pot off the reception desk and hurled it at the other. His blue coat was covered in ink. Then there followed even more shouting, shoving, and words that were presumably not very polite. It ended with one of the pair shouting in English: “Cooper! Find us pistols and seconds for tomorrow. I shall shoot my brother dead or I shall take a bullet from him!
And that was the first part - The Duel in our series, The Dutch Hotel.
Do you think the brothers will shoot each other? Tune in soon to Storynory, to find out!”
And as we are recording this at the start of July, we would like to wish all our American friends, Happy Independence from u Day!! We do hope you have a wonderful holiday and find time to listen to some of our stories.
And now let’s catch up with our sponser, Athletic Greens.
And now here’s Bertie with a poem for Summer.
Robert Louis Stevenson's "Bed in Summer" is a playful complaint about long summer days. He states that he must endure the loveliness of summer at bedtime as he "goes to bed by day."
"In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play
To have to go to bed by day?"