Hello, This is Jana, and welcome to Storynory and the second part of our Story, the Dutch Hotel, the Duel. First here’s a quick recap, Nafsi and Yogi both live in the Dutch Hotel near Hyde Park in London. They sometimes see apparitions of employees from the hotel’s history. At first they thought they were ghosts, now they know they are more like time travellers. In the previous episode, Nafsi and Yogi slipped back in time to the hotel’s past. They have arrived at a key moment in the hotel’s history - when the two Dutch brothers who founded it are furious with each other because they both love the same girl. We left them just after a fierce quarrel in the lobby in which the brothers decided to sort out their differences by fighting a duel.
One moment the Dutch Hotel was full of shouts, sobs and cries, and the next it was eerily silent. The twin Dutch brothers left, each to their own room. Mr Cooper stood behind the desk, looking like a ghost - which of course he wasn’t!
Nafsi and Yogi went up to the desk.
“You don’t look so well,” said Nafsi, “ I’ll fetch you a glass of water.”
Nafsi went to the dining room to get a carafe of water and a glass from one of the tables. Mr Cooper sipped the water and thanked Nafsi almost in a whisper.
“They are still talking about this in our time,” said Yogi. “They say the brothers both…” but before he could say “shot each other” Nafsi put her hand over his mouth.
“If you don’t mind me asking,” said Nafsi, “Who is the lady the brothers are fighting over?”
“Unfortunately, she is my daughter, Maria. They have each showered her with gifts, declarations of love, and proposals of marriage, and she has spurned both of them. If only she had picked one, this might have been avoided.”
“Why didn’t she?” asked Yogi.
“Because,” said a strong voice behind them, “I don’t love either of them. They are both as arrogant and hot headed as each other.”
The children turned around and saw the maid who had served them tea earlier on.
Her father, Mr Cooper, said, “Maria, you shouldn’t talk about Mr Lucas and Mr Levi that way in front of our guests.”
“Well Mr Lucas and Mr Levi shouldn’t challenge each other to silly duels in front of the guests!” said Maria. “And it’s no use hoping that I shall pick one of them, dear father. I shall marry whom I choose, not one of our wealthy employers just because they would give our family half of this magnificent hotel as a dowry. I don’t care if my dowry is a cowshed in the middle of Hampshire. I shall marry for love!”
Mr Cooper took another sip from the glass of water, before saying: “And now I am charged with finding some pistols. I have no idea where to begin such a search.”
“Oh I know,” said Yogi, “According to the story we heard in our time, the pistols belonged to a famous explorer who lived in the hotel.”
“Ah yes, that will be Mr Brooke. It is quite possible that he has some pistols in his rooms. I have certainly seen his sword, his kukri knife, and a collection of spears.”
“It would be really cool to fight a duel with spears,” said Yogi.
“No it wouldn’t,” chided his sister. “If you hadn’t blurted out where to find the weapons, the duel might not have happened.”
“Oh, they would find them anyway,” said Yogi. “It’s history.”
“My dearest hope, Is that they will both fire and miss each other, since they are both inexperienced in all matters to do with firearms. That way, honour will be served without any bloodshed.”
“Oh, I don’t think that’s what will happen,” said Yogi, but his sister pulled him away before he could say anything else tactless. They left Maria and her father deep in some private discussion.
Nafsi and Yogi were both tired after all their time-travel, but at the same time they were over-excited. Neither of them could settle down, and they both sat in big arm chairs chattering about what might happen in the morning. Eventually they nodded off for a few hours, but as soon as light came through the window, Yogi was awake and shaking his sister. “Come on,” he said. “It’s pistols at dawn in Hyde Park. Let’s go down and see what happens.”
“I don’t think we should,” said Nafsi. “It could be dangerous.”
“We won’t stand where they’re going to shoot,” insisted Yogi. “Come on, we can’t miss this. When are we going to have another chance to see a real duel?”
“Never, I hope,” said Nafsi.
They were interrupted by a soft knock on the door, and a low voice saying, “Nafsi, Nafsi, sorry to wake you, I need your help.”
“I think it’s Maria,” said Nafsi. And she was right. When she opened the door Maria stepped inside with her head wrapped in a scarf.
“I ask this favour of you,” said Maria. “I need you to hurry with this letter to Hyde Park. Those foolish brothers have already set out. I can’t trust anyone else in the hotel, they are such gossips. Besides, perhaps you can overtake them on your strange vehicles that go by themselves.”
“You mean our e-scooter and our e-skateboard?” asked Yogi.
“I don’t know what you call them, but whatever their name, make haste with this letter. .”
“What does it say?” asked Nafsi.
“It tells the brothers that I am leaving. It is no use shooting each other. It makes no difference. I shall never see either of them again, dead or alive.”
“Where are you going?” asked Nafsi.
“Scotland,” said Maria.
“That’s a long way,” said Yogi.
“Yes,” said Maria. “When they read where I am going, they will know that I am serious. Only please tell them that I left last night. That way, they will believe that I had a good head start and that pursuit is futile.”
“All right,” said Nafsi. “I suppose you could say it’s a little white lie.”
“It’s to save their lives. Hurry, hurry, before it’s too late!”
It was a good thing that Nafsi and Yogi were still dressed in their day clothes. They ran downstairs and picked up their e-vehicles from the cloakroom. Even though they were in a rush, Nafsi made Yogi strap his helmet on and she did the same.
“I hope that the batteries haven’t run out,” said Yogi, “Because I don’t think they have electric plugs here yet.”
They put the e-skateboard and scooter on the pavement outside the hotel. Fortunately there was still plenty of power. Off they went, racing past a horse drawn cart. The driver nearly jumped out of his skin, and the horse was surprised too!
Of course they had no idea which part of Hyde Park was the scene for the duel. “I know,” said Yogi, “I bet they do it by the cafe so that the survivor can eat breakfast afterwards.”
“But the cafe probably isn’t built yet,” replied Nafsi.
“Then they’ll probably do it behind some trees so that the police can’t see them.”
Although the trees seemed like a more sensible suggestion, in fact Yogi was right the first time. The kids went hurtling around the paths of Hyde Park in search of the duelers and eventually found them on the bank of the Serpentine River near the restaurant. A waiter from the hotel stood by with champagne on ice for the winner. A doctor was giving smelling salts to Mr Cooper who was feeling faint. And the Dutch Brothers were facing each other, 20 paces apart, pistols in hand.
The doorman was holding up a red handkerchief, the signal for the duel to begin.
“Oh no! We’re too late!” called out Yogi.
“Stop, we’ve got a letter for you, stop!” cried Nafsi.
But before they could reach the scene, the doorman dropped the handkerchief. Both brothers raised their arms, took aim with their pistols, and fired almost at the same time.
Fortunately they both missed. And even more fortunately, because one of the shots was in the direction of the kids coming along the road, a bullet hit the ground and raised a puff of dust.
“Hey,” called out Nafsi, “You might have killed us!”
By the time they reached the site of the duel, the brothers were arguing about what to do next. Lucas wanted to try again with the pistols, and Levi wanted to fight to the death with the swords. The argument became so heated that Lucas almost punched Levi and had to be restrained by the doctor. In the midst of this fracas, Nafsi and Yogi rolled up on their scooters, and Nafsi waved the envelope: “Excuse me! I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have a letter for Mr Lucas and Mr Levi from Maria!” At first they were too busy arguing to take notice of her, and it was only when Yogi shouted:
“Hey! Stop arguing and listen to us for a moment. We’ve got an important letter for you.”
That they turned around and saw the two kids.
“It’s from Maria,” said Nafsi. “She gave it to us last night, shortly before she left the hotel. She asked us to bring it to you in the morning, but we had trouble finding you. I’m very glad you’re still both alive.”
It was addressed to both the Brothers. The doctor lent them his scalpel to open the envelope. Lucas read it first, and then Levi. They were both silent and handed it to the doctor who swiftly cast his eye over it.
“The lady,” pronounced the doctor, “left London last night and is on her way to Gretna Green.”
“Gretna where?” asked Levi.
“It is the first village inside Scotland,” said the doctor, “And it is well known as the place that young runaways go to get married.”
“Married? Who to?” asked Lucas.
“The lady does not mention a name,” replied the Doctor.
Lucas took the letter and read it a second time. Nafsi thought he was about to cry, but in fact he began to laugh. Levi became angry again and said: “I don’t see what’s so funny!” Lucas slapped him on the back. “Come on brother, let’s have breakfast,” he said. “The bird has flown and there is no use arguing over her.”
“That’s an excellent idea. We brought champagne, smoked salmon, and cucumber sandwiches. Fortunately there’s enough for both of you,” said Mr. Cooper brightly.
“As a matter of fact,” said Lucas, “Duelling in the morning does make one rather hungry. But first I have a proposition. If we may borrow those peculiar vehicles, my brother and I shall have a race.
The children spent some time demonstrating how the scooter and the skateboard worked. The e-scooter was the easiest of the two to master, because it required less balance, but Mr Levi preferred the e-skateboard. That was a mistake because half way up the bank of the river, he lost control and went hurtling into the Serpentine.
“Hey the skateboard’s not meant to go in the water!” shouted Yogi, running after them. A very wet Mr Levi tried to climb out of the river, but the bank was so slippery with duckweed, that he fell back in again. His brother, laughing, held out a stick to help him out, and meanwhile the e-skateboard sank below the waves.
“Oh dear,” said Nafsi, “It’s not actually our skateboard. I think we’re going to get into trouble.”
“But not for 200 years!” said Yogi. “Because I need the skateboard to get back to the present, so I’ll just have to stay here in Victorian times.”
“Oh dear,” said Nafsi, “Then I’ll have to stay here too. I can hardly go back without you.”
“Never mind,” said Yogi. “I like it here in Victorian Times. “It’s more fun than the present.”
And that was the second part of The Dutch Hotel’s, The Duel. I hope you found it interesting.
From me Jana at Storynory.com, bye for now!