A note About the Author and His Stories the maze the lost crowns of anglia

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THE MESSAGE OF DEATH

Mr Dunning finished writing and signed the letter. Karswell had written a book on magic. He wanted to give it to the Museum Society to keep in their library. Dunning was the secretary of the Society. He thought that the book was nonsense. He did not want Karswell's book in the Museum Society library.

Two days later, Dunning was going home on a tram. He was tired. He looked at the advertisements in the tram - advertisements for soap, chocolate and biscuits. There was a strange notice opposite him. It was written in large blue letters.

IN MEMORY OF JOHN HARRINGTON.

DIED 18TH SEPTEMBER 1899.

HE WAS GIVEN THREE MONTHS TO LIVE.

Dunning touched it. It was part of the window. It was inside the glass of the window. Dunning looked again. The notice had disappeared.

The next day, he was walking along Piccadilly. A man came up to Dunning and gave him a piece of paper. Dunning suddenly felt cold. He looked at the piece of paper. There was a name on it. The name was written in large blue letters: HARRINGTON.

Dunning did not have time to read any more. The man took the paper out of Dunning's hand and ran away. He disappeared into the crowd. Dunning was surprised. Dunning went into the British Museum Reading Room and sat down at a desk. He took some papers out of his briefcase and started to read. A large man with a round face walked past the desk. He knocked Dunning's papers onto the floor.

'I am very sorry,' he said and picked up the papers. He handed the papers to Dunning and said, 'These are yours, I believe.' Dunning was angry. 'Yes, thank you, sir,' he said and took the papers. He suddenly felt cold.

The man with the round face gave an evil smile. He left the Reading Room quickly. Dunning felt unwell and decided to go home. Mr Farrer, a friend of Dunning, came across the room.

'Are you feeling all right?' he asked.

'No, I'm not feeling well,' Dunning replied.

'What did that man say to you?' Farrer asked. 'Do you know him?'

'No, I don't,' Dunning said.

‘That man's name is Karswell,' said Farrer. 'He's an evil man.'

Dunning was surprised. 'Why do you say that?' he asked.

'It's a long story,' Farrer said. 'Let's go and have lunch together.' Dunning put his papers in his briefcase. The two men left the Reading Room and walked out into the street. Dunning soon felt better.

As they were eating lunch, Farrer told Dunning about Karswell. 'I live near Mr Karswell,' he said. 'Karswell owns a big house with a park, called Lufford Abbey. The village children often played in the park. 'Karswell didn't like children playing in the park. He chased them from the park many times - but they always

came back.

One day, Karswell invited all the village children to a tea-party. The schoolmaster was very surprised. He "took the children to Lufford Abbey after school. Karswell gave a film show. The first film showed a wolf with long teeth and sharp claws. Karswell made horrible animal noises and the younger children started to cry.

'Then there was a film about a small boy in a park. It was Lufford Abbey park — where the children liked to play. The boy was followed by a horrible white creature. The boy ran away, but the white creature caught the boy and ate him.

The children were all very frightened. The children's parents were very angry with the schoolmaster and with Karswell,' Farrer went on. 'But Karswell got what he wanted. No children play in Lufford Abbey park any more.'

'How horrible!' said Dunning. Then he asked more slowly, 'Do you, or did you, know Mr John Harrington?'

'You mean John Harrington who died last year?' Farrer asked.

'Yes,' said Dunning. 'Tell me — how did Harrington die?'

'He fell out of a tree,' said Farrer.

Out of a tree? How strange. What was he doing in a tree?' Dunning asked.

No one knows,' Farrer said. 'John Harrington was going along a country road late at night. The police said he was running. He dropped his hat and climbed a tree. Then he fell out of the tree and broke his neck.'

'How do you know the story so well?' said Dunning.

'I heard the story from his brother, Henry,' said Farrer.

'You remember Henry Harrington, don't you? You were at university together. Henry lives not far from here – in Piccadilly.'

Dunning went straight home after lunch. He found a note on the door of his house. It was from his doctor. Dunning went to Dr Mallows's house. The doctor told him what had happened.

'Your servants bought some fish from a man in the street,' the doctor said. 'They told me the man was selling fish to all the houses in the street. It is strange, but no one else is ill.'

Dunning spent the evening at Dr Mallows's house. It was nearly midnight when he went home. He was alone in the house. He went to bed, but he could not sleep. He heard noises - small noises - clocks ticking, doors creaking. He thought he heard noises on the stairs. Was someone coming up the stairs?

He got out of bed and put his ear to the door. He heard nothing. He opened the door. He stood looking and listening in the dark. A warm wind came into the house. The wind moved past his legs like a cat. He turned on the light switch. Nothing happened. The electricity was not working.

Dunning kept a candle beside his bed and a box of matches under his pillow. He went to the bed and put his hand under the pillow. He did not feel a box of matches, but he felt a mouth with sharp teeth and fur!

He was so frightened that he ran out of the room. He locked himself in another bedroom. All through the night he listened for noises outside the door. He could not sleep. In the morning, he opened the door carefully. He looked in his bedroom. He saw nothing unusual. But he was still very frightened. He decided not to stay in the house. He dressed quickly, packed a suitcase, and went to stay at a

hotel in Piccadilly.

He sent a message to Mr Henry Harrington. Harrington came to the hotel in the evening. They ate dinner together. Dunning told Harrington about the strange things that had happened. He asked Henry about his brother — John Harrington.

'My brother,' Harrington began, 'became very strange. For two months, he thought someone was following him. He talked about magic.'

'Magic!' Dunning said in surprise. 'Why did your brother talk about that?'

'John knew a lot about magic,' Harrington said. 'Before his trouble began, John wrote about a book on magic for a newspaper. He said the book was nonsense. The author of the book was very angry. The author's name was Karswell.'

'Karswell!' Dunning said.

'Do you know him?' Harrington asked.

'Yes, I do,' said Dunning. 'He wanted to give a book on magic to the Museum Society. I did not want it in the library. I told him that the book was nonsense.'

'Then you are in danger,' Harrington said. 'I believe that Karswell murdered my brother by magic! I will tell you the whole story.'

The two men finished eating. They sat drinking brandy and smoking cigars.

“Karswell was very angry because John had said the book was nonsense,' Henry Harrington went on. 'Then one evening, something strange happened. John went to a concert. He dropped his programme. A man picked it up and gave it back to him. 'When John came home, he opened the programme. There was a piece of paper inside. Strange red and black letters were written on the paper. John showed it to me. 'This happened last June,' Henry Harrington said. 'The weather was so cold that we had a fire burning. We were looking at the paper when suddenly the door blew open. A warm wind blew into the room. The piece of paper was blown into the fire. It was completely burnt in a moment.'

'A warm wind, on a cold night?' Dunning said.

'Yes, I remember it clearly,' said Harrington. 'It was like something coming into the room. From that night, John had strange dreams. He thought that someone was following him. He didn't want to go out. He kept the lights on in the house and didn't want to be alone.'

'And did you see who was following him?' Dunning asked.

'No, I didn't,' Harrington replied. 'But I saw one other unusual thing. It was a calendar. It came in the post. Every date after 18th September was cut out.'

'And what was the date of the concert?' Dunning asked.

'It was 18th June - three months before my brother died,' Harrington said.

'And your brother died on 18th September, on a country road?' Dunning asked.

'Yes,' said Harrington. 'He was running away from something. The police say he broke his neck when he fell from the tree. But I think he died of fright.'

'But you told me he was afraid to go out of the house,' Dunning said. 'Why was he walking along a country road at night?'

'Because about ten days before he died, the trouble stopped,' Harrington said. 'John felt well. Nothing was following him. He decided to go to the country for a rest.'

'I see,' said Dunning. 'Did your brother think Karswell was making this trouble?'

'Yes, he did,' Harrington replied. 'John remembered Karswell's book on magic. The book told of a way of killing enemies. A magician gives a paper with magic writing on it to his enemy. A devil or demon follows the enemy and kills him.'

'But can the person escape?' Dunning asked.

Yes, he can,' said Harrington. 'He can escape if he gives the paper back to the magician. My brother couldn't do this because the paper had been burnt. So you must be very careful. You must not take anything from Karswell.'

'But I have!' Dunning said and stood up. 'He handed me my papers in the Museum!'

'Then we must look at those papers immediately,' said Harrington.

The two men went quickly to Dunning's empty house. The servants were still unwell. The electricity was still not working. The house was in darkness. Dunning lit a candle. He was afraid. He thought that there was someone in the house. Someone was waiting for him. He opened his briefcase and took out his papers. He had not looked at them since he left the Museum. He looked through the papers. Suddenly something moved. A piece of paper jumped into the air and flew towards the candle.

Henry Harrington was quick. He caught the paper before it was burnt. He looked at it by the light of the candle. He saw the strange black and red letters.

'Look at the writing,' he said to Dunning. 'It's the same as the writing on the paper given to my brother.'

'What do we do now?' Dunning said.

'We must give the paper back to Karswell,' Harrington said. 'What day did you get it?'

'Yesterday,' Dunning said, '23rd April.'

'Then we have three months,' said Henry. 'We have until 23rd July.' Harrington paid detectives to watch Karswell. Karswell was in Lufford Abbey. He never came out. The problem was how to get into Lufford Abbey - or how to get Karswell out.

There was no way of getting in. No visitors ever came to Lufford Abbey. They tried to get Karswell out of Lufford Abbey. They sent invitations to Karswell. They put other people's names on the invitations. They invited Karswell to dinners and to meetings. Karswell refused all the invitations. He never left Lufford Abbey.

April passed and so did June and most of July. On 20th July, Dunning knew he was going to die. He wrote letters to his friends and he wrote his will.

That evening a telegram came from the detectives who were watching Karswell's house: KARSWELL LEAVING VICTORIA STATION BY BOAT - TRAIN FOR FRANCE ON THURSDAY NIGHT 22ND JULY.

'Now we can find a way of giving the paper back to Karswell,' Harrington told Dunning. 'We can get on the train and sit near him.'

'But I must give the paper back myself,' said Dunning. 'Karswell knows me. How can I do it?'

'Listen,' said Harrington. 'I have a plan. You must wear a false beard and different clothes. I will get on the train at Victoria Station. I will find Karswell and sit near him. The boat-train stops at Croydon. You will get on the train at Croydon and sit near me. We will be on the train together with Karswell. We will find a way of giving him the paper.'

Dunning waited at Croydon railway station. He was worried. The boat-train was late. When the train arrived, Harrington was looking out of a window. Dunning got on the train. Harrington was sitting in the same carriage as Karswell. Dunning sat down and opened a book. The paper was inside the cover of the book. Dunning did not look at Harrington. But Karswell looked at both men carefully. Dunning was wearing a false beard and a large hat.

Karswell stood up. He left his coat on the seat. He went out into the corridor to smoke a cigar. Dunning was going to pick up the coat. But Karswell turned round suddenly. He looked at Dunning very carefully, then sat down again. The minutes passed. The train was getting nearer and nearer to Dover. Dunning was hot and frightened. How could he give the paper back to Karswell?

The ticket collector came down the corridor. He looked at Dunning's ticket from Croydon. Karswell took out a wallet and showed his ticket. He put the wallet on top of his coat. Harrington stood up and knocked Karswell's coat onto the floor. Karswell's wallet also fell onto the floor. 'I'm very sorry,' Harrington said and picked up the coat.

At the same time, he kicked the wallet towards Dunning. He held out the coat to Karswell and said, 'Here you are.'

Karswell did not take the coat. He looked at Harrington with a look of hate. Dunning picked up the wallet from the floor while Karswell looked at Harrington.

Harrington put the coat down on the seat beside Karswell. Then he turned and showed his ticket to the ticket collector.

As the ticket collector left, Karswell jumped up and followed him.

'Excuse me,' he said, 'can I get a porter at Dover to take my luggage to the boat?'

'Of course, sir,' the ticket collector said. 'We'll be at Dover in five minutes.' Dunning quickly put the paper in Karswell's wallet. Then he dropped the wallet on the floor.

Karswell came back to the carriage.

'Is this yours, sir?' Dunning asked, picking up the wallet.

Karswell looked at the wallet in Dunning's hand.

'Thank you very much,' he said. And he took the wallet. He did not pick up his coat.

The train slowed down. The carriage became dark. A warm wind started to blow. The train stopped at Dover station. Karswell got off the train as soon as it stopped. He looked at Harrington with a look of hate.

'Porter!' he shouted. A porter came running. 'Porter, take my luggage and my coat to the ship.'

He looked back at Harrington and gave an evil smile. Then he walked towards the boat. Dunning and Harrington waited on the platform of the station. The porter took Karswel’s luggage to the boat. They heard an officer say, 'I'm sorry, sir, you can't take an animal on the ship.'

Then a moment later, 'I'm sorry, sir. I thought you had an animal with you. I see it's only a coat.' Karswell got on the ship for France. Dunning and Harrington took the train back to London. Two days later, a notice appeared in The Times newspaper.

THE MESSAGE OF DEATH. COMPREHENSION

1 Why did Dunning not want Karswell's book in the Museum Society library?

2 What was the strange notice Dunning saw in the tram window?

3 A man handed Dunning a piece of paper. What was written on the paper?

4 A man knocked Dunning's papers off his desk. What happened when the man gave the papers back to Dunning?

5 Fairer said Karswell was an evil man. What had Karswell done to the village children?

6 How did John Harrington die?

7 What had happened to Dunning's servants?

8 Dunning stayed one night in the empty house. In the morning, he went to stay at a hotel. Why?

9 How had John Harrington made Karswell angry?

10 John Harrington found a piece of paper in his programme when he came back from the concert.

(a) What was written on the paper?

(b) What happened to the piece of paper?

11 'You must not take anything from Karswell,' Henry

Harrington told Dunning. Why? What had Dunning taken from Karswell?

12 How did Henry Harrington stop the piece of paper being burnt?

13 What must Dunning do to stay alive?

14 A telegram came from the detectives who were watching Karswell.

(a) Where was Karswell going?

(b) Which train was he going on?

(c) What was Harrington's plan?

15 How did Dunning hand the paper back to Karswell?

16 A notice appeared in The Times newspaper. What did the notice say?





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