Are you sure this is the right house?
Course I'm sure. I used to live next door, didn't I? It's easy and safe. She's not been out for twenty years. Frightened to go out in case someone pinches her money.
That's just what we're going to do, isn't it? Except she's in. What if she hears us? Harry: She won't. Deaf as a post. Probably half blind, too. Living in the dark all those years. Come on, get in this window. Stand on my back and give me a hand up. Right, now come on. Let's have a look around.
Ah, good evening, you've come at last.
Oh. ... er ... good evening. Yeah ... er ... sorry to be late.
Late! Oh, you are naughty. Keeping me waiting here twenty years. And then trying to surprise me by coming in the window. And you've brought a friend, I see. Good evening. I hope you didn't damage your clothes coming in the window like that. Harry's such a silly boy. Still up to his tricks.
Do take a chair. And you Harry, sit down and we can all have a nice cup of tea. You'd like that, wouldn't you?
Oh ... er ... yeah, er ... thanks very much. Er ... thank you.
Lovely. Now, won't be a minute. Harry, entertain your friend, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
A right mess this is. Quick, back out of the window.
No. Calm down. Can't you see? It's even easier. She thinks I'm her old boyfriend. Must've been waiting forhim for twenty years. All I have to do is ask her for the money and she'll give it to me. She's off her head.
Do you think so? Reckon it'll be as easy as that?
Course it will. Now shut up. She's coming back.
She didn't even notice our masks.
Oh, shut up.
Here we are. A nice cup of tea and a bun. Now, Harry, you haven't introduced your friend.
Oh, no. Sorry. Er ... this is Fred. Yeah ... 'Fred'. Fred, this is ...
Hello, Fred. So pleased to meet you. I'm Wendy. Wendy Hartfelt.
Oh, very pleased, I'm sure.
Wendy, I wanted to talk to you about money.
Ah yes, Harry. I wondered. I wasn't going to mention it quite so soon, but that ten thousand pounds I lentyou must have acquired quite a lot of interest by now, and times are rather hard. Now, drink your tea likea good boy and we'll discuss how you can pay it back.
Twenty years is a long time to wait, after all. Harry? Harry, what are you doing? Come back in here at once. Oh dear. He is a naughty boy. But I know he'll come back. Always did. But I'm afraid his tea will be cold. Ah ...
B.The Empty Chair.
A friend of mine, Rob Jenkins, almost had a nervous breakdown last year. I told him to go to the doctor.
Hello, Mr. Jenkins. What can I do for you?
Well, doctor... I'm very tense and nervous. I haven't been able to sleep for several days.
Hmm ... have you been working hard?
Oh, yes. I've been very busy. I've been working twelve hours a day.
Have you been taking any pills?
No, but I've been smoking too much, and I've been drinking a lot of coffee.
Well, you should take a holiday. You should go somewhere quiet and peaceful, like Cornwall. Why don't you go there?
Rob decided to go to Cornwall the next weekend. Penquay was a very small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall. There were no trains or buses to Penquay, so he had to drive. It was a long journey, and Rob arrived late on Friday evening.
The landlady of the guest house, Mrs. Doone, answered the door and showed him to his room. Rob was very tired and went straight to bed. He slept well and didn't wake up until nine o'clock the next morning.
Rob went downstairs for breakfast. Because there were no other guests, Mrs. Doone invited him to have breakfast with her and her daughter, Catherine. Catherine was already sitting in the dining room. She was about thirteen years old, with long, black hair and clear, grey eyes.
Mrs. Doone went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Rob and Catherine looked at each other nervously for a few seconds.
There are four places at the table. Is there another guest?
Oh, no ... we never talk about the empty place.
The empty place? What do you mean?
Well, that used to be my father's place.
'Used to be?' I don't understand.
My father was a fisherman. Three years ago he went out in his boat, and he never returned.
What happened to him?
Nobody knows. They searched everywhere, but they found nothing. My mother always keeps that place for him,and she makes his breakfast every morning. She thinks he'll come back. That's a photograph of him ... overthere, on the wall. My mother's been waiting for him for three years.
Rob said nothing, but he looked very worried. At that moment Mrs. Doone returned. She poured four cups of tea, and put one cup in the empty place. Rob looked more worried and he stared at the empty chair. Suddenly, he heard footsteps outside the door and a tall man, with a black beard, walked into the room.
Rob looked terrified. It was the man in the photograph! He jumped up and ran out of the room.
Who was that? What's the matter?
I don't know. I don't understand. He's a guest from London. He arrived last night while you were asleep.
Catherine! Do you know anything about this?
No, I don't, father. But he's here because he's very nervous. He says he's hiding here because a tall man with a black beard is trying to kill him.
Catherine, have you been telling stories again?
Stories, father? Me? (laughing)