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CHAPTER THREE - The accident

The first rehearsal began at nine o'clock and finished at two o'clock.

'What a long morning!' everyone said.

'I'm sorry,' said the conductor, 'but we have very little time. The first concert is tomorrow night and a lot of important people are coming, so we must play well. Now please go and eat. This afternoon is free, so you can go and look at this beautiful city. Tomorrow morning we begin again at nine o'clock. Please don't be late!'

Carol left the rehearsal room with Alan, one of the first violinists.

'What are you going to do this afternoon, Carol?' Alan asked.

'I'm going to get a quick sandwich, and then I'm going shopping,' Carol said. 'My husband Jan and his father are arriving on Sunday. Monday is Christmas Day, and I haven't got any presents for them. I must find something this afternoon - our only free afternoon.'

'See you tomorrow, then,' said Alan. 'And good luck with the shopping!'

'Thanks,' Carol said. 'There are some wonderful shops in the Stare Mesto, the old town, so I'm going down there.' Carol went into a lot of shops that afternoon. In the end, she got a book for Jan and a picture for his father. When she left the old town, it was nearly dark. It was very cold, so she walked quickly through the streets back to her hotel. There were Christmas trees in all the shop windows, and the city looked beautiful. There was a lot of noise too - people, cars, taxis, buses. 'Everybody's doing their Christmas shopping,' Carol thought.

Suddenly she saw a man across the street. It was Jan! Why was he in Prague so soon?

'Jan!' she shouted across the street. But Jan didn't hear her. He walked on. Carol shouted again, very loudly.

'Jan! Jan! It's me, Carol!'

A lot of people stopped this time. They all looked at her. The man stopped too. He turned and looked at Carol for a minute, but he didn't smile and he didn't speak. It was a very long minute for Carol. Her husband's eyes were cold, and Carol began to feel afraid.

Then he moved and began to walk away from Carol down a little street. Carol did not understand it, but she knew one thing - she did not want to lose him.

'Perhaps he didn't see me very well. It's so dark now... He's going... Where is he going? Jan, come back... Are you ill?'

She ran across the street.

There was a sudden noise and somebody shouted. Two seconds later Carol lay in the snow.

'She ran right in front of me,' the bus driver said later. 'I couldn't stop - there was no time.'

Carol's face was white and her eyes were closed. Soon an ambulance came and took her body away.

Was she alive or dead?

At nine o'clock, the next morning the conductor was ready to begin the rehearsal. He opened his music and the orchestra started to play. Suddenly his hands stopped moving and the music stopped at once.

'Harpist!' the conductor shouted angrily. 'What's the matter with you? Are you sleeping? You begin to play here.'

'Excuse me, Mr Rinaldi,' said someone at the back of the room. 'The harpist is not here.'

Everyone turned and looked at the harp at the back of the orchestra. It was true. There was nobody in the harpist's chair.

'Well, where is she?' asked the conductor. There was no answer. 'We can't wait for her,' he said. 'We must have this rehearsal without her. Where is Alan? He can speak some Czech.'

Alan stood up.

'Can you go to the hotel and look for her there?' the conductor asked. 'Then come back here at once - with or without her.'

Alan left. Half an hour later, he was back.

'She's not at the hotel,' he said. 'I spoke to two or three people in the hotel, and they say that Carol wasn't there at breakfast this morning. And they think that she didn't sleep in her room last night.'

'I don't like this,' said the conductor. 'Carol is never late for rehearsals, and she knows that these concerts are important for us. I think we must tell the police.'

'Shall I do it now?' Alan asked.
'Yes,' said the conductor. 'Please go now.'


CHAPTER THREE - The accident

The first rehearsal began at nine o'clock and finished at two o'clock.

'What a long morning!' everyone said.

'I'm sorry,' said the conductor, 'but we have very little time. The first concert is tomorrow night and a lot of important people are coming, so we must play well. Now please go and eat. This afternoon is free, so you can go and look at this beautiful city. Tomorrow morning we begin again at nine o'clock. Please don't be late!'

Carol left the rehearsal room with Alan, one of the first violinists.

'What are you going to do this afternoon, Carol?' Alan asked.

'I'm going to get a quick sandwich, and then I'm going shopping,' Carol said. 'My husband Jan and his father are arriving on Sunday. Monday is Christmas Day, and I haven't got any presents for them. I must find something this afternoon - our only free afternoon.'

'See you tomorrow, then,' said Alan. 'And good luck with the shopping!'

'Thanks,' Carol said. 'There are some wonderful shops in the Stare Mesto, the old town, so I'm going down there.' Carol went into a lot of shops that afternoon. In the end, she got a book for Jan and a picture for his father. When she left the old town, it was nearly dark. It was very cold, so she walked quickly through the streets back to her hotel. There were Christmas trees in all the shop windows, and the city looked beautiful. There was a lot of noise too - people, cars, taxis, buses. 'Everybody's doing their Christmas shopping,' Carol thought.

Suddenly she saw a man across the street. It was Jan! Why was he in Prague so soon?

'Jan!' she shouted across the street. But Jan didn't hear her. He walked on. Carol shouted again, very loudly.

'Jan! Jan! It's me, Carol!'

A lot of people stopped this time. They all looked at her. The man stopped too. He turned and looked at Carol for a minute, but he didn't smile and he didn't speak. It was a very long minute for Carol. Her husband's eyes were cold, and Carol began to feel afraid.

Then he moved and began to walk away from Carol down a little street. Carol did not understand it, but she knew one thing - she did not want to lose him.

'Perhaps he didn't see me very well. It's so dark now... He's going... Where is he going? Jan, come back... Are you ill?'

She ran across the street.

There was a sudden noise and somebody shouted. Two seconds later Carol lay in the snow.

'She ran right in front of me,' the bus driver said later. 'I couldn't stop - there was no time.'

Carol's face was white and her eyes were closed. Soon an ambulance came and took her body away.

Was she alive or dead?

At nine o'clock, the next morning the conductor was ready to begin the rehearsal. He opened his music and the orchestra started to play. Suddenly his hands stopped moving and the music stopped at once.

'Harpist!' the conductor shouted angrily. 'What's the matter with you? Are you sleeping? You begin to play here.'

'Excuse me, Mr Rinaldi,' said someone at the back of the room. 'The harpist is not here.'

Everyone turned and looked at the harp at the back of the orchestra. It was true. There was nobody in the harpist's chair.

'Well, where is she?' asked the conductor. There was no answer. 'We can't wait for her,' he said. 'We must have this rehearsal without her. Where is Alan? He can speak some Czech.'

Alan stood up.

'Can you go to the hotel and look for her there?' the conductor asked. 'Then come back here at once - with or without her.'

Alan left. Half an hour later, he was back.

'She's not at the hotel,' he said. 'I spoke to two or three people in the hotel, and they say that Carol wasn't there at breakfast this morning. And they think that she didn't sleep in her room last night.'

'I don't like this,' said the conductor. 'Carol is never late for rehearsals, and she knows that these concerts are important for us. I think we must tell the police.'

'Shall I do it now?' Alan asked.
'Yes,' said the conductor. 'Please go now.'