All right, friends and fellow citizens....forthwith is the true and faithful account of the Vastly Entertaining living history presentation we saw at the Tower of London. Using a great deal of humor and audience participation, they told us a true story of an attempt to steal the crown jewels back in the um......uh.........1500s? That is, the gist of the story was true. The hilarious embellishments along the way were, y'know, embellishments. :D
Further, you simply MUST imagine this with jolly British accents. I can't exactly replicate them here, so you have to imagine it.
Sit back and have fun................
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The scenario began with a young woman, Elizabeth Edwards, telling us about her family. Her father, you see, was custodian of the crown jewels. In fact (for a small fee), she would even be willing to take us on a short tour and show us the jewels if we wanted to see them. She knew we would want to see them…she could even now see the glints in the ladies’ eyes at the thought of jewels.
“But,” she sighed, “there are other, even more important things on my mind than jewels. I’m in LOVE!”
We all sighed dreamily—at least, most of the ladies did.
However, poor Elizabeth went on to inform us that she could not marry her true love, for he was a soldier and made no money. “You, sir, you’re a soldier—you know that soldiers make no money!” she said, looking at Dad.
“None,” Dad agreed, rising to the occasion.
Elizabeth’s father, it seems, wanted her to marry the wealthy nephew of a certain Reverend Doctor Alyfe (sp?), whom she had never met. And as she told us this, a man descended the nearby steps. He was wearing black, with a churchman’s collar, a black robe, a black hat, and had oodles of curly grey hair down to his shoulders.
“Oh, beg pardon, Miss,” he said. “I’m just on my way to visit Master Edwards.”
“My father!” Elizabeth said.
“He is YOUR father? Why you must be Elizabeth!" he gurgled (if that's an appropriate adverb for a guy). "I am the Reverend Doctor Alyfe.”
Elizabeth winced perceptibly.
“And I was just on my way to talk to him about the marriage between you and my nephew!” he exclaimed.
“Oh, do tell, sir—your nephew….is he…..handsome?” she asked anxiously.
“Is he handsome?” asked the Rev. Dr. incredulously. “Is he HANDSOME??? Well……no. But what does that matter? The inside is more important than the outside! Ah look, see how she weeps for joy at knowing her husband is a good man at heart.” He gestured benevolently at Elizabeth, who was now sobbing despairingly into her arm.
He finally took his leave and Elizabeth recollected that she was going to show us the jewels. “I’ll try not to blub too much,” she sniffed. “Just follow me now.”
We all followed obediently. Elizabeth crossed a small crossroads and just as the rest of us approached it, a man jumped out in front of us. “STOP RIGHT THERE!” he bellowed. “DON’T COME ANY CLOSER!!!! (AND ESPECIALLY NOT YOU!!!)” he added as an aside to someone near the front.
The gentleman was dressed most astonishingly. He wore a magnificent red and gold outfit and his hair was brown and curly and draped spectacularly past his shoulders and down his back. A felt hat with several pretentious feathers graced this most amazing hair.
“Now then,” he said. “My name is Tom Hunt. Maybe you’ve heard of me? Anyone?” He looked around hopefully. “Well anyway,” he continued, crestfallen, “My name is Tom.” He elaborated at length about what a dashing fellow he was, and how all the ladies in town were vastly impressed with him, although he made a passing reference that he was, alas, the reason his mum and dad hadn’t stayed togeth---well, we didn’t need to bother about his problems. Then he went on, “I am in need of helpers. You don’t know what I’m about to do, do you? Well, we’re going to steal the crown jewels!!! How many of you are willing to help me?”
A few people cheered. Most of us did not deign to be mixed up in something so dastardly scandalous and remained silent.
“Well, I didn’t want to have to do this….” he sighed. He pulled out a very small pocket pistol and pointed it at us. “This is Little Tom.” (He pronounced it Li-il Tom--remember his British accent!)“Now, HOW MANY OF YOU ARE WILLING TO HELP ME?”
Under such dire threatening, we became cowards and basely abandoned our moral scruples, immediately agreeing to help him in his loathsome quest.
“Good, good! Come right this way and I’ll tell you all the details.” He led us to another section of the stone wall, near a doorway with some stairs that led up to the jewels tower. There he excitedly began telling us the plan, and how we would steal the jewels and would all escape on the horses outside the gate and rendezvous later at a tavern.
“Now, I’ll be sitting there in the tavern and you’ll come up and say, ‘Tom, I’m one of the people who helped you steal the jewels’ and I’LL say.........‘I never saw you before in my life,’” he informed us. “You see, there’s so many of you…I can’t remember all the faces. So you see, we need a code sign. Some people use the sign of the nose.” He touched his nose. “Others use the eye.” He began winking with ridiculous exaggeration. “But those don’t do so well, so we’re going to use the devil’s horns!!!” He formed his hand into a devil’s horn gesture and made us all practice it.
“Now, my father, Colonel Blood, is the man who will lead us. He should be here soon.”
Just at this juncture a man came sweeping through the doorway, nearly knocking noble Tom off his feet. “I say, sir, just hold up a minute!” Tom said angrily. The man turned, with a huge smile, making a devil’s horn sign.
“Ah! Colonel Blood! Father! I didn’t even recognize you!!” cried Tom. Oh sinister…his father was, in fact, the man pretending to be the Reverend Doctor Alyfe.
The supposed "Revered Doctor" began to fill us in on the background of the scheme—how he had ingratiated himself into the Edwards family, pretending to be a clergyman, so that he could have better access to the jewels. “Oh those Edwardses,” he said, with disgust. “Master Edwards…….and his BOVINE wife and his daughter….what’s her name?....oh yes, E-liz-a-beth.” He made a face. “She’s supposed to marry my nephew. Ha! I have no nephew!!” He laughed uproariously. “There’s a son too, but he’s in the army. He’s in Flanders and won’t bother us. I’ve been masquerading as a good churchman and they all trust me. Now then, Tom, have you informed all these people what we are to do and why?”
“Ah yes, father! They all know!” Tom said eagerly. “We’re going to get rich and famous!” He pranced about.
“No, that’s not why we’re here!” grumbled the Rev. Dr.
“It’s not?” asked Tom forlornly.
“No, no, no. The king is a Protestant! Those of us who are Catholics don’t like the way things are going! We don’t like the restrictions being talked about! So we are going to rattle the king’s cage a bit!”
“And get rich and famous!” Tom said joyously.
“Well, maybe, but that’s not the point.”
“Now father,” Tom said, changing the subject slightly, “I think there’s just a little bit of a problem here. I have my suspicions…I’ve been looking closely at some of these people….and I think some of them are women.”
The Rev. Dr. looked surprised. “But they’re all wearing britches!” he argued.
“Yes, but I think some of them are anyway,” Tom insisted. “And you know how women are…they can be a little bit loose with their tongues—especially when they’ve had a bit of gin.”
“Well, why don’t you buy their silence by telling them how much money the jewels are worth?” suggested the Rev. Dr.
“Ah, very good idea! The jewels,” Tom said impressively, “are worth TEN THOUSAND pounds.”
We nodded sagely at this piece of information. Tom was disgusted that we weren’t more awestruck.
“Maybe you should say it again,” the Rev. Dr. coached. “Say it SLOWLY---for the Americans.”
(I cracked up at that line.)
Tom repeated the sum and we all oohed and aahed with great gusto.
“Good. Now, I’m just going to sneak up there and get the jewels. You all wait here for me and stop anyone who tries to follow,” ordered the Rev. Dr. “You have your pistol, Tom?
“Aye, right here, I’ve got Li'l Tom here,” Tom said, waving his tiny pocket pistol.
“Pshaw! That’s no pistol!” scoffed the Rev. Dr. He pulled back his black churchman’s robe and pulled out an enormous handgun. “THIS is a pistol! Now stay here and guard the gate. That’s your job!”
He strode off.
“A job to do!” Tom said ecstatically. “He’s never given me a job to do before! I’m going to do great! A job! Why---”
He was interrupted by someone singing and striding through the crowd. It was a soldier. He made for the gate.
“I say! Wait! Stop! You can’t go in here,” Tom said, barring the way.
“And why not, man?” the soldier demanded. “’Tis my home! My family lives there!”
“This—your—that is, your family lives there?” spluttered Tom. “Then you’re Will Edwards! But—but…you’re in Flanders!”
The soldier gave us a long-suffering look as if to say, Isn’t he daft? and said, no, he wasn’t in Flanders. He was here. And he wanted past the gate.
“But—but—there’s a very good reason why you can’t get past!” Tom insisted, still spluttering. “It’s…ah…um....it's....HELP!” he said in an desperate aside to us. “You see, sir….you can't because....HELP!...”
“The family is away!” suggested a woman in the crowd.
“Excellent!” Tom enthused. He bounced over to her, excitedly wringing his hands. “Why, that’s a great idea! That’s what I’ll tell him! I’ll say---”
And, of course, during this tiny distraction, Will had slipped past him!
Poor Tom was beside himself. Alas! He had failed in his job! What should we do next!
Suddenly from the jewel tower we heard shrieks and cries from Elizabeth! “Help! Help! Murder!” she shrieked. Will went bounding up to her aid. For a moment all was confusion—then the Rev. Dr. came rushing down the stairs towards us, triumphantly bearing the crown and the orb (fakes, of course).
“All right now—all of you!” he gestured at us. “You thought you were going to share these jewels, didn’t you?"
Of course we did. Wasn't that what he'd promised us?
"Well you're wrong! We've got them now! Ha ha!!! You stay right there and don’t try to follow!” He and Tom pulled their pistols—the big one and the little one—and held them on us as they backed away and then fled with the jewels.
Well! How do you like that! Dirty double-crossers! Rat finks! Wretched traitors! Nasty little ticks!
It was up to Will to rescue the situation. “If only someone could help me chase the man! If only I could find a large crowd of people standing nearby with nothing to do, who could help me!” he cried, looking at us helplessly.
“Will, see these people?” suggested Elizabeth, gesturing at us. "Maybe they would help you!"
“Oh! Quite! Yes, of course! Will you all help me? Good! Well then, we must chase them. Now, it appears I’m the only one who has had any military training, so I'll lead. The first thing they teach you in the military is—don’t run on the cobblestones, you might trip. Now come with me!”
He rapidly led the way and began accosting passerby, wanting to know if they had seen anyone with the jewels.
“Now, I know he must be here somewhere,” Will said, after we had reached another section of the wall. “You all stay here while I flush him out. And when he comes, you must say in ONE voice, ‘STOP IN THE NAME OF THE KING!’ And by that I mean ONE voice, not this mishy-mash of various voices. Try it with me now….yes, that’s right…good.”
He disappeared and shortly thereafter came running back, chasing the Rev. Dr, who was carrying the jewels.
“STOP IN THE NAME OF THE KING!” we thundered.
The Rev. Dr. stopped. “Oh ZOUNDS!” he grimaced, thoroughly disgusted. (He pronounced it “zoonz”.) Will pulled his sword and demanded the jewels. Just then Tom appeared, minus the wig, clutching his head.
“I’m sorry, father,” he groaned. “I went to get the horses, just like we’d planned. But I fell down and I hit my head…and all the horses ran away.”
The Rev. Dr. snorted in annoyance.
Then Tom suddenly realized that Will was waving his sword and demanding the jewels. “Oh no you don’t!” Tom said viciously. He pulled out Li-il Tom and covered Will. “I’m going to shoot you right now!”
He pulled the trigger!!
Nothing happened except a hollow little “clink” sound.
“Oh BUGGER!” Tom huffed, and stomped off.
The jewels safely restored to a lawful citizen, Will began to tell us the conclusion of the story. “Do you want to hear what happened to the heroes of this story?” he asked.
The Rev. Dr. strode forward to the limelight, pleased with himself.
“Not YOU,” Will said disgustedly, shooing him back.
For Will’s noble service and his father’s heroic defense (he wasn’t murdered, just wounded) they both received government promissory notes, which were unfortunately never delivered on.
“And I,” said Elizabeth, who was now on the scene, “got to marry my true love!”
The Rev. Dr. strode forward once again. “PISH, TUSH and FIE!” he thundered slowly and deliberately. “You all don’t want to hear about these goody-two-shoes! You want to hear what happened to the VILLAINS, don’t you?”
We assented loudly.
“Good, because you’re going to hear it anyway,” he smirked. The charges against the perpetrators were all dropped and they were actually looked upon rather kindly…for reasons still unknown. Perhaps the king thought better than to alienate some of his people during a time of impending war. Perhaps they did get the king’s attention about the Catholic/Protestant issue. No one knows for sure. But that was the story, and we ended up with a rousing three cheers for the king.
All in all, it was a most hilarious show.
Afterwards Mom teasingly asked Tom who his hairdresser was. Tom explained that the wig was very valuable and cost a lot of money--and he'd stolen from someone just last week! :D