25. THE RIVER THAMES

25. THE RIVER THAMES

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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THE CASE OF THE DIAMOND DENTURES 25

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By the end of the day the three from Curmudgeon’s Detective Agency had been bustled onto a small and rather flat river boat and were slowly making their way up the river Thames towards the watery entrance to the dreadful Tower of London. It was known as Traitor’s Gate, and the very sound of it sent shivers down the spine. After all, many who had criticised the king in days gone by had entered the tower that way, and many had never been seen again, though their heads had been mounted on spikes as a warning that the king was perfect and that was what happened to those who didn’t think so.

I don’t like this,” whispered Angelina.

Nobody does!” barked Blinky who was glad, for the moment at least, that he couldn’t see where they were or what was going on.

Bear up, lass,” encouraged Royston, “when we get out of this, and we shall get out of it if I have anything to do with things, I’ll give you such a treat you’ll remember it for the rest of your natural.”

That can only mean one thing, and you’d better be good at it,” she replied, “and I’ll cook you a breakfast to die for afterwards if you’re even slightly perfect.”

You’re on, then,” he replied.

Shurrup,” grated the guard.

And you, fat face!” snorted Blinky, who had no idea what kind of face that particular guard had.

That’s it!” snorted the guard, “you just wait till we get there and I get you on the rack! I’ll stretch you till you’re thinner than a bean pole and ten yards long! I’ll grind your digits to blood-red jelly with the thumb screw! I’ll have you shrieking for mercy, and mercy won’t come. Nobody will come to help you, and all because you called me names. My mother said nobody should be allowed to call her precious son names, and in her blessed memory I’ll torture the guts out of you for doing it!”

Do you want to see something I found in my pants?” asked Blinky, his eyes covered by the soot-black lenses of the glasses he preferred to wear during his blind periods, and fingering the dentures that he was keeping out of sight.

And my mum told me not to have anything to do with boys who talk dirty,” added the guard, “I’m not interested in your pants or anything you keep in them.”

What’s dirtier than talking about torturing a fellow human being?” demanded Royston, “and what’s worse than threatening all the things you’ve just said you’ll do, and do it to a blind man at that? Would your beloved mother like you for that, eh?”

Don’t say that!” The guard’s eyes started swimming with what could only be genuine emotion. “My mum was the bestest mum in the whole wide world,” he told them, “and I won’t heard anything said against her, or else.”

And we love her too,” cooed Angelina, “all mums are good, but yours, as you put it, is the bestest!”

She’s waiting for me in Heaven,” he sobbed, emotion having got the better of him. It was Blinky’s private opinion that the man was never cut out to be a guard operating under the regime headed by a government so afraid of losing the support of the masses that it would turn to any form of deceit.

Oh, you poor thing,” wittered Angelina. “What happened to her? Was it dreadful and cruel and spiteful?”

He looked at her and slowly nodded his head. “My mum did everything for me when I was little,” he said, “she took care of me when I was poorly, and I did get poorly, you know. And she sorted the bullies on the street out good and proper when they got onto me!”

Angelina smiled at him. “She must have been perfect,” she murmured.

The guard, now weeping openly and grateful that the steersman of the boat was oblivious to his outburst of sentimentality, nodded again. “She even wiped my bum,” he whispered. “She did that for me. Who else would?”

Not me, thought Blinky and Royston together.

Mums do things like that,” sighed Angelina, “what happened to her? You said she was waiting for you in Heaven, so something terrible must have happened to her...”

She died,” whispered the guard mournfully. “It was dreadful. She got hungry but she couldn’t eat, and thirsty, but she couldn’t drink. In the end she was so weak she couldn’t make it to the doctor’s, and you know what they’re like these days, the doctors couldn’t come to her… I tried, I did, to save her. I gave her brandy and custard and apple pie and all the things she liked when she was strong, but she couldn’t manage. Then she died.”

You poor thing,” sighed Angelina, “and now she’s waiting for you up there...” She inclined her head, indicating the skies above them, and nodded.

She is,” he said.

And what would she say to you now?” asked Angelina, “you, her precious and lovely boy taking three innocents to the Tower to be tortured to death? Would she be proud of you? Would she still wait up there for you?”

He looked at her, a harrowing look in her eyes. Then, slowly, he shook his head. “No,” he whispered, “no she wouldn’t. She’d look at me so sternly and remind me of the special stick she kept for naughty boys, and warn me that there are some things a lad like me shouldn’t do. You must be kind, she would say, and tell me to do what was right. What’s clearly wrong, she said often enough, must never be done… that was my mum.”

Then he turned from her and looked to the pilot of the river boat shaking his head as he conjured up memories to weep about. Then he clearly made up his mind over something vital.

Hey!” he called, “are we almost there, or what?”

A mile, maybe less,” came a gruff reply.

Okay.”

Then he made his way to the front where the pilot was, and with no more ado he clouted the man over his head with a truncheon, hard enough for him to lose all interest in what was going on.

Mum will forgive me,” he whispered as he grabbed his victim by both arms and heaved him to the side of the boat and slid him into the turgid Thames water. The man was obviously not dead: the cold of the water woke him up and he started bellowing and shouting almost straight away.

See,” said their guard, “mummy will be pleased. Now I’ll go and save him and you can take the boat and go free, like my mum would want you to.”

Their guard then jumped into the river himself and started splashing towards the floundering boat’s pilot.

I’m coming!” he shouted, “you’ll be okay, chum! I’ll save you, but I’ll have to learn to swim first!”

Grab the controls, Royston,” ordered Angelina, “let’s get right away from here before someone else comes to drag us to the Tower and brand us and do whatever else the bloody Prime Minister wants them to do!”

Gotcha, captain!” replied Royston, and in moments he was in the pilot’s seat and after briefly familiarising himself with the controls, set the boat to surge ahead and towards a distant bank.

I’m looking forward to my treat, big boy,” whispered Angelina to Royston, and he winked back at her.

© Peter Rogerson, 05.02.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on February 5, 2020
Last Updated on February 5, 2020
Tags: mother's love, River Thames, Traitor's gate, swimming


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing