chapter 23
chapter 22
chapter 21
chapter 20
chapter 19
chapter 18
chapter 17
chapter 16
chapter 15
chapter 14
chapter 13
chapter 12
chapter 11
chapter 10
chapter 9
chapter 8
chapter 7
chapter 6
chapter 5
chapter 4
chapter 3
chapter 2
chapter 1

The Famous Five: The Final Adventure.
A Tribute to Enid Blyton.

Chapter 12.
The Crown Jewels.

The four children were totally shocked and frightened. They had never before been spoken to in such a threatening way.
   Julian finally found his voice. "We are not doing anything wrong, Sir. We are only interested in the comings and goings of The Houses of Parliament."
   "Don't give me that line, sonny jim!" replied the man, viciously. "You have obviously been taking it in turns to case the joint." He pulled out a notebook and pen. "OK, names?"
   The children obediently obliged in turn.
   Julian became the natural spokesman. "At the moment we are staying at The Mayfair Hotel, Sir."
   The man stopped writing and turned to his companions. "Oh! We've got ourselves a bunch of posh kids 'ere." He turned back to the children, the scornful sneer still in evidence. "At the moment, Sir, we are staying at The Mayfair Hotel, Sir," he said, sarcastically mimicking Julian.
   He once again glared at the four youngsters in front of him then, as if coming to a decision, slowly put his notebook away. "Let me put you in the picture. This area is a secure zone under twenty-four-hour surveillance set up for the sole purpose of detecting the likes of you. Against my better judgement, I am going to let you off with a severe warning. Don't let me catch you in this vicinity again or I'll throw the book at yer. Do I make myself clear?... Now scarper."
   It was four dejected children and a dog with his tail between his legs that slowly made their way through the streets back to The Mayfair Hotel.
   "What a nasty character," said Anne, at last. "And what horrid, staring eyes."
   Finding she was getting a negative response, Anne linked arms with her two brothers. "Don't be so dejected you two. Look on the bright side. It is our first time in London and finally we have no commitments. There are lots of places to visit and lots of things to do."
   Dick turned to his younger sister and gave her a wan smile. "What would we do without you, old girl?" he said, giving her a hug. "You are right, of course. I hear there is a huge MacDonalds in Oxford Street."
   Anne laughed. "I was thinking more of 'The Tower of London'."
   "Or 'Madam Tussauds'," said George, joining in.
   "What about 'Tower Bridge'," suggested Julian. "I have always wanted to see the middle part swing up to let the boats through."
   "Woof, woof," barked Timmy, not wanting to be left out.
   Dick laughed. "I didn't quite get that, Timmy, old boy."
   "That's easy. He said, 'my vote is Battersea Dogs Home to visit all my friends and relations'," translated George.
   They all burst out laughing and gaily made their way home, the blues a thing of the past.
   It was Louise who finally tipped the scales. " 'The Tower of London' would be my choice. This is where, way back in time, Queen Elizabeth The First was held captive and Henry VIII chopped off his wives' heads. And of course, you can see 'The Crown Jewels'."

Julian made his way to the ticket office at Bond Street underground station and purchased four singles to Tower Hill. Fortunately Timmy was allowed to travel free.
   The previous day's encounter with the 'Special Branch' seemed light years away as the five excitedly passed through the ticket barrier and immediately found themselves confronted by an apparently bottomless, moving stairway.
   "Wow!" exclaimed Dick. "Look how steep this escalator is and how far it goes down."
   Anne felt slightly giddy looking down into what appeared to her like the depths of the earth. But dread turned to exhilaration as she followed her fearless brothers and cousin leaping from step to step and finally arriving at the bottom.
   "Where has Timmy got too?" said George, looking all about.
   Anne glanced back up the escalator and burst out laughing.
   Timmy was not fond of stairs at the best of times, but this was his first experience of one that actually moved. He bravely jumped aboard and raced down, but by halfway his nerves were in tatters. Timmy then did a most foolish thing. He attempted to run back up, but found he could only climb fast enough to stay in one position. He eventually gave up trying and allowed himself to be taken down backwards. The four children were in fits of laughter when the escalator finally dumped a humiliated Timmy at their feet.
   "Come on, you lot," said Dick, spotting an enamel sign screwed to the wall. "Tower Hill. Platform two."
   They only had a few minutes to wait before a rush of warm air from down the tunnel signalled the approach of an on coming train. Timmy was amazed to see the automatic doors slide open as if by magic.
   "All aboard," yelled Dick. "Only four stops to 'The Crown Jewels'."
   At the entrance to 'The Tower of London' the five were greeted by two friendly Beefeaters, dressed in scarlet tudor uniforms.
   One of them handed Julian a booklet. "This gives a brief history of The Tower. On the last page you will find a pullout map naming all the prominent buildings and places of interest."
   "Where do we find 'The Crown Jewels'?" asked Anne, eagerly.
   The warden smiled. He was obviously accustomed to that question. "Go straight ahead, turn left after 'Traitors Gate', up some steps and there you will find a signpost telling you which direction to take."
   The little group wandered through the main arched gateway into a courtyard and gazed up at the imposing battlements. On the far side another archway led into a high, domed, massive, stone porch. Anne's eyes needed to grow accustomed to the darkness before she could make out a flight of stone steps, to her right, leading down to where the Thames splashed in through a giant, criss-crossed wooden portcullis and lapped up against the bottom step.
   Julian stood by the doorway and read from the booklet. "This is known as 'Traitors Gate'. Boats would row down 'The Thames' into here and political traitors, secured with chains and shackles, would be led up these very steps to be locked away inside 'The Tower'."
   Anne felt uneasy. "Shall we continue on?" she whispered.
   They followed the Beefeater's instructions. Left down a short passage and up some steps to a spacious, grassy plateau. Anne took a welcome deep breath of fresh air.
   A large, solid, grey-stone fortress stood at the very centre of the plateau.
   "Does the book say anything about that building, Ju.?" asked George.
   "Yes. It is 'The White Tower' built by William the Conqueror in 1066."
   "It does not look very white to me," observed Dick.
   Julian laughed. "At first it was painted white but that has long since weathered away."
   "I wonder what that is over there?" said George, pointing to a small area partitioned off by a single chain link barrier. Behind the barrier a well-oiled medieval axe lent against a giant solid wood chopping block.
   George read from a brass plaque set into a polished block of granite. "On this spot Henry VIII beheaded three of his wives. Katherine Parr, Ann Boleyn and Catherine of Arragon."
   Anne pulled a face. "Maybe it is not such a good idea to be married to a king, after all."
   "Why don't you put your head on the block, Anne, and try it for size?" teased Dick.
   Anne pulled him by the arm. "Come on. Let's find 'The Crown Jewels'."
   The five followed the many tourists into an antechamber containing the nucleus of British heritage treasure: Ceremonial swords, ornaments, countless items of jewellery, shining armour and many fine original costumes through the ages. Even 'The Royal Blue Robe', richly embroidered with pure gold, worn by The Archbishop of Canterbury during the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
   "Look at this colossal solid gold punch bowl," said Dick, much impressed. "I did not realise royalty drank so much."
   Further along were untold 'objet d'art' presented to The British Crown throughout the centuries by royalty from the far-flung corners of the earth.
   "This way to The Crown Jewels," called out a supervisor.
   "What!" exclaimed Anne, in awe. "How could anything be more splendid than this?"
   But there was. Down some steps, deep inside 'Tower Hill' and behind a three foot thick, solid steel door, now swung open, existed a massive vault. The central, circular, bulletproof glass plate display contained the treasure of treasures. On tiers of bevel-edged, lead crystal shelves stood 'The Crown Jewels' in all its glory: The Imperial Crown of India, including the legendary Koh-I-Noor Diamond. The Ancient Crown of Saint Edward, used for crowning the monarchs of England since 1206. The fabulous Sceptre with Cross embracing The First Star of Africa, the largest diamond in the world. The Golden Eagle and Spoon, used for the strange anointing ritual during coronations since time immemorial. Gold, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, pearls and ermine. Riches that defy imagination.
   The four children slowly circled the display, feasting on the lavish items that confronted them. All were struck dumb with wonder, their wide, incredulous eyes reflecting the sparkle of jewels and precious metals.
   Each child gradually picked out a favourite item.
   For Anne it was the heavily jewelled and ermine lined Crown of State. Julian was fascinated by the large, pear shaped First Star of Africa.
   Dick would love to have owned the jewel studded Sword of State.
   George, The Imperial Crown of India. She read the gold writing on the accompanying black velvet placard.

                                 THE KOH-I-NOOR CURSE:

Her attention was inexplicably drawn to the canopy covering the display. It was constructed from a peculiar dull, grey metal. Where had she seen this before?
   "Ah yes! At my father's seminar. The sample piece of metal he cut with the laser. What was the name of it now? 'Osmium alloy' something or other."
   "Would you move along now, please?" called out a supervisor.
   It was time to leave.
   Back outside the children swapped experiences.
   "What a great collection of jewels," said Julian. "What would I give to actually hold some of them in my hands?"
   They all agreed.
   "Wouldn't the other guys be green with envy if I turned up at school brandishing that magnificent Sword of State," dreamed Dick.
   Anne felt slightly peckish and remembered the sandwiches they had brought. "Would anyone care for something to eat?" she said.
   This remark brought forth emphatic cries of ecstasy.
   The children found a low stonewall to sit on.
   Almost as soon as the sandwiches were opened, two large birds appeared as if by magic. They strutted about, cawing loudly, resplendent in their fine black, glossy feathers.
   "What do you suppose these birds are, Julian?" asked George. "They look too big for crows or rooks."
   "They must be the ravens," said Julian, throwing the nearest one a crust. "I believe there is a legend saying that if ever the ravens leave The Tower of London The British Empire will fall."
   "If other visitors feed them as much as we do, no wonder they want to stay here," returned George. "In fact they are probably too fat to fly."
   The two bold ravens pranced about close to where the five sat, fighting noisily over a chunk of fruitcake.
   "Do you think they are called ravens because they are always ravenous?" Dick wondered.
   Anne giggled. "If that was so, Dick, raven should be your middle name."    Dick, ignoring Anne's taunt, lent across and took the booklet from Julian's lap. "Let's see what else The Tower of London has to offer," he said, flicking through the pages. "The Bloody Tower. Now that seems to be worth a visit. We can get to it by walking along the top of that wall over there."
   The view from the narrow walkway that ran along the top of the outer wall proved to be magnificent. In the foreground, spanning The River Thames, was the unmistakeable sight of 'Tower Bridge'. In the distance, spurning the recent attempt at architecture, stood the majestic dome of Saint Paul's Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. To the left rose the higgledy-piggledy mass of offices that formed The City of London.
   Dick suddenly grabbed Julian by the arm, making him jump. "Keep your eyes on those men over there," he ordered, dramatically. "I am going to try and catch them up."
   With that, he bound down the steps, ran across the lawn and disappeared through a small archway in the far corner.

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