Walter and Mary were two of
the ravens that lived at the Tower of London, in England. Most of the time
they enjoyed life there, but some days it got very annoying for them. It
was one of those annoying days and theyíd had enough. Mary and Walter
loved to sit on the wall and watch the people go by. They got a kick out
of seeing all the different types of people and often laughed at some of
the silly things they did. What they didnít like was when people stopped
at the wall to stare at them, make faces at them, or photograph them. They
didnít mind the photography too much, but when the camera was shoved just
inches away from their beaks Ėthatís when it irritated them.
"Not another group of
photographers," Walter complained. "Weíve had our pictures taken at least
five hundred times today. This bunch looks like the kind that will want to
take close ups. Oh dear."
Walter was right. They got
as close as they could to the ravens. One manís camera nearly touched
Maryís beak. No sooner had that group left than a large crowd of children
came by. One little girl stuck her face right up to Walterís beak. He was
tempted to bite her. Mary knew what Walter was thinking and nudged him
with her wing. "Donít!" she whispered.
That night, after all the
tourists, school children and employees had gone home, Walter said to
Mary, "Iíve had it! Iíve had it with them all! I want to get out of here
and find another place to live."
Mary replied, "Walter, we
canít leave here. We canít even fly; remember. They clipped our wings so
we couldnít leave. I heard a Beefeater guard say once that as long as
there were ravens at the Tower of London, then England would stay a mighty
country. If we leave, then what will happen to England?"
"I donít care any more. Do
you know a little boy did to me today? He snuck up behind me while I was
sitting here, minding my own business and he pulled a feather out of my
tail. That hurt! Iím tired of this place and of all the people," Walter
Just then, Anne and
William, two of the other ravens that lived at the Tower, came by. "Whatís
the matter with Walter?" Anne asked.
"Heís had it with all the
people. He wants to leave," Mary told her.
"I know what you mean,
Walter. I had a bad day myself. Some man with a camera stuck it so close
to me that it chipped a piece off my beak," William said.
"Well, if weíre all so
miserable here, why donít we leave? Thereís got to be a better place to
live than here," Walter stated.
The other ravens agreed.
That night they planned how they were going to escape from the Tower of
The sun rose the next
morning, filling the sky with brilliant reds, oranges, pinks, and purples
as the rays danced on the clouds above. The tourists also came, in hordes.
This meant more people with cameras, more school children, more historians
and more people interested in the Towerís architecture. But today, Walter,
Mary, William and Anne didnít seem to mind. They more people there, the
more chance theyíd have of escaping.
"Letís get over to the
Torture Chamber. Thatís where most of the people go first," suggested
Walter. So the four ravens headed in that direction. A large group of
tourists came by. The ravens followed them into the Torture Chamber. The
people set their bags down because there was a long line and none of them
wanted to hold the heavy bags that were filled with mementos and
"Aha! Bags! Plan number
one. Okay, everybody find a bag and climb in," Walter told them. "Be sure
nobody sees you."
Each bird walked along the
ground near the touristís feet, looking about inconspicuously. William
jumped into a bag. It rocked a little bit when he got in. He climbed down
to the bottom and covered himself with a silk scarf. Mary hopped into one.
It was very full. She had to move sweeties, souvenir plates and flags
around until she got to the bottom of the bag. She stayed very still.
Walter found an open bag. It didnít have very much inside of it. He curled
up in a ball and lay very quietly.
Anne saw the bag she wanted
to jump into. She was just about to leap in when the person grabbed the
bag by the handles and picked it up. Mary landed with a thud against the
womanís leg, scratching her with her beak. "Help! Iíve been bitten by a
raven! It attacked me!" she screamed.
Two Beefeaters came running
over. Anne ran for her life. They helped the injured woman, who had
nothing more than a small scratch. Walter peeked out of his bag and saw
Anne running away. He jumped out and ran after her.
William looked out to see
what all the noise was about and saw Walter and Anne fleeing. He decided
that he wasnít going to escape without them. Just then the person who
owned the bag he was in, saw him inside it. He screamed, "Thereís a raven
in my bag. Get out! Get out!" William jumped out and ran as fast as he
Everyone else picked up
their bags. A woman saw Mary hiding under a Union Jack and began to
scream. She dropped the bag. "A raven! Help! A raven!"
Mary was terrified. She
climbed out of the bag, spilling its contents all over the ground. Quickly
she caught up with William, Walter and Anne. The four of them hid behind
the wall for the rest of the day.
"So much for escape plan
#1," Walter moaned.
The next morning, however,
escape plan #2 went into effect. "Do you have the sign ready?" Walter
"I worked on it this
morning. Itís finished now. What do you think?" she asked, holding up the
sign for the others to inspect.
"STUFFED RAVENS. ONE POUND
EACH. DROP YOUR COIN INTO THE CUP AND CARRY ONE HOME! HAVE ONE OF YOUR
VERY OWN!" Mary read the sign.
"Thatís great, Anne. Letís
go!" Walter said as he led the way to the wall. "Letís stand right here on
the wall as usual. Put the sign below us, Anne. Donít forget he cup and
hurry up. Here come some people now."
Anne, Mary, William and
Walter stood stiff as boards. Three children came walking by and stopped
to read the sign. "Oh look, Jessica. For one pound we can have a stuffed
raven. Do you have a pound coin? I want one," David asked.
"No, David. Iíve only got
50p. Andrew, do you have any coins?" Jessica asked the other boy.
"Sorry, Jessica. Iíve only
got 20p left," he answered.
"I guess we canít have a
raven," David said, and then the three children walked away.
"Oh dear. We almost pulled
it off, didnít we?" Mary said quietly.
"Shhhhhh! Here comes a man
and woman," said William.
They walked up to the
ravens. "Look at the stuffed birds, Alex. I want one. Will you buy one for
me?" asked Sarah.
"What would you do with it
when you got back home? Itís a stuffed bird!" Alex pointed out.
"I donít know. I just want
one. Theyíre so cute," Sarah giggled as she reached up and touched William
on the wing. "Feel how soft their feathers are," she noted. She touched
William again, rubbing his head, neck and feet.
William couldnít stand
being touched any longer. It tickled. He laughed out loud, "HA! HA! HA!
Alex and Sarah jumped back.
"Whatís going on here? That raven just laughed!" Sarah exclaimed.
"This is too strange,
Sarah. Letís get out of here," Alex said to her. The two of them ran away
"That was just great,
William! Why did you have to laugh?" Mary demanded an explanation.
"I couldnít help it. She
was tickling me," he shyly remarked.
"Well, so much for plan
#2," Walter said.
"Whatís plan #3? Maybe we
should try that," Anne suggested.
Just then two Beefeaters
came walking up to them. They looked very official in their red uniforms
and black hats. "What in the name of Pete is this?" one of them asked the
other. "Stuffed ravens for a pound?" he said, reading the sign.
The other Beefeater reached
up to touch Walter. Just then he squawked. "Letís get out of here!" The
four ravens jumped down off the wall and ran as fast as they could to the
bushes to hide.
The Beefeaters watched as
the ravens ran away. "What is all this about?" one asked the other. They
gave each other a questioning look, picked up the sign and cup and then
"Another close call," Mary
said. "Weíd better think about plan #3 again."
That night the four ravens
stayed up working on their plan. "It might just work," said Anne.
It was around four in the
morning when they decided that it was to be now or never and they made
their way over to the White Tower, where the priceless Crown Jewels were
kept. Up the steps they went, hopping silently, until they reached the
Jewel Room. "Hope on top of the glass cases, but be careful not to set any
alarms off," Walter warned. "William, start lifting the cases off and then
had them carefully to Anne and Mary."
They removed the glass and
put them in a nice stack off in the corner. They picked up St. Edwardís
Crown, the Imperial State Crown and Charles II Sceptre, along with several
rings, necklaces covered with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
They gathered up the golden goblets and platters. Finally none of them
could hold any more treasure. One by one they walked down the steps very
slowly. Suddenly, Mary tripped and dropped Charles II Sceptre. It rolled
down the steps and bumped into the wall, setting off a very loud alarm.
Lights came on, sirens blared, and the ravens could hear the guards
running towards them, screaming and calling to each other.
"Drop everything and come
with me," ordered Walter. The four of them dropped everything, including
every single jewel and followed Walter to a dark, narrow crevice next to
the side of the door. They pressed their bodies against the wall just as
the guards rushed inside and up the steps. Luckily the ravens were black
and blended in well. As soon as theyíd passed by, William, Mary, Anne and
Walter ran out of the White Tower and didnít stop until theyíd reached the
"That was too close this
time," announced Mary. "I think maybe weíd better start enjoying where we
are and forget about any more plans. This is just too stressful and very
"I agree with Mary," Anne
"Me too," added William.
Walter had to agree. There
just didnít seem to be any way theyíd ever escape from the Tower of
London. From then on the four birds accepted the fact that life at the
Tower of London was they life theyíd have to endure. They learned not to
let the photographerís cameras bother them and to ignore the childrenís
stares. Now and then Walter could be seen on the outside wall of the
Tower, staring at the city of London, but most of the time they were
content to be where they were.