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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Great Escape

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 sighed.

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 London.

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 souvenirs.

"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 could.

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 asked Anne.

"I worked on it this morning. Itís finished now. What do you think?" she asked, holding up the sign for the others to inspect.


"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! 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 quickly.

"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 left.

"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 wall.

"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 worrying."

"I agree with Mary," Anne said.

"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.

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