Read Chew Bee or Not Chew Bee Online

Authors: Martin Chatterton

Chew Bee or Not Chew Bee (8 page)

BOOK: Chew Bee or Not Chew Bee
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A Sea of Troubles

The performance was one of the best ever.

Everything went right. The songs had the crowd rocking. The play was exciting, funny and sad, all at the same time. Elbows played his fiddle as though his life depended upon it. Yorick's fog machine worked perfectly. Minty and Minimac even avoided being pelted with rotten vegetables.

But it was Olly who was the star. The Utter Nutters went completely bonkers.

From his position in the wings, Willy had the best view in the house. It was all just perfect.

Apart, that was, from the tricky problem of the bee, The Ghost, Skellington, and—last but not least—Sir Victor Vile, who was probably going to kill him.

Willy scanned the audience, and spotted Sir Anstruther Skellington all by himself in the theatre box nearest the stage.

Willy nearly choked on his own tonsils. Skellington was sitting in the very seat where Willy had hidden the spare bee!

Willy had to get it back.

Right now.

‘You want to do
Yorick put down the fog machine hose and looked at Willy.

‘Smoke Skellington out with the fog machine,' said Willy. ‘I need my spare bee back.'

‘Exackly wot spare bee would that be, Waggledagger?' said Yorick.

‘I don't know,' said Willy. ‘I'm waiting for The Ghost to turn up again and tell me.'

Yorick leaned forward and rapped Willy on the head. ‘Wot 'appened to you in Richmond? 'Ave you gone doolally bonkers nuts berserko?' he asked. ‘Enough of this ghost stuff! We got a show to do.'

Willy threw up his hands. ‘Forget it, I'll find another way.'

He scuttled to the edge of the stage and hopped down into the audience. Keeping to the shadows, he made his way to the exit at the back of the theatre. Then he ran up the stairs, along the corridor, and peeked through the door at the back of Skellington's box.

Skellington was sitting directly in front of him. Willy couldn't see the honey pot anywhere.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash from the back of the theatre. Some people screamed.

Three men burst through the theatre doors and pushed their way through the audience. They bounded onstage. It was Sir Victor Vile and his Codpieces.

If Sir Victor had looked scary before, he now looked completely terrifying. His face was smudged with ink and his magnificent moustache was coated in dried horse dung. Willy doubted that Sir Victor would settle for anything less than Willy's head on a platter.

The crowd thought it was part of the act. They gave a great roar of approval.

Victor Vile grabbed Olly's lute and smashed it to the floor. ‘Quiet, ignorant peasants!' he bellowed.

The audience roared even louder.

Willy groaned.

‘Come out, Waggledagger!' yelled Sir Victor, the non-inky parts of his face turning purple. ‘This time it's curtains for you, you slippery little worm!'

In his box, Sir Anstruther Skellington jumped to his feet. As he did so, his chubby right foot knocked Willy's honey pot from its hiding place under the chair.

Skellington looked at the pot, then at the stage, and blinked in confusion. ‘Vile?' he bellowed, squinting at Sir Victor. ‘Is that you? Aren't you supposed to be in a dungeon with that blasted nephew of Ardent's?'

Sir Victor didn't answer. Instead he strode to the side of the stage and came back with Yorick at sword point.

‘Careful, chief,' said Yorick. ‘You could take someone's eye out wiv that fing!'

‘Which is exactly what I will be doing if that whey-faced whippersnapper, Willy Waggledagger, does not come out
instant!' roared Sir Victor.

Willy swallowed hard.

Sir Victor waggled his sword menacingly. ‘You have until the count of three, Waggledagger!' he shouted, his wild-eyed gaze travelling over the theatre. ‘Or your hairy friend loses his head! One! Two!…'

Skellington Holds His Tongue

Sir Anstruther Skellington was enjoying himself. He didn't know how Waggledagger had escaped from the dungeon, but there was nothing he liked better than a good beheading. And that was exactly what Cousin Vile was about to serve up. Waggledagger would soon be nothing more than an irritating memory.

With a squeak of joy, he picked up the honey pot from the floor, popped the cork and emptied the contents into his mouth. His lips closed like a trap and he settled back happily to watch the fun.

His happiness lasted exactly one second.

After a whole day cooped up inside the pot, the bee Willy had taken from Skellington's warehouse was in a bad mood. It buried its stinger deep into the tip of Sir Anstruther Skellington's tongue.

Skellington let out a high-pitched scream. He leapt from the edge of his box and landed with a crash against a pillar on the far side of the stage.

The audience exploded. This was fantastic!

Skellington fell to the boards, with the bee still attached to his tongue. Then he sprang to his feet.

he screeched, both fists scrunched to his closed mouth.

He took off, and ran around and around the stage.

Willy dashed to the edge of the box. This wasn't part of the plan!

‘Skellington!' snapped Sir Victor. ‘What is the meaning of this? Stop at once!'

replied Sir Anstruther as he whirled past Sir Victor.

squealed Olly, clinging to the stand that held the amplifier cone.

‘Oh do be quiet,' said Elbows, who was standing next to him.

Next to the souvenir stand, Charlie watched open-mouthed. This didn't look good.

As Skellington completed his third lap of the stage, Sir Victor lost patience. He reached out a booted foot. Skellington tripped and ran headlong into the theatre wall, directly below Willy's box. Knocked off balance, Willy teetered for a moment and then toppled over the edge of the box. He landed on top of Skellington.

‘Waggledagger!' Sir Victor yelled, his moustache bristling. He pushed Yorick aside.
I'd find you here! I've had about as much of you as I can stand!' He lifted his sword.

‘Run!' yelled Yorick.

Willy tried to get to his feet, but lost his balance on Skellington's wobbly belly. He fell in a heap.

‘Gotcha!' Sir Victor yelled, hauling Willy up by the back of his tunic.

Sir Anstruther Skellington whimpered and clutched at his mouth.

The audience broke out in a chorus of boos.

‘Silence!' screamed Sir Victor, waving his sword at them. The audience responded with a barrage of hissing.

The Serpent That Did Sting

Sir Victor's eyes gleamed with rage. His moustache positively quivered with fury. Even his ears looked angry. He waved his sword in the direction of Skellington.

‘I suppose this is your work, too, isn't it, you repulsive little pipsqueak?' he snarled at Willy.

Behind Vile, Skellington heaved himself unsteadily to his feet and glared at Willy with all the venom of a man who'd discovered a bee in his mouth.

‘It's got your signature all over it! I'm going to enjoy the next few minutes!' Sir Victor raised his sword once more.

‘Not if I have anything to do with it,' said a voice from the audience.

A hooded figure stepped forward and leapt onstage.

The audience

‘The Ghost!' gasped Willy.

The Ghost pulled back the hood of his cape to reveal a thin face with a long nose. A face that Willy recognised at once. A face he hadn't seen since he was a little boy in Stratford.

‘Uncle Aaron!' gasped Willy. ‘Is that you?'

Skellington made a choking noise.
he burbled. He looked completely petrified.

‘What on earth is the matter with you, Skellington?' said Sir Victor. ‘Pull yourself together, man! There is no such thing as a ghost.'

Skellington spat the bee into his hand and quickly closed his fingers over it. His eyes never left Ardent's face. His tongue was thick and
swollen as he struggled to speak. ‘You're thupposed to be dead!' he gasped. ‘The latht time I thaw you——'

Willy saw a glimmer of black and yellow as Skellington closed his fist. ‘What have you got in your hand?' he yelled.

Quick as a flash, Skellington popped the bee back into his mouth.
he sputtered.

‘What's that in your mouth?' Willy shouted. ‘Is it a bee?'

‘Tell us what's in your mouth!' yelled someone in the audience.

Sir Anstruther Skellington looked over his shoulder towards the backstage door.

‘Can someone tell me what the blasted blue blazes is going on?' bellowed Sir Victor. He pointed his sword at Willy. The audience started booing again.

Suddenly Skellington made a run for it. He dodged around Sir Victor, heading backstage.

Willy leapt to his feet and hurled himself after Skellington. He grabbed him by the waist, knocking him off balance. The two of them crashed to the ground.

‘Why did you look so guilty when you saw my uncle?' Willy demanded.

Skellington spat the bee into his hand once more. Then he bent his head and whispered in Willy's ear, ‘All wight, all wight, you've worked it out. Cwever old you! I killed your uncle. Big deal! I wanted his job. But, look, he's thtill alive, tho no harm done. And anyway, you've got no proof. Jutht let me go now, and I'll thend you a gweat big bag of gold ewewy week fwom now until forewer, I pwomise.'

‘Not on your life,' said Willy.

Skellington growled at Willy, put the bee back in his mouth, and made a break for it once again.

He got as far as the backstage door before Yorick grabbed him by the scruff of the neck
and jerked him off his feet. ‘Goin' somewhere, are we?' Yorick said. He dragged Skellington back to the front of the stage.

‘That man tried to kill my uncle!' shouted Willy.

The audience gasped.

‘It's very exciting, isn't it?' whispered Olly to Elbows.

‘Ask Skellington what he's got in his mouth!' yelled Willy.

‘Shut up, you! I'll do the talking!' Sir Victor Vile snarled. He turned his attention to his cousin. ‘Well, Anstruther? What
you got in your mouth?'

Everyone in the theatre looked at Skellington. He stood, blinking in the centre of the stage, his lips clamped shut.

Just like Willy before, Skellington was faced with a choice.

Chew bee or not chew bee?
That was the question.

‘Well?' said Sir Victor. ‘C'mon, man! We're waiting!'

Skellington moved his mouth. The bee was still in there. A big fat bee with papery wings and insecty legs. All he had to do was eat it, and Waggledagger could never prove he had tried to murder Ardent.

He couldn't do it.

Skellington pursed his lips and spat the bee onto the floor, where it landed with a wet plop at Willy's feet.

Willy snatched it up, trying to ignore its slimy coating of Skellington spit.

‘What nonsense is this, Skellington?' snarled Sir Victor Vile. ‘Why is Waggledagger chasing you? And why are you spitting out bees all over the place?' He drew a deep breath, brandished his sword, and declared, ‘I've had enough of this. I'm beheading Waggledagger here and now. Skellington, you can explain later.'

‘Wait a minute!' squeaked Willy, backing away from Vile and glancing nervously at the Codpieces. ‘I can explain.' He pointed at Uncle Aaron. ‘This man here is my uncle. He used to be the King of Denmark Lane, until your cousin tried to murder him, so he could take his job.'

‘What Willy says is true, Sir Victor,' said Ardent, stepping into the centre of the stage. He shook Vile's hand. ‘My name is Ardent. Aaron Aardvark Ardent, the Master of the Revels, as was. Pleased to meet you.'

‘Why didn't you tell me you were still alive?' said Willy. ‘I mean, why did you pretend to be dead?'

‘'Ow come you
still alive?' said Yorick. ‘That's wot I'd like to know!'

‘Me too!' came a shout from the audience.

‘By most measures I shouldn't be,' said Ardent. ‘I woke up in the mortuary after being stung in the ear. I suffer from a condition
where if stung by a bee, I slump into a coma so deep that I can appear to be dead. This had happened once before shortly after I arrived in London when I attended a Royal garden party.'

The audience gasped.

‘I realised,' said Aaron Ardent, ‘that there was more to my “death” than met the eye. Bees were not in season in London, yet I was stung by one. I don't eat meat, yet I almost drowned in a bowl of Pig's Ear soup.' Ardent broke off and looked hard at Skellington. ‘I knew that someone had put a bee in my ear and then, once I'd passed out, placed my head in a bowl of soup, to make it look as if I had drowned.'

‘I hope you're writing this down!' Charlie hissed to Walden. ‘It would make a great play!'

‘But I didn't know who was behind my attempted murder,' continued Ardent. ‘And I didn't dare come out of hiding to find out for
myself. So I was just hanging around the theatre like a lost soul, hoping I'd find someone who could help me. I didn't believe my luck when I saw my little nephew William arrive with the Black Skulls. I couldn't tell him who I was, but he was courageous enough to help me anyway. If Willy hadn't been so brave, I think the truth might have remained a mystery forever!'

Willy blushed. ‘It was nothing,' he said.

Sir Victor spluttered in confusion.

The audience cheered.

‘I didn't see that coming!' said Olly.

‘I pwomise you, Ardent,' said Skellington, struggling to speak normally, ‘I had absolutely nothing to do with this tewwible cwime. Just because I had a bee in my mouth, it doesn't mean I murdewed anybody. Wosenbloom and Goldstein would tell you that if they were here! In fact, where are they? What has this wapscallion done with my men?'

There was a noise at the back of the audience and Willy saw a huge familiar figure pushing his way through the crowd.

It was Rosenbloom.

BOOK: Chew Bee or Not Chew Bee
6.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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