Bill's Diary 1950 (Part 6)
First edition: 2014
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1950
Type: Continuation Books
Publisher: EB Society
Illustrator: not illustrated
Category: Bill's Diary 1950
Type: Continuation Books
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"This is Strada Voinei," king Torquinel told us. "We must go immediately to Tauri-Hessia - there will be much trouble if I am not there as soon as possible. Mr. Cunningham, my nephew ... is he all right?"
I nodded reassuringly to the king feeling just a little out of my depth. Here we were with the supreme ruler of Tauri-Hessia and we were responsible for him. The first thing on my mind was to get him to the palace - and fast. I hadn't even thought of the prince, but the kids had said he was all right and that was enough.
"Don't worry your Royal Highness, I said. "You mightn't recognize Prince Aloysius when you see him," although I was pretty sure Gussy would get rid of his disguise as soon as possible. Only wish I'd seen him in it.
The king was satisfied with this remark and I think, in his turn, he looked on Ronnie and myself as some kind of 'saviours ... which I suppose we were in a way. I snapped out orders.
"Ronnie, you and Jack get to the van and bring it up here immediately. You know the way all right, Jack?"
The boy assured me he did and they both made off at a fast rate to where the van had been parked. In twenty minutes time we were headed back toward Tauri-Hessia with Ronnie driving and the king sitting beside him. The Count was between Jack and myself at the rear having to put up with Kiki who became quite talkative as we raced south along the highway past quiet villages and lone houses out in the fields until Jack suddenly spoke up.
"Bill, that notice said Zavoi. We've gone right past the circus!"
I said that we were going straight to Tauri-Hessia because it was imperative the King got there as soon as possible. None of the populace was privy to what was happening in High Places with the king absent and the prince nowhere to be found, so he had to be delivered immediately. Intelligence is of the opinion that the royal hierarchy will eventually be absorbed by the greater part of the country but for the present, it is in our interests to do all we can to keep on the good side of this principality and my orders were explicit. I told Jack the others would be fetched eventually and I passed this information on to King Torquinel who looked very pleased to think he'd be meeting his nephew's guardians. He's a nice old man, and still with his wits about him. Now that he had been restored however, he wouldn't look too kindly on those who had tried to prevent him from being the ruler. Count Hartius and Madame Tatiosa would need to be rounded up and if we were lucky, they'd still be at the castle.
The king's return was an unexpected surprise to a couple of courtiers who were still at their posts when we reached the palace - a far less impressive citadel than the one we'd just come from. It stood slightly elevated in the central part of Tauri-Hessia and when we appeared the royal assistants couldn't believe their eyes and immediately started fussing round but the king waved them aside so that he could attend to more important things. While the news began flowing out, King Torquinel took us aside into a room and gave us a rough grounding of what was going to done, while Count Paritolen was taken off by loyal soldiers who escorted him to his rightful place pending a trial.
I looked at Jack who was yawning his head off and suggested he have a sleep for a few hours. The circus folk were shortly to get a surprise when an enormous state car picked up the bit-players. Tauri-Hessian clothes were also being delivered and Jack was told he'd get some as well. Poor boy, he reeled round trying to stand upright and finally sank on to a luxurious couch and closed his eyes. The king said he could be left there for the present and will be attended to.
He looked at me quite affectionately.
"Bill Cunningham, where is your wife? I want you to fetch her."
That was a surprise.
"I'd be delighted to have her here your Highness," I said. "I had hoped to at least speak with her. Would it be possible?"
In answer, Ronnie and I were led out into the passage, and down to a room that was empty. Inside I saw an interesting array of pretty basic radio equipment that looked as if it would be powerful enough to get me a few minutes' contact with Britain. The king said he was going to his chamber but first pointed to the passage and told us there was a double room further down, which we could make our own. I almost said 'Thanks mate!' but realizing just in time that we had to be a little more reverent, Ronnie and I expressed ourselves in the proper manner and watched as he made his way down the passage and up some stairs.
With Ronnie standing by I dialed a number and was transported to the GCCS at Eastcote. After I'd satisfied them with the appropriate codes, I was transferred to the emergency switchboard at Scotland Yard. Wasn't familiar with whoever was there but after quoting my number I gave him the Brockton address and next moment I heard a 'phone ringing vigorously. It went for three minutes and just as I was thinking of Allie deep in slumber Ronnie was surprised by my suddenly hitting the table and looking up at him comically.
"She's at the farm!"
He didn't understand but gathered I was having trouble getting hold of Allie. I went back to the switchboard and gave them the number of the Ellis's farm and after a minute or two the bell rang and a sleepy voice could be heard.
"Hello. Glenda here, who's that?"
I realized I'd never known Mrs. Ellis' name before today!
"Glenda. Mrs. Ellis, it's Bill!"
I imagined her reeling back in amazement. She came on the 'phone again.
"Bill! Bill Cunningham! Where are you?"
I told her I had only a few minutes, I was in Tauri-Hessia, and would it be possible to wake Allie so that I could have a few minutes talk with her.
She must have dropped the receiver and rushed blindly to the door. I could imagine her racing off to wherever Allie was sleeping and waking her with the news and, sure enough, after a minute and a half had elapsed I heard thumps and a breathless voice coming over the receiver.
"Bill! Bill, where are you?"
I laughed because I felt good.
"Didn't Mrs. Ellis ... Glenda tell you?"
"No! Where are you Bill?"
"In Tauri-Hessia. Remember ... that's where I was bound for."
"Yes Bill, yes of course. I've been so worried."
A rapid question and answer session followed and I gathered Mrs. Ellis was listening as well.
"Allie. I want you here beside me - in Tauri-Hessia."
Confusion emerged and after explaining she'd be picked up by whomsoever I could get, and flown over here, Allie told me she felt wide-awake and ready to go now! I said I'd get an express service for her and then we chatted away - but only for a few minutes because I was starting to feel dead to the world.
"Allie," I sad. "Be ready to travel. I'll get the details sorted out, bye!"
Allie put the receiver down after telling me I was in her heart every moment.
"Come on," said Ronnie tugging at my sleeve. "You'll have plenty of time to be with your wife in a day or so."
"True," I said. "But there's no time like the present for expressing oneself."
I made another call to the Yard requesting that transport from Brockton be arranged for one Mrs. A. Cunningham to Southampton where a flight was to take her direct to Tauri-Hessia. The person whom I'd been put onto was none other than Roy - doing a bit of night work in the travel department. Big welcome, but he laughed when I made my request.
"Not a chance!"
"Not a chance!"
"Because Bill, you're talking Yugoslavia or some other place. At least two flights will be needed not to mention road travel and anyway, the airports in that region have been closed down for some reason."
For a moment or two my heart sank.
"Don't worry, Bill. You've been the topic of conversation round here for days and the instructions received have been specific - we have to give you every facility, and I think we can stretch it to your One and Only."
"Yep! I'll get in touch with the Northern Unit ... Alden or Tate's staff will see you right, probably with a military plane. Mrs. Cunningham can be taken to the nearest border and a helicopter will take her the rest of the way. How's that sound?"
"I'll shout you a couple of drinks next time we meet."
"Make it three!"
"Four, and thanks Roy. Thanks a lot"
"Bill, we know what's happening so we're all out to help you, after all it's Royalty we're dealing with and from we can gather on the wires, it's been successful."
"Absolutely, Roy. Running on all cylinders at present!"
I rang off. The Northern unit's influence was legendary and I was sure Allie would be delivered immediately and safely ... she might even be in time for luncheon at the Palace. Those air boys are the greatest and I couldn't help missing old Henry, but I guess promotion has to be followed wherever it occurs.
Ronnie and I both staggered out, went down the passage, and into our room where we dropped onto the beds after a minimum of washing up.
(Bed at 05:45. Diary covered next evening)
Ronnie and I woke up more-or-less at 09:30 to a brilliantly sunny day.
"I think that means something like Good Morning."
"More or less!"
Rays of sunlight were pouring in through the window and we just lay there enjoying the peace that enveloped us - we weren't tired even though we'd only had a few hours sleep. They say when you're involved with something of importance, you end up surviving on spare batteries but I think tonight we'll catch up on whatever sleep we've missed. I went over all that had passed in the last several hours and the two of us conversed until a knock at the door sounded and Ronnie, in his most cultured voice, spoke:
An attractive maid opened the door and brought a tray of breakfast into the room. She placed it on the table and surveyed us both. The girl spoke perfect English.
"Breakfast for you. The boy has been taken care of too."
Her voice had a lilting sound to it and when I asked where Jack was, she said he was in a bedroom further down the passage. It appears he'd been taken from the sofa and after being put into pyjamas, he'd been popped into bed where he slept until about 09:00. The boy had been asking after us.
"Thank you," I said, and Ronnie got up to open the door. Must have made an impression because she laughed when he said something to her before disappearing down the passage.
"Nice girl! Hey, look at these clothes. I'm going into the dressing room from where I'll emerge resplendent; wowie - they even have my size right."
They had. This was a royal household so I guess things had to be 'right.' Got out of bed and after Ronnie had used the shower I stepped in and washed away several layers of unwanted dust and dirt before dressing myself in some very comfortable new clothes. My moustache had disappeared long ago and the wig before that. Ronnie went downstairs to look round while I walked along to the bedroom where Jack had been placed. He was sitting upright in bed having just finished a delicious meal. He'd eaten the lot and when he saw me a big grin came over his face.
"Bill, I was waiting for you. What are we going to do now? Where's Ronnie?"
"He's downstairs. We're waiting for the others to arrive and ..."
"And what?" Jack said looking at me.
"Goodness! You mean she'll be here as well?" Jack gasped. "All the way from England?"
"Bill, I know what 'ai' means."
"Thought you would!"
"Then you really mean it?"
It was going to be an exciting day. The news that the king had reappeared was flying round and so was the fact that the prince had been miraculously located. The wires were definitely humming. Right now King Torquinel was in conference but he would be appearing with all of us on the balcony in front of the villagers so that the rumours could be justified. I told Jack to get up and dress himself in the clothes that had been laid out for him. He jumped out of bed.
"They put me into these pyjamas. Smart eh?"
"You look pretty good," I said. "Now try these clothes. Personally I I'll feel more 'at home' when I get my own stuff on."
"Bill, you look great," Jack said encouragingly.
I looked at him closely - he seemed to mean what he said so maybe I did look all right. Ronnie joined us and shortly we heard a lot of cheering. Something was going on and when Jack opened the window a little wider we saw down below a state car was drawing up at the entrance. What a performance. Below us we could see the others including Gussy all seated in the first car and looking very grand indeed. Gussy was dressed as he should be dressed so I guess I'll never see him as he was when disguised. The second car had four of the circus folk in it - one I recognized as the boy 'Pedro' who'd been with Jack and Philip the other night. He looked very smart, all done up in crisp new clothes. Jack told me the two men were acrobats who'd rescued them from the tower - Toni and Bingo. They looked fine as well, dressed up to the nines as if they were about to announce some marvellous turn on the circus stage although they seemed a little bit overcome at all the pomp and ceremony - it wasn't like being on the kind of stage they were used to.
"The woman is Pedro's mother," Jack told Ronnie and myself. "We call her Ma!"
Have to admit she had a certain 'glamour' about her - a kind of Spanish flavour to her get-up and the frills and bows she wore made her stand out considerably. She looked almost regal as the car she was in pulled up behind the first. The gates opened and the cars carried on through although not before Jack had yelled like anything from above and Kiki, talking some nonsense, had flown down and around the cars causing everyone to look on in astonishment.
"A tame bird ... a bird that talks. Look, it's flying back to that boy who's looking out of the window - the palace window! What next?"
What next indeed? The cars disgorged their passengers and there was revelry aplenty as Ronnie, Jack, Kiki and I descended to join the throng who had been ushered into an anteroom. Lucy-Ann, Philip, and Dinah greeted us with Lucy-Ann of course hanging onto my arm and talking nineteen to the dozen as we went out onto the balcony; then there was a hush as a couple of trumpeters appeared. Four courtiers followed them, two soldiers, an elderly woman, a studious-looking man, and then there was another pause. We'd all found our places on the rather crowded balcony where a microphone and speakers had been set up and then, while the people gathered down below all cheered, we waited. Prince Aloysius appeared looking very posh with a cloak that had been added to complete his royal appearance. He glanced gratefully at us and Philip winked at him.
"Good on ya' Gussy," he yelled rather irreverently and Gussy smiled, looking a bit nervous, but his training held him in good stead and he joined us to wait until he was called upon to mount the little platform that had been set up.
Then the king himself appeared. He was all dressed up as befitted his kingly presence complete with an ermine cloak and there was a deafening roar as the gathered villagers gave a hearty cheer that mingled with the sound of trumpets blasting into the sky. Kiki forgot herself momentarily and winged her way up to the roof before looking down and, seeing Jack was still there, descended to his shoulder and, cuddling up to him, she looked around with interest at the proceedings. King Torquinel gave a short speech in his native tongue and it was greeted with cheers and then, when he looked towards us and said something, there was another enormous hullabaloo.
'He told the crowd who we were and that we were responsible for his re-appearance," said Ronnie.
The king then motioned towards his nephew, and Prince Aloysius walked up and mounted the platform to the sound of more cheers and claps. The trumpets blasted out once again and there was pandemonium as he waved and acknowledged his presence to the crowds. I think that once Gussy gets a little older he'll fall quite naturally into the mould for however long it will last. At that particular moment I had the feeling the boy was in his element, having been schooled from birth in the customs and rituals for his future role - although personally, I think the present king will be the final of his line governing Tauri-Hessia and young Gussy will probably end up returning to his school in Britain. It was either Dinah or Jack who told me that if Gussy ever wants to make a name for himself, he should go on the stage. Apparently he was extremely convincing when he acted as a girl, especially when the Count's soldiers searched through the circus camp.
With the formal proceedings completed, we all filed back into the anteroom and along to a large hall where an enormous luncheon had been laid. The children's eyes gleamed when they saw it, especially Philip's. He hadn't had all that much since this morning; in fact it appears the children had skimped breakfast at the camp. I think some of the circus grub wasn't quite to their taste so they were going to go hammer-and-tongs with this meal that looked as if it had been prepared by Tauri-Hessia's finest caterers. The acrobats, becoming a little more relaxed, were seated at a side table with 'Ma' who was still maintaining an excellent presence whilst trying to remember her very best manners. The kids were all at one table together with the prince who was seated at the head, and Pedro was at the other end. They were all talking madly each telling their side of the story and interrupting each other almost continuously.
Ronnie was seated next to me and I was seated next to the king while a special place was reserved for my true love and, with perfect timing, just before we began the meal Allie appeared. She looked quite flustered after having been rushed here by an army helicopter that had landed in the property at the back. I was told the palace had been expecting her to arrive by plane so after a quick change of plan, the courtiers had rushed Allie and her bag from the helicopter to a room where she was prepared by the king's own outfitters, and brought here to join us.
"No rest for the wicked!" I rushed down to hug and kiss my lovely wife, together with our eager kids who welcomed her very enthusiastically.
"Now we're all complete," said Lucy-Ann happily, taking Allie's arm and wrapping it round herself. I almost had to drag my Princess away and while the king looked on in amusement, I lead my wife up to her rightful place - on the other side of the king who rose and actually bowed to kiss her hand as she sat down. It might have been a trifle better if she had been next to me but we were in a king's house and protocol had to prevail.
Gussy, looking very princely came up a short time later to kiss Allie's hand and thank her for looking after him, and also for travelling here to take part in the ceremonies. For some reason his hand kissing didn't look out of place, and not one of the kids thought of giggling - after all this was Tauri-Hessia.
The banquet lasted at least an hour and a half and afterwards, the children ran off with Gussy whilst Allie and I had a few moments together talking with the king in a side room while coffee was served. King Torquinel implored us to let the kids stay a couple of weeks at the palace and said we must stay too. I looked at Allie and she looked at me. We'd gone from Overton to Quarry Cottage. She'd moved to the farm while I'd moved to Tauri-Hessia ... and now we were being invited to stay with the King himself for a few weeks. Couldn't think of anything nicer - we'd all be together and here was an opportunity to see a bit of this strange little country before returning to England.
I said it'd be wonderful and the only thing needed was for me to contact the agents in Brockton to arrange a few things. The king was delighted and said we'll be well looked after, which I didn't doubt for a second. In the late afternoon we all gathered to farewell the circus performers who'd enjoyed themselves immensely and now had some exciting stories to tell their fellow workers on arrival back at the camp. The fires would be burning far into the night it seemed ... and they've been allowed to keep their new clothes.
My mind hearkened back to when Allie and I had faced each other somewhere along the line after finding the children had vanished.
"In a dungeon? Horribly maimed? Separated and calling for help?"
No! They all end up in a travelling circus experiencing the sights and sounds of a foreign county that their schoolmates will probably never visit!
"Should we ever worry about them again?" I asked.
Allie shrugged. "We probably will, won't we Bill?"
Gussy dragged all the kids off to the king later to get permission for them to stay but it had already been arranged and the children were beside themselves with happiness. Ronnie would be guesting with us for just a few days and then moving off to an assignment he was looking forward to.
"Another translating service needed," he said. "This time I'll be in Sicily."
Ronnie gets around!
Gussy had a request for his uncle that involved his looks. In Tauri-Hessia, boys generally sport fairly long hair but time spent at boarding school in England had made him a little sensitive about his locks.
"I want my hair short - snip, snip - like Philip's and Jack's!"
The future Royal of Tauri-Hessia was making a request. Gussy, the Prince Torquinel, was lucky because his uncle had also spent time in England and understood his feelings.
He smiled and looked at his nephew.
"Very well-you shall have it cut short!"
Gussy cheered like anything and told us that tomorrow around seven in the morning, he'll be off to the hairdresser; however I think there'll be some arrangement for the man to come here. I don't think a prince can just stroll down to the barbershop.
"Gussy's over the Moon," Jack said expressing what we all thought.
"Fussy Gussy," Kiki squawked. "Your Majesty - send for the doctor, blow your nose!"
"KIKI!" said Jack looking quite shocked as the king guffawed and slapped his knee.
Kiki endeavoured to put herself back into the king's Good Books -
"Your Majesty! God Save the King."
Allie looked at me and I looked at her.
"I think that's a little better wouldn't you say Allie?"
"I'd say yes."
"Shall we seal the end of this adventure with a kiss?"
"Bill! We're in a king's presence."
Despite the personal action that followed, it can be recorded that the king was definitely amused!
Suddenly a bump appeared in Philip's sleeve and a woffly nose could be seen - Snoozy was awake. With Kiki looking on and saying something unintelligible, all eyes including the king's, turned to look at the stranger. (23:50)
Some of the Diary entries suffer from legibility according to the various circumstances that Det. Cunningham found himself in and, needless to say, have had to be 'interpreted.' Conversations as described have been edited for literary purposes but much care has been taken to ensure they are accurately portrayed.
A day recorded in the Diary during February of 1950 dealt with visits to the children's schools. Bill Cunningham and his wife spent several hours at parents' days, which occurred at both schools on the same date. Philip and Jack welcomed the famous detective to their college while his wife attended a sports day at Dinah and Lucy-Ann Cunningham's school.
Quarry Cottage has changed over the years. It has slightly less garden area and some lengthening to the structure has occurred. Gone is the thatch but the inside area has been preserved quite considerably to retain the character despite it being brought up to date somewhat - hence the addition to its name.
Parts of the Diary have been filled in from stenographer's notes.
Thaddeus Rogers was contacted by a grateful Metropolitan Police Department and made aware of Sergeant Blackwell's address at Whitby. Rodgers has since been visited when the sergeant made a boating trip to the south of England and, after the lighthouse had been placed in another staff's capable hands, Mr. Rodgers accompanied Blackwell to Folkestone and back - describing his voyage as "Thrilling!"
According to the children, Count Paritolen and Madame Tatiosa had visited the tower at least four times in order to gain their support for the fact that the prince would be made king. They had not been successful however because Prince Aloysius, being distraught over the fate of his uncle and possessing privileged information, had got the others to concede that foul play was taking place.
During the uncertainty of Tauri-Hessia's political circumstances, the prince's parents were removed for safety reasons, to a village in Austria.
Prince Aloysius Gramondie Racemolie Torquinel was originally groomed to be king but the inner turmoil disallowed this. It was decided to send him back to his English school until decisions in High Places had been made. It is rumoured that King Torquinel ended up in exile until the affairs of state were sorted out after the disruption that followed.
The Southern area that encompassed Tauri-Hessia's breakaway state was last to fall under the revolution and the royal line disappeared shortly after Communist activity became more dominant. Tauri-Hessia, Borken and several other centres have now reverted to their original titles although the citizens have not forgotten and in moments of nostalgia they often refer to places in the South Western section of Caraș-Severin such as Moldova Nouă, Hunedoara, and Corvinesti Castle amongst others, by the titles they held during the monarchy.
The current administrator of the Little Dewchurch airstrip, one - Daniel Barnett, is an aircraft maintenance executive. He was questioned regarding the use of his property by a private 'plane on April 8th and found to have acted in good faith. He is not connected with any illegal activity.
Prince Torquinel has written from his college to the Cunninghams and an arrangement might come to fruition if sanctioned by the former Tauri-Hessian state office. The Royal, with suitable escort, may visit Overton for a specified period.
The schoolmates of Jack, Dinah, Lucy-Ann, and Philip have been treated over the years to accounts of their adventures. Their travels have been used as projects in geography classes and in the boys' school library there is a collection of photographs that depict scenery and other points of interest closely related to several exotic locations they have visited. There are also pictures that were taken by Jack Cunningham and two have caused much interest - a simple one taken of some empty meat and fruit tins found on an island off the coast of Britain, and a 'family portrait' featuring the four children sitting in a frond-enclosed cave located in the Austrian mountains. Jack's parrot is also there but with its head inside a tin.
Jack Cunningham's camera had been put to good use while the children were living with the circus folk although one picture has been destroyed shortly after it was developed, but not before Det. Cunningham had been allowed a quick look. It portrayed the Prince Torquinel in disguise.
Just under two weeks was spent by the family in Tauri-Hessia according to Det. Cunningham, and a lot was seen and experienced although the released Diary pages cover only the period associated with King Torquinel's abduction and any connected intrigue.
King Torquinel's large castle-like headquarters was located on the road to Oravita. It is long gone and currently there are some high-class houses situated just down from where the main balcony stood. The government offices that once handled affairs of state have changed over the period and are now more-or-less located just down from the cul-de-sac adjoining the king's official residence - across from the sign that points to Padina Matei.
In a Diary entry dated April 19th 1950, some of the Mannering children's activities have been commented upon and there is reference to an episode in which Philip Mannering, once again, displayed his astonishing powers of animal control. He reportedly 'tamed' two circus bears that had escaped from their cage. After intervening and obtaining their trust, the animals were led back to their cage and placed inside once again. A flaming torch had been placed near the broken bars in order to prevent the third bear from gaining its freedom.
Although it did not originate from official sources, the Diary pages have mentioned a sum equaling about £7000 that found its way into Bank of England coffers, most of which was re-directed to an Overton account.
Det. Bill Cunningham has been approached about a future book. He has penned several articles, mainly of police significance, but when his assignments to exotic places were brought up, considerable interest was voiced and much speculation arose as to whether or not he would be producing a volume containing accounts of his activities.