All rights reserved: Kei Bailey [www.keibailey.co.uk]
Curse of the Mummy’s Mummy
SCENE THREE: THE DRAWING ROOM OF TWISTLETON TOWERS
FULL SET: A LARGE, DIMLY LIT VICTORIAN DRAWING ROOM WITH HEAVY CURTAINS. THE ROOM IS CLUTTERED WITH AN ECLECTIC MIX OF FURNITURE AND ORNAMENTS AND LITTERED WITH MYSTERIOUS ARTEFACTS, COLLECTED BY LORD TWISTLETON ON HIS TRAVELS. SEVERAL OLD PAINTINGS OF PECULIAR FAMILY MEMBERS HANG ON THE FLOCKED WALLPAPER. A LARGE, IMPOSING SARCOPHGUS STANDS AGAINST THE WALL.
Miss Trinket Trelawny is sat on one of the chairs, Sir Trellis Trelawny is wandering around the room examining the artefacts. Trinket is smart, sleek and sharp, her brother is frivolous, fickle and foppish.
TRINKET: (Irritated) Don’t touch anything!
TRELLIS: I’m just looking.
Trellis picks up a grotesque shrunken head
TRELLIS: (Showing Trinket, with repulsion) What’s this?
TRINKET: It’s an Amazonian Shrunken Head.
TRELLIS: Made of wax?
TRINKET: No Trellis, it’s real! The skull is removed, along with the fat and flesh, and a wooden ball is inserted to keep the shape. Then it’s boiled with herbs and dried using hot rocks.
TRELLIS: (Giggling) Well at least he’s not a big head anymore!
Trellis replaces the head and picks up a mummified animal
TRELLIS: What on earth is this?
TRINKET: It’s a mummified mongoose.
TRELLIS: It’s ugly!
TRINKET: That mongoose is reported to have been the beloved pet of Prince Morosa, ruler of Lugubrious. It was one of Lord Twistleton’s most prized possessions. He brought it back from one of his many expeditions.
TRELLIS: How do you know?
TRINKET: I’ve been doing some research into the family. Now put it down! It’s priceless!
TRELLIS: I’m not surprised! No-one would pay for it!
Trellis replaces the mummified mongoose and picks up a large brown lump
TRELLIS: What about this?
TRINKET: It’s a coprolite.
TRELLIS: A what?
TRINKET: Fossilised animal dung!
Trellis grimaces and quickly replaces it
TRINKET: And judging by the size of it, it’s probably from some kind of prehistoric creature.
TRELLIS: (Turning his nose up) Dinosaur poo! Yuk!
Trellis wipes his hand and sits
TRELLIS: What sort of place have you brought me to?
TRINKET: (Annoyed) You didn’t have to come!
TRELLIS: I told you! I’m bored! I want a little excitement in my life. You’re always gallivanting off to some remote corner of the world and leaving me behind.
TRINKET: I’m an archaeologist. That is the very nature of my profession.
TRELLIS: Exactly. I want to come on one or two thrilling adventures with you. I’m fed up of staying at home with nothing to do but entertain all our friends and family.
TRINKET: Believe me, my world is not all excitement and adventure. Much of my work is incredibly tedious and time-consuming.
TRELLIS: It can’t be anymore tedious than a life of croquet, high tea, backgammon and Blind Man’s Bluff!
Enter Professor Granville Hinge. He is a small, bespectacled, bookish man with a nervous smile and a manic glint in his eye. The Trelawnys stand.
HINGE: Good evening.
TRELLIS & TRINKET: Good evening.
HINGE: (To Trinket) You must be Miss Trelawny. (Shaking hands with her) It’s an absolute pleasure to meet you. I have read many of your excellent essays and papers.
TRINKET: Why thank you. (Turning to Trellis) This is my brother, Sir Trellis.
HINGE: (Shaking hands with Trellis) Pleased to meet you.
HINGE: I am Professor Granville Hinge. I apologise for not greeting you both on your arrival. I’m afraid I was somewhat preoccupied with my studies.
TRINKET: (Pondering) Professor Hinge? I seem to recall your name. Do we have a mutual friend in America?
HINGE: Indeed we do, Miss Trelawny. Doctor Idaho Jones.
TRINKET: Of course!
HINGE: I believe you have been on many expeditions with Doctor Jones.
TRINKET: Yes, I have joined him in the field on a number of occasions. Now Professor, if I remember correctly, you are one of the world’s leading Egyptologists.
HINGE: You flatter me, Miss Trelawny.
TRINKET: It is an area in which I have limited knowledge, but in one that I have a keen interest. I have always wanted to meet you. (To Trellis) Haven’t I, Trellis?
TRELLIS: Don’t asked me – I’ve got a memory like a . . . er . . .er . . .
TRELLIS: That’s the one!
Enter Daphne Twistleton, a high-spirited young woman with a light-heart and vivacious personality
DAPHNE: Hello everybody. I do hope you’ve all settled in and are making yourselves at home. Mother sends her apologies. She’ll be joining us in a moment. In the meantime, what would you say to a little drink?
TRELLIS: Hello little drink!
DAPHNE: (Giggling) Yes, quite! What would everyone like? You must be all be parched. Silly day to give the servants a night off, if you asked me! But Mother was insistent. Mind you, we’ve all been having a shocking time of it lately, so they probably deserve some time away from the place.
TRINKET: How long have they been working for you?
DAPHNE: Ever since we threatened to sack them! Now, what shall we have to drink?
HINGE: May I suggest brandies all round, Miss Twistleton? I think the Trelawnys will need a stiff drink when they hear what we have to say.
TRELLIS: What do you mean by that? Why have we come here, Trinket?
TRINKET: All I know is that I was invited here by Lady Twistleton-Fife on a matter of the utmost urgency. She sounded as if she was in desperate need of my help. Would somebody care to enlighten me as to why I received the invitation?
Enter Lady Amelia Twistleton-Fife, a formidable, steadfast woman who is capable, robust and resilient.
AMELIA: All in good time, my dear. There is still one more guest to arrive.
TRELLIS: Goodness! You startled me!
DAPHNE: Ah! There you are Mother! I was just about to pour a drink for our guests.
AMELIA: Splendid! Make mine a large one!
TRINKET: Good evening Lady Twistleton- Fife. May I say how delightful you look?
AMELIA: You may! Thank you, my dear. And do call me Amelia.
HINGE: (To Amelia) Shouldn’t he be here by now?
AMELIA: He should have been here several hours ago.
HINGE: Perhaps he’s not coming.
AMELIA: (Firmly) He better be. We need him.
An intense silence. Suddenly Daphne screams and points towards a window.
DAPHNE: There’s something hideous staring through the window!
TRELLIS: (Looking towards window) I can’t see anything. It must have been your reflection.
DAPHNE: (Peeved) Charming!
AMELIA: It was Longbottom. He’s come back from the village early.
DAPHNE: I was frightened out of my wits!
AMELIA: Well that doesn’t take long, darling, does it?
Enter Albert Longbottom
ALBERT: Good evening, m’lady. We have returned.
AMELIA: Yes, that hadn’t gone unnoticed, Longbottom.
ALBERT: We were fortunate enough to meet Mr Bladderwicke in the village and have escorted him back here to the Towers.
AMELIA: Excellent news!
ALBERT: He is waiting in the hall. Shall I show him in, m’lady?
AMELIA: Without delay, Longbottom.
AMELIA: Looks like our long overdue guest has arrived.
ALBERT: May I present, Mr Montgomery Bladderwicke!
Enter Monty Bladderwicke
MONTY: I could do with a drink!
AMELIA: That will be all, Longbottom.
ALBERT: Very good, m’lady.
Exit Longbottom. Daphne pours Monty a drink.
AMELIA: Mr Bladderwicke, how wonderful to meet you! I am Lady Amelia Twistleton-Fife. Do call me, Amelia.
Lady Amelia greets Monty warmly.
MONTY: Lovely to finally meet you, Amelia.
AMELIA: (Referring to Daphne) This is my daughter, Miss Daphne Twistleton.
MONTY: Hello Miss.
AMELIA: Let me introduce you to your fellow guests. This is Miss Trinket Trelawny, an archaeologist of some repute. Perhaps you’ve heard of her?
MONTY: I have indeed. Delighted to make your acquaintance, Miss Trelawny. I’m Montgomery Bladderwicke the explorer – perhaps you’ve heard of me?
TRINKET: (Politely) No, sorry. Should I have?
MONTY: (Bluntly) No.
TRINKET: This is my brother, Sir Trellis.
Monty and Trellis shake hands.
TRINKET: He is acting as my assistant at the moment.
AMELIA: (Referring to Professor Hinge) And I believe you know, Professor Hinge.
MONTY: (Pleasantly surprised) Granville Hinge! Last time I saw you, you were this big! (Indicates using his fingers) But you were on a hill and I was far away. (Laughs) How have you been, Professor?
HINGE: (Shaking hands with Monty) Oh I’ve been keeping myself busy, you know! I can’t believe how long it’s been since we last met. It must be several years.
MONTY: At least! I look forward to reminiscing about old times later. But first things first, I need a wash and brush up and a plate of something hot and tasty.
AMELIA: That will have to wait! Now you’ve arrived Mr Bladderwicke, I must explain why I have brought you all here this evening.
MONTY: Can’t you let a man catch his breath?
AMELIA: I’m afraid not. Time is of the essence.
TRINKET: And I for one am eager to hear your explanation.
AMELIA: Please take a seat Mr Bladderwicke.
Daphne hands Monty his drink and he sits down reluctantly.
AMELIA: My story begins over a year ago, in the summer of 1894, when my husband Lord Oscar and his brother Owen returned from their latest expedition to Egypt. As you are all probably aware, they were both obsessive collectors of fascinating historical artefacts and their passion for the bizarre and unusual took them to the furthest reaches of the planet.
DAPHNE: Daddy was always disappearing to some distant country in the pursuit of something delightfully curious.
AMELIA: In recent times, Oscar had become somewhat pre-occupied with ancient Egypt and all the tantalizing treasures it had to offer. On a previous visit to the country, he was told an intriguing tale about a long forgotten Egyptian Pharaoh.
HINGE: A Pharoah known as King Ambidecstrus. It is believed he ruled in the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom.
AMELIA: King Ambidecstrus was a popular ruler, young and charismatic, he was loved by all.
HINGE: But none loved him more than his mother, Queen Nefatutu.
AMELIA: She was devoted to him, and he to her. He was the Queen’s only child and she thanked the gods daily for being blessed with him. For several years, all was well in the kingdom and everyone was happy and content.
HINGE: However, it is written that one summer King Ambidecstrus became besotted with one of his Aunt’s handmaidens and his devotion to his Mother waned.
DAPHNE: (Excitedly) The Queen became fiercely jealous and vowed to put an end to her son’s love affair.
AMELIA: She planted a deadly Egyptian cobra in the handmaiden’s quarters in an attempt to kill the woman.
DAPHNE: However, her plan went wrong when her son went looking for the handmaiden and was bitten by the cobra.
HINGE: The venom was quick acting and he died not long afterwards.
DAPHNE: Queen Nefatutu had killed her own son! As you can imagine, she was devastated and wracked with guilt!
AMELIA: The Queen was in torment. She ordered her High Priests to mummify her alive as penance for what she had done. She was wrapped in cloth and sealed within a sarcophagus identical to that of her son’s. Then the two mummies were sealed within the same tomb, imprisoned together for eternity.
DAPHNE: Well, at least that was the idea. Daddy went and spoiled the whole thing when he discovered the tomb, found the sarcophagus of King Ambidecstrus and brought it back to England.
TRINKET: (To Amelia) He desecrated the tomb and took the sarcophagus?
AMELIA: Yes. I’m afraid so.
MONTY: And what about Queen Nefatutu?
DAPHNE: Daddy never found her. He believed she was buried deeper within the tomb, concealed in a secret chamber.
TRINKET: Where is the sarcophagus he returned with?
AMELIA: In pride of place, in his study.
TRINKET: (Urgently) I must see it.
AMELIA: All in good time, my dear. There is still more to speak of.
MONTY: Any chance I could have a sandwich?
AMELIA: (Ignoring Monty) Oscar and Owen were overjoyed with their new treasure, but they had become so infatuated with the blasted thing they hadn’t considered the consequences.
TRELLIS: Consequences? Whatever do you mean?
DAPHNE: (Excitedly) The curse!
MONTY: Not you as well! Your servants wouldn’t let it rest.
AMELIA: We can’t rest, Mr Bladderwicke! The Sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads!
TRINKET: Amelia, would you mind elaborating? I’m a little confused.
AMELIA: Two days after my husband returned from Egypt, he died tragically in a freak tiddlywink accident.
DAPHNE: Poor Daddy choked to death when one backfired into his mouth.
AMELIA: There was nothing we could do to save him.
DAPHNE: A week later, Uncle Owen was run over by a rag and bone man.
TRINKET: Unfortunate accidents – nothing more.
AMELIA: Over twenty friends and family have perished in mysterious circumstances in the past year.
DAPHNE: All since the arrival of the mummy.
AMELIA: I called upon Professor Hinge’s expertise to investigate this strange phenomenon.
HINGE: It took me several weeks of intense study but I eventually stumbled across a strange legend known as the curse of the mummy’s mummy.
Thunder and lightning.
MONTY: The curse of the mummy’s mummy?
Thunder and lightning.
HINGE: Yes. The curse of the mummy’s mummy.
Thunder and lightning.
TRELLIS: Will you stop saying that?
TRELLIS: The curse of the mummy’s mummy!
Thunder and lightning.
HINGE: Legend has it that as Queen Nefatutu was bound in her cloth, she harnessed the power of the gods and vowed that if ever anyone tried to take her son away from her again, an evil curse would befall them and all those closest to them. They would pay the ultimate price for their actions. They would pay with their life.
TRINKET: Are you telling me you think the curse has struck the Twistleton family?
HINGE: I didn’t at first, but what other explanation could there be?
TRINKET: But you said yourself, it’s a legend, a myth. I have never heard anything so ridiculous.
MONTY: And what has it got to do with us?
HINGE: I have a theory that if Queen Nefatutu is reunited with her son the King, the curse would be lifted.
AMELIA: So I called upon you to help me. I propose that you and Miss Trelawny join the Professor in an expedition to Egypt to find Nefatutu.
TRINKET: And return her son to her side?
AMELIA: Goodness me, no! King Ambidecstrus is worth a fortune. You must bring the Queen to him.
TRINKET: And what makes you think I’d want to undertake such a harebrained mission.
AMELIA: I will pay handsomely for your troubles.
MONTY: I’m in!
AMELIA: I’m delighted to hear it, Mr Bladderwicke, but before you make a commitment do consider the possibility of the curse befalling you.
MONTY: (Confidently) I’m not too worried.
DAPHNE: And what about you, Miss Trelawny?
TRINKET: We don’t need the money.
AMELIA: But just imagine if you were to find the sarcophagus of the legendary Queen Nefatutu. It would be the crowning glory of your already illustrious career.
TRINKET: (After a pause) Luckily for you, I have no plans for the next month or two.
AMELIA: I was hoping you’d say that. Now, there is not a moment to lose! I have fortuitously booked you all passage to Egypt on the SS Insomnia. It sets sail in the morning. You must travel to Liverpool overnight by rail.
TRELLIS: Oh, I say! What fun!