Agent Bertie

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Secret AgentYou will only hear this on Storynory because it’s top secret. Natasha exclusively reveals that before Bertie was turned into a frog, he worked as a secret agent. He was sent by his father, the king, on a mission to a far away kingdom called Wales. His task was to stop the wicked stepmother firing a rocket filled with sewage and other smelly stuff at the king’s annual summer garden party. He was aided by the lovely Princess Beatrice, but we will only add that it’s a jolly exciting story and if you want to find out what happened you’ll have to listen to it.

Read by Natasha. Duration 20.53.
Proofread by Claire Deakin.

A few summers ago, when Bertie was still a human prince and lived in the palace, he was just a little bit bored because the only thing his father, the king, would talk about was his annual garden party. The theme that year was to be, “Sweet Smells,” and all the sweetest smelling people in the kingdom were to be invited. Most of them were girls, as it turned out. There were to be sweet smelling flowers with sweet smelling blossom, and the most fragrant honey, and different types of aromatic teas – and the gardeners were busy clearing all the green slime out of the pond and pouring perfume and aftershave into it to make it smell nicer. Colin the Carp wasn’t at all pleased, but Bertie didn’t know him then – and Tim the Tadpole wasn’t even born.

In those days, Bertie had yet to set eyes upon the lovely Princess Beatrice. She and her wicked stepmother still lived in a far away place called Wales. I think I told you about that once before.

Well if truth be told, there was a bit of a stinky whiff wafting around the castle where Beatrice lived with her stepmother. It was suffering from blocked drains, you see, and that summer they were very blocked indeed.

The newspapers reported that the lovely Princess Beatrice was going around with a clothes peg on her nose. At first, when Bertie’s father read about this, he almost laughed his head off.

“I was planning to invite the lovely Princess Beatrice to my garden party,” he said, “but I don’t think I had better risk it, because she probably pongs to high heaven.”

When the wicked queen heard about this insult, she was furious. “So that stupid old king thinks my daughter smells does he? Well before the summer’s out we’ll see who’s the biggest stinker of them all.”

So the wicked queen commanded all the top scientists, wizards, and druids in Wales to concoct the stinkiest, foulest, most pungent pong ever created, and then, to load the pong into a rocket. When this was done, she gave a note to her ambassador to deliver to Bertie’s father.

It read: “Invite or stink!”

When he received this note, Bertie’s farther flew into a frightful rage: He stood up from his throne and railed at the ambassador, “Kindly inform that malign, maledictive, malodorous, queen of yours that we don’t give into blackmail here, or even to ‘stink mail.’ She and her smelly daughter aren’t invited to my party, so there!”

But at night he couldn’t sleep for worrying about the stink bomb landing on his summer garden party, and all his fragrant guests being covered in foul-smelling sewage, or whatever the wicked queen meant to drop on them.

That’s why Prince Bertie, who was hanging around the palace looking just a bit bored, was summoned. The king sent him to Wales on a top secret mission to ‘Stop the Stink.’ Bertie had to choose a disguise, and he decided upon a travelling jester.

Bertie arrived at the wicked queen’s castle, and presented himself as an entertainer, who wondered the highways and byways on his skateboard, telling funny stories and performing clever tricks.

That evening after dinner, he was invited before the royal family. Bertie did a little dance and shook his floppy hat with a bell on the end. Then he made a bow, and waited for a ripple of warm, welcoming applause. The king yawned. Bertie saw this, and his mind went blank – even more so than usual – and he couldn’t remember a single joke, even though he was usually brimming with them.

After about half a minute’s silence, the wicked queen said, “He’s useless. Dump him in the dungeon.”

“But… but…” protested Bertie, “I’m just having a bad day. Usually I’m the funniest jester alive.” But the guards were already sweeping him towards the door.

“Hey, have you heard this one?” Called out Bertie. “What sort of dog doesn’t smell? One without a nose. Ha Ha! Can you say Iced Ink very fast several time over?”

The lovely Princess Beatrice said, “Oh please don’t take him away. He’s rather sweet, even if his jokes aren’t really that funny.”

Meanwhile, the king was muttering to himself, “Iced ink Iced ink, I stink.”

“Ha ha ha, You said you stink!” Called back Bertie.

“Take him away,” said the queen in a very bored voice. “I believe cell number five is free. The last unfunny idiot who was in that one departed yesterday… May his soul rest in peace. Ha!”

The guards took Bertie to the prison in the cellars of the castle, opened up a hatch in the floor, and pushed him in. Down down down, he fell. “Oh no, this place is very dark and there’s a funny smell. I wonder how far I’m going to fall?” Thought Bertie – and then Boing! He landed on an old bed, and the legs immediately collapsed. But at least he wasn’t too hurt.

All he could see was a little shaft of moonlight from a window near the top of the cell. Around midnight, a guard opened the hatch and called out, “dinner.” He dropped down a cold, half eaten burger and a carton of orange drink. “Enjoy your Big Value Meal Deal,” called out the guard. “Sorry I ate half your burger and all of your apple pie.”

“Oh dear,” said Bertie. “I should have told them the joke about the man who went to the doctor and said he felt like a parrot… That one always makes everybody laugh. Now I’m going stay in this dungeon until I rot and die. Oh I wish I had never become a secret agent. It’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.”

Towards morning, when it was just getting light again outside, he felt something tickling his nose.

“Is that a mouse?” He thought, and then he heard a sweet little voice whispering, “Jester, oh Jester, Please wake up.”

“A mouse that talks?” Thought Bertie. But then he realised that the voice was coming from up above. He rubbed his eyes, and saw that it wasn’t a mouse that was tickling his nose, but a silk rope dangling from the hatch door.

“Quick. Climb up,” whispered the voice, which he now recognised as belonging to the lovely Princess Beatrice. Quick as he could, Bertie shinned up the silk rope and out through the hatch. Beatrice quickly untied the other end at the window bars, and they ran out before the guard came back from the changing room.

Beatrice led Bertie out of the castle and onto the dewy grass of the king’s daffodil garden.

Bertie looked gratefully at the lovely Princess Beatrice and said, “Now I know that the you are the bravest and cleverest princess in the entire world, as well as the loveliest.”

“Well don’t tell anyone or I’ll be in super big trouble,” said Beatrice. Bertie promised not to tell a soul. She led him down the path to a secret gate in the wall, but as Bertie was about to go through it, he remembered that he had come to Wales on a mission. He wondered if he could let Beatrice into his secret.

She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and said, “Now jester, you’d better be off before we both get caught.”

“I don’t mean to shock you,” said Bertie, “but I’m not a jester – not really.”

“Really? I’d never have guessed,” said Beatrice sarcastically. “Your jokes were so side-splittingly hilarious.”

Bertie was about to tell her the truth – that in fact he was a secret agent, and that he had come to stop her wicked stepmother firing a rocket full of foul-smelling sewage onto his father’s summer garden party. But at that moment they heard a terrible voice screech out, “There they are! Seize them!” And they were surrounded by snarling dogs. The wicked queen, still in her dressing gown, said, “Well well well, Romeo and Juliet.”

She ordered her guards to grab hold of both Princess Beatrice and Prince Bertie.
“Oh no!” Thought Bertie. “I’ll never get away now.”

Two whole days went past. Bertie sat in darkness at the bottom of the dungeon. He knew that it was the date of his father’s garden party, that he had failed miserably in his mission, that all the sweetest smelling people in his home kingdom would be covered in foul smelling sewage, and that he would finish his days, forgotten by all (even the lovely Beatrice), in that terrible dark prison cell. He felt, well, quite a bit down about that.

But when the time came, the wicked queen could not resist sending for Bertie so that he could witness her rocket take off on its way to way to deliver its terrible stink to its target. The soldiers led Bertie into the garden. His wrists were handcuffed behind his back. Every exit was guarded.

The rocket stood on the launch pad along side the tallest tower of the castle, ready for lift off. The lovely Beatrice was sitting next to the king, on a golden throne that had been set up in the orchard. She was stroking her pet bunny rabbit and sobbing into her handkerchief. The king was reading the gardening column in his newspaper. The wicked queen was wearing a yellow safety helmet and standing on top of a temporary platform. The guards brought the prisoner up to stand beside her.

“My dear jester, or should I call you Prince Bertie?” Snarled the Queen. “How lovely to see you. I thought you might like to laugh along with me at this little joke I’m about to play on your father.”

“Ha Ha,” said Bertie – but he didn’t mean it. At the same time he was wriggling with his hands behind his back to see if he could slip out of the handcuffs.

Soon after the queen began to count down backwards. “10, 9, 8…” Her terrible voice echoed around the walls of the castle. Even the king looked up from his newspaper. Bertie kept on wriggling his hands. He hadn’t eaten for two whole days, and he felt like he was all skin and bones. Surely he was thin enough to escape?

“7, 6, 5, 4… ” Bertie’s eye was on a red button on the queen’s control Panel. It said, “Abort.” If only he could press that button at the right moment, the rocket would stop its mission.

“3, 2, 1… Blast off!” Screeched the queen.

Slowly the rocket started to rise from the launch pad, pushed upwards by a great ball of flames. Everyone in the palace applauded, except for Bertie, whose hands were cuffed, and Beatrice, who was still stroking her bunny rabbit. The queen started to shout, “Stink! Stink! Stink!” Then all the people joined in shouting, “Stink! Stink! Stink!” And Bertie kept on wriggling his hands.

Everyone’s eyes, including those of the queen and all the guards were glued to the sight of the rocket hovering just above the castle, before setting on its way to deliver its terrible smells to Bertie’s kingdom. Suddenly Bertie felt his hand slip out of the cuff. His now free hand shot out and hit the red “Abort” button. It started to flash and beep and the queen shrieked, “Who did that?” She manically pressed the button marked “Start” but it was too late. The rocket stopped in mid air and came crashing down onto the roof of the castle, from where it rolled into the garden below, landing right the middle of the king’s prize daffodils. There was an almighty explosion and the air was filled with sewage flying in all directions. Everyone was covered in it. Bertie started to run. The guards were far too busy holding their noses and saying, “Poo, what a pong!” To notice him jumping into the king’s Rolls Royce and speeding off down the drive.

Bertie drove and drove, taking a secret road through the mountains, until he reached home. He was just in time for last part of his father’s garden party, which had been a sweet-smelling success, untroubled by stink bombs. As he walked through the crowds the guests held their noses.

“Is that Prince Bertie?” They whispered to one another. “He doesn’t half pong.”

“Bertie,” shouted his father when he smelled him. “Go and take a bath, immediately.”

“But, but, I saved you from the stink bomb,” said Bertie.

“Right this minute,” shouted his father. So Agent Bertie had no choice but to go and take a bath. “The problem with being a secret agent,” he thought, as he soaked among the soap bubbles, “Is that your mission is so secret that nobody knows how jolly brave you were.”

But the lovely Princess Beatrice knew how brave he was – and although she and her bunny rabbit were covered in bad smelling stuff, she didn’t mind that much, because at last she had met a prince who had got the better of her wicked stepmother.

And that’s the story of Agent Bertie.

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