Lucysmom asked for Gilbert and Sullivan for her birthday.


Gilbert’s lyrics are cleverer than anything the Moo could come up with, so she is letting the DS gang perform a lot of this in the original.


Exceptions:‘When all night long . . .’ has been altered slightly. ‘I am the very model . . .’ has been completely redone at Lucysmom’s special request.



One important warning for Meg fanatics: The only dark bit in this is where the Moo’s put some thoughts in that lady’s head that some may find unpalatable. The Moo reminds folks, before they start swinging their otters, that Meggy is very self-critical for all her arrogant veneer. She’ll be harder on herself than we would be on her. Stand warned.



Inspector Thatcher addressed the two bewildered constables who stood facing her desk. It was highly unusual for her to call them in for instructions in the late afternoon, and they were worried.


"Men, I have a matter to discuss with you about something that we all three of us have in common."


Neither Fraser nor Turnbull dared to stir but each man's mind raced with possibilities.


"As you both must be aware, all of us happen to have pretty decent singing voices. Not professional perhaps, with the exception of Constable Fraser's little venture into country music, but pretty decent."


This was quite true and neither man could deny it. But what on earth could she have in mind?


"Let me tell you what I have in mind. Lt. Welsh has asked me if we could put together some acts for an Easter charity show he's organizing. He's having trouble getting his own people to participate. Detectives Huey and Dewey have some comedy act or other in mind. Detective Vecchio has promised a dance number provided he can find a suitable partner. But he hasn’t much else. Men, I think it's a matter of honour for us to take up the slack and perform as many numbers as we can to help him out. It's for charity, after all."


It didn't sound like they had an option to say no, so each man made some kind of respectful, vaguely affirmative sound.


"Sit down, both of you, and let's discuss what we might do."


So directed, Fraser and Turnbull lowered themselves into two of the Inspector's visitors chairs and awaited her next comment.


"I was thinking we should have some kind of unifying theme."


They nodded, and continued waiting.


"Something fun but also dignified. We represent our government after all."


More nodding.


"Suggestions?" she insisted.


"Country music has a universal appeal. It's the music of the people." Turnbull ventured.


"If we want something really fun, sir, I just happen to have finished my own English translation of Der Ring des Nibelungen and it's all in rhyming couplets. We could do some of the more popular numbers.”


"Wagnerian opera, Fraser?"


Fraser sighed. "You're right, sir. Far too frivolous. As you said, we do need at least some dignity." He regretted he wouldn’t have the chance to see the Inspector dressed as a Valkyrie. Horns would suit her, he thought.


The Inspector tapped a pencil against the top of her desk. "I did have one idea . . . "


The constables prepared to enthuse.


"Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. They have lots of different kinds of songs – some bouncy, some love songs, some comic songs we could re-write with new lyrics." She looked at Fraser at this last, her eyes saying just whom she had in mind to write those lyrics.


"Some songs are okay as is," Turnbull said. "We can always fall back on the old standard from Pirates of Penzance. We wouldn't even have to rewrite it." By way of demonstration, he sang:


When a felon's not engaged in his employment

Or maturing his felonious little plans,

His capacity for innocent enjoyment

Is just as great as any honest man's.

Our feelings we with difficulty smother

When constabulary duty's to be done.

Ah, take one consideration with another,

A policeman's lot is not a happy one.


"I must confess I prefer the second verse of that song," Fraser said and sang it for them to consider:


When the enterprising burglar's not a-burgling

When the cutthroat isn't occupied in crime,

He loves to hear the little brook a-gurgling

And listen to the merry village chime.

When the coster's finished jumping on his mother,

He loves to lie a-basking in the sun.

Ah, take one consideration with another,

A policeman's lot is not a happy one.


"Absolutely not!" Thatcher declared. "It's been done over and over at the Academy. I want us to take a fresh approach."


They all three sat thinking.


"H.M.S. Pinafore. I could rewrite 'I Am the Ruler of the Queen's Navy' for you, sir, to be 'I am Inspector of the Queen's Mounties.'


"Been there, done that, worn the lanyard," she sighed. “I’ll leave the two of you to think up some ideas and submit them to me. Oh, and Fraser, I do want you to write a new version of the Major General’s song. People will expect that.”


Fraser actually had his doubts as to how many of their Chicago audience would expect anything in particular one way or the other from Gilbert and Sullivan. “Sir, that also has been done quite often. It might not really be that much of a novelty.”


Thatcher adopted her best boss-voice. “Re-write it, Constable.”






Thatcher watched them go and sat alone, musing. She hadn’t told Fraser, nor would she ever likely tell him, the real reason why she didn’t want him to re-write “The Ruler of the Queen’s Navy” for her.


That song, like others in the G & S repertoire, told the story of someone who advanced to high rank for reasons other than pure merit. The interventions of Henri Cloutier, while he still thought he had a chance with her - had advanced her career. She was young to be an Inspector and even in this day and age few females achieved that rank. Yes, she did think she had deserved those promotions but there always lingered that bit of doubt. She thought of the last couple of lines of the song in question:


Stick close to your desk and never go to sea

And you all may be the Ruler of the Queen’s Nay-vee.


She could rewrite that herself without Fraser’s help.


Just find a mentor who’s a sleaze

And you may be Inspector in the Queen’s Mounties.


She thought some more. Was it really all on Henri’s side? Could she have, perhaps without realizing it, been leading him on? If so, horrible thought, the song might go like this:


Stay far from a horse, but find a cock to tease

And you may be Inspector of the Queen’s Mounties.


No, that was being too hard on herself, she decided. She’d done nothing wrong in letting Henri help her. At least, she hoped not. Anyway it was now over and done.


And what about Fraser?


If she made a move on him, would she be any better than Henri? Damn that tight-assed northerner! Why did he have to be so correct? Not his fault, be honest with yourself, Margaret. It was unfair to expect a subordinate to be the one to initiate more contact. It was wrong for either of them to make a move on the other and so right that they should be together.  Life wasn’t fair.


Well, one thing for sure. No love duet with Fraser. That, she couldn’t handle.





Welsh called a meeting of the Easter Benefit organizing committee the next day at lunchtime. Francesca, Ray, Dewey and the leutenant gathered in the canteen.


“Well, I guess we should be used to the Canadians saving our asses by now. Inspector Thatcher told me they’d fill in any empty spaces we have on the program. Dewey, I was thinking you’d better be the emcee.”


“Sir, you know me and Jack want to try out our comedy routines. Me doing the standup, him on the drums.”


Welsh didn’t have anyone else to emcee. Fraser would have been perfect, he thought, but not even the Mountie was fast enough to introduce himself and then re-appear an instant later in costume. Fraser might be very much like Superman but you could only push the comparison so far.


“Sorry, Dewey, you’re it. Detective Huey can do a drum solo and that can be another act.”


Francesca coughed. “Um, he’s not that good, sir.”


Welsh dismissed the objection. “Like any of the other acts ARE that good? Okay, Vecchio now you. You’ve got a dance partner?”


Ray looked to Francesca for confirmation before speaking up. “Frannie’s going to do it.”


Welsh nodded his approval. “Good man, Miss Vecchio.”


“I do have one request, sir,” said Francesca. “Could me and Ray go first?”


“First? Why?”


“Isn’t it obvious?” Ray asked, “She wants to be finished fast and back in the audience to watch Fraser.” Francesca punched Ray in the arm but didn’t bother to deny it.



The venue of the “Mike’s House Easter Benefit Show” was a community centre that had a modest theatre complete with rudimentary stage, lights and curtain. Welsh sat with Ma Vecchio, saving two places for Ray and Francesca so that they could join them when their dance number was finished.


Detective Dewey made quite a splash as the emcee, sprinkling his welcome to the audience with one-liners. (No, don’t expect to hear them here. The Moo’s not so great at one-liners.)


“And now for our first act, please help me welcome our brother and sister dance team, Francesca and Ray Vecchio.”


Ma stiffened only slightly upon hearing the name of her absent son applied to another man. Welsh felt it and gave her a slight squeeze on the arm.


Welsh’s cousin Malvinia was the designated accompanist for the evening, on the community centre’s old but serviceable piano. But Ray had chosen to choreograph a number to a recording of an old Danny Kaye show tune. It wasn’t well known but it had what Ray felt was a nice feel and a clear slow-quick-quick-slow rhythm that he decided Francesca could easily follow.


Ray and Francesca danced out to the first strains. They were the picture of Fred and Ginger, Ray in top hat and tails, Francesca in a flouncy blue dress that had very little on top and quite an amount of material from the waist down. Every time she turned, the dress flitted tantalizingly upward showing flashes of leg. Ray’s shoes were the flattest he could find and Francesca wore the highest heels on which she could keep her balance. These adjustments lessened the height difference and murmurs of approval greeted their entrance.


The best things (sway sway)

Happen while you’re dancing (quick quick turn)

Things that you would not do at home come naturally on the floor (step step swing)

‘Cause dancing (great big twirl)

Soon becomes romancing (step step dip)

When you hold a girl in your arms that you’ve never held before (sway sway hug)


Then Ray broke away for some solo swishing around.


Even guys with two left feet

Turn out all right if the girl is sweet.


Then the two came together again at the lyrics:


If by chance their cheeks should meet while dancing . . .


They demonstrated this manoeuvre to the aaaah’s of their friends.


. . . proving that the best things

Happen while you dance.


There followed a lyric-less musical interlude during which Ray and Francesca continued to strut their stuff. Ray was clearly the more polished performer and Francesca the follower. Still they looked well together and she followed him with sufficient skill to make the whole thing plausible. They finished with a low bow and deep curtsey.


Once safely off-stage, they didn’t even bother to change. Both dashed for the seats Ma was holding for them, not wanting to miss the next number, which would feature Fraser, Turnbull and the Ice Queen.


Dewey told more jokes and then introduced their “brothers and sister in law”. The joke bombed, few people got it. Undaunted, Dewey announced that the Mounties would perform, for their first number, “The Criminal Cried” from The Mikado. An apprehensive rustling went through the audience. Their fear that the stolid Canadians would sing something boring seemed to be coming true.


“That’s what I’d expect from Canadian cops. What a title!” Welsh whispered to Ray who was just barely sitting down in time.


“Ssssssh,” Ma shushed.


Thatcher, Turnbull and Fraser came out together onstage dressed in Japanese outfits. The Inspector wore a fetching, demure kimono; Fraser and Turnbull had on flowing robes. All three wore old-fashioned Japanese-style lacquered wigs appropriate to their respective genders.


Fraser stood forward first and began to sing:


The criminal cried as he dropped him down

In a state of wild alarm

With a frightful, frantic, fearful frown

I bared my big right arm!


As he sang that last line, Fraser tore the right sleeve from his robe and thrust his naked arm upward, making a fist.


Moans and sighs from the audience drowned out the rest of Fraser’s song. He continued with some comic lyrics. Then Thatcher sang a very clever verse, and then Turnbull did the same. Nobody paid the slightest bit of attention to the rest of the song. Fraser’s exposed, big right arm held everybody rapt.


At last the song was done. Thatcher curtseyed, the men bowed and they went off to a smattering of applause.


Once offstage, Thatcher asked, “Fraser, how do you think that went? Did they like it?”


“Well, the audience still has to warm up to us a little, sir. Give them time.”




“Perhaps the next number will go better, sir.”


The three slunk away to the changing room to get into costume for the next number.


Meanwhile Dewey introduced a rap number delivered by the desk sergeant’s nephew. Once that was done, Dewey announced that Constable Benton Fraser would perform a number from Iolanthe and that those who knew him might see him doing something familiar.


When the curtain opened again, a few of the Americans chuckled and but most looked puzzled. As background at the rear of the stage was a huge picture of the outside of the Canadian Consulate, the façade of the building, the flag and of course the big wooden door centre stage. Those that knew the building whispered explanation to those who did not, filling the few beats while the stage stayed empty.


Stately music began and Fraser, dressed in his usual red serge, marched stiffly onto the stage and took position beside the picture of the door. He stood there on guard, just as he did most days, while the musical introduction continued.


Then he began his song:


When all day long a chap remains

On sentry-go, to chase monotony

He exercises of his brains,

That is, assuming that he's got any.


There was a smattering of laughter. Not everyone in the room knew this was indeed how Fraser spent most of his days but those who did know enjoyed the joke.


 Welsh leaned over Ray and whispered, "They should have got Turnbull. We know Fraser's got brains."


"Shhh. He'll hear you."


Though never nurtured in the lap

Of luxury, yet I admonish you,


"Fraszh was born in a barn," whispered Francesca.


I am an intellectual chap,

And think of things that would astonish you.


I often think it's comical--Fal, lal, la!

How Nature has it in Her plan-Fal, lal, la!

That every boy and every gal

That's born to be a dame or man

Is either a little Democrat

Or else a little Republican.

Fal, lal, la!


When to the House, lawmakers ride,

If they've a brain and cerebellum, too,

They've got to leave that brain outside,

And vote just as their leaders tell 'em to.

But then the prospect of a lot of congressmen

In close proximity,

All thinking for themselves, is what

No man can face with equanimity.


"That's not really true of the American system. It's more a British or Canadian joke," Welsh observed.


"Right. None of our politicians are that spineless,” added Francesca.


Fraser executed some tight little marching steps, saluted the audience and marched off.


Dewey now introduced Huey’s drum solo. The audience endured it with patience and clapped politely.


Then Dewey introduced Thatcher and Turnbull, announcing that they would do “Oh Is There Not One Maiden Breast” followed by “Poor Wand’ ring One” both from The Pirates of Penzance.


At the word “breast” the audience sat up and took notice. Were they finally going to get something interesting from the Canadians?


The curtain opened to the scene of seashore. Off to the right of the stage was a big boulder and steps leading to the top of it were visible. Turnbull was standing alone onstage dressed as a pirate. Those in the audience that knew Turnbull were interested to see him in this guise. The spare Mountie wore tights and a sash quite well, and looked decidedly swashbuckling.


The accompanist began a very sweet, smooth, melodious tune suitable for a love song. Turnbull began his solo:


Oh, is there not one maiden breast

Which does not feel the moral beauty

Of making worldly interest

Subordinate to sense of duty?


“Great,” Welsh whispered, “It takes a Mountie to make breasts boring.”




Turnbull moved up to the front of the stage and looked pleadingly out to the audience. He repeated the hauntingly beautiful love tune, singing:


Oh is there not one maiden here

Whose homely face and bad complexion

Have caused all hope to disappear

Of ever winning man's affection?


Those familiar with the libretto, two or three in the audience, laughed aloud. A few others, paying close attention to the lyrics anyway, chuckled cautiously, embarrassed at finding it funny and not sure if they were supposed to. Most of the audience were puzzled. This was obviously a love song but something, somehow was wrong with it.


Of such a one, if such there be,

I swear by Heaven's arch above you,

If you will cast your eyes on me,

However plain you be, I'll love you.


Audience reaction ranged from the guffaws of those who got it to the stony silence of those who didn’t.


While these mixed reactions were going on, Thatcher came out dressed as a Victorian maiden and ascended, daintily, to the top of the papier-mâché boulder using the ill-concealed stairs. She stood forth and looked out to Turnbull, clasping her hands to her bosom in a comically melodramatic pose. She sang:


Poor wand’ ring one!

Though thou hast surely strayed,

Take heart of grace,

Thy steps retrace,

Poor wand’ ring one!


Her song had a different tune, a little bouncier in a waltz-rhythm, but also clearly a love song.


Poor wand’ ring one!

If such poor love as mine

Can help thee find

True peace of mind

Why, take it, it is thine!


Then Thatcher began a complex, twelve-bar, soprano warble.


Take heart, (the twelve bars were on the word ‘heart’)

Fair days will shine;

Take any heart

Take mine!


As she sang these bits, she descended the stairs and once back on the main stage held her two hands out to Turnbull. They came together in an exaggerated embrace and a staged kiss. Those who were well acquainted with this pair squirmed.


Dewey next introduced his own son’s English teacher, Reginald Throckmorton, who recited ‘The Highwayman’ with flourish but not much else.


“This guy’s so boring, he should be Canadian,” Ray observed, sotto voce.




When Reginald was finished, the accompanist began playing a tune that the audience found familiar.


“That’s Hail, Hail the Gang’s All Here,” said Welsh, glad to hear at least one thing all night he recognized.


Dewey resumed his emcee duties. “We all know that song as Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here. But it is really from The Pirates of Penzance, one of the Gilbert and Sullivan classics we’ve been enjoying tonight.


From offstage came the voices of the Mounties singing the old tune to words only known to a few of the audience.


Come, friends, who plough the sea,

Truce to navigation;

Take another station;

Let's vary piracee

With a little burglaree!


They continued singing it over and over as background to a short historical lecture Dewey was giving about the operettas. The Inspector had insisted on this as a condition of their participation. Dewey had tried to spice up the lesson, penned by Fraser in poly-syllabic splendour, with such one-liners as he could but the audience grew restive nonetheless.


Finally the lecture was over and Dewey introduced a ventriloquist act by Patrolman Proobst and his wooden friend, Victor.


Dewey prepared to wind up the evening. He thanked everybody that it was appropriate to thank and then, just as everyone was getting their coats off the backs of their seats to leave, he announced the last act of the evening, by Constable Fraser. It would be something Dewey was sure they all already knew and loved, (he couldn’t hide the sarcasm in his voice but Thatcher had insisted that the introduction be this way), once again a song from Iolanthe but specially re-written for this occasion.


Appearing now, for the first time in three years wearing his brown uniform, Fraser proceeded thus:


I am the very model of an RCMP constable

I’m thrifty, upright, honest, loyal, courteous and responstable.

I can recite, when need arises, all the Mountie manual

And say how long you’ll sleep after you’ve breathed Quixotimanophyl.


I can tell you how the Hotel California staff goes shod

And give you helpful hints on how to win at the Iditirod

When I find any pretzel vendor’s daily route no mystery

Nor Dawes’ or Dr. Prescott’s place with Paul Revere in history.


When tied up in a railway car I know what use a pin is for.

And compliment a lady using nothing more than semaphore.

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I am the very model of an RCMP constable.



I know the lat- and longitude that mark the spot of Franklin Bay

And if you go to Pluto just how much a pound of nails will weigh.

I know about John Franklin’s boats the Terror and the Arabus

Though I can’t sneak up on a sergeant so he’s not aware of us.


I know a flock of Brohmas won’t abide an Andallusian pair.

And wild cucumber cream heals hands but won’t stop you from losin’ hair.

When I can use a tuning fork to measure solid bank vault walls

And I can jump unharmed after a bad guy over waterfalls.


My post-hypnotic orders make folk pleasant, calm and affable.

Though I admit when talking to a woman I’m just laughable.

In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I am the very model of an RCMP constable.



I know that white in your flag stands for innocence and purity

And quote back all the speeches of Geronimo with surety.

When I can throw with equal skill sun-catchers, eggs and knives and guns

And be so like a lady that I fit in with a group of nuns


When I know what the real name of Armando Languistini is. 

When I sniff doggie piddle so you’d think I was a genius.

Though in the arctic I can bring in any crafty ne’er-do-well

My skills don’t do me any good below the 60’s parallel


But still, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,

I am the very model of an RCMP constable.


After the show, Ray took Ma and Francesca home.


“You did good, Frannie,” he said as he drove. “How’d we look, Mrs. Vecchio?”


“You looked very good together,” Ma answered.


As he drove Ray figured that she was probably right. Francesca’s movements had been smooth and she had followed him deftly. It had felt good to hold her in his arms. Fraser’s words from long ago came back to him about all women being their sisters. Holding Francesca, moving her around like that even with all those people watching, had stirred some feelings in Ray that were not at all brotherly.




As the three Mounties left the theatre together, Inspector Thatcher started humming Poor Wand’ring One softly to herself. She looked at Fraser. Wasn’t he a “wandering one”? Had he not “surely strayed” from his fellows by turning in Gerrard, those four years ago?  For the years of his career before, he had wandered the north. Now he was in Chicago not by choice but effectively stranded as punishment for being an “outlaw”.


She continued humming the tune, thinking of the lyrics without saying them aloud.


Poor wand’ring one

If such love as mine

Can help thee find true peace of mind

Why, take it, it is thine.


Turnbull hailed a cab, then waited while first the Inspector and then Fraser climbed in.


“Aren’t you coming with us, Constable?”


“No thank you sir, I prefer to be alone.”


Fraser gave Turnbull a puzzled look over the Inspector’s head. Turnbull returned the look with a quick movement of his eyes towards Thatcher. Fraser caught on and gave his colleague a smile of gratitude.


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