Authors: Janey Louise Jones
They spent several hours looking in many of the caves â without success.
“Hang on. This looks like it, Joseph!” exclaimed the Colonel suddenly as he recognized the opening to a large cave.
Grandpa followed him in through the entrance to the dark, damp cave. It did indeed look familiar and it was certainly large enough to fit a pirate ship in. As they went further, they thought they could make out the shape of their ship in the shadowy distance.
Soon they could hear voices â laughing and singing. They went in further to explore, their eyesight straining through the gloom. Sure enough, their pirate ship was nestling gently in shallow waters, but dancing all over it were Lilac and the Mermaids! They were singing a rather tuneless ditty about a mermaid lagoon.
“This is rubbish!” said one of the girls. “We'll have to think of something better than this before the sound-check rehearsals on Wednesday night.”
“I know,” said another. “It's going to be soooooooooooooooo embarrassing â the Saturday performance will be on local telly and everything!”
“I think I might have an idea!” said Lilac. “I've got something that might help us back at my house. Let's go!”
As they were packing up their things, Grandpa and Colonel Forster walked up to the ship.
“Lilac, dear,” said Colonel Forster. “what are you doing here?”
“Oh, hi, Grumps!” said Lilac sweetly. “We're just rehearsing for the contest. In fact we're just heading back to my house. See you later.”
“Jolly good,” replied Colonel Forster.
“I know you're going to do me proud, sweetheart.”
When the girls had gone, Grandpa and the Colonel explored the ship just as if they were little boys, and argued good-naturedly over who had found it.
As Grandpa made his way back to the beach house, he found himself thinking about the talent contest.
Lilac and the Mermaids aren't nearly as good as Poppy seems to think they are
, he mused.
I don't think they're such a threat after all. I must tell the girls.
Grandpa arrived back at The Pebbles to find that everyone was either playing on the beach or swimming, so he decided to settle down with his paper and enjoy some rare peace and quiet. It was a real treat being on holiday with his family, but they were awfully noisy!
The next day, after breakfast, Grandpa and Dad were left in charge of everything while Mum and Granny Bumble went food shopping. They were having a huge barbecue party that night for some friends and family from Honeypot Hill, as well as Daisy's parents, Delphi and Daniel, and her brother, Edward, and Lily and Rose's families.
Dad was in a bit of a pickle, trying to keep the twins amused, doing the dishes and playing a board game with Honey and Poppy all at once.
“What can I do?” asked Grandpa.
“Maybe you could entertain the twins while I get Poppy and Honey organized for their rehearsal at Daisy's,” suggested Dad.
“Right-o â I'll get the building blocks,” replied Grandpa.
“OK, girls,” said Dad, sounding much more in control of things now that Grandpa
was handling the twins. “Get ready for your rehearsal â you're due at Daisy's in fifteen minutes. Now, I must get on with the dishes.”
Poppy and Honey ran to brush their teeth and change their T-shirts. With a brush of their hair and a smear of lip gloss, they were ready to go.
“Bye,” they chorused as they skipped through the kitchen towards the back door.
“Have fun, girls,” called Dad. “and don't forget, you need to be back here in good time for supper.”
“Oh, just one thing before you go,” said Grandpa, suddenly remembering what he'd seen in the cave the previous day. “Don't say I told you so, but you haven't got much to worry about with regard to Lilac and the Mermaids. I happened to hear them rehearsing yesterday and, well, they're not a patch on the Beach Babes!”
Poppy grinned. “I hope you're right, Grandpa. I can't wait to hear everyone else's songs at the sound check tomorrow!” she said.
Honey and Poppy walked quickly over to Daisy's, feeling full of excitement. The rest of the Babes were already tuning up their instruments.
“Hi, girls!” said Daisy cheerfully when she saw Poppy and Honey. “We're going to do a quick run-through of the full routine.”
“Oh, by the way, Lily,” said Rose. “did you find your song sheet at the Lighthouse CafÃ©?”
Lily shook her head. “Nope, 'fraid not. Fleur and I looked everywhere but we couldn't see it. I could have sworn I left it there. Oh well, never mind. I know the whole song by heart anyway, and we all know the dance routine too.”
“You can share mine if you need to,” said Rose.
“Are we all ready?” asked Daisy, keen to get on.
“Oh yeah!” chorused the girls.
After a really thorough rehearsal, the girls collapsed in a heap, exhausted by the concentration. They had to admit, it was as good as it could be. The song sounded great and the dance routine was ideal â even if they did say so themselves!
“See you tonight at our party!” called Poppy to Daisy and her friends as she and Honey left the summer house. “Remember to bring your instruments, and we'll see
what all our friends think about
Chocolate Sundae Girls
“OK, Princess!” called Daisy. “See you later!”
The girls strolled home, chatting breathlessly about everything that was going on â and about what to wear that night for the party. It was all just so exciting!
Later, as Poppy and Honey got ready in their attic room, they heard familiar voices downstairs. So many friends had arrived from Honeypot Hill for the party: Saffron and David Sage, Sally Meadowsweet, Lily Ann Peach, Holly Mallow, Abigail, and Sweetpea and Mimosa and their families too. And they had all promised to come back to Camomile Cove on Saturday for the show.
Saffron came armed with a bag full of nearly finished dresses, as well as scarves, hair clips and sequinned mules for the girls
to accessorize their stage outfits with. Holly had brought along some brand-new jewellery designs for them to choose from too. After a delicious spread of food â barbecued and roasted meats, herb-crusted fish, buttered and minted new potatoes, tender plum tomato salads and fruit puddings with honey-sweetened cream â they all settled down in the big sitting room to listen to the Beach Babes. This would be the final rehearsal before the sound checks the following evening. The girls set up the
huge balcony at the front of the house as a stage, tested their instruments, then began to sing
Chocolate Sundae Girls
The whole room fell silent. Everyone was very impressed by the wonderfully high standard of the girls' work. When they took their bows, there was a huge outcry of stamping, clapping, cheering and shouts of “Bravo!” The girls smiled proudly and hugged one another as the whole audience declared them unbeatable in the contest.
AFTER A QUIET
day on Wednesday, with walks on the beach, antique shopping and street cafÃ© coffee stops, the Beach Babes â along with their families, who were coming to watch the performance and lend moral support â headed down to the beach in good time for the sound-check rehearsals.
The families took their seats while the girls had a team chat behind the scenes. A big stage had been set up with lots of sound technology, fancy microphones and amps.
Poppy really hoped that everything was working properly. Then she reminded herself that the whole point of tonight was to see what problems there might be and to fix them in time for the big show on Saturday. Daisy would have to get used to the drum kit provided, and they would see how much space they had to move around in too, as they might need to adapt their dance routine slightly.
The judges were seated behind a big desk. Johnny McDonald was flanked by sweet-faced Julianna, a former pop star herself; on the other side was Bronwyn, a record producer, and next to her was GT, a successful band manager. The production crew and presenters wandered around taking instructions from producers and directors as well as engineers. Suddenly it hit Poppy what a big occasion this was. It was all so professional. Maybe their dream of being as
successful as their favourite girl band, Rubies and Pearls, would come true after all.
All the performers were given a sound-check order list and the Beach Babes saw that they were due to go on stage second to last, just before Lilac and the Mermaids. But as all the performers milled about backstage, Poppy noticed that Lilac's dad was in a huddle with the judges. It soon became clear that he was asking if his daughter's band could go on before the Beach Babes. Lilac was apparently too nervous to go last. When the judges asked the Beach Babes if they minded going last instead, they had a quick chat and decided that in fact it would be an
advantage as everyone would go away remembering their act best, even though it was only the sound check and not the real contest.