Authors: Janey Louise Jones
MUM AND AUNT
Delphi squeezed hands â there really was no way this could be just a rumour â Fern and Lulu must have revealed everything just as they'd threatened to the day before. Daisy, Poppy, Honey, Lily and Rose kept very quiet but were bursting with excitement inside â they so wanted it to be true.
The whole gang headed down to the
You're a Star!
office. When they got there, they saw an announcement posted on a board in the reception.
Aunt Delphi read it out loud so all the girls could hear what it said. They didn't jump or yell or laugh. They just cried with relief and joy. They were going to be able to perform
Chocolate Sundae Girls
“Hey, I was just about to ring you,” said Johnny McDonald as he strolled into reception. “Why don't you all come into
my office for tea and cakes while I try to make it up to you girls?”
“Yes, please,” they chorused, hardly able to contain their excitement about being back in the contest.
After juice and flapjacks with Johnny, Poppy and Honey were desperate to rush back to The Pebbles and tell everyone the wonderful news. They found Grandpa deep in conversation with Colonel Forster. It was clear that the Colonel knew what was going on and was in the process of explaining everything to Grandpa.
“Joseph, I can only apologize, old fellow,” said the Colonel. “I don't know what came over Lilac. I can only think that we've put too much pressure on her, particularly her father, and she just couldn't bear the thought of disappointing us. The poor girl is very upset and very sorry for what she's done. She just always wants to win. I suppose she
might have inherited her competitive streak from me. But you know how it is, Joseph â you love them whatever they do wrong. And I'm sure she'll learn from this and try to make it up to your girls and their friends.”
Grandpa nodded, feeling very sorry for his old friend, and for Lilac too, and he was just a little bit ashamed of himself for still being so competitive. Friendship was all that mattered â life was not a competition. Grandpa wished his friend well and saw him out.
Poppy and Daisy hugged their grandpa. No one wanted to dwell on what had happened; they just wanted to get on with the show.
After a very thorough rehearsal on the stage at tea time, when the girls were allowed to try out the mikes and sound system as they hadn't had a chance on Wednesday, all the Beach Babes collapsed into an early bed.
The next day, just before lunch, Saffron, Holly Mallow and Lily Ann Peach arrived from Honeypot Hill.
“Look what we've brought!” exclaimed Saffron. She showed Poppy and Honey the five gorgeous dresses she had made. They all had simple bodices and flower petal skirts. For Poppy there was a bright red dress; for Honey, a yellow one. Saffron had made a pink one for Rose, a cream one for Lily and a pure white dress for Daisy.
“Wow! They are so pretty!” said Poppy.
Holly had brought gorgeous jewellery for them to choose from, while Lily Ann had picked fresh flowers to decorate their hair.
“Thank goodness it's all back on!” said Granny Bumble, seeing the trouble their friends had gone to. “My nerves can't take any more!”
By mid-afternoon, all the girls were dressed in their new flower dresses, and their hair looked stunning with their namesake flowers woven in place. They couldn't wait to get on stage and sing their song.
When they arrived at the beach venue with all their friends and family in tow, the Beach Babes were surprised to find Lilac Farrington waiting for them. Her face was very puffy and she looked like she had been crying. Her parents, both looking rather awkward and uncomfortable, gently nudged her towards Poppy and the others.
“I . . . I w-w-want t-t-to s-s-say sorry,”
she sniffed. “I'm really, truly, very sorry. I just wanted to win so much. Lulu and Fern didn't know anything about what I'd done. It was all me. I have learned my lesson and I'll never do anything like that again. Please don't hate me for ever,” she sobbed.
Her mum, Martha, began to cry too.
Even though Poppy and her friends were still upset about what had happened and cross with Lilac for what she had done, they felt really sorry for her. Yes, she had caused them a lot of pain and suffering, but her parents had made her feel she always had to win or come top, so it wasn't really all her
fault. And it was very brave of her to say sorry to them face to face.
“Lilac, it was a horrible and cruel thing to do to us but we don't want you to worry any more. We understand why you did it, even if it was still really wrong. Why don't you come and support us in the contest?” suggested Daisy. “If you cheer us on, everyone will see that you didn't mean us any harm and that there are no hard feelings.”
Lilac nodded through her tears. “I'll sit in the front row and scream as loud as I can for you!”
Everyone smiled and the Beach Babes went backstage to prepare, hugging all their families and friends before they did so.
Poppy felt as though she was entering another world as they went into a makeshift dressing room. They were brought bottles of water, which they desperately needed as
their mouths began to go dry with nerves. All the runners who were helping on set were wishing them good luck, and the friends discussed tricky bits of their act and chatted while the clock ticked round to their appearance time.
Caves 'n' Rocks were on before them and sang brilliantly. They received a rapturous response from the audience and the girls felt sick with stage-fright.
Now it was time to be bold. This was the moment they had been waiting for; the moment they thought had been snatched away from them for ever. They walked out onto the stage with their arms linked together. The crowd stood up and cheered, which was very unexpected but gave the girls a huge boost of confidence. Then they all took their positions. Daisy sat at the drums. Rose walked over to the keyboard. Lily adjusted her guitar strap and Poppy and
Honey grabbed their tambourines and microphones. They were ready.
Just as Daisy began the intro to the song on the drums, Poppy noticed Lilac standing on her chair right at the front, clapping and screaming wildly. She had kept her promise. Everything felt just right as they launched into their performance.
The girls were note-perfect and Poppy and Honey's dance routine was superb. It passed in a blur of concentration, nerves and fun for Poppy, and when they finished, everyone in the audience stood up and clapped and cheered.
“Again! Again! Encore!” called the audience.
Daisy looked over to the judges, who all nodded. So the girls sang it all over again. Finally they left the stage to a rowdy standing ovation.
The moment when the judges revealed
their decision came quickly. Johnny McDonald stood up, reading from a sheet in front of him. He began the torturous in reverse order.
“In third place, we have little Blossom Darling with
Ballet School Rap
. It was sweet, original and we liked it â you've got real potential, so keep at it. In second place is Caves 'n' Rocks. What a great boy band, really promising. Keep going, guys! But in first place, the band that will be going to the finals in the City, by unanimous decision of the judges, is . . . the Beach Babes with their brilliant song,
Chocolate Sundae Girls