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chapter 23
chapter 22
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chapter 18
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chapter 2
chapter 1

The Famous Five: The Final Adventure.
A Tribute to Enid Blyton.

Chapter 22.
The Queen Plans Some Surprises.

The furore of the media gradually subsided and Julian, Dick, Anne and George returned to their respective schools.
   One day, a full month after the Easter break, Anne was engrossed in a small classroom discussion group. She did not notice the Head Girl come in and have a quiet word with the teacher.
   "Anne," called out the teacher. "Please go immediately to see the Headmistress."
   Anne experienced a horrid sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. Being called to see the Headmistress normally meant trouble. Had she done anything wrong? Was there trouble at home?
   To her surprise, she met George at the foot of the stairs leading to the Head's office.
   "George, I have just been told to go and see the Headmistress."
   George's eyes widened. "So have I. Whatever can it be?"
   Both girls were glad of the others company as they knocked nervously on the Head's imposing, solid, wooden door.
   "Come in."
   The Headmistress was seated behind her desk. Occupying one of the three chairs opposite was an elegant lady, smartly dressed in a pencil slim, tweed suit. Both women rose to meet the children.
   The Headmistress smiled warmly. "May I introduce you to Mrs. Williams, The Queen's Secretary. She is here on a special mission. If you would both take a seat, Mrs. Williams will explain."
   When everyone was settled, Mrs. Williams began. "I have been sent by The Queen to ask if you would accept the honour of an O.B.E. This stands for the 'Order of the British Empire'."
   She paused and studied the two stunned faces in front of her. "If it helps you to make up your minds, I have already seen Julian and Dick at their school this morning and they were only too pleased to accept."
   The two girls looked at each other in amazement.
   Anne turned back to The Queen's Secretary. "This has come as a really great shock. All I can think of saying is, thank you very much."
   Mrs. Williams laughed. "In a way, it is the country that is saying 'thank you' to you. The Queen will be very pleased to hear of your decision. 'The Famous Five' are paramount in Her Majesty's thoughts."
   Mrs. Williams picked up a diary that was lying on the desk. "Let me give you a few details. The ceremony will take place on June the twentieth and the day will be declared a 'National holiday'. A car will be sent to collect you in the afternoon of the nineteenth and take you to The Mayfair Hotel, where you will spend the night."
   She looked up from her diary. "I think it is fair to warn you that the next day's drive from The Mayfair Hotel to The Palace will be more like a colourful procession, and the streets will most likely be lined with cheering crowds."
   George began to look concerned. "What about Timmy? Will he be allowed to come?"
    "Of course!" returned Mrs. Williams, smiling. "The Queen is aware that Timmy is very much a member of the five. In fact a unique medal will be made for him. The D.B.E. 'Dog of the British Empire'. Only one medal will be struck and the dye will then be destroyed. This will make Timmy very special indeed."
   The two girls began to get very excited at the prospect. "What will we be required to wear?" asked Anne.
   The Queen's Secretary pulled out two pamphlets from her attaché case and handed one each to George and Anne. "This is a standard leaflet describing how to conduct oneself while having an audience with The Queen, but only use this information as a rough guide. Her Majesty has specifically stated that she would like you to dress and act as normal as possible. We will do everything in our power to make the twentieth of June a very memorable day for 'The Famous Five'."
   The news spread through the school like wildfire. Every girl and teacher came up to Anne and George and congratulated them in person. Timmy was given special food and privileges and suddenly had far more visitors than normal.
   The six weeks leading up to the big day seemed to drag on, but the time for the departure eventually arrived. The whole school assembled outside to see them off.
   George, Anne and Timmy stood on the school steps waiting for the car that would take them to London. Standing with them was the Headmistress, her hands clasped in front of her, taking the proceedings rather too serious. A large cheer erupted as not one, but three cars pulled up outside the main gates. A large, black shining Rolls Royce sandwiched between two police escorts.
   The Headmistress turned to the two girls beside her. "You have brought great honour to yourselves and the school. Take with you all our support and best wishes."
   The two girls and Timmy pushed their way through the crowd of pupils. "Good luck, Anne! Good luck, George!" Shouted everyone, slapping them on their backs.
   Julian and Dick leapt out of the big Rolls, hugged the two girls and fussed Timmy. The four children turned and waved at the cheering crowd. Timmy joined in by giving a few short barks.
   The chauffeur, waiting patiently behind them, coughed politely. "Excuse me, sir, but we are working to rather a tight schedule."
   They all gave one final wave and jumped into the luxurious limousine and the cavalcade drove smoothly off.
Ann beamed at her brothers. "Wow! Fancy having a police escort. This is certainly V.I.P. treatment."
   "You haven't seen anything, yet," said Dick. "There are police on point duty at every junction to hold back the traffic. The lead car turns on its siren, flashes its blue lights and we drive straight through."
   "I understand we will be staying at The Mayfair Hotel tonight, Ju.," said George.
Julian nodded. "Yes, I spoke to the chauffeur. He has instructions to get us there by four o'clock. Oh! By the way, did your luggage get picked up OK?"
   "Yes," replied Anne. " We did our packing on Monday and someone collected it yesterday morning."
   Dick was still fascinated by all the gadgets inside the Rolls Royce. "Here take a look at this."
He pulled on a handle in between the seats in front of him. A door swung open revealing a refrigerator filled with bottles and bottles of ginger beer.
   George laughed. "I have a strange feeling that someone has been doing a little research on our likes and dislikes."
   Another concealed cupboard contained four glasses and they all pored themselves a drink.
Julian held his aloft. "I would like to propose a toast. To 'The Famous Five' and may they have many more adventures."
   They all clinked glasses. "To 'The Famous Five'."
   The motorcade sped, unhindered, through the countryside, villages and towns taking The Five, once again, into the heart of London.
   "There seems to be a lot of activity in Hyde Park," observed Anne.
   A large fairground dominated the middle of the park, surrounded by many marquees of various shapes and sizes. Along the edge, parallel to the road, workmen were putting the finishing touches to a stretch of a many-tiered wooden terrace.
   Julian shook his head in wonderment. "I do believe tomorrow is going to be much bigger an occasion than any of us can imagine."
   The splendid Rolls Royce silently drew up outside The Mayfair Hotel. The chauffeur smartly opened the door for his passengers to alight, and what a sight met their eyes when they did. The whole staff of The Mayfair Hotel was lined up on each side of the main entrance to greet them.
   The five climbed the steps to loud applause. Anne spotted Louise. They waved at each other frantically. Timmy ran up to Henry. They were obviously pleased to see each other again.
   At the top of the steps Mr. Tyler, the hotel manager, was there to greet them, still full of his own importance. "Welcome back to The Mayfair Hotel," he said, shaking each by the hand. He even acknowledged Timmy with a nod. "This time you arrive as celebrities and shall have the best suite in the Hotel."
   He led them into the foyer and over to the lift. "I have here four special keys that allow you to take the lift to the Penthouse Suite, on the twentieth floor." He inserted a key into a slot and twisted it to the right. The elevator began its swift ascent. "Without this key the lift will only go the nineteenth floor."
   The elevator finally came to a gentle halt and the doors automatically slid open. The five found themselves in a large lobby, containing a solitary door guarded by a security officer.
   "Good afternoon, Fletcher," said Mr. Tyler. "May I introduce you to our special guests, who will be occupying the Penthouse Suite for the next few days."
   The introductions over, Mr. Tyler turned to Julian. "There will always be a security officer on this door and he will only allow 'bona fide' personnel past this point." He handed Julian the four keys. "I will be taking my leave of you now. I am sure you will find everything to your liking. If you require room service, just pick up a phone and dial zero one."
   The four children were completely knocked out by the size and splendour of the Penthouse Suite. The guarded front door opened out on to a huge dining room. Two glittering crystal chandeliers hung down from the ceiling above a long, solid mahogany table, exquisitely laid for four persons. The walls were liberally scattered with original oil paintings and sumptuous carpet covered the floor like newly fallen snow.
   Anne skipped across to a door on the far side and gasped at seeing an even more magnificent sitting room beyond.
   Suddenly something caught her attention. "I don't believe this!" she exclaimed. "It looks like we have a personalised bedroom each."
   It did seem to be the case. Leading off of the sitting room were four doors each with a separate name plaque.
   "There is even one that says 'George and Timmy'," laughed Dick.
   They all made a dive for their own room.
   "A four poster bed! A four poster bed!" squealed Anne, in delight. "I can't believe I have a four poster bed."
    Anne made a dive for the bed in question and rolled amongst the soft, clean covers. She suddenly sat upright and gazed around her very own bedroom in wonder. The pastel peach wallpaper perfectly matched the covers and drapes of the bed on which she now sat. To her right, a slightly ajar door allowed her a peek into the luxurious bathroom beyond. And was Anne seeing things? Or did the dressing table across the room really contain a line of expensive perfumes and numerous jewellery boxes. She blinked, rubbed her eyes and looked again. Nothing had changed.
   Anne leapt off of the bed and slowly and silently opened the lid of the smallest box. A pair of the most delightful diamond earrings Anne had ever seen nestled within. Another box contained a delicate gold bracelet. In another was a necklace to match. Anne stopped. Her hands were shaking. Things were getting a little too much to take in.
   She turned her attention to the large wardrobe, pulled open the door and nearly fainted with shock. It was true, her clothes had been kindly unpacked, pressed and hung up. But alongside these were an assortment of stunning dresses, outfits and gowns, too numerous to mention. Down below, special racks contained rows of elegant and fashionable footwear. "Are you OK, Anne?" It was Dick, standing in the doorway.
   "Er yes…I…I mean no…er…I'm not sure," stuttered Anne.
   Dick laughed. "Don't worry Anne. We've all found masses of gifts in our rooms. Julian is on the 'phone now talking to the manager."
   Dick led Anne to join the others in the sitting room.
   Julian was just replacing the receiver. "It seems that this apartment is being paid for by The Queen. All the décor and furnishings have been specified by Her personally. In fact, Her Majesty was here only yesterday, to make sure everything was in order. And here comes the best bit," said Julian, breaking into a broad smile. "All the clothes and any other presents we find, are ours for keeps!"
    Anne jumped up and down, clapping her hands in excitement. "Oh! How wonderful! I am going to try on all of my new dresses and shoes." And she rushed off back into her room.
   For the next hour the four children tried on clothes, opened all the presents and thoroughly explored the apartment, before they each collapsed into a chair in the sitting room. Dick was clutching a hand held controller that operated all the gadgets in the apartment, from turning on the television, to pulling the automatic curtains and dimming the lights. Suddenly the doorbell chimed.
   "Oh no!" groaned George. "I've just this second sat down."
   "Don't worry," piped up Dick. "Captain Marvel to your rescue."
He pressed a button on the controller that turned on the television and another that operated the close circuit camera in the lobby. Three figures materialised on the screen.
   "It's Louise and Henry," said Anne. "But who is the third person?" At that moment the other figure turned towards the monitor, revealing a smiley face and laughing eyes.
   "Kelly!" everyone shouted, leaping up and causing Timmy to bark madly. They all went to greet their first guests with enthusiasm, Timmy making an extra fuss of Henry and Kelly.
   "I have come to arrange for Timmy to have a final brush for tomorrow morning, before the big event." Said Kelly, after the initial pandemonium had died down.
   "And we are here to make sure you have everything you require." Added Louise.
   Julian looked at his brother, sister and cousin and then back to their three guests. "What we require," he said, his eyes twinkling. "Is for you all to stay for dinner. We can call room service and get them to send up a banquet."
    Louise did all the ordering, for she knew the speciality dishes of the house. And what a banquet they all had. Everyone agreed it was one of the best evenings of their lives.

The next day began early with Louise bringing up breakfast and Henry taking Timmy for a run. Soon the whole apartment seemed to be full of servants, butlers and maids, all busily going about their work. Bouquets and good luck charms arrived by the dozen. Kelly appeared to make sure Timmy was at his best.
   By eleven o'clock everything was ready and the five stood nervously in front of the door leading to the courtyard for the signal to start the ceremony.

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