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epilogue
chapter 23
chapter 22
chapter 21
chapter 20
chapter 19
chapter 18
chapter 17
chapter 16
chapter 15
chapter 14
chapter 13
chapter 12
chapter 11
chapter 10
chapter 9
chapter 8
chapter 7
chapter 6
chapter 5
chapter 4
chapter 3
chapter 2
chapter 1

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

Chapter 7.
The Seminar.

"I suggest you all have something light for breakfast," advised Louise. "I have seen the large buffet that has been prepared for the Conference Room."
   Dick seemed to ignore the advice and ordered almost as big a breakfast as usual. But the others made do with tea, toast and marmalade.
   Anne glanced around at the other occupants of the dining room. People fascinated her and she often played a private game of 'I wonder who you are?' On the next table was a family of three. The mother and father were in deep conversation. A baby boy, whose age Anne guessed as two, was sitting in a high chair eating porridge. He caught Anne's gaze and gave her a big grin. His almond shaped, slanting eyes of the lightest blue and his natural smiley face gave him a mischievous, elf like quality. He began to slap at his porridge and then, still looking at Anne for her approval, attempted to spoon the cereal into his ear.
   "Darren, will you stop playing with your food," shouted his mother, in exasperation. Darren gave Anne a cheeky grin, tilted his head right back, formed his lips into an 'O' and proceeded to slowly empty the contents of his mouth over his face. Anne slowly shook her head in disbelief and dragged her eyes from the scene. Darren was obviously showing off in front of her and any encouragement would surely end in tears.
   On the table behind Vivien sat a young couple holding hands and gazing intently into each others eyes. "Newly weds on honeymoon, no doubt about that," Anne decided, instantly.
   A solitary, athletic looking gentleman, dressed in a smart suit, sat at the table in the corner. He sported a neatly trimmed black beard and horn-rimmed glasses. "A salesman visiting London on business," guessed Anne.
   "Time to get ready for the seminar," announced Julian, snapping Anne from her game.

Aunt Fanny had laid a skirt and top out on George's bed, as promised. George's face was a picture of misery as she tried on her clothes.
   "George, if you would only give a smile you might look quite pretty," said Anne, firmly.
   This only made George scowl more. "Yuck!" she said. "I hate wearing dresses."
   The five children gathered in the corridor outside the Conference Room.
   "OK," said Anne, "you two boys fetch a desk from the store room and us girls will arrange the I.D. cards in alphabetical order."
   Soon the table was in place and the I.D. cards, information pamphlets and envelopes, containing the dark Perspex, arranged in neat piles. The children stood in a group waiting for the first arrivals.
   Presently a smartly dressed couple appeared from around the corner, heading in their direction. Anne moved forward to greet them. "Are you looking for the Laser Seminar?" she asked, politely.
   The lady gave Anne a generous smile. "Yes we are."
   "May I have your invitations, please?" said Anne.
   The gentleman reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out two official invitations. Anne matched their names with the appropriate I.D. cards and helped clip them to a suitable place on the couples clothing. She handed them both an envelope and information pamphlet, before ushering them into the Conference Room.
   "Guess who that was," said Anne, to the others, on her return. "Lord and Lady Spencer. How exciting."
   The guests began to arrive in droves, keeping the children very busy.
   Dick had just shown three gentlemen into the hall when he took Julian by the arm and steered him to a quiet place beyond the desk. "Julian, the two men who were with the hammer thrower in the park are now sitting in the Conference Room."
   Julian listened with great interest. The hammer-throwing incident was still puzzling him greatly. Julian did not like unsolved mysteries. "I will keep a close eye on those two men," he decided.
   When all the guests had arrived the children sat themselves in the back row facing the stage and waited for the seminar to begin.
   At precisely eleven o'clock the curtains parted. Mr Pope, the seminar organiser stood behind a lectern, centre stage. At the back sat Uncle Quentin and Professor Dandashi. On the front right of the stage stood a strange metal-framed object. It measured some half a metre square by one and a half metres long with four horizontal glass tubes inside that glowed a strange bluish colour.
   Mr Pope spoke into the microphone. He thanked everyone for attending and named a few Ministers personally. "... and now it gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Kirren."
   Uncle Quentin strode to the lectern and took command. This was not the forgetful scientist with whom the children were familiar. Here he was in full control speaking with authority. "Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you all for attending this morning. Professor Dandashi and myself have been working on this project for a number of years. You can see on the right hand side of the stage a prototype of a five kilowatt CO2 laser..."
   Uncle Quentin went on to describe laser technology, the problems that had been encountered and the solutions that were discovered to solve those problems.
   "Now we have arrived at the exciting moment everyone has been waiting for. The demonstration," continued Uncle Quentin. "I would like to introduce you to Professor Dandashi who will operate the laser."
   There was a loud applause as Professor Dandashi walked to the control panel attached to the laser.
   "At the front of the laser we have some specialised optics that can rotate the laser beam through 360 degrees," explained Uncle Quentin. "The optics have a micrometer adjustment to give a minimum cutting diameter of twenty millimetres up to a maximum of one and a half metres. The diameter of the laser beam exiting from the optics is in the region of two hundred microns. Over on the other side of the stage," said Uncle Quentin, pointing, "is mounted a twenty millimetre thick sheet of 'Osmium Alloy 49'. As some of you in the audience might know, 'Osmium Alloy 49' is the toughest metal known to man. It cannot even be cut with an oxy-acetylene torch. Now, please look inside the envelopes you have been given and take out the piece of dark perspex."
   Everyone did as they were instructed and Uncle Quentin continued. "At the point where the laser cuts the 'Osmium Alloy' there will be a spot that is brighter than sunlight so it is imperative that you look through the perspex to protect your eyes. The laser can operate from a distance of one metre up to fifty metres from the workpiece. Here we have fifteen metres. Anyone walking in between the workpiece and the laser while cutting is in progress will be sliced in two so I advise you all to remain in your seats," grinned Uncle Quentin. "If you are ready, Professor Dandashi, please let the demonstration begin."
   From where she was sitting George could hear a faint crackling noise as the laser vaporised the 'osmium alloy' and the spot at the point of cutting was bright, even when looked at through the perspex. The spot moved around the circumference of a circle some half a metre in diameter. After about five minutes the spot had gone through a complete circle and abruptly extinguished.
   "Thank you Professor Dandashi," said Uncle Quentin, and walked over to the workpiece. He put his hand behind the 'osmium alloy' plate and pushed out a perfectly circular piece which he deftly caught in his other hand. There was spontaneous applause from all around the hall.
   "Thank you very much," said Uncle Quentin. "At the back of the hall you will find adequate refreshments. If any of you would like to inspect the 'osmium alloy 49' or have any questions to ask, Professor Dandashi and myself would be only too happy to oblige."
   A buzz of exciting chatter broke out from all those present in the hall. The seminar had created a great deal of interest.
   Louise had certainly not exaggerated about the buffet. The table was simply loaded with scrumptious goodies. The children filled their plates, sat themselves at an empty table, and tucked in.
   "Well, I did not know that my father was that clever," said George, proudly. "How about you, Vivien?"
   "I did know father was working on a new type of laser," replied Vivien, "but it was very interesting to hear how they overcame all those problems."
   Dick suddenly nudged Julian. "Hey! Look over there," he whispered. "Those are the men I was telling you about."
   Julian looked across at the two men talking to Professor Dandashi by the laser. It was certainly the same two who had been in the park with the hammer thrower. They were now dressed in very smart suits but there could be no mistaking the little weasel like man with a moustache and his big, balding companion.
   "Let's go and see what they are up to," said Julian.
   They explained to the girls where they were going and sidled up, feigning interest in the laser.
   "What sort of power is required to drive this laser?" the little weasel like man was asking. "220 volts, 50 cycles A.C.," replied Professor Dandashi. "Or in layman's terms... plain old household electricity."
   "Is the laser very heavy?" asked the big, fat man.
   "It weighs forty five kilograms," came back the reply. "You two gentlemen could carry it quite easily between you."
"Thank you Professor," broke in the weasel like man again. "You may take it we are very interested in your project. Very interested indeed."
   The two men sauntered off, deep in conversation.
   "Hello Julian. Hello Dick," greeted the Professor, smiling. "Did you enjoy the show?"
   "Yes, very much, Sir," said Julian, honestly. "Just like your previous two guests. Very interesting indeed."
   "Oh yes! They are two very influential gentlemen," said the Professor. "The small one is Peregrine Turner, the Junior Minister for Internal Affairs and the other is David West MP, a big shot in the Foreign Office. The gentleman they are now talking to is The Home Secretary, The Right Honourable Sir Peter Brooke."
   The Professor excused himself to attend to a queue of other interested people.
   "Well," said Julian after they had returned to the table and related to the girls what they had learned, "what are two very important men doing in the park with a hammer thrower?"
"That incident is really bugging you isn't it, Julian?" said George.
   "Yes, it certainly is," replied Julian."There was something about the way the hammer landed that was not quite right," replied Julian.
   "Come on, Vivien," said George, "let's go and offer those three men a drink. Maybe we can find out a little more."
   The two girls went over to where Louise was operating a drinks machine and took a tray of refreshments to their intended victims.
   "Excuse me, gentlemen," said George, "would any of you care for a drink?"
   "Thank you very much," said David West, taking one.
   "My name is George and this is Vivien," continued George, boldly. "We are the daughters of Professors Kirren and Dandashi. Did you enjoy the seminar, Sir?"
   "Yes we did," replied David West eagerly. "In fact we have been looking for something that can cut 'osmium alloy' for some months now so..."
   Sir Peter Brooke stepped forward and put a firm hand on David West's shoulder, stopping him in mid-sentence.
   "What Mr West is trying to say," interrupted Sir Peter, "is that we work closely with various industries both here and abroad and know of several companies who might have a use for a laser such as this. Am I right, David?"
   "Yes, yes. That is exactly right," agreed a flustered David West, turning slightly red.
   "And you two girls, are you staying here in this Hotel?" asked Sir Peter, quickly changing the subject.
   "Yes," replied Vivien. "George is here with her three cousins and I have a room next to my fathers."
   "Interesting," said Sir Peter, thoughtfully. "I am afraid we have a busy schedule for today and must take our leave. Would you kindly give your respective fathers my regards?"

That afternoon when all the guests had dispersed and everything had been cleared away, Mr Pope called a meeting and thanked all those concerned for making it a very successful seminar.
   Julian's mind was elsewhere. He was visualizing the hammer as it flew through the air that day in the park. The clang as it hit the ground and then the high bounce. His mind then went back to the school sports day last summer. Bob Bull, the sixth former, was throwing the hammer. That too had flown high into the air, but it had hit the ground with a thud, not a clang, and had sunk deep into the ground and had not had a high after-bounce. The hammer in the park was hollow and light, not solid and heavy as it should have been. But why?

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