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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 16.
The South Eastern Lion.

George gave one last look around the strange, circular, metallic room. "Time to get back to the others," she thought.
Retracing her steps down the tunnel was easy enough. Up the ladder to the loft, quietly closing the trap door, out of the window and down the drainpipe.
   The others were standing outside the café in a group to welcome her, glad to see her back safe and sound. Timmy eagerly got in on the act, jumping up and licking her hand.
   "I could do with a cup of hot chocolate," said George, a big grin covering her face, relieved it was all over.
   Julian ordered hot chocolate all round. They sat at a large table waiting with abated breath for George's tale. George spoke slowly at first as she tried to recall every detail. Her small audience gasped when she told of how the three men entered the boathouse from behind the sacking. George struggled to remember, word for word, the men's discussion. Her story gathered momentum as she told of her journey down the tunnel.
   "Ugh rats!" squealed Anne. "I wouldn't go down a tunnel where there were rats."
   George smiled weakly. "Yes, it was a bit of a shock at first," she admitted, "but I think they were more frightened of me, than I of them".
   She continued her story, mentioning the wheelbarrows and finally the queer, round, metallic room. George reached for her hot chocolate and, cupping it in two hands, found comfort from the warm liquid as it trickled slowly down her throat.
   "This is indeed a strange story," said Julian. "Has anyone any suggestions to make?"
"I would say that this fellow, Johnson, is the hammer thrower," offered Dick.
   "The tunnels you were in were obviously the ones Old Captain Ben spoke of." threw in Anne.
   "And it is also obvious that these men are somehow behind the disappearance of the laser," said Julian.
   "But what alarms are going to sound? Fill the sacks with what? Clear what shelves? And what is the mystery of 'the strange, metallic room'?" asked a bewildered George. "So many questions, but not enough answers."
   "I vote we go the Police," said Anne, positively. She was sure that this was too big even for 'The Famous Five'.
   "But what do we tell them, Anne?" asked Julian. "That The Home Secretary, who happens to be the person in overall charge of the Police, is acting strangely?"
   Everyone was silent, taking in Julian's words.
   "No. This is what we shall do," continued Julian, firmly, determination entering his eyes. "Tomorrow we will find this 'South Eastern Lion of Trafalgar Square' and on Friday night lie in wait, and follow these men to find out in what highly illegal activity they are involved."
   He looked around at the other three to gauge their reactions. Anne still seemed doubtful. "All right, Anne," he added. "As soon as we find any positive proof that these men are acting illegally, we shall go to the Police."
   "OK," agreed Anne. "Can we go back to the Hotel now? All this excitement has warn me out."

The next morning the five got up bright and early and caught a bus to Trafalgar Square.
   "Who is that person standing high up on that column?" asked Anne.
   "That is a statue of Lord Nelson," answered Dick. "This square is named after his victorious battle at a place called Trafalgar."
   The square was lined on all sides by majestic buildings, dominated by the national gallery to the North.
   "Look!" shouted Anne, with excitement, pointing to a large statue sitting on an even larger plinth.
   Dick followed her gaze. "A lion!" he exclaimed. "Could this be the famous lion from the South East?"
   "Don't get too excited," put in Julian. "There is another one over there, and another, and another."
   It was true. There were four large statues of lions, one at each corner of the square, all facing away from Nelsons Column.
   "So which one is the South Eastern Lion?" asked a baffled George.
   "Shall we go and look at each one in turn," suggested Julian. "There might be some kind of clue."
   So that is how it came to be, one spring morning, that four children and a dog were giving each of the lions in Trafalgar Square a close inspection. But they were all identical.
   "Maybe," said Anne, "it is not where he came from, but in which direction he is facing that is important".
   The other three looked at Anne with their mouths open.
   "Maybe one is facing south east," she added.
   "Brilliant!" said Julian. He fished out a map from his pocket and sat down on a nearby bench. "Here is Trafalgar Square," he said, prodding the map with his finger. "This arrow here tells us the direction of north. In front of us is The National Gallery, that is north. Behind us, beyond those buildings, is The River Thames to the south. The Strand, to our right, is east. So the south eastern lion..." He looked up from the map "...is that one over there."
   Everyone leapt up and down with glee.
   "Well done Anne. Well done Julian," said George, slapping them both on the back and racing over to the lion in question.
   He was a fine creature: cast in bronze, crouching in a typical feline position and with his large paws protruding over the front of the plinth.
   Timmy was not impressed. He stood facing the huge cat and growled.
   "Don't be silly," scolded George. "He won't hurt anyone."
   "Where do you think would be the best place for us to lie in wait?" asked Dick, as an open for discussion question.
   "We could sit on the steps by the next lion," suggested Anne.
   "Or maybe in the centre by the column," put forward George.
   "I believe a combination of the two would be better," said Julian. "Anne, George and Timmy could stand by the lion over there. Dick and I by the column. That way we could see both sides of the statue and will be certain of spotting the men at their 'rendezvous'."
   And that was agreed by all.
   The four children were very pleased with their detective work and felt quite jubilant as they took a slow walk through the square.
   "There are so many pigeons here," remarked Anne, "and there is a man over there selling food to give them."
   She went across and bought a packet of dried peas. Anne was soon surrounded by pigeons gobbling up the peas she had scattered on the ground. George pulled out her camera and took some photos. As a finalé, Anne divided the last of the peas between each hand and held out her arms like a scarecrow. The pigeons landed on her head and arms jostling for a prime position.
   "These pictures will go great in my album," said George, snapping away merrily.
   "As a kind of celebration, I think we deserve a wander around 'The National Gallery'," said Dick, wanting to make the most out of his first trip to the capital city.
   "That's what I call a splendid idea," said Julian, "kind of mixing pleasure with business."
   The children spent a very enjoyable afternoon viewing the many famous paintings by even more famous artists. Turner's 'The Fighting Tamarair', with it's brilliant orange sunset, the fine detail of Constable's English country scenes, including the well known 'Haywain'.
   Picasso's Cubism?
   "Well, I can't make head nor tail of that." said Anne.
   But all four children agreed that his large mural of the Spanish civil war captured the pain and horror of the moment.
   Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' were on show, plus some self-portraits.
   "Including both ears," noted Dick.
   'The Michelangelo Cartoon'.
   "What a strange name for such a large and skilful drawing and not a Tom or Jerry in sight."
   "Every house in Holland seems to have black and white chequered floors," remarked Anne, on viewing the Dutch masters.
   The children left The National Gallery full of admiration for artists past and present. Timmy? He would have preferred chasing rabbits.
   "Don't forget we have to buy some more torches," said George.
   A tiny shop was found, down a narrow side street, that sold almost everything.
   "These small, flat, plastic ones should do the trick," said Julian. "They will fit inside our pockets without being too bulky."
   Four were purchased, with a set of long lasting alkaline batteries for each.
   On their return to the Hotel, the children sought out Aunt Fanny.
   "Mother, will it be OK if we explore 'The West End' tomorrow night?" asked George.
   "Yes, of course dear, as long as you are sensible. I am sure you will be, but to say we are having a run of bad luck at the moment would be putting it mildly."
   "Have you heard any more news, mother?" George enquired.
   "Yes," said Aunt Fanny, a worried frown crossing her forehead. "Inspector Pollard paid us a visit this afternoon. He has been in touch with Professor Dandashi's family in The Lebanon through Interpol. It seems Professor Dandashi has no sister or any other relation in England, let alone Brighton."
   "I knew it," said Anne, in a harsh whisper, as the children were making their way up to their rooms. "I am sure Vivien has been kidnapped."
   After dinner, the children sat in the lounge and attempted to play a few games. But it was no good. Their minds were either on the missing Vivien, or the forthcoming events of the next night.
   "It's time for bed," said Julian, finally. "Tomorrow is going to be an exciting day. We should get up early in the morning, do something really physical and have a sleep in the afternoon."
   That night Anne lay in bed thinking of ways to spend the following day. In the room opposite, Julian and Dick spent some time discussing all the information they had on the four suspects, but could come up with no more ideas.

The next morning the four children were sitting quietly having breakfast, when:
   "Tennis!" said Anne, out of the blue.
   "Tennis!" repeated Dick, in astonishment.
   "Yes. Tennis!" said Anne, again. "We could play tennis in the park this morning. The hotel will supply the racquets and balls. I spotted some courts in the park the other day. Then after that we could come back to the hotel and have a swim in the indoor pool."
   "My! You have got things organised for us," said Julian, laughing.
   "Well, you did say 'physical exercise'," replied Anne, in her defence.

It was good to be out in the park again, away from the fumes of London's traffic. As Peregrine Turner had predicted, the clouds had dispersed but the wind was still a little gusty.
   There were plenty of courts available. Julian played Dick and Anne played George.
   Timmy soon got bored. He had been banished to the sidelines after persistently chasing the balls. He wandered off in search of adventure and soon found a golden retriever, whose owner was practising golf shots. The two dogs had great fun, chasing each other around and around the park, playing 'Tag Tail Roll Me Over'. The children were just finishing off a game of mixed doubles when Timmy finally returned.
   The swimming complex in the Hotel was a pleasant surprise. Not only was there a swimming pool but a sauna, Jacuzzi and showers, too.
   The sequence of operations went as follows: First the sauna. A small wooden-clad room with upper and lower wooden benches. In the corner was a small metal container full of hot firebricks. Next to the container stood a bucket of water and a ladle.
   "OK Dick, ladle on the water," instructed Julian.
   The room was already hot but with the added steam the rise in temperature was almost unbearable.
   "I can't breathe!" shouted Anne.
   "The lower bench is not so hot," advised George.
   …Into the shower.
   "Oooh! It's so cold," they all screamed.
   …Back into the sauna.
   "This feels even hotter than last time."
   …Into the shower again.
   "Oooh! It's so cold," they all screamed.
   …A dive into the pool.
The swimming pool area was not exceptionally large but elegantly done in the Romanesque style, with beautifully patterned, brightly coloured tiles and large clay urns placed in aesthetically pleasing positions.
   …Into the jacuzzi.
   "Mmmmm... this is so warm and bubbly," said Anne, in a dreamy voice.
   And finally a relax on one of the many loungers that lined the pool.
   The children slept soundly that afternoon and woke refreshed, just before dinner, ready to take on the world.

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