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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 4.
Vivien Dandashi.

Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin were sitting at their usual table, but with them tonight were two extra people. As the children approached the four at the table stood up.
   The man next to Uncle Quentin seemed to go on forever and ever, thought Anne. He was so tall. His dark suit was well tailored and matched his tanned skin. His white teeth simply shone under his neatly trimmed black moustache. A dapper man, mused Anne.
   The girl next to him was simply stunning. Olive skin, dark hair and coal black, shining eyes. She turned out to be six months younger than Julian, but because of her clothes, deportment and make-up she did look more like a young woman than a girl. She wore an elegant, long, flowery dress and teardrop diamond earrings.
   "Children," said Uncle Quentin. "I would like you to meet Professor Dandashi and his daughter, Vivien."
   After all the polite how-do-you-dos, the four led Vivien to their table, bombarding her with questions all the while.
   "Hold on, hold on," pleaded Vivien, laughing. She was enjoying all the fuss. "My parents are Lebanese and I was born in The Lebanon."
   "What is it like there?" asked Anne, her mind full of deserts and date palms.
   "Well! It is very hot," replied Vivien. "I was brought up in a tiny coastal village just north of Beirut. The houses are small, white and built on the side of a hill overlooking The Mediterranean Sea. The beaches are of the finest golden sand and the sea is a deep, wine dark blue."
   "Are there any date palms?" enquired Anne, eagerly.
"Nearby is an oasis surrounded by date palms. On the hills, behind the village, are olive trees, fig trees and orange groves. The shops sell freshly picked, juicy oranges that still have their stalks and leaves attached."
   "Whatever made you leave?" asked Dick, thinking this seemed like paradise.
   "When I was six," explained Vivien, "my mother went paddling in the shallow water. An unusually big wave grabbed her and swept her out to sea. In The Lebanon the religion is Muslim. It is law that the women have their arms and legs covered. My mother was wearing a billowy dress. This soon became water-logged and she was drowned."
   Everyone was silent. How dreadful. What would it be like to have no mother?
   Julian broke the silence. "Where are you living now?"
   "We have a cottage in Tonbridge, Kent. I go to boarding school close by. When father is home I stay with him in the cottage, but when he is away I board at the school. It works out quite well. I have a horse that is stabled in Tonbridge. During the holidays I normally help out there."
   "Do you ever go back to The Lebanon?" asked Anne, still not over the shock of Vivien's mother.
   "Yes, Sometimes in the autumn, when it is cooler. I have no relatives over here. It is nice to see all my family and friends."

After dinner, it was decided to retire to the drawing room and see what games where to be had. The children rummaged through the many cupboards.
   "Eureka!" yelled George. "Here is a hoard of games."
   Sure enough, there was every game imaginable.
   "Does everyone know how to play Connect four?" asked Dick.
   George and Vivien did not, so after a quick explanation a sort of knockout competition was in progress. Dick turned out to be the winner by far. It was a very popular game in his year at school.
   Presently, James the waiter materialised and took their orders for a bedtime drink. The five children slumped back in the comfortable chairs.
   "I know a game called 'Donkey'," said Vivien. "We take it in turns to pick a letter to make a word. The one whose letter finishes the word is the 'Donkey'. Then comes the funny bit," she continued, giggling. "The other four pull out their ears and shout ee-aaw, ee-aaw. Like a donkey."
   She found a pen and paper and started the game. They had tremendous fun, but the 'ee-aaws' got a little bit out of hand. Mr Tyler burst into the room and told them, in no uncertain terms, to keep the noise down.
   "Trust grown-ups to spoil the fun," groaned George, after Mr Tyler had left.
   The children finished their drinks in relative quiet.
   "Tomorrow morning," said Vivien, "my father has arranged for a horse drawn carriage to take me to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. But it won't be much fun on my own. Would you four like to come?" Vivien found it fun to be in the company of these vibrant, new friends.
   "That sounds absolutely wonderful," said Julian. And it was agreed.
   "Well, as it is going to be such a busy day tomorrow," said Dick, stretching his arms and yawning, "I'm for hitting the sack."
   "Your yawning has started me off, Dick," complained Anne, her hand to her mouth, trying to stifle a big yawn.
   They all went off to bed, looking forward to the exciting day to follow.

George was first up, to take Timmy for a morning run in the park. George was a keen sprinter. She practised some short, fast sprints followed by a brisk walk. Timmy clearly enjoyed having George to himself. The early morning air was crisp but the vigorous exercise soon had the pair tingling and warm.
   George took Timmy back to the kennels. "This morning we are off to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen," she explained to Timmy. "Now you are not to go chasing the corgis. Is that clear?"
   "Woof." Was a corgi some kind of rabbit? Timmy wondered.

Later that morning Vivien proudly sat in a horse drawn open carriage parked in the hotel courtyard, waiting for her newly acquired friends to appear.
   The carriage was a highly polished, olive green with large yellow spoked wheels and thin red lines accentuating the ornate carvings. The black Shire horse, with white feet and blaze, snorted and pawed the cobblestone courtyard with a huge metal shoed hoof.
   "Easy, beauty," said the driver, perched high up on his sprung seat. His shiny black top hat and smart greatcoat in keeping with the elegant carriage.
   Anne, Dick and Julian emerged from a doorway in the corner of the courtyard.
   "Oh! What a wonderful carriage," exclaimed Anne. "And look at that absolutely lovely big horse." She rushed over and had to stand on tiptoe to pat the huge beast on the neck. "What is his name, driver?"
   "Robert, miss," replied the driver, "Wandle Robert."
   "Robert, you are just beautiful." Anne cooed in delight. "Your nose is so soft and your coat so shiny." Robert was enjoying the fuss. He put his head down and nudged Anne gently in the chest.
   "Where's George?" enquired Vivien.
   "She's gone to fetch Timmy," said Dick, pulling himself up on the carriage and testing the soft, leather seats.
   "Timmy! Who's Timmy?" asked Vivien, a slight frown creasing her forehead.
   At that moment Timmy came bounding across the courtyard followed by George.
   Vivien stiffened. A Look of fear came into her eyes. "Who does that dog belong to?" She stammered.
   "His name is Timmy," said George, "and he belongs to me."
   "I'm afraid I don't like dogs," said Vivien, gripping the side of the seat so hard her knuckles turned white.
   "Well, if you don't like Timmy I am sure I will not like you," retorted George, brusquely. "Come on Tim, we are obviously not welcome here." And she headed towards the large archway leading to Berkeley Street. Timmy obediently followed close at heel, his tail between his legs.
   "No, No," shouted Vivien jumping down from the carriage and running after George. "It's not that I don't like dogs. I am just frightened of them. When I was little a ferocious Alsatian attacked me. Look. I still have the teeth marks to prove it." She pulled up her sleeve to reveal a nasty scar. "If I sit up with the driver and Timmy stays inside the carriage I am sure I will be OK."
   "That does not give you any right to take it out on Timmy," replied George, sticking to her guns. She continued on her way, head held high.    Julian, hearing everything, brushed past Vivien and grabbed George by the shoulder, spinning her round. "Don't be an idiot, George," he said, firmly, "Can't you see it is not that Vivien does not like Timmy. She is just frightened of him. Don't run off and spoil everyone's day. If Vivien and Timmy stay apart a bit, I am sure they will get on eventually."
   George looked into Julian's eyes and could feel herself relenting. He alone had the knack of calming her down. "OK Julian, but make sure she doesn't put a foot wrong."
   The crisis seemingly over, everyone clambered onto the carriage. Vivien sat next to the driver and Timmy lay quietly on the floor between the seats, sensing Vivien's fear of him. The driver gave a clicking noise with his tongue and Wandle Robert surged forward, easily pulling the carriage through the archway into Berkeley Street. It wasn't until he reached the large open road of Park Lane did the huge shire break into a trot. His hooves clip clopped on the hard tarmac surface, the brass-laden harness jangling in the fresh spring breeze.
   "This is certainly the best way to travel," shouted Dick, above the noise.
   Soon all the children were waving to the passers-bye, some of whom waved and smiled back. Timmy, not wanting to miss out, stood on the side of the carriage enjoying the rush of wind through his fur.
   The little group turned left at Hyde Park Corner and up Constitution Hill.
   "If you look ahead, through the trees, you can see Buckingham Palace," pointed out the driver.
   "Is that a huge crowd of people I can see milling about outside?" asked Anne.
   "Yes. They are here for the same reason as you, miss," replied the driver. "To see the changing of the guard. People from all over the world visit London, and Buckingham Palace is one of the main attractions."
   The magnificent palace soon loomed up in all its glory. The driver expertly steered the carriage through the crowds, around The Queen Victoria Memorial and pulled up right in front of the large double wrought iron gates. On each gate hung the royal coat of arms in heavy cast iron covered in thick, gold leaf.
   The driver leaned down to have a quiet word with the guard on duty and to the children's great surprise and delight the gates duly opened allowing the carriage to enter the palace grounds.
   "How did you manage that?" asked Dick, gaping in awe.
   The driver turned to him, grinning freely. "I was a Grenadier Guard myself in my younger days. Let's just say I have a little influence at The Palace."
   The children viewed the driver with a new kind of respect as he parked the carriage in the far corner of the parade ground and waited for the ceremony to begin. Almost immediately they heard the banging of drums and crashing of cymbals. From underneath the huge arch at the palace centre emerged the drum major leading the military band with trumpets and trombones glittering in the sun.
   Behind them, marching in perfect unison, came The Grenadier Guards all identically dressed in crimson jackets, black trousers and tall fluffy bearskins on their heads. Bringing up the rear were twelve Coldstream Guards astride, perfectly matched, high stepping horses.
   The ceremony was well under way when Julian noticed a movement high up at the front of the palace. "I wonder who that is standing on the balcony?"
   "You are certainly in luck today," said the driver. "That is the Prince and Princess."
   The children began to wave frantically at the two small figures on the balcony. The young Prince could be seen to tug his little sister's sleeve and bring to her notice the commotion in the carriage below. The royal children promptly returned the gesture.
   Anne's cheeks were simply glowing with excitement. "I am so happy. I think I might burst."

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