Chapter 1 - 1947 The Young Adventurers Conference
George Kirren and her cousins Julian, Dick and Anne sat in the car, thoroughly bored with the journey "I still think it's a stupid idea," muttered seventeen year old George. "It'll just be another excuse for the press to try to catch us out in a lie about our adventures, and it's getting really boring."
Julian ignored her, his nose in a book. He had listened to and responded to this grumble for the first few times, but George was just getting annoying now. Dick, who was just as grumpy as George about being stuck in the car, gave a groan. "Will you GIVE IT A REST" he growled. "We're going now, whether you like it or not. "
George subsided briefly, then began to mutter again. "Young Adventures Conference, huh... Like they can tell us anything, we don't need adults telling us how to do things...stupid name too, sounds like a mountain animal,YAC, stupid name for a stupid conference..."
Anne had had enough. "GEORGE ! If you don't shut up I am going to get the driver to stop the car and you can just GET OUT AND WALK. And without Timmy too, there's no reason that he should suffer for you acting like a three year old!"
Everyone looked up at this most Un-Anne-like comment. She glared around at them all. "Yes, I have a limit! And you have just passed it, so SHUT UP!"
Everyone went very quiet in the car, even Timmy moving from having his head out of the window to lie himself down by George's feet. Anne sat in silence herself, fuming. She was going to kill Dinah Mannering when she saw her.
Dinah was herself sitting on a train with Jack, Phillip and Lucy Ann. She was happily planning her surprise for George, and was completely unaware of the stress she was causing Anne. She had sworn the younger girl to secrecy, and pretended to George that the conference was a stupid idea, and that she wouldn't be going. This was one of the reasons that George was so grumpy, since she had been looking forward to a whole weekend with Dinah without school or parental supervision. They had only got together fairly recently, and time at their boarding school was generally supervised or limited.
Lucy Ann looked over at Dinah and sighed. She didn't look likely to be spending much time with Dinah this weekend, from the dreamy look on Dinah's face. Normally she wouldn't mind Dinah's plan to switch so she could share with George. It would at least mean that she could spend some time with Anne instead. But Anne was herself newly enamoured of a childhood friend, Guy Seymour, and all term Lucy Ann had been polite about his picture, and talked about when they might get married so many times, that it was beginning to become very hard not to snap at Anne.
Lucy Ann looked out of the train window moodily, thinking about how annoying it was having everyone trying to pair up all the time at the moment. Even Jack and Phillip had taken to sneaking out to see two girls they had met in the village, coming back in the middle of the night and waking her up when they clumsily climbed in the bathroom window.
In a different carriage, Mike, Jack, Peggy and Nora Arnold were sitting happily chatting together. Prince Paul had had to return to his own country for the holidays, otherwise he would have been there too. Making the most of his absence, Peggy was affectionately teasing Nora about Paul. Nora was studiously ignoring her, while her bright red face showed that the words were hitting home. Having been friends for years, they had suddenly started to become shy around each other, and Peggy was pretty sure that she could see a romance beginning to develop. Nora was doing her best not to be drawn into telling anyone anything. Mike and Jack were good-naturedly joining in with the teasing, until Jack saw that Nora was starting to take them a bit too seriously and told the others to stop. He changed the subject and Nora was able to drop back into her own thoughts for a bit.
Frederick Algernon Trottville, called Fatty by his friends, looked around at the other Five Find Outers. "Now this is our opportunity to find out some good detection and mystery solving techniques" he announced slightly pompously. "And I am sure that we will be able to pass on some of our own skills as well. We must surely have had more adventures than most of the people there..."
Larry, Pip, Daisy and Bets all just nodded. To be honest, thought Larry, he really wasn't interested in detection skills anymore. It was only because the others had wanted to go so strongly, and the only way Pip and Bets would have been allowed to go was if Larry was there too to supervise. Larry thought moodily about all the work he still needed to get done for exams, and tried not to show on his face how little he wanted to be there.
At the Conference
The conference began with an opening speech by Inspector Jenks, then some questions from the press.
"What do you have to say to the accusations that you are using these groups of children as a front for sting operations and police malpractice?" asked one reporter.
"No comment, the conference is about building skills and sharing information, I will not discuss any of the allegations, you can contact the police press office for any further information." said Inspector Jenks.
"How is this conference being funded, surely you are not spending public money in giving some attention seeking teenagers a free holiday?" asked the next reporter.
Inspector Jenks replied in steely tones. "The conference is funded by a budget that is less than 1 % of the money each of these groups have saved the police over the past few years."
"Ah, so you are using public funds?" persisted the journalist.
Sitting in the audience, George rolled her eyes at the same tired old questions. She sat sulkily, waiting for the inevitable 'Surely these children should be prosecuted for repeated breaking and entering, not to mention recurrently setting animals such as Timmy the dog onto members of the public.' She held onto Timmy firmly. One national newspaper, owned by the brother of one of the criminals that they had caught, had started a national campaign recently to have Timmy taken away from her, suggesting he was dangerous and aggressive. She couldn't help worrying that they might succeed.
Finally the press conference was over, and they filed into the conference hall. George looked at her itinerary and groaned at how much there was to get through. The first speaker, a short bespectacled man in a green coat and round green bowler hat, began his talk. His assistants in the demonstrations were a young journalist with reddish hair and a tuft sticking up at the front, and a tall man with a black beard and wearing a naval captain's hat. They seemed to be mainly occupied in making sure that the Professor's inventions did not manage to leave the stage and harm anyone. George wondered vaguely whether the young journalist was a relative of Phillip and Dinah, with that tuft of stubborn hair on the top of his head. Looking at the itinerary again she saw that he was French, so it didn't seem that likely.
With a thrill of recognition, she heard a voice from someone behind whisper in her ear. "Hello there, fancy meeting you here..." Dinah leant over George's shoulder, making the hair on the back if her neck stand on end at how close she was to her "This one is a waste of time, like we ever needed inventions on any of our adventures. Coil of rope and a tin opener, that's all we ever needed. And some rugs where possible... And the one after is just some old authoress. What do you say to coming to check out our room?"
George was quite happy to do this. They made their excuses and left, Lucy Ann and Anne making " So what's new" faces to each other, while Julian looked after them with a vaguely puzzled expression.
Young Adventures Conference 1947 - Schedule of events.
9.00 to 9.15
Welcome to conference, collection of name badges, general registration.
9.15 to 9.45
Press Conference & Opening statements. Speaker: Chief Inspector Jenks.
9.45 to 10.45
The use of Inventions in Investigation, Crime fighting and Treasure discovery. Speaker Professor Calculus, Marlinspike Research Laboratory. Assisting Prof Calculus will be Monsieur Tintin and Captain Haddock.
# Please can all participants make sure that they have signed the Health and Safety Waiver, and wear the safety spectacles provided at all times during this talk. #
10.45 to 11.00
Break. Refreshments will be available in the lobby.
#Please do not use this break as an opportunity for smoking, there may still be some fumes left over from Professor Calculus's talk. Thank you#
11.00 to 11.45
How my fictional characters are based on real life adventures experienced by myself, friends or family. - Adventure writing and how to make a living from your memoirs without being sued. Josephine Bettany, author of such books as Nancy meets a Nazi.
11.45 to 12.30
Ensuring that you do not risk prosecution with your investigative actions. Carson Drew, US Attorney. Assisted in presentation of case studies by Miss N Drew, B Marvin and G. Fayne.
12.30 to 1.30
Lunch. Refreshments will be provided. May we ask that all companion animals be kept under control at all times.
1.30 to 3.45
Career paths for young adventurers as adults. Selection of workshops provided by the following:-
- Fenton Hardy - Private Detective
- Chief Inspector Jenks, Metropolitan police
- Josephine Bettany, Author
- Bill Cunningham, Special Services
- Chief Inspector Japp, Scotland Yard.
- Monsieur Tintin, Journalist.
Please note: This portion us compulsory and attendance will be noted. You will be split into small groups for these sessions.
Please can all participants be respectful of these persons, even if your experience with their colleagues has not always been a positive one. They are here for your benefit.
3.45 - 4.30
Question and Answer session with the above mentioned persons.
Close. Social events arranged for the evening, please see noticeboard in hotel for details.
Lucy Ann escaped the stuffy conference hall for a break. Seeing that Anne seemed to be well occupied with showing Guy's picture to some of the American young adventurers, she made her way out into the garden for a breath of fresh air.
"Bit much, that lecture wasnt it," came a voice from her left. She turned to see a friendly boy with spectacles and a cheery smile. He was also one of the American delegates. "Hi, I'm Bob Andrews. From California. I'm one of the Three Investigators?" He said, handing her a card with three question marks on it. She looked at it and said "Oh. That's nice" and put the card in her pocket.
Bob grinned. "Finally! Someone who doesn't look at the card and wonder why there are question marks on it! I've always thought it was damn obvious myself. Do you mind if I ask your name?"
"Oh I sorry - Lucy Ann Trent." she said. He looked expectant. When she didn't carry on he said "Of?"
"Of what?" she replied in some confusion.
He grinned. "Now that's refreshing too, maam. Nearly everyone here seems to think they are the only ones in the world who have adventures. I was expecting you to give your group name, or what you're famous for doing.
Lucy Ann grinned. "No, we aren't famous really, though we do have adventures. I think some people here are famous though. I know the Kirrens are pretty well known, and I think someone said there was someone here who used to be a child actor. Although I have never heard of him, I have to say.
Bob cracked a huge grin at this.
"That would be Jupe - Jupiter Jones," he said, pointing to where a stout young man was signing autographs for a gaggle of girls, with no clue that they were only asking for them to have an excuse to stay near his fit and muscled fellow investigator, Pete. Lucy Ann laughed and apologised, Bob instantly saying that it wasn't necessary, and joking that Jupiter needed a few people not knowing about him every now and again to keep him bearable to be around.
The bell went to indicate that the break was over. Lucy Ann left Bob reluctantly and headed back to sit with her family and the Kirrens. Bob went back to his friends, getting some good natured teasing from them both about his beautiful red head. He bore the jokes with good humour, deftly turning the conversation away from him by asking about Jupiter's apparent fan club. He winked over at Lucy Ann when she looked in his direction and was touched to see her blush. She was quite pretty, he thought to himself.
Across the room, Mike Arnold was trying not to stare too obviously at Lucy Ann. She had been sitting next to him at the press conference, and he had been trying to get up enough courage to approach her all break time. He scowled to see Bob's wink and went back into the room in a sulky manner that warned his family to keep well away from him.
Back in the lecture theatre a tall lady, with long dark hair put up in 'earphones' at either side of her head, was discussing her adventures and how she had turned them into a source of profit. Her slightly old fashioned and foreign appearance put the young delegates off from the start. Unfortunately one common attribute of young adventurers was a need for action, often physical action, and sitting in a lecture theatre all day listening to adults was a very hard thing for them to do.
Noticing the general restlessness of the young audience the speaker stopped describing a discovery of some salt caves and called her dog, a huge old St Barnard to her. "Now, I can see that plenty of you have animals with you. I want to introduce one of my greatest friends, Rufus"
The young adventurers stirred up a little at this, and looked at their own pets, who had often been great help and comfort in their adventures. Seeing that she had their attention at last, Joey Maynard, nee Bettany, continued the talk, emphasizing how Rufus had protected and helped her or her friends in their adventures. By the time that she reached the serious part of the talk, they were used to listening, and had recognized a kindred spirit in this adult.
As the talk came to an end, there was a brief break while the next speaker came on stage and set up their presentation materials. George and Dinah slipped back into their seats, with suspiciously wet hair. Luckily for them Julian was distracted by a debate that had started between Jupiter Jones and Freddie Trottville about the best methods of disguise and detection technology. Nora Arnold, who was in the row behind, looked at the girls thoughtfully, especially Dinah, who was trying not to react to Phillip pretending he had lost a pet snake under her chair.
The next lecture began, and the stories of Nancy Drew and her friends kept the momentum going well, although it had to be said that very few of the audience paid much attention to the legal warnings that her father gave them along the way.
At last it was lunchtime. The young adventurers bounced out of the hall and went in search of refreshments.
Mike stood at one side of the room, trying to not be too obvious about looking over at Lucy Ann. Peggy, with a plate full of food, came over to stand with him, and followed the direction of his gaze.
"She's very nice you know" she said casually.
"Wha...who ... Er... She is?" said Mike in some confusion. Peggy smiled. "Why don't you go over and talk to her?" she said.
"She's busy right now," said Mike, indicating Bob Andrews, who had just appeared in front of Lucy Ann with two full plates of food.
Peggy nodded. "Bob is nice too Mike, we had a good chat at the orientation meeting. I don't think you should let him put you off. Go over there and introduce yourself. Just don't get him onto methods of filing or record keeping!"
Mike just shook his head and went off in a different direction to get some food.
The afternoon's workshops went well, although Josephine Bettany had had to be called away due to some issues at the school she was involved in. Apparently the only way the problems could be solved would be if she was present despite her having left there more than a decade before.
The other advisors were very useful however, and Freddie was soon in detailed discussions with Bill Cunningham about how he should prepare for and apply to join the special services. Mike had a good discussion with Chief Inspector Jenks about what routes were open to him, which were depressingly few. He had been unlucky enough to be caught trespassing and breaking and entering, without being able to prove that there had been criminals present to justify the actions. Since he had turned 16 when he was caught, the offences were now on his record, and he was already finding career doors closing to him because of it. Chief Jenks was sympathetic, but because of the current media attention, he couldn't risk doing anything to help officially.
Finally the day was over, and the youngsters were glad to escape into the open air. Dick Kirren and Peggy Arnold let off steam by having a competition to see which of them could walk furthest on their hands, to cheers from many of the delegates. Peggy won by a few feet, then toppled over almost into Freddie Trottville's lap. She apologised with a laugh and he grinned at her, quite pleased by the turn of events.
His young friend Bets looked briefly sad as he set off for the hotel chattering happily with Peggy, then shook her head, knowing that Fatty wouldn't ever see her as anything more than a type of younger sister. She started up a conversation with some of the American delegates, and was soon happily involved in a discussion with Nancy Drew about how she might work towards setting up her own detective agency.
The evening wore on. A function room had been taken over for a dance, and the delegates were enjoying some activity after being still all day, a state that was not natural to many of them. Julian Kirren had for once let his sense of responsibiity go, and was dancing energetically, if inelegantly, with one of the female American delegates, Bess Marvin. George Kirren and Dinah were again nowhere to be seen, and Anne had also disappeared suspiciously early, after receiving a message from the hotel reception as soon as they entered the hotel.
Lucy Ann was quite happy however, discussing methods of organising things with Bob Andrews. It was nice to find someone else who was just much happier when things were tidy and organised. He in turn was noticing how beautiful her green eyes were in contrast to her red hair, and enjoying hearing her voice as she chatted.
After the dancing had finished, those who had not disappeared off into the garden or to their rooms were sitting around in a loose group, discussing their adventures. Joe Hardy, one of the American delegates, was trying his best to strike up a conversation with Nora Arnold, but not having much success due to Jack and Mike being protective and never allowing them any time alone. Freddie Trotteville and Jack Trent were having a lazy argument about who had had the most and best adventures. Julian looked at Dick in amusement at the small numbers of adventures they were both discussing, and they both resisted the urge to deflate the boastful Freddie with the actual number of their own experiences.
Lucy Ann realised the time, and made her excuses to Bob, after promising to come and sit with him for the following day's events. She reached the room she was sharing with Anne, and opened the door. To her surprise Anne was nowhere to be seen. A note attached to her pillow said not to worry, and that Anne would let herself in, and included a plea not to tell anyone that she wasn't there.
Lucy Ann sighed. She almost wished she had stayed down at the party, but although she liked Bob, they were too similar, and he wasn't someone she could foresee a future with, so she didn't want to give him the wrong idea. It was nice to have a friend to talk to however, especially since Dinah, George and Anne seemed to be determined to make the most of the advantages of minimal supervision.
Freddie and Peggy had gone for "a walk" in the garden, as the party broke up. They had discovered a lot in common, and had been enjoying spending time together. They discovered a small summerhouse at the end of the hotel gardens, and with a lot of nervous giggling, they let themselves in and locked the door.
They then became fully occupied in discovering how well they were suited in other ways. For once Freddie was completely uninterested in mystery solving or detection techniques.
JuIian, Bess and her friend Georgina Fayne were walking together in the garden themselves. Julian absently tried the summerhouse door, found it locked, and they moved on in the direction of the the river and the hotel boathouse. They were all very interested in watercraft, and thought that they ought not to miss the opportunity to check the hotel's boats.
The following day several bleary eyed young adults gradually made their way over to the conference centre.
Peggy and Freddie were openly holding hands, and sitting together, to Mike and Jack Arnold's surprise; They had been so busy protecting Nora's virtue, they hadn't even thought about Peggy's. Freddie was bombarded with questions about his intentions and given to understand most clearly that Peggy's brothers meant business if he hurt her. Since he was himself already seriously falling for Peggy, and would have been just as protective of Bets or Daisy who weren't even his sisters, he took it in good part and was eventually able to persuade them that he meant no harm.
Freed from her brotherly supervision, Nora went to sit with Dinah and George, determined to get to know them better. They were surprised, but welcoming, and the group settled in ready for the day's lectures.
Young Adventurers Conference 1947 – Schedule - Day two
9.30 to 10.15
Modern detection techniques and how to use them. Demonstrations by Frank and Joe Hardy, Hardy Detective Agency, assisted by Mr Chet Morgan.
10.15 to 11.00
Being aware of consequences of breaking up criminal gangs. How to contact your nearest witness protection program and the life changes involved.
Bill Cunningham, Special services.
11.00 to 11.15 Break for refreshments. Please keep companion animals under control and do not feed other people's animals without permission.
11.15 to 12.30
Workshop : Circus Skills, and how to blend into a circus when necessary for concealment or investigation purposes.
Mr Jimmy and Mrs Lotta Brown. Assisted by Mr Barney Rockingdown and his monkey Miranda.
Lunch 12.30 to 1.30
#Please do not feed any of your lunch to the circus animals, unless as agreed with their handlers. #
1.30 to 2.15
Avoiding being distracted by racial and social stereotypes. Keeping an open mind in your investigations.
Inspector Japp, Scotland Yard.
2.15 to 4.30
Personal experience in adventures workshop. Group discussion to include information from the following delegates about how they made their successful captures and discoveries.
- The Kirren Four plus Timmy. (Previously known as the Famous Five, name change due to legal issues still ongoing surrounding actual number of human group members)
- Trent and Mannering family adventure group.
- Five Find Outers, plus dog.
- The Three Investigators, California.
Please remember that all of these groups have had media issues and therefore may not be willing to discuss certain subjects.
On the train home, Lucy Ann and Dinah were surprised when Nora appeared in their carriage, followed shyly by Mike. They had a fun journey home, and discovered that Nora and Mike were actually at a school nearby to their own.
Lucy Ann was pleasantly surprised at how gentle Mike was, and how shy. Her only knowledge of him before was the newspaper reports of him being caught and charged, and then the rather fierce aspect of him protecting Nora and Peggy from admirers.
Mike was trying hard to think of something clever to say, but failing miserably. He was just happy to be near Lucy Ann, and was himself surprised how modest she was. She had no idea at all how beautiful she was, and laughed off any suggestion of her and Bob being an item.
Finally the train reached their stop. They said goodbye and went off to their homes. Nora was slightly irritated to still be only on friendly terms with Dinah. Dinah herself was already missing George, and was also a little wary about how obviously Nora was throwing herself at her. It was quite flattering though, and it would be nice to have a new friend nearby now that George was no longer at school, especially one who seemed likely to understand.
Mike was in a happy daze, clutching a tiny piece of paper with Lucy Ann's telephone number and address.