Captain Sydney, with Lt Kelsie G - the entertainment Officer, watched with interest as the last passengers came aboard the WHEATEN PRINCESS.

They remarked that this was certainly an interesting group of passengers, with a Welsh Chorale touring to Spain after having a very successful run of performances in the US and Canada.  Also, there was an interesting looking Matador on board, accompanied by a Flamenco dancer. Kelsie G planned to try to get the Spanish Lady to give them a performance on the way over! 

A group of three American Ballerinas who had cruised with the Wheaten Princess once before, were going to perform now in the UK and Spain as well, and it was wonderful to see them again.

Sydney had felt right at home with two distinguished English gentlemen he had invited to dine with him at the Captain's table, and Kelsie G was very keen to meet the famous actress, Miss Hannah, who was travelling alone.

There were two Private Investigators on the Cruise,  Mr Budley and Mr Eoin (pronounced 'Owen'), and Sydney had already introduced them to the Ship's Detective, Mr Buddy. He knew they'd LOVE to get their heads together, having such similar interests.  (He also hoped that the names - 'Buddy and Budley' - wouldn't cause too much confusion!)

Lt Kelsie G already noted that some rather cheeky lads had wasted no time in introducing themselves to a group of 'flirty girls'!  Now, THAT should prove interesting!

But the most intriguing of all was a group of girls and boys who announced that they were DRUIDS - going to the UK ESPECIALLY  to see STONEHENGE!  (Kelsie gave herself a little reminder to look up DRUIDS  on her laptop later!)

Their own Gypsy Fortune Teller, Havisham, who was a REAL Gypsy, expressed a great desire to meet them, as he believed they would all have a great deal in common. Hmmmm!

Captain Sydney was looking forward to chatting with the Historians, who were the last to come aboard. Typical Academics, he thought - always running late!
The gangway was lifted and there was a jubilant cheer as the tugs eased the great Cruise Ship out into the Harbour.  

Another Cruise was beginning.

As they moved out to sea, past the Statue of Liberty, the ship's band was playing 'MANHATTAN'  and everyone waved good bye to New York, and many shouted gleefully, "LONDON, HERE WE COME!"
By the time everyone got settled into their cabins, it was time to explore the Ship. There was much to see!

The passengers noticed that an announcement had been posted on the Notice Board.  Those who had Cruised before knew what to expect on their second night at sea - THE CAPTAIN'S COCKTAIL PARTY!

This was not only an opportunity to meet the Captain and Crew,  it was also a wonderful way to get to know everyone who was travelling with them.  Everyone was excited, and began preparing for the 'big occasion'.

The ship's Hairdresser, Mr Willie, was overwhelmed with appointments!

Mr Willie  was a very fashion-conscious fellow. His own hair style was one that the famous Actress, Miss Hannah, wanted to copy - though she chose a different colour more suited to her femininity of course.
Others who were having their hair done at the same time had mixed opinions!
The four 'Flirty Girls' discovered Havisham, the 'Genuine Gypsy Fortune Teller' while they were exploring the ship.

Katie S was immediately interested. She planned to make this Cruise a record-breaker on her previous successes in winning the attentions of lots of young men.  It would definitely be an advantage to KNOW where to do her hunting!

Shana never seemed to have a lot of luck. The boys took the bait, but she always lost them when 'reeling them in' - so to speak.

MacKenzie Jane and Morgan were more interested in money.  Inheriting it, winning it, or marrying it!

So off they went to see if the Gypsy was available .  They hoped he didn't charge too much, but MacKenzie told them that she'd heard that Gypsies were very accurate in their forecasts, and she didn't care if this guy WAS expensive. As long as he pointed her in the direction of dollar signs!

They stopped at the door and knocked.  A deep velvety voice told them to 'come in' - so they stepped hopefully inside.

He was quite magnificent! VERY handsome, and complete with earrings dangling from his ears. He wore a gold bracelet above his right paw, and his outfit was very modern.

He gestured for them to sit, and MacKenzie and Katie S made themselves comfortable on either side - in front of the crystal ball.  Morgan and Shana preferred to stand and observe.

He studied the four girls for a minute or two, then concentrated on his crystal ball.  Havisham was a great judge of character, AND a mind reader it seemed, because he was soon telling the girls what they wanted to hear!
They left feeling very optimistic.  The Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party might present them with some happy surprises!

Other notable people on the Wheaten Princess of course included the famous Ship's Band- with Chaps, the talented Pianist; Barklee on Drums; Charlie, who played Guitar and Brass, and Miss Lexi, on Strings, Clarinet and Flute. Quite a versatile lady!

The Band was joined by a splendid vocal group, known internationally as SOUNDS SENSATIONAL,and
this they certainly were. The passengers would hear them at the Captain's Cocktail Party.

Passengers were made comfortable in their cabins by the charming Chief Steward- Lt Dasher. He made certain that everything they might need was there, and if it wasn't, he would soon see that it was on hand.

He did his rounds, checking on the service the cabin stewards were providing for the guests, no matter whether they were booked into the expensive Suites, or the cabins on the lower decks. EVERYONE was important to Dasher.

Likewise, his counterpart in the bars, Lt Bailey B, the Chief Barman, was keeping everyone's whistle wet and their taste-buds happy with good service and the top brands in drinks.

Oh, and we mustn't forget the Officer who was the Ship's Official Photographer- Lt Hurley!

He had his own darkroom and was already busy developing pictures he'd taken of the passengers coming aboard.

However, there was one picture which, as he watched it coming to life, had him puzzled. It was of the Druids coming aboard - late, and in a hurry, and they had quickly passed the passport/visa inspection and were looking stressed as he took the picture.  At the time, he'd not noticed anything strange about the group, but now, examining the negative with a magnifying glass, he wasn't so sure. There appeared to be something peculiar about the luggage.

He cocked his head as he studied the plate from several directions, then he quickly set about printing it.  If his suspicions were correct, he'd have to show this to the Captain!
          As soon as the print was dry, he tucked it into an envelope and headed for Captain Sydney's cabin.


Meanwhile, Lt Tucker, the Ship's Purser, was busy answering questions about the Captain's Cocktail Party and other events on the calendar.  

The members of the Welsh Chorale were enjoying the sea breeze as they strolled around the Promenade Deck, where they met up with the Historians, who were keen to ask them about Wales and its historic buildings. The historians loved those 'lilting' accents, and hoped to hear them sing sometime soon.

Four cheeky lads, Boomer, Cody, Finnegan and Nico were at the Purser's Office, asking where they might hire out tuxedos for the Captain's Cocktail Party.  They wanted to look their best, because they hoped to meet lots of pretty girls to impress!

Well away from all this excitement, two little people sat together at the back of the Seafarer's bar and lounge, watching everyone coming and going.  The boy whispered to the girl:

"Hey, we could sneak over and pinch some of that yummy looking food while they are all in the big lounge listening to the Band tonight!"

The girl nodded excitedly. This was their first Cruise, and they planned to make the most of it while they could.

"I need some more money to get a pretty Princess dress, Barnaby, - so I can go to the Party!"

  was her brother's reply.  "You might be questioned by someone!"

This response was immediately met by streams of tears and sobs, so Barnaby put a paw to her lips and said reluctantly, "OK, OK!  I'll get some, Lola, ...... just STOP CRYING!"

It was amazing how quickly the tears dried up and a big smile returned to Lola's pretty face!
Lola watched with wide eyes as her twin brother cautiously left the room and set about his secret task.

He found a few cabins in the 'rich' section of the ship which the occupants had carelessly left unlocked. 

With a quick glance around, he waited until the coast was clear, then entered. He searched in drawers and found a few odd dollars, which he tucked into his little bag, then moved to the next one, and so on, until he had enough for Lola's Princess dress.  It wasn't expensive to hire, and he figured that if he only took a little from each of the cabins, it was not so likely to be missed.

He felt very protective of, and responsible for his twin sister.  After all, it had been HIS idea to run away from that Puppy Mill when the door of their prison was left unlatched.  He quickly took his mind off that terrible day and its terrible events. Now, they were FREE, and he was determined that they should remain that way.

The two pups had always dreamed of being able to travel on a big ship after seeing a picture of one on a page of the newspaper which was their bed. So as soon as they were safely away, they had climbed into a truck that was carrying provisions to go on the Wheaten Princess, and wondered how they might get aboard without being seen.

After what seemed like ages, they saw a group of dogs who were so preoccupied with finding their passports that they did not notice the twins jumping into a large case that Customs had just checked, and left slightly open - enough for two small puppies to squeeze in!

And so they'd been carried aboard without anyone noticing!  But oh, they did not see Hurley with his camera!
They had popped their little heads out to look at just the WRONG time.

Hurley was knocking on the door of the Captain's cabin. A photograph was in his hand and he was looking puzzled.

The picture, enlarged, clearly showed two little faces peeping from a large case which was being taken onto the ship by a group of Druids who were travelling with them.  He had presumed, at first, that the small owners of the faces were WITH the Druids - their children, perhaps? But after talking with the passengers concerned, he was surprised to learn that they knew nothing about it and had no idea that things, other than their private belongings, were in that particular case.

A voice called 'Enter' and that brought Hurley's thoughts back to the present. He entered, and the Captain invited him to sit down, which he did.  Then he quickly got to the point, and showed Capt Sydney the photograph.

Sydney took a deep breath and expelled it slowly, and with a slight whistle. Then his serious brown eyes, turned to Hurley.

"What do you suggest we do?  We can't be sure they don't belong to some of the other passengers, and are playing a silly prank. They're just babies!"

Hurley shrugged.   "I doubt it, Skipper. The only passengers to come aboard after the Druids, were the Historians, and as you know, they were so late they nearly missed the ship!"

"Well, I suppose I can order a search of the ship for two small pups who cannot be accounted for on the passenger list, - but, - that would take AGES!"

Hurley looked sympathetically at his Captain, then offered an idea -

"Skipper, we could just wait a bit. These kids are VERY young and sooner or later they'll have to come out of hiding to eat, if I know kids!  We can alert the stewards to watch for any pilfering, or any other suspicious behaviour. And it might help to question all the pups we see, - ask them to take us to their parents - things like that.  What do you reckon?"

Sydney gave Hurley a hearty slap on the back and a broad grin.

"Right on!  Splendid idea. I'll leave it up to you.  Might be an idea to mention it to our Detective, Buddy, too.  Get him on the job as well."

Hurley gave a salute, and left to carry out Sydney's instructions.

Two very distinguished looking English Gentlemen were looking at an envelope which was delivered to their cabin.

Winston handed it to his companion, Shadow, who was an Oxford man. "You open it, old chap. It has the Captain's seal on it!"

Shadow took the envelope and raised his luxurious eyebrows. He opened it and extracted a formal looking card.

"It's an invitation!"  he exclaimed, then handed the gold edged card to Winston.

"Well now!  How nice of him. We are both invited to have Dinner with him tonight, at the Captain's Table!"

They both looked delighted.  It reminded them of when they had been invited to the Queen's Garden Party. Just as well they had packed their formals!

"I say, old chap," Shadow murmured as he smoothed his magnificent beard. "Do you suppose the Captain might have checked up on our family history - I mean, you being rich, and named 'Winston' - after the great Winston Churchill, and me being related to the Duke of Wheatendom's Sheep Dogs?"

Winston grinned.  "Who can tell. I suppose they do a security check of all passengers.  Anyway, I'm off to get the wrinkles out of my suit!"

They both hurried off to take care of their special arrangements for the BIG dinner appointment!

As the sun went down on the first day of their Cruise, everyone  was chatting about the Captain's Cocktail Party, which was to take place the following evening.  Suits were hired, gowns were pressed and plans were made.

But for now, our two English Gentlemen were enjoying their firstnight on board, as they joined the Captain and his officers at the famous 'CAPTAIN'S TABLE'!
The next morning saw several passengers lined up outside the Novelty Shoppe, and Willie was run off his feet at the salon.

 Two little people were hiding in an empty cabin, trying on the fancy clothes they'd hired the night before. Barnaby looked so handsome in his formals, and Lola was positively beautiful in her pretty Princess dress, but now they needed cash to spend!  

Barnaby had been successful in sneaking some snack food to their secret cabin, but they would need more money. LOTS more money!

This was only their second day on the Cruise, and he was beginning to wonder how they could survive the many days to come.  This wasn't as easy as he thought it would be. He took off his fine clothes and sat on his bed to think.

Yes. He would have to steal more money from the rich passengers. THEY could afford it!  He set off to scan the top decks.


Meanwhile, Lt Kelsie, the Entertainment Officer, had spoken with the Three Ballerinas, (Darcy, Brandy G and Khaki), and also the Spanish couple - the Matador, (Senor Jimmy) and the Flamenco Dancer, (Senora Scooch).

They had all agreed to perform at the Captain's Cocktail Party. 

Kelsie smiled in satisfaction.  This would be great entertainment, along with their own Band, MAGIC MOMENTS, and the singing group, the SOUNDS SENSATIONAL.  There would be two themes, THE UK and SPAIN.
The evening began with the passengers meeting the Captain and Lt Kelsie as they entered the Grande Lounge. 

Both were in Dress Whites and looked very impressive. The first guests that Hurley photographed were Miss Hannah, the famous actress.  Her last film, the Disney classic, ALICE IN WHEATENLAND, had been a howling success. She was accompanied by Mr Budley and Mr Eoin, the two Private Investigators who were also on a holiday to the UK and Spain.

With them were the Druids,  Miss Emma Y, Mr Guinny, Miss Katie T and Mr Brady, and Miss Sadie, one of the Historians.
Lt Kelsie had done some research on the Net about modern day Druids, and this was what she found:

Modern Celtic Druidism is a path to knowing yourself, to know where you came from, to connect with and activate your incarnational potential, to discover the secrets of the universe, to understand Love, to be happily at One with the Source.

Druids can be characterized by a reverence for the natural world and the often profound lessons it can teach, a striving for excellence in the arts and sciences, and a pragmatic emphasis on living one’s beliefs in everyday life. Some Druids today are monotheist and Christian; others are Pagan and polytheist.

Now she was equipped to carry on an intelligent conversation with them!


As other guests arrived, the Band was playing a variety of British and Spanish music as well as some old favourites, and the SOUNDS SENSATIONAL were singing old British traditional songs.

Everyone was silent as the lead singer, Bailey Y, came forward. He was about to charm them all with a solo. The other members of the group stood back and listened with delight to Bailey Y's wonderful voice.

He began singing an old love song which was born in WW2. It told of lovers in Mayfair, London, during the blitz.
While the band and the singers were keeping the passengers entertained with great music, and the Stewards were keeping them happy with treats and drinks - all on the House, Captain Sydney was being approached by three of the Bartenders and several cabin stewards with what appeared to be a serious problem.

Someone was passing dud cash!  The notes were definitely counterfeit, but were cleverly forged. At the same time, they reported food disappearing, and the cabin stewards told of passengers complaining that they had been robbed!  They had two  lots of crooks on board - thieves, and forgers!

What was to be done?

Sydney had a hunch who was stealing the food, and perhaps the cash from cabins as well, but those two little kids (wherever they were hiding!) certainly couldn't be forgers, and besides, if they had forged notes, they wouldn't need to steal cash from cabins. No, there was a bigger problem here, but he and the ship's detective would need to find out whether someone was innocently passing dud money which had been unloaded on them, or if they were in fact the forgers.  That would be difficult to prove, one way or the other.

He discussed the matter with Buddy, the ship's 'policeman', and they decided to call in the help of the two Private Investigators who were passengers on the Cruise.  So off they went to find Mr Budley and Mr Eoin.

Lt Kelsie, the Entertainment Officer, was quite unaware of what was going on, and was mixing with the passengers and getting to know everyone.

Lt Hurley, the official photographer, had gathered a large group together for a photograph, and he noted two little faces in the gathering that reminded him of the children in the picture he'd shown to the Captain.  However, he dismissed his suspicions, as they were very elegantly dressed and appeared to be with the lady standing near them.
After their photo had been taken with the group, Barnaby took Lola aside and whispered:

"Sis, don't tell people our names!  We might get investigated and put in prison!"

Lola shrugged. "There isn't a prison on a ship, is there?"

"They could lock us in our cabin, and send us back to the Puppy Mill at our first port of call!"
   he warned.

This made Lola cry again.  She NEVER wanted to go back to that cruel Puppy Mill and those cruel people. She'd rather die.

Barnaby put his arm around her tiny waist and comforted her. "Don't worry Sis,"  he crooned in soothing tones. "I won't let anyone send us back to that place of torture."   He rubbed his little beard for a moment, then added brightly, "If they DO catch us, Sis, we can WORK our passage on the Cruise - doing stuff to help the crew and passengers!"

Little Lola's face lit up with a smile. Perhaps she could help the hairdresser, - and Barnaby could help make sandwiches at the bar - and LOTS of things!

She glanced at Barnaby's smart suit, and her own pretty Princess dress, and thought how much fun they were having at the party.  And that nice lady in red had been so kind to them. Perhaps she would look after them!

They toddled off to have more snacks and soft drinks!

Meanwhile, Lt Kelsie G was busy preparing the stage for the Spanish couple, who were going to perform something special for them. They were going to dance a Tango together, in true Spanish style.

When they emerged from behind the curtain, they were greeted by thunderous applause.  

They looked fantasic! Senora Scooch was dressed in a magnificent red gown, and had a matching red rose in her hair.

The music began and they positively stunned the audience with their Tango.  It had passion - It had fire - and it had artistry. Senor Jimmy, the Matador, was as skilled on the ballroom floor as he undoubtedly was in the Arena!
As the passengers and crew watched these two together, they couldn't help wishing that they could see Scooch's Flamenco Dancing, and they wanted to see more of the handome Jimmy too.  He'd look pretty impressive in his Matador costume!
The performance had such perfect poise, and the music made each move more exciting. They were obviously competition standard dancers, and when they were finished, there was a roar of cheering.

They bowed graciously, and Scooch blew kisses to the audience as she left the stage.

Hurley was assembling another group to photograph when Doctor Boogie stepped up and relieved him of his camera.

"You gotta be in this one old Buddy!"  he laughed, and pushed Hurley into the line-up! While this was going on,
Lt Kelsie G was chasing up the Three Little Ballerinas.  They were to close the evening's entertainment.

Anyone who had seen them perform before would know what a treat awaited them. These three young ladies had travelled with the Wheaten Princess on a previous Cruise, with a dream of being selected for the Paris Ballet. Sadly, it did not happen, but their talent was so impressive on the ship that a talent scout who saw them arranged for them to audition in New York, and they had been studying, and performing there ever since. Now they were on a tour to the UK and Spain  to perform there.

So Kelsie G was getting them ready to perform once more on the Wheaten Princess.

Dr Boogie was trying to get everyone to stand still for the camera, but trying to get 16 people to look at the camera and say cheese all at the same time was no easy task!

The Cheeky Lads were there, along with some of the Flirty Girls, (they had discovered each other!) and the members of the Welsh Chorale who missed out on the previous group shot, as well as some of the Historians, were also present. Even Havisham left his crystal ball, and Willie left his Salon to join in the fun!
When Lt Kelsie G announced the Three Ballerinas, everyone hushed their chatter, waiting for the curtain to rise on these three delightful and talented young ladies.

The lights were dimmed as the spotlight hit the stage, and then first one, then the second, and finally the third dainty figure floated onto the stage to the music of Chopin's 'Contredanse'.

They looked so beautiful, and their dancing was perfect.  No wonder they were now accepting appointments in Europe! Those who had seen them before noted how professional they were now, with not a step out of place.

As the music came to an end, they made a perfectly timed deep bow to the audience, who had come to their feet to applaud these young performers.

It was getting late, and several people made their way back to their cabins.  Among the first to leave were the two little children, Barnaby and Lola.  Just behind them were some of the members of the Welsh Chorale, including Keeva, the lady who had talked with them after the group photograph.  They trusted her, and had confided to her much of their sad story. The kids hoped they would see her again the next day.  They needed a mother figure in their lives and Keeva seemed to fit the role perfectly.

What they did not know, was that Buddy, who had also been close by in that photo shoot, remembered what the Captain had told him to be on the lookout for.  These two kids had raised his suspicions. He followed them to their cabin and confronted them there, demanding to see their passports.

Barnaby tried to stay calm, but Lola was terrified and burst into floods of tears.

"We, er, that is, we LOST our passports when they fell in the water when we came on board!"  Barnaby said in his most convincing voice.

But Buddy was a policemen and he didn't believe that excuse one little bit. These were definitely the kids who had stowed away and had been stealing money and food.

He didn't want to be cruel, as these were only little kids, just pups, and he had a soft spot for children. Lola's wailing, which was getting louder and more frantic by the minute, was making him feel like a wicked giant, frightening and threatening defenceless babies.  But he had a job to do!

"Where is your Mommy?" he asked more gently, hoping to calm the little girl, but this question only brought forth a blood curdling scream from the tiny child, which froze him to the bone. He sensed, then, that something terrible had happened to these children. 

He didn't quite know how to proceed, so he took out his cell phone and called the Captain.