The function room of the Golden Hind was buzzing with people setting up the music stands, arranging their music and swapping news. Bethany sat down and took her cornet from the case. It was the very one that Grandad had given her when she was young, polished to a high shine.
“How’s my favourite cornet player?” the fair young man beside her asked. “I hear you did really well on Sunday. If I don’t watch out, you’ll be replacing me.”
“Hi, Jason. How’s your throat?” Bethany asked.
“My throat?” he answered, puzzled for a moment.
Bethany remembered Ellis and his confusion about seeing Jason out and about.
“Oh, yes, of course. Much better, thanks.”
They began their practice, and although Bethany tried to lose herself in the music, there were so many niggles and wrong notes from members of the band that they were continually stopping and starting again. Ken was beginning to get annoyed. Bethany had never been to a practice with her grandfather, but Rachel had told her he was much better at keeping order than Ken.
“Lacey, concentrate!” he almost shouted at his daughter.
Beside Lacey, Janine Grace, the band’s earliest lady member, leaned forward and helped the girl with her difficulties. Bethany liked Janine. She was like a mother figure to the girls in the band. Rachel had once asked her why she always wore a skirt instead of trousers, like most of the women and girls.
“I wear my skirt with pride,” Janine responded with a smile. “I was the first girl allowed into the band and it’s a symbol of my femininity. I wanted people to know we were a progressive band and that girls were as good as anyone else.”
The girls agreed with her, but still wore their trousers in the draughty community hall. Once they were practising in the pub, though, Lacey took to wearing short skirts and continually fidgeted in her seat. As the bandmaster’s daughter, she seemed to get away with murder.
“Are you coming for a drink afterwards?” Jason asked Bethany.
Automatically Bethany glanced at the portrait of Captain Nathaniel.
“Do you think he’d approve?” she asked with a grin.
“Probably not, old misery.” Jason dismissed their founder. “Anyway, if you fancy
staying . . .?”
“Do you fancy staying for a drink?” Bethany asked Rachel, who was sitting nearby.
Jason looked annoyed that she’d included her friend in the invitation.
“Oh, I’ll stay,” Lacey put in.
“You’ve got college in the morning,” Ken reminded her.
She glared at her father. Lacey usually got her own way.
Bethany had to admit that Jason was good looking, but he knew it. Most of the girls in the band fancied him. In fact, she was in two minds whether she did herself. An image of the lovers in the park came unbidden into her thoughts. She’d never been in love, but she wasn’t about to make the mistake of falling for Jason like some of the other girls had done. He seemed to have forgotten that Bethany had witnessed his former conquests in tears, and how they’d lost a few band members that way.
“I can’t stay tonight,” Rachel explained. “I’ve got an early start tomorrow. My class’s SATs are due soon.”
“Sorry, Jason. Lacey will keep you company, though.”
“You could ” he began.
“Rachel’s mum gives me a lift home,” Bethany replied. “And I have an early start myself.”
He looked at her thoughtfully as if he could not believe she hadn’t succumbed to his charms. His eyes were bright blue and his smile only for her.
Bethany almost weakened. She knew some of the other girls envied his attention to her, but she didn’t want to be alone with Jason Cale. It was way too dangerous.