The Adventures of Lilly
Book One – The Beauty Pageant
Early Saturday morning before breakfast, Gwynet had a call from her mother. She took the call in Ms. Jameson’s office. Ms. Jameson was the coordinator for the pageant. Lilly went with her to the office. By the look on her face, Lilly could tell something was wrong. Gwynet was almost in tears when she hung up the phone.
“What’s wrong?” asked Lilly.
“Oh, nothing much,” answered Gwynet turning away.
“That’s not true,” said Lilly. “You’re about to cry and you look sad.”
“Lilly, don’t worry about it. Let’s go back to the room.”
Gwynet stepped around Lilly and hurried to the room. Lilly hurried on behind her. She had become good friends with Gwynet and wanted to know what was going on. Sometimes she seemed to have a far away look in her eyes at times as though something was bothering her.
“You know, Gwynet, I really like you and I want us to be good friends even after the pageant is over. If something is bothering you, it is bothering me also. Can you please tell me? I can at least pray for you.”
Gwynet did not answer. She went straight to the bathroom upon entering their room. Cathy was just climbing out of bed. “Wow! She must really need to go,” said Cathy.
“It’s more than that…I think,” said Lilly. She went to make her bed and made Gwynet’s as well. Then she proceeded to read her Bible. “Do you want to join me?” she asked Cathy. “I’m reading about when Jesus died for us.”
Cathy hesitated. She had seen Lilly read her Bible every morning and every night. She, herself, had gone to church when she was much younger, but ceased going a few years back. Her parents never brought up going to church. Sundays for her family was sleeping in, watching television, playing games on their Wii, and talking on her cell phone. Her father sometimes played golf, and her mother who was into Mary Kay Cosmetics oftentimes held house parties—not only at their house, but at other people’s houses. Cathy sometimes went with her. Maybe there is something to this Bible reading, she thought. “O.K., as soon as Gwynet gets out of the restroom.”
Cathy banged on the door. “Gwynet, hurry up!”
Gwynet had rushed to the restroom, but not to use it. She did not want Lilly nor Cathy to see her crying. She turned the water on high so they would not hear her sobbing. Life had been hard for her and her mother since their father walked out on them. Her mother, who had always stayed home with her, had to find work. Exactly three months back they had been living at a homeless shelter for women and children. That had been their home for the past year. It was a miracle that an opening came up in the government housing. The lady who ran the shelter and who had taken a liking to Gwynet and her mother, put in a good word for them and now they had a place they could call their own. Gwynet kept hoping her father would come back so they could be a family again. She had only seen him three times in the past year—once he stopped by the school, the other time he came by their house, and the other time her and her mother ran into him at the grocery store. He had a drinking problem that always upset the peace in the home. She flushed the toilet to throw Cathy off to the fact that she had been crying and quickly splashed some water on her face.
“About time,” said Cathy darting into the restroom closing the door with a bang.
“Cathy’s going to read the Bible with me today,” said Lilly. “Do you want to join us?” Lilly could tell she had been crying; her nose was a little red.
Gwynet nodded. She had been listening to Lilly read her Bible the past three days and often felt good after each reading. Before her family broke up, her and her mother would go to church pretty regularly, but they had stopped. She would often wonder where was God—the Dios she had heard about in her Sunday School classes.
After Cathy came out and dressed, all three settled on Lilly’s bed. Lilly prayed thanking God for each girl and thanking God for sending Jesus to die for her. After that, she read about Jesus dying for all people.
“I have never heard that before,” said Cathy. “Why would Jesus want to die for people.”
“Because if He did not die none of us could go to Heaven. We would all die and go to hell.”
“Lilly, my mother always says if we be good we will go to Heaven,” said Cathy.
“Oh, no,” said Lilly quickly. “Here, read this.” Lilly turned a few pages in her Bible to Ephesians 2:8 and 9. It read:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
“Works refers to the good things we do. God does not want us to boast that our good works got us to Heaven,” said Lilly. “Jesus loves us so much that He died so we could go to Heaven.”
“Lilly,” said Gwynet, “if Jesus loves us so much how come we have so many problems?”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s for a good reason,” said Lilly. She knew for sure now that something was bothering Gwynet for her to ask that question.
“If you don’t mind,” said Cathy, “can we finish this some other time? I’m really hungry. I think we should head to the dining room.”
“Sure,” said Lilly. Lilly prayed a short prayer and even prayed for Casey and her group.
“I can’t believe you prayed for her. I wouldn’t. Not as mean as she has been,” said Cathy.
“God says to love your enemies,” replied Lilly.
Fixing their trays they took their places at their assigned table. About mid-way into breakfast, Lilly had a surprise visit from her Mom and Dad and brother. She was so excited to see them. After introducing Cathy and Gwynet to them, she excused herself from the table so she could visit with her parents for a while. She took them on a short tour of the premises and ended the tour in her room. She told them everything that had taken place since she last spoke with her Mom on Wednesday.
“All you can do is pray for Casey and stay out of her way; just love on her as Jesus would,” said her Dad.
“We believe God has you here for a reason.”
“As for Gwynet, give her time. She’ll tell you what’s going on if she feels the need to,” said her Mom.
They chatted for a while until the first quiet time and said their goodbyes when Cathy entered the room.
“You have great parents,” said Cathy.
“Yeah. I thank God for them. Where’s Gwynet?” asked Lilly.
“Oh, she had a phone call. It’s her Mom, I believe. She took it in the office. I told her I would meet her here.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll go meet her. She seemed upset over her last phone call,” said Lilly.
“Sure, go ahead,” said Cathy. “I’ll be waiting here.”
Lilly made her way to the coordinator’s office. She had two rooms to her office. The front room door was slightly ajar and she could hear what sounded like an argument coming through the door. She hesitated before knocking.
“Ms. Jameson, what are we going to do about the stolen jewels? We need to get them off this property and shipped off soon before the police come snooping. You can’t keep them here forever.”
“George, I have everything under control. The jewels are well hidden. Plus, who would think of searching on a property where we have a pageant for girls going on?” said Ms. Jameson.
“Where are they hidden? I know the police have been tipped off.”
“Do I look like I am sweating?” asked Ms. Jameson. “Don’t worry about a thing. But to set your mind at ease, they are hidden in the girls’ dorm rooms.”
“What? Are you crazy? You could not think of a better place to hide them?”
“Relax, no one knows they are there. As far as anyone knows it’s just a bunch of rooms for girls. You just keep on bringing me the jewels and I’ll put them away safely. I am looking into getting them out of here as soon as we find someone we can trust to help us,” said Ms. Jameson.
“Jameson, I don’t know about this. Exactly where are they?”
“You’ve proven to be trustworthy. I’ll tell you, but promise you won’t tell anyone,” insisted Ms. Jameson.
“Promise,” George assured her.
“Behind the middle bed in each room there is a kind of hollow opening inside the wall. If you apply enough pressure, the wall will give way. It’s not easy to find. The jewels are hidden in there. Not all the rooms have jewels hidden in them. As to which ones, that I cannot tell—not yet any way. I’ll let you know when we get ready to move them.”
“Ha, ha. That’s genius of you.”
Lilly had overheard enough. She mustered up the courage to knock firmly on the door. “Come in.”
“Hi, Ms. Jameson, I was wondering is Gwynet still here?”
“Why, yes. She’s still in the other room on the phone.”
“Thank you,” said Lilly hurrying into the other room. She stopped short at what she heard and saw.
“Mama, I’ll do the best I can. I cannot force the judges hands. They have to judge fairly.” Gwynet was in tears.
“I know we could use the prize money, but what good would it be if we cheated to get it?…Mama, you have changed since Papa left us…I know things are tough with just you alone but we don’t have to cheat…Yes, Mama…Mama, I have to go now.” Gwynet hung up the phone. She was surprised to see Lilly standing there. How much of the conversation she overheard, Gwynet was not sure. But right now, she did not want to rehearse any of it.
Lilly smiled. “Let’s go back to the room. You do not have to tell me anything. We can pray about it.”
Gwynet wiped her eyes before they left the office. Once in the room, Lilly reminded her they were going to pray. After asking God to work everything out Gwynet started to cry again. This time she told Lilly and Cathy everything: about her father leaving them, about them living in a homeless shelter for a while, about her mother having to work now, and about her mother pressuring her to win the contest.
Lilly and Cathy sat on each side of her and placed an arm around her shoulders. “We’ll help you all we can,” they assured her.
“I miss my Dad,” said Gwynet. “If he were back we would have everything. I think my Mom only let me enter for the prize money.”
“And as much as I would love to win,” said Cathy, “I’ll pray for you to win. I really don’t need the money.”
“Me neither,” said Lilly. “I just came to have fun and to help fill up my three months of summer vacation.”
“You’re great friends,” said Gwynet. “But I want the best person to win.”
As the girls hurried off to lunch, Lilly wondered if she should tell them about the conversation she overheard. She decided against it thinking it, might be too much for them to handle. She could not help wondering if there were hidden jewels behind the middle bed which was Gwynet’s.