Continuing The Pond People. If you missed the beginning, click here to Meet the Mirlings
When Molly arrived in the shallows, there was no sign of Grandad. She was about to swim home again when that swaggering newcomer zoomed out of the water lilies. Flo and Grandad drifted down after him.
‘What’ve you been up to, Grandad?’
‘Reed shooting. Come with me.’
He handed her the reed they’d been using and led the way to his den, where he pulled out another length of young reed, slightly wider than the first.
‘I’m trimming up different lengths and widths, to see which shoot furthest.’
Flo took the new reed. ‘This one feels too wide in my m-mouth.’
Molly thought it would suit a bigmouth like Flash.
The bigmouth was surprisingly keen. ‘We could compete to appoint a champion.’ He smirked. ‘Then other mirlings can challenge him for the title.’
‘Or her,’ said Molly. ‘No cat today?’
‘Not since the rain,’ replied Flo.
‘How about you, Molly?’ asked Grandad. ‘Like to try reed shooting?’
But she knew it wasn’t for her. She wasn’t competitive, and could see no practical use for it. Grandad looked pleased with himself though. ‘If enough mirlings was interested, we could get teams together for a tournament.’
‘You’d have to put people n-near the targets to judge the b-best hits,’ said Flo. ‘M-mightn’t that be dangerous?’
‘You’d need prizes,’ said Flash.
Grandad looked doubtful now. ‘Sounds like it’d take some organising.’
Wanting to be involved, she said, ‘I don’t mind helping you organise it.’
‘How do you feel about organising a team?’ asked Grandad.
‘Oh, I’d be no good at shooting,’ she said. ‘How about Eddy? Flo tells me he’s good at it.’
A bubble of laughter escaped Flash’s mouth. He asked Flo to pass him the wider reed and swam up with it.
She saw Grandad meet Flo’s eyes. When Flash had gone, he turned to Molly, ‘Can you see Eddy as a team leader? Recruiting members, organising training, deciding strategy?’
Flo’s head was shaking. Molly could see their point.
‘But why would anyone listen to me who can’t even shoot?’
‘You can manage a team without being a player,’ said Grandad. ‘There’s nowt to stop Eddy coaching them, with you to organise them and point him in the right direction.’
Flo was nodding. ‘You can always ask if there’s something you’re not sure about.’ Flash swam down from the surface.
Grandad gestured to indicate an invisible team. ‘Or ask the shooters. They’d be happy to be consulted. You know how teams work.’
Molly liked teamwork. It was about sharing the work. She liked being part of a team, but leading one… that was scary.
‘I’ll lead a team,’ announced Flash. ‘My team will be Flash’s Lightning Strikers. How many to a team?’
‘Let’s find out if anyone wants to join first.’
‘So you’ll do it, M-molly?’
Three pairs of eyes were on her. Flash didn’t try to hide the amusement in his.
How dare he laugh at her. She wouldn’t let him put her off. ‘I’ll see.’
‘That’s settled then.’ Grandad rubbed his hands together. ‘How about you, Flo? Going to join a team?’
‘Oh no.’ Flo shook her head so hard her hair drifted out in a white cloud. ‘I’d lose my n-nerve at the last minute and let everyone down.’
‘Right-ho – you can be Chief Judge.’ Flo shrank back. ‘Find yourself a couple of assistants and decide how you’ll score the hits so there’s no argument later.’
He put a finger under her chin and gently closed her mouth. ‘I’ll help. Now clear off, all of you, and recruit. I needs me afternoon nap.’