Read Let the Dance Begin Online

Authors: Lynda Waterhouse

Let the Dance Begin




To Jenny Fell, my clever friend who knows the names of wild flowers, the calls of birds, and who showed me where Cassandra Marramgrass lives.
And thanks to Sara Byers who lent me her shell sculpture for inspiration.

First published in Great Britain in 2009
by Piccadilly Press Ltd,
5 Castle Road, London NW1 8PR

Text copyright © Lynda Waterhouse, 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any
means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise,
without the prior permission of the copyright owner

The right of Lynda Waterhouse to be identified as Author of this work
has been asserted by her in accordance with the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978 1 85340 982 0 (paperback)
eBook ISBN: 978 1 84812 180 5

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

Printed in theUK by CPI Bookmarque Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4RD
Cover design by Simon Davis
Cover illustration by Sue Hellard


Extract from
The Book of Faeries and Other Strange Creatures
by Nathaniel Relyveld, 1847:

The Sand Sprites

Little is known about these mysterious creatures apart from the fact that they live inside sand dunes and follow the rules set down in a book: The Sands of Time. They are winged
creatures that have lost the ability to fly.

Male sand sprites are known as sand farers, and spend long periods of time travelling the deserts of the globe in sand galleons, or go to sea. Young males are known as surf boys. They spend
their time (earning the ways of the sea, preparing to be sand farers.

Female sand sprites either sift the sand to keep it pure, or those with the most talent for dancing become sand dancers. Sand dancers train for many a long year until they can perform the secret
dune dances. Their feelings run deep and, when thwarted, they can bear a grudge.

Let us not forget the ancient belief that if they stop dancing then disaster will strike the earth.



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen


Chapter One

‘Hope is like a strong wind;
it can carry a grain of sand over thousands of miles.’
The Sands of Time

Cassandra Marramgrass sneaked away
from her birthday tea party. She was feeling very grumpled and needed some time alone. Feeling grumpled was a
strange mixture of sadness, happiness and crossness, and she always felt grumpled on her birthday. It was the day she missed her mother the most.

Cassie climbed out of the dune and crept as close to the beach as she dared. No one would miss her for a while. Her only guests were old Mrs Sandpiper, Lena Sealovage and her Aunt Euphorbia, and
they were far too busy drinking endless cups of sage tea and gossiping to notice she’d slipped away.

It was a cold afternoon and the wind whirled around her flowing pink dress, which had been a present from Aunt Euphorbia. The wind whipped up grains of salty damp sand which stuck to her face,
but she didn’t care – for the first time that day her unhappy feelings melted away. Her heart beat wildly as it pumped hot fiery thoughts around her body making her feel powerful and strong.
She picked up a pebble and hurled it as far as she could towards a large rock, waiting for the thudding sound as it crashed into the sand.

‘OUCH!’ A small surf boy popped out from behind the rock, rubbing his head and looking cross.

‘Rubus!’ Cassie smiled as she ran towards her friend. ‘Are you all right?’

The boy stopped rubbing his head and stood up straight. ‘’Course I am. Takes more than a tiny stone to hurt me.’ He shook his wings and stretched out his skinny brown arms in a
sand surfing pose and grinned at her. His skin was tanned by the sun and his loose, sandy hair was tangled by sea breezes.

Cassie sat down on the edge of the rock as she checked that no one else was around. Female sand sprites were not supposed to leave the safety of the dune and they certainly weren’t
supposed to talk to surf boys – not until they were old enough to be considered true sand farers, anyway.

But Rubus and Cassie had been friends since they were sand babies. Cassie could talk to Rubus about anything that was on her mind. Rubus always seemed to know exactly how Cassie felt, sometimes
even before she knew it herself. They had both lost their parents in the Great Sandstorm seven years ago. But while it was known that Rubus’s parents and Cassie’s father had perished
while helping others caught in the sandstorm, Cassie’s mother had just vanished. Cassie knew that she was probably dead, but she badly needed to find out what had actually happened to her –
and Rubus understood this more than anyone.

‘Don’t suppose you’ve brought me any snacks?’ Rubus sniffed and scratched his chest, releasing the fresh tangy smell of seaweed. Cassie took out a large samphire bun and
Rubus gobbled it down.

‘Euphorbia always makes you a good birthday tea,’ he mumbled between mouthfuls.

‘She wouldn’t approve of your terrible manners – talking and eating at the same time! You’d get a big frown for doing that.’ Cassie pulled a face. Then she folded her
long dress around her legs and stared out to sea. ‘How is the sand surfing going?’

Rubus’s sea-green eyes glistened. ‘It’s so much harder than sand boarding because you have to control the sail as well as the board. But I raced the other day and I came in
fifth. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m learning all the time. I’ll take you out for a ride if you like.’

Cassie sighed. ‘I’d love to, but I can’t stay too long.’

Rubus swallowed the last crumb of samphire bun and wiped his mouth. ‘That’s a shame. I was hoping you’d give this a try.’ He reached behind the rock and pulled out a long
piece of smooth, shaped driftwood.

Cassie gasped. ‘Is that for me?’

‘All yours,’ Rubus replied. ‘Happy birthday!’

Cassie stared open-mouthed. ‘My very own sand board!’ she said eventually.

Rubus blushed. ‘You’ve been wittering on about wanting one for long enough and I was sick of lending you mine. It’s about time you had one of your own!’

Cassie jumped up and carefully hitched up her dress. ‘Come on, Rubus. I’ll show you!’

Rubus grabbed his own board and, giggling, they clambered to the nearest sand dune. Cassie glanced around to make sure no one was watching and then balanced herself carefully on the oval wood.
Slowly, she shifted her weight forward and felt exhilaration flood through her as the board tilted downwards and began to slide, scuffing the sand and picking up speed all the way down, while Rubus
weaved his board in and out of her path.

After about half an hour of running up and racing down the dunes, Cassie collapsed in a heap of giggles. ‘That was such good fun. You knew I’ve always wanted my own board. Thank you,
Rubus. I’ll practise every day when I come home from school.’

Rubus smoothed the sand off his board. ‘You certainly look less grumpled now. The look on your face earlier would have turned back the tide!’ He pulled an exaggerated cross face.

Cassie stuck out her tongue and waggled her ears at him. ‘I can’t help the way I look. Besides, it’s against the Rules for a surf boy to speak so impolitely!’

Rubus’s green eyes sparkled as he said, ‘You must be breaking a few Rules at the moment.’

Cassie rolled her eyes. ‘Rules schmooles! There are 623 Rules in
The Sands of Time
so I’m bound to break at least one every five minutes! From now on I am going to spend all
my free time sand boarding.’

Rubus laughed. ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t rather be dancing? I hear the dance school over at Dreamy Dune is going to be opening again. And there are now only 622 Rules for you to
break. Rule 623 has been repealed – it’s no longer forbidden to dance in public.’

‘Yes, the school reopening is all anyone’s talking about,’ Cassie replied. ‘I wonder why it’s happening now, after it’s been closed for seven years.’
She tugged at her hair. ‘I know it is supposed to be every sand sprite’s dream to be the prima dune dancer, but it’s not mine. You have to be really special to be a sand dancer,
and only the best become dune dancers. I’m not nearly good enough.’

‘Sand dancers all think they’re so special, anyway, so dune dancers must be really awful! I’m glad you don’t want to be one.’ Rubus pulled himself into a classic
sand dancer pose and put on a squeaky voice. ‘I am a sand dancer! Don’t spoil my dress. I have to look beautiful at all times! My wings will only flutter and flap when I’m
dancing!’ He picked up a handful of seaweed and draped it over his head and shrieked. ‘My hair . . . don’t mess with my hair! It took me three days to get it just

He collapsed on the sand and rolled around laughing.

Cassie mimed pumping up her arm muscles and put on a deep voice. ‘And surf boys think that they are so cool, but they are so dumb!’

‘That’s not fair, Cassie,’ Rubus said, his eyes flashing. ‘We have to understand the flow of the tides and the science of the waves, as well as care about all the sea
life. We also deliver messages because we are not the ones with the reputation for bearing grudges!’

‘At least female sand sprites take things to heart – which is why we are good at bearing grudges. Sand dancers dress to blend in with the dunes, and when the dune dancers dance, they make the
dunes sing,’ Cassie retorted.

Rubus looked surprised. ‘I never knew that it was the dancing that made the dunes sing.’

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