The train was very quiet. Luckily there was nobody in the carriage, as it was very hard not to be noticed with a tiger that insisted on bouncing.
‘Grigs will you please come up here and sit still! Someone will see you!’
‘I’m being very still! I’m not moving at all.’
The polar sighed. In front of him was a screen and he peered at it closely. Picking up a set of headphones he put them on and tapped them, then cleared his throat. ‘Patrick calling Preston, come in Preston.’
‘Yes,’ said a voice in his ears. ‘Preston here, you’re right on time, arriving Windsor in 5 minutes, I’m tracking the train so I know exactly where you are.’
‘That makes me feel so much better,’ said Patrick rather sarcastically, ‘it’s where Abigail is that we need to know. Hopefully she’s still at the station somewhere.’
The train began to slow. Patrick clambered down from the seat and packed up his things. ‘Come on Grigs, when the doors open we need to get out quickly and find somewhere to hide. Just follow me!’
The doors hissed open. It was a very big step down. ‘Jump!’ shouted Patrick. Grigs sailed over his head with a very big bounce. Landing hard on the platform he looked back at the polar. ‘Run,’ hissed Patrick, ‘over there under that seat!’
It was very dark as they both ran as fast as they could toward the edge of the station. Panting hard and peering out around the legs of a bench, the polar looked carefully up and down the platform. There was no sign of a blonde bear. ‘You stay here Grigs, I’ll go and look for her.’
Edging backwards the tiger sniffed. ‘I don’t like it here, it’s very dark.’ He sniffed again and turned around facing the wall, ‘and very cold.’
Patrick crept out from under the seat, ‘just stay here, you’ll be fine.’ Padding down the platform he softly called Abigails name. “Hello? Where are you? It’s me Patrick, it’s ok Abigail you can come out now.’ There was no answer. A cool wind licked around his paws. Glancing back towards the seat he couldn’t see any sign of the tiger. ‘Oh no,’ he murmured. There was a crackling noise from the headphones.
‘What’s happening,’ said Preston, ‘have you found her?’
‘No I haven’t,’ snapped Patrick, ‘and now I’ve lost Grigs again.’
‘Hang on..’ there was a tapping sound from the headphones, ‘blonde bear… Windsor…news…ooh no…’
‘Oh no what?’ said Patrick, ‘have you found something?’
‘News headline, said Preston nervously, ‘blonde bear seen in Windsor castle. Apparently she got out of a bag, people running everywhere. Police called. So that’s where she went, Windsor castle.’ He paused. ‘Why on earth did she go there?’
‘You know what she’s like,’ said Patrick, shaking his head and holding onto the headphones. ‘Probably had some nonsense idea she’d see the Queen or something. Grigs! There you are, come here and put those biscuits down where on earth did you find them?! They’re not yours and you don’t know where they’ve been! Preston, what number bus do we need to get to the castle, it’s getting dark.’
Abigail was having a very nice dream. She was warm, cosy and asleep on a soft red chair in a huge castle. She really didn’t want to open her eyes. With a yawn she stretched out and wriggled her paws. It felt very soft. She opened one eye. Then quickly opened both. She was in a castle! She remembered now. She’d got on a train, then in a bag and then had run as fast as her paws would take her. And…she’d met the Queen. Who had given her sandwiches and cakes. Wide awake now Abigail sat up. Were there any left? To the side of the chair was a small table with a shiny tray. It was full. Small cakes and a huge… ‘Chocolate cake,’ sighed Abigail reaching out a paw, ‘just a slice or two then another little nap…’
Patrick and Grigs shivered under the seat on the bus. It was cold and damp. ‘Another two stops,’ whispered Preston through the headphones, ‘then you’ll be at the front of the castle. Looking at the plans I suggest you proceed west around the walls. It’ll be quieter that way.’
The doors to the bus opened, Patrick pinned down the tigers tail with his paw. ‘Not this one, the next stop.’
‘I knew that,’ muttered Griggs, ‘I was just stretching.’
Slowly the bus turned a sharp corner. Coming to a stop the doors creaked open. ‘Come on,’ hissed the polar, ‘follow me!’ Scampering down onto the pavement they made for the tall grey walls.
Grigs looked up at them doubtfully, ‘that’s a very big bounce.’
‘There’s a door to the west, you should be able to get into the courtyard,’ said Preston through the headphones, ‘I’ve brought up an aerial photograph and I can direct you from there. I’ve worked out the guards timetable too.’
‘Hmm,’ said Patrick grudgingly, ‘you’d better be right about the guards. Come on Grigs, it’ll be warmer inside.’
Creeping along the edge of the wall they made their way up the gravel drive into a huge empty courtyard. Above them, the towers of the castle were tall and dark against the night sky. A few of the windows had lights on inside.
‘Cross now,’ said Patrick, ‘see if you can get in by one of the windows, that should take you into the main part of the castle. Did you bring anything to open locks?’
‘Of course I didn’t’ snapped Patrick. ‘Perhaps they’ll be one that’s open.’ Ducking down under a long hedge he narrowed his eyes. ‘There! Look! I’m sure it’s open, we can climb up.’ Peering at the leaves he took one in his paw and peered at it. ‘Someone’s come this way before, look those branches have been broken too and… ‘ reaching up he pulled at something. ‘Blonde fur! It’s a piece of blonde fur! Come on Grigs she went this way! I need to climb up, stand here so I can reach.’
‘I don’t like you standing on my back!’ grumbled Grigs ‘and Abigail won’t like bits of her fur being in that hedge.’
Patrick clambered up over the Tiger and reached up to the window. With a grunt he pulled himself up. ‘I’m up now, so for once, bounce. Come on up onto the windowsill.’
The tigers head appeared and then disappeared.
‘Higher Grigs! Bounce higher!’
‘It’s a very small thing to bounce on!’ said Grigs. He bounced again. Then again.
Finally they were both on the window sill and Patrick peered inside. The room was huge, lit by a warm fire with red seats and cushions everywhere. And curled on one of them, fast asleep, a plate of cakes next to her was…. ‘Abigail!’ shouted the polar crossly, pushing open the window and jumping down, ‘what do you think you’re doing we’ve been looking everywhere for you!’
Abigail opened her eyes wide and sat up. ‘Patrick! Grigs! You found me!’ Pushing the blanket aside she jumped down and ran towards them. She slowed and cleared her throat. ‘Not that I was worried you know,’ she added casually, ‘I am a very brave bear.’
Sighing, Patrick nodded as Grigs bounded over towards them. ‘Of course you are Abigail, but it’s nice to see you, I’m so glad we’ve found you, we were very worried when you got on that train.’
There was a crackle from the headphones. ‘You wouldn’t have found her without me,’ said Preston. ‘definetly not.’
Behind them the door opened and turning round Abigail waved happily.
‘What’s happening?’ asked Preston through the headphones, ‘why’s it gone quiet? What are you doing?’
‘It’s the, um.. it’s the Queen actually,’ said Patrick slowly, ‘and she appears to be talking to Abigail.’