Abigail woke up very early. The sun was shining and wandering downstairs and through the kitchen, she pushed open the door to the garden. A breeze blew the fur back from her face and she took a deep breath. The grass was still damp and cool and she wriggled her paws into it and sighed happily. It was so nice and quiet out here.
‘WHAT ARE WE DOING?’
Abigail jumped right up into the air and landing hard on her paws, fell over. ‘Grigs don’t creep up like that and don’t shout!’
‘Yes you did!’ she said crossly, clambering up and brushing damp grass off of her fur, ‘you crept right up and now I’m all wet.’ Turning her back on him she walked away, stamping her paws down hard. She glanced over her shoulder. The tiger was still standing on the path, staring at the grass with his head down and ears drooping. He did look a bit sad. Abigail paused. She wasn’t an unkind bear, perhaps he hadn’t really meant to scare her. She sighed again. ‘Come on Grigs, let’s go and have some breakfast.’
His ears lifted. ‘Well I could eat a little something.’ He followed her up the path. Then bounced slightly.
Sitting at the table, Abigail looked at her glass of orange juice. She liked orange juice, it was a nice bright colour and she was sure that made it taste better. Lifting up her paw she tilted the glass and looked inside. There was a splashing sound. ‘Ops.’ Orange juice dribbled down over the table and onto the floor.
‘Good morning,’ said Patrick, padding into the kitchen.
‘Careful,’ warned Abigail, ‘watch out for the… oh’
Below her the polar stood in a sticky lake of orange. Holding up a paw he looked at it.
‘Orange juice,’ said Abigail helpfully, ‘it’s a bit sticky.’ She got down from the table quickly. ‘I’ll go and see if Preston is up, it’s getting a bit late. Grigs is here.’ She hurried out of the kitchen without looking back.
Standing at the top of the stairs she peered around the door. Patrick’s cousin Preston had definitely said he had things to do, but he didn’t seem to be doing them yet. He seemed a very secretive bear. He hadn’t even come down to breakfast. She cleared her throat. ‘Hello?’
Preston jumped and glanced down suspiciously at the floor. ‘You haven’t brought those marbles with you again have you? They were very dangerous when I trod on them.’
‘Oh don’t worry,’ said Abigail, ‘you didn’t break any of them.’
Preston looked pointedly at the bandage on his leg. Abigail ignored him.
Beside the polar was a map and a big white piece of paper with a lot of creases in it and a lot of very small numbers.
‘What’s that?’ asked Abigail curiously, she noticed a small bag next to it, ‘and what’s in that bag, where are you going?’
Quickly, Preston pulled the bag towards him. ‘I’m going out with Patrick, there’s nothing in there and anyway it’s none of your business.’ He carefully put the map and paper into the bag, adding a pencil. ‘I’d better get some breakfast before we go.’
Abigail smiled brightly. ‘Off you go then,’ she said, ‘I’m going to stay in my room today, I’m not going out at all.’
Watching carefully from her bedroom window she saw the front door open. Patrick and Preston appeared on the path. Both were carrying bags. Quickly she jumped down and slid along the shiny bannister at the side of the stairs. Opening the door, she could just see two small white furry shapes in the distance under the hedge and she hurried after them.
After a while, Abigail was tired, hot and covered in leaves. Where on earth were they going? They were both very small, it was easy for them to walk under the hedge, but not for her. She pulled a twig out of her ear and threw it over her shoulder.
Preston was now dragging his bag behind him. ‘We need to get there soon Patrick, my sandwiches are getting warm, and we want to get a nice long list.’
Patrick nodded. ‘We’re almost there, if we climb up the fence behind the tree, we can sit on the top and no one will see us.’ There was a load whooshing noise. ‘10.15, Glasgow to London.’
Abigail, paused, one paw in the air. Glasgow to London? What on earth did that mean? Was that where they were going? Where was Glasgow and London and what was that noise? Ahead of her both polar bears were already climbing a tall tree by a brown fence. Creeping through the long grass she looked around. There was a small bush nearby, covered in yellow flowers, if she climbed up inside it, she might be able to see what they were doing. It was quite thick but she was a very determined bear and pushing the branches aside she began to climb.
Patrick and Polar were sitting on top of a wide wooden fence. Spread out between them was a neat blue cloth and some sandwiches. Abigails nose twitched. She was very hungry. Breakfast had been ages ago. Patrick had a sardine sandwich in one paw and a pencil in the other. There was a noise in the distance. ‘Hold on, Manchester coming.’ Both polars dug their claws into the fence and Preston held down the blue cloth. The noise got louder. Suddenly a huge red train swept around the corner, rushing towards them. There was a loud roar and Abigail put her paws over her ears. The branch she was on wobbled and she grabbed wildly at the fence. All of her fur blew back hard from her face as the train shot past below them and she closed her eyes, ‘Did you get that Patrick?’ asked Preston excitedly, ‘write it down quickly there will be another one along soon.’
‘What are you doing!’ Abigail shouted, clinging to the fence, her back paws still in the bush. ‘Write what down and what was that? Was that a train? It makes a really loud noise!’
‘Abigail did you follow us?!’
‘Of course I did,’ she snapped, ‘I wanted to know what you were doing.’ She pulled herself up onto the fence, yellow flowers stuck in her fur.
Patrick looked a bit embarrassed and he cleared his throat. ‘Well… Whenever Preston comes to stay we always do this, it’s good fun. Some of the trains actually stop here, right below us.’
‘Fun? Looking at trains?’ asked Abigail, ‘and writing them down on a list? Really? Why?’ She stood up on her paws and wobbled.
‘Careful Abigail,’ warned Patrick. ‘Hold on tight.’ There was a noise in the distance.
Everything seemed to happen at once. One moment Abigail was standing on the fence, the next moment she wasn’t. The blue sky disappeared and turned green as she slid upside down through the long grass. ‘Whoooooaaaa…’ It was very steep. And very slippy. With a thud she stopped, stuck half way down against a low wall. On the other side of the wall was a big red train, right next to her. It had stopped too. It was very shiny and she reached out a paw. Looking up she could see Patrick and Preston on the fence above.
Preston was standing right in the middle of his sandwich, he didn’t seem to have noticed and Patrick was running up and down. ‘Abigail! Are you all right? Climb back up here right now, come on quickly!’
Abigail looked up at the train beside her. She wondered what it was like inside. There was a window open above her that she was sure she could reach.
‘NO ABIGAIL, come back up here!’ shouted Patrick, ‘don’t get on the train!’
Abigail was already climbing through the window. She’d just have a little look around. It was all blue inside too. There was a jolt. The train moved forward. She looked back up at the window and the train jolted again. Perhaps this hadn’t been such a good idea… She waved at Patrick and Polar. ‘Don’t worry, I’m…going on an adventure.’ The train began to move faster. Both polar bears got smaller and smaller. She swallowed hard. Now they were just two tiny white shapes. They were waving wildly. She waved back, ‘I’m a very brave bear!’ she shouted. ‘Very!’ she said firmly to herself.
It was very quiet on top of the fence. Patrick stared after the train. ‘London Victoria,’ said Preston, shaking the sandwich off of his foot. ‘Next stop Windsor.’ He patted Patrick awkwardly on the back and picked up his bag. ‘Come on. We’d better get going if we’re going to get her back…’