again and two years to the day, another letter made its way to the James’s farm.
and his friends had come to accept their permanent, peaceful, cosy
and secure lifestyle; anything else was merely an interruption.
a happy variety of families and friends plodded around the family zoo, as it was
now appropriately referred to, admiring the residents: Tom, the border collie;
Silver and Gold, the mice; Slippery Sally, the 30-foot python; Baaabra, the
black sheep; Reddy, the kangaroo (who never returned home to his parents); Mr
and Mrs Emu and their daughter Emily; Girly, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne,
the kookaburras; and of course, Fredrick, the fattest fox in the world, now
joined by his wife Frederica and the chubby, not-so-little foxes; Skunky, the
skunk; Lagarto, the alligator; Ana Conda, the anaconda; Jack and Jill, the
It was a
beautiful but dry day on the farm. The animals spent their time wandering freely
with Tom always nearby and of course, keeping watch on his friends, but on this
occasion he was comfortably stretched out on the verandah soaking up the peace
and quiet and enjoying the warm sun on his body with Sasha by his side, who was
engrossed in a magazine and sipping a cup of tea.
there was no truck racing up the driveway like on the previous occasions. Mike
drove slowly up the gravel track and parked in front of the porch. Casually he
stepped out and sat on the step near Tom.
pick up the mail?” Sasha asked.
about to go through them. There’s a letter from May Waterhouse who would like us
to meet her for lunch at the club next week, and the usual bills — and —”
what?” Sasha asked.
letter from Iceland.”
“Iceland?” Sasha repeated.
know anyone in Iceland?”
“No — let
me read on. ‘This is an invitation for Mr and Mrs James and Francis to kindly
join us in the opening ceremony of our new racecourse in Reykjavik, Iceland. We
will be very happy to welcome you at Keflavik International Airport and from
there you will be taken to your hotel, whilst Francis is taken to our luxury
stables. This invitation is extended to friends and family at our expense’.”
They want our friends to attend as well?” Sasha surprisingly reacted.
opened his eyes and one ear pricked up. Am I hearing things? he thought,
and carefully listened.
“Apparently they have followed Francis through his journey from the Melbourne
Cup, England and South America.”
referring to our friends,” Sasha said eagerly, “aren’t they?”
believe so,” replied Mike.
goodness for that,” Sasha sighed with relief. “When do we leave?”
weeks tomorrow,” Mike replied.
I’m going to enjoy this trip. I’ve never been to Iceland before, and hopefully,
we’ll be going on our own without any surprises,” Sasha hinted, hoping Tom would
take that on board.
also suggest we take lots of warm clothes as it’s winter over there,” Mike
Mike and Sasha planned for their trip, Tom casually rose and wandered off
discreetly. He went to Mr Emu first to discuss the matter, privately.
you two talking about?” a nosy Fredrick interrupted.
that concerns you,” Mr Emu voiced.
“Everything concerns me, I like to keep abreast of things,” Fredrick retorted,
with his natural audio system stretched to its fullest extent.
and Tom thought Francis had a right to know first. Wasting no time they set off
to find their friend, followed closely by Fredrick.
Francis, where are you?” Tom barked.
Francis isn’t here,” Slippery Sally replied.
he?” Mr Emu asked anxiously.
the slippery dip with Silver and Gold,” replied Slippery Sally.
have a slippery dip,” Tom recalled.
we do now. Just go to the lake.”
headed over to the lake only to find the anaconda stretched out to his full
capacity with humps at intervals to form a dip, and waiting at the other end
with his mouth wide open was Lagarto, ready to catch them if they fell off.
guys, what on earth are you doing?” Tom asked, amused.
Tom,” Francis called. Starting at the top of Ana Conda’s head he slipped up and
down on the snake’s slippery scaly body and landed on his bottom at the end of
turn, our turn! Watch, Tom and Mr Emu,” Silver and Gold pleaded, screaming with
delight as they bounced up and down and ending in Lagarto’s mouth.
go, Tom?” said Francis with excitement.
time, Francis. Right now we have to talk to you in private,” Tom explained.
serious.” Francis walked slowly towards his friends.
huddled together to inform Francis of his trip to Iceland, but fox media
couldn’t contain himself after hearing the news and ran off to tell everyone to
meet him in the stables.
right, what’s so important that you couldn’t wait to tell us?” Girly blurted.
Francis, we’re all going away to Iceland,” Fredrick informed them.
Where did you hear such nonsense?” Mrs Emu asked.
did. Why would Tom tell you and not us?” Girly questioned.
didn’t actually tell me,” Fredrick frowned.
it, anything for attention,” was Girly’s contemptuous reply.
really want to know, I overheard them talking privately,” Fredrick confessed.
“Thaaaaaaat’s just as baaaaaaad. And rude,” Baaabra added.
Tom, Francis, Mr Emu, Silver and Gold, Lagarto and Ana Conda entered the
you’re all here. I have some news for you,” Tom announced.
— Fredrick just told us we’re all going to Iceland,” Girly said, crossing her
wings and sneering at Fredrick. “He overheard you talking and couldn’t wait to
should listen more carefully next time, because we are not going
anywhere, only Francis,” Mr Emu revealed.
Iceland?” Emily asked.
away, near the North Pole, where it’s so cold it can freeze your butt off,” Tom
I’m not going then,” stated Francis strongly. “I’ve lost my two legs, I can’t
afford to lose my butt as well.”
it’s just a figure of speech,” Mrs Emu soothed.
case I’m definitely not going,” Fredrick complained.
“Gooooood, you haven’t beeeeeeen invited anywaaaaaay,” Baaabra replied.
said before, none of us have been invited,” Tom repeated firmly.
doesn’t mean anything. It’s never stopped us before,” Emily recalled.
racing?” Francis asked.
know. I do know you’re a guest at the opening of a new race course,” said Tom.
think I want to go and leave all my family and friends behind,” a saddened
be a good education and adventure for you in another strange world,” Altiyan
not be there in body, but we’ll be there in spirit,” Diva said, embracing her
think, yoooooou can have sooooooo much fun in the snooooow,” Baaabra encouraged.
want to play in the snow,” Emily begged.
go to Thredbo, in Sydney’s Snowy Mountains, and play in the snow there,”
Fredrick suggested coldly. “I’m sure Sydney will fly with you and visit his
birthplace, ha ha.”
not funny. I want to go with Francis,” Emily begged.
to go as well,” Reddy said.
I,” Lagarto agreed.
Two Plus Two followed.
soon they all made a point of wanting to go.
ordered Tom firmly. “Sasha has made it quite clear she doesn’t want any
surprises, and that’s it. Discussion over.” Tom made his point and walked away,