Story continues from yesterday:
In a few short minutes Luke and Emma were crossing the meadow side by side, heading for the woods. Luke chatted away non-stop while Emma swished her tail and listened contentedly.
“Truth is Emma,” he explained, “I’d love to take you home with me but I really don’t think me dad’d let me. Honestly, you should ‘ave ‘eard the fuss ‘e made over a couple o’ rabbits.”
On the other side of the wood was another meadow, even more beautiful, with trees here and there and, to Luke’s delight, something else.
“Ooh quick Emma, over here! It looks like a lake or somethin’!”
Luke rushed ahead laughing and calling her to follow. Cautiously, she did. It was such a lovely hot day that Luke couldn’t resist getting into the clear, cool water.
“Come on, it’s ok, it’s not deep,” he called, “come in with me, it’s fun!”
Emma tentatively dipped her trunk into the water and had a good long drink. Luke grinned.
“Yeah, that’s it! Now come all the way in and play with me.”
He laughed and sloshed about and splashed her so that soon she wanted to join in. She reached out her trunk to him and he put his hand out to her and she trod heavily, slowly, down into the lake. She drew up a big trunk full of water and showered it all over herself, and Luke. She splashed and she played and felt free. And so did Luke. It was just the best afternoon.
When they got out of the water Emma laid down on the warm grass to be dried by the sun, and Luke sat with her, leaning against her chest. Eventually, reluctantly, he looked at his watch. 4.32.
“I have to go now,” he told her sadly, “but I will come back if I can.”
He didn’t know when that might be.
“You do like it here don’t you?”
He knew she must and was satisfied his outlawing had paid off again – she’d be much happier here than in that concrete enclosure. She’d have freedom; she’d have space; he only wished she wouldn’t be on her own.
“There’s prob’ly rabbits here,” he told her, “rabbits make good friends. The thing with rabbits is, you ‘ave to be patient. They might seem a bit stand-offish at first but once they get to know you they’re very friendly.”
He stood up and said goodbye, confident she’d understood.
He slipped back in to the zoo and locked the gate so that everything, well, almost everything, was as he’d found it. He decided it would be a good idea to hang on to the keys – he’d need them next time he visited Emma.
It was 4.57 when he arrived at the coach so he was in good time for Mrs Tebbut’s prompt 5pm departure, but for some reason she was crosser than he’d ever seen her.
“Luke Walker! Do you have any idea what you’ve put us through? You have disrupted the day for the whole class! You are a selfish, thoughtless child and I will be sending a letter home to your parents!”
“For what?” thought Luke.
Unbeknown to Luke, seven months later, in a national newspaper:
THE DAILY NEWS
Elephant Finds Sanctuary At Last
Seven months after the 24-hour disappearance of the lonely elephant at Dillingsgate Zoo, she has been found a place at The Elephant Sanctuary. ‘Companions for Nelly’ campaign organiser, Joanne Russell said she cannot adequately express her joy at today’s outcome.
“We can only thank God for bringing to light Nelly’s lonely existence by causing her to wander off by herself and ignite a media storm. If it hadn’t been for the zoo’s mishap of leaving her gate open, the world might never have been aware of her miserable solitary confinement.”
Seven months ago the alarm was raised at Dillingsgate zoo when keepers discovered that Nelly was missing. She was found the following day in neighbouring woodlands but not before the news was reported in local, national and international media. This put the spotlight on conditions in which Nelly was kept.
“Elephants are very social animals,” said Ms Russell, “and it was heartbreaking to learn that Nelly had been without any companionship of her own kind for almost twenty years.”
Thanks to the overwhelming public support for Ms Russell’s campaign, Nelly has now been found a place at the award winning Elephant Sanctuary where she will be able to live out her days in natural surroundings in the company of her own kind.
You can read the whole of Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er Chapter 2 here.
Chapter 3 coming to this site soon!
Want it now? No problem – just order the paperback from Amazon! (It’s got the first eight chapters) 😀