Here I Am
‘Here I am! Here I am!’ thinks Spotty, a small handsome baby giraffe. Mother is looking at him and listening to him. Of course, he can’t talk, but she understands his every word.
‘Who are you?’ Spotty asks.
‘I’m your mum,’ she answers.
‘My mum?’ he asks. ‘Who is mum?’
‘Mum is your good friend. Mum is always with you. And you are Spotty, my son.’
‘Oh, great!’ Spotty says and smiles to Mother.
‘How are you?’ Mother asks.
‘I’m hungry,’ Spotty answers.
‘Don’t worry. I’m not only your friend. I’m your dining room, too. I’ve got a lot of nice milk for you. Stand under me and drink,’ she says. Spotty drinks and drinks. The milk is warm and tasty. And it never ends. Now he isn’t hungry anymore.
Mother opens her mouth, and Spotty can see a long thick thing inside.
‘What’s that?’ he asks.
‘It’s my tongue,’ Mother answers. ‘Why is it so long?’
‘Because we are giraffes. I think only giraffes have got very long tongues!’ Mother says.
‘Are there many giraffes, or are there only you and me?’ Spotty asks.
Mother smiles. ‘Of course, there are a lot of giraffes. Soon we can visit them. But now I must teach you to walk and run.’
Spotty gets up and starts walking.
‘What a clever baby I have got!’ Mother laughs. ‘Now try to run.’ Spotty tries but falls down. ‘I’ve got too many legs,’ he says. ‘They can’t run all together.’
‘Then tell them to run in turn,’ says Mother. ‘First your left legs run, then your right ones.’
‘Which of them are left?’ Spotty asks.
‘Can you hear a strange beat inside your body?’
Spotty listens. ‘Yes, it’s here.’
‘This is your heart. It’s on the left. Your left legs are on the left, too,’ says Mother.
‘Why have I got four legs and only one heart?’ Spotty asks. ‘And why is it on the left?’
‘Nobody knows. But I think you can’t run with one leg, and four hearts must be too noisy.’
Spotty looks in his mum’s eyes. They are big and clever, and they are very kind.
‘Let’s play, son,’ she says.
They start walking to a tall tree. Spotty can’t walk fast, but Mother is walking behind him. When they come to the tree, Spotty cries, ‘I’m the first!’
He is happy.
Hi! My name is Jack. I am a boy and I am twelve. I live with my parents in Africa. My parents are scientists. They know a lot about African animals.
I have got a sister. Her name is Jill. She is twenty-three. Jill doesn’t live with us. She lives with her husband, Bill. I don’t like Bill. If Jill wants something, Bill always does it. Sometimes these are very silly or bad things.
One day I am visiting my sister and her husband. We are having coffee when suddenly she says, ‘Bill, I want to have a pet giraffe.’
Bill’s eyes get very big. He hasn’t got a face now, only eyes.
‘Yes, a pet giraffe,’ repeats my sister, ‘it can live in the hall. Our hall is very big.’
Bill’s eyes get normal and he says, ‘OK, dear, I think I can get you a giraffe.’
‘Where do you want to get it?’ I ask him.
‘In the grasslands, of course,’ he answers. ‘We can’t buy a giraffe. We haven’t got much money.’
‘You mustn’t do that!’ I cry. ‘You can have serious problems with the police!’
‘Why? I can find a stray cat or a stray dog in the street. Why can’t I find a stray giraffe?’
I look at Bill. Sometimes he is very silly, and it is all because of my sister.
‘Jack, don’t tell our parents about it,’ Jill asks, ‘please!’ and she smiles at me.
‘I think you can’t hide a giraffe in the house,’ I say. I stand up, say goodbye to them and walk to the door. But suddenly I have an idea.
‘Bill, can you take me with you? I can help you to catch the giraffe.’
‘Great!’ says Bill. ‘Tomorrow at six o’clock in the morning.’
This night I can’t sleep. I am thinking about my bad sister and silly Bill. I am thinking about that poor giraffe, too. Giraffes must live in the grasslands. They are tall, big and strong, and they must walk free! They must have a lot of trees around. They love eating fresh leaves. And if people want to look at them, they can watch a film or go on a safari. It is very wrong to catch giraffes and put them in cages or houses.
Then I am not thinking any-more. I am sleeping.
My alarm clock rings. I wake up. It is sunny and hot. I am happy. It is the first day of the summer holidays. I am free. I can swim or play football.
Suddenly I remember my sister and her silly husband. They want to have a pet giraffe. Today Bill is going to the grasslands. He wants to catch a nice baby giraffe. And I am going with him. I hope he can’t catch it.
I look at the clock. It is six o’clock. My parents are at work. I get up, put on my shorts and a T-shirt. They are bright red. I don’t often wear red, but today this colour can help me. Dad says giraffes can see some bright colours. I hope they can see the red colour. I put on a red cap, open the door and go out.
I run to Bill and Jill’s house. When I am at their door, Bill comes out. He is wearing a brown shirt and brown shorts. He has got a green cap on his head and green gloves on his hands. He has got a big green bag on his back. He thinks he looks like a small tree with four green leaves.
‘A nice tree!’ I say.
‘Where?’ Bill asks.
‘Opposite me, of course,’ I say.
‘Aha, I’m very clever!’ Bill says and smiles.
Suddenly Bill stops smiling. He is looking at my red costume.
‘Why are you wearing red?’ he asks. ‘You don’t look like a tree.’
‘But I’m not a tree,’ I say. ‘I’m the red light. What do you do when you see the red light in the street?’
‘I stop,’ Bill says.
‘I stop too,’ I say. ‘Everyone stops: men and women, boys and girls, cats and dogs, and, of course, giraffes.’
‘You are great!’ Bill cries and smiles at me again.
The Hunt Starts
We walk and walk. No! Bill is walking, and I am having fun. I look around and see a lot of funny insects and small animals. Sometimes I see snakes, but 1 am not afraid of them. They get angry only if you hurt them or come too close. And I only look at them. Oh, there is a beautiful one! It is sleeping and shining in the sun. It looks like silver rings one around the other. When they sleep, they are so nice!
What’s the matter? Bill isn’t walking anymore. He is standing and looking at some big animals far away. I look at them too. They are giraffes. They are great! Some giraffes are walking and shaking their long necks. The others are standing next to trees and eating leaves.
Bill starts walking again. He opens his green bag and takes out a long thick rope. The rope has got a big loop at the end.
My heart stops beating. I am so sorry for those beautiful animals. I must do something! But I am only twelve, and Bill is twenty-five.
Suddenly I can see a small baby giraffe. I think it is a boy. He is very young. He can’t run fast. His mother is looking at him with love. She looks very happy and proud. I understand her. She has got a great baby. Her son is tall and his skin has got dark brown spots. They look like squares with white lines around. My dad says there are many different kinds of giraffe. Here in East Africa we have three kinds. This kind is my favourites. Oh, I have got a name for this nice baby. It is Spotty.
Spotty is walking with his mum. He is one or two weeks because they are not walking with other giraffes. He is too young for that.
I look at Bill. Oh no! He is looking at my Spotty and smiling. He likes him, too. Now he starts walking to the mum and her baby.
I hope giraffes are clever animals. This small walking thing (Bill) doesn’t look like a tree. Trees are tall and smell nice.
But Bill isn’t so silly. He stops and breaks off some small twigs with juicy green leaves. Oh, he is holding a lot of twigs. Now he smells nice for giraffes.
He walks on, and I walk behind him. I think and think how I can stop him. Suddenly I have an idea. You know, I am very good at making animal sounds. I put my hands to my mouth and make a terrible lion ‘ROAR!’
Bill jumps up, drops his twig sand turns round fast. I look afraid, too.
‘There’s a lion here!’ he cries.
He is shaking. His face is white.
He looks at a tall tree. ‘Jack, we must climb a tree,’ he says. That tree hasn’t got low branches. So I can’t understand how we can climb it. But Bill can! He is on top of the tree in a second. Wow! He is very strong!
Now Bill is sitting in the tree and looking around. ‘Jack, come here!’ he cries.
But I don’t want to climb a tree. It is too hot. ‘Are there any lions?’ I ask.
‘I can’t see any!’ he cries. But Bill is too afraid to climb down.
I’m looking at him. He looks like a thick branch with five green leaves. It is interesting how long he can sit in a tree.
I sit down on the grass. It is very hot, but I am under a tree. It is great here. Now I can have a rest.
Spotty and his mum are going to Bill’s tree. They are next to it now. The mother starts eating leaves on the tree. I can see her tongue. It is so long! It is half a metre long. Then I look at Bill. He is shaking. Oh no! He is afraid of Spotty’s mum! Or is he afraid of her big tongue? Bill hides in the leaves. But Spotty’s mum eats very fast. Soon there are no leaves on the tree, and Bill can’t hide in them. He looks down. He wants to jump. Never! I open my mouth and make a terrible ‘ROAR!’ again.
Bill’s head is in his shoulders now. He doesn’t want to jump down anymore. The mother’s tongue is next to Bill. First, it licks his head. Then it licks his face and ears. I think Bill is very clean now. Then Spotty’s mum puts her tongue away and looks at Bill. He is wet, and he is afraid, too. Suddenly he smiles at the mother. She looks very surprised. It is the first time a tree smiles at her. She gets angry. Oh no! She starts shaking the tree with her horns and neck. Poor Bill! He is holding by the branches, but the mother is very strong. Now I am afraid too. If Bill falls down, he can break his neck.
Suddenly Spotty puts his nose to his mum. He is thirsty. He wants his milk. So she stops shaking the tree and licks Spotty. Bill climbs down the tree very fast and runs to me. He hides behind my tree. He looks ugly but happy. ‘Oh Jack! This mother giraffe is terrible!’ he cries. I think he is terrible, but I don’t say it to him. I am looking at my giraffes. They are eating. The mother is four metres tall. She needs a lot of leaves to be so big. And Spotty needs a lot of milk to be like his mum. Eat, dear Spotty, eat and grow fast. Then no silly Bill can catch you.
Do You Like Insects?
I am watching Spotty. He is so cute! He isn’t drinking milk anymore. He is jumping. He wants to play. Now I can see a shadow. It is the shadow of a rope with a loop. Bill is holding it and coming to the giraffes. He is hiding behind every bush. He is very slow. Suddenly Spotty’s mum starts running. Spotty runs with her. Soon they are far from Bill and me. I look at Bill. He isn’t hiding anymore. He is angry. He can’t catch them again.
I climb a tree and look around. I can see my giraffes. They are running and playing. They look so funny now! But they are running in a circle. Soon they are coming back. They are close again.
‘Look,’ Bill says. ‘There are small birds on the mother and her baby. Do birds live on giraffes?’
‘Of course, they don’t,’ I say. ‘They eat on giraffes. Giraffes are their dining room.’
‘How terrible!’ Bill cries. ‘I don’t want to be somebody’s dining room!’
‘Have you got insects in your hair?’ I ask.
‘Insects in my hair?’ Bill looks afraid and puts his fingers in his hair.
‘Those birds eat insects. They are their favourite food,’ I say.
‘Are there insects on giraffes?’ Bill asks. He looks surprised.
‘Yes, there are a lot of them. When you catch the baby and take it home, you can have a lot of insects too. So, it’s a good idea to take three birds with you. One for the baby and two for Jill and you.’
‘But Jill doesn’t like birds,’ Bill says.
‘Then I hope she likes insects,’ I saw.
‘No!’ Bill cries. ‘She doesn’t!’
‘If Jill likes the giraffe, she must like its insects. There are no giraffes without insects on them.’
Bill starts thinking. ‘Look, Jack, I can wash our giraffe in the bathroom.’
‘In Jill’s bathroom?’ I laugh. ‘Are you crazy?’
Bill looks at me and thinks again. ‘Then I can wash it in the garden or take it to the lake.’
‘You can have a lot of problems with that baby,’ I say. I am looking at him, and he is looking at me. Poor Bill! He loves my sister. He is ready to do everything for her. Birds can’t change it. Even terrible insects can’t change it.
A Strange Animal
Now Bill does a strange thing. He ties a long branch to the back of his neck and head. Then he puts his hands on the grass. Now he has got four legs and a long neck. But there is no head on that neck, only some twigs.
I think Spotty’s mum is very clever. She can’t make friends with a giraffe with twigs instead of a head. But Bill can’t understand that. He hasn’t got a head now, and he can’t think.
Spotty and Mother are walking. Suddenly they see two big giraffes. They are very tall. They are standing together and hitting each other with their necks.
‘What are they doing?’ asks Spotty. ‘Is it a game?’
‘They’re fighting,’ Mother says.
‘Is it good or bad?’ asks Spotty.
‘All big giraffes sometimes fight,’ Mother says.
‘Stand and look. And I must eat, I’m very hungry.’ So Mother starts eating acacia leaves. They are giraffes’ favourite food. And Spotty is looking at the big giraffes.
They fight and fight. Now they are very tired. Suddenly one giraffe turns and walks away. He looks sad. The other giraffe looks very proud. He goes to a beautiful lady giraffe. ‘Look at me!’ he says. ‘I’m so strong! My neck is so long! My spots are so dark! I’m a cool boy! And you’re a cool girl! Let’s be together!’
But the lady giraffe doesn’t look at him. She eats and eats. So the big giraffe gets very sad and goes away.
‘Mum, that lady giraffe is silly,’ Spotty says. ‘When I grow up, I don’t want to fight for girls. I have my lady giraffe. It’s you!’ and he licks Mother.
‘Let’s wait and see,’ Mother smiles.
Suddenly she stops smiling. She is looking at something. Spotty looks at it too. There is a strange animal there.
‘What’s that?’ asks Spotty.
‘I don’t know,’ Mother answers. ‘It’s a very strange animal. Trees grow out of its neck.’
‘I’m afraid,’ cries Spotty.
‘You are right. Never come up to strange animals. Even if your favourite food grows out of them.’
‘Let’s run away!’ says Spotty. Spotty and Mother run very fast.
Spotty’s mum is thirsty. I know that because she is going to a waterhole. The waterhole is big, but there is a lot of mud around it. It is very bad for giraffes. They can fall in the mud and often can’t get up. Then they die there.
So I am very afraid for Spotty and his mum. But Bill is happy. ‘Great!’ he cries. ‘When they are in the mud, we can catch the baby.’ Again he takes the rope in his hands and goes to the waterhole.
I can’t stop Spotty’s mum. She is in the mud now. But she says something to Spotty because he doesn’t go after her. He walks around the mud.
Now the mother stops. She puts her legs far from each other. Then she puts her neck down. Now her mouth can get the water. She looks very funny when she is drinking like that.
‘It’s time to catch the baby!’ Bill says. ‘His mum can’t help him.’
I don’t know what to do, but I must do something. So I say:
‘Who knows? She is strong and runs fast. Let’s catch her first.’ Bill looks at the mother and then at a big tree next to the mud. ‘You are right. We should tie her to that tree,’ he says.
Bill gets the rope and we come up to the mud. Bill wants to throw the loop around the mother’s neck, but I say, ‘The rope is too short. You must stand in the mud.’ Bill looks at the rope and then at Spotty’s mum. He walks into the mud.
‘Now you stay here,’ I say. ‘I must run round and stand opposite her. Remember? I’m the red light.’
‘Oh, I see,’ Bill says. ‘Jack, you are cool!’
So I run around the waterhole and stand opposite Spotty’s mum. I hope she can see me. Yes, she can! She stops drinking and looks at me. She can see my red colour! She doesn’t like it. She turns her neck to look at Spotty. At this moment Bill throws the rope.
In the Mud
Oh no! The loop is around the mother’s neck. But she is very strong. She doesn’t fall. She starts turning her neck left and right.
Bill is holding the rope, but he can’t stand anymore. He falls into the mud. The mother starts turning her body.
‘Help me, Jack! I can’t swim!’ cries Bill.
‘Don’t be sad!’ I cry. ‘Nobody can swim in the mud! It’s normal’ But Bill is sad. He is sitting in the mud. He is dirty.
‘I’m very dirty!’ he cries.
‘Don’t be sad!’ I repeat. ‘You can’t be clean in the mud! You must be dirty! It’s normal.’
At that moment Spotty’s mum stops turning her neck. She starts walking to Bill.
‘Bill!’ I cry, ‘the mother is going to you! I don’t think she wants to make friends with you. Drop the rope and get out!’
Bill looks at Spotty’s mum. He is afraid. He drops the rope and wants to run, but he can’t. Now I am afraid for Bill. ‘Go under the mud!’ I cry. Bill does so. Now the mother can’t see him. She walks out of the mud. Spotty runs to her.
They go to an acacia. The mother puts her long neck in the tree. She turns her head left and right. The acacia has got a lot of thorns, but they never hurt giraffes.
Now the loop is around many thorns. It gets big, and then very big. Soon Spotty’s mum takes her head out of it. She is free!
‘Hooray!’ I cry. At that moment I can see Bill’s head above the mud. He is looking at me. ‘Hooray! Hooray!’ I repeat. ‘You are here! You are OK!’
‘I’m not OK,’ says Bill. ‘I haven’t got my shorts anymore. They are there,’ and he looks down at the mud.
‘Oh, mummy, you are free!’ cries Spotty. He is very happy.
‘Yes, I am. Let’s run away from here. It’s that strange animal again.’ They start running.
‘Is it a crocodile?’ asks Spotty.
‘It can be because it goes under the mud,’ says Mother. ‘But crocodiles haven’t got long thin tongues. And they don’t catch animals with their tongues.’
‘I know! I know!’ cries Spotty. ‘This is a very old crocodile. It has got no teeth. That’s why it catches animals with its tongue.’
‘I think you are right, my clever boy,’ smiles Mother.
Fishing for Shorts
Bill and I are in the mud. We are looking for Bill’s shorts. There are some interesting things in the mud. There is a ball, a shoe and two socks. Why are they here? I think Bill isn’t the first man who gets in this mud.
‘A nice collection!’ I say. ‘You can take these socks instead of your shorts.’
‘But I don’t need socks!’ cries Bill.
‘Why?’ I ask. ‘Look! I think they are green when they are clean. They match your gloves.’
‘Stop it, Jack,’ says Bill. He is angry now. ‘If you like these socks, you can take them. I need my shorts.’
Bill is very sad. But I am very happy. We are not going after the giraffes. We are staying here. We must find his shorts.
I look at Spotty and his mum. They aren’t very far. They are eating again.
‘Look, Jack!’ Bill says. ‘Those terrible animals are eating! Eating again! And I’m hungry like a wolf!
I’m dirty, too! And I haven’t got my shorts!’
Suddenly I can feel something in the mud. I take it out. They are Bill’s shorts. Bill isn’t looking at me. So I put them back in the mud and sit down on them.
‘Can you feel anything?’ asks Bill. He is on his hands and knees in the mud.
‘No,’ I answer. ‘Nothing.’
‘Why are you sitting and doing nothing?’ Bill is angry again. ‘Help me!’
I stand on my hands and knees. Bill is next to me now. I look at my giraffes again. Hooray! Now they are far away. And they are close to other giraffes with their babies. They all look like Spotty and his mum. Bill can’t catch Spotty now. He must be afraid of so many giraffes together. I take his shorts out of the mud. ‘Look, Bill, are they yours?’ I ask.
Bill is very happy. ‘Thank you, Jack! You are a good friend,’ he smiles. Bill tries to put on his shorts. But they are too wet and dirty.
‘What can I do?’ he asks.
‘I think we should go home and wash our clothes,’ I say.
At that moment we can hear a terrible noise from the sky. We look up. The sky is very black. Then it starts raining.
‘Yes!!!’ cries Bill. He is very happy. But I am very sad.
‘No,’ I say. Bill can’t hear me because the rain is too noisy.
Too Many Babies
When the rain stops, we are wet but clean. Bill is very happy. He starts singing:
‘Where are you, giraffes? I have got green gloves on my strong big hands to catch you, my friends!’
‘You’ve got too many friends,’ I say. ‘Look there.’
Bill looks and sees eight or ten giraffes. Some of them are babies. Some big giraffes are sleeping. Their heads are next to their tales. My dog sleeps like that.
‘Look!’ cries Bill. ‘All the big giraffes are sleeping. We can catch the baby.’
‘Not all,’ I say. ‘The big giraffe on the left isn’t sleeping. It is on guard.’
‘It can’t be,’ Bill says. ‘Giraffes are silly animals.’
‘OK,’ I say. ‘Then try to catch Spotty.’
‘Who is Spotty?’ asks Bill.
‘Our baby giraffe,’ I answer. ‘Only which is Spotty?’
‘The one next to the bushes,’ says Bill. ‘No, the one behind that tall tree.’
There are five baby giraffes. Bill looks and looks.
‘Let’s catch the one between the trees and the bushes,’ I say.
Bill takes the rope and goes to the baby. The baby can see us. It turns and runs to the guard giraffe.
‘That’s bad,’ says Bill. ‘We must catch another one.’ He goes to the bushes, but another baby looks at Bill and runs to the guard giraffe too.
‘They are clever, these silly giraffes,’ says Bill. He is angry.
‘Let’s tie the big giraffe to a tree,’ I say. ‘Then we can catch a small one.’
‘No!’ cries Bill. ‘Not again!’ He looks at me. I don’t like his eyes.
At that moment he sees a third baby. It is opposite a bush with big pink flowers. The baby can’t see Bill. It smells the flowers.
‘Aha!’ cries Bill and runs to the baby. I don’t know what to do. Again I put my hands around my mouth and roar.
What are they doing?
It is a terrible roar! But this time Bill turns too fast. He can see my face and hands around my mouth.
‘What are you doing?’ he cries.
‘I’m sneezing,’ I say and roar again. ‘Again sneezing. I’m sorry. I always sneeze like that.’
Bill’s face is very strange now. He puts his hands in front of him and makes fists.
At that moment we can hear a terrible noise. I look behind Bill. All the big giraffes and their babies are running at us.
‘Look out, Bill!’ I cry.
Bill looks round, sees the giraffes and jumps up. Then he starts running. I run too. We run and run. There is that muddy waterhole in front of us.
‘Jump!’ Bill and I cry together.
We are with our heads in the mud again. When we are out of the mud, we can’t see any giraffes. There are no giraffes next to the trees or bushes. There are no giraffes on the grass. But… there are other animals. These animals have got very big ears, and they are very angry. They are hitting trees, and the trees are falling onto the ground. They are elephants!
‘What are they doing?’ asks Bill. He is afraid.
‘They are breaking trees,’ I answer.
‘I can see that,’ Bill says. ‘Why are they doing it?’
I am thinking what to say. Suddenly I have got an idea. ‘They are playing hide-and-seek with the giraffes. Look, there are no giraffes. They are hiding from the elephants.’
Bill is surprised. ‘How do you know?’ he asks.
‘My dad knows a lot about different animals. Elephants and giraffes are good friends. They often play together. Elephants are very clever. If they break down all the trees and bushes, giraffes can’t hide behind them. Then elephants find them.’
‘And what do they do after that?’ asks Bill.
‘Then elephants hide from giraffes. Only giraffes are very tall and can see very far. And elephants are too fat. So giraffes can see elephants behind trees and bushes.’
‘Where do elephants hide then?’ asks Bill.
‘They jump into a waterhole and hide in the mud,’ I answer.
‘This waterhole!?’ Bill’s eyes get very big, and his face changes its colour.
‘Any waterhole, only I can’t see another one here,’ I say.
Bill looks at me. Then he cries ‘Mummy!’ and runs out of the mud. I run after him.
We run and run. Then Bill gets tired and falls on the ground. I sit down next to him.
We are sitting on the grass. ‘Can you see any elephants?’ Bill asks me.
‘No, I can’t,’ I say.
‘Are there any giraffes?’ he asks again.
I look around. Now there are some giraffes close to us. I can even see Spotty and his mum.
‘Yes,’ I say.
Suddenly Bill says:
‘We’re so dirty. Let’s go home now. Tomorrow we can take some carrots and apples with us.’
‘A great idea,’ I say. ‘We should take some cabbages and watermelons, too. They’re giraffes’ favourite food.’
‘Are you crazy?’ Bill cries. ‘How can we take them? They’re so heavy!’
‘We can roll them,’ I say.
Bill is looking at me. I don’t like his face. I think, now he understands what I am doing here.
‘Jack!’ he cries. ‘Why are you here with me? First, you roar like a lioness. Then you have that silly idea to tie the mother giraffe. And now…’
He doesn’t finish because we can hear a terrible roar. And this time it is real! It’s the roar of an angry lioness. We look back. We can see her.
The lioness looks at us, then at the giraffes and again at us. She is thinking which to eat. Bill’s face is white. I think mine is white too. We are too afraid. We start shaking. Suddenly Spotty’s mum runs at the lioness. Her son is running between her legs. When they come up to the angry animal, the mother puts up her front legs.
The lioness is afraid. She starts jumping around the giraffes. But the mother always turns with her front legs to her and tries to kick.
Hooray! The lioness is too tired now. She can’t fight anymore. She turns round and runs away. Spotty is looking at his brave mother.
I look at Bill. He looks strange. Suddenly he gets up and walks to the giraffes. Does he want to catch them now when they are too tired? But Bill stops and puts his head and half of his body down. Oh, I understand! He is saying “thank you” to the brave mother.
‘Mum, it’s that strange animal again,’ says Spotty.
‘Yes, but it’s smiling at us, and it hasn’t got a long tongue in its mouth.’
‘And there’s no tree in his neck,’ says Spotty. ‘Poor animal! It can’t live long without a tongue.’
Spotty turns to a bush, takes some leaves with his tongue and gives them to the strange animal.
‘You can always come here,’ he says, ‘and I can give you tasty leaves. Eat them and live long.’
‘Look, Jack. Your Spotty is giving me a present. Giraffes are so nice!’ Bill takes the leaves. He looks so funny. I like him now.
A Happy End
Bill isn’t very clever, but he is kind. He can’t hunt Spotty anymore. He looks at me. ‘Jack, you are right. It’s wrong to catch giraffes. They must walk free. But what should I tell Jill? She can get very angry. And I love her!’ He sits down on the grass. He is very sad.
‘I know what we should do,’ I say. Then I talk and talk. Soon Bill knows my idea. He likes it.
‘I hope it helps,’ he says.
So we take the rope and go home. The mud on us is dry now, and our skin hurts. So we can’t walk fast. When we are in front of the door, Jill opens it and jumps up.
‘What’s the matter with you?’ she cries. And then we say:
‘Dear Jill, there are lots of giraffes in the grasslands. They are all very tall and beautiful. We can’t choose only one. If you want a pet giraffe, let’s go to the grasslands together. Then you can show us your favourite one. Only don’t put on many clothes. Put on a swimming costume.’
Jill doesn’t understand. ‘A swimming costume? Why do I need a swimming costume there?’
‘Because there are angry lionesses there,’ I say. ‘When they are hungry, they run at you. They run very fast. You can’t run away from them. So you must hide in a muddy waterhole. And when you get out of the mud, your clothes are dirty.’
‘And very heavy,’ says Bill.
‘Yes,’ I say. ‘Then you can’t walk fast in them. And when angry elephants come and start breaking trees…’
‘Oh!’ Jill stops me. She looks afraid now. ‘I think I don’t need a pet giraffe. I’ve got no free time, and our house isn’t very tall.’
‘We can make a big hole in the roof,’ I say.
‘Are you crazy?’ Jill asks. ‘I don’t want any holes in my roof. I don’t need a giraffe. That’s all!’
‘OK,’ we say. ‘Can we go to the bathroom now?’