It is wonderful to come home from school at the end of the term and find your dad all excited, saying that he has just won a trip for the whole family for two weeks to England. I rushed out to meet my friends and tell them the exciting news because we were leaving in three days' time.
Those three days went by so quickly and before I knew it we were at Cape Town International Airport boarding a plane for London town. We have quite a big family that live in England and they were all at the airport to meet us. Gavin, Meg, David, Carola and my three cousins, Lucas, Nicolas and Oliver, were at the Airport to meet us.
From the airport we went to their house in Croydon, it was so exciting and after sitting talking to everybody updating them about all the news and what has been happening in Cape Town, South Africa, we were tired, had supper, bathed and put our pyjamas on and went to bed. I slept in the bedroom with my two cousins and my dad and mom had a separate room. It was about two o'clock in the morning when I woke up and needed a glass of water. I went down to the kitchen and heard a strange noise on the window, looking out I saw a bird tapping on the window. I opened the window and this beautiful little bird said, "Drive to the zoo, the lion needs you" and with that, off he flew". Well, that's strange I thought as I was drinking my water. I went back to bed and the next morning when I went into the garden, thinking I might see this little bird again, there he was sitting on the branch of a tree and again he said, "Please go to the zoo, the lion needs you, and with that off he flew".
It was only then that I remembered that I had told Tommy Brown before I left Cape Town that we were going to England and he probably contacted the animals to say that I was coming. I ran off to my dad and said, "Dad, I would really like to go the Zoo today please?" But he said, "Son, we can't go today as there are certain things that I have to do", but I kept on saying, "Please, please can't we go to the zoo today, it's very important". My mom said, "Les, let's go to the zoo today, you can do all the things that you have to do another day and we can take Lucas, Nicolas and Oliver with us. I am sure they would like to walk around the Zoo with Bill". About an hour later we were walking into this huge zoo in London, this was very exciting as they were so many animals from all over the world but I only had eyes for one animal and that was the lion. I said to my dad, "Can Lucas, Nicolas, Oliver and I go for a walk around the zoo together, we are big boys now and we will meet you back at the restaurant at lunchtime?" Dad said, "That's fine with me, but stay together and don't get lost". So off we went, then Lucas said, "Let's go look at the seals" and Nicolas said, "No, let's go look at the giraffes", but I said "No, first and foremost, we are going to see the lions".
In the zoo they have information boards which direct you to the different animals. We looked to see where the lion enclosure was and made our way towards it. When we got there we could see six or seven huge lions lying around, but one lion, in particular, looked up and without getting up, he said, "Thank you Bill, you are here at last". I looked around to see if anybody else had heard the lion, but nobody had, so I said to Nicolas and Lucas, "You chaps wait here, I have to go and talk to the lion. You won't understand now, but I will explain all of this in a few minutes, there is a problem with this lion and we have to help".
I waited until most of the people had left the enclosure and then I said to the lion, "What is the problem, I got a message from a very pretty little bird" and the lion said, "I know, I heard from Tommy that you were coming to England and about two weeks ago I jumped up against a tree in the enclosure and got a sharp thorn in my right paw and can't get it out and there is nobody that I can tell and it's so painful. Please can you help me?"
"Mr Lion", I said and he said "Please call me Leo" and I said, "Fine, thanks, I have my cousins here with me, they can help me, but you have to talk to them as well", and he said "Call them, as I would like to meet them". When Lucas and Nicolas came over, the lion looked at them and said "Hi guys you won't believe this but you're talking to a lion and I need help". My two cousins nearly fell on their backs they said, "That lion is talking to us and we can hear him" I said, "Yes, when we get home I'll explain everything to you but at this moment just believe that you can talk to him right now". What we have to do is find the zookeeper for the lions and asking for a pair of pliers. Lucas said, "I saw him just go past the cage so I will go and fetch him and bring him over, which he did." Lucas actually can run very fast and within two minutes he was back with the zookeeper. He said, "What is going on?" 1 said, "Mr Zookeeper, you have a lion here that has a big thorn in his paw and I need to go and take it out. May I use your pliers, please? Then he said, "I don't think so, you can't go into the cage as the lions will attack you". "Please I said, you need to trust me, and I will show you what I can do". "Please give me the pliers from our toolkit belt".
He said, "I will stand at the gate and watch over you". So I walked in and went straight to the lion and spoke quietly to him. The zookeeper was quite concerned and said, "Please be careful", but I said, "Please don't worry, the lion knows why I am here".
As I approached the lion he sat down and rolled onto his back with his paw in the air, I grabbed the thorn with the pliers and pulled and pulled but it would not budge. I turned around and said, "Nicolas, Lucas come into the enclosure and help me with the lion". After seeing me with Leo, they were a bit nervous but not afraid. While this was all happening a big crowd had gathered around the enclosure to see what was going on. I said to Nicolas, "You hold the paw, while Lucas and I hold the pliers and pull the thorn out". We pulled and pulled, and all of sudden the thorn came out. Leo stood up and licked his paw and said, "Gosh, that feels beautiful, thank you, thank you. It's good to know that we have your cousins here in England, I will tell all the animals that if there is a problem, they can count on Lucas, Nicolas and Oliver to talk to them just as we are talking".
As we walked out of the enclosure, the big crowd that had gathered, were all clapping and cheering and saying what brave children we are. Even the zookeeper could not believe his eyes with what had happened. The zookeeper said, "Anytime you want to come back to the zoo to visit the animals, you are most welcome and I would love you to be our guests".
Not realising how long we had been away, we rushed back to the restaurant to meet my parents, who told us that everyone was talking about these four boys who were able to help a lion in distress and wondered who these boys were. We looked at each other and just smiled, we then knew that between the four cousins there was a special bond.
Lying in bed that night, I explained to Lucas and Nicolas how I came to be able to talk to the animals and I said, "If you really and truly believe that you can talk to them, you will be able to and they will be able to talk back to you".
The rest of the holiday went by very quickly and before I knew it we were saying goodbye at the airport back home to Cape Town. Lucas, Nicolas and Oliver said, "Bill, thank you very much for teaching us what you did and we will never forget it, goodbye for now".