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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
A Roaring Good Time

A Roaring Good TimeThe sun was setting below the horizon. The last of the sightseers were leaving Trafalgar Square in downtown London, heading back to their hotels with their families.

The Square took on an eerie emptiness. The pigeons flew to nearby window ledges to roost for the night and the monument, with Lord Admiral Nelson sitting atop, stood alone. The only noise that could be heard was the spray of the fountain as the drops of water hit the pool below. The four bronze lions that sat on the monument, protecting Lord Nelson, were now alone. No longer were children climbing all over them. No longer were cameras flashing. It was silent.

"Are they all gone?" asked Albert.

Susan looked around, "All clear from my view."

"Here too," said Beatrice.

"Weíre okay over here," called Edward.

"Then letís go and have some fun!" growled Albert, as the four lions sprang to life, as they did every night at this time, and leapt off the monument onto the ground below. They stretched their aching limbs. Sitting in the same position all day long was tiring.

"Iíve got an idea of what we can do tonight!" exclaimed Beatrice. She was the mischievous one of the group. "You know those guards down at Buckingham Palace? I say that we go there and try to get one of them to move. They arenít supposed to even blink. Iíve thought of a good way to scare them."

"Great!" said Edward, "and while weíre there we can go through the Royal rubbish and find something for dinner. I heard some tourists talking about a banquet at the palace tonight. You know what that means, donít you?"

"Leftovers," Susan and Albert called out together.

The four bronze lions headed down the Mall, which is the name of the street leading from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. St. James Park is off to the side of it. They ran in there to stay hidden from any cars that might drive past. Beatrice roared and scared a flock of sleeping ducks. She roared in delight as they quacked and flew away angrily.

Susan wasnít quite as mischievous as the others. As she went through the park, she took time to avoid stepping on the daffodils and crocus. Albert and Edward didnít care what they stepped on. "Thereís Buckingham Palace. Albert, you jump over the fence first, but be careful. Those spikes at the top are sharp. They can scratch you pretty bad," warned Beatrice.

Albert didnít hesitate. He leapt over the fence without any problem; after all, they were all very large bronze lions. Susan, Beatrice and Edward followed.

"Now, should we eat first?" Albert asked.

"Letís scare the guard first, Albert, and then weíll eat. Come on, weíll have to be really quiet if we want to sneak up on the guard," Beatrice reminded the group. One by one they made their way toward the guardís box, staying very close to the palace walls. They could see him standing there, stiff as a board. "Letís play with him," giggled Beatrice. "Iíll run by really fast. Heíll see a blur, but not be sure what it is. That will attract his attention." Beatrice ran as fast as she could past the guard. He didnít move a muscle. She ran back, but this time much closer to him. He still stood at attention.

"He didnít even blink an eye," said Edward, amazed.

"This time, Iíll go and stop right in front of him and roar," said Albert. "Heís never seen a bronze lion roar before, surely."

Albert crept up slowly and went behind the guardís box. He bumped it softly, on purpose, to alert the guard. He stood waiting, but the guard never moved. Seeing that he was wasting his time, he jumped out from behind the box and stood in front of him. He was three times the size of the guard. There was still no reaction from the soldier. Albert took a deep breath and then let out a loud and ferocious roar. His breath blew the black fur on the guardís hat. The guard still didnít move but the palace lights came on and soon soldiers were pouring out of the building.

The four lions ran and jumped over the fence. They hid behind the Victoria monument and watched. The soldiers were all over the grounds, searching under every bush and behind every tree. Susan heard one of them say, "I could swear that noise we heard was a lionís roar." She giggled.

Another soldier said, "It was probably just a car revving up its engine. Whatever it was, itís gone now."

From behind the statue, Edward commented, "Whew! That was close. We didnít get anything to eat though and Iím starving!"

"We almost got caught that time, Edward. Weíll have to find food somewhere else," Susan said.

"Did you see that guard? He didnít move. Not one muscle!" Albert noted.

The four lions ran back through the park towards Parliament and Big Ben. Just as they reached Westminster Bridge, Big Ben chimed twelve loud chimes. BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG! BONG!

"Iíve got a great idea," said Susan. "Letís go up into Big Ben and change the clock ahead an hour."

"What fun!" Edward added.

The four lions jumped over the fence and snuck up the steps to the top of the tall tower where Big Ben was. Susan stuck her paw out through a slit in the stone and changed the clock so that it was one oíclock in the morning, instead of midnight. They quickly ran back down and over to the bridge again. No sooner had the last lion pounced onto the bridge when the clock struck one. BONG!

The groundskeeper turned on the light in his shed. The lions giggled. He came outside and looked up at the clock. "I just heard it chime midnight," he said, confused. "Whatís wrong with Big Ben tonight?" He looked down at his watch and began to climb up all the steps. The lions watched as he struggled to change the hands back to just after midnight.

Susan, Albert, Edward, and Beatrice ran down to the Thames River, laughing all the way. They stopped in front of where the river cruise boats were docked. "Iíve never been on a boat before. Have any of you?" asked Beatrice.

"Not me. Do you think thereís food on any of these boats?" asked Edward.

"Iíve never been on a boat before either but Iíll bet thereís food on board," answered Albert.

"Iíve never even seen the Thames before," added Susan.

The four lions leapt onto the boat, but their bronze bodies were so heavy that when they leapt, they made huge holes in the bottom of the boat and it began to sink. "Letís get off this boat!" roared Albert. They jumped back onto the bank of the Thames and watched as the boat sank into the murky water.

"Weíd better get out of here," urged Edward.

They ran along the riverbank and didnít stop until they reached the Tower of London. "These buildings have been here a long time, havenít they?" Susan asked, gazing up at the tall towers.

"At least one of them has been here a thousand years," noted Albert.

"By the way, Iíve heard that there are ravens that live at the Tower. I hate birds. I get so tired of having pigeons land on me. Letís go inside and wake them up and chase them out into the river," Beatrice sneered.

"Thatís cruel," Edward said, "but it does sound like fun. Say, can we eat the ravens? Letís get them."

They jumped over the gate and crept silently across the grass towards the White Tower, the main place where the ravens slept. "Watch out for the guards. Theyíre called Beefeaters," Beatrice said. "Theyíll cause us a lot of trouble if they find us here."

"Why on earth are they called Beefeaters?" Edward chuckled. "Can we eat them? Do they taste like beef?"

"Would you please stop talking about food, Edward," Beatrice said.

Edward shrugged his shoulders and the lions moved on. They spotted the sleeping ravens. There were about twenty off them sleeping in a cluster near the White Tower. Their glossy black feathers shimmered in the moonlight. "Theyíre odd looking birds, arenít they?" Susan said.

"They look delicious enough to eat," Edward said softly so Beatrice wouldnít hear him.

"LETíS GET THEM!" roared Albert. The four lions roared and ran towards the sleeping birds.

The ravens woke up, saw the approaching lions and ran in all directions. None of them could fly because their wings had been clipped. They ran very fast. Beatrice chased one all around the White Tower. Edward chased two of them down to Traitorís Gate at the River Thames. Albert chased a few around on the grass, trying to nip their tail feathers. Susan was having so much fun running about that she stopped worrying about the ravens altogether. After a few minutes, when the excitement had worn off and they were tired of chasing the ravens around, the four lions gathered on the grass. "Good riddance to those birds! Now that theyíre gone, did you know that they have jewels in that building?" Beatrice told them. "Theyíre called the Crown Jewels. Iíd like to see them and even try some of them on."

"Beatrice, weíd be caught for sure," warned Susan.

"No we wont. Those Beefeaters didnít wake up when we roared, did they? So they probably wonít hear us while we try on the Crown Jewels," Beatrice said, pointing to the tall tower.

They snuck inside and found the cases, which held the priceless Crown Jewels. Edward ripped all the wires to the alarm system out with his sharp claws. Carefully they lifted the glass off. Beatrice reached in and took out the Coronation Crown. She put it on her head. "Donít I look queenly?" she muttered proudly.

Edward took the Royal Sceptre and pranced around the room with it. "I dub thee, Sir Albert," he said, as he touched Albert on the head with the scepter.

Albert bowed and then tried on a few necklaces and rings. "Oh look at me," he said. "Donít I just glitter and sparkle?" Susan tried on the tiara-type crown. She didnít say anything but felt beautiful in them.

After a while they tired of the fun and games. They put all the jeweled treasures into a pile in the middle of the floor and snuck back down the cold, stone steps towards the door. On the way out, Edward tripped and his paw went in front of an alarm that heíd forgotten to short-circuit. Suddenly the lights went on! Sirens blared! Beefeaters, in uniform, came running towards them. The lions leapt over the walls of the Tower of London and ran straight into the Underground.

"Edward, you clumsy lion. We nearly lost our heads that time," Beatrice scolded. She stopped for a moment and added, "But that was a roaring good time."

It was deserted on the Underground. Hardly anybody traveled the Tube at three oíclock in the morning. As they stood on the platform Edward spotted half a bag of cold chips lying on the ground. He picked them up and ate them. "Yummy. Vinegar," he said, surprised and happy at having something to eat.

A train pulled into the Tower Station. The doors opened and the lions went inside. "Mind the Gap," came on over the loudspeaker, warning the lions to be careful as they got on the train. There was always a gap between the train and the platform. The lions rode around London for a few hours, but it wasnít very much fun. Finally they got off at Charing Cross Station and ran up the steps to Trafalgar Square. The Underground closed down for the night.

"Iím tired," complained Beatrice, "but I did have a roaring good time."

"Me too," whined Albert.

"We did do more than usual tonight, didnít we?" Edward reminded them.

"Lets go into the fountain for a soak," suggested Susan.

"Jolly good idea," answered Edward with a yawn.

The lions sank into the fountain pool. They lay there, laughing and talking about all that they had done that night. They planned new adventures for the following night. Before they knew it, dawn had arrived. They climbed out of the water, bid each other good day and jumped back onto their slabs at the bottom of Nelsonís Monument, ready to endure another day of being climbed on, jumped on, kissed and photographed.

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