Paddington Bear is famous the world over, having been translated into 30 different languages and sold more than 30 million books worldwide. This current batch of stories are taken from his fourth book; “Paddington Abroad” which was first published in 1961. It was written by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. The polite immigrant bear from darkest Peru, with his old hat, battered suitcase, duffle coat and love of marmalade sandwiches has become a classic character from English literature. Here at Jammy Toast, we are pleased to bring you some more of the tales which have made Paddington Famous the world over…
28. A Spot Of Fishing
“How about a spot of fishing today?” asked Mr Brown at breakfast one morning.
Mr Brown’s query was greeted in various ways by the other members of the family. Mrs Brown and Mrs Bird exchanged anxious glances, Jonathan and Judy let out whoops of delight, while Paddington nearly fell off his seat with excitement.
“What are we going to fish for?” asked Mrs Brown, hoping her husband might suggest something safe near the seashore.
“Mackerel,” said Mr Brown vaguely. “Or we might even try for some sardines. Anyway, all those in favour raise their right hand.” Mr Brown looked pleased at the response to his idea. “That’s four to two in favour,” he said.
“It’s two all,” said Mrs Bird sternly. “Bears who raise both their paws at the same time are disqualified.”
“Well, I haven’t voted yet,” said Mr Brown, putting up his own hand, “so that’s still three to two.”
“There’s a nice little island just outside the bay,” he continued. “We can sail out there and make it our base.’
“Did you say sail out there, Henry?” asked Mrs Brown nervously.
“That’s right,” said Mr Brown. “I met Admiral Grundy just before breakfast and he’s invited us out for the day.”
Mrs Brown and Mrs Bird began to look even less enthusiastic at Mr Brown’s last remark, and even Paddington’s whiskers drooped noticeably into his roll and marmalade.
Admiral Grundy was a retired English naval officer who lived in a house called the Crow’s Nest on the cliffs just outside the village. The Browns had met him on one or two occasions and he had a voice like a rusty fog-horn which always made them rather nervous.
The first time he had bellowed at them so loudly from the top of the cliff that Mrs Brown had been quite worried in case there was a fall of rock, and Paddington had dropped an ice-cream cone into the sea in his fright.
“Been watchin’ you for the last three days through me telescope,” he’d roared at Mr Brown. “Knew by your shorts you must be English. Though I saw a bear gallivantin’ about on the beach. Couldn’t believe me eyes!”
“I think his bark’s worse than his bite,” said Mr Brown. “And he seems very keen on our going out with him. I don’t suppose he sees many English people now he’s retired.”
“H’mm!” said Mrs Bird mysteriously, “I can see we’ve got some preparations to make.” And with that she left the table and disappeared upstairs only to return a few minutes later armed with a small parcel which she handed to Paddington.
“Something told me we might be going sailing,” she said. “Sea-water makes bears’ fur sticky, so I made a sea-going outfit before we left out of one of Jonathan’s old cycling capes.”
Paddington gasped with astonishment when he untied the parcel and saw what was inside, and everyone stood round admiring while he donned a pair of oilskin leggings, a jacket and a sou’wester.
“Thank you very much, Mrs Bird,” he said gratefully, as he made some final adjustments to his braces.
“That settles it,” said Mr Brown. “We shall simply have to go sailing now!”
After they had collected their belongings the Browns made their way down the winding cobbled street leading to the harbour and Paddington followed them in a daze. To have one surprise was a nice way to start any day, but to be told he was going sailing and to have a new outfit at the same time was doubly exciting.
Paddington was very keen on boats and harbours, and he liked the one at St Castille in particular for it was quite different to anything he had ever seen before on his travels. For one thing the fishermen used most unusual light blue nets which looked very gay when they were hung out to dry. And even the men themselves were different, for instead of wearing dark blue jerseys and rubber boots like most fishermen, they had red jackets and wooden clogs called ‘sabots’.
Paddington had spent a lot of his time sitting on the quayside with the Browns watching the activities in the harbour as the sardine boats came and went, and he was looking forward to the day’s outing.
Admiral Grundy was already on board his yacht when the Browns arrived, and as they rounded the corner he gave a start and then fixed Paddington with a steely look from beneath his bushy eyebrows.
“Shiver me timbers!” he exploded. “What’s this? Expectin’ a gale?”
“Shiver your timbers, Mr Grundy?” exclaimed Paddington with interest. He peered hard at the Admiral’s boat but it appeared to be all in one piece and the planks seemed well stuck together.
“I think he’s surprised at your oilskins,” whispered Judy, as the Admiral looked up at the sun and then back at Paddington.
“My oilskins?” said Paddington hotly, giving the Admiral a hard stare back. “They’re some of Mrs Bird’s specials!”
Recovering himself, the Admiral held out his hand gallantly to Mrs Bird. “Welcome aboard, ma’am,” he exclaimed. “Hope I haven’t offended you. Come along now. Women and bears first.”
“You can go up for’ard, bear,” he said as Paddington clambered aboard. “Keep a sharp look-out — and listen for me instructions.”
After touching the brim of his sou’wester with his paw, Paddington hurried along the deck until he reached the front of the boat. He wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to look out for but he felt very pleased he’d brought his opera-glasses along and he spent several moments peering through them at the horizon.
Although he didn’t want to offend Mrs Bird after all the trouble she had taken, he was beginning to wish he’d taken Admiral Grundy’s advice and kept his sailing outfit until a storm blew up. Apart from the fact that it was a hot day, his braces kept slipping off his shoulders and he had to hold his trousers up with one paw, which made keeping a lookout very difficult.
He was suddenly startled out of his daydreams by a roar from the back of the yacht.
“Stand by for’ard!” bellowed the admiral as he inspected his ship. “Watch the burgee,” he shouted, pointing to a small triangular flag which flew at the mast-head. “Tells you which way the wind’s blowin’,” he explained to Mrs Bird, who was sheltering in the stern beneath her sunshade. “Most important!”
“Get ready to splice the mainbrace down below,” he called to Mr Brown, who was somewhere in the cabin. “Stand by to cast off up for’ard, bear!”
From his position in the front of the Admiral’s yacht, Paddington was getting more and more confused by all the shouting. Setting sail was much more complicated than he had imagined.
First of all he thought the Admiral had said something about watching a birdy, but the only birds he could see were sea-gulls and most of those seemed to be asleep. Then the Admiral had bellowed something about splicing his braces. Paddington was most surprised by the last order for although his trousers were getting lower and lower, he hadn’t realised anyone else had noticed and he hastily picked up a coil of rope and began tying it round his middle to be on the safe side.
“Stand by!” bellowed the Admiral. “I’m goin’ to haul up me mainsail.”
“Nothin’ like a good sailin’ craft,” he continued with satisfaction as he pulled away at the rope. “Can’t stand engines meself.”
“I must say it’s a lovely sight,” began Mrs Brown as the large white sail billowed out in the breeze. She broke off and stared at the Admiral.
“Is anything the matter?” she asked.
“Where’s that young bear feller of yours got to?” exploded the Admiral. “Don’t tell me he’s fallen overboard!”
“Good gracious!” exclaimed Mrs Bird anxiously. Where on earth can he have got to?”
The Browns looked over the side into the water but there was neither sight nor sound of Paddington.
“Can’t see any bubbles,” said the Admiral. “And as for hearin’ anything — couldn’t hear a ship’s siren with all that jabberin’ goin’ on ashore — let alone a bear’s cries!”
The Browns looked up. Now that the Admiral mentioned it, there did seem to be a lot of noise going on. Quite a number of the fishermen on the quay were waving their arms and several were pointing up at the sky.
“Good grief!” exploded the Admiral as he stood up and shaded his eyes against the sun. “He’s up aloft. Got himself hoisted to me mainmast!”
“I was only splicing my braces,” gasped Paddington, looking most offended as he was lowered back down on to the deck. “I was having trouble with my oilskins and I think I must have picked up the wrong rope by mistake.”
“I think,” said Mrs Bird, quickly pouring oil on troubled waters before the Admiral had time to speak, “you’d better sit in the back with me out of harm’s way.”
Already quite a large crowd had collected on the quayside and she didn’t like the look on the Admiral’s face. It seemed to have gone a rather nasty shade of purple.
Paddington dusted himself down and then settled thankfully in the seat alongside Mrs Bird while order was restored and the Admiral once more made ready to sail. Within a matter of moments everything was ship-shape and before long they found themselves skimming through the open water outside the harbour.
While Jonathan and Judy sat on the deck watching the wash of the wave breaking over the bow of the yacht, Mr Brown set up his rod and line, and even Paddington had a go over the stern with a piece of string and a bent pin which Mrs Bird found in her handbag. It was all so new and interesting that it seemed no time at all before they found themselves on the island.
Apart from all the Admirals’ things, Mr Brown had brought along a tent and a large hamper of food which Mrs Bird had bought in the village store, and while Jonathan, Judy and Paddington made ready to explore the island, the Admiral and Mr Brown began unloading the yacht.
It was as they turned to go back for their second trip that the Admiral suddenly let out an extra loud bellow and began pointing out to sea as he danced up and down the beach.
“It’s-adrift!” he cried. “Me yacht’s adrift!”
The Browns followed the direction of the Admiral’s gaze with alarm only to see the yacht dancing on the waves some distance away as it headed out to sea.
“Shiver me timbers!” roared the Admiral. “Didn’t anyone tie it up?”
The Browns looked at each other. In the excitement of landing on the island they had left it to the Admiral.
“We thought you’d done it,” said Mr Brown.
“Fifty years at sea,’ growled the Admiral, stomping up and down the beach. Never lost a ship yet, let alone been marooned. What a crew!”
“Can’t you send up a distress signal or something?” asked Mrs Brown unhappily.
“Can’t,” growled the Admiral. “Me flares are on board!”
“So are my matches,” said Mr Brown.
“So we can’t even light a bonfire.”
Admiral Grundy stomped up and down the beach several more times growling to himself before he stopped and pointed to Mr Brown’s tent. “I’ll set up me headquarters on the grass at the top of the beach,” he exclaimed. “Must have a bit of peace and quiet while I think up some way of letting the johnnies on the mainland know what’s happened.”
“I’ll help if you like, Mr Grundy,” said Paddington, anxious to lend a paw.
“Thank you, bear,” said the Admiral gruffly. “But you’ll have to be careful with your knots. Don’t want it blowin’ over as soon as I get inside.”
Leaving the Browns in a forlorn group on the beach as they discussed the prospect of spending a night on the island, the Admiral picked up the tent and headed towards the top of the beach closely followed by Paddington.
Paddington was very interested in the subject of Mr Brown’s tent. He had come across it once or twice when he’d been exploring the attic at Windsor Gardens, but he’d never seen it in use before. When they reached the grass he sat down on a nearby rock and watched carefully while the Admiral undid the carrying case and spread a large sheet of white canvas over the ground, together with several lengths of wooden pole and a number of ropes.
After joining the wooden poles together into two lengths, the Admiral fitted the canvas sheet over them and then lifted the whole lot into the air.
“I’ll hold the poles, bear,” he roared as he disappeared inside, “if you’ll fix the guy-ropes. You’ll find some stakes in the bag.”
Paddington jumped up from the rock. He wasn’t at all sure what guy-ropes were, let alone stakes, but he was glad to be able to do something useful at last, and as he hurried forward and peered in the bag he was even pleased to see that as well as a mallet and some pieces of wood there was a book of instructions.
Paddington liked instruction books especially when there were plenty of pictures — and Mr Brown’s seemed to have a great many. On the cover there was one which showed a man hammering the pieces of wood into the ground, and although the man in the picture wore shorts and was fat and jolly — not a bit like the Admiral, who was very gruff — he felt sure it would be a great help.
“What’s goin’ on, bear?” called the Admiral in a muffled voice. “Shake a leg there. I can’t hold on much longer.”
Paddington looked up and saw to his surprise that the Admiral and his tent were no longer where they had started off. There was a strong breeze blowing now that they were away from the beach and the Admiral seemed to be having some difficulty in staying upright as the canvas billowed out like a sail.
“Hold on, Mr Grundy,” cried Paddington, waving his mallet in the air. “I’m coming.”
After consulting the instructions several more times he picked up a pawful of stakes and hurried across to where the Admiral was struggling. Paddington was keen on hammering and he spent an enjoyable few minutes banging all the stakes into the ground and making fast the various ropes before pulling them tight as the Admiral had told him.
There were a great many ropes, in fact there seemed to be far more than there were in the picture, and Paddington had to make several trips back to the bag for more stakes so that it all took much longer than he had expected.
Apart from that the Admiral kept shouting for him to make haste so that he became more and more confused, and the knots — far from being neat and tidy like the ones in the instructions — began to look more and more like a piece of very old knitting that had gone wrong.
“Is that a new tent?” asked Mrs Bird, as she viewed the goings on from the beach.
“No,” replied Mr Brown. “It’s the same old one. Why do you ask?”
“It looks different to me,’ said Mrs Bird.
“It’s a very odd shape. Sort of tall and baggy.”
“Good heavens!” exclaimed Mr Brown.
“I think,” said Mrs Bird, “we’d better go and see what’s happening. I don’t like the look of things at all.”
In saying she didn’t like the look of things, Mrs Bird was echoing Paddington’s thoughts as well as her own, for having at long last finished banging in all the stakes and tying all the knots he stood up to admire his handiwork only to find to his surprise that the Admiral was nowhere in sight.
Even the tent looked quite different to the one shown on the last page of the instructions. The one there was not unlike a small house, with the man in shorts looking as fresh as a daisy and smiling all over his face as he stepped out through a door in the side and waved to a crowd of admiring onlookers. As he mopped his brow and looked at Mr Brown’s tent, even Paddington had to admit to himself that it was more like a bundle of old washing with several lumps sticking out of the side.
He hurried all the way round peering at it closely, but there was nowhere anyone could possibly crawl through let alone any sign of a door. Worse still, far from there being any sign of a smiling Admiral, he seemed to have disappeared altogether.
Paddington anxiously tapped one of the lumps in the side with his hammer. “Are you there, Mr Grundy?” he called.
“Grr,” came an explosion from within. “THAT WAS MY HEAD!”
Paddington jumped back as if he had been shot and nearly fell over one of the guy-ropes in his haste to escape.
“Let me out, Bear!” roared the Admiral “I’ll have you in irons for this!”
Paddington didn’t like the sound of being put in irons at all and he hurriedly consulted the instruction book again in case he had turned over two pages at once by mistake, but there wasn’t even a section on how to take the tent down again once it was up, let alone anything about missing campers.
He tried pulling hard on the guy-ropes, but it only seemed to make matters worse, and the harder he pulled the more the Admiral bellowed.
“Paddington!’ exclaimed Mrs Brown, as they reached him just in time to be greeted by a particularly loud yell from the Admiral. “What on earth’s going on?”
“I don’t know, Mrs Brown,” said Paddington. “I think I must have got my guys crossed. It’s a bit difficult with paws.”
“Crikey!” said Jonathan admiringly, as he bent down to examine the tent. “I’ll say you have. I’ve never seen knots like these before. Not even in the Scouts.”
“Good gracious!” said Mrs Bird. “We’d better do something quickly. He’ll suffocate.”
One by one the Browns bent down and looked at the ropes, but the more they pulled and tugged the tighter became the knots and the fainter became the Admiral’s gurgles. It was just as they were giving up all hope of ever setting him free that a most unexpected interruption took place. The Browns had been so intent on the problem of untying Paddington’s knots that they had quite failed to notice a lot of activity going on the beach. The first they knew of it was when they heard voices close at hand and they looked up to find a group of fishermen from the village making their way towards them.
“We saw your signal for help, monsieur,” said the leader in broken English.
“Our signal for help?” repeated Mr Brown.
“That is right, monsieur,” said the fisherman. “We saw it from many miles away. The young English bear from the hotel waving his white sheet in distress. And then we found Monsieur le Admiral’s boat adrift so we came to the rescue.”
Mr Brown stood back while the fishermen gathered round the tent to inspect the knots.
“I wonder whether it’s just Paddington,” he said. “Or whether all bears are born under a lucky star!”
“Grrmph!” growled the Admiral for the umpteenth time as the story of his rescue was repeated to him. It had taken even the fishermen some while to undo Paddington’s knots, and by the time he was set free the Admiral’s face had been the colour of a freshly boiled lobster. But when he heard the news that his yacht had been found and was safely at anchor in the bay he soon grew calm again. As the day wore on he became quite jolly and even joined in a number of games on the beach.
“I suppose I ought to thank you, bear,” he growled on the way back, as he held out his hand. “Could have done with a few more of your sort on board me ship in the old days. Enjoyed meself no end.”
“That’s all right, Mr Grundy,” said Paddington, offering his paw in return. He still wasn’t quite sure why everyone was thanking him — especially as he had expected to be in trouble — but he wasn’t the sort of bear to query his good fortune.
“Suppose you like cocoa?” growled the Admiral suddenly.
Paddington’s eyes grew large. “Yes, please,” he exclaimed. And even the Browns looked most surprised that the Admiral should know such a thing.
“Haven’t travelled the seven seas without learnin’ somethin’ about bears’ habits,” said the Admiral.
He shaded his eyes as they entered the harbour mouth and the setting sun flickered for a moment behind the houses. “Don’t suppose you’ve ever tasted real ship’s cocoa,” he said. “Make it meself in a bucket. How about comin’ up to me cabin for a cup before you go to bed?”
To that the Browns gave an enthusiastic “Aye! Aye!” and even Paddington was allowed to raise both his paws in agreement. It had been a most exciting and enjoyable day, and although they had none of them so much as seen a glimpse of a sardine, let alone caught one, they all agreed there was nothing like a cup of real ship’s cocoa to round things off in a proper seamanlike fashion.