After years of travelling, exploring and getting lost with
heaps of adventures, mishaps, excitement, fun and mayhem; through different
countries in Europe, The Middle East, England, South America and Iceland; the
friends on the farm or the zoo, as it was appropriately known, were once again
content with life in Australia. Francis entered more events and won every race.
Proving he definitely was a horse, even with two legs.
They stayed close and created their own amusements. Tom,
the Border collie, was given the responsibility of keeping things in order by
Mike and Sasha. It was exhausting at times keeping watch over Altiyan and
Diva, even though they were older members and Francis and Foxglove and Two Plus
Two, Slippery Sally and Ana Conda, Silver and Gold, Girly, Melbourne, Wellington
and Sydney, Mr and Mrs Emu and Emily, Reddy, Baaabra, Lagarto, Skunky, Jack and
Jill, Frederica and all her children and, and; just one moment; where’s
Almost a year had gone by and still no sign of Fredrick. He
had never made it home from Iceland. Mike and Sasha put out a search party for
him, but Iceland is a huge and very cold place. The authorities could only
presume that an Australian fox could never be acclimatised and was sure to be
dead. The others occasionally became saddened with never seeing the most
annoying, selfish, obnoxious, exasperating, naughtiest, disobedient, fattest fox
in the world, but he was their friend. Except for Frederica and Girly who
enjoyed the peace and quiet.
One day, while everyone was working in the stables and
around the farm, Tom decided to go for a stroll with Mr Emu to the letter box.
Sasha and Mike didn’t realise the mail had arrived early, so Tom took the
liberty of pulling out the letters and dropping them on the ground. Sniffing
“What’s that smell?” Mr Emu asked politely.
“I don’t know, I’ve never smelt anything like it before,”
“I can’t make out what it says. It’s to Mike and Sasha, but
I can’t read the back.”
“Better take it up to the house,” Mr Emu suggested.
Tom carried all the letters in his mouth and walked
quickly. He dropped them on the porch and barked and barked to draw their
“What’s all the noise, Tom?” Sasha asked.
“Thank you. I can see you picked up the letters. Good boy!
What’s that smell?” Sasha picked up the letter and smelt it as she read.
“This is unusual. It smells rather nice. Appetising in fact.”
“It’s a good thing Fredrick’s not here. He would have eaten
it by now,” Tom chuckled.
“Good boy! You can go Tom, and take your emu friend with
you.” But Tom and Mr Emu didn’t go. They were curious, and hid around the side
of the house to listen while Sasha called out to Mike.
Mike wasted no time because it sounded urgent. “What’s up?”
“This is a letter from India. It smells very nice, like
someone’s sprayed it with a curried perfume. If there’s such a thing,” Sasha
“Well, they obviously want to get their point across.
Read on,” Mike said.
“But we don’t know anyone in India, do we?” Sasha asked
“We didn’t know anyone in Europe or South America or
Iceland either, but we still received a letter,” Mike acknowledged.
“OK, right! Let’s read,” continued Sasha.
“Dear Mr and Mrs James. We have followed Francis’s history
and adventures throughout his life. We are amazed at his achievements and he is
such a credit to the racing organisations around the world. We are having our
biggest event in a month’s time and would be honoured to have Francis race in
our main event and to be our special guest at our most prestigious course; The
Mumbai Racecourse. First class accommodation will be extended to you and Francis
Your humble servant.
“Did you hear that, Mr Emu?” Tom whispered.
“I did, we must tell the others,” Mr Emu whispered back.
They both tip-toed back without being seen to find their friends.
“Well, here we go again. Friends, it mentioned friends.
Which friends?” Sasha questioned.
“We’ll decide later. I look forward to going. I’ve never
been to India,” Mike said, rubbing his hands together with excitement.
“Neither have I. I have to say, I love Indian food,
“But what?” Mike repeated.
“What friends? I can’t bear the thought of all the animals
coming, especially the snake,” Sasha said.
“Well at least you won’t have to worry about that fat,
ugly, scraggly-looking thing, they call a fox,” Mike said amused, “he’s gone
Back at the farm, Tom was trying to gather everyone for a
meeting but they all seemed to be somewhat distracted and scattered, according
to Altiyan and Diva who returned to the stables.
Tom and Mr Emu walked briskly calling out to Francis, but
the friends didn’t hear as there was too much laughing coming from over the
rise. Tom and Mr Emu couldn’t contain themselves and joined in the fun.
“What are you guys doing?” Tom asked.
“Weeeeeee are plaaaaaaaying snakes and laaaaaaaders,”
“And Slippery Sally and Ana Conda are the snakes,” replied
“We made squares out of hay to make it look like a board
and borrowed ladders from the shed to put on top,” Mrs Emu proudly said.
“I know when you play snakes and ladders; you have to throw
a dice. Where’s the dice?” Tom asked.
“We’re the dice, we’re the dice,” two squeaky voices said
loud and clear. It was Silver and Gold.
“Well, that’s very good but how does each contestant throw
“That’s easy. We take it in turn in Lagarto’s mouth as he
shakes us around and throws us out. Only I am getting a migraine, mind you,”
Silver said, “don’t throw so hard.”
“Sorry,” Lagarto said.
“And try not to aim at the tree, my body is getting
bruised,” Gold added.
“But you don’t have any numbers on you,” Mr Emu said.
“Don’t be silly, Daddy,” Emily interrupted, “they don’t
need numbers, they call out what number they want to be when they land.”
“How does it work?” Tom asked.
“I’ll show you,” Reddy offered.
“Hsssss, oh no!” Slippery Sally cried.
“Your turn, Silver,” Gold suggested.
“Shake it, Lagarto,” Reddy called.
Silver sat in Lagarto’s mouth while he shook his head and
then opened his mouth with Silver flying through the air calling out number
“Oooh my bottom!” Silver shouted, rubbing his bruise.
Reddy hopped five spaces and landed on Slippery Sally’s
head, which meant he had to go down the snake.
“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch!” Slippery Sally cried.
Reddy had jumped on her so hard not realising his big feet
squashed her every time.
“Hsssss, next time when it’s your turn Reddy, take a
“My turn,” Francis said excitedly.
“I don’t think so, Francis,” Ana Conda replied, “you’re
just as heavy as Reddy and I’m showing signs of wear and tear.”
“It’s my turn aaaaaaany waaaaaaaay,” Baaabra said.
“No, it’s my turn,” Emily claimed.
“Well right now it’s nobody’s turn. Tom and I have
something to discuss,” Mr Emu said assertively.
“It sounds rather important,” Mrs Emu replied.
“It had better be, because it was my turn,” a teary-eyed
“Stop acting like a spoilt child dear, and let your father
“Gather round, friends. Tom and I have just heard that
Francis has been invited as a guest, and to race at a prestigious racecourse in
“Where’s India?” Emily asked
“It’s a long way from here,” Girly said.
“Is it anywhere near Iceland,” Frederica asked.
“No,” Tom replied. “Why?”
“Just in case you bumped into a certain thing and decided
to bring it back with you,” came a smart reply from Frederica.
“Yes, then I’ll have someone to play with,” Emily said
“You have plenty of little foxes to play with here,”
“It’s not the same. Fredrick’s a pain in the...”
“Don’t say it,” Mrs Emu interrupted quickly, “there are
“He makes me laugh, when he’s not rude to me,” Emily
“Can we please get back to India? Where is it?”
Francis anxiously questioned.
Tom started to draw a map of the world on the sandy ground.
Showing where Australia, Iceland, England, Europe and South America were and
“How long will it take to fly there, Tom?” Wellington
“I’m not sure. I think it will take half the time compared
to going to Iceland,” Tom figured quickly.
“Maybe we could fly there ourselves,” Sydney suggested.
“No way, are you crazy?” Girly said.
“I want to fly. I like flying in the aeroplane,” Emily
“We haven’t determined who’s going, if anyone?” Mr Emu
“I’m going,” Francis announced.
“Of course you are, my boy,” Mr Emu replied.
“I’m not sure who’s going or who’s been invited for that
matter,” Tom pondered.
“Whaaaaaaat did the letter saaaaaaay?” Baaabra asked.
“It did say friends,” Tom remembered.
“I’m definitely going then,” Girly voiced.
“We don’t know which friends the letter referred to,” Mr
“We’ll go back and listen for more information. You can all
get back to playing snakes and ladders while we’re gone,” Tom suggested.
Tom and Mr Emu made their way back to hear further
discussions. They constantly followed Mike and Sasha around, until Sasha
realised they were being followed around by a dog and an emu.
“OK you two. What are you up to?”
“You’re up to something. I bet I know what it is,” Sasha
firmly said. “You know we’ve been invited to India with Francis and I bet my
bottom dollar you want to know if you can come. Am I right?”
“Thought so. Mike, the animals want to know if they can go
“All of a sudden you’re speaking animal language now,” Mike
said with a giggle.
“I guess they know what’s going on. After all, they came
with us last time,” Sasha reminded Mike.
“Yes, and we know what happened. They played up, got lost
and Francis missed the opening ceremony. No! I don’t think they should come this
time because Francis is racing and he’s also a guest. So I’m not taking any
chances,” Mike firmly stated.
“But wait! This time that scruffy-looking obnoxious excuse
for a fox isn’t here. I’m sure he’s been the cause of all the problems,” Sasha
“Let me think about it,” Mike replied.
Tom and Mr Emu swiftly wandered back to the friends, who
had finally stopped playing snakes and ladders due to the fact that poor
Slippery Sally and Ana Conda were covered in bruises. Silver and Gold suffered
dizzy spells and headaches and sat still to recover; while Emily and the little
foxes ran over the ladders quickly to see who could stay on the longest.
“So, who’s going then?” an excited Girly asked.
“Mike said he’d think about it,” Tom confirmed.
“That means we’re going. So, who’s going this time?” Girly
“Hsssss, I wouldn’t presume any of us are going yet,
otherwise it will be a big disappointment if we get our hopes up,” Slippery
Sally pointed out.
“Well, let’s presume anyway to save time, just in case we
do get invited,” an optimistic Girly replied.
“I’m going even if we don’t get invited,” a cheeky Emily
“Sooooooo aaaaaaam I,” Baaabra agreed.
“Can we come too?” one baby fox asked.
“I don’t think so,” Frederica replied kindly. “I think our
friends have had enough of foxes travelling with them,”
“But I’m not like Dad, I’m a good fox.”
“Unfortunately my son, you carry his genes and we don’t
know how you’ll turn out. So we are all staying put,” Frederica said firmly.
“I think I’ll sit this one out as well,” Lagarto said.
“I’ll join you, Lagarto,” Ana Conda agreed.
“Hsssss, you mean you’re not coming with me,” Slippery
“I’m afraid not, my slippery one. I think there’s enough
snakes in India without me slithering around. Besides, I’m sure you’ll have a
wonderful and better time with your friends. Especially without Fredrick getting
you all into trouble,” Ana Conda stated.
For the rest of the day, while the young ones occasionally
played ladders without the snakes, they continued hypothetically deciding who
They eventually made it back to the stables without a