Patsy paused and listened. All was still and mousey-quiet. That wasn’t right. She turned – where was Billy? He’d been there a minute ago.
Then she saw him! He was lying so still in the water. She grabbed hold of a branch and stepped in, ready to pull him out, but a rogue current made him bob in the water, pushing him further away, almost out of reach. Patsy pounced, but the water bounced and gurgled, leaving nothing but icy wetness streaming out of her hand.
There she was stuck, one foot in the water and one on land, in danger of slipping in too - and Patsy had stumbled into deeper water with the last attempted. The girl lunged once more, crying out in frustration and then again in horror as the water rose and breached ‘safety level’, as she felt liquid ice against her skin.
“Patsy! Whatever is the matter? And I’ve told you about playing in the stream… oh, for heaven’s sake, you’ve got water in your wellie.”
“It’s Billy! He’s fallen in and I can’t get him out!” Tears streamed down her face.
Mummy took a few slow and measured steps out of the back door and looked at the stream. “So he has.” With that, she knelt down on the bank, reached out and plucked Billy up in her cupped hand.
“Here he is.” He glistened wet in her hand as she twisted his middle to unscrew the toy. “You do love your Billy Barrels, don’t you? It would have been a shame if you’d lost the very last one – especially as that’s the one that has little Billy inside.”
Mummy smiled. “All’s well that ends well. Come on, let’s get you and Billy into the house and dry you both off. Your wellies will certainly need to dry before you can wear them again. Then I’ll make us both a nice cup of cocoa and we’ll put all the ‘Billy Barrels’ back together. That way you’ll keep the ‘little ’un’ safe.”