Wildmouth shot out of his suite on the top floor of the Kola Nut Hotel and bounded down the stairs. His acute lion’s ears had heard the squeak of the letter box. He just managed to stop before knocking Miss Wu over like a skittle.
“Is it for me?” gasped Wildmouth, excitedly.
“No, it’s for Tusks!” said Miss Wu, showing Wildmouth a small package, addressed to “Mr. R. Tusks, Head Gardener, The Kola Nut Hotel”.
“What?! Again?!” asked Wildmouth, bitterly. “Jumbo-nose gets more fan mail than me!”
“It’s not fan mail! It’s some seeds he must have ordered,” said Miss Wu, showing the lion the package, which had the logo of an exotic garden centre on the front and the words Loquentes serpentium plantae on the back.
"That's plant language, you see!" said Miss Wu. She shook the package, which made a muffled rattling sound.
“Can I have some? I’m very peckish!” said Wildmouth, trying to snatch the package. “Surely the silly elephant can spare a few...”
“No! Get off!” said Wu. “Tusks would be very cross if you interfered with his private mail! You know how much he loves his plants. And don’t call him Jumbo-nose!”
Miss Wu put the package into Russell Tusks’ pigeon-hole behind the front desk, next to another small package that had been delivered the day before; Tusks was away at a botanists’ conference and Miss Wu wasn’t expecting him back until the next morning.
Wildmouth hung around the front desk, waiting for a chance to grab the package. He thought the moment had come when Miss Wu greeted some guests, a party of pelicans, as they went out for the day, but suddenly Skates, the hotel bellboy, stumbled into the lobby with a garden hose, spraying water everywhere. Miss Wu ducked behind the front desk to avoid getting soaked. Wildmouth, who naturally had a feline fear of water, ran upstairs, and watched with great amusement as Skates wrestled with the hose, as if it was a living thing.
“I can’t stop it!” cried Skates. “It’s out of control!”
Skates opened his large beak wide to try and swallow the water, but the hose flicked this way and that like a mad snake. Some pottery ducks got shot down as the walls, carpet and ceiling got alternately squirted.
Skates tried to go back outside, but by now he was entangled with the hose and couldn’t walk. The furniture in the lobby, the table, chairs and cushions sounded like a dull set of drums as the jet of water hit them. Ornaments up on a high shelf were knocked off one-by-one like targets in a shooting gallery. And then the water suddenly stopped...
Miss Wu came back into the lobby: she had crawled out to the patio to turn off the tap to which the hose was attached.
“Skates!” she cried.
“Sorry!” said Skates, preparing to be fired.
“I told you to be careful with that tap!” Miss Wu continued. “You have to turn it gently... remember?!”