really is just a rock sticking out of the sea," remarked Jerra-Mary
as they approached Gibraltar. "It looks so small and high. I'm sure
we will be able to climb all over it as soon as we land." The Bears
settled into their normal routine as soon as they landed. They would get
themselves ready to explore - first the surrounding area then further afield.
"It's just a huge fort," said Keswick
as they walked around, "and it's so much like England!" "But
the weather is a lot warmer" commented Little Bear. Keswick continued
"it must have been terrifying here when people attached it - look
at the old cannons and the thickness of the walls." "Why are
they all called bastions?" asked Little Bear. "A bastion is
just an old word for a fortified place. The whole island is a fortress
so they called each part of the wall a different name," said Jerra-Mary
who had been reading the guide book. "We'll walk up the main street
and tomorrow we'll climb the rock and even visit the Barbary Apes that
live there!" she continued.
The next day they packed their lunch in their
rucksacks and set off up the hill. They stopped on the way to pay their
respects at the Trafalgar War Cemetery - it was Remembrance Day and they
had just sailed around Cape Trafalgar and read about the battle. Then
they started the long climb up the Rock, stopping to visit the memorial
depicting the Pillar of Hercules; the Rock was supposed to have been one.
way up the Rock they cam across a group of apes. "Let's go and talk
to them," said Keswick, "they seem friendly enough!" "Hello,"
said Little Bear, "we were just admiring the view. Do you live here?"
Well, instead of getting a friendly welcome
they got a gruff reply from one of the larger apes, who seemed to be their
leader. "We donna like de strangers around here," he said in
a strange accent. "Whatta are you doing 'ere?" "Just visiting,"
said Keswick, "we mean you no harm."
The other apes of the group were now gathering
around threateningly. "We've met your type before," said the
gruff-voiced ape. "We get extra food for ransom!" And with that
he shouted "Grab 'em!" Keswick shouted "Run!" and
he and Jerra-Mary raced for a gap in their ranks. Unfortunately Little
Bear was not so lucky. She was grabbed from behind and whisked down a
gap in the rock. "Help!" was the cry the other two heard as
they were chased down the Rock.
Little Bear was bear-handled into a gloomy
wet cavern and dumped unceremoniously on a cold rock. She sat there, very
frightened, until she heard a little voice from behind her. "I don't
know why they do this - it always ends in tears. I am so sorry. I wish
that I could get away from these ruffians too." Little Bear was startled
by this and all she could think of saying was "Who's there?"
"It's only me," came the reply. "My name's S'Bastion. I'm
one of the friendly apes. Now, let's try to get out of here. When the
keepers arrive there will be hell to pay!" and before she knew it
Little Bear was hand-in-hand with the little ape and sneaking out of the
cave into the sunshine. "Where can we go where we won't get caught?"
asked S'Bastion. "I know," said Little Bear, "we'll be
safe on the boat!"
During the long walk back S'Bastion explained
to Little Bear that there were only a small number of groups of apes and
that their numbers were controlled by the keepers. "It's more than
likely that I will be chosen next year - I don't seem to fit in with the
main group. They are so 'rough and tumble'."
When Little Bear and S'Bastion reached the
boat the other two bears were really pleased. They had contacted the authorities
and had been waiting anxiously for news. Now they could let the police
know that all was well.
Little Bear told them all about S'Bastion
and suggested that, since he had saved her, they should save him. After
a lot of thinking and talking they decided to give S'Bastion the opportunity
to come on their adventures. And of course he jumped, on all fours, at
the chance. "As we are almost in England, I think we should have
a cream tea to celebrate!" said Keswick.
strangers around here…"