Suddenly, the sky went dark. Well, no, not the WHOLE sky, only the part just above Bot. “What?” thought Bot. “Night already? Surely not.” And it wasn’t night at all. It was River Bird, with its huge grey wings blocking out the sun, and hovering above Bot as he bobbed along in the middle of the river. River Bird had a thin, long neck and sharp talons on her feet and two beady eyes that were always looking for something tasty to eat. And now her beady eyes had spotted something red and shiny bobbing along in the middle of the river. It was Bot’s hat, but she didn’t know that. It looked to her like a big, juicy red fish!
So she SWOOPED down and tried to grab Bot in her sharp talons. SQUISH… Bot slipped out of her claws and fell back into the river – bub… bub… bub… bub… oooooo… plop! River Bird had never come across such a slippery fish before. She tried again. SWOOP… SQUISH… bub… bub… bub… ooooo… plop!
And now River Bird was really ANGRY! Her beady eyes were burning and her long beak was open wide as she came SWOOPING down again, picked up Bot in her beak and lifted him up… up… up… far above the river. She flapped her big grey wings as hard as she could, but Bot felt very heavy in her beak and so she couldn’t fly well. And then her mouth started paining because Bot’s hat was so hard, but still River Bird would not let go. “What?” thought Bot. “Is it all over for me now? Or not?” And it wasn’t. Because River Bird became very, very tired, and her mouth was very, very sore. So she opened her beak and out dropped Bot, high, high in the air above the river. Down he dropped. Down… down… DOWN… flying through the air and – KER… SPLASH – he dived back into the water. And he kept on going down because he had fallen from so high up in the air. Down under the water sank Bot, down… down… DOWN. Then, like a rocket, up he came again – bub… bub… bub… bub… oooooo… PLOP… plop… plop. With a jump, Bot came back to the surface, and the river welcomed him with a small fountain of spray. Whoo, that was close! But Bot was safe. And the ADVENTURE was still going on. Well done, Bot! Maybe the dangers were over at last. Maybe Bot could just float along merrily and sing his bottle songs.
It was a boat race! The oarsmen were rowing hard. The big wooden blades were cutting into the water… in… out… in… out. And the boats were coming fast downstream from behind, straight towards where Bot was bobbing along on the river. What would happen to Bot? Would one of the oars hit his shiny red hat and knock it off? Would a boat hit his glass body and break it into smithereens? Would the scroll of paper inside his glass body become a blob of pulp?
“They’re going to break the bottle!” came a shout from a little girl on the river bank.
“You mean they’re going to break the record,” corrected her mother gently.
“No, ma, the bottle. Look!” said the girl, pointing to the middle of the river. Her mother looked, but she couldn’t see anything. The chopping of the oars had made the water all swirly, and Bot with his bright red hat was in the middle of an eddy. “Ooh, I’m dizzy!” murmured Bot. “I’ve been spinning a lot. Is the adventure over? I do hope not!” Closer came the boats, and closer. Up came Bot out of the water, as though for a breath of air, and then down, down, down again. WHOOSH! went one of the boats just where Bot had been a moment ago. SPLASH! went the boatman’s oar just inches from Bot’s bright red hat. And then the boats were past, and speeding towards the finishing line downstream. And up came Bot – bub… bub… bub… bub… PLOP… plop… plop. Bot had dodged the boats and the oars just in time. Whew, that was close! Well done, Bot!