The lions came running at them. Lydia turned suddenly and ran. Without thinking, George ran after her. Outside in the hall, after they had closed the door quickly and noisily behind them, he was laughing and she was crying. And they both stood shocked at the other’s reaction.
“Yes, come tell us about the nursery,” said George Hadley. The brother and sister looked at him and then at each other. “Nursery?” “All about Africa and everything,” said the father with a false smile. “I don’t understand,” said Peter. “Your mother and I were just traveling through Africa. “There’s no Africa in the nursery,” said Peter simply. “Oh, come now, Peter. We know better.” “I don’t remember any Africa,” said Peter to Wendy. “Do you?” “No.”
A moment later they heard the screams. Two screams. Two people screaming from downstairs. And then a roar of lions. “Wendy and Peter aren’t in their rooms,” said his wife. He lay in his bed with his beating heart. “No,” he said. “They’ve broken into the nursery.” “Those screams – they sound familiar.” “Do they?” “Yes, awfully.”
The two children were so upset that they couldn’t control themselves. They screamed and danced around and threw things. They shouted and cried and called them rude names and jumped on the furniture. “You can’t do that to the nursery, you can’t!” “Now, children.” The children threw themselves onto a sofa, crying.
Mr. Hadley looked at his wife and they turned and looked back at the beasts edging slowly forward, knees bent, tails in the air. Mr. and Mrs. Hadley screamed. And suddenly they realized why those other screams had sounded familiar.
At a distance Mr. McClean saw the lions fighting over something and then quietening down to feed in silence under the shady trees. He put his hand to his eyes to block out the sun and looked at them. Now the lions were done feeding. They moved to the water hole to drink. A shadow moved over Mr. McClean’s hot face. Many shadows moved. The vultures were dropping down from the burning sky. “A cup of tea?” asked Wendy in the silence.