Spluttering furiously, Creamy crawled out from under the lifebelts at last, roaring loudly as he scrambled to his feet.
‘How dare you interfere with my feeding!’ he raged, food flying from his mouth in every direction. Suddenly - unfortunately for him, but very fortunately for the steward - a piece of sausage went the wrong way down his throat, and he was choking.
The steward, on his feet again, was brushing bits of food from his jacket. Then spotting the stains all over it, he turned to Lennie and cried indignantly: ‘Just look at that! Look at the mess your friend has made! I told you to keep that ruddy bear …’
‘Bear!’ broke in Creamy, in a strangled sort of voice. He was struggling for breath, coughing and wheezing, and spitting bits of sausage out. ‘Who are you calling a bear? I'll show you a bear!’ and with that, he drew himself to his full height. His eyes glittering, paws reaching for the steward's face, he leapt forward.
‘Creamy, no!’ cried Lennie, diving for his legs, trying to trip him up. ‘You mustn't! There's a good dog, just calm down,’ he pleaded.
Creamy stopped dead in his tracks. He looked at Lennie, confused and not a little pleased; he liked it when Lennie said things like that.
‘There's a good dog,’ he repeated to himself softly, and a little anger went out of him.
‘Steward!’ said Lennie taking Creamy firmly by the paw, you must excuse my friend, he gets a little over-excited at feeding times. By the way, was that a fire alarm I heard a while ago? It seems to have stopped now.’
The steward opened his mouth. So did Creamy:
‘Fire?! What fire?!’ he cried. Why nobody ever tells me anything?!’
The steward propped himself up in the doorway, a small smile hovering round his mouth.
‘Well, Steward,’ said Lennie impatiently, ‘was it a fire alarm or not!’
The steward stopped smiling.
‘Well, Mr. Lennie, to be honest with you, it's like this,’ he began - and suddenly fell headlong at Lennie's feet, pushed violently from behind. A figure swathed in a sheet floated in, bright yellow slippers flickering, as they skimmed their way across the steward's back. In another instant, the sheet leapt down, and slithered to a stop in front of Creamy, purring softly:
‘What's going on here?’
Creamy, terror struck, slowly raised his paws above his head.