"Horace! If you don't come here now I'll pull your ears off!"

Horace was frightened of that.

He crawled from his hiding place and his mother gave him a whack on the head.

"What did I tell you?" she bellowed. "I told you not to go until after dinner."

Horace gazed heavenwards. He always got an aching head and he hated eating with a headache.

After dinner he didn't want to play with his friends.

"I'm going to find the sea."

"Oh, go on, Horace!" Morris the chipmunk complained. "Play with us!"

"You'd have a lot more fun with us than the sea," Lucy the squirrel said.

But Horace didn't want to play with his friends. He was going to find the sea.

"Many have tried," Morris warned him.

"You may be eaten by a beast like a fox," Tyke the mouse said.

"I'm not scared of foxes," he said.

Lucy sighed. "There goes another friend."

Horace looked back one more time at the clearing where his friends were all standing and set off.

On the way he heard a rustle. Quickly he scampered up a nearby tree and saw a fox pounce straight past.

That was lucky, Horace thought. It's good that I am the best of my friends at climbing trees. And I am scared of foxes.

He went on his way once more and met a deer.

It looked up when it heard him and bounded off through the forest.

Fancy a deer being scared of me, thought Horace.

He set off again.

For days he trekked on through the forest, eating any berries and nuts he came across.

Once he came across a village and hid away until night.

I mustn't get caught by them. If I do, they'll send me back home to Mum and she'll pull my ears off.

One day he smelt salt in the air.

I must be near! Horace thought.

Finally he got there. He was amazed at what he saw. A huge amount of sand with an even bigger amount of water behind it.

"I've done it!" he cried. "I've made it! I'm at the sea!"

He was so excited that he rushed to the water which he loved so much.

"My friends are wrong. I prefer playing with the sea much more than playing with them. It's not right for humans to play with animals."

Julia Cordey, aged 12



The Children's Story welcomes previously unpublished stories of up to 400 words by children under 16. Send stories with a stamped, self-addressed envelope large enough for return of original work to:

Wendy Berliner, the Children's Story, Section Two, `The Independent',

One Canada Square,

London, E14 5DL.

Please give your age.