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Chapter 8

Fortunately, neither Creamy nor Lennie noticed it, for at that very moment, their eyes were drawn to the sudden commotion at the door. Passengers, wrapped in sheets and blankets, were streaming in. The steward, his white jacket wiped clean of the last bits of food, was directing them to the pile of life jackets at the far end of the lounge.

Move along! Move along!’ he urged. ‘Everyone take a life jacket and sit down, please.’

‘What do you mean ‘sit down,’ may one ask?! I mean, what's the point of sitting down with a lifejacket?!’ demanded a small wrinkled face peering irritably out of an orange blanket. ‘Have we been dragged out of our beds just to sit around with lifejackets in our laps?!’

‘Yes, exactly! What's the point of that!?’ another voice piped up, quivering with indignation. ‘You'd better have an explanation for dragging us out of beds, my good man!’ cried a bundle by the steward's side.

‘The steward turned round and found himself staring at a pair of glasses perched across a large nose like a percentage sign. He could also feel hidden hands pulling at his jacket, and feet stepping on his toes. He took a deep breath, and shaking himself free, roared above the commotion:

‘Now, CALM DOWN everybody, please! Let me explain. You must have heard the fire alarm, and …’

‘FIRE alarm? What fire alarm?!’

‘Fire?! Where?!’

‘Never mind where! Get me out of here!’

‘I want to leave the ship!’

‘Me, too!’

Pandemonium broke out in the lounge. Everybody was shouting and running about, and tripping over everybody else.

‘CALM DOWN! LISTEN TO ME EVERYONE! JUST LISTEN! IT'S ONLY A DRILL! A FIRE DRILL!’ pleaded the steward desperately. But nobody took the slightest notice of him. A heaving mass of arms and legs was struggling to through the door.

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