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TRYING TO CATCH AMANDA

CHAPTER 19

The story so far: Trying to catch Amanda, Philip crawls into the judge's house. The other animals wait outside.

Philip took one look at Judge Peebles' angry red face _ and the shotgun _ and darted into the room from which Amanda's screech had come.

It was a small washroom with sink, medicine cabinet and toilet. The top of the toilet tank had been knocked askew. On the floor lay Amanda, dazed. In one of her paws was a tube of toothpaste. The paste _ like a long multicolored noodle _ was wrapped around her. She looked up and saw Philip.

"Philip, baby," she murmured, "what's happening?"

"The judge is right outside."

"What judge?"

"The man who lives here."

"Bummer," Amanda said. "I told that dork Joe it was a mistake to come here. Where is he?"

"I saw him running down the hall. But _ "

"Philip," Amanda moaned, "my head hurts."

Footsteps reverberated in the hallway.

"Amanda," Philip said. "I bet that's the judge. He's looking for you."

Amanda's eyes filled with alarm. "Save me!" she cried.

Philip looked around. There was only room enough for one raccoon to hide behind the door. "The toilet tank," he cried. "You can hide in there."

"But it's full of water . . ."

"Amanda! Do it!" Philip insisted. He grabbed his sister and hauled her up.

She dipped a paw in the water. "It's too cold," she complained.

"Amanda, hurry!"

Muttering objections, Amanda got into the tank, and sank down until only her head was above water. "Philip, this is so _ " She never finished. "Hold your breath!" Philip advised as he slid the toilet tank top back, hiding her. Then he jumped behind the door.

The next moment the door flung open. Judge Peebles, gun in hand, burst in. He looked about, saw nothing, scowled, then pulled back and slammed the door.

Philip scurried out from behind the door and pushed the toilet tank lid aside. A miserably wet Amanda looked out. Her eye makeup was running. Her green fur dripped like slippery slime.

"Philip . . ." she said through chattering teeth, "Please, you have to get me out of here."

Philip extended a paw. Amanda grasped it and pulled herself out. Pools of green and orange spread over the floor. Water poured from her boots.

Philip opened the door and peeked out. He saw no one.

"Follow me!" he whispered.

Amanda, trailing a river of colored water, followed.

Philip decided the chimney was the best way out. He started to head back to the fireplace only to see the judge at the end of the hall. The shotgun was still in his hand.

"Halt!" the judge shouted.

Philip stopped. Amanda bumped into him. "The other way," Philip cried. "Fast!"

Philip _ with Amanda clumping behind in her boots _ ran up the hallway, searching desperately for a way to escape.

"Stop!" the judge cried.

At the end of the hall Philip tried the front door. It was locked. The raccoons ran into a large dining room. Table and chairs dominated the area. But Philip did notice a large window. On each side of the window were grips.

He raced to the window and looked out. The face of Hubert the skunk looked in at him.

"Amanda," Philip called, "help me get the window open."

Philip took hold of one grip, Amanda the other. "Pull," Philip cried.

Outside, other animals had begun to gather. They too attempted to lift the window. It refused to budge.

Judge Peebles stormed into the room. "There you are," he cried. Jerking up his shotgun he pulled the trigger. There was an enormous explosion.

On Wednesday: After the Explosion

Reprinted with permission of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

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