Having almost reached his destination, Rita's laundrette, Ray Doyle stopped to have a closer look at a shop window. His sudden interest in the various DIY articles on display was only feigned. He didn't give the tools, brushes, paints and wallpapers a good long look because he planned to redecorate his flat, no, truth be told, he simply needed a quiet moment to get his breath and strength back before entering the laundrette and engaging in a chat with Rita. Rejecting Bodie's company and insisting on making the trip to the laundrette alone for the first time ever since his discharge from hospital had seemed a good idea to begin with. He had walked along briskly at first, enjoying the sunny, yet chilly morning air. Now he was panting, a thin layer of sweat coated his face and the bag with his dirty laundry felt like it weighed a ton, so he had to put it down on the ground. Try as he might, he couldn't remember going through that many clothes and towels during the week.

It took a while till his breathing slowed down and strength returned to his arms and legs. He picked up his bag with laundry and headed for the laundrette. Reaching for the door handle, he noticed a familiar figure in a blue duffle coat hurrying excitedly towards him. It held the door open for him and when Doyle had made his way in, it raised his hat politely and said: "Good morning, Mr. Doyle! How are you? Where's Mr. Bodie?"

"Good morning, Paddington," answered Doyle. He gave the young bear from Darkest Peru a bright smile before adding: "I'm doing rather well. Mr. Bodie's enjoying sleeping in snuggled up to his girl-friend. I came here all by myself!" Feeling quite pleased with himself, he omitted to mention the breather he had been forced to take. He had got here, that was all that mattered.

Paddington nearly fell over backwards. Eyeing Doyle critically, he exclaimed: "You came here all by yourself? Are you already up to such bold endeavours? You do look a bit pale!"

Hesitating for a brief moment, Doyle replied: "Don't worry, Paddington. I'm all right, just a little bit exhausted, that's all."

In a resolute movement, Paddington took the laundry bag from Doyle. It was far too heavy for the bear and he swayed precariously. Hastily, he put it down on the floor and ushered Doyle to a chair. With a tone of voice that permitted no refusal, he told Doyle to sit down. Then he hurried to the back room as fast as his legs would carry him to find Rita, who was busy checking the stocks of washing powder and fabric softener. Tugging at her apron dress, Paddington exclaimed: "Come along, please! Mr. Doyle is here all by himself and I think he looks a trifle seedy." Rita needed no second bidding, she took Paddington's paw and followed him to the chair Doyle was sitting on. With her hands on her hips, she looked him over thoroughly. With a relieved smile on her face she turned to the young bear and said: "Don't worry, Paddington. Mr. Doyle doesn't look a lot worse for wear. Actually, I think there's a twinkle in his eyes which may have got something to do with reaching another milestone in his recovery. Isn't that right Mr. Doyle?" After Ray had nodded his agreement, he felt something stroking his face. Paddington had decided to have a very close look at Doyle, which resulted in the bear's whiskers tickling Doyle's damaged cheek-bone. "Hmm," Paddington said, "he does look much better now. Maybe it was a good idea not to bring Mr. Bodie along after all." Rita gave Paddington and Doyle a smile and said: "Well, I know he's your partner, Mr. Doyle and I hope you won't mind me saying this, but I think he's got shifty eyes." To her and Paddington's utmost surprise, Doyle burst out laughing. Rita and Paddington exchanged glances and waited patiently till Doyle had calmed down again. With one arm wrapped around his hurting ribcage, Doyle explained: "I told Bodie you think he's got shifty eyes, but he didn't believe me! I'm soooooo looking forward to telling him that I was right!" Rita gave him a cheeky smile and said: "Well, if he still doesn't believe you, I can give it to you in writing." Doyle snorted, then answered: "I don't think that will be necessary, but thanks for the offer."

Having given Doyle another quick once-over, she stated: "I think you could do with a cup of tea to recover fully from your exertion." Doyle didn't take long to answer: "Thanks, that would be lovely." Paddington added: "I reckon Mr. Doyle could do with a marmalade sandwich as well. Luckily, I always keep one under my hat for emergencies." He lifted his hat, took hold of the marmalade sandwich and held it out to Doyle.

"Here you are, Mr. Doyle," he said, "I've made it freshly this morning." Doyle hesitated. As he wasn't very hungry, he was just about to reject the offer when he saw Paddington giving him a hard stare. Paddington's Aunt Lucy had taught him several hard stares which came in handy in all kinds of situations. When Doyle took the marmalade sandwich and started to nibble it, Paddington was very pleased with the way the stare intended for unruly convalescents worked. He made a mental note to tell Aunt Lucy about that when he wrote to her the next time.

Rita arrived with Doyle's tea and while he drank it and finished his marmalade sandwich, silence fell in the room. When the last crumb of sandwich and the last marmalade chunk disappeared into Doyle's mouth, he had reached two conclusions: Number one, there was nothing better than a marmalade sandwich to get your strength back and number two, he would have to see Aunt Lucy in the Home For Retired Bears in Lima one day to learn some hard stares from her. One of them might even be powerful enough to convince Cowley to give him a rise!

After his snack, Doyle felt up to tackling his laundry, but he hadn't reckoned with Paddington. The young bear snatched the laundry bag from Ray's hands when Doyle tried to lift it from the floor and said: "Leave it to me, Mr. Doyle!"

Rita and Doyle exchanged a good long look. Paddington was a very helpful bear, but a lot of times his good intentions resulted in great chaos, so Rita feared for the state of her laundrette and Doyle's laundry. Doyle gave her an encouraging smile before he turned to Paddington and told him: "All right, we will need two machines, one for warm wash and one for hot wash." No sooner had Rita pointed to two empty machines at the end of the row, Paddington began to drag Doyle's laundry bag there, Doyle following in his wake.

"Well," said Doyle, "we'll use the machine at your left paw for warm wash and the machine at your right paw for hot wash. We need to sort the laundry first and here's how we'll do it: I'll hand you a piece, saying right or left paw and you put it into the corresponding machine."

Paddington nodded eagerly and exclaimed: "Roger that!"

Paddington followed Doyle's commands with great concentration. After a couple of minutes filled by Doyle saying : "right paw - left paw", accompanied by an occasional gurgling of water or the sound of spinning, every single item had found its way into the correct machine. Having made sure the machines were closed properly, Paddington went to fetch the washing powder. When he returned, he pressed the start button and when the red light came on, he put the washing powder into the machine. Then he turned to Doyle, who gave him a smile and said: "Well done, Paddington!"

Rita was most impressed and said: "Paddington, if you keep up the good work, you might be able to earn some extra bun money here one day."

Doyle handed Paddington some coins and said: "Well, he certainly earned some extra bun money from me today."

Paddington lifted his hat several times and exclaimed: "Thank you, Mr. Doyle. That is very kind of you, Mr. Doyle." The young bear bent down and opened his suitcase to stow away the money in the secret compartment.

Doyle asked Rita: "Could you keep an eye on my laundry while I go for an appointment with Mrs. Davis? I'll be back later to pick it up."

"Course, I can," replied Rita. "Don't worry about a thing. I'll take care of everything."

Paddington asked: "Can I accompany you, Mr. Doyle? I think you could do with an escort and with Mr. Bodie being absent, I could watch your back."

Doyle chuckled, then said: "I don't think I need anybody to watch my back while I'm with Mrs. Davis, but I'd love to have some company, so come along Paddington." He held out his hand and it didn't take long till he felt Paddington's paw take a firm grip of it.

Fifteen minutes later, they arrived at Mrs. Davis's practice. She was most delighted to meet a bear from Darkest Peru and didn't mind Paddington being with Doyle for the appointment.

As usual, the first point on Mrs. Davis's agenda was working on Doyle's right shoulder and he took off his sweater for that part of the physio session. Paddington settled down on his suitcase close by, keeping an eye on Doyle's back. Well, he didn't do so literally as he was far more interested in a different part of Doyle's anatomy at the moment.

Paddington had never seen Doyle's bare chest before and he fell over backwards with astonishment. He hadn't expected his mate to be so furry! However, Mr. Doyle's hairdo was rather long and fluffy, so it was probably only natural that Mr. Doyle's chest was quite hairy, too. A thought crossed Paddington's mind and he asked: "Do you happen to have any bear ancestors, Mr. Doyle?"

At that moment, Mrs. Davis did something to his shoulder that made Doyle wince and Paddington jumped up from his suitcase and gave Mrs. Davis a hard stare for hurting his friend. It was a good job he had come along, these physio sessions seemed to be quite dangerous. Ray noticed the hard stare on Paddington's face and said: "It's all right, Paddington. Mrs. Davis does a good job at making my shoulder flexible, but that hurts a bit sometimes. I'm afraid that's necessary!"

Paddington didn't look entirely convinced, so Doyle decided it might be best to change the subject and asked: "What was that about me having any bear ancestors? What gave you that idea?" The expression on Doyle's face was a rather puzzled one.

"Oh," exclaimed Paddington, "you've got quite a lot of hair on your chest, so I was wondering if there are any bears in your family tree."

A flabbergasted Doyle took a while to reply: "No, I haven't got any bear ancestors, but I sure would be very proud if I had. I guess my chest is just a bit more furry than the ordinary biped's chest. As a matter of fact, usually I have even more chest hair, it's in the progress of growing back after the surgery. The surgeons had to shave my chest before opening it, you see."

"Ah," said Paddington, "just like when Sir Mortimer Carroway had to shave a piece of my fur when I suffered from galloping toffee drips."

"Galloping toffee drips?" Mrs. Davis and Doyle exclaimed in unison.

Paddington nodded vigorously and explained: "One day, I was making a big batch of my everlasting toffees and some of the stuff dripped onto my stomach and set hard. I couldn't get up and I was in quite a bit of pain. They rushed me off to hospital and Sir Mortimer had to remove a patch of my fur. He had it framed, you know!" Paddington looked rather proud about that. He added: "It grew back rather quickly as I strictly followed the prescribed diet of lots of marmalade. Maybe you should have some marmalade as well, Mr. Doyle?"

Mrs. Davis gave Paddington a smile and said: "That is a very good idea, Paddington. There's nothing like marmalade to make chest hair grow back, I've read that in one of my physio books."

Paddington hurried back to his suitcase as fast as his legs would carry him. He opened it and took out a jar of his special marmalade from the cut-price grocer in the Portobello Road. After opening the jar, he held it out to Doyle and said: "Just dip your hand into the jar, Mr. Doyle. That's the way I always do it!"

A smile passed Doyle's face. He had watched Paddington dip his paw into a jar of his special marmalade very often and to be offered to do likewise was a great honour. Without hesitation, he dipped his left hand into the jar. An appreciative smile passed his face when he licked the marmalade from his fingers. Mrs. Davis made a manoeuvre with his right arm which was quite painful, but Doyle didn't wince even a little bit. Marmalade didn't only make chest hair grow back, it obviously was an excellent pain killer as well.

Paddington was quite busy keeping an eye on Doyle's chest. After a while, he exclaimed: "I think your chest hair is growing faster already. I knew my special marmalade with an extra lot of chunks would do the trick."

Mrs. Davis inspected Doyle's chest as well, just because she had a professional interest, she told herself half-heartedly. She gave Paddington a smile and said: "I do believe you're right. You'd better buy some more of that marmalade before the stocks run out, Paddington. I'd love to see Mr. Doyle's bear-like chest hair grow back soon."

"I'll do that, Mrs. Davis," Paddington replied.

After watching Doyle closely for another good while, Paddington started to feel a bit bored and scanned the room to find something to do. An object that looked very much like a ladder caught his eye. He liked climbing trees and he so wanted to test that kind of ladder. He cast Mrs. Davis and Doyle a questioning glance. Mrs. Davis gave him a smile and said: "You can have a go at the wall bars, but you have to be careful."

With a serious expression on his face, Paddington answered: "Don't worry, Mrs. Davis. Bears are good at climbing trees and that looks a bit like a tree, so I should be all right."

True to his word, Paddington swiftly climbed up and down the wall bars. Mrs. Davis and Doyle were quite impressed. Doyle chuckled, then said: "Blimey, Paddington, you're as fast as greased lightening. One could hardly say marmalade sandwich, let alone nibble one during the time you take to get up and down."

Looking proudly at Doyle and Mrs. Davis, Paddington replied: "I told you bears are good at climbing and I really love it." He turned to have another climb, which was even faster than the first. Paddington was indeed an expert climber with the marmalade on his paws providing an extra good grip. Keeping an eye on the young bear made Doyle feel quite dizzy. All he could see most of the time was a flurry of brown fur dashing up and down the wall bars. After a while, he shouted: "Paddington, slow down, you'll be sea-sick if you carry on at this rate... my knees go wobbly just by watching you."

Paddington, who was just about to reach the ground again, snorted indignantly at the thought of being sea-sick while climbing. The momentary lapse of concentration made him fall down to the ground with a dull thud. Mrs. Davis and Doyle were just about to leap up to check on him, when Paddington scrambled to his feet and dusted himself down. Registering the worried expressions on his companions' faces, he exclaimed: "Don't worry, bears always fall on their feet, you know!"

Heaving a sight of relief, Doyle said: "I'm very glad they do."

Mrs. Davis gave Doyle a gentle pat on the back and said: "And a certain CI5 agent failed to notice that his shoulder is back to full mobility. He didn't even wince when I made the crucial manoeuvre as you had him so distracted, Paddington. Well done, both of you!"

Doyle and Paddington exchanged glances before Paddington said: "It's a good thing I came with you, Mr. Doyle."

Moving his shoulder experimentally, Doyle replied: "I'm sure grateful you came along, Paddington!"

The young bear beamed. He felt a bit hungry after all the climbing he had done and wished he had fixed some more marmalade sandwiches in the morning. Yet he didn't regret giving the one he had made to Mr. Doyle. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," Mrs. Bird often said that and he wholeheartedly agreed with her on that matter.

Half an hour later, Doyle and Paddington were at the baker's to collect some buns. They had stopped at the laundrette before and Rita had told them to come back a little later for Doyle's laundry, so they had decided to pay a visit to Mr. Gruber for their elevenses.

Paddington licked his lips while he gazed at the various buns available. He had a standing order for plain buns, but he felt so hungry that he considered spending some of the bun money Mr. Doyle had given him on a marmalade and cream bun. He was just about to open his suitcase to get his money, when he heard Mr. Doyle say: "I'll pay for Paddington's standing order and please add three marmalade and cream buns, Mr. Crisp!"

Paddington nearly fell over backwards. He knew that Mr. Doyle had to be rather clever to work for CI5, but he was quite surprised that he was obviously able to do mind reading. That had to come in handy when solving crimes, the villains probably hardly stood a chance against Mr. Doyle.

When they arrived at Mr. Gruber's shop, he was busy polishing some silver plates which he had bought at an auction the day before. Dropping the polishing cloth, he exclaimed excitedly: "Mr. Doyle! Mr. Brown! How good of you to stop by just now. I've got some exciting news for you."

Doyle and Paddington exchanged a curious glance before Doyle asked: "What kind of news?"

Mr. Gruber waved his hands eagerly over an empty easel in the room and said: "I've sold the painting the two of you did together to an American arts dealer! He was most impressed by the way you used marmalade, toast crumbs, marmalade chunks and oil colours to create a whole new way of painting. Said he'd call it bearly art ! Oh, and he told me to ask you to do more paintings for his gallery."

Both Paddington and Doyle were flabbergasted when Mr. Gruber produced a crisp one hundred pound note and handed it to Doyle. Paddington's jaw dropped. Giving him a wide grin, Doyle said: "I guess we'll go into mass production." Paddington vigorously nodded his agreement.

Doyle asked: "What will you do with the hundred pounds?" Paddington looked at him with a surprised look on his face. "Do you mean I can keep the whole money? I thought we'd share it."

Shaking his head, Doyle said: "No, you keep all of it."

"Thank you very much, Mr. Doyle. I'll use some of it to buy some Christmas presents and the rest will be sent to my Aunt Lucy in the Home For Retired Bears in Lima, so they can have a delicious Christmas dinner."

"Ah, you're a wise bear, Paddington," said Doyle and handed him the money.

While consuming the buns and some cups of steaming hot cocoa which Mr. Gruber prepared on the small oven in the back of his shop, Paddington told his friend Mr. Gruber all about his and Doyle's adventures of the morning. Having finished his report, Paddington leant back on Mr. Gruber's horsehair sofa and started to nibble his marmalade and cream bun. Soon his whiskers were covered with cream and a lump of marmalade was stuck to his nose. Tactfully handing the bear a napkin, Mr. Gruber said: "You had a very busy morning, Mr. Brown and Mr. Doyle, I'm so pleased to hear about the progress you're making."

Doyle smiled and said: "Yeah, not bad for somebody who was technically dead during surgery."

"Not bad at all indeed," Mr. Gruber said with a smile on his face.

A little later, Paddington had finished his marmalade and cream bun and had wiped away almost all the stains caused by it. Doyle hadn't eaten his, he had only eaten a plain bun and so Paddington asked: "Aren't you going to have your marmalade and cream bun?"

"No, Paddington," Doyle replied, "Mrs. Goldmann and Mrs. Sonntag will bring me lunch as usual and I'd better leave some room for that. You can have my marmalade and cream bun."

Paddington licked his lips. "Thank you very much, Mr. Doyle. I'll put it under my hat for an emergency. Bears often have emergencies, you know."

So, when Doyle and Paddington left Mr. Gruber's antique shop sometime later, the latter had a strawberry marmalade and cream bun safely stowed away under his hat and the former couldn't help grinning about that.

Remembering how carrying his laundry to the laundrette had exhausted Doyle, Paddington insisted on accompanying his mate to his flat. The bag with Doyle's laundry was put into Paddington's shopping basket on wheels and they made their way to Doyle's block of flats. Just as Doyle was about to insert his key into the lock of the entrance door, it was opened and Mrs. Goldman and Mrs. Sonntag emerged.

"Thank goodness, you're home Mr. Doyle. We've just tried to deliver your lunch and with nobody answering the door, we've decided to go out and look for you," Mrs. Goldman explained. Mrs. Sonntag added: "We were worried about you going on your first outing all by yourself."

Giving the ladies a reassuring smile, Doyle replied: "There's nothing to worry about. Paddington did a great job watching my back. I was wondering if I might be able to invite him for lunch..." He raised an eyebrow and cast the ladies a quizzical look which was answered with a very indignant look on the ladies' faces and Mrs. Sonntag explained: "If you want to know whether there's enough food for two, the answer is yes, there is and you should know that by now." Mrs. Goldman added: "We tried a recipe for pasta with tomato sauce and vegetables which Vincenzo gave us. I hope you'll like it." Both Paddington and Doyle liked their lips. Doyle asked: "So, Paddington, would you like to have lunch with me?" The bear exclaimed: "Oh, yes, I'd very much like that, Mr. Doyle. Hmm, but I'll have to call Mrs. Brown to let her know where I am, so she won't worry."

Doyle replied: "We'll do that, Paddington."

They all went inside together and Paddington and Doyle collected their lunch. The ladies had indeed fixed enough food to feed two people. After Doyle and the young bear had eaten all that could fit into their stomachs, there was even a bit left for Bodie.

"That's hardly enough for Bodie's appetite," stated Doyle, "but as he failed to get here in time, it serves him right to leave the table wanting for once."

"I could fix him some marmalade sandwiches for dessert," offered Paddington. "No," said Doyle, "he knows his way around my kitchen, he can fix whatever he wants himself." Suddenly, he yawned hugely and Paddington said: "You'd better go for a lie-down!"

Feeling very tired, Doyle was very tempted to take a nap, but he pointed to the pile of dishes in the sink and said: "We should better take care of that mess first!"

"Don't worry, Mr. Doyle, I'll take care of that. Bears are good at clearing up messes," Paddington said proudly.

Doyle hesitated for a moment. He thought that bears in general were probably good at clearing up messes, but the one present in his kitchen at that moment was very good at creating messes as well. He thought that he should give Paddington a hand, but sleep was about to overpower him, so he said: "All right, I'll go and lie down for a while. Wake me up if you need a hand."

Paddington ushered him out of the kitchen and to the bedroom. He waited patiently while Doyle took off his cowboy boots and made himself comfortable in bed. The moment Paddington pulled the blanket up Doyle's chin, he realized that his mate was already fast asleep. Paddington waited till Doyle's breathing was even, then he quietly tiptoed out of the bedroom.

When Bodie arrived half an hour later, there was nobody answering the doorbell which caused his stomach to go into a knot. When he had called Doyle in the morning to tell him that he'd slept in again, Goldilocks had decided to walk to the laundrette and his physio session by himself. Bodie had protested at first, urging his mate to wait for him or call a taxi, but Doyle had stubbornly refused that proposal. Opening the door with the key Doyle had given to him, Bodie hoped that his partner was all right. He called out Doyle's name, but there was no reply. Bodie checked the living room first, it was empty. The kitchen was empty, too. It was also spotlessly clean, but something on the kitchen table caught his eye. There was a pot and next to it, there was a plate with two marmalade sandwiches. A note leant against the pot and it read: "Mr. Bodie! There's some paasta for you, but as Mr. Doyle thinks that's not enuff for you, I made you some marmalade sandwiches for dessert." The note was signed "PADINGTUN" and carried the bear's paw mark to show it was genuine.

Bodie smiled to himself. So, Doyle had obviously met Paddington, but where were the two furry ones? Knowing Doyle's habit of taking an after-lunch nap, he went to the bedroom. The curtains were drawn, leaving open only a small gap through which some light filtered. Bodie couldn't see anybody, so he approached the bed. As he did so, he nearly stumbled over Doyle's cowboy boots. He fought hard to stifle the curse which was lingering on the tip of his tongue and opened the curtains a bit more. When he scanned the bed, he saw Doyle lying on his right side, fast asleep. Paddington was cuddled up next to him with one of Doyle's arm cradling him. Bodie smoothed the crumpled blanket and quietly left the room to have his lunch.

An hour later, both Paddington and Doyle were not only wide awake, they were also very busy doing another painting. Bodie had grabbed the paper to read and from time to time cast a glance at Doyle and Paddington. The sight was quite peculiar, he thought. The easel with the painting was placed in the centre of the room, the two artists were sitting in front of it, with Paddington wearing one of Doyle's old shirts to protect his fur from acquiring too many stains. They were surrounded by all the equipment needed during the creative process. The equipment they needed was the most peculiar thing in the room. According to Bodie, the more apt term was "ingredients" as most of the stuff had found its way to the living room from the kitchen cupboards. There were jars of marmalade, slices of toast, tomato sauce, noodles and rice. To Bodie, this kind of painting was very abstract and he found it hard to believe that somebody would pay a hundred quid for a painting. Yet the quiet industriousness with which Doyle and Paddington worked brought a smile to his face.

When he had turned over the last page of the paper, Paddington exclaimed: "Done!" He and Doyle got up and moved back a few steps to have a good long look at their work. After a while, they nodded simultaneously and Doyle said: "Let's sign it!" He put his name in the bottom right corner of the painting and Paddington put his right next to it and added a paw mark to show his signature was genuine.

As the work of art was better off left alone while drying, they decided to go on an outing. Besides, watching paint while it dried was a very boring undertaking, so Doyle asked: "Where shall we go, Paddington?" The young bear didn't take long to answer: "I love the Christmas lights in the city." Doyle cast Bodie a questioning glance. As Bodie would have to do the driving, it was up to him to decide about their destination. Being in the mood for some mischief, Bodie kept his mates on tenterhooks for a while by saying: "Well, um, I need to think about that." Keeping up the charade was very difficult with Paddington and Doyle giving him pleading looks. The bear's eyes, which were quite round by nature, seemed to grow even rounder by the second until Bodie burst out laughing. Having calmed down again, he said: "All right, all right, we'll go and have a look at the Christmas lights."

"Thank you, Mr. Bodie," Paddington said, hastily took off Doyle's shirt, which had accumulated a vast array of very interesting stains and donned his duffle coat and hat.

Only a little while later, Bodie steered the Capri to Trafalgar Square. With a mischievous smile on his face, he said: "I wish I had taken a picture of the two of you giving me pleading looks. You looked most impressive, but I didn't plan to say no anyway. I was just teasing you." The smile on his face turned into a big grin when he heard Doyle's exasperated shout: "Bodie, don't do that! That's not nice." Paddington gave Bodie a hard stare, but as he was sitting in the back seat, Bodie couldn't see it. Yet he felt something burning in his back and if somebody had taken a picture of him at that moment, it would have shown a CI5 agent with a very bright red neck.

All the friendly squabble was forgotten when they stood in front of the Christmas Tree at Trafalgar Square. Paddington's mouth was wide open. That was the tallest Christmas Tree he had ever seen. The lights were arranged vertically and to Paddington, it seemed like all the stars from heaven had been put on that tree. It was a sight to behold and Paddington stopped munching the roasted chestnuts Doyle had bought for him.

Doyle was glad to see Paddington so happy and thought how fortunate he was to be back to the land of the living. He would have missed moments like these if he hadn't decided to put up a fight against the grim reaper and that would have been a great loss. He explained: "The tree is a gift from Norway to thank the British people for the support when Norway was occupied by Germany. The Norwegians send a tree to London every year and they make sure it's a beautiful one. Do you like it, Paddington?"

The bear nodded his agreement from behind a cloud of steam which rose from the bag of roasted chestnuts and said: "It's the most beautiful and tallest tree I've ever seen. The trees Mr. Brown buys are all a lot smaller. Sometimes it's difficult to cram all the presents underneath it."

Doyle chuckled, then said: "That's because the Christmas Tree has to fit into the Browns' living room, Paddington."

Paddington looked wistful and: "It would be nice to have a tree like that for once, Mr. Doyle. Maybe we could renovate the house to accommodate a tall tree. I could lend a paw."

With a smile on his face, Doyle answered: "We'll see about that, Paddington. Now come on, finish your chestnuts before they get cold." Paddington followed that order at once and another bag of chestnuts was polished off in no time at all as well.

They strolled about the city for a while and Paddington did some secret Christmas shopping. When he came out of Harrods, Doyle tried to sneak a peek into Paddington's shopping bags, but the young bear gave him one of his hardest stares ever and Doyle flinched, saying: "All right, Paddington, your secrets are safe."

Paddington was far from being totally convinced and he made doubly sure nobody caught a glimpse of the presents he had bought while loading them into his shopping basket on wheels a while later when they came back to the spot where the Capri was parked. It was time to take Paddington home, so after safely stowing away Paddington's shopping basket on wheels, Bodie started the engine and they headed for number 32, Windsor Gardens.

Driving along the Portobello Road, Bodie slowed the Capri down considerably. Doyle, who had just started a new round of the game I spy by saying: "I spy with my little eye something that is yellow," cast his partner a quizzical look. He felt tension radiating from Bodie and instinctively tried to reach for his gun which of course was safely stowed away in his flat. With a husky voice, Doyle asked: "What's up?" Pointing to a young, red-haired man in a black leather jacket walking along the pavement, Bodie answered: "I spy an alleged IRA member. Kieran O'Donnell, probably involved in the bombing of a pub in Belfast last year. Supposed to have moved to London and on the most wanted list."

Doyle looked the man over while Bodie trailed in O'Donnell's wake. The rush hour was just starting, so Bodie hoped it would be possible to follow the man without being noticed. Paddington sat up straighter in the back seat and said: "Are we chasing a bad man?" Doyle turned round to face the bear and answered: "That's right. Act unobtrusively, Paddington. We don't want to attract any attention." Paddington nodded vehemently in response.

Doyle cast a brief glance at his partner and said: "I'd better call it in!" He didn't like the idea of trailing an IRA man with Paddington in the car, so he hoped back-up would arrive fast.

Bodie had hardly nodded in response when a lot of things seemed to happen simultaneously. Doyle's hand was inches away from the car radio, when Bodie yelled: "Damn, he's turned into a side-road!" Doyle looked out of the side-window of the Capri and caught a glimpse of O'Donnell turning a corner. Before Bodie could pull the Capri into that road, the bin lorry travelling in front of them came to stop, blocking the Capri's way. As the car stopped, Bodie banged his right hand on the steering wheel and muttered a few choice words. Then he got out of the Capri to chase after O'Donnell. Doyle made a second attempt to call in, but this time he was interrupted by the sound of the back door opening. Leaving the car in a hurry, Paddington called to Doyle: "I'll cut him off! I know my way around here very well." Doyle groaned before shouting: "Paddington! Come back here at once!" His words went unheeded and now it was Doyle's turn to jump out of the car. He caught a glimpse of Paddington's blue duffle-coat as the bear turned into another side-road and chased after him. The speed with which he was running was nowhere near the speed he usually reached when following a suspect and there was a sharp pain inside his chest. He ignored it as best he could and carried on, even when the sound of car horns reached his ears. Obviously, the bin lorry had moved on and now the Capri was blocking the way. Doyle didn't care, he just hoped to catch up with Paddington before the bear came face to face with O'Donnell.

Paddington's hopes, however, were quite different. He loved reading detective-stories and had tried his paws at solving cases a number of times. Only the villains he had been chasing had turned out to be law-abiding citizens in the end. This was his big chance to help apprehend a true baddie, so he carried on as fast as his legs would carry him. Very soon he got his wish. When he turned another corner, he found himself in a backyard and O'Donnell came racing towards him with his gun drawn and his face set in a very determined way. You couldn't tell whether he was taken aback by meeting a bear as he neither slowed down nor faltered a tiny bit. Paddington, who had been so enthusiastic about chasing a baddie only a split second before, felt his heart sink. He knew what terrible damage a gun could do, Mr. Doyle had shown him the scars caused by the bullets that had hit his body and the surgical scars. With O'Donnell coming nearer and nearer, he announced to the world in general: "I'm in trouble again." This was the worst emergency a bear could have, he thought. Then another thought went through his mind: "There's a marmalade and cream bun for emergencies under my hat!" In a swift and resolute movement, he took off his hat, grabbed the bun and hurled it towards O'Donnell. The effect was quite astounding! O'Donnell staggered when his feet trod on the bun, waved his arms wildly in the air and fell in a heap.

Then a single shot rang out!

The shot was heard by Bodie and Doyle and both of them tried to run even faster. For Doyle, that was very hard to do. The heavy breathing sent fires of pain through his ribs. His heart was beating so fast and hard against his chest-bone, he thought the bone would crack. Summoning up the last of his reserves, he turned another corner and caught sight of Paddington who was just kicking an object lying on the cobblestones. Seeing Paddington alive and obviously unharmed, recharged Doyle's batteries and he managed to run to Paddington's side. Sizing up the situation in an instant, Doyle got hold of the gun which had been kicked out of O'Donnell's reach by Paddington and held the IRA man at gunpoint. The blood thundered in his ears, his knees were wobbly and his heart beat was only gradually slowing down, but after a moment he managed to say in a grim voice: " CI5! O'Donnell, you're..." He looked at Paddington and the bear finished his sentence: "...nicked!"

At that moment, Bodie arrived at the scene. He could hardly believe his eyes. O'Donnell was lying on the ground and Doyle had a gun pointed at him. Paddington stood next to Doyle and gave O'Donnell several hard stares in quick succession. Bodie crossed the distance with a few quick steps and yanked O'Donnell to his feet. The man was covered in cream and marmalade and wisely refrained from putting up a fight. Bodie cuffed O'Donnell to a railing and addressed Doyle and Paddington: "Are you all right?" Both nodded, though Doyle looked quite pale and was still in the process of recovering from the exertion of the chase. Paddington went to an empty barrel which was standing in the backyard. There was a hole in it and Paddington said: "A shot went off when he fell and hit the barrel and then he must have let go of his gun."

Bodie and Doyle exchanged glances before Bodie stated: "That shot scared the wits out of me, I'm glad the two of you are all right. Now let's get this bastard out of here."

A small procession made its way back to the Capri a little later with Bodie, dragging along O'Donnell in front and Doyle and Paddington bringing up the rear.

An hour later, Major Cowley directed an inquiring look at the party sitting at his desk. There was no mistaking the exasperated tone in his voice when he said: "What I can't understand is how you lot managed to arrest an IRA man." He directed a hard stare at Bodie and said: "You are off duty today!" Then another hard stare was sent to Doyle when the head of CI5 added: "You Doyle, are still on sick leave." One last hard stare went into Paddington's direction and he said: "And you, young feller me bear, weren't supposed to be near an IRA man at all." Paddington didn't shirk the hard stare, on the contrary, he returned it with an especially hard stare his Aunt Lucy had told him to use in dire circumstances only. The effect was quite amazing. A little flustered, George Cowley turned his attention back to his two top operatives.

Doyle mustered enough courage to speak: "It just happened, Sir. One minute we're driving along the Portobello Road, playing a game of I Spy and all of sudden, Bodie spots O'Donnell and we're in the middle of a chase."

Major Cowley's face seemed to grow a funny shade of red when he said: "You mean to tell me that a game of I Spy turns into a dead serious chase for a terrorist just like that?" He snapped his fingers before adding: "Oh, and tell me why O'Donnell was covered in cream and marmalade, that is most interesting."

It was Bodie's turn to answer the question: "Well, that's because Paddington felled him with a marmalade and cream bun."

"A marmalade and cream bun?" There were days when Major Cowley felt too old for this job, particularly when Bodie and Doyle were involved. He decided that some things were better left in the dark, so he said: "I think I'd better not know any more about this. I'll inform the Minister that you apprehended O'Donnell and that he confessed to be an IRA member. He also revealed plans to bomb a pub in London and his associates are being arrested as we speak. I'm really surprised he didn't put up much resistance, he kept muttering something about being caught by a bear and appeared to be in a bit of a state." George Cowley shook his head before adding: "You did well, the three of you. Yet all this is highly irregular, so you'd better get out of my sight before I can think of any disciplinary action."

Bodie, Doyle and Paddington jumped to their feet, respectively paws and exclaimed in unison: "Yes, Sir, of course Sir." Then they bid a very hasty retreat, leaving behind a Major Cowley who was smiling to himself.

When they finally took Paddington home, the young bear felt most important as Doyle had instructed Bodie to use the siren. They provided quite a sight...a Capri going like the clappers with a bear standing up on the passenger seat. Doyle had Paddington in a firm grip so he wouldn't lose his balance when he raised his hat politely to the many people who gave them a wave. Bodie concentrated on his driving, muttering from time to time: "I hope the old man won't get to hear about this!"

They safely made it to number 32, Windsor Gardens and Bodie did a precise handbrake turn in front of the driveway. He reversed the Capri into the driveway and parked it expertly. When Doyle left the car with Paddington in tow, they heard a voice bellowing: "Bear! I knew it had to be you involved in all that clamour." Paddington and Doyle gave Mr. Curry a very hard stare and Bodie showed the Browns' neighbour his CI5 ID. He said: "This bear is involved in a very important CI5 operation, so you'd better shut it."

Mr. Curry opened and shut his mouth several times, like a stranded fish gasping for air. Then he turned around and went into his house.

Paddington was very pleased and said: "I've never seen Mr. Curry like this and I must say, I quite like it."

Doyle said: "He deserves it for being so mean to you!"

When they went into the house, they were enthusiastically greeted by a very excited party of Browns who had been waiting for them. The story about how Paddington had caught an IRA man with a marmalade and cream bun had to be repeated several times during a long and delicious dinner. Mrs. Bird had made so much food, that in the end, even Bodie didn't leave the table wanting.

Later that evening, Paddington did spend a long time making notes about the day's adventures in his scrapbook. He was very tired, but he wanted to write everything down while it was still fresh in his memory. In the process, he emptied two cups of hot cocoa and dipped his paw in a jar of marmalade many, many times. It was way past midnight when he fell into a well-deserved sleep.

Ray Doyle had a much earlier night. Nurse Sheridan immediately ordered him to bed after she had given him a very thorough check-up. Doyle tried to give her a hard stare to plead for five more minutes, but he was doomed to disappointment. With a very stern look on her face, Nurse Sheridan said: "I know Paddington's doing a great job at teaching you these hard stares, but they're not quite as effective when your eye-lids are drooping. You had a very exhausting day, so off to bed you go...NOW!" There was no answer to that, so Doyle headed for the bedroom. A long time before Paddington fell asleep with a paw in his jar of marmalade, it was his turn to nod off.