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"If Youu Could See What I Hear..."
Tulips pink and tulips red, sweeter than a flowerbed!
…”By the faeries’ magic power do my tulips always flower,
By the faeries’ magic spell do they give so sweet a smell!”
Tulips, tulips, pink and white, fill the faeries with delight!
“Faerie women, faerie men, seek my tulips from the glen;
Midnight come, they may be heard singing sweet as any bird,
Singing their wee babes to rest in the tulips they love best!”
From Enchanted Tulips
“Peregrin Took, you are in my way lad!” Pearl bristled as she tripped over her youngest sibling for the third time that morning.
“Sorry,” Pippin said once more, easily skipping out of his eldest sister’s way. He paused near the door to her bedroom and watched curiously as she hurriedly made the bed and straightened her room. He absent-mindedly clutched his newest best friend in the crook of his arm. The knitted piglet was a quirky little thing, given to him by his mother during his recent illness.
While trying to keep the stubborn recovering lad in bed Eglantine had taken advantage of her son’s newest interest and joined him with her own knitting. She had silently thanked her sister-in-law more than once for enticing Pippin into taking up a quiet pastime. She and her husband had actually been able to enjoy an occasional tranquil day of late while the craft still held a great deal of interest for him.
While Pippin recovered he worked at improving his casting on and purling skills and Eglantine had found herself fashioning the toy without conscious thought. She had laughed aloud upon noticing the form her work was taking and Pippin had looked up inquisitively, his face lighting up at the sight of the wee pink piggy taking shape in his mother’s skilful hands. Eglantine had stuffed it with soft lamb’s wool and stitched on a crooked little smile of red before adding a bright pink button for a nose. A set of elegantly embroidered green eyes and a pair of pink pointy ears enhanced her colourful creation. Pippin had giggled with delight when she finished the knitted corkscrew tail with a flourish and presented him with it. Piggy was now his constant companion and his mother had chuckled when she noticed her son had taken to chatting with it.
“Pippin, why don’t you take your piglet outside for some fresh air?” Pearl suggested as she squeezed past him yet another time. “He’s been in--
“She,” Pippin corrected her quickly, “Tulip is a lass piglet!”
”All right, she’s been cooped up in here ever since our first breakfast and so have you.”
Pippin screwed up his face thoughtfully and tilted his head to one side as he tried to decide whether Pearl was just trying to get him out from underfoot. Finally he shrugged. It wasn’t very exciting to keep watching his sister scurry around anyway. Pearl sighed in relief as she watched her brother trot obediently out of the room, piggy tucked securely under his arm. She smiled and shook her head when she heard him talking to the toy again, then turned back to her tasks.
Pippin made his way through the smial quickly and reached up for the doorknob. Just as he turned it the door swung inward and his next eldest sister collided with him dropping her basket of eggs on the floor. She squealed in surprise and leaped backwards, the basket of vegetables in her other hand tipping and then smashing down onto dozens of ruined eggs. Pimpernel stared down at the top of Pippin’s curly head as he squatted and tried to pick up the vegetables that now rolled across the kitchen floor. He slid and landed on his back in the giant pile of egg goo, his knitted pig flying up into the air and careening down behind him.
Pimpernel sighed, a long suffering sound, and placed both hands on her hips. “Pippin, why were you standing behind the door? Didn’t you hear me coming?” Nell shook her head in annoyance and knelt beside him. Together they replaced the carrots and potatoes in the basket.
“I was trying to get out of the door. I didn’t hear you coming.” Pippin clambered up and scrubbed his hands on the legs of his trousers trying to remove the sticky egg mixture. It continued to drip and pool around his feet but he seemed oblivious to it. Spying his piggy underneath a chair he snatched it up and grinned at his sister. “At least I didn’t get any of this mess on Tulip,” he said, wiggling the toy at Nell.
Pimpernel rolled her eyes. “I am delighted that you saved your pig from certain ruin. Now you best be getting yourself to the bathroom so we can get you washed.” Nell set the baskets on the table and retrieved a mop from the cupboard, quickly setting about cleaning up the mess. Pippin did not move. She stopped and turned to him. “Well, what is it? I thought I told you to get your wee self to the bathtub?”
Pippin wrinkled his nose. “I don’t need a bath!”
“Yes you do! Look at you, you’re covered in dirt from the potatoes and smeared with egg goo. Why, it’s even in your hair! What will Mum say?” Pimpernel placed both hands on her brother’s shoulders and turned him in the direction of the bathroom. “Now march! Get those filthy clothes off and I’ll be right along to help you.”
Pippin obeyed this time but grumbled all the way. He held his piggy up to his mouth and whispered in its ear, then placed the toy’s mouth to his own ear. Nodding vigorously he tossed a disgruntled look over his shoulder as he went.
The freshly scrubbed hobbit lad finally managed to escape his sister’s clutches. He hurried towards his newfound freedom without delay, easily ignoring her admonishment to stay clean and keep his sharp little nose out of trouble’s way. Pippin grasped his piglet and ran out past the barn eager to get as far away from the smial and his exasperating sisters as possible. “At least I won’t be accused of being in the way again,” he sniffed with no small amount of offence. “Right Tulip?” He made the toy’s head waggle up and down and smiled at her easy agreement with his plans.
Pippin climbed up onto a high branch in the crabapple tree and surveyed the farmyard. He spied his father working nearby with several of the farmhands. They appeared to be doing something to one of the wheels on the large waggon used for hauling produce from the fields. Pippin wondered if there was anything of interest to be seen and was about to jump down and go to investigate when he heard a voice softly whisper something at his side. He swung around and saw…nothing. He tilted his head quizzically, listening closely for long moments but heard nothing more. His attention was soon drawn to another point of interest and he set aside his wondering about the gentle voice.
Pippin’s mouth twitched as he watched Vinca pass beneath his perch and his twinkling eyes tracked her progress closely. His sister was toying with her hair, attempting to place a ribbon in it to hold it back. He plucked a small apple from a branch above him and waited. When Pervinca was directly beneath his hiding place at last he released it and was immediately rewarded with a piercing squeal as the fruit plopped down onto her unsuspecting head. Pervinca stared up at her giggling little brother and scowled, then retrieved the crabapple and pelted him with it soundly.
“Oww, Vinca! I didn’t hit you that hard!” Pippin protested, rubbing furiously at his stinging arm as he glared back at her.
“It was hard enough you little scamp! Why don’t you go and find someone else to bother? Besides, you’re too small to be so high up that tree.”
“I’m not up very far and I’m not too little.”
“Yes you are. Now get down or I’m telling!”
Feeling a bit daring Pippin shook his head. He held his piggy up to his ear and listened, then covered his mouth with one hand to stifle his laughter. “I know what you mean,” he told Tulip, “but we’d best wait ‘til later. Vinca wouldn’t like it.” He grinned cheekily at his sister and waggled the knitted pig at her.
“Whatever are you talking about?” Pervinca crossed both arms in front of her and tapped her foot on the ground, the very picture of sisterly annoyance.
“I’m not talking to you, I’m having a conversation with Tulip. You shouldn’t be eavesdropping, you know. It’s very rude.”
“What?” Vinca narrowed her eyes. “I can’t eavesdrop on a stuffed pig, Peregrin. That’s ridiculous!”
“Well, you are! So why don’t you run along and allow us to have a private conversation? What we’re discussing is really none of your concern.”
Pervinca huffed her irritation at the heights to which little brothers can carry their foolishness and spun away from him muttering all the way. Pippin stuck his tongue out at her departing back. He waited until she was out of sight before tucking his friend inside his shirt and sliding effortlessly off the branch. He wasted no time scrambling to the ground, then stole carefully after his sister. Pippin shadowed Pervinca for a time listening to her grumble about him and then grew bored while she prepared a doll’s tea party on the knoll behind their smial. He decided to go and investigate what his father was doing now that he had abandoned the waggon wheel to the hired help.
Pippin tiptoed around the barn and entered through a side door. He spied his father inside talking to another farm hand, the one who tended their ponies and saw to it they were properly shod. Pippin hung back while they finished their conversation and his father exited the barn through the back.
The youngster widened his eyes in dismay pretending the hired help was plotting to overthrow the Shire. He could almost hear the dastardly plans formulating in the pony handler’s mind. Pippin became more and more distressed as he listened to the make believe plans. He had to do something! He must warn everyone! He felt Tulip becoming anxious as she squirmed inside his shirt. He plucked her out and perched her on his shoulder where she could observe the plotting hobbit along with him. The piglet’s little squeals of alarm were getting louder.
“Shhh,” he urged her, pressing his hand across her embroidered mouth. “We don’t want him to hear us.” Pippin crept forward, one careful step at a time until he was almost close enough to hear the hobbit breathe. He crouched behind a stall, his own breath tense in his throat, hoping to hear some more of the terrible plans before he went to sound the alarm. Poor wee Tulip was becoming more excited. He didn’t know how much longer she could stand the strain. He must do something, and soon! He shushed her, one hand gently patting her diminutive knitted head but still she quivered beneath his touch.
“It’s all right,” he whispered, “I’ll protect you.” He couldn’t bear to wait much longer. Closer, closer still, the youngster crept until he was able to peer through the bottom of the stall and watch as the wicked hobbit set about his business with the ponies. Ah, he thought. Acting as if there is nothing amiss, just going about his business, is he? But ‘tis all a ruse to deceive us into thinking he is a good and gentle hobbit. What he really means to do is attack us in our sleep then drag us all to meet the evil wizard who looks like Gandalf but really isn’t! Oh, whatever shall I do to stop him?
A smirk spread across Pippin’s face as he concocted a plan. He would grab a water bucket and toss it over the evil one’s head to confuse him and then tie him up and run for help! Yes, that was a perfect plan. Pippin stole out from behind the stall intending to sneak up on the farmhand and yell loud enough to scare him. Since he wasn’t using his tools at the moment Pippin figured it was all right to see his game through to its conclusion. Besides, the hired folks generally humoured him and he knew he could get away with quite a lot when they were involved. He reached out for the bucket sitting near the pony stall and prepared to pounce. Suddenly Tulip could stand it no longer and shrieked in his ear. Startled, Pippin darted out from behind the stall more quickly then he had intended causing the knitted piglet to leap from his shoulder in concern of her safety. She landed safely in a mound of hay, her soundless squeals discernible only to Pippin’s ears.
The youngster slipped in something wet and warm and his hand flailed around awkwardly trying to steady himself as his feet shot out from under him. The shovel handle he grabbed at slid away from him as he fell with a splattering PLOP and landed in the middle of the muck. The flabbergasted farmhand swung around just in time to see his boss’s son sprawling in the middle of a huge cow pat. The shovel did a slow tip and teetered before it followed Pippin into the filth, popping him on the head and bouncing once before coming to rest beside him.
“Ahh!” Tomias Grubb snatched quickly at the shovel as it fell and missed. Pippin howled his dismay. Tomias dropped to the ground beside him. “Are you all right lad?” His eyes were wide with fear.
Pippin’s wails brought several people rushing into the barn to see what had happened. Even Pansy the goose stuck her head around the corner of a stall to see who had dared to bother her. Never having cared for crowds the big goose took off in a cloud of feathers beating her great wings in the air, her indignation at the disturbance very clear.
Paladin hurried to his son’s side and dropped to his knee beside Tomias. He placed a hand on his son’s brow and brushed the thick hair aside examining the small cut to his forehead. It was bleeding slightly. Pippin’s cries had stopped and he stared up at his audience. “Are you all right son?” Pippin nodded and was about to speak when his father placed his arms around him and lifted him carefully out of the mess. Holding him away from himself Paladin headed for the pump outside the barn and put the youngster down on the bench. Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket he dipped it into the cold water someone was already pumping into a bucket and carefully applied it to the cut.
“Oww, that hurts,” Pippin yelped, batting his father’s hand away.
“Whatever happened?” Eglantine asked as she joined them, Pearl close at her side. She bent to examine her son’s injury taking hold of his flailing hands while Paladin tended to him.
“He just darted out from behind one of the stalls rather suddenly Missus Took.” Tomias’s voice was shaky. “Next thing I knew he yelled out something at me and the next,” he shook his head in wonder, “he was on the ground.” Since everyone was used to Pippin’s shenanigans no one was all that surprised. “He grabbed for the shovel to steady himself I think, and it landed on his head. I’m sorry Mr Took, I couldn’t catch the handle in time.”
“That’s all right lad, he’ll be fine.” Paladin proceeded to clean the small cut thoroughly. He looked up at his wife and daughter and winked, laughing, “He doesn’t smell all that fine though.”
Eglantine took charge. “Pearl, go and prepare a bath for your brother will you please? Pad, rinse him off well before I take him inside and-” A wail of protest interrupted her instructions.
“Not two baths in one day!”
Eglantine lifted an eyebrow and looked her son up and down impatiently. “Aye, and possibly three if I think the occasion calls for it, young sir.” She hoisted him to his feet by one arm, wrinkling up her nose as she pulled. “And perhaps even a wee bit of flowery scent for behind your ears if we can’t get all the smell off of you. Oh my, whew. How you reek!” Laughter erupted around them causing Pippin to scowl at the onlookers.
Paladin chuckled as he poured a pail of water over his son’s back. “Da! It isn’t funny!” Pippin squirmed to get away. “And that’s cold!”
“Ah well now, it’s a sight better’n smelling like cow manure, isn’t it?” Paladin grinned as he lifted another bucket and poured this one down Pippin’s front.
“Come now my lad, your sister’s got a hot bath just about ready for you. With a great deal of soap.” Eglantine took him by the arm making certain to hold him away from her as she marched him towards the smial.
“Wait!” Pippin struggled to get away.
“What is it now? You’re filthy and cold so we’ll be doing no more delaying,” his mother scolded.
“Tulip! I want my piggy, Mum!”
His mother glanced at the others in dismay. “She didn’t join you in the muck bath did she now? Because if that’s the case…”
“No, she jumped off my shoulder before I fell.”
“Will someone kindly look for piggy and return her home then?” Eglantine gripped Pippin’s arm firmly and started off again.
A chorus of “I want my pig!” could still be heard as Pippin was tugged away smartly.
“Ah, me. Well, I best be finding that missing piggy before he drives his mother to distraction.” Paladin finished washing under the pump and then strolled into the barn. He met Pervinca as she was coming out. She held the knitted pig out to her father.
“Is this what he’s wailing about now Da?”
“Aye, take it in and give it to him, will you Vinca? There’s a good lass.”
Pervinca snorted. “He’s been talking to it all morning you know. And acting like it talks back to him. He’s so silly.” She trotted off with the knitted piglet slung over her shoulder dangling by its curly tail.
The sun was high in the sky when Pippin decided to do as Tulip suggested and go for a walk to soothe his disgruntled mood. Two baths in a single day indeed! He felt himself fortunate to have at least avoided the threatened rose scent behind his ears. Nevertheless he had suffered a noteworthy scrubbing at the hands of his mother and sister. A sojourn into the meadows around their home was just what he needed to take his mind off the strong scent of soap.
He deposited some food in a handkerchief, tucked piggy into his shirt and set out across the meadow. Not far into his hike he began to hum a tune. Inside his shirt Tulip joined him in singing the chorus. Pippin marvelled at how well they harmonized together as he marched happily on his way in search of berries and adventure. It wasn’t long before he had strayed as far as he was allowed to go by himself but many a passing butterfly distracted him as he continued along the narrowing path. Inside his shirt Tulip decided not to remind him as he passed the boundaries of his family’s farm.
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