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Wee Ones  by cathleen

“Piggy is, as Piggy Does”



“What? What do you mean, ‘not one more step’? Whatever are you talking about?” Pippin gave Tulip his very best innocent look, but he saw immediately that she wasn’t fooled. He sighed, remembering that he’d very nearly fallen out of the tree yesterday when the red squirrel that nested there chattered at them in an exceptionally loud voice, startling him. Tulip reminded him that if he fell, she did too. And if he went and got himself hurt, she would also suffer for his folly because she’d be stuck in bed with him!

Pippin rolled his eyes at her bossy tone, but reconsidered his plan. He had been warned to stay out of the tree, or else. He paused for a moment to puzzle over his mother’s warning. He was never certain just what she meant whenever she told him that, but thought he was probably better off not finding out!

“All right, I won’t climb the oak today, will that make you happy?” The youngster waggled the knitted piglet’s head up and down, and then grinned. “Well,” he frowned in thought. “I can’t say how I’ll feel about it tomorrow, though. So I won’t make any promises.” Tulip snorted and bided her time, rather than scold him. She frequently managed to get her own way, so she decided to leave that discussion for later.

Pippin wrinkled his brow and looked around the farmyard. “What would you like to do then?” He plunked down on the swing that his father had made for him. Wrapping his arms around either side of the rope that supported the wooden seat, Pippin started it moving. He scuffed his feet across the bare spot on the ground underneath the swing while he listened to Tulip list her suggestions. His face brightened. “Yes, I like the idea of a picnic!”

He laughed at Tulip’s pleased expression and leaped off the swing. Both of them enjoyed anything that included food, after all. Pippin was already trotting towards the farmhouse while Tulip held fast to her favourite perch, his shoulder. His smile got bigger as she whispered in his ear; he giggled in delight. “Aye, that sounds splendid too! Tulip, how ever do you manage to come up with the best of plans?” Pippin marveled at her inventiveness and hurried faster.

“Mum!” The door slammed behind him as a gust of wind blew through the kitchen. Pippin tore through the house looking for his mother. “Mum? Where are you?” Tulip chattered away from her vantage point, suggesting he try the parlour. She knew Eglantine was usually mending or knitting this time of day. Rounding the corner in a skid, Pippin found that she was correct.

Eglantine looked up from her sewing in surprise as her son burst into the room like a small stormcloud in the process of creating a lightning strike. “Why, I thought you were playing with Vinca?” She smiled fondly as Pippin shook his head and told her about their plans in one breathless sentence.

“So we want to pack some biscuits and jam and apples and milk and perhaps a sweet or two for afters and take a blanket to sit on and go out to the meadow for a picnic and pleassssseeee say it’s alright, Mum! Please?” Pippin finally stopped to take a breath, hopping from one foot to the other in his enthusiasm and imploring his mother with wide eyes that fairly sparkled. He took another deep breath and opened his mouth.

Before he could get started again Eglantine placed a finger across his lips. “Shhh now, my little love. Do come up for air, for just a moment at least!” Pippin obeyed, but couldn’t keep from bouncing up and down impatiently while he waited for her answer. Eglantine’s mouth quirked up in a little smile. “And now, may I ask whose idea this was?” She already knew what her son’s answer would be and her smile grew at the expected answer.

“Tulip thought of it first, but I knew it was a wonderful idea the moment she said it. Isn’t it, Mum?”

Eglantine wanted to laugh aloud at Pippin’s earnest expression. Instead, she turned to Tulip with a mock frown. “Hmm, and now my wee lass piglet, per’aps you can tell me if our lad has kept himself from mischief while you’ve been outside playing for so long? Has he earned himself a picnic, what do you think?” Eglantine listened closely for Tulip’s response, and decided to tease her son, just a little. “Hmm…well now, Tulip, since you’ve told me that, I don’t know if I should say yes, then.”

Pippin’s eyes widened even more. “What? What did she tell you Mum?” he pleaded in a rather loud whisper.

Eglantine sat back in her chair and regarded him in the no nonsense way a mother has when she’s quite certain her child has been tempted to do something he knows he shouldn’t. “Tulip tells me you were thinking about climbing the oak tree out back of the barn again. And after I reminded you this morning that you hadn’t better. You do remember what I said? And what you promised?”

If Eglantine thought it was impossible for Pippin’s eyes to get any wider, she was mistaken. She almost felt bad about her little jest as he stammered out his answer.

“But…but…I…” Pippin glanced up at the piglet sitting on his shoulder, then back at his mother. “But I didn’t do it Mum! Doesn’t that count for something?”

His mother chuckled and ruffled his hair. “Ah, but you did think about it, aye?”

Pippin frowned at his feet and nodded, mumbling his answer reluctantly. Head still bowed, he asked, “Does that mean we don’t get to have our picnic?”

Eglantine pulled him into her arms for a hug. He hugged her back. “Yes, you and Tulip may have your picnic since you had the good sense to resist the temptation, m’lad.”

Pippin started bouncing again. “Thanks Mum! Come on!” He pulled on his mother’s arm, trying to get her up to follow him. The piglet took a swan dive with an ear splitting squeal during his antics, and Pippin quickly bent to retrieve her. “Oops, I’m sorry Tulip!” He dusted her off and replaced her on his shoulder, taking care to tuck her hoof under one of his braces this time. Tulip took a deep breath and then muttered her indignation, loud and long, into his right ear. Pippin winced.  “I said I was sorry!” He knew he’d have to endure her annoyance until she forgave him. Tulip in a huff was not a pleasing sight. Pippin knew he’d better offer her some extra treats to speed up the piglet’s pardon.

Eglantine enjoyed observing her little one’s antics. What an imagination Pippin possessed. She started humming a tune while she helped him prepare a luncheon to take on his adventure. Pippin joined her in the song and she listened to the sweet, clear notes with pride. Of all her children, he had the best voice. She paused in her task when Pippin suddenly stopped singing and started giggling. Pippin laughed harder at her questioning look.

He pointed to his shoulder and whispered, “Tulip was a wee bit off key!” Tulip begged his pardon, but she was not off key, ‘twas Pippin. “No I wasn’t,” he protested, still giggling. Tulip sniffed her annoyance and insisted once more that her singing voice was in perfect harmony with that of his mother, however he needed some practice. “Well, I disagree with you,” Pippin said. Fine, she told him. A moment later she stamped her little hoof down on his shoulder to better express her dismay. Pippin laughed. “Tulip, that tickles!”

Eglantine shook her head as she finished preparing the basket of food and covered it with a tea towel. She wondered for what must be the thousandth time, just which side of the family Pippin got his intense imagination from? Planting a kiss on the top of his head she handed him the basket and a small blanket, along with a gentle reminder not to go farther than he was allowed.

Pippin bobbed his head. “We won’t, will we Tulip?”

He chuckled when Tulip huffed that she still hadn’t forgiven him for his remark about her singing, and crawled under his collar to enjoy the ride. The youngster ambled across the meadow enjoying the warm sunshine and the birdsong. The picnic basket dangled from his hand and Tulip suggested he allow her to ride on top of it just for the change in scenery. They were in no hurry. It was a lovely day for a stroll, the kind that inspired a lad to think long thoughts about magical possibilities, and indulge his curiosity at every step.

The folly of wasting time having a lazy nap under a sky filled with slowly moving, sleepy clouds, appealed to both of them. “After we eat,” Pippin promised. Spying the apple tree that marked the bottom of the great meadow, and the boundary beyond which he could travel no further, Pippin hurried towards it and plopped down underneath its flowering branches. He sighed happily and opened the basket, laying out the tea towel to place the food on. Tulip sat on a corner of their blanket and supervised the meal.

Afterwards, Pippin leaned back against the tree and closed his eyes, sighing in contentment. He placed Tulip against his cheek and promptly fell asleep. Before long, a tiny butterfly joined the pair and lighted on the picnic basket. It was extremely colourful, and very different from the butterflies usually found in the meadow. A delicate face and melting eyes of gold watched the sleeping boy with great interest. Soon, other peculiar creatures joined the butterfly in her close watch. Some came on feet that barely touched the ground while others were virtually invisible. Two more hovered in the air above him, gently flapping gossamer wings of lace. A soft buzzing wandered across the meadow, as if the unusual company were busily conversing in a foreign tongue.

Pippin twitched in his sleep and brushed at the air with one hand as something touched him. One of his extraordinary visitors placed a gift in his waving hand. A gentle, mischievous giggle drifted across the meadow and into Pippin’s ears. He stirred. The giggle faded and became a voice that called his name. The hobbit lad opened his eyes and sat up, rubbing at them sleepily. He drew back his right hand and stared at it. He grasped a delicate yellow and white primrose. His eyes widened and he turned his gaze to Tulip. The piglet was as stunned as he.

Clambering to his feet Pippin whirled in a circle, scanning the landscape. Towards the edge of the woodland that bordered the farm he thought he saw a little lass in a pale white frock. He blinked and she was gone. Excited beyond belief Pippin started for the woods. He felt an immediate pinch on the tip of his ear. “Tulip! No, we have to go see--” He frowned at her stern look and the firm shake of her head. He tried again, “But I saw,” his protests faded when Tulip reminded him of his promise. How he longed to take that next step across the boundary and on to a new adventure!

Pippin wavered for a long moment, one foot half raised in preparation to take a step. He looked into Tulip’s earnest little embroidered eyes and heard his mother’s voice eliciting a promise from him. He had given his word. For now at least, he couldn’t think of a good enough excuse to break it. He took one more look across the meadow and sighed in defeat. “All right,” he said as he picked up the basket, “we’ll go the other way…today.”

Tulip wasn’t certain she was entirely happy with his answer, but it would do…for today.

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