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This ficlet is dedicated to Pearl Took, with many thanks for her wonderful suggestions, and for Tulip's wee "Nose-Job"!!
“Tulip Takes a Tumble”
(Or, Why Tulip Got a Nose Job!)
“I told you not to try that, now didn’t I, young sir?”
“And what did you do? You went right ahead and tried it anyway!”
“Yes, Mum.” The youngster did his best to look contrite.
“Well,” Eglantine shook her head as she bustled about to the other side of the bed and wrestled another fluffy pillow into its clean linen slip. “I don’t think you’ll be doing it again, aye?”
“No, Mum.” Pippin took a deep breath, sighing out his reply and barely resisting the urge to roll his eyes while his mother continued fussing over him. Tulip quickly chimed in, and of course, agreed with every word. After all, his mother had warned him, and so had she! Pippin laid his head back on his pillow and sighed. He knew he was unlikely to hear the end of this talk anytime soon, and he wasn’t at all surprised that Tulip had decided to toss in her own ha’pence.
“Now you’re going to be stuck here, and miss out on all the fun tonight. And simply because you couldn’t listen to your mother in the first place.” Eglantine bent and plucked several pieces of straw out of her son’s auburn hair before continuing her lecture.
“But nothing, m’lad.” Eglantine picked up Pippin’s hairbrush off the nightstand and removed more straw from his hair, then gave his curls a good brushing in the process.
“Oww!” Pippin batted his mother’s hand away as she struggled with a particularly stubborn snarl. “I can do it myself, Mum,” he grumbled as Eglantine clucked at him and then handed him the brush.
Pippin rested in bed, a pillow elevating his swollen ankle and a bright white bandage decorating his forehead. Tulip perched next to him, a matching binding adorning her hoof, a bandage on her snout, and a tiny splint wrapped around her tail. Pippin was quite certain he could see steam coming from her ears, as much as his mother’s, and they wore almost the same frown. He grimaced. There was nothing like being scolded from opposite directions at the same time.
Eglantine bustled about his room while she waited for Paladin to fetch some ice for Pippin’s sprain. “Ah, here you are.” She took the cool cloth from her husband and wrapped it gently around her son’s foot, then placed the ice bag on top.
“That’s cold!” Pippin protested, grabbing for it, and Tulip squeaked in agreement. Eglantine gently swatted his hands away.
“Yes, and if it were warm it wouldn’t bring down the swelling, now would it?” Paladin chuckled and ruffled Pippin’s hair, picking a few more stray bits of straw out of it. He tipped his son’s chin up with his finger, his expression now serious. “And I don’t want to find you jumping down into the hay from up in the rafters ever again, you hear?”
“No, Da,” Pippin mumbled, lowering his eyes.
Paladin planted a kiss on the top of his son’s head. “Good. See that you remember that.”
Pippin nodded and darted a sideways glance at Tulip. The piglet’s frown had deepened and he had the feeling she’d have a great deal more to say once they were alone. He could already hear her mumbling at him under her breath. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea not to be alone with her. He had done a very foolish thing this time and ignored Tulip’s warning every step of the way. He clutched at his father’s hand as he turned to leave. “Da, will you stay with me?”
“What?” Paladin chuckled again and sat on the edge of the bed. “What’s the matter, Pip? You’re going to be fine.” He winked at Tulip, “And so is your knitted friend. I have work to do--”
“But Daaaa! Please?”
Eglantine met her husband’s eyes; her own crinkled with a smile. “Pad, why don’t you take some time and stay with our lad? The help can certainly handle the chores just fine on their own.”
“Well,” Paladin slipped his arm around Pippin and slid onto the bed beside him, “I suppose that’s true enough.”
Pippin’s eyes brightened, but his left ear twitched as Tulip whispered that she was quite well aware of what he was doing. Did he really think he was going to escape hearing what she had to say that easily? “I know that,” he hissed, trying to quell her rant quickly.
“What? Know what, lad?” Paladin looked puzzled.
“Umm, nothing. Will you tell us a story?” Pippin gave his father his most endearing look of innocence.
“Aye, you do just that, Pad, and keep him quiet whilst I prepare a tray for you both. You can share your luncheon before you go back outside.”
“Well, I can’t say that I feel like protesting that.” Paladin settled back against the pillows and pulled Pippin close. “Being served my noon meal in bed by my lovely wife, and having the privilege of telling my son a story. What more could a hobbit ask for?”
“And Tulip too!” Pippin scooped her up and placed her gently on his father’s lap.
“Ah me, your piglet friend has certainly had a rough day too, hasn’t she now?” Pippin nodded vigorously. Paladin held up the toy and examined her with a critical eye. “And who put this very fine splint on her tail?”
“Mum did it! She tended Tulip just like she did me!”
“You’ve a very good mother, you know that, lad?”
Pippin nodded again. “Tulip knows that too.” He leaned over and whispered to his father, “She’s just not all that pleased with me right now.”
“Who, your mother or Tulip?”
“Well…both of them actually. But I was referring to Tulip.”
Paladin stifled a laugh. His boy was certainly clever; Pippin’s imagination soared at all times, and the lad’s thoughts surely raced a mile a minute. Paladin got a great deal of entertainment out of listening to him. He patted the piglet on her bandaged snout. “And tell me, just why is your little friend unhappy with you?” Pippin took a deep breath and Paladin knew his son was gearing up for a rather long explanation.
“I guess because we were taking a stroll around the farmyard and Tulip told me we should go play on the new swing you made for us, but I wanted to do something else. So she agreed to go along with me, but only if what I wanted to do was something Mum would approve of, so then we got into a wee bit of a struggle over what we could do and what we probably shouldn’t do, and Tulip told me not to do it but I did it anyway, and now here we are. Oh, and Tulip broke her nose.” Pippin held up the two pieces of a pink button that was cracked in half, and waited for a reply.
Paladin felt like his head was spinning. He gazed back at his son, his eyes wide, waiting for the rest of the explanation. “And?”
“And, well, umm…then I wanted to try leaping down into the hay pile underneath the loft, but Tulip said it was too far for me to jump, but I said I thought I could do it--”
“Wait,” Paladin held up a hand to stop the flow of words. “Tulip was right, and you know it. Besides, you’ve been warned time and again not to try that. You never know what way you might land in the hay, or even miss it completely and hit the hard floor.” Paladin touched the bandage on Pippin’s forehead. “I’m glad you didn’t hit it square on or this might be even bigger. It’s far too easy for a small lad like you to get hurt, even if the pile is large.”
Pippin sighed. “I know. But I told Tulip that I just had to try it once. You know, because if I didn’t ever try it I wouldn’t know if I could do it and--”
“And some things are better not tried the first time, Peregrin Took, or it might end up as the last time! What you did was dangerous and you were warned not to. So now, as your mother said, you’re going to miss out on the fun at the barn dance tonight.”
“I can’t dance but I can still have fun, Da!”
“And do you think you should be allowed to go after disobeying us today?” Paladin raised an eyebrow.
“Uh…I guess not.” Pippin’s face fell.
“Someone has to stay home with you too, lad. And remember, whoever that is will miss out on the fun as well.”
“I know…” Pippin’s voice trailed off. “But I’m really very sorry now, Da! And poor Tulip was looking forward to it so much.” He looked up hopefully. “You wouldn’t change your mind, would you?”
“Ah well, I’m sure your piggy will understand.” Paladin shook his head. “No, Pippin, I won't.”
“Hmph, Tulip isn’t happy about that at all.”
"I suppose not.”
“She just told me it’s all my fault.”
“Well, I don’t really need to remind you that she’s right, do I?”
Pippin frowned. “What about the story, Da?”
“Yes, well let’s see. What kind of story do you want to hear?”
“Something exciting, and scary, and filled with strange animals and faeries and, uh, well not something with a moral to the ending, all right?”
“No morals? Pippin, every story has a moral, or a point, if you will. Else it wouldn’t be a story.”
“Oh.” Pippin’s eyes flicked over to Tulip and he watched her face break into a huge grin right before she stuck her tongue out at him. He rolled his eyes and settled against his father’s side. “All right. If you’re certain it must.”
“I’m certain. Hmm, let me see.” Paladin rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “I know! I’m going to tell you the tale of poor Sammy-Lambie.”
“Sammy-Lambie?” Pippin asked uncertainly.
Paladin nodded firmly. “Aye, Sammy-Lambie.”
“I don’t remember ever hearing about him.”
“Well, he is no longer with us. And that--”
“Is the moral of the story, isn’t it Da?” Pippin sighed.
“Very good, lad. Yes, you’re correct.” He squeezed Pippin in a hug, and then settled back into the pillows. “Now, I think it’s important for both you and Tulip to listen to this story very carefully.”
Pippin nodded and patted Tulip’s head. The piglet still rested on his father’s lap and he wondered how long it would take before she decided to forgive him. “I feel awfully bad that Tulip got hurt today. I should have kept her safe.” Pippin winced at the memory of their fall. Instead of leaping he’d wound up tripping in his hesitant attempt, and landed on top of her. Tulip’s button nose was ground into the barn floor as they toppled off the hay pile. His head had hit the ground with a crack too, but the first jarring pain he’d been aware of was in the ankle that had twisted beneath him.
“Mum’s going to fix her nose.” He examined the cracked button thoughtfully, turning it this way and that. “It must be dreadful to break your nose,” he observed, and winced when Tulip informed him that he really had no idea!
“Well, that’s a relief!” Paladin gave his son a squeeze. “And I’m certain Tulip will appreciate it.” He gazed at nothing in particular for a moment, before beginning his story.
“Sammy-Lambie was a lovely, fat, fluffy white stuffed sheep that my mum gave me when I was a big lad, all of ten years old--”
“Sammy-Lambie belonged to you?” Pippin’s eyes widened.
“What? And can’t your old da have a stuffed toy when he was but a wee lad like you, hmm?”
Pippin stifled his giggle with one hand. “I suppose so, but I have a difficult time…”
“Imagining your father as ever having been your age, I know. Ahem! Sammy and I went everywhere together, just as you and Tulip do. I was very fond of him. As a matter of fact, he and I did much the same kind of mischief as you and Tulip, except I wasn’t nearly as naughty, of course...” Paladin paused, waiting for the protest, and was not disappointed.
Pippin grunted his disdain. “Da, do you really expect us to believe that?” He squinted up at his father, wrinkling his nose.
“Believe what? That I was a much better behaved little lad than you are most of the time?” Paladin wore his finest air of innocence.
Pippin snorted and Tulip tried to join in, accidentally blowing her bandage off her snout with the effort. It landed in Paladin’s lap with a soft plop and he laughed aloud at the absurdity. He lifted the toy up and eyed it with curiosity.
Pippin joined his father in laughter, and then settled the binding carefully back in place. “Sorry, lass. I know your wee snout is tender.” He patted her soft head and wisely allowed her to have her say. Tulip sputtered her indignation at both of them. Pippin leaned over and whispered in his father’s ear, “I think Tulip’s all in a state because we laughed at her.”
Paladin scratched her behind her ears. “Oh well, we’re very sorry Tulip! Aren’t we Pip?” He winked at Pippin, who bobbed his head up and down enthusiastically.
“Oh, aye! Of course we are, lass. Are you going to tell the story now, Da? Most especially the part where you’re not nearly as wicked as I was?” Pippin batted his eyes at his father in his own best expression of exaggerated innocence.
Paladin chuckled warmly and drew him closer. “Well, one day when we were visiting Brandy Hall for a week in the summer and I was allowed to go fishing with a few of my cousins and friends at the Brandywine River…”
Paladin nodded. “Sammy wound up going for a swim, quite unexpectedly. Well, of course I had to try and save him--”
Pippin’s eyes widened even more. “UH OH!”
Paladin laughed. “Aye, and a rather large ‘uh oh’ ‘twas, and no doubt about it. But I didn’t realize it until it was too late.”
“And poor Pad, too! Without thinking, I hopped into one of the small boats and threw off the rope that secured it to a tree, very determined to rescue him. I started to float away quickly, and I was soon going down the river at a fair pace, but the only thing on my mind was trying to catch up with Sammy! Until I realized the boat paddles were still lying on the riverbank. Well then, I knew I was in serious trouble because I couldn’t steer the boat. Not that I really knew what I was supposed to be doing anyway, because I hadn’t been in a boat more than a couple of times before in my whole life. So I sat there helplessly and watched Sammy float farther away from me.”
“What happened then?” Pippin pressed against his father and stared up at him, eager for an answer.
“Well, by then two of my cousins were coming after me in the other boat, and with the rowing paddles, thank goodness, and coming as fast as the rapidly flowing river allowed them. But…” Paladin paused again. He looked down at Pippin and sighed. “The current had already picked up and I was starting to move away from them even faster. Oh, I remember how hard they were trying to reach me! And it was then that I finally took my eyes off Sammy and began to consider the danger I was in.”
“Oh!” Pippin curled up even closer to his father while he imagined his da as a small boy, trapped in the middle of the swift running Brandywine River in a rowboat.
“I was never much for the water, and I started to think about how I couldn’t swim. Pretty soon I began to imagine all the terrible things that might be about to happen. Oh! And then the boat began to rock in the roughening waters and I was quite terrified I was going to fall in any minute!”
“Oh, Da, how awful!”
“Aye, it was one of the most frightening experiences of my entire life.”
“And then what?”
“The others finally caught up to me and threw me a rope. But a sudden strong current hit the boats just then, and I was tossed over the side!” Pippin gasped. “Aye!” Paladin nodded vigorously. “It was truly awful! And I was never so terrified in the whole of my young life, as I was at that moment.” He drew a deep breath and let it out. “Whew, but luckily, they were able to pull me into their boat straight away. We were even able to tie a rope to the bow and tow the other one along with us. And so we all made it out safely in the end.” He shook his head in regret. "But, I couldn't rescue Sammy."
Pippin gazed up at his father, his mouth forming a round ‘O’ of amazement at the odds his father had overcome.
“I had some very bad dreams for many a month after that incident,” Paladin chuckled. “And there wasn’t any lad in the entire Shire who was happier to see his cousins, as I was when they caught up with me at last. I knew they were of a mind to scold me soundly for my rash behaviour but they just couldn’t bring themselves to after I had fallen overboard. Or, so they told me later.” He laughed again. “They even defended me to your Granda because I had been so obviously panic stricken. So, after all was said and done, my father decided I had been punished enough by the experience itself. And because I had lost my beloved Sammy.”
Father and son remained quiet for several moments. Finally, Pippin spoke in a soft voice; “I’d feel so dreadful if I lost Tulip like that. And I’m so sorry you lost your friend, Da!”
Paladin patted his son’s arm and handed him Tulip. “Thank you, lad. Just try to remember that all of our actions carry consequences, and some may be more serious than we can imagine at the time. What if there had been a stray pitchfork lying in that hay? Or if you had cracked your head much harder? Or…well, I think you’ve got my meaning.”
Pippin nodded, his face solemn now. “I’m sorry for scaring you and Mum.”
Paladin closed his eyes for a few seconds, and then met his son’s bright eyes with his own. “I’m simply asking you to think harder and longer before you act, Pippin.”
“Yes, I know.”
They both looked up as Eglantine pushed the door open with her hip and placed a heavily laden tray on the foot of the bed. Paladin whistled. “Your mother, as usual, has outdone herself.”
Pippin bobbed his head with equal enthusiasm and gestured for someone to hurry up and give him something to eat. Eglantine pulled up a chair and began preparing a plate for her son.
“Mum!” Pippin tried to bounce up and down, but dislodged Tulip from her perch and was scolded roundly by the knitted piglet. “Sorry, Tulip.” Pippin tenderly placed her back on her pillow. “Da just told me a story about his Sammy-Lambie.”
“Oh? And what story was that, Pad?” Eglantine lifted her brow in question.
“The one when I lost Sammy in the Brandywine. You’ve heard it before, Tina.” Paladin winked at his wife covertly.
“Ah, yes. So I have.” She handed Pippin his plate. “Eat your luncheon now, my lads, before anything gets cold.” She didn’t have to tell them twice.
Eglantine watched her husband head down the hallway with the tray of dishes from their meal. “Sammy-Lambie? The stuffed sheep your sisters teased you so much about because he went everywhere with you.”
“The very same.”
Eglantine followed him. “But Pad, you told me that you lads all went out in the boat knowing full well you weren’t allowed to. And it was your cousin Milo who actually fell in, wasn’t it? As I recall the story, the older lads were teasing you and snatched your toy away, and sometime during all the shenanigans of grabbing for him, Sammy got flung overboard and Milo ended up following him. He didn't just decide to leap in and go for a swim on his own. Milo or Sammy either one, that is!"
Paladin looked at her a bit shamefacedly after placing his burden on the kitchen table. “Well…I thought my story gave Sammy a rather more dramatic ending. And it was a good way to make an important point with Peregrin. Maybe while he’s busy being concerned with the well-being of his piggy, he’ll keep himself out of more messes while he’s at it.” Paladin gave her a wide grin.
“Hmm, and perhaps you should tell Pippin you were being disobedient, and not heroic as you made yourself out to be?” Eglantine chuckled. “And the way you lads’ parents really reacted to your wee voyage, eh?”
Paladin snorted. “That, my dear, wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun for me!”
“Hmm, I suppose not. Well now, would you like me to make you another Sammy-Lambie, Pad? Then perhaps you and your son might go do a bit of sightseeing, and show your wee friends the lay of the land around the Took farm?” She gave him a wink. “You never know, it could be a great deal of fun.”
“There’s a thought, now.” Paladin pretended to consider the notion. “Just be certain you make him very fat and fluffy though, just like the first Sammy. With a small spot of black,” he pointed to his nose, “just about here on the left side of his muzzle. Oh! And be sure to make him a collar. The original Sammy-Lambie had a very nice one that Mum knitted to go along with it…” Paladin continued to add items to the list as he followed his wife into the kitchen.
“…’twas blue and green entwined, as I recall. My favourite colours, you know. Also, you might--”
Eglantine stopped and turned, placing a hand over his mouth. “Dearest, any more of this and I’m going to start believing you’re serious! Well, I know without a doubt now where Pippin gets most of his imagination and his ability to talk non-stop.” Eglantine chuckled as she started to gather up the dishes and carry them to the sink. “I always did suspect it was from your side of the family.”
“Tina, perhaps you could knit a Sammy-Lambie? I have missed that stuffed sheep so much all these years, and it…” Paladin’s voice trailed off. “What?”
“Paladin Took! Have you gone ‘round the bend on me, lad?”
“For Pippin, I mean! He can add it to his collection of farm animals. Oh, mercy, you didn’t think that I actually wanted it for myself?”
“Oh! Well then, maybe I’ll see what I can do.” Eglantine laughed as she turned to the sink, missing the twinkle of delight in her husband’s eyes.
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