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Wee Ones  by cathleen

"This Little Piggy Stayed Home..."


“Pippin! Help me! Help me, it’s almost too late…”

The high-pitched squeal was painful to his ears, but he couldn’t stop to cover them. Instead, he increased his efforts all the more, and shouted over the roar of the waterfall ahead, “I’m coming lass, hang on!”

Pippin felt like he was swimming in butter. No matter how hard he fought against the current, he simply couldn’t reach her, and she was floating farther away from him very quickly. “Oh no!” He watched in horror as his ever-present companion went crashing over the falls on her back, her tiny hooves waving helplessly in the air as she toppled. Tulip screamed out his name one last time.

“Tuuulipppp…!” He reached out for her even though he knew it was useless, and then felt himself being drawn downward into the swirling waters. “NOOOOOO…”

“Pippin! Wake up, lad.”

Pippin’s eyes flew open and he darted them wildly about the room, at first seeing nothing but the black, foamy water that only moments ago had threatened to swallow him. “Help me…”

Another shake of his shoulder, this one much rougher, pulled him out of his nightmare at last. His sister looked down at him with concern. Seeing that he was fully awake, Pimpernel released him and stood back. “My, what a dream that must have been.” She shook her head. “I could hear you halfway to the kitchen!”

“Dream?” Pippin mumbled, still a bit dazed. It all came rushing back to him then, and he looked about frantically, probing at the covers on his bed until he located Tulip at last. His knitted friend peered up at him from beneath the blankets. He released his breath in a loud sigh of relief and gathered the piglet into his arms. Rocking slightly back and forth, he gripped her fiercely for several moments. Meanwhile, his sister brushed back his sweaty curls and sat on the edge of the bed, attempting to soothe him.

“It’s all right, dearest. ‘Twas simply a bad dream.” Pippin whimpered and she gathered him close. “Shh, now, nothing is going to harm you. I promise.”

Pippin looked up at her at last, brushing at his tears with the sleeve of his nightshirt. He held Tulip up. “I almost lost her, Nell! In the Brandywine…it was awful.” He began to sob again and Pimpernel gathered him close.

“Shh, now Pip. You haven’t lost anyone. Why, Tulip’s right here with you, isn’t she now?” Pippin continued to cry while Nell murmured softly to him. At last, he quieted and she positioned him back against the pillows. Brushing the last of his tears away with her own soft handkerchief, she studied his face. Pippin returned her gaze and smiled when his sister bent to kiss his forehead. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Pippin released a sigh. “I…I was thinking about the story Da told me, you know, the one about his Sammy-Lambie?” Pimpernel smiled and nodded. “And, the next thing I knew I was in a boat and Tulip was floating away from me fast. Then I fell in! Oh, and the water was so cold and dark, and I just couldn’t reach her…and then Tulip was crying out for me to save her and I couldn’t, I just couldn’t--” Pippin started to cry again.

“But, love, it was only a dream. And here you both are, safe and sound. Now dry your tears and just remember to stay out of small boats, eh?” Pippin joined in her laughter. “And perhaps Da should be more careful about the stories he tells you.”

“I feel better now.” Pippin hesitated. “But I feel bad that you missed going to the barn dance because of me. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to what Mum and Da told me.”

“Aye, but you will next time, right?” Pippin bobbed his head up and down vigorously.

“And if you recall, ‘twas I who offered to stay home with you.”

“Yes, but--”

“Shh now.” Pimpernel tapped him on the tip of his nose. “Go back to sleep, all right?”

Pippin nodded. “Thank you, Nell,” he whispered as she closed the door only halfway behind her. The lamp at the side of his bed dimly lighted the room, but it was enough for him to see Tulip watching him expectantly. He lifted an eyebrow in innocence. “What?”

Tulip reminded him that they hadn’t had their own little talk yet and now was the perfect time. “Uhhh…” Pippin darted his eyes about the bedroom, looking for an excuse, any one would do. He turned back to find her shaking her head. “Oh, very well then,” he grumbled. “We may as well get it over with. Are you going to scold me some more?”

Tulip tilted her pink head to one side and twitched an ear thoughtfully. No, she told him finally, before crawling up into the collar of his nightshirt where she could settle on his shoulder, close to his ear. But she did want him to listen to her very carefully this time. Pippin turned his head just enough to offer her a puzzled frown. He giggled when Tulip stuck out her hoof and patted his nose. He very gently touched her bandage. “Mum is going to fix your nose tomorrow. She told me so.”

Yes, she knew that already. But that wasn’t what their conversation was about. “What then?” Pippin looked straight ahead, bracing himself for more admonishment. Tulip snuggled up very close to his ear and sighed. Pippin knew her nose pained her. A new wave of guilt swept over him. No. Tulip tapped him on the ear with her uninjured foot. No more of that, she told him firmly. We will both be fine. “What do you want to say, then?” Pippin giggled when her soft breath brushed against his neck. You frightened me today, she told him, then fell silent.

Pippin eyed her as closely as he could at the odd angle. “I frightened you?” His eyes widened. “But, I thought you liked to do the same things as me! You like the loft; you’ve told me that before! And you like trying new things, and playing in the straw and hiding in the barn and playing pranks on the farmhands and I don’t see that what I was doing should be frightening to you because--”

Tulip listened to the youngster patiently before admonishing him to slow down and catch his breath. Yes, she liked the loft. And sitting in the hay with him, and dreaming their dreams together. And making plans for the next day. She did not, however, care to see her lad pretending he could fly and putting himself, and her too, in such utter danger!

“What? I didn’t think I could fly. I, I…I was simply jumping into the hay pile!” The piglet clucked and shook her head from side to side, careful not to lose her bandage. You were trying to see if you really might be able to fly as if by magic, she told him firmly, and Pippin’s face reddened. “How come you always know these things?” Tulip chuckled politely. You are my hobbit lad. I know all about you. Now stop pouting. Her last comment caused him to giggle.

“I’m sorry Tulip.” Pippin whispered. “I never meant to harm you, or to get hurt. You must believe me!” Tulip patted his cheek with her delicate hoof. Please be more careful. I couldn’t bear to lose you. Pippin turned and was astonished to find her eyes wet. “Oh.” He scooped her off his shoulder and hugged her to him. Tulip quickly reminded him to be very careful of her nose, her hoof, and her tail! He couldn’t resist rolling his eyes at that. “Are you certain you’re not exaggerating things just a wee bit, lass?” Tulip frowned mightily. “Uh, I suppose not,” Pippin hurried to make amends and planted a kiss on the bandage decorating her injured snout. He was pleased to see that she was grinning up at him now.

“All right. I’ll promise to be more careful if you promise not to scold me as much.” Tulip shook her head and Pippin was not surprised at her answer. I will do whatever I need to in order to keep you safe from harm. That, my lad, is a promise.

“I’ll keep you safe too, Tulip. I didn’t much care for the dream I had.” Tulip informed him that she didn’t either! The pair settled in for the night, secure in their newfound understanding.




Eglantine watched her lad as he slept peacefully, his knitted piglet tucked up under his chin. One small hand still clutched a storybook to his chest. She leaned down and tenderly kissed his forehead, finding it warm to the touch. She wondered if he was catching a cold after the trauma of his fall from the loft. He had always been so small for his age, so vulnerable. Eglantine didn’t want to consider what their lives would have been like if they had lost him as a wee infant when he came too soon. She smiled to herself as she gathered her knitting items, then planted herself in the rocking chair near his bed and leaned back, closing her eyes for a moment, remembering.

Pippin had been anxious to see the world, even then. He had come early, and he had fought for life through the many rough months of worry and fear that his family had suffered. She opened her eyes and set the chair to rocking gently. But just look at her wee lad now, boldly seeking every adventure that he could find or create for himself…Eglantine shivered suddenly. Yes indeed, that was her son. It seemed to her that Pippin spent nearly every waking moment at that task. She sighed, shaking her head as she watched him sleeping so serenely. It hadn’t taken her many years to empathise with her husband’s mother. Pippin was his father’s son, no doubt about it.

She giggled, trying to imagine, and not for the first time, what mischief Paladin had found at that age. She could just see him in her mind’s eye, sprinting across the meadow just like their son, seeking new worlds to explore. He would be toting his Sammy Lambie in one arm, fishing pole in the other, and running headlong into whatever exciting activity awaited him. Ah, yes. Eglantine plucked her knitting needles from the basket and then removed a large ball of creamy coloured wool. Sammy Lambie, the wayward sheep that had gone for an unexpected swim so many years ago. He would be a nice surprise…for both lads.

Eglantine began to knit while her thoughts continued to wander. She wondered if young Pad had cried or pitched a fit when he realised what had happened, and made a mental note to ask him. She giggled again. No doubt he would puff himself up to his full height and indignantly reply in the negative, but she wasn’t easily fooled when it came to her husband. She gazed down at the items in her hands. A new Sammy Lambie, indeed. She imagined that Paladin would secretly be as pleased as their son. Eglantine hummed a soft tune as she worked.

Pippin stirred at last, and opened one eye to look about the room. That habit always amused her. It was almost as if he didn’t want to bother with the other one unless there was good reason. He spied her quickly and struggled to sit up, deftly catching hold of Tulip before she took another tumble. He set his toy on the pillow next to him and smiled at his mother sleepily.

“Hullo, Mum,” Pippin paused for the luxury of a wide yawn.

“Good morning, my little love. And how are you feeling?”

Pippin considered before answering. He leaned down and touched his foot hesitantly. “My ankle feels better.” He grinned at Tulip and picked her up, holding her snout to his ear. “Tulip says her foot feels better too, but her nose still hurts.”

Eglantine rose and peered into his eyes, touching his cheeks and forehead with the back of her hand. “Are you sure you feel all right? I thought you were just a smidgen warm, earlier.”

Pippin shook his head. “No, I feel fine. May I get up? Tulip too?”

“Well, I suppose we could make you a place on the couch in the sitting room. I’ll join you for a time with my mending.”

“But Mum,” Pippin whined, “I’m tired of lying about in bed. Tulip and I both want to go outside.” Pippin frowned as Tulip whispered in his ear. He sighed, and looked at her crossly. “Well, I want to go outside, even if you don’t!” Tulip haughtily turned her back and huffed that he should be glad to stay in bed and keep her company. After all, it was his fault she was sporting a sore hoof, sprained tail, and a broken nose!

“I’m very sorry, lass. I told you that already. I didn’t mean for you to get hurt.” Tulip reminded him how upsetting it was to see her lad injured, as well, and all because he hadn’t heeded her warning in the first place. Pippin thought about their talk at bedtime.

“Yes, but--” he tried to protest, but Tulip wouldn’t let him get a word in edgewise. No buts about it, the knitted piglet shook her head. It was just like his da had told him yesterday. He needed to learn to listen better, and most especially to her. After all, it was her job to look out for him. Tulip grumpily reminded him again how they’d missed all the fun at the barn dance. And she’d been looking forward to it all week! Pippin rolled his eyes. “All right.” He held her up and looked at her askance. “Are you quite finished with making me feel guilty?” He listened carefully for a moment, eyes widening. “You’ll think about it, but only after your nose is fixed? Mum!”

Eglantine chuckled as she watched her son’s antics. Sometimes she almost thought his stuffed piggy was alive. Pippin certainly seemed to believe it. “What, my love?”

“How soon can you fix Tulip’s nose?” Pippin waved the piglet at her, causing his little friend to squeal in a shrill voice. “Oops, sorry.” Pippin placed her gently on the pillow again and patted her head, then was forced to listen to another round of scolding. “Are you quite finished now?” he inquired stiffly. Tulip merely grunted. “I just want to get back to being friends again,” he appealed. He turned to his mother. “She’s in a bad mood with her broken nose, and all.”

“Ah well, we’ll see if I can do something about her nose after first breakfast. All right?”

Pippin nodded enthusiastically. “Did you hear that, Tulip? Now, may I get up? I have to go to the privy!” He chuckled and winked at his mother before whispering, “Tulip does too.”

“Oh my, well yes of course then. Your father should be coming in any moment and we’ll have him carry you to the bathroom.”

“I can walk,” Pippin was quick to protest.

“I know you probably could dear, but the more you keep your weight off that ankle, the more quickly it will be well. Now wait whilst I go find your da.” Eglantine put her work away and went in search of her husband. Paladin was just coming in from the barn as she met him at the door. “Your son needs a lift to the privy.”

Paladin grinned. “I’ll go scoop him up then. I need to wash up too.” He headed towards his son’s room and paused at the door, listening to the steady stream of conversation. Pippin and Tulip were apparently having a lengthy discussion about their fall. He snickered under his breath. Well, if he couldn’t always get through to his son perhaps the knitted piglet could. All that mattered was that the lad was kept safe.

He almost hated to interrupt the lively discussion that was taking place. Paladin tilted his head in wonder as he listened. He was frequently told that Pippin was just like he had been as a lad. Was that really so? Paladin seemed to remember himself as being a more serious youngster. But then, it was sometimes difficult to remember that long ago. Hmm, it might be great fun to relive some of those times with his son. As he entered the room his attention fell on his wife’s knitting in the rocking chair and couldn’t stop his grin from widening. The ball of wool was just the right colour…




“Now let me see…” Eglantine felt around in the bottom of her knitting basket for her button box. Pulling it out she opened it and studied the contents with a frown. “Hmm. I don’t seem to have any of the right colour buttons. Or, the right size, for that matter.”

“What are you going to do about Tulip’s nose, Mum?”

Eglantine chuckled at her anxious son. “Not to fear, m’lad. Tulip’s nose will be repaired, and no doubt about it.” She set about examining the knitted piglet closely for a few minutes as she considered. Her face brightened. “I know just what to do,” she told Pippin. Smiling, she set to work reconstructing Tulip’s snout with her embroidery thread. “Hmm, it appears that her wee mouth has been damaged as well.” Eglantine tugged at the loose threads. “Ah well, we’ll just be giving you some additional repair in that area along with your new nose, eh lass?” She smiled lovingly at her son’s favourite toy as she worked with deft fingers to repair the damage. Pippin watched the operation closely the whole time, every now and then reaching out to hold Tulip’s hoof in support.

At last, Eglantine held her up and inspected her work. Tulip now sported a fine new snout crafted of thick pink wool in place of her button. ‘I think she likes it, Mum,” Pippin crowed. “Let her look in your mirror!” Eglantine handed over her small mirror and he held it up to Tulip’s face. “See? All better now! She does like it!”

“Well, I am very glad to hear that. Now, allow me to take the bandage off her hoof--”

“And the splint on her tail, too,” Pippin reminded her.

“Aye, the splint too.” Eglantine worked for a few more minutes before handing Tulip over at last. “There. All better now. And you both best be staying that way for a long while. Isn’t that right, m’lad?”

Pippin bobbed his head up and down in swift agreement. “Don’t worry, we learned our lesson--” Pippin turned his head and listened to Tulip’s chatter. “Ah, I meant to say I learned my lesson. Tulip didn’t need to because she already knew, and she tried to stop me.” Pippin rolled his eyes and leaned over to whisper to his mother. “She’s never going to let me forget it, you know,” he complained.

“Good, I’m very glad to hear it.” Eglantine patted her son’s shoulder. Now, put your ankle back on the pillow and get some rest. I’m going to sit here and work while you two nap.”

Pippin did as he was told, watching his mother curiously. “What are you making?”

Eglantine held up the cream coloured section of wool she had started to knit. “I’m making a new Sammy-Lambie! You and Tulip will have a new companion.” She chuckled. “That is, if you can get him away from your da!”


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