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“Pippin (Paladin) Had a Little Lamb”
“Well now, it’s taken me a few days, but he’s well worth the wait, aye?” Eglantine held up the completed stuffed lamb for her husband’s inspection. He appeared quite suspiciously delighted.
“Oh!” Paladin’s mouth turned up in a wide grin as he took the toy from her and stroked its soft coat. “Tina, why you did a marvelous job with him!” Paladin was unable to hide his glee as he inspected the plump sheep. “He’s so fluffy and squashy, and…and…oh, my! He has a pink nose.” Paladin looked puzzled. “Why a pink nose, dear? Sammy is a lad lamb you know, and his nose was black. I’m certain I told you that.”
Eglantine rolled her eyes. “I didn’t have enough black wool left, but I have a great deal of pink, so I gave him a rosy coloured nose. I don’t think he’s going to mind, a’tall. Not half as much as you seem to, I reckon.”
Paladin eyed the new Sammy-Lambie with a moment of scepticism. “Hmm, as long as he doesn’t mind. I like his wee tail, though. It’s a very fluffy nub,” he chuckled and waved the bottom end of the toy at his wife. “Why, I can just see him shaking it. It does look like a real lamb’s tail.”
“I’m so glad you approve of his tail, Pad.” Eglantine couldn’t help chuckling as she busied herself with picking up her sewing things and placing them back in the basket.
“And the floppy ears, perfect they are! You’ve made them so downy, how did you manage that? Why, I’d say they’re even better than the first Sammy’s were.” He fingered the woolly coat as he stared into the lamb’s eyes, seemingly lost in memory. “And lovely brown eyes,” he mused. “I remember Sammy’s eyes always appeared so real to me.” He squinted at them more closely. A pair of small black eyes gazed back at him in seeming innocence. “I suppose my mum was just exceptionally good at fashioning eyes--”
“Hmm, well perhaps I should be taking Sammy back, and work on his eyes until I get them just right?” Eglantine grumbled as she reached for the toy. “It may take me awhile though…”
Paladin held Sammy aloft and shook his head vigourously, “but as I was about to say, these are very nice too.”
“Well, if you’re certain they meet with your say-so! I wouldn’t want you to be disappointed in him, seeing as how you’ve taken such a shine to him already.”
“The eyes are just fine, Tina. He is a magnificent example of a stuffed sheeper. Just the right amount of fluff, why you can see he’s already got his own personality!” Paladin paused, eyeing the sheep thoughtfully. “But, something’s missing…Oh! My love, where is the blue and green collar? Remember I told you he always wore one? Did you forget--”?
“Oh my, Paladin Took!” Eglantine huffed as she plucked the toy from his outstretched hands. “No, I didn’t forget, but first things first.” Her husband grinned shamelessly and followed her. “Let me just get my knitting basket. Oh, wait,” Eglantine stopped abruptly and turned around just as Paladin collided with her. “Honestly, Pad! You’re reminding me of Dizzy at the moment, dear.”
Paladin looked offended. “You’re comparing me to a hound, Tina?”
“Only because you’re following me as closely as one.”
“Hmph.” Paladin backed up to allow her room to pass, then followed her in the other direction. “Has Pippin seen him yet?”
“No, I thought I’d get your approval first before I give him to the lad.” She paused to retrieve her scissors from the kitchen table and headed back down the hall, her husband once again on her heels.
“He’s going to be delighted!”
“Almost as much as you are, I’m sure,” she teased. Paladin didn’t seem to notice.
“You do have enough of the right colour wool for the collar though, don’t you? I mean, a pink nose is passable I suppose, even for a lad sheep, but I don’t want him wearing a pink collar. If you need me to fetch anything for you then why don’t you just leave off on making it until I go into the village tomorrow for…what? Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Like what, dear?”
“Like you’re thinking I’ve gone ‘round the bend, or worse!”
Eglantine was staring at him in exasperation. “Pad, if you don’t quit fussing over this toy you’re going to drive me completely dotty. Now, quit your fretting. I have quite enough blue and green wool to knit young Sammy-Lambie up a proper collar, don’t you worry.” Eglantine continued down the hall. “And perhaps I’ll even knit him a matching bow, one for atop each ear--”
“What?” Paladin’s eyes widened in alarm and he hurried after his wife. “Tina, no proper lad of…of… any kind, wears bows in his hair and that’s all there is to it!”
“There’s a first time for everything dear.” Eglantine could barely control her mirth as she struggled to appear serious. “Why don’t we ask Pippin what he thinks about it?”
Paladin halted in his tracks staring at his wife’s back as she disappeared into their son’s room. “But…” Shaking his head in consternation, he dashed after her. “Tina--” he opened the door to find his wife doubled over with a fit of the giggles. He paused in the doorway, frowning. Pippin watched them curiously, his eyes lighting up when he spied the stuffed lamb.
“Oh! Sammy-Lambie! Mum!” He reached out with both arms, excited as his mother placed the toy in his hands.
Paladin sat on the bed and reached out to pat the lamb. “He’s not quite finished yet, Pippin. Your mother is making him a collar.” He glanced sidelong at his wife. “No hair ribbons, though!”
“Hair ribbons?” Pippin looked confused. “For a lad lamb?”
“No, dearest. I was simply teasing your da.”
“Oh. Look Tulip, its Sammy-Lambie! Just like Da used to have.” Pippin showed her the new toy and grinned when Tulip simply grunted. He leaned over to his father and whispered, “I think Tulip is jealous.”
“Mercy, I hope not. We certainly don’t need your stuffed farm animals to start feuding,” Paladin laughed.
Pippin giggled when Tulip puffed herself up and glared at his father, and then grumbled under her breath about being called a ‘stuffed farm animal’.
“Da, I don’t think Tulip liked it when you called her that. So, will you tell me some more stories about Sammy? But not like that first one. I had a bad dream about Tulip after that.”
“Yes, so I heard. Hmm, move over, boy. Let’s see now…” Paladin settled himself on the bed next to his son and reached for the sheep again. Eglantine tried to resist another giggle at the sight of her two lads, huddled together on the bed, each of them clutching a stuffed toy.
“Pippin, how is your ankle feeling this evening?” Eglantine pulled back the covers and examined his foot, testing the range of motion gently with her fingers. “The swelling is down, good.”
“It feels much better. When can I get up?”
Eglantine stepped back and pursed her lips. “I’d say you might get up tomorrow, but you’ll not be able to walk about very much for another day or two. That was a very bad sprain, young sir!”
Pippin swiveled his head to look up at his father. “Will you tell me more than one story then, seeing as how I’m going to be stuck here in bed for yet another evening?”
“Hmm, let me think…” Paladin rubbed his chin thoughtfully while he turned the sheep from side to side with his other hand. “Nothing to do with the water then?”
Pippin shook his head firmly. “Tulip and I both had a bad dream after your story.”
“Oh?” Paladin raised an eyebrow. “I hadn’t heard Tulip had a nightmare too.”
“Aye, she did! A very bad one, worse than mine was. She told me so.”
“Well, I’m going to leave you lads to your own devices for now. I’ll check back on the lot of you after awhile.” Eglantine left the room, chuckling, and wondering if the next request for a stuffed toy would come from her son or her husband? Behind her she could hear Paladin already beginning another story that she was familiar with and wondered if he would embellish this one as well.
Paladin settled into the bed comfortably and set the newest member of the family on his knee. He grinned, and then winked conspiratorially at his son before nodding at the toys. “Pippin, I’m going to tell you the tale of how Sammy-Lambie saved me from my sister’s wrath one fine summer day.”
“Which sister? Was it Auntie Esmie?” Pippin giggled at his father’s nod and snuggled in closer. “She’s my favourite aunt.”
“I know she is. But, she wasn’t my favourite sister all the time, you know. As a matter of fact, sometimes she was my least favourite one because she used to pick on me quite often.”
“Just like Vinca picks on me?”
“Aye, much the same, lad, and that’s simply the way it is with brothers and sisters at times. Anyway, this one time in particular Esmie thought she had me right where she wanted me…”
Eglantine passed by Pippin’s bedroom door a short time later and giggled at the direction the story was taking. No doubt about it, ‘twas another of her husband’s tall tales, or at least told the way he would’ve liked to see things turn out.
Much later that evening Eglantine again approached the door of Pippin’s room and listened. Now the only sounds coming from within were the gentle snores of her husband and son. Pushing the door open ever so quietly she entered the darkening room. The sight before her melted her heart and would be treasured in her mind’s eye for the rest of her life. Her lads lay cuddled in peaceful slumber. Paladin’s arm draped protectively around their son, holding him near. Pippin curled up against his father, one hand clutched Tulip to his rosy cheek, while Sammy-Lambie lay tucked safely beneath Paladin’s chin. Hearing someone behind her, Eglantine turned. Smiling, she gestured to her daughter. Curious, Pearl leaned into the room and immediately had a fit of giggles.
“Oh! How precious, Mum do you see that?” Pearl pressed a hand to her mouth to suppress her laughter.
Eglantine nodded at them fondly. “I think your father’s long lost lamb has found his way home at last.”
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