Out on a Limb by Cathleen

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"Out on a Limb"

“I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea. Do you?” Pippin grimaced when Tulip shook her head vigorously, her brightly embroidered eyes staring out at him accusingly from inside the front of his shirt. Her button nose snout was wrinkled into a pout, and he was certain he could literally see the steam rising from her ears, but Pippin knew she was only trying to hide her fear behind the show.

“Well…” Pippin looked back at the ground doubtfully and hesitated. It certainly looked much further away than it had when he’d last paused to glance down. He felt awful for scaring his little knitted friend so dreadfully. But, if the truth were told, he was shaking almost as much as she was, but on the inside. He had to be strong for his piglet lass and get her down safely. After all, it was his fault they were in this predicament.

“What’s that?” Pippin tilted his head towards her, eyes widening in disbelief. “My fault? You agree? You weren’t supposed to be listening in on my thoughts just then. You know that’s very rude!” Tulip informed him that it was his own fault for thinking so loudly, and he needn’t act so surprised. She was always forthright with her opinion, wasn’t she? Pippin found he had to agree, albeit grudgingly. “Well then, you might at least offer your opinion on how to get back down.”

Tulip said that since he had climbed up the tree in spite of her warnings, and knowing full well he was not allowed to be up here in the first place, it most certainly was up to him to get them down! Pippin rolled his eyes. “I knew you were going to say that,” he complained. His friend simply huffed her disapproval and admonished him to stop rolling his pretty eyes at her, before pulling her head back inside his shirt.

“Hmph,” Pippin sniffed, turning his thoughts back to the fix they were in. “I would have thought you could at least be of some help, not leave it all up to me.” He winced when Tulip scolded him roundly in a muffled voice and would have stamped his foot if he hadn’t been so far off the ground. “I am not being petulant! I don’t even know what that means!” He lifted up the corner of his shirt and peered down at her, making a face. Tulip retaliated by sticking out her tongue and wiggling her ears. Pippin could not help giggling at her antics and Tulip felt her little knitted heart swelling. In spite of his over daring escapades and naughty little pranks, he was a good lad and she knew it. However, it simply wouldn’t do to have him get the notion she approved of any of his foolish risks.

“Yes, yes, I know! You’re right. I should never have climbed this tree.” Pippin reconsidered his words. “I mean, I shouldn’t have climbed so high--” Pippin winced at his friend’s renewed round of scolding. He sighed. “All right, it probably wasn’t one of my better ideas. And yes, I know exactly what my mum would say, you don’t have to tell me.”

Tulip politely reminded him of the reason he had climbed up here in the first place and his face flushed. “I know. It really isn’t respectful to spy on anyone. But I never even got the chance to because Vinca and her friend already went into the barn to pet the kittens, remember?” He listened intently to her tell him that wasn’t the point, wondering if there was ever going to be a way to win an argument with her? If there was, he hadn’t discovered it yet. No, there wasn’t going to be a way, she informed him with a poke from her soft knitted hoof for good measure, just to get his attention. Because she was right!

“There you go again, listening in on what I’m thinking. Honestly Tulip, you really should have better manners!” Pippin shook his head. “You really aren’t setting a very good example for me, you know, lass.” He sniggered slyly. There, he thought. I’ll turn her devices against her.

“Oof! What’d you do that for? That’s the second time you’ve kicked me!” Pippin listened to Tulip’s ranting as more reprimand fell on his ears. He sighed. “I’m very sorry. All right? Is that better?” He reached inside his shirt and patted her head. Tulip looked at him skeptically. “Of course I meant it,” Pippin cried. “Please forgive my rude behavior. I mean that sincerely.” Tulip grumbled a bit then graciously forgave him his errant ways.

“Now, shall we try again to find a way down from here?” The piglet nodded rapidly. “Yes, I know you don’t like heights, lass. What? Well, just because you don’t, doesn’t mean I can’t.” He patiently listened to all her reasons against climbing trees as he reached for a nearby branch and swung carefully down to the one below it. Tulip squealed in fright and dug her heels into his stomach. “OW! Be careful, will ya? I’m not going to let you fall!”

Tulip scrambled up to his neck and entwined herself in his thick hair for better balance. She latched on to one of his ears for good measure, and then poked her head out in order to oversee their descent. The piglet jumped in surprise as a grey squirrel sprinted up the tree in front of them and she dove back into the safety of Pippin’s curls. “Eep! Watch out scaring me like that or we’re both going to fall!”

Tulip chattered back at the indignant squirrel and Pippin laughed at the look on the animal’s face as it eyed them both. He peeked down at her. “No one is safe from your dressing-down, is he?” That’s right, she told him with a firm nod. And just you remember that, my lad.

“Whew,” he breathed when at last they reached the lowest branch. Pippin wiped his brow with his shirtsleeve then took a half-squashed biscuit out of his pocket. He started to nibble on it and stopped. Sighing, he held the food up to Tulip’s snout and let her take a bite. He held it up in front of his eyes and then slanted a glance at her. “That was an awfully big bite.”

His knitted friend paid him no mind and chewed happily while sitting primly on his shoulder. Pippin was reminded of the grey squirrel. Tulip stopped chewing long enough to inform him indignantly that she was most certainly not anything like that presumptuous little squirrel! Pippin simply shrugged and went back to munching on what was left of his biscuit. “Next time I’m going to pinch more than one, seeing as you’ve acquired such a big appetite,” he told her. Tulip chuckled and asked why he hadn’t done that before? After all, he knew his mother would consider him bad mannered if he didn’t share his food with her.

“Tulip, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full,” Pippin scolded. Tulip retorted that her mouth was no longer full and he should give her another bite. Wordlessly, he held up the biscuit. No, he thought. There simply wasn’t any way he was going to have the last word when Tulip was around. Brushing the crumbs onto the legs of his britches, he nimbly leaped the remaining short distance to the ground, landing on his hands and knees. Tulip whispered something in his ear.

“What? You want me to promise not to climb up that tree again?” Pippin got to his feet and twisted around to gaze up into the canopy so far above them. “Well…I can’t promise you that, lass. As a matter of fact, I’m certain that if we tried again tomorrow I’d be able to climb even higher now that I’ve had a wee bit of practice, don’t you know, and--” He stopped and his eyes widened in disbelief.

“Huh? You mean you’d actually tell on me? That’s not fair! I thought you were supposed to be on my side!” This time he did stamp his foot.

Tulip clucked at his actions and reassured him that she most certainly was on his side, and intended to keep him from harm’s way, even when it so often put her in danger along with him. After all, she had promised his mother she’d always keep an eye on him.

“I knew it! I knew Mum was up to something when she knitted you for me!”

That’s right; Tulip nodded her pink head firmly. She was up to showing you how much she loves you, lad. Don't you know you could have been killed if you'd fallen out of that great tree? Now, march! Tulip squeezed the tip of his pointed ear with her little cloven hoof and pointed him towards the farmhouse’s kitchen door with a deliberate push.

”WHAT? You actually think I’m going to tell on myself? Are you daft, Tulip?” Pippin found himself hurrying along in spite of his best efforts to dig his heels in. “NO! OWW! Let go my ear, will ya? I’m not doing it, I said! Do you want me to have to spend the rest of the day in my room? If I do, then so will you! WHAT? It will not be worth it, take my word for it! It’ll be boring! Tuuullliiiippp!”

Pippin’s protesting wails faded into the distance. The grey squirrel watched them curiously from a perch near her nest on the highest limb of the ancient oak. She shook her head, knowing that whatever happened to the hobbit lad he’d be back again to climb her tree another day.




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