Hadrian's Wall and Hickory

Chapter 8: In a Barn

Florentine and Ginger greatly enjoyed helping to decorate the wall.  They did not mind that they had not yet been out on patrol as there was plenty of time for that.  Right now, they concentrated on interweaving the next batch of leaves and vines.  Ginger paused as the latest leaf slotted in to place.
          “What’s the matter?” asked Florentine as she watched him blink rapidly for the sixth time.
“Maybe I’m overdoing the close work,” he said.  “I keep thinking I can see movement over there,” he stated.
Florentine turned and let her eyes gaze in the direction that Ginger was facing.  She could not see anything.  However, she did not think Ginger’s eyes were bad.  Spotting Hickory and Button Mushroom back from their latest patrol, she beckoned them over.
          “Trust your instincts,” said Button Mushroom.
          “Yes, that’s what we’re taught on the patrols,” added Hickory.
They all stood and scanned the general area.  Slowly, Hickory raised one leg as if to hush them and draw their attention.
“There’s movement in the left eve of the roof of that barn.  Now that’s unusual,” he muttered.
“Well, there are four of us, so let’s go take a look,” said Button Mushroom.

Silently they approached.  A soft scrabbling reached their ears, then stopped.  This was followed by what sounded like a sigh.  The scrabbling noise began and stopped again, followed by another sigh.  Hickory signalled for Ginger and Florentine to go round the outside of the barn, and he and Button Mushroom went inside.

Ginger and Florentine were puzzled to see a few wooden barrels scattered around.  Then they looked at each other quizzically as they heard laughter from inside the barn.
          “What are you doing up there?” yelled Hickory.
Button Mushroom felt sorry even though she recognised Cinnamon.  He was about ten feet up, with his leg caught in a rafter of the barn.  Ginger and Florentine ran in quickly to see what was happening.

Cinnamon gazed at them from upside down, and let out a plaintive bleat.
          “Well, of course, we could leave him up there,” joked Hickory.
Cinnamon looked at him intently.  If he was not mistaken, this was the lamb he and his pals had tried to kidnap, a while ago.  Except that he was not a lamb any more.  In fact, he was bigger than Cinnamon himself now and distinctly more muscular.  However Cinnamon’s worst regret was that he had not tried the door.  He had watched Hickory and Button Mushroom walk straight in.  The door had not been locked.  He himself could have walked straight in, in his search for Carrot Cake’s crown. Instead he had concocted that wooden barrel platform which had led him to launch himself into the rafters and get stuck, hanging by one leg.

They pooled ideas.  They could see only one way out of this predicament.  Bales of straw were pushed together.  Florentine and Ginger rolled the wooden barrels from outside to inside and, with a struggle, they managed to pile them up.  Button Mushroom bit her lip as Hickory started to clamber up.  Even with bales of straw to land on, this was dangerous.  The barrels might slip at any moment.  Whatever else, it was quite a height to jump from.

Hickory concentrated on keeping his balance.  This was more difficult than he first realised.  The barrels swayed and threatened to topple over.  Glancing up, he realised that he would have to leap for it.  With a sudden spring, he leaped to the top barrel.

Cinnamon had only time to gasp as Hickory reached him and butted him hard in the rump, sending him cascading toward the straw bales as his leg dislodged abruptly from the rafter.

Button Mushroom’s jaw dropped as she watched Hickory now catapulting through the air without a hope of hitting the straw.  He landed with a crunch on the floor.

“Fetch Carrot Cake,” she whispered urgently to Florentine.

Chapter 9: Rescue