As day broke, they marvelled at the bright yellow dye that coated both Prunella’s head and shoulders, and Cinnamon’s front legs. What, at night time, had been so scaring looked just completely ridiculous in the daylight. Beanstalk felt like prodding their wool to see what it was made of. No wonder he had not recognised Prunella, let alone Cinnamon.
They all stared. They could not help it. Even Deuteronomy circled the pair of them quizzically, trying to fathom out how they had come to be in such a state.
“Okay,” said Asparagus sternly. “Explain yourself, Prunella.”
For once, Prunella hung her head. Usually brazen, her demeanour showed her to be genuinely ashamed of her appearance.
“We can’t get it off,” she wailed. “We’ve even waded into tarns and scrubbed ourselves with gorse. It won’t come off!”
A chuckle sounded out from the back of the flock. Gloria could not restrain herself.
“Is that why you only appeared at night?” she asked. “Were you in fact hiding from everyone, rather than trying to scare them?”
“But how did you get to be this way?” asked Asparagus. “The last time I saw you, you were disappearing into the woods beyond Derwent. You looked a normal colour then.”
“Perhaps I had better explain,” offered Cinnamon.
He was so unused to his sister being embarrassed and silent that he thought he ought to speak.
“I’d gone off across the fields behind Derwent Water. Suddenly, though, Prunella appeared out of the woods, running at speed. She caught sight of me and – although she’d already given me a terrible telling off – started after me. I ran. We argued and ran, then ran and argued. So, I suppose it was my fault for not looking where I was going,” Cinnamon gabbled before pausing for breath.
The flock were beginning to build a picture but were still baffled as to the colour of these two.
“Where were you, when you weren’t looking where you were going?” asked Ruth.
“We’d reached the shepherd hut,” answered Cinnamon.
“Was the shepherd there?” asked Gabriel.
“I didn’t see him,” said Cinnamon. “But the door was open.”
“Did you run in?” asked Hosanna.
“Yes,” replied Cinnamon. “That was where my front legs landed in those two tins.”
The flock was quiet as it tried to digest and make sense of the information.
“Did it hurt when your legs landed in the tins?” asked Seraphim.
“No, not at all, but they were horrible and wet, so I shook them off as quickly as I could,” he replied, shaking his forelocks wildly as if reliving the sensation.
“Where was Prunella, at this time?” asked Carrot Cake.
“She arrived behind me. When I turned round, the tins had landed on her head and were dripping down her shoulders.”
The flock went quiet.
“Of course, it’s the time of year when shepherds would be getting ready to daub the members of their flock with a patch of bright coloured dye,” said Isaiah.“Yes,” agreed Seraphim. “And this shepherd must have chosen yellow.”