Rowan and Juniper were keen to take off on new adventures.
“Stay a few days before you set off again,” spoke the soft voice of
Aunt Marshmallow. “We old ones like your company, and we’d like to think out a safe journey for you to undertake.”
Indeed, they enjoyed a time of playing with all their young relatives. They ran up and down the nearby hills, playing chase around boulders and jumping over small streams. Sometimes Aunty Marmalade enthralled them all by showing them how to find tasty plants. At other times they listened to the tales of Garibaldi and Beanstalk, who thrilled them with accounts of their own youthful adventures. Finally, the gentle songs of Aunt Marshmallow would lull them to sleep.
Christopher and Pavlova decided that Rowan and Juniper should travel not only with Button Mushroom but also their cousins Ashley and Herbert. Cornelius had a mission for them: they were to find their way to Grace’s house in the hills beyond Selset, to visit half-cousin Prunella and see how she was.
Rowan and Juniper smiled at each other as they checked that Button Mushroom was still trotting along behind them. She was so happy to be travelling with them, and very excited. She had heard the others talk of half-cousin Prunella but could only guess at the details. All she knew for sure was that Prunella had been taken to an enclosure in Grace’s garden, which was somewhere beyond the hills of Selset. Ashley and Herbert helped to navigate the way through the undulating hills. They travelled with ease.
Grace happened to see the approach of the five young sheep, and watched them curiously.
“Georgia,” she whispered. “I think we’re getting a visit from relatives of Prunella.”
Georgia looked up at her Great Aunty Grace and decided that she was not joking. She hurried to join her at the window.
“So, who are you?” shrieked Prunella. “Your coat is so speckled you look like a dirty, old hen,” she spat at Button Mushroom.
Button’s lip trembled. Then she remembered some of the stories she had heard of Prunella. Apparently she had likened Rowan and Juniper to mustard and custard when they were young. Gazing at the beautiful figures of Rowan and Juniper now, Button realised that Prunella viewed the world differently to everyone else. Her lip steadied, and she was sure she would not cry.
Ashley, however, was quite upset: “Don’t be like that, Prunella,” he cried out.
Prunella demanded: “Who are you, that I should take any notice of your opinion?”
“We’re your relatives, and you don’t need to be rude,” stated Herbert, brusquely.
“We’ve come to see how you are,” said Ashley, jostling the gate, very annoyed by Prunella’s manner.
“Hmmph,” grunted Prunella.
Rowan and Juniper tried to cheer her up by telling her something of their travels. Prunella looked bored and opened her mouth wide in a huge, lingering yawn.
“Oh well, when we go back to Hadrian’s Wall, we can at least tell Great Uncle Celery that we’ve been to visit you,” said Rowan.
Prunella’s eyes narrowed. They hadn’t mentioned Celery before. This was interesting. So, he was still alive.
As her visitors waved, ready to depart, a rage started to brew inside Prunella. She had a score to settle with Celery. Her furious eyes hardly noticed her young visitors leaving. Glancing round her enclosure, she noticed that Ashley had accidentally knocked the lock of the pen gate open when he had become agitated. Without a further moment’s thought, Prunella walked out and followed the path of the youngsters.
Grace and Georgia stood perplexed. They had not expected this.