Over the Hills and Far Away

Chapter Five: Back Home

Asparagus wound his way back gently, missing out the boat ride and the treck over the top of a mountain.  They chatted as they went along.  Hickory often needed to stop and rest; he was very young.  Asparagus searched out the tastiest of food for them, to help keep them full of energy.  Hickory listened to the tales of life at Hadrian’s Wall and wondered if he could visit when he was bigger.  Before he knew it, Aparagus was sending out a trumpet-like bleat across to the hills of Selset, announcing their imminent arrival.

Ashley and Herbert raced off to meet them.  Juniper and Rowan started dancing with delight.  Georgia and Grace made a huge fuss of Hickory when he arrived.  There was only one remaining question on everyone’s lips:

"Where is Prunella?"

Nobody knew.

While Hickory rested and lapped up the treats that Georgia fed him, Juniper, Rowan, Ashley and Herbert galloped away toward Grassholme to spread the good news as soon as possible.  The delight was unimaginable.  Little Hickory was safe and would soon be back among the flock.

Georgia and her Great Aunty Grace loaded up the car with a huge picnic.  They did not understand all that was going on, but they realised enough to know that a celebration was in order.  The car gently wound its way toward Grassholme by road as Hickory and Asparagus approached it by grass track, and they arrived at the same time.

Cheese and chive sandwiches were the first to be devoured, followed by tuna with succulent cucumber.  Pasta with pine nuts was discovered to be a favourite, along with aromatic salads.  Bowls of fromage frais with strawberries appeared and fresh jelly with creamy blancmange. There were cheese and crackers for those who were not full, and slices of apple.

Suddenly the munching stopped and they all stared around.  Hickory was nowhere to be seen.  Surely he had not been kidnapped again while they were busy eating?  Rose burst into tears.

"Where is he?" she cried.

Aunty Marmalade bustled around as quickly as she could, looking behind bales of hay.  Cornelius and Garibaldi ran to the edge of the woodland and called for him.  Beanstalk searched behind boulders.  Suddenly, Georgia let out a laugh.

“Look in here,” she called to her Great Aunty Grace.

Peeping inside the enormous picnic basket, Grace saw little Hickory curled up fast asleep.  Chuckling, she gently picked him up and placed him next to his mother. 

The laughter continued along with the general merriment as they danced, sang and played games among those gentle slopes, to celebrate Hickory’s return.

Back beyond the hills of Selset, the gate of Prunella’s pen gaped open in the breeze, as if wondering if she would ever return.