Summer brought the delights of lush green grass, freedom to roam and picnics. The twins were steady on their feet and growing rapidly. Occasionally Pavlova let them wander on their own. They skipped and jumped through the golden heather, pranced through leafy ferns and dodged the purple flowers on spiky thistles. They had been warned not to go as far as Cow Green. The cows were ok really but sometimes easily led or excited, or sometimes just plain bad-tempered. With cows being at least three times the size of sheep, care had to be taken.
Prunella was not hungry because she had just eaten three picnics. In her blanket, she was invincible. Merely the sight of her seemed to prompt picnickers to abandon their food and leave. Perhaps the snarl on her face helped too. She didn’t need the cows with her to frighten people. She could do it by herself. Being bored at the moment, though, she visited the cows just to annoy them. She could sit on the rocks above the dry stone wall, just out of their reach, and say whatever she liked.
Georgia was spending more and more time at Great Aunty Grace’s, now that it was the summer holidays. They enjoyed each other’s company. Georgia learnt the names of all the flowers and herbs in Grace’s garden. Grace listened with interest to all Georgia’s tales of being at school. Sometimes, if they walked right to the top of the highest hills, they could see Grassholme Reservoir in the distance. The water glistened in the sunshine and the sheep looked like little moving dots.
It was mid August. Cousin Cornelius came to visit Pavlova with a look of seriousness on his face. He had been visiting at Falcoln Clints when he had overheard some Rangers discussing a rogue sheep. They had received complaints from a number of visitors that this sheep was terrorising tourists. It devoured their picnics. There was mention of it wearing a ragged blanket. Cornelius knew of only one sheep that wore a blanket. He also knew that, although the Rangers usually supported sheep wholeheartedly, they could not support one that behaved this badly.
Pavlova thought they ought to hold a meeting, to get everyone’s opinion. If Prunella herself would attend, she could hear how worried they were, and how they cared about what might happen to her.
“I put it to you, Prunella,” Uncle Broccoli announced, once the meeting had begun, “That you do not need these tactics in order to gain food. I think you will find that most people are very generous. You do not even need to ask. They seem to feed us, anyway.”
“Speak for yourself,” hissed Prunella.
Uncle Broccoli retained his composure and sat down.
“Ok,” began Cornelius, “But do you know what the Rangers might do to you if you persist in this behaviour, Prunella?”
“What sort of threat is that?” cried Prunella. “What can they do to me?” she demanded.
“I ask because I do not know. I only know that they have the power to remove you from these hills, if necessary. I do not know how, nor what will happen to you after that,” stated Cornelius.
Prunella adjusted her blanket and glared around.
“Please, Prunella, do not frighten the picnickers,” they all pleaded. “We don’t want the Rangers to take you away.”
“I’d like to see them try!” snapped Prunella. With a swish of her blanket, she turned tail and disappeared into the gloom of a gorse bush.
Chapter Ten: A Picnic Too Many