The night when Jamie met Jill was grey, cloudy and cold. Even the
owls in their thick coat of feathers shuddered and sought shelter
from the wind. |
Jamie had been up all evening, unable to sleep, and now crowded with his family and friends tightly. A huge oak made a green roof over their heads and a cluster of bushes and young hazels protected them from the force of the wind.
A few hours before sunrise, when Jamie's eyelids were heavy and the soft snores of his mother and aunts gently lulled him to sleep, the weather changed. The clouds thickened to a black, dense mass and rain begun to pour down. Thunder rumbled in the distance and lighting made the sky flicker like a broken television. Everybody was soon awake, and huddled together in a frightened herd. The youngest ones started to cry and buff on their mothers for milk, and every roar of thunder made them wince and tremble. Jamie bravely comforted his twin sisters, trying to act like a grown-up and not burden his parents with his own fear.
The storm advanced steadily and suddenly a thunderbolt struck the oak that stood next to the one under which they hid. They fled in terror, right through the fence, over a field, through another fence and finally towards the safety of a group of junipers. Jamie ran blindly and suddenly bumped into something with a force that made his vision flicker just like the sky did. Jamie shook his head and dizzily stood up on four shaky legs. The creature that had been in his way did likewise. It was a female. She was the Female, for she was the most beautiful feminine being he had ever seen before.
Her eyes were the same colour as ripe chestnuts, dark and gleaming with unknown depths. Her light, short curls seemed as soft as the few clouds on a bright summer day, or as cream whipped to precisely right consistence - not too soft and runny, and not too hard with yellow lumps, almost on the verge of being butter, because you forgot to turn the mixer off. Jamie felt that if he would lick her, she would taste sweet and light, like a flower or a sun ray.
"Sorry", he said. She smiled and Jamie thought she looked like an angel. Not like the fat ones with tiny wings on little clouds though.
Jamie did not know what to reply to this, and looked around sheepishly. The rest of his family and friends stood nearby among the junipers, facing another crowd. They must have stepped into someone else's land, thought Jamie. Hopefully these people would let them stay the night, for it was dark and no weather for walking.
"Is this your family?" asked the gorgeous creature and looked about her.
"Yes", answered Jamie.
"I guess you'll have to stay till dawn at least. Why did you come?"
"Well... the lighting hit our place, and we got scared and ran for it." Jamie shuffled his feet shyly. "Is it OK if we stay?"
"Why, that's not up to me to decide. I believe my parents are talking to yours about that right now." She was then silent, and Jamie heard his mother's voice:
"It is most kind of you. We will return your hospitality at any time."
"No need to thank us", answered an old male. "One must help one's neighbours out in times like these. Who knows, a force majeure might drive us away from our home also, when we least expect it."
"One cannot control the weather", said a female that appeared to be his mate. The others nodded and hummed in agreement.
"So, it's settled then", said Jamie relieved and looked at Jill again. He could not keep his eyes away from his new acquaintance very long.
"Yes, so it seems", answered she. "I'm Jill, by the way."
"Jamie", said Jamie and they smelled each other. Jill was a mixture of smells, parts of her mother and father, parts of her friends and one part that was quite her own. That part Jamie liked the most. He could not smell any younger siblings on her, and that surprised him.
"Haven't you got any brothers or sisters?" asked he.
"No", she replied. "I was Mum's first kid and this year she carried triplets, but they were stillborn."
"Oh, I'm sorry..."
"It's OK. She'll have other babies. It's no big deal. We're plenty as it is, what with her sister's little brats and all."
"Were you born last year?" asked Jamie curiously.
"Yes. Were you?"
"Yes. Mum had twins this year."
They were quiet and Jamie desperately thought after something to say. Then Jill broke the silence.
"Maybe we should get some sleep? The others are sleeping already."
"Yeah, you're right, we need some sleep", agreed Jamie. He folded his legs and hoped she would lie down next to him. She did! She snuggled close to him and fell asleep almost immediately. Jamie was unable to follow her example, however, he was far too excited. Beautiful Jill so close to him! It was like a wonderful dream.
The next morning Jamie realised that he must have dozed off for a while after all, because he was wakened by human voices and the bark of dogs. Jill opened her eyes drowsily next to him.
"Oh no", said he. "It's our masters and the dogs coming for us!"
"That sucks", said she. "I want you to stay."
"I want to stay too", he murmured sadly and moved closer to her.
The dogs were almost there now. They barked excitedly and waved their long, fluffy tails. The masters then suddenly called them back. Jamie was surprised. This had never happened before. Usually the masters would let the dogs round him and the rest of the flock up and then herd them away to a place wherever the masters wanted them to be.
"Oh, the dogs can't separate your flock from ours", said Jill. "I wonder how they will do now."
The masters stood talking for a while and then one of them went away. Some time later he returned with humans Jamie did not recognize.
"That's our masters!" exclaimed Jill surprised.
Together with the new humans Jamie's masters and the dogs sorted out all the adults of Jamie's flock. Maybe they had marked them somehow, for they examined every individual carefully. Naturally the children then followed their parents, anxious not to be left behind. All but Jamie, who stayed next to Jill.
"Jamie!" cried his mother worriedly. "Come here at once!"
"No Mum", answered he. "Please don't make me go! I want to stay here."
"Don't be silly", said his father angrily. "You belong with us, lad. Come here now."
"I won't go." Jamie looked stubborn. His parents yelled at him and ordered him to come, but did not dare to move past the dogs and go to him.
Finally the humans decided that the sheep were correctly divided and Jamie's masters chased his flock back to their own grounds.
"Phew", said Jamie. "That was close."
"Why do you want to be here?" asked Jill then. Jamie blushed.
"I admire the beautiful... er... surroundings", said he and looked at Jill. Now it was her turn to blush and be embarrassed.
"You do?" she asked shyly.
The following summer Jill gave birth to adorable triplet boys. Their wool were soft and cloudy just like Jill's and their eyes gleamed amber just like Jamie's. That summer, however, something disastrous happened. First, the masters of Jill's flock decided to sell all of them to the masters of Jamie's old flock and take up horse breeding instead. But the day before the two flocks were going to be made into one, a pack of half-wild dogs came lose and killed nearly three quarters of Jill's flock, including Jamie and the children. It was no happy reunion when the two flocks finally came together.
"Had but Jamie listened to his parents!" thought Jill, her eyes wet with tears. "Then we'd have met again now when our flocks are united, and he wouldn't have been killed! We'd have lost a year, but won a lifetime." She sobbed.
Finally Jill became haggis, for she refused to take a new husband and the masters could not keep a sheep that did not produce any lambs.
Morale: Always obey your Mum and Dad, they know better than you do.