William’s head hung dejectedly as he followed the Spandecs, who in turn followed Toby Ron and Duke across the field towards the northern paddock. This was all his fault but he was yet to be punished. He had lost his brother and now he was dead. Perhaps that was castigation enough.
The scene that greeted them when they arrived at the paddock was not quite what William was expecting. His mother was there with a scowl on her face – not exactly the expression of a mourning mother. At the focal point of her scowl was young Billy, pushing up daisies as Toby Ron had said. As usual, he was moaning.
“It’s not fair!” he cried - and not for the first time, if his mother’s expression was anything to judge by. “This is stupid.”
Mrs Goat continued to scowl at her son. “It’s perfectly fair. Mr O’Bee warned you what would happen next time you threw one of your little breakfast tantrums.”
Billy continued muttering under his breath but resumed uprooting the little yellow and white flowers.
Foxy Loxy drew alongside Duke. “What exactly is the point of that?” he asked quietly.
“Toby Ron’s agreed to look after Streppy the incontinent Shetland Pony for Dynamo Joe, of Dynamo Joe’s Petting Zoo and Animal Electrical Experience,” Duke replied softly. “The poor fella’s lost it completely after that break-in a couple of weeks ago.”
Foxy nodded. “That’s a strange case, alright. What’s the deal with the daisies, though?”
“Streppy has a very sensitive stomach. Daisies give him the runs.”
“I say, dear boy!” said Turkey Lurkey, squinting and peering forward. “I know my eyesight is not great, but is that young goat not digging up each flower individually with his little horns? It’s hardly the most efficient method of daisy removal, is it?”
“I think that’s the point,” said Foxy.
“Quite so,” confirmed Duke. “He’s a bit of a moody goat, this one, and kicked over the milk bucket this morning. Not for the first time, mind you. Toby Ron wanted that milk to make some scones.”
“Ah, so this is his punishment?” asked Turkey.
“Sounds a bit harsh to me,” volunteered Weasel. “I figure that bucket probably leaked and you would have lost most of the milk anyway.”
“Well, that’s hardly the point!” said Turkey. “And it’s certainly no laughing matter!”
This last comment was directed at young William. At the sight of his brother hard at work and the accompanying explanation, all the worry and tension in him had drained away. Instead, he found himself shaking with laughter. The more he desperately tried to suppress it lest he also got in trouble, the harder it became, until tears were rolling down his cheeks. Any trouble now, however, seemed wholly trivial next to what he had been expecting - his brother was far too animated to be a corpse.
It was Turkey Lurkey’s turn to scowl and William’s turn to be scowled at. “This is the problem with the younger generation. No respect for discipline.”