WARNING: This fic is non-slash and contains non-consensual, non-sexual spanking, IE corporal punishment.
I grew up on All Creatures Great and Small and started to watch it again recently, and I realized that there are a LOT of scenes where a spanking would fit perfectly (and the way Peter Davison acts, you could believe that it's happening offscreen.) So I went through the second episode (the first with Tristan) and added in a couple scenes where I thought punishment would be appropriate. Most of this fic is the script translated to story format so you have the background behind each scene. I do not take credit for that. I only take credit for the spankings I put in it. If there is enough interest I might do this for the rest of the episodes of the season, and see where it goes from there.
James Herriot sat at the breakfast table and nervously sipped at his tea. He had only been at the surgery a few days, coming fresh out of veterinary school. The work out here in the country was just a bit different than what he had prepared himself for. It seemed most of the people relied on superstitions and folk remedies rather than the medical work he had just spent so long studying. Fortunately his employer, Siegfried Farnon, was helping him through it. Well, mostly. The senior vet also had enjoyed a few chuckles on his behalf, but none of it was mean spirited.
Unfortunately, thanks to the local's mistrust for veterinaries, he might be out of a job again soon enough. The other day he was called out to check on a horse, and the poor creature was suffering from torsion of the bowels. There was nothing he could do but shoot it. The animal's caretaker did not agree with him, he thought that the animal's case was much simpler, and now he was threatening to sue. If he was successful, James could lose his job, his degree, even his home. Right now he was staying with Siegfried in a spare room in his house. It was awfully convenient. The surgery was on the first floor with the bedrooms on the second, so he just needed to come down in the morning to be at work, and the house was plenty big enough. It would be a shame to leave.
He couldn't eat his breakfast from nerves. Siegfried was over at the ranch at that moment performing an autopsy to make sure his diagnosis was correct. He was pretty certain he had made the right call, otherwise he never would have put down the poor animal. He knew he was right. But his mind didn't, and it was the one causing him to be on edge.
James turned his head when he heard the sound of a car door slamming, followed by the front door, and soon after that the older Mr. Farnon walked into the eating area, his face unreadable. That didn't do anything to calm his nerves at all.
"Morning," James called out, trying to appear optimistic.
"Morning, James," Siegfried returned the greeting with a nod as he walked to the table, stuffing his pipe into his pocket as he went. "Coffee still hot?" He grabbed the pot to peer into it and see how much was left.
"Yes, just made," James confirmed. "Shall I, er…" He took the pot to pour it for him.
"No, I can manage."
James nodded and let his hands drop back down to his lap. Siegfried seemed in a rather sober mood, which didn't bode well for him.
"I wonder if I could have the sugar, please, James," the other man requested as he took the pot and filled a cup of the dark brew.
James didn't hesitate to pass the bowl over. He was eager to hear the news, but he also didn't want to ask, so he had to wait for Siegfried to be ready to tell.
"Thank you." Siegfried dropped two spoonfuls in his coffee and declined when James offered him the cream next. "No, I'll have it black." With that, he picked up his cup and saucer and walked off to the cozier half of the parlour, where there was a fireplace and a couch set up. He stood by the mantle as if in thought, then turned to James and took his first sip.
James cleared his throat. "You've been over to Lord Hulton's, then?"
"Yes, all done," Siegfried confirmed, lowering his cup again. He didn't offer any other information, which made James feel much worse.
He turned slightly towards the other man. "How did it go?"
"Alright. Straightforward enough," Siegfried answered him, taking another sip.
James nodded and looked away, trying to figure out what this meant for him.
Siegfried slowly grinned and began to chuckle. "Classical torsion, several loops of bowel involved, black and timpanitic. You did well, James, very well." He looked at the younger man with amusement.
James smiled in relief and began to chuckle too. Siegfried's laughter was contagious. "Oh, good!"
"Had you sweating a bit there, didn't I?" Siegfried laughed, looking quite pleased with himself.
"Yes, you could say that." James nodded, grinning.
"Well, you can stop sweating now. Damn good thing you put that poor beggar out of his misery." The older vet made his way back to the table now that his ruse was over. "You've got nothing to worry about. It's more than I can say for that wretched man Soames." He handed his cup back to James to be refilled.
James took it and poured him a fresh cup. Soames was the one who had been giving him trouble about the horse and threatening to ruin him. He hoped that man was sweating some now. "He was there, was he?"
Siegfried rested his hands in his pockets as he waited. "He was there trying to mix you in a bottle, I soon put a stop to that. I asked him how he thought Lord Hulton was going to feel when he found out how long he had kept his favourite hunter suffering before calling us in." He accepted his cup back from James and watched the young man pour himself a cup, then took a sip of his. "Gave him something to chew on, I can tell you."
"Yes, I can imagine!" James raised his cup to take a sip just as Siegfried spoke up again.
"Are you ready?" the other man asked him.
"Yes," he sighed and set his cup back down, though he really hadn't had anything to eat yet thanks to his mood earlier. But Siegfried would have none of that. He was already halfway out the door.
"Let's go have a look at the day book, and see if we can't find you a few trouble-free cases this time," the other man spoke as he walked into the hallway and down to the surgery. James got up to follow behind him. "Ah, yes, I know," he continued, stooping momentarily to grab his bag which he had left by the door, "Handshaw's farm." He pushed his way into the clinic. "Course, you won't know who that is, will you?"
"Er, no," James answered, closing the door behind him. The surgery was a small room, just big enough for two desks and an examination table. Instead of cabinets the walls were lines with shelves that had all of their medicines sitting in bottles. The desks were a bit haphazard, but the medical supplies were always in order.
Siegfried set all of his things down and searched for a pad of paper. "I'll write it down for you. Umm…" he fiddled with his pen as he tried to concentrate on two things at once. "One of his cows has had milk fever. I've given her a couple of injections but, according to old Handshaw, she still won't get off her backside." He began to write. "Have a look at her for me, will you?"
"Right," James nodded and leaned back against one of the desks, watching Siegfried drawing on the paper.
"You get there on the Borton Road, third turn to the left, just after the cock hatch." He measured out a map, drawing a curved road with three intersections so James would remember. "Alright? How's that look to you?" He tore the paper off the pad and handed it over for the young man to hold onto.
"Thanks," James said as he took it and scanned the page over to make sure he could understand it. He tilted his head to the side and flipped it around a few times.
Siegfried didn't notice, he went about with his business, setting the pad and pen to the side. "Do me a favour while you're out, will you, James?"
"Yes, of course," James glanced up.
Siegfried picked up his coffee cup. "I have my brother arriving today, he's been at veterinary college. His term finished yesterday, and his train's due in at midday. Would you mind picking him up?"
James folded the paper and tucked it into his pocket. "Yes, of course. How will I recognise him?"
"You shouldn't have any trouble there," Siegfried set his cup down again after taking a sip. "He looks rather like me, I suppose. Except he's a fresh-faced kid." He grabbed a labcoat and tools to put with the wash. "Rings under his eyes. Bit like a debauched choirboy." He chuckled a bit. "His name's Tristan, by the way."
"Tristan?" James asked, puzzled. He grabbed some things to carry over to help Siegfried with the work.
"Yeah." Siegfried removed his jacket to start washing.
"Father was dotty about Wagner," Siegfried explained.
"Quite partial to a bit of Wagner myself," James commented, setting a tray in the sink.
"But you weren't subjected to it, were you?" Siegfried asked, going through the coat to get all of the tools out that had been wrapped in it. "Morning, noon and night. Or stuck with a ridiculous name like Siegfried. Still- thank you." He took one of the tools that James offered him to wash. "I suppose it could have been worse. Could've been, er, Wotan."
"Or Pogner," James smirked.
"I'd forgotten about old Pogner!" Siegfried rolled up his sleeves, chuckling. "Pogner Farnon."
"Sounds like a south coast holiday resort," James added, which got a laugh out of both of them.
Tristan Farnon stooped to grab one of his bags and sling it over his shoulder, a cigarette hanging casually out of his mouth as one usually did. Once his first bag was in place he grabbed his other and began walking down the platform, glancing about for a familiar face. He didn't see his brother waiting, but he knew that Siegfried would be eager to hear about his grades, he wouldn't leave him without some sort of ride. He took a puff of his cigarette and walked through an arch to get to the street. Maybe he was waiting out there.
"Tristan Farnon, I presume?"
Tris looked over to the man who called him. He had the brown hair and hazel eyes of a Scot, a rather thin frame, and he only seemed a little older than Tris was. He didn't know his face at all. Still, he grinned brightly. "Yes!"
"James Herriot, your brother's new assistant," James introduced himself, looking over Tristan curiously. He had the same dirty blond hair and green-blue eyes as his brother, but while Siegfried was rather short and stocky, Tristan had a taller, leaner build to him. And apparently he preferred cigarettes to the pipe that his brother smoked. Still, there was no mistaking that they were related.
"Oh, hello!" Tristan held a hand out cheerily. He was already displaying the same chipper demeanor that Siegfried usually wore. James shook it gladly. Then Tris held out one of his bags for James to take. "Thanks!" James nearly fell over from the weight of it. Tristan almost dropped the other one on him and got in the car.
James gave the younger Farnon an annoyed look, but he was too polite to complain. Perhaps Tristan's ride had worn him out enough that he had a momentary lapse in manners. He walked around the car to carefully place them inside, giving Tris a smile as he did so, and he got in the driver's seat to head home.
Soon they were away from the station and into the country. "You'll have just finished your exams, then?" James asked the other man.
"That's right," Tristan answered, "Pathology and parasitology."
"Oh, yes!" James nodded, remembering how those classes were for him. "Good journey down?"
"Slept for most of it," Tristan said.
Tristan nodded. He was still exhausted, so he didn't feel much like contributing to the conversation, and James soon gave up.
Finally they made it back to the surgery. Tristan got out of the vehicle and worked on finishing up his cigarette. James, being the polite guy that he was, stepped around to get his bags again. Though he was clearly struggling to hold them, Tristan simply watched with some amusement.
When they got up the stairs to the doorway he turned. "Bit of a roughish end of term party last night," he mentioned as an explanation.
"Ah!" James nodded, though he wasn't much of a partier himself when he was in school. He smirked a bit. "Swinging the lamp and telling the tale, eh?"
"Mine was with a couple of girlfriends, actually," Tris smirked back.
The smile slowly left James' face. "Oh… Really?"
Tristan chuckled and opened the door to step inside, leaving it open for James to follow.
"Mrs. Hall!" Tristan called out happily when he saw their housekeeper cleaning in the hallway. She had been with them forever, it seemed, even when he was little.
Her face lit up when she heard him. "Hello, Mister Tristan!" she exclaimed as she moved closer to greet him.
"How do you do it?" Tristan asked her.
"What's that?" she asked, getting a puzzled frown on her face.
"Manage to look younger every time I see you," Tristan grinned.
"Oh! Get away with you and your brother!" she scolded lightly.
"Oh, is my brother in?" Tris asked.
"No, he won't be back till tonight," Mrs. Hall answered.
Tristan nodded in thanks and made his way partway up the stairs, then paused for James to follow, still lugging his things. He saluted to Mrs. Hall as a goodbye and continued on the rest of the way up.
Tristan didn't come back down until much, much later in the evening. He needed a nap after last night's activities. He entered the parlour and saw that his brother and James had already sat down with drinks.
"Oh, you're down at last, are you?" Siegfried asked without even looking up from a magazine he was reading.
"Thought I'd take a bath, freshen up a bit," Tristan answered, sticking his hands in his pockets. "How are you?"
Siegfried glanced up and looked his younger brother over. "Fine," he replied, turning back to the article.
Tristan swallowed. It was always a bit awkward, the first time he saw his brother after being away for a time. "Do you mind if I, um…" He gestured to the bottle of brandy that was sitting out.
Siegfried looked over to where he was pointing. "Help yourself." He flipped through the pages, clearly not reading though he was pretending to.
Tristan walked over to the drink bar and poured himself a glass.
"So… How did the exams go?" Siegfried asked his brother. He tried to appear casual about it, but that was a matter that always concerned him when it came to his brother.
"Not bad. I did alright in parasitology," Tristan answered confidentially.
"And pathology?" Siegfried asked about next, still looking down at his magazine.
"I didn't do quite so well in pathology," Tristan admitted, walking over. "Didn't get it." He put an innocent smile on his face.
Siegfried paused, then looked over at his little brother and took off his reading glasses. "You failed pathology?"
"Right," Tristan took a gulp of his drink.
Siegfried stared at his brother, getting a look of disapproval on his face as he processed that information.
"Still, that's pretty good, you know?" James spoke up.
"Pretty good?" Siegfried turned his cold, calculating eyes on his new assistant.
"Getting parasitology," James explained. "And pathology's a very tough subject."
"Oh, it was tough!" Tristan agreed, a bit dramatically, with a nod.
"You can sit it again at Christmas," James added.
Siegfried looked back to his brother.
"There is always Christmas," Tristan repeated.
"Yeah," James backed him up. Despite his first impression of him, Tristan seemed like a good enough person, and he didn't want to see the two brothers fighting.
The older Farnon looked back and forth between them now, his face unreadable. "And you think that's pretty good, do you?" he asked James.
"Well…" James glanced down a moment, then nodded. "Yes."
"Well I don't think it's pretty good. I think it's awful." Siegfried's voice steadily grew angry, then he shouted. "A damn disgrace!" He threw his magazine down and stood, walking around the couch to look at his younger brother, who took a step back. "Just what the hell have you been doing all this term? Boozing, I suppose. Chasing women, I suppose. Spending my money! And now you have the nerve to come in here and tell me that you failed pathology." He slowly advanced towards Tristan, "Well, I've had enough this time." He grabbed his brother's collar and pulled him close to look him in the eye. Even though the younger Farnon was a four or five inches taller than the older, he was still plenty intimidated. "I'm sick of you, you see? Sick! I am not going to go on working my fingers to the bone just to keep you there idling away your time."
Tristan pursed his lips and opened his mouth to protest.
"Shut up!" Siegfried ordered. "You're sacked! Do you hear me? Sacked! Go on, get out of here! I don't want to see you around here any more! Get out!" He let go of Tristan and pointed to the door.
Tristan looked down and slowly set his drink on a nearby table, his hands folded behind his back, protecting his bottom in case his brother decided to get physical while he was at it. He didn't think he would, not with James in the room, but one could never be too careful. He slipped past his brother, keeping his back facing away, and stuffed his hands back in his pockets once he was a safe distance. As soon as he walked out the door he heard his brother rushing up behind him, so he broke into a sprint up the stairs for his room.
"Parasite!" Siegfried called up after him, then went back into the parlour. "Oh, it's alright dogs," he muttered to the three or four pets of his that had grown excited over the shouting. "Calm down, calm down." He grabbed his brother's glass where he left it and drained the contents, needing the alcohol after all of that.
Tristan sat down on his bed and lit a cigarette to calm his nerves. It was never easy when his brother yelled like that. He wasn't nearly as bad as Siegfried liked to imagine. It wasn't as if he didn't try to pass, it was just too hard.
Someone knocked and he tried not to jump. Siegfried wouldn't be up so soon, if he was coming up at all. "Come in," he called out, and he looked over to see James coming in. "Oh, hello James." He offered a cigarette.
"Er, no, I won't, thanks," James declined. He wasn't much of a smoker unless it was a cigar.
Tristan set the carton down and gestured for James to come in and sit down.
"I'm sorry about the way things have worked out," James said as he did so.
Tristan sighed and shrugged. "Could have been worse." His brother could have decided to deal with him back when he had his collar, and that would be much, much worse.
"It's bad enough, though, isn't it?" James asked. "What are you going to do?"
"Do?" Tris questioned, puffing his cigarette.
"Well, now that he's kicked you out," James clarified. "I mean, for a start, where are you going to sleep tonight?"
"Well, here," Tristan smirked. "Where else?"
"But he's sacked you!"
"Oh, he's always doing that!" Tristan chuckled. "Always forgets immediately afterwards." That was one good thing about his brother. He almost always forgot what he had promised to do to Tristan if he stayed out of sight for a few hours.
"Oh, I see," James nodded. That was the first time he had seen Siegfried angry like that since he had only been there a short while, and it was good to know that he didn't mean it.
"That was the tricky part, of course," Tristan went on, "Getting him to swallow that bit about parasitology."
"Parasitology?" James raised a brow. "But you said you passed in parasitology!"
"No I didn't," Tristan grinned, "You did. What I said was I'd done all right."
"You flunked that one as well?" James asked. He didn't know if he should be impressed or incredulous.
"Oh yes," Tris nodded, "Still, as you said yourself, there's always Christmas, eh?"
"Yes," James smirked. "There's always Christmas."
Later that night, after everyone had fallen asleep, the phone began to ring. One of the downsides to being a country vet was that they received and had to accept calls at all times of the day, even if it were three in the morning.
Tristan groaned at the sound and clutched his pillow more tightly.
Siegfried and James both came rushing out of their rooms at the same time to answer it.
"I'll get it, Siegfried," James offered with a yawn.
"God, no, you won't," Siegfried muttered angrily, tugging his robe on as he went down the stairs. "Hello, yes?" he answered the phone. "Oh! Mrs. Pumphrey! Tricki-woo's gone what? Flop Bot again? I see. Ah, well, I'll send someone out to see him. Goodbye," he said cheerily and hung up the phone, then headed for the top of the stairs. "Mrs. Punphrey," he told James, "Tricki-woo's going Flop Bot again."
"Tricki who?" James asked him.
"Woo," Siegfried answered.
Siegfried didn't answer as he burst into his brother's room and slammed the door behind him. "For you," he looked to the sleeping lump that was Tristan.
"What?" Tris groaned and slowly rolled towards him.
"The blasted telephone," Siegfried growled.
"I hear no telephone," Tristan told him.
"Of course you don't, 'cause I just answered it! How many times have I got to tell you, it is your job to take the early morning calls! Your job!" Siegfried grabbed the covers and yanked them off of his brother. "Now will you get out of that damn bed?"
Tristan sighed and pulled the blankets back over himself. "It isn't ringing anymore, Siegfried," he yawned.
"I don't care," Siegfried tugged them away again, then gave his brother a solid swat on his pajama-clad bottom. "You are going to go downstairs and sit by the phone just in case there is another call coming through, all because you couldn't be bothered to take this one. Do I make myself clear?"
Tristan jumped at the hit and pushed himself up a little. "That's not fair!" he protested. "I'm still tired after all that studying I did for the end of the term!"
"Studying?" Siegfried gave his brother a look that sent him backing away to the edge of the bed. "If you were studying then you would have passed pathology, wouldn't you?" He sat down and gestured for his brother to move closer. "In fact, I think I ought to give you something to think about while you sit downstairs, considering all the pain you've caused me since you've been home."
Tristan swallowed nervously. That did not sound good, not at all. "Actually, you're right, I should go down right now," he said, getting to his feet on the other side of his bed. "Who knows if someone should call? We wouldn't want me to be preoccupied if that were to happen, would we?"
"I wouldn't want you to get bored either," Siegfried crooked his finger. "Do not make me say it again, Tristan. Come here at once."
Tristan groaned loudly and slowly made his way around the bed. "Now? But Siegfried, I'm going to wake someone up…"
"No more than that phone would have, and you didn't seem to mind then," Siegfried told him.
"That's a bit different, isn't it," Tristan muttered.
Siegfried simply gave him a hard look and pulled his brother down and across his lap when he was close enough.
Tristan tried to get comfortable but his brother adjusted him to a better position.
"I have had enough of this behavior," Siegfried scolded, giving his brother the first of many hard smacks on his backside.
Tristan yelped and tried to squirm off. He held his tongue, knowing that that usually just got him in worse trouble. Siegfried didn't spank him often, and when he did it was usually when he was angry. He didn't do it as an afterthought like this unless Tris had done something really bad, and usually those ones were the worst.
"You are not going to spend the summer doing as you please," Siegfried continued, picking up the pace, swatting Tristan's bottom with a purpose. He had, unfortunately, had to get used to doing this at a young age since their father was gone. He felt more like Tristan's father than his brother at times, and he was sure the brat felt the same way. "You are going to do the work I ask you to. No more being lazy!"
Tristan grit his teeth. "Alright!" he grunted, kicking a bit on reaction. "I missed the phone once, don't you think you're overreacting?!"
"No I do not!" Siegfried continued. "I know how you work by now, Tristan. I let something go and next thing I know it's become a habit. No, I want this to be very clear at the beginning of your stay this summer." He tilted his brother forward a bit to attack his sensitive undercurves.
"Aaah!" Tristan protested and put his hands in the way. "Stop it! I already get it, Siegfried, I promise!" His butt was starting to feel like it was on fire.
"Well I don't think you do," Siegfried batted his hands away. "And I won't be stopping until I am sure." With nothing else to be said, he picked up his pace. He was tired and a bit cranky and he wanted to go to bed, so he wanted to end this quickly.
Siegfried wasn't making any move to keep his scolding or his hits quiet, so Tristan put no effort into staying quiet either. Mrs. Hall was used to it by now, and James… he would probably get used to it in the future, unfortunately. Tristan didn't care about that now. All he cared about was getting through the damn thing, and if yelling 'stop!' and 'sorry!' enough times helped end it, then so be it.
After another few minutes Siegfried could feel heat radiating from his younger brother's bottom and he sighed, finally stopping. He was too tired to continue at this point anyway. He slowly rubbed circles on Tristan's back to calm him down. The boy had worked himself up enough to start crying a little, and now he felt bad. Such was the lot of an older brother. He shook his head and stood Tristan up, then stood up himself and wrapped his arms around his little brother for comfort.
Tristan immediately fell into the hug. His brother very rarely offered any kind of affection like this, he had some idea that it would spoil Tristan more and give him an even bigger ego, so when he got some Tristan would enjoy it while he could. It almost made getting spanked worth it, and it was the only reason he still put up with them.
After a moment, when Tristan had his tears and his breathing under control, Siegfried pulled away. "Now, I want you downstairs in a chair facing the phone," he instructed, brushing the boy's hair back. "No arguing. It's nearly four now, and we'll be eating at six, so that's only two hours. Be glad I'm not making you stand the whole time. If anyone does call you can come and get me. Am I clear?"
"Yes, Siegfried," Tristan mumbled, looking away.
"Good," Siegfried smiled. "Go on then. I'll see you in the morning." He waited for Tris to go downstairs before leaving the room. He'd hate to have to go through this again before breakfast if his brother didn't obey him.
Tristan huffed and slowly made his way down, grabbing a chair from the dining room table. Siegfried acted like being told to sit was a mercy, but it'd be torture on him. When he heard his brother's door shut as he went in for the rest of the night, he crept back out to grab a cushion from the couch and a cigarette. Then he settled down to stare at the phone for a long two hours.
It seemed like only a minute passed before he felt someone's hand on his back and he lifted his head groggily. "Hm?" When had he slumped over the end table like that?
"Are you alright, Mister Farnon?" he heard Mrs. Hall ask in concern.
"Yes, quite," Tristan yawned and sat up, then winced when he put his full weight on his bottom.
"Well, you don't seem it," Mrs. Hall eyed him. "What are you doing sleeping out here? You haven't been at the bottle already, have you?"
"No," he shook his head. "Nothing like that. Siegfried wanted me to sit out here in case someone rang, all because I was too tired to hear one earlier." He gave her a sad look.
"Oh!" Mrs. Hall rolled his eyes. "Of course he did… Well, I won't interfere with any business between you two, but I will bring you some nice hot coffee while I get breakfast ready. How does that sound?"
"That sounds wonderful," Tristan gave her a grin. "Thank you."
"Don't mention it." She eyed the cushion he was sitting on. "Will you be needing a couple aspirin to take with it too, then?"
Tristan's cheeks flushed a little and he averted his eyes. "I, er…"
"Don't you worry, Mister Farnon," she smirked a little. "I watched you both grow up, you know. And it wasn't as if you were trying to hide it last night."
"Aspirin would be great," Tristan said quickly. "Thank you."
Mrs. Hall smiled and shook her head and she walked down to the kitchen to start the morning meal for everyone else.
Tristan sighed and rested his forearms on the end table again. He felt exhausted; falling asleep there did nothing for him. And his muscles were stiffening up and cramping from falling asleep like that in the first place. He hated when his brother forced him to do things like this.
"Now, here we are," the housekeeper said as she came in a few moments later, carrying a cup and saucer. "Cream and sugar, just the way you like it."
"Mrs. Hall, you are a saint," Tristan smiled tiredly when she offered it. He took a sip of coffee and closed his eyes as the warmth seeped through him. Damn, it was only making him more sleepy.
"You be careful not to nod off again," Mrs. Hall warned him. "Your brother won't like it if he's told you to sit at attention."
"Oh, don't I know it," Tristan shook his head to wake himself up. "Don't worry about me, I'll manage." He took the aspirin she had left on his saucer and popped them in his mouth, then took another sip to wash them down.
The housekeeper nodded and turned to go back in the kitchen and finished preparing their meal.
Tristan yawned and rubbed his eyes, doing his best to stay conscious for the next half hour.
He was almost off again when he could hear his brother humming cheerily to himself from upstairs. God, what was wrong with him, being so awake at this hour?
"Good morning, dear brother!" Siegfried said brightly as he came down the stairs.
"What's so good about it?" Tristan asked, shooting his brother an annoyed look.
"Oh, many things, many things," Siegfried grinned and gave him a pat on the back. "You really must get up and look about a bit rather than sit on your backside all day."
"You're the one who told me to sit!" Tristan protested.
"Oh, yes I did, didn't I?" Siegfried frowned in thought, looking over him. He glanced down at the cushion Tris was sitting on and raised a brow.
"What? You never said I couldn't," Tristan sipped from his cup. "Only that I had to sit."
"True enough, I suppose," Siegfried nodded, then smiled again. "Well, cheer up a bit. You can get up now. So there were no more calls last night I take it?"
"No, none," Tris answered, standing. "And now I am off to bed again." He began to move the chair and cushion back in place.
"What? Aren't you going to eat with us?" Siegfried asked his younger brother.
"No, I am not," Tristan sighed, "I am tired and sore and I just want to go back to sleep."
Siegfried stepped over to him and grabbed hold of his chin to look at his eyes, then felt his forehead. "You do look rather terrible," he conceded.
Tristan rolled his eyes heavily. "Thanks for that."
Siegfried didn't react to that. "Very well, I shall allow you two more hours to sleep. Go on up to bed."
That was more like it. Tristan yawned again and nodded at him, then made his way back up to his room so he could slump over in bed and pass out for a few hours.
The next day, Tristan sat down in the clinic with James, watching him work while he puffed another cigarette.
"Hasn't Siegfried surfaced yet?" James asked curiously, pouring out the proper amount of a solution for a vaccine.
"Just about," Tris exhaled. "In a pretty vile humour, I'm afraid."
"Oh?" James smirked, more amused than worried.
"He was up most of the night over at Whiteley's place with one of the cows," Tristan explained. "Seems to blame you for it."
"Me?" James asked incredulously.
Tristan opened his mouth to answer, then heard footsteps and the door started to open. He quickly spun around to put his cigarette out and hide it. His quick thinking caused him to drop it into a mortar and crush it like he was mixing an ointment. Might as well have his older brother thinking he was working, too.
Siegfried eyed his younger brother as he stepped in, then he walked across the room to put his medical bag on a counter. "Nigel, leave that for a moment," he said.
Tris rolled his eyes at the name and set the mortar down.
"Now, today is market day, right?" Siegfried continued, opening his bag.
"Right," Tristan answered.
"All the bills went out on Wednesday, and everyone will be queuing up shortly to give us their money. I want you to devote the entire day to taking it from them. All right?" he walked over to his little brother to look him in the eye and make sure he was paying attention.
"Right," Tris stood up straight and nodded.
Siegfried barely gave him the time to say that. "You take the money, you give them a receipt. Then you write their names down in the receipt book. Do you think you can manage that without making a bloody hash of it?"
"I think I might just be able to cope," Tristan answered with a hint of sarcasm.
"Then get on with it," Siegfried nodded in the direction of his desk. "You'll find the receipt book over there." He then busily went to go back to his bag, then stopped as if he just remembered something. "Er…" He turned to grab a bottle off a shelf by James.
"Morning," James said to him as he capped off his bottle of solution.
"Morning, James," Siegfried replied.
"Bit of a late night, then?" James asked.
"Er, you could say that," he answered, a bit preoccupied with collecting the things he needed. "Yes, I got to bed just before dawn. Thanks largely to you, I might add." He carried the bottle back to his bag to refill one of the smaller bottles he kept with him.
"Me?" James eyed him.
"One of Whiteley's cows had a mild impaction," Siegfried answered as he poured carefully. "He's been messing about with it himself for weeks. Then, suddenly at four o'clock in the morning, he decides to call us in."
"I'm afraid I can't see the connection," James told him. "Why, I haven't been near the Whiteley's for weeks."
"But you were there last," Siegfried capped the bottle again. "That's when the damage was done, wasn't it? When I pointed out what time it was, he came back at me by saying that you said we would turn out at any time of the day or night." He repacked his bag, his movements slightly exaggerated as he spoke.
"I understood that that was our policy, Siegfried," James said a bit defensively.
"All I'm saying, James, is that you're… you're spoiling these chaps." Siegfried walked across the room to get at other supplies.
James stood to follow him. "If I didn't turn out, I'd be worried sick in case the animal died on me," he protested, hands in his pockets.
"Well, let it die, my dear boy," Siegfried told him. "Perhaps they'll call us in a little bit earlier. There's nothing like a dead animal for bringing people to their senses." He closed his bag again and walked to the door to be off.
James just sighed. "I'll try and remember that, Siegfried."
Siegfried passed their housekeeper on the way out the door. "Morning," she said to him.
"Hi, Mrs. Hall," he responded, and then he was off, a busy schedule ahead of him.
Mrs. Hall walked over to James and held out a brown paper package.
"For me?" James asked as he took it.
"Well, it's got your name on it," she answered, as if he should have known, and turned to go again.
"It's not your birthday, is it lad?" Tristan asked him, peering at the package curiously.
"Not that I'm aware of, no," James answered with a smirk and began to open it. "Oh-ho!" He turned a jar over in his hands, then grinned at Tris. "Stilton, my very favourite."
"Ah," Tris watched him. "A certain good lady of this parish was on the telephone yesterday, inquiring after your gastronomic inclinations."
"Oh?" James asked as he found a card in with the packaging.
"She said her dog wanted to know," Tris continued with a smirk. As James began to read, the young Farnon stood as if he had to put something away and went behind James to peer over his shoulder at the note. He slowly grinned as he read it. The note was from Mrs. Pumphrey, a rich, older lady who owned a Pekingese named Tricki-Woo. Whenever a vet was sent to take care of her dog and they impressed her, she would write notes as Tricki and send them out with a gift attached. "Now isn't that sweet?" he asked, his voice thick with amusement.
"Do you mind?" James gave him an exasperated look over his shoulder.
"Who the hell's Bonzo Fotheringham?" Tris chuckled, watching James quickly gathering the cheese and the packaging to put away.
"Well, if you must know," James answered as he opened the door to get out in the hall, "He's a lonely Dalmatian, Tricki's pen friend."
Tristan shook his head. The things that woman did for her dog.
After the day went on and it was almost evening, Tris was coming down the stairs from his room when he heard James on the phone. He paused to listen.
"Hello, Tricki. Uncle Herriot here," James spoke, his voice a touch exaggerated. "I just wanted to say thank you very much for the cheese. It was very sweet of you."
Tristan smirked and leaned against the bannister in amusement.
"Well, I have to be going now," James continued. "So don't forget, less sweet biscuits and more protein. There's a good dog. Bye." He hung up, then turned to see Tristan grinning down at him like an idiot. He immediately looked away bashfully. "I… She put the dog on," he said in explanation, "What else could I do?"
"Right," Tristan laughed. "Well, 'Uncle Herriot', have you seen Siegfried around?"
"Not recently, no," James answered, sighing at the teasing. "Why?"
"No reason," Tris shrugged. "I'm going to be heading out for the night, that's all." He wanted to get out before his brother could task him with some ridiculous chore. "If he asks, tell him I said not to worry about it, alright?"
James nodded. "I'll tell him if I see him."
"Thank you," Tris smiled and hummed to himself as he went out the door.
James had one more call to make before the day was officially over, and it was the unfortunate business of putting a suffering animal to rest. It didn't take long, but it did leave him feeling a bit down afterwards, as always. He was more than ready to sit down with a drink.
When he walked into the home, though, he saw one of Siegfried's lady friends waiting by the door. He tried to make small talk, but he wasn't very good around women.
The door opened and in walked the oldest Farnon in his finest suit and tails. "Ah, hello James," he greeted.
"Hello," James nodded to him.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Diana," Siegfried turned towards his girl with a smile. "I'm sure James has been entertaining you."
"It's been riveting," she answered as she took his hands. The sarcasm was lost on him.
"Ah! Good. Now, I wanted a word with James. I wonder if you'd wait for me in the car."
"Oh, very well," Diana sighed and allowed Siegfried to escort her to the door.
"Bye!" James waved as she went, feeling a tad bit awkward.
Siegfried took the opportunity as he led her out to reach down and give her a little squeeze. Then he turned back to James when she was out. "Ah… James, you're on call this evening, aren't you?"
"Yes," James confirmed.
"Yes, well, I shouldn't be late." Siegfried pulled out a chair and sat down. "There was just one thing that came up while you were out. Old Sumner rang and said he'd telephoned the other night. Said you refused to turn out because it was the middle of the night. Is that right?"
"Yes," James said again with a nod.
"It's not like you, that," Siegfried said with a concerned frown. "He's a good client, I wouldn't want to lose him."
"Oh, it was only a chronic mastitis," James told him, putting his hands in his pockets as he walked to the fireplace. "I thought it was perfectly safe to leave it for the following day.
"My dear James," Siegfried spoke up.
"Hmm?" James looked to him.
"The fundamental rule of our profession. Day or night, rain or shine, if asked to attend we must attend," he told him with the air of long suffering. "The animal might die."
James raised a brow, remembering their conversation earlier, which was the only reason he had made the decision that he did. "Would that be such a bad thing?"
"What?" Siegfried looked at him like he couldn't believe what he just heard.
"Remember what you said?" James asked. " 'There is nothing like a dead animal for bringing them to their senses.' "
"I said that?" Siegfried asked incredulously.
"Yes!" James nodded.
"What absolute nonsense!"
James gestured. "Siegfried, you were standing right-!"
"James, I don't want to hear any more about it!" Siegfried told him, standing. "Now, from now on, write it in letters of fire across your soul." He leaned across the couch to grip James' arms excitedly. "If asked to attend, I must attend. I must attend." Then he walked for the door, not wanting to keep Diana waiting any longer.
James took a deep breath and mimicked the 'I must attend' mockingly. Both the Farnon's could be very frustrating when they wanted to be. Now he was starting to see why Tristan never took anything his older brother said seriously.
That evening found Tristan at his favorite pub with a lady friend, both of them drunk and giddy. He was having a good enough time in there, but his drunk mind wanted to impress her with a great joke. "Come on," he said abruptly, standing from their table. He took her hand to pull her up as well.
"Where are you going?" the young lady asked.
"You'll see," Tris grinned and downed the rest of his drink.
"Just a minute," she said, following suit.
They set their empty glasses down and Tris told her to come on again, then they left the pub in a hurry. He led her into a phone booth and dropped a coin in, then dialed. As he waited for the party on the other end to pick up, he leaned over and kissed her.
She grinned. "What are you doing?"
"Hello, yes?" he heard James' voice on the line.
"Oh, is that Farnon's?" Tristan asked in a deep voice, imitating a thick Yorkshire accent. "I want to speak with Mister Farnon, please."
"I'm afraid Mister Farnon isn't in," James replied. "Can I help?"
"Oh, I'd rather have your boss," Tristan continued, "But I suppose tha'll have to do. This is Simms here, of Beale Close."
"Tha knows my place, does tha?"
"That's the one with the nine different gates, isn't it?" James asked.
"Aye, that's the one," Tristan nodded seriously, trying to stay in character. "And make sure tha close all of them after thee this time." Then he grinned, unable to stop himself, but he managed not to laugh, though his girl was starting to giggle.
After a pause, James asked, "What exactly is the trouble, Mister Simms?"
"Well I'll tell you what the trouble is. I've got this great big horse and daft bugger's gone and cut himself," Tristan answered, then had to cover the receiver while they both laughed a bit.
"I see," James nodded, thinking it was serious. "And where exactly has he cut himself?"
"Oh, on his hind leg, just above his hock. I want him stitched straight away."
"And, er, how big is the wound?"
"Ooooh, about a foot and a half long, and bleeding like hell!" The lady with him started laughing again but he continued speaking without covering it this time. "When you're stitching him, you'd better watch it. He can kick a fly's eye out." His voice wavered out of the accent for a second as he tried not to laugh. "Blacksmith's scared to death of him."
"Right," James frowned. Something seemed off, but if the animal needed him then he had to go. "Well if you have a couple of chaps standing by, Mister Simms, in case we have to throw him…"
"Throw him?" Tris made his voice incredulous, "You'll never throw this fella, he'll kill you first! And anyroad, I've no men here this time of night. You'll just have to manage on your own."
That did not sound pleasant at all. "I see," James said, "I'll get there as, um, quickly as I can, Mister Simms." He was about to hang up, but the voice continued.
"Oooh, you've heard about the road, have you?"
"Road?" James asked, worried.
"Road up to my place," Tristan said. "Got washed away in the floods the other night. You'll have to walk the last mile and a half on foot." At that point they both lost it and started laughing. Tris tried to cover the receiver as best he could.
"Hello?" James frowned.
Tris recovered for a moment. "And get a move on, will you? I don't want to keep him waiting all night!"
"I'm not sure I like your tone, Mister Simms!"
"Oooh, tha doesn't like my tone, doesn't tha? I'll tell you what I don't like. What I don't like is useless young apprentices buggering about with me stock! Tha knows nowt about tha job!" They both started laughing again, and Tris nearly dropped the phone.
"You can't talk to me like that!" James said indignantly, "Who the hell do you think you are, anyway? Mister Simms, you can take it from me that if it wasn't for that poor animal, I wouldn't be coming out at all. Mister Simms-" he paused when he heard the hysterical laughter on the other end. "Are you there, Mister Simms? Hello?"
Tristan gasped for breath as he finally dropped the accent. "You really should take it easy or you'll burst a blood vessel!" he laughed, his arm around his girl as they both slowly sunk to the floor, unable to breathe from laughing too hard.
"Tristan?" It finally dawned on James. "Tristan, is that you?" The laughter only got louder. James sighed. "One of these… Tristan, have you got someone there with you?" The fact that he had been embarrassed in front of a lady made it worse. "Now you listen to me! One of these days I'm going to murder you!" James huffed angrily and hung up.
Just as he did so the older Farnon returned from his night out.
"I'll probably kill him!" James grumbled aloud.
"What?" Siegfried laughed, closing the door behind him. He walked towards James with an amused expression on his face.
"If he's found strangled one of these mornings, you can put me down as prime suspect," James told him.
"Who's that?" Siegfried smirked.
"Your batty brother," James scowled.
"Oh, him!" Siegfried chuckled, "Just a boy, James, full of youthful high spirits." He wasn't sure what his brother did, but it couldn't have been that bad. "You must learn to take these things in your stride, James." He walked into the parlour and immediately went to pour himself and James a drink.
"Really?" James asked, going to the couch.
"Professional men all over the country worry themselves into early graves, and do you know why? Because they allow themselves to get all steamed up over little piffling things!" He set the bottle back in place and picked up their cups. "You should ask yourself, James, is it worth it? It'll all be the same, you know, in a hundred years' time." He walked over to James and offered a glass.
"Thank you," James said as he took it, an exasperated look on his face.
"Any messages?" Siegfried asked him.
James thought, then his face brightened slightly. "Just the one."
"Ah-ha," Siegfried sat down to enjoy his drink.
"Ned Holt wanted you," James told him.
"Ah! Dear old Ned!" Siegfried pulled at his bowtie to take it off as he relaxed. "Probably my very favourite customer. Looked after his herd for years. And do you know how much I've charged him?" he asked James.
"No," James answered.
"Not one red cent," Siegfried grinned. "Far too nice a fellow." He went to take a sip. "About the cow, was it?"
"Yes," James nodded. "He told me to tell you that she was fine now."
"Yes, I thought she probably would be," Siegfried commented. "There's a current timpani, you know? Nothing seems to do her any good, and then, quite suddenly, it struck me."
"Oh, yes?" James cocked his head to the side.
"Of course. Actinobacillosis of the reticulum," Siegfried said proudly.
"Ah," James nodded.
"So I shot some sodium iodide into her," Siegfried continued, "And there you are, you see." He scratched his head, then glanced back at James. "He says she's alright, does he?"
"Yes," James confirmed. "Though he thought she would be by tonight. He said that he gave her half a pound of Epsom salts in her bran mash."
Siegfried paused as he processed this, then sat up straight. "He said what?"
"Half a pound of Epsom salts in her bran mash," James repeated, then finished his drink.
"The bugger!" Siegfried exclaimed, "I'll strangle him!"
"Yes, I thought you might," James smirked to himself, watching Siegfried get to his feet and storm to the phone. Then he hovered by the doorway to listen in on the conversation.
"Yeah," Siegfried said into the receiver, "Get me 203."
"Still, Siegfried, like you said," James spoke with amusement, "No point getting into a state about these things. After all, it'll all still be here in a hundred years."
Siegfried threw him a look, then turned his attention back to the phone. "I want to speak to Ned Holt." He scowled as he listened. "Well, get the bugger out of bed!"
James walked over to Siegfried's unfinished glass and added the contents to his own, laughing to himself.
The next day James came into the surgery to restock his bag when he saw Tristan crouched down, searching all the drawers and cupboards. He gave him a curious look and began putting things in his bag.
Tristan sighed heavily and brushed his hair back. "James, something terrible's happened."
"You've been sacked?" James looked at him and smirked. "No, you're just trying to cheer me up."
"It's not funny," Tristan sulked. "I've lost it. I can't find it anywhere."
"What?" James asked.
"The receipt book," Tristan explained as he stood up and put his hands in his pockets nervously. "The one I was listing the bills in yesterday. Without it I have no blind idea who paid what and who didn't."
"Oh, it must be somewhere," James scoffed.
"No!" Tristan shook his head. "It's gone, I've been searching for hours."
James couldn't help chuckling. After the prank Tris pulled last night, he didn't feel bad for him one bit. "Oh, dear," he grinned.
"Look, it's no joke, James," Tristan looked at him, "You know what this means, don't you?"
"Yes," James nodded and closed his bag. "It means I'm not going to have to be the one to murder you after all. Siegfried will do the job for me."
Tristan grimaced a little at that. He didn't want to think about what his brother would do. "It means all the people who paid their bills yesterday are going to get them again next month. Then there'll be hell to pay."
"I believe there is a job going on at the Leewood Islands," James told him facetiously.
"Well at least help me look for it!" Tristan complained.
"I'm afraid I can't," James shook his head. "I've got an appointment with Tricki-woo. It seems he's gone crack-a-dog."
"Crack-a-dog?" Tristan asked in confusion.
"According to Mrs. Pumphrey," James nodded.
"What the hell's crack-a-dog?"
"Do you know, I can't wait to find out," James smirked, passing him to go out the door, then he paused when he heard something. "Ah, that sounds like Siegfried now." He couldn't help rubbing it in. "Break it to him gently, eh, about the receipt book?" He gave Tris a pat on the arm and went out the door. "Morning Siegfried!"
"Morning, James," Siegfried replied as he came in just after the younger man left. "Hello, little brother."
Tristan gave him a nervous smile as he passed.
"Now then…" Siegfried reached for something on one of the shelves.
"Siegfried?" Tristan spoke up.
"You won't believe this, but the damnedest thing's happened." Tristan chuckled a bit, trying to keep positive.
"Oh?" Siegfried immediately turned towards him, the jar he had been reaching for in hand.
Tristan swallowed. "You know that receipt book that you told me to look after?" he asked, taking a step back.
Siegfried's look turned dark. "What have you done with it?" he growled, "Don't tell me that you forgot to write anyone down."
"No, nothing like that," Tristan told him. "I made sure to write down all the names and what they were paying. It was very nicely done too, I might add."
"Then what's the problem?" Siegfried frowned.
"I, er, seem to have lost it," Tristan answered, averting his eyes as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"Lost? What do you mean, lost?" Siegfried gave him a look. "You mean you just don't feel like looking for it?"
"I've been looking for hours!" Tristan said indignantly. "I looked everywhere! I don't know what happened to it!"
"You irresponsible wretch!" Siegfried set the jar down and made a grab for his younger brother. "How could you lose it?!"
"It's not as if I meant to!" Tristan protested, caught between the counter and his brother. "These things happen!"
"Yes they do," Siegfried pulled him closer. "Only they happen around you at an alarming rate. Didn't you tell me that you understood me when I told you how important that the receipt book was?"
"Well, I did! But-"
"If you thoroughly understood then you would have been especially careful with it," Siegfried scolded, gripping his arm tightly. "Do you know what this means?"
"That if I don't find it, everyone will get billed again at the end of the month," Tristan muttered, keeping his eyes down. "Well I've been looking."
"Looking isn't good enough," Siegfried grabbed his collar and yanked him towards the hallway. "I am going to teach you responsibility if I have to beat you witless."
"How is this going to help?!" Tristan tried to pull away, but his brother had his collar tightly. "It's just going to waste the time I could be looking for it!"
"That's enough out of you," Siegfried gave him a warning look. "If you had done what you were supposed to then we wouldn't be having to look at all." He dragged his brother out of the clinic and into the parlour, closing the door behind them. Then he clicked the lock and pushed Tristan towards a couch. While Tristan tried to catch his step, Siegfried sat down and yanked him over his lap, then tugged his trousers down.
"What?" Tristan paled when he realized what his brother was doing and he reached back to hold his pants in place. "But, Siegfried-!"
"Move your hands. Now," Siegfried growled.
"But there's more than one door in here!" Tristan complained, "And lots of windows! What if-"
"The curtains are down, James is out, and Mrs. Hall will know not to come in here when she hears you," Siegfried shut him down. "Now are you going to do as I say or not?"
Tris groaned and opened his mouth to speak, then thought better of it. With a grumble, he let go and gripped the edge of the couch instead.
Siegfried moved his trousers down to rest just below his bottom, then gripped Tristan's shirt right behind his neck at his shoulder blades to keep him down. Then, with his free hand, he began whaling down on his backside heavily.
"Ah!" Tristan's voice cracked. "You don't have to hit me so hard!" He tried backing off his lap, but Siegfried held him in place. If he could somehow get out of there and to his room, his older brother would forget all about it in just a few hours.
"Oh, but I do, because nothing else gets through your thick hide!" Siegfried gave him a couple hits to his sit spots for even trying to suggest such a ridiculous thing.
Tristan whined and kicked his legs on reflex. "Oh come on, that's not true!"
"It is true and you know it, now shut up before you get in worse trouble," Siegfried ordered him.
Tristan hung his head and grit his teeth, trying hard to wait it out. His brother usually only went until his burst of temper burned out… Hopefully before his butt did.
After fifteen swats he lost his resolve. "Siegfried, let me up!" he complained, pushing as hard as he could.
"Damn it, stay still!" Siegfried scolded him, pushing down on his back. "I'll let you up when I'm through!"
"Oow! But it hurts!" Tristan yelped. "Siegfried, please!"
"No!" Siegfried smacked his thigh, making him fall back into place.
Tristan twisted and his breath hitched in his throat as he continued to beg, but Siegfried ignored him.
He only gave him around twenty more swats before he was done. His hand stung and he was sure Tristan had gotten the message. "All right, that should do it," Siegfried sighed with a nod and shook his hand out. Then he pulled Tristan's pants up for him, lifting him up off his lap as he did so.
Tristan winced as the trousers put pressure on his backside and he quickly wiped his eyes. Then he turned to give Siegfried a sulking glare, rubbing the sting out.
"Don't look at me like that," Siegfried told him. "I hope you've learned something from this." He pat his brother's shoulder. "Now, we are going to look for the book together, I'm sure between the two of us we'll be able to find it."
Tristan sighed and rolled his eyes. They could have easily done that without him ending up in pain.
By evening they had searched every downstairs room and the book still hadn't turned up. Siegfried sighed and called his brother back to the parlour to sit at the table with him. He was nice enough to give his brother a cushioned chair. As Tristan sat with a bit of a wince, he set a filing book between them. "We'll just have to try and figure out as best we can who paid what." He sat across from Tristan.
Tristan squirmed. "That could take forever… and we still might not get them all."
"Well, it's better than nothing," Siegfried sighed.
They spent a couple hours working on it, during which James walked in with a package and sat on the couch.
"That should do," Siegfried mumbled to Tristan, "Now, on the twenty fourth there's something… Mean anything to you?"
"No," Tristan groaned. He was bored out of his mind by now.
"Would you like one?" James leaned back, offering a cigar box.
"Hmm?" Siegfried looked over and took it, "Oh! Yes, thank you."
His brother held the box out to him first, so Tristan stretched his back and chose a cigar, then Siegfried grabbed one for himself. Then they both turned to James and asked at the same time. "Tricki-woo?"
James laughed. "Yes!"
They both chuckled.
"Well, I hope you remembered to thank him," Tristan smirked and leaned back.
"Yes, I'll give Mrs. Pumphrey a ring," James nodded.
Siegfried stood up. "You know, my last assistant did even better than you out of that dog," he commented, going for something to clip the end.
"Oh, yes," Siegfried confirmed. "I mean, boxes of kippers for the post every time Tricki went to the seaside."
"Hampers from Fortnum's at Christmas," Tris chimed in as he handed the box back to James.
Siegfried tossed the clipper to his brother. "But then of course, he was rather better organized than you are."
"Oh?" James asked.
"I mean, he'd… he'd never telephone to say thank you," Siegfried went on, a bit distracted by lighting his cigar. "He used to write to the dog personally."
James laughed. "Really?"
"Yeah," Siegfried grinned. "Amazing isn't it, the lengths to which some people will go." He sat next to James on the couch. Tristan opted to stand.
"Isn't it though?" James chuckled.
Siegfried and Tristan exchanged knowing looks.
Tristan followed James out of the barn where they had just struggled with a cow. They were both shirtless and a bit bloody, and both exhausted.
"Are you all right?" James asked him, wiping his hands off on a cloth.
"Shattered," Tristan complained, sitting on a stone wall by a bucket of water that had been set out for them. "Like I've been run over by a steamroller." He took the cloth to wipe his hands off first.
"I'm not surprised," James commented as he dunked his hands in. "One of the hardest jobs in country practice, putting a cow's calf bed back into her. Like trying to fill a needle with a sausage."
"You can say that again," Tris wiped his arms, then looked down at himself. "You know, I'm sure this sort of thing isn't good for me."
"It's a great feeling, somehow," James commented, scrubbing his arms with a bar of soap.
"What?" Tristan asked him like he was insane.
"That blissful moment when the whole thing suddenly slips back inside," James explained, "And you know you've finally managed it."
Tristan scoffed. "I see nothing remotely poetic in watching a cow's engorged uterus disappearing."
James laughed at that.
"Anyway, you know why he sent me on this job with you in the first place, don't you?" Tristan finally started to wash up. "Revenge for losing that bloody receipt book!"
James smirked slightly. "I thought he already… took care of that." He was trying to put it politely.
Tristan averted his eyes. "Yes, well…" He squirmed a bit. "He's probably going to be giving me that bad jobs for a week. He does that when he's cross."
"Oh, well. It's all over now," James told him.
They finished cleaning up and redressed themselves.
"Let's just hope it doesn't come out again," James said as they walked to the car.
Tristan looked at him with concern. "Do you think there's a chance it might?"
"Oh, yes!" James said, changing his boots for his shoes. "Happens quite often."
Tristan set his shoes down to slip on, but then he paused and frowned. "But I'm on duty this afternoon. On my own!"
"Oh, well, we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed for you, won't we?" James smirked and got in.
Tristan threw his boots in the back and sat down in the car, the concern never leaving his face.
James had one more trip to make that afternoon while Tristan stayed in in case of an emergency. When he got back, he decided to stop off at a call box before going inside. He did have the change for it. He dialed the number and waited.
"Hello, yes?" Tristan's voice spoke on the other side of the line.
James pinched his nose to make his voice unrecognizable. "Is that Farnon's?"
"Yes," Tristan answered.
"Are you the young fella that's put our cow's calf bed back this morning?"
"That's right," Tristan frowned some.
"Oh, well I've got some very bad news for you." James tried not to laugh as he described the made up condition.
"Oh, really?" Tristan asked in disbelief, "It's all come out?"
"Aye, it has," James confirmed.
"Oh, no," Tristan groaned, "Sh- surely it's not all come out!" He really did not want to go back and try to put it right by himself. But, if he didn't go when the call was made then his brother would just kill him again, and he didn't want that. With a sigh, he hung up and prepared himself for the trip out.
Tristan was with Siegfried in the surgery, helping him stitch up a rabbit by holding the poor animal still.
"That's it. Scissors please, Tris," Siegfried requested, his voice barely audible as he concentrated.
Tristan moved to go, but he had to wait for Siegfried to grab it's scruff first. Then he went over to a desk to grab them off the top.
James walked in and held them up for him before he got there.
Tristan grabbed them and gave James a look. "I'll get even with you, just watch it," he told him before going back over to the examination table.
James smirked, then he heard a knock at the clinic door so he went to answer it, seeing as the other two were busy. "Mrs. Pumphrey, hello!" he grinned when he saw who it was.
"Hello," she greeted him and waved to the other two men.
"Good morning, Mrs. Pumphrey," Siegfried called out cheerfully.
"Tricki-woo asked me to call in to thank you for your letter," the lady told James.
Siegfried and Tristan looked at each other and the older Farnon gave his younger brother a wink.
"Oh that?" James smiled, "Not at all. Thank you for the cigars."
"Just one thing," Mrs. Pumphrey said to him, "Next time you write to him… Well, you know you addressed your letter to 'Mr. Tricki'?"
"Yes?" James glanced back to Tristan and Siegfried, hoping they weren't listening in.
"Well I'm afraid he does insist on 'Tricki-woo, Esquire," she smiled.
At that point the two Farnons were trying very hard not to laugh.
"At first he was terribly affronted," Mrs. Pumphrey went on, "But when he found out it was from Uncle Herriot, he soon recovered his temper.
"Oh, good," James smiled. Now he just wanted to get her out of there as soon as he could, but still politely. He knew the other two would never let him hear the end of this.
"I can't think why he should have these little prejudices. Do you think it's because he's an only dog?" Mrs. Pumphrey asked seriously.
"Well yes!" James nodded, "I suppose that could well be it, yes."
"Yes," she nodded back at him. "I was…" She paused and glanced back at the other two, then waved her hand. "Oh well, goodbye for now." She waved to him and to the Farnons.
"Goodbye, Mrs. Pumphrey," they called after her, and James shut the door.
As soon as she was out, Siegfried and Tristan burst into laughter, Siegfried laughing so hard that he snorted.
James looked back and forth between the two in embarrassment, then quickly left.
Siegfried slowly shook his head and caught his breath. He still had a rabbit to finish stitching up, so he had to get himself and his brother back under control. "Alright, Tristan, enough of that. Let's get back to work, shall we?"