"Hello Mrs. Tanner. How are you this sunny afternoon."
The possum-morph looked up from her crotchet.
"Gabrielle," the Tanner widow replied, happy to see a friend. "It is nice to see you this day . Where's the little Frederick Masterson?"
Gabrielle looked off into the distance where little bodies raced back and forth across the field.
"He couldn't wait for his slowpoke mother to keep up with him," she said as she sat down, pulling out her cross stitching and taking out a needle. "He's getting older and has more energy than ever."
"It never changes, Gabby. The young will always have more energy than the adults, but they still get tuckered out as ever as the evening comes along."
"Well, I'm happy that he can stay tuckered out all night long," Gabrielle said, measuring her thread. "Waking up in the dead of night starts to tucker me out after a bit, too. Of course, trying to keep up with little Freddy nowadays does the same."
Marylyn Tanner laughed richly as she said, "Boys will be boys," she gestured out to the field, "Right now the little ones are playing a game of tagball, or so they call it."
Gabrielle looked up from her first few stitches, and almost half rose to her feet in fright.
"By God, little Freddy," she exclaimed, paling.
"Whatever's the matter, Gabby," Marylyn said, placing a gentle reassuring, yet restraining, hand on her friend's shoulder.
"There's a wolf among the kids as if among a flock of sheep!"
Marylyn chuckled, "You may want to look at who is chasing whom, my dear."
Indeed, as Gabrielle watched, she saw that the boys were chasing the canine, though not quite succeeding in catching the four-legged participant.
The widow Tanner leaned back and looped another needle, "That would be a new resident, calls himself Drake."
Gabrielle leaned back, and took a calming breath, as Marylyn continued, "He showed up several days ago, thinking that the kids were unsupervised. We talked, and, minutes later, as young ones do near a dog, they started running up and saying how cute he was and if they could take it home. And he had such a scared look on his face like they were going to put a lead and collar on him any second," Mrs. Tanner wiped a tear from her eye as they both laughed at the wolf's embarrassment.
"Well, after Mr. Drake persuaded the young ones that he was actually not a pet, they started playing. He's shown up each day since."
Gabrielle inquired, "So what are they playing now?"
"Well, Mr. Drake came here bright and early, after most of the boys had shown, carrying a ball of rags, that one he has in his mouth there," she pointed to the field where the wolf was dashing in and out of flailing bodies, ears flattened to his head and grinning around a huge lump of rawhide. One of the kids managed to throw his body into the wolf, who slide to the ground, feet up in the air. "First he wanted to play something called 'kickball,' but the boys wouldn't have any of it. They just wanted the ball. And so they started rough and tumbling around, and have been doing so ever since this morning."
The boy who knocked the wolf down ran and picked up the ball, the mounted the wolf, who was about the size of a pony, as one would a horse. As soon as the boy settled, he held the rag for all the world to see, gave a jubilant cry, and the wolf was off, charging and into the midst of all the kids again, with those they passed in hot pursuit.
"Is that my Freddy on his back?" Gabrielle asked worryingly, "Could he get hurt?"
"Possibly," said an unconcerned Tanner, not even bothering to look up from her knitting, "but, surprisingly, no one has picked up so much as a scratch or bruise since Mr. Drake's been here. Which is odd, since I usually get, at the very least, three or for young one's crying to me a day."
Gabrielle watched as her son and his mount were knocked to the ground, and then the wolf pick up the ball and run off again, with her son again one of the pursuers.
"Why does he do this, anyway?" she asked.
Marylyn shrugged, and, with a creeping smile, replied, "As I said, 'boys will be boys.'"