Frodo is 46, Sam is 35, Merry is 33, and Pippin is 25. ( The equivalent of 30, 23, 21 and 16 in Man years.)
The Life of a Bard
“Thunder!” Pippin’s face had gone from surprised delight on receiving a letter from Buckland, to a sullen scowl.
“What’s the matter, Pippin?” Eglantine ignored the mild oath. She was aware her son had far worse ones in his vocabulary and was glad he’d not used any of them.
“Merry’s had to put off coming. Again,” he said flatly. He jumped up and stomped out of the family’s private dining room, leaving his third helping of second breakfast half finished on his plate.
Tweens! Eglantine sighed and shook her head, glancing at her two youngest daughters, who had not even noticed his outburst. Pervinca was moodily picking at her food; she’d been moping and cranky all week. Pimpernel was doing the same thing, but smiling at nothing, and wearing the same dreamy, distracted look she’d worn ever since she and Milo Goodbody had announced their betrothal last week. She might be of age now, but she certainly wasn’t behaving that way. Thank goodness Pearl was grown and married! She was glad that Paladin was taking second breakfast in his study. He would have had sharp words for Pippin’s poor manners this morning.
Pippin flopped himself across his bed in a temper. Bother Merry! No, he thought guiltily, not Merry--it wasn’t poor Merry’s fault. But botheration, anyway! He looked at the letter again:
I wouldn’t blame you a bit if you wanted to wring my neck! It’s going to be at least two more weeks, maybe three, before I can get away from this bloody blasted, stupid ferry!
The ferry itself doesn’t need nearly so much work as the docks on both sides. Refurbish? They are pretty much having to be rebuilt from scratch! Between the extra wet winter, and that late freeze we had, they are practically falling apart.
So you can see that this is a lot more work than we thought it would be when Da asked me to see to it. He asked if I wanted someone else to take it over, but you know I’ll have to see it through.
I’m really sorry, Pip! Please don’t be too angry about it. We’ll get together as soon as we can. I miss you! Don’t get into too much trouble without me!
Pippin heaved a sigh. Poor Merry! Ever since he’d come of age a few months ago, Uncle Saradoc had kept him busy with one thing and then another. He sighed again. Why, because of this Bucklebury Ferry project, Merry had even had to shorten his annual spring visit to Bag End. Pippin had stayed on with Frodo for a while, but it just wasn’t the same without Merry there. Not that Frodo was ever boring, but he did seem to spend a lot of time with his books, leaving Pippin to his own devices.
He rolled over and reached under the bed for his fiddle in its case, and took it out. He began to play a mournful song to go along with his bleak mood.
Menelcar strode across the fields heading in the general direction of what he had been told was the heart of the Shire. He paused briefly to shift his pack, and check the covering on his harp. He was glad to have finally made his way here, after hearing all those songs that were attributed to a halfling--or hobbit--as the Men of Dale had called him.
In the countryside, the little folk were shy, hiding quickly and silently from him, so that only the sight of their habitations let him know that they must be there. But so far, in the villages and towns they had been only too pleased to let him sing in the inns for a meal, some ale, and a bit of weed for his pipe--a habit he had picked up in Erebor among the Dwarves.
He picked up his pace, and began to whistle. Life was good. Here he was in this pleasant little land, seeing the pheriannath, creatures that were only a myth in the land of his birth, free as a bird to sing for his supper. The grim city of Minas Tirith had been no place for a lad who loved music, song and laughter, and had absolutely no talent for weapons. His lack of skill with a sword or a bow had brought him nothing but scorn from the other boys, and he knew he was a disappointment to his family as well. It had been an easy decision to take up with a wandering minstrel as his apprentice all those years ago.
Now, after nearly twenty-five years of wandering, he couldn’t imagine another life.
Well, the innkeeper at The Oak and Thorn in Pincup had told him he might find a warm welcome at The Leaping Hare in Tuckborough, so there he was headed for tonight.
Pippin was in a bit better mood after lunch. He had coaxed Vinca into a game of draughts, and even managed to make her giggle a bit. She’d been all droopy and gloomy ever since Pimmie had announced her betrothal. Vinca was convinced she’d never find “true love”. As if she didn’t already have a whole gaggle of would be suitors sniffing round her skirts! But none of them pleased her so far.
Pip had been trying to cheer her up. Yesterday in town he had spent all of his pocket money on a handful of brightly colored hair ribbons for her. It had seemed to make her happy, but in a soppy, weepy kind of way that Pippin could not understand. Sisters could be such a bother sometimes!
And now, of course, when he was of a notion to go down to The Bouncing Bunny ( or The Leaping Hare, as it was officially known ) for a half of ale and a bit of company, he was completely out of pocket.
But maybe, he hoped, he could coax a few coppers out of his mother.
“What do you need the money for, Pippin?” asked Eglantine. She had been aware of his generosity to his sister, and was inclined to oblige him, but not until she knew what he wanted it for.
“Oh, I thought I’d go to The Bunny for a half, this evening,” he said nonchalantly, as though it were something he did all the time.
“Who is going with you?”
“Just me. I mean, Merry’s not here, is he?”
“You’ve other cousins besides Merry.”
Pippin unwisely rolled his eyes, showing his opinion of his other cousins. They were all very well, and it wasn’t that he didn’t like them, but they had their own friendships; Pippin had never really bothered to get close to most of them. He remembered all too well how disastrous his attempt to make friends with his Banks cousins had turned out. And he had always had Merry.
“I don’t think it would be a good idea for you to go there alone,” his mother said.
“Mother, you know I won’t have more than a half! And I’m twenty-five now! I’m allowed to go alone!”
“What’s allowed and what’s wise are two different things, son.”
“Mooother!” he wheedled.
“Do not argue with your mother, young hobbit!”
Pippin turned to see his father standing at the door to the family sitting room, giving him a look of stern disapproval. Well, that’s that, then.
He slouched angrily out of the room. There were other ways.
Back in his room, he took out his fiddle case and slipped through the window. For a bit of a tune someone at The Bunny would stand him a half!
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