Feature The Life of a Bard by Dreamflower

Story Notes:

Frodo is 46, Sam is 35, Merry is 33, and Pippin is 25. ( The equivalent of 30, 23, 21 and 16 in Man years.)

1. Chapter 1 by Dreamflower

2. Chapter 2 by Dreamflower

3. Chapter 3 by Dreamflower

4. Chapter 4 by Dreamflower

5. Chapter 5 by Dreamflower

6. Chapter 6 by Dreamflower

7. Chapter 7 by Dreamflower

8. Chapter 8 by Dreamflower

9. Chapter 9 by Dreamflower

10. Chapter 10 by Dreamflower

11. Chapter 11 by Dreamflower

12. Chapter 12 by Dreamflower

Chapter 1 by Dreamflower

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:

Dear Pip,

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!

Love,

Merry

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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Chapter 2 by Dreamflower

The evening was still early when Pippin made his way into the public room of The Leaping Hare. There were not yet many customers, which was fine with Pippin as he wanted a word with the innkeeper Dodd Brockhouse before the crowds started. It was only a Hensday, so there wouldn’t be that big of a crowd anyway. Less chance of it coming to his father’s ears that way.

“Master Dodd,” said Pippin to the innkeeper, who was stocking the bar and preparing for a moderately busy evening.

“Hullo, Mr. Pippin,” was the affable reply. He would have been affable anyway to the son of the Thain, it was only prudent, but the truth was that he liked Pippin. He had come in frequently over the years since he entered his tweens, in company with his older cousins, and about twice on his own, now that he had turned twenty-five and was allowed to buy his own half. He could always be counted on for a song or tale, and maybe a bit of dancing on the tables, but he never took advantage of his rank, and he never tried to get more than the half that was all that was allowed to tweenagers. Dodd thought him a good-hearted lad, and believed that one day he’d make a fine Thain. “What’s that you have with you, Mr. Pippin?”

Pippin blushed. This was the first time he’d tried this. “It’s my fiddle, Master Dodd. I’m a bit short of coin this evening, and I wondered if maybe I could play a few tunes for my half tonight?”

Dodd’s eyes twinkled. “Will you sing for us as well?”

Pippin grinned. “I’ll always sing--you know that!” He felt relieved. He had not been too sure how his proposal would be received. You could never tell with grown-ups.

“I’ll go ahead and stand you the half. I know you’ll nurse it. But wait till there’s a few more folk here to start. No use wasting music on an empty room.”

Pippin’s face lit up with pleasure. “Thank you, Master Dodd!”

The innkeeper shook his head with amusement. With those eyes and that smile, it was hardly fair that he was the son of the Thain as well. That one could charm the birds out of the trees.

A few moments later, Dodd heard a stir from the folk in the room, and felt the apprehension. He looked up to see a Man, stooping to enter. He was more than a bit alarmed. He’d hosted a few Dwarves, but never had he one of the Big Folk in his inn before. But the Man seemed polite and diffident enough as he came up to him.

“Are you Master Dodd Brockhouse?”

“I am,” he answered warily.

The Man made an elegant bow. “Menelcar the Minstrel at your service, Master Dodd. The innkeeper at The Oak and Thorn in Pincup recommended your fine inn to me as one where my talents might be appreciated.”

Dodd relaxed. It never rained but it poured. Here was another musician! It was a shame that it wasn’t a Highday, but the sounds of music and the talk of one of the Big Folk was going to draw a crowd anyway. He was going to do a very nice bit of business for a Hensday.

“Well, Mr. Menelcar, I’ll not turn away a bit of good entertainment. But the burden won’t be only on you.” He gestured with his chin to Pippin who sat at a corner with his half, and was polishing and tending to his fiddle.

“Ah, a fellow musician! Does he play here often?” Menelcar was intrigued, as this was the first hobbit he had seen whom he knew played an instrument, though he was sure it wasn’t unique.

“He’s a local lad--sings a lot, but this is the first time he’s brought his fiddle.” He was not about to tell this Man that he was looking at the son of the Thain. The minstrel seemed a good sort, but Dodd was not going to throw all caution to the wind.

Pippin had looked up as the Man had entered, and was curious, but not in awe like many of the hobbits there. After all, he’d known a Wizard, and Gandalf, he thought, was taller than this person. He smiled a welcome as the tall form approached his table.

Menelcar introduced himself, and now Pippin grinned widely. “I’m Pippin,” he said, not giving his last name as was usually customary. He was not sure if this Man knew who the Tooks were, but he wanted to keep things on a friendly basis, and not have rank cluttering things up. He knew from Frodo’s tales that Big Folk put a lot of emphasis on rank. “I’ve never met a minstrel before.”

The Man sat upon the floor. He had found that this seemed to put him at about eye level for most hobbits seated in a chair. He had sat upon tables to perform, and so far it seemed to work.

“You seem a bit young to be playing in a tavern?” said the Man. He had found that most of the hobbits seemed to look younger than he expected.

Pippin flushed. “I am twenty-five.”

The Man looked skeptical. Dodd brought him an ale, and Pippin glanced up at the innkeeper. “Master Dodd, he does not believe I am twenty-five.” said Pippin

“I should say you are!” exclaimed the innkeeper. “Else you wouldn’t be in here like this!”

Menelcar nodded. But he still thought this hobbit looked very young indeed.

He turned his attention to his harp. He noticed the look of interest that Pippin gave it. “Do you play other instruments besides the fiddle?”

“I play the Tookland pipes, and the lap harp. My Aunt Esme taught me to play the fiddle--I’ve played it the longest. Mostly, I sing.”

“Tookland pipes?”

“They are pipes which are played by pumping a bag of air--” Pippin gestured, as though he were playing.

“Ah. In Dale, they call those ‘bagpipes’.” He chuckled. “When played well they sound magnificent; played badly they sound like nothing so much as a cat being tortured."

Pippin laughed. “I see you have encountered them! You have been in Dale?” That was exciting; that was where Bilbo had gone in his adventures.

So Menelcar spun a few tales of his travels, keeping an eye all the time on the room, seeing how many customers were entering, how much of a crowd being drawn by word of his being there.

“I think you should go first, Pippin,” he said, finally.

“Already?” Pippin looked a bit apprehensive. He had not minded doing this before, just in front of the other hobbits, who were there all the time. But now he would be performing in front of a professional, someone who knew music. It was slightly intimidating.

Menelcar smiled. “You can warm the crowd up for me.”

With a sudden look of determination which his cousin Merry would have recognized, he took up his fiddle and made his way to the front of the room.

There were several pleased cries from the crowd of “Mr. Pippin!” and “Play us a tune, Mr. Pippin!” This bolstered his confidence, and he tucked the instrument under his chin and began to play a sprightly tune.

Menelcar listened, nodding his head in time to the music. The lad was good, quite good.

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Chapter 3 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 3

Pippin very quickly forgot about Menelcar as he was caught up in the joy of the music. He played two more tunes that were popular in the Tooklands. Hands were clapping and feet were stomping, and his face was flushed with pleasure. When he finished the third tune, there were calls for a song.

“What will you have?” he called, laughing.

Several voices rang out “Nob o’ the Lea!” This was a perennial favorite of those who had heard Pippin sing it before.

He gave a light laugh, and said “Very well, ‘Nob’ it is!” Then he threw back his head and began the jolly melody:

“A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he! 

First breakfast he has at the rise of the sun,
Two eggs, a sausage and one sticky bun.
He stays at the table until it is done,
And then back to bed is his idea of fun.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he! 

Second breakfast, to the kitchen again,
Porridge and cream is his happy plan,
Followed by toast and strawberry jam,
An apple or pear and a wee bit of ham.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he!   

He takes himself out for a bit of a walk,
But elevenses come at the chime of a clock.
There’s no time to stop and no time to talk
When there’s bread and butter and beans in the crock.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he!

Though he’s much work to do, he has a hunch
That naught will be done before time for lunch.
There are mushrooms and leeks and carrots in a bunch,
All of them things that he’s eager to munch.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he!  

He’s ready to eat when teatime arrives,
Though fainting with hunger his spirit revives
With scones thickly spread with soft cheese and chives
And tea made with honey from his own beehives.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh a hobbit of habit is he, is he!

Soon supper has come and his hunger is dire,
He’s almost certain that he soon will expire--
But there’s chicken on the spit and soup on the fire,
It makes him the happiest lad in the Shire.

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he!

And now that he finally finds he is fed,
He takes himself off to his warm little bed
And laying him down and nodding his head
He dreams of a marvelous, bountiful spread!  

A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
Oh, a hobbit of habit is he, is he!”

By the time Pippin had finished the second verse, the room was clapping and stomping in time with the song, and by the time he got to the third verse, they were singing the chorus. When he got to the last two verses, all were singing along, and the chorus was repeated again. Menelcar was impressed by the way the hobbit had his audience enthralled. This Pippin had made the audience forget that a novelty like a minstrel of the Big Folk was waiting a turn. Perhaps *he* should have been the warm-up act, he thought with a rueful grin.

Pippin followed this with another comic song, a complicated thing apparently to do with hobbit genealogy, as it seemed to be full of lines about “fourth cousins thrice removed” and “great-great-great-aunts”. Menelcar could not make heads nor tails of it, but the hobbits were laughing uproariously, as though they had never heard anything so hilarious.

Then the mood was changed as the lad began a solemn rather melancholy song:

The wind was in the withered heath,
but in the forest stirred no leaf;
there shadows lay by night and day,
and dark things silent crept beneath.

Menelcar leaned forward. This was a Dwarven tune, but the words were slightly different than what he had heard in the Lonely Mountain. He listened attentively. This might be one of the songs he had come to track down.

The wind came down from mountains cold,
and like a tide it roared and rolled;
the branches groaned the forest moaned,
and leaves were laid upon the mold.

The grasses hissed, their tassels bent,
the reeds were rattling--on it went
o’er shaken pool under heavens cool
where racing clouds were torn and rent.

It passed the lonely Mountain bare
and swept above the dragon’s lair;
there black and dark lay boulders stark
and flying smoke was in the air.

It left the world and took its flight
over the wide seas of the night.
The moon set sail upon the gale,
and stars were fanned to leaping light.*

Pippin’s sweet voice faded away on the last mournful note, and he looked up gratefully as the innkeeper handed him a full mug. His eyes held a question as he took it. “It’s just cold water, Mr. Pippin,” muttered Dodd quietly, “but I’m thinking you’re thirsty.”

“Thank you.” Pippin glanced up at the Man. He’d enjoyed singing himself, but now he was ready to sit back and listen to a *real* minstrel. Menelcar met Pippin’s eyes with a nod. Unfolding his long legs, and moving carefully, for his head barely cleared the ceiling beams, he came forward. He sat down on top of the table where Pippin had seated himself.

Strumming his harp, he began…

 

End Notes:

*From The Hobbit, Chapter VII, “Queer Lodgings”

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Chapter 4 by Dreamflower

“Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard.
For the life of the bard is free
Oh the life of the bard for me.

I’ve sung for lords and ladies fair
And eke for the peasantry,
I’ve sung for the children in the village square
Who dance so merrily
I’ve sung at night by firelight
And told of days of yore
To the yeomen bold and the captains old
To the yeomen bold and the captains old
As they gird up for war.

Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard.
For the soul of the bard is free
Oh, the life of the bard for me.

Pippin’s eyes began to assume an unfocussed and faraway look as he listened raptly to the words of the song.

A troubadour he welcome is
At every hearth in town,
From the mountain stores to the boggy moors
I’ve travelled up and down.
And the price of bread, a roof o’er my head
Are naught but a simple poem.
Happy and glad is the minstrel lad
Who can call the road his own.

Now Pippin leaned forward, imagining himself gaily tripping down the road with no responsibilities, his only task to please other people with his music at the end of the day. What a life that would be!

Sing Ho! For the life of a bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard,
For the soul of a bard is free
Oh, the life of the bard for me!

So give me a seat, some bread to eat
And a cup of good strong ale,
Of noble steeds and gallant deeds
Of knights I’ll spin my tale.

And when I die please let me lie
With my harp upon my breast,
And the turtledoves and the stars above
Will sing me to my rest.  

Sing Ho! For the life of the bard!
Though the road is long and the way is hard,
For the soul of a bard is free,
Oh, the life of a bard for me! (1)  

Oh, thought Pippin, the life of the bard for me!

Menelcar had the crowd with him nodding and clapping. He’d scarcely finished when he started another, a humorous tale of the courtship of a lad and a maid:

“One misty, moisty morning
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man all dressed in leather
With a cap beneath his chin.
I began to compliment and he began to grin,
How-do-you-do, and how-do-you-do And how-do-you-do again….” (2)

When that jolly song drew to an end, he played his harp quietly for a moment, and then began a sweet sad song that reminded Pippin of his cousin Frodo. It must be an Elven song, he thought.

“East of the Moon, west of the Sun
There stands a lonely hill;
It feet are in the pale green sea,
It’s towers are white and still
Beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor.
Comes never there but one lone star
That fled before the moon;
And there the Two Trees naked are
That bore Night’s silver bloom,
That bore the globéd fruit of Noon
In Valinor.
There are the shores of Faëry
With their moonlight pebbled strand
Whose foam is silver music
On the opalescent floor
Beyond the great sea-shadows
On the marches of the sand
That stretches on forever
To the dragonheaded door,
The gateway of the Moon,
In Valinor.
West of the Sun, east of the Moon
Lies the haven of the star
The white town of the Wanderer
And the rocks of Eglamar.
The Wingelot is harbored,
While Eärendil looks afar
O’er the darkened waters
Between here and Eglamar--
Out, out, beyond Taniquetil
In Valinor afar.” (3)

As the last sorrowful notes faded, Pippin heard several sniffles and noses being blown. His own eyes burned a bit, and he blinked the tears away.

Now the harper began a brisker tune.

“The King beneath the mountains,
The King of carven stone,

At the first few words, Pippin’s head snapped up. That was one of old Bilbo’s songs! Moved by a sudden impulse, he raise his own sweet tenor to join the Man’s rich baritone. After a brief glance of surprise, Menelcar’s eyes twinkled, and he gestured for Pippin to come stand beside him.

The lord of silver fountains
Shall come into his own!

His crown shall be upholden,
His harp shall be restrung,
His halls shall echo golden
To songs of yore re-sung.

The woods shall wave on mountains
And grass beneath the sun;
His wealth shall flow in fountains
And the rivers golden run.

The streams shall run in gladness
, The lakes shall shine and burn
All sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king’s return!” (4)

As the song ended to thunderous applause, the two singers looked at one another and grinned, before taking a bow. Pippin felt suddenly overwhelmed by the joyful idea of experiencing this incredible feeling every night.

 

 

End Notes:

(1) “Sing Ho! For the Life of the Bard” by Mistress Rosalinde Jehanne of Paradox Keep, (Jonna Bernstein) sung by Lady Julitta des Cheveaux on the tape Fair Lady Atlantia put out by the Atlantian Bardic Guild, of the Kingdom of Atlantia in the Society for Creative Anachronism. It was this song that inspired this story.

(2) From a Mother Goose Nursery rhyme that is part of a much longer folksong

(3) From The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two , Chapter V, “The Tale of Eärendil”, “The Shores of Faëry”

(4) From The Hobbit, Chapter XV, “The Gathering of the Clouds” (I am aware that Bilbo did not actually make up "The King Beneath the Mountain", but it was he who brought it back to the Shire, and I am sure most hobbits thought he wrote it.)

 

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Chapter 5 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 6

“Well. What do you have to say for yourself?” Paladin’s voice was flat and cold.

Pippin shook his head, lips firmly pressed together. He was not above lying to his parents if he thought it would do some good, but it was no use trying one on now. It wouldn’t even buy him any time. Any lie he told would fall apart like wet paper at his father’s first question.

“You’ve been down to The Leaping Hare, after your mother specifically told you that you were not to go alone.”

“It’s not fair!” Pippin burst out. “I’m twenty-five, and I’m allowed to go there on my own.”

“I am aware of that. And if you had given me a bit of time to speak with your mother privately, I would have persuaded her that she did not need to coddle you in this matter. But you have proven me wrong by this bit of unnecessary childishness.” Paladin delivered each word like a blow.

Pippin was stung. He was no mind reader. How would he have guessed that his father might try to talk his mother round? His father was hardly ever on his side anyway, these days.

“Tomorrow you will stay in this room. Your meals will be brought to you. You will *not* slip out the window and go haring off to Buckland. Your cousin Merry has responsibilities now, and he does not need to be distracted by you hanging about and getting in his way when he has a real job to do, nor does he need to be burdened with having to be your nurse-maid."

This really hurt, and unwanted tears sprang to Pippin’s eyes. He couldn’t be a burden to his Merry, could he? How could his father think that? Had Merry said something to his father to make him think that? Would Merry think him a bother now that he was grown? He hadn’t thought so before, but why would his father say that?

“Do you understand me in this?” Paladin said forcefully.

Pressed, Pippin had to answer, though the words could barely be choked out. “Yes, sir.”

“I cannot believe that you have reached this age without being aware of the consequences of your actions. You go off to play the fiddle and sing in a public inn like that! Do you realize that all your actions are noted and saved up? In years to come, hobbits will be saying, ‘Oh, yes, Peregrin Took. He’s the one who made a public display of himself in the taverns!’ They will remember every one of your misdeeds and escapades. You have to be able to lead people, and you cannot do that if no one respects you, and all they can think of is what an irresponsible youth you were. You are going to be Thain one day--”

Pippin couldn’t help it. He had heard that phrase one time too many. In a tight voice, he clearly said “I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Thain!”

There was dead silence.

Even in the moonlight, Pippin could see the two spots of red staining his father’s paper white face, and the fury blazing out of his eyes. He had never seen such anger from his father before. He took a step backwards in fear.

Paladin felt as though he had received a physical blow. He had never been so angry in his life. With an effort, he clenched his fists to his sides, to keep from slapping Peregrin in the face. He had never struck him yet, and he was not about to start now, though he thought that if any words ever deserved it, those did. The foolish child had no idea of what his father had sacrificed in order to make it possible for him to hold the Thainship.

Taking several deep breaths, he calmed himself enough to speak. “What you want hardly matters. What is, is. Mark my words. And spend tomorrow thinking about what you have done.”

He turned and went out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind him.

Pippin threw himself on his bed and cried until his stomach hurt, and then finally slipped miserably into a restless sleep.

_________________________________________________

The sun pouring through the open window of his room wakened him at dawn, and he wearily got down and undressed and put on a nightshirt before returning to bed. He slept soundly for a few hours, and was wakened by a knock upon his door.

“Go ‘way!” he called.

“Pip? It’s me!” came his sister Pervinca’s voice. “Please. I’ve brought you breakfast.”

He was about to tell her to take it away, he wasn’t hungry, when his stomach began to growl. Well, he guessed he *was* hungry after all.

“All right, Vinca, come in then.”

“You’ll have to open the door, silly! My hands are full.”

With a sigh, he swung his legs out of the bed and grabbed his dressing gown. He opened the door, and his sister came in, nearly staggering with the weight of the tray she carried. “I’ve brought enough for both of us.” She carried it over and put it in the middle of the bed, and sat down at the foot. Pippin came over and sat down at the other end, and perused its contents.

There was a pot of tea with two cups, and eggs, sausages, toast, mushrooms, fried potatoes, and a small pot of blackberry jam. Pippin’s stomach rumbled again at the delicious smells, and the two tweens immediately tucked into the meal.

“Ib di frshrsknd brkfsh” said Pippin around a mouthful of sausage.

Vinca giggled. “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” she said. “It’s second breakfast. First was long ago. It was pretty dire, too. Father’s still fuming and Mother’s not too happy either. Whatever you did, I hope it was worth it, because I think you will be in trouble for some good long time to come.”

Pip took a sip of tea to wash down his food, so he could reply. “Well, did you know I went off to The Bunny? I mean after Mother said not by myself?”

Vinca nodded. She felt a bit guilty. If he had not spent all his money on her, he would never have had to ask their Mother before he went, and then he would never have been in trouble in the first place.

“So it was splendid! I took my fiddle to play for a half, and while I was there I met a Man! One of the Big Folk!” Pippin grinned at the thought of Menelcar.

Vinca’s eyes grew wide. “What is he doing in the Shire?” she asked with a bit of alarm.

Pippin laughed. “He’s a minstrel. He just travels around singing for folk. He came to the Shire in hopes of finding out about old Cousin Bilbo’s songs, if you can believe it!”

Vinca nodded. That made sense. After all, Bilbo Baggins was famous Outside as well as in the Shire.

“Anyway, after I played the fiddle and sang, he did as well, and then we sang together! Oh, Vinca! It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done! Everyone loved how we sounded! Menelcar--that’s his name--he can do just as he pleases! He travels town to town, singing and playing, with no worries about responsibilities or anything!”

Vinca was not sure that sounded so grand to her, but she could see how it would appeal to Pip. “Well, I’m sure Father was angry about you defying Mother, but I don’t see why he is *this* angry.”

Pippin’s face fell. With a bit of anger in his own voice, he said, “I told him I didn’t want to be Thain!”

Ah. That explained it. She had known for some time that was coming sooner or later. Pip chafed so at the constant reminders of the future, and of his rank, and of his duties. But she knew how important that it was to her father. Yes, that would make the situation pretty dire.

“Anyway, whatever Father does, I had last night, and it was grand. I told Menelcar he should see Frodo before he leaves, and learn all about old Bilbo.” Pippin turned his attention to the food again, making swift inroads on it.

Vinca studied her younger brother. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Maybe she could puzzle it out.

_________________________________________________________

Menelcar awakened and stretched. The innkeeper had been kind enough to offer him a place in the stable, and with his bedroll in the hayloft, he had been more comfortable sleeping than at any time since he had entered the Shire. He thought he should be moving on though, if he wished to be at The Ivy Bush by evening.

He stopped to say farewell to the innkeeper. “I thank you, Master Dodd, for your hospitality.”

“It’s been nice to have you here, Mr. Menelcar. That was a right treat last night hearing you and Mr. Pippin sing. I did a smart bit of business as well. If you ever have call to come back this way, you’ll find a welcome here.”

This was something a bard always liked to hear. Menelcar went on his way with a light step and a light heart. He thought of the possibility that Pippin might choose to travel with him. It had been a long time since he had met anyone whom he had liked so quickly and so well. He had been alone on the road for a very long time now. He thought that he and the hobbit might make a very good team. His heart lifted at the thought.

_________________________________________________

Perhaps if Paladin had known in just what directions his son’s thoughts would lead him, he might not have told him to spend the day thinking.

After Pervinca had left, Pippin got dressed. But with no where to go and nothing to do, he just ended up flopping back onto the bed.

He kept thinking of what his father had said about Merry. He knew Merry loved him, but maybe he *was* a burden, and his cousin was just too nice to tell him. Maybe Merry didn’t even *realize* that Pippin was a burden and a distraction. Look at what he was accomplishing in Buckland right now, re-building the Ferry. Pippin thought if he were there, he might just be egging Merry on to things like sneaking off into the Old Forest or raiding Farmer Maggot’s crops or something daft like that. Maybe he’d be doing Merry a favor, staying away from him. This thought made him so melancholy that he cried himself to sleep again.

The knock on his door brought elevenses. It was not one of his sisters, but a servant. He placed the tray on the desk and left, pretending not to notice Mr. Pippin’s tear-ravaged face.

Pippin looked at the tray: cheese and fruit, and a mug of cold milk. He was not especially hungry, so he only ate about three quarters of the food, but he was thirsty, and so drank all of the milk.

He prowled about the room a bit, before he went to the chest at the foot of his bed and got out his Tookland pipes. The pipes were normally an outdoor instrument--even when played as well as Pippin did, their sound was penetrating. Though he was in his room with the door shut, he would be heard throughout this entire wing of the Smials.

He chose a solemn dirge usually reserved for funerals, and played it. And played it over. And over. And over, putting every bit of his frustration and misery into each long drawn note. This was far more satisfying than a cry, with the added benefit that everyone in the Smials would know how miserable he was.

By lunchtime, even he was tired of it. But it was worth it. When Pimpernel brought his lunch tray, she said, “Mother wants me to tell you to either choose another tune or stop playing. Father says if it keeps up, he will come in here and pitch your pipes out the window. And *I* say that I’m going to strangle you if you play one more note!!”

“Very well,” he said softly, with a martyred sigh. He gave her his most mournful look, and put the pipes down.

Pimmie flushed. “I’m sorry you’re so miserable and unhappy, Pip. Buck up. Father can’t stay angry forever.” And she kissed his brow before she left, taking away the tray from elevenses. She felt very sorry for him now, and was thoroughly on his side.

Pip couldn’t help but feel a bit victorious, as he went over to the desk to look at his luncheon. Playing the pipes had given him quite an appetite, and he tucked into the soup, sandwiches and cider, eating thoughtfully.

His father had made it clear that no matter *what* Pippin himself wanted, one day he was going to be Thain, will-he or nill-he. It was hardly fair; just because his father was stuck with the job, did that really mean he had to be? The way his father harped on it all the time, it was as though he couldn’t wait to be dead and see Pippin take his place. Pippin gave a shudder. This was definitely a road his thoughts did not want to take.

He was stuck here in this room for today, at least. He was fairly sure that his father had told the gardeners and other staff to keep an eye out for him slipping out the window.

Going to Merry now was out of the question; obviously, Merry would be better off without him. But his father hadn’t said *anything* about Frodo. Doubtless, he thought Frodo would not mind Pippin’s presence one way or another. And Menelcar would be waiting tomorrow night at The Green Dragon.

Because it was crystal clear that if he were to escape being stuck here at the Great Smials for the rest of his natural born days, he was going to have to take the minstrel up on his offer.

He went over and took out his fiddle case. Though he had tended it thoroughly the night before, he brought it out once more, and began to polish it, and tune it. Tonight, he’d slip out, leaving a note that he was headed for Bag End. That would buy him a few days. By the time his parents realized he was not with Frodo, he and Menelcar should already be on their way out of the Shire. He’d have to lie low when he got to Hobbiton, though. He did not *really* want to see Frodo. He was fairly certain that his Baggins cousin would not approve of his plan.

Now, what should he take along besides his fiddle? He had the rest of the day to plan this out.

 

 

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Chapter 6 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 7

Frodo put the tea-kettle on, and cut some ham and cheese sandwiches before calling out the kitchen window “Sam, come join me for elevenses!”

“Give me just a moment, Mr. Frodo, to finish tying up these cucumber vines, and I’ll be right there.”

Sam stopped at the small pump by the kitchen door to wash his hands. “We’re going to have a lot of cucumbers this year. Do you want me to find out if my sister May will put you up some pickles?”

Frodo nodded. “The usual arrangement, Sam. She can keep half of whatever she puts up for me.” He took a sip of tea. “What’s the news in Hobbiton these days.?”

“There was one of the Big Folk--a Man--up to The Ivy Bush last night, singing and playing the harp. Said he was a minstrel or some such thing. The Gaffer was all full of it when he came home.” Sam took a bite of sandwich, and drank some tea before continuing. “The gaffer said as how he was asking after you. And he sang one of old Mr. Bilbo’s songs, one of those about the Man in the Moon.”

Frodo’s heart gave a lurch. Could this Man have a letter for him from Bilbo? They were few and far between, but why else would he be looking for Frodo?

Sam noticed the expression in his master’s eyes. “Do you think he might have word of Mr. Bilbo, Mr. Frodo?”

“I don’t know, Sam. I can only hope. But if he was asking after me, he’ll soon turn up here. Everyone knows where I am.”

“Aye, they do that. Well, I’d best be getting back to the garden, Mr. Frodo. Thanks for the elevenses.”

Frodo cleaned up the kitchen, and then went out to the bench by the front door to read his post. He’d a letter from Buckland this morning, and he wanted to see what Merry had to say. Their visit this spring had been very short.

Dear Frodo,

I am so frustrated by this abominable ferry I’m not sure which way is up and which way down. It’s all I can think about, and the more I think about it, the more disturbed I get. Da has offered to let me out of the job, but I can’t let it get the best of me.

I miss you, and I miss Pippin.

I have a bad feeling about Pip. You know how short his letters are, and his last two have been even shorter than normal. He’s bored out of his mind this summer, I can tell, and you know how dangerous it is to let Pip get bored. Da asked Uncle Paladin to send him over for a visit--he thought it would be a help to get my mind off my troubles with the ferry, but Uncle Paladin thinks Pippin would be a nuisance for me while I am trying to get this done. As if Pip would ever be a nuisance! (Although I might tell him he is--but that’s different, as you know.)

Maybe you can get Uncle Paladin to let Pip come for another visit to Bag End, since he won’t let him come to Buckland right now. I know Uncle respects you and thinks you are a steadying influence on Pippin.

Anyway, maybe it is just my imagination. Maybe Pip’s just fine.

If I get finished with this mess by the end of the first week of Afterlithe, I will try to come myself.

I just realized this letter makes me sound very sorry for myself. I haven’t even asked after you. Please let me know if all is well with you, and give my regards to Samwise.

Your loving cousin,
Merry

Frodo re-read the letter, and then folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. He took out his pipe for a smoke. Poor Merry! Coming of age was not always as wonderful as young hobbits thought it was going to be, as he well knew. And he did not dismiss Merry’s unsettled feelings about Pippin, either. He had noticed himself before Pippin left Bag End that the lad was getting bored more easily than usual, and put it down to Merry’s absence.

His train of thought was interrupted by the sound of footsteps at the gate to the path, and he looked up. Indeed, there was a Man, one of the Big Folk, coming towards him. He stood up.

He watched the Man approach. He was not so tall as Gandalf. He wore no beard, and looked to be in his middle-age.

Menelcar stopped before him. “Do I have the honor of addressing Master Frodo Baggins?” At Frodo’s nod, he made an elaborate bow. “Menelcar the Minstrel at your service, Master Baggins.”

Frodo returned his bow politely. “I am most pleased to meet you, Master Menelcar. Would you care to sit out here, or would you like to come into the smial?”

“If we could go in, I would appreciate it very much.”

Frodo led the way into the front room. Menelcar followed carefully. The ceilings at Bag End were not so high as the ceilings in the inns. Frodo took a seat in the armchair by the fireplace, and Menelcar, as had become his habit since entering the Shire, took a seat upon the floor, folding his long legs up like a tailor.

“May I offer you anything to eat or drink?” asked Frodo, ever the polite host.

“No, I thank you.”

“I have been told,” said Frodo, “that you had been asking after me in The Ivy Bush last night.”

Menelcar nodded. “Indeed. I am trying to find out information about a halfling--that is, hobbit--named Bilbo Baggins, and was told that you were close kin to him, and knew him well.”

Frodo raised his brow in surprise. “He was my guardian and dear friend as well as my cousin, though I grew up calling him ‘uncle’. But why are you asking about Bilbo? He has been gone from the Shire for nearly fourteen years!”

“When I was in Dale,” said the minstrel thoughtfully, “I began to encounter songs that I had never heard before. Many of them were different in a way that is difficult to describe. Although I was hearing them sung by Dwarves or Men, they did not sound Dwarven, nor like any kind of Man I had thus far encountered. Yet they most *certainly* were not Elven. One never forgets the sound of Elven songs, and they are nearly all of them melancholy. I also began to hear tales of a person, one of the Little Folk, whom we in the south had thought of as a legend, halflings we called them, or pheriannath.”

Frodo nodded. The word had Elven roots.

“As I traveled west, I found that some of these songs preceded me, and learned that the land of the halflings was called the Shire. I tried to make my way here from Bree, but was discouraged--” he paused. He did not think he ought to mention those mysterious Rangers who seemed to be guarding this little land, and who had tried to turn him back. “so I made my way south, and came in by way of Sarn Ford, and spent a few weeks in the South Farthing. When I was in Tuckborough, I learned that the name of my song-writing hobbit was Bilbo Baggins, the same as the name of the hobbit in the stories. Did he really confront the Dragon Smaug?”

“Indeed, he did,” said Frodo. “He was quite pleased with himself at the time.” Frodo smiled as he remembered the smug look Bilbo would get when he described his riddling encounter with the huge beast. “You know, Bilbo would be pleased to no end to find that his songs have spread so far. I have a great many of them which he had written out, which remained here when he left. Excuse me a moment.”

Frodo went from the front room to the study, and returned with two thick volumes under his arm which he handed to Menelcar.

The bard’s face lit up with pleasure as he skimmed through the pages. There--there were the songs about the Man in the Moon. The one he was familiar with, another longer one, full of extravagant language, and five other shorter, humorous ones. So Pippin had not been exaggerating! And here--here was one featuring riddles which he had apparently heard only a portion of. His face grew rapt as he read.

Frodo moved next to him to point out something, and they spent quite some time going through each volume.

“May I copy some of these, Master Baggins?” he finally asked.

“Certainly.” Frodo brought him parchment, ink and quill, and left him to go and prepare some tea and sandwiches, which the Man took thankfully, but without stopping his self-appointed task.

Finally he looked up with a sigh. “I shall have to quit, now. I need to go into Bywater, as I plan to go to The Green Dragon tonight.” He stood up carefully, his knees popping. “I can’t tell you, Master Baggins, how much it has meant to me to find the source of so many of these songs. And to think that the same Bilbo Baggins who braved the Dragon Smaug is the same one who wrote them. He must have been a remarkable person.”

Frodo shook his head. “He *is* a remarkable person.”

Menelcar felt surprise. “You think he yet lives? But that would make him--”

“Nearly one hundred and twenty five years old. Although my last letter from him was about three years ago, he seemed as lively as ever in it. I believe I would know if he were dead.”

Menelcar was not as skeptical as he once would have been. So far as he could tell, this seeming youth who sat before him was somewhere in his forties, if all he’d learned was true.

Frodo smiled. “It would please me if you would accept the hospitality of Bag End tonight. I have a room that has a bed that is of a size to accommodate you Big Folk.”

This was pleasant news. Sleeping on the ground beneath the stars was all very well and good, but he was not one to turn down a real bed when it was offered.

“I would be glad to accept. However, I may be very late in returning. Not only do I intend to play at The Green Dragon tonight, but I am also to meet someone there. There’s a young hobbit who is of a mind to travel with me and try the life of a bard. I met him in Tuckborough. He sings very sweetly, and plays the fiddle more than passably well, so I agreed. He’s to meet me there tonight if he’s still of a mind to go.”

Frodo’s face went very, very still. He stared at the minstrel for a moment. “This hobbit, was he about so high--” he held his hand up and out to the side, “--with chestnut curls and big green eyes and a mischievous grin that can get him just about anything he wants?”

Menelcar laughed. “That’s him exactly! I take it you know him?”

“Know him? My dear Master Menelcar, it’s my cousin Pip, and I tell you now, it would be most unwise of you to take him out of the Shire!”

Now it was Menelcar’s turn to go very still. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

“Well,” said Frodo, “first of all, he is underage.”

The Man felt alarmed. “He told me he was twenty-five, and the innkeeper vouched for it!”

“Why, yes, he is! But coming of age in the Shire is thirty-three! Pip is only what we call a ‘tweenager’.”

Suddenly the light dawned. He had thought when he met the lad that he only looked to be about fifteen or sixteen, and now he realized he had not been that far off the mark in terms of actual maturity. Still, that was not too young to be an apprentice--

Frodo broke into his thoughts. “But there is an even more pressing reason you should not allow him to go with you. Pippin is Peregrin Took, the only son and heir of the Thain, Paladin Took!”

The blood drained from Menelcar’s face. He’d only been in the Shire a few weeks, but even he had learned that the Thain was the Shire’s equivalent of the lord of the land.

“Oh my word! What am I to do? I promised to meet him tonight!”

Frodo leaned forward silently, his brow furrowed and his lips pursed, as he thought the problem out.

“Go ahead. Go to The Green Dragon and meet him. Find a table and make sure he is *not* facing the door. I’ll come in and handle it from there. And please, I hope you will still accept my hospitality.”

“Thank you, Master Baggins!” Menelcar suddenly felt as though he had been rescued from a grave disaster.

 

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Chapter 7 by Dreamflower

 

CHAPTER 7

Frodo put the tea-kettle on, and cut some ham and cheese sandwiches before calling out the kitchen window “Sam, come join me for elevenses!”

“Give me just a moment, Mr. Frodo, to finish tying up these cucumber vines, and I’ll be right there.”

Sam stopped at the small pump by the kitchen door to wash his hands. “We’re going to have a lot of cucumbers this year. Do you want me to find out if my sister May will put you up some pickles?”

Frodo nodded. “The usual arrangement, Sam. She can keep half of whatever she puts up for me.” He took a sip of tea. “What’s the news in Hobbiton these days.?”

“There was one of the Big Folk--a Man--up to The Ivy Bush last night, singing and playing the harp. Said he was a minstrel or some such thing. The Gaffer was all full of it when he came home.” Sam took a bite of sandwich, and drank some tea before continuing. “The gaffer said as how he was asking after you. And he sang one of old Mr. Bilbo’s songs, one of those about the Man in the Moon.”

Frodo’s heart gave a lurch. Could this Man have a letter for him from Bilbo? They were few and far between, but why else would he be looking for Frodo?

Sam noticed the expression in his master’s eyes. “Do you think he might have word of Mr. Bilbo, Mr. Frodo?”

“I don’t know, Sam. I can only hope. But if he was asking after me, he’ll soon turn up here. Everyone knows where I am.”

“Aye, they do that. Well, I’d best be getting back to the garden, Mr. Frodo. Thanks for the elevenses.”

Frodo cleaned up the kitchen, and then went out to the bench by the front door to read his post. He’d a letter from Buckland this morning, and he wanted to see what Merry had to say. Their visit this spring had been very short.

Dear Frodo,

I am so frustrated by this abominable ferry I’m not sure which way is up and which way down. It’s all I can think about, and the more I think about it, the more disturbed I get. Da has offered to let me out of the job, but I can’t let it get the best of me.

I miss you, and I miss Pippin.

I have a bad feeling about Pip. You know how short his letters are, and his last two have been even shorter than normal. He’s bored out of his mind this summer, I can tell, and you know how dangerous it is to let Pip get bored. Da asked Uncle Paladin to send him over for a visit--he thought it would be a help to get my mind off my troubles with the ferry, but Uncle Paladin thinks Pippin would be a nuisance for me while I am trying to get this done. As if Pip would ever be a nuisance! (Although I might tell him he is--but that’s different, as you know.)

Maybe you can get Uncle Paladin to let Pip come for another visit to Bag End, since he won’t let him come to Buckland right now. I know Uncle respects you and thinks you are a steadying influence on Pippin.

Anyway, maybe it is just my imagination. Maybe Pip’s just fine.

If I get finished with this mess by the end of the first week of Afterlithe, I will try to come myself.

I just realized this letter makes me sound very sorry for myself. I haven’t even asked after you. Please let me know if all is well with you, and give my regards to Samwise.

Your loving cousin,
Merry

Frodo re-read the letter, and then folded it carefully and put it in his pocket. He took out his pipe for a smoke. Poor Merry! Coming of age was not always as wonderful as young hobbits thought it was going to be, as he well knew. And he did not dismiss Merry’s unsettled feelings about Pippin, either. He had noticed himself before Pippin left Bag End that the lad was getting bored more easily than usual, and put it down to Merry’s absence.

His train of thought was interrupted by the sound of footsteps at the gate to the path, and he looked up. Indeed, there was a Man, one of the Big Folk, coming towards him. He stood up.

He watched the Man approach. He was not so tall as Gandalf. He wore no beard, and looked to be in his middle-age.

Menelcar stopped before him. “Do I have the honor of addressing Master Frodo Baggins?” At Frodo’s nod, he made an elaborate bow. “Menelcar the Minstrel at your service, Master Baggins.”

Frodo returned his bow politely. “I am most pleased to meet you, Master Menelcar. Would you care to sit out here, or would you like to come into the smial?”

“If we could go in, I would appreciate it very much.”

Frodo led the way into the front room. Menelcar followed carefully. The ceilings at Bag End were not so high as the ceilings in the inns. Frodo took a seat in the armchair by the fireplace, and Menelcar, as had become his habit since entering the Shire, took a seat upon the floor, folding his long legs up like a tailor.

“May I offer you anything to eat or drink?” asked Frodo, ever the polite host.

“No, I thank you.”

“I have been told,” said Frodo, “that you had been asking after me in The Ivy Bush last night.”

Menelcar nodded. “Indeed. I am trying to find out information about a halfling--that is, hobbit--named Bilbo Baggins, and was told that you were close kin to him, and knew him well.”

Frodo raised his brow in surprise. “He was my guardian and dear friend as well as my cousin, though I grew up calling him ‘uncle’. But why are you asking about Bilbo? He has been gone from the Shire for nearly fourteen years!”

“When I was in Dale,” said the minstrel thoughtfully, “I began to encounter songs that I had never heard before. Many of them were different in a way that is difficult to describe. Although I was hearing them sung by Dwarves or Men, they did not sound Dwarven, nor like any kind of Man I had thus far encountered. Yet they most *certainly* were not Elven. One never forgets the sound of Elven songs, and they are nearly all of them melancholy. I also began to hear tales of a person, one of the Little Folk, whom we in the south had thought of as a legend, halflings we called them, or pheriannath.”

Frodo nodded. The word had Elven roots.

“As I traveled west, I found that some of these songs preceded me, and learned that the land of the halflings was called the Shire. I tried to make my way here from Bree, but was discouraged--” he paused. He did not think he ought to mention those mysterious Rangers who seemed to be guarding this little land, and who had tried to turn him back. “so I made my way south, and came in by way of Sarn Ford, and spent a few weeks in the South Farthing. When I was in Tuckborough, I learned that the name of my song-writing hobbit was Bilbo Baggins, the same as the name of the hobbit in the stories. Did he really confront the Dragon Smaug?”

“Indeed, he did,” said Frodo. “He was quite pleased with himself at the time.” Frodo smiled as he remembered the smug look Bilbo would get when he described his riddling encounter with the huge beast. “You know, Bilbo would be pleased to no end to find that his songs have spread so far. I have a great many of them which he had written out, which remained here when he left. Excuse me a moment.”

Frodo went from the front room to the study, and returned with two thick volumes under his arm which he handed to Menelcar.

The bard’s face lit up with pleasure as he skimmed through the pages. There--there were the songs about the Man in the Moon. The one he was familiar with, another longer one, full of extravagant language, and five other shorter, humorous ones. So Pippin had not been exaggerating! And here--here was one featuring riddles which he had apparently heard only a portion of. His face grew rapt as he read.

Frodo moved next to him to point out something, and they spent quite some time going through each volume.

“May I copy some of these, Master Baggins?” he finally asked.

“Certainly.” Frodo brought him parchment, ink and quill, and left him to go and prepare some tea and sandwiches, which the Man took thankfully, but without stopping his self-appointed task.

Finally he looked up with a sigh. “I shall have to quit, now. I need to go into Bywater, as I plan to go to The Green Dragon tonight.” He stood up carefully, his knees popping. “I can’t tell you, Master Baggins, how much it has meant to me to find the source of so many of these songs. And to think that the same Bilbo Baggins who braved the Dragon Smaug is the same one who wrote them. He must have been a remarkable person.”

Frodo shook his head. “He *is* a remarkable person.”

Menelcar felt surprise. “You think he yet lives? But that would make him--”

“Nearly one hundred and twenty five years old. Although my last letter from him was about three years ago, he seemed as lively as ever in it. I believe I would know if he were dead.”

Menelcar was not as skeptical as he once would have been. So far as he could tell, this seeming youth who sat before him was somewhere in his forties, if all he’d learned was true.

Frodo smiled. “It would please me if you would accept the hospitality of Bag End tonight. I have a room that has a bed that is of a size to accommodate you Big Folk.”

This was pleasant news. Sleeping on the ground beneath the stars was all very well and good, but he was not one to turn down a real bed when it was offered.

“I would be glad to accept. However, I may be very late in returning. Not only do I intend to play at The Green Dragon tonight, but I am also to meet someone there. There’s a young hobbit who is of a mind to travel with me and try the life of a bard. I met him in Tuckborough. He sings very sweetly, and plays the fiddle more than passably well, so I agreed. He’s to meet me there tonight if he’s still of a mind to go.”

Frodo’s face went very, very still. He stared at the minstrel for a moment. “This hobbit, was he about so high--” he held his hand up and out to the side, “--with chestnut curls and big green eyes and a mischievous grin that can get him just about anything he wants?”

Menelcar laughed. “That’s him exactly! I take it you know him?”

“Know him? My dear Master Menelcar, it’s my cousin Pip, and I tell you now, it would be most unwise of you to take him out of the Shire!”

Now it was Menelcar’s turn to go very still. “Why?” he asked suspiciously.

“Well,” said Frodo, “first of all, he is underage.”

The Man felt alarmed. “He told me he was twenty-five, and the innkeeper vouched for it!”

“Why, yes, he is! But coming of age in the Shire is thirty-three! Pip is only what we call a ‘tweenager’.”

Suddenly the light dawned. He had thought when he met the lad that he only looked to be about fifteen or sixteen, and now he realized he had not been that far off the mark in terms of actual maturity. Still, that was not too young to be an apprentice--

Frodo broke into his thoughts. “But there is an even more pressing reason you should not allow him to go with you. Pippin is Peregrin Took, the only son and heir of the Thain, Paladin Took!”

The blood drained from Menelcar’s face. He’d only been in the Shire a few weeks, but even he had learned that the Thain was the Shire’s equivalent of the lord of the land.

“Oh my word! What am I to do? I promised to meet him tonight!”

Frodo leaned forward silently, his brow furrowed and his lips pursed, as he thought the problem out.

“Go ahead. Go to The Green Dragon and meet him. Find a table and make sure he is *not* facing the door. I’ll come in and handle it from there. And please, I hope you will still accept my hospitality.”

“Thank you, Master Baggins!” Menelcar suddenly felt as though he had been rescued from a grave disaster.

______________________________________________   

 

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Chapter 8 by Dreamflower

 

CHAPTER 8

Pippin woke up from his nap in the hayloft of the stable at The Green Dragon. He had been lucky in getting a ride part of the way on the cart of a dairy hobbit, and had crept into the stable during the afternoon lull.

In the grey light before dawn he had crept from the Smials. He did not slip out the window this time, but instead he had slipped through the passages, and out through the side door of the main kitchen--making a brief detour to the larder for provisions.

Thinking of this reminded him that he was hungry and thirsty. He looked in the sack, but all that was left was half a cheese sandwich and two apples. His waterskin was empty. Oh well, the apples were juicy. He wasn’t going to risk going out for a drink yet.

If he had been setting their meeting place, it would not have been The Green Dragon. That was where Frodo went sometimes, and more often, Samwise Gamgee. And Pip was pretty well known there. Before he went down this evening, he would have to make sure that neither Frodo nor Sam was there.

_____________________________________________________

Paladin looked at the note. It was the shortest one yet. Not even a greeting or a signature: “You didn’t say I couldn’t go to Bag End.”

He sighed and shook his head. He had half-expected this. No, he should be honest with himself, he had half-hoped for this. Frodo seemed to have so much more patience with Pippin; all Paladin seemed to do these days was upset his son. Sometimes he wondered who this lad was, that had replaced his sunny little Pip a few years ago. Pippin had always been energetic and impulsive, but then suddenly he became moody and restless and irresponsible as well, and it seemed like the only people who had any influence over him at all were Merry and Frodo.

Sitting down on Pippin’s bed, he thought about the night before, and his own anger. He’d actually seen fear in his son’s eyes, and he had put it there. But how could he ever make his son understand? He sighed. He couldn’t. That would mean admitting the humiliation he had been through ten years ago, when Ferumbras had stepped down from the Thainship and told him he would be taking over. Even Eglantine did not know the *full* story. He could never admit to his son how manipulated and helpless he had felt.

Neither had he *wanted* to be Thain; but he knew his duty and did not try to shirk it. And it had proved to be the only way to secure his children’s future. But he had hoped to avoid it for many more years, at least for Ferumbras’ lifetime. That had not been possible.

Peregrin had to be *prepared* when the duty finally fell to him, not thrown in to sink or swim.

_____________________________________________________

Menelcar had left Bag End and made his way to The Green Dragon, where he had a word with the innkeeper, Toby Harfoot. Master Toby had already had word of this Man, and how he could fill a room with hobbits eager to hear his songs. He was very pleased to have this attraction for business. He offered Menelcar a bowl of stew, a mug of ale, and a table at which to sit and tune his instrument until the room had filled for the evening.

As Master Baggins had directed, he took a table near the center of the room, and seated himself facing the door, so that when Pippin did come in and join him, he would be looking away from it.

The minstrel sat on the floor, absently eating the stew, and sipping from the tiny mug which seemed almost like a teacup to him, although he was beginning to get used to it after weeks in the Shire. He was deep in thought. His meeting with Frodo Baggins had been most fortuitous. He had not only found out about the object of his long search, and been rewarded with a number of new songs, but he had also been saved from making a grave mistake. A very grave mistake, indeed.

He sighed. His dream of having a new partner on the road was dashed. If the only problem had been that Pippin was underage, he would have sought out the lad’s parents and tried to convince them to apprentice the young hobbit to him. Even though he knew it was highly unlikely they would have approved immediately, he had confidence in his abilities to persuade. Not to mention young Pippin’s own considerable abilities in coaxing what he wanted from people.

But the only son and heir to the lord of the Shire? He snorted bitterly. The Steward of Minas Tirith had *two* sons. If a wandering minstrel had tried to entice either of them away for an apprentice, said minstrel would be cooling his heels in a Gondorian prison--at best. At worst, he might be hanged for treason. He knew enough about hobbits now to realize they would not be so harsh, but whatever their worst penalties might be, he knew they would be enforced in such a case.

Still, he did not look forward to seeing Pippin disillusioned of his ambition of becoming a bard. The lad had real talent, and on top of that his personal charm and the novelty of his being a halfling--a hobbit--his fortune would have been made.

He cast his eye about the room, as it began to fill up. He was uncertain as to when Pippin would enter, but he would have to sing soon. It might be selfish of him, but he hoped that they would get to sing together at least once more before Pippin was found out by his older cousin.

_______________________________________________

Across the road from The Green Dragon, Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee leaned against the wall of the Bywater bakery, keeping to the shadows and watching the door to the inn.

“Mr. Frodo, are you sure about this? Do you really think that it’s Mr. Pippin who is planning to run off with this Menelcar fellow?

Frodo shook his head. “Think about it, Sam. He meets a young hobbit in Tuckborough, and his description fits Pippin to the last detail. Besides, what other young hobbit in the Shire would be so daft?”

Sam chuckled. “You said that, Mr. Frodo, not me. I would never be so bold as to say something like that about one of your kinfolk--no matter how true it might be. Oh, look! There are Tom and Jolly Cotton.”

“And look,” said Frodo, “there’s Pip!”

__________________________________________________

Pippin had been peering out from his vantage point in the stable, and when he saw the Cotton brothers approaching the inn, he knew there was his chance. Leaving his pack and bedroll in the loft, but carrying his fiddle case, he went down the ladder, and brushing himself off, approached the two hobbits.

“Tom! Jolly!” he hailed them. They were not chummy, but they were on speaking terms, as no one who spent much time at Bag End could have avoided making the acquaintance of the Cotton family, who were close friends of the Gamgees.

They stopped politely at his call. “Mr. Peregrin,” said Tom. “And how are you this evening?”

“I’m well, Tom. Could you do me a favor, and see if Frodo or Sam are in the inn tonight? Frodo doesn’t know I’m down from Tuckborough, and I thought I would surprise him. But if he’s here tonight, I shan’t walk on up to Bag End only to wait at an empty hole.”

If they thought it odd that he didn’t simply go into the inn and check for himself, or why he also wished to know Sam’s whereabouts, they were too polite to say so to the son of the Thain. They nodded, and Tom went to peer in the door of the inn. He turned to Pippin and said something. Pippin went into the inn.

In the shadows, Frodo smiled. “Clever Pip. He’s checking on our whereabouts.”

Sam nodded.

“We will give him a few minutes, and let a bit more crowd build up.”

Pippin entered the doorway of the inn, and scanned the room. His face lit up, as he immediately spotted Menelcar, who even seated upon the floor was taller than most of the surrounding hobbits. He began to make his way through the gathering crowd, being frequently stopped by greetings of “Evening, Mr. Pippin!” and queries as to the whereabouts of Mr. Merry and Mr. Frodo. It suddenly dawned on Pippin that this was his first foray into The Dragon without either of his older cousins in tow. Not that it was a problem. In Bywater and Hobbiton, tweenagers were allowed in the inns without older relatives. They just were not allowed to drink without them.

He sighed as he realized there’d be no ale for him tonight.

_________________________________________________

Frodo watched The Green Dragon. The Cotton brothers and a few others went inside. Since it was Highday there would be a good-sized crowd; all the better, as it would prevent Pip giving him the slip. However, he intended to take no chances.

“Sam, if you would not mind waiting by the side door, after I go in? I don’t believe Pip will run out on me, but I really don’t wish to take any chances. He has no idea how serious this all could be.”

“Of course, Mr. Frodo. If he tries it, he won’t get past me. Though he’s your kin, I have to say Mr. Pippin is a right puzzlement to me. The lad is smart enough, yet sometimes he don’t seem to have no sense at all.”

“He’s less sense now than he had five years ago. Being a tween does that to some lads, lasses too, I suppose, though I wouldn’t know much about that. But Pippin seems to have it worse than most--it’s the Took in him, I guess. At least his heart is in the right place.”

Sam nodded. Frodo crossed the street and went into The Dragon. After a few seconds, he followed, going around to the seldom used side door.

_________________________________________________

Pippin had continued his progress, and finally he reached the Bard’s table. “Menelcar!” he grinned.

In spite of his private reservations, the minstrel could not help but grin back in the face of the young hobbit’s obvious and cheerful delight in seeing him. It was pleasant to be so warmly liked.

Pippin sat down in the chair opposite the Man. “You aren’t singing yet?”

He smiled and shook his head. “Not yet. I’m expecting a bit more of a crowd. It’s--” he paused to think for a moment “--it’s what you in the Shire call ‘Highday’ isn’t it?”

Pippin nodded, feeling a thrill of excitement at this minor revelation. They call it something else Outside! What other things would be different?

Menelcar noted the play of emotions across the lad’s face. His eyes fairly sparked with excitement. “You are still determined, then, to go with me when I leave the Shire?”

“Oh yes!” Pippin’s eyes were wide. “Otherwise, why would I be here?”

Suddenly he felt a familiar hand on his shoulder, and the last voice he wanted to hear at that moment said “That’s a very good question, Peregrin Took. Do you think you could explain it to me?”

Pippin turned to look up into a pair of stern and loving blue eyes, and felt his heart drop to the pit of his stomach.

“Frodo!” he squeaked.


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Chapter 9 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 9

While Pippin gaped, Menelcar looked over at the new arrival. “Good evening, Master Baggins. Won’t you join us?”

“I believe that I will, Master Menelcar.” He reached for a chair, and sat down next to his younger cousin, without moving his hand from Pippin’s shoulder.

Pippin turned a betrayed look at the bard. “Menelcar?” he said, sad reproach in his voice.

The Man flushed and shrugged his shoulders, not meeting the lad’s gaze. He had been afraid Pippin would take it that way.

Frodo took his hand off, and signaled Master Toby to bring them ale. “Don’t be that way, Pippin. What did you expect? You did not tell Master Menelcar that you had a secret to protect, and then you sent him right to me at Bag End. The minute he mentioned he had a potential travelling companion, I knew that it was you.”

Toby brought ale over to the table, and Pippin drank his half thirstily, not attempting to make it last, as he usually did.

Wiping his mouth, he turned to the minstrel. “I’m sorry,” he said, flushing.

“You’re sorry you got caught,” said Frodo bluntly.

Menelcar found himself looking back and forth between the two cousins: the stern older hobbit, the sullen younger one. He decided this was a family matter.

“Excuse me,” he said, “I think that the room is full enough.” He took his harp to the front of the room, and drew the attention of all as he began to play.

Frodo and Pippin listened briefly, attracted by the stately air. Then Frodo turned to his young cousin.

“I’ve only this to say for now, Pip, and then we’ll leave it alone until we get to Bag End where we will have a bit more privacy. You owe Menelcar a massive and sincere apology.”

Pippin refused to meet Frodo’s eyes. “I did *not* lie to him,” he told the table, as he drew patterns in the moisture from his mug with his finger.

“No, but you did not tell him the truth, either. *Think*, Pippin. Your father commands the Shire Muster. What do you think would have happened when he learned one of the Big Folk had carried you off with him?”

Now Pippin looked up startled. His eyes grew wide with fear, and his face was ashen. He stared at Frodo for a moment, and then slumped. “I am such a fool!”

“You do foolish things sometimes, dearest. This one, I think, more foolish than most. You have disappointed Menelcar, and you would have gone off and broken all our hearts. How do you think Merry would have felt?”

Pippin dropped his gaze again. “Father says I’m a burden to Merry. He would have been better off without me, maybe.”

Frodo stared, and then rolled his eyes. Sometimes Paladin knew *exactly* the wrong thing to say. “Pippin, that is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin. But I told you it can wait until we get back to the smial. This is a public place, and we don’t need to discuss anymore of our family business here. Besides, I think your friend is getting ready to sing.”

Pippin nodded. He had noticed the change in the rhythm and melody--it had grown faster, and more cheery--and he looked up at Menelcar, who had drawn attention throughout the inn, and now raised his voice to sing.

"Whate’er we see, where’er we go
Who wanders daily to and fro;
The boats that on the river do swim,
And all the things the land within,
Say what you will, do what you can,
Are for one end to be used in hand--
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel."

There was much laughter among the assembled hobbits at the last line. Hobbits loved songs about drinking, and this one was quite clever.

"Now what do you say to these cans of wood?

Oh no! in faith, they cannot be good,
For if the bearer fall by the way
Why, on the ground your liquor doth lay;
But had it been in leather bottel,
Although he had fallen, all had been well.
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel."

There was more laughter, and many of the hobbits had taken to clapping or tapping their feet. Pippin’s mood was lightened, as he saw the success his friend was having. Frodo watched his cousin’s face. Pip really did like this Man, it was a shame that he would not have more time to spend with him. But it was *not* a shame that he’d been found out. If he could have followed his plan, it would have been a disaster.

“Then, what do you say to these glasses fine?
Oh they shall have no praise of mine;
For you chance to touch the brim
Down falls the glass and the liquor therein;
But had it been in a leather bottel,
And the stopple in, all had been well.
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

Then what do you think of these black pots three?
If a man and his wife should not agree,
Why they’ll tug and pull till their liquor doth spill;
In a leather bottel they may tug their fill,
And pull away till their arms ache,
And yet their liquor no harm can take.
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.”

By now the crowd was singing along with the refrain as it came up.

“At noon the haymakers sit them down,
To drink from their bottels of nut-brown,
In summer too, when the weather is warm
A good full bottel will do them no harm.
Then the lads and lasses begin to tattle,
But what would they do without this bottel?
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.

And when the bottel at last grows old,
And will good liquor no longer hold,
Out of the side you may make a clout,
To mend your shoes when they’re worn out;
Or take and hang it upon a pin,
‘Twill serve to put hinges and odd things in.
So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.”

A couple of hobbits looked a bit puzzled at the reference to shoes, but shrugged and went on to sing with the last two lines, and then demanded they be repeated again!

“So, joy to him, where’er he dwell,
Who first found out the leather bottel.” (1)

All were singing along by the end of the last refrain. Then with a few skillful notes from his harp, Menelcar managed to change the mood to something a bit more wistful.

“Early one morning, just as the sun was rising

I heard a maid sing in the valley below
‘Oh don’t deceive me, oh never leave me,
How could you use a poor maiden so?
Remember the vows that you made to me truly
Remember how tenderly you nestled close to me
Gay is the garland, fresh are the roses
I’ve culled from the garden to bind over thee…” (2)

The sad song of a heartbroken lass finally came to an end, and once more, Menelcar changed the music to notes that were very familiar; he looked up and glanced at Pippin in invitation, and Pippin glanced at Frodo, who nodded smiling. Grabbing his fiddle, the tweenager fairly bounced to the front of the room, to join Menelcar as they began to sing “Nob O’ the Lea”. The hobbits in the room went wild with cheering to hear one of their favorites, and as Menelcar and Pippin alternated verses, the crowd joined in on every refrain.

Frodo glanced over to the side door, where he saw Sam leaning against the doorpost. With a grin, he gestured the gardener to come and join him. Sam made his way to the table. “All is well, now, sir?”

“For the moment. I’ll have to chide him more when we get home, but look at him now.” Frodo grinned fondly at the two performers. Pippin fairly glowed, and Menelcar was watching him with a smile, rather than the audience. When the words to the song finished, Pippin and Menelcar played through the tune once more on their instruments. Then, signaling with a few notes, the two began to sing “The King Under the Mountain”, followed once more by “The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late”--which was even more popular in The Green Dragon than it had been in The Leaping Hare. From the first words, everyone was singing along. This was a favorite among those in the Hobbiton-Bywater area, and there were still those who could recall hearing it sung by old Bilbo himself.

When the song drew to a close, Menelcar indicated to Pippin that he should sing alone. He launched into a Tookland favorite:

“I hunt all day midst the curing hay,
Just to catch a brace of coney dinner,
For a coney pie brings a gleam to eye,
Such a pie is sure to be a winner!
And I’ll sing you a Hey!
If you make it this way:
With a crust as flaky as can be!
Hey, ho! Bake it up this day,
And I’ll ask you--hey!
Pretty lassie, will you marry me?” (3)

This song was not so well known as some others, being more popular in Tuckborough, but there were several more verses, and it did not take long until the audience knew the chorus, and by the last verse, were not only singing along, but a few of the younger lads who were there had begun impromptu dancing. As the song ended, Pippin began another, this one very well known:

“O where are you going this fine day?
Singing hey, my laddie, laddie, ho!
That’s for me to know and none to say,
Singing ho, my laddie hey!

Took a look at him and I am betting
That come next Spring there will be a wedding,
Come and pluck the goose for the feather bedding,
Singing hey, my laddie ho!” (3)

After this, Menelcar sang again, a rather rousing song about when the King returns. Of course, everyone knew that though it was devoutly to be wished, it would never happen; still it was a catchy tune that none had heard before. And by the time he came to the last verse, even hobbit hearts were lifted with the thought that someday in the distant future there might be a King again.

“…Then fears avaunt, upon the hill
My hope shall cast her anchor still
Until I see some peaceful dove
Bring home the branch I dearly love
Then will I wait
Till the waters abate
Which now disturb my troubled brain
Then for ever rejoice,
When I’ve heard the voice
That the King enjoys his own again
Yes, this I can tell
That all will be well
When the King enjoys his own again.” (4)

Though Pippin had not known the words, he soon picked up the tune, and had joined in with his fiddle.

Finally, Menelcar began a song he had found that afternoon in Bilbo’s writings, which Frodo had been kind enough to hum the tune for. It was a favorite among the cousins, though not as well known among other hobbits, and at the familiar words of “Upon the Hearth the Fire is Red,” Pippin quickly joined in.

Watching the performance, Frodo found himself wishing that it could indeed be possible for Pippin to try this life. It obviously suited him. But there was no way that could be. He rather hated himself for having to squash his young cousin’s dreams.

End Notes:

(1) Folksong “The Leather Bottel” found at http://www.contemplator.com/england/bottel.html

(2) Folksong “Early One Morning” found at http://www.contemplator.com/england/earlyone.html

(3) Both of these from “The Shire Songbook” by Lindelea, found on Stories of Arda, and used by permission.

(4) Folksong “When the King Enjoys His Own Again” found at http://www.contemplator.com/scotland/kingjoy.html

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Chapter 10 by Dreamflower

 

CHAPTER 10

By the time they had walked all the way back to Bag End, it was very late indeed.

Sam gave Pippin his bedroll, which he had carried for him after they had retrieved it and his pack from the loft. Then the gardener made his own way to Bagshot Row. Frodo unlocked the door (a habit which he retained from Bilbo, and from his Buckland youth) and they entered the darkened front hall. He lit candles that stood on a table to the left of the door, and handed one to Pippin and one to Menelcar, while keeping one for himself.

“I know you’re tired, Pippin, but we need to talk. Please wait for me in my study.” Frodo’s tone was mild but firm. “I’ll be there as soon as I show Menelcar to his room.”

Pippin nodded and went into the book-lined room where Frodo spent most of his time. He lit the lamps. Then he paced about the room restlessly, looking at the books on the shelves. Pausing in front of one shelf filled with tomes lettered in Elvish, in Bilbo’s or Frodo’s distinctive hands, he rubbed his left foot behind his right nervously. Frodo had never been this serious and stern with him before. For once, Pippin did not know what to expect from him.

_______________________________________________

Holding the candle aloft, Frodo led Menelcar down the passageway to a round door somewhat larger than the others.

“Here we are,” he said. “This is the room that the Wizard, Gandalf the Grey, uses when he comes to visit the Shire. I cannot imagine he would object to your using it in his absence.” He opened the door. “Watch yourself; there are steps here.”

Menelcar found himself looking into a high ceilinged room with a large Man-sized bed and chair, and several shelves and hooks on the walls. So this room was sometimes used by Gandalf the Grey. Amazing. He turned, with the candle in his hand and thanked his host.

Frodo smiled. “You’re welcome. It’s been nearly six years since Gandalf was last here, so I think it is about time it had someone to use it. I put water in the ewer before I headed down to The Dragon tonight, as well as putting out fresh soap and towels and linen on the bed. If there is anything else you need, please don’t hesitate to let me know.” He gave Menelcar a nod, and then went back down the passage.

The minstrel turned back to the room, and gazed longingly at the bed. He had not slept in a bed since Bree, when the innkeeper at The Prancing Pony had put him up. And he had to share that one with a tinker. He’d not had a bed to himself since--Rohan the last time? That marshal in the Eastfold had guested him. The Rohirrim were always respectful of bards. That had been a few years ago.

Well, as much as he wanted just to drop into the bed, he was first going to take advantage of the water and the wash basin.

_______________________________________________

“Pippin.”

Pippin jumped as if stung. He had been waiting for Frodo, yet it was a measure of his apprehension that he was still startled by his cousin’s voice.

He turned. “Well.” He spoke flatly.

“Sit down, love.” Frodo himself sat in his armchair by the fireplace, and Pippin sat on the footstool in front of him, looking up with his heart in his eyes.

Frodo sighed, and shook his head. “Shall I ask you what you were thinking, when you decided you would take off like this? Or did you think at all?”

“I *did* think, Frodo. I had almost decided not to go, but then--” tears welled up in his green eyes, and he explained the scene with his father. “He expects so much out of me. I *don’t* want to be Thain. I don’t want to tell other people what to do. I don’t--” his voice faltered “I don’t--” suddenly he burst into sobs, and launched himself into Frodo’s arms. Frodo let him cry for a while, patting him on the back, and making soothing sounds.

Finally, he said “Now Pip, tell me what it is that *really* bothers you about the idea of being Thain.”

Pippin’s face went white. He had never said it out loud before. He was almost afraid that if he said it out loud, it would make it happen. “For me to become Thain--” he shuddered, and then went on in a rush, “then Father would be *dead*!” There. He had said it. He put his hand over his mouth and swallowed his bile. The idea made him feel sick.

“Oh, Pip!” Frodo smoothed the coppery curls away from his brow. “That is the usual way of things, although, you know Ferumbras lived for a good long time after your father took office.” In fact, the old Thain had finally succumbed earlier that year, nearly ten years after he had bid the job good-bye.

“Yes, but he was miserable and sick for years, and that’s almost as bad as being dead! Why is Father in such a hurry for me to be Thain? Does he *want* to die?” This was his true terror--that being Thain was such a horrible job that his father wanted to die just to get out of it.

“Pippin, he is not in a hurry for you to be Thain. Hopefully, it will be years and years before he dies. But there is no way to be certain,” and Frodo’s blue eyes also clouded with pain. Pippin was suddenly reminded of how Frodo’s own parents had been snatched away so untimely . He’d never known them--they’d been dead for so many years before Pippin came along, that he sometimes forgot that Frodo had had a different life altogether long ago.

“Your father wants you to be prepared, is all. He doesn’t want you to flounder in uncertainty when the time comes. Do you remember the year your father became Thain?”

A faint smile illuminated the lad’s face. “I spent almost the entire year in Buckland. It was very nice.” He had been fifteen at the time, and a year in Merry’s company had been a true delight.

“It wasn’t very nice for your father. I know that he wanted you children out of the way while he dealt with all the unpleasantness involved when he took office. No one, I think, besides your father and mother, really knows the details of that time, but it was very uncomfortable. I think perhaps you should try asking him about it sometime. He does not want the job to catch you by surprise, and he wants you to begin to take the responsibilities involved seriously.”

“But I’m useless. I’m no good at telling people what to do. And I’m always making trouble. Why doesn’t he just forget about me and let Cousin Reggie have the job?”

“What makes you think Cousin Reggie wants the job either?”

That thought completely silenced the tweenager.

Frodo continued. “And what makes you say you are useless?”

“Oh, Frodo, you know I’m not that good at lessons. And I’m not clever like Merry about making things work, and planning and such.”

“You’re young yet, Pippin. You still have a lot to learn. But you are very good at a great many things. Look at how you had that crowd in the palm of your hand tonight!”

He smiled. “But you see, Frodo, that *is* what I’m good at! I thought that I could be a bard, and be a good one! And then people would like me because I could *do* something, and not just because I’m the son of the Thain and the baby of the family.”

“You know, I think that you would indeed make a good bard, and Menelcar obviously thought so, too. But sadly, that is not for you. You have a duty, however you may mislike it, to your family and the Shire. And even if you had no duty to be Thain, think how we all would miss you, Pippin-lad, especially Merry.”

“Merry doesn’t need me,” said Pippin sadly. “Father said I couldn’t go to Buckland because I’d be a burden to Merry, and he would be distracted from his duties by having to be my nurse-maid.”

Frodo, who had been feeling rather sorry for Paladin up until this point, felt a flare of anger. How dare Pippin’s father try to make his son doubt the bond between him and his cousin! “Let me show you something, Pip.” He eased the lad back down to the footstool and went over to his desk, where he took up his letter from Merry. “I got this letter from Merry just this morning. Read it please.”

Pippin took the letter with trembling fingers, and unfolded it. He read for a few minutes, and then gave a little gasp. Finally he stopped reading and looked up at Frodo. “Oh, my poor Merry!”

“Now, do you still think he doesn’t need you?”

Pippin shook his head, and read the letter again. “He’s going to make himself sick worrying about this silly ferry thing.”

“That’s because he has no one to take his mind off it.” Frodo gave Pippin a meaningful look.

Pippin looked up at his cousin again, tears once more threatening, but not for himself, this time. He shook his head sadly. “Father said I can’t go to him. He’ll be even angrier than ever.”

“Let me handle it, Pip. In the meantime, I’m asking Menelcar to spend a few days here, so that he can finish copying out Bilbo’s songs. He’s going to need some help with that job. I think you can do that.”

Pippin grimaced. He detested copying things out. But if it would help Menelcar, he guessed it wouldn’t be so bad. And it would give them some more time together. He hated the thought of losing his new friend so soon. He heaved a great sigh, and then yawned.

Frodo chuckled. “I think you are tired. You know where your room is. I didn’t have a chance to make it up for you, but you also know where the linens are. Off with you now and get some sleep. Tomorrow is another day.”

Pippin stood up and gave Frodo a little kiss on the cheek before taking himself off, candle in hand.

Frodo remained in the study for a few minutes. He had a letter to write to Pippin’s father. He should do that tonight, so that it could go out in the morning post. He hoped that Paladin would believe him, and not just think him a meddler. He couldn’t just take Pippin home this time; it had only been chance, if chance you could call it, that he had discovered the lad’s plans. If Menelcar had not come to him about Bilbo, the two of them might already be on the road out of the Shire. Frodo felt a chill run down his spine at the thought.

And until some of these ideas Pippin had were dealt with, there was always the chance that the *next* time he would be gone before anyone knew.

______________________________________________________

Paladin looked up thoughtfully from the letter that had just arrived from Bag End.

My dear Paladin--

As you no doubt know, your youngest has turned up at my hole again. I must tell you that he is far more agitated than usual this time, and there are other circumstances that I will be explaining to you in person later.

Suffice it to say that I do not think it wise to simply return him home this time. He might run off again, and not to me or to Meriadoc. That would be disastrous. Trust me when I say that this is a distinct possibility, and one that should be avoided.

I am asking you to allow me to take him on to Buckland. He needs to spend some time with Merry, and it will be good for Merry as well. Merry has become far too obsessed with his new duties for his own good.

I’ve given Pip a bit of a chore as a penance for his ill-thought-out behavior, and when that is done, I will escort him to Brandy Hall.

Please do not think I am sticking my nose into your business. I hope you realize I have only Pip’s best interest at heart.

Give my regards to Cousin Tina, and assure her I will take utmost care of her lad.

Your devoted cousin,

Frodo Baggins

Paladin sighed. He had allowed this to happen, allowed Pippin the option of foisting himself off on Frodo. So now if Frodo deemed this the best course of action, he supposed he would have to trust him. It stuck in his craw a bit, but that was his Tookish pride rearing it’s ugly head.

He took up a quill and began to write his response.

“My dear Frodo--

If you think it best to take the young scapegrace to Buckland, I will trust your judgment-- ”


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Chapter 11 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 11

The next morning it was very nearly time for elevenses when Pippin’s stomach woke him. His nose told him that food was being prepared. He followed his nose into the kitchen, where Sam stood over a hot stove.

“Good morning, Mr. Pippin,” said Sam, as he presided over a hot skillet filled with sausages, potatoes and onions.

“ ‘Morning, Sam.” The tweenager’s stomach rumbled, and he laughed. “Smells like first breakfast to me.”

Now it was Sam’s turn to laugh. “This is elevenses, Mr. Pippin.”

“I haven’t eaten yet today,” he replied, “so it’s first breakfast to me.”

“So,” said Frodo’s voice, as he too entered the kitchen, “are you going to be two meals behind all day, or do you plan to eat enough now to catch up?”

“The latter, I think,” replied Pippin airily, as he began to cut bread for toast.

Sam looked up at his master. “Is Mr. Menelcar going to eat with us? Maybe Mr. Pippin should go and wake him up?”

“Not necessary,” said a voice from the doorway. Ducking, Menelcar entered the kitchen, noting the cosy domesticity of the scene. “I am here.” He stood his tall self well out of the way of the three bustling hobbits, and watched in fascination.

Each of them was busy at some task, not even needing to ask what should be done. Sam was busily cooking, Pippin was making toast and setting out the butter crock, the jam jar, and the honey pot. Frodo made tea and then set the table. Menelcar noticed that he set out four places. Aside from Sam’s deferential manner of speech, there was nothing to show that one of these hobbits was the Master of Bag End, one the son of the Thain and one a gardener. In the kitchen, at least, they all appeared to be more or less equal. In fact, it seemed that Frodo and Pippin deferred to Sam as the cook. (“Sam, do you want me to fetch you a dish to serve that up in?” “Yes, thank you, Mr. Frodo. Mr. Pippin could you please go and get the cream?” “Of course, Sam. Do you need anything else from the larder?”)

Menelcar tried and failed, to imagine such a scene in the homes of noblemen in Minas Tirith. In fact, he could not even imagine it at all in any of the lands of men in which he had journeyed. Amazing.

Soon they all sat down to a hearty meal, Menelcar seated upon the floor between Pippin and Sam. He had eaten his fill long before any of the hobbits even began to slow down. Finally, all of the food was gone to the last crumb.

“Menelcar,” said Frodo, “I thought that Pippin might be of some assistance to you today in copying out more of Bilbo’s songs. He knows where the parchment, ink and quills are kept, and he has a neat hand when he takes his time--” he glanced over at his younger cousin, who looked a bit abashed. “so I hope that you will find him useful.”

“Why, thank you, Frodo,” for after a day’s acquaintance, they had soon been on a first name basis, “I will be glad of the help.” He could tell from Pippin’s expression, that this was to be a bit of punishment to Pippin for his poor judgment. But it seemed a light one to him, and he would be glad of the chance to spend more time in the young hobbit’s company.

Sam rose from his chair. “Well, Mr. Frodo, I need to get back out to the garden. Those roses are not going to dead head themselves.”

“Thank you for an excellent meal, Sam. I’ll call you in when luncheon is ready.” He turned to Pippin. “Now, off with you to help Menelcar here, and use your best hand. Leave the clearing up to me; I’m going to start luncheon.”

Menelcar blinked. They had just finished eating, and Frodo was planning to start cooking lunch already?

He and Pippin retreated to the study, and soon had busied themselves with the task of writing out Bilbo’s songs. Pippin took one volume, and Menelcar the other. Occasionally, Pippin would break off, to hum snatches of his favorites. The bard was pleased to discover there were at least three tunes for “Upon the Hearth,” and “The Road Goes Ever On,” and two for “Ho, Ho, Ho to the Bottle I go”. The lad was able to teach him the tunes to most of them in fact.

After lunch they returned to the task, but then broke it off, to fetch their instruments and practice a couple of the songs together. Frodo, who had at first felt a bit put out with himself for giving his study over to them, was enjoying the impromptu concert, and went in to sit and listen. They took tea there in the study.

After tea, they went to The Ivy Bush, for another evening of playing and singing. Word had gone out that the minstrel had returned, and that Mr. Peregrin Took was singing with him. The resulting crowd was gratifying to the innkeeper, and in addition to his usual patrons, there were a number of hobbitesses who came in as well, for the music. The evening became quite jolly, and there was dancing as well, with willing hobbit hands to push the tables back. A few other hobbits who played instruments had brought them along, and Menelcar found himself leading a small band consisting of his harp and Pippin’s fiddle, as well as a flute, a lute, a tambour and a small drum. The flute player was especially good, a lad named Folco, who seemed to be quite a good friend of Frodo’s.

The next four days passed much the same; the musicians alternating the evenings between The Ivy Bush and The Green Dragon, and the crowds were larger each night.

On the second day, Frodo received his reply from Paladin, and Pippin was overjoyed that at last he would be seeing his much-missed cousin Merry.

He danced about the smial in excitement, nearly knocking Frodo over with an enthusiastic hug, and could scarcely be constrained to settle down to an afternoon of copying.

The fourth day, Frodo lent his own neat hand to the task, and shortly before teatime, the last of Bilbo’s verses was transferred to parchment. The resulting stack was quite impressive, and Menelcar was wondering how he was going to stow it. Frodo provided him with a satchel of oilcloth.

“I suggest,” he said, “that when you can, you go to a bookbinder, and have them bound into volumes. They will be much easier to care for that way.”

Menelcar nodded. He didn’t say so, but that would be an expensive proposition. Still, at some point he might have the coin to do that.

They spent the last evening singing and playing at The Green Dragon, to their largest crowd yet.

Menelcar was accompanying Pippin on the harp, as they sang one of Bilbo’s lesser known songs. It was a chilling thing, and somber. It was in a minor key, and in Pippin’s clear voice, it riveted the attention of the listeners.

“There was a man who dwelt alone,
as day and night went past
he sat as still as carven stone,
 
   and yet no shadow cast.
The white owls perched upon his head
   beneath the winter moon;
They wiped their beaks and thought him dead
   under the stars of June.

There came a lady clad in grey
 
in the twilight shining:
One moment she would stand and stay,
 
   her hair with flowers entwining.
He woke, as had he sprung of stone,
 
   and broke the spell that bound him;
he clasped her fast, both flesh and bone,
   and wrapped her shadow round him.

At the end of the second verse, Menelcar’s harp fell silent, and Pippin’s voice carried the song on alone.

There never more she walks her ways
  by sun or moon or star;
she dwells below where neither days
 
   nor any nights there are.
But once a year when caverns yawn
   and hidden things awake,
they dance together then till dawn
   and a single shadow make.(1)

Pippin’s voice trailed off, into a silence that was just as gratifying as applause, and then scarcely giving any time, Menelcar changed the mood with a livelier tune.

Frodo and Sam were standing near the door, scarcely able to see the performance for the crowd, when Frodo heard an unexpected voice behind him. “He really is quite good, isn’t he?”

“Paladin?”

“I heard the rumors. I had to come see for myself. I certainly did not expect this.” His voice was a bit rueful. He was caught between pride at the sight and sound of his radiant son, who with his minstrel friend was the focus of all attention, and irritation at not having been made aware of this ahead of time.

Frodo gestured, and he and Paladin stepped outside.

Menelcar’s and Pippin’s voices followed, singing the jolly strains of “Perry-the-Winkle,” a comic song about a lonesome troll.

“I had planned to come to you after we had been to Buckland. Do you have any idea of what your son was planning to do?”

“Aside from making a spectacle of himself for all the Shire?” Paladin shook his head. “It’s not the kind of behavior I would have expected you to encourage. Merry, maybe, but not you.”

Frodo gave his older cousin the kind of look that Bilbo often had used when he thought others were being particularly dense; with Frodo’s piercing blue eyes it was even more effective.

“Paladin, he had planned to run off with this minstrel. To leave the Shire. It was only by chance I was able to find out and stop him.”

Paladin’s face grew red. “And you let the creature hang about still? Why didn’t you turn him over to the Shirriffs to be escorted *out* of the Shire?”

“Because *he* didn’t do anything wrong. He had no idea, because Pippin did not tell him, that Pip was underage and had no right to do such a thing. Men do not age the same way that hobbits do, so when Pip told him he was twenty-five, he thought the lad was an adult. He was properly appalled when I told him the truth. And he is very fond of Pippin. You know how Pip can do that.”

Paladin breathed hard for a moment, and allowed his temper to pass; in truth, he did know how his son had a knack for wrapping even strangers around his little finger.

Frodo was silent for a second, allowing the Thain to regain his composure, before he spoke again, this time in very solemn tones, “Do you know that Pippin is *frightened* by the idea of becoming Thain?”

“Frightened?” Paladin shook his head. That the lad did not want responsibility was obvious, but fear?

“Let’s walk a bit.”

The two strolled down the darkened street of Bywater, and Frodo repeated Pippin’s confession. When Frodo came to the part where Pippin had finally admitted what was bothering him, Paladin stopped and stared. It had never occurred to him *why* Pippin never seemed to want to talk about his prospects.

“He is terrified of losing you; and he does not understand why you constantly remind him of his future as Thain. To him, it indicates your impatience to be rid of the job.”

Paladin found himself blinking away tears. He’d no idea what had been going on in his son’s head. How could the child have had such a wrong idea?

“I can see that I may have to tell him some things that I had rather not.” He sighed. The two hobbits turned, and listened to a sudden burst of laughter coming from the inn.

“I’d like to go back and listen some more; I don’t often get a chance to hear him like this.”

“Will you come back to Bag End with us tonight?”

“No, I don’t think so. I will stay here tonight, and go back to Tuckborough in the morning. Don’t disturb Peregrin with news of my presence. He can have a nice long visit with Merry, and by the time he comes home, perhaps I will know what to say to him.”

Frodo nodded, and they returned to The Dragon. Paladin kept himself toward the back of the crowd, well out of his son’s line of sight, and listened in amazement and pride.

The two singers had begun a rather silly children’s song Menelcar had learned in Dale. It was one he thought that hobbits would appreciate.

“There was a farmer, lived in a dell,
Hey ho, to the dairy we go!
He took a wife, her name was Nell.
Hey ho, to the dairy we go!
His wife she had a wee little lad,
Hey ho, to the dairy we go!
Sometimes he was good, sometimes he was bad.
Hey ho, to the dairy we go!” (2)

The song continued on its merry way through any number of characters, and several of the hobbits had begun to dance to the jolly tune.

Frodo had not noticed when the Thain had slipped away; he turned to look, and Paladin was gone. But he was glad that Pippin’s father had got a chance to see and hear his son at his best.

__________________________________________________________

The next morning they awakened early. In spite of a late night, and very little sleep, Pippin, Menelcar and Frodo were eager to be on their way. Frodo had hired ponies, and they planned to spend the night at The Floating Log in Frogmorton. Since word had gone out ahead of them, there was likely to be quite a crowd there that night.

The evening there was a great success, and the innkeeper tried to persuade them to stay one more night, but they insisted they needed to be on their way, and right after first breakfast they headed on their way. Frodo was eager to get to Brandy Hall, so they decided to take a little used track that cut to the south, and joined the Stock road near Woodhall. From there they would make their way to Bucklebury.

It was mid-afternoon when they approached the location of the ferry. Pippin saw a group of hobbits busy with construction work around the dock there on the western bank, and as soon as he spotted the sun glinting golden off a set of sandy curls, he urged his pony into a gallop.

Hearing the sound of swift hooves, Merry glanced up, to see Pippin bearing down, and his face lit up into a grin. Pippin pulled the pony to a stop and fairly flew from its back and into his cousin’s arms.

“Merry!” he crowed.

“Pip!” cried Merry, laughing and breathless, as they hugged and pounded one another on the back. “What in the world are you doing here? I thought Uncle said you couldn’t come!”

Frodo and Menelcar had trotted up almost unnoticed. “I’m afraid that’s my doing, cousin.” He, too, got down from the pony and joined in the hug.

“Well, I don’t know how you did it, Fro, but bless you!”

Menelcar looked on, feeling a bit like an intruder; but Pippin pulled away from Merry and went over. “Come *on*, Menelcar! I want you to meet my Merry!”

End Notes:

(1) From The Tolkien Reader, “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil”, poem #13, “The Shadow Bride”

(2) Adapted from the well known children’s game, “The Farmer in the Dell”

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Chapter 12 by Dreamflower

CHAPTER 12

Menelcar stayed a week at Brandy Hall. The Master and Mistress put him up, giving him a pallet in one of the guest rooms. He spent the day wandering about Buckland, sometimes with Pippin and Merry, sometimes with Frodo, but often on his own. The hobbits of Buckland were not nearly so shy of him as those in the Shire proper had been, and he often found himself at the center of gaggles of tiny hobbit children, who demanded songs.

In the evenings, he and Pippin performed to much acclaim in the main dining room of the Hall.

Merry took a break from working on the ferry for a day, and when he went back to the job, it was with a fresh mind, and the determination to delegate some of the job. Suddenly, he seemed to see his way clear, and he realized that he did not have to supervise every single board and post, and that perhaps perfection was impossible. And when he did work on it personally, he had Pip at his side, curious and sometimes helpful with his observations.

But when Frodo had confided in him what had very nearly happened, Merry had been appalled.

“He was going to leave the Shire? With that Man? Frodo, how could he have thought to do that to us?”

“Well, unfortunately, he and Paladin were butting heads again. And somehow, Paladin had made him think that he was a burden to you, so he thought he’d spare you the nuisance of his presence.”

Merry rolled his eyes. “Daft Tooks. All of them. Uncle Paladin ought to know better than that after all these years. And Pippin ought to know better than to believe him.”

“Your mother’s a Took.”

“Not anymore. She had the good sense to marry a Brandybuck.”

Frodo chuckled. “A poor excuse for trying to get out of being half Took, I’d say.”

Merry gave his older cousin a little swat to the back of his head. “Well, anyway, Pip’s as Tookish as they come.”

And Frodo nodded his agreement. They didn’t come any more Tookish than Pippin.

_________________________________________________

On Menelcar’s last day, he and Pippin walked by the Brandywine. “I wish you could stay in the Shire longer, Menelcar. I’m going to miss you dreadfully.”

“I know, Pippin. I’m going to miss you as well. You know I had quite looked forward to having you go with me.”

Pippin looked away, a bit abashed. “I’m sorry. I should never have told you I could come. But, oh, it would have been *lovely*!”

“It would indeed, until you became homesick. I have seen you here, with your cousins. I do not think that you would thrive very well away from them for long.” From observation, Menelcar had come to the conclusion that hobbits needed to be around other hobbits. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, and even the adults were far more moved to laughter, tears and embraces than were Men. Pippin, he realized now, would soon have wilted away from other hobbits, especially those he loved most.

“I suppose,” said Pippin. “I’ve always wanted to go on adventures like old Bilbo did, but I always wanted Merry and Frodo to come, too.”

“Well, perhaps that might yet happen.” Though Menelcar doubted it. He thought that the Thain would be keeping a sharp eye on his heir from here on out.

__________________________________________________

That evening in the main dining hall, after an especially fine late supper, the tables were pushed back to make room for music. In addition to Pippin and Menelcar, Esmeralda had brought forth her own fiddle, a fine instrument that had been a gift from old Bilbo at his last Birthday Party. Merry’s cousin Doderic had a crumhorn, and his other cousin Berilac had a drum. The music rang out and filled the Hall.

Menelcar sang several songs of the south, including the rousing song about when the King returned; then he and Pippin sang some of Bilbo’s songs, and then Pippin sang a Buckland favorite:

The water runs free, laddie, laddie,
Comes now Mistress Spring,
Lifting up her pretty flowered skirts
To dance in the stream.
Laddie, come sing now, come sing.

The water runs low, laddie, laddie,
Comes now Mistress summer
With her skirts sky blue and grassy green,
To wander so slow.
Laddie, come sing now, come sing.

The water runs chill, laddie, laddie,
Comes now Mistress Autumn
Turning leaves to gold and scarlet flame,
As she wends her sweet will.
Laddie, come sing now, come sing.  

The water stands still, Laddie, sparkling
Jewels for Mistress Winter
With her bright skirts of snowy white,
Sweeping over the hill
Laddie, come sing now, come sing. (1)

Then they sang another song of Buckland, about the legendary Old Tom Bombadil, who lived in the Old Forest, and boated upon the Withywindle.

And then, alternating verses, they sang a song of birds:

Hi! says the blackbird, sitting on a chair,
Once I courted a lady fair;
She proved fickle and turned her back,
And ever since then I’m dressed in black.  

Hi! says the blue jay as she flew,
If I was a young man I’d have two;
If one proved fickle and chanced for to go,
I’d have a new string to my bow.

Hi! Says the little leather winged bat,
I will tell you the reason that
The reason that I fly in the night
Is because I lost my heart’s delight.

The song went on for several more verses, each detailing how a different bird had been jilted or spurned by his lady-love. Finally it concluded

Hi! Says the robin with a little squirm,
I wish I had a great big worm;
I would fly away into my nest;
I have a wife I think is best. (2)

Then, with only Menelcar’s harp, and Pippin’s fiddle they played a sad, slow melody, that soared sweetly and hauntingly through the hall. The fire had died, the candles burned low, and heads were leaning against loved ones. As the notes died away, Menelcar stopped playing, and with his voice alone, sang one last song.

Now Lords and Ladies blithe and bold,
To bless you here now am I bound;
I thank you all a thousand-fold
And pray you shall be whole and sound;
Wherever you go on grass or ground.
May it so be that nought you grieve,
For friendship that I have here found
Against my will I take my leave.

For friendship and for favours good,
For meat and drink you heaped on me,
A stranger who among you stood,
Now keep you comely company.
On sea or land where’er you be
May it so be that nought you grieve.
Such fair delight you laid on me
Against my will I take my leave.

Against my will although I wend,
I may not always tarry here
For everything must have an end.
And even friends must part, I fear;
Be we beloved however dear
Out of the world death will us reave,
And when we brought are to our bier
Against our will we take our leave.

Now good day to you, goodmen all,
And good day to you, young and old,
And good day to you , great and small,
And grammercy a thousand fold!
If ought there were that dear ye hold,
Full fain I would the deed achieve
Now may you be kept from sorrows cold
For now at last I take my leave. (3)

There was not a dry eye in the Hall; Pippin’s tears were falling freely down his face, and he turned to embrace the minstrel, who had all he could do to finish the song before he too had succumbed to tears.

_________________________________________

In the grey light of morning, Pippin stood, with his cousins by his side, and waved good-bye to Menelcar, and to his dreams of the life of a bard.

End Notes:

(1) From “The Shire Songbook” by Lindelea, found on Stories of Arda, and used by permission

(2) Folksong “The Bird Song” found at http://www.contemplator.com/child/birdsong.html

(3) Adapted from “Gawain’s Leave Taking” found in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien

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