“I am going to cut straight across country from here.” * Frodo announced.
“Then you are going to fly.” * I had replied with little enthusiasm.
I shook my head at the memory, still amazed at my older cousin’s decision to head off the road and into the woods and fields. Frodo knows the land here ‘bouts as well as I do; better most likely. Yet off he leads the three of us down a steep bank and into some of the worst brambles I’ve ever encountered.
And this is just the start of it all. We’re still in the Shire.
A sudden shiver jolts through me in spite of how warm I’m feeling. It’s muggy down here where no breeze can get in. We’d spotted a horse and rider silhouetted against the sky at the top of the ridge we came down before entering this wretched tangled woods and it’s re-awakened my fear. I had been frightened enough by the Black Riders but the look on the faces of Gildor and the other Elves when I asked about them had done nothing but confirm my sinking feelings. I had hoped they’d been chased further off because of the Elves.
Obviously, they had not.
I let a heavy sigh escape me followed by a wry grin. At least that sigh wouldn’t be revealing to Frodo. He would just take it as me being hot, tired and displeased with him over having to fight our way through this clutching undergrowth. And that’s another thing; it isn’t being at all easy to keep up my cheerful, cares-to-the-wind attitude with all that was already going amiss. But if I don’t keep up my pretense . . .
No choice at all there. It would not do at all for Frodo to get the slightest hint that I know what’s up. Just stick to the plan, Pippin lad. We’ll be telling him everything when we get to Crickhollow. I can do this. It’s just one more performance to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, and Frodo has always been wonderfully susceptible to my skills.
There! I see an ending to this tangled mess we’ve been slogging through.
“Why, this is the Stock-brook, Frodo! If we are going to try and get back on to our course, we must cross at once and bear right.” *
Frodo gives me a nod then we wade across the stream as gusts of wind stir the leaves of the oaks in the band of woods on the far side of the brook. Rain begins to fall but my spirits are rising. We’re in the Shire. I’m on an adventure. We’ll soon be meeting up with Merry and Freddy at Crickhollow and I’m sure they’ll have a good dinner awaiting us.
I just might be cut out for this sort of thing after all.
Chapter End Notes:
* From the chapter "Short Cut To Mushrooms", The Fellowship of the Ring.