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Chapter 1 Party Clothes
"Explain to me again why we are going to this thing?" Merry groaned. The Brandybuck was stretched out on the bed in Frodoís room and he showed little sign of moving. In fact, he looked quite comfortable.
"Because, you retched, complaining, lazy lad, they are family and it is a family party," Frodo laughed as Merry held his nose and pretended to smell something foul.
"I donít mind that they are family, but they simply canít throw a party without getting me into trouble or boring me out of my mind!" Merry said still holding his nose so that he sounded as if he had a terrible cold. "Why do you suppose that is?" He said this last having let go of his nose.
"Maybe you just arenít a good party guest?" Frodo shrugged. He turned his back on Merry and began trying to select a vest to wear that evening.
Merry sighed. "At least it will be over by this time tomorrow. Oh, and I am a wonderful party guest if it is a decent party."
"Honestly, Merry. Youíd think we were going to take you out somewhere and beat you! Itís a party and there will be lasses there you know. You might find one that you can stand and that can stand you," Frodo teased. His cousin had no trouble finding and interesting the young lasses of the Shire. Since Merry had become interested in the lasses, they had seemed to follow him around at these parties. Merry usually had his pick of them.
"I canít wear this thing!" Pervinca wailed holding up a red frock with small white dots on it. "I will be laughed at by everyone at the party!"
"Thatís really nothing new, Vince," Pippin grinned, sitting down on his sisterís bed.
"Pippin! Behave or go away," Pearl said, in that stern motherly voice that she could use quite well. "Darling, you donít really have much choice do you?" Pearl asked her younger sister.
"Sure she does, Pearl. She could just not go," Pippin smiled and leaned back on the bed.
"One more word, Pippin and I am going to see to it that you have to eat without any teeth!" Pervinca growled leaning over her younger brother and waving a fist in his face. This seemed to work much better than Pearlís method. Pervinca had hit Pippin before and the memory of it made him pause. Pearl was less of a threat when it came down to it. The nineteen-year-old lad knew how to get on Pearlís good side but as far as he knew, Pervinca didnít have a good side.
"Mother is not being fair! This looks like something that an old maid would wear to tea right before dying." Pervinca sighed hanging the dress in question from the top of her wardrobe. Pervinca put her hands on her hips and glared at the dress. At twenty-four she was becoming quite a fair looking lass, but she still had the manners of a spoiled child.
"This looks quite wonderful on you my lad," Bilbo was saying as Merry tried not to laugh at his older cousin.
"Are you sure it isnít too big, Uncle?" Frodo suggested in a hopeful tone.
"Why nonsense, lad. It fits you quite well. Donít you think it looks quite stylish, Merry?" Bilbo said turning to Merry who was now sitting on the bed grinning.
"I really do, Bilbo," Merry agreed and Frodo shot him a look of death from behind Bilboís back.
"Maybe Merry should wear this waistcoat then. After all I am quite sure that you only have the one." Frodo suggested and as Bilbo turned to Frodo, Merryís eyes widened in horror. Letís see you charm the lasses of the Shire in this Frodo thought.
"Iím afraid that it wonít fit Merry. He is a bit too stout for it," Bilbo said.
"Stout?" Merry frowned and proceeded to stand and look down at his stomach. He was not stout, he was just a proper Brandybuck and the Brandybucks were sturdy.
Frodo grinned as he watched Merry preening and trying to determine if there was any truth in what Bilbo had said. Bilboís next words wiped the smile right off of Frodoís face. "It is nice of you to want to share with your cousin, Frodo my lad, but it would please me a great deal to have you wear one of my treasured old waistcoats."
"Then I shall be honored to do so," Frodo said. He tried to sound honored in spite of the fact that he felt as if heíd been cursed. The waistcoat was quite awful and he would probably frighten ponies if he stood too near them, never mind lasses. No he was going to be spending the evening in a very dark corner hoping no one noticed him much. He would have to wear it as he couldnít hurt Bilbo, but he wouldnít enjoy it.
"Now, Pervinca, you know that it will hurt Aunt Opalís feelings if you didnít wear it. You have no choice," Pearl said, trying to sound sympathetic.
"Well, why did she make me a frock with such a high neck line? It has a ruffled collar that will completely hide, well, hide everything," Pervinca groaned as she looked down at her chest then over at her older sister.
"I doubt anything will hide all of that, Vince," Pippin grinned, sitting up on the bed.
"Donít you have anything at all to do?" Pervinca demanded. "I mean didnít some member of the family make you something dreadful to wear to this dance?"
"Nope. Guess Iím not anyoneís favorite," Pippin sighed, trying to look hurt and failing.
"Well, it is probably because youíre so skinny that they didnít think youíd look good in much of anything," Pervinca suggested.
"I am not skinny!" Pippin objected, standing and looking at himself in his sisterís mirror.
Pearl smiled and Pervinca was now in charge. "You could slide through the slats in a picket fence, Pippin!" Pervinca said, "Without touching the posts."
"I could not and thatís not very nice," Pippin growled. This would have been true had he not been the one to start all of this by torturing his older sister first. As it was, she had every right to get even if she could. Calling Pippin skinny was just the way too. He was quite sensitive about being so thin.
"You could have helped me you know," Frodo hissed at Merry after Bilbo had left the room.
"What would be the fun in that?" Merry grinned. "Besides, he was going to get you all along. You know you never can refuse him anything."
"Well, itís just that he has been so good to me and he really doesnít ask for much in return," Frodo explained.
"Well, then you should be honored to wear a brightly flowered waistcoat that was hand stitched by Bilboís mother to the Tookís boring party," Merry said, patting Frodo on the shoulder.
"Get away from me you stout hobbit," Frodo returned.
Merry frowned. "Frodo do you really think Iím too heavy?" Merry was looking at himself in the mirror now.
Frodo smiled. "No, Merry, Iím only teasing." Frodo enjoyed teasing Merry but he didnít want to make the lad self-conscious before the dance. He would find a way to get even for Merryís lack of support on this waistcoat issue later.
"What are you wearing?" Frodo asked suddenly trying to change the subject.
"Well, whatever it is no one will notice once they get a gander at that," Merry smiled, patting Frodo on the vwaistcoat. "You just better hope Sam doesnít see you in it and try to water you. He might mistake you for a flower garden." Merry smirked.
"I take it back. You are very stout. In fact, if you were any stouter youíd look like some sort of melon with a head!" Frodo shot back. "I do look like a flower garden donít I?"
"A very ugly flower garden, Iím afraid," Merry nodded.
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