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Chapter 3††††††† Hide!†††††††††††
Well, so you finally made it," Paladin Took greeted them in the front hall as they entered Tuckborough. Merry always found it a bit too formal. Everything here was made of something breakable. How had Pippin managed to grow up around all of this glass-wear? How was there any of this glass-wear left? Merry supposed that because Pippinís family lived at Whitwell most of the time, some of this stuff had been saved, but still he wondered.
"My, donít you lads look all grown up?" Paladin smiled.
"Yes, well, youíve seen nothing as of yet," Bilbo said proudly as Frodoís heart went into his throat. "Wait until Frodo puts on his vest for the evening."
Paladin looked interested. "Oh, something new?"
"No, very old actually. A bit of a family heirloom if you will," Bilbo said, brimming with pride. Frodo saw Merry trying to hold off a bout of the giggles and gave him a warning look.
"Why donít we go and see if we can find Pippin?" Frodo suggested.
"Oh, heíll be down in a bit. His sisters are probably trying to get him into something suitable for this evening," Paladin said, waving a hand.
Frodo watched as Merry frowned. Merry thought that Pippinís sisters took too much interest in the ladís manners and clothes. If left unchecked, they would make an affected little sissy out of his Pip. Frodo, on the other hand thought that it might be quite nice to have a house full of adoring sisters. As an only child, he always felt he was missing something. Merry, on the other hand, was the perfect only child. He had no use for sisters and he had adopted Pippin and Frodo as substitute brothers so he was happy. Still, at times, Frodo envied Pippin.
Pervinca smiled and stood. She admired her handiwork. She was a very talented seamstress after all and this was some of her best work! Right under Pearlís nose too! That made it even better. Now, it was going to become better still. "Turn around here, Pippin."
Pippin turned slowly on the wobbly stool and faced his sister who was standing there, smiling. It was that funny smile that she usually got when she was up to something. This was not a good sign. "What did you do?" Pippin demanded.
"Why I did exactly what I said I was going to do and you were a very big help, little brother," Pervinca said, putting her hands behind her back and swaying with pride.
"I was?" Pippin asked, feeling like his stomach might roll over. No, she was up to something.
As if on cue, Pervinca moved over to the bed, picked up Pippinís trousers and started for the door.
"Oy! What are you doing?" Pippin demanded in a quavering voice.
"Teaching you a lesson and getting out of wearing that silly frock all at the same time!" His older sister explained as she opened the door a bit.
"Vince, this isnít funny! Give me my trousers!" Pippin roared. "What did you do to this dress?"
He reached around to try and get the buttons lose, but was having trouble reaching them. Also when he tried to unfasten them, they didnít seem to move. He was starting to panic. "Vincia!"
"I am a very good seamstress, Pip squeak! In fact I think I have gone and sewed you right into that party dress," she smiled, wickedly.
Pippin started to move forward and tipped the stool over landing soundly on his rump on the floor. The red frock spread itself around him like a fan. "Vincia, Iím telling if you donít get me out of this now!"
"Fine, you do that, Pip. You come out of this room in that frock with a house full of guests and you tell." She was grinning so broadly now that she looked as if her face might split.
"Vincia! Please, donít leave me in this!" Pippin wailed and got to his feet. He would tackle her and demand that she get†him out of this†dress! As he moved toward her, she stuck her head out into the hall and called out, "Hullo, Frodo, Merry. So glad that you could come. Have you seen Pippin yet?"
Pippin changed course and dove under Pervincaís bed. He couldnít let Frodo and Merry see him in this thing. Merry would never let him forget this. The teasing would be unbearable. He would have to stay hidden.
Smiling, Pervinca walked out into the empty hall. Pippin was so easy to fool. It was almost a shame. Almost.
Frodo was standing with his back to the wall of the greatball room at Tuckborough and hoping that no one he knew would see him. The vest looked dreadful. He really did look like a flower garden! Bilbo had drug him about showing off the vest and regaling anyone he could locate with tales of his dear mother who had been a Took. Frodo sighed. Merry was right. None of the Tooks had any taste. Bilboís mother couldnít help it as she had been a Took.
"Do you suppose that Bilbo was beaten up a great deal as a lad?" Merry asked.
"I would guess that he was if he dressed like this all of the time," Frodo answered.
"Iím going to go and get something to eat and maybe check for Estella. You want to come?" Merry asked.
"Iím not risking it. I think Iíll just try to stay out of sight," Frodo said, backing closer to the wall. "Oh, and Merry?"
"If you run into Pippin, donít tell him where I am," Frodo said, nervously.
"Right you are, Frodo. He might like the vest and want to show you off," Merry grinned.
"I will get even with you†for all of this, Merry," Frodo warned.
"I know, but frankly itís too much fun teasing you to worry about the payback part just now," Merry winked and walked toward the crowd near the table. Frodo found a small curtained off alcove and slipped into it.
Pippin crawled out from under Pervincaís bed and caught sigh of himself in the mirror. This was just awful! He looked like an idiot! Here he was a prisoner in this evil red frock. Somewhere there was food and music and Merry and Frodo, but he had to stay out of sight. He was starting to get hungry and that was clouding his judgment a bit.
This part of the smial would be empty now as everyone would be at the party so he might be able to get out of this room and , and , then what? Where could he go like this? He had to get help with this dress and he had to get revenge on Pervinca! If he could make it to one of the small hallways and get to the party area, he might be able to find Frodo or Merry. No, he didnít want them to see him in this, but at least he could count on them, after a bit of teasing to get him out of it. If anyone sees me, I will never live this down, though. The dress makes me look like a lass, but this is still my face and my hair. I can't go out because someone will recognize me.
Pippin sank onto the bed to think. The dress was a bit too tight and he noticed for the first time that it had a huge bow in the back! Lovely! Wait, what was that? Something on the dresser had caught his eye. He got up to inspect it and found that it was a big straw hat with some sort of red berries around the rim and a red bow that tired under the chin. Pippin picked the hat up and tried it on. It hid most of his hair and at the right angle it hid his face! If he put this thing on and tied it and then kept his head down, he might be able to go and get help. If he could find his mum, she would purely kill Pervinca for dressing him like a lass. She would also kill Pervinca for not wearing this dress! Pippin didnít blame his sister for not wanting to wear this thing. It was rather ugly and uncomfortable, but this was a rather nice hat. Pippin what are you thinking?
Frodo watched Merry flirt and dance from his hidden corner. He was having a dreadful time, but he was safe from prying eyes. If only he had just had the nerve to tell Bilbo how he felt! Yes if only you had decided to break his heart, then you would be dancing with the lasses also. No, he had done the right thing no matter how painful it had been. Everyone that Bilbo had showed him off to had also been polite. Paladin Took and Saradoc Brandybuck had both nearly laughed, Frodo was sure, but each had managed not to in the final minutes.
Frodo saw Merry go gliding by with Estella Bolger and knew that at least one hobbit was having a good time at this party. That was very ironic as Merry was the one that had been dreading this thing. Frodo had been looking forward to it until Bilbo had decided to gift him with the flowered vest. Frodo supposed that Bilbo was also having a good time reminiscing about his dear mother and showing off her stitching at Frodoís expense. Yes, Bilbo and Merry were quite happy.
On the other hand, Fatty Bolger didnít look at all pleased. Frodo noticed that Fatty had been watching Merry and Estella for some time now. Fatty would split them up if he could and probably soon. If he hadnít been wearing this vest, Frodo would have gone out and gladly run interference for Merry and Estella, but as it was, Merry was on his own.†
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