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Chapter 7†††† Crime and Punishment
"How you feeling, Pip?" Merry asked as he entered Pippinís bedroom along with Frodo.
"Better, but it still itches!" Pippin sighed, scratching at his neck which was covered in tiny, red welts. "The healer says Iím allergic to something that Vinceís dress is made from."
Merry smiled and shook his head. "This is it and I am giving you fair warning in front of Frodo, Pip." Merry said sitting down on the bed.
"Fair warning 'bout what Merry?" Pippin asked. He was scratching at his waist now.
"I am never coming to another one of this Took parties!" Merry declared. "There I have said it and I am glad."
"I didnít have a very good time either, Merry, but we have to keep trying," Pippin said, as he squirmed a bit and scratched at his arm which Frodo noticed was also broken out.
"Why do we have to keep trying, Pip? I mean do you really want to go through something like this again next year? Remember the bees, Pip? Remember he year that you and I got stung and the year that the table collapsed and the cake fell on my, well, you remember. How can you suggest that we keep trying?" Merry asked, running a hand through Pippins hair.
"Well, I have to you know and it will be awfully lonely without you and Frodo," Pippin smiled at his older cousins.
"It pains me to do it, but I will be here again next year Pippin," Frodo assured him and Pippin smiled.
"Thank you, Frodo. Come on, Merry. You did get to dance with Estella Bolger and folks at least think you were dancing with another lass," Pippin grinned.
"I donít want to talk about that, Pippin," Merry growled.
Pippin nodded and scratched his other arm. The poor hobbit was miserable. Pippin sank back into the covers and yawned, still scratching. "They gave me something for this itching and they put something in my bath, but I donít think itís working very good."
"Give it time." Frodo suggested. "Youíll probably be fine by morning."
"I hope so," Pippin sighed.
"Well, tell us," Merry prodded.
"Tell you what?" Pippin frowned.
"What did they do to Pervinca?" Merry asked.
Pippin yawned and scratched and then yawned again. It was obvious that he had been given something to make him sleep. "Youíll know when you see her at breakfast tomorrow." Pippin said between yawns and then drifted off to sleep.
As Frodo and Merry turned the corner in the hall on their way to their own beds, they ran into Paladin Took.
"Hullo, Uncle," Merry said, head down and still feeling†embarrassed†about†dancing with Pippin.
"Just on our way to bed and we stopped in to check on Pippin," Frodo said.
"How is he?" Paladin asked.
"He fell asleep while we were there, but he has quite a rash and is very itchy from something in the material of that dress," Frodo explained.
Paladin sighed. "Gentlemen, I need your help."
"How so, Uncle?" Frodo asked and Merry looked up curiously.
"We have to keep that lad away from his sisters for a while before they completely ruin him."
"I have thought that too." Merry agreed before Paladin could get a breath.
"Good, because I am hoping to send Pippin to Buckland to spend a month or so. You will look out for him wonít you, Merry?" Paladin asked.
"Of course." Merry said. He was pleased to be getting Pippin for a while without the lasses. He knew that Pippin would be pleased also.
"Oh, and Merry?" Paladin said, as he turned to go, "I am not under any circumstances letting him take that hat with him."
Merry groaned and Frodo broke into a laugh. "You are evil, Frodo Baggins."
"Yes, but so are you, Merry. Pippin is the sweet one, remember?" Frodo smiled.
The next morning Pippin was less itchy and able to come to breakfast. The healer said that it might take a couple of days for the rash to go away, but it was already much improved.
As the three lads were devouring their breakfasts, Pearl and Pervinca entered and sat down and Merry and Frodo had to smile. Pearl gave them warning looks in a protective older sister way so neither of them said anything. Pervincia had her head down and was looking very glum. She was wearing the red party dress with the white dots. It seems that Eglantine Took felt that the punishment should fit the crime and Pervinca had been sentenced to wear the evil red dress for an entire week!
They ate in silence until finally Pervinca spoke. "Pippin?"
"Yes?" Pippin looked up from his breakfast at his sister.
"I am sorry about the rash at least," Pervinca offered. It was as close to an apology as she was likely to come and Pippin smiled.
"Itís better, Vince," Pippin said, "Besides, now father is worried that you lasses are ruining me and so he is letting me spend the whole month with Merry at Buckland!" Pippin grinned even wider.
"It seems that I did you a bit of a favor then," Pervinca smiled and Merry choked on his eggs.
"Oh, yes, Vince," Pippin agreed. "But next time, show me how to tie the bow on the hat. I couldnít quite get that bit."
"I think father is right," Pearl groaned.
Pippin grinned. "Iím teasing, Pearl. The next time I want a hat without a bow." He laughed at his sister's expressions.
"Honestly, Pippin," Pearl said.
"Vince?" Pippin said, suddenly.
"You do seem to fill it out a bit better at the top than I did," Pippin grinned wickedly at his sister.
Frodo and Merry hid their†smirks as best they could.
"You best watch. You have to come home sometime," Pervinca reminded him.
As they were leaving for Buckland, Merry and Frodo watched as Pippin went over to his mother and had a long talk with her which left her kissing his cheek and shaking her head in disbelief.
Once they were in the wagon, Frodo turned to Pippin and asked. "What did you say to your mother just now?"
"Oh, well, I just told her that I thought it would be good if she didnít make Vince wear that frock," Pippin said, shyly.
"What? You mean you tried to get her out of her punishment after all she put you through?" Merry was thunder-struck.
"Well, she is my sister, Merry," Pippin said, simply. "Besides, I sort of did something that I might not should have done just before we left. I think I might be regretting it a wee bit now."
Frodo and Merry exchanged looks. In the front seat of the pony cart, Bilbo and Saradoc also exchanged looks and waited.
"What did you do?" Merry asked.
"Well, I put something from the barn in her bed," Pippin said and then looked down, grinning.
"What?" Frodo and Merry asked trying to rush their little cousin along.
"I shouldnít tell in front of Uncle Saradoc and Uncle Bilbo or they might take me home to face the music." Pippin said.
"Iím sorry lad, but if you are saying anything, we canít hear it up here. Noise from the ponies and all," Bilbo yelled back and Frodo grinned. He loved Bilbo. This was why he had been willing to wear that†ridiculous vest.
"I put a few wee mice in her bed," Pippin admitted.
"How many?" Frodo asked wonderingly.
"Think it was eight, but†it might have been nine in all. Hard to count mice," Pippin informed his cousin.
"We might hear the screams all the way in Buckland," Merry laughed.
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