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Disclaimer: These hobbits are not mine; they belong to JRR Tolkien.
The Great Escape
It began as one of those beautiful spring days that was too warm outside to concentrate on anything indoors. The spring rains had stopped; the buds on the ends of tree branches burst with small green leaves and the grass was once again green. The sky was virtually cloudless; a few small puffs slowly floated across the blue heavens of the Shire. It was one of the first few days of spring, where being indoors is the last place anyone would want to be.
Pippin sat his study desk unable to do just that: concentrate. He looked out the window, seeing the clear sky and sunshine. He turned around in his chair and looked back at his private Tutor, Mister Breddo Goldwine, who sat quietly upon the sofa near the door as if he were guarding it. Breddo lifted his eyes and caught Pippin’s gaze. He did not lift his head from the book he was reading--just his eyes. He looked over the top of book, “Questions, Master Peregrin?”
Pippin sighed, “No, sir.” He turned back around and propped his left arm onto the desk and let his head settle into his hand. He twirled the leadstick in his fingers. The silence along with the tick-tock of the clock over the mantelpiece was driving him loony. Every arithmetic problem had been solved and every history book assigned to him today had been read and written about. Each time he handed in his completed work to his Tutor, more assignments would be piled onto him. He purposely drove himself to finish all his studies far ahead of schedule today thinking Mister Breddo would release him early. So far his work ethic hadn’t paid off.
After a while an idea came to his mind. Pippin unbuttoned his cuffs and rolled up his sleeves. He busied himself with writing out a few more calculations on the worksheet that Breddo handed him just after lunch. Inch by inch, he lowered his head towards his paper. Surreptitiously he pinched his cheeks a few times. After a few moments he dramatically laid down the leadstick and stood up, addressing his elder.
“Mister Breddo, may I open a window, please?” He tugged on his shirt collar for emphasis, “it’s very stuffy in here.”
Pippin saw Breddo catch his eyes from the sofa. Surely he must see my red cheeks, but Breddo held his gaze. Inwardly, Pippin became nervous but was careful to make sure it didn’t show. He knows I’m up to something, he thought.
After a long pause, Breddo finally consented, “Very well, Master Peregrin. Be quick about it--and return to your seat.” He emphasized the last part.
“Yes, sir.” Pippin made his way over to the window farthest from his tutor, silently wondering if the old hobbit ever took a day off. The red satin drapes were already drawn to either side of the window, so Pippin pulled the sheers out to step inside near the windows and unlock the latch. It smelled dusty by the window, as it had been months since it was last open. Pippin paused before he gave it a bit of force, and when he paused he noticed a pony-drawn wagon in the far corner of the meadow. He also noticed that a small crowd of tweens gathered around it. He knew them to be a group of cousins and two of his sisters. He narrowed his eyes in contempt as they all waved towards the window. They have all the luck.
After the first few warm days had arrived in the Shire, the group of freinds had made plans to go to Bywater and spend the day wading in the pool. There was only one problem with that plan: Pippin was receiving very costly extended lessons from the great Mister Breddo. A highly sought out private Tutor for those who could afford him.
Lawks! How am I going to run all that way and not get caught? Pippin put his attention back to the window and pulled up on the window sash with all his strength. He closed his eyes and smiled as the warm, fresh breeze blew against his cheeks and tussled his hair. He heard birds chirping among the gardens below as he drank in the soothing fragrance of new growth. He opened his eyes and looked down. His eyes went wide at the drop; it was a grassy incline, but very steep. He decided he would only use that route in desperation. At length, one of the tweens broke away from the group and was running towards the open window. He waved his hands at the runner--giving the sign to stay back. “Master Peregrin!”
Pippin abruptly turned to face his Tutor. Thinking his hand-waving attracted the old hobbit’s attention, Pippin began flapping his arms up and down to imitate the cooling of himself. “Sir, I was just breathing in the fresh air. It felt good to stand in front of the open window!”
For the first time in the last hour, Mister Breddo laid aside the book he was reading and got up from his place on the sofa. He walked over to where Pippin stood and said, “If you stand in front of the open window, as heated up as you claim to be, you will catch your death!” Breddo placed his hands on top of the sash and slammed the window down. Pippin startled at the thud. As Breddo returned to the sofa Pippin stole a glance back down at the garden to see that the runner had hidden himself behind a shrub. He breathed a sigh of relief. That was too close!
As he made to draw the sheers closed, Pippin gazed again down towards the shrub his friend had hidden himself behind. He was gone. This puzzled the young teen, but he trusted his friends as how to best proceed from here. He returned to the seat at his desk, sitting miserably as he made a pretense of working out his calculations. Several long minutes passed by when a knock was heard on the door.
Mister Breddo did a downward twirl with his forefinger, indicating for Pippin to turn back round and sit in his chair. “I shall answer the door, lad.” When Breddo opened the door, a young servant lad in his late teens handed the Tutor a note, but said nothing. Breddo unfolded the paper and read it’s contents, his lips moving silently as he formed the words. Breddo looked over at Pippin, “Your father requests my presence in his office. I shall return directly--and stay in your seat!”
Once the tutor had left, Pippin twisted back around in frustration and threw his leadstick at the door. He folded his arms in front of him on the desk. He would do no more assignments. He’d had his fill of Mister Breddo for today. He was beginning to entertain the idea of escaping on his own while the tutor was out when he heard a “Pssst!” He turned in his seat to make sure Breddo wasn‘t anywhere to be seen. It was the servant lad peeking his head into the room. “Master Pippin!” Pippin rose from his desk and went to the door. He inwardly hoped he hadn’t injured the lad.
“Master Pippin, I was told to tell ye that I was bribed to deliver that note,” he said. The servant furtively smiled as he pulled from his pocket two silver pennies, “and to tell ye that Master Merry’s waitin’ at the shrub.”
Pippin smiled back at the servant, “Thank you, Degger! I won’t forget this!” Pippin wasted no time in finding the nearest exit out of the Smials.
* * *
“Come in,” Paladin answered to the knock on his door. He looked up from the documents he was reading as the highly paid Tutor approached his desk. “Ah! Master Goldwine,” Paladin stood up to shake his hand. “this is a pleasant surprise! How is Pippin faring with his studies?”
Breddo cleared his throat, making no reciprocating gesture. “Sir, you summoned me,” he said.
Paladin’s brow wrinkled as he searched through his mind. How could he forget sending the Master a note? Because he didn’t. He took back the hand he offered and sat back down at his desk.
“Master Goldwine--may I call you Breddo?”
“Mister Breddo will do.”
Paladin scratched his head, grinning at the stuffiness of his guest. Well, Mister Breddo”, giving the same inflection the old hobbit did, “I don’t recall summoning you at all. Do you know what it is I called you for?”
Breddo felt his time was being wasted on this rustic upstart. He thrust out the note and let it sail onto Paladin’s desk. “I take it this is your note,” he answered in a snide tone.
Paladin was not amused. His cousin the Thain, Ferumbras III, recommended this Tutor for Pippin’s studies, now that the lad was destined for Thain. He took the note that Breddo so rudely tossed and read it. “Well, Mister Breddo,” Paladin had a sardonic smile on his lips. “This isn’t my script.” He tossed the note back onto the desk, and leaned back in his leather chair.
Breddo took back the note and looked at it again. “Whose is it?” he demanded.
Paladin shrugged, “It’s not mine, and it’s not my son’s.” He knew the script to be that of his nephew, Merry, but wasn‘t about to divulge that information to the arrogant hobbit. He knew his nephew, daughters, and their cousins all had plans for the day, but little did he realize those plans included his young son. Well, he should have known better, anyway. Paladin gazed towards the open window of his office, feeling a warm, summer-like breeze touch his skin. He looked outside the window at the sunshine and blue sky. For a moment he yearned to be a boy again--shirking off the heavy cloak of responsibilities and jumping into the pool at Bywater with his friends.
Breddo followed his gaze out the window and saw two figures running full speed towards a waiting wagon. One figure was considerably smaller than the other. He stepped up closer to the open window with his mouth gaping wide open. Never before had he met a child so impudent! “Master Peregrin!” he yelled out of the window, spittle flying in his fury, “Return to your studies this instant!” It seemed the lads picked up speed as they ran after the slowly moving wagon. He continued to gaze as both lads were brought up into the wagon by their waiting friends, beginning with the smaller one.
Paladin stood up from his chair, smiling as he watched the boys going off to spend the day in the sunshine. Childhood comes only once, he thought. “Mister Breddo--,” He began, but was cut off by the old hobbit.
Breddo huffed condescendingly, “Mister Paladin, do you not understand that you hired me to teach your son higher learning?”
The smile faded from Paladin’s lips, “Mister Breddo, I understand more than you think I do. Yes--I hired you to be my son’s Tutor--not his warden.” Paladin put his hands in his pockets, then his smile reappeared as he nodded towards the window, “And I suppose this will be the last time you underestimate my son’s intelligence as well.” Paladin found the whole situation rather humorous. He sat down again in his chair, smirking at the now humbled Tutor. “You’ve just been outwitted by two young lads. One of them only turned thirteen a few days ago.”
Mister Breddo wasn’t smiling.
Paladin stopped needling the elder hobbit and grew serious, “Come now, Mister Breddo, he’s just a boy--the son of a farmer. He isn’t used to being cooped up all day indoors at this time of year.” Paladin held out his hand, indicating for Breddo to sit down. “Did he finish all of his assignments?”
“Well ahead of time.”
Paladin nodded. “I used to let him go outside and play if he worked hard and finished all of what I assigned him for the day,” he said. “I believe he thought you would do the same.”
Breddo only gazed at Paladin, unnerving him a bit. He felt as if he was under the scrutiny of his own father as when he was a young lad. But it was only for a brief moment. Paladin took in a deep breath, smelling the fresh air. “You may keep our originally bargained salary, Mister Breddo, however, I do want Pippin’s study hours changed. He is to be released at noon until the harvest, at which time he may resume studies until tea.”
“But, sir, how do you expect him to be ready for his responsibilities as Thain?”
“Pippin is a very clever boy,” said Paladin. “He will be ready when that day comes--and that won‘t happen for a long time. I have full confidence in your ability to see that he is ready. But for now, he is a boy--let him be a boy for as long as he‘s able to.” Then Paladin rose from his seat, indicating the meeting was over. “Good day, Mister Breddo. I’ll see you early in the morning.”
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