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Burning the Midnight Oil
This was a day that would live forever in young Pippin’s mind. The whole group spent a lovely afternoon at the pool. Since the Shire had not yet warmed up, the water was still very cool so they didn’t stay in the water too long. They merely spread out blankets and continued the repartee they began at Wildebury Glen.
After Bywater, they went on to Hobbiton, more notably to Bag End where Frodo threw a party in Pippin’s honor; celebrating his thirteenth birthday. There was good food, good friends, and good cheer. Frodo was a much excellent host in that he had games, songs, and even a dance planned for the rest of the day and on into the evening. At about midnight the gang decided to head back to Tuckborough. It was nearly four in the morning when the young Tooks and Brandybuck stepped into their quarters and tiptoed to their respective bedrooms.
Pippin thought he was having an ugly dream where someone was trying to rouse him from his peaceful slumber. He sighed and rolled over, bringing the warm covers over his ears.
“Master Pippin! It’s time to get up!”
This time Pippin felt a hand push at his shoulders a tad. He opened his eyes to slits. It was Degger--the lad who slipped Breddo the note the day before. Pippin’s voice was thick with sleep, “What in the name of wonder do you want, Degger?”
“Master Pippin, it’s a quarter past seven and breakfast is on the board.” Then he added more anxiously, “and Mister Goldwine will be arriving soon.”
Those confounded lessons! Pippin took in a deep breath and then yawned, “Very well.” He stretched and rubbed his eyes, “I’m awake.”
Pippin was growing quite irritated with the lad, Degger. He rolled over again and muttered, “I told you I was awake!”
“But Master Pippin, it’s almost eight o’clock! Mister Goldwine will be here any minute!”
Pippin’s eyes flew open. Eight o’clock? Just a second ago it was a quarter past seven! Pippin threw off his blankets and shivered in the morning chill, “Thank you, Degger!” The young servant helped him to quickly dress. He then put in Pippin’s hand a piece of buttered bread and an apple. He shooed the young Took out and towards the study, “Watch out for flying leadsticks!” He was making reference to Pippin’s outburst the day before.
Pippin entered the study and slipped into his chair mere seconds before Mister Breddo walked in.
“Good morning, Master Peregrin. I take it your day with your riotous friends went well?”
Pippin wanted to rebuttal the Tutor’s remark about his friends--even more so because it included his sisters, but his mouth was full of buttered bread. Instead he got up and poured himself a glass of water to wash it all down. “My sist--”
“Sit down, lad.”
Pippin glared at the elder hobbit, but he obeyed. He was soon rewarded with a pile of assignments to complete before noon.
He looked up at his Tutor, “Mister Breddo, I can’t finish all this in four hours!”
“You did yesterday--well before noon, when you so desired to flee from your studies.”
Pippin was livid. He jerked opened his desk drawer, pulled out his lead stick and slammed it shut. His lack of sleep was making him very irritable. He began furiously writing out the calculations on the paper. The first few seemed easy enough. Perhaps the rest would be likewise. He’d show Breddo a thing or two.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. Pippin’s mind wandered as he paused to work out the sums on his fingers. He couldn’t concentrate for long. Now he was angry with himself. He laid aside his calculations for a while until he could wake up more fully. He decided to work on his reading assignments and write the essays that followed. This way, if his mind strayed, Mister Breddo wouldn’t notice.
Pippin opened his eyes. His face nearly slid off the hand that was propping it up. He breathed deep and cleared his throat.
“It’s time to wake up,” Breddo wore a wicked grin.
It seemed to Pippin that the old hobbit was enjoying this. He straightened up in his chair and tried desperately to keep his eyes open. This was especially difficult as the book he was reading a passage from was titled, “Pipeweed and Other Herblore”, by Tobold Hornblower. This book was as dry as his throat. He took another draught of water before forging on. He stole a glance behind him. Breddo was watching him like a hawk. He felt the Tutor’s eyes boring holes into the back of his skull as he read on.
There was a knock on the door and Mister Breddo went to answer it. When he answered it, a young hobbit lad was standing there in the hall.
“Let me guess...you have a note for me.” Breddo really had no idea that it was Merry who wrote the note, he was just making sarcastic assumptions.
“Uh--no, sir,” Merry turned red in the face and looked at his feet. “Though, I would ask if I might speak with you.” He stepped back a pace into the hallway.
Breddo looked back at Pippin, who had turned around in his seat and seemed to continue reading. “I shall only be a moment,” he said, easing the door closed. When he stepped further into the hallway, he noticed Paladin standing on the far side.
“Mister Breddo, I want you to meet my nephew, Meriadoc Brandybuck, though we all call him Merry. He has something he wants to tell you.”
Merry slipped his hands into his pockets, “I....I was the one who wrote the note.”
Breddo watched Merry’s sheepish expression, “So you were the mastermind behind yesterday’s flight?”
Merry knew the Tutor wasn’t giving a compliment. His eyes remained at his feet, “Yes, sir.”
Breddo could tell by the lad’s speech that he wasn’t from Tuckborough--or Tookland for that matter. “A Bucklander. I should’ve known," he said. “I hope your punishment has met the deed.”
“Well, it did--is sort of,” Paladin smirked. “You see, my dear nephew, Merry, has decided that a bit of higher learning wouldn’t be such a bad thing for him.” He watched with amusement as his nephew grimaced, “He’s decided to join my son in his studies for the next...oh, three weeks or so.”
Merry continued looking uncomfortably at his feet. He had already finished his higher learning four years ago at the ripe old age of fifteen, so it certainly wasn’t his decision to give up his free time for more studies. He was, shall we say, convinced by his uncle that it would be to his advantage.
“Well, Master Meriadoc, the first item on your schedule is to help keep your cousin awake.” He quietly twisted the door handle and let the door swing open, “It seems he’s having difficulties doing just that.”
Poor Pippin. He had given up on any pretense of focusing on his reading. Paladin and Merry observed the young teen with his head down on the desk over his book.
“Pippin!” Paladin tried to get his son’s attention. The boy never stirred. The trio walked up behind the lad and saw that he was indeed asleep.
“Master Peregrin.” Breddo spoke loudly, but didn’t shout.
Pippin stirred this time, lifting his head ever so slightly. He was still half-asleep as he spoke, “I was just studying the finer points of old Toby’s pipeweed.”
“I suppose the study included your drooling saliva all over your book?” Breddo handed Pippin his pocket-handkerchief.
Paladin shook his head at his son, “Mister Breddo--he’ll be no good to you today. Just look at him. His friends kept him out far too late yesterday.” He glanced at his nephew. Paladin leaned down and lifted the small teen into his arms. He saw the books and papers with half-written arithmetic calculations on them. “Is this what you have assigned to him today?” Breddo nodded.
“I promise you,” said Paladin, “both Pippin--and Merry--will have all of these assignments completed and ready for you at eight o’clock tomorrow. I apologize for wasting your time today.” He looked at his nephew. “Merry, gather up his things and bring them with you unless you intend to stay with Mister Breddo beginning today.“
Merry didn’t need long to think about that one. He quickly started gathering up Pippin’s books, notes, and papers.
Paladin smirked at him, “It seems you lads will be very busy later today.”
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