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The Life of a Bard  by Dreamflower


“Well. What do you have to say for yourself?” Paladin’s voice was flat and cold.

Pippin shook his head, lips firmly pressed together. He was not above lying to his parents if he thought it would do some good, but it was no use trying one on now. It wouldn’t even buy him any time. Any lie he told would fall apart like wet paper at his father’s first question.

“You’ve been down to The Leaping Hare, after your mother specifically told you that you were not to go alone.”

“It’s not fair!” Pippin burst out. “I’m twenty-five, and I’m allowed to go there on my own.”

“I am aware of that. And if you had given me a bit of time to speak with your mother privately, I would have persuaded her that she did not need to coddle you in this matter. But you have proven me wrong by this bit of unnecessary childishness.” Paladin delivered each word like a blow.

Pippin was stung. He was no mind reader. How would he have guessed that his father might try to talk his mother round? His father was hardly ever on his side anyway, these days.

“Tomorrow you will stay in this room. Your meals will be brought to you. You will *not* slip out the window and go haring off to Buckland. Your cousin Merry has responsibilities now, and he does not need to be distracted by you hanging about and getting in his way when he has a real job to do, nor does he need to be burdened with having to be your nurse-maid."

This really hurt, and unwanted tears sprang to Pippin’s eyes. He couldn’t be a burden to his Merry, could he? How could his father think that? Had Merry said something to his father to make him think that? Would Merry think him a bother now that he was grown? He hadn’t thought so before, but why would his father say that?

“Do you understand me in this?” Paladin said forcefully.

Pressed, Pippin had to answer, though the words could barely be choked out. “Yes, sir.”

“I cannot believe that you have reached this age without being aware of the consequences of your actions. You go off to play the fiddle and sing in a public inn like that! Do you realize that all your actions are noted and saved up? In years to come, hobbits will be saying, ‘Oh, yes, Peregrin Took. He’s the one who made a public display of himself in the taverns!’ They will remember every one of your misdeeds and escapades. You have to be able to lead people, and you cannot do that if no one respects you, and all they can think of is what an irresponsible youth you were. You are going to be Thain one day--”

Pippin couldn’t help it. He had heard that phrase one time too many. In a tight voice, he clearly said “I. Do. Not. Want. To. Be. Thain!”

There was dead silence.

Even in the moonlight, Pippin could see the two spots of red staining his father’s paper white face, and the fury blazing out of his eyes. He had never seen such anger from his father before. He took a step backwards in fear.

Paladin felt as though he had received a physical blow. He had never been so angry in his life. With an effort, he clenched his fists to his sides, to keep from slapping Peregrin in the face. He had never struck him yet, and he was not about to start now, though he thought that if any words ever deserved it, those did. The foolish child had no idea of what his father had sacrificed in order to make it possible for him to hold the Thainship.

Taking several deep breaths, he calmed himself enough to speak. “What you want hardly matters. What is, is. Mark my words. And spend tomorrow thinking about what you have done.”

He turned and went out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind him.

Pippin threw himself on his bed and cried until his stomach hurt, and then finally slipped miserably into a restless sleep.


The sun pouring through the open window of his room wakened him at dawn, and he wearily got down and undressed and put on a nightshirt before returning to bed. He slept soundly for a few hours, and was wakened by a knock upon his door.

“Go ‘way!” he called.

“Pip? It’s me!” came his sister Pervinca’s voice. “Please. I’ve brought you breakfast.”

He was about to tell her to take it away, he wasn’t hungry, when his stomach began to growl. Well, he guessed he *was* hungry after all.

“All right, Vinca, come in then.”

“You’ll have to open the door, silly! My hands are full.”

With a sigh, he swung his legs out of the bed and grabbed his dressing gown. He opened the door, and his sister came in, nearly staggering with the weight of the tray she carried. “I’ve brought enough for both of us.” She carried it over and put it in the middle of the bed, and sat down at the foot. Pippin came over and sat down at the other end, and perused its contents.

There was a pot of tea with two cups, and eggs, sausages, toast, mushrooms, fried potatoes, and a small pot of blackberry jam. Pippin’s stomach rumbled again at the delicious smells, and the two tweens immediately tucked into the meal.

“Ib di frshrsknd brkfsh” said Pippin around a mouthful of sausage.

Vinca giggled. “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” she said. “It’s second breakfast. First was long ago. It was pretty dire, too. Father’s still fuming and Mother’s not too happy either. Whatever you did, I hope it was worth it, because I think you will be in trouble for some good long time to come.”

Pip took a sip of tea to wash down his food, so he could reply. “Well, did you know I went off to The Bunny? I mean after Mother said not by myself?”

Vinca nodded. She felt a bit guilty. If he had not spent all his money on her, he would never have had to ask their Mother before he went, and then he would never have been in trouble in the first place.

“So it was splendid! I took my fiddle to play for a half, and while I was there I met a Man! One of the Big Folk!” Pippin grinned at the thought of Menelcar.

Vinca’s eyes grew wide. “What is he doing in the Shire?” she asked with a bit of alarm.

Pippin laughed. “He’s a minstrel. He just travels around singing for folk. He came to the Shire in hopes of finding out about old Cousin Bilbo’s songs, if you can believe it!”

Vinca nodded. That made sense. After all, Bilbo Baggins was famous Outside as well as in the Shire.

“Anyway, after I played the fiddle and sang, he did as well, and then we sang together! Oh, Vinca! It was the greatest thing I’ve ever done! Everyone loved how we sounded! Menelcar--that’s his name--he can do just as he pleases! He travels town to town, singing and playing, with no worries about responsibilities or anything!”

Vinca was not sure that sounded so grand to her, but she could see how it would appeal to Pip. “Well, I’m sure Father was angry about you defying Mother, but I don’t see why he is *this* angry.”

Pippin’s face fell. With a bit of anger in his own voice, he said, “I told him I didn’t want to be Thain!”

Ah. That explained it. She had known for some time that was coming sooner or later. Pip chafed so at the constant reminders of the future, and of his rank, and of his duties. But she knew how important that it was to her father. Yes, that would make the situation pretty dire.

“Anyway, whatever Father does, I had last night, and it was grand. I told Menelcar he should see Frodo before he leaves, and learn all about old Bilbo.” Pippin turned his attention to the food again, making swift inroads on it.

Vinca studied her younger brother. There was something he wasn’t telling her. Maybe she could puzzle it out.


Menelcar awakened and stretched. The innkeeper had been kind enough to offer him a place in the stable, and with his bedroll in the hayloft, he had been more comfortable sleeping than at any time since he had entered the Shire. He thought he should be moving on though, if he wished to be at The Ivy Bush by evening.

He stopped to say farewell to the innkeeper. “I thank you, Master Dodd, for your hospitality.”

“It’s been nice to have you here, Mr. Menelcar. That was a right treat last night hearing you and Mr. Pippin sing. I did a smart bit of business as well. If you ever have call to come back this way, you’ll find a welcome here.”

This was something a bard always liked to hear. Menelcar went on his way with a light step and a light heart. He thought of the possibility that Pippin might choose to travel with him. It had been a long time since he had met anyone whom he had liked so quickly and so well. He had been alone on the road for a very long time now. He thought that he and the hobbit might make a very good team. His heart lifted at the thought.


Perhaps if Paladin had known in just what directions his son’s thoughts would lead him, he might not have told him to spend the day thinking.

After Pervinca had left, Pippin got dressed. But with no where to go and nothing to do, he just ended up flopping back onto the bed.

He kept thinking of what his father had said about Merry. He knew Merry loved him, but maybe he *was* a burden, and his cousin was just too nice to tell him. Maybe Merry didn’t even *realize* that Pippin was a burden and a distraction. Look at what he was accomplishing in Buckland right now, re-building the Ferry. Pippin thought if he were there, he might just be egging Merry on to things like sneaking off into the Old Forest or raiding Farmer Maggot’s crops or something daft like that. Maybe he’d be doing Merry a favor, staying away from him. This thought made him so melancholy that he cried himself to sleep again.

The knock on his door brought elevenses. It was not one of his sisters, but a servant. He placed the tray on the desk and left, pretending not to notice Mr. Pippin’s tear-ravaged face.

Pippin looked at the tray: cheese and fruit, and a mug of cold milk. He was not especially hungry, so he only ate about three quarters of the food, but he was thirsty, and so drank all of the milk.

He prowled about the room a bit, before he went to the chest at the foot of his bed and got out his Tookland pipes. The pipes were normally an outdoor instrument--even when played as well as Pippin did, their sound was penetrating. Though he was in his room with the door shut, he would be heard throughout this entire wing of the Smials.

He chose a solemn dirge usually reserved for funerals, and played it. And played it over. And over. And over, putting every bit of his frustration and misery into each long drawn note. This was far more satisfying than a cry, with the added benefit that everyone in the Smials would know how miserable he was.

By lunchtime, even he was tired of it. But it was worth it. When Pimpernel brought his lunch tray, she said, “Mother wants me to tell you to either choose another tune or stop playing. Father says if it keeps up, he will come in here and pitch your pipes out the window. And *I* say that I’m going to strangle you if you play one more note!!”

“Very well,” he said softly, with a martyred sigh. He gave her his most mournful look, and put the pipes down.

Pimmie flushed. “I’m sorry you’re so miserable and unhappy, Pip. Buck up. Father can’t stay angry forever.” And she kissed his brow before she left, taking away the tray from elevenses. She felt very sorry for him now, and was thoroughly on his side.

Pip couldn’t help but feel a bit victorious, as he went over to the desk to look at his luncheon. Playing the pipes had given him quite an appetite, and he tucked into the soup, sandwiches and cider, eating thoughtfully.

His father had made it clear that no matter *what* Pippin himself wanted, one day he was going to be Thain, will-he or nill-he. It was hardly fair; just because his father was stuck with the job, did that really mean he had to be? The way his father harped on it all the time, it was as though he couldn’t wait to be dead and see Pippin take his place. Pippin gave a shudder. This was definitely a road his thoughts did not want to take.

He was stuck here in this room for today, at least. He was fairly sure that his father had told the gardeners and other staff to keep an eye out for him slipping out the window.

Going to Merry now was out of the question; obviously, Merry would be better off without him. But his father hadn’t said *anything* about Frodo. Doubtless, he thought Frodo would not mind Pippin’s presence one way or another. And Menelcar would be waiting tomorrow night at The Green Dragon.

Because it was crystal clear that if he were to escape being stuck here at the Great Smials for the rest of his natural born days, he was going to have to take the minstrel up on his offer.

He went over and took out his fiddle case. Though he had tended it thoroughly the night before, he brought it out once more, and began to polish it, and tune it. Tonight, he’d slip out, leaving a note that he was headed for Bag End. That would buy him a few days. By the time his parents realized he was not with Frodo, he and Menelcar should already be on their way out of the Shire. He’d have to lie low when he got to Hobbiton, though. He did not *really* want to see Frodo. He was fairly certain that his Baggins cousin would not approve of his plan.

Now, what should he take along besides his fiddle? He had the rest of the day to plan this out.


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