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To Tell a Tale  by Lindelea

Part 3:

'I'm feeling perfectly myself again and there's no reason to tie me to the bed!'

Pippin's face turned red as he began to cough again in earnest. Merry tendered a glass of water, Frodo poured out the soothing syrup and held it to his young cousin's lips, both watched with concern, ready to shout for a healer if the coughing fit turned to a strangling struggle for air, as had happened earlier.

'You're perfectly "yourself" again, for certain,' Frodo said dryly.

'Tying him to the bed; there's a novel idea,' Merry said in his most cheerful tone. 'D'you suppose it's something the Tooks came up with for Pippin's especial benefit?'

'Sam always seems to keep some rope about,' Frodo replied. 'I'm sure he'd be happy to...'

'You jest,' Pippin wheezed.

'Don't try and talk, lad, you'll only set yourself to coughing again,' old Ioreth said, bustling into the room with a tray of good things meant to tempt the appetite. She was followed by several helpers bearing trays. Pippin's was not the only appetite to be tempted, after all. 'Lovely eggs, scrambled with cream, the best the City has to offer...'

'Don't want it,' Pippin mumbled rather ungraciously, pushing the food away. 'Wouldn't you like to have my portion, Frodo? "Lovely eggs scrambled with cream" and cheese melting atop; that's what Mum always stirred up when you and Bilbo would come to visit.'

'Such a lamb,' Ioreth murmured with a fond look, and then she put on a stern voice, which was rather spoilt by the smile she was suppressing. 'Now then, lad, you eat that! It'll give you strength!'

'But my throat is sore from coughing,' Pippin whined, 'and my head hurts so...' The rest of this piteous sentiment was rather muffled as he was pulled against Ioreth's ample breast.

'Poor lamb,' she said. 'And so sweet and generous, trying to give his breakfast away. Why, young Bergil told me that the Little Folk are always giving, never taking, why, they even give presents away on their birthdays instead of expecting to be showered with gifts!'

Merry and Frodo exchanged a wry look. Pippin always expected gifts... on other people's birthdays. He would drive his older cousins to distraction with his nagging to find out what his present might be, and unending guesses; of course, he drove them to distraction when his own birthday approached, with his nagging to make them guess their presents, and his constant hints.

'Such wonderful, generous folk,' Ioreth said, releasing Pippin (to that hobbit's relief, for it was difficult to get his breath, crushed in her loving embrace) and dabbing at her eyes.

'Not always generous,' Frodo said with a grin.

Merry rolled his eyes. 'Not that old story,' he said. 'You wouldn't...'

'As a matter of fact, young hobbits go through a time when they want all they see,' Frodo went on relentlessly. 'You might have a jar full of sweetmeats, for example, and offer a young hobbit as many as he wishes. He'd put his hand in the jar and grasp such a hand-full that he wouldn't be able to bring it out again. Do you know what he'd do then?'

'Frodo...!' Merry said.

'He'd weep from frustration, and howl,' Frodo said, 'when all he had to do to solve the problem would be to let go the handful, and take only a few sweetmeats at a time from the jar. You would not believe how difficult it can be to convince a young hobbit to open his fist, let the sweetmeats fall and free his trapped hand from the jar.'

'Well I never!' Ioreth said, sitting down upon the bed. 'I find it hard to credit.'

'O yes,' Frodo said wisely. 'Why, I have an example that is even better...'

'Frodo!' Merry said again, more flustered than before.

Pippin had picked up his fork and was absently eating his lovely eggs scrambled with cream, listening with interest to the conversation.

Frodo smiled and said, 'O yes, young hobbits have to be trained to generosity; if not they'll grow up greedy and grasping as any Dwarf...'

'I'm going to tell Gimli what you said about him...' Merry threatened.

'And sometimes if their parents are tardy in their training, a young hobbit can be difficult, indeed...' Frodo went on.

Chapter the Third: A Knight to Remember
Contributed by Beruthiel
in which Ioreth learns something new about hobbits as Frodo takes a walk down memory lane

Bag End, SR 1391.

"Merry, your cousins are not plotting to get their hands on all your playthings."

"Yes, they are! Have you seen the way they stare at them whenever I play with them? Then they act all loving and sweet and ask if they can play with me."

"Maybe it's you they really want to play with, not just your playthings. You're very good at coming up with diverting things to do, you know."

"That's silly, Frodo. I tell them to keep their grubby hands off my things, and they run to the grownups and cry and make trouble for me. And the grownups always believe them! It's disgusting."

"Well, that isn't very nice of you, Merry."

"They're the ones who aren't nice, trying to steal my playthings! I'm just protecting them. The little thieves are so obvious, the way they stare at my things when I play with them."

"Maybe if you didn't boast about what fine-and-fancy playthings you have, and shared them now and then, the other children wouldn't stare so much."

"Are you daft? Of course they would. They want my playthings."

Frodo sighed. This was more difficult than he'd expected. He had so been looking forward to this visit of his cousins from Brandy Hall, but this young Merry was not the young cousin he remembered leaving behind when he went to live with Bilbo at Bag End.

"Merry, listen. Just because they like your playthings and enjoy playing with you, doesn't mean they're out to rob you blind."

"Yes, they are. They play with my things when I'm not around to stop them."

"Have you caught them at it?"

"No. They're sneaky."

"Has anyone else seen them?"

"If they have, they never told me."

"Do your playthings look like they've been moved when you come back to them?"

"No. How daft are you? I told you the little villains are sneaky."

"Well, if no one ever sees anyone with your playthings, and the playthings never look disturbed, how do you know anyone's up to no good with them?"

"I just know."

Frodo sighed again. This was not merely difficult; it was impossible.

"Merry, Paladin and Eglantine will be arriving soon, with the lasses and the babe, and you will be expected to play with them nicely. If you don't, your visit could be cut short. Do you understand?"

"I'm not playing with that Pervinca. She's worse than all my Hall cousins put together."

"Nevertheless, you will have to be nice to her, and Nell and Pearl, and little Pippin, and if anyone hears any complaints, all of you will catch it. Understand?"

Merry grumbled.

"And if you all can't get along, I might get in trouble too, for not keeping the peace. Eglantine and Paladin, and your parents, have been looking forward to having some time to themselves. I'm supposed to be in charge of you while Bilbo looks after the adults. You don't want to get me in trouble, do you?"


"So can you manage to be civil to the lasses, for my sake?"

"Oh, all right. But they're not getting my playthings."

Another long-suffering sigh.

"The way Nell and Vinca giggle together, I know they're up to something. I'm going to have to hide all my things before they get here."

"For the dozenth time, there is no grand plot to pilfer your playthings, Merry!"

But before the words were out of Frodo's mouth, Merry was out of the room and down the hall, rushing to get his precious playthings to safety.

Frodo collapsed into a nearby chair, nearly pulling his hair out in frustration. If folks thought the Tooks were the most stubborn creatures in existence, they ought to try reasoning with this nine-year-old Brandybuck.

The next day...


'This is all so boring and tedious,' Merry said. 'Look, Pippin's yawning, and we're keeping him awake.'

'Not at all,' Pippin said, but his voice was raspy and a cough threatened.

'Now then, lad,' Ioreth said, pouring out a dose of sweet syrup. 'You just settle back and listen.'

Frodo smiled at an exasperated Merry and continued.


The next day...

Frodo sighed with contentment as he entered Bag End's library, looking forward to a day of peace and quiet. The adults were taking tea with a friend of Bilbo's, Merry and the lasses had found some local children to play with, and Pippin had been recently changed and fed and was now napping. Frodo was required to stay home to mind the babe when he woke, but he found the wee lad delightful when not tired or hungry. In the meantime, Bag End was blissfully silent.

Stepping up to a bookcase, he halted and frowned. The book he had intended to read was missing. Odd, as he had been reading it to Merry only yesterday, and he was sure this was where he had put it.

Reading it to Merry...

"Oh, Merry," he muttered, "will you never come to your senses?"

He left the library and headed for Merry's room, stopping along the way to fetch a candle.

"Merry, Merry, Merry," he said, approaching a panel in his cousin's wall, "I hate to invade your secret hiding place, but honestly, no one is out to steal my book merely because you like it." He carefully pushed the panel inward and swung open the door of the hidden closet Merry thought no one knew about. Holding the candle out before him, he spotted his book leaning against the opposite wall.

Frodo stepped into the closet, letting go of the door. As he reached for his book, a gleam of colour off to the side caught his eye. Turning to investigate, he chuckled. All the playthings and trinkets Merry had brought were carefully stacked in the corner, safe from scheming thieves.

A loud thud sounded directly behind him. Startled, Frodo whirled around and cursed; the panel had swung shut, trapping him inside. He knew it could only be opened from the other side.

"Bollocks," he swore. "There goes my peaceful day." As he stood in the centre of the closet, wondering how long he might be stuck, a loud and displeased shriek erupted from Merry's plaything stack.

Frodo nearly dropped the candle. Suspecting Merry had brought in some kind of animal that didn't want company, he stepped back slowly, straining his eyes to see what he shared the closet with.

Something was moving, struggling to free itself from Merry's cloak. Frodo cautiously held out his candle, hoping for a better look at -

"Pippin?!" he exclaimed. "What in the Shire are you doing in here?"

Crawling out of the twisted cloak, Pippin regarded Frodo briefly, and then began to cry.

Frodo set down the candle and hurried over to comfort the babe.


"So, Pippin, here we are, trapped in a secret closet that only we two and Merry know about."


"That's right. Merry. I don't imagine he'll be pleased to find us in his hiding place."


"How did you get here, anyway? You were supposed to be napping."

"My, my."

"Did one of your sisters put you down somewhere and then forget about you, instead of putting you in the crib?"

"My, my, my!"

"What? You want the cloak? That's Merry's cloak, I'm afraid."


"My goodness, you're a squirmy one. Did you crawl in here when Merry wasn't looking? He must have accidentally shut you in. Poor little babe. At least you had the cloak to keep you warm."

"My, my!!"

"Oh, all right, all right, you can have the cloak. But Merry will be angry. There, happy now?"

Wrapped snugly in the cloak, Pippin cooed and sucked his thumb. He was indeed happy.

"Merry won't like you calling his cloak yours. You'd best enjoy it while you can."


"Yes, Merry. The cousin who is surely about to become the most terrifying creature you'll ever encounter. I hope my ears won't burst from all the yelling. He really doesn't like his cousins getting into his things, you know."

Apparently unconcerned, Pippin dozed off.

Frodo's eyelids began to droop. Within minutes, both hobbits were sound asleep.



Frodo jerked awake to see a small hobbit's silhouette towering over him, its hands on its hips.

"What are you doing in here? I thought I could trust you!"

"Hush, Merry, you're waking Pippin."

"Pippin? Where is he?"

"Right here, I've got him. We both seem to have got trapped."

"Well, it serves you right, coming in here and trying to steal my cousin."


"Pippin is mine! I put him here to keep Vinca away. Works better than anything. She never wants to go near him."

"You put him in here?"

"It was only for a while. And I gave him my cloak to keep warm."

"Since when do you like babes?"

"I don't like babes. But Pippin isn't bad. And anyone who can drive off Vinca like he can has to be trustworthy. Unlike another cousin in front of me right now."

In Frodo's arms, Pippin stirred, looking up to see Merry.

"My," he said, reaching his hands up.

"See? He's the one cousin not after my playthings. He just wants me."

Before Frodo could respond, Merry snatched up Pippin and turned to leave.

"There now, Pip, did Frodo barge in and bother you?"


Frodo scurried out of the closet before the panel could close again, thinking that perhaps the folks who said living next to the Old Forest could damage the mind were right.


'And that's the end of it!' Merry said with relief.

'Perhaps,' Frodo said.

'What do you mean, "perhaps"?' Merry squawked like an outraged hen.

'Hush now!' Ioreth hissed, rising cautiously from the bed.

'Just that,' Frodo said, nodding at a sleeping Pippin. 'I may well have to tell it all over again on the morrow. He missed the best part!'

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