Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

Fear  by Ariel

Chapter 7 - Confrontations

There was a knock at the door of Drogo and Primula's lodgings and Marmadas Brandybuck peeked in.  Drogo urgently waved the boy to enter and moved to help him with the buckets he carried.  He set them by the stove and fished into his pocket for the coin he had promised.  Marmadas frowned, looking insulted, and glanced at Primula.

"I didn't do it for money, Mr.  Baggins," he said sullenly.  "Auntie Prim and you are family, and Frodo's my littlest cousin."  He shook his head.  "I'd've done anything I could to help him," he finished softly.  Drogo fumbled a bit, the color of his own embarrassment lifting his previously pallid complexion.

"We know, Marmadas," came Primula's dreamlike voice.

Daisy glanced sharply at her.  Primula was barely holding on.  From the look on her face and her tone, Daisy suspected her to be on the verge of a faint.  The last thing this situation needed was another patient to manage.  Frodo sighed, a softly pained sound, and shifted feebly on the bed.  Daisy laid a hand on his cheek to quiet and comfort him.  His increasingly meager movements seemed oddly slow, as if he were struggling to free himself from a pit of deep sand.  From the normally energetic youngster, the change was eerily distressing.  He was rapidly running out of time.

A commanding female voice, raised almost to the point of shrillness, and an answering baritone echoed from the hallway behind Marmadas.  The sounds were getting closer and when Primula looked up her dazed expression cleared a bit.  She recognized the voices.  A blur of rustling red and yellow petticoats burst into the room followed by an ominous looking gentlehobbit, a seemingly permanent scowl graven into his face and a dark leather bag in his hand.  Menegilda Brandybuck, matron of Brandy Hall, and her venerable physician, Albarus Clearwater, did not mix well with Drogo Baggins and Marmadas had seen enough of this volatile trio that he did not hesitate to make his escape. 

Drogo, though always well spoken and even-tempered, was nevertheless one of the very few hobbits willing to stand up to either the good doctor or his patroness.  Menegilda considered him impertinent.  The Bagginses were old money and gentrified, but their fortune was waning.  Menegilda saw his manners and bearing as 'putting on airs' when, considering his financial situation, none were warranted.  She firmly believed he had married into the Brandybucks for their money and that he wasn't nearly good enough for her favorite sister in law.  There was little love lost between the two of them.  Luckily, Rorimac, her husband was more tolerant, though it could have been that he admired anyone who would face up to his wife.

If the doctor had any feelings on Drogo Baggins' lack of obeisance, he kept them to himself.

"Prim, my dearest!"  Menegilda grasped her young sister in law to her ample bosom and stroked her dark curls to shush her as if she were a child.  Primula welcomed the embrace and turned her face into Menegilda's shoulder to hide the tears she could suddenly no longer contain.  Daisy had never met Menegilda officially, but knew who she was, as did everyone in Buckland.  She did, however, know the hobbit who had followed her in.  Doctor Albarus Clearwater also knew Daisy, and from the sudden crease in his forehead, it was obvious he was taking stock of what her being there might mean. 

"Oh, my sweet, I came the moment Seredic told me."  Menegilda turned her gaze to the bed and frowned worriedly over her unconscious nephew.  She did not even seem to see Daisy sitting beside him.  "I brought the doctor, my dear.  Don't you fret, we will soon have him right as rain."

Menegilda raised a hand to gesture Clearwater forward.  Daisy opened her mouth to protest, but Drogo responded first.  He stepped forward and placed himself squarely between the older healer and his child.  Doc Clearwater raised an eyebrow at him but looked more cunning than surprised.  Menegilda clung more tightly to Primula and scowled at her brother in law over his wife's shoulder.

"We have a doctor, Mene."  Drogo's smooth voice belied his disapproval. 

Clearwater stared at Drogo coldly, his almost black eyes penetrating but with no malice, only a calculating appraisal.  These two had faced each other down before, and though Drogo had nearly always gotten his way in the end, he had never walked away feeling victorious.  It was as if Clearwater was a myriad of deceptions, intrigue and twisted motives.  Drogo always had the feeling that whatever the doctor outwardly appeared to be striving for was directly counter to his true goal. 

Menegilda sputtered in outrage.  "You can't be serious!" she cried.  "My nephew is hurt and you need more than a midwife to care for him!  He's not a baby any more.  He needs a real doctor!"  She clutched at Primula possessively and glowered at Drogo, aghast that her word would be questioned.  Drogo was not moved but Primula looked up, horribly torn.  She looked from Menegilda to Drogo and back again, undecided and apparently unwilling to offend either party by taking a stance.  Daisy, knowing the state Primula was in, wondered when the poor lass would snap or collapse.

"We have the doctor we want, Mene," Drogo continued.  "Mr.  Clearwater will no longer be attending Bagginses in these halls.  He had his chance and I lost a child and nearly lost a wife.  I'll not risk either again." 

At Drogo's slight; not using the title 'Dr.', Clearwater's eyes did narrow.  The chill in his glance dropped several degrees.

"I can't believe you would jeopardize the health of a Brandybuck child," Menegilda sputtered angrily.  "Letting a half trained midwife tend him for something as serious as this!  Look at him!  He's as pale as those sheets!  You could kill him with your obstinacy!" 

Daisy's cheeks warmed with the insults, but she knew their source.  Doc Clearwater was too clever and sophisticated to have ever voiced such words himself, but Menegilda had no such reservations.  She thought very highly of Clearwater and would have believed anything he told her.

"His name is Frodo BAGGINS."  Drogo's voice was suddenly stern and more powerful than Daisy had yet heard him.  It cut through Menegilda's shrill, indignant tone and silenced the room.  "He is my son, and I say who he's tended by." 

Menegilda opened her mouth and shut it again.  He was within his rights and she knew it, though it was plain she was genuinely beside herself with worry.  She looked at Clearwater pointedly, as if to let him know this was not the end of it.  Drogo bristled and his cheeks warmed with fury.

"If I may be so bold," Daisy began, hoping to break the tension and defuse the impending conflict.  "Regardless of who tends this child, he needs help and quickly.  Perhaps if I could consult with Doctor Clearwater, then both of you would be satisfied the child was being given the best care he can be?"

Menegilda blinked and looked at Daisy as if she were amazed the hobbit lass was capable of even speaking, let alone being reasonable.  Daisy chose to ignore the additional insult.

"Well, yes," Drogo agreed hesitantly.  "If you are willing to talk with him, I've no objection, but I've chosen you - and I trust your judgment.  Not his."  

The strength of his conviction was clearly evident in Drogo's voice, and Daisy, though she didn't know him very well, was chilled to feel such immovable resolve coming from a hobbit who had always appeared to be jovial and complaisant.  She would never have guessed Drogo Baggins had such steel in him.

"I would be delighted to consult with your doctor," Clearwater replied.  Daisy thought she caught a hint of amusement in his voice, but it was so faint it could have been her imagination.  She chose to ignore that too, and stood, gesturing towards the door.  Clearwater inclined his head with a slight smile.  Mockery perhaps, but at least the crisis might be averted inside the small room.  Daisy squared her shoulders and went into the hallway with Doctor Clearwater close behind.


<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List