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Consequences of a Fall  by Dreamflower


Euphorbia bustled into the room, her face flushed from the heat of the kitchen, for of course she was baking with her own hands the special marmalade cake for which she was known in these parts. She could relegate any number of unpleasant kitchen tasks, including the washing up, to Hyacinth, of course, but her famous cake required “a delicate touch, quite beyond you, my dear.” In any event, the cake was evidently safely out of the oven, and Euphorbia could turn her full attention on hounding Hyacinth about her tasks.*

Hyacinth watched her with loathing.  How she wished their positions were reversed.  If she were the Thain’s lady, her sister-in-law would never dare speak to her that way…

Eglantine had rung for tea, and the servant had brought it to their sitting room, and Pippin had still not returned.

“I cannot believe he is not here for tea,” she said.  “Pippin never misses a meal.”

“Shall I see if he went next door?” asked Frodo.  “Perhaps he is trying to persuade Uncle Sara to let Merry off his punishment.”

“If you would not mind, Frodo.  That sounds like something he might think of.  I know he was quite miserable not to be able to speak with Merry this morning.”


“No, Frodo,” answered Saradoc.  “I am afraid I’ve seen no sign of Pippin since luncheon.”  He sighed.  “And Merry is staying in his room.  He’s not very happy with me today.”

“I do wish you’d reconsider his punishment, Uncle.  He did act out of extreme provocation, and it’s not likely he’d ever repeat such a thing.”

Saradoc sighed again. “Esme thinks so, too.  But I can’t overlook the seriousness of his laying hands on a lass like that.”

“Well, I know that you are doing what you think is best for him,” Frodo said diplomatically.  “I suppose that Pippin is probably up a tree somewhere, pining for Merry.”

This made Saradoc flush.  He had known Merry’s punishment would be hard on both Pippin and Frodo.  Really, sometimes there was something to be said for a thrashing.  At least such a consequence was soon over.  But that was a method of punishment that most hobbit parents shied away from.

Frodo noticed his uncle’s expression, and refrained from making any further remarks.  Obviously, Saradoc knew what the result of Merry’s punishment was.  How could he not?  But the truth was, if Merry were not separated from Pippin, they’d know *exactly* where the child was.

Frodo furrowed his brow in thought.  “I’ll go and let Cousin Tina know you haven’t seen Pippin, then.”


“It’s really unlike Peregrin to miss a meal,” said Paladin.  They had continued with tea, expecting all the while for Pippin to rush in breathlessly with some explanation of his lateness.

“Father,” said Pimpernel, “yesterday he and Merry were sitting near Fatty Bolger.  Shall we go see if maybe he is with the Bolgers?”

“I know which rooms they have,” put in Pervinca, “Estella told me at luncheon.  She thought maybe I could come and play with her after tea?

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” said their mother.  “Fatty might have seen him when he went out to play.  Thank you, my dears.”

Frodo stood up.  “My best guess is that he is up a tree somewhere.  He has been known to climb too high to get down.  He may be stuck.”

Eglantine shuddered.  She had long ago lost the battle to keep Pippin out of trees.  “I did ask him not to climb in his good clothes, but if he was distracted, he might not have remembered.”

Paladin stood up.  “I’ll go and look as well.  My own climbing days are long past, though.  I shall have to get you to fetch him down if I should find him, Frodo. I do still remember the good ‘climbing trees’ around here.”

“I’ll wait here,” said Eglantine.  “He may come in after all.  It’s possible he just lost track of time.”  But she looked doubtful.   She’d never known the child’s stomach to be wrong about the time.  Clocks went wrong  more often than Peregrin Took’s stomach. 


Frodo and Paladin had made the circuit of the west and south gardens, looking up trees, and speaking to the gardeners, but had so far found no sign of the little lad.  Now they stood on the south terrace.

“I don’t understand, Frodo,” said Paladin, who had gone from annoyed at the absence of his youngest child, to alarm.

“I’ve looked up most of our favorites, Cousin Paladin.  I can’t think where else--”  Frodo’s voice trailed away.  Of course.

“You’ve thought of something!”

“Yes, I think he may have gone up to the roof.  I know a way up there.  I’ll go and check.”

Paladin watched as Frodo darted behind a shrub, and a moment later, saw him scaling the steep incline that led to the grassy roof of the Smials.

He certainly hoped Frodo was right.  But why had Pippin not come down to tea, if that were the case?

Frodo reached the roof and glanced about.  The first thing he saw was the jacket and shirt, laid neatly near one of the chimney pots.  He smiled to think that he was right, and called out “Pippin!” 

There was no answer, and he cast his eyes around.  Ah, the lad had fallen asleep!  He could see him lying on his stomach in a small dip of grass, head pillowed on one arm, the other arm flung out over his head.  Frodo picked up the shirt and jacket and began to make his way over.

As he approached more closely, he thought something did not look right.  Perhaps it was just a trick of the light.

But as he came up on the child he realized that it was no trick of light and shadow.  Pippin’s back, the arm that was stretched out and the portion of his face unprotected by his other arm, were bright red.  The child had a serious sunburn.

Frodo shook his head sadly, and bent down.  “Pippin?” he said gently.

Pippin stirred slightly.  “Frodo?” he rasped.  “Thirsty.”  But he didn’t raise his head.

“Pip, you’ve missed tea.”  The mention of a meal usually got Pippin’s instant attention.

“Thirsty,” the child whispered again.

“I don’t have anything with me for you to drink, Pip.  Come on, now, dearest, you have to wake up.  Your parents are waiting for you.”

There was no answer this time.  Hesitantly, Frodo reached out and cautiously touched the red shoulder.

That got a reaction.  There was a gasp, and a whimper of pain.  Pippin drew a shuddering breath, and his eyes looked up, full of agony.

“Pippin, please, can you sit up?”

Pippin began to draw himself in, and gave out a painful cry when he moved his arm.  Slowly he sat up.  “Frodo” he whimpered, “I hurt.”

Frodo reached over as gently as he could, and slightly moved one of the braces on Pippin’s shoulder.  Pippin cried out again, and Frodo’s own eyes filled in sympathy as he saw the pale white stripe running between the blazing rawness. 

“Frodo,” Pippin whispered, “I don’t feel good.”

“I know, dearest.  You have a bad sunburn.  I’m going to have to carry you down, all right?”

Pippin nodded weakly, which worried Frodo.  How long had the child lain up here, shirtless in the blazing summer Sun, with nothing to drink?  Had he been up here ever since luncheon?

Frodo draped the little jacket over his own shoulder, and very gently draped the shirt over Pippin’s scarlet back.  Pippin cried out, and then bit his lip. 

“I know, I know,” Frodo crooned, “but it will protect your back while I carry you.” 

As gently as he could, he picked the little lad up, but even so, Pippin gave a cry of agony as the wiry arms lifted him up.  As careful as Frodo tried to be, every movement wrung forth a sharp cry of pain from his little cousin.  It was going to be a difficult climb down. Even through the soft linen of the shirt, Frodo could feel the furnace heat of the child’s skin radiating into his own hand.  

Paladin had watched anxiously as Frodo had climbed to the roof.  It was a far distance up.  He’d climbed a few trees in his youth, but he had never climbed as high as Pippin and Frodo seemed to like.

After a few moments, he saw Frodo reappear at the edge of the steep incline, and he was carrying Pippin!  Had his son been hurt?  Thoroughly alarmed now, he watched Frodo’s careful descent--he was leaning against the hill, and scooting down on his back, both of his arms being encumbered.  As they drew closer, Paladin could hear his lad whimpering and crying pitifully every time Frodo jostled him a bit.  Pippin *was* hurt!  What could have happened to him up there?

When Frodo drew close enough that he could call up without having to shout, he exclaimed, “What’s wrong with my son, Frodo?”

Frodo was only about ten feet up now.  “He has a serious sunburn, Paladin. He fell asleep up there with no shirt on, and he’s been up there all afternoon with nothing to drink.”

Paladin’s eyes grew wide, as Frodo now drew close enough for him to reach up and take Pippin from him.  He could see that Pippin’s shirt was only draped over his back, and as Frodo carefully lowered him, the linen fell away.  Paladin gave an involuntary gasp at the sight of his son’s back.  It was the reddest sunburn he’d ever had the misfortune to see. One side of Pippin’s face was also burned, as was his left arm.  His right arm was red from the elbow to the shoulder, while the lower part seemed unscathed.  One of the lad’s braces had slipped aside, and the pale white stripe where it had been only made the swollen redness on either side seem worse.

His eyes filled with sympathetic tears.  Pippin was crying softly, and his father took him from Frodo by the hips and waist, trying to avoid touching the sensitive back.   Even so, he had to place his hand there to steady him, and Pippin cried out in pain.

“My poor lad, my poor lad,” he crooned, and glanced over as Frodo nimbly dropped to the ground, now that he was unencumbered.

“Thank you, Frodo! I don’t know what I’d have done without you.  I should never have thought to look up there.”

“That’s quite all right, Cousin Paladin.”

Pippin was whimpering in pain and clutching at his father. 

Frodo gulped and added, “Will you take him to the apartment?  I’ll fetch the healer.”

“Do you know where the healer’s cottage is?”

Frodo nodded.  “Yes.  Who is the healer now?” For old Mistress Lalia had been notoriously hard on healers, and had dismissed many of them as incompetent.  By which she meant that they had the temerity to mention that she should limit her food and perhaps get a bit of exercise.  This one was the latest in a long string of healers.

“It’s a Mistress Hollyhock Longhole.  I know naught of her.”

“Well, I will find her.” He leaned over and dropped a kiss on top of Pippin’s curls.  “Be brave, dearest.  Your father has you now.”

“Uh-huh,” Pippin sniffed.


In a small cottage on the other side of the west garden, Mistress Hollyhock was sorting through her herbs.  The funeral had been depressing; it was always distressing to lose a patient, but to lose one to such an absurd accident was almost offensive.

The truth was, she’d scarce been at the Great Smials a month, and was already planning a letter of resignation, for she could not in good conscience continue to coddle the old Mistress. And then the accident had happened.

Now there would be no need to resign, but she was still uncertain if she meant to remain.  Her home was in Frogmorton, and she missed her kin and friends.

Just then there came an urgent rap at the door.  What could be the emergency now? she wondered.

She opened the door to see a young gentlehobbit.  He appeared to be just out of his tweens, with dark hair, fair skin and expressive blue eyes.  He looked somewhat familiar, but she could not quite place him.

“Mistress Hollyhock?  My name is Frodo Baggins.  My Cousin Paladin Took would like you to step along to his quarters if you would.  It’s rather urgent--my young cousin Peregrin fell asleep in the sun with his shirt off, and he has a very serious sunburn.  I hope you might be able to hurry, for the poor little lad’s in a good deal of pain.”

She nodded, and snatched her medical satchel from its hook by the door.  She remembered him now.  Old “Mad” Baggins’ young heir.  She had not been at the famous Party last year, though her family had been invited--she’d been busy delivering a baby.

“Young Peregrin?  He’s the little lad they call ‘Pippin’, is he not?  What is he, about ten?”  She spoke briskly as they walked along.

“He’s twelve, but he’s a bit small for his age.”

“Ah, yes.  His healer at home is Mistress Poppy Burrows, I believe.”

Frodo shrugged distractedly, a worried furrow in his brow.  “I think so.  When he visited me in the spring and caught a cold, we called Mistress Salvia Chubb.  And when he is in Buckland, he sees our cousin, Master Dodinas Brandybuck.”

“How long was he in the sun, do you know?”

“He went up to the roof to play, right after luncheon.  I found him up there asleep.  I’ve never seen a sunburn so bad as this before.”  There was deep concern in his voice, and looking into his troubled eyes she could tell that he must be very attached to the lad.

“We’ll need to cool him off right away,” she said, mentally planning her treatment--a cool bath or cold wet cloths would be needed, and that just to start.

Frodo led her through one of the side entrances, and soon they were knocking at the apartment door.


* This Hyacinth interlude brought to you courtesy of my talented beta, Lindelea.


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