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Wee Ones  by cathleen

LOTR Community July Challenge

Theme: Summertime

Starter sentence: I really hadn’t meant to do it; it was merely a thought, but then my thought seemed to develop a mind of its own.



“Sometimes a Cake is Just a Cake”

Part Two

“The Recipe”


I really hadn’t meant to do it; it was merely a thought, but then my thought seemed to develop a mind of its own. I was hooked, helpless, like a fish squirming at the end of a line. When my imp of a cousin first whispered his idea in my ear, my first notion was to laugh. Unfortunately, I started to think about it and the idea grew in size and potential. Now, as I watch my aunt and my mother putting the finishing touches on the baked goods before they are loaded on the waggon for the journey to the faire, I find I’m having some serious misgivings about our little prank. Or, should I say, my prank. Pippin still looks at this as something serious he and Tulip are doing. But I know better. Ah well. I may as well sit back and enjoy the fun!


“Merry? How are we going to get our special cake made if no one will leave us alone in the kitchen?” Pippin whispered a little too loudly.

“Shh! Don’t worry, I’ve got it all figured out.”

“But how? Tell me--”

The creaking of the door silenced them and Merry hurried to yank the blanket up, at the same time urging Pippin to be still. A moment later they were in the dark again as Eglantine pulled the door shut behind her.

“Just remember, Pip. It’s a very unique recipe so you have to keep quiet about what it is. I’m sure I can talk Mum into letting us make another cake, and without Bilbo hanging over our shoulders watching everything we’ll be all right.”

“But how do you know he won’t be?”

“Because everyone will be extra busy getting ready. They won’t think anything of us making another cake. We’ll just say we thought of another one we want to try because we think it’ll have a better chance of winning than your applesauce cake.”

“But how will we get the special ingre…ingre…part in it without anyone seeing?” Pippin wrinkled up his brow, thinking hard.

“It’s called an ingredient, Pip. Just leave all that to me. Quit worrying, will you? We’re going to make the most extraordinary cake the Hobbiton Faire has ever seen!”

“Maybe we’ll even win first prize!” Pippin chortled with delight. “What do you think, Tulip?” He held the piggy to his ear and grinned. “Tulip thinks we will win first prize!”

“Perhaps we will at that,” Merry said with a grin. “I doubt there’ll be another one quite like it. And I’ll wager that once the judges get a taste of it they’ll be longing for more.”

“Then we should make an extra big cake so there’ll be plenty to go around. I wouldn’t like not having enough to go around if folks are going to like it as much as you say they will.” Pippin wrinkled up his brow in thought. “Perhaps we should make two?”

“No, one big cake will be fine, Pip. It’s going to have three layers, after all. We wouldn’t want a great deal of it left over.”

Pippin looked puzzled. “But you just said--”

“I meant that we wouldn’t want them to have so much that the judges get too tipsy. That wouldn’t do.”

“Is it the special part that’s going to make them get tipsy?”

“Yes, but, that will be part of the fun, and they’ll all enjoy it. Trust me.”

Merry yawned widely and flipped over to face the wall. “Get some sleep now. We’ve a great deal to accomplish in the morning.”

Pippin tried to lie quietly but he was too excited, and the thoughts swirling about in his head refused to be calmed. “What are we going to call the cake? There wasn’t any name for it in the old recipe book. But there was a great deal of writing about what people thought of it. It must taste very good.”

“We’ll think of something. I just hope I can read your writing.”

“You can,” Pippin huffed with indignation. “My handwriting is getting better all the time. And besides, I was extra careful when I copied down the recipe.”

“If you say so. Your writing would be easier to read if you weren’t always in such a hurry.”


“What is it now, Pip?”

“Can we taste the special stuff before we put it in the cake?”


“Can I help you find it in the cellar, at least?”

“We’ll see. Now go to sleep.”

Pippin rolled onto his back, folding his hands underneath his head after tucking Tulip safely in at his side. “I don’t like it when people say ‘we’ll see’. Mum is always saying that and it usually means I don’t end up getting what I want. I think it’s grownups’ way of saying no without having to actually say it. You’re not even a grownup yet and you’re already saying it.”

“Stop muttering to yourself and go to sleep like I told you.”

“I wasn’t muttering to myself, I was talking to you. And Tulip.” He frowned into the darkness. “Tulip just agreed with me. She says she wants to help us get the ingre…stuff from the cellar too.”

“Good for her. Now be quiet and let me get some sleep or I won’t have enough energy to help you make the cake.” Pippin heaved a heavy sigh. “And stop sighing! You’re starting to sound like Great Auntie Pringle.”

Pippin snorted. “That wasn’t funny.” He held Tulip up and studied her face. “Was it, m’lass? Tulip just agreed with me, Merry.” It was Merry’s turn to sigh. A few minutes later Pippin spoke into the darkness again. “Can I eat the applesauce cake for first breakfast?”

“Sure, why not? I’ll even help you. Now, will you please stop talking?”


Pippin found that Merry had been right. It hadn’t been difficult at all persuading his mother and Aunt Esmie into allowing them to bake another cake. As a matter of fact, they acted pleased that both lads were getting so involved in that portion of the faire. And his mum had seemed especially happy that it had nothing at all to do with the plum tarts. The hard part had been getting Merry to allow him to accompany him to the cellar where Cousin Bilbo stored some of his best food and drink, but he had managed it.

“Strawberry, blueberry, elderberry – oh, look, peach! Hmm…lick…licker,” Pippin mused, rolling the strange word around on his tongue as he studied the labels on the neat row of small bottles. “But that isn’t what it’s called in the recipe book. I thought you said--”

“This will be just as good, if not better. Trust me, it’ll work just fine. Here, put these in your britches pocket.” Merry handed his cousin two of the diminutive bottles, and then put two more in the pocket of his weskit. “And they’re called ‘liqueurs’, not lickers, Pip.”

“They sound yummy, no matter what they’re called.”

“Yes, lots of people think they’re yummy,” Merry snickered.

“Can I taste one?” Pippin was already unscrewing the cap.

“NO, Pip! No tasting. We haven’t the time, anyway. Come, let’s hurry before anyone catches us down here.” The boys scurried back up the stairs and into the sunlight, closing the doors to the root cellar very softly before they headed back into the kitchen.

“Oh, there you are!”

Both of them jumped at the unexpected voice as Esmeralda looked up from the task of adorning her cake with delicate pink rosebuds made of sugar icing. Pippin reached for the rim of the bowl with one finger and she batted his hand away. “Oh no, you don’t. You keep your wee paws out of the icing, young sir.” She nodded towards the table. “Why don’t you two get busy with your own baking, eh? Let me finish this up in peace.”

“We certainly will, Mum.” Merry winked at his cousin.

“Sure, Auntie Esmie.” Pippin giggled and followed Merry to the table where they had laid out the needed items a short while ago.

Esmeralda finished her task a short while later. “I’m going to take this into the front parlour with the rest of the goods and help Tina start boxing everything for the trip. Can you lads manage in here all right while I’m gone?”

“I believe we can.” Merry grinned at his mother. “Don’t worry about us. I’ll keep a close eye on Pippin, too.”

Pippin frowned at his older cousin. “I’m doing rather well on my own, and so is Tulip,” he sniffed.

Merry ignored his protest and stirred the cake batter vigourously. “All right, hurry up and dump your bottles in now. We might not have much time until someone comes back.” Merry reached for his own stash and twisted the caps off. He paused long enough to take a whiff. “Smells very sweet.”

“I want to taste it!” Before Merry could stop him, Pippin upended his little bottle and took a swig that amounted to almost half the contents.

“Peregrin Took! I told you no tasting!” Merry snatched the bottle away and dumped the rest of the liquid into the bowl of batter.

“Eww, it is sweet! Tastes funny too.” Pippin sputtered, making a face. He ran his sleeve across his mouth. “And they sounded so good too, with all those fruity names.”

“I told you not to drink any. Serves you right.” Merry concentrated on pouring the batter into three round pans. “We have to get rid of the bottles. We can’t let anyone see them. Put all of them in your pockets and we’ll take them outside after I get these in the oven.”

Pippin did as he was told and laughed as he made a circuit around the kitchen. “Listen, Merry. I make clinking sounds when I move.” He busied himself with seeing how fast he needed to tread to make the delicate jingle, ending by whirling around in a circle and toppling onto the floor.

“Be quiet! Do you want our mothers to find out what you have in your pockets?”

A few minutes later they buried the evidence underneath the lilac bushes in the back of the garden. “Good job.” Merry got to his feet and brushed the dirt from his hands. “Now all we have to do is get the cake out of the oven and ice it after it cools.” He grinned at his little cousin.

“It’s going to be grand, isn’t it Merry? Why, I’ll wager we’re going to win the cake contest.”

Merry patted him on the shoulder as they headed back to the smial. “We just might at that, Pip. Either way, I think our cake will be the most popular one at the faire.”

Pippin released a loud belch and then hicupped. He giggled, “I think that strawberry licker is talking back to me, Merry,” he said, as he tottered up the path on slightly unsteady feet. “I feel kind of funny.”

Merry rolled his eyes at his cousin’s back. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t talk back loudly enough for anyone else to hear.”


The huge field where the faire was held every year was already filled with friends and neighbors the next day as Paladin pulled his waggon load of family up in front of the booth where the baked goods would be displayed. Bilbo was right behind them and was already helping the younger hobbits unloading the goods. He paused to have a look around. The excitement was palpable as the people scurried by, eager to share their wares with their neighbors and join in the fun.

“Oh, everything does look splendid! I simply can’t wait for the judging to begin.” The old hobbit clapped his hands with enthusiasm.

“Me too!” Pippin joined him in applauding their efforts.

“Mum, Vinca and I are going over to the needlework booth so we can put up our display.” Pearl held up a colourfully embroidered image of wildflowers that had taken her months to complete.

“And I want to find a good spot for my blanket before Emerald Grubb takes up all the front row with her lap coverlets and potholders.” Pimpernel smoothed her blanket as she carefully refolded it and draped it over her arm.   

“Ah, me. You lasses certainly have outdone yourselves this year. You go ahead now whilst I take your brother and his cake to the baker’s booth.”   Eglantine bustled about, taking charge of her baked goods. “Are you ready, lad?”

“Let’s go, Mum!” He beamed from ear to ear as he helped place the big cake on a table in front of the lasses. The volunteer in charge of signing in the cakes gazed down at him. The little Took produced Tulip from his shirt and perched her next to their entry. “Hullo! We’d like to enter our cake in the contest now.” His proud declaration caused her to giggle.

“Hullo, Missus Took.” Petunia Boffin smiled at Pippin. “You’re entering this cake, Pippin? Did you make it yourself?”

Pippin bobbed his head up and down, pointing to his toy. “Tulip too! We’re partners, we made it together.” He leaned close and whispered in a rather loud voice, “She’s certain we’re going to win, you know. I’d hate to see her disappointed, but I did tell her there’s a chance we might not. Oh, and my cousin Merry helped too, but he doesn’t want to be on the entry.”

“My goodness, your toy piggy helped?” Petunia chuckled.

“Oh, aye, but Tulip isn’t really a toy, you know. She just lets everyone think she is. She has her very own apron that Pearl made for her.”

“Really.” Petunia glanced at Eglantine. Pippin’s mother shrugged, as if to say it was quite obvious to her that Tulip was a real piglet masquerading as a knitted toy. “All right, well I’ll just put both of your names on the entry form, all right Pip?”

“Splendid!” Pippin plucked Tulip off the table and perched her on his shoulder. “Mum, can I go with Merry and look at everything else now?”

“Go ahead,” Eglantine said, gesturing for her nephew to join them. “Just be on your best behaviour, m’lad. And don’t wander off.”

“We won’t, Aunt Tina. Come on, Pip. I see Frodo’s already done helping Bilbo unload the carts. Let’s go see what everyone else is doing.”

“I want to go to the toffee maker’s booth.” Pippin trotted off ahead of his cousin.

Eglantine looked up in alarm. “Merry,” she called, “be sure he doesn’t eat too many sweets!” Her nephew waved his acknowledgement before sprinting after the youngster.

“Missus Took, your Pippin is so delightful. Oh my, how he does chatter on. I hope he wins the red ribbon.”

“Thank you, dear. What time does the judging begin, by the way?”

“Ten o’clock on the dot, that’s what Mister Goodbody said.”

“I’d better make sure Esmeralda gets her cake over here right away, then. I’ll see you later on, Petunia.” Eglantine went in search of her sister-in-law.


A crowd had gathered around the tent where the cake judging was taking place. Merry chortled as he listened to the comments about the unusual flavour of their entry. He nudged Pippin and whispered in his ear, “They love it, just like I said they would.”

The judges began placing the Ribbons on the winning baked goods. Merry tugged his little cousin inside the tent, eager to know the outcome. Their view was blocked at first and he and Pippin held their breath, then burst into cheers when the crowd parted and they spied the winning Red Ribbon lying in front of the three layer cake iced in white and adorned with fresh strawberries. Pippin and Tulip’s ‘Splendid Strawberry Surprise’ had indeed taken first place.

“See, Pip? I told you the liqueur would work,” Merry crowed. “They’re making quick work of it, too. It’s almost half gone.”

Pippin waved Tulip in the air. The piglet squeaked her dismay with the aerial view and demanded her lad put her down where she could enjoy looking at her Ribbon! “Sorry, m’lass,” Pippin giggled. “I’m just so very excited!” He spied his parents coming towards them and jumped up and down with delight as he plunked Tulip down beside the cake. “Mum, Da! We won, look! Tulip, Merry and I won the Red Ribbon!”

“Well, I’ll be.” Paladin stared at the long line of cakes, his son’s displayed proudly in the center bearing a large Red Ribbon. “Tina, he actually won. And look at all the folks sampling it.” Paladin shook his head in amazement. “Why, it’s over half gone already.” They could hear a variety of commentary as hobbits both young and old passed them bearing pieces of the cakes that were now being sliced and distributed to the crowd. ‘What an unusual taste’ and ‘I simply must have the recipe’ were the most often overheard remarks.

Bilbo ambled up to the tent, keen to see what was going on. He broke into a huge grin when he saw the winning entry. “Oh, bravo, lads! Bravo! Well done!”

Pippin sprinted up to him and hugged his legs. “Cousin Bilbo, Tulip and Merry and I won first prize!”

“Yes, yes I see. Isn’t that brilliant?” Bilbo hugged the youth and patted Tulip on her head. “Whatever did you do to make it so special?”

“We used licker!” Pippin declared proudly, then grunted as Merry slapped a hand over his mouth, making the last word come out sounding something like ‘pepper’.

“Pepper, indeed. Ah well, whatever you used it must be marvelous indeed. Now I simply must have a taste of it myself.” Bilbo scurried away.

“Pip, I told you it was our secret ingredient,” Merry hissed in his cousin’s ear.

“I’m sorry, I just forgot because I was so excited.”

“It’s all right, but be more careful. We don’t want anyone to find out our secret.” Merry winked knowingly at him. 


“Mercy, it appears Togo Goodbody has been into the ale already.” Eglantine frowned at one of the cake judges. “See how tipsy he is, Pad? One would think he could have at least waited until the baked goods were all decided on.”

Paladin raised an eyebrow as the subject of his wife’s disapproval walked by them unsteadily. He turned a thoughtful eye to the rest of the crowd before noticing the winning cake was almost gone already. “I’m going to have a taste myself,” he told his wife. He found Bilbo nibbling on a slice, a huge grin on his face.

“You simply must taste it before it’s all gone, Paladin. I think you’ll find it’s got a most curious flavour.”

“Oh?” Paladin reached for a piece and took a hesitant sniff and then a bite. He considered his cousin’s words as a slow grin of understanding came over his face. “Where did they find their secret ingredient, do you suppose?”

“Oh, I don’t suppose at all. I know exactly where they found it. On the third shelf to the right of the apple brandy in my root cellar. My very expensive fine fruit liqueurs. Hmm, I would guess around four bottles. Your lad didn’t concoct this escapade up by himself, though. He couldn’t have even reached them without help.” Bilbo’s eyes tracked Merry as the youngster whispered to a giggling Pippin near the opening of the tent.

“Pippin kept saying he’d copied an old recipe from a book at Great Smials. Now I find myself wondering what book he found,” Paladin said. He shrugged. “Ah well. You have to admit, they did make a mighty fine cake. And one that has a wee bit of an extra kick to it, eh?”

“Yes, indeed.”



“We’d best not be letting Tina or Esmie hear about it. Are we agreed?”

Bilbo watched thoughtfully as several of the fair goers helped a tipsy Togo Goodbody back to his feet for the second time. “Yes, I do believe that would be for the best.” He stuck the remainder of his cake in his mouth and closed his eyes while he savoured it blissfully. “But I do believe I’m going to have to get the recipe from the lads myself.”

Paladin’s eyes widened. “Oh?”

“It would be just the thing to make for Gandalf the next time he visits the Shire.”

“Why, is he fond of strawberry liqueur?”

“That, and he’ll appreciate the good tale that will come with the cake!” Bilbo’s eyes twinkled as he reached for the last piece, only to find someone else pinching the tasty morsel before he could claim it. Bilbo blinked in surprise.

Saradoc neatly popped the bite into his own mouth with a wink of conspiracy. “Bilbo, why, it pains me to think you weren’t going to save a slice for me! Ah, this is indeed a most unusual tasting cake.” He smirked as he shoved the rest of the cake into his mouth and wiped his hands on his britches as if he was but a small lad himself.

“Aye, it’s a shame we didn’t save any for the boys. After all, they did make it,” Paladin said.

“This will certainly be a faire to remember,” Saradoc said.

“Aye, and sometimes a cake is just not what it seems, eh?” Paladin winked at them.

All three burst into uproarious laughter.


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