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Room for Adventure  by cathleen

“A Long-Ago Adventure”

Part Two


Pippin awoke with a start, rolling off the couch and landing on the floor with a thud. Lily leaped, using his shoulder as a springboard and giving an indignant meow at the abrupt change in position.  

He scrambled to a sitting position and yawned, looking around with eyes not quite focused. Had someone called his name? Pippin squinted into the dimness and wondered where he was. Awareness slowly dawned along with the remnants of his dream. He’d been rooting about in the hidden room and had fallen asleep with his nose in the journal. He seemed to recall talking with someone, another lad perhaps a few years older than he, and they’d been interrupted by the shout.

Pippin shot to his feet. “Oh! I wonder what time it is?”


The shout came again, muffled by distance; this time the voice sounded annoyed and Pippin realised it was Pervinca.

“It’s time for tea! Wherever are you, Peregrin Took? Mum said we couldn’t start without you so you’d best come out of hiding now or I’ll. . .”

The rest of her threat was muffled as she moved away. Pippin sniggered, picturing Vinca getting lost on her search and then returning to find he’d eaten her share of the ginger biscuits as well as his own. It was a pleasant daydream, although Pippin knew his mother would not allow it to happen. More likely he would be stuck waiting for Vinca to return from her errand and the tea would get cold!

Lily took a leisurely stretch and padded to the door, pausing to toss a look over her shoulder as if to say ‘you’d better hurry up or all the food will be gone and we shan’t get anything’. Then she hooked a paw between the door and the jamb and was gone.

He was about to follow Lily when he felt something beneath his foot. He stooped to retrieve a furrowed piece of paper, staring at it for a moment before unfolding it carefully. The scrap was yellowed with age, the ink smeared, but the antiquated script was still legible.

“Hullo! What’s this?” The shadows had moved in and despite his best efforts squinting did little good.

Pervinca called again and he jumped; it sounded like Teriadoc Brandybuck was with her this time and it simply would not do to have either of them discover what he had come to think of as his secret place, so Pippin crammed the paper into his pocket and hurried away.

As the door swung shut behind him, Pippin paused, certain he had detected a giggle of amusement in the gloom behind him. Turning slowly, eyes wide, he pushed the door open and scanned the room. All was quiet save for the ticking of the clock on the mantel of the room’s fireplace. Pippin chewed on the inside of his cheek, pondering. Had the clock been ticking on his earlier excursion? After taking one more look around the room he shrugged and closed the door. The latch clicked softly into place and Pippin dashed off, a smile playing about the corners of his mouth.  


The next day Pippin stood with fisted hands on hips, eyeing his surroundings. He clutched the piece of paper with the air of one who has been duly challenged, determined to make sense of the puzzle. It had been impossible to study his find without interruption the night before, so Pippin had settled for tucking it back into his pocket, eagerly awaiting another opportunity to steal away.

He sniffed at the air, noticing the room seemed a little less stuffy, as if someone had stolen in and cleaned during the night. He thought he even detected the scent of the oil his mother used to polish the furniture at home in Whitwell. Pippin ran his finger down the length of the great oaken desk and then stared at it thoughtfully. He was familiar with untidiness, and dirt was certainly no stranger, so it wouldn’t have bothered him in the least if he’d found his finger blackened with grime. The odd part of it was, there was no more dust on the desk. Well, perhaps I wiped most of it away with my sleeves yesterday, without really noticing, he thought, while I was looking through the book.

Pippin retrieved the journal and scooted back into a comfortable spot on the couch, pulling his legs up to sit tailor-fashion. Resting the book on his knees he opened it up, smoothing out the yellowed paper on top of the pages. Lily hopped up to join him and after grooming her coat to the luster of freshly churned cream, curled against his leg with a sigh of contentment. Pippin stroked her soft fur absent-mindedly and studied the map.

After several moments had passed he glanced at Lily with a grin of triumph. “Lily, I’m certain this must be the map that lad was referring to! It’s very old and brittle. But I wonder who left it in the book?” Pippin began eagerly turning the pages looking for the passage he’d read the day before. “Here’s what I was reading yesterday. Listen to this!”  Pippin read aloud from the journal.

. . .Pandora rushed in, all out of breath and pulled Prima into a corner and began telling her all about a map she’d found in one of the old rooms far back in the Smials. Pandora must have said something very interesting because all of a sudden Prima got dreadfully excited and shouted ‘Do you really mean it?’ . . .but Pandora was very eager to hush her up. . .

Pippin sighed. “I wish I knew what Pandora was talking about, don’t you, lass?” Lily chirped at her young master and brushed a paw over one ear twice before laying her head down again. It seemed she wasn’t nearly as excited about the matter as Pippin was.

“Well, perhaps there’s more about what happened after that.” Pippin settled in and began to read. Nearby, the clock ticked away on the mantel, passing the time and adding to the tranquility of the room and its occupants.

23 September

I still have not found my best marble, even after searching everywhere in the Smials, or so it seems. Mother said it would be in the very last place I look and I suppose that makes sense. Why should I keep looking elsewhere after I have found it? Adults say some very confusing things sometimes.

Pandora and Prima are quite infuriating. They whisper together in the corner and skip away whenever I come near. I know they are hiding something. I am certain they are talking about the map Pandora found and their secrecy is driving me mad. Of course, I am sure that is the way they have planned it, for the two of them enjoy nothing better than to torment me. Ah me, why is it always the fate of the youngest to suffer for the pleasure of one’s elder sisters? I would tell Father what they are about if only I could be certain they would not corner me and thump me soundly for tattling!

Pippin giggled into his hand. “I do hope this lad was bright enough not to do such a thing,” he told Lily. “Although whenever Vinca has thumped me I’ve always found a way to turn the tables on her.” Lily opened one eye and looked up, her skepticism plain. She twitched her long whiskers at him. “All right, I usually find a way,” he admitted. As if satisfied with his confession, Lily stretched out with a purr and closed her eyes again while Pippin returned to his reading.

But I have a plan. And it is a good thing that Mother does not insist on reading my lessons. But she says a lad should have a place to put his private thoughts and as long as I practice my penmanship, she is pleased. That reminds me, though. She did mention I should have the. . .how did she put it again? Oh yes, she said I should have the sagacity to put my journal somewhere for safekeeping in order to avoid prying eyes. I wonder if she was referring to Prima?

Pippin muttered, “Yes, a bright lad without a doubt. Although I wonder why this book was left lying about then? Perhaps he forgot to put it away the last time he wrote in it? Hmm, I wonder if his sisters ever stole a look when he wasn’t about?” Lily offered no comment. “I wonder what his plan was?” Pippin flipped through the pages before resuming where he’d left off. A short time later he began to chuckle. “We’re going on a treasure hunt, lass!” Pippin slid off the couch, tucking the book under his arm and motioning for the cat to follow. “Come, Lily, we’re going to explore farther into the old part of the Smials. There’s a good lass!” He crammed the map inside the journal and hurried to the door.

Against her better judgment, Lily obediently hopped down and followed. After all, someone had to keep an eye on Pippin.













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