chapter 3 The Third Element The Clear Air of a Secret Truth

<p><br /> Pippin had laughed even as he wept, watching the ship sail away with Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf. He had laughed because he knew <br /> in his heart that Frodo needed healing, the kind of healing he could get only in the Undying Lands. He had wept for the aching of his <br /> young heart, breaking with the fullness of knowledge that these beloved ones he would not see again in his lifetime. Three more <br /> gone&mdash;&mdash;yet not gone as Boromir was gone. At least there was that much good in it, that, and Frodo going to a place which could <br /> ease his burdens as no other place in all the world could.<br /> He and Merry had ridden back singing, for singing often lifted their hearts when little else could. The evening after they had gotten <br /> home to the little cottage in Crickhollow they shared for a time, he and Merry sat beside the fire while Pippin carved. Merry had <br /> been watching Pippin closely when he worked on his carvings. The oddness of Pippin&rsquo;s eyes with their drowsy, dreaming look <br /> as he worked gave nothing away, and Merry wondered if perhaps Pippin was merely caught up in what he was doing. Merry&rsquo;s <br /> own mother sometimes got lost in her tasks when she painted, seeming to withdraw into the world created by her paint and brush. <br /> Merry continued to keep half an eye on his cousin. If something should go amiss, Merry would discover it.<br /> He handed Pippin a fresh piece of wood, for Pippin had finished the one of Gandalf. As Pippin began to carve, Merry unwrapped <br /> the little wooden figure of Gandalf to inspect the finished piece. As he marveled yet again at the smallest of details, he noticed that <br /> Gandalf held something in his tiny wooden hand. He looked more closely at it, but could recall no such item ever being in Gandalf&rsquo;s <br /> possession. &ldquo;What is this in his hand, Pippin?&rdquo; he asked.<br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure it is a necklace,&rdquo; Pippin said. &ldquo;It was just there somehow, though I do not know what kind of necklace it is, or where it <br /> came from. Still, there is something about it which looks familiar.&rdquo;<br /> &ldquo;Aye,&rdquo; Merry agreed, &ldquo;Oddly familiar, that.&rdquo; Merry traced around the tiny detail with the tip of one finger. &ldquo;I cannot think what it is, <br /> but it does look somehow familiar.&rdquo; He shrugged and scratched his head. &ldquo;Well, all this wondering has made me hungry. Would <br /> you care for some tea before bed time?&rdquo;<br /> &ldquo;Tea?&rdquo; Pippin stretched and yawned. &ldquo;Thank you very much, cousin, but I am all done in; it&rsquo;s bed and a good sleep for me. The <br /> day has been a long one.&rdquo; He rose and put away his carving and tools in the little wooden box, but did not leave the room. He <br /> simply stood there, loosely holding the little box, and with a deep sigh, stared at the fire crackling in the hearth.<br /> &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll miss them,&rdquo; Merry said, then stood beside his cousin and placed a hand on Pippin&rsquo;s shoulder. &ldquo;I shall miss them, too. <br /> And poor old Sam; I wonder how he will carry on without his dear master?&rdquo; Pippin said nothing, but nodded gently, and sighed <br /> again, and Merry sighed with him. Nothing more needed to be said.<br /> In his room, Pippin slowly undressed, wondering how it was that sometimes he felt so very old. He hung his breeches on the back <br /> of a chair, then took off his waistcoat, folding it neatly, smiling to himself that his brief time as a Knight of Gondor had changed <br /> him for the better, at least in some ways. Once upon a time, he would simply have let his garments lay wherever he dropped them. <br /> Placing the folded waiscoat neatly in the seat of the chair, he smoothed his hand lovingly over the fabric of his simple hobbit&rsquo;s <br /> garment, smiling at the hominess of it. His brow creased as his hand felt a lump in one of the deep pockets, and he dipped his <br /> fingers into it to see what the item might be, for he never put his pipe in that pocket. His fingers found the item and pulled it out. <br /> It was an envelope, with the familiar G rune impressed in the sealing wax. His hands trembled as he broke the seal and drew from <br /> the envelope two items: one, a letter, obviously from Gandalf; the other caused him to gasp in surprise, and his hands shook all the <br /> harder.<br /> Numb with surprise, looking at it, turning it over and over in his hands, he felt his heart torn between swelling and shrinking. The <br /> item, a necklace, resembled the necklace that his carved Gandalf had in his carved hand. He looked closely at it. It was strikingly <br /> beautiful, a sliver collar much like the one Boromir had worn. This one, however, was made up of a fine mesh, whereas Boromir&rsquo;s <br /> had been solid metal, whether silver or mithril Pippin had never learned. Set in the mesh collar was a white stone, the very twin of <br /> the stone that had graced Boromir&rsquo;s collar.<br /> Sticking his head out of his bedchamber door, he called, &ldquo;Merry! Merry, come and have a look at this!&rdquo; His voice sounded odd <br /> to his own ears, as if he were hearing himself from a great distance, deep in some distant dell where all was shadow and echoes.<br /> Merry came to him quickly, sensing the turmoil in his cousin&rsquo;s voice&mdash;&mdash;suddenly and inexplicably he remembered a time when <br /> Pippin had been chased up a tree by a wild boar. Pippin sounded like that now, and Merry&rsquo;s heart pounded in his chest, the very <br /> reflection of that long-ago dread, when he had been sure Pippin was about to be ripped apart by the long tusks of that horrid beast. <br /> He did not bother to knock, but opened the door in such a rush that it banged against the wall. What he found was Pippin sitting <br /> on the edge of his bed, his eyes wide with trepidation, his hands&mdash;&mdash;his delicate, talented, deadly hands&mdash;&mdash;shaking as if he had <br /> seen a ghost.<br /> Merry sat beside Pippin carefully, as if he thought a careless movement might break his cousin like a fragile piece of glass. Gingerly, <br /> he touched Pippin&rsquo;s shoulder.<br /> &ldquo;Read it to me,&rdquo; Pippin gulped, his throat making an awful clicking sound. &ldquo;I&mdash;&mdash;I do not think I can.&rdquo;<br /> Merry took the letter and read through it silently before reading it aloud. He noticed with no small amount of gratitude that Pippin <br /> did not look at him. Heaven only knew what expression might have been stamped on Merry&rsquo;s face. Well, nothing for it, Pippin <br /> wanted it read to him, and Merry would not refuse.<br /> &ldquo;It is from Gandalf. It seems to have been written rather hastily. It says, &lsquo;Dear Pippin&mdash;and Merry, too, for I know he is there <br /> with you. How not? It is most seemly that the pair of you should share this moment, for it is a thing which one may not face <br /> alone and fare very well, but with the strength of the bond between you, I have all faith this news and the gift which comes <br /> with it is not ill-given. <br /> &lsquo;I have long desired to divulge a truth to you, a secret truth, and secret it must remain, for I am sure you will come to understand <br /> that you would suffer greatly should this information ever become more than idle gossip. As you well know, long has the tale <br /> been told that the Tooks are imbued with fairy blood. Well, my dear lad, the time has come for you to know the right of it. Your <br /> clan has always been a bit odd amongst your kind, and this is why. It is no secret that among your kind, the Tooks are different. <br /> Fairy blood is accountable for many of the oddities of certain Tooks. It even called one of your clan to sea, as you well know. <br /> Elrond had knowledge of it, of course. That is why he was so against your going with us as one of the Nine Walkers. The Lady <br /> of L&oacute;rien also knew it. It was she who convinced me to divulge to you this secret, and to impart to you a special gift. If the stone <br /> looks familiar, that is because it should do so, for it is a very special stone, made by your ancient fairy ancestors. <br /> &lsquo;Once, that branch of your family&mdash;&mdash;Fae, or Sidh, they should be named&mdash;were once friends to Man, Elf and Dwarf. We do <br /> not know why faith was broken with them, unless it was because, being small and few in number, they were pushed aside by <br /> other races. We do not think the act deliberate on behalf of the other races, but the results were the same. They became hidden and secretive, so that they are now no more than fanciful tales to the world, having removed themselves to a realm unseen by mortal eyes.<br /> 'Great was the sorrow of the Sidh, and the tears of parting which they wept as they left their friends fell to the earth, it is said, <br /> and these tears became the white stones such as the one you no doubt are now holding in your hand. In bitter grief, the Sidh <br /> gathered the stones to keep their sorrow as secret as their very existence.<br /> 'Yet there must have been a time when one of the H&uacute;rinion befriended one of the Sidh, for unto the House of H&uacute;rin was given <br /> a pair of mithril collars into which had been set these special stones. The stones were the Tears of Parting, which were made <br /> of the tears of the Sidh. In the Library of Minas Tirith I found a brief description of the gifts, but it was written as though the <br /> tale was nothing more than fancy.<br /> 'But in the tale, I found a reference which caused me to think the stones had been given to protect the House of H&uacute;rin from <br /> Morgoth&rsquo;s own curse, for he hated the name of H&uacute;rin beyond all reason, and laid a curse on them, saying, "Behold! The shadow <br /> of my thought shall lie upon them wherever they go, and my hate shall pursue them to the ends of the world." <br /> &lsquo;And so was given to Boromir, son of Denethor, child of the H&uacute;rinion, the gift of a Tear of Parting, and also another to his <br /> brother Faramir, handed down through the years.<br /> 'Another was recovered from Smaug&rsquo;s hoard, and put away by Bilbo. He kept it with him for many years, having no knowledge <br /> of the treasure. He showed it to me once, many years ago, and again on our journey to depart to the Undying Lands. It was at <br /> this time that the Lady urged that this gift be left to you, as a token of fealty between the Sidh and all of the free peoples of <br /> Middle earth, for it is in you alone, Peregrin Took, my dear fool, that the blood of the Sidh still runs strong. The signs were <br /> there all along, in your inquisitiveness, in your sense of mischief, in your unquenchable nature, in your unlimited capacity to <br /> love without question, in your fealty beyond reason, yet long did I believe this was simply your character, and not related to the <br /> old tales told about the Took clan.<br /> 'Lord Elrond, the Lady and I have since become convinced that all those things are inborn in you as a legacy of your ancient <br /> ancestors. You, my dear, foolish Took, have been chosen, yes, chosen by the Valar. You were meant to be born with the blood <br /> of the Sidh beating strong in your heart, because you were meant to impart the peculiar powers of the Sidh in this great struggle <br /> to destroy the One Ring. Thus it was decided that this gift be left to you who are, perhaps, the last of your kind, unless you father <br /> children also graced with the blood of the Sidh.<br /> &lsquo;We know not if the stone holds any power still, or if it ever did, though the stones may have been vessels of great power whilst <br /> the Sidh dwelt still in Middle earth. Yet, I would ask of you that you take great care in handling it, and if you should discover <br /> that some powers reside in it still, you must be cautious. Forget not the power of the Palantiri, and what they did to you, and to <br /> poor Denethor as well. The gift of Fairy blood may be a perilous gift, made more perilous still should you handle the Tear of <br /> Parting with anything other than the greatest respect. I warn you so strongly, Peregrin Took, because I know you shall try to <br /> use it in some way, and also, my dear lad, because I have loved you as if you were my own grandchild, and in that, one must <br /> ask which of us is the greater fool.<br /> &lsquo;Having told you the tale and given you your gift, I now close this letter with deepest fondness for you and Merry. Never doubt <br /> that you shall remain forever in my heart.<br /> Gandalf&rsquo;&rsquo;<br /> &ldquo;Well, Pippin, what do you say to that?&rdquo; Merry said, studying his cousin closely.<br /> Pippin took a deep breath, and, releasing it in the deepest of sighs, he turned to Merry and at last, he spoke. &ldquo;When I carve, I go <br /> away somewhere. I am sure you have noticed it. It feels as though I am in two places at once. I could never recall actually carving, <br /> and only saw what I had done when I came back from&hellip; from the Hidden Realm. Now I know why. I am not as other hobbits are, <br /> Merry.&rdquo; He looked at his cousin, his eyes wide and brimming. &ldquo;I have never been as other hobbits. I feared as much, all my life, for <br /> I have always felt as though I did not quite fit in, you see.&rdquo;<br /> Merry placed an arm around Pippin&rsquo;s shoulder, and, tapping his forehead against Pippin&rsquo;s forehead, a custom long in practice <br /> between them, Merry said, &ldquo;Well, at least I don&rsquo;t have to tell myself that it is madness in you that has always got you in a pickle <br /> all your life.&rdquo;<br /> Pippin grinned, his face alight with his irascible nature. &ldquo;True,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But then, how am I to excuse your own madness?&rdquo;<br /> Merry joined in his laughter, and for a moment, it was if everything had gone back to the way it had always been. Then Merry, <br /> indicating the necklace with a nod of his head, said, &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t suppose I can ever talk you out of trying to use that stone?&rdquo;<br /> &ldquo;Well, you know me too well. But I shan't try to use it just yet. Certainly not tonight, at any rate,&rdquo; Pippin shrugged. &ldquo;But when I <br /> do, I will ask that you be with me, and that you keep this between us.&rdquo;<br /> &ldquo;Certainly,&rdquo; Merry said, voice warm and reassuring. &ldquo;Also, I think Gandalf&rsquo;s advice about keeping your fairy blood a secret is <br /> also wise&rdquo;.<br /> &ldquo;No one would ever understand, you know,&rdquo; Pippin sighed.<br /> &ldquo;You cannot be more right,&rdquo; Merry said. &ldquo;But just because it is a secret, that does not make the truth of it less important.&rdquo;<br /> &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; Pippin said, and nodded his assent. &ldquo;Though only we two may ever know, the truth is still there, like clear, sweet air."<br /> &ldquo;Well, let us put this aside, at least for tonight. You look very tired.&rdquo; Merry sat in a chair near Pippin&rsquo;s bed as his cousin slipped <br /> between the cool sheets. "Shall I sit here for a while, until you are sleeping?"<br /> "Yes, please," Pippin said. "You will only lie awake and worry if you don't. And I think I can go to sleep more easily, too, knowing <br /> you are here.&rdquo; As he stretched out under his blankets, Pippin sighed again, looking out of the window at the gibbous moon. <br /> &ldquo;Perhaps in a few weeks, or even months, I will look at the stone again.&rdquo; Pippin pulled his blankets up to his chin. &ldquo;But for a little <br /> while, I should like to get used to the idea of my fairy blood being real and true. Yes; that is, what I shall do for a while. I must <br /> learn to breath the clear air of secret truth.&rdquo;<br /></p>
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