PIPPIN CATCHES A COLD - part 4

PART 4

Gandalf leapt up. He grasped the hobbit about the waist and gave his chest a violent blow. When this failed, he leant Pippin over one arm, like a worn cloak, and thumped the un-breathing back so hard Frodo feared Pippin's back would break.

It didn't break, though. A large mass of thick, dark effluvia was projected from Pippin's mouth. With a raw, sawing sound, his breath came back. His color improved, though he did not wake.

The three of them gave a sigh of relief, as though in chorus. They might have been amused if they knew that each had thought they did indeed sound like a chorus, but there was no way any of the three could have known this. It was enough that Gandalf had rescued Pippin from death's own door.

The alarm had driven out the memory of Pippin's behavior prior to his seizure. Later, they would recall this incident and discuss it, but by then too much was going on to deliberate in depth this ghastly aside.

Brush rattled and snapped as some of the searchers returned. They had found feverfew and other medicinals as well.

Gimli in particular was pleased to present a yellow, powdery mineral. He sternly warned that though it was a mineral, it was also a powerful drug, and must be used sparingly. "We dwarves," he remarked, "have our own curatives, though we are tough as granite. Even a dwarf may fall ill. It is a powerful medicine. The less used," Gimli warned, "the less the danger. We dwarves delve for more than gold, silver, iron and mithril, and this is one of the things we delve for. Only by great grace did I come across it. It is usually much more difficult to find, and fate has smiled upon us this day."

The remaining searchers returned, each bearing medicinal roots and herbs. Sam had found some roots known for their curative powers. It was known in the Shire as Death's Conqueror, though he did not know its proper name. He reflected that it was a good thing his Old Gaffer had such a good memory and passed his "learnin'", as he called it, to his steadfast son.

Gandalf recounted the tale of Pippin's close call. Sam began to be seriously worried. He noted that Frodo looked particularly pale and shaken. He took his job of seeing to Mr. Frodo as an honor as well as a duty. Sam would not have thought himself a soldier, but in his devotion to duty, he was as much a soldier as the bravest and most loyal trooper.

Aragorn returned bearing many of the same medicinals as the rest, but also bearing the plant and root of the Nightshade. He explained that when given in minute amounts, it was a wonderful curative. Handled carelessly, it was a deadly poison. This worried Sam to no end, but he felt it was not his place to cast doubt on Aragorn.

Sam watched silently as Aragorn boiled water to prepare both concoction and decoction. The oily juices of some of the plants that had been gathered smelled awful, but he assured the others that he was well aware of what he was doing. As a Ranger, he had been forced to know how to treat himself and any he came across in need of medicine. In fact, his healing skills were held in high regard, though he would never make such a boast. There was no conceit in this self-awareness, but a certain surety and a confidence.

Sam hoped Pippin would recover, and that right soon. There were many hobbits that would never let him forget the class he'd sprung from; Merry and Pippin were not counted among them, and as for Frodo, well, these things seemed to matter little, if any at all, to him. Somehow Mr. Frodo seemed to be above such mediocrity, though Sam would not have used the term.

Sam recalled the days when Pippin had been under his and Frodo's care. He thought of his Rosie, and how he would someday like to father as many little hobbits as he could feed. He often amused himself with thinking what each one would look like or be named. He sometimes even thought about what it would be like to be a grandfather. He hoped any child or grandchild would be not quite the challenge Pippin had been, but thought also that it shouldn't be such a bad thing if this should come to pass, after all. And then he thought, suppose I have children, and Pippin has children, and they marry?

He found the thought both alarming as well as charming. "That rhymes," he thought, "mayhap I could make a poem for Pippin with `charming' and `alarming' in it." Sam thought little of his poetic talents, though he was much better at it than he thought. Humble, grounded Sam was not the type to sing his own praises.

Sam missed his Rosie terribly, though he had been too shy to let his feelings for her show. "If we live through this, and I expect we will, I will tell her." He thought.

He recalled how Pippin had been so patient in helping Sam with his lessons in letters and numbers. Even though he had been quite taken aback with Pippin's seriousness in helping him learn, he could also recall that even in this, Pippin had his mischievous side.

Sam smiled to himself. He recalled Pippin making him write over and over again, "the sixth sweet sick swain's sixth sweet sheep is sick". Only Pippin could have devised such a thing.

Sam watched as Aragorn medicated the sick hobbit, forcing small amounts of liquid into Pippin's mouth, then patiently waiting for it to trickle down his throat. Not for the first time did Sam regret his initial impression of Aragorn. Here was one of the Big Folk that Sam felt was truly worthy, worthier than anyone he had ever met.

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