Young Brandybuck-Part 3 - Watching Pippin
Merry had begun visiting Bag End before Pippin was born. He, in the same way Pippin looked up to Merry, looked up to Frodo. Frodo, in Merry's eyes, could do no wrong. He was always agreeable and content, although he did claim to have stolen mushrooms as a young hobbit. Merry wasn't quite sure how much he believed this. So when Pippin was five and Merry was thirteen, Pippin began visiting Bag End as well. It was actually Pippin's mum's idea, in an attempt to get Pippin out of her hair for a little while. Merry approved of the idea and began taking a different route to Bag End by way of the Great Smials to pick up Pippin.
Merry had not the least idea, however, how difficult it would be baby-sitting Pippin. Pippin had an irrepressible energy, and Merry found himself constantly keeping him out of trouble. Dinner time was a mess. Merry found no way to carry on a conversation with Frodo or Bilbo, for he was constantly chiding Pippin. Everything was, "Pippin, sit still", "Pippin, keep your hands out of my taters," or "No, Pippin, you cannot play under the table right now. We're eating." It was incredible.
The Gamgees offered help in disiplining Pippin. Occasionally, Master Hamfast would allow Pippin to come over so Sam could watch him while Merry could have some time to visit with Frodo and Bilbo in peace and quiet. Having six children of his own, Master Hamfast could look after Pippin with more ease and experience than Frodo, Bilbo, or Merry.
However, there did come a day when Pippin's only overseers were Merry and Sam. Frodo and Bilbo had gone into Hobbiton to pay a visit to an elderly relative. They both knew that Pippin would not be able to contain his energy for any amount of time at an elderly relative's house, so they left him with Merry and Sam at the Gamgee's house. However, during the course of the morning, every one of the Gamgees left Number Three for some type of errand or other reasons. Sam and Merry were left to watch over Pippin.
After hours of constant hide-and-seek in the yard and in the house, Merry began to grow weary and Sam's patience was dwindling. Nearing the end of game 25, Merry had had enough.
"Pippin, we give up!" Merry cried, "Come on out!" There was a great clatter in the kitchen as Pippin tumbled out of the pantry.
"You weren't even looking!" Pippin exclaimed, disapprovingly.
"We did, too," Sam said, "We've been lookin' for a half an hour. And you shouldn't have been in the pantry anyway. The door gets stuck sometimes; you might have gotten trapped. Gaffer would never have let us live if that happened, Merry..." Merry nodded, understanding.
"Pippin, let's do something else," he said. Pippin gave a little sigh and sat on the floor.
"Like what?" he asked, bouncing a bit. Merry looked at Sam for some kind of inspiration. Sam just shrugged. Merry racked his brain for a few minutes, then said:
"We could take a boat out on Bywater--"
"No!" Pippin cried, at the same time Sam said, "I'd be too tempted to throw him in." Pippin crossed his arms and frowned at Sam.
"That wasn't very nice!" he said, "I think your Gaffer would have a few things to say about that."
"I think my Gaffer would have a few things to say about you," Sam snapped back, looking cross.
"Sam, your Gaffer always has a few things to say," Merry said, which was the truth. They needed to get out of the house. They all were getting punchy and fidgety. Maybe a good walk would cure what ailed them.
"Pippin, let's go for a walk," Merry suggested. Pippin eyes brightened.
"Just you and me?" he asked. Merry looked at Sam. That hadn't come to mind, but Sam did need a break. He had been playing hard and Pippin was starting to wear away at his nerves, Merry could tell.
"That all right with you, Sam?" Merry asked. Sam nodded in approval.
"I'll clean up things while you're out," Sam said, "I don't think my Gaffer should see this place like it is now..."
"Righto, Sam. Come on, then, Pip! Let's skip on up to Bag End for our walking sticks, then we'll be off on our adventure!"
Pippin whooped, enthusiastically, and darted for the door. Sam shot Merry a grateful look, but Merry just grinned. He needed some time alone with Pippin.
They "skipped" up to Bag End (Pippin insisted on it), grabbed their walking sticks, and headed down the Hill, and then north-west in the direction of Rushock Bog.
The day was bright and warm, but not too warm. It seemed impossible to break a sweat, but neither one of the hobbits got cold. Pippin skipped along, making up little ditties as he went, sometimes singing songs that Merry knew, other times ones of his own invention. Most rarely made sense, but occasionally he would sing one of Bilbo's songs, and then Merry would join in. Pippin had a little voice, and listening to him sing, even if his lyrics didn't make sense, was somehow refreshing and yet almost heart wrenching. Rather like a hobbit whose future was sad and he somehow knew it would be. At one point, he halted ontop of a hill and pointed down at the valley below.
"Look, Merry," he said, "Isn't it lovely?" Merry smiled, for he knew it was lovely, but he didn't think Pippin saw it. The sun was high in the sky, shining down on the little meadow, specked with daffodils and cowslips. The air was carried the frangrace of the flowers and a breeze came, soft and warm.
Merry looked down at Pippin, wondering what he was thinking. Pippin's eyes scanned the horizon, as though he were looking for something.
"Someday, Merry," he said, "we'll go all the way to the Tower Hills and climb the tallest one so we can see the Sea." Merry ruffled Pippin's mop of brown curls and put his arm around him.
"What for?" he asked.
"To say we did it," Pippin answered, leaning his head against Merry's side, "No hobbit ever has."
"Who told you that?" Merry asked, looking down at him.
Merry thought about this for a moment. It was rather a lovely idea, going to see the Sea. Cute that Pippin would think of it, too. Just then, Pippin began to sing again:
"When the cold of winter comes
Starless night will cover day.
In the veiling of the sun,
we will walk in bitter rain.
But in dreams,
I can hear your name.
And in dreams,
We will meet again.
When the seas and mountains fall,
And we come to end of days,
In the dark I hear a call,
Calling me there, I will go there
And back again."
"That was depressing," Merry told him. Pippin looked up at him, grinning.
"It was just for you," he said, sweetly, yet with the hint of a jest. Merry laughed, ruffling his hair again.
"Where did you hear it?" he asked.
"I forget," Pippin said, "I might have made it up."
"You `might have'?" Merry echoed, giving him an incredulous look. Pippin shrugged.
"I don't know where I heard it," he said, "Maybe in my dreams..." He burst out laughing, and elbowed Merry in the stomach.
"Let's go on, Merry!" he exclaimed, jumping a bit, "Let's not wait for the seas and mountains to fall!"
"You are just about the oddest Took I've ever met," Merry said, "and that's saying a lot."
"You're starting to sound like Sam," Pippin informed him, "and Mum says I get all this from you."
"Well, your Mum's a Took, too," Merry said.
"So's your Mum!" Pippin pointed out. Merry couldn't deny that. So, instead, he grabbed Pippin about the waist and threw Pippin over his shoulder.
"Any Brandybuck is still stronger than any Took!" he exclaimed, beginning to jog down the hill.
"You're all a bunch of knuckleheads!" Pippin shot back, starting to laugh, "Put me down!" He beat Merry on the back with his little fists, but Merry declared that he hardly felt it. Then, Merry's foot slipped into a dip on the hill and both he and Pippin went sprawling. In the next moment, they both were on their backs, staring up at the clouds. Merry looked over at Pippin, who had raised his head to look at Merry.
"Knuckleheads..."was all Pippin had to say. They dissolved into a fit of laughter.
Sam was finishing putting away the last of the breakfast dishes when Merry burst in the door.
"Sam! We need to call out a search party NOW!" Merry was in a frenzy: his face was pale and his clothes were dirty.
"What happened?" Sam asked.
"That fool of a Took!" Merry exclaimed, "I had my back turned from his for no more than two minutes, and he's gone! Sam, I've looked everywhere for him. He's disappeared!"
"Sam, you've left your door wide open! Hullo, Merry," Frodo had popped in, with Daisy Gamgee right behind him, "I've come to collect you and Pippin. Arda, Merry, why are you so pale?"
"I've lost him, Frodo," Merry confessed. Frodo's bright smile faded instantly. He glanced first at Daisy, then at Sam.
"Lost Pippin?" he inquired. Merry nodded, close to tears.
"I took him out for a walk because we were all getting a little edgy," he choked, "We were up by The Water and that little forest up northwest of here. I had my back turned for no more than two minutes. We were skipping stones, see, and I had gone to look for a nice one for Pippin. I turned around and there was no sign of him. I searched for a half an hour, but there was no trace of him. I'm so sorry, Frodo. We're going to have to call out a search party."
"Now, let's not get all uppity about this," Daisy said, "He may only be playing a simple prank. Why don't the four of us go on up to The Water where you two were and we'll all look for him. Perhaps between the four of us, we'll be able to find him. And if it gets dark and we still haven't found him, then we'll send out a search party. And when we do find him, you can be the first to throttle him, Merry." Merry couldn't help but smile a little.
"Oh, believe me, I'll do more than throttle him when we find him..." Like, perhaps, cry...
He didn't say that last part, though. That was something he didn't dare confess.
They all grabbed cloaks and walking sticks and headed out at a great pace towards the northwest. Merry brought them to the very spot where he and Pippin had been skipping stones. They all looked around for any signs of where he might have slipped off to.
"Merry, look at this!" Daisy pulled out a walking stick from some over-grown underbrush.
"This isn't your's, is it?" she asked. Merry shook his head.
"That's Pippin's," he said, "but that doesn't tell us anything about where he's gone. Only that he ditched his stick before he left."
"Actually, it can tell us a few things," Daisy said, "It says he probably meant to leave, seeing as we can't find him anywhere around here. If he had dropped it while hiding, he would be around this area. But he isn't. So he probably got rid of it before running off."
"But why would he run off?" Merry asked, "We were having so much fun!" Now he was hurt. Why had Pippin deserted him after such an enjoyable afternoon?
"Merry," Frodo spoke up, "are these Pippin's footprints?" Merry looked at what his cousin pointed at. Near where Daisy had found the stick, there were tiny, barefooted tracks heading east.
"That'd be him," Merry said, then turned to Sam, "Listen, Sam, we'll follow these footprints, but why don't you head home and wait for your Gaffer to come back. If weren't not back before dark, send out a search party. Daisy, you stay here in case Pippin heads back this way. Frodo and I will go on." Everyone agreed and soon followed their orders.
Frodo and Merry followed the tracks into the trees. They weren't sufficient tracks for anyone to follow, so Frodo and Merry soon had to split up to find anymore traces of Pippin. They didn't stray any farther than earshot distance from each other, and found this rather difficult way to search. But Frodo soon came across more tracks, and he and Merry turned their feet westward. They had gone not much more than a half mile when Merry saw something. It looked like nothing more than a tuff of fabric sticking up out of some dead leaves, but when they got closer, it was much more than that.
"Great Arda!" Merry swore, and raced over to the base of a great oak tree, for there, face-down, lay Pippin, completely unconsious and bleeding from the head.
To Be Continued...
Author's Note: I haven't stopped like this yet in any of the hobbit's stories, so I thought I'd give it a try. Heehee! There are two more posts left, so enjoy Merry while you can! I'm still taking suggestions, even though I've pretty much got it all mapped out. If there's anything else you can think of that you'd like to know about Merry, say something in your comment. I like to hear from my readers. Part 4 will come soon, and I think you'll like it. Cheers!