Politics of Arda
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When the King Comes Back (the Great Smials): 5. Chapter 5
Once in the privacy of their own room, Paladin turned to Eglantine as they made ready for bed.
“How much of all that did you believe?”
She rounded on him angrily. “Paladin Took! How could you sit there and listen to that voice, and see that face, and not know every word for the awful truth?”
He was abashed. “Oh, I know. I’ve no doubt that he, at least, believed every word. But how do we know that these Elves and Big People and what not were telling *him* the truth. Seems they found all the nastiest jobs to stick our boys with. Even Gandalf, I had always thought him a friend to hobbits, but now I wonder about his motives all these years. We’ve seen enough of Big People this year to know how ‘trustworthy’ they are!”
Eglantine snorted. “Oh, my yes. And of course, Lotho Pimple and Ted Sandyman would be bright and shining examples of hobbit-kind, I trust! You, my dear, are simply trying to find a way to save face, after having been so spectacularly *wrong*!”
And what’s so bad about saving face? He thought without saying it aloud, knowing her mood. He turned the subject back to Pippin.
“Well, at any rate, it wasn’t *all* the truth, mind you. He left a lot out there, near the end.”
She nodded. “Oh that was quite clear. I can guess some of it: whatever that ‘foolish mistake’ was, and something dreadful happened in that city with that Denethor person. I’ve *never* heard our lad use that tone of voice about another being in my life. And of course, it’s obvious he was hurt a lot worse by that troll than he admitted. I hope that we’ll have the rest of it out of him in a few days. If we don’t,” she said smugly, “ I’ll have a word with young Merry. He’ll tell his Aunt Tina the truth.”
Not for the first time Paladin marveled at the deviousness of females. Of course, even if it would have occurred to him to question Meriadoc, it would do no good, not when his nephew learned of the state of things between the Tooks and the Brandybucks, and what Paladin had said to his father. He was going to have to eat humble pie there, too. It really stuck in his craw.
The Thain and his lady lay awake for a long time, each trying to pretend for the other’s sake, to be asleep.
Eglantine finally slipped out of the bed, and made her way to Pippin’s room. When she returned a long while later, she saw Paladin was awake.
“It’s ’father’ he’s calling for, in his troubled sleep.”
She finally slept. Paladin did not.
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