9. Chapter 9
A lot had happened over the past week. A search party sent to the spot where Pippin had been ambushed found the body of one ruffian, but no sign of the other. A few days later, Pippin himself had led an expedition into the Southfarthing to deal with a band of five holed up in one of Lotho’s old leaf sheds.
Messages had been exchanged with Hobbiton and Buckland, and last night Saradoc had arrived, accompanied by Merry, Frodo and Esmerelda.
Paladin’s attempt to apologize to his brother-in-law was cut short when Saradoc stepped up and caught him in a hug. “Say no more about it, brother. It’s all in the past and that was a bad time for us all. All our boys are back now and just look at them!” Saradoc’s grin and gesture included all three of the returned travelers, and Frodo blushed. He had only just discovered that he, too, had been missed while he was gone.
Now that the crowd was assembled, the five hobbits stepped up to the small platform that the Thain had had made for the purpose: the Thain of the Tooks, the Master of Buckland, and the Deputy Mayor of the Shire, flanked on either side by a magnificent Knight of Rohan and a splendid Knight of Gondor. Paladin stood forward.
“My dear hobbits, I have summoned you all here today to hear an important message, one that will change the Shire forever!” He gestured at Pippin.
In a ringing voice, that *seemed* bold and confident (probably only Merry knew just how nervous he really was) Pippin read aloud the message from the King. He got through it quite well, blushing only twice: at “Sir Peregrin son of Paladin” and at the end, when the crowd erupted into loud cheers.
In two weeks, they would repeat this scene: in Buckland and in Hobbiton; in the meantime, Frodo had re-instated the Postal Service, and was having copies made of the message, to be distributed throughout the Shire. Soon all would know that the King had, indeed, “come back”.
The five headed into the Smials. Paladin, Saradoc and Frodo went to Paladin’s study to work on the reply to Aragorn.
Merry and Pippin retreated to Pippin’s room for a smoke and a visit. Merry laughed when he entered the room. “Well, that’s *one* solution!”
Pippin had removed the headboard and footboard to his bed. He grinned as they sprawled upon it. “It does help. But Father’s having a new one built for me.”
“Me, too. But this seems like a good idea in the meantime.”
“Frodo’s seeming much more like his old self,” said Pippin.
“Well, he does *seem* to be a little bit better right *now*,” Merry replied cautiously. He was much less optimistic about Frodo’s full recovery than Sam or Pippin. Even on his best days his cousin’s blue eyes held a hunted look.
Pippin took a puff on his pipe. “So I hear you are a wealthy hobbit.”
“S’true, s’true,” murmured Merry smugly. “Of course I seem to remember Aragorn making a rather generous gift to *you*.”
“One hundred fifty silver pennies, and another fifty from Faramir. But that was just for my knighting.”
Merry grinned wickedly. “Pip, he did *not* release you from his service; can you *possibly* imagine Aragorn being less generous than Eomer?”
With a whoop, Pippin accidentally inhaled. Merry pounded him good naturedly on the back as he coughed. “Good grief! Wait’ll Father finds out! You really do think?”
Merry laughed. “Yes, Pip, unlike you, *I* really do think.”
Pippin rolled his eyes, and they smoked in silence for a few moments.
“Do you want to come with me when I take the message to Bree?”
“Cousin, I thought you’d never ask!”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.