Playlist Navigation Bar
Recaptured!: 23. Bitter and Sweet
Merry soon got tired of walking and wanted to sit, but
Aragorn would not let him rest yet. When he sank to the floor the ranger would
lift him back up onto his feet and push him on again. "Come on Merry, just
a little longer. Would you like something nice to eat? You must be
hungry." The ranger tried to coax him along and Pippin tugged anxiously at
him each time he faltered, but it was hard going.
"I'm too tired Aragorn, please let me sleep. Don't want
to walk, please… sleep … stop now…" Merry stood still once more but this
time Pippin, who seemed less affected by the effects of the opium pulled him
Éowyn led them down to the kitchens as Aragorn had told her
the one thing that could always hold a hobbit's attention was food and Merry
certainly should be hungry by now as he had eaten nothing since he had been
rescued and possibly not for a while before that.
The chief cook was not only a very tall but also an
enormously fat man with big ruddy cheeks and thick bulging muscles. Pippin was
overawed by what might very well have been the largest human he had ever seen.
Merry was not too sure of him either as the man had a voice to match his size.
"Hello," he boomed, "what have we here? Two hungry lads?"
"No, two hungry Holbytla, that is to say,
hobbits." Éowyn pushed Pippin forward and Merry of course followed.
"Pippin and his cousin Merry. I thought maybe, Yomyn, you might find
something tasty for them?"
"Hobbits eh? I am sure I can find something they would
like, what do hobbits eat?" Yomyn rolled his sleeves up and came towards
Pippin backed up, bumping into Merry as he did, making them
both sit down on the floor rather hard and suddenly. "Ow!" Merry
complained. Still on his backside, Pippin grabbed Merry's shirt and pulled his
cousin a bit further away from the, to the tiny hobbits, large and intimidating
Éowyn quickly explained in low tones, so that Merry could
not hear, "Pippin is unable to hear or speak and Merry is blind." She
added quickly, "Pippin is recovering from injuries and Merry has been
badly mistreated and has also consequently been very ill. Also, they have both
accidentally taken more opium than is good for them. They need to be kept awake
and I am sure they are both very hungry."
Yomyn nodded that he understood all of these complicated
facts, although he was puzzled as to why anyone would mistreat such charming
He went to a large earthenware jar with a lid and took out
two flat brown cakes shaped like little people. "Here" he stooped
down and held one out to Pippin, "A gingerbreadhobbit, you will like
Pippin glanced up at Aragorn, who nodded and the small hobbit
reached out and took the sweetmeat with a half smile. He took a bite and the
smile grew to a wide beam. Quickly he reached out and took the other
gingerbreadhobbit and put it in Merry's hand.
Merry did not know what it was, so Éowyn first traced his
hand around the shape and then lifted it up to his mouth. "Take a
bite," she said, "it is good, Pippin likes it."
Merry took a tentative bite and then, like Pippin, his whole
face lit up. "That's wonderful." he smiled. "Thank you."
Yomyn beckoned to Pippin, "Come and sit here," he
patted a wooden bench at the long scrubbed table, "I expect you would like
something to wash that down with."
Pippin tentatively took Merry over to the bench and sat them
both down. Yomyn gave them each a mug of warm milk sweetened with honey and
Pippin put a mug in his cousin's hand before tasting his own. "It’s sweet
milk!" Merry was surprised at the taste. "It's delicious."
"So now I know one thing that hobbits like to
eat," Yomyn smiled at them "and one thing they like to drink," Yomyn
opened his well-stocked larder so that Pippin could see inside "Now, while
you finish that, tell me what else you like."
Pippin's eyes widened at the abundance of good things he
could see, but he could not quite work out what he was supposed to do. His
silent world was most confusing at times. He then remembered that Merry could
talk even if he could not see and this whole situation seemed to need words. He
reached up to his cousin's lips with his fingers and moved them up and down.
Merry caught hold of his hand as that was quite annoying and he was still
trying to eat. He traced some letters in Pippin's palm, but the hobbit found it
hard to follow. Then Merry tried a different approach. He held the first finger
of Pippin's right hand and guided it to write on the tabletop, as if Pippin was
writing for himself. Pippin found this method was much easier to understand.
'w-o-t - d-o - U - l-y-k - 2 - e-a-t?' Merry decided to use
the Peregrin Took version of spelling, he knew it as well as the regular method
and also knew that Pippin would understand it better. Then he realised he did
not need to ask and wrote, 'i - w-y-l - t-e-l - h-y-m - w-o-t - U - l-y-k'
Merry began, "Pippin likes mushrooms, 'taters, carrots,
strawberries, bread and honey, bread and butter, bread and jam, bread and
cheese, porridge with sugar, apple tart, cake sometimes, custard always,
treacle pudding, treacle tart, crumpets, dumplings, toffee, stew, sausages,
bacon-and-eggs, tomatoes, cabbage, ham, some beans, gravy, pickled onions, pickled
beetroot, apples and plums, ale, cider, mead, tea-with-milk-and-sugar,
buns-with-currants, not tapioca, not rice pudding, never-ever sprouts and
that's all." Merry was quite breathless at the end of this, so added for
simplicity. "…and I like the same."
"That is quite a list, young master," Yomyn raised
his eyebrows at Pippin who had been watching Merry's lips intently but not
really following it all. "Is that everything?"
"Think so," Merry took Pippin's finger again.
"I'll make sure." He wrote, 'e-n-y-f-i-n-g - e-l-s?'
Pippin wrote in Merry's palm, 'i - d-o-n-t - n-o-w - w-o-t -
U - t-o-w-l-d - h-y-m.'
Merry wrote 'e-v-r-y-f-i-n-g'
Pippin thought. Then wrote, 'd-y-d - U - s-a-y - p-o-p-y-s'
Merry wrote, 'w-o-t?'
Pippin wrote, 'p-o-p-y-s! - l-y-k - s-t-r-y-d-r-s - g-o-t!'
Merry frowned, "Strider?" The hobbit was not sure
if the ranger was still there.
"I'm here, what is it Merry." The ranger came over
to sit on the table by the hobbits.
"Pippin is asking for poppies to eat," Merry
turned his face towards the ranger now he had located him. "He says you
have them. What does he mean? Flowers? Do you give Pippin flowers to eat?"
"Yes, ground-up poppy paste," Aragorn sighed,
sincerely wishing he had never started all this, "but it was only while he
was ill. When you don’t feel well it can help make you better by making you
sleep but it's very bad to have it all the time and Pippin is not to have any
more. It's what he gave you Merry that made you so sleepy."
"But if all it does is make you sleepy…" Merry
could be very persistent sometimes. "…why is it so bad?"
"Well," Aragorn decided Merry was awake enough now
to know what was happening. "He fed you a lot and we were frightened for
you. If you or Pippin had had too much you might never have woken up
"Oh." Merry didn't quite know what to say to that.
"So I shouldn’t ask for it then."
"No, certainly not!" Aragorn folded his arms and
frowned at Pippin but the impudent hobbit knelt up on the bench next to the
ranger and, having taken his sling off once more, carefully unlaced Aragorn's
arms and then put his fingers either side of the ranger's mouth and attempted
to pull it up into a smile.
Aragorn was finally won over and in spite of the seriousness
of the situation could not help a small grin. He was also amazed at how
astutely Pippin was adjusting to his silent world. He caught Pippin's wrists
gently and replaced the sling, shaking his finger at the hobbit in warning
against removing it. Pippin cheekily caught hold of the finger and made as if
to bite it, then grinned back up at the ranger.
Aragorn chuckled slightly at Pippin's high spirits, but his
thoughts turned back quickly to Merry's question. "I think, Merry we have
to try to stop Pip having any more of my special paste."
Merry turned to where he thought Yomyn was and added to his
list, "…and not poppies, either."
The next day both the hobbits were feeling much more lively
although Merry was still very stiff, sore and weak. Also he had very little
appetite. Éowyn had brought them both food and set it at the table, but Merry
did not want to leave the bed and even when she brought some bread and milk to
him he would barely touch it.
"Merry is not eating," Éowyn told Aragorn when he
came to see them, "he still seems anxious and upset."
"Yes," Aragorn agreed, "Yomyn tells me he
didn't actually eat very much yesterday. He tried a bite of everything offered
but didn't finish anything." Aragorn drew out a cloth package from his
doublet. "He sent these as Merry seemed to like them best." The
package revealed two gingerbreadhobbits and the two healers smiled at each
other and took them over to Merry.
"Come on Merry," Aragorn reached down and sat the
hobbit up as he had snuggled down under the coverlet, "I've got some more
gingerbread for you from Yomyn, will you come to the table with Pippin to eat
"No, I want to stay here!" Merry said pulling away
from Aragorn and lying down again. "I'll wait for Pippin to come
"Merry, your fever is down now and it would be better
for you to move about a little." Aragorn put his hand on his shoulder to
try and coax him up. "At least eat the gingerbread."
"No thank you." Merry pulled the coverlet over his
head. "I'd like to sleep please Aragorn, I'm really tired."
"No you're not." Aragorn pulled the cover back off
again. "You've only just woken up. Merry what's wrong?" The ranger
sat down on the bed and spoke quietly. "Are you worrying over having to
talk about what happened?"
The night before, when Aragorn had finally brought the
hobbits back to the bedchamber and decided they were well enough to be allowed
to sleep, he had gently explained to Merry that the next day Éomer would be
coming to talk to him about what had happened on the road and how Spandif had
put him in the cage. Aragorn had told the hobbit that in order for the man to
be brought to trial successfully he had to give his version of events to Éomer
so that hopefully he would not have to give evidence in the courtroom himself.
Merry had gone very quiet although he had agreed to tell his
story when Aragorn had argued that they could not just let Spandif go, in case
he did the same thing again to someone else.
"Yes," Merry finally admitted. "But I don't
like thinking about it even and to talk about it… Aragorn. Do I have to? It was
"You are so brave Merry," Éowyn whispered to him.
"Éomer is my brother. He will not harass you or make you say anything you
do not want to, I promise it will be all right. Now come and eat the
gingerbread before Pippin has it all."
Merry looked rather downcast at having to admit he was
anxious at the prospect of having to give his version of events, but tried to
push his feelings to the back of his mind and resignedly lifted his arms up so
that Aragorn could lift him off the bed to go and join Pippin at the table.
He was half way through the gingerbread, eating very slowly
with sips of milk, when Éomer arrived, accompanied by Legolas. Éomer joined the
hobbits at the table and began talking to Merry about the wonderful gingerbread
Yomyn made. He playfully broke a small piece off Pippin's and ate it with a
grin. Pippin good-naturedly offered him another bite but Éomer smiled and
pushed it back to Pippin's mouth and patted his stomach to show he was full.
During this diversion Aragorn drew the elf to one side.
"Legolas, there's something very important you have to do." Aragorn
"What is it?" Legolas narrowed his eyes,
"What's Pippin done now?"
"He's been in the opium again." Aragorn sighed at
the admission. "And this time he fed a large amount to Merry. Yes it was
probably my fault, but I can't watch him every moment. Could you explain to him
just how dangerous it is and that he must stop taking it?"
"I'll try," Legolas agreed, "although I get
the sensation from his mind that he's becoming so fond of the feeling the opium
induces that he may already be addicted." Legolas held his hand up to
silence further exhortations from the ranger, "but I will do what I
The elf went over to the table and smiled at Pippin and
wished Merry 'Good Morning'. He sat next to Pippin and waited until he had
finished his gingerbread before putting his hands on the hobbit's face and
calling to him.
'What have you done? Aragorn tells me you stole poppy
paste and that you gave it to Merry.'
'Pippin! You must not just eat poppy paste – it's very
'it nice legolas… make pain go stop… make my mer go
'Make your Mer go dead!'
'not say that legolas! that bad thing say at i…'
'But it's true Pippin. I'm not just trying to scare you.
Why do you think Aragorn took it out of your mouth before?'
'not want i go have it much… i go take… then he not go
have lot and lot…'
'No Pippin! It's because it's bad for you and too much
can kill you!
'not! legolas why you say that bad thing? why strider
give i medi-iseren… medit-ten…not say word…'
'…is – give i medi-iseren go kill i?'
'A little can help you, Pippin. Aragorn wouldn't hurt
you, he gave you a little to stop the pain and help you sleep. Too much can
kill you, that's why you have to stop taking it and never try and give it to
'oh legolas! what i go do at my mer? …oh i not… not…
please say i not go do so bad… sorry… sorry…'
Legolas lifted Pippin's slumped head up with his hands still
clasped around his cheeks. Tears were running down his face now and he looked a
picture of abject misery. Legolas was grateful that Merry could not see him. He
drew him in and hugged the grief-filled little hobbit to his chest.
'Don't cry Pippin, you are both all right. Just promise
me you'll never take it again unless Aragorn or a healer gives it to you.'
'… hic… promsis… will do not… promsis …'
Legolas rocked Pippin to and fro a little while, until he
could feel the silent sobs that were wracking his little body subside. When
Pippin lifted his head up and looked tentatively over at Merry, seated on the
other side of the table, he could see that he was talking to one of the King's
soldiers and that he too was trying to hide some tears. Merry brushed his face
surreptitiously with his long sleeve and seemed to sniff a little.
Pippin was mortified. Was Merry being told about how he,
Pippin his own dear cousin, had nearly killed him? Surely Merry knew he did not
mean to hurt him. The younger hobbit brushed past Legolas and frantically
scrambled onto and over the table, sending cups and plates flying, to throw his
arms around his startled cousin's neck and hug him.
Éomer was more than a little surprised at this sudden
display of affection and Aragorn gently tried to disengage Pippin as, not only
had he dislodged his own arm from the sling again, but he was in danger of
aggravating Merry's hurts at the same time.
Legolas came to the rescue, although he was a little worried
at the increasingly long periods of time he was spending in Pippin's mind, he
could see no other solution to explaining things to the confused hobbit.
'Pippin, Merry's all right, don't squeeze him so, you'll
'not go hurt mer… go hug at he… he go make cry face…'
'He's just a little upset,
Pippin don't fret.'
'why he? what say he? sad i go
giveded bad medi-iseren at he?
'No, he's telling Éomer how he
was put in the cage.'
'ohhhh my mer….'
Pippin scrambled out of reach of Legolas and Aragorn once
more and ducked under the table to pop up and sit next to Merry. Éomer smiled
at the little hobbit as he took his older cousin's hand and kissed it gently to
let him know he was there.
Merry had paused for a moment in the telling of his story
and was trying to gulp back his tears as the telling felt almost like reliving
the dreadful pain of being tortured with the frightening prod and crammed into
the tiny cage like a rat or some sort of vermin. Pippin's sudden demonstrative
behaviour made him think his own distress was upsetting his cousin. He held
Pippin's hand tightly and bit his lower lip a little before taking a deep
breath and carrying on with the nightmare tale.
Playlist Navigation Bar