5. Good Penmanship
“My liege, Mithrandir,” he said, bowing. “I am sorry to disturb you, but I wondered if you knew anything of the whereabouts of the Pheriannath. Are they still in the City?”
“As a matter of fact, they just returned,” said Aragorn. “They’ve been out riding. I wanted them to start getting used to the ponies they’ll be riding back home.”
“Home?” Faramir looked so dismayed that Aragorn smiled and clapped him on the shoulder.
“I know we will miss them, Faramir, but they have to go home sometime!” He chuckled. “Don’t worry, my friend. They’re not leaving *today*.”
“That’s fine, of course,” Faramir tried to be nonchalant. “I mean, of course they have to go home sometime.”
“I believe they were on their way to the library near our house, Faramir,” said Gandalf. “When I saw them, Pippin was looking pleased and pushing Frodo in front of them, and Frodo had an air of someone going to an execution. I’m sure they would enjoy your company.”
“Thank you. If I find the time I may look in on them and bid them good day.” Faramir bowed and left.
Aragorn and Gandalf looked at each other, and when Faramir was well away they burst out laughing.
“When things are more settled I may have to invent a mission for Faramir,” said Aragorn. “Something quite urgent that will take him through the Shire……”
Gandalf nodded. “He has grown quite fond of all of them.”
The King grinned. “Who has not?”
A number of small duties did keep Faramir occupied for another hour, after which he found an excuse to visit the room in the upper level that the hobbits called their “library”. It was well-stocked with books and scrolls, and in addition to the regular furniture the King had had hobbit-sized chairs and tables built and installed there. As he neared the entrance, Faramir could hear Frodo moaning.
“Pippin, there cannot be anymore. There simply cannot.”
Faramir looked inside to see Frodo sitting at one of the tables, a parchment in front of him and a quill in his right hand. Pippin was sitting on one side of him, and Sam and Merry were on the other. Everyone except for Frodo looked as if they were enjoying themselves.
Frodo looked up. “Faramir, thank goodness. Get me out of here. Assign Pippin kitchen duty. Do something!”
Faramir came into the room and saw that the parchment was nearly full of writing. “From what do you need rescue, Frodo?”
Frodo sighed. “My esteemed cousin, the one with way too much time on his hands, I might add, has decided that my handwriting is still dreadful.” He looked down at the parchment. “Which it is, but it’s difficult to learn to write with four fingers when one is used to five. However, that’s beside the point.”
“What *is* the point?”
“He said it would be good writing practice if we listed all the things we’ve done that no hobbits have done before, and I if wrote them down. Well and good, I thought, since it may assist my uncle when he writes his book about all this. Except that this list is apparently infinite, and my hand already ached from holding the reins for so long, and these slave-driving hobbits won’t let me stop.”
Faramir bent over Frodo to read what was on the parchment. “Your handwriting isn’t *that* dreadful. Hmmm…… swallowed by a tree…… escaped barrow wights…… climbed Caradhras…… visited Moria……”
“Visited,” grumbled Sam. “That’s hardly the word for it.”
Faramir’s eyes skipped down the page. “…… met the Lady of the Golden Wood…… met Ents…… rode on an eagle’s back……”
“Which I don’t even remember, by the way,” Frodo sighed again.
Faramir realized that Frodo was right; the entries went on and on. Gandalf entered the room and sat down, smiling at them all. He motioned for them to continue.
“Eaten at a king’s table,” announced Merry. “Add that, I’m sure no hobbit has ever done that.”
“Bilbo might have,” said Frodo thoughtfully. “In Mirkwood, but I can’t recall.” He straightened up. “And Bilbo might have to finish this list. I cannot write another word.”
“Bilbo’s writing is even worse than yours is now, Frodo,” said Merry. “But after all, he is 128. Or thereabouts. If you practice more, you’ll be able to write just as you did before.”
“Your uncle is 128?” Faramir was startled. For the first time since he had known these four, he wondered how old they were. “How long do your folk live?”
“That’s pretty old,” said Pippin. “Not many hobbits live that long. Bagginses are kind of exceptional, though. Frodo might be doddering about the Shire for a long, long time yet.”
“No I won’t,” groaned Frodo.
“Because you’re going to be the death of me, Peregrin Took.”
Faramir grinned and pointed at the parchment. “You need to add visiting Gondor, living in a house with a wizard, meeting northern *and* southern Rangers----”
“Oliphaunts!” exclaimed Sam triumphantly. “I knew there was an important one we forgot.”
Frodo, meanwhile, was busy scrawling something at the bottom of the page, in Elvish. Gandalf leaned over and read it, his eyebrows quirking up.
“You can’t call Pippin that, Frodo,” he said in amusement. “He is your cousin, after all.”
“What did he write?” Pippin grabbed the parchment and tried to make out the words. “What does it say, Gandalf?”
“Just a small endearment between cousins,” said Frodo, looking pleased with himself. “Love and respects and all that.”
“Hmmph.” Pippin got to his feet. “I’m going to ask Strider what this says.”
Frodo watched him leave. “He took the parchment with him. I can’t write anymore, what a shame.”
Gandalf smiled and leaned back. “You might want to make yourself scarce for awhile, Frodo. There’s always a chance the King may translate that literally for him.”
“He wouldn’t do that.” Frodo looked up suddenly. “Would he?”
“I understand you have ponies,” suggested Faramir helpfully. “Perhaps you could introduce me to them?”
Frodo leaped up and grabbed Faramir’s hand. “Yes, what a splendid idea, Faramir. Come on, you should hurry and meet them before----”
“Before Pippin gets back,” suggested Gandalf.
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