2. Knit Across Row
Pippin gave a start. 'O I'm sorry, Sam, I completely forgot I was supposed to be watching Frodo.'
'I don't think he'll up and disappear in the midst of a pony race,' Sam said easily.
'Merry seems to think so,' Pippin replied.
'Mr Merry worries just a little too much, to my thinking,' Sam said quietly. 'Mr Frodo is restless, sure, but not enough to leave.' He regarded Pippin soberly. 'Not yet.'
'I hope you're right or Merry will have my hide,' Pippin joked.
'Well he can have mine right alongside yours, then,' Sam said.
'Sam,' Pippin said suddenly, 'D'you have a piece of rope I could borrow?'
Samwise nodded. 'Of course,' he said. 'I always try to keep a bit of rope handy. Never know when you might need it.' They were well away from the crowd now, and the pony had stopped trembling. 'You wait here,' Sam said. 'I'll be back in a minute.' He jogged away, and Pippin stopped, stroking the soft neck, speaking soothingly to the smoke coloured pony.
Sam was back in a little more than a minute, a coil of rope over his shoulder. 'How much of it do you need?' he asked.
'O I'd hate to cut it,' Pippin said. 'If you let me borrow the whole, you can have it again when we get back to Bag End.'
'Plenty more where that came from,' Sam said easily. 'You can have it.'
'Did you twist it yourself, Sam?' Pippin asked. Perhaps the rope might have some quality about it that would transfer some of the calm of its maker to the pony that would soon be wearing it.
Pippin formed a loop, held it up for the pony to see, rubbed hand and rope gently on the lathered neck. 'See,' he crooned, 'just a rope. Nothing to hurt my fine lad.' He continued to croon and caress until the pony's renewed trembling had eased. 'There's the lad,' he praised. He eased the loop over the pony's head, then held the end out to Sam. 'Hold him, will you?'
Sam took the rope, waiting to see what Mr Pippin would do next. What he did was reach up slowly, releasing the throat latch, easing the bridle with its wicked looking bit down and off.
Pippin wished he could have flung the tortuous gear violently away, but that would have frightened the pony again, so he contented himself with dropping it on the ground. Nudging at the sharp-edged bit with a toe, he said, 'Sam, you can use that thing to dig in your garden, or you can throw it on the ash heap for me; I won't be needing it.' He took the rope back from Sam. 'Thanks. I'll see you back at Bag End.'
Sam was dumbfounded. 'Are you going to walk there now?' He had driven Mr Frodo over to the Fair in a wagon, all of fifty miles.
'O aye,' Pippin smiled. 'It's a beautiful day for a walk. We'll see you when Fair's over.' Turning away, he led the pony to the road that led towards Hobbiton.
They ambled along in the sunshine, stopping occasionally when they came across some especially luscious grass so that the pony could graze. When Pippin started feeling hunger he took an apple from his pocket, ate about half as they walked along, gave the remainder to the pony.
When the road crossed a brook, he led the pony down the bank and into the stream. The two cooled their feet whilst the pony drank of the clear water. 'There's a lad,' Pippin said. 'Had your fill, yet?' They climbed the grassy bank on the other side and resumed their stroll.
As the Sun was westering behind them, he saw smoke rising from a chimney and turned off the road to approach a farmstead. The farmer's wife came out, wiping her hands on her apron, and Pippin greeted her politely. 'Would you have bed and board for two weary travellers?' he asked with a smile.
She returned his smile, saying, 'We're just about to sit down to supper. Put your pony in the barn, there's an empty stall, and help yourself to oats and hay.'
'No, thank you kindly, I'll let him have the oats and hay and share your supper, if I may,' Pippin said with a charming smile.
The farmer's wife laughed, saying, 'Welcome to it! You can wash up at the side with my lads.' Pippin thanked her and went to put the pony away.
There was a fine supper, and then they loaned him a blanket to lay upon the hay in the barn for a sleeping place. He borrowed comb, brush and cloth from the farmer and spent a long time rubbing the pony's coat, crooning songs and soothing words. He noted that the pony had not touched oats nor hay, and went to ask the farmer, 'D'you mind if I make up a hot mash for the lad? He has a sore mouth, I'm sorry to say.' The farmer provided all that was needed, Pippin made up the pony's meal and stroked the soft neck while it was eaten. When he bid the beast good night, it turned a wondering dark eye upon him and he chuckled low in his throat. 'This is the way life is supposed to be, lad. You forget all about that other. It was just a bad dream.'
He sought his bed on the hay and lay for a long time listening to the pony's steady breathing, wondering what his father would say. He'd paid enough for a well trained pony, and here he was with a frightened, half broke beast, useless for riding or any work, really, unless he first invested much patience and time retraining. Ah, well. His bed was made and he might as well lie in it.
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.