16. Sparkling Conversation
After breakfast, the family scattered to their chores with only the briefest of necessary conversation. Frodo retired to the parlour once again, a good place to be out of sight, where no one would be tempted to forget and talk to him. While he was there, he did Ruby's dusting for her, then sat down and tried not to think.
Mardibold had prescribed a sleeping draught for the Mayor, and Samwise slept late, almost until second breakfast, which Rose brought him on a tray. He awakened groggily, and was not completely himself until his second cup of tea.
'How's Frodo?' he asked at last.
'He ate breakfast, that's something,' Rose said. Sam nodded. He'd been worried about the lad missing so many meals the previous day, but then, Rose hadn't eaten either, nor had he, himself.
'Are you all right, Rosie?' he asked.
'No, of course I'm not all right,' she said with asperity. 'Our eldest son is under the Ban for something he didn't do. How could I possibly be all right?'
'You know what I mean,' Sam said patiently.
She sighed. 'I ate breakfast,' she said. 'I couldn't not eat breakfast, when Daisy and Primrose made all my favourites and put flowers at my place and watched to see that I ate every bite.'
'Good,' Sam said. He started to swing his legs over the side of the bed, only to be stopped by his wife.
'You're not going anywhere,' Rose said severely.
'I'm getting up,' Sam countered.
'That healer fellow said you were to stay in the bed until he arrives with the Thain,' Rose said, 'and I mean to hold you to it.'
'Rose,' Sam said in exasperation. 'There's nothing wrong with me. I was a little overwrought yesterday, is all, and perfectly understandable it was.'
'Don't be a ninny,' Rose said. 'I'll call all the children in to sit on you if I have to.'
'Sit on me?' Sam said.
'That's what they have to do with Tooks, to keep them abed,' Rose said. 'Don't think I haven't noticed, in all our visits to the Smials.'
'I'm not a Took,' Sam said.
'Then don't act like one,' Rose snapped. Sam tightened his lips in irritation, and she softened her tone. 'You frightened me yesterday,' she said quietly. 'Please rest this morning, Sam. For me?'
'For you, Rosie,' he agreed. Taking up his cup, he drank the last of the tea and handed it to her. 'I think I'll take myself a little nap before elevenses,' he said. 'For some reason I'm still a bit tired.'
'You do that, Sam,' Rose said, picking up the breakfast tray. 'I'll be back in a trice.'
When Ferdibrand entered the study, Pippin was already there. 'Hullo, Ferdi,' he announced himself, to let the other know he was at his desk.
The chancellor turned his face towards the Thain. 'You're here early,' he said. 'Did you sleep at all?'
'I slept,' Pippin said, then got down to business. 'I've an idea, cousin.'
'O yes?' Ferdi said.
'Could I borrow that necklace you gave your wife on your wedding?' Pippin said. 'It looks like something the elves made.'
'It ought to, since they made it,' Ferdi said. 'What do you want it for?'
'O, just a little idea I had,' Pippin said. 'Naught may come of it, but then again, you never know.'
Ferdi sighed. Pip was in one of his difficult moods, where nothing he said made much sense at all, yet every word was fraught with meaning. He gave the only answer he could. 'Of course you may borrow the necklace. Will I get it back?'
'There might be some doubt, I suppose, since we'll be using it to catch a thief,' Pippin said thoughtfully. At Ferdi's frown, he laughed. 'Don't worry, cousin,' he said. 'I asked to borrow it... that means I intend to give it back when I'm finished.'
'And when will that be?' Ferdi asked.
'You'll see,' Pippin replied absently, evidently deep in thought.
Ferdi rather doubted that, blind as he was, but he made no further comment. He rose from his desk, found his way to the door, jerked it open and said, 'Who's there?' Hilly had been outside the door when he'd arrived, but the escort were constantly switching off for one reason or another.
Tolly straightened up from his post by the door and identified himself.
'Ah, Tolly,' Ferdi said, 'Good. I want you to go to Nell and ask her for the elven necklace. Bring it here to the study.'
'All right, Ferdi,' Tolly said, 'I'll be right back.'
Ferdi made his way back to his desk, felt his way around it, and sat down again. 'Any other little errands you want run, cousin?' he said.
'Well, you could fetch me a pot of tea,' Pippin said, 'but on the other hand, it would be cold by the time you found your way back here from the kitchens, so just sit, if you don't mind, and repeat to me every shred of evidence we heard yesterday.'
He listened carefully, nodding, asking questions, and finally sat back. 'I think I've got it,' he said.
'Got what?' Ferdi asked.
'That remains to be seen,' Pippin said, lapsing again into silence. Ferdi sighed. It was going to be one of those days.
Reginard entered to report that the ponies were saddled, just as Tolly returned with the necklace, an exquisite elf-jewel set in intricately worked dwarf silver.
'Perfect,' Pippin pronounced, taking the precious thing, wrapping it in his handkerchief and shoving it deep into a pocket. 'Let us be off.'
'Mardi is already waiting in the yard,' Reginard said. 'He wanted to take another look at the Mayor this morning.'
'Perhaps he can keep Samwise quiet long enough for us to get this resolved,' Pippin said. 'I do not want to hear him resign his office.'
'You can say that again,' Ferdi said, then, remembering Pippin's whimsical mood, held up a hasty hand, 'but don't, cousin, if you please.'
'I could use a good joke,' Regi said pointedly.
'We are going to get the truth out,' Pippin said. 'Even if I have to employ trickery to do so.' He jumped up from his chair, rubbing his hands together. 'Well, time's a wasting. Let us be off.'
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.