30. Chapter 29 - August 1424
“That was fun, Uncle Pippin!” Ivy said.
Pippin laughed and opened the towel he carried, revealing their loot of fresh-baked apple tarts.
“And they taste better when they’re stolen,” he said. He handed her a tart.
Ivy traded smiles with him. She liked playing with Uncle Pippin. He was fun and always came up with fun things to do. He was even more fun than Elanor, though she’d never tell Elanor that. She had just spent a week at Elanor’s. Uncle Pippin had offered to bring her home, but then he decided to keep her an extra day or two because he hadn’t seen her in a while. Ivy missed him. Her Dad had told her the Thain had been keeping Uncle Pippin busy, so he hadn’t been able to visit them much.
They finished off the pastries and Uncle Pippin gave her a handkerchief to wipe her sticky fingers. “What shall we do now,” he asked. He grinned. “We could go catch frogs to put in Reg’s bed.”
Ivy giggled. Uncle Pippin and his cousin played jokes on each other a lot. “That would be fun,” she said. Then a shadow fell across them. Ivy looked up and shrank back a little. It was the Thain. She scooted closer to Uncle Pippin. She was scared of the Thain.
“What are you doing?” he asked, glaring at Pippin.
“Teaching Ivy the fine art of stealing pastries,” Pippin said cheerily.
The Thain frowned. “Don’t you have better things to do than corrupt that child?”
Ivy looked up at Uncle Pippin. Uncle Pippin cocked his head a little, thinking for a moment, then shook his head. “No. Nothing that I can think of.”
The Thain crossed his arms. He looked mad. “The Burrows are going to be here soon. I want you to spend some time getting to know their daughter.”
Pippin rolled his eyes and sighed. “Myrtle Burrows is dull! She’s only interested in what her dress and her hair looks like or gossiping with the other dull girls.”
“You are going to have to start thinking about marriage, Peregrin,” his father said.
“I am thinking about marriage. But unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any girls around that I’d want to marry. I can’t even hold a decent conversation with any of them. Do you know, I have yet to find a girl who even remembers the King’s name?”
“Elessar,” Ivy said helpfully.
“See? Even Ivy knows and she’s only four!”
The Thain shook his head. “Why does your wife need to know who the king is?”
“Because she should be interested in my life? In the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done? Estella knows who the king is! Rosie knows!” Pippin sighed. “Forget it,” he snapped. He stood up and took Ivy’s hand, pulling her to her feet. “I have to take Ivy back to Buckland, so you’ll just have to make excuses for me.”
His father’s face reddened, his brow furrowed in anger. “Someone else can take her back!”
Uncle Pippin glanced down at her, then looked back at his father. “No, I think I’d rather spend my day with Ivy.” He glared at his father. “She’s the only girl I know I can have a decent conversation with.” Uncle Pippin pulled her away toward the Smials.
Ivy risked a glance back at the Thain. He looked very unhappy. Her dad had never looked that angry with her, not even when she’d accidently knocked over Gran’s vase and broke it. Uncle Pippin was in lots of trouble.
She thought about what they had argued about. “Are you going to get married, Uncle Pippin?” she asked when they were in her room collecting her things into her pack.
“Not right now, Ivy,” he said. “Someday. I have to find someone I love first.”
“Oh.” Ivy pouted. If Uncle Pippin got married, he wouldn’t be able to play with her anymore. He’d have to be grown up. That’s what her dad told her. That Uncle Pippin had to start being a grown up and he wouldn’t always be able to play with her. She sighed. Then she’d only have Elanor to play with, but she didn’t get to see Elanor very much. She had her cousins at Brandy Hall, but... they didn’t seem to like her much.
“Your dad didn’t get married until he was forty!” Pippin muttered. “I don’t see why I have to--” He sighed. “Never mind,” he said and patted Ivy on the head. “Ready to go?” he asked. She nodded and stood up, dragging her pack off the bed.
They walked down to the stables. Ivy gave a wary glance towards the garden, but the Thain wasn’t there. She relaxed.
“How about we stop at the pub on the way? We can have a drink--well, you’ll get apple cider--and we can practice our drinking songs.” He chuckled. “But we probably shouldn’t tell your dad.”
She looked up at him. He winked at her and she giggled. She liked going on adventures with Uncle Pippin.
He let her hold the reins while he saddled his pony, then he lifted her up into the saddle. He got on behind her and she settled into the crook of his arm. They trotted out the gate and down the road. A cart was coming up the road towards them. Uncle Pippin waved to the Burrows as they passed. The family gaped at them as they rode by. Myrtle Burrows didn’t look very happy, either.
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