"…And so just as we got to the top of the hill a bevy of swans flew right overhead—"
"Hold, Pippin. Did you just say a bevy of swans?" Boromir interrupted the young Hobbit's tale.
"Aye. A bevy of swans." Pippin unfolded his arms from behind his head and sat up from where he lay supine on the bit of lawn the garden afforded.
"Didn't you mean a wedge of swans?" Boromir set his whetstone and dagger aside on the bench he occupied and frowned with confusion.
"No, a group of swans is a bevy. Everyone knows that!"
"Not where I come from. Well, I suppose even though we both speak Westron, the language has shifted in different ways for your land and mine." The Man took up his dagger and whetstone again and continued to sharpen the blade. "Pray forgive my interruption and tell the rest of your story, Pippin."
"Actually, it's a rather boring story when you get down to it. I wonder what other words for batches of things are different between the Shire and Gondor." Pippin cocked his head for moment. "I know! I'll tell you the name we Hobbits use and you can tell me if it's the same in Gondor then ask me one. All right! How about a clowder of cats?"
"A pounce of cats or a kindle of kittens," Boromir answered, then after a moment's thought asked. "What of a cry of hounds?"
"I've only heard of hounds, or any kind of dogs being in packs. That's three different things so far. A flock of sheep?"
"Sheep come in flocks in Gondor as well. A pulchritude of peacocks." Boromir smiled as he mentioned the birds that had been Faramir's bane when they visited their uncle in Dol Amroth in their youth. His little brother had been fascinated with the gorgeous birds, who unfortunately, did not find the feeling mutual in the least.
"A what of peacocks? I just call them nasty birds and be done with it. Every single one I've ever met bit!"
"My brother would agree with you. Your turn."
Pippin flopped back down onto the grass and thought a moment. "Ah ha! Here's one; a charm of finches!"
"Hmph! I'd say more of an annoyance. A few years ago it was all the fashion among the nobles to have pet finches and the incessant chirping was enough to drive one mad. Sticking with birds—a parliament of owls."
"A stare of owls." Pippin started at Boromir's sudden chuckle. "What? It's what they do!"
"Aye, which is why I laughed. Your term is much more appropriate than mine." Boromir drummed his fingers on his knee as he considered his next offering. "A flink of cows."
Peregrin burst into full-blown laughter and between guffaws asked, "Are you pulling my leg? That's the most ridiculous thing! Herd of cows!"
The Hobbit's laughter was infectious and Boromir couldn't resist. "Of course, I've heard of cows, Master Peregrin. Come, have you another?"
The next half hour was filled with intermittent hilarity as they exchanged words.
"A drove of asses."
"A plague of wasps."
"A cete of badgers."
"A clash of stags."
"A rabble of butterflies."
"An army of caterpillars."
"An intrusion of cockroaches"
"A bask of lizards."
"A pitying of turtledoves."
"A seething of eels."
"A grist of bees."
"A business of ferrets."
"A sounder of boar."
"A gaggle of geese."
"A cloud of tadpoles."
"An enchantment of nightingales."
"A siege of cranes."
"An unkindness of ravens."
"A scurry of squirrels."
"A leash of greyhounds."
"A skulk of foxes."
They had run out of animal names and Pippin suggested that they might come up with names for groups of people. "You know, something like a delving of dwarves."
"Hmmm. I wonder what Master Gimli would have to say to that? What about elves?" Boromir considered the matter for a few moments then thinking of Master Elrond's seneschal, suggested, "An ostentation of elves?"
"And what game is this, friends?" Aragorn's amused voice interrupted the Man and Hobbit and the two turned to see the ranger was accompanied by Legolas, Gimli and the other three hobbits.
"How long have you been here?" Pippin asked as he jumped to his feet. "Boromir and I were just comparing what we call groups of different things. Did you know that they call a clowder of cats a pounce in Gondor and—"
"Yes, Pippin. And they're called a clutter in Rohan. But didn't I hear something about dwarves? and elves?" Aragorn looked from the Hobbit to a somewhat embarrassed Boromir, his eyebrow raised in inquiry as he sat down on the bench.
"Aye," Gimli gave them a mock glare and leaned on his axe. "What was it you called my people again?"
"A delving of dwarves. I thought it was perfect because all the stories Bilbo used to tell said that dwarves liked to dig and mine for treasures and jewels and gold…" Pippin's explanation was cut off by Gimli's deep chuckle.
"And what have ye come up with for elves, then?" the dwarf asked, glancing mischieviously at Legolas.
Pippin grinned. "Oh, Boromir thought up that one."
Boromir flushed and shook his head but was eventually talked into revealing his suggestion. "Well, that seneschal made me think of it," he muttered to answering laughter.
Some short while later, after much hilarity, Aragorn suggested they make their way back to the House as it was getting late in the day.
As they headed for the pathway leading out of the gardens Pippin walked alongside Boromir, watching his cousins and the others argue over whether there should be different terms for the different kindreds of elves and men or if all should be included under one name. "Well, that was fun. But I think it would be a good idea not to tell Gandalf that he's part of an implausibility of wizards. I don't think he'd take it very well."
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.