1. Chapter 1 "Tulip" by Cathleen
2. Chapter 2 "A Wee Adventure" by Cathleen
3. Chapter 3 "A Faerie Song" by Cathleen
4. Chapter 4 "Rhoswen" by Cathleen
5. Chapter 5 "Alfie" by Cathleen
6. Chapter 6 "Along a Path of Light" by Cathleen
7. Chapter 7 "Walking Between Worlds" by Cathleen
8. Chapter 8 "A Seeker's Journey" by Cathleen
9. Chapter 9 "Silver Window, Flowing Fate" by Cathleen
10. Chapter 10 "Song of the Morning Birds" by Cathleen
11. Chapter 11 Epilogue "Come Yesterday" by Cathleen
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
Tulips pink and tulips red, sweeter than a flowerbed!
…”By the faeries’ magic power do my tulips always flower,
By the faeries’ magic spell do they give so sweet a smell!”
Tulips, tulips, pink and white, fill the faeries with delight!
“Faerie women, faerie men, seek my tulips from the glen;
Midnight come, they may be heard singing sweet as any bird,
Singing their wee babes to rest in the tulips they love best!”
From Enchanted Tulips
“Peregrin Took, you are in my way, lad!” Pearl bristled as she tripped over her young brother for the third time that morning.
“Sorry,” Pippin said once more, easily skipping out of his older sister’s way. He paused near the door to her bedroom and watched curiously as she made the bed and straightened her room. He absent-mindedly clutched his newest best friend in the crook of his arm. The knitted piglet was a quirky little thing, given him by his mother during his recent illness.
While trying to keep the recovering lad in bed, Eglantine had taken advantage of her son’s newest interest and joined him with her own knitting. She had silently thanked her sister-in-law more than once for enticing Pippin into taking up a quiet pastime. She and her husband had actually been able to enjoy a tranquil day of late as long as the craft still held interest for him.
While Pippin recovered, he worked at improving his casting on and purling skills, and Eglantine had found herself fashioning the toy without thinking. She had laughed aloud upon noticing the form her work was taking and Pippin had looked up inquisitively, his face lighting up at the sight of the wee pink piggy taking shape in his mother’s skillful hands. Eglantine had stuffed it with soft lamb’s wool and stitched on a crooked little smile before adding a bright pink button for a nose. A set of elegantly embroidered green eyes and a pair of pointy ears completed her colourful creation. Pippin had giggled with delight when she finished the knitted corkscrew tail with a flourish and presented him with it. Piggy was now his constant companion and his mother had chuckled when she noticed her son had taken to chatting with it.
“Pippin, why don’t you take your piglet outside for some fresh air?” Pearl suggested as she squeezed past him yet another time. “He’s been inside-”
“She,” Pippin corrected her quickly, “Tulip is a lass piglet!”
”All right, she’s been cooped up in here ever since our first breakfast and so have you.”
Pippin tilted his head to one side as he tried to decide whether Pearl just wanted to get him out from underfoot. Finally he shrugged. It wasn’t very exciting to keep watching his sister scurry around anyway. Pearl sighed with relief as she watched her brother trot out of the room, piggy tucked securely under his arm. She smiled and shook her head when she heard him talking to the toy again, then turned back to her tasks.
Pippin made his way through the house to the kitchen quickly and reached up for the doorknob. Just as he turned it, the door swung inward and his middle sister collided with him dropping her basket of eggs on the floor. She squealed in surprise and leaped backwards, the basket of vegetables in her other hand tipping and then smashing down onto the ruined eggs. Pimpernel gaped down at the top of Pippin’s curly head as he squatted and tried to scoop up the potatoes that rolled in every direction. His feet slid out from under him and he landed on his back in the puddle of broken egg, his knitted pig flying up into the air and landing behind him.
Pimpernel sighed, a long suffering sound, and placed both hands on her hips. “Pippin, why were you standing behind the door?” Nell shook her head and knelt beside him. Together they replaced the carrots and potatoes in the basket.
“I was trying to get out of the door. I didn’t hear you coming.” Pippin clambered up and scrubbed his hands on the legs of his trousers trying to remove the sticky eggs. It continued to drip and pool around his feet, but he seemed oblivious to it. Spying his piggy underneath a chair he snatched it up and grinned at his sister. “At least I didn’t get any of this mess on Tulip,” he said, wiggling the toy at her.
Pimpernel rolled her eyes. “I am delighted that you saved your pig from certain ruin. Now you best be getting yourself to the bathroom so we can get you washed.” Nell placed the baskets on the table and retrieved a mop from the cupboard, quickly setting about cleaning up the mess. Pippin did not move. She stopped and turned to him. “Well, what is it? I thought I told you to get your self to the bathtub?”
Pippin wrinkled his nose. “I don’t need a bath!”
“Yes you do! Look at you, you’re covered in dirt from the potatoes and smeared with eggs. Why, it’s even in your hair! What will Mum say?” Pimpernel placed both hands on her brother’s shoulders and turned him in the direction of the bathroom. “Now march! Get those filthy clothes off and I’ll be right along to help you.”
Pippin obeyed this time but grumbled all the way. He held his piggy up to his mouth and whispered in its ear, then placed the toy’s mouth to his own ear. Nodding vigorously he tossed a disgruntled look over his shoulder as he went.
The freshly scrubbed hobbit lad finally managed to escape his sister’s clutches. He hurried towards his newfound freedom without delay, easily ignoring her admonishment to stay clean and keep his nose out of trouble’s way. Pippin grasped his piglet and ran out past the barn, eager to get as far away from the farmhouse and his exasperating sisters as possible. “At least I won’t be accused of being in the way again,” he sniffed with no small amount of offense. “Right Tulip?” He made the toy’s head waggle up and down and smiled at her easy agreement with his plans.
Pippin climbed up onto a high branch in the crabapple tree and surveyed the farmyard. He spied his father working nearby with several of the farmhands. They appeared to be doing something to one of the wheels on the large waggon used for hauling produce from the fields. Pippin wondered if there was anything of interest to be seen and was about to jump down and go to investigate when he heard a soft whisper at his side. He twisted around and saw. . .nothing. He tilted his head, listening for a moment, but heard nothing more. His attention was soon drawn to another point of interest and he set aside his wondering about the gentle voice.
Pippin’s mouth twitched as he watched Vinca pass beneath his perch and he tracked her progress closely. His sister was toying with her hair, attempting to place a ribbon in it to hold it back. He plucked a small apple from a branch above him and waited. When Pervinca was directly beneath his hiding place at last he released it and was immediately rewarded with a piercing squeal as the fruit plopped onto her unwary head. Pervinca scowled up at her giggling little brother and then retrieved the crabapple and pelted him with it soundly.
“Oww, Vinca! I didn’t hit you that hard!” Pippin protested, rubbing furiously at his stinging arm.
“It was hard enough you little scamp. Why don’t you go and find someone else to bother? Besides, you’re too small to be so high up that tree.”
“I’m not up very far and I’m not too little.”
“Yes you are. Now get down or I’m telling!”
Feeling a bit daring Pippin shook his head. He held his piggy up to his ear and listened, then covered his mouth with one hand to stifle his laughter. “I know what you mean,” he told Tulip, “but we’d best wait ‘til later. Vinca wouldn’t like it.” He grinned cheekily at his sister and waggled the knitted pig at her.
“Whatever are you talking about?” Pervinca crossed both arms in front of her and tapped her foot on the ground, the very picture of sisterly annoyance.
“I’m not talking to you, I’m having a conversation with Tulip. You shouldn’t be eavesdropping, you know. It’s very rude.”
“What?” Vinca narrowed her eyes. “I can’t eavesdrop on a stuffed pig, Peregrin. That’s ridiculous.”
“Well, you are. So why don’t you run along and let us have a private conversation? It’s really none of your business.”
Pervinca huffed at her little brother’s foolishness and spun away from him muttering all the way. Pippin stuck his tongue out at her departing back. He waited until she was out of sight before tucking his friend inside his shirt and sliding effortlessly off the branch. He wasted no time scrambling to the ground, then stole carefully after his sister. Pippin shadowed Pervinca for a time listening to her grumble about him and then grew bored while she prepared a doll’s tea party on the knoll behind the house. He decided to go and investigate what his father was doing now that he had abandoned the waggon wheel to the hired help.
Pippin tiptoed around the barn and entered through a side door. He spied his father inside talking to Tomias Hornblower, the new lad who oversaw the ponies. Pippin hung back while they finished their conversation and his father exited the barn through the back.
The youngster widened his eyes in dismay as he pretended the hired help was plotting to overthrow the Shire. He could almost hear the dastardly plans in the pony handler’s mind. Pippin became more and more distressed as he listened to the make believe plans. He had to do something! He must warn everyone! Tulip was anxious and squirmed inside his shirt. Plucking her out, he perched her on his shoulder where she could observe the plotting hobbit along with him, and perhaps offer her opinion. Instead, the piglet squealed in alarm.
“Shhh,” he urged her, pressing his hand across her embroidered mouth. “We don’t want him to hear us.” Pippin crept forward, one careful step at a time until he was almost close enough to hear the hobbit breathe. He crouched behind a stall, his own breath tense in his throat, hoping to hear some more of the terrible plans before he went to sound the alarm. Poor Tulip was getting more excited. He didn’t know how much longer she could stand the strain. He must do something, and soon! He shushed her, one hand gently patting her knitted head, but still she quivered beneath his touch.
“It’s all right,” he whispered, “I’ll protect you.” He couldn’t bear to wait much longer. Closer, closer still, the youngster crept until he was able to peer through the bottom of the stall and watch as the wicked young hobbit set about his business with the ponies. Ah, he thought. Acting as if there is nothing amiss, just going about his business, is he? But ‘tis all a ruse to deceive us into thinking he is a good and gentle hobbit. What he really means to do is attack us in our sleep then drag us all to meet the evil wizard who looks like Gandalf but really isn’t! Oh, whatever shall I do to stop him?
A smile spread across Pippin’s face as he concocted a plan. He would grab a water bucket and toss it over the evil one’s head to confuse him and then tie him up and run for help! Yes, that was a perfect plan. Pippin stole out from behind the stall intending to sneak up on the farmhand and yell loud enough to scare him. Since Tomias wasn’t using any tools at the moment Pippin figured it was all right to see his game through to its conclusion. Besides, the hired folks generally humoured him and he knew he could get away with quite a lot when they were involved. He reached out for the bucket sitting near the pony stall and prepared to pounce. Suddenly Tulip could stand it no longer and shrieked in his ear. Startled, Pippin darted out from behind the stall more quickly then he had intended causing the knitted piglet to leap from his shoulder in concern for her safety. She landed safely in a mound of straw, her soundless squeals discernible only to Pippin’s ears.
The youngster slipped in something wet and warm. His hands flailed, grabbing at the shovel propped against a stall to steady himself, and his feet shot out from under him. He landed with a splatter in the middle of the muck. The flabbergasted farmhand swung around just in time to see his boss’s son sprawling in the middle of a huge cow pat. The shovel did a slow tip and teetered before it followed Pippin into the filth, popping him on the head and bouncing once before coming to rest beside him.
“Ahh!” Tomias snatched at the shovel and missed. Pippin howled his dismay. He dropped to the ground beside the youngster. “Are you all right, lad?” His eyes were wide with fear.
Pippin’s wails brought several people rushing into the barn to see what had happened. Even Pansy the goose stuck her head around the corner of a stall to see who had dared to bother her. Never having cared for crowds the big goose took off in a cloud of feathers beating her great wings in the air, her indignation at the disturbance clear.
Paladin hurried to his son’s side and dropped to his knee beside Tomias. He placed a hand on Pippin’s brow and brushed the thick hair aside, examining the small cut to his forehead. It was bleeding slightly. Pippin’s cries had stopped and he stared up at his audience. “Are you all right son?” Pippin nodded and was about to speak when his father placed his arms around him and lifted him carefully out of the mess. Holding him away from himself Paladin headed for the pump outside the barn and put the youngster down on the bench. Drawing a handkerchief from his pocket he dipped it into the cold water someone was already pumping into a bucket and carefully applied it to the cut.
“Ow, that hurts,” Pippin yelped, batting his father’s hand away.
“Whatever happened?” Eglantine asked as she joined them, Pearl close at her side. She bent to examine her son’s injury taking hold of his waving hands while Paladin tended to him.
“He just darted out from behind one of the stalls rather suddenly, Missus Took.” Tomias’s voice was shaky. “Next thing I knew he yelled something at me and the next,” he shook his head in wonder, “he was on the ground.” Since everyone was used to Pippin’s shenanigans no one was all that surprised. “He grabbed for the shovel to steady himself I think, and it landed on his head. I’m sorry Mister Took, I couldn’t catch it in time.”
“That’s all right lad, he’ll be fine.” Paladin proceeded to clean the small cut thoroughly. He looked up at his wife and daughter and winked, laughing, “He doesn’t smell all that fine though.”
Eglantine took charge. “Pearl, go and prepare a bath for your brother will you please? Rinse him off well, dear, before I take him inside and--” A wail of protest interrupted her instructions.
“Not two baths in one day!”
Eglantine lifted an eyebrow and looked her son up and down impatiently. “Aye, and possibly three if I think the occasion calls for it, young sir.” She hoisted him to his feet by one arm, wrinkling up her nose as she pulled. “And perhaps even a drop of rosewater for behind your ears if we can’t get rid of all the smell. Oh my! Whew! How you reek!” Laughter erupted around them causing Pippin to scowl at the onlookers.
Paladin chuckled as he poured a pail of water over his son’s back. “Da! It isn’t funny!” Pippin squirmed to get away. “And that’s cold!”
“Ah well now, it’s a sight better than smelling like cow manure, isn’t it?” Paladin grinned as he lifted another bucket and poured this one down Pippin’s front.
“Come now, your sister’s got a hot bath just about ready for you - with a great deal of soap.” Eglantine took him by the arm making certain to hold him away from her as she marched him towards the farmhouse.
“Wait!” Pippin struggled to get away.
“What is it now? You’re filthy and cold so we’ll be doing no more delaying,” his mother scolded.
“Tulip! I want my piggy, Mum!”
Eglantine glanced at the others in dismay. “She didn’t join you in the muck bath did she now? Because if that’s the case…”
“No, she jumped off my shoulder before I fell.”
“Will someone kindly look for piggy and return her home then?” Eglantine gripped Pippin’s arm firmly and started off again.
The cry of “I want my pig!” could still be heard as Pippin was tugged away.
“Ah, me. Well, I had better find that missing piggy before he drives his mother to distraction.” Paladin laughed as he finished washing under the pump and then strolled into the barn. He met Pervinca as she was coming out. She held the knitted pig out to her father.
“Is this what he’s wailing about now, Da?”
“Aye, take it in and give it to him, will you Vinca? There’s a good lass.”
Pervinca snorted. “He’s been talking to it all morning you know. And acting like it talks back to him. He’s so silly.” She trotted off with the knitted piglet slung over her shoulder dangling by its curly tail.
The sun was high in the sky when Pippin decided to do as Tulip suggested and go for a walk to soothe his mood. Two baths in a single day indeed! He felt himself fortunate to have at least avoided the threatened rose scent behind his ears.
Nevertheless he had suffered a noteworthy scrubbing at the hands of his mother and sister. A ramble into the meadows around their home was just what he needed to take his mind off the strong scent of soap.
He put some food in a handkerchief, tucked piggy into his shirt and set out across the meadow. Not far into his hike he began to hum a tune. Inside his shirt Tulip joined him in singing the chorus. Pippin marvelled at how well they harmonised together as he marched happily on his way in search of berries and adventure. It wasn’t long before he had strayed as far as he was allowed to go by himself but many a passing butterfly distracted him as he continued along the narrowing path. Inside his shirt Tulip decided not to remind him as he passed the boundaries of his family’s farm.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“A Wee Adventure”
Children born of faerie stock
Never need for shirt or frock,
Never want for food or fire,
From “I’d Love to be a Faerie’s Child”
“How far have we walked, do you think?” Pippin asked the piggy on his shoulder. For once Tulip had no opinion and he puzzled over her silence.
The youngster peered up at the sky, shading his eyes with one hand and reaching up with the other to grab Tulip’s hoof and keep her balanced. The sun was far to the west now. “It must be later than I thought,” he murmured tilting his head to one side and listening intently. “What’s that you say? I went too far? Farther than I’m supposed to?” He smiled at Tulip’s mild scolding. “Now you sound just like Mum. Don’t worry, we’ll start home now.”
Pippin turned completely around. Which way was home? Suddenly nothing looked familiar to him. It was obvious he was no longer on the farm; of this he was certain. “Just how did that happen?” Pippin scratched his head, feeling more and more puzzled. The trees were different here; the path narrowed sharply ahead of him, and the light was dim.
“Where in thunder am I?” He took several hesitant steps in the opposite direction but still it didn’t feel quite right. He paused and studied the sun’s position in the sky trying to recall what his father had taught him. The sun had been high over his head and behind him when he left home. He needed to walk in the opposite direction of the setting sun and he would be sure to find his way back. Pippin turned and trained his eyes on the sun. It seemed very far away now and he realised with alarm that the time was much later than he’d thought. A sense of uneasiness prickled at the back of his neck and Tulip chided him for his lack of attention to his whereabouts.
“I know, I know,” he agreed. “What’s that?” He leaned his ear closer to her crooked mouth and listened to her chattering. Pippin sighed. “Yes, it will be getting dark before very long and yes, I realise we’ve missed tea and possibly dinner as well!” He shook his head in irritation. “I certainly don’t need to be reminded. My tummy is growling! I didn’t bring nearly enough food.” He grinned when Tulip agreed with him heartily.
“Well, let’s get going then.” He turned and walked in what felt like the correct direction, but after a short while he noticed the woods growing thick around him. He stopped walking abruptly. A gentle whispering drifted to his ears and he tilted his head in an effort to understand the words. The voice sounded musical and was the same he’d heard that morning while seated in the crab apple tree and the day before while he’d helped Pervinca gather the eggs. Pippin spun about eager to locate the source of the voice. Tulip tumbled from his shoulder and landed in a clump of wildflowers that grew beneath the trees. The piglet shrieked her dismay at her young master and Pippin quickly dropped to his knees and gathered her up in his arms.
“Shhh,” he soothed his friend as she chattered and scolded, “You’re all right.” He sprang to his feet and perched her on his right shoulder, then studied their surroundings.
The sweet voice seemed to have faded into the distance. Eager to locate it again Pippin abandoned thoughts of hurrying home in favour of his new pursuit. He trotted further into the woods. Soon the trees soon became quite dense. He hushed the piglet’s voice of concern and patted her knitted snout as he tucked her into his shirt. “Just a little longer and then we’ll start home,” he reassured her. Tulip refused to believe him and quivered in her hiding place but said no more.
Pippin set off down the dimly lit path in search of the musical voice. His face lit up when he heard singing in the far distance. The sweet voice seemed to be calling him. Without any fear, he quickened his pace and journeyed towards the alluring song in the far trees.
It was much darker now. The voice always seemed to stay ahead of him no matter how quickly he hurried. Pippin halted next to a stream and knelt to have a drink and splash some of the cool water on his face. As he leaned over, his piggy tumbled out of his shirt and landed in the water. He reached for her just as the gentle current stole her away and floated once more downstream. Knitted squeals of extreme distress met his ears.
“Oh no!” Pippin hopped into the water and splashed his way after his friend. He winced at the sound of Tulip’s cries. “I’m coming, hang on lass!” Pippin ran as fast as he could across the slippery stones. Catching up with her at last, he reached out to snatch her up as she lodged by an ear on a tree branch sticking out of the water. But he lost his footing on the slick rocks and fell on his back with a splash. Pippin scrambled to his feet, but Tulip had become dislodged and floated once more down the stream.
“I’m coming!” Although wet clear through, Pippin was determined to save his Tulip. He reached for her again and she eluded him once more, this time being whisked around the bend in the stream where the water ran swifter.
“No! Tulip - come back!” He struggled, but as the water became deeper it also ran faster. Soon he was forced to climb out. Refusing to give in to his tears, Pippin flew down the water’s edge, trying to catch sight of his piggy along the way. His efforts carried him still deeper into an unknown place and he failed to notice the darkening sky.
An hour later Pippin scooped his friend out of the water at last. Lying on his belly on the edge of the heavily running stream he reached down into the tangle of weeds and fished Tulip out of her prison of greenery. Rolling over onto his back he clutched the soggy piglet close to his heart and lay panting with relief. Looking up, Pippin slowly came to the realisation that night had fallen some time during his rescue effort. He sat up immediately with a hiss of dismay and looked about. He hadn’t the foggiest notion where he was or how he’d managed to get there. Thankfully it was a warm summer night, but the cold water still chilled him here beneath the ever-darkening tree cover. He thought ruefully of the unfairness of ending up with yet another bath, however this one had been a bit more fun than the first two!
Climbing to his feet he gently squeezed some of the water from Tulip and grinned at her reproaches. He held her up to eye level and apologised sincerely. “I’m very sorry Tulip! Please forgive me for dropping you.” His grin widened as the petulant piggy graciously accepted his regrets.
The call of a night owl startled him and he jumped when Tulip dived inside his shirt with a shriek. Pippin turned his attention to the woods surrounding them, his smile fading. He was well and truly lost. There was nothing he could think of save to keep travelling and hope to find some familiar landmarks along the way. The owl called out again. It was closer this time, and Pippin shivered. He liked birds, but he’d been told some frightening tales about great owls of the forest carrying small hobbit children away and having them for supper!
Inside his shirt, Tulip trembled and then poked her snout out between the buttons to voice her fear. Pippin tried to comfort his friend but Tulip was terribly upset. She wanted her lad to get them home immediately! There’d been enough wandering in the woods and she yearned for a hot meal and her soft bed.
“I’m trying, lass, but it’s dark now and I don’t think we’re going to find our way out until morning.” Pippin winced at the high-pitched scolding Tulip rewarded him with. “I’m sorry. Perhaps we should find a nice place to sleep and then--”
The sweet notes of a song drew his attention back towards the path he had strayed from. Captivated, he forgot about sleeping, and about the owl, and even stopped listening to Tulip. His heart lightening just a little he headed in the direction of the music.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“A Faerie Song”
Then melt as in a dream;
the voice that sings the mysteries of the blue
And all that Be and Seem!
Thy lovely motions answering to the rhyme
That ancient Nature sings,
That keeps the stars in cadence for all time,
And echoes thro’ all things!
…Thy luring song, above the sensuous roar,
He follows with delight,
Shutting behind him Life’s last gloomy door,
And fares into the Night.
To the Leanan Shee (The Faerie Mistress)
By Thomas Boyd
The captivating song still drew him along the narrow path. Pippin was puzzled. He couldn’t understand the words, yet the melody touched his young heart in a special way. The fact that he wasn’t sure where he was nudged the back of his mind, called to his attention more strongly by Tulip’s occasional rumble of dismay. He patted her head to calm her. “Shh now, m’lass! We’ll find our way home, I promise. But first--”
A flash of movement up ahead tore his attention away from the piglet and he eagerly started running. Tulip scolded him some more for not listening and he knew she was truly upset with him. He wondered briefly if his mother hadn’t put a bit of herself into her creation. Tulip was actually starting to sound like her! Pippin shook his head at the thought and chuckled before immersing himself once more into the world of the forest calm. He scratched behind Tulip’s knitted ears to soothe her. She grunted with pleasure and grudgingly forgave him. The pair came upon a tree that was split down the middle. Pippin knew lightning probably caused it. He shivered as he peered up into the branches. Thunderstorms were not one of his favorite things. Tulip knew this and whispered comforting words in his ear. He reached up to pat her. “You’re getting dried off at last,” he observed. Tulip haughtily reminded him whose fault it was she’d gone for a swim in the first place. Pippin smiled as he tucked her inside his soggy shirt and climbed up into the middle of the split trunk to have a look.
The moon was rising in the night sky and Pippin realized that his parents were going to be worried. He hadn’t meant for that to happen and he fretted over how much trouble he might be in. He caught sight of the movement again. A blur of pure white darted along the path not very far ahead. A delicate voice whispered his name. He leaped from the tree all other concerns forgotten for the moment and trotted after the specter, unafraid.
Tulip however was a different story and squealed out her alarm. The youngster shushed her and patted her head absent-mindedly as he hurried along, his thoughts on the stranger ahead of him. When he turned his attention back to the path the figure had disappeared again. He continued his pursuit, trudging along for some time before pausing to get his bearings. Disappointed, Pippin tugged at his lower lip in consternation. Where had the figure in white gone?
The sky had only darkened all the more when Eglantine looked out the window for what felt like the hundredth time that evening. Where was Pippin? Certainly it was getting late enough to be concerned for a little lad of only ten. Eglantine fretted as she dried her hands on her big apron and headed out the door. Pippin knew he was only allowed to go as far as the bottom of the great meadow by himself. Surely he hadn’t strayed any farther. She knew how distracted her son could get whenever something interesting caught his fancy. Shading her eyes with her hand she scanned the green countryside several times. Pimpernel joined her and Eglantine glanced in her daughter’s direction before turning back to the meadow.
“Nell, have you seen your brother?”
“No Mum, not since the great piggy incident,” she chuckled and then sobered noticing her mother’s worried frown. “Why, what is it? Is something wrong?”
Eglantine sighed. “I don’t think so,” she answered uncertainly, “but he is a bit overdue. Well, you know how it is with that lad. Always losing track of the time.”
Pimpernel nodded. Her mother didn’t usually overreact to Pippin being late. After all, it was a fairly regular occurrence with him. “Does Da know he isn’t home yet?”
“No. I hadn’t felt it necessary to inform him until now.”
Pearl leaned out the door of the farmhouse. “Mum? I need your help!”
“Nell dear, would you mind checking around for him? He needs to be getting himself back here. Tea will be ready very soon.”
“Certainly. And Mum? I’m sure he’s fine. He just lost track of the time, that’s all.” Eglantine nodded before going back inside the kitchen but Nell knew her mother was still anxious for some reason. Nell started off immediately across the meadow to search some of her brother’s favorite hiding places.
The tea was growing cold and still he did not appear. Pimpernel returned from her errand with no word. The lasses tidied up the kitchen while they waited. Paladin gathered some of the farm hands to help them search and together they hunted from one end of the farm to the other. Paladin’s exasperation with his son had now turned into real worry. He called to several of the searchers and gathered them around.
“I think it’s time we got out some of the ponies and search farther away.”
“Aye Pad, I think that’s a sensible idea.” Eglantine nodded. The high pitch of her voice revealed her level of worry. “He’s far too late and he’s obviously wandered much further than we realised.”
No one gave voice to the growing sense of unease as nighttime approached. Something did not feel right.
The glow of moonlight filtered through the dense undergrowth and Pippin stopped to admire the great flowing canopies overhead. He loved trees and climbing them was a favorite pastime. The siren call drifted gently to his ears and the young hobbit smiled broadly in anticipation as he hurried deeper into the woods. Riding inside his shirt once more Tulip pouted and held her tongue.
Exhausted, Pippin finally sought a place of shelter. “I’ll just have a rest and perhaps a little nap.” He thought ruefully of the dinner he was missing and the growling in his stomach seemed to scold him like Tulip had. Climbing up into the low split of an oak tree he lay back and folded his arms across his chest. The thought of being afraid never occurred to him. He contemplated his circumstances as he drifted off to sleep.
The tiny figure was even more diminutive in stature than the young hobbit. She approached the slumbering lad on feet lighter than air and watched Pippin curiously as he slept. Her gossamer gown shimmered in the half-light as she lifted from the earth and drifted above him. The spirit song ebbed and flowed all around them as if carried on the stream that flowed gently through the woodland.
Pippin shifted restlessly in his sleep once and the being touched him lightly on the forehead immediately soothing him.
She descended and began to dance around the tree. A ring of white growth sprang from the damp earth beneath her feet and gradually surrounded the oak, trailing from wherever her feet had touched the ground. The notes of an otherworldly song rose along with the mists on the night air. The child’s voice was as pure as the clear running stream on the woodland floor.
Pippin slept deeply in his makeshift bed, his rest undisturbed. After a time the child vanished from sight somewhere into the depths of the circle created with her dancing. A last lighthearted chuckle drifted over the clear air. The night grew still at last. The only sounds were the faint snores wafting from a small hobbit lad and a knitted piglet.
The sun was still a mere promise of golden rays on the horizon when she appeared again. She crouched on a limb above the slumbering pair smiling impishly, and then tickled Pippin’s feet to wake him. He sat up with a start, disoriented, unsure of his whereabouts. His memory gradually returned as he stirred and rubbed his sleepy eyes. His visitor disappeared from sight. She hovered nearby, hidden under an ethereal cloak observing his every move. She placed both hands to her mouth and giggled.
Pippin’s head shot up in surprise. He darted a look around and saw nothing but the trees and the occasional squirrel scurrying up and down the trunks of the large oaks. Tilting his head to one side he listened closely. His keen ears discerned nothing. Pippin chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip before scooting off of his low perch in the split of the tree and dropping easily to the ground. He stretched his arms to the sky with a great yawn seemingly unconcerned he had just spent the night alone in the forest. Remembering Tulip he patted the front of his shirt and chuckled when she squeaked in annoyance.
“Ah lass, I know, you’re not an early riser!” Tulip retorted that she was cranky without her morning tea and what was he going to do about it?
“That’s a very good question my friend.” He patted his rumbling tummy and frowned. “Let’s be off and find some berries, maybe even a few mushrooms,” he suggested and Tulip heartily agreed. Pippin spun around to get his bearings and noticed he stood inside a ring of some sort of growth surrounding the oak. He bent to examine it and his face lit up in disbelief. “Mushrooms!” he crowed and plucked up several of them. He held them to the light for inspection. They were the most beautiful mushrooms he’d ever seen in his life. They fairly gleamed in his fingers as if beckoning him to consume them. He eyed them curiously for just a moment before eagerly popping them into his mouth. “This wasn’t here last night, I’m certain of that,” he told Tulip while he selected more of the delicacies. As his pockets bulged with the bounty Tulip inquired if he planned on eating them all himself?
“Oh! I’m very sorry my lass. How thoughtless of me.” Pippin pulled the piggy from his shirt and held a mushroom in front of her pink button snout. Tulip drew back and scolded him soundly.
“Oh dear, all right I’ll wash it first.” Pippin headed for the stream, one hand filled with mushrooms and the other clutching the knitted piggy. He wondered again if his mother hadn’t somehow cunningly placed her voice into his piglet or at least given Tulip some lessons on how to make a lad heed her instructions.
“Come then, we’ll get a drink too.” He bent to the water’s edge, careful to keep a firm hold of her this time. When he’d drunk his fill he rocked back on his heels and gazed around. A flicker in the clear stream caught his eye and he stared in amazement at the face of what appeared to be a small child much like himself, right down to the curly cinnamon hair, sharp nose, and pointed ears. His eyes widened and he gasped when she suddenly disappeared.
“What!” Pippin leaped to his feet and whirled in a circle. “What was that Tulip?” His heart pounded, not with fear but excitement. Tulip told him she hadn’t seen a thing and reminded him about the tea. Pippin did not reply. Instead he ran along the trail keeping a sharp eye out for the odd lass he was certain he’d seen. He had no idea he was now the pursued rather than the pursuer.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
There are times and places where two worlds meet, where a traveller may wander into this Hidden Place. Between places are entrances into this Magical Realm: between Earth and Sea, between Day and Night, between One Place and The Next….Standing within a doorway, one is neither in one place or the next, neither outside nor indoors. It allows us a passageway into the inbetween world of Faerie.
(From “A Journey into the Realms of Faerie”)
A/N: Rhoswen is Celtic/Gaelic. It means White Rose.
Pippin ran, but he didn’t know where he was going. He felt guided, as if he knew the way without being told. It never occurred to him to question this knowledge; he simply obeyed. Inside his damp shirt Tulip stirred and pouted at her lad’s failure to heed her wishes. Pippin felt a twinge of guilt and patted her kindly, however he continued to ignore Tulip’s advice as well as his own inner voice. He was far too excited about the lass he’d seen to pay attention to his companion’s grumbling or his own better judgment.
He stopped at last and turned in a circle. He felt like a hound that had lost the scent of a rabbit. Pippin scratched his head, puzzled. Where had the lass gone? He whirled around again trying to look in every direction at once, afraid he’d miss her if she suddenly flitted by again. The woods were very silent now and he listened eagerly for some sign of the elusive child. All around him the woods remained tranquil. It was too silent, as if all the inhabitants watched and awaited his next move. Pippin frowned, listening keenly for anything, the call of a sparrow or the wind rustling through the leaves. His surroundings remained utterly still. A slight sense of uneasiness prickled at the back of his neck. What was going on?
He puzzled the situation over for several minutes and finally set off slowly, examining every bush, rock, and tree he passed for clues of her having gone this way. The eerie quiet persisted, but Pippin ignored it in favor of his pursuit of the mystery child.
Was she hiding? Surely that was it! Perhaps it was a game then? He chuckled, his nervousness subsiding. “All right, if you want to play hide and seek I’m game.” He set off down the narrow path at a brisk trot, renewing his resolve. Tulip fretted and kicked her little cloven hooves vigorously against his chest in a wild tattoo that displayed her frustration. Pippin laughed at the tickling sensation and reached inside his shirt. He placed Tulip on his right shoulder so she could see more.
“There, how’s that? Now you can help me look.”
Tulip informed him that she had no intention of helping him look for the strange lass. She wanted him to take her home - now! There was something going on here and she most certainly did not like it.
“What? But we’re so close to finding her. I can feel it! Just a bit longer, all right?” Tulip’s voice was beginning to sound more like his mother’s with every word and he fidgeted just a little at her scolding. “Come now, we’re supposed to be having an adventure, aren’t we? And going for a walk was your idea.”
Tulip snorted disdainfully in reply, informing him that the walk had long since become a hike into an unknown and perhaps dangerous place. She sniffed, reminding him he was dreadfully overdue at home and he was likely in very big trouble!
Pippin hesitated. He really didn’t like to worry his parents. But he felt torn. The call of exploration and the thrill of discovery beckoned him further into the dense woodland and he found it too wonderful to resist. He tried reasoning with his friend. “Come Tulip, wouldn’t you like to find out just what this lass is doing here all alone? She might be lost and need our help. We just can’t leave her here by herself, isn’t that right?”
Tulip sighed and murmured something. Pippin tipped his head close to her snout in order to hear her better. He nodded, giving a sigh of his own. “All right, we’re in agreement then. If I don’t find her in another hour or so we’ll go back the way we’ve come.” Tulip opened her mouth to qualify their agreement but Pippin placed a hurried finger against her lips. “Yes, I’m aware you’re not in complete agreement but thank you for trying to understand.” Pippin settled her more firmly onto his shoulder and set off again. “Anyway, we need to find some food before we go back, right?”
Tulip reluctantly agreed that it would be nice to at least enjoy a first breakfast before it was time for luncheon! Pippin smiled knowingly and patted her head as he trotted. “Aye, spoken like a proper hobbit. There’s a good lass!”
The faerie pressed a hand to her mouth stifling her laughter at the lad’s chatter to his plaything. She followed at a discreet distance flitting along easily and felt quite pleased with her covert game of hide and seek. Oh, if only he knew she was close behind him! She giggled merrily, imagining the shocked look on his charming face.
Pippin whirled at the sound but not quickly enough. His attendant whisked up into the nearest tree and melted from view with ease. Pippin snorted in frustration just as something else caught his eye. He hurried over to a small thicket of brambles and crowed aloud - raspberries! Oh my! Even Tulip’s attention was quickly distracted by their find.
He hesitated for a moment, pondering the laughter then shrugged and started gathering the plump, juicy berries by the handful. He hadn’t realized just how hungry he was until the scent reached his nose. He shoveled as many into his mouth as he could and squeezed his eyes shut in pleasure, savoring the sweet taste. He wiped his sleeve across his chin several times as the berry juice dribbled downward and dripped onto his shirt. Oblivious to the mess he was making he eagerly reached for more. Tulip grunted to remind him she wanted her share of the bounty.
The faerie child watched with great amusement as Pippin consumed his fill of the berries, at times stopping to place one under the mouth of his plaything. She tilted her head in wonder every time he did this, never taking her eyes off him. She found the little one fascinating, his actions mysterious.
Pippin ate until he could hold no more, then settled on the ground to study his surroundings. He wiped his sticky fingers on his trousers and wished there was water to wash his hands. He settled for licking his fingers clean. Tulip screwed up her snout in disgust and grumbled her dismay. She asked him where he had left his manners, back at the side of the stream? Pippin simply smiled and patted her head fondly, then tucked her underneath his chin as he leaned back against a small tree. His eyelids began to droop and he stretched out his legs in front of him and sighed contentedly. A nap would be just the thing before he went any farther.
The faerie settled nearby as she had the night before and observed the hobbit in slumber. After a time she rose and wandered over to him, placing a small bunch of flowers in his lap before vanishing. Pippin shifted in his sleep and clasped the blooms with one hand. A short time later he awoke with a start and blinked several times. His attention fell on the item he clutched to his chest and his eyes widened. Primroses? Wherever had they come from? He darted a look about but saw nothing of the pale yellow flowers anywhere near him. His brow wrinkled in thought. Another mystery! “Look Tulip,” he said, raising the flowers to show his companion. He smiled when Tulip lifted her eyes in surprise. Primroses? She shook her head then reminded him of their agreement.
“I know, I know! But it hasn’t been an hour yet.” Tulip replied she thought it had. “No, naps don’t count. The time only counts when I’m awake.” The piglet politely disagreed but Pippin chose to ignore her. Absent-mindedly tucking her into his shirt he wandered further down the trail. He raised the flowers to his nose and sniffed, still wondering where they had come from? Were they a gift from the mysterious child, perhaps? Pippin resumed his search.
Much later he happened upon a boulder in the middle of the path. Pippin stopped and eyed it curiously. The rock was huge, much taller than he was, and larger than any he’d ever seen on the farm or in any of the surrounding area. Pippin approached it, fascinated, and stood regarding it for a moment before reaching out a hand to touch it carefully. The bunch of primroses brushed against it and Pippin experienced an odd sense of dizziness.
The world seemed to wink out for just the briefest of moments before coming into sharper focus than ever before. Pippin gazed about in sheer amazement. Everything around him had suddenly come to life with brilliant colour. The trees shimmered with a life he had not noticed before. The sky was bluer, the grass greener, and the clouds were as plump as his favourite pillow. He wondered if they were as soft? He spied a clear stream and could hear the trickling of a waterfall nearby. Adorned in bright colours, small birds flitted about in the trees. There was a large meadow ahead of him where dozens of equally brilliant butterflies played tag with the birds. Pippin narrowed his eyes and looked closer. There was something different about the butterflies, though…
The sight so enraptured him that he laughed aloud. Even Tulip was captivated for a moment before she squealed her alarm, causing her young master to almost drop her in surprise. “Shh, lass, everything is all right, I’m sure.” Tulip hastened to disagree. What exactly had happened? “I don’t know,” Pippin whispered in her ear. “Something wonderful!”
Still clutching the bouquet of primroses Pippin took a hesitant step, and then another, heading for the crystal stream. Setting Tulip down beside him he bent to take a drink then splashed the welcoming water on his face. He laughed again as Tulip frowned disapprovingly when cold droplets of water pelted her snout. Pippin chuckled and placed her back up to perch on his shoulder. “Oh come now lass, surely you can feel the magic in this place as well as I can?” The piglet agreed it was magical all right. Of the sort a wizard like his friend Gandalf the Grey might conjure. But Gandalf obviously was not here, so what exactly was going on?
“Hmm, that’s true enough, I suppose. Perhaps it’s another wizard? Or something else entirely?” Tulip agreed. It had to be something else because she, for one, had never seen the likes of this! But what would his mother say? Pippin frowned at the reminder that he was far from home and no one knew where he was.
“Well, I don’t know, of course! But I’m sure I will find out soon enough.” Pippin allowed himself to be annoyed with Tulip’s musings. “You don’t have to keep reminding me, you know.” His only answer was a snort of impatience, and then Tulip held her tongue.
Pippin smiled in relief and set about exploring his new surroundings. Light-hearted giggling behind him caused him to whirl. This time the child did not evade him. Instead, she stood a short distance away and bade him welcome.
Pippin stared at her in wonder. Her voice was as light as a breeze on a spring day. “How…how did you know my name?” He stammered. “Who are you?”
“A friend,” she replied and quietly studied him. She nodded at the primroses he still carried. “I see you found my gift.” Pippin nodded, his mouth open, continuing to gape. The faerie giggled again. Tulip eyed the lass skeptically; convinced now that this must be a dream and she and her lad had not awakened yet, but she kept her opinion to herself and waited to see what would happen next.
“I am Rhoswen. I have invited you to my home for tea.”
“Tea?” Both Pippin’s and Tulip’s ears perked up at the mention of food. “Uh, here? In the woods?”
“This is where I live! Come, you may be surprised by what you find here.” Rhoswen stepped forward and took Pippin by the hand.
Tulip squealed in fright and Pippin hurried to calm her. He patted the knitted piglet’s head and tucked her inside his shirt where she quivered for a moment. Unable to contain her own curiosity, she crawled up into his collar and peered out at their hostess.
The faerie gazed back at her. “Your little playmate seems to know your thoughts very well.” Pippin nodded. “You are excited to be here, yet you are anxious. Fear not. No harm will come to you while I am at your side.”
“All right,” Pippin answered slowly. He looked at their surroundings again. “But, where is here?”
“I told you, this is my home.”
“You live in the woods? Why haven’t I ever seen you here before?”
“You have not ever been this deep in these woods, have you now?”
Pippin shook his head.
“Ah well, you have much to see and learn. Come!” Rhoswen took his hand once more and led him further into the woods.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
Some day shall we two try to find
This strange enchanted place?
Go hand in hand through flower-lit woodsWhere living trees embrace--
And suddenly, as if in a dream,
Behold a faerie’s face!
From “Enchanted Tulips”
Maud Keary, et al.
A/N: Alfie is a feminine form of Alfred. It means “Elf Counsellor”.
Paladin dismounted his pony and wrapped the reins around the fence post, then trudged wearily towards the door of the farmhouse where his wife waited. Eglantine searched his face anxiously and stiffened at the slight shake of his head.
“No sign of him at all.” Paladin’s voice was grim and he nodded over his shoulder at the rest of the searchers who trailed up the path after him. “I’ve sent Tomias to fetch the shirriff. It’s been far too long.” He brushed passed his wife and daughters.
Eglantine’s face grew pale, noting the firm set of his jaw. Her husband would only have called for Shirriff Smallburrow if he were very worried indeed.
She felt a comforting arm encircling her shoulders and looked into her daughter’s eyes. They sparkled with a strength she herself did not feel at the moment and Eglantine allowed herself to claim some of it gratefully.
“We’ll find him, Mum,” Pearl reassured her with a nod of certainty.
“Yes, indeed,” Pimpernel agreed. “We all know how Pippin is about wandering off. It isn’t the first time he’s done it.”
Eglantine didn’t answer. While her daughter’s voice sounded lightly optimistic, she couldn’t help noticing how pale her face appeared. Eglantine’s mind was awhirl with unwelcome imaginings about the many things that might befall a lad of barely ten years. She shivered and did her best to push the thoughts to the back of her mind. “Come, Pad.” Eglantine gestured at their friends and neighbors who had joined in the search. “We’ve prepared luncheon for everyone.”
“Aye, we’ll eat quickly and then resume the search,” Milo Chubb patted his friend’s shoulder. “We’ll find him Pad. Never you fear!”
Paladin nodded once, his face a mask of tightly contained emotion, and sank into a chair. The others followed suit. Food was passed around the table in relative silence, each of them conjecturing possibilities as to the lad’s whereabouts. Not one of them wished to give voice to the darker speculations that were beginning to form in some of their minds. Quiet pockets of conversation slowly emerged from the hushed gathering.
Paladin gazed at his wife, his control slipping just the slightest bit as their eyes met and they shared their anguish. He communicated an unspoken promise to her and she dipped her head in understanding. He would find their son. Eglantine squeezed his hand. He looked around the table before speaking.
“I’m not waiting for Smallburrow to get here.” He nodded to his wife and daughters. “You can fill him in on the situation and tell him I’m turning the search deeper into the woodlands. I’d like to have him concentrate on the area further out around Whitwell and Tuckborough. Perhaps Pippin had a mind to go exploring in those directions. The lad generally prefers the woods, but it’s hard to tell with him.”
Paladin attempted a smile that was more of a grimace. “I don’t think he’d set out for Buckland even if he suddenly got it into his head to go see Merry. That’s a very long distance and he’s never tried such a thing before.” Paladin frowned, pondering. “At least not to my knowledge,” he added.
Pimpernel tilted her head in thought. “Da,” she began slowly, “ what if he found out that Merry was visiting Bag End with his parents this week?” Paladin looked up, startled by the revelation. “I hadn’t even thought of that Nell. I’d forgotten about it myself.”
“Why, I did as well, Pad,” Eglantine brightened. “Their visit was planned some weeks ago and since we were keeping it quiet from Pippin so he wouldn’t beg to go to Hobbiton, I guess I’d let it slip my mind completely.”
“Yes, that’s right. They were planning on stopping by here to visit on their way home,” Pearl agreed. “It was supposed to be a surprise for Pip.”
“What? I didn’t know anything about it!” Pervinca pouted.
Pearl shook her head. “That’s because you’re as bad at keeping a secret as Pippin is.” She turned to her parents. “I can go find out if he’s there, Da. I’m a good rider, it wouldn’t take me long to make it to Bag End.”
Paladin looked at his pocket watch and then to his wife for her opinion. Eglantine immediately nodded her agreement. “All right, then. Go ahead. It’s certainly worth looking into, and there’s plenty of time for you to get there before nightfall.” Paladin tossed his napkin down onto the table next to the meal he had barely touched, and stood. “Meanwhile I’m going back to the woodlands and search deeper into the forest. That’s his favorite place to play, even though he knows he’s not allowed to go that far without someone with him.”
Their spirits lifted at the prospect of new places to hunt, the searchers rose as one from the table.
“I wish it was time to go to Whitwell,” Merry sighed as he and Frodo strolled in Bag End’s front garden. Frodo gave him an understanding smile and Merry returned it with a grin of his own.
“You haven’t seen Pippin in months, I know. But it will only be another two days and you’ll be on your way.”
“I wish you were coming too.”
“So do I, but I must--” Frodo turned his head in surprise when he heard his name shouted. Someone was riding up the lane very fast and the cousins paused to wait for the breathless lass to reach them. They were both startled to see that it was Pearl as she reined her pony to a stop and dismounted quickly.
“Pearl! Whatever is wrong?” Frodo asked, his voice rising with concern.
“Is Pippin here? Oh, please tell me that he is.” Pearl attempted to catch her breath and still the pounding of her heart. She knew the answer already by the look of surprise on her cousins’ faces.
“What’s the matter? What happened?” Asked Merry anxiously.
“He’s been missing since yesterday afternoon. We’ve seen neither hide nor hair of him since he went for a walk in the meadow after luncheon. Da and the farmhands searched all night and now Da’s called for the shirriff. Mum is beside herself with worry, although she’s trying not to show it, and the rest of us are just as uneasy.”
“Was he upset about anything?” Frodo asked.
“No, not really.” Pearl smiled at the memory of her little brother covered in cow dung, vigorously protesting his second bath of the day. Even as their mother lowered him into the tub of soapy water, Pippin continued to beg for his knitted piglet in between his objections. “He was a wee bit unhappy about needing a bath after he took an unfortunate plunge into a cow pat,” she chuckled, before growing serious again. “But no, he wasn’t upset. He told Mum he was taking Tulip for a walk because the piglet had suggested it. I think he just wanted to have some time to himself to play, seeing as how we were all interfering with his fun.”
“We need to inform Bilbo and your parents, Merry.” Frodo gestured for them to follow him as he spun around and headed for the smial at a brisk trot.
“Yes, perhaps they can help,” Pearl readily agreed as she trailed behind Frodo. “I thought perhaps he might have come here. That perhaps he overheard our conversation about your pending visit.” She draped an arm about her younger cousin’s shoulders and squeezed.
Merry shook his head. “I haven’t seen Pip since our last visit months ago. Have you checked all his favorite places to hide?”
“Yes, of course we have. That is, unless he has some new ones we’re not aware of?” Pearl stopped and eyed Merry curiously.
“Well,” Merry scratched his head and considered. “There is a place we found fairly recently and didn’t tell anyone about.”
“What is it then?” Pearl grew impatient quickly. “Tell me!”
“A cave. It’s on the farm and very well hidden by overgrowth. We happened upon it one day last spring while we were exploring. Pippin was fascinated by it. We didn’t go very far in because we didn’t have a lantern. We’d planned to go back another time, but we never had the opportunity."
“A cave?” Pearl’s voice was suddenly shrill and Merry winced at her tone. “My little brother might be lost inside a cave? Meriadoc! Do you have any idea how dangerous a place like that is?” Pearl hoisted up her skirts and ran the remaining distance to the smial. She arrived just as the door opened and her aunt and uncle emerged. Saradoc barely acknowledged her as he hurried toward the pen where the ponies were kept.
“Oh, Auntie,” Pearl fell into Esmeralda’s arms and was folded into the welcoming hug. “We can’t find Pippin. He’s been gone since yesterday.”
“I know dear. Your uncle is hitching the waggon. We’ll be on our way to Whitwell in just a few minutes. I believe Bilbo and Frodo are coming too.”
“Thank you, Aunt Esmie.”
Merry caught up with her and tried to explain. “Pearl, I told him he couldn’t go in there alone. I made him promise he wouldn’t and that we’d only explore it together.”
Pearl whirled on him. “Merry, this is Pippin we’re talking about. If he were of a mind to go exploring nothing would stop him. You know that! He’d find a way to reason out getting around any promises he made to you.”
Merry was forced to agree when it was put to him that way. Pippin could justify his actions in any of a hundred different ways if he felt he was right in doing something. His little cousin would no doubt talk himself out of believing there was any danger even though Merry had told him there might be.
“Well find him, Pearl. You know what a habit he has of wandering off in search of adventure.”
Pearl nodded. “That’s true, but he’s never been gone over night before.”
The little party started on their way, Saradoc leading the way with his wife and son, and Bilbo following in his pony cart with Frodo.
Laughing merrily, Pippin and Rhoswen skipped down the path together towards the crystal stream. Tulip clutched her young master’s shoulder hanging on for dear life, occasionally emitting tiny squeals. Rhoswen stopped and released Pippin’s hand. She pointed at Tulip. “Your friend is distressed."
Pippin reached into his collar and scratched Tulip behind her ears to soothe her. The knitted piglet grunted with pleasure at the attention, although she let him know she was still upset. Pippin held her snout to his ear and listened, then patted her head. “Don’t worry. I told you everything is all right.”
Tulip hastened to disagree, haughtily reminding him that his parents were bound to be searching frantically for him by now. Pippin frowned. He allowed himself to consider Tulip’s warning and shifted from foot to foot uneasily, wondering just how much trouble he was actually going to be in. He was aware he’d wandered much farther than he was allowed, and sighed, favoring his knitted friend with a look of irritation. Why did she always insist on being right?
Rhoswen smiled at the pair. They were so enchanting! They must remain here with her forever. She could not bear to see them go. The tea. Ah yes, the tea. She must bring her friend home to taste the food of her family’s land. Then he would not leave her, ever. “Come, the tea will grow cold if we linger much longer. My mother has prepared the most delightful feast to welcome you.”
Pippin’s eyes widened at the mention of a feast. His mouth watered. He slanted his eyes towards the piglet perched on his shoulder and wondered what argument to use next. He couldn’t help feeling like he was talking to his mother, trying to convince her that he should be allowed to do something he knew he shouldn’t. He needed to go home, it was true, but he was ever so hungry! Surely they had time for just a small feast?
Tulip was famished too, but stubbornly maintained her position that something was awry. She knew Pippin was wavering and couldn’t resist giving him a slight kick of warning with her soft hoof. She chuckled at his sharp glance and raised a knitted eyebrow ever so innocently. Her young master sighed and struggled with his conscience, but Tulip had no doubt what his decision would be. He was a hobbit, after all. She frowned disapprovingly at his next words.
“Well…I don’t think it would do any harm to just have a bite. It wouldn’t be good manners to turn down Rhoswen’s invitation, now would it Tulip?”
Tulip sighed. Sometimes she hated being right so much of the time. She shook her pink head in disagreement and then climbed under his shirt collar and held her tongue. Pippin smiled in relief. “All right, we’ll come to tea, then. But afterwards I must be going home. My parents will wonder what happened to me.” His voice lowered to a near whisper, “I have been gone all night.”
“Yes, I realize that you have. Never fear, everything will be fine. Come!” The faerie took Pippin’s hand in hers and tugged him along. Tulip eyed her from the safety of her perch and wondered what it was about this child that concerned her so much.
The thick underbrush hampered their progress at times, but Paladin pushed on determinedly. The searchers were now deep into the woods that bordered the Took farm and the light was dim even though nightfall was still hours away. They had dismounted some time ago and were leading their ponies as they sought clues every step of the way.
So far they had not found any evidence of his son passing this way no matter where they searched. But Paladin reminded himself that it was also a good thing. There had been no signs of struggle or injury, no indication that a fox or any other woodland creature had attacked Peregrin. Just as the reflection passed through his mind the cry of a hawk overhead caused him to shudder with an unexpected notion. Oh, mercy! What if a great owl…Paladin refused to allow himself to complete the thought. He trudged along faster while pushing the horrific notion from his mind with a will of iron.
Rhoswen giggled and hurried faster. “Come, Peregrin,” she gestured to the hobbit lad.
Pippin marveled at the speed his friend was able to travel. He knew he could run fairly quickly, but Rhoswen seemed to almost fly ahead of him. Inside his shirt Tulip warned him not to spill her onto the ground. She’d had her fill of adventure for the time being and simply wished for some food and a nap.
Gliding to a stop at last Rhoswen turned and laughed while she waited for Pippin to catch up. She took in his flushed face with glee, delighted that she could entice him to hurry after her while she easily stayed ahead. “Look!”
She pointed. Pippin panted to a stop beside her and then stared in delight. A feast as fine as that served at Yule lay before him, laid out in a picnic on the ground just inside a clearing. He gasped in wonder. Tulip poked her head out and did the same despite her feelings of trepidation.
“Oh! Look at…” Pippin’s voice trailed off as he stared at the banquet before him. Beside him, Rhoswen giggled. Pippin approached, awestruck, and halted a short way from the bounty. His mouth fell open and he continued to stare.
“Come Peregrin! Let us eat now. You may have your fill.” The faerie knelt on the ground beside the food and waved at him impatiently to join her.
Pippin took a step forward and dropped to his knees. He reached for the bread and broke off a portion, then raised it to his mouth. Before he could take the first bite a voice cried out from the direction they’d come and he dropped it to the ground and whirled. Tulip joined him in a squeal of surprise as they beheld another; She was clad in a gown much like Rhoswen’s.
In the wink of an eye, Pippin found himself being lifted from his place at the picnic and whisked a considerable distance away. He blinked, uncertain of just how he’d got there so quickly. He gazed up into the twinkling eyes and was greeted with a gentle smile. Any feelings of fright he’d had melted away immediately.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“Along a Path of Light”
Do you seek the road to Faerieland?
I’ll tell; it’s easy, quite.
Wait till a yellow moon gets up
O’er purple seas by night,
And gilds a shining pathway
That is sparkling diamond bright
Then, if no evil power be nigh
To thwart you, out of spite,
And if you know the very words
To cast a spell of might,
You get upon a thistledown,
And, if the breeze is right,
You sail away to Faerieland
Along this track of light.
From “The Road to Faerieland”
Ernest Thompson Seton
"What is it, Pad?” Milo Chubb was at his friend’s side in a flash, peering at the find. Paladin held up the scrap of wool for his inspection. Milo grinned. “That from his toy piggy? He snagged it on some of those brambles yonder, eh?”
“Aye! He must have come this way and perhaps stopped to get a drink of water, just as we did.” Paladin turned in a semicircle, squinting into the fading light. He made a quick decision. Raising his voice, he called over his shoulder. “Come, let’s go lads!” He waved his party in the direction of a thick cluster of oak and ash as he set off at a brisk trot, the reins of his pony clutched tightly in one hand. He tucked his find into his shirt pocket and breathed a silent plea to he knew not what, that he would find his son soon.
“Easy, Pad, watch where you’re going.” Milo grabbed him by the arm as Paladin stumbled and nearly fell in his haste. “No sense in breaking your fool neck along the way.”
Paladin frowned at his cousin, shrugging out of his grasp and tossing a look over his shoulder at the others. “Night is coming on fast again. He’s already been out here for one night. I don’t want it to become two. We need to hurry it up!”
“Aye, that’s true, but we also need to keep our wits about ourselves.”
“I’m nearly out of patience.”
“So I see.” Milo patted his shoulder and leaned close to whisper, “We will find your boy, Pad. I know it. I’ve a good feeling about it.”
“I know. I’ve got a very strong sense that he’s about, somewhere nearby. I just need to figure out the correct direction.”
The friends walked side by side, speaking softly while the others followed Paladin’s lead, their ponies in tow.
“You’ve got one of those ‘feelings’ like you get sometimes, don’t you now?” Milo shook his head in wonder.
Paladin simply grunted and plowed ahead.
“All right, let’s go.” Saradoc directed the small gathering into the waggons. After dumping the last armload of supplies into the back, he clambered up into the driver’s seat and snatched up the reins, eager to be on his way. Daylight was wasting fast and it was going to be difficult enough to search inside a cave. His mind was already awhirl with his plan of action and he wondered how small the entrance was. Twisting around, he called to his son.
“Merry! Come, hop up here with me lad, I want to talk to you.” Saradoc patted the seat beside him. Esmeralda joined Eglantine and the other lasses in the Took’s waggon, where Pearl already waited with the reins in hand.
They had managed to find two more of the farmhands who had returned in order to regroup and grab a quick bite to eat. Sparrow Tunnelly’s party now joined them, adding another three hobbits to the new search party. Frodo and Bilbo brought the number to three in that waggon.
“Hoi there, wait Doc!” Malco Chubb was hurrying his way up the path, with his younger cousin, Gil, in tow. Out of breath, he pulled the ponies to a stop and nodded to them. “Dremma and I were in Whitwell visiting and we happened to hear about young Peregrin going missing when the Shirriff and his party passed through. Gil and I wanted to come help you all look for him.”
Saradoc nodded. “Thank you, we can use all the help we can get.”
“We’re headed for another spot. You’re very welcome to join us, and I thank you.” Eglantine looked every bit as thankful as she proclaimed.
Alfie gazed around at her eager audience and smiled. Pippin felt his heart soar and by the way she held her breath, he knew Tulip felt the same way. There was something very special about the pretty lady and the fascinating creatures he’d met here. Pippin wondered why he had never seen them before. He wriggled in excitement, waiting impatiently for the story to begin, and shushed Tulip. “Be patient! It won’t be long now.” Tulip chuckled at her lad’s admonishment and told him it seemed their roles had been reversed. Pippin turned to Ealdhun when he heard the merry laughter and grinned sheepishly. The earth faerie’s eyes twinkled at the hobbit’s actions and his warm gaze pleased Pippin. He shrugged, and Ealdhun’s smile widened. The little circle of friends felt warm and cosy. Relaxing, Pippin settled his chin in his hand as Alfie started to speak.
“This story is very old. It has been told countless times over many, many years…but only to a certain few. It is a very special tale, and one that bears repeating, and yet it must be held close to your heart and treasured. You should share it with another only after great consideration.” She watched Pippin closely; hers eyes shone in the twilight. “Do you understand, young Peregrin Took?”
Pippin hesitated. It wasn’t often that the lad was without words, but this was one of those rare moments. Before he could respond, she leaned forward and gently tilted his chin upwards with her hand. “What I mean is that you should use good judgment when you do share it. Yes?”
Pippin nodded. He still wasn’t certain he understood. Rhoswen giggled and draped an arm around his shoulders. “It is all right, Peregrin. Alfie will help you understand.”
Alfie spread her arms wide, indicating their surroundings. “I will begin by telling you of our home. This place is called Sidhe, and is our world, and it is much the same as the one you call Middle-earth. While it exists alongside your world, you may see it only at special moments when you are invited to. Many things here are different than what you are used to, and that is why you must exercise caution.” She pointed over Pippin’s shoulder. “That is the direction of the River Cenedril o’galad, and it has an important meaning to us. It is also the place where my story begins, for it is where two people met many years ago, and where a promise was made, marking the beginning of a special union that neither of our worlds have seen before. Or since.”
Pippin wrinkled his brow. Whatever was Alfie talking about? He settled his chin in his hand once more and thought very hard as he listened. For once, Tulip rested silently on his shoulder, offering no opinion. Alfie leaned forward again and stroked his curls tenderly. “Ah, your face is so very puzzled, little one! Do not fear. I will make certain you understand what I am telling you before we are through.”
Pippin’s face lit up again. As the twilight deepened he was astonished to hear soft music coming from all around, yet he could see no one playing an instrument. “Where does the music come from?”
Alfie pointed over his shoulder again. “Behind you…” She laughed when Pippin spun around, trying to catch a glimpse of someone. “And, beside you.” She indicated the place near his companions and Pippin scratched his head and looked confused. “In front of you,” Alfie pointed to the ground, “and all around you.” She gestured at the garden and beyond.
“I…don’t understand,” Pippin began, and then laughed with delight and clapped his hands as all around them an odd assortment of beings materialized. Tulip squeaked her amazement and her eyes grew wide. The beings perched in trees, and sat on the ground. A number hovered in the air near him, while still more of them rested on the rocks next to Alfie. A few stood along the tree line. They were a mixture of sizes and colours. Some had skin of a deep golden hue, while others were fair like Rhoswen. A few were the same as Ealhdun, and one even resembled a slender green sapling. Several held harps; some had flutes, and many of them played instruments that were entirely foreign to him. All created music such as he had never heard before. He listened, captivated as the melody swelled, then played on softly once more.
Alfie smiled. “They want you to know how much they appreciate the music they have heard you make, Peregrin. You sing like no other they have heard before, with a voice that is sweet and clear, and that rings with joy and purity.”
Pippin sat up straight, his eyes wide. “Really?”
“Yes, really,” Alfie chuckled and touched his hair again, while Rhoswen and Ealhdun joined her in laughter. The tiny butterfly beings shimmered in the fading light and Pippin thought they too, appeared amused. He grinned when Tulip whispered in his ear and reached up to pat her head.
“Why, thank you m’lass. I like your singing too!”
As their merriment settled down, Alfie began her story again. “You are like us, Peregrin, in a very special way.” Pippin’s green eyes widened in surprise, as Alfie continued. “We are the Daoine Sidhe, keepers of the natural world. I will tell you of our land.” She smiled and lifted Pippin’s chin once more. Gazing into his green eyes she whispered, “And of our people.”
Paladin raised his head abruptly and listened. The searchers had stopped for another brief rest and he sat by himself, not wishing to join the others, not even his cousin. He couldn’t lose hope, but feelings of despair warred in his heart despite his best efforts. He had been so sure, but that was several hours ago and it was now full dark again. The moon wasn’t high yet, but its fullness lent enough light for them to see fairly well, even without their lanterns.
But he had heard…something. Music? A crystal melody, sweet and otherworldly, captivating…it was as nothing he had heard before in his life. Could it possibly be there were others here in the woods with them? Others who chose to remain hidden? There were stories of Elves passing through these woods long ago, but even as a lad playing about the woodlands around the family’s farm, he had never yet laid eyes on one. He strained to see beyond their circle of light, and the shadows cast by the glow of the rising moon. Hobbit ears were sensitive and he had always possessed exceptionally keen hearing. Now he tuned his attention to the night sounds of the great forest and sat very still. The soft conversation from the search party faded into the background as another voice emerged.
Come…into the woods…deeper…he is not far…
Paladin was entranced by the sweet call and he allowed himself to be drawn in by the enchanting voice that seemed to harmonize with the night music of the forest. He was not afraid. Quite the contrary, he was soothed by the voice and his spirits soared.
Slowly, Paladin rose and followed the sound without further thought. He trailed past the clumps of oak and ash, his heart becoming lighter with each step. An eerie glow formed along the path at his feet, illuminating the ground, and he walked decisively as if knowing the way. Gradually a vision took form in front of his eyes and he stopped. Staring in wonder, Paladin watched a circle of small, strange creatures gathered around a tall female in a garden filled with flowers of every description. She was clad in a filmy white gown and resembled the Elves he had seen pictured in books while visiting his cousin Bilbo at Bag End. Her wheat-coloured hair was long and slightly curly. The lovely tresses were swept back and held in place by an ornate clasp of silver. She rested on a large rock and appeared to be talking. The vision was silent though, and he could hear nothing of the conversation.
His view shifted ever so slightly and then he spied Peregrin. A broad smile of relief settled over Paladin’s exhausted features. His son was safe after all. Indeed, it seemed the lad was enjoying himself immensely. The youngster sat cross-legged, chin in hand, appearing to listen with rapt attention to whatever the Elven lady was saying. His impish face crinkled into a grin and it was clear that he was laughing. Paladin began to chuckle with relief. The lad clapped his hands in apparent delight, causing Paladin to laugh harder. The lovely lady touched his son’s fair curls as she spoke and gestured over his shoulder at the great meadow. He wondered what she was telling Pippin.
Tulip perched in her usual place on Pippin’s left shoulder, and the familiar scene warmed Paladin’s heart. He startled when the knitted piglet seemed to turn her gaze knowingly in his direction for an instant. He blinked his eyes several times and the toy was once more as she had been. Paladin released a shaky breath as the vision gradually faded. However, the illumination of his path remained the same and he picked up his pace with eager certainty; he was about to find his son at last.
“Why, where’d Paladin go?” Tolley Took asked. The talk had slowed and the farmhand was gazing about casually.
All conversation came to a stop. Milo looked up sharply, eyes widening when he saw that his cousin was no longer sitting on the fallen log a few hundred feet away from them. He got to his feet and spun in a circle. “I don’t see him anywhere – hoi, Pad! Where’d you go?”
Everyone rose and started to call as they looked about the immediate area, but there was no sign of him.
“Mr Took?” Tomias started a circuit around the clusters of trees where Paladin had been sitting only moments before. Milo and his brother Chico were right behind him.
Chico Chubb cupped his hands around his mouth and bellowed Paladin’s name several times. They listened, but the only sounds were the hooting of night owls and the chirping of insects. “Where ever has he gone?” he asked of no one in particular.
Milo frowned. “He was starting to despair. That’s why he got off by himself. But I didn’t think he’d be foolish enough to set off alone.” He squinted into the darkness. “I don’t even see the light from his lantern. We’d better get moving and try to locate him. We certainly don’t need two missing hobbits.”
“Perhaps he’s not thinking clearly. You’d feel the same way if it was one of your lads,” Chico told him.
Milo sighed. “Aye, you’re right about that! Come everyone,” he waved impatiently over his shoulder for the others to hurry, “let’s go find him before he gets too far.” He took up the reins of Paladin’s mount along with his own and hurried on his way.
The searchers gathered their things and headed along the same path as before, their uneasiness plain. Their ponies trailed after them as the searchers traveled in near total silence.
“There! It’s right there, Da! I’m certain,” Merry shouted, breathless after his sudden sprint across the pasture.
It was a good thing the moon was full, Saradoc thought, marvelling at the way his son kept his feet as the lad sprinted through the tall grass in the dim light. He rushed along behind him, the rest of their company in tow. It hadn’t taken long for Merry to locate the exact spot and he was already on his knees ripping the weeds away from the opening. Saradoc held up his lantern and inspected the gaping hole, then motioned for the others to move in and use their own to make the area as bright as possible. Cool air drifted out and caused their lights to flicker. “Get a fire built,” he called over his shoulder, “close by.”
Sparrow Tunnelly hurried to take charge of that activity and soon the flames licked upwards from the circle of rocks he and his helpers had piled around the twigs and wood they’d brought with them. He then prepared several of the torches from the bucket of pitch and lit them in the rapidly growing blaze and handed them to his companions.
“Merry, does it look to you as if anything has been disturbed since you were last here?” Saradoc leaned over his son’s shoulder and helped pull away the last of the debris. “There really doesn’t seem to be much over the opening. You said you covered it up well.”
Merry sat back on his heels and wiped at the sweat on his forehead, studying his surroundings. “I’m not sure. It has been months, after all. But…”
“What? What is it Merry?” Eglantine exclaimed, as she moved closer to him.
Merry flicked his eyes up guiltily. His aunt’s voice was shrill and she didn’t sound like herself. “I, uh…I thought we had a great deal more brush covering the hole.”
Eglantine peered into the dark gap and shivered. Pearl was quick to slip an arm around her shoulder. “I hope we’re wrong about this. I can’t bear the thought of my lad being inside that dark, dank place.” She leaned over and called out, “Pippin! Are you there, m’lad?” The only answer was her own voice being echoed back at her. She tried, and failed, to stifle a sob.
“We’ll know soon, Mum,” Pearl did the best she could to calm her mother and urged her away from the hole. “Uncle Saradoc and the others will find him if he’s here.”
Pimpernel turned a nervous glance to her aunt. Esmeralda gave her a quick squeeze of reassurance. “Come,” she gestured for Pervinca to help them. “Let’s get a makeshift camp set up. We can start by unloading the supplies we’ve brought along.” She spurred the lasses into action, knowing it would help take their minds off their immediate concerns.
Eglantine would only retreat a short distance and watched as the opening grew large enough for a grown hobbit to enter, shivering anew as the depth of the dark crack was gradually revealed to them.
Saradoc stuck his head inside and held up his lantern, having a tentative look around. He pulled back and gestured for Sparrow and Malco to join him. “We’re going in. The rest of you are to stay put.”
“But Da, I want to go too,” Merry began and his father quickly hushed him.
“No. Absolutely not! You’ll wait here with everyone else.”
“Merry.” Frodo slipped an arm around his young cousin. “There’s room only for a few.”
Merry relented, but a scowl settled over his face. “I feel useless! I want to help.”
“You’ll only get in the way, Meriadoc,” Gil sneered. Frodo glared at him. That was enough to silence the unrepentant hobbit, temporarily at least.
After many tense minutes had passed Saradoc called out for someone to bring them more light. Before anyone else could respond, Gil grabbed two of the torches and lit them in the campfire, then trotted to the opening and slipped through. They could hear him calling to the others, his voice growing faint very quickly.
“It’s a deep enough hole, by the sounds of it,” Bilbo muttered.
The waiting was excruciating for the ones left behind. Merry felt the minutes ticking by in his head, each passing moment making him tenser. He couldn’t keep from flicking his gaze over to his aunt every little while. She sat stiffly, her hands folded in her lap, staring into the darkness. Merry’s heart ached for her obvious suffering. At last, he heard his father’s voice again.
Gil Chubb was the first one out and he held a small object in one hand. He headed for the group, holding it out, as Saradoc and Sparrow Tunnelly emerged from the cave and followed.
“Does this belong to Peregrin?” Gil smirked at Merry before waving a catapult in the air as if it were a prize he’d won.
Merry’s eyes widened in fright and Frodo’s grip around him tightened. “Let me see that!” He shook out of his cousin’s grasp and darted forward.
Pearl snatched the object from Gil, glowering at him fiercely as she did so. Eglantine looked like she was about to faint and Esmeralda moved in protectively. They held their breath while Pearl inspected the toy. She held it near the firelight and her face broke into a grin.
“What? What is it Pearl?” Eglantine was at her daughter’s side at once.
Pearl pointed to the carved letters on the wood. “Paladin Took,” she read aloud and burst out laughing. Her mother’s face eased into a little smile in spite of the circumstances.
Eglantine took the catapult from her daughter and examined it. Her shoulders relaxed. “Oh my,” she breathed. “Pad lost this many years ago, when he was just a small lad. I remember him talking about carving his name into the handle so no one else could try to claim it.” She looked up at Saradoc, her bow raised in question.
“There’s no sign of anyone, other than animals, that is, having been inside that cave recently, Tina.” He touched her shoulder reassuringly.
“Oh, mercy. I need to sit down for a moment.” Pearl draped an arm around her mother’s shoulder and led her towards a fallen log where she eased her mother down and squatted next to her.
“Where do we look now?” Merry wanted to know.
“I’m not certain, but one thing I do know,” Saradoc said, brushing dirt from his hands. “That hole needs to be sealed up properly before young Peregrin does decide to go exploring it.”
“Yes indeed,” Esmeralda nodded. “Or any other young children, for that matter.” She touched Eglantine’s shoulder gently. “Come Tina, let’s go back now. I’ll put on some tea for everyone. Perhaps there’s some word from Pad and the others by now.”
Eglantine gave a weary sigh and allowed Pearl to assist her back to the waggons. The tension of the last day and a half was beginning to tell on her and she said no more to anyone all the way home. She didn’t weep; neither did she allow herself to think, for her mind had gone numb.
Paladin stepped up his pace when the strange music met his ears for a second time. The voice mingled with the lovely song, urging him on. As he walked, the moon climbed higher, its pale glow creating an otherworldly vista along the forest path. Paladin felt as though he were stepping on soft clouds of air as his vision clouded over. He walked on as if drawn forward, feeling as if he was not quite himself, he was part of another, but who that person was, he knew not. For a brief moment he could see nothing at all and he stopped, unnerved. Then ever so slowly another vision formed and he eyed it in wonder. A peculiar orchestra had joined the little group and the music was a balm to his weary being. He could hear other voices now, including his son’s, and he listened, spellbound by the scene before him.
He was certain hours had passed since the last vision faded; still, he had continued along the same path. Paladin sank to the ground, leaning back against an ancient oak and closing his eyes. How far had he walked? He wasn’t entirely sure, nor did he have a clue how much time had passed. He had simply walked as if in a dream, following the soothing voice that beckoned him. The moonlight had disappeared entirely over the last few minutes, and the shadows reminded him of the one that now descended on his heart. He raised his wet eyes to the sky, watching the clouds that had gathered in front of the moon. What cruel game was the forest playing on him? He had seen Peregrin very clearly at times; at other moments the youngster appeared shrouded within the hazy visions. And now he had not glimpsed him in possibly an hour’s time, while he continued to roam the woods, once more unsure of his direction.
“Where is my son?” Paladin felt like wailing at the top of his lungs, but the question was more of a whimper. At the moment he felt no older than Pippin, and perhaps just as vulnerable as his lad must feel. A frightening sense of helplessness stalked him and he wanted to slam his fists against something as hard as he could. Instead, he leaned back again and tried to get the upper hand over his fear. Once more, he gathered his thoughts and concentrated in the way that usually brought him peace and a sense of guidance. He was so tired. Perhaps he could close his eyes just for a moment…
Cenedril o’galad: Mirror of glittering reflection
Sidhe: Otherworld, Faerieland
Daoine Sidhe: Keepers of the Otherworld
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“Walking Between Worlds”
…But theirs is the dower of bird and flower
And theirs is the earth and sky…
…Since ever and ever the world began
They danced like a ribbon of flame,
They have sung their song through the centuries long
And yet it is never the same.
And though you be foolish or though you be wise,
With hair of silver or gold,
You can never be as young as the faeries are,
And never as old.
From “The Faeries”
A hush fell over the woodland and the silence embraced the slumbering hobbit like a warm coverlet. Even the forest creatures stilled in awe of the spirit of the ancient oak, and they listened with rapt anticipation.
Paladin moaned and shifted in his sleep. In his dream, an extraordinary world sprang into focus, brilliant with sharp detail and powerful emotion.
Hark! Look there.
Paladin obeyed and beheld a river, deep and long, clear as crystal, its steady flow uttering a song of peace and wonder. As he watched, someone emerged from behind the shelter of the willows nearby. Why, ‘tis just a lass! He took a deep breath and released it slowly, studying her features with interest. She is lovely. A hobbit? She was small of stature with a cascade of long red-gold hair, and he could see the tips of her delicately pointed ears, yet…something was unusual about her demeanor. A sense of tranquility sought contact with him from afar; it caressed his cheek ever so gently, with fingers as light as air, and he knew.
“Oh. . .my. . .” Paladin stared at the otherworldly vision, eyes wide.
Another joined her, his hands extended to her in familiar greeting, and they embraced. Paladin could hear their murmured words of endearment although some were strange to him. He felt like an intruder upon their sanctuary and the thought seemed to elicit laughter from somewhere above. He twisted around and stared up into the high emerald canopy.
Fear not. You are no trespasser. Their time is long past. What you are witnessing occurred many years ago.
“What…?” Paladin whispered. “I don’t understand.”
Did this voice come from his surroundings or from within his own mind? There was no answer and slowly, he turned his attention back to the mysterious tryst in the glade. Of course he’d heard the whispered tales, told late at night when children were supposed to be abed. He’d sometimes crept up to the parlour door to listen to his granda telling stories of times gone by, speaking of things that Paladin assumed were never heard in the daylight. At times, such stories were met with smiles and condescending looks that even he, as a youngster, had recognised as such.
I reveal to you your beginning. . .and, your future. I will help you to understand.
“What are you talking about? Just what is it you’re trying to teach me?”
You know already of what I speak. You have heard the tale whispered amongst your elders your entire life, ever since you were a tiny lad just like your son. Open your heart, your mind, and your understanding will grow.
“The faerie blood. . .’tis not a fable, is it?”
Nay, it is not a fable, Paladin Took! And long have you known this in your heart.
Paladin considered. “Who are you? And, where are you?” He turned in a small circle as he spoke. “Your words seem to come to me in my mind, and yet I think there is someone here with me.” He sensed amusement again.
I am here.
Paladin frowned. “Aye. That much is obvious, even to me. I asked in what way are you here with me? And why? I’ve no time for your riddles. I need to find my son.”
You are very impatient.
“Of course I am! My son has been missing for many hours and I’ve no time for games such as this.”
You have nothing but time. It is how you use it that is important.
Paladin sighed. This reminded him of one of those long conversations with Pippin that got so complicated as to leave him grasping for answers to his son’s questions. Summoning every scrap of his patience he peered up into the oak. “What would you advise I do, then? At this point I am quite open to suggestions.” Cheerful laughter drifted to him again and Paladin bristled.
That is good. The knowledge I offer you is important and may prove very useful to you later on. You will understand why as more time passes. For now, ask your questions and satisfy your curiosity.
Paladin blew out a breath and tried hard to contain his annoyance at the cryptic replies. His attention refocused on the pair by the river. “Who is the hobbit I see before me? What is the name of my ancestor who took a faerie to wife? And. . .what is the lass’s name, the lovely being I see before me?”
She is Eolande. It is her blood that mixes within your lineage, and her charisma that has shown its mark in the eccentricities of your kin. In some her blood runs almost pure. In you, it is strong, and in your son, the evidence of her influence is even greater.
Paladin’s mouth twitched in amusement. Peregrin did indeed display the fabled mark of his family’s inheritance. Intensely curious, compelled to do things his own way, bright and daring, the lad marched to a different drummer, as the old saying went.
Eyes of sea green, spirit of fire…
“Aye, and an obstinate streak as wide as the Brandywine,” Paladin agreed with a chuckle. “That’s true enough. Who is the lad that wed Eolande? What is the name of my ancestor? For that’s one thing I’ve never heard spoken of in the old tales.”
I cannot tell you the answer. Not yet.
Because it is not for you to know at this time.
“I don’t see why not.” Paladin couldn’t seem to keep his annoyance out of his voice.
In time, Paladin Took. All in good time.
“Very well, then kindly assist me in finding my son.”
Do not fret. I have been, and will continue to show you the way. As I have told you, all in good time. Come, there is much to learn on your journey.
The image of the young lovers melted into another and Paladin beheld the Elven storyteller once more. His shoulders relaxed. There sat Pippin in the center of the group, still training his attention intently on the elf. He listened to the soft words, already knowing the story in part, and watching his son with great pleasure. Surely now he would find his way to the place where the strange creatures sat with rapt attention and eager smiles of anticipation. Yes, there was Pippin, just ahead, not far at all. Paladin reached out, ready to scoop him into his waiting arms. . .but his child melted away just as he was about to touch him.
“Who are you?” Paladin demanded when he realised that his arms held nothing.
A mumble and then a cry escaped Paladin’s lips as he bolted upright. The darkness surrounding him was now complete and for the first time he felt a moment of fear. Even the moon had abandoned him. “Where am I?”
Slowly, he stood and turned in a circle, squinting into the distance, straining his eyes to see something, anything, to reassure him. Had he gone blind? How much worse could things get? Paladin swung around, startled by a chorus of good-humoured tittering. Puzzled, he finally tilted his head to gaze up into the huge old tree. Still he could see nothing, but once again the sound of quiet laughter came to him. He frowned, and felt his temper rising.
“Where is my son?” No answer came. “This is no longer a game I am willing to play!” Finally he cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted “WHERE IS PEREGRIN?” He was glad for his anger; it sustained him, increased his resolve, and calmed his despair. Paladin listened intently and heard nothing except the occasional call of a night owl, and the croaking of frogs. Gradually, the clouds parted and the moonlight became visible once more. He set his jaw and started off in a new direction.
“We’ve found no sign of your son at all, Missus Took,” Shirriff Smallburrow said, shaking his head in regret. “We picked up more volunteers to help as we went through Whitwell. Those folks are still out looking. As for us,” he glanced at his party of weary helpers, “we even went far past the village. I just don’t see how a lad of his age could have got that far on foot anyway.”
“No, you’re probably right,” Eglantine mumbled, her heart twisting with a grief that caused her physical pain. “I just don’t know what to think. Do you suppose…well, it’s been on my mind…what if some stranger has been lurking about and snatched him up?” Her voice broke on the last word and Pearl draped an arm around her shoulders.
“Surely not,” Esmeralda murmured. “There’s been no sign of foul play, has there?”
“No, ma’am, not to my knowledge there hasn’t,” Robin Smallburrow said.
“What about the Great Smials?” Saradoc paced the kitchen. “Tina, why don’t we send someone to at least check there? I know it’s highly unlikely, again, for a lad on foot, but--”
“But with Pippin, anything is possible,” Pimpernel chimed in. “I think it’s at least worth a try, Mum.” Eglantine nodded.
“We’ll leave at first light then,” the Shirriff agreed. “We need a few hours to rest.”
“Pearl, Nell, will you kindly show Shirriff Smallburrow and his party to where they may bed down?” Eglantine gestured vaguely. “There’s plenty of space in the front room to lay out pallets, I think. And perhaps some accommodations will need to be arranged in the hay barn.”
“Of course.” Pearl beckoned them to follow her.
“And it wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to get some sleep too, Tina.” Esmeralda squeezed her shoulder. “Why don’t I come with you?” Eglantine smiled wanly and allowed her sister-in-law to lead her away.
“Poor Tina, she’s exhausted,” Saradoc said. “As are we all. Let’s take the opportunity to get a few hours sleep ourselves so we’ll be prepared to start out again as soon as the sun is up.”
“You’ll get no argument from me,” Bilbo yawned. “I’m as worn out as an old hobbit can be. Coming, Frodo?”
“You go ahead, Uncle Bilbo,” Frodo said. “I want to speak with Saradoc first and then I’ll be along.” The weary hobbit nodded and left the room without protest.
Saradoc leaned against the sideboard, his arms folded, waiting for his younger cousin to speak.
“I don’t think he went to Great Smials. It makes more sense that he went into the woods,” Frodo said.
“Perhaps. What makes you so certain about that?”
“Because Pippin doesn’t like Mistress Lalia.” He kept his voice low. “Actually, I think he is even a little afraid of her, as are some of the other children. So I can’t for a moment imagine him venturing to Great Smials all by himself, or even think of a reason why he’d want to. It’s far more likely he kept on walking and simply ended up lost. If he was playing near the end of the north pasture then the most likely place he’d wander is the forest. You know how Pippin loves the woods. I think we should join Paladin’s searchers rather than go in any other direction.”
“Well…” Saradoc rubbed his chin as he considered the plan. “I suppose at this point it’s as good a plan as any. Besides, you’ve made a good point. Pippin does love the woodland and he likes to climb trees. Could be that something distracted him and he got drawn in before he knew it. And with that lad, he may have got a great distance away before he even stopped to think he might be lost.”
“Exactly.” Frodo sighed. “And that leads me to another thought. Being as daring as he is, what if Pippin went tree climbing and managed to clamber up one of them far too high? He might not be able to get down on his own.”
“That’s an excellent point. And one that I must admit had never crossed my mind.” Saradoc nodded slowly as he considered Frodo’s suggestion. “I think then, at first light, we should track Paladin and his party through the woods while the others follow the road to Great Smials. Just in case we’re wrong, and Pippin in his peculiar way of reasoning, did think of a reason to go there after all.”
Frodo tilted his head in agreement. “Poor Eglantine. I can only imagine what she is going through. But, I have the feeling that Pippin will be found very soon, and that he’s not come to any harm.”
Frodo nodded, but did not elaborate further.
Pippin’s eyes brightened as Alfie began her tale. Tulip perched on his shoulder, and Pippin knew she was as eager as he was to hear the story. He giggled when Tulip nuzzled the tip of his ear and whispered to him. “I know, m’lass, but we have to be patient. I’m certain that Alfie will get to that part soon.”
Alfie paused, a twinkle in her deep blue eyes. “What is Tulip’s question?”
“Well,” Pippin shrugged, “she wants to know if the story will explain why we can’t eat anything here? I mean, except that we couldn’t go home if we did. Why can’t we?” He patted his rumbling tummy. “I’m getting ever so hungry, Alfie.”
“Yes, I realise that, but you must remember what I said at all times. You will return home soon, and then I believe your family will have a feast waiting for you and your companion.”
Pippin’s gaze held Alfie’s with the trust that only one so young and innocent displayed. Tulip seemed to reflect the same conviction with her make-believe eyes of green and long, flowing lashes. “All right.” Pippin grinned, and with a sheepish half-shrug of his shoulder implored,” Then tell us more!”
Ealdhun laughed at the hobbit’s expression with great delight. His high-pitched voice caused Pippin to chuckle again. “You see? Alfie knows just what to say to help you feel better.” The earth faerie tilted his head at his friend, his long ears flopping about as he shook with laughter. “He is very impatient, this young one. He wishes to know all the answers to all of his questions, and quickly.”
“He does indeed,” Alfie said.
Rhoswen put both hands to her mouth as she giggled. “Yes, do tell us more!”
A chorus of mirth and hearty agreement erupted from the otherworldly musicians, and Pippin chimed in with them to plead for the story. Once more, the air filled with the soft, enchanting melody of the faerie ensemble. Alfie looked long and deeply into Pippin’s eyes, and then began to sing.
Paladin felt his way through the forest using intuition as his guide. There had been no additional advice from the strange voice for some time. Finally, he halted, surveying the area with a critical eye; the trail now forked in opposite directions. Paladin bowed his head in contemplation. “If you care, then help me find my son.” The soft voice entered his mind once more and Paladin breathed a sigh of gratitude that quickly changed to frustration at the cryptic response.
You have already found him. You will reach him in due time. Keep walking; you have much to learn along the way.
“Fine for you to speak in such mysterious language,” Paladin muttered. “It’s high time I found him. He’s been out here far too long and I need to get him home to his mother. She’s nearly beside herself with worry.” The woodlands shimmered yet again and the whispering voice instructed him.
Follow this path.
Paladin was guided towards a little thicket where three trees formed a rough circle, and stopped, studying them intently. He recalled another story told by his granda. The legend of the trees. . .yes, the doorway into. . .
“Oak, ash, and thorn,” Paladin recited under his breath.
“Aye, ‘tis the way in. . .to the Otherworld, their world. This is where Peregrin is?”
With the Daoine Sidhe, yes.
“The keepers of the elements, the invisible race. Only a legend. A tale told by my granda.”
It is more than legend. It is truth. Your son is safe. He has not partaken of the fruits of that land, although he came close to doing so. For a young faerie tempted him, but he was rescued before he consumed anything.
“What?” Paladin’s eyes grew wide with alarm. “According to my grandfather, one must never consume anything of their land!”
He is safe. The Counsellor has seen to that and she will continue to protect him until you are reunited.
In good time. For now, continue your journey.
Paladin stepped up to the oak, instinctively placing both hands upon its trunk, feeling the rough bark against his fingers, taking in the pungent scent of its leaves and the earth it took root in. Closing his eyes, he concentrated, and then opened them upon a world where everything appeared sharply in focus and vividly alive. The trees were the same as in his world, and yet somehow different. How could this be so? He heard the calm flow of water and turned to see the river from his earlier vision. A gentle song seemed to rise from its depths.
The River Cenedril o’galad, the mirror of glittering reflection. Where the story begins.
“Yes,” Paladin answered in a voice barely above a whisper.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“A Seeker’s Journey”
In dreams I’ve seen a Golden Wood
That holds the riddles of the World
And I’ve trod upon a Hidden Path
To which shadowed strangers often have
Lead me to its Gate.
Strange Sights I saw while all alone
Like candle light encased in stone
And heard I laughs and music low
Which lead me to where I did not know
For I had wandered off the Path.
Then an unknown voice did Call to me
From the bowers of the shaded Trees
A stranger’s voice, yet one I knew
And I ran through the grass and sleepy dew
Just to find that Voice.
Amalthea of the Children of Twilight
“As I told you, Peregrin, our people are the keepers of the natural world. We are charged with keeping watch over the elements that make up all of Middle-earth, and which are joined together in a common bond. We are the si’og, the descendants of the Tuatha de Danann, and an ancient people. I shall tell you something of our history, and of the union of two people who lived here together a very long time ago. One from our world…and one from yours.”
Pippin’s eyes widened at Alfie’s words. “Who…?” he began, but she hushed him with a gentle finger against his lips.
“They met for the first time on the banks of the River Cenedril o’galad.” She pointed to the grove of oak and ash behind the immense garden. “The duin is a mirror, and a portal, to other places and times. Indeed, we refer to it as ‘Celeb henneth n’ atpaluin’, or ‘silver window on another world’ in your tongue. It is said that those who possess the Dha Shealladh, the Sight, are drawn to it because they enjoy the ability to see the reflections of truth in the face of its waters. And any who drink from it shall become one with the duin, and can glimpse the face of eternity within its crystal flow.”
Pippin felt the gooseflesh sprouting on his arms as he listened, and he wondered what might happen if he were to taste of the water? Tulip whispered that she certainly wasn’t about to let him find out, and then tucked herself into a tight ball inside his collar, leaving only her pink snout peeking out. Pippin patted her head to comfort the flustered piglet. Tulip was taken aback by what she’d heard. The story didn’t frighten him, but it sounded quite mysterious and he wondered again in what special way he was like the people who lived here? His friend had said it was so, and he had no reason to disbelieve her.
“Alfie? Who…who was the person from my world?” Pippin tilted his head to one side. Tulip poked her head all of the way out of her hiding place and cocked an ear towards Alfie, while Pippin absent-mindedly scratched her ears.
“He was a hobbit much like you, Peregrin. Indeed, he was a member of your own family, a forbearer.”
Pippin drew a quick breath that matched Tulip’s gasp. “A…a Took?”
“Yes, and it his story, in part, that I shall tell you now.”
Pippin fidgeted, excited to hear more, while Rhoswen settled in next to him with a smile. Tulip scampered all the way out from beneath Pippin’s shirt collar and he perched her on one of his knees so she could hear everything. Tulip graciously thanked him and then peered up at Alfie with renewed interest. To Pippin’s right, Ealdhun cackled in his high-pitched voice and drew his thin legs up to his chin. The soothing music lulled Pippin and before long a dreamy smile settled over his face. The little group waited expectantly.
“The one from our land was called Eolande, which means ‘violet flower’, and indeed she was as slight and delicate as one, with lovely golden-red tresses that flowed to below her waist.”
“Her hair was the same colour as mine,” Rhoswen piped up helpfully, dangling a strand of her own locks before his eyes.
“Have you heard this tale before?” Pippin quirked an eyebrow at his friend and the child nodded.
“It was Mi na Bealtaine, or, the first day of Thrimidge, in the tongue of your people, when the young hobbit wandered into the forest,” Alfie continued, with a knowing smile and a nod to her audience. “Much in the same way as you came to be here, Peregrin.”
Rhoswen giggled. “I brought you here,” she explained at Pippin’s quizzical look. She pressed her dainty hands to her mouth and giggled again, “and you did not realise I was watching you.”
“What?” Pippin began.
“I have been following you for some time, Peregrin. I…” Rhoswen hesitated and cast a furtive look at Alfie.
Alfie nodded. “Go ahead, child. I am aware of everything you have been up to. It is all right, tell him.”
Rhoswen sighed in relief. “I visited you in your home. I wanted you to come here to see mine, that is all,” her voice trailed off and Rhoswen blushed.
“Oh…well, how come you didn’t just ask me?”
“I do not know. Perhaps I thought you would not come.”
Pippin recalled his recent picnic with Tulip in the meadow, when he’d been certain he had seen a lass. He’d wanted to pursue her then, but Tulip had stopped him. Guiltily, he remembered the promise he’d made to his mother that day. “I would’ve liked to,” he murmured, with a sideways glance at Tulip. The knitted piglet frowned her disapproval, tapping her hoof impatiently on his knee, and Pippin couldn’t resist rolling his eyes.
“I gave you a gift while you were sleeping. Just as I did here.”
Pippin’s eyes widened in sudden understanding, “The primrose, you gave me the golden primrose!”
Rhoswen nodded with a smile. “To help you come visit me.”
“Why ever would I need a primrose before I could visit you? Oh! And how come--”
“Children,” Alfie interrupted, “we are straying from our tale once more. Hush now, and simply listen, yes?”
Rhoswen and Pippin bobbed their heads in unison.
“Our people have dwelt here for years untold,” Alfie continued. “When Eolande met the hobbit lad we came to understand this was destined to be. And knew from that union another very special lad would one day be born to a great purpose, and there would be an important reason why he would visit us one day while still very young.”
“Are…are you talking about me?” Pippin’s brow furrowed in confusion. “But, how can you know what’s going to happen? What purpose? How do you…?”
Alfie touched her finger to his lips once more. “Peregrin, allow me to tell you what I will. For the moment, do not ask so many questions. Can you do that?”
“Aye,” Pippin nodded, his face lighting up with a shy grin.
“The duin draws those to its banks that have a special need for its gift. The lad of long ago felt that power and met his fate, Eolande, there by the water.” Alfie leaned close and spoke directly to Pippin in her soft voice. “He drank of the duin’s waters, and his eyes were opened unto a world none of his kin had ever before experienced.”
Pippin felt a chill course through him. “Did…did…drinking the water hurt him? Is that why I can’t drink it?”
Alfie chuckled, a sound as light as the feather touch of a mother’s kiss for a sleeping child. “No, the water did not harm him. However, it did change him.” She placed a hand upon his shoulder and looked deep into his eyes. “In a way that is not appropriate for you and your own destiny, Peregrin. Do you understand?”
Pippin thought hard. “Because I’m not supposed to stay here. Am I?”
“No, child. Your future lies elsewhere. You have an important, nay, a crucial task ahead of you one day, and you must be allowed the opportunity to complete it.”
“What task, Alfie? Won’t you tell me?”
Alfie shook her head. “I cannot. But you will find your way, young Peregrin Took, and there will always be someone there to aid you in your hour of need. Never forget that, and never lose your faith. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“That is good.” Alfie gazed across the meadow, deep in thought for a moment, before continuing. “They wed, and Eolande gave birth to a son, a child of mixed heritage. Here they dwelled in peace and harmony for many years to come, living amongst Eolande’s people. The union produced more than one child and for many years they prospered and were content.”
“But alas, the hobbit was mortal and he knew when his time approached to pass across the duin. He wished to see his kin one last time, and so they left this place, taking their children into his world and returning to his family. They dwelt there during his last days and it was decided that his eldest son should remain there after his death. When that time came, Eolande was heartbroken. She had lost her husband, and felt that she would now be losing her son. However, she honoured his wishes and allowed the lad to stay with her husband’s relatives. He had of course, come of age by that time, and expressed his own desire to heed his father’s request. Eolande bade him farewell and took the rest of her children back into the woodland, and home. As far as her husband’s relatives could discern, she and the children had simply disappeared one day.
Alas, the hobbit’s family did not realise she was a faerie, and were very worried. The lad who was left behind was bid not to reveal his mother’s true identity. Thus, it is said that none from her husband’s world ever knew what happened to her and the other children, nor from whence they came, although the family never stopped searching. But they treasured the lad who remained with them. For he was all they had left of their loved one who had gone missing for all those years, and then come home at last, only to die soon thereafter.”
“Eolande’s gift to her lineage was the gift of glas, or green, eyes. She also decreed that in some descendants her blood would run almost pure, and they would possess the gift of Dha Shealladh, the Second Sight.” Alfie paused and looked at Pippin with a meaningful smile. The hobbit child startled. He swallowed hard, trying to find his voice.
“You mean…that I’m…uh, a faerie?”
Alfie chuckled at the shocked expression and shook her head. “Not precisely.” She tilted his chin upward ever so tenderly and studied his face. “Your ancestor’s gift is evident in the colour of your eyes, as well as in your inquisitive and unconventional nature. You are one in whom Eolande’s blood runs almost pure.”
“But, but what does that mean?” Pippin scratched his head while Tulip quivered in wonder.
“It means that you are indeed a very exceptional young hobbit, Peregrin,” Alfie said.
“Yes indeed, you certainly are,” Alfie assured him, while his companions laughed, enjoying his wonder.
“I’m still not certain exactly what you’re talking about.” Pippin cast a sideways look at Tulip and she shrugged her plump shoulders and told him she was sorry, but she didn’t have the answer to his question either.
Paladin moved closer to the river and the young lovers. It was now apparent to him they were indeed but shadows of the past, airy and light, yet their features were distinct. He studied the cheerful face intently, hoping to figure out whom he might resemble the most out of all his relatives. He sensed the Oak Spirit’s amusement at his actions and bristled, “How can you expect that I would have no curiosity about this lad?”
I expected no less.
“Hmph.” Paladin turned back to the vision. The couple paid him no mind and continued to converse in their soft voices. He circled the young hobbit slowly, one hand rubbing his chin in thought. “I can detect features that many generations of Tooks have in common.” He peered into his ancestor’s eyes and saw they were light grey. He looked into Eolande’s and was taken aback by the brilliance of her sea green eyes. He breathed, “Why, ‘tis just as the legend says. Her eyes are the same shade as Peregrin’s.”
And identical to your own.
“Aye. The same as mine.” Paladin laughed quietly and retreated a step, continuing his scrutiny. The couple knelt beside the river and Paladin’s interest heightened, even more mystified by their actions as Eolande dipped the fingers of both her hands into the waters and then touched them gently to the lad’s closed eyes. She held this pose for several moments, whispering some words Paladin was unable to understand. The lad opened his eyes and drew back, taking both of Eolande’s hands in his own. Again, Paladin could not discern the exact words that were spoken, but the intent was clear enough to him, and he found himself smiling slightly.
“I’m certain I recognise a proposal of marriage when I see one.” His smile widened as the young couple embraced again and shared a tender kiss. They shocked him then by reaching into the water together, and cupping their hands to their mouths, drinking of the sparkling liquid. Paladin’s eyes widened in alarm and he whirled, raising his voice to his invisible companion. “She is inviting him to consume the water! Why?”
It was his destiny to do so, and his choice.
Paladin was silent for several moments, thinking furiously. “For what purpose are you showing me these things?” he finally asked.
It is your time to know.
“Can you not give me a single answer that isn’t couched in a riddle?”
It is no riddle. It is simply truth. The time for you to know has come. You are here, now, for that purpose.
Paladin snorted under his breath and muttered, “That’s what I thought you were going to say. And to me, ‘tis still a riddle. What of my son? Is it time for him to know these things also? Is that why he was lured away from his home and into the woodlands? Does someone conspire at this very moment to keep him here forever? He was alone and unprotected--”
Nay, he is neither alone, nor unprotected, and has not been during a single step of his journey. There is merely a time for every purpose. What he learns through this experience will serve him well later on. It will serve you too, Paladin Took. For that reason you must heed the lesson well.
“What lesson?” Paladin cried, his temper rising again. “A lesson in patience, perhaps? Or one in frustration? I want nothing more than to locate my son and return him to our home. Can’t you understand that?”
I understand. And so must you. Your son’s eccentricities will serve him well. They may even one day save his life. Your impatience does not serve you; instead, it hinders you from the truth. Stay your temper and mind my counsel. You are in many ways the same as your offspring; and you are in other respects, the opposite of one another.
“Yes? And just what is it you’re hinting at? That I’ve a hot temper? That I’m too impatient?” Paladin began to pace back and forth, his voice rising, “Or do you simply not recognise that I’m a father, distraught over his missing son and in a hurry to find him? And that I’m weary of being led along the primrose path with naught but a handful of riddles leading my way? You are taking advantage of my curiosity and delaying my--”
Paladin felt the ground shudder beneath his feet and almost lost his footing. He was troubled by the Spirit’s admonishment. Perhaps he had overstepped his bounds? After all, he really wasn’t sure exactly what sort of creature he was speaking with. Glancing about somewhat warily, he gasped as another vision unfolded abruptly before his startled eyes, one more vivid and powerful than any he had witnessed thus far. “What in Middle-earth is happening?” he whispered, eyes widened in wonder as he stared into the heart of the fast moving images.
A huge clash between the peoples took place before him and Paladin witnessed the overthrow of an ancient society. He watched, frozen in place, as the scenes passed before his eyes quickly, one after another, and yet he was able to comprehend all of what was happening. “Granda’s tale of the Great Battle,” he breathed in helpless awe. At last, the two sides came together in counsel following the war, apparently reaching an agreement after much debate. Paladin found himself nodding in understanding. Yes, according to his grandfather’s story, the victors had taken control of the land while the defeated had gone underground to live. As if in answer to his thoughts, Paladin watched as an entire civilization retreated beneath the earthen hills he knew were called si’th, a word he had heard repeated many times during those late night tales. “Oh my, the Daoine Si’dh…”
Paladin gasped as a sense of warmth enveloped him in its ghostly arms, and the voice of the Oak spoke once more. The reproachful tone had disappeared.
The survivors. They are what remains of the Tuatha De’ Danann. They are the people of the land. Abiding by the historic agreement, they retreated underground and now embrace and care for all of nature within and without the Otherworld.
“The people of peace,” Paladin whispered respectfully. “Farmers, lovers of the land…like me and my kin.”
Yes, the Tuatha. Common people, Farmers, crafters and artists. Your forebears, Eolande’s people.
Paladin thought furiously for several minutes, one hand pressed to his temple, attempting to recall more of what he’d overheard. His granda had spoken of the legend extensively during those late night chats with family. And Paladin had listened intently from his hiding place behind the parlour door, fascinated by everything he’d heard, and wishing desperately that he could ask questions. Ah, yes. He remembered now. The tale of the beautiful fey who sometimes took a mortal lover…Paladin’s expression darkened along with his temper. “Then Eolande was a liannan shi’th? A beloved one of the faerie mounds? She used my ancestor?” Paladin felt the anger and disbelief rising within him.
Nay, she did not use him; she fell hopelessly in love with him. Eolande was enthralled by his charm, his appearance, and his lilting voice. Theirs was a relationship of mutual consent; she did not take him against his will.
Paladin released a mighty sigh of relief. “Oh, well…good, then. Is there more?”
The air shimmered in a gossamer wave of light and the odd group of beings appeared again, the beautiful storyteller still in their midst. And there was his son, relaxing amongst the circle of listeners, leaning up against a big stone with Tulip perched on his knees and a big smile on his face. Paladin studied the diminutive child who sat next to Pippin. This was the first clear glimpse of her he’d been given, and he noted the lass’s red-gold curls and exceptionally fair skin with interest. The gathering raised their voices in laughter once more before settling back to listen further. Paladin could hear the words this time, and his ears perked up at the sound of Pippin’s voice asking a question.
“Alfie? Who…who was the person from my world?”
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“Silver Window, Flowing Fate”
Those wast that all to me, love,
For which my soul did pine –
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine
All wreathes with faerie fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.
…And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy gray eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams,
In what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.
“To One in Paradise”, st.1 & st. 4
Edgar Allan Poe
Paladin sighed in relief upon seeing his son again, although he was somewhat troubled by the question Pippin had asked. He watched his son’s eyes light up and heard him gasp when the storyteller said the person had been a hobbit, and a Took. Pippin was excited and no doubt wanted to hear more. Paladin spoke without allowing his eyes to stray from the vision lest it fade away, taking his child with it.
“Why does he need to know this tale? How much has he already been told? He’s far too young to hear such things, and no one has even asked my leave to tell him all of this.”
He has need of this knowledge. He will hear no more, nor any less, than what he requires.
“But he’s too immature to understand! Such tales may frighten him, and cause him to ask questions for which I have no answers.”
Fear not, for he will hold the knowledge within his heart and it will not trouble him, yet it will be there when he needs to draw upon it.
“It would seem you have all the answers sorted out, as usual,” Paladin muttered in irritation as he again sensed growing amusement, although he held his tongue this time. After all, it was most likely for the best to have this entity amused with him, rather than angry.
As it would seem you learn no lesson without a struggle. So be it.
“Will you allow me to reunite with my son now?” Paladin was aware of the pleading tone in his voice; annoyed, he ignored it with no small measure of effort.
Yes, you shall meet presently along the path you now follow.
Paladin rushed ahead, only to find himself drawn back immediately. He balked at the admonishment he knew was coming. “Let me go to him!” he cried.
You shall walk this path with me and hear the remainder of the story, until it is time to reach your son. And you shall make the acquaintance with patience as you proceed. Mark my words, Paladin Took. Your determination will serve you well one day, just as it has throughout this ordeal. But you must learn to harness it as you would one of your beasts of burden, and direct it according to your will, rather than allow yourself to be drawn astray by the same force. For now, be still and listen closely to all that you see and hear.
Paladin fell silent, taking the words to heart at last. He suddenly felt very small and vulnerable, as if he, too, were a lad of Pippin’s age. Was it simply the Spirit’s manner of speaking to him as a parent would a child? Perhaps that was part of it. However, Paladin could feel the ancient wisdom in the Oak Spirit’s words; in an odd way, they carried weight that felt as solid as anything in his surroundings. The words commanded obedience, even if he didn’t entirely understand why it was so.
He turned his attention back to the storyteller. A thought occurred to him as he listened to Alfie speak of Eolande and the hobbit lad. He addressed the Spirit again. “You have called this being ‘Elf Counsellor’. Is she an Elf, then? Or is she of the Daoine Sidhe?”
She is Elven-kind, as well as kin to the people of the Otherworld.
Alfie continued speaking in her soft, musical voice and Paladin listened closely. He smiled at the mention of the yellow primrose Pippin had been given and recalled the day recently when the excited lad had brought it to him. He wished he had paid more mind to what Pippin was talking about that day. He laughed aloud when Pippin glanced at his toy with an obviously guilt-ridden face, no doubt recalling he wasn’t allowed to stray any further than the bottom of the meadow, and how Tulip had stopped him. Pippin apparently had found a very strong voice of conscience in the knitted piglet, and that could only be a good thing. He sobered recalling that for whatever reasons nothing had stopped Pippin from his adventure yesterday. They would need to have a discussion about that once he had him home safe and sound.
The Elf began to speak of the destiny of the Took ancestor and Paladin fixed his attention on his son as he was told there was another young hobbit born to a special purpose. Pippin asked if she was talking about him, and how did she know what was going to happen in the future? “What exactly is she referring to?” Paladin tilted his head as if to hear her better. “What does she mean in saying that my child has a crucial task to complete one day?”
Listen with your heart as well as your ears. You too, will understand when the time is right.
Paladin sighed and resisted the temptation to roll his eyes as Pippin so often did whenever the lad was given an ambiguous answer. Another thought occurred to him. “She says my ancestor’s son was bade not to reveal what he knew of his mother and her people. Yet, it’s apparent that something about what happened must have been discovered along the way. Why else would this tale have been handed down amongst generations of Tooks? And be spoken of only in whispers late at night,” he said, recalling the condescending looks his granda had often received while speaking of the Great Battle. “And few believed him,” Paladin added, his voice soft.
Yes, few of your relatives took the legend seriously. Yet, there were those, including yourself, who knew in their hearts that it was so. That it was not a question of belief; rather, it was a search for enlightenment. Those of your kin who possess the Dha Shealladh feel this strongly.
Paladin found himself nodding in agreement. He had heard his granda use that term when referring to the Sight. That odd way of knowing things, of seeing what others did not. Yes, there had always been something. . .a feeling of empathy, or a queer certainty that his grandfather was sincere in his beliefs. Paladin had sought answers, but instead had uncovered only more questions. The one time he had summoned the nerve to ask his father about the stories, he’d been scolded soundly for his covert behaviour and warned not to eavesdrop on his elders. Paladin had never approached anyone with his questions again. Somehow he couldn’t imagine Pippin giving up as easily as he had.
Alfie rose and offered her hands to both children, drawing his attention back to her and he became anxious again. “What is happening now?”
They will go to the duin and there they will say their farewells. But first, she has a gift to bestow upon your son.
“What sort of ‘gift’ are you talking about?” Paladin’s brow climbed into his hairline and he eyed the Elf with suspicion.
A significant gift. One he should be encouraged to treasure.
“Come children, it is time.” Alfie led Pippin and Rhoswen into the woodland, following the path towards the river Cenedril o’galad. There she stopped and invited both to kneel alongside her.
Paladin grew frantic. “She is not—she cannot allow him to--”
Fear not, he will not be allowed to drink of the waters.
Paladin tried to calm his racing heart, but its pounding did not slow until he saw that the Elf indeed did not intend for Pippin to drink from the river. He blew out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, feeling dizzy with relief.
Alfie dipped her fingers into the sparkling liquid at the same time she began to sing in a soft voice. Rhoswen beamed at Pippin, who returned her grin with one of his own. Even Tulip was awed by the strange ceremony as she watched from her perch inside Pippin’s collar. Oddly, she felt no need to caution her lad.
“Close your eyes, Peregrin,” Alfie murmured, and when he had, she touched her fingers to his eyelids and continued her song. “You may open them,” she said after several moments had passed.
Pippin darted a look around, unsure what to expect. “What did you do that for?”
“You are already blessed with the gift of Dha Shealladh, the Sight, as it is known among your people. I have added an Elven blessing to enhance your trait, and one day, when you need it most, it will serve you well. And you will see the Daoine Sidhe whenever they are near. The waters of the duin will serve you.” Alfie leaned over and laid a gentle kiss on Pippin’s brow, and pressed a small object into his palm.
“The Sight?” Pippin murmured. “I’ve heard--what’s this?” Pippin turned the small gray stone over in his hands, examining it in surprise. It was worn smooth by the waters of the river, and held an unusual sparkle within. In the center of the stone was a small hole and Pippin held it up to his eye and looked through it.
“It is known in your tongue as a Faerie Stone, Peregrin. Keep it always.”
“I will!” The excitement on Pippin’s face faded as he looked up at the Elf with a sad smile. “Will I ever see you again?”
“Time will tell, my dear, young Took,” Alfie said with a wink and a mystifying nod.
Rhoswen hugged him enthusiastically, and kissed his cheek. “I am certain you will, Peregrin.”
Tulip squeaked as she was pressed between them. Pippin chuckled, extracting her from the front of his shirt and placing her on his shoulder. “I’m very glad to hear that. I would miss you even more if I thought we’d never see one another again.”
Rhoswen slanted a glance at Alfie, then leaned forward and gave her friend another kiss, causing the Elf to laugh at the little one’s antics. Rhoswen also pressed something into Pippin’s hand, and he studied it curiously, running his fingers over its smoothly worn edge. “A coin?” Pippin raised his brow in question.
“A very old coin, Peregrin. I hope it will remind you of the story about your ancestor, as well as the time we have spent here together.”
“I’m sure it will! Thank you, Rhoswen.”
“You are welcome.”
Pippin held his toy up. “Will you give Tulip a special blessing too, Alfie?” The knitted piglet squeaked with delight and the Elf laughed. Her laughter was like music to Pippin’s ears and his smile widened as she took the piglet from him and placed Tulip upon her lap.
“Of course. We could not allow Tulip to feel left out.” Alfie cupped her hands into the sparkling river once more and then pressed her fingers to Tulip’s embroidered eyes, murmuring a few words for the piglet’s ears alone. She gave Tulip back to Pippin with a smile. “Your companion was fashioned with your mother’s love, Peregrin. I think she will always watch over you.”
Pippin chuckled and winked at Tulip before tucking her back inside his shirt. “I think she watches over me a little too carefully sometimes,” he told Alfie.
“Ah, but in your case there is no such thing!” Alfie gathered Pippin in her arms and whispered something into his ear before turning him towards the woods with a nudge. “Go now child, your father is waiting for you there, just beyond that clearing where the three trees meet. You see it, yes?”
“Aye!” Pippin cried and trotted off, then stopped and turned back to his friends one last time. “Thank you for taking care of me, Alfie. Goodbye Rhoswen!”
“Namárië, Peregrin Took,” Alfie called.
“Farewell, Peregrin!” Rhoswen waved excitedly.
Pippin returned her wave before turning and sprinting towards the trees fearlessly. . .and ran straight into his father’s waiting arms.
Paladin rushed forward when he saw his small son running towards him and gathered him up into his arms at long last, embracing him fiercely. Tears ran down his face unchecked, and when he pulled back he saw that Pippin’s eyes were bright, but he wasn’t weeping. Instead, he was grinning from ear to ear.
“I missed you, Da!”
Paladin groaned and hugged Pippin to him again with a sob, rocking him back and forth. “We’ve been so worried. . .oh, mercy. . .I was so frightened for you. . .” Paladin felt an insistent tap on his shoulder and drew Pippin back again to find his son giving him his most engaging, impish grin along with a half-shrug. Paladin’s heart swelled with pleasure.
“But I’m all right, Da!” Pippin giggled as his small hands patted his father’s wet cheeks. “Don’t cry!”
Paladin couldn’t resist a shake of his head before bouncing Pippin in his arms. “Aye, so you are! What do you say we get you home now to see your mum, so she’ll quit worrying too?”
“Yes!” Pippin flung himself onto his father’s shoulder and hugged him enthusiastically.
Paladin turned and started walking. He seemed to know which direction to head and he breathed a quiet word of thanks to the Spirit of the Oak for its guidance. He smiled as a strong feeling of warmth overcame him just as it had before; he knew a heartfelt hug when he received one.
Remember. . .
“I will,” Paladin promised in a whisper.
Pippin had been asleep on his shoulder for some time when they emerged at last from the dense cover of the mighty oak, ash, and thorn near the clearing where he had last seen his friends. He looked up at Milo’s shout to the others, and grinned, placing a finger to his lips to indicate Pippin was asleep as his cousin ran towards him.
“Look! It’s Pad! It’s Pad, and he’s found Pippin!” Milo gestured wildly over his shoulder to his fellow searchers.
“Pad, wherever did you disappear to?” his cousin asked. “We were just starting to look for you and here you are already, and with Pippin too! What happened? Did you know right where to look?” Milo grinned and patted Paladin on the back as he shook his head in amazement. “My goodness, I can’t believe it. It’s as if you knew precisely where to go and find him.”
Paladin smiled ever so slightly. It would seem then that very little time had passed in this world while he was gone. “Come lads, let’s be getting this young one home to his mother. Help me, will you?” He placed the stirring child in Milo’s arms while he mounted his pony and then reached down for him, settling Pippin in front of him in the saddle. “Let’s go!” With that, he coaxed the pony around and started off without waiting for the rest of them.
Eglantine lay motionless in the darkened room, every minute that passed without word from her husband stabbed at her heart with an almost physical pain. It had been far too long and she was finding it increasingly difficult not to give in to her growing despair. She dared not give free rein to the dark feelings that festered in her soul as the night aged. Beside her, Esmie sat attentively, holding her hand and saying nothing for the time being. Together, they listened to the night sounds in the still farmhouse, sounds that would have felt comforting at other times. A light, warm breeze wandered in through the open window, causing the lacy curtains to lift gently back, revealing the moonlit night. Somewhere in the distance a night owl hooted and Eglantine shivered and squeezed Esmeralda’s hand. They held that pose for several minutes, neither one speaking.
At last, Eglantine released a little sigh, and Esmie knew she was weeping. “Tina, are you certain you wouldn’t care to take just a wee dose of sleeping powders? You are utterly exhausted, dear.” She felt, rather than saw, her sister-in-law shake her head from side to side. “Perhaps a cup of tea, then?”
“In awhile, perhaps. Not now.” The pair fell silent once more until Tina spoke softly into the darkness a few minutes later. “Esmie? How. . .how does a mother. . .prepare herself for the worst. . .?”
“No, Tina.” Esmeralda squeezed the hand she held, and shook her head. “Don’t start thinking like that, now. You are completely worn out. Why, you’ve had no sleep at all in two days, and small wonder your mind is starting to wander in the wrong direction.”
“Is it the wrong one?” Eglantine struggled to a sitting position and Esmie moved to the bed to sit beside her, one arm squeezing her shoulders in comfort.
Pulling her friend close, she whispered, “Yes, it is. My brother will leave no stone unturned until he finds his son.”
Eglantine buried her face in both hands and sobbed. “There are some things even a father can’t fix, Esmie.”
Esmeralda tightened her grip. “Paladin will not fail you, Tina. I know it in my heart. Pippin is alive and well, and you’d feel it too, if you weren’t so drained.”
“How do you know that?”
Esmeralda hesitated. “Because. . .I do. That’s all. He will be found safe, and I haven’t thought otherwise for a moment since I found out he’d gone missing.”
She chuckled softly. “Oh my, for such a young lad you certainly can count enough times when his antics have set you to fretting over him. Why, remember the time, just last autumn, I think it was, when he was convinced he could fly like a bird if only he set his mind to it?”
“Oh, mercy,” Eglantine half-chuckled, half-groaned at the memory. “He climbed up on the roof of the shed and scrambled his way up into the big oak out back of the barn, and--”
“And then called out for us to watch, because he was going to fly straight across the barn!”
“Oh, I have never been so frightened in my entire life, as I was at that moment! Pippin had both of his arms spread out like a bird, and he was ready to leap!”
“Aye, and I remember poor Pad was as pale as fresh milk in his panic. But he kept his head and was right there to catch him when Pippin tumbled out of that tree like a stone from a catapult, rather than soaring like a bird!”
“Oh, dear, you’re right, Esmie.” Eglantine pressed a hand to her forehead. “I thought I was going to swoon on the spot.”
“And my poor Merry, trying to get there in time to help his uncle catch him. I remember the shriek the poor boy let out when he saw Pippin falling, and I suppose I was screaming too, by then. But there was Pad, rushing up to the tree just in time, and a moment later had his arms full of his giggling lad!” Esmeralda bent forward with her laughter. “What a surprised look my brother had on his face! Not to mention Pip, who couldn’t understand why everyone was so upset.”
“Ah, yes, that’s my boy. Always way too daring for such a wee young lad. Why, I shudder to think just what kind of mischief he’ll be getting himself into as he gets older, whenever I see the kinds of things he’s already doing.”
“Yes indeed, you and Paladin may have to put him on a short lead if he keeps this up--” Esmeralda was interrupted by a sudden commotion outside.
Eglantine rushed to the window, her heart catching in her throat. Were the cries she heard ones of sorrow and grief, or. . .? She darted a look of panic at Esmie, who was smiling broadly now, her excitement and laughter pouring forth. Could it be? The thud of ponies’ hooves and the shouts of the returning searchers filled the air now and Esmeralda grabbed her the hand and pulled her along.
“Come, Tina! They’re back!”
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
“Song of the Morning Birds”
I have gone out and seen the lands of Faerie,
And have found sorrow and peace and beauty there,
And have not known one from the other, but found each
Lovely and gracious alike, delicate and fair.
I have come back from the hidden, silent lands of Faerie
And have forgotten the music of its ancient streams:
And now flame and wind and the long, grey, wandering wave
And beauty and peace and sorrow are dreams within dreams.
Eglantine and Esmeralda flew through the kitchen where the lamps burned low. Saradoc and Frodo had continued their conversation after the others had gone to bed, but now they were nowhere to be seen and the back door stood wide open. Eglantine stumbled towards her husband as he trotted up the yard, a small wriggling bundle on his shoulder. With a shriek of delight, Eglantine descended on them. The bundle protested noisily as she pulled Pippin into a smothering embrace.
“Oh! Oh, oh, oh – Pad! Wherever did you find him? Oh, my dear Pippin,” Eglantine sobbed into his tousled hair as she hugged him tightly against her.
“Mum! I can’t breath!” he complained, freeing an arm and flailing it above his head until his mother loosened her grip at last.
“He’s all right, Tina,” Paladin soothed as he ruffled Pippin’s hair. Eglantine continued weeping, hanging on to her child as if she feared he might suddenly disappear. “Hardly any worse for the wear, either!” he jested, “save for some streaks of dirt and dampish clothing, not to mention poor Tulip here.” Paladin held up the knitted piglet that had tumbled out of Pippin’s shirt as he was fussed over by his mother.
“Yes indeed, he looks fine to me,” Esmeralda said as she gathered both Eglantine and her nephew into a hug.
“I’m hungry!” Pippin shouted amidst all the excitement. “And I’m as hungry as three hobbits,” he declared as his father handed him Tulip. He held his toy to his ear and then giggled. “And Tulip says she is too!”
“Well, he certainly sounds like himself,” Frodo commented with a chuckle as he leaned over to pat his little cousin’s shoulder.
Paladin scooped him back into his arms and headed into the farmhouse with a laugh. “Well, I’m certain there’s something we can do about that!”
“Rhoswen was going to give me something to eat, but then Alfie said she couldn’t, even though Tulip and I were ever so hungry, but she said if we ate their food we couldn’t ever leave again so we didn’t.” Pippin shrugged and placed his toy on the table as Paladin lowered him into a chair. “But that was all right because we heard such splendid stories and saw some frightfully queer things and, oh, the music was jolly good, and the wee creatures, especially Ealhdun, were so…” he paused to take a huge bite of the buttered bread that his aunt had set in front of him, chewed quickly and then continued without missing a beat, “splendid, and I loved listening to him talk! He had the oddest voice and funny long ears, sort of like a rabbit but not exactly, and when he laughed it was like--”
“Pippin, lad, don’t talk with your mouth full,” Esmeralda told him, laying her hand on his shoulder. “You’re going to make your food go down the wrong way.”
Pippin obediently stopped talking while he chewed and swallowed, then took a deep breath and continued rambling while he buttered some more of the bread. “Everyone was so nice to us!” Pippin paused to place the bread in front of Tulip’s mouth. “But it wasn’t easy after seeing all that food Rhoswen had set out, and not being allowed to eat any! Was it m’lass?” he queried the knitted piglet before digging eagerly into the bowl of stew his mother was putting in front of him.
“Pad, whatever is he going on about?” Eglantine whispered, raising a brow in consternation.
Paladin shrugged. “You know how he is, Tina. He probably entertained himself by making up stories while he was lost. We can talk to him about his adventure tomorrow. Including his wandering off! Meanwhile, let him eat and then he can have a wash and get into bed. I don’t see how he could have had much sleep in the woods.”
“I want him into a hot bath before bed. I’m sure he’ll have a chill from being outside so long.” Eglantine gave her son another hug before leaving the room to prepare the hot water for the tub.
“Pip! You’re back!” Merry rushed into the kitchen with Pippin’s sisters close behind him.
“Merry!” Pippin reached out with both arms and a cry of delight as his cousin gathered him close, pressing the youngster hard against his chest. Pippin’s yelp of alarm came out muffled, “Oww, Merry, not so hard!”
“Sorry! I’m just happy to see that you’re all right. We were all so upset when we couldn’t find you.” Merry let him go, still grinning.
“Well, I won’t be all right if everyone doesn’t stop squeezing the stuffing out of me!” Pippin grumbled, rubbing his arms where Merry had gripped him a little too firmly.
“Ahem, my turn now,” Pearl said, moving in between her cousin and her little brother. She placed her hands on her hips and gave him an exaggerated scowl. “You scamp! Wherever have you been all this time? I was worried half to death.” She pulled Pippin to her for another fierce hug. “You’re not getting out of my sight ever again, m’lad!”
“Pearl!” Pippin let out a wail of protest at her declaration, while she laughed and rubbed his back.
“Well, at least for a few days, then.” Pearl knelt next to him and took both hands in her own. “Don’t ever wander off like that again and scare us so! Do you promise?”
Pippin nodded. “I promise.”
“Good, I’m glad you agree with me.” Pearl moved away, shaking her head and allowing room for her sisters to greet Pippin.
Pimpernel, and finally Pervinca, took their turns giving him even more warm hugs and warnings not to wander off again.
“I said I wouldn’t!” Pippin rolled his eyes at Pimpernel, and then stuck his tongue out at Pervinca for being so bossy.
Merry couldn’t resist giving his cousin another hug after Pippin’s sisters stood back at last, before looking him over from head to foot to reassure himself that the youngster truly was all right. “Where were you?” Merry finally settled into the chair next to him and listened to Pippin babble on about his adventure, while the little Took continued to stuff himself, occasionally offering a bite to Tulip.
“In the woods, of course! But I wasn’t alone the whole time.”
“You weren’t?” Merry turned his puzzled look to his uncle.
Paladin cleared his throat. “Yes, well. Your cousin has a wonderful imagination, Merry. You know that.”
Before Pippin could protest, Bilbo trotted into the kitchen at last. “My stars, it did take a great deal to wake an old hobbit, but I’m glad I heard the commotion at last. Peregrin Took!” Bilbo hurried over to give his young cousin a hug and a kiss. “How are you, my boy? And just where have you been hiding yourself all this time, hmm?”
“I wasn’t hiding, Cousin Bilbo. Tulip and I were having an adventure with Rhoswen!”
“Ah, and who is Rhoswen?”
“She’s my friend, and so is Alfie. I met them in the woods. Oh! And I met so many others there, too! They played music for us, and sang and danced! And I did too, Bilbo, and we had ever so much fun!”
“He was having the time of his life while we were worried to death about him?” Bilbo raised his brow in surprise as he gazed at the family.
Frodo patted him soothingly on the back. “I think he was simply entertaining himself, Uncle. Our Pip has quite the imagination, you know.”
“Hmm, yes, I do indeed. Ah, well! All that matters is that he’s home safe and sound, and no worse for all his adventures, eh?” Bilbo winked at Frodo.
“That’s right. And Pippin is not going to wander off like that again and cause his family such dreadful worry.” Frodo gave his young cousin a mock glare. “Are you, Pip?”
The youngster shook his head slowly from side to side as he peered up at him from beneath his long lashes. Frodo knelt next to his chair and smoothed the disheveled hair from his cousin’s forehead. He leaned in close and whispered so only Pippin could hear him, “Don’t you ever go off on another adventure like that without me and Merry. Do you hear me?”
Pippin’s face split into a wide grin and he nodded enthusiastically before throwing his arms around Frodo and hugging his neck fiercely. “I promise!” He crooked a small finger at his older cousin and Frodo obligingly leaned near again. “And don’t you ever go on an adventure without me and Merry, either, all right?”
Frodo nodded solemnly, gazing into the earnest eyes. “I promise,” he whispered back.
Esmeralda watched the scene with satisfaction, giving her brother a smile and a wink as she threw her arms around him. “I knew you would find him and bring him home safe, Pad.”
“You did, eh?” Paladin laughed and hugged her back.
Esmeralda nodded, her eyes twinkling.
“Where’d you find him?” Saradoc asked as he joined them. “We had quite a search of the farm ourselves, while you were gone. By the way, Pad, did you know there was a cave opening over at the end of the north pasture?”
Paladin grinned at the mention of the cave. “Ah, yes, I did. But I thought it was still well hidden. I’ll have to take a look at it--” he made a puzzled face as he reached into his pocket and retrieved a good-sized acorn from its depths. He held it up to the lamp, somewhat taken aback. Saradoc looked over his shoulder, equally mystified.
“Where did you find that? Why,” he said, taking it from Paladin’s hand and turning it over, “that’s a mature acorn, and a very healthy one, at that. But, it’s the wrong time of year for it. They won’t be ready to fall for months yet!” He gave it back with a grunt of perplexed wonder.
Paladin bounced it lightly in his hand, pondering. “Hmm,” he began, just as more of the relieved well-wishers interrupted his reverie, descending on them with cries of excitement, all of them wanting to know where Pippin had been found.
Eglantine hurried Pippin off the moment he was finished eating, in spite of his protests that he didn’t need a bath. “Yes, you most certainly do, my young sir. And Tulip too.”
“I’ll help you, Mum,” Pearl offered, not ready yet to take her eyes off her little brother.
“I bet Rhoswen isn’t being made to take a bath right now,” he grumbled.
“Oh, I’ll just wager she is, Pip. Especially if she spent as much time in the woods as you have,” Pearl chuckled as she gathered up a fluffy bath towel and the soap.
“She lives in the woods, Pearl! And she looked like she never, ever got dirty, either. Right Tulip?” Tulip murmured that a hot bath sounded delightful to her, and that he should stop giving his mother a hard time. “You would be on her side,” the youngster grumbled, finally giving in as Eglantine shut the door to the bathroom firmly behind them.
“Thank goodness everyone is bedded down once more. Perhaps we can all manage to get a few hours of sleep. I don’t think I can keep my eyes open much longer,” Paladin yawned as he stretched out at last, grateful to feel the cool sheets beneath him. His head ached from the lack of sleep, but that was a small price to pay for the safe return of his youngest child.
“Now,” Eglantine sighed as she settled into bed and snuggled gratefully against her weary husband, “tell me where you found him.”
Paladin was quiet for several moments; he’d known she would ask him this question, and more. He’d been pondering his answer ever since he’d located Pippin and started back along the path towards home. There was so much he didn’t understand about what had happened. It was one thing to hear the tales about the mysterious Took ancestry, and quite another to experience actual visions and converse with an ancient spirit who sought to instruct and guide him. Just how much would his wife be able to understand, and also, how much would she actually believe?
“Pad?” Eglantine rose up on her elbow, smoothing the unruly hair from her husband’s brow and searching his eyes with the hint of an anxious frown.
He smiled back at her and kissed the tip of her sharp nose, chuckling, “I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before that you and Pippin have exactly the same nose.”
“And what precisely does my nose have to do with the question I’ve asked you, hmm?”
“Very little, I suppose, when you put it that way.” Paladin put his arm around her and drew her close, settling her into the crook of his arm where she had always fit just right. “He was sitting on the ground in a little clearing with Tulip on his lap, and they were having quite the conversation. I imagine it had to do with the very long adventure they’d enjoyed amongst the trees, and I wonder if hunger didn’t have a great deal to do with all the fanciful stories he and his piglet friend were sharing. He told me they’d found some berries and a few mushrooms, but hardly enough to keep a growing young hobbit lad satisfied for long.”
“I certainly intend to do something about that. I’m going to work hard at fattening him up and I’m going to make all his favourite foods tomorrow.”
“I don’t think you’re going to have a problem enticing him to eat, Tina,” Paladin snorted. “The lad has to be half-starved.”
“Aye, he certainly did do himself proud eating all he could hold tonight. But he’s so tired he was almost falling asleep in the bath.” Eglantine snuggled closer, enjoying the warmth and the strength of her husband’s nearness. “I have never been so frightened in my entire life, and I hope I never have cause to feel that way ever again.”
Paladin laughed quietly and kissed her. “My love, when has our son ever given us leave to breathe easily where he’s concerned? No, I’ve a feeling it’s only the beginning of his adventures. I think he’s going to try us sorely on many more occasions before he reaches his majority.”
“I have a feeling you’re right about that, Pad,” Eglantine sighed and laid her head on his shoulder. “I’m just glad he’s safe in his own bed now. I hated to leave his room.”
“I know.” Paladin pulled her closer. “He’ll sleep well enough with Merry next to him, and Tulip tucked under his arm.”
“Aye, they looked so dear all tucked in together. Pippin had one arm slung over his cousin, and his piggy pulled up to his chin. It made me feel quite warm inside to watch them.”
“A feeling you’re well deserving of, after what you’ve just been through, dearest.”
“Oh, how I wish sometimes that he would stay small forever. Then I could just keep him right here by my side at all times, and safe.”
Paladin laughed heartily at his wife’s words and shook his head in disbelief. “My love, we’ve just spent nearly two days worried to death about him. How would keeping him young and small help with that, hmm? No, we just have to do the best we can, and know we’ve taught him well.”
“You’re right, Pad. ‘Twas a nice thought though, wasn’t it?”
“It was indeed!” Paladin yawned and stretched. “Get some rest now, Tina. Stop fretting, now. He’s home and he’s well.”
Eglantine snuggled in to her husband’s warmth and was soon asleep.
Several days had passed since Pippin’s adventure and Paladin was pleased to find that the lad hardly seemed to remember much of what had happened. At least, it appeared to be so. Perhaps there would be little he would need to explain, and even less he’d have to give details about to his family. He still puzzled over the acorn. He knew in his heart where it had come from, of course, but the whole experience still unnerved him. The coin Pippin had been given was indeed extremely old, and he couldn’t help wondering if its past was linked to the hobbit lad from so long ago, and the day he too, had wandered into the forest as Pippin had, although his adventure had come to a very different conclusion. Luckily, everyone thought Pippin had simply found it on the woodland floor during his journey, and the lad hadn’t said otherwise.
The so-called ‘Faerie Stone’ was a fascinating bit of rock with an odd sparkle and Paladin had threaded a thin leather strip through the hole so Pippin could wear it around his neck. The spirit had said it was important, and Paladin had no reason to question it. Pippin didn’t seem to want to put it down, either, and so far he had worn it every day. He couldn’t help being curious when Pippin had said very little about the whole experience and then appeared to be forgetting it altogether. He couldn’t say that made him unhappy. All the fears he’d had about what to say to his son, and about what questions he might ask, had been for naught. Paladin remembered what the oak spirit had said about Pippin holding the information in his heart and not being troubled by it. He too, would hold it in his heart, as well as the mysterious tale of the Took ancestor and Eolande. He had not discussed what had happened that night with anyone, and he likely never would.
Paladin strode out into the pasture to enjoy the late evening breeze and watch the setting sun after his long workday. He rested one foot on the lower rung of the split rail fence and leaned on it while he contemplated the nighttime sounds. He’d always loved the sweet call of the birds at both dawn and dusk, but for some reason their cries had always seemed the most haunting at sunrise. But whatever the time of day when he stopped to listen, it always felt as though the captivating, ethereal music drifted to him from another world entirely. Now, the evening birdsong reached into the very core of his being and caused him to shiver with delight as the chorus rose in one voice to hail the coming night. Perhaps this was the reason he had named his only son after a winged creature?
Paladin drew the acorn out of his pocket and examined it in the fading light. He had taken to carrying it with him for some reason beyond his ken, except it seemed to bring him an odd sense of comfort. He sighed, but it was not in sadness. Instead, he felt invigorated and at peace, and ready for whatever was to come in the future. The Sight had never failed him. Whether he’d wanted to see or sense the things he did, had always been irrelevant. But he felt he had indeed learned an important lesson while in the company of the oak spirit.
Paladin stared across the meadow where Pippin had disappeared that day and recalled the alarm and the fear that had gripped his heart. Yet, deep inside he’d known he would find his son whole and sound. That had never really been the issue, and Paladin reflected on that memory now. He felt he would always know in his heart if Pippin was well, or if danger threatened him. What had the oak spirit meant regarding the future, and his need for determination? Why did his son need to hear the tale the Elf had shared with him? And, just who was the wee lass, Rhoswen, who had seemed so fascinated with Peregrin? Paladin considered the child’s lovely red-gold curls, and wondered.
There was one last thing he yearned to know above all the rest. What had Alfie whispered in Pippin’s ear before sending him on his way and into his father’s waiting arms?
Paladin sighed in frustration this time, feeling much like he did when his father had refused to answer his questions about his granda’s stories. But, even though it had taken all these years, he had finally received his answers. He supposed he would know the rest when the time came. The spirit of the oak had said it was so, and he had no reason not to believe in those words. What task of such grave importance did his son have to meet in his future? Paladin looked searchingly at the sky as if the answers might be found in the deepening darkness, before turning around and heading towards the light spilling from the kitchen window of his family’s home. He would know, when the time came.
“If You Could See What I Hear…”
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can’t discover
For the tears that drip all over!
Huge moons there wax and wane-
Every moment of the night-
Forever changing places-
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
…Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be-
O’er the strange woods- o’er the sea-
Over spirits on the wing-
Over every drowsy thing-
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light-
And then, how deep!- O, deep!
Is the passion of their sleep.
…Of which those butterflies
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again,
Upon their quivering wings.
Edgar Allen Poe
Paladin had been uneasy the entire day; but now, as darkness fell once more, causing long shadows across the green hills of his ancestral home, he was increasingly apprehensive. All day long he had tried to push the dark thoughts to the back of his mind in order to function in his role as Thain. These were troubled times in the Tookland, as they were in the whole of the Shire, and he had passed already a multitude of restless nights. But none thus far had been as terrible as those first few weeks after his son had gone missing. Immediately, the dread and the fear of another time when Pippin had disappeared had come readily to mind, along with the same feelings of desperation.
Paladin had berated himself soundly at first; he’d been aware of an oddness about Pippin’s behaviour. But the business of his position kept him so often preoccupied that he had put the thoughts aside, planning to have a talk with his son before long. And that time had never come. Pippin was simply not there one day, just as had happened the other time. But bits of information had come to him from Buckland. Frodo and Merry had also disappeared, and although Merry had left a letter for his father that contained a scant amount of information, nothing eased the aching hearts left behind to wonder.
The anger had set in, and then the hurt and confusion. Where they had gone, and what they were up to, he had no idea. Eglantine had wept her heart bare, and when he thought she had no tears left, she’d wept some more. And Paladin’s resentment towards his son’s actions had deepened. But there was naught to do but wait and hope for the best. Each day was a trial, and the nights sometimes felt endless. But his obstinate strength of mind saw him through a day at a time. And then the memories had started to return.
He hadn’t considered them in years, or for long at a time when he did remember. He’d rather hoped, somewhere deep in the back of his mind that the day would never come when he needed to call upon the lessons of that long ago guiding force. Over the passing years Pippin had seemed to forget entirely about what had happened in the forest. He still carried his faerie stone, however, and every once in awhile Paladin would find him gazing out over the meadow with a faraway, dreamy look on his face. It was the same expression he’d seen while he’d watched his son as Pippin listened to the music of the Otherworld, and conversed with the extraordinary beings. At those times, Paladin would grow afraid again.
Now, as he and his family were called upon to fight the ruffians that tried to take over their lives, he began to understand what the oak spirit was trying to teach him. Paladin was certain the time had come at last for the crucial task of which both the spirit and the Elf had spoken.
Peregrin was in danger. He knew this without a doubt. And he knew that this time he could not go to him and help. Instead, he would need to hold to his conviction that Pippin would be strong, and that he already possessed the inner power and ability to persevere, no matter what might come his way. But the lad hadn’t even come of age yet. Paladin sighed heavily and walked out into the late evening chill, forgoing his cloak and gloves. There was trouble, and it had become worse. He knew it, could feel it. There would be no sleep again this night.
Pippin tossed restlessly on the soft bed for a few minutes after startling awake, before giving in at last and rising. He padded to the window and gazed out at the star-filled night, wondering if anyone in his family were looking at it too, right at this very moment. Imagining that someone was felt oddly reassuring. The comforts in Rivendell in the house of Elrond were exceptional, yet he was unable to relax and enjoy them. They had arrived here only one short week ago, and Frodo already showed signs of improvement from the deadly wound of the Morgul-blade. They had all breathed sighs of relief and settled in to await word of how they would proceed.
Merry spent much of his time poring over maps and books in the impressive library, as if he knew he would have need of the information. Samwise spent his time attending Frodo’s bedside, and dear old Cousin Bilbo could most often be found napping. But Pippin was restless and often wandered through the gardens and the halls of the Homely House barely noticing its grandeur. At times, something touched his mind, lightly, as if beckoning, and then it would slip away, still too elusive for him to grasp.
He thought of this as he fingered the small, smooth stone he wore. It had always brought him a sense of ease when he held it, admiring its sparkle as it glimmered in the sunlight. He smiled, remembering the day his father had given it to him, a thin strip of leather threaded through the hole so he could wear it around his neck. It was just after his adventure in the woodlands that surrounded his family’s farm, and he thought his da might have found it by the water while he searched for him.
The perfect opening in its centre seemed to provide a window to another world when he looked through it. Pippin recalled how, when he’d first held it to his eye, he was certain he’d seen the face of a lovely wee lass looking back at him. At other times he saw only the trees and grass, although appearing more intensely alive than usual. Of course, as he grew older he understood that it was simply an illusion, but oh! how it fascinated him, and he continued to keep it close.
A dream came to mind unbidden, one that had recurred for as long as he could remember. In it, a beautiful figure in white appeared near the water and spoke to him, and when he awoke he always felt comforted. But some of the dreams he’d begun having since they’d left home seemed a queer vision of sorts, and he wasn’t sure what they meant. Strong feelings of danger overwhelmed him and he fought against the unseen perils while he slept. It was very disconcerting and he could never remember what he had actually dreamed, but it always left him with a sense of dread.
He’d experienced such things as visions before. There was the time he’d somehow known that his younger cousin, Goldenrod Took, at the tender age of five, was in danger of drowning in the pond on his family’s farm. He’d rushed to her without a thought, surprising everyone in the middle of a birthday celebration when he’d suddenly bolted away. And the funny way he always seemed able to find the hidden pebble whenever he and the other children played a game of ‘Hide the Stone.’ Pippin sighed. Those things paled in light of what he ‘saw’ now, and the fear it invoked. He left the window, feeling the summons of the moonlit night. Perhaps a walk might clear his head.
He trailed through the garden lost in his thoughts, until he stopped, shocked from his reverie. On the path ahead strolled an Elf, her back to him, gazing up at the sky as if in serene reflection. A cascade of long, red-gold hair trailed down her back, reaching almost to her waist. Pippin’s eyes grew large; he was dumbstruck, his mouth gaping in wonder. She wasn’t the first Elf he’d seen, of course, but there was something different about her, something that awed him in her presence. Pippin realised with a start that she was much smaller in stature than any of the Elves he’d seen thus far. A child? No…somehow that didn’t feel quite right. What then? The voice that had been murmuring in his head grew stronger. He started to back away soundlessly when she turned and caught Pippin’s gaze with her own, holding it for what seemed an eternity. Pippin stared as green eyes, the exact shade of his own, held him captive in their piercing stare. At last, she extended a hand to him, and in a soft voice, spoke his name.
“Eolande?” The lovely vision before him nodded and walked towards him.
“Come, sit with me beneath the Dair, and we shall speak of many things.”
The memories of eighteen years before unlocked all at once, overwhelming him, and his knees buckled…
Pippin bolted upright from his haven beneath the oak, his breath coming in quick, frantic gasps, heart pounding in his chest. His eyes darted about the garden, but he was alone. Shaking, he took several deep breaths to calm himself. It had happened. It was real. He had been there, had seen them, and talked to them. His hand flew to his throat, feeling for the stone. “Rhoswen,” he whispered, “Alfie.”
Paladin followed Pippin outside of their home at the Great Smials and headed across the meadow. His mind drifted to all the other times he had followed him out of the farmhouse for an evening walk and a private conversation. Paladin breathed another grateful sigh of relief, thinking he still could hardly bear to take his eyes off his son. Pippin had come back to them once again, safe and whole, and yet changed by all that he had seen and done. That didn’t matter. His son had survived the dreadful War. What they had been through had changed his entire family. Now at last, the ruffians who had tried to take over the Shire were gone and life appeared to be settling down at last. Ah, he had so many questions, and so many things he wished to talk about with his child.
Pippin turned, feeling his father’s eyes upon him, and grinned. “It’s so wonderful to be home again, Da.”
Paladin slipped an arm around him and squeezed him tight. “It’s a wonder your mother will allow you out of her sight long enough to take a walk with me alone.” He ruffled Pippin’s hair, marveling once more at the need to reach up to do so. He shook his head. “Ent draughts, you called it. That’s what made you and your cousin grow so tall? I admit I still find it amazing, and difficult to understand. And yet, here you are, living proof that such things are possible.”
“Da…” Pippin began, and then stopped. His father looked at him quizzically. “Speaking of amazing things, there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about for a long time.” Pippin gestured at the ground near a grove of young oaks and sat down tailor fashion leaning back against one of the trees. He fidgeted with a loose thread on his shirtsleeve and Paladin smiled at the familiar gesture.
“What is it, Pippin? Is something troubling you?” He had a feeling it was time for the discussion he’d thought they would’ve had many years ago.
“Well…no. I mean, not precisely that is. Do you remember the day I became lost in the woods when I was only ten years old? And you, and Uncle Saradoc, and everyone had to come looking for me?”
“Ah, yes. Actually, I remember it quite well. I’d never been so worried about you before in my entire life. Not that there weren’t plenty of other times after that when I was equally, or even more frightened!” Paladin chuckled, and then grew serious. “What is it?”
Pippin glanced at his father before gazing out across the meadow that was so similar to the one he’d wandered from that day. “I have a feeling you already know what it is I want to discuss.”
“Tell me, son.”
Pippin hesitated, tugging at some of the clumps of grass by his feet and frowning. “I…it…they were real. It did happen. I was there. I paid a visit to their world, didn’t I?” Pippin turned back to his father and waited.
“Yes.” The two of them sat in silence, watching one another.
Finally, Pippin tilted his head, puzzled. “Yes? Is that all? Isn’t there anything else you’d like to say?”
“What would you like to hear, son?”
Pippin stared at his father, somewhat taken aback. “I, I don’t know. It’s all so odd…so bewildering.” His fingers touched the stone about his neck.
“Aye, that it is.” Paladin sighed deeply and leaned one shoulder against the young oak. “It was the queerest experience of my entire life, truth be told, and I remember what happened vividly, still. Do you want to know why it happened? I’m not certain I can answer that. I’ve wondered the same thing myself all these years.” Paladin leaned forward and clasped his son’s hands in his own, squeezing them, then used one finger to lift his chin and stare into the troubled eyes. “Peregrin, all I know for certain is that I have my son back safely, and that there was something necessary about that visitation in order for it to be so. Now, perhaps you can explain that part to me.”
Pippin dropped his eyes and studied his toes. “I saw her, Da. The one Alfie told me the story about. Our…our ancestor. Eolande. While we were in Rivendell, right after Frodo was injured.” Pippin raised his head. “I remembered everything when I saw her. And, she told me things that helped me…” Pippin looked away again, “ah, through some very difficult times on our journey. That day and night I spent in the woods, it wasn’t a dream. Although I’ve seen her in my dreams as well, and for a very long time.”
“I know,” Paladin said softly, scooting closer to his son and pulling him into a hug. “I do too. And, I continue to be visited.” Father and son were silent for some time before Pippin spoke again.
“Now I wonder if I would have survived at all without…what I learned. Have you ever told anyone what happened?” Pippin sought his father’s eyes and studied their green depths for several long moments, and then smiled. “No, I didn’t think so.”
“I’m not certain ‘twas anything anyone would have believed. Perhaps I was afraid they’d think I’d gone mad.”
Pippin laughed and Paladin joined in. “I think I can understand what you’re trying to say, Da. Some things are better left unsaid.”
Paladin gazed out across the meadow. “While other things must be said, but only when the time is right for them. Wouldn’t you agree?” Paladin looked back at his son. The day Pippin was born flashed through his mind and he recalled the myriad of powerful emotions that had passed through him as he’d held the tiny lad who’d been entrusted to his care. Since that day he’d been tried many times along the way, but none so sorely as what they’d been through recently. Paladin shivered, recalling how many close calls they’d had, and how wondrous it was that they had all survived. Pippin looked up at him questioningly.
“Was there something else you wanted to say, Da?”
“Just that I love you, m’lad.” Paladin squeezed him tight.
“I love you too, Da,” Pippin whispered, returning the hug.
“I never could advance my curiosity to conviction; but came away at last only willing to believe.”
Samuel Johnson, quoted in “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns & Faeries,” by Robert Kirk, 1691
Author's Note: This tale has taken me a whole year to create, and it’s been a true labor of love. I have learned many fascinating details about the myths of the Celtic Otherworld and the faerie faith. Again, I wish to thank Dreamflower for beta reading, Pearl Took for reading and commenting and sharing thoughts and ideas regarding the Took faerie blood, and both of these ladies as well as Larner, for allowing me to use their OC’s for some of the search party scenes. Thank you to Minniemoggie for naming the river, Cenedril o’galad, and to the ladies from our Groups: Ink, Rhysylle, and Lilyhawker, who replied to my plea to help me come up with the name for the river! Additionally, my thanks to Marigold’s Tale Challenges, where the first chapter of this story appeared using an assigned prompt, “How far have we walked, do you think?” as well as Marigold and Llinos’s beta of the first chapter. Although I mistakenly used the prompt in the middle of the story rather than the beginning, it still fit perfectly into Pippin and Tulip’s adventure!
A special note regarding Pippin’s age. I have utilized Dreamflower’s “Hobbit Age Chart” and in my story Pippin is said to be ten years old. Therefore, the equivalent in “man years” makes him approximately six and a half years old.
And a huge thank you goes to the readers who have followed my story all the way through and left many generous and much appreciated comments along the way. Your support helped keep this story flowing, and I thank you again!
Alfie: Feminine Form of Alfred, meaning “Elf Counsellor”
Celeb henneth n’ atpaluin: Silver Window on Another World
Cenedril o’galad: Mirror of Glittering Reflection
Dair: Gaelic word for Oak
Daoine Sidhe: Keepers of the Otherworld
Dha Shealladh: The Celtic Second Sight
Sidhe or Sidh: Faerie Mounds or Hills, also the people of the Faerie Mounds. The Otherworld, the Invisible Race
Eolande: Celtic/Gaelic word meaning “Violet Flower”
Ealdhun: Norse word meaning “From the Elves’ valley”
Glas: Gaelic word meaning “Green”
Liannan Shi’th: Beloved One of the Faerie mounds, a Faerie who took a mortal lover
Mi na Bealtaine: Modern Celtic word for Beltane, the First Day of May
Namárië: Elven word meaning Farewell or Goodbye
Rhoswen: Gaelic, meaning “White Rose”
Si’og: the descendants of the Tuatha
Sirith Amarth: Flowing Fate
Si’th: Celtic word for Hills, Mounds
Tuatha: Common Folk, Crafters, Farmers, lovers of the land and of nature
Tuatha de Danann: Legendary race, the forerunners of the Celtic civilization who became the Daoine Sidhe, the Faeries or Fey Folk
Thrimidge: Hobbit word meaning the month of May
Dreamflower: Sparrow Tunnelly, Chico Chubb, Gil Chubb
Pearl Took: Tolley Took
Larner: Malco Chubb, Dremma Chubb
All other Oc’s created by the author.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
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