The Magnificent Speaks

by Avondster


CHAPTER 19

A whole other athmosphere now reigned among the Travellers’ children. The older ones smiled, while the younger ones let out small cheers and sang bits of old songs. Nothing was left of the breathless, earnest-looking audience of a few moments earlier.
The adults smiled at their children’s cheerfulness, and it wasn’t until Goldilocks and Merry-lad began a quite noisy version of the Springle-ring that Rosie told them to sit back down because they would wake up Elfstan with their antics. The grinning tweenagers obeyed and gathered once again with the others around Merry, eager for him to continue.
Yet before the Master of Buckland could open his mouth, Rosie came back in with a huge cake in her hands. “An excellent excuse for this, don’t you agree?” she smiled.
They all agreed, and for five minutes silent reigned, until Pippin-lad finished his piece first.
“Say, Mum,” he said with a cheeky smile, “this isn’t at all like the feast Da often talks about on the day Frodo woke up.” He pointedly looked at the rest of the cake.
Sam rapped him on the head teasingly. “That’s because it’s no time to be doin’ anything at this hour, lad, let alone feastin’.” Pippin grinned.
Merry laughed. “Your father is ever so right, master Gardner. Though I must say,” he added with twinkling eyes, “that knowing what time of day it is never stops him from feasting, being married to such an outstanding cook as your Mum.”
Both Sam and Rosie blushed and the Mayor muttered: “Stop your flatterin’, continue your story already.”
Merry grinned and did as he was ordered.

“The feast was indeed something for us to look forward to: we were not only in the mood for it, we had also hardly eaten anything in the last few days. Our stomaches, which had been unusually quiet lately, now grumbled loudly. But neither of us complained. Judging by the smell coming from the kitchens, this was going to be a feast worth waiting for.
Pippin, to my enormous relief, had gotten back to being the dear Pip I knew, and I was glad to have him back. In a way he was even more himself than usual, if you take my meaning. He was practically bouncing around, and I was more than happy to bounce along with him.
After an hour of putting up with our antics, which made Frodo laugh until he had tears in his eyes, Sam chased us away, saying that ‘Mr. Frodo need his rest and he won’t get any with you two rascals around, beggin’ your pardon’. So we left them and went out to explore, Pippin chattering unceasingly and me walking beside him, relishing more the sound of his voice than the things he said.

As we neared the front gate, Pippin grabbed my shoulder and pulled me down into one of the richly blooming flowery bushes nearby.
“What is it?” I asked curiously.
Pippin’s eyes were glowing with mischief as he silently pointed at the gate. A few Dwarves had just come in, standing together like children in a strange house, looking left and right and huffing at whatever Elf passed.
“Do you think they’re here for that council, too?” asked Pippin.
“I guess so. Nothing less important would get Dwarves to enter a realm of Elves,” I replied.
“I do wish I knew what that council is all about,” said Pippin wistfully. “It seems to be mighty important and they won’t tell us anything about it.”
“That’s because it’s a secret council, you silly Took. And with all that high folk involved, I don’t even think I want to know. That’s just business too big for us, Pip.”
“No business is too big for us!” said Pippin proudly, and unfortunately also loudly. “You forget, Meriadoc, that we are the heirs of Masters and… whoa!”
Before I knew what happened, Pippin was pulled out of the bushes and was dangling upside down by his foot in the gloved hand of a sturdy-looking Dwarf, who glowered at him. Another pair of strong hands grabbed my shoulders and pulled me upwards, so that I looked right into the white beard of another, older, Dwarf.
The younger Dwarf shook Pippin by his leg. “Eavesdropping, are you?”
“Master Dwarf! Pray that you put down my young cousin. If you do not approve of the lad, please do not damage him.”
I felt the grip on my shoulders loosen as the older Dwarf looked in amazement to Bilbo, who came hurrying down the steps as fast as his old age would allow him. The other Dwarf lowered Pippin onto the ground, though he still eyed us suspiciously. But his elder broke into a booming laugh. “Bless me! If it isn’t Bilbo Baggins, the best Burglar in Middle-Earth!”
“Why, Gloín, is that you, dear friend? Goodness, you’ve grown older!”
“You should speak!” laughed the Dwarf.
Bilbo had now reached us and exchanged a warm smile and handshake with the Dwarf. There was no doubt that we were witnessing the reunion of two old friends.
Gloín introduced us to Gimli his son, and Bilbo told his friend our names, accompanied by a long story about how exactly we were related to him. I caught Gimli surpressing a yawn and grinned. The young Dwarf saw it and gave us a small wink, which made Pippin, who was still looking at him anxiously from behind my back, a lot more comfortable in his presence.

“Well,” said Bilbo, after he and Gloín had talked about their personal affairs for a while, “it is really nice to be having a chat here, but I for one feel the need to sit down and perhaps have a bite of something or other.”
He looked up at the sun. “It must be about tea-time,” he said happily. “How splendid! Gloín, dear friend, would you and Gimli care to join me? I would love to hear all about the goings-on under and around the Mountain. Unless you are too tired, of course.”
“Not at all, not at all!” said the Dwarf.
“Then let us go and have a cup of tea together,” said Bilbo. “But no, wait! How silly of me! Coffee for you, of course, how could I forget? Well, I am not certain if Elves have coffee or if they know it at all, but if they manage to find some, I am sure my dear Linnadín will be able to make it for you. Come along now, lads!” he called to Pippin and me, just as we prepared to leave again. “You are coming too, of course! All those… happenings lately have hardly allowed us to have a little chat, wouldn’t you say? I would like to hear all about the Shire and your journey. Come along!”
I grinned at Pippin and followed suit. Pip however, with a thoughtful frown, turned to Bilbo and took his arm. “Bilbo, shouldn’t Frodo come along?”
Dear sensitive Pippin.
“Well, Pippin my lad, it seems that he and Sam went for a little stroll around the valley,” said Bilbo cheerfully. “And goodness knows he needs the fresh air, after all those horrid affairs.”
This remark now made me frown also. “Bilbo, has Frodo even seen you? Does he know you’re here at all?”
“No Merry, he doesn’t. But I asked Sam not to say anything, and I will ask you the same. I would like to surprise him and see his face!” Bilbo grinned at us. “Just let an old Hobbit have his bit of fun, lads. Ah, Dínen, there you are!”
Linnadín opened the door to Bilbo’s room, bowing gracefully to the two Dwarves, who seemed a bit indecisive whether they would return the gesture or not.
“Thank you, my dear,” said Bilbo pleasantly. “This is Gloín and his son Gimli. My friends, this here is Linnadín. Don’t worry, she is an Elf, but you won’t notice at all.” he said with a wink at us. The Dwarves finally decided to give the Elf a curt nod.
Linnadín smiled at Gimli, who blushed, then bowed again and busied herself with making tea, and even some coffee, on Bilbo’s instructions. This seemed to be of great weight to the Dwarves, who after this regarded her with much more courtesy.

“Now then,” said Bilbo, as soon as we had all settled down with our cup of tea and some raspberry tarts, “tell me all about everything that has happened.”
So Pippin and I started telling the tale, filling each other in, providing extra information with the other’s words, and picking up the story whenever the other paused to have a sip or a bite.
Bilbo and the Dwarves listened attentively and silently, apart from some occasional exclamations of agreement or surprise from Bilbo, for example when we mentioned who Frodo had sold Bag End to (“Outrageous! I need to have a word with the lad soon!”).
However, when the story came to recent events, I remembered Gandalf’s warning about caution with speaking of the Ring, even among friends. Something that Hobbits tend to forget sometimes when there’s food and company around. I tried to signal to Pippin, but he was so caught up in his own story that he did not even notice the stares I gave him.
Finally I just stretched and said casually: “say, is that Gandalf’s voice I hear?”
Pippin made a jump in his seat and stopped in the middle of a word.
“No lad, it couldn’t be,” said Bilbo. “He is off talking to Elrond, about important matters, I suppose.”
But Pippin looked shamefully at me and I knew he had understood.
However, as our story progressed, we could not pretend that we had come to Rivendell just to pay a pleasant visit to the Elves, nor that all the evil that had befallen us was just plain coincidence. Thankfully, Bilbo and the Dwarves did not ask any questions concerning these facts, though I was sure they understood that there was more going on.
“Well,” said Bilbo as we finished. “That was a long and interesting tale. I see that there are some things that you left out, as Gandalf or someone has probably instructed you, but I daresay we will find all we need to know at the Council tomorrow. You did well, lads,” he said with a friendly smile.
“And now off with you!” he said laughing. “I can see, now that the food is all gone, you are eager to keep your cousin company. Do not let us keep you! We will see you at the feast tonight. Good day!”
Pippin and I rose at the same time, bowed to the Dwarves, and then raced out of the room, chasing each other through the hall. Then Pippin stopped, ran back to the door and peeped in.
“Thank you for the tea, Bilbo!” he said, as ever remembering his good manners.