Disclaimer: All characters belong to J. R. R. Tolkein, his various
remaining family members and the J. R. R. Tolkein Estate, LTD. There is no
intent to plagiarize, and I receive no profit from this fiction. Just
basking in the glow of a wonderful and talented author whose
accomplishments are far beyond my own humble scribblings.
Spoilers: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Fellowship of
the Rings, the movie.
A/N: If you've only seen the movie and haven't read the trilogy, DON'T
READ THIS FIC!!!!!! Serious spoilers for the remainder of the saga.
Couldn't find 'Long Cleeve' on any of the maps I found, so I took the
liberty of placing it in the North Farthing, since the 'north-Tooks' of
Long Cleeve seem to have settled north rather than south. Any mistakes in
years, ages, locations are purely the laziness of the author, and
corrections are welcome. Many of the references to prior conversations are
taken from 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' (disclaimed above).
Thanks for reading.
The Courtship of Peregrin Took
The three weary travelers reigned in their ponies. They had been traveling
in near silence for some time now. It wasn't an uncomfortable silence, but
a companionable quiet. Each had many thoughts to think and they were
content in just having the company of the other. Being near the East Road
north of Waymoot, they could have made it home if they wanted to push a
bit. Or they could have simply continued to Waymoot and stayed at an inn,
for that matter. But they seemed reluctant to separate just yet. One more
night on the road would be no great burden.
They had left the Grey Havens on the twenty-ninth of September, after
seeing their dear friends, Bilbo, Frodo and Gandalf off on the Elven vessel
that would take them away into the west. The journey back to the Shire had
been slow and quiet, with an air of melancholy hanging over the three
hobbits. And now, on this cool October evening, the end of the journey was
in sight. Tomorrow they would go their separate ways again.
"This looks like as good a place as any," said the shortest of the three
travelers, gratefully dismounting his pony and massaging his thighs. He
gave his stout pony an affectionate rub on the nose, telling him, "Good
job, Bill. You've earned your rest!"
The other two, taller and less serious looking than their fellow, also
dismounted, although they didn't seem as fatigued as their friend.
As they removed supplies and sleeping rolls from their ponies' backs, the
youngest of the group mused, "I can't believe they're really gone! It
seems like the end of an era!"
Meriadoc Brandybuck, who was settling the ponies in for the night, looked
at his friend and shook his head.
"Of course it is, my dear, idiotic Took! When the Elves boarded the ship
at the Grey Havens, the Third Age officially ended! Didn't you listen when
Gandalf talked? Or Frodo, for that matter?"
"My dear Merry," Peregrin Took, Pippin to his friends, retorted. "Of
course I was listening. Yes, it's all well and good that the Third Age
came to an end, but that wasn't what I meant!"
The last of the travelers had remained silent throughout this exchange.
Now he stepped forward a bit diffidently. He clasped his hands behind his
back and cleared his throat.
"I sees what you mean, Mister Pippin," he said quietly.
"Here, now, Sam!" Pippin chided. "Imagine! After all we've been through
together, calling me 'Mister'!"
"The very idea!" Merry added in a tone of disgust. "One of the ring-
bearers, who carried the One Ring! Standing on ceremony with simple
messengers like us! Honestly, Sam, we're going to have to speak with
Samwise Gamgee, who had 'done for' the Baggins family his entire life, but
had great events thrust, all-unwillingly on his humble self, blushed to the
roots of his curly brown hair.
"And what would Lady Galadriel, who's presents to you made the entire Shire
bloom again, say to such nonsense?"
Sam had the grace to look sheepish, but replied with great dignity. "That
wonderful Lady would tell a simple gardener like myself to remember where I
Merry snorted derisively, but Pippin chimed in.
"And the Gaffer?" Pippin teased.
"He'd tell me to remember that I'm no better than I ought to be, begging
your pardon, Master Peregrin!"
The three friends laughed. It was an old joke among them, and little by
little they were getting Sam to leave off the formalities. In the
reckoning of the Great, they constantly reminded him, his achievements were
of heroic proportions while theirs barely rated a mention.
They had been setting up camp while they teased Sam and were ready now to
start a fire and prepare a humble (for a hobbit) supper. All hobbits could
cook; they learned as youngsters. In a race where food was the cornerstone
of the culture, a basic knowledge of cooking was imperative and most
hobbits were rather good at it. Samwise, however, was an artist compared
to the other two, and the duties of food preparation fell to him. In a
surprisingly short time, he had a savory stew bubbling in the pot from his
weskit and even surprised them with sweet oat loaves from deep in his
supply packets. With the bit of butter he had left, and a sweet plum jelly
his wife Rose had sent along, they would do nicely for a 'camp meal'. The
chores of cleaning, searching for firewood and the fetching of water were
left to the two younger hobbits. When they smelled the aroma of the rich
stew, however, they decided not to complain. With the chores done and
supper well on the way, Pippin and Merry reclined on their bedrolls and
pulled out pipes and tobacco while Sam stood and stretched his muscles.
The ponies munched contentedly on the rich, green grass growing along the
path, and Pippin picked up his conversation.
"As I was saying before this oaf of a Brandybuck interrupted me, with old
Bilbo and Frodo gone, it feels like something has gone out of the Shire."
"I've been feeling it, too, Mis-er, Pippin," Sam agreed. "It feels like
we're like a ship without a rudder, so to speak! I was telling Rosie, just
last month, that the old Fellowship seems to be drifting apart."
"You know, Sam," Merry said, looking surprised. "You're right! Even
though Pippin and I are only over at Crickhollow, its months since last we
saw you and Frodo!"
Pippin nodded. "But just knowing Frodo was still up there at Bag End, and
dear old Bilbo was away with Elrond was comforting. And now with Frodo and
Bilbo gone, and old Gandalf, too, it's only the three of us to remember the
Fellowship and the great things we were part of!"
They sat, thoughtful, considering what it meant. Even though Pippin was a
messenger of the king of Gondor and Merry served the king of the Mark,
without Frodo, Bilbo and Gandalf, what reason would King Elessar (they
still thought of him as Strider), have to continue relations with the
Shire? Or less so, King Eomer, for that matter. Merry looked sadly down
at his bright mail shirt and the uniform of Rohan, which he always wore.
What none of them seemed to realize was just what an impact they all had
had on the great events that took place in the south. They would find out,
Pippin shifted restlessly and relit his pipe, which had gone out. He was
about to settle back when he jumped up and cried, "What we want, my dear
hobbits, is an adventure!"
Merry and Sam stared at the youngest hobbit for a few amazed moments, but
then Sam shook his head.
"No, adventure is for you youngsters. Rose is waiting, and I wouldn't have
the time, what, with the harvest and all."
"Come, Sam, you're all of two years older than I am!" Merry teased. "Don't
pretend you're in your doddering old age, just yet. We know you, Master
Samwise! Adventure for you is crossing the Brandywine once a month to
gossip with fat old Barliman down Bree way! So, even though you use
Mistress Rose shamefully as an excuse, you will have to do better than
He looked at Pippin. "What did you have in mind, my dear Took?"
Pippin grinned and tapped out his pipe. Replacing it in its pouch, he
pulled a folded paper from under the mail shirt that he still wore,
although he hadn't seen Gondor for over two years. Unfolding the paper, he
smoothed it on the ground for Merry to see. Sam stirred the savory
concoction that was bubbling over the fire, replaced the lid, and hurried
back to see what Pippin was doing. Although he didn't really like
adventure, he loved the tales, songs and stories that inevitably
"This is a map of the North Farthing and the country to the north of it!"
he said excitedly. "See this stretch of woods here, at Bindbole?"
Pippin tapped the bottom of the map, then traced a line on the map that
"I'm familiar with the geography of the Shire, Pippin," Merry said
patiently. "What I'd like to know is why you think traveling in the North
Farthing would be an adventure?"
Sam remained silent, waiting. If the young rascal Pippin said there was
adventure to be had in the North Farthing, there must be something there.
"We-ell," Pippin drawled importantly, "I have a mission to perform for the
Took! We have some family, the north Tooks of Long Cleeve, up in the North
Farthing. They've been out of touch for some time, and the Took wants me
to venture up that way and find out how they're faring. Too far away to be
on the normal postal route, you know."
Merry considered while Sam gave a sigh of disgust. That didn't sound much
like adventure, after all. He turned back to tend the supper.
"At the risk of being repetitive, just why is traveling north, even as far
as Long Cleeve, adventurous?" Merry inquired politely.
"Just this," Pippin said brightly. "As I was saying before being so rudely
interrupted, see the Bindbole Wood here?"
"Well, remember our promise to Treebeard? To keep an eye out for the
Entwives? Well, I was poking around the old histories in the Great Smials
a while back and found a thin volume that referred to the 'tree
"No!" Merry said excitedly. "What else did it say?"
Pippin frowned. "Actually, it didn't say much else. It was a history of
the North Farthing written by some ancient Took whose writing was
atrocious! He was telling about the settling of the North Farthing, almost
as far as the Lake Hills. You know, what they called Annuminas on the old
Merry looked slightly vague at this, but Sam jumped up and hurried back to
them. He didn't like adventure, but he loved maps.
"Annuminas!?" he cried, surprised out of his usual deferential manner.
"You mean up by Lake Evendim? Near the North Downs?"
Pippin gave Sam a big smile. "That's exactly where I mean. The wood is
small, but it stretches almost all the way up to the hills and that's where
the Tooks settled. I figured once I checked in with my relations, we could
explore the wood a bit, see if there was any sign of the Entwives."
Sam was frowning. Now what did that remind him of? A pub, a conversation
some time ago with that little grubber Ted Sandyman, he was sure.
"Here! I remember!" he shouted suddenly.
Pippin and Merry stared at Sam. He had jumped forward and was standing
over them with a look of intense concentration.
"Sam! What is it?" Merry asked, concerned.
"I remember! I was telling the story to Ted Sandyman afore Mr. Frodo and
me left! Now it makes sense!"
Pippin stood and put a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Sit down, my dear hobbit!
You look like you've run all the way from Bywater! Now, tell us what you're
Sam sat heavily.
"It always bothered me when you and Merry talked about the Ent folk, and
now I know why! It must of been almost three years ago, now. My cousin
Hal, who works up Overhill way was telling me what he saw on the North
Moors when he was off hunting. And I told Ted Sandyman in the Green
Pippin and Merry exchanged looks. They had no idea what Sam was talking
"Actually, Sam, no, we don't see." Merry gave Sam a grin and added, "But
I'm sure we will. What did Hal see that you told Sandyman about?"
"And what does it have to do with Ents?" Pippin asked.
"Didn't I ever tell you? Hal said he saw one of them 'Tree-men' a-walking
along. Said it was bigger than the other trees and looked like an elm.
Said it paid him no mind, just 'hallooed' with its big hands and walked
off. Our Hal was proper upset by it, but he never was one to tell a tall
tale. If he says he saw a 'tree-man' that's what he saw!"
Sam gave them a stubborn look, almost as though daring them to contradict
him. But Pippin and Merry were the last hobbits to accuse anyone of
spinning yarns about 'tree-men'. They knew Ents existed, and were
personally acquainted with several. They had even drunk of the special
'Ent-draught' that helped the Ents stay supple and healthy. That accounted
for much of their unusual (for hobbits) height.
Pippin smiled happily at Sam. "That's wonderful! I only wish you would
have told us sooner! Imagine! Ents, here in the Shire! What will
"What will he say, indeed?" mused Merry. "First, Pippin, we must find
them! Remember that with the passing of the rings, much that was will fade
away. I believe that Treebeard and his kind were nothing related to the
Elven powers, but it would be best to look quickly!"
Sam watched the two younger hobbits with a bit of regret. He was not
descended from any of the adventurous branches of the hobbit families, but
his year spent with the Fellowship had made him more open-minded. Maybe a
small quest wouldn't be a bad thing. A vision of Rose and their new
daughter, Elanor, flashed in front of his eyes. It was tempting, but he
wanted more than anything to be home with his family.
"Well, Pippin," he said regretfully. "It sounds like a fine adventure,
but, as I said before, Rose is waiting, along with Elanor."
Merry and Pippin smiled at Sam. They suspected he would find some excuse,
and this was as good as any.
"Well, Sam, since you mention Elanor, as well, I suppose we'll have to
forgive you for deserting us this time," Merry told him.
"But," Pippin added, "if anything exciting happens, you'll have to make a
tale of it for your book."
Pippin was referring to the book that Bilbo had begun years ago when he'd
ventured with thirteen dwarves and a magician to the Lonely Mountain, faced
a dragon, fought in the Battle of the Five Armies and lived to tell it.
Bilbo had given the book to Frodo after adding many tales he'd translated
when in Rivendell, as well as beginning the saga of the War of the Rings.
They all knew that Frodo had passed the book on to Sam to continue to
chronicle the further activities of the remainder of the Fellowship they'd
become a part of.
Sam brightened considerably at this.
"You can be sure I will. Just make sure you bring back some local tales
and songs, too!"
Merry laughed as Pippin folded up the map again and tucked it away safely.
"I will, but don't be upset if the tales are the same as we hear here," he
replied mildly. "It is, after all, still the Shire."
Sam returned to the stew pot and mumbled something about 'those foreigners
up north', while Merry leaned to Pippin.
"Seriously, Pippin," he said quietly. "Why this sudden need for adventure?
Is there more?"
"No-oo," Pippin said uncertainly. "Its just that I feel a bit, well,
restless, you know? As though things are happening without us! Not that I
would want to be gone a year, again, but a nice bit of a small adventure
might be just what's needed. And with what Sam told us, it won't be a
Merry nodded and tucked his own pipe away. He had been feeling the same
thing; the need to move about, to go somewhere farther than a night's
journey from their nice little home in Crickhollow. Coming to see Frodo
and Bilbo off had been good, but he also wanted something more. Wandering
through the fairly tame forest of Bindbole Wood sounded like just the
ticket. Especially if they found Ents!