The Pub Series

Title:ThePub Series ~ Story 4 Hey Ho

Author: Rachel Stonebreaker

Email: redirect@beckyswebdesign.com

Rating: G

Characters: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, The Gaffer and a few other hobbits make an appearance.

Publish Date: January 2003

Summary: The Pub Series is an ongoing group of stories set in a pub. This story is a light bit written to satisfy a challenge by two friends (one's a smut writer). Can I write a fluffy story that has Merry not being a hard head? We'll see. I'll keep him down to a minimum and then he won't get out of hand. Darn. Now I have to worry about Pippin creating a ruckus, silly Took!

Disclaimer: JRRT created these wonderful creatures. His estate owns all rights. I just take them out to the pub for a drink now and again. I do NOT make any money, fame or other gain from them. Don't sue. It's bad for your karma.

Authors Notes: This latest installment is a growth chapter in my historical studies. I started to use the old the titles Mister vs. Master where Master (or Miss) means a youngster not of age and Mister (or Missus) is anyone older and of higher status.

The song (heard in the extended Two Towers DVD) is from three different poem/songs in The Fellowship of the Ring. Pippin sings most of them in the book. Pippin and Merry sing something like this one in the DVD.

References to milling and Millers comes from my genealogy research.

BIG note: this is book and extended DVD canon. Weird mix. I've always liked the book for the details but this particular scene from the DVD caught the attention of two friends of mine who then challenged me to do something about it in my Pub Series. What a challenge! Hope it isn't too confusing melding the two canons.


Story 4 ~ Hey Ho

Hey Ho to the bottle I go
To heal my heart and drown my woe
Rain may fall and wind may blow
But there shall be many miles to go.

Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain
And the stream that falls from hill to plain
Better than rain or a rippling brook
Is a warm hearth fire and my sweeting's look.

****

"Just what inspired Mister Merry to heigh up there on that table with Master Pippin, I'll never guess in a month of Trewsdays! He'll more 'n likely not remember, t' look at the state of 'im right about now" Sam muttered under his breath as his Gaffer and the other hobbits at his table listened to the two lads, one just two years younger than Sam, the other not really old enough to be in the pub hisself. Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took were up on a table singing at the top of their lungs. And drunk nearly off their feet. It was a wonder they were both still standing.

"And our Mister Frodo t'aint helping matters much" noted the Gaffer in a returned comment as both Gamgees, young and old, watched their employer hand two full mugs of ale to the cousins, encouraging them on with a flash of a smile while adding his voice to the chorus. "That display o' entertainment, if'n ye can call it that, is whot I reckon has the Took afeared his youngest will wind up in a heap o' trouble after ee comes o' age."

"I'm sure he's more worried about his son bringin 'ome a lass on each arm and one o' em most likely In The Family Way." Offered Sandyman the Miller.

This caused a snicker from Sandyman's son, sitting at the table with the other working class hobbits. "I wouldn't go on worrying about The Took's youngest. He hasn't the sense of a cabbage. Wouldn't know whot to *do* with a lass if she sat on his lap!"

"Now lad, you don't go on about the Thain's son like that..." warned his father, who, despite his own brazen comments about the young Took would brook no sass about the Thain's heir from his own.

"Da! YOU started it!" complained Ted.

"An' I'll be finishin' it with a clout upside yer head if'n ye don't show more respect..." warned his father. Ted didn't worry none about the threat being carried out. His father wasn't a strong man, even for a miller, neither mentally nor physically. Ted already did most of the work around the mill having come of age 5 years almost to the day. In fact, they were in the Green Dragon celebrating a bonus of sorts. His father had made a fairly discreet and profitable deal on Ted's birthday involving some Longbottom Shire Leaf and some gentlemen from Bree.

Gentle Men, Ted snorted at the thought. Definitely Men. Definitely not gentle. He was a tad concerned at first when they approached his father with The Deal. Still, it turned out very lucrative and promised to be an on going business venture. Ted was definitely looking out for his future. He was tired of some of the restrictions on his father's business as one of Hobbiton's millers and was not too keen on continuing in those floured footsteps. One of the restrictions he'd worked unsuccessfully at getting removed still rankled him. No trading outside the market*. It was a Shire law intended to allow fair trade. But Ted saw it as a restriction on his ability to cut deals for those who would provide him with discount services. Such as Baker Whiteoak, who wanted to sell some of his flour on the side but wasn't, by law allowed to, so had to under-the-table work with Ted to get a "good" deal for his excess grain.** Yes, Ted was lining his pockets with something other than the fine soft wheat flour his father's mill was known to produce.

"Ah, now, Mister Frodo, look sharp, I think your cousins'll be needing some help home." The Gaffer's sharp voice cut through Ted's musings and brought his attention out of the future and back to the present. Ted looked up to see Meriadoc Brandybuck stumble (*That Brandybuck* as Ted had started to call him after Merry seriously trounced Ted for referring to Frodo Baggins with that title once too often... and he was extremely careful these days to not say it too loudly in the Bucklander's presence).

The rest of the table looked up just in time to see Mister Merry fall to his knees, beer mug still carefully upright whilst dragging the equally drunk Master Pippin down with him.

Frodo rolled his eyes and smiled sheepishly at Sam, who understood the look to mean Mister Frodo'd be needed HIS help to get those two back to Bag End. After a heavy sigh, Frodo tipped his head all the way back, looked up to the ceiling and lamented loud enough for all to hear, "I'm not sure why I even allow you two to accompany me!" He laughed out loud and angled his head to the side so he could just catch the two miscreants out of the corner of his eye.

Pippin was off the table in a flash, much less the worse for wear than Merry, who had managed to finally sit down, on the table with his legs dangling off the side as the Pub resumed to full volume at the end of their little escapade. "Oi, Frodo! You didn't invite me. Remember? I invited myself with Merry, when I heard you were coming here. My Da just THINKS you're taking care of me at Bag End. I didn't actually ask ta come *here* and my Da certainly doesn't know." He bounded on up to Frodo, draped his arms about his oldest cousin's shoulders and cocked his head in a beguiling manner only effective if you were 28, wild, and Pippin.

At least he could have the brains to not admit his tagging along, thought Ted, shaking his head and honestly thanking the stars above that he wasn't saddled with someone as dense as a Took for a close relative.

Frodo reached up with both hands and pretended to try to smother Pippin's head in a strong grip, successfully ruffling his hair and throwing him off balance. "Go get some water, send Merry over hear on your way, and WAIT for me outside. That is an order MASTER Peregrin. It's time we started home. Or at least you and I." Frodo added the last bit when he noticed Sam start at the thought of leaving just after they'd arrived. In truth, Pippin had come to the Pub with Merry. A good 3 hours earlier. Sam had been working with his father fixing a wheeled barrow and Frodo had stayed behind so he could walk with them to the Pub. Merry, who, in what lately had become a very rare Hobbiton visit, offered to keep Pippin (in a not so rare Hobbiton visit) out of their hair and tools.

Merry had so many duties lately at Brandy Hall, he hardly visited with his cousins in the Western Shire. He had hoped to get some time alone with Frodo, who was still a very good friend even after the years of living in nearly opposite ends of the Shire. But alas, with "chores" and "duties" that somehow always seemed to crop up (just how did a Gentle Hobbit like Frodo have *so* much to do?) and with Pippin popping in just to see what was going on, Merry didn't get the extended quiet time he'd hoped to get on this visit. Something was going on with Frodo and it worried Merry. Some of Frodo's latest "things to do" had included traveling to remote parts of the Shire, studying Bilbo's old maps, and going through things as if he were planning on a trip. This truly upset Merry. Despite the fact they never really got to visit much, Frodo was an avid letter writer and his missives of late to Merry talked of things which put Merry in the mind that Frodo Baggins was planning something very out of the ordinary. And it was looking as if it might be an extended trip. The only far away place Merry could think of Frodo going was to look for their aging Uncle who'd gone off to "finish his book". If Frodo was planning on following Bilbo, then Merry wanted to make sure he went along. Merry'd never been outside the Shire unless you counted the one trip to Bree he'd made with his father and the few times he'd wandered in the Old Forest. And as competent as he knew Frodo to be, Merry was still concerned. Frodo wasn't getting any younger though he didn't look it and he'd put on weight, that while it looked good on him, he wasn't used to carrying around. He certainly was huffing a bit more now than he used to and he'd been doing such odd things. Cracked. He'd heard folks refer to Bilbo that way. Merry wondered if Frodo was following a little to closely to Old Bilbo's tendencies. He looked down at his hands lying in his lap and mulled over just how he was going to get to the bottom of these worries of his. He didn't even get a chance to think more than a few fleeting thoughts on it before a goodly 3 stone bundle of flying Pippin landed in his lap, knocking him flat to the table.

"Ooops! Sorry Merry, didn't know I'd hit you that hard. I'm to get some water and Frodo says you're to go to him. He's sorta angry, I think, though I'm not sure why. Do you think he's got something on his mind? Do you think it's what you've been thinking? Do you think he's going to do something soon? Is he going away? Will he take us with him? Will you ..."

"Will you shut up?!?" Merry pushed himself back upright and threw Pippin to the side as he lamented the beer from his previously carefully tended mug seeping down to the rushes on the floor through the cracks in the now wet table top. "Start over. Take a breath every now and then. Use short sentences." He absent-mindedly started brushing off Pippin's jacket and straightened up his collar. It was a habit he'd picked up from Frodo in an effort to bring some semblance of respectability to the otherwise out-of-hand young Took. With his hands firmly planted on Pippin's shoulders to keep Pippin focused on him and not on the barmaid slipping past, Merry gave his youngest cousin a little shake.

"Me. Water. You. Frodo." Pippin's attempt at being funny was lost on Merry as they both stared after Sapphire Sweetmoss. She wore a cleverly detailed bodice the color of her namesake. It showed nothing untoward but certainly sparked the imaginations of both young lads. Pippin started after her and Merry got up to follow only to be called back to attention by a hand on his shoulder.

"Cousin."

Merry blinked and turned to face Frodo. Owl eyed, he couldn't possibly remember what Pippin had said. But he knew it had something to do with duty. He shook his head as he heard Frodo's clear laughter. "Yes? I'm supposed to be doing something for you, aren't I?"

"You're supposed to be following Pippin outside for some fresh air and then taking him home. Seeing how you two so rudely started hours before me, I'm staying here for another round. I'll see you both back at Bag End. I wouldn't take Pippin back to The Smails in the state he's in and seeing how you helped him to get into that state, you are now official Pippin-sitter."

"I don't think he quite understands the state he's in, if you catch my meaning..."Merry's awed voice caused Frodo to look where Merry was staring. Pippin was up against the wall with a mug of beer in each hand and Sapphire nearly toppling him over laughing at something he'd obviously said. "Why can't I be so lucky? He's not a clue, has he?" Merry shook his head and slapped Frodo's shoulder as he walked on over to collect the not-yet-of-age too-far-in-over-his-head Pippin. "I'll take care of our obligations, if you promise to show me some of your latest maps when you get home." Merry was not as far gone as Sam had thought him. He was bound to figure out Frodo's latest plans.

"Certainly. And I'd like to ask your opinion on something as well. There's a small matter of a plot of land I'm thinking of procuring over in Buckland. We can discuss it tonight. That is, if you're still awake."

"Oh, I'll be awake.I'm leaving now. With our cousin, mind you. I can't stand to see his virtue soiled... " Merry joked over his shoulder. "Oi, Pippin, leave some for me, will you, lad?"

Frodo walked on down to a clear section of the bar to order another round. Despite his "orders" to wait outside, Frodo soon realized Pippin was back up on the table singing. It did not help that the rest of the Pub was urging him on. Or that Merry, who was supposed to be being responsible was back up there with him! Oh, well, he'd just have watch those youngsters. Shaking his head, he danced once 'round the table singing a chorus with his two favorite cousins, and taking the ales he'd bought for himself and Sam, headed back to Sam's and The Gaffer's table. He was just in time to hear the last chorus of "Hey Ho".

Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain
And the stream that falls from hill to plain
Better than rain or a rippling brook
Is a mug o' beer in the belly of this Took!

~ END

Laws about Mills and Milling actually were very stringent in the English Middle Ages and Renaissance Periods.

* talks about Fair Trade and how you couldn't make deals with some folks that weren't applicable at all times to other folks.

** talks about how bakers were sometimes forbidden to sell flour because it could lead to a monopoly and possibly unfair trade.