A/N: This is a homage to my dad's absolute inability to park the car in a place where I can safely get into it without being attacked by a rampant holly bush.
A Day's Journey
Pippin was excited; he was going to Buckland! He'd been looking forward to it ever since it had been organised a number of months ago and now the day had come, he was all packed and ready and awaiting the carriage. This was the second stage of their journey, the first being a leisurely trip to Woodhall where they were now and now they were moving on towards Buckland. Pippin was a little worried about the journey though, their usual carriage driver had taken ill and so that meant Pippin's father had control of the carriage and last time that had happened the carriage had lost a wheel (though Paladin claimed it to be no fault of his). The journey had gone smoothly the previous day though, Pippin reasoned and there was nothing stopping it going smoothly today, or so he thought.
Pippin was right about the first half of the journey, that did go as well as could be expected (the only problem being the heat) and Pippin's hopes for an uneventful and quick journey were rising. That was, until they were just out of Stock when his father slowed the cart down.
"Paladin dear?" Said Pippin's mother, Eglantine, "Why are we stopping?" She was very alert of what her husband was doing as she was well aware of what he was like in charge of carriages and though everything had gone to plan so far she wasn't about to let him spoil it.
"We're not stopping," explained Paladin from up front, "We're turning onto a short cut Saradoc told me about last time we were at Brandy Hall." Eglantine stood up to get closer to the driver's seat so she could perhaps poke him through the hole that was there so passengers could communicate with the driver. Of course when the driver is Paladin some times that hole seems a little pointless.
"Oh no you don't Paladin! The road is a perfectly good way to go, we've always used it and it's served us well, why stop using it now?"
"Because this is a better way." stated Paladin simply. Pippin was torn between getting to Brandy Hall quicker and knowing where these ideas of his father usually ended up. His sisters looked as though they were thinking the same.
"How do you know that?" persisted Eglantine even though they were now well down this short cut and it didn't look to be wide enough for the carriage to be able to turn around.
"Saradoc told me that it can take hours off travelling time!" Paladin sounded like he was advertising his wares at a market.
"It's awfully bumpy!" said Pimpernel.
"Is it suitable for carriages? Are you sure Saradoc wasn't talking about horse riders or walkers?"
"I think it's alright for carriages," the ones inside the carriage turned to look at each other, each face showing the pure horror at Paladin's words.
"You think it's alright? You mean you don't know! Paladin next chance you get you're turning this thing around and we're going the usual way!" Eglantine received no answer, which wasn't a good sign but she had done all she could do and now their fate was in the hands of her husband. Pippin sank down in his seat.
"Am I ever going to see Merry again mummy?" he looked up at her, his face a mask of disappointment, he knew there was only a slight chance that his father was correct, as if this path was suitable for carriages then their usual driver would probably know about it.
"Yes of course you will!" said Eglantine, moving over to comfort her son, "Just perhaps not today." Pimpernel took Pippin's hand in hers to let him know that everyone else was feeling the same.
"Oh and to top it all off it's positively sweltering in here!" said Pervinca, letting her frustration get the better of her. Pearl opened the window as wide as it would go but that didn't do very much. Pippin, however, thought he may as well find something to enjoy today and stuck his head out of the window. The breeze was certainly refreshing but the view was neither very good nor very promising. There were trees right at the very edge of the road and as Pippin looked up ahead it was much the same. They continued like this for a little while, his sisters and mother attempting cheerful banter inside.
But then Pippin saw something up ahead and ducked inside to tell his mother.
"Mummy! There's a gap in the hedge up ahead! We can turn around!" the faces of all brightened at this news; perhaps they could get there today after all, granted it would be after nightfall, but still.
"You hear that Paladin? You turn this carriage around! Paladin!" shouted Eglantine. Pippin stuck his head out of the window again and his mother was at the other side of the carriage to watch whatever it was that Paladin would do. As they neared the gap the speed of the carriage changed none and hope inside of it slowly faded.
"Pippin! Get back inside! Now!" shouted Eglantine.
"Pardon?" Pippin turned to look at his mother but didn't get back in. Pearl grabbed his waist and pulled him back inside just before a branch whipped past the window, scraping all along the side of the carriage.
"Pearl! What was that for?" said Pippin indignantly, she had given him quite a jump, pulling him so suddenly. Pearl just pointed back to the window where branches were now hitting it quite often. Pippin's mouth formed an O of understanding, this didn't look good.
"Paladin!" cried Eglantine, "This path is too narrow! We'll never be able to fit through!"
"Nonsense!" came the confident reply, "It'll get wider!"
"I think the trees will beg to differ!" said Eglantine. Pippin was now sitting on her lap as all the occupants tried to squash to the middle of the seats, avoiding the fierce branches at the windows.
The speed of the carriage dropped though it was nothing to do with anything Eglantine had said nor did it mean Paladin had any intention of stopping. It was just that the ponies were finding it harder to pick their way through the potholes and pull the carriage against all the branches that were trying so hard to stop them.
"PALADIN!" screamed Eglantine at the top of her lungs as she finally lost her temper. "Stop this carriage now! We are getting out!" at long last the carriage slowed and stopped. Paladin knew when he had pushed his wife too far; he did it quite often.
"Mum!" said Pearl in a panicked voice, "I can't open the door!"
"I can't open this one either!" said Pervinca trying the door on the other side of the carriage. Indeed, the doors were wedged shut by the multitude of branches pushing against them.
"We could climb out." offered Pippin, then he looked at the four of them, they were all wearing their best dresses, "I could climb out." He looked out of the only window it was remotely possible to climb out of, the other was stuffed with tree. "It's an awfully long way down though," he said, peering down at the ground.
"Worry not my little twot," said Paladin, "I'll lift you out." Paladin climbed around to the side of the carriage (there wasn't enough room to walk) and lifted Pippin from where he was perched in the window, nearly dropping him once but managed to get him safely to the ground in the end. "Now," said Paladin, "You must take this pony and ride to Brandy Hall where you can get help."
"Why do I have to ride? Can't I run?" Paladin knelt down to Pippin's level and whispered to him.
"I'm not sure how far away Brandy Hall is, it may be running distance but then again it may not." It was good to hear his father admitting he was wrong, thought Pippin.
"Why do I have to? Surely you want to get away from Mummy?" Paladin seemed to think for a moment.
"That is tempting but I can't stand riding bareback and I know you don't mind it."
"But I've only ever walked while riding bareback!" said Pippin, just in case his father didn't know that.
"Well, no time like the present!" He lifted down a bridle from a hook on the driver's seat and handed it to his son and went about detaching one of the ponies from the carriage.
"Pippin dear!" called Eglantine from where she was trapped inside the carriage, there was no doubt that she'd heard Paladin's plan. "Come take your dinner!" Pippin scrambled up to the driver's seat with the bridle slung over his shoulder, he took the package from his mother and the drink, "Good luck!" she said, knowing that Pippin didn't hold much confidence in his bareback riding.
"And please hurry! I don't think I could stand too long in here with Pimpy." said Pervinca, it seemed that they had managed to get into an argument in the short time since Pippin had left the carriage.
"Don't call me that!"
"Girls! Behave yourselves!"
"Pippin! I need that bridle now!" Pippin quickly thanked his mother and assured his sisters that he would be quick (especially the long-suffering Pearl) and hopped down to the ground.
"Daddy, why do you even have a bridle?"
"I'm not sure, someone must have put it there." Pippin silently thanked whoever it was as his father lifted him onto the pony.
His father bid him farewell and Pippin trotted off, though as soon he was out of sight he stopped trotting as it was very bumpy and he didn't think he could stay on.
The journey was very uneventful other than the path getting continuously smaller. He was now walking down a tunnel of trees and for some time he had been hearing the faint noise of running water, hopefully it was the Brandywine or else he'd have no idea where he was.
The noise became louder and the trees abruptly stopped at the banks of a stream. It was deep but hopefully not too deep for fording, it was hard to tell for all the bullrushes.
Pippin urged the pony forward into the stream. Luckily at its deepest point only Pippin's feet were dragging in the water, which was quite pleasant on such a hot day. This seemed to be a day of firsts, he had trotted bareback and was now fording a stream.
Once he was out of the other side he decided that he would try trotting again. He did and he managed to keep himself balanced on the pony's back. Then he decided trotting was too uncomfortable and was taking too long so he urged the pony into a canter, another first. After a long while the path became too narrow and the branches over his head too low for him to carry on cantering, not to mention his pony was getting quite tired. Pippin had to duck as they went under the trees and his pony took the opportunity to grab a mouthful or five of leaves.
The trees stopped abruptly and Pippin found himself at long last on an open road. The sun had passed its zenith and was now well on its way down towards the horizon. Pippin looked one way along the road and found it empty, he looked the other way and found the Brandywine, the road ending in a broad landing platform and beyond that he could see the hill of Brandy Hall. The Buckleberry ferry! Pippin now knew where he was at least. But he couldn't use the ferry on his own, and it wasn't tethered to the platform anyway. Pippin looked a little further and saw that someone was already halfway across with their own pony. Pippin trotted to the landing platform and dismounted.
"Sir!" he called, "Excuse me sir!"
"Aye, what is it?" said the hobbit without turning around.
"If it wouldn't be too much trouble sir, would you mind coming back and helping me across? Only I've only ever been on it twice and never on my own."
"Just give me a moment and let me tie my pony up this side then I'll come back for you."
Another ten minutes and the hobbit was back on the west bank of the Brandywine with Pippin, a few more minutes of coaxing the pony onto the ferry and they set off.
"What are you doing with a pony and no saddle?" asked the hobbit if only to start a conversation.
"It's a long story but basically the rest of my family is stuck somewhere just beyond Stock in a carriage and I've been sent to Brandy Hall to get help."
"That's certainly a strange story, what's your name lad?"
"Peregrin Took, which some would say may explain the oddness of the story." Pippin ended with a smile.
"Peregrin Took! Helping the Master of Buckland's own nephew across the Brandywine! There's something I can tell my sons tonight, though I doubt they'll believe me. Ah well, if I ever see you again and I'm with my sons, you'll tell them that I helped you won't you?"
"Or even better, you could tell my wife that I'm not completely useless."
"You are most certainly not, I don't know what I would have done had you not been here, even if the ferry was on the right side of the river." The ferry came to a halt at the other side of the river and the hobbit lashed it to the bollards on the end of the landing platform. "One last thing, you wouldn't mind helping me onto my pony would you?" Of course, the hobbit agreed and in no time at all Pippin was once again cantering towards Brandy Hall.
At long last, when the sun was only a few inches above the horizon, Pippin came, sweating, thirsty and very tired to the front door of Brandy Hall. No sooner than he raised his hand to knock did the door open to reveal a rather worried Merry.
"Pippin!" he cried as he caught him up in a hug, "Where is everyone?" Merry looked him over and Pippin realised he was probably quite dirty from any dirt in the air clinging to his sweaty body, not to mention that his shirt was half undone to help keep him cool. There were probably twigs in his hair as well.
"Yes, well, that's quite a story..." Pippin explained the story to Merry then again to his uncle Saradoc, who went out to find his family with a strong group of lads, and then at least another three times to various other relations.
At long last Pippin was able to do what he'd been looking forward to all day; settling down in a chair with Merry, food and a drink and even better, with no sisters or parents to interrupt.
For once, as far as Pippin was concerned, one of his father's plans had gone well.
FIN"Worry not my little twot" is not a spelling mistake, just something my dad used to say to me.