This will make absolutely no sense unless you’ve read up to at least Chapter 76 of Roots of the Ivy.
Theo’s side of the story for events leading up to Chapter 76. Cue the James Bond music...
Theo’s side of the story for events leading up to Chapter 76. Cue the James Bond music...
Theo waved to the crowd outside Bag End and turned Narsil down the road towards home. He’d had fun during his week at Bag End. He was glad his father finally allowed him to make the trip by himself now that he was twelve, so he would be able to see his friends more. He hadn’t seen any of the Gamgees since his father’s birthday party. And he got to see spend time with Fari this week, too. Fari was staying at Bag End again this summer, because his dad wanted to keep him out of the mess at home.
Not that Fari wasn’t aware of what was going on. People often underestimated what Fari knew about the problems at home, him being only six and all. Theo’s grandmother would have called Fari ‘precocious’. Gran had said Theo was precocious, usually when he’d figured out something he wasn’t supposed to know about, or had just gotten into trouble in some new and creative way. His father would get upset with him, and Gran would laugh and tell his father he was getting paid back, that Theo was exactly like him and not just in looks. Theo sighed. He missed Gran.
But Fari certainly seemed to be precocious, too, and was well aware of what was going on. Well, except for the thing with Ivyand Uncle Pippin. He didn’t know about that and Theo certainly wasn’t going to tell him! But Fari knew very well that his parents hated each other. And he knew that his father and Theo’s father weren’t speaking, though he didn’t know the reason.
He felt bad for Fari. The poor lad nearly clung to Rosie during his stays at Bag End. He did the same thing with Theo’s mum when he stayed at Brandy Hall. Poor Fari had a horrible mother and Rosie and Estella would give him the hugs and kisses and praise he never got from Diamond. Theo knew he should probably be jealous of the attention his mother always showered Fari with, but he couldn’t bring himself to be jealous. He loved his little cousin dearly and wanted him to be happy, and if he had to share his mum with him, then so be it.
Theo sighed. He wished he could help him. With all his talents at being nosy and causing trouble, why couldn’t he do anything to make life just a bit better for Fari? He wished he could get his father and Uncle Pippin to be friends again. Most of all, he wished he could get rid of that old orc that Fari had to have as a mother. Then Uncle Pippin could marry Ivy and maybe they’d all be happy. Although it would be kind of strange for Fari to have Ivy as a mum. Would he be Fari’s uncle then?
Getting rid of Diamond would be a challenge, though. He knew, through his incredible talent with nosiness, that she was tumbling that old Sancho Proudfoot and that if they got caught, Uncle Pippin could divorce her and maybe even make her leave the Shire. That would make lots of people happy. But nobody had been able to catch them at it. Getting evidence of her cheating on Uncle Pippin would be hard. Quite a few hobbits had been trying for a long time to catch them together. So maybe he could do something else to get back at the old cow. Maybe a bit of personal information making the gossip rounds? Everybody has something embarassing to hide. Theo grinned and turned Narsil around, nudging him into a trot towards the road to Tuckborough. He had a plan.
“So what brings you to to Tuckborough, Theo?” Uncle Pippin asked. They were sitting in Uncle Pippin’s study.
Theo put on his best ‘worried face’. “I was on my way home from Bag End and Narsil came up lame. I wanted to put a poultice on his foot and let him rest a day or so before I continued.”
“Was it bad? I can have someone check him out for you.”
“No, no, he’s fine. Just a nasty stone.” All right, so the stone wasn’t so nasty and Theo had put it in Narsil’s hoof himself just to cause the limp. The ruse was necessary as, without Fari here, there was no reason Theo would want to stay at the Smials. Luckily, the stablemaster had been so impressed that the Master of Buckland made his children care for their own ponies that he’d left Theo alone to work on Narsil. He’d removed the stone, which didn’t even leave a scratch, and packed the poultice in so that Narsil couldn’t help but walk a little funny. He’d apologized into his pony’s ear, promising his discomfort was for a good cause.
“How’s Fari?” Uncle Pippin asked. Theo noticed how sad Uncle Pippin looked. He knew Uncle Pippin missed Fari. Fari missed his dad, too.
“He’s good.” Theo coughed. “You’ll probably be hearing some stuff. I’d just like to say right now, ‘we were nowhere near there’.” He glanced up at Uncle Pippin and was happy to see him grinning at him.
“Of course,” said Uncle Pippin. “Not that I’d know anything about being nowhere near somewhere.” He gave Theo a crooked smile. “Eomer didn’t come with you?”
“No. He’s being boring. He went up to help Uncle Freddy with some stuff at the farm this week.” Uncle Freddy only had daughters and none of them had any interest in the farm. Eomer would inherit the Bolger’s farm from Uncle Freddy.
“That ‘boring’ stuff is what fills your bottomless hobbit belly.”
“Yes, and I’m very grateful to them. I just don’t want to have to do it.”
Uncle Pippin snorted. “All right, I can agree with that. I don’t like it much either and I’m very grateful I have other hobbits to do it for me. Just don’t tell anyone?”
Theo grinned. “Not a word.”
Pippin nodded. “So how’s your parents?” he asked, trying to keep a neutral face.
“Good. Dad’s still working on his book. Mum’s still delivering babies. Same as always.”
Pippin gave a sad smile. “Yes.” He sighed, then averted his eyes. “And how’s, um, your sister?”
Theo had to work hard not to giggle at the slight blush that appeared on Uncle Pippin’s cheeks. He was smitten, as his mum would say. “Driving us all mad with her usual bossy ways.”
Pippin laughed. “You should consider yourself lucky. I’ve got four older sisters!” He stood up. “Well, if you get yourself down to the kitchen I’m sure you can get a bit of something for a late elevensies. And you can stay in Fari’s room. You’ll probably like that better than a guest room.”
“Thanks, Uncle Pippin.” Theo turned to go, then paused. Might as well make things easier on Uncle Pippin while he was here. “Um... I know what’s going on,” he said. “Ivy told me. So you don’t need to hide anything from me while I’m here.”
Uncle Pippin just nodded, a little red-faced. Theo gave him a sympathetic smile and left.
Theo made his way to the kitchens and got his elevensies. The kitchen staff were fussing over what a handsome young hobbit he was turning into, just like his father. He turned on the charm and gradually managed to turn the conversation to gossip. He was so good.
He managed to learn from the cooks, and the occasional maid who popped in, that none of them liked Diamond at all. She was rude and demanding to all the servants, her and her cousins from Long Cleeve who had moved down to be with her. The older ladies scoffed at Diamond’s attitude, noting how Eglantine Took had always made it a point to get to know the staff by name and had chatted with them and what a wonderful Mistress of Great Smials she had been. Theo half listened, nodding along, formulating his next course of action.
He had learned that Diamond always took her tea in her private parlor with her Long Cleeve cousins. Theo decided that would be his best source of embarassing information. He learned from a maid where Diamond’s parlor was, using the excuse that he wanted to avoid her. The sympathetic maid pointed out the parlor, plus a few other rooms Diamond was known to frequent.
Just before tea time, he burrowed into the bushes under the window of Diamond’s parlor and waited. Diamond and her cousins arrived and Theo endured an hour of the most mind numbing prattle he had ever been subjected to. Did all ladies talk like this? He certainly couldn’t imagine his mum or Ivy talking like this. Finally it was over, with absolutely nothing of interest learned (unless what kind of waistline looked best on Cousin Garnet was interesting to someone) and he pulled himself out of the bushes. Not one bit of gossip learned to justify the cramp in his back!
He went down to the stable to check on Narsil. Narsil looked a little grumpy, with his foot bandaged up and stuck in a stall, so Theo gave him some extra oats. Theo chatted with the stablemaster a bit, about the mearas cross ponies his father was breeding, then made his way back to the Smials, disappointed that he’d learned nothing that day.
He spent the next morning in Uncle Pippin’s study, nose in a book. Uncle Pippin had quite the collection, especially after he got the books from Rivendell. Ivy had been teaching him a bit of Sindarin, but Theo didn’t know enough to be able read much of anything yet. Luckily, there were some translations and he immersed himself in an account of the first war against Sauron.
He was hoping to avoid direct contact with Diamond while he was here at the Smials but, just as he got to the exciting part when King Elendil faced the evil creature, Diamond came storming into the study, obviously looking to yell at Uncle Pippin.
“What are you doing here?” she snapped.
“Reading,” said Theo, not even looking up from his book.
“I see that. What are you doing in Tuckborough?”
Theo looked up at her and raised an eyebrow. “Um, reading?” Diamond glared daggers at him and Theo bit his lip to hold back the laughter, trying to keep his face neutral.
“You should mind your elders and show some respect when you’re asked a question!” she snapped.
He shrugged and turned back to his book. “You asked what I was doing. I told you. I’m reading. Now, if you want to know why I’m in Tuckborough, well...” He looked up and smiled sweetly at her. “That’s really none of your business.”
She scowled, her face going slightly red. “Maybe I should write your father and tell him what a rude young hobbit you are.”
Theo snorted. “Go ahead. I’ll even deliver the letter for you, if you like.” He set his book down and started to get up. “Would you like me to find a parchment and pen for you?”
Diamond clenched her jaw, turned on her heel, and left the study. Theo snorted. Like his dad would care what the old cow had to say.
Theo settled in for another tea time wait. He knew that it was a long shot, getting any embarassing information from these conversations, but he had to try. He wished they’d talk about something other than fashion or the lads her cousins liked. He wouldn’t be able to use Narsil’s lameness for more than another couple days. After that, people would want to check out the pony’s foot themselves.
He amused himself with watching a spider build a web until he heard the ladies come in.
“I got a note from Sancho this morning!” Diamond’s excited voice was followed by the squeals of her cousins. Theo sat up straight, nearly cracking his head on the window planter. No, he couldn’t be this lucky...
“He’s arranged for us to meet. I’ll say I’m going for a visit to Long Cleeve, but I’ll be going to the Proudfoot’s summer cottage instead. We’ll have at least two days to ourselves!”
More squeals from the cousins. Theo held his breath. When? When?
“When?” a cousin asked, and Theo was certain at that moment that Eru meant for him to rat out Diamond.
“The eighth of September,” said Diamond and Theo let his breath out. He couldn’t believe this. He was getting dizzy and realized he was hyperventilating. Breathe. Breathe. He slumped against the wall of the smial. He had done it. He could make Fari and Uncle Pippin and Ivy and a good number of the residents of the Great Smials happy again. He could get Diamond.
Theo carefully considered how to use this information and decided it would be best to tell someone here in Tuckborough. Not Uncle Pippin. He knew enough from listening to his father talk that you needed witnesses to resolve things. Pippin was directly involved. Reginard Took would be best. He was the next ranking Took cousin and he had helped Uncle Pippin a lot, when Uncle Pippin had been drinking too much.
Theo got a parchment and pen from Uncle Pippin’s desk and wrote out his note, trying to remember how adults wrote things. He’d sneaked a peek at a few letters on his father’s desk. They had to think it was an adult who wrote it, or else they may not believe him. When he was finished he held up the page proudly. Even his penmanship looked adult.
I have learned that Diamond Took will be meeting Sancho Proudfoot on the eighth of September at the Proudfoot’s summer cottage. She will be telling everyone she is going to Long Cleeve for a visit.
A concerned hobbit
Theo put the pen and ink away, then went back to Fari’s room. When the ink was dry, he carefully folded the paper. Tonight, he’d deliver the letter.
He hid the letter in Fari’s desk--he didn’t want a maid to find it during her cleaning--then went out to the stable to take the poultice off poor Narsil. Narsil stamped his foot, glad to have the mass of bandages off. “Thanks, boy,” Theo whispered into the pony’s ear. “It was worth it. I promise.” Theo patted his neck and turned him out into the paddock to burn off some energy from his days locked up in the stable.
Now he had to wait. It was difficult going through the rest of the day, not being able to tell everyone what he’d discovered. He had the longest wait of his life for Great Smials to settle down that night. Around midnight, he tiptoed from his room, through the empty hallways, and slipped the incriminating letter under Reg’s door.
Take that, you old orc! Theo thought as the paper disappeared into the room. He grinned, quite pleased with himself, and crept back to his room.
Theo went to breakfast the next morning stifling yawns from a sleepless night. He had been too nervous to sleep, wondering when Reg would get his letter and what he would do with the information. He just hoped Reg believed the letter.
The large dining room wasn’t very busy this time of morning, and there were plent of empy seats at the table. Theo surveyed those already at breakfast and spotted Reginard, Everard and Ferdibrand with their heads bent together in whispered conversation. The cousins made frequent glances at Pippin, who was eating with his sisters at one end of the long table, and at Diamond, eating with her cousins at the other end. Theo took a seat and had to concentrate on his toast to keep himself from watching them.
He did sneak a few peeks, however, and he saw the three hobbits finish their conversation, glance down at Diamond, then look at each other, grinning broadly.
Theo grinned, too, and dug into his breakfast. Things seemed to be going very well indeed.
Theo led Narsil out to the yard, where Uncle Pippin was waiting to see him off.
“You can’t even tell he was injured,” said Pippin.
Theo patted Narsil. “He’s a quick healer.”
“Well, it was good to see you, Theo.” Uncle Pippin embraced him. “I miss you Brandybucks.” He sighed sadly. “I hope things get better soon.”
Theo stepped back and smiled. “I’m sure they will, Uncle Pippin.”