The lock clicked, and Pippin entered the parlor that had housed the Old Took. He peered through the dust--saw the painting over the mantel of boats with baggage roped to a foreign wharf, by a figure of the Haradri monkey god holding a crescent moon. A dusty violin, bow, and tuning fork lay on the round table by Gerontius’s chair with an empty bottle and crystal goblet. Over the sofa hung a still life of a pomegranate, a cookie, a peach split to show its seed, and a slice of bread on a snowy cloth.
A sunbeam slipped through a hole in the curtains, illuminating a desk on which lay some money, a pendant, and a vase of feathers from a pheasant’s tail. On the blotter lay a faded sheet of vellum, an ancient letter.
Dear Father, it began.
It ended, Please forgive me! Hildifons.
“Thain Gerontius, I understand.”