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A Deck of Heroes
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14 - Strength


Saradoc Brandybuck watched his wife deal courteously with the messengers whod come from the Kings Bridge to bring the news that their son, nephew, cousin, and Frodos gardener had returned, and had succeeded in turning the Shiriff House there upon its ear.

You should see them! gasped out Fred Oldbuck. Ive never seen outfits such as theyre wearing! Your Merry--Id not have recognized him if Id not heard him speak! All in greens and golds, but in leather and fabrics Ive never seen before in my life! And swords--they all have swords, you see. And shields, or at least Merry and Pippin do. As for Frodo Baggins--him and his friend from Hobbiton are all got up like princes from one of the storybooks he used to read to us when we were younger.

And Pippin--hes well? asked Esmeralda.

Oy, is he! And hes grown--him and your Merry both--quite the tallest Hobbits Ive ever seen! Their hairs grown some, too--past their shoulders, both of them, and Ill swear twice as curly as it ever was before!

Sara asked, Are they coming here first? We should tell them what weve learned about how these ruffians of Lothos act....

But Fred was shaking his head. No--theyre going straight to Hobbiton. Frodo was saying that they needed to confront Lotho himself, that the family needs to put him in his proper place.

Esme nodded, and stood to see to it he and his companions were served a proper meal and a good ration of the Halls best brandy. How could Saradoc help but love and respect her, knowing she would see first to the needs of their folk and their guests, even though he knew that what she really wanted to do was to run all the way to wherever it was along the Road the wanderers had reached and confront--and hug and scold--the four of them for a good hour or two?

Hed married the strongest and most gracious Hobbitess within the Shire--of that he was certain.


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