Of Enwives And Hobbits
Chapter 1 - Was that an Ent?
Pippin was dozing in the living room of Bag End while Merry peered out the window. They had landed the chore of house-sitting while Samwise and Rose Gamgee took their child to the Sea. A year or so after the Scouring of the Shire, sudden growth had burst from every place imaginable. The Hobbits had been delighted and thought nothing of it. However, Meriadoc Brandybuck was thinking this over.
"How odd," Merry muttered. "That we have sudden growth in our fallow lands."
He squinted out over the Shire and tried to make out New Row in the heavy mist which had fallen early last night. Already, the sun was rising, ready to drive the mists away - if the weather allowed it. Merry looked back over at Pippin who had taken refuge in an armchair. Merry recalled that Frodo had once sat in that very chair every night since returning from Mordor...until he left once more, never to return.
Merry shivered, turning his eyes back outside again. He imagined he could see New Row and its many occupants, but his eyes still deceived him. He decided that nothing could be seen and was about to turn away when he saw something that made him blink.
A large figure was looming out there.
At first Merry thought it was a Man, or an Elf, but it seemed larger than that. His eyes widened and he said to himself, "Unless I am mistaken, that was an Ent!"
But even so, he was cautious. He didn't think Treebeard would come this way - not even some of his younger Ent companions. Mr Brandybuck grabbed his Elven cloak off the hat stand and threw it over himself, throwing open the rounded door.
"Hello?" he called out. "Is anyone out there?"
Grabbing a lantern from the table by the door, he lit it and hurried outside, moving his lantern around in the gloom. Suddenly, the air seemed very still, close against his face. No sound was to be heard, and nothing to been seen. The mist was so think he couldn't see Bag End from the gate. An unmistakable thud shook the ground at his feet. Merry crept forwards to where he thought the sound had come from.
He called out once more, "Is anyone out there?"
It came again, followed by numerous thuds, each growing more faint. Merry ran blindly after it, casting his lantern aside. He knew he couldn't keep up, but his curiosity drove him ever forward. As he ran, he heard the continuous dread of something far larger than an Elf or Man. Finally, he admitted defeat and leant on a post for support. He then realised he was very alone and that he could see nothing through the mist. Cursing loudly, he turned around and attempted to retrace his steps.
He didn't arrive back at Bag End until the sun had risen high at midday, chasing all the mist away. Of course, he was very hungry, having missed a few meals.
"Where have you been?" demanded Pippin.
Merry found he was almost too excited to speak. "You'll never believe me, Peregrin Took. I was chasing an Ent."
Pippin raised an eyebrow. "Am I supposed to believe you?"
Merry wasn't going to answer that one. He suddenly became very interested with what Pippin had prepared for lunch. Pippin sat down and looked levelly at Merry. "You might ruin our reputations as the best bachelors in the Shire if you go on dithering about things like that."
"So?" Merry said around a mouthful of food. "I'm not looking for a companion. You are."
His friend, a little hurt, stood up abruptly and left the room. Meriadoc finished off his lunch and looked around the kitchen for any left overs. He found Pippin rummaging through a cupboard in search of something. Pippin straightened up, a small drawstring bag in his hand. With his other hand, he whipped out his pipe and proceeded to fill his pipe up with the weed he had found.
"Leave some for me," Merry reminded him absently.
"As if!" chortled Pippin. "You never leave me any."
The other Hobbit snapped back to himself. He turned to Peregrin, challenging, "Tomorrow morning, will you accompany me in finding this Ent?"
Pippin puffed a few moments. "If only to prove there are no Ents in the area, I will come along," he sniggered.
Lying on his stomach in the expansive garden of Bag End, Pippin complained that he was hungry. Merry peered at him through a heavy mist. "You don't usually eat anything this early."
"Because I'm usually asleep," pointed out Mr Took.
Merry snorted, but no his attention was on the still gardens of Bag End. He suddenly noticed a tree he could have sworn wasn't there the previous day. Carefully, he wriggled forward, trying to avoid being detected. But at once he knew this had failed, for the tree swung a limb in his direction, missing him by inches.
"Hey you!" Merry called, struck by sudden inspiration. "Are you an Ent?"
The tree seemed to pause, the placed two of it's large feet together and a loud bellow rang out over Hobbiton. Merry and Pippin covered there ears as it echoed. When they had recovered, the Ent had vanished.