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Many Happy Returns  by Grey Wonderer

Chapter 10††††††††††††††††††††††† "Battling the Bullroarer"

Saradoc and Fredegar had found a quiet place outside in the small garden below the Thainís study to smoke their pipes. Neither had wanted to join the party just now. Fredegar liked parties well enough but he was enjoying Saradosís company and he knew that the older hobbit was not in the mood for a party just now.

The two of them seated themselves on a little stone bench and smoked in companionable silence.

While they sat there, the old healer, Marcus†Grubb and Samwise Gamgee made their way outside and stood a small distance from them leaning against some trees. "Why donít you go and speak with Sam, Fredegar," Saradoc smiled, following the younger hobbit's gaze. "I could use a few minutes alone just now."

"Are you sure that youíre alright?" Fredegar asked.

"Oh, Iím fine Freddy. I just feel like a few minutes alone," Saradoc assured him. "Itís been a very long couple of weeks. I think Iíll just sit here and enjoy the garden and be grateful for Merryís recovery."

Fredegar smiled and crossed the garden to join Sam and old Mister Grubb."Why arenít you two inside?" Freddy greeted them. "Pippin hasnít had another interesting mishap has he?"

"Funny you should ask," Marcus said. "That one seems determined to keep me in patients just lately. First his cousin and now that young Chubb lass, whatís her name?" He looked at Sam.

"Lilac, I believe, sir," Sam supplied.

"Yes thatís the one," Marcus nodded. "Seems that young Master Pippinís gone into the life-saving business, Fredegar. Pulled another one away from the reaper this evening."

"What now?" Fredegar asked.

Sam and Marcus filled him in on Lilacís near-choking and Pippinís rescue. Then Marcus smiled. "It wasnít anything compared to what happened with the Brandybuck lad. I donít believe Iíve seen that much blood save for a few times in my life as a healer. That lad is lucky to still be among the living is what he is."

Fredegar looked over in Saradocís direction, hoping that he wasnít able to hear them just now. He was relieved to see that Saradoc had gone inside. With that concern out of his way, Fredegar asked, "Just what did happen with Merry? Iíd heard that he suffered a very deep cut and blood loss but no one has given me much more of the story than that."

Sam nodded. "Mister Frodo said that Mister Merry would have died if it werenít for Mister Pippin, but Iím afraid I donít know too much either."

Marcus sighed, "Of course you have to realize that I wasnít there when it first happened, lads. They sent for me after. I got the main part of the story from Master Pippin who was in a right state, donít you know. That lad was so covered in blood when I came on them that I wasnít sure which was the injured hobbit. I even suspected at first that they might both be bleeding. Looked to be too much blood for one hobbit."

Sam shivered. "Mister Merry seems in such fine spirits now, but he doesnít speak of it."

"I suspect not," Marcus sighed. "I would have lost that lad if his cousin didnít know a thing or two about serious injuries. Must have been from their time away because few here would have known to do what Master Pippin did."

Sam nodded. He knew more than he wanted to know about injuries and blood from their time away as old Marcus put it. Mister Pippin had spent time in the healing tents and so†Sam suspected that†Mister Pippin†had†picked up a thing or two there. At any rate, everyone seemed to agree that Mister Pippin had saved Mister Merryís life.

"From what I got from the young Took and from Merry Brandybuck once he came around and what I saw once I got to them, this is what I know," Marcus Grubb said.

_______________________________________

"What is it?" Merry asked, Looking at the rather large sheet of glass that was leaning against the wall in the barn.

"Well, itís pretentious according to mum," Pippin said, grinning.

"Oh?" Merry knelt down in front of the glass for a closer look. "I will attempt a guess and say that this belongs to your father then."

"Youíd be right," Pippin sighed. "Dreadful isnít it?"

"Well, it certainly is large," Merry said, not sure he should commit to dreadful just yet. Without further examination, it might be unwise to label this object as dreadful. He studied the large multi-colored pane of glass intently. The glass was made up of small sections in various shapes that formed a picture of a rather imposing looking hobbit on an impressive pony or horse or something from that group of equines. The hobbit held a bow in one hand and the ponyís reins in his other hand. He had a fierce scowl on his face and the pony looked nearly as wicked as the mounts of the Nazgul had looked before they were washed away by the combined magic of Lord Elrond and Gandlaf.

"Who is this supposed to be?" Merry asked, hoping that it wasnít supposed to be Pippinís father.

"Why, Meriadoc Brandybuck, donít you recognize Bandobras Took? Thatís the Bullroarer himself," Pippin said, pretending to be shocked that Merry hadnít known this.

"Oh, my," Merry said. "The Bullroarer looks a bit too full of himself doesnít he?"

"The Bullroarer looks like a very evil hobbit in that painting on the glass and his horse looks like the sort to trample small hobbits under itís hooves," Pippin said, shaking his head. "It goes without saying that my father loves this painting."

Merry laughed. "What does he plan to do with it? Is he going to leave it out here in the barn? I hope not because I think it will frighten the ponies."

"Oh, no, he plans to have it installed in place of the window that is in his study now," Pippin sighed. "This dreadful thing will cover the lovely window that looks out of his study into that nice little garden. You wonít be able to see the little garden anymore, just the Bullroarer and his evil steed."

"Why would anyone want a window that you can't see through?" Merry asked, scratching his head.

"I donít know," Pippin said. "Seems like such a shame to block the view of the garden. The window will be right behind fatherís desk and so when anyone comes to see him on business, they will have to face the Bullroarer as well as my father."

"That should decrease the amount of visitors that your father receives," Merry said. "Oh, and just think, Pip. Some day this lovely piece of glass will be yours!í

"Oh, no it wonít," Pippin said. "No, I plan to pay some lad with a good arm to throw a rock through the Bullroarer as soon as I become the Thain. Iím not having that looking over my shoulder all day."

"Good thinking, cousin," Merry grinned and started to get up. He was tired of being eye to eye with this unflattering image of Pippinís ancestor.

Suddenly, there was a commotion just behind him and as Merry stood and turned he noticed that a pony was coming straight for him. "Merry, look out!" Pippin yelled. Pippin was standing across from him and Merry reached out and shoved his cousin out of the way as the pony charged into the barn. Two hobbits were chasing after it with ropes in hand. It must be a new pony that the stable hands were trying to break to a saddle. Merry saw, with relief, that Pippin was on his feet and out of the ponyís way. The animal bolted into the barn and reared up next to Merry who dodged out of itís way.

The two hobbits who had been in pursuit of the animal now caught up and began trying to gain control of it as it snorted and tossed itís head in anger. Merry was very close to the pony but there wasnít anywhere to go at the moment. He was caught between the pony and the Bullroarer. He had a second to reflect that he wasnít sure which looked angrier and then he was forced into the multi-colored glass panel as the flank of the pony hit him hard in the shoulder.

The pony raced head-long into the barn with the two hobbits waving and yelling and running after it heedless of Merry who was now laying on the barn floor amid the shattered remains of the Bullroarerís image. Pippin, still on his feet in spite of everything, came over to Merryís side and knelt carefully next to his cousin."I think this might have worked out better than your rock idea, Pip," Merry said, trying to raise up a bit. "Itís cost you less at any rate."

Pippin snickered. "This is not going to go over very well with father." He then frowned and looked over at Merry who was becoming just a bit too pale. "Merry, whatís wrong? Are you hurt?" He laid his hand on Merryís shoulder and began to look him over critically. Something wasnít right and he was beginning to get a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. There was glass everywhere and, and blood! Merryís blood. "Merry, youíre bleeding."

"I donít feel too well, Pippin," Merry admitted. "You might want to help me into the smail. There is a rather sharp pain running down my right leg and-" Merry stopped speaking. He had raised his hand away from where it had been against his right thigh and was holding it at eye-level. His hand was covered in blood. He and Pippin now looked down at Merryís leg and saw that it was covered in blood also. Blood seemed to be pouring out of Merry at an alarming rate. Merry could feel himself becoming light-headed and sick. "Pippin, I think Iím going to pass out," he murmured, faintly. His own voice sounded strange to his ears and he leaned his weight against Pippinís shoulder.

"Oh, no you donít, Meriadoc," Pippin objected in a voice that was far too loud and far too high to disguise the worry in it. Pippin supported Merry while removing his own jacket and attempting to wrap it around Merryís thigh. He had to stop this bleeding quickly. "Someone get a healer now!" Pippin yelled at full volume.

It kept Merry from passing out because Pip was so close to his ear but it did nothing to calm Merryís fears. He was dying! He was truly dying in the Tookís barn! He was bleeding to death from wounds inflicted on him by the glass image of the Bullroarer! A small bark of a laugh escaped him and he mumbled to Pippin. "Looks like the Bullroarer has slain another."

"The Bullroarer looks far worse at present than you do, Merry," Pippin said, softly, puling his scarf from around his neck and wrapping it around the upper part of Merryís thigh. Heíd seen this done once in Minas Tirith. He only hoped it didnít have the same end results as it had that time. It had stopped the blood, but the lad on which the healers had used this method,†had lost his leg. "Please let this be the right thing to do. Please let me stay calm enough to save Merry. Please." Pippin was talking softly to himself and he had no idea that he was saying anything out loud. He twisted his scarf tightly around Merryís leg until he heard Merry groan.

"Easy, Pip," Merry managed through the fog that seemed to be filling his eyes. "Donít panic, youíre doing just fine."

Pippin laughed, weakly. It was so like Merry to encourage him and to help him, even now. "Sit still, Merry. You and I will best the Bullroarer yet. Heís not winning this battle." Pippin watched as the blood flow began to slow. "Itís working, Merry. Youíre going to be fine," Pippin said, as relief flooded through him. Merry didnít hear him just now, heíd passed out against Pippinís shoulder thinking of the two of them beating the Bullroarer.

"Help! Someone get help!" Pippin was fairly screaming now and from behind him he could hear footsteps approaching. He continued to scream for help until one of the hobbits that had been chasing the pony arrived, looked down at the two cousins seated on the barn floor surrounded by all of the colored shards of glass and blood, and nearly emptied his stomach. "Get a healer now!" Pippinís voice was strained, but commanding and the other hobbit ran off in search of help.

Pippin sat there, cradling Merryís head against his shoulder and keeping the scarf twisted tightly against Merryís thigh. It seemed that they sat that way for ages and waited. Pippin listened to his own heat pounding in his ears and Merryís faint breathing. There was so much blood. Pippinís coat was soaked with it as was Merryís trouser-leg. When the healer and several others arrived, they couldnít tell which hobbit was bleeding. Both were covered in blood and very pale.

Before anyone could ask, Pippin spoke, "Do something. Merryís right thigh is cut deeply and he's lost a great deal of blood. I think heís stopped bleeding, but if I let go of this scarf, I suspect that it will likely start again. I donít know what to do."

The healer, Marcus Grubb, knelt beside of Pippin and began taking stock of the situation. "Hold fast to that scarf of yours, Master Pippin. Youíre doing a fine job. Now, just let me have a look see." Marcus checked Merryís breathing and then moved on to†examin†the wound. As he examined the young Brandybuck, he gave orders to others around them while Pippin concentrated all of his efforts on keeping pressure on the scarf. At some point, Alford Took and Pearl pulled Pippin to his feet and moved him back from Merry. Pippin was still holding the blood-soaked scarf in his hands. The healers had managed to clean and stitch Merryís wounds and Pippin and his scarf had been relieved of their task. Now Merry was in the hands of the healers and Pippin could only watch and hope.

_____________________________________

"Pippin?" Merry sat up as far as he was able. He looked confused and a bit panicky.

Esmeralda ran a hand through her sonís hair and whispered, "Itís alright, Merry-lad. Iím here and Pippin is still celebrating his birthday. You rest."

"I guess I was dreaming again," Merry said, softly and lay back down. "Pippin and I were in the barn again fighting the Bullroarer."

"Go back to sleep, dearest," Esmeralda smiled. "You and Pippin won that one."





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