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Dreamflower's Mathoms I  by Dreamflower

For hobbit_ficathon on LJ:

 "This week's challenge is to incorporate these three elements -- a block of wood, a fishing pole, and a cat -- into a story, pre, during or post-quest. Have fun!"

So, here's a bit of fluff:

MORNING AT BUCKLEBURY FERRY

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Merry is 17 and Pippin is 9 (or 11 and 6 in Man Years)

Merimac glanced up as he heard the patter of feet coming out onto the dock of the Ferry. Ah, just young Merry and Pippin, equipped with their fishing poles. His eyes turned back to the block of wood he was whittling.

“Merry, I don’t see why we can’t go out in one of the boats to fish!” exclaimed Pippin.

“Because my mother does not think you are old enough to be out on the water without an adult, or at least a tween, along.”

“Well, that’s no fair! She’d let *you* go out without someone older!”

“Not alone, she wouldn’t. Come on, now, Pip, we can have a good time fishing from the dock!”

“It’s not the same,” he muttered, determined to hold on to his grievance. “I wish *Frodo* were here! She’d let us go then!”

“I’m sure she would, Pip, but Frodo’s *not* here. Besides, if you’ll recall, he’s not so terribly fond of boats as all that. Makes him gloomy.” Actually “gloomy” was a mild word for the look of sad desperation Merry had seen on Frodo’s face the few times he’d been coaxed into boating. He sighed. Even after nearly ten years, he still missed having Frodo living at the Hall.

“Oh! Merry! I’m sorry! I forgot!” Pip dropped his pole and gave Merry a fierce hug.

Merry tousled the chestnut curls. “No harm, Pip, he’s not here anyway. Now pick up your pole, and let’s see if we can’t catch a few fish.”

Merimac watched out of the corner of his eye as the two lads settled down at the other end of the dock. Merry very patiently baited Pippin’s hook, as the younger lad was afraid of hurting the worm. Once he had Pippin’s line safely in the water, he took up his own hook, baited it, and cast it out into the River. Merry was quite a good young angler.

But Mac did not expect the serene and peaceful picture of two little lads fishing to last very long. In only a few minutes, Pippin’s feet began to swing back and forth, and he began to twitch. “Merry! The fish aren’t biting!”

Merry sighed. “You have to give them some time, Pip. They probably have not noticed yet.”

“Well, I think the fish are very slow if they can’t see such a big worm as that hanging in the water.” His feet now started to jig up and down.

Merry rolled his eyes. “Why don’t you sing something for me Pip?”

Pippin’s face brightened up immediately. “Oh! All right!” He closed his eyes for a moment, and then in his clear childish voice began to sing a familiar nursery song:

“All along the backwater,
Through the rushes tall,
Ducks are a-dabbling,
Up tails all!
Ducks' tails, drakes' tails,
Yellow feet a-quiver,
Yellow bills all out of sight
Busy in the river!
Slushy green undergrowth
Where the roach swim--
Here we keep our larder,
Cool and full and dim.
Everyone for what he likes!
WE like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!
High in the blue above
Swifts whirl and call--
WE are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!”*

Merry was listening with a contented smile. A singing Pippin was not a fidgety Pippin. Merimac grinned and enjoyed the sound of his little cousin’s singing as well. The friendship between the two was amazing to casual observers, who could not understand how Merry could be so fond of the company of a little lad so much younger, not to mention of such a trying temperament. But Mac remembered well how it was with Merry, and the older cousin who had so much patience with *him*.

As Pippin finished his song, Merry suddenly gave a jerk of his line. He had a bite.

“Oh! Merry! You’ve got one!” Pippin jumped up, dropping his own pole in his excitement.

Merry had set the hook, and now carefully began drawing in his line. There was quite a tussle on the other end, and he soon drew forth a lovely fish from the water. He had barely landed it and had no time yet to put it in his little creel, when Pippin’s neglected pole began to move.

“Pip! Grab it!”

Pippin dove onto the pole before it could be pulled into the water.

“You have a bite, Pip! Hurry, set the hook!”

“Help me, Merry!”

Merry rushed over to help Pippin land his catch, but the little one had been too eager, and the bait was gone as well as the fish.

“Merry, I had one,” said the little one sadly.

“It’s all right, Pip, you’ll catch another, I’m sure.”

Merimac, watching called out “Merry! Mind your catch!”

For one of the Hall cats had crept onto the dock, and started to make off with Merry’s fish.

“Hoy!” yelled the lad, “Grimkin, drop it!”

Of course the cat paid no attention, but started to run. Little Pippin however, was a bit too quick for him. He gave a flying leap and grabbed the cat by the tail. With a yowl, it dropped the fish, and Merry snatched it up. Pippin let go, and the offended cat took off like a stone from a sling, hissing and yowling its indignation.

Merry looked at his fish. It seemed to be undamaged, so he stowed it in his creel with a sigh. Fishing with Pippin was not a quiet or relaxing past time. As Pippin wandered over to Merimac, he began to pepper him with questions. “Did you see that, Cousin Mac! I saved Merry’s fish! What are you making? Oh, is it a boat? What are you going to do with it?”

Merry grinned. Apparently whittling on the dock was not going to be very relaxing either. He baited his hook and cast his line, while chuckling at his uncle’s discomfiture.

___________________________________________
* From The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, with apologies to Rattie.





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