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Title: Two Nights Out of Rivendell
TWO NIGHTS OUT OF RIVENDELL
It was with a worried expression that Frodo noticed Pippin stumble for the third time in the last few minutes. His younger cousin was no longer shrugging off Merry’s steadying hand on his arm. He, himself, was flagging and he could feel Sam’s anxious presence at his elbow. Only a couple of days out of Rivendell and already walking all night felt old. He raised his eyes ahead where Gandalf strode at the front. When will Gandalf let us stop?
The Wizard looked up at the small copse of trees in the far distance, black against the violet night sky. It would normally be a half-hour’s trek, but as tired as the hobbits probably were, it could take twice as long. He thought of his conversations in Rivendell, with Bilbo and with Elrond. Perhaps he’d made a mistake. Was young Peregrin really up to this journey?
Pippin allowed himself to lean on Merry just a bit. It was important for Frodo’s sake that he keep up, and if that meant letting Merry help him, so be it. No one was going to have to regret letting him come along because he slowed them down if he could help it. It was just so hard to sleep in the daytime. Yesterday he’d curled up, tired enough, with Merry at his back, and Frodo at his front, and Sam on the other side of Frodo, snoring gently, only to realize he was wide awake. But he could not move for fear of waking the others. It was worse torture than having an itchy nose and not being able to scratch it, to lie there awake, with sleep eluding him, unable to move. And then when sleep finally did come, why it was almost time to go. His belly gave a loud rumble. He twisted his mouth ruefully. Time for breakfast--not *first* mind you, but *only* breakfast! He supposed bacon and eggs and broiled tomatoes and fried mushrooms and scones and tea were out of the question. What *would* Sam make for breakfast?
Sam heard Pippin’s stomach growl, and his own begin its morning rumble. It would soon be time to stop, and he’d need to be making breakfast, if you could call it that, when they were going to bed instead of getting up. He thought perhaps some of that summer sausage, fried up, and griddlecakes. And he might chop up some apples and simmer them to put on the griddlecakes. Porridge would be nice and filling, but he wasn’t sure he had the time to make a proper porridge. Had Legolas found them a nice place to camp for the day?
Legolas looked at the small clearing he had found. The trees had been very obliging, and this was an ideal spot for the day’s rest: hidden from spying eyes by the canopy of the trees, as well as shade enough to make rest easier for bodies more accustomed to resting at night. But plenty of room to make a small cookfire. It was in a small depression, which would also help to hide a fire. Fortunately Sam was skilled at making sure his fires did not smoke. He cocked his head--ah! small game. Perhaps he’d find something for the cookpot this evening. He was sure the hobbits would appreciate that. Would Aragorn feel like joining him for the hunt?
Aragorn was not at all tired. Perhaps instead of sleeping after they stopped, he would do a bit of hunting. They had not travelled nearly the distance he was accustomed to covering on his own. It was difficult to have to keep his pace slow enough for the hobbits; he had learned the hard way on the trek from Bree that they would attempt to keep whatever pace he set, and he did not wish to make them ill or overly exhausted. It was not so desperate a journey as that from Weathertop. Whatever the urgency Gandalf felt, they had time. He glanced briefly at the rest of the Company. Gimli moved tirelessly. Would the Dwarf be best to take the first watch?
Gimli’s pace was steady. The taller folk were having to go slower for the hobbits’ sake, and the little ones appeared on the verge of exhaustion. But he knew from what his father had told him that these little people were quite tough. They just needed a few days to get into condition was all. But he himself felt quite fresh. Perhaps he would offer to take the first watch. Yesterday Aragorn and Gandalf had taken the watches. If he took the first watch, then Boromir would probably take the next, for the Elf would be scouting again. Elves were useful for a few things he supposed, especially since they did not seem to sleep much. He glanced over at the big Gondorian, who did not seem winded. His sword had been notched yesterday when he had allowed Pippin to hold it and the hobbit had accidentally allowed the edge to strike a rock. Would Boromir take it amiss if he offered to hone it for him to pass the time during his watch?
Boromir moved along, feeling the restraint of not being able to walk in his usual ground eating pace. He shook his head. The hobbits were trying very hard. He remembered poor Pippin’s consternation yesterday, when he had not been able to hold up Boromir’s sword. Perhaps the Dwarf would have what he needed to hone the notch out. His own sharpening stone had been lost in the waters of the Greyflood ere he reached Rivendell. His eyes moved to the hobbits, as they trudged along. Pippin had not slept well yesterday, either. But Merry did not seem quite so tired. The young Brandybuck was quite tough. It would not do to allow too much time to lapse in the young one’s lessons. Would Merry feel like weapons-practice when they wakened this afternoon?
Merry saw Boromir looking his way. Probably wondering if they were up to having a lesson this afternoon. He steadied Pippin again, and gave the lad a fond look. He was sure Pip had not slept well yesterday. The Took was very much a morning person, and it would have gone against his grain to try and sleep in the daytime. Merry hoped that his younger cousin’s exhaustion would be enough to let him sleep today. He was sure that in just a few more days they would adjust to this new schedule. It was a worried expression he cast at Frodo. Frodo, too, looked winded and tired. He saw how Sam was hovering at his master’s elbow. But the Baggins stubbornness would not give in. Frodo would continue until he collapsed if Gandalf didn’t call a halt, and never show a sign of it till he fell over. He caught the look Frodo shot in Pippin’s direction. Frodo’d be more likely to call a halt for Pip’s sake than his own; but Pip would find that humiliating. Blast all these long-legged Big Folk anyway. And blast that Ring as well. Why did it ever have to come to Frodo?
Aragorn raised a hand, and the Company halted. Legolas was approaching--perhaps he’d found a place for them to stop for the day.
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