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The Ernil i Pheriannath Takes a Bath  by Grey Wonderer

“The Ernil i Pheriannath Takes a Bath”

Rated G

Beta by Llinos and Marigold

Pippin frowned down at the state of his uniform. He was a complete mess from the tips of his toes to the top of his head. Practicing his sword work in the yard with the other soldiers of Gondor had been quite an eye-opener. From the first moment he’d drawn his practice sword until the very last challenge he had noticed how much his size had gone against him. He’d tried to use all of the methods that Boromir had taught him but it hadn’t been long before some of the other soldiers caught on to his tricks and he found himself flat on his bum in the dust.

Those lessons with Boromir seemed so long ago now. He felt as if it had been ages since he and Merry had first sparred with the Captain of Gondor. Pippin sighed and shook his head. “Boromir would not have been at all impressed with me today. For that matter I suspect that Merry would have been less than pleased with my poor showing,” Pippin muttered. He limped down the long corridor towards the bathing chambers. His side ached in its effort to remind him that he was still healing from his battle wounds but Pippin chose to ignore this. He was too busy wallowing in his growing pool of self-loathing. “I was dreadful out there. If I were in charge of the Guard I’d have removed any soldier from the ranks for a performance like mine,” he sighed running a hand through his sweaty, tangled hair. “I should be glad that I know the High King because if I didn’t have friends in high places then I would be tossed outside of the walls of the City and left to find my own way,” Pippin said.

“We rarely do that anymore no matter how much we might want to,” Faramir smiled as he walked up behind Pippin and overheard him.

Startled and embarrassed, Pippin looked at Faramir and groaned. “I keep forgetting that even if I should start out ahead of the other soldiers, I am still likely to be overtaken.”

“And, from the sounds coming from within the bathing chambers, I would guess that you and I are the last to arrive,” Faramir said. “Unless I am misjudging the situation I suspect that neither of us will be bathing in the near future. It may be after the evening meal before the bathing chambers are unoccupied.”

Pippin looked horror-struck. “Then we shall miss supper?”

Faramir grinned. “Oh, I doubt that. It will be a near thing but I think it likely that we will both get something to eat.” Faramir watched as Pippin’s features relaxed. “Your side still troubles you. You were giving to your left during practice and you weren’t fully extending your arm.”

Pippin nodded and looked at his feet. “I was deplorable.”

“I didn’t say that,” Faramir objected. “What I said was that I believe that your injuries are limiting your performance just now. Perhaps it might be well if you were to take things a bit slower. You don’t want to do anything to impede your healing.”

Pippin shrugged his tired shoulders. “Is that your very kind way of telling me that I’m not wanted at practice any more?”

“It most certainly is not,” Faramir said sternly. “You will report to practice just like any other soldier of Gondor. You will rest longer between bouts, but you are not excused from your duties. Do I make myself clear?”

Pippin straightened and looked into Faramir’s now commanding gaze. “Yes, sir.”

Faramir nodded. “I’m going to do some accounts while I wait. You might also like to find something else to occupy your time. It sounds to me as if it is going to be a while.” Faramir looked at the door to the bathing chamber and sighed.

Pippin watched as Faramir walked briskly down the long, stone corridor. He slumped against the cool wall and muttered, “I am not walking all the way to somewhere else only to have to walk back here in an hour or so. Everywhere is too far from here.” He massaged his sore leg and gave thought to sitting down but decided against it. He might stiffen up and be unable to gain his feet again when the other soldiers came out of the bath. He did not like the idea of having to ask one of them to help him up. They’d seen the worst of him today in the practice yard. He would not embarrass himself further.

“My lord, might I be of some assistance?”

Pippin looked up from his study of the floor and smiled at the very prim woman who must have been a member of the serving staff standing there. “I’m only waiting for the bathing chamber. I’m fine, thank you,” Pippin said. It was still very disconcerting to be addressed so formally.

“Waiting?” She looked nervous as she spoke. “This won’t do. You shouldn’t have to wait. A visitor, and a royal one at that, should not have to wait for the bath. It isn’t proper.”

Pippin tried not to grin. He wasn’t royal at all but he seemed unable to convince anyone in Gondor of that fact. They still thought of him as Ernil i Pheriannath, Prince of the Halflings, and no amount of objection or explanation had convinced them otherwise. Merry, thinking it all very amusing, had begun to play the entire thing up by bowing at Pippin in crowds and calling him, ‘my Lord’ at the most embarrassing times. Pippin didn’t have the energy to argue with the young lass and so he said simply, “Oh, I don’t mind.”

“But, but, it isn’t proper,” she repeated, looking distressed. “If you please, my Lord. Wait right here and I will find a solution at once.” She hurried off.

“I’m not gong anywhere,” Pippin said softly as he watched her running. “I wish I had your energy just now but as I don’t then I think it best to remain here.” Everyone was always telling him that he had limitless energy and that he was in constant motion. They’d be startled to see him now. He was almost too tired to breathe.

Pippin had just about dozed off leaning against the wall when a very stout young lad cleared his throat and said, “If you please, my Lord. I’m sent to fetch you to your bath.”

Pippin blinked stupidly at him. “Have I fallen asleep waiting? Is the chamber now empty?”

“Oh, no, my Lord,” the lad said quickly. “A special bath has been prepared for you. I am to fetch you. Your bath is ready and waiting, sir.”

Pippin frowned and pushed himself away from the wall. “A special bath?”

The lad nodded and looked down the corridor nervously. “Please, if you could come with me so that I’m not late in returning? They trusted me to bring the message and they usually don’t because I’m new. I’ve only just begun my service here and if I’m late, well I can’t think what they might say.”

Pippin felt the lad’s unease. He stood and said, “Lead on then. We must not keep them waiting.” He felt his whole body protest as he set off down the corridor after the lad but he certainly didn’t want to cause anyone to be dressed down and the lad was new and unless Pippin guessed wrongly, the lad was very young.

It was a long walk and Pippin had begun to think they might never arrive when the lad finally stopped in front of a large heavy door and swung it open allowing Pippin to go in first. The sight that met Pippin’s eyes was more than he could take in all at once. The room had a large fireplace. It was large enough for the lad who had come to fetch Pippin to stand upright in if he’d wanted to do so. There was a lovely fire burning in it and the room was nice and warm without being too stuffy. In the centre of the room, flanked by several servants, was a large, very ornate golden bath just Pippin’s size. Pippin rubbed his eyes. He must be dreaming. He must still be leaning against the wall in the corridor sound asleep. There could be no bathing tub as grand as this one!

“Your bath, Ernil i Pheriannath,” a tall lad said and Pippin looked at him with wonder.

“I’m to bathe in that?” Pippin whispered looking at the golden bath. It appeared to have handles on its sides and it looked very heavy. There were carvings all over it and it stood on a wide base. The firelight gleamed against the golden surface, which almost looked as if it were made of liquid and that it might just break form and run to the floor at any moment.

“It is the best we have. Is it not grand enough?” The very proper young woman whom Pippin had seen in the corridor earlier said bowing her head.

“It isn’t that. It isn’t that at all,” Pippin said quickly. “I’ve never seen such a grand bath. It’s beautiful. I can’t believe that anyone would have a bathtub such as this. And you bathe in it?”

The four servants present in the room all looked a bit uneasy but an older woman said, “It’s deep enough and the water is warm.”

Pippin walked closer to it and carefully ran his finger along the brim of the huge, golden bath. It looked like an enormous bowl. Pippin imagined it full of soup - no, beef stew! That was it! Full of beef stew like his mum made and a very large giant was eating from the very big bowl. A giant King, perhaps with a grand, golden goblet at his elbow.

“My Lord?”

The older woman’s voice startled Pippin and he was pulled away from his thought of stew and giant Kings and back to the present. “Yes?”

“Shall we leave you to your bath?” she asked. “Or do you require assistance?”

Pippin blushed furiously. “No, I, no thank you all the same for offering,” Pippin said in a nervously high voice. “I-I think I will be fine on my own.”

“There are fresh flannels and there is a tray with tea and biscuits just there.” She pointed to a stool, which had tea things set upon it and a large stack of flannels sitting next to it. Pippin walked over and took one of the biscuits. All of his thoughts of giant stew bowls had made him very hungry. “And we’ve taken the liberty of placing some clean clothing on the chair over next to the fire. It’s fresh from the laundry, just done today. I was told that these things are yours, but if I am mistaken…”

Pippin glanced at the clothing. “No, no, those are mine,” he said with a trace of wonder. This was the best dream he’d had in ages. His mind kept expecting a troll to come crashing into it or perhaps something more dreadful but so far this was a very good dream. True, he’d be found asleep in the corridor by the other soldiers and that would be very embarrassing but for this dream of biscuits and golden baths it might be worth the humiliation.

She smiled, pleased that he was satisfied and then said, “We shall give you your privacy then, my Lord.” With a quick glance at the others she hurried from the room followed by the younger lass and the two lads and before Pippin could bite into his biscuit they were gone. He was alone with the great, golden bath and the tea tray.


“What if the King finds out?” the tall lad hissed as they closed the door behind them.

“He won’t. Kings are too busy to be checking on such things as this,” the older woman said firmly. “You just see to it that you keep your mouth closed tightly and he’ll never know. The King has a responsibility to his guests from other lands. He is to see to their comfort and most especially the comfort of the royal ones who’ve honoured Gondor in battle. Why the Lord Faramir would not be with us now were it not for the Ernil i Pheriannath.”

They nodded solemnly at this. “The King is very busy now and so we, as his staff must see to the proper comfort of his royal guests.”

“But if anyone finds it’s missing,” the lad persisted.

“No one will be looking. It’s always locked away until we need it and unless you know about a royal occasion that I’ve forgot then it’ll not be needed tonight,” she said sharply. “Now, Seth, you watch the door so that the Ernil i Pheriannath is not disturbed and as soon as you hear him coming out, come and get me as quickly as you can so I can see to getting that back where it belongs. I know that the King would want his guest seen to but I don’t know if he would find what I’ve done exactly up to his standards.” She frowned as if worried for just an instant and then she said, “It’s no matter. That is a fit tribute to one who was a friend to Lord Boromir, may he rest in peace.”

They all bowed their heads for a moment and then she said, “Now, do your duty to Gondor, lad.”

The stout lad who had come to fetch Pippin nodded, “Yes, Missus.” He walked over and stood by the door to watch. He looked very nervous. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say if anyone turned up. They hadn’t given him those instructions. All he knew was that he was to watch the door. He wasn’t going to ask her anything at all. Asking questions, his grandmum had told him time and again, was how a lad got into serious trouble and he certainly didn’t want trouble.

Pippin ate two biscuits as he walked all around the big, golden bath and looked it over closely. It was beautiful beyond words. Why folks in the Shire would pay to see something this grand. Pippin thought that you just might have been able to buy the largest smial in the Shire with the coin you could get if you sold this big bowl. It really did look like a fancy bowl. Then again, it was too big to be a bowl for even the big folk of Gondor. Pippin didn’t think any of them could bathe in it though. He supposed that it must be a wee child’s bathing tub. Maybe that had been why all of the servants had seemed so nervous. They might have felt that he would be insulted if he’d known it was a child’s bath.

Pippin put a hand into the water and was pleased to note that it was nice and warm but not too hot. He swallowed the last of his biscuit and then began to remove his filthy uniform. He mustn’t waste the hot water. There was a point at which a bath became too cool and Pippin didn’t want to let this water cool while he stood about admiring the bathtub.

He undressed quickly and then, pouring himself a cup of tea to enjoy while in the bath, Pippin climbed into the great golden bowl of a tub and eased himself into the water balancing the teacup just so. When he sat down the water just reached an inch or two below his shoulders and someone had thoughtfully placed a soft flannel over the back of the bath so that Pippin might lean against it whilst having a soak. Grinning and feeling like real royalty, Pippin leaned against the flannel and began to sip his tea.


The lad in the hall giggled softly as the sounds of the Ernil i Pheriannath's voice lifted in song floated out into the corridor. The Ernil i Pheriannath had a wonderful voice and it carried quite well. The song was very merry, something about a bath and ‘O water hot’. The lad couldn’t catch all of the words through the thick door but he was enjoying what he could hear. He wondered if it would be considered rude to ask the Ernil i Pheriannath if he’d teach him the song? His grandmum would love to hear that song.

A couple of soldiers passed the lad, seemed to listen to the snatches of song, smiled, and then went on down the corridor without asking any questions. That was very good because Seth didn’t have any answers for them that he would be allowed to give.


Pippin was feeling warm and clean and he leaned his back against the flannel as he finished the last of his fourth cup of tea. He’d bathed, he’d sung, he’d ducked underneath the water and blown bubbles and now he was tired. He was no longer aching all over. He was tired in a relaxed sort of way. The big golden bath, probably a bathing tub for little ones of the King, was just the right size for him. He was resting against the flannel and letting the warm water soothe him. He closed his eyes. Merry wouldn’t believe this dream when he told him. Maybe he wouldn’t tell him. Maybe he would just keep this dream for himself and when the soldiers woke him on their way out of the bathing chamber, maybe he wouldn't say anything about the dream at all. He’d just…


“Pippin does not miss meals,” Frodo said firmly. The three hobbits were all looking at Aragorn and frowning. “He is usually waiting at the door to the dining room long before the meal is served,” Frodo continued.

“He may have been held up in the bathing chambers,” Faramir offered.

“You’ve seen Pippin?” Merry asked looking hopeful. “He wasn’t anywhere that he shouldn’t be was he? Is he in some sort of trouble?”

“No, he’s done nothing wrong,” Faramir said. “When I left him he was waiting outside the bathing chambers. He and I were late in arriving and the other soldiers got there ahead of us. The chamber was full and we were waiting our turn.”

“They make you wait?” Merry objected, looking surprised by this.

Faramir smiled. “A good soldier waits his turn even if he is the current Steward of Gondor. The men had worked very hard in practice today. It was the first day back for more than a few of them. We had many returning from recovered injuries. In fact, I noticed that Pippin was very tired. I think he expected too much of himself on his first day back.”

“He was all right wasn’t he?” Merry asked anxiously.

“Oh, he was fine,” Faramir smiled gently. “He was a bit unhappy with his performance today and he was tired and sore but no more so than some of the others. When I left him by the bathing chamber he was just waiting his turn.”

“I thought you were waiting too,” Frodo said.

“I left for a time to see to some of my other duties and when I returned for my own bath, Pippin had already gone,” Faramir said. “I was some time in returning so I supposed Pippin had bathed and left.”

“Then where is he?” Merry demanded of everyone present.

“Why don’t we walk down towards the bathin’ chambers and have a look?” Sam suggested. “Maybe someone down there’s seen Mr. Pippin.”

“That’s a good idea Sam,” Frodo agreed. “We’ll just go and see if we can find him, Aragorn.”

“You’ll miss dinner,” Gimli said as he joined them.

“You could look for him,” Merry grinned. “You seem to be able to find him no matter where he is.”

Gimli beamed and then chuckled. “I hope he’s not under another troll.”

Merry shivered slightly but laughed. “Wherever he is, if he makes me miss my supper then he’ll wish he were underneath another Troll when I finish with him.”

“I’ll have our meals kept warm while we search,” Aragorn smiled. He was resigned to the fact that they would all be looking for Pippin. No one was going to sit down to eat until the other three hobbits were satisfied that Pippin had not come to any harm.


Seth was a bit worried. The Ernil i Pheriannath had stopped singing some time ago. There had been no splashing, no singing, and no sound of any kind from the room behind the door for a long time now. The Missus would be very put out if Seth didn’t come to fetch her soon. They had to put things back in order so that no one would know what they’d done. The Missus was very clear on that. No one was to know about any of this. If Seth didn’t come for her very soon then he suspected that he’d be in very deep water himself.

What if the Ernil i Pheriannath had drowned in the big, golden bowl? What if he’d fallen and hurt himself? Should Seth open the door and peek in or should he just stand here and mind his post? What would be expected of him at a point like this?


The King was standing there looking at Seth and frowning. “Lad, why are you here?”

Seth felt his throat go dry and he struggled for what he should say. “I, I, my Missus, she told me to stand here, my Lord.” His eyes fell on the faces of the other Halflings that were standing beside the King. These were the Ernil i Pheriannath’s kin and the one with the dark hair was the Ring-bearer Himself. Seth straightened. He wanted to say something to him but he just didn’t know what. Should one even address the Ring-bearer? Was it at all allowed? He was staring. He quickly lowered his eyes.

“Have you seen our companion while you’ve been standing here?” Frodo asked taking note of the young lad’s nervous manner but still hoping to gain information about Pippin.

Seth thought about the question. Now that he had something that he might say to the Ring-bearer it was something that he wasn’t eager to say at all. “Well, not since I’ve been standing here, my Lord, no, I haven’t seen him while standing right here, no,” Seth said. It was the truth but he could see that both the Ring-bearer and the Halfling that rode with the Rohirrim were not too pleased with his answer.

“When did you see him last?” Merry asked, knowing a near lie when he heard one. He’d told enough of this sort to be able to know one when he heard it.

“Perhaps an hour ago now,” Seth said miserably.

“Where did you see him?” Frodo said determined to pin the lad down on this issue.

Seth spoke in the rushed voice of one who was feeling very guilty. “It was in that room behind me. I was told to stand watch. The Missus will be very upset with me when she finds that I’ve told anyone anything at all. I was just to watch and wait and then when the Ernil i Pheriannath came out I was to get the Missus and she was going to handle it from there. I was just to watch. I’m new and I just started and so I just do what I’m told.”

“Splendid,” Gimli said. “Move out of the way, lad.”

Seth quickly stepped aside and allowed the Dwarf to open the door. The King, the three Halflings, Lord Faramir and the Dwarf who was in the lead, all walked into the room leaving Seth in the corridor wondering what he was supposed to do now.

They all walked in and stopped, holding their breath as one. No one moved or spoke as they all took in the sight before them. Pippin was leaning back in a very ornate golden bath of some sort. It appeared to be filled with water and the remains of soap bubbles had left a film on the top of the water. Pippin’s head was resting against a thick, purple flannel and one of his arms was resting on the edge of the huge, golden container. His fingers held a large, ornate teacup, which was empty. Pippin’s eyes were closed and a smile played across his lips. His even breathing and the crackling of the dying fire were the only sounds in the room.

“Thunder,” Faramir whispered hoarsely, breaking the silence.

“I’ve seen that golden bowl before,” Aragorn said frowning, his voice as low as Faramir’s.

“It’s part of the royal banquet set,” Faramir whispered.

“That’s the fanciest tub I’ve ever seen,” Sam whispered.

“That isn’t a tub. It’s the royal punch bowl,” Faramir whispered still staring at Pippin who continued to sleep, unaware of his audience.

“The one that is kept locked up in the storage area for royal banquets and coronations and such,” Faramir continued softly. “It hasn’t been used much lately and so I’ve not seen it in about three years. Father was not in the habit of having many large events and so we rarely used it.”

Merry looked at Faramir and uttered, “Pippin is taking a bath in a punch bowl?”

Pippin made a snorting sound, and then his breathing returned to normal. The others continued to stare at him and then Sam said, “You serve punch in that?”

“We used to,” Faramir said. “After word of this gets out I’m not entirely certain that anyone will want to serve punch in it.”

“Why is Pippin bathing in it?” Frodo hissed as he and Merry began to move closer to the golden punch bowl, which was now catching the glints of the last rays of sunlight against its large sides as the sun shone through the window. The big bowl glinted and twinkled in the light. “Where did he get this?”

“He couldn’t have moved this in here on his own,” Merry whispered.

“No, that much is certain,” Aragorn smiled. “This is solid gold. I doubt that the four of you together could have brought it all the way from the storage area and placed it here.”

Gimli chuckled softly. “'Tis a bath fit for a King of Dwarves. Balin would have found such a tub to his liking.”

“It’s a punch bowl. It’s part of the royal set. There is a ladle.” Faramir was still rather pale.

Merry and Sam began to look about to see if the ladle was there too and Frodo said, “I’m certain that Pippin didn’t put the punch bowl here but that doesn’t explain why he’s bathing in it, does it?”

“Let’s ask,” Merry grinned, deserting his search for the ladle and coming over and taking the teacup from Pippin’s relaxed fingers. “Pip?”

Pippin stirred slightly and yawned.

“Pippin!” Merry said sharply.

“Go away, Merry,” Pippin murmured. “I’m having the best dream I’ve ever had. Don’t spoil it.”

“It’s time to wake up now, Peregrin,” Frodo said sternly.

Pippin opened his eyes and pushed himself up. He seemed confused. “I’m still asleep. Oh, this must be the embarrassing part in the dream when everyone turns up and finds me naked in the bath,” he reasoned. “I knew it was too good a dream to last.” Pippin blinked at them all and then his eyes settled on Faramir. “I’ve never had a dream with you in it before. I guess you’re in it this time because I was talking to you before I fell asleep.”

“Pippin, you aren’t dreaming,” Merry sighed, looking both amused and annoyed all at once.

“Of course I am, Merry,” Pippin said. “I was so tired that I must have fallen asleep. I was in the corridor thinking about how very tired I was and how hungry I was and what a dreadful job I’d done of my practice sessions today in the yard and then I fell asleep and started to dream that a kind woman had come along and well, she was concerned about me. She didn’t think I should be waiting for the bathing chambers since I’m the Ernil i Pheriannath.”

Merry rolled his eyes and made a choking sound.

“It’s a dream, Merry,” Pippin sighed still clinging to the delusion that he was asleep. “Then a lad returned to lead me here and when I got here there was this great, golden bathtub filled with hot water and there were little biscuits with honey in them and tea and flannels and I took a bath in the golden tub.”

Faramir’s eyes widened. “Someone on the staff saw fit to allow you to bathe in the royal punch bowl?”

“It isn’t a punch bowl,” Pippin objected. “It’s a bath. I think it’s a fancy bath meant for the King’s children but it suits me all the same. I think they were worried that I wouldn’t like it if I knew but I think it is the most glorious bathtub I’ve ever bathed in. I wish I had one like this at home. The Thain should have something like this at the Great Smials.”

Frodo groaned, then, as if they’d agreed upon it beforehand, he and Merry pushed Pippin’s head under the water while Gimli, Sam and Aragorn chuckled. Faramir was still trying to get over the shock of seeing the royal punch bowl used as a bathtub.


“No one is drinking any of the punch,” Arwen frowned.

“I noticed that,” Éowyn said looking at the lovely golden punch bowl.

“I tasted it myself and it seems quite delicious,” Arwen said shaking her head. “I noticed that Estel looked at the punch bowl rather strangely earlier this evening. I started to ask him about it but he was greeting another guest and I forgot.”

“Maybe he doesn’t like punch,” Éowyn said. “Still it is a shame. It’s such a lovely bowl with such a noble history.”

“And it is full to the brim with punch which no one is drinking,” Arwen frowned.

“It’s an enormous bowl,” Éowyn agreed.

“Big enough to bathe a hobbit in,” Legolas smiled as he walked past them.

The End

GW 10/20/2007

***While I was visiting London, Marigold took me to see the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and as we were looking at the large, gold punch bowl behind the glass she told me about an idea in which Pippin bathes in the punch bowl. That’s where this story comes from. The Royal punch bowl really is big enough for a hobbit to bathe in if the opportunity arose. – GW

For a look at the Royal Punch Bowl that helped to inspire this story, click here. My thanks to Envinyatar for finding this link for me.

Note from Marigold – I am so glad that GW wrote this. I had originally given the idea to Piplover when she visited a couple of years ago, but though she made a start it came to naught and I was still anxious to see the bunny so I mentioned it to GW. I love what she came up with!

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