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“This is all upside-down,” said Pippin. “Are we supposed to sing morning songs at the start of the march, or at the end?”
“Maybe,” said Merry, “we shouldn’t sing at all.”
“Ohhh, did someone sleep on the bumpy ground last night?”
“Day,” said Merry.
Boromir sighed as the two Halflings continued with their bickering. He was unsure of whether this was better or worse than being lost for over one hundred days in the wild alone. He admired the Halflings’ heart, and how they actually did not complain about the things that mattered—long marches, short rations, and mountains that refused to get closer—but instead trivialities like music and song.
“Well,” said Merry, “I do like a good walking song as much as any other hobbit, but really, that doesn’t feel… well, grand enough for this sort of expedition. You can hardly imagine anyone in those great tales of Uncle Bilbo’s just stopping for a bit and singing the praises of ale and a good meal, eh?”
“Actually,” put in Frodo, “Finrod and the Enemy had a sing-off at one point.”
“Yes,” said Boromir, pleased to remember some of his history lessons and to be able to jump in on the discussion. “And if the eldest tales are true, the world itself was sung into being.”
“Well,” said Pippin, “we don’t know any songs like those.”
“I might add,” said Boromir, “that many of the songs among the soldiers of Gondor consist of nothing but ale and a good meal. It is only when we go without that we realise how important are the things we now lack.”
He saw, up ahead, Peregrin nod to himself as if he had really only discovered this truth for the first time. And, Boromir realised, he probably had.
“Why don’t you sing some of those songs for us, then?”
“Actually,” said Boromir, “I believe I am of Meriadoc’s mind in this case.”
“But a Gondor song must be more suited than a Shire one!”
“Perhaps you should ask Legolas, or Gimli, then, for their songs are even older and even grander.”
“Or perhaps Boromir simply doesn’t want to sing,” said Merry.
“It is not that! I merely… only sing in certain circumstances.” Such as when the entire company is too drunk to remember the next morning.
Frodo craned his neck up at Boromir, peering straight at him. “You can’t sing, can you, Boromir?”
“Not… not particularly well.”
“Oh, that’s all right. Neither can Pippin.”
“But I have heard Peregrin sing,” said Boromir.
Merry trotted up next to Boromir to take a confidential tone. “No, you see, he can sing, but we maintain that he can’t, because when he was little he was entirely too spoilt and everyone told him he had the voice of a nightingale. We’re merely trying to undo years and years of damage.”
“And it hasn’t worked a farthing,” said Pippin, winking, and he broke out into one of the merry little airs of his people.
And Boromir was left to reflect on two things: firstly, that if this was what the music of Halflings sounded like, they must be a blessed people indeed; and secondly, that he owed it to Pippin for taking his side and not making him sing in front of the Company.
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