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"Yew" part six by Pearl Took

Part six of my August Challenge story.



A/N: I really apologize that this has run so long and still is not finished. I am having trouble finding time for reading long stories lately and I'm immensely grateful to all of you who are reading mine. I had no idea this would take so long to tell. Chapter 7 will be my story for the September Challenge, so look for it there first.

Again, thank you all.
Pearl
************

Chapter 6


The next morning Paladin awoke in a burst of panic.

They knew! His farm hands had to know. Three of them; Toby, Isenbar and Antigar had been in the tavern last night. Isenbar had been at the very table where the story of the Dwarves and their missing cargo had been told. Paladin had left before that group had broken up so he didn't know if Isenbar had mentioned Pippin's lizard or not.

They all knew that Pippin had brought home a lizard; of course they did. Their own sons had helped catch bugs and worms to feed the beast. Several of them had come in to see how things were going with building the first cage . . . and the second, bigger, one. Some of the lads had even been into the house to see Yew.

Had his farm hands made the connection?

With trembling hands, Paladin got dressed and went out to the farm yard. One look at Tolley told him everything.

"Good morning Mr. Paladin," the stable manager said making it more a question than a statement. Tolley's expression matched his tone.

"Eh, yes. It is a good morning, Tolley." Paladin tried to sound his usual self.

"Aye, sir. A good morning." Tolley's questioning expression deepened. "Mist seems to have come to no grief from throwing his shoe."

Some of Paladin's gloom lifted. "Oh, good! I was concerned about that. Eh . . . ah, Tolley?"

"Sir."

"I need you to let the hands know that my children will not be out to do their chores this morning. We . . . eh . . . have a wee problem this morning that the whole family needs to . . . eh, discuss. I'm keeping them in for that."

Tolley's eyebrow drew up on his forehead. "Aye, Paladin. A wee problem."

Paladin took hold of the stable manager's arm, dragged him into the tack room and closed the door.

"Enough of your questions and quizzical looks, Tolley, what have you heard and what is everyone thinking?"

"Two well hung-over hobbits and one who claims he kept his wits about him all say they heard a tale at the Horse and Wagon that gave them a laugh until they were walking home together. On the way home it seems that the least drunk of them, that being Antigar, started asking the others if they might be wondering about Pippin's lizard."

A hole into the abyss opened in Paladin's stomach and all of his innards felt like they were pouring into it.

"Antigar said that he had mentioned, as they walked along, that it was strange little Pippin's lizard had needed a bigger cage so quickly. And, now that he was thinking about it, wasn't it an odd color for one of those wee lizards that scramble about the hedgerows and stone walls?"

Tolley paused, looking his employer over carefully.

"Mind you, when Antigar was relating all this in the bright light of the morning, he said it was amazing what a few beers would do to your thinking, 'especially as you're walking home under a full moon'." Tolley leaned in to whisper into Paladin's ear. "I think if you let it be, 'twill fade into naught by noontime . . . to all except me. I always did believe old Bilbo's stories."

Paladin pulled away in shock, but Tolley was holding up his hands, palms out.

"No, no, my old friend. No need to take a fright. I know how to keep my mouth shut. But I'm thinking that you and your family have a lot to talk about this morning. I'll make sure the children's chores are seen to and that the talk is allowed to die off."

Paladin's sigh shrank him an inch in height. He hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath. "Thank you, Tolley. I owe you." He took a deep breath, sighing again as he shook his friend and employee's hand. "I owe you."

One more firm shake and Paladin left to face his family . . .

. . . and the dragon.




The three girls sat upon the sofa, arranged oldest to youngest, with a space left between Pervinca and the arm at the far end. Paladin sat in his favorite chair and Lanti in her rocker. A stool from the kitchen sat in the middle of the room. Paladin's news of the night before had been related to the lasses over first breakfast, so everyone knew the reason for the family meeting.

Long minutes passed with no one moving or saying a word. At last, Pippin appeared in the doorway carrying Yew. He walked to the stool, set the dragon down upon it then sat on the sofa between the arm and Vinca.

Still, no one moved or spoke and none of them were sure of why, other than they were waiting for something to happen.

Eventually, Yew turned to face Paladin. He bowed his head until his snout touched the top of the stool.

"Paladin, head of this household, master of this farm, I give you my greetings and my deepest respect." Yew said without lifting his head.

"Er . . . Thank you, Yew of the dragons." Paladin tipped his head in return.

Yew raised his head to stare straight into the hobbit's eyes. Because of the tale Pippin had told him of the dragon and the faeries, he was looking for something, but it was not there. Slowly, he looked around the room into each of the children's eyes, then last into Eglantine's. He returned his gaze to Pippin for a moment. The lad was the only one with a touch of something fae in his eyes, the rest did not have it. He then looked back at Paladin, waiting for the hobbit to speak.

"You speak very well, Yew. Eh . . . How long have you been able to? Speak that is."

"A few days. I have practiced aloud to myself when alone in Peregrin's room."

"You're a fast learner."

"Yes. Although dragons live a long life, we must grow up quickly. We acquire the in-born knowledge of our kind at an early age, so I have discovered, and speech is part of that acquisition. If we did not, we would be fewer in number than we are. I am still easy prey for a hawk, eagle, fox, wolf or other such creatures. In fact, it will be several months yet before I can fly or produce enough fire to truly defend myself. If other gifts and abilities did not emerge quickly, my kind would be hard put to survive."

Eglantine cleared her throat; Paladin nodded in reply.

"Yes, yes. I can understand all of that. It also brings us to the reason for all of this." He waved his hand to indicate his gathered family. "I fear we can't keep you, Yew. Oh! Is it all right to continue calling you Yew? Do you have a, eh, dragonish name that you would prefer?"

Small puffs of smoke came out of Yew's nostrils as he chuckled. "Bedwyrculhwch,*" he replied with a bow, "Though I doubt you can pronounce it properly. Yew is quite honorable; a strong tree with deep meaning in the mystic realms. There is no shame in being called by such a name. You may continue to address me as Yew."

"Thank you for returning my pin." Pearl quickly put in. She wasn't sure if her father had intended to let his children say anything during this meeting with Pippin's dragon. She thought how odd that sounded: Pippin's dragon.

"And my pinky ring," added Pimpernel.

"You didn't take anything of mine," Pervinca said in a voice more subdued than was her wont. "So I can't thank you for returning anything, but I will . . ." She paused to swallow. It was so hard to be humble. "I'm sorry I put a doll's collar on you and tied you with a ribbon."

Yew nodded to each lass in turn. "My apologies I give to you all, and Miss Pervinca, I accept yours." he turned to Eglantine, "I most entreat your forgiveness, Mistress." He paused to take a deep breath. He found it so hard to be humble. "As my wise young rescuer helped me to see, it is unkind to take things from people who have helped me. Especially to you, Eglantine, mistress of this home, mother to these fine young ones and healer of all the creatures of Arda, I owe a great apology. Your medicinal administrations did not save me, in that I had not eaten enough of the yew leaf to kill me, but, I surely would have been eaten by a predator, in my weakened state, had Peregrin . . ."

"Pippin," the lad interrupted.

"had Pippin not brought me home and I would have suffered ill effects longer had you not seen to my needs. You were most kind to me as I have grown aware that most females do not like lizards."

"You are most welcome, Yew." Lanti replied. "And I forgive you for taking my wedding ring and thimble." She shook her head as Yew looked back to her husband. It was unbelievable; she had just spoken to a dragon.

Paladin cleared his throat. "All well and nicely said, but it brings us no closer to a solution to all of this."

Yew turned to face the master of the house.

"What do we do with you now?"

#####

*A/N: Yew's dragon name is made out of two names from Welsh legends: Bedwyr and Culhwch. I've no idea how to pronounce them.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
nancylea57
Sep. 14th, 2009 10:37 pm (UTC)
see he is learning that the family does care for him in more than a physical way and he can learn to respond with that love and care, yes he'll still have his dragon side but he can be a humane dragon.
pearltook1
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
I think "hobbitiness" has rubbed off on him. :-) I saw him as a basically good dragon all along.

Thanks for sticking with this story, nancy. :-)
(Deleted comment)
pearltook1
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:09 am (UTC)
I think many dragons are courteous, it is how they soften up their prey . . .
but in this case I think Yew is just a noble beast. Humility never seems to be a dragon characteristic, nor one of Pervinca Took's. LOL

I'm so glad you're enjoying this, mews. :-)
garnet_took
Sep. 15th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
Ooo, I can't wait to see how they work this one out.:) Thank goodness dragons don't gain all that power they have in their voices until they are much older--not to mention the fire-breathing part--or this conversation could have gone much worse.

Yew may just turn out to be a rather decent dragon after all.
pearltook1
Sep. 15th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Thank you, Garnet. :-)

I don't think he's far from the mastery of his voice, with all his gallant speach. It is a very good thing his fire fits his size.

I think he will be a true dragon, but one who isn't quite as nasty as some.

I'm glad you're enjoying this so much. :-)
(Deleted comment)
pearltook1
Sep. 21st, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you, aranel! I'm so glad to hear you are enjoying the story. :-) And thank you for the Welsh lesson. I have always been able to see why it fascinated Tolkien when he saw it on the coal cars as a child.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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