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An Unexpected Adventure  by KathyG

Summary: In the spring of 2012, four American children find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar world and part of an unexpected adventure.  This story is AU, and blends Lord of the Rings book-verse and movie-verse.  This story also contains a lot of spiritual and religious content as a part of the AU elements.

Disclaimer: The world of Middle-earth and all its peoples belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien; the three films of The Lord of the Ringsbelongs to New Line Cinema and to Peter Jackson.  This story is not for profit, but is a gift for the enjoyment of those who read it.

Citations: In most chapters, there will be some quotations directly from both the books and/or the movies.  Quotations from Tolkien's books are in italics, and quotations from the movies are underlined.  Occasional quotations from other sources as well as silent dialogue, words spoken in emphasis, and passages from the Bible will also be in italics, and those citations will be footnoted at the end of each chapter in which they occur. We will also footnote research sources and credit the ideas of other people.

Thanks: We would also like to acknowledge the invaluable help of our beta, Linda Hoyland, another well-known and prolific LotR fanwriter, whose many wonderful stories also grace this site.

Chapter 58: Give Me A Try

The day was once more gloomy; not as bad as it had been before the Battle of the Pelennor, but bad enough.  There was less work in the Houses of Healing now—those who had been there before the Army of the West left were either those who were direly hurt, or who had a long convalescence ahead.  The rest had been discharged.  Joey and the other boys were now mostly taking messages or picking up needed supplies from around the city.

Since Jennifer was not in training to be a healer, she'd been seconded to the laundresses, and even those who were in training, like Firieth, found themselves assigned there at least temporarily.  Since Jennifer had always used a washing machine to do the laundry and a dryer to dry it back home, she had almost everything to learn about doing laundry the old-fashioned way, and so the laundresses had taken it upon themselves to teach her how.  Jennifer found the work physically tiring; she had learned a few things in Rivendell as well as in Minas Tirith, but she began to realize that there were a lot more steps to take than what she had done before.

Yet even in the laundry, there was somewhat less work than before, and fewer hands needed to deal with it.  Suddenly, Jennifer had found herself with a half a day to kill.  Firieth was still needed, so she couldn't just hang around with her new friend.  What’s Joey up to? she wondered.

-oo000oo-

Joey and Bergil were making their way back to the upper levels.  They had been sent down to take a couple of messages, one to the Builder's Guild, about making repairs to the wing of the House of Healing that had been damaged by fire.  The other was to deliver an order for certain herbs not grown at the Houses of Healing, to an apothecary on the fourth level.  Since neither of the errands required an immediate answer, Dame Ioreth had told them to take the rest of the day off, once their messages had been delivered. They had been working every day since the Host left, and were about due for a half-day’s leisure.  

"What shall we do this afternoon?" asked Bergil.

Joey shrugged.  "I don't know," he said glumly.  "I wish we didn't have the time off.  I would rather be busy."  

Bergil sighed.  "I know.  I'm worried about my ada."

"And I'm worried about Kevin.  Everyone else that went, too, but especially Kevin.  When we aren't working, there's too much time to think about…things.”  Joey bit his lower lip and then sighed.  “I wish I could go and see Jennifer, but she's probably still working."

He looked over at Bergil.  "At home, we'd watch, er, plays," (that's what Joey had decided to call TV and movies, since they were kind of like plays, only on film; he knew it would be too hard to explain the other things).  "My friends and I at school, we like to play baseball, and I like to go skateboarding and ride my bicycle."  He paused in case Bergil had questions, although he had previously explained both bikes and skateboards to his friend.  "What do you do here, when you don't have to work?"

"Sometimes my friends and I find time to play ball, or to go down to the Pelennor to race each other.  But sometimes I just wander around the City and see if I can find someone who has a small job I can do."

"You just go up to strangers and ask if they need someone to do odd jobs?"  Joey was intrigued by this approach.  He'd never really ever thought of doing something like that.  But then, back home, children were discouraged from talking to strangers.

"Of course, why not?" asked Bergil.

Joey shook his head.  "Back where I come from, people want to know you before they hire you.  If you want a job, you have to apply for it, fill out papers and stuff like that."

Bergil raised an eyebrow at his friend.  Sometimes the customs of Joey's land seemed very odd.

"OK," Joey said, with a shrug.  Why not?  At least, it would be something to do.

So, they looked about them as they walked, as they entered the Fourth Circle saw a cart driver with several items he needed to unload.  Bergil nodded towards the man, and then gestured to Joey, and the two of them walked over.

"Excuse me, sir," said Bergil.  "Do you need some help?"

He glanced over at them and saw them in the livery of the Citadel.  "Now, I 't wouldn't want to take you away from your duties…"

"No, sir.  We have finished our errands for today," Bergil responded.

"Well, then, I will give you two brasses apiece to load them small boxes over there, while I load the last of this big stuff."

Bergil nodded.  "Fair enough."  And with that, the two boys walked over to a pile of small wooden boxes.  They were not especially heavy; they were only about a pound to a pound and a half apiece.  And there looked to be about fifty of them.  The two boys began to pick them up and load them into the cart.  

A brass was the smallest of the coins of Minas Tirith, about half the size of a penny.  But it bought more than a penny would back home.  He and Jen had talked about it one day, and the two of them figured that the buying power of a brass was probably close to fifty cents back home, for most things.

-oo000oo-

Jennifer had been disappointed to not find her little brother down in the room where the errand boys waited for their assignments, and was told that their last errand of the day had been down into the City, and that they might or might not come back right away, as Joey and Bergil would be off duty for the rest of the day.  They'd have to be back by curfew—which was at sundown.  She sighed; maybe she would find them before that, or maybe not.  The two boys knew their way around the City a lot better than she did.  Firieth was working, of course, and her other roommates were sleeping.  It looked like she was on her own.  At home, she might have watched TV or gone online, or even read a book.  Those things were not an option here.  The few books she'd had with her were back in Rivendell, and she didn't know how to read the writing here in Middle-earth.

She remembered talking to Nicole one time, during a weekend sleepover at Jennifer’s house a few months before the camping trip; they had both been splayed across her bed in her bedroom, feeling rather bored…

"Can you imagine," asked Nicole, who was always imagining things, "what if you were stranded on an island with no other people, and you had enough food and a tent for shelter, but you didn't have anything else with you—no books, no music, no one else to talk to.  What would you do?"

Jennifer made a face.  “Sounds like Robinson Crusoe, and I don’t think I want to imagine it!”

"Imagine it, anyway.  How would you entertain yourself?"

Jennifer shrugged.  "I guess I could sing.  I know a lot of songs, but it would probably not be fun to sing alone a lot."

"Mostly you'd have to think," said Nicole.  You could maybe get a stick and write in the sand."

They began to try and think, and things eventually got absurd, and they started giggling.  But the question really was a hard one…

One of the things Nicole had suggested was to explore the island.  I haven't really had a chance to explore the City, Jennifer thought.  She left the area of the Houses of Healing and decided to see if she could see the Citadel.  It had been looming in the background, and they had not really seen much of it except for that one night they’d eaten dinner with Boromir, and then they had been preoccupied.  

She wandered uphill, and then found herself going through the archway in the stone wall that led to the courtyard.  She saw the fountain and the tree there.  The Tree was withered and grey.  A few Citadel Guards stood posted, surrounding it.  Joey would love to climb that tree, but it wouldn’t be safe since it’s dead, she thought.  And she knew the tree was special.  The guards would not be letting a kid play in it.  He would be in big trouble if he tried.

There was a nice bench there, and she sat down to think.  I wonder what Kevin’s doing right now, she thought.  Riding a horse, obviously, since they were heading East.  But somehow, she thought it would be a good time to pray for him.  She bowed her head and took a deep breath.  Lord, please, wherever he is, take care of Kevin.  Help him and guide him. Please don't let him get hurt or…or killed.  He's the only big brother I've got.  I'd miss him dreadfully, and I don't want him to be gone that way.  She took a deep breath.  I know maybe I'm being selfish.  Help me not to be selfish, but I do want him to be safe.  I really do, God.

Jennifer bit her lower lip.  She could not wish that Kevin would do anything other than what God was calling him to do, but she did yearn for him to live to tell her about it when it was over, and they were all reunited with their parents.  Besides, it wasn’t only Jennifer who would grieve if he died; so would his other brother and sisters, and their parents.  And their Aunt Janet and Uncle Ryan and all of Kevin’s friends.  Please spare our mom and daddy that grief, God.  Please, I don’t want to have to tell them he’s never coming back home.  Please keep him alive and safe while he’s in that battle.

Jennifer bit her lower lip.  In her anxiety about Kevin, she was forgetting others!  And Frodo and Sam, too!  Please, God, guide them, provide for them, keep them both safe, and help them finish what they're in Mordor for.  Help them to destroy that Ring.  And please protect Aragorn and Boromir and Legolas and Gimli and Merry and Pippin, too.  And Kevin!  Please take care of them all; please guide them and help them, and please don't let any of them get hurt or killed.

She took a deep breath.  Thank You, God.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Raising her head, Jennifer smiled ruefully.  At least Joey was safe in Minas Tirith.  I wish I knew where he is now!  And what he’s up to.

-oo000oo-

Joey and Bergil proudly pocketed their two brasses.  It wasn't very much, but they had helped someone and earned some money.  Joey hoped he could buy some candy with his.  They went up the street and saw a dog that came up to them, wagging its tail just outside a shop.  They stopped for a few minutes to play with it.

"I have a dog," Joey said.  "Well, not just me—she belongs to the whole family.  But she's back in Rivendell with my little sister.  I miss playing with her."  He smiled sadly.  “She was just a little puppy when we left Rivendell.  I’ll bet she’s grown a lot since then!”

"Ada and I had a cat.  She was a good mouser.  We got her after Nana and Borlas went away."  Bergil sighed.  "When the war started, we gave her to the widow next door to take care of her for us.  Ada gave her some money to feed the cat, he said.  But we were really having an excuse to give the widow money.  Squeaky did not really need to be fed much, but she did like a little bowl of cream sometimes." 

The dog turned around, and its black ears perked up as its owner came out of the shop.  It went over to him, wagging once more.  The owner patted its head and looked over to the boys.  "I see that Morpôd found some company.”  He took a coin out of his pocket and flipped it in their direction.  Bergil caught it in mid-air.

"Thank you, sir!  But you don't need to pay us!"  They had not planned to make a job out of the little dog.

The man just winked at them, and walked away, with Morpôd trotting obediently at his heels.

The two boys stood up, and Bergil showed Joey the coin.  "It's just a copper," he said.  "Worth about a fourth of a silver.  But we can get two brasses for it to divide it up."

Joey nodded agreement, and they meandered up the street a little more.  The next several shops were still boarded up, and one had some damage from the war.  Then they saw two women at the next shop.  It, too, had some damage, and the women were trying to clean it up.

"Do you need some help?" asked Joey.

The women looked surprised.  "We can't pay you," one of them said.  "But we've some sausage rolls on the hearth."

The other looked at them closely.  "Are you off duty?" she asked.

"Yes," Bergil answered, and Joey nodded.

The older of the two smiled at them.  “I am Dess, and this is my sister-in-law, Paniel."

The boys introduced themselves as well.

So, for the next little while, the boys assisted the two women, moving broken stones and debris to the side of the street, for those who wanted it to pick up and take away.  A person trying to repair a damaged home or shop might could use it for their own repairs.  They also helped the ladies shore up a damaged beam with a beam they had taken from the shop next door.

"When they left, they said they'd not be back, so we do not think it wrong to take the beam from their shop," said Dess.

By the time the four of them had managed to raise the borrowed beam up to hold the old beam in place, they were all tired and ready to have a break.  The boys sat on the floor, and one of the women had a stool to sit upon, and the other was seated on a box.  The four of them sipped mint tea, and ate the spicy sausages wrapped in dough.

The younger woman, Paniel, explained that it was a sausage shop that belonged to her two brothers, one of whom was married to Dess.  The brothers were off with the army, and the women wanted to repair the shop so it could reopen when the brothers returned.

Joey thought the sausages were really spicy, spicier than pepperoni, which he liked.  But the crusty bread wrapped around it helped it not be too hot—well, spicy-hot, because it was still pretty hot from the fireplace.

"This is very good sausage," said Bergil.  "I think my father brought some of this home for dinner once."

"It would not surprise me.”  Paniel smiled.  “My brothers use our father's secret spice blend.  We still have many cured sausages hanging in the room below, which is thankfully mostly undamaged.  Would you like to see them?"

Having finished the meal, Joey and Bergil were shown to a door at the back of the tiny shop.  Paniel lit a small lamp and led them down a narrow stairway, and then when they reached the bottom, she lit a much larger lamp that stood upon a shelf.

Joey stared up at the dark beams on the ceilings and saw sausages of all shapes and sizes hanging down from hooks on the beams.  There were long strings of small sausages linked together, like he had only seen before in old cartoons.  Across the room, there was a really thick sausage nearly three feet long, hanging down.

"These are all of the cured ones we have.  We brought everything in from the smokehouse behind the shop before Hathor and Harlond marched off with the army."

She showed them around the room, and then she thanked the boys for all their help.  "You lads work up at the Houses of Healing, do you not?"

Both boys nodded, as Joey said, "Yes, we do."

She nodded.  "I thought so."  She took a small knife from her apron and cut off about a dozen of the linked sausages.  "We would like to help.  If you would, take these up with you, and ask that someone in authority to see that the sausage is served to the injured warriors."

She wrapped them up in waxed linen, and the boys thanked Dess and Paniel for their generous gift and were soon on the way.  “I hope there’s a store here when we could buy some candy,” Joey said.

"I do not think there are any sweet shops, but we can save our money for the next market day.  There is a woman with a cart who sometimes sells sugared nuts," said Bergil.

Joey sighed and nodded.  It was one of the hardest things about Middle-earth.  Things like candy, which were cheap and plentiful at home, were rare and hard to find here, sometimes.

-oo000oo-

"Jennifer!" 

Jennifer looked up, startled.  She had been deep in thought.  "Merry!  I didn't even see you." 

"I could tell," the hobbit said wryly.  "We—"  He gestured behind him where Jennifer could see Faramir and Éowyn, who were slowly strolling in their direction.  "—were headed to the gardens of the Houses of Healing.  Would you like to join us?"

Jennifer nodded.  "Yes, I think I would.  I had thought of searching for my little brother, who's out in the city today, but this is a very big city…"  She sighed.  "…so I gave up on that.  How are you doing, Merry?  What have you been up to?"

The hobbit chuckled.  "I've been trying my hand at matchmaking."  He gestured with a nod and a look at the couple who were strolling up to them.  "It's hard to tell how well I am doing."  He frowned and lowered his voice to a whisper.  "They talk for hours, but they hardly ever smile, and they haven't even held hands yet."

Jennifer spoke up, as the two were close enough now to hear them.  "Hello, Lord Faramir and Lady Éowyn!"

"Good day, Jennifer!"  Éowyn looked pleased to see her, and Faramir gave her a nod of greeting.  "How do you fare, today?"

"I'm all right," she replied.  "I'm at a loose end today; they didn't need my help in the Houses, so I really don't have anything in particular to do.  Merry invited me to join you in the gardens?"  She ended on a questioning note.  While she was sure that Merry welcomed their company, she wasn't so sure about the Steward's son and the Lady of Rohan.

"We would be glad to have you…Jennifer," Faramir said.  While Jennifer had told Faramir not to call her "Lady", she could tell that he was having to make an effort to be so informal.

Both of them still had their arms in slings, Faramir to spare his left shoulder, and Éowyn to support her broken right arm.  They had been walking side by side, their uninjured arms in the middle, and Jennifer could see what Merry meant: their hands were almost close enough to touch.  But they were not holding hands, and they had not been as they walked up.  She wondered if they still had not decided they were together, or if it was just the slow way people in Middle-earth seemed to do these things.  She couldn't help thinking about Aragorn and Arwen's forty-year betrothal…

The four of them made their way down the single level to the Houses of Healing, but headed out to the gardens.  They were to the north of the buildings, which were mostly low and single story or two, at the most, so that the Sun shone against the stone wall at the back.  There were fruit trees espaliered against the wall, cherry, peach, plum, and pear.  Of course, it was way too early for fruit there, but the cherry trees had begun to bud, and the others were starting to come into leaf.  Few herbs were in bloom, but the perennials were already fully leafed out, and the scents of rosemary, mint, savoury, balm, and basil were heady; even some of the other herbs had begun to leaf.  Creeping thyme grew on the paths between the beds and released its scent when stepped on.  The smoky smells left from the battle were here held at bay.

Gradually, Jennifer and Merry fell behind, allowing Faramir and Éowyn to walk on ahead of them.  The couple did not seem to notice.  "We need to stay where we can see them," said Merry.  "We don't need to be close enough to hear.  At least that's the way my mother always does, when she has courting couples to watch over."

Jennifer looked at Merry, surprised.  "Is that what we are doing?"  She hadn't thought of herself as a chaperone!

Merry looked up at her, his expression both serious and amused somehow.  "The Lord Faramir and the Lady Éowyn are of the highest blood in their lands.  They'd have all kinds of gossip to endure if they were out on their own without someone to watch over them.  I'm handy right now, having no other special duties.  Besides, it would be a very good thing for them to get together—they have a lot in common."

He glanced down at the fragrant herb bed they walked between and inhaled a deep breath.  "I could almost imagine myself at home in the Shire, with all the scents!  Frodo would love this garden, and so would Sam."

Jennifer smiled.  “Sam would love it even more than Frodo, wouldn’t he?”

"Well, he'd be eager to get down and dig, he would, and put his hands in the soil, that's for certain.  I wouldn't mind it myself," he added.  "I love herbs."  He went over to a small tree, no more than four feet high, with a thin trunk and a round canopy of large dark flat leaves.  "This is a nice bay," he said.  "They don't grow well in the Shire, except in the Southfarthing."

Jennifer had no idea Merry liked to garden, too.  "Do you have a garden?"

"Not my own.  But I help tend my mother's, at Brandy Hall.  Of course, the gardeners do the main work.  But I know how to plant and prune and weed and all, too."  His eyes, which had been mostly on the plants, looked up to check on Faramir and Éowyn.  The two of them had found a bench, and were speaking animatedly.  They appeared to laugh briefly, and Merry grinned.  "There!  That's a good thing, now!"

Jennifer laughed, too.  "You are a hoot, Merry!"

"What did you call me?"

"A 'hoot'!  It means you are very funny, in a good way!"  She thought for a minute. "I think maybe it's like if you find something funny, and you kind of hoot when you laugh."

"Well, then I thank you for the compliment, Jennifer!"  Merry grinned.

"Tell me more about the Shire, Merry.  I really wish I could see it for myself!"

The two of them found another bench, one where they could still see Faramir and Eowyn speaking, and Merry began with Buckland, painting a picture for her of life in Buckland, along the Brandywine River.  "…of course, Buckland is not in the Shire proper.  We are our own little land, and my father is its Master.  But we are thrown in with the Shire on many things, and the farmers in the Marish on the other bank look to the Master of Brandy Hall more than they do to the Thain in Tookland…"

Jennifer interrupted.  "Merry, Pippin says his father is a farmer, but then he also says his father is 'The Thain', which seems pretty important."

"Well, strictly speaking, both are true.  Uncle Paladin was not really meant to be Thain, but the Old Thain Ferumbras never married or had children, so that put Paladin in line.  But Paladin had a farm in Whitwell, one of the Tookish holdings.  That's where Pippin grew up.  But when Pip was fifteen, Ferumbras decided to step down as Thain, and so Paladin took over.  Puts Pip in line to take over after his father, which Pip doesn't really want.  So, Pippin tends to think of his father as the farmer Paladin was, when Pip was still a child."

Jennifer nodded, impressed.  “Is a Thain some sort of ruler, then?”

"Yes and no.  I mean, most of the Thain's duties are small.  He sees to the upkeep of the Brandywine Bridge and the Great East-West Road, which mostly consists of chivvying the landholders in that vicinity to check the bridge and fill in the potholes near their land every couple of years.  And he's in charge of the Shire Muster.  But they haven't had to be called out in well over a hundred years, back when Old Bilbo was a tween, and the wolves attacked when the Brandywine River froze over.  And he does have to preside over the convocation of the Families, if they have them—which they also haven't had to do as far back as I can remember."

"Is that it?"  Jennifer was surprised.  Was that all the government hobbits had?  “You mean, he doesn’t make and enforce laws and stuff like that?  He doesn’t run the Shire’s government?”

Merry looked surprised now.  "The Mayor is in charge of the Shirriffs and the Shire Post.  But the Shirriffs mostly are in charge of keeping stray animals out of people's gardens, taking lost children home, and also the occasional drunks; there are twelve of them, three for each Farthing of the Shire.  As for laws, the king gave us the laws when he gave hobbits the Shire.  That's all the laws we need.  If someone doesn't keep the law, their family punishes them, or if they are often lawbreakers, they are banished from the Shire.  But that's rather rare."

"Even murderers?" she asked.

Merry looked both shocked and offended.  "There has never been a deliberate murder in the Shire, though there've been a few wrongful deaths, which were accidental, but caused by someone who could've avoided it if they'd used any sense."

"Wow."  Jennifer thought of home.  There were always murders in the news.  Some were definitely murders people planned out in advance, while others were not planned out, though still intended.  She recalled that the very week before they had come on their camping trip, someone had pulled out a gun and shot at a car just because the other car had passed them!  He had killed two of the passengers, one of whom was a little six-year-old girl.  It had been on the local news; it had made Kaylee cry when the reporter had showed a picture of the little girl and interviewed her grandparents, who had also been crying and saying the person should go to jail forever.  What would it be like to live in a country where there were no murders, no terrorists, no people waving around and shooting guns off and killing little kids?

Merry is so lucky, she thought wistfully.  The Shire must be really peaceful, to have people like that!  People who would never murder anybody.  People who never even want to murder anybody!  I wish our world was like that.  It will be during the Millennium, I know, but I wish it was like that now.

Merry looked at her.  "You know, hobbits are a little different than Men.  We have very little inclination to violence, though if we are threatened, we do our best in a pinch.”

Jennifer looked back at him for a long moment.  “Yeah, I believe you do,” she said slowly, recalling how Merry had fought in Moria, and when the orcs were trying to capture him along with Pippin—and how he and Eowyn had killed the chief Ringwraith.  Hobbits weren't completely peaceful, but at least they only used violence when they had to.

-oo000oo-

Bergil and Joey raced uphill.  Bergil was taller, and was able to outpace him, but Joey was glad he was almost keeping up with the other boy, and tried to run faster—but so did Bergil.  The Gondorian boy put on another burst of speed and stopped in the Houses of Healing courtyard at the well, huffing and puffing and laughing breathlessly.

"I won!" he said.

Joey was breathing too hard to respond at first, as he bent over slightly with his hands on his knees.  Finally, he stood up and managed to say, "No kidding."

The two boys walked more slowly towards the main building of the Houses of Healing and then went in search of Dame Ioreth.  They finally located her returning from the Apothecary's rooms.

"Dame Ioreth," said Bergil, "we have something for you."

She looked surprised, since the two lads had been off for the afternoon.  "What is it, then, boys?" she asked.

"We helped two women who were cleaning up the rubble from their shop down in the Fourth Circle, and it was a sausage shop.  When we were done, one of them gave us some sausages to bring up here, to help with feeding the wounded!"

"Who were these women?" Dame Ioreth asked.

"They were named Dess and Paniel," said Joey.  "Paniel said her brothers were in the army."

"Ah!  I know that shop!  This is indeed a wonderful gift for our wounded warriors!"  She smiled, and the two boys handed the sausages over.

"What have you in mind for the rest of your day?  There is still daylight left."

"We thought we might try to find my sister, Dame Ioreth," Joey answered.

She nodded and smiled again.  "I believe someone spied her sitting in the courtyard of the Citadel not long ago.  Be sure to be back in the dormitory before curfew."

"Yes, Mistress," replied Bergil.  Joey nodded, and they started to walk up to the Citadel.

-oo000oo-

Merry touched Jennifer's arm.  "Look!"

Jennifer looked ahead.  A man had approached Faramir and Éowyn, and he was speaking to them.  Faramir nodded, spoke briefly to Éowyn, and left.  Turning around, Eowyn smiled at Merry and Jennifer and approached them.

“I would like to explore the City,” she said.  “Why do we not leave this garden and take a walk before sunset?”

Jennifer and Merry exchanged glances and nodded.  “Sure,” Jennifer said.  “I’d like that.”

“So would I,” Merry added.

The three of them left the gardens and started to take a walk down the Sixth Level.  Suddenly, Jennifer heard a young, familiar voice calling behind her: “Hey, Jennifer, Merry, wait up!”

The three of them whirled around to find Joey and Bergil walking towards them.  

“Joey!” Jennifer cried, as he halted in front of her.  “I tried to find you this morning, but I didn’t know where you were.”

“Yeah, well, Bergil and I have been busy doing stuff.”  Joey glanced at his companion.  “We’ve got some time off, so we thought we’d spend it exploring.”  He raised a hand in greeting.  "Hi, Lady Éowyn."  With a smile, she nodded in greeting.

“We did a few odd jobs around the City,” Bergil added.

Jennifer looked at the sky.  “We’ve got some time left to walk before we have to go back.  Why don’t we all walk together?”

“Sure.  And hey, guess what!  Bergil and I got to earn some money today!” Joey said, grinning at his sister.  “We helped some people here and there, and they paid us for it.  We helped a man load a cart, and also watched someone's dog, and they both tipped us.  And then we helped two women clean up the stones and trash around their shop.  They gave us some really good sausage.  And we took some sausage to Dame Ioreth for the wounded!”

“We each earned two brasses, and together, we received a copper,” Bergil added.

"That's nice!  Well, let's go walking while the sun is still out."  Jennifer smiled, and the five of them hurried down the street.





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