It seemed merchants and traders customarily set up
in the same spot, or near it, every year so Oswald,
Daisy and Dickon, experienced fairgoers that they
were, knew exactly where to find everything they
wanted to see. Estel, Amin and Meleth bewildered and
even a little frightened by the noise and press of people
were glad to follow their lead.

 The first stop was a tent-top like the Elves' but
smaller and bright orange in color. The tables
underneath it were spread with a wide variety of toys.

 There were wax dolls some small as your hand and
others as long as your forearm. The smaller ones were
cast from a mold with faces and clothes painted on but
the larger and more elaborate had moveable arms, yarn
hair and glass eyes, and were dressed in colorful
cloth costumes. Most wore the full skirts and laced
bodices of countrywomen but a few had long gowns of
blue or crimson with tiny necklaces, bracelets and
circlets of brass or tin. 

 There were also ranks of little men cast in
brightly painted lead-tin, on foot or on horseback
wearing countrymen's breeches and jackets. And larger
more elaborate figures of craftsmen at their
workbenches whose arms and heads moved if you pulled a
string. And there were long, thin figures in green
clothes with little bows over their shoulders and
swords at their sides clearly meant to be Rangers.

 Not to mention wooden puppets on sticks, carts and
wagons with horses to draw them, animal figures in
wood or china. Doll houses and doll sized furniture,
dishes and tools. Tops and balls and skittles and
hoops and anything else you could think of. 

 The toys were crude and garish compared to Elf made
playthings but had the charm of novelty. Meleth's
dolls were of ivory with silken hair and crystal eyes
and real jewelry of gold or silver set with tiny gems,
not plump wax figures with red painted cheeks and
braided brown wool hair. Her brothers had literal
armies of small metal warriors, footmen and horsemen
each with his own individual armour and weapons, but
no farmers or craftsmen, nor Rangers either.

 Estel picked up one of the little figures. It was
odd when you thought about it, he would be Chief of
the Rangers someday but all his toy soldiers were
modelled on the Elves and Men of the Elder Days. 

 "Are you going to buy that?" Oswald asked.

 "I don't know," Estel showed him the copper coin,
"will this be enough?"

 The other boy gave him a look of disbelief. "You
can get at least four for that!"

 So he did. Four was the usual number of a Ranger
patrol anyway. And Oswald bought a handful of round
polished stones. 

 "You act like you've never had any money to spend
before." Oswald told him as they walked away, each
clutching a little hemp bag. 

 "We haven't," Amin piped up, seeing his brother was
at a loss, "we don't use it in the valley."

 Oswald shook his head. "Funny place you live."

 "When was the last time *we* used money at home,
smarty?" Daisy asked sharply. "Don't be rude, Oswald."

 "And don't you start talking like Celia!" her
brother snapped back, adding apologetically to Estel:
"I didn't mean to be rude, I was just surprised."

 "That's all right." Estel assured him. "Fact is we
think the Angle's a pretty odd place, so it stands to
reason you'd find our valley just as peculiar." Little
did Oswald know how peculiar!

 Their next stop was one of the Dwarven booths,
manned by three stocky Firebeards 1* from the Blue
Mountains. Part of their stock was a selection of
folding knives, some with several different blades for
specialized uses, 2* that fascinated all six children
but were much to expensive to buy. 

 Eventually the Dwarves began to show signs of
annoyance as the children lingered, fingering the
knives and getting in the way of other customers, so
Amin bought a small brass box with a lock and a key
worked in intricate curlicues to mollify them, and the
children moved on.

 To a smaller booth with broaches, pins, necklaces,
pendants and buckles of copper or silver or gilt
inlaid with enamel or nacre or colored glass displayed
on a dark felt spread over the counter. The Attmeades
greeted the jeweler, a round little man with greying
hair and bright brown eyes, like an old friend.

 "Bertred's been *everywhere*," Oswald told the
children from Rivendell proudly, "over the Mountains
and even to the South Kingdom."

 That would be Gondor, and explained why the jeweler
was looking at them with such startled attention. He
would have seen Dunedain in the south and doubtless
recognized Estel, Amin and Meleth as being of the same
kind. 

 "Errol, Amund and Melly are from the Weavers'
Valley," Oswald continued blithely, "have you ever
been there, Bertred?"

 "No, I can't say that I have." 

 "Come to think of it," Oswald mused, "I don't think
I've ever met anybody, other than Lewin and his
carters, who've seen the valley."

 "We're very hard to find and don't get many
visitors." Estel said quickly, and almost honestly. 

 In the meantime Meleth and Daisy were busily
examining the jewelry, which was quite unlike the
Elvish work the former was accustomed to. A few pieces
had a Numenorean flavor but most were in an unfamiliar
style all interlacing serpentine filigree or intricate
cellwork inlaid with colored glass or enamel. 3*

 A small broach in the shape of a running horse in
copper cellwork and deep red glass took Meleth's fancy
and Daisy, after much thought, bought a string of
blue and yellow glass beads. By the time she'd finally 
made up her mind the sun was directly overhead and it 
was time to go back to the Inn for lunch.
 *********************************************

1. Firebeards is one of the Seven tribes of Dwarves,
(Durin's Folk are the Longbeards). Nogrod, the great
Dwarf city of the Southern Ered Luin, was their
ancestral home. It stood about where the Gulf of Lune
is in the Third Age, destroyed in the sinking of
Beleriand. But their lesser dwellings and mines
further south survived and their people still live in
the southern range of the Blue Mountains. As their
tribe name suggests they are usually red bearded.
(Mostly Canon)

2. Bet you never knew the so-called 'swiss army knife'
was actually invented by Dwarves! ;) (Decidedly *not*
Canon!)

3. Most of Bertred's stock in trade is made in the
styles and techniques of the Northmen, (think Viking
and Saxon jewelry), he comes from one of the Mannish
settlments along the Anduin, (later united by Beorn
and his son) and like most of the Men of the Anduin
vale has Northmen blood mixed with that of the dark
haired and swarthy skinned Men who've lived east of
the Mountains since the Elder Days. (Fanon)