An Elvish mistake leads to a new threat to the Shire and a dangerous adventure for four Hobbits, a band of unwilling Dwarves and a pair of Elves sent to prevent the disaster from occurring.
Middle Earth, Hobbits, Dwarves et all. Belong to the creative genius of JRR Tolkien. I hope he will forgive my fumbling attempt to 'borrow' them for my own pleasure.
Authors Note: This story is based loosely around the time of the mysterious disappearance of Samwise Gamgee and the Appendices from The Lord of the Rings.
Constructive criticism and comments are welcome on e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
This story is rated PG13
©R Gower 2003
Rumours from Abroad
"I hear's tell of Dwarfs over yonder Evendim," Thrace Sandyman spouted to the clientele in the The Ivy in general.
"You hears tell of a lot of things nobody else has mind to listen to, Sandyman," old Bowman called him down to the general laughter in the cosy fire lit parlour of the inn. "What if there were. It ain't as if they've settled in Bywater or Hobbiton and I doubt they be interested in your mill either. Not at your prices."
"It's true I says," Sandyman persisted. "My Brock saw 'em from up on top of the North Downs. They had carts an' all. I don't hold with it. The old King, he said that all that land belong to us an' he would protect us. They should be made to go."
"The King's a seven 'undred leagues to the south, he ain't going to worrit none about a few Dwarves, Sandyman. An' them hills ain't part of the Shire, and all there is below it is marsh 'n' moor nobody cares for," a voice called from amongst the faces. "If yer so worried why not see 'em off?"
There was more laughter. The Sandyman's were not the most popular inhabitants of the Shire at present for the price of his flour. Though that had not been his fault, the excessively wet summer and autumn of the previous year had seen to that, the poor crops from the fields of the Shire forcing him to bring grain in from beyond Bree.
"Tain't a few," Sandyman argued. "They had carts an' all. You mark my words. No good comes from dwarves."
"Sides," he added darkly. "It be sixty years since that Frodo Baggins went off and there were trouble. Sixty afore that were Bilbo Baggins, then there were the Trolls that came in uninvited afore that."
There was a reflective silence. Sandyman had a point, as far as it went.
Every sixty years or so something happened in the Shire and Hobbits hated things happening that were not related to a steady supply of food and drink. That was the limit of his point. In the way of rural myth, much of the truth had been lost in the retelling and the happenings outside of the Shire were considered irrelevant. Thus the unfortunate things that had heralded the return of the King were placed squarely upon the shoulders of Gandalf the wizard and Frodo Baggins, neither being there to defend themselves. Whilst Samwise, Meriadoc and Peregrin were hailed saviours and suitably rewarded.
That there was a king that ruled the whole of Eriador and had graciously extended the Hobbit homeland upto the foothills of Evendim was, if not appreciated, accepted. Otherwise life for Hobbits was much as it had always been and they had successfully managed to avoid contact with the world outside the Shire borders.
As it happened Sandyman was not the only one that had news of the newly arrived Dwarvish band. Will Whitlow, as newly elected Mayor of the Shire and by tradition also Chief Sherrif, Postmaster General and a number other civil dignitaries in the one package, had also heard via numerous individual tales. It worried him. Then most things did. Will Whitlow was the worrying kind. He worried that the rains may not arrive, then when they did there would be too much water. It meant he tended to inaction, which suited Shire folk to the ground.
The news he received, of a potential invasion of Dwarves, suggested that simply worrying about it would not make the problem go away. It was going to need action.
He took it. Shrugging on his threadbare jacket he scurried out the door of his modest hole and down the New Row towards Bag End.
"What do you be hurrying for, Master Whitlow?" Samwise greeted him cordially as he entered the path for the door of Bag End.
Samwise was sat easily upon his garden chair supervising the kneeling 'Young Tom' as he tended the garden. Despite his 101 years Samwise had not lost his love of gardening and could still grow vegetables to match those of his gaffer, but now largely preferred to supervise the activities of his numerous children. Being oft to remind them that was how he had started out, then regaling them of stories of how he did for Mister Frodo and how he would do so again one day.
For their part, the children as youngsters had listened enthralled at the tales of adventure, then as maturity had grown upon them, with rather less enthusiasm, until the point of dutiful tolerance. Like the chore of being supervised whilst tending the garden. Any interruption was welcome.
"I'll get Daisy to bring out some tea?" Tolman offered seeing that Will was intent on talking to his Gaffer. He scrabbled to his feet, dusting rich loam from his trousers and disappeared towards the hole.
"He's a good lad my Tom," Sam offered congenially. "Good green fingers, even if I don't tell him so as oft as I ought. Now make yourself at home whilst we wait for Daisy?"
There are rituals in all societies that must be observed for politeness, from simply commenting on how wonderful your neighbours new curtains are, (even if they do look like the moulded cheese you threw away the week before), to the formal actions of a Chinese Tea Ceremony.
Tea for Hobbits has the concatenations of both, not that mouldy cheese would ever be permitted on the table of Samwise Gamgee. Thus it proved to be as old Rose, Sams wife, Daisy and young Rose toiled out in procession, each bearing trays laden with tea, wine, bread, well cured ham and finest Westmarch cheeses. Minor business of state would wait, in favour of the far more serious.
"Now, Master Whitlow, what brings you here?" Sam asked, his belly pleasingly comfortable, leaned back in his rustic chair. From the ground beside him he picked his pipe and pouch. The later he offered to Will.
"There be stories of Dwarves over Evendim," Will said, carefully filling his own small corncob with fine Brandybuck leaf before handing the pouch back to his host. "The Bounders think they is settling. You knows dwarves what should we do?"
In silence Samwise filled his own long pipe as he thought, his eyes misting in memory. "Dwarves is alright," he said finally, striking a match and sharing the taper with his guest.
He leant back in his chair sucking contentedly. "They can give you a nasty shock, mind, if you ain't prepared. I remember when I first met them. I were with Mister Frodo, I were, when I first met them. Good thing to. Real fiery chap was that Mr Geswen, red beard and iron hat with horns. And the way he waved his hammer. Never have known he could make toys as dainty as you please, working ones at that mind!"
He sucked again and blew a long streamer of smoke. "Thinks you can ignore them they won't hurt. I doubt there is much in those hills to keep them happy. So I doubt they'll be there for long. Now will you stay for a spot of lunch?"