Summary: A series of connected vignettes set throughout the Quest about hobbit feet.
Disclaimer: All characters, settings and events referenced in the story belong to the Tolkien Family.
Hobbit feet are tough. They have to be, after all hobbits rarely wear shoes or boots, regardless of the weather. Instead their feet have naturally tough soles and the tops are covered by thick hair. They're tough, but not inpenetrable. Thinking back on our journey, I'm surprised there weren't more problems. The ones we did have, well some were potentially serious, while others were quite amusing.
"Burrs!" The one word was filled with disgust and exasperation, the way Sam said it. Frodo and I had escaped the worst of it, but looking at the other three hobbits and the pony, I could see why he sounded that way. There'd been a few problems with the clingy plant seeds before, but nothing like this. The pony's legs and underbelly were thickly sprinkled with the things, especially the tufts at his fetlocks. As for his tail, the less said the better, but Sam had quite a job before him to get the pony groomed and free of the seeds.
Looking at Pippin, I couldn't help but stifle a chuckle. He was balanced on one foot and pulling at the hair on the other. I'd seen the hair on his feet in various states before, dusty, muddy, wet, but never spiky. Merry and Sam were in the same state. It appeared that their feet had been thickly covered by the little brown balls. As had the cuffs of their trousers.Actually, there were burrs up to the hobbits' waists. At the same time Pippin was muttering to himself. I couldn't quite make out what he was saying, but I suspect that if Merry wasn't in the same state, he'd have been scolding the youngest of the hobbits for his language.
Frodo had escaped the worst of it because he was mounted on the pony, and I because there wasn't as much opportunity for the things to cling to my clothes. Oh, I had a few stuck to me, including one or two that had managed to work their way into my boots, but nothing too bad, at least not when compared to the poor hobbits. Clearly, I was going to have to give them time to deal with the worst of the uncomfortable situation now that we were out of the problem area.
I called a short halt and helped Frodo down from his pony-back perch. Merry and Pippin had immediately sat down and began picking the burrs out of the matted hair on their feet. Sam, on the other hand had ignored his burr-covered feet and legs and started to work on Bill, the pony's legs after checking on the Ringbearer.
It only took a moment or two for me to remove the burrs that I was wearing involuntarily, so I convinced Sam to work on his feet, while I cleared the prickly mess off of the pony's legs. Actually, I should say that Frodo managed to convince Sam to worry about himself for a change. I had no luck at it. Even so, he was soon carefully untangling the seeds from the pony's coat. Ten minutes or so later, we were still wearing burrs, but most of the remaining ones were not in places to cause trouble. Still, once we set up camp a few hours later, it took the hobbits half an hour or so to get rid of all the burrs they were still wearing.
Aragorn chuckled at the memory. Sam was finding burrs in Bill's tail all the way to Rivendell, some ten days later. None of us were sure if they were new ones or left-overs from that bad patch. Generally we ran into a few burrs each day. Luckily, that day was more amusing than troublesome compared to some of the other problems that we had. Actually, I've heard them laughing and joking about their memories of the 'Day of the Burrs' as the four of them call it now.