The Preservation of Peace

Hobbits of the Shire are remarkable beings. They can be mischievous and bothersome, energetic and lazy, but most of all, they just want to keep the peace. Being a hobbit, Samwise Gamgee obviously wanted nothing more than to have a merry, joyful night in the Green Dragon (which served the finest ale in all of Middle Earth) with his close friends Marry and Pippin, with whom he had shared more than a few adventures. Or so his over trusting wife believed.

The evening was planned and well deserved. After caring tirelessly and lovingly for his children, including his tiny, youngest baby, Boromir – named after a brave, grand man – and tidying the gardens of the whole Shire, no small task, Sam had decided that he needed a break. "You'll go off on one of your adventures again! You're always telling the children about that Bilbo and his ravings of dragons and elves. He was quite mad that hobbit, quite mad! Associating himself with all sorts of people he was. And look where that got him. Vanished he did, I remember seeing him go PUFF into a wisp of smoke; though I wouldn't be a little bit surprised if he got himself blown up by one of that Gandalf's fire crackers." Rosie, Sam's beautiful, devoted and ever suffering wife lived in perpetual terror that he'd run away again, like he did with Frodo Baggins and the Brandybuck and Took cousins. Although that adventure was before their marriage, Rosie had missed him terribly and told all her fiends so, so when Sam returned they were the talk of the Shire, everyone hoping they would marry and settle down. But Sam could never really settle down. He was often saddened by memories which he refused to share with anyone, save Frodo, making them all the more bitter when Frodo left Middle Earth. Sam was often taken by thoughts of battles and evil he had endured, becoming oblivious to all around him. This lost him a few jobs trimming elegant bush swans. Mrs Proudfoot was not at all happy to find her prized swan beheaded ahead of her 75th birthday party and saw to warn everyone of that violent, malicious hobbit who shouldn't be trusted as far as her hobbit hole. Fortunately she had rather upset half the Shire that week by sending some young hobbits to steal several barrels of ale from the Green Dragon, quickly emptying it for a whole week, and only those in the Proudfoot family who dared not anger the aging Mrs Proudfoot joined the celebrations and most of Hobbiton ignored her ravings about the otherwise good natured Sam.

So, reluctantly, Rosie waved goodbye to her Sam one Friday afternoon, expecting to see him early the next day. He had arranged to stay overnight at Marry and Pippin new hobbit hole, which they had decided was necessary to carry out their mischief. It was very cosy indeed and featured many items of furniture looking surprisingly similar to that left at Frodo's abandoned residence in Bag End. "Well, you could hardly see any furniture in that hole, it's so covered in dust. How would you know if any were missing? If it were missing. Not that it is, of course…" Pippin smoothly replied in answer to all rumours that he had become a professional thief and could be attracting dragons for his loot. Marry took a rather more subtle approach to answering the question of where he had obtained his hole and furnishings by simply tapping loudly the bulging money bag he carried about him at all times. It had appeared after his last journey to Gondor to visit some old friends and run a few "errands."

With a smile on his face Sam set out to meet his friends, following the road to a stable on the outskirt of Bag End. He was itching to be off, almost running the last leg of the journey, attracting a few stares from ever-speculating neighbours. "Never seen someone so keen to get to the pub, they have," Sam chuckled to himself. He was bursting to be off, to meet his friends. His erratic behaviour was common now to his family, though this seemed a little fishy to them. He never wanted to talk about what had happened on his big adventure, even after all the nightmares, waking to discover he'd been throttling himself, muttering, screaming nonsensical names, places, words. He was glad to be off to see people he could relate to they thought. That was all.

But instead of following the road to the middle of Hobbiton, to the Green Dragon, neighbours saw him East to the edge of their home town. "Lovely night to be out admiring this beautiful sky," he'd remark to anyone who stared. All the way to Buckland where he met two equally peculiar hobbits waiting, pipes out, to begin their journey. Marry and Sam quickly nodded at each other as greeting "Are you ready to go to THE PUBLIC HOUSE, good friends?" Pippin slowly and clearly said, looking round to stare at any and all passers-by, engaging them in winks and nods, to the embarrassment of his companions. "Yes, good work, well done, everyone knows our alibi, Pip!" whispered the older of the cousins in frustration, before quickly mounting his pony and galloping off, closely followed by Sam and Pip, narrowly avoiding knocking over a group of hobbits who were really going to the pub.

The trio said nothing until they were well out of Buckland and bordering the Old Forest. They all wore signs of anxiety as they rode closer and closer to their destination and adventure. It wasn't just because of their proximity to the lethal and mysterious woods that they were riding faster than any hobbit had previously been recorded riding in that part of Middle Earth. Not that there had been any recording of a hobbit, pony speed record before. They had discussed an attempt one night, even decided on the fasted pony for the job, but by the end of the night, it was decided that it wasn't worth wasting valuable drinking time over. And besides, adventure was something that ought not to be meddled in by hobbits, they said.

"Do you think we'll get there in time?" Pippin shouted over the sound of hooves crunching the dead leaves of autumn. "He'll probably come and find us if we don't, drag us into a dark corner, have words with us if we don't, like old times," replied Marry, cringing. "He can't do that now, not with who he is now," sighed Sam. "And if my I'm late home tomorrow and my Rosie gets a whiff of this, a dark corner won't be the worst of your worries." It felt like in their new lives, they were just a shadow of who they were on their adventures. As they got reached the trees began to thin out, the peculiar group headed north, remembering the first time they had come this way, in the fog and confusement. At least there were stars to guide the way this time.

After another hour, they brought slowed to a gentle trot, reaching the small town of Bree, much to the gratitude of the poor ponies, who were used to only being brought out for the children to pet and occasionally learn to ride. Their Mother never thought it necessary. Gladly, they rode freely into the town and after reaching a small sign reading "The Prancing Pony," dismounted. They handed the ponies to the stable-boys, Marry flipping a coin or two in their direction and entered the familiar tavern. There was no need to ask where there friend was, and who would they ask for now? Sat, disguised in the shadow of the corner, was the Ranger – The King of Gondor.