Bill the Pony's Ride

(Based on "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

LISTEN, my children, this is not phony,
To the amazing tale of Bill the Pony,
On the thirtieth of September, thirty-eighteen;
Hardly a hobbit is now seen
Who remembers that famous horse was bony.

Bob said to the hobbits, "All the horses stolen!
By hook or by crook in the dark last night,
All the stables and lofts just an empty hole in
The yard of the Pony, as if they took flight, --
One, over land, and two towards the sea;
And none on the opposite side will be,
Ready to ride or carry your supplies
Through any Middle Earth valley or rise,
And tho' I was early up, I heard no neighs nor cries."

Then he said "Good-day!" and with muffled oath
Began to search up and downtown both.
Just as the sun rose over the wall,
There grinning wide at the hedge so tall
Went Ferny, Bill, an "Orcish Man" his race;
A gapping grin, with each tooth and space
Across his leer like a prison-face,
And his lanky black hulk, that was magnified
By his own repulsive smelly hide.

Meanwhile, he spies all through alley and street
Slithers and watches with eager ears,
Till in the quiet around him he hears
The flustered hobbits at the Innkeep's door,
The sound of dismay, and the tramp of feet,
As the sharpest eyes of the Innkeeper,
Search, desperate, for their steeds along the street.

Then he went to his house by the Old East Hedge,
By the wooden fence, with stealthy mind,
To his darkened stable back behind,
And startled the pigeons from the edge,
Off the rotten rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, --
By the crumbling door, thin but tall,
To the scummy window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look out
A moment, past a dried-up spout,
At the sunlight oozing over all.

Beside him, in the stable, lay the horse,
As if night-enshrouded in the shed,
Wrapped in despair and rarely fed.
Then he could hear, like a coughing wheeze,
The painful horse-breath, as it puffed
Creeping along with snuffly snuffs,
And seeming to whisper, "Enough is enough!"
A moment only he notices the smell
Of the place and the hour, is secretly pleased
At his lonely stable and the horse;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something, hoping to gain,
Where the hedge widens to meet the lane, --
A line of credit, that'll bend and break
From his rising greed, like a rotten crate.

Meanwhile, impatient a mount to find,
Booted and cloaked, with a hurried stride
On the opposite side walked Bob of Bree.
Now though a thief he couldn't abide,
As he gazed on the landscape he could see
That with dishonest Ferny must be dealt,
And paused and tightened his money belt;
But he watched as he recalled his pledge,
The stable doors by the Old East Hedge.
That he'd find them a horse - tho' this one was ill,
Lonely and spectral and somber and still.
But lo! as he looks, in this pony's eyes
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He asks for the price, though bargain it's not,
He lingers, then pays, lo! full in his sight
Our pony hero is in that stable bought!

A clatter of hoofs in the village street,
A shape in the sunlight, a nag: bottom-rung,
But behold, from his muzzle, in passing, a tongue
Stuck out by a steed who was fearless and neat:
Great of heart! And in spite of his starving all night -
The fate of a world was depending on flight
Into the Wild - with this steed it was right.
Kindness indeed warmed his heart with its heat.

It was ten by the village clock,
When they finally went past the walls of Bree.
They heard the sneering of the man,
And the insults, then Sam took a stand
And felt an apple leave his hand,
Smacking Ferny's nose quite perfectly.

So they left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath them, tranquil and broad and deep,
Was the main Road, where the Forest balks;
And under the trees that skirt the rill,
Now soft Sam's voice, "Think I'll name you Bill,"
Was heard alongside this steed as he walked.

It was late when one night they stopped,
And they made their camp, kindling light
Beside the darkened Weathertop.
Then black in the moonlight something passed -
At that meeting they could only gasp and stare,
As Frodo fought a spectral glare.
A bit later they had to run, aghast,
But this burden Bill bore gentle through their flight.

It was later, Bill's burden gone ahead,
When they crossed the Ford near to Rivendell.
They'd heard the beating sounds of dread,
And the jangling of bells among the trees,
And felt black breath making their blood freeze
Blowing past them, the enemy fell.
And one was now safe and laying in bed
Who at the Ford was the first to fall,
Who that day was found asleep, not dead,
Tho' pierced by a Morgul blade and all.

You know the rest. In the books you have read,
How Bill and the Fellowship walked and fled, --
How Bill sheltered the hobbits from deep snowfall,
And behind them paced at their beck and call,
Following his Samwise down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to shift his load.

So through the story strode Bill the Pony;
And so up to Moria went his path with Sam.
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore -
For after "Mellon," Bill and Sam had to part,
And this steed of true faithfulness made his start
Far back in the travels of his Past,
Through all his history, to the last.
So when the hour of darkness and peril and need,
Was over, Sam found in Bree, no longer bony -
His happiest heart-beat for a steed,
In the un-hoped-for return of his Bill the Pony.

- Primula