It was raining, lots.
Pippin looked thoroughly soaked as he squelched between some bushes and
Frodo, who was hunched up apparently listening to something.
"Hey Frodo, what's going on? I'm soaking wet and we'll be out here ages
before we get to the next nearest Inn. Have you got any spare cloaks in
those packs Sam's lugging "
He leaned against a tree, huddling into his damp jacket before suddenly
slipping on the bark and rolling down the slope.
"Hey," he called. "That's funny, its not raining over here!"
A bearded figure grunted somewhere in the distance and the rain
mysteriously moved slightly to keep all the hobbits wet.
Frodo squinted up at the little grey raincloud that was following them
as they squished and squelched along. He tried dodging rapidly from
side to side for a while, leaving a wet
zigzag as he went. The cloud stubbornly stayed exactly over his
head, though the others fell behind him. He finally had to stop,
out of breath.
"Why is it only following me?" he panted, " You got away from it, but
it stays with me! No fair..."
Somehow he guessed it must have Something to do with the Evil of the
Ring. But he couldn't remember Gandalf mentioning it attracting
clouds. With a resigned sigh, he figured he was just going to
have to wait until the cloud ran out of water.
The Brandywine could be heard up ahead of them now. They zeroed in on
the sound and followed it, as the woods were starting to get kind of
dark. Up ahead they could just make out the light from the
ferryman's cottage. They were relieved to see it, and looked forward to
a warm bath and bed in Crickhollow.
Suddenly something bright blue dashed out of the hut, looked at the
hobbits, fluttered its wings, and dashed back inside.
The Bucklebury Fairy skittered into the Ferryman's room and tried to
wake him up, but the hobbit slept like a log. She sighed and
dashed back out, it looked like she was in charge of things at night
The blue thing was there again in a moment, and disappeared behind the
"What is that?" the Fairy heard one of them say. She'd wait for them to
get here, but something was making her nervous
at the moment. Something...scary beyond all reason!
There was a sudden sound of hooves behind them in the dark, and loud,
creepy sounding music!
"Bucklebury Fairy! Follow me!" cried Merry and charged through the
bushes toward the nearby river. The others looked at each other,
shrugged and followed him.
"What did he say?" shouted Pippin to Frodo as he shoved bushes aside
and leaped ferns.
"I don't know - that creepy music was too loud. But he's going
somewhere, and fast. And we need to get away from that
To the tune of Sam's wildly clanging pans, they charged down towards
the river with the sound of hooves getting louder and louder behind
them. A wooden fence suddenly loomed up out of the river's mist.
With hardly a pause, Pippin vaulted it, following Merry. Sam
struggled over a bit more slowly, hampered as he was with his large
pack. Frodo glanced back and his eyes widened even further
than usual as a dark black horse and rider came charging out of the
trees towards them.
He didn't even remember vaulting the gate, he was moving so fast. In
short order he had reached the bank of the river where the others
stood, panting and looking around in the gloom.
"Wh....wh....where's the ferry?"
Behind them there was the sound of a thud and muttered cursing as the
rider's horse balked and refused to jump the fence. Frodo looked
at the deep, rushing water in front of them, and then back over his
shoulder at the horse on the other side of the closed gate.
"Hi!" said the horse amiably as it's rider muttered and kicked in
futility at its sides.
The Bucklebury Fairy zipped out from behind the hut and hovered above
the hobbits' heads for a moment like a giant blue dragonfly. Abruptly,
she grabbed Merry's shirt and began to fly across the river with him.
The other hobbit's eyes nearly bugged out of their heads, but by the
time she had set him down on the other side, he had struck up an
interesting conversation about the best way to eat mushrooms. Soon the
Fairy was back for another one.
"Which one first?" she said in a little voice.
"Which one first?" asked again.
Meanwhile, Bill was in his stable, pacing. (if ponies can pace, that
is) "Where is that Sam? He should be here by now."
"I'm coming soon, Bill! Just hold yer horses!"
around. "Do you really want me to hold my horses?"
Sam sighed. "No, of course not! I just, well, nevermind...just hang
"What's taking you so long?"
"Well, you see, right now, we are following this blue thing, and Mr.
Merry is talkin to it. Don't know how long it will be for us to get to
Bree, but we're taking the Fairy to it."
"Fine then, Sam, but I'm sick of hiding for Barliman! Hurry
Sam turned to Merry. "Um, do you think you can tell this thing to hurry
up a little?"
Frodo looked at Sam like he was addled.
"I'm not Merry, he's across the river there - and I don't even know
what that thing is much less how to hurry it. Are you all right,
Sam? It's me - your Frodo. Don't you know your Frodo?"
The Fairy buzzed her wings impatiently, spraying them with glitter and
making them sneeze.
Okay, who's going next ? asked Pippin,
The others dithered and Frodo kept looking back over his shoulder in a
distracted fashion, what with the rain, the darkness and all Pippin
hadn't noticed the black horse and rider.
I know Rock paper scissors! One, two, three.
Frodo made paper & Sam made scissors as Pippin's fist showed he'd
picked rock, and won. Hauled up by the strong but diminutive
ferry fairy the hobbit of some intelligence was soon on the other bank
with his cousin.
'How did you choose?' asked Merry watching the slightly erratic flight
of the fairy on the next trip.
'Oh the old rock, paper, scissors. Frodo always makes paper and Sam
always makes scissors first go in five, did you not know its a
great way to decide who gets the round in?!' replied Pippin.
Just then there was a damp thud followed by a clang as the fairy
dropped off Sam.
The Fairy whizzed back across the river to get Frodo. Just before she
reached him, the Ringwraith finally got the gate open and the horse
came charging forward.
The Fairy frantically tried to lift Frodo, but his overcoat came off
and he fell down. The Fairy tried again, this time successfully getting
him into the air. The Ringwraith's horse galloped right up to them,
"HI!" it said cheerfully again. The Ringwraith screeched at his steed
and kicked it repeatedly for it's friendliness. By then, the Fairy was
across the river and dropped Frodo in a heap on the other side.
Frodo gasped for breath - it had not been a comfortable feeling, having
the water right under his kicking feet like that. The Fairy had
been getting kind of tired by the time she got to him, so he had only
been inches off the water most of the way over. He clambered back to
his feet and adjusted his coat, watching as the bright blue...whatever
it was....made its way back to the far side again.
"Quick - let's get away from here before that thing tries to carry that
black rider and horse over!"
Brushing glitter off of their clothes and out of their hair, they
turned down the lane and headed for Crickhollow as fast as they
could manage, considering the dark. The sound of the river slowly
faded behind them but they heard no hooves, no cheerful equine
greetings. As the small light in the windows of Crickhollow hove
into view, they finally began to relax. A hot bath, a hot
meal, a soft bed! They all hoped Fatty had done his job properly
and that is what they would find.
Sam sat down and leaned his head on one hand. He coulda sworn it was
Merry he was talkin to. This whole telepathy thing was still confusing
and was causing him alot of stress. Frodo came over and asked if he was
"Yes, Mr. Frodo, I'm fine. I just need some food, and maybe some sleep.
I guess steppin on the road for that little bit just rattle me up
"Well, ok then. Get some rest, Sam." He handed Sam a mushroom.
Everything seemed to clear up after that.
Meanwhile, at the house in Crickhollow...
::YAWN:: "That was a nice nap! Now for snacks... let's see, theres some
cheese, cornbread, a nice apple pie, strawberry tart, gooseberry jelly,
butter, coffee, tea, cream, cold chicken, sourdough bread... just
enough for an evening nibble."
Fatty chatted to himself as he wandered around the kichen gathering the
food and utensils and placing them on the table... after he cleared off
a corner. It took a while to find everything he wanted what with having
to dig through the dirty dishes and piles of rubbish.
Boxes of Frodo and Bilbo's things were stacked along the walls, still
packed. The beds had not been assembled and the only tub was filled
with cold gray-water from Fatty's last bath. Piles of rumpled clothes
covered the furnishings, discarded trash littered the floor. The fire
had gone out during Fredigar's nap and now the house was getting
chilled by the night air. Fatty pulled on another sweater and sat down
Just as he was about to sink his teeth into a huge sandwich, there was
a knock at the door. Irritated at the interruption, he set his sandwich
down rather forcefully. With fire in his eyes and a rumble in his belly
he crossed the great room to the entry hall.
Even if he could have seen his feet past his belly, he wasn't watching
where he stepped.
"Oh, drat and botheration! Who is iiiiiiiiiiiit?"... just before he
reached the entryway, his foot stepped on some moldering bit of last
week's elevensies, sending his bulk smashing through the door!
"Oh!!" sputtered Fatty, breathless with surprise, "Mr. Merry! You're
here sooner than I expected..." His eyes traveled past Merry's
expression of disbelief to the horrified faces of Pippin, Sam and Frodo.
Frodo gaped at the broken door and the horrific heap that was revealed
beyond it. And besides that, the house was a mess too!
"Fatty!" he managed to sputter. "What have you done...?! Where's our
hot bath and warm fire and....and....." He trailed off and heaved a
"On the other hand, at least you're consistent." He stepped over
Fatty's prostrate fat and waded into the house, wrinkling up his nose.
Somehow he didn't think he'd be staying very long.
"Sam!" he called back over his shoulder, "Get to work! Hot bath! Hot
fire! Hot food! Clean floors! Clean beds! Hop to it!"
He scooped debris off of an easy chair and sat down to watch.
Sam looked at him in disbelief.
"What? Why not make Fatty do it? It was his job in the first place.
Besides, I'm a gardener, not a housekeeper, and I just don't feel too
It was true. Normally Sam would have done it, but for now, Sam was
achey all over and everyonce in a while Bill would say something to
him, causing Sam to flinch. Sam batted his eyes, hoping that Frodo
would let him rest. When it didn't look like Frodo would let him, Sam
sat down on the nearest chair, crossed his arms, and wouldn't
Sure, he was being ornery, but he had a right to, didn't he?
Frodo widened his big blue eyes piteously and little tears welled up in
the corners of them.
"B...but Sam" he whispered softly with heartbroken tone "How can you,
of all people, say something like that to me? *sniffle* I.. I'm
your very, very own Master
, and I always
look out for
you, and I'm so
weary and dejected and..... *sniffle*" He wiped his eyes with the back
of his hand and pouted endearingly at his dear, dear Sam on whom he
relied for everything that really mattered in life.
The others sniffled in sympathy as they waited to hear what Sam
"And besides," Frodo added in his soft, entreating voice, "You don't really
want to eat something Fatty has cooked, do you?....."
Sam sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Of course I don't want to eat Fatty's cooking, and I never said I
wouldn't do the cooking. But if I am to cook the food, I'm not also
taking on the job of cleaning and getting the baths ready. Fatty can do
that," he glared at Fatty. "Besides, it was his job in the first place.
I will need some help in the kitchen though. Pippin, you're helping.
Just until the baths are ready, anyway. Then I suggest you take the
first one." Sam wrinkled his nose. Merry looked at him in disbelief, as
Sam is not normally so 'Take charge', but I guess when food and less
work is involved, anything can change a hobbit.
Pippin, looked dubiously down the hall at the state of the kitchen,
"Well given the state of the kitchen, if I do anything in there I'll
need the first bath!"
He turned to leave and there was a sickening squelch noise
"Fatty, I'm not goin to look at what I've stepped in but if you don't
clean up, starting with the bathroom, there will be con-se-quen-ces."
Fredegar scowled at Pippin and Sam, but grudgingly (and none too
gracefully) heaved himself up off the floor. With a last longing glance
at his sandwich he turned toward the bathroom.
Though outwardly he appeared peeved at having to clean things up, he
really was mortified at the state of the house. A hobbit who loves both
food and leisure, and with a propensity for procrastination, Fatty
often finds himself in embarassing situations. He set to work with a
will, tackling the heavy job of dragging the full tub outside to dump
the gray-water first.
Left to himself in the parlour, Frodo sighed and put his feet up for a
few minutes but the chill of the house was too uncomfortable to rest
properly. He poked the fire a bit to stir up the embers and blew
on it until he got it going again. Feeling pleased with himself
for having managed that little trick without any help from Sam,
he ate Fatty's abandoned sandwich and curled up on the settee to watch
the others work.
Outside it grew fully dark and he wondered how he was going to manage
to give Merry, Pippin and Fatty the news that he and Sam were heading
out again right away. He decided he would write it in secret
code, and getting a scrap of paper he began to work on it with lemon
juice serving for ink. He thought about checking in the other
rooms to see if he could locate a proper pen, but it sounded like they
were having a food-fight in the kitchen, and Fatty filled the
bathroom sufficiently to leave little room for anyone else. The
house was warming up and getting steamy.
"Dibs on the first bath!" he hollered to no one in particular.
Red faced and sweating profusely, Fatty poked his head out from the
bathroom when he heard Frodo's exclamation,
"No need to argue about who goes first, I've found 3 other tubs among
the stuff Mr. Merry had delivered! Just have to draw the water." His
large round face beamed with excitement as he stepped back into the
bathroom. He was slow to start, but once you got him going he was like
a charging bull: hard to stop and dangerous if you got in his way!
He emerged carrying two large buckets, "Mr. Frodo, now that you've got
the fire going, would you kindly put the kettle on? Unless you'd
like to bathe in fresh-drawn COLD water!" Then he stumped out the door
to the water pump at a breathless pace.
Frodo obligingly swung the iron pot on it's hook over the fire.
Figuring that he had made a worthy enough contribution to that effort,
he wandered over to the door and peered out at Fatty by the well.
The night was kinda...creepy. He thought about the horse and
rider and wondered if they'd crossed the river or not...
"Hey!" said Fatty, "How about a little help over here?"
Frodo, thinking he'd heard "Hi!" jumped in the air, slammed and bolted
the remains of the door all in one movement. A moment later as
his pounding heart began to slow again, he realized what he had heard
had been in Fatty's voice, and he sheepishly opened the door just in
time to let a glaring Fatty back in.
"Isn't that food ready yet?" he hollered into the kitchen as he headed
back to his chair. He moodily ate the rest of Fatty's snack. You just
couldn't find good help these days.
Sam peeked out of the kitchen to where Frodo was sitting. "Yes, the
food's almost finished.....if Pippin would stop 'tasting' it!" he said
in a scolding tone. "You'll have to set the table though. We're too
busy in here to do it."
Frodo seemed quite helpless towards them. You'd think that he thought
he owned the place!
Frodo continued working on his secret note, but found it was difficult
to tell where he had already written with the lemon juice. Maybe
it would be better just to tell them plainly. Suddenly remembering that
the table needed clearing, he looked at it with disgust and considered
the problem. He didn't want to touch any of what he saw, so he finally
just spread a fresh tablecloth right over the mess and kind of mashed
it as flat as he could. That would do.
He pulled out one of Bilbo's old maps and considered the best route to
Bree. The road wended all over the place - he figured they could save
lots of time if they took a shortcut through the Old Forest - it was
only a few inches wide on the map and colored a nice friendly green. It
couldn't be that bad.
Meanwhile in Orthanc...
Saruman still hadn't come out to greet his old friend, even though,
according to Radagast he was expected - sort of. No he hadn't sent a
letter saying he was definitely coming, but no message would have
reached him any sooner than Gandalf's arrival so he didn't worry about
it all that much. Besides, in the last century or so, a lot of his mail
had either gotten misplaced and didn't arrive on time or never arrived
Gandalf had already paced a loop around the tower's base with no sight
of the other wizard. He couldn't find where Saruman had moved the
stables to since his last vists so he gave his steed water from his own
canteen and cared for his horse with the Elven currycomb getting all
the sweat and dirt off his steed.
Then since Saruman still hadn't appeared he took his own personal Elven
brushes out and gave himself the once-over. With clean robes and
hair, the grey wizard then ambled up the steps again to knock on the
door with his staff, hoping Saruman might be awake now and could hear
him, all the while grumbling at the wind that was messing up his clean
Saruman walked towards the door saying, "I don't want any cookies! Go
away!" but when he opened the door and saw Gandalf, he changed his
manner. "Oh! well, hello there, old friend. I didn't think you'd be
here so soon." He burped.
Gandalf just looked at them, but then noticed a crumb hanging from his
lip. He uncomfortably tried to tell Saruman it was there, but he wasn't
getting the hint. He just kept talking.
"....so anyway, old friend, that is why I couldn't get to you.
Let's take a walk around all my trees."
As they walked, Gandalf asked, "Why are you not wearing your
Saruman looked down, and noticed too, that his outfit was not his usual
white robes. Instead, it was more of an off-white dress type thing. (or
muumuu, if you prefer)
"Oh! Well, you see, I can't find my white robe. No one can, so I'm just
wearing this as a replacement until my other robe comes back."
Meanwhile, on the road between Buckleberry Ferry and the gate to
Buckland, a dark rider moves stealthily
I realize I am one of the undead, but honestly, can't the giant
Flaming Eye see that I am Hungry?! There are only nuts and
berries here. What am I . . . the Black Squirrel of Mordor?
And those pesky hobbits we were chasing had MUSHROOMS. This horse
wasn't the only thing here with a frothing mouth!
Say . . . I know! When I get to the gate, I'll tell them my name
is Pete, and that I am a travelling teapot salesman, and if they would
be kind enough to make some crumpets, I will furnish them with the most
wonderful tea they have ever had. By the time they have the food
on the table, I will just snatch some and run. They are short and
portly, they will NEVER catch me on Creampuff, my trusty steed.
Especially when I say his name in the black language that Sauron likes
so well. And why not . . . these little people are not going to
be afraid of 'Creampuff', but one hearty "Heigh-ho Grablaxt
away!" and they are looking for a table to hide
under. As he nears the gatehouse, his heart is lightened by
a wall with a small window in it.
Well I never! These backwoods bumpkins finally figured out how to
build a "Ride Thru Window." What shall I have . . .
Meanwhile in Rivendell...
Elladan walks into the garden, where he finds his twin brother Elrohir
speaking to a small group if elfmaidens. He taps him on the
shoulder, sighing, "Father has another errand for us."
Elrohir rolls his eyes, and dismisses the ladies with a few
hand-kisses, and conceals a book under his robes so that his brother
does not see.
"Not again!" he exclaims when they are alone, "PJ said we were not in
the films; why are we having to run errands?"
"I think Father is trying to get us out of the picture. He sent
Glorfindel on some wild goose-chase. We have to ride all the way to
Isenguard and ask His Whiteness Saurman to come to the council."
Elladan sighs again heavily. "It is no fun, being an immortal
The twins dress in their ReadyRangerTravel outfits and ride off into
the growing darkness, telling knock-knock jokes to each other.
Back in Crickhollow...
Pippin, wiped his lips as he put down his pot of ale,
"Ah...that's much better, its surprising how well ale will settle after
a trip, but you do have to make sure its good to drink.
Sam harrumphed at him as he bustled about between the pantry and stove.
Pippin, checked the fire hatch on the front of the range and added some
Sam had his back trurned and was obviously contemplating the herbs, so
as he was at the other end of the range to the mushroom pan (and
therefore presumably safe from suspicion). Pippin lifted the lid on the
tureen to stir the soup, and just happened to take a taste as he
swirled the dumplings with the ladle. "Mmm" Sam's special onion, and
mushroom dumpling surprise!
Sam had spun around and given him a stinging ding on the ear with the
dishcloth he'd been using to move pans with.
"Now don't you go eating before it's time, Young Took. You can wait
till it's time. Besides, I need you to fill the mugs with the Old
Winyards and take them out to the table."
Pippin rubbed his ear and muttered to himself as he went to get the
wine. When Pippin had left the room, Sam lifted the lid and took a sip.
Frodo wondered what was taking them so long. He was tired, he was
hungry and it was getting late. He decided to just go take his bath
first, and eat, then he would make his announcement. That way if they
all reacted badly, he wouldn't miss out on either luxery.
He stood up and headed for the bathing room where Fatty had just gone
with a steaming kettle. He found him doodling his name in
curlicues on the steamed up mirror. "Fatty!" he said, "I understand
there is good food to be had in the kitchen..." The rest of his
comment went unsaid as Fredegar Bolger, Esq. practically bowled him
over heading like a shot for the cookery. Frodo quickly shut the
door and settled himself into the bliss of a warm bath, ignoring the
various sound effects of Fatty getting cracked with a dishrag around
There was a strange tapping sound at the bathing room window. He
glanced up to be sure the shutter was closed, and decided to ignore
it. Probably a large moth or a squirrel... but then he noticed
how the Ring burbled and blew tiny bubbles in the bathwater and seemed
quite happy about something. He remembered the last time it was so
cheerful was when one of those strange riders was around. Suddenly he
decided he was done bathing.
He clambered out, toweled off and went back to the parlour to dry off
by the fire.
"Fatty!" he called, "Get the other baths ready! You others can bathe
now while I eat. I promise I'll save some for you."
"Ow!!" Fatty got the snap of a dishrag to the ear and stood rubbing the
sting out while he took deep draughts of the lucious aroma of whatever
mushroomy delicacy Sam was cooking up. The rumble of his belly was now
audible to all those around him.
"If you'll just let me have a bite or two (or three or more), I'll go
fetch the water for your well-deserved baths!" The earnestness of his
tone and his honest, good-natured face did little to disguise his greed
for mushrooms. Fatty was not pleased when he heard Mr. Frodo order him
to get baths ready for the others while he ate!
After long, lonely travel, Gollum arrives at the Dimril Dale
entrance to Moria. The falls of the Dimril Stair glint softly in the
first rays of dawn, its frosty mist filling the vale.::
: "Ach! Curse the Yellow-Face! There must
be a hole in this mountain somewhere... ::gollum::
...follow the water, it knows the way in... fishes, lotsss of nisssce
Gollum smacked his thin lips at the thought of food. Though hunger and
fear drove him into the bowels of Moria, revenge on Baggins was never
far from his motivation...
As he splashed his feet in the mountain stream, he sang...
Fishie, Fishie, gleaming bright
In the waters of the night
What malnourished hand or eye
Could grasp thy slip'ry majesty?
... scenes of horseback riding and friendly pranks including
Elladan removing one of Elrohir's horse's shoes and giving his brother
Isenguard rises like a black spike between the toes of the mountain,
forbidding and crowned with sooty smoke. Elladan shades his
bright eyes with a long hand, peering at their goal, tho in fact they
have not yet even left Rivendell.
"Come on, Elrohir! If you feel sick again, we can pull
over. Let's get this errandry stuff done and get back to the
Elrohir climbs back into his saddle, his face slightly green.
They rode off at once, and Elrond watchd them leave, a smile on his
Elrond watches his boys ride out of the gate with fatherly pride. As
the sound of "Knock knock" "Who's there?" and oddly unrhythmic
hoofbeats fade into the distance, Elrond's smile turns into a scowl as
he realized the twins left without finishing the list of chores he had
given them. He sighed, wondering how many more centuries it would take
before Elladan and Elrohir finally grew some responsibility.
"At least they remembered to take the message to Saruman for me,"
Elrond muttered. Then he sighed again as he noticed a roll of parchment
neatly tied with ribbon lying nearby.
Frodo pulled a chair up to the table, considered the state the table
was in and pulled his chair over to the fire instead. Balancing
his plate on his knees, he rapidly consumed his portion by blowing on
it as he went, then with hardly a pause methodically ate up the
contents of the other plates that Sam and Pippin had brought in. Right
before he reached for the last one, he remembered he had said he would
save some, so he carefully split the contents of that plate among all
the other empty ones instead of eating it. They looked a bit
plain, so he garnished each of them with one of the drooping marigolds
that were in a vase on the sideboard. Feeling very generous as well as
warm and full, he settled down for a pipe.
He could hear them splashing and singing in their baths and rather
wished he'd thought to bring his earplugs along. He considered the Ring
in the firelight and it stared back at him. It was soooo
pretty.....maybe when he got it to Bree, he could talk Gandalf into
letting him keep it after all.... He petted it to get it purring
happily before slipping it back into his pocket.
In the Wild...
Aragorn scraped more dirt aside with his broken blade, wishing he had
one good trowel or something instead of that blasted sword. Aha!
There - he could see it! The biggest earthworm he'd ever seen!
What a fish he could catch with that one!
He reached for it, but it slipped out of his hand and disappeared into
the dirt, burrowing away from him. Annoyed, he stuck his arm clear down
the burrow trying to grab it and found his arm stuck.
Argh! Now he'd done it. How could he get free? Where was that
strange fellow with the hat and feather? Was he still anywhere near
that house? Was he anywhere near Bree? He didn't even know which
direction he had been going chasing worms...
"Help!" he cried into the bushes and trees. "Help!"
It was very undignified.
"Heigh Ho!" Sam started out, but he stopped suddenly. He sniffed, then
growled. Merry looked at him like he was nuts. Sam knew what he was
doing though. Mushrooms could no longer be smelled, and Sam suspected
his wonderful meal had been all eaten. He wrapped a towel around
himself and peaked into the room where his food should have been.
Frodo's back was turned towards him, and he was a bit hunched, talking
quietly to someone it seemed. Sam saw the plates practically empty, and
he snuck back into the Bathroom.
"Ok, guys, you want an accomplice? Well, I'm willing to do anything."
"What are you talking about, Sam?" Merry asked.
"Frodo ate our food."
The room was an uproar. Frodo yelled to them. "What are you guys up to
"Oh nothing!" Sam yelled back. "Just, um, singing." He lowered his
voice to a whisper. "Ok, so what are we going to do?"
With Sam's news about Frodo scoffing all the food, Pippin felt very
glad he'd sneaked as many tastings as he had done.
He hissed at Merry "You sort it out and I'll cover the chat with a song.
"Sing hey for the bath at close of day
that washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water hot is a noble thing!
Frodo added a log to the fire, and innocently curled up on the settee
to doze contentedly while they finished up. He felt so grateful for his
dear, wonderful, loyal friends and his steadfast, generous gardener
that he was glad he had left them each one brownie from the panful in
It would be hard to leave them all behind in the morning. He was
glad he got to take the best cook of the lot with him.
Elladan and Elrohir rode back to Rivendell when they had realized they
had forgotten the scrolled message they were charged to deliver, and
after eating and changing clothes a couple of times (this outfit looks
much better in the violet evening than my 'afternoon sports ensemble',
said Elladan petulantly) and Elrohir trading up his horse for one that
did not make him feel like he was waltzing to square-dance music, the
peredhil rode off grandly into the setting sun. After a few hours
they rode back by, heading south toward Isenguard. They waved at
their father as they finally rode out of sight.
"This is gonna be fun, you wait and see, Elladan!" exclaimed Elrohir.
"I don't see how, allowing that we are going to be sent around on
for the whole picture, just so that they don't have to list our names in
Elrohir only chuckled at his brother's irritation, and patted the
saddlebags strapped to his horse's gear.
"Twenty Questions?"asked Elladan.
"You ask first."
"Are you male?"
"Are you an Elf?"
Elrohir sighed. "Are you Eowyn sister-daughter of Theoden, King
of the Mark?"
"Yes! How did you know?"
"There are only three women in this whole epic, and only one of them is
not an Elf! Sheesh!"
The twins rode on into the growing night over the plains of Eregion,
oblivious to the shadows following them.
Elrond was rather irritated to see the twins ride back by hours after
he had thought they had gone, and he made an impolite gesture in their
direction that might have been mistaken for a wave at a distance. The
twins happily rode out of sight.
Elrond turned back towards the house and rolled his eyes as he caught
sight of bit of parchment tied with a ribbon lying nearby. "Wait a
minute," he said, "I handed Saruman's message to Elladan myself." He
looked more closely at the parchment and realized his own ribbon wasn't
quite that shade of pink.
Curious, and reminding himself that he was master of the house and any
parchment lying on his personal verandah was subject to his inspection,
he untied the ribbon and unscrolled the parchment. He immediately
recognized the loopy, frilly, girly handwriting of his daughter.
"Dear King Snuggle Bear,"
Elrond read, "I miss my widdle
sweetie pie soooo much. Does hims miss hims widdle cuddly elfie?... "
There was a great deal more of the same, but Elrond didn't read any
more. He went in the house, feeling suddenly sick.
From the gate in Buckland, a shrill cry fills the night...
Vlash grakta agnish VLIXIULN! *
The gate comes crashing down and the ringwraith rides through in fury.
*In the black speech, this translates roughly to:
You're out of Curly-fries!?
Frodo woke with a start as the Ring cheeped. He pulled it out of
his pocket and gave it a good looking over. It looked shiny and round
and golden and lovely and...happy. It cheeped cheerily at him
again. He suddenly grew uneasy and wondered if waiting for
morning was such a good idea after all. He slipped it back into
his pocket and got up to tighten down the shutters.
He dumped out his and Sam's packs on the floor, rapidly sorted out all
the candy wrappers, apple cores and junk and began repacking them,
stuffing in all the food he could find at hand. He figured anything
would do, even putting that somewhat greasy old box of cold curly-fries
in one of the pockets on Sam's coat.
"Sam!" he called - you better towel off pretty soon or you're going to
wrinkle into a giant pink prune! We need to be going!"
"Leave?? Now??" Sam panicked, but was suddenly struck with a master
plan. It kinda hurt when it hit his head, but when he looked at what it
was, he brightened up.
"Ok," he whispered, "Merry, you said you noticed Frodo was acting
strange, and you wanted dirt, right? Well, I'll tell you everything."
Sam told them everything that was going on, about the Ring and Bilbo,
and that they were planning to leave very soon.
"I knew it!" Merry yelled, then quickly quieted down when Pippin shot
him a look, not wanting Frodo to hear. He kept singing.
"Anyway, I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't have a reason. You
come with us."
"What??" Fatty didn't want to be traveling anywhere.
"Don't worry, Fatty, you were never meant to come with us anyway. No,
what I mean is, Frodo ate our food, right? Even after he said he would
leave us some. Well, I know that, though you are his cousins, and he
does love you, he sees this adventure as a bit of a break from you two.
He doesn't want you, Merry, or you, Pippin, coming along, so if you do
end up joining our little journey, that will be payback enough for him
eating our food."
"Wow! Was that all in that idea you got? Let me see." Merry took the
idea and looked at it, skimming it over. "Well, that is a very fine
plan, indeed. Alright! We'll do it!"
"You're right, Sam, I was not meant to go along! I've no desire to see
anything beyond the borders of the Shire.
Besides, somebody has to stay behind in case Gandalf comes looking for
Frodo and it may as well be me."
"But if what you say about that Black Rider is true, where are you to
go? You can't go back onto the Road, you'll just get swept right to the
very place that Rider's going, to the Brandywine Bridge and the East
Road! You can't go around the Old Forest .... you certainly can't go
through it...." As Fatty surveyed their faces, all looked thoughtful,
but Merry's eyes lit up and a smile spread across his face...
*Happily strolling along with an om tiddly om pom pom, is Tom Bombadil
back from his recent visit to his good friend Winnie (The Pooh) at the
hundred acre wood, he's just rehearsing that charming lil ditty that
the old bear had taught him when poof!
He stops with a start as he notices a dirty little man with his arm
embedded deep down in the mud. The little fellow then cackled
madly and broke down in tears of laughter as the downtrodden traveler
desperatly tried to turn, to look at him, a pleading look in his eyes.
TB, wipes a tear from his eyes and tries to speak, but to no avail, yet
he manages to stoop and and stare at the poor bloke, he then urges him
to speak . . . . . *
deep in the woods, if you listened carefully, you could hear muffled
conversation pierced by occasional laughter.
It was the Entwives.
Moving closer you could hear what they were saying.....and remember it
a considerable time to say anything in Entish so it must be
"I said love, I said pet, I said love.......now I know it upset you
when that Hobbit thought the gardener had planted you there but, you
do look like a tree and you know what they say, if it looks like a cow
and smells like a cow then it must be a cow! Ents!!" said one Entwife
shaking her ...errr...head?
"Oh I know.....I know.." said another.
"And they never notice when we've had our branches waxed or our leaves
"Oh I don't know..When that She-Elf and that human decided "wouldn't it
be nice to carve our initials into this here tree", I came home and he
commented on my new tattoo!" and they all chorused with laughter.
"Here's one for ya love" piped up one of the more mature Entwives, "My
son-in-law commented on a photo of me in my wedding dress and he said
he wondered why they were always white and I said to him, aren't all
household appliances white?" she cackled.
They decided time was getting on and they'd best be heading home.
"Careful on your way home ladies...there's some shady characters about.
Why on my way here I saw four Hobbits, nine Black Riders,a grey bearded
homeless guy who told me that he always arrives precisely when he means
to, a grey
wrinkly thing that looked kinda like a nude sheep, an Elf with a hat
made of leaves (very graceful) and a human who wanted to eat worms,fat
ones,skinny ones,worms that squiggle and squirm ".
"Ohhh nothing we haven't seen before...."
"Let's go ladies or they will all be wondering what ever happened to the
Entwives!" and the y giggled like schoolgirls as they went their
" Be careful of that road! Its stuck in overdrive and you never know
where it could take you!" shouted another.
As the wraith rides Northwest through Buckland, he stops suddenly.
Halt, Creampuff. Can you feel it? can you sense it? The
breeze is coming from the place near the Old Forest.
Creampuff rolls his eyes, and wonders . . . how is it that I am the one
with a BIT in his mouth
A faint 'cheep' is heard . . .
There, the sound of the Ring! Wafting on the wind. And . .
. I can't believe it. Joy untold! Along with the ring's call
comes the smell of Curly Fries!! Fatty Bolger and his friends.
Fatty ALWAYS has them with his dinner. And sniff . . . sniff
aaahh. They have congealed! You can smell the lard hardening on the
Come, Creampuff! We shall find our two treasures--Rings and
Fries. But we must move stealthily . . .
They blend into the foggy night, heading towards Crickhollow . . .
"That's it!" exclaimed Merry, "We'll go right through the Old Forest!"
Fatty's expression of incredulity changed to horror as Merry announced
his idea. "You're crazy! People don't go into the Old Forest... unless
you just want to get lost!"
"Oh, yes they do! The Brandybucks even have their own private entrance
in the Hedge that leads to a secret Buckland Rangers Hideout with
password, secret hand-shake, and decoder rings! Why, they've even got
a..." But Merry's revelation was interrupted by Frodo coming through
"What's wrong with you people!? You've been sitting in here for over
TWO HOURS! You're wrinkly as prunes, and Pippin, you still have smudges
on your face! Come on, your food's gonna get cold."
Someone muttered, "What food?" and Frodo shot them a quizzical glance,
but then thought, "Naw, they couldn't have known..."
"And Sam, we have to um, go back to 'BagEnd' for....something..." Frodo
tried winking but it really didn't work.
"What do you mean, Mr. Frodo? We got everything we need. Come here for
a second sir, let me check your eye, I think there's something in it..."
Frodo rolled his eyes and came closer...while Sam was checking his eye,
Frodo whispered, "It's time...for us...to leave..."
"Leave? Leave where?" Sam asked, though he knew quite well what he was
"What Mr. Frodo? I couldn't hear that..."
Frodo raised his voice. "The Shire! We need to leave the Shire! It is
NOW TIME for US to LEAVE the SHIRE!"
Merry and Pippin looked at each other then at a very proud-of-himself
Sam and they grinned. Sam was a genius.
"Aye, we'll go with you." piped up Pippin from over his towel, "Merry
knows a great way out of the Shire
without using any roads and know one will know we've gone!"
"Just give us ten minutes to get dressed and make up packs, we can take
whatever food is left with us, because it won't be much to carry. Hey
Frodo, it'll be great!"
Pippin slapped him on the back and hurried after Merry to get dressed,
having spotted his cousin relieving Sam's hook of his trews
to avoid any chance of Frodo bullying him into sneaking off.
From behind a small topiary shaped like a stork, a snort is heard .
Keep quiet, Creampuff. We don't have a choice. According to
the laws of physics, you can't be in two places at the same time. And
since Dr. G is both The Old Forest and us, we can't just follow these
hobbits into . . . uh, us. We ill have to go fetch the others and
try to catch them on our, uh, the other side of the forest.
The truly maddening thing, is that if we had been five minutes earlier,
the Rings and Fries would have been OURS!!!
They speed off into the night, hoping to find a fish and chips stand
open on the road . . .
Frodo shook his head, snapping out of a dream in which he was at some
faraway distant public library, where the sound of the ocean pounded
just beyond the windows... it wasn't the pounding of the surf, it was
the pounding of hooves off in the distance!
He rammed in a few more pounds of assorted ingredients from the kitchen
shelves and slung a rope of sausages from the rafters over Sam's
shoulders. "Here!" he hefted the overstuffed pack onto Sam's back and
grabbed his coat and walking stick. "What are you all standing
there staring at me for? We need to get moving! Er...uh..... I mean,
Sam and I have to....uh.....go to a.... there was a.....Oh blast and
confusticate it all. Merry, Pippin, Fatty....don't follow us! We
have everything under control!" He shot out the door into the
dark and promptly tripped over a bucket and with a loud flump tumbled
off the front steps in a heap.
Aragorn tried not to show how weirded out he was by the little cackling
man. Instead he asked, "Can you help me get out of this hole?"
The man just cackled and danced around in that annoying way of his,
"I said, CAN YOU PLEASE GET ME UNSTUCK!"
The man stopped and looked at him with a wide grin on his face. Aragorn
put on Bambi eyes.
"Nope, sorry Mr. Frodo. They already have thier things, and are coming.
Just be glad it's only Merry and Pippin. Fatty's not actually coming"
Sam heard a groan. He helped Frodo up.
"C'mon! Let's get going. Merry, you have to lead, as you're the one who
knows the way..."
Pippin, who'd spotted the sausages grabbed at the small bag of tomatoes
on the worktop nearest the door and hurried out after Sam.
"Hey Frodo, there's a keen hobbit, is that you Tookish side all dashing
off towards the beer in Bree! Eh?! My grandfather said there's good inn
there call the Prawn and Pony. Maybe once we're through the forest we
can stop for a jar or three?"
Sensing that all was not well with Frodo Pip scurried off after Merry
and his lantern.
Shortly after giggling could be heard from under the shadow of the