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Yule Surprises by Pearl Took

Author name: Pearl Took
Recipient's name: Thundera Tiger
Title: Yule Surprises, Part 1
Rating: G
Request: I would love any sort of encounter between hobbits and dwarves during the late Third Age or early Fourth Age. Maybe dwarves come through the Shire, maybe something happens around Bilbo's famous birthday party, maybe an adventurous Took meets a dwarf on the road to Bree, etc. You get the picture.




“Did you hear the one about the five drunken Dwarves?”

I heard the barman clear his throat then the awkward silence that followed. It was obvious the small group of men leaning on the bar hadn’t noticed me sitting along the wall of the busy main-room and Ryeman Butterbur, the Prancing Pony’s owner, must be fearing their comic tale might upset me. I’d overheard as I came into Bree that he had only recently taken over running the place from his father, Barliman, and was probably more concerned than need be about the opinions of customers.

“The innkeeper had told a patron that he made his own gold in the cellar. During the night the inn collapsed because the Dwarves dug out the foundation looking for the ore.”

I could feel them all turning their eyes on me. Without looking up I said, “Quite ridiculous, really. It would’ve only taken two of us to do that in one night.” After a few silent seconds I added, “’Twas a jest, gentlemen. A jest.”

They exhaled, laughed nervously then went on to other stories.

There were other men in the room, even some women, seated at tables but none of Bree’s Hobbit-folk seemed to be out this evening and I was the only Dwarf. Mr. Butterbur had informed me, in amongst a long stream of talk on other matters, that it was “Right unusual for a Dwarf to come through alone, beggin’ your pardon, Master Gror.”, so it was understandable that the men both hadn’t noticed me and did not know quite how to respond to me when I spoke up. Later, when Butterbur came to see if my meal had been to my liking, and to see if there was more I cared to order, I paid my bill and included a bit over.

“Another pint for me and a round of your fine ale along with some ham and cheese for the men at the bar out of the extra.” I gave a nod and wink toward them. “I shouldn’t have stolen the joke from the one telling it and I fear I made them uncomfortable.”

Ryeman Butterbur grinned. “This will more than make up for any awkwardness, and that’s for certain, Master Gror.”

I gave him a nod and waved him off. He’d no sooner got behind the bar than the door opened. The person who entered was nearly dwarf height but downright scrawny by our standards. A tuft of red-brown hair that looked shot through with gold when the light hit it right stuck out from under the edge of his hood but his face was in shadow.

“Well, little master,” Butterbur said as he caught sight of the newcomer, “a good evening to you. Whether Bree-folk or Shire-folk we’re always happy to be of service to Hobbits. If you can give me but a moment, let me get this order filled and I’ll be with you.”

I stared at the Hobbit who had nodded his acquiescence then stood fidgeting while Ryeman drew my pint, went out at the far end of the bar to bring it to me then hurried back. I ignored the drink, giving my attention to the Hobbit.

“Oh my!” the innkeeper’s eyes widened in surprise, “It’s y . . .”

The Hobbit held up his hand, which held a note for the barman to read, quickly silencing the other.

“As I was about to say, it’s you, Mr. Banks. And right nice it is to see you again. You’re wanting a room, it being this late in the evening. I’m short of staff tonight. We were slow as sap in the winter so I let my help go home early. Now, of course, I’m busy. Would you mind taking your meal in here, sir?”

I couldn’t hear the reply but the Hobbit turned and headed for the tables. He sat down one table away from me facing my direction and, after fussing with his hood to make certain his face stayed hidden from the customers in the rest of the room, happened to look straight at me staring at him.

“A Dwarf!” One of his teeth glinted as he smiled. “Just what I need!”

“A Hobbit,” said I, “just what I need.”

He looked perplexed. “You need a Hobbit? Whatever for? Not an adventure, I hope. It isn’t a good time for adventures just now, what with Yule nearly upon us.”

“Yule?”

“Yes, Yule. It’s a holiday we celebrate. Family all together. Lots and lots of family all together. And food and games and plays and music and . . .”

In one swift motion he startled me by sitting across from me at my table.

“And gifts. A lot of gifts. They normally needn’t be terribly fancy. Often mathoms suffice. But that won’t do this time. Won’t do at all for me this time. I need something special this time. Well, at least for the closest cousins and my wife and children and the heads of the various branches of the family.”

He reached as though to pat my hand, thought better of such a forward gesture and patted the table instead.

“That’s why I need a Dwarf. Well, I need a Dwarf merchant. Do you happen to be one? A merchant, that is. I can see you’re a Dwarf.”

He stopped talking. His eyes narrowed. “You said you needed a Hobbit? Why?”

“Yes. I need a Hobbit to sell my goods to.” A partial truth. I did have a wagon full of Dwarven goods with the Shire as my destination. That wasn’t why I needed a Hobbit; or Hobbits for that matter. My companion’s look didn’t lighten.

“Why do you need to sell to Hobbits? You make it sound as though you’ve come all the way from . . . where have you come from?”

“The Lonely Mountain.”

“All the way from The Lonely Mountain to the Shire without already having a buyer for your goods? Isn’t that rather unusual? Or, has someone ordered your goods, in which case you’re of no use to me.”

“Well . . .”

He clapped his hand over his mouth, eyes wide with shock.

“I’m so sorry!” he mumbled from behind his hand. “That came out horridly.” He removed his hand. “It’s just that, if your goods have been ordered then I can’t buy them and it doesn’t solve my problem.”

“As I was about to say, Master Hobbit, my goods have not been ordered. My . . . eh, I made them in my shop knowing that we often do get orders from the Shire and I produced goods that I knew were of the sort Hobbits seem to like with the intent of carting them myself so I could . . .”

Suddenly, my motives sounded crass but I couldn’t think of any way around it.

“So I could come and see your kind for myself. You and your country. I’ve . . . heard of Hobbits for years and years and never have I met any. Stories of Bilbo Baggins who helped rid the mountain of Smaug and return our home to us. Stories of Hobbits going off to the lands of Men and even to the land of the Dark One to free Middle Earth of the doom he would have wreaked upon us all. I wanted to see for myself.”

He was silent for a moment and I thought I’d offended him. But then his smile again lit his features.

“Oh! That all makes sense.” He laughed. “The only trouble is you’ll be sorely disappointed. Bilbo was not like most Hobbits and . . . ah . . . those others, well, they’re still in the Shire and all but they . . . eh, well, they aren’t exactly what you might think of them either. They’ve got married and stodgy and aren’t exactly dashing, exciting adventurers any longer. Do you remember their names, perchance?”

“Oh yes! Gimli, Gloin’s son, who went off with them gave a full report to all our folk when he returned. He said they should never be forgotten by the Dwarves of Middle Earth. Before he took a fair number of us to establish the new realm of the Glittering Caves. They were Frodo Baggins, heir of Bilbo and Samwise Gamgee – the Ringbearers. With them went Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, cousins of Frodo and Bilbo.”

“Ah, yes. Exactly right.” He looked down at his fingers drumming on the table. “That’s them. I’m Tolly Banks.”

One of his hands quit it’s drumming as he stuck it out towards me. I clasped it.

“I’m Gror, son of Borin.”

“Well, Gror, if your goods are unsold I’d like a look at them. They could be exactly what I need.”

“You said you need gifts of a higher quality than usual?”

“Yes, I’m, ah, newly married and my wife is of a better family than I and I wish to make a good impression.”

I gave him a knowing wink. “Such things are very important indeed.” We both chuckled. “It’s too late to have a good look at my stock this evening. Shall we meet out in the stable in the morning?”

“Yes, before or after second breakfast?”

“Second breakfast?”

He blushed. “Yes, it’s a Hobbit custom. A light meal mid morning.”

“Shall we say before?”

“Done, I shall see you after first breakfast out in the stable.”

We shook on the arrangement then my customer looked around.

“Ryeman never came back to get my order and I’m famished.”

“I shall send him your way, Mr. Banks. I’m off to check on my ponies and my wagon then to bed.”

He bid me good night and I went on my way, stopping the innkeeper in mid stride to remind him he had a hungry Hobbit in his house.

* * * *

End of Part 1, part 2 to follow...

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
dreamflower02
Jan. 1st, 2012 06:20 am (UTC)
This is such an intriguing beginning! I look forward to seeing the rest of this tale soon!
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dreamflower - I hope to see it soon too, LOL. For all the trouble I've been having with writing I now have something I really have to finish soon.
shirebound
Jan. 1st, 2012 02:37 pm (UTC)
What a fortuitous encounter. Your stories are so creative, Pearl. I look forward to part II!
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you, m'dear Shirebound! I hope to have it posted by mid January at the latest.
engarian
Jan. 1st, 2012 07:58 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful start to this story, I can hardly wait for part 2

- Erulisse (one L)
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Erulisse :-)
ceshaughnessy
Jan. 1st, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Wonderful!! When will Pt 2 to ready? Lol! *Looks at Pearl beseechingly*
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Hugs and thanks, Cathleen. :-)
I'm hoping to post the next (last?) bit by mid January
burning_night
Jan. 2nd, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
Nice! Two great characters :) Hoping to see part 2 soon!
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you, libbstarz :-) Hopefully by mid January.
(Deleted comment)
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you, levadegratchets, and I'm curious about that too. Hehehe
mrowe
Jan. 3rd, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
Two interesting characters:-) Can't wait to see where this goes...
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you, mrowe. I hope to post by mid Jan.
blslarner
Jan. 4th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Aha! A new generation of Hobbits and Dwarves, and a more adventurous Hobbit than most seeking excellent quality, unusual gifts for his new family by marriage. A most interesting beginning to what I hope proves a delightful long tale!
pearltook1
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Larner. :-)

I hope it doesn't go too long, I had enough trouble getting this much written - LOL!
alfirineth
Jan. 7th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...I wonder if Mr. Banks is truly who he says he is. Looking forward to finding out more about these intriguing characters.
pearltook1
Jan. 8th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you, alfirineth, for reading and commenting :-)
I won't leave you hanging for too long. ;-)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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