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Author: Linda Hoyland
Title: For the Beauty of the Earth
Rating: PG
Theme: One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Elements:
Author's Notes: A sequel to “With Eager Feet. With thanks to Deandra
Summary: Autumn’s beauties fail to impress Aragorn and his hungry Rangers.
Word Count:1,010



bridge



Autumn in the Shire was an especially beautiful time. Today, though, the orange, red, and golden splendour of the trees failed to lift the spirits of Aragorn and his companions.

They had spent the past three nights despatching the Orcs that threatened the Shire’s border with only meagre rations to sustain them. This morning had seen the first sharp frost of the season, a bitter reminder that winter was on the way.

To make matters worse, a group of Hobbit lads had pelted them with conkers and shouted insults as they trudged past the tree behind which the boys were hiding.

“After all we do to protect them!” Gilavir complained bitterly, rubbing his arm where one of the conkers had hit.

“It is what we do,” Aragorn said mildly. “It would destroy the peace we seek to preserve if they knew of the dark creatures that threatened them. Are you hurt, Gilavir?”

“I imagine I will have a bruise,” the young Ranger replied.

“I will look at it when we get back to camp,” said Aragorn. “You must learn to duck faster, lad.”

“Someone else is coming,” said Halbarad. “Maybe we should leave the road for a while?”

Aragorn looked in the direction of the sound of hoof beats. As soon as the pony and cart rounded the bend in the road, he recognised it and the Hobbit woman who was driving.

“Greetings, Mistress Daisy!” he called.

“Well, I never did!” cried Daisy. She reined the pony to a halt and beamed at him. “If it isn’t Mister Strider and Mister Trotter and …. “

“I am called Stalker, Mistress,” said Halbarad.

“It is my pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mister Stalker. You are just the very folk I wanted to see. Luck is with me today!”

“We are?” Gilavir sounded incredulous. Aragorn nudged him sharply

Aragorn inclined his head towards her. “How might we be of service, Mistress Daisy?” he asked.

“My Griffo went and dislocated his shoulder a few days back. The healer says it will take weeks to mend. Winter is coming and we’ve hardly a stick of firewood in the house. My Tosto’s a good lad, but he’s away staying with his cousins at the moment.”

“We would be happy to help you, Mistress Daisy,” said Aragorn, forcing a smile. Truth to tell, he was weary, cold, and hungry and nothing appealed to him less than the prospect of spending the morning chopping wood.

“My farm’s just this way,” said Daisy as she guided the trap over a low bridge overhung by trees. The three Rangers trudged wearily behind her.

“Maybe she will give us some food again?” Gilavir whispered to Aragorn.

“Don’t count on it, lad. We rescued her last time from being stuck in the mud. This time, we are simply doing an errand for her. Winter is on the way now; Mistress Daisy will need all her supplies.”

They had reached Daisy’s farm now. She gestured towards a recently felled tree. “I would be grateful if you could chop that up for me, please,” she said. “Griffo hurt his shoulder when he was felling it for our winter fuel.”

The three Rangers set to work. They were somewhat hampered by the fact there was only one axe and a Hobbit-sized one at that, but with Halbarad chopping, Aragorn sorting and Gilavir stacking the freshly cut logs, they made short work of the tree and soon filled Daisy’s woodshed to overflowing. It was hard work, but at least they were no longer cold.

Aragorn knocked on her door to tell her the wood was chopped. She beamed at him. “Thank you so much. Now you must come in and have a bite to eat with me.”

“We expect no reward, mistress,” said Aragorn. “We must be on our way.”

“Nonsense!” said Daisy. “A right good turn you’ve done me and you and your friends look as if you could do with feeding up a bit. In you come and warm yourselves by the fire. Griffo’s upstairs resting, so you young ones can keep me company for a while.”

The three Rangers carefully wiped their feet on the tiny doormat and ducked inside Daisy’s home. A delectable scent immediately assailed their senses. Daisy gestured for them to sit down at the scrubbed table opposite the fire, and served them plates piled high with a delicious stew, flavoured with herbs. There was also crusty bread with knobs of golden butter and generous helpings of turnips, carrots, and swedes, washed down with elderberry wine. Just when the three Rangers felt they could eat no more, Daisy produced an enormous apple pie with a crispy golden crust and served with lashings of fresh cream. The Rangers loosened their belts and tucked in. It was not until after they had all eaten second helpings that Daisy finally cleared the plates away.

“Thank you, Mistress Daisy for a delicious meal,” said Aragorn.

“It’s been a right pleasure seeing my cooking appreciated,” said Daisy. “I can’t care what anyone says, but you Rangers are good men. You will always be welcome to drop by for a bite to eat when you are passing.”

“Thank you, mistress, you are a good friend to us,” said Aragorn as they took their leave.

With full bellies and thankful hearts, the three went on their way. The afternoon sun slanted between the magnificent trees making the autumn leaves glisten like gold. The sunlight caught the brook that ran beneath the bridge and made it sparkle like diamonds. A filigree of gossamer-like spiders’ webs glistened amongst the brambles. A song thrush sang joyfully from a treetop and Aragorn’s heart soared. He breathed the crisp autumn air and savoured its freshness. This was what he and his men fought tirelessly to preserve; that the Shire should remain a haven of peace and beauty for all who dwelt there.

Gilavir started to hum a cheerful harvest tune and his companions joined in. Their boots crunching the freshly fallen leaves, they strode back to their campsite with joyful hearts.

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
shirebound
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC)
This story brought me as much peace and joy as the Rangers felt. What a lovely story to accompany this utterly beautiful autumn scene.
lindahoyland
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I'm delighted that the story brought peace and joy for you.
leianora
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC)
This story made me smile. It just goes to show you, when you feel like you just can't anymore, the universe can surprise and reward you. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this.
lindahoyland
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm delighted you enjoyed my story.
dreamflower02
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:48 pm (UTC)
I absolutely adore this! I love stories in which there are the few who recognize that the Rangers are more than the rest of the world thinks! Mistress Daisy is a delightful OC, and I'm so glad she showed hobbity hospitality to the Rangers!
lindahoyland
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much and for an inspiring prompt!I've become fond of Mistress Daisy.
rhymer23
Oct. 16th, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC)
How sweet. I like the way that the full description of the lovely scenery only comes at the end, once Aragorn and the others are in the mental state that allows them to appreciate it. Oh, and I chuckled at the mental image of these tall Rangers using a teeny hobbit-sized axe. :-D
lindahoyland
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I felt if you were cold and hungry beauty might be lost on you.It must have been hard chopping wood with a tiny axe!
curiouswombat
Oct. 16th, 2013 06:53 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely wee tale - it's good to think of them getting a good meal now and again!
lindahoyland
Oct. 16th, 2013 09:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I hope they met a few kind folk like Daisy.
paranoidangel42
Oct. 17th, 2013 07:14 am (UTC)
I like this story, especially how Daisy manages to change the Rangers opinions of the beautiful autumn scenery.
lindahoyland
Oct. 17th, 2013 02:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I think it sad when we cannot see the beauty around us.
ellynn_ithilwen
Oct. 17th, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC)
Lovely. But now I feel quite hungry, and I'd especially like apple pie! :)
lindahoyland
Oct. 17th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC)
THank you. I'd love some apple pie too!
kayleelupin
Oct. 17th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
Delightful! It's a good thing I was eating as I read, otherwise I'd have been starving! Although I was having cheesecake, and I wish I had apple pie instead...*grin*

Well done Linda! The picture made it all so very vivid!

Kaylee
lindahoyland
Oct. 17th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you.It made me quite hungry to write this story.I'm pleased you enjoyed it.
(Deleted comment)
lindahoyland
Oct. 17th, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much.I'm delighted you enjoyed this story. A little kindness goes a long way.
engarian
Oct. 18th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
How very sweet, and one more example of how one good turn receives another. I loved the peace of the Shire coming through the writing.

- Erulisse (one L)
lindahoyland
Oct. 19th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much.I was thinking of the countryside around where I live while I was writing.
blslarner
Oct. 18th, 2013 10:34 pm (UTC)
What a delightful reward for the work done! Good reason for the Men to feel grateful as they head along their way. Daisy is such a joy for them to encounter.
lindahoyland
Oct. 19th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm sure the Rangers enjoyed meeting Daisy and their lovely meal.
hhimring
Oct. 23rd, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
Well done, Mistress Daisy! Indirectly, she is making her own contribution to the safety of the Shire, although she doesn't know it.
lindahoyland
Oct. 25th, 2013 03:35 am (UTC)
Thank you. That is an excellent point which I hadn't thought about.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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