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Author: Kaylee Arafinwiel
Title: The Toymaker's Tale
Rating: PG
Theme: B2MEM 2015
Elements: Bilbo commissioned lots of toys from Dale for his 111th Birthday. Whose workshop got that commission? What sorts of toys did they make? How many did they make? Who delivered them? – Dreamflower
Author's Notes: Written for the “First Lines” prompt from B2MEM 2012, also: “My father and mother should have stayed in ___, where they met and married, and where I was born.” Also, I disclaim one line by Tolkien.
Summary: Tâduiniel, a toymaker in Dale of Arnorian extraction, tells the story of how she inherited her trade, and got the commission that would change her life. Set in my "Isildurchil Dithen" 'verse, though Faramir (who is 18 at this point) does not appear.
Word Count: 1,264



My father and mother should have stayed in Tâduin, where they met and married, and where I was born. But they did not; they had a mind to travel from Arnor to the Wildlands of Rhovanion, where they traded their waggon of goods in exchange for a house and workshop. Father was a woodcarver, and Mother enjoyed embroidery; they combined their talents and set up a toy-shop. Two Rivers Toys, they called it, a simple enough name and a nod to their faraway home. They eked out a living, earning just enough to keep their business afloat, mostly from foreigners. They had stiff competition here in Dale, after all, and most people did not like what they could not understand. They were always suspicious of Father and Mother.

Father carved toy bows and arrows, swords and spears, balls and spinning-tops of all sorts; he also whittled pipes and flutes, whistles in various shapes, and drums which he fitted with deerskin drumheads. He created wooden beads, and animals of various kinds, some on wheeled platforms to be pushed or tugged about. He painted the toys in bright colours. Those which resembled animals or plants he coloured as near to nature as he could, and he was popular with the children, if not their parents.

Mother made dolls out of corn-coats which she imported from her home, their hair made of the plant’s silk, like golden tassels. She crafted dresses out of cloth, but gave the dolls no faces. This confused our neighbours, the women of Dale, who called her foolish and superstitious. But it was our people’s belief, and so she did not add expressions to her dolls.

When I inherited the work, I continued that belief. I do not craft dolls with faces, any more than my parents did, for I am a Two Rivers child, not of Rhovanion. Tâduiniel, my parents called me, a simple name, after the shop or after our home, I do not know. But I am unmistakably a North-child, and so I, too, am shunned. I tell myself it does not matter – but ever since I inherited the shop, it matters more than ever it did before. I thought I would never receive a commission, and perhaps I might be reduced to begging in the streets.

Then they came. The Dwarves, our neighbours of the Lonely Mountain, just as outcast as I, and so my friends – for one outcast should befriend another, my parents always said. That was quite true.

They had a commission for me, and a promise to aid me in the work. A commission from Bilbo Baggins, the famous Dwarf-friend of nigh sixty years ago, when I was but a babe in arms. I had grown up hearing stories of the attack of Smaug, just ere my parents had come to the rebuilt kingdom. Bilbo Baggins of the Shire-folk was giving a party, and there would be children – children who needed toys.

One hundred and forty-four guests, the Dwarves said. And who knew how many of these might be children? I decided on one hundred forty-four toys, at least. The Dwarves agreed that was a fair amount, and when they named Bilbo Baggins’ price, I near fainted from the shock. It was enough gold to see me through the next year alone, at least! Truly, Master Baggins spared no expense. Where to begin?

As it turned out, the Dwarves knew Hobbits fairly well, having remained in correspondence both with Gandalf and with Master Baggins. They agreed that dolls would be well received, but the ones I was used to fashioning looked too much like the children of Men. Hobbits, they informed me, had large, hairy feet and their hair always curled. With that in mind, and with their aid, I amended my doll-making to produce fairly close renditions of hobbit lads and lasses out of the cornhusks. Curled cornsilk served for hair on both heads and feet, and I stuffed the dolls to make them plumper.

Hobbit-children were fond of animals, ‘twas true, but we kept to tamer ones, such as one might find around a farm, rather than the wild wolves and bears one might face in the Wilderlands. Sheep, pigs, cattle, cats, dogs, horses…the horses had manes and tails braided of real horsehair, and the sheep were covered in real wool. Some were wheeled and others not, and the Dwarves had brought tin bird-whistles that were a marvel to behold. Narvi, the head of the company, aided me in crafting small wooden puzzles, labyrinths through which balls rolled, and showed me designs of small houses, hobbit-holes or Smials he called them, which were carved out of wood and painted. Those were one to a family – he had a guest list there, to see who lived with whom.

Gror, one of the sturdiest of the lot, insisted on going down to the smith’s and usurping the forge for sets of copper kettles and tin dishes. Master Marwhin, the smith, was wroth with me, but there was naught he could do when twenty Dwarves stood between us, armed with knives and, in Gror’s case, a hot poker! He merely grunted and abandoned his forge to their crafting.

“You’d best be paying me my share of the gold, woman!” Marwhin shouted after me as he slammed through the door. I knew what he meant by his share – I’d be lucky if he left me so much as a silver penny. Narvi grunted. "He'll be paying you, milady, if he knows what's best for him."

I shook my head and returned to my workshop, where we continued our tasks. Little glass vials filled with dyes were boxed up with picture books empty of colour, and small horsehair brushes, so the children might paint for themselves. A plethora of toy food, simple games constructed from wood, gardening sets, looms and knitting needles with scraps of yarn and skeins I had on hand, skipping ropes and balls to roll – we worked at it until the number of toys far exceeded the original one hundred forty-four gifts I had planned on, and still felt myself well paid. “No one in Dale will buy from me,” I said. “And these are all Master Baggins’ by right, even though we exceeded our goal. What will he do?”

“If any are left once the Party is done, I believe Master Baggins will send them to the lads and lasses not fortunate enough to come – or, perhaps, gift them to the Rangers for their children,” Gror said.

The Rangers! The folk of Arnor, my home of old…I smiled a little. “Master Baggins is acquainted with the Rangers?” I asked.

“Quite well, one might say,” Narvi chuckled. “I believe he will be glad to give the rest to your folk, Mistress Tâduiniel – and perhaps you would deign to deliver them with us.”
I faltered. “Excuse me, Master Narvi?”

“Come to the Party, Mistress,” Gror said. “Come to the Shire, and join your folk once more. Have you any ties to Dale, save your upbringing?”

“No,” I admitted. “I have always been thought of as an outcast. I have never fit in here.”

“Then perhaps it is time to go home,” Gror said, and I nodded, my voice thick with tears as I spoke.

“I will come.”

I had quite a bit of packing to do – luckily, my friends were there to help, even if they were a bit…strange about tidying up.

Chip the glasses and crack the plates…

Packing up the kitchen, to begin with, was strenuous enough! But just think – soon, I would be home.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lindahoyland
Mar. 6th, 2015 02:00 am (UTC)
This was just lovely. I enjoyed it very much. It was fun to think about where the toys came from.
kayleelupin
Mar. 6th, 2015 02:05 am (UTC)
That was quick! :) Thank you, Linda! I really appreciate it.
dreamflower02
Mar. 6th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC)
Oh my dear! This is just wonderful! I just love your OC. Tâduiniel Is such a wonderful character.

And I had to grin at the huge inventory of toys! What a bounty for the children of the Shire, and of the Rangers as well.

I'd love to see a little epilogue or drabble or something, showing her reaction to the Party, and Gandalf's fireworks and Bilbo's speech.
kayleelupin
Mar. 6th, 2015 04:07 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! An epilogue, hmm...I will think about that! I'm glad you like Tâduiniel! She's entirely new for this story - I'd never thought about any toymakers in my Arnor-verse, Isildurchil Dithen or otherwise, before! But of course there had to be some. I found myself rather disliking Marwhin, and Narvi tells me Gror wouldn't have been averse to sticking his poker unpleasant places, should Marwhin have done more than yell at Tâduiniel!
shirebound
Mar. 6th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
Ohhhh, this is the most heartwarming, lovely story! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I'll be reading it again and again.
kayleelupin
Mar. 6th, 2015 04:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, you're welcome! And thank *you* Shirebound! *blushes* That's a lovely compliment.
blslarner
Mar. 13th, 2015 08:12 am (UTC)
How very sweet! But the Dwarves are right--she needs to return to her own people, who will not consider her an outsider.
kayleelupin
Mar. 13th, 2015 08:19 am (UTC)
Yes, indeed! Thank you very much Larner :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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