Recipient's name: Shirebound
Title: Special Delivery
Request: After the War of the Ring, there were probably many letters and packages sent between the Shire and Gondor/Rohan. Tolkien writes of a Shire Postmaster and Messenger Service. What did the Shire Post delivery-hobbits -- especially those who still might not accept that a King had returned or who had never wondered about happenings outside the Shire -- think about or react to Royal Mail? Did their families even believe them when told about it?
Summary: A special delivery package from Gondor arrives at the Hobbiton Post Office, creating a stir among the delivery-hobbits working there.
The Hobbiton post office was a fine place to work, if you wanted just enough work to do to keep yourself from being bored, or if you liked to pass the time with those who came in to fetch their mail, or with the carriers assigned to the Messenger Service who came at intervals throughout the day to load up their bags for delivery. There was also ample time for a mug of something at the Green Dragon, if business was slow and the Post Office could be closed early.
This was not one of those days, however.
There will be no getting off early today for a bite and something to soothe a dry throat, thought Rufus Smallburrow, eyeing the large pile of mail he was sorting. He felt a bit sad at the thought of missing out on a brew with his coworkers, Togo Banks and Ponto Grubb.
What with Yule coming up, he mused, folks are sending out more and more letters and packages, and that makes for extra work for the Shire Post and the Messenger Service. Not that I mind the work, of course, but I am starting to feel a bit thirsty...
"It's a shame more folks don't deliver their own notes and parcels!" Togo complained, a bit red in the face as he strove to hang on to a bulky package without dropping his load of letters. "My da used to always deliver things himself, leastways if the folks he was writing to were local."
"But then we'd be out of a job, wouldn't we?" commented Ponto. "It's a fun job, too, most days -- though I'm thinking we won't have time for a pint today. Too bad! I was really looking forward to getting off early!"
"I was thinking the same just now!" interjected Rufus. "It's thirsty work dealing with all this mail, but we'll just have to bear it."
Togo grunted in agreement, then stumbled as his load of letters shifted in his arms. Rufus jumped forward quickly to relieve Togo of the parcel that was about to fall to the floor. Glancing at the address label, his eyes widened.
"Why, Togo!" he exclaimed. "This here package is special delivery, didn't you notice? It can't get mixed in with that batch of letters going on to the Bywater Post Office. It has to be hand delivered."
"Who's it from?" Ponto asked, peering at the label. "The writing is pretty fancy!"
"Looks like it says it's from Gondor," Rufus replied. "And it's addressed to Bag End, too, so it definitely shouldn't be going to Bywater. Gondor... I've heard that name before, I think. Might have even seen it on other parcels, come to think of it. Gondor's that place where Mr. Sam and the other Travellers met the King, ain't it?"
"You don't believe those stories, do you?" scoffed Togo. "What do hobbits from the Shire have to do with kings, for goodness sake? I never heard no announcement that there even was a King returned after all these years -- he ain't never showed hisself here, anyway. I don't believe in nothing 'til I see it with my own eyes."
"Well, that's what they say -- the Travellers, that is," retorted Rufus, quick in his own defense. "They say they went to a place called Gondor and they stayed there awhile and made friends with the King and other important people. My brother Robin saw them when they came back from their travels, and he heard them talking about it, too. So that's proof, ain't it? Anyway, someone lives there and is sending parcels and letters, too. And it has to be someone important, just look at how fancy the writing is!"
"Whoever lives there sure does send a lot of mail this way," Ponto sighed. "They're always gettin' special delivery up at Bag End, and my cousin Rollo, who works out of the Stock office, says they get a lotta mail passing through for Masters Merry and Pippin at Crickhollow. Not sure if all that mail comes from Royalty, but they sure do think highly of the Travellers, sending them stuff from far away. Least ways I think it's from far away. Where's Gondor anyway? And Rohan, for that matter? I hear from Rollo that Master Merry gets mail from there sometimes, too."
"I don't know and I don't really care," Togo grumbled. "We don't need to know where places are to do to do our job proper."
Togo took the parcel from Rufus and shook it vigorously. "Wonder what's in it? It's pretty heavy, but it doesn't rattle..."
Rufus grabbed the package back, looking outraged. "That's special delivery, Togo! You mustn't shake it or damage it. It has to be treated special."
"Well, if you're so worried about it, why don't you just go deliver it?" retorted Togo. "And take that load of letters with you that Ponto just loaded up, they're for folks that live up that way."
"Sure, I don't mind," Rufus replied, shouldering the bag of mail brought to him by Ponto.
"Come straight back as soon as you can," Togo ordered. "No heading over to Bywater and stopping for a pint on the way!"
"All right," laughed Rufus. "I won't stop at the Dragon without you. Don't you go shaking any more special delivery packages while I'm away!"
Privately, he thought the chance was pretty good that he'd be offered a drink or a bite to eat up at Bag End -- as was fitting for a messenger delivering a special delivery parcel. He couldn't rightly say no to that, now could he? Maybe they'd ask him to stay for a story or two, as well. And maybe... just maybe, he'd be able to find out more about the King and his home in Gondor. Togo didn't believe in anything he couldn't see for himself, and Ponto wasn't really all that curious about anything that happened outside the borders of the Shire. But Rufus had heard enough hints and vague stories from his brother, Robin, that he knew there was likely truth to the matter of the King and his relationship with the Travellers. And he wasn't afraid to ask questions if given half a chance!
Whistling happily, Rufus set off towards the Hill and Bag End, gripping firmly his mail bag and the special delivery parcel from Gondor.