Title: Little Dogs Laughed
Theme: Loose ends
Elements: My loose end was to tell of an adventure that Roverandom had with his boy after the end of the tale.
Author's Notes: In 1925, J.R.R. Tolkien, his wife Edith, and their three little boys, John, 7; Michael, 5; and baby Christopher went to spend the summer at a cottage near the sea. It was by all accounts a nice holiday.
At that time, little MIchael had a favorite toy, a little painted metal dog. He called it "Rover" and carried it everywhere with him, ate with it, and slept with it-- as small children will with a favorite toy. One day while walking on the beach with his father and older brother, he put the little dog down so that they could skip stones on the sea. Sadly, when they were finished, he could not find little Rover anywhere. His father and brother helped him search for it all that day and the next, with no luck.
Poor little Michael was very upset, so to make him feel better, his father began to tell him a story about Rover and his adventures. A couple of years later, in 1927, Tolkien decided to write the little story down. It was not published at that time, nor ten years later when he submitted it-- it was rejected.
The story was finally published post-humously in 1998. It is a charming tale, and even though it does not seem to be set in Middle-earth, there are places in the story where hints of the larger story may be seen. If you are not familiar with the story, I've done a voice-post reading of the book beginning here..
In the book, Michael is always referred to as "little boy Two", and so I have kept that.
I chose to do my gapfiller for Roverandom, based on this loose end:
"Indeed, Roverandom grew to be very wise, and had an immense local reputatio, and had all sorts of other adventures (many of which the little boy shared)."
This particular Challenge story is dedicated to shirebound, in honor of her new four-legged family member.
Summary: A dog and his boy have an Adventure.
Word Count: 3,493
Roverandom was quite happy and content with little boy Two, in the white house on the cliff by the sea. It was lovely to run with little boy Two and his older brother over the sand, barking at the sea-birds and rescuing sticks the boys threw into the encroaching tide. It was delightful to trot about under the feet of the little boys' mother when she was cooking and hope that she would drop tidbits on the floor which Roverandom would very helpfully clean up with his little pink tongue. It was very pleasant to lay curled up on the hearth in the evening after a fine supper, with his very own little boy sitting by him scratching his ears as they listened to the boys' Father tell them stories. Most of all, it was comforting to snuggle up closely to little boy Two at night after Mother and Father tucked him up, to put his head under his boy's chin and feel his boy's arm across him as they slept.
Some nights, he would ride alongside his little boy's dreams, and they would once more find themselves in the garden on the far side of the Moon, that garden where children sometimes dreamed themselves, and where they had such pleasant times until they awakened in their own beds. There they had a splendid time, and Roverandom could talk with his little boy in a way he never could when they were at home, for in the dream-garden they could speak together in the same tongue and understand one another perfectly well. They jested and played with the other children, chased the shadow rabbits, and splashed in the crystal pond, and were eager to see "Old Daddy Long-beard" (as the children called the Man-in-the-Moon).
When the children had finished greeting the old wizard, Roverandom would take the chance to pay his respects to his former host (for of course, it is always good manners to be polite to those who have once shown you hospitality. And ever since his misunderstanding with the old wizard Artaxerxes, Roverandom had always striven to show good manners!). Each time, the Man-in-the-Moon would greet him gravely, and ask Roverandom how he was doing, and each time Roverandom would ask after moon-Rover. The Man-in-the-Moon always replied: "He is doing quite well. He flies about on his own, but he never misses his supper since you went away."
Once, Roverandom made so bold as to ask if perhaps moon-Rover could accompany the Man-in-the-Moon the next time they were there.
The Man shook his head sadly. "No, it would not be good for him to come here."
"Why?" asked Roverandom, puzzled. Surely his old friend would be glad to see him again!
"My moondog does not remember some things about his life before he fell off the edge of the world onto my Moon," said the Man. "But I know all about it. The only children he knew were cruel and unkind to him, and he is fearful of children, for there were some who used to throw stones at him, call him names like 'mutt' and 'mangy mongrel', and even I am sad to say, pull his tail. It was for that reason he first ran away."
Roverandom was very sad to hear of this, for the only children he knew were very kind indeed. It was true that little boy Three had pulled his own tail once, but it had not been meant unkindly. Little boy Three was still very, very young, and did not know any better. The boys' mother had intervened at once, and little boy Three had been quite sorry that he had hurt Roverandom's tail. As for little boy Two, he was always kindly with Roverandom, and made sure that all of his friends were too! Sometimes they would play roughly as boys and their dogs are wont to do, but never so roughly that anyone could get hurt. Roverandom did wish that moon-Rover could enjoy such things. But all he said to the Man-in-the-Moon was "I do miss moon-Rover. We had such wonderful adventures together. And I know if he met my boy, he would feel differently about children.
The Man-in-the-Moon nodded slowly, as if thinking, but he did not say anything else to Roverandom, for just then several of the children came clamoring up to him, laughing and begging him for a song or a tale, and the old wizard allowed himself to be led away! And little boy Two came racing over to Roverandom so quickly they were both bowled over, and Roverandom began barking for sheer joy, and little boy Two began laughing so loudly that they waked themselves up, and found themselves once more in bed in the white house on the cliff by the sea.
A few days later, Roverandom and the little boys and their father were walking on the beach-- or rather the father was walking, and Roverandom and the little boys were racing about. They came to old Psamathos' cove-- (You remember old Psamathos, don't you? Psamathos Psamathides the Psamathist, who was a great sand-sorceror, and who had helped Roverandom after the old wizard Artaxerxes had enspelled him and turned him into a little toy dog? And of course, it had been with his help that Roverandom had gone to the Moon and back, and had finally won free of the spell and been reunited with his little boy!) At any rate, Roverandom most certainly remembered him, and he raced over the sand to where the old sorceror stayed buried during the day. When old Psamathos was napping, all that could be seen of him were the tips of his long ears as they stuck out of the sand. Roverandom, of course, knew what to look for, and even more, what to sniff for! He went over to pay his respects, but he had no intention of disturbing the wily old sorceror. The little boys and their father had walked on out of the cove, and Roverandom was about to race after them when Psamathos stuck his ugly head out of the sand. "Well, hello Little Dog! You seem to have found a home at last! And how are you doing?"
Roverandom was a bit bowled over from surprise at the suddenness of Psamathos' appearance, but he quickly recovered himself, and politely greeted Psamathos. "I would introduce you to my boy," he said, "but he seems to have gone on. I must hurry after him!"
"One moment," said Psamathos. "Mews the seagull, who carries the post between here and the Moon, has told me that the Man-in-the-Moon has extended a special invitation to you and your boy on the next night of the full Moon."
"An invitation?" asked Roverandom.
"Indeed yes. He said he has been considering what you said about his moondog! He thinks perhaps the time is right!"
Roverandom was just about to ask Psamathos how he would know, when his little boy called him from the shore, and of course he had to go running to him! But he was very excited. At last he would get to see his old friend again!
Roverandom wished that he could tell his news to little boy Two, but of course he could not speak to him, since they were not on the Moon. But he barked excitedly and ran in circles around and around his boy, stopping ever so often to leap up and lick at his face.
Little boy Two laughed and said "Roverandom! Down, boy, down! What has you so excited?" But of course, Roverandom could not tell him.
That night, before he snuggled down next to his boy, Roverandom sat up and stared through the window. The Moon looked rather bright and jolly, but it was not quite round. It would be a few more days before it was perfectly round. Roverandom could scarcely wait!
The little boys and their parents (and of course, Roverandom along with them) were kept indoors for the next two days, as it was pouring down rain. They stayed indoors, and listened to the boys' father tell them stories, and they made toffee, and they played games that Roverandom could not join in, as they involved boards and little bits and pieces of things that one needed fingers and thumbs to play with. Once Roverandom picked up his little yellow ball and carried it over and dropped it in front of little boy Two, and wagged his tail hopefully. Little boy Two picked up the ball and smiled, but his mother shook her head and said "Not indoors". So that was the end of that! By the second day, Roverandom was not the only one bored-- the little boys were very tired of the rain as well. Little boy One and little boy Two actually went so far as to quarrel over the last biscuit at teatime, a quarrel settled when their mother gave it to little boy Three, which made both little boy One and little boy Two cry out "That's not fair!" at the same time.
Bedtime came as a great relief to Roverandom, who did not like to see his boy in such a cross mood, even though he was feeling a bit cross himself. But once they were all tucked up comfortably and left to themselves, little boy Two scratched Roverandom's ears, and they both began to feel better about things. Roverandom looked out the window, and saw nothing but rain pouring down. Was the Moon full yet? He couldn't tell. He put his head under little boy Two's chin, and drifted off to sleep.
The next thing Roverandom knew, he and his boy were in the garden of Dreams! But how different it seemed tonight! Where were all the other children?
Little boy Two looked all around. "Are we alone, Roverandom?" he asked.
"No, indeed you are not alone!" said a familiar voice.
"Daddy Long-beard!" cried little boy Two.
There stood the Man-in-the-Moon! He was grinning at them through his long white beard, his eyes twinkling and his long nose twitching. Roverandom wagged his tail and leapt up on the Man, and then gave a yip of joy! There, there behind the Man was moon-Rover, his friend!
But Moon-dog did not look as happy to see Roverandom as Roverandom was to see moon-Rover! Moon-Rover gave a little growl, and said "Well, I see you have not forgotten me altogether, in spite of your new friends!" and he put his head down low and growled at little boy Two!
Roverandom growled back. "You shan't hurt my boy!" he said.
"So long as that boy don't hurt me!" said moon-Rover. He was much too upset to mind speaking properly!
But little boy Two bent down carefully, and held out one hand, not trying to touch moon-Rover, but just to let him get a sniff and make a proper acquaintance. You can see by this that little boy Two was quite wise for his age in the matter of strange dogs. "I wouldn't hurt you," he said. "You are friends with my own little dog! And I think that you must be quite nice!" Moon-dog sniffed very carefully all over little boy Two's hand, and then his tail wagged just a little bit, and he put his ears down.
And now Roverandom remembered what the Man-in-the-Moon had said, and he looked up to see the old wizard watching. He winked at Roverandom.
"Weeelll," said moon-Rover to little boy Two, "perhaps you are not so bad. You don't throw stones at dogs or pull their tails, do you?"
"I should say not!" replied little boy Two emphatically. "Why a fellow would be really low to do such things as that!"
Moon-Rover looked at Roverandom and gave a doggy sort of smile, with his tongue hanging out. "I see that you've found youself a good one!" Then he gave a little yip, and jumped at Roverandom, and bowled him over, and the two dogs had a merry time tumbling about on the dewy silver grass. Little boy Two watched and laughed.
After a moment, the Man-in-the-Moon said, "You know, I invited you specially tonight, on a night when there are no other children here, because I need some help with a small problem."
This got their attention at once. "What is it, sir?" asked little boy Two politely.
"You know my sheep?" the Man-in-the-Moon looked at his moon-Rover and Roverandom as he said this. "You know that nothing has ever worried them?"
The two dogs nodded. They could remember flying to the mountains of the Moon where they sat on the white rocks and watched the tiny sheep (no bigger than the Man-in-the-Moon's Rover) wandering in herds over the hillsides. Every sheep carried a golden bell, and every bell rang each time each sheep moved a foot forward to get a fresh mouthful of grey grass; and all the bells rang in tune, and all the sheep shone like snow.*
"Well, lately something has been worrying them," said the Man, "and I should like for you all to see if you can find what has been doing this, for I have been very busy lately helping Psamathos, for we have been needing to manage the duties formerly held by the Pacific and Atlantic Magician, and something has seen fit to take advantage of my distraction! But when I am watching nothing happens. I think perhaps the three of you could discover the culprit for me, and then I shall be able to put a stop to it!"
"But, pardon me?" said Roverandom politely (for he really was very polite to wizards these days!) "How are we to get there?" For of course, he did not have his moon-wings any longer, and he noticed that moon-Rover did not have any either. And nor did little boy Two have wings for that matter!
But the Man-in-the-Moon laughed and said "How else?" And Roverandom suddenly realized that he did have his wings again, and so did the other dog! "But what about my boy?" he asked, for little boy Two had no wings.
"I cannot give wings to children," the Man said, "but there are other ways to travel." He put two fingers to his lips and gave an ear-splitting whistle. Suddenly there came from beyond the edge of the garden a large swooping creature. It was one of the white elephants, the same size as a donkey, only this one had wings! The wings were much larger than those of the little dogs, and they looked like pale blue butterfly wings, with black and silver markings. She flew about their heads, and then gracefully (for an elelphant) landed next to the Man-in-the-Moon. He put a hand on her head and patted it. "Her name is Isilui." He looked at little boy Two, whose eyes had grown very wide indeed. "She has consented to carry you. I suggest that all of you be on your way. When you have learned what you need to know, return here, for it is only from here that I can send you home."
Isilui knelt down, and little boy Two was able to mount just behind her neck, so that his legs were in front of her great wings. She flapped them two or three times, and then took off gracefully into the air, the two little dogs flying joyfully around her in circles. They knew their way to the mountains where the sheep grazed, and soon they were flying high. They overflew the shimmering and glittering fields of musical flowers-- the tinkleblells and ringaroses, the rhymeroyals and the pennywhistles, and all of the other plants, gleaming pale and silvery and opalescent beneath them, sending up a most beautiful symphony of sound as well as their delightful scents. They were high above the forests of great black-trunked trees, thick with pale golden blossoms, and then there they were, on a steep hillside, overlooking the flocks of tiny sheep, no bigger than the Rovers, as they grazed upon the pale grey grass. Isilui landed next to a tall white rock, and little boy Two was able to scramble off her back and onto the rock. His eyes were glittering with pleasure, for he had enjoyed the flying very much. Roverandom and Moon-Rover swooped over his head laughing, and then they both settled to either side of him upon the rock. Isilui wandered uphill just a short distance, and began to graze much like the sheep.
"What do we do now?" asked little boy Two.
"I suppose we watch," answered moon-Rover.
The three sat quietly for a while, perhaps it was only a little while, or perhaps it was a long while. But Roverandom was starting to feel the least little bit bored. He noticed that his boy had begun to kick his foot against the stone on which he sat, while moon-Rover began to scratch behind his ear. Roverandom suspected that perhaps they were a little bit bored as well. He wondered if perhaps they had waited long enough and could go flying once more. He had nearly forgotten how fun flying could be!
And yet, just as he'd nearly made his mind up, they saw the sheep begin to run, dark shadows cast over them! It was shadowbats! Suddenly moon-Rover, with a vicious snarl flew up. "I'll teach them to worry my master's sheep!" he said.
Moon-Rover flew after the shadow-bats, and Roverandom followed quickly. The dogs barked and growled at the creatures, and began to worry them much as the shadow-bats had worried the sheep. It looked as though they would drive them off altogether, when Roverandom noticed that his boy had mounted Isilui and was flying up as well.
The winged elephant gave a trumpet and little boy Two gave a shout, and they joined in the chase! The shadow-bats began to fly away in a rout-- little boy Two raised his hands with a victorious shout, and then he slipped. He began to plummet towards the hillside below.
Roverandom was terrified, but he did not wait an instant! Down he dove, and grabbed the shoulder of his boy's nightshirt in his teeth. But the boy was too heavy, and both continued to fall, until moon-Rover grabbed the other sleeve. The poor child was screaming, for they were so high up, and the nightshirt was all bunched up below his arms. Still, the dogs held on valiantly. They had slowed the descent considerably, and then Isilui was able to fly beneath the boy and catch him upon her back. Slowly, they flew back down to the hillside.
Little boy Two was weeping. "Why didn't I wake up? I always wake up when the dream becomes too frightening!"
Roverandom was sniffing him and licking him all over, to make certain that he was unhurt. His boy flung his arms around the little dog. "Oh, Roverandom! You and your friend saved me!"
Roverandom felt quite proud at this, and so did moon-Rover.
"Well," said moon-Rover, "now we know what's been after the master's sheep! Those shadow-bats have never been so bold before!" He gazed into the sky, and growled. "We should go and tell him of what happened! Once he knows they've been doing it, he can put a stop to it right away!"
They all took to the air again. Roverandom hovered very close to Isilui and his boy. He was going to take no chances that little boy Two would fall again! But they returned with no mishap to the garden of Dreams, and as they landed, the dogs' wings vanished, though Isilui's did not.
The Man-in-the-Moon was not pleased at all to learn that the shadowbats had been so very bold, and vowed to make them leave the sheep alone once and for all. He praised moon-Rover, and Roverandom and little boy Two as well.
Then they noticed that there were other children in the garden again, and little boy Two saw both his brothers! He went to tell them all about his adventure. His older brother was quite envious, but little boy Three did not understand at all. The two dogs sat by the Man-in-the-Moon, watching the children, and laughing their little doggy laughs.
"My boy will wake up soon," said Roverandom.
"Yes," said the Man-in-the-Moon, "but I am sure this will not be the last Adventure you all have!"
And Roverandom was quite right, for just that moment the little boy woke up, and there they were, snuggled together in little boy Two's bed. Little boy Two sat up. "Roverandom! Did it really happen?" But all Roverandom could do was to yip his answer and wag his tail.
And the Man-in-the-Moon was quite right as well, for that was only the first time, and not the last, of their Adventures together!
*From Roverandom, Chapter 2