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piosenniel 05-26-2006 12:33 PM

The Golden Perch Inn

May 5 (14 Thrimidge), 1356 SR

It was a gorgeous day in more than one aspect in Seredic’s eyes. Not only was the sun shining, and the grass very green, but the birds were singing merrily in every tree, and the nearby river laughed gaily as it tripped over it’s rocky bottom. There were still other reasons, though. Doubtless, anyone who hadn’t been around the inn long would not have been able to tell why Dick hummed a song he hadn’t always liked as he combed back the unruly curls about his head and took special care that all the buttons on his coat were properly buttoned. It was to be the first day that he unbolted the door of the inn without Gregory Goodbody behind him to oversee everything.

As soon as Dick thought that he looked like the owner and innkeeper that he was, he headed out to the hall. Still humming, he turned to his right and walked towards the Common Room.

“Good morning, Miss Rowan!” he said, stopping his song long enough to greet the young hobbit lass coming out from another room.

“A fine morning it is, sir!” she responded with a broad grin. They passed and Dick continued down the hall. In a moment, he came out into the wide, tall, and empty Common Room, noting with approval the fire already burning in the hearth. His smile became broader as he went across the room to the round front door. With no little amount of pride, he undid the bolt and lock and then opened it wide.

Sunlight streamed in and standing on the front step he could hear the birds calling. He smiled broadly at the morning and then called a greeting to a passing neighbor.

For another moment, he stood on the threshold of the inn, feeling that in the exception of the birth of every one of his children, he had never had a prouder or better day. Then he turned back in and went inside. He walked about the counter and went into the kitchen. Cela and Primrose were already at work.

“Good morning!” he said, above the sound of frying bacon. “What’s for breakfast?”

--- Folwren

Arry 06-01-2006 02:15 AM

Will sat at the kitchen table a large mug of steaming tea clasped in his hands. He was hungry and was looking forward to a large platter of eggs and bacon and toast with jam to fill in the corners, before he started the rest of his day’s work.

He’d been up since before first light, seeing to the ponies and horses that were stabled in the barn. Stalls had been mucked out, fresh hay gotten for the feeders, fresh buckets of water, and new bedding for the floor. Each horse had a nosebag of oats to start the day, as well as the hay in the feeders. All had been given a quick brushing before being turned out into the fenced exercise yard; the ones staying over again would be gone over more thoroughly with comb, brush, and hoof pick before being settled in for the night.

‘Good morning!’ Master Boffin’s voice boomed out merrily above the crackle of the frying bacon. ‘What’s for breakfast?’

Will grinned at him, offering him a mug of tea from the pot at the table. ‘Bacon, of course . . . nice and crispy, Master Boffin.’ Will nodded at Primrose as he spoke. ‘Bacon as only the gifted mistresses of the Perch’s kitchen can make it. Bacon fried so deftly the very thought of it brings a song of praise to my lips.’ He winked good-naturedly at Cook and gave her an ingratiating smile.

‘Oh and let there be eggs, too, please, m’ladies! Mounds of fluffy eggs scrambled gently.’ He nodded to the hay filled basket that sat on the end of the counter. ‘Hens were in a happy mood this morning. Only the little buff was real broody. Tried like the dickens to keep me away from her little clutch.’ He held up his right hand, showing off the little strips of linen he’d tied about two of his fingers where she’d pecked him. ‘I left her one . . . she seemed to settle down with that. Though, I must say she kept a baleful watch on me as I moved about the henhouse.’

‘Would you like me to cut the bread?’ he asked hopefully, pushing his now empty mug away from him. ‘I can get the toasting forks going if you’d like, too, ladies . . .’

Undómë 06-01-2006 03:25 AM

Rowan hurried on her way once she’d said her good-morning to Master Boffin. It was his first day as Innkeeper for the Perch and she had decided she would put her very best foot forward in order to give his patrons a very good impression of his inn.

Not that Master Goodbody had been a sluggard as the Innkeeper. Nay, he was always quite on top of things, and a fair employer, too. And wasn’t his daughter, Lily, a sweet woman! But, well . . . truth be told Rowan felt more comfortable around Master Boffin than she did the older fellow. And he had such a merry face, Master Boffin did. Who couldn’t help but like him?!

She went to the linen cupboard and got out a stack of towels to put in her basket, along with a number of neatly folded face cloths. Rowan relished the smell as she open the latticed doors. Lavender! A fresh, clean fragrance from the flowers sprinkled between the folded sheets and blankets. She recalled helping to harvest the spikes of violet-blue flowers last summer and tying them in bunches to dry from the barn rafters. They still held their pleasing subtle scent. She reached under a folded sheet for one of the smaller stalks and wove it securely into the lacings of her bodice.

Picking up her basket she went on down the hall, knocking at each of the occupied rooms. ‘Your towel, sir. A fresh towel, ma’am. Good morning! Good morning! Did the lad bring you warm water to wash up? Good, good! See you at breakfast, then.’ She gave as pleasant a smile as she could to each of the roomers without being too overwhelmingly cheerful. Some of them, she knew from previous days’ experience with them were simply not early morning risers.

Once done, she put away her basket and headed toward the kitchen. Her early morning duties were done. Soon the serving of breakfast would begin in the common room. Her tummy rumbled, protesting its empty state; the enticing aroma of bacon frying made her mouth water.

Rowan picked up her pace, hoping to get a few mouthfuls of breakfast into herself before the hungry patrons demanded their platters and mugs and pots of tea and such . . .

Firefoot 06-01-2006 05:30 AM

Cela let Will answer the question as she lightly added salt to the first batch of eggs. Sometimes she wondered if he didn’t know as much about what was going on in the kitchen as she did.

“Would you like me to cut the bread?” Will now asked. “I can get the toasting forks going if you’d like, too, ladies . . .”

“No need, no need,” said Cela without looking up. “It’s biscuits and jam this morning – Primrose how are those coming?” Without waiting for a response, she continued. “Good thing summer’s coming up quickly, not that you’d know it by the chill in the air. The stock of jam is starting to run low, and there’s nothing like a fresh pie. Fruit that’s preserved and canned or dried just doesn’t have the same taste to it as fresh fruit.”

“I’m sure the jam won’t run out,” said Dick with a smile.

“’Course it won’t. What kind of cook would I be if I let the jam run out?” Cela cast a critical eye at the eggs. “But that’s neither here nor there.” She selected a skinny jar containing an unlabelled chopped herb and sprinkled it lightly over the top of the eggs. “Excellent. And don’t neither of you ask what’s on them, either, because you know I won’t tell you.” She waved a wooden spoon in their general direction. “You’re right cheery this morning,” she commented to Dick, trying to remember if the day had some special significance as she checked on the bacon. “Ah, of course… the inn’s officially yours today, isn’t it?” She said, nodding to herself, though whether about her statement or the bacon was indeterminate. “Why don’t we get you two a bite to eat… looks about done…”

Folwren 06-01-2006 08:15 AM

Dick joined Will at the breakfast table and tucked a napkin into his collar. “Aye, today’s my first day, Cela,” he said. He grinned up at her as she placed a plate full of food before him. “I hope I’m ready for it.”

“Of course you are,” Cela replied confidently. She placed another full plate before Will. “Master Goodbody wouldn’t have let you have it if you weren’t ready for it.”

Dick shrugged slightly before setting into the bacon and eggs. “One would think so,” he said, after giving a moment to chew and swallow. “I have all the hopes of succeeding.” His stomach gave a slight flutter, though he couldn’t exactly say why. He attributed it to the empty state his stomach was in and continued to eat without saying anything further.

He and Will were half way through with their first serving of breakfast when Rowan came tripping into the kitchen, a smile on her face, and a healthy glow in her cheek. Dick looked up as she gave a bright and cheery good morning to everybody.

“How are all the guests this morning?” Dick asked. “Are any of them up yet?” Rowan flashed him a quick smile as she accepted a plate from Cela and turned to join the two hobbits at the table before answering.

Envinyatar 06-01-2006 10:25 AM

● Jack Greymoss ●
Jack eyed the sign as it swung in the morning breeze. ‘Golden Perch, then is it?’ he murmured to himself, shifting his gaze here and there about the Inn yard for any ‘opportunities’. He leaned on his walking stick, footsore from the long miles he’d traveled in the past few days. Bit of a misunderstanding in some no-name little watering hole down south a ways, where the Brandywine turned east from the Bounds.

Dumb-as-dirt farmer gave him the what-for for ‘borrowing’ a few eggs and loaf of bread cooling on the windowsill of the farmhouse. Brandished his nasty pitchfork at him, then set the dogs after him. Jack grinned as he thought about the lumps he’d laid on those hounds heads when they’d caught up to him.

His belly rumbled, empty as the purse that hung at his belt. No . . . wait a moment there, Jack-boy!. He reached into an inner pocket of the greasy leather vest he’d appropriated from some fool drunk in Bree a number of months ago and found two small coins he’d kept for dire need. And surely this was dire need . . . Be just enough, he hoped, for a pint of ale and the right to sit at ease in the Perch, looking the place over.

Jack stood in the shadows of the entryway letting his eyes adjust to the dimmer light within. He slid right, to counter that marked where the drinks were to be got. He tapped a coin on the wooden surface of the bar and called out in a loud voice.

‘How bout it? Can a man get a pint here?’

His gaze slid around the room, noting where things were placed and who occupied tables. Oh, aye! There’s some as look promising . . . yes, indeed!

Undómë 06-01-2006 11:43 AM

Rowan tucked into her eggs and bacon; washing her rather large forkfuls down with gulps of sweet, hot tea. ‘Sorry!’ she mumbled round a mouthful of biscuit with gooseberry jam on it. She swallowed another gulp of tea and wiped the crumbs from her mouth.

‘Don’t mean to be such a little piggy, but the guests are up, the lot of them. And I’m sure they’ll soon be washed and dressed and out into the common room expecting food soon . . . very soon! I’m just trying to take the edge of my own hunger before I have to put on a smile and take out the platters Cook and Mistress Primrose are cooking up.’ She turned a little red, rethinking her choice of words. ‘Not that I mind smiling and serving the food. Oh no, not at all! Truth be told I rather like seeing their faces light up at the first whiff and site of the Perch’s tasty fare. It’s just that it rather gets in the way of your being friendly when your belly is making loud protests!’

The sound of some loud voice calling from the common room penetrated the noise and talk of the kitchen. ‘Shall I go see to that?’ she asked, her eyes lingering longingly on the rest of her meal.

Folwren 06-01-2006 12:37 PM

Dick couldn’t help but smile at Rowan’s explanation of her eager attack at breakfast. He didn’t mind, nor did her explanations offend him. A reassuring remark nearly made its way out of his mouth when a loud voice called from the common room.

‘How bout it? Can a man get a pint in here?’

No hobbit voice, to be sure. Dick saw a disappointed look sweep over Rowan’s face and she looked down at her scarcely begun breakfast. ‘Shall I go see to that?’ she asked quietly.

‘No,’ he said, rising. ‘No, that’s fine. You finish breakfast – you might not have much chance later on today. I’ll see to it. Cela, save my place.’ He addressed the Cook as he pushed back his chair and stood up. Clearing his throat slightly and tugging on his vest to make absolutely sure it was on straight, he exited the kitchen and went out to meet the guest.

Good blazes, here was a rough character! Dick kept his surprise out of his face as he stepped up to the counter. ‘What can I do for you, sir?’ he asked calmly. ‘You’re seeking a pint? Perhaps breakfast as well?’ Ale was all very well and good in its place, and his inn was an exceptional place to purchase it, but it was still considerably early in the morning. Besides, this man looked like he needed more of Celandine Brandybuck’s eggs and bacon with secret ingredients put into them than a mug of ale.

Envinyatar 06-01-2006 02:14 PM

● Hithadan ●
Hithadan watched from the shadows of a small coppice of beech trees. The Inn and the road were easily seen from where he stood. And he straightened up from his leaning against one of slender trunks, his gaze riveted on a none too wholesome character making his way along the edge of the road that ran from Willowbottom to Stock and beyond to the Great Road. Though, from the looks of the fellow as he dodged off the road as someone approached and walked in the shadows of the low, scrubby hedgerow, he doubted he was one to make his way down the Main Road. Too easy to be seen.

And there he was, now, a ruffian sort, looking at the inn’s sign. Though he could not see it clearly, Hithadan was sure it was a calculating appraisal the fellow was making.

He let the man pass through the door and waited a little while to follow. In the far left corner of the common room Hithadan slid into a chair, his back to the wall, eyes on the happenings before him.

Celuien 06-01-2006 05:31 PM

"It's biscuits and jam this morning – Primrose how are those coming?" Cela continued speaking, leaving no pause for the assistant cook's reply.

Primrose knew that if Cela needed an answer, she would stop and wait for a response. And so she took the question as a reminder to keep at work and, without attempting to fit a few words on the state of the biscuits between the phrases of Cela's conversation, industriously tended the fire under her pan of biscuits. The scent of sizzling bacon mingled with the aroma of her rapidly browning biscuits, and Primrose suddenly realized that she was quite hungry. She poked at the fire and flames leapt up, reddening her cheeks with their heat. Primrose carefully tucked a few stray curls under her scarf. It wouldn't do for her hair to take flame along with the firewood.

Drawing close to the fire again, Primrose peeked at her biscuits and poked them. The small dimples she made vanished as she withdrew the pressure of her finger. The biscuits were done. She deftly withdrew them from their pan and arranged them on a platter with butter, jam, and honey.

Balancing the platter on one hand, Primrose swept over to the table and deposited her biscuits, hot and golden, in front of the breakfasters. "Biscuits are done," she said brightly. "Is there anything else you need?"

Envinyatar 06-01-2006 10:02 PM

● Jack Greymoss ●
The Innkeeper . . . yes it must be him . . . The Halfling stood behind the counter as if he owned it. Now Jack was well enough aware the fellow was taking his measure, despite the fact his face showed no distaste, or favor for that matter. He tugged at the front of his tunic, trying to be a bit more presentable. One bony finger pushed his coin across the smooth wood toward the Innkeeper, his ragged, dirty fingernail tapping plaintively on it.

‘Well, sir,’ he began. ‘The name’s Jack . . . Jack Greymoss. And I have to tell you I’ve been on the road for a fair piece.’ He picked up the coin and rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger. ‘Now this little bit of metal’s all I have. I’d say yes to something to break my fast, but I think I’ll have to choose the ale.’

He pushed the coin toward the Innkeeper once again. ‘Finest in the Eastfarthing, or so I’ve heard . . .’

Arry 06-01-2006 11:02 PM

‘Biscuits are done,’ Primrose said brightly. ‘Is there anything else you need?’

It was a question that most likely required no answer, Will knew. It was expected that each of them, save the Innkeeper, would fetch any extra things needed. Still, he raised an innocent enough face to Primrose and heaved a long sigh.

‘A wife, if you please, dear Primrose . . . yes, that would be most helpful . . . a wife . . . or at least a promising lass . . .’

He looked round at the faces of those with him in the kitchen. Then another sigh as he dipped into one of the big pockets in his vest. With a flourish he waved a piece of folded parchment in the air.

‘Yes, there’s been a letter from Crickhollow.’ He unfolded the paper and passed it round the table. ‘My dear mum,’ he went on. ‘Reinforced by Buttercup and Opal, my oldest brothers’ wives.’ He shook his head slowly. ‘Worse yet, they’re coming in a month’s time for a “visit”. And worser . . . worsest, eh? . . . they’ll want to meet the lasses belonging to the names I’ve mentioned in my letters back to them.’

He laughed . . . a rather condemned man’s laugh. ‘Now where do you think I’m going to dig up Allyssum, Ginger, Iris, and lovely Sage?’

Undómë 06-01-2006 11:31 PM

Rowan nearly choked on her mouthful of tea at the pleading tone in Will’s voice. She managed a subdued sort of snort as the liquid threatened to go up her nose; followed by a small bout of coughing. Red cheeked she gathered her wits about her as best she could and laughed out loud at the pitiful picture Will presented.

‘Good gracious!’ she chuckled, wiping her mouth with her napkin. ‘So that’s why you always sit under the ash tree when you write your letters and gaze so thoughtfully toward the gardens and flower beds.’ Her mouth curved into an impish grin as she shook her head. ‘Alyssum, Ginger, Ivy, and Sage, indeed!’ She arched her brows at the stabler. ‘And is there a Rose, a Marjoram, and even perhaps a Lavendar among your eligible lasses?’

Celuien 06-02-2006 05:00 AM

"Now where do you think I’m going to dig up Allyssum, Ginger, Iris, and lovely Sage?"

Primrose laughed merrily, both amused at Will's predicament and relieved that his request for a wife segued into his explanation of the letter. It would have been most awkward had Will intended a flirtation with her.

Rowan teased Will, and Primrose decided to join the game. He had briefly embarrassed her by his plea, though her blush couldn't be seen over her fire-reddened cheeks. A little teasing would be enough revenge. "Yes, Rowan. I'll wager there's more than meets the eye about our Will here. I'll warrant he'll not have a bit of trouble to find a lass or two - or seven - to fit all the names." She grinned at the maid, watching Will's face out of the corner of her eye. Was he blushing?

Firefoot 06-02-2006 06:53 AM

Time to rescue Will, decided Cela. “Well, now, m’dear boy, I daresay you have gotten yourself into a bit of a predicament,” she commented over the laughter of Primrose and Rowan. “But nothing that can’t be fixed…” She smiled to herself. Will’s situation had put her in mind of her own courting days – such merry days they had been! And Cela had a few tricks up her sleeve. Nevertheless, she continued flipping bacon until Will probed her with a, “How so?”

“Not that you’d be obliged to follow my plan,” said Cela, stretching out the suspense as long as possible. “You’ll have to see how you like it. But the first of your lasses is quite easily gotten rid of. Pick one and say that she’s getting courted by another lad, and they’re likely to be married within the year. Or already married. A second is not terribly hard, either. Say she’s off visiting kin in, oh, Hobbiton. Or Tuckborough. That one probably ought to be your ‘lovely Sage.’” She pretended to be thinking, enjoying the hopefulness of Will’s look and the curiosity of the lasses.

“And what about the other two lasses?” asked Rowan finally.

“Well, haven’t you figured it out yet?” asked Cela, her eyes twinkling as her gaze passed from Rowan to Primrose and back. “I see two young lasses quite right to play the parts of young master Will’s Alyssum and Iris…”

Durelin 06-02-2006 09:02 AM

Griffo had just rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and said good morning to his sheep when he decided to make his way to the Golden Perch Inn for some kind of breakfast. And he figured he'd stay for second breakfast, and perhaps elevenses, and maybe... Who am I kiddin'? I've got nowhere better to go. And he hadn't for six years now. Melilot had kept him busy at home and elsewhere, and now that she was gone, he tried to make himself busy as best he could. And that didn't work very well. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he didn't really try.

Swinging open the door to the Golden Perch, Griffo adjusted his vest, suddenly realizing he was not sure when the last time he had washed it was. He always came up with and excuse for not doing so, reminding himself that he normally only wore his shirt. His two vests were the only nice clothes he owned anymore. Melilot had always made nice things for him. And he had always managed to ruin them. She always laughed when he brought her a vest that had split down the back, though, or anything of the like. She always joked about how it seemed as if she had eight children to take care of, not just seven. Just... Griffo's lips twisted into a soft smile. There were some very fond memories of the two trying to take care of seven children.

The hobbit stepped into the common room, the smile on his face, to see that there were two men already inside, one seated in a corner, the other up at the bar. It was a little strange. Normally Griffo was the first patron to arrive that was not in a room there when he went for a bit of breakfast. He could hear noise coming from the kitchen, and knew that the food he desired was soon to be prepared, if Cela and Primrose hadn't already started on it.

The inn workers were eating, using their brief time in the morning to gather up their strength for a long days work ahead. Griffo always let them be, and waited to be given a mug and a bit of toast whenever anyone had a moment to give it to him. He had all day. And so he simply took a seat at a small table close to the bar after he grabbed the chess board from by the fireplace. Eyeing the two men with interest, he set up the board for a game.

Tevildo 06-02-2006 10:31 AM

Tollman had been sitting by himself in the corner, trying to come up with an excuse so that he could leave behind his duties at the Inn and slip down to the river to throw in a hook and line or perhaps even take out his little boat. So far he had not had any luck. The Innkeeper was a good hobbit, but no fool when it came to malingering. On more than one occasion, Master Boffin had spoken to him about the need to be more attentive to his work.

With a sigh, the young hobbit pushed his mug to the side and trudged up to the front to retrieve another plate of biscuits. The one thing about working in the Inn is that you were definitely well fed. At least there was that consolation, even when he couldn't think of a good excuse to go down and fish. Moreover, today was expected to be especially busy. There were a number of markets in nearby towns, and they'd been warned that the Inn traffic would likely be heavy with many coming into the area with plans to show their wares.

Striding up to the counter, Tolman noticed a newcomer to the Inn, one of the Big Folk who wore a travel stained tunic and breeches. Tollers was ever an affable young lad and, once he heard that the poor fellow would be going without a proper breakfast for lack of money, he could not help but feel some sympathy. The fact that the man's clothing was dirty and askew did not bother Tollman in the slightest. His own father had often berated his young hobbit son that his shirt and breeches were full of stains Plus, this poor stranger was so large that the young hobbit guessed it must be particularly painful for him if his stomach was empty. In Toller's eyes, a large empty stomach could only equate to a very large belly ache.

Leaning over to the stranger, the hobbit tugged insistently at the top of his breeches. "Once you finish your dealings with Master Boffin, you are welcome to come join me at the table. I've a large plate of biscuits and, if you can give me some news of the outside world, you're welcome to share my food."

With that, the young hobbit slid behind the counter and went into the kitchen, purloining a heaping plate of biscuits along with a pot of honey and another of jam. Seeing that no one seemed to have his eye on him, Tollman slid his hand deep into one of the pans and came up with two handsome slabs of ham, which he placed on top of his pile of biscuits. If he couldn't go fishing, at least he could take an extended first breakfast!

Arry 06-02-2006 12:05 PM

Well now this was getting a bit too close for comfort! Cook had certainly offered some good suggestions for several of his problems . . . but Primrose and Rowan? He could feel his neck getting rather warm beneath the collar of his tunic and he knew if he didn’t leave soon the tips of his ears would be glowing like coals.

Will broke open several biscuits and shoveled the rest of his eggs onto them along with some crispy bacon he’d broke into bits. He wrapped the little sandwiches up in his napkin, tying it off with a knot. And all the while saying how he needed to be getting back to the stable . . . one of the horses had a stone bruise needed seeing to and another he’d wrapped with a cool compress to take down the swelling in one of the leg joints. And the roof . . . he’d discovered a few rotten shingles and he need to be repairing that section . . . take all day he thought . . .

He said his thanks to Cook, nodding to her, as he hurried out the kitchen door, mug of tea in one hand, the packet of biscuits in the other. Primrose and Rowan he studiously avoided, his attention being taken up in the study of the wood grain on kitchen floor as he made his way to the exit.

As the door swung shut behind him he was certain he heard some laughter and giggling escaping after him. Now his ears were indeed burning!

Land’s sake! Rowan and Primrose to play the part of his “possibles” for mum? Primrose! Rowan! Good gravy! They were Perch workers, just like him . . . he didn’t even think of them as, well . . . girls!

He fled to the safety of the barn and the ponies . . .

Undómë 06-02-2006 01:01 PM

Rowan had laughed at Will’s predicament and found Cook’s solution amusing, too. Especially since it had caused the poor fellow to light up like a glowbug. Luckily her own mother had her younger sister and brother to see to and keep a firm hand on. And so, had left Rowan to run her own life. At least for now. In three years she would come of age, just as Will would be doing next year. And she was sure her mother’s thoughts would then be bent on her. The lady loved babies! There was no getting round that fact. And in lieu of having any more of her own, she was quite happy to settle for grandbabies.

Well, why worry about such things when they haven’t come knocking at your door yet, Rowan! she told herself

She finished the rest of her eggs, then chewed thoughtfully on the last strip of bacon. A final swallow of tea and she was up, scraping her plate into the bucket before piling it in the sink with some of the other dishes. She thought she could hear the sound of the door to the rooms’ hallway opening and closing as the guests made their way into the common room for breakfast.

‘Best load up some platters of bacon and eggs, Prim,’ she called to Primrose, as she got down one of the big serving trays. She took several baskets of hot biscuits, too. Saying she would be back shortly for the teapots. Plates, cups, and utensils and pots of honey, jam, and butter had already gone out to the tables earlier that morning.

She was thinking about Cook’s suggestion; wondering if it were even possible to pull off such a thing. It might be quite fun actually, she thought. Though, she considered, too, how angry his mother might be if she found out the truth. And sad, too, that her son would play such a prank on her.

Hmmm . . . I guess I could do it if Will’s alright with it. She was a bit unclear that he actually approved of Cook’s plan. Perhaps Cook would talk more with him and get it all settled. It was a subject she thought she ought not to approach with him on her own. It felt a little too slippy-slidey.

She hoisted the serving tray up on her shoulder supporting it with her hand beneath it. It was a source of pride to her that she’d become quite the expert at balancing such loads these last two years.

Rowan nodded to Primrose as she turned to go out to the common room. On an impulse, she gave the woman and impish grin and gave her a challenging look.

‘Fight you for him! Tooth and nail!’ She winked at her friend. ‘And may the best flower from the garden win!' Rowan laughed merrily as she sailed out into crowd of hungry guests.

Might as well start practicing! I’m sure Cook’ll convince him how good her plan is.

Envinyatar 06-02-2006 11:43 PM

● Hithadan ●
Hithadan waited patiently until the server passed nearer to him. He smiled a little watching her work her way about the room. All smiles and deft hands as she placed the platters of food before the hungry guests.

He glanced toward the man at the counter. One of the other servers from the inn had spoken briefly with him. Tolman . . . the encounter seemed innocent enough. Still he would see what business the lad had with the raggedy man.

‘Little mistress!’ he called gently as Rowan drew near. He raised his hand to her as she turned toward him. ‘Something to break my fast and a mug of strong tea, if you please.’

Undómë 06-03-2006 02:16 AM

'Eggs it is, today, Master Hithadan. And bacon. though I think Cook could be persuaded to cook a bit of ham for you. And Primrose's lovely biscuits with the last of summer's jam.' She put a generous plate of food before him.

Rowan furrowed her brow as she gave him a mug. 'Now you're sure it's tea today and not some ale or wine?' She waited for him to consider the offer. Well, then tea it will be,' she grinned. She made her way back to the kitchen for a pot of steaming tea.

'And here's a pot of honey to sweeten it,' she said, putting the pot on his table. 'From Granny Greenhill's bees. Clover and apple tree flowers she said. Very tasty. I can vouch for it!'

Her serving tray was empty and she rested it on the ground, leaning it in against her leg. 'And what brings you to Stock these days,' she asked, topping off his mug with a bit more tea. 'Haven't seen you in quite a while. What brings you round this time, if you don't mind my asking?'

It was a question she always asked of him, hoping that one day he might actually satisfy her curiosity.

Lilly 06-03-2006 01:38 PM

- The Sandybanks Family -
Marigold’s brown ears twitched at the words from her owner. Her nose twitched, too, smelling the enticing scent of fresh hay and oats borne on the early morning breezes. Behind her, she could hear the goats making excited little noises. Marigold snorted. They wanted her to hurry up, get the cart closer to the source of the good smells. Well, why don’t they just come up and pull this thing along for a while she humphed to herself. The sturdy little pony put her strength into the pulling of the cart and hurried the family and the hanger-on goats along at a faster clip.

‘Whoa up there, Mari!’ called Madoc, bringing his cart to a halt in front of the stable. He stepped down, helping Lila and the children from the cart. Arrangements were made with the stableman for the care of Marigold and the two nannies to the satisfaction of Madoc. Then he bid the man good day and took his family into the inn.

‘Just find us . . .’ Madoc began, holding the door open as his wife and brood passed through.

‘. . . a good table. Yes, my dear! And you see to something hot to drink if you will.’ Lila smiled at him, nodding as he entered. She saw his brow raise in question. ‘Yes, get yourself an ale. But tea, please, for me, and for the little ones.’

Young Taffy rolled his eyes at “the little ones” from his mother. He dearly loved his little sister Seren, but geeze! He was after all eleven and she just five. She really was the ‘little one’.

He’d had enough of sitting, in the cart. So he stood for a while by the chair his mother had appointed him. His eyes roamed around the room taking it all in. There were two of the Big Folk in the common room. Both dressed a little raggedy by his determination. He wondered if either lived out in the wild. Big Folk were not all that common where he lived, and there were many stories he and his mates told each other of the great, tall men who lived rough and lived dangerously. He shivered a little, his eyes darting away from the both of them.

Hmmmm! Over there by the bar sat a very old gaffer. And he seemed to be playing with some little carved figures on a board on the tabletop. Taffy played checkers with his own Granpa at home and enjoyed it very much. He sidled up quietly by the gaffer to see what sort of game he was playing. It looked like a checkerboard from what he could see.

‘Is that a new kind of checkers, sir?’ he asked without thinking. He came to the edge of the table. ‘Oh, look! You’ve put your players on the red and the black squares! Is this how they play it in Stock?’

Envinyatar 06-03-2006 02:09 PM

● Hithadan ●
‘Why the pleasure of seeing your dimpled cheeks when you smile, Mistress Rowan! That's what always brings me round to the Perch!’ Hithadan grinned back at her as he piled some jam on the biscuit in his hand. He took a bite from the light, flaky biscuit and held it up as if in adulation, nodding his head to her.

‘Be sure to give Mistress Brandybuck my compliments! I believe she . . . or was it Mistress Primrose, this time? . . . anyway, one of them has outdone themselves . . . again! Why even the waybread of the Fair Folk could not outshine this, surely.’

He picked up his fork and tucked into his eggs as if he hadn't had a good meal in days or weeks . . .

Folwren 06-03-2006 09:29 PM

Dick did not know quite what to say to the stranger as he extended the coin towards him again. Hunger could easily be seen from Jack's face, but he would rather go with the ale. Why not throw in some food with that? The poor chap could offer no more than he had. And yet what an awkward business! Dick knew how the Big People disliked pity and charity, though he would hardly call it that, and many a hobbit wouldn’t complain to being treated to breakfast. But then He noticed Tollman approaching the customer and before he had formed a proper reply, the young hobbit took him out of his predicament, and attracted the man’s attention.

"Once you finish your dealings with Master Boffin," he said, "you are welcome to come join me at the table. I've a large plate of biscuits and, if you can give me some news of the outside world, you're welcome to share my food."

A sudden smile swept over Dick's face. That's the spirit. He'd thank Tollers later and make sure he got some sort of second breakfast for that. He grinned up at Jack and his head bobbed up and down as he took the coin.

"Aye, the lad'll look after you. I'll get the ale right away, and then you go on and sit with him. He'll get you your breakfast." Dick gave Jack no time to protest (if he wanted to) before he turned and took one of the mugs to draw the ale. He winked at Tollers as he passed, a heaping plateful of food in his hand. With an afterthought, he half turned, the brimming mug of ale in his left hand and snatched at Tollers just before he stepped out of reach. He bent towards him and close to his ear whispered –

“You let him eat whatever he needs, now. Don’t hesitate to go back for seconds. If Cela puts up a fight, tell her they’re my orders. Take this." And he put the mug in the young hobbit's hand and sent him off.

Envinyatar 06-04-2006 02:31 AM

● Jack GreyMoss ●
Jack ventured a smile at the Halfling as he sat down at the table. It was not an expression he practiced often, and so it may have appeared rather frightening . . . a rictus of the mouth, a gaping sort of grin, that may well have been seen as a grimace from another angle. It was a fleeting attempt which soon disappeared behind the rim of his ale mug.

‘Well, I do thank you for that!’ he said in a grateful sounding voice. ‘I swear I have had nothing to drink but what brackish water I could find along my way.’ He took another great gulp and set down the mug with a satisfied thump on the wooden table top.

The ale rumbled about in his empty belly . . . loud grumblings, in which his innards protested the lack of sustenance. ‘Guess I am a bit hungry at that! My old belly’s knocking against my backbone!’ he remarked, reaching for one of the biscuits on the platter. He piled the halves of it with jam and popped them in his mouth, one after the other. Another biscuit found its way into his hand and this one he clapped about a nice fat piece of ham.

Halfway through this makeshift sandwich he eyed his Hobbit companion. ‘Don’t let me eat your whole plateful. Dig in!’ He chewed thoughtfully on the rest of the ham biscuit. ‘Good food, here at the Perch. You always get fed like this?’ He pushed the plate a little closer to his companion.

‘Name’s Jack, by the way. Jack Greymoss. Used to live in Breeland, over across the river and such. Been traveling lately, though.’ He thought he’d best leave out the details so as not to scare his table mate off. ‘Working odd jobs and such for a place to sleep and hot meal.’

‘Wotcher name? I don’t think I caught it.’

Celuien 06-04-2006 07:54 AM

Rowan sailed out into the common room, leaving Primrose in the kitchen to laugh at the idea of fighting tooth and nail over the ostler. Poor Will. It seemed that Rowan was going to enjoy playing the part if she got the chance.

Primrose, on the other hand, was a little bit uncomfortable. Will's plea (a joke, she was sure), made her blush. Why? She was used to banter about weddings. It was almost a tradition among her sisters, cousins and friends. She felt her ears burn again with the sudden realization that Will hit a little too close to home with his teasing - Primrose wouldn't have minded being mentioned as an eligible lass in one of his letters.

Now you stop that, Miss Primrose Smallburrow, she chided herself. You're being naught but a silly goose. She hoped that Cela wasn't serious about her plan. If so, it would be terribly uncomfortable for her to play her role. Primrose frowned. Then again, maybe there was no better cure for her silliness than to play at being one of Will's prospects. It would show her just how ridiculous she was.

Looking a summer thunderstorm, Primrose began mixing another batch of biscuit dough. As she cracked an egg into a little mound of flour, she asked Cela, "Did you really mean it? About Will, I mean." She kept her face down, studying the flour in the bowl, determined to keep her composure. Fold and knead, knead and fold. If she concentrated on the biscuits, maybe Cook wouldn't notice her discomfiture.

Firefoot 06-04-2006 12:13 PM

“Sure, I really meant it,” answered Cela, completely unaware of Primrose’s discomfort. “I’m rather looking forward to it, myself. It’s just the sort of thing I would have done when I was about your age. I only wish I might be a bit younger so as to take part…” She laughed. “But I’ll have to content myself with watching. It’s time for my old bones to step back for you young ones to enjoy yourselves.” As she spoke, she bustled about the kitchen, checking on another batch of nearly-done biscuits and heaping another couple plates with bacon and eggs.

“Of course,” she added, “it’s really up to Will whether he goes through with it; I seem to have quite embarrassed the poor lad. I daresay he can be a bit too serious at times. He’ll think it over, and I’m sure he’ll come around. There’s really not much else he can do. And after all, I’m not actually asking him to court you lasses. It’s just a bit of play-acting.” Cela suddenly realized just how quiet Primrose had been and how very focused she was on kneading that dough. Perhaps Will wasn’t the only one not quite comfortable with her plan. “It really isn’t so serious, dear,” said Cela. “It will only be for a few days, I’m sure, and it will only have to be enough to put on an act for Will’s mum and sisters-in-law. Nothing to get worried about. Look at Rowan, there, treating it all as a great game. That’s all it is.”

But Primrose had continued to knead her dough, even more fiercely if that were possible. “Or perhaps it’s just the opposite problem?” suggested Cela blithely. “You don’t want it to be just a bit of play-acting? You don’t need to be shy, lass. Speak up if you don’t like it. Nothing you say here will reach Will’s ears from my mouth.”

Celuien 06-04-2006 05:47 PM

Primrose gave the dough a particularly hard push, flattening it into the counter. Cela had come very near to the truth. She was caught now. If she tried to lie, Cela, knowing her well for these past several years, would surely know that she wasn't being truthful. But she would have to speak carefully. Though cornered, there was no need for her to embarrass herself any more than necessary.

Primrose rubbed her hands on her apron. "Opposite problem?" Careful, careful. "Yes and no. I don't know." Stay focused. Calm down. She balled up the bits of dough still clinging to her fingers. It flaked. A bit too much flour in the batter, perhaps. "I'd never thought any such thing, not in all the years I've been here, and Will working right outside. But this morning...This morning when he teased about finding a wife...I don't know!" Primrose stared pleadingly at Cela. "It upset me a bit, though not in an unpleasant way, if you take my meaning, and just now, I found myself thinking…I found myself thinking that it would be nice to be someone to write home about." There. It was done.

She looked at the ground. Not hearing a reply, and not daring to look at Cela's face again, Primrose went on in a low voice, "But if Will wants to go along with your plan, I'll play too. Nothing better to cure my silliness than some playacting, I think."

Durelin 06-04-2006 06:09 PM

Griffo had remained intent on setting up his chess pieces while a small figure had inched its way beside him, and only turned when the figure decided to speak. He found himself looking at a young hobbit lad with curly brown hair. An inquisitive young lad if I ever saw one…or heard. Seems sharp enough., the old hobbit thought, sizing the boy up a bit. Looking intently at the boy, he kept his face very stern for a moment, though not harsh.

"Checkers?" he questioned sternly, "Checkers is a game for children and old men who've lost most of their wits. You look like a sharp young man, so perhaps its time you learned about this game, for it is altogether different from checkers." He paused for a second or two, turning back to the playing board before him. When the boy didn't move, he gestured with a wave of his hand, beckoning to him. "Come around and have a good look."

Once the boy was standing at the edge of the table, now more in front of Griffo, the old gaffer spoke again. "This is a chess board. And unlike simple checkers, each kind of piece has its very own purpose. And though I can't really tell you if that's just how we play it in Stock or not, I have only played it one way. And the same goes for checkers. Where you from, boy, if not Stock?"

Folwren 06-04-2006 06:14 PM

Dick turned to go back into the kitchen to finish his breakfast and a last word with the cook. He entered the room as Primrose was still speaking. “Nothing better to cure my silliness than a little play acting,” she said.

Dick took his seat at the table and picked up his fork again. He grinned broadly as the two hobbit ladies looked over at him, noticing his entrance for the first time. “Play-acting what? Is there going to be a prank or something done? Did I hear Will mentioned as I was coming in?”

He looked inquisitively at the two cooks, his eyes shining brightly with the expectation of fun. In the short pause that followed wherein they tried to decide what to say, Dick began to eat again.

“Bring me a couple biscuits, Miss Brandybuck,” he said. “And some of the butter and honey. Then tell me what’s going on while I eat.”

Firefoot 06-04-2006 09:10 PM

“Of course, Master Dick,” answered Cela. If she could have, she would have turned him around right there and marched him out of the kitchen for a few more moments while she finished her chat with Primrose. Now that her thoughts had caught up with her tongue, she wondered if she hadn’t pushed Primrose too far and made her more uncomfortable still. As it was, she contented herself with a whispered, “Not silliness at all, dear,” as she passed Primrose to fetch Dick a plate of biscuits.

“Our Will seems to have gotten himself in a spot of trouble,” she explained as she heaped his plate with biscuits, adding a pat of butter and a small tin of honey on the side. “You see, he has been writing to his mother about the four lovely lasses that he has been courting, so to speak. He's just received a letter saying his mother and sisters-in-law are coming to visit sometime soon, and of course they want to meet these marriage prospects of Will’s…” She chuckled. A tale like this only grew better in the telling. “He made his lasses up.”

Cela paused for Dick to register this before outlining the rest of her plan. “…So provided that Will wraps his head around the idea, he has no farther to look for a couple of lasses than right here in this inn. Rowan and Primrose, at least, seem quite delighted over the idea.” When Dick wasn’t looking, Cela shot Primrose a quick wink and a smile. We cooks, we keep our secrets…

Tevildo 06-04-2006 10:51 PM

Tollman Burrows
When Tollers saw how eagerly his guest was going through the platter of food, he made sure to slip off a biscuit or two and stuff them into his back pocket. No sense going hungry, he reasoned, especially when this stranger had such a hearty appetite. Still, he was not overly worried. The day was proceeding better than expected. The Innkeeper had given him the nod so that he could go back into the kitchen and load up again if that's what was needed.

All in all, Tollers was beginning to warm up to this stranger, and he responded in a cordial tone. "So glad to meet you, Jack Greymoss. My name's Tollman Burrows, but everybody calls me Tollers. That is everybody except my sisters. I have seven of those at home, and I won't even tell you what they call me!"

"The food is pretty good around here," added the hobbit, nodding his head enthusiastically. " Cela Brandybuck's the Cook, and most of the time she does alright by us." Tollman thought it best not to mention those few occasions when the Cook got a little pig-headed and decided to do some fancy dishes of her own. Those silly foods did not always match up to Miss Cela's daily fare, but he would never have told that to her face.

"So you like to work odd jobs and spend your time rambling on the road? Well Jack, I can't say as I blame you. That kind of life sounds fine to me, and I would take off myself, only my mum would be mighty upset. You see, she and my da think I should get married and settle down, especially with seven sisters still at home. They say it's my duty to find a hobbit lass who has a lot of brothers who'd take up with my sisters."

"But that's enough of me and my folks. What about you? If you want to pick up an odd job or two, I am thinking the Innkeeper might be willing. I mean you are a mighty big fellow, and there's not too many your size that we see around these parts. There is an occasional Elf about, but they seem to have nothing to do with good honest work. They are always into stories and songs and herbs and such. I did hear something about the Innkeeper wanting to get some big jobs done, and you might be just the man for that. If you'd like, I can talk with him."

"Plus, you and me could do some fishin' on the side. I have a fine boat tied up across the yard on the bank of the Brandywine. I think it is big enough that even you could fit inside. If you ever want to borrow it, just say the word and it's yours for the askin' for an afternoon or even a nightime fishin' expedition."

Lilly 06-04-2006 11:03 PM

- Talking with Griffo -
Taffy stood with his hands clasped behind his back. His fingers were itching to touch the pieces he saw on the board. ‘Well, sir,’ Taffy began, ‘we’re from up north, on the Brandywine.’ He looked away from the board and up at Griffo, wondering if the gaffer would know the place. ‘Girdley Island, actually.’ That’s my family over there at that table. My mother and little sister. My dad . . .’ he craned his neck about, and pointed toward the counter. ‘He’s over there getting something to drink.’ He remembered his manners and introduced himself. ‘I’m Taffy . . . Taffy Sandybanks.’

He shifted from foot to foot, his interest drawn back to the game. Temptation won out against his better manners and he reached for one of the white painted pieces. ‘Look at this one! It’s got a crown, doesn’t it?’ He placed it carefully back on the board. ‘And this here’s got a smaller one on its head.’ He picked up one with a pony carved on it and jumped it playfully over the little piece in front of it and then back again.

Without waiting for an invitation, Taffy climbed up onto the chair opposite Griffo. He settled in on his knees and leaned in over the table, looking from one side of the board to the other.

'You know, I have a little knife my father gave me. I’ll bet I could whittle up some figures like these. Well, not exactly like these. I’m not really all that good at it yet. But I could teach my Granpa this new kind of game.’

He looked over at Griffo, his little brows raised in question. ‘So how do you move these little pieces.’ One of his stubby little fingers rested on the head of a pawn. ‘Is it hard to learn? Do you think you could teach me?’

Arry 06-05-2006 12:02 AM

It was a relief to Will as he crossed the yard to the stable to see a cart and horse pull up. A family . . . the Sandybanks, the husband told him. Will had assured him he’d take good care of Marigold, and find a place to pen in the goats.

‘Come on, girl!’ Will urged the pony forward, drawing the little cart beneath the eaves of the stable. ‘Now you wait here a bit, while I bring your friends into the barn. I’ll just get them put away safely, then come for you.’ The two nannies fit in one of the stalls, and were left quite contentedly munching on some fresh hay.

Marigold had waited patiently for him and stood quite still as he removed her harness and bridle. She nickered softly and nosed him in the shoulder as he led her into the stable. ‘How ‘bout a nice nosebag of oats for you? I’ll brush and comb you while you’re eating.’ Will ran his hand over the pony’s back. ‘Been on the road a while, eh?’

As the pony munched on her oats, Will began to brush her. He like to talk to the horses as he groomed them, and she was no exception.

‘Too bad girls can’t be more like ponies, Marigold,’ he began, moving his arm in long strokes with the brush. The pony twitched her ears back toward him as if she were listening closely. ‘You’re so much easier to talk to . . . and you don’t expect much. Or maybe it’s just that I know what you expect and what to do for you.’ She’d finished her oats and he’d removed the bag giving her some time to drink a little of the fresh water he’d brought in to her stall.

‘I’ve got six brothers. What do I know about the lasses?’ Marigold turned her head back and eyed him. She snorted as if urging him to go on. Will switched to the curry-comb and plunged ahead with his one-sided conversation.

‘You see . . . I’ve gotten myself into a little trouble . . .’ He unraveled the story of his letters home to Crickhollow and the impending visit of his mother and sisters-in-law . . . and the plan that Cook had come up with at breakfast.

‘Now how am I going to even look those two in the face?’ he asked in an exasperated voice. Marigold stamped her foot on the packed dirt floor of the stall, sending up hay dust from the layer strewn on ground. ‘Oh, sorry!’ he said, pulling the comb from a tangle he hadn’t noticed. He worked the tangle out with his fingers and went back to using the comb.

‘I mean, I have to work with them!’ He fell silent for a while, letting his hands move gently and efficiently over the pony’s coat. ‘We’re friends, you know. We talk and tease each other and such . . . I just have no idea what else I’m supposed to do . . .’

Folwren 06-05-2006 08:10 AM

"That is a predicament, isn't it?" Dick mumbled. "But it sounds as though the way out isn't too difficult." He paused to drink some of his cooled tea. "I thought you said he had told her there were four lasses? We only have two."

"The other two are dealt with easily enough," Cela responded and told him what she had told Will and the two girls about his other two lasses being away or unavailable. Dick sat back in his chair and stared at her. When she was done, he picked up his fork again, shaking his head.

"That's what comes of going on about something that isn't true. Well, I hope you can convince Will in doing as you suggest, because that's the only way out of it that I see, unless he disappears himself for a while. When are they coming?"

Cela looked at Primrose, and Primrose thought for a moment. "A month, I think he said," she told him after a pause. "In a month's time." Dick nodded.

"Well, if Will doesn't want to go along with your plan, I might figure out some errand or other to send him on that will take a few days." He stood up, having finished his breakfast. "Goodness knows where I'll send him. . ." he muttered. He shook himself and straightened up, and started towards the door once more with a spring in his step. Then he stopped and turned about again.

"Oh, Cela, one last thing. If Tollers comes back for more food, give it to him and don't make a fuss. I told him he could come back for seconds."

"He shouldn't have to!" Cela said somewhat huffly. She turned back to her bacon. "He took enough for two earlier!"

"That's just it," Dick responded. "There are two. Just go ahead and give him his seconds if he asks for them, and don't be surprised if he takes another heaping plateful."

Firefoot 06-05-2006 06:32 PM

“Very well,” said Cela finally. “He will have them.”

“Thanks, Cela,” said Dick, and he returned to the common room, leaving Cela and Primrose alone once more.

“Now,” she said, turning to Primrose. “I don’t want you harboring any notions that what you’re feeling is ‘silliness.’ Will’s a fine young hobbit, and you might do worse than him.” Cela thought she could see Primrose’s ears reddening a bit. Better Will than Tollers… spends more time dreaming than working, she thought, but kept it to herself. “But you don’t spend enough time with those your own age. When was the last time you went out and did something fun? I don’t need your help in the kitchen all the time, you know. I’m not so old as that! Master Dick shouldn’t have any problems with that, and if he does he can take them up with me.

“Oh! The bacon,” she remembered suddenly, hastening to take the sizzling meat off the hot griddle. She sniffed the air critically. “No, not burnt… next thing to it, though,” she muttered. “Next thing I’ll be sugaring the eggs instead of salting them.”

Envinyatar 06-06-2006 02:15 AM

● Jack Greymoss ●
‘Well, now . . . I been out on my own long about ten years or more I’d say.’ Jack leaned back in his chair and sipped at his ale. ‘My family had a little farm in Breeland. Grew mostly rocks. Wore my Da to the bone it did. I sure enough did not want to end up like him. Married to someone as could hardly stand him by the time they were getting on in years.’

‘Nope . . . packed up and left and never looked back. And sorry to say I’ll bet they never give a thought for where old Jack is. Ah, well . . . some folks is lucky and some just aren’t.’ He fished in one his pockets for a plain wood pipe and an old leather pouch of pipeweed. ‘Though, for my part, I do feel lucky that I’m where I am and not back on the family farm. I make my own way, on my own time. Suits me so far.’

He offered the pouch to Tollers. ‘Care for a pipeful? Longbottom Leaf, from a fellow’s farm in the Southfarthing. He didn’t bother to add he had appropriated it from the farmer’s drying shed, bypassing the actual purchase of it.

‘Say, about that fishing you mentioned. Sounds like a good thing to do on a day like this.’ He leaned forward, toward the Hobbit. ‘You got chores to do? Maybe I could lend a hand and get ‘em done faster.’ He puffed on his pipe, thinking. ‘A mess of fish, all fried up nice and crispy, would sure make a fine supper, don’t you think? Bet we could find us a little patch of mushrooms, too.’

Jack took the last swig of ale and sat the empty mug back on the table. He nodded his head thoughtfully as he considered his little plan. ‘Fishing’s more fun when you’re out with a buddy. Up to you, though.’

Tevildo 06-06-2006 12:17 PM

To have a buddy and go fishing on a gorgeous, sunny day..... Tollman's eyes gleemed with excitement as he puffed on his pipe and reflected on the prospect of slipping away to venture down to his beloved river. Still, the Innkeeper had been very clear that this was expected to be a heavy day with many travellers inquiring after rooms at the Inn. He couldn't just slip off in the morning and not show up to help with the serving at lunchtime. He would get himself in a pack of trouble.

Tollman was about to give his new companion a reluctant "no", when suddenly an enticing image flashed inside his head. It was a picture of a very large, fat fish. Tollman was standing on the small dock that stood behind the Inn's courtyard and was holding up that enormous fish, showing it off to the other hobbit lads and lasses, who grinned back at him admiringly.

That picture was not so entirely far fetched. Yesterday evening, the hobbit had been down by the great oak, not far from the Inn itself, just at the point where the river makes a bend, and he'd spied a gargantuan creature swimming about in the water. It was the largest fish that Tollman had ever witnessed, and it looked so incredibly enticing. If he was to bring back such a monstor brute for Cook to use in the kitchen, surely all would be forgiven.

"Well, Master Jack, this morning is a bit tight for me. I've promised to drag some tables and chairs into the Inn from the storage shed. After that, I have to help serve lunch. But the afternoon is another thing. It gets a little slow and sleepy in these parts after we clean up the dining room. I can usually manage to get away then, and no one will be the wiser, if you know what I mean. If you wait till then, I can get you more than a frypan of fish. I'll lead you over to a spot on the river where there's a monstor fish lurking in the shadows. He would feed an awful lot of hungry hobbits. If we can hook and net 'em, I imagine Innkeeper and Cook might be so grateful you'd earn yourself a free bed for at least a night or two."

"Anyways," Tollman added with a grin, "it's better to go after lunch because I can slip out two nice packet's full of Cela's excellent food and bring them along with us."

Folwren 06-06-2006 12:37 PM

Dick came back out of the kitchen smiling a little. He looked up at the hobbit standing at the bar and his smile widened, though inside his head, he scolded himself for having to have made him wait.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t know you were here. What can I do you for you, sir?”

Madoc Sandybanks assured him it was no great trouble and told him what he wanted. Dick nodded and picked up a mug from beneath the bar. He turned briefly away to fill it.

“Well, here’s your ale, sir,” Dick said, putting the foaming mug onto the bar, “and the tea will be right out. Do you want any of those to have milk or sugar in them? You have two young ones perhaps that would like it?” His eyes twinkled as he gave him a knowing smile. His quick eye had caught the two young hobbits already - one sitting at the table with a young mother, and the other standing by old Griffo’s chair, looking deeply interested in the chess game the old gaffer played with himself.

Forest Elf 06-06-2006 02:22 PM

Gable was walking down the road, wearing boys clothes and her arrows and short bow strung over her shoulder. Gable held a lead rope to an injured pony. Her hair, that had been neatly braided before sun up, was a mess, twigs were caught in it and stray strands of hair blowing in the wind, a blob of bloody mud showed on her cheek, when the pony had reared.

Gable felt proud, her heart soaring and yet she needed to get to the stables and find Will, to get the pony nursed back to health. She moved as fast as she could along the road, with a limping pony.

She could finnally see the stables, she moved along with the pony a little faster and when she saw Will standing there with Marrigold, Gable cried out, "Will! I have a pony that needs looking after, can you take a look at her?" indicating the pony's right bloody front leg and her bloody side.

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