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B2MeM Prompt and Path: The Purple Path, prompts Full Moon and Bronte quote. [Squares one and two]
Once, during the time before Roverandom had been reunited with Little Boy Two and his family, he had been taken away by Mews the Seagull to the Moon and many an adventure he had there, too! He met the Man-in-the-Moon and his little dog who was also called Rover (and that was how Roverandom got his name, as of course there could not be two little dogs with the name in the same place. It might have confused the Man-in-the-Moon. Or perhaps not, as he was very wise), so enchanted Rover became Roverandom, and the moon dog became known as Moon-Rover.
The Moon was a marvelous place, all white and black and shades of grey, and filled with things Roverandom had never encountered before. The Man-in-the-Moon gave both Roverandom and Moon-Rover wings, and sent them off from his high white tower on the white side of the Moon to go play. When the two little dogs became hungry they would fly back to the window kept open for them, and there would find bowls of delicious food and clean water. Sometimes the Man-in-the-Moon was there, sometimes he was not.
Once they came back to the tower and discovered that Mews the Seagull (who carried all the post from the various Earths to the Moon) was there, having just brought the post. The Man-in-the-Moon was sitting at a table set for tea, and had just opened a letter.
"My dear Tilion." he read. "That's one of the names I am called, especially by my oldest friends," he said before continuing. "It has been a good long while since I have seen you. I've been watching you wax and wane for many a year from down here, and thought perhaps it might be nice to get together for a good long talk to catch up on the news. Things here are changeable and hectic, and of course, I've found myself tasked with meddling in affairs that have not before been any of my business."
The Man-in-the-Moon chuckled. "He just says that. He's always liked to meddle, so that's probably why he was given the job in the first place." He poured himself a steaming cup of tea, and cut himself some bread and cheese that was set on the table before him. (He also cut two little chunks of cheese for the two dogs, who each caught one mid-air.) "I wonder, old friend, if you would not care to join me for an evening. I am currently journeying in a charming little land called Bree, and staying in an inn called The Prancing Pony. It's well known for the fineness of the food and the brownness of its beer. I shall be staying here for three nights running if you care to join me for supper while I am here.
If you should come, be sure to ask for me by the name of 'Gandalf' as I am known in these parts. I seem to have picked up any number of strange names as I wander around among the mortals who dwell here.
"Well, well," said the Man-in-the-Moon. "As folks say 'There's another country heard from'. I haven't seen him in ages, and I've been cooped up in my Tower until I am ready for a short change. I think I shall take him up on his invitation." He looked down at the two little dogs sitting at his feet, and said "You fellows can get on without me for a while, can't you?"
"Of course I can," boasted Moon Rover. "I can take care of everything while you are gone!" He jumped up and put his paws on the Man-in-the-Moon's knee and gave a confident bark.
Roverandom was not quite so bold. He was still wary of wizards after old Artaxerxes had put the spell on him that had turned him into a tiny toy dog. But he nodded his agreement. "We will get on just as well as we can," he said. "But we will miss you!"
The Man-in-the-Moon laughed. "Of course you will!" He patted them both on top of the head, and then said, "Well, then, I must get ready and be off!"
Roverandom and Moon-Rover trotted about behind him as he called for his coachman, a lanky thin fellow who never seemed to have a word to say, to hitch up the four beautiful white horses to his great round coach. As the coach took off into the sky to follow the moonpath down to the green and blue world below, the two little dogs flew around it, barking a cheerful farewell. Then as the coach became too tiny to see, the two of them flew off to play in the fields and woods of the white side, among the musical flowers and silvery grasses and the tall black-trunked trees.
Time passed, and Roverandom reckoned that on the world below a whole night and another day had passed. He and Moon-Dog flew high in hopes of seeing the Man-in-the-Moon return. Sure enough, just as the birds of the woods were settling in to roost, they could see the dot of the coach growing larger.
Off they flew to the tower, and arrived at very nearly the same time the coach did. What a surprise to see a strange old man alight from the coach. The coachman climbed down from his high seat and went to the door of the coach. Then he and the stranger (who looked much like The Man-in-the-Moon, though perhaps shabbier) reached in and pulled out The-Man-in-the-Moon, who was snoring loudly. They each put one of his arms about their necks and began carrying him up to the tower, and then up the many stairs to the rooms at the top.
"What is the matter with my Man?" asked Moon Rover, as he hovered about the stranger.
"Yes!" said Roverandom. "Why won't he wake up? And why does he smell so unpleasantly?"
The silent coachman rolled his eyes, but Olórin chuckled. "It's been many a year since my old friend had the chance to eat and drink his fill, or to make merry the whole night through! He danced and sang, and quaffed brown beer 'til the Sun came up. It was all we could do get him back into his coach. Since it seems to be my fault, I decided to help see him home and nurse his sore head."
And so he did, settling The Man-in-the-Moon into his bed, and giving him a tea to settle his headache and his stomach, and putting a cold cloth across his eyes. Then he tip-toed out. Moon Rover stayed and curled up on the bed beside his master's feet, but Rover followed the other wizard out.
Olórin went into the kitchen and made himself some tea and toast, easily finding where things were; he didn't even need to ask where the toasting fork was, nor the tea caddy.
"Would you please tell me what happened, Sir?" Roverandom asked politely (and so you can see he truly had learned his lesson about being courteous to wizards), for he was always a curious little dog.
The wizard smiled. "It really was my fault, for I had forgotten how long it had been since Tilion spent time in the world below. The Prancing Pony brews very fine brown beer, and its food is quite delicious. When he arrived, we went in to supper, where a fine meat pie, breads, cheeses and pickles, fruits and cakes, were all set before us, for the innkeeper was quite proud to host so famous a guest as The Man-in-the-Moon! There was also a pitcher of beer, and the serving maids had been instructed to keep it filled. We ate and drank, and there was a fine fiddler there. There was also a little dog, a terrier, I believe his name was Brownie. I think you might have liked him, for he was a jolly fellow. A tabby cat also called the tap room home; she prowled across the shelves where the dishes sat and the spoons hung, keeping her eye on everything in the room below.
There was much singing and dancing as the night went on, and my old friend joined in with a will. The jollier he became, the more worried I became, for I was not sure I would be able to get him home! Still, we finally did manage to get him back in the carriage and on the way back here."
"How did you come to know our Man-in-the-Moon?" The little dog was resolved to ask questions so long as this wizard was willing to answer, which shows he might have got along famously with another of the wizard's small acquaintances.
"Once, long ages ago before the Sun and Moon, we both spent some time in the gardens of the Dream Master, Irmo, who was also called Lorien, after those same gardens. He taught us of the ways of dreams, and how to walk their paths, and how to use those dreams to teach, to soothe or to trouble, the peoples of the world. When our time with Irmo was finished, I was sent on to other masters and other tasks. Tilion remained there for a while, and then he too went on to another master, the Huntsman. Later on, he was set to be the steward of this Moon, and from here he guides the nightly dreams of children. Still, we kept in touch in the fashion of wizards, and so I was glad to get this chance to see him. I do think that next time, I will find another place for us to meet than at a tavern!"
Olórin stayed a while longer on the Moon, going with The Man-in-the-Moon to the dark side where the dreamers gathered a few times. But finally he said "This has been a lovely visit, but it is time that I return to my duties on the world below. I hope that someday, I shall see you all again. Good-bye, Tilion! Good-bye, little Moon-Dog, you are of much comfort to your master! And Good-bye to you, curious little Roverandom; one day you shall find what you are looking for!" He clambered into the coach, for The Man-in-the-Moon had lent it to him for the return journey.
They waved at him, and watched him until he became a small speck, and then they turned away.
"I will miss him," said Roverandom. "He was a very kind wizard."
"So will I," said Moon-Rover, "He told very good stories."
B2MeM Prompt and Path: The Purple Path, prompt: Tyranny [Third Square]
The Rise and Fall of a Tyrant
He watched angrily. Toffee was stuck to its hand; it shook its hand and then stuffed it in its mouth slobbering and giggling. Stupid baby! The toffee should be Lotho's!
He stomped over and grabbed the baby's arm to take its candy. "Gimme!" he shouted. To his surprise, the baby yanked its arm free and glared at him. He tried to snatch it again, but the baby flailed its arm and the toffee stuck in Lotho's hair.
"Mommy!" Lotho screeched.
But today his father sent him off. "The lad's working. Find something else to do with yourself."
One day he'd be his own boss; no one would tell him what to do.
But then he paused. The sprat he'd shoved was Merry Brandybuck, the Master of Buckland's grandson! It would make no difference to his mother, but his father would likely object. His father's biggest rule was "Don't make trouble for me."
So...he was hit in the face by a ball! That would work...
Ted chortled. "O' course she did, a rich hobbit like you?"
Frodo just looked down his nose. "I have a matter of business to discuss with you and your mother."
Lobelia came up behind her son. "What sort of business? We don't acknowledge you as the Family Head." Her look was even more sour than that of her son.
"Several years ago, Otho made a standing offer for the purchase of Bag End. I was wondering if that offer still stood?"
Lobelia's eyes widened. "Bag End?"
Lotho schooled his face. "Come in, Frodo, and we can discuss it."
They wandered around Bag End, his mother commenting on the changes she'd have made. She wanted to get rid of the stuff in the wizard's room that fool Bilbo had made. He wasn't so sure. After all, he was by the way of soon doing business with a Man from down South; it would make a nice accommodation for him.
Lotho pursed his lips. "He did, did he?" He couldn't have people mocking him in the inns. People had no right to ridicule him. He was the richest hobbit in the Shire now, what with the pipeweed he'd been sending out of the Shire. People should treat him with respect. It was his due.
Time to send his Big Men out to shut down the inns; if anyone got hurt it wouldn't be his fault.
There was a knock at the door. Sandyman came in, dragging a miserable looking hobbit behind him. "This here's my cousin Marco Muddifoot. Bolger don't know him."
Lotho grinned. "Mr. Muddifoot, you are going to worm your way into Bolger's rebels and lead them into my trap."
"Why would I do that?"
"I'm your mother's new landlord; she wouldn't do well out in the cold."
"Thank you, Mr. Sackville-Baggins. The road has been long and uncomfortable, and travelling conditions are deplorable these days!"
Lotho was glad now that he'd preserved that room for Big Folk. He hoped Mr. White would be comfortable there.
He found it hard to assert himself with the Big Man; when Mr. White spoke it was hard to disagree with him. He always sounded so reasonable until Lotho thought about it later. And now those Men who had been so useful looked to Mr. White and refused to obey Lotho. Sometimes he wondered why they had ever obeyed him.
He'd tried to dissuade her, when she began to object to those sheds in the garden. Granted, they were an eyesore, but it wasn't worth objecting. Not when the Men were so unpredictable. It was too dangerous.
He watched out the window appalled, as they dragged her off. What had he done? Why had he brought these people to the Shire?
Just then the door opened, and Worm entered, but not with food.
The Man came over and lifted a pillow from the bed.
Lotho was too weak to resist as it descended over his face.
B2MeM Prompt and Path: The Purple Path; prompt, quote on insomnia below (Square 4)
“That’s the advantage of insomnia. People who go to bed early always complain the night is too short, but for those of us who stay up all night, it can feel as long as a lifetime. You get a lot done.”
Bilbo padded into the little kitchen of his quarters in the Last Homely House, and made himself a cup of peppermint tea. While he was at it, he picked a out a few sweet biscuits from the crock where they were kept, and put them on a plate. He carried them into his dim sitting room. The only light was the banked fire in the hearth and the starlight peeking through the window above his desk.
When he had begun to feel wakeful in the night, at first he had tried various methods of putting himself to sleep. Counting backwards from a thousand didn't work, it just confused him when he began to lose track. Chamomile tea, once a very effective sleep aid, no longer seemed to help much either. He had consulted Elrond about it.
"Sadly, Bilbo," the Elf had said, "I have learned that this insomnia is very common to mortals who are up in years for their kind. I can give you a sleeping draught, but those can be dangerous if you rely on them for too long."
Since there was no one for him to disturb at night--most of the Elves did not sleep anyway--Bilbo had decided to simply make use of his time. Some nights, he simply stayed in the Hall of Fire all night, like many of the Elves did. But most of the time he would go to bed. There were nights when he even fell asleep and stayed that way. But most nights he would drift off only to waken after an hour or two and could never get back to sleep.
Some nights he lay awake in his bed and reminisced about the Shire, wondering how Frodo was, and whether Bag End was faring well. Other nights he would remember his journeys and his friends. Other nights, like this one, he would arise and put on his shabby dressing gown, get something to eat, and work on a project. He often worked on his poetry, but not always.
Tonight he took his midnight nibbles to the teatable in his sitting room, and lit the lamps. On the table were some of the books he'd borrowed from Elrond's library, his notes on translation and a notebook. He pulled the lantern closer and picked up the silverpoint stylus he used when making notes. He was working on The Lay of Leithien. He had begun his translation shortly after he had observed the Dúnadan with the Evenstar. The parallels were obvious, even to his mortal eyes, and he wished to honor them with this one day.
The problem, of course, was that Westron seemed such a dull and pedestrian language in comparison to the original. Still, he was not going to give up. That insufferable elf Lindir looked down his nose, thinking Bilbo had outrageous cheek to even think of such a task.
He took up his notes and began to compare the words. Perhaps shorter words would scan better here. "Beautiful" was more accurate, but "fair" fit better with the rhythm he had begun to establish...
He began to write, his tea cooling and his last biscuit lay half-eaten on the plate as he scribbled away, scrawling rhymes in the margins of the page as he sought the best words.
By the time Dawn showed it's face through his window, he stretched and yawned. He had needed an adjective, and having rejected "slender", "graceful" and "limber", had wavered between "lithesome" and "lissom", finally settled on the latter. Perhaps it was a good place to stop.
He stood up. Time to get dressed; he could go down to the kitchen and get a first breakfast--the loaves would be fresh out of the oven right now. Indeed. He would have breakfast and then come back to his room for a little nap before second breakfast...
Yes, he'd made a lot of headway. Perhaps the nighttime was the best time to be writing of Elves beneath the stars. It was just as well he couldn't sleep.
Normally I would put this in my "Dreamflower's Musings" anthology, but decided it would be better to remain with the other parts of my 2017 Back to Middle-earth Challenge pieces.
B2MeM Prompt and Path: Purple path; Square 4, Wild Card--"Complete any prompt from the Orange path" (non-fiction). I chose Worldbuilding.
Creator’s Notes (optional): This essay is basically backstory I have constructed for my version of the Shire, concentrating on a few aspects of Shire society, and some explanation for how I came up with that backstory.
Nearly all quoted references in this section are either from the Prologue of LotR, or from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien's Letter #214. I hope to later footnote this more thoroughly.
Summary: Tolkien gives us a lot of information about the society of the Shire, but only some of the particulars. Coming up with details is up to the author of the fanfic; here are a few of mine.
Throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gives us a lot of information about the Shire and its society. In addition, his Letters, particularly Letter #214, and in some of the supplemental material, such as Peoples of Middle-earth we find a lot more clues about how the Shire works. Some things we are told outright, and other things we only understand through hints.
In addition, we also know from Letters and from various biographical material, that a lot of the Shire was inspired by places of his childhood, in particular the parts of rural England where he lived during his formative years. So finding out details of those sorts of places during that time, and perhaps a little earlier, prove useful in figuring out details that Tolkien himself never bothered with, either because they were irrelevant to the story he told, or because he simply had little interest in them.
Then there are the little things that seem odd about the Shire. Nearly all of the societies outside the bounds seem much less advanced in many ways. Hobbits seem to have manufactured objects not found elsewhere, and yet we are told they are an agrarian race which seemingly would not have the wherewithal to create such items as mantel clocks and umbrellas.
And finally, there is the nature of hobbits. Comfort seeking, but able to do without when necessary; family oriented; peace-loving, caring and compassionate; practical; isolationist as a people and suspicious of outsiders; yet also hospitable and gregarious. They are a very contradictory race.
I've tried to factor as many of these things as possible in fleshing out the Shire for the purposes of writing my stories.
In my earliest stories, I found myself feeling my way along as I tried to flesh out the legalities of some things as they might be practiced in the Shire. In this I was mostly guided by the Prologue in FotR, and by Letter #214. I also kept in mind how most of the early "voting" societies were run historically--most of them were not our modern democratic "one person, one vote" communities, but rather were oligarchies in which only certain persons in certain positions could vote. This then was the model I based my Shire politics on.
In the Prologue we are told: The Shire at this time had hardly any 'government'. Families for the most part managed their own affairs. From this declaration comes the foundation of Shire government as I envisioned it.
First of all, from Letter #214, hobbit families were considered a dyarchy, in which , in which master and mistress had equal status, if different functions. Either was held to be the proper representative of the other in the case of absence (including death). There were no 'dowagers'. If the master died first, his place was taken by his wife, and this included (if he had held that position) the titular headship of a large family or clan. This title thus did not descend to the son, or other heir, while she lived, unless she voluntarily resigned. However, in that same letter, we are given the tale of Lalia Clayhanger Took, who held on to the headship of the Took family even after her son became Thain. Lalia was by all accounts a very poor example of a matriarch, to say the least. So, in "my" Shire, I decided that for a few generations after Lalia's time, most widows of adult sons voluntarily passed that honor on because they did not wish to be thought of as "another Lalia". The aftermath of the Occupation of the Shire by Saruman's ruffians changed this back, as there were a lot more widows, and hobbits remembered the way it used to be.
At any rate, hobbits always remained patrilineal (the family name passing down through the male side of the family) and among the Tooks, the Thainship was always passed down to the eldest male. Generally, the head of the Family was the eldest male of the main line of the Family and his wife, or his widow if he were deceased. All matters of discipline were handled by the Family Head, whether great or small, unless he or she found that it was too tangled a matter or if it impinged on the rights or property of another Family. In such a case, the Family Head could request to consult with a neutral party; usually this was the Thain, although along the Brandywine and in Buckland it might be the Master of Buckland, or in some cases, perhaps the Mayor of Michel Delving. In a serious case, it might even be taken to all three. But such things were definitely rarities. Most of the time all such matters were settled by the family and for the family.
The only real official in the Shire at this date was the Mayor of Michel Delving (or of the Shire), who was elected every seven years at the Free Fair on the White Downs at the Lithe, that is at Midsummer. As mayor almost his only duty was to preside at banquets, given on the Shire-holidays, which occurred at frequent intervals. But the offices of Postmaster and First Shirriff were attached to the mayoralty, so that he managed both the Messenger Service and the Watch.
Since Tolkien did not give us the details of how an election was held in the Shire, I decided that in the oligarchy I imagined, there was a Convocation of Family Heads every election year, in which they picked a Mayor. For an issue of great importance to the Shire as a whole, the Thain could call for a special Convocation. This almost never happened.
The Thain was the master of the Shire-moot, and captain of the Shire-muster and the Hobbitry-in-arms, but as muster and moot were only held in times of emergency, which no longer occurred, the Thainship had ceased to be more than a nominal dignity.
I give the Thain a few more duties. He is one of the "go to" people in the case of disputes too complicated or touchy for a Family Head to deal with; he also co-ordinates duties that concern the Shire as a whole, such as the upkeep of the Stonebow Bridge over the Brandywine, or the condition of the roads. He can also call a Convocation when necessary. This is in addition to his duties as The Took and Head of his own Family.
The people in the Marish were friendly with the Bucklanders, and the authority of the Master of the Hall (as the head of the Brandybuck family was called) was still acknowledged by the farmers between Stock and Rushey. By the time of LotR, the Master of Buckland is considered second only to the Thain as an authority in the Shire, though his authority is limited by geography. The status of Buckland is one of convenience. Bucklanders would consider themselves a part of the Shire when it might come to those Outsiders (like Breelanders, or wandering Dwarves or Men), but think of themselves as separate from the Shire when coming to certain traditions or customs. There is clearly a great deal of intermarriage between the Brandybucks and the Tooks, and certain other Great Families.
Yes, I have done a lot of extrapolation and expanded on some things not overtly stated in canon. Tolkien's occasional use of the phrase "great families" has in my version of the Shire become Great Families. Using Peoples of Middle-earth as my guide, I decided that those families who received their own family trees in that book were the most prominent families of the Shire: those at the top are the Tooks, the Brandybucks, the Bolgers, the Boffins and the Bagginses. I added a sixth, the Proudfoot family right after, since they seem to be both prolific and married into the top families. These are the oldest families within the Shire and remain at the top unless an official decision is made to place them lower in the hierarchy. The top of what? The Great Roll of Families, which include those six plus about fifty more families of prominence. The remaining families of the Shire are attached in some way to the more prominent ones, although at some point a vote may place them on the roll.
Post-war, some families that were not prominent became that way--the Gamgees eventually ended up near the top, right after the Brandybucks, and the Cottons also gained a higher position, after the Boffins.
The governance of the Shire did change somewhat after the War of the Ring, which I will cover more thoroughly in another section..
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