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Many Happy Returns  by Grey Wonderer

The Springle-ring is a hobbit dance that is mentioned at Bilbo’s birthday party in Fellowship Of the Ring. I have no idea how you really would go about doing this dance so forgive me for inventing a few steps for it. I am not a dancer and so you will have to use your imagination as you read this. Thanks for your patience and I hope you enjoy the dance!
G.W. 7-4-04

The Springle-ring was a very pretty hobbit dance and it could be quite complicated depending on how advanced the dancer and his partner were. It was an excellent mixer dance because almost every hobbit in the Shire, from the very young to the very old could do some form of it. It was also a good way for hobbits to met new dance partners, because at certain points in the dance, if the couple so chose, they could trade off partners. This was also a great way to learn new steps and variations because you were afforded the chance to dance with someone new.

Not all couples traded off during the dance. Some long-time partners or young hobbits who were hopelessly in love simple waved away offers to exchange partners. It was considered rude to force a trade on unwilling couples. As with most things, hobbits had very set rules of etiquette for their dances.

The Springle-ring could be done with little bells in your hand if you wanted to keep time to the music and couples using this method seldom made contact with one another but rather danced around each other. Children loved this variation as it allowed them to dance and make noise, but they didn’t have to hold hands with a lad or lass. Also by using the bells, two lads or two lasses could do the dance together. As this was a large gathering of hobbits of various ages, bells were passed around for the small children that wanted them. Once the dance was over the bells were supposed to be returned to a box on the band stand for future use, but many of the children would hang onto their bells and all of the rest of the evening tinkling noises would be heard as children ran and played with the bells still in their hands or pockets.

Estella and Pippin stood still amid the other couples on the dance floor and glared at one another while they waited for the bells to be distributed. Pippin wondered, and not for the first time, why Merry had chosen such a disagreeable lass to get serious about.

Estella Bolger was very pretty. She had lovely blue eyes that were somewhere between the color of Frodo’s deep blue ones and Merry’s blue-grey ones. Her hair was a soft brown color and fell in little waves to her shoulders. She had a nice smile which Pippin rarely received, but had seen given to others. She was always very stylishly turned out and she was quite graceful. The trouble with Estella was, well, the trouble with Estella was that she, well, what was the trouble with Estella?

“Now, Peregrin Took, don’t step on my feet once we begin this and don’t trade partners unless I indicate that I am willing to do so,” Estella instructed. That was one of the troubles right there. Estella was bossy. How did Merry tolerate this sort of thing, and from a lass?

“Anything else?” Pippin asked with a sigh.

“No, that should do,” Estella said. Pippin was such a trial! How could Frodo Baggins possible think that any lass might enjoy spending time with him? Oh, he was attractive enough. He had amazing green eyes with small flecks of gold running through them and his hair was a wonderful shade of auburn with lighter highlights trailing through it. The extra height, while Pippin didn’t yet seem to know what to do with it, made him look more mature and was, Estella thought, a definite improvement, The lad also had a wicked laugh that made others want to join in, though Estella seldom could coax so much as a smile out of him. The trouble with Peregrin Took was, well, the trouble was that he, he was just, well he was just Pippin.

“We aren’t going to make a habit of dancing together, are we? Because I’m not terrible good and bowing and scraping,” Pippin said, disgustedly. The trouble with Peregrin Took was he was a smart aleck and a wise acre. The sooner this was over the better. How could Merry stand him?

Before Estella could select an appropriate reply, the music began and Pippin slipped an arm around her waist and began leading her in small, rather rapid circles. Oh, so this was how it was going to be, was it? So you think you can wind me around and I’ll loose my footing do you? Well, think again! Determined to show her partner up, Estella increased their speed and added a few intricate steps designed to cause, the slightly awkward Took to trip up. This was starting to get interesting.
Pippin countered with twirling her in a circle and dipping her backward so that her hair nearly touched the floor. He then, while grinning at her wickedly, righted her, lifted her off of her feet, and spun her again. As soon as Estella’s feet hit the floor, she retaliated by enter-twining her arms in a fashion that put Pippin’s arms about her waist from behind and forced him to follow her lead.

Across the floor and working his partner over in their direction, Frodo was unaware that all-out war had broken out. Diamond Took was even lovelier up close than she had been when Pippin had begun to point her out across the room. She had several white ribbons running through her dark hair which was the same shade as Frodo’s was. This was not a very common color for hobbits and so, dancing together as they were, Frodo and Diamond looked a bit like brother and sister from a distance.

Diamond had the Took accent though it was not as strong as Pippin’s was. The North-Tooks had a softer brogue. She had eyes that were nearly as dark as her hair and a tiny up-turned nose. Frodo could see, instantly, why Pippin had been so smitten with merely a glance. This was a lovely lass.

He had been worried about whether or not she would accept his invitation to dance. He’d found that some lasses shied away from him since he’d returned to the Shire. He’d seen some glance nervously at his hand, focus on the missing finger, and then politely decline. Diamond Took was not of that timid sort apparently. She had smiled, taken the hand he’d offered to her and allowed him to lead her onto the dance floor. The plan was coming together quite well. Estella was dancing with Pippin and he was dancing with Diamond. Now, all that remained was the trade. He would lead his partner over in the direction of Pip and Estella and they would switch, then Pippin would have his dance with Diamond. After that, it would be up to Pippin to secure further dances and to charm this striking young Took.

As Frodo danced her across the floor, they talked a bit as they were un-un-accustom to dancing together and so were doing a very basic form of the Springle-ring. It made conversation easy. “So, are you visiting the Great Smails for a while or is this merely a short visit?” Frodo began.

“Oh, my family has been wanting to reacquaint ourselves with our cousins here and so we’ve planned a rather long visit,” Diamond said. “The Great Smails are so large and so full of Tooks that I fear we shall miss out on meeting some of them.”

“The smails can be a bit daunting,” Frodo agreed. “So, do you know the guest of honor this evening?” Frodo knew that she didn’t but thought to see what her reply might be. He wondered if she were angry about the incident with the water and apples earlier.

“Oh, you mean Peregrin Took?  No, I’ve not met him,” Diamond said, with no trace of a hint as to her feelings in her voice. “Oh, look. There seems to be some sort of a circle forming over there.”

Frodo followed her gaze and noticed that more than a few hobbits had stopped dancing and were ringing an area of the floor. “Someone must be putting on quite a show over there,” Frodo speculated.

“So it would seem,” Diamond said. “Should we have a look?”

This was not according to plan, but Estella and Pippin would be on the other side of whatever was happening and so Frodo had little choice at this point. It would be a bit to obvious if he were to dance her completely around this crowd and hand her off to Pippin. He hadn’t counted on this. Estella would be furious, but there was no help for it. He and Diamond made their way over to the circle of hobbits and found an opening. They stepped up and joined the other watchers who were clapping their hands and enjoying the show.

“There’s the guest of honor now,” Diamond said, when they could see the action. Frodo’s mouth fell open for a split second, but he quickly recovered. Estella couldn’t blame him for this. “He seems to be quite the dancer as is his partner,” Diamond observed. “Are they betrothed?”

Frodo coughed, nearly breaking into a laugh at the idea of Pippin and Estella together for life. “No, they are just long-time acquaintances,” Frodo said, avoiding the word friends. He watched amazed, as Pippin lifted Estella nearly over his head and spun her about expertly. The minute Estella’s feet touched the floor, she pulled Pippin into a two-handed spin. Their eyes were locked on one-another. Frodo recognized that look on Pippin’s face. There was a challenge in progress and his plan with Estella was ‘fair flung out the window’ as Sam might say.

A battle was taking place though the spectators encircling the dancers had no idea what they were watching. Long-time dance partners often put on displays like this at parties or gatherings. Hobbits enjoyed good dancing and they loved to watch a couple out-do themselves. It was no surprise that everyone had stopped to watch. Estella and Pippin were very good and both were trying every dance move that they knew. Only Frodo and Nell Took who was across the way and had caught Frodo’s eye, knew that this was a challenge. Pippin and Estella were each trying mightily to trip the other up.

There were three possibilities now. The music would end with both of them standing. This was the most unlikely because since the band stand was raised, the musicians would see the dancing and continue to play as long as the couple danced. Estella would fall or Pippin would fall. Frodo’s money was on Pippin being the one to fall. All of that new height had turned Pippin a bit clumsy of late. That and the fact that this was not Pippin’s night to this point, tended to sway Frodo in that direction.

“They are wonderful,” Diamond said, impressed. “Look how fast they spinning.”

At least Pippin was impressing her with his talent as a dance partner. He should have known better than to meddle in this. Nothing where Pip was concerned, ever turned out as planned. Also, he should have known better than to put Pippin and Estella together. Merry had warned him. “They are remarkable,” Frodo agreed, not wishing to be rude. He could barely take his eyes from them. Across the way, Nell Took was grinning and shaking her head. She knew trouble was coming.

Frodo watched as Pippin, while holding Estella’s dress against her legs, flipped her completely over and then sat her on her feet, smiling wickedly at her. He’s trying to make her dizzy, Frodo thought. Estella smiled back at him tightly and proceeded to began dancing him backwards. This would most certainly go in her favor. Pippin was starting to look a bit off balance now. Suddenly, as if realizing his danger, Pippin very deftly, turned them about and now Estella was backing up. Everyone was clapping and laughing.


Merry shifted on the bed and snickered. “Do I want to know how this came out?”

Frodo smiled. “How do you think it came out, cousin?”

“Well, I’m guessing here, as I wasn’t present at the time. I do regret that,” Merry said. “I suspect that she finally managed to trip you, didn’t she Pip?”

“Why Merry Brandybuck, have you no faith in your cousin?” Pippin asked, trying to look affronted. “Do ye not think that years of dancing with my sisters had any affect on me a’tall?” Pippin’s brogue was in over-kill at the moment and Merry and Frodo laughed. “What happened was...”

Now, Pippin and Estella were spinning one-another in small, tight circles as they moved around the large circle that had formed around them. Their eyes were still locked on one-another and they continued to build speed as they went. Several of the wiser spectators, sensing disaster, had backed up a bit. Diamond was fascinated. She leaned in closer at Frodo’s side and continued to clap along with the music. Across the way, Nell Took rolled her eyes skyward and grinned over at Frodo. Every eye in the room was on Pippin and Estella Bolger.

“That sister of Fatty’s is quite the dancer,” Frodo heard someone say.

“And that Pippin Took is right good as well, “ another announced.

“They must have practiced this for ever so long,” Diamond said, admiringly.

It was the last thing that Frodo heard before he was hit by the twirling couple and knocked to the floor. He smacked his head enough to stun himself a bit, but was in no danger of passing out. Laying on top of him was Pippin and on top of Pippin, was Estella. The crowd was laughing and clapping. Frodo moaned and tried to free an arm to rub his head. Above him he heard Pippin’s voice. “Why Estella, I’d no idea that you liked me this much.” Frodo shut his eyes and moaned.

“Let me up, Peregrin Took or I’ll wring the life out of you with my bear hands,” Estella growled. Pippin’s arms were still encircling her waist and holding her to him. She pushed at his chest and attempted to stand.

Pippin was laughing that wicked laugh of his as a couple of hobbits, one of them, Nell, helped Estella to her feet. Now, only Pippin was smashing Frodo to the floor. It was a slight improvement, but Frodo still felt that he might faint from lack of air. “I hope you’re enjoying yourself,” Estella seethed as Nell righted her.

“I must admit, you’re a fair dancer Estella,” Pippin laughed.

“Are you all right?” Diamond asked, leaning over Pippin and looking down at the giggling Took.

Pippin’s laughter stopped cold as if cut by a knife and he stammered, “I-I-I-I think so.”

“Then will you please get off of me, Peregrin?” Frodo demanded. Enough was enough.

“What?” Pippin said, confused, his eyes still on Diamond. Was that Frodo’s voice? If so, where was he?

“Pippin,” Frodo growled, pushing at his cousin’s back with his hands.

Above Pippin, Diamond held out her hand and for the second time that evening, he was helped to his feet.  This time, the hand had all of it's fingers and was connected to the loveliest lass he'd ever set eyes on.

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