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B2MeM Challenge: This prompt bylindahoyland: Are the Rangers ever seen in the Shire? If so what do the Hobbits make of them? Do the Rangers ever openly help the Hobbits or have the Hobbits ever helped a sick or injured Ranger?
Myrtle had prepared the various medicines as her Mistress had requested. She had also checked the supplies of bandages and clean linens, which were stored in a cedar lined room next to the stillroom. They'd no bedsheets nor blankets large enough for one of the Big Folk. She knew that Mistress Beryl had doubled them up in making the transport for the Man, but it would not do for any length of time. If he moved around very much, he would soon have some places bunched up and some that had no covers at all. While she was waiting for her Mistress, she took two of the largest sheets and her sewing kit; she lined up the edges of the sheets, pinned them, and began to stitch them together. Sitting in the stillroom with the door open so she could see any activity in the corridor, she used a sturdy backstitch with doubled thread to keep the sheets from separating, but made the stitches large enough to be easily picked out once their patient was gone.
She was nearly halfway through when she heard them coming. Mistress Beryl was directing the hobbits who were pushing the "bed" along. The infirmary was right across from the stillroom, and her mistress glanced in her direction with a nod and a quick smile, to show she approved of what Myrtle was doing.
"Mistress Beryl?" Rook said. "I don't think we can turn this to get it into the infirmary." The passageway was too narrow and the table was too long to maneuver it into the small round door.
Myrtle put down her sewing, and went to look out the door, and shook her head. What could they do now?
But there was scarcely a moments hesitation before Mr. Jago spoke up. "The parlour at the end--" he pointed to the end of the hallway: the doorway there was extra wide and no turns were necessary. They could push the make-shift bed straight in. The room was known as the "summer parlor"; surrounded by four guest bedrooms, it had doors to a veranda outside instead of windows and so was cooler in the summertime, and was quite bright, as it had a skylight in the ceiling. There were no guests currently staying in the guest rooms, making the summer parlor the perfect location for Mistress Beryl's patient.
Mr. Jago opened the door wide, and then stepped inside to push aside a couple of armchairs and a small table, and then returned to help push the table on into the room.
Myrtle had followed with a tray upon which she had placed the tea her Mistress had ordered, and the salve, a kettle of hot water, and a roll of clean bandages. Diamante saw her, and cleared one of the side tables so that Myrtle could put the tray down. Both apprentices went to stand by the healer's side.
Mistress Beryl thanked her helpers. "You have done a good job getting him here, lads, but now you have other things to do. Go along with you, with my thanks. The "lads" all bobbed their heads at her and left the room. Jago remained.
"Please keep me informed, Beryl. Do you think he will be all right?"
"I need to examine him more thoroughly, but if his wound is not badly infected, he should be all right in the long run. He has a long recovery ahead of him, though."
Jago nodded. "Well, little sister, I have to write a letter to the Thain. Let us hope that he won't dismiss it all as moonshine."
Beryl patted her brother's shoulder. "Ferumbras is a sensible sort. I am sure he will pay attention to what you say."
"I'm sure you are right, Beryl." Jago left the room, closing the door behind him.
Jago found Gabby waiting in his study and gave him a nod. His cousin was sitting in a chair in front of the desk, upon which he had laid out all that was necessary for the writing of a letter. Jago sat down behind it in his own chair and picked up his quill and began to write.
9 Forelithe, S.R. 1147
Dear Thain Ferumbras:
I send you this urgent message! Today, a well-respected hobbit of the Northfarthing, a Mr. Greenhand, who lives near Greenfields, came to Northcleft accompanied by one of the Big Folk, a Man, who was seriously injured and ill. He had come to the Shire in spite of his injury, to warn us of danger.
It seems that there is a group of goblins, at least one hundred strong, marching on the Shire and intending to invade us. I know that this sounds like a wild tale. However, I have no doubt that the Man, whose name is Hirluin son of Dirluin, and has described himself as a Ranger, is telling the truth.
I urge you to call up the Shire muster, and send them with all haste to the Northfarthing. In the meantime, I shall be calling up any able-bodied hobbits I can here in Long Cleeve. We will be ready when you arrive. I shall also issue warnings to the villages to evacuate or hide.
Please hurry! By the time you get this warning, the goblins may very well be at our bounds!
Jago Longhole, Esq.
He put the letter to one side, and drew up another piece of parchment. This would be a letter of authorization for the Quick Post rider. Showing it would enable the rider to get food and refreshment and fresh ponies along the way. The Thain would reimburse the innkeepers and hostlers if he agreed this was an emergency for all the Shire. Otherwise, Jago himself would have to eat the cost. He hoped that Ferumbras would agree with his belief that this was a real threat.
Gabby cleared his throat. "The Quick Post rider should be along anytime now. I told them to send their fastest rider straight along to your study."
Jago looked up briefly. "Ed?"
Gabby nodded. "Very likely. I did ask for their fastest rider, and I am afraid my son suits that bill." In spite of the words, there was an undercurrent of pride in his voice. Gabby's son Edro had found an outlet for a restless spirit in his job as a posthobbit, and he was indeed the fastest Quick Post rider in the whole of the Northfarthing. Ed's recklessness and mischief was no longer an issue as the lad found his job exciting enough to keep him out of trouble.
There was a tap on the door, and Jago called "Come in!" It opened and the very one they had been speaking of came in.
He greeted them with a cheeky grin. "Uncle Jago, Da. Mr. Dingle said you need a Quick Post rider for Tuckborough. The lad who came for me said it's urgent and has to do with Big People, though I thought perhaps he was pulling my foot hair."
"Come sit down, Ed. He was not jesting. We have under this very roof a Man who came to warn us of an invasion of goblins. As wild and strange as his story is, I have no doubt he's being truthful. You will have the letter, but I do want you to do your best to convince the Thain that this is serious, and that every minute counts. Let him know the goblins are supposed to come in through the Northern bounds near Greenfields, and that I am already doing what I can to prepare our people. But we must have help to hold them back from the rest of the Shire!"
Ed stared at his uncle and father in astonishment. "Seriously?"
Both of them nodded solemnly. Jago passed over a large letter, folded thrice and sealed closed. "This is for the Thain." He slid over the second one. It was only folded once, and the seal was on the inside beneath the message. "This is your authorization. Use it as you have need to get fresh ponies, food and water. But do not stop nor stay more than you must, for the sooner the message sets out, the sooner the Thain can call up the Muster."
Gabby looked his son in the eye. "Don't kill yourself getting there, son."
"I won't, da." He stood up and took up the letters. "Shall I pass the word as I go?"
"Only to those who will believe you, Edro," Jago replied. "But it will help the villages to be ready when the Thain passes through."
"I won't give out details nor mention goblins. I'll just tell them that you have reason to believe enemies are going to cross the bounds and that you are asking the Thain to call up the Muster."
"That's very sensible, lad. Good thinking, and good journey."
"Yes, sir." He turned and left the room, his shoulders squared, and lacking the usual spring in his step. Jago knew that he had given his young cousin a big responsibility.
As soon as Jago had left, Mistress Beryl turned at once to her patient. With her apprentices' help she divested him of his shirt. While he had seemed weak and passive as they moved him, he had never been completely unconscious; he had muttered some in a language that none of the hobbits had understood, and had turned his head to follow the voices of those attending him. But as Myrtle and Diamanté lifted him so that Mistress Beryl could take off his shirt and bandages, he gasped, and hissed an oath.
Mistress Beryl shook her head at the sight of the wound; without stitches, it had not knitted together properly. Although the entire cut was not septic, there were areas where it was inflamed and infected, which could spread if not dealt with right away. She shuddered at the jaggedness of the injury, which indicated to her how savage a blow it had been. It was far too late for stitches to the original injury, but she would need to cut away the infected areas. She briefly thought of the old method her own old mistress had taught her, using maggots--but she did not think the wound was so far gone as to call for that.
"Mytle, we need tea: valerian, hops, chamomile, birch bark. I also want the poppy, prepared with cherry, and the wintergreen salve. We are going to have to debride the infected areas. Diamond, see to boiling my instruments and setting out the clean bandages." She turned to examining the rest of her patient. There were old bruises here and there, some small cuts that would need attention, and he was definitely dehydrated and malnourished. She'd need to feed him plenty of strong beef broth and red wine a lot of clean fresh water...
Edro went to the stables. For this stage of the ride, he wanted his own pony. Arrow was nearly as swift as his name, and he also did not shy at riding in the dark. He was also hardy. With Arrow he might even make it as far as Needlehole before having to change his mount. He knew the innkeeper there usually had several ponies to choose from him, and that old Tib would take good care of Arrow until he could fetch him back.
He stopped and blinked twice on entering the stable to see, of all things, a full-sized horse! Young Matto was standing on a milking stool grooming the beautiful animal.
"Is that the Man's horse?" he asked the groom.
Matto nodded. "His name is Belan. Isn't he something, Mr. Edro?"
"Indeed he is! I wish I was not in a hurry, else I'd help you with that fine fellow! But I'm taking Arrow off on an urgent message." He turned aside to his own pony's stall and led him out to be saddled.
"That'd be to the Thain," Matto said knowingly. "That there Ranger, he said goblins was a-coming! I thought maybe 'twas nought but a fever-dream, but seeing as Mr. Jago took it serious-like, it must be true. I'll be ready for the muster when it comes!"
Ed had been busy quickly saddling his pony as he listened to the groom. "Good for you! Well, I'm off!" He tightened the girth one last time and swung himself up.
"Good luck and safe journey to you, Mr. Edro!"
Ed said "Thanks!" as Arrow shot out of the stable.
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