But a Day From Home – Part Four

But a Day from Home – Part 4

Perhaps the most irritating thing was that gathering firewood had not hastened the acquisition of breakfast–in fact, if Brassica was realistic about her current situation, the possibility of breakfast seemed to have vanished almost entirely. Still, she had to admit that she had been glad of an empty stomach for her very first excursion on the water. It was almost impossible for her to imagine a boat ride that could have been worse than the one she’d just suffered through. In fact, Brassica was almost certain that any boat ride she took after this would be a great improvement, even accounting for the rocking and the splashing and the wet. Wholly aside from being kidnapped by ruffians, knocked about and then tossed in a sack, Brassica had been especially distressed by the dampness of the boat, having been of the impression that the whole point of a boat was to keep its insides dry.

Even if had meant being up-ended in a heap upon disembarking from the boat, to be presented to the rest of the scruffy men, Brassica was glad to be free of the sack, and out of the boat. Her head hurt, her limbs were bruised, and her stomach rumbled, and her pleasant morning had completely evaporated. But while there was a definite sob of fear that fought to get free of the back of her throat and tears that prickled her eyes, Tookishness had almost entirely taken over. The terrified hobbit inside her had been bundled up and sat on and instead, Brassica was as mad as any hobbit could be. She glared and growled and was stubbornly silent when questions were put to her, even when threats were shouted in her face. But eventually the scruffy men gave up, and she was hauled to the side of a campfire, and a manacle attached to a chain attached to a boulder thrice her size was clamped on her ankle. Brassica worried at it briefly, before giving up, and then finally decided she could permit just a bit of self-pity.

Her father would have called the whole situation a fine, proper mess–or he would have, if he could even imagine where she’d found herself. The thought of her family pushed the sob from her throat and the tears from her eyes, and freed the terrified hobbit that she was. Only a day away! Her parents probably didn’t even know she was gone yet; she’d left it to Dill to deal with giving them that news. He wouldn’t be able to explain, and he’d tried to stop her, but she wouldn’t be stopped. She winced to think of the hiding he was going to get from Da, who wouldn’t know to do with the news or even the notion that Brassica had left. For all her antics, Brassica had never run away before. It was a tremendously uncharacteristic act for a hobbit to leave the comfort of home and hearth, no matter how mad your parents made you. To leave the Shire entirely…her family would be bewildered. Da wouldn’t understand, and for all his ranting and raving and blustering, he’d think it was his fault for trying to send her to Uncle Hob’s for the summer. And her poor Ma, wringing her hands and weeping; still needing to worry about how much ale there was on tap for the evening, and when the bedding needed changing, whether there were quite enough of the autumn apples left in the cellar to make pies, and never mind that her daughter was missing.

And Dill probably hadn’t even told them yet.

For the first time since she’d crept away from the breakfast feast, Brassica found herself with a moment to realize just what it was she’d done. Her head had been full to brimming with the sheer newness of it all, all the wonder and strangeness. The little Tookish voice had almost drowned out her sensible Colewort side, but now it had fallen silent, and all the worries and fears were ringing in her mind like bells. This was the worst thing that could have happened, and Brassica buried her face in her hands and sobbed.

But not for very long.

Where am I, anyway?

Brassica sniffled loudly, and rubbed at her eyes. There were questions starting to rise up out of the misery. With a deep breath and a heavy sigh, Brassica shifted, and started to look around the island where she found herself.

It was hard to see, from where she sat, just how big the island she was on was–or whether it was in fact even an island. She could see the wood of the other shore across the water in the distance, much nearer, but still impossibly far for a hobbit. Brassica wondered if Beldrieth and Llythne were somewhere in the forest. There was another white stone building to the north, though it was not nearly the size of the one at Tinnudir, clearly the same hands had made it. It stood tall and proud, but even from where she sat, Brassica could see that it had fallen into greater ruin than the larger building. In fact, the boulder she thought she had been chained to was not a boulder at all, but a chunk of rubble to the leeward side of the campfire. Sloping down the hill away from her, a river ran, cutting the island in half and passing through the white stone ruin. It was a queer place.

As for her captors, very few of them were in evidence. The ruin was perhaps a few hundred feet distant, and Brassica could hear coarse voices, and see boats with crates in them passing up the river, but the only one of the brigands nearby was a woman in rough leather, with a crossbow slung on her back. She glanced cursorily at Brassica from time to time, but seemed more interested in watching the little river, and the boats that were moored along its banks.

What do they want? What did I do, why did they take me, and who are they anyway? They’re not Rangers, because Llythne told me about Rangers, and Rangers aren’t at all like this. These are awful, bad, wicked men. But they were at the Ranger camp…well, not really, they were in the woods. But it’s the Rangers’ camp, they ought to have known. Why didn’t they warn me?

But perhaps they had warned Celebarad, and perhaps he had tried to warn her in turn–but that was foolish, she didn’t have more than a few words of Elvish, and surely the Rangers had known that. Anyway, he didn’t act like he thought there was any danger…not that I think he would, the silly fool. Oh, that was unkind, he’s not a fool. I don’t know anything about elves, but I know that he did swear that he’d keep me safe. I expect he feels just awful right now.

Even if he was silly, Brassica couldn’t help but feel comforted by the thought of the elf, far away across the lake though he was. He would have noticed her gone almost immediately, she was certain. Squinting up at the sun, Brassica decided that it had been probably been near two hours since they had crossed the lake. Celebarad was sure to have returned to the camp, and the Rangers. If even half of what Llythne had told her about them was true–they were men of honour, and sworn to serve those who came to them for aid. Well, she couldn’t come to them directly, but there was surely an elf campaigning for their assistance very fervently on her behalf.

Some of the fear that had tightened in her stomach loosened at that point, so Brassica took a deep breath and thought about her situation again. It wasn’t the worst thing that could possibly have happened. She wasn’t really hurt–no worse than she’d ever hurt herself from a tumble off a pony, or a slide down the bluffs of the Brandywine, and she wasn’t at the bottom of the lake. The men of the island, though they’d shouted and threatened her, and demanded to know what the Rangers were planning–as though she’d known–had seemed reluctant to actually harm her any further, muttering about some higher authority. And now? Now she was just left on her own, in the soft dirt, even in the shade of the chunk of rubble she was chained to. Taking the bumps and bruises aside, she was quite comfortable, and certain in the knowledge that rescue was forthcoming. At this point, really, it was just a matter of waiting. And, if she thought about it, compared to the actual doing that had been part of her adventure so far, she’d been waiting her whole life.

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  1. Okeg of Dwarrowdelf

     /  February 10, 2012

    Please keep going, I’m enjoying the series so far 🙂

  1. But a Day From Home – Notes « The Hobbits in the Stories

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