Blithe the Days of Summer – Part Four

Blithe the Days of Summer – Part 4

Beldrieth was fetched by Aldish (who was probably the shyest out of the hobbits of Aubergine’s company, and had hemmed and hawed and respectfully doffed his cap a great number of times to the tall, impeccable elfess before managing to convey the message he’d been sent with). Despite her fluency in Westron and kindness and grace towards the small assemblage of hobbits, most of them were struck dumb and tongue-tied by Beldrieth. Brassica found herself wondering why the elfess carried such an air of gravity about her. Perhaps it was simply difficult not to sense her age, and to know how how to comport oneself around someone thousands of years old.

The appearance of Celebarad and Llythne lightened the mood considerably, as Beldrieth gently examined Bungo’s bruising wrist. Llythne was bouncing her dice merrily on her palm, and despite Brassica’s warning, soon she had Hal and Aldish rolling against her for trinkets and a handful of silver coins. Well recovered from any shyness of his own, Celebarad sat in the shady grass and chattered merrily to ‘Bergine, who seemed glad of the distraction now that her brother was in good hands.

Bungo winced as Beldrieth began to measure some small, flat strips of ash wood, which she had stripped and trimmed from the weathered wooden table, against the hobbit’s wrist. Brassica was standing by with a handful of linen strips, and she watched, fascinated, as Beldrieth deftly shaped the wooden splints with a broad, keenly edged elvish knife, notching slits for the linen to pass through, and a hole for Bungo’s thumb. Bungo seemed equally mesmerized, and forgot to flinch when Beldrieth held the splints to his wrist once more. Satisfied, she recovered the broad blade with its sheath, and then reversed it, twisting the handle to free another smaller blade. With this, holding it almost like a quill, she carved a simple series of elvish runes.

“What does it say?” Brassica asked, when Beldrieth held the splint up to examine her handiwork.

Nestad,” the elfess replied. “Healing. It’s a small power, and subtle, but it will help.”

Brassica had never heard of such a thing, and as Beldrieth handed her the wooden splints to thread the linen through, she examined them doubtfully. “It’s just a word, isn’t it? How will it help? What kind of power?”

Beldrieth smiled. “There are some elves who would argue that words are the only things with power. What is the warrior without the rallying cry that calls him? Who are our heroes, if they are not storied in song and graven in words? Beyond these simple phrases of war, there is the deep lore. The true name of a thing holds sway over it, be it air or water or fire. But such names are not much known these days.”

This was a thoroughly esoteric and, Brassica was beginning to suspect, an especially elvish sentiment, and she couldn’t be bothered by it. “Does calling Bungo a muttonhead truly make him a muttonhead, then?” she joked, handing the assembled splint back to Beldrieth, who bound it up around Bungo’s wrist with nimble fingertips. Soon it was snug and secure, and Bungo shyly thanked her.

Now in the company of all her friends, with Bungo mended, Brassica sighed happily and sat down on the grass with Celebarad. There was food–well, of course there was food–a seemingly bottomless basket of various baked rolls and cakes and cookies had been procured, and these were being handed around, and a light strawberry wine had appeared from somewhere.

“Well, you’ve found us a merry party to take our ease with,” Llythne proclaimed, as she relieved Aldish of a nicely carved bone fishhook. It was not quite a one sided competition, for Hal and Aldish were both a good hand with dice, and Llythne had lost a great deal of her silver, a small seven pointed star ornament, and a shard of inscribed pottery that she carried for luck. By this point, nothing that had been put up hadn’t changed hands at least thrice, and it was now mostly a matter of everyone reacquiring the things that had been theirs to begin with. “Awfully sorry for your troubles, Bungo! What led you to take such a spill?”

‘Bergine broke from conversation with Celebarad to glare at her brother and answer Llythne’s question. “He was racing Parsnip,” she snapped. “Bungo, Pa said you were not to race! It’s a silly, frivolous thing!”

“It wasn’t a race,” Bungo answered uncomfortably. “We were only just practicing. I’ve done it before, even, it’s not so hard! Parsnip knows the course, and if Brassica hadn’t been there…”

Brassica felt a twinge of guilt for having been the reason Bungo had landed in such a predicament. She’d only just been curious about the road, she hadn’t known it was a race track. “Well, I’m sorry for my part, Bungo. Still, no harm done…well…no serious harm, I’m sure those Elvish words will patch you up right quick! Perhaps next year? If you were just practicing, when’s the real race? Perhaps it would be all right just to go and watch!”

Bungo flushed beet red and mumbled something. ‘Bergine was the only one who heard him, and she suddenly became quite pale. “Oh, Bungo, you didn’t…” she mourned, wringing her hands.

“What? Didn’t what?”

“I entered the race already,” Bungo admitted, staring at the ground. “But ‘Bergine, come on, there are only three other hobbits entered! And Parsnip and me the only ones from Breeland, all the others are up from Michel Delving! They don’t know this race course! It was a sure thing!”

“It was no such thing, Bungo Took, I can’t even bear to look at you right now!” ‘Bergine shouted, jumping to her feet. Stifling a sob, she whirled on her heel and ran off.

This peculiarly dramatic episode left all the non-hobbits in the group somewhat puzzled, until Hal Brandybuck sighed and shook his head, even as he pocketed Aldish’s fishhook. “Well, Bungo, it’s a fine mess you’ve landed yourself in, and no mistake. Gambling’s nothing a sensible hobbit ought to be doing–begging your pardon, Llythne, dicing for trinkets here and again is harmless, especially if it’s just amongst friends. Ponies are a different matter entirely, and racing ponies especially so! Poor Parsnip’s no kind of racer, Bungo, not really, and nor are you or any hobbit! It’s a darned unrespectable practice, taking sensible farm animals and sending them flying about like there’s the wind up in them. What was the entry fee?”

“Two hundred silver,” the shamed young hobbit answered. “A-and I know it was what Pa sent with us to buy him the tools he needs for the harvest…but the prize is near triple that! And honest, Hal, I can win!”

“Not any longer you can’t,” Hal responded sternly. “And Breelanders may be good folk, but they’re sharp in business, and you won’t be getting your money back.”

As everyone sat and reflected on this problem, Brassica had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, because the resolution to the problem seemed clear as daylight. Brassica still felt rather dour about Parsnip, who she considered to have a terrible attitude for a pony, and didn’t relish the notion of any further contact with. Sighing, she hopped down from the bench she’d sat herself on, and tapped Celebarad on the shoulder. “C’mon,” she instructed, and in the way that he always did, the elf complied promptly, rising from his seat in the shady grass and shadowing the young hobbit as she set off in search of ‘Bergine.

It was not a trying search, for ‘Bergine had done precisely what Brassica would have in the same situation, and made for the large clay ovens, and the perpetual feast that went on around them. The ovens were ringed around with tables, groaning beneath the weight of a spread, the likes of which Brassica hadn’t seen since Bilbo’s Birthday. She did linger rather longer than she might have at several of the choicest buffets, and came away with a hastily quaffed mug of ale and perhaps more snacks than she could avoid feeling guilty about, but she was only a hobbit and could hardly help herself. She found ‘Bergine sat by herself at the end of a lonely table, alternating between devouring and crying on a bilberry pie.

“I’ll race for Bungo,” Brassica announced bluntly, sparing no time in getting to the point of her plan, when ‘Bergine looked up from her pastry and sniffled at her. “It’s my fault he lost his chance to try and get himself out of such a stupid mess, and I owe him that at least. Maybe he could even have done it. I don’t know if I can, but I ought to try. That is, if it’s clear with you, and you’ll promise that Parsnip’s not so pesky a pony as I think she is.”

‘Bergine had to dab at her face with a napkin, and blow her nose and dab her eyes with the hem of her pinafore, before she could give Brassica a hiccup-punctuated answer. “She’s Bungo’s…hic…pony. We rode her from…hic…home, even though we could…hic…have gotten a ride with Hal and Aldish in their cart. Now I know why…”

“Is she as bad tempered and stubborn a fool as I think she is?”

Shaking her head, ‘Bergine seemed to master her hiccups with a little cough and a sigh. “She’s not so bad. She likes Bungo. I give her sugar sometimes, or apples if I have them, but I don’t try to ride her. Oh, Brassica, do you think…do you think you could do it? It’s just that it was Pa’s money for the harvest…a-and we’ll get in terrible trouble if we go home and have to tell him why we couldn’t get his tools. Bungo especially it’s not his fault he’s such a fool, and he was only trying to do right. O-oh, please, Brassica! You could have all the prize money if you won, we’d just need back what Bungo put in for his place!”

Awkwardly, Brassica patted her friend’s shoulder. “Oh, don’t let’s trouble about that right now, ‘Bergine, I don’t even know when the race is, yet. And I can’t even promise I’d win…especially seeing as I still need Celebarad to teach me how to ride, to begin with.” She glanced sidelong up at the elf, and found him looking at her speculatively. “Could you?”she asked her friend, biting her lip. “I know I can’t ride Parsnip like you ride Miriel…but just feeling like I could stay on the back of her would be a start.”

“I had not thought that this was a thing to be learned,” Celebarad answered frankly, as though it was only just occurred to him that it was possible for anyone not to know how to ride. “I do not know if it is a thing that I can give you the learning of.”

“Well, you’ve got to try,” Brassica insisted stubbornly, and then she extracted ‘Bergine from her pie and gently bullied her into taking them to where Parsnip had been put to pasture.

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1 Comment

  1. iardi

     /  May 17, 2012

    excelent as always

    Reply

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