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HOBBIT TALES

BY KATHY LENTZ
Hobbits - An imaginary race of half-sized people living in holes, who have been discovered by curious Buena Vista folk in hillsides near creeks and streams.
CHAPTER 1

These Arkansas Valley Hobbits are unique. That's because their ancestors, led by the tall, legendary Hobbit Gregor Goonspeak, left their peaceful farmland homes to go "adventurin". No one really knows why. (Most Hobbits are around 3 feet tall, while Gregor was 4 feet 9 inches. ​ There is some evidence that these Ark Valley Hobbits fish and pan for gold in the many mountain streams, but no human beyond the age of 12 yrs will admit to ever seeing them. The only circumstantial evidence that might possibly prove Hobbits' existence in the Ark Valley is the old name for what is now the the Book Nook, when it was once called "The Hobbit House". (I've heard it whispered that there's a Hobbit Hole in their cellar!) Now if you're a stodgy human adult, you're probably scoffing, "Humph! Fairy Tales!" If you're a kid at heart, you're probably singing, "Tell me more!"

CHAPTER 2

As in any advanced society, the Ark Valley Hobbit Clan’s Chief Tale-Teller (Catty) is a popular elderwoman who must be constantly fed with Silverbell Cakes and Eddy’s Brew. (So that she doesn’t tell tales about you.) So, when Seri, a mid-ager, met Catty while out shopping the other day, she asked ‘What’s new, Catty.’ Catty snorted, ‘If you’ll pop inside for a sip of ‘Eddy’s Brew, ‘I’ll be tellin’ you the latest about Filly’s youngest.’ Like all good Hobbit mommas, Seri was always eager to hear Catty’s newest tale. Both mommas wrapped hands around mugs of Eddy’s Hot Ale. ‘Well, what about Filly’s youngest? ’ asked Seri. ‘Fawn, she is and a mid-tween, maybe 24 and ready for mischief. Starting to want her own Hobbit Hole, if you take my meaning.’ Seri nodded. (Tweens are Hobbits coming- of-age between 20-35 or so, the age group referred to as Terrible Tweens.) ‘The busybody, Rumer, saw her riding a burro into the woods upriver a ways. Now, where do you suppose she was going to?” ‘Well, where was Fawn going?’ asked Seri. Catty smacked her lips over Eddy’s Brew and said, ‘Top it up, Eddy. Up to no good was Fawn, you can be sure when she rode that burro into the woods. That twas yester and she hain’t been seen since. Aye and Topher (Ark Valley Clan Chief) is gathering a ‘Findin’ Troop now.” Seri stood up shakily, ‘I best go fix food for the Finders. Hungry tummies don’t think so well. Is it mischief you’re thinkin?’ ‘Oh, aye,’ Catty whispered. ‘Tis said those Big Folk like to capture wild things for pets. They use traps covered with sticky bun syrup. No Tween can resist that!’ ‘Let’s hope they get a skunk for their trouble,’ said Seri as she paid for their Hot Ales.

CHAPTER 3

Meals are central to Hobbit identity. Breakfast: tea, muffins, toast with jam, fruit. Heavier breakfast: eggs, sausage, bacon, cakes. 2nd Breakfast: coffee, sausages, muffins. Elevenses: coffee, toast, pastry. Luncheon: cold meat, potatoes, soup. Afternoon Tea: scones, biscuits, jam, clotted cream, coffee, tea, mead. Dinner: mutton, beef or game (hare, pheasant),vegetables. Supper: meat pies, boiled eggs, pastries, wine, ale. Tis well-known that a Hobbit is always hungry, especially for mushrooms, sticky bun syrup & pickles. (To name a few favorites.) Next morning while the Hobbit Finders were readying their gear and eating ‘our last meal,’ moaned some of them, Fawn was quietly humming, “My Own Home Hole” just outside the spot she’d chosen as her very own Hobbit Hole. More than a hole, different from a cave, Fawn’s chosen Home was at the roots of an ancient willow. She had carefully trimmed back some large roots so she could stand and move about under the willow’s interlocking roots. It was on its way to becoming a perfect Hobbit Hole, well- hidden from casual view by a thick hedge of scrub oak. Last night, she had made a comfy sleeping spot in a dark corner and happily spent her first time ever away from Topher and her momma Tulip’s Hole. Now Fawn set about unloading the wee burro’s back. Most precious items came first: a jar of starter to make Dwarf Dough; pine nuts; clay jars of honey, pickles - all the foodstuffs to feed a hungry Tween Hobbit. Next came a deck of cards, tiny tins of paint, fuzzy yarn, needles of all shapes and sizes, candle wax, pots for cooking and making. Fawn was resting after unpacking and chomping on a golden apple when she heard it. “Halloo, Halloo, Fawn dearest, where be ya?” She knew her dadda’s voice, Topher, clan chief. “Fiddlegum, they found me!” breathed Fawn. Quickly, she led the little burro into her dugout, hoping that the scrub oak barrier would hide them. And she wondered which would be the lesser fate: becoming pet for a Big One’s family or being led back to the village in disgrace. Empty hope it was, for Topher was a famous tracker who could find a hare’s burrow merely by sniffing. Nevertheless, Fawn hoped.

CHAPTER 3A

Lately there has been speculation among staff and visitors of the Book Nook as to the origin of ‘Ned’s Nook.’ The nook was named by Chris, former Book Nook manager, This is what he told me about the Hobbit, Ned. (Author’s Note) One day in early December I heard an unholy scratching outside the back of the Nook, coming from underneath the cellar door. The scratching was accompanied by some mad-as-a-peacock wailing. ‘Bugleboo Undies, let me out!’ Course I stood still from shock for a few secs, but soon had the cellar door open. There sat a sight I hope to never behold again. Twas a filthy mop-headed boyish figure whose smallish balled-up fists were banging on my shins. ‘Whoa there laddiie,‘ said I, ‘Yer free now.’ ‘Ned is no laddie! In Hobbiton, I, Ned, am honorable elder,’ the three foot high critter huffed. ‘Well, Boyo,’ my six-foot high self responded, ‘Yer not in Hobwhatever now. This Book Nook place, in whose cellar you’re trespassing, is in Riverton, aside the Ark River.’ Seemed this Ned creature, who I soon discovered was a Hobbit, a strange group of small humans who live in holes in hills, told me a tale ye won’t believe about getting lost from his kinfolk, and waking up locked in this cellar, with no memory in between. Hey there, I didn make this tale - twas told to me by Ned Hobbit hisself. After I provided this Ned critter a manly-sized breakfast from Jan’s, Ned let me know that he’d be making the cellar his home, - till something better comes along. All he asked of me was a steady stream of Hobbit food - It so happens we share the joy of constant eating. As for hjs yearning for ale, he discovered Eddy’s Brewery close by and became a frequent visitor to the outdoor vats. In exchange for room and board in the cellar, Ned agreed to create a nook in the Hobbit House (Book Nook) where he would ‘work’ for two hours a night, spending the rest of the night as curious hobbits do, exploring the environs round here. As to his adventures doing so, I know not. If ye ask to see Ned’s cellar hole, ye’ll find nothing but a dirt floor, black widows and rattlesnakes as his tidy, comfy Cellar Hole appears to nosy strangers.

CHAPTER 4

Note from J.R.R. Tolkien:“They possessed from the first the art of disappearing swiftly and silently, when large folk whom they do not wish to meet come blundering by; and this art they have developed until to Men it may seem magical.” Before we digressed with the story of Ned’s Nook, Fawn’s Da, Topher was looking for her and was close to finding her new Hobbit Hole. So, let’s continue. Though knowing of this Hobbit ‘disappearing art,’ Fawn wasn’t sure it would allow her to avoid her father, so she held her breath and waited. Topher was so close now that she could hear him sniffing for her scent. “Arf, arf, sniff, sniff,” it was a dog, not Topher. Fawn concentrated harder on the disappearing art she’d been taught as a tot. A scuffle from a wood mouse nearby and the dog was away. For the first time, Fawn questioned her desire to live wild, away from all other Hobbits. Would she always have to hide from her kin? As she hugged herself close, a single tear shone on her cheek. And, despite her passionate wish for independence, she yearned for her dada’s arms. Was it possible to have both? Later, Fawn wandered the woods gathering firewood, dreaming of a meal with meat -sometime. ‘Course,I can always borrow bacon or sausage from Ma & Da’s Home Hole,’ she mused. ‘But for now I’ll make do.’ A teeny waft of air tickled Fawn’s nose. Mushrooms! Nearby! And there it was – a patch of delicious button mushrooms – Fawn stuffed a handful into her mouth. Another teeny waft of air – sticky syrup drops on a tree branch next to the buttons. What to eat first, or next, or before or after that! Impossible to decide! As she reached her finger for the sticky drops, her arm was grabbed firmly and she was pulled roughly into a cage buried in leaves and sticks and a rough cloth was shoved in her mouth. She fainted. (Hobbits NEVER faint!!!) When Fawn woke with her hands tied in front of her and head bursting with ache, she heard laughter – not hobbit laughing, for sure, but more like giggling –a sound new to her. Then a face close to her –smooth, freckly, cheery. “Got ya!” the red-cheeked face said. “My very own Hobbit pet!” This was a Big Folk! But not a big, Big Folk. Same size as Fawn, with short legs, round tummy, tousled brown hair with non-Hobbit ears poking out- strange looking ears with no pointy tip at the top. The smiling face was friendly and a dirty hand held a mushroom under her nose. Since Topher was nowhere nearby, Fawn knew this situation was hers to handle alone. The smallish human held the mushroom closer until it tickled her nose. “Take a bite, little one –Hobbits love shrooms, eh?” Though Fawn understood the human’s words, its manners seemed strange. Hobbits knew Big Folk had loud, raucous voices, so painful to a Hobbit’s ears that they tended to avoid humans whenever possible. This one’s voice was soothing and kind. It took some time and much patience for Fawn to convince the wee human that she would not be a good pet. ‘In fact, Hobbits such as me cannot live away from our homes. In captivity we dry up and float away on the wind, like fallen leaves. (So, too would our nose drop off at the stink of you!--- Thought but not spoken) And Fawn began to make weeping noises whereupon the human child patted her on her head and said, “Oh please don’t cry, I won’t hurt you.” That was when both Fawn and the human each heard their own father’s cry coming from two different directions “Child, where are you?” They looked at each other, saying, “I have to go now!” Next moment Topher was beside Fawn, releasing her from her bonds, holding her tight in strong arms. And for a brief while, Fawn forgot about her own new home hole. “Let’s go home, Little One,” Topher said. But Fawn hesitated: something felt new, different, in her chest. “‘I am home, Da,” she replied.

Stayed tuned for the next installment...
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