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In case you were interested, several snippets went into the weaving of this thought, along with small-child memories of WWII and Korea veterans marching down the Main Street of our small town to the rotunda in the city park, where the doctor who lived next door was one of the speechmakers, his gravelly voice sticking in my memory. The stress of recent months has driven the Muse into hiding, but I keep hoping she’ll return for more than a sip or two of tea before hurrying off again.
From Chapter 14. Difficulties, from The Thrum of Tookish Bowstrings
Farry looked around the room again. ‘You slept here?’ he said. ‘And Shepherd Brockbank and his assistants lived here?’ The dismay in his tone communicated his opinion of this “smial” that was little more than a hole in the hillside.
Ferdi laughed, but it had a grim sound. ‘As I mentioned, he was a Watcher,’ he said. ‘He and a few others took turns watching for signs of ruffians to the East. If they saw movement below, they’d send a messenger to the archers to let them know that Men were testing the defences again.’
‘Didn’t the traps and archers keep them out?’
‘He was also watching for a mass of many Men marching together, Farry,’ Ferdi said more quietly. ‘Lotho fumed and fretted about the Tookish resistance, and his Big Men boasted that they were going to march upon the Tookland in overwhelming numbers and make an example of the Thain and his family.’ He nodded, his eyes sober. ‘We took that kind of talk seriously, and even more so after word came to us that a new Boss had arrived, named Sharkey, and things were growing ever-worse in the Shire proper.’
‘And did they...?’ Farry asked.
Ferdi shook his head. ‘Thankfully, the Travellers returned and stirred the Shire-folk to action,’ he said. ‘But I’ve no doubt it was coming, Farry. I heard some of the ruffians’ plans myself, from their own mouths, and their boasts had the ring of Truth to them.’ His eyes were haunted with shadows from the past. ‘Your father, and your Uncle Merry, and Mayor Sam with them, saved many lives of Tooks and Tooklanders, coming when they did.’ His gaze bored into the younger hobbit. ‘The lives of all your family among them.’ He took a shuddering breath. ‘To make an example of Pippin’s father, mother and sisters,’ he repeated. ‘Farry, you’ve seen something of the evils of Men.’
‘I have,’ Faramir said. But he was bothered that his uncle had seemed to leave out one name from his narration. ‘And Frodo...’
Ferdi shook his head. ‘I don’t see that Frodo saved all that many lives,’ he said, ‘except, of course, for the lives of the ruffians that threw down their weapons at Bywater.’ He held up a staying hand when Farry would have answered him indignantly. ‘I’m not talking about what he did in the Southlands, Farry,’ he said. ‘That was a wonder, and a marvel, and though it is difficult to grasp even now, after hearing Pippin’s stories, I know that Frodo saved all the free peoples at great cost to himself – Hobbits and Dwarves, Men and Elves alike.’
He took a deep breath and shrugged tension from his shoulders before continuing, ‘But when he returned, I think, from what your father has said, that he was too weary and sick at heart and had seen too much death and pain in his travels. He told your father and the others that he wanted no more killing.’ Ferdi sighed. ‘And in the end, he saved the Tookish archers from the shame of shooting down unarmed opponents. He knew, somehow, the terrible harm that it would do to our very souls... and he saved us from that...’ (he was speaking of his fellow archers, such as Reni and Tolly and Hilly, for he himself had been struck down and left for dead earlier in the battle) ‘...and so that is what we choose to remember him for.’
The Battle of Bywater
It was all a lark, keeping the ruffians out of the Tookland. A lark, and yet deadly serious business--for we'd be dead if they could catch us. A game it was, trap the ruffians and dance away, laughing, like one of the faerie folk of legend. "Catch me if you can!"
And Pip returns from the dead in knight's clothes, leading us marching and singing in his pony's wake. I laugh aloud--a game it is, and what a game!
But the rest was no game; ruffians climbing the walls to get at us shooting into their midst. One jumped over, raised his club, took aim... a Took fell. Not content merely to escape, the ruffian raised his club again, and again--until my arrow took him.
I don't remember the rest. I shot into the mob, I shot... and was pulling back the bow to shoot again at the ruffians, strange, sitting upon the ground with hands upon their heads, in the midst of a battle! ...when a hobbit stepped in the way, jerked at my arm to spoil my aim. Have done!
I hold that arrow in my hand.
How did my quiver come to be empty?
From Chapter 94. Fireworks, from At the End of His Rope
After the feast, and the toasts, the King rose from his seat, and all the guests followed his example. He moved to stand before the Master, Mayor and Thain. He bowed deeply, then stood to one side, unsheathing his sword, raising it high in the torchlight.
'We are here to honour the Ring-bearers,' he said. 'One of them stands before you, and the other we will remember as long as memory endures. Praise them with great praise!'
A great shout went up from the Kingsmen and the Rohirrim; the hobbits joined the glad cry, and the Travellers were reminded of the field of Cormallen.
When the shout died away, Ferdibrand gave a signal. His archers quickly formed and marched forward, to stand before the head table. Ferdi nodded to the Thain, and then all of the Tookish archers bowed low before the Mayor.
A blushing Samwise turned to Pippin, who shook his head. 'I had nothing to do with it, Sam,' he said softly. 'The Tooks salute courage; it is one of the few things they respect.'
As the Tooks rose from their homage, Ferdibrand raised his bow in salute, then gave a nod to dismiss the archers, who melted once again into the crowd.
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