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Minas Tirith Forums » The Green Dragon » Road to Rivendell (Page 14)
Author Topic: Road to Rivendell
Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy woke on the back of Gandalf's horse. He felt a bit bruised but not too bad although he was a bit worse than he thought he was as he was about to discover. He noticed the rider. Well, there weren't many people in this country that where grey-clad, obviously a Wizard and carrying a staff. Men where a bit scarce in the Shire. Ferdy wasn't totally sure, but decided to risk a guess. He tapped Gandalf. 'Gandalf?' asked he.
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Loremaster
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Gandalf was pleased - and a little relieved, too - to see his charge waking up. He would probably recover easily, then. But he needed to have his bruises seen to, and to have a check whether anything was broken.

"Yes, I'm Gandalf," he chuckled. "And who are you? A Took? If you're a Took - and a fool of a Took, to insist on braving this weather on foot - then I know your family."

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy blushed a little in the darkness. 'Don't know my gaffer, do you? That's the type of thing he keeps on saying to me! Still, he can tell me so till he's blue in the face it's such a relief to be able to see him again. Have to admit, I thought I was a gonner there for a moment! But I did think I could handle this journey, I have done it enough times. Not in these conditions, however, I don't think I've ever known snow like this. You know, if I didn't know better I'd say I could hear fell voices in the air at times in this mirk. But that can't be right, can it?'

Ferdy was feeling a bit better and decided to get up a bit. 'I think I can sit up actually!' Ferdy then felt an agonizing bolt of pain through his right knee and left foot. he fell back. 'Or possibly not, looks like I have a dislocated knee and what feels like a broken metertarsal. I'll have to see a healer. I could be out of action for a week!' Ferdy gasped. Hobbits do heal quicker than most other species in Middle-earth surprisingly!

[ 03-20-2009, 08:59 AM: Message edited by: Hamfast Gamgee ]

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Loremaster
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"It is as I thought, then," Gandalf said. "You are Ferdinand Took, second son of the Bullroarer - Ferdy amongst friends. No need to look so surprised! We have some mutual friends. I arrived at Bushy shortly after you had left - your friend's father is a recent friend of mine. He's going to store the fireworks for me until the Party - he's good at keeping secrets. They told me that they were worried for you, and as I've got a good horse now, I offered to look for you and see you safely home."

Gandalf had been able to buy a horse of a kind that was bred especially for cold weather. Smaller and stronger than other horses, with thicker fur - the kind that Glorfindel had mentioned to him at Rivendell, telling him that they were used up at Forochel. Its name was Bill, and it carried both of its riders easily.

"But now I'm taking you back to Bushy instead," Gandalf said, "since that is shorter, and you need to be thawed out completely as soon as possible. And it seems that leg of yours needs some attention, too. They can give you some basic care, and after that I can take you home to see a proper healer. Bill won't mind carrying you, will you, Bill?"

The small, sturdy horse snorted, as if he was offended that Gandalf could even ask.

"There you are, you see!" Gandalf laughed. "He doesn't at all mind having a Hobbit as an extra passenger. Soon you'll be right as rain, Ferdy - you don't mind me calling you Ferdy, do you? Your father is one of my friends, so I suppose we can be friends, too."

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy decided that he would take a little more care with his knee for the next few days or so. 'Yes, Ferdy's fine!' he said to Gandalf. 'Sturdy animal too,' declared he, giving Bill a pat. 'Is he a Donkey? Oh, no of course not his ears are all wrong for a Donkey!' Ferdy's acquine knowledge was not always 100%.

'Still, you said fireworks! Ar, your fireworks are the stuff of legend. What've you got, Cracklers? Lights of blue and green? I do just about remember one of yours from years ago. I was only a young Hobbit-child but I remember those small whizzing ones that whirled and hissed in their hundreds. Got any of those?

The night's air blew cold. 'Still it's late, but I do fancy Bushey. I rather fancy a beer myself after that experience!'

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Loremaster
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Bill snorted again - probably he didn't like being mistaken for a donkey, if only for a moment. He flicked his tail, as if to show Ferdy that this was not a donkey's tail.

"So you remember my fireworks?" Gandalf laughed. "Not bad, since I haven't been around for a long time. Oh yes, there will be whizzings and whirlings and hissings for you, don't worry! But I won't give away any more details than that. I want them to be a surprise - for you as well, young Took!"

I just hope that they will be able to enjoy the Yule party, he thought to himself. There have been casualties - let's hope that there won't be more of those, at least not for a while. Although I fear that this winter hasn't claimed its last victim yet ...

"We're nearly at Bushy now," he said. "I'm sure you can have your beer - but you will need a hot drink first of all. And a blanket!"

A few minutes later they rode into the courtyard of the small farm. There was a face in the window of the farmhouse, trying to peer out into the dark night - Ferdy's friend. He opened the front door almost before Gandalf had time to knock.

"Ferdy's safe," Gandalf told him, carrying Ferdy in his arms. "But he's injured, and he's freezing. Is there some place where he can lie down?"

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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While Ferdy was being tended by his friend Timbo's family - Timbo's mother especially, she refused to even think of sending Ferdy out into the dark night again, she insisted that he spend the night with them, and Gandalf agreed - there was uproar in the kitchens of Great Smials.

"He should have been back by now!" Lilly, Ferdy's mother, yelled. "We must send out a search party to look for him!"

Primula, who was helping with the preparations for the Yule party, had more confidence in the young Hobbit's ability to get safely out of a tight place, and tried to calm down the Bullroarer's wife. The Bullroarer himself, Bandobras Took, wasn't very worried at all.

"He'll have more sense than to leave the farm in this weather," he said. "He'll spend the night with his friend, and after breakfast tomorrow morning he'll start for home. He should be here by lunchtime - or even for elevenses. And there wouldn't be any help in searching for him now in the dark anyway - we wouldn't be able to see him. Tomorrow morning I'll take Bella, that sturdy new horse I bought the other day, and look for him."

Bella was in fact the sister of Gandalf's horse, Bill - but none of the owners knew this yet.

Primula was not so sure about Ferdy's good sense, he rather had a knack for getting into trouble and out of it again, but as she agreed about the futility of search parties in the dark, she decided not to protest.

Suddenly there was a sound at the window - as if something was rapping at the glass. Bandobras went over to look. He turned to the others, surprised.

"It's a raven!" he said. "It's knocking - and it's carrying something in its beak. I wonder why?"

"I'll go out to look," Primula said. "Could it be a message?"

It was. Unfortunately the raven wasn't a talking raven, but he carried a small piece of paper, and Primula thanked him for his efforts. She brought the piece of paper inside into the light and read it to the others. There wasn't room for a lot of text.

"Expect us tomorrow lunchtime. F. and G."

"Ferdinand!" Lilly exclaimed. "You were right - he stayed with his friend, and stayed out of trouble! But who is G.?"

"Could it be Gandalf?" Primula asked. "Marigold said that he would go on another visit before coming here - perhaps they have met?"

Of course noone could give a definite answer to that question - but it was a much more relaxed Hobbit lady who went to bed that evening.

Primula, on the other hand, was curious as to under what circumstances Ferdy had met the wizard - but they seemed to be safe now, anyway, and she wasn't going to give Lilly more to worry about. Come tomorrow, they would hear what had happened.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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The next day, at lunchtime as stated, though to be fair lunchtime for Hobbits can be a rather flexible notion, Ferdy was at one of the doors to the Great Smials with Gandalf and his companion Timbo. Ferdy was a bit bandaged up around his ribs and on his head and neaded a stick to help him walk, but actually he looked much worse than he was.

Indeed, the local healer that had seen Ferdy the previous evening had cheerfully stated, 'Yes, that looks like a broken metersall, fractured Ribs, dislocated knee and concusion. You just need a bit of rest, healthy eating and in a few days you'll be fine!' which was right. Gandalf arrived on Bill with some fireworks for the party and Ferdy dismounted with a little help from Timbo.

It was still unusually cold, though just for a change not snowing, but it did lay deep on the land. Seeing the shocked looks on some of the Hobbits faces as they saw Ferdy, Timbo laughed as he knew Ferdy would be fine, 'Here he is! Only Ferdy would try to do a bit of freestyle sking in this weather!'

[ 05-25-2009, 10:51 PM: Message edited by: Hamfast Gamgee ]

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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Primula happened to be about the right door when Ferdy and his companions arrived. She let them in - and stared at Ferdy. She had been right, then - he had been up to something.

'Freestyle skiing' though?

"Freestyle skiing?" she repeated. "Whatever have you been up to, Ferdy? Tell us all about it - we can tell your mother the edited version later. Thank goodness we can prepare her before she sees you - she might have fainted."

She looked at the man with a tall pointed hat.

"I guess that you are Gandalf?" she said, at which he just nodded, grinning at her.

"You are most welcome," she said, "and we are grateful that you have taken care of this young rascal! I'll tell the Thain that you have arrived."

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy was happy to be home, however. A little part of him was tempted to exagerate his injuries a little in order to have some fuss made of him, but then he thought he didn't really want to worry his mother. So he replied,

'It's not too bad, really! In fact I feel better already, I just need somewhere to sit and have a bit of rest! Though I have to admit, I was a bit worried there for a moment. If it wasn't for Gandalf here, I would have been in trouble. It can get a little bit cold and slippery here at the moment. I haven't had an accident like this one before. Freestyle sking indeed!' Ferdy threw a look at Timbo and told Primula what had happened.

Timbo laughed, 'Sit down, no change there, Ferdy! On the other hand, Ferdy has in a way done us all a favour. He has shown that it is getting a bit dangerous out there. I don't think that any of us have seen a winter quite like this one. We all need to be more careful and take care of each other at this time. But on the other hand, we have some fireworks from Gandalf. This is one party I am looking forward too' The party was only a few days away, now.

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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Priimula was glad that they hadn't known the previous evening what really had happened. She believed Ferdy's mother wouldn't have had such a carefree night of sleep then. But things seemed to have turned out well, and Ferdy should have just about time to be quite all right again before the Yule celebrations.

"I'll come with you to see the Thain when you tell Ferdy's mother," Gandalf said. "No need to send messengers back and forth. And I can tell him the news about his grandson, too."

Primula just nodded and showed him the way. She was a bit in awe of the wizard. She had heard so much about him lately.

"I haven't seen you here before, have I?" Gandalf asked. "It's been a long time since I was here last, and I don't remember you from then."

"No - I've only come recently," Primula stuttered. "Marigold has been so good to me - especially since my husband died - I can get enough work here to support myself and the children. And they are invited to the Party, too."

Gandalf gave her a friendly smile, and suddenly it was very easy to tell him everything about her worries as a young widow, and how much she missed her husband, and how difficult it was to keep the children occupied when they were stuck in all this snow. Gandalf promised her that his fireworks at the party would be spectacular enough for them to have something to talk about for weeks into the new year. Primula found it easy enough to believe him.

He went to stay with the Thain for lunch, while Primula found Ferdy's mother and told her the latest news on their way back to the kitchen. Even so, Lilly's eyes widened when she saw her son's condition.

[ 06-12-2009, 10:06 PM: Message edited by: Varnafindë ]

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Hamfast Gamgee
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With a nod and a bit of a gasp, Ferdy's mum came to greet him. With that look on her face, Ferdy could tell she wasn't impressed!. 'This way, Ferdinand!' growled she and lead plus supported him through the cream-plastered decorated with paintings and wooden beams corridors of the Great Smials. After a few metres, Ferdy and his mother sat down in a little yellow-painted study that his father had occasionally used. Twas a spare study actually! Anyway, she sat Ferdy down upon a bare but comfy chair and stood up herself looking down upon him.

'Ferdinand Took!' started she, 'You do not have the good sense your father was born with. If you are going to be stubborn enouth to brave the night in this weather, you could at least avoid been clumsy enough to fall over in it!. Be the death of me, you will!'

'Ah, well, the thing is......' Ferdy stuttered.

'Don't bother!' Lilly cut Ferdy off. 'Of all the trouble you've been in, to spend hours in the snow, at night in the worse winter in living memory, nearly freezing to death is stretching youthful irresponsibility, even for you! Didn't you think about how you where actually going to survive if you had fell down in all this slippery snow and never mind the hills?'

'Well, that's a bit unfair, it's not usually this snowy, how.......'

'I said, don't bother! And I suppose you need a couple of days off for your injuries?'

'With all this, well, it would be nice!' answered Ferdy.

'Fractured ribs, sprained ankle and concussion. All right, three days!' For Hobbits, this was about right! 'That should bring us up to the party! You'll be very busy for a few days! Oh,' Ferdy's mother paused and gave him a little hug as she was pleased to see him, though to be fair, Ferdy was too busy thinking about the rollicking he had just been given to notice, perhaps. 'Nice to see you safe!' finally concluded she.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Party, party, party! Yes, it was time for the midwinter's party. The shortest day of the year. So, as some optimistic hobbits thought, from here things could only get better. So they hoped, anyway! Ferdy would remember the happiness of this party for a long time in the grimmer days that where to follow. But that's for the future. Now, it was the mid-day and the party field was covered in white snow and lots of Hobbits, many of whom Ferdy knew, dancing, playing, eating, drinking and relaxing in the manner which Hobbits can.

Although it was cold, and more snow was gently falling, in the comfort of the Great Smails field, this looked almost pretty and there where many fires ablaze to warm the flesh of the partying guests. Ferdy spend most of the morning hanging around the kitchens working with the food, but with the excitement of the occasion he did look in much of he Cooking and to be honest was more interfering than been of any help. 'Now, come one, what you really need is more peeled potato in that dish,' was the type of thing he would say and the cook gave him a glance to tell him to mind his own business.

But his mother came to his rescue here. 'Er, Ferdinand, over at the main tent, we are making a fine Stewpot with stuffing. Now, we could use your assistance in that one,'

'Oh, right you are, yes, that sounds fine!' Agreed Ferdy moving over to help. Now, it was winter and unusually cold. But been adaptable people, the Hobbits where almost using this to their advantage. Over in the field, there was a large pond, but this was frozen up, due to the weather. But some used this to skate and play on this. Indeed, a rather improvised game of football was taking place. Then some had the bright idea to use skates on it. Then others took up a little ball and sticks and a nice game began. And thus, the noble game of Ice-Hockey was invented.

Sadly, however after a time one of the Tooks playing tripped over a Hornblower in the opposite team. Weather this was deliberate or not none really knew. But this caused a bit of a rumpus and in a moment the two teams had decided to have a bit of a fight and had to be separated by the on-lookers. One of whom was whacked in the head by a stick and had to go away for some treatment! Yes, the game of Ice-Hockey had been invented indeed!

Ferdy did notice that some others had a game which involved bowling a ball in the snow and others batting it away. Now, this looked a bit like Cricket. Well, cricket was normally played by Hobbits in the summer on the sunny greens and indeed, Ferdy was a fan. But snow-cricket? Now, Ferdy didn't think that would ever catch on. So, it been around lunchtime, Ferdy thought it was time for a beer. 'You ought to watch that, don't want to become an alcoholic now,' his mother had warned.

'Yes, and I've seen what you're like after a gin or two!' Ferdy muttered to himself but said nothing. He made his way to the beer-tent. To no great surprise he saw some of his normal lunch-time drinking pals there. Well, Ferdy didn't drink in the day all the time, but now and again! He waved to Timbo who was enjoying a glass. Also there was grim Dan an old Hobbit but if there ever was a grumpy Hobbit, Dan was it, or so a lot of his contemporaries thought.

'Enjoying the party?' asked Timbo in the hope that Dan might smile. Dan had not smiled in years, so Timbo was not realistic in this.

'Party, party? Well, we can enjoy ourselves now, but what of the future?' growled he. But the other Hobbits simply laughed. Actually, Dan was wiser than most of them knew, but they did think he was a bit on the miserable side. Always going on with dire warnings about this and that. Most considered there was a time and place for that kind of thing!

But in the meantime, the party was a merry throng. There was eating, dancing, music, talking on mass as only Hobbits can and the anticipation of fireworks later. There was a bit of tabogoing happening, riding on snow vehicles which skated down the hill. Ferdy wondered if he should have a go, then felt his hips. He was fully healed now from his injuries, but best not chance it, thought he so he listened to the sounds of Hobbit merriment instead.

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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Primula's children were having a great time. They always liked going to the Great Smials, where there were more children to play with, but today was the great Yule Party, to celebrate the New Year, and there were more people around than ever.

Will was happy to leave both his older and his younger sister to play with other girls. He would look after Rose - little Rosie - when it was necessary, and he would accept being looked after by Marigold when she deemed it necessary - but playing with the other boys on his own was more fun. He was quite a big boy now - in less than a month he would be six - but this unfortunately didn't always mean that the bigger boys would have him join them.

Today they were friendly to everybody, though. He was allowed to join in the football game, and he did a fair bit of running, although he never got close enough to kick the ball. When they started using skates, he had to just stand and watch, though. He hadn't got proper skates.

Later in the day he noticed that some people were going tobogganing - Will very much wanted to go on one of those vehicles, but so far noone had invited him to come along. He noticed that Ferdy wasn't going either - even though Ferdy was a really big boy, almost grown-up, and he belonged to the family here - so why wasn't he going? Will didn't think he should ask him, though. He had talked to him earlier, occasionally, but he didn't really know him very well.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy moved a little in the snow and gulped down a little ale. Then he had to move sharpest as with a screech from one of the occupants he was nearly run over by a Tabogoen. 'Who taught you how to navigate?' asked he as those in the vehicle emerged from it, covered in snow. As he looked around he noticed a young hobbit-child. The name was Will was it? Ferdy wasn't sure though he did recognize him. Though last time Ferdy had seen him, the child was with his family.

Feeling a bit curious, Ferdy looked over and smiled at the boy. 'You not joining in the downhill sking then?' he asked the lad.

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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"No, I'm not," Will sighed. "I haven't got one of those vehicles for myself, and noone has invited me to ride with them. But it's fun just to watch the others, though," he added bravely.
"Don't you think so too - you are only watching as well, aren't you?"

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Hamfast Gamgee
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'I think I've had enough of falling down snowy slopes for the moment!' smiled Ferdy. 'You see, only a few days ago I fell down a 100ft valley, was buried alive in snow and was only rescued from hunting white wolves by Gandalf, you've heard of Gandalf? I perhaps am still feeling a bit fragile!' Ferdy felt his hips. This may have been a bit of an exaggeration but what was the point in telling a tale if one cannot exaggerate it a little, thought Ferdy!
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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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Will stared at Ferdy, wide-eyed.

"Yes, Mum told me about that," he said. "She didn't say how deep the valley was, though - where is there such a deep valley? I've heard of Gandalf, though - Mum says that he's going to show us something called fireworks tonight. I don't know what it is, but she says that it is very pretty."

He smiled, his smile very similar to Primula's smile.

"It's a good thing that Gandalf rescued you," he said. "If he hadn't, would the wolves have eaten you then? But Mum didn't say anything about wolves either ..."

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy realised he couldn't really keep this charade up! Especially as Will was looking at him wide-eyed. He laughed and clasped a tree-branch. 'Well, I don't think I will fool anyone with such a wise mummy! The wolves where one, small with red-brests and flew. It might have been a Robin, actually! I don't suppose the valley was 100ft deep, it just felt like it. But I was buried. And rescued by Gandalf the Wizard. I must say I'm particularly looking forward to the fireworks. I suppose you're a bit too young to remember them melad! Well, you're in for a treat. I hope he does those green ones that go right up to the night-sky then explode like many twinkling stars!'
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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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"If the wolf was really a robin, then I don't think it would have eaten you," Will said, thinking deeply about the matter. "Robins eat worms, but I don't think they would try eating anything as big as a Hobbit. So you were probably safe. But it was good of Gandalf to rescue you from being buried! If you're buried in the snow, it doesn't really matter how deep the valley is, does it? Mum was glad to see you safe, she said."

His eyes lit up with excitement.

"So you have seen fireworks? Gandalf said hello to me yesterday, but he wouldn't tell me about the fireworks. Are they really like stars? And green? I've never seen green stars before."

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy brushed of some snow from his tunic. 'Yes, well, when I say green stars, obviously one doesn't actually get green stars, they all look white if a bit twinkly, don't they? Though I have heard some strange sayings that if one was to get close enough to see them, they are much larger than they appear and do actually come in different colours. Still, not sure about that myself!' Ferdy laughed again.

But he did think, 'This young lad is obviously a bit of a bright spark. Mind, I'd like to see him work a day's shift at my place!' For Ferdy a day's shift meant around 5 hours. With a half-an-hour break and as he lived next door he only had to commute for around 5 minutes. Though it did take him twenty minutes to get ready sometimes. And he moaned about that! But indeed Ferdy wasn't particularly special in that manner, most Hobbit work-days at that time where for that long and they where reasonably paid for it!

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Roll of Honor Varnafindë
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"Most of them are white, yes," Will nodded, "and many of them are yellow - and I think that one or two are almost red! But no green. I think I would have liked to see them up close, if that was possible - but I don't think I could fly high enough to reach them, even if I had wings ..."

He didn't have much time to think about it, before one of the boys he had played with earlier, came over to him.

"Are you up to another football game, Will?" he asked. "They say that we will have time for one more game before dinner. You can come as well if you like, Ferdy - or you can watch, if you prefer to!"

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy considered the offer under a smile across his face. But he decided not to. 'No, thanks, fellows, some of those tackles are flying in a bit too much for me!' as he waved farewell to Will. Through truth was he was just in a mood to laze about for a while. He finished his ale, and took up a little extra work in the kitchens, though he didn't mind doing that a bit. The cooking of the party's food wasn't that much of a chore as everyone did their bit. The only accident Ferdy had was when he opened one cupboard door and was a load of plates nearly fell on him and he had to retreat, shaking his head!

Though the food was plentiful, Ferdy did notice that it seemed to be mostly of perishable items such as Bread, fruit, fish. The organisers of the party seemed to have decided to save as much of the food that could be kept as they could, so items such as potatoes where in relatively short supply. In fact, there possibly wasn't quite so much available as there might have been say, a year ago, but with a party of Hobbits it was certain that none would be wasted!

But there was still Ale and Ferdy had time to go to the beer tent for a few well-earned pints. Not that many, really Ferdy did want to stay awake! He sat on one of the bar stools with 3 other patrons and the barmaid. The conversation at this time did tend to be limited both in terms of quantity and quality, a brief taste of which is this:

'Looking forward to the fireworks!' said Ted.

There was then a long pause.

'Fireworks!' agreed Andy. Another long pause.

Someone burped and there was more drinking.

'And bangs and flashes. By Gandalf.' added the Barmaid.

'And those long speeches and murders!' said Trev who was a bit old, confused and deaf, especially after beer!

'Eh?' asked the others at him.

'All that shouting, dancing with sword and acting!' coughed Trev.

'Oh, Trev means a theatre!' said Ferdy. 'No, no, Trev, this is a firework display. No acting involved!' Though Ferdy now decided that the conversation was a bit too intellectual for him! 'I'll just take a look outside!' said he and stepped out where it was snowing lightly again. Time was moving on, Ferdy waved at Will whom he passed and threw a faggot on one of the bonfires which was burning brightly into the night. Time was definetly moving on to the fireworks!

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When Gandalf had discussed the celebrations with the Thain and his son a few days ago, they had decided that they wouldn't leave the fireworks for midnight. It would be better for the children if the fireworks were earlier, so that they could all see them and still not have to stay up too far past their usual bed-time. Or this might be more important for the mothers, perhaps ...

So straight after supper, a little before ten o'clock, Ferumbras Took announced that everybody were to put on their warm clothes again, and go outside.

Gandalf was there already. He had got his things prepared in advance, and as soon as everybody were out of the house, he let off his first rocket.

The rocket went straight up, and when it was high above them all, it exploded into yellow and green stars. Then there was a second one which was red and orange, and then a third which was blue and purple.

After that the shapes of the fireworks began to be even more interesting. Instead of just stars, there were flowers as well, great big flaming flowers with burning petals. And there were birds, and other animals, and still other creatures which some recognized and some didn't.

His last rocket exploded into a huge green dragon, which flew right above them, close enough that some of them almost involuntarily crouched down to avoid being attacked by it.

"That's it!" Gandalf announced. "I've saved only one for the midnight hour, but it's not as grand as some of what you've already seen. So those of you who wish to - or who are told to - go to bed now, can do so without feeling that you'll be missing out on something. You've already seen the best."

Some children muttered a little about that, but their mothers convinced them that it was indeed time to go bed - and that they could dream about everything they had seen, now that they had seen all there was to see.

Most of the adults or nearly adults didn't go straight to bed, though. They were standing around in groups, eagerly discussing what they had seen, and admiring Gandalf's ingenuity.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Ferdy gave a goodnight wave and a wink to young Will. 'Off to bed then?' he asked.

'Oh, yes, yes!' chuckled Will.

So, with midnight and the final fireworks approaching, most made merry at the main table and much enjoyment and laughter was had by all. Except grumpy Dan of course. But then as he never laughed or rarely smiled at anything, even at Yuletide, this was to be expected. Some of the Hobbits did try to tease him, 'Enjoying the party?' they asked, some even threw little balloons at his head. Grumpy Dan was far from amused.

'E, yere a bunch of fishy fools!' snarled he. 'Sitting here, eating more than you should when you know yere might well go short tomorrow. Doom, gloom, blood and hardship is what is coming and if you weren't such idiots, yered be wondering how to cope, rather than wasting time with frivoloties! With evil forces roaming in the world outside and food in shortage and with snow grasping us in it's icy grip, we might have yuletide, but what type of New Year will we have, eh?'

There was a little bit of a pause in the music and merrymaking here as Dan did speak loudly. He wasn't first in the queue to speak, but as he did speak loud enough for everyone to hear clearly, he might as well have started them of! 'Well, that's a cheerful thought!' Timbo responded. 'But come on, it's Yuletide, we've had fireworks!'

'Bah, Humbug!' snapped Dan.

'Well, what have foreign sweets got to do with anything?' Ferdy asked. But he did admit that Dan did have something of a point. After the New Year there would be problems. And that thought did somewhat distract him from the merrymaking around. But that was the world and what could he do? And it was Yuletide after all.

So, many others made speeches of a more cheerful, happy if perhaps less wise nature. But there was a lot of beer around. Hobbit after Hobbit stepped up to the small wooden stage and said a brief sentance. When it came to Ferdy he said, 'Well, I'd just like to say a few words......'

'And that was it!' cried a heckler, Timbo, and everyone laughed so much that Ferdy got down.

'I wasn't going to say anything that bad!' thought he, but Hobbits like their speeches short!

So, in the eating, drinking, laughing, dancing and general partying, the time moved towards midnight. Hobbits of different clans and families chatted in groups and as it happened most did manage to stay awake as it was difficult to sleep in the din and many where quite excited as in the general Hobbity manner as gentle snow, for the moment, fell down outside the tent.

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