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Old 03-09-2011, 08:18 PM   #841
Undómë
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‘Suit yourself, sir,’ Rowan answered. ‘Just make sure, if he asks, you let Master Boffin know it’s your idea to do the cleaning up.’ She looked from the sloppy mess to the Hobbit, her eyebrows rising slightly. My stars! Doesn’t look someone who’s ever cleaned up after himself in his life!’

She shrugged and turned away to fetch the broom and mop and such from the kitchen. It was only a few moments before she returned. ‘There you go! Just dump the mug pieces in this little bucket, along with the wet rags. You can put it there.’ She pointed to a corner behind the bar, near the kitchen entryway. ‘And just leave the mop in its bucket and the broom and dust pan over there, too, when you’re done with them. I’ll see to them.’

Rowan turned away, intending to see to a local fellow who’d come in. ‘Oh, I almost forgot,’ she said, stopping and turning back toward him. ‘It’s Rowan – my name – Rowan.’
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:40 PM   #842
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Tolly looked on with amusement at the exchange between Rowan and the tall Hobbit. None of my business really he thought to himself. Rowan did seem to be handling it all quite civilly. The fellow must not have gotten her back up. Personally, he wouldn’t want to tangle with her if she’d set her mind to something.

The savory smells drifting out from the kitchen each time the door was opened had set his stomach to rumbling; grumbling in protest of a breakfast long gone and nothing to munch on since then. Only this tasty ale was keeping his innards from collapsing altogether, or so his body was telling him. And here it was only his second mug…..or was it the third…..and his head was getting a bit muzzy.

Tolly set his mug carefully on the countertop and peeked into the kitchen. Prim was stirring a large kettle of something that smelled awfully good. And Miz Puddifoot was a vision in a cloud of flour as she mixed another batch of biscuit dough. He found a certain warmth creeping up from his collar. Get hold of yourself! You’re acting like some calf-eyed lad!!

He cleared his throat, hoping to attract Prim’s attention. ‘Could a hungry fellow get a bowl of that?’ he asked, nodding toward the kettle.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:32 AM   #843
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"And I am Elin, this is Annie and the rabbit is Isildur", the woman smiled as she responded to Penny's introduction - not least because she had seen the third cup on the heavily laden tray. "I can't think what more we would want, you have brought us a feast! But thank you. "

They had only been in the place a few minutes, and the kindness of these strangers to Annie in particular was deeply touching, Elin reflected as she poured herself some tea. Not that the elves hadn't been kind - there were so few children among them now that they were liable to be too much indulged (which was Mithalwen's theory for her nephew and niece's waywardness), but a mortal child was to them so fleeting that they seemed to think that it could do no harm to give the child sweetmeats before supper and generally have her own way. Here they were treating Annie she guessed they would their own, and while a sick child was cosseted she would wager that a naughty one would be chastised. It was a taste of the normality she had craved for her, for them both.

Elin drizzled a generous serving of honey over a slice of buttered toast that and noted that Annie was making short work of her milk and "helping" the rabbit with his share. She bit in to the toast - perfection. The underside was still crisp while the top oozed melted butter and honey. Just then there was a crash. She turned to see that one of the hobbits had knocked over his mug of ale. A common enough occurrence in an Inn no doubt – though, perhaps, less so at this time of day. Clearly not all hobbits were as deft in their movement as Rowan and Penny. However the poor chap looked so mortified and forlorn that it was rather funny. Annie was giggling and even Elin had to bite her lower lip to stop herself, letting a trickle of honey run down her chin as a result.

“Stop it, don’t laugh, you’ll embarrass the poor man,” she hissed in Elvish to her daughter “you look a bit of a sight yourself “ . Annie’s upper lip was adorned with a moustache of milk and crumbs.
“So do you Ammë”, Annie gestured to the honey trail on Elin’s chin, and both had to stifle a fresh bout of giggles as they overheard Rowan speaking to the unfortunate hobbit. Clearly she was as feisty as she was friendly dependent on circumstance.

“It’s rude to point! Now Angharad, do you want jam or honey on your toast?” Elin asked trying to regain her composure and wiping her chn with her hankie.

“Djamb” said the girl happily despite her cold. Her mother usually smiled at her but her laugh was much rarer. Elin spooned the strawberry jam, jewel red and viscous over a piece and handed it over. It smelt delicious as if it had trapped the warmth and fragrance of summer. She would have jam on her next piece. But first there was the honeyed one to finish and the tea to drink. And they must try very hard not to gawp at the unfortunate hobbit’s attempts to repair the damage.

Annie’s energy was fading or the hot milk was proving sophorific as the child was curling herself up in the chair as she nibbled her toast, using her mother’s cloak as a pillow. If their room was ready, she would put her to bed for a bit. She wasn’t too worried about her now – her grandmother’s rule was that there wasn’t much wrong with a child that could eat. But sleep was the best cure for minor ailments. And she supposed she should apologise to that flustered hobbit lest he thought her rude.

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Old 03-10-2011, 04:40 PM   #844
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Iris & Prim

Prim motioned Tolly over with a smile, directing him first to the cupboard where the bowls were and next to the basket on the countertop which held the spoons. ‘Here you go, Master Bramble!’ She ladeled out a generous portion of savory beans, making sure to include some nice chunks of ham. ‘That should do you!!’ She motioned him to the kitchen’s table, then fetched a basket of warm biscuits and a little crock of butter.

‘Here’s a knife for your biscuits, and a plate, too’ she went on. ‘Light hand she has with the biscuits, don’t you think?’ she whispered quietly as she leaned down to put the plate by his bowl. ‘You know, I love the taste of your smoked trout,’ she continued in a more normal voice. ‘It’s the best around these parts. What is it you use – oak, a little apple, maybe?’

~*~

Iris rolled out the last batch of biscuits to a large thin mat. She basted the dough with butter and folded it over on itself, repeating the process two more times. Once cut, she transferred them to several baking pans and popped them into the waiting oven.

‘I think we can move those beans off the flame now, Prim.’ Iris surveyed the kitchen as she wiped her hands on the towel at her waist. ‘Hmmm . . . well we’re ready for the hungry hordes, yes?’ she said to no one in particular. ‘Prim, let’s you and I mince a few onions, in case somebody wants to spoon a few over their beans. My Pa always liked them that way, you know. Not my Ma, though. She said they stunk.’

‘So, what do you think, Tolly Bramble?’ She turned toward the Hobbit and arched her brows as he spooned up another big bite from his bowl. ‘You favor a little onion on your beans?’
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:29 PM   #845
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The server gave Al a skeptic look, before leaving for a minute to bring the things he needed for cleaning. When she came back, she gave some instructions on what to do with all the things after he is done. Al looked at the already large puddle on the floor that was spreading even more with an air of one who is doomed to endless suffering.

He just resolved himself to get down to the tedious business of cleaning when the server added in a friendlier tone, “Oh, I almost forgot. It’s Rowan – my name – Rowan.” She brushed aside a lock of brown hair that was in her face and went off to help another customer. “Don’t worry, Mistress Rowan,” Al said loudly to her when she was turning away, “I’ll make the floor shine!”

Mopping the floor was truly a tedious business. Although he didn’t make the floor shine by any stretch of imagination, Al tried his best to clean up the mess. He was sorely regretting his rash decision. Oh, what would the lads say, if they saw me, me, of all hobbits, wiping the floor of some tavern! The quick glances and stifled giggles from the other guests did not make it any better.

Finally, after putting away the mop, dustpan, and bucket, utterly miserable, Al came over to the bar. “My sincere apologies about all the mess, Master Boffin,” he said in a tired voice: mopping up the beer turned out to be a very hard job indeed. “If it’s not too much trouble, may I please have another pint? And some food? It’s just the right time for an early lunch.”
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Old 03-11-2011, 08:46 PM   #846
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Tolly passed a few pleasantries with Prim as he enjoyed his lunch. “So glad you like the trout,’ he beamed. And yes, he did use some oak, but mostly some applewood chips in the smoker. Gave it that mildly sweet aftertaste. He kept one eye on Miz Puddifoot, enjoying the economy of motion with which she went about her job. Light and flaky, indeed! he thought to himself, agreeing with Prim’s observations on the biscuits. He settled comfortably into his chair and scraped his bowl clean. Prim offered a refill and he was quick to take her up on it.

He nearly choked on his mouthful of biscuit and beans as Miz Puddifoot finished her question. ‘Onions?’ he squeaked out. Tolly grabbed for the mug of tea on the table and took a big swig, hoping to ease the uncooperative mass down his throat.

Was this some sort of test? A trick question meant to trip him up?

Tolly cleared his throat and took another sip of tea. ‘Well, Miz Puddifoot, I’m not averse to a good onion in connection with my food.’ He furrowed his brow and sneaked a quick peek at the cook. ‘But of course, a fellow does have to take into consideration whose company he’s in.’
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Old 03-12-2011, 09:13 AM   #847
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~ Time for Lunch! ~

The inn’s business this mid-day was picking up nicely Rowan thought as she and Penny busied themselves about the common room taking orders for food and drink. There was Hamish Greengage and his son Thom just coming through the doorway. Big folk from Bree way; most likely trading pigs for breeding with Gaffer Rushybanks. Best pigs in Stock – the Gaffer. In the whole Eastfarthing, really, in her opinion. Minto Bargepole and his brother, Griffo, sat at their usual table by the window. Bargemen from down Deephallow way. Bringing bundles of wool, sacks of hazelnuts from Willowbottom, and if she was lucky, a cask or two of that very fine barley-wine their cousins made. Tasty on the tongue, it was, and what a kick if you had too much. Like her Pa’s shaggy-eared old donkey.

Yes, the room was filling up - with familiar faces mixed with new. And all looking hungry and thirsty. Better throw a few chunks of wood on the fire, she thought. All that door opening was letting in the cold breezes.

Rowan thanked her lucky stars Miz Puddifoot had shown up and pitched in to do the cooking. If it were just her and Prim, the poor customers would most likely be getting nothing more than bread and cheese . . . and stale bread from yesterday, most likely.

She waved to Penny who was bustling about taking orders and clearing tables. Thanks goodness for another pair of hands out here!

‘Lunch is ready!’ She made the announcement in a clear, loud voice. ‘Beans stewed with onions and herbs and ham. And plenty of hot biscuits to fill in the empty corners!’ She smiled widely, taking in the room. ‘And for any who haven’t met her already, that’s Penny, our new server.’ She pointed to where Penny stood, a tray of used cups and plates and cutlery balanced on one hip as she wiped the table in front of her. ‘Rowan, here,’ she said, giving a brief wave. ‘Just call us over if you need something!’

Rowan hurried toward the kitchen and peeked her head in through the door. ‘Looks like we’ll have a full house, to day, ladies! Get ready to ladle out those beans!!’
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:32 PM   #848
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Reginald wasn't at all sure about his decision. He hadn't been since his legs had started to ache and he had grown tired of telling himself that he could not worry about what the darkness held. He needed only to keep his head about him. And his possessions close.

That first sleep -- which he had not settled down for until morning, so that he had a good distance between himself and Bree -- that had made him want to turn around and return home to his bed. But that would have only made things worse, and besides that, his legs had to carry him all the way back first.

He had made it into Shire lands now, and found himself slightly refreshed by the pleasant atmosphere of Hobbit holes and pastures. It was a little nice, in a way, to feel big, though he would never say that to a Hobbit. He had known a few in Bree, as acquaintances. But somehow it was different -- this was entirely the Hobbits' world that he was wandering into. He was a stranger in more ways than one, and that rather felt good.

Reginald could not stand another day without a real meal. He knew that he could not go throwing his coin away left and right, and that he had to learn to live on the road as adventurers did and such...but he deserved it today. He had made it long enough. And he could not pass by every Hobbit inn without enjoying their hospitality...this was part of seeing the Shire, certainly.

Having been directed quite flatly to the Golden Perch Inn in Stock (he apparently was rather blind to have missed the sign), Reginald gingerly stooped and entered and let his eyes adjust to the interior. He heard a woman shouting about beans and thought he would faint with hunger. He found an empty table and threw himself onto a bench, nearly ripping his cloak and bag off to unburden himself.

Glancing around the inn, he noticed at least one other woman of his stature if not necessarily his kind. "Could I have whatever it is I smell...you said something about beans?" he asked of the first Hobbit maid who came his way. Without really thinking about it, Reginald was putting on a good show of 'lost and pathetic.'
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Old 03-14-2011, 02:08 PM   #849
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Another of the Big Folk, Rowan noted, as the man in the brown cloak entered. And he looks as if he’d traveled a great distance she thought as he threw himself onto a bench and just as hastily threw off his cloak and dropped his satchel. He looked nearly done in and here it was only mid-day!

She fetched a big bowl of beans and ham and a basket of biscuits. ‘Better add some slices of cheese for those biscuits,’ she murmured to herself, ‘as well as butter and honey and jam. He might be very hungry after all his exertions!’ With a deft hand, she loaded her serving tray and hurried to the man’s table.

‘Here you go, sir,’ she said with a smile, laying his cutlery to one side and placing the food within reach. ‘I’m Rowan, by the way, one of the Inn servers. That other one over there is Penny.’

Rowan took a step back, her empty tray hanging down by her side. ‘Now, would you be wanting something to drink with that, sir? Ale, tea, milk, water…..?
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:16 PM   #850
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The question of onions was put aside as the lunch business began to pick up. Iris helped dish out beans for the hungry customers and lined the little baskets with fresh cloth napkins ready for the biscuits.

‘Let’s grab a quick bite here, Prim,’ she said, ladling out a small bowl of beans and ham for each of them. ‘We’ll just join you, Master Bramble,’ she went on, giving him a quick nod. She jumped up from her chair, even before she’d got comfortable. ‘Now, I do like my beans with a sprinkle of onions,’ she confided as she fetched a little bowl of them for the table. ‘Remind me, Prim, to cut some parsley from the herb pot over there on the window sill.’ She gave Tolly a little smile. ‘Freshens your breath right up I’ve always found.’
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Old 03-14-2011, 07:42 PM   #851
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Reginald stared at the spread being placed before him. It looked like he was getting the works! And at this point he didn't really care how much it cost. Those biscuits looked fresh.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said to the young hobbit woman -- at least she looked young to him -- giving her a smile with as much charm as he could muster in his state. "I'm Reginald," he offered his name, hoping afterward that Rowan would not find that strange but rather polite.

He thought for a moment before settling, "Just some water, please. I think that will do me best," he grinned a little sideways. Reginald immediately started loading up a biscuit with butter and cheese.
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Old 03-14-2011, 08:20 PM   #852
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By the time Elin finished her tea the Common Room was beginning to fill up. Start of the the lunchtime rush she realised. No place for a sick child. Rowan had pointed her in the direction of their room when she had come to clear the table and she had shepherded her sleepy daughter across to the doorway opposite the bar.

Elin was enchanted when she saw the room, not only was the room warm and welcoming with the brightly patterned quilts and the sweet vase of foliage but it seemed all possible wants had been anticipated. As she removed her boots and helped Annie out of hers, she reflected that hobbitfolk had little to learn about comfort and hospitality. Just as well since the child was about asleep on her feet. A bath could wait til later - a lick and a promise would have to do for now.
She dampened a face flannel and wiped over her daughter's face and hands. She peeled Annie out of her frock and then realised that she had left their luggage in the main room- "I won't be a moment, sweetheart, I just need to get our stuff". It took her barely a minute to retrieve the bags, creeping in stockinged feet, but when she returned to the bedroom Annie was already asleep, curled up on the little bed in her petticoats.
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Old 03-14-2011, 09:08 PM   #853
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The Sound and the Flurry . . .

A blast of cold air blew open the inn door sending a small covey of dried leaves skittering in along the wooden floor. Tap…tap…tap…

The sound of her yew walking stick and the flurry of leaves heralded the entrance of a rather elderly hobbit. ‘Cursed wind!’ she exclaimed, shoving her little body against the door in an effort to close it. ‘’Bout blew me over, it did!!’ For all her efforts, the large wooden door did not quite close.

‘Say!’ she called loudly in a rather put-out voice. ‘Can someone give old Granny a hand here?’

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Old 03-15-2011, 03:49 PM   #854
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An aged hobbit came into the inn, bringing more wind into the cosy room. But this time it was too strong for her to close the door by herself. ‘Say!’ she said to the room at large, ‘Can someone give old Granny a hand here?’ Oh bother!

However, Al stood up and strutted towards the exit, while Mr. Boffin poured him some beer. Together he and the elderly hobbit managed to shut the door. “I’m Alferad Brandybuck,” he introduced himself with a small bow, which nonetheless came out extravagant, “Of Brandy Hall,” he added with a sly glance at Hamwill. He then went back to the bar to drink his pot of ale.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:05 PM   #855
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‘Alferad, is it?’ Granny called out, tottering after the retreating hobbit’s back. ‘Of Brandy Hall, too!’ She scooted up to the bar next to him. ‘My stars and garters!’ she chuckled, as she looked up at him. ‘You are a tall drink of water, aren’t you, lad?’

The innkeeper had poured her usual half-pint of dark stout and set it near her. Granny took a hefty swig of the fine brew and set it back on the counter. ‘Now where’s my manners! I wanted to say thank-you for your kind assist. I’m Penstemon Greenhill, by the way, but you can call me Granny Greenhill – most do round here. From down south along the Stock.’

Granny took up her mug and looked up at the young fellow as she took another savoring sip. ‘Now, I know The Perch has got the finest ale in the Eastfarthing . . . but what brings such a fine looking lad from the grand Brandy Hall here to this little place. Must seem kind of back-woodsy and a little, well, slow . . .’
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Old 03-17-2011, 05:00 PM   #856
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It seemed to Al that the hobbit lady was making fun of every part of him that she knew. This succeeded in making him even more morose and irritated. At least she didn’t see how I wiped the floor! Al drank his beer, and had to acknowledge it as the finest that he had ever tasted. That cheered him up a little, but he was still fuming.

“Now where’s my manners!” So very kind of her to remember! She looks like she’ll actually search the room for them! Al just restrained himself from rolling his eyes.

She introduced herself, and continued with a faint hint of curiosity in her voice, “Now, I know The Perch has got the finest ale in the Eastfarthing . . . but what brings such a fine looking lad from the grand Brandy Hall here to this little place. Must seem kind of back-woodsy and a little, well, slow…” Al found himself at loss of what to say. Granny Greenhill hit it right on when she mentioned the beer, and a little more so with her remark about Stock’s rustiness compared to his home. It would not be nice to admit so, especially right in front of Mr. Boffin. He couldn’t think of a good story either: Al wasn’t prepared for such a direct question, with no way of going around it. More so because she didn’t ask; she just said it as a fact!

“Well…” he begun, somewhat lamely, “Er… Why not? Some quiet life never hurt anyone…” Al knew that his explanation didn’t sound convincing, especially because he himself didn’t believe it. To cover his confusion, he continued on quickly. “I’m just staying here for a few days, on my way to Tookbank. I am going for a visit to my family there.” Al drunk the rest of his ale in one big gulp. He noticed that Ganny Greenhill still didn’t really thank him.
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:56 PM   #857
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‘Now, Granny,’ Rowan said, coming to Alferad’s assistance. She noted he seemed just a little flustered talking with the old gammer. ‘Don’t be bothering this nice lad.’ She hooked her arm through Granny Greenhill’s and gave her an appraising look. ‘Why he even helped clean up a spill someone made – saved me or Penny from having to do it.’

‘She can be an awful tease sometimes!’ She nodded to Alferad. ‘Get you all in a twist if you don’t watch yourself.’

Rowan steered Granny to a table near the fire. ‘Keep your bones warm, Granny! How about I bring you a bowl of beans and ham and some biscuits with honey to go with that mug of stout?’ She leaned in closer to the old hobbit, whispering loud enough for her to hear. ‘Fortune has smiled on us and brought us a new cook!’

As she hurried by Alferad on her way to the kitchen, Rowan paused and took up his empty mug. ‘Looks like you could use a refill, eh? You deserve it after jousting with Granny.’
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Old 03-19-2011, 04:47 PM   #858
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Fortunately for Al, Rowan happened to come by. She led Granny Greenhill away to the fireplace. Al did not like how she called him a “nice lad”, though. It sounded as though she was talking about a child. And her mention of his help cleaning up was unnecessary, he thought. At least Rowan didn’t say that I made that mess!

Al didn’t know whether to be angry or thankful to Rowan; for now, he was just feeling embarrassed. He finally decided that she did him a favour. If it wasn’t for Rowan, Granny Greenhill would still be asking me these questions! Just like Rowan said, - what was it? – “you get all in a twist” when you talk to her. She’s a queer type – she seems to know what a hobbit’s thinking by looking at ‘em!

After leaving Granny, Rowan came back to Al. He truly appreciated her offer of more beer. “Thank you muchly! That would be splendid! Could you also bring me some food?”
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Old 03-20-2011, 02:11 PM   #859
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Penny

It was Penny who brought out the orders for Alferad and Granny Greenhill. Rowan had asked Penny to do this while she and Prim readied the dirtied utensils and bowl and mugs to be washed.

Let’s see, now she thought to herself as she scanned the room. Oh, there he is – the one in the rather grand blue vest with the brown curls She hurried over to Alferad’s table and set the meal carefully before him. ‘I’m Penny,’ she said as she did so. ‘Rowan said to bring you a mug of ale, too,’ she continued, putting his drink to the side of his bowl. ‘Enjoy! And just holler out for more if you’re still hungry!’

She hoisted her tray carefully and made a beeline toward the elder hobbit lady by the fire. ‘Miz Greenhill?’ She smiled at the older woman. ‘I’m Penny. Rowan’s sent me out with your lunch.’ Beans with ham, a small side dish of onions, biscuits with butter and honey, and a pot of strong sweetspice tea were soon set out in array. ‘Now is there anything else you might be needing?’
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Old 03-20-2011, 03:48 PM   #860
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Granny smacked her lips appreciatively at the feast laid before her. ‘Now there’s someone who knows how to serve beans!’ she said, sprinkling a generous helping of onions over them.

‘’Penny, you say,’ she went on, breaking open a hot biscuit and slathering it with honey and butter. ‘Did you just move hereabouts?’ She eyed the lass up and down. ‘I have a grandson ‘bout your age, mebbe a tad older.’ Granny gave Penny a knowing smile. ‘You married yet, girl? Or spoken for?’

The old hobbit took a bite of her biscuit and munched happily away as she waited for the lass to answer.
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:32 PM   #861
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Tolly took the instruction in stride. Take the water out to the fellow with the red-blonde hair. Man from out Bree way Rowan thought. No, he didn’t want ale, she’d said.

He stopped by the ale cask and drew himself another mug of the Perch’s finest. And what the heck, he thought, why not offer another to the man he was bringing the little jug of water. What man didn’t like ale and wouldn’t really want it over some mug of plain well-water.

Reginald, isn’t it?’ he asked, setting the water jug and mug down on the table. ‘Miz Rowan asked me to bring it out to you.’ He set the mug of ale next to the water and slid it closer to the man. ‘Thought you might like a drink of this, too. Goes good with those beans Cook has done up for lunch.’

‘I’m Tolly, Tolly Bramble from Willowbottom. Mind if I sit down with you and drink my own mug with you?’ He looked at Reginald and then back toward the kitchen. ‘Good to be out here with a chance to sit and sip and relax a bit. Those women in the back always have something for a fellow to do if it looks like your getting too settled back.’
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Old 03-20-2011, 06:45 PM   #862
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Seredic watched over the activity in the common room with a benign and watchful eye, refilling mugs as they came to his hand, and ensuring that all his guests were happy. He kept a particular eye on two guests – Ibin, the tall fellow who had nearly caused such a racket with the two rangers before things started picking up, and this young upstart from Buckland who seemed to take everything and everyone as an insult. He was glad that Rowan took the young hobbit lad in hand. She had such a good way with these customers that Dick never could probably manage. She would sooth their ruffled tempers and put all to rights before anyone knew quite what had happened.

Nearby sat Granny Greenhill, another faithful customer of the inn, like old Mr. Burrower, who, Dick noticed just now, had apparently gotten up and gone on his way. He’d be back the next morning, sure as certain. Granny was pestering Penny just now about whether or not she was married. Dick stepped over to stand opposite her.

“Now, now, Granny,” he said. “Don’t go asking questions like that to lassies you don’t know. You might scare Penny off, and that’d hardly do, as she’s related to our new Cook! What would become of us then! Besides, what would your grandson think of being auctioned off the first new girl you came across his age?”
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:13 PM   #863
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‘Well now, that’s just it isn’t it, Master Boffin. Sometimes the young lads just don’t think. Better they’re steered in the right direction than just go willy-nilly into some romantical thing.’ She shook her finger at the Innkeeper as if he should know this by now.

Granny Greenhill laughed and clapped her hands as if to clear the air. ‘Tis a pretty young lass, Miz Penny here. And look how she’s taken on the responsibility of serving here in the Inn. What young buck in his right mind would not take a first look at her . . . . and his mother a second and third?’
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Old 03-20-2011, 07:57 PM   #864
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Seredic turned wide eyes to Penny and then back to Granny. “Well, I can hardly say, you know, I’m not a mother, and I already have a wife of my own, and wouldn’t care to take any first look at anybody else. But, if you must ask, you must, I guess. Go ahead and tell her, Penny. . .” He had no idea what Penny’s answer would be, and he didn’t really care. He stepped away to help the next customer, muttering to himself,

“Those women folk are all the same young or old, trying to pair each other up like there’s not enough hobbit pairs around to populate all the Shire and all the Shire’s neighboring lands. Well, well, if I can’t help Penny out of this mess by telling Granny to mind her own business, I guess Penny’ll have to find her own way out.”
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Old 03-21-2011, 11:54 AM   #865
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Reginald was a little slow to look up from his food. He swallowed and smiled at the seemingly middle-aged Hobbit. "Thank you, sir." He expected the Hobbit to move on to another table as he had an extra mug or two, but it seemed he wasn't a regular server.

Reginald glanced at the ale mug, hoping it was 'on the house,' but continued to smile. "Not at all, Mister Bramble," he said, grinning a little crookedly at Tolly's remark about the women in the kitchens. "Though I doubt it will be easy to hide from them for long. Women seem to have additional senses when it suits them."

He was not good with women, about all he knew to do was give them a nice smile which only went so far. It was much easier to joke about them. He should be one of those knowing men nearing middle age, who'd been married for a time and could talk about all the things his wife did, make empty complaints, and declare how a man should handle a woman when he in fact bent over backwards for his woman at home. Though there was always the less pleasant sort, as well.

Reginald took a spoonful of the soup and eyed the mug of ale. He needed some water in him, but there was no way he could snub this Tolly and ignore the drink. He took what he considered a healthy drink from the mug of ale, though he wasn't one to knock back a drink in big gulps. It did compliment the smoky beans and ham well.
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Old 03-26-2011, 10:28 PM   #866
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Penny

Oh my! Penny bit the inside of her lip to resist blurting out a response. Think, girl! What’s the best way to answer?

The old Gran reminded her strongly of her Great-great aunt on her father’s side, Aunt Hortensia. Plain-spoken and to the point. And not unkindly meant. Penny took a deep breath.

‘Well, Granny, if you don’t mind me being forward and calling you that. The answer to your first question is “no”. I’m not married. And, “no”, I’m not spoken for either.’

She pulled out the chair nearest the elder hobbit and sat down. ‘Hadn’t you better tell me a little about this grandson of yours? I certainly can’t decide if I might like to meet him if I don’t know a thing about him . . . now, can I?’ Penny leaned forward, her chin resting on her hand.
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Old 04-06-2011, 08:26 PM   #867
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Al gobbled down his beans and biscuits. They were the best that he had tasted in a while. The mug of beer was not forgotten either.

“Miz Penny!” he called over to the young hobbit who was engaged in a conversation with Granny Greenhill, “Seconds for me, if you would!”

Just as the words left his lips, Al realized that interrupting them wasn’t the best idea, especially since Granny was involved. But Penny said to ‘oller if I want anything. So I ‘ollered. There can’t be anything wrong with that! She’d probably be glad to get rid of Granny for a while. She would much rather talk to me than the snide old stump!
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Old 04-18-2011, 05:19 PM   #868
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Elin smiled as she covered her daughter's sleeping form with one of the soft wool blankets. It wasn't that she loved Annie more when she was asleep, just that when she was awake she tended to keep her mother too busy to fully appreciate her. She smoothed a tendril of hair way from the dear little face and made sure that Isildur's ear wasn't trapped under the blanket - something he hated according to Angharad.

The toy rabbit was a poor thing really, Elin thought. She had worked it from a remnant of cloak felt to occupy her hands and distract her mind in the last fretful days before Annie's birth, when all was ready save the child herself. She had made other toys later with a more practised and less anxious hand but none had ever given the rabbit much competition for Annie's affections. And it was just as well that the child wasn't attached to many possessions given that they were travelling increasingly light. Some things had been lost when they abandoned Ithilien and most of her remaining possessions had gone back to Dol Amroth without her, while her cabin trunk was safe with the elves at Mithlond. Now they were down to a couple of bags one of which was just little satchel containing Annie's treasures.

She was tempted to stay in the little room, it was so cozy and comforting but Elin felt she should go and apologise to the hobbit who had spilt his beer. She was sure he must have noticed Annie and herself fail to muffle their giggles. Elin unbuckled her travelling bag and extracted her knitting - a half finished sock for Annie in bright blue wool and after a last check that Annie was still asleep she made her way back to the common room. With a bit of luck once she had made amends she would find a seat within earshot of the guest wing.

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Old 04-19-2011, 09:25 AM   #869
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Without checking if Penny heard his request or not, Al turned to the entrance of the hallway, from which the dark-haired woman that he'd seen before came out. Colour rose to his cheecks, though he knew not why. She came straight to where he sat. Al knew that he should say something, a greeting, perhaps, but he couldn't quite get the words out. Finally, when it was clear that the woman is heading towards him and not anyone else, Al stuttered, "Good day, my lady. Alferad Brandybuck to your service. Well, no one realy calls me that," he added after a pause, "It's Al. Just Al."

I sound like an empty-headed fool! Why can't I think of anything with more sense, so that she'd see that I have some?

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Old 04-21-2011, 03:09 PM   #870
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If Elin had any doubts about approaching the hobbit, they were rendered pointless by his salutation. She was still not sure this was a good idea - he might not want to be reminded of the incident but she had no option but to speak to him. But what should she say? Even his rather formal greeting daunted her for a moment. She wondered what she should say in the absence of a surname - should she reference relatives she no longer had or places where she no longer lived? It seemed rather futile. When he said "just Al" she relaxed.

"My name is Elintiriel" she answered making a curtsey that brought her close to his level for a moment, "But I am called Elin. I wanted to make sure you were alright after your mishap earlier - I am sure it happens all the time but you seemed rather put out" she continued feeling that she shouldn't have started this conversation and she was getting deeper in with every word.

She gazed out across the common room seeking inspiration but only saw the disparate clientele, the bar, the door to the kitchen. Something clicked in her mind. Mithalwen had told her about the cook who had disappeared. Her name was Brandybuck too and despite all sorts of investigations and enquiries noone had much idea what had become of her. Elin checked herself before she raised a topic surely more sensitive than a spilt pot of ale and stood awkwardly by the hobbit's table. She might be ready for something stronger than a cup of tea by the time she extricated herself from this.
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Old 04-25-2011, 08:25 AM   #871
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Al felt his ears getting redder with every word. Did she have to bring it up? Haven't I embarassed myself enough already without her talking about it, even if she's doing it nicely? Al avoided Elin's eyes and stared at his feet.

The words of comfort didn't make Al feel much better either. Elin's soft voice faded. The silence was unnatural, as if a creek had ceased it's flow. Al looked up. She seemed to be in as much confusion as he. Her thoughtful gaze went around the room. Al was overwhelmed by the aura of unconquered sorrow that radiated from the woman. He knew he should say something, to break the silence, if not to show some manners, but for the first time in his life Al could not say anything. He gaped at the woman, utterly speechless.

Finally, telling himself to stop his nonesense, he cleared his throat and pointing to a chair next to him said, "Maybe you should sit down, Mistress Elin?"
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:06 PM   #872
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‘Now he’s about thirty-five. Little bit older’n you . . .’

Between generous bites of beans and biscuits and sips of sweetspice tea to wash it all down, Granny drew what she hoped was an interesting picture of her grandson. She was too plainspoken and honest to embellish his good points beyond the truth. But being his Nana Penny, she was not above polishing the positive so it outshone the negative.

‘Sure as sweet honey from a happy hive, my Rob’s a fine lad!’ Granny said winding up her recital. She leaned back in her chair and fetched the pipeweed pouch from her apron pocket. ‘’Bout covered everything, Miz Penny,’ she concluded, tamping the pipeweed down into the pipe bowl. ‘Sparked your interest, lass?’
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:14 AM   #873
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Elin's heart sank a little at the invitation. She felt that the hobbit was as uncomfortable as she was but she couldn't see how she could refuse - she knew noone here save the inn-staff as yet and she could hardly decline to go and sit on her own, neither could she immediately retrace her steps to the sanctuary of her room without seeming odd.

"Well if you are sure it won't incommode you", Elin lowered herself into the indicated chair reminding herself that she could excuse herself on the pretext that she needed to check on Annie. Which wouldn't exactly be untrue. She smoothed her dress over her knees and tucked her knitting by her side. She had a feeling that Alferad would not appreciate her dividing her attention between him and a half finished sock however pretty the wool. She wondered what she could do to ease the tension that had increased seemingly with every word she had previously uttered - compared to Penny and Rowan he seemed a very prickly hobbit. The name Brandybuck struck another bell in the woman's mind.

"I am afraid I have offended you," she didn't give him a chance to answer before she continued, "If I have please forgive me - I am but lately arrived in this land and its customs and courtesies are new to me - but I am told that the Brandybucks are an important family in these parts so I am sure that there is much you could tell me ..." Elin's voice tailed off hoping both that the combination of flattery and humility would appease the miffed hobbit.
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Old 04-27-2011, 07:59 AM   #874
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Al's heart sank. Not that he felt much more at ease after Elin apologized - Some Big Folk do have sense! - and very important at her later words, but he has been through a talk about Brandy Hall once before today. Al felt a drop of his old annoyance at Hamwill seep in. He didn't have any sense in him, that Hamwill. He's queer. He's silly.

"The Brandybucks, well, they're that," Al replied, trying to sound humble and conversational, "Brandybucks. Most of us live in Brandy Hall - the bestest place in the Shire, nay, in all of Middle Earth - if you want to know. And we got the best River, and the best Hill, and the best inns... except for this one, that is."
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:59 AM   #875
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Elin fought hard to maintain her composure scarce knowing if she should laugh or cry - was there nothing one could say to this hobbit that didn't get him agitated? Some devilment in her longed to ask about the extensive travels he must have made to be able to make such assertions with authority but she guessed he had little in the way of a sense of humour and even the slightest hint of teasing would be taken as mortal insult.

Dead pan she answered. "I have heard tell that the beer here is excellent - though I am no expert to judge in such matters myself - and the staff have been all kindness to myself and my daughter, for which I am most grateful. I have been much impressed by what I have seen so far of the Shire, so Buckland must be a fine place indeed. Though I have not yet seen your river Baranduin or what lies beyond". She had thought of mentioning that she had lived by a river herself - but she feared that merely to utter the names of other places might be taken as an insult to those he had mentioned so proudly. He really was about the hardest person to talk to that she had ever met. Elin hoped he would either relax a little or some opportunity for escape would arise.

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Old 04-27-2011, 05:58 PM   #876
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"Baranduin"... what a queer way to call our Brandywine! It sounds Elvish, and it doesn't sound like it means anything, Al thought, but he kept his opinion on the name to himself.

Other than that, Elin's reply has been most satisfactory. Al shifted himself into a more comfortable position and voiced his agreement:

"Buckland is a place worth coming to, even if it means a bit more walking. You won't find anything like Brandy Hall in the whole Shire!" Which is completely true, since we have the River! There's also the Marish on the other side of it, but Stock and Rushey are simply no match for Brandy Hall. Al grinned encouragingly. He considered mentioning Hamwill's interest in the land, but the man was better left alone. I've had enough of his nonesense!

"The beer here is truly excellent, as you say - more than that," Al continued, "It's better than that. It's the best beer I've ever tasted!"

Elin did not comment on this, so Al went on with his next idea. "Our River is the best you can find. It's the only river of the Shire - those little puddles that you might have seen aren't truly rivers, you know. They don't have enough water in them. Now we often go boating in the Brandywine, but some of us know how to swim without the boats. I tried it, and I could do it rather well... better than my cousin, at any rate," Al cleared his throat, and continued, "Have you ever tried to swim?"

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Old 04-28-2011, 10:59 PM   #877
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Goldie stepped into the Golden Perch carefully. As much as she loved spending time with the small folk, their architecture frequently had a small problem… low ceilings. This Malthenihim wasn't as bad as all that. If the big folk could handle it, the fair folk might try.

Priorities? Song? Conversation? Her research project, of course. Then there was food. Conversation, she thought. She listened, lingering briefly at the door. Ah. The mighty river Brandywine, and swimming? There was a brave adventurous hobbit here. How unusual.

Was he perhaps worth a song?

She stepped forward cautiously, trying to meet as many eyes as possible.

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Old 04-30-2011, 03:33 PM   #878
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Elin felt that to comment on Al's experience of beer might lead her in to dangerous territory - she didn't trust him not to infer from some harmless remark that she thought him an incipient drunkard. However his subsequent question turned the tables and it was the woman who was discomfitted. She coloured slightly until she realised that, unlike the elves with whom she had been staying, the hobbit did not seem able to see her thoughts - and perhaps just as well.

She had learnt to swim as a child living at her grandparents' farm on the banks of the Morthond and then when she had been sent to Dol Amroth swimming in the sea had provided a precious sense of freedom absent in her restricted life in the city. Her stuffy aunt had not approved of an activity carried out in, what she termed a state of near undress, but she had not forbidden it.

And it had been returning from a swim early one summer morning eight...no nine summers ago that she had first met Anborn - something else that her aunt hadn't approved of. But then the list of things that grand lady did approve of was conspicuously short. Elin momentarily wondered what would happen if the twain ever met - they would either be in perfect concord or dissolve in indignation she suspected. But her reverie had caused too long a pause in conversation,

She smiled at Al. "I have - and also with some success. More so than with boating certainly. I was shown howand can manage a punt but I was lazy and let my cousins and later my brother row or sail and never gained any skill at it. But I liked swimming and since I have lived most of my life by rivers or the sea have had the opportunity. Of course the Mor.." Elin stopped remembering that Al seemed to bristle slightly when she had called the Brandywine by its proper name, "I mean the River Blackroot , is probably not as great as the Brandywine". She had also swum in the Anduin but she wasn't going to mention something she would have to translate as "The Great River". "Maybe I shall teach Annie next summer if it is warm enough" she shivered a little a draught reaching her back from the opened door.
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Old 04-30-2011, 06:19 PM   #879
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What? Al was very surprised when Elin aswered affirmatively. He expected her to modestly shake her head, maybe - nay, surely - to praise him for being able to do such a thing as swimming... And anyways, are ladies supposed to swim?

Al was so absorbed in his indignation that he hardly paid attention to what Elin was telling him about her experience boating. He turned his thought to her words again when she stumbled on a word, and the melody of her speech stopped flowing for a moment.

"I mean the River Blackroot , is probably not as great as the Brandywine," Elin continued. Most definitely so! Al mentally approved, Brandywine is the biggestest river here. Hmph, the only river! How can this... Blackroot be greater? The very idea seemed ridiclous. This made Al wonder which river is Elin talking about, for he could not recall any such name - and Al prided himself in his knowledge of the map of Shire.

When Elin finished, her voice gradually fading into silence, Al asked the question that was nagging at him: "Mistress Elin, If you do not mind me asking this, where is the River Blackroot that you speak of? The name is unfamiliar to me."

Al felt a chill coming from the direction of the door and turned look what was it this time. He saw an Elven maid with long golden hair, ruffled by the wind, and eyes of deep grey. Not another of the Fair Folk! They are fair, tis said true, but they have no business wandering in the Shire! Our Shire! Yet, despite these thoughts, Al couldn't help it but gape at the newcomer. Her eyes swept the room until she looked into his. Al's ears reddened. After a long moment, very self-couciously, he made a point of turning his back on the door and facing Elin again.

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Old 04-30-2011, 08:19 PM   #880
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She had been seen. She could tell. The big eyes, slack jaw and red ears gave it away. She would have to tell the poor little thing she couldn't help it. She was Maltheniel, the Golden Girl. She was a minstrel. She was supposed to draw the eye.

But it was sadly too easy to draw someone's eye too much.

She was unknown here. She absolutely couldn't get away with imitating the hip swaying walk of the human city women who greeted the sailors newly returned from the sea. As they didn't know her, someone might take the invitation seriously. Neither could she imitate the aloof dignity of her elders, putting on her armor of detachment that would protect him from improper thoughts at the cost of distancing herself from everyone in the room. She would like to stay. She would like to sing. She would have to…

Well, that was rude. Goldie knew she was kind of scary to some sorts, more frightful than an orc perhaps, in her own way, but turning his back on her?

She laughed, spontaneously, in b flat major, not at him, but at herself. Let no one take themselves seriously, least of all, herself.

Walking up behind the halfling, Goldie met the eyes of the human woman sitting opposite. "My pardon. I am, alas, myself. Goldie. Goldie Seasong. Is this one often like this?"
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