A Walk in the Shire - Halloween..... golden sawdust.... cakes and tea galore!
Ana's four year old sister Faith stomped up the stairs as if she were trying to bring the house down.
"I'm coming!" Ana smiled good-naturedly and quickly did the clasp on her navy blue cloak.
She had declared that year that she was too old for trick or treating, and her parents wasted no time in hiring her to take Faith and give them a relaxing Halloween for once. After all, Ana was thirteen, and very responsible. She would just take the adorable little Faith in her hobbit costume around the neighborhood as if she were the mom. Which comes to the costumes.
After TFotR had come into theatures, Ana had decided to watch it. Because of the violence, Faith hadn't been allowed to go, but Ana had happily told her about the Ringbearer, the elves, hobbits, goblins, Gandalf and more. As the days of repeated explanations of the glorious plot wore on, Ana and Faith had become thoroughly obsessed.
Ana was very proud of her new role of taking care of Faith, and she felt very grownup as she added the last touches to her "costume"; a short sword (sheathed of course) and a hood that framed her tan face, black hair, and dark eyes just right. She was just grabbing her flashlight and a glowstick for Faith when her little sister banged loudly on the door.
"Come on, you slowpoke!" she shouted, "All the good stuff'll be gone by the time you stop kissing your mirror! I'm leaving!"
Ana whirled around and grabbed the doorknob before Faith had even had a chance to stalk down the staircase.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," she said, "I wasn't kissing my mirror, either. Besides, if you left without me, all the goblins and orcs who come out on Halloween will get you."
"They won't! They're all in Middle Earth, not here. We're too far away."
"Nuh uh! During Halloween, the two places come so close together that you can hop over three feet and get to the other one. You have to have someone grown up, like me, to keep you safe."
Ana handed Faith her glowstick, and because she was too exited to argue, they were soon on their way.
Ana was always happy to show off her costume to the people who came to admire her. The younger kids would stare up in awe while the grown ups stated that Faith was absolutely darling.
Ana watched fondly as Faith bounded off to each new house with ever mounting excitement.
"Hey, Ana!" Faith asked, "Can we go through the field to get to the next house?"
"Well, I suppose the field is pretty well lit. What do you say we go to Kate Burling's house, and you can play for a few minutes while I talk to my friends?"
Kate was Faith's best friend, and her older sister, Lizzy, was Ana's. Faith quickly agreed, and broke into a run, pumping her four year old legs as quickly as she could. Within two minutes of what was to Ana a light trot, they got to the Burling's home.
Poor Lizzy was being kept quite busy on the front lawn, because Kate was making her be the slave for the mighty Princess Kate of Kateland. She was very happy to go for a walk while Kate and Faith played.
As they chatted about just about anything under the sun, Lizzy heard some other friends calling her.
"Be right back!" she yelled, and began running towards them.
Ana was left to entertain herself for the next ten minutes while the other teenagers laughed and talked. For some reason she didn't know, Ana wasn't so popular, so her only real friend was Lizzy, who was kind of half and half. But that was enough for Ana, who wasn't exactly a social butterfly in the first place.....
As she slowly scraped her foot along the road, Ana noticed a small object, maybe a hundred feet away, right on the yellow line. Being curious by nature; maybe it would lead to some kind of game if it wasn't really anything, she decided to have a look.
She reached down to pick up the little black bundle. Inside was what looked like a container of sawdust. Now thoroughly puzzled, she brought it into the yellow circle of a street lamp. It wasn't anything special. Remembering a little poem she had read somewhere, and being really bored, she threw a handful of the dust into the air and chanted,
Dust gold and bright,
Lead me to a land of delight.
Where danger is true,
But hope and happiness dwell too.
Obviously, nothing happened. Ana grinned at how childish she was being, set down the bundle again, and started walking back towards Lizzy.
Hobbit costumes must really be in style she thought, for there to be so many children dressed like this. For she had just noticed how many hobbit costumes there were. And so realistic! She smiled and continued down the old country road, nodding at those cute little kids with tightly curled hair. Because of their bare feet (what people will let children do these days!) she could see that they had all scribbled on there feet with markers to make hobbit hair.
Ana thought she must have taken a wrong turn or something, because she didn't recognize any of the houses on this block. Many of them look rather like hills.
A tiny little girl, probably a toddler, came running up to her. "Are you an elf?" she asked in awe.
"Am I a what?"
"An elf!" The little girl clasped her hands in front of her brown skirt and added, "They've been around here a little bit, but I've never seen one before."
Ana didn't know what the child was talking about, so she just smiled and walked on. The she realized....
Am I really in the Shire? Ana thought, This must be a dream. I was just walking down the road. Just to be sure, she pinched herself, hard. It hurt a lot, and Ana could feel the mounting excitement as she remembered those maps in the TLotR books she had taken so much trouble to memorize. She looked around again. I must be in Crickhollow! Of all the good luck, the dust had landed her here. But what year is this? What if this is way before Frodo's time, or way after?
Her question was soon answered, when she saw who could only be Pippin Took.
Wait a minute, how do I know that's Pippin? He's sitting over there with Merry, but how did I recognize him? I've never seen them before.
She continued walking, and soon noticed there were a lot of hobbits staring at her. To avoid their puzzled gazes as much as possible, she quickly ducked behind a hedge. It was dark out, but Ana had good eyes, and she quickly noticed another hobbit, strolling with his hands in his pockets, and whistling a merry tune..... he was a long way away, but Ana quickly recognized him. Sam! He was heading towards a small, but well kept home, which for some reason Ana immediately knew was Frodo's. How do I know what Frodo's home looks like, and Sam, when I've never seen them before? This is really weird.
Ana decided to stay behind the hedge for the night. Maybe things would make more sense in the morning.
Ana woke up sore from being curled up in a ball all night. She realized that there was no way this could be November 1st, it was way too warm. She leaned back, letting the prickles of the hedge support her weight. Maybe I can find someone and ask him the date, she thought. No, not unless it's Frodo or Sam or someone. Maybe I can find one of them from here. Ana found a thin spot in the hedge and gazed intently through it to the road.
The next morning, Frodo decided to go for a walk and ease the thoughts in his mind. After all, the sun was shining very brightly, and he felt that the moment he got outside, the warm light would drive all dark thoughts from his mind. He walked along the warm sunny road, past another hobbit's home, and stopped at the hedge. Right here was a nice place to enjoy a day like this, and he had just seated himself in the soft grass when from behind him he heard:
"Mr. Baggins, if I may have a word?"
Frodo was on his hairy feet in a second, slightly startled, but attempting to be polite at the same time.
Before he even had a chance to ask in a hobbity way where the voice was coming from, a big person, perhaps five feet tall, stepped out from behind the hedge.
"I'm sorry if I startled you." She smiled. "But I would just like to ask you if I could speak with you. My name is Ana."
"Of--of course. Would you like to come and have tea?"
"That would be very kind of you, if it's not too much trouble."
"Come, then." Frodo nodded at the strange girl, Ana, and lead her to his house.
Back to Ana
Ana smiled inwardly as she followed Frodo. She was going to have tea with the Ringbearer! She was careful to keep her steps as quiet as possible; she had read the first few paragraphs or so of Tolkien's note at the beginning of The Hobbit, and she felt that she stuck out enough without making noise. Luckily, she was a great admirer of elves, and had spent much of her free time practicing walking gracefully and quietly.
She was also very hungry, because she hadn't eaten anything since yesterday. Knowing that Hobbits often, if not always, had cakes or something under that category with tea, Ana was content at the thought of tea.
And of course, she would have to remember to talk much differently than she was used to. She didn't want to stick out too much.
The topic of conversation was not much to speak of. But once, Ana let the mention of the Ring slip. Frodo stared at her.
"How do you know about the ring?"
It was a tight spot. Ana had asked Frodo when he would leave for Rivendell.
"I am a distant friend of Gandalf. But he will not know me by my name. He met me once.... in the mines of Moria."
Ana managed to stutter it out. It actually sounded slightly believable. Ana kept silent, praying that Frodo would buy it. To her relief, he did.
"If that is the case," he paused then continued, "Then will you come with us to Rivendell?"
Ana almost shouted for joy. She could be a great help, because she already knew what would happen on the way, and what troubles they would face. She would have a little more trouble when Strider came into the scene, but she could worry about that when she got to it. Somehow, she managed to keep herself under control, more or less.
A little smile quivering on Ana's lips, she nodded. "Of course I'll come. I may be of help."