An Aussie in King Aragorn's Court ~ Part 23 - Torture Most Foul

Torture Most Foul

Morning struck the chamber where Coralie was sleeping in all its bright glory as it softly tapped upon her eyelids, beckoning her to wake. She lay there for a moment contemplating rolling over and snuggling under the covers a little longer, when she heard muffled giggling from the foot of her bed. She smiled to herself, and pretended to snore loudly into the pillow.

Suddenly, she was wide-awake as four bodies launched themselves through the air and landed on top of her.

"No! No!" She shrieked as the four children tore the covers off, and set to tickling her. Támurile had managed to catch one foot in her hand and was delightedly feathering her fingers up and down the bare insole of her foot, whilst Séretur held the other in his grip, fluttering his fingers around her toes. Márinde and Intyalle alternatively tickled her under her arms. Screaming, Coralie rolled off the bed and dove underneath, in a vain attempt to escape. The children were not to be so easily put off, and retained their grip on her limbs, and kept tickling with all their might.

The door flew suddenly open, as Legolas ran into the chamber alerted by the commotion. Quickly surveying the scene, a huge grin spread across his face as he noted Coralie's bare feet sticking out from under the bed, with two Elvish children intent on administering as much delightful torture as possible. The other two, still held onto her arms as they stretched her underneath the width of the bed, so she could not defend herself. They looked up momentarily and relaxed, at the large smile he wore, and realised with great joy, that he would not admonish them, but rather by his silent signal would join in on the fun.

Setting his finger to his lips, he crept over to where Támurile was relishing every shriek from Coralie as she attempted to writhe out of her grasp. She giggled as she handed Coralie's foot over to Legolas, who then set about tickling her foot in her place.

"Stop! No! Stop! Please! I can't take anymore!" she cried hysterically as Támurile wiggled underneath the side of the bed to where her head was.

"So Princess," she laughed. "Do you yield?"

"Yield? Yes, of course! I give in!!" cried Coralie in response.

"You will do whatever we ask, then?" asked Támurile grinning wickedly as she waited for Coralie to realise that it was someone else who now tickled her foot and not she.

"Yes! Yes! I will do whatever you ask!" laughed Coralie hysterically. "Only stop! Please!.... Hey! Who's got my other foot? There were only four of you! Who's there? "

The children all screamed as Legolas suddenly jumped up and pretended to come bursting into the room.

"What's going on here?" he demanded in mock anger. The children all leapt to their feet as Coralie crawled out from under her bed.

"It was you!" she screamed. Legolas tried to assume his most pious expression, as the dishevelled Coralie advanced upon him.

"Me? What do you mean Lady?" The children, giggled with delight as their co conspirator tried to deny the accusations.
Suddenly, Coralie grabbed a pillow off the bed and lunged for Legolas. He held up his hands in defence.

"Lady! I have no idea what you are talking about!" he cried as Coralie pummelled him with the pillow.

"Get him! Get the evil Elf!" shouted Coralie over her shoulder.

Squealing with delight, the children descended upon the hapless Legolas, as Coralie continued to rain down upon him with the pillow.

"I yield!" he cried.

"Not good enough!" cried Coralie, tossing aside the pillow so she could pull off one of his boots, while the children sat atop him and tickled him under his arms. "Now I shall teach you not to intrude into a lady's bedchamber, with the sole purpose of torturing her, Sir Elf," she had the other boot off, and sprang for the balcony. "You must forfeit your boots!" In a flash, Legolas was on his feet.

"Not my boots Lady!" he laughed, as he caught her around the middle.

"Ah! But you must forfeit, for my honour!" she chided, noting the children as they edged around the corners of the room.

"But not my boots Lady!" he said turning her around to face him. His hands settled lightly upon her shoulders.

"But Legolas," she pouted. "What could possibly be more valuable than your boots? You must forfeit."

"I can think of something far more valuable that I would rather forfeit than my boots, Titheniel," he said reaching past her for the boots she held behind her back. Suddenly, Séretur darted over and grabbed them from Coralie's waiting hands and threw them at Támurile. The Elven girl managed to drop one as Legolas ran for her, but passed the other one over his head to Coralie who leapt onto the bed to catch it. Retrieving one of his boots, Legolas hopped around the room as he pulled it on. Laughing, he jumped up into the air to catch the other boot, which Coralie had deftly thrown to Intyalle.

"Quick Intyalle! Over here!" cried Márinde holding up her hands. The children were leading Legolas in a merry dance with Coralie, who once again held the much sought after boot aloft in her hands as she stood upon the bed.

"Now Sir Elf! Is this the boot you have lost? Is this your heart's desire?" Coralie laughed gaily and dangled the boot bewitchingly in the air in front of him.

"Nay Lady! My boot was not lost, but rather it was stolen from me!" said Legolas folding his arms.

"Stolen?" they all cried at once.

"And as to my heart's desire, the boot is but a token of that which I truly seek," he said edging warily up to the corner of the bed.

"A token? You want a token, but you have accused me of being light fingered in the same breath!" she said backing away. "And that, after torturing me too! You speak in riddles, Sir Elf!"

"Riddles? I would speak plainer, if you would but give me back my boot first!" he said creeping closer.

"Legolas! You are all talk and no action!" cried Coralie as she leapt up and threw the boot to Márinde who stood waiting by the door. Legolas lunged at Coralie, for as she leapt she lost her footing, and would have missed the bed entirely, if he had not simultaneously swept her over his shoulder. The two of them came crashing down upon the bed, as the boot sailed past Márinde to land squarely upon Aragorn's chest as he opened the door. Bending down he picked up the boot as he surveyed the mayhem of the room. Various Elven children were scampering around, looking desperately for somewhere to hide as Legolas peeked out from underneath the gossamer of Coralie's nightgown.

"Legolas you knocked me over!" said Coralie, struggling to rise. "Get off my nightgown you flaming galah! I can't get up. Galadriel will have my guts for garters if I rip it!"

"I did not knock you down, Lady. In truth, I actually caught you before you fell over the side of the bed."

"I seriously doubt that Galadriel would be that upset if you ripped your gown, Lady," said Aragorn with a bemused smile upon his face. "And furthermore, I would like to know exactly why you chose to greet me by throwing Legolas' boot at me?" He held the boot aloft. "This does belong to him, does it not?"

"Aragorn!" cried Coralie, struggling to rise from where Legolas attempted to extrapolate himself from the folds of her nightgown. Finally free, she ran across the room and flung herself into his arms. "Save me!"

"Save you from what?" he asked, holding her at arm's length.

"From evil Elves of course! They've been torturing me all morning!" Aragorn laughed at this assertion, and tossed Legolas' boot to his guilty friend. For that is indeed how he seemed, as he stood up trying to look dignified with one bare foot.

"You children! Come out from under the bed," said Aragorn. Márinde stood wringing her hands as three ruffled heads popped out from underneath, and crawled out to stand beside Legolas.

Aragorn folded his arms. "So tell me about this torture, and exactly what part you all had in it?" he emphasised the word all, and looked enquiringly at Legolas with an almost imperceptible wink. Legolas replied with a twinkle in his eye.

"I saw that!" cried Coralie.

"Saw what?" asked Aragorn feigning innocence.

"You were in on this too! What do you think I am? Ten thousand sheep short of a top paddock or something?"
Márinde ran over to the other children who stood beside Legolas, whereupon they all fell into a giggling heap at his feet.

Coralie ran for one of the pillows. The children screamed and ran for the door. "See you downstairs Princess!" cried Támurile laughing over her shoulder as she dodged the pillow Coralie had flung, which found its mark on Aragorn's person instead.

"You deserved that Aragorn! And you!" she spun around and reached for the other pillow as Legolas began to back out of the room holding up his hands.

"Lady, your pardon. I merely came up to ask if you would like to go for a walk, as has been our usual custom these past seven days....." He ducked as Coralie took a swipe. "It is such a lovely morning, and I thought.....

Coralie took another swing. "You thought what? To torture me first?" again Legolas ducked, along with Aragorn, whom he had now drawn level with.

"Legolas! I think we had better make a hasty retreat while there is still breath left in our bodies," said Aragorn as they both leapt through the door, with the pillow in fast pursuit.

"Now you two are in a lot of trouble," laughed Támurile, as Aragorn and Legolas came clattering down the stairs to the base of the tree, where the Elven children waited for Coralie.

"Yes!" said Séretur, as he adopted an admonishing tone. He was three years older than his younger sister, Támurile, and straightened himself up in an effort to appear taller than his thirteen years.

"What do you mean by intruding upon our fun with the princess?"

"So you mean to say, that you weren't actually in on this jest, that these children had planned for our lady this morning, Legolas?" asked Aragorn.

"No. I was actually on my way to invite her for our customary walk, when I caught these children at their sport..."

"So you decided to join in as well?" Aragorn asked a little surprised at Legolas' involvement in the scene that he had just witnessed.

"I must confess, that the opportunity presented itself, and I simply couldn't resist," he confided.

"That still doesn't explain, how I happened to find you in such a ...ahem... compromising position with the lady," said Aragorn coughing into his hand. However, he had not reckoned on the excellent hearing of Elven children.

"The princess was merely swept off her feet by Legolas, who was attempting to retrieve his boot..." Támurile was cut off by her brother, who also sprang to Coralie's defence.

"Yes, and she would have fallen..."

"If he hadn't caught her..." started Intyalle.

"I saw the whole thing!" cried Márinde.

Aragorn held up his hands. "Peace! Children. The lady's honour is not in question. I was merely trying to get to the bottom of the matter. It was obvious, by the chaos, and the number of children present in the room, that nothing out of the ordinary was going on." Then he added after a short pause for effect. "That is if you consider, four evil Elven children running about the lady's bedchamber, and one grown male apparently disabled, temporarily by her nightgown, any indication of normality..."

"Evil Elven children!" they shouted together.

"Yes! I would thoroughly agree with that description!" said Coralie, now dressed for the day, as she strode determinedly toward them, with lute slung over her shoulder. "But I would also include, two evil fully grown, males as well!" she said with a withering glance in their direction.

Aragorn sank to one knee. "Ah! Lady you do me a great injustice. For I swear, that I am innocent of all charges, and had absolutely nothing to do with your `ambush' this morning. But I can only speak for myself in this matter. I cannot speak for Legolas." Taking her hand in his, he kissed it and cast an amused sideways glance at the Elf.

Not to be outdone, Legolas suddenly dropped to one knee also, took her other hand in his own, and brushed his lips against the back of her hand in repentance.

"Please forgive my churlish behaviour this morning Lady. I am a knave, and would rather have my eyes plucked out, and fed to Saruman's crebain, than never to see the beauty of your smile cast in my lowly direction again," he then lightly touched the back of her hand with his forehead.

Coralie looked at the two of them, kneeling earnestly before her as they each held one of her hands. For a moment, she was taken aback by their gesture. She couldn't imagine, any man from her own time, ever behaving in such a gallant manner, except in the movies perhaps, and burst out laughing.

"Oh My God! You two. Get up! You both look absolutely ridiculous! But in a delightful way, if I might add." Then just as suddenly, she commanded, "No! Stay there! Don't get up" they both sank again to their knees and looked at one another, wondering what she may do next.

"Tammy! Quick! Get the Clie and take a picture! I want to remember this. What a Kodak moment! I think I've died and gone to heaven!" she was laughing so much, she could barely get the words out. Seeing that Támurile had retrieved the camera from her pack, she turned to the two gentlemen who still, lightly clasped her hands.

"Right you two. Kindly assume that solemn expression, you were both pretending to wear but a moment ago, yes, I said `pretending', and let Tammy here take your photo. Then you shall kiss my hand again!" she finished imperiously.

Aragorn and Legolas smiled ruefully at one another and kissed her hand again as Támurile took the picture. Coralie's penchant for taking pictures and playing music on the Clie had not dimmed, and was still a continual source of amusement to them both.

"Now Lady, if I have somehow managed to find myself in your good graces again, would you please consider doing me the honour, of accompanying me this fine morning, for a stroll through the gardens?" asked Legolas, rising to face her.

Coralie was truly enjoying this moment. "Ah!" she said as Aragorn, rose beside Legolas, for she was not angry with either one, but couldn't resist milking this moment for all it was worth. "The men of Middle Earth are something to behold. Elf or mortal makes no matter. You really know how to make a girl feel like a lady!" she smiled, and then spotted Haldir secretly signal her as he stood some feet away behind the two, who were busy looking rather pleased with themselves.

"So Lady. Shall we?" asked Legolas as he held out his arm, now confident of her response.

"I'll think about it. Maybe later!" she laughed skipping past him to where Haldir stood waiting, as if he was some long, lost friend.

Legolas stood there as she skipped over to Haldir, who held something in his hands for her. He couldn't quite make out what it was as the two turned away, and strode up the path with the children following. Aragorn clasped a hand on his shoulder.

"I wonder what all that is about?" he wondered.

The Hobbits, Boromir and Gimli were now crowding around excitedly, as Coralie and Haldir continued their conversation.

"She said we looked ridiculous, Aragorn. Did you feel ridiculous? I for my part, was sure that my apology was most articulate," said Legolas.

`Your apology, my dear friend, was the most artful I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. But women are of another breed, Legolas. They are a complete mystery, even to me, and although you may have walked this earth for nigh on three thousand years, and myself for near eighty, I don't believe that either one of us are any closer to discovering the inner workings of the female mind, than when we first began our respective journeys. And as for ridiculous? Remind me to speak to the lady later about her clothing, at some point," sighed Aragorn, as he took note of Coralie's leggings and t-shirt she had donned that morning.

"Yes. I would like to see her in a dress, but I am not brave enough to make that suggestion. I shall leave that to her brother," winked Legolas.

"Come. Let us see for ourselves what Haldir has brought the lady," said Aragorn.

"This is the best I could come up with from your description, lady. I trust it is to your liking?"

"To my liking? Oh Haldir. You little ripper! Your blood is worth bottling!" she cried hugging the Elf, who wondered silently to himself, what i titheniel could possibly want with his blood. Seeing the approach of Aragorn and Legolas, he unwrapped her arms from around his neck, and coughed nervously hoping she would take the hint. "And how about the field, Haldir? Did you manage to set that up as well?" she asked excitedly.

"Yes, Lady. All is arranged," said Haldir.

"And the stuff at the river too?"

"Yes. The river too," he smiled.

"Whoo! Hoo!" she cried, tossing the football up into the air. Legolas caught it neatly as it came down.

"What is this?" he asked, eyeing the strange object in his hands.

"It is a football, Legolas. Haldir made it for me."

"Did he now?" Legolas eyed the other elf up and down. Haldir met his inspection without flinching.

"Coralie's going to teach us how to play!" said Frodo, coming to join them.

"Play what?" asked Aragorn.

"Football, Aragorn. She's told us all about it," he replied.

"Yes, it is a game that her countrymen play, and some women too, I might add," chimed in Pippin.

"She promised to teach us some sport as well as songs from Australia," Sam added, "So, she asked Haldir to make a football for her. He's always following her around you know,"

Haldir coughed in the background.

"May I see it Lady?" Aragorn asked as he examined it. "It seems to be made out of some sort of leather."

"Pigskin actually. And it has a sheep's bladder inside it. You blow that up and then close the leather over it with this string here, by lacing it up. See?" Coralie pointed out the finer points of Haldir's workmanship.

"So. Let's go play then," suggested Frodo, taking the ball from Aragorn.

"Yes! I should like to see the Lady, instruct us in the finer points of her `sport'. I am more than a willing pupil, especially when the teacher is so fair," said Boromir inclining her his head towards her.

"We Dwarves also, enjoy games and such Lady. I would be honoured to have you instruct me as well," joined in Gimli.

"Wait a moment!" said Támurile. "The princess promised that she would do anything we asked today."

"Yes she yielded to us," said Intyalle.

"So, that doesn't change anything," said Séretur. "I want to learn how to play football!"

"But I don't!" cried Támurile.

"Nor I!" cried Intyalle and Márinde together.

"Last time I plan an ambush with you girls. What would you rather have the princess do then?"

"Princess?" asked Frodo beside Coralie.

"Yes. Somehow these crazy kids have got it into their heads that I'm a princess or something," she replied. Aragorn and Legolas, smiled at one another.

"What are you two up to?" asked Coralie, suspiciously noting the smile that passed between them. "You had better not be planning any more shenanigans with these ankle biters here!"

"Legolas! That's right! You helped us torture the princess this morning?" said Séretur enthusiastically.

"Torture?" asked the Hobbits all at once. Haldir raised his eyebrows at Legolas, whilst Gimli and Boromir gave him a questioning look.

"Gentlemen, I am innocent of all charges," he said in his defence.

"No you're not!" cried the elven children and Coralie together.

"I would like to hear more of this torture you performed upon the lady, here Legolas," said Boromir.

Legolas sighed. "Yes Séretur. What is your point exactly?"

"Well, the princess yielded to you as well. She must do as you say too!" he smiled triumphantly.
"And he's fully grown. So his vote is worth two of you silly girls. We outnumber you now, so we will get to play football!"

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," said Legolas noting the crestfallen faces of the three girls. "I would like to hear what the girls had in mind first."

"Well, I was hoping to hear a story and maybe sing a song too," said Támurile hopefully.

Séretur groaned in the background. "Sisters. Silly little sisters!"

"And I too, would like a story and some songs! Séretur I'm not silly. And neither is your sister!" said Intyalle.

"Márinde? What is your pleasure?" asked Legolas.

"I wanted to sing and hear a story as well. The princess promised to tell us a story about a little girl named Dot and a kangaroo yesterday. And I like her singing."

"And I too, like her singing, Márinde," He gazed at the girls and Coralie for a moment before continuing. "As ever I will defer to the ladies. For their charms have banished all thoughts of `football' from my mind. A story and a song it shall be." He said with a flourishing bow, to the girls who giggled into their hands.

"But we've waited so long for the football to be made," said Séretur with a pout.

"I will tell you a secret, that I have learned in the short time, I have known the princess here, Séretur. You will get much farther with the ladies' if you cease to argue with them. Come. We shall sing and hear a story first, and then we will play football afterwards. I did not say no to this new `sport'. It is only right and fitting for the ladies to go first," said Legolas, offering his arm to Coralie.

"Interesting argument, you presented to Séretur there," said Coralie as she walked with Legolas to the lawn where the fountain bubbled.

"Really? Which argument do you refer to Lady?" asked Legolas looking down at her.

"About not arguing with the ladies," she turned to him as they neared the fountain. "So just how much farther do you expect to get anyway?" her eyes danced merrily as he stood there for a moment dumbfounded. Suddenly the Elven girls were upon them.

"Come on Princess!" they cried, dragging her away. "You promised."

"I shall await your answer with baited breath, Sir Elf," she laughed as she sat down with the others in the circle and placed the lute in her lap. Checking the tuning of the instrument, she noted Séretur's forlorn face.

"Oh Séretur. Have no fear. As soon as I have fulfilled my duty to the girls, I will make good my promise, of teaching you how to play football. Alright?"

Séretur tried to look a little brighter. "Next time, I will make sure not to be outnumbered by a group of silly little girls, and have some of my friends help instead."

"I had better not hear of such a thing," warned Legolas sternly.

"Princess, will you please sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow?" asked Márinde hopefully.

"How many times have I sung that one to you now?" laughed Coralie as she tuned the lute.

"Not enough!" chorused the girls.

Coralie shook her head. "I must admit, that it was a particular favourite of mine when I was your age," she agreed as she played the introduction. Suddenly, the girls and the Hobbits all fell backwards and lay in the grass with their eyes closed.

"What are you doing?" asked Legolas.

Támurile peeped at Legolas with one eye open. "This is the best way to listen to this song. You can see it best when you lie down with your eyes closed. Try it!" Legolas and the others laughed. However, seeing that the girls and the Hobbits were in earnest, Legolas, Aragorn, Boromir and Gimli lay down in the long grass among the sweet smelling niphredil and elanor, beside the bubbling fountain. Coralie surveyed them all lying down patiently with their eyes closed in expectation of her song. "What's up with all of them? My singing never had this effect on anyone before." Shrugging her shoulders, and deciding that this must be a particular foible common to inhabitants of Middle Earth, she proceeded with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

"It's just a step beyond the rain, folks..........



Somewhere, over the rainbow,
way up high,
There's a land that I heard of
once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow,
skies are blue,
and the dreams that you dare to
dream really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star
and wake up
where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt
like lemon drops,
away above the chimney tops,
That's where you'll find me.
Somewhere, over the rainbow,
bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow,
Why then - oh, why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds
fly beyond the rainbow
why oh why can't I?


Coralie looked at everyone lying in the grass as she finished her song. They all looked so peaceful and childlike. Even Aragorn seemed to be `over the rainbow' somewhere. One by one they sat up and gazed at her with a far away look in their eyes. Pippin was dabbing at the corners of his eyes with his shirt.

"That was the most beautiful song I've ever heard," he sniffed.

"See," said Támurile to Legolas. "I told you that was the best way to listen to the song."

"I see," smiled Legolas in return.

Breaking the spell with a strum on her lute, they all sat up from their various reveries.

"Right. How about we sing a song together for a change? The children and the Hobbits already know this one," said Coralie. "Are you sure you fellows won't be too bored by this? You can leave us girls to it if you like, and come back later," suggested Coralie.

"You are jesting, aren't you?" asked Pippin with an incredulous look on his face. "I wouldn't miss anything you sang for all of Middle Earth!"

"Nor I," said Legolas, his eyes shining.

"I think Lady, that you will find that we are all willing prisoners here, even Séretur, though he may say differently, and that we would rather sit here in the sun, besides this beautiful fountain, which is but a pale mimic of your talent, and hear you sing and tell us a tale from your own land," smiled Aragorn.

"Can I take you home with me Aragorn? You could be my manager. What, with all the pretty things you say about my singing, I would get booked for so many gigs, just as sure as Bob's your uncle and we'd both be happy as Larry to boot!"

Aragorn laughed along with the others. He had absolutely no idea what she was saying, but it sounded rather convincing. He was also certain that he did not have an uncle named Bob, nor was he sure how just how happy this Larry person was, either.

"Now the girls and the Hobbits have actually been practicing this song with me. Even Séretur here, in spite of his protests about playing football. They sound absolutely lovely. I'm going to let them sing this one instead of me. I'll join in, but they will take centre stage, especially little Tammy here, who has such a sweet voice. She's going to sing a solo. I have a backing track on my Clie here."

Legolas smiled at Támurile. The child looked absolutely radiant at Coralie's praise of her singing.
Finding the file on her Clie, Coralie pressed play, and gave Támurile a little wink.


Elven Children and Hobbits Sing

I Still Call Australia Home


I Still Call Australia Home

I've been to cities that never close down
from New York, to Rome and old London town,
but no matter how far or how wide I roam
I still call Australia home.
I'm always travelling, I love being free,
And so I keep leaving the sun and the sea,
But my heart lies waiting over the foam
I still call Australia home.
All the sons and daughters spinning 'round the world,
Away from their family and friends,
But as the world gets older and colder,
It's good to know where your journey ends.
Someday we'll all be together once more
When all of the ships come back to the shore,
I realise something I've always known
I still call Australia home.

But no matter how far, or how wide I roam
I still call Australia,
I still call Australia,
I still call Australia,
Home

"Bravo! Bravo!" They all clapped as the Hobbits stood up to take a bow. The Elven children just giggled at the applause. Even Séretur, was now wearing a smile instead of a frown.

"I had no idea you Hobbits could sing like that!" smiled Aragorn.

"Yes you were actually quite good. I am indeed surprised," said Legolas with a smile.

"The little ones have taken me by surprise as well," said Boromir with an amused smile.

"That's nothing! You should see the musical that....." Pippin was cut off by a jab in the ribs by Merry.

"SSSH! You idiot. That's supposed to be a secret!"

"A secret?" asked Boromir. "Perhaps the lady can let me in on this secret later,"

"Then it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it Boromir?" asked Frodo, knowing full well that Boromir would probably try to pursue the matter anyway.

"Come! There should be no secrets among us. We are all of the same Company, are we not?" he said.

"Perhaps, it is not a secret, but rather a mystery instead," replied Coralie nonchalantly. "It is a mystery. That settles it. One that you will unravel as the days go by. Now we shall sing one more song together, before I tell you a story. What shall it be girls?"

The girls all nodded eagerly and huddled together with Coralie, in conspiratorial whispers.

"No we shouldn't sing that one in front of the boys here!" cried Intyalle, suddenly out loud.

"Hush Intyalle!" cried Márinde.

The fellows all wondered what possible song she could have been referring to.

"I agree with Intyalle. We can't do "There was a redback on the toilet seat" in front of them. That just won't do," said Coralie. They all exchanged looks at this revelation, which set the girls off giggling as they realised they had been overheard, which wasn't too difficult, especially for the Elven ears among them. The rest were quite amused by this `girlish' prattle and sat patiently waiting for them to make up their minds.

"Alright," said Coralie sitting up with the lute. "We have decided."

"What's a redback?" asked Sam, rather intrigued.

"It's a poisonous spider," replied Coralie.

"Ouch!" said Frodo, as he realised the full implication of the song's title. They all laughed as Coralie struck up the chords.

"With the actions, now!"

Home Among the Gum Trees


I've been around the world a couple of times, or maybe more,
I've seen the sights and had delights on every foreign shore,
But when me mates all ask me, the place that I adore,
I tell them right a way.

Chorus:

Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees,
A sheep or two, and a kangaroo, a clothesline out the back,
Verandah out the front and an old rocking chair.

You can see me in the kitchen,
A cooking up a roast, or Vegemite on toast,
Just you and me, and a cup of tea,
Later on we'll settle down, and mull up on the porch,
And watch the possums play.

Chorus:

Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees,
A sheep or two and a kangaroo,
A clothesline out the back, Verandah out the front,
And an old, rocking chair

Bridge:

There's a Safeway on the corner,
And a Woolworths down the street,
And a brand new place they've opened up where they regulate the heat,
But I'd trade them all tomorrow for a simple bush retreat, where the kookaburras call.

Chorus:

Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees,
A sheep or two and a kangaroo,
A clothesline out the back, Verandah out the front,
And an old, rocking chair

Some people like their houses with fences all around
Others live in mansions, and some beneath the ground
But me I love the bush you know with possums running round
And a pumpkin vine out the back.

Chorus:

Give me a home among the gum trees, with lots of plum trees,
A sheep or two and a kangaroo,
A clothesline out the back, Verandah out the front,
And an old rocking chair.

Everyone laughed as they watched the girl's perform the actions with the song, especially when they chorused the kookaburra's call during the bridge. One moment they were waving their hands in the air pretending to be trees, or hopping on the spot like kangaroos, or pointing to some imaginary place over their shoulders with both thumbs. The gestures uniquely fitted the words of the song, and seemed most natural when employed by the children.

"Hey!" cried Pippin, "Kookaburra's really do laugh!" Boromir chuffed Pippin on the head and laughed along with everyone at his sudden `revelation'. Legolas was surprised to see the girls make a circle in the air during the first line of the song, and wondered to himself how Coralie could possibly know that the Earth was round, and not flat as most mortals wrongly assumed.

"Well done girls!" said Coralie as they beamed with delight at the applause that followed.

"Now for a story, Princess. Remember you must do as we say!" laughed, Támurile reminding Coralie of her duty.

"Alright, as promised. I will tell only start the story today, for it is very long. It is called `Dot and the Kangaroo', and it was written by a lady named Ethel C. Pedley. It is a much loved Australian favorite, and I have decided to share it with you," said Coralie with a smile to the girls.

"Fancy that!" said Gimli to the Hobbits. "Now they have women writers in this country that she comes from. What next?"

"What next?" laughed Coralie. "You get to hear the story, Gimli, and that even from a mere woman's lips!" she winked, as the Dwarf laughed in response.

"Little Dot had lost her way in the bush, She knew it, and was very frightened.

She was too frightened in fact to cry, but stood in the middle of a little dry, bare space, looking around her at the scraggy growths of prickly shrubs that had torn her little dress to rags, scratched her bare legs and feet till they bled, and pricked her hands and arms as she had pushed madly through the bushes for hours, seeking her home. Sometimes she looked up to the sky. But little of it could be see because of the great tall trees that seemed to her to be trying to reach heaven with their far-off crooked branches. She could see little patches of blue sky between the tangled tufts of her way in the drooping leaves, and as the dazzling sunlight had faded, she began to think it was getting late, and that very soon it would be night.

The thought of being lost and alone in the wild bush at night, took her breath away with fear, and made her tired little legs tremble under her. She gave up all hope of finding her home, and sat down at the foot of the biggest blackbutt tree, with her face buried in her hands and knees, and thought of all that had happened, and what might happen yet.
It seemed such a long, long time since her mother had told her that she might gather some bush flowers while she cooked the dinner, and Dot recollected how she was bid not to go out of sight of the cottage. How she wished she had remembered this sooner! But whilst she was picking the pretty flowers, a hare suddenly started at her feet and sprang away into the bush, and she had run after it. When she found that she could not catch the hare, she discovered that she could no longer see the cottage. After wandering for a while she got frightened and ran, and ran, little knowing that she was going further away from her home at every step.
Where she was sitting under the blackbutt tree, she was miles away from her father's selection, and it would be very difficult for anyone to find her. She felt that she was along way off, and she began to think of what was happening at home. She remembered how, not very long ago, a neighbour's little boy had been lost, and how his mother had come to their cottage for help to find him, and that her father had ridden off on a big bay horse to bring men from all the selections around to help in the search. She remembered their coming back in the darkness; numbers of strange men she had never seen and what a noise they made all talking together in big deep voices. They looked terrible men, so tall and brown and fierce, with their rough bristly beards; and they all spoke in such funny tones to her, as if they were trying to make their voices small.

During many days, these men came and went, and every time they were more sad, and less noisy. The little boy's mother used to come and stay, crying, whilst the men were searching the bush for her little son. Then, one evening, Dot's father came home alone, and both her mother and the little boy's mother went away in a great hurry. Then, very late, her mother came back crying, and her father sat smoking by the fire looking very sad, and she never saw that little boy again, although he had been found.

She wondered now if these rough, big men were riding into the bush to find her, and if, after many days, they would find her, and no one ever see her again. She seemed to see her mother crying, and her father very sad, and all the men very solemn. These thoughts made her so miserable that she began to cry herself.

Dot did not know how long she sobbed out of loneliness and fear, with her head on her knees, and with her little hands covering her eyes, so as not to see the cruel wild bush in which she was lost. It seemed a long time before she summoned enough courage to uncover her weeping eyes, and look once more at the bare, dry earth, and the wilderness of scrub and trees that seemed to close her in as if she were in a prison. When she did look up, she was surprised to see that she was no longer alone. She forgot all her trouble and fear in her astonishment at seeing a big grey Kangaroo squatting quite close to her, in front. What was most surprising was the fact that the Kangaroo evidently understood that Dot was in trouble, and was sorry for her; for down in the animal's nice soft grey muzzle two tiny tears were slowly trickling. When Dot looked up at it with wonder in her round blue eyes, the Kangaroo did not jump away, but remained gazing sympathetically at Dot with a slightly puzzled air. Suddenly the big animal seemed to have an idea, and it lightly hopped off into the scrub, where Dot could just see it bobbing up and down as if it were hunting for something. Presently back came the strange kangaroo with a spray of berries in her funny black hands. They were pretty berries. Some were green, some were red, some blue, and others white. Dot was quite glad to take them when the Kangaroo offered them to her; and as this friendly animal seemed to wish her to eat them, she did so gladly, because she was beginning to feel hungry.

After she had eaten a few berries a very strange thing happened. While Dot had been alone in the bush it had all seemed so dreadfully still. There had been no sound but the gentle stir of a light, fitful breeze in the far away tree-tops. All around had been so quiet, that her loneliness had seemed twenty times more lonely. Now, however, under the influence of these small, sweet berries, Dot was surprised to hear voices everywhere. At first it seemed like hearing sounds in a dream, they were so faint and distant, but soon the talking grew nearer and nearer, louder and clearer, until the whole bush seemed filled with talking. They were all little voices, some indeed quite tiny whispers and squeaks, but they were very numerous, and seemed to be everywhere. They came from the bushes, from the trees, and from the very air. The little girl looked round to see where they came from, but everything looked just the same. Hundreds of ants, of all kinds and sizes, were hurrying to their nests; a few lizards were scuttling about amongst the dry twigs and sparse grasses; there were some grasshoppers, and in the trees birds fluttered to and fro. Then Dot knew that she was hearing, and understanding, everything that was being said by all the insects and creatures in the bush.
All this time the kangaroo had been speaking, only Dot had been too surprised to listen. But now the gentle, soft voice of the kind animal caught her attention, and she found the Kangaroo was in the middle of speech.

"Whoever heard of a mortal having the ability to talk animals!" snorted Séretur.

"SSSSH!" said the girls all at once. Legolas merely gave Séretur a look that quite clearly told him to be quiet. Coralie ignored the interruption and continued with the story.

"I understood what was the matter with you at once," she was saying, "for I feel just the same as myself. I have been miserable, like you, ever since i lost my baby kangaroo. You also must have lost something. Tell me what it is?"

"I've lost my way," said Dot; rather wondering if the Kangaroo would understand her.

"Ah!" said the Kangaroo, quite delighted at her own cleverness, "I knew you had lost something! Isn't it a dreadful feeling? You feel as if you had no inside, don't you? And you're not inclined to eat anything - not even the youngest grass. I have been like that ever since I lost my baby kangaroo. Now tell me," said the creature confidentially, "what your way is like, I may be able to find it for you."

Dot found that she must explain what she meant' by saying she had "lost her way," and the Kangaroo was much interested.

"Well," said she, after listening to the little girl, "that is just like you Humans; you are not fit for this country at all! Of course, if you have only one home in one place, you must lose it! If you made your home everywhere and anywhere, it would never be lost. Humans are no good in our bush," she continued. "Just look at yourself now. How do you compare with a kangaroo? There is your ridiculous sham coat. Well, you have lost bits of it all the way you have come today, and you're nearly left in your bare skin. Now look at my coat. I've done ever so much more hopping than you today, and you see I'm none the worse. I wonder why all your fur grows upon the top of your head," she said reflectively, as she looked curiously at Dot's flaxen curls. "It's such a silly place to have one's fur the thickest! You see, we have very little there; for we don't want our heads made any hotter under the Australian sun. See how much better off you would be, now that nearly all your sham coat is gone, if that useless fur had been chopped into little, short lengths, and spread all over your bare body. I wonder why you Humans are made so badly," she ended, with a puzzled air."

"Well, that makes sense," said Merry. "Seems to me, by the Kangaroo's description that Elves and Dwarves are made badly too!"

"SSSSH!" said the girls to Merry.

"Well, we Elves are immortal, and therefore superior to you humans anyway, so we wouldn't need to have fur all over our bodies," sneered Séretur.

Before Legolas could intervene, Coralie took charge.

"Do you not bleed? Do you not thirst? Do you not hunger? Do you not have a heart that can break into pieces so small, it can fit through the eye of a needle?"

Séretur looked down at his feet, suddenly feeling a little ashamed.

"Let me further inform you, that the climate of Australia, is much harsher than that of Middle Earth. We do not experience very cold conditions as a rule, but rather enjoy long, hot summers that last for about six months or so, depending what part of the country you are in. In fact, it gets so hot; you could fry an egg on a rock. A couple of days either out in the desert, or in the bush itself would make you rethink your supposed superiority, and you would be begging for a bucket of water to drown your thirst, or a river to swim in, and then you better pick the right one, or you could end up in the belly of a crocodile!"

Séretur's eyes grew round at this description and Legolas nodded silently to Coralie, that she had made her point, as well as inviting her to go on.

"Dot felt for a moment as if she ought to apologise for being so unfit for the bush, and having all the fur on the top of her head. But, somehow, she had an idea that a little girl must be something better than a kangaroo, although the Kangaroo certainly seemed a very superior person; so she said nothing, but again began to eat the berries.

"You must not eat any more of these berries," said the Kangaroo, anxiously.

"Why?" asked Dot, "they are very nice, and I'm very hungry."
The Kangaroo gently took the spray out of Dot's hand, and threw it away. "You see," she said, "If you eat too many of them, you'll know too much."

"One can't know too much," argued the little girl.

"Yes you can, though," said the Kangaroo, quickly. "If you eat too many of those berries, you'll learn too much, and that gives you indigestion, and then you become miserable. I don't want you to be miserable any more, for I'm going to find your lost way."

The mention of finding her way reminded the little girl of the sad position, which, in her wonder at talking with a kangaroo, had been quite forgotten for a little while. She became sad again; and seeing how dim the light was getting, her thoughts went back to her parents. She longed to be with them to be kissed and cuddled, and her blue eyes filled with tears.

"Your eyes just now remind me of two fringed violets, with the morning dew on them, or after a shower," said the Kangaroo. "Why are you crying?"

"I was thinking," said Dot.

"Oh! Don't think!' pleaded the Kangaroo; "I never do myself."
"I can't help it!" explained the little girl. "What do you do instead?" she asked.

"I always jump to conclusions," said the Kangaroo, and she promptly bounded ten feet at one hop. Lightly springing back again to her position in front of the child, she added, "and that's why I never have a headache."

"Dear Kangaroo," said Dot, do you know where I can get some water? I'm very thirsty!"

"Of course you are," said her friend; everyone is at sundown. "I'm thirsty myself. But the nearest water-hole is a longish way off, so we had better start at once."

Little Dot got up with an effort. After her long run and fatigue, she was very stiff, and her little legs were so tired and weak, that after a few steps she staggered and fell.
The Kangaroo looked at the child compassionately. "Poor little Human," she said, "your legs aren't much good, and, for the life of me, I don't understand how you can expect to get along without a tail. The water-hole is a good way off," she added, with a sigh, as she looked down at Dot, lying on the ground, and she was puzzled what to do. But suddenly she brightened up. "I have an idea," she said joyfully. "Just step into my pouch, and I'll hop you down to the water-hole in less time than it takes a locust to shrill."

Timidly and carefully, Dot did the Kangaroo's bidding, and found herself in the coziest, softest little bag imaginable. The Kangaroo seemed overjoyed, when Dot was comfortably settled in her pouch. "I feel as if I had my dear baby kangaroo again!" she exclaimed; and immediately bounded away through the tangled scrub, over stones and bushes, over dry water-courses and great fallen trees."

The Elven girls all clapped their hands and laughed with delight at the Kangaroo's words.

"Oh! Wouldn't it be wonderful to get inside a kangaroo's pouch!" twittered Intyalle, as the others excitedly agreed with her. Coralie laughed and went on.

"All Dot felt was a gentle rocking motion, and a fresh breeze in her face, which made her so cheerful that she sang this song:-
If you want to be quick,
I will tell you a trick
For the bush, where there isn't a train.
With a hullabaloo,
Hail a big kangaroo -
But be sure that your weight she'll sustain -
Then with a hop, and with a skip,
She will take you a trip
With the speed of the very best steed;
And, this is a truth for which I can vouch,
There's no carriage can equal a kangaroo's pouch.
Oh! Where is a friend so strong and true
As a dear big, bounding kangaroo?
Goodbye! Goodbye!
The lizards all cry,
Each drying its eyes with its tail
`Adieu! Adieu!
Dear Kangaroo!'
The scared little grasshoppers wail.
"They're going express
To a distant address,"
Says the bandicoot, ready to scoot;
And your path is well cleared for your progress, I vouch,
When you ride through the bush in a kangaroo's pouch.
Oh! Where is a friend so strong and true
As a dear big, bounding kangaroo?
`Away and away'
You will certainly say,
`To the end of the furthest blue -
To the verge of the sky,
And the far hills high,
O take me with thee, kangaroo!
We will seek for the end,
Where the broad plains end,
E'en as far as the evening star.
Why, the end of the world we can reach, I vouch,
Dear kangaroo, with me in your pouch.'
Oh! Where is a friend so strong and true
As a dear big, bounding kangaroo?

And I'm afraid girls, that `here endeth the lesson', in other words, that was the end of the first part of your story," said Coralie as the girls groaned their displeasure. Setting aside her lute, she then picked up the ball and began to bounce it lightly in her hand.

"Since I have now discharged my duty to the girls Séretur, I will now teach you how to play football."

Séretur jumped up eagerly and punched the sky with one hand. "Yes!" he exclaimed.

"Where did you learn to do that?" asked Merry.

"From the princess of course!" he laughed.

Legolas helped Coralie to her feet. "It would seem Lady, that you have been very busy these past few days."

"Yes, and it looks like I will be even busier, now that the football has arrived, thanks to Haldir," she gave Legolas a playful grin. "Ready to cop a hiding from a mere mortal woman, mate?"

"I presume that you are informing me, that you will prove to be more of a challenge, than I expect, regarding this game of football, you are so willing to instruct us in," he said with an amused smile.

"Yes, I take no prisoners Leggy!" Coralie laughed tossing the ball up high. Legolas caught it with one hand.

"Neither do I, Lady!" his eyes were twinkling at her challenge, as he handed the ball back.

Suddenly an Elf approached and talked silently with Haldir for a few moments.

"There are Orcs massing on our Northern borders. I must depart immediately," he bowed.

"The Company shall go with you and give what aid we may," said Aragorn. "Let me fetch my sword." Boromir, Legolas and Gimli volunteered their support as well.

"The Hobbits and the Lady, will remain here until we return," announced Aragorn.

"But..." began Coralie. Aragorn strode over to her and took her hand, anticipating her words.

"You will remain here with the Hobbits. I have spoken. I would not endanger you Coralie, and in this I will have my way. The battlefield is no place for a woman, even one so brave as yourself. Wait here, and try to keep the Hobbits out of trouble," he smiled at her seeing the anxiety in her eyes, and lifted her chin. "We shall return safely. All of us. I promise. Farewell." He kissed her lightly on the cheek before turning away, to join Gimli and Boromir, who were following after Haldir. Legolas took her hand and kissed it briefly. "Until our return, Lady. I would rather you safe here in Lothlórien, as Aragorn has commanded," he looked down at her with a soft smile, noting her disappointment at being left behind. "And when I return, you can give me that `hiding' you promised."

Coralie and the others watched as they departed across the lawn to gather their various weapons from the pavilions.

"Well, there goes half the football team, I hope they'll be alright. I hate being left behind like this," she sighed, and then looked at Séretur who looked the most disappointed of them all.

"Come on Séretur. There is nothing we can do but wait. And I know that Aragorn would not have us moping around all day, for fear that something could happen to them. I suggest that if you want to learn this game of football, that you round up some chums, quick smart."

"I know just where to find them," nodded Séretur, as he jogged away. Sighing, Coralie picked up the lute, and ball as she followed after, with the others.

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