Coralie laughed as the hobbits shared the second Snickers bar she had tossed over to Sam. True joy shone in their faces as they licked their fingers with delight. Legolas came over and settled himself down beside her.
“Thank you Coralie for making them happy, if only for a moment,” he said wistfully as he looked upon the satisfied hobbits who were now joking about their recent booty.
“Yep! They look about as happy as pigs in mud Leggy! Doesn’t take much does it?” she replied.
“A hobbit and his food should not be parted. That was a real treat you gave them. I’m afraid that our provisions are not as tasteful as the hobbits would like, even though they are as practical as we could provide for our journey. Tell me. What else do you have in that pack of yours? It would seem to be a virtual treasure trove,” Legolas remarked.
“Treasure? Did someone say treasure?” asked Gimli in his gruff manner as he and the others gathered round Coralie, intent on finding out exactly what her back pack contained. She laughed as she started to empty its contents.
“No Gimli. I have no treasure, just the regular stuff I keep in here in case of an emergency, for example if I’m stranded in the back country or decide to camp a night in a ski hut if it’s pleasant out. In fact, I was planning to do that before I leapt into your company. The weatherman had forecast a rather warm night, most unusual, but hey! I’m not arguing…you don’t get too many of those this time of year……so my pack has all sorts of thing in it,” she answered.
“Weatherman?” asked Boromir. “Is he a wizard? How can he know the weather in advance?” said looking quite perturbed.
“Well, there’s no hard and fast rule about it Boromir…but more often than not he gets it wrong. Nothing is 100% when it comes to the weather,” replied Coralie.
Aragorn nodded in agreement.
“Yes even the weather here is unpredictable and our own Caradhras can be cruel when the mood is upon him.” He drew a long puff on his pipe and smiled at her as she rummaged around in her backpack pulling this and that out until it was all on the ground for them to see.
1 extra pair of white socks
1 pair of Raichle Freedom Ski Boots
1 pair K2 XP Axis Down hill skis
1 pair Black Diamond Carbon Fiber Flicklock Ski Pole
1 Rip Curl ski jacket and pants
1 Bota bottle water skin in plush fleece…makes a comfy pillow
1 silva polaris compass
1 Climber fuel stove and matches
1 packet Celestial Seasoning Strawberry Kiwi Tea
1 Marmott women’s Zermatt hooded fleece jacket
1 pair of Outdoor Research Windy Ridge fleece gloves
1 spare Patagonia women’s silk weight capilene t-shirt in buttercup and white (she was already wearing one.)
1 pair of Oakley sunglasses
1 Makeup bag containing:
1 tube of Clinique sunscreen
1 Revlon lip gloss, Breathe Hi Fi Lippie
Several chapsticks and assorted lip glosses (strawberry, mango, banana, cherry)
1 Lancome Definicils Waterproof Mascara and eyeliner (Hey a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do…never know who you’re gonna run into!)
1 SI-5 Portable Flat Speakers with surround sound
Sony Clie hand held computer, mp3 and digital video + still camera.
1 solar battery recharger and spare batteries
1 Sierra Design Women’s Synthesis sleeping bag
12 Packets of Mainstay Emergency Food Rations
1 pair of Antz Pantz knickers
1 billabong Lush bikini + shorts
1 micro fibre towel
1 bottle of strawberry milkshake shampoo
1 bottle of Skin Quenchers Berry Juicie A luscious fragrant blend of nature’s best berries! Includes naturally antioxidant strawberry, blueberry and raspberry extracts, vitamin C, nourishing avocado and healing aloe extracts.
1 nail file
1 toothbrush and toothpaste
1 Crystal Rock stick deodorant
1 laser light on a chain
1 ski pass
1 first aid kit
1 copy of Lord of the Rings
1 pair Tecnica women’s Typhoon Bio Flex Trail shoes.
The Fellowship gazed in wonder at the contents arrayed on the ground. Merry swooped on the emergency rations. “OY! Coralie! Is this more chocolate?”
“No!” she laughed. “I gave you my last bar.”
“Your pardon Coralie. If we’d known that was all you had we wouldn’t have been so greedy,” apologised Frodo.
“Don’t worry about it fellas….I’m on a diet anyway. It was worth it just to see the look on your faces when you ate it.” she responded. Sam looked at her with new respect.
Boromir picked up the compass. “What does this do?”
“That’s a compass. It always points true north. Have a bo peep if you like,” suggested Coralie.
Boromir fiddled with the strange contraption and walked in many different directions.
“This is truly a wonder….Look the needle always points in one direction!” Gandalf accepted the compass from Boromir and examined it with raised eyebrows.
Pippin picked up Coralie’s bikini and started to stretch it.
“What’s this Coralie? Some sort of slingshot?”
Aragorn took Coralie’s Billabong bikini top away from him and handed it back to her.
“Ahem…..I think you had better put this away m’ lady,” He looked rather embarrassed. Coralie giggled a little wickedly.
“Now, Now, Aragorn don’t be shy. This is a bikini. It is quite common for women to wear these in public where I come from…especially at the beach. We swim in them.”
“Swim in them? You really wear that in public? At the beach?” queried Aragorn, astounded.
Legolas looked up at Aragorn’s mention of the word. “There are no beaches on the mountain Coralie,” he tilted his head and winked.
“Ah! But there is a hot spa, er… spring that I can relax in after a hard day’s skiing that I know of, and as it is frequented by both men and women, it would be prudent of me to wear a swimming costume, even if as an Aussie, I am accustomed to going topless at the beach sometimes. After all, I was in America before I landed here in Middle Earth and they are a bit prudish when it comes to such things. I am not ashamed of my body. It took a lot of hard work to get it looking this good,” she rejoined. The Fellowship looked at one another in astonishment. Boromir broke the silence with a loud guffaw.
“Coralie, women must be very strange where you hail from. There is no woman that I know of in Minas Tirith who would even contemplate the wearing of a `bikini’? in public or otherwise….but I do admire your spirit….perhaps we will have the opportunity to find a hot spring along the road and try it out….Bikini or no!” Boromir’s eyes danced with glee. Aragorn took another puff on his pipe and shook his head. Legolas rolled his eyes in response.
“Hell’s Bell’s Boromir, I didn’t know you fancied women’s clothing? You can borrow my bikini any time you like mate….not sure about the fit though!”
With that, the awkward moment was dispelled and they all laughed heartily around the camp fire. Coralie was not finished though.
“I better put his bloke on his bike while I can,” she thought.
She advanced upon Boromir, hands on hips in a defiant gesture, eyes flashing. Coralie was tall, but Boromir still stood head and shoulders over her. She did not see Legolas and Aragorn stand up behind her.
“Now look here, mate. I don’t care if that is a sword you’ve got in your pocket or if you really are glad to see me, but I didn’t come down in the last rain shower. I can get as mad as a cut snake when I want to. ….Watch out or I’ll stick yer bloody bum on the barbie…. you’ll get the rough end of a pineapple where it really hurts if you’re not careful ……and let that be a warning to you mate!” she bristled.
Boromir backed away laughing from this `wild woman ‘. He held up his hands in defense. “Your pardon Lady. It was a mere jest. Do not be offended by such a thing…such a little thing.”
” `Twas a poor jest Boromir,” interjected Aragorn. “It is well that you sought her pardon when you did.” He gave Boromir a cold, hard stare until an understanding was reached between them.
Gandalf reached for the book among Coralie’s things.
“Lord of the Rings?” he pondered as he fumbled through the pages.
“Oh that’s a book I like to read before bed…Or at least I think I did? What’s it called again?” she stepped over for a better look.
“Look the pages are fading!” exclaimed Gandalf. “This is indeed a mystery….” His voice trailed off. ….”One of the pages is marked.” The pages faded as he tried to read them before his very eyes. Gandalf blinked to see if it was a trick of the light. “No the writing has disappeared. I would have liked to have read it ere we go much further.”
A small square piece of paper fell out of the book, it fluttered softly to his feet. Stooping he picked it up.
“What’s this? I’ve never seen anything like this before!” Gandalf was a little more than surprised. In his hand he held a photograph.
“Oh! It is a photo of the twin girls that I used to nanny! I use it as a bookmark. Their names are Lauren and Alexa. Lauren is in front and that’s Alexa in the back. Aren’t they lovely?” asked Coralie stepping over for a closer look. Gandalf and the others examined this new wonder.
“Lovely is an understatement Coralie,” smiled Legolas. He handed the photograph to the hobbits who gasped in wonderment.
“Yes. I took this photo the last time I took them horse riding. That’s Aspen they’re sitting on. Isn’t he cute? He’s only 3 years old, but extremely patient and gentle.”
Merry grabbed the instant camera. “What is this strange object Coralie? Ain’t never seen one of these before!”
“That’s a personal computer and digital camera! It is called a Clie. It’s the latest thing!” she replied. “I can take your picture too if you like.”
Merry’s eyes opened wide. “You mean like that one of the girls you have there?”
“Exactly! Do you want me to take your photo Merry?” asked Coralie.
The other hobbits gathered around eagerly to watch. Coralie took the Clie from Merry and took his picture. There was a flash of light! Gandalf came running over alarmed.
“Don’t worry Gandalf. This camera has a flash so you can take pictures in the dark. It’s supposed to do that.” Gandalf sighed, relieved at her explanation.
They all gathered around eagerly to view the picture on the display.
“Look at that!” Merry exclaimed.
“Take mine too!” cried Frodo.
“Yes and mine as well!” yelled Pippin.
“Ow! That was my foot!” Sam nudged Pippin out of the way.
“Gentlemen! Gentlemen!” Aragorn entered the fray, holding up his hands. “There is no need to fight about this. I’m sure that the Lady here will be only too happy to take your pictures as well.”
“How about I take a group photo of you over there by the tree?” she rejoined.
The hobbits quickly scurried over to the tree. The others laughed to see such sudden enthusiasm.
“Now. Why don’t you hold your swords out in front of you and try to look serious for a change?” asked Coralie as she peered through the view finder.
They hobbits were delighted with the result.
“Why, you all look like the sternest, bravest warriors The Shire has ever seen,” said Gandalf musing. There was a twinkle in his eye. Clearly he was enjoying the moment.
“May I try to take some pictures myself Coralie?” asked Frodo in earnest.
“Of course you may Frodo!” laughed Coralie. He took the camera from her. After a brief instruction, he wandered around the camp site taking various snaps of the Fellowship to the amusement of the others.
“Indeed Lady, you are full of surprises. May I ask what else it can do?” asked Aragorn looking over her shoulder.
“Well, it can also play music.” He looked at her with doubt in his eyes.
“Here!” she said, adjusting the ear phones on Aragorn’s head. She pressed play and Aragorn jumped up in surprise.
“Let me try!” Pippin ran over to where Aragorn and Coralie stood eagerly. Aragorn passed the Clie to Pippin whilst Coralie helped adjust it on his head. The other hobbits crowded round straining to hear. “Lady Coralie……What is this Dancing Queen and how did you put an orchestra in this little box?”
Coralie chuckled. “Why Pip, I do believe that you are listening to a song from Mama Mia’s soundtrack by Abba. There is no orchestra in that box. Just a recording instead. I have the full DVD on a memory stick for the Clie if you ever want to watch it. Do you like it?”
“Like it? It’s magnificent! Here Merry…You go next.”
The hobbits amused themselves with their new found toy and Gandalf laughed, delighted at their capers.
“Music is a chief love of the elves Coralie. Perhaps you have something that Legolas would like?” Gimli’s eyes twinkled.
“Do I ever! Oy! You blokes….Let’s give Leggy a go.” She turned to Legolas. “You are going to love this. It’s called The Memory of Trees by Enya.” The hobbits handed her the hand held computer and she found the file she was looking for and handed it to Legolas. She helped him put it on and pressed play. Legolas’ eyes were wide with pleasure.
“I think we’ve lost him Gandalf.”
He smiled back at her. “Shame about your book Coralie. I should have like to have read that.”
“I wonder why it faded like it did? That is totally creepy,” she shuddered.
“Me thinks we are not meant to read the story for now,” Gandalf replied. “Some things are best left to work out by themselves. I would like to learn more about your world, but first we have more pressing business at hand.” He called the hobbits over to where they stood, a little distance from the fire. “Frodo. With your permission I will tell our Lady here about our quest. We are on a perilous path and it would not be fair to further endanger her life without telling her what we are truly about. Come. What say you?”
Frodo looked first at Coralie, then at the hobbits who nodded and shuffled their feet in the dirt. Turning to Gandalf, he looked him squarely in the eye. “I’m sure it will be alright to tell her Gandalf. You’re right of course. It would not be fair to keep it hidden.” Gandalf nodded in agreement as did the other hobbits. He proceeded to tell her about the Ring Bearer and his burden.
Aragorn sat down beside Legolas who was still listening to Enya entranced by the music. He drew slowly on his pipe as Gandalf explained all. Legolas took off the earphones.
“Legolas….. this Coralie is both a wonder and a worry.”
“I understand your meaning, Aragorn.” Legolas had followed Aragorn’s gaze towards Boromir who was busy warming his hands by the fire.
“As a man, on the battlefield, I’m sure we can rely on Boromir in a pinch …… but how he is in the company of women? That is untried….. We must keep an extra eye on him.” Aragorn took another puff.
“I agree, Aragorn. Although Coralie would seem to be a strong maiden, she is still only a maiden and therefore vulnerable to some extent. I will keep her by my side.”
Aragorn nodded. “There will be much trouble on the road ahead I perceive. We do not need to have trouble at our doorstep. Keep a close watch.”
“Have no fear Aragorn. I will both watch and listen well.” replied the Elf.
“The lady has a forward manner, that is true, but I do not detect a wantoness about her nature, but rather a feisty spirit and a charming naievety, that I would not see dampened by any dishonorable advances, Legolas. I could be wrong…….I hope by Eru that I am……but I will take no chances.”
The night wore on in the telling of the ring to Coralie. Suddenly she yawned, which in turn set off all the hobbits. Gandalf looked around. Boromir, Aragorn and Gimli were fast asleep. Gimli snorked as he rolled over as Legolas stepped out of the shadows. “Come Lady. I think it wise we retire for the night. I have your sleeping blanket ready.” Gandalf looked up at Legolas and the now sleepy hobbits.
“Yes. It is late and we need our rest. We have a hard road ahead of us tomorrow. Goodnight Coralie. Sleep well while you may. Have no fear, you have fallen into good company on the road in spite of its many dangers,” he said looking up at Legolas who nodded in return.
“You’re right Gandalf. I’m absolutely worn out. Time to hit the hay. Nighty, Night hobbits. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” She followed Legolas to her sleeping bag and climbed in wearily. Legolas settled down beside her. Aragorn was sleeping soundly on her other side. She lay back and placed her hands under her head and gazed up at the night sky, thinking of all that had befallen her that day. She sighed.
“…….And at night the wondrous glory, of the everlasting stars….”
Legolas roused. “What’s that Coralie?”
“Oh. Nothing. I was just reciting a line from a poem I learnt as a child.” The stars shone brightly overhead as they both lay there looking up with wonder in their hearts. Presently Legolas spoke.
“Is it a poem from your homeland, Lady? If so. I should like to hear it.”
“Okay,” Coralie whispered back. “But I will only whisper it so as not to disturb the others. It will put me in the mood for sleep which escapes me at the moment. Maybe something familiar will help me drift off. It is a poem by Banjo Patterson, my favorite Australian poet. He mostly wrote ballads of the bush.”
“Ballads of the bush?” asked Legolas. “What is this bush you speak of?”
“The bush is in the heart of all true Australians. It is the love and the fear of the bush, it’s beauty and it’s terror that enthralls us. Once it is in your blood, you can’t get it out.” She sighed as if in remembrance and for an instant Legolas caught the sweet smell of eucalyptus and heard the gentle calling of the bellbirds in the rainforest. He smiled at her memory.
“Tell me your poem Coralie.”
“It is called “Clancy of the Overflow”. It is about one of our legendary bushmen.
I had written him a letter which I had,
for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him
down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him,
so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec, addressed as follows,
“Clancy, of The Overflow”
And an answer came directed in a
(And I think the same was written
with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
Twas his shearing mate who wrote it,
and verbatim I will quote it:
“Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving,
and we don’t know where he are.”
* * * * * * * * *
In my wild erratic fancy visions come
to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving “down the Cooper”
where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing,
Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that
the townsfolk never know.
And the bush hath friends to meet him,
and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the
river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the
sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of
the everlasting stars.
* * * * * * * * *
I am sitting in my dingy little office,
where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down
between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the
dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating,
spreads its foulness over all
And in place of lowing cattle, I can
hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making
hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the
gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through
the ceaseless tramp of feet.
And the hurrying people daunt me,
and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their
rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and
their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow,
they have no time to waste.
And I somehow rather fancy that I’d
like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where
the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of
the cash-book and the journal —
But I doubt he’d suit the office,
Clancy, of The Overflow.
Legolas looked over at Coralie. “It is a pretty poem Lady. You sing it well.” By the gentle rhythm of her breathing, he could tell that she already fallen fast asleep.