Forum: Anglachel - Stories

Discussing: The Ford

The Ford

I wrote this story to address two points of curiosity - what sorts of things was Gandalf doing in his wanderings, and who the heck was the Old Took, aside from being old?

The Ford

Gandalf found something special in the Shire. It was his haven in his sojourn in Middle-earth. I tried to imagine the reasons why this powerful, wise Maia would take pleasure in the company of people most others would overlook or ridicule. I also tried to imagine what Gandalf would be thinking of at a particular point in time.

Hobbits are difficult to write. The impulse is to either infantilize them, turn them into comic relief, or to use them instrumentally as foils to other characters. These are people who have spent centuries traveling through hostile lands, living at the margins of other people's civilizations, extremely vulnerable to the winds of change. Their genial conviviality arises from the need to band together for survival, and their iron-tough wills have few equals in Middle-earth. What would this look like? I've done some imagining of the Old Took, a leader in a time of danger and social stagnation, whose decendents played such vital roles in the defeat fo Sauron.



Re: The Ford

i was very much impressed by the "old took" in "the ford".

most often hobbits are described as being timid and shy of the big folk. and although one can imagine it being that way, it is as well possible to think that they developed a certain ability of standing up against bigger folk. just because they HAD to. i mean, they were the smallest race of all and so one could imagine that they were at everyone's mercy, but obviously they had managed to survive for a noticeable period (even without grey riders patrolling) without being overrun by the big folk. and this although there was no king anymore to set rules (and enforce them) that would protect them.

so why did not the squinty southlanders or someone else just invade the shire and took over? if i were a noble of one of the surrounding lands or even the leader of a band of mercenaries i would not mind sacking a prosperous little country like that. would some dunedain, who were not stationed in the country, but just patrolling, be enough to hold me back?

or were they just lucky enough to be overlooked? but then how to trade outside?

or was everyone around them so good natured that there was no danger?

perhaps they (the hobbits) had a certain image (small, but fierce) that warned other peoples off?

however that may be, i certainly would not want to be on the wrong side of gerontius.



Re: The Ford

No, I wouldn't want to run into the Old Took, either. ;-)

Well, there's always Bullroarer Took, who killed an Orc with a club (inventing the game of golf ;-) , and there are the archers that the Hobbits sent to the aid of the King. In general, yes, they prefer avoidance to conforntation, and the other Hobbits drew back from Gandalf, waiting for him to get on his way. But JRRT also says they can be very tough and fierce when they have no other choice. Why wasn't the Shire over-run? Mostly because it was so far away, I think.

Genrontius is fiestier than most Hobbits, in part because it's in his nature (being one of those odd Tooks) and in part because he's the Thain and his responsibility is the defense of the Shire. From my perspective, he's heard stories about Gandalf and probably has a clue that the old fellow isn't going to offer harm, he's in the middle of a tough task, and he can see that the others are distracted and unsettled by the sudden appearance of a rather imposing Big Person. Gerontius quickly takes command of the situation, and makes sure that the wagon gets out of the ford.

As soon as that's done, he is a perfect gentlehobbit to Gandalf, taking him home to let him dry off and to feed him up. He teases the wizard a bit, too. I think this is typical of how Hobbits react to the Big People they know - they treat them as they would another Hobbit.

I also kept thinking - what kind of person would have two children who would run off with a wizard, and who has grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are adventurous types? The Old Took has always struck me as a bit larger than life, so it was fun writing him in this vignette. Someone to wake a wizard up!




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