Ula raised an eyebrow, but her mistress nodded fiercely. "Bring it!"
Dutifully the girl left the room where the woman was laboring and padded off down the tunnel to the kitchen. Posco Underhill looked up as she entered, and his eyes begged her.
"All is well," said Ula soothingly. "It will not be long now until Daisy is safe delivered. Mistress Brandybuck has no equal when it comes to bringing babies safely." She looked around. "I need a knife."
"There, in the drawer." Posco gestured towards the heavy oaken cupboard. "I can hear her. . . is there anything I can do?"
"Boil some water," Ula told him. "We will want hot water to wash the child when it comes." She chose a large sharp knife with a bone handle and lifted it from the drawer. "Don’t worry."
Returning down the passage to the birthing room, Ula wondered why Gilda had asked for a knife. The birth was going normally enough, given that it was Daisy’s first. Her surprise increased when, instead of taking the knife, Gilda told her to show it to Daisy, then place it under the bed. Ula could see no purpose to the action, but did as Gilda instructed. To her further astonishment, after seeing the knife Daisy’s face relaxed and some of the strain seemed to leave her body.
The labor went quickly then, determination replacing pain in the mother-to-be’s expression, and a scant half-hour later Ula was fetching Posco to introduce him to his new daughter.
It was too late to return to Brandy Hall that night, so Gilda and Ula shared the bed in the Underhill’s spare room. As they undressed, Ula said, "I don’t understand, Mistress. Why did you have me bring the knife to Daisy’s room?"
"What did you see happen, girl?"
Ula thought. "As soon as she saw the knife it was as if her pain was less. But that makes no sense."
"Did you never hear tell that a knife will cut a mother’s pains in two? It worked because she believed it would. It wouldn’t work for me, or for you, but such tricks are worth knowing." Gilda turned down the blankets. "Telling her to ignore the pain would do nothing. Using her childhood beliefs, what her mother taught her, is far more effective. The truth doesn’t matter when you heal – it is the result that you must pay attention to."
Snuggling down next to the warmth of the old Hobbit-woman’s body, Ula pondered. If the trick worked for a woman in childbirth, might it work at other times, too?
With permission, I’ve borrowed Gilda and Ula from Anglachel on a temporary basis. This story is set a few years before Ang’s "Legacy."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.