6. A Small Package
The Hobbits had been following the Big Person for over an hour. He never knew they were there, unless perhaps he had the uneasy feeling that eyes were following him. He seemed to be looking for herbs, which was a strange thing for a Big Person to be doing near the borders of the Shire. He didn’t seem to be any threat, but it was the Bounder’s job to keep track of strange folk. There were farms and families only a short hike away. They depended on the Bounders to keep them safe. The Bounders were out on patrol because there had been reports of Goblins in the woods, though they were most likely the product of fertile imaginations.
This one was big, even for a Big Person. Tall, with dark hair and dark clothes that had seen better days. A large sword hung from his belt, and he wore tall black boots. He moved through the woods almost as quietly as a Hobbit, which was uncommon among his kind. The Hobbits only noticed him because they chanced upon him in a clearing. After a while he found what he was looking for, a small clump of Kingsfoil, a common weed, which was useful for relieving headaches according to old wives tales. He cut a large sprig with his pocketknife and then began walking through the woods at a great pace. The Hobbits were hard pressed to keep up without making any noise.
They caught up with him only because he stopped at his destination, a small clearing where another Big Person lay by a small fire, seemingly sick or injured. The Hobbits watched from the bushes as the man they had been following tore up the Kingsfoil leaves and put them in a small bowl. He then poured a few drops of liquid from a small glass bottle into the bowl and began to mash the ingredients with a spoon.
At this point, the leader of the Hobbits and his companions held a whispered debate.
“What should we do with him?” Whit asked. “You’re the leader.”
“He doesn’t look like he’s up to any mischief, and his friend appears to be badly wounded,” Toby answered. “The kindly thing to do would be to give them some help.”
“But, he’s a big person,” Gorm said.
“The other one looks to be hurt bad. We should help if we can,” Toby answered. “I’m going to go and talk to them. You spread out and cover me with your bows.”
Hobbits move so quietly that the man was startled when Toby stepped out of the brush and into the clearing. He jumped up and drew his sword. They both looked scared to death.
“Easy there”, said Toby, holding his hands out so the stranger could see he was unarmed. “I just came to see if your friend needed any help.”
The Big Person looked him up and down before he smiled and sheathed his sword saying, “A Perian, I should have expected as much this close to your land.”
“I am Tobold Hornblower, Master of these parts, and the people of this land are called Hobbits, not Perians. I may be shorter than you, but I count myself a whole person,” Toby said, somewhat indignantly. “It is my duty to patrol these woods and inquire of those I find here as to their business.”
“I beg your pardon Master Hornblower,” the man said quite sincerely. “It was not my intention to question your authority or insult your people. It is the word for your people I was taught as a lad. I will endeavor to use Hobbit in the future."
“Fair enough,” answered Toby, “What are you doing here and when will you be leaving?”
“My father and I were hunting when he was injured. We will be on our way as soon as he can travel.” The man answered.
“Whatever you were hunting must have shot back,” Toby answered, pointing to two halves of a bloody black arrow laying on the ground near the injured man.”
“You have a sharp eye. We were hunting Yrch,” the Man said.
“Yrch?” Toby questioned.
“Sorry, Goblins in the common tongue,” the man answered.
“Did you get them?” Toby asked. “We are out on patrol because there were reports of Goblins in these woods the last few days.”
“Yes, every last one, and not more than two hours ago, but not before they killed our companion, and wounded my father," the Man said.
“He looks like he needs more help than you can give him.” Toby said.
“We have learned to rely on ourselves. He’s a tough old bird and I have some skill in healing,” the man answered.
“I am not going to leave a wounded man laying in the woods when I can help. We are going to care for him, the matter is settled. In this wood, my word is law,” Toby answered and motioned with his hand to someone behind him.
In a moment, six more Hobbits appeared from the brush, bearing bows with arrows knocked.
“My boys, Tom and Will”, Toby said, nodding to two Hobbits standing together, “and Lob, Whit, Gam and Gorm. I did not catch your name.”
“My apologies sir. I am Arassuil and this is my father, Arahad. We will be grateful for any assistance you care to give. I just did not want to burden you with our troubles,” the man said. The wounded man grunted and tried to raise his head in greeting but collapsed with a pained look on his face.
The man knelt down by his father, and said, “I have to begin treating him, or he will not see another sunrise”.
Toby turned around and said, “Tom, go fetch Grandma. Tell her what has happened. Bring a few of the lads, and the stretcher too.”
“My mother will be able to help, if anyone can. She’s the one folks in South-farthing call for if there has been an injury. She knows her business,” Toby said.
The man grunted, “Thanks”, and began pressing the Kingsfoil mash into his father’s wound.
Once the wound was poulticed, Arassuil took a dried brown leaf from his shoulder bag. He rolled it up and lit the end in the fire. He held the smoldering roll of leaf near his father’s nose so he could inhale the smoke.
“What are you doing?” Tobold asked.
"This is a medicinal herb called Galenas or more commonly Westman’s Weed. The smoke eases the pain of those who are hurt."
“Interesting”. Was Toby’s only reply.
Before long Tom returned with Grandma Hornblower and four stout looking farm hands. The wounded man was placed on the stretcher and they carried him to the edge of the woods. From there he was transported by wagon to the Hornblower farmhouse.
With Grandma Hornblower’s skilled care, and a steady diet of good Hobbit food, the wounded man recovered quickly, and the two men were ready to travel in a fortnight. No one ever knew they were there except for a few Bounders, farm hands and members of the family. In the middle of the night, the two men said their good-byes and melted into the shadows.
A few months later a small parcel was found on the doorstep with Grandma Hornblower’s name on it. Inside was a bundle of dried Galenas leaf, a small sack of seeds, and instructions for cultivation written on parchment.
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.