The Book of Curios
Amongst any collection of primary sources there are always bound to be scraps of text which do not readily fall into easy categorisation - letters, notes, and suchlike. Rather than ignore these fascinating fragments of historical evidence I have compiled them here, in the Book of Curios. Several of these papers even appear to have been written by the very hands of members of the Silent Minority, and as such are priceless artifacts of the Third Age!
The King's RestForewordI have a little tale I'd like to tell!If you are all comfortable, then I shall begin...Tales are often told of the five Wizards: the White, the Grey, the Brown, and even sometimes of the two Blue Wizards.But on this festive occasion, good friends, I wish to tell you a short winter parable of the sixth Wizard, Sanntar -- The Red Wizard!The StoryNot since the Fell Winter could anyone in The Shire remember a cold so bitter.Icicles hung like spears, the roads were blocked by deep snow and treacherous ice, and the Brandywine River had frozen over.At around that time, in the north of The Shire, there was an inn known as The King's Rest.The inn's location in beautiful wooded hills had always ensured its prosperity.It was not only frequented by many travellers, but also by well-to-do folk who simply wanted a few days' holiday in pleasant surroundings.However, because of the harshness of the winter and the impassibility of the roads, the inn had barely seen a customer in many a long week.Supply wagons had been abandoned on the road by their owners, and travel had all but ceased along the Great Road.The inn-keeper thought he may have to close the inn down, and tell all his staff to return to their homes far away.Then, one evening, just as the inn-keeper had decided that the very next day he would have to make the sad announcement to his staff, there was a quiet rapping on the bar in the common-room.Peering out of his office, the inn-keeper saw there was an old man at the bar.The old man was stooping and dishevelled, and clearly pinched and trembling with cold, despite his cloak and long beard."Good evening," said the inn-keeper. "What might I do for you on this most chilly of evenings?""W-well," replied the old man, his old teeth a-chattering, "I'm very much in need of a meal and a bed for the night.""We can certainly provide you with both," said the inn-keeper. "The cost will be two silver pennies.""I must admit, kind sir," said the old man, "that I don't have any money to pay... just at the moment. But, if you send me away, I will surely die in the wilderness!"The inn-keeper felt sorry for the old man, and asked him to settle himself down at one of the many vacant chairs by the fire.As the old man made himself comfortable, the inn-keeper saw the flash of a fine red robe beneath the old man's rough travelling cloak.The inn-keeper wondered if perhaps the old man had once been wealthy before falling upon some ill fortune.Then, thinking no more about it, the inn-keeper fetched a meal for the old man.He brought cold meats, hot soup, a new loaf, and a good, deep mug of beer. It was very good fare under such circumstances, and the old man ate hungrily and gratefully.When the old man was done, he turned to the inn-keeper. "Kind sir, thank you for your generosity.""If I may," the old man continued, "I will retire to bed now. You won't see me in the morning, but I promise that you will receive much more than two silver pennies for your kindness."The inn-keeper smiled in return, but said nothing; he did not expect to see the old man again, not to mention the two silver pennies.Then, in the morning, the inn-keeper was awoken by the Sun in his eyes...The Sun! For weeks, She had been hidden, and there had been nothing but cold, grey gloomy days!The inn-keeper jumped out of bed and looked through his chamber windows. The icicles outside were dripping with sparkling clear water! The ice was melting!The inn-keeper ran through the common-room to the inn's front door, and was surprised to find it standing open!Draped over a chair by the doorway, he recognised the old man's cloak from the night before.Stepping outside, the old man was nowhere to be seen, but, on the path leading away from the inn, were slowly fading footsteps in the melting snow!Laughing in his joy and relief, with the golden sunlight shining full on his face, the inn-keeper lit his pipe, and he waited for the first supply wagons and travellers to begin their journeys once again!The End!
To: Mrs Ma Beolafswife17 Pigdung Lane
Greetings from The Shire! It’s me, Beolaf, your wandering son!
Don’t worry, I haven’t learned my letters. My good friend Raiff is writing this while I do something he calls ‘dictating’. You should tell Dick Tate next door that they’ve named a kind of writing after him, he’ll be well chuffed! You’ll have to take this letter to Clerk Olafson when it arrives so as he can read it to you, but I suppose you already have if you’re following this!
I hope you and Pa are well, and that Pa has calmed down a bit since I left. How’s the new Idiot settling in? Is he as Idiotic as me? I bet he isn’t, but you can wish him good luck from me whoever he is. Tell him he can use my toad juggling routine if he wants.
I’ve had all kinds of adventures since I left, too many to tell about here, so I thought I’d tell you about something that happened quite recently – I was part of a march! A proper one too, not like that one we was on last year when we lynched that mule for being a witch.
I’ve fallen in with a good crowd of people, you see. Together we help fight all the bad people in this part of the world. They tell me that the Darkness has returned, whatever that means, and that the Free People must join together to fight it. It’s very exciting, but scary too. We call ourselves The Silent Minority. My best friend Maegnar explained why to me once, but I forgot.
Anyway, so my friends and me all met up outside a town called Bree, all dressed in our best clothes and looking powerful swanky. I had my best trousers and weskit on, the ones with the patches over the holes that the mice chewed. There were hobbits (like people, only shorter), dwarves (like the ones from the mountain), elves (like people, only with less warts), and regular people like me. It was some sight, Ma!
We marched with some other groups of folks, allies Miss Rose called them, from Bree to another town called Trestlebridge (Miss Rose is a hobbit lady, you'd like her). The other groups of folks all had matching uniforms on and marched in lines, I think they’d been naughty or something. We just walked along where we liked cause we had our own clothes on.
We stopped in Trestlebridge for a bit and a nice man talked to us about some things I didn’t rightly understand, and then we marched again to a place in the North Downs with some ruins in it. This part of the march was a bit scary so I hid behind my friend Feor for most of the way (Feor’s a fighting lady, you’d like her). We stopped in the ruins, which was a strange thing to do on account of them being full of nasty orcs.
Then someone from each group made a speech. I was too busy keeping a close eye on the orcs to pay much attention to what they were saying, but they sure sounded nice. It was Rhiannon that made the speech from our group, I remember that much (Rhiannon’s a singing elf, you’d like her). One of the groups with uniforms was all dwarves! They kept shouting things as if they a hair caught in their throats – probably from their beards.
Then everything went wrong. First some wolves attacked us, and then some orcs, and then some trolls! For a while I forgot that I wasn’t wearing my armour and I waded into them, swinging my sword and axe for all I was worth. The next thing I know I’ve got some troll drool on my weskit and I remembered where I was. I ran back to where Miss Rose was to help protect her, but Hrethmund was there so I just hung around trying to look brave (Hrethmund is a dwarf with lots of hats, you’d like him).
We beat the wolves and the orcs and the trolls, but then a bad man in a robe showed up and we noticed that all the people who’d made the nice speeches had gone. Even Rhiannon! It was awful! The man scared me and made me cower in fear. Luckily everyone else did too, so I didn’t feel so bad. Then he disappeared and I was confused some.
They tell me that the people the man took are being held captive in a place called the Ettenmoors. Our friends are going to go there in a few days to try and rescue them. I wanted to go too, but Maegnar says that me and Raiff have to stay here because it’s too dangerous for the likes of us. Annundril, our other housemate (he’s a strange elf, you wouldn’t like him), says he’s not going to go and help either cause it has nothing to do with him, and that our friends were stupid to go having a meeting in an orc-filled ruin in the first place. Maybe he’s right, but that doesn’t help poor Rhiannon. Anyway, I’m sure they’ll get her back.
I hope this reaches you, Ma. Raiff says we can write another letter together soon, so I’ll let you know what happens to my friends. Give my love to Pa.