The green book of Tuckborough by Chiara Cadrich

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Prolog – The prince and his princesses

 .oOo.

-« Taa, Taratataaaa ! Knight Odrazàr dons his shining armor, carved by elven blacksmiths!" Trumpeted a confident puppy hobbit while wearing a beekeeper leotard.

- "Here, we are ready!

- You must come quickly and deliver us princesses from that horrible castle where there's even nothing to eat!

- Except us!

- Yes, we are terrified by the ugly ogre! You may come! ", tinkled an assembly of hobbit girls, pampered into princesses.

But the hero - an eight years old hobbit with cutely neglected blond curls - did not let the alarming cries disturb his concentration – there was a ritual to be observed, otherwise that was no fair game!

- « Taa, Taratataaaa ! Odrazàr the Powerful puts his magic helmet on, which protects from evil spells! "He bragged with a handleless pot on his head.

- "Well… what about putting your seven-leagues boots on, just to go faster? For we're ready to be rescued!

- Please let him outfit! Otherwise he could not be able to rescue us! You understand nothing about heroes!

- Taa, Taratataaaa! Odrazàr the dreaded Número… knight of Nùmenor mounts his trusty steed! »

The steed gave a disaproving yapping, growled somehow when the little hobbit seized him by the neck, but had to obey Odrazàr the tyrant.

- « Well, is it not time now you just come and open that door? I mean, that drawbridge?

- Patience, you weeping maidens! Your hero is rushing to your rescue! Taa, Taratataaaa! Odrazàr the Beautiful girdles… takes his three stripes shield and brandishes his spear!

- Oh, dear, what a long time he needs to get dressed, that one!

- Must say he’s always so smart!

- ... and cute! But step aside, I can see nothing! »

The small Hobbit girls, disguised with princely draperies, jostled at the shed’s window - the dungeon’s stain glass, should we say - where the ogre had locked them, to contemplate their splendid and beloved knight. To be honest, the princesses’ confab had not yet resolved the question of who was actually going to marry handsome Gerry when they are grownups. For now, each Highness projected herself in a sublime union with the dashing heir to the Thain[1]of the Shire, without completely realizing that her comrades’ dreams might thwart hers.

Odrazàr, in the person of his young admirer Gerry, launched his mount - that was to say Houn, the big black family dog - against the first obstacle, with a rake pointed forward as his spear.

A scarecrow, dressed with the grandfather’s old chainmail, stretched his threatening arms in the middle of the garden.

- "Taa, Taratataaaa! The assault has begun! The monster’s roaring and slyly hits with claws and fangs! But Odrazàr the Indomitable slish... er… slush? er… hits and thrusts and defeats his ignoble opponent!"

The fight dragged on, under the very eyes of the princesses who were taking the game. The Ogre lost his pumpkin – sorry, his head - which broke out and spread disgusting orange filaments. From time to time, the hero made sure, with the corner of his eye, the effect on his cheering audience. But indeed, the ogre, even headless, continued to fight and defended rather well: during the final close combat, the heavy chainmail had the scarecrow and the boy fall on a heap of smelly manure.

The dandy hero, sheepish and suffocating, argued he had to fetch his squire. So Odrazàr the Stinking flew for a makeover. The gallery wondered:

- “But what is he doing? Why he doesn’t play anymore?

- Pfuu! He is so muddy, even Houn departs from him!

- Well, I am fed up with that! I am gotta have my tea and biscuits…

-… But? He locked the door for good!”

.oOo.

When Odrazàr the Gleaming returned, quite refreshed, a princess revolt was brewing at the ogre’s castle. Half a dozen young Hobbit girls, flouted and hungry, were screaming vengeance and bidding for punishment! Even the princesses most in love with beautiful Gerry, had great difficulty to prove him right. Only tiny Priscilla, the daughter of Tobold Hornblower, kept faith in her hero. Obviously, Gerry’s closest relatives were the most virulent, especially his cousins.

But it is in hard times that a real hero acquires his full stature. However booed, Odrazàr the Valiant stepped triumphantly, carrying before him a beautiful plum pie:

- "Hear ye, my Beauties! So I went to fetch the antidote to the poison the ogre had you drink! "

Gerry fetched the dish by the broken window, and the revolted hobbit-girls rushed on the cake. For several minutes no recrimination was heard any more- Grandmother Took’s delicacies were famous!

Gerry wisely waited until the wrath calmed down. After their second piece of pie, even his most furious detractors, ackowledged the hero lacked neither relevance, nor panache.

Gerry knew then it was time to revive the dramatic intensity of his tale. For he had the soul of a jester, and could invent on the spot all kinds of stories, tricks, excuses and evasions with aplomb, an innate sense of wit and a syntax… constantly progressing. As a gallant son of the Thain, he even imagined an episode that would showcase the finesse of “his” princesses:

- "Taa Taratataaa! Sweet maidens, daughters of kings! You have just escaped the most terrible fate ever! But here's the definite ordeal, which will decide the happiness of your life as a woman-hobbit! »

This reply, punctuated by a gallant fiery gaze, had been repeated many times in the mirror - the reader will note that no language approximation altered the desired effects! The young Hobbit-girls, again taken to the game and simpering, tended their tender little face at the window of the old shed. The charmer fired a disarming smile and recited:

- "The Ogre had stolen the ring the jeweler had shipped… er… shopped… built for my engagement. The ignoble creature has hidden this treasure in this very dungeon! I will give my heart to the first damsel, who finds this token of my eternal love! …»

Obviously, that was ridiculous... Nobody grants, by pure decision, his eternal love and even less blindly! But indeed, there is nothing blinder than young Hobbit girls with a crush, except maybe the jealousy of crushless cousins.

A dozen nimble and chubby hands began desperately rummaging through the shed. With howls of outrage, shelves were overthrown, boxes opened. Tools fell, grandfather’s trinkets were destroyed and some disputes broke out. Gerry, absolutely delighted by the emotions he aroused, opened the dungeon and separated the opponents, comforting each with a flirtatious smile.

But the competition continued! Priscilla Hornblower, febrile and virulent, found a precious wooden box, much to the disappointement of her rivals. A struggle ensued, the young Hobbit girl managed to stop by seizing a dibble:

-« I found it, I open it! »

The young Hobbit girls, contrite, formed a circle around the winner who indulged in the solemnity of the moment by opening the casket with a majestic gesture. She threw a languid glance to her promised one, rummaging in the box when she was interrupted by a volley of big flies that escaped from it. She uttered a cry of horror, dropping the precious casket, immediately imitated by her companions - big pink and white worms twisted their rings in a bed of shavings.

Odrazàr the felon was immediately attacked by the princesses for that most sick joke. For a moment he began to doubt, that his charisma could afford anything, and he despaired getting out of this embarrassing situation. Only his sister, who was not bothered at all by her grandfather’s fishing worms box, found the idea utterly romantic. Seizing the ring amid the swarming mass, she asked innocently:

- “Now I have it! May I marry you?”

So much candor gave a stop to the bickering all of a sudden. With an astonishing timeliness, Gerry set aside a cowlick, took his little sister in his arms and, turning towards the loosers, said with luster:

- "She is the most courageous of you all! She is my sister and a Took! I may not describe my disench… disab… Well all of you terribly disappointed me today! »

Mortified by this moving tirade, the young Hobbit girls suffered the law of the young heartthrob, accusing themselves of cowardice instead of rebelling against his gross lack of consideration, that hid behind a selfish gallantry.

And this was to endure for many years...

.oOo.

NOTES


[1]The Thain is a more or less hereditary dignity. In the Hobbits history, the Thain has always been the leader of one of the most powerful clans. When the Shire was establishment, the leader of the Oldbuck clan was the Thain. Then the clan lost influence to the point of exiling itself across the Brandywine River and founding an independent enclave, Buckland, and changing their name into Brandybuck. Since Isengrin the first, the Tooks hold the title of Thain.




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