Author's Chapter Notes:
March 13 Challenge
Write a story or poem or create artwork featuring unanswered requests, prayers or pleas.
Tibalt was surprised to see a gate across the Brandywine Bridge. Granted, it had been more than a decade since last he travelled this way, but there never had been a gate there before. He halted his mule and stepped down from the cart to approach it.
He was quite surprised when a hobbit stood up next to it. He had not seen the small figure sitting in the grass by the gate. "Who are you," said the hobbit, "and what is your business?"
"My name is Tibalt Tinkerson, at your service," he said, giving a little half-bow of introduction. "I am a travelling tinker, and would journey on the road West, to ply my trade."
The hobbit sighed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Tinkerson. I can't allow you to enter. No Man may come into the Shire without special permission, by order of the new king."
Tibalt was taken aback. He was aware of the new king of Gondor and Arnor, and the peace imposed by the fall of Sauron, but he had no idea that there was a law about entering the Shire. "How does one get such permission?" he asked. Perhaps it was a simple matter of paying a small fee.
"You must have written authority, granted by the Thain, the Master of Buckland, and the Mayor of the Shire. We can send a message to the Master from here, but no telling how long it will take for all three o' them to get together and give you permission."
"Oh." This was very disconcerting to say the least. He'd hoped to once more be able to travel the Great East-West Road in pursuit of his trade. That would not be possible without passage through the Shire.
"I'm very sorry, sir. By the way, I'm Bertie Banks at your service. I was about to have my elevenses-- would you join me? We'd have to stay this side o' the gate, though."
Tibalt knew from past experience that it was an honor to be asked to join a hobbit at a meal, so he nodded, and took some of his own provisions from the cart to add to the hobbit's. They made a meal of bread, cheese, pickles, and roasted chicken from Bertie's contribution, while Tibalt provided some apples, pears, walnuts, and a bottle of beer from The Prancing Pony in Bree.
"You know, we don't see tinkers often in the Bridgefields, Mr. Tinkerson. If you want, you can set up for a while here on the verge on this side o' the Bridge. If I put the word out at the Bridge Inn you are here, I'm sure you'll have some custom today."
"Thank you, Bertie. Please, call me Tibalt. I will do that, then, if you think it may be worthwhile."
So Tibalt set a small camp up just east of the Bridge, and was gratified that he had at least a half a dozen small customers come over the Bridge, bringing him pots or buckets to mend or to purchase needles and pins that afternoon.
He was surprised and touched when he found his meals that day being supplied by the hobbits, one of whom was the innkeeper, who apologised for not being able to host him. The following morning, he broke camp, said farewell to Bertie, and turned his mule's nose towards Bree. He'd have to see if he could find out more about this edict. It was really going to make business difficult.