A Bit of History by Certh

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'By the end of the first century of the Fourth Age there were already to be found in the Shire several libraries that contained many historical books and records. The largest of these collections were probably at Undertowers, at Great Smials, and at Brandy Hall.'

    - The Fellowship of the Ring, Prologue, Note on the Shire records

 It had been raining for the best part of an hour. And it wasn't a light drizzle, either. It was a full-blown storm. Windows and doors were bolted shut, and if one was to look towards Great Smials from afar, they would merely see a great, dark smudge against the horizon.

Inside the ancestral home of the Tooks, two hobbit-children sped down a corridor, the sound of their feet disturbing the stillness. A closed door somewhere nearby opened, and a plump hobbit-matron poked her head out, sternly calling out for quiet. Chastised, the young hobbits slowed to a walk and shuffled along, looking dejected. The younger of the two, a fair-haired girl, pouted and huffed.

Further down the empty corridor, a large door stood ajar and light spilled from within. Curious, the pair halted at the threshold and peeked around the heavy wood. A multitude of candles lit the bookcases and tables and chairs in the room brightly. At the far end, two elderly hobbits sat together at a desk, one brown head and one fair, flecked grey with age, bent close over books and leaves of parchment. The scratching of a quill punctured the silence.

The children looked at one another and shared a smile, and then entered the library on light feet.

“This isn't right, Pippin,” muttered one of the sitting hobbits, his curly, brown head streaked with more silver than his companion's. “We will have to amend it.” Vigorous scratching followed his words. After that the quill was stilled and he looked up. He saw the two youngsters and grinned. “Hullo, Beric-lad.”

The dark-haired boy mirrored his expression and walked towards him eagerly. “Hello, grandpapa.”

The girl went with him and gazed at the clutter on the desk curiously. “What are you writing?” She looked up at the fair-haired elderly hobbit.

“Cousin Merry and I are making a record of our adventure with the Big Folk,” he answered, and the girl stood on tiptoe to better view the parchments. “What of you, Posy-lass? Shouldn't you be playing?”

She glanced about and pulled a face. “The rain is awful,” came the declaration. “We can't go outside and there's nothing to do here.”

“I hope it stops soon. I wouldn't like to spend my first day of summer at Great Smials cooped up inside!” concurred Beric, but his younger companion had gone back to examining the many papers.

After a few moments, Posy looked up at the fair-haired hobbit, tilting her head to one side. “But, grandpapa, I read that cousin Bilbo had won his magic ring at a game of riddles,” she said.

Peregrin chuckled lightly. “That is what he wrote in his book, and what appears in several copies of it, but the true story is a bit different.”

Beric now sidled closer to him, eyes gleaming. “Different how?”

Next to him Meriadoc grinned faintly, put down his quill and sat up straighter in his chair. “The beginning, of course, is as recorded,” he said: “cousin Bilbo was dropped by the Dwarf Dori during their escape from the Goblins, bumped his head and lost consciousness. When he woke in the dark tunnel, he began crawling in the direction he thought he should go, but then his hand touched something cold and round.” So Merry began the tale, and the two hobbit-children sat down on the floor at his feet, listening in rapt attention, the storm outside forgotten.

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