The Lost Swords of the Shire - Chapter 2: The Mustering of the Shire ~Part 4~

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Digger:
~Continued from Chapt. 2: Part 3~

The next morning came far too soon for Bucca.  By the time that he ate his breakfast with Cambdis and Goldie, he was almost awake but still red-eyed and stiff.  He put on his hat and cloak and headed outside to see what was happening at Brandy Hall.  Cambdis and Brelokris walked beside him in silence, enjoying the fresh smell of a May morning.  When they turned the corner towards the great Hall, they could both see that people were already starting to arrive.  Families were setup on the lawn and down by the river.  They both looked at each other and smiled.  They hurried into the Hall where the other friends were already hard at it again, planning, listing, ordering, and now counting. 

“What’s going on?” asked Bucca as he entered the main room.

“We are collecting war money,” said Rosy, “and Old Bolensbad has volunteered to manage our accounts for us.  Seems folks are more than helpful with their purses.  Especially if you ask them just right.”

Bucca slapped his head, “I had completely forgotten about money.  I guess we are going to need quite a bit.”  Then he wondered what Rosy thought was asking ‘just right.’  He decided he didn’t need to know.

“I didn’t forget,” said Rosy with a big grin. “Put the word out about the War Fund late last night before I slept.  Supplies costs, you know.”

“Will we have enough?” asked Bucca.

“We are already placing orders,” Goradoc replied.  “It looks like there will be more than enough money.”

“But we need help,” Boragrim stated firmly. “We need some experienced help, I think.  We were just talking about where we can find some.  This needs more experience than I have.”

“And medicines and healing need practice too,” inserted Diglobras.

“Don’t forget the Boundary Guard,” add Goradoc.  “They need their supplies and training as well.”

Cambdis stepped forward with Brelokris on his shoulder.  “I think I may have the answer to that little problem.  When I met Calenthal on his way to Bree, I sent some special messages with him.  I have asked a few of my friends to stop by and lend a hand.  They should arrive by the end of the week.  So you will have your experienced help.”

“Who is coming?” asked Boragrim.  Goradoc, Rosy, and Diglobras leaned forward intently awaiting his answer.

“Just never you mind,” Cambdis said smugly.  “Most likely it’s only some more old men for you to annoy.  You will see them when they get here.”

The rest of the week flew by quickly.  The friends worked past dark every night, and still they found more to do.  It seemed that organizing an army was turning out to be a lot more work than they had any of them expected.  Mostly it was details.  Buttons, for instance, were a problem.  As Rosy had pointed out, a hobbit can’t fight with his pants falling down.  Buttons were important.  She ordered plenty.  And there were blankets and nails and so many little things to think of.  Meanwhile, the crowd in front of the Hall and along the great Brandywine’s shores grew steadily larger and larger.
 
Finally, Friday arrived.  Bucca awoke early and found Cambdis already at breakfast.  One thing about this fellow, he thought to himself, he does like to eat.  As was now their daily ritual, they put on their cloaks and walked silently to the Hall.  When they rounded the bend, Bucca came to a sudden halt.  In front of Brandy Hall were hundreds of hobbits – men, women, children, and elders.  The lawn and all the riverside for some distance was packed with folks.  Bucca drew a deep breath and turned to Cambdis.  This was more than he had expected, and far more than he was prepared for.

“Will all of these people want to go?” he thought out loud.

“I suspect not all,” answered Cambdis.  “Many are children and loved ones who have come to see off their new warrior.  No, not all, but a good number of them will go.  Remember the Boundary Guard needs quite a few folks too.”

Bucca looked around the crowd and recognized many of the faces that turned and smiled at him or gave a nod his direction.  These were his friends, his neighbors; his beloved Shire was here on the lawn.  It wasn’t the land at all, he thought.  It wasn’t the hills and trees and roads and houses.  This was the Shire.  These people were his Shire.  And he was leading them to war - to fight and maybe not to return.  His heart sank at the thought.  He couldn’t help asking himself as he looked at each face in the morning sun, would this one come back?  Would this one die?

“I am worried,” he said to no one in particular.  “I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  Maybe I am not up to this after all.  I wish someone else would do this instead of me.  I am just a farmer.”

Cambdis led Bucca to the side of the hill where they could be apart from the crowd.  He pulled out his pipe and lit it.  Bucca took some of Cambdis’ pipeweed, filled his bear pipe, and began to blow rings – little green smoke rings.

Cambdis turned to Bucca and smiled, “I want to tell you a story.  I won’t do it justice like the elves do, but I will keep it short.”  Bucca looked up at his green friend with a puzzled stare.  He didn’t need a story this morning, not this morning in particular.  What he needed was …  He didn’t know what he needed at that moment, but not an old man’s story.

“This is about two elf Lords.  Both were great leaders, and both were afraid for their people and had doubts, just like you.  The first was named Turgon.  He was surrounded by enemies, and he feared that his people would not survive.  So he found a hidden vale, and there he built a great city with many names.  Gondolin is how most know it.  In that hidden vale he gathered his people and hid from his enemies.  He trusted no one and doubted every stranger.  He forbid any to enter or leave, he was so filled with doubt and fear.  His plan was to hide, to only trust those he knew, and his fear grew just like his city.  He let his doubts cut him off from the world around him.  One day someone he knew betrayed him, and he and his entire city were destroyed.  That is the first elf Lord.

“The second is still among us, and his name is Elrond.  He too gathered his people because he was surrounded by enemies.  He was afraid for them, and he built a place called Imladris where his people could live.  But he didn’t let his fears rule him, and he didn’t hide.  He had many doubts, and he used them to form the basis for counsel.  He is known for the wisdom of his counsels which are wise because he doubts.  But he doesn’t let doubt cut him off.  Imladris is open to all free peoples.  Elrond sends his people into the world to help others and always to struggle with the enemies around him.  Imladris thrives and is a haven for all because this elf Lord used his doubts and let his fears pass over him like winds.

“And that’s my story.  You fear for your people, son of Medoc.  You want to hide like Turgon, and in many ways the Shire is hidden.  You doubt yourself and your people, like both of these great leaders.  The question is will which kind of leader will you be?” concluded Cambdis with a great smoke ring that circled both their heads and rose into the morning light.

“I think that I understand,” Bucca said slowly.  “It’s okay to be afraid and to doubt.  What is important is what I decide to do with them.  Is that right?”

“I don’t know, Bucca.  It’s just a story,” answered Cambdis.  “Shall we go and meet your army now?”

Bucca nodded and knocked his pipe out as he rose thoughtfully.  He looked around him at all of his neighbors and friends, and he smiled.  As they walked through the crowd, folks greeted him and patted his back.  He, in turn, shook hands, patted shoulders, and smiled confidently even though inside he still had his doubts and fears.  They had come, just like Goldie said they would.  The Shire was mustering its army.  It was time to get to work.

~end Chapter 2~

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