Of Mushrooms and other Adventures
Much room for mushrooms
Szilla is one of our new members, already eagerly looking for ideas for exciting stories to tell. Here is one she told at the Green Dragon on Friday November 19. The drawing above is hers too, showing her thinking up some stories to tell at the Dragon.
Of Mushrooms and other Adventures
This is a story about this hobbit lass, Holly, and her brother Arnold, who were sent to the market to buy the best mushrooms in the whole Shire. But on the way back, Arnold grew hungry: It was lunch time, after all!
Holly told him to wait for the pie, but Arnold would hear nothing of it. After a while he offered to carry the basket for his sister. Holly did not mind too much, because it was quite the hot day in early autumn. You know those days, when you think summer is over and the mornings already smell of autumn, and the corn is golden in the fields, but then you are blessed with a blue sky and the warm sun on your face?
Arnold, however, was a bit fed up, because he had to go with his little sister instead of taking a nap in the garden. And he was hungry. And he thought, one missing mushroom, or two, would surely not be noticed by anyone.
It was quite the long way from Bywater. And when they were half way home and Arnold stuck his hand into the basket the next time, it was empty. Now he suddenly realized that he was in big trouble! He started to sweat, but not from the heat this time. Holly, who had first been talking about the beauty of the Shire in autumn and the harvest celebrations, had fallen silent after noticing that her brother seemed uninterested in any of it. Well, you can imagine that she was not amused, when she inevitably found out about the missing mushrooms! Not enough that her mother had not let her go alone and that her brother was complaining most of the time, now he had also gotten himself into trouble. Or worse, both of them!
“Well it was your fault! You couldn’t have gone alone, could you!” Said Arnold instead of an apology. “Well you couldn’t have eaten the mushrooms” said Holly angrily “now what are we going to do?”
Suddenly, Arnold had an idea. “Farmer Maggot’s farm is not far. We can get the best mushrooms there!” He said, with a determined expression on his face. Holly, however, knew the Shire quite well from her secret “adventures” and was not so sure. It would take far too long and it was getting dark earlier now. But her brother would not listen to it. He claimed to know a special shortcut through the woods that would bring them there in no time. “And how will you prove anyway, that it was I who ate the mushrooms?” he said to Holly “Come with me now and stop complaining”.
And off they went, climbing over a wooden fence and making towards the woods.
Now, Bamfurlong is not exactly ‘on the way’ if you live in Brockenborings. But Holly had no choice but to follow her older brother. After a while, they saw Methel stage lying to their right. Holly felt like they should go more towards the north east (she loved wandering about and she loved maps) but her brother was quite sure they were on the right path and would hear none of it. He was feeling unsure too, but felt that as the older brother he should know the way and should be very sure about it as well. Stubbornly he went towards the east.
The shadows were getting longer and the light more golden, as they went up and down over hills and through fields. Every now and then they came through small groups of trees and undergrowth. They even found the one or other edible mushroom, but it was by far not enough to fill their basket. And although none of them said it out loud, they had lost any sense of where they were going. But Holly felt like, whatever she said, her brother would not listen and Arnold felt like it was expected of him to be strong and sure of the way.
“You know that there could be dangerous animals in the woods, when it is getting dark?” Said Holly after a while. “Don’t be ridiculous, we are in the Shire! What should happen?” laughed Arnold. But he too kept a nervous eye on the growing shadows.
Suddenly, as if on command, there was a rustling in the bushes next to them!
Arnold and Holly both shrieked and jumped back. “Quick! On the tree!” Shouted Holly, and up they went as fast as they could, dropping their half full basket in the process.
The rustling stopped.
They watched, all muscles tense, as a brown rabbit bounced out of the bush and started to nibble on a batch of grass.
“See! Nothing dangerous!” scoffed Arnold, relieved. Before he could make a move to jump down from the tree, a much louder rustling could be heard and the rabbit darted away like a flash. Soon, a huge black bear burst out from the trees! He was hungry and had smelled the mushrooms in the basket. He began to eat them hungrily, while Holly and Arnold could do nothing but watch helplessly, as their hope of reaching home without anyone noticing that the mushrooms had ever disappeared, slowly vanished into the hungry mouth of a big black bear.
Arnold cursed his appetite (his own and the bear’s) but did not dare to make a sound, as he didn’t know if the bear would suddenly discover his taste for hobbit. Now sitting in that tree, while Arnold looked at the bear, holding his breath, Holly climbed further up and looked around for something that could save them from this terrible mess, before the bear would get the idea to try and see how he liked the taste of hobbits. Both Arnold and the bear jumped a bit, when they suddenly heard Holly shouting loudly: “Help! Help over here! There’s a bear! Help!” “Have you gone mad?” cried Arnold, who thought this would surely lead to their end. But Holly paid him no mind. She waved her arm around, gesticulating wildly. Her brother frantically tried to climb further up in the tree too and almost slipped in the process. Terrified, he clutched the tree trunk and did not dare to move anymore.
Then, they suddenly heard a loud rustling in the bushes for the third time.
Arnold closed his eyes, not wanting to see a second bear emerge. Contrary to his expectations, he heard a several loud “whoosh” sounds and a thud, the bear yowled and Arnold opened his eyes, just in time to see him run for cover deeper in the wood! Holly cheered. “Thank you! Thank you so much!” She shouted down to the group of hobbits standing below the tree. They were a mushroom-hunting-party of Tooks, the group Holly had seen from up in the tree. They had heard her cry and had seen her wave and had rushed to their aid immediately.
Now, there was a loud and cheerful (and relieved) round of introductions and hellos and thank yous! Arnold and Holly were helped down from the tree and they were taken into the middle of the group, who were most interested to learn, why they had been in the middle of a forest. At all, but especially when it was getting dark. “Bamfurlong?” Asked Bundo who was the leader of the group. “But that is a completely different direction! ‘Tis not wise to wander about in those woods without a proper map and equipment.” Holly shot Arnold a look that clearly said “I told you so!” Arnold felt especially foolish now and hung his head.
Holly told them the rest of the story, about how they had “lost” their mushrooms and had tried to get some more. The others laughed at that and shook their heads and exchanged some glances clearly meaning “foolish young hobbits”, even though most of them were themselves not much older. Bundo told them that they knew that bear, as he sometimes tried to steal their honey. “A few stones thrown his way will usually scare him off. He has just a sweet tooth, and apparently a taste for mushrooms – who can blame him.”
It was getting dark now for real and some Hobbits started lighting lamps and if they hadn’t been so worried about what they would tell their parents and what their poor parents would think when they did not get home that night, they would have greatly enjoyed the singing and laughing march through the autumn evening, their faces bathed in warm orange lamp light which was reflected from the trees and bushes around them.
The forest was now getting lighter fast. The trees grew less frequent and the bushes smaller. Around the next corner, they suddenly saw the warmly lit windows of Tuckborough, twinkling friendly and welcoming at them from not too far away. “We must have moved in a circle!” Cried Holly and smacked her hand into her forehead. The hobbits laughed merrily and patted them on the shoulders. “Don’t worry, you are safe now!” They were ushered inside and given hot tea and some food and while they were still munching happily (it had been a long day, they had missed lunch, afternoon tea AND supper) they started to worry again about their parents. “Can we send them a note somehow?” Asked Arnold nervously.
Bundo chuckled “there will be no need for it!” He said with laughter in his eyes. Just in that moment, two younger hobbits came inside, shouting: “The carriage is ready!” Everyone laughed at the confused and disbelieving faces of Holly and Arnold, while uando ushered them back out. “As a bounder, I cannot leave two young Hobbits in distress and their parents in even greater worry!” He offered as explanation, as he helped them climb onto the simple wooden carriage. They had some warm blankets and it was not so uncomfortable at all and they waved their goodbyes and thanked everyone again and again, until Bundo seemed to almost feel embarrassed by it and vanished inside.
Then they were beginning their journey home.
They were looking at the moon and the many stars that were slowly starting to become brighter and it made them feel very small. Arnold suddenly turned around to Holly with a determined yet unsure look on his face. “I am so sorry!” He said and it seemed to cost him a lot of willpower to say it. “I should not have eaten the mushrooms. And I should have listened to you when you said we were going the wrong way.” He hung his shoulders. “It is all my fault. I will tell Ma and Pa.”
Holly looked at him, suddenly unsure. “Why did you do it?” She asked quietly after a while.
Arnold struggled with an answer. “I was fed up.” He said after a moment, with red ears. “I did not want to go to the market. I was looking forward to a good nap in my favorite spot in the garden. I thought you could have well done it alone.”
“Really?” said Holly, checking his face and suddenly smiling at him as he nodded sheepishly. “I was annoyed because of that too! I could have done it alone! But I tried to make the best of the situation, which you should have done too! Will you swear to me, that you will consider my opinion just the same as yours next time and be honest with me from now on?” Said Holly, giving him a piercing look.
“Aye! I swear it! It seems, like you are the wiser hobbit of us, after all!” Said Arnold, with a hand on his heart, and he managed a smile too, while still looking quite serious. Then they laughed together, feeling both quite foolish and they fell quiet for the rest of the journey, each occupied with their own thoughts.
Then they reached a familiar hedge and shortly after a familiar gate, and when they peered out of their blankets, they saw a curtain moving behind a lit window and then the door was opened and their father ran out with open arms, crying and hugging them before they had even climbed down from the carriage and their little dog was barking happily and it was all quite the noise and excitement, which started all anew when their mother joined as well.
Then the time was come to tell what had happened. Arnold looked up at his parents with red ears and opened his mouth, but in that moment, Holly took his hand and spoke instead. “It was an accident.” She said with a clear voice. “We’re so sorry. We got distracted by the beautiful autumn weather and were not paying attention to the time. When we realised how late it was, we hurried and tried to take a shortcut but we got lost in the woods. We were even attacked by a bear and Master Bundo Took and his friends saved us! We would not be here right now without their help. It was very foolish of us.” She hung her head and Arnold did the same, although he squeezed her hand in thanks and disbelief while doing so, a warm feeling in his chest.
“Ah, one moment!” Came a cheerful voice from the carriage, preventing further questions. The two hobbits had watched the scene with amused smiles and now one of them pulled something large from between their feet. “You almost forgot your mushrooms!” He said, and under the astonished eyes of Arnold and Holly, he handed their full basket of mushrooms to their father, who took them happily.
Later that evening, when all the excitement had turned down and their bellies were filled with warm mushroom soup, Holly and Arnold sat on a fence in their garden and watched the stars with a warm mug of tea in their hands, cuddled into cozy blankets. (They could never drink tea again without remembering their adventure). Now, in the safety of their home, the whole affair didn’t seem so bad. They were soon laughing about the rabbit, about the bear who liked honey and mushrooms and about Bundo’s face when they had thanked him for the hundredth time.
Holly and Arnold never found out, how and by whom their mushrooms had been replaced.
Their parents never found out what brought forth the change in Arnold they witnessed in the following months, but they were quite pleased with it, thinking that both their children had turned out quite respectable.
But one thing I know for certain: This was surely not their last adventure.