One fine spring day, when young Primula Burrowes was visiting her cousins
at Woodhall, the hobbit children went to play hide and seek, concealing
themselves in hedges and ditches, behind sheds and under woodpiles.
Although it was early in the season, not yet Thrimidge, the day was warm
and sunny, and huddled in a cosy recess under a hedge, Primula began to
feel quite drowsy, and soon she dropped off into a deep sleep.
Before she knew it, darkness had fallen, and she awoke to a sound of
strange voices, singing a sweet, but almost unearthly song. The music
rang out clearly, in voices which sounded as tiny bells, tinkling in the
cool of the night. At first the words seemed unfamiliar to her, but the
more she listened the more they began to make sense. Certainly they did
not seem to offer any threat, so she began to creep out of her hiding
place, trying to spy out who was making such pretty music.
Not far away, in a small clearing in the woods, a campfire had been lit,
and tall, slender figures sat about it. As she drew closer, the song
began to seem more clear to her, and although the words themselves were
still strange to her, their meaning somehow became plain. And this is
what she heard them sing:
The wandering fires the woodland fill,
In glades for ever green they glow,
In dells that immortal dews distill,
And fragrance of all flowers that grow.
There melodies of music spill,
And falling fountains plash and flow,
And a water white leaps down the hill
To seek the sea no sail doth know.
Its voices fill the valleys low,
Where breathing keen on bent and briar
The winds beyond the world's edge blow
And wake to flame a wandering fire.
Striving to see the singers more clearly, Primula pressed foward and
CRACK! A small twig suddenly snapped beneath her feet. The songsters
stopped their music-making, and turned their faces towards her. As she
looked upon their ageless features, their lustrous hair, as black as jet
or like to woven silver, or fine spun gold, and as she took in the light
in their wise eyes, the little hobbit realised that she was in the
presence of elves!
"Come, join our gathering," one of the party said. Primula hesitated,
then bravely stepped forward into the ring of light. Nearing the group
she saw that the light came not only from the fire, but also from pretty
lanterns hung upon the boughs of the trees, and their sparkling light was
reflected in the faces of her hosts.
What a night Primula had, though for ever afterwards she found it hard to
recall any but the barest of details of her adventure. Sweet foods she
tasted, and a light fruit cordial, more delicious than any punch her
mother could make. And such music she heard, for the elves soon resumed
their singing. And, sitting at their feet, she again began to feel quite
drowsy... and soon she was fast asleep.
When next she woke, she found herself laid upon a soft bed of ferns and
grasses. But of the elven band and their camp there was no sign. And when
she hurried back to Woodhall and told her tale to her astonished cousins
and her worried parents, nobody would believe a word! But Primula knew in
her heart that she had feasted with the Firstborn, a people of myth and
legend. And for ever afterwards, on mild spring nights, she would sit at
her bedroom window, hoping once more to catch a glimpse of the fair folk,
or hear a snatch of the sweet songs.