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Subject:Primula and the Magpie
Author:the Uncle Gamgee
Date:Wed Sep 16 08:01:42 1998

Now, you'll remember what happened when Primula Burrowes, and her cousins and
friends had an adventure with fireworks and fancy studs, all on a Mid-summer
Night? Well, one way and another, that pair of fancy studs of the Old Took's
seemed almost determined to lead Primula into all sorts of odd situations,
and the very next time she came to stay with her Took cousins, they managed
to do so again!

It was a fairly grey and cloudy day, but hot and close, as if threatening
thunder, so Primula was on her own playing outside, whilst all her cousins
stayed indoors, sipping cool drinks. Most of the windows at Great Smials had
been thrown open, to try to let a little breeze pass in, and cool the stuffy
rooms, and the Old Took had once again left his diamond studs on the desk
(for after all, theft is a rare thing in these lands). Well, as Primula
played, she noticed a big magpie jumping about the garden, and suddenly he
hopped onto the window sill and then flew away, crying out an almost
triumphant "Caw! CAW!!" And as he passed above her, Primula looked up and
saw, to her dismay, that he had one of those diamond studs gripped firmly in
his beak!

"Oh my!" she exclaimed. "The Old Took will be so upset to loose his stud! But
perhaps the bird has his nest nearby, and I might be able to follow him there
and bring back the stud, to make up for what happened at Mid-year."

And so little Primula ran off after the bird, as fast as her little legs
would carry her.

At first the bird settled in a tree not far away, and Primula felt sure that
this would be an easy task. But as he saw her approaching, he ruffled his
feathers, screamed another great "CAW!!!" and took off once again. Primula
hurried after him once more, but every time the bird stopped and she began to
draw near, he would look straight at her, ruffle his feathers, then take off
again. And soon Primula began to tire, and found it hard to keep up with him,
losing sight of him again and again among the trees of the Green Hills.

And so, eventually, poor Primula had to give up her chase, and she sat upon
the soft grass of a gentle hill wondering what to do, and muttering under her
breath about what a bally nuisance birds really could be! Well, you can just
imagine her surprise when a voice behind her said,

"Whatever do you have to dislike about birds?"

Primula whirled around, and standing behind her, sharpening his mighty beak
on a large rock, was a massive eagle!

"I'll grant you that there is rumour that crebain are in league with the
Enemy," he continued, quite unperturbed by the little hobbit's incredulous
stare. "But the ravens are fast friends of the dwarves, and even we eagles
have a few friends among those that go on two legs." He peered at her with
his dark eyes, and continued, "And don't you enjoy listening to song-birds
in the spring?"

Primula felt a little abashed, and without thinking too much about the fact
that she was chatting to the biggest eagle she had ever heard of, she poured
out her tale to him. Somehow the mighty bird managed to give an impression of
smiling, which was of course quite impossible to do with a beak, but she felt
at ease, and so when he offered to help her find the stud she happily agreed.

"Hop onto my back," he said, "and hold on tight, for I do not wish that you
should fall off whilst we fly."

What an experience Primula enjoyed! Although it was very scary for her at
first (as you know, no hobbit has any great liking for heights, and the eagle
flew far above the land, as he sought the thieving magpie), all the while,
the eagle talked to her, telling her of his people, and exclaiming what a
delight flying was, and how sorry he felt for her that she was unable to do
this by herself. So, by the time they found the magpie's hoard she had quite
forgotten to be frightened any more, and was beginning to enjoy soaring
through the skies.

What a bright and shiny collection the magpie had! There were bright pennies
and shiny pins, and even a few wedding bands that hobbit wives had set aside
whilst they washed the dishes. All manner of gleaming, glistening, golden and
glittering objects were stuffed into the bole of a tree. There seemed to be
pieces there stolen from all over the Shire for the past several months, and
by the time Primula had finished stuffing everything into her pockets, they
were bulging at the seams. The eagle carried her on his back again, and let
her off on the White Downs, quite close to Michel Delving, so that she could
take all the stolen treasures to the Mathom House, where their rightful
owners could collect them. Then the eagle carried her one last time, by now
complaining that he was not a transportation service for lazy hobbit
children! He bore her safely, as close to Great Smials as he dared to go,
then, as the shadows grew long and the sun dipped low toward the horizon, she
made her way home.

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