Primula Goes A-Boating
One fine, hot summer day, Primula Burrowes and her Brandybuck cousins
decided to go aboating on the River Brandywine. Neither Primula nor the
two young lads knew much about boats, and like most of their kind, none
knew how to swim, but they scurried quietly to the small ferry dock, to
see what they could find.
The large flat ferry-boat was moored on the opposite shore. Pipe-smoke
twisted idly above the landing-stage, where the ferryman was resting
against one of the stout white bollards. The children stole down to the
edge of the water, and started to work on one of the ropes. But just as
they were unfastening the very last knot, the ferryman leapt to his feet
and started to shout,
"Hoi! You there! Just what do you think you're about?"
Startled, the boys let go of the rope, just as Primula had hopped into
the boat. The current suddenly took hold of the little vessel, and it
spun and raced to the middle of the water. Poor Primula fell, landing
sqaure on her bottom, with a bump and a thud which quite winded her.
Twisting and twirling, the boat hurried on downstream. Then the oars fell
from the row-locks and slipped in the water with a glub-glub-glub-glub!
"Oh my!" said Primula, to nobody in particular. "How am I to get myself
Soon the boat drew near to Rushy, and Primula saw several hobbits near to
the shore. She started shouting and screaming to get their attention, and
soon there began a mighty commotion. But none of the hobbits standing
there could swim, and none had a boat, so the future looked grim. Her
little vessel floated merrily by, and all poor Primula could do was to
The same thing happened at Flynettle and Haysend. And soon the craft had
passed the strange Withywindle. Onward it floated, past the Overbourne
Marshes. Onward it sailed by the gloomy Old Forest. Then the boat chanced
to float quite close to the bank, where a small piece of driftwood
floated quite near. And Primula cried out, "Perhaps with that branch I
can row to the shore."
Stretching out as far as she could, she tried to grasp the piece of wood.
But, oh! She had leaned too far, and as the boat twirled back into the
current, over it tipped, and and she fell in the water.
Suddenly she found herself being borne to the surface, safe on the back
of a very odd creature. Coughing and spluttering, she gasped in surprise,
as the strange beast deposited her on the dry land.
"What manner of animal are you," she asked, "that carried me up from the
depths of the river? You are not a fish from what I can tell, yet you
swim in the river and like it quite well. What manner of creature can you
possibly be? You are not an otter... are you a beast from the sea?"
"Why, I am a turtle-fish," he replied, "remarkably friendly and small for
my kind. And many strange things I have seen in my time, but none more
bizarre than a fur-footed duck!"
Now Primula laughed, and she laughed til she cried. "I am no duck, but a
small hobbit child!"
The turtle-fish paused a moment, as if deep in thought. "A hobbit who
swims? Now that takes some explaining! But perhaps 'twas not swimming, so
much as a drowning!" Then he nodded to himself, as if all was now clear.
When she told him her tale, the turtle-fish sighed, then his face
brightened up and he said "Come for a ride." And all the way home, the
turtle-fish took her, though he did so by night to avoid prying eyes.
And so it was late that night, though her friends doubted this, that
young Primula rode home on a small turtle-fish.
The Old Took's Diamond Studs
Midsummer had rolled around once more, and as they did every year, the
Burrowes family of Stock had made their way to Great Smials, to join in the
Litheday celebrations of their Tookish relatives. It was not out of any sort
of familial loyalty you understand, but simply because the Old Took put on
such a fabulous party, with oodles of food, presents for everyone, and even
the most splendid displays of fireworks for all to see. As usual, it promised
to be a delightful three holidays.
This year the preparations were said to be most extensive, and rumours
abounded about the treats that were in store for everyone. Though the weather
had been rather chilly, the Forelithe merry-making had been quite the most
lively in years. By tea time on Midsummer's Day, so many hobbits had turned
up that they had quite overflowed from the Smials, and a large pavilion had
to be erected for tea and dinner. And nobody seemed to mind that by now the
guests included the cousins of friends of even the most distant relations of
The children were enjoying the party the most of all, for a few daring young
lads had managed to get their fingers on some of the fireworks already! Soon
the feast was nearing its end, with all the older hobbits just filling up the
corners, and the speeches about to begin. A tidy group of youngsters had
crept out of the gathering, to share in the fun with the pilfered sparklers,
squibs and crackers, goblin barkers and backarappers.
They had crept into a large room inside the smials, hoping to avoid detection
whilst they shared out their booty. Primula, of course, was in the thick of
things, and was one of the first to enter the room. As the others jostled in,
she found herself standing close by a desk upon which had been set the most
beautiful pair of shiny studs. Though she knew she should not, Primula could
not resist picking them up to look at them more closely.
"Fasten the door," one of the boys called out, "else we'll be seen!" And at
that very moment the studs clicked shut with an emphatic SNAP! Poor Primula!
As the studs had fastened, they had managed to secure the top button hole of
her best party dress to the bottom link of a fine, but sturdy, metal chain
which was used to close the draperies. Carefully she examined the stud, but
nothing seemed to be amiss - the small bright diamond button was set atop a
silver shank, with a pivoting piece mounted at the bottom to open and close
the stud - but try as she might, she could not force the thing to open again.
The children gathered around her, and quickly decided that the best plan
would be to pull her free, though Primula was not so sure of this, as she
knew her mother would be awfully angry if she spoiled her special dress. But
she agreed to their plan, when even Mirabella Bracegirdle, the oldest and
cleverest of the children was unable to open the stud. So first of all she
pulled and she tugged all on her own, but that did not help at all. And then
her brother and Posco Burrowes each took one of her arms, and all three of
them pulled and tugged, but still she was caught. Then cousin Rudiger took a
firm grip about her waist, but still, try as they might, they could not set
her free. Now Largo Puddifoot took hold about Rudiger's waist (which was not
at all easy, since Rudiger was remarkably stout for his age), and Daisy
Chubbs took hold of his waist in turn... and one by one all of the hobbit
children joined in the effort until all twenty of them were linked like a
chain, tugging and pulling, huffing and puffing, trying but failing to get
Then suddenly with a mighty crack, the curtain rail splinted and crashed
down, and the hobbit children all tumbled and toppled into an unruly heap on
the floor. But as they fell, some of the fireworks flew out of their pockets,
bouncing and tumbling across the floor into the still glowing embers of last
night's fire. And then the most frightful commotion began! A few fizzling
sparklers in turn lit a few squibs and crackers, and soon the flames had
caught the goblin barkers and even the backarappers! Within a minute, all of
the fireworks they had pilfered were alight in that room.
"Open the door!" squealed Peony Boffin! And as she said this the magical
studs opened as well! But although Primula was now free, all the children
were in too much of a muddle, with arms and legs, frocks and shirt-tails,
heads and feet all in a confusion! And so long before they had dusted them-
selves off, and unravelled poor Rudiger, who was quite tangled up in the
fallen curtains, all of their parents appeared at the door.
But although at first they were astonished, and then they were angry, the
older hobbits soon saw the funny side of it - perhaps it was Rudiger's face,
when they finally managed to roll him out of the curtains! And so despite
their pranks and mishaps the children were allowed to watch the rest of the
fireworks, the elf-fountains and dwarf-candles, the torches and rockets. And
everyone agreed, it was the best, and certainly the funniest Mid-Year
Night's party they had had in years.