I got up at dawn as I always do. Brewing myself a hot cup of coffee and lighting the oil lamps around the house. I let the lampposts along the walk-up to the house burn all night now. We are in the depths of Autumn and darkness dominates our days as well as our nights.
Yesterday Rosie and I went into the Hobbiton forest to look for chestnuts. We need them for our Christmas baking. They also look lovely in the windowsill and on the mantle above the fireplace. Golden brown and toasty.
We walked a long way, but we didn’t mind because the forest was so beautiful and peaceful. All the leaves were still burning bright in reds and orange even though it’s almost winter. There was not a breath of wind, the only noise was squirrels playing in the trees and rabbits digging their holes. We decided to stop and picnic by the little river. I had prepared honey cakes and Rosie had brought oat biscuits and jam. We used water from the river to make blueberry tea.
When we finally came to Chestnut Grove all the chestnuts were gone! “It must be those darn squirrels!” said Rosie. But I disagreed because there were a lot hazelnuts on the ground still. “I think some of the other hobbits have been here before us,” I told Rosie. But she claimed that her husband, Samwise Gamgee, had talked to Radagast only a few days ago and he had just passed this place and seen the ground covered in chestnuts. Just then we heard a loud noise from the forest. It sounded like thumping! Rosie and I held on to each other tightly! We couldn’t even move, we just kept staring into the shadowy forest. Then a huge branch cracked and out walked a troll! Yes, a troll! I have never heard of trolls in the Shire before! But to our amazement the troll was quite small, just a little bit taller than us and it was crying! Or at least it made a sound similar to crying. “Why, it’s a baby!” said Rosie. And I think she must have been right because the troll just kept crying and reaching its arms out as though it wanted to be held. Rosie and I felt a little braver so we approached the troll carefully just to see what it would do, and you will never believe this, but the troll stumbled up to Rosie and put its arms around her! Rosie shook a little bit at first, but then she seemed to calm down (she has a bunch of children herself) and started patting the troll on its back saying “there, there,” very gently. I took out what we had left of the picnic and offered it to the baby troll and it started munching greedily. It was quite clear that that was not enough to still its hunger so I tried feeding it a handful of hazelnuts, but the troll wrinkled its nose and spat it out in disgust. “So that is why only the hazelnuts are left,” I said to Rosie. “So what do we do with it?” said Rosie. “We can’t just leave it here.” “ And neither can we bring it with us to Hobbiton,” I said. So what we ended up doing was singing it to sleep and while I remained babysitting, Rosie ran back to fetch her husband. Sam Gamgee had once been quite the hero after all.
When Sam and Rosie came back, Sam was absolutely delighted to see the troll! Reminded him of one of his adventures, he said. “Too bad mr. Frodo left with the Elves,” he mused, “he would have loved this!”. “Yes, yes, but what do we do with it?” said Rosie impatiently. “Well, someone needs to take it back to its mother of course,” said Sam, with a distinct twinkle in his eyes. “And that is sure to be some adventure…most trolls live far from here up in the mountains. How in the world this little guy has managed to wander off and not be burned up by the sun is a mystery to me…” Rosie poked him in the arm angrily. “ It might be an adventure, mr. Gamgee, but it is most certainly not your adventure. You are living quite a different adventure now.” Sam looked sadly at his wife and then glanced longingly at the sleeping troll. “ I guess you are right, my dear.” He shrugged as though he was trying to shake the whole thing off. “Best leave it to Radagast then, seeing that Gandalf has left middle earth.”
Sam used a special whistle to call on a rabbit, not just any rabbit but a Rhosgobel rabbit. Then he scribbled a message on a small piece of paper and tied it around the rabbit’s neck with a piece of string. As soon as the message had been fastened the rabbit set off in an enormous speed. “Well, all we have to do now is wait,” said Sam. “ Wait?” I asked. “ For how long? It could be days!” “Oh no,” said Sam, “not days. Not at all. You don’t know about Rhosgobel rabbits, you see…” He smiled mysteriously. I didn’t have any other choice but to trust him. He had once saved the world after all. Surely he knew how to save one little lost troll.
After a couple of hours we heard a sound in the forest. It was like something was swishing rather swiftly in the grass, and then in a formidable speed Radagast, standing on a kind of sleigh drawn by oversized rabbits, flew out of the forest. “Someone wrote about a troll…?” he said. “That would be me,” answered Sam cheerfully. He pointed in the direction of the sleeping baby troll. “Oh my!” exclaimed Radagast. “That really is a troll!” “Yes, it rather is,” replied Sam. “Do you think you can take it to its mother before the sun turns it into stone?” “Sure, sure,” said, Radagast, “these clouds should not break until the coming morning.” He looked thoughtfully up at the overcast sky. “Should be fine.” Radagast and Sam lifted the troll on to the sleigh and with a small wave and a lift of his green hat Radagast was off.
Rosie, Sam and I walked back home without chestnuts and we forgot all about the hazelnuts, but Rosie and I have decided to bake apple pies instead, it is not quite Christmassy, but it will do. Sam peaked quite up when he heard. I suspect he ate too many nuts on his adventure.
Oh, there I see Rosie on the path right now. She is early just like me. I better brew another cup of coffee. I will write more in you tomorrow, dear Diary.
*The first illustration is a by the amazing John Howe and the other is by Fairytale artist John Bauer. The photos are mine.