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Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By  by Pervinca

Watch the Clouds Go Sailing By


Chapter 12: Barliman Butterbur

Night had well and truly set in by the time Goldi, Faramir and Pippin saw any sign of the end of the Downs. In fact, they did not even notice that they had come to the end until they were actually walking along part of the East Road.

“We’re through!” cried Goldi, suddenly breaking the miserable silence that had lasted for many hours.

Her voice broke Faramir and Pippin out of their tired trances. All three of them quickly forgot their fatigue, as the thought of an inn, with a fire burning, and a hot meal filled their minds. They started running, and did not stop until they came to the West-gate of Bree. It was shut, but they expected that, just as they expected to see the tired-looking gatekeeper lazing in the doorway of his lodge. He heard them coming, and suddenly became alert.

“Good evening, young sirs,” he greeted, then, seeing Goldi, added, “and young miss. How may I help you?”

“He’s very friendly,” Pippin murmured to Goldi. She nodded.

“We have been travelling all day, and are looking for an inn to spend the night,” Faramir replied.

The gatekeeper regarded Faramir for a moment. “You’re Faramir Took, aren’t you? Thain Peregrin’s son!”

“Oh…yes…I am.”

“Come in, come in, Master Took.” The gatekeeper opened the gate, and allowed the three hobbits to enter. “What brings you to Bree?”

“No reason. I just wished to show my two friends here what a lovely village Bree is.”

“Ah, yes. Well, I’m sure you know the way to The Pony. I do hope you’ll enjoy your stay here.” With that, the gatekeeper returned to his lodge, and the hobbits continued on their way down the streets of Bree.

“Well, that was easy enough,” stated Pippin. “I was afraid that we would not be let in!”

“That gatekeeper is no Harry,” laughed Faramir, referring to the gatekeeper who had been present when their fathers had passed through. “I have met him several times, coming to Bree with my father, and Uncle Merry. A very fine-spoken gentleman – especially for one of the Big People. Now hurry. This way to The Prancing Pony.”

Faramir was able to lead them quite quickly to the inn. Aside from a recent re-painting, The Prancing Pony looked how it had always looked – three storeys high, two wings running out to the back, and a large archway leading to the front door. The three hobbits smiled at the wooden signboard that was swinging in the gentle night breeze: The Prancing Pony by Barliman Butterbur.

As the walked towards the door, Goldi said: “Do you suppose Mr. Butterbur is still the owner?”

“I doubt it,” answered Faramir. “I did not come to the inn last time I was in Bree, so I do not know who owns it, but Mr. Butterbur would be too old by now. Most Big People don’t live as long as hobbits, remember.”

They felt the warmth of a fireplace as soon as they were inside. Merry voices could be heard talking, laughing and, occasionally, singing a few lines of a song or two from a room further inside the inn. A short, plump woman came from this room. She stopped short when she saw them.

“Hullo, there. Have you been waiting long? Half a moment and I’ll be with you.” She went through another doorway, and returned almost as quickly with a young hobbit in tow. “Go and see to the guests in the common-room!” the woman ordered. The hobbit nodded, and plodded through to the common-room. The woman smiled at Goldi, Faramir and Pippin. “Welcome to The Prancing Pony. I’m Ellouise Butterbur. How may I help you?”

“Butterbur!” exclaimed Pippin. Faramir elbowed him in the side, to shut him up for at least a moment.

“Ah, yes. Beds for three.”

“I’m sure we can manage that. Any ponies to be stabled?”


“May I ask your names? You are Shire-folk, am I right?”

“Yes, we are. I am Mr. Took, this is Mr. Gamgee, and Miss Gamgee.”

“A Took and two Gamgees!” Ellouise exclaimed. “I expect my uncle will be wanting to talk to you. He is always talking about you Shire-folk.”

“Your uncle?” Goldi asked.

“Yes, Barliman Butterbur! I assume you know the name, seeing as this young sir cried out when I said it was my name.” Ellouise motioned at Pippin. She smiled broadly. “Follow me.”

Ellouise led the three hobbits to a small room. The door was open, but she knocked anyway.

“Yes? Is that you, Lou?” a male voice inquired.

“Yes, uncle, it is,” Ellouise replied. “I have someone to see you.”

They entered the room. An elderly man was seated on a large armchair in front of a fireplace. On a small table next to him was an empty plate and beer mug. The gentleman himself had a bushy brown moustache, shot through with much grey. His blue eyes shone in the dim light, as he looked at Faramir.

“Master Peregrin? Is that you?” he whispered.

Faramir shook his head. “Peregrin is my father. I am Faramir.”

The man started laughing. “Peregrin’s son! Fancy that. Are you the only one? Are your companions also children of Master Took?”

“No. They are Pippin and Goldilocks Gamgee, children of Master Samwise. Two of thirteen, I might add.”

“Ah, no surprise there. I always thought that Sam a bit of a ladies’ man…or hobbit if you’d rather. And by the looks of the young Miss, he found himself a lovely girl to marry.”

“Rosie Cotton – one of the Shire’s fairest lasses,” Pippin stated proudly.

“Of that I’m sure. Well, now, I’ve forgotten to introduce myself, though I’m sure you all know who I am. The name’s Butterbur, or Barliman if you’d prefer.” Butterbur smiled warmly. “I’ve also forgotten my manners. Take a seat, my young friends.”

The three hobbits found places on the floor. Ellouise excused herself, and returned to the common-room.

“So, tell me, Master Faramir, what brings you to Bree? Without your father, I may add,” Butterbur asked.

Faramir lowered his voice, like one who is conspiring. “We are going on an adventure –  Pippin, Goldi and myself. Following the paths our fathers took on their way to Rivendell.”

“Faramir!” Pippin cried out. “You were not supposed to tell anyone!”

Butterbur laughed. “Fear not, young Master Gamgee. I won’t be telling anyone. No doubt I will have forgotten by tomorrow morning. My memories going in my old age.”

Goldi laughed to herself, not wishing to hurt the kind man’s feelings.

Faramir proceeded to tell Butterbur the details of their journey so far. Butterbur listened as intently as he could, murmuring, “You don’t say?” more than once.

The night wore on. Butterbur dozed off several times while Pippin and Faramir told him of recent Shire events. Of course, he fiercely denied even closing his eyes when they told him he’d fallen asleep. Eventually, Ellouise returned.

“Sorry to interrupt,” she said, “but I think it may be time for my uncle to go to bed. I have made up your bedrooms; there’s some supper and washing basins waiting for you also.”

Faramir, Goldi and Pippin thanked her. They said goodnight to Butterbur, telling him they probably would not see him before they left, because they planned on leaving quite early.

“Well, all right, young ones,” said Butterbur. “But do come and visit again. Bring your fathers along. And Master Merry as well. Good night.”

Ellouise took them to the room that had been prepared. Before shutting the door, she thanked them. “I have not seen my uncle so happy and full of life. I do hope you visit again, like he requested.”

“We will,” replied Goldi. “I have never met a more polite nor kind gentleman.”


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Sorry that chapter took so long to write. I had the biggest case of writer’s block imaginable! The next chapter won’t take nearly as long – I promise!

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