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A New Year's Ball, from a hobbit perspective

posted Jan 22, 2011, 2:21 AM by Yola Plumblossom
By Tibba Stoutfoot.   

On Tuesday, January 18th, a most spectacular event took place far from our homes: A New Year's Ball of the big folk. And what was more: The Songburrow Strollers had been invited to play! Now, the farthest I had ever been was to Bree, and I was told that the hall this ball was to be held in was farther still. But the Songburrow Strollers were going to play, and so I saddled my pony, met with my niece, and off we rode on the east road, through Stock, over the Brandywine bridge (with many a fond memory of the last fishing contest there!), and on until we had left the lights of Buckland far behind us.

The journey to Bree was quite uneventful, I am glad to say, and we arrived in good cheer. I had brought enough pies to last us for the journey and back, but of course we took the opportunity to sample the specialities of Bree as well, and we were delighted to find a small pie shop in a side street, run by a nice hobbit lady who bakes a most delicious raspberry pie. That dear lady was also good enough to give us directions to Harcrest, a settlement of the Breelanders some miles south of Bree, where according to the announcements tucked to several trees and walls all over Bree the ball was to be held. So biding our excellent cook a fond farewell, we took the road south and soon came to the Breeland homesteads. But imagine our embarrassment when on arriving we realized that we had forgotten to write down the exact address! Fortunately though, our hostess had thought of everything, and a very nice (and very tall!) young lady stood at the homestead entrance to direct the guests to the ball.

And what a ball it was! The house it was held in was huge, with an entrance room as large as a small burrow, and even a pot of mushrooms growing in a corner! The hall itself was decorated most festively, and a large stage had been erected for the musicians. There was a long table ladden with food and drink, and a service woman of Master Butterbur himself, the famous owner of the equally famous Prancing Pony, was serving drinks to the noble guests gathered there. Ah, but the guests! I fear it is impossible to describe the splendour of the folk assembled there. Imagine slender elves garbed in robes of the finest silk, fair of face, exhibiting such grace in even the smallest gesture. Strong men with weatherbeaten faces, their stance proud, yet gently leading their lady to the dance. And the women, so slender and graceful, and dressed in such fine raiments as to rival the fairest of princesses in ancient times. I shall never forget the awe that grew in me upon seeing such an assembly of nobles, and I felt quite out of place among them. Thankfully, my niece and I had met Miss Lina and Miss Yllisa outside, or I would have fled lest somebody see me and throw me out. And that would have been a real pity, because it turned out to be a wonderful evening with excellent music and a lot of dancing and merriment. The first orchestra to come on stage was The Orchestra of Eriador, consisting of two big people and five hobbits. They played a wide range of tunes from far-away lands, some gentle as a soft summer breeze, some harsh like a snowstorm on the coldest of winter days.

Next came the Pied Pipers, a well-known all-hobbit band that far too seldom can be heard in the Shire. Their merry tunes invoked fond memories of harvest festival dances. The third orchestra to play were the Shades. This band, consisting solely of big people, charmed their audience with several mellow songs perfectly suited to gentle swaying (as Master Simbo aptly demonstrated). And finally, as the last band of the evening, the Songburrow Strollers took the stage, and the attention of their audience as well. With a sequence of fast and lively tunes, and some encouraging words of Master Simbo (and certainly helped by all the ale that had been consumed at that point), they managed to chase away the last cares many of the guests had seemed to carry with them during the evening, and by the time they played the hopping song, I felt transported straight back to the Green Dragon, such laughter and merry hopping was going on all around me. After the official ending of the ball, many guests still stayed on, and some played tunes, both merry and sad, on lutes or harps. I had the opportunity to meet the hostess, the fair Miss Fyxe, and thank her in person for this most memorable event. As an encore and a goodbye, the Strollers played Home sweet Home, and with this song ended a lovely evening.

Oh, what about the food, you ask? Well, I must admit, apart from the pie Miss Yllisa had thoughtfully brought with her and was kind enough to share with us, I did not sample any of the food provided for the guests, so riveted was I to the stage and the lovely music. So I am already looking forward to the next ball in Breeland, where I will know better and immediately make for the food and fill my plate to last me through the evening!

The Songburrow Strollers carry away the crowd.