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Story - How the Shire inns got their names

posted Apr 24, 2012, 9:00 PM by Peppy Bristlebrush

By Mebenca  

When I was living in Staddle, i was fascinated by the Shire... such a vast land full of hobbits! 
At this time i knew at best a few dozen of hobbits, surrounded by a majority of tall folks !
One, day, i remember, my mother asked me to go to Bree, to buy some dyes for a new dress.
I went to the scholars' building, in the center of the town, and there, after buying the colours to an old man, i asked him if he had some books or pictures about the Shire...
'Oh yes, he answered, we have many books about the Shire, look :
1001 pies...
One hundred ways to cook the catfish...
The best pipeweed of the Shire...'
It was not at all what i wanted !
But sir ! i wish to know about the Shire ! how it looks, the inhabitants, the history... !
'Ah... hmm.... maybe in the archives then...
Let's have a look !'
I followed him in some stair going down, and down again... i had no idea that there could be such a deep cave under the scholar's house of Bree !
We arrived in a large room full of ... everything, really...
'Ahem, the books here are waiting for... well, they are not all totally sorted...yet...'
It was a total mess !
But how will we find a book about the Shire in there if they are not sorted !?
'Oh, it's easy, he answered, we don't have many books about the Shire, so we just have to look for a very small pile... just like this one, maybe !'
It was indeed a small pile : there was only one book, lying alone on the floor.
I took it, and i couldn't believe it : it was indeed a book about the Shire !
The title was, i will never forget : 'Old stories from the Shire' !
I opened it at the first page, reading the titles of the chapters...
One immediatly caught my eye : The old Bywater...
The old Bywater ? why so ? is there a new Bywater ? and if so, what has happened to the old one ?!
The old scholar coughed softly : 'Miss, it's cold and dark here, come back to the shop to read the book, i'll find you a cosy and quiet place'.
I followed him back to the shop, where he installed me at a small table, in a corner of the library, and he even brought me a warm milk and some biscuits !
But i was so fascinated by what i had started to read that i completly forgot about milk and biscuits !
Here is what i have discovered in this book.
Is it true, or just a legend, i couldn't say, but i thought that you'd like to hear it, for it's about this very place :

Long long long ago, when the hobbits were freshly installed in the Shire, there was no lake here.
The river had its normal breadth, and the people were living on the banks, were the lake is nowadays.
So what you see right now around us are in fact burrows which would have been at the periphery of Bywater !
In this time, Bywater was really... by the Water !
But there was already a tavern on the heights, in fact our good old Green Dragon was already here ! Except that it was not called Green Dragon yet, as the hobbits had not had the idea yet to give names to the taverns.
This was Bywater's tavern, as there was Hobbiton's tavern, Michel Delving's tavern, etc...

But one night... something happened which would change a lot of things in the Shire...

There was at this time, a very grumpy shirriff in Hobbiton-Bywater, he was old and didn't like children, netheir younger hobbits.
In fact, he was only enjoying the company of old grumpy people just like him.
But when the mayor got the idea to give a huge firework in Bywater to celebrate Bullroarers's Day, a firework so big that it would be visible in the whole Shire, the shirrif had naturally been designated to prepare and fire it, with the help of his bounders.
In these times, Gandalf what not yet visiting the Shire with his magical rockets, and the mayor had especially ordered some fireworks from Bree.
It had costed a fortune to the hobbits of the Shire !

But then, there was a little boy, oh, 10 or 11 years old.
Stubbo was his name.
And he too wanted to fire the rockets !
He asked the shirrif, but this one simply kicked him in the bottom, swearing and raging about pesky youngsters.
Stubbo, rubbing his bum, sworn to get his revenge.
He would be the one who starts the firework, and it's not this old fart of shirrif who would prevent him to do so !
The shirrif, always very wary, had installed the rockets on a small boat in the middle of the river (which was, remember, not very wide in this time).
Stubbo, as soon as the night came, pussyfooted to the river, then fighting his natural fear for water, swam as he could toward the small boat, holding in his mouth a small pouch with all the necessary for starting fires.
He reached the boat, climbed discreetly inside, and opened the little pouch.
But while he was busy lighting his candle, he suddenly felt something cold and wet wriggling in his neck, and a fish jumped out of his hood !
Surprised and nervous, he let the candle fall in the middle of the rockets !

This evening, almost every inhabitants of the Shire were grouped in the taverns to celebrate Bullroarer's Day, waiting for the night to be totally dark to go out all together and watch the fireworks...
But they were still inside the taverns when they all heard a HUGE detonation !
BAAAAAAAANG !!!!!!!!
They hurried outside, and what they saw then was not at all what they had expected : all the rockets had exploded together, and the sky was so enlighted that it was frightening ! Somehow, the main color of this mix of fireworks was green, and as there were like three main forms growing in the sky, some of the hobbits from Bywater saw in it like a huge monster :
'look, there, the two wings, you see, and here, it looks like an open mouth ! It's a green dragon !'
And they shivered and went to cover behind the Inn...

In Hobbiton, the grumpy shirrif, when he heard the explosion, was the first to rush outside of the tavern, and he was welcomed by a powerful blast, which made him roll into the bushes !
When the other hobbits came out of the tavern, they saw a swearing and gesticulating bush running toward them!
It was the shirriff wrapped in ivy!

The explosion has been so violent that all the trees around have been broken, some even uprooted !
When they came out of their tavern, the first thing the people of Frogmorton saw was a huge log floating on the river, drifting in the current toward the Brandywine...

In Stock, it was the owner of the tavern who came first out.
He looked up... and received a fish on the face!
Already backed, with a perfectly golden and crispy skin!

There, where we are standing right now, there was a field in old times.
In Brockenboring, when people heard the detonation, they rushed outside of the tavern, to see a plough flying toward the North !
Some wise guys say that sometimes, if you watch the sky by a night without cloud, you still can see it passing among the stars...

The explosion has totally destroyed the old Bywater...
Except the tavern which was, and still is, built on the hill.
By chance, there has been no victim, as everyone was at the tavern this evening.
The river has filled the huge crater, and the inhabitant haves built new burrows and a market place around the tavern.
The burrows we can see here, which were before far from the river, have now the feet in the Water !

So, finally, all's well that ends well !

Oh but... No ! No Wait !
And Stubbo ?
Did the poor child perish in this tragedy ?
Well...
Stubbo has been hurled in the skies by the explosion !
But he was still alive !
The hair burned, as bald as master Jiro, the clothes burned too, except for his white underpants, he was flying over the Shire !
When he saw that he was starting to lose altitude, he really thought that his short life had come to an end...
But then a kind of miracle happened !
A big bird, with a long neck, caught him by the pants in his long beak, and they landed softly in Michel Delving, in the middle of the dumbfounded crowd outside of the tavern!

This lovely story was told by Miss Mebenca to the competitors of the Bywater Fishing contest on April 24, 2012. This is the slightly longer version. Miss Mebenca is best known for her work as a navvy and digger of wells.
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