At the Golden Perch

I hadn't been able to find any source for wine-glasses in Bree. Seems Butterbur has enough that he just has to buy a few when a merchant comes to town with some, to replace those as broke since the last time. But I hear that there's glass-blowers in the Shire and that's the place to go. It's an easy ride of a day there and a day back, as near as one can come to a safe road, and I always wanted to see the Shire anyway -- I been as far as Buckland but never crossed the bridge. And Beoda needs to get to know Ben if she's to ride him when we head over the High Pass and down to the Mark, and better she does so on as gentle a ride as possible. So we made plans to head there early in the morning, right after I'd made my rounds tending Snow, Rascal, and Biscuit. Along the road we came upon Miss Adri who was giving Rascal some exercise, and she chose to join us, which was lucky for us since she's been to the Shire and neither of us had.

It was just supposed to be a day there and a day back, but it looks like the journey will be a couple more days at least. First, it turns out the Shire isn't a town, but a whole land with many towns in it, some of which are as far from the Bridge as it is from Bree. Maybe more, even. The glass-blowers are up in the north, and there's a market place called Waymeet that's somewhere else, I don't even know where, and that's another place as you can buy glasses. And might be as they got lots of other towns besides.

But the real reason why it's like to be longer than planned is, on the way out the road, we stumbled upon something most disturbing and more than a bit mysterious. Miss Adri saw, off the side of the road near a little hollow, a dead pony, what had been there a couple days at least. She and Beoda explored the area while I kept the horses back, on account the scent of a fallen pony would bother them. They found tracks leading through frozen mud, some with blood in them, but no sign of the rider, who must have been a hobbit-lad, and well-to-do going by the clothes that were in the pony's bags. The poor pony had fallen to an arrow that sunk deep into its flank, and had been picked over by scavengers. Most surprising, they found a key and a box to match it -- the key had been dropped, and the box, one of them fine lock-boxes folks keep coins or jewelry in, had been deliberately hid under the dead pony. Seems as some other folk, regular folk by the boot-prints, had been all over the area searching, maybe for the box, or the rider? We just don't know enough to guess what happened.

The Shire, and Buckland too, got hobbits standing guard at the entrances what call themselves Bounders. I guess it's on account they watch the bounds. Miss Adri talked to a couple of them and all we learned is that the hobbit must be from Brockenborings, which is most of a day's ride from where we stopped for the night in Stock. The Bounder by the bridge said he'd warned the one on the pony that brigands were about, but that he weren't heeded, on account the rider were on an adventure, and going to Staddle. But he didn't know the lad's name other than that he must be one of the Brockhouses.

The room we got at the Golden Perch, all three of us to share, is just big enough for us. It has two beds, hobbit-sized, so Beoda will be having to squeeze onto hers, though Adri will fit pretty near fine, she being so small. I got extra blankets to sleep on the floor, which ain't so bad, as it's in a warm room, not out on the cold ground. And my tummy's full of way too much very fine food. The hobbits sure know how to make a nice meal, and I had what was probably the best meat pie I ever had (don't tell my ma, or Haritha for that matter). Though I do like the pickled eggs they make in Staddle better than the ones they make here in Stock.

Tomorrow morning we'll look at what's inside the box, in case that answers some of the mystery, and we might be heading up to Brockenborings. If we do, I wonder how much farther it is to where the glass-blowers are. Maybe we can visit them, or maybe there'll be some in Brockenborings too. Brockenborings, it don't seem like a proper name for a town. It sounds like something from a waggon that came off and you got to get someone to fix it. I wonder if maybe I heard it wrong. But the Shire sure is a merry and pretty place. Pity we got to see it the first time with the memory of the fallen pony hanging over us, and wondering if that hobbit lad came to the same end.