The Adventures
Frodo Gardner

Volume I
Where Many Paths and Errands Meet
By Dolores J. Nurss

Chapter 2 Part 2
The King's Messenger
(September 22, 1451)

The morning dawned into an autumn day as crisp and fine as a draught of good cold cider, with the frost turning the cobwebs on the hedge into diamond-dusted lace, and every tree ablaze. Frodo took a deep breath of that intoxicating, leaf-scented air, and then set off for the garden with his little sister, May, paddling along behind him, even as he himself used to paddle along behind the Gaffer while they still had the dear old curmudgeon with them.
May loved nothing better than to watch when Frodo let the chickens into the midden. She laughed and clapped her hands as the birds tore in through the gate like eager children converging on a pile of birthday presents, clawing through the straw and leaves like ripping through the wrappings, in search of bugs, weed-seeds, or tasty kitchen tidbits, flapping their wings and bobbing their eager little heads for joy, cackling in their pleasure. Wild birds wore poker faces all the time, but chickens revealed their every mood with comical intensity. Once the hens flattened the heap completely, Frodo and May would chase them back to the chicken-yard and rake the whole thing up again, but Frodo liked to let the chickens do half the work for him--he'd learned that trick from the Gaffer.
"That dirty bird!" May cried.
"Why? What's wrong?"
"She just pooped all over everything."
"She's supposed to, May. Chickens make the best manure, and the best gardeners own chickens." But just then Frodo noticed a post-rider hastening up to Bag End, as fast as his pony could trot.
"So...we like chicken poop?"
"In its proper place, I suppose," he said distractedly. "Sure." Frodo's heart sank when he recognized Bleoboris Brandybuck, of the Shire/Bree Post. A nice enough fellow in his way, Frodo supposed, but Bleo Bore Us could jabber you to tears about his "exciting" job riding back and forth across the same bridge. As a very distant cousin of Meriadoc the Magnificent, Bleo had to work hard to find occasions for self-importance.
"Come on, May" said Frodo, "Time to herd the hens back into their yard." And that bit of excitement kept the little hobbit-lass giggling and preoccupied among the squawks and flying feathers as they ran this way and that, slipping and scrambling, till they chased the last hysterical chicken back into her place. The hobbits laughed and caught their breath against the gate, the autumn breezes already cooling their sweat, though Frodo kept watching to see what Bleoboris might do next. May had feathers in her hair and compost in her toes, and didn't look the least bit ladylike, and that suited her brother just fine. He flicked half-decomposed vegetable matter off his sleeve where he'd taken a fall, and they both laughed again.
Then he glanced up and saw Bleo leaving Bag End and heading their way. Frodo grabbed up his pitchfork in self-defense; if Bleo insisted on hanging around for a chat, Frodo could invite him to rebuild the heap with him, which should end the conversation nicely. Bleoboris did not like any task involving perspiration--especially when he wore his finest clothes for "important business with the Mayor." But why did the hobbit wear all black today? And what did he have pinned to his shoulder, glinting in the sun?
Bleo dismounted and turned his shoulder just a little to make sure that the silver star caught the light. "Hullo Frodo," he said as he came up (tiptoeing around the compost clumps with nervous bare feet.) "I've come as a Messenger from the King, as I hope you'll notice." That star would open all gates and melt all obstacles--not that Bleo would encounter much opposition riding over the Buckland Bridge, but if enemies stood in his path he knew exactly what to say.
"A message for us? From Strider? That's great news!" Frodo clapped Bleo on the shoulder with a muddy hand as the posthobbit flinched.
"King Elessar," Bleo said pointedly, "has a messenger at the Prancing Pony waiting for your father at Bree." Naturally, since the king had banned human beings from entering the Shire. "He gave me this." Bleo touched the silver star with admiration.
"Gave--or loaned?"
"Gave, loaned, what's the difference? Today I am a Messenger of the King!" he said proudly, then frowned as fingers closed on the badge.
"I'll take that, lad," said Mayor Sam Gamgee. As usual when he wore his elven-cloak, they'd quite overlooked his approach. "We'll bring it back with us on our way to Bree. There's beer in the cellar for your trouble, Bleo-- go help yourself." Sam turned to his son. "Change your clothes and saddle up, Frodo. Your brothers will finish the heap. We've got business out of town."
As Sam and his puzzled son headed for the house, May looked up at Bleoboris and said solemnly, "We like chicken poop."

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