Monday, July 13, 2009

The Habits and Their Owners

This little story will be included in my upcoming book, "The Little Folks Companion"~

The Habits and Their Owners

By a Lady

Once upon a time, there was a pair of jolly twin boys, named Robbie and Georgie.

On their first birthday they received a visit from their fairy godmother. She was dressed in a long green gown and was very beautiful. At first the boys were afraid of her, till she began to speak in a sweet voice.

She called them by their names, and said, “Today, my dears, I am going to give you each a special gift, that will be your very own for as long as you live. This gift is called a habit, and it is special because you get to decide what kind of habit it will be. If you always obey your parents as they teach you good things, your habit will make your life easy, no matter what hard things you have to do. But, if you are careless and do not learn to obey, your habit will make your life very hard indeed.”

With these words, the fairy left as quickly as she had come. Robbie and Georgie were quite astonished, but could not tell anyone what had happened. One-year olds are too small to be able to speak, you know.

As frequently happens, the two boys grew and grew, and learned many new things. They had forgotten all about the gift they had received on their first birthday, but their gift had not forgotten them.

Although both Robbie and Georgie were dear little boys, if one closely observed them in their daily life, a marked difference between them would be seen.

Robbie was quick to obey, and did so cheerfully, while Georgie would take his own sweet time to do what Mother or Father told him to do.

Robbie put his things away, and was able to find them when he wanted them. His face was contented and sweet, and his body full of energy, for he learned that: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Georgie, poor boy, was constantly losing his playthings, and even blamed Robbie for taking them sometimes! When his mother asked him to perform a simple task, he would say, “I’m tired!” much to her dismay.

And dare I say, the reason was, that Georgie would not and could not bring himself to go to bed on time, for he was just too busy playing.

Well, habits grow as quickly as little boys, and my goodness, if there was not such a difference between our little twin’s habits when they were eight years old! If we could put on our fairy glasses, we should see the strangest thing, for Robbie’s habit had grown into a sort of golden bubble, and seemed to be almost lifting him off the ground. Georgie’s habit had the appearance of a leaden octopus, holding him down with its tentacle-like arms.

On the very day of their eighth birthday, they were visited again by their fairy godmother, this time wearing a gown of glowing white, and even more beautiful then before.

“Well, Robbie and Georgie, let us see what has become of those gifts I gave you!”

And with this, she pulled out a magnificent mirror, and showed the boys their reflections. Each was quite surprised by what he saw, and Georgie began to weep.

“Oh, Fairy Godmother, is there no hope for me, that I might be rid of this horrid thing?” he asked.

“Yes, my dear Georgie,” the fairy responded, “ ‘Where there is yet life, there is yet hope’; but I must warn you that the only way to be rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit! It took a long time for your habit to become what you have made it, and may be a long while before it becomes a helping thing such as Robbie’s.”

“I believe in you, however,” she continued, “And know that you can do it if you will try very hard. And you will not be alone in changing your habit, for if you ask for help, your loving Heavenly Father will send you all the help you require.”

“Oh, thank you so much!” cried Georgie, his eyes shining through his tears.

“And I will help you, too,” promised Robbie, in his sincere way, for Georgie was not a bad boy by any means.

So our story ends, and I will let you, dear reader, decide what happened to our little Georgie. Did he change his habit from a bad one to a good, after all? What do you think he did?

The End

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Why Poetry?

(This was originally published in the book "Charlotte Mason Philosophy: Creating a Happy Home Atmosphere" compiled by Chris M. Peterson. I was honored by Chris in being invited to write about something so close to my heart.

Why Poetry?

by Marqueta Jonas Graham

“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem,

see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable


-Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

In our hurried, “entertain me” world, we might question the need for poetry studies in the education of our children. Why should they be exposed to it? What are the lasting benefits, if any? It is my wish to present a case for the daily indulgence in poems, and to share how I have personally used them to enrich my own life.

Poetry as our grandparents knew it has, with the emergence of movies and television, declined greatly in popularity. It is no longer considered by “educators” as a very important part of education, and hence is given lip service and perhaps a portion of one semester in literature class. The enjoyment of poetry must, therefore, as with many of the fine arts, be preserved within our families, if it is to be preserved at all.

When considering the usefulness of poetry, as well its role in the home school, I believe one must resolve to make it a joyous part of daily life, or not use it at all. If poetry must be forced upon children to fulfill certain curriculum requirements, it will do more damage than good. I can recall at an early age being quickly bored in English classes in which poems were as brutally dissected as the frogs in Biology, and were about as lifeless. Fortunately, I knew the real way of enjoying poems, as I was blessed to have a mother who could recite such gems as “The Road To Raffydiddle”, “Out To Old Aunt Mary’s”, and “The Pied Piper of Hamblin”. This is a gift which we all can bestow upon our children, simply by reciting or reading many kinds of poems, from a young age.

I was born into a family whose love for poetry was part of each day’s experience. There was no need for formal training, any more than there was need for formal training in the loving of our many pets. It just came naturally. My grandmother, who was my sole babysitter, loved reciting and writing it. My father wrote western-flavored poems and ballads, giving us an early appreciation for the history of the west. My eldest brother writes deep, sometimes hard to understand poems, while my youngest brother pours out sadness and regret through his pen. My middle brother carries on the cowboy poetry tradition, while my sister writes poems dealing with people and memories, much like my grandmother’s. Although my mother does not write poetry, she loves reading and reciting it, and one of my most valued books is one of children’s poetry which she hand-typed from an old copy her mother had as a child.

When I became a parent, I instinctively shared poems when my young ones, Mother Goose as well as other treasured favorites. When the moon was spied through a window, it was natural to say, “I see the moon, and the moon sees me, God bless the moon, and God bless me!”, until my little daughters could say it themselves. When toweling off the girls after bath time, we would all say together, “After a bath I try, try, try, to wipe myself till I’m dry, dry, dry. Just think how much less time I’d take, if I were a dog, and could shake, shake, shake!”. What glorious fun it was when we obtained a puppy and they could see how a dog indeed does shake, shake, shake! And when we moved into our first real home, it was also natural to inscribe on the front door Christopher Morley’s “Song for a Small House” (I’m glad our house is a little house, not to tall or too wide. I’m glad the hovering butterflies feel free to come inside...). A recent popular poem is “Which Loved Best?”, by Joy Allison (“I love you, Mother”, said little John, Then forgetting his work, his cap went on, and off he ran to the garden swing, leaving his mother the wood to bring....). This poem does wonders in reminding of the children of their responsibilities!

Poems are the happy companions of the Nature Journal, preventing it from becoming dull and spiritless. If you are familiar with Edith Holden’s Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, you will understand what I mean. Her well-chosen poems make us feel more fully the changes in he seasons, and balance the scientific nomenclature of birds and plants.

Poems provide a connection with the great souls of the world, many who have passed on hundreds of years previously, in a way similar to great music connects us to the great composers. Poems are fluid, much as music is, and can evoke deep emotional responses. When just the right words are needed, usually a poem can be found to fit the bill. Poems share our joys and soothe the soul, depending on our need. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it so eloquently in his poem “The Day is Done”:

The day is done, and the darkness

Falls from the wings of night,

As a feather is wafted downward

From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village

Gleam through the rain and the mist,

And a feeling of sadness comes o’er me

That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,

That is not akin to pain,

And resembles sorrow only

As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,

Some simple and heartfelt lay,

That shall soothe this restless feeling,

And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old master,

Not from the bards sublime,

Whose distant footsteps echo

Through the corridors of Time,

For, like strains of martial music,

Their mighty thoughts suggest

Life’s endless toil and endeavor;

And tonight I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,

Whose songs gushed from his heart,

As showers from the clouds of summer,

Or tears from the eyelids starts;

Who, through long days of labor,

And nights devoid of ease,

Still heard in his soul the music

Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet

The restless pulse of care,

And come like the benediction

That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume

The poem of thy choice,

And lend to the rhyme of the poet

The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.

I must admit I harbor fantasies of happily doing needlework as the children play quietly on the floor and my husband reads Shakespeare by the fire!

Although it is not necessary to write poetry to enjoy it, I have found that it does increase an understanding of the process which the great poets employ in their craft.

For me, being of a rather shy nature, writing my feelings has always been easier than speaking them. Throughout my teenage years, countless heartrending sonnets were written by me for boys who hadn’t a clue of my affections. Now, as a mother, I write occasional poems for my daughters and husband, and others concerning the simple life. The following is an example of the latter:

Just a Few Days

Just a few days,

That’s all there is left.

A few days of clear golden skies,

Of naked children in cool water,

Of sun-tanned skin,

and sun-kissed hair.

Just a few days linger before

woolens replace sandals and bare feet,

Before leaves begin to fall,

Before the warm sun on the backs

of our necks is a memory;

While we harvest summer’s bounteous pleasures,

Then bid them goodbye until next year.

Poetry is not, perhaps, necessary in the same way that the “Three R’s” are necessary, but it is necessary in the same way that music is necessary. Amid the desolate wasteland of radio jingles and television sitcoms, isn’t it wonderful to refresh one’s mind in an oasis of beautiful words? Poetry fills the void left by our Humanist society, for it connects us to the Great Mind who inspires all that is good and worthy. Let it into your life, and the life of your children, and you will find it a most welcome guest.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"Frodo's Three Partings"

This is a silly song about Frodo. It is to the tune "There is a Tavern in the Town." (following is a video to remind you of the tune)~

"Frodo's Three Partings"

Verse 1
There was a hobbit of renown, of renown
One night the Nazgul tracked him down,
The Witch King wounded him mortally,
So to the elves he did flee.

cho: Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let this parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends
Must part, must part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, adieu
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
With Elrond in Rivendell I will be,
And may the world go well with thee.

Verse 2
One day while camping in the woods, in the woods,
Boromir was up to no good, to no good,
From Frodo he did try to take the Ring,
To Mordor Frodo went with Sting.

Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let this parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends
Must part, must part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, adieu
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
With Sam and Smeagol and Gollum I will be,
And may the world go well with thee.

Verse 3
Although the One Ring was destroyed, was destroyed,
His wound poor Frodo still annoyed, still annoyed,
So off he went where the good ring-bearers go,
With Gandalf, the elves, and old Bilbo.

Fare thee well, for I must leave thee,
Do not let this parting grieve thee,
And remember that the best of friends
Must part, must part.

Adieu, adieu kind friends, adieu, adieu
I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
With Gandalf in the Grey Havens I will be,
And may the world go well with thee.

~M. J. Graham

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Tale of Pippin and Katie

The Tale of Pippin and Katie

By a Lady


Dear Reader: This is a little story based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s beautiful epic novel, The Lord of the Rings. My children loved the hobbits so much that I thought I would make something up to entertain them. I have taken a few liberties with the story, since I started writing it after I saw the movie and before I read the book, so some things didn’t fit well. Those of you who know the story will, I pray, forgive any digressions from the original.

The story begins after the hobbits return to the Shire and straighten up the mess left by the humans. I thought I would tell how Pippin meets his wife (who in my story is human), since Pippin was always my favorite hobbit. Perhaps I relate to his bumbling ways? At any rate, as our story begins, Pippin and Merry have settled back into “normal” life, and are roommates in the Took family home, Great Smials.

Thank you, Mr. Tolkien, for your legacy of hope in evil times.

Chapter I

A New Adventure Begins

One August day, Pippin and Merry went to pick apples in Farmer Brown’s orchard. A surprise awaited them, however, as they approached the tree with the ripest fruit. They saw there a human girl, about age 17, sleeping with her back against the trunk.

“Oh!” Pippin cried out in surprise.

“Oh!” answered the girl, who was now wide wake and very surprised by the two strange creatures in front of her.

“Who are you?” Merry asked the girl.

“My name is Diamond of Gondor, sir,” answered the girl. “Though I am known as Katie. But who. . . and what. . . are you sir, if you please?”

“I’m Merry, and this is Pippin, and we’re hobbits of the shire,” responded Merry proudly.

“Oh, hobbits!” she exclaimed. “I’ve always wanted to see a real hobbit! But not under these circumstances,” says Katie, remembering what had brought her to the Shire. She began to sob, her tears leaving trails on her dirty face, which was buried in equally dirty, scratched hands. Her clothes were torn and dirty as well, and the hobbits looked at each other helplessly, not knowing what they should do.

“What happened to you, Katie?” Pippin asked gently.

“I do not rightly know, sir,” she answered. “The last I remember I was hunting mushrooms with my family in the woods, when two men with swords sprang upon us. They killed my father, my mother, and my little brother. I began to run, and have been running ever since, for I know not how many days.”

Merry and Pippin glanced at each other again, then looked back at Katie.

“Come stay with us then, Katie, “ventured Pippin, “We’ll look after you till we find someone to help you go home.”

“Great!” said Merry. “Instead of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ (Gimli had told them the story), it’ll be ‘Katie and the two Hobbits’!”

Katie laughed in spite of herself, but responded, “You are both very amiable, but I am quite ashamed of my appearance, to be a burden on anyone (You see, Katie was, truth be told, a bit vain of her looks and proud of her father’s wealth.).” At this, Katie stood up and began walking in the direction from which she came.

The two hobbits could see that the girl’s sorrow had made her out of her right mind, so they ran and stood in front of her to stop her from leaving.

“Wait a minute, Katie!” said Merry. “There’s a stand of soapwort by Brown’s stream, where you can wash up. And my mother is a fine seamstress who is always looking for someone to sew for!”

“She is?” asked Pippin.

“Pippin!” Merry shouted under his breath, while elbowing him in the ribs.

“Oh, I mean, she certainly is!” said Pippin, following Merry’s lead, “And you can wash and cook for us, so you’ll be no burden!”

“Pippin!” Merry whispered, elbowing him again.

Katie thought for a moment, then relented. “Well, she said, “I suppose I could stay for a day or two.”

She was shown to the soapwort and stream, and then left to wash while Pippin and Merry began picking the apples for which they had started off.

“What are we going to do, Merry?” Pippin asked.

“We’ll think of something, Pip. Maybe we could ask Gandalf to help her.” Merry answered.

Soon Katie reappeared, and under the dirt the two hobbits found a strikingly beautiful young lady, with raven black hair and deep blue eyes.

“May I help?” she asked, and began picking before they could refuse.

Chapter II

The Month of November

Katie had begun to feel somewhat at home in the Shire, although it WAS a little strange being the tallest person when she was only 4’11”. Merry’s mother, who was no great seamstress, gave Katie some extra fabric for her to use for clothing, and Katie took up the housekeeping like a professional. Cooking and cleaning up after six meals a day was a bit difficult to adjust to, however.

Gandalf had not yet been sent for, as was planned, for the two friends, especially Pippin, found their new companion’s company to be quite agreeable. They did not wish to part with her so soon.

Pippin liked Katie’s company so much, in fact, that he sometimes stayed home with her in the evenings, instead of going with Merry to the Green Dragon (Folks at the Dragon used the opportunity to gossip about dear Pippin, so they welcomed his absence.). Merry began to feel a change in the air, and to miss the times he and Pippin used to share.

Pippin and Katie spent much time talking. She told him he reminded her of her brother, and he told her she reminded him of an elf princess he once knew.

“Merry,” said Pippin, one bright winter day, as they chopped wood together, “I think I’m in love.”

“And who’s the lucky ale?” teased Merry, hiding a smile as he dumped an armload of wood onto the pile.

“I’m serious, Merry! You know who!” retorted Pippin.

“I hate to throw a fly in your ointment, Pippin, but don’t you think there might be a few obstacles?” he asked.

“Obstacles?” was Pippin’s innocent reply.

“Yes, Pippin, OBSTACLES. Like, #1, does Katie love you in return? And #2, if she does, does she love you enough to want tiny, fat, hairy-footed children that eat six times a day?” Merry questions.

“Hmm, I’d never thought of it that way before,” Pippin mused. “But things worked for Aragorn and that elf, now, didn’t they?”

Merry rolled his eyes. “Indeed they did, Pippin. But she was not over half a foot taller than he was, was she? A lady needs someone bigger and stronger than she is to protect her, Pippin, not the other way around.”
Suddenly, Pippin had an idea. A smile spread across his face.

“I’ve got it, Merry!” he announced, beaming.

“You’ve got what, Pippin?” Merry asked, doubtfully.

“I think it’s time we paid a visit to old Treebeard, don’t you, Merry?” he responded, ignoring Merry’s question.
Merry caught on to Pippin’s idea, and answered,

“No, Pippin, that’s a very bad idea! Last time we drank Ent-draught, we were almost eaten by a tree!”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Pippin remembered. “We’ll just have to get someone else to pay old Treebeard a visit.”

Chapter III

A Visit From an Old Friend

So Legolas came to the Shire. It was the first time he had seen the hobbits since the ring was destroyed, and it was a very happy occasion. Pippin and Merry hosted a sort of reunion dinner, inviting Frodo, Sam and Rosie to join them. They inquired about Gimli and Aragorn, but alas, he had not seen them since, either, having been busy in his own realm. He was, however, planning a long visit with Gimli soon afterward.
Legolas was intrigued by Katie’s story, and offered to escort her back to Gondor.

“Shall I escort you to Gondor, Katie?” he asked her, as all sat at the table after dinner. Katie hesitated a moment, glanced at Pippin, who had his eyes screwed shut, and replied,

“Well, Master Legolas, I do miss my homeland, but do not feel quite ready to see it yet, somehow.”

“That is understandable,” he said.

Pippin opened his eyes, let out his breath, and looked around at everyone, who were looking back at him.

Merry decided to rescue his friend. “Say, Legolas, you haven’t seen the garden, have you?”

All looked at him in surprise, due to the fact that it was early March, and not much was happening in the garden.

“That’s a great idea!” Pippin chimed in, “Let’s go have a smoke!”

“I’ll pass on the smoke,” said Legolas, “But I would be glad to learn more of the living earth of the Shire.”

The men-folk (as it were) went outdoors, leaving Katie and Rosie to clean up.

In a few minutes the ladies paused in wonder as the sound the Legolas’ musical laughter reached their ears.

In the garden, Sam and Frodo were dumbfounded, till Sam said, “So instead of Prince Charming, Snow White goes off and marries Dopey!”

“Exact. . .” began Pippin, then, “Hey!”

Then all but Pippin laughed.

Legolas spoke again, “A man would be lucky to find himself such a wife.”

Weary of the fun-making, Pippin began weeping and began to walk away from the group.

“I had not yet finished, Master Pippin,” Legolas said, walking toward him. Pippin stopped, and Legolas put his hand on Pippin’s shoulder.

“I was going to say, ‘And a hobbit would be even more lucky.’”

Pippin turned toward Legolas, smiling through his tears, and. Legolas knelt down and embraced him. Pippin whispered a secret request into Legolas’ sharp ears, which Legolas accepted with a nod. The next morning found our elvin friend leaving for an adventure of his own, off to explore Fangorn Forest at last.

Chapter IV

The Month of June

The excitement generated by Pippin’s strange announcement was soon forgotten in the Shire. Pippin, however, grew more and more uneasy with each passing day, wondering what had become of Legolas and the Ent-draught he had requested.

Katie could scarce be blamed for wondering why Pippin acted so strangely, and if she were not becoming unwelcome in the hobbits’ home. She made up her mind to return to the land of Gondor, as soon as the next opportunity presented itself.

It was an especially humid day that found Pippin and Merry helping Farmer Brown get his hay in. An afternoon thunderstorm had been predicted, and all the neighbors had rallied to help. Katie was at home, as usual, and cleaned up after second breakfast with a heavy heart. As a solitary tear slid down her nose, she quickly wiped it away, having heard a knock at the door.

Katie bent down to open the door and found herself staring in surprise at the beautifully embroidered tunic of a tall, graceful elf whom she had never before seen.

“I have come to deliver a parcel to a Master Peregrin Took,” the elf said in an equally elegant voice.

“Master Peregrin is out at the moment, sir,” Katie replied. “May I take the parcel to him?”

“My instructions were that only Master Peregrin should be entrusted with its care,” he began, “But as I must make haste before the sun sets, I shall leave it with you on the condition that you guard it carefully without examining its contents.”

“I promise,” stammered Katie, her curiosity becoming thoroughly piqued.

Answering with a nod, the elvish gentleman turned and quickly strode off into the woods, leaving Katie holding an odd-shaped vessel of some type, which seemed to contain liquid, for it made a sloshing sound as she set it on the table.

“Now what do you suppose that was all about?” Katie asked herself, her hand still on the curious vessel.

“What could it possibly contain? Perhaps a special ale brewed by the elves? Oh, well, ‘A promise made is a debt unpaid’; I’ll just put it out of my mind till Master Pippin returns,” then added, “Hopefully sooner than later.”

So she finished tidying up, doing her utmost to not to think of what had been delivered under such strange circumstances. Perhaps Master Pippin had meant to surprise her with something wonderful-he knew she had a weakness for elderberry cordial, after all.

Attempting to take up the mending, Katie sat down cross-legged on the little ottoman she liked to use for such purposes. No matter where she positioned herself, however, that vessel was clearly in view, no matter how heroically she attempted to put it out of mind.

“Drat!” She exclaimed at last. Putting everything back in the mending basket, she grabbed the straw bonnet she had made and went for a walk through the woods to see if the wild strawberries were near being ripened.

No sooner had Katie disappeared down the trail, when Pippin and Merry returned home from the other direction. They quickly entered Great Smials, famished and expecting to see the table set for tea and Katie’s smiling face. Instead, they found the elvin container, no Katie, and no note indicating where she might have gone.

Fearing the worst, both hobbits rushed over to the table.

“You don’t suppose. . . “ began Merry.

“Oh, Merry, please no!” answered Pippin, reading his friend’s thoughts.
Finding the almost hidden lid, along with a note that read “Best regards, your friend, Legolas”, Pippin carefully opened the long-awaited for container and examined its contents.

“It looks like it’s all here, Merry,” He said, with relief on his face. “I’d better drink it now, just in case.”

“Oh, Pippin! I’m still not sure this is such a good idea,” Merry replied, but Pippin had already finished off the drink, having worked up quite a thirst at Farmer Brown’s.

“What about Katie now, Pip? Where could she be?” asked Merry next.

“Well, her sunbonnet’s gone too, so I’ll bet she’s just gone out for a bit,” Pippin answered. “Merry, would you mind looking for her while I lie down for a bit? I feel a bit funny. EEEEuuurp! Have her meet me in the garden at dusk, if you would, pleeaauurrp?”

“Sure thing, my friend,” replied Merry, in a voice that was not so sure-sounding.

“This is very odd,” said Merry to himself, searching the ground for signs to tell him what had happened to the girl that had become like one of the family. He noticed what appeared to be elf prints heading toward the east, and towards the west, Katie’s footprints were clearly visible. They seemed to be headed to her favorite spot beside the dale.

“Katie!” he began to call. “Katie?” Katie’s far-off voice could be heard in answer. Being taller than Merry, she had a longer stride and so was far up the path. Merry tried quickly to think of a story that would keep her from seeing Pippin till the appropriate time.

Poor, tired, heroic Merry! What better friend could be found anywhere? For he caught up with Katie, made up an excuse both for why Pippin was not there (He was feeling tired and fell asleep at home), and what the story was with the elf (Pippin was always up to something secretive.).

Katie had found many ripe berries, and was pondering how she could collect some to take home. Merry remembered that his grandmother had shown him how to stick cleavers together to create a makeshift gathering basket, and he showed Katie that trick. Katie thought it was indeed clever, but was not sure that it would safely hold something as heavy as berries. She then spied a fallen birch tree, and showed Merry how to make a proper basket out of the bark.

They picked as many berries as they could (Although, strangely, Merry’s basket seemed to be not as full as his stomach), and found that time had flown (At least on Katie’s part; it seemed to drag exceedingly for Merry.). The sun was already making its descent toward the western hills.

“Whew!” Merry exclaimed, standing up straight to stretch his back. “There must be a hole in my basket,” he said, winking at Katie.

“Poor Master Pippin must be starving by now,” laughed Katie, “Since your stomachs seem to be cut from the same cloth, so to speak. We’d better head back home for supper.”

“Oh,” said, Merry quickly,” Uh, we had a rather large luncheon at Farmer Brown’s after getting his hay in, and he sent us home with a big bag of apples, so I’m sure ol’ Pip’ll be right well, after all.” He then added, “My, aren’t those daisies pretty over there! Why don’t we pick a bouquet of wildflowers for the table?”

By this time, Katie was beginning to wonder at her friend’s sudden interest in wildflowers, but said nothing as they ventured forth to pluck a bouquet worthy of gracing the table of the most noble hobbit in the Shire.
“There, that should do it!” exclaimed Merry, fifteen minutes later, who was himself beginning to wonder how they would carry all the flowers and the strawberries at the same time. At least it would make for slow going, and give Pippin all the more time to follow through with his outrageous plan.

Back at Great Smials, Pippin had felt the full effect of drinking such a large quantity of Ent-draught so quickly, and had felt rather ill while his body endured its unnatural rapid growth. He was not quite sure in advance how tall he would grow, so had arranged for his tailor to create an elongated suit of clothing which could be adjusted according to need. Fortunately, the Ent-draught had caused his body to gain a scan one-half inch over Katie’s height.

His love for Katie was so strong that he never allowed himself to doubt whether or not she would accept him as her husband. Even so, the butterflies in his stomach seemed to be turning into Nazgul as he watched the sun descending that afternoon. Only a little while now, and it would be time. Now to make himself scarce before Merry and Katie returned!

Chapter V

The Proposal

The two berry-gatherers arrived home to find a note on the door, written in Pippin’s hand. It simply said, “Be back soon! P.”

Katie prepared supper, complete with strawberry pie, which she and Merry ate together. Although Merry happily recounted the hay-hauling adventure in his usual whimsical manner, the lonely feeling which pervades when a loved one is missing filled the room.

As the sun pressed a goodnight kiss upon the western sky, Merry announced that he had pressing business at the Green Dragon. Though he regretted leaving her alone, he was sure Pippin would be along shortly.

“Katie,” he then said, “Have you seen the Moon Garden yet?”

“Why, no!” Katie replied.

“Where is the Moon Garden?” she asked him.

“Why,” replied Merry, “It’s right along the path by the old gazebo. It was years ago that Pippin’s grandmother planted it herself, so as to glow all around the gazebo as the sun went down. It’s really quite a sight! I’ll show you on my way to the Dragon. Come along, then!”

Katie obediently followed, although she had wanted to ready the sponge for tomorrow’s bread before Pippin returned. A Moon Garden sounded too enchanting to miss!

True to Merry’s word, there was indeed a garden of white flowers along the path to the gazebo. Katie had brought her knitting (It was easy to do in the twilight), and settled down in the gazebo after wishing Merry a safe journey. She was reveling in the sweet smells drifting in from the farmers’ fields, and listening to the good night twitterings of the birds, when she heard another, quite un-birdlike song.

Yonder is a maiden fair;
Eyes of blue and raven hair.

With happy heart and busy hand,
She is fairest in the land.

Quickly, Katie raised herself up and looked around. She was frightened, for she did not recognize the voice. She then became even more frightened, as in the dim light she saw someone emerge from the garden’s hedge row, coming toward the gazebo.

“It’s me, Katie,” said the voice, which sounded like Pippin’s, but deeper. “It’s Pippin.”
Katie stared at him in disbelief, her brain trying to comprehend the change that had taken place.

“Master Pippin?” she asked, at last. “How. . . “ she began, then “Was that what the elvin gentleman brought today?” as her brain reminded her of the hobbits’ story of the Ents and their magical water.

“Yes, it was,” Pippin answered, now standing inside the gazebo in front of her.

“But why?” was Katie’s next question.

“Because,” Pippin responded, “I had hoped that if I were a bit taller, you might consent to be my wife.”

You can imagine how poor Katie’s brain was trying to wrap itself around this information!
“Your. . . wife?” was all she could say, still reeling inside.

“Diamond of Gondor, will you marry me?” was Pippin’s nervous reply. He knelt as he spoke, taking her hand in his. Now it was Pippin’s turn to be afraid, as he wondered what Katie must be thinking of him.

“Yes, Master Peregrin Took of the Shire, I will consent to be your happy wife,” Katie said with a smile, as an equally happy tear inched its way down her cheek.

Chapter VI

A Happy Ending

The pink and gold of early dawn greeted the Shire. The neighboring hobbits awoke early that late September morning to prepare the wedding celebration of Master Peregrin Took, no longer a tween, but a respected gentleman. News of this sort travels fast, and the Shire women had begun baking and sewing weeks in advance. The menfolk put their carpentry skills to work, building a beautiful pavilion in honor of the event. Invitations had been sent, near and far, and rumor had it that the great Elessar, King of Gondor, would be in attendance.
Legolas and Gimli had also come to the Shire for the wedding, and it proved to be a happy reunion for those members of the old Fellowship of the Ring. Many stories, both happy and sad were traded among them, and Frodo made sure to add them to the book which Bilbo had given him to finish. Gandalf had promised a visit, too, sometime after the wedding, and he would be sure to bring his beloved fireworks.

Neither Pippin nor Katie (Who was now living with Sam and Rosie) had slept well the night before, despite their best efforts. Now both were up and being dressed in the fine cloth sent to them as a gift from the elves. Breakfast was forgotten for once in Pippin’s life, as he found he had no appetite in his nervous state.

The betrothed seemed in a dream as they walked toward the pavilion, which was decked out in autumn’s splendor. Chrysanthemums, goldenrod, and leaves of red and gold garlanded each pillar, and Katie’s bridal bouquet and circlet were made of the same stuff. It was pleasing to the eye and gladdened the heart.
All paused as the horn of Gondor sounded, and King Elessar and his queen rode onto the green, saluting the wedding party and taking their place among the crowd.

Rings (made by the dwarves) and kisses were exchanged, the bouquet was tossed, and the merry-making was underway. Though Pippin attempted to welcome his Gondorian friends, a crowd of hobbits swarmed around him and Katie, lifted them into the air (with some difficulty), and paraded them around in the traditional hobbit wedding-dance.

At last the bridal luncheon was announced, and the merry-makers allowed the newlyweds a chance to embrace and converse with their guests from afar. Aragorn (as he was known to his friends) was especially interested in speaking with Katie. He told her that the men who murdered her family were part of a conspiracy to overthrow the kingdom. An attempt had been made to destroy all the remaining Dunedain, the race of men to which Aragorn and Katie’s father belonged, but the conspirators had been thwarted in their efforts.

All were very surprised to learn that Katie shared some of the blood of Gondor’s king. It did help explain why Katie always doused her cooking with garlic, as there was a theory going round that the Dunedain loved garlic, which gave them their long yet reclusive lives.

Thus did the married life of Peregrin Took begin, marking the last meeting of the very last members of that Fellowship formed to save Middle Earth.

The End