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Raedwulf

Deagrim & Smeagrim

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Once upon a time, and it wasn't your time, and it wasn't my time, but it was someone's time, a long time ago, there lived two brothers. Their names were Deagrim & Smeagrim, and they lived far, far away in the East; farther than Frogrmorton, farther than Stock, farther than Bree, even, and that's a very long way indeed!

Now, one day Deagrim & Smeagrim went out to pick blackberries. As many blackberries as Deagrim would pick & pop into his basket, Smeagrim would pick & pop into his mouth! When Deagrim's basket was full, home they went, and all the way Deagrim thought to himself, "Well, my brother, since you've not put a single blackberry into my basket, you shan't have a single crumb of the blackberry pie I'm going to bake. No, not a crumb!" But Smeagrim thought "I'm still hungry! I wonder when Deagrim's precious pie will be ready to eat?", for he knew exactly what his brother would do with those blackberries.

When they were home, Deagrim took his biggest pie dish, for he'd picked a fair bushel of blackberries; he took flour & butter & water to make pastry; he simmered his blackberries with a few apples & fine spices; stirred in a little honey till it was just right, and then he popped his pie into his oven. Oh, how I wish I could describe the aroma of that baking pie as it filled the kitchen! Why, it would have made you mouth water so, your weskits* would have a good wash! It was a finer pie than even Holly Hornblower down in Hobbiton has ever baked, and the whole Shire knows no-one bakes a better pie than Mistress Hornblower. In fact, some folk say she swore a solemn oath that one day she would bake a better pie than Deagrim's pie, and she's still a-trying!

Well now, when a pie is baked, you can't eat it straight out of the oven, it's much too hot. So Deagrim put the pie, his magnificent pie, on the windowsill to cool. He bustled & busied himself about his comfortable little hobbit hole for a while, until he decided that actually he felt rather peckish, it was just about time for a little pick-me-up, and that his pie ought to be cool enough to try a slice. Or maybe two.

Woe! Oh, woe! Of course, the pie was gone! Of course he thought the same as you - Smeagrim had taken his precious pie. He hunted high, he hunted low; he looked here, he looked there, he looked everywhere! He didn't find Smeagrim, but he did find the pie dish, as clean as if fresh-washed, under a bush. It wasn't Smeagrim that ne'er had a crumb of that pie - it was Deagrim. Poor, poor Deagrim! All that labour, only to go hungry! Woe! Oh, woe!

And what did Deagrim do then? Why, he got angry. Yes, my dears, very angry indeed! He said he must look for a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate his pie up, every last crumb. A gad, little ones? A gad is a withy* band, much like a noose of rope. Oh yes, he meant to hang poor Smeagrim alright. Poor, poor Smeagrim! Hobbits took their pies very seriously in those days. We still do, naturally, but perhaps not so much as to have a hanging over one!

So Deagrim went hunting for a rod, and soon he came to one.

"Good day to you", said the rod.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the rod.

"I'm going looking for a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get me", said the rod, "until you get an axe to cut me." Deagrim came to the axe.

"Good day to you", said the axe.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the axe.

"I'm going looking for an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get me", said the axe, "until you get a hone to edge me." Deagrim came to the hone.

"Good day to you", said the hone.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the hone.

"I'm going looking for a hone, a hone to edge an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get me", said the axe, "until you get water to wet me." Deagrim came to the water.

"Good day to you", said the water.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the water.

"I'm going looking for water, water to wet a hone, a hone to edge an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get me", said the water, "until you get a cup to hold me." Deagrim came to the potter.

"Good day to you", said the potter.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the potter.

"I'm going looking for a cup, a cup to hold water, water to wet a hone, a hone to edge an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get a cup", said the potter, "until you get a cake, for I am hungry in my work." Deagrim came to the baker.

"Good day to you", said the baker.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the baker.

"I'm going looking for a cake, a cake to give to the potter, the potter to give a cup, a cup to hold water, water to wet a hone, a hone to edge an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get a cake", said the baker, "until you get me flour, for I have none just now." Deagrim came to the miller.

"Good day to you", said the miller.

"Good day to you, too", said Deagrim.

"Where are you going", said the miller.

"I'm going looking for flour, flour to bake a cake, a cake to give to the potter, the potter to give a cup, a cup to hold water, water to wet a hone, a hone to edge an axe, an axe to cut a rod, a rod to make a gad, a gad to hang Smeagrim with, who ate my pie up, every last crumb."

"You will not get flour", said the potter, "until you fill that sieve with water, for milling is a dry job, and I am thirsty in my work."

So Deagrim took the sieve in his hand and went to the mill-stream, but as often as he would stoop and fill the sieve with water, the moment he raised it, the water would all run out of it. In truth, if he'd been there from that day to this, he never could have brought the miller his drink of water.

A crow went flying by. "Daub! Daub!" said the crow.

"My word!", said Deagrim, "but that's fine advice", and he took the red clay and the daub that was by the stream. He rubbed it into the bottom of the sieve until all the holes were filled. Then...

{very quickly, & all on one breath}

He filled the sieve with water, brought the water to the miller, the miller gave the flour, took the flour to the baker, the baker baked the cake, took the cake to the potter, the potter gave the cup, filled the cup with water, water wet the hone, hone edged the axe, the axe cut the rod, the rod made the gad, and when the gad was ready... He never did find Smeagrim!

Poor, poor Deagrim! Poor, poor Smeagrim!

* weskit - dialect version of waistcoat

* withy - a tough flexible branch of an osier or other willow. Same word as in "Withywindle"

NB: This is an adaptation of an Irish tale, Munachar & Manachar, that I thought might amuse...

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A familiar dramatic structure with great Middle Earth atmosphere!

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