I’m a hobbit.
As in, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell. Nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing to sit in or to eat. It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.”
Let me back up and explain.
Master K heard the Sword God bragging about my one skill: Reading. So he lent me a book. Living the Martial Way,
by Forrest E. Morgan, Maj USAF.
It was a sneaky, underhanded trick. Living the Martial Way is not a book that one reads. It is a book that one digests. And the first bit of digestion I must do is this: can a hobbit live the martial way?
The question is not a joke. I go on about how I am racing the Sword Gimp in his Master’s Quest. But there is a very fundamental difference between a Warrior and a non-Warrior, and the difference is very neatly illustrated in the contrast between the Sword Gimp and myself. He comes from a long line of warriors, with both sides of his family supplying fighters in wars dating back to King Arthur and beyond. He is, in fact, a warrior poet, an enthusiastic heir to his Celtic ancestors.
I bring up his ancestry not because I think it has magic power, but because he lives it.
My ancestors hail from Darbyshire. We were hobbits. Our one moment of awesomeness was serving as the minions of Robin Hood.
And I live the life of a hobbit. I eat breakfast twice when I can get it. My deepest desire is a bit of peace and quiet. The Gimp has been beat into a pulp. I’ve never faced a fight in my life. The Gimp has faced dark times with grace and honor. I haven’t really faced dark times at all.
And yet, and yet…
A proper hobbit has a belly of blubber, but a spine of steel. A proper hobbit loves peace and quiet, but when war comes, the fat is stripped away and something harder is found underneath. In the start of Lord of the Rings, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is a pestering old country shrew. At the end, we learn that she is a potent women, who will not bend even to Saruman.
Am I a hobbit after all? Hobbits are pretty damn intense.
I could take a page from Merry and Pippin.
‘It is true that if these hobbits understood the danger, they would not dare to go. But they would still wish to go, or wish that they dared, and be shamed and unhappy.’
Ultimately, the question of whether I am a warrior is moot. War will come. If I am still around to find it, will I find it with my trousers up, or down? It is probable that I cannot be a warrior. It is certain that I must be a warrior.
I am not completely without hope.
“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.
“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.