Imagine a room in a typical hobbit hole. It’s neat and tidy with not the slightest hint of a crack in the smooth rounded plaster. Generations of grey-headed housekeepers have rubbed the wooden vaulting beams with linseed oil until the maple fairly glows with a ruddy sheen like a sorrel pony’s curried flank. The floors are much the same, only with oak planking set tongue-in-groove with hand-carved pegs. It could be any man’s room. Even the furniture has the look of sturdy reliability that could serve anyone’s needs without being noticed in a crowd of fancier furniture.
Two weeks and a giggly horde later, and the place is a thing transformed. Stairstepped girls with ruddy cheeks and arms full of buckets and linen rolls have bustled to and fro underfoot of every bounder from Staddle to Hobbiton, and all places in between. Orders were given and hoppers found themselves inexplicably fetching and carrying for some big-eyed sprite with a wobbly lip and a persuasive… nay, persistent enthusiasm for interior decoration.
At last, their grey haired mama arrives to send them back to whatever frilly madhouse they escaped, and the bounders are left to wonder at just what has been done to their two-feathered friend’s room.
The plaster wall is a sunny yellow with a stenciled border of marigolds, daisies, and lucky clover leaves marching along either side of every beam. The furniture is now a shade of clover distinctly on the bright side of ‘manly’, this too emblazoned with the stenciled blossoms. This is hardly the end of the floral invasion; there has been added a trunk at the bed’s foot (with flowers) and a stool with an embroidered topper (flowers). Even the mirror has tiny flowers painted around the frame, and the folded back sheet reveals more flowers on the border and the pillowcases. A sampler signed “Lapis, Age 21” hangs right next to a framed portrait of a flame-headed buxom lass with a grinning child sat on her lap. Someone must have been snooping to have found that one. Where the floor was bare, a braided rag-rug in a cheery assortment of colors radiates out to cover anywhere a bare foot may rest on a chilly morning. It’s easily the least tasteful thing in the room, though it does have green and yellow in it alongside the jarring shades of rust, red, charcoal, and blue.
The flowers hardly put an end to it. The curtains are airy white linen bordered in dark green grosgrain ribbon and edged with someone’s painstakingly knit lace. It flutters a bit as a breeze wafts marigold and pansies from the brand new windowbox. In fact, lace has been stuck to anything with an edge. There’s a lace runner cloth atop the dresser (chrysanthemum pattern) and a set of lace-edged tea-towels by the washbasin, and even the dust ruffle has a good three inches of lilac-leaf. One could be pardoned for thinking he had stepped into a show room for pages 2-18 of the Housewife’s Treasury of Knitted Lace.
The most impressive bit is a thick log cabin quilt in shades of green, gold, and cream. Close inspection shows that the stitches get smaller and more even from one corner to the other. On the inside bottom edge nine hands have embroidered their names:
With Fond Regards; Pearl, Amber, Jade, Pyrite, Lapis,* Anthracite, Dandelion, Miss Marigold Proudfoote-Bolger, and Centifolia Bolger.
Someone also left a note tucked under the fold of the bedspread whose schoolgirl penmanship reads:
Verdi made the rug, so no fair making fun of the lumpy bits. I thought it was too shabby, but they made me put it here anyhow. XOXO, Miss Marri Proudfoote-Bolger, of Hobbiton-Bywater. (And a picture of a mouse, for no apparent reason.)
*dotted with a heart