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Chapter Two

There was a dragon in the garden.

John snapped stiff and erect, like a soldier at attention. His hands balled to quivering fists at his side; his jaw was locked and his eyes flashed. Adrenaline flooded his veins. He was a grim man, tempered in the fire of the world and sharpened by its grindstone. He did not run.

But it was only the boulder. The shadows of night had played a childish trick. In the moonlight, the old boulder looked vaguely like a crouching reptile, each tiny crevice etched with dark until it resembled a scale. John slowly unclenched his hands. His brow furrowed, and he looked puzzled. Abruptly, he rubbed his face.
“It was only a dream.” he said aloud, “Only a dream.”
He did not go back into the cabin. The moonlight drew him on, and he followed like a man under a spell.

A pale path had been laid out. The silver orb in the heavens had cast a meandering, uncertain ribbon of light. To either side lay darkness, but the moon path led faintly on, away from the valley and up into the high, wild hills. John’s feet found the illuminated track of their own accord. He did not resist them, but followed where the moon led with curiousity.
“This is certainly odd.” he said to himself, “Perhaps I am dreaming still?” He laughed then, and a pleasant laugh it was, not grim or stone-like at all. There was no fear in his heart, only child-like wonder.

Many miles the bright path must have led him, but the distance, like the time, faded and held no meaning. He was as one in a trance, like one new-born and innocent, trusting to the forces that led him. The moon rode high in the night sky, beckoning ever on with the memory of the white Lady.
“I will show you.” She had said.
“Show me what?” John mused aloud, “Who are you?”
“I will show you.”
The moon had traveled far across the sky. It set gently, returning to whence it came and leaving the fading stars to give light until the sun should rise. The white moon path had vanished. John stopped, and stood still. His thoughts had fled with the moon; he stood mute and dumb. A numbing tiredness settled over him. A vague warmth traveled up his body, suffusing his mind like a draught of liquor. Without thought of where he was or why, he cast himself into the heath, and slept the deep sleep of oblivion.

John awoke with a sneeze. The early sun rays had tickled his nose, and this first rude visitor was soon followed by another. Brushing stray leaves of grass from his hair, he sat up and shivered. Dew had drenched his thin shirt. He was pale and uncertain with cold. Rubbing his arms vigorously, he stood up and looked around.

The beauty of a Scottish sunrise did nothing to alleviate his dismay. He was on the side of a high hill, rocky and covered with turf. Below him was a small valley that twisted on between the hills out of sight. There was a stream somewhere nearby, a merry gurgling giving its presence away. Nothing about the place distinguished it from any other hill in the vast highlands. John turned about in a circle. He raised his arms, then let them drop in exasperation.
“And what now, O White Lady?” he whispered, “Where have you and your moonlit spectres led me?” Searching his pockets, he found to his great trepidation that he had left the cabin with nothing - not even a pocket handkerchief! Where was he? Where had his night venture led him? He rubbed his head. And why? He could not remember drinking anything besides tea. What foolish whim had prompted him to wander off into the wilderness without the slightest provision, when no one even knew where his cabin was?
What a fool he was!
“All this for a dream?” he cried irritably to the hills, “I’m lost, confound it!”

“Lost?” spoke a cheerful voice behind him, “Well, that’s all dependin’ on what you were lookin’ for!”
John leaped about with surprise. What he saw only made him gape and stare all the more. There in front of him stood a man - if a man it was. The person meeting his eyes could not have been more than four feet tall! He was smiling and seemed young, his cheeks round and red and his hair a curly brown. He wore no shoes, but his feet were large and covered with hair much like that on his head. He wore short trousers held up with suspenders, a spotless white shirt, and a homely brown cloak. His broad, smiling face was pleasant and would not have been out of place in this country of shepherds had it been on a person several feet taller.
“And if you don’t mind me askin’, Master Stranger,” the little man said jovially, “What exactly are you doing here? It’s not often we see the Big Folk anymore. I wouldna even have stopped to chat with you, except you do look rather cold and lost.”
If John had forgotten the cold in light of this new arrival, he was no less lost. His mouth hung open, and the only reply he could muster was a confused squeak.
The little man’s face changed. He looked kindly and concerned. “You do seem to be needin’ some help,” he said, speaking slowly and with exaggerated pronunciation, as if to a not-too-bright child, “How did you get out here, now?”
John finally recovered himself from his surprise.
“I . . . I followed a dream,” he said, blushing. He groaned inwardly. This person already thought him slow; what impression would such a silly story make?
But the little man did not seem at all skeptical. He looked seriously at John, “A dream, eh? P’raps you’re not so lost after all, then. What’s your name?”
“John. John Tolkien.” John replied, staring with great interest now at the his diminutive acquaintance.
The half-sized man smiled, “My name is Samwise Gamgee.” he said, “And heartily pleased to meet you, I am.”

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