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The hobbits took no notice of the inquisitive heads that peeped out of doors, or popped over walls and fences, as they passed But as they drew near to the further gate, Frodo saw a dark ill kept house behind a thick hedge: the last house in the village In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes but it vanished at once

Sam turned quickly And you Ferny, he said, put your ugly face out of sight, or it will get hurt With a sudden flick, quick as lightning, an apple left his hand and hit Bill square on the nose He ducked too late, and curses came from behind the hedge Waste of a good apple, said Sam regretfully, and strode on

Strider had changed his mind, and he decided to leave Bree by the main road Any attempt to set off across country at once would only make matters worse: half the inhabitants would follow them, to see what they were up to, and to prevent them from trespassing

In the end there was more than three hours delay Bob came back with the report that no horse or pony was to be got for love or money in the neighbourhood except one: Bill Ferny had one that he might possibly sell A poor old half starved creature it is, said Bob but he wont part with it for less than thrice its worth, seeing how youre placed, not if I knows Bill Ferny

Bill Fernys price was twelve silver pennies and that was indeed at least three times the ponys value in those pans It proved to be a bony, underfed, and dispirited animal but it did not look like dying just yet Mr Butterbur paid for it himself, and offered Merry another eighteen pence as some compensation for the lost animals He was an honest man, and well off as things were reckoned in Bree but thirty silver pennies was a sore blow to him, and being cheated by Bill Ferny made it harder to bear

In the end there was more than three hours delay Bob came back with the report that no horse or pony was to be got for love or money in the neighbourhood except one: Bill Ferny had one that he might possibly sell A poor old half starved creature it is, said Bob but he wont part with it for less than thrice its worth, seeing how youre placed, not if I knows Bill Ferny

As much as we must, said Pippin with a sinking heart, but trying to show that he was tougher than he looked or felt

They said farewell to Nob and Bob, and took leave of Mr Butterbur with many thanks I hope we shall meet again some day, when things are merry once more, said Frodo I should like nothing better than to stay in your house in peace for a while

Archet was hidden in the trees beyond

There is one crumb of comfort, said Merry, and more than a crumb, I hope: we can have breakfast while we wait and sit down to it Lets get hold of Nob

Sam turned quickly And you Ferny, he said, put your ugly face out of sight, or it will get hurt With a sudden flick, quick as lightning, an apple left his hand and hit Bill square on the nose He ducked too late, and curses came from behind the hedge Waste of a good apple, said Sam regretfully, and strode on

They tramped off, anxious and downhearted, under the eyes of the crowd Not all the faces were friendly, nor all the words that were shouted But Strider seemed to be held in awe by most of the Bree landers, and those that he stared at shut their mouths and drew away He walked in front with Frodo next came Merry and Pippin and last came Sam leading the pony, which was laden with as much of their baggage as they had the heart to give it but already it looked less dejected, as if it approved of the change in its fortunes Sam was chewing an apple thoughtfully He had a pocket full of them: a parting present from Nob and Bob Apples for walking, and a pipe for sitting, he said But I reckon Ill miss them both before long

After the Road had run down some way, and had left Bree hill standing tall and brown behind, they came on a narrow track that led off towards the North This is where we leave the open and take to cover, said Strider

I doubt it, said the landlord unhappily The two or three riding ponies that there were in Bree were stabled in my yard, and theyre gone As for other animals, horses or ponies for draught or what not, there are very few of them in Bree, and they wont be for sale But Ill do what I can Ill rout out Bob and send him round as soon as may be

In the end there was more than three hours delay Bob came back with the report that no horse or pony was to be got for love or money in the neighbourhood except one: Bill Ferny had one that he might possibly sell A poor old half starved creature it is, said Bob but he wont part with it for less than thrice its worth, seeing how youre placed, not if I knows Bill Ferny

I wonder, said Strider But I cannot imagine any animal running home to him, once it got away I fancy this is only an afterthought of kind Master Fernys: just a way of increasing his profits from the affair The chief danger is that the poor beast is probably at deaths door But there does not seem any choice What does he want for it?

If you pick up with a horse thief, and bring him to my house, said Butterbur angrily, you ought to pay for all the damage yourselves and not come shouting at me Go and ask Ferny where your handsome friend is But it appeared that he was nobodys friend, and nobody could recollect when he had joined their party

I wonder, said Strider But I cannot imagine any animal running home to him, once it got away I fancy this is only an afterthought of kind Master Fernys: just a way of increasing his profits from the affair The chief danger is that the poor beast is probably at deaths door But there does not seem any choice What does he want for it?

So thats where that southerner is hiding he thought He looks more than half like a goblin

They tramped off, anxious and downhearted, under the eyes of the crowd Not all the faces were friendly, nor all the words that were shouted But Strider seemed to be held in awe by most of the Bree landers, and those that he stared at shut their mouths and drew away He walked in front with Frodo next came Merry and Pippin and last came Sam leading the pony, which was laden with as much of their baggage as they had the heart to give it but already it looked less dejected, as if it approved of the change in its fortunes Sam was chewing an apple thoughtfully He had a pocket full of them: a parting present from Nob and Bob Apples for walking, and a pipe for sitting, he said But I reckon Ill miss them both before long

Bill Ferny? said Frodo Isnt there some trick? Wouldnt the beast bolt back to him with all our stuff, or help in tracking us, or something?

Never has such a thing happened in my time What are we coming to?

The hobbits took no notice of the inquisitive heads that peeped out of doors, or popped over walls and fences, as they passed But as they drew near to the further gate, Frodo saw a dark ill kept house behind a thick hedge: the last house in the village In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes but it vanished at once

Bill Fernys price was twelve silver pennies and that was indeed at least three times the ponys value in those pans It proved to be a bony, underfed, and dispirited animal but it did not look like dying just yet Mr Butterbur paid for it himself, and offered Merry another eighteen pence as some compensation for the lost animals He was an honest man, and well off as things were reckoned in Bree but thirty silver pennies was a sore blow to him, and being cheated by Bill Ferny made it harder to bear

Sam turned quickly And you Ferny, he said, put your ugly face out of sight, or it will get hurt With a sudden flick, quick as lightning, an apple left his hand and hit Bill square on the nose He ducked too late, and curses came from behind the hedge Waste of a good apple, said Sam regretfully, and strode on

Mr Butterbur hurried off to see that their ponies were got ready, and to fetch them a bite But very soon he came back in dismay The ponies had vanished not only Merrys ponies, but every other horse and beast in the place

Strider had changed his mind, and he decided to leave Bree by the main road Any attempt to set off across country at once would only make matters worse: half the inhabitants would follow them, to see what they were up to, and to prevent them from trespassing

There is one crumb of comfort, said Merry, and more than a crumb, I hope: we can have breakfast while we wait and sit down to it Lets get hold of Nob

Bill Ferny? said Frodo Isnt there some trick? Wouldnt the beast bolt back to him with all our stuff, or help in tracking us, or something?

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