I kept trying to think of lyrics to a piano piece I wrote this month. Unfortunately the smart-ass in me wanted it's say, thus this Linus episode came into creation. In this section, Linus Weedwhacker (a Half-Ef) is living in quasi-exile among the Halfling town of Burrowsborough.
The wet morning turned into a pleasant afternoon as the Burrowsburrough walking club trekked towards Callain Forest. The three Halflings' voices rang sweet and clear over the rolling hillsides as they tramped merrily over the lush grass. Linus bringing up the rear was not having a good first day of it.
He was growing weary with their singing. So far the walking club had sung songs about walking, about bathing, about eating biscuits, about hay mowing, spinning, dancing, bowling, rowing, fishing and making jam; it was starting to get tiresome.
“Do you lot ever do anything that you don’t sing about?” he asked the Halflings.
“Well, one thing,” said Ludovic with a lusty chuckle.
“Unless there’re no ladies present,” added Malachi.
Even Linus had to laugh at this. In the end, menfolk were menfolk wherever you went.
“You don’t like singing?” asked Ludovic accusatorily. Among Halflings, an aversion to song was almost as suspicious as not drinking.
“No, I just don’t know the words half the time,” admitted Linus.
“I know, we’ll play ‘make a verse’ then,” said Eddie. Ludovic and Malachi heartily agreed to this.
“Is it more singing?” asked Linus.
“Yes, but you make up the verses as you go,” said Malachi
“I’m not good at verses,” grumbled Linus.
“Neither are we. It’s just all in good fun,” said Eddie.
“I’m good at it,” said Ludovic frankly.
“Yeah, he is,” conceded Eddie. “But Malachi and I could use the practice.”
“Fine,” sighed Linus.
“What melody are we singing?” asked Malachi.
Eddie thought about it. “Let’s see. It has to be one that Linus knows. Let’s use ‘The Whispering Willow.’ You know that one, Linus?”
“Yuh,” admitted Linus. It was the third movement from the Elven Baraloneth et Geheren (wisdom and foolishness) suite and currently a popular dance piece for reels. Linus knew the song, but it wasn’t his favorite, containing a lot of “tra-las” and “hey-nonnys.” The first verse of the song went thusly:
Ah! De wilo sussuraeg— eernen! (tra-la-la)
Hu tylwa sul seunthsiul gren (ah-ha!)
E farsad en enhodia ohr
Londias a dianeen indas demas helior
Far Il heded entritan Il wod sil rechor
Il entri e wilo a slen
Ah! Entritan es naepothen!
It was a rather fluffy song about wishing trees could sing, using tired Elven metaphors. Every verse had the word “green” in it and there was constant adoration of beautiful ladies with nothing interesting happening—the usual cue for Linus to take a nap in his chair. When Linus was forced to sing it at parties, he usually did it in a killing impersonation of a drunken Elven prince. It was a very popular bit among his city friends, but he’d never sung it in earnest before. He liked the tune, however, and was willing to play the game with only the usual grumbling.
“What’s the subject?” asked Ludovic.
“Can’t we make it free-form?” asked Malachi hopefully.
“You’re not singing about fruit trees again. You always sing about fruit trees,” snapped Ludovic.
“I like fruit trees,” mumbled Malachi looking longingly across the farmlands towards his orchards.
“The subject is…” Eddie looked about him and eventually spied a flash of orange hopping along the dirt road. “…Robins.” He said.
“I’ll go last,” said Linus nervously.
“Suit yourself. You’ll all have a tough act to follow though,” boasted Ludo who dove right in with his strong clear voice.
Ah, if I were a robin in springtime, (tra-la-la)
T’would be quite a marvelous thing, (a-ha)
I’d fly about on the gentle breeze,
And take my tea whenever I please,
With butterflies for my bread and cheese,
And pudding of dragonfly wings,
I’d feel like a jolly old king!
Ludovic finished to hearty applause from the other three.
“I say, well done! Not one pause!” cried Eddie in approval.
Linus was too impressed to say anything. A smug grin crossed Ludo’s face as he perceived this.
“I knew you’d sing about food, Ludo,” said Malachi with a snort.
“How can a Halfling who likes his pudding as much as you be thin as a rail, I’d like to know?” commented Eddie. “Right. My turn.” Eddie began to sing. His voice wasn’t as fine as Ludo’s and he was going flat by the end of it, but he made a good show.
A robin’s a regular dandy, (tra-la-la)
The cheekiest birdie he be, (a-ha)
His scarlet waistcoat turning heads,
He looks so beguiling a fellow in red,
With his suit and gold stockings he looks quite well-bred,
In his mansion high up in a tree,
The finest bird, don’t you agree?
There was moderate clapping followed by a pause while the others were considering the merit of Eddie’s rhyme.
“It’s not bad,” said Ludo eventually. “The ‘be he’ part bothered me. And I don’t think birds live in mansions.”
“They don’t eat puddings either,” said Linus, coming to Eddie’s rescue.
“You paused a bit in the middle,” Ludo persisted.
“I was going to say ‘orange’ instead of ‘red’, and stopped meself,” admitted Eddie.
“Dodged an arrow there, no mistake,” laughed Malachi.
“Alright. Who’s next? Linus? Mal?” said Ludovic.
“I’ll go but don’t laugh,” said the usually boisterous Malachi looking abashed. He began softly in his capable voice. It was a good rhyme and was sadly riddled with frequent pauses as Malachi worked out the rhyme or had to remember what he’d just come up with.
O if I were a robin in springtime (tra-la-la)
I’d start every day with a song (a-ha)
Good night Miss Moon, I see the sun!
Now get thee to bed for his turn has begun.
And when I am singing to everyone,
They might join me in singing along.
You might feel like singing along
They asked him to sing it again without the pauses so they could hear it properly, and they all agreed that Malachi was a fine competitor. Ludo frowned at being upstaged.
“You used ‘along’ twice and stole my first line,” he said bitterly, but they paid him no mind.
“It’s Linus’s turn now,” said Eddie.
“Er,” stammered Linus.
“Go on, bigg’un. See if you’re a match for Halfling rhymsters,” said Malachi.
“I doubt it,” said Ludovic with a snort. “Look, he’s sweating.”
It was probably Ludo that did it in the end, for Linus grit his teeth and launched into a sardonic verse on the spot.
I don’t give a fig about robins, (tra-la-la)
A robin has nothing to boast. (a-ha)
It’s far too early when they sing
And their cheeky attire doesn’t do me a thing
In fact of the things I detest about spring,
I hate songs about robins the most.
I fancy a robin on toast.
The last line made Eddie and Malachi burst out laughing until they sat on the grass to calm down. Even grim Ludovic cracked a smile but he refused to concede victory to Linus since he obviously “hadn’t taken the game seriously.”
“Oh give over, Ludo! He’s as funny as Doctor Frumbold on a good day!” said Eddie when he was able to draw breath.
“Hrmph!” grunted Ludovic, trying to sound bitter but his lips kept twitching into a grin.
Sadly, Linus had set a precedence that day that would haunt him to the end of his days in Burrowsburrough.