The Tale of a Snail and Fairy Steeds

The Tale of a Snail and Fairy Steeds

The characters are property of the Tolkien Estate.

Arwen was sitting in the royal family's private garden, embroidering a gown for her small daughter, Farawyn ,who was sitting on a blanket on the grass at her feet, playing with a doll. Suddenly, the little girl jumped up and exclaimed excitedly,

"Naneth, look a fairy horse!"

"A fairy horse, dearest one?" All Arwen could see was a large snail.

"Yes, a beautiful fairy horse carrying the fairies in his carriage!"

"I thought that was his house he carried on his back?"

"O no, Naneth. Don't you remember what my book said?"

Suddenly it all made sense to the Queen. Last Yuletide, Sam and Rosie had sent her daughter a beautiful book full of pictures of tiny human like creatures called fairies who had wings and lived in the garden with the wild creatures there. Apparently, the book was a favourite with children of the Shire." I thought fairies could fly?" Arwen said.

"They can, but they are lazy. They prefer their horses to carry them. Let's watch where he goes, Naneth, maybe he will take us to where the fairies live?"

Arwen had been sewing all afternoon and was happy for a diversion and to join in her daughter's game. She got to her feet, leaving her needlework on the chair.

The snail left the path and went into the long grass. Farawyn made to follow it.

"You will get your stockings wet, dearest one!"

"Can I take them off, please?"

Arwen glanced around. No one was in sight. Aragorn kept the guards within earshot, rather than watching their every move. She had given the nursemaid the afternoon off so she could spend some time alone with Farawyn. The younger children of Ilúvatar grew so fast that she treasured every moment with her little ones. " Yes, you can, dearest one, and so shall I!" Arwen sat down again and pulled off her shoes and stockings, then helped Farawyn do the same. The grass felt soft and welcoming to her unshod feet. She laughed out loud.

"Why are you so happy, Naneth? Because we might see some fairies?"

"I was thinking about when your Ada and I were courting. We were staying in my Grandmother's realm."

"Can we go and visit her?"

"I fear not, dearest one. Arwen blinked away a sudden tear at the memories of Galadriel.

"Has she died?"

"No, she is far beyond the sea, where the younger children of Ilúvatar may not visit. Remember what I told you about your Grandparents?" Rather bitterly, Arwen thought that her daughter had a better chance of one day meeting her father's dead parents, as Men believed they would meet again beyond the Circles of the World."

"Do you miss them a lot? Please don't go away to visit them, Naneth !"

"I do sometimes, but I have you and Eldarion and your Ada and all the friends I have made here." Arwen hugged Farawyn tightly, her bitterness vanishing as quickly as it had struck her. "I would much rather be with you than across the seas with my family. I made a final choice to stay here with your Ada, Now where has the snail, um "fairy horse" gone?" She forced herself to smile.

"He's here. We just have to follow his magic silver trail."

They followed the snail's exceedingly slow progress across the garden. Farawyn stopped and exclaimed with excitement along the way as she turned over stones and looked underneath flowers in search of fairies. Arwen became as engrossed in the journey as her small daughter sharing her wonder in the shapes of fallen leaves and the colours of stones. Finally, the snail reached the King's medicinal garden and started to munch on a leaf there. Arwen bent to pick it up. She noticed several other snails were already munching the precious plants. This would not do at all.

"No, Naneth, you will disturb the fairies!"

"I don't think the fairies are at home today. We cannot let their "horses" eat the plants Ada uses to make sick people well again."

Farawyn's lower lip began to tremble. Arwen thought quickly. She was loth to hurt any living creature, but these plants were precious. " I don't think the fairies and their "steeds" like living here. They would rather live in the countryside. Why don't we ask Uncle Faramir to take them with him when he goes home to Ithilien tomorrow? They can live in a nice big field with Aunt Éowyn's horses. We can search for fairies when we visit next. Shall we go and find a nice box to put them in and some nice cabbage leaves from the kitchen for them to eat?"

"But what if any fairies are left behind?"

Arwen frantically tried to remember the pictures in Farawyn's book. Sudden inspiration came to her. "The fairies can travel by dragonfly if any are left behind. Now why don't you tell them about their new home?"

Farawyn beamed and started running round the garden calling out "Fairies, you are going to live with Uncle Faramir and Aunt Éowyn in the country."

Arwen pulled up her stockings and donned her shoes then took Farawyn in search of a suitable box.


Later that evening, Arwen was beginning her day meal with her husband and Faramir. After the Standing Silence Aragorn asked how she had spent the day. "I went on an enjoyable adventure in the garden with Farawyn," she replied. "Faramir, I need you to take a box of snails to release in our meadows when you go home tomorrow if you would be so kind?"

"Gladly, my lady," the Steward replied. He looked somewhat puzzled though.

"Farawyn thinks they are fairy steeds," she explained. "When I saw them eating Estel's herbs I told her they would be happy with your horses."

"The wondrous imagination of a child!" Aragorn exclaimed. "Sometimes I wish I could revisit the days of my childhood and recapture those moments."

Maybe with our daughter's help you can," said Arwen. "She took me on a magical adventure today."

Note. - This story was inspired by a recent dream and childhood memories. I once brought a box of snails home from a holiday in Wales when I was about Farawyn's age. Farawyn is my OC. Tolkien said Aragorn and Arwen had daughters but gave them no names.

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