Incunabulum by Lbilover

Written for the word of the day 'incunabulum', which means a book printed before 1501. 


'And now, ladies and gentlemen,' said the Michel Delving Museum's tour director, Harold Hardbottle, 'we come to the museum's most cherished and valuable possession. Yes, that is correct: you see before you the original manuscript of the Red Book of Westmarch.'


Oohing and aahing, the tour group huddled around the glass case in which the book was displayed.


'Big People to the rear, please,' Harold directed, 'so that the hobbits can see, too.'


After some shuffling of position, the group settled in to listen.


Harold took up a position beside the display case, cleared his throat, and said, 'While copies of the Red Book have long existed, principally The Thain's Book in the library at Great Smials and the Minas Tirith edition completed by the King's Writer Findegil in 1592, the original manuscript was long believed lost.


'But nine years ago it unexpectedly came to light in a storage tunnel at Undertowers in the Westmarch. Through the generosity of the current Warden, a lineal descendant of Elanor and Fastred Fairbairn, the Museum was gifted with the manuscript and tasked with preserving it for future generations to enjoy.


'This manuscript, ladies and gentlemen, is a treasure of incalculable worth. In fact,’ Harold added with justifiable pride, ‘scholars have travelled to Michel Delving from as far away as Lebennin and Harad for the sole purpose of viewing it.'


More oohs and aahs came from the rapt audience.


'The Red Book is the product of three different authors: Bilbo Baggins, who began it as a personal diary; Frodo Baggins, who continued it with a recounting of the War of the Ring, in which he played a principal part; and finally Samwise Gamgee, better known as Samwise Gardner, who completed it after Frodo departed over Sea, and later entrusted it to his daughter Elanor Fairbairn upon his own reputed departure to the legendary land of the Elves.


'As you can see, the condition of the manuscript is nothing less than remarkable considering its great age. In order to preserve the integrity of the red leather binding, it is opened to a different page every day.


'And for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, you are fortunate indeed to be visiting the Museum today, April 6th, the anniversary of the birth of the most famous gardener in the history of the Shire. I speak of course of Samwise Gamgee. On this day each year, the Red Book is opened to Nine-fingered Frodo's account of Samwise carrying him up Mount Doom. Please note the stains on the pages. They are believed to be the very tears of Frodo Baggins, shed as he wrote of the historic events that occurred on Mount Doom.'


Hobbits and Big People alike pressed closer, eager to read the pages and examine the tear splotches that adorned them.


Harold Hardbottle stepped back, but not too far. He knew from experience that the supply of extra handkerchiefs stored in his jacket pocket would be needed; the tale of Samwise Gamgee's extraordinary heroism and devotion was apt to move the most stalwart to tears, even as it had the one whom Samwise had carried upon his back.