I will be forever the kind, gentle and helpful friend to every child, but to others…
I will haunt the lanes and byways of the Shire, being glimpsed first here and then there, but only briefly. My tread shall be light, but not so light that the lone walker will fail to hear the footstep as close behind it falls. The dogs and horses will know me, of course, and they will not be afraid.
I will sing sad songs beneath the windows of the sleeping in the early hours of cold winter mornings.
I will cast the shadow of my unseen form across their eyes on bright summer afternoons.
I will caress the napes of their necks with the chill breath of my spectral presence.
I will show brief flashes of my red habit through the half open doors of those who are home alone.
I will howl in their chimneys when the wind is still, and chuckle in the corner when their lights are low.
I will take their hand gently as they drift towards sleep at night, and clatter noisily down the stairs upon their waking in the morning.
I will sit unseen at their breakfast tables, curdling their eggs and crushing their cornflakes and leaving three drops of milk on the surface. Just three…
And none shall escape my attention, save those who live by Shakespeare’s dictum:
Is she kind as she is fair? For beauty lives with kindness.
* * *
Well now, that passed an amusing half hour. And I wasn’t entirely joking.