Longstriding is a peculiar condition, named after
halfling folk hero
Mian Longfellow, known to overtake
young hobbits with the curious (and most
unhobbit-like) desire to wander far from home, seeking such unnatural things as
adventures. It is occasionally accompanied by a desire to see far-off lands
and/or the acquisition of a sword of some
It is known that some younger hobbits may
be possessed with the sudden idea to go off and have "adventures", much to the
dismay of their family and often the family of their friends, neighbours or the
relations of any other halflings unfortunate enough to be drawn into this
desire. It seems that one hobbit possessed
of such an idea can quite easily spread it to a few close friends or relations,
seemingly by accident. The cause of this
hobbit habit, called "Longstriding" by some (in reference to the famous
halfling Mian Longfellow/-strider),
is not known. Some claim that the inclusion of fey or
elven blood somewhere along the family tree is
to blame. Others will quickly point to too much of the wrong sort of stories,
and note that good hobbit stories are the
best stories for young'uns. The last party blames the influence of the
Big Folk, especially wizards,
Black Butterfly Rovers and
any other unfortunate travelling sorts that may be in proximity.
Regardless of cause, Longstriding manifests as the idea that there are more
interesting things to do out in the "wide world" than in a shire, and that
wholesome occupations like farming tatters or mending watches are naught but
boring chores. Those afflicted with Longstriding desires may dig
swords out of old trunks, spend long hours
poring over maps and dusty books of tales, begin to write journals or any other
number of travelling related pastimes. This eventually culminates in the young
leaving the Shire with it in mind to go find an "adventure".
For most, this period will last no more than a week as the young
soon realizes that living out in the wild or on the roads without a proper bed
and less than four solid meals a day (to say nothing of a shortage of
pipeweed or good home-cooked food) is
not a particularly desirable state and they soon find their way home.
Others will stay away for weeks, months and even years at a stretch. The
eventual return of these individuals is looked upon with suspicion. In one
returned from a particularly long spell of Longstriding only to find that his
relatives had declared him dead and begun to move into his house!.
Longstriding is a phenomenon only known among
hobbits, and young ones at that. Between the ages of about 28 and 32 is the
typical age for hobbits to begin to
exhibit the desire to go a-Longstriding and it is at this point that most will
return. Those who exhibit Longstriding after they come of age are most often
the sort to stay away longer. It is a curious fact that hobbit lasses are less
prone to succumb to Longstriding than lads, though it is not unheard of.
There are no official explanations for why one
hobbit may go Longstriding while others are perfectly content. Some note
that it is typical among certain families and suggest that there is something
inherently "queer" or "odd" about them. The suggestion that one of the family
had a touch of fey blood in the past is not an uncommon one.
Suggestions of a halfling simply needing
to find a girl and settle down are not uncommon when the first signs of
Longstriding appear. Likewise, the suggestion that they simply need to work out
whatever strange urge it is to see things is often met with the comment that a
few days of "cold and wet and bad food will set them right".
There is some suspicion that home-grown food may be a sanative when dealing
with Longstriding. Some suggest that a diet consisting exclusively of
shire-grown and bred food may well be able to cure a bout of Longstriding,
though there is no proof of this.
The most famous case of Longstriding is doubtless the
halfling that gave
it the name. Mian Longfellow (known
by various other names), though such characters as
Boe Starlinggale and even the noted researcher Lumbe Bloggson have been
marked as acute cases of Longstriding.
Researchers. Noted eccentric, researcher
and compendiumist Shabakuk
Zeborius Anfang is credited with the collection of information about
Longstriding as is the hobbit researcher