“That’s your disguise, Gandalf?” Pippin’s muffled voice rose from the hindquarters of the horse. “You came as a wizard?”
“I am here to keep you out of trouble, Peregrin Took, so no costume is needed.”
“Don’t worry about me, Gandalf! I’ve done this for years, ever since I was a lad.”
“It isn’t you I was worried about.”
The horse bobbed its head up and down, the string mane swinging wildly, as Merry squealed, “Look! Here are the others!”
Two figures, one tall and one short, strode down the lane. Legolas’ face peered out from among hundreds of silk leaves embroidered with silver sequins. He wore a robe made of tree bark, and his arms stuck out stiffly from his sides.
“You’re a tree!” Pippin shouted.
“Haroooomm, barrooommmm…” the elf started to bellow.
“No, you’re an ent!” Merry cried. “That’s wonderful, but promise us you won’t talk like that all night because I don't think Pip and I could stand it. And look at Gimli!”
A stubby dragon, dressed in an odd mixture of scale armor and velveteen, bowed. “And not just any dragon! I am the mighty Green Dragon!” He took a swig from a bottle, then striking a spark on his armor, he blew out a stream of fire.
The hobbits jumped, shrieking with laughter, as Gandalf shouted, “Do not do that again, or I will turn you into a toadstool and leave you for the squirrels to eat!”
“Why do you not have a costume, Gandalf?” Legolas asked.
Ignoring the question, the wizard looked around. “Where are Faramir and Eowyn?”
“I thought they were right behind us,” Gimli said with a frown. “Perhaps they took a wrong turn in the dark.” They were about to form a search party when two tall figures stumbled down the lane.
A strangely shapely ranger pushed back his hood. “We lost our way,” Eowyn said, gasping for breath. The mustache that she had drawn on with charcoal was smeared all over her face.
Faramir straightened his blond wig. He wore a coat of mail and carried a round, green shield painted with a white horse. His face, too, was smudged with black marks. “These hedgerows all look much the same.”
“You came as each other!” Pippin laughed; then he frowned and asked, “You fit in each other’s armor?”
“Never mind, Pip. Let’s get going.” Merry handed empty pillowcases to the members of the party. “Now we go to all the farms hereabout, and we ask the folk for sweets. That’s why it’s called beggars’ night.”
“But the Shire is a prosperous land. There are no beggars here.”
“It’s just a name, Faramir.”
The horse's backside bounced up and down. “They give us taffy and cookies and cakes. And at some farms, they serve us ale.”
“But first, we must wait for Gandalf to don his disguise,” Eowyn said, smiling brightly.
“I am going as a wizard, and if anyone else asks about my lack of a costume, I will go as a greatly annoyed wizard.”
“Not much of a disguise,” one of the hobbits muttered as they stumbled down the lane to the nearest farm.