Mian Longfellow, known variously among halflings, mullogs and humans, is a folk hero among hobbits, popular in stories for young and old alike for his wit and cunning. To the humans, he is the Trickster Feykin, a wily thief. In all the stories about Longfellow, it is rare that he resorts to force, rather relying on wit or cunning or persuasion to solve dilemmas. He is also fond of jokes and tricks and has a wry sense of humour. While the stories are common enough among hobbit-folk and some of their close neighbours, the region around Helmondsshire and Astran is thick with them. Mian Longfellow is also known under many name, among them Mian Longstrider, Mian Feykin, Feygin the Greenfooted or the Young Gaffer.
Hobbit stories of Mian always begin by
describing him as tall, which is why he is called Longfellow, and suggest that
he had some elf blood in his veins since his features were fair and his eyes
were blue. Some stories go so far as to name him a feyling, offspring of a
halfling and an elf, giving him pointed ears.
The greatest recurring feature in the stories are Mian's cloak, which is magic
and makes him unseen in forests and among the hills so that "none may bar his
path", and his bag. This bag, also said to be magic,
holds a supply of dragon's gold, but its nature is such that any coins taken
from the bag will return to it once "his shadow turns from short fellow to
Humans describe Mian, who they call "The Long Fellow" or "Feygin the Trickster", as taller than the normal hobbit and "thinner around the belly, on account of the running he does", with a gleam in his eye and a pouch on his walking stick from which he extracts all kinds of things. The human tales of Mian include his ability to disappear into the wild, and sometimes refer to him has Feygin Greenfoot, and include a description of his feet as being " bare, and stained by grass and dirt, no matter where he goes".
Personality. Mian is always described as a crafty individual, no matter the story. His wits and cunning are always foremost in tales. Mian is considered very hobbitlike despite his wandering in that he does not "resort to wanton violence, as some of the Big Folk are known to" but instead exhibits the sort of sly, good-natured underhandedness that one might associate with hobbit children. Hobbit stories often mention that though Mian lived to be more than elventy-one, he never quite grew out of those habits which hobbit children have of poking his head into holes and making mischief.
Mian is also considered very clever by hobbits, "clever enough to think of things which anyone could have thought of, which is a very clever thing to do indeed". There are many stories in which a halfling will ask Mian for advice, occasionally to solve a problem that he himself had created. The first time, Mian will often answer with a riddle, which the poor halfling cannot solve. The second time, Mian will tell them to solve the riddle, and by the third the answer will have already presented itself and Mian will teach the unfortunate (and not-quite-so-clever) hobbit what has happened.
Feygin merely exaggerates some of these traits in a way that enables the country folk who live around Astran to poke fun at "nose-ups" or city-folk. Feygin plays tricks seemingly without end, and their nature always seems to be such that a less urban individual might recognize them quite easily. To men, Feygin is the untamed craftiness of a child with all the cunning of even the oldest of gaffers.
Mythology. Mian is one of several hobbit folk heroes, called Blessedvales. His stories are recounted (at least in Helmondsshire) in the "Book of Blessedtales", under a section called "Tales of Longstrider". While they are recorded in the book, many hobbits know at least one or two stories off by heart and a few gaffers have been known to recite the entire collection of tales from second-breakfast to suppertime on rainy days. The Blessedvales which include Liran, Dalireen and a smattering of others are various patrons of things hobbitish, great and small. Unfortunately, the Big Folk seem to confuse these Blessedvales with deities, rather than the polite, cheerful reverence that the halflings accord these figures which has led to the occasional creative misunderstanding. A recurring foe to Mian is the Green Dragon, from whom he tricked his magic cape and pouch along with a great deal of gold. Mian matches wits with the Green Dragon on several occasions throughout the Tales from which Mian miraculously manages to escape unharmed, by the skin of his neck.
The greatest difference between Mian and Feygin is that the later can have a more sinister bent to him, particularly the further one reaches from the shire. Feygin has tricked the gold in his magic pouch not from a dragon, but from many a merchant, sometime dishonest, sometimes not. Feygin is decidedly a thief and his prey is often food or a fat purse.
Becoming a Patron. Popular speculation has it that Mian was a living breathing person, likely a feyling or closely descended thereof and given to natural longevity and certain unhobbit-like tendencies. There are records from around the mid 1500s b.S. of a great winged beast, with leathery hide and fiery breath flying low over the shire and setting fire to a nearby wood, often attributed to Mian's doing. It is unclear which stories are true as several older tales seem to have become attached to Longfellow, particularly where the hero was vague or unspecified. While it is quite certain that Mian performed deeds of his own, this folkloric gathering would have only served to enhance the legend.
Lore. Perhaps the most famous of the Tales of Longstrider is "Mian and the Dragon", wherein he obtains his magic cloak and bag from a dragon, and returns to take the dragon's gold. This dragon, usually named (somewhat unimaginatively) "The Green Dragon", is the greatest recurring element in the Tales of Longstrider other than Mian himself. All of the stories of Mian are collected in the "Book of Blessedtales".
Importance. Mian is to halflings the patron of tricks and games, halfling travelers, hobbit luck and general cleverness. A hobbit child or gaffer, who never seems to be caught when playing games, or cannot be found when there is a missing pie is said to have "Longfellow's shadow". Halflings that are clever with riddles and the like are "as twisty as the hair on Longstrider's toes". Hobbits, particularly those few who travel, call for "Longfellow's luck" in cases of bad weather, long roads and danger, hoping it will speed their path and keep it clear. Mian is an idol to young and old hobbits alike, the personification of youth and cleverness.
The peculiar trait that exhibits itself among certain families once every so often, of young hobbits growing restless and going off adventuring is also associated with Mian. Those who leave the shire in this manner are said to have gone a-longstriding. Various halflings credit this to fey blood somewhere back along the lines, meaning some elven heritage of some sort but this remains vague speculation at best.
Feygin is a popular if occaisonally disliked, children's character in the regions surrounding Astran. When an object, particularly money or food, goes missing it is said to have been "taken by Feygin", often in admonishment to the person who let it go missing. The same can be said if one forgets, for instance, where something was placed but is certain that it was sitting out in plain sight a moment ago. Children who enjoy running out in the wilds are said to be "off chasing Greenfoot" particularly with regards to the grass and dirt stains that they invariably return with.