The Ruark Kids

Four white horses on a red hill


(As a preface let me say I know I’m terribly behind on all the exciting things that have been going on. I’ll probably fill in soon and back-date so things end up chronological; it means you’ll have to scroll past this one to get to things that happened in the past month.)

I hope everyone knows the riddle, or at least of it and its source, which the title of this entry cribs. The full riddle is:

Thirty white horses on a red hill,
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still.

The answer, as Gollum immediately knows despite having only six himself, is teeth.

By a miracle of coincidence, that is how many teeth Siena now has. Four teeth have decided to make a break for it in the top of her mouth to add to the two that have homesteaded her lower jaw like pioneers in the wilderness for the past two months.

The red hill analogy is particularly apt, because when I look at these nascent tooth buds, I can’t help but think that each one imagines itself as a general leading the charge up the hill shouting, “I’m taking this hill! Madness? This is Siena! Ready your breakfast and eat hearty…for tonight, we dine on Zweiback! Who’s with me!?”

The problem, and here we come to the crux of the matter, is that truly each tooth fancies itself the general; they are each taking their own path up that hill (or down it when she’s right-side-up), and in a fit of errant genetics from both her father and mother, let’s just say things aren’t looking so great for her chances at getting some hot dates without some serious orthodonture.

Geek alert bonus: Douglas Anderson in The Annotated Hobbit notes that Tolkein paraphrased the teeth riddle from an earlier source.

Geek alert bonus #2: Yes that’s an affiliate link to Any money we might make through the affiliates program we’re going to donate to charity, so you should get nice warm and fuzzies if you actually were to feel compelled to buy this (or any other) book.


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