The Lord of the... whatever, Book I, Chapter 5:
A Conspiracy Undressed
"Well," said Morrie, as the laughter subsided, "we'd
best be going ourselves. I'm looking forward to a meal
and a pint of ale." Across the river the hobbits could
see the cheerful glow of neon lights blinking in the
windows of Brandy Hall.
Long ago, Gorhendad Oldbuck (Morrie's great-great-great-
grandfather, his great-great-uncle, or his third cousin once
removed, depending on which branch of the family tree you
trace) was the town drunk of Bywater. People called him all
kinds of names -- Drunkenbuck, Alebuck, and the like -- but the
name that stuck was Brandybuck. Unfortunately for him, he
lived at the time of the Shire's great experiment with
prohibition. Unhappy with the dry state of affairs, he moved
across the Brandywine River and set up his own little country,
where the alcohol flowed freely. Pretty soon, the greater
portion of the Shire's population was packed into a small strip
of land between the River and the Forest. The mayor of Michel
Delving finally admitted defeat and repealed prohibition. Most
hobbit folk returned to the four farthings, but Brandybuck and
his family had set up a nice home in Bucklebeltland, so they
stayed behind. To this day, Bucklebeltland is still known for
it's cavalier attitude towards the Shire's laws (making it the
perfect place for Frodo to hide out from tax laws and bill
collectors), and also for the fine quality of its many pubs.
As the ferry-boat moved away from the shore, Sam peered
uneasily at the darkly swirling water, convinced that an armed
elf-princess would jump up and bonk him on the nose. Knowing
the Bucklebeltlanders' reputation, he wasn't sure that he liked
the idea of taking a boat piloted by Morrie (after all, Frodo's
parents Gordo and Primadonna had died in an accident involving
drinking and boating). "Um, about that bridge," he offered,
"couldn't that Black Rider fellow just ride across and attack
us on the other side?"
"Samwise, my butt," grumbled Morrie to himself, "Samfool
is more like it." Aloud he answered, "It's clearly posted that
you have to take boats eastbound, and since this is the last boat,
we'll be safe."
Peering into the murk, Sam could just make out a dark figure
walking around on the west bank. The figure moved towards the
bridge, but noticing a sign it turned dejectedly and disappeared
into the night.
"Here we are," declared Morrie as the ferry pulled into its
slip. "Coming, Sam?" Looking around, Sam realized that Pipsqueak
and Frodo had already scrambled ashore. "C'mon, Sam, Crickhollow
is just around the corner and Fatty's getting dinner on."
Entering Crickhollow, Frodo could tell that his friends had taken
great pains to set it up just like his old home at Bag End. All of
his posters were already up on the walls, his fish were swimming happily
in an aquarium set up in the corner, and they had even left a pile of
his dirty laundry beside the T.V. He felt ashamed that they'd gone to
all of this work and he was going to have to leave them.
"Dinner smells great," said Pipsqueak to Fatty, who was just coming
out of the kitchen, "but after sleeping under a tree last night I need
to wash up first. It's bath time."
"Which order shall we go in," said Frodo. "Smartest first, or cutest
first? You'll be last either way, Master Pipsqueak."
"No fear!" said Merry, "There are two tubs back there. You're left
with the shower, though, Sam. In a class-based society such as this you
really can't expect a servant-boy like you to enjoy the same luxuries as
As the three travelers filed back to the washroom, Sam was muttering
something about ". . . first one up against the wall when the revolution
comes." Soon, though, the sound of splashing and wallowing was mixed
with the sound of Pipsqueak's favorite bathing song.
Rubber Ducky, you're the one,
You make bathtime lots of fun,
Rubber Ducky, I'm awfully fond of you;
(woh woh, bee doh!)
Rubber Ducky, joy of joys,
When I squeeze you, you make noise!
Rubber Ducky, you're my very best friend, it's true!
(doo doo doo doooo, doo doo)
Rubber Ducky, you're so fine
And I'm lucky that you're mine
Rubber ducky, I'm awfully fond of -
Rubber ducky, I'd like a whole pond of -
Rubber ducky I'm awfully fond of you!
There was a terrific flush, and a shout of "Whoa!" from Sam as he was scalded
in the shower. It wasn't long before all three were drawn back to the dining
room by the smell of Fatty's roasted mushrooms.
Now, if you've ever met a hobbit, you know that they love to eat. For such
little guys, they can pack away a lot of food, which is why you'd better
you've a well-stocked larder before inviting a hobbit home for the weekend.
Above all, though, hobbits loved mushrooms. Hobbit gourmands had identified
seven hundred and thirty eight varieties of edible mushrooms, and from the
look of his waistline, you could tell that Fatty was familiar with them all.
He'd prepared a sumptuous six course feast based completely around fungus.
He started with a nice little appetizer of mushrooms stuffed with cheese,
followed by a salad of morels, stir fried shitakes, grilled portabellos, and
roasted truffles. He ended it all with mushroom ice cream, but curiously
everyone decided they were full at that point, and pulled their chairs around
the fireplace to talk.
"Well, I'm not sure exactly how to say this . . ." started Frodo when
"Years from now," he began, "when someone writes the story of our
adventures, no one is going to want to dwell on this scene. They'll want to
move ahead into the action, so let's not draw this out. Let's just pretend
that you already know that we know all about the Ring . . . "
"But how?" protested Frodo.
"Do you think we're idiots?" Morrie piped in. "You'd never have a chance
with Pipsqueak's cousin Cassiopiea without magical help. You're my
friend, man, but I've got to say that you've got a face only a mother
could love. A blind mother."
"Anyway," continued Pipsqueak, "let's just pretend that we've already
told you we're going with you, you've protested, and we've insisted.
Sam's nice and all, but let's face it, he's a bit of a stick in the mud.
Adventures will be a lot more fun with Morrie and I along."
"You are a set of scoundrels!" cried Frodo. "Bless you one and all."
They all danced around Frodo (not that there's anything wrong with
that) and Morrie and Pipsqueak started a song they'd apparently
composed for the occasion.
Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
To hobbit lasses one and all.
To Cassiopiea, Mary Jane,
To Beth, and Ruth, and sweet Lorraine.
To the wafflefoot twins with kisses sweet,
To all the gals with those sexy bare furry feet.
Someday we'll return to this corner of the world,
And maybe even Sam will meet a nice hobbit girl.
For now we're off on a quest of sorts,
To meet the women found in exotic ports.
We might find elf-maids with pointy ears,
Or even kiss dwarf girls (after eight or nine beers).
We must be gone, we must be gone.
We leave before the crack of dawn!
"Actually, guys, if it's okay with you, could we wait until about nine
or so?" asked Frodo. "I'm exhausted."
"Well, of course we'll sleep in. 'Nine' just doesn't rhyme. 'We must
be gone, we must be gone, we leave before the crack of nine'? Old Bilbo
would have never let me get by with a song like that," said Morrie. "I've
got it all set up. We'll wake up at nine, Fatty will make up a nice breakfast
of mushroom omelets, Sam will pack all of our bags while we have a nice
leisurely smoke, and we'll be gone by noon. Our route takes us hiking through
the Old Forest."
Fatty suddenly went pale. "Wait a minute! No one told me anything about
the Forest! I can't go in there, I'm afraid of trees!"
"You're afraid of trees? What kind of pansy are you?" demanded Frodo.
"If you can't handle a few trees, you're not going to do us much good on
the road. Maybe you should stay behind and tell Gandalf where to find us."
Fatty seemed relieved that everyone agreed to this plan. After some
final preparations, they all settled down to bed.
After tossing and turning for some time, Frodo finally settled down
into an uneasy sleep. Eventually he fell into a vague dream in which he
seemed to be looking out of a high window over a dark sea of tangled trees.
When he turned away from the window to face the classroom, he noticed he
wasn't wearing any clothes. Just then, the teacher started to pass out
an exam that he hadn't studied for. In a panic, he woke up.
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