After my adventures at The Collossus, I returned to the camp at Dwaling. There I met a hobbit called Hob Hillbrow who was most agitated:
“Seolferwulf, I beg your pardon, but I haven’t any other to turn to in these dark times. Please hear me out. Dwaling has never been a rich town, but we have always gotten by on our own. Many of the best glassblowers in the Shire were found in these holes. My dad before me was a glassblower, best in the North and Eastfarthings, and I learned the trade from him.
Recently, things turned for the worse for our little town. What with all the wild creatures about, folk are plain afraid of the north Bounds nowadays. Most of the folk have moved away and sold off their property after business stopped. A hobbit out of the Westfarthing sent letters and contracts up this way purchasing holes and land until he bought up almost the whole town…that’s when all the trouble began.
I used to get my tools for glassblowing repaired by a dear old friend who lived in Dwaling, but he moved away not a week ago. Before he left he swore he would finish fixing them up. If you would, head into Dwaling and see if he left them on his stoop. His hole was on the north side of town, the tools should be in a satchel or bag. I would be deeply in your debt”.
Off I went on my task, which turned out to be not as straightforward as I might have wished. There was an extraordinary number of ruffians about, all seemingly very aggresive. I don’t mind telling you, I had to adminster a few short, sharp lessons in manners to these men. Anyway, I eventually found the satchel of glassblowing tools on the stoop of a hobbit-hole on the north side of Dwaling and returned them to Hob Hillbrow.
“Now, this hobbit I was telling you about before, he let Big Men buy up all the land…right here in the Shire! I have talked to Ronald Dwale about sending a letter to old Will Whitfoot, the mayor, but I don’t know what he can do against a sound contract like the one sent to my door.
One of my dear friends, Pearlina Gamgee, is away in the Westfarthing looking for a snug hole to start over in, and I told her that I would look after her home while she was away. Those new Men in town have a foul look about them, and I don’t much trust them, even if they claim to be here to “help”.
If you could, go down and check on Pearlina Gamgee’s residence just east of here in Dwaling. You look like you could hold your own if any of those ruffians gave you any trouble”.
I found the house without too much trouble but, as I did so, I was attacked by a number of men. I like to think that I fought bravely but the truth is that, after a few good whacks, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour. Yes, dear reader, I ran. But I haven’t forgotten, oh no; next time I will be well prepared.
Hob Hillbrow was outraged by the treatment meted out to me.
“Never in all my days have I heard of decent folk getting attacked in the Shire. Even if this is the Northfarthing, folk should still be decent and civil, though I wouldn’t put such treachery past these Big Men.
I’ve asked Ronald Dwale to draft a formal letter of complaint to the leader of these Men, Will Tuffin. He is always in and out of the big hole down in Dwaling centre. I would like you to get the letter from Dwale and take it to Will Tuffin straightaway. Just go down to the big hole down yonder and ring the bell until Will comes out. Make sure you are careful, I don’t trust these Big Folk.
Take care that you don’t let them bully you this time”.
Well, I tried to deliver the letter but the leader of the men simply wasn’t interested and sent me away with a flea in my ear! Right, I’ve had enough of this nonsense, time to get busy and show them what a fully trained hobbit warden is capable of.
This time I didn’t bother to knock but used a spare key from Hob Hillbrow. This allowed me to gain an element of surprise over Will Tuffin. He still didn’t seem to be impressed – more fool him.
“Back again with your letter? Looks like I will have to add trespassing to your list of offences. There are new rules here in Dwaling. My lads here will make sure you don’t cause any more trouble. Get ‘im lads!”
Smack, stabitty-stab, shield bash – what a bunch of amateurs, hardly worth my trouble.
Will Tuffin says, “I’ll deal with you myself!”
A couple of sharp pokes to the ribs with my spear had him wailing, “Now you’ve done it! We will see what the Chief has to say about this!”
The so called Dwaling Chief appeared from another room and said “You there; come deal with these swine!” Sigh, another rabble to put to flight. At least the Chief had a bit more guts about him.
“Stand and fight! Sharkû does not accept failure.”
But his men ran crying “I’ll not stick around to see what they’ll do to us!”
“Run while you can!”
“You’ll not get me!”
So the Chief stood alone and, credit to him, fell to his fate with some honour. But fall he did.
I returned to the camp, where Hob made me welcome and gave me a suitable reward.
It was only when I was writing up this diary entry that I realised that in all the excitement, I had neglected to make any drawings. I’m so sorry, dear readers, but this time you will have to take my word for that I defeated the ruffians at Dwaling.