Some days it just doesn’t pay to go outside.
I shook out the cobwebs of my beer-induced haze. Gunderic Grubb had been pushing pints of Old Withywindle in front of me all afternoon. “Best beer in the Eastfarthing,” he’d claimed, “or at least it used to be.” He’d offer no further explanation but that was good because I really didn’t care, the beer was cold and properly scrambled my worries. But anyway, where was I? Oh, right – going outside.
I stumbled out of The Golden Perch and into the bright sunlight. Deciding to head towards Bree (no other idea had occurred to me), I leaned in the direction of the Brandywine Bridge and moved my feet just enough to keep from falling on my face. Unfortunately before I got to the bridge, Postman Smallburrow hailed me over.
I always felt curious about the Smallburrow family. I mean, is having small burrows good or bad? Does it mean they live in small tunnels? Is that preferred to large tunnels? I digress.
Postman Smallburrow asked me if I could do him a favor and run a small bag of mail over to Postman Bolger in Budgeford. He explained, “Simple task, no problems.”
With no better plans laid out before me this day, I agreed to the task and grabbed the mailbag from the table. “Look out for nosy Hobbits and don’t get the mail wet!”, he yelled as I ran off. Not quite sure how to tell nosy Hobbits from your typical hungry Hobbit, I figured it would be wise to just avoid the path completely. I ran down along beside The Water on my way to Budgeford, careful to keep the dry mail from meeting the wet water of The Water. The Water, now there was a creative name for a river.
The run was far from safe as I was accosted by several creatures ranging from the shrews with biting teeth and nasty wolves to the deadly wing-flaps of the harvest-flies. I spotted the crossing to Budgeford and ran over the river holding the mailbag up high. Just before reaching the other side, I slipped and went under. The beer no longer had any hold on my thinking powers, I was drenched and cold and there was a fish in my quiver. Well, maybe the mail stayed dry?
Finding Postman Bolger, he eyed me up and reached for the soggy mailbag. He opened it and poured out the water, followed by blobs of paper in unrecognizable shapes. All he did was point in the direction of Stock and tap his feet. Hoping the run back would dry my clothes, I sprinted back to see Smallburrow.
Postman Smallburrow, although not happy about it, gave me another bag of mail to deliver. “This time be careful! Folks are depending on us to ask random strangers that run by if they would be willing to deliver the mail. It’s a good system and it works, most of the time.”
I knew the trail well and made good progress without getting attacked. That is, until I got my foot stuck in a small burrow. At least I think it was a burrow. You see, I could spin around all I wanted but could not make progress in any direction. I knew there was a flock of harvest-flies nearby as I could hear them buzzing. Is flock the right term? Ah, who really cares. The point is, having my foot stuck in a hole and being unable to mount any kind of defense, the silly bugs gave me a beat-down I won’t soon forget.
Quickly forgetting about some recent tragic event, I found myself once again with an almost empty mug of Old Withywindle in front of me. Oh, I remember! I wonder what happened to the second bag of mail. I suppose the flies used it to make a nest or something for their queen or king or super-fly.
“Another round, Grubb!”