Scaldo had never walked so far in his life. The last time, he recalled, was when he ran short of flour while baking his Yule cakes. Such an emergency forced him to waddle all the way to the miller and back. It still gave him nightmares. (He had his foodstuff delivered right to his hole, of course.)
And what am I doing following a mad dwarf? thought he. Maybe I can call for help before it is too late!
Scaldo lived in the South Farthing in the small village of Bobbing, at its edge sitting his hole. Traffic was sparse in that part; so far he had seen no one on the dirt track. But luck favored him. Ahead appeared a cluster of low hobbit-cottages.
As simple of a mind as he had, he managed to form a plan. He would make a run (waddle) for the cottages. Yet when he looked to the Dwarf, he was not there. Not long was he left wondering because the familiar blue hood popped up above the shrubs by the cottages.
By now, even Scaldo could fathom what the Dwarf was up to. Huffing and sweating, he toddled over.
"Oh muffins... oh muffins... oh muffins..." he panted.
Too late did he reach the first cottage. A trail of piecrusts led from the gaping entry. He stumbled next door; the garden lay desolate. Hoping the inhabitants would not notice too soon, he collapsed at the third's doorstep.
Boot met his flab painfully. "Watch it, Baldo!"
The Dwarf towered over Scaldo, hidden under a mountain of eatables. "Make yerself useful an' carry some of these."
Just having got to his feet, he almost fell back onto his bottom under the load.
"Hey! You there! Stop!"
Scaldo's heart sunk to his hairy feet.
He could not see. He could not move. He could not think. He felt a tug at his collar, and his thick legs moved automatically. If miracles can happen, they did then, for he ran and managed to keep hold of his burdens. He heard feet pounding behind him and shouts. Blindly following the tug, he panted and sweat buckets. Scaldo was sure he was going to die and then be locked up - abruptly he was pulled to the side.
Lying sprawled on his large stomach, Scaldo took the lack of movement with gratitude. Weakly he opened his eyes and lifted his chins. The Dwarf's face appeared over the grass, cheeks stuffed in the likeness of a chipmunk. (Scaldo had dropped all the provisions when he fell.) The Dwarf shoved him roughly back down into the grass, and also ducked. Scaldo heard their pursuers pass by. Now that his panic had subsided, he noticed the ground beneath felt damp and squashy. He wrinkled his nose. And that smell!
A large, horned head appeared before him. "Moo!"
"Eek!" Scaldo curled up into a futile position.
The Dwarf poked him. "Shurrup," he whispered. Apparently, he had managed to swallow.
A moment later, the sound of feet returned in conversation. Scaldo held his breath and tried to stop his flab from quivering.
"I'd know that face anywhere. Even from behind. Twas the Bobbing Chubb." Scaldo recognized that voice as Farmer Brownfoot who delivered chicken eggs and milk to his door each week.
"Scaldo Chubb? I always knew he was no good. Ain't that right?" Another said and panted.
"Uh-huh. So well off and never once invited a soul for tea. No surprise!"
"I'm just surprised that he could even make it out his door," said a third voice.
"I've just come back from town, and I heard there were other thefts this morning."
"Weeell, even if we never find Chubb, he ain't going to be able to show his face around here again," said Farmer Brownfoot cheerily as their voices faded beyond the bend.
Long after they had gone, Scaldo heaved himself up. The Dwarf was already standing, eyeing the cow. For a moment, Scaldo sat there and tried to digest his new position in life. All in one morning his life of comfort had evaporated, like soup left on a warm stove, leaving only unpleasant globs. And standing there, without so much as a regret, was the one who had brought it along: the Dwarf. Then Scaldo remembered the festering spot in which he sat, with no change of clothes. He stood up with as much dignity as possible, but in truth he looked like a dirty, plump chicken. At the Dwarf he looked with what he hoped to be an accusing glare.
"You can't just steal food!" (Theft of food in those parts was a grave accusation.) "Now the whole South Farthing thinks I'm a thief! How can I explain an insane dwarf with a bottomless pit for a stomach? Ohhhhh, strawberry pudding! How can I ever again walk into a decent village?"
The Dwarf only laughed. The cow mooed. Scaldo wondered if this had been the purpose.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.