Stupid Is As Stupid Does by Dreamflower

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Author's Chapter Notes:

March 31: Valinor No holiday destination tops Valinor for adventure and luxury! Lounge on the beach at Alqualonde, hear Valmar's famous bell choir perform every hour on the hour, and relish the opulence of the art and culture of Tirion. The adventuresome will enjoy hiking and exploring the Pelori, the world's tallest mountain range, within a day's drive of Valinor's top tourist destinations. Cruises available from all major Elven cruise lines!

 

 

 

Today's Challenge: "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain." Friedrich Schiller

 

 

 

Write a story or poem or create artwork that illustrates this quotation.


Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Sam and Merry sat in the courtyard of the guesthouse in the Sixth Circle, enjoying the Sun.  Pippin was lying stretched out upon his back with his eyes closed.  Frodo was with the King, who had wished to consult him about some documents he was preparing.

Pippin gave a sigh, took a deep breath, stretched, and rolled over upon his stomach.


Merry and Sam, who were smoking their pipes, exchanged an amused look.  "He's like a cat," said Merry fondly.  "He basks."

Pippin put out a finger, and allowed an ant to crawl up on it.  He watched it crawl across the back of his hand, over his palm, down his thumb and then back into the grass.  "I wonder," he said, "if the S.-B.s ever solved their ant problem at Bag End..."

Sam took his pipe out of his mouth in an offended manner.  "Ants! At Bag End!  There weren't no ant problem there!"

Pippin chuckled and sat up.  "Not when Frodo lived there.  But I am very sure they had such a problem after we left..."

Merry looked at Pippin an arched an eyebrow.  "Ah-ha!  And just what did you do, Pip-my-lad?"

"Oh," he said, putting on his most innocent expression, "I just left them a hole-warming present..."

Sam and Merry both gave him a sharp look of inquiry.

"I thought that they might be bored with the state of perfection in which Bag End was always kept, so I arranged a little diversion for them: a plate of honey and a jar of ants under the bed in Gandalf's guest room.  Oh, and I might have left the window in there just slightly open."

Merry gave a loud guffaw, and even Sam burst out with a bark of surprised laughter.  He shook his head.  "I have to say, Mr. Pippin, it's no more than they deserved."

"I know Lotho provided me with diversion more than once when I was a child.  Did I ever tell you about what Rusty Cotton and I did to him and to Ted Sandyman at the Free Fair in Michel Delving the year I was fifteen?"*

Both of them looked at him in surprise.  "No," Merry said flatly.

"Well, first we managed to cross his braces with Ted Sandyman's without their noticing-- until they stood up and found they were tangled together. But even better, when he was in the privy, we jammed the door so he couldn't get out."  Pippin grinned as he remembered that long ago day.  He looked at Merry.  "We overheard him plotting mischief to Frodo and to you.  We couldn't let that happen."

"I seem to remember another occasion when you and Rusty tried to play a trick on Lotho that did not work out quite the way you hoped."

Pippin turned bright red.  "Oh, don't remind me of that one!"**

Merry looked at Sam.  "You were not the only one who managed to pull Lotho's foot hair, Peregrin Took," Merry said.  "Sam and I managed to deal him quite a blow ourselves once."

Pippin looked at the two of them avidly.  "Do tell!"

"It was about three years after Bilbo left, during one of my Spring visits.  You'd already returned home to Whitwell about a week before...

 

"What is Lotho Pimple doing in Hobbiton?"  Merry asked Frodo angrily.  "I thought the S.-B.s had moved to the Southfarthing!"

"Merry, please. I know he's unpleasant, but I don't care for that particular name for him."

"Very well.  What is Loathsome Lotho doing in Hobbiton?"

"I'd no idea he was here.  Did you see him?"

Merry nodded.  "I saw him coming out of Sandyman's mill."

"That explains it, then," said Frodo.  "Otho has a part-interest in the mill.  He probably sent Lotho up to check on Sandyman and collect his share of the profits.  No need to worry, Merry.  He'll avoid me like the plague."

"He had better.  If he comes around and tries to bother you, this time I will be the one to bloody his nose."

"Merry, that was years ago.  I wish you would forget it."

"Forget the sight of you felling him with one swift blow?  It's one of my very fondest memories."***

"Well, I would simply prefer to avoid him, and I wish that you would as well."  Frodo dismissed the subject.  "Come now, Merry, it's time for tea."

Merry had mostly forgotten about Lotho himself the next day, when he went out to the kitchen garden to fetch some greens for a salad at lunch, and found Sam weeding in a temper, muttering under his breath some rather salty language.

"Sam? Is something wrong?" 

The gardener jumped, startled.  "Mr. Merry?  No, nothing, really."

Merry looked skeptical.  "Sam, I've never seen you angry.  Did I do something to offend you?  Or did Frodo?"

"Snakes and adders, no, Mr. Merry!  It's that Lo-- never mind!" Sam turned red and put his full attention on yanking out a small but tenacious weed from among the carrots.

"Loathsome Lotho?"

"I didn't say that."

"You almost did.  What's he done to put you in a temper?"

Sam sat back. "You have to promise not to say anything to Mr. Frodo."

Merry pursed his lips.  "No?  If Lotho's been up to something underhanded, Frodo has the right to pull him up short.  Frodo's Family Head after all."

"He would and he could too.  But you still have to promise not to tell him."

"I promise."

"You know he's always been one for gawking at the lasses, and not one for hiding what he's thinking when he stares.  He and Sandyman were heading into the Post Office when my sister May was coming out.  He looked, well, he looked down her dress, Mr. Merry, and not just a glance as she told it.  He took himself an eyeful and give her a bold look that made her feel, well,"  Sam stopped speaking for a moment, nearly overcome with anger.  "Anyhow.  You know.  And that weren't the worst of it, because as she hurried off to get away from 'em, she heard 'em laughing at her."  He took a deep breath.  "May told me and Daisy about it, but she told us not to tell the Gaffer or Mr. Frodo.  She said she'd just feel too humiliated for them to know.  And she knows how angry they'd be."

Merry gave a low whistle.  "That's hard, Sam!  Lotho needs a lesson in manners, the cad!  I'm surprised you didn't go smack him on the nose."

"I'd like nothing better.  But you know I can't.  And if I did happen to do it then I'd have to explain why."

"I know.  And it would probably make more trouble for you than it's worth."  While Merry did not care to think about it, Sam was a working hobbit, and Lotho was gentry even if he did not act like it.  Sam would be in a world of trouble if he assaulted Lotho.

Just then Frodo called out the kitchen door: "Merry!  Are you growing the lettuce from seed?"

"I was just talking to Sam for a minute, Frodo!  I'll be right in."  He quickly gathered some lettuce and some rocket from a nearby bed.  "Lotho still needs a lesson.  Let me think about it."

That night as he lay in bed, Merry turned over one plan after another, thinking of any possible flaws. He discarded one after another until, yes, that one would do.  He would tell Sam the next day.  He grinned in the darkness, imagining Lotho's face at the end.  It would work.  Lotho was too stupid not to fall for it.

The next morning he found a few minutes to present his idea to Sam, who went from looking dismayed, to skeptical, to gleeful.  "And you're sure, Mr. Merry that we won't be found out?"

Merry shook his head.  "Lotho's never had any correspondence from me at all.  I'll be careful as careful can be.  The only question is, will May go along with it?"

"She's gone from being embarrassed to being downright furious. I believe that she will think it's no more than he deserves."

"Now, from what I was able to glean from Frodo, these little jaunts of Lotho to Hobbiton to tend to his father's businesses here usually keep him here a couple of weeks.  We'll put the first part into motion tomorrow.  I need a few supplies of course..."

 

 

Lotho was staying at The Ivy Bush.  He had just finished dressing for the day when he heard a tap on his door.  "What is it?" he snapped.

"The Post, Mr. Lotho!" came the voice of the innkeeper.  "There was a letter for you."

Lotho opened the door in surprise.  He rarely got letters when he travelled, although he supposed his father might have sent word of some business he had forgotten when Lotho set out.  But the slight smile on the innkeeper's face as he handed him the envelope surprised Lotho.

As he took it, he realized why.  The envelope was very slightly scented with lavender.  And the seal was a flower embossed on pink wax.  There was no return address on the outside. Intrigued, he opened it.

 

Dear Mr. Lotho,

I was so sad when you moved away from Hobbiton.  For a long time I had tender feelings for you, but I was too young and beneath your station for you to notice.  I was so glad to see that you have returned now to Hobbiton even if only for a little while.  I just wanted you to know that there was at least one person here who missed you.

Your secret admirer

 

 Lotho felt a jolt of shock.  While he often behaved as though he thought the lasses found him irresistible, he sometimes had doubts about their reactions to him, which were not at all the reactions he hoped for. But apparently his charm had worked on someone!  He took a little extra care that morning in brushing his head and his feet, and went out upon his business of the day with a jaunty swagger and a smirk, giving every lass he passed more than his usual leering scrutiny.  Could she be the one?  How could he find out who she was?

He was so busy staring after two buxom lasses who had just passed him that he completely failed to notice Frodo on the other side of the street, as he was coming out of the baker's.  This suited Frodo just fine, but he could not help but notice his cousin's self-satisfied air. 

 

Frodo returned to Bag End where Merry and Sam sat in the kitchen having elevenses.  "Well, Merry, I saw Lotho myself this morning, looking more than usually full of himself, like a cat that's been at the cream!  I do hope that doesn't mean he's been up to any mischief here."

As Frodo put away his purchases, Merry and Sam exchanged a grin. But all Merry said was, "Maybe he is just having a good day."

Frodo sniffed doubtfully, but dismissed the topic.  He preferred not to dwell on Lotho if he could help it.

Merry walked outside when Sam did.  "It looks as though the first part is working.  Is May ready for the next part?"

Sam nodded.  "Her friends was right put out at how he acted to her, and some o' them have got unpleasant attention from him, too!  They think it's no more than he deserves.  But I hope he don't get too much encouragement from it."

"It's only a few friendly smiles," said Merry.  "But they should keep moving.  As long as it is coming from several directions, he won't fix on any one particular lass.  The idea is to keep him confused."

Two days later, Lotho received another anonymous letter. 

Dear Lotho,

I hope you don't think me too bold.  But I can't help taking this chance to let you know how much you stir my heart!  I wish I could let you know who I am, but I am still not of age.

I wish that you still lived in Hobbiton and were the Master of Bag End as you ought to be.  It would be so nice to have a strong and sturdy Master of the Hill, instead of one who is so pale and skinny.  But alas, it's not to be.

Your secret admirer

If the first letter had surprised him, this one gave him an upswell of pride and a feeling of victory.  Here was a lass who appreciated a proper hobbit!  And sheclearly had good sense as well, since she knew that he should have Bag End instead of Frodo!

He was feeling decidedly happy as he set forth for his business that day, still wondering who she might be and how he could find her.

He saw one lass, walking on the arm of an older hobbit, clearly her father.  And as he gazed after her, she looked back and smiled.  His heart gave a lurch.  Could she be the one?  Usually the lasses looked away from him, being properly modest and shy.  But that one's boldness made him giddy.  Surely it had to be her!  But then two more lasses passed him, walking together, and also returned his look with smiles.

It seemed that many of the lasses were smiling at him today!  He began to be completely confused.  Had his time away simply made them able to see him differently?  Made them forget they had previously blushed and tried to avoid his gaze?  Perhaps that was it.  He had long suspected that Frodo's popularity was due to his having come to Hobbiton a stranger, and so was a novelty.  Certainly this seemed to prove it.

His swagger became even more pronounced.

"Tomorrow is Trewsday, Sam.  Frodo and I are going down the Hill to Greenhill for his weekly tea with his Aunt Dora.  I'll see to the last part of it.  Can you slip the last letter into the Post?"

Sam nodded.  "Are you sure it will work?"

Merry looked at Sam.  "It's Lotho, Sam.  We have him hooked; all we need to do is play the line and bring him in.  But we have to do it soon, he'll be leaving in a couple of days."

My dearest Lotho,

I know you will be going away to the Southfarthing soon!  I can't bear the thought of losing my last chance to let you know how I feel!  I am so stifled here in Hobbiton, and my father wishes me to allow the most boring of lads to court me, simply because he's the son of my father's good friend!  But all I can think of is you!  I know it is dreadfully wrong of me, but I wish you would take me away from here!

If you think that it might be possible, I will meet you on Hensday at dusk, beside the Party Tree in the Party Field, and perhaps we can slip away together! 

Your most ardent admirer

 

This latest letter stunned Lotho.  Some young lass wished him to steal her away, take her away even though they did not really know one another, even though there was no chance they'd be allowed to wed unless they put the dessert before the main course.  And he could find out who she was! 

After tea, Frodo, as was his habit, offered to clear up the tea things for his aunt.  He carried the tray from her sitting room to the kitchen.  "I'll be there in a moment to help, Frodo.  I just want to ask Miss Dora something!"

Dora Baggins fixed a suspicious eye on the young Brandybuck.  "What is it you wish to ask me, Meriadoc?"

"I'm planning a surprise party for someone, and I could use your advice, Miss Dora," he said with his most earnest expression.  "I was wondering if I could prevail on you to walk with me tomorrow evening, and we could look over the Party Field?"

She pursed her lips, her suspicions not completely allayed.  But it might be interesting to find out just what he had in mind.  "Very well, Meriadoc, I will do so.  Is Frodo a part of this venture?"

Merry shook his head, and Dora thought perhaps it was as he said.  Perhaps he was planning a surprise party for Frodo.  Knowing how the lad doted on his cousin it would not surprise her.  She nodded at him, and he gave her a cheeky smile, before getting up to help Frodo in the kitchen.

Lotho had finished his business for his father, and had his belongings packed.  He'd load them in his trap and drive down the lane where he could park and see if his admirer was there waiting.  If she was, well then, easy enough to spirit her away with him.  His mother would probably not be happy to see him bring home an unknown bride, but his father would be happy enough.

Merry solicitously escorted Miss Dora across the road, talking of all the parties he'd seen here, then suddenly, he slapped his forehead.  "I'm sorry, Miss Dora!  I seem to have forgotten my list!  My list with the questions I needed to ask you, and my ideas for the party!  I'll just run up to Bag End and fetch it!  I promise I will be right back!"  Without waiting to hear her answer he sprinted off.

Lotho pulled his pony trap up to the verge and peered into the shadow beside the great tree, and felt a sense of triumph!  She was cloaked, but it was clearly a feminine figure that stood there.  He got down from the trap, and made his way quietly across the field, planning what he would say when he finally reached her.  He crept unseen behind her and put his hands over her eyes from behind.  "Oh, my dearest!  I can't wait to see who you ---"

He was interrupted by a screech.  Then she turned around, and in his shock he fell backwards, landing with an  undignified thump.  "Of all the nerve!  Lotho Sackville-Baggins I know you for a Bounder, young fellow!  But to accost a Respectable Hobbitess when you clearly have no idea who she is?  And to speak in that Manner?"

Lotho gaped.  At one-hundred-and-four, Dora Baggins was as formidable as ever!  She was the only hobbit his mother feared this side of the Brandywine (the one on the other side being Menegilda Brandybuck who loathed Lobelia heartily ) and he had no idea what she was doing here instead of his ardent admirer.  He tried in vain to get a word in edgewise as she informed him tartly of all of his shortcomings.  Finally he got to his feet and fled to the trap, and drove off as fast as the pony would go.

On the other side of a nearby hedge, Sam held his sister May as she laughed hysterically into his shoulder, trying not to be heard.  Although he was grinning, he shushed her, and told her to look.

Merry came rushing up to Miss Dora.  "I heard you cry out, Aunt Dora!  Is something wrong?" 

She gave him a Look, one that said more clearly than words that she knew he had been Up To Something, and glanced at his hand, where he carried a roll of paper.  She pursed her lips and shook her head.  But at that point, Frodo himself joined them.

"What has happened, Aunt Dora?" 

"Apparently young Lotho, in addition to Being a Bounder, is also a Masher!  In the shadows he apparently mistook me for some Innocent Young Lass, and Accosted me!  I am afraid I gave him the Sharp Edge of My Tongue!"  She took a deep breath.  "Dear me!  I am Not as Young as I Used to Be!"

Frodo put his arms around her shoulders.  "Come along up to Bag End, Auntie, and have a cup of tea, and afterwards Merry and I shall see you safely home..."

"You should've seen his face, Mr. Pippin," said Sam.  "And May said it was the finest revenge ever, and when she seen Mr. Merry the next day, she gave him a hug."

Merry turned beet red, but smiled. "Well, Sam, she was your sister.  We couldn't allow her to go unavenged after all."

Pippin stared at the two of them with frank adoration.  "That was utterly brilliant!  I'd have given anything to have been in on it!"

Merry chuckled.  "Well, I'd have loved to have seen Loathsome and Sandyman with their braces crossed!  That was bold for such a fry as you were then!"

"Did Frodo ever find out?"

"Did I find out what?"

The three hobbits on the ground jumped.  "Oh we were talking over old times at home is all.  Do you remember the time Lotho scared your Aunt Dora?"

"Of course I do."  He looked Merry dead in the eye.  "And if you think I did not recognise your fine Brandybuck mind at work, you have another think coming."

Merry's jaw dropped as Frodo turned his gaze on  Pippin. "Now what's this I hear about braces?"

 

 

 

 


Chapter End Notes:

Pippin the Protector
 
** A Sight to Remember
 
*** A Place for Gandalf



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