Funny Sherlock Holmes Lord of the Rings parody
The Case of the Bashful Balrog
By Mercedes Dannenberg
A new and terrifying Sherlock Holmes/ Lord of the Rings Mystery
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A singular mystery from the unpublished adventures of Mr Sherlock Holmes after his retirement to the Shire, as recorded by his assistant, Mr Bingo Bracegirdle, the well-known antiquarian.

By Mr Bingo Bracegirdle

As my account of the singular adventure that follows is largely concerned with my friend, the distinguished consulting detective, Mr Sherlock Holmes, and his involvement in the affairs of Hobbits, he has prevailed upon me to give some explanation of how we became acquainted for the benefit of those readers who are unfamiliar with either hobbits or his distinguished career. In order to do so, I am compelled to touch upon the history of the Shire and the character of my race. Interested readers will find further information in the Blue Book of Westmarch, extracts of which have been published under the title of The Doom of Sour Ron, as well as in the popular zoetrope entertainment The Lord of the Rings, produced by the famous hobbit historian, Hob Jackson. Many, however, may wish to know more of hobbits, while others may not possess the books or have seen the zoetrope entertainment. For such readers a few notes about the more important points which may assist them to a fuller comprehension of what follows, are here briefly set down.

Concerning Hobbits

Hobbits are a gay and gregarious people, more numerous today than we were formerly, for we love boisterous entertainments, good food, strong ale, and amorous contests: a verdant valley, an upthrust bottom and a well ploughed furrow are our favourite haunts. We do not and never did understand or share the prudishness of Men in matters of love, though we admire the tools they employ in their pursuit of it. It is said that we were once shy of the ‘Big Folk’ as we call them, and avoided them with dismay, but those days are long past and it is becoming increasingly hard to find any hobbits who have not had some intercourse with Men.

We are a nimble and inquisitive people with a sharp eye for a pretty face or a comely body, the female of the species no less so than the male, for it has long been a custom among us to place our young lads in the capable hands of an experienced hobbit-maid to acquire that skill and refinement without which no gentlehobbit’s education is complete. Hobbits possessed from the first the Art of Venus and this art has been developed until to Men it may seem magical. But Hobbits have never, in fact, studied magic of any kind, and our amorousness is due solely to our descent from the common Coney, which long practice and professional skill, and a naturally affectionate nature, have rendered inimitable by bigger and clumsier races.

For we are a little people, smaller than Men, though slimmer in form, and larger in our private parts than our stature would suggest. Our height is variable, ranging between three and five feet, though few among us do not now attain four feet; for historians tell us we have increased in stature and in ancient times were much shorter. According to the Blue Book of Westmarch written by my ancestor, Bilbo Baggins, Bob Smallcock was only two feet nine and unable to ride anything larger than a squirrel.

We like to dress in bright colours, being notably fond of yellow and blue; but seldom go barefoot any longer, since our feet have grown smaller and are no longer clad in the thick, curling hair that once set us apart from other races. Our faces are as a rule beautiful, rather than rustic, long, sensitive, bright-eyed, with lips made for kissing, and wide mouths apt to laughter, eating and drinking. And kiss we do, often and heartily, being fond of amative contests at all times, and of multiple partners (when we can get them). We are a hospitable folk and delight in parties and in intimate caresses, which we give away freely and eagerly accept. It is plain that Elves are relatives of ours, far nearer than Men, or the hated Orcs.

Hobbits have never been warlike, though we have often been obliged to fight to maintain ourselves in a hard world; but in my time the Shire was a well-ordered land, rich and kindly, with many farms, woods, vineyards and villages. Nonetheless, we are a doughty folk, difficult to daunt or kill, and our women-folk can survive great hardship, rough handling, and even torture, in ways that astonish Men, as my record of our adventure will show. We are longer-lived than Men, often reaching the age of ninety-nine or more, and our young enjoy a long and care-free childhood until they enter their 'tweens' — as we call the irresponsible years between sixteen and coming of age, at eight and twenty.

Of old we spoke the language of Elves, which is the language of Love, and disliked the arrogance, cruelty and coldness of Men. But what exactly our relationship to the other races of Middle-Earth is, can no longer be discovered. The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in the Elder Days that are now lost or forgotten. Only the few, reclusive Elves who still dwell in Middle-Earth preserve any records of that vanished time, and they no longer have any dealings with either Hobbits or Men. Those days, the Fourth Age of Middle-Earth, are now long past, and the shape of all lands has been changed many times, and hobbits have spread far and wide across the earth.

In my time the Shire — which is our own name for that region of Middle-Earth in which we hobbits dwell — was divided into four quarters: Northshire, Southshire, Westshire and Eastshire; and these again into twelve Farthings, many of which still bear their old Elvish names; such as Laurelión and Rivendale. The High King who once sat in his great castle in Tirith Minor, away down south in Old Gondor, is but a memory to us. There has been no King in the Shire for over three hundred years since Eldäkár was killed in the Twenty-Years-War. For the most part we manage our own affairs through the Shiremoot which is presided over by the Margrave, who is elected every seven years during Forelithe. Under him are the Thanes of the forty-eight Farthings and they, in turn, appoint individual Sherriffs to govern the towns and settlements under their jurisdiction. Men, for the most part, mingle freely and peaceably with hobbits, though there are fewer now than there have ever been in the Shire. Most have sailed away to the new lands that arose off the coasts of old Gondor in my great grandfather’s time, and it is from one of the great cities of Men in the largest of these islands, that Holmes came to us, many years ago.

Concerning Mr Sherlock Holmes

Our meeting arose out of one of those commonplaces that are so often the cause of momentous events. I had gone to Bywater, a small market-town a short pony ride from my home in Hobbiton to collect a rare folio in connection with my researches into ancient Elvish only to be told that the book had been purchased a half hour before by another collector. I was mortified not so much by the loss of the book but by the confounded vulgarity of the scoundrel who had had the impudence to pay five times the asking price the bookseller had demanded from me! I need hardly add that the author of my loss was none other than Mr Sherlock Holmes.
“By Jove!” I cried; “if he has that much money to throw around it will give me the greatest pleasure to relieve him of it!”

I was by no means a wealthy hobbit, and my collection of valuable antiquities was a drain on my modest competence, so I eagerly sought out the mysterious collector in the hope that he might be persuaded to purchase some of the less important items at a greatly inflated price. I quickly discovered that Mr Sherlock Holmes was not the gullible spendthrift I had taken him for when he explained that it was the demands of his singular profession that had prompted him to purchase the book I coveted, rather than any great love for ancient Elvish. Unknown to me at the time he was then engaged in unravelling the mystery of the missing crown of Old Gondor and required the book to translate some manuscripts which had come into his possession in connection with the case.

Of greater moment was his complaint that he was unable to prosecute his researches owing to the grave misgivings of his Landlady over the chemical experiments that had wrecked one of her rooms on the previous day. As I was then a bachelor with a large burrow above the hill in Hobbiton, I prevailed upon him to share my accommodation, and so our long and remarkable friendship was born. Holmes gave it out that he had retired to the Shire to escape the smoke and chills of his native city, but I soon learned that it was the scope to exercise his remarkable talents in new, and unexpected ways, that had drawn him to the Shire.
I had never lived with a man before and had some difficulty in adjusting to the habits and conceits of my remarkable companion, not least his most perplexing aversion to the fairer sex which forms such a significant part of the adventure which I have recounted on the following pages. It was not so much that he disliked women, on the contrary, he was the embodiment of charm and refinement in their presence and ever eager to do them a courtesy. It was rather the overt display of any affection, and in particular, amorous affection, that aroused his irritation and embarrassment, and gave one the distinct impression that his emotions were almost entirely repressed. It was only when Miss Beaverburrow came to do for us that he thawed a little, but even then he would take himself off for a walk, or retire to his rooms, whenever either of us attempted to induce him to share in our amorous contests.

As the months and years went by and he involved me more deeply in his cases, my curiosity as to his aims and aspirations deepened and increased. His very person and appearance aroused no little attention and comment in the district. In height he was some eighteen inches taller than me, perhaps a little over six feet, and so excessively lean that Miss Beaverburrow took extraordinary pains to tempt his wayward appetite with the most exotic delicacies the Shire could produce. His eyes were sharp and piercing, save when he was deep in one of his bouts of self-indulgence resulting from his regrettable weakness for the miruvor bottle — a powerful stimulant first derived from the narcotic berries of the Mallorn tree by the Elves; a drug to which he was at that time hopelessly addicted. His nose was thin and aquiline, and his chin had the prominence and squareness which mark characters of determination and self-will.

His hands were perhaps his most distinctive feature, and his long, artistic fingers possessed an extraordinary delicacy of touch that I had many occasions to observe when I watched him play the violin, or manipulate his scientific instruments. In contradiction to his race, Holmes was invariably an early riser which endeared him to me, for we hobbits like to be up with the sun and early to bed. Nothing could exceed Holmes’ energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in our parlour, hardly uttering a word or taking a bite to eat. It was on the first of these occasions, some six months after he moved in with me, that Miss Beaverburrow suspected he was addicted to miruvor, but I had not the courage to confront him about it until many years later, as my readers will discover in the following narrative. His knowledge was prodigious, but singularly variable, inasmuch as he had no interest in anything which was not immediately useful to him in his work. It was our housekeeper who first alerted me to this remarkable fact when I found her compiling a list of Holmes’ intellectual accomplishments. I could not help smiling at the document when she had completed it. It ran this way:

1. Knowledge of practical gardening - nil
2. Knowledge of the art of love - practically nil
3. Knowledge of brewing - limited
4. Knowledge of women - practically nil
5. Knowledge of botany - variable
6. Knowledge of poisons - profound
7. Knowledge of geology - considerable
8. Knowledge of music - variable. Plays the violin with great feeling but indifferent technique.
9. Knowledge of anatomy - accurate
10. Knowledge of sensational literature - immense.
11. Knowledge of archaeology - considerable
12. Knowledge of ancient races - variable. Well up on Elves; knows nothing about dwarves.

Such then, is the character and person of the man whom I have the honour to call my friend; the distinguished detective, the implacable foe of criminals, and the finest mind in Middle-Earth.


© 2003 Story by Mercedes Dannenberg. Page design utterpants.co.uk

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The Case of the Bashful Balrog

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