On Hizzoner’s Secret Service (Part the First)



On Hizzoner’s Secret Service (Part the First)

 

“I want EVERYBODY to settle down!”  shouted Second Shirriff Bunce to the crowd of hobbits that had gathered outside the Town Hole in Michel Delving.  “Stop talking when I’m shouting!!  Now, that’s better.  You lot, you’ve been bringing me complaints for months about this, can’t you even let up for Yule?”

“Th’ fact that it’s turning winter,” Hugo Broadbelt shouted in turn, “an’ we’re all standin’ out here in th’ cold should tell you th’ seriousness of this matter!”  Several voices chorused agreement.

“And consider the facts of the matter, Bodo,” Goldenod Fallohide called out as he stepped to the fore, waving a list in his hand.  “These charges we bring to the Mayor’s Office regarding these Big Folk Outsiders are as serious a roster as ever was:  Trespassing!  Disturbing the Peace!  Willful Disruption of Produce Distribution! Willful Destruction of Shire and Personal Property! And lastly, Rampant Hooliganism!  This has got to be addressed by the Mayoralty, and not swept under the rug - again!!”  The crowd murmured at each charge, rising to a fit of umbrage at the last.

“Fine, then!!” Bunce almost roared.  “Then let there be a formal inquest – right now! – to settle this once and for all.  You, Goldy, and you, Hugo, because I know both of you are on this Committee, stand up here with me.  I shall judge the matter properly, and as Second Shirriff, my word shall be final – don’t argue the point, Hugo, it’s all in the Rules, and don’t you deny it!  You, Wistan, as you’re the Notary for the Town Hole, you make a record of these proceedings.”

What followed was a swift setup of a court, with Bodo Bunce presiding as Magistrate and Wistan Whitfoot as Court Reporter.  Messrs. Fallohide and Broadbelt, acting on behalf of the Westfarthing Citizens’ Action Committee, stood as the plaintiffs.  Peasebottom Tunnely was asked to represent the Shire-authority  but recused herself owning to how she was also on the Committee and had conflicting interests.  Charliman Proudfoot, as Postmaster and head of the Shire-post, stood up to take the position.

“Order, if you will,” Bunce called out.  “In the matter of The Office of the Mayoralty versus Westfarthing Citizens’ Action Committee, et. al., We shall hear first from the plaintiffs.  Master Fallohide, you have outlined these charges in that complaint order, and I’ll see them, if you will.”  Goldenod handed Bunce the letter, which was done properly in red ink and signed as a petition to the Authority.

“Shirriff Bunce,” Goldy stated now in a formal tone, “this petition shall act as a class-action complaint and demand on the part of the Shire-Authority, to address the claims and provide for restitution as required.  You will not fail to notice that the petition has already been notarized by Master Whitfoot, an officer of this court,” he ended smugly.

“Yes, yes, all is in order, and we all know Wisty’s stamp and mark!”  Bunce said irritably.  “All the same, I look on this as a highly irregular complaint – especially considering this goes back over almost a year?  And you’re rehashing old complaints and shoveling them up like compost!”

“We wouldn’t have to,” Hugo Broadbelt cried, “if’n th’ Mayor’s Office had seen fit to address th’ problems as they happened, an’ not conceal them because of “Official Shire Business” an’ other such poppycock!”

“That also is addressed in the formal complaint, Bodo,” Goldy stated.  “The fact that all previous complaints have been pushed under the rug and hoped to be forgot.  The complaint clearly outlines how often these hooligans from the Elf-country have crossed the Shire, riding full-size horses, setting up camp where they please – including lumber groves worked by honest hobbits, mind you – running off game and frightening livestock!  The list is long, but not complete, and that’s why we are bringing this on behalf of the Committee, formal and proper, as in the Rules you quote so freely!”  Goldy paused for breath and Charlie Proudfoot jumped in.

“Shirriff Bunce,” he began, “I am of course familiar with the particulars that the Committee brings up, especially with references to Official Shire Business.  My office has been appraised of much correspondence between Shire-authorities and the parties the plaintiffs mention; though I do not hold with all the details, and I would do a disservice if I pretended otherwise.  But, there is one member of the Shire-authority present who we could call to testify and clear all this matter up quick as lightning.  With your permission, I shall call him forth.”  And with a whispered word to another hobbit who dashed inside the Town Hole, after a minute another hobbit appeared, a drawn and tired face beneath a broadbrim leather hat with a feather.

“And who might this be?”  Hugo snorted.  And it was Bunce now with a smug look, as Charlie Proudfoot said:

“I call as witness, Deputy-Shirriff Lancogard North-took of the Northfarthing Watch!”

~ Part the Second...