The morality is strong in this one.
Last night, Nannie ran a Tales of the Shire night in Bag End. I figured I would write a short story to recite there, but I very much delayed writing it due to, well, sheer laziness. So the day before the event, I didn’t really have a clue what kind of story I wanted to tell, neither what it would be about.
Happily, we had our usual hobbit inn night at the Green Dragon the day before, where Nannie introduced the event, not least by asking us if we remembered the favourite hobbit tales of old. Like the ones about “Sammy the Slug”. Earlier in the night, we’d also had a lot of nonsensical discussion about walking trees and turnips. So naturally, when I hadn’t even started on the tale a few hours before the event, I took what I had from the night before and ran with it…
I wanted to write this as a fairy tale for children, like the stories hobbit parents would tell to their little rascals before nap time. Of course, I had to add my own twists to it. So the tale ended up the way that my somewhat unsavoury uncle would have told it: Starting out pretty much as a regular, wholesome children’s tale, but then taking a life of its own.
Here we go…
Sammy the Slug and the Walking Turnips
One day, Sammy the Slug woke up with a growling belly. Never had he been this hungry before. Not even the day when his brother Slimy had run off to Bree with all the lettuce.
‘This won’t do’, said Sammy as he slithered out of bed. ‘But I know what to do, I’ll visit my good friend Fred the Farmer. The turnip harvest is about to begin, and I am sure he’ll give a neep or two to his favourite slug.’
So Sammy wriggled merrily towards the farm, singing a sluggy song. He moved so fast, he only managed to finish the song thirty times before he crawled into the turnip field.
Once inside, though, he was slugstruck by the sight that met him. The turnips were moving! They seemed to be running around the field. Some even bounced high into the air!
He blinked once, twice, three times, but his slug eyes hadn’t deceived him. The turnips were still moving!
Up ahead he saw Fred the Farmer, so Sammy slimed his way up to his friend and said, ‘Ho Fred, what is this all about? Your turnips are marching around the field!’
Fred sighed and shook his head. ‘It is not the neeps, Sammy. It is those infernal shrews. They got into the field this morning, and now they’re running away with my entire harvest’
Sammy finally noticed the shrews beneath the turnips. They skitted and slipped around the field, turnips on their backs, sometimes tossing a neep to a nearby shrew.
‘But… but…’, said Sammy, ‘This means I’ll go hungry!’ The farmer patted Sammy on his back, carefully as not to squish the little slug. ‘Sorry about that, Sammy. I know how much you like to bite into a fresh neep.’
Sammy said some nasty slug curse words then, ones which I will not utter here. But remember, he was really hungry, so he had good cause…
‘I’ll have to sort out those shrews’, Sammy finally said. So he visited his friends, asking them for help. However, none were willing to help Sammy with the shrews. Henry the Horse was busy eating his oats. Kitty the Cat was lapping up a bowl of fresh milk. Even Diggy the Dog was too busy, gnawing on a juicy marrow bone. It was just no, no, no, all around.
Finally, Sammy sat down on his slug behind and pondered hard. ‘What a right rotten bunch my friends are. But I know someone who would be able to chase off the shrews. That mean old snake by the Brockenborings mill. But I’m not sure I dare go see him. He hasn’t liked me ever since the time I slimed down his favourite sun napping rock.’
But Sammy was a clever slug. He dressed up like a snake himself, but not just any snake. He looked just like a beautiful lady snake! Then he went to Brockenborings, where the mean old snake was curled up near the mill again.
Sammy snaked up to the mill, then wailed and hissed loudly. ‘Oh, the snakemanity. The shrewsssss are on the loosssse! If only there was a brave, strong snake in the Sssshire who could chasssse them away.’
The mill snake sat up straight. Now here was a fair snake maiden in distress, one that he could impress. ‘Ha, just point the way, misssss, and I’ll eat the lot of them’, he said.
Sammy pointed towards Fred the Farmer’s field. ‘There they are, but oh be careful. They look like a sssshrewd lot.’
The mean old snake flexed his snake muscles. ‘Don’t worry, missssss. I eat shrews for breakfasssst.’
And so the mean old snake did…
When he returned, he was ready to be fawned upon by that beautiful young snake maiden. She was nowhere to be seen. But his napping rock was slimy again. The hissing sounds he made over this were so loud, the local hobbits wondered whether there was a storm brewing.
Sammy didn’t hear the hissing, though. He was too busy setting his slimy teeth into a fresh neep that Fred the Farmer had given him.
And he didn’t share with his friends. Neither Henry the Horse, Kitty the Cat, nor Diggy the Dog. After all, had they helped him when he was hungry? No, those selfish rotters had kept all their food themselves.
And so, once Sammy had devoured the neep, his friends saw the errors of their ways. ‘We’re so sorry, Sammy, you sure showed us’, they all said. ‘Friends need to stick together.’ And so they were all best friends again, forever after.