Gandalf Mused

by Meriadoc

Gandalf mused. It was a thing he was used to, musing. He did it a lot, especially when there were no monsters, fire-breathing dragons or weed-smoking hobbits to subdue. He mused on many subjects. Most of these subjects were related to the price of fish (there are a surprising amount of facets to this subject), but occasionally, his mind wandered to more important things. Long ago, in the first age, intellectual dwarves made an sport of musing. They would all sit around, a-musing. The sight of dwarves doing this actually invented the word 'amusing'. Long, long, long ago, even longer ago than the first age (the number runs into minuses and isn't pretty), 'Old Musing Tom', a large and very, very noble eagle, used to sit atop his mountain and do a large amount of musing. People were amazed at his ability to sit in one place and not even move, such was his dedication to the art of musing. Of course, when one particularly daring young thing decided to prod the eagle, he fell off his mountain and hit the ground fairly hard - it turned out he'd been dead for a few hundred years. Anyway, all such ramblings are beside the point. The point is that Gandalf mused and he mused about a hobbit called Bilbo. The hobbit had just scratched off 3 Cherries on his 'Hobbiton Gold' scratchcard and was about to call the prize room.

"Bilbo," said the old man in a croaky voice, which was creaky like an old wooden door that hadn't been oiled in a long time, or had been oiled by someone who couldn't reach the hinges, a hobbit say, like Bilbo, which links me neatly back to the conversation. " I may just be an old man who walks the ages like an indomitable, grey haired fortress, and who smells like cheese on Mondays for no particular reason, but I disagree with calling the prize room."

" Why, oh wise one?" questioned the Hobbit like a child with a curious nature.

" First of all, my dear Bilbo, it costs 3,000 Hobbit dollars a minute to call the line."

"And second of all?"

" Second of all, among the prizes you can win are a make-up set, a roll of toilet paper and a Written Insult."

" So? They're all the rage them, Written Insults."

" Yes, but my point being that this is something that does a lot of ripping. Off. It rips off."

" I see. So what you're saying is, if I ring this number I'll be duped?"

" No, what I'm saying is, if you ring that number you'll be a fool." Gandalf had seen many good men fall this way. A sly scratchcard may look innocent at first, it won't even retort if you poke it and call it funny names, but just you try and scratch it.

" But I don't understand, oh one of supreme intelligece - I won. See? Three cherries. That's more than you get in Mrs. Proudfoot's homemade cherry buns."

" Yes, but it's a scam, Bilbo. You always win."

" Ah...I see."

" Do you really, Bilbo?"

" Like a blind man in the dark."

Gandalf tutted, tore up the scratch card and put it in the fire.

" The One Scratchcard is a powerful tool, Bilbo, and in the wrong hands could be treacherous. Treacherous - now there's a wise sounding word I haven't used in a long time. Now where was I?" Gandalf said, his voice trailing away as he walked off down a corridor. " Ah yes, the price of fish..."

As Bilbo left for a walk in the countryside, the scratchcard glowed in the fire. Words suddenly became visible on it's shiny surface. They said 'Calls May Cost 3,000 Hobbiton Dollars a Minute - Actually, They Probably Will'.