It had been a rather rainy spring, and the old Master Shyloc was under the weather. Master Shyloc hadn't gone outside for two weeks, but that didn't bother him much. He had just moved from Michel Delving to a village in the Southfarthing, to a comfy little burrow. The former resident had (for some strange reason) left all his food and wine cellars untouched, so Master Shyloc didn't feel the desire to go outside. Besides, the former resident had left a pile of crossword puzzles behind. So, Master Shyloc was pretty happy to have a good excuse to stay inside and avoid the neighboors! One day though, that happiness came to an end. Master Shyloc had just laid a tasty piece of pie on his plate and was wondering what's “the main export of Budgeford” (consisting of four letters) when he heard a loud knock on his door. He wanted to pretend not being at home, but then he saw sharp eyes peer at him through the front window. He preceeded to the front door as slowly as he could and opened it, hoping that the guest would have gone away. But she wasn't. It was a hobbit lady, waving a long piece of parchment in her hand. ”I am not buying anything...” Master Shyloc started, but the lady interrupted him. ”I am here to collect signatures fer this petition. Petition against them ugly boards!” ”I am sure yer want to sign this, Master...?” ”Master Shyloc, aye. What boards are you talking about?” ”Oh, Master Shyloc that is! Pleased ter meet yer! Me name's Cherry Silkytoes.” ”Yer haven't seen them boards yet? Yer must be livin' like a hermit! Or do you have a bad eyesight?” Before Shyloc could defend himself against these accusations, Cherry took his hand and began to drag him towards the village centre. When they got there, Master Shyloc saw it: a row of large notice boards covered with notes. ”It's an eyesore!” Cherry cried. ”Totally pointless boards spoiling our beautiful village!” ”What are those notes on them?” Shyloc asked. ”It must be that menace from Hobbiton, Ted Sandyman”, Cherry explained. ”He wants us to gather all kinds of nasty stuff for him.” ”Bulbous goo, dirty ears, mossy carapaces, sticky filth, finger bones!” Master Shyloc looked baffled. ”What does he need those for, that Miller's son?” ”Heaven only knows! No matter what, we want these boards out of our village!” ”The village centre will not only look awful, but smell awful too, in time!” ”Imagine all that goo piled up next to these boards... Yuck! This is not a pigsty!” Master Shyloc nodded. ”Well, I guess I will sign this petition then...” ”Oh wonderful! I think I have gathered enough signatures now, after yours is added to it,” Cherry said happily. Then she looked at Shyloc. ”You being so respected and, err, old, could you maybe present this petition ter Sandyman?” Before Master Shyloc could answer, Cherry had vanished and left him with the petition in his hand. ”Oh, why not?” Shyloc thought. ”It has been a while since I have visited the Ivy Bush.” So, Master Shyloc travelled all the way to Hobbiton to present the petition to Ted Sandyman himself. ”A petition? What this time now”, Ted Sandyman hissed in his usual manner. Master Shyloc explained the background to Sandyman as calmly as he could. ”What? Yer honestly think I have put up those stupid boards?” Sandyman said. ”What on earth would I do with all that bulbous goo and carapaces? Put up a restaurant for toads?” ”So... You are not behind this at all?” Master Shyloc asked. ”Of course not, old fool! Now off with yer, I have some real work to do,” Sandyman said and went away. ”A new mystery to solve then,” Shylock muttered to himself. ”That means I need some brandy.” Shyloc discovered brandy in the Ivy Bush. He sat there and listened to the gossip, trying to find clues concerning the boards. But he heard nothing. It was late at night when he started his journey back to Southfarthing. Feeling a bit lazy, he decided to take a little shortcut through the woods. As you know, “shortcut” is another expression for “running into trouble”. Walking in the woods was hard, especially when Shyloc's head was a bit dizzy from brandy. He decided to sit down for a while and rest, and then he fell asleep. Suddenly he woke up to loud screaming and something smashing against his face. He wiped the stuff from his face with his hand and looked. Loose little eyes looked at him from his palm. ”Dear heavens!” Shyloc thought and decided to go easier on the brandy in future. Then, another pile of slime hit his back. Soon he realised that he was standing in the middle of a battlefield. Little creatures were running around him and throwing all kinds of nasty stuff at him. All Master Shyloc could do was to cover his face and try not to fall down. ”What on earth are these unholy foes?” he thought. ”Restless spirits? Goblins?” They were throwing bulbous goo, dirty ears, mossy carapaces, sticky filth, finger bones...” Then Master Shyloc realised it. ”Stop! Stop now! I know who you are! You are the ones behind those boards!” he screamed. The battle stopped in an instant, and Master Shyloc heard whispers. ”Oh my, he ain't a goblin at all! He's an old hobbit!” one voice whispered. ”But his breath stank so bad, like a goblin odour,” another voice said. Master Shylock looked at the attackers more closely... Only to see a gang of tweens! ”What on earth are you doing here?” Master Shylock asked. ”Why are you collecting all that stuff and throw it at innocent folks?” One brave fellow stepped forward. ”We don't want to bother anyone, Master.” ”We are just a group of young hobbits who like to keep our little Shire safe.” ”We decided to start battle training in secret, so one day we might be talented enough to become bounders!” ”Oh,” Master Shyloc said. ”So that's why you are gathering stuff using those ugl... err, task boards?” ”Yes, dear sir. We are getting pretty good at this... Oh, sorry. We thought you were an intruder, a goblin or somet...” ”I hope you won't tell about this to our mothers... That would be the end of us!” a little tween cried. Master Shyloc pondered. ”I will keep your secret... on one condition!” The tweens pricked up their ears when Master Shyloc gave some instructions in a low voice.