Murder on the Boilermaker Express: The Final Straw

When we last left our story, the girls of Bag End had just discovered the true appearance of their ill-mannered acquaintance. However, his real identity was yet to be discovered. Our heroines will soon embark on perhaps the most dangerous adventure of their lives. Let's read what shall unfold in the tale's dramatic almost-conclusion...

As the girls realized what sort of fellow the self-proclaimed Black Lung must have been (a pirate no less), it dawned up them that this gent was either severely confused about when Halloween occurred (for it was now November), or not quite right in the head. Anna managed to collect her senses and regain a bit cordality.

"Hello there, Mr. Black Lung, sir. We-"

"No," interrupted the scruffy-looking nerf-herder. "Just Black Lung, if you please."

"Alright, Black Lung," continued Anna. "We just stopped by to offer you these chocolate chip cookies. We thought you might be in need of a snack or something."

"Oh, I see, tryin' to buy me off, aren' we , now. Well, why don' we just dispense with the plaisentries and ge' righ' down to't. Yuh've got something tha's hitchin' your skirts. What migh' that be, now?"

"Well, you see," said Bonnie, "We've noticed that you have a pan flute you've been practicing on. And, by the way, it does sound quite nice; but, our roommate is dreadfully allergic to the toxic sound waves emitted by the flute, Black Lung. And, there are laws against that sort of thing. We've been wondering if there's any way you might stop practicing here because it's so dangerous. All our water lilies have died slow and painful deaths, owing, no doubt, to the flute."

Throughout her speech, Bonnie noticed this Black Lung didn't flinch. "Obviously not a very considerate pirate, is he, now," she mused.

Anger reared its ugly head as Black Lung stepped forward across the threshold. He put his face right up to Bonnie's, and the noxious aroma of (you guessed it) methyl bromide escaped from his putrid-looking mouth.

"Beggin' your pardon, miss," shouted the pushy Black Lung, "but I don' think I need your permission to be playin' my pan flute! And I won't be askin' for't. Tail your roommate she'll 'ave to move out if she wants to get away from the flute, or from me. Now get out of here, and hang the cookies!"

He shuffled back over the threshold and slammed the door so hard, the leaves on nearby trees rustled uneasily in the dusky silence.

"I guess this will be a long year," said Anna.

So the girls fought back through the garden of ill-tempered plants that lay between them and their doorstep. But, when Caroline learned the news about a bad-tempered neighbor named Black Lung, she decided to launch a peaceful counter-attack of her own.

To be continued...

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