The Lord of Aglarond smoothed the sheets of paper on his desk and squinted at them again. He drew the oil-lamp closer - a simple but efficient affair of plain copper; despite the wealth of the Glittering Caves, Dwarves saw no point in wasting good bullion on something that was worked best and most elegantly in a humbler material. He sighed.
Since the return of the King and the addition of Aglarond to the Dwarvish trade routes that ran from Rhovanion to the Blue Mountains and all parts between, traffic between Rohan and the Shire had increased year by year. Among its many benefits was much better and more frequent word from Gimli's friends in the Shire, some more comprehensible than others. He reflected occasionally that it was quite astonishing that Dwarves had gone to and fro through the Shire for centuries (even after the retaking of Erebor!) without learning anything at all about Hobbits. The younger, more adventurous Dwarves were starting to amend this, but even so Gimli was still considered (somewhat disapprovingly, among the more conservative element) the xenological expert among his people.
Of all Gimli's Hobbit correspondents, Pippin's letters were the most work to decipher. Sam Gamgee's hand was laborious but correct, his style courteously terse; Merry's script was as elegant and precise as his language. But Pippin's rapidly moving train of thought, combined with his appalling, schoolboy scribble, made him difficult to understand at the best of times; and when he was labouring under some strong emotion (which was frequently) it became an exercise in cryptography that might daunt the most experienced Dwarf.
Gimli gave up. The paper was different from earlier letters, he noticed. Good, strong stuff; he remembered Merry telling him about it as a new export. He made a mental note to order some for the Glittering Caves, drew his writing tablet to him and began the rough draft of a letter in response.
My dear Merry,
I have received a somewhat mysterious communication from our friend Pippin. Its subject is not entirely clear to me, but I could make out the word "mushrooms" repeated frequently throughout. If you are aware of what our friend's concern might be....