Ponto is right. The normally docile frogs go into some sort of blood rage when you walk outside with an intent to harvest hops. I don't know how they know this, but they do. As a result, I end up fighting a goodly number of them.
I do have to question the wisdom of using this particular brand of hops in your ale recipe. Apparently the secret ingredient is swamp?
Back to Ponto.
I hand over a bushel basket of hops and he gives me 90 coppers. He also gives me a glass of his Toad's Tongue ale, which I don't drink. Last time I got drunk it ended badly. Moreover, I'm not about to drink his filthy frog-flavored swamp water. It's not until I'm back outside that I realize how badly I was just ripped off. A bushel basket worth of of hops is worth a good bit more than the coppers, and that's before you factor in the fighting.
So this isn't going very well. I should probably clear out of town now, but Milo Hornblower has some work for me. Maybe he can redeem this sad, soggy trip.
Milo explains, "That Lobelia Sackville-Baggins has been telling everyone that she doesn't think she should give out presents at her birthday party, that she thinks it more reasonable that she should be receiving them."
This birthday present business is straight from the books: Hobbits give presents to everyone else on their birthday. Now, I would normally challenge the idea that Lobelia would attempt to overthrow this custom. The Sackville-Bagginses were abrasive and rude, but Lobelia was extremely traditionalist. In fact, one of the reasons she clashed so badly with Bilbo was because he was so outlandish.
But really, this is like any other situation where fanboys argue about how characters would behave in situations not covered by the book. Like debating what game console Harry Potter would buy or what the movie Tron would have been like if it had taken place in an Apple. It's not worth squabbling over it because this sort of fanboy wanking makes both sides look bad.
"See, my plan was to teach her a lesson. I've been raising this toad to give to her as a present."
"Toad?" I ask, raising an eyebrow.
Milo points to a scary huge cage he has sitting nearby. The door is open and the cage is empty.
Looking at the cage I reply in deadpan, "I can't wait to find out how I can take part in this horrible plan of yours."
"Yes, well. I've named the toad Lobelia, and the creature is quite as ornery as the original. She slipped loose today. I need you to go out and find her."
"Into the swamp!"
"Now, she's kind of afraid of the other toads, so you might have to clear a few of them out in order to get her to show."
"You're suggesting I won't be able to locate a humongous toad unless I fight some smaller ones? And you think that once the place is littered with bludgeoned toad carcasses she will be more likely to show? And I guess we're ignoring the fact that I was out there a few minutes ago and already fought a bunch of the foul little buggers?"
"Just chase her back into the cage when you find her!" Milo says unhelpfully.