- STAFF PICKS
- GIFTS + GIFT CARDS
- SELL BOOKS
- FIND A STORE
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
More copies of this ISBN
This title in other editions
Other titles in the Lord of the Rings series:
The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #01)by J. R. R. Tolkien
Out of Print
AN UNEXPECTED PARTY
IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet
hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry,
bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was
a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green,
with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened
on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel
without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted,
provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and
coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on,
going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The
Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it—and many
little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on
another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms,
cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms
devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same
floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the
left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have
windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows
beyond, sloping down to the river.
This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was
Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for
time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not
only because most of them were rich, but also because they never had
any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a
Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.
This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself
doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the
neighbours' respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he
gained anything in the end.
The mother of our particular hobbit—what is a hobbit? I
suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have
become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or
were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the
bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic
about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to
disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me
come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can
hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they
dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes,
because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown
hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever
brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs
(especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can
get it). Now you know enough to go on with. As I was saying, the
mother of this hobbit—of Bilbo Baggins, that is—was the famous
Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old
Took, head of the hobbits who lived across The Water, the small river
that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in other
families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a
fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was
still something not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a
while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. They
discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact
remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses,
though they were undoubtedly richer.
Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she
became Mrs. Bungo Baggins. Bungo, that was Bilbo's father, built the
most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that
was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or across The
Water, and there they remained to the end of their days. Still it is
probable that Bilbo, her only son, although he looked and behaved
exactly like a second edition of his solid and comfortable father,
got something a bit queer in his make-up from the Took side,
something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never
arrived, until Bilbo Baggins was grown up, being about fifty years
old or so, and living in the beautiful hobbit-hole built by his
father, which I have just described for you, until he had in fact
apparently settled down immovably.
By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of
the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits
were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at
his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that
reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed)—Gandalf came
by. Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard
about him, and I have only heard very little of all there is to hear,
you would be prepared for any sort of remarkable tale. Tales and
adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the
most extraordinary fashion. He had not been down that way under The
Hill for ages and ages, not since his friend the Old Took died, in
fact, and the hobbits had almost forgotten what he looked like. He
had been away over The Hill and across The Water on businesses of his
own since they were all small hobbit-boys and hobbit-girls.
All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old
man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak,
a silver scarf over which his long white beard hung down below his
waist, and immense black boots.
"Good Morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was
shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from
under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his
"What do you mean?" he said. "Do you wish me a good morning,
or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that
you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo. "And a very fine morning
for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain. If you have a
pipe about you, sit down and have a fill of mine! There's no hurry,
we have all the day before us!" Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his
door, crossed his legs, and blew out a beautiful grey ring of smoke
that sailed up into the air without breaking and floated away over
"Very pretty!" said Gandalf. "But I have no time to blow
smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share in an
adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find
"I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk
and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable
things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think what anybody sees in
them," said our Mr. Baggins, and stuck one thumb behind his braces,
and blew out another even bigger smoke-ring. Then he took out his
morning letters, and began to read, pretending to take no more notice
of the old man. He had decided that he was not quite his sort, and
wanted him to go away. But the old man did not move. He stood leaning
on his stick and gazing at the hobbit without saying anything, till
Bilbo got quite uncomfortable and even a little cross.
"Good morning!" he said at last. "We don't want any
adventures here, thank you! You might try over The Hill or across The
Water." By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
"What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!" said
Gandalf. "Now you mean that you want to get rid of me, and that it
won't be good till I move off."
"Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, I don't
think I know your name?"
"Yes, yes, my dear sir—and I do know your name, Mr. Bilbo
Baggins. And you do know my name, though you don't remember that I
belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think that I
should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took's son, as
if I was selling buttons at the door!"
"Gandalf, Gandalf! Good gracious me! Not the wandering wizard
that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs that fastened
themselves and never came undone till ordered? Not the fellow who
used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and
goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected
luck of widows' sons? Not the man that used to make such particularly
excellent fireworks! I remember those! Old Took used to have them on
Midsummer's Eve. Splendid! They used to go up like great lilies and
snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all
evening!" You will notice already that Mr. Baggins was not quite so
prosy as he liked to believe, also that he was very fond of
flowers. "Dear me!" he went on. "Not the Gandalf who was responsible
for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad
adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves—or sailing
in ships, sailing to other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite
inter—I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon
a time. I beg your pardon, but I had no idea you were still in
"Where else should I be?" said the wizard. "All the same I am
pleased to find you remember something about me. You seem to remember
my fireworks kindly, at any rate, and that is not without hope.
Indeed for your old grandfather Took's sake, and for the sake of poor
Belladonna, I will give you what you asked for."
"I beg your pardon, I haven't asked for anything!"
"Yes, you have! Twice now. My pardon. I give it you. In fact
I will go so far as to send you on this adventure. Very amusing for
me, very good for you—and profitable too, very likely, if you ever
get over it."
"Sorry! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today.
Good morning! But please come to tea—any time you like! Why not
tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good bye!" With that the hobbit turned and
scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he
dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards.
"What on earth did I ask him to tea for!" he said to himself,
as he went to the pantry. He had only just had breakfast, but he
thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good
after his fright.
Gandalf in the meantime was still standing outside the door,
and laughing long but quietly. After a while he stepped up, and with
the spike on his staff scratched a queer sign on the hobbit's
beautiful green front-door. Then he strode away, just about the time
when Bilbo was finishing his second cake and beginning to think that
he had escaped adventures very well.
The next day he had almost forgotten about Gandalf. He did
not remember things very well, unless he put them down on his
Engagement Tablet: like this: Gandalf Tea Wednesday. Yesterday he had
been too flustered to do anything of the kind.
Just before tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the
front-door bell, and then he remembered! He rushed and put on the
kettle, and put out another cup and saucer, and an extra cake or two,
and ran to the door.
"I am so sorry to keep you waiting!" he was going to say,
when he saw that it was not Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a
blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright eyes under his
dark-green hood. As soon as the door was opened, he pushed inside,
just as if he had been expected.
He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and "Dwalin at
your service!" he said with a low bow.
"Bilbo Baggins at yours!" said the hobbit, too surprised to
ask any questions for the moment. When the silence that followed had
become uncomfortable, he added: "I am just about to take tea; pray
come and have some with me." A little stiff perhaps, but he meant it
kindly. And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung
his things up in your hall without a word of explanation?
They had not been at table long, in fact they had hardly
reached the third cake, when there came another even louder ring at
"Excuse me!" said the hobbit, and off he went to the door.
"So you have got here at last!" That was what he was going to
say to Gandalf this time. But it was not Gandalf. Instead there was a
very old-looking dwarf on the step with a white beard and a scarlet
hood; and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open, just as
if he had been invited.
"I see they have begun to arrive already," he said when he
caught sight of Dwalin's green hood hanging up. He hung his red one
next to it, and "Balin at your service!" he said with his hand on his
"Thank you!" said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct
thing to say, but they have begun to arrive had flustered him badly.
He liked visitors, but he liked to know them before they arrived, and
he preferred to ask them himself. He had a horrible thought that the
cakes might run short, and then he—as the host: he knew his duty and
stuck to it however painful—he might have to go without.
"Come along in, and have some tea!" he managed to say after
taking a deep breath.
"A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to
you, my good sir," said Balin with the white beard. "But I don't mind
some cake—seed-cake, if you have any."
"Lots!" Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise;
and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint
beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-
cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.
When he got back Balin and Dwalin were talking at the table
like old friends (as a matter of fact they were brothers). Bilbo
plumped down the beer and the cake in front of them, when loud came a
ring at the bell again, and then another ring.
"Gandalf for certain this time," he thought as he puffed
along the passage. But it was not. It was two more dwarves, both with
blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and each of them carried
a bag of tools and a spade. In they hopped, as soon as the door began
to open—Bilbo was hardly surprised at all.
"What can I do for you, my dwarves?" he said.
"Kili at your service!" said the one. "And Fili!" added the
other; and they both swept off their blue hoods and bowed.
"At yours and your family's!" replied Bilbo, remembering his
manners this time.
"Dwalin and Balin here already, I see," said Kili. "Let us
join the throng!"
"Throng!" thought Mr. Baggins. "I don't like the sound of
that. I really must sit down for a minute and collect my wits, and
have a drink." He had only just had a sip—in the corner, while the
four dwarves sat round the table, and talked about mines and gold and
troubles with the goblins, and the depredations of dragons, and lots
of other things which he did not understand, and did not want to, for
they sounded much too adventurous—when, ding-dong-a-ling-dang, his
bell rang again, as if some naughty little hobbit-boy was trying to
pull the handle off.
"Someone at the door!" he said, blinking.
"Some four, I should say by the sound," said Fili. "Besides,
we saw them coming along behind us in the distance."
The poor little hobbit sat down in the hall and put his head
in his hands, and wondered what had happened, and what was going to
happen, and whether they would all stay to supper. Then the bell rang
again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door. It was not
four after all, it was FIVE. Another dwarf had come along while he
was wondering in the hall. He had hardly turned the knob, before they
were all inside, bowing and saying "at your service" one after
another. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were their names; and very
soon two purple hoods, a grey hood, a brown hood, and a white hood
were hanging on the pegs, and off they marched with their broad hands
stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others. Already it
had almost become a throng. Some called for ale, and some for porter,
and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept
very busy for a while.
A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed-
cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered
scones, when there came—a loud knock. Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat
on the hobbit's beautiful green door. Somebody was banging with a
Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether
bewildered and bewuthered—this was the most awkward Wednesday he ever
remembered. He pulled open the door with a jerk, and they all fell
in, one on top of the other. More dwarves, four more! And there was
Gandalf behind, leaning on his staff and laughing. He had made quite
a dent on the beautiful door; he had also, by the way, knocked out
the secret mark that he had put there the morning before.
"Carefully! Carefully!" he said. "It is not like you, Bilbo,
to keep friends waiting on the mat, and then open the door like a pop-
gun! Let me introduce Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and especially Thorin!"
"At your service!" said Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur standing in
a row. Then they hung up two yellow hoods and a pale green one; and
also a sky-blue one with a long silver tassel. This last belonged to
Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than the
great Thorin Oakenshield himself, who was not at all pleased at
falling flat on Bilbo's mat with Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur on top of
him. For one thing Bombur was immensely fat and heavy. Thorin indeed
was very haughty, and said nothing about service; but poor Mr.
Baggins said he was sorry so many times, that at last he
grunted "pray don't mention it," and stopped frowning.
"Now we are all here!" said Gandalf, looking at the row of
thirteen hoods—the best detachable party hoods—and his own hat
hanging on the pegs. "Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is
something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What's that?
Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me."
"And for me," said Thorin.
"And raspberry jam and apple-tart," said Bifur.
"And mince-pies and cheese," said Bofur.
"And pork-pie and salad," said Bombur.
"And more cakes—and ale—and coffee, if you don't mind,"
called the other dwarves through the door.
"Put on a few eggs, there's a good fellow!" Gandalf called
after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. "And just bring
out the cold chicken and pickles!"
"Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do
myself!" thought Mr. Baggins, who was feeling positively flummoxed,
and was beginning to wonder whether a most wretched adventure had not
come right into his house. By the time he had got all the bottles and
dishes and knives and forks and glasses and plates and spoons and
things piled up on big trays, he was getting very hot, and red in the
face, and annoyed.
"Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!" he said
aloud. "Why don't they come and lend a hand?" Lo and behold! there
stood Balin and Dwalin at the door of the kitchen, and Fili and Kili
behind them, and before he could say knife they had whisked the trays
and a couple of small tables into the parlour and set out everything
Gandalf sat at the head of the party with the thirteen
dwarves all round: and Bilbo sat on a stool at the fireside, nibbling
at a biscuit (his appetite was quite taken away), and trying to look
as if this was all perfectly ordinary and not in the least an
adventure. The dwarves ate and ate, and talked and talked, and time
got on. At last they pushed their chairs back, and Bilbo made a move
to collect the plates and glasses.
"I suppose you will all stay to supper?" he said in his
politest unpressing tones.
"Of course!" said Thorin. "And after. We shan't get through
the business till late, and we must have some music first. Now to
Thereupon the twelve dwarves—not Thorin, he was too
important, and stayed talking to Gandalf—jumped to their feet, and
made tall piles of all the things. Off they went, not waiting for
trays, balancing columns of plates, each with a bottle on the top,
with one hand, while the hobbit ran after them almost squeaking with
fright: "please be careful!" and "please, don't trouble! I can
manage." But the dwarves only started to sing:
Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates—
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bowl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you've finished, if any are whole,
Send them down the hall to roll!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!
And of course they did none of these dreadful things, and
everything was cleaned and put away safe as quick as lightning, while
the hobbit was turning round and round in the middle of the kitchen
trying to see what they were doing. Then they went back, and found
Thorin with his feet on the fender smoking a pipe. He was blowing the
most enormous smoke-rings, and wherever he told one to go, it went—up
the chimney, or behind the clock on the mantelpiece, or under the
table, or round and round the ceiling; but wherever it went it was
not quick enough to escape Gandalf. Pop! he sent a smaller smoke-ring
from his short clay-pipe straight through each one of Thorin's. Then
Gandalf's smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the
wizard's head. He had a cloud of them about him already, and in the
dim light it made him look strange and sorcerous. Bilbo stood still
and watched—he loved smoke-rings—and then he blushed to think how
proud he had been yesterday morning of the smoke-rings he had sent up
the wind over The Hill.
"Now for some music!" said Thorin. "Bring out the
Kili and Fili rushed for their bags and brought back little
fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori brought out flutes from somewhere inside
their coats; Bombur produced a drum from the hall; Bifur and Bofur
went out too, and came back with clarinets that they had left among
the walking-sticks. Dwalin and Balin said: "Excuse me, I left mine in
the porch!" "Just bring mine in with you!" said Thorin. They came
back with viols as big as themselves, and with Thorin's harp wrapped
in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin
struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that Bilbo
forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under
strange moons, far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole
under The Hill.
The dark came into the room from the little window that
opened in the side of The Hill; the firelight flickered—it wasApril—
and still they played on, while the shadow of Gandalf's beard wagged
against the wall.
The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the
shadows were lost, and still they played on. And suddenly first one
and then another began to sing as they played, deep-throated singing
of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes; and this is
like a fragment of their song, if it can be like their song without
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.
For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gleaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.
The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
Then dragon's ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.
The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!
As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things
made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a
fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then
something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the
great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and
explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He
looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the
trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark
caverns. Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up—
probably somebody lighting a wood-fire—and he thought of plundering
dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He
shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End,
He got up trembling. He had less than half a mind to fetch
the lamp, and more than half a mind to pretend to, and go and hide
behind the beer-barrels in the cellar, and not come out again until
all the dwarves had gone away. Suddenly he found that the music and
the singing had stopped, and they were all looking at him with eyes
shining in the dark.
"Where are you going?" said Thorin, in a tone that seemed to
show that he guessed both halves of the hobbit's mind.
"What about a little light?" said Bilbo apologetically.
"We like the dark," said all the dwarves. "Dark for dark
business! There are many hours before dawn."
"Of course!" said Bilbo, and sat down in a hurry. He missed
the stool and sat in the fender, knocking over the poker and shovel
with a crash.
"Hush!" said Gandalf. "Let Thorin speak!" And this is how
"Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are met together in the
house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and
audacious hobbit—may the hair on his toes never fall out! all praise
to his wine and ale! He paused for breath and for a polite remark
from the hobbit, but the compliments were quite lost on poor Bilbo
Baggins, who was wagging his mouth in protest at being called
audacious and worst of all fellow conspirator, though no noise came
out, he was so flummoxed. So Thorin went on:
"We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and
devices. We shall soon before the break of day start on our long
journey, a journey from which some of us, or perhaps all of us
(except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may
never return. It is a solemn moment. Our object is, I take it, well
known to us all. To the estimable Mr. Baggins, and perhaps to one or
two of the younger dwarves (I think I should be right in naming Kili
and Fili, for instance), the exact situation at the moment may
require a little brief explanation—"
This was Thorin's style. He was an important dwarf. If he had
been allowed, he would probably have gone on like this until he was
out of breath, without telling any one there anything that was not
known already. But he was rudely interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn't
bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek
coming up inside, and very soon it burst out like the whistle of an
engine coming out of a tunnel. All the dwarves sprang up, knocking
over the table. Gandalf struck a blue light on the end of his magic
staff, and in its firework glare the poor little hobbit could be seen
kneeling on the hearth-rug, shaking like a jelly that was melting.
Then he fell flat on the floor, and kept on calling out "struck by
lightning, struck by lightning!" over and over again; and that was
all they could get out of him for a long time. So they took him and
laid him out of the way on the drawing-room sofa with a drink at his
elbow, and they went back to their dark business.
"Excitable little fellow," said Gandalf, as they sat down
again. "Gets funny queer fits, but he is one of the best, one of the
best—as fierce as a dragon in a pinch."
If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize
that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even
to Old Took's great-grand-uncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a
hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the
goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked
their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a
hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit-hole, and in
this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same
In the meanwhile, however, Bullroarer's gentler descendant
was reviving in the drawing-room. After a while and a drink he crept
nervously to the door of the parlour. This is what he heard, Gloin
speaking: "Humph!" (or some snort more or less like that). "Will he
do, do you think? It is all very well for Gandalf to talk about this
hobbit being fierce, but one shriek like that in a moment of
excitement would be enough to wake the dragon and all his relatives,
and kill the lot of us. I think it sounded more like fright than
excitement! In fact, if it had not been for the sign on the door, I
should have been sure we had come to the wrong house. As soon as I
clapped eyes on the little fellow bobbing and puffing on the mat, I
had my doubts. He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!"
Then Mr. Baggins turned the handle and went in. The Took side
had won. He suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be
thought fierce. As for little fellow bobbing on the mat it almost
made him really fierce. Many a time afterwards the Baggins part
regretted what he did now, and he said to himself: "Bilbo, you were a
fool; you walked right in and put your foot in it."
"Pardon me," he said, "if I have overheard words that you
were saying. I don't pretend to understand what you are talking
about, or your reference to burglars, but I think I am right in
believing" (this is what he called being on his dignity) "that you
think I am no good. I will show you. I have no signs on my door—it
was painted a week ago—, and I am quite sure you have come to the
wrong house. As soon as I saw your funny faces on the door-step, I
had my doubts. But treat it as the right one. Tell me what you want
done, and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of
East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert. I had a great-
great-great-grand-uncle once, Bullroarer Took, and—"
"Yes, yes, but that was long ago," said Gloin. "I was talking
about you. And I assure you there is a mark on this door—the usual
one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of
Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is usually read. You
can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some
of them do. It's all the same to us. Gandalf told us that there was a
man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once, and that he
had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday tea-time."
"Of course there is a mark," said Gandalf. "I put it there
myself. For very good reasons. You asked me to find the fourteenth
man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins. Just let any one
say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at
thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging
He scowled so angrily at Gloin that the dwarf huddled back in
his chair; and when Bilbo tried to open his mouth to ask a question,
he turned and frowned at him and stuck out his bushy eyebrows, till
Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. "That's right," said
Gandalf. "Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and
that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a
Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in
him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself.
You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet. Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch
the lamp, and let's have a little light on this!"
On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shade he
spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.
"This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin," he said
in answer to the dwarves' excited questions. "It is a plan of the
"I don't see that this will help us much," said Thorin
disappointedly after a glance. "I remember the Mountain well enough
and the lands about it. And I know where Mirkwood is, and the
Withered Heath where the great dragons bred."
"There is a dragon marked in red on the Mountain," said
Balin, "but it will be easy enough to find him without that, if ever
we arrive there."
"There is one point that you haven't noticed," said the
wizard, "and that is the secret entrance. You see that rune on the
West side, and the hand pointing to it from the other runes? That
marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls." (Look at the map at the
beginning of this book, and you will see there the runes.)
"It may have been secret once," said Thorin, "but how do we
know that it is secret any longer? Old Smaug has lived there long
enough now to find out anything there is to know about those caves."
"He may—but he can't have used it for years and years."
"Because it is too small. 'Five feet high the door and three
may walk abreast' say the runes, but Smaug could not creep into a
hole that size, not even when he was a young dragon, certainly not
after devouring so many of the dwarves and men of Dale."
"It seems a great big hole to me," squeaked Bilbo (who had no
experience of dragons and only of hobbit-holes). He was getting
excited and interested again, so that he forgot to keep his mouth
shut. He loved maps, and in his hall there hung a large one of the
Country Round with all his favourite walks marked on it in red
ink. "How could such a large door be kept secret from everybody
outside, apart from the dragon?" he asked. He was only a little
hobbit you must remember.
"In lots of ways," said Gandalf. "But in what way this one
has been hidden we don't know without going to see. From what it says
on the map I should guess there is a closed door which has been made
to look exactly like the side of the Mountain. That is the usual
dwarves' method—I think that is right, isn't it?"
"Quite right," said Thorin.
"Also," went on Gandalf, "I forgot to mention that with the
map went a key, a small and curious key. Here it is!" he said, and
handed to Thorin a key with a long barrel and intricate wards, made
of silver. "Keep it safe!"
"Indeed I will," said Thorin, and he fastened it upon a fine
chain that hung about his neck and under his jacket. "Now things
begin to look more hopeful. This news alters them much for the
better. So far we have had no clear idea what to do. We thought of
going East, as quiet and careful as we could, as far as the Long
Lake. After that the trouble would begin—."
"A long time before that, if I know anything about the roads
East," interrupted Gandalf.
"We might go from there up along the River Running," went on
Thorin taking no notice, "and so to the ruins of Dale—the old town in
the valley there, under the shadow of the Mountain. But we none of us
liked the idea of the Front Gate. The river runs right out of it
through the great cliff at the South of the Mountain, and out of it
comes the dragon too—far too often, unless he has changed his habits."
"That would be no good," said the wizard, "not without a
mighty Warrior, even a Hero. I tried to find one; but warriors are
busy fighting one another in distant lands, and in this neighbourhood
heroes are scarce, or simply not to be found. Swords in these parts
are mostly blunt, and axes are used for trees, and shields as cradles
or dish-covers; and dragons are comfortably far-off (and therefore
legendary). That is why I settled on burglary—especially when I
remembered the existence of a Side-door. And here is our little Bilbo
Baggins, the burglar, the chosen and selected burglar. So now let's
get on and make some plans."
"Very well then," said Thorin, "supposing the burglar-expert
gives us some ideas or suggestions." He turned with mock-politeness
"First I should like to know a bit more about things," said
he, feeling all confused and a bit shaky inside, but so far still
Tookishly determined to go on with things. "I mean about the gold and
the dragon, and all that, and how it got there, and who it belongs
to, and so on and further."
"Bless me!" said Thorin, "haven't you got a map? and didn't
you hear our song? and haven't we been talking about all this for
"All the same, I should like it all plain and clear," said he
obstinately, putting on his business manner (usually reserved for
people who tried to borrow money off him), and doing his best to
appear wise and prudent and professional and live up to Gandalf's
recommendation. "Also I should like to know about risks, out-of-
pocket expenses, time required and remuneration, and so forthby which
he meant: "What am I going to get out of it? and am I going to come
"O very well," said Thorin. "Long ago in my grandfather
Thror's time our family was driven out of the far North, and came
back with all their wealth and their tools to this Mountain on the
map. It had been discovered by my far ancestor, Thrain the Old, but
now they mined and they tunnelled and they made huger halls and
greater workshops—and in addition I believe they found a good deal of
gold and a great many jewels too. Anyway they grew immensely rich and
famous, and my grandfather was King under the Mountain again, and
treated with great reverence by the mortal men, who lived to the
South, and were gradually spreading up the Running River as far as
the valley overshadowed by the Mountain. They built the merry town of
Dale there in those days. Kings used to send for our smiths, and
reward even the least skillful most richly. Fathers would beg us to
take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in
food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves.
Altogether those were good days for us, and the poorest of us had
money to spend and to lend, and leisure to make beautiful things just
for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous and magical
toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days.
So my grandfather's halls became full of armour and jewels and
carvings and cups, and the toy market of Dale was the wonder of the
"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons steal
gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever
they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live
(which is practically for ever, unless they are killed), and never
enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work
from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current
market value; and they can't make a thing for themselves, not even
mend a little loose scale of their armour. There were lots of dragons
in the North in those days, and gold was probably getting scarce up
there, with the dwarves flying south or getting killed, and all the
general waste and destruction that dragons make going from bad to
worse. There was a most specially greedy, strong and wicked worm
called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and came south. The
first we heard of it was a noise like a hurricane coming from the
North, and the pine-trees on the Mountain creaking and cracking in
the wind. Some of the dwarves who happened to be outside (I was one
luckily—a fine adventurous lad in those days, always wandering about,
and it saved my life that day)—well, from a good way off we saw the
dragon settle on our mountain in a spout of flame. Then he came down
the slopes and when he reached the woods they all went up in fire. By
that time all the bells were ringing in Dale and the warriors were
arming. The dwarves rushed out of their great gate; but there was the
dragon waiting for them. None escaped that way. The river rushed up
in steam and a fog fell on Dale, and in the fog the dragon came on
them and destroyed most of the warriors—the usual unhappy story, it
was only too common in those days. Then he went back and crept in
through the Front Gate and routed out all the halls, and lanes, and
tunnels, alleys, cellars, mansions and passages. After that there
were no dwarves left alive inside, and he took all their wealth for
himself. Probably, for that is the dragons' way, he has piled it all
up in a great heap far inside, and sleeps on it for a bed. Later he
used to crawl out of the great gate and come by night to Dale, and
carry away people, especially maidens, to eat, until Dale was ruined,
and all the people dead or gone. What goes on there now I don't know
for certain, but I don't suppose any one lives nearer to the Mountain
than the far edge of the Long Lake now-a-days.
"The few of us that were well outside sat and wept in hiding,
and cursed Smaug; and there we were unexpectedly joined by my father
and my grandfather with singed beards. They looked very grim but they
said very little. When I asked how they had got away, they told me to
hold my tongue, and said that one day in the proper time I should
know. After that we went away, and we have had to earn our livings as
best we could up and down the lands, often enough sinking as low as
blacksmith-work or even coalmining. But we have never forgotten our
stolen treasure. And even now, when I will allow we have a good bit
laid by and are not so badly off"—here Thorin stroked the gold chain
round his neck—"we still mean to get it back, and to bring our curses
home to Smaug—if we can.
"I have often wondered about my father's and my grandfather's
escape. I see now they must have had a private Side-door which only
they knew about. But apparently they made a map, and I should like to
know how Gandalf got hold of it, and why it did not come down to me,
the rightful heir."
"I did not 'get hold of it,' I was given it," said the
wizard. "Your grandfather Thror was killed, you remember, in the
mines of Moria by Azog the Goblin."
"Curse his name, yes," said Thorin.
"And Thrain your father went away on the twenty-first of
April, a hundred years ago last Thursday, and has never been seen by
"True, true," said Thorin.
"Well, your father gave me this to give to you; and if I have
chosen my own time and way for handing it over, you can hardly blame
me, considering the trouble I had to find you. Your father could not
remember his own name when he gave me the paper, and he never told me
yours; so on the whole I think I ought to be praised and thanked!
Here it is," said he handing the map to Thorin.
"I don't understand," said Thorin, and Bilbo felt he would
have liked to say the same. The explanation did not seem to explain.
"Your grandfather," said the wizard slowly and grimly, "gave
the map to his son for safety before he went to the mines of Moria.
Your father went away to try his luck with the map after your
grandfather was killed; and lots of adventures of a most unpleasant
sort he had, but he never got near the Mountain. How he got there I
don't know, but I found him a prisoner in the dungeons of the
"Whatever were you doing there?" asked Thorin with a shudder,
and all the dwarves shivered.
"Never you mind. I was finding things out, as usual; and a
nasty dangerous business it was. Even I, Gandalf, only just escaped.
I tried to save your father, but it was too late. He was witless and
wandering, and had forgotten almost everything except the map and the
"We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria," said
Thorin; "we must give a thought to the Necromancer."
"Don't be absurd! He is an enemy far beyond the powers of all
the dwarves put together, if they could all be collected again from
the four corners of the world. The one thing your father wished was
for his son to read the map and use the key. The dragon and the
Mountain are more than big enough tasks for you!"
"Hear, hear!" said Bilbo, and accidentally said it aloud.
"Hear what?" they all said turning suddenly towards him, and
he was so flustered that he answered "Hear what I have got to say!"
"What's that?" they asked.
"Well, I should say that you ought to go East and have a look
round. After all there is the Side-door, and dragons must sleep
sometimes, I suppose. If you sit on the door-step long enough, I
daresay you will think of something. And well, don't you know, I
think we have talked long enough for one night, if you see what I
mean. What about bed, and an early start, and all that? I will give
you a good breakfast before you go."
"Before we go, I suppose you mean," said Thorin. "Aren't you
the burglar? And isn't sitting on the door-step your job, not to
speak of getting inside the door? But I agree about bed and
breakfast. I like six eggs with my ham, when starting on a journey:
fried not poached, and mind you don't break 'em."
After all the others had ordered their breakfasts without so
much as a please (which annoyed Bilbo very much), they all got up.
The hobbit had to find room for them all, and filled all his spare-
rooms and made beds on chairs and sofas, before he got them all
stowed and went to his own little bed very tired and not altogether
happy. One thing he did make his mind up about was not to bother to
get up very early and cook everybody else's wretched breakfast. The
Tookishness was wearing off, and he was not now quite so sure that he
was going on any journey in the morning.
As he lay in bed he could hear Thorin still humming to
himself in the best bedroom next to him:
Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To find our long-forgotten gold.
Bilbo went to sleep with that in his ears, and it gave him
very uncomfortable dreams. It was long after the break of day, when
he woke up.
Copyright 1937 by George Allen and Unwin Ltd.
Copyright © 1966 by J.R.R. Tolkien
Copyright © renewed 1994 by Christopher R. Tolkien, John F.R. Tolkien
and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien
Copyright © restored 1996 by the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien, assigned
1997 to the J.R.R. Tolkien Copyright Trust
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
A Long-Expected Party
When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be
celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special
magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.
Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the
wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable
disappearance and unexpected return. The riches he had brought back
from his travels had now become a local legend, and it was popularly
believed, whatever the old folk might say, that the Hill at Bag End
was full of tunnels stuffed with treasure. And if that was not enough
for fame, there was also his prolonged vigour to marvel at. Time wore
on, but it seemed to have little effect on Mr. Baggins. At ninety he
was much the same as at fifty. At ninety-nine they began to call him
well-preserved; but unchanged would have been nearer the mark. There
were some that shook their heads and thought this was too much of a
good thing; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently)
perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth.
'It will have to be paid for,' they said. 'It isn't natural,
and trouble will come of it!'
But so far trouble had not come; and as Mr. Baggins was
generous with his money, most people were willing to forgive him his
oddities and his good fortune. He remained on visiting terms with his
relatives (except, of course, the Sackville-Bagginses), and he had
many devoted admirers among the hobbits of poor and unimportant
families. But he had no close friends, until some of his younger
cousins began to grow up.
The eldest of these, and Bilbo's favourite, was young Frodo
Baggins. When Bilbo was ninety-nine he adopted Frodo as his heir, and
brought him to live at Bag End; and the hopes of the Sackville-
Bagginses were finally dashed. Bilbo and Frodo happened to have the
same birthday, September 22nd. 'You had better come and live here,
Frodo my lad,' said Bilbo one day; 'and then we can celebrate our
birthday-parties comfortably together.' At that time Frodo was still
in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties
between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three.
Twelve more years passed. Each year the Bagginses had given
very lively combined birthday-parties at Bag End; but now it was
understood that something quite exceptional was being planned for
that autumn. Bilbo was going to be eleventy-one, 111, a rather
curious number, and a very respectable age for a hobbit (the Old Took
himself had only reached 130); and Frodo was going to be thirty-
three, 33, an important number: the date of his 'coming of age'.
Tongues began to wag in Hobbiton and Bywater; and rumour of
the coming event travelled all over the Shire. The history and
character of Mr. Bilbo Baggins became once again the chief topic of
conversation; and the older folk suddenly found their reminiscences
in welcome demand.
No one had a more attentive audience than old Ham Gamgee,
commonly known as the Gaffer. He held forth at The Ivy Bush, a small
inn on the Bywater road; and he spoke with some authority, for he had
tended the garden at Bag End for forty years, and had helped old
Holman in the same job before that. Now that he was himself growing
old and stiff in the joints, the job was mainly carried on by his
youngest son, Sam Gamgee. Both father and son were on very friendly
terms with Bilbo and Frodo. They lived on the Hill itself, in Number
3 Bagshot Row just below Bag End.
'A very nice well-spoken gentlehobbit is Mr. Bilbo, as I've
always said,' the Gaffer declared. With perfect truth: for Bilbo was
very polite to him, calling him 'Master Hamfast', and consulting him
constantly upon the growing of vegetables — in the matter of 'roots',
especially potatoes, the Gaffer was recognized as the leading
authority by all in the neighbourhood (including himself).
'But what about this Frodo that lives with him?' asked Old
Noakes of Bywater. 'Baggins is his name, but he's more than half a
Brandybuck, they say. It beats me why any Baggins of Hobbiton should
go looking for a wife away there in Buckland, where folks are so
'And no wonder they're queer,' put in Daddy Twofoot (the
Gaffer's next-door neighbour), 'if they live on the wrong side of the
Brandywine River, and right agin the Old Forest. That's a dark bad
place, if half the tales be true.'
'You're right, Dad!' said the Gaffer. 'Not that the
Brandybucks of Buckland live in the Old Forest; but they're a queer
breed, seemingly. They fool about with boats on that big river — and
that isn't natural. Small wonder that trouble came of it, I say. But
be that as it may, Mr. Frodo is as nice a young hobbit as you could
wish to meet. Very much like Mr. Bilbo, and in more than looks. After
all his father was a Baggins. A decent respectable hobbit was Mr.
Drogo Baggins; there was never much to tell of him, till he was
'Drownded?' said several voices. They had heard this and
other darker rumours before, of course; but hobbits have a passion
for family history, and they were ready to hear it again.
'Well, so they say,' said the Gaffer. 'You see: Mr. Drogo, he
married poor Miss Primula Brandybuck. She was our Mr. Bilbo's first
cousin on the mother's side (her mother being the youngest of the Old
Took's daughters); and Mr. Drogo was his second cousin. So Mr. Frodo
is his first and second cousin, once removed either way, as the
saying is, if you follow me. And Mr. Drogo was staying at Brandy Hall
with his father-in-law, old Master Gorbadoc, as he often did after
his marriage (him being partial to his vittles, and old Gorbadoc
keeping a mighty generous table); and he went out boating on the
Brandywine River; and he and his wife were drownded, and poor Mr.
Frodo only a child and all.'
'I've heard they went on the water after dinner in the
moonlight,' said Old Noakes; 'and it was Drogo's weight as sunk the
'And I heard she pushed him in, and he pulled her in after
him,' said Sandyman, the Hobbiton miller.
'You shouldn't listen to all you hear, Sandyman,' said the
Gaffer, who did not much like the miller. 'There isn't no call to go
talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for
those that sit still without looking further for the cause of
trouble. Anyway: there was this Mr. Frodo left an orphan and
stranded, as you might say, among those queer Bucklanders, being
brought up anyhow in Brandy Hall. A regular warren, by all accounts.
Old Master Gorbadoc never had fewer than a couple of hundred
relations in the place. Mr. Bilbo never did a kinder deed than when
he brought the lad back to live among decent folk.
'But I reckon it was a nasty shock for those Sackville-
Bagginses. They thought they were going to get Bag End, that time
when he went off and was thought to be dead. And then he comes back
and orders them off; and he goes on living and living, and never
looking a day older, bless him! And suddenly he produces an heir, and
has all the papers made out proper. The Sackville-Bagginses won't
never see the inside of Bag End now, or it is to be hoped not.'
'There's a tidy bit of money tucked away up there, I hear
tell,' said a stranger, a visitor on business from Michel Delving in
the Westfarthing. 'All the top of your hill is full of tunnels packed
with chests of gold and silver, and jools, by what I've heard.'
'Then you've heard more than I can speak to,' answered the
Gaffer. I know nothing about jools. Mr. Bilbo is free with his money,
and there seems no lack of it; but I know of no tunnel-making. I saw
Mr. Bilbo when he came back, a matter of sixty years ago, when I was
a lad. I'd not long come prentice to old Holman (him being my dad's
cousin), but he had me up at Bag End helping him to keep folks from
trampling and trapessing all over the garden while the sale was on.
And in the middle of it all Mr. Bilbo comes up the Hill with a pony
and some mighty big bags and a couple of chests. I don't doubt they
were mostly full of treasure he had picked up in foreign parts, where
there be mountains of gold, they say; but there wasn't enough to fill
tunnels. But my lad Sam will know more about that. He's in and out of
Bag End. Crazy about stories of the old days he is, and he listens to
all Mr. Bilbo's tales. Mr. Bilbo has learned him his letters —
meaning no harm, mark you, and I hope no harm will come of it.
'Elves and Dragons! I says to him. 'Cabbages and potatoes are
better for me and you. Don't go getting mixed up in the business of
your betters, or you'll land in trouble too big for you,' I says to
him. And I might say it to others,' he added with a look at the
stranger and the miller.
But the Gaffer did not convince his audience. The legend of
Bilbo's wealth was now too firmly fixed in the minds of the younger
generation of hobbits.
'Ah, but he has likely enough been adding to what he brought
at first,' argued the miller, voicing common opinion. 'He's often
away from home. And look at the outlandish folk that visit him:
dwarves coming at night, and that old wandering conjuror, Gandalf,
and all. You can say what you like, Gaffer, but Bag End's a queer
place, and its folk are queerer.'
'And you can say what you like, about what you know no more
of than you do of boating, Mr. Sandyman,' retorted the Gaffer,
disliking the miller even more than usual. 'If that's being queer,
then we could do with a bit more queerness in these parts. There's
some not far away that wouldn't offer a pint of beer to a friend, if
they lived in a hole with golden walls. But they do things proper at
Bag End. Our Sam says that everyone's going to be invited to the
party, and there's going to be presents, mark you, presents for all —
this very month as is.'
That very month was September, and as fine as you could ask.
A day or two later a rumour (probably started by the knowledgeable
Sam) was spread about that there were going to be fireworks —
fireworks, what is more, such as had not been seen in the Shire for
nigh on a century, not indeed since the Old Took died.
Days passed and The Day drew nearer. An odd-looking waggon
laden with odd-looking packages rolled into Hobbiton one evening and
toiled up the Hill to Bag End. The startled hobbits peered out of
lamplit doors to gape at it. It was driven by outlandish folk,
singing strange songs: dwarves with long beards and deep hoods. A few
of them remained at Bag End. At the end of the second week in
September a cart came in through Bywater from the direction of the
Brandywine Bridge in broad daylight. An old man was driving it all
alone. He wore a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, and a
silver scarf. He had a long white beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck
out beyond the brim of his hat. Small hobbit-children ran after the
cart all through Hobbiton and right up the hill. It had a cargo of
fireworks, as they rightly guessed. At Bilbo's front door the old man
began to unload: there were great bundles of fireworks of all sorts
and shapes, each labelled with a large red G and the elf-rune, .
That was Gandalf's mark, of course, and the old man was
Gandalf the Wizard, whose fame in the Shire was due mainly to his
skill with fires, smokes, and lights. His real business was far more
difficult and dangerous, but the Shire-folk knew nothing about it. To
them he was just one of the 'attractions' at the Party. Hence the
excitement of the hobbit-children. 'G for Grand!' they shouted, and
the old man smiled. They knew him by sight, though he only appeared
in Hobbiton occasionally and never stopped long; but neither they nor
any but the oldest of their elders had seen one of his firework
displays — they now belonged to the legendary past.
When the old man, helped by Bilbo and some dwarves, had
finished unloading. Bilbo gave a few pennies away; but not a single
squib or cracker was forthcoming, to the disappointment of the
'Run away now!' said Gandalf. 'You will get plenty when the
time comes.' Then he disappeared inside with Bilbo, and the door was
shut. The young hobbits stared at the door in vain for a while, and
then made off, feeling that the day of the party would never come.
Inside Bag End, Bilbo and Gandalf were sitting at the open
window of a small room looking out west on to the garden. The late
afternoon was bright and peaceful. The flowers glowed red and golden:
snap-dragons and sun-flowers, and nasturtiums trailing all over the
turf walls and peeping in at the round windows.
'How bright your garden looks!' said Gandalf.
'Yes,' said Bilbo. 'I am very fond indeed of it, and of all
the dear old Shire; but I think I need a holiday.'
'You mean to go on with your plan then?'
'I do. I made up my mind months ago, and I haven't changed
'Very well. It is no good saying any more. Stick to your
plan — your whole plan, mind — and I hope it will turn out for the
best, for you, and for all of us.'
'I hope so. Anyway I mean to enjoy myself on Thursday, and
have my little joke.'
'Who will laugh, I wonder?' said Gandalf, shaking his head.
'We shall see,' said Bilbo.
The next day more carts rolled up the Hill, and still more
carts. There might have been some grumbling about 'dealing locally',
but that very week orders began to pour out of Bag End for every kind
of provision, commodity, or luxury that could be obtained in Hobbiton
or Bywater or anywhere in the neighbourhood. People became
enthusiastic; and they began to tick off the days on the calendar;
and they watched eagerly for the postman, hoping for invitations.
Before long the invitations began pouring out, and the
Hobbiton post-office was blocked, and the Bywater post-office was
snowed under, and voluntary assistant postmen were called for. There
was a constant stream of them going up the Hill, carrying hundreds of
polite variations on Thank you, I shall certainly come.
A notice appeared on the gate at Bag End: NO ADMITTANCE
EXCEPT ON PARTY BUSINESS. Even those who had, or pretended to have
Party Business were seldom allowed inside. Bilbo was busy: writing
invitations, ticking off answers, packing up presents, and making
some private preparations of his own. From the time of Gandalf's
arrival he remained hidden from view.
One morning the hobbits woke to find the large field, south
of Bilbo's front door, covered with ropes and poles for tents and
pavilions. A special entrance was cut into the bank leading to the
road, and wide steps and a large white gate were built there. The
three hobbit-families of Bagshot Row, adjoining the field, were
intensely interested and generally envied. Old Gaffer Gamgee stopped
even pretending to work in his garden.
The tents began to go up. There was a specially large
pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right
inside it, and stood proudly near one end, at the head of the chief
table. Lanterns were hung on all its branches. More promising still
(to the hobbits' mind): an enormous open-air kitchen was erected in
the north corner of the field. A draught of cooks, from every inn and
eating-house for miles around, arrived to supplement the dwarves and
other odd folk that were quartered at Bag End. Excitement rose to its
Then the weather clouded over. That was on Wednesday the eve
of the Party. Anxiety was intense. Then Thursday, September the 22nd,
actually dawned. The sun got up, the clouds vanished, flags were
unfurled and the fun began.
Bilbo Baggins called it a party, but it was really a variety
of entertainments rolled into one. Practically everybody living near
was invited. A very few were overlooked by accident, but as they
turned up all the same, that did not matter. Many people from other
parts of the Shire were also asked; and there were even a few from
outside the borders. Bilbo met the guests (and additions) at the new
white gate in person. He gave away presents to all and sundry — the
latter were those who went out again by a back way and came in again
by the gate. Hobbits give presents to other people on their own
birthdays. Not very expensive ones, as a rule, and not so lavishly as
on this occasion; but it was not a bad system. Actually in Hobbiton
and Bywater every day in the year it was somebody's birthday, so that
every hobbit in those parts had a fair chance of at least one present
at least once a week. But they never got tired of them.
On this occasion the presents were unusually good. The hobbit-
children were so excited that for a while they almost forgot about
eating. There were toys the like of which they had never seen before,
all beautiful and some obviously magical. Many of them had indeed
been ordered a year before, and had come all the way from the
Mountain and from Dale, and were of real dwarf-make.
When every guest had been welcomed and was finally inside the
gate, there were songs, dances, music, games, and, of course, food
and drink. There were three official meals: lunch, tea, and dinner
(or supper). But lunch and tea were marked chiefly by the fact that
at those times all the guests were sitting down and eating together.
At other times there were merely lots of people eating and drinking —
continuously from elevenses until six-thirty, when the fireworks
The fireworks were by Gandalf: they were not only brought by
him, but designed and made by him; and the special effects, set
pieces, and flights of rockets were let off by him. But there was
also a generous distribution of squibs, crackers, backarappers,
sparklers, torches, dwarf-candles, elf-fountains, goblin-barkers and
thunder-claps. They were all superb. The art of Gandalf improved with
There were rockets like a flight of scintillating birds
singing with sweet voices. There were green trees with trunks of dark
smoke: their leaves opened like a whole spring unfolding in a moment,
and their shining branches dropped glowing flowers down upon the
astonished hobbits, disappearing with a sweet scent just before they
touched their upturned faces. There were fountains of butterflies
that flew glittering into the trees; there were pillars of coloured
fires that rose and turned into eagles, or sailing ships, or a
phalanx of flying swans; there was a red thunderstorm and a shower of
yellow rain; there was a forest of silver spears that sprang suddenly
into the air with a yell like an embattled army, and came down again
into the Water with a hiss like a hundred hot snakes. And there was
also one last surprise, in honour of Bilbo, and it startled the
hobbits exceedingly, as Gandalf intended. The lights went out. A
great smoke went up. It shaped itself like a mountain seen in the
distance, and began to glow at the summit. It spouted green and
scarlet flames. Out flew a red-golden dragon — not life-size, but
terribly life-like: fire came from his jaws, his eyes glared down;
there was a roar, and he whizzed three times over the heads of the
crowd. They all ducked, and many fell flat on their faces. The dragon
passed like an express train, turned a somersault, and burst over
Bywater with a deafening explosion.
'That is the signal for supper!' said Bilbo. The pain and
alarm vanished at once, and the prostrate hobbits leaped to their
feet. There was a splendid supper for everyone; for everyone, that
is, except those invited to the special family dinner-party. This was
held in the great pavilion with the tree. The invitations were
limited to twelve dozen (a number also called by the hobbits one
Gross, though the word was not considered proper to use of people);
and the guests were selected from all the families to which Bilbo and
Frodo were related, with the addition of a few special unrelated
friends (such as Gandalf). Many young hobbits were included, and
present by parental permission; for hobbits were easy-going with
their children in the matter of sitting up late, especially when
there was a chance of getting them a free meal. Bringing up young
hobbits took a lot of provender.
There were many Bagginses and Boffins, and also many Tooks
and Brandybucks; there were various Grubbs (relations of Bilbo
Baggins' grandmother), and various Chubbs (connexions of his Took
grandfather); and a selection of Burrowses, Bolgers, Bracegirdles,
Brockhouses, Goodbodies, Hornblowers and Proudfoots. Some of these
were only very distantly connected with Bilbo, and some of them had
hardly ever been in Hobbiton before, as they lived in remote corners
of the Shire. The Sackville-Bagginses were not forgotten. Otho and
his wife Lobelia were present. They disliked Bilbo and detested
Frodo, but so magnificent was the invitation card, written in golden
ink, that they had felt it was impossible to refuse. Besides, their
cousin, Bilbo, had been specializing in food for many years and his
table had a high reputation.
All the one hundred and forty-four guests expected a pleasant
feast; though they rather dreaded the after-dinner speech of their
host (an inevitable item). He was liable to drag in bits of what he
called poetry; and sometimes, after a glass or two, would allude to
the absurd adventures of his mysterious journey. The guests were not
disappointed: they had a very pleasant feast, in fact an engrossing
entertainment: rich, abundant, varied, and prolonged. The purchase of
provisions fell almost to nothing throughout the district in the
ensuing weeks; but as Bilbo's catering had depleted the stocks of
most stores, cellars and warehouses for miles around, that did not
After the feast (more or less) came the Speech. Most of the
company were, however, now in a tolerant mood, at that delightful
stage which they called 'filling up the corners'. They were sipping
their favourite drinks, and nibbling at their favourite dainties, and
their fears were forgotten. They were prepared to listen to anything,
and to cheer at every full stop.
My dear People, began Bilbo, rising in his place. 'Hear!
Hear! Hear!' they shouted, and kept on repeating it in chorus,
seeming reluctant to follow their own advice. Bilbo left his place
and went and stood on a chair under the illuminated tree. The light
of the lanterns fell on his beaming face; the golden buttons shone on
his embroidered silk waistcoat. They could all see him standing,
waving one hand in the air, the other was in his trouser-pocket.
My dear Bagginses and Boffins, he began again; and my dear
Tooks and Brandybucks, and Grubbs, and Chubbs, and Burrowses, and
Hornblowers, and Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses and
Proudfoots. 'ProudFEET!' shouted an elderly hobbit from the back of
the pavilion. His name, of course, was Proudfoot, and well merited;
his feet were large, exceptionally furry, and both were on the table.
Proudfoots, repeated Bilbo. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses
that I welcome back at last to Bag End. Today is my one hundred and
eleventh birthday: I am eleventy-one today! 'Hurray! Hurray! Many
Happy Returns!' they shouted, and they hammered joyously on the
tables. Bilbo was doing splendidly. This was the sort of stuff they
liked: short and obvious.
I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.
Deafening cheers. Cries of Yes (and No). Noises of trumpets and
horns, pipes and flutes, and other musical instruments. There were,
as has been said, many young hobbits present. Hundreds of musical
crackers had been pulled. Most of them bore the mark DALE on them;
which did not convey much to most of the hobbits, but they all agreed
they were marvellous crackers. They contained instruments, small, but
of perfect make and enchanting tones. Indeed, in one corner some of
the young Tooks and Brandybucks, supposing Uncle Bilbo to have
finished (since he had plainly said all that was necessary), now got
up an impromptu orchestra, and began a merry dance-tune. Master
Everard Took and Miss Melilot Brandybuck got on a table and with
bells in their hands began to dance the Springle-ring: a pretty
dance, but rather vigorous.
But Bilbo had not finished. Seizing a horn from a youngster
near by, he blew three loud hoots. The noise subsided. I shall not
keep you long, he cried. Cheers from all the assembly. I have called
you all together for a Purpose. Something in the way that he said
this made an impression. There was almost silence, and one or two of
the Tooks pricked up their ears.
Indeed, for Three Purposes! First of all, to tell you that I
am immensely fond of you all, and that eleventy-one years is too
short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.
Tremendous outburst of approval.
I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I
like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. This was
unexpected and rather difficult. There was some scattered clapping,
but most of them were trying to work it out and see if it came to a
Secondly, to celebrate my birthday. Cheers again. I should
say: OUR birthday. For it is, of course, also the birthday of my heir
and nephew, Frodo. He comes of age and into his inheritance today.
Some perfunctory clapping by the elders; and some loud shouts
of 'Frodo! Frodo! Jolly old Frodo,' from the juniors. The Sackville-
Bagginses scowled, and wondered what was meant by 'coming into his
Together we score one hundred and forty-four. Your numbers
were chosen to fit this remarkable total: One Gross, if I may use the
expression. No cheers. This was ridiculous. Many of his guests, and
especially the Sackville-Bagginses, were insulted, feeling sure they
had only been asked to fill up the required number, like goods in a
package. 'One Gross, indeed! Vulgar expression.'
It is also, if I may be allowed to refer to ancient history,
the anniversary of my arrival by barrel at Esgaroth on the Long Lake;
though the fact that it was my birthday slipped my memory on that
occasion. I was only fifty-one then, and birthdays did not seem so
important. The banquet was very splendid, however, though I had a bad
cold at the time, I remember, and could only say 'thag you very
buch'. I now repeat it more correctly: Thank you very much for coming
to my little party. Obstinate silence. They all feared that a song or
some poetry was now imminent; and they were getting bored. Why
couldn't he stop talking and let them drink his health? But Bilbo did
not sing or recite. He paused for a moment.
Thirdly and finally, he said, I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT.
He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up
who still could. I regret to announce that — though, as I said,
eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you — this
is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!
He stepped down and vanished. There was a blinding flash of
light, and the guests all blinked. When they opened their eyes Bilbo
was nowhere to be seen. One hundred and forty-four flabbergasted
hobbits sat back speechless. Old Odo Proudfoot removed his feet from
the table and stamped. Then there was a dead silence, until suddenly,
after several deep breaths, every Baggins, Boffin, Took, Brandybuck,
Grubb, Chubb, Burrows, Bolger, Bracegirdle, Brockhouse, Goodbody,
Hornblower, and Proudfoot began to talk at once.
It was generally agreed that the joke was in very bad taste,
and more food and drink were needed to cure the guests of shock and
annoyance. 'He's mad. I always said so,' was probably the most
popular comment. Even the Tooks (with a few exceptions) thought
Bilbo's behaviour was absurd. For the moment most of them took it for
granted that his disappearance was nothing more than a ridiculous
But old Rory Brandybuck was not so sure. Neither age nor an
enormous dinner had clouded his wits, and he said to his daughter-in-
law, Esmeralda: 'There's something fishy in this, my dear! I believe
that mad Baggins is off again. Silly old fool. But why worry? He
hasn't taken the vittles with him.' He called loudly to Frodo to send
the wine round again.
Frodo was the only one present who had said nothing. For some
time he had sat silent beside Bilbo's empty chair, and ignored all
remarks and questions. He had enjoyed the joke, of course, even
though he had been in the know. He had difficulty in keeping from
laughter at the indignant surprise of the guests. But at the same
time he felt deeply troubled: he realized suddenly that he loved the
old hobbit dearly. Most of the guests went on eating and drinking and
discussing Bilbo Baggins' oddities, past and present; but the
Sackville-Bagginses had already departed in wrath. Frodo did not want
to have any more to do with the party. He gave orders for more wine
to be served; then he got up and drained his own glass silently to
the health of Bilbo, and slipped out of the pavilion.
As for Bilbo Baggins, even while he was making his speech, he
had been fingering the golden ring in his pocket: his magic ring that
he had kept secret for so many years. As he stepped down he slipped
it on his finger, and he was never seen by any hobbit in Hobbiton
He walked briskly back to his hole, and stood for a moment
listening with a smile to the din in the pavilion and to the sounds
of merrymaking in other parts of the field. Then he went in. He took
off his party clothes, folded up and wrapped in tissue-paper his
embroidered silk waistcoat, and put it away. Then he put on quickly
some old untidy garments, and fastened round his waist a worn leather
belt. On it he hung a short sword in a battered black-leather
scabbard. From a locked drawer, smelling of moth-balls, he took out
an old cloak and hood. They had been locked up as if they were very
precious, but they were so patched and weatherstained that their
original colour could hardly be guessed: it might have been dark
green. They were rather too large for him. He then went into his
study, and from a large strong-box took out a bundle wrapped in old
cloths, and a leather-bound manuscript; and also a large bulky
envelope. The book and bundle he stuffed into the top of a heavy bag
that was standing there, already nearly full. Into the envelope he
slipped his golden ring, and its fine chain, and then sealed it, and
addressed it to Frodo. At first he put it on the mantelpiece, but
suddenly he removed it and stuck it in his pocket. At that moment the
door opened and Gandalf came quickly in.
'Hullo!' said Bilbo. \'I wondered if you would turn up.'
\'I am glad to find you visible,' replied the wizard, sitting
down in a chair. \'I wanted to catch you and have a few final words. I
suppose you feel that everything has gone off splendidly and
according to plan?'
'Yes, I do,' said Bilbo. 'Though that flash was surprising:
it quite startled me, let alone the others. A little addition of your
own, I suppose?'
'It was. You have wisely kept that ring secret all these
years, and it seemed to me necessary to give your guests something
else that would seem to explain your sudden vanishment.'
'And would spoil my joke. You are an interfering old
busybody,' laughed Bilbo, 'but I expect you know best, as usual.'
'I do — when I know anything. But I don't feel too sure about
this whole affair. It has now come to the final point. You have had
your joke, and alarmed or offended most of your relations, and given
the whole Shire something to talk about for nine days, or ninety-nine
more likely. Are you going any further?'
'Yes, I am. I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday, as
I have told you before. Probably a permanent holiday: I don't expect
I shall return. In fact, I don't mean to, and I have made all
\'I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to
feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed!' he
snorted. 'Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I
mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That
can't be right. I need a change, or something.'
Gandalf looked curiously and closely at him. 'No, it does not
seem right,' he said thoughtfully. 'No, after all I believe your plan
is probably the best.'
'Well, I've made up my mind, anyway. I want to see mountains
again, Gandalf — mountains; and then find somewhere where I can rest.
In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a
string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find
somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending
for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.'
Gandalf laughed. 'I hope he will. But nobody will read the
book, however it ends.'
'Oh, they may, in years to come. Frodo has read some already,
as far as it has gone. You'll keep an eye on Frodo, won't you?'
'Yes, I will — two eyes, as often as I can spare them.'
'He would come with me, of course, if I asked him. In fact he
offered to once, just before the party. But he does not really want
to, yet. I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the
Mountains; but he is still in love with the Shire, with woods and
fields and little rivers. He ought to be comfortable here. I am
leaving everything to him, of course, except a few oddments. I hope
he will be happy, when he gets used to being on his own. It's time he
was his own master now.'
'Everything?' said Gandalf. 'The ring as well? You agreed to
that, you remember.'
'Well, er, yes, I suppose so,' stammered Bilbo.
'Where is it?'
'In an envelope, if you must know,' said Bilbo
impatiently. 'There on the mantelpiece. Well, no! Here it is in my
pocket!' He hesitated. 'Isn't that odd now?' he said softly to
himself. 'Yet after all, why not? Why shouldn't it stay there?'
Gandalf looked again very hard at Bilbo, and there was a
gleam in his eyes. 'I think, Bilbo,' he said quietly, 'I should leave
it behind. Don't you want to?'
'Well yes — and no. Now it comes to it, I don't like parting
with it at all, I may say. And I don't really see why I should. Why
do you want me to?' he asked, and a curious change came over his
voice. It was sharp with suspicion and annoyance. 'You are always
badgering me about my ring; but you have never bothered me about the
other things that I got on my journey.'
'No, but I had to badger you,' said Gandalf. 'I wanted the
truth. It was important. Magic rings are — well, magical; and they
are rare and curious. I was professionally interested in your ring,
you may say; and I still am. I should like to know where it is, if
you go wandering again. Also I think you have had it quite long
enough. You won't need it any more, Bilbo, unless I am quite
Bilbo flushed, and there was an angry light in his eyes. His
kindly face grew hard. 'Why not?' he cried. 'And what business is it
of yours, anyway, to know what I do with my own things? It is my own.
I found it. It came to me.'
'Yes, yes,' said Gandalf. 'But there is no need to get angry.'
'If I am it is your fault,' said Bilbo. 'It is mine, I tell
you. My own. My precious. Yes, my precious.'
The wizard's face remained grave and attentive, and only a
flicker in his deep eyes showed that he was startled and indeed
alarmed. 'It has been called that before,' he said, 'but not by you.'
'But I say it now. And why not? Even if Gollum said the same
once. It's not his now, but mine. And I shall keep it, I say.'
Gandalf stood up. He spoke sternly. 'You will be a fool if
you do, Bilbo,' he said. 'You make that clearer with every word you
say. It has got far too much hold on you. Let it go! And then you can
go yourself, and be free.'
'I'll do as I choose and go as I please,' said Bilbo
'Now, now, my dear hobbit!' said Gandalf. 'All your long life
we have been friends, and you owe me something. Come! Do as you
promised: give it up!'
'Well, if you want my ring yourself, say so!' cried
Bilbo. 'But you won't get it. I won't give my precious away, I tell
you.' His hand strayed to the hilt of his small sword.
Gandalf's eyes flashed. 'It will be my turn to get angry
soon,' he said. 'If you say that again, I shall. Then you will see
Gandalf the Grey uncloaked.' He took a step towards the hobbit, and
he seemed to grow tall and menacing; his shadow filled the little
Bilbo backed away to the wall, breathing hard, his hand
clutching at his pocket. They stood for a while facing one another,
and the air of the room tingled. Gandalf's eyes remained bent on the
hobbit. Slowly his hands relaxed, and he began to tremble.
'I don't know what has come over you, Gandalf,' he said. 'You
have never been like this before. What is it all about? It is mine
isn't it? I found it, and Gollum would have killed me, if I hadn't
kept it. I'm not a thief, whatever he said.'
'I have never called you one,' Gandalf answered. 'And I am
not one either. I am not trying to rob you, but to help you. I wish
you would trust me, as you used.' He turned away, and the shadow
passed. He seemed to dwindle again to an old grey man, bent and
Bilbo drew his hand over his eyes. 'I am sorry,' he
said. 'But I felt so queer. And yet it would be a relief in a way not
to be bothered with it any more. It has been so growing on my mind
lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I
am always wanting to put it on and disappear, don't you know; or
wondering if it is safe, and pulling it out to make sure. I tried
locking it up, but I found I couldn't rest without it in my pocket. I
don't know why. And I don't seem able to make up my mind.'
'Then trust mine,' said Gandalf. 'It is quite made up. Go
away and leave it behind. Stop possessing it. Give it to Frodo, and I
will look after him.'
Bilbo stood for a moment tense and undecided. Presently he
sighed. 'All right,' he said with an effort. 'I will.' Then he
shrugged his shoulders, and smiled rather ruefully. 'After all that's
what this party business was all about, really: to give away lots of
birthday presents, and somehow make it easier to give it away at the
same time. It hasn't made it any easier in the end, but it would be a
pity to waste all my preparations. It would quite spoil the joke.'
'Indeed it would take away the only point I ever saw in the
affair,' said Gandalf.
'Very well,' said Bilbo, 'it goes to Frodo with all the
rest.' He drew a deep breath. 'And now I really must be starting, or
somebody else will catch me. I have said good-bye, and I couldn't
bear to do it all over again.' He picked up his bag and moved to the
'You have still got the ring in your pocket,' said the wizard.
'Well, so I have!' cried Bilbo. 'And my will and all the
other documents too. You had better take it and deliver it for me.
That will be safest.'
'No, don't give the ring to me,' said Gandalf. 'Put it on the
mantelpiece. It will be safe enough there, till Frodo comes. I shall
wait for him.'
Bilbo took out the envelope, but just as he was about to set
it by the clock, his hand jerked back, and the packet fell on the
floor. Before he could pick it up, the wizard stooped and seized it
and set it in its place. A spasm of anger passed swiftly over the
hobbit's face again. Suddenly it gave way to a look of relief and a
'Well, that's that,' he said. 'Now I'm off!'
They went out into the hall. Bilbo chose his favourite stick
from the stand; then he whistled. Three dwarves came out of different
rooms where they had been busy.
'Is everything ready?' asked Bilbo. 'Everything packed and
'Everything,' they answered.
'Well, let's start then!' He stepped out of the front-door.
It was a fine night, and the black sky was dotted with stars.
He looked up, sniffing the air. 'What fun! What fun to be off again,
off on the Road with dwarves! This is what I have really been longing
for, for years! Good-bye!' he said, looking at his old home and
bowing to the door. 'Good-bye, Gandalf!'
'Good-bye, for the present, Bilbo. Take care of yourself! You
are old enough, and perhaps wise enough.'
'Take care! I don't care. Don't you worry about me! I am as
happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But
the time has come. I am being swept off my feet at last,' he added,
and then in a low voice, as if to himself, he sang softly in the dark:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
He paused, silent for a moment. Then without another word he
turned away from the lights and voices in the fields and tents, and
followed by his three companions went round into his garden, and
trotted down the long sloping path. He jumped over a low place in the
hedge at the bottom, and took to the meadows, passing into the night
like a rustle of wind in the grass.
Gandalf remained for a while staring after him into the
darkness. 'Goodbye, my dear Bilbo — until our next meeting!' he said
softly and went back indoors.
Frodo came in soon afterwards, and found him sitting in the
dark, deep in thought. 'Has he gone?' he asked.
'Yes,' answered Gandalf, 'he has gone at last.'
'I wish — I mean, I hoped until this evening that it was only
a joke,' said Frodo. 'But I knew in my heart that he really meant to
go. He always used to joke about serious things. I wish I had come
back sooner, just to see him off.'
'I think really he preferred slipping off quietly in the
end,' said Gandalf. 'Don't be too troubled. He'll be all right — now.
He left a packet for you. There it is!'
Frodo took the envelope from the mantelpiece, and glanced at
it, but did not open it.
'You'll find his will and all the other documents in there, I
think,' said the wizard. 'You are the master of Bag End now. And
also, I fancy, you'll find a golden ring.'
'The ring!' exclaimed Frodo. 'Has he left me that? I wonder
why. Still, it may be useful.'
'It may, and it may not,' said Gandalf. 'I should not make
use of it, if I were you. But keep it secret, and keep it safe! Now I
am going to bed.'
As master of Bag End Frodo felt it his painful duty to say
good-bye to the guests. Rumours of strange events had by now spread
all over the field, but Frodo would only say no doubt everything will
be cleared up in the morning. About midnight carriages came for the
important folk. One by one they rolled away, filled with full but
very unsatisfied hobbits. Gardeners came by arrangement, and removed
in wheel-barrows those that had inadvertently remained behind.
Night slowly passed. The sun rose. The hobbits rose rather
later. Morning went on. People came and began (by orders) to clear
away the pavilions and the tables and the chairs, and the spoons and
knives and bottles and plates, and the lanterns, and the flowering
shrubs in boxes, and the crumbs and cracker-paper, the forgotten bags
and gloves and handkerchiefs, and the uneaten food (a very small
item). Then a number of other people came (without orders):
Bagginses, and Boffins, and Bolgers, and Tooks, and other guests that
lived or were staying near. By mid-day, when even the best-fed were
out and about again, there was a large crowd at Bag End, uninvited
but not unexpected.
Frodo was waiting on the step, smiling, but looking rather
tired and worried. He welcomed all the callers, but he had not much
more to say than before. His reply to all inquiries was simply
this: 'Mr. Bilbo Baggins has gone away; as far as I know, for good.'
Some of the visitors he invited to come inside, as Bilbo had
left 'messages' for them.
Inside in the hall there was piled a large assortment of
packages and parcels and small articles of furniture. On every item
there was a label tied. There were several labels of this sort:
For ADELARD TOOK, for his VERY OWN, from Bilbo; on an
umbrella. Adelard had carried off many unlabelled ones.
For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with
love from Bilbo; on a large waste-paper basket. Dora was Drogo's
sister and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo;
she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more
than half a century.
For MILO BURROWS, hoping it will be useful, from B.B; on a
gold pen and ink-bottle. Milo never answered letters.
For ANGELICA'S use, from Uncle Bilbo; on a round convex
mirror. She was a young Baggins, and too obviously considered her
For the collection of HUGO BRACEGIRDLE, from a contributor;
on an (empty) book-case. Hugo was a great borrower of books, and
worse than usual at returning them.
For LOBELIA SACKVILLE-BAGGINS, as a PRESENT; on a case of
silver spoons. Bilbo believed that she had acquired a good many of
his spoons, while he was away on his former journey. Lobelia knew
that quite well. When she arrived later in the day, she took the
point at once, but she also took the spoons.
This is only a small selection of the assembled presents.
Bilbo's residence had got rather cluttered up with things in the
course of his long life. It was a tendency of hobbit-holes to get
cluttered up: for which the custom of giving so many birthday-
presents was largely responsible. Not, of course, that the birthday-
presents were always new; there were one or two old mathoms of
forgotten uses that had circulated all around the district; but Bilbo
had usually given new presents, and kept those that he received. The
old hole was now being cleared a little.
Every one of the various parting gifts had labels, written
out personally by Bilbo, and several had some point, or some joke.
But, of course, most of the things were given where they would be
wanted and welcome. The poorer hobbits, and especially those of
Bagshot Row, did very well. Old Gaffer Gamgee got two sacks of
potatoes, a new spade, a woollen waistcoat, and a bottle of ointment
for creaking joints. Old Rory Brandybuck, in return for much
hospitality, got a dozen bottles of Old Winyards: a strong red wine
from the Southfarthing, and now quite mature, as it had been laid
down by Bilbo's father. Rory quite forgave Bilbo, and voted him a
capital fellow after the first bottle.
There was plenty of everything left for Frodo. And, of
course, all the chief treasures, as well as the books, pictures, and
more than enough furniture, were left in his possession. There was,
however, no sign nor mention of money or jewellery: not a penny-piece
or a glass bead was given away.
Frodo had a very trying time that afternoon. A false rumour
that the whole household was being distributed free spread like
wildfire; and before long the place was packed with people who had no
business there, but could not be kept out. Labels got torn off and
mixed, and quarrels broke out. Some people tried to do swaps and
deals in the hall; and others tried to make off with minor items not
addressed to them, or with anything that seemed unwanted or
unwatched. The road to the gate was blocked with barrows and
In the middle of the commotion the Sackville-Bagginses
arrived. Frodo had retired for a while and left his friend Merry
Brandybuck to keep an eye on things. When Otho loudly demanded to see
Frodo, Merry bowed politely.
'He is indisposed,' he said. 'He is resting.'
'Hiding, you mean,' said Lobelia. 'Anyway we want to see him
and we mean to see him. Just go and tell him so!'
Merry left them a long while in the hall, and they had time
to discover their parting gift of spoons. It did not improve their
tempers. Eventually they were shown into the study. Frodo was sitting
at a table with a lot of papers in front of him. He looked
indisposed — to see Sackville-Bagginses at any rate; and he stood up,
fidgeting with something in his pocket. But he spoke quite politely.
The Sackville-Bagginses were rather offensive. They began by
offering him bad bargain-prices (as between friends) for various
valuable and unlabelled things. When Frodo replied that only the
things specially directed by Bilbo were being given away, they said
the whole affair was very fishy.
'Only one thing is clear to me,' said Otho, 'and that is that
you are doing exceedingly well out of it. I insist on seeing the
Otho would have been Bilbo's heir, but for the adoption of
Frodo. He read the will carefully and snorted. It was, unfortunately,
very clear and correct (according to the legal customs of hobbits,
which demand among other things seven signatures of witnesses in red
'Foiled again!' he said to his wife. 'And after waiting sixty
years. Spoons? Fiddlesticks!' He snapped his fingers under Frodo's
nose and stumped off. But Lobelia was not so easily got rid of. A
little later Frodo came out of the study to see how things were going
on and found her still about the place, investigating nooks and
corners and tapping the floors. He escorted her firmly off the
premises, after he had relieved her of several small (but rather
valuable) articles that had somehow fallen inside her umbrella. Her
face looked as if she was in the throes of thinking out a really
crushing parting remark; but all she found to say, turning round on
the step, was:
'You'll live to regret it, young fellow! Why didn't you go
too? You don't belong here; you're no Baggins — you — you're a
'Did you hear that, Merry? That was an insult, if you like,'
said Frodo as he shut the door on her.
'It was a compliment,' said Merry Brandybuck, 'and so, of
course, not true.'
Then they went round the hole, and evicted three young
hobbits (two Boffins and a Bolger) who were knocking holes in the
walls of one of the cellars. Frodo also had a tussle with young
Sancho Proudfoot (old Odo Proudfoot's grandson), who had begun an
excavation in the larger pantry, where he thought there was an echo.
The legend of Bilbo's gold excited both curiosity and hope; for
legendary gold (mysteriously obtained, if not positively ill-gotten)
is, as every one knows, any one's for the finding — unless the search
When he had overcome Sancho and pushed him out, Frodo
collapsed on a chair in the hall. 'It's time to close the shop,
Merry,' he said. 'Lock the door, and don't open it to anyone today,
not even if they bring a battering ram.' Then he went to revive
himself with a belated cup of tea.
He had hardly sat down, when there came a soft knock at the
front-door. 'Lobelia again most likely,' he thought. 'She must have
thought of something really nasty, and have come back again to say
it. It can wait.'
He went on with his tea. The knock was repeated, much louder,
but he took no notice. Suddenly the wizard's head appeared at the
'If you don't let me in, Frodo, I shall blow your door right
down your hole and out through the hill,' he said.
'My dear Gandalf! Half a minute!' cried Frodo, running out of
the room to the door. 'Come in! Come in! I thought it was Lobelia.'
'Then I forgive you. But I saw her some time ago, driving a
pony-trap towards Bywater with a face that would have curdled new
'She had already nearly curdled me. Honestly, I nearly tried
on Bilbo's ring. I longed to disappear.'
'Don't do that!' said Gandalf, sitting down. 'Do be careful
of that ring, Frodo! In fact, it is partly about that that I have
come to say a last word.'
'Well, what about it?'
'What do you know already?'
'Only what Bilbo told me. I have heard his story: how he
found it, and how he used it: on his journey, I mean.'
'Which story, I wonder,' said Gandalf.
'Oh, not what he told the dwarves and put in his book,' said
Frodo. 'He told me the true story soon after I came to live here. He
said you had pestered him till he told you, so I had better know
too. "No secrets between us, Frodo," he said; "but they are not to go
any further. It's mine anyway."'
'That's interesting,' said Gandalf. 'Well, what did you think
of it all?'
'If you mean, inventing all that about a "present", well, I
thought the true story much more likely, and I couldn't see the point
of altering it at all. It was very unlike Bilbo to do so, anyway; and
I thought it rather odd.'
'So did I. But odd things may happen to people that have such
treasures — if they use them. Let it be a warning to you to be very
careful with it. It may have other powers than just making you vanish
when you wish to.'
'I don't understand,' said Frodo.
'Neither do I,' answered the wizard. 'I have merely begun to
wonder about the ring, especially since last night. No need to worry.
But if you take my advice you will use it very seldom, or not at all.
At least I beg you not to use it in any way that will cause talk or
rouse suspicion. I say again: keep it safe, and keep it secret!'
'You are very mysterious! What are you afraid of?'
'I am not certain, so I will say no more. I may be able to
tell you something when I come back. I am going off at once: so this
is good-bye for the present.' He got up.
'At once!' cried Frodo. 'Why, I thought you were staying on
for at least a week. I was looking forward to your help.'
'I did mean to — but I have had to change my mind. I may be
away for a good while; but I'll come and see you again, as soon as I
can. Expect me when you see me! I shall slip in quietly. I shan't
often be visiting the Shire openly again. I find that I have become
rather unpopular. They say I am a nuisance and a disturber of the
peace. Some people are actually accusing me of spiriting Bilbo away,
or worse. If you want to know, there is supposed to be a plot between
you and me to get hold of his wealth.'
'Some people!' exclaimed Frodo. 'You mean Otho and Lobelia.
How abominable! I would give them Bag End and everything else, if I
could get Bilbo back and go off tramping in the country with him. I
love the Shire. But I begin to wish, somehow, that I had gone too. I
wonder if I shall ever see him again.'
'So do I,' said Gandalf. 'And I wonder many other things.
Good-bye now! Take care of yourself! Look out for me, especially at
unlikely times! Good-bye!'
Frodo saw him to the door. He gave a final wave of his hand,
and walked off at a surprising pace; but Frodo thought the old wizard
looked unusually bent, almost as if he was carrying a great weight.
The evening was closing in, and his cloaked figure quickly vanished
into the twilight. Frodo did not see him again for a long time.
Copyright © 1954, 1965, 1966 by J.R.R. Tolkien;
1954 edition copyright © renewed 1982 by Christopher R. Tolkien,
Michael H.R. Tolkien, John F.R. Tolkien and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien;
1965/1966 editions copyright © renewed 1993, 1994 by Christopher R.
Tolkien, John F.R. Tolkien and Priscilla M.A.R. Tolkien.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.'
What Our Readers Are Saying
Average customer rating based on 1 comment:
Other books you might like
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z