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    Q&A | August 26, 2015

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    Describe your latest book. Secondhand Souls is the sequel to my bestselling novel A Dirty Job, which was about a single dad in San Francisco who... Continue »
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The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #01)

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The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #01) Cover

ISBN13: 9780618002221
ISBN10: 0618002227
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Excerpt

'THE HOBBIT

Chapter I

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

shady hat.

"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

The Hill.

"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

anyone."

"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

business."

"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

the bell.

"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

breast.

"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

stick!

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

afresh.

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

clear up!"

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

instruments!"

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

their music.

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,

Under-Hill, again.

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

Thorin began.

"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

moment.

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

coal."

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

Mountain."

"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."

"Why?"

"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

to Bilbo.

"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

hours?"

"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

back alive?"

"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

North.

"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

you since—"

"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

Necromancer."

"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

key."

"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

BOOK ONE

Chapter 1

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

queer.'

'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.'

'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

boat.'

'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

onlookers.

'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

it.'

'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

height.

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

started.

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

age.

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

matter much.

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

compliment.

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

inheritance'.

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

prank.

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

again.

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

arrangements.

\'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

mistaken.'

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

obstinately.

'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

room.

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

troubled.

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

door.

'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

laugh.

'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

labelled?'

'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

face shapely.

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

handcarts.

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

will.'

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

ink).

'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

Brandybuck!'

'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

is interrupted.

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

window.

'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

milk.'

'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.'

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Mangacraze16, November 10, 2010 (view all comments by Mangacraze16)
C.S Lewis said: "Here [are] beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron. Here is a book which will break your heart." He was right. 'The fellowship of the ring' is one of the most beautifully crafted books in our world. It is filled to the brim with ancient language that is beautiful, noble, and wonderful. Tolkien created his own language. His story is everything good in the world. The good people in his novel are noble, and would not hesitate to lend a hand to even the most evil. He writes a story which is uplifting. The story has everything, love, hate, travels, battles, death, life, (torture, revenge, true love... just kidding:) ) It is a novel of the ages, and a book like it will not be seen for a long time.

although, i must warn you, it is hard reading, and if you don't like big books filled with hard words, you should probably find something else.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780618002221
Subtitle:
Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings
Author:
Tolkien, J. R. R.
Notes by:
Anderson, Douglas A.
Author:
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Author:
Anderson, Douglas A.
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
Boston :
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
British and irish fiction (fictional works by
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Subject:
Fantasy - Series
Subject:
Fantasy - Epic
Subject:
Middle earth (Imaginary place)
Subject:
Adventure fiction
Subject:
Baggins, Frodo (Fictitious character)
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Epic
Copyright:
Edition Number:
2nd ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series:
Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien (Paperback)
Series Volume:
02
Publication Date:
September 1999
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 x 1 in 0.91 pd
Age Level:
from 12

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Related Subjects

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Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
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The Fellowship of the Ring (Lord of the Rings #01) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 432 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618002221 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron."
"Review" by , "Exciting...Tolkien's invention is unflagging."
"Synopsis" by , Elves, dwarves, hobbits, and men are caught in the spell of an evilring that corrupts, in this classic Tolkien bestseller. Maps.
"Synopsis" by ,
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in THE HOBBIT. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
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