Fellowship of the Ring
1-1-2. A Long-Expected Party
But let us go back seventeen years, to an evening in early September when the chief topic of conversation at the Ivy Bush Tavern in Hobbiton was Mr. Bilbo Baggins.
[Hobbits talk amongst themselves in the background]
You can say what you like, Gaffer Gamgee, but Bag End's a queer place, and its folk are queerer!
Mr. Bilbo is a very nice, well-spoken gentlehobbit, Ted Sandyman, and don't you go saying otherwise.
But what about this Frodo that lives with him? Baggins is his name, but he's more than half a Brandybuck.
Ay, Gaffer. Sandyman's right there. And they're rum folk in Buckland, living on the wrong side of Brandywine River and all.
Be that as it may, Daddy Twofoot. Mr. Frodo is a Baggins. He's Mr. Bilbo's nephew and his first and second cousin. And anyhow, he's as nice a young hobbit as you could wish to meet.
Well, there's still some as think that when young Frodo's parents up'd and died, Mr. Bilbo ought to have left well-enough alone.
And there's still some as think Mr. Bilbo did him a great kindness by adopting him as his heir, and bringing him back here to live among decent folk.
To live among queer folk, I says.
[Daddy Twofoot laughs]
Well, I've gardened for Mr. Bilbo more years than I care to remember; I finds him decent enough. And so does my lad, Sam. He's always in and out of Bag End. Mr. Bilbo's learned him his letters.
[Sandyman laughs, indignantly]
Well, meaning no harm, mind you. I hope no harm will come of it.
Well, if you know so much about the goings on at Bag End, what's all this talk of a party?
It's to be a birthday party. Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo have the same birthday, you know.
September the 22nd. This year, Mr. Frodo will be thirty-three, come of age. And Mr. Bilbo will be eleventy-one, and a very respectable age too for a hobbit.
Ah, Gaffer's right, there. Well, the Old Took himself only reached one-hundred and thirty.
And Mr. Bilbo's certainly well preserved for his age. Why, he don't look no different now to what he did when he was ninety. Or come to that, when he was fifty!
Well preserved? Unchanged would be nearer the mark. Some folk have all the luck! Anyway, who's going to this here party?
My Sam says that everyone's going to be invited. And there's going to be presents, mark you, presents for all!
[Daddy Twofoot laughs]
This very month, as is.
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[A fireplace crackles]
Honestly, Frodo, I shall be glad when September the 22nd's been and gone.
Why, what's up?
Half Hobbiton's up. They're standing outside Bag End as if they expected to see a dragon pop out any minute.
Our party certainly seems to be causing rather a lot of excitement.
Well, I put up a notice on the gate, now, saying, "No admittance expect on party business." So perhaps we'll have a little peace and quiet for a while.
[Someone knocks on the door and Frodo laughs quickly]
[He opens the door]
Oh, uh, I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you, Mr. Bilbo, sir.
No, no, no, no! It's alright, Sam. What can I do for you?
Nothing, Mr. Bilbo. I met the postman from Bywater on his way up here with another bundle of replies to those party invitations of yours. And as the poor fellow'd been up here four times already today, I said as how I'd delivery them for him.
Well, thank you, Sam.
[He retrieves the letters]
Not at all, Mr. Bilbo. Eh... may I say how much me and the Gaffer's looking forward to your party?
Well, a party at Bag End without the Gamgees would be unthinkable!
Hoo, well, anyway, if you'll excuse me, I best be getting on with trimming that there hedge of yours.
Ah, very good, Sam. And thank you again for playing postman.
My pleasure, Mr. Bilbo!
[The door closes]
Now, then, Frodo. Now, you start on these...
...and I'll open this lot.
[Papers rustle as they open the letters]
Um... "Thank you for your kind invitation. I should be very pleased to come. Rorymack Brandybuck." Good old Rory.
Oh, bless my soul, Frodo, listen to this: "We wish to acknowledge your invitation and to notify you of our acceptance. Otho and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins."
Well, you didn't think they'd miss it, did you?
I suppose not. But I'm sure they're not at all happy that I made you my heir.
[Heavy knocking on the door]
Oh! Now who is it?
[Frodo laughs. Bilbo clears his throat and opens the door]
Well, Mr. Baggins, you needn't look so surprised.
But what on earth have you got in that cart?
[Frodo gasps quietly behind them]
Surely you weren't planning a party without fireworks?
My word, it's a good many years since any of Gandalf's fireworks were seen in the Shire.
Well, Wizards have more important business to attend to than making elf-fountains and goblin barkers for the entertainment of hobbits. Now then, how long are you going to keep me standing on the doorstep?
Oh, I'm sorry, Gandalf, I'm sorry. Come in, come in.
Thank you. Ah. Hello, Frodo.
H - hello, Gandalf.
[He clears his throat]
D - did I hear you say something about fireworks?
I always thought Gandalf's fireworks were a hobbit legend!
Did you now?
Can I take a peek?
You can do better than that!
Yes, you can make sure no young hobbits go sneaking off with any.
[Frodo laughs with excitement]
Not a single squib, mark you.
And that includes you, Frodo.
Oh... very well.
[The door closes]
Now, sit down, Gandalf. We'll have a pipe of Old Toby together, and you can tell me your news.
Thank you, Bilbo. There's no pipe-weed to compare with that of the Shire. I've missed it. As to news, well that, for the moment must wait. Well now...
[He draws from the pipe]
...this is pleasant. I must say, your garden's looking very bright.
Yes, Sam and his father keep it well for me, and I'm very fond of it, and of all the dear old Shire; but I think I need a holiday.
Oh, 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's 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...
Well, I hope so.
...and for all of us.
I mean to enjoy myself on Thursday, have my little joke.
Who will laugh, I wonder.
We shall see.- - - - -
Eventually, after much excitement, Thursday, September the 22nd actually came.
[Sounds of various fizzes, rockets, explosions, and awed hobbits are heard]
That is the signal for supper!
[The crowd cheers]
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[Members of the eating crowd talk among themselves. A sharp rapping hushes the group]
My dear people!
Oh dear, I think Bilbo's about to make a speech.
["Yes, we're here"] and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, ["That's right"] and Grubbs, and Chubbs, ["Yes?"] Burrowses, and Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses, ["Oh yes..."] and Proudfoots ["Proudfeet!"].My dear Bagginses and Boffins,
[The crowd laughs]
Proudfoots. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End.
And while you're 'filling up the corners' as we hobbits put it, I hope you'll permit me a few words.
[The crowd cheers and bang on the table]
Today is my hundred and eleventh birthday. I'm eleventy-one today.
[They cheer loudly, banging and blowing noise-makers]
And I hope...
[They quiet down]
I hope you're all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.
[Noise-makers whirl. Cries of 'yes' (and 'no') are heard. They laugh]
Well, I shan't keep you long.
But I've called you together for a Purpose. 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.
I don't know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you as well as you deserve.
Thank you - eh...
And secondly I've called you all together to celebrate my birthday.
Or I should say our birthday. For it is of course, also the birthday of my nephew and heir, Frodo. He comes of age and comes into his inheritance today.
Did you hear that, Otho? What does he mean, inheritance?
I don't know, Lobelia, but I don't like the sound of it at all.
...Together our years total one hundred and forty-four. Your numbers were chosen to fit this remarkable total: one Gross, if I may use the expression.
One Gross, indeed!
Nasty, vulgar expression.
Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an announcement.
[A hobbit girl speaks out, and is shushed by her father]
I regret to announce that, although 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.
[A firework explodes]
[The crowd reacts: "Where did he go?" "He vanished!" "One minute he was there, the next he's gone." "Yes..." "How did he do it?" "Did anyone see what happened?"]
How extremely bad mannered.
He's mad. I always said so: mad.
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