The Beginning of a Dangerous Business

by Orangeblossom Took

Hobbiton, 2941 (Shire Reckoning)

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Bilbo Baggins

A comfortable-looking hobbit sat in front of his green door in the bright sunshine. The door was attached to a most splendid smial for he was not an ordinary hobbit, although he was not himself aware that that he enjoyed any special distinction, aside from greater than usual wealth and possession of the most beautiful hobbit hole in the entire Shire. There were inherited assets and he himself had done little in his life. This was not unusual for a hobbit of his station and means but he had not even married and had produced no family to pass along his wealth to, although he had long since come of age.

Bilbo did not know why this was the case or, if he was to be truthful with himself, he did. There were lasses he fancied and there had certainly been lasses who fancied him, the only child of a Took-Baggins union. Oh, he knew he had an amiable way about him and typical, not-unattractive hobbit looks which were enhanced by the addition of the sharp, intelligent black eyes he inherited from his mother. She often said that he was her little Took in Baggins clothing. Those eyes were startling, residing as they did in a pink-cheeked face under a mop of brown curls. This intrigued some lasses almost as much as his money.

Bilbo sighed. Maybe that was the crux of the problem. Most girls were more interested in his money than himself. He had danced and conversed with many lasses at parties and festivals but he never felt the desire to pursue one, even though he had “walked out” with a couple in earlier days. The lasses grew tired of his good-natured indifference eventually and moved on to more pliant targets. Any pretenses he made towards courting had become scarce in recent years. At this point in his life, that suited the Master of Bag End. He was still young enough to start a family, especially for one of Took blood, but he was comfortable by himself and liked being alone in his big, comfortable smial with his books.

He would find some younger relation to leave it all to when, on what was probably some distant day, he expired. It was his and he loved it but it had not been built for him, had it? His father had built it for his mother and she was gone. She died at eighty, a respectable age but somewhat young for a Took. Of course, sometimes Tooks left on adventures at a young age and never returned. His mother told him about some of the adventures of her relations but had been evasive about her own, which Bilbo sensed had taken a toll on her.

“Yes,” Bilbo thought, “Adventures are nasty things.”

Yet, why as he sitting here smoking his pipe and gazing at the road? Surely it was not to hear Mrs. Proudfoot screeching at her husband. He did not want to be bound to a wife and children but was he really content to spend solitary days that blended into each other?

Bilbo contemplated his perfect smoke ring as it floated away to dissipate in the azure sky. Why did he feel as if he was waiting for something important?

He grumbled and muttered to himself, “I am too old for foolishness and too young for senility. It is nothing and I should go inside for elevenses, at least until Mrs. Proudfoot ceases her harangue.”

He had barely finished this thought when he saw a tall figure garbed in grey walking towards him. It would be some time before he would realize how completely that day, which started in such an ordinary fashion, would alter the course of his life and the lives of so many others as well.