"You know," said Bilbo charitably, "You could stand to lose a bit of weight."
The fireplace popped as if in reply. He looked over at his lone
table-mate, Bombur. The other Dwarves had already finished their
breakfasting and gone to their own errands, leaving their hobbit in the
company of their largest relative. The two had been companionably
finishing off the rest of the food, but now even Bilbo was getting
quite stuffed and Bombur showed no sign of slowing.
"I disagree," retorted Bombur. "Dwarves pack away their treasures
and then are forever fearing they will lose them. No such thing
"What do you mean?"
"I pack it all away; the very best and the most tasty treasures.
I keep them safely too. Here!" He patted his impressively expansive
paunch. "See these rolls? They are a banner of courageous
eating! Why would I want to lose them?"
"So you can keep walking?" Bilbo suggested with his own mouth full of buttered roll.
"Walking? Why should I? I've already seen more paths, rocks
and trees than I ever should have. None of them can compare to
this." He held up a bright spoonful of jelly. "Hah? I remember nothing
but short commons while walking. No more gritty cram for me,
tasting of old, damp packs. No, no more of that."
"I didn't mean a walk clear to the Sea," Bilbo said with slight
irritation. "I meant, well, just… walking. Going out and about, getting
a bit of air."
"I have air," Bombur replied, adding an additional spoonful of jelly to
his own roll. He smiled and breathed loudly for emphasis.
"Perhaps. But not fresh air."
"It's fresh enough."
"Shouldn't you miss the sky?"
"Perhaps you should miss the sky," he grunted. "I'm a Dwarf, friend
Bilbo. Or hadn't you noticed? I am quite content where I
am. Pass the butter."
The hobbit pushed the dwindling block of white butter across to
him. "It's going to get mighty difficult to keep at your
treasure-gathering when you can no longer get at the table."
"Mmh?" Bombur swigged a gulp of beer.
"Unless your arms are going to grow longer with the rest of your
expansion. You must realize that eventually your own appetite
will outgrow your reach." He leaned back and waved his arms at his
plate as if it were too far away.
Bombur snorted. "I can reach."
"Now you can. But think on it. When you make bread and leave the dough to rise in a small bowl, what happens?"
Bombur looked at him blankly.
"Don't you ever bake?"
"Only when the forges are too hot."
There was a pause and Bilbo digested the idea that such an obvious
gourmand had not tried his own hand at producing the food he
ate. "All right then… let me tell you. After you make
up the bread sponge, you pick a warm place and let it rise. But
if the bowl you put it in is too small…"
"How big is small?" Bombur interrupted curiously.
Bilbo held out his hands to measure. "Say, like so. Like a
salad bowl, or an egg bowl. You need a big one, like so!
But this time let's say you weren't thinking and put it in your egg
bowl. A smallish one, for about a dozen eggs."
"Do you have one of those?" Bombur ate some of his own eggs.
"I did. But that's not the point. The point is the dough is now in a small bowl."
"No, it isn't. That's what I'm saying. It puffs up.
It grows! And after a while, the dough will overflow the bowl and hang
down off the edges. It might even stick to the table."
"And then you call yourself a fool for putting it in a small bowl, scrape it up, punch it down and knead it."
"Except that part isn't what I was talking about."
"What were you talking about?"
"Bread. I mean, your weight. Size."
"You outgrowing your, er, bowl."
Bombur laughed and picked up a large forkful of eggs, popping it in his
mouth for emphasis. "So…mmyom, You'll punch me down? Haw!"
Bilbo rolled his eyes and gave it one more try. "If you grow too far
out, you not only won't be able to reach the table, you won't be able
to leave your bed to even come to the table."
"Then I'll sleep right here!" Bombur said with good humor. "Under a
blanket of pancakes, with my head upon a lump of butter. Just
like any good hunk of dough. Pass the pepper."
Bilbo sighed, passed the pepper grinder and went back to finishing up his own meal.