Nothing of Note
1: Mad Baggins in the Spring
It was Spring again. He was sure of it. His 98th spring to be exact, so
he'd had lots of practice. Bilbo unlatched the shutters, swept
his hand across the fogged west window and smiled out the dripping
little space he had cleared. The plants outside looked the same
as they had the day before, but he still "felt" it. Spring had
come. Heading into the kitchen, he stirred up the banked fire and
placed a fresh kettle of water on to heat for tea, then trotted down
the hall to his wardrobe to choose a sufficiently springlike attire to
suit his mood for the day.
By the time the kettle was singing, he was dressed and poking around in
the pantry for a breakfast cake to go with his eggs. His
daffodil-colored waistcoat and green woolen trousers were just the
ticket to shake off the doldrums of a wet and muddy winter, and
especially if topped off with a good warm plate of eggs inside. How
cheering to think of winter receding away, even though by all accounts
it had not been a very bad one. The ice-fringed mud and grey
skies were wearisome to look at, and he had spent most of the preceding
months indoors, entertaining visitors, studying and writing in his
book. Mostly the former.
In winter he found his large, warm and generally luxurious (by local
standards) hole all too often attracting every relative in the Shire
and others who could not even pretend to be remotely related. It
seemed that everyone wanted to enjoy his hospitality, his large
fireplaces and especially his pantries. He had given up on trying
to keep up with all of their prodigious appetites himself and finally
hired a cook to come restock his shelves thrice weekly, and even then
there were times he was hard put to fill every plate. While the
expense was not really a burden to him and the songs were merry, he had
grown tired of forever entertaining. It felt as if he never really had
enough quiet time to himself, time to just think, and dream and
write. Time to learn new things, or to explore.
He had vague memories of being very much like the hobbits that filled
his entryway, his kitchen and his parlor. Content to hash and
rehash the same tales of small doings in the Shire, they never strayed
beyond the unmarked boundaries of their minds. While he enjoyed a
good talk as much as the next fellow, he sometimes found their topics
too well-trodden, and longed to say "Look here, we've already talked
about that last week and the week before, and now here it comes again.
Let's turn off the path, shall we? Let's see what's over that ridge,
over there!" But they never would. He had tried it, from time to
time. Their reactions, for the most part, were incomprehension and even
a little fear. They did not want to leave their pathways, whose
conclusions they knew by heart. They were comfortable the way it was.
Yes, he had a few who enjoyed a good romp through the imagination. All
younger than himself by a great deal. They would come to listen to him
and to ask questions until their elders pulled them away or distracted
them with a sweet. As to the older ones, the worst of the lot
were the Sackville-Bagginses of course; it seemed they were forever
showing up at his home though all they did was eat his provender and
inquire after his health. Only a very few of his relations showed
any real spirit, and when he thought about it, only one that was
anything like a close relative. His family was insufferably dull
All these thoughts and more went through his mind as he washed up from
breakfast and made his plans for the day. He set down his tea mug
on the rack with a thump and also set down a resolve that he would not
entertain any visitors today. It was warmer outside, he could see
it. Still chilly, yes, but at last he could have the freedom to
leave a visitor out on the front step and know that they would not
freeze to death. And if they did, well, they should have brought
a thicker coat. No amount of cheerfulness would sway him, no excuses or
obligations would make their way past him this day. No, they would not.
He would be steadfast. He would enjoy the peace indoors and the
warmth, what there was of it, outdoors. Yes, outdoors.
Sure enough as he was packing up a snack and tucking it into the
largest pocket of his favorite out-and-about coat, the bell rang on his
door. He squared his shoulders and opened it. Two hobbits,
Mssrs. Bump and Green, stood on his doorstep with tentative smiles of
greeting that faded as he gave them a sharp up and down appraisal.
Young Mr. Bump took breath to say something but it never came.
"Nope." said Bilbo peering at them closely, as if they were strange
specimens. "Not related to me. Not a bit of Baggins in those
faces. I can tell. Good morning."
He shut the door.
He waited silently inside, pressing his ear to the door to listen to
them. They muttered between themselves in confusion. He heard the
welcome sound of their fading footsteps and grinned a little,
congratulating himself on the success of it. He headed back down
the hall to select a walking stick when his doorbell rang again.
He frowned, finished choosing his walking stick and returned to the
door. He opened it. On the step stood the Mrs. Goodbody and her
tweenaged son, Offal. He remembered them well, for Offal had consumed
vast quantities of sausages the last time they had visited, to the
point that the others were betting on whether or not his stomach would
explode. The younger hobbit had a hungry look.
"Mr. Baggins!" said Mrs. Goodbody brightly. "Fine day..."
"No, it isn't." replied Bilbo, as if stating a very obvious fact.
"There are two hobbits on my doorstep, and it quite blocks my view. Not
a fine day at all. Good morning."
He shut the door.
Again, he listened for a moment as she worked up a good head of steam
and began righteously blustering to her disappointed son. He
reached over and threw the latch for good measure, knowing they would
undoubtably hear it. They did. The voices retreated to the
roadway and passed off to the right, finally fading from his hearing as
he sifted through the hats on the shelf for his brown walking hat, the
one that kept his ears warm. It was up there somewhere. The shelf
in the hall tended to be a catch-all for anything that had no other
place to go. He paused to fetch a small jug of cider from the
kitchen to fill his canteen with.
To his irritation, he heard footsteps once again approaching his door.
He didn't know who it was and he no longer cared. He only had a few
moments to think of what to do...
The bell rang.
He reached up and scooped his hand across the shelf, scoring a rather
heavy decorative chain. It was meant to hold back the heavy winter
drapes in his bedroom, but he immediately saw other potential in
it. Ah yes, and those! And that! Draping the golden
chain around his neck, he leaned over and rapidly jammed his feet into
the dusty dwarvish boots that had been left behind by another sort of
visitor. He reached up and jammed three hats, one on top of another
onto his head, grabbed the small hatchet that sat near the door for
chopping kindling and opened the door.
The visitor on his doorstep was the sharp-nosed Mrs. Proudfoot
clutching a basket. He never did find out what her errand was coming to
"G....." was all she got out of her throat.
"Mrs. Proudfoot!" exclaimed Bilbo, trying not to trip over the
unfamiliar boots. "I was just about to sit down to my daily lesson of
Dwarvish. The hatchet works so well on the seedcakes..." he paused to
swig a drink straight out of the cider jug. "Would you care to join
me?" He waggled his eyebrows at her.
"B...." she said.
He shut the door.
This time he was hard pressed to not guffaw so loudly she would hear
him, though she beat such a hasty retreat he was really in no danger of
it. He pulled off the boots, chain and multiple hats, located his own
singular brown one and decided to leave by the back door. Tongues
would wag, he chuckled to himself, yes they would but what was one more
tale about him? At least he would have a little peace to enjoy the