Nothing of Note

by Primula

2: Westward Wandering

Bilbo shrugged his shoulders into his coat, gathered up his walking stick and padded down the long hall and out the back door of Bag End.  The Springtime air that greeted him was full and fresh, and he pulled deep draughts of it into his lungs with great appreciation. He hadn't realized how stuffy it had been inside until he was out. The scents of the damp earth with its sleepy plants mixed with the woodsmoke coming from assorted chimneys near the Hill.  He turned down the garden path and slipped through the gap in the hedge, striking off across the heavily dewed field. Once away from the Hill, he paused and leaned on a large rock to catch his breath a little and to give thought to where he was going. He had gone a bit North-east last time, and he knew the Southern and Eastern ends fairly well. Perhaps it would be good to go West. He tried to think of what was over in that direction, or if there were any hobbits that might make a good visit.

Gazing westward he found his eyes drawn to the far off hills, lit by the early morning sun as they were under the grey sky they seemed to glow. They seemed very bright and very inviting, and as he pondered on them it occurred to him that he while he knew there were some sort of towers of Elven design on those hills, he had never really seen them up close himself.  They were very far, but what a grand thought, something Elven on the borders of his own Shire that he hadn't seen yet!  Filled with excitement at the prospect of exploring them, he abandoned his earlier plan of a simple walk and decided he would make an expedition to them. A real expedition. Today. He turned and retraced his steps to Bag End. He would need provisions, and better traveling clothes, and something to write in, of course...  The day had started grey, but it was breaking up into bits of blue already. If he waited for it to be dry, he might never get started. The road was calling to him, and he was glad to step back onto it, if only for a short while.

Back inside he gathered his traveling things with a practiced hand. Most of them were standing ready, always prepared ahead for any whim that might strike him. He added a few additional items to it, his tightly rolled cloak, extra handkerchiefs and a little traveling money for the Inn. This would be more than a days trip, after all.  Perhaps several days now that he thought about it more fully.   He went into his study to look at the maps of the West Farthing and wandered into reading a book that lay open beside the map. Before he knew it, he had lost a precious hour of the day and hadn't even left his own hole.  I should know better, he berated himself, than to let my nose be caught in a book on a morning like this!   Choosing a small folded map, he tucked it inside his leather note-book, tucked both into an oiled packet to keep them dry, added it to his bulging pack and turned to go.  A glance out the window told him it was clearing nicely. He grabbed a quick lunch and once more headed towards his back door before reversing himself and going out the front instead.

Ever since that long-ago day when he had returned to find his belongings up for sale he had been slightly hesitant to leave Bag End alone for long so his neighbors were not surprised when he showed up at the door. It was not the first time.

Daisy opened the door, clutching her wrap against the morning chill with little Marigold peering around her skirts.

"Yes, Mr. Baggins?  The Gaffer is already gone over to the Square if you're needin' him. It's time to be buyin' seeds, you know, though goodness knows I think he has enough of them already, boxes and boxes of them under his bed. A body would think..."

"Miss Gamgee," said Bilbo, cutting her off gently as he knew she would natter on for some time if he allowed it. "I'm not needing him at all. I just wanted to let you know I am off. I'm not sure quite where I'm going...West, I think.  I'm not sure really when I will be back, but could you let anyone who comes around... That is, if you see anyone... looking in my windows and such, well, could you let them that I fully intend to return?"

Marigold stuck part of Daisy's apron into her mouth and chewed on it, smiling at him. Daisy bobbed a small polite curtsey. "Of course, Mr. Baggins. No problem at all. I'll be sure to tell the Gaffer when he gets back, and Halfred too as he's helping with the seeds this year. They both are planning for some grand flowerbeds..."

"Yes, yes." interrupted Bilbo. "Well, the hour is moving on and I must be on my way. Good-bye, Miss Gamgee." He politely touched his cap and nodded to her then moved  away towards the gate.

Somewhere inside the smial he heard two other children start squabbling, then Bell's distracted voice. "Daisy? Who's at the door...?"

"Oh, of course, sir. Good-bye, sir! Fine day for walking, I'm sure..."

He didn't reply. To do so would only be to prolong her tongue-wagging, cheerful though it was. He did not wish for any more socializing this morning. The Gamgee's gate swung easily under his hand and he was out on the road, hearing her muffled answer to her mother as she closed the door somewhere behind him.

Ah. The cool, hard-packed surface felt good to his feet. It was right. No, better than that. It was perfect, utterly perfect on a day like this.  The road stretched ahead of him. He headed West.