Nothing of Note
Bilbo was bent over a map, carefully penning in some trees in green ink
when there was a sound outside that made him pause and look up
inquisitively, listening. He couldn't place it at first, what was
different about it but something made him drop his quill into the ink
bottle and hastily wipe the ink off his fingers. Leaving the map in the
midst of the others, he edged around the cluttered table and went to
the window to look out.
The summer sun was bright enough to make him squint, but when he heard
the distant voices again and saw the style of wagon that was
approaching along the lane, he was so excited he leaned part way out of
the open window, one hand buried in the sweetpeas that cascaded from
his windowbox as he waved his other vigorously. He turned and jogged
to his pantry to pull out a pair of pies, slid them onto his parlour
table, added a good half of a yellow cake from that morning that was
handy, topped off the water in the kettle and swung it over the kitchen
fire to heat then jogged to the door.
It was already ajar to let in the cool breezes, the sunlight streaming
over his green door made it hot to the touch as he pushed it open and
went out so quickly he nearly missed his footing on his own steps.
To mountains far, to mountains blue
Across the lands we come to you,
Our tools are sharp, our hands are strong
Unto the mountains we belong.
Deep dwarvish voices broke off and the one in the fore hailed the hobbit that had tumbled from the Hill so hastily.
"Halloo! Bilbo Baggins?"
"Yes! Yes, speaking!" Bilbo was delighted. Five dwarves and a sturdily
built dwarven wagon creaked up to his gate, pulled by a dusty grey mule
stout enough for two, another trailing behind on a lead. As soon
as he managed to come to a stop from his rapid descent of his steps, he
bowed courteously. "At your service!"
The dwarves bowed back. "Likewise, To you and to your family," they mumblingly chorused.
The first one bowed again more deeply. "Mr. Baggins, we bring you
greetings from the Erebor and a gift from Balin of the Lonely
"Balin! Oh, how wonderful!" Bilbo clasped his hands. If he were a child
he would have capered. "Yes, I had his letter last week. I can't tell
you how marvelous it is to have you here. You will be staying for tea?
And for supper?"
The speaker seemed slightly taken aback at his enthusiasm. "And for supper."
"Of course! Of course. There's plenty for all. Do come in - oh, wait.
There's stabling for your mules at the Inn just down and round a bit.
If you would like..."
"The wagon stays here with us."
"Of course," he knew Dwarves tended to be suspicious about leaving
their belongings out of sight. "If you would like to unhitch them, I'll
send a lad to take just the mules to the stables. Do come in, out of
the sun and have a bit to eat!"
The apparent leader of the group bowed to him thankfully and then
followed him up the steps while the others maneuvered the wagon into
the sideyard and unhitched. Bilbo settled the dwarf at the parlour
table with a large slice of pie and a mug of beer, then trotted back
out to hail a curious Daddy Twofoot who was nearby.
"Mr. Twofoot! Can you please have Halfred or whatever Gamgee is about sent up here quickly? I need an errand run right away."
Daddy Twofoot nodded and reluctantly turned away from the spectacle of
dwarves to go to the Gamgee residence. He need not have bothered, for
he wasn't halfway there when Samwise met him at a dead run. Bilbo could
see a brief message conveyed, as Dad pointed his direction; Sam nodded
and continued running.
Bilbo would have rather had the older brother to deal with the mules,
but decided Sam would have to do. Soon the lad was on his way to the
Inn looking very small indeed with two large grey mules following
along in docile single file behind him. Looking terribly curious and proud, he carefully clutched a coin for
the stablemaster. No
doubt bursting at the seams to tell the others in town about the
dwarves, thought Bilbo. He soon forgot about Sam, turning his attention
back to his guests.
The other four dwarves had finished up and were politely waiting for him to lead them up the steps.
"Welcome, welcome. This way, come in, yes, please do come in."
They each hung a light cloak on a peg, went into the parlour and
settled themselves in the chairs. It was time for introductions, Bilbo
knew, and as host he was expected to start it off.
"As you have said, my name is Bilbo Baggins, welcome to my home. Please, make yourselves comfortable."
The leader of the dwarves stood up, one hand smoothing his thick brown beard. "Bagin, at your service."
"Excuse me? I'm not sure I heard you right."
"Bagin, of Lonely Mountain."
"Bagin. I see. Thank you, Bagin. It was only your name seemed...familiar."
The dwarf grunted in his beard with a sound of mild mirth. "'Twas not
on purpose, Mr. Baggins, but I assure you Balin found humor in it as
The second dwarf stood, his dark beard bobbing as he spoke. "Dwadul, at your service. And this is my brother..."
The third one had stood almost in tandem with him. "Twadul, at your service, Mr. Baggins."
"Good heavens. Is that really your name?"
There was a mildly annoyed noise."Why do you ask?"
Bilbo suddenly realized he had said that comment out loud. He scrambled
to smooth it over. "Oh...nothing really of note, I suppose. No
disrespect, of course. It is a very serviceable set of names, I am
sure. Very respectable. Suits you." He turned to the other two to
quickly move on.
"Grumblin." offered the next one briefly. Bagin gave him a nudge with his elbow. He bobbed a brief half-bow. "At your service."
"Ümlat," offered the last more cheerfully. "At your service, and
that of your family. Your hospitality is greatly appreciated by all of
us." His reddish beard was slightly shorter than the others, and his
mannerisms younger. Bilbo couldn't help but remember Fili, and Kili, a
bittersweet memory. Introductions done, all of the dwarves seated
themselves again and took up generous helpings of pie as Bilbo brought
"We've many miles yet to go," said Bagin. He had been looking around the room curiously as he ate. "You've many maps."
Bilbo smiled. "That I have. It is an especial interest of mine. I've
found most of the maps available in the Shire to be lacking in several
features and have been filling them in as I'm able, as well as adding
in and correcting a few errors in other maps I've had from Men and...
other people. Some of them need translation also... More cake?"
"Yes, thank you." Bagin helped himself to a large portion. "I would interested in seeing what you have of the Blue Mountains."
"Not nearly enough. It's an area that I was rather hoping you would be able to help me with, in fact."
He raised his eyebrows. "It is near your own land. Do your maps not show them?"
Bilbo shook his head. "I can see you do not know much of Hobbits," he
said wryly. "While I love my own folk dearly, they have a certain
blindness to the world beyond their own borders. Most maps in the Shire
do not bother to show anything outside the four Farthings of our land.
Hobbits do not travel much, nor have any desire to do so."
"Yet you travel. I have heard of your bravery at Erebor, which is many leagues from here."
"I am considered most... unusual among my own folk. Here, let me show
you..." he turned and flipped through a stack near the window then
carefully slipped a thick scroll out from the bottom. "Ah, here it
is." He unrolled it on the table, weighing down the edge with
"The Blue Mountains," observed Bagin, tracing along the ridges with a
calloused finger. "Not very detailed, but fairly accurate."
"Thank you. I am hoping more detail can be added if you or any of your
companions are familiar with them, or corrections made if needed."
"Familiar?" laughed Bagin. "I should say so! While Ümlat and
myself are from Erebor, Grumblin, Dwadul and Twadul all hail from the
Blue Mountains and are just returning home."
At the sound of their names, the others had their attention drawn from
their own conversation and food to come see the map in question. They
made assorted noises that left Bilbo unsure of what they thought of
Twadul stabbed a finger at a place on the map. "There should be a deep
gully marked here. More of a canyon, really. Good springwater to be had
there. And over here, Dwadul, he hasn't your ridge at all."
His brother leaned over to see. "A grievous omission, Master Hobbit.
Whatever should my wife say if I did not correct it? She is most proud
of that ridge, and keeps a fine home within it."
Bilbo smiled. "Well, we shall have to correct it without delay then! If
you would be so kind as to lightly sketch it in, I will ink it in this
He watched as the dwarf very carefully sketched in the missing ridge
with great concentration. "Has it been long since you were home?"
"Too long," he replied, finishing the sketch. His hand lingered on the
faint ridge. "Too long. My Zîm is strong, and well able to
care for herself, but I miss her."
"And Zadîm." added Twadul.
"Yes, Zadîm," said Dwadul a bit wistfully. "My son. He was just getting his baby
beard when I left. He'll be walking by now, and swinging his first
hammer before long... Have you any children, Mr. Baggins?"
Bilbo shook his head. "No, no children. No wife."
"Who will carry on your family line for you, then? Have you brothers?"
"No, no brothers either."
"You will not live forever. You should give thought to an heir."
Bilbo smiled. "It is kind of you to be concerned, but do not waste your
worries on me. In fact, I've very recently chosen an heir for my home
and goods, so all is well."
He meant it too. He hadn't realized what a burden that situation had
been until it was lifting away. He knew inherited lines meant
much more to Dwarves than to Hobbits. Hobbits loved to know who was
related to whom, but they each had their own lives to live. Dwarves
tended to take on the concerns of the previous Dwarf, so that the
matters of a family would continue over hundreds and hundreds of years.
He considered their viewpoint and added "I haven't any longstanding debts or grievances to pass on, so yes, it is well."
They nodded. "An inheritance without grievance is greatly to be
desired," said Bagin. "Which reminds me, we have finished this repast
for now. Time to bring in your gift!"
"I'm not done." said Grumblin as he reached for his plate.
"A maker of such maps not to be looked down upon." Bagin said sternly.
Grumblin muttered something under his breath, took a buttered roll with
him and made no more protest. The five of them headed down to the
wagon, followed by Bilbo.