Nothing of Note
Chapter 66: Gifts
It had taken nearly a week, Bilbo reflected as he closed the drawer on
his writing desk, and September was moving on apace but it had been
time well spent.
At last he had the final witnessing signatures he
needed for the adoption papers - and he was very pleased with himself
that he had managed to go about it so quietly, as if it were simply one
more thing that was needed for the original
Will. After all, there'd been more than enough stir about all this
business already, and the legal difference would mean little to most
Hobbits, even if it were their business which it was not. He
considered it sufficient that he would begin referring to Frodo as his
nephew, and they would become used to it in time. Only one remained to
be added and, as before, it was Frodo's.
The time was going by so quickly, there was so much to be done. He had spent
a fair bit of time setting up his household with two hobbits in mind;
opening up and freshening Frodo's room in what he hoped was a welcoming
way, rearranging the furniture so there were two overstuffed
chairs conveniently near the hearth instead of one and so on. His
pantries were well stocked and he had even cleared away some of the
assorted whatnot from the coat racks to be sure there would be two
clear places, right at the end nearest the door. He found he was
getting rather excited about it all, it felt like planning a party.
Over the intervening days he had considered what sort of
celebration he ought to
have. One thought had been throwing an 'adoption party,' but he wasn't
sure Frodo would appreciate that much attention to it, at least not
when it was so new to them both. Better to just have a 'birthday' party
together, a regular birthday, really together. But perhaps a nice
big party was still called for. A cheery, busy
birthday party, one with plenty of hobbits, and music, plenty of food
and presents for all! After all, Frodo was important to him and
he saw no reason to hide that. What better way than a rousing social,
with cakes and wine and...? He imagined the mirth and good cheer that a
hillfull of Hobbits could create and nodded in agreement with himself,
muffling that small part of himself that objected to all the
crowding. A birthday party wouldn't have anything to do with the
adoption, after all.
Just the prospect of a party was pleasant to think upon. And it being
his birthday too, he needed to give thought to presents. The other hobbits didn't worry him, but he would have
to think of a good birthday present for his new nephew. Something
suitable for someone living at Bag End.... Styles were slightly
different in Hobbiton than in Buckland, and the farmer's clothing that
Frodo had been accustomed to wearing would really be
somewhat...unsuitable for his new station. Not that he was ill-looking
Bilbo looked at the newly cleaned row of hooks in the entry. An umbrella, a nice
coat, or a hat? No, those things would be needed, of course, but
they weren't exactly stylish. Much too mundane for a present. Too
He went along the hall to his own wardrobe and opened the doors,
seeking inspiration. Scanning along the neatly folded stacks of shirts
and breeches, his gaze glanced past his nightshirts and housecoats to
his collection of weskits. Sage green, daffodil yellow, deep brown,
He reached in and lifted two daily-wear tweedy weskits out of the way.
With a slight tug, he pulled from the stack his very favourite
special-occasions weskit; the deep red-burgundy one that shone in the
window's light as he laid it out on his bed. He unfolded the wrapping
that kept it from dust and fingered the bright brass buttons. Smoothing
the collar, he considered it thoughtfully, trying to picture Frodo
wearing something so grand. Yes. That would do nicely. But not too
close of a match, no, no - he would need something that was just for
him. Like it, but unlike. And the tailor would need time to
finish it properly, before the 22nd!
It was off to the tailor then! He took up the weskit, as an example and
leaving the forgotten wardrobe doors hanging open, went out.
By tea-time he had his order underway. Thanks to the tailor being at
home and happily ready to drop his other work in favor of a lucrative
special project - for though he assured him it would be ready
in plenty of time, Bilbo offered a bonus on delivery to assure that
it was. His own burgundy weskit provided a sort of pattern to
start with, and the two of them had spent nigh on three hours fingering
over the very best fabrics that could be found anywhere in the local
area. When Bilbo finally settled on an elaborately stitched and
shining brocade that had been brought in clear from the borders out
towards Tuckborough, both of them felt it an accomplishment. It was almost a paisley, reminding him of
leaves or flowers, gold, maroon, a bit of deep blue. He had some fine
brass buttons in a box somewhere in his guest room, if he could find
them. They would go most nicely with it. Very stylish at any party.
Yes, his lad was going to cut a fine figure for their birthday.
Still musing over the festivities, he walked home. The white gate swung under
his hand with a creak and he looked at it critically, noticing
for the first time that it really needed a new coat of paint. The tidy
yard was passable to inspection, but when he opened his door, the
clutter and piles that spilled out from the edges of each room seemed
to jump out at him.
If he were to have a party, the old hole could stand with a little
cleaning up, he had to admit. He turned around and went back out again.
Down the Hill at Number Three he found Bell Gamgee out in her yard,
propped up in the sun with a few pillows, stitching a bit of embroidery
along the hem of an apron. Some sort of flower, he didn't really look
close enough to see.
He gave a polite tap at the unlatched gate and entered the small yard.
"Mrs. Gamgee! Good day to you. I've good news to tell. I've decided I'm
going to have a nice, big party to celebrate my own and Frodo's
birthday when he arrives - we're on the same date, you know. The only
problem is my hole is in need of a bit of cleaning up and I'm looking
to hire some helping hands. Is Daisy available?"
Bell raised her brows at him, and looked thoughtfully quizzical. "Daisy
will be back soon, she's just down the lane. I'm sure she could lend a
hand, Mr. Baggins. She'd be glad of it. But are you so sure a big
party is really what you want to have? Begging your pardon, if I'm
"Of course!" he blurted, then backtracked. "Not of course to your
interfering, I mean. Of course to my planning a party..." he paused, for
Bilbo respected that quiet reserve of motherly wisdom that Bell Gamgee
always seemed to hold within her frail frame. In spite of his initial reaction
to any kind of questioning of his actions, he did want to know why she
would have reservations. "...but, please tell me. Why wouldn't I?"
Bell looked up at him and lowered her embroidery into her lap. She went
straight to the point. "I don't think your young Master Baggins
would like it." She held up a hand to still Bilbo's reaction and
continued softly and patiently "He's still just finding his way, Mr. Baggins. Keep it quiet
this year, and let him settle in a bit. You should have many a year
ahead of you where you can have something larger, when he won't feel
like he's an outsider in his own home. Or, as my Hamfast would
say, plants need a bit of time after being put in the ground - you
can't just go stepping all over them right away."
"But..." he wondered now if his half-formed plans were so definite
after all. "I want him to know that he's worth it - he's important to
me...that he deserves a nice, big party..." he was having difficulty
framing his thoughts now that he had to say them out loud.
She pushed back a wayward strand of hair from her face and neatly
tucked it behind her ear. "Begging your pardon, but that's tomfoolery.
He'll know that he's worth it without any such fuss. And worth far more
to you, Mr. Baggins." She gestured at him with her threaded needle for emphasis.
"Because you've taken him in and befriended him! A friend doesn't
need lavish gifts to know they are loved. Why, if money is what makes
them love you, or feel like you love them, why that's no love at all."
She gave him a significant sidelong look.
Bilbo blinked, feeling slightly embarrassed. "And if anyone should know that it should be me, is that what you're saying?"
Bell relaxed and sat back against her pillows. Lifting up her
embroidery again, she smoothed the fabric with her thin hands and
tugged the thread snug. "I think you are his gift and he's yours,
that's all. And I wouldn't presume to tell you how to do anything, Mr.
Baggins, it wouldn't be my place." she said it mildly and he saw the
twinkle in her eye.
"But you will anyway, won't you? And I'm most grateful to you for doing
so, Mrs. Gamgee." He nodded. "I'll think on it, but I do believe
you have the right view - I've so little experience with this sort of
thing but I'm willing to learn. And no, I don't want that to be how we
start off at all, quite the opposite, and I hadn't really thought that
it might seem that way to him or to others, the money and all..."
"So..." Under her hands the smooth and tiny petals of a pansy began to
take shape. She ran the yellow thread through the muslin. "Will you
still be needing your home cleaned? Just so I can tell Daisy..."
"Just so you can tell Daisy? Nay, Mrs. Gamgee. So you can know if I'm
being a good child who will listen to you or if I'm going to go stick
my hand on the oven to see if it's really hot." he gave a light chuckle. "Yes, I
will still want Daisy, but only for a bit of repair on some torn
clothing I think. Not for the cleaning."
She kept her eyes on her work, shaking her head. "Torn clothing again?
There is more of a young Hobbit in you than one expects, Mr. Baggins.
One would think you've never outgrown bramble-forts and burrowing under
hedges the way your clothing is so often needing repair. Your young lad
is a fine match for you. You need someone older than yourself to keep
you in line."
Bilbo had to laugh at that, and gave her a little bow. "You're feeling quite cheeky today, aren't you?"
Her eyes closed as she turned her face to the sky. "It must be the
sunshine. Doesn't it feel nice? Now off with you, young scamp. I'll
send Daisy up for the mending when she returns."
"Young scamp?" he snorted with a false bluster. "Well! Next thing you know you'll be telling me to act my age."
"Oh no, don't ever do that," she smiled, and waved him away.
In the late afternoon, the still day began to pick up a soft
breeze; the sun slowly made its way down toward its Western nest of
He stood out on his front steps and contemplated the newly repaired
windowboxes, neat and trim and filled to overflowing with new flowers
chosen for their autumnal blooms.
Lightly puffing on his pipe, he found he was at peace with Bell's advice. He reveled in the simple pleasure of the
rich scented smoke, the flowers ruffling and the leaf-shadows beginning
to dance across the mossy flagstones. Between the stones near his feet,
tiny flowers dotted the pillowing thyme and baby-tears spread their
minuscule droplets of green out in a soft wave. Beside the bench, the
variegated peppermint lifted up in cream and green, only beginning to
die back with the colder nights, red stems like a miniature forest that
begged to be explored by an idle imagination.
There is so much life in the Shire... he thought, and much to explore even here.
Down below him, fields lay green and golden or shorn brown with
harvest. The Water shone among the trees in the distance and above him,
the very first touches of color had begun to show on the edges of the
And I don't have to explore it alone...
He puffed on his pipe again, contentment surrounding him even as the
soft smoke. He still delighted in the a fine present he could give to
Frodo, the weskit that was being made up... And he was the other
gift... He reconsidered that other part of what Mrs. Gamgee had said, and turned it over
is his mind. It was difficult to think of himself being a gift to
anyone, though he could easily see Frodo being a gift... Still only
fair it should work both ways.
If he wasn't to hold a large, boisterous sort of party then, what
should he have? Now that he really thought about it, there wasn't
enough time to do up a large gathering properly anyway. Why, the
writing of the invitations alone would take much too long.
If he ever did have the fabulously large party he imagined, he would
probably have to start planning for it a good year or more ahead. For
he could imagine quite a lot; food, music, dancing, toys, yes, maybe
some sort of fancy toys from outside the Shire even. Such a gathering
wouldn't even fit in Bag End! Someday, yes someday, he would have a
right proper party for himself and Frodo. Something the whole Shire
would be talking about for months.
But for now?
'Let him settle in,' she'd said. And she was right. He had just been
transplanted, after all. He nudged a bit of mulch that had fallen from
a windowbox off the flagstones with his toe. Repotted. After all, if he
had a party, who would be there that Frodo knew well? Almost no one. It
would really have been his party, not both of theirs. Something small
then. A few relatives and friends... or just the two of them,
even? He wished Frodo were there so he could ask him what he
He hadn't originally planned on giving away many birthday presents that
year, mostly small gifts of sharp cheeses, a few bottles of wine. All
of it would only improve with age and could be given away the following
September instead. No loss there.
And this year... again, she was right. This year it was best to
concentrate on just Frodo. This year was just for them, the mutual gift
of each other's company and sharing a plate or two of cake
perhaps. Without thinking of it, he found himself feeling for the
button on his breast pocket. He opened it and withdrew the folded bit
of paper that he kept there. Unfolding it once more he scanned over the
... I am still planning on being there in time for our birthday... if you will still have me....
It was time for a most magnificent gift, if Frodo would have
it. It was a perfect match for that magnificent gift of his own.