1. Bilbo’s no good, awful, confounded day.
However, the chirping of the birds and the happy whistles of every content Hobbit going about his business were not the only things that would be heard on that particular day…
“AACHOO! Ungle Bilbo!” echoed a peculiarly stuffed voice of a young Halfling throughout Bag End.
“Coming, Frodo!” cried the elder resident in reply, who was now trotting hurriedly to the room of his young kin. “What is it, my boy?”
“I tink I’m goming down wit someting, ungle Bilbo…” stated the lad in a weak tone, sniffing loudly and looking at his guardian through tired eyes.
“Good gracious! So you are!” exclaimed Bilbo as he felt his cousin’s heated forehead (for indeed they were cousins; but young Frodo Baggins had got used to calling his kin uncle Bilbo and in the end it didn’t matter so much anymore). “You didn’t happen to be out in the open when that storm broke out yesterday afternoon, did you?” he asked, looking very suspiciously at the ailing boy.
Frodo’s sheepish grin was more than enough answer.
“Why did you do that? Especially after I had made myself perfectly clear that you were to stay inside?” asked Bilbo.
“Well… I gouldn’t help hearing you and ol’ Gaffer saying it was going to rain gats and dogs…” answered young Baggins, trying his best to be understood because of his stuffy nose.
“And… I always wanted a puppy…”
Bilbo blinked a couple of times at a loss at such an answer.
“I see,” he said in the end. “And it never occurred to you, my lad, that the Gaffer and I were figuratively speaking? It would be like me saying yesterday it was a nice weather for the ducks.”
“It was raining dugs, too?” cried Frodo in amazement.
“No, my boy, you are not following me here! It rained none of those things.”
“But you said--”
“Yes, I know, I was just saying how the weather was--”
“So it did rain gats and dogs and dugs!”
Now it was little Frodo’s turn to blink questioningly, making Bilbo muster all his patience and try to explain things slowly.
“It rained only water. Cats, dogs and ducks had nothing to do with the cold you’re suffering from now. They were just a form of expression to show the Gaffer how bad the weather was.”
Frodo’s face would have brightened up with realization, if his splitting headache had permitted him to do so.
“Oh! Why didn’t you say so in te first place?”
However, before Bilbo had gotten his chance to answer, the young Hobbit started coughing so violently that it seemed the whole room shook by the noise. Bilbo ran immediately to his storeroom and, after uncovering all sorts of useless things that were scattered in every nook and cranny, he finally came across the extra blankets he was looking for. Carrying one on top of the other and being extra careful on his step, he returned to the sick little one and covered him tenderly – so tenderly, in fact, that the only thing that could be seen under the coverings was Frodo’s curly hair.
“Tank you, Ungle Bilbo,” said Frodo in his stuffed (and now muffled as well) voice.
“Anytime, my boy,” replied Bilbo smiling. “Now get some sleep. I’m sure you’ll feel better by nightfall.”
The elderly Hobbit had started walking away, when Frodo’s huge eyes appeared from underneath the blankets.
“Yes, lad?” asked Mr. Baggins, turning to face the sick Hobbit.
“I gan’t sleep…”
Bilbo blinked once more at a loss.
“Of course you can!” he finally declared. “You just close your eyes and… poof! You’re asleep!”
However, that didn’t reassure young Baggins.
“Gan’t you just sing for me, Ungle Bilbo?” asked Frodo, his eyes widening in a pleading manner.
“Sing?!” exclaimed the elderly Hobbit in shock.
“Mother always sang to me whenever I was sick,” whispered the little one.
Bilbo sighed. He could sing a tune or two whenever he was in the mood for it; but not even in his best of moods was he able to sing a lullaby! Still, the look his kin gave him was hard to resist. So Bilbo sat down to the bedside once more and, holding Frodo the way he remembered his own mother did him when he was a Hobbit lad, he started humming softly the first song that came to his mind:
Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the seas:
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone
And under mountains in the moon*
It wasn’t long before the ailing Hobbit fell asleep, either lulled by Bilbo’s humming or because he felt sheer exhaustion due to all his coughing and sneezing. The kindly old Hobbit stood still for a few moments, listening to Frodo’s even, yet very loud snoring; then, using the sneaking skills that all Hobbits were well known for (and which had saved Bilbo many times in his own adventure), he walked out of the room.
After he had put a safe distance between himself and Frodo’s room, Bilbo figured it was high time he should have some breakfast; his protesting stomach sounded as though he needed it anyway. But a breakfast could hardly be considered pleasant without smoking some good pipe-weed afterwards; so he walked up to his room and opened one of the many chests that were there. However, there was no pipe-weed there. He emptied the contents of the chest, but he still didn’t find anything that even remotely resembled pipe-weed.
Odd! thought the Hobbit, scratching his head. He opened the rest of the chests, he even dived into some in his search (thankfully without closing himself in any of them); but it proved fruitless.
“Most odd!” exclaimed Bilbo, and then he started searching in every other possible place he had stored his favourite leaf over the years. Including…
“Hmm? What are you looking for under my mattress, Ungle Bilbo?” asked Frodo in his stuffed, muffled (and now sleepy) voice.
“Err… nothing, my boy, nothing,” answered Bilbo quickly. “Go back to sleep.”
The young little Halfling didn’t have to be told twice. Before Bilbo could even finish his sentence, the even and loud snoring had started again.
After the elder Hobbit sighed gratefully that he didn’t have to sing Frodo to sleep again, he sneaked out once more to continue with his leaf hunting. Just when Bilbo was about to give up so as to see to the needs of his ever-grumbling stomach, he heard a knock at the door. Fearing that the noise might wake up his cousin, he immediately rushed to open it.
To his surprise, there was nobody to be seen. The Hobbit turned his head left and right; he even went outside and called: “Hello!”; but, there was no answer, so he went back inside to his hole. Had he turned a little sooner, he would have seen two small figures walking inside Bag End.
But he didn’t. So, after shrugging off the strange knock at the door, Bilbo went to the kitchen to prepare some tea.
As Bilbo was looking amid his kettles and casseroles for his teapot, he stood for a moment frozen, for his sensitive hobbit-ears picked up a strange sound. He didn’t hear anything else though and so, thinking that it was probably the kitchen pots clanging as he had run his hands over them, he resumed with his work. Just when he found the teapot and was about to start boiling some water, his ears picked up yet another sound.
Now Bilbo's perfectly sound Hobbit-sense told him that kettles do not exclaim in pain when clanging against each other, not to mention the fact that he was also too far from any utensils to knock into them. So he grabbed the cucumber that he was planning to have for his sandwiches and, holding it up as a means of protection, he went towards the storeroom, for the sound was heard from there. As he approached the door, he heard more noises – and even talking. Feeling every warrior instinct waking up within him, he pulled the door open and rushed in, wielding his cucumber and letting out a battle cry that would make his ancestor, Bandobras Took, very proud indeed.
Two yelps of surprise and fright echoed at such an attack and Bilbo clearly heard the noise of pattering feet.
“All right!” cried Bilbo, always wielding the cucumber, “show yourselves now and I’ll go easy on you!”
However, neither sound nor voice was heard as a response. Bilbo looked around and soon enough, he spotted two brown heads behind some barrels.
“There are two ways out of this,” said the elderly Hobbit towards the hair that stood up from the barrels. “You either come out on the count of three… or I get you out on the count of three!”
Even though Bilbo knew that he was heard, nothing happened.
“One!” he stated.
Still nothing happened.
The curly heads leaned against each other, as though conferring.
“Two and a half…”
Just then, the heads hurried out of their hiding place, and two very embarrassed looking Hobbit boys stood before Bilbo.
“Well, well! If it isn’t Sancho Proudfoot and his dear brother Pinto!” exclaimed Bilbo, his lips broadening to a big smile, but his eyes hardly revealing any mirth, “What are you doing here, in Bag End?”
Both Sancho and Pinto found the floor tiles of the storeroom very interesting all of a sudden, for they now looked at them at all times and their hairy feet kept making little circles on them.
“We, erm… we were looking for mice,” murmured Sancho finally.
“We were?! I thought we were looking for Bilbo’s treasure chests!” jumped in Pinto in genuine surprise.
“Shh!” hissed Sancho, trying to silence his brother, but it was too late.
Rolling his sleeves and placing the cucumber in his trouser-pockets, Bilbo grabbed both little Halflings by their collars and showed them quite discourteously to the door – and out of it. Then, feeling mighty pleased with himself, he dug out from his pocket the cucumber and placed it on the kitchen table, thinking hungrily of the cucumber sandwiches that waited to be made as his stomach growled its impatience. It was then that there was another knock at the door. Bilbo stomped away to open it, irritated.
If Sancho and that imbecile brother of his think they can pull the same trick twice… he thought as he opened the green round door.
However, somebody was at the door this time and it was neither Sancho nor Pinto. In fact, there were not even two Hobbit children standing in front of him but three.
“Hello, Mr. Bilbo, sir,” said all of them in a chorus as soon as the door opened, making dear Baggins flinch.
“Why!” said Bilbo, after regaining his composure and turning to the two youngest looking of the lot. “Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took? What brings you little scoundrels all the way from the outskirts of the Shire?”
“Well, Uncle,” said the tallest of the two, “It’s been a month since Frodo left Buckland and we missed him…”
“So we begged Merry’s dad to bring us here,” interrupted Pippin.
“Begged him a lot, actually,” admitted Merry with a blush, “and today he had to go to Bywater to buy some things from the market…”
“You know, I hope he gets mushrooms,” Pippin interrupted his cousin once more, his eyes getting dreamy at the mental image of cooked mushrooms.
“And carrots,” seconded Merry, forgetting himself momentarily, but soon picking up his train of thought again. “Anyway, he made a little detour and left us two here.”
“Right here in Hobbiton, that is,” piped in Pippin.
Merry sighed loudly and turned to his kin.
“I’m sure he understood that, Pip.”
“Are you sure? You only said ‘here’!” said young Took.
“What other place could I mean by saying ‘here’?”
“Bag End, of course!”
Meriadoc blinked for a few moments, looking at Pippin at a loss.
“Bag End is in Hobbiton.”
“Yes, but your father didn’t leave us in Bag End, he left us at Sandyman’s mill and we walked from there!” argued Pippin.
“What difference does it make where he left us? We’re here now, aren’t we?” exclaimed Merry.
It was now young Took’s turn to stare at his cousin in confusion.
“Which place do you mean now by here?”
Merry was about to answer; but Bilbo proved faster and covered the lad’s mouth with his hand, exclaiming a pleading: “Please!”
Just then, his eye caught the third little Hobbit, who simply stood quietly by, his hands behind his back.
“And what can I do for you, Sam?” Bilbo asked the chubby little boy.
“Well, I… If it’s alright with you, sir, that is… I only wanted to show Frodo something.”
Bilbo smiled at the Gaffer’s son. He liked the young Hobbit, for Sam was one of the first to welcome Frodo in Bag End and the two boys had even become friends; that pleased Bilbo to no end. Yes, he was glad that his young cousin had such good and caring companions, for it meant that Frodo would never feel lonesome in Bag End.
Still, Frodo couldn’t join them at their games today and that was a fact. And even though the elderly Hobbit knew he would disappoint the three Halflings, he was aware he had to tell them.
“Sam, boys,” he said in the end, “I’m afraid Frodo is sleeping and I don’t wish to wake him up. You will have to go and play without him, I fear.”
All three Hobbits made a loud moan of disappointment.
“Can’t you just wake him up for only a little while, Mr. Bilbo, sir? I really want to show him what I found,” insisted little Gamgee; and, with a swift movement, he brought his hands forward.
A pair of yellowish eyes looked up and regarded Bilbo with stoic patience. On the other hand, it took a great amount of willpower for poor Bilbo not to cry in disgust when he came face to face with the huge spotted toad that Sam held up so proudly before him.
On the other hand, the Hobbit-lad couldn’t help but notice the way Bilbo’s eyes bulged out and his skin turned a strange greenish hue. As a matter of fact, he thought that the resemblance between the toad and the elderly Hobbit at that moment was quite remarkable.
“Sam,” Bilbo finally managed to say with a great effort, after averting his eyes from the toad’s sheepish gaze. “As I was saying, you cannot show him anything today. Frodo is ill and he needs all the rest and quiet he can…”
He never finished his sentence, for, when the children heard the words Frodo is ill, they gasped and rushed immediately inside, looking for him in every room that they ran across and calling out his name. Bilbo tried to tell them that this was exactly what he didn’t want them to do and they should let Frodo be for today, but none of them would have it.
“Uncle, Frodo is not only our cousin, but our friend,” said Merry.
“And friends should be there for each other, even in sickness,” seconded Pippin.
“And I heard animals do a lot of good to sick people! I’m sure he’ll feel much better when he sees my present!” said Sam.
Just then, a very tired and haggard-looking face peered out of a room that none of the little Hobbits had had the chance to search yet.
“Whad’s all dis noise, Ungle Bilbo?” asked Frodo, his voice more stuffed than ever.
In an instant, Sam, Merry and Pippin surrounded their friend, bombarding him with all sorts of questions and remarks of concern.
“How are you feeling, Frodo?”
“Are you very sick?”
“Looks like a cold…”
“Here, Frodo, isn’t it the nicest toad you’ve ever set your eyes upon?”
Unfortunately, even though Hobbits were able to endure all kinds of hardships, young Baggins was in no condition to endure even the low humming of a bee flying outside in the garden of Bag End, let alone three energetic Halfling-children who were making a noise that could only be compared to a dragon’s roar. So, he quickly hid himself underneath the blanket that was dragged with him as he got up, and attempted to return to his bed. Unfortunately, his foot got tangled with the remaining part of his cover and, as he turned, he ended up flat on the floor, much to the others’ horror.
“He fainted!” cried Sam, almost dropping the toad in his worry.
“This is really serious!” exclaimed Pippin.
“Frodo, can you hear me?” said Merry, patting every part of the blanket, hoping he would pat the face at some point.
“Enough!” bellowed Bilbo.
The Halflings finally fell silent and they let the kindly Hobbit carry the blanket to the bed and start unwrapping its contents there. Frodo soon appeared, his hair more than just a little dishevelled.
“I slibbed,” remarked the sick boy and then sneezed loudly – luckily after the rest of the Hobbits took cover.
“So I noticed,” replied Bilbo, popping his head from behind the cloth he used as a shield. “Are you feeling any better, lad?” he added, handing Frodo his handkerchief. Frodo blew his nose, making a great honking sound.
“No…” said the ailing Hobbit, sniffing. “Ungle Bilbo?”
“Yes, my boy?”
“Gould I have some dea, blease?”
“Tea? Of course!”
Mr. Baggins had started walking away, when he thought it would only be polite to ask the others if they wanted anything as well. He soon wished he hadn’t done that; for his stomach grumbled its dismay loudly while he watched each morsel of bread with butter and jam, apple tart, eggs, cutlets and sausages disappearing in the mouths of Sam, Merry and Pippin. Even the toad (which Sam named affectionately Rosie, because, as he argued, such a lovely creature deserved only the loveliest of names) had its share of food, and it now gulped down hungrily at the flies and moths that Bilbo had to catch for it.
Finally, not being able to take it anymore and thinking that he could leave for at least half an hour without being missed, Bilbo slipped to the kitchen with the intention to appease his own hunger. He prepared his cucumber sandwiches, put a cup of tea on the table and sat down, feeling his mouth watering. But, just as he was about to sink his teeth on the first of the fine delicacies before him, the door knocked again.
Bilbo dropped his sandwich in resignation and then walked up to the door once more, trying to guess who else had set a mind to make his life miserable on a such a dreadful day. And yet nothing had prepared him for Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, who was standing right at Bag End’s doorstep, looking pretty much annoyed herself by the way she tapped her foot and straightened her large, flower-decorated hat.
“Hmph! It was high time you opened, Bilbo Baggins! I have a lot of things to tend to and I wish to get on with my visit here as soon as possible.”
“For once we wish the same thing, so stop beating about the bush and tell me what you want,” said Bilbo dryly.
“Well, I had heard about that foolishness of yours to bring this boy from Buckland, but I didn’t say anything. But now I feel that I must remark that he’s been living here for the past month and he doesn’t seem to have any intentions of returning to his home! What sort of visit is this?”
Bilbo grinned, since it was perfectly clear what was in Lobelia’s mind. After all, the Sackville-Bagginses had been trying to get their hands on Bag End for years; they had waited all this time for Bilbo to retire to some place else or even to pass away; only to see now Frodo staying in the place they felt it should be theirs by right. This disturbed them quite a lot.
“Visit?” laughed Bilbo. “Oh, my dear Lobelia, I hate to disappoint you, but the boy, as you call him, is not here on a visit. He’s to stay here and live with me – and then on his own,” he added with a mischievous smile.
“What?!” exclaimed Lobelia in shock. “Whatever for?!”
“Some people, whose names I won’t mention, have been claiming that I’d rather consort with wizards and Dwarves instead of my own flesh and blood,” replied Bilbo, looking hard at Lobelia (for he knew perfectly well who had been spreading those accusations). “It’s time to make up for it.”
“But he’s not even a Baggins!” cried the woman.
“Really? He’s late Drogo’s son, isn’t he? That makes him a Baggins in my book!”
“He’s been living with those strange Brandybucks for years, probably taking up their queer habits as well. I wager he even knows how to swim!”
“A good thing that I decided to take him and have him live with me then! Good day, Lobelia, I don’t want to keep you from your other matters…” said Bilbo courteously, but clearly hinting that this discussion had come to its end.
But, despite the fact that Lobelia had so many things to do, she didn’t seem all that eager to leave.
“But, Bilbo, he’s a child! Children jump, run: play! Can you imagine what he will do to Bag End? He will ruin everything in his path!”
“Lobelia, dear,” said Bilbo, letting out a tired sigh. “Even though I appreciate your concern for my home” (which surpasses your concern for me, he added in his mind), “I assure you that Frodo has caused no trouble whatsoever so far and…”
It was then that a loud crash was heard inside Frodo’s room, soon to be followed by urgent cries mingled with a touch of a series of coughs. Bilbo and Lobelia rushed immediately inside to see what the commotion was all about, only to come before an astonishing sight.
The toad, apparently, thought that there was nothing better than a little exercise after a good meal. So now he was hopping around the room, while Sam, Merry and Pippin were chasing after it and Frodo was giving them directions – even though he was barely comprehensible as he shouted in his stuffed voice through his coughing.
“Come, Rosie! That’s not a very nice thing to do, so get over here at once!” said Sam, thinking that the best way to catch a toad was to reason with him.
“Whatsh id! Id’s going de oder way!” cried young Baggins.
“Grab him, Pip!”
“He’s coming towards you, Merry!”
“I’ve got him!” shouted Meriadoc in triumph.
Unfortunately, he hadn’t. In fact, the only thing that all the little ones had managed to do was to crash into everything that stood between them and the toad – including Belladonna Took’s porcelains that Bilbo adored! On the other hand, poor Frodo had been shouting so loudly in the hopes of making himself understood that his stuffed voice finally cracked to a stuffed, hoarse whisper.
Bilbo stood at the threshold of the room in shock, pointing and uttering small short exclamations of surprise, dismay, fury and sadness as his eyes fell upon every single piece of broken furniture, cup, glass and plate that lay on the floor.
Lobelia, on the other hand, held her head up with the air of one who has finally been proved correct in her predictions.
“Well,” she said, proudly raising her eyebrow. “It seems to me that your little boy did cause trouble after all! And he even had his ruffian friends from Buckland and the potato-grubber’s son to ensure the greatest damage possible! Honestly, Bilbo, Bag End was never a place for a child to be raised in such an inappropriate way. And yet, you...”
It was then that she felt something moving on her hat; and, when she looked around, she noticed that everybody was staring at her in apprehension.
“What’s on my hat?” she asked slowly, understanding quite well that something was very wrong.
“Lobelia, hold perfectly still,” warned Bilbo as calmly as possible.
“What’s on my hat?” asked Mrs. Sackville-Baggins again, her voice rising to a higher-pitched level than it usually was.
Sam was more than helpful to answer her question in the fullest, despite Merry and Pippin’s efforts to stop him.
“It’s Rosie, Mrs. Lobelia. She liked the flower on your hat and she’s resting there now.”
Lobelia’s piercing shriek almost broke the last remnants of glasses that had escaped from the children; and, since cries can hardly shoo away uncalled for amphibians from hats, she started running and jumping around Bag End with the vitality of a Hobbit lass, her hands struggling frantically to untie the ribbon that held the hat in place. In the end, as she found herself outside the hole, she tossed the hat away in the garden and disappeared from sight, still shouting and jumping. Whether she went all the way to her home thus, this tale doesn’t tell.
Bilbo watched Lobelia run off, standing by the doorway and feeling grateful that Sam had found that toad after all. He even laughed a bit at his good fortune.
However, Sam was quite distressed that he had lost Rosie, for the toad had also disappeared amid the flowers, happy to be in nature once more.
“That was a nasty thing to do, Mr. Bilbo,” he remarked, shaking his head sadly. “That awful Lobelia scared Rosie away!”
Mr. Baggins cracked a smile at this and patted Sam’s shoulder.
“Look at it from the bright side, my boy. Rosie will be living in the garden of Bag End now and she won’t be frightened by Lobelia anymore.”
“You really think so, Mr. Bilbo?”
“I do indeed. If only others had its luck.”
“What was that, Mr. Bilbo?”
“Nothing... nothing, lad,” answered the elder Hobbit quickly.
But, thankfully, Hamfast’s son didn’t pursue the matter further.
“Well, it’s getting rather late, Mr. Baggins, sir. I’d better get home before my father misses me. Goodbye! I hope Frodo will feel better soon!” And with that, Sam quickly went down the Hill towards his home.
“Thank you, Sam! Goodbye!” cried Bilbo, waving back at the little Halfling. He was just about to go inside the house again, when he saw a cart in the distance. He watched it coming towards Bag End, his worry increasing with every step the little pony that dragged the cart made. But, he soon sighed with relief, for it was only Merry’s father.
“Good afternoon, Saradoc!” said Bilbo, hardly containing his gladness to see him.
“Hello, Bilbo! Are the children inside?”
“Yes, indeed. Let me just call them out for you,” answered the Hobbit and then turned to the house. “Merry! Pippin! Your ride is here!”
“We can’t leave yet!” cried Merry from inside.
“Yeah, Frodo is still ill!” seconded Pippin.
A loud sneeze verified young Took’s words.
Bilbo looked at Saradoc at a loss, hardly knowing what to do to convince the little ones to come out and go to their own homes.
Mr. Brandybuck, however, knew exactly how to talk to the boys.
“You know, the mushrooms and carrots I got from Bywater will have to be cooked while they’re still fresh!” he cried out.
As soon as these words were uttered, both Bilbo and Saradoc heard two voices saying a very hasty Have a speedy recovery; and before one could say: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit,” both Merry and Pippin were up in the cart, waving goodbye at Bilbo, while Mr. Brandybuck drove away.
Bilbo watched the cart leave and then went inside the house. When he checked on Frodo he was glad to see that his young kin was fast asleep. He again placed the blanket over him and, just as he was about to tidy up the place, his stomach roared its protest. So Bilbo soon found himself in the kitchen once again, sitting on the table and grabbing with both hands two of the cucumber sandwiches, ready to wolf them both down ravenously… and at that very moment, a new knock sounded at the door.
Bilbo blinked a couple of times, thinking (and wishing) this was not happening, only to hear another knock. Whimpering and sobbing, Mr. Baggins rose and walked to the door. He looked at it for a few moments; he reached for the doorknob, his hands twitching as though he was about to grasp a snake; then opened the door.
“My, my!” said a cheerful voice from high above. “What a long face! Should I take it I was not missed then?”
“Gandalf!” cried Bilbo and he gave the wizard’s legs a huge embrace. “Please tell me you don’t suffer from any colds or want to look for treasure chests; and that you won’t smash anything or bring any toads, spotted or not!”
The kindly old man listened without really understanding, but nevertheless he patted his friend comfortingly.
“No, rest assured I would not do any of these things. You have been having a difficult time, I presume?”
“Difficult time!? Smaug seemed like an excursion compared to this! And it only lasted a day!”
“Indeed! Let us go inside so you can tell me all about it.”
They both went to sit by the fireplace and Bilbo narrated his whole tale. Gandalf couldn’t help but laugh heartily as the Hobbit told him his every misfortune, starting from the morning.
“Oh, my!” exclaimed the Wizard in the end. “I do not envy you at all, Bilbo, but it is funny, if you think about it!”
“Easy for you to say, you weren’t here!” replied the Hobbit. “And I still haven’t smoked any Old Toby or eaten!”
“Well, we can go in the kitchen where you can eat. Do not worry; I will just have a spot of tea. After that, we will see what we can do about Frodo and the mess in his room.”
And that was what they did. Bilbo ate cucumber sandwiches and everything else that his hands would reach till he thought his stomach would burst, and then he shared some pipe-weed with Gandalf (fortunately his friend had always an extra pouch), much to the Halfling’s content. Later on, when Bilbo was finally able to get up from his chair (his belly could only carry that much), they started cleaning up Frodo’s room. They were almost finished when the little one woke up.
“Hello, uncle Bilbo. What time is it?” Frodo asked, yawning widely.
“Almost nine, my lad. And I have some good news for you: Gandalf is here to check on how are you doing,” said Bilbo. It was then that he noticed it. “Bless me, your voice is clear and strong again!”
“You’re right!” exclaimed young Baggins. “I feel wonderful actually!”
“Do you now?” asked Gandalf, smiling. “Well, let us make sure of that.” He examined Frodo thoroughly and he was quite pleased to see that the symptoms of the cold were receding, even the fever.
“You should be up and about again by tomorrow,” concluded the Grey Pilgrim. “I am sure you can hardly wait.”
“Yes, indeed, Gandalf! This was the first time I ever felt so terrible!” said Frodo. “Thank you for taking care of me, Uncle Bilbo,” he added, turning to the elderly Hobbit.
“Oh, anytime, dear boy. You know I’ll always be there for you.”
“I do; that’s why I thank you: for taking care of me ever since my parents died. I’ll always be grateful for that,” said the boy and gave Bilbo a great embrace.
Bilbo didn’t expect it, but his surprise soon changed into gladness. This hug seemed to make up for this terrible, no good, confounded day. He smiled warmly at Frodo… and then he felt something tickling his nose.
“Oh, no! You have caught my cold, Uncle Bilbo!” exclaimed the boy.
“What? Nonsense, my boy, I only sneezed. A simple sneeze doesn’t show I gaught a gold...” Bilbo’s eyes immediately widened in realisation as he heard the sound of his voice.
“Perhaps, my friend, but stuffed noses do,” remarked Gandalf.
“And fever too,” added Frodo, touching the elderly Halfling’s forehead.
“Well, Bilbo, it looks like it will be a warm bed and a hot cup of tea for you tomorrow,” said the Wizard, amused.
“Don’t worry, Uncle Bilbo; I’ll take care of you just as you took care of me!” said the young Halfling, smiling brilliantly.
Bilbo, however, only sighed. He decided that next time he would think twice before he declared a day awful, for there was always the next day.
* From the Hobbit, p. 361
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.