The Hobbit

Page 74

He took to writing poetry and visiting the elves; and though many shook their heads and touched their foreheads and said “Poor old Baggins!” and though few believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days, and those were extraordinarily long.

One autumn evening some years afterwards Bilbo was sitting in his study writing his memoirs—he thought of calling them “There and Back Again, a Hobbit’s Holiday”—when there was a ring at the door. It was Gandalf and a dwarf; and the dwarf was actually Balin.

“Come in! Come in!” said Bilbo, and soon they were settled in chairs by the fire. If Balin noticed that Mr. Baggins’ waistcoat was more extensive (and had real gold buttons), Bilbo also noticed that Balin’s beard was several inches longer, and his jewelled belt was of great magnificence.

They fell to talking of their times together, of course, and Bilbo asked how things were going in the lands of the Mountain. It seemed they were going very well. Bard had rebuilt the town in Dale and men had gathered to him from the Lake and from South and West, and all the valley had become tilled again and rich, and the desolation was now filled with birds and blossoms in spring and fruit and feasting in autumn. And Lake-town was refounded and was more prosperous than ever, and much wealth went up and down the Running River; and there was friendship in those parts between elves and dwarves and men.

The Hall at Bag-End Residence of B.Baggins Esquire

The old Master had come to a bad end. Bard had given him much gold for the help of the Lake-people, but being of the kind that easily catches such disease he fell under the dragon-sickness, and took most of the gold and fled with it, and died of starvation in the Waste, deserted by his companions.

“The new Master is of wiser kind,” said Balin, “and very popular, for, of course, he gets most of the credit for the present prosperity. They are making songs which say that in his day the rivers run with gold.”

“Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!” said Bilbo.

“Of course!” said Gandalf. “And why should not they prove true? Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole bene-fit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!”

“Thank goodness!” said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.

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