AN UNEXPECTED PARTY
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell,
nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door
opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled
and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats—the hobbit was fond of visitors.
The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill—The Hill, as all the people for
many miles round called it—and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs
for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes),
kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand
side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows
beyond, sloping down to the river.
This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill
for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because
they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without
the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether
unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained—well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.
The mother of our particular hobbit—what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become
rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than
the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which
helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like
elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly
green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff
on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially
after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with. As I was saying, the mother
of this hobbit—of Bilbo Baggins, that is—was the famous Belladonna Took, one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits
who lived across The Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in other families) that long
ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something
not entirely hobbitlike about them, and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. They discreetly
disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though
they were undoubtedly richer.
Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo Baggins. Bungo, that was Bilbo’s father, built
the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The
Hill or across The Water, and there they remained to the end of their days. Still it is probable that Bilbo, her only son,
although he looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of his solid and comfortable father, got something a bit queer
in his make-up from the Took side, something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never arrived, until Bilbo
Baggins was grown up, being about fifty years old or so, and living in the beautiful hobbit-hole built by his father, which
I have just described for you, until he had
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