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Scribblings  by Baylor

Frodo ended every September 22 by toasting to the health of Bilbo Baggins, and if he had any doubts that the old hobbit was not still alive and rousing dragons and kings, he never gave indication of it. He learned to discern who the best of his young cousins were by how they embraced Bilbo’s birthday, if they found it an amusing lark or if they met that toast with hopeful eyes and confident smiles. For his part, every year when he set the glass down and ended the day, Frodo would think, “Maybe next year, Bilbo. Soon, I promise.”


Sam took Frodo’s word at everything. He had been filled with reverent love for Bilbo, which now spilled over to Frodo, and if Frodo said Bilbo had gone off with the elves and the dwarves for more adventures, then that was all there was to it. When he spoke of the old hobbit, it was with a note of wonder in his voice, and no derision of Bilbo’s name in the Green Dragon could sway his opinion. Sam had deep roots in the Shire, but sometimes the breeze stirred him and he wondered what it was like to wander free.


Merry was probably the only hobbit besides Frodo who really had some idea of where Bilbo had gone, and he truly believed that the old adventurer was out there on the Road, walking stick in hand, sniffing the night air and humming as he meandered along beneath the stars. As the years slipped by, Merry thought it more likely that they would find Bilbo living in comfortable retirement over the mountains than actively adventuring, but he never doubted that they would find him. Merry watched his cousin carefully, awaiting the day when they would set off after Bilbo at last.


Pippin had been so young when Bilbo left that he had never questioned Frodo’s explanation that Cousin Bilbo had left with the dwarves on a new adventure, but as the years went by, Frodo began to suspect that Pippin was just playing along for his sake. It was with a jolt of pleasure, then, when at a much later birthday party, Frodo overheard Pippin answer the standard question – “You don’t really think old Bilbo is still alive, do you?” – by spreading his arms out to the wide world, and saying confidently, “He is out there, somewhere, on the great adventure.”

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