Book One

A Long-expected Party

WhenMr.BilboBagginsofBagEndannouncedthathewouldshortlybecelebratinghiseleventy-firstbirthdaywithapartyofspecialmagnificence,therewasmuchtalkandexcitementinHobbiton.

Bilbowasveryrichandverypeculiar,andhadbeenthewonderoftheShireforsixtyyears,eversincehisremarkabledisappearanceandunexpectedreturn.Thericheshehadbroughtbackfromhistravelshadnowbecomealocallegend,anditwaspopularlybelieved,whatevertheoldfolkmightsay,thattheHillatBagEndwasfulloftunnelsstuffedwithtreasure.Andifthatwasnotenoughforfame,therewasalsohisprolongedvigourtomarvelat.Timeworeon,butitseemedtohavelittleeffectonMr.Baggins.Atninetyhewasmuchthesameasatfifty.Atninety-ninetheybegantocallhimwell-preserved,butunchangedwouldhavebeennearerthemark.Thereweresomethatshooktheirheadsandthoughtthiswastoomuchofagoodthing;itseemedunfairthatanyoneshouldpossess(apparently)perpetualyouthaswellas(reputedly)inexhaustiblewealth.

’Itwillhavetobepaidfor,’theysaid.’Itisn’tnatural,andtroublewillcomeofit!’

Butsofartroublehadnotcome;andasMr.Bagginswasgenerouswithhismoney,mostpeoplewerewillingtoforgivehimhisodditiesandhisgoodfortune.Heremainedonvisitingtermswithhisrelatives(except,ofcourse,theSackville-Bagginses),andhehadmanydevotedadmirersamongthehobbitsofpoorandunimportantfamilies.Buthehadnoclosefriends,untilsomeofhisyoungercousinsbegantogrowup.

Theeldestofthese,andBilbo’sfavourite,wasyoungFrodoBaggins.WhenBilbowasninety-nine,headoptedFrodoashisheir,andbroughthimtoliveatBagEnd;andthehopesoftheSackville-Bagginseswerefinallydashed.

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