The song had been sung, the food eaten and rest had been had. The Dwarves’ only chance for a burglar has been lost. They can now only rely on each other. The burglar fell asleep some time after the song had been heard. He has stayed in his room ever since he rejected Gandalf’s proposition. And now he wakes in his bed, slowly opening both of his eyes to his new reality. The day before may have only been a dream, a bad dream but still something he might have only imagined. As his mind catches up to the new day and the guests of the day before, he rises from his bed to establish the parameters of his new reality.
Bilbo: “Hello? Yes.”
As he tours his own house in search of Dwarves, calling out to them but finding none, his pace quickens with gladness. Could it be the Dwarves left before he woke up? Could it be that he has gotten rid of them? As it turns out, yes. There is no one in his house but him. And oddly enough the silence that emanates from the empty space is almost deafening. After the ruckus of the night before, the inability to get a word in or stop the Dwarves from behaving in their own rude way, the silence they left behind feels haunting. A completely different feel to the silence preceding their visit.
Before the Dwarves trashed his place, his routine and his way of life were established on the premise of being alone, but not lonely. He was enjoying his habits, his books, his chair, his meal and the comfort of his home. However, after the Dwarves blew through Hobbiton, they left a sense of loneliness behind. And even though Bilbo seems pleased to have gotten rid of them, to have his home back to himself, its emptiness now has a lonely feel.
He stands in the middle of his home, at first gazing at the front door as if someone he cared about left and took it all with them. Then he eyes the contract he never signed. His signature is still missing. Seeing this triggers movement in him. He gathers what he might need, packs it in his backpack, takes the contract with him, and runs out his door.
It might seem like a split decision, but it wasn’t. Ever since he heard the Song of the Lonely Mountain, the Dwarves, and their quest have been on his mind. The sadness the song had introduced him to, remained with him, placing him in deep thought not only about the quest but about himself as well. Gandalf’s words resonated with him even after he rejected the proposition of joining the Dwarves. The truth of Gandalf’s words may have been the trigger for his change of heart. He has been so ensconced in his own life, that maybe he lacked the objective perspective to make himself aware of what kind of Hobbit he had become.
Gandalf took the truth and threw it in his face with as much force and determination as possible. And even though at first his reasoning against joining the quest was clear and justifiable, Bilbo himself must have thought that a change would do him good. And having the Dwarves in his house, however disruptive to his life, and their subsequent leaving, left a mark on him, maybe wanting to be a part of a group after so many years in solitude. Their visit was clearly a deal-breaker.
A worry for Worrywort
Mr. Worrywort: “Here, Mr. Bilbo, where are you off to?”
Bilbo: “Can’t stop, I’m already late!”
Mr. Worrywort: “Late for what?”
Bilbo: “I’m going on an adventure!”
His trusted tubers grower upon seeing Bilbo run before him is surprised by the speed the Hobbit had under his feet. For what could he possibly be late? There is no point in hurrying in Hobbiton, for everything in their community moves at a leisurely pace. It is surprising for a Hobbit to take wind like this, especially since Bilbo was never one for hurrying anywhere or leaving Hobbiton for that matter. So this move of his is out of character for him. However, the smile on his face as he exits the Hobbiton grounds is that of a child whose parents have let him run free through Disneyland. It is joy, curiosity, sense of adventure and utter innocence. For however long Bilbo has lived adjusting his inner world to his surroundings, he was innocent to the ways of an adventure.
A visit’s conclusion
Dori: “I said it. Didn’t I say it? Coming here was a waste of time.”
Glóin: “That’s true enough.”
Dori: “Ridiculous notion. Use a Hobbit? A Halfling? Whose idea was it anyway?”
Since the Dwarves still haven’t been updated on the newest member of the company, they resort to complaining about the whole endeavor in the first place. It is no wonder that the one to complain would be Dori. He is the motherly figure of the company, whose deductive skills have come to the result of it all being a waste of time. They could have been on their way closer to the Lonely Mountain had they gone from their Blue Mountains. This path set them off by months.
Dori also finds the notion of a Hobbit ridiculous, which is to say that he does not look fondly on them. The Dwarves’ overall opinion of the Hobbits is very prejudiced. Although they are technically Halflings, when said in a character description, especially out of the mouth of Dwarves sounds more like Half-wits. It is the tone and the subtext behind the description rather than the word itself. An unjust opinion of a race, but they would learn that themselves soon enough.
The burglar returns
Bilbo: “Wait! Wait!”
Thorin. “Whoa, whoa.”
Bilbo: “I signed it.”
Balin: “Everything appears to be in order. Welcome, Master Baggins to the company of Thorin Oakenshield.”
Thorin: “Give him a pony.”
Bilbo: “No, no, that won’t be necessary. Thank you. I’m sure I can keep up on foot. I’ve done my fair share of walking holidays, you know? Even got as far as Frogmorton once. Aah!”
Bilbo is excited to bring this signed contract to the Dwarves. They, on the other hand, don’t seem that excited to see him again. Balin proofs the signature on the contract and welcomes him to the group, sincerely. Thorin’s expression is unlegible. There is no excitement or gladness at the sight of the Hobbit. He doesn’t even welcome him to his own company, a cause right there to believe that he is not accepted into the company no matter what the contract says.
The pony is not something Bilbo was looking forward to. He had done all of his wandering on foot, without the need of a horse, which can be clearly seen as he sits on the horse, completely bewildered and confused as to how to proceed. The holding of the reigns does not come naturally to him either.
Óin: “Come on, Nori. Pay up.”
Kili: “One more.”
Óin: “Thanks, lad.”
Bilbo: “What’s that about?”
Gandalf: “Oh, they took wagers on whether or not you’d turn up. Most of them bet that you wouldn’t.”
Bilbo: “And what did you think?”
Gandalf: “My dear fellow, I never doubted you for a second.”
All of a sudden coins start to fly around Bilbo. The wagers that the Dwarves took do nothing to shake Bilbo’s decision. What he is interested in knowing is what Gandalf thought about him. It has already been established at Bag End that Gandalf holds Bilbo in high regard, thinking him capable of things that Bilbo does not even know. This provides Bilbo with trust in Gandalf’s ability to assess a character. Gandalf’s approval seems to be something Bilbo aspires to.
The missing handkerchief
Bilbo: “It’s horsehair. Having a reaction. No, wait, wait, stop. Stop. We have to turn around.”
Gandalf: “What on earth is the matter?”
Bilbo: “I forgot my handkerchief.”
Bofur: “Here. Use this.”
Thorin: “Move on.”
Gandalf: “You’ll have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs and a good many other things, Bilbo Baggins before we reach our journey’s end. You were born to the rolling hills and little rivers of the Shire. But home is now behind you. The world is ahead.”
An insignificant thing, the handkerchief, but indispensable if one is used to having it on its person always. Bilbo, in his Hobbit habit, thinks it irreplaceable and a good enough reason to go back for it. A ridiculous notion for the rest of the company. It is simply his behavioral pattern. He would probably have turned around had he found it missing before joining the convoy. As it is, the company does not alter their course because of a missing piece of cloth.
This is where Bofur comes in and sacrifices his own clothing to provide Bilbo with a cloth to wipe his nose with. Gandalf then takes to explaining the situation to the Hobbit. It is a different world out there beyond the Shire, one that Bilbo will have the opportunity to explore himself.
Follow me to my next post.