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The Truth at Last

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April 26th, 2950

 

Lobelia Sackville-Baggins

If you believe that I have forgotten how to count, cousin, you are sadly mistaken. I can count, and better than you it seems. My mother’s set of pottery contains twenty stemmed dessert bowls, and yet somehow there are only sixteen sitting before me. I can’t imagine you think I would not notice, so it is clear to me that you are hoping that this scandalous breach of contract will prompt me march to your smial and reclaim them.

You should know by now that I won’t bother.

In fact, if you continue to withhold the last four sets of dessert dishes and matched spoons, I will send the largest dwarf I can find to your door to retrieve them. Just see if I don’t.

 

     “Bilbo, are you still writing letters?”

     “Yes, yes I am, and don’t pull that look on me, it never works.”

     “There’s things bubbling in there! Don’t you need to come do whatever it is you do when they bubble?”

     “That’s what they’re supposed to do. Don’t touch it.”

 

I’m entirely serious, I’ll never forgive you if you do not send them back. And that will mean no Birthday Presents for you. I give the very best Presents as you know. I’ll also deny you our grandmother’s recipe for Strawberry Buckle.

Now then, regarding your insistence on the addition of a greenhouse to the rear of Bag End. Whatever for you ridiculous hobbit? Why would it need a Greenhouse when both gardens are more than spacious enough to grow anything needed? Why would there need to be a new round of construction? And all of that glass for those windows? It’s totally unneeded.

 

     “Are ya sure ya don’t need to have a look?”

     “Quite sure. It needs to simmer.”

     “Lobelia?”

     “Yes.”

     “Again?”

     “Yes. This is what we do. Perfectly proper letters.”

     “She misses ya.”

     “In her way, yes, I do believe she does.”

 

You mentioned in your last letter that you had grown tomatoes the size of two fists together, and I’m sorry, but I do not believe you. Your talents always tended away from growing things and into storytelling. And to think, you of all people with a new shade of roses? You must have had help. Was it one of the Bracegirdle lads? Or was it Hamfast? He is quite skilled. I expect he could have managed to make a yellow rose with lavender streaking. You couldn’t if Yavanna herself showed you how.

If you have created such a thing, you’ll have to prove it.

Dried petals won’t be enough. I’ll expect you to send me bush or two. Bundle up the roots and send it when it goes dormant. I’ll add it to my garden here.

 

     “Dwalin! You put that down, you’ll burn yourself!”

     “Ha, you should know by now I never do.”

     “Those aren’t ready for eating.”

     “Taste just fine. Needed to be sure ya know.”

     “So I’m doomed to forever have an incomplete batch of whatever I bake?”

     “Glad to hear yer catching on at long last.”

     “Or you could simply bake a second batch for the two of us, Bilbo. We never were very good at sharing.”

     “Yes you are. Just not with pastries.”

     “Now Bilbo, it’s awfully early in the day for comments like that.”

 

I don’t believe I’ve told you about the new terraces we’ve added to my garden. It’s getting out of hand to be perfectly honest, but I cannot seem to stop them expanding it. They’re so delighted every time I show them the seedlings poking through.

The new beds are hidden in a little cove on the side of the mountain so I can grow some more delicate things there. They put in a lovely wrought iron lattice and the sweet peas are already clamoring over it. Beneath that of course are several large peony bushes that are a bit behind, but starting to find their feet in the foreign soil. I think they’ll be splendid once they’re a bit more comfortable, but there’s no danger of losing them, the roots are too deep.

If you can withstand the gossips, I’ll send a bag of seeds over as a trade for the roses. There are some lovely deep purple flowers here with a delightful scent that make the best tea. You’ll be famous across the Shire, for once, for something beyond your wagging tongue.

Otherwise I’ll send them off to Drogo, and I’ll be sure to let him know that you lost the opportunity of them.

 

     “Bilbo? Are the eggs supposed to be leaking in the water?”

     “What? No! Stop touching that Thorin! They need to simmer longer. You ridiculous dwarf, can’t you just believe that and let them alone?”

     “No.”

     “Whyever not?”

     “Because when I do you make that face -- yes, that one -- and it’s a particular favorite of mine.”

     “...you are utterly, wholly ridiculous.”

     “So you’ve said. Why are you writing to her now? There’s a feast to be cooked. And you have insisted on doing it yourself. Bombur was well pleased, but if you don’t get it done, the others will be less forgiving than the two of us.”

     “I have news for her.”

     “Oh?”

     “Yes, and you’ll just have to wait and see.”

 

If you have not heard, I gifted a home to my cousin Drogo. It seems more and more likely with each letter he sends that he really will ask Primula to marry him once her father forgives that whole business with the broken door and the cow. As they’ll need somewhere to live where they can escape the Brandybucks, he now is the proud owner of a fine Smial midway between their families. That way he can have some peace. That includes you, Lobelia, leave the lad be or he’ll never manage to propose.

I did not give him Bag End. That property is still in my name, as I am sure you know. The Thain has written to me three times already on the subject.

Well Lobelia, I do hope you’re sitting down.

 

     “You aren’t!”

     “Don’t read over my shoulder Thorin! See what you’ve made me do?”

     “Just a scratch of ink. But this, Bilbo. You can’t.”

     “I most certainly can.”

     “Oh, are ya finally doing it?”

     “Yes, thank you, Dwalin I am, thought I made it clear that this was meant to be a surprise?”

     “Right, forgot about that bit.”

     “Bilbo? Truly?”

     “Yes.”

     “Bilbo?”

     “Yes Dwalin?”

     “You ought to tell her why. All of it, not the normal way the two of you snip at each other an’ talk sideways round what ya really mean. Bilbo -- no, don’t get like that. She deserves to know it. And that means you’ve got to tell her.”

 

If you aren’t sitting down, I suggest you do.

The Thain should have already received the letter and the appropriate paperwork from me long before you read this.

I am giving you Bag End Lobelia.

And I’ll not be reappearing to take it back from you this time. However, if the shock of that sentence has brought about your untimely end, it will be transferred to Hamfast’s keeping. I know he won’t do anything ludicrous with it. You have no need for a greenhouse, don’t bother.

The Thain has a list of the last of my things and will be sorting them out and sending them on a caravan to me here. The rest of it I leave to you.

My dwarves are insisting I explain why. I would rather not. But they are quite pushy and I am sure they will write themselves if I do not explain this myself. Bag End is a thank you. I do not know if you understood the state I was in at the time, and I rather hope you do not, but even at my worst, you persisted in being your normal irritating self. You never bothered to speak in that cloying, patient tone the rest of Hobbiton used after my garden began to fail. You never sought to treat me differently. When the rest of them gave up all hope and let me hide away, you continued to arrive, uninvited on my porch each week, sometimes twice a week, and bully your way inside.

I still do not know how you managed to break the lock that day, but it was extraordinarily well timed, though you do not know how true that is.

You are a bothersome, ingratiating, gossiping busybody, and quite proud of it, I think. You are also the only person who continued, in your rude and insulting way, to try for me. It was what I needed though. You were irritating enough that proving you wrong gave me something to fight for, and your snippy bickering visits gave me something to look forward to each week.

Since I never knew when you would come, I could hardly avoid them.

So, for being insufferable, and for saving my life, Bag End is yours.

 

     “You will not miss it?”

     “No, I will, but I’ve no intention of returning to live in the Shire. Though I would like to arrive at her door with as much of the Company as is willing to make the trip one day. She won’t turn us away but it will bother her enormously.”

     “Bilbo, you know that Dwalin and I have always understood that you have never referred to your time here as permanent. There is no need to do this for us.”

     “He’s not, Thorin.”

     “Bilbo?”

     “No, Dwalin is right. He and I discussed this. I am not doing this for you.”

     “So then why are you?”

     “Well I can hardly walk away from a garden as fine as mine is here. No, wait, I’ll answer honestly. Not that I could walk away from my garden here. And, well, I have no need to keep a house in the Shire. I’m already home you see. I’ve known that for some time now, and there was no sense pretending otherwise anymore. I plan to stay here, with you two, until the end of my days.”

     “Bilbo…”

     “No! Don’t get all sentimental and -- ah! let me go! -- I need to finish writing! Thorin, I can barely breathe, really, is this necessary? Dwalin! Help! No! No No No! That isn’t helping! Let me go the both of you!”

     “What do you say husband? Should we let him go?”

     “Never.”

     “Ridiculous dwarves.”

     “But we’re your ridiculous dwarves.”

     “Yes. You are.”

 

Try not to ruin Bag End with your nonsense cousin. But do replace the lock, I think whatever you did to it jammed it permanently. By the time you receive this you should be able to begin moving.

I expect to hear that my rose bush and my dishes are on their way the next time you write. All four sets, and whatever else you’ve taken from me over the years. I’ve no qualms about asking my dwarves’ kin in the Blue Mountains to come down and reclaim them if you don’t.

Good luck, you harridan.

 

Bilbo Baggins

Erebor