The last thing Frodo wanted to do was sort through Bilbo’s gifts. His uncle had ensured him that their guests received gifts. Did he have a choice? Of course not, but he must do this with respect, behaving as mature as possible.
At last, he was ready to go, dressed in his white dress shirt, beige suspenders, floral patterned red waistcoat, and brown knee breeches. He didn’t have to look into the mirror, other than check and see if his thick, curly brown hair was combed just right. Yes, he was still the same fair-featured, blue-eyed hobbit with short pointy ears and lighter-than-usual skin, due to the Fallohide blood on his mother’s side.
Okay, he could do this. He was all set and ready to go. Wait. Why was he nervous? He had this! No trip-ups. He was good.
He left his bedroom and made his way out into the living room. Yes, there were Bilbo’s gifts, all waiting for him and his guests. One by one, and with some difficulties, Frodo managed to give everyone their gifts. Of course, he had to show Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and Sancho Proudfoot the front door, due to their snooping throughout Bag End.
He sighed in relief when the last guest was away and it was just him, as well as his curly brown-haired cousin Merry Brandybuck. He didn’t count on Gandalf showing up and saying a few words, before retiring to the guest room. Frodo sighed a second time, glad everything was in check now.
He stood up, telling his younger cousin, “Make us some tea, Merry. I’ll be in the study, sorting through Bilbo’s books. Then I’m heading off to bed.”
“You sure you don’t want any help,” Merry asked, concerned.
“I’ll be fine.” Frodo smiled. “Really, you enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.”
“Okay.” Merry looked around the room in angst. “I’ve got a bad feeling in my chest. And whenever that happens, you know something’s bound to happen tonight.”
“Come on, Merry. What’s the worst that could happen?” Frodo asked in disbelief. “I’ll see you later.” He darted off to the study without another word.
Bag End’s hallway was long and rounded along the walls. The floors were wood-paneled with rugs everywhere, while the walls were beige color. Benches sat along the walls, giving it a nice place to sit down and chat for a while. When Frodo entered the study, he found the fireplace’s flames had gone out. There were books scattered on the wood-paneled floor while a rug with an intricate design of a flower sat in the middle of the room. The writing desk sat in front of the window, which now shown the late afternoon sky and the sunset.
Frodo turned his gaze to one of the books sitting on top of a pile of books. There were skulls on the front cover, while an emblem was designed on the centermost part of the book. Flames erupted from the fireplace, as Frodo picked it up. He looked back, stunned to see the fiery glow coming from the fireplace itself. It was as if he had picked up a book containing some magic, whether good or ill.
Just as he moved the book off the pile, a folded parchment slid out from one of its pages, landing on the floor in a gentle, rugged way. Frodo set the book down, unfolding the parchment, revealing a map of the White Downs and a tomb in the centermost part of the downs.
“What is this?” Frodo asked, intrigued. He would have to ask Gandalf about it in the morning when everyone was wide awake.
Frodo missed his chance to speak to Gandalf about the map. Just as he was about to tell the Wizard, Gandalf left Bag End in a flurry. Frodo huffed. It was just as well, but still… it seemed like Frodo’s chance to explore a tomb sounded like a great expedition, to say the least. What could possibly go wrong?
He turned to Merry, pulling out the map from his back pocket and displaying it on the dining room table. That shocked his younger cousin!
“Where did you find this?” Merry asked, noticing how worn down the parchment was. “This map looks very old.”
“Can you tell me what it is, what it means?” Frodo asked, curious.
“The White Downs are at Michel Delving and Little Delving,” Merry said, shocked. “I mean, you’re not just going to walk over there, demanding to find a tomb that no one knows exists, are you?”
“It’s worth a try,” Frodo said, excited. “Come on. What’s the worst that can happen?” He patted Merry’s shoulder, telling him, “Besides, I’ll bring you and Sam along as proof that I found something.”
“More like dug up something. Is this really necessary?” Merry asked, nervously.
“What? Are you scared? Come on! I think we ought to try it,” Frodo said, realizing he should be more concerned about the dangers of heading inside a tomb, but he put those thoughts aside. It was worth the risk, wasn’t it?
“Well, I suppose we can check it out. We’ll ride there, and give Gaffer the key to Bag End,” Merry said, handing Frodo back the map.
“I’ll be right on it, Merry,” Frodo said, grabbing his traveling cloak and heading out the door, taking the key to Bag End with him.
“You’re doing what now?” Sam, also a curly, brown-haired hobbit, asked out of concern towards Frodo’s adventure. He shivered at the thought of going inside a tomb. “I wouldn’t risk going to a tomb! Leave the dead where they lie, Mr. Frodo!”
“Come on, Sam! Wouldn’t you like to explore an ancient tomb?” Frodo asked, egging him on.
“This venture better not lead to anything evil in the Shire!” Gaffer told him, annoyed. Then again, he smiled. “Well, let’s hope you bring Sam home before dinner.”
“Gaffer,” Sam said, hesitantly. He looked at Frodo, shaking his head. “Fine, but Rosie’s coming with me.”
“Rosie? You sure you’re ready?” Frodo asked, waggling his eyebrows.
“Mr. Frodo, I just want to spend time with her. It’ll be… interesting seeing how she’ll react. Maybe she’ll give me a shoulder to cry on while we’re down there,” Sam said, shyly.
“Or one in reverse,” Merry laughed.
“All right. Come on. If you’re ready, let’s go!” Frodo said, leading the group down the road and towards the Green Dragon, where they hoped to meet up with Rosie.
“You three must be mad, exploring a tomb!” Rosie whispered to Frodo, Sam, and Merry, as soon as Frodo explained his plan to her. “I have work to do! I can’t just go off on some wild, hair-brained adventure!”
“I’m sure the innkeeper can give you a week off. Michel Delving’s not that far from here and I want to see this tomb.” Frodo said, curtly. He showed her the map. “This map is old, but it may show us something we’ve never seen before.” He told her in encouragement, “Come on, Rosie. What’s the worst that can happen?”
“Traps, pests, lots of salt acid,” Rosie said, concerned.
“Come on. Live a little. I need to find out what’s down there,” Frodo said in encouragement.
“Please, Rosie. Do it for Frodo,” Sam said in defense of his best friend.
“Fine,” Rosie said, agreeing to their wishes, “but you three had better not be wrong about this. We’re not warrior material.”
“Well, some of us are,” Frodo said, cheekily. “Why? Afraid that someone will come out and get you?” He smiled, enjoying this moment.
“You’re ridiculous, but I’ll come with you. Just don’t fool me into going off on a wild goose chase. What if we don’t find anything down there?” Rosie asked, concerned.
“That’s why we’re going, to find out what’s down there,” Frodo said, grinning.
“Alright, let me talk to the innkeeper,” Rosie said, heading off into the next room. Frodo smiled in relief when she came out, ready to start this venture. Frodo took the map, folded it, and stuffed it in his pocket, before he followed his friends out the door, heading off at last on another adventure throughout the Shire.
He hoped there wasn’t anything inside the tomb. If there wasn’t, then he was in real trouble.