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Memory...6 The Party

Well alright, Fam, but if I tell you about that party, you're not to take it that you can behave the same way your dad did!

I remember it so well. The whole Shire had been talking about Bilbo's hundred and eleventh birthday party for weeks, and Merry and I delighted in taking full advantage of the festivities. Hobbits we barely knew had been buying us drinks for weeks to get some of the inside knowledge that everyone assumed we had, given our special relationship with Frodo and Bilbo! In every pub we visited there were hobbits ready to buy us a half pint to hear what was going on. Merry was in his glory, making up stories and spreading false information as quick as he could think it up.

Why, at the Swan over in Frogmorton, he told Gorbo Underhill that Bilbo was going to open up Bag End for a treasure hunt. You should have seen his eyes sparkle as he tried to keep a straight face! There was old Gorbo and a group of his cronies rubbing their hands together with glee at the idea of searching for Bilbo's hidden treasure.

On the actual day of the party, we arrived early and offered our services to 'help'! You'd ha' thought the Hobbiton crowd knew us well enough by then to be a bit suspicious - but then, they were run off their feet trying to set all the tables out and get the food on the tables in time. We helped, alright, helped ourselves to a bit of every dish and delicacy we could find! We scouted around and discovered where Gandalf had hidden his fireworks - though he didn't try ro hard to keep them out of sight - and where all the guests' presents were stored. There was a small tent set off to one side, a blue and white striped one, that had tables full of presents and toys. We played with some of the spinning tops that the men of Dale had made, and then Merry got the idea to rearrange everything! We hid behind the tent to watch, but it turned out that the prank really didn't make any difference because Bilbo just sent the guests in as they arrived to pick something!

We both pinched a few of the best toys, a top and some kites, but since there were a couple of littluns crying later when there weren't enough presents for all of them, we handed them over. Frodo saw us do that, which was a bit embarrassing, as he thought we'd gone looking for more to help out the poor kiddies. We felt a bit ashamed of that.

Never mind, we soon bounced back! By the time everyone was feasting, seriously feasting, that is, we were so stuffed that we couldn't eat a bite. Naturally that meant Merry had to come up with more mischief. He got the idea to hide all the instruments so the musicians would get into a stew! Especially, Boffo Bracegirdle, who always went really red if anyone dared to touch his drum! However, everyone was in such good spirits that even that didn't create a ripple. In fact, during the dancing Boffo even let Frodo play the drum.

Soon after the music started, it seemed as if the whole Shire was dancing. Gandalf was hilarious to watch, dancing with children a quarter his size! Frodo! He was dancing with everyone who came by. And Sam! We thought we'd split our sides watching him following Rosie with his eyes but not game enough to ask her for a dance. But at this time we had more serious tricks up our sleeves. As soon as Gandalf started letting off the smaller fireworks, Merry got a brilliant idea, or so it seemed at the time! 'Let's not wait for Gandalf - he's too slow at letting them off!' We sneaked into the tent beside his cart, and we hid until Gandalf was out of the way. To check if the coast was clear, Merry pretended to be just walking by eating an apple, while I hid inside trying to stifle my giggles. Then he rapped on the side of the tent to let me know Gandalf was gone, though I already knew because I could hear him chuckling as he headed off with some fireworks for the children.

Merry held up the side of the tent and I slipped out. Merry then hoisted me into the back of the wagon with a lovely pile of fireworks. I grabbed the nearest one, but Merry wanted to create more of a bang, if you get my joke. He wanted to fire off a big one! 'No, no! The big one, big one!' he says. So I grabbed the biggest I could see, which looked a bit like a lobster, though I don't know why considering what came out of it! We whipped it off the cart and into the tent quick smart. I didn't have a clear idea at the time of the proper procedure for setting one off, so while Merry had it standing on its end, 'just admiring it,' he told me later, I lit it!

Well didn't that start a panic! Merry yelled at me for being so stupid and pushed it over to me. That's when I saw what was going to happen, so I pushed it back over to him. 'It was your idea,' I told him! We flung it back and forth a few times until that little dilemma solved itself when the thing went off with a blast that knocked us both off our feet and took the whole tent with it! My eyebrows were singed, and I could smell Merry's front curls burning as we watched it soar upward, but what fun that was. It turned out to be the best firework of the night - the dragon - and it came swooping over the crowd with a roar like Smaug's at Dale with everyone screaming, running to get out of the way, knocking over tables and leaping into the pond!

'That was good!' said Merry, very pleased that the only successful prank all day had been so spectacular. 'Let's get another one!" But Gandalf just appeared and grabbed us both by an ear, and that was the end of our fun. Washing dishes for hours, we were, till my hands were wrinkled like walnut shells.

We aren't the ones that ended the surprises at the party though. That was left to Bilbo himself, when he gave his goodbye speech and just vanished. We knew right away that he must have put on that ring he thought was such a big secret, but apart from Frodo, no-one else knew about it, so it caused quite the commotion when he just vanished without a trace. But you already know all about that, Fam. It's still a topic of Shire gossip!