Mad Baggins – A Gaffer’s Tale

by Jun 23, 2004Stories

“The second disappearance of Mr. Bilbo Baggins… became a fireside story for young hobbits, and eventually Mad Baggins, who used to vanish with a bang and a flash and reappear with bags of jools and gold, became a favourite character of legend and lived on long after all the true event were forgotten.” (FotR, ch. 2)

‘Gather round, ye lads and lasses, and I will tell you a tale of Mad Baggins, him what lived long ago up at the Bag End, where lives the Gardner family now.
‘A fine place it was, even then, and a finer lot of jool he had there, for Mad Baggins was rich, ooh, ever so rich. Why they say the tunnels were just filled up with gold, and jools: diamonds, and rubies, and pearls, no doubt. Treasure he got on his wanderings. Some say as he stole it, stole the whole lot of it, but I’m not sayin’ that. No, I’m just here to tell of one adventure he had, one o’ the very same I heard tell of when I was a lad. And it goes like this…
‘One fine day Mad Baggins was sitting up in his house, writin’. Nobody knows what it was he wrote about, poems and elvish rubbish, no doubt. He was always writin’, shut up in Bag End, or walking lonely like about Hobbiton and t’whole Farthing. And whenever he’d lay eyes on some decent, respectable hobbit going about his business on the road, quick as a wink – so long as they was alone, mind you – Mad Baggins would give a Bang, Boom, and flash up a light so bright like a thousand candles all lit up at once and disappear into the very thin air! And that weren’t no easy trick, neither, him being as hobbit like as any, on t’outsided leastways; he had a good sized stomach. Nary a one would see hide nor hair of him for a good long spell, until one day he’d come walking straight down the road and into his house, just like that, and what do you think he had with him? Sacks! Sacks full o’ treasure! Sacks and boxes, that he carried up inside o’ Bag End, and hid there. And what’s more, sometimes he’d bring his mates with him, strange folk out o’ the wild, one’s he’d gone a’disappearing with on adventrues, no doubt. Dwarves, with hair growing in beards down their chins and into their belts. And when folk start messin’ around with dwarves, then they’re done for; yessir, that’s when the trouble started, no doubt. As I was saying, they come one day, them Dwarves did, One Hundred of them all told. And without so much as a by-your-leave they walked straight through Hobbiton like some kind o’ big minded folk, and where do you reckon they were headed? Yessir, sure as I’m a hobbit they walked right up to Mad Bagginses place, in the gate and through the door, and Mad Baggins let them in! Let them right in like they was his own kin, or more like as not, seein’ as how he never was too friendly like with those Sackville-Bagginses. A nasty lot, and he was even nastier. Or p’raps not so nasty as just plain silly, no Baggins has ever been quite right in the head.
‘As I say, they went in, shut the door, and stayed there, right comfortable, which shows you just how big a hole Bag End is! And they stayed there for weeks and weeks, or leastways, nobody knows, because one day they was gone, and Mad Baggins with them, and some say as that Gandalf was with them too, but I’m not sayin’ that. Some say as those Dwarves put a spell on Mad Baggins, so’s he wouldn’t call out for help when they was kidnapping him. For kidnap him they did, sure enough, or I’m not a hobbit. They took him by the deviousest of by-ways out o’ the Shire, and made him lead their way.
‘Now Dwarves, they’re just crazy about jools and treasure, crazier than Mad Baggins was. And seein’ as he had a way of smellin’ out where the treasure was, they took him to be their guide, but they weren’t nice to him, oh no, Dwarves don’t know the meaning of nice. Why they say that they’d make Mad Baggins climb trees, great big trees, and stay there for long times, lookin’ out as a scout for trolls and such like. There were a lot more trolls and orcs around in those days, but still, only a Dwarf would make a body actually do the dangerous, and Climb a Tree! Ooh, it makes my poor old bones shudder, just thinking of it, so it do. And now comes the part what tells you why your mum’s are always tellin’ you Not to climb in trees.
‘Do you reckon you know what happened when Mad Baggins was up in those trees? Well, Spiders! Horrible, terrible Spiders, bigger ‘n t’inn at Bywater, and stronger than a fourteen-twenty beer on a cold night. They surrounded Mad Baggins, clicking their tweezers and claws at him and their eyes glowing in the dark. Poor old Mad Baggins, he hadn’t t’faintest idea what to do, him being stuck – as I say – up in that tree. Anyway he called and yelped for help, and them Dwarves looked up and saw t’Spiders, and what do you reckon they did? They left him there! Left him at the un-mercy of the Spiders! Didn’t they go and help him, him what they sent up in the tree in the first place, and kidnapped from his rightful home, what’s more? Nossir, not the Dwarves! Besides being greedy and un-nice, they’re downright lily-livered cowards, so they are.
‘So Mad Baggins, he saw that the Dwarves weren’t going to help him out o’ his predikamint, so he uped and Bang Boom disappeared! Then he magiced up a sword, and killed them Spiders with a whish and a crash and slit them all up ’til they were laying on the ground, killed dead. Then he climbed down the tree, real careful like, and went back to the Dwarves. They thought he was a wonder, and said they would give him all their jools. So Mad Baggins told them, “Alright then, mates, I won’t kill you with my sword I magiced up,” and he un-magiced his sword so’s it disappeared. Then the Dwarves said to him, they says, “Lead us the way, O Great Baggins, and show us where the jools may be found!” And so he did.
‘Now some say as there were a few Spiders what didn’t die, and they chased the Dwarves and Mad Baggins around, but I’m not sayin’ that. Because it the Spiders were chasing them, how did they get to the river, and get them barrels? No, my guess is the other story is right, and they got captured by those Elves. Now the Elves are a dangerous folk, always looking up at t’stars – which I’m not against doing, mind you, but they look at ’em so much they’re liable to keel over from tripping on a stone and break their heads, which a lot of them have already done, no doubt, seein’ the odd ways they have. And another thing, they’re always fooling around with water and boats, not un-like those Brandybucks, and anybody knows that’s both dangerous and foolish. Why, folk get drownded that way! Anyhow, these Elves were dodgy, and they wanted to have a little fun, seein’ as how they’re always so bored like, having naught to do but look at stars and sing all the time and all. They stuffed the Dwarves in barrels, sneering the whole time, no doubt, and put the barrels in the river, wanting them to die. And maybe they would have, save for Mad Baggins disappearing. He disappeared and climbed atop one o’ them barrels, and rode it down t’river. He found some drink, and he found some grub, and he sang a song o’ the Shire, floatin’ down the river, happy as a cow and it’s cud, no doubt, albeit he had a dreadful sneezing cold.
‘He went down t’river, until he came to a grea big Mountain, stuffed to the bursting it was with treasure. Mad Baggins saw it, and his head nigh cracked open with all the thoughts of gold and jools. He stood up on top o’ his barrel, and he yelled at the Mountain, “I’m a’comin’! Open up your doors, you old man Mountain, because I’m comin’ in, and that treasure is Mine!” Then, quicker’n a raindrop in t’middle of a thunderstorm, he jumped into the water and cut open the barrels with the Dwarves inside. Then he yelled, “To the Mountain!” and swam like a eel right down into the lake what fell in a waterfall out the doors of the Mountain. He was so fired up about that treasure that he uped and swam straight up the waterfall and up the river! But when he got inside, he found out somatt that he hadn’t known before.
‘He smelled a horrible stink, and at first he thought it was from the walls, being as how this was a Dwarves’ place, but then he knowed what it was. Dragon!
‘Mad Baggins was so afraid he sank to the floor in a little heap and just sat there, shaking like jelly. My guess is he was really scared for the first time in his life, but being mad he suddenly jumped up again. And what did he do but magic up a sword and three trolls; trolls I say! And if that isn’t proof he was mad I don’t know what is. So he said, “Trolls, go kill me that Dragon!” But the trolls was afraid, and they was hungry too, seein’ as how Mad Baggins had forgot to feed them before he brung them to life. So they turned around and saw what they reckoned was choicer and easier meal, Mad Baggins hisself! They jumped on him, and tied him up, and set wolves to guard him, while they made a fire and decided how to cook him up.
‘So should I stop there? Poor old Mad Baggins, he looks like he’s about to be cooked up right and proper, don’t he now? Are you sure you want to hear the rest o’ the story?

(Well, do you? Please tell me if you do!)


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