In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit, who had yet to become the oldest hobbit to live in the Shire until the time of one of his descendents. This tale, however, is not about that descendent. This tale begins with The Old Took. At this point in the tale, however, he is not yet known as The Old Took. That will come later. In the meantime, he must be referred to by his birth name, Gerontius Took.
Gerontius Took lived in Hobbiton. At the beginning of this tale, he was celebrating his thirty-third birthday in the year 2823 of the Third Age of Middle-earth (1223 of the Shire Reckoning). For hobbits, this meant that he was coming of age. His father seventy-eight-year-old father, Fortinbras, was the Thain, and he wanted his son to have a memorable party.
"I only wish your mother could be here for this, son," Fortinbras said. "I wish she had never gotten ill. But we should not dwell on that fact. She would have wanted you to have a splendid time with all of these fellow hobbits."
"I will, father," Gerontius said.
Many tables were set outside for the party. The chefs brought out the cooked meat while the bakers brought out the sweet desserts. The birthday cake was almost as tall as an average hobbit. All inhabitants of Hobbiton were invited, and there were even guests who had traveled from Buckland to make it. The elderly hobbit Gormadoc Brandybuck prepared his eating utensils for dinner.
"Just tellme that the party has started so that I may delve into this delicious plate of salted pork!" Gormadoc said eagerly.
"Go ahead, Deepdelver," Fortinbras commanded. "The party has begun, and it is time for merrymaking. After all, we are celebrating my son's coming of age."
Gormadoc was already cutting through the meat on his plate by the time Fortinbras finished that sentence. His sons Madoc and Sadoc watched him in amusement. The former was sitting next to his wife, Hanna Goldworthy, who was holding their six-year-old baby, Marmadoc.
"Deepdelver indeed!" Saradoc said.
When it was time for dessert, Gormadoc delved into the sweets as well.
"You ought to try some, lad!" he said to his eldest son.
"I have had enough, thank you," Madoc said.
"He is afraid of getting some fat in his neck," Hanna said.
"Then we ought to call him Proudneck!" Gormadoc said.
When it got dark, an uninvited stranger arrived at the party. He wore a grey cloak and a grey, pointed hat. He carried a staff and had a long, white beard on his face. He was pulling a wheelbarrow full of fireworks. As he held up his staff, standing hobbits parted before him. The hobbits fell silent.
"Who are you that interrupts the festivities that are being held in the honor of my son?" Fortinbras asked.
"I did not wish to interrupt," the stranger explained. "I only wish to take part."
"What part would you play?" Gerontius asked.
"This is a party, is it not? I take it that you are Gerontius Took?"
"You took the right guess. But how do you know my name?"
"Why, how could I not? You are currently popular among the hobbits of The Shire. I was enjoying a rest at the Prancing Pony in Bree when I heard a group of hobbits speak of the coming of age of Gerontius Took. A coming of age is a very important occasion. As such, I thought it fitting to bring a few of my own inventions. These are called fireworks."
"They sound dreadful!" Fortinbras said.
"You are mistaking them for dragons, which are winged creatures of the north with scales as strong as steel. They would breathe fire all over the land if it meant obtaining a hoard of gold. Dragons are unfit for parties. Fireworks, however, are fit."
"How do they work?" Gerontius asked.
"With fire, of course!"
Gandalf used his wand to cast a fire spell that lit one of the fireworks, sending it up into the air. The explosion and its sound frightened the hobbits. The colors that followed assuaged their fears.
"Now that you have shown us, I believe that you should be on your way out of here," Fortinbras said. "After all, you were not invited. Pardon me, but I do not even know who you are."
"I am Gandalf the Grey, a wizard of the Order sent from across the sea to help all in need. I do believe that you need fireworks. What does the hobbit of this special day say?"
Gerontius stared curiously at the rest of the fireworks.
"Light up the rest!" he answered. "After all, this is a party. It should be a merry old time!"
Gandalf lit up the rest of the fireworks one by one, each one better than the last. The hobbit children were amazed by the color that covered the nightsky. The finale contained multiple explosions that made thunderous sounds. After a moment of silence, Gerontius smiled and applauded. This was followed by thunderous applause from the rest of the hobbits.
"Now, it is time for me to give you your gift," Gandalf said.
"Were the fireworks not my present?" Gerontius asked.
"Those were for everyone. I have kept your birthday present hidden for quite some time."
Gandalf revealed the box and handed it to Gerontius, who opened it eagerly. When he looked inside, he saw two diamond studs. Gandalf pointed his wand at them, causing them to fasten themselves. Most of the hobbits gasped.
"How did you do that?" Gerontius asked.
"Magic," Gandalf answered. There are many mysterious things that lie beyond this secluded land: dragons, goblins, giants... Perhaps I shall tell you all about them someday. For now, I shall depart."
"But you have only just arrived!" Gerontius exclaimed.
"I can tell when I have overstayed my welcome. Worry, not! I shall return someday and tell you all tales of the lands beyond. Until then, farewell!"
With that, Gandalf the Grey departed, leaving the hobbits bewildered.