Mr Bilbo Baggins, of Bag End, was in no doubt of his respectability within the borough of Hobbiton. Always he prided himself on the order of his house, most notably his well stocked pantry, the fertility and fruitfulness of his garden and the fullness of his pipe with the finest pipe-weed in the south farthing, Old Toby. Yet what he saw before him was a hobbit hole in disarray, mud on the carpet, cloaks strune about his precious furniture and most notably of all, most notably of all a twelve Dwarfs about his table stuffing their faces and slopping his fine ale about the place.
Bilbo had had enough!
"Gandalf! Gandalf, if I may have a moment of your attention"
"Yes my dear Bilbo" the wizard replied
"Would you please care to explain for what reason I have been ransacked and ridiculed by these fowl" Bilbo whispered the word "dwarfs"
The look on Gandalf's face was one between bemusement and laughed
"My dear hobbit did I not inform you earlier this day that you were to accompany me on an adventure?"
Bilbo could not believe what he was hearing on what grounds did Gandalf presume that the mornings strange conversation had been an invitation to allow this group of noisy folk into his beautiful and once spotless hobbit hole. Bilbo took a deep breath and steadied himself.
"Enough now Gandalf, you will tell me everything there is to know about this ghastly situation now or I will inform this gathering that they must take their feasting and shouting onto the roads and fields of Hobbiton where, I can assure you, they will come across an even more unruly welcome than they have received here" Bilbo, although he had attempted to resist the urge during his rant stamped his hairy foot a little.
"Very well Bilbo, I had hoped to see the arrival of the last of this party before telling you the story but since your hospitality is at stake I shall fill you in".
Gandalf led Bilbo into the study away from the dwarfs, who were still at their supper, and shut the door. "This is no ordinary gathering of the dwarf folk my lad" Gandalf began, "they intend to embark on a most important and historic quest". Bilbo raised his eyebrows mockingly. "These dwarfs are from Erebor, the lonely mountain or...at least they were". Gandalf proceeded to tell Bilbo of Erebor of Thrain and of Thror and of Smaug.
As Gandalf spoke Bilbo was drawn in to the sad tale Gandalf told he relaxed into his chair, his mouth opened slightly and his brow furrowed. "And so" said Gandalf "our friends who now sit in your kitchen seek to claim back their homeland and re-crown Thorin, their King Under the Mountain"
Bilbo was perplexed, he felt guilty, rude and ashamed at his treatment and thoughts towards the dwarfs. He was aware of the growing silence as it seemed Gandalf had finished his tale. Bilbo gave a little awkward cough as he tried to think of some appropriate comment that might justify or redeem his behaviour, he thought of nothing and instead spluttered out "Thorin".
"Hmmm?" said Gandalf
"Thorin" repeated Bilbo "who is he"
"Oh my word" gasped the wizard "I haven't told you about the brave leader or the dwarf troop. He is the son of Thror and heir to the throne of Elebor, he will lead this mighty quest to the lonely mountain".
"Why has he not joined us?"
"It seems he is a little late, he is journeying from a meeting of other dwarf tribes to ask for their help in reclaiming his lands"
"Oh" muttered Bilbo "Right". Silence again
THUMP THUMP THUMP
"The door!" Bilbo jumped up
"Thorin" nodded Gandalf, together they hastened to the round front door which Bilbo opened. It wasn't Thorin at all.
"Uncle Bilbo what on middle earth is going on in your kitchen!" Bilbo was stunned for a second.
"Yes of course its me Uncle!" she huffed and bounced over the threshold craning her neck to peer further inside the hobbit hole.
The first thing to notice about Kate was the unmissable spring in her step which was often accopanied by a large smile and her face. She was an inch shorter than Bilbo and at the age of 19 was unlikly to grow any more. Her hair was a chesnut brown and fell in soft waves about her eyes which were large with eyelashes that framed their green beauty.
Even at her young age Bilbo's sweet niece had already recieved six offers of marriage but all were refused by the girl who although she was not unkind, was a little proud and held her head a notch higher than some would have seen it raised.
"And who are you?" Kate turned to Gandalf "No it can't be" she said not even giving Gandalf time to answer. "You're him" Bilbo looked between his niece and the wizard "That old man" Bilbo coughed "Oh, you know the one with the fireworks...your called...your called"
"Gandalf" beamed Gandalf bending low and kissing the girls hand "And if I'm not mistaken your name is Kate Arabella Took"
"That's me!" she smiled "And I don't mind telling you Mr Gandalf the whole of Hobbiton is in an uproar about all this. Dwarfs trapezing through our fields at this time of night". Gandalf crocked smile was growing larger and larger. Bilbo thought it was about high time he intervened.
"There you go Gandalf, you heard what my niece said, the whole of Hobbiton in an uproar. I must say I am very saddened to hear the dark tale of Elebor but now it is surely clear to you that I must have no further part in this 'adventure' ".
"Adventure?" asked Kate.
End of Chapter One