“Xena! Over here! You’ve got to see this!” Gabrielle’s excited voice called from the edge of the forest.
“What did you find?” Xena gently pushed some branches aside, spotted her friend and joined her at the clearing.
“Look at that! What do you think it is?” Gabrielle pointed some distance away to what appeared to be a small tree-topped hill. It took Xena a minute to realize there was a door under the hill—a round door made out of a sturdy-looking wood that Xena was unable to place for the moment.
“It looks like a door.”
“Really. Thank you, Xena, I never would have figured that out on my own,” Gabrielle said sarcastically “What I meant was, do you think someone lives there, or is it merely used for storage? I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and remember I come from a small farming village.”
“So did I, originally, and I’ve never seen anything like it either.” While they watched, smoke rose up from the top of the hill. They realized there was a chimney sitting at the back of the mound, which answered their question.
“That’s definitely a house,” Gabrielle decided, “although I can’t imagine what type of person could be living there.”
“Only one way to find out,” Xena said, and started toward the house under the hill.
As they approached, the round door opened and a tiny little man, no more than about three and a half feet tall, stepped out. Pulling the door shut behind him, he pulled a long-stemmed pipe from his pocket, filled and lit it, then took a long puff and blew smoke rings into the air, a row of perfect circles. Looking pleased with himself, he turned and spied Xena and Gabrielle.
“Oh, hello! I wasn’t expecting visitors today, but Bag End is always open to friends, old and new! My name is Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, at your service.” He bowed deeply to the two speechless friends.