The Lord of the... whatever, Rare Manuscripts:
Wriggles In The Dark
Debate still continues as to whether some passages from
the Professor's earlier work, The Habit, or There And
Back And There And Back And There And Back, are canonical,
or offensive, or indeed even written by the author at
all. Since copies of the original edition of The Habit are
now scarce due to the 1939 factory recall, the editors of
the E-Text have seen fit to include this rare fragment of
the original work in hopes it may shed some light, or
darkness, or at least an obscuring fog, over portions of
the E-Text to which it relates.
When Bilbo opened his eyes, he rather wished he hadn't; the lurid,
pulsating colors of the glow-in-the-dark posters on the walls made his
eyes hurt; but they cast no gleam into the darkness of the house
corridor sufficient to allow him to find his way.
He tried to get up, only to find that standing was worse than
lying down. His head felt like it would burst. He was cold and sticky,
and thought he could smell the stench of his own vomit; but he could
neither see nor hear the sounds of frat-goblin partying. "Must be
about noon out there," he thought to himself, but there were no clocks
or any other way of telling time in the frat-tunnels.
Bilbo fell back onto his knees and his head felt a little better.
He began to crawl, guessing vaguely that the smell of orc-weed was
stronger in one direction than another. He crawled for a good long
way, until suddenly he put his hand down, hard, on a sharp-edged ring
of cold metal lying on the floor. "Ow!" he grumbled angrily to
himself. "Don't these goblins ever sweep the floor?" He put
instinctively put his hand to his mouth, only to find that the ring had
come with it, adhering to a half-dry, half-slimy crust on his palm.
"Blecch," he whispered, and took the ring to throw it away, only to find
that he had accidentally put it in his pocket. He shrugged and sat
down on the floor.
Where was he? Somewhere deep in the house-dungeons of Omicron Rho
Kappa. What had happened? The last thing he could remember for sure
was a huge hairy frat-goblin offering him another brewski. Why had he
been left behind, instead of continuing the rounds of the progressive
party? Why did his head hurt so much? And why was he beginning to
have visions of comely hobbit-lasses romping in the meadows of the
He put these thoughts out of his mind as soon as he noticed that
he was ravenously hungry. "Nothing to eat since that huge bratwurst
roast yesterday," he thought. Or was it the day before yesterday?
Pipe-weed kills appetite, he remembered, and began to feel about
himself for the fixings. Pipe - check. Zippo lighter - check. Stash -
gone. "Lost! Precious is lost!" he howled, throwing himself upon the
ground and weeping.
It was another half hour before he realized that he could use his
Zippo lighter to light his way through the tunnels. He drew it out.
It shone pale and dim before his eyes. So the fluid's getting low.
But somehow he was comforted. It was rather splendid to be holding a
lighter made in the ancient days of Arvegetal, when petroleum ran
freely. He rose to his feet, damning his headache, and strode on.
Hobbits, as everyone knows, live in holes, and have a hundred ways of
hiding from law enforcement. So Bilbo was not in quite such a bad
situation as you or I might be. Still, I wouldn't have liked to be in
his shoes. Actually, the shoes would have been all right, if he had
had any; but he had not, and the floor beneath his feet was grimy and
sticky with the remains of he knew not how many frat-parties.
The tunnel went on and on, going down pretty steadily despite the
occasional turn. Every now and then he came to a small red fire alarm
or telephone box, but despite the hope they aroused in him, they were
invariably vandalized beyond use. I don't know how long he went on,
but it was much longer than the longest Led Zeppelin song, until he was
tireder than tired.
Suddenly, without warning, he trotted onto carpet, clean and free
from beer stain or cigarette butt. That stopped him short. He did not
know whether he had crossed into an administrative section of High Pass
U, or whether he had stumbled upon an ancient and unused section of OPK
House. Bilbo's Zippo was hardly shining at all. He could hear, when
he listened hard, a distant, dull thump-thump-thump noise; but there
seemed no other sort of sound.
Slowly now and carefully he sneaked on. The thump-thumping grew
louder. A strange yellow gleam crept across the carpet -- enough to
see by, and he put his Zippo away. Off in the distance the gleam
outlined a door barely ajar. From it the thump-thumping seeemed to be
Bilbo sneaked closer. The thumping was now very loud, loud enough
to drown out all other sounds, though he thought he could hear among it
the strains of a high voice singing. It did not sound like a
Just in front of the door there was a tall box like a hamper; on
it was a sign which seemed to read Drige claene anelig. His
hobbit-nature getting the better of him, Bilbo reached into the top and
pulled out a long, beautifully silky blue dress, with only a small
stain on it. His trained eye appraised it as valuable, and without
further thinking, he wadded it up (it made a surprisingly small ball)
and put it inside his rather hefty wallet, which included quite a
number of things that the Dwarves and Gandalf had mislaid. Then,
slowly and carefully, he opened the door.
There are strange things living in the cellars of High Pass U and
its assorted frat-houses; odd people who had stumbled in, years ago,
and never being able to find their way out had survived on stale
Chee-tos and bubbler water. The frat-goblins for the most part ignored
them, but occasionally they found them useful and profitable; for fun,
and other things.
Deep down here in the laundry room lived Gullible, a pretty, young
creature. I don't know where she came from or what her real name was;
she was Gullible, carefree, light-footed, red-haired, and much too
young for you even to be thinking about, you perv. She made her living
doing the frat-goblins' laundry, and had built a decent, if excessively
provocative, wardrobe out of the goblins' girlfriends' garments that
had somehow got mixed in. The goblins themselves rarely came down
here; mostly they dumped their dirty clothing down a laundry chute far
above, and then hoisted the clean laundry back by dumbwaiter.
When Bilbo opened the door, there she was in the long, brightly lit
laundry room, folding goblin-garments on a table and singing to
Fliegel-Schmiegel, pudding and pop,
Kiththed the girlth and knocked them up;
When the frat-orcth came to play,
Fliegel-Schmiegel ran away!
Bilbo stood in amazement. That was an ancient ditty, well known in the
Shire! How had this girl, so many hundreds of miles away, learned it?
Could it be that - perhaps - she was a hobbit herself? He shuffled his
feet on the floor.
She paid no attention.
He cleared his throat. Still no response. Louder this time.
"'SCUSE ME, MISS!"
Gullible dived under the table. A couple of seconds later her
pale green eyes showed up warily above the tabletop.
"You're th'potht to put your laundry down the chute," she
whispered in a voice so soft that Bilbo really could not hear it at
all above the thumping noise from the washers and dryers. Luckily,
he was good at reading lips.
"WHO ARE YOU?"
"Who are you?" came the whispered reply.
"I'M BILBO BAGGINS. I'M LOST. CAN YOU TELL ME THE WAY OUT?"
There came the faint shadow of a nod, or maybe it was the shake
of a head. This was no use. Bilbo crossed the floor and came closer,
but Gullible ducked back towards a closet door. Bilbo was faster.
He stepped between her and the door, and with one arm stopped her from
escaping in another direction. She flattened herself out against a
dryer door, clearly terrified, but she had nowhere to go.
"Easy," said Bilbo. "Take it easy. I'm not going to hurt you.
I just want you to answer some questions, and..." And then what? Bilbo
wasn't quite sure. Strange ideas were floating through his head. It
was a long time since he had found himself this close to a woman; in
the Shire, he had lived alone, and since he had left he had only been
in the company of the strong, hairy, dwarfly dwarves. Which was okay,
of course, but this -- this was different. He cast his gaze upon her
slightly wavy reddish-blonde hair. The smooth, delicate curve of her
neck. Her white skin, lightly touched with pale freckles. And further
down, over the very revealing neckline of her dress (where did she get
those fashions!) to where he could just see the swell of her
Bilbo shook his head and shuddered violently. She couldn't be
more than twenty. Twenty, for goodness' sake! What was he thinking.
"Questions," Gullible whispered. "Riddleth? I like riddleth."
"Uh, sure," said Bilbo. "Riddles. Of course." He stepped back
and put the laundry table between them. His knees were shaking.
"You athk firtht," Gullible said, smiling shyly. Bilbo was ugly,
but he was much better looking than the frat-goblins, and besides he
was the only person her own size that she'd seen for years.
"Okay," replied Bilbo, trying to think of a riddle. "Umm...
What's the root that nobody sees,
Gets harder than trees,
Up up it goes,
As longer it grows?
Where did that come from? "Er, no, wait. That's not what I meant to
say. What I meant was 'Why did the chicken cross the road?'"
"To get to the other thide," answered Gullible. "That'th eathy.
Why don't we have a contetht? If you win, I'll tell you how to get
out. If you don't..." She giggled. "Maybe I'll keep you here. Now
it'th my turn..."
Eighty-eight keys laid out on a board,
They open neither chest, coffer, nor hoard.
Bilbo knew the answer as well as you do. "Piano!" he said,
without even thinking.
It delves in the dark, down into a hole,
It's long as a lizard and hard as a pole;
It brings about laughter from some when it's small;
It's ready for action when it has grown tall.
Damn! "No, wait -- how about this one instead -- what did the grape
say when the Oliphaunt stepped on it?"
"Nothing -- it jutht let out a little whine," answered Gullible.
"Now I'll go..."
It spins round and round, but never gets dizzy;
It's filled with a water that's frothy and fizzy;
It eats up filth and dirt devours,
It normally takes three-fourths of an hour.
In another situation, this might have caused Bilbo some problems;
but the answer was easy for him now, as it was all around him. "Washing
machine, of course!"
But by now he was getting bored, and wanted to leave. He thought
of an old chestnut about sun on the daisies. "This ought to puzzle the
nasty sexy underground creature," he thought. "I didn't think that."
An eye in a bald face
Saw an eye in a hairy face.
This eye wants to meet that eye,
But in a low place...
Damn! thought Bilbo. All of my riddles are coming out wrong! Uhh...
"How many frat-goblins does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
Whew - that could have been worse.
"Three," answered Gullible. "One to hold the bulb, and two to
That wasn't the answer Bilbo was expecting, but according to the
ancient and accepted rules of the Riddle-game (by Hoïl), it was a
suitable answer and he had to accept it.
Gullible was also getting impatient; she still had a stack of
laundry left unfolded, and decided to try a really difficult riddle.
Why is a raven like a writing dethk?
Now Bilbo was very upset. He'd heard the riddle before, of course,
but never heard of an acceptable answer. "Not fair!" he said. "It isn't
fair to ask why a raven is like a writing desk!"
But Gullible stuck to her question. "Why is a raven like a writing
Bilbo grumbled. "Three guesses -- you've got to give me three
"All right, guess away."
"Umm... they both begin with R."
"Riting? Come on. Guess again."
"Uh - they both have quills?"
"How many quill pens have you seen in the thirtieth century? Wrong
again. Last guess!"
Now Bilbo was in a much worse state. He grumbled and swore and
paced up and down and slapped himself and wriggled and squirmed; but
still he did not dare waste his last guess; he had to get away from here
before things got worse. "Come on," said Gullible. "I'm waiting."
She smiled saucily. He continued to pace, slapping his head, his arms,
Something was in his pocket.
"I'll give you ten seconds," Gullible said. "ten..."
What was in his pocket?
"nine... eight... seven..."
It felt like a ring...
"six... five... four... three..."
Why was there a ring in his pocket?
Bilbo slipped his hand into his pocket...
...and the ring slipped onto his finger.
All of a sudden the world changed. The shapes of the washers and
dryers grew dim and distant, but the shape of Gullible grew
astonishingly clear. She was petite but curvy. Her hair fluttered in
the ventilation breeze. Her smile was fetching. He could see beneath
her clothes, and oh, my...
Gullible saw Bilbo furrow his brow and put his hand in his pocket.
When he looked up at her again, he did not look the same. His face was
free of blotches (save for a single beauty mark on the left cheek) and
his stubble had vanished. His brow was broad and clear, and dark
eyebrows hovered over stunning blue eyes. His lips curled deliciously.
And his dress and deportment -- the velvet waistcoat, the gold buckles
on his shoes, the cane, the lace ruffles -- all would have charmed the
heart of a far less willing maiden.
Bilbo came closer. She did not retreat. She could feel his breath
upon her shoulder...
"Darling," he said.
"Call me Spiegel," she breathed. Her lisp had vanished.
"You are my one, my only -- the love of my life -- I have never had
any but you." (Good thing she doesn't know that's true!, part of him
whispered to himself.) "We were meant for each other... our love was
written in the stars. We are soul-mates, bound to each other from all
"Oh, Bilbo," she sighed, falling into his arms. "My prince... my
savior... carry me away from here off to your enchanted castle, and let
us make beautiful love all night long!"
"Ah yes, my Spiegel... but we have waited so long for each other...
why need we wait any longer?"
"There's a bed in the closet."
And there, dear reader, let us leave them until the morning; for the
secrets of true love are dark and mysterious, and ought not to have the
light of day shone upon them until they expire of their own accord with
the morning sun. Let the violins play; let the air blow through the
translucent curtains; let the moon shine its beams down upon the side
of the Musty Mountains. Tonight belongs to Bilbo and Spiegel.
* * *
Who knows, though, whether or not it was morning when Bilbo woke
up and saw Spiegel's beautiful, smiling face next to him? Another
spasm shot through his loins -- he was still wearing the ring. Quickly
he took it off. The violins which had been playing in his head all
night ceased. What in Eru's name...
He looked down again.
Oh my Lor. Oh....
Twenty. She can't be more than twenty!
I forgot to use any protection. Oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh
Spiegel looked up dreamily. Bilbo did not look so attractive now,
but he was still lots better than the frat-goblins. "Bilbo -- my
love -- " she said. "Come back to bed..."
Bilbo shook his head. In fact, he was shaking all over. I've
got to get out of here....
"The way out!" he shouted. "Which is the way out?"
"Back out the door, to the left, and follow the EXIT signs," she
said. "But there's no need to hurry... we can have breakfast, and I'll
"No.. you don't understand. I've got to get back to the dwarves and
"But what about you and me, love?"
"No! There is no 'you and me'! I'm gone... I'm out of this place!
We're finished, we're through!"
Spiegel looked at his face and began to sob. "But you said I was your
angel... your little pop tart... you said you would give me a great big
"I'm not interested in you, don't you see? You're not... you're..."
"You don't think I'm ... beautiful?" she said, choking on her sobs.
"No! You're just a baby! A fat little baby!" Bilbo had no idea
why he was possessed to say that. True, Gullible had some traces of
baby-fat in her cheeks, but overall she was quite slender -- the
picked-over leavings of goblin-diet did not leave one much to grow fat
"I'm not fat!" she protested. "Leave me if you like, but tell me
I'm not fat!" Tears were falling from Gullible's face onto the floor.
Bilbo had by now gotten himself dressed and grabbed his wallet
and Zippo lighter. A twinge of compassion ran through him. A sudden
understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart; a
glimpse of endless unmarked days reading Harlequin romances, tall tubs
of laundry, singing snatches from a half-forgotten life, dreams of the
man who would take her away from her wretched existence. And then it
was gone. He turned with a look of loathing at her blotchy, streaked
face. "Yes you are! You're a fat little tub of lard. Nobody wants
you. Go away and leave me alone!" He dashed off down the hall, spying
an EXIT sign on the left in the distance. He knocked over the
dry-cleaning hamper as he did so. Gullible stood behind him in the
doorway and scooped up the fallen clothing. As he sped away, he could
hear her crying in the distance.
"Lotht it ith, my Preciouth! Lotht, lotht!"
"Thief, thief, thief, Bagginth! We hateth it, we hateth it, we
hateth it for ever!"
Bilbo ran on, heedlessly, following the signs. "Seven right, yes,
six left, yes!" he whispered to himself. Ahead of him he could see the
exit door, slightly ajar, with sunlight peeping through. Several
frat-orcs, still drunk from last night's party, lay tumbled in the
hallway. He stepped heavily on them as he ran to the door, but though
they moved, they did not waken.
The door was heavy and Bilbo could not budge it. He tried
squeezing through the crack. He was stuck. His zipper was wedged
against the jamb. He could see outside into the open air: there were
a few steps running down into a quad, and then beyond that the gate
leading away from High Pass U.
He heard a goblin voice inside. "There's someone at the door!
Let's give him a swirlie!"
Bilbo's heart jumped into his mouth. He gave a terrific squirm,
and his zipper came off. He was through with torn pants, leaping down
into the quad, while confuzzled goblins tried to figure out exactly
what a zipper was.
By then Bilbo was out the gates, and on the grassy sides of the
Musty Mountains. He now had time to run over the events of the past
day or two in his mind, and on the whole he felt quite pleased with
himself. What a marvelous seduction that had been! And now, with
Gullible left behind in her cave, he was quite free of any
consequences. Gullible, he thought to himself. Excellent name,
He drew the Ring from his pocket again, and watched it shining in
the sunlight, beautiful and precious, smooth and curved as a
hobbit-lass's sides. He chuckled to himself. What a stroke of luck!
Now I can lead two lives, he thought. By day -- mild-mannered but
(hopefully) rich Bilbo Baggins, Esq. And by night -- Don Giovanni.
This exciting piece of draft material is presented through the courtesy of
David Salo <dsalo-aaaaaaat-usa-dawt-net>.
Copyright © 2002 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this
e-text and the original printed material by Professor Tolkien is inevitable. Using this
as an electronic resource for scholarly or research purposes may lead to a certain
degree of academic embarassment. All agree that the printed version of the text,
available from respectable publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Ballantine Books,
is to be preferred.
I fear we may never know why a raven is like a writing-desk.