NOTE: Earlier (and later) chapters of this parody can be found through the E-text site maintained by Steuard Jensen. A further clarification is in order: Around chapter 8 a change from the name of "Mobster" to "Morrie" was decided - eventually the site above will reflect that change even in my own chapter - but in my own website, the original text you see below shall remain as is.
The four hobbits stepped over the threshold and stood still, gaping. In a chair sat a woman; she wore nothing more than a bathrobe, her long yellow hair tangled in an unruly mess. It was obvious from her tired look that this lady had listened to more silly songs than was bearable. It was also obvious that Tom had good taste where women were concerned. The opposite wasn't certain at all.
When she saw them she shrieked. "Ahh! You didn't tell me you were bringing friends!" then promptly turned on her alluring smile. "Come in! Laugh and be merry!" she said.
Mobster gave her a humorless look. "Madam, I'm a Brandybuck. We don't do 'merry'. "
He disliked outsiders considering him or his extended family as 'humorous' 'cute' or 'quaint'. It tended to be bad for business.
Frodo spoke. "Fair lady Goldberry! Now I know what Bombadil was talking about when he said that you'll make the boards and make the beds." then he stopped as he realised that may have not sounded as well as he intended.
Her smile faded. "Oh, he said that, didn't he? I knew I should have never left my mother. I admit her place was rather watery, but this man..."
"Fair lady!" said Frodo quickly, knowing that in a domestic dispute the guests were also bound to suffer. "Tell me, if it hasn't been discussed over and over again, who is Tom Bombadil? Is he a Maia that went native? Is he perhaps an authorial self-insertion? Is he Eru, God Almighty?"
"Mainly, he's a very bad singer."
Before long, they were all seated at the table, two hobbits on each side, while at either end sat Goldberry and Tom (whose insistence at being called Master threatened to bring about a new domestic quarrel). The hobbits ate as only famished hobbits can, and before the dinner's end, Pipsqueak had to wrestle with Sam over the remnants of a cake. The guests became suddenly aware that they were all shouting at the top of their lungs.
At last the table was cleared. Goldberry came and wished them a good night.
"Have peace now,' she said 'until the morning! And heed no nightly noises - especially if they are coming from our bedroom."
Tom sat on a while beside them in silence and at last Frodo spoke:
"Did you hear me calling, To - eh.. Master, or was it just chance that brought you at that moment?"
"Nay, I didn't hear. I was too busy singing. And I was too busy admiring this really beautiful doll of myself, since I'm really as self-centered and self-absorbed as can be."
With a glance at his friends, Frodo asked "Tell us about the willow-man. What is he? And how can it be I never heard of him before?"
"No, don't!" said Mobster and Pipsqueak together then looked embarrassed. "I mean it will give poor Frodo, nightmares for sure." went on Mobster.
Tom laughed, and after a couple of accusatory looks among the
hobbits, they all went to bed.
Frodo dreamt that night of a pinnacle of stone on top of which the figure of a man stood. Suddenly a shadow like the shape of wings passed across the moon at which the man shouted "YOU ARE NOT A BALROG!"
Pipsqueak lay dreaming pleasantly, but suddenly he woke - he still heard in the darkness the sound that had disturbed his dream 'tip-tap, squeak'. Thinking someone was calling his name, he stood up groggily. - the noise seemed to come from Bombadil and Goldberry's room. Tip-toeing he approached the half-open door and tried to take a peep inside: Goldberry was hitting Tom over the head with his own miniature while Tom said things like "But, dearest--". Pipsqueak gave a grunt of disgust and went back to bed.
Goldberry looked up at the grunt. "Was he peepin'?"
Tom glad at the small reprieve, rubbed his bruised head. "No, I think he was Pipsqueak."
It was the sound of Shirrifs coming that Mobster thought he heard while asleep. But then he seemed to hear or remember hearing: "Nothing passes doors or windows without a proper warrant." He breathed deep and fell asleep again.
As far as he could remember, Sam slept through the night in
deep content, if logs that chased and then happily savaged their
imperialistic masters are contented.
Next day Tom told them many remarkable stories, sometimes as if speaking the himself, sometimes looking at them suddenly with a bright blue eye, (the other eye had been mysteriously blackened during the previous night). Often his voice would turn to song, and the hobbits would simply shut their ears and pray it would pass.
After a couple of truly dull horror stories about the Old Forest, suddenly Tom's talk left the wood and using a convoluted course seemed to rest on the Downs. Tom told them of the Barrow-wights who walked in the hollow places always happily ready to provide a side adventure for tired travelers.
The hobbits shuddered. Even in the Shire the rumour of the Barrow-wights and their liking for plotwise-insignificant side-adventures had been heard. The did not make a tale that any hobbit liked to listen to, since they mainly preferred focused narratives. They (inevitably) lost the thread of his tale.
When they caught his words again they found that he had now wandered into strange places beyond their memory, waking thought or even their hallucinations, into times when the world was carried on the back of a turtle and the seas flowed straight down in an endless waterfall; and still Tom went singing out into such times as only ancient myths described, when people left the doors unlocked at night, and even further back, when those damn kids knew some proper respect for their parents. Then suddenly he stopped, and they saw that he nodded as if he had bored even himself to sleep.
"Who are you, Master?" Frodo asked, sudden fear in his voice.
"Gnnngshm..?" Tom seemed to mumble and he finally
fell asleep with a good thump.
After supper Goldberry once again hurried away from the table, because Tom now seemed wide awake again and plied them with questions.
He appeared already to know more about them and all their families, which caused extreme embarrassment to all of them, and not a little worry from Mobster. Tom made no secret that he owed his secret knowledge to Farmer Maggot whom he seemed to regard as a person of more importance than they had imagined: "He has a big bank account, and quite a few connections; and from the Entwives' aging wood, he made worthy logs." It was also clear that Tom had dealings with the Elves of Gildor which caused exclamations of sudden understanding from all of the hobbits: "Before I saw him, I thought that the *Elves* were High." said Sam and Frodo agreed.
Indeed so much did Tom know, that Frodo found himself describing in greater detail his escapades with Cassiopeia Took than was generally considered polite. While Pipsqueak was hurriedly trying to take notes on his napkin, Tom's eyes glinted.
"Show me the precious Ring!" he said suddenly in the midst of the story; and to Frodo's astonishment Tom simply reached his hand and painfully yanked the chain from Frodo's neck.
He juggled it from one hand to the other, while Frodo tried ineffectually to stop him. In the end Tom spun the Ring in the air and it vanished with a flash. Then Tom leaned forward and reached his hand behind Frodo's ear. "Here it is -- hey, where did it go?"
In the end the hobbits had to go and search the house for it.
They only found it five hours later, inside the hollow miniature
of Tom's self. 'Those magic rings - you can't trust the little
rascals.' Tom said with a laugh, and not without a hint of
disappointment for the success of the search.
Tom gave them a lot of suggestions about how they should travel the next day: 'Keep on the right of the road - and mind the traffic. Don't you speak with Barrow-wights or take rides with strangers.' Then he taught them a rhyme to sing, if they should by ill-luck meet a side-adventure.
"Ho! Tom Bombadil, Tom Bombadildo!
By water, wood and hill, by an armadillo
by fire, sun and moon, by the heat and frost
Come, Tom Bombadil, or we'll now be toast."
When they had sung this, he clapped them each on the shoulder
and taking candles led them back to their beds.
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Last updated: 01 Jun 2001