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“I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves
and I have lost the wizard, and I don’t know where I am;
and I don’t want to know, if only I can get away.”
“What’s he got in his handses?” said Gollum,
Looking at the sword, which he did not quite like.
“A sword, a blade which came out of Gondolin!”
“Ssss,” said Gollum, and became quite polite.
“Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss.
It like riddles, praps it does, does it?”
He was anxious to appear friendly,
at any rate for the moment,
and until he found out more about the sword and the Hobbit,
whether he was quite alone really,
whether he was good to eat,
and whether Gollum was really hungry.
Riddles were all he could think of
and sometimes guessing them,
had been the only game he had ever played
with other funny creatures
sitting in their holes in the long, long ago,
before he lost all his friends and was driven away,
alone and crept down, down,
Into the dark under the mountains.
“Very well,” said Bilbo, who was anxious to agree,
Until he found out more about the creature,
Whether he was quite alone,
Whether he was fierce or hungry,
And whether he was a friend of the goblins.
“You ask first,” he said,
Because he had not had time to think of a riddle.
“So Gollum hissed:
What has roots as nobody sees,
Is taller than trees,
Up, Up it goses,
And yet never grows?
“Easy!” said Bilbo.
“Mountain, I suppose.”
“Does it guess easy?
It must have a competition with us, my preciouss!
If precious asks, and it doesn’t answer,
Then we does what it wants, eh?
We shows it the way out , yes!”
“All right!” said Bilbo,
Not daring to disagree, and nearly bursting his brain
to think of riddles that could save him from being eaten.
Thirty white horses on a red hill,
First they champ,
Then they stamp,
Then they stand still.
That was all he could think of to ask ---
The idea of eating was rather on his mind.
It was rather an old one, too,
And Gollum knew the answer as well as you do.
“Chestnuts, chestnuts,” he hissed.
My preciousss; but we has only six!”
Then he asked his second:
Voiceless it cries,
“Half a moment!” cried Bilbo, who was still thinking
Uncomfortably about eating.
Fortunately he had once heard something rather like this before,
And getting his wits back he thought of the answer.
“Wind, wind of course,” he said,
And he was so pleased that he made one up on the spot.
This’ll puzzle the nasty little underground creature,”
An eye in a blue face
Saw an eye in a green face,
“That eye is to like this eye”
Said the first eye,
“But in low place,
Not in high place.”
“Ss, ss, ss,” said Gollum.
He had been underground a long long time,
And was forgetting this sort of thing.
But just as Bilbo was beginning to hope
The wretch would not answer,
Gollum brought up memories of ages and ages and ages before,
When he lived with his grandmother
In a hole in a bank by a river,
“Sss, sss, my Preciouss,” he said.
“Sun on the daisies it means, it does.”
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