February 18, 2014

Without a Pocket-Handkerchief

Oh, so many exciting things happening on the How to Be a Man Virtual Book Tour! Today, I'm once again visiting South Africa on Karen Swart's wonderful blog. I also have my very first review, up at IndieReader, and it's a humdinger! Anyone who used the word "masterpiece" and me in the same sentence gets my utmost gratitude.  Finally, I talked with the welcoming and wonderful Julia Widdop at Talk Story TV, and I'll let you know when that vlog is up on!


The Trolls, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

This is what publishing a book feels like!  It feels like you get shoved out the door by Gandalf the Grey without a pocket-handkerchief.  But, boy, is it an adventure!

From The Hobbit
Up jumped Bilbo, and putting on his dressing-gown went into the dining-room. There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large and hurried breakfast. There was a fearful mess in the room, and piles of unwashed crocks in the kitchen. Nearly every pot and pan he possessed seemed to have been used. The washing-up was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not been part of his bad dreams, as he had rather hoped. Indeed he was really relieved after all to think that they had all gone without him, and without bothering to wake him up ("but with never a thank-you" he thought); and yet in a way he could not help feeling just a trifle disappointed. The feeling surprised him.
"Don't be a fool, Bilbo Baggins!" he said to himself, "thinking of dragons and all that outlandish nonsense at your age!" So be put on an apron, lit fires, boiled water, and washed up. Then he had a nice little breakfast in the kitchen before turning out the dining-room. By that time the sun was shining; and the front door was open, letting in a warm spring breeze. Bilbo began to whistle loudly and to forget about the night before. In fact he was just sitting down to a nice little second breakfast in the dining-room by the open window, when in walked Gandalf. "My dear fellow," said he, "whenever are you going to come? What about an early start?-and here you are having breakfast, or whatever you call it, at half past ten! They left you the message, because they could not wait."
"What message?" said poor Mr. Baggins all in a fluster.
"Great Elephants!" said Gandalf, "you are not at all yourself this morning-you have never dusted the mantel- piece!"
"What's that got to do with it? I have had enough to do with washing up for fourteen!"
"If you had dusted the mantelpiece you would have found this just under the clock," said Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note (written, of course, on his own note-paper).
This is what he read:
"Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!
For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one fourteenth of total profits (if any); all travelling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter is not otherwise arranged for.
"Thinking it unnecessary to disturb your esteemed repose, we have proceeded in advance to make requisite preparations, and shall await your respected person at the Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at II a.m. sharp. Trusting that you will be punctual.
"We have the honour to remain
"Yours deeply 
"Thorin & Co."
"That leaves you just ten minutes. You will have to run," said Gandalf.
"But-" said Bilbo.
"No time for it," said the wizard.
"But-"said Bilbo again.
"No time for that either! Off you go!"
To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, walking-stick or say money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf's hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a whole mile or more. Very puffed he was, when he got to Bywater just on the stroke of eleven, and found he had come without a pocket-handkerchief!

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