Tolkien Timeline: Riddles in the Dark

Hello dears!

Sorry for the long absence. It’s been a busy summer for us at Breakfast Second. But we’re back now and we have many fun posts planned for the upcoming weeks!

It’s time again for another Tolkien Timeline post! This time we’re going to focus on Bilbo’s riddle game with Gollum and the finding of the One Ring.

. . .

The riddle game has always been my favorite part of The Hobbit and is one of my favorite scenes from An Unexpected Journey.

I love that it was Bilbo alone, without any help from Thorin and Company, who managed to survive a bout with the creature Gollum, deep down inside the Misty Mountains.

He also happened to stumble upon an object that would change not only his life, but the lives of many:

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…suddenly [Bilbo’s] hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment.


Since this part of the book takes place roughly around late July, I thought some scones with summer berries would be a good choice for a photoshoot.

I’m almost certain that as Bilbo made his way through the damp and dreary caves he would have wished to be back at his hobbit-hole, enjoying some tea and freshly baked berry scones.

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Painted tea cups and fresh wildflowers are quite a contrast to the personality and appearance of the creature Bilbo encountered:

Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I don’t know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollum – as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face.

It is a fortunate thing that Gollum was curious, rather than hungry, when he discovered Bilbo. His curiosity even prompted a game of riddles in order to learn more about the hobbit:

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“Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss. It like riddles, praps it does, does it?” [Gollum] 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.

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“You ask first,” [Bilbo] 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 goes,

And yet never grows?

“Easy!” said Bilbo. “Mountain, I suppose.”

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Bilbo was so pleased to know the answers to Gollum’s riddles that he began to make up his own:

An eye in a blue face

Saw an eye in a green face.

“That eye is like to this eye”

Said the first eye,

“But in low place,

Not in high place.”

“Sss, sss, my preciouss,” [Gollum] said. “Sun on the daisies it means, it does.”


Back and forth they went until Gollum grew tired and demanded Bilbo ask one last question:

“It’s got to ask uss a quesstion, my preciouss, yes, yess, yesss. Jusst one more quesstion to guess, yes, yess,” said Gollum.

But Bilbo simply could not think of any question with that nasty wet cold thing sitting next to him, and pawing and poking him. He scratched himself, he pinched himself; still he could not think of anything.

“Ask us! ask us!” said Gollum.

Bilbo pinched himself and slapped himself; he gripped on his little sword; he even felt in his pocket with his other hand. There he found the ring he had picked up in the passage and forgotten about.

“What have I got in my pocket?” he said aloud. He was talking to himself, but Gollum thought it was a riddle, and he was frightfully upset.

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“Not fair! not fair!” [Gollum] hissed. “It isn’t fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what it’s got in its nassty little pocketses?”

Bilbo seeing what had happened and having nothing better to ask stuck to his question. “What have I got in my pocket?” he said louder.

“S-s-s-s-s,” hissed Gollum. “It must give us three guesseses, my preciouss, three guesseses.”

Thankfully, for Bilbo, Gollum’s three guesses (“handses,” “knife,” and “string, or nothing”) proved wrong. Bilbo, with help from the Ring, was able to pass unseen by Gollum until eventually he found his way out of the Misty Mountains.

From there it was “Out of the frying-pan, into the fire,” and eventually on to Beorn’s house.

But more on that later…

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(Recipe for berry scones from Love and Lemons)

Watch for a Middle Earth Meal post in the next few days and some new categories coming later this week!

Remember: adventure first, breakfast second

-Marissa (and Victoria in spirit!)




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