When Mr. Bulbo Bunkins of Bug End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a brunch of special magnificence, no one expected that such a wealthy wobbit would only offer a cash bar.
Bulbo was very rich and very peculiar, and regarded by his neighbors as “queer.” Sixty years earlier he had taken a contract job as a consultant which had, against all odds, won him a fortune. Even more annoying to his neighbors was the fact that he seemed to stop aging. At ninety he was much the same as fifty. At ninety-nine he looked fifty-one. At one-hundred-one he looked forty-nine. At one-hundred one he looked fifty again. At one-hundred-ten people began to say he’s had some work done, but they secretly thought he has a portrait in his basement that ages instead of him. This was ridiculous, because he lived in a basement apartment underneath a beauty salon, and any magic portraits would have to be hidden somewhere else.
“It will have to be paid for,” they said. “He must be using some expensive vitamin therapy for the super-rich, because his diet is horrible and he gets no exercise. Mega-doses aren’t natural, and trouble will come of it!”
But so far, trouble had not come. Although he was cheap by nature, Bulbo had always tipped generously and bribed freely just so his neighbor wobbits would leave him alone. He remained on visiting terms with his relatives (except, of course, the Snackbag-Bunkinses) and was adored by the local riff-raff for his well-publicized but surprisingly rare acts of charity. Like most Dorks (the family on his mother’s side) he had no close friends until his younger cousins were old enough to join him for late nights of role-playing games.
Bilbo’s favorite cousin was young Promo Bunkins. Since the mysterious deaths of his parents, Promo had lived with his cousins the Buckiebrands of Buckiebrand Hall in nearby Buckieland. It was easy to remember the mailing address.
At the age of ninety-nine Bulbo adopted Promo and made him his heir. They had the same birthday, September 22, which seemed to Promo to be a suspicious reason to adopt someone. And since Promo was a tweenager at the time, he was not looking forward to having combined birthday parties with Bulbo. A hundred-year-old guy is usually not much fun to party with, even if he looks fifty.
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