Mr. Underhill vs. Mr. Overland

Rated G

When Frodo Baggins wanted to disguise himself, he called himself Mr. Underhill. I suspect this was a name he picked up from his Uncle, Bilbo, as Bilbo Baggins was an adventurous Hobbit. Well, adventurous by the reckoning of most Hobbits.

Bilbo Baggins, the real Mr. Underhill, lived in a Hobbit hole. A clean, comfortable hole. It was always open to a neighbor that he knew.

I would be Mr. Overland. I live in a hermit box. A clean, comfortable box. Though it is sometimes cramped and few neighbors stop by.

Bilbo was very ordered and tidy. He did not like adventure, no not one bit. Everything in his Hobbit hole had a home, a place, and that is what made his place a home.

Mr. Overland is rather ordered and tidy too. He can enjoy an adventure, but rarely has one. And everything in his hermit box has a place, a home, and that is what makes his box homey.

While Bilbo kept to himself, being the good neighbor that he was, this may be even more true for Mr. Overland. At times he boxes his insides as well as his surroundings, and that makes him a very good and quiet neighbor indeed. He really does not mean to, but often he does, stuffing his feelings into tight little boxes and filing them away in dark, dry corners.

Mr. Overland’s previous spouse once described him as ‘self contained.’ It was an odd expression to Mr. Overland. He had never considered that about himself. No, he had not. But upon reflection, he realized it was true. He never asks for help, and often refuses it outright, though he will offer help at the dropping of a hat. He does live in a tight, little box, he has to admit.

Bilbo defeated a dragon with a riddle. It not only saved his skin, but saved the day for all around him.

When Mr. Overland faces a dragon, he has no riddles ready. Instead Mr. Overland climbs into a box himself, and pulls the lid down tight. There he sits quietly, wishing for a ring of invisibility.

This seems strange, for Mr. Overland’s dragons are not so fierce as the one that Mr. Underhill faced. Not in the least. Bilbo faced the dreaded Smaug, a deadly fire-breather of great size and strength, the last of the great dragons of his time. Mr. Overland’s dragons tend to be normal sized, and often quite sweet. They do not breathe fire or destroy little towns by lakes. Instead they like to dance and play, and enjoy the cool breeze of a nice summer day.

But Mr. Overland fears what they might do or say. How might they treat him, or how might they react to his hermit box and all of his little trinkets inside. He dreads that they find the special boxes, kept in dark, dry corners, containing his most personal keepsakes, himself.

And what if they find that most special box, containing his most hidden, his precious? The secret he hardly dares to think about himself. Will they laugh and point, or scoff and tease? He could not bear that, no he could not.

They aren’t that different really, Mr. Underhill and Mr. Overland. Skittish and small, and rather tight with themselves they both are. But Bilbo found a way, and broke his mold, and lived happily well past his eleventy-eleventh birthday.

Mr. Overland is still trying. He is just now beginning to realize that the boxes themselves are the real dragons, and that Smaug does not lurk outside, where the sun shines on his clean and comfortable hermit box.

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