#14 The Gamgee Family Vacation - "Are we there yet?"

Jan 23, 1442, Shire Reckoning - I am keeping this journal at the insistence of you, Elanor, since you are not going with us to Gondor to see the King. I know you want all the little details. Only the 7 little ones are with us, the others stayed at Bag End to keep an eye on things. Merry, Pip and Rose were disappointed, but Frodo is too busy with getting the garden ready for spring planting and Elanor, well, you are just too busy with Fastred.
Our leaving taking from Hobbiton went as planned, and we only had to come back to Bag End twice. First, so mother could say goodbye, again, and the second because Ruby had left her favorite toy.
We passed that first night away from home at Brandy Hall amongst a large bunch of family and friends. Had to break up one fight, 3 arguments and a spitting contest between Goldi and that Took, Faramir. Just like his father, that one.
Pippin's wife, Diamond, is nothing like the family she married into, bright and with a nonsensical way about her. She even managed to corral all the little ones together for bed and give your mother and me a chance at some peace, alone. That hasn't happened in quite a long time.
I am writing this as all your brothers and sisters lay about me on the floor asleep, your mother, too, safe within the walls of the Prancing Pony. Tomorrow we head for the Gap of Rohan. It is indeed a long journey between Bree and Edoras, but it can't be helped. Rivendell and Lothlorien are no more.

Jan 25th - We are forced to stop and camp for several days. Hamfast and Bilbo found some berries and decided to see how they tasted. They may have been sweet, but not sweet enough to make up for how sick they became. Mother says they cannot be moved, so we are stuck here until they are better.

Feb 4th - Ruby and Robin are ill today. We only traveled one day before we had to stop again. At this rate we won't get to Gondor before the end of the 4th age.

Feb 12th - I don't like traveling in the rain!

Feb 28th - Sorry I could not write in this journal for so long, but the rain would not stop and I had no dry place to write. Even up underneath the wagon the rain found it's way through the cracks and soaked everything. I didn't want the water to ruin my pages knowing you would be crushed. The sun is beaming down on us now and it feels wonderful. To my left is Cahadras, that wicked mountain. I like much more traveling south above with the sun and the wind, then underneath Middle Earth with the cave trolls and the orcs.

Mar 3rd - It is the horse who is under the weather today. Stepped on a stone or something and now is lame. Ham has taken it upon himself to be nursemaid. Spent too much time with Merry, I guess, listening hard to those tales of horses and glory. The weather continues clear, if a little chilly. I apologize for the messy handwriting in this entry. Mother has taken the girls to gather flowers (!), and the wee one is in my care. She is fascinated by the pen crawling across the paper and I can't get her to stop grabbing at it.

Mar 4th - Ham's care as done the trick! Our mare is fine today and we can be on the road again.

Mar 13th - Night didn't come soon enough today. Spent most of the time telling everyone to stop shouting, to sit down, don't touch your sister and threatening to turn the wagon around if it all didn't stop. My last trip south was much quieter.

Mar 25th - Dismal day for me, it being the anniversary of that nasty place. Don't show my feelings to your mother; she believes I have put that all behind me, and I won't cause her anymore more trouble by telling her the truth.

Mar 26th - The Gap of Rohan! We were met by the largest and finest horsemen I've ever seen. We were escorted all the way to Edoras, made me feel like a king! Now I see what Merry has blathered on about all this time. This place of the horsemen is as far from my comfortable hobbit hole as can be. I confess I was a little troubled at first being among Big People again after all these years. Forgotten how painful it is to look up all the time. But, these folks of Rohan have welcomed all of us Gamgees as honored guests, especially their king.
(Note to self: don't forget to give the package to King Eomer from Merry.)
The Golden Hall sits high on the tallest place in Rohan and shines in the sun for leagues. For all its splendor, inside is dark and invitingly closed in, felt much better there than looking out across the vast plains that Edoras sits above.
It did not take long for your brothers to get themselves into trouble. While Mother and I supped with King Eomer, Hamfast and Bilbo, who were supposed to be fast asleep, slipped out and found their way to the stables. Ham said he wanted to see big, real horses up close. Well, he did and has the knot on his head to show for it. The people of Rohan may have accepted hobbits about, but their horses didn't know what to do with 2 wriggling under their stall door. King Eomer was angry at what he thought was the groom's fault, but I told him no one was to blame but my 2 naughty boys. As to their punishment for trespassing, young Bilbo's fright at being pinned in a corner by an angry horse, and the embarrassment of Ham's knocked head should be enough to teach them a lesson.
We will stay here and enjoy King Eomer's hospitality for a least a week.

Mar 28th - Mother is ill this morning. Won't eat and is tired in spite of having a full night's rest. I fear the worst.

Apr 1st - My fears have come true. This will make number 13.

Apr 3rd - Left one day later than planned for we had lost your sister, Daisy. Always the friendly one, she had run off to play with some of the local children, got separated and became lost. We spent a fretful day and a sleepless night, while the King himself, along with his guard, searched around Edoras in the dark for one small young hobbit. She was found at daybreak, asleep in a hole beneath some rocks. You would think that she would have been frightened by her ordeal, but she was only hungry. Upon seeing Daisy, Mother was split between crying for joy over her returned child or scolding her for all the trouble spent on her account.
The men of Rohan escorted us to the Gap, horse flags flying proudly in the breeze.

April 4th - Your mother is sick again this morning and I have been in full charge of all the Gamgees. If I hear the question, "Are we there yet?" one more time, I promise you that you will have fewer brothers and sisters return to Hobbiton.
Robin sits in my lap "helping" me with the horse; Ruby is at my side telling me everything she sees. Bilbo and Ham have invented a game of throwing stones from the wagon to see whose goes the farthest. Your other sisters are keeping your mother company in the back of the wagon and weaving necklaces of flowers. I now wear 4 of them. When I told Daisy that I could wear no more, she wound a fifth one around my head. Sure I look the idiot with flowers in my hair and baby spit on my pants. Hope your mother feels better. Soon.

Apr 5th - Side trip to Isengard! It's nothing like described by Pippin. Gone are the broken stones and bare ground. Flowers, shrubs and growing things surround that black tower now. Had hoped to get a glimpse of that creature Treebeard, but it seems he went back to the forest long ago. Wanted to ask him about that Ent draught.

Apr 9th - My turn in the back of the wagon. If my usual scratchy handwriting seems worse today its because I only have one eye to watch my hand on the paper.
The night before, when we were sitting quietly by the fire and the stars were putting on their nightly show above, Goldilocks got it in her head that we were being followed. Not wanting to bother the "old folks", she alerted Hamfast and the two of them went to ambush the enemy. Hearing noises in the forest behind me, and not knowing that 2 of my children were in there stalking, I grabbed my walking stick and went to investigate. I had not put 3 steps inside the trees when I was pelted with rocks and kicked in the shins. Racing after my attackers in the dark, I did not see the great, dirty root sticking out of the ground until too late. I went face down and was immediately jumped on by two small bodies, shouting "For the Shire!" In our tussle, whether it was your brother or sister I know not, I was stuck in the eye with a stick, poked in the ribs hard enough to leave a nasty bruise and my favorite shirt was ripped in 3 places. I guess Goldi recognized her papa's voice as I hollered out in pain, for she stopped her assault and plopped down on my aching chest and proceeded to hug me right over my bruised parts. Refusing to be held up by my children, I limped back to the wagon to the sound of the rest of the family applauding. Whether it was for me because I had vanquished my own little ones, or for Ham and Goldi for bringing down their father, your mother never told me. She only kissed me softly while she dressed my "battle" wounds and called me her hero.

Apr 14th- Unless my eye deceives me, I think I see Minas Tirith gleaming in the late afternoon sun. This must be my last entry, my dear Elanor, until we reach the White City, for I have used most of the paper and all of the i...

May 1st - This is now your mother writing. I'm sure you can see the different handwriting. Your father is so busy now, with King Elessar that I hardly see him at all. I spend my time corralling your brothers and sisters and growing fat. Must admit at feeling nervous in this place, Elanor, it's so Big! And White! And Hard! You must search out the gardens to find grass to walk on and trees to sit under. Your father described Minas Tirith to me so many times that I just knew I was going to walk these streets like I was born here. What a fool I was! Our first day here, your father being gone, I took it in my head to go to the market to buy some fabric to replace that shirt of your father's that was ruined on the trip down. Within 5 minutes out of our rooms, lost I was, with my entire brood trailing behind me. The stares from the Big Folk, never get used to that. If it hadn't have been for that kind man in the uniform who showed us the way back, I would have found a small hole fit for hobbits, gathered my little ones around me and waited for your father to come and find us.
Foolish I was! Our rescuer was Bergil. As often as I have heard Pippin talk about him, and that is quite a lot, I should have recognized him right off. Guided us back, he did, without any fuss or bother that we hobbits usually get from Big People. And now I know why! He even sent the fabric that I was after for your father's shirt, and sewing it I was until I stopped to write here.

May 25th - The long spell between entries can be blamed on your father. He was in such a hurry one day to go riding to see the new construction at Osgililath (did I spell that right?) he grabbed for his cloak and knocked this journal over the far side of the bed, where it stayed hidden for 3 weeks. It was found today when Robin had a spell of the "you can't find mes" and I saw it there all alone. I was frantic to find it, but bending low is one thing I can do little of nowadays.

June 3rd - This is Daisy. Mama and Papa are at supper with the king and his pretty elf wife. We have to stay in the room, 'cause Mama says that the bankwet is no place for little ones. Ham said that mama and papa were little ones to the Big folk like the King, and papa frowned, but mama smiled. Don't like being stuck here with nothing to do, so I got this book and thought I would say hello to my sister. Hello from Minsterith.

June 12th - Feeling low today, my dear Elanor. Missing you, Bag End and the Shire. Gondor is grand, but it is not home.

Jun 23rd - Writing you from the wagon again, on the way to Ithilien. Once I got this journal back from your mother and sister. I look back and it has been over a month since I last wrote in here. There has been so much to see and do. Aragorn has done wonders with this place, (sorry, King Elessar. Just got used to calling him Aragorn and not Strider, and now he's got a third name!), only the fields around the White City bear the scars of the War. He told me the black stain was where the Witch King fell, (thanks to Merry), and will never be green again. Sad that I have no more of those mallorn seeds the Lady Galadriel gave me. I bet that would make it green again.
The whole family, with the King and all his folks, are visiting Ilithien to pay their respects to Faramir and his wife, Eowyn, (you remember her? From Merry's tales?) We should stay only a few days, then its back to Minas Tirith. Must start thinking about our return home soon, for Mother is not well. She tells me she's fine when I ask her, but after all these years, I can tell. Maybe she's just missing her little ones.

June 28th - This place is beautiful! Almost like home it is, with the trees and flowers and good grass under your feet. We met the Lady Eowyn, and she is more lovely than described to me. I do find it hard to believe that such a dainty lady could heft a sword large enough to kill the Witch King, if he was as large and terrible as Merry said he was. Spend most of my time sitting under the trees, watching my children run free in the grass. Sometimes Lady Eowyn and the Queen sit with me. They are an odd pair, It's like Bilbo said, one is fire, the other air.
Last night your father told his tale of the oliphaunt, again, only this time he could show us exactly where it had walked. We even had Faramir there to play his part. Goldi said too bad Frodo (your brother) was not with us to fill that role, and I saw in your father's eyes that empty look again, the one I lived in fear of those long years after the parting. The King came to the rescue just then. He grabbed Goldi under one arm and his son under the other and off they went rolling down the hill. The other Gamgees went rolling off after them. Your father was silent the rest of the night and I let him be.
Feeling much better now. Your father hopes it was just a passing thing, but I know its the trees and all the nature around me that's lifted my spirits.

Aug 1st - Not much time today, Elanor, off to Pelargir to see the harbors. Mother is still feeling fine. Told you it was just passing.

Aug 4th - Dear Ela,
Papa is away with the King and mama is gone, so it's my turn to write to you. (Ham is helping me spell the words right. He told me to tell you that)
Mama got sick last night and they came and took her to the House of Peeling.
What taters has to do with sick people, I don't know. I wish she would come back. Papa, too.
Love, Primrose

Aug 5th - I don't know what to do, Elanor. Your mother took ill while I was away. I got back to find her gone, taken away in the night. There's a crazy old woman down there who won't let me see Mother until she wakes up and no one knows when that will be. It's the baby, they did tell me that. Been through this 12 times before, and is doesn't get any easier. The King promises me that she is in the best of care, but my mind would be able to rest if I could just sit by her side, so she's knows I'm there. I don't want her to be alone.

Aug 6th - Mother remains asleep. Bullied my way past them all there in that House of Healing, sat down by her bed, said I wasn't going to leave her and I haven't. I write to you from her beside. Elanor, she looks so pale, so small in that big bed. She doesn't move, doesn't speak. I've been here before, watching over the sick, too many times I've been the one waiting for the dawn. I can't do this again. Too hard, too many memories. Don't know what I would do if my Rosie...

Aug 7th - The waiting is over! It's a boy! A little small, even by hobbit reckoning, but he's crying up a storm, so he will fit right in with us Gamgees. His name is Tolman, after your uncle. Mother says that your uncle was nothing but trouble when he was young and your new brother has started his trouble making early. Mother is weak and very tired, but will get better with rest. She's wanting to come home now, for the Shire is where she wants to be, but the crazy woman says, NO! We will be here for one more week, at least. A boy, Tolman, I think I'll call him Tom.

Aug 15th - Crazy woman let your mother out of that place today and right now she's shuffling around our rooms complaining about the mess and feeling much better now that she has something to do. Crazy woman, her name is Ioreth by the way, insisted that Mother sleep alone for at least a month. Don't think I can catch what made your mother ill, but I'll be bedding down with the boys for now.
Your mother's smiling at me. How that makes my heart sing!

Aug 20th - We will be leaving for home within the week. Mother is more than ready to see you and your brothers and, as she puts it, to feel real grass between her toes. Sleeping with Bilbo and Ham is not that bad. Got an arm in my face last night, but I'm not awakened 4 times during the night like your mother.

Sept 1st - Bid farewell to King Elessar, the White City and Gondor. We have an escort to ride with us until the Eastfold, then its straight up the road to home.
I can feel the Shire calling to me. Been away for too long. Frodo is taking care of Bag End, I know, but I need to work in my garden again, to make things grow, (except children). I have journeyed far in my life, seen many wonderful, and
horrible, things, visited almost all of Middle Earth and I can truly say that there is no where else that can compare to the Shire. I don't think I will ever leave again. We are coming home!


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