Frodo had packed and unpacked seven times. What do you take on a journey to the end? His things lay on his bed, the accumulation of a lifetime compiled in 4 neat piles. He owned many other things, of course, like Bag End, yet even the place that had sheltered him so well during his life was not truly his anymore. His name, Frodo Baggins, had been scrawled across the deed, but that was just a piece of paper. No, its soul had accepted others and they were thriving within it warm and cozy walls. Bag End would be Sam’s now, Frodo had seen to that. He was leaving everything to his friend, everything he had or would have had, was now placed in Sam’s loving care. Only he did not know it yet.
Looking at the contents of the bed, Frodo realized that in this life he had made a remarkably insignificant mark, save one. That one accomplishment, one for which his contribution was nearly forgotten in the Shire, was the reason for his departure from Middle Earth. His fading from the public eye in Hobbiton, something that was a great source of consternation to Sam, had been welcomed in his own eyes. The constant questions, the retelling of his story, the fawning of those who wanted of piece of his glory, grew rapidly stale to Frodo, and quite soon after his return to the Shire he had retreated behind the walls of his hobbit hole and let them all sink into a world of speculation and rumor. Allowing Merry and Pippin to step center stage, for they were infinitely better suited to the public life than he, freed Frodo from the constant reminder of his past deeds. Besides, he didn’t need parades and parties thrown in his honor to recall what he had done, it was right there in front of his face: his missing finger. All he need do is glance at his hand. Listening to others extol him as a hero would make him physically ill. He knew the truth of what he had done, and what he had not done.
So, here is where he had retreated, to Bag End, safe and protected by its walls and by the iron will of Sam. And here he had hoped to stay until obscurity took him. But, the call had come and it was one that he could not ignore.
Frodo packed his things again, a few shirts, a couple pairs of pants, his favorite blue weskit, but then quickly took it all back out of the satchel. He was going across the sea, what need did he have of hobbit things? They were elves, they would have everything that he would need, they awlays did. However, as he fingered a small handkerchief embroidered by Rose, he knew that elves would have neither the Shire, nor anything else that he loved and was now leaving behind. In a flash moment of sentimentalism, he began to pack his things again.
“No, Mama, no!” Elanor burst into Frodo’s room at a dead run. “No bath!” She slid between Frodo’s legs and under his bed before he even knew what was happening.
“Elanor Gamgee, how many times have you been told,” Rose called as she chased her wayward daughter into the room, “you’re not to go into Mr. Frodo’s…” She stopped short when she saw the room occupied. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Frodo. Elanor just slipped away from me.”
Instead of answering, Frodo pointed to where the little hobbit was hiding. Rose nodded and quietly tiptoed around to the back of the bed. Putting a finger to her lips, she signaled for Frodo’s silence. She knelt down and peeked under the bed. Snaking her hand close to the back of Elanor’s knee, (her most ticklish spot), Rose yelled without warning, “Gotcha!” and tickled her daughter without mercy. Elanor’s squeals of laughter filled Frodo’s bedroom and he could not help but laugh, too.
“Mama, stop!” Elanor shouted between peels of giggles. Rose pulled Elanor out from her hiding place and right into her arms. Nuzzling at her daughter’s neck, Rose walked out of the room, bringing the squeals to an even higher pitch. “No bath, Mama, later!”
Setting her down, Rose planted one kiss on Elanor’s fair head and sent her daughter down the hall with a pat on her bum. “As you say, daughter, later. But not too late,” she called after the hobbit child who was beating a hasty retreat after her reprieve.
Rose stayed in the hallway just watching her little miracle toddle away. Without looking back into the room, she addressed Frodo. “So, you’re leaving us then, Mr. Frodo. For good.”
He stood there nonplussed. Not knowing what else to say, he told the truth. “Yes, Rose I’m leaving. For good.”
She bustled back into the room and immediately began to rummage through his bureau. “Well, we can’t have you leave and take your old, wornout clothes. We don’t want them elves thinking we hobbits are uncivilized. That is, if Masters Brandybuck and Tooik haven’t turned their minds against us already.”
Frodo sat down on the bed watching what he could not accomplish in two hours Rose finish in 10 minutes. “There you are, Mr. Frodo,” Rose said as she tightly closed the satchel.
“I would try to say thnk you, Rose, yet that somehow seems inadequate right now.”
She busied herself with the curtains, opening the window to let in the early evening breeze. “No thanks need be given, Mr. Frodo. That’s what family does.”
Family. That word struck a chord within Frodo’s heart. His family had been torn from him, and, while that pain had never left him, the new life he had found with Bilbo had sprouted new roots that had grown deep here at Bag End. Now, with the coming of the Gamgees, a new family had been planted under the hill, one that would reach its branches out across the Shire. One that he could be no part of anymore. “Here, Rose, I want you to have this.”
Without looking him directly in the eye for fear of revealing her true emotions, Rose took the offered paper and read it matter-of-factly. “This is a mighty generous gift, Mr. Frodo.”
“And one that does not come close to measuring up to what he has given me.”
She put the paper in her apron pocket. “You’ll be wanting that elven cloak of yours. It’s hanging on the pegs in the hall.”
“I know,” Frodo replied, suddenly ill at ease with this false small talk.
Just then Elanor shouted with delight as she saw her father enter the gate. “Papa!”
Rose hurried out into the hall, then halted. She had something else to say. “I only ask one thing of you, Mr. Frodo. Don’t tell Samwise.”
“I can’t leave without saying goodbye to him, Rose,” Frodo protested.
“And I’m not asking you to. Just don’t tell him before you leave. Let him think that the journey is for something else altogether.” Her eyes began to fill with tears. “You can say your goodbyes when you get there.”
“I can’t lie to him, Rose, I won’t. He deserves to know.”
Her pleading eyes bore through Frodo. “If you tell him of your plans now, before you leave the Shire, he will stop at nothing to keep you here. Any trick, any promise he can dream up just to keep you by his side. And, when you leave him anyways, he will return to me full of regret. He will spend the rest of his life blaming himself for you going and him not stopping you. He will live believing that somehow, in that last moment, he had failed you. And it will destroy him.”
His throat closed as the meaning of Rose’s words hung in the air. The idea of his Sam living a life of guilt and despair overwhelmed him. “I love Sam,” he croaked.
The front door opened and Sam, with his daughter on his shoulders, entered calling, “Rose? Mr. Frodo? Come see what I brought home from Bree.”
“I love him, Rose,” Frodo repeated.
“I know you do, Mr. Frodo,” Rose answered, “And so do I. When you leave, please don’t take his heart with you over the sea. Please don’t take it away from me.”
Sam called again. “Mr. Frodo? Rose? Where are you?”
“Right here, Samwise!” Rose called back. She wiped her eyes free of tears, put on a smile she really didn’t feel, then ran into the arms of her husband.
Frodo stood listening to Sam with his family. The tender words of love for his wife and child came so easily to his lips for they came straight from his heart. A heart that had been divided between his friend and his family. It could not be that way forever.
Wracking sobs tore through Frodo and he crumbled to the floor. He would tear his heart in twain, only to free Sam to love, and live, completely. He cried so deeply now, for the loss was already beginning to touch the edges of his soul. It became nearly unbearable, until a thought brought light back to her world.
Just as his summons to the Grey Havens had come like a murmur on the wind, another was revealed to him now. Yes, Frodo of the Shire, you must leave Middle Earth for healing in the West. Yet, do not despair the loss of your most loyal friend. Samwise Gamgee has another path to follow for a time. After a full life, he will be called to the sea.
The voice soothed Frodo’s sobs. His heart would be whole once more. His friend would have many years as master of Bag End, he would have children and laughter. He would be happy. And, in the end, when the time came, Frodo would see him again. Just like him, Sam would be called home.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.