By the time Sam was dressed in his old travel worn hobbit clothing he’d calmed down and was berating himself for losing his temper….’yelling at a Wizard, not the smartest thing ye’d ever done Samwise Gamgee’ he thought to himself. He remembered the lessons taught to him by Bilbo, he recalled with a moment of pleasure the many hours he’d spent at Bag End under the guidance of the wise old hobbit. “What was that he used to say about wizards?’ Sam asked himself ‘They are subtle and quick to anger’ “Well” he said out loud “I hope now’s not the time I find out what thatmeans”. Sam decided that he’d best be a little more careful to hold his anger in check where Gandalf was concerned.
Sam looked to Aragorn, who stood waiting for him by the door, “I’m ready” he said and he walked from his bedchamber to the next. I took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the lighting in this room, it was dim and for a moment he could barely make out the fiqure lying on the bed in front of him. He walked forward slowly as Aragorn took his place next to Gandalf and Elrond against the wall by the foot of the bed. Sam inched his way closer until he was at last at the head of the bed. There lay his master and in the haze of the candle light Frodo looked so much like the hobbit who lay under Shelob’s spell that Sam thought he’d been tricked and was still in the ‘worst part of the story’. He blinked a few times, not sure if it was his teary eyes or the candles that plagued his vision but noticing that Frodo had changed.
“Frodo” Sam whispered “it’s me sir, I’m back…it’s your Sam and I’ll not leave ye again”. Sam took Frodo’s hand in his own and gazed in wonder at his dearest friend. Frodo had aged. His once sleek and glossy black curls were now dull, brittle and tinged with grey. His skin seemed stretched taut across his face and his sunken eyes only accented the the angles of his cheekbones. He was the color of woodsmoke with a faint glow that seemed to be the only sign of life yet flickering within his still and emaciated body. Sam sat gingerly on the side of the bed, fearful that his slight movements might somehow further harm this fragile hobbit stretched out beside him. He gently placed his master’s hand against his own cheek, savoring the warmth that yet remained.
Sam did not know what Gandalf wanted him to do, he did not fully understand all this talk about ‘choices’….all he knew was that he was with his dear friend once again, and he did what was most natural for him….he followed his heart. With Frodo’s hand still in his, he began to talk “Mr. Frodo, it’s time to rise and meet the day I daresay” he intoned in his best imitation of the cheerful hobbit voice used to rouse his master in days gone by. Frodo inhaled deeply, yet did not stir. Sam was encouraged and continued “I been resting same as you sir, what a rest it was, felt so good to be a lying on something soft….well I can see why you’re still abed yourself sir.” Sam’s voice was matter of fact in tone and he looked expectantly at Frodo’s face, as if he’d soon see his master’s blue eyes gazing back at him. He continued….”well sir, I’m just gonna be a nuisance to these healers until you awaken, so it would be a help to all Mr.Frodo if you’d just come to so’s they can get on with their other chores.” Frodo continued to lie moionless, although it seemed to Sam that he was resting easier somehow.
Elrond came forward to check his patient and after taking his pulse and feeling his brow stepped back to confer with Gandalf.
“He is still fevered” Elrond said with a sigh “but, his heart does not race so randomly” “How long before we know of his
choice?” Gandalf asked ” I do not know” Elrond replied “but his body is worn. If he does not waken and begin to take nourishment in the next day or two I fear he’ll not have the strength to recover; no matter his choice”.
True to his word, Sam would not leave his master again and spent many hours sitting by his friends side. He spoke of little at first, preferring sit and gaze thoughtfully at Frodo’s face. As the first day wore on however, Sam began to tell tales, gossip of the goings on around them and recount what had befallen other memebers of the fellowship. Gandalf stayed, he watched and wondered what Sam would tell Frodo that might influence the direction the ringbearer would take at the end of his quest. When it became apparent that Sam was unable or unwilling to find the words to ‘finish the story’ Gandalf approached him.
“Samwise….Frodo could not have a dearer friend than you. He would not have had the strength to have come so far with out you.” Gandalf paused and looked down at Frodo and then back at Sam “He needs you again my friend, I sense that he is awaiting your blessing to guide his final choice. I pains me greatly to see you both suffering Sam” Gandalf’s voice sounded odd to Sam’s ears. Sam looked into the wizards eyes to see the start of a tear. Sam nodded slowly…”I know he need’s me sir, I just don’t know what or how to tell him what he needs to hear…..I never was very good at words Gandalf….Frodo was the one that had the right words when he needed ’em.” Sam finished sadly. A sudden thought came upon him…”Bilbo….why Mr. Gandalf, where is Bilbo? Can he help me find the words?”
‘Where was Bilbo indeed’ thought Gandalf. Bilbo had been greatly pained by the tragedies broght about by the ring. Gandalf knew that in some way the old hobbit blamed himself for the misfortune that had been brought upon middle earth by the appearance of the ring. Bilbo had remained to himself, in his quarters, writing furiously in his book. “I shall fetch the old rascal Sam…it would do him good to see both you and Frodo” said Gandalf.
Within a few moments Gandalf was back, with Bilbo in tow.
Bilbo entered the room with hesitation. He moved slowly, both because of the dim light and the natural caution that his advanced years he brought upon him. When his eyes adjusted he saw Sam motion to him and he walked unsteadily to meet his former student and gardener. “Bilbo” Sam said quietly ” “I don’t know how it all came to this….” he stopped and taking Frodo’s hand in his Sam continued ” I don’t know what choice I can help him make that will set well with me. How can I doom Frodo to staying here, knowing he’d be haunted by the memories of his madness?” his voice was now a husky whisper “But, how can I have him leave this world he helped save for us?” Bilbo reached out a shaky hand to squeeze Sam’s shoulders, to offer some physical comfort for the young hobbit. “What do I do Bilbo” Sam’s questioning air of desperation almost broke Bilbo’s heart….but he wisely let Sam continue. “All I want is for Mr. Frodo to be happy, to be whole…to be…well as he was” Sam’s voice broke and the tears fell freely now.
Bilbo got up from Frodo’s bedside and taking Sam’s hand in his, he guided him to look out the window that overlooked one of the many glorious gardens of Rivendell. The only sound in the room was Sam’s sniffling….which he was working hard to get under control. Bilbo waited until Sam had mastered his emotions once again. “Sam” Bilbo said with great sadness ” Frodo lad will never be as he once was. He has been touched by forces greater than either one of us. ” Bilbos voice continued and gained strength and power as he spoke. ” A great heart, such as his feels great pain, yet has the strength to provide the salvation for many”. Bilbo turned slowly away from the window and looking at Sam said with conviction ” I feel that his body is tired, yet his heart gains strength and will be ready to do battle once again”. Sam looked up at his old teacher, a trace of hope becoming visible in his eyes. Bilbo continued “His heart will lead his body Sam, but he needs a cause to follow….a reason to fight…you must help him find this Sam. Talk to him, you will find the words you need in your heart my friend.”
Sam knew that Bilbo was right. They had come too far to have the quest end like this. He knew also that to save his friend, he would have to be able to let him go. He walked slowly back to his master’s bedside, noticing that Gandalf, Elrond and Aragorn were once again standing vigil in the back of the room.Bilbo shuffled over to stand with his friends of old. Bilbo met Gandalf’s eye briefly as he watched Sam take his place by Frodo’s side. Sam looked back at Bilbo, he smiled grimly and taking Frodo’s hand in his own began.
“My heart is breaking sir, to see you…who used to be so full of life just a lying there fading away to nothing. You’re meant for better than this Mr. Frodo. You always put yourself aside sir and put all others first. “Sam’s voice was sad and wistful “and that’s a fact sir” His voice grew stronger “well sir, it’s time you went ahead and put yourself first….you choose the life that’s best for you” Sam’s voice broke a little as a sob caught in his throat “Your Sam’ll always love you and he’ll take care to teach those that come after us about loving their land. Go and find your reward Mr. Frodo” Sam’s words were thick with emotion and as he reached down to push a stray curl off of Frodo’s forehead a single tear fell from Sam’s eye to his master’s hand which he cradled gently in his own.
“Sam, I’m happy to wake up, you needn’t give me a bath to get me out of bed.” a horse voice whispered.
Sam’s head jerked up abrubtly “Mr. Frodo?” he whispered “Oh my…Mr. Frodo” his voice trailed off as he began to cry, real hobbit tears of joy filled his eyes and for once he did not try to stop them.
Elrond began to move from the back of the room, desiring to check his patient, when Gandalf motioned for him to stop. Aragorn nodded in approval at Gandalf’s gesture, a smile in his eyes. Elrond looked questioningly at his friend the wizard. “Give them just a moment, they have waited a long time to be together” Gandalf said quietly as he reached down to place a hand upon Bilbo’s shoulder.
“Oh Sam, my dearest friend, I am back” Frodo said quietly, ” do not cry so…only move closer to me that I may see your face, so that I can see that after all our trials you are unharmed” Frodo’s voice was tired and weak.
“Closer sir?” Sam said as he rubbed his hand across his eyes to wipe away his tears. He looked into Frodo’s now open eyes in surprise “I’m nearly atop you now sir” Sam’s voice trailed off as the horror of his sudden realization took his words away. Frodo’s clear blue eyes were empty of sight.