They walked only a few moments before they were in front of the the gate to #3 Bagshot Row. Frodo realized that the holes along this row must have been tenants of Bilbos’, and he wondered who they were soon to visit. He hoped he’d find greater welcome here than he’d had with the miller and his son.
Bilbo let himself in the front gate and Frodo could hear the sounds of several voices from within the hobbit hole. “Hamfast, I’ve broght you another Baggins that needs looking after” his Uncle shouted cheerily.
An elderly hobbit with white curls, plump red cheeks and twinkling blue eyes came to the door. “Well bless me Mr. Baggins, ye done brought yer new young’in to meet the Gamgees. Well my boy….” the energetic hobbit said as he grabbed Frodo’s hand in welcome “you can count on us Gamgees to be there when there’s a need”
“Pleasure to meet you Mr. Gamgee” Frodo said shyly.
“Call me Gaffer boy, most folks in these parts do…” Frodo looked to Bilbo and nodded. “Now young Mr. Baggins ye’ll be wanting to meet my boy Sam….were’s he got to? That ninnyhammer” he muttered under his breath. “SAM” the Gaffer yelled explosively “Where’ve ye got to you slowcoach….there’s company come a visiting.”
Frodo suddenly realized that they were at the home of Bilbo’s gardener and handyman. Sam, who’d been in the shed sharpening his garden tools was loathe to be interrupted and shouted in return.”Half a minute…can’t a gardener finish setting his tools away?”
The Gaffer apologized “Don’t know what’s gotten into the lad Mr. Bilbo, he’s been about as cheery as a thundercloud these past few days.”
Frodo looked up the path to the side of the Gamgees hole to see a stocky, sandy haired boy trudge towards them. “He does look in rather a foul mood’ Frodo thought as he steeled himself for another unpleaseant meeting.
Sam had been greatly troubled by the news, which had reached him a few days ago, that Mr. Bilbo was adopting an heir. He knew that Mr. Bilbo would now be directing his tales and stories of elves,dragons and far away places to the ears of another. He’d been spending his mornings with Mr. Bilbo since he was a wee lad setting upon his knee. He felt his heart would break just at the thought of it, no more mornings at Bag End, no more lessons in reading and writing. ‘Just as well’ he thought as he trudged reluctantly down the path ‘Da says me head should be full o’ potatoes and turnips instead of books and learning anyway…no help for it , those days is gone, can’t wish ’em back.’ Sam sighed as he neared the “company” ‘Best to meet the next master and newest student of Bag End’ he thought to himself. He wiped his hands on his pocket rag and lifted his eyes to stare into the bluest eyes he’d ever seen.
“Well don’t stand there gawking like a ninnyhammer Samwise” his father’s voice interrupted Sam’s thoughts “make yer hellos and then ya’ll need to haul some water for the squash.”
Sam abruptly put out his hand “Name’s Samwise Gamgee, folks mostly call me Sam” he said a little stiffly. Frodo gently took Sam’s calloused brown hand in his and staring him in the eye said quietly “It’s a pleasure to meet you Sam, I’ve heard a lot about you from my Uncle, who says you are one of the hardest working students he’s ever had….I hope he says that about me someday” he finished somewhat wisfully.
Sam was taken aback by the sincerity of Frodo’s welcome, his words had filled him with warmth and pride. ‘Me, a hard working student’ he thought to himself and smiled broadly. ‘He’s a warm and good hearted hobbit’ thought Frodo as he had a sudden vision of Sam in later times…’he will always bring good to this world’
“Hamfast” Bilbo suddenly said “I’ve some ideas for a new herb bed….can you hear me out now? Perhaps over one of you wife’s famous muffins?” Bilbo winked at Frodo as he grabbed the arm of the Gaffer and led him into the hobbit hole. ‘ A little time with an upright lad like Sam will help him feel welcome’ Bilbo thought with a smile.
Frodo was greatly relieved to see the smile on Sam’s face and he smiled shyly back in return. Sam stared at the serious, slender and well dressed hobbit in front of him. ‘There’s something different about him there is’ Sam thought to himself ‘there’s a sadness and mystery around him…kinda the way Mr. Bilbo describes the elves’
A voice interrupted Sam’s thoughts “I’ve already met the miller and his son” Frodo started to say “are there many other lads here near to our age?” he asked
“Well sir, that depends on what yer meaning about ‘our age’ ” Sam replied “I ‘m reckoning that you are a sight older than me sir.”
“Please don’t call me ‘sir’ Sam….that makes me seem older than I feel already” Frodo laughed quietly.
“Well then Mr. Frodo, I’m all of 12 years and you’re in your tweens or close to I’m guessing” Sam continued.
“Guess away Sam, you’re doing a marvelous job…but you’ve yet to answer my question” Frodo replied, feeling suddenly comfortable with this down to earth hobbit.
“Well, let’s see” Sam turned to pick up a bucket ” there’s Ted…ye met him already ye said” Frodo grimaced at the memory “…then there’s the cotton bothers and few Bolger boys that would be somewhere ‘tween our ages I expect” Sam said as he walked towards the well.
Frodo picked up a bucket and followed after him. “What do you do together….for fun I mean” He asked awkardly.
Sam was busy lowering his bucket into the well. “The usual kind ‘o games, we fish, we tease the lasses…I dunno, whatever we thinks of when we’re together”. Sam said as he pulled his full bucket from the well. He turned and noticed that Frodo was getting ready to fill a bucket from the well also. “Bless me Mr Frodo, it’s not proper for you to be doing that…ye’ll soil yer good clothes…”
Frodo was already leaning into the depths of the well, trying to pull up the heavy full bucket when his feet found a patch of mud. With most of his effort and weight already concentrated on pulling out the heavy bucket he lost his balance and tumbled in with a loud splash.
“Mr. Frodo, are you alright then sir?” Sam asked with great concern in his voice. For a moment there was no answer and Sam peered into the well, which luckily was not deep, to see Frodo’s blue eyes staring back at him. He was beginning to be worried that the newest resident of Bag End was hurt and was about to call for help when he saw the corners of Frodo’s mouth twitch and his eyes crinkle as loud laughter erupted from the very wet and muddy hobbit in front of him. Soon Sam was laughing just as loudly and nearly fell in himself as he helped Frodo out of the well. They both collapsed laughing on the lawn.
“Good gracious, whatever is the matter” Mam Gamgees voice was suddenly heard as Sam and Frodo looked up to see the Gaffer, Mam and Bilbo peering down upon them. They stopped laughing long enough to answer.
” I was teaching Mr. Frodo here how to use the well” Sam said earnestly. Frodo joined in ” I guess I need another lesson”. The two boys looked at one another and started laughing all over again.
“Somehow, I get the feeling that these two will be learning a bit from one another in the future.” Bilbo said with a smile. “But Sam…if you are looking for learning of a drier nature, don’t forget our lesson tomorrow morning….right around second breakfast ought to do nicely…don’t you agree Frodo? “Bilbo asked with a twinkle in his eye. The boys stopped laughing; Sam because of his joy at being included in lessons again and Frodo becasue he’d suddenly remembered his Uncle’s book.
“Oh no” Frodo exclaimed as he leaped to his feet and angled himself to peer into the well ” Your book Uncle, I’m afraid I lost it in my tumble into the well” Frodo stated, his face clearly showing his fear and shame in losing one of his Uncle’s treasures.
Bilbo reached rapidly for Frodo’s arm and grasping him by the elbow to prevent him from leaning over the edge of the well said ” Oh no you don’t my lad, you’ve frightened an old hobbit enough for one day…no more tumbling towards or into water.”
“But your book Uncle, you trusted me” Frodo said quietly with tears in his eyes.
“Yes I did lad….but I also have rather large pockets”. Bilbo said. Frodo looked down in wonder as his Uncle pulled the book from his own pocket. ” Remember, I fanned you with it after your meeting at the millers” Bilbo replied.
The relief on Frodo’s face was clear to see. He forgot his own wet state and threw himself into Bilbo’s arms. ” Bless you Uncle” Frodo said ” I don’t know what I’d have done if I’d damaged one of your beloved books!”
Bilbo quickly untangled himself from the muddy and wet hobbit before him. “Well by boy, lets not find out the consequence of that act shall we?” Bilbo asked with a smile in his eye as he brushed the muddy remnants of Frodo’s hug off of his second best jacket.
Just then a resounding sneeze filled the air followed by several more. “Bless me Mr. Frodo, you’ll be catching your death if you don’t soon get outta yer wet things.” Sam said.
“Yes indeed, quite right you are Sam, let’s go Frodo my boy….back home to Bag End it is for you.” Bilbo said sternly.
Frodo smiled at the word “home” and turning to his new friend said ” See you in the morning Sam…perhaps I’ll teach you something tomorrow” and the smile in his eyes shone bright.