Later that day as Sam was mulching his beloved roses he found his attention drawn to the steady “clop-clop” of pony hooves coming down the lane. He stood up and soon saw an elegant cart bearing none other than the Master of Buckland, Saradoc Brandybuck and the Thain, Paladin Took. Sam wiped the sweat from his brow and the dirt from his hands as he waited for the two gentlehobbits to descend from their seats on the cart. “Good day to ya Sirs….can I take yer pony for ye?” he asked politely.
The Master of Buckland looked down his nose at the sandy haired hobbit “Well, I’ll be Paladin…I do believe this is one of the old gaffer’s children…the youngest by the size of ’em” Paladin got down from the cart and gave Sam a quick smile as Saradoc continued “you must be the lad that has gotten himself into some of the mishaps with our Frodo eh?” Saradoc paused to shake some dust from his coat “well, no help for it then….we’re here to see the lad and take stock of some rumor mongering that has gained our attention. Come along Paladin, oh yes and boy kindly see to the pony…no need to unhitch her…we shan’t stay long.” Saradoc laughed derisively “we wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome.” ‘Too late’ thought Sam as he watched the well dressed gentlehobbits make their way to the door of Bag End.
Bilbo met his company at the door, took their coats and hats and offered them tea in the front parlor. As they made themselves comfortable Paladin looked about him “Well, where is he then Bilbo? I must tell you that my Pip was a mite disappointed that he couldn’t see his favorite cousin.” Paladin looked quickly to Saradoc’s hardening expression and quickly added “as was Merry”. Bilbo looked to the protrait of Frodo that he’d drawn when he first came to Bag End, the one he had hanging over the mantle. “He’s back in his room” he said “you have to understand that the near drowning took a lot out of the lad.”
Paladin nodded knowingly, he knew how it was to care for ill hobbit children for his own son Pippin was often sick. “I’m sure it’s been very hard on you Bilbo” he said sympathatically. Bilbo stared at the Thain, “not on me Paladin, on Frodo lad. He is a hobbit of great spirit and courage. He showed quick thinking and determination to save those lasses as he did.” The Thain looked quickly to the Master of Buckland, who up to now had been silent.
“Ahem” Saradoc cleared his throat as he began to speak “Yes Bilbo, we understand that the lad was quite brave saving the lasses as he did and while this may seem awkward…well it has come to our attention that you’ve engaged the services of a healer to help you care for the lad.”
Bilbo looked to Saradoc “yes I did, and a wonder she is too…why you should see what she’s done with the lad.” the elderly hobbit said proudly. “Yes, as happy as that makes me dear Bilbo, surely you do not have her living here in the evenings as we’ve heard from members of your community.” Saradoc said testily. Bilbo began feel his anger rise,yet wanting what was best for all involved struggled to maintain his composure. “Yes Sara, she lives here, for Frodo needs evening as well as daytime care and I am no healer.” he said with barely controlled anger. The two hobbits glared at one another as Paladin broke in with his question “she does not stay here alone with you does she?” he asked quietly. Bilbo sighed “no of course not, she has the nightime companionship of one of the Gamgee lasses.” The Master and the Thain looked to one another in relief as Saradoc posed his next question “Where does she tend to him and is she left alone with him?”
Bilbo stood up and pointed down the hallway to Frodo’s room ” she tends to him in his room as he is unable to walk, feed or even dress himself…and yes” he said through clenched teeth “she tends him alone so that I may see to the running of BagEnd.” Bilbo pursed his lips and said tersely “come and see for yourselves” and he stomped down the hall towards the back rooms of the smial, stopping at the door to Frodo’s room. The three hobbits stood in the door to the room and watched as Chrys was trying once again to feed her reluctant patient.
As she was finishing up she said “lle ume quel Frodo.”
( you did well) then handing him a napkin said “kwara sina ten ‘amin” ( hold this for me). Frodo stared to her in surprise and struggled to get his fingers to work so he could follow her simple request, he looked to her apologetically when his fingers just could not obey his desires. She saw the tears well up in his eyes and understanding his pain said “Amin hiraetha” ( I am sorry) she whispered and taking the napkin from him she took his hands in hers and gently began to massage them, hoping to help his weakened muscles.
Just then, Bilbo walked in with his guests. “Chrys, I’d like you to meet two friends of mine…Paladin Took the Thain and Saradoc Brandybuck, the Master of Buckland.” Chrys stood and with a short curtsey said ” I am very pleased to be meeting you, now if ye’ll excuse me I know ye’ll be wanting to visit with Mr. Frodo so I’ll be off to Sandyman’s barn to check my herb stocks. Not too long with my patient now Sirs” she said sweetly ” he does tire easily.” With a smile she was gone.
The two gentlehobbits were enchanted by the young healer lass “she’s a charmer Bilbo…I can see how you’ve come to rely on her and we’ll return to our discussion of her time here later. Right now I want to see how my favorite nephew is coming along” Saradoc said sitting on a stool by Frodo’s armchair. He took a good long look at the lad, pale skin, dark circles under his eyes, sleepy demeanor, and decided he did not like what he saw. “Frodo lad, how are you? Are you getting the care you need ?” Frodo just stared at him with a puzzled expression on his face and turning to Billbo and then back to Saradoc asked “Amin sinta lle?”. Saradoc looked to Bilbo “What is this nonsense he speaks?…why does he not answer me?” he asked sternly.
Bilbo sighed heavily “He speaks elvish and he just asked ‘do I know you?’ “. Saradoc glowered at the greying hobbit “Why in the world would he speak such nonsense?” he asked horrified. Bilbo stared sadly at Frodo ” He doesn’t understand you Saradoc, he no longer seems to understand the common tongue….not since he’s awakened from his injuries.” Saradoc laughed, the sound grated on Bilbo’s ears ” Doesn’t understand…my dear Bilbo, he is up to one of his tricks…why at Brandy Hall this scamp was known as one of the prime pranksters….why Paladin do you recall the time he and Merry soaped the bath house steps?” the two visiting hobbits looked to one another and had a moment of shared laughter.
The laughter seemed out of place, the sound vibrated around Bilbo and further inflamed his anger towards these two pompous and ridiculous hobbits. He walked quickly to Frodo’s side and carefully ruffled his disheveled curls., said with tears in his eyes “you don’t understand, he’s had a head wound” he said as he gently lifted Frodo’s unevenly cropped hair to show the ugly red scar tissue. The room became silent.
Frodo looked up to the kindly grey haired hobbit next to him, he knew he was somehow causing him pain. With great effort he lifted his hand and weakly grasping Bilbo’s rubbed it along the smoothness of his cheek and said ” Amin hiraetha Bilbo.” ( I’m sorry ) and a tear slid down his face. Bilbo knealt in front of the lad and taking his wasted hands in his said “Amin dele ten’ lle Frodo, Amin mela lle.” ( I am worried about you Frodo, I love you). Frodo felt stirrings of warmth, he saw in his mind times and places he’d been before with this hobbit….setting beside him listening to tales, tromping through the woods. A door to his memories was beginning to open and he was suddenly filled with images of he and Bilbo laughing, working side by side in the kitchen, sitting in the garden at sunset, caring for one another. Frodo took a deep breath and said firmly “Amin harmuva o nalle e’ cormamin.”
( I shall treasure your gift in my heart).
Bilbo looked to the lad in surprise and joy, for the first time he felt that Frodo recognized him, that he was speaking from the depth of his heart not the training of his tongue.
Paladin, who’d been watching from his place near the door, understood the tone and the intent behind Frodo’s message; even if he did not comprehend the words. “Well Saradoc, while I don’t like the look of the poor lad any more than you do, and I don’t understand a word he’s been saying…well, he does seem to be on the mend.”
The Master of Buckland looked at Frodo, he simply could not believe that this frail and wasted looking wraith of a hobbit was the same one who’d led his son Merry into scrapes of every sort not 8 months before. He frowned and said “well, I don’t like it, I object to what I am seeing. I don’t think speaking this elvish nonsense is helping and I like even less that you’ve got that pretty hobbit lass tending to him unsupervised.” Saradoc stared at Bilbo “Rory is still his legal guardian and I have discussed with him whether or not this is the best place for him Bilbo, and I must tell you I have my doubts.”
Frodo looked from one face to another….these hobbits were upsetting his Uncle. While he could not understand what each word meant, he could see from the look on Bilbo’s face that they were using words he did not want to hear. He began to frown and shift uncomfortably in his chair.
Bilbo looked down to see the look of concern on Frodo’s face and he gestured to Saradoc and Paladin to move the conversation to the hallway. Frodo sat alone in his room, aware of the sound of voices outside his door, every few words spoken one or two of them began to make sense in his muddled mind. He strained to listen harder, squinting his eyes as he concentrated, straining to connect word to thought and thought to idea. “Go away” he heard, then “back again” and “Brandy Hall” and finally “you’ll lose him”. It started to come together and in a rush of regained thoughts and images he realized that these Hobbits wanted to take him away from his Uncle Bilbo. He felt a tightening in his throat and a stab of pain in his chest at the thought of being once again alone, with out the guidance and love he’d come to feel in the company Bilbo. A sob caught in his throat and he whimpered as he felt the start of a headache. He pressed himself back into the recesses of his chair, trying to rid his head of the steady throb of pain that was growing slowly in area of his forehead. It did no good and the pain steadily worsened until he could stand the pain no more and groaned out loud as his breathing became rapid and shallow.
Bilbo gestured to the Thain and the Master of Buckland to stop their commentary as he sensed Frodo’s distress. In a moment he heard a groan and was in an instant beside his nephew. “Frodo lad, what’s wrong?” in his fear and anxiety he’d forgotten to use his elvish and Frodo said “no, no…no” in return. “No what lad…tell me” Bilbo asked frantically. Frodo’s headache began to subside as he was presented with images and frightening pictures …Chrys walking into the barn, an evil presence hunting her….rough hands grabbing her…hurting her. Frodo moaned and thrashed his head from side to side trying to speak, but no words would come.
“Bilbo, what on earth is the matter with the lad?” Paladin asked tensely ” I don’t know” Bilbo said with fear in his eyes “stay with him…I’ll go get help.” Bilbo ran to the gardens to find Sam as Frodo tried to relax but image after image assailed him…Chrys struggling and crying as unwanted hands restrained her and she tried to scream. Frodo could stand it no longer, he screamed, a sound that carried the anguish, frustration and pain of one being hurt beyond the tolerance of their spirit as he threw himself from his chair. He fell with a sickening crash as Paladin and Saradoc ran to his aid. “My lad, whatever is wrong? What have you done to yourself?” Paladin asked with concern as he gently lifted his nephew in his arms and noted the fresh blood upon his head. “Help her Uncle Paladin” Frodo whispered, blue eyes wide with the pain of another “she’s being attacked” he cried. Sam, who’d heard the crash came running and after one moment of tortured eye contact with his friend knew what to do. He took off at a run down to Sandyman’s barn.