Just A Safe Reminder: A double asterisk ** indicates flashback.
Hobbiton in the snow looked like a winter fairy land right out of a book. Sam smiled to himself as he watched the bundled up hobbits scurrying in and out of homes and shops, trying to keep warm. The cold didn’t bother Sam today. His mind was on memories of a childhood gone-by, days when ideas were fresh, friends were new, and life seemed simple.
Thinking back on the generosity of Mr. Bilbo Baggins, Sam was inclined to think more about his neighbors. He remembered meeting Mr. Frodo Baggins, the nephew of Mr. Bilbo Baggins, on a sunny spring day while Sam worked in his garden. Snow fell in Sam’s curls, but he gave them not a thought. His mind was on spring…
**The worst toll that Bell’s death had taken on the Gamgee family was the sudden change in Hamfast’s nature. He rarely talked of anything but business, he left home early in the morning, and didn’t come inside till late. Sam hardly seemed to know his father anymore, and was troubled that this change appeared permanent. But his afternoons with Mr. Bilbo cheered him up. He learned slowly, but steadily, and Mr. Bilbo was patient as they moved along.
Sam was eight years of age when Mr. Bilbo began visiting Brandy Hall in Buckland. Sam spent less and less time at Bag End, on account of Mr. Bilbo being there less often. But Sam was assured that this was only temporary and that his visits would soon be restored to their normal times, even if Mr. Bilbo suddenly had a new resident with him at Bag End.
One clear morning, Sam woke in bad temper. For one, he had hoped to go to Bag End that day, but Mr. Bilbo had gone down to the Brandywine Bridge to pick up a Mr. Frodo Baggins who was coming to visit. Secondly, because of Mr. Frodo Baggins’ stay, Sam would not be able to visit Bag End for the entire weekend and would have to work in the family garden with Hamfast, who was grumpy. Sam decided right away that morning that whoever this new Mr. Baggins was, he was no good.
“Do you intend to turn your milk sour by scowling at it, Samwise?” his sister, Daisy, asked him at breakfast. Sam looked up at her, frowning.
“I can’t go to Bag End again today,” he said, tactfully.
“Sam, I thought we had talked this over,” Daisy said, taking a seat beside her younger brother, “It isn’t going to be like this always. Only until Mr. Frodo is either part of Bag End, or Mr. Bilbo stops visiting him. You were fine with it when we talked it over.” Sam stabbed at the food on his plate, with nothing to say in defense.
“I know,” he said, “Gaffer’s right; I’m too impatient. It’s all because of that Mr. Baggins!”
“Who? Mr. Bilbo?” Daisy asked, shocked.
“No, Mr. Frodo Baggins,” Sam corrected, aimlessly stabbing his food again, “I just wish he’d go away.”
“Sam!” Daisy cried, aghast, for Sam was not one for being so grouchy, “He’s a hobbit just like everyone else, and he needs respect just like everyone else.”
“I’ll respect him, but it doesn’t mean I have to like him,” Sam mumbled.
“Are you just asking for trouble?” Daisy asked. Sam shook his head, then took a huge bite of his food. Daisy smiled as Sam’s cheeks puffed way out from the overload. She gave his ear a little tweak and kissed the top of his head.
“Behave, Sam, that’s all I ask,” she said, “You don’t have to like him, just behave. Can you deal with that?” Sam nodded, good-naturedly. He promised to do his best.
The day wore on like any other. Sam kept to himself for the most part, but was eventually called out to work in the garden with his father. The sun gave off a good deal of heat that scorched the back of Sam’s neck, but he hardly gave it a thought. He worked with his father with a hoe, breaking up the soil that had lain dormant all winter. They hardly exchanged words, and if there was speech between them, it was about the garden. Around noon-ish, Sam looked up, realizing that Mr. Bilbo had returned. A youthful hobbit with brown curls accompanied him. Sam stopped for a moment, trying to get a good look at this new Mr. Baggins, but Mr. Baggins noticed his stare and waved. Embarrassed, Sam turned back to his work. He knew he shouldn’t have stared; it was no way to treat a guest to the neighborhood.
The sun traced its path in the sky, moving from high noon to the hours of early evening. Sam and his Gaffer had finished hoeing, and Sam began to work on transplanting pea sprouts into bigger pots. It was pleasant to have time to himself, sitting alone on his little bench with his sprouts. He let his toes wiggle in the dirt below, and smiled contentedly. He had finished the first when he became aware of Mr. Bilbo and his nephew walking to the gate of Number Three.
Sam paid close attention to the sprouts, feeling rather small compared to the older hobbits, and quickly mumbled to Mr. Bilbo that his Gaffer was in the house. The sound of the door creaking and closing let Sam know that one of the two had passed into Number Three. But one shadow remained. Slowly, Sam raised his head, squinting against the sun’s rays. It was Mr. Frodo Baggins.
“Hullo,” Mr. Baggins said, brightly. Sam wiggled his toes again, a little bashful.
“Hullo,” he answered, looking down at his sprouts. There was a long pause, and Sam began to wonder if Mr. Baggins was just going to stand there, silent as a shadow, and more so like a shadow on Sam’s plants. Sam looked up again, thinking about what to say.
“You’re Mr. Bilbo’s nephew, aren’t you?” he asked, though he knew very well that he was.
“Well, sort-of,” Mr. Baggins returned, “`Cousin’ is closer to the mark. And you’re Master Hamfast’s boy, aren’t you?”
“Youngest son,” Sam said, quietly, “but Marigold is younger.” In the next moment, Mr. Baggins had sank down to get a good look at Sam’s work. Sam wondered if it was customary in Buckland to stare at the handiwork of a young hobbit as he worked on it, almost as if he were a piece in a museum, or if Mr. Baggins was just prying. As it turned out, he was neither. He only seemed to be interested in making friends.
“Are these peas here?” he inquired.
“Will be when they’re grown,” Sam answered, patting the dirt, fondly. He looked at Mr. Baggins, taking a quick look at his face. He liked the looks of the hobbit. Mr. Baggins had large, blue eyes and wore a kind smile. There was nothing disrespectful or prying about him.
“Is this something your father makes you do?” Mr. Baggins asked. Sam was slightly indignant. This was his work. This is what he did to escape! Though he couldn’t blame Mr. Baggins for not knowing, he did feel inclined to say:
“I do it myself `cause I like to.”
Perhaps it came out a little sharper than Sam had intended, for Mr. Baggins raised his eyebrows and backed off the subject in a hurry.
“No harm, lad, that’s all right,” he said, rapidly. Sam reached for another sprout and pot, beginning to sift the dirt out. Wracking his brain for something else to say, for he didn’t want Mr. Baggins to leave offended, he asked as simple a question as could come to mind:
“You’re in your tweens, aren’t you?” he asked, looking up again.
“Twenty, yes,” Mr. Baggins answered, “and I’ll wager you’re about nine.” Sam smiled to himself. He was wrong, but it still delighted him. He was eight.
“Eight,” he corrected Mr. Baggins, grinning broadly, “and you’re birthday is September 22nd.”
“How did you know that?” Mr. Baggins was eager to know.
“It’s Mr. Bilbo’s as well,” Sam said, “I go to his home during the week, and he teaches me about letters. I’ll be able to read and write without help soon.” Mr. Baggins smiled at him, glad to see enthusiasm in a young hobbit, especially for something as learning.
Just then, the door to Number Three opened, and Daisy stepped out, shopping basket in hand. Mr. Baggins stood to his feet, out of respect, but Sam watched his jaw drop upon seeing Daisy. Sam smiled to himself. Daisy was a pretty hobbit-lass, with large, doe-like green eyes, and sun-streaked, reddish hair. Her cheeks held a youthful, healthy glow, and her dark lashes were long.
“That’s Daisy, Mr. Baggins,” Sam said, though he wasn’t sure if Mr. Baggins heard him. Daisy shone a winning smile.
“How do you do, Mr. Baggins?” she asked, brightly. Panicked for Mr. Baggins own reputation, Sam pleaded a silent prayer that the star-struck hobbit would reply. Thankfully, his prayer was answered.
“Very well, Miss Gamgee,” Mr. Baggins answered, and Sam was surprised at how calm he was able to sound.
“Mr. Bilbo says that he’ll only be a moment longer,” Daisy continued, telling Mr. Baggins, and then she turned to Sam, “I’ll be back, Samwise.”
Sam bid her a quick good-bye, grinning to himself as Mr. Baggins watched her till she was gone from sight. Then, he turned to Sam.
“That’s your sister?” he asked, astounded. Sam could hardly contain himself, nodding and giggling. Even a hard stare from Mr. Baggins didn’t bother him.
“I won’t say nothing,” he promised Mr. Baggins, and he meant it, too, of course. Mr. Baggins thanked him, and Mr. Bilbo emerged from Number Three. They were set to go home for the remainder of the day.
“I’ll be seeing you, Sam,” Mr. Baggins said, turning to leave.
“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Baggins!” Sam called to him. And he meant it.
“Call me `Frodo’,” Mr. Baggins insisted. Sam wouldn’t dream of calling the nephew/cousin of the family employer so casually. So, he settled for an alternative.
“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Frodo!” And he rather liked the sound of it.**
Sam stood at the stand of an apple vender, smiling as he paid the seller. Odd, isn’t it, he thought to himself, I don’t think I even thought then how well I would get along with Mr. Frodo.
He bit into his apple, thinking on another day with Mr. Frodo not longer after their meeting. He looked at the apple in his hand, thinking again to warmer days of spring during his eighth year…
**Sam stood in the main hallway of Bag End, uncomfortably. It was his day to come in for lessons, but the green door of Bag End stood open and there was a note on the doormat. Sam picked up the note, trying to recall everything possible he had learned to read it. He picked out the words “Sorry”, “Samwise”, “gone”, “call”, “ill”, and “Mr. Bilbo”. Oh, dear, this is no good,Sam thought to himself, Where has he gone?
“Hello? Mr. Bilbo, sir?” he called, his voice echoing slightly down the passage. There was a shuffle from the parlor, and a voice following.
“Sam? Is that you? Forgive me, lad, I didn’t hear you come in.” It was Mr. Frodo. He stepped out of the parlor, a book in hand, and beckoned for Sam to follow him. Sunlight came in through the large windows and onto the table. Sam noticed that it was, perhaps, a little messier than usual.
“Mr. Frodo, where has Mr. Bilbo gone?” Sam inquired, taking a seat where Mr. Frodo had gestured.
“Did he not leave you a note?” Mr. Frodo asked, seating adjacent to Sam. Sam held out the little slip of paper.
“He did, but I couldn’t read it,” Sam answered, as Mr. Frodo took the note with an understanding smile, “I’m a bit of a slow learner, see, and I think Mr. Bilbo must have forgotten that. Can you read it, Mr. Frodo, sir?”
“Yes, Sam, and please forgive Bilbo that,” Mr. Frodo said, “Kind as he is, I do believe he is slightly absent-minded. Here now, it says : `Terribly sorry, Samwise, but I have gone to call on Mr. Dudo Baggins, for he is ill. Frodo can watch over you.’ And it’s signed, `Mr. Bilbo’. There you have it, Sam. We thought perhaps that it would be a shame to make you stay home if you really wanted to come here. I said it would be no trouble at all for me to watch you. You don’t mind, do you?” Sam was a little confused with his feelings: he had wanted to get to know Mr. Frodo, but not yet. He needed learn. It’s what his mum would have wanted. However, perhaps one day of truancy of lessons wouldn’t hurt any…
Sam smiled, and nodded, fidgeting a little in his chair. Mr. Frodo smiled at the young Gamgee, then stood, looking out the window.
“Well, Sam, I haven’t been through Hobbiton in awhile,” he said, “Shall we take a walk down there and you can show me around? I’ll only be here for the weekend, but I would like to see the town a little.”
“I don’t think Hobbiton’s ever changed, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, standing as well. Mr. Frodo was a good deal taller than Sam was, for Sam nearly came to his middle and no higher. But it seemed, in spite of the differences, Sam was a lot like Mr. Frodo.
“I suppose I could show you the woods,” Sam suggested, “They’re nice this time of year. Mum used to say that if you listened real careful on sunny summer days, you could hear the fairies singing in those woods.”
“Do you believe in fairies, Sam?” Mr. Frodo asked.
“I don’t know, really,” Sam confessed, “but I do believe in Elves! Mr. Bilbo’s taught me all about them! They are real, no matter what Gaffer says.”
“What does your Gaffer say?” asked Mr. Frodo. Sam puckered his little brow.
“He says that it’s a lot of rubbish, and that carrots and turnips are better for young hobbits than a lot of made up tales,” he said, “But they’re not made up! Mr. Bilbo’s seen them! And I can’t always think about carrots and turnips. That’s what’s rubbish, Mr. Frodo.”
“It looks as if we’ve got a lot to talk about, Sam” said Mr. Frodo, “Why don’t we take a walk through Hobbiton and the woods. My father used to say that there was a time for everything. So let’s make time for both today, shall we, Sam?”
Sam led Mr. Frodo into the heart of Hobbiton on that fine day when the sun shone brightly. He pointed out every shop, telling small histories of the owners or the store itself, for Sam had always lived in Hobbiton and knew a great deal of it. Mr. Frodo listened in fascination and patience to every story, interjecting questions when he could. Sam was a bit of a fast talker when he got started, and with so little that Mr. Frodo knew, there was so much to say. When finally Mr. Frodo got some words in edgewise, he inquired a little more personal questions to Sam.
“Tell me about your family, Sam,” he asked, when they were coming out of a long alleyway into the town square once again.
“My family?” Sam echoed, scratching his neck, “My family’s like any other hobbit’s family you meet on the street. Why don’t you tell me about Brandy Hall and everything?”
“Oh, my family can wait, Sam, I’d like to hear about yours,” Mr. Frodo said, smiling down at the well-mannered young hobbit.
“Well, let me see, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, thinking a little, “Hamson is the oldest, and he’s my favorite. I’m not sure why, though, it’s Just Because. Halfred is after him, being nineteen. He’s the quite sort, and likes to read. Mum taught him when he was young, because he was so smart. After Halfred is Daisy, and you’ve already met her. She’s the prettiest, I believe.”
“I’ll agree with you there, Sam,” Mr. Frodo interjected. Sam laughed, looking up at Mr. Frodo.
“Have you taken a liking to my sister, Mr. Frodo?” he asked, giggling, though he knew very well that he had. Mr. Frodo grinned, placing a hand on Sam’s shoulder and bending down to look him in the eye.
“A secret between you and me,” was all he said, then straightened up again. Sam looked up, squinting against the glare of the sun.
“I’ll keep mum, I swear,” he said. Mr. Frodo gave a smile that said he knew that Sam would.
“Well, to continue, Mr. Frodo, sir, after Daisy comes May. She’s five years older than me, and my Gaffer says she’s bound to be a bit of a rebel. She likes all sorts of things that lads like, and absolutely hates dresses, but my Gaffer makes her wear them, because it’s proper.”
“It sounds as though she needs to have a talk with my cousin, Melilot,” Mr. Frodo said.
“Oh, so? Is your cousin a bit of a rebel, too?” asked Sam.
“No, but she’s learned to take things with a smile,” replied Mr. Frodo.
“She sounds pleasant,” Sam said, “Will I get to meet her?”
“Ah, she doesn’t live anywhere close,” Mr. Frodo said, sounding a little said, but bounced back in a moment, “You were talking about May. Who’s after May?”
“I’m after May!” Sam exclaimed, smiling, “And after me is Marigold. She’s three years younger than me, and is very quiet and shy, but kind. She doesn’t remember my mum at all, for she was very small when Mum died.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” said Mr. Frodo, “Do you remember much of your mum?” Sam’s head sank to his chest.
“Not as much as I’d like,” he said, quietly, “and sometimes, I forget what her voice sounded like.” His eyes clouded over, and a single tear trickled down his cheek. Oh, you ninnyhammer! Don’t cry here! He wiped his eyes, and looked back at his companion, who had stepped over to buy the both of them apples. Sam tried to smile, but the sudden, but vague memory of his mother had drained him.
Mr. Frodo handed him a bright red apple, giving him a little, cheerful nudge, as if to tell him to perk up. Sam was grateful for his company.**
Sam looked down at his shiny, half-eaten apple, reflecting on the fond memory of that day. He may have been away from lessons, but he had gained something greater than knowledge of letters and numbers. He had gained a friend.
He looked up towards Bywater, remembering that Mr. Frodo and he had stopped so skip stones on their way home. Sam, with a smile on his face, ran to Bywater, though it was iced over. But it hadn’t been that day…
** “I’ve never been able to accomplish it, and I don’t know why,” Mr. Frodo said, watching Sam skip his tiny pebble across the glassy surface of Bywater.
“Well, see, Mr. Frodo, it’s all in the wrist,” Sam said, twisting his arm, then letting a second pebble flick out from his hand. It danced across the surface four times before sinking to rest at the bottom. Sam bent to pick up another, but tossed this to Mr. Frodo.
“Give it a go, sir, it’s not so hard once you get the hang of it,” said Sam.
“Sam, I’m going to look like a fool,” Mr. Frodo said, “I don’t know how!” Sam crossed his arms.
“You’ve lived at Brandy Hall, by the Brandywine with all them hobbits that don’t give so much as a fig for water, and you don’t know how to skip a little stone?” he asked. Mr. Frodo’s face gave way to a depressed frown.
“My parents drown in the Water, Sam,” he said, quietly, “that’s why I live at Brandy Hall. I don’t like water. I never have. And I don’t know how to skip a stone.”
Sam’s heart painfully skipped a beat when he heard this, knowing the hurt of losing one parent, but both? How had Mr. Frodo stayed in one piece? Sam’s throat tightened, regretting every word he’d just said. He sat down on a log, feeling sick for Mr. Frodo.
“I’m sorry,” he said, hoarsely.
“You didn’t know,” said Mr. Frodo, taking a seat beside him.
There was a moment when silence reigned between the two of them. The birds sung their joyous melody overhead, and the sound of a bumbling cart rolled somewhere behind them in the distance.
“You know,” Mr. Frodo finally broke the silence, “I never asked you how your mum died.”
“She was sick,” Sam replied, “I guess the time just came. The worst part of it all is my Gaffer. He’s never been as happy or nice as he was before Mum died.”
“What does he do?” asked Frodo.
“He gets angrier more easy,” Sam responded, “and we all get disciplined a lot more, and sometimes I get called names. And there are times more often than not, he’ll go off in temper and not come back till late.” Tears brimmed in Sam’s eyes, and began spilling over his cheeks.
“He’s not my Gaffer anymore, Mr. Frodo,” he said, starting to cry, “I don’t rightly know what he is. I don’t know him anymore. And sometimes–” he wiped his eyes, “–sometimes I just want to curl up in bed and sleep it all away. Sometimes I wish that I’ll wake one morning and find it was all a bad dream, that it never really happened in the first place.” Mr. Frodo put an arm around the young hobbit as he let his tears fall.
“I know how you feel, Sam,” Mr. Frodo said, “There were days when I felt that if I just went far enough into the Old Forest, I could escape it all, and perhaps find something better. Everyone would like to control what happens to them in life, and they get upset when it doesn’t go their way. Listen to me, Sam,” He leaned into Sam’s line of vision, “you cannot control all that happens to you in life, but you can control how you feel about it. Don’t let change wear you down, but learn to change with it, and I think you’ll find life a lot easier to handle. I know it’s difficult to understand at eight, it was for me, but if you learn early on to not worry about change, you’ll be a much more agreeable hobbit when you grow old. At any rate, I can assure you, life won’t always be this way. Look at me: I’ve been in a crowd of hobbits nearly all my life, but now I’m coming to live with Bilbo and, someday, I’ll be the Mr. Baggins of Bag End.”
Sam brightened up, wiping his tears with the back of his hand.
“You’re staying?” he asked, happily. Mr. Frodo nodded, beaming.
“Bilbo is going to draw up the wills while I’m back at Brandy Hall, packing,” Mr. Frodo replied, “He said I could last night, and I was elated. So, it looks as though I’ll be seeing a lot more of you and your family from now on.”
“I’m very glad to have met you, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam.
“I am, too, Sam,” Mr. Frodo said, “I cannot tell you how glad. Now, how about tea? I’m starved.”
“You haven’t skipped a stone yet, Mr. Frodo,” Sam said, holding out a stone to Mr. Frodo. He smiled, and the two skipped stones for about another half an hour, until they headed back to Bag End for tea.**
And Mr. Frodo did learn to skip stones, Sam thought, skipping one then for old time’s sake. He walked along a log, but tripped half way, muddying the knees of his trousers. Laughing at himself, but still turning to see if anyone had seen, Sam pulled himself to his feet. But a clear, female voice sent him running. He wasn’t quite ready to embarrass himself by reflecting on her yet. Not yet.
To Be Continued…
Author’s P.S.- So sorry that this took so long! I hit rock bottom with writer’s block and had to start all over again. I hope it was worth it! And if you would like to know about the death of Frodo’s parents, or Frodo’s point of view of meeting Sam, go to Young Baggins- Part 1, or Young Baggins- Part 3 ~Ainariel