Helpful Reminder: A double asterisk ** indicates flashback.
The snowfall had begun to thin out, but Sam, quite red from his run-in with Rosie Cotton, decided to turn his steps out of the woods and turn more towards home. Ah, yes, home. Home is where the heart is. And wasn’t that true for the Gamgee children…
**Late summer evenings of Sam’s 18th year were often spent waiting by the window of Number Three. It had become a ritual that year about the Gamgee children, sitting by the windows and waiting for Daisy Gamgee to return home. Return home from where, one might ask. A simple question to answer. Previously that year, in about February, Frodo had gotten up the nerve to ask Master Hamfast if he could court Daisy. Frodo, being a lad with a very hopeful future and a good head on his shoulders, was allowed the privledge. Daisy was thrilled beyond words, and on warm summer evenings, she and Frodo would have supper in town and walk home.
Now, Daisy was the first of the Gamgee girls to court. There hadn’t been so much fuss when Hamson or Halfred had gone to call on girls. But Daisy was another story. May and Marigold mused over all her stories, and Hamson, Halfred, and Sam were out to look after her. Sam had faith that Mr. Frodo would be good to his sister, but it was the brotherly thing to do. It was also a matter of trust with Daisy. If things ever went amiss, she could always call on her strapping brothers to take down the knave and show him his place. Although Sam wasn’t sure if he’d ever have the courage to do such a thing to Mr. Frodo, he still wanted Daisy to know that he was there for her. Always.
And so, being a warm evening in June, all of the Gamgee children were perched somewhere in the parlor, gazing out at the yard, waiting for Daisy to show up with her suitor.
“They are taking awhile tonight,” May spoke up, “Shouldn’t any body go out looking for them?”
“Mr. Frodo wouldn’t do anything to Daisy, unless you could sweet talking a dishonorable thing,” Sam said.
“If it were, Mr. Frodo would be about the most dishonorable hobbit this side of the Brandywine!” Halfred laughed.
“My word, but he does have a clever tongue in his head, doesn’t he?” Hamson joined in, “He must get it from that Brandybuck blood in him. That Mr. Merry, too. He’s been known to say some loverly things to Miss Estella.”
“You’re all as bad as a bunch of Bolgers!” laughed Marigold, “Put a sock in it! They’re out beyond the gate.”
Several shhh’s went out and around the parlor as they peered into the darkness of that summer’s eve. The silence didn’t last long, for Marigold burst into a fit of laughter.
“I think I’m going to lose my supper! Do something, lads: them’s two are a-holding hands!” she cried.
“Not so!” Sam exclaimed, straining his eyes, “Sure don’t look like it to me!”
“You must be blinder than a bat, ’cause they’re right outside!” Marigold laughed.
“Sammie, she’s right!” Hamson exclaimed, “What do you say we give him a playful pounding? Just to let him know we’re watchin’.”
“Pound him? Hamson, no! Mr. Frodo’s all right; he won’t harm her at all!” Sam exclaimed, aghast at the idea, “Now, if she were courting Ted Sandyman, I may have said otherwise…”
“Hammie, it looks to me like our Sam is playin’ favorites, what do you make of that?” asked Halfred, catching Sam’s head under his arm and ruffling his mop of curly hair. Sam laughed, wiggling free and stumbling back from his brother’s side.
“No, not favorites, I just know that Mr. Frodo wouldn’t hurt her. He’s a decent sort of chap,” he said.
“Sammie, all ‘decent chaps’ get funny when they’re courting girls,” Hamson said, beckoning them to the door, “On the count of three, we’ll bust out the door. Sam, you grab Daisy, and Hal and I will deal with that Mr. Frodo–“
“But it’s all in good fun, right?” asked a concerned Sam.
“Of course it is! We won’t hurt him anymore’n he’d hurt us,” Hamson continued, then held up three fingers, slowly dropping one, then the other, and then flung open the door. By this time, Sam was ready for a bit of fun. They charged out the door, the very image of a suitor’s nightmare: three tall boys with broad shoulders and hardened hands. Crying all sorts of silly threats, they ran down the walkway and vaulted over the garden fence. Sam grabbed Daisy with one arm ’round her waist as Hamson and Halfred gave Mr. Frodo a shove, looking as though they were ready to give him a few good knocks. Mr. Frodo had his fists up, ready to protect himself, but began laughing at them, realizing the joke in an instant. Hamson and Halfred laughed, too, giving him good-natured slaps on the back.
“You’re horrid, all of you! Absolutely horrid!” cried Daisy, squirming out of Sam’s grasp.
“Come on, then, Daisy! It was all in good fun,” Sam said, laughing.
“Of course it was!” Frodo followed up, laughing as well, “Though I daresay, you gave me the fright for a moment!”
“‘Just letting you know, Mr. Frodo, sir, that we’ll be watching you,” Hamson said, with a hint of mystery in his voice, “Always watching.” Halfred and Sam laughed aloud, but Daisy stood, with her arms crossed, frowning darkly.
“Come, come, Daisy, no hard feelings!” Halfred said, putting an arm around his sister. Instead, Daisy shook him off and flounced towards the house, obviously feeling quite offended.
“Good night, Daisy!” Mr. Frodo called after her, and she stopped at the door for a moment, looking over her shoulder at him.
“Good night, Frodo,” she said, opening the door, and throwing hard glances at her brothers. Halfred, being the one with bad timing, called out to her:
“Good night, Daisy!” causing the others to chorus the same, “Good night!” after her.
“Good riddance, all three of you,” Daisy snapped, closing the door behind her.
“She takes on after the Gaffer, Frodo, I’m sorry,” Halfred said, turning to look at Daisy’s suitor. Mr. Frodo only shrugged.
“Oh, she isn’t angry at me,” he said, “You three would do well to watch your backs, however.”
“We will, you’ve got nothing to worry about there,” Hamson said, laughing again.
Sam’s mind strayed for a moment as he looked up at the shining sliver of the moon, dangling haphazardly in the sky and surrounded by the dust of the celestial bodies that swirled in their places in the heavens. It was nights like this that he wanted to give up sleeping all together. Why would anyone want to sleep when there were such wonders to gaze upon?
Mr. Frodo was bidding farwells to the Gamgee boys when Sam’s mind returned to the solid earth.
“Are any of you up for a midnight’s walk?” asked Sam, spontaneously. There was a moment of silence as all eyes turned on the youngest boy.
“What for, Sammie, we’ve been up all night as it is,” Hamson said.
“Would you just have a look at the sky tonight, Hammie!” Sam exclaimed, “There’s no way that I could go to sleep even if I wanted to. Let’s all of us go, right now.”
“All of us?”
“That’s what I said, isn’t it? Somebody lassoe Daisy and we’ll head on out, more’s better.”
“I don’t thi–“
“Oh, stow it, Hammie! Let’s go! All o’ the Gamgee children, out for a walk together,” Halfred interjected, “I’ll gather ’em up and we’ll move on out. It’s a grand idea, Sammie. We’ll see where the roads take us.”
“The Gaffer won’t like it,” Hamson said, a little omniously.
“The Gaffer needn’t know about it, right, Hamson?” Halfred said, pointedly. Hamson may have been the oldest, but Halfred was the strongest by far.
Once Hamson had given his approval of the idea, though hesitantly, but it was approval all the same; the Gamgee girls joined them on the front lawn, even Daisy, and they set out together down Bagshot Row. A couple of the girls linked arms and Sam had his arm around Daisy, trying to cheer her up, and the other around Hamson, who always was his favorite. They had only gone a little way’s when Halfred began to sing little jots of songs, for no reason other than perhaps the pleasure of hearing his own voice:
“The Road goes ever on and on– Good evening to you, Mr. Sandyman!
Down from the door where it began.“
“What occasion brings the entire Gamgee family out in the middle of the night?” Mr. Sandyman inquired, as the clan passed him.
“Does there need to be an occasion, Mr. Sandyman?!” Sam called over his shoulder, “It’s a lovely night for a walk, that’s what!”
“Yes, sir, have a look at the stars; they’d be enough to raise a dead man from his grave,” May added.
“If I had my way,” Halfred was saying, as they walked away from a confused Mr. Sandyman, “I’d take a Gross of hobbits out for walk, just to see their faces when they look at these stars.”
“Oh, Halfred, don’t refer to hobbits with Gross; it’s disrespectful!” Daisy chastised.
“No one can hear me; what does it matter?” said Halfred. And Sam laughed aloud. He loved it when Halfred was in these types of moods. It made life a lot more amusing.
Walking on and joining in the occasional singing, Sam was apt to look more to the sky. He wondered what tales it held of the Old Days, and of Elves, Dragons, and all the things that Mr. Bilbo spoke of. He pondered for some time if he could ever learn such tales, or better yet, tell such tales to other hobbits who cared as he did. Rosie used to ask for tales, but he hardly spoke to her ever since….that time. Maybe someday, when they were reconciled, he would tell tales to her again. Maybe someday.
And so it happened that though the Gamgees felt they were only taking a spontaneous midnight walk, to others in Hobbiton, it was the queerest thing that had seen in a long time. Never had the Gamgee children been out past curfew, nor made such noise if they had. Gamgees were known for their quiet and respectful manners, and word had begun to go around that this generation was almost as bad as the Bagginses. And what was meant to be a nice family walk ended up a disastor the next morn.**
Sam paused for a moment, remembering and wondering if he should really reflect anymore. His Gaffer was kind enough, but when he was crossed, there was no way to escape his wrath. And ever since Bell’s death, even after so many years had passed, Hamfast was still tight-fisted when it came to discipline.
Sam looked skyward, searching for a nice spot to sit for a little while, out of sight, in case he felt like shedding a few tears in solitude. Life wasn’t always easy in Number Three.
He climbed up onto a dry spot on a limb of a tree, curling up his toes away from the snow, and his amber-colored eyes drifted to look at the sailing clouds…..
** “Gaffer! Your order of bulbs came in from Michel Delving today and the Postman wants to know if you want to come and pick it up or if he should have someone…deliver it. What’s wrong?”
It was the morning following their moonlight expedition, and Sam, coming in from the outside, found the entire family assembled in the kitchen, all the children shamefaced and the Gaffer looking as mad as a wet hen.
“What now?” Sam asked, softly, and hardly daring to take a seat, for the Gaffer’s fixed stare was enough to make a king quake in fear.
“Speakin’ of Postmans,” the Gaffer began, and Sam had a feeling it wasn’t a good thing, “I got a note this morning from an Isabel Chubb in Hobbiton,” His stare drifted to May, who was unconsiously biting her fingernails. She noted his stared and ceased abruptly. “I s’ppose you’d want to know what it says in it. Well, Samwise,” his stare was back on Sam now, “I’ll kindly read it to ye. It says this: ‘My dear Hamfast Gamgee, father of six: If you have lengthened your Curfew for you children, you may do well to see that your children keep quieter. And, if you could be so kind, see that they stay out of my flower bed. Thank you kindly. We’ve always thought well of the Gamgees. Signed, Isabel Chubb.’ I don’t remember lengthenin’ the Curfew. Do you remember, Marigold?” All eyes turned on Marigold, who bit down on her lip and stared at her feet.
“No, Gaffer, you didn’t,” she mumbled to the ground.
“Mayhap I ought to ask, then, what were my children doin’ out past our Curfew last eve? Do you know, Samwise?” The hearts of each Gamgee sunk to their knees, for Sam was an honest lad and the Gaffer knew he wouldn’t lie.
Sam’s brow furrowed in deep thought. It had been his idea from the start, although Halfred had been guilty of making the noise. He couldn’t bring himself to blame it on the others, seeing as it was his notion to head out and watch the stars. Pursing his lips and drawing a deep breath, he looked towards Hamfast’s eyes.
“Gaffer, sir, it was my idea,” he said, “but we weren’t in no flower beds, I can assure you. I’m not sure what’s gotten into Miss Chubb, but we didn’t touch any flowers, and we didn’t think it was going to be a problem, sir–“
“Well, it’s a problem, Sam,” Gaffer interjected, “Were you makin’ any noise?”
“Yes, sir. A little, sir.”
“Were you out past our Curfew?”
“Now answer me this: is this a problem?”
“Then why did you do it, Sam?”
Sam’s face screwed up into a deep wince, knowing that now it was all his fault in his Gaffer’s mind. But there was no way to avoid answering, so in his mind, he readied himself to bear the oncoming attacks. He lowered his head to his chest.
“Well, sir, the stars were….well, enchanting, like something out of Mr. Bilbo’s stories…and we had been waiting up for Daisy anyway, and I thought that it’d be nice if we all walked together, seeing as we’re all getting older and Hamson’s planning on moving away from us soon. None of us were a-thinking about Curfew. I’m sorry and getting sorrier for crossing you, honest, Gaffer, I am. But don’t you understand, at least a little?”
Sam watched his Gaffer’s face turn about four different shades of red, and it wasn’t in embarrassment, to be certain. They all knew that at any given moment, he might explode and they’d have to run to avoid fireworks. Sam knew well enough to keep his replies as gentle and terse as possible, no matter what the Gaffer might say. So gritting his teeth against any smart remarks that may have threatened to spout out, Sam took the brunt of the Gaffer’s fury:
“Understand? You’re askin’ me to understand why you ignored my rules? No, Sam, no I don’t understand! And I don’t understand how you can think without usin’ your head, neither. The stars looked like somethin’ out o’ Mr. Bilbo’s stories? Lawks, Sam, when are you going to grow up and realize them stories are nothin’ but hogwash and child’s tales! They ain’t for believin’ in and hopin’ for! They’re just stories! And if it takes keepin’ you away from the Bagginses for you to figure that out, then that’s what I’ll do! It’s one thing to learn stuff from ’em, but makin’ a bad name for the family because of ’em, that’s somethin’ different different entirely!
“It’s a miracle you’ve made it this far, what with all the childish thoughts you seem to think! I don’t know what you’re going to do when you make it to your tweens! You’re no real Gamgee boy, just a little ninnyhammer what believes in old fairy stories! You–“
“Gaffer,” was all Daisy had to interject. Sam said nothing, but they could tell from his eyes that a wall had gone up and he was hardly listening anymore. He sat, motionless and rigid, with tears brimming in his eyes, but they never fell. Hamfast gave him a short glance, and then hastily left the room, breathing hard in anger.
Sam still sat, stock-still, and watched as May shooed the others from the kitchen. She took a seat next to him, silent as though she was waiting for him to speak. But Sam said nothing, and minutes passed until they finally heard Hamson’s shearers beneath the window, trimming the grass. And Sam drew in a long breath.
“Well,” he said, starting to stand, “I suppose then I’ll tell the Postman to send someone to deliver the bulbs,” but May put a hand to his arm.
“Stay a moment, Sammie,” she said, motioning for him to sit again, “are you thinking anything at all?”
“You mean thinking with the mind I don’t have?” asked Sam, tactfully.
“Forget Gaffer right now,” said May, “what’s on your mind?”
“You heard him, May, he hates me,” Sam answered, but never letting his tears fall, only wiping them before they came, “I’ll never be his son, because he hates me. I’m just some ninnyhammer off the street who believes in Elves and Dragons. He hates me, May, he hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you, Sam, he acts that way around all of us when he’s mad,” May said, “He just doesn’t know how to control his anger.”
“Well he did when Mum was alive,” Sam said, “Why, May? Why did she die? We’d never have to worry ’bout this if she hadn’t.”
“If it weren’t us with troubles, it’d be someone else’s family,” said May, “and we’ve got on all right. Gaffer isn’t always this way, you know. He didn’t mean it all; he just gets frustrated.”
“Frustrated about the truth? I was honest, wasn’t I? And he goes off the wall because I was honest. We may get on all right, but we’d get on better without him,” Sam said, ruefully.
“Now, that’s not so, Sam,” May said, “You’d’ve never got on from babyhood if it weren’t for him. You and Marigold both. He’s played both Mum and Dad for you. But he’s got all of us to think of and he just loses it sometimes.”
“Sometimes,” Sam snorted, and he felt his tears beginning to fall. May saw them, too, and embraced her younger brother. That was about all Sam could handle, and he began to cry.
“Confounded, May, I’d decided not to do this,” he said, wiping his eyes.
“It’s all right, really,” she said, “You’re just more sensitive,” but a jesting glare from Sam made her correct herself, “Wrong choice of words, I apologize.”
Just then, there came a knock at the front door, and Mr. Merry poked his head around the door.
“Hey, Sam, Pip and I have got this great idea–“
“I’ve already gotten myself in enough trouble for today, Merry,” Sam interrupted.
“Knock it off, Sammie, you can just blame us,” Merry said, shrugging, “I’m not in any trouble, and it’s been awhile.”
“Go on, Sam, I’ll take your chores today,” May said. Sam raised his eyebrows, smiling a little.
“Oh? And what’s the catch?” he asked.
“That you do mine tomorrow!” **
Sam smiled to himself as he climbed down from his perch in the tree. Throughout his entire life, it was always his brothers and sister that kept him in one piece. Hamson and Halfred didn’t live in Number Three anymore, and Daisy married a hobbit from Bree. The courtship between her and Mr. Frodo didn’t last long, for both decided they’d rather just be friends. May now lived on her own in Hobbiton, and worked with Rosie at the Green Dragon Inn. Sam and Marigold were the only two to still live at home, and Sam had decided to stay in Number Three. The Gaffer wasn’t getting any younger, obviously, and his hearing was failing. He needed someone to stay home with him always. Marigold was courting a lad from Buckland, and it appeared that she wouldn’t be staying long, either.
Sam checked the sky, for the sun had peered out from the clouds. It was beginning to get late in the afternoon and it was time to return home. Before he had left, he had promised to be back in time for supper. Something told him that his Gaffer was planning something, but what baffled him. He sighed, almost wishing to stay and reflect a little while longer. But it was late, and the day passing rapidly. It was time to move on.
******To Be Continued…
Last Post Coming Next! Look for “Young Gamgee-Part 5- Truce
Author’s Notes: Sorry if this was incredibly boring to you, because it became incredibly tedious to write. I’m getting anxious to finish, I’m sorry to say. I’m hoping Pippin will be fun to write, and I’m planning his right now, so any ideas are welcome. I’m hoping you’re still enjoying these! Be careful out there in the Wild; there are some dangerous folk out there! ~Ainariel