Testaments of the Past by Dreamflower, Gryffinjack

1. Prologue by Dreamflower

2. Arrival at Bag End by Dreamflower

3. Unlocking the Past by Dreamflower

4. Hidden Treasures by Dreamflower

5. After Tea by Dreamflower

6. A Morning of Memories by Dreamflower

7. To Cast Away a Treasure at Need by Dreamflower

8. A Task Completed by Dreamflower

9. Epilogue (and Author's Notes) by Dreamflower

Prologue by Dreamflower

PROLOGUE

Merry and Pippin watched the posthobbit trot off down the lane. The cousins sat down on the step of their cottage, and Merry glanced at the letter in Sam’s familiar handwriting. He put his thumb under the seal and opened the letter.

“Dear Mr. Merry and Mr.Pippin--

Rosie and I was going through some things in one of the mathom rooms, as we are thinking of turning it into a room for little Elanor, as Frodo-lad will be having a new little one to share the nursery with him, come summer.”

The two of them stopped and grinned at one another. Merry chuckled. “You know, they said the next lad would be named for me,” he smirked.

“Oh, I don’t know--’Merry’ wouldn’t be a bad name for a little lass as well--ow!” Pippin put a hand to the back of his head where Merry had swatted him.

“Bite your tongue!” Merry chuckled. He returned to reading the letter.

“Anyways, as we was going through the room, we come across a strongbox about the size of a small chest. It had the key stuck right there in the lock, and we opened it.

Now, I know that when Mr. Frodo went over all his papers with me, he said he wanted everything of his to come to me, but I don’t rightly think that what was in there should. These are things that rightly should only go to blood kin. So, I was hoping as you both could come to Bag End as soon as was convenient for you, to see what you want to take away with you, back to Buckland.

I truly think that this is important, and will be glad of you coming.

Here is hoping this has found you both well, and Rose sends her regards to you both, and to Estella as well. And Elanor says give her hugs and kisses to little Wyn and Perry-lad.

Yr. friend,

S. Gamgee.”

Pippin stared at Merry. Merry sighed. “Well, I had better see whether Estella wants to come with us; it can’t be tomorrow--I promised Da to go over the inventory of last winter’s stores.”

“And Beri and Ilbie and I are supposed to check the High Hay.”

“So, I guess it will be day after tomorrow, then. I’ll write Sam back by Quick Post.”

 

End Notes:

This story is a collaboration between Dreamflower and Gryffinjack. We are planning to explore the things that Frodo had felt important enough to save throughout his life, and yet could not take with him on his final journey. Along the way, Sam, Merry and Pippin are going to learn more about Frodo than they already knew.

Each chapter will be followed by some Author's Notes, in which we will post some of the documents mentioned in the story in their entirety. In addition, there will be links to pictures of other items that were found in the strongbox.

We hope you will enjoy exploring the contents of Frodo's strongbox as much as we do.

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Arrival at Bag End by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

The Author's Notes at the end of the chapter are also a part of the story. We hope you will take time to look them over!

The notes at the end of this chapter include:
The full text of Drogo and Primula's Marriage Contract
The full text of Drogo's Letter to Bilbo
The full text of Drogo's and Primula's Last Will and Testament




CHAPTER ONE: ARRIVAL AT BAG END


The trap pulled up in front of Bag End. Sam was enjoying a pipe on the bench by the front door, little Elanor on his lap. He smiled and put her down, and she began to run down the path, helter-skelter. He followed, smiling, at a more leisurely pace.

"Unca Merry! Unca Pip! Auntie 'Stella!" she called out, laughing.

Pippin hopped down from the driver's seat, and Merry clambered down from the other side and began to assist Estella to alight, taking his tiny daughter in one arm, and helping her to step down holding their infant son. Pippin had started to turn to help as well, but was halted by Elanor's little body slamming into his legs. Pippin winced; his knee was stiff from sitting so long.

Pippin bent down and swung her up and around, making her squeal with laughter. "Well, now, how's my little Miss Elanor today?" he grinned. He settled her atop his shoulders, where she gripped his curly hair tightly.

"I'm very good, Unca Pip! But put me down! I want to see the babies!"

Sam chuckled, as Pippin, crestfallen, set her on the ground, and she darted over to where Merry and Estella stood, and began to coo over Wyn and little Perry.

"Ah!" said Pippin dramatically, putting his hand to his heart, "rejected by my best lass for a couple of smelly babies!"

"Your best lass is it?" said Sam in a tone of mock sternness. "And what would Miss Diamond say to that?"

Pippin blushed sheepishly, but laughed all the same. "Since Miss Diamond is as foolishly fond of the fairest little lass in the Shire as I am, I think she would understand." He bit his lip. "We stayed the night at Budgeford, and I'd hoped to convince her to come along on this little expedition, but once again babies were my undoing. Seems several of the pesky things are scheduled for imminent arrival in the village over the next few days, and Mistress Lavender would not spare her."

Sam laughed and clapped him on the back. "Ah, well, M--Pippin, that's what you get when you set your sights on an apprentice Healer!" He turned to the others. "It's good to see you again, Merry! And Estella, I know Rose is very much looking forward to having your company for a few days!"

Merry stepped up and gave Sam a quick one-armed hug and slap on the back, as he was still holding little Wyn in the other arm. "It's good to see you, Sam! It's been far too long!" He turned to Pippin. "Pippin, would you mind seeing to the ponies?"

Pippin soon joined the others in the kitchen, where Rose had set out a very nice luncheon. There was fresh-baked bread, vegetable soup, a salad of tender greens, cold sliced meat, and fried potatoes. They set to as soon as the little ones had been settled.

For a while, they talked of the food, as hobbits usually do, and then Rose and Sam asked how things were in Buckland.

"Things are going quite well, actually," said Merry. "In fact, last month, I persuaded Da to take a couple of weeks off, and I saw to things for him. He's not getting any younger, you know! Mum talked him into going off with Uncle Mac on a fishing trip. But," he added with a smile, "he was almost offended when he returned at how well things went without him."

Pippin laughed. "I know he was pleased that you hadn't any problems, Merry. But I think it made him feel a bit like a spare wheel on a sound waggon."

"Well, your mother was very pleased," put in Estella. "She'd been after him to take time off for years."

Elanor, who had been engrossed in her meal up to this point, interrupted. "Unca Pip! Unca Merry! We have new kitties!"

"Do you indeed, Miss Elanor!" exclaimed Pippin.

She nodded vigorously, nearly spilling her cup of milk. "They are out in the garden shed! Do you want to see them?"

The garden shed was a new one, built to replace the old one, which had been torn down during the Troubles. It was an improvement over the old one--larger, with several windows and a potting bench, and racks and sturdy shelves for storage made it less cluttered than the old rickety shelves and crates which had cluttered the original shed. But it was built in the same location, just below the vegetable garden, a few feet from the well. The path that led there had been restored, and seemed the same as ever it had, and Elanor had led the way, sometimes skipping ahead, and sometimes running back to take her "uncles" by the hand and urge them to greater speed. Sam followed far behind, at a good deal more leisurely pace, smiling as he watched his golden child spread her sunshine.

In the shed door, a panel had been cut out, and a piece of heavy canvas had been attached at the top to make a sort of flap, so that the cats had easy access into and out of the building. But most of the cats had taken up residence in the newly built stable a bit farther down on the property.

Elanor could barely reach the doorknob. Pippin reached over her little head and swung the door inward. There was an inquisitive mew, as if to say "Who has come to call?"

Elanor tiptoed over to a low box which lay in a patch of sunshine from one of the windows, and sat down upon the floor. Pippin and Merry came up behind her. Merry grinned. "Hullo, Strawberry, old girl! We've come to see your new family."

Pippin bent down and lowered his hand. The little mother lay upon her side, nursing four squirming kittens. She raised her head, and bumped his hand just slightly, closing her eyes in pleasure as he rubbed her head gently. She was mostly white, although she had a ginger-coloured patch on one back hip, and another, the shape of a ripe strawberry on her forehead.

Sam had come up behind. "There's three little males and one female. Elanor's managed to name 'em all."

Elanor smiled up at her father, and then began to point: "That's Tater, and Turnip, and Tomato, and Truffle." Her hand stopped on the fourth one which was all white. "Truffle is the lass."

Merry laughed. "I see she takes after her Uncle Pippin! He always named his animals after food too. At least until we got home from our journey, when he decided to name some of them after Elves." For Strawberry had been born at Crickhollow, and her father had been named Haldir.

Pippin picked Truffle up gently. "Well, lass, I see you take after your grandda!" He stroked the mewling little thing for a moment, but when she began to try and nurse his little finger, he chuckled a put her back in the box with her mother. "I think you will get more nourishment in there, Truffle."

"Well, we need to go back to the smial," said Sam.

"Oh, Daddy! Can't I stay with the kitties a little longer?" Elanor turned her wide brown eyes upon her father, and bit her lip.

Sam shook his head, but said "Well, Elanorelle, if you will be *very* careful of them. But keep your ears open for your mother to call you in--no dawdling then!"

She flashed a brilliant smile. "Oh *thank* you, Daddy!"

The three adults left the shed, listening to Elanor chatting to Strawberry as though the cat could understand every word.

"Goodness, Sam!" said Merry, "She's got you fairly wrapped around her little finger!"

Sam just gave a rather sloppy grin, and said "Yes, she does, doesn't she?"

Pippin laughed aloud. "You're a fine one to talk! Look at the way you dote on Wyn! As soon as she learns to talk, she will be telling you to jump, and all you will do is ask her 'how high?'"

Almost at the same instant, both Sam and Merry said "Just wait until *you* have a daughter, Pippin Took!"

Laughing, they entered Bag End's back door.

"Do you want to get a look-in at that strongbox now?" Sam asked.

Merry and Pippin looked at one another, and nodded vigorously. Both of them had their Tookish curiosity fairly aroused.

Sam led the other two back to the mathom room. It had very nearly been emptied, but the strongbox stood against the back wall, right in the centre, the brass key sticking out of its lock.

"That's just how I found it, just as Mr. Frodo left it." He squatted down, turned the key, and threw back the lid. "Rose and me, we looked in it just a little bit, and when we figured out what all was in it, we stopped and locked it back up. That was right on top, as you see. You two may recollect that it used to hang above Mr. Frodo's dressing table in his room, but I hadn't realized he'd taken it down and put it away." Sam looked away. He had left Mr. Frodo's room just as it was, and never went in it, though Rose cleaned and dusted it dutifully every week.

Merry and Pippin looked in curiously. "Why, that's Drogo's and Primula's Wedding Document!" Every hobbit couple had a nicely framed copy of their wedding document, to hang on the wall of their smial. They were usually nicely written and illuminated as well, if the families could afford it. But this was larger and grander than most, and was beautifully illuminated, with gilding on many of the letters. The signatures in red ink stood out prominently, as did the seal of the Master of Buckland, pressed in silver sealing wax next to his own signature.

"Yes, I had forgotten about it, though. I never really thought about it much."

Pippin nodded his head in agreement as he admired the document. One of the finest scriveners in the Shire must have created it.

The Wedding Contract of Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck

"What's this?" asked Pippin, as he reached in to pluck out a yellowed envelope tucked neatly into one corner of the frame.

Merry, who was lifting the document out, stood it next to the strongbox and took the envelope from Pippin. Sam had sat back on his heels, and watched Frodo's cousins anxiously. For all that they were good friends now, Sam never lost sight of the fact that they were Frodo's own kin, and he hoped they thought he had done right in summoning them.

Merry took the paper out of its envelope and opened it carefully. "Why, this is Drogo's and Primula's will!" he exclaimed. “It was written just after Frodo was born. Hmm… Grandda and Uncle Paladin were witnesses.”

He replaced it after glancing at it briefly, and then reached in to take some of the letters from the top.

"These letters were to Bilbo," he said. He opened one. "Oh," he said in a small voice.

Merry’s eyes filled with tears, and his hand trembled, as he looked at the paper he held. Frodo had kept all these things for a reason, and now it was painful to see. He bit his lip, and looked at Pippin, who silently held out his hand.

Pippin glanced down at the paper, and swallowed audibly. In a voice rough with emotion, he began to read.


Dear Bilbo,

Primula and I have the most wonderful news to tell you – we are expecting a child early this fall--possibly around the time of your birthday! We would have told you sooner, but we wanted to wait until the period of greatest risk was over before we told anyone. The healer seems to think that things are going well, and that there is every chance that this time our child will be born well and healthy.

As you can imagine, especially since we had not told anyone else our good news, Primula and I have been discussing everything imaginable about the baby – from what to name it to who it will resemble to what our child’s future will be like.

The more we talked about our child’s future, the more we realised that perhaps we should begin to make provisions for our child's future, in the event something should happen to one or both of us. To put it bluntly, we are contemplating our Will. Of course, if something should happen to only one of us, the other will be there to care for our child. But Primula has become adamant for some reason that we make provision in the unlikely event that something happens to both of us. I think perhaps this may be due to some disturbing dreams she has had recently."


Pippin's voice trailed off, and he looked at the others. "Even then--Frodo's mum, she must have known …"

Merry sighed. "I don't think she knew. That would be unbearable. But she might have had a feeling about it. Remember some of the dreams Frodo used to have?"

"I think as you have the right of it, Merry," put in Sam. "She must've had a feeling about it, and wanted to do somewhat about it."

As if by common consent, all three of them drew a deep breath. Sam rose slowly to his feet.

“Ah! Here’s another letter from Drogo to Bilbo written on the day Frodo was born,” said Merry.

Pippin leaned in closer to Merry who began to read this one aloud.

22 Halimath, S.R. 1368
Brandy Hall


My dear Cousin Bilbo:

My darling Primula and I thank you for the finest birthday gift you could ever give us, our dear son, Frodo. For would you believe? The lad has inherited the Baggins’ stubbornness and insisted on being born on your birthday of all days!

Primula and the babe are both doing well, although Primula is exhausted, of course. I know we always say that we lads are strong, but Bilbo, believe me when I say that we are not nearly as strong as the lasses. My poor Primula was in labour for over thirty hours, but is resting comfortably now. I have never been more proud of my beautiful wife.

Can you believe it, Bilbo? I’m a father! I counted; Frodo has all ten fingers and all ten toes, and the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. He’s a strapping lad – three pounds, six ounces, and is eleven inches tall. Dora says that she remembers me being just as noisy when I was born, but agrees with me that he is far more handsome a babe than I – I think he will favour his mother in his looks, which is most fortunate.

Now that your birthday is over, which you stubbornly insisted on spending at Bag End instead of here meeting the new byrding, won’t you please make haste to come to Brandy Hall? I insist that you meet my son straight away!

Do please hurry, Bilbo. We cannot wait to share our happiness with you!

Love,

Your cousin,

Drogo



“I wonder how Frodo felt about being considered a birthday present for Bilbo!” Pippin quipped.

“He probably enjoyed it,” commented Merry. “You know how much he loves Bilbo and always wanted to try to find the perfect gift for Bilbo on their birthday. I suppose all these years he’s been trying pointlessly to best the very first gift he ever gave Bilbo. Silly hobbit.”

“Well, it appears our cousin kept a lot of letters and documents that he did not tell anyone about. The silly hobbit – secretive to the last. I think this is going to take a while," said Pippin.

Merry didn't say anything. He was still staring at the letters.

"I think you're right M-Pippin," said Sam, almost stumbling into saying "Mr." "Mayhap we should just make a fresh start in the morning. Both of you are bound to be tired from travelling; we can take it up after second breakfast, maybe?" He looked at Merry, worried.

"Merry!" Pippin prodded his cousin.

"Oh, oh yes, Sam, you're quite right. A fresh start in the morning." He seemed to come out of his daze, and looked around the room. "But maybe we should take them into the study to work through. It's not very comfortable in here."

Sam replaced the items that had been removed, and locked it back up. Without being told, Pippin hoisted it up, and said "We might as well take it in there tonight. Then it will be there, ready for us tomorrow."

Sam followed Pippin. Merry hesitated briefly, and then he also followed, closing the door behind him.

*******
“May I be of any help in the kitchen, Rose?” asked Estella, jugging little Perry over her shoulder.

“No, I don’t think so, Estella, but I thank you kindly just the same. I believe I have it all in hand, so to speak,” was Rose’s reply. Just then little Frodo-lad crawled over and began to tug at her skirts. “But mayhap you can keep me company while I feed this lad.”

Estella smiled. “I could do that. I do believe my own little fellow here is beginning to get a bit hungry as well.”

In one corner of the spacious Bag End kitchen Sam had taken away the large cupboard that had stood there all through Bilbo’s and Frodo’s time, and placed there instead two rocking chairs. The two young mothers made themselves comfortable for their nursing. “You have two chairs here now,” observed Estella.

“Yes. About the last thing Mr. Frodo did before he left was buy us these rocking chairs. He told Sam they was for the kitchen, so as we could be comfortable with the little ones in here. O’ course, we only had little Elanor then, but Mr. Frodo said there’d be more. Sam, he was not certain about moving the cupboard, but that was the only way the chairs would fit in here and still leave plenty of room for cooking. At first we just put the one chair here, and kept the other in our room. But since little Frodo-lad come along, and now with another on the way, I told Sam ‘twas time to move the other one in here, too.”

“Well, it certainly makes sense! I believe I’ll tell Merry we need rocking chairs in the kitchen at Crickhollow.”

*******
After supper, Sam, Merry and Pippin went out front for a smoke, leaving Rose and Estella talking at the table. The two wives had a good deal of news to exchange. They were still talking when they heard the others coming back in a while later.

“Goodness, but it’s getting late! Here we’ve been chattering like a couple of chickens when there’s the little ones to be put to bed!” Rosie stood up abruptly. “Begging your pardon, Estella.”

“No, don’t be silly, Rose, I’m glad you noticed! It’s already past bedtime for my children. And Perry is so fussy when it comes to his bath and bedtime.”

While Rose went to round up her children, Estella went to find Merry. She found him in the study with Pippin leaning in next to Merry, speaking in a hushed voice. Her stomach tightened as she thought of the possibilities. Living all together as they did at Crickhollow, Estella had come to learn various methods of reading her husband.

One of the most reliable methods was Pippin. If Pippin’s face was tight with concern and he was speaking quietly with Merry while standing protectively over him, as he was doing now, Estella could be certain that something was amiss with Merry.

Estella carefully hid the frown that had formed on her face and entered the room.

“Excuse me, Pippin. Merry, would you please see that your daughter goes to sleep while I wash this little lad? She had her bath a little earlier.”

“Of course, dear.” Although Merry smiled brightly, Estella did not miss that his eyes were glistening. She gave a pointed glance at Pippin who nodded slightly.

“I’ll give you a hand, Estella. Perry’s getting quite used to his Uncle Pippin helping with his bath; I would not want to disappoint the lad!” he said cheerfully.

Pippin checked the water in the kettle against the skin on the underside of his wrist. Good. Warm, but not too hot. He poured it into the small basin, as Estella divested little Perry of his clothing. She lowered the baby into the bath, and took the flannel Pippin proffered her, and lathering it with soap, began to wash Perry.

"What's going on, Pippin? Why is Merry upset? Does it have something to do with the letter Sam sent?"

"You are full of questions, Cousin Estella," said Pippin, evading her searching glance.

"None of that, Peregrin Took! You tell me why you are fretting over Merry!" Perry picked up on his mother's distress, and began to whimper and fret. She lowered her voice. "Please, Pip. I do have the right to know."

He sighed. "You are right, Estella." He paused a moment, to put more warm water in the basin, pouring it gently over his little namesake, and rinsing off the soap. "The strongbox apparently contains some things that Frodo felt important to save--letters and other documents. It's going to be just--" he stopped for a moment, a catch in his own voice, "just a bit distressing to go through them." He took a deep breath, and then reached out with a towel to take up the wet baby from his mother. "At any rate, it has to be done, and it's not going to be easy. Come to Uncle Pip, Perry, and let's get you all dry."

Once Estella and Pippin had finished bathing Perry, and he was sleeping soundly, Estella went to check on little Wyn. The door was half open as Estella peeked in on her daughter. She was asleep. Merry was sitting beside her, gently stroking her soft curls and quietly humming an old tune his mother used to hum to him when he was a faunt. He looked up at Estella and smiled.

“She’s really something, the way she falls asleep so easily here at Bag End,” Merry said, still stroking little Wyn’s hair. “Frodo said that he always had to read me a story, sometimes two, before I would nod off when we used to come and visit Bilbo. Bilbo used to say that Frodo was the same way.”

Estella entered the room and closed the door softly behind her and came to stand next to Merry.

“Perhaps you and Frodo just liked to stay awake to hear the stories.” She reached over and put her arm around him.

Merry chuckled softly and shook his head. “You know me so well.”

“With Pippin living at Crickhollow with us, I’ve heard enough stories from the two of you to know how much all three of you enjoyed stories. You are always saying what an excellent story-teller Bilbo is. And Frodo. Perhaps it is a Baggins talent he inherited from birth,” she said pointedly.

Estella felt Merry tense a little as she looked at him expectantly.

“Frodo, eh? I take it Pippin told you about the letters.”

“You are not the only one who worries about family, Merry, dear.”

“I’m fine, Estella, really.”

She snorted sofly. "I believe that as much as Pippin does. We both love you more than anything.”

Merry reached around Estella with both of his arms and wrapped her in a tight embrace.

“I know you do, both of you. I am truly a lucky hobbit to be so loved. Between you, and Pippin, and the children…” He smiled down at the sleeping form of his daughter. “Frodo left a strongbox filled with old documents and letters. We saw letters from when he was born.”

Estella said nothing, choosing to let Merry tell her in his own way.

“Drogo and Primula were so excited when he was born, just like we were when we had Wyn and Perry. Even back then, Primula--before Frodo was even born, Drogo and Primula had asked Bilbo to be Frodo's guardian along with Da. Maybe she had one of those dreams like Frodo sometimes did, or maybe it was just a feeling, I don’t know.”

Merry paused and took a breath.

“I was shaken when I first read the letters and saw Drogo’s and Primula’s marriage document and Will, but I was feeling better when you found Pippin and me in the study. Pippin was concerned that it was going to be too difficult a task for me, looking through that box of old memories, and he’s right that it will be difficult. But, Estella, I must see it through. Yet when I came in here to put Wyn to bed, holding her and having her look at me with those trusting eyes, so certain that I will always be there for her--it just brought it home to me.

“What if something happens to us? I can’t bear to think of Wyn or Perry going through the pain Frodo has gone through his entire life. Seeing those documents about Frodo and his parents, when their lives held so much promise, knowing that they would be dead in a few short years and the pain Frodo would bear from that point on…”

“Nothing is going to happen to us, Merry.”

But Merry continued on as if he had not heard Estella. “Frodo is like a brother to me, just as much as Pippin is. But Frodo was my first brother, my older brother. I looked up to him for everything, even when I was older.”

“I remember,” Estella said softly. “I noticed that when you and Frodo used to come over to visit with Freddy.”

Merry looked at her and nodded. “Frodo played a special part in my life. He taught me so much and made me laugh more than anyone I knew until Pippin came along. He knew me better than anyone else, even when I was a faunt and a little lad. But I could not take away all of his pain. I failed and he left. He left me behind three times.”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I suppose deep down, I never really got over his leaving. I know he was hurting, that he had to leave Buckland and was better off here with Bilbo, but--I felt like I had lost him. I still needed him to be a part of my life. Then he went off on his own to Mordor. If only I had guessed sooner what he meant to do. Sam did.” Merry moved to wipe the tears that had started to form. "And then he had to leave again, when he should have been able to live in honor and happiness here in the Shire. I miss him still. I need him still."

“I know you do,” Estella said gently as she rubbed his back. “I see it in your eyes every day, yours and Pippin’s. But he had to leave, both times. His pain was just too much for him to stay.”

“I know that! I know we would have lost him anyway! Why couldn't Frodo stay and do his healing with his family that loves him so much? He had Mum and Da, and Grandda and Grandmum; scores of Brandybuck relatives there to help him heal. And after the Ring--Sam, Pippin, and I would have done anything for him! Why couldn’t we help him? Why did he have to leave?”

Merry reached up almost angrily to dash the tears from his eyes. His agitation conveyed itself to his sleeping daughter, who whimpered slightly in her sleep. He glanced down and her guiltily, and bit his lip.

"Come, Merry my love, let us leave, so that Wyn can sleep."

He nodded, and allowed her to take him by the hand and lead him from the room. As she did so, Pippin was coming out of his own room and halted when he saw them. Merry had his hand over his eyes as he tried to master his tears, and did not see how pale his cousin grew at the sight of him.

Pippin opened his mouth as if to speak, but only managed a weak, “Merry?” before being silenced by a shake of Estella’s head as she guided Merry into their guest room.

“I’m sorry, Estella,” Merry took a deep breath once he had regained his control. He sat in the chair in front of the dark window and stared at the stars. “I thought I had made my peace with all of this a long time ago.”

“We never get over losing someone we love, dear. Even when we know why they are taken from us.”

“He was cheated in life. First by the death of his parents and then by The Ring. As long as I have known him, there was always a part of him that was missing. A part I never knew.”

“Well then, Merry, maybe you will find that missing part of Frodo in that strongbox of his.”

Merry looked up sharply at Estella in confusion.

“Maybe you will find your answers there so you can be at peace.”

“I hope so, Estella. I really hope so. I just want him to be happy.”

“I know you do, dearest. We all do.”

Estella embraced Merry tenderly and allowed him to cling to her for support. After a few minutes, Merry moved out of her embrace.

“I think I ought to go speak with Pippin now. I could feel him there in the hallway. He'll be awake half the night worrying over me if I don't ease his mind.”

She smiled at him and nodded. "I'll be waiting for you."

End Notes:

Here is the full text of Drogo's and Primula's Wedding Contract, Drogo's and Primula's Will, and the full text of Drogo's letter to Bilbo telling of the couple expecting a child. All these documents were mostly Gryffinjack's work, and the illuminated Wedding Document was calligraphed, gilded and painted by Dreamflower.

FULL TEXT OF DROGO'S AND PRIMULA'S WEDDING DOCUMENT:

A marriage is like a summer flower garden, blooming with daisies and asters, lilies, foxgloves and more. Butterflies and bees flit among the blossoms, and ladybugs climb the leaves.
On the first day of the month of Forelithe in the year of Shire Reckoning 1354

PRIMULA BRANDYBUCK
and
DROGO BAGGINS


Surrounded by family and friends agree to enter into this mutual covenant of wedlock as partners and companions in life and love and so make the following vows:

We promise to love and honour one another; to support and comfort one another in joy and sorrow, riches and poverty, from this day forward. We pledge ourselves as friends and partners in marriage, to trust, appreciate, cherish and respect each other, to share hopes, thoughts, and dreams as we build our lives together.

We shall establish a home that is compassionate to all wherein the flow of the seasons and the passages of life, as witnessed by our mutual traditions, are honoured. May our home be filled with peace, happiness, and love as we build upon the hearth of truth, kindness, wisdom and reverence. May our home be shared by our family traditions and committed to the pursuit of learning, caring for friends and family, and nurturing of the Shire.

We vow to join our two separate families into one family, united by our marriage. We shall now each of us be considered equally a part of one other’s family as the family to which we were born. We promise to love, honour and care for each other’s family as much as the family to which we were born.

Our hearts are united forever; May we grow through our lives ever entwined, our love bringing us closer together

When we are parted at the end of our days, the one who is left shall retain the rights to all property, real or personal, and any and all inheritances with which we each of us entered into this marriage.

We joyfully enter into this covenant and solemnly accept its obligations.

In witness whereof, with love and devotion, We, Primula Brandybuck and Drogo Baggins, hereunto set our hands to seal this moment and sign and publish this covenant this first day of Forelithe S.R. 1354.

Drogo Baggins Primula Brandybuck

This instrument was signed, sealed and declared by Primula Brandybuck and Drogo Baggins, the Bride and Groom above named for their Wedding Contract in the presence of us who in their presence and at their request and in the presence of each other have hereupon inscribed our names as Witnesses. Furthermore, we Primula Brandybuck and Drogo Baggins and the Witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument do hereby declare to the undersigned official that the Bride and Groom signed the instrument as their Wedding Contract and that they signed voluntarily of their own free will and that each of the Witnesses in the presence of the Bride and Groom at their request and in the presence of each other signed the Wedding Contract as a Witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each Witness the Bride and Groom were at that time thirty-three years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

WITNESSES:
Rorimac Brandybuck Saradas Brandybuck Adalgrim Took

Bilbo Baggins Fosco Baggins Rufus Burrows Fredegund Bolger

Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Primula Brandybuck and Drogo Baggins, the Bride and Groom and subscribed and sworn to by the
above Witnesses on the first day of Forelithe, S.R. 1354.


Gorbadoc Brandybuck,(SEAL OF THE BRANDYBUCKS)
Master of Buckland

FULL TEXT OF DROGO'S LETTER, TELLING BILBO THAT HE AND PRIMULA ARE EXPECTING:

20 Thrimidge S.R. 1368
Brandy Hall

Dear Bilbo,

Primula and I have the most wonderful news to tell you – we are expecting a child early this fall--possibly around the time of your birthday! We would have told you sooner, but we wanted to wait until the period of greatest risk was over before we told anyone. The healer seems to think that things are going well, and that there is every chance that this time our child will be born well and healthy.

As you can imagine, especially since we had not told anyone else our good news, Primula and I have been discussing everything imaginable about the baby – from what to name it to who it will resemble to what our child’s future will be like.

The more we talked about our child’s future, the more we realised that perhaps we should begin to make provisions for our child's future, in the event something should happen to one or both of us. To put it bluntly, we are contemplating our Will. Of course, if something should happen to only one of us, the other will be there to care for our child. But Primula has become adamant for some reason that we make provision in the unlikely event that something happens to both of us. I think perhaps this may be due to some disturbing dreams she has had recently.

We have thought this over very carefully and would like to know how you would feel about being named one of our child's guardians? You are, after all the head of the family, although I think that we shall also ask one of the Brandybucks to share the responsibility. But as Head of the Bagginses as well as one of my dearest relatives, I think the primary responsibility should come to you. I cannot ask Dudo; his health, as you know, would make it difficult for him to take on another child. Young Daisy is nearly eighteen, and will soon be entering her tweens.

I do not ask you to give me an answer now. When the child is born will be soon enough. However, I would like you to think it over in the next four months, so that you will be able to let us know then. We both are confident that old bachelor though you are, you would make a wonderful guardian.

In other news, things are going well here in Buckland. Gilda is trying to persuade Rory to hold a celebration for his fifth year as Master; she loves an excuse for a party as you know and Primula is doing her best at wheedling her brother to agree. He is not keen on the idea, but I do not think he can hold out long against their combined wiles. Young Saradoc approaches his twenty-eighth year in terror of the lasses pursuing him, but he has caught the eye of the redoubtable Esmeralda Took, here with her older sisters to visit Prim, and I do not think the other lasses will hold out long. She's almost of age, and he's still five years to go, but I doubt that will make any difference to her. She is uncommonly patient for a Took. And Merimac is spending a month mucking out the stables. Seems he thought it would be funny to replace the leaf in his Uncle Saradas' pouch with an assortment of dead grasses. Rory would probably have thought it amusing if Saradas had not been sharing his pipe-weed with him at the time.

I look forward to seeing you at the Great Smials during Lithe. Cousin Fortinbras assures me he has some fine vintage from the Southfarthing laid down for the occasion.

Affectionately yours,

your cousin,

Drogo"

____________________________________

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF DROGO BAGGINS and PRIMULA BAGGINS


Be it remembered that I, Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of my wife, Primula Baggins, as residents of Buckland, located across the Brandywine River from the Shire, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and mindful of the uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, publish and declare this document as our Last Will and Testament, and hereby revoke all former wills and testaments or writings and codicils thereto, by us made.

ARTICLE I. Funeral Expense. It is our desire that all of our funeral expenses be paid out of the assets of our estates as soon as practicable after each of our deaths, and we order and direct that any members of our family who have disbursed their personal funds for the payment of either of our funeral expenses be reimbursed promptly by our Executor.

ARTICLE II. Personal Effects. We hereby give and bequeath all of our personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of to each other. Upon both of our deaths, all of our personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally amongst all of our then surviving children. In the event that all of our children shall predecease both of us, then and in that event, then upon the death of the second of us to die, all of our personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, mathoms, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed to the heads of our respective families depending upon whichever of our families, Baggins and/or Brandybuck, gave said personal effects to us.

ARTICLE III. Disposition of Residuary.

A. Upon the death of either of us, Drogo Baggins or Primula Baggins, all of the rest, residue, and residuary of his or her estate, herein referred to as his or her Residuary Estate, be it real property, personal property or mixed, wherever situated, of which he or she may die seized or possessed, or to which he or she may be or become in any way entitled or have any interest, shall be distributed to the remaining spouse, Drogo Baggins or Primula Baggins.

B. Upon the death of the second of us to die, then and in that event, our Residuary Estates shall be distributed equally amongst all of our then surviving children.

C. In the event that all of our children shall predecease both of us, then and in that event, then upon the death of the second of us to die, our Residuary Estates shall be distributed to the heads of our respective families, depending upon whichever of our families, Baggins and Brandybuck, said assets were derived. Any and all remaining assets shall be distributed equally between the heads of our families, Baggins and Brandybuck.

ARTICLE IV. Payment to Minors and Incompetents. Except as provided for in Article III, if, pursuant to the terms of this, our Last Will and Testament, any portion of our estate becomes payable to any beneficiary during such beneficiary’s minority, or to any beneficiary who shall have been determined to be incompetent, our Executor, in his sole discretion, shall be authorised to distribute said portion of the estate to a parent or guardian of the beneficiary, or to the person with whom such beneficiary resides, without obligation by the Executor to look to the proper application or use of any payment so made; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may make distributions in such manner as he believes will best benefit the beneficiary, and also may pay to the beneficiary directly such sums as the Executor shall approve as an allowance; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may accumulate and hold all or a portion of the assets which otherwise would be distributed to the beneficiary, and distribute said assets to the beneficiary when he or she attains the age of thirty-three (33) years, or upon removal of the incapacity. However, if said beneficiary dies before the age of thirty-three (33) years, or prior to the removal of the incapacity, and no other provision is made in this Will for the passing of such beneficiary’s interest to others, then our Executor shall distribute any accumulated corpus and income to the estate of the beneficiary.

ARTICLE V. Powers of Executor. In the administration of our estate pursuant to the terms of this, our Last Will and Testament, the Executor shall have the following powers, which may be exercised in whole or in part, and which shall be deemed to be supplementary to and not exclusive of the general powers of executors pursuant to the laws of the Shire, and shall include all powers necessary to put the same into effect. Such powers may be exercised independently and without the prior or subsequent approval of any authority, and nobody dealing with the Executor shall be required to inquire into the propriety of any of his actions.

A. To retain, in his absolute discretion, and for such period as he shall deem advisable, any and all investments and other properties held by us at the time of our deaths without liability for any loss incurred by reason of the retention of such investments or properties.

B. To sell, mortgage, pledge, and otherwise dispose of the assets of our estate and of the interests established pursuant to this Will, or any part of said assets, when he deems such action necessary and proper for the purpose of complying with our testamentary desires as herein expressed, and for the purpose of conserving, preserving and maintaining our estate.

C. With respect to any indebtedness held by either of us at the time of our deaths, to enter into agreements for the alteration of our interest therein, or of the rights and obligations under any contract with respect thereto, in effect at the time of our deaths.

D. To take any action deemed advisable to enforce, compromise or arbitrate any obligation, lien or other claim held by them, and to agree to any rescission or modification of any contract or agreement.

E. To hold undivided interests in any other properties held by us or that may form part of our estate at the time of our deaths, or that may be purchased or acquired thereafter on behalf of our estate without being required to make a physical division of any properties which may form a part of our estate at the time of our deaths.

F. In the event that at the time of either of our deaths either one of us is a member of any partnership, joint venture, or undertaking, whether alone or jointly with one (1) or more persons, we hereby authorise and empower the Executor to carry out and perform the terms of such partnership or joint venture, including furnishing additional assets as may be necessary or desirable in the sole discretion of our Executor, it being our intention that the Executor shall have full power to cooperate with our surviving partner or partners, joint venturers or other persons in such manner as shall be deemed advisable by the Executor, in order that the continuation, development and intention of such partnerships, ventures, or undertakings shall not be prevented or interfered with by virtue of the continued interest therein of our estate.

G. To loan or borrow money to or for such businesses or business interests which either of us may own at the time of our deaths.

H. To lease any real estate for such term, or terms, and upon such conditions and in such manner as he may deem advisable, and any lease so made shall be valid and binding for the full term thereof. To make repairs, replacements and improvements, structural or otherwise, to any such real estate; to insure against fire or other risks as he may deem proper. To subdivide real estate, to dedicate same to public use, and to grant easements as he may deem proper.

I. Whenever required or permitted to divide and distribute any funds under this Will, to make such distributions in money or in kind, or partly in money and partly in kind, and to exercise all powers herein conferred until our estate has been fully distributed.

J. To employ accountants, attorneys, and such agents as he may deem advisable; to pay reasonable compensation for their services.

K. To determine which assets or portion thereof shall be distributed to or for the benefit of each beneficiary of our estate in satisfaction of the share which he or she is entitled to receive under this, our Last Will and Testament. The selection and distribution of assets by the Executor shall be binding and conclusive upon all persons and shall not be subject to question by any beneficiary.

ARTICLE VI. Appointment of Executor.

A. In the event that Primula Baggins shall predecease Drogo Baggins, then Drogo Baggins is hereby appointed as her Executor under this Last Will and Testament.

B. In the event Drogo Baggins shall predecease Primula Baggins, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), or upon the death of Drogo Baggins, then and in such event, Bilbo Baggins shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on our Executor.

C. In the event Bilbo Baggins shall predecease both of us, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, Saradoc Brandybuck shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on our Executor.

ARTICLE VII. Appointment of Guardian.

A. In the event that one of us shall die, then and in that event, we hereby nominate, constitute and appoint our surviving spouse, Drogo Baggins or Primula Baggins, guardian of the our children and their property. We hereby authorize the Guardian to exercise all of the rights, powers and privileges, whether or not discretionary, as are herein conferred upon the Executor of our estate.

B. Upon the death of both of us or in the event the surviving spouse is unable to serve as Guardian, then and in that event, Bilbo Baggins and Saradoc Brandybuck shall serve as Successor Guardians of our children and their property, under this Will.

C. In the event that either Bilbo Baggins or Saradoc Brandybuck shall predecease us or is otherwise unable to serve as Guardians, then and in that event, our remaining Guardian, Bilbo Baggins or Saradoc Brandybuck, shall continue to serve alone as Successor Guardian of our children and their property, under this Will.

ARTICLE VIII. Construction of Will. Wherever the context of any provision of this Will permits, any word in either number shall be construed to mean both singular and plural; any word in the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter; any word in the feminine gender shall include the masculine and neuter;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of my wife, Primula Baggins, have signed and published this Will this eighth day of Winterfilth, S.R. 1368.



Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of Primula Baggins

WITNESSES:

Rorimac Brandybuck Dodinas Brandybuck Gorbulas Brandybuck

Saradas Brandybuck Adalgrim Took Rufus Burrows Paladin Took



This instrument was signed, sealed, published and declared by Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of his wife, Primula Baggins, the Testators above named, as and for their Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereupon subscribed our names as witnesses, this clause first having been read to us and we now intending to certify that the matters herein specified took place in fact and in the order named. Furthermore, we, the Testator, Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of his wife, Primula Baggins, and the witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, do hereby declare to the undersigned officer that the Testator signed the instrument as the Last Will and Testament of Drogo Baggins and Primula Baggins and that he signed voluntarily and that each of the witnesses in the presence of the Testator, at his request, and in the presence of each other, signed the Will as a witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each witness the Testator was at that time thirty-three years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Drogo Baggins, individually and on behalf of his wife, Primula Baggins, the Testators, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the eighth day of Winterfilth, S.R. 1368.

Heribert Grubb, Attorney (SEAL)

Here is a closer look at the signatures on the marriage contract, and the seal of the Master of Buckland:
...

And a closer look at the introduction to the contract:
...

Back to index

Unlocking the Past by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

The illustration of the recipe box is by Gryffinjack.
The illustration of Frodo's Adoption Certificate is by Dreamflower

There are several references to previous stories of Dreamflower in this chapter:
Merry's visit the spring Frodo was adopted was described in:

"A Place for Gandalf " 
And more of Merry's and Pippin's childhood letters to Bag End may be seen in:

"Marching Orders"  
"Dear Frodo" 
"What I Did Last Summer"

The Author's Notes are very much a part of the story, and we hope you will check them out.

Included in this chapter notes:
The recipes for Bilbo's Honeycakes and for Bilbo's Cinnamon Whirls
The full text of Frodo's Adoption Certificate
Close-ups of the calligraphed copy of Frodo's Adoption Certificate
The full text of the Renunciation signed by Bilbo
The full text of Bilbo's Last Will and Testament

 




CHAPTER TWO – UNLOCKING THE PAST

After first breakfast the following morning, which was rather a production with four children to feed, Estella and Rose decided to take the little ones down the Row for a visit. Daisy and her husband had moved into Number Three after Tom and Marigold had finally persuaded the Gaffer to come live with them in their cottage on the Cotton farm in Bywater. Daisy had married young, to Finch Noakes, a carpenter, and her oldest daughter was in her tweens now. She had two other daughters in their teens, and a young son, only a couple of years older than Elanor.

After seeing the wives and children off, Sam, Merry and Pippin closed the door and looked at one another. It was time to tackle the task of going through the strongbox, but after their brief glimpse yesterday, they found themselves reluctant to look at the contents in detail.

There was a moment of awkward silence, and then Pippin said "Well, let's get to it, then. We can't put it off any longer."

Sam nodded. "'It's the job as is never started as takes longest to finish' as the Gaffer always says." But he didn't make any move toward the study door.

Merry shifted uneasily. "Perhaps we should have a bit of second breakfast first..." his voice trailed off at the look on Pippin's face.

"Merry, that's not like you," his cousin said reproachfully.

Throwing his head back, Merry replied, "Yes. Well. Then let's get to it now," and he started for the study, the other two trailing behind him. Pippin looked determined. Sam looked anxious.

Merry sat upon the settee with Sam on a chair across from him. Pippin shoved the strongbox between them, and then, perching at the edge of the settee next to Merry, he turned the key and threw back the lid.

Merry drew out the large framed Marriage Document, and handed it to Sam, who with careful reverence stood it next to his chair. Then they looked at the remaining contents of the box: there was a pouch of red cloth, closed with a drawstring, and obviously holding a number of interesting objects; there was a smaller box of plain dark wood, not more than a hand span in width; and there was a soft bundle which seemed to be tied within a cream coloured wool blanket. Pippin looked at these curiously, but Merry shook his head. "Let's deal with the papers first," he said.

Frodo had apparently taken much care with the contents. There were two bundles of papers which seemed to be legal documents, tied together carefully with red cord. And then there were bundles of letters. Most of them seemed to be tied with either blue or green ribbon, a couple of bundles were tied with red ribbon, and then a few more tied with white ribbon.

Merry's hand went in, and hovered over the legal documents, but then he reached for a bundle of the letters tied with blue ribbon.

Pippin looked at the expression on Merry’s face as he untied the ribbon around the first bundle of letters and then opened one. It reminded Pippin of the look he had seen on his cousin’s face the day Frodo had first awakened in Ithilien: a combination of profound pain and deepest joy. Merry gave an audible gulp, and then read one. He bit his lip, and with his hand shaking, he passed it to Pippin.

Pippin glanced down at a handwriting that was childish and round, on a page marred with tiny black fingerprints, and with the old and yellowing blots of tearstains. He felt tears sting his own eyes, as he glanced down at the evidence of life before he himself had ever existed:

“Dear Frodo,
Your room is very emtey empty. It makes loud noises now when I am in there. Mum says we must find some things to put in there for when you visit.

I wish you could come home. But Da says you are home now at Bag End.
I hate Cousin Bilbo. No. I’m sorry. I don’t really. Don’t be mad. I miss you.

Love,

Cousin Merry”


Pippin bit his own lip, and glanced at Merry, who was reading it over his shoulder with a wry smile, and tears filling his eyes.

“The spring of the year Bilbo adopted Frodo,” said Merry. “I was here, you see, when it took place, and Mum, Da and I stayed on to visit for a few days. It wasn’t until I got back home to Brandy Hall and had to face Frodo’s empty room that it really struck me. Up until then, I had rather clung to the hope that he would be back.”

Pippin reached over, took the rest of the bundle, and began to thumb through it. Then he looked inside the box. There were several more bundles, some tied with blue ribbon, others with green. Merry picked up one of the bundles tied with green ribbon, and held it out to Pippin. “Recognise the handwriting on these?”

Pippin’s jaw dropped as he looked at the spiky ill-formed letters on top of the first letter of the first bundle, and then at the still spiky, but more legible hand on top of another bundle. There were not nearly so many green-tied bundles as blue. “Those are my letters! Merry--he must have kept every single letter we ever sent to him.”

Sam had been watching them in silent sympathy.  "Do you see now why I thought the things in this box had ought to go to blood kin?"  He blushed.  He felt as though he had been eavesdropping on family business, and heard more than he should have.  "I'll leave you to it, then," he said.

Merry looked up sharply, and shook his head.  "No, please stay, Sam.  You may not be 'blood kin', but you are family all the same."

"Yes," put in Pippin. "These things concern you as well. And--well, I rather think Frodo would have liked you to be here when we do this." He gave Sam a wistful smile.

"Well, if you really think so--". Sam's reluctance had faded at the cousins’ earnest appeal. And Merry's statement that he was "family"--well, perhaps it was not proper, but it gave Sam a warm feeling all the same.

“Here’s some from your mum and da,” said Pippin. He handed them to Merry. “And--oh goodness! Merry, here’s one from you to Bilbo!” Pippin laughed. “Whatever did you have to say to him at so young an age--it says on the envelope ‘FRODO! DO NOT OPEN!!!’ What in the world did you have to say to Bilbo that you couldn’t to Frodo?”

Merry looked briefly puzzled, and then alarmed, as Pippin took it from its envelope. He started to snatch it away, but Pippin held it out of his reach.

“ ‘Dear Cousin Bilbo,

Since you get to have Frodo now you had better take good care of him…’ ”


“My word, Merry! You were just as bossy then as you are now!”

“Pippin!” Merry’s face flamed.

Sam put a hand to his mouth to hide his grin.

As Pippin kept reading, laughing at Merry’s childish spelling errors, Merry put a hand over his face to hide his embarrassment.

“ ‘If this is too much trubblel trouble for you then you can give him back to me.’ Nice try, Merry! Did you really think it would work?”

Merry shook his head, and then finally smiled. “Well, I suppose I hoped it would. I’m afraid that however fond of Bilbo I was, I was also rather jealous of him for a while.” He looked rather wistful as he said that, and Pippin felt remorseful for his teasing.

“Poor old Merry,” he said, “it must have been very hard for you to lose Frodo like that, when he’d been living with you all along. However lonesome I got for you when we were apart, I always knew you lived in Buckland and I lived in Tookland--it wasn’t quite the same, was it?”

“No, I suppose not. But I soon learnt how much happier he was here. And I began to trust Bilbo to take care of him.” He looked up at Sam. “And I knew you were taking care of him, too, even then. I knew I could trust you to take care of him.”

Sam’s eyes widened. “Did you really, Merry?” he asked softly. That was an awful nice thing for Merry to say. Sam knew very well how hard it was for Merry to trust Frodo to anyone else.

“Of course I did. After all, we both knew Frodo was the most splendid hobbit in the Shire.”

Sam grinned, remembering his first conversation with Merry, playing in the garden at Bag End, and finding out what they had in common. Friendship had come easy in those days, when they’d both been far too young to pay attention to things like the differences between gentry and working hobbits.

Suddenly Merry’s hand snaked out and snagged a letter. “Pip! Here’s one you wrote to Bilbo!

‘Dear Cousin Bilbo

Mother says rite you and say I am sory. Look in my rum. I dident meen to but she says I better tell you to shut the windo and get the bread and jam out from under the bed.

I love you hug Frodo and Merry for me.

Your cousin Pippin’


"Oh!” Merry howled with laughter. “I remember when this letter came!”

Sam began to laugh as well. “So do I! Bilbo sent for my mother to help him with getting the ants out of the room! What a mess!”

Pippin smirked, though his face was quite as red as Merry’s had been. He gave a lop-sided grin. “I remembered that, though. I didn't have to apologise to Lotho and Lobelia--and I did mean to do it that time!”

“What are you talking about, you daft Took?” asked Merry, wiping tears of laughter from the corner of one eye.

“Why, just that it gave me the idea to leave the S.-Bs a little hole-warming gift when they moved into Bag End. I left a dish of honey under the bed in Gandalf’s room, after propping the window open. I do believe I even left a jar of ants in there to get things started!”

Sam’s jaw dropped. “Mr. Pippin!” he exclaimed, forgetting in his surprise to leave the honorific off.

“Yes, I’m quite proud to say I did that just before we left to go to Crickhollow. I just wish I could have seen Lobelia’s face when she found out!”

Merry plucked out another envelope, a bit larger than the others, and addressed in a spidery old-fashioned hand, with the characteristic Buckland "y"s. "Here's one from Uncle Dinny. I'd recognize his handwriting anywhere. Do you suppose he was setting Frodo lessons?" Merry smirked.

Curious, he opened it, and drew out the documents. There were two--one, a small note on a bit of nice linen stationary, and the other, in an entirely different hand, though equally familiar, written on old-fashioned classroom foolscap. Merry angled the paper so that Pippin could not see. Pippin who was still chuckling a bit over the memory of putting one over on the Sackville-Bagginses, did not notice.

"3 Winterfilth, S.R. 1405
Brandy Hall
Buckland

My Dear Frodo,

I was most amused by this essay, a first attempt by my newest pupil. I thought that you would appreciate seeing it, and that it would not only amuse you, but warm your heart as well.

Fond regards,

Your old tutor,

Uncle Dinny"


Merry glanced slyly at Pippin, and then began to read from the other page--

"I have a lot of family. I have my father and mother and three sisters. My father is Paladin Took, and my mother is Eglantine Took, who used to be a Banks before she married my father. My sisters are Pearl, Pimpernel and Pervinca. We call Pimpernel ‘Pimmie’ and Pervinca we call ‘Vinca’, but we just call Pearl ‘Pearl’.”

"Oi!" Pippin cried sharply, trying to snatch at the paper. Merry held it back out of his way, grinning. Pippin tried to reach for it.

Just then the clock on the mantelpiece struck nine. "Lawks!" exclaimed Merry. “It’s time for second breakfast already!" He gave a reluctant look at the box, for now that they'd finally started, he did not really want to stop yet.

"Why don't I fetch us a little something in here, then?" asked Sam, starting to rise.

"No," added Pippin. "You stay put, Sam. I'll go fetch it!" Pippin was worried that Sam would not stay with them if he began to act the host. Sam would probably try to make an elaborate meal, and then insist on cleaning up after. And Pippin did not want to go on without Sam, now they'd made a good beginning. "I'm sure I can find something in your larder that will do--no need for cooking." Without waiting for Sam's agreement, he got up with alacrity, and headed for the kitchen. Behind him, he heard Merry chuckle and say "You'll have to move faster than that, Sam, if you want to keep Pippin out of a larder..."

Pippin needn't have worried. Apparently, Rose and Estella had anticipated things. On the table was a tray, covered with a tea towel. He lifted the cloth and found bread, cheese, fruit, and cold sliced ham, along with three plates. All he needed to do was put the kettle on and make the tea, which he did, whistling cheerily. He poured the hot water from the kettle into the teapot and made the tea. Then he added the teapot and teacups to the tray, and carried it back to the study. As he approached, he heard Merry and Sam laughing heartily, and he wondered what they had found while he was off in the kitchen.

He brought the tray in, and set it on a small table next to Sam's chair. "Whatever is so funny?" he asked.

Merry snorted and wiped his eyes, still chuckling. "Oh, just the letters a certain twenty year old cousin of mine wrote the year he was confined at home for the summer!"

Pippin's face flamed. "Gracious! Why would he save those? That's something I'd rather forget myself, actually!"

Sam, who was grinning, said "Mr. Frodo told me all about what happened! You gave them all such a fright. But those letters are a caution, I must say!"

Merry began to read:

“Dear Merry and Frodo,
I certainly didn’t mean to get into any more trouble than I am already, and I really didn’t mean to make Pimmie and Vinca so mad at me. But it was funny to see them jump when the crickets came out of the sugar bowl.
I’m back in my room for the next two days.
Love,
Your cousin,
Pippin”


"That's hardly fair!" said Pippin. But his lips were twitching with the ghost of a smile. "But, come to think of it, it was funny to see them jump! And Vinca let out with a word that Mother was not at all happy to hear!" He smirked now.

"What about this one, Merry?" said Sam.

“Dear Merry and Frodo,
Frodo, don’t be too mad at Merry for that trick he played on you. I’m sure the molasses will come out of your shirt, and it’s not like you don’t have plenty of shirts anyway. I wish I’d seen your face though.
And Merry, it’s not fair to be having that kind of fun without me.”


Now Merry smirked. "As Pippin said, he had plenty of shirts. And being cross with me made him forget all about that rather disastrous meeting with Lotho and Lobelia earlier in the day."

Sam picked up one of the letters and grinned after he read it. “I remember when this one came!

“Dear Merry,
Don’t show this one to Frodo. Do you know what he’s got me for his birthday? Don’t tell me you haven’t snooped. I know you have.
And don’t tell Frodo, but I am learning a special song to play for him at his party.
Love,
Your cousin,
Pippin”


Merry let out a snort of laughter. “Yes, that was a fine position you put me in, Pip. Frodo had the mail from the posthobbit and had seen your spiky excuse for handwriting on the envelope. I couldn’t stuff it into my pocket quick enough after I read it.”

Sam chuckled and shook his head at the memory. “That’s just how it was. I was bringing in a basket of strawberries for luncheon when I met Mr. Frodo coming up the walkway with the post. He allowed as how there was a letter in there for Merry from you, Pippin. I don’t know which was redder, Merry’s face after he hid your letter or them strawberries. But Mr. Frodo, he just gave one of them little knowing smiles of his and turned and went into the study with the rest of the post.”

“I’m sorry, Merry. I never meant to make things difficult for you,” said Pippin, stuffing down a chuckle of his own. “Well, I suppose that summer wasn’t all bad. I did learn to play the lap harp and the Tookland pipes after all.”

“I was just glad Frodo got Uncle Paladin to let me say ‘goodbye’ to you and that you learnt your lesson,” said Merry. “Why you would have ever listened to those Banks cousins of yours is still beyond me.”

There was an awkward silence between the cousins as Pippin’s face coloured as he looked down as he remembered that long ago incident.

Reading Pippin’s embarrassment and hoping to end the discussion, Sam said, “Seeing as how Mr. Freddy and the others escorted them villains out of the Shire and took them to see Strider, I reckon Pippin don’t have to worry about them cousins of his no more.”

Merry nodded. “You’re right, Sam,” and put a comforting arm around Pippin, who turned toward him and smiled briefly before picking up a few of the letters in a different stack and looking at the different handwritings on some of the those letters.

“Do you suppose some of these other folk would like their letters back? It might make a nice memento. Especially knowing Frodo had cared enough about them to keep their correspondence?” Merry flipped through several more letters. “Here are some from Freddy and a few from some of your sisters, Pippin, and--” his voice faltered briefly, “--a couple from Folco. Maybe Folco’s parents or Freddy would like those.”

There was a brief silence, and Pippin blinked and Sam shook his head sadly, as they remembered their friend, so cruelly murdered by ruffians during the Troubles. “Yes, I know they would.”

The three hobbits spent a few minutes quietly sorting through some of the correspondence from others, pausing only briefly to organise them into piles from various people. In addition to letters from Freddy Bolger and Folco Boffin, there were a few from Pippin's sisters and some of Frodo's other cousins. There was quite a stack apparently from Merry's parents, and Merry put them to one side. He wanted to look at those.

They were thoroughly absorbed in their task, and so were given quite a start when they heard the front door bang open, and the patter of running feet. Rose's voice was remonstrating--"Elanor Gamgee! You come right back out here and go through that door properly, little Miss!" And then there was Estella's warm chuckle as she said "Rose, I see what I have to look forward to as soon as mine learn how to run."

Sam stood up. "It's time for elevenses, I'm thinking. Mayhap we could all use a break?"

Pippin nodded, carefully putting aside the stack of letters he had been going through, and glancing at the tray from which they had all been nibbling. It was quite empty. "I'm getting a bit peckish again, so I daresay you're right, Sam."

Merry agreed to this. The last of the tea in his cup had gone quite cold. "I think elevenses is a splendid idea! And, Sam, our wives are going to want to feed us and then fill us in on all their doings this morning!"

Sam piled the cups back on the tray, and picking it up, followed Merry and Pippin out of the study and into the kitchen.

Little Perry and Frodo-lad were lying companionably on a blanket on the opposite side of the kitchen from the hearth, and little Elanor was ensconced with Wyn in one of the rocking chairs, attempting to tell the squirming baby a story. Rose and Estella had donned aprons and were bustling about the kitchen. Sam went up behind Rose and embraced her, while Merry claimed a brief kiss from Estella. Pippin watched them, chuckling, and then turned his attention to Elanor and Wyn.

It seemed like no time at all before the Gamgees, Brandybucks, and Pippin were all seated around the kitchen table enjoying a meal of fried apples and onions, three bean salad, a jar of pickles from Daisy, and Pincup sharp cheese with brown bread, with yesterday’s shortbread for dessert. As usual for hobbits, all discussion was limited to the delicious food before them, comments such as the virtues of the Pincup sharp cheese versus the Buckland Blue of which Merry was so fond. By the time Sam had returned with a pitcher of ale, Pippin was rolling the cheese into little balls before popping it into his mouth, as was his custom for filling up the corners.

“Daisy mentioned as how last time she saw Tom and Marigold, they said that the Gaffer had insisted on planting all the flowers in the flowerboxes, Sam. Bluebells, daisies, and marigolds, to be sure, but also some thistle and forget-me-nots,” Rose said while she poured fresh cups of tea for Estella and herself.

Sam turned from the kitchen counter where he was standing and looked his wife in surprise. “Planting the flowerboxes? Well if that don’t beat all! I don’t recollect him mentioning it to us last time Tom and Marigold brought him over for a visit. At his age and he still wants to be useful instead of letting others do for him.”

“That’s your Gaffer, Sam!” exclaimed Merry, thumping his glass of ale down on the table. “He never was one to sit idle.”

“Idle hands makes an idle heart,” quoted Sam as he reached over to the sideboard and pulled out a small, rectangular, wooden box that had been painted yellow.

“Is that what I think it is?” asked Pippin, rising in excitement from his chair and going to get a closer look at the old box. Even though the yellow paint was old and chipped, a large letter “B” in blue paint could still clearly be seen on the front of the box, and there was a painting of a smial on the top--it could easily have been Bag End.

Merry had also now joined his cousin, who was opening the lid and looking inside with a peculiar smile of recognition on his face.

“Aye. It’s Mr. Bilbo’s old receipt box, all right,” said Sam with a nervous smile. “I found it here on the sideboard, just there where I got it from, when I got back after Mr. Frodo … left. I hope it’s all right that I kept it!” Sam added quickly. “Samwise, you ninnyhammer! What would your old Gaffer say! I know as how I should have said something or given it to one of you, seeing as you are kin and I ain’t, but, well …”

“No, Sam. You were right to keep it here. It is part of Bag End,” Merry interrupted before Sam could continue berating himself.

 
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Pippin nodded and placed a gentle hand on Sam’s shoulder to reassure him. “Frodo would have wanted it that way. He wanted you to be Master of Bag End, and you can’t rightly be Master of Bag End unless you can serve Bag End food to your guests!” His eyes twinkled brightly as his face broke into a large grin.

“That’s right, cousin,” added Merry. “And the only way to cook Bag End food is to have Bag End receipts. So you see, Sam, you really must keep Bilbo’s receipt box.”

“Just remember that since our great-grandmother was a Baggins, Merry and I have a right to any receipt in that box that we want. Right, Merry?” Pippin said cheekily.

“Of course. Thank goodness for Great-Grandmum Rosa!” Merry chimed in.

Sam felt very much relieved and broke into a large grin of his own. “Any time, Mr. Merry. Mr. Pippin.” Merry and Pippin gave him a swift look of reproach, but smiled again when they saw the gleam of mischief in Sam’s eyes. “I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I reckon you’re right. Bag End just wouldn’t be the same, would it?”

“It certainly would not,” replied Merry. He reached into the box and pulled a receipt out at random and looked at it. “Cinnamon whirls! Mmm! Estella, make sure we copy this down. I haven’t had cinnamon whirls since Bilbo left! He made some for me that day Lotho knocked me to the ground and Frodo bloodied his nose for him. Ah, those cinnamon whirls were grand!”

“Forget about the cinnamon whirls, look! Bilbo’s receipt for stuffed mushrooms!” exclaimed Pippin, who was suddenly hungry again. “And here’s one for the noodles and cheese Frodo used to make! He even made it for me when I was sick to try to get me to eat.”

“I heard Mr. Bilbo once tell Mr. Frodo that that there receipt was one that Mr. Bungo used to make when Bilbo was a lad,” Sam volunteered.

“What are you going to make, Sam?” asked Pippin, the receipt for taffy apples poised in his hand.

“I was fixing to make some of Mr. Bilbo’s honeycakes. I reckoned they’d be a right treat to have with afternoon tea, especially after going through more of that strongbox of Mr. Frodo’s.”

“That’s a fine idea, Sam!” exclaimed Rose. The three hobbits turned to look at her. They had been so busy with the discovery of Bilbo’s old receipt box that they had forgotten all about Rose and Estella. “You make the honeycakes while Estella and me put the younglings down for a kip.”

While Rose and Estella took care of the four children, Sam, Merry, and Pippin prepared the honeycakes. Sam soon was sorry he had given into Pippin’s pleas to allow them to help with Bilbo’s receipt. It was not long before the entire floor of the kitchen as well as the counters, and table were covered in flour. And to make matters worse, not only had Merry and Pippin managed to cover themselves in flour, too, but they had also got some on Sam, including in his hair, despite his best efforts to avoid the flour as the two cousins acted as if they were teens again.

Still, they quickly had the lovely honeycakes set out to rise, and went to work on the kitchen. By the time they were finished, it was as clean as a whistle, beneath the amused looks of Rose and Estella. Cleaning themselves took a few moments longer, as they had to stick their heads under the pump, to emerge with wet and glistening curls.

“Now,” said Rose, as she laughingly towelled Sam’s head, “you lot shoo right on back to the study. We’ll see to putting the honeycakes in the oven when they’re ready.”

“Indeed,” said Estella, who paused in rubbing Merry’s head, to toss a dry towel at Pippin as he emerged from the water spluttering. “Rose, you’ve no idea of the mess they make at home whenever it’s their turn to cook.”

Merry gave her a buss on the cheek. “I don’t hear you complaining, my heart, when it’s time to eat!”

“Yes, Estella! And you have to admit, we always clean up!” Pippin added indignantly.

“So you do, Pip! But you’ve other tasks to see to now. So off with the three of you, and leave the rest of the kitchen to us lasses. We’ll call you when luncheon is ready!”


*******


“I suppose,” Merry said, as they entered the study once more, “that we should look at a few of these legal documents.”

Pippin looked disappointed--those would not be nearly so interesting as the letters had proven to be, but before he could say so, Sam was nodding his agreement.

“I know what this one is.” Merry picked up a large leather folder, and opened it. While not as elaborate as the Marriage Document for Primula and Drogo, it too was lovingly calligraphed and illuminated. It was the Certificate of Adoption, when Bilbo had adopted Frodo. It was fully visible on the right-hand side of the folder, while on the left, tucked into a pocket were two other folded documents. “Frodo always kept it standing on top of his dresser, where he could see it.”

Frodo's Adoption Certificate:

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“I never noticed those before,” said Pippin, pointing to the two folded papers.

“Me neither,” said Sam.

Merry took one out and unfolded it. “This seems to be the paper Bilbo signed renouncing any interest in Frodo’s inheritances.”

Sam looked puzzled, but Pippin nodded.

Merry explained. “You know that by Shire law all the property of a minor belongs to the parents?”

“Of course. ‘Tis only proper.”

“Well, Bilbo wanted to make sure that Frodo got all that was coming to him from his parents, and he wanted to support Frodo himself. So he had this made out,” continued Merry. “Of course, I don’t think Bilbo would have touched any of Frodo’s property anyway, but by having it all taken care of legally, it would show everyone else that his motives in adopting Frodo had nothing to do with money.”

“Frodo had my father sign something similar when he gave Crickhollow to Merry and me.” Pippin glanced over at the folder. “So, what is that other document, then?”

Merry pulled it out and unfolded it, raising an eyebrow. “It seems to be a copy of Bilbo’s Will. Frodo must have placed both these in here when he packed this box.” He smiled to himself, and chuckled. “You know, that was a lot of fun, the party Bilbo threw when he adopted Frodo.”

Sam grinned. “It was at that! Remember those fireworks from old Gandalf? That was the first time I ever seen fireworks!”

“They were pretty magnificent. The food was good, too. But I remember being rather cross at having to eat in the kitchen with all the children, while Frodo was in the dining room with the grown-ups.”

“So that was why you was scowling so! I wondered at that--I thought mayhap as you was having to eat something you didn’t like.”

Merry chuckled. “I didn’t realise anyone noticed--especially with poor Freddy trying to hush Folco up all the time.”

At this, Sam gave a hearty laugh. “He tried real hard. But then Master Folco went and embarrassed my sister Daisy…”

Sam didn’t recollect when in all of his nine years the kitchen at Bag End had ever been so busy with a flurry of activity as his mother and Daisy scurried to take platters and bowls heaped with the finest Sam had ever seen out to the main dining room where all of the adults were eating. How he wished he could be out there to with the big folks and Frodo, though, of course, that wouldn’t be proper.

He sighed to himself at the kitchen table where all of the lads and lasses including him were seated for their meal. There was a large platter piled high with roast chicken, a deep dish filled with shepherd’s pie, and Tookland sausage rolls. Various vegetable dishes covered the table including a mushroom pudding, glazed carrots, peas and onions, herbed green beans, fried mushrooms and onions, piping hot bubble and squeak.

It just was not proper for the likes of him or his sisters, Daisy and Marigold, to be sitting at the same table as all of these gentlehobbit children and eating such fancy fare, though he couldn’t figure out why Merry looked so cross. The only thing he could reckon was that Merry was having to eat something he didn’t like. Well, that was to be expected, what with them Bucklanders being so peculiar, as his Gaffer always said.

Sam turned his attention back away from Master Frodo’s cousin and took a bite into one of the two slices of cobblestone bread he had taken. All thoughts of propriety disappeared as the buttery goodness melted in his mouth. But then his revelry in the delicious meal was disturbed as he heard Master Folco Boffin begin to speak to Master Freddy Bolger.

“That sure was a strange thing we saw this morning while we were out taking our walk around the hill, Fatty,” Master Folco began before taking another mouthful of the bubble and squeak.

Master Freddy looked like he was trying to think of what Master Folco could be meaning. Cautiously, he asked, “What thing?”

“Over by Bagshot Row. Don’t you remember? The lass who was playing with her laundry?”

Master Freddy paused and looked up at the other children at the table, his fork with the speared piece of roast chicken on it stopped halfway to his mouth. “You should be concentrating on your food, Folco.”

Sam followed Master Freddy’s gaze. Across the table from Master Freddy, Sam’s sister, Daisy was seated next to their little sister, Marigold. While six year old Marigold was happily eating, Sam noted that their big sister was not. In fact, she had gone pale and was staring wide-eyed at Master Folco.

“Aw, Fatty, don’t act like an old gaffer!” exclaimed Master Folco. “Don’t you remember? That lass who was folding all of that laundry, including the smallclothes, outdoors under a tree.”

Daisy gasped audibly and began to tremble slightly.

“Daisy? Are you well?” Sam asked her, putting the back of his hand to her forehead, the way his mother always did to him when he was ill.

“I … I’m fine, Sam,” she said in a weak voice.

“But you’re cheeks are all red!” All of the other children were now looking at Daisy except for Merry, who must really be quite cross about having to eat whatever was on his plate. The little lad couldn’t even bear to look at his plate, but instead kept glaring out the kitchen door toward where his mother, the other grown-ups, and Frodo were all eating their dinners.

“Oh, she’s fine!” Master Folco exclaimed happily. “She’s just surprised that anyone would fold her family’s smallclothes outdoors in plain view of everyone.”

“Folco…” Master Freddy said in a warning voice. It was odd; even though Master Freddy was the same age as Master Folco, Sam had the impression that Master Freddy really was the older one.

“But the funniest part was the way she was doing the folding!” continued Master Folco, totally ignoring Master Freddy as if he hadn’t spoken at all. “This lass, she must have been about sixteen, seventeen years old … anyway, this lass would dance around under the tree with all of the laundry dancing around her, bending and dipping to where the smallclothes had just been, as if she was going to swing it about, only to have the smallclothes run away from her at the last second. It was very funny!”

Daisy was blushing even redder now, and seemed to Sam to be trembling a bit.

Sam was really getting concerned about the strange way his sister was acting. But it would not be proper for him to take Daisy from the table when the meal was only half-way over and all of these gentlehobbit children were still seated at the table.

"Folco!" said Fatty desperately, "here! Why don't you try some of this mushroom pudding? You haven't tried that yet."

Folco finally allowed himself to be distracted by the food, and the conversation began to shift. Sam looked over at his older sister. "Daisy?" he asked softly.

Daisy swallowed and tried to put a smile on her face. “I’ll be all right, Sam. Best eat your food before it gets cold.” That was Daisy, always acting so grown up and bossing him around even though she was only seventeen.

“I was only trying to help!” exclaimed Sam.

“I know that, but I’m fine, really,” she said unconvincingly. Was her face perspiring?

Master Freddy seemed relieved that the conversation had switched and Master Folco was no longer speaking when …

“The thing is,” Master Freddy’s fork clanked onto his plate and he inhaled deeply. “Those clothes she was folding, not the hobbits’ smallclothes, but the other ones she was folding into her basket, they sure looked an awful lot like Frodo’s and Bilbo’s best breeches and westkits…”

Daisy looked horrified, her cheeks growing an even darker shade of red as she struggled to breathe.

Master Freddy rose quickly and put an arm underneath his cousin’s arm, forcing him to get up from the table. “Come on, Folco. I think we’ve had enough to eat. Besides, maybe we can get a peak at that table loaded with desserts. I think I saw an applesauce cake on there.”

“But Fatty! I’ve only had three helpings of everything! I haven’t even begun to fill in the corners!”

“Ah, but we want to make sure we know where all the best desserts are, don’t we?”

“Well, yes, but … I suppose you’re right, Fatty.” Master Folco quickly stuffed the rest of his third helping of mushroom pie into his mouth and followed Master Freddy out of the kitchen.


“It weren’t until a few days later that I could finally get it out of poor Daisy that she had been bringing Mr. Bilbo’s and Mr. Frodo’s laundry back to Bag End so as everything would be clean for the party, when the wind blew some of Mr. Frodo’s smallclothes out of her basket and she had to try and grab it back. But the more she grabbed at it, the more the wind carried it into the air, even a pair of Mr. Bilbo’s smallclothes, so as I reckon it looked to poor Mr. Folco like she was dancing with them smallclothes,” Sam explained.

“Frodo’s and Bilbo’s smallclothes were blowing around the Shire and I missed it?” asked Pippin. “Sometimes, it’s a real hardship to be the youngest.”

Now all three of them were laughing, when there was a tiny rap on the door, and it opened to admit little Elanor, who ran over and jumped in her father’s lap.

“Daddy! Mam says it’s time for lunch!”

End Notes:

 

BILBO’S HONEYCAKES

Dough:
1/3 cup cream
¼ cup water
¼ cup honey
¼ cup butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon salt
2 2/3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons yeast
¼ cup raisins (or currants or other small dried fruit or berries

Glaze:
4 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons butter



Combine dough ingredients except for raisins. When well mixed to form a ball, turn out onto a floured surface. Add the raisins, and then knead into the dough. Knead for about 5 minutes.

Let dough rest for about 30 minutes or so, and then divide into eight equal portions. Form into round flattened cakes, cover and let rise for about 45 minutes (or until doubled) in a warm draught-free place.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. While baking, warm the honey and butter until the butter melts. Brush the glaze onto the warm cakes when they are done. If you want, you can let the first “brush on” set a few minutes and then brush on another coat.

BILBO’S CINNAMON WHIRLS

Ingredients:
2 cups biscuit mix
2 tablespoons margarine (melted)
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup raisins



Set oven for 425 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Prepare biscuit mix as directed on package. Roll out on a lightly floured board, in rectangle about 8 X 16 inches. Brush with melted margarine. Combine remaining ingredients and sprinkle over dough. Roll up like jelly roll and press long edge firmly to keep from unrolling. Cut in one-inch slices. Place cut side up, in pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Makes about 16.


ADOPTION CERTIFICATE OF FRODO BAGGINS

BY

BILBO BAGGINS



Whereas, Drogo and Primula Baggins, were the parents of Frodo Baggins; and

Whereas Drogo and Primula Baggins died on the thirtieth day of Rethe, 1380 S.R. leaving said Frodo Baggins, a minor, without any living parents; and

Whereas I, Bilbo Baggins, am the first cousin once removed of Frodo Baggins on his mother’s side and the second cousin once removed on his father’s side; and

Whereas I, Bilbo Baggins, desire to adopt Frodo Baggins as if he were my own child and make him my heir; and

Whereas I, Bilbo Baggins, am Co-Guardian along with Saradoc Brandybuck of the minor, Frodo Baggins and believe this adoption to be in the best interests of the minor, Frodo Baggins;

Now therefore, this is to certify that I, Bilbo Baggins, hereby agree to and do adopt my cousin, Frodo Baggins, a minor, as my ward and heir on this thirthieth day of Rethe, 1389.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Bilbo Baggins, have signed and published this ADOPTION CERTIFICATE this thirtieth day of Rethe,S.R. 1389.

BILBO BAGGINS



Be it known that I, Saradoc Brandybuck, being the hobbit named and appointed by Drogo and Primula Baggins, deceased, as the Co-Guardian along with Bilbo Baggins of Frodo Baggins, a minor, hereby agree and consent to the adoption of Frodo Baggins by Bilbo Baggins and further state that such adoption is in the best interests of the minor, Frodo Baggins.

WITNESS my signature this thirtieth day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

SARADOC BRANDYBUCK
Co-Guardian of Frodo Baggins

 

WITNESSES:

PALADIN TOOK PONTO BAGGINS PORTO BAGGINS

ODOVOCAR BOLGER GRIFFO BOFFIN MILO BURROWS ODO PROUDFOOT



Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Bilbo Baggins, the adopting parent and Co-Guardian of Frodo Baggins, Saradoc Brandybuck, the Co-Guardian of Frodo Baggins, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the thirtieth day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

Now therefore be it known that from this time hence, FrodoBaggins is hereby officially adopted by Bilbo Baggins, with all rights and entitlements thereto.

WITNESS my signature and seal this thirtieth day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

HERIBERT GRUBB(SEAL)
Heribert Grubb, Attorney

 

 

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RENUNCIATION



RENUNCIATION made this 30th day of Rethe, S.R. 1389, by Bilbo Baggins, an adult, of Hobbiton located in the Westfarthing of the Shire.

W I T N E S S E T H:



Whereas, Drogo and Primula Baggins, were the parents of Frodo Baggins; and

Whereas Drogo and Primula Baggins died on the 30th day of Rethe, S.R. 1380, each leaving an inheritance to said Frodo Baggins, a minor; and

Whereas I, Bilbo Baggins, have this date adopted said Frodo Baggins as if he were my own child and am making him my heir;

Now therefore, this is to certify that I, Bilbo Baggins, hereby disaffirm and renounce all present and future right, interest, and ownership of any and all possessions and inheritances that my cousin, adopted ward, and heir, Frodo Baggins, a minor, has received from his parents, Drogo and Primula Baggins.

Furthermore, this is to certify that Frodo Baggins shall be allowed to draw ten (10) silver pennies per annum from his inheritance from his father, Drogo Baggins, to be used solely in his own and unfettered discretion.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Bilbo Baggins, have signed and published this Renunciation this 30th day of Rethe, S.R., 1389.

BILBO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

SARADOC BRANDYBUCK PALADIN TOOK PONTO BAGGINS


ODOVOCAR BOLGER GRIFFO BOFFIN MILO BURROWS ODO PROUDFOOT

Subscribed to and acknowledged before me by Bilbo Baggins and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the 30th day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

HERIBERT GRUBB (SEAL)
Heribert Grubb, Attorney



LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

OF

BILBO BAGGINS



Be it remembered that I, Bilbo Baggins, a resident of Hobbiton, located in the West Farthing of the Shire, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and mindful of the uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, publish and declare this document as my Last Will and Testament, and hereby revoke all former wills and testaments or writings and codicils thereto, by me made.

ARTICLE I. Funeral Expense. It is my desire that all of my funeral expenses be paid out of the assets of my estate as soon as practicable after my death, and I order and direct that any members of my family who have disbursed their personal funds for the payment of my funeral expenses be reimbursed promptly by my Executor.

ARTICLE II. Personal Effects. I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of to my dear cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins. In the event that my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins, shall predecease me, then and in that event, upon my death, that cousin’s portion of all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, mathoms, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins.

ARTICLE III. Specific Bequests. I hereby give, devise, and bequeath Bag End to the head of the Baggins family, my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins.

ARTICLE IV. Disposition of Residuary.

A. Upon my death, all of the rest, residue, and residuary of my estate, herein referred to as my Residuary Estate, be it real property, personal property or mixed, wherever situated, of which I may die seized or possessed, or to which I may be or become in any way entitled or have any interest, shall be distributed to my dear cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins.

B. In the event that my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins, shall predecease me, then and in that event, my Residuary Estate shall be distributed equally between my cousins, Dudo Baggins and Dora Baggins.

C. In the event that either of my cousins, Dudo Baggins or Dora Baggins, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, that cousin’s portion of my Residuary Estate shall be distributed to the children of said deceased cousin, Dudo Baggins or Dora Baggins.

ARTICLE V. Payment to Minors and Incompetents. Except as provided for in Articles III and IV, if, pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, any portion of my estate becomes payable to any beneficiary during such beneficiary’s minority, or to any beneficiary who shall have been determined to be incompetent, my Executor, in his sole discretion, shall be authorized to distribute said portion of the estate to a parent or guardian of the beneficiary, or to the person with whom such beneficiary resides, without obligation by the Executor to look to the proper application or use of any payment so made; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may make distributions in such manner as he believes will best benefit the beneficiary, and also may pay to the beneficiary directly such sums as the Executor shall approve as an allowance; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may accumulate and hold all or a portion of the assets which otherwise would be distributed to the beneficiary, and distribute said assets to the beneficiary when he or she attains the age of thirty-three (33) years, or upon removal of the incapacity. However, if said beneficiary dies before the age of thirty-three (33) years, or prior to the removal of the incapacity, and no other provision is made in this Will for the passing of such beneficiary’s interest to others, then my Executor shall distribute any accumulated corpus and income to the estate of the beneficiary.

ARTICLE VI. Implementation Upon Constructive Death. In the event that I leave the Shire and its environs, then and in that event, in the event I have conveyed my intent to permanently remove from the Shire, then and in that event, it shall be construed that I have constructively died and all of the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, shall at that time be implemented with the full force and effect as if I were deceased.

ARTICLE VII. Renouncement. I hereby resign, renounce, and relinquish my position as head of the Baggins family to my cousin and heir, Frodo Baggins, upon my actual or constructive death.

ARTICLE VIII. Powers of Executor. In the administration of my estate pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, the Executor shall have the following powers, which may be exercised in whole or in part, and which shall be deemed to be supplementary to and not exclusive of the general powers of executors pursuant to the rules of the Shire, and shall include all powers necessary to put the same into effect. Such powers may be exercised independently and without the prior or subsequent approval of any authority, and nobody dealing with the Executor shall be required to inquire into the propriety of any of his actions.

A. To retain, in his absolute discretion, and for such period as he shall deem advisable, any and all investments and other properties held by me at the time of my death without liability for any loss incurred by reason of the retention of such investments or properties.

B. To sell, pledge, and otherwise dispose of the assets of my estate and of the interests established pursuant to this Will, or any part of said assets, when he deems such action necessary and proper for the purpose of complying with my testamentary desires as herein expressed, and for the purpose of conserving, preserving and maintaining my estate.

C. With respect to any indebtedness held by me at the time of my death, to enter into agreements for the alteration of my interest therein, or of the rights and obligations under any contract with respect thereto, in effect at the time of my death.

D. To take any action deemed advisable to enforce, compromise or arbitrate any obligation, lien or other claim held by me, and to agree to any rescission or modification of any contract or agreement.

E. To hold undivided interests in any other properties held by
me or that may form part of my estate at the time of my death, or that may be purchased or acquired thereafter on behalf of my estate without being required to make a physical division of any properties which may form a part of my estate at the time of my death.

F. In the event that at the time of my death I am a member of any partnership, joint venture, or undertaking, whether alone or jointly with one (1) or more persons, I hereby authorize and empower the Executor to carry out and perform the terms of such partnership or joint venture, including furnishing additional assets as may be necessary or desirable in the sole discretion of my Executor, it being my intention that the Executor shall have full power to cooperate with my surviving partner or partners, or joint venturers in such manner as shall be deemed advisable by the Executor, in order that the continuation, development and intention of such partnerships, ventures, or undertakings shall not be prevented or interfered with by virtue of the continued interest therein of my estate.

G. To loan or borrow money to or for such businesses or business interests which I may own at the time of my death.

H. To lease any real estate for such terms and upon such conditions and in such manner as he may deem advisable, and any lease so made shall be valid and binding for the full term thereof. To make repairs, replacements and improvements, structural or otherwise, to any such real estate; to insure against fire or other risks as he may deem proper. To subdivide real estate, to dedicate same to public use, and to grant easements as he may deem proper.

I. Whenever required or permitted to divide and distribute any funds under this Will, to make such distributions in money or in kind, or partly in money and partly in kind, and to exercise all powers herein conferred until my estate had been fully distributed.

J. To employ accountants, attorneys, and such agents as he may deem advisable; to pay reasonable compensation for their services.

K. To determine which assets or portion thereof shall be distributed to or for the benefit of each beneficiary of my estate in satisfaction of the share which he or she is entitled to receive under this, my Last Will and Testament. The selection and distribution of assets by the Executor shall be binding and conclusive upon all persons and shall not be subject to question by any beneficiary.

ARTICLE IX. Appointment of Executor.

A. I hereby appoint my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, as Executor under this, my Last Will and Testament.

B. In the event my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Ponto Baggins, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor

C. In the event my cousin, Ponto Baggins, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Paladin Took, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor.

ARTICLE X. Appointment of Guardian.

A. I hereby appoint my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, or the survivor of them, as Co-Guardians of my cousin and ward, Frodo Baggins. I strongly request that my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, send my ward, Frodo Baggins, to live with my cousins, Paladin and Eglantine Took, for a few weeks each spring as that is a very difficult time of the year for my ward, Frodo Baggins, to be in Buckland.

B. In the event that both of my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Guardian hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousins, Paladin and Eglantine Took, or the survivor of them, shall be appointed as Successor Co-Guardians of my ward, Frodo Baggins, in which capacity they shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Co-Guardians.

ARTICLE XI. Construction of Will. Wherever the context of any provision of this Will permits, any word in either number shall be construed to mean both singular and plural; any word in the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter; any word in the feminine gender shall include the masculine and neuter;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Bilbo Baggins, have signed and published this Will this 30th day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

BILBO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

SARADOC BRANDYBUCK PALADIN TOOK PONTO BAGGINS


ODOVOCAR BOLGER GRIFFO BOFFIN MILO BURROWS ODO PROUDFOOT

This instrument was signed, sealed, published and declared by Bilbo Baggins, the Testator above named, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereupon subscribed our names as witnesses, this clause first having been read to us and we now intending to certify that the matters herein specified took place in fact and in the order named. Furthermore, we, the Testator, Bilbo Baggins, and the witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, do hereby declare to the undersigned officer that the Testator signed the instrument as the Last Will and Testament of Bilbo Baggins and that he signed voluntarily and that each of the witnesses in the presence of the Testator, at his request, and in the presence of each other, signed the Will as a witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each witness the Testator was at that time thirty-three (33) years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Bilbo Baggins, the Testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the 30th day of Rethe, S.R. 1389.

HERIBERT GRUBB(SEAL)
Heribert Grubb, Attorney

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Hidden Treasures by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

This chapter has illustrations: drawings by Gryffinjack, and photographs of object made by Dreamflower.




CHAPTER THREE


Luncheon was a simple affair: a rich vegetable soup, a salad of summer greens with mushrooms, and some of the leftover dishes from elevenses --few in number, but enough to admit of variety. The yeasty smell of the honeycakes as they were rising nearly drove Pippin mad.

“We should pop those into the oven for afters,” he said hopefully. Elanor’s face lit up at this suggestion, and then fell as Rose shook her head.

“I don’t think so,” said Merry, as he managed to spear the last of Daisy’s pickles with his fork. He gave an amused look at the quickly hidden disgruntlement on Sam’s face, as the Master of Bag End missed out on the end of his sister’s gift. Teasing Sam wasn’t as much fun as teasing Pippin, who would have quickly protested. He avoided Estella’s glare, and looked at Pippin instead. “Those were made for tea, and tea is when we shall have them.”

“I hope they are as good as I remember them,” said Pippin wistfully. “But even Frodo never made them quite as well as Cousin Bilbo.”

“Mr. Bilbo was a dab hand at the baking,” said Sam reminiscently. “All his breads and cakes and pastries was just lovely and light as feathers! But them honeycakes, now that receipt was something special--he brought that receipt home from his Adventure.”

“Did he?” said Merry curiously. “I never knew that!”

“It’s what he told me one afternoon, when I was not much more than a faunt, afore Mr. Frodo ever came to live here. My Ma was up here doing a bit of spring cleaning like, in preparation for one of Mr. Frodo’s visits, and she’d brought me and Marigold up here to keep an eye on us. She kept Mari in a little sling with her while she worked, but Mr. Bilbo invited me into the kitchen with him, and I sat on the table while he mixed up them honeycakes. He told me he had the receipt of old Beorn. ‘Not, Samwise my lad, the twice-baked honeycakes he gave to us for our journey after we left him, but the nice soft yeasty ones we had with our supper while we were guests in his home.’ That’s just what he told me.”

Little Elanor’s eyes grew very wide. “Daddy! Do you mean the Beorn that turned into a bear and helped Mr. Bilbo and the Dwarves!”

“I do indeed, Elanorelle.”

The other hobbits’ brows rose at this, and all of them now glanced over at the sideboard where the potential treats lay covered with a red-checked tea towel.

“Well,” said Pippin, “as we are not to have them now, I don’t intend to torture myself with the smell of them any longer. I suppose it is time we returned to our task. That box holds a good many things, and we’ve barely begun to sort through them.”


*******

The room was quiet as the three hobbits gathered around the strongbox. Rose and Estella had taken the children outside so that Elanor and Wyn could play while Rose and Estella minded Frodo-lad and little Perry.

“What should we look through next?” Merry asked as he opened the lid once again.

“How about that pouch?” said Pippin, pointing inside the box. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. I wonder where he got it. It’s really pretty.”

“I haven’t seen it before either. It’s not Mum’s work and I don’t recall seeing that pattern made by any of the other Brandybucks, nor does it look store bought,” replied Merry as he lifted the wool pouch out of the box to get a better look at it.

The body of the pouch was made out of wine coloured homespun wool and was about eight inches long and five inches wide. It had a black drawstring closure at the top with a coloured wooden bead on each side of the pouch. There was a clever handle long enough to loop on a hobbit’s belt or carry on a shoulder that ran up one side of the pouch and down the other side, a black tassel at each end.

“Sam? Are you all right?” Pippin put a steadying hand on Sam’s shoulder and looked with concern at his friend.

Sam's normally sunny face had paled and his eyes glistened with tears. He blinked them away. Although he was trying to work his mouth to say something, the only sound coming from him was a tiny whimper from the back of his throat as he tried to breathe.

Merry turned to look at Sam and bolted over to him just in time to help Pippin ease Sam into a chair. “What is it?”

With a visible effort, he finally said, “That’s my Ma's weaving.”

"Ah," said Merry, nodding. He and Pippin exchanged an understanding glance. Sam never spoke of his mother's death, but they suspected that it had hit him quite hard, for she had been rather young to go so quickly.

“She made it for Mr. Frodo back when I was a lad to thank him as he looked after me and kept me from drowning me fool neck once by The Water when she weren’t looking. It gave her such a fright, and my Gaffer were none to happy about it neither, make no mistake.”

“That was very nice of her to make a present for Frodo.” Merry sat in a chair next to Sam and Pippin sat on the sofa, relieved that Sam had found his voice.

“It weren’t just a pouch, mind you. Ma put some of her shortbread biscuits in there, I reckon ‘cause she thought Mr. Frodo were real sweet.” Sam reached for the pouch that Merry still held in his hand and slowly ran his fingers over it.

The colour was beginning to come back into Sam’s face and the ends of his lips even curled up into the faintest hint of a smile. “I remember she made a big fuss of saying as how she wanted to make it ’specially out of wool so as it could absorb any water if it rained and protect whatever Mr. Frodo might put in the pouch. That and wool is real sturdy; it won’t wear in no hurry. It took Ma hours to weave the pouch on her loom. She used one of her own hair ribbons for the drawstring.”

“That was most thoughtful of your mother, Sam,” said Merry.

“Yes, and it was a very nice gift. The pouch looks like it has plenty of wear in it still. Frodo took good care of it,” Pippin added.

“I didn’t even know he kept it all these years,” said Sam. “I clean forgot all about it until just now, but I reckon Mr. Frodo kept it to remember her by.”

Picture of pouch - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

“He always said she was a fine hobbitess,” commented Merry.

“Aye, that she was. And she thought Mr. Frodo were the best behaved tweenaged hobbit as she ever saw!” Sam said. “But Mr. Frodo … Mr. Frodo were real sad when she died, on account of it reminded him of when his own parents died, you see. And he always had a soft spot in his heart for her. I reckon he kept it as a keepsake all this time.” Sam stared pensively at the pouch in his hands and thought a moment. “But why would he put it here in this strongbox with all of his most important treasures?” He looked up at the cousins expectantly.

“Well, that’s just it, Sam,” replied Pippin. “You’re mother was a real treasure.”

“And Frodo never was one to forget someone so special,” added Merry.

A few tears ran down Sam’s cheeks before he was able to check them. “You have the right of it, sirs. I’m glad Mr. Frodo knew that about her.”

“What do you say we see what Frodo thought worthy of keeping in your Mother’s pouch?” Merry asked briskly. “I’m quite certain the shortbread is long gone.”

Sam nodded as he wiped his tears away and offered the pouch back to Merry.

“No, you open it, Sam.”

“It’s only right,” added Pippin.

Sam blushed slightly and then opened the pouch and removed the first item he came to. He held it up so all three of them could get a good look at it. It was a small wooden toy boat that had been painted a bright green on the outside.

Merry and Pippin both chuckled in warm recognition.

“Why, that’s the little boat his father made for him!” exclaimed Pippin.

“He used to let me play with it back when he was still living with us at Brandy Hall!” laughed Merry. “Frodo would give me his boat to play with whenever we went swimming in that little cove. You remember, Pip? Frodo didn't often swim in the River, of course.

Pippin nodded. "That's where both of you taught me. I used to wonder why we didn't go with the other lads." He sighed. "I understood more when I got a bit older."

“I remember seeing that boat here at Bag End after Mr. Frodo moved in with Mr. Bilbo. He used to keep it in his room,” said Sam.

“That’s right!” agreed Pippin. “And he used to let me play with it in the bath!”

Merry snorted, "As if you needed anything to entertain you in the bath!”

“Well, Merry, he used to say it helped me keep more of the water in the tub if I knew the boat needed it to float,” said Pippin.

2. Drawing of boat by gryffinjack Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting



“Mr. Frodo always was a clever hobbit,” Sam chuckled. He held his left hand out and emptied a couple of things from the pouch onto his hand.

“Oh, look! It’s the spinning top and the whistle!” Merry exclaimed. "Drogo made those for him when he was little, too. Mum was always telling us to take the whistle outside if we were going to blow it.”

“Hmm… I remember Frodo would let me play with the spinning top when I was visiting, but I don’t recall him letting me play with the whistle,” said Pippin.

Merry and Sam gave each other a knowing look and chuckled.

“What?” asked Pippin in a hurt tone.

“Nothing. It’s just that you never needed nothing to help you make noise when you was little, Pippin,” replied Sam, trying to hide his grin, even though Merry was still laughing.

Pippin glared at both of them for a moment, but then broke into laughter himself. “I was a rather active lad, wasn’t I?”

“I can hardly wait until you have a lad of your own, Pip,” said Merry, still chuckling. “Perhaps it will have all been worth it then.”

“Here now, what’s that supposed to mean?”

Merry winked at Sam as they both laughed at the Took. “You’ll find out, dear cousin. You’ll find out. But I insist that you take the boat, the spinning top, and especially the whistle.”

“Well, I’ve no time for guessing at your riddles, either one of you,” sniffed Pippin as he put the little treasures to one side. “We’ve got more things to go through. Is that one of Bilbo’s handkerchiefs?” He pulled a bright yellow handkerchief out of the pouch, spilling the rest of the contents onto Sam’s lap.

“It sure looks like it, doesn’t it?” said Sam.

Merry took the handkerchief from Pippin and looked it over quietly. “It’s the first handkerchief Bilbo ever gave to Frodo, when Frodo was still living at the Hall. I used to be quite envious of it. It was a birthday present to Frodo on their birthday. Frodo told me that Bilbo used to always say that Frodo never had a handkerchief when he needed one, so that’s why he got him one on their birthday. Frodo never did fancy yellow as much as other hobbits, but he carried it with him everywhere just to please Bilbo. After Bilbo left, he stopped carrying it. But obviously he kept it anyway."

All three of them smiled. It was so like Frodo to use something he didn't like to please someone else, and then keep it anyway, when he no longer had reason to use it.

“Well, look at this!" exclaimed Merry, reaching onto Sam’s lap and picking up a small flat pasteboard box with a faded picture of a pony on it.

“What is that?” asked Sam.

Merry grinned broadly, his eyes twinkling. “It’s a puzzle!”

“A puzzle?”

“Yes, a jigsaw puzzle of a pony. This is actually mine."

6. Picture of puzzle made by dreamflower02

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Pippin and Sam gave Merry a quizzical look, and Pippin arched a brow. "Yours?"

"Yes. I got it for Yule the year I was five. I don't know how many times I made Frodo help me put it together. We took it apart and put it together over and over for days, and then one day a piece went missing, and I was very upset. So Frodo took the puzzle, and said that since we couldn't finish it, we should do something else for a change. I had no idea he kept it." His eyes narrowed, and suddenly, he tipped the pieces out on the tea table, and quickly manipulated them. All the pieces were there.

"Frodo! You sneak!" He exclaimed indignantly.

Pippin and Sam laughed. "Clever Frodo! He knows how obsessed you get. He must have been heartily tired of that same old puzzle day after day!"

Merry bristled. "Obsessed?"

"Yes!" Pippin exclaimed while Sam nodded at the same time, both of them laughing. After a moment, Merry joined in.

"You may have a point there," he chuckled.

Merry glanced at the remaining items on Sam’s lap. He gaped in surprise at what he saw there. Instantly, he picked an item up and held it before him, studying it closely.

“What is it, Merry?” asked Pippin.

Merry looked closely at the name written in silver on a red ribbon. “I can’t believe it.”

“Merry?” Pippin sidled up next to him to take a look for himself. “First Place - 1379, Buckland Races, swimming - ten to fifteen year olds.”

“I didn’t even know he had ever entered one of the Buckland swimming races!” exclaimed Merry. “All those years we went to the Races and he never told me he had been in one, let alone won one.”

Pippin took the ribbon into his own hand, looked at it closer, and frowned. “1379. He won this before you were ever born, Merry. Just a year before his parents died.”

“I saw that ribbon in Mr. Frodo’s room once when I was about fifteen and asked him about it,” said Sam. “His eyes got that sad and far away look of his, and he just turned and walked right past Mr. Bilbo and me and out the smial without saying a word. Mr. Bilbo, he could see I were that upset about distressing Mr. Frodo and confused about what I’d done to upset him, so he took me aside and explained…”

Sam watched Frodo go outside without a word, closing the front door behind him. He turned wide-eyed toward Bilbo in confusion.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Bilbo! Did I say something wrong?"

Bilbo smiled understandingly at Sam. The poor lad had no idea why talking about that ribbon upset Frodo they way it did.

“Come, Samwise. I have just the thing! How about a nice cup of tea and some seedcake, eh?” The elder hobbit led Sam into the kitchen and began to brew the tea.

“I’m really sorry, Mr. Bilbo,” Sam repeated, not knowing what else to say.

“It’s not your fault, my lad,” said Bilbo as he smiled kindly at Sam and placed the seedcake and a plate before him. “It’s just that he won that ribbon for coming in first place in a swimming contest on the Brandywine River. The very same river that his parents drowned in.”

“Oh, Mr. Bilbo, sir!” gasped Sam in horror. “Poor Master Frodo! No wonder he don’t want to be reminded of it! Samwise, you ninnyhammer!”

“Now, don’t you fret about it, Sam. You had no way of knowing. Having been raised in Buckland, Frodo had been swimming almost since the time he could crawl. He used to tell me how he couldn’t wait until he was old enough to compete in the swimming contest!” laughed Bilbo, a distant smile of the past in his eyes.

The smile vanished as he continued. “By the time Frodo was old enough to enter the races, he was ten years old. Being one of the youngest in the contest, he didn’t do well. But he was happy just the same. Oh, my! You should have seen the look of pride on his face at having completed the course! You see, even though Wedmath was not my usual time to visit at Brandy Hall, I had come specifically to see Frodo compete in the Races. The lad had practically begged me to come and I was powerless to refuse him.” Bilbo’s eyes were twinkling again as he thought of how much he loved his younger cousin.

“But that there ribbon says that he won first place!” interrupted Sam, bringing Bilbo back from his thoughts.

“What? Oh, so it does,” began Bilbo as he poured the tea and scraped some of the white sugar off the cone wrapped in light blue paper and into Sam’s cup. “He won the ribbon the following year. I was there again, at Frodo’s request… I’ve never seen Frodo so happy and proud.” Bilbo gazed out the kitchen window toward the sad figure that stood solitary in the front garden. “That was 1379. His parents drowned in the River the following year in 1380.”

Sam practically choked on his sip of tea and quickly put the cup back down. “1380? Why, that's the very year I were born, Mr. Bilbo!”

Bilbo turned toward him. “Was it really? Well, I don’t think their deaths had anything to do with your birth, Samwise.”

“I don’t know why it never struck me before as how I was born the same year as poor Master Frodo losing his parents.”

“Well, it’s not the sort of thing we like to dwell upon, is it?” Bilbo said gently, putting another slice of seedcake on Sam’s plate before taking a bite of his own piece.

“I reckon not,” said Sam. “But if that memory brings back sad memories for Master Frodo, why does he keep it where he can see it?”

“Oh, I suppose it has a lot of happy memories for him as well. Not only of winning the race, but of a lovely day spent with his parents, seeing their happy faces. Drogo and Primula were so proud of Frodo. I could see it in their beaming faces. So you see, it must have been a special day for Frodo to see that look upon his parents’ faces, too. But to have to tell someone else what the ribbon was for, well, I imagine that comes too close to reliving how soon after he lost them. Because he knows that the first thing someone is going to do as soon as they see the year on the ribbon is comment on how he lost his parents the very next year. And the last thing he wants is anyone’s pity.”

Sam could see how Bilbo was right. That had been his very first thought, too, as soon as he had learnt the year that Frodo had won the race. He wondered what it would be like to lose a parent at such an early age. An involuntary shiver ran down his spine at the horrible thought. Sam was so glad that both of his parents were alive and well.


“That was the only time I ever saw that ribbon. I’d never known Mr. Frodo was such a good swimmer before, but it weren’t no surprise, him having been thinner than most lads were, he would have had that much less weight to pull through the water and that much less to weigh him down,” said Sam.

Tears stood in Merry’s and Pippin’s eyes as they thought of their cousin who had never entered a Buckland swimming race in all the years they had known him.

“I wish I’d got to see him win one of those races,” said Merry. “I’d have liked to see him so proud of himself, just once.”

Pippin nodded and handed the ribbon to Merry. “You keep it, Merry. It belongs in Buckland.”

Merry looked up in surprise at his younger cousin, “Oh, no, I couldn’t…”

“It’s only right, Merry,” agreed Sam. “Since you didn’t get to see him race.”

Merry smiled gratefully at them and then carefully placed the ribbon in a pocket of his westkit.

3. Drawing of handkerchief with top, whistle, and ribbon by gryffinjack - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

“What is this?” Merry wrinkled his face up in disgust as he plucked something up out of the storage box with the barest of fingertips and began to examine it. “Pippin! Didn’t you have enough mushrooms at luncheon? Now look what you’ve done! You’ve dropped one in with Frodo’s things!”

Pippin had just opened his mouth to object when Sam spoke first.

“Begging your pardon, Merry, but that there mushroom is not from luncheon.”

”Well, how else could it have got in here?”

“I don’t rightly know, but that mushroom is old and wrinkled. It looks like it’s seen many a summer,” Sam replied.

“Twenty-one summers to be precise,” Pippin replied. He lifted his chin up in the air and grinned, his green eyes twinkling with satisfaction as Sam and Merry both turned to look incredulously at the smug Took. Pippin pointed to a spot on the wrinkled mushroom and replied, “I was there. Look!”

Upon closer inspection, Merry and Sam saw that there were initials carved into the cap of the mushroom.

“PT, FB” Sam read.

“Peregrin Took, Frodo Baggins,” Pippin interpreted happily. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that mushroom.”

Merry screwed his face up and faced his younger cousin, “Would you care to explain why Frodo would have kept an old wrinkled mushroom, and why it would have your initials on it?”

“It’s to commemorate Frodo’s and my first walking trip together!”

“Pippin! You and I went walking before that!” exclaimed Merry.

“Well, yes we did,” admitted Pippin. “But I said Frodo and I. You were not there. You were sick with hay fever back in Buckland.”

Sam gave an amused look at Merry before returning his gaze to Pippin. “Go on then, Pippin. I want to hear about this.”

Merry pursed his lips and leant forward curiously with his arms crossed. It wasn’t often he learnt of something involving Pippin and Frodo that he didn’t already know.

“Well, remember Merry, the summer I was fourteen? We’d all three met at the Great Smials for the Lithedays as usual, but instead of coming back to Whitwell with me, you’d had to return to Buckland.”

“Ah yes, I remember. Grandmother Menegilda had one of her bad turns, and Da was worried and then I had hay fever. So I didn’t make my usual Afterlithe visit. I was going to come back in Wedmath…”

Pippin nodded. “Frodo, on the other hand was not especially in any hurry to get back here. So it was just Frodo and me. When Frodo asked me what I wanted to do one day, I took one look outside and saw that it was a fine summer’s day and told him that I thought it would be grand if we could go on a real adventure, like he used to go on with Bilbo…”

”But we’ve gone on walking trips before, Pippin,” said Frodo.

“Not alone we haven’t,” Pippin replied. “We’ve only gone with Merry … or Bilbo.” He added the last part softly, a note of uncertainty in his voice as to whether he should mention it. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Frodo. “But we’ve never gone just the two of us, like you’ve done with Merry.”

“Merry’s older than you.”

“Yes, and he always will be,” Pippin pointed out. “But I’m at least a year older now than Merry was the first time you took him alone on a walking trip! Besides, it’s good weather now (and Father said it’s likely to hold for at least a week. I promise I’ll do everything you tell me to do, even cleaning the fish. Please, Frodo! Can’t we go?”

Frodo raised an eyebrow and looked at his younger cousin’s pleading face with amusement.

“All right, dearest, but I don’t want any complaints if you get tired,” Frodo said, ruffling Pippin’s curls.

“Oh, thank you, Frodo! You’ll see! I won’t be any trouble at all!” Frodo grunted as a young teen grabbed him tightly in a hug.

Pippin was as good as his word and did not complain once. Despite agreeing to Pippin’s request, Frodo still didn’t want to go that far with Pippin. He was still a bit slight for his age and Paladin and Eglantine would never forgive him if anything happened to their son. In the end, Frodo decided that they would go to Pincup, carefully avoiding Tuckborough as they entered the Green Hills, since Pippin would certainly have objected to Frodo taking him back home.

Sam’s prediction had been correct as usual and the fair weather held throughout the trip. Frodo had to admit, he was glad to go on another walking trip, it had been far too long since his last one. And Pippin really was old enough now to be good company and not complain about getting tired.

As they walked along the path the first day of their adventure, they sang some of their favourite walking songs, mostly ones that Bilbo had written, Pippins sweet young voice mixing with Frodo’s rich, deeper tones. When they had tired of singing, they played a game that Frodo always played with Merry or Pippin when they went walking: spot the wildlife. It was a game Bilbo had played with Frodo when he was a lad.

By mid-afternoon, Pippin had spotted three squirrels, a robin, and a rabbit hopping along. Even though they had not yet even come to the Green Hills, Pippin sighed as he stared around him, intent on finding more wildlife. Frodo knew that what Pippin really wanted to find was a deer in the woods. It was always the same way.

“Perhaps we should sing again,” Frodo suggested.

“All right!” Pippin smiled cheerfully. One thing Frodo and Merry both knew was that the easiest way to cheer Pippin up was to suggest that he sing.

One hundred apple pies, cooling on the sill,
Snatch one down
To eat our fill…

“Pippin,” Frodo interrupted.

“Yes?”

“Not that song, please.”

“All right, Frodo.” They walked along the road in silence for a few minutes. Soon, Frodo heard Pippin humming, which soon became singing again.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can…

Pippin looked carefully at Frodo. Although he was certain Frodo would not have any objection to this song, he wanted to be certain not to be a bother on their adventure.

But this was one of Bilbo’s songs. Frodo was smiling and soon joined his voice with Pippin’s.

And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say. *

“Well, you’d better be able to say whither the path goes, Frodo Baggins, or we shall become lost!” Pippin quipped after they finished the song.

As they continued making their way through the Green Hills and Pincup, they continued to sing. This walking trip was turning out to be everything Pippin had hoped for.

“I’m glad we came this way, Frodo. This way, I won’t have to clean any fish!” the young Took exclaimed happily as they ambled the Green Hills. “Although, I don’t know so much as I’d mind cleaning them just now. I am feeling a bit peckish!”

Frodo gave Pippin a pointed look, but there was a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

“Not that I’m complaining!” Pippin added quickly. “I just mean, we didn’t stop for afternoon tea and the sun’s starting to set, so I thought we might want to stop for dinner now so we can get a few more hours of walking in under the stars.”

“Very tactful of you, Pip,” Frodo laughed, slipping his rucksack off by some rocks that would serve well to control their cook fire.

“I thought so!” Pippin agreed readily with a huge grin as he slipped his rucksack off next to Frodo’s. “What can I do to help?”

Frodo looked around their surroundings and motioned to a patch of the woods where there were some smaller fallen branches. “You can gather the firewood while I start getting the food out and make the pit.”

“I’ll get it straight away! And I’m going to find us some mushrooms, too!” Pippin exclaimed.

Before Frodo had even opened one of their rucksacks, Pippin dashed off to gather the wood. He had only been gone about ten minutes when he returned with his arms weighed down by enough wood to make five cook fires.

“Will this be enough?” the teen asked.

“That will be plenty, dearest!” Frodo chuckled in response.

“Good!” Pippin dropped the firewood near the pit that Frodo had made and then dug into the pocket of his breeches. “Look what I found!” he said proudly, holding out his hands.

“Mushrooms!” exclaimed Frodo, who began salivating at the sight of the tasty morsels. “What a good lad!”

Pippin’s face glowed as he basked in Frodo’s approval.

“They’re all safe to eat – I’ve seen them plenty of times when I’ve gone mushrooming with Pearl. But look what else I found!” Pippin dropped the mushrooms into Frodo’s hands and rummaged in his pocket once again. “Writing mushrooms! At least, that’s what Pearl says they’re called.” Pippin held two long-stemmed medium sized tawny coloured mushrooms in his hands for Frodo’s inspection.

“So they are! That’s what Bilbo always called them as well,” said Frodo. He put the little button mushrooms Pippin had already given to him down in the pot he had taken out and took the writing mushrooms from Pippin.

“Pearl says they are rare.”

“She’s correct. At least, here in the Shire. And did Pearl also show you what to do with them?”

Pippin nodded enthusiastically. “She said you can write anything you want on the caps of the mushrooms and then put them in a safe, dry place to dry and when they dry, whatever you wrote on them will still be there on the cap, forever and ever.”

“That’s right! So what would you like to write on them?” Frodo asked. “It can’t be that long, there’s not that much room on the caps.”

Pippin thought for a moment. Finally, he smiled.

“What about our initials? That’s short enough, isn’t it? And then we can always remember this adventure that we shared – just the two of us! And look! I got two of them – one for you and one for me, so we can each keep one.”

“Why, that’s a fine idea, Pippin!? Frodo hugged his little cousin warmly, careful not to squish the mushrooms. He handed Pippin a small twig with which to carve their initials.

“I think you ought to do it, Frodo. Your handwriting is neater than mine.”

“All right, Pippin. I’ll do the writing,” Frodo chuckled.

He handed one of the mushrooms back to Pippin and carefully held the other one up to find the best spot on the mushroom to write on. The corners of his mouth rose as he looked again at Pippin, who was anxiously looked on.

Frodo held the small twig and carefully carved on the first mushroom, “PT” and looked at the proud grin on his cousin, knowing that the lad would be glad his initials were listed first. Below the “PT,” he added “FB.”

“That’s perfect!” Pippin exclaimed. “Now do the other one!”

Only after both mushrooms were carved with the exact same thing did they begin to prepare their dinner of lentil and mushroom soup with some rosemary griddle bread.


“We agreed that we would each keep one of the mushrooms so we would never forget the first time we went on adventure, just the two of us. I still have my mushroom, but I forgot all about seeing what happened with Frodo’s,” Pippin explained, gently turning the mushroom over in his fingers, not even bothering to wipe the tears away from his eyes.

Merry and Sam were both misty-eyed as well.

“That were a beautiful story, Mr. Pippin,” Sam commented, too choked up to remember not to use the “Mr.”.

Merry nodded, unable to say anything for a moment. Finally, he said, “Why don’t you keep Frodo’s mushroom, Pippin. It’s only right. Keep the two of them together.”

It was Sam’s turn to nod now. “Mr. Frodo would like that.”

4. Drawing of mushroom by gryffinjack
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Pippin gave them a thin, watery smile and carefully placed the mushroom in the breast pocket of his weskit. Then he reached out and picked up the blanket.

“So, what’s in the blanket then, Merry?” Pippin poked at it curiously. “I think I know…”

“So do I. But open it up anyway.”

Pippin untied the ribbon that was around the blanket, and drew the folds away. “Baby clothes! Just as I thought!”

Merry and Sam looked at the tiny clothes: a long white dress, such as was worn by both lads and lasses as infants; a white knitted bonnet and a matching jacket; a small playsuit the colour of bluebells--it had a bumblebee embroidered on the little pocket; and a little bib, also embroidered with bumblebees. And of course the blanket itself, knitted of two strands of soft cream-coloured wool with fringe on each end.

“Blue?” said Pippin, puzzled. Pale green was the usual colour for hobbit lads, and pale yellow for the lasses.

Merry shrugged, too caught up in his thoughts at the moment to give more of an answer. Frodo had worn these tiny garments. Putting away his sad thoughts, he looked at Sam. “Well, Sam, it’s perfect timing--you’ve a babe on the way, and here are some baby clothes.”

Sam drew back in horror. “I could never! Those was Mr. *Frodo’s*!”

“I know that, Sam. And Frodo made you his heir. So they belong to you.”

“But his mum made those, I’m sure!”

“I’m sure she did as well. She was known for her needlework, I’m told. That means they will be very well made.”

“But they ought to go to you. Or to … to Pippin for when he weds!”

“They’ll be of no use to Estella and me. We’ve a lass and a lad, and no mind to have more.”

Pippin and Sam looked at him dubiously. That had the sound of tempting fate. But they said nothing about it. Instead, Pippin protested, “And I’m not even *married* yet! As Merry said, you’ve another babe coming, and you and Rosie will probably fill this hole to the rafters!”

“Pip!” said Merry sharply.

Pippin’s cheeks blushed a fiery red as he realised what he’d said. “Well,” he mumbled, “you know what I mean!”

Sam shook his head stubbornly, and retreated to the only thing that kept coming to his mind. “Those was Mr. Frodo’s as a babe.”

Merry and Pippin looked at one another helplessly. Sam in this mood could be every bit as stubborn as a Baggins. Or a Took. Or a Brandybuck. Or all three rolled into one.

Merry tried appealing to Sam’s practicality. “Sam, what’s the point of them just being kept until they rot away? Frodo would *want* them to be used, I’m sure.”

Sam just set his face.

Pippin and Merry exchanged a helpless glance, and then Pippin stood up. “I know how to resolve this.”

Sam and Merry stared at him as he went to the study door and opened it. Their expressions turned to alarm as Pippin called: “Estella! Rose! Would you please come in here a moment? We need your opinions.”

He turned back to Sam and Merry with a smirk. Both of them glared at him.

Estella and Rose entered the room. “What is it, Pip?” said Estella. She and Rose were trying to take advantage of the children’s naps to have a nice chat and a cup of tea.

“Look!” Pippin said, pointing to where the little garments lay, atop the blanket on the settee next to Merry.

“Oh!” said Rose. “They’re beautiful!”

5. Pictures of the baby clothes made by dreamflower02

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Estella went over, and her eyes widened in surprise, and then she bit her lip. She knew whose work this was, and it made her think briefly of the nature of tragedy. “This is some of Primula’s work.” She picked up the tiny white dress, and examined the pin tucks at the hem. “Mother Esme has told me that Frodo’s mother had a real gift with any kind of needlework.” She put the dress down and took up the bib. “How sweet! See the bumblebees? Esmeralda told me that Primula used to put little bees on things she would make for her family--for Baggins and Brandybuck.” Estella picked up the little playsuit. “And how she made baby Frodo’s things in blue rather than green, because of his eyes. Look at the little bee on the pocket!”

Rose picked up the little bonnet and jacket. “And look at the knitting. Do you know if she spun her own wool?”

Estella nodded. “From what I’ve heard from Merry’s mum and a few of the older cousins and aunties in Brandy Hall who knew her, she was a wonder with her drop spindle, though sometimes she would buy her yarn as well. Bilbo gave her a spinning wheel for his birthday the year before she died.”

“I wish I could knit,” said Rose. “That’s one thing my own mam didn’t do. Most of our knitted things was made by Aunt Aster.”

“I could teach you. It doesn’t take long to learn the simpler stitches…”

The two were talking as though Sam, Merry and Pippin were not even in the room. Merry, Sam and Pippin kept looking from one to the other as they spoke, and finally Merry cleared his throat.

Estella looked at her husband. “Yes, dear?”

“I’m thinking that Pippin asked you in here to help us decide what to do with these. I think they should go to Rose and Sam…”

“Don’t you think they should stay with family?” Sam put in quickly.

Rose and Estella looked at one another and laughed. “Is *that* all?” said Rose with a grin.

“It isn’t a problem,” said Estella. “Obviously neither of our children could wear the dress nor the jacket and bonnet, Merry. Those are sized for very young infants, and I would think that Rose and Sam will soon have use of them.”

“And,” added Rose, “our Frodo-lad could never fit in that playsuit. But I’m thinking it would still fit your little Perry. And the bib’s meant to go with that, I do suppose. When the new babe outgrows the gown and such, why then we’ll put them away for another--whether you and Estella have another or mayhap when Pippin and Miss Diamond wed and have their own wee bairns, and then we’ll pass them back.”

“That’s what you *do* with baby clothes, after all.” Estella was examining the tiny stitches of the embroidery on the pocket of the playsuit. “Primula probably had put these few aside in the hopes of another child, or maybe these were her favourites. But why do you think there are not more here? These weren’t Frodo’s only clothes. I am quite sure, Merry, that at some point you yourself probably wore some of Frodo’s baby things.”

Sam, Merry and Pippin all looked quite startled. Well, of course hobbits handed around baby clothes--it was only good hobbit sense, but somehow they had not thought of that in the context of *these* baby clothes. They had been Frodo’s after all.

“But,” protested Sam, “they were *Mr. Frodo’s*. What about stains and all?” But his protest sounded weak even to his own ears now.

Rose chuckled warmly, and Estella shook her head, amused.

“Sam, me dear,” said Rose, “do you think that when Mr. Frodo was a baby he never spit up or made messes?”

“We shall take care of that when the time comes, of course,” said Estella. She held up the playsuit. “I think you are right, Rose. This probably would fit little Perry for another month or two.” She picked the little blanket up as well. “Perhaps I’ll try it on him after his nap…in the meantime, I’ll get my needles and wool out of my travelling case and show you how to cast on…” She and Rose left the room, chatting once more as though their husbands and Pippin were not even there.

“So,” said Pippin cheerily, “I suppose *that’s* solved!”

Merry and Sam both looked at one another and then at him, and exchanged a smile. Pippin’s day was coming. He’d learn.

“I could use with a spot of fresh air about now,” said Pippin as he walked toward the door. “Would either of you care to join me?”

“A sniff of air is a grand idea!” said Sam enthusiastically. “Merry?”

Merry smiled at the two of them. “I think some fresh air could do us all some good. It’s not good for a body to be cooped up indoors all day with a box full of memories.”

“And by the time we are finished with our walk, then it will be time for afternoon tea, which is fine with me as I am already starving!” exclaimed Pippin.

“Why does that not surprise me?” said Merry as they made their way outside.
__________________________________
* From “A Long Expected Party,” in the Fellowship of the Ring

End Notes:

Playsuit and bib...
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dress...
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little cap...
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cap with jacket...
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CHAPTER THREE


Luncheon was a simple affair: a rich vegetable soup, a salad of summer greens with mushrooms, and some of the leftover dishes from elevenses --few in number, but enough to admit of variety. The yeasty smell of the honeycakes as they were rising nearly drove Pippin mad.

“We should pop those into the oven for afters,” he said hopefully. Elanor’s face lit up at this suggestion, and then fell as Rose shook her head.

“I don’t think so,” said Merry, as he managed to spear the last of Daisy’s pickles with his fork. He gave an amused look at the quickly hidden disgruntlement on Sam’s face, as the Master of Bag End missed out on the end of his sister’s gift. Teasing Sam wasn’t as much fun as teasing Pippin, who would have quickly protested. He avoided Estella’s glare, and looked at Pippin instead. “Those were made for tea, and tea is when we shall have them.”

“I hope they are as good as I remember them,” said Pippin wistfully. “But even Frodo never made them quite as well as Cousin Bilbo.”

“Mr. Bilbo was a dab hand at the baking,” said Sam reminiscently. “All his breads and cakes and pastries was just lovely and light as feathers! But them honeycakes, now that receipt was something special--he brought that receipt home from his Adventure.”

“Did he?” said Merry curiously. “I never knew that!”

“It’s what he told me one afternoon, when I was not much more than a faunt, afore Mr. Frodo ever came to live here. My Ma was up here doing a bit of spring cleaning like, in preparation for one of Mr. Frodo’s visits, and she’d brought me and Marigold up here to keep an eye on us. She kept Mari in a little sling with her while she worked, but Mr. Bilbo invited me into the kitchen with him, and I sat on the table while he mixed up them honeycakes. He told me he had the receipt of old Beorn. ‘Not, Samwise my lad, the twice-baked honeycakes he gave to us for our journey after we left him, but the nice soft yeasty ones we had with our supper while we were guests in his home.’ That’s just what he told me.”

Little Elanor’s eyes grew very wide. “Daddy! Do you mean the Beorn that turned into a bear and helped Mr. Bilbo and the Dwarves!”

“I do indeed, Elanorelle.”

The other hobbits’ brows rose at this, and all of them now glanced over at the sideboard where the potential treats lay covered with a red-checked tea towel.

“Well,” said Pippin, “as we are not to have them now, I don’t intend to torture myself with the smell of them any longer. I suppose it is time we returned to our task. That box holds a good many things, and we’ve barely begun to sort through them.”


*******

The room was quiet as the three hobbits gathered around the strongbox. Rose and Estella had taken the children outside so that Elanor and Wyn could play while Rose and Estella minded Frodo-lad and little Perry.

“What should we look through next?” Merry asked as he opened the lid once again.

“How about that pouch?” said Pippin, pointing inside the box. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. I wonder where he got it. It’s really pretty.”

“I haven’t seen it before either. It’s not Mum’s work and I don’t recall seeing that pattern made by any of the other Brandybucks, nor does it look store bought,” replied Merry as he lifted the wool pouch out of the box to get a better look at it.

The body of the pouch was made out of wine coloured homespun wool and was about eight inches long and five inches wide. It had a black drawstring closure at the top with a coloured wooden bead on each side of the pouch. There was a clever handle long enough to loop on a hobbit’s belt or carry on a shoulder that ran up one side of the pouch and down the other side, a black tassel at each end.

“Sam? Are you all right?” Pippin put a steadying hand on Sam’s shoulder and looked with concern at his friend.

Sam's normally sunny face had paled and his eyes glistened with tears. He blinked them away. Although he was trying to work his mouth to say something, the only sound coming from him was a tiny whimper from the back of his throat as he tried to breathe.

Merry turned to look at Sam and bolted over to him just in time to help Pippin ease Sam into a chair. “What is it?”

With a visible effort, he finally said, “That’s my Ma's weaving.”

"Ah," said Merry, nodding. He and Pippin exchanged an understanding glance. Sam never spoke of his mother's death, but they suspected that it had hit him quite hard, for she had been rather young to go so quickly.

“She made it for Mr. Frodo back when I was a lad to thank him as he looked after me and kept me from drowning me fool neck once by The Water when she weren’t looking. It gave her such a fright, and my Gaffer were none to happy about it neither, make no mistake.”

“That was very nice of her to make a present for Frodo.” Merry sat in a chair next to Sam and Pippin sat on the sofa, relieved that Sam had found his voice.

“It weren’t just a pouch, mind you. Ma put some of her shortbread biscuits in there, I reckon ‘cause she thought Mr. Frodo were real sweet.” Sam reached for the pouch that Merry still held in his hand and slowly ran his fingers over it.

The colour was beginning to come back into Sam’s face and the ends of his lips even curled up into the faintest hint of a smile. “I remember she made a big fuss of saying as how she wanted to make it ’specially out of wool so as it could absorb any water if it rained and protect whatever Mr. Frodo might put in the pouch. That and wool is real sturdy; it won’t wear in no hurry. It took Ma hours to weave the pouch on her loom. She used one of her own hair ribbons for the drawstring.”

“That was most thoughtful of your mother, Sam,” said Merry.

“Yes, and it was a very nice gift. The pouch looks like it has plenty of wear in it still. Frodo took good care of it,” Pippin added.

“I didn’t even know he kept it all these years,” said Sam. “I clean forgot all about it until just now, but I reckon Mr. Frodo kept it to remember her by.”

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“He always said she was a fine hobbitess,” commented Merry.

“Aye, that she was. And she thought Mr. Frodo were the best behaved tweenaged hobbit as she ever saw!” Sam said. “But Mr. Frodo … Mr. Frodo were real sad when she died, on account of it reminded him of when his own parents died, you see. And he always had a soft spot in his heart for her. I reckon he kept it as a keepsake all this time.” Sam stared pensively at the pouch in his hands and thought a moment. “But why would he put it here in this strongbox with all of his most important treasures?” He looked up at the cousins expectantly.

“Well, that’s just it, Sam,” replied Pippin. “You’re mother was a real treasure.”

“And Frodo never was one to forget someone so special,” added Merry.

A few tears ran down Sam’s cheeks before he was able to check them. “You have the right of it, sirs. I’m glad Mr. Frodo knew that about her.”

“What do you say we see what Frodo thought worthy of keeping in your Mother’s pouch?” Merry asked briskly. “I’m quite certain the shortbread is long gone.”

Sam nodded as he wiped his tears away and offered the pouch back to Merry.

“No, you open it, Sam.”

“It’s only right,” added Pippin.

Sam blushed slightly and then opened the pouch and removed the first item he came to. He held it up so all three of them could get a good look at it. It was a small wooden toy boat that had been painted a bright green on the outside.

Merry and Pippin both chuckled in warm recognition.

“Why, that’s the little boat his father made for him!” exclaimed Pippin.

“He used to let me play with it back when he was still living with us at Brandy Hall!” laughed Merry. “Frodo would give me his boat to play with whenever we went swimming in that little cove. You remember, Pip? Frodo didn't often swim in the River, of course.

Pippin nodded. "That's where both of you taught me. I used to wonder why we didn't go with the other lads." He sighed. "I understood more when I got a bit older."

“I remember seeing that boat here at Bag End after Mr. Frodo moved in with Mr. Bilbo. He used to keep it in his room,” said Sam.

“That’s right!” agreed Pippin. “And he used to let me play with it in the bath!”

Merry snorted, "As if you needed anything to entertain you in the bath!”

“Well, Merry, he used to say it helped me keep more of the water in the tub if I knew the boat needed it to float,” said Pippin.

2. Drawing of boat by gryffinjack Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting



“Mr. Frodo always was a clever hobbit,” Sam chuckled. He held his left hand out and emptied a couple of things from the pouch onto his hand.

“Oh, look! It’s the spinning top and the whistle!” Merry exclaimed. "Drogo made those for him when he was little, too. Mum was always telling us to take the whistle outside if we were going to blow it.”

“Hmm… I remember Frodo would let me play with the spinning top when I was visiting, but I don’t recall him letting me play with the whistle,” said Pippin.

Merry and Sam gave each other a knowing look and chuckled.

“What?” asked Pippin in a hurt tone.

“Nothing. It’s just that you never needed nothing to help you make noise when you was little, Pippin,” replied Sam, trying to hide his grin, even though Merry was still laughing.

Pippin glared at both of them for a moment, but then broke into laughter himself. “I was a rather active lad, wasn’t I?”

“I can hardly wait until you have a lad of your own, Pip,” said Merry, still chuckling. “Perhaps it will have all been worth it then.”

“Here now, what’s that supposed to mean?”

Merry winked at Sam as they both laughed at the Took. “You’ll find out, dear cousin. You’ll find out. But I insist that you take the boat, the spinning top, and especially the whistle.”

“Well, I’ve no time for guessing at your riddles, either one of you,” sniffed Pippin as he put the little treasures to one side. “We’ve got more things to go through. Is that one of Bilbo’s handkerchiefs?” He pulled a bright yellow handkerchief out of the pouch, spilling the rest of the contents onto Sam’s lap.

“It sure looks like it, doesn’t it?” said Sam.

Merry took the handkerchief from Pippin and looked it over quietly. “It’s the first handkerchief Bilbo ever gave to Frodo, when Frodo was still living at the Hall. I used to be quite envious of it. It was a birthday present to Frodo on their birthday. Frodo told me that Bilbo used to always say that Frodo never had a handkerchief when he needed one, so that’s why he got him one on their birthday. Frodo never did fancy yellow as much as other hobbits, but he carried it with him everywhere just to please Bilbo. After Bilbo left, he stopped carrying it. But obviously he kept it anyway."

All three of them smiled. It was so like Frodo to use something he didn't like to please someone else, and then keep it anyway, when he no longer had reason to use it.

“Well, look at this!" exclaimed Merry, reaching onto Sam’s lap and picking up a small flat pasteboard box with a faded picture of a pony on it.

“What is that?” asked Sam.

Merry grinned broadly, his eyes twinkling. “It’s a puzzle!”

“A puzzle?”

“Yes, a jigsaw puzzle of a pony. This is actually mine."

6. Picture of puzzle made by dreamflower02

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Pippin and Sam gave Merry a quizzical look, and Pippin arched a brow. "Yours?"

"Yes. I got it for Yule the year I was five. I don't know how many times I made Frodo help me put it together. We took it apart and put it together over and over for days, and then one day a piece went missing, and I was very upset. So Frodo took the puzzle, and said that since we couldn't finish it, we should do something else for a change. I had no idea he kept it." His eyes narrowed, and suddenly, he tipped the pieces out on the tea table, and quickly manipulated them. All the pieces were there.

"Frodo! You sneak!" He exclaimed indignantly.

Pippin and Sam laughed. "Clever Frodo! He knows how obsessed you get. He must have been heartily tired of that same old puzzle day after day!"

Merry bristled. "Obsessed?"

"Yes!" Pippin exclaimed while Sam nodded at the same time, both of them laughing. After a moment, Merry joined in.

"You may have a point there," he chuckled.

Merry glanced at the remaining items on Sam’s lap. He gaped in surprise at what he saw there. Instantly, he picked an item up and held it before him, studying it closely.

“What is it, Merry?” asked Pippin.

Merry looked closely at the name written in silver on a red ribbon. “I can’t believe it.”

“Merry?” Pippin sidled up next to him to take a look for himself. “First Place - 1379, Buckland Races, swimming - ten to fifteen year olds.”

“I didn’t even know he had ever entered one of the Buckland swimming races!” exclaimed Merry. “All those years we went to the Races and he never told me he had been in one, let alone won one.”

Pippin took the ribbon into his own hand, looked at it closer, and frowned. “1379. He won this before you were ever born, Merry. Just a year before his parents died.”

“I saw that ribbon in Mr. Frodo’s room once when I was about fifteen and asked him about it,” said Sam. “His eyes got that sad and far away look of his, and he just turned and walked right past Mr. Bilbo and me and out the smial without saying a word. Mr. Bilbo, he could see I were that upset about distressing Mr. Frodo and confused about what I’d done to upset him, so he took me aside and explained…”

Sam watched Frodo go outside without a word, closing the front door behind him. He turned wide-eyed toward Bilbo in confusion.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Bilbo! Did I say something wrong?"

Bilbo smiled understandingly at Sam. The poor lad had no idea why talking about that ribbon upset Frodo they way it did.

“Come, Samwise. I have just the thing! How about a nice cup of tea and some seedcake, eh?” The elder hobbit led Sam into the kitchen and began to brew the tea.

“I’m really sorry, Mr. Bilbo,” Sam repeated, not knowing what else to say.

“It’s not your fault, my lad,” said Bilbo as he smiled kindly at Sam and placed the seedcake and a plate before him. “It’s just that he won that ribbon for coming in first place in a swimming contest on the Brandywine River. The very same river that his parents drowned in.”

“Oh, Mr. Bilbo, sir!” gasped Sam in horror. “Poor Master Frodo! No wonder he don’t want to be reminded of it! Samwise, you ninnyhammer!”

“Now, don’t you fret about it, Sam. You had no way of knowing. Having been raised in Buckland, Frodo had been swimming almost since the time he could crawl. He used to tell me how he couldn’t wait until he was old enough to compete in the swimming contest!” laughed Bilbo, a distant smile of the past in his eyes.

The smile vanished as he continued. “By the time Frodo was old enough to enter the races, he was ten years old. Being one of the youngest in the contest, he didn’t do well. But he was happy just the same. Oh, my! You should have seen the look of pride on his face at having completed the course! You see, even though Wedmath was not my usual time to visit at Brandy Hall, I had come specifically to see Frodo compete in the Races. The lad had practically begged me to come and I was powerless to refuse him.” Bilbo’s eyes were twinkling again as he thought of how much he loved his younger cousin.

“But that there ribbon says that he won first place!” interrupted Sam, bringing Bilbo back from his thoughts.

“What? Oh, so it does,” began Bilbo as he poured the tea and scraped some of the white sugar off the cone wrapped in light blue paper and into Sam’s cup. “He won the ribbon the following year. I was there again, at Frodo’s request… I’ve never seen Frodo so happy and proud.” Bilbo gazed out the kitchen window toward the sad figure that stood solitary in the front garden. “That was 1379. His parents drowned in the River the following year in 1380.”

Sam practically choked on his sip of tea and quickly put the cup back down. “1380? Why, that's the very year I were born, Mr. Bilbo!”

Bilbo turned toward him. “Was it really? Well, I don’t think their deaths had anything to do with your birth, Samwise.”

“I don’t know why it never struck me before as how I was born the same year as poor Master Frodo losing his parents.”

“Well, it’s not the sort of thing we like to dwell upon, is it?” Bilbo said gently, putting another slice of seedcake on Sam’s plate before taking a bite of his own piece.

“I reckon not,” said Sam. “But if that memory brings back sad memories for Master Frodo, why does he keep it where he can see it?”

“Oh, I suppose it has a lot of happy memories for him as well. Not only of winning the race, but of a lovely day spent with his parents, seeing their happy faces. Drogo and Primula were so proud of Frodo. I could see it in their beaming faces. So you see, it must have been a special day for Frodo to see that look upon his parents’ faces, too. But to have to tell someone else what the ribbon was for, well, I imagine that comes too close to reliving how soon after he lost them. Because he knows that the first thing someone is going to do as soon as they see the year on the ribbon is comment on how he lost his parents the very next year. And the last thing he wants is anyone’s pity.”

Sam could see how Bilbo was right. That had been his very first thought, too, as soon as he had learnt the year that Frodo had won the race. He wondered what it would be like to lose a parent at such an early age. An involuntary shiver ran down his spine at the horrible thought. Sam was so glad that both of his parents were alive and well.


“That was the only time I ever saw that ribbon. I’d never known Mr. Frodo was such a good swimmer before, but it weren’t no surprise, him having been thinner than most lads were, he would have had that much less weight to pull through the water and that much less to weigh him down,” said Sam.

Tears stood in Merry’s and Pippin’s eyes as they thought of their cousin who had never entered a Buckland swimming race in all the years they had known him.

“I wish I’d got to see him win one of those races,” said Merry. “I’d have liked to see him so proud of himself, just once.”

Pippin nodded and handed the ribbon to Merry. “You keep it, Merry. It belongs in Buckland.”

Merry looked up in surprise at his younger cousin, “Oh, no, I couldn’t…”

“It’s only right, Merry,” agreed Sam. “Since you didn’t get to see him race.”

Merry smiled gratefully at them and then carefully placed the ribbon in a pocket of his westkit.

3. Drawing of handkerchief with top, whistle, and ribbon by gryffinjack - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

“What is this?” Merry wrinkled his face up in disgust as he plucked something up out of the storage box with the barest of fingertips and began to examine it. “Pippin! Didn’t you have enough mushrooms at luncheon? Now look what you’ve done! You’ve dropped one in with Frodo’s things!”

Pippin had just opened his mouth to object when Sam spoke first.

“Begging your pardon, Merry, but that there mushroom is not from luncheon.”

”Well, how else could it have got in here?”

“I don’t rightly know, but that mushroom is old and wrinkled. It looks like it’s seen many a summer,” Sam replied.

“Twenty-one summers to be precise,” Pippin replied. He lifted his chin up in the air and grinned, his green eyes twinkling with satisfaction as Sam and Merry both turned to look incredulously at the smug Took. Pippin pointed to a spot on the wrinkled mushroom and replied, “I was there. Look!”

Upon closer inspection, Merry and Sam saw that there were initials carved into the cap of the mushroom.

“PT, FB” Sam read.

“Peregrin Took, Frodo Baggins,” Pippin interpreted happily. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that mushroom.”

Merry screwed his face up and faced his younger cousin, “Would you care to explain why Frodo would have kept an old wrinkled mushroom, and why it would have your initials on it?”

“It’s to commemorate Frodo’s and my first walking trip together!”

“Pippin! You and I went walking before that!” exclaimed Merry.

“Well, yes we did,” admitted Pippin. “But I said Frodo and I. You were not there. You were sick with hay fever back in Buckland.”

Sam gave an amused look at Merry before returning his gaze to Pippin. “Go on then, Pippin. I want to hear about this.”

Merry pursed his lips and leant forward curiously with his arms crossed. It wasn’t often he learnt of something involving Pippin and Frodo that he didn’t already know.

“Well, remember Merry, the summer I was fourteen? We’d all three met at the Great Smials for the Lithedays as usual, but instead of coming back to Whitwell with me, you’d had to return to Buckland.”

“Ah yes, I remember. Grandmother Menegilda had one of her bad turns, and Da was worried and then I had hay fever. So I didn’t make my usual Afterlithe visit. I was going to come back in Wedmath…”

Pippin nodded. “Frodo, on the other hand was not especially in any hurry to get back here. So it was just Frodo and me. When Frodo asked me what I wanted to do one day, I took one look outside and saw that it was a fine summer’s day and told him that I thought it would be grand if we could go on a real adventure, like he used to go on with Bilbo…”

”But we’ve gone on walking trips before, Pippin,” said Frodo.

“Not alone we haven’t,” Pippin replied. “We’ve only gone with Merry … or Bilbo.” He added the last part softly, a note of uncertainty in his voice as to whether he should mention it. The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Frodo. “But we’ve never gone just the two of us, like you’ve done with Merry.”

“Merry’s older than you.”

“Yes, and he always will be,” Pippin pointed out. “But I’m at least a year older now than Merry was the first time you took him alone on a walking trip! Besides, it’s good weather now (and Father said it’s likely to hold for at least a week. I promise I’ll do everything you tell me to do, even cleaning the fish. Please, Frodo! Can’t we go?”

Frodo raised an eyebrow and looked at his younger cousin’s pleading face with amusement.

“All right, dearest, but I don’t want any complaints if you get tired,” Frodo said, ruffling Pippin’s curls.

“Oh, thank you, Frodo! You’ll see! I won’t be any trouble at all!” Frodo grunted as a young teen grabbed him tightly in a hug.

Pippin was as good as his word and did not complain once. Despite agreeing to Pippin’s request, Frodo still didn’t want to go that far with Pippin. He was still a bit slight for his age and Paladin and Eglantine would never forgive him if anything happened to their son. In the end, Frodo decided that they would go to Pincup, carefully avoiding Tuckborough as they entered the Green Hills, since Pippin would certainly have objected to Frodo taking him back home.

Sam’s prediction had been correct as usual and the fair weather held throughout the trip. Frodo had to admit, he was glad to go on another walking trip, it had been far too long since his last one. And Pippin really was old enough now to be good company and not complain about getting tired.

As they walked along the path the first day of their adventure, they sang some of their favourite walking songs, mostly ones that Bilbo had written, Pippins sweet young voice mixing with Frodo’s rich, deeper tones. When they had tired of singing, they played a game that Frodo always played with Merry or Pippin when they went walking: spot the wildlife. It was a game Bilbo had played with Frodo when he was a lad.

By mid-afternoon, Pippin had spotted three squirrels, a robin, and a rabbit hopping along. Even though they had not yet even come to the Green Hills, Pippin sighed as he stared around him, intent on finding more wildlife. Frodo knew that what Pippin really wanted to find was a deer in the woods. It was always the same way.

“Perhaps we should sing again,” Frodo suggested.

“All right!” Pippin smiled cheerfully. One thing Frodo and Merry both knew was that the easiest way to cheer Pippin up was to suggest that he sing.

One hundred apple pies, cooling on the sill,
Snatch one down
To eat our fill…

“Pippin,” Frodo interrupted.

“Yes?”

“Not that song, please.”

“All right, Frodo.” They walked along the road in silence for a few minutes. Soon, Frodo heard Pippin humming, which soon became singing again.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can…

Pippin looked carefully at Frodo. Although he was certain Frodo would not have any objection to this song, he wanted to be certain not to be a bother on their adventure.

But this was one of Bilbo’s songs. Frodo was smiling and soon joined his voice with Pippin’s.

And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say. *

“Well, you’d better be able to say whither the path goes, Frodo Baggins, or we shall become lost!” Pippin quipped after they finished the song.

As they continued making their way through the Green Hills and Pincup, they continued to sing. This walking trip was turning out to be everything Pippin had hoped for.

“I’m glad we came this way, Frodo. This way, I won’t have to clean any fish!” the young Took exclaimed happily as they ambled the Green Hills. “Although, I don’t know so much as I’d mind cleaning them just now. I am feeling a bit peckish!”

Frodo gave Pippin a pointed look, but there was a hint of a smile at the corner of his mouth.

“Not that I’m complaining!” Pippin added quickly. “I just mean, we didn’t stop for afternoon tea and the sun’s starting to set, so I thought we might want to stop for dinner now so we can get a few more hours of walking in under the stars.”

“Very tactful of you, Pip,” Frodo laughed, slipping his rucksack off by some rocks that would serve well to control their cook fire.

“I thought so!” Pippin agreed readily with a huge grin as he slipped his rucksack off next to Frodo’s. “What can I do to help?”

Frodo looked around their surroundings and motioned to a patch of the woods where there were some smaller fallen branches. “You can gather the firewood while I start getting the food out and make the pit.”

“I’ll get it straight away! And I’m going to find us some mushrooms, too!” Pippin exclaimed.

Before Frodo had even opened one of their rucksacks, Pippin dashed off to gather the wood. He had only been gone about ten minutes when he returned with his arms weighed down by enough wood to make five cook fires.

“Will this be enough?” the teen asked.

“That will be plenty, dearest!” Frodo chuckled in response.

“Good!” Pippin dropped the firewood near the pit that Frodo had made and then dug into the pocket of his breeches. “Look what I found!” he said proudly, holding out his hands.

“Mushrooms!” exclaimed Frodo, who began salivating at the sight of the tasty morsels. “What a good lad!”

Pippin’s face glowed as he basked in Frodo’s approval.

“They’re all safe to eat – I’ve seen them plenty of times when I’ve gone mushrooming with Pearl. But look what else I found!” Pippin dropped the mushrooms into Frodo’s hands and rummaged in his pocket once again. “Writing mushrooms! At least, that’s what Pearl says they’re called.” Pippin held two long-stemmed medium sized tawny coloured mushrooms in his hands for Frodo’s inspection.

“So they are! That’s what Bilbo always called them as well,” said Frodo. He put the little button mushrooms Pippin had already given to him down in the pot he had taken out and took the writing mushrooms from Pippin.

“Pearl says they are rare.”

“She’s correct. At least, here in the Shire. And did Pearl also show you what to do with them?”

Pippin nodded enthusiastically. “She said you can write anything you want on the caps of the mushrooms and then put them in a safe, dry place to dry and when they dry, whatever you wrote on them will still be there on the cap, forever and ever.”

“That’s right! So what would you like to write on them?” Frodo asked. “It can’t be that long, there’s not that much room on the caps.”

Pippin thought for a moment. Finally, he smiled.

“What about our initials? That’s short enough, isn’t it? And then we can always remember this adventure that we shared – just the two of us! And look! I got two of them – one for you and one for me, so we can each keep one.”

“Why, that’s a fine idea, Pippin!? Frodo hugged his little cousin warmly, careful not to squish the mushrooms. He handed Pippin a small twig with which to carve their initials.

“I think you ought to do it, Frodo. Your handwriting is neater than mine.”

“All right, Pippin. I’ll do the writing,” Frodo chuckled.

He handed one of the mushrooms back to Pippin and carefully held the other one up to find the best spot on the mushroom to write on. The corners of his mouth rose as he looked again at Pippin, who was anxiously looked on.

Frodo held the small twig and carefully carved on the first mushroom, “PT” and looked at the proud grin on his cousin, knowing that the lad would be glad his initials were listed first. Below the “PT,” he added “FB.”

“That’s perfect!” Pippin exclaimed. “Now do the other one!”

Only after both mushrooms were carved with the exact same thing did they begin to prepare their dinner of lentil and mushroom soup with some rosemary griddle bread.


“We agreed that we would each keep one of the mushrooms so we would never forget the first time we went on adventure, just the two of us. I still have my mushroom, but I forgot all about seeing what happened with Frodo’s,” Pippin explained, gently turning the mushroom over in his fingers, not even bothering to wipe the tears away from his eyes.

Merry and Sam were both misty-eyed as well.

“That were a beautiful story, Mr. Pippin,” Sam commented, too choked up to remember not to use the “Mr.”.

Merry nodded, unable to say anything for a moment. Finally, he said, “Why don’t you keep Frodo’s mushroom, Pippin. It’s only right. Keep the two of them together.”

It was Sam’s turn to nod now. “Mr. Frodo would like that.”

4. Drawing of mushroom by gryffinjack
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Pippin gave them a thin, watery smile and carefully placed the mushroom in the breast pocket of his weskit. Then he reached out and picked up the blanket.

“So, what’s in the blanket then, Merry?” Pippin poked at it curiously. “I think I know…”

“So do I. But open it up anyway.”

Pippin untied the ribbon that was around the blanket, and drew the folds away. “Baby clothes! Just as I thought!”

Merry and Sam looked at the tiny clothes: a long white dress, such as was worn by both lads and lasses as infants; a white knitted bonnet and a matching jacket; a small playsuit the colour of bluebells--it had a bumblebee embroidered on the little pocket; and a little bib, also embroidered with bumblebees. And of course the blanket itself, knitted of two strands of soft cream-coloured wool with fringe on each end.

“Blue?” said Pippin, puzzled. Pale green was the usual colour for hobbit lads, and pale yellow for the lasses.

Merry shrugged, too caught up in his thoughts at the moment to give more of an answer. Frodo had worn these tiny garments. Putting away his sad thoughts, he looked at Sam. “Well, Sam, it’s perfect timing--you’ve a babe on the way, and here are some baby clothes.”

Sam drew back in horror. “I could never! Those was Mr. *Frodo’s*!”

“I know that, Sam. And Frodo made you his heir. So they belong to you.”

“But his mum made those, I’m sure!”

“I’m sure she did as well. She was known for her needlework, I’m told. That means they will be very well made.”

“But they ought to go to you. Or to … to Pippin for when he weds!”

“They’ll be of no use to Estella and me. We’ve a lass and a lad, and no mind to have more.”

Pippin and Sam looked at him dubiously. That had the sound of tempting fate. But they said nothing about it. Instead, Pippin protested, “And I’m not even *married* yet! As Merry said, you’ve another babe coming, and you and Rosie will probably fill this hole to the rafters!”

“Pip!” said Merry sharply.

Pippin’s cheeks blushed a fiery red as he realised what he’d said. “Well,” he mumbled, “you know what I mean!”

Sam shook his head stubbornly, and retreated to the only thing that kept coming to his mind. “Those was Mr. Frodo’s as a babe.”

Merry and Pippin looked at one another helplessly. Sam in this mood could be every bit as stubborn as a Baggins. Or a Took. Or a Brandybuck. Or all three rolled into one.

Merry tried appealing to Sam’s practicality. “Sam, what’s the point of them just being kept until they rot away? Frodo would *want* them to be used, I’m sure.”

Sam just set his face.

Pippin and Merry exchanged a helpless glance, and then Pippin stood up. “I know how to resolve this.”

Sam and Merry stared at him as he went to the study door and opened it. Their expressions turned to alarm as Pippin called: “Estella! Rose! Would you please come in here a moment? We need your opinions.”

He turned back to Sam and Merry with a smirk. Both of them glared at him.

Estella and Rose entered the room. “What is it, Pip?” said Estella. She and Rose were trying to take advantage of the children’s naps to have a nice chat and a cup of tea.

“Look!” Pippin said, pointing to where the little garments lay, atop the blanket on the settee next to Merry.

“Oh!” said Rose. “They’re beautiful!”

5. Pictures of the baby clothes made by dreamflower02

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Estella went over, and her eyes widened in surprise, and then she bit her lip. She knew whose work this was, and it made her think briefly of the nature of tragedy. “This is some of Primula’s work.” She picked up the tiny white dress, and examined the pin tucks at the hem. “Mother Esme has told me that Frodo’s mother had a real gift with any kind of needlework.” She put the dress down and took up the bib. “How sweet! See the bumblebees? Esmeralda told me that Primula used to put little bees on things she would make for her family--for Baggins and Brandybuck.” Estella picked up the little playsuit. “And how she made baby Frodo’s things in blue rather than green, because of his eyes. Look at the little bee on the pocket!”

Rose picked up the little bonnet and jacket. “And look at the knitting. Do you know if she spun her own wool?”

Estella nodded. “From what I’ve heard from Merry’s mum and a few of the older cousins and aunties in Brandy Hall who knew her, she was a wonder with her drop spindle, though sometimes she would buy her yarn as well. Bilbo gave her a spinning wheel for his birthday the year before she died.”

“I wish I could knit,” said Rose. “That’s one thing my own mam didn’t do. Most of our knitted things was made by Aunt Aster.”

“I could teach you. It doesn’t take long to learn the simpler stitches…”

The two were talking as though Sam, Merry and Pippin were not even in the room. Merry, Sam and Pippin kept looking from one to the other as they spoke, and finally Merry cleared his throat.

Estella looked at her husband. “Yes, dear?”

“I’m thinking that Pippin asked you in here to help us decide what to do with these. I think they should go to Rose and Sam…”

“Don’t you think they should stay with family?” Sam put in quickly.

Rose and Estella looked at one another and laughed. “Is *that* all?” said Rose with a grin.

“It isn’t a problem,” said Estella. “Obviously neither of our children could wear the dress nor the jacket and bonnet, Merry. Those are sized for very young infants, and I would think that Rose and Sam will soon have use of them.”

“And,” added Rose, “our Frodo-lad could never fit in that playsuit. But I’m thinking it would still fit your little Perry. And the bib’s meant to go with that, I do suppose. When the new babe outgrows the gown and such, why then we’ll put them away for another--whether you and Estella have another or mayhap when Pippin and Miss Diamond wed and have their own wee bairns, and then we’ll pass them back.”

“That’s what you *do* with baby clothes, after all.” Estella was examining the tiny stitches of the embroidery on the pocket of the playsuit. “Primula probably had put these few aside in the hopes of another child, or maybe these were her favourites. But why do you think there are not more here? These weren’t Frodo’s only clothes. I am quite sure, Merry, that at some point you yourself probably wore some of Frodo’s baby things.”

Sam, Merry and Pippin all looked quite startled. Well, of course hobbits handed around baby clothes--it was only good hobbit sense, but somehow they had not thought of that in the context of *these* baby clothes. They had been Frodo’s after all.

“But,” protested Sam, “they were *Mr. Frodo’s*. What about stains and all?” But his protest sounded weak even to his own ears now.

Rose chuckled warmly, and Estella shook her head, amused.

“Sam, me dear,” said Rose, “do you think that when Mr. Frodo was a baby he never spit up or made messes?”

“We shall take care of that when the time comes, of course,” said Estella. She held up the playsuit. “I think you are right, Rose. This probably would fit little Perry for another month or two.” She picked the little blanket up as well. “Perhaps I’ll try it on him after his nap…in the meantime, I’ll get my needles and wool out of my travelling case and show you how to cast on…” She and Rose left the room, chatting once more as though their husbands and Pippin were not even there.

“So,” said Pippin cheerily, “I suppose *that’s* solved!”

Merry and Sam both looked at one another and then at him, and exchanged a smile. Pippin’s day was coming. He’d learn.

“I could use with a spot of fresh air about now,” said Pippin as he walked toward the door. “Would either of you care to join me?”

“A sniff of air is a grand idea!” said Sam enthusiastically. “Merry?”

Merry smiled at the two of them. “I think some fresh air could do us all some good. It’s not good for a body to be cooped up indoors all day with a box full of memories.”

“And by the time we are finished with our walk, then it will be time for afternoon tea, which is fine with me as I am already starving!” exclaimed Pippin.

“Why does that not surprise me?” said Merry as they made their way outside.
__________________________________
* From “A Long Expected Party,” in the Fellowship of the Ring

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After Tea by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

The Author's Notes at the end this time consist of the full texts of the letters referred to in this chapter.

There are also references to my story "Cousin Calla"

The story of Pippin's lamb was completely the idea of Gryffinjack, as was the idea behing the "Perry-the-Winkle" joke.




CHAPTER FOUR

AFTER TEA



A breath of fresh air and some afternoon tea with their families proved to be just what Sam, Merry, and Pippin needed. They went back to the strongbox curious to find out more about the things Frodo had kept for all these years.

Merry cast an eye on the letters from his parents and grandparents that he had put to one side. While he wished to examine those, it was clear that Pippin and Sam were still interested in some of the other objects that were in the strongbox besides just letters and documents, and truth to tell, he wasn’t sure he wanted to tackle the letters this late in the day after all.

Sam was carefully moving aside another stack of letters to reveal a few more items. He lifted out a pipe--it had a long stem, and was a bit larger than most hobbit pipes. He smiled.

“Remember this?” he asked.

Pippin reached for the pipe. “I don’t think I ever saw Frodo with this one!”

Merry shook his head, and smiled rather wistfully as well. “No, that was Frodo’s first pipe, and he wasn’t really allowed to smoke it very often. Poor old Balin!”

“Balin?” Pippin sounded puzzled. What did Gimli’s cousin have to do with it?

Sam nodded. “That pipe were his gift to Mr. Frodo. I know you’ve been told about when Mr. Bilbo adopted Mr. Frodo. Gandalf was here, and Balin as well.”

Merry nodded. “The day after Frodo’s Adoption Party, Gandalf and Balin got ready to leave. Balin I think, had some important things to do…

Merry swung his feet, as he busily ate his first breakfast. His mum and da were still asleep in their guest room, but he and Frodo had wakened early and had a lovely tickle fight, before they washed and dressed and came to the kitchen. Bilbo was laying the table, and the smell of scones and porridge made Merry’s tummy rumble.

Gandalf was already seated on the floor by the table, and Balin was in the chair he’d been occupying for meals since his arrival.

Frodo busied himself with fetching the jam and honey from the larder and the milk and the butter from the cold cellar. As he came back out into the kitchen from the cellar, he paused by the back door.

“What’s this?” he asked. He looked over at the two guests. “Are you leaving?”

Merry’s gaze followed Frodo’s, and he noticed the large packs, and Gandalf’s staff, which were placed on the floor by the back door.

“Yes, Frodo,” said Gandalf. “It is time for us to be on our way.”

Merry felt his heart sink a little. He really liked the big Wizard, with his rumbly booming voice and his kind, twinkling eyes, and the Dwarf with his store of tales about Cousin Bilbo’s Adventure, so different than the ones Cousin Bilbo told himself.

Bilbo placed bowls of porridge on the table, and then attended to the teakettle. “It’s been very pleasant having you here,” he said. “I shall hate to see you leave.” He poured out the tea putting only a little in Merry’s cup, which Frodo topped off with milk and honey. Merry smiled up at his cousin as Frodo stirred it for him.

“Well, I am glad to have seen you, Bilbo,” said Balin, “but as I told you, I’ve a venture of some importance to see to, and I must be on my way. I’ve stayed already a bit longer than I meant to.”

Gandalf shook his head. “You know my opinion on this idea of yours.”

“Yes, yes,” said the Dwarf impatiently, “how you do go on about it. But I am sure the time is right.”

All the food was on the table, and Bilbo sat down now as they all ate. “I put cinnamon in the porridge…” started Bilbo, in an attempt to put the conversation on to the food, where it belonged.

But, Merry supposed, Big Folk must not care as much about being proper, because the Wizard and the Dwarf carried on their previous conversation, and Bilbo just sighed and rolled his eyes.

“I do wish that you would listen to me, old friend,” said Gandalf, “but heeding my advice is not something that Dwarves seem inclined to do.” He sounded a bit cross, thought Merry.

“This strawberry jam was put up by Bell Gamgee…” Bilbo tried again.

Gandalf chuckled. “Balin, we are reproved for our manners. The jam is delightful, Bilbo, as are the scones,” and he reached his long arm for another one.

When they had finished eating, it was time to say farewell. Gandalf and the Dwarf took up their packs, and Bilbo, Frodo and Merry followed them outside.

“I shall go see to the horse and cart,” said Gandalf, and he strode off on his long legs.

The Gaffer and Sam were busy in the herb bed, as the gardener was thinning out some scallions.

“Master Hamfast,” said Bilbo, “would you spare young Samwise to say farewell to our guests,”

Hamfast had shaken his head resignedly. “Go along wi’ ye, Sam, and mind your manners.”

They followed Balin around the side of the smial to the front path, and down to the gate, where Gandalf came rumbling up with the huge horse and cart.

“Well,” said Bilbo, “I don’t suppose I shall see either of you for a while. Perhaps, Balin, in a few years, Frodo and I shall come visit you in your new home.”

Balin nodded, and then said “I nearly forgot!” He fumbled in his pack, and then brought out one of his pipes. “Frodo, my lad, I wished to give you a gift to mark the occasion of your adoption.” He handed the pipe to Frodo, whose eyes grew perfectly huge.

Frodo cast a look at Bilbo for permission, and at the older hobbit’s encouraging nod, said “Thank you very much, Master Balin! I shall treasure it!”

Merry and Sam stared enviously. It would be many years before either of them could smoke a pipe.

“Well,” said Gandalf gruffly, “come along, Master Dwarf!”

And Balin clambered into the cart, and they drove off to waves from all three of the young hobbits and Bilbo.

“That’s that, then,” said Bilbo briskly. “Come along, Frodo, Merry! We’ve the washing up to see to. Sam, I’m sure your father needs your help now!”


“I was sorry to see them go,” said Merry, “but none of us realised we’d never see Balin again. It wasn’t till after Moria that I realised just where he had been planning to go that spring.”

“I know,” said Sam. “He should have listened to Mr. Gandalf.”

Pippin sighed, and looked at the sad expressions Merry and Sam wore. Although he had been told before that Gandalf and Balin had visited Frodo at the time, it had never really sunk in before. Why, no wonder Frodo had sounded so sad in Moria--and Merry and Sam must have felt it too, having met the Dwarf. He turned the pipe over and over in his hands.

Sam looked at it. “Do you suppose Gimli would like to have it?”

“Yes,” said Merry, “that’s an excellent idea, Sam. You should put it aside for the next time he visits.”

Sam set the pipe Frodo got from poor Balin aside and then the three of them continued to look through the strongbox.

“Why, look! Frodo kept his sheep all these years!” declared Pippin, holding it aloft.

Merry took a small stuffed toy out of his cousin’s hand and examined it. It was still very fluffy, with a black face, ears, and hooves and a cream coloured body. “It’s still in pretty good shape, even after all those times we played with it here at Bag End. Of course, little Wyn and Perry each have one of their own. I make sure I keep my little lamb safely away from them so it comes to no harm.”

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“Begging your pardon, but what about the sheep?” Sam asked, looking perplexed.

Merry and Pippin grinned at each other and Merry nodded for Pippin to explain.

“Well, as you know, my parents lived on the farm in Whitwell before Father became Thain. One of the things we did on the farm was herd sheep. Every Took or kin of the Tooks born is given a toy woolen sheep just like this one as a Naming Day present from my parents. Mother makes them all herself using fleece from our sheep.”

“Mum told me once when I had misplaced it that this had been Frodo’s favourite toy when he was a faunt. She said he used to carry it around with him wherever he went and would say ‘baa,’ as if he were a sheep,” said Merry.

They all paused and chuckled as they tried to imagine Frodo as a little faunt, walking all around Brandy Hall ‘baaing’ like a sheep.

“I could always tell mine apart from his when he was still living at Brandy Hall. Besides his having a black face, mine has grey eyes and Frodo’s has blue.”

“That was right kind of your ma to make all them sheep for all of your kin! I take it that your sheep has green eyes then, Pippin?” Sam asked.

Pippin turned to look at him. “It did,” he answered sadly.

“You didn’t save yours like Mr. Frodo and Merry?”

Merry grinned and looked at his cousin mischievously. “Go on then. Tell him.”

Pippin looked bashfully down at his furry feet, the tips of his ears turning crimson. “I … I lost mine.”

“You lost your sheep that your very own ma made for you?”

Pippin nodded.

“Tell him how, Pip.” Pippin glared at his cousin; Merry sounded a bit too smug to him.

“I … I set it free. When I was little, still at Whitwell. I thought it would like to run free with the rest of the herd instead of being cooped up in my room so I took it outside and put it in the middle of the herd. I felt so proud of myself. But then one of our sheepdogs, a lovely black and white fellow named ‘Dickon,’ well, he herded the sheep over to the shearing pen, and when he did so, the sheep … well, they …”

“They trampled right over Pippin’s little toy sheep!” grinned Merry. “I told you not to do it!”

Sam looked stunned. The poor sheep! “But couldn’t you rescue it?”

“Well, I suppose I could have, but by the time the sheep had all cleared and gone into the pen, Dickon came along and grabbed my stuffed sheep and took off with it. I never found it after that.” Pippin looked so sad that Sam came up with an idea how to put things to rights.

Sam took Frodo’s sheep out of Merry’s hands and firmly placed it into Pippin’s hand, making his meaning clear, and sighed. Mr. Frodo ‘baaing’ like his black-faced sheep. Merry had a little lamb. And little lad Pip had lost his sheep and didn’t know where to find it. They all had wool in their heads. It was enough to make Sam glad he was born a Gamgee.

Sam looked to see what else remained in the box, to find a distraction from this discussion about toy sheep.

“What are these?” Sam asked curiously. He had two slim volumes, bound in blue leather in his lap and was thumbing through them. There were a couple of others next to him, identical. “It doesn’t look like Mr. Frodo’s work--and here’s one of Mr. Frodo himself as a young lad, if my eyes don‘t deceive me.”

Merry took the book from Sam, and flipped through it. “Why these must be Cousin Calla’s sketchbooks! She left these to Frodo; he was her student at the Hall.”

“Cousin Calla?” asked Pippin. “I'm not sure I remember her.” He put down the bundle of letters that looked to have been from Bilbo, and leaned over to look.

“No, she fell ill of a wasting sickness not long after Frodo came to live with Bilbo. She became rather a recluse after that, hiding away in her rooms at Brandy Hall, and seldom seeing anyone. She died the very year Grandda did.* She was--let’s see--my sixth--hmm…Frodo’s fourth cousin, three times removed, and rather well-known as an artist, even outside of Buckland.” Merry reached over to the side table, and picked up the framed document which had been carefully placed right on top of everything in the strongbox--Drogo and Primula‘s marriage contract. “This is some of her work, at least the borders and illuminations. I am not sure if she did the text or not, but the artwork is definitely hers.”

The three hobbits glanced through the sketchbooks, which also seemed to have served as journals as well. There were several sketches of a young Frodo. And there were some loose sketches tucked in as well.

“Look at this!” cried Sam, “This is Mr. Frodo’s work! I wonder when he made it? I don’t remember it!”

It was a charcoal sketch of a small child, just out of faunthood, perhaps five or six years of age. He was looking up shyly, with a sunny smile, and he had a trowel in his hand and a smudge of dirt on his brow.

Pippin laughed. “Why, that’s you, Sam!”

Merry chuckled. “So it is! Since it’s in Cousin Calla’s journal, I would suppose it is one he did for her in a lesson--he probably did it from memory after coming home to Buckland from a visit here one spring!” Merry studied it carefully for a moment. “I think that these journals could go back to Brandy Hall--but would you like to keep the sketch, Sam?”


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Sam took it, and shook his head in amazement. “I’d be glad of it, Merry. Do you know, I sometimes wondered if Mr. Frodo ever thought about me at all when he’d go home to his kin.”

Merry smiled at Sam. “I’m surprised you would ever doubt it, Sam! And now you have the proof of it in your hands.”

Pippin stood up restlessly, the small sheep that had belonged to Frodo still in his hands. Merry and Sam were still looking through Cousin Calla’s sketchbooks, exclaiming over pictures of Frodo when he was small. Sometimes--not often, but sometimes--Pippin felt a bit left out to hear of Frodo’s life before he was born. Merry and Sam had shared so much more of Frodo’s life, and most of the time he loved to hear about it, would even ask for it. But when he was missing his Baggins cousin as much as he was now, he occasionally thought how unfair it was that he did not have as many memories of Frodo.

He stopped at the old desk beneath the window overlooking the front garden. Once it had been Bilbo’s, then Frodo’s, and now, Pippin supposed, Sam’s. It looked the same as it had when Frodo lived there--his desk set and various pens and penholders all lined up across the back. A good many of those had come from him. There was the oliphaunt ivory set he and Merry had found in Minas Tirith, and there was the fancy glass inkpot Pippin had given Frodo on his twelfth birthday, and there was the beautifully carved oak box, made especially for holding pens that Pippin had given Frodo on his twentieth birthday. It had curved slots inside to hold the pens. Pippin lifted the lid: there were arrayed the numerous pens he’d given Frodo over the years--a pen or some sort of writing implement or accessory had been his gift to Frodo ever since he was five. There they were, arrayed across the bottom of the box, from the cherry penholder with the brass nib that he’d given Frodo the year he‘d turned twenty-eight, to the pen made of beaten copper, to the silverpoint stylus, to--where was it? Where was the blue glass pen he’d given to Frodo when he was five? It had always stayed in that first slot, ever since Frodo had the box.

“Sam?”

Sam looked up from the sketchbook. “What is it Pippin?”

“Do you know where the glass pen is? The one I gave Frodo?”

Merry looked annoyed at the interruption, and then puzzled.

Sam shook his head. “I don’t use any of Mr. Frodo’s special pens.”

“Sam!” said Merry reproachfully.

“No, no, Merry--it’s not that I don’t think I should. But I don’t write too comfortable with anything but a good old-fashioned goose quill. Mr. Bilbo showed me how to cut ‘em, you know, and he allus preferred a quill to the fancier pens Mr. Frodo liked.”

“Well,” said Pippin, “it’s not here where he always kept it. I hope it did not break after all these years.”

Sam shook his head. “It was one of his favourites. He was using it to make lists with right up to the day before he left.”

Pippin ran a finger through the empty slot, his mind racing. Suddenly, he grinned. “He took it.” He laughed delightedly. “Frodo took it with him!” For some reason, Pippin was suddenly and absolutely certain of that, and it made him happier than he had been since they had begun to go through the box.

Merry met his eyes, and nodded. “I don’t doubt but that you are right, Pip.” He bit his lip, and looked once more at the strongbox. “Maybe not everything that was special to Frodo is in here. He probably did take a few things with him.”

The three of them looked at one another with dawning wonder. Of course he would have.

Merry put aside the sketchbooks. It was comforting to know that Frodo had taken a few mementoes with him--that he had not had to abandon everything that was special to him when he left. Well, if Frodo had taken the pen Pippin gave him, he was bound to have taken something from Merry as well. He wondered what it might have been.

Now Merry thought he might at last be able to get the attention of Sam and Pippin onto the letters he had kept safely by his side. He glanced through some of them, and then picked up one that had his grandmother’s spidery old-fashioned handwriting on the envelope. He took it out and opened the faded paper.

“Oh,” he said, swallowing.

“What is it, Merry?” asked Pippin, who still had not sat down again, but came to look over his cousin’s shoulder. “Oh.” He came around and sat down once more.

Sam looked up with a puzzled glance, and Merry began to read:

"Brandy Hall
Buckland
1 Thrimidge, S.R. 1380

My dear Bilbo,

There is no easy way to soften this news: last night Primula and Drogo were out boating upon the River. It is not known how it happened, but there was an accident to the boat. Both Primula and Drogo drowned.

Young Frodo fortunately was not with them when it occurred, and so was safe. However, he somehow escaped his minders, and was present when his parents' bodies were raised this afternoon. He became hysterical, and the healer had to give him a calming draught.

I am writing because Rory and Saradoc are completely distraught, and the Hall is in chaos. The funeral is in four days. I rely on you to pass the news to Dudo, Dora and other such Baggins relations as may wish to attend the funeral.

However, the Sackville-Bagginses will not be welcome in Buckland under any circumstances. I hold Lobelia responsible for this tragedy! It was her malicious ill-will that caused this, I am sure.

Please come at once, Bilbo. Rory needs you, and so does little Frodo.

Affectionately,

Menegilda Brandybuck"



Merry shook his head. "Grandmother always did blame Lobelia for Aunt Primula's death, you know."

Pippin bit his lip. This was a tale he had not known until fairly recently, but Sam nodded.

"On account of Missus Lobelia bringing a gift to the wedding when Mr. Frodo's parents were married," he said sagely.

"That's right. You know, Bucklanders set a lot of store by that particular superstition, and Grandmother more than most. She could never bear to be around the S.-B.s after that, and she never did want Frodo to come to Hobbiton on that account. Even when he visited Bilbo, she always worried about Frodo encountering them."

“There was naught for her to fear when Mr. Frodo was visiting Mr. Bilbo. Any time that them S.-B.s ever tried to poke their heads in Bag End, Mr. Bilbo was always sure to clear them off afore they could be a bother to Mr. Frodo. Very careful of him, Mr. Bilbo was, though he was still worried that them S.-B.s would bother Mr. Frodo when he were off somewhere without Mr. Bilbo,” said Sam.

“You’re right, Sam,” said Merry. His face lit up with a grin at a memory of a certain encounter when he had visited Bag End when he was young. “But I do seem to recall Frodo teaching the S.-B.s a lesson when he punched Lotho in the nose.”

All three of them laughed, as they all enjoyed envisioning Frodo punching Lotho in the nose to protect Merry.

“I reckon your grandmother and Mr. Bilbo never did have no real cause to fret about the S.-B.s and Mr. Frodo,” Sam finally said. “He could take care of himself.”

“Yes, and usually one of those looks from Frodo was all it took for Frodo to make sure the errant hobbit never erred again,” added Pippin as he reached for the next letter. “Here’s one from your mother to Bilbo before you were born,” he said to Merry. He scanned the contents of the letter quickly and broke into a grin. “She mentions *you* in it!”

"Where?"

"Right here," Pippin grinned, and began to read aloud:

"I will not be attending your Birthday this year however. I do not plan to be doing much travelling for the next several months, as sometime in mid-Solmath, Saradoc and I will be expecting the arrival of our first child!

Frodo is doing somewhat better. He is still far too melancholy for his age, and it has been nearly a year and a half since we lost Primula and Drogo. However the knowledge that he would be going to see you in Hobbiton has piqued his interest, and he is very much looking forward to the visit..."



“Bilbo was the only one who could really raise Frodo’s spirits before you were born,” said Pippin quietly.

Merry nodded sadly and looked at his dear mother’s familiar scroll a moment longer before reaching for the next letter. He gasped when he saw the only slightly less familiar handwriting on the envelope.

“This one’s from Grandfather.” He looked at Merry and Pippin for reassurance. They both nodded at him and he removed the letter from the envelope and opened it up hesitantly, but then immediately began to grin once he saw what the letter was about.


Brandy Hall
Buckland
15 Solmath, S.R. 1382

My dearest friend and cousin, Bilbo--

It is with great pride that I announce to you that the Son of the Hall and his wife are delivered of a fine son. He was born yesterday morning at four o' clock in the morning, and immediately began announcing his desire for first breakfast!

Meriadoc weighed three and three-quarter pounds and was ten and one half inches long! A fine strapping lad!

Esmeralda is doing well, although tired, of course, and Saradoc is almost as insufferably pleased with himself. Young Frodo seems to have been quite taken with his new young cousin as well.

I hope very much that you might come across the River for a visit soon and meet my new grandson!

Love,

Your cousin,

Rory Brandybuck



”Three and three-quarter pounds!” exclaimed Pippin. “Goodness, Merry, but you were a big baby! Poor Aunt Esme!”

“I was not big!” Merry snapped back. He was sorry to have snapped back the next moment as the thought of how little Pippin had been when he was born prematurely crossed his mind. “Not so big, at any rate. How big were you when you were born, Sam?”

Sam’s cheeks grew hot with embarrassment at the attention being turned onto him.

“Yes, Sam. How much did you weigh?” asked Pippin curiously. “You couldn’t have been larger than old Merry here!”

Sam’s cheeks reddened even more, especially as Merry and Pippin continued to look at him expectantly for an answer. There was nothing for it but to tell them.

“Four and one-half pounds,” he replied quietly. “But I weren’t near as big as Hamson! He was four and three-quarter pounds!”

Merry’s and Pippin’s eyes grew round as they both gulped.

“I always did admire your mother, Sam,” said Merry.

“Yes. And now I don’t feel quite so sorry for Aunt Esme anymore,” added Pippin. “At least, not because of Merry’s birth weight. Having to put up with him as a son is a different matter all together.”

“Oi!” Merry aimed a cousinly swat at the back of Pippin's head, but Pippin was just a bit too quick for him.

All three of the hobbits were grinning as they happily looked at the next letter.

“This one has to be… “Pippin began as he opened the letter. “It is! It‘s from Frodo himself!”


Brandy Hall
Buckland
16 Solmath, S.R. 1382

Dear Uncle Bilbo,

I have a new cousin! I know that you knew he was coming soon. Well, he was born the day before yesterday. His name is Meriadoc, but I have decided to call him "Merry", for he is such a cheerful baby. When I saw him, I know he smiled at me, although Aunt Esme and Uncle Sara say he is far too little and too young yet to do any such thing. But I know I could feel him smiling. He took hold of one of my fingers and held on tightly, as though he would never let go! He is very strong for such a tiny baby.

I know there have been other baby cousins at the Hall, but this one is very special. I just know it! I hope you will come and see him soon, so then my two most favourite cousins of all can meet!

I miss you very much, Uncle Bilbo!

Love,

Your cousin,

Frodo


“Well, of course, it was you and Bilbo before *I* came along,” Pippin grinned. “Once he got a look at me, of course, *I* was his favourite!”

Merry chuckled. “Certainly, Pippin. Whatever you say Pippin.” Then he winked at Sam. “We humour his delusions, Sam.”

“Oi!” exclaimed Pippin, aiming his own swat at the back of Merry’s head, which his cousin easily ducked.

Shaking his head, Merry took up the next letter. He frowned as he read his father’s letter, an old familiar pain of heartache gripping his middle.

“What is it, Merry?” asked Pippin, pulling a corner of the letter down so that he could read it as well.

Merry swallowed miserably. “Frodo.”

Sam came up on the other side of Merry and the three of them read the letter.

Brandy Hall
Buckland
7 Thrimidge, S.R. 1384

Dear Bilbo,

I thank you so much for promptly informing us of Frodo's whereabouts. We had been frantic at discovering that he was missing, and my father had already ordered dragging the River, fearing the worst.

We were furious to discover what he had done until we read his own letter, and realized how hurt he must have been. I am still a bit upset that he did not feel he could confide in me, however that has never been an easy thing for him to do--I was very angry indeed at Aunt Asphodel and Uncle Rufus. They had no business interfering, nor saying things of that sort to Frodo..."



Merry sighed and shook his head. “I was only an infant of two at the time. But I’ve overheard my parents talking about it often enough since then. That was the first time Frodo came for his annual visit to Bilbo. By the time the visit ended, Bilbo had come to an agreement with my parents and my grandfather, that every spring, Frodo would come to Bag End for two or three months. My grandmother was not happy with the arrangement, but she went along with it. I learned later that it was the first time Bilbo tried to press his claim on Frodo and bring him back here permanently--but mum and Grandmother Gilda kept saying he was still too young, and rather than cause a rift in the family, Bilbo went along with it." Merry bit his lip, and shook his head. It hurt to think that he might have lost Frodo when he was still so young. "If he'd succeeded, well, I don't suppose I'd have realized--but I would have missed out on so much--yet he might have been happier--" suddenly Merry burst into tears. "I'm sorry to be such a misery," he said.

Pippin solemnly and silently embraced Merry, rubbing his back. Sam was wiping his own eyes. "Bless me," he said, "I was still a faunt myself then, but I can remember him that year sitting on the step with this faraway look in his eyes, and thinking he were awful sad. I never really understood how bad he had it, back in Buckland. But Merry, I don't think he would have wanted to miss out on them things he did with you when you was a little lad. When he finally did come to live here, I think almost every other word out of his mouth was 'Merry'."

Merry sniffled, and took the handkerchief Pippin handed him, and blew his nose. "Thank you, Sam. I know I would not give up those memories for the world."

After giving Merry a few minutes to compose himself, Pippin picked up another letter. “That’s from Bilbo…” his voice trailed off, as he looked at the date on the letter. “He wrote it on the day of The Party--just before he left.”

Merry and Sam looked over Pippin’s shoulders, as they read the first few sentences.

"Bag End
22 Halimath, S.R. 1401

My Dear Frodo:

Thirty-three years ago today, your father sent me a letter saying that I had given he and your mother the finest birthday gift I could have ever given them – you. I must say that your father was quite right.

My own adventure lies on a path outside the Shire now. Do not be sad, Frodo; I shall always love you..."


The three of them looked at one another, and Sam shook his head.

“You’re right, Sam. This was private, between the two of them,” said Merry.

Pippin nodded, and replaced it in the envelope very carefully.

They were silent for a moment, and then Merry opened another letter, and then grinned widely.

"Brandy Hall
Buckland
12 Foreyule, S.R. 1401

Dear Frodo,

When are you coming here? I know you are busy with all of your responsibilities now that Bilbo has left, but I need you here to help me manage a certain little Took who is getting under my skin.

I’m glad Aunt Tina brought him here so he does not catch the sickness going around in the Tooklands, but do you know what that cousin of yours is doing? He’s decided that a great way to wake me up every morning is to gather up some of the overnight frost, pat it until it is nice and firm, and then slip it inside my nightclothes – with me still inside them!"


Pippin snorted, and Sam rolled his eyes.

"Once he has me up, he insists on singing 'One hundred apple pies' all day long. Yes, that song!

If that’s not enough to drive any hobbit mad, he has been teasing me mercilessly about liking a certain lass or two, including right in front of the lasses! You would think that a lad with three older sisters would understand how vexing that could be, but not your cousin. Oh, no! It’s as if he was purposely trying to get me to stop paying the lasses any attention.

I dare not complain to Mum or Da or Aunt Tina about it. They might not let him come next year or insist on punishing him, which would all be my fault for not getting him to see reason.

Please, Frodo. You know how he minds you better than anyone else sometimes. I know you couldn’t come back to Buckland after the Birthday *this* year for your autumn visit, but it’s drawing near First Yule and I miss you. It’s no good for you to stay shut inside Bag End all by yourself.

Won’t you come straight away to see your sprout?

Love,

Your cousin,

Merry"



Pippin shook his head and chuckled. "I remember reading that over your shoulder as you wrote it! You made me sound quite dreadful!"

Merry grinned. "Well, I didn't know that after I made up the part about the frost that you would *do* it to me the next morning!"

"I couldn't let you lie, could I?"

"And how I let you talk me into putting in that part about 'sprout' I will never know! I hated for Frodo to call me that when I was that age!"

"It worked, didn't it? I told you Frodo would really feel sorry for you if you put that in! I was right."

"Well, I knew you were right--of course it would have made him feel dreadfully guilty. But that didn't mean I liked it." Merry sighed. "I was rather silly and full of myself at that age you know." It was not until Frodo was gone from any possibility of ever calling him ‘sprout’ again that Merry realised just how much he missed it.

“Well, with as miserable as Frodo was feeling after Bilbo left the Shire, your bruised pride was a small price to pay to make Frodo come to Brandy Hall sooner so he could start to feel happy again.”

“After we made him feel dreadfully guilty first.”

“Right.”

Sam shook his head and chuckled at the two of them. Some things never *changed*.

Pippin lifted his chin, sniffed the air, and grinned. “Mmm! I do believe I smell dinner!” A rumble from the vicinity of his stomach punctuated that observation.

Merry inhaled as well, a look of pure bliss on his face. “Mushroom pie!”

“Glory! That smells like Rosie’s coney stew!” exclaimed Sam, his own stomach beginning to rumble.

All thoughts of the strongbox were put aside as the three hobbits followed their noses straightaway into the kitchen, each of them salivating.

Some things never changed.

xxxxxxx

“That was a delicious meal, Rosie!” Pippin exclaimed, popping a small ball of cheese into his mouth. Ever since he was a lad, it had been Pippin’s habit to roll small bits of cheese up into balls on his plate while filling in the corners.

“Thank you, but your compliment should go to Estella, too. She made the mushroom pie and the roasted vegetables.”

“I should have recognised your cooking! It was delicious as always.”

Estella inclined her head slightly toward Pippin in acknowledgement.

“Very astute of you, Pip,” chuckled Merry. “You almost got yourself landed with doing the dishes.”

“Why, I’d be glad to wash the dishes, Merry!” Pippin said. There was a hint of mischief twinkling in his eyes.

“I like the sound of this!” exclaimed Estella.

“After Rosie and Estella made such a fine meal while we looked through Frodo’s strong box,” Pippin continued, “it’s only right that we take care of clearing the table and washing up the dishes. Don’t you agree, cousin?” Pippin grinned at Merry expectantly.

Merry forced himself to smile. “Why, yes, Pip. A very good idea!” He turned to face his wife. “You and Rosie rest, dear. Pippin and I will take care of the dishes.”

Sam held his hand up to cover his mouth as he tried to hide a snigger.

“And Sam will help us,” Merry said, looking straight at Sam and grinned. “Won’t you, Sam?”

Sam erased the smile from his face and looked from the grins of his Rosie and Estella to the even wider matching grins of Merry and Pippin. “Err… right, Merry. It’s only proper.”

“Glory, what a treat this will be!” exclaimed Rose. “Mind you get all the dirt off and don’t break anything, lads!”

She was rewarded with the mock hurt looks of all three hobbits.

Estella picked Perry up out of the chair beside her and laughed. “Well, that’s settled then! Come on, Rosie. We’ll be in the sitting room when you are finished, lads.”

“Nice going, Pip! Why don’t you offer for us to put all the children to sleep while you’re at it!” said Merry as the three hobbits began to clear the table.

“With pleasure, cousin!” grinned Pippin.

“Pippin!” Merry hissed.

“Did you hear that, Rosie and Estella?” Pippin said loudly, ignoring his cousin. “After we are finished with the dishes, Merry, Sam, and I will be happy to put the children to bed while you have some tea.”

“Well, I don’t know what’s got into the three of you, but Estella and I know when not to argue! Don’t we, Estella?” said Rosie.

“Absolutely! This should be interesting,” mused Estella. “Perry usually cries when anyone but me tries to put him to sleep for the night.”

Merry scowled at Pippin, nodding in agreement. “Well done, Pip,” he said sarcastically.

“I thought so!” Pippin agreed with a wide, toothy grin. “I’ve helped Estella put Perry to bed lots of times. How hard can it be?”

“Come on, let’s get started,” said Sam. He picked up the empty plates that had held the roasted chicken and taters. “As my old gaffer always said, ‘fastest started, soonest done.’”

With Sam in the kitchen, it wasn’t long before the table was cleared and all of the dishes were washed, dried, and put away. Even though they were grown-up, he had been very careful to push the jar of flour out of sight of Merry and Pippin.

Then it was time to put the children to bed for the night. Fortunately, the little Elanor and Wyn liked getting baths and their fathers had very little trouble getting their daughters cleaned. In the meantime, Pippin held little Perry while he tried to keep Frodo-lad amused.

“I’ll wash Frodo-lad while Sam puts the lasses to bed,” suggested Merry. “You, my dear cousin, may give Perry his bath and put him to bed.”

“With pleasure! You’ll see, Merry,” Pippin smiled. “Your son will be clean and sound asleep in no time.”

As Pippin moved past them with little one-year-old Perry in his arms, Sam and Merry exchanged a knowing glance.

It was with great satisfaction that Merry left the bathing room half an hour later with a clean Frodo-lad in his arms.

“Well?” Sam said simply as he entered the room Frodo-lad and Perry were sharing.

“Are the lasses asleep?” asked Merry.

Sam nodded his head and looked back at Merry expectantly.

Merry’s face lit up as he thought of the scene he had recently left in the bathing room. “I’m very proud of my son. Right now, Perry is proving that he has inherited my ability to get under Pippin’s skin.”

“Not exactly being cooperative, is the lad?” asked Sam.

“Most Brandybucks love the water, but not my lad. I’m afraid Perry takes after his Uncle Freddy when it comes to that,” said Merry with glee.

Sam and Merry laughed quietly while they finished tucking Frodo-lad in. In a few short minutes, the two experienced fathers had him asleep. Then, they sat in the two chairs in the room and waited for Pippin to show up with Perry.

They waited.

And waited.

And waited some more.

Sam was just starting to nod off when a haggard looking Pippin finally entered the room with a wriggling Perry in his arms. Merry nudged Sam’s elbow and he looked up at Pippin and tried not to grin.

“Any problems?” Merry asked Pippin happily.

Pippin sighed with exhaustion and managed to paste a tired smile on his face before looking at Merry.

“Oh, no. Perry… was having so much fun in the bath that I just decided to let him play for a bit. That’s all.”

“Good!” Merry grinned wickedly. “Then since the two of you are getting along so well, you should have no problem in putting him to bed and getting to sleep.”

Pippin smiled weakly at Merry. “No, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.” He was beginning to think twice about his earlier idea. It had seemed a good idea at the time – whenever Pippin had helped Estella, she’d never had difficulty getting Perry to sleep.

“Pippin…” Sam moved to stand and help the inexperienced unwed hobbit. It really wasn’t fair.

Merry moved Sam firmly back into his chair. “No, Sam. Pippin said it shouldn’t be any problem at all. Let him do it.”

“Is everything going fine in there?” Estella asked loudly.

“Everything’s just fine, dear.” Merry replied, easing himself back into his chair. He then stretched, folded his hands neatly behind his head, and looked at Pippin expectantly.

Pippin looked from his cousin down to the squirming bundle in his arms and sighed.

It was twenty minutes later and although Pippin had managed to get Perry to lie down, the baby was still screaming. It had only been thanks to Sam that Frodo-lad had not woken up.

Merry still sat in the rocking chair enjoying the entertainment. Normally, he hated to hear his son scream. But not tonight. His normally cheery cousin full of energy was withering into a pile of frustrated raw nerves before his eyes. He doubted that even the battle before the Black Gate had been as daunting an experience for Pippin.

“Please, Perry! Stop being so contrary and go to sleep!” Pippin had already sung all of the soothing songs he knew to the lad but with no results.

At this rate, they would never get Perry to sleep. Sam looked over at Merry and pled with his eyes. Finally, Merry nodded in satisfied agreement.

“Here now, let me try, Pippin,” said Sam as he came to Pippin’s side. “You sit down and rest a while.”

“Thank you, Sam,” Pippin said with relief. He weakly clapped a hand on Sam’s shoulder before collapsing into the chair Sam had just vacated and glancing at Merry, who smugly met his eyes.

“There now, Master Periadoc, what’s all the fuss about?” Sam held the baby in his arms and rocked him gently back and forth. He softly hummed an old tune his gammer had always sung to him when he was a lad.

Although Perry was sniffling, he was quieting down. It wasn’t long before he was sound asleep in Sam’s arms.

Pippin looked on in amazement. “Sam! How did you do that?” he whispered. He dared not speak too loudly lest he wake Perry up and Merry made *him* get the baby back to sleep.

“Why, it’s naught but having a couple of wee ones of our own! Both Rosie and I have had plenty of nights such as you had before we learnt what works and what don’t.”

“I guess you were right. I didn’t know what I was doing when I said we would put the lads and lasses to sleep. Especially Master Periadoc over there,” said a chagrined Pippin.

“You’ll see when you and Diamond get married and have little ones of your own, Pip,” Merry added quietly. He rose and went over to Sam to get a look at his sleeping son. No matter how much he had enjoyed teaching Pippin a lesson, it hadn’t been easy for Merry to hear Perry scream like that and not go over to him. “You will learn fast enough. Wyn was never a problem to get to sleep, but Perry won’t go to sleep for anyone but Estella. I’m a bit surprised he fell asleep for you, Sam.”

Sam’s face reddened slightly. “The lad had probably just worn himself out with all his fussing while Pippin was tending him, that’s all,” he said humbly. “Just look at the sweet little lad now!”

“You’d never guess he was screaming like a goblin a minute ago,” said Pippin.

“No, he looks as peaceful as if he were in Lothlorien,” added Merry.

“Perry’s always been good at changing his moods quickly.”

Sam smiled at the baby as he laid him down and covered him with a soft blanket. As he did so, Perry opened his eyes sleepily for a moment and yawned and stretched. He stared at Sam for a moment and then winked at him before closing both eyes and drifting back to sleep.

“Did you see that?” Sam asked in amazement. “He winked at me! Perry’s a winker!”

“Perry-the-Winkle?” Merry stared at Sam in surprise. “What kind of outlandish name is that for my son?”

Pippin laughed. “Silly Merry! You need to have Estella clean your ears for you or do a better job of cleaning them yourself! Sam didn’t say ‘Perry-the-Winkle!’ He said that Perry is a winker!”

Sam nodded in agreement. “Aye, that’s a fact, Merry, though there’s naught wrong with ‘Perry-the-Winkle’ neither.”

“Did you hear that, Merry?” chuckled Pippin. “Perhaps you should have had a daughter instead and then you could have named her ‘Periwinkle!’” he jested.

Merry looked sharply up at his cousin and glared at him with mock indignation.

“Now, see here, Pippin. Perry is a fine lad and a right smart and friendly one to be winking at such an early age,” Sam chided him. “Isn’t that so, Master Perry-the-Winkle?” he added, turning to snug the blanket up a little more around the sleeping baby.

“Thank you, Sam!” replied Merry, jutting his chin up in the air a little at

Pippin. “You feel free to call him ‘Perry-the-Winkle’ any time you want. I believe you’ve earned that right since you were able to get him to go to sleep.”

“Why, glory be, I believe I will!” exclaimed Sam softly, leaning over to run a finger gently around one pointy little ear. “Did you hear that, Perry-the-Winkle? You’ve got a new name for me to be a calling you!”

“Well, now that Perry’s asleep and has got a new name, I believe it’s time we all left this room and rejoined your wives,” suggested Pippin.

“Now that’s the first good idea you’ve had this evening!” joked Merry as he clapped Pippin on the back.

End Notes:

Following are the full texts of three of the letters quoted in chapter four.

The full text of Esmeralda’s letter to Bilbo:

Brandy Hall
Buckland
7 Halimath, S.R. 1381

My dear Cousin Bilbo,

In response to your kind invitation, I must let you know that of course young Frodo will be coming, as well as Saradoc and Father Rory. Mother Menegilda, as you know, will not be there--I am quite sure you have of necessity invited the S.-B.s, and she will not take any chances of encountering them. Since it would create a painful scene, I believe that is just as well.

I will not be attending your Birthday this year however. I do not plan to be doing much travelling for the next several months, as sometime in mid-Solmath, Saradoc and I will be expecting the arrival of our first child!

Frodo is doing somewhat better. He is still far too melancholy for his age, and it has been nearly a year and a half since we lost Primula and Drogo. However the knowledge that he would be going to see you in Hobbiton has piqued his interest, and he is very much looking forward to the visit.

Since I will not be seeing you, I take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy Birthday and many more happy returns of the occasion.

With fondness I remain,

Your cousin,

Esmeralda Brandybuck



The full text of Saradoc’s letter to Bilbo:
(It references two other stories about the time Frodo ran away from Brandy Hall and went to Bag End--

Grief

The Apology
 

Brandy Hall
Buckland
7 Thrimidge, S.R. 1384

Dear Bilbo,

I thank you so much for promptly informing us of Frodo's whereabouts.

We had been frantic at discovering that he was missing, and my father had already ordered dragging the River, fearing the worst.]

We were furious to discover what he had done until we read his own letter, and realized how hurt he must have been. I am still a bit upset that he did not feel he could confide in me, however that has never been an easy thing for him to do--I was very angry indeed at Aunt Asphodel and Uncle Rufus. They had no business interfering, nor saying things of that sort to Frodo.

Da and I spoke to them, however, and showed them Frodo's letter, and they were appalled to realize the effect their careless words had on the lad. I am afraid that Uncle Rufus has never been terribly insightful or tactful of people's feelings, and Aunt Asphodel has always been one to think she knows more of things than she actually does. And not living here at the Hall, they had never before seen how distressed poor Frodo becomes near the anniversary of his parents' death. They meant no harm, but I am afraid that Esme and I will never quite feel the same about them after this. Most especially Esme was infuriated that Aunt Asphodel would seek to keep Frodo away from Merry.

At any rate, if you really do not mind having him there, we are certainly glad to consent to his remaining for a couple of months. We will work out the exact length of his stay later. And by all means I will abide by any punishment you care to set him, as I am not certain whether I would hug him or thrash him or both were I to have him in front of me now, I am so torn between relief and anger. However, I must say that extra lessons will not be much of a hardship to him, unless they are sums!

My mother wishes to remind you that she would prefer you keep him away from the Sackville-Bagginses. Knowing how you avoid them like the plague, I scarcely think you need such a reminder! And I know that in Hobbiton it may not be possible for him to avoid them altogether. However, I can with a clear conscience let her know that I have passed on her message.
Please assure Frodo of our love, and let him know that Merry has missed him. I know that Esme is writing to him, so I will leave it at that.

Once again, thank you so much for letting us know our lad is safe!

Gratefully yours,

Your cousin,

Saradoc"



The full text of Bilbo’s farewell letter to Frodo:


Bag End
22 Halimath, S.R. 1401


My Dear Frodo:
Thirty-three years ago today, your father sent me a letter saying that I had given he and your mother the finest birthday gift I could have ever given them – you. I must say that your father was quite right.

My own adventure lies on a path outside the Shire now. Do not be sad, Frodo; I shall always love you.

 But one hundred eleven years in any place is long enough. Gandalf stirred something inside me when he forced me out of my bright green door at Bag End and out into the world beyond the Shire. Oh, I don’t blame Gandalf, he knew the adventurous sort when he saw it. Call it the Took foolish spirit of adventure I inherited from my mother or call it Baggins’ determination, but with all of the hobbits of my age gone, I am determined now to go live the remainder of my days outside the Shire with my dear friends I made on my journey long ago.

I have never forgotten the great friends and acquaintances I made on that journey to the Misty Mountains. Frodo, it’s a large world out there, a world full of wonders beyond our imaginations. You may recall when Balin visited us the spring that you finally came to live at Bag End and how he wished for me to go with him to the Mines of Moria. I felt the old tug of longing to go beyond the Shire once more that summer and I have felt it every time Gandalf has visited us or I have seen a Dwarf or an Elf pass through the Shire. But I would not go then, for I had you – my dear lad, someone special that a confirmed old bachelor such as me could never have hoped to have the opportunity to raise. Do not feel bad for me, Frodo. I do not regret my decision to remain for an instant, for I am much the richer for having you live with me. You are worth much more to me than all the jewels of Moria and the Misty Mountains combined. 

Ever since you came to live with me, my life has been filled with warmth and laughter. While I have had plenty of young lads, including your own father, in my charge as a teacher, it pales in comparison to the joy you have given me day in and day out. We are kindred spirits with the same love of learning and sense of adventure. I could not have asked for a finer young hobbit to be as my own. Raising you was my greatest and grandest adventure. 

But now that adventure has come to an end, for you are an adult no longer needing the care of a guardian. You have grown up into a caring, intelligent hobbit with sound judgment that would make your parents proud. You are ready to become Master of Bag End. And Master of Bag End is an adventure that I wish for you – you are still in love with the Shire, and deserve the chance to *be* your own master for a while. Otherwise, and make no mistake, I would have loved to have your company on this last adventure. But I cannot be that selfish.

And so, I leave Bag End and all of my possessions to you, dear Frodo, as I go now to whatever adventure may next await me. Perhaps we shall meet again, but if not, know that I love you, my dear cousin, as if you were my own son.

Love,

Bilbo

Back to index

A Morning of Memories by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

Illustrations in this chapter are mostly photographs of "found objects" located by Gryffinjack, with the exception of the last one.

Author's Notes in this chapter consist of
-the full text of Bilbo's correspondence to Frodo after he left the Shire.
-the full text of Frodo's three wills: one made right after Bilbo left; the second made when he and Sam were to leave the Shire (before he knew Merry and Pippin would accompany him) and a copy of the final will he made before  going ot hte Grey Havens.




 
CHAPTER FIVE

A MORNING OF MEMORIES


Merry opened his eyes to the grey light just before dawn. When he was a small lad, it had seemed a rather large room, but now that he was grown, and larger than the average hobbit, it seemed much smaller. A good deal of it was due to the extra large bed. Frodo had two of them built, one for him and one for Pippin after they returned from their journey.

He was very glad Frodo had the beds made wider as well as longer. Merry smiled and turned on his side to watch his sleeping wife. She was curled on her side with her back to him, her curls all tumbled about her face. He gently brushed them away to feast his eyes on her, and she stirred sleepily but did not wake. After four years and two children, he still found himself awed that such a sweet, gentle, and clever lass had consented to be his bride.

As they often did, especially at times like this, his thoughts wandered back to Frodo. He wondered, if it had not been for the Ring, would his cousin ever have been able to find a wife, and the kind of happiness Merry now knew? He tried to console himself with the thought that perhaps Frodo had been a confirmed bachelor anyway. Bilbo had never shown any interest in getting married, even before It came to him. Neither had Porto Baggins, Angelica’s uncle, seemed interested in finding a wife. So maybe it was a Baggins trait. But he’d never know. And now the Baggins name was dying out.

He sighed and lay back against the pillow. There was still a good deal to be done with that strongbox. Mentally, he began to tick off a list: letters from various relations could go back to them. There were several from Freddy and Berilac and Mosco from their time with the embassy in Gondor. And he had seen a number of letters from Cousin Dody and from Uncle Dinny and Uncle Mac as well. Those could go back to Brandy Hall with him. Letters to the Took relatives, Pippin could take to the Great Smials. Perhaps Angelica would like the bundle from Frodo’s Aunt Dora. Merry was fairly certain Frodo had not kept all his aunt’s letters, though, or they would have filled the box by themselves. There was another folder of what appeared to be legal documents, and another smaller box they had not yet opened. And another bundle of letters, the one on top appeared to be from Strider--though Merry was sure that the whole bundle was not from him. He knew how many letters came through the King’s Messengers those first two years, after all.

They’d not, after all, completely emptied the strongbox yet, even though Pippin had suggested at one point simply upending it and dumping the contents on the floor. Sam had looked so horrified at that suggestion that Pippin had quickly withdrawn it.

Estella stirred beside him, and opened one eye muzzily.

Merry sat up and smiled at her. "Good morning, my heart. I do believe I smell first breakfast cooking."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the kitchen, Sam was preparing griddlecakes, with the assistance of Elanor, who stood next to him on a chair, the turner in her hand, all set to slide it under and turn over each golden-brown cake as it was ready.

"The bubbles are all broke," she said.

"That’s right, Elanorelle. Take your time, love."

Her little tongue peeking out the corner of her mouth in concentration, she carefully and slowly pushed the turner under, and gave it a little flip. Her face fell as one edge curled under, and some of the batter spread back out. "It’s not round Daddy," she wailed.

Sam grinned at his daughter. "Well, maybe not, Ellie-lass. But with butter and honey, it will taste good all the same."

Rose sat in the rocking chair nursing little Frodo-lad and watching the cooks fondly. Sam was far more patient with Elanor in the kitchen than she was.

"Take them up now," said Sam holding the platter before his daughter.

Once more Elanor carefully lifted the cakes up, and this time dropped each one onto the dish. "Do you think Unca Pip and Unca Merry will like my cakes?"

Merry just then entered the kitchen, little Wyn in his arms. Estella was still seeing to changing and dressing Perry. "I can promise that Uncle Merry most certainly will like your cakes, Elanor!" he exclaimed. "In fact, maybe he won’t even leave any for Uncle Pippin!"

Elanor giggled. "Yes you will!" she grinned. "You always share with Unca Pip!"

Merry looked puzzled. "Where is Pip? It’s not like him not to be in the kitchen at the first smell of breakfast."
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~


Pippin turned away from his window. It was dawn. The dream that had awakened him had been different from most of his nightmares. It was not about any of the things that had happened to him on the Quest, nightmares that he was almost used to after seven years, that wakened him with heart pounding, sometimes screaming, though it did not happen so often now as it once had.

No, this had been different. He’d dreamed of Frodo before the Quest, his carefree and happy cousin--but he himself had somehow known of the coming peril, and he kept trying to warn Frodo of his danger. But no one seemed to hear what he was really saying, and when he had told Frodo the Ring was evil, his cousin had just laughed and ruffled his head as though he were seven, and told him not to worry, it was just a little trinket, the least of rings… Merry had shrugged him off, Sam just kept talking about the garden…and the more desperate his warnings grew, the less they seemed to hear him. He had wakened suddenly, to complete clarity, knowing it was only a dream. And yet he was left with a lingering sense of foreboding.

He had dressed slowly, trying to think what it might mean. He could hear the others stirring. He supposed it was just all the memories of Frodo they had been stirring up, going through that box. And yet, it was so good to see some of the things that Frodo had cherished, that had been important to his cousin.

He could smell griddlecakes and bacon.

Shrugging to himself, he went on to the kitchen.


~~~~~~~~~~


Sam, Merry and Pippin wasted no time when breakfast was finished, but headed straight for the study. The plan was to work straight through until luncheon. To that end, they took a tray in with them, loaded with fruit, bread, cheese, biscuits and a teapot. They could nibble as they worked, and would not have to stop until lunch time.

The only legal documents left were in the folder: a copy of Frodo's last will, as well as copies of his two previous wills. The two earlier wills had "Void" written upon them in red ink, and the word had been initialled, apparently, by the lawyer.

"I thought Frodo's will was on file at the Mayor's Office," said Pippin, puzzled.

"It is," replied Merry. "This is just a copy - see, it's not even signed."

"What about them other wills, Merry?" Sam asked. He had not realised that Frodo had earlier wills. Yet now he thought of it, it made sense, considering all the trouble Mr. Bilbo had when he came back from going off with the Dwarves--Mr. Frodo would never want to take a chance like that.

Merry glanced at them. "This one was the first one, the one he had made right after Bilbo left. And this is the one he made before--" he wet his lips. "Before we all left. If there were ever any evidence of how successful we were in hiding our Conspiracy from him, this is it." For in that will, Frodo had left almost everything to Merry and Pippin, unaware they would be accompanying him into danger. Pippin looked uncomfortably at the folded version of that will; for he had been the one to tell Merry what was in it, and the thought of receiving so much of Frodo’s wealth still made him cringe. It had been a most pleasant surprise when he had found out that Frodo had made Sam his heir in the end.

His eye was caught by a document with his father's name on it. "What's this?" he asked, taking it out to look more closely.

Merry glanced over. "That's a renunciation. It's like the one Frodo had your father sign when he made Crickhollow over to the both of us."

Sam nodded. "Mr. Bilbo signed one when he adopted Mr. Frodo--remember?"

"Yes, yes he did. And Frodo had old Ponto sign one before he left, so there'd be no trouble for you over Bag End, Sam."

Pippin looked at the renunciation once more, shaking his head. Frodo really had thought of everything, seemingly.

Merry took out another small bundle of letters, and after a glance, exclaimed “Aha! I knew it! I knew Bilbo must have written to Frodo.”

“O’ course he did,” replied Sam. “He never said nothing to his kin about it though--said if Mr. Bilbo wanted them to know, he’d write them too.”

Merry and Pippin gave him a reproachful look. They didn’t need to say anything. Sam blushed. He knew what they were thinking. “Well, it’s only natural as I’d know, being as I was here when they came, sometimes.”

Pippin shook his head. “Of course you are right, Sam. And it’s not your fault our cousin--well, both our cousins, really--were so close-mouthed about things.” He elbowed Merry, who looked cross.

Startled, Merry said, “Oh no! Not a bit of your fault, Sam.” But he still looked cross, something explained an instant later by his next words. “Can you believe that in seventeen years, Bilbo only sent Frodo five letters?” There was more than a tinge of anger in Merry’s voice. “Frodo probably lived for those letters! Only five!"

Pippin shook his head. “Merry, be reasonable. It can’t have been easy to send them--Rivendell is a long way off, and there aren’t that many messengers available. It’s not like the Shire Post. Or even the way it is now, with the King’s Messengers. The Wild was a lot more dangerous then.”

And Sam shook his head. “You know Mr. Frodo was perfectly happy when he heard from Mr. Bilbo. But he didn’t pine in between, like you seem to be thinking.”

“Besides,” added Pippin, “how do you know he didn’t send dozens of letters? If they had to go through old Butterburr at the Prancing Pony, Frodo’d never have known, would he?”

“Merry … are you … still angry at Mr. Bilbo about Mr. Frodo coming here to live?” Sam didn’t think that was the case, but remembering Merry’s confession when they’d found his own letter to Bilbo, Sam had to wonder.

“No,” said Pippin astutely. “No, he’s still angry with Cousin Bilbo for going off and leaving Frodo with the Ring.”

Sam stared at Pippin in shock. They’d tried to avoid mentioning the Ring for the most part--an unspoken agreement--yet a glance at Merry’s face told him that Pippin once more had hit the nail on the head. Merry looked shocked, but more the shock of a sudden realisation, than of surprise.

Merry deflated sadly. “I didn’t think I was, Pip. I thought I was over all that when we watched Bilbo sail off with Frodo. But, all this…I suppose that perhaps you are right, I’m not over it. If only…” His voice trailed off uncertainly.

Pippin put a gentle hand on Merry’s arm, and very seriously quoted the old Shire nursery verse: “ ‘If all the world were apple pie and all the rivers ink, and all the trees were bread and cheese, what would we have to drink?’ ”*

Merry chuckled and shook his head. “Only you, Pip, would come up with that old saw! It’s never made one bit of sense to me!”

“Oh, I don’t know, Merry,” said Sam, “I allus thought it meant that ‘if onlies’ was useless.”

“Come on, let’s try and finish this before luncheon,” said Pippin.

Now that all of the letters and documents were out of the way, Merry, Pippin, and Sam looked inside the strongbox to see what remained. All that they saw was a wooden box resting on a piece of bright red velvet folded at the bottom of the box.

"I suppose we ought to open in this box now," said Merry. It looked familiar.

"What do you reckon’s in it?" Sam asked. The box had silver hobnails firmly keeping strips of wood in place around the box. On the strips of wood in its centre was a heavy iron latch.

"The quickest way to find out is to open it," suggested Pippin as he removed the small wooden box and looked at Merry. He was fairly sure he knew what they'd find in this one.

"You’re right, Pip," said Merry, taking the small box from his cousin. He rested the tip of his right thumb on the inside of the latch and pushed it to the side. He looked up at Pippin and Sam for an instant, and then opened the box.

The air inside the box was old, just as its contents were. Merry raised an eyebrow at Pippin and both cousins exchanged smiles. Yes. They knew these items very well.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen them things before," said Sam.

"No, I don’t expect as you have, Sam," said Merry. "You see, they belonged to Frodo’s parents. We used to look at them sometimes when he was still at Brandy Hall, and then, after he moved in with Bilbo, here at Bag End, although I thought there would be more in here."

“How do you mean, Merry?” Sam asked in confusion.

Merry began to explain. “Well, this was the box that Frodo always used to keep his parents’ most treasured possessions in…”

“Other than Frodo,” Pippin interjected saucily.

Merry gave his cousin a wry grin and reprimanded him playfully by slapping him on the shoulder. “If you are finished interrupting, Pip.”

Pippin grinned widely, well pleased with himself. “Yes, I believe I am, Merry, although you know what I said is true.”

“So it is,” agreed Merry. “But I believe Sam knew not only that Frodo was his parents’ most treasured possession, but that he was not kept in a box.”

“No, he was kept in a hall first and then in a smial,” agreed Pippin toothily.

Merry cleared his throat and glared at Pippin.

Sam tried to keep from chuckling as he watched the exchange between the two cousins. These two were nothing if not entertaining.

“As I was saying,” Merry gave Pippin a quick warning glance, “Whenever Frodo used to let me look in this box at his parents’ things,” another warning glance toward Pippin, who looked innocently back at Merry, “not only were these objects in the box, but so were a few other things.”

“Oh? Like what?” asked Sam.

“Like that small stone that Drogo always used to carry around with him in his pocket,” explained Merry.

“A rock?”

“Yes, Sam. Just your ordinary small, shiny, potato skin coloured river bed stone,” added Pippin.

“It was from the Brandywine,” Merry said seriously. “Frodo said his parents had been skipping stones in the Brandywine one time when they were courting. It was the very last stone they had collected for skipping stones. Primula begged Drogo not to throw it, but to keep it as a remembrance of the occasion.”

“’I shall keep it as long as you stay by my side,’ said Drogo.” Pippin quoted wistfully, a tear spilling down his cheek.

Merry nodded solemnly, his own tears filling his misty grey eyes. “And that’s how they became betrothed. Primula opened Drogo’s hand that still held the small stone and placed the stone in one of the pockets of his westkit. And there it remained throughout the rest of their lives. When their bodies were brought ashore after the accident, Frodo saw the stone slip from Drogo’s pocket and insisted that it be brought to him, which it was. Frodo kept the stone with him in his own pocket as his father had done, only removing it for baths or at night when he would put it in this box. I don’t suppose he could bear to be parted from it.”

“Frodo must have taken the stone with him, a way of taking a bit of the Shire with him,” said Pippin.

“I reckon I would take a stone as special as all that with me if I had left the Shire like Mr. Frodo did,” Sam said, wiping his eyes with his sleeves.

“Pip, did you notice that the pocket watch is also missing?” asked Merry.

Pippin raised his eyebrows in surprise before a quick look in the box confirmed that Merry was correct. “I suppose if he kept the stone, he had to keep the pocket watch, too.”

“What pocket watch, Mr. Pippin?” asked Sam. It was at times like this when Sam was reminded that for all Merry and Pippin said he was family, he really was not kin.

“The pocket watch that Primula gave to Drogo as a wedding gift.”

“Primula had Bilbo specially order it for her from the Dwarves at her request. Bilbo was always glad of that. Frodo said that later on, Drogo kept inside the watch a tiny drawing of Primula and Frodo when he was still a babe.” Merry thought fondly of Cousin Calla, whom he had only started to get to know before her death, but who had been especially fond of Frodo.

Pippin’s voice cut into his thoughts. “Even when I was little, Frodo would let me open the watch at night when I visited Bag End so I could look at that picture.”

“I don’t reckon as there would be much use for a watch in them undying lands, but I reckon that don’t matter none,” said Sam.

“No, time wouldn’t have much meaning there, I suppose,” agreed Merry as he fingered through the items in the box. “But that pocket watch sure would to Frodo.”

“Anything else missing?” asked Sam.

“I don’t see Drogo’s pocket whittling knife in here either.”

“Maybe Frodo took it with him in case he decided to take up whittling,” quipped Pippin.

Merry continued on without comment. “And it seems he took his mother’s favourite thimble and needle case, too. You remember, Pip, those pretty wooden ones with the primulas painted on the sides. Frodo said that his father had managed to sweet-talk Cousin Calla into painting it on there for him.

"I remember them." Pippin smiled fondly. He took the box from Merry and looked through it at the items Frodo had treasured but decided not to take with him, removing a silver coloured mouth harp. He put the tiny harp to his mouth and began flicking it with one of his fingers a few times, coaxing out a strange twanging sound that filled the quiet study. "This used to be Drogo’s. Frodo used to let me play it sometimes – he’s the one who taught me how to play it."

Pippin continued to pluck at it, slowly at first, but then quicker and quicker. Soon, the plucking took on the jolly rhythm of "Nob O' the Lea". It was a queer sounding instrument, but Sam and Merry found the tune infectious as they listened to Pippin play it.

As for Pippin, he always found it difficult not to move about while playing, especially when playing such a lively tune. He rose from his chair without ever missing a beat and began to dance around in circles as he continued to play. He danced around Sam and Merry, both of whom began to laugh at him.

"Come on, Merry!" Pippin exclaimed as he finished the tune, grabbing his cousin’s hand and pulling him to his feet. "Dance with me!" Pippin put the mouth-harp back to his lips and began to play "Ho, Ho, Ho! To the Bottle I Go".

Merry grinned down at Sam, his own toes tapping. Sam merely shrugged his shoulders, and began clapping in time to the music. Merry began clapping as well and soon began to kick up his heels just as Pippin was doing. Soon, the two cousins were dancing around Sam, that is, until Merry pulled him up as well and urged him to dance.

Sam shook his head, the tips of his ears turning crimson as he tried to sit down again.

"Oh, no you don’t!" exclaimed Merry, pulling him up from underneath the elbow.

"Pip and I won’t hear of it. If we dance, you dance – in honour of Frodo!"

It was impossible not to sing to such lively music. The only time that Merry and Sam stopped singing was when they were laughing with the sheer joy of the songs, for Pippin went straightaway from "Ho, Ho, Ho!" into a tune known as "Green Dragon Ale".

It was just what the three of them needed – a relief going through all of those memories of Frodo. They sang louder and louder, forgetting for the moment the strongbox and their task.

Suddenly, the door to the study opened with a thud and Rose and Estella stood in the doorway, with Frodo-lad and little Perry in their arms.

"What is going on in here?" asked Estella, her mouth still open in surprise at the sight that greeted her.

"Sam! What would Mr. Frodo think?" asked Rose in alarm.

Sam turned to look at his wife. "Why, Mr. Frodo would be right pleased! He wouldn’t want us sitting here moping about, all glum-like."

Merry and Pippin caught Sam up again as they continued to dance.

"It’s true, Rosie," said Merry. "Frodo always enjoyed music, and when he was younger, he used to really like to dance, too. You remember how he used to dance at the parties Bilbo and he used to throw for the Birthday. Nothing would make him happier than to know that he brought us laughter and joy."

Elanor and Wyn peeped around their mothers’ skirts and giggled at the sight of their fathers dancing around with Uncle Pippin to that odd sounding music.

"Come on, Elanorelle!" exclaimed Sam, and he scooped Elanor up in his arms and began to dance with her. Elanor giggled harder than ever as she clapped her hands to the music.

"And would my little flower like to dance, too?" Merry asked as he bent over and danced toward Wyn. He raised his daughter high in the air and then twirled her about, the sound of her joyous laughter rising above the twang of the mouth harp.

Estella and Rose stared at their husbands dancing with their daughters and then looked at each other. It was impossible not to laugh, and neither of them tried. Instead, they both entered the room and sat on the sofa with Frodo-lad and Perry in their arms.

"Look at Da, Perry! Remember this so you can tease him about it when you are older!" Estella said softly into her little son’s ear as she clapped his hands for him.

Pippin played one jolly song after another, although he stopped playing drinking songs and began to play some familiar nursery tunes. The dancers whirled around and clapped their hands, all of them forgetting about the strongbox on the table and the task at hand.

At last, the dancers tired and collapsed onto the empty chairs, or onto the floor in Pippin’s case.

Elanor was the first to catch her breath. She went over to the open box and pulled something out of it. "How pretty!" she said, holding a hair comb covered with painted flowers.

"Elanor, no! Don’t touch!" exclaimed Rose, quickly snatching the comb out of her daughter’s hand and putting it back in the box. "Begging your pardon, Merry and Pippin."

"It’s all right, Rosie. She did not mean any harm by it," Merry said. He knew from experience just how difficult it was for a little lass to keep her hands off things that caught her eye.

"Elanorelle, them things in the box belong to Mr. Frodo," said Sam gently but firmly.

Poor Elanor was crestfallen. She knew better than to reach for something that wasn’t hers; but the comb was so much prettier than the hair combs Mam wore. It was shameful to be reprimanded in front of Uncle Merry and Uncle Pippin.

Primula’s Hair Comb:

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"I’m sorry, Daddy. Unca Merry, Unca Pippin," she said in a tiny voice.

"Come, do not be so upset about it, lass," Pippin smiled at her gently. "You are not the first young hobbit not to be able to help touching something that you oughtn’t. Nor will you be the last."

"That’s right, Elanor. You should have seen the trouble your Uncle Pippin used to get into for touching things he would have been better served to have left alone," said Merry, ruffling her curls affectionately.

A sad and far away look came into Pippin’s eyes. "Quite so, I’m afraid. And what I touched was much worse than a pretty hair comb." Echoes of a long ago rum-pum-pumming sounded in Pippin’s ears, filling him with the roar of beating drums that he had thought long forgotten .

Merry looked at his cousin in alarm and understood. "Oh, Pip! I had not thought of that at all! Forgive me, cousin, for being so thoughtless." He rose from the chair, handing little Wyn to Sam as he went over to Pippin and put his arms around him.

"Perhaps we should leave you three alone now," suggested Estella. "Come, lasses. Let’s go see if the kittens need someone to pet them."

The door shut quietly behind Rose, Estella, and the children, leaving Sam, Merry, and Pippin to their memories.

"It weren’t your fault, Pippin," said Sam, joining Merry in hugging Pippin.

"Besides, it happened long ago and don’t matter now."

"It does matter, Sam," countered Pippin. "There was no reason for me to throw that stone. I didn’t think and my curiosity got the better of me, and almost cost all of us our lives

"Yes, but it didn’t," Merry said firmly. "You were only a tween at the time, and sometimes thoughtless, just like most tweens. And you learnt from your mistake. That was not the Pippin that I heard about in Minas Tirith. That Pippin, that Ernil I Pheriannath, had grown into a most responsible hobbit that I am proud to call my cousin."

Sam nodded his head in agreement. "Merry’s got the right of it. You learnt your lesson."

"No, Merry! No, Sam. I … I was just as thoughtless later on when I stole the palantir from Gandalf and looked in it. I just had to look. Just like with in Moria. I didn’t learn my lesson at all, you see. I shall never forget it, so dark and horrible…" Pippin visibly shuddered, his face screwed up in pain at the still too real memory.

"Now, Mr. Pippin," began Sam, taking Pippin by the shoulders. "We have been all through this afore many a times. You looked through that there palantir for a reason. If you hadn’t, then he would not have been so distracted and his eye would have fixed on Mr. Frodo and the Ring might never have been destroyed. And you never would have gone to Minas Tirith and would not have saved Lord Faramir. Mr. Gandalf used to say that we all done what we did for a reason; we all had our own roles to play in helping Mr. Frodo to save Middle Earth."

"He’s right, Pip. You know better than any of us how powerful the draw of the palantir was. Why, even Frodo could not avoid the pull of the Ring forever, and he was a fully grown hobbit at the time."

"I don’t know. Going through all of Frodo’s things … his wills … I know it was for the best, that it saved Middle Earth, but I can’t help thinking … wondering… what Frodo’s life would have been like if he had not touched the Ring … if Bilbo had not touched it." Pippin bit his lip, remembering his earlier words about "if only". It seemed that it was harder to avoid than he'd thought.

"Pippin…"

"I know, it’s silly. Of course we are all better now for the Ring and Sauron having been destroyed. It’s just… I still miss my Frodo …" Pippin’s voice faded away as he dissolved into tears.

"We all miss him," Merry said, again hugging Pippin to him. "But I know he is glad for having made his sacrifice. The Shire meant that much to him. All of us did."

"Mr. Frodo was the finest hobbit as ever lived," said Sam, wiping tears away from his own eyes. "I’m sorry Elanor touched that hair comb of Mr. Frodo’s. That’s what started all this."

"No, Sam, it’s not Elanor’s fault," said Pippin. "It’s going through all of these memories of Frodo’s. I’m afraid they’ve dredged up a few of my own memories as well. Besides, I can’t blame Elanor; it is a rather pretty comb at that."

Pippin reached into the box and removed the hair comb from where Rose had put it.

"It was Frodo’s mother’s," Merry commented. "Frodo said that his father gave it to his mother when he was born."

Pippin nodded. "Yes, and Frodo told me that his mother was the prettiest hobbitess he ever saw, especially when she had this fancy comb in her hair and …" he reached into the box once more, smiled, and removed something else. "… and this bracelet."

"Weren’t that given to Mistress Primula by Mr. Drogo, too?" asked Sam.

Merry nodded. "That was his wedding present to her."

Sam took the bracelet from Pippin and turned it over in his hands, admiring the clever detailing of primulas on it. "It’s beautiful."

The primula bracelet:

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"Frodo said that any time his father saw something with primulas on it, he got it for his mother, just like this bracelet and the hair comb," said Merry.

"It’s small wonder that Elanor couldn’t help touching so pretty as this," added Pippin.

"With her hair, that comb would look beautiful in her hair, Sam," said Merry.

"And after all, it is a family heirloom and Elanor is the oldest daughter of Frodo’s heir."

"Sir? I hope you are not suggesting what I think you are," Sam said in horror. "That hair comb belongs to Mr. Frodo and to his family!"

"Must we go over this again, Sam?" asked Pippin, rolling his eyes. "You are family! You, Rosie, Elanor, and Frodo-lad. You are as much a part of Frodo’s family as we are and that heirloom is going to Elanor."

Merry nodded. He gazed at Sam pointedly with his grey eyes and crossed his arms across his chest. "And that goes for Pippin and me, too. You’re all part of our family as well, so you’d best get used to the idea because you are family now and that’s never going to change. Now then, I suggest you put this family heirloom hair comb away for Elanor until she gets a little older so that she can have something that once belonged to her Uncle Frodo--who named her as I recall."

"But …’ began Sam before he was interrupted by Pippin.

"Sam, have you not learnt better than to cross a Brandybuck when he is that determined?" asked Pippin, crossing his arms just like Merry had. "And although I am a Took and not a Brandybuck, I assure you that in this regard, I am just as determined as Merry. We mean for Elanor to get that hair comb and that is just what is going to happen," he said resolutely.

Sam looked from one of Frodo’s cousins to the other and sighed. He had heard them say he was family before, he’d even heard Frodo say it before he left the Shire. But something about it never seemed proper to him. However, he could see that he was not going to win this argument. There was naught for it but to accept it.

"Thank you, sirs… Merry… Pippin," he added quickly at the sight of their glares at his calling them "sirs." "Elanor will be right pleased!" He smiled at them as he took the pretty hair comb and placed it on the table beside him for safekeeping.

"Good! Now that that is settled, I insist that Wyn get the bracelet," began Pippin. "It’s only fair … if one of Frodo’s little lasses gets his mother’s hair comb, then his other little lass ought to have his mother’s bracelet."

Sam grinned at this and before Merry could get any further than opening his mouth to protest, Sam had shoved the bracelet into his hand and closed it around the piece of jewellery.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Merry closed his mouth and reached into the box for the remaining object. “Fine. Then I insist that this go to Frodo-lad.” He thrust a small dark copper button darkened with age into Sam’s hand. “Frodo-lad ought to have something of his very own that was quite dear to the "uncle" he was named after.”


Drogo’s Jacket Button:

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“Done!” exclaimed Pippin, smiling brightly. “Drogo’s bird-in-the-barn westkit button goes to Frodo-lad. He’s a lucky lad; I always fancied that button myself when I was little and used to hope that someday Frodo would give it to me as a mathom. Oh, no, Sam,” Pippin continued, reading Sam’s thought clearly in his eyes. “I said that I used to hope that Frodo would give it to me. I don’t want it anymore; I want Frodo-lad to have it, as does Merry. That button is going to Frodo-lad.”

“Good, then we are all finished with the items in the box,” agreed Merry with satisfaction.

"Well not quite," said Sam, starting to reach in for the piece of red velvet. He remembered that length of cloth had been given to Frodo by a merchant in Minas Tirith. While it was rather a cheerful red, it was still not a colour any of the hobbits had favoured for clothing, but rather than offend the Man, who had been effusive over how the pheriannath had saved his son at the Black Gate, Frodo had taken it with thanks. Frodo must have placed it in there to cushion some of the other items. But just as Sam started to lift a corner of it, there was a tap on the door, and Rose stuck her head in. "Would you lads be up to some lunch?"

The three of them looked at one another. They could start putting things back into the strongbox after lunch. They wouldn't need the cloth--since many items would be going off to Buckland or the Great Smials or Budgeford the strongbox would not be nearly so full when they finished.

Pippin's face lit up. "I think luncheon is a splendid idea, Rose."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Lunch ended, and the three hobbits got up to return to the study. It was time to put away the things that would be remaining at Bag End.

Sam once more reached in, and lifted up the corner of the folded cloth. It was unexpectedly heavy, and there was a muffled "thunk" as he moved it.

"There's something inside the cloth," said Merry.

Sam lifted the fabric out, and unfolding it, revealed a tiny black box. It had seven silver stars embossed on the lid, so it was clearly Gondorian in origin. In addition, beneath the box and also folded into the fabric, there was a letter there, sealed with Frodo's seal. Sam passed them to Merry, who handed the box to Pippin.

The Gondorian Box (painted by Dreamflower) :

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This was such a small box. Whatever it held, had to be small. Merry glanced at the letter from Frodo in his hand, and wondered if they should open it first.

Pippin could not wait. He flicked up the small brass latch of the box, opened it, and gasped when he saw what was inside it.

"Thunder!" he exclaimed, going pale. Merry went even whiter. As for Sam, he turned green, and racing to the window in front of the desk, he shoved the desk aside, threw open the sash, stuck his head out and was noisily sick.

End Notes:



Here are the letters from Bilbo to Frodo after he left the Shire:

First letter:

"3 Winterfilth S.R. 1401
The Prancing Pony
Bree

My Dear Frodo,

I am fortunate enough to find a tinker who is planning to cross the Shire from here, and so I take this opportunity to send you word that your old uncle has made it safely thus far. While a bit tired and footsore, I am otherwise fine. Young Nuri says we will stay here for a day or so, to get provisions, and it looks as though we will continue our journey on ponyback.

Bree is a nice little town. I find myself regretting that I never brought you here for a visit.
You would enjoy seeing all the Men here, and the quaint shops and tall buildings.
I do hope that the relatives did not give you too much trouble on my account, and that you are settling in nicely as Master of Bag End.

I miss you very much, my lad, but I am also feeling much lighter and freer than I have for many a year. I think perhaps this journey will be good for my health, for though I never looked it, I had very much begun to feel my years.

Do take care of yourself, Frodo. I know that you are missing me, but you’ve a long and happy life ahead, and many other good friends who love you.

I do not know when next I will have opportunity to write.

Your loving Uncle Bilbo"


Next letter:

"2 Thrimidge S.R. 1402
Erebor

My Dear Frodo,

I am leaving now from the Lonely Mountain. I am very glad that I had an opportunity to visit here once again, and to see it, and Dale, recovered altogether from the devastation of Smaug. The Mountain and the Valley around it are once more green and lush, trees now grow where before were only cinders and ash. Villages and towns have sprung up, and trade is brisk. It is good to know I had some little part in helping that come about.
King Daín greeted me as an honoured guest, and I was feasted and partied by King Brand in Dale. It was also good to see many of my old friends once more.

Still, I find myself restless, and I fully intend to do more exploring when I leave from here. I do not know where I may go--I may wander South, where I hear cities of Men, vast places of stone may be found, and other realms of Elves. Perhaps even East or North. I do not know. The world is a much larger place than even I remember it being, somehow.

I hope this finds you well. I do miss you a great deal, my lad, and often find myself turning to tell you something, only to realise you are not by my side. Yet while it would have been wonderful to share all this with you, it gives me so much comfort to know that Bag End is in your hands now; to know that my old hole is being well-taken care of, and that you are upholding your rightful place as Head of the Family. I hope you do not allow Otho and Lobelia to take too many liberties--I know your gentle nature, none better. It is my fond hope that you might even find a lass and fill Bag End at last with lots of little hobbits, but you are still young yet, and have plenty of time for such things.

When I find another messenger and another opportunity, I will send you another letter. In the meanwhile, rest assured that I am in good health and safe, and will always remain,

your loving Uncle,

Bilbo."


Next letter

"6 Forelithe, S.R. 1404

My dear Frodo,

I was most happy to receive your letter, with the news that you are doing well, and that Bag End and Hobbiton are flourishing. I especially enjoyed your accounts of the things your rascals of cousins got up to during their visits to you. I remember wee Pippin as a very engaging and charming little fellow. And to think that Merry is well into his tweens now! I am also pleased that young Fatty Bolger seems to be living up to his promise of intelligence, though I am sorry to hear his parents discourage his interest in learning. I was also sorry to hear your news of Old Rory. He and I were dear friends, and it is hard to realise he has gone before me.

Gandalf and I have been having wonderful conversations about all the latest doings in the Shire, and he brought me the leaf that you so kindly sent. I know that he will be heading once more out into the Wild, but he has said that he will be checking on you again soon, which relieves my mind a good deal.

As for myself, I have found a nice place for my retirement, where I am free to indulge my scholarly interests, and to write my little bits of poetry from time to time without interruptions. Everyone is very kind to me, and quite indulgent of this old hobbit.

I do miss you still, and the Shire, and a few times have thought of returning for a visit, but I am afraid that age has caught up with me at last, and I am no longer up to such traipsing about. And it would not do for me to show my nose back in the Shire after the manner of my leaving. It might create difficulties for you.

I am giving this letter to Gandalf, as he says he will be going back to the Shire later this year.

Love,

Your fond Uncle Bilbo"


And another letter

"10 Halimath, S.R. 1408

My dear Frodo,

Gandalf is here once more, and has consented to bring this letter, along with good wishes for you on our Birthday.

I wrote to you about two years ago, in response to your last letter, but I am sorry to say that the messenger went awry, and after many months, the letter found its way back to me, much the worse for wear. There are still many dangers in the Wild. So I decided that it would be unwise to imperil any other messengers in that manner. That is why I had to wait for Gandalf to return.

You will be forty! That is so hard for me to imagine, when I remember the curious young tween who came to live with me so many years ago! But Gandalf has assured me that you have come into your own, and that you are very well-respected as the Master of Bag End, and the Head of the Bagginses. I confess to a bit of disappointment at the news that you still have found no lass to catch your eye, but you are young yet. And perhaps you are simply a confirmed bachelor as am I, and I should be the last to find fault with that!

I do still miss you, my lad. And there are many things I would like to share with you, but I cannot write them without revealing my whereabouts. Just know that I am safe, and that I think of you often.

All my love,

Uncle Bilbo"

Last letter:

"8 Wedmath, S.R. 1417

My dear Frodo,

I know that it has been a long while since last I wrote. But you have been a good deal on my mind of late; I have been worrying about you, and having had no word from you in several years I do not know what basis there is for my worry.

Of course that is my own fault for being so cagey that only Gandalf may deliver your letters. But I’ve always feared that if you knew where I was, you’d follow after me.

Do you know, I’ve also found myself worrying about my old ring? I remember the last few years before I left, how it would somehow need looking after. It may sound rather silly, but sometimes the thing seemed to change its size or weight, and shrink or get larger! I once had it slip off my finger at a most inconvenient moment! And another time, it actually got too tight for a moment, and I feared I could not remove it! I suppose that may be part of its magic; I wouldn’t know about such things, but do take care with it.

Do not worry about me. I am old, though I still have hopes of surpassing the Old Took, but I am safe and warm, and among friends. And it often comforts me to imagine you, safe and warm at Bag End, among your own friends.

Love,

Uncle Bilbo"


Frodo’s first Last Will and Testament




LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

OF

FRODO BAGGINS


Be it remembered that I, Frodo Baggins, a resident of Hobbiton, located in the West Farthing of the Shire, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and mindful of the uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, publish and declare this document as my Last Will and Testament, and hereby revoke all former wills and testaments or writings and codicils thereto, by me made.

ARTICLE I. Funeral Expense. It is my desire that all of my funeral expenses be paid out of the assets of my estate as soon as practicable after my death, and I order and direct that any members of my family who have disbursed their personal funds for the payment of my funeral expenses be reimbursed promptly by my Executor.

ARTICLE II. Personal Effects. All of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed to my dear cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, or the survivor thereof. In the event both of my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, shall predecease me, then and in that event, upon my death, that cousin’s portion of all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, mathoms, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck.

ARTICLE III. Specific Bequests. I hereby give, devise, and bequeath Bag End to the head of the Baggins family.

ARTICLE IV. Disposition of Residuary.

A. Upon my death, all of the rest, residue, and residuary of my estate, herein referred to as my Residuary Estate, be it real property, personal property or mixed, wherever situated, of which I may die seized or possessed, or to which I may be or become in any way entitled or have any interest, shall be distributed to my dear cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, or the survivor thereof.

B. In the event that both of my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, shall predecease me, then and in that event, that cousin’s portion of my Residuary Estate shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck.

ARTICLE V. Payment to Minors and Incompetents. Except as provided for in Articles III and IV, if, pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, any portion of my estate becomes payable to any beneficiary during such beneficiary’s minority, or to any beneficiary who shall have been determined to be incompetent, my Executor, in his sole discretion, shall be authorised to distribute said portion of the estate to a parent or guardian of the beneficiary, or to the person with whom such beneficiary resides, without obligation by the Executor to look to the proper application or use of any payment so made; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may make distributions in such manner as he believes will best benefit the beneficiary, and also may pay to the beneficiary directly such sums as the Executor shall approve as an allowance; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may accumulate and hold all or a portion of the assets which otherwise would be distributed to the beneficiary, and distribute said assets to the beneficiary when he or she attains the age of thirty-three (33) years, or upon removal of the incapacity. However, if said beneficiary dies before the age of thirty-three (33) years, or prior to the removal of the incapacity, and no other provision is made in this Will for the passing of such beneficiary’s interest to others, then my Executor shall distribute any accumulated corpus and income to the estate of the beneficiary.

ARTICLE VI. Renunciation. I hereby resign, renounce, and relinquish my position as head of the Baggins family upon my death.

ARTICLE VII. Powers of Executor. In the administration of my estate pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, the Executor shall have the following powers, which may be exercised in whole or in part, and which shall be deemed to be supplementary to and not exclusive of the general powers of executors pursuant to the rules of the Shire, and shall include all powers necessary to put the same into effect. Such powers may be exercised independently and without the prior or subsequent approval of any authority, and nobody dealing with the Executor shall be required to inquire into the propriety of any of his actions.

A. To retain, in his absolute discretion, and for such period as he shall deem advisable, any and all investments and other properties held by me at the time of my death without liability for any loss incurred by reason of the retention of such investments or properties.

B. To sell, pledge, and otherwise dispose of the assets of my estate and of the interests established pursuant to this Will, or any part of said assets, when he deems such action necessary and proper for the purpose of complying with my testamentary desires as herein expressed, and for the purpose of conserving, preserving and maintaining my estate.

C. With respect to any indebtedness held by me at the time of my death, to enter into agreements for the alteration of my interest therein, or of the rights and obligations under any contract with respect thereto, in effect at the time of my death.

D. To take any action deemed advisable to enforce, compromise or arbitrate any obligation, lien or other claim held by me, and to agree to any rescission or modification of any contract or agreement.

E. To hold undivided interests in any other properties held by me or that may form part of my estate at the time of my death, or that may be purchased or acquired thereafter on behalf of my estate without being required to make a physical division of any properties which may form a part of my estate at the time of my death.

F. In the event that at the time of my death I am a member of any partnership, joint venture, or undertaking, whether alone or jointly with one (1) or more persons, I hereby authorise and empower the Executor to carry out and perform the terms of such partnership or joint venture, including furnishing additional assets as may be necessary or desirable in the sole discretion of my Executor, it being my intention that the Executor shall have full power to cooperate with my surviving partner or partners, or joint venturers in such manner as shall be deemed advisable by the Executor, in order that the continuation, development and intention of such partnerships, ventures, or undertakings shall not be prevented or interfered with by virtue of the continued interest therein of my estate.

G. To loan or borrow money to or for such businesses or business interests which I may own at the time of my death.

H. To lease any real estate for such terms and upon such conditions and in such manner as he may deem advisable, and any lease so made shall be valid and binding for the full term thereof. To make repairs, replacements and improvements, structural or otherwise, to any such real estate; to insure against fire or other risks as he may deem proper. To subdivide real estate, to dedicate same to public use, and to grant easements as he may deem proper.

I. Whenever required or permitted to divide and distribute any funds under this Will, to make such distributions in money or in kind, or partly in money and partly in kind, and to exercise all powers herein conferred until my estate had been fully distributed.

J. To employ accountants, attorneys, and such agents as he may deem advisable; to pay reasonable compensation for their services.

K. To determine which assets or portion thereof shall be distributed to or for the benefit of each beneficiary of my estate in satisfaction of the share which he or she is entitled to receive under this, my Last Will and Testament. The selection and distribution of assets by the Executor shall be binding and conclusive upon all persons and shall not be subject to question by any beneficiary.

ARTICLE VIII. Appointment of Executor.

A. I hereby appoint my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, as Executor under this, my Last Will and Testament.

B. In the event my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Paladin Took, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor.

ARTICLE IX. Construction of Will. Wherever the context of any provision of this Will permits, any word in either number shall be construed to mean both singular and plural; any word in the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter; any word in the feminine gender shall include the masculine and neuter.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Frodo Baggins, have signed and published this Will this eighth day of Winterfilth, S.R. 1403.

________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

_________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

_________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

_________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

_________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

_________________________ (SEAL)
PONTO BAGGINS

_________________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

_________________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN COTTON


This instrument was signed, sealed, published and declared by Frodo Baggins, the Testator above named, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereupon subscribed our names as witnesses, this clause first having been read to us and we now intending to certify that the matters herein specified took place in fact and in the order named. Furthermore, we, the Testator, Frodo Baggins, and the witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, do hereby declare to the undersigned officer that the Testator signed the instrument as the Last Will and Testament of Frodo Baggins and that he signed voluntarily and that each of the witnesses in the presence of the Testator, at his request, and in the presence of each other, signed the Will as a witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each witness the Testator was at that time thirty-three (33) years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.


________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

_________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

_________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

_________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

_________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

_________________________ (SEAL)
PONTO BAGGINS

_________________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

_________________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN COTTON

Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Frodo Baggins, the Testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the eighth day of Winterfilth, S.R. 1403.


_________________________(SEAL)
Herveus Grubb, Attorney



Frodo’s second Last Will and Testament



LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

OF

FRODO BAGGINS


Be it remembered that I, Frodo Baggins, a resident of Hobbiton, located in the West Farthing of the Shire, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and mindful of the uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, publish and declare this document as my Last Will and Testament, and hereby revoke all former wills and testaments or writings and codicils thereto, by me made.

ARTICLE I. Funeral Expense. It is my desire that all of my funeral expenses be paid out of the assets of my estate as soon as practicable after my death, and I order and direct that any members of my family who have disbursed their personal funds for the payment of my funeral expenses be reimbursed promptly by my Executor.

ARTICLE II. Personal Effects. All of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally between my dearest cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. In the event that either of my cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, then and in that event, upon my death, that cousin’s portion of all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, mathoms, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of whichever of my cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took, has predeceased me.

ARTICLE III. Specific Bequests. I hereby give, devise, and bequeath the following:

A. To my dear cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, I leave all of my Brandybuck family inheritance and heirlooms, including all of the jewelry in the jewelry box that belonged to my mother, Primula Baggins, any and all items of needlework including but not limited to knitted coverlets, quilts, embroidered tablecloths, created by my mother, Primula Baggins, any household items that had belonged to my mother, Primula Baggins, and still remain in Buckland, the framed marriage certificate of my parents. In the event that my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Brandybuck family heirlooms and inheritance equally between all of the children of my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck. In the event my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Brandybuck family heirlooms and inheritance to the Master of the Hall to be restored to the Brandybuck family.

B. To my dear cousin, Peregrin Took, I leave all of my Baggins family inheritance and my Took family heirlooms, including the jewels that came down through the Took line from Adamanta Took nee Chubb to Belladonna Baggins nee Took, including the matched set of gold necklace with diamond pendant, pair of gold and diamond earrings, and gold and diamond bracelet, the framed marriage document of Bungo and Belladonna Baggins, and the portrait of Belladonna Took. In the event that my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Baggins family inheritance and Took family heirlooms equally between all of the children of my cousin, Peregrin Took. In the event my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Baggins family inheritance to the head of the Baggins family to be restored to the Baggins and all of my Took family heirlooms to my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck.

C. To Ponto Baggins, I leave all of my Baggins family heirlooms to keep for the Baggins family, including the Baggins Family Books along with a carved wooden case in which they are kept, a signet ring with the seal of the head of the Baggins family, a golden necklace with a pendant of beryl that was originally created for Berylla Baggins nee Boffin; the silver platter engraved with the Baggins family monogram that is passed down to each head of family, and my cradle which was built and carved by my father, Drogo Baggins.

D. To my friend and neighbour, Hamfast Gamgee, who has been much more than a gardener to me, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath Number 3 Bagshot Row and a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year, whether it is proper or not.

E. To my friend and neighbour, Tilbert “Daddy” Twofoot, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year.

F. To my friend and neighbour, Ivy Rumble, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year.

ARTICLE IV. Disposition of Residuary.

A. Upon my death, all of the rest, residue, and residuary of my estate, herein referred to as my Residuary Estate, be it real property, personal property or mixed, wherever situated, of which I may die seized or possessed, or to which I may be or become in any way entitled or have any interest, shall be distributed equally between my dearest cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took.

B. In the event that either of my cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, then and in that event, that cousin’s portion of my Residuary Estate shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of whichever of my cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took, has predeceased me.

C. In the event that either of my cousins, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, that cousin’s portion of my Residuary Estate shall be distributed to my remaining cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck or Peregrin Took.

ARTICLE V. Payment to Minors and Incompetents. Except as provided for in Articles III and IV, if, pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, any portion of my estate becomes payable to any beneficiary during such beneficiary’s minority, or to any beneficiary who shall have been determined to be incompetent, my Executor, in his sole discretion, shall be authorised to distribute said portion of the estate to a parent or guardian of the beneficiary, or to the person with whom such beneficiary resides, without obligation by the Executor to look to the proper application or use of any payment so made; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may make distributions in such manner as he believes will best benefit the beneficiary, and also may pay to the beneficiary directly such sums as the Executor shall approve as an allowance; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may accumulate and hold all or a portion of the assets which otherwise would be distributed to the beneficiary, and distribute said assets to the beneficiary when he or she attains the age of thirty-three (33) years, or upon removal of the incapacity. However, if said beneficiary dies before the age of thirty-three (33) years, or prior to the removal of the incapacity, and no other provision is made in this Will for the passing of such beneficiary’s interest to others, then my Executor shall distribute any accumulated corpus and income to the estate of the beneficiary.

ARTICLE VI. Implementation Upon Constructive Death. In the event I declare in a written statement to my attorneys my intentions to permanently leave the Shire and its environs, then and in that event, upon receipt of said written statement by my attorneys, it shall be construed that I have constructively died as of the time set forth in said written statement and all of the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, shall at that time be implemented with the full force and effect as if I were deceased.

ARTICLE VII. Renouncement. I hereby resign, renounce, and relinquish my position as head of the Baggins family upon my actual or constructive death.

ARTICLE VIII. Powers of Executor. In the administration of my estate pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, the Executor shall have the following powers, which may be exercised in whole or in part, and which shall be deemed to be supplementary to and not exclusive of the general powers of executors pursuant to the rules of the Shire, and shall include all powers necessary to put the same into effect. Such powers may be exercised independently and without the prior or subsequent approval of any authority, and nobody dealing with the Executor shall be required to inquire into the propriety of any of his actions.

A. To retain, in his absolute discretion, and for such period as he shall deem advisable, any and all investments and other properties held by me at the time of my death without liability for any loss incurred by reason of the retention of such investments or properties.

B. To sell, pledge, and otherwise dispose of the assets of my estate and of the interests established pursuant to this Will, or any part of said assets, when he deems such action necessary and proper for the purpose of complying with my testamentary desires as herein expressed, and for the purpose of conserving, preserving and maintaining my estate.

C. With respect to any indebtedness held by me at the time of my death, to enter into agreements for the alteration of my interest therein, or of the rights and obligations under any contract with respect thereto, in effect at the time of my death.

D. To take any action deemed advisable to enforce, compromise or arbitrate any obligation, lien or other claim held by me, and to agree to any rescission or modification of any contract or agreement.

E. To hold undivided interests in any other properties held by me or that may form part of my estate at the time of my death, or that may be purchased or acquired thereafter on behalf of my estate without being required to make a physical division of any properties which may form a part of my estate at the time of my death.

F. In the event that at the time of my death I am a member of any partnership, joint venture, or undertaking, whether alone or jointly with one (1) or more persons, I hereby authorise and empower the Executor to carry out and perform the terms of such partnership or joint venture, including furnishing additional assets as may be necessary or desirable in the sole discretion of my Executor, it being my intention that the Executor shall have full power to cooperate with my surviving partner or partners, or joint venturers in such manner as shall be deemed advisable by the Executor, in order that the continuation, development and intention of such partnerships, ventures, or undertakings shall not be prevented or interfered with by virtue of the continued interest therein of my estate.

G. To loan or borrow money to or for such businesses or business interests which I may own at the time of my death.

H. To lease any real estate for such terms and upon such conditions and in such manner as he may deem advisable, and any lease so made shall be valid and binding for the full term thereof. To make repairs, replacements and improvements, structural or otherwise, to any such real estate; to insure against fire or other risks as he may deem proper. To subdivide real estate, to dedicate same to public use, and to grant easements as he may deem proper.

I. Whenever required or permitted to divide and distribute any funds under this Will, to make such distributions in money or in kind, or partly in money and partly in kind, and to exercise all powers herein conferred until my estate had been fully distributed.

J. To employ accountants, attorneys, and such agents as he may deem advisable; to pay reasonable compensation for their services.

K. To determine which assets or portion thereof shall be distributed to or for the benefit of each beneficiary of my estate in satisfaction of the share which he or she is entitled to receive under this, my Last Will and Testament. The selection and distribution of assets by the Executor shall be binding and conclusive upon all persons and shall not be subject to question by any beneficiary.

ARTICLE IX. Appointment of Executor.

A. I hereby appoint my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, as Executor under this, my Last Will and Testament.

B. In the event my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Paladin Took, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor.

C. In the event my cousin, Paladin Took, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Fredegar Bolger, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor.

ARTICLE X. Construction of Will. Wherever the context of any provision of this Will permits, any word in either number shall be construed to mean both singular and plural; any word in the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter; any word in the feminine gender shall include the masculine and neuter;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Frodo Baggins, have signed and published this Will this sixth day of Halimath, S.R. 1418.


________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

_________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

_________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

_________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

_________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

_________________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

_________________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN COTTON

_________________________ (SEAL)
SAMWISE GAMGEE


This instrument was signed, sealed, published and declared by Frodo Baggins, the Testator above named, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereupon subscribed our names as witnesses, this clause first having been read to us and we now intending to certify that the matters herein specified took place in fact and in the order named. Furthermore, we, the Testator, Frodo Baggins, and the witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, do hereby declare to the undersigned officer that the Testator signed the instrument as the Last Will and Testament of Frodo Baggins and that he signed voluntarily and that each of the witnesses in the presence of the Testator, at his request, and in the presence of each other, signed the Will as a witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each witness the Testator was at that time thirty-three (33) years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.

________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

_________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

_________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

_________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

_________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

_________________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

_________________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN COTTON

_________________________ (SEAL)
SAMWISE GAMGEE


Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Frodo Baggins, the Testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the sixth day of Halimath, S.R. 1418.


_________________________ (SEAL)
Herveus Grubb, Attorney


Included with Frodo’s second Will:


RENUNCIATION

RENUNCIATION made this ________ day of ______________________, S.R. ___________, by Thain Paladin II, an adult, of Tuckborough located in the Westfarthing of the Shire.

W I T N E S S E T H:

Whereas, I am the father of Peregrin Took, a minor born on 1 Astron, S.R.

1390; and

Whereas, I am the presently the head of the Took family, also known as

“The Took”; and

Whereas, my cousin, Frodo Baggins, has signed and executed a Last Will

and Testament naming my son, Peregrin Took, as one of its major beneficiaries;

and

Whereas, I am desirous that any inheritances to which my son, Peregrin

Took, is named shall be distributed to my son, Peregrin Took, regardless of his

minority;

Now therefore, this is to certify that I, Thain Paladin II, hereby disaffirm

and renounce all present and future right, interest, and ownership of any and all

possessions and inheritances that my son, Peregrin Took, a minor, may receive

from his cousin, Frodo Baggins due to the Last Will and Testament of said Frodo

Baggins executed this date.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Thain Paladin II, have signed and published this Renunciation this ________ day of _____________, S.R. _______.


___________________ (SEAL)
Thain Paladin II

WITNESSES:

___________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

___________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

___________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

___________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

___________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

___________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN COTTON

___________________ (SEAL)
SAMWISE GAMGEE

Subscribed to and acknowledged before me by Thain Paladin II and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the ________ day of _____________, S.R. ________.


____________________(SEAL)
HERVEUS GRUBB, Attorney


Frodo’s final Last Will and Testament



LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

OF

FRODO BAGGINS


Be it remembered that I, Frodo Baggins, a resident of Hobbiton, located in the West Farthing of the Shire, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, and mindful of the uncertainties of this life, do hereby make, publish and declare this document as my Last Will and Testament, and hereby revoke all former wills and testaments or writings and codicils thereto, by me made.

ARTICLE I. Funeral Expense. It is my desire that all of my funeral expenses be paid out of the assets of my estate as soon as practicable after my death, and I order and direct that any members of my family who have disbursed their personal funds for the payment of my funeral expenses be reimbursed promptly by my Executor.

ARTICLE II. Personal Effects. I hereby give and bequeath all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, china, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of to my heir, Samwise Gamgee, who has become one of my dearest friends, and his wife, Rose Gamgee, or the survivor thereof. In the event that my heir, Samwise Gamgee, and his wife, Rose Gamgee, shall predecease me, then and in that event, upon my death, all of my personal effects, furniture, furnishings, smialhold goods, silverware, mathoms, Elven books, and ornaments not otherwise disposed of shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of my heir, Samwise Gamgee, and his wife, Rose Gamgee.

ARTICLE III. Specific Bequests. I hereby give, devise, and bequeath the following:

A. To my dear cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Brandybuck family heirlooms, including all of the jewelry in the jewelry box that belonged to my mother, Primula Baggins, any and all items of needlework including but not limited to knitted coverlets, quilts, embroidered tablecloths, created by my mother, Primula Baggins nee Brandybuck, any household that had belonged to my mother, Primula Baggins, and still remain in Buckland, the framed marriage certificate of my parents. In the event that my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Brandybuck family inheritance and heirlooms equally between all of the children of my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck. In the event my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Brandybuck family inheritance and heirlooms to the Master of the Hall to be restored to the Brandybuck family.

B. I also leave to my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, my pony, Strider. In the event that my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath my pony, Strider, to my dear friend and heir, Samwise Gamgee. Although you received compensation from Barliman Butterbur in the town of Bree, Merry, it was not sufficient to compensate for the loss of such fine ponies as you provided on the Quest. From the moment you were born, you were the only one who could reach me in my darkest hours. You have been like a brother to me, Sprout, always there to love and protect me. I am so proud of all of your accomplishments. Not only have you become a responsible adult, well loved by all, but a well-respected Knight of Rohan who led the reclamation of the Shire for all hobbits. You have become so much more than merely the Son of the Hall; you are ready to lead and I know you will make a fine Master of Buckland one day.

C. To my dear cousin, Peregrin Took, I leave all of my Took family heirlooms, including the jewels that came down through the Took line from Adamanta Took nee Chubb to Belladonna Baggins nee Took, including the matched set of gold necklace with diamond pendant, pair of gold and diamond earrings, and gold and diamond bracelet, the framed marriage document of Bungo and Belladonna Baggins, and the portrait of Belladonna Took. In the event that my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Took family heirlooms equally between all of the children of my cousin, Peregrin Took. In the event my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me leaving no issue, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath all of my Took family heirlooms to my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck.

D. To my dear cousin, Peregrin Took, whose voice when raised in song is as clear and sweet as that of any Elf, I also hereby give, devise, and bequeath the book of songs written by our cousin, Bilbo Baggins, as well as my Elven book of songs. In the event that my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, then and in that event, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath the book of songs written by our cousin, Bilbo Baggins, as well as my Elven book of songs, to my dear friend, Prince Legolas Greenleaf. Pippin, may you and Legolas spend many happy hours together singing the songs in those books. You have always known how to lighten my spirit when I needed it most. You bring joy and hope to all around you. Although you are not yet considered an adult in the Shire, you have shown through your actions that you are a trustworthy, responsible mature Knight of Gondor whom many in Middle Earth, including me, already respect as an adult. One day, you will be the finest Thain and the Took that the Shire has ever seen. I am proud to call you my cousin.

E. To my cousins, Saradoc and Esmeralda Brandybuck, I leave the portrait of my parents and myself. After the deaths of my parents, you were like a mother and a father to me, raising me as one of your own with all of the love and support any lad could wish for. I know my parents would wish you to have this portrait as well in acknowledgment of the tremendous love you showed to them and to me through the years.

F. To the head of the Baggins family, I leave all of my Baggins family heirlooms, including the Baggins Family Books along with a carved wooden case in which they are kept, a signet ring with the seal of the head of the Baggins family, a golden necklace with a pendant of beryl that was originally created for Berylla Baggins nee Boffin; the silver platter engraved with the Baggins family monogram that is passed down to each head of family, and my cradle which was built and carved by my father, Drogo Baggins.

G. Though you refused to take the Ring from me when I offered it to you, my dear friend, Aragorn, Elessar, King of Gondor and the Westlands, to you I leave my own braided golden ring given to me by my parents, Drogo and Primula Baggins, upon the occasion of my birth. May it serve as a remembrance of my esteem and appreciation for you. You came along at a time when I needed you most and never swayed in your steadfast friendship. You truly are a king among Men and I shall always miss my dear friend, “Strider.”

H. To my dear cousin, Fredegar Bolger, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath the new Elven broach and cloak granted to me by the Lady Galadriel specifically for you. Though you remained in the Shire, through your actions to assist me in leaving the Shire undetected on the Quest to destroy the Ring, you proved you were as much a part of the Fellowship as any of the Nine Walkers.

I. My dear friend, Prince Legolas Greenleaf, to you, who helped the Fellowship keep its peace and balance when all seemed lost, I leave my favourite smoking pipe, in the hope that you may yet discover one of the joys of this world still a mystery to you. I only wish that I could have seen both you and Boromir smoking pipes after the way the two of you made such dreadful fun of the rest of the Fellowship when we suffered the additional cruelty of not being able to smoke once our leaf ran out.

J. To my dear friend, Lord Gimli, who saved the life of my dear cousin, Peregrin Took, when all hope was lost, I leave my polished piece of rose coloured quartz that I found at Bag End and that you admired so much on your visit. I also leave to you one pound of the finest Longbottom Leaf in the hopes that you might manage to tempt Legolas into smoking my favourite pipe.

K. To my friend and neighbour, Hamfast Gamgee, who has been much more than a gardener to me, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year for his many years of steadfast service and friendship to my cousin, Bilbo Baggins, and me.

L. To my friend and neighbour, Tilbert “Daddy” Twofoot, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year.

M. To my friend and neighbour, Ivy Rumble, I hereby give, devise, and bequeath a stipend of fifteen (15) silver pennies per year.

ARTICLE IV. Disposition of Residuary.

A. Upon my death, all of the rest, residue, and residuary of my estate, herein referred to as my Residuary Estate, be it real property, personal property or mixed, wherever situated, of which I may die seized or possessed, or to which I may be or become in any way entitled or have any interest, including Bag End, shall be distributed to my heir, Samwise Gamgee, and his wife, Rose Gamgee, or the survivor thereof.

B. In the event that my heir, Samwise Gamgee, and his wife, Rose Gamgee, shall predecease me, then and in that event, my Residuary Estate, including Bag End, shall be distributed equally amongst all of the children of my heir, Samwise Gamgee, and his wife, Rose Gamgee.

ARTICLE V. Payment to Minors and Incompetents. Except as provided for in Articles III and IV, if, pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, any portion of my estate becomes payable to any beneficiary during such beneficiary’s minority, or to any beneficiary who shall have been determined to be incompetent, my Executor, in his sole discretion, shall be authorised to distribute said portion of the estate to a parent or guardian of the beneficiary, or to the person with whom such beneficiary resides, without obligation by the Executor to look to the proper application or use of any payment so made; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may make distributions in such manner as he believes will best benefit the beneficiary, and also may pay to the beneficiary directly such sums as the Executor shall approve as an allowance; or the Executor, in his sole discretion, may accumulate and hold all or a portion of the assets which otherwise would be distributed to the beneficiary, and distribute said assets to the beneficiary when he or she attains the age of thirty-three (33) years, or upon removal of the incapacity. However, if said beneficiary dies before the age of thirty-three (33) years, or prior to the removal of the incapacity, and no other provision is made in this Will for the passing of such beneficiary’s interest to others, then my Executor shall distribute any accumulated corpus and income to the estate of the beneficiary.

ARTICLE VI. Implementation Upon Constructive Death. In the event I declare in a written statement to my attorneys my intentions to permanently leave the Shire and its environs, then and in that event, upon receipt of said written statement by my attorneys, it shall be presumed and construed that I have constructively died and all of the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, shall at that time be implemented with the full force and effect as if I were deceased.

ARTICLE VII. Renouncement. I hereby resign, renounce, and relinquish my position as head of the Baggins family upon my actual or constructive death.

ARTICLE VIII. Powers of Executor. In the administration of my estate pursuant to the terms of this, my Last Will and Testament, the Executor shall have the following powers, which may be exercised in whole or in part, and which shall be deemed to be supplementary to and not exclusive of the general powers of executors pursuant to the rules of the Shire, and shall include all powers necessary to put the same into effect. Such powers may be exercised independently and without the prior or subsequent approval of any authority, and nobody dealing with the Executor shall be required to inquire into the propriety of any of his actions.

A. To retain, in his absolute discretion, and for such period as he shall deem advisable, any and all investments and other properties held by me at the time of my death without liability for any loss incurred by reason of the retention of such investments or properties.

B. To sell, pledge, and otherwise dispose of the assets of my estate and of the interests established pursuant to this Will, or any part of said assets, when he deems such action necessary and proper for the purpose of complying with my testamentary desires as herein expressed, and for the purpose of conserving, preserving and maintaining my estate.

C. With respect to any indebtedness held by me at the time of my death, to enter into agreements for the alteration of my interest therein, or of the rights and obligations under any contract with respect thereto, in effect at the time of my death.

D. To take any action deemed advisable to enforce, compromise or arbitrate any obligation, lien or other claim held by me, and to agree to any rescission or modification of any contract or agreement.

E. To hold undivided interests in any other properties held by me or that may form part of my estate at the time of my death, or that may be purchased or acquired thereafter on behalf of my estate without being required to make a physical division of any properties which may form a part of my estate at the time of my death.

F. In the event that at the time of my death I am a member of any partnership, joint venture, or undertaking, whether alone or jointly with one (1) or more persons, I hereby authorise and empower the Executor to carry out and perform the terms of such partnership or joint venture, including furnishing additional assets as may be necessary or desirable in the sole discretion of my Executor, it being my intention that the Executor shall have full power to cooperate with my surviving partner or partners, or joint venturers in such manner as shall be deemed advisable by the Executor, in order that the continuation, development and intention of such partnerships, ventures, or undertakings shall not be prevented or interfered with by virtue of the continued interest therein of my estate.

G. To loan or borrow money to or for such businesses or business interests which I may own at the time of my death.

H. To lease any real estate for such terms and upon such conditions and in such manner as he may deem advisable, and any lease so made shall be valid and binding for the full term thereof. To make repairs, replacements and improvements, structural or otherwise, to any such real estate; to insure against fire or other risks as he may deem proper. To subdivide real estate, to dedicate same to public use, and to grant easements as he may deem proper.

I. Whenever required or permitted to divide and distribute any funds under this Will, to make such distributions in money or in kind, or partly in money and partly in kind, and to exercise all powers herein conferred until my estate had been fully distributed.

J. To employ accountants, attorneys, and such agents as he may deem advisable; to pay reasonable compensation for their services.

K. To determine which assets or portion thereof shall be distributed to or for the benefit of each beneficiary of my estate in satisfaction of the share which he or she is entitled to receive under this, my Last Will and Testament. The selection and distribution of assets by the Executor shall be binding and conclusive upon all persons and shall not be subject to question by any beneficiary.

ARTICLE IX. Appointment of Executor.

A. I hereby appoint my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, as Executor under this, my Last Will and Testament.

B. In the event my cousin, Meriadoc Brandybuck, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor

C. In the event my cousin, Peregrin Took, shall predecease me, or for any reason shall fail to qualify as Executor hereunder (or having qualified, shall die or resign), then and in such event, my cousin, Saradoc Brandybuck, shall be appointed as Successor Executor under this Will, in which capacity he shall possess and exercise all powers hereinbefore conferred on my Executor.

ARTICLE X. Construction of Will. Wherever the context of any provision of this Will permits, any word in either number shall be construed to mean both singular and plural; any word in the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter; any word in the feminine gender shall include the masculine and neuter;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Frodo Baggins, have signed and published this Will this 27th day of Astron, S.R. 1420.


________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

________________________ (SEAL)
WALDO BURROWES

________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

________________________ (SEAL)
ROBIN SMALLBURROW

________________________ (SEAL)
MERIADOC BRANDYBUCK

 

 

This instrument was signed, sealed, published and declared by Frodo Baggins, the Testator above named, as and for his Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, have hereupon subscribed our names as witnesses, this clause first having been read to us and we now intending to certify that the matters herein specified took place in fact and in the order named. Furthermore, we, the Testator, Frodo Baggins, and the witnesses respectively, whose names are signed to the foregoing instrument, do hereby declare to the undersigned officer that the Testator signed the instrument as the Last Will and Testament of Frodo Baggins and that he signed voluntarily and that each of the witnesses in the presence of the Testator, at his request, and in the presence of each other, signed the Will as a witness and that to the best of the knowledge of each witness the Testator was at that time thirty-three (33) years or more of age, of sound mind and under no constraint or undue influence.


________________________ (SEAL)
FRODO BAGGINS

WITNESSES:

________________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

________________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

________________________ (SEAL)
WALDO BURROWES

________________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

________________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

________________________ (SEAL)
ROBIN SMALLBURROW

________________________ (SEAL)
MERIADOC BRANDYBUCK


Subscribed and acknowledged before me by Frodo Baggins, the Testator, and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the 27th day of Astron, S.R. 1420.


________________________(SEAL)
Herveus Grubb, Attorney



Included with Frodo’s final Will:


RENUNCIATION

RENUNCIATION made this 27 day of Astron, S.R. 1420, by Ponto Baggins, an adult, of Hobbiton located in the Westfarthing of the Shire.

W I T N E S S E T H:

Whereas, my cousin, Frodo Baggins is presently the head of the Baggins

family; and

Whereas, in the event that my cousin, Frodo Baggins, shall predecease

me or be presumed and construed to predecease me, I shall be the head of the

Baggins family; and

Whereas, my cousin, Frodo Baggins, has this date signed and executed a

Last Will and Testament naming Samwise Gamgee as his heir and bequesting to

Samwise and Rose Gamgee all of his residual assets, including Bag End; and

Whereas, I am desirous that any such inheritance to which Samwise and

Rose Gamgee is named, including Bag End, shall be distributed to Samwise and

Rose Gamgee, despite their not being related to the Bagginses;

Now therefore, this is to certify that I, Ponto Baggins, on behalf of the

Baggins family, hereby disaffirm and renounce all present and future right,

interest, and ownership of any and all possessions, and inheritances, including

Bag End, that my Samwise and Rose Gamgee, may receive from my cousin,

Frodo Baggins due to the Last Will and Testament of said Frodo Baggins

executed this date.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I, Ponto Baggins, have signed and published this Renunciation this ________ day of ______________________________________, S.R. _____________.


_______________________ (SEAL)
Ponto Baggins

WITNESSES:
_______________________ (SEAL)
HERILO GRUBB

_______________________ (SEAL)
LANDO BURROWES

_______________________ (SEAL)
MATFRID “MATT” HEADSTRONG

_______________________ (SEAL)
ABBO “BOB” CRICKETT

_______________________ (SEAL)
HAMFAST GAMGEE

_______________________ (SEAL)
TOLMAN “Tom” COTTON

_______________________ (SEAL)
Bowman “Nick” GAMGEE

Subscribed to and acknowledged before me by Thain Paladin II and subscribed and sworn to before me by the above witnesses on the ________ day of ____________________________, S.R.________.


Herveus Grubb, Attorney

 

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To Cast Away a Treasure at Need by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

The Author's Notes for this chapter include a picture of the box's contents, and an explanation of how it came to be.




CHAPTER 6: "TO CAST AWAY A TREASURE AT NEED..."

Sam stood for a moment, his head out the window, breathing heavily, his mind in turmoil. After a moment, he felt Merry's hand on his back.

"Sam?" It was a rather raspy whisper.

Sam took a deep breath. "I'm all right now. It--it was just the shock--"

"I take it--" Merry's voice was hoarse, and he broke off, clearing his throat. When he spoke again, his voice was stronger. "I take it you didn't know anything about that?"

"No, no--I'd no idea!"

Pippin still sat on the settee, the open box in his hands, staring at it. Then, with a sudden and decisive movement, he overturned the box above the tea table--

and watched the chain come slithering out.

Merry and Sam came over behind him and stared. There was no doubt whatsoever what chain that was. Most of its length was discoloured with what looked like-- and yet they knew was not--rust; one link was broken, the end pulled out, distorted and sharp.

Sam gasped again, shaking his head in denial. He leaned forward, placing his hands on the back of the settee. Merry looked at him for a moment, and then said "I think we could all use a drink."

Sam fumbled awkwardly at his fob, and drew forth a small key that he handed to Merry. "With little ones about, I keep the cabinet locked." His voice was distracted and distant.

Merry nodded and went over to the cabinet next to the study door, and unlocking it, drew forth a bottle of brandy and three snifters. Uncorking it, he poured a small amount in each, and then, casting a glance at the chain on the table, he poured a little bit more.

He handed one snifter to Sam and another to Pippin, and then guided Sam back to sit in his chair. Grabbing his own snifter, he sat down next to Pippin, and took a large swallow of the brandy. Pippin stared for a moment, making a face, for he did not care for distilled spirits and generally stuck to wine and ale. Then he took a quick swallow, much as he might have swallowed bitter medicine. The cousins looked over at Sam, and realised he had already finished his. His colour had begun to come back, and tears were running down his face.

"I can't believe it. I thought 't was lost at the fiery Mountain, along with the--the Ring. I can't think how Mr. Frodo come by it."

Pippin had yet to speak. He took another swallow from the snifter, grimaced, and put it down. Then he leant forward, and put a finger forth, stopping short of touching the grisly chain. "So much blood," he whispered. "so much."

"The Ring were so heavy, once we came into the Black Land; so much heavier than before, and it got even heavier with every mile we went. That chain rubbed his neck raw with its chafing, digging into his skin, cutting, bleeding--" Sam's voice was low and intent, his eyes had a faraway look in them. "I hated that chain near as much as I hated that Ring! Why would he have it? Why would he keep it?"

Merry wet his lips, and stared as well. It was horrible to contemplate, yet he could not look away. He took another large swallow of the brandy.

Then he put the snifter down. "I suppose we had better open the letter, then." He picked it up and put his thumb under the seal. "Maybe--maybe this will explain how it came to be here." He opened the letter with a trembling hand, and clearing his throat, began to read:


"19 Halimath, S.R. 1421
Bag End

My dearest and most beloved friends--

I know that sooner or later Sam will find this strongbox. And knowing Sam, I am certain that he will call on you, Merry and Pippin, to help him sort through these things. For the most part the items in this strongbox are things that I had saved all of my life, mementos of those who were dearest to me. I think that you may be surprised at some of these things, and will recognise many of them.

But where I go now, I can take only a few of the smallest tokens. Rest assured that I have with me things that will help me to remember each of our lives together--yet even without those reminders, I will never forget you, my three dearest ones. I hope that as you sort through the mementos in this strongbox, you are filled with as many happy memories of our time together and stories you have heard as I was when I placed these cherished memories here for you.

Yet, not all mementos are pleasant ones. And not everything that should be cast aside can be, as I have learnt to my everlasting regret. But where I go now it has no place. It is my hope that by leaving it here, the three of you will be better able to understand and accept my decision to leave Middle Earth.

I wish that I could bring myself to discard it--yet I find that I fail at that just as I failed in the end to discard what else needed discarding. Do what you will with it. I could not abide to look at it, yet casting it off was impossible, just as the other task was impossible. In the end, I am leaving it behind me, for it has no place where I go now.

Forgive me, Sam, for not parting with it and making you see it, but when it broke, not all of what it bound to me was destroyed. Even broken it carries memories of things and events that have changed all of us forever. It became as much a part of me as the Shire, or any of you. And so I entrust it to the three of you to do with as you think best. I cannot bear to think more of it now. Please forgive me for my weakness.

I am sorrier than I can say to have left this responsibility and burden upon you all, yet I know that you will do the right thing. I hope that you can forgive me placing such a burden on you.

And I also hope that you will find a place in your lives for the pleasant memories and things I have left for you.

I leave my beloved Shire knowing firsthand that she will be well cared for by all of you as well as by our new King. I have no doubts that the three of you shall be the best Thain, Master of the Hall, and Mayor that the Shire has ever had. I know I will find my peace beyond the sea and hope that you, my brothers, will find yours as well.

I am going to miss you all; I already do. But this was the only way.

All my love,

Frodo."



Merry's voice broke, and he gave a broken sob, quickly suppressed. He made an angry gesture at the chain, which lay on the table like a serpent. "Even that. Even the chain, he couldn't bring himself to say it. Just as he couldn't bring himself to name the Ring. Look at it, covered with his blood, and... is that... is that…" Merry gulped. "… some of his hair?"

There, caught and knotted on the chain, were several dark hairs ending in tiny curls.

Tears pooled in Pippin’s eyes as he looked to Sam, hoping he would say that Merry’s guess was wrong.

Sam was staring at it as if mesmerised. "I don't understand it. I don't know how he come to still have it. Them Orcs took all of his clothes and left him there in naught but his skin, like he were an animal. At the … at the end, he was clad only in my Lórien cloak, with a rope tied around his waist, and a ragged pair of Orc breeks -- it’s not like it could have caught in his shirt and he didn’t know about it until he got back to the Shire."

Merry and Pippin both looked disturbed at this revelation. Although they knew it had been bad, neither Frodo nor Sam had ever mentioned precisely what the Orcs had done to Frodo. Neither one of them had been there and so they had thought it similar to their own experiences among the Orcs. They had both just assumed that Frodo’s clothes were so ragged from the journey that they were thrown away by the healers. The image of their dear cousin in nothing but Sam’s cloak with that chain cutting into his skin as it weighed Frodo down with that Ring was unbearable.

Pippin picked up the quill Merry had been using from time to time to make notes of how the items in the box were to be disposed, and poked at the chain. "That must be how it survived. Sam, you said that this chain cut into his neck so badly that it made Frodo’s neck bleed. Look at it; it must have dug so hard into his skin that it got caught there, caught between the back of his neck and his curls. I’m forever getting things caught or tangled up in my curls. I guess it’s one of the burdens we hobbits have that Men and Elves don’t have to …” Pippin paused, an idea coming to him. “Strider … and Gandalf … they had to have known he had it. Someone gave him the box."

"Why? Why would he keep it?" asked Sam. "It can't have been good for him, to know it was around."

Merry steepled his index fingers together and pursed them against his lips deep in thought.

There was a long silence.

At last, Merry broke the silence that hung over them like the very air of Mordor itself. “This was by no means something Frodo would have wanted to give to anyone as a treasured piece of jewellery in a bequest. Nor would he have wanted to take it with him to Tol Eressëa when he went there to heal.”

“Yes, Merry, but why didn’t he get rid of it? I thought it was gone. Why did he bring it back home to the Shire, to us?” asked Sam.

“He couldn’t,” Pippin whispered. Merry and Sam turned to look at him. “He couldn’t bring himself to do it. He’d thought he had failed with the Ring by not being able to cast it into the fire. This … this chain, became an extension of the Ring to him. And since he couldn’t destroy the Ring, he couldn’t destroy the chain or rid himself of it either. So he kept it in his strongbox to represent the Ring and how he had not had the strength to cast it into the fiery depths of Mount Doom.”

“But why bring it back here?” persisted Sam. "And why--" he wet his lips, "--why leave it for us to find?"

“Because he trusts us,” replied Merry. “When we formed the Conspiracy, we swore to look after him, and he’s holding us to that promise. ‘It became as much a part of me as the Shire, or any of you,’ he said in his letter. Well, he trusted us with his life, and so he trusts us to take care of this.” Merry nodded his chin in the direction of the coiled chain on the tea table. “After all, he did say that he considered us all to be like brothers to him.”

“Welcome to the family, Sam,” Pippin quipped, though his expression remained troubled.

“Poor Mr. Frodo,” Sam said quietly. “It must have been powerful hard for him to carry that thing all the way back here to the Shire, and then to keep it here with him.”

"Gandalf was right--and the Elves," murmured Merry. "I always thought I knew Frodo's heart, that if I loved him enough… I thought I'd failed him, that if I had been with him more..." The tears that had gathered in Merry’s eyes spilled over unheeded. "But this--I'd never have believed this of him. I could never have helped him enough..."

"You thought that, Merry?" asked Sam, surprised. "That's what I've often thought myself, me, right here in Bag End with him, me and Rosie--we thought we was taking care of him, helping him through the dark times. I kept wondering how it was I didn't know, how I never knew he was suffering so bad as he was."

"Oh, Sam!" Pippin put a sympathetic hand on Sam's arm.

"Sometimes--sometimes I even wondered if maybe--maybe I shouldn't have wed my Rose. If I hadn't been so taken up with being her husband, being Elanor's dad, that I could have helped him more... but…"

Merry's head, which had been bowed in his own sorrow jerked up. "Never think that for a moment, Sam! Elanor … Elanor meant the world to him! She brought what little joy and light he could find in his life those last few months!"

Sam wet his lips. "That's a good thing to hear, Merry. I … I felt powerful guilty that I couldn't regret wedding my Rose."

"Strider was right," said Pippin. "He was talking about me, and at the time we'd no clue--but he was right."

"What do you mean, Pip?" asked Merry. Pippin had picked up the quill and was poking at the chain again, as though he could not help it. Merry gently took his wrist and moved his hand away from it. Pippin didn't seem to notice.

"Remember at Isengard? He gave me back my Lórien brooch, and he said 'He who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters'? Frodo was in fetters--he was a slave to the Ring, and that…" he cast a look of loathing at the chain "well, that chain..."

"Fetters." Sam finished the sentence for him. "That's right."

The three stared once more at the chain. Merry gave a deep sigh. "He left it, though, in the end. He did cast it off even though he couldn't cast it away. He looked up, his eyes growing distant, and a sad smile touched his lips. "I think perhaps that this is a good thing--a sign that his healing would come there, in the West."

Pippin's eyes brightened at this. "I think you are right, Merry. Just like--like Bilbo couldn't throw the Ring away, but he could leave it in someone else's care, pass it on."

Sam nodded. "One thing's different though! This is no Ring of Power, what has to be carried off to a fiery Mountain. This is just a plain chain, what it won't take much to destroy." He stood up and decisively strode over to the cold hearth, and began to lay a fire.

Merry and Pippin watched, nodding approvingly. The tinder caught, and they watched silently as Sam built the fire up. Sam came back over, and they watched the fire grow hotter.

With the quill, Pippin took up the chain and dropped it back into the box. Merry reached over and shut the lid with a snap, and pushed the latch closed. Then he handed the box to Sam. "You are Frodo's heir, Sam. The honour belongs to you."

"Thank you." Sam took the box over and tossed it into the hottest part of the fire. "Won't melt it completely--hearth-fire's not hot enough for that. But it won't be a chain no more. It can be raked out and thrown away with the ashes."

"That's fine, Sam," said Merry. And Pippin nodded. As they watched the fire crackle and pop, and the box catch light, the clock on the mantelpiece struck one.

_________________________________________________

For a picture of the chain, and an explanation of how it came to be there, see the Author's Notes for this chapter.

End Notes:

Here is a picture of the chain in the Gondorian box that Sam, Merry, and Pippin found in the strongbox:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

It was important to us in writing this story that Sam, Merry and Pippin be equally surprised that the chain had survived Mount Doom. Their speculation is close to the mark, although of course, it doesn't explain how Frodo came to have the chain in his possession. However, we felt that you, the readers, deserved the full explanation, even if Sam, Merry and Pippin do not learn it.

The chain was indeed, caught in Frodo's hair, and the matted blood where it had cut into his neck. Of course, when he was brought back to the healers, it was removed, and put aside with the other things they yet had. Gandalf and Aragorn questioned what was to be done with it. Aragorn thought it should be disposed of without Frodo ever knowing, but Gandalf thought Frodo deserved the chance to choose what he wished done. He hoped that Frodo would also choose to dispose of it, and thought that giving Frodo the chance to *make* that choice would help him. However, Frodo decided to keep it, and Aragorn provided him with the small box to put it in.

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A Task Completed by Dreamflower

Chapter Notes:

End notes in this chapter include a list of all items in the box, and those to whom they were given, and a recipe.




CHAPTER 7: A TASK COMPLETED


Luncheon was rather a quiet affair.

Sam, Merry and Pippin had emerged from the study, and Sam and Merry had greeted their wives in a cordial, but rather absent way. Pippin had picked up little Elanor on the way to the table, and hugged her tightly, seeming reluctant to relinquish her to the little wooden seat used to boost her up to the table. She gave him a puzzled look. He usually bounced her about a bit, and rode her in on his shoulders, and plunked her into her seat with a flourish.

Rose and Estella exchanged worried looks. It was obvious that something had shaken them up.

“Is everything all right, Sam?” Rose asked tentatively as she and Estella began to put the food on the table: a slaw of cabbages and carrots, cold sliced ham, a pot of beans, tiny potatoes boiled in their jackets and tossed with butter and parsley, and freshly baked bread.

Sam looked slightly startled at his wife’s question, and simply said, “We finished with the box, Rosie-wife. There’s no problem now.”
Rose narrowed her eyes at this, even while kissing her husband on top of the head as she placed the butter-dish on the table, and caught Estella’s eye once more. Neither of them had missed the evasion.

Estella seated herself, and reached for Merry’s right hand to give it a squeeze. To her dismay, it felt chill to the touch. Not cold, not yet, not like it got in Rethe. “Merry?”

Merry gently moved his hand and picked up his fork. “These potatoes look lovely.” He popped one into his mouth, and attempted to look as though there were nothing wrong.

“Them’s the first of the new potatoes, Merry.” said Sam quickly. “I grow them in old half-barrels, just to have the new potatoes.”

Merry nodded. “They are certainly good. How do you grow them in barrels?”

And Sam and Merry began to talk over potato growing in great detail, as though there were nothing of more importance.

Pippin had yet to say a word, but was concentrating on his food single-mindedly.

Rose and Estella looked at one another again. If nothing else would indicate something wrong, Pippin’s silence alone would have tipped them off.

The conversation continued to be about the food, with a determination to allow no other subject that would have made Miss Dora Baggins proud.

And yet it was not the happy and interested sort of chatter that hobbits are used to.

It helped a bit when little Wyn, sitting in her highchair, and uncharacteristically overlooked by her parents, decided that her beans were not only a finger-food, and something to adorn her face, but also excellent missiles.

“Oi!” said Pippin a bit crossly, as a bean suddenly hit him behind the ear. Normally he would have found this very funny. Estella, who had Perry in her lap, passed her son over to his father, and got up to find a wet cloth to clean up her daughter. Perry looked up at his father with a grin, and reached for Merry‘s nose.

Little Elanor had been watching with wide eyes. She looked anxiously between her father and her two “uncles,” and then said sadly, “Daddy? Are you and Unca Merry and Unca Pip mad with me? Did I do something bad?”

Sam looked stricken. “Oh, Elanorelle! No! We are not angry at all!”

Merry and Pippin looked at one another guiltily. As Estella returned to her seat after cleaning up Wyn, Merry passed his son back to his mother, and stood up.

“I think perhaps your Dad and Pippin and I have been cooped up inside too long, Ellie-lass. We are a bit sad because we need to go outside and get some sunshine and fresh air.”

Elanor’s face brightened at this explanation, which she could understand. “You should go for a walk,” she said sagely, “and maybe look at the kitties.”

Pippin gave a little chuckle, and dropped a kiss on top of her head. “Such a wise little lass. I think you are absolutely right.” And he stood up as well.

Sam glanced at Rose. He disliked the thought of going off and leaving the rest of the meal. It was not a very good example to the children. But sitting at the table glumly and upsetting everyone was worse. Rose gave him a nod.

He stood up as well. “I guess it’s as good an idea as any. P’rhaps we’ll just walk to Bywater and pay a visit to The Green Dragon. We might as well take our tea there, too.”

As Sam, Merry, and Pippin made a quick exit, Frodo-lad, in his own high chair, suddenly gave out a squeal. He, too, had discovered the many uses of beans.
________________________________________



Rose and Estella cleared the table and washed the dishes in silence after luncheon. Each was too busy with her own worries about her husband and friends to engage in normal chatter. But when Estella had finished wiping and putting away the last dish, her eyes met Rose’s, which echoed all of her own concerns.

Rose bit her bottom lip, the corners of her mouth turned downwards in a frown. “I’ve not seen my Sam so troubled since he began to heal after Mr. Frodo left.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” began Estella. “That’s the last time I saw Merry so upset. Pippin, too, for that matter. And those two usually laugh when things disturb them.”

Estella hung the dishcloth back up on the rack that hung next to the pantry. “So they‘re off to The Green Dragon, then,” she said with a sigh.

“Where else?” Rose chuckled. It was not a happy chuckle.

Estella’s eyes narrowed and she pursed her lips in disapproval. “It’s a bit early for them to be drinking! We’ve barely finished luncheon.”

“Aye, but then, troubles don’t always know how to tell time, do they?” Rose said wryly. She led Estella down the hall to where the children were all resting. “What do you reckon they found that has them so out of sorts?”

“I’m sure I don’t know, Rose, but whatever it is, it can’t be anything good. Not for them to have that sort of reaction. Why, Pippin barely even touched his food! And Merry…” Her brows furrowed together to form worry lines as she sighed unhappily. “He hasn’t had one of those nightmares in a few weeks and I really was hoping he was getting better. I just hope that whatever they found in there doesn’t bring them back or bring back the coldness in his arm. But I have a feeling it has something to do with their time away out of the Shire.”

The thought brought Rose to an abrupt halt, her hand paused in mid-air before the door to her daughter’s room. “Oh, Estella! It plumb near breaks my heart when Sam has one of them black dreams!” She leant her hand against the doorframe for support, her heart in her throat.

“Perhaps I’m wrong, Rose,” Estella said, putting a reassuring hand on Rose’s shoulder. “Mm…maybe it’s just another stack of sad letters about when Frodo’s parents died or something.”

Rose cocked one eyebrow at Estella doubtfully and then quietly opened the door to Elanor’s room and checked to see if they were still asleep. Neither mother could help but smile at what they saw. Elanor was lying on her side sound asleep with little Wyn curled up in her arms. Their little heads were nestled next to each other.

They shut the door softly behind them and checked on their sons, both of whom were also mercifully still asleep. Estella tucked the blanket back around Perry, who had kicked it off in his sleep as usual. “Well, whatever it is, I hope they come back in better spirits than when they left.”

“Mayhap we can do aught to help,” said Rose as she rubbed Frodo-lad’s back. “When the lads come home, we need to find a way to put the smiles back on their faces and get them to laugh with the children again.”

Suddenly, she stopped rubbing her son’s back and turned to Estella, a large grin on her face.

Estella looked at her, puzzled.

“A taffy pull!” Rose cheerfully announced.

“Oh, Rose, that’s a wonderful idea!” exclaimed Estella happily but quietly so as not to wake their sons. “I don’t know about Sam, but making a mess in the kitchen always puts Merry and Pippin in a good mood! Especially if it involves sweets!” She grinned, remembering how much fun they’d had a few weeks before, baking sugar biscuits. Her flour supply had needed to be replenished, and the two of them had looked as though they’d been caught in a blizzard.

“Well, Sam’s not much of one for messing the kitchen, but he never were one to say ‘no’ to a good taffy pull, and neither is Miss Elanor!”

Rose and Estella left the room feeling much lighter than when they had entered it. They were so pleased with their idea that they immediately went back into the kitchen and began to check the larder, to be sure they had all that would be needed for a taffy pull.
_________________________________________________

The three hobbits walked along the road to Bywater. A few other hobbits passed them on the road, and they returned the greetings politely enough.

As they approached the outskirts of Bywater, Sam, Merry, and Pippin looked at each other and nodded, and then turned their steps toward their favourite inn.

As they walked beneath the sign, with its rather cheerfully painted picture of a plump, grinning dragon of a rather improbable shade of green, Pippin looked up and touched the bottom of the sign with a tiny swell of pride, and a secret sense of satisfaction. Merry met his eye over Sam’s head, and gave him the tiniest of winks. Sam did not know, even Frodo had never known, that Merry and Pippin were silent partners in the inn since they had returned from their journey.* Twice a year, they were conscientiously offered their share of the profits by old Toby Harfoot the proprietor, and every time, they would return them to him, and tell him to invest them back into the business. Pippin often felt that of all the things they had done to set the Shire to rights after Saruman, getting The Dragon back in business had been the most important. It cheered him some just to remember it.

This time of day, the common room was not terribly busy. A few hobbits were having their luncheon there, and a few more were having drinks, but it was not as full as it would be in the evenings.

They found their favourite table unoccupied, and the three of them sat down immediately. Toby’s daughter Clover came over immediately.

“Good day, Captain Merry, Captain Pippin, Master Samwise. What can I get for you?”

Merry looked up, and said “A pitcher of malt beer will be fine, Clover.”

“Anything to eat, sirs?” She cast a dimpled smile in their direction, and Sam smiled back. Clover had been stepping out with Rosie’s brother, Nick Cotton - she might well be his sister-in-law one day.

“Bring us some brown bread and cheese, as well, then,” Sam said. After all none of them had finished their luncheon, and beer on an almost empty stomach was not the best idea in the world.

Soon she returned, placing a pitcher filled with foaming brown beer and three tankards before them. She added a tray with a loaf of yeasty smelling rye bread, still hot and fresh from the oven, a half a round of cheese, and some pickled onions.

Sam did the honours, pouring the beer for all of them. He lifted his own, and his brown eyes grew moist. “To absent friends.”

Merry and Pippin gave him a sad and understanding smile--chief among those absent friends were Frodo and Bilbo. But there were others--those whom they might see again sometime, such as Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, Faramir and Éowyn and Éomer--and those whom they would not: Gandalf and Boromir and Théoden and Folco and others.

They each took a long pull at their beer, and then Merry reached over and absently tore off a chunk of the bread. Pippin picked off a small bit of cheese and started playing with it, before popping it into his mouth. Sam took up the small knife and cut a chunk of the cheese.

“Well, I suppose we’ve done as he would’ve wished,” said Sam, finally.

“I think so,” Merry replied. “He knows us pretty well.”

“I think he’d be happy with what we’ve decided,” added Pippin, “and really, he did leave it to us to handle after all.” He took a pull on his beer, and leant back. “But I may have a few words with Strider over that last -- thing. He had to have known.” He pulled a face. He didn’t want to name the chain any more than he had the Ring.

Merry nodded. “Of course he did. But it will keep until we see him again.”

Sam glanced at the two cousins, and shook his head. They’d not forget, neither of them, and they’d be on Strider like a dog on a bone when the time came. As for himself, he’d just as well forget that last bit altogether. There’d been a lot of good memories in that box, as well -- he‘d rather put his mind to them things.

He gave Merry a little half-smile. “And what do you suppose your father’ll say, when you bring all them letters and things back to Buckland?”

Merry chuckled. “No doubt he’ll be pleased and surprised. I know he’ll be glad of Cousin Calla’s sketchbook--he was saying only the other day it was a shame we’d not more of her work at Brandy Hall.” He looked in his tankard, surprised to find it empty; he poured himself another beer from the pitcher.

Pippin glanced in his own tankard, and pushed it over to Merry, who obliged by filling it. Then Merry glanced at Sam with a questioning look. Sam grinned, drained his own, and put it down on the table. Merry filled it for him, and then looked in the pitcher. It was starting to get low.

They ate sporadically, and continued drinking their beer and talking, and their mood began to gradually lighten.

Just then, Sam heard a familiar voice call out: “Sam! And Captains Merry and Pippin! What a treat to see you here!”

It was Sam’s brother-in-law, Tom Cotton. Sam turned with a smile, and saw that he was accompanied by Jolly and Nick. Tom and Jolly headed their way, but Nick was already deep in conversation with the buxom Clover.

The two Cotton brothers came over to the table, their own tankards in hand, and large grins upon their faces.

Sam looked at Merry and Pippin, who nodded cheerily in agreement, and then gestured to his brothers-in-law to join them at their table. Tom immediately sat in the chair next to Sam while Jolly hooked a foot around a chair at a neighbouring table and dragged it over.

“It’s good to see you, Captain Merry and Captain Pippin! I didn’t know you was visiting Sam!” said Jolly as he sat down.

Merry grinned, and said, “We just came over for a couple of days to tend to a small matter of business. I thought Estella and the children might like to visit with Rose and all.” He winked, and said “And of course this pestiferous younger cousin of mine had to tag along.”

“Oi!” said Pippin, smacking Merry smartly behind the head. Merry laughed, not even bothering to duck.

“And how are things with the Cottons?” Pippin asked over the laughter, as Merry rubbed the back of his head ruefully.

“Can’t complain, can’t complain,” said Tom. He took a pull of his ale.

Jolly looked over to the bar, where Nick still stood, conversing with Clover and then glanced over at the wall on the other side. “How about a round of darts, if I might make so bold as to suggest it, sirs?” he asked.

Pippin drained the rest of the beer in his tankard, and said, “I’m game! How about the rest of you lot?”

They all stood up, and headed over to the area where the game was usually played, and Merry went and fetched the darts.

The target was about a hand span in width, a larger inner circle with the outer circles progressively becoming narrower.

“Tom,” said Jolly, “have I ever told you about them targets down South?”

Tom shook his head, and Sam, Merry and Pippin laughed. Pippin spread his arms apart. “The targets were this big! And you were supposed to aim for the centre, of all things!”

Tom looked incredulous. “Well, that's too easy! Where’s the fun in that?” For hobbits gained more points by placing the darts within the narrower outer rings--a bull‘s eye was considered far too easy a throw.

It was Merry who replied with a roll of his eyes, “Men have dreadful aim! Once we realised what the rules were there, Pip and I knew how dead easy it was! Most of the Men thought we wouldn’t know what we were doing--and there were all kinds of wagers being placed by some of our friends who did know.”

Pippin sighed. “We could have cleaned up with the wagering ourselves if we‘d been allowed, but you know how Frodo was about that sort of thing!” But he clearly remembered one evening that Gimli, Legolas, Beregond, Menelcar, and Targon between them had raked in a minor fortune wagering on himself and Merry.

Sam chuckled. “Mr. Frodo never did approve of wagering. But he said as how them Men who lost money betting against you deserved it, for underestimating Hobbits!”

Jolly laughed. “Well, Captain Freddy didn’t mind a wager! And there was one evening that him and Mr. Beri went head to head, with Men wagering on each of them!”

“Who won?” asked Merry. He’d not heard this story.

“Well, it were a close thing, but Mr. Beri just barely did! My, wasn’t that something to see--those Men watching with their eyes all bugged out!”

Tom chuckled. “I’m sure that was a sight to see--but are we going to play, or talk?”

Soon they were absorbed in the game. Nick came over finally, fetching all of them more beer, as Clover’s father, Toby, had recalled her to her duties.

They played several rounds, and consumed, perhaps, more beer than they normally would have in an afternoon in addition to a large bowl of crisps, which old Toby sent out with his compliments. Pippin finally eked out Sam, with a shot that he admitted himself was lucky. As they were trying to decide if they should have another go, they suddenly realised the time.

“Oh mercy!” exclaimed Sam. “We’d better head back to Bag End! Rosie will have my hide if we’re late!”

Merry shot a glance at his pocket watch. “Lawks! You’re right, Sam! Estella would not be best pleased with me, either!”

So, giving their friends a hearty farewell, the three left The Green Dragon behind, and soon were walking arm in arm.

As they left the outskirts of Bywater, and headed up the Hobbiton road, Pippin raised his voice in song…

“A hobbit of habit is Nob o’ the Lea,
A hobbit of habit is he, is he…


And soon Sam and Merry joined in with the jolly chorus as they wended their way back to Bag End.
____________________________________

It was late afternoon by the time Sam, Merry and Pippin returned to Bag End, feeling somewhat better, and perhaps a bit pleasantly tipsy.

“Ah, you’re back then,” Estella greeted them, kissing Merry as he came to the door. Merry gave her a genuine smile and kissed her in return. It was a relief for her to see that the grey cloud that had hung over them at luncheon was gone. “Rose is in the kitchen preparing afternoon tea. I’m afraid it won’t be ready for another half hour.”

“That’s fine, dear. We were talking on our way back and we have just one more thing that we have to do,” replied Merry.

Estella gave him a worried look filled with apprehension.

“No, it’s nothing like that!” he added quickly, wrapping his arms around her. “We just have to decide who a few of Frodo’s things are going to go to, that’s all.”

“I promise you, Estella, we will be much better behaved at afternoon tea than we were at luncheon,” Pippin swore, giving her one of his cheeriest looks for good measure. Sam nodded in agreement.

Estella took one last apprehensive look at Sam, Merry, and Pippin, but was satisfied and let them pass back into the study to complete their task.

______________________________________

The three of them avoided looking at the fireplace, but sat down, and Merry drew forth the list they had been keeping.

“Let‘s see,” he said, “These items--” and he paused to point out several of the first things on the list, “will all be heading to Brandy Hall.” He furrowed his brows. “Seems an awful lot of these items are heading back to Buckland. Sam, are you sure--”

Sam interrupted Merry with a shake of his head. “Merry, Mr. Frodo spent most of his growing up in Buckland. And most of his closest kin are still in Buckland. It’s only proper that most of his things’d go back there, where they came from in the first place.”

Pippin nodded. “Sam’s right, Merry. It’s not like we are trying to divide everything up evenly. We want to see each of these things go to the person who would appreciate it the most--and if that means some people get more than others, well, that’s just how it will fall out. I don’t think anyone will cry ’unfair!’ at it; they will just be happy with what they get.”

Merry looked back and forth between them, and finally nodded. “I just want to be fair.”

Pippin chuckled. “Merry, you’d have to take lessons on how to be unfair.”

Sam laughed, and Merry relaxed, and then glanced at the list once more.

“Well, at least we agree that where possible, the letters go back to their writers…”

Pippin snaked out a long arm and snagged one of the letters in question. “Almost. But I think I want this letter of yours to Bilbo--just to remember that you’ve always been bossy, and didn’t just save up all your bossiness for me.” He grinned cheekily, and held the letter out of Merry’s reach.

“Humph,” responded Merry. “‘Bossy,’ indeed! In *that* case, I want *this* …” and he, too, grabbed up a letter. “This one, by you to Bilbo, about the food under the bed…”

“Oi!” Pippin made to snatch it back, and laughing, Merry held it away.

“It’s only *fair*!” Merry exclaimed. Pippin made another grab. It looked as though the argument was going to degenerate into an amiable wrestling match. Sam cleared his throat loudly, and the two cousins jumped.

“Begging your pardon, Merry and Pippin, but seeing as how you both live at Crickhollow, and seeing as how that’s where both letters’ll end up, don’t you think you might could settle this later?”

The two cousins caught one another’s eye, and gave equally mischievous grins. Each rapidly pocketed the letter he was holding. It was clear that they would be able to entertain themselves with this particular argument for weeks on end. Sam shook his head. They did love a good wrangle.

Placatingly, Merry took up another envelope and handed it to Pippin. “Uncle Dinny’s been gone a good while Pip. I think you can have your essay back.”

Pippin took it, and smiled. “Well, I’ll finally get a chance to show this to Mother and Father. Your uncle gave me a pretty good mark on it, considering it was my first essay. Mother may even want to stick it in her little box with my baby curls.”

The three worked quietly through the list, only stopping once in a while when they came to something they had not previously decided on.

“Miss Dora’s letters can go to Ponto, with the other Baggins correspondence,” murmured Merry, and Pippin and Sam nodded.

A few moments later, Pippin stopped them again. “What about Folco’s letters? Would Freddy like those?”

Merry bit his lip, trying to decide.

Sam said, “I’m thinking that Mr. Griffo and Mistress Daisy would want them. He *was* their only child.”

“That’s true,” said Merry. “And it would not surprise me if they give a few of them to Freddy themselves.”

More silence, as they went on with their task, and then Merry said, “I think, Sam, that Frodo would have liked you to have the letters from Bilbo. Bilbo was very fond of you, after all.”

Sam looked perplexed. “I’d like that ever so much, but--well, wouldn’t your parents want them? I know as your father worried ever so much about Mr. Frodo after Mr. Bilbo left. It might ease your parents’ minds to know Mr. Bilbo kept in touch all them years.”

Pippin nodded. “He’s got a point, Merry. I remember one time hearing Uncle Sara being very angry with Bilbo, over leaving Frodo the way he did.”

“I’ll tell you what, Sam,” responded Merry. “I’ll take them back to Brandy Hall, and let my parents read them. But then I will return them to you to keep.”

This seemed fair to everyone, and now they rapidly worked their way through everything else on the list.

“That’s it, then. That’s everything,” said Pippin finally, as they placed a check mark next to the very last item on the list.

“Not quite, Pippin,” said Sam. He reached down, and picked up the piece of velvet cloth with the barest tips of his fingers. “What do we do with this?”

Merry and Pippin looked at it with distaste. It was such a garish shade of red. “Throw it out,” said Pippin, “for if you don’t want it, nor do we.”

“Seems mighty wasteful,” said Sam doubtfully. “Mayhap my Rosie can figure out somewhat to do with it.”

“I’m sure that she can,” responded Merry. “And truly, that *is* everything, now! And we are all finished now, just in time for tea!”
_______________________________________

Merry proved to be as good as his word. Afternoon tea was much cheerier than luncheon had been. With their task behind them, Sam, Merry, and Pippin were able to enjoy the meal with their families. Even though they had eaten at the Green Dragon, Pippin still felt it necessary to make up for only having had one helping of everything at luncheon by having three helpings of the seed cake, cucumber sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and brambleberry preserves that Rose and Estella had prepared for afternoon tea.

After Merry, Pippin, and Sam had finished the washing up, they went out to the front garden, where Rose and Estella were sitting on the bench next to the front step with their sons on their laps while Elanor pretended to have a tea party with Wyn on the grass. Sam and Merry stood behind their wives, while Pippin gave a good-natured shrug and then flopped down on the grass to watch Elanor and Wyn play.

“Now, Wyn, would you care for another cup of tea?” Elanor asked in her most grown up voice as she held the little watering can Sam had given her aloft and looked at her guest expectantly.

Little Wyn said nothing, but instead looked up at Elanor with large grey eyes and stuck the first two fingers of her right hand into her mouth. The corners of Elanor’s mouth turned down as she gave a small sigh of frustration. It would be so much easier to have a tea party with Wyn once she learnt how to talk properly.

Elanor whisked the half a brown egg shell up from where she had placed it before Wyn, filled it impatiently with water from her little watering can, and then set it back on the soft grass in front of Wyn before filling her own half of the egg shell with the “tea” and taking a sip.

“You simply must try one of the seed cakes, Wyn. Mam and I journeyed all the way into Hobbiton to get them!” Elanor extended the battered pie tin they used for feeding the cat to Wyn. Wyn removed her hand from her mouth and extended the slobbery hand toward the pie tin and grabbed at it, tipping it unexpectedly out of Elanor’s hand, and giggled.

Elanor gasped as she stared for a moment at the pie tin laying there on the grass. She smiled sweetly at little Wyn. “Mayhap you don’t care for any seedcake, dear, but I do!” And she picked the tin back up and popped a large slice of imaginary seedcake into her mouth.

Although Merry tried, he could not suppress the chuckle that escaped him as he watched the tea party before him. That was all it took. While Rose and Estella barely managed to control themselves as only a mother can, Sam and Pippin could not hold their laughter back after that.

Elanor looked up, puzzled. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing, Elanorelle!” chuckled Sam, scooping his daughter up into his arms and kissing her on the nose. “We just feel somewhat silly after being cooped up in Mr. Frodo’s study for so long.”

“Oh,” said Elanor, understanding clearly written on her face. “I wouldn’t like being cooped up like that neither. I’d much rather be out petting the kitties!”

“That’s an excellent suggestion, Miss Elanor!” exclaimed Pippin with a grin. He sprang up from the grass and handed Wyn to Merry. “There’s plenty of time before dinner. Why don’t we go see the kitties right now?”

“Can we, Daddy?”

Sam’s eyes crinkled in a gentle smile as he looked at his beautiful little daughter. It was a shame that Mr. Frodo was not here to see what a treasure she was. “I don’t see no reason why not!”

“Can Unca Pip and Unca Merry come, too?”

Merry looked up at Pippin and they nodded at each other. “There’s nothing we’d like better!” Merry said.

“I’ll tell you what, Elanor. We haven’t been fair to you, spending so much time this visit in the study instead of playing with you. Why don’t we do whatever you’d like until it’s time for dinner,” suggested Pippin. “That is, if it’s all right with your mother and father,” he quickly added.

Elanor looked down at Rose, begging with as sweet a face as she knew how to make. Rose nodded her head and smiled. “Just so long as you behave.” She leant over, gave her daughter a little kiss on the cheek, and then whispered in her ear. Elanor looked at her mother, eyes wide. Rose winked, and put her finger to her lips. Elanor giggled

Elanor grinned and clapped her hands together as she bounced up and down in Sam’s arms. “I will,” she replied.

“I was talking to your uncles, dear,” Rose said with a playful smile.

After such a trying time, going through Frodo’s strongbox, all three hobbits found it very pleasant to sit in the garden shed, pet the kittens, and see the obvious delight on Elanor’s face.

Eventually, the kittens all went back to their mother for their dinner.

“So what will it be now, Miss Elanor?” asked Pippin, Elanor’s little hand swinging in his hand as Sam closed the door to the garden shed behind them and they began to walk back up to the smial.

Elanor took a moment to think before responding. “Well…” she began hesitantly.

“Yes?” Merry urged.

“What about a taffy pull?” she asked in a small voice full of hope. “Mam says I get too sticky.” She bit her lip, and looked down. Maybe they would not guess that Mam had told her to ask about a taffy pull. She did not know why it was a secret, but she could keep one like a big lass.

Merry and Pippin looked carefully at Sam, who tilted his head and sighed at the prospect.

“We … did promise the lass,” Pippin reminded him. The truth was, Pippin loved sweets, and taffy was one of his favourites.

“Aye. That you did,” Sam admitted. “And a taffy pull might be fun at that. All right, Elanorelle. You may have your taffy pull!”

Elanor bounced up and down in delight. “I’ll go tell Mam and Auntie ’Stella!” she squealed, racing ahead of them and opening the front door.

Sam looked at his companions ruefully. He’d no doubt that Rosie would not be happy with the idea of making such a mess. From Merry’s expression, he could tell that Merry was thinking about his own wife’s reaction.

By the time the three entered the smial, Rose and Estella were waiting for them with crossed arms. Rose was tapping one of her feet.

“A taffy pull?” she said.

“Well, they did promise the lass anything she wanted,” Sam reminded her. After all, it had worked for Pippin when he had said it.

“A taffy pull before supper?” Rose continued. “Samwise Gamgee, you can have your taffy pull. But just be warned, whatever mess is made, and there *will* be a mess, you can be sure of that with these two around,” she said, indicating Merry and Pippin with her index finger, “you three will be cleaning up.”

“Aye, Rosie. And thanks,” Sam replied quietly.

“You’ll be needing lots of sugar then,” Rose said as she went to get the sugar. “And some vinegar, too.” Estella followed, and as they entered the larder to get the supplies they had already laid out handily, the two exchanged a giggle. Their husbands would never know they had already planned the taffy pull.

Soon they were all busily working away, in the practised manner of hobbits in a kitchen, all of them doing their tasks without confusion, though there was a bit of occasional conversation - (“Whew! This vinegar is strong! My eyes are watering something fierce!” “Pip! Get your fingers out of the sugar crock!” “Rose, would you bring me a cup of water, please?” “Mind your fingers, Ellie-lass!” “Merry - grab Wyn, before she pulls the cloth from the table!”).

Once the taffy mixture was boiling, Estella tested it by dropping a small bit of the mixture into cold water. She held the droplet between her fingers and felt as it cracked. She smiled at all of the expectant faces. “It’s ready,” she announced.

“Can I ladle it, please?” Elanor asked.

Sam shook his head as he began to ladle some of the mixture onto the waxed parchment spread on the kitchen counter. “I’m afraid it’s a bit too hot for little fingers just yet. But you can take your turn pulling the taffy once it’s cooled enough.”

After the taffy mixture was cool enough, Pippin lifted one end of a small piece and gave it to Elanor and put the other end in Wyn’s little hand so Elanor could pull the sweet.

“Pippin!” Merry exclaimed.

“Oh, don’t be such an old grump, Merry! Wyn will be fine, see?” said Pippin. Wyn just sat down on the floor and looked at her sticky hand as Elanor pulled the other end longer and longer and longer until it was almost the length of the kitchen table.

“I think that’s quite long enough!” exclaimed Estella. She quickly grabbed the kitchen scissors and snipped the taffy into bits as long as her thumb, placing each piece in a bit of the waxed parchment and handing them to Merry, who then twisted the ends of each parchment tightly.

Of course, Merry and Pippin were not satisfied watching the lasses have all the fun. Taffy pulling was something they had enjoyed many times when they were lads in Tuckborough, Buckland, and even when they visited Bilbo and Frodo at Bag End. It wasn’t long before Merry grabbed one end of a large piece of the taffy mixture and Pippin grabbed the other.

“You stay where you are, Merry,” said Pippin. He began to walk backwards, pulling the thick strand longer and longer until he was in the long hallway and then right out the front door! He was careful to hold his sticky brown hand high up over his head so that the sweet did not touch the ground. Elanor had to stop pulling her own piece of taffy because she was laughing so hard as she watched her silly Uncle Pippin.

Estella shook her head in resignation and quickly snipped long sections of the taffy onto a large piece of the waxed parchment with all of the skill and practise of one who had been through this many times before. Once that was done, she snipped the long sections into pieces small enough for little mouths and wrapped them in more of the waxed parchment.

Everyone was having a grand time taking turns pulling the taffy, snipping it into little pieces, and then twisting it into the waxed parchment. Soon, any remaining solemnity had been banished by the warmth of the laughter in the cosy kitchen.

At last all of the taffy was wrapped in parchment and each hobbit was given two pieces, although Merry pinched a third and Pippin a fourth. Even little Wyn got to have one piece, which she managed to make disappear very quickly. The rest they saved for after dinner.

As Sam, Merry, and Pippin rose from the kitchen table to clean up the mess, Pippin’s foot brushed against the leg of his chair and felt a bit odd. He stopped and looked down.

”Oi! Here now!” he exclaimed.

“What’s all the fuss about, Pip?” Merry asked, as everyone turned to stare at Pippin.

“The fuss, Merry, is about your daughter dropping her piece of taffy onto my foot!” explained Pippin in a perturbed voice.

Merry shrugged his shoulders. “So? This isn’t the first time she has dropped food onto your big feet.”

Pippin rolled his eyes at Merry’s comment. “No, it is not the first time she has dropped food onto one of my feet,” Pippin agreed. “However, it *is* the first time she has got a sticky piece of taffy caught in my foot hair!” he growled, raising his leg up until his foot was practically in Merry’s face. “The last time I had taffy caught in my foot hair, Pearl had to *cut* it out!” he said indignantly.

“So, it grew back, didn’t it?” smirked Merry.

Everyone erupted into laughter except Pippin, who was precariously balanced on one foot as he attempted to pick at the sticky mess in his foot hair.

“Don’t worry, Pippin,” Sam finally managed to say breathlessly. “I’m sure I still have a jar of that old black soap out in the shed.”**

End Notes:

AUTHORS' NOTES: CHAPTER 7, A TASK COMPLETED

* Dreamflower's story "Silent Partners"


**Dreamflower's story "A Sticky Situation"

TAFFY

Boil together:

1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of vinegar
½ cup of water

Cook until small amount dropped in cold water cracks between fingers.


ITEMS THAT WERE IN FRODO’S STRONGBOX AND THEIR DISPOSITION

1. Drogo’s and Primula’s wedding document – Brandy Hall
2. Drogo’s and Primula’s Will – Brandy Hall
3. Drogo’s letter to Bilbo that Primula is pregnant – Brandy Hall
4. Drogo’s letter to Bilbo announcing Frodo’s birth – Brandy Hall
5. The bundle of Merry’s letters to Frodo – Merry
6. The bundle of Pippin’s letters to Frodo – Pippin
7. Merry’s letter to Bilbo to take care of his Frodo – Pippin
8. Pippin’s letter to Bilbo about shutting the window to his room to keep the ants out – Merry
9. Uncle Dinny’s letter to Frodo and Pippin’s essay about his family – Pippin
10. Pippin’s letters to Frodo and Merry the summer after The Dare – Pippin
11. Letters from Freddy to Frodo – Freddy
12. Letters from Pippin’s sisters to Frodo – To the writers
13. Letters from Folco to Frodo – Folco’s parents
14. Letters from Frodo’s other cousins –To the writers
15. Letters from Saradoc and Esmeralda to Frodo –Saradoc and Esmeralda
16. Frodo’s adoption certificate/Bilbo’s renouncement of interest in Frodo’s inheritance – Sam
17. Bilbo’s Will – Ponto
18. The pouch Bell made for Frodo – Sam
19. Frodo’s wooden toy Drogo made for him – Pippin
20. Frodo’s wooden spinning top Drogo made for him – Pippin
21. Frodo’s wooden whistle Drogo made for him – Pippin
22. Yellow handkerchief from Bilbo – Merry
23. Pony jigsaw puzzle – Merry
24. Buckland Races swimming ribbon – Merry
25. The writing mushroom – Pippin
26. Infant dress, jacket, and bonnet – Sam and Rosie
27. Frodo’s blue playsuit and bib for a faunt– Perry
28. Baby blanket – Perry
29. Frodo’s first pipe – Gimli
30. Frodo’s toy sheep – Pippin
31. Cousin Calla’s sketchbooks – Brandy Hall
32. Frodo’s sketch of Sam – Sam
33. Letter from Menegilda to Bilbo re Drogo’s and Primula’s deaths – Brandy Hall
34. Letters from Frodo’s Baggins relations, including Aunt Dora's - Ponto
35. Letter from Esmeralda to Bilbo – not coming to party because is pregnant – Esmeralda
36. Letter from Rory to Bilbo announcing Merry’s birth – Saradoc and Esmeralda
37. Letter from Frodo to Bilbo re Merry’s birth – Merry
38. Saradoc’s letter to Bilbo after Frodo ran away to Bag End -Saradoc
39. Bilbo’s letter to Frodo just before he left the Shire – Sam
40. Merry’s (and Pippin’s) letter begging Frodo to come to Brandy Hall after Bilbo left the Shire – Pippin
41. Frodo’s three Wills – Sam
42. Paladin’s Renouncement of interest in bequest to Pippin – Pippin
43. Ponto’s Renouncement of interest in Bag End when Frodo left – Sam
44. Bilbo’s five letters to Frodo after Bilbo left the Shire – Sam
45. Hobnail box that held things from Drogo and Primula – Sam
46. Drogo’s old mouth harp – Pippin
47. Primula’s hair comb given to her by Drogo upon Frodo’s birth – Elanor
48. Primula’s silver bracelet given to her by Drogo as a wedding present – Wyn
49. Drogo’s weskit button – Frodo-lad
50. Red velvet cloth – Rosie
51. The strongbox itself – Merry and Pippin; they use this to carry everything back to Brandy Hall and Crickhollow in.
52. Gondorian black wooden box – Destroyed
53. The Chain - Destroyed

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Epilogue (and Author's Notes) by Dreamflower

EPILOGUE

 

The next morning after first breakfast Merry walked down to The Ivy Bush to make arrangements to hire a waggon and ponies, to take the things that were being distributed in Buckland back with them. The trap would not easily carry such a load as well as three adult hobbits and two little ones comfortably.

 

Since so many things were headed over the Brandywine, the easiest thing was to load up the trunk with only those items. The letters Frodo had saved from the Bolgers were right on top: the plan was to stay the night in Budgeford with Estella's family, and return the letters at the same time.

 

Sam found another, smaller, box in which to put the items he was keeping at Bag End, and bundled up the items that would be taken down the Hill to old Ponto Baggins. Sam thought he'd probably do that in the next day or two.

 

The luggage and the trunk were loaded up by elevenses, and the hobbits all stopped their work for one more meal--a light one of cheese and bread and fruit and tea. Since the weather was so mild, Rosie brought out a large quilt and they took their meal on the front lawn.

 

The adults were still eating when the children were done; little Elanor pulled Wyn off to play for a while, and Perry slept soundly on the blanket by his mother's side.

 

"I hate to leave, Sam, but we've both got duties to see to back at home," said Merry regretfully.

 

"It's been a right nice visit, Merry," replied Sam, "Mayhap you can all come back when we don't have such serious business to see to."

 

Pippin nodded. "I think you should all come for a visit to Crickhollow! You haven't been to see us since Perry's Naming Day, and you didn't bring Rosie and Elanor then! How about right after Midsummer?"

 

Merry agreed, and Sam looked at Rose. "What do you think, Rose? Can we manage that?"

 

"I think we can, at that," she said, smiling.

 

After helping Rose clear up from the meal, they prepared to leave. Rose handed a large basket to Estella, packed with luncheon for the journey. "There's some mushroom pasties, some ham sandwiches, some pickled tomatoes, and some honeycakes and a jar of swizzle* for drinking." Rose lowered her voice, "and a little tin with the rest of the taffy." She looked around to make sure that Pippin had not heard. His sweet tooth was infamous.

 

Then Merry helped Estella into the trap, and handed Perry up to her, and Pippin put Wyn up. Then Merry clambered aboard and took up the reins. Pippin trotted to the waggon and did the same.

 

As they drove off, waving a cheerful farewell to their hosts, Sam and Rosie grinned at one another, watching Elanor jump up and down shouting "'Bye, Unca Merry! 'Bye, Unca Pip! 'Bye, Auntie Estella! 'Bye, Perry! 'Bye, Wynnie!" She ran alongside the road as far as the edge of the garden, repeating herself, still waving, until they turned out of sight at the bottom of the Hill.

In the trap, with two children being lulled into sleep by the rhythm of the ponies' hooves and a tired wife, Merry began to mentally compose a letter:

"Dear Strider,

What in the world were you and Gandalf thinking, letting Frodo bring that chain home with him? I am sure you should have realised it couldn't be good for him! Why couldn't you have just chucked it out? I don't see…"

And in the waggon, and with nothing else to do but hold the reins, Pippin started up a song:

"The Road goes ever on and on…"

THE END

 

*One last note (because this story is all about the notes) 8-)  : "Swizzle" also known as "Switchel" and a number of other names, is an ancient non-alcoholic beverage containing water, vinegar, honey or sugar (or other sweeteners) and spice or herbs depending on when and where it was made. I am sure hobbits would have known of it!


    

End Notes:

Author's End Notes: This poor story has chugged along for years without its intended Epilogue. The impetus for finally finishing it was two-fold: being able to get in touch again, and the imminent possibilty of deletion of our "gryffinflower" account at LiveJournal. Since the account was so old, it was set up under different email addresses, not to mention the fact that over the years both of us forgot the password.

So, now the tale is complete, and we hope that you have enjoyed it as much as we did!

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