It was a pleasant summery evening, and as was their wont from time to time, the Travellers met at the Green Dragon for a pint or two together, to catch up with one another’s doings and to pass the time retelling tales of their journeys. More often than not, the tales were ones they had told each other many times before – though they never grew old – but sometimes they were stories that one had forgotten to tell the others, or new details had been remembered that meant a tale had to be retold to get everything in proper perspective again. Even when such story-telling reminded them of things they preferred not to dwell upon, or brought to mind things they wished had never happened, they related such tales anyway. Somehow it seemed important to share such moments together with others who understood what had occurred and who had experienced similar things. It made those hard memories less hard, and the sharp, painful rememberings less painful.
This evening it was one of those stories that had been forgotten and not shared that was on Sam’s mind. He had made a discovery earlier in the day which had reminded him of a significant event, and as he had recalled that event and the things that came out of it, he realized he had not told the whole story to the others.
“So, Sam,” said Merry, plunking down his empty mug. “You have the look of someone who’s itching to say a word. Do you have a story to tell us?”
“I do, after a fashion,” answered Sam thoughtfully. “It’s about that oliphaunt me and Mr. Frodo saw, down in Ithilien. You’ve heard the main story, of course, but today I was reminded of something I forgot to share with you all. It’s sort of an epilogue to the main tale, if you will.”
“That’ll be worth hearing, then,” Pippin commented. “I always like hearing your tales about oliphaunts. I never really got a good look at one while I was there in Minas Tirith – not a living one, at any rate. You and Frodo had all the luck – and Merry, too, since he was actually on the battlefield with those mûmaks, as they call them in Gondor.”
Pippin looked at them crossly, but the others just laughed.
“Go on, Sam,” urged Frodo. “Tell us your tale.”
“Well, Rosie’s been after me to surrender my pack for washing. You know, the one I took on the Quest. I know, I know, it’s been ages since we got back and I should have let her have it before this. It’s pretty sad-looking, I must admit, but somehow I’ve felt kinda reluctant to clean it up – like that would really be the end of it, you know? Not that I don’t mind having it over and done with, but... Well, you know what I mean.”
They all nodded solemnly. They did indeed know exactly what he meant.
“Anyway, when I gathered it up to give to her, I discovered something at the bottom of the pack that I’d forgotten to empty out.”
“Something was still in your pack after all this time?” Frodo exclaimed. “What was it?”
Sam produced from his pocket a cloth carefully folded around some lumpy objects. He slowly unwrapped the small parcel to reveal three carved wooden figures of varying sizes.
“Oliphaunts!” cried Merry and Pippin in unison.
Frodo smiled in nostalgia at the sight.
“Where did you get them, Sam?” he asked, fingering the largest of the figures.
“Mr. Faramir gave them to me not long before we left Minas Tirith to head home,” Sam explained. “He thought I’d like a memento of seeing an oliphaunt in real life. Seems that Damrod fellow told him all about how excited I was when I saw one there during that battle in Ithilien.”
“Where did Faramir get them?” inquired Pippin curiously.
Sam hesitated just briefly before answering. “He said that Boromir made them for him when he was young. Boromir was learning how to whittle, seemingly, and he liked to make things for Faramir. Guess Boromir had been on a journey with some soldiers once and had seen oliphaunts, and for a long time after that, it’s all he could talk about – and that’s all he carved for a long time, too. I didn’t feel right, him giving me something Boromir had made for him, but Faramir said he knew Boromir would want me to have them. Seeing as how I was so fond of oliphaunts myself and all... And then I went and forgot all about them and left them in my pack!”
Frodo chuckled and proceeded to quote a part of the rhyme they had all learned as young hobbits:
“Oliphaunt am I,
Biggest of all,
Huge, old, and tall.
If ever you'd met me
You wouldn't forget me.”
“Well, I never forgot that oliphaunt I saw with my own eyes,” Sam sighed, “but I guess I sure did forget Mr. Faramir’s oliphaunts. Until now, that is!”
“Good thing Rosie wanted that pack of yours and made you look in it so you could find them!” laughed Merry.
“They’re quite well made,” commented Frodo. “I wonder what kind of wood was used for the carving? It seems to me it might even have held up to a washing, if you hadn’t ended up finding them in time, Sam!”
Pippin was toying with the smallest of the three carvings, gazing at it wistfully.
“They sure are nice,” he sighed. “Made by Boromir, too...”
“Guess you better keep that one, Mr. Pippin,” Sam said, pushing it towards him. “I expect old Boromir would like being remembered, too.”
“Really, Sam?” Pippin grinned. “Thanks!”
“All right, all right,” said Sam to Merry’s inquiring look. “You can take one, too, Mr. Merry! It’s too bad I don’t have four of them, I could share them out to each one of us...”
“Don’t worry, Sam,” Frodo replied, patting him on the shoulder. “We’ll share this big one between the two of us. We’ll put him on the mantel at Bag End as a reminder of oliphaunts and good friends we’ll never forget!”
“Hear, hear!” cried Merry and Pippin.
“Well said, Mr. Frodo,” agreed Sam. “Oliphaunts and good friends -- we’ll never forget ‘em!”