Stories of Arda Home Page
About Us News Resources Login Become a member Help Search

Dreamflower's Mathoms I  by Dreamflower

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was written for Gamgeefest's birthday.

WARNING: Character death, although this one is canon.


The Company moved quietly through the night, the wind coming in chilly gusts over the barren terrain of Hollin. Sam stumbled, and Frodo reached out a hand to steady him. Sam had been uncharacteristically quiet the last day or so, and Frodo knew only too well why.

The gardener turned to Frodo, a wistful sorrow shadowing his usually warm brown eyes, and Frodo returned the look with a sad smile of understanding. Sam nodded, and steadied his pace.

Frodo moved a bit closer to him, to lend his support, and remembered that sad day exactly eighteen years earlier. He and Bilbo had returned from their Yule in Buckland just two days before…

Frodo was removing the greenery from the front hall in Bag End, when a knock came at the door.

“Frodo?” called Bilbo’s voice from his study.

“It’s all right, Uncle Bilbo, I’m right here, I’ll get the door,” he called, suiting his actions to his words.

He was surprised to see old Daddy Twofoot standing on the step, twisting his cap in his hand, his face red from the cold and wind, and his face wearing an expression of deep distress.

“Why Mr. Twofoot!” Frodo exclaimed. “Whatever is the matter? What on earth brings you out in this cold? Do come in before you freeze!”

The old hobbit hesitated. He always seemed reluctant to set foot in Bag End, thinking it far too grand for the likes of him. Still, in he came, and Frodo closed the door on the brisk Afteryule wind.

“Mr. Frodo, could I speak with the Master of Bag End?”

Now Frodo was both startled and alarmed. Daddy Twofoot, like most of the neighbors on the Hill were rarely formal with Bilbo, and usually called him “Mr. Bilbo”, affectionately. To ask for the Master meant something dire. But whatever it was, he was obviously not going to tell Frodo first. Frodo might be coming of age next fall, but right now, he was still considered a lad.

“Certainly, come with me.”

He led the old hobbit to Bilbo’s study, and gave a rap to the side of the open door, to draw Bilbo’s attention. Bilbo looked up almost crossly. He had been struggling with a tricky bit of Sindarin in one of the Lays of Beleriand all morning. But the querulousness disappeared at once when he got a glimpse of Daddy Twofoot’s face.

“Oh, my dear Master Tilbert,” he said, using the old hobbit’s rarely used and seldom remembered first name. Indeed, Bilbo was probably the only hobbit in the Shire old enough to remember it, “whatever is the matter? Do come in and sit down!” For to Bilbo’s eyes, it appeared he might fall down if he did not sit down.

The use of his name, and Bilbo’s brisk and fond concern snapped him out of his hesitation. “No, thank you very much, Mr. Bilbo, I’ve a bit of news to tell, and--” here a tear trickled down his cheek, and Bilbo and Frodo began to be very alarmed indeed. He blew out a deep breath. “Mr. Bilbo, it’s Missus Bell--she--she died this morning.”

“What?” Bilbo cried sharply, “she’s not even been ill!”

Frodo felt his world reel. Bell Gamgee, who had been so kind to him, Sam’s *mother*--snatched away all unexpected, as his own mother and father had been. He caught at the edge of the door, and feeling his knees give way, he slid down to sit upon the floor, as he felt the blood leave his face.

In the distance, as though he were hearing something far away, he could hear Bilbo’s voice.

“What happened? Was it an accident?”

“No, sir; she were just cooking breakfast and making ready for the Gaffer and Sam to come away to work, and all of a sudden she just keeled over. Mistress Salvia come at once, but it were too late. She said as it were apoplexy.”

“Oh, dear! Oh dear! I thank you for thinking to bring me this terrible news, Daddy. Frodo and I will come down to Number Three at once. Frodo--” Bilbo stopped, and for the first time noticed Frodo. “Frodo, lad, please. I know how distressing this is for you, but think of Sam and Marigold.”

Frodo lifted his eyes to Bilbo’s pleading face, and felt the world begin to lurch back to normal. Of course. Sam and his sister would need all the support they could get--and who better to understand what they were going through than one who had also lost his mother…

Accompanied by the anxious Daddy Twofoot, Bilbo and Frodo entered the smial at Number Three. In the front room were Daisy and May, the Gamgee’s two elder daughters, and their husbands and children. Marigold was on the settle by the fire, softly weeping in Daisy’s embrace, and Sam sat on the floor against the wall, his face white and pinched, a mask of misery. He stared blankly, seeing nothing.

The Gaffer was nowhere to be seen.

“Mr. Bilbo!” Daisy’s husband, Finch Noakes, came forward.

Bilbo shook his hand. “I was so sorry to hear of this, Finch! How is the Gaffer?”

The younger hobbit shook his head. “He can’t rightly seem to take it in, Mr. Bilbo. He was like to have the wind clean knocked out of him. Mistress Salvia give him a sleeping draught, and Daisy and May put him to bed.”

“Have Hamson and Halfred been notified?”

“Not yet, Mr. Bilbo. We’ll send word tomorrow when the regular post leaves--”

“Nonsense, Finch! I will see to sending the Quick Post out today, and pay for it myself! I won’t hear a word against it, it’s the least I can do. Bell was always a good friend to us.”

Finch did not argue, immensely relieved that the Gaffer’s oldest sons would be getting the word all the sooner.

Frodo had been standing at Bilbo’s elbow, watching Sam. Bilbo turned. “It’s all right, Frodo my lad, go to him.”

Frodo nodded and walked over to where Sam sat.

He knelt down by his young friend, and put his hand on his shoulder. “Sam?”

For a long moment, Frodo thought that Sam did not hear him, and was about to repeat his name, when Sam turned his head slowly. “Mr. Frodo?” He looked confused. He had not even noticed Frodo and Bilbo come into the smial.

Frodo looked at Sam with worry. He recognized that look--utter confusion and devastation--he had, after all, seen it in the mirror for years after his parents’ drowning. He shuddered. Poor Sam! He needed someone to guide him through this loss, as Frodo never had. Surely, Saradoc and Esmeralda had mourned the loss of Primula, and Drogo as well--but they had no way of understanding what it was like to lose a parent so young. They had tried very hard, and Frodo never doubted their love, but they just did not seem to know what he was going through.

Frodo tightened his grip on Sam’s shoulder. “Yes, Sam, I’m here.”

Sam looked at him, dry-eyed and miserable. “She’s gone, Mr. Frodo?”

Frodo fought down the lump in his throat, and his own rising pain. “She is, Sam.” He took both Sam’s hands in one of his, and put his arm around Sam’s shoulders, guiding him to his feet. “Come, Sam, we need to get out of this crowd.” For the room had begun to fill with more friends and family. Frodo spotted Farmer Cotton and his wife. He did not see any of their children. It might have helped if young Tom were there--he was Sam’s best friend, after all. But apparently they had been left at home.

He started to lead Sam toward the kitchen, where he could perhaps, ply him with tea, but Sam suddenly balked. There was panic in his eyes, and Frodo immediately understood. The kitchen was where she had died. Sooner or later, Sam would have to come to terms with that, but not tonight. Instead, Frodo led him in the direction of his room.

As the youngest of the sons, and the only one left at home, Sam had the room to himself for years, ever since his older brothers had left and gone to their apprenticeships. Frodo guided him to sit down on the bed, and then sat down alongside him, drawing him into his embrace.

“It ain’t right, Mr. Frodo.”

“No, Sam it’s not.”

“It ain’t fair.”

“No, it isn’t.”


“I don’t know, Sam. I don’t know that there’s any reason at all.”

Sam looked up at Frodo in surprise. That was not the kind of thing that hobbits usually said at times like these.

Frodo shook his head. “It happened Sam. And it’s not fair, and it’s not right, and your life will never be the same again.”

But though the words themselves sounded hard, even harsh, Frodo’s voice was very gentle.

“No reason, Mr. Frodo?”

“Perhaps there is one, but if so, it’s not one we’re ever likely to know while we’re alive.”

“Do you think that we would know after we’re not alive?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Even the Elves don’t know what happens to mortals when we die.”

“Mr. Frodo, what am I going to do?”

Frodo’s arm around his shoulders squeezed more tightly. “You will do what you have to do, day by day and moment by moment.”

“Does it ever get easier?”

“Some. You may have days when the pain seems to be completely gone, and then something will remind you, and it will be fresh as ever. But the good days gradually outnumber the bad days.”

Sam looked at Frodo’s face, as if really seeing him for the first time since he’d arrived. He saw reflected there the pain in his own heart, and it came to him that Frodo did in fact, know just how he felt. Suddenly, the tears which had eluded him all day, began to fill his eyes, and a great sob burst forth.

Frodo gathered him into his arms for comfort, as he often had his younger cousin Merry, and began to rock him back and forth.

“I’m here, Sam. Just let it out. You‘ve every right to grieve.” And his own tears fell into the sandy curls.

After a moment, he raised his eyes, and saw Bilbo standing in the open door, giving him a look of pride and sympathy. The older hobbit nodded, and then moved on, leaving Frodo to comfort his weeping friend.

The Bagginses, as well as other friends and neighbors of the Gamgees, had continued to offer friendship and support in the days after. At the funeral, Frodo had stood by Sam, and afterwards he and Tom had seen to getting him home, while the adults saw to the Gaffer. Sam had not broken down again in Frodo’s presence, but they often exchanged wordless glances of sympathy.

Bell’s death marked a turning point in Sam’s young life. In spite of the fact that he was still only in his early tweens, the Gaffer began to give over more and more of his responsibilities to Sam, as the ills of his own age seemed to catch up with him almost overnight. It meant an end to afternoons of sharing lessons, as well as to the occasional outing with Frodo. Outwardly, at least, Sam seemed to grow away from his youthful friendship with Frodo, and that appeared to only increase when Bilbo left the Shire, and Frodo became the Master of the Hill.

But underneath it all, that understanding of shared pain remained, a friendship cemented in compassion.

Frodo looked over at Sam as he walked. “All right, Sam?”

Sam returned his glance. “Just fine, Mr. Frodo.”



<< Back

Next >>

Leave Review
Home     Search     Chapter List