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To Tell a Tale  by Lindelea

Chapter the Sixth: Muffled Conversation
in which Frodo remembers what was lost, and cherishes what was saved
contributed by Dreamflower

Pippin stirred drowsily, and opened his eyes. Frodo was sitting quietly next to him, with Pippin’s scarf in his hands, turning it over and over, and studying it.

“Hullo, Pip,” he said, without looking up. “Did you have a good rest?”

“I did.”

Frodo looked at him fondly. “You took very good care of this scarf. I am surprised it survived all that it went through with you.”

Pippin blushed. “I told you I would treasure it forever. And when--when you left us at Amon Hen, well, it rather seemed to me that if I could keep it safe, it would feel as though I were keeping you safe as well. Silly, I suppose.”

“Not at all, Pippin,” Frodo replied huskily, and cleared his throat. He turned away, wiping at his face. "Got a little something in my eye..." he muttered.

“Orcs left it alone--they weren’t to despoil us. And when I came here to the White City, and I swore my service, they gave me livery. I had leave only to wear my Elven cloak with that. So I picked apart the hem, and tucked the scarf inside, and sewed it back up.”

“Very ingenious,” Frodo smiled. No wonder it had stayed safe. Even the Lórien cloaks he and Sam had worn to the Black Land, had, after a good cleaning, looked like new. Those cloaks were seemingly impervious. “I remember when my mother made this for Bilbo. Would you like to hear about it?”

Pippin was surprised. Frodo almost never talked about his parents. “I would very much like that, cousin, if you would not mind it.” He turned on his side and tucked his hands beneath his cheek, making him look very young.

Frodo reached over and tugged the coverlet up over Pippin's shoulder, as he had done countless times before. “I was ten years old. I had always watched my mother doing needlework. To me it was just something mothers did. She had always used a drop spindle for her spinning. But that year---”

“Oh, Bilbo! It’s wonderful!” Primula’s face shone as she ran her hands over the beautiful golden wood of the spinning wheel. Drogo looked up from his new chess set, and watched her, grinning. And Frodo even lost his attention for his beautiful new story-book. For Bilbo’s eighty-eighth birthday, he had come to Buckland to spend a quiet day with his favorite cousin and his family.

Ten-year-old Frodo had given his gifts first: a pretty blue hair ribbon for his mother, a pen wiper for Bilbo, and a small bag of his favorite sweets.

Then Bilbo had presented his gifts. Drogo and Frodo had been pleased enough with theirs, but Primula had been thrilled with hers. She threw her arms around Bilbo, and bussed him soundly upon the cheek.


A couple of weeks later, Frodo watched, fascinated, while his mother spun: grey yarn from grey wool which had come from grey sheep in the North Farthing. Primula let Frodo help her wind it into hanks. It was very soft.

“What will you do with this, Mama?” he asked.

“I am going to make a special gift for Uncle Bilbo.”

The grey yarn was soon finished and put aside. Primula then began to spin some ordinary white wool. She spun a good deal of that, for much of it she would dye. Then she put the spinning aside for a while to work on Yule gifts.


“What are you doing now, Mama?” asked Frodo, one cold day in Afteryule. He had seen her dye yarn before, but never like this. Instead of a big batch of one color, with a deal of yarn in one large vat, there were four small bowls of different colors. She had several hanks of the white yarn she had spun before Yule.

“The Widow Goodbody told me how to make something she called ’variegated’ yarn. I shall dye different sections of each yarn hank in different colors: wine, russet, golden orange and deep green.” Frodo’s eyes grew wide as she removed one finished hank.

“It looks like autumn!” he exclaimed.

“Yes,” she smiled, “for Uncle Bilbo’s birthday is in the autumn. But I shall give it to him in the spring, for my birthday.”


Frodo watched his mother, rocking in her chair, her knitting needles clicking, the length of knitting growing below. “Will it be finished in time, Mama?”

“Yes, dear. It is nearly three more weeks to my birthday. I’ve plenty of time for this and other gifts.”


“Is it finished, Mama?” Frodo ran his hands across the softness of it. The checks of variegated yarn against the soft grey looked like autumn leaves against a grey fall sky.

“Almost, Frodo. Would you like to help me finish it?”


“I need to put the fringe on. Hold out your hand.”

Frodo did so, and his mother turned his palm sideways, spreading out his small fingers. Then she used them to wrap lengths of the yarn around and around, and then snipping them off. When she had enough, Frodo watched as she used a small hook to draw them through the ends of the scarf and tie them on.

“Now it is finished, my sweet. Do you think Uncle Bilbo will like it?”


Primula’s birthday party was held at Brandy Hall. Her parents and her husband had gone all out for it, and it was the first major social event of the spring.

Primula had been very busy. Bilbo’s gift was not the only one of her own creation.

She passed out the packages to her guests, her blue eyes sparkling with pride at their praise for her handiwork. She handed Bilbo his package.

“I hope, Cousin Bilbo, you will see to what good use I put my own gift from you!” she laughed.

Frodo watched curiously as the old hobbit unwrapped the package, as eager as any young lad. “Oh, my dear! It is lovely!” he exclaimed. His eyes shone as he drew it forth and felt its softness. In spite of the warm spring night, he threw it about his neck.

Bilbo embraced his cousin and kissed her cheek.


Frodo pulled his pipe from his pocket, gave it a rub with his pocket-handkerchief, and looked off into the distance, as if he were seeing something far away and long ago.

“I remember she made Grandfather Gorbadoc and Papa beautifully embroidered waistcoats. And she had stitched a family tree in wool on linen for Grandmother.”

“I remember that.” Pippin murmured. “It hangs in the dining room at Brandy Hall. I didn’t know your mother made it, though.”

Frodo nodded. “But my own gift from her was also a scarf, of that same lovely soft grey, with stripes in it of shades of blue. I had never seen her working on it at all. I lost it the following winter.” Frodo tamped pipe-weed into his pipe and stuck the stem in his mouth, though he didn't light the pipe, merely sucked thoughtfully on the stem, his look faraway.

“None of us knew that those would be our last birthday gifts from her. She and Papa were gone before her next birthday. Bilbo loved that scarf, and wore it for years, before giving it to me about a year before he left. But I put it away. I could not bear to wear it.”

Pippin caught Frodo’s hand with both his own. “And then you gave it to me because you thought you were leaving me behind and would never see me anymore.” His green eyes filled with tears. “Frodo, perhaps--”

“No, Pippin. I do not wish to have it back. I meant for you to have it.”

“Oh, Frodo! I’m so glad we’re all together again.”

Frodo smiled gently, and put the scarf in Pippin’s hand. “So am I, dear cousin. So am I."

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