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(Sam: age seven)
“But I’ll be good,” Sam objected. “I’ll keep up and I won’t do nothin’ you don’t say I can do.” The small lad looked up at his older brothers with an earnest expression on his face.
“Sorry, Sammy,” Hamson said gently running a hand through his little brother’s curls. “You need to stay here this time. We will be too busy to watch you.”
“Don’t be late, now. Last time I got worried about you both,” Belle Gamgee warned. “I want you here for supper, both of you!”
“We’ll make it,” Halfred grinned.
“Momma, can’t I go too?” Sam asked looking hopefully at her.
“I can’t let all ‘o my lads out ‘o the smial at once,” Belle said. “I might just need some help this afternoon. If you go off with your brothers then I’ll not have a strong shoulder if I need it.” She smiled at her youngest son.
“Can’t Halfred stay this time?” Sam frowned. “I always stay.”
Belle bent down and Sam came over to her. She lowered her voice and whispered, “That is because of all my lads, you’re the most help to me, Sammy.” She placed a finger to her lips as if warning him not to share this secret with his older brothers who stood by the door watching.
Sam smiled shyly at his mother whom he adored and then looked back at his brothers. “I can’t go this time. Momma needs me here,” Sam announced head held high and chest puffed out slightly.
Hamson lowered his head to keep from grinning and Halfred said with a knowing look at their mother, “Sometimes lasses just need a strong hand or two. Looks like you’re in demand, Sammy.”
Sam grinned. “I just gotta help out with-“ he frowned and then looked up at his mother. “What am I helpin’ with?”
“I have to start getting the tomatoes out ‘o our garden today and I need someone to help me with carryin’ them into the smial. You know how heavy ripe tomatoes in a basket can get,” Belle said rubbing the middle of her back with one hand.
Sam nodded looking serious. “You can pick them, but I’ll tote the baskets.”
“My hero,” Belle pronounced. “I knew I could count on my Sammy.”
“We’ll bring you back some candy, Sammy,” Hamson said as they hurried out of the smial.
Sam waved at them and then looked at his mother. “Who will stay and help you when I’m as big as they are?”
“Don’t you worry about that, Sammy,” Belle smiled. “We have a while before that happens. By then, you might just have a little brother.”
Sam’s eyes shone. “Or maybe two!”
Belle laughed. “Don’t you get carried away, Samwise.”
(Frodo: age seven)
Frodo peered out of the window, nose pressed against the glass.
“What are you looking at, dear-heart?” Primula came over and stood beside of her young son placing a hand on his thin shoulder.
“Nothing,” Frodo sighed.
“It must be a very important nothing for you to look at it so long and so hard,” Primula said.
Frodo looked up at her suddenly, wide blue eyes brimming with tears. “I’m not a baby, am I?” he asked.
She knelt down and put her arms around him gently. “Of course you aren’t. Who said that you were?” she frowned.
“Thad and Oren,” Frodo sniffled. “They said I’m too little to play with them and that I’m a baby. Seven isn’t a baby age, is it?”
“No, it most certainly isn’t,” Primula said giving Frodo’s cheek a wipe with the end of her apron. “Seven is the age when a lad starts to grow up and to be more like the big lads. Seven is an important age.”
“Then why won’t Thad and Oren play with me? Oren plays with me most of the time. He and I played together all last week,” Frodo frowned.
“Thad and Oren are a bit older than seven, Frodo,” Primula said.
“Not much,” Frodo objected. “Oren is only ten and that isn’t much more than seven.”
“Ah, but how old is Thad?”
“Twelve,” Frodo said softly.
“Frodo, Thad is the reason that Oren isn’t playing with you today,” Primula smiled. “You see, Thad is twelve and that is quite a bit older than seven. Oren is playing with Thad instead of playing with you today because Oren wants to seem older than he really is. Tomorrow when Thad is busy with the other twelve-year-olds, Oren will be back.”
“That isn’t fair,” Frodo said wrinkling up his nose a bit. “What if I don’t want to play with Oren tomorrow?”
“Then Oren will just have to make do,” Primula smiled. “You will be the one to decide if you want to play with Oren when he comes back by.”
“I might be busy,” Frodo declared. “Then Oren will have to stand around and do nothing all day like I am.”
“You don’t have to stand around and do nothing,” Primula objected.
“What can I do?” Frodo frowned.
“Why don’t you and I walk out into the garden and read some of the new book that your Cousin Bilbo sent you?” Primula suggested.
“The one about the Dwarves and the silver mine?” Frodo’s eyes were alight with interest now.
“The very one,” Primula smiled.
“Can I read a bit too?”
“Of course you can,” Primula said. “You are getting to be very good with your letters, Frodo. I enjoy it when you read to me.”
“I’ll get the book! Oren can just go off with Thad all he wants! We have a new book!” Frodo shouted joyously as he ran from the room to get the book.
(Merry: age seven)
“Please, Frodo,” Merry insisted stretching it out as he spoke. “Mum will let me go if you take me.”
“Sorry, Merry,” Frodo said mussing his younger cousin’s curls. “This time I’m going into town with the older lads. You’ll have to stay here but when I get back I promise that we’ll do something just the two of us.”
Merry folded his arms over his chest and glared at Frodo. “I won’t be home!”
“You won’t?” Frodo looked amused. “Where will you be?”
“I’m going to go and do some important stuff with my friends that you can’t do,” Merry said. “Me and Berilac will be busy when you get home.”
“You aren’t angry with me, are you, Merry?” Frodo asked.
“Go on off with those older lads,” Merry said turning his back on his older cousin now. “I don’t care. Berilac is more fun than you are anyway.”
“He is?” Frodo sighed. “I thought we were friends, Merry.”
“You’re not being very friendly,” Merry said. “You’re leaving me to go with those big lads. That’s not friendly.”
“Merry, I’m older than you are,” Frodo said gently. “Sometimes I go places with the older lads but that doesn’t mean that you and I aren’t friends. It just means that you have to do a bit of growing before you are old enough for some things.”
“Then you should wait on me,” Merry said firmly. He turned around and looked at Frodo. “I’d wait for you.”
“Merry, I promise that I won’t be away long,” Frodo said. “You’ll understand this better when you’re older. One of these days you’ll be the one going out the door and someone younger than you will be waiting for you to return. Everyone goes through this.”
“If I had someone who wanted to come with me, I’d just bring them,” Merry said. “I wouldn’t care how old they were. If they were my friends then they could come too!” He stamped one foot as he spoke.
“I think you might just change your mind when you’re older,” Frodo said. “Now, I’ll be back for supper and if you want to, you and I can build a tent in the parlor and camp out tonight.”
“If Berilac and I aren’t busy,” Merry said wavering a bit but still not willing to admit it.
Frodo nodded. “If you and Berilac aren’t busy.”
Merry nodded and watched Frodo leave. “I’m going to grow bigger than you and leave you here to wait!” Merry shouted to the closed door. He then turned and stalked out of the kitchen.
(Pippin: age seven)
“Where do you think you’re going?” Merry demanded looking down at his younger cousin.
“With you,” Pippin said smiling. “I got my jacket and my scarf and I’m ready.”
“Well, you can just go back and hang up your jacket and your scarf because you aren’t going this time,” Merry said.
“Why not?” Pippin asked.
“For one thing, you’ve buttoned your jacket wrong,” Merry sighed kneeling down and unfastening the big silver buttons on the child’s jacket.
“I had one left over,” Pippin agreed. “Can you fix it?”
“I am going to unbutton this jacket and you are going to take it and hang it back up,” Merry said.
“Aren’t we going out?” Pippin frowned.
“I’m going out but you are staying here this time,” Merry said.
Pippin pulled back from his older cousin and began to try to button the jacket back up again. “I’m going!”
“No, you aren’t,” Merry said.
“Am too!” Pippin said.
Suddenly Merry smiled. “Fine, but you better go and tell someone that you’re going.”
“You wait here,” Pippin grinned and he hurried out of the room.
Merry stood up quickly and started for the back door. He had the door open and was just about to leave when he caught sight of Frodo watching him from the rocker in the corner. Merry stopped. “I don’t have time to argue with him,” Merry said.
Frodo shrugged but he didn’t say anything. He just continued to look at Merry.
“I can’t take him with me everywhere I go,” Merry hissed.
“So you’d rather lie to him?” Frodo frowned.
“He’ll follow me unless I get out before he comes back,” Merry objected. “If I just tell him he can’t go, he comes anyway. He doesn’t listen. I have to trick him.”
“I seem to recall a time when you told me that if someone younger than you wanted to come along with you, that you’d bring them. You said you wouldn’t be like me and leave them behind,” Frodo smiled.
“That was because I was angry at you and I was little then,” Merry objected. “I would have said anything to convince you to take me.”
Pippin came racing back into the room. “I can come but Nelly says that you have to fix my buttons, Merry,” Pippin said.
Frodo arched an eyebrow and waited. Merry sighed. “Pip Squeak, I’m supposed to meet the older lads this time and I really think-“
“Pippin, can I ask you to do me a favor?” Frodo broke in.
Pippin looked over at Frodo and frowned. “What?”
“Would you mind staying here with me today?” Frodo asked. “I was planning on going for a walk this afternoon but it is so much more fun with company. If you and Merry both leave than I will be on my own.”
Pippin bit his lower lip and looked from one older cousin to the other. “I promised Merry,” he said then he looked at Merry. “Will you mind if I stay with Frodo?”
“No, Pip. You stay here with Frodo. I have the older lads for company. You and I can do something tonight when I get back,” Merry said with a grateful look at Frodo.
Pippin smiled at Merry and said, “You can teach me to work these buttons.” He looked down at his jacket and frowned. “There’s always too many of them for the holes that I have.”
Merry grinned. “I can do that. Keep Frodo company and try to stay out of trouble.”
“I will,” Pippin smiled.
After Merry had gone out the door Pippin sighed and looked at Frodo. “Merry always leaves before I get back but I could have caught him. I always do,” Pippin said. “He tries to sneak out but I mostly catch him.”
“You knew he was tricking you?” Frodo frowned.
Pippin nodded. “And I know that you don’t really need company to walk.”
“You are too clever for your own good, Peregrin Took,” Frodo sighed shaking his head.
“I am,” Pippin smiled. “And when I figure out my buttons and get older then Merry won’t be able to get far without me.”
Frodo laughed. “No, I doubt that he will.”
“So,” Pippin smiled. “Where are we going?”
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