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Four of a Kind  by Grey Wonderer

This is posted in four parts because each little story for each little hobbit got too long. In other words, I've written too much again. All the same I do hope you enjoy them.


“Leaving Home”

Sam at age 10

They were fightin’ again. Sam could hear ‘em right enough and he wished they’d stop. He stood just out of their sight hiding around the corner of the doorframe and listened though he’d been taught better.

“There’s nothin’ for it,” his father was saying in a disgusted tone. “Them folks just don’t know a good gardener from a rusty nail!”

Sam frowned as his mother said, “Well, Ham, what will we do? That job was food for at least one month this winter and-“

Sam cringed as his father interrupted her. “Don’t you think I know that? Do you think I’m not up to figurin’ out that this puts us short on coin for food? You don’t have to remind me! I know I’ve let us down but there’s no way to get that job back!”

“I never said you’d let us down,” Sam heard his mother say as she placed her arms about herself as if hugging herself. “I only worry. The little ones have to eat and the coin that Mr. Baggins pays us is grand but there’s just too many of us for that to stretch to feed us all. The garden has done well this year but,” She stopped, her eyes downcast.

“You and me went and had ourselves a smial full ‘o little ones,” Sam’s father muttered. “A few less might ‘o been wise.”

Sam swallowed hard and silently hurried down the short hallway to his own room. That was where Marigold found him some time later. “What are you doin’, Sammy?” she asked.

He turned startled to see her there and frowned at her. “Go away and play, Marigold. I’m busy,” he said in what he thought was a firm tone. He must have been wrong though because she only came further into the tiny room and stood beside him looking at the rucksack he was packing.

“Why are you packin’?” she asked. “Is it a game? Can I play too?”

“No, it ain’t no game,” Sam said annoyed. “I got somethin’ I have to do now you go on and play and leave me to it.” He turned from her and quickly stuffed the last of his shirts into the rucksack.

Marigold turned her eyes up to him and her lower lip began to tremble. “You’re goin’ off like Hamson did!”

Sam was surprised that she was mentioning their oldest brother but he didn’t have time for all ‘o this foolishness. Lasses could be a real chore and no mistake. “I’m just goin’ off to find work for a while,” Sam said in a whisper. “But you can’t tell anyone.”

“Work? What will you do?” Marigold asked looking a bit lost.

“I don’t know yet but I might try to find work as a gardener somewhere. I been helpin’ our Gaffer since I was younger than you so I know a bit about it,” Sam said straightening his shoulders and standing tall.

“All alone?” Marigold frowned.

“I got to find work to help out,” Sam said.

“I want to help,” Marigold said smiling.

“You’re too young and you don’t know nothin’ bout anythin’ yet,” Sam said and he watched as his little sister burst into tears and ran from the room. He hadn’t meant to upset her but lasses didn’t always take the plain truth too well. He’d been workin’ on not sayin’ things so straight out but he suspected he had a way to go a’fore he got that sorted out. With a sigh he returned to his packing.

Ten minutes later as Sam was pulling on his rucksack his father walked into the room and filled the doorway. It always seemed to Sam that his father was the biggest hobbit in the Shire. He looked up at him and waited. He could tell that his Gaffer meant to say somethin’ and there’d be no stoppin’ him.

“I hear you’re off to find work,” Hamfast Gamgee said.

Sam nodded, his earnest little face still turned up toward his father. He could feel his resolve lessening at just the sight of his father. Sam respected his father and loved him dearly. That was why he just had to find a good job to help with feeding the family.

“So, you don’t like workin’ with me no more? Think you’ve learned your trade in not but a few summers do you?” Hamfast frowned.

“I don’t want to go but I got to,” Sam said. He pulled at the straps to his rucksack nervously.

“Oh, you got to do you?” Hamfast sighed. “So I’m just supposed to find help just like that am I?”

Sam wrinkled up his forehead and tried to figure this new thing out. He hadn’t thought about this. Who would help his father if he went out on his own?

“Here you are fixin’ to go out on your own and givin’ no thought to the rest’o us,” Hamfast said.

“I was thinkin’ about the rest ‘o you,” Sam objected. “I was thinkin’ that with me gone then there’d be less to feed and if I got a job I could send back money the way Hamson does.”

Hamfast nodded. “I suppose that’s so but I don’t think you thought this one all the way through, Sam lad.”

Sam scratched his head. “I thought I had.”

“You getting’ a job as a gardener might be all well as far as it goes but you’d not get paid much for your effort. You’d most likely be apprenticed to a gardener who’d been workin’ longer at it. Apprentices don’t make much in the way ‘o money lad. They’d let you work for food and board, which would be all well and good for you. You’d not go hungry this winter if you earned your keep,” Hamfast said.

“And you’d not have to worry about feeding me at least,” Sam spoke up. He was disappointed that he would not be makin’ any money but he would be helpin’ his father some just by earnin’ his own meals.

“No, I wouldn’t but I’d have to have myself an apprentice if you did that,” Hamfast said. “I’d have to take on a young lad to help me with Mr. Bilbo’s place and the gardens that I have over near town and then there’s our own garden and Daddy Twofoot is still goin’ to need our help this year like he always does.” Hamfast shook his head.

“He ain’t much of a gardener is he?” Sam sighed.

“No indeed and if we don’t see to him his lot will go hungry this winter,” Hamfast said. “I could find an apprentice I suppose but I’d have to start over fresh with a lad that didn’t know nothin’ at all. Most lads have got work by now. It’s the middle of the growin’ season, Sam.”

Sam nodded.

Marigold, who had been listening just on the other side of the doorframe hurried into the room and tugged at her father’s trouser-leg. “I can ‘prentice you father. I can be your new help in the gardens,” she said hopefully.

“That’s lad’s work,” Sam objected feeling jealous for some reason.

“No, it ain’t all work for a lad,” Hamfast said smiling down at his youngest child as he spoke. “Marigold here might make a fine apprentice but the trouble is that she ain’t got no experience yet and then what would your mother do for help if I was to take Marigold to train?”

“Poor mum,” Marigold said suddenly conflicted.

“So I’ll be needin’ a lad to help me and I expect we’ll have to feed and board him like your new master will be doin’ for you,” Hamfast said.

“But that won’t help out,” Sam frowned.

“Now you begin to see what I meant when I said that you ain’t thought this all through, son,” Hamfast said.

“But there’s too many of us,” Sam said his voice shaking with emotion.

Hamfast bent down and held out his arms and both of his little ones came rushing over. “No there ain’t. Why I still miss Hamson now and again. I wish we could have all stayed right here in this one smial together but your brother got it in his head to go off and learn a trade and when a lad makes up his mind you gotta let him have a try.” He held them close to him in a rough hug and Sam pressed his face against his father’s shirt.

“Why your mum and me would’a had a whole bunch more ‘o you little rascals if we’d thought to do it sooner. As it is some days there just aren’t enough ‘o you.” He chuckled and ruffled Sam’s hair.

“But I heard you and mum talkin’,” Sam murmured. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be listening but he supposed that his father knew that he had anyway.

“You heard part ‘o things but you’re too young yet to know what grown ups discuss and as I’ve always told you, Samwise, if you don’t hear all then you don’t know all. I lost one garden and so I’m a might upset about it but you know what?”

“What?” Marigold chirped before Sam could reply.

“I’ll work twice as hard on our garden and we’ll grow ourselves extra,” Hamfast said. “And I’ll ask around. I’ll find something more to replace that coin I would’a got for that garden.”

“I have two pennies,” Marigold offered.

Hamfast smiled at her and kissed the top of her head. “And you’re to keep them pennies for lithe fare this year, Missy,” he said. “A lass needs money for sweets now and again.”

Sam pulled reluctantly out of the hug and said, “I want to stay here and work with you, Gaffer.”

“Good lad,” Hamfast smiled. “You and me got extra planting to do now and we also gotta get into busy makin’ them stakes for the younger plants. Then there’s weedin’ to do over at Mr. Bilbo’s and poor ole Daddy Twofoot’s got slugs in his garden again.”

Sam shook his head in an imitation of his father and sighed. “It just ain’t right that a hobbit know so little about growin’ things. Even Mr. Bilbo knows more about plants and he don’t have to.”

Hamfast smiled. “We’ll see to ‘im so he gets to put food on his table won’t we lad?”

Sam grinned brightly, his round face glowing as his father said, “I got me the best apprentice in the Shire and I don’t intend to lose ‘im.”

The End

GW 06/23/2007

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