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Chapter 1: At That Moment
in which Sam realizes something important
It was my first year as Gardener of Bag End. The Gaffer had retired after serving there a-many good years. He was getting old and couldn't bend well anymore. I was named the Gardener at twenty-seven - still just a tween too!
"Don't cause a stir there, Samwise. Just do your job and mind your business" was all my Gaffer said about the job. He didn't have much confidence in me, but Mr. Frodo seemed to. I had worked my hardest under the Gaffer, and was planning to work even harder now that it was just me.
That year was the first of big changes in my life. The second of big chances would come much later, and I'm not too inclined to talk about that journey right now.
Around May, it was planting season and I had always went to help at the Cotton Farm. I'd wake early so's I could get my gardening work done quick then I'd head down South Lane to the Cotton Farm. My sisters, Marigold, and I would spend half our time at the Farm especially after our mother died. There was always something to do there, and we were good friends with the Cotton children.
The eldest Cotton boy, Tom, and I shared the same age, so we got along the best. There was only one Cotton girl, her being Rosie. She was four years my junior, but already looking like a full-grown tween. When we stood in front each other we were eye to eye.
Rosie was pretty, probably the prettiest lass I'd ever known. Her locks were long and always in pigtail braids when she was working. She knew how to make the best preserves. She'd ride out into the fields with Marigold on the cart around luncheon to feed us. One day, she had made strawberry preserves and I had said how much I liked it. From then on, she always brought strawberry preserves for luncheon even if I was the only one to eat it.
That's around the time Rosie started to make my favorite foods like strawberry cobbler and bacon-stuffed mushrooms and cottage cheese. Every time I'd say how much I liked something she made, she'd make sure it was on my plate often. She'd send preserves home with us almost ever night.
Tom took me aside one day during luncheon. "When do you plan to start courting her, Sam?"
I looked at him oddly. "Who do you mean, Tom?"
"My sister! When will you start courting her?" He cocked his head at me like I had lost my mind.
"I was never planning to court Rosie" I told him honestly. It's not that I didn't want to be the lad for Rosie, it's just that I never thought I'd have a chance. Many lads would be coming to call for her hand in a few more years. She was already receiving some takers when she'd go into town. She'd never be interested in a lowly gardener like myself especially since I'd known her from a little lass.
"Sam Gamgee, are you blind?" Tom popped me on the shoulder. "Haven't you even realized Rosie has been courting YOU for the last month?"
That was a surprise to me, and I nearly let out a loud snort from disbelief. "You got your mind on backwards, Tom Cotton."
"Listen to me" Tom said looking rather determined. "Have you noticed how Rosie keeps making your favorite meals? She makes stuffed mushroom so much now that I'm ashamed to say I'm getting tired of 'em! I bet you have a whole stock load of preserves in your pantry especially strawberry."
I thought for a moment then blushed when it finally hit me. I had been enjoying the good food so much, I hadn't noticed the over attention Rosie was giving me. I just played it up as her enjoying cooking, or maybe wanting to help out my family.
"Sam!" I heard her call me at that moment. I turned, and for the first time saw how her face lit up like the sun on the horizon, with the pink of her cheeks the color of a winter's sky evening. Her brown eyes shone bright and her smile gave off a melting warmth. That's when I realized just -how- pretty she was. I had known her for so long, but with that one look at that moment, I fell in love with her.
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