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The Gardener and The Wind Lord  by Grey Wonderer

None of these characters are mine and the part of this story that appears in bold type is taken from "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. The characters are his, of course.


†††††††††††††††††††††††††† "The Gardener and The Windlord"

Heíd never enjoyed heights. Most sensible hobbits couldnít abide them. "Anything thatís higher above your head than you can reach with an arm is most likely something you donít need or could do without, Samwise," his old Gaffer had told him time and time again. Heíd always seen the sense in this as a young lad and he could well see it now.

Still, he felt that he had to do this one thing or burst tryiní. After all, some things needed sayiní and heíd no right to leave a courtesy unseen to just because he was a bit nervous. He hadnít been raised like that at all. His folks had been keen on manners and punishment for not showiní good manners had been swift and stern.

He remembered once when he was no more than nine and had forgotten his manners. Heíd been standing with his dear mum at the counter in the local dry goods shop eyeing the candy inside of one of the big show cases in the manner that only a nine-year-old lad can.

"I think weíll be needin a bit more tea as well," his mum was telling the shop keeper, Mister Tunnely as Sam pressed his nose closer to the glass and eyed some rather large peppermint sticks. Those were his favorites and it had been ever so long since heíd had any. Mum had said last time that there wasnít any extra for sweets and he supposed that there wouldnít be any extra today. He felt her hand on his curly head now, pushing him back a bit from the glass.

"Sam, youíre getting her nose prints all over Mister Tunnelyís glass," she had said. "Donít stand so close or youíll have to wait outside while I finish, understand?"

He had looked up at her, "Yes, mama." He had stood back and let his gaze return to the sweets. Just next to the peppermints were his second favorite candies. They were little sour balls that made your mouth pucker up if you ate them too fast. Sam wasnít sure how a tiny candy could be both sweet and sour at the same time, but these were. Next to them was an entire bowl of taffy. Now he knew well that his mum would not be wastiní any of their money on those. She could make those if she had the money for fixinís. She made them at Yule most years. No, they wouldnít be buyiní any taffy but maybe some of the rum balls. Sam didnít know if those truly tasted like rum because heíd never had any rum before but his older brother said that they did. Some day when he was older, Sam was only ever going to drink rum if that was true.

"Thatís a might steep for so few items, Mister Tunnely," he heard his mum say. "I think youíd best put half oí that pipeweed back." As the shop keeper began to comply his mum looked down at him and winked. "Your papaíll have to smoke it a bit slower this month wonít he?"

Sam smiled and nodded although he was old enough to know that this was hardly a joke. If something had to be put back, the pipeweed was always the first thing to go. There would be no candy today. Just as he was exchanging smiles with his mum and pretending that everything was fine, the shop door opened and in came a very large hobbit and a little lad.

The lad raced ahead to the counter and joined Sam in front of the sweets. "I want a whole bag of cherry drops and some peppermints," the lad explained to Sam as if heíd known him all of his life. "Which ones are you gettin?" The smaller lad looked over at Sam and waited for an answer.

"Oh, I donít like any of it much," Sam lied. "I donít suspect Iíll get anything." He hoped his mum wasnít listening as she didnít take to his telling fibs but he also wasnít supposed to go around telling folks about the family money problems either.

"You donít like candy?" the small ladís eyes went wide and he looked at Sam as if he were some interesting new kind of hobbit. "I love candy! I love all kinds of it and my papa says if Iím good while we do business in Hobbiton that I can have some." The lad was very friendly and very well dressed. Even at nine, Sam had known the difference between his clothes and this ladís. "My papa says that some day Iíll be the Master of Buckland, but Iím not going to," the lad continued.

"Youíre not?" Sam asked, knowing that the master of anything was important. He didnít know what the Master of Buckland was, but this lad seemed to think that he would so he didnít think it proper to ask.

The lad grinned, revealing that one of his front teeth was missing. He stuck out his chest proudly and said, "Iím going to own my very own candy shop. Thatís far better than being the Master of Buckland." The ladís father smirked behind them and then continued to look at some items on the shelves.

"Iím gettiní a whole bag of the cherry ones," the child leaned toward the case and proceeded to put his little round nose against the glass where Samís had been earlier.

Sam, thinking to save the lad from a warning or worse, took hold of his collar and pulled him away from the glass. "Donít lean on it. You get prints and stuff on there," Sam advised.

"Samwise Gamgee, you apologize this instant!" his mum ordered taking hold of Samís collar. "Youíre not in charge oí this lad." Sam straightened up and backed away from the child then looked down at his feet. "You apologize to his father at once."

Sam swallowed hard and the little lad made things worse by beginning to cry and wrapping his arms around his fatherís legs. "Sheís yelling at my new friend," he whispered tearfully.

"Hush, now, Merry-lad," the big hobbit said, stroking his childís curls. "Really, Mistress Gamgee, itís quite all right. Iím sure the lad meant no harm."

His mum had continued to look very put out with him and he knew she was waiting for him to say something. "Iím awful sorry, sir," Sam managed softly while still looking at his feet.

"You didnít do nothing wrong," Merry-lad muttered, looking over at Samís mum in disgust. The large hobbit rapped his knuckles on the childís head and said, sharply, "Apologize to Mistress Gamgee, Meriadoc and I mean at this instant or there shall be no candy."

The child looked stricken by this news and turned to Samís mum and said, "Iím sorry."

Samís mum had smiled at this small stranger and said, "Tíwerenít nothing, young Master. Donít you fret." She had then taken her purchases in one hand and Samís hand in the other and led him from the shop leaving the future candy store owner and his father behind.

That had been his first meeting with Meriadoc Brandybuck. He doubted that Merry would remember it, but heíd never forgotten. His mum had made sure of that. You did not disrespect the Master of Buckland and his family. "You have to know your place Samwise and stay in it."

He wondered what she would make of the things heíd done recently if she knew. He wondered if sheíd think he had gotten out of his place and he supposed that she would. If she were still alive, then he suspected that sheíd have a thing or two to say about his recent behavior. He smiled as he thought of her and wished that no matter how stern the lecture or how hard sheíd pull on his ear, that she were still here to have her say.

He continued on his walk through the camp and realized that, in spite of his fears, he was coming closer to his destination. Very soon he would be near the upper-most part of Ithilien. He wondered how Mister Pippin had ever managed to climb up that tall tower and light that beacon while heíd been in Minas Tirith. He sighed. Tooks werenít altogether normal hobbits when it came to heights and so he supposed that it hadnít troubled Mister Pippin one bit.

He told himself that he had climbed much higher than this on his journey into Mordor with Mister Frodo, but it didnít seem to help. Knowing that he had managed that climb didnít make this easier. Besides, that had been a case of not having any choice. In this matter he did have a choice. "No, Sam, you donít have any choice at all. A proper thank-you is due and a proper thank-you will be given," he muttered to himself as he reached the part of his trip that he was dreading the most. He stopped and stared up at the cliff above him in dismay. Now, he found himself thinking of Mister Bilbo. He remembered sitting on the floor of Bag End and listening to Mister Bilbo tell about the Eagles.

"Well, I thought that we were to be eaten for sure by those great birds," Mister Bilbo said, leaning forward and looking into Samís wide eyes with a twinkle in his own. "But then I got a chance to listen to ole Gandalf as he talked to one of them."

"Was it Gwaihir?" Sam had ventured to ask, knowing full-well that it was. Heíd heard the story many times before and while it wasnít his favorite, it was very close.

"That it was, young Master Gamgee," Mister Bilbo had said, smiling. "It seemed that we werenít going to be eaten after all. I was set down on a wide shelf of rock on the mountain-side and it was while there that I heard The Lord of All Eagles talking with Gandalf about our fate."

Sam felt a hand on his head from behind and knew that it was Mister Frodo who was ruffling his curls. "Then what happened, Bilbo?" Mister Frodo asked, though he knew even better than Sam did.

"Well, Gandalf was trying to convince Gwaihir to take us all, the dwarves and I and of course, Gandalf, as close as he would across the plains below us because we were very high up at that time, donít you see," Mister Bilbo said, winking at Sam who could only nod. "But Gwaihir was afraid to go too near to men because he told Gandalf that men would shoot at the eagles with their great bows of yew. He said they would just think that the eagles had come after their sheep. Gwaihir was happy to help us all that he could, but he wasnít going to let any of his eagles risk their lives by going too close to men."

Sam shook his head in wonder at this as he remembered it now. He supposed that all of the troubles with the Dark Lord had changed Gwaihirís thoughts on men. Now the great eagle was perched on a wide landing on the cliff that rose up above the camp in Ithilien. This was a place of men and The Lord of all Eagles was here. Now, Samwise Gamgee of the Shire was standing at the base of the cliff and gathering his nerve to go up and speak to The Lord of all Eagles. Maybe it wouldnít be that difficult after all.

This mighty Eagle had risked coming among men to help save the race of men and all of Middle Earth. This Eagle Lord and another of his kin had flown into the burning waste that was all that remained of Mordor in order to bring Sam and Mister Frodo to safety. The very least that he could do now was to summon his courage and climb this cliff. He would do what was right and he would thank this great bird for his life.

Just as Sam was preparing to climb up, the huge bird swooped down from atop his high perch and landed behind him as lightly as you please. Sam turned and watched as the magnificent bird settled his feathers. He then turned one of his eyes in Samís direction. Sam choked back a startled cry and tried to regain his composure. For here, just a few feet away, sat one of the magical creatures from Mister Bilboís tales. Samwise Gamgee was face-to-face with Gwaihir, the Windlord.

He didnít know what to expect in regard to how the eagle might sound but in all of Mister Bilboís tales about the eagles it seemed that they had simply spoken with Gandalf and with Mister Bilbo too. He hoped it hadnít been Elvish because he didnít know hardly any of that and would never dare to speak it to such a great Lord as this. He drew in a very deep breath and began with a bow. "Begginí your pardon, oh Lord of all Eagles, sir, but I am Samwise Gamgee, son of Hamfast of the Shire of the Halflings," Sam said in a shaky voice.

"I know this," replied the Eagle in a very deep voice that seemed to vibrate all around Sam. "I remember you from our journey together."

"I am honored by that, sir," Sam said, less shaky now. He took a small step toward the great bird and continued. "I wanted to come and thank you and your kin for rescuing dear Mister Frodo and I from that awful place."

The Eagle straightened and then he bowed in a way. He leaned forward and nearly touched his sharp beak to the ground, while spreading his enormous wings. As he straightened he spoke in a much softer voice. "You need not thank me, Mister Gamgee, nor any of my kin. Your name is honored among my kind and it will always be so. You traveled with the Ringbearer. Your actions saved all. I could do no less than to come to your aide in your hour of need."

Sam felt tears come to his eyes and he had difficulty finding his voice again. Thankfully, Gwaihir waited patiently. "If you please, your Lordship, I werenít the one that did anything much. I was only there to help Mister Frodo finish his task. Mister Frodo deserves all of the honor that can be given to him, but I am just a simple gardener from The Shire."

"You do yourself a great disservice if you believe that, my little friend," Gwaihir said, gently. "Tales will be told throughout all lands and among all creatures of your deeds and of your part in the destruction of The One Ring. It is true that The Ringbearer is the most honored of all, but among my kin, the name of Samwise Gamgee is also one of honor."

Sam looked at this wonderful bird and held his head high now. "I am truly honored by you and your kin."

Gwaihir nodded his head slightly and then said, "If ever we can be of any service to you, you will have but to ask."

Sam was now wide-eyed with surprise and he said, "I and my family are at your service. I do thank you for my life and for Mister Frodoís life."

"And I thank you for my life and the lives of all who dwell in this Middle Earth. Be well, Samwise Gamgee and be proud of all that you have accomplished. It is not wise to belittle your own acts. It is an admirable thing to be humble, but it is a foolish thing not to take what pride you have earned," Gwaihir advised. "Learn from the eagles for we are proud birds. Be proud. Be well wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journeyís end!" And with those well-remembered words, the eagle spread his wings and gently sailed off into the sky above Samís head. Sam watched as the great Lord of all Eagles swooped and dipped and circled above him.

He called out what he remembered had been Gandalfís reply to those words in Mister Bilboís tale though he suspected that the eagle could not hear him. "May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks."

Other words from Bilboís tale filled Samís head again as he watched until he could no longer see The Lord of All Eagles and the great birdís golden crown was a twinkle in the afternoon sun.

"There was a howl of anger and surprise from the goblins. Loud cried the Lord of the Eagles, to whom Gandalf had now spoken. Back swept the great birds that were with him and down they came like huge black shadows. The wolves yammered and gnashed their teeth: the goblins yelled and stamped with rage, and flung their heavy spears in the air in vain. Over them swooped the eagles; the dark rush of their beating wings smote them to the floor or drove them far away; their talons tore at goblin faces. Other birds flew to the tree-tops and seized the dwarves who were scrambling up now as far as they ever dared to go.

Poor little Bilbo was very nearly left behind again! He just managed to catch hold of Doriís legs, as Dori was borne off last of all; and up they went together above the tumult and the burning, Bilbo swinging in the air with his arms nearly breaking.Ē

The End

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