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The salty breeze of the ocean filled Sam’s senses. The ship rocked as it made its way out to the water beyond. Sam felt oddly at ease but frightened at same time. He was sailing West finally to meet Frodo again. The long years in the Shire were gratifying and happy, full of life with family and good work as Mayor of the Shire many times.
But it was time to move on.
His Rose had died and he felt too lonely without her. His kids had all grown and had their own families. The sea longing was fierce and he could no longer resist.
Still, he couldn't pretend that the decision had been an easy one. Although his beloved Rose was gone now, he was still leaving behind a very large, loving, family; his thirteen children, their respective spouses, grandchildren, and even a few great-grands. This didn't take into account his extended family and his childhood friends. It was overwhelming when he thought about the risk he was taking. Here he was, at this advanced age, making a change to his life that would have been frightening even when he was thirty years younger, but it was for Frodo. The first time he left the Shire, it had been for his Mr. Frodo and this last time it was for that same, remarkable hobbit; Frodo Baggins.
Sam smiled and looked out at the sunset glinting off the water. Somewhere beyond that horizon, Mr. Frodo was waiting for him and Sam longed to see his dear friend's kind face and hear his voice again. He only hoped that Frodo had found the healing he needed and that he was whole once more. To see his friend restored to full health would make all of his unease worth it.
"Master Gamgee, won't you join us for a meal? We have a long voyage ahead of us and you don't wish your first moments in Tol Esserea to be filled with the pangs of hunger. I've heard much of the healthy appetites of your people, but you seem to be immune to the pleasures of food and drink." The elf smiled and waved a hand toward a banquet which had been set out upon blankets surrounded by large, comfortable, cushions. A few of the elves were already seated and wine was being poured.
Sam knew there were few things more enjoyable than the wine of the fair folk. "My old gaffer always said it was rude to turn down good food if folks went to the trouble to provide it for you. I think a small meal might be just the thing to put me at ease," Sam agreed and he walked over and took a seat on one of the cushions.
"A toast to our most esteemed passenger!" One of the other elves announced, raising his glass to Sam. "Let us all drink the health of Master Samwise Gamgee, one of the Ring-bearers and a member of the nine walkers!"
Sam blushed as the five elves seated around him also raised their glasses. Sam said, bashfully, "I was just along to help, Mr. Frodo. He was the real hero."
"That, Master Gamgee, is the modesty that we have been told by Mithrandir, to expect from you," the elf who had offered the toast said and they all drank to Sam's health.
The wine was delicious, and the food was all wonderful. There was even some lembas bread, but Sam avoided that. As good as it tasted and as filling as it was, Sam doubted that he could ever eat that elvish food again. It had once sustained him during the darkest moments of his life, but he feared that tasting it again would bring on the dark dreams that fortunately, seldom came these days. He did not want to risk that. He wanted his meeting with Frodo to be one of joy and his time among the elves to be filled with peace. Those dark days had no place in such fair surroundings.
Then there was music! Beautiful, melodious, music! The music of the elves! Sam sat transfixed, forgetting that he was on a ship at sea. His mind was filled with the song of the elves and his corners had been filled up nicely with their food and drink. It wasn't until the song died down that Sam looked up and saw the darkening sky.
The clouds were now an angry grey and the sun wasn't visible at all. There was a chill in the air and the wind had picked up. As Sam watched, a couple of the elves studied the sky and another one began clearing away the feast. "Are we still all right?" Sam asked, trying not to let his fear show.
"We are fine, master Gamgee," one of the elves who had been studying the sky smiled. "This is a fine, sturdy, vessel and she will see us safely home." He then turned to another elf and said, "Let's have another song, something light and cheering to help chase away these dark skies."
With a nod, the elf with the beautiful voice who had been singing during their meal lifted his voice in song again. Several of the others passed around some fruit and bread and in hobbit fashion, or so it seemed to Sam, another meal sprang from the left-overs of the first one.
But clouds had gathered and the ship seemed to be going into an oncoming storm. The elves were all singing and eating, but Sam could not make himself enjoy it fully. His nervousness had turned into fear.
His stomach churned, his senses darkening and before he knew it, the waves seem to have formed even higher than before that they seemed to lap up to the mast. He must’ve cried out for an elf was beside him like he could not steady himself.
Before he knew it, the dark burgeoning wave seemed to lap up and swallow him whole. Everything went dark.
Sam sputtered and coughed and woke up to the dark of the night. He realized that he was tangled in his bed covers, shaking with fear, drenched with sweat.
“Da?” Elanor peeped her head in his room, her eyes full of concern. “Did you have a bad dream? I heard you yelling from next door.”
Sam finally realized where he was- safely in Bag End but he realized that his Rose was not next to him. Rosie had died about two months ago but he could not shake his loneliness. Elanor, Frodo and Pippin and their children all came to visit him in Bag End but he could not shake his melancholy. He often dreamt of the sea. This wasn't the only time.
“I am all right,” Sam replied shakily. Elanor came to his bedside, offered him a glass of water and did not speak. She had learned to be patient with Sam especially ever since Rosie died.
“It was all a dream,” said Elanor. “Is it the same one?”
Sam hesitated. He had been dreaming of the sea and anything related to it for some time; sometimes he remembered the content sometimes he did not, but the frequency did increase more since Rosie died. He kept wondering about Gandalf’s last conversation with him, a private conversation at the Grey Havens before Frodo departed.
“If one day, you tire of Middle-earth, there is a spot in the ship that can bring you far, far away, in the green country when all turns to silver glass.” “What do you mean, Gandalf?” Sam’s eyes widened in surprise. “You are a Ring-bearer, Samwise. Do not forget that you were also affected and you are afforded a place in one of the last ships to depart Middle-earth if you desire so.” “Me? I did not do anything though; I only helped Frodo. Surely they do not think I am that special? My place is here.”
“What do you mean, Gandalf?” Sam’s eyes widened in surprise.
“You are a Ring-bearer, Samwise. Do not forget that you were also affected and you are afforded a place in one of the last ships to depart Middle-earth if you desire so.”
“Me? I did not do anything though; I only helped Frodo. Surely they do not think I am that special? My place is here.”
At that time Sam thought that no matter what he will stay. He was mayor, he had a grand family, and he was well respected in the Shire. However, these past two months had been taxing for him emotionally and physically.
“Da? You need not tell me what’s in your thoughts but know that I’m here for you, all right? Fastred and I will be here till the end of the week. We love you very much, all right?” Elanor hugged her father and proceeded back to her bed.
Sam looked on and thought of how he’ll always seem torn but at that moment, the choice seemed clearer than before. He loved his family, but perhaps his time in Middle-earth was drawing to a close.
Frodo, I am coming soon.
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