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Since so many things were headed over the Brandywine, the easiest thing was to load up the trunk with only those items. The letters Frodo had saved from the Bolgers were right on top: the plan was to stay the night in Budgeford with Estella's family, and return the letters at the same time.
Sam found another, smaller, box in which to put the items he was keeping at Bag End, and bundled up the items that would be taken down the Hill to old Ponto Baggins. Sam thought he'd probably do that in the next day or two.
The luggage and the trunk were loaded up by elevenses, and the hobbits all stopped their work for one more meal--a light one of cheese and bread and fruit and tea. Since the weather was so mild, Rosie brought out a large quilt and they took their meal on the front lawn.
The adults were still eating when the children were done; little Elanor pulled Wyn off to play for a while, and Perry slept soundly on the blanket by his mother's side.
"I hate to leave, Sam, but we've both got duties to see to back at home," said Merry regretfully.
"It's been a right nice visit, Merry," replied Sam, "Mayhap you can all come back when we don't have such serious business to see to."
Pippin nodded. "I think you should all come for a visit to Crickhollow! You haven't been to see us since Perry's Naming Day, and you didn't bring Rosie and Elanor then! How about right after Midsummer?"
Merry agreed, and Sam looked at Rose. "What do you think, Rose? Can we manage that?"
"I think we can, at that," she said, smiling.
After helping Rose clear up from the meal, they prepared to leave. Rose handed a large basket to Estella, packed with luncheon for the journey. "There's some mushroom pasties, some ham sandwiches, some pickled tomatoes, and some honeycakes and a jar of swizzle* for drinking." Rose lowered her voice, "and a little tin with the rest of the taffy." She looked around to make sure that Pippin had not heard. His sweet tooth was infamous.
Then Merry helped Estella into the trap, and handed Perry up to her, and Pippin put Wyn up. Then Merry clambered aboard and took up the reins. Pippin trotted to the waggon and did the same.
As they drove off, waving a cheerful farewell to their hosts, Sam and Rosie grinned at one another, watching Elanor jump up and down shouting "'Bye, Unca Merry! 'Bye, Unca Pip! 'Bye, Auntie Estella! 'Bye, Perry! 'Bye, Wynnie!" She ran alongside the road as far as the edge of the garden, repeating herself, still waving, until they turned out of sight at the bottom of the Hill.
In the trap, with two children being lulled into sleep by the rhythm of the ponies' hooves and a tired wife, Merry began to mentally compose a letter:
What in the world were you and Gandalf thinking, letting Frodo bring that chain home with him? I am sure you should have realised it couldn't be good for him! Why couldn't you have just chucked it out? I don't see…"
And in the waggon, and with nothing else to do but hold the reins, Pippin started up a song:
"The Road goes ever on and on…"
*One last note (because this story is all about the notes) 8-) : "Swizzle" also known as "Switchel" and a number of other names, is an ancient non-alcoholic beverage containing water, vinegar, honey or sugar (or other sweeteners) and spice or herbs depending on when and where it was made. I am sure hobbits would have known of it!
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