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Disclaimer: Lord of the Rings is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien, his family, New Line cinema, etc . I have written this short story purely for my own enjoyment.
Credit: www dot Tuckborough dot net
Note: This chapter amended on 07/02/2010.
Mid Summer, 1435 Shire Reckoning
Sam awoke feeling quite groggy. Sitting up, he took a blurry look at the unfamiliar surroundings.
Where was he?
It took a few moments for him to recall his journey to Frogmorton.
Of course! He had left Hobbiton yesterday to meet with Robin Smallburrow and sort out the mess with the Shirriff-post.
“Sam, you old ninnyhammer!” He shook his head at his own forgetfulness. “Best get yourself up and washed, that should clear your head.”
Feeling rather stiff and sore, the gardener swung his legs over the mattress and rose, stepping across to the small dressing table next to the bed. A large jug of water, a bowl and a fresh towel stood ready for use. He stuck a cautious finger into the bowl. The water was not exactly warm, but it would suffice for a quick wash.
Sam performed his morning ablutions and, after dressing and combing through his burnished gold locks, pulled a pocket watch from his weskit jacket. It was 9 o’ clock. He had overslept and missed first breakfast!
Harrumphing at the oversight, he left the room and made his way towards the main hall of the inn, where tables were arranged for diners and drinkers alike. He was annoyed at himself for sleeping so late. Being Mayor, and father to eight children, usually had him up at dawn; if he’d been at Bag End this would not have happened! Not that he felt any more refreshed for the long lie-in. In fact, he felt like he’d hardly slept at all, and was more than a little surprised at the headache and stiffness of his limbs. Still, perhaps it was only the strange room and the absence of his wife, which made him restless through the night. That could easily have caused him to both oversleep and feel so stiff.
On his arrival at the dining area, a stout, brown-haired hobbit matron with bright blue eyes approached him.
“Good day to you, Mayor Sam. You must have had a tiresome journey from Hobbiton yesterday to have slept so late this morning!” She smiled at him warmly and ushered him to a table near the window. Other than the Mayor and his hostess, the inn appeared to be quite empty. Sam offered the proprietress a small smile.
“I wasn’t able to leave Hobbiton until yesterday afternoon, so it was quite late when I arrived,” he replied, grateful for a viable excuse at being overdue for his first meal of the day. “One of the lads showed me to my room last night. I must‘ve been lost in dreams after that!”
“Not to worry. You’re still in time for second breakfast. Now, you just sit here Mr Mayor, sir, and I’ll see to it that Farlibar brings you a nice large breakfast to make up for the one you missed.”
Sam didn't know if he could manage a large breakfast, but he didn't want to contradict the pleasant proprietress, so he took the proffered seat and smiled politely in thanks. The hobbit matron left to procure his meal. When she was gone, Sam turned to gaze out the little window by his table. His eyes lingered absently on the Smials directly across the Great East Road while his thoughts lingered over his forthcoming mayoral duty.
Robin was to expect him before elevenses so they could discuss matters with the Shirriff-post, which was currently being repaired after a fire three weeks earlier. One of the Shirriffs had fallen asleep at the fireplace in the office after spending an exhausting day rounding up stray sheep from a local farm. Unfortunately, the hobbit official had left a candle burning near some documents on the desk, and when a healthy breeze blew in from the half-opened window, it quickly set them alight.
Fortunately no one had been seriously injured. A sharp-eyed passer-by had spotted the smoke then raised the alarm. The Shirriff was somewhat overcome by fumes from the burning room, but had been evacuated and tended to. However the desk, its documents, the floor around it, and the wall behind, were badly scorched, meaning some reconstructive work was necessary before it was once again fit for use.
Robin was as yet indecisive about whether the flooring should be made of wood, as before, or fitted with stone slabs to prevent danger from fires spreading in the future. As such, he had carpenters and masons squabbling with him, and each other, over which course of action was the most prudent. Sam was of the opinion that Robin should have been able to make the decision himself, but there was a question of the expense involved. His friend preferred not to make any final decisions on the matter until he had fully explained the situation then gained proper authorisation from the Mayor.
As he had promised his wife, Sam despatched a letter to Merry by Messenger Post the evening before he left. It was a brief note, informing the Brandybuck only that he would be in Frogmorton today, and inviting him to the Floating Log later that evening for a few ales. Pippin, however, was currently entertaining his in-laws and Sam did not wish to take him from his guests. As it was, he wasn’t even sure if Merry would make it; he may very well be too busy with affairs of Buckland to leave on such short notice.
Still, Sam would wait in case he was able to come. He hadn’t seen Merry since Pippin became Thain and it would be nice to spend some time with him. Rosie would have him tell Merry that he was sleeping poorly, and talk to him about the reasons why. This was, no doubt, mainly because Merry had been on the Quest with him. Nevertheless, Sam was reluctant to bring the topic up. He didn’t know how to put his dreams into words - or even if he wanted to.
Stifling a yawn, the Master of Bag End lamented the fact that he was still tired, despite having slept half the morning away. His eyes were hot and gritty and, with another yawn, he lifted a hand to rub at them. It wouldn’t do to dwell on the reasons for his constant lethargy these days. No good would come of that, in his opinion. Best to look forward, not back!
Decision made, he drew his gaze from the Smials and settled it on the doorway to the Inn’s kitchen, wondering how long it would be until he was served. Not that he particularly anticipated his meal; leastways, not any more. Not when an ache filled his stomach that no breakfast could fill. At night, his sleeping mind taunted him with images of what had been, and what could have been. In the morning, his waking mind chided him for his foolishness, for dwelling on such dreams so many years after Frodo had left.
Now then, Samwise Gamgee. You need to pull yourself together! Where’s that Gamgee strength? What’s Mr Merry going to say if he manages to make it here, then finds you’re barely able to keep your eyes open, or your head straight? If I know him, he’ll start worrying and give me a talking-to sharp as Rosie’s! And then where’ll I be? Won’t be much of a Mayor if I’m too busy being scolded like a child by the Master of Buckland in front of half of Frogmorton!
His breakfast arrived, pulling Sam from his self-chastisement. A strapping young hobbit stopped at the table, nodded, and proceeded to unload his wares. Sam guessed him to be the 'Farlibar' his hostess had referred to earlier.
“There you go, Mr Mayor, sir,” said the newcomer, bouncing (rather anxiously) on his heels. “Made your breakfast myself, I did. Best bacon, eggs and sausage in all the Shire, if I may say! We got some lovely, fat mushrooms delivered from Farmer Maggot and I fried them up nice for you, too. Never let it be said we don’t know how to treat dignitaries in Frogmorton!”
“Er, thank you,” replied Sam, staring at the mountain of food he‘d been served in silent dismay and trying to recall when he’d ever heard anyone saying they didn’t know how to treat ‘dignitaries’ in Frogmorton. The lad must be new - he was still hovering near the table, his pale fingers worrying the tray on which he had served the food. Oh, dear. If this was what he was like with the Mayor, he’d probably faint dead away if the Master of Buckland showed up as well!
“It looks and smells delicious.” Sam smiled at the young hobbit, nodding his head in a polite dismissal while silently determining to eat what he could of the meal. But Farlibar remained, rocking on his heels, staring expectantly at him.
Having no idea what the lad wanted, Sam was left to speculate that, as a cook, he may be looking for an appraisal of his skills. Wondering if everyone who ate at the inn had to bear the lad hovering over their table, or if it was just his luck as Mayor, he took a forkful of fluffy scrambled eggs and placed it in his mouth. They were delicious.
Satisfied at the look of appreciation on the Mayor’s face, Farlibar departed for the kitchens, leaving Sam in peace to consume his meal.
Although the food was very tasty - and despite his best intentions - the Mayor only managed to clear half his plate.
Good thing Rosie’s not here, or I’d be getting an earful, and no mistake! he mused, staring woefully at the remaining sausages and bacon. As it was, he was slightly alarmed at the thought of the cook taking offence when the other half of his breakfast was returned to the kitchen. It wouldn’t do to have Farlibar hounding him for the remainder of his stay! Still, he thought he’d take his chances and plead a delicate stomach if the lad did try to accost him. And, given the current pallor of his complexion, and the loose fit of his clothing, he doubted the younger hobbit would argue the point.
After breakfast, Sam left the inn at about 10 o’ clock and made his way to the village Shirriff-post. As he walked, he took in great lungfuls of the clean, fresh morning air. The brisk stroll helped to clear his head, allowing him to focus on the business to come.
A short while later, the gardener arrived at his destination, stopping just short of the Shirriff-post proper. The official building was now a proper hobbit structure, not the ugly, one-storey monstrosity erected during Sharkey’s time of defilement. But his enjoyment of the post’s hobbitty appeal was marred by the lingering stench of scorched wood which seemed to cling to the building. Voices drifted through the open door and he recognised one of them to be Robin‘s, who he spied just inside the hallway. Robin was in the middle of a heated argument with a stranger regarding the merits of stone versus wood. Sam rubbed his head and sighed despondently, his temporary feeling of clarity gone as quickly as it had arrived.
He really didn’t want to spend the entire morning trying to resolve this issue - he didn’t know if he was up to the task - but when an angry hobbit with a work-belt tied around his waist came storming outside, muttering about ‘unreasonable public figures who had no idea what a good, honest day’s work was like’, Sam feared he would have little choice.
So, resolutely squaring his shoulders for battle, the Mayor of Michel Delving bravely entered the hall.
Author's Note: This was originally planned as a one-shot as I didn’t trust my knowledge of Middle Earth and canon to go any further. Sam’s story had other ideas though, so everything after the first chapter is new territory for me (only having ever written one-shots before this fic). I have tried to be as faithful to the Great Master as I am able to so bear with me if you spot any errors.
Kara’s Aunty :)
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