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My birthday Mathom to all, with particular thanks to Lindelea and her family for such a delightful Present! 500 words.
The oak in the Party Field was perhaps the oldest tree in the whole of the Shire, ancient beyond knowing. The Roof Tree from atop the Hill was most likely a child of the Party Tree, and no one could name its age. Lotho’s Big Men had felled both, directed by the Sackville-Baggins’s spite, leaving a tall stump, partly split, like a broken tooth atop the Hill.
Young Tom sought to spare Samwise the need to remove the ruin. Struck by its resemblance to a chair, however, he found himself fashioning it instead into a throne facing West, capriciously carving stars into its back and below the raised arms on each side. There Master Frodo would sit often, that first spring and summer after his return from Outside, a tray suspended between the two arms on which he would write, working on his book.
But when the summer ended he sent for Tom and asked that he cut off the chair as close to the ground as possible. “I would not have it impeding the growth of the new Roof Tree,” he said. “And I have heard them grumbling in Hobbiton that its continued presence will likely give those who live in Bag End ‘ideas’ of some sort. No, best it be removed now. I doubt I’ll sit there next summer.”
A great saw was fetched, and Tom and Jolly between them cut it straight across, just above the hilltop’s surface. When done, however, Frodo decided that rather than burn it, the chair should be placed within Bag End in the old cold room, and watched as the two young Cottons wrestled it down the hill and into its new place.
Once it was settled, a fancy struck him that he shared with Tom before the Hobbit headed back to the farm in Bywater and his young bride. “When I have gone,” he directed, “I want for you to bring it out for Sam’s birthday each year, for him to sit upon for his party. After all, he was named a Prince of the West for his services to Middle Earth during the great war in which we fought. He deserves a High Seat matching his new estate, don’t you agree?”
Sam was embarrassed the first time Tom, Nibs, and Jolly carried out this directive, but the brothers would not be stayed from Tom’s agreement with Master Frodo. In the end it was brought out twice each year—once for Sam’s birthday in early April, and again in September when Sam celebrated the Birthday for the Ring-finder and the Ringbearer. “After all,” Sam concluded, “I wasn’t the only one as was named a Prince of the West, there at Cormallen.”
Perhaps few of those honored to be guests at the two parties, spring and fall, appreciated the meaning of the title, but it was simply accepted that in his own way their usually sensible Mayor was almost as eccentric as had been the two previous Masters of Bag End.
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