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Hamfast, age 8 I am not a scaredy-cat, no matter what Goldilocks and Merry and Pippin say. Faramir believes me, you just go ask him.
None of rest of them really understand about the terrible things that are out in the world because they don’t listen to the stories like I do. They only hear about elves and dwarves and kings. I hear about giant spiders and wargs and evil trees and bad Men, and things that used to be hobbits but have turned into something worse than anything because they were us once.
You have to be careful of those awful things, or they will get you, and then maybe you will be something bad and sad and horrible someday too. Goldilocks says don’t be silly! We have learned from our parents, and we know how to stay out of trouble. But Goldilocks sure is in trouble an awful lot, so I’m not sure I believe her.
So maybe I am not so brave as Goldilocks and Faramir, because even when I do the same things they do, I know I’m lots more scared. But Frodo says sometimes brave just means stupid (though I think he was talking about Merry and Pippin here) and usually when we are afraid it is for a good reason. The trick, he said, is to know when there is a good reason and when we are just imaging things. I haven’t figured the trick out yet, but I am still not very big. Frodo never laughs at me or turns me away when it’s too scary at night and I want to crawl into bed with him. There are funny noises in the dark at night, and I can hear tree branches tapping on the window as if they are trying to get in, and hooves on the road that really might be something bad coming, and things that sound like dogs but just might be wargs. But it is safer in Frodo’s room, even though he is all alone in there and I share with Merry and Pippin and Bilbo. Frodo’s room is on the Hill side, and there are no windows, and you can’t hear funny noises, and the door is big and heavy and nothing would get through it. Also, Frodo is there, and he is too big to let me get caught by bad things.
Frodo knows I just like to hear the good parts of the stories, and he tells them all better than anyone except Dad. I like to hear about Goldberry and Tom Bombadil, and about Beorn and all the good things Mr. Bilbo had to eat at his house, but I don’t like to hear about Old Man Willow, or Barrow-wights or Mirkwood. Frodo has all kinds of funny stories about Bill the Pony, who was Dad’s very own pony for years and years, and the adventures he got into traveling through the Wild back to Bree all on his own. Frodo knows how to make them not-too-scary, though, but even if they were scary, it would not be so bad, because they are made-up. It is the not-pretend scary things that are the worst.
Mr. Merry sat me on his lap once when I was little, and the story about Mr. Bilbo and the trolls had made me cry I was so scared. “Hamfast,” he said, “you know that we have a king now, and while no one can make all the evil in the world go away, he has driven away much of it, and Middle-earth is a safer place. And you know that even the evil things that still exist are far away from the Shire and Bag End and will never find their way to you.”
I could not tell him that I am not afraid the bad things will come to Bag End (except sometimes at night when there are strange noises) but that I will have to go to the bad things someday. That is what happened to Dad -- he did not want to go on any adventures, but he had to, for Mr. Frodo. Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin did not want to go with Mr. Frodo to destroy the Ring either, but they had to, because they loved him, although Elanor says Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin would have been adventurers no matter what.
I am afraid that is the same for Faramir and Goldilocks. They will be adventurers no matter what, and I will have to go with them, because I love them. I am not always much use when we are doing adventurous things, but then Dad didn’t think he was much use to Mr. Frodo either, and Mr. Merry says that there would be nothing but evil things in the world now if Dad had not gone with Mr. Frodo.
Faramir’s horrid cousin Aggie jumped out of a cupboard at me last year in the middle of the night when I was staying at the Great Smials and I was so scared that I cried until Mr. Pippin gave me some tea, and then I was very sleepy. Mr. Pippin rocked me and I felt oh-so-safe, and then he asked what I was so afraid of, anyway, and I told him my big secret, that what I am most afraid of is that I won’t be brave enough when I really need to be. Mr. Pippin was quiet for a long time, and then he said, “But I know you will be, Hamfast. You are a hobbit, and sometimes it takes something tremendous for courage to wake up in a hobbit. But it’s there, in all of us. You just wait and see.”
I sure hope Mr. Pippin knows what he’s talking about. He is the Thain and all, but Mummie says to take everything he says with a grain of salt, which means that sometimes what really happened might not be as grand as what Mr. Pippin says about it. But it doesn’t seem like this is the type of thing Mummie meant when she said that.
I am trying to be braver, though. I went on a boat on the Brandywine River this summer, and that wasn’t so bad once I got used to it. I climb trees with Faramir, and I even slept outside at night on a walking trip with him and Mr. Pippin. And when Bilbo woke up crying in the middle of the night and said there was a monster under the bed, I leaned way over and looked underneath, and it was just one of the cats. And I’ll follow Faramir and Goldilocks anywhere they go, no matter how far away.
Dad says old Mr. Bilbo used to say it was a dangerous business, going out of your door, and that if you didn’t keep your feet, there was no knowing where you might be swept off to. Since Faramir and Goldilocks are always looking for trouble (that’s what Mummie says) I guess it will sweep us right into a heap of it.
I sure hope Mr. Pippin knows what he’s talking about.
(NOTE: Sam is quoting Frodo quoting Bilbo at the end. In “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the chapter “Three is Company,” Frodo says, “’It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ (Bilbo) used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”)
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