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B2MeM Challenge: From a prompt by Grey Wonderer
"It is that, Mr. Frodo. Me brother Hamson found it when I was just a little fry." Sam bent down to look for a fly in the basket that held his tackle. Mr Merry had shown him how to tie flies on his last visit to Mr.Frodo. This was his first opportunity to try them, and he hoped to catch a couple of nice fat brown trout for supper.
Stretching briefly, Frodo gazed wistfully at the water. "This reminds me of the little cove off the Brandywine where I taught Merry to swim..."
Sam shuddered. "Is that so?" He asked, more out of politeness than any wish to know about it.
"Yes. It had a nice sandy bank that ran right down to the edge of the water. Merry and I had a lot of fun there; later on, it's where Merry taught Pippin, and the three of us would go there on hot days to cool off."
Frodo reached up and unbuttoned the top button of his collar. "I could teach you to swim, Sam."
The young hobbit's hand twitched mid-cast, and he began drawing in his line for another one. "No, thank you, Mr. Frodo. All that splashing would scare the fish off."
"Ah. Well, perhaps when we are finished with fishing then."
"No, sir." Sam hoped that his Master would drop the subject. But his hope was quickly dashed.
"Why not, Sam?" Frodo was puzzled. Sam rarely ever told him 'no' since Frodo had come to live at Bag End the previous year.
"Because it's not..." Sam stopped himself. He couldn't say the Gaffer's favorite word on the subject, "unnatural" without hurting Mr. Frodo's feelings and offending him. "it's not what Gamgees do." Then he turned the tables. "Why do you want to teach me to swim, Mr. Frodo? It's not like I'll ever go boating or anything."
Frodo couldn't bring himself to tell the child the real reason: his firm conviction that had his father known how to swim, both his parents would still be alive. He couldn't bear the thought that anyone he cared about would ever suffer a similar fate. He just repeated what he'd said earlier. "Because I thought it would be good fun! Merry and I always had fun." He ran his finger under his collar. "Besides, it's hot!"
"Please, Mr. Frodo, I don't want to. Don't ask me again, sir."
Frodo nodded. "Very well, Sam. I won't bring it up again." He bent down to pick up his own rod, and prepared to cast his line.
Sam nodded and made another cast; this time he got a bite. He grinned and set his line and forgot all about swimming.
Many years later, two hobbits made their way up a rocky shelf, so as to be out of sight of the Western shore of the Anduin. There they plopped down briefly to gather their bearings.
"Sam, you're drenched all through. You need to change into dry clothes before we go any further." Frodo took up his waterskin and took a drink, averting his gaze. The travellers had precious little privacy during their journey, but they tried to do their best to at least maintain the illusion.
"Yes, Mr. Frodo." Frodo could hear Sam fumbling in his pack, and then getting into dry garments. "Mr. Frodo?"
"Do you remember that day we went fishing and you wanted to teach me to swim?"
Frodo suppressed a smile. "I most certainly do."
"I suppose I ought to've listened to you back then. Then mayhap I wouldn't've almost drownded today."
Frodo chuckled. "Yes, Sam. Probably so. But I shan't tell you 'I told you so', for I'm too glad that you did not, in fact, drown."
He heard the sound of Sam standing back up and shifting his weight. Sam had packed his wet clothing outside his pack, so they'd dry. "Well, I suppose we'd better get started. As the Gaffer says, 'You won't go far when standing still.'
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