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Frodo gazed down at the silver penny gleaming in his hand for a long moment. As of that day, Sam was thirty-three years old. His family was giving him a coming-of-age birthday celebration. Frodo had his own gift to give Samwise Gamgee, which he was going to give to Sam at his party, before noon; he had donned his best clothes for the occasion. A proud, yet thoughtful smile crept across his face as he thought about his gardener and friend. Hard to believe how quickly Sam has grown up! he thought.
Whistling, the young Master of the Hill wrapped it in a white linen handkerchief, slipped it into his trouser pocket, and left the smial to walk down to Number 3 Bagshot Row. The round bright-green door clicked shut behind him as he strolled down the cobblestone path toward the gate, which opened out onto the dirt path leading to the bottom of the Hill. He paused to close the gate before continuing onward. Overhead, a few wispy clouds drifted in the sky, and a breeze ruffled his curls. His feet made soft thuds in the dirt, leaving narrow impressions behind as he made his way toward Sam’s home.
As Frodo approached the Gamgee smial minutes later, he could hear joyful noises coming from inside. He smiled; it sounded as if the Gamgees were having fun. He knocked on the round yellow door, and it swung open seconds later.
“Mr. Frodo!” The Gaffer stood smiling in the doorway. “Come in.” He held the door wider, and Frodo entered the room, smoothing his dark curly hair back. The door shut behind him with a soft click, and Frodo nodded a greeting toward the assembled Gamgees.
“Happy birthday, Sam!” Frodo smiled broadly as he looked at the newly-come-of-age young man, who had put on his best clothes, and was holding a clay mug. Frodo clasped his hands in front of his waist. I wish Bilbo was here to see this! he thought. He’d be so proud of Sam!
“Thank’ee, Mr. Frodo.” Setting the mug on the table, Sam smiled, running his fingers through his curly hair. He gestured toward the bottle on the table. “Some ale, sir?”
“In a minute.” On the Gaffer’s invitation, Frodo removed his jacket and hung it on a hook on the wall, and then he turned to Hamfast. “Has Sam been given his birthday gifts yet?”
Hamfast nodded. “Yes, sir, Mr. Frodo.”
“At least I’m not too late.” Approaching Samwise, Frodo removed the handkerchief out of his trouser pocket and handed it to Sam. “Unwrap it,” he urged.
Sam unwrapped the handkerchief and gaped at the coin. “A—a silver penny!” He looked up at Frodo. “Thank’ee, sir, but why?”
“To commemorate your coming of age.” Frodo laid a hand on the young gardener’s shoulder.
Sam blushed. “Well—well, uh, thank’ee, Mr. Frodo. I’ll keep this someplace special.” He slipped it into his own pocket. “Later, that is.”
“Why don’t you save it until you’re ready to use it, Sam? Don’t just keep it as a trinket, but use it to buy something nice that you need or want. For your family or yourself.”
Sam nodded. “I will.”
Sam rushed toward the table and picked up a package. “This one’s for you, Mr. Frodo. ‘s not noon yet, but I want to give it to you now.”
Frodo removed the brown paper wrapping and beamed. It was a wooden carving of a fox. “Thank you, Sam,” he said, as he rubbed his fingers over its smooth surface. “You carved this yourself, didn’t you?” Smiling broadly, the gardener nodded. “Then that makes it all the more special. I, too, shall keep this somewhere special.” He slipped it into his pocket.
“Remember when we saw that fox on the way to Bywater, Mr. Frodo?”
Frodo nodded. “I sure do, Sam. I haven’t forgotten. You did a very good job of carving its likeness.” He exchanged a glance with Sam for a long moment, as he remembered that time.
The Gaffer smiled approvingly at his son, and then exchanged a glance with his other children. “Now, Mr. Frodo, we got some cake. I’ll cut it as soon as it’s noon.” He led Sam to the other end of the table.
Frodo smiled broadly. It’s hard to believe that Sam is now an adult, he thought. I’ve spent all these years watching him grow up, especially since Bilbo adopted me. But it’s true; he is grown up now. But in truth, he grew up long ago, in the years after Mistress Bell died. Upon accepting the mug of ale that Sam offered him, he waited with the Gamgees for noon to come, and for the birthday celebration to officially begin.
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