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Fairy-tales, Cabbages & Potatoes

Chapter Text

The autumn sun was shining on the neat green grass, and flooding in through Bilbo’s study window, so that the dust shone in the light.  Frodo looked longingly at the sunshine from his seat in the arm-chair. It spoke of woods and fields and rivers, of autumn mushrooms in the fields, apples in sore need of scrumping, and blackberries rich and succulent in the hedges.  

It was good to be able to spend time with Bilbo at Bag End, away from the noise and bustle of Brandy Hall, where there was always something going on, but nobody that entirely belonged to Frodo any more, now his parents were both dead. Frodo always seemed to be in trouble there, lately.  Old cousin Bilbo was very odd, but he could be fun too, even though he was so old - more than ninety, though you’d never think it to look at him. He had lots of interesting stories, and... Bilbo was all on his own, too. But it was such a lovely day, out there where the birds were singing.  It made Bilbo’s study seem suffocatingly warm and dull.

Frodo gave in to the temptation to yawn.

“Am I boring you, young man?” Bilbo demanded, stopping at once.

“You did read this bit to me last time I visited,” Frodo said plaintively. “The Elves waking you up by singing all night isn’t the most exciting part of the story, specially when I’ve heard it three times before.”

“Hmph,” Bilbo said, and looked very severe for a moment.  Frodo wondered if he would be bundled back to Brandy Hall at once for insolence, and wished he had kept his mouth shut.

But Bilbo laughed.  “I suppose it isn’t the best part of the tale.  It must be less fun hearing about the peaceful joyful parts of the story, though, I assure you Frodo, those are the best parts of the story to be in at the time!  Tell you what, we’ll take a hike through the woods tomorrow, and I’ll read you the bit about the goblin attack in the mountains. That’s exciting enough, and I’ve put in the goblin’s song, you haven’t heard that at all yet!  But I can see you’re itching to get outside. Go on then! I’ll expect you back for dinner: I’ve made a big pork pie and a seedy-cake. And there should be some mushrooms down in my lower field, I think. You can collect some of those to go with the pie, but make sure it’s only from my field.  Don’t you go annoying good old Tom Cotton the way you did Farmer Maggot, there’s a good lad.”

“No, Bilbo,” Frodo said dutifully, and slipped hurriedly out of the door, rejoicing.

Bilbo gathered together the papers on his desk, flipped open his inkpot, and dipped his pen.  Then, hearing a sound outside, he laid it down on the blotter with a sigh. Clearly, today was not going to be a day when he got much writing done.  He went to the low window and peered out.

A small tearful wide-eyed face looked up at him from the grass outside the window.  It was one of Hamfast the gardener’s children. Was it little May? No, too young, though she - he was wearing May’s old grubby indeterminate smock.  Samwise, that was the name, almost the youngest of Hamfast’s brood apart from baby Marigold.

“What’s up, little Sam?” he asked.

“You stopped before the Elves sang,” small Sam said, woebegone.

“Were you listening under the window, Samwise?” Bilbo said, trying to sound stern.

Samwise nodded guiltily. “Sorry, Mr Bilbo. I didn’t mean to. I just...  wanted to hear about the Elves.”

“Did you?” Bilbo was surprised.  Neither Hamfast nor Hamfast’s predecessor as gardener, old Holman, had ever shown the least curiosity about anything outside the immediate vicinity of Hobbiton.  Rather the opposite.  Most of Hobbiton was very firmly of the opinion that Dwarves, Wizards, Elves and Men all lived a very long way off, should stay there, and were not worth thinking about. It was ridiculous, really, when there were Elves passing through the Green Hills and the Woody End all the time, Dwarves on the East Road, and Men not far from the borders.  But perhaps little Samwise would be different.

“All right then, Sam.  Come round into the house, and I’ll read you the bit about the Elves singing, and perhaps we’ll just have a slice of seedycake each too, since it’s about time for afternoon tea.  Make sure you wipe your feet in the kitchen, now.”

“I always wipe my feet, Mr Bilbo!” Samwise said very seriously, his small face lighting up in delight, and vanished in the direction of the kitchen door.