When the weather got warm, Sam carried a table out in the garden and we ate dinner there. It seemed odd to me at first, eating outside, but Sam said Mr. Frodo spent too much time indoors and it'd be good for him, being out in the open air. And once I got over the strangeness of it, I liked having the flowers blooming all around and the view out over the Party Field while we ate. Sam's mallorn tree was shooting up so fast, seemed like you could almost watch it grow, and the air felt cool and fresh after I'd been leaning over the kitchen fire.
Mr. Frodo generally joined us in the kitchen after dinner. One evening he was sitting by the window reading to us while I washed up and Sam whittled me some clothes pegs.
Suddenly he laid the book down and asked abruptly, "Sam, do you still read?"
Sam looked surprised. "Well, not too much lately, Mr. Frodo. I've been that busy since we got back, I hadn't really thought about it."
"You haven't forgotten, have you? Come read a page or two and let me hear you."
Sam got up obediently and took the book. I remember it was a translation Mr. Bilbo had made, from some old history of the Second Age. Sam stumbled a bit on the strange names, but I thought he did pretty well.
Mr. Frodo didn't. "You're rusty, Sam. I think you should be reading to us in the evenings, till you get back in practice."
Sam looked embarrassed. "All right, Mr. Frodo. Mr. Bilbo would've been right irked, did he hear the hash I made of those names."
I was pretty irked myself, hearing my husband shamed for his reading.
"Well, Mr. Frodo, if Sam is going to read to us, will you be whittling my clothes pegs?"
Sam gave me a horrified look, being so pert with the master, but I was too provoked to care. Mr. Frodo didn't take me up, though.
"I'll see you get your pegs, Rose," he said quietly. "And I think you ought to learn to read as well."
"Me? Read? For pity's sake, why?"
I couldn't have been more surprised, if he told me I ought to learn to handle a sword! Many a hobbit lad never learned to read, and for a lass to know her letters was almost unheard of. The Tooks, now, maybe they taught their girls to read, but certain sure the Cottons didn't.
"It won't be much use for me to write the story of the War, if nobody reads it. I hope you'll read it to your children, when you have them, and they'll read it to their children, and so on. Otherwise it will all be forgotten, and I'm afraid the Shire will go back to sleep again. We might not be so lucky next time."
It seemed like that was always his great fear, that the danger would come again and the Shire would be swept away. I didn't see how being able to read would be of any help, and I said so.
"If hobbits know the dangers they lived through in the past, it may steady them, help them believe they can survive, if trouble comes again. And if they remember the lies and stratagems that evil powers have used in the past, there's hope that they’ll recognize evil if it comes again, and have the will to resist. It all comes down to remembering, Rose. Things that aren't written down are too easily forgot."
It reminded me of the night he'd been talking the same way to me and Marigold, and how I'd been grieved, thinking what it had cost him to defeat the Dark Lord. I guess it was that, more than really being convinced by what he said, that made me agree.
"All right, Mr. Frodo. I'll learn, if you want me to."
"Thank you, Rose. Will you teach her, Sam, or would you rather I did?"
"I guess I remember my letters well enough to teach my own wife to read! Thank you all the same, Mr. Frodo, but I'll teach her, seeing you're so set on it."
I decided Sam hadn't taken the slur on his reading as tamely as I'd thought. He wasn't one to brag, but I knew he'd always taken a lot of satisfaction in being lettered, and knowing all the old tales Mr. Bilbo had taught him. Why, back before they went away he even wrote a few poems of his own, and he used to read them to me sometimes.
When we were alone in our room that night, I asked him about those poems.
"Do you still have them, Sam? I'd rather read them than those history books of Mr. Frodo's, since I'm going to learn."
"I expect they went missing when them ruffians dug up Bagshot Row, Rosie. Never mind – you learn to read, and I'll write some new poems just for you. I think maybe Mr. Frodo has the right of this after all. I can see some good in it already, you reading."
"If you have to be away, you can write to me, Sam."
"And you can answer," he said, and pulled me into his arms. "I hope I won't have to be away so much, though, after this. I think the clearing up is about under control now, and I can stay home and get on with the garden. And other things."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.