26. Rainy Day
The weather in February was plain nasty. It was cold, but not quite cold enough for snow – more's the pity, for it rained and rained till you wondered how the sky could hold so much water. I said as much to Frodo one grey afternoon when I carried his tea into the study.
He looked out the window wearily. "Apparently it can't hold it, Rosie, as it's spilling out all over the Shire! Sam should be happy, at any rate; this has to be good for the garden."
I yanked the curtain cord and shut out the miserable scene. "No, even Sam isn't happy, Mr. Frodo. He can't do anything out of doors, and he's tired of reading, he says. Sam, tired of reading! I never thought I'd see the day! He's sitting by the fire whittling on sticks of kindling till you'd think there was a market for wood splinters. I'd wade down to see Marigold, just to get away for awhile, but he won't let me out the door in my 'delicate condition'!"
Frodo chuckled, and I grinned – his laugh was the most 'catching' thing I ever knew, worse than the measles.
"Time for the Master of Bag End to take a hand, would you say? Ask him to step in here, Rosie; I'll keep him occupied."
The next thing I knew, they were tearing the place apart, searching for something. They dug through the big storage closet at the end of passage, pulling out ancient sleds and ice skates, five or six extra dining room chairs, and a broken umbrella. Whatever it was they were after wasn't in there, and they took the time to arrange everything neatly as they put it back.
"Leave those sleds near the front," Mr. Frodo said. "There'll be someone to use them in a few more years."
"Remember when you used to take me out on that big hill the other side of the woods, Mr. Frodo? Back when I was too little to go so far alone, you used to take me. We had some good runs on these here sleds!"
"We did indeed. Well, just be patient a bit longer, Sam, and you'll be taking your children there. Some things never change."
They went down cellar after that, and I heard dull thumps and bangs as they shoved things around down there. Whatever they were looking for must be fairly big, I thought, for they didn't bother with any of the small cupboards and cubbyholes that were tucked away everywhere in Bag End. I was getting curious what it might be, but when I ventured downstairs they sent me right back up.
"It'll be a surprise for you, do we find it," Sam explained, "and if we don't, you won't be disappointed. Go on now, lass, sew another baby shirt or something, and leave us to it!"
At least he sounded cheerful again; they both did, in fact. Just so they found their smiles, this dreary day, I didn't much care what else they did or didn't find. I took his advice and settled down to my sewing, taking a minute to check the chicken simmering over the fire. A good day for spicy creamed chicken, to take the chill out of our bones.
Fosco wouldn't have liked it, I thought. He didn't care for spicy food. I wondered if Fos had found some new friends at the Hall school. I wondered if he ever thought about us. He wouldn't forget Mr. Frodo, that was certain! I wondered if we'd ever see him again.
There was a shout of triumph from the cellar and, a few minutes later, heavy footsteps on the stairs.
"Close your eyes, Rosie!" Sam called, and they thumped into the kitchen, Mr. Frodo panting from exertion.
"Mr. Frodo, sit down and rest – you'll make yourself sick!" I exclaimed, still keeping my eyes shut.
"I'm fine, Rose – keep your eyes closed, now! Get some rags, Sam, and we'll wipe this off a bit before she sees it."
"Rags and linseed oil, I'd say. Can't hardly see the wood for all the dust caked on it – must've been down there a hundred years, Mr. Frodo."
"Rather more than that, actually. It was Bilbo's, you know." There was the scent of linseed oil and the sound of rubbing.
"There's a broken spot here, I'm afraid. Have a look, Sam; do you think you can repair it?"
"Hmm. Aye, I think so. Lucky it's one of the plain bits – I couldn't never match this carving! If any of that's damaged, we'll have to get in the fellow who made that bird you gave me to fix it."
"How much longer, Sam?" I asked. "I need to check on the chicken, make sure it don't scorch."
"Now, keep your patience, lass! I'll take care of the chicken. Don't want you to see this till it's looking nice."
It seemed a long time, but finally Frodo said, "All right, Rose, you can look now."
It was the most beautiful cradle I had ever seen. The wood had a strong grain of a deep tone that looked almost green, and it was carved all over with flowing vines and birds and blossoms. The hood was arched so tall, it came nearly to my shoulders, and the inside so wide you could've laid two babies in it, side by side. The only plain part of the whole lovely thing was the rockers, and one of them was broken off on one side.
"I can carve a new rocker, easy enough," Sam said. "How do you like it, Rosie?"
I shook my head, dumbstruck. "I don't know what to say – it's just gorgeous! Mr. Frodo, this was Mr. Bilbo's? Do you really want us to use it?"
"Yes, it was Bilbo's, and yes, I want you to use it! Unless you have a family cradle that you'd rather use? I hadn't thought of that."
I hadn't either, but come to think of it, there was our family cradle, stored up attic at the farm. It wasn't anything like as nice as this, but I was the first one married, of our family, and could be my mother was counting on having the first grandchild sleep in it. That might be a problem.
Sam must have read my face. "It'd be better to have two cradles, Rosie, since they're offered to us. We'll keep this big one here in the kitchen, so you'll have the babe near you while you work. But your family cradle, I'd like to put that in our bedroom for the nights. I know most folk just take the babe to bed with them, but it worries me a little, that does. Might overlay him in my sleep. I'd rest easier having him in his own little bed."
"And of course, it might be twins – definitely a good idea to have two cradles." Mr. Frodo was keeping a straight face, but his eyes danced and I threw him a saucy look.
"Or even triplets, Mr. Frodo, had you thought of that? Then you'll have to help us walk them, nights, when they're teething and can't sleep. Always a good idea to have an extra set of arms around!"
He just smiled. "I'm counting on taking my turn to walk the babe, even if there's only the one," he said, and he didn't sound like he was joking.
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.