1. Sam's Tale
I sit before the fire in Bag End, wiggling my toes as I sip an excellent autumn cider and reflect, as I often do this time of year, upon my good fortune. All the years of taking care of this place, the landscaping, gardening, pulling all those stinking weeds and dreaming of the day Bag End would be mine - and so it is.
Sure, I had seen the Ring. Bilbo had flashed it about often enough. The old fool. I saw it slowly taking its toll on his mind and knew one day he would succumb. That would only leave Frodo in my way. I thought long and hard on how to turn the situation to my advantage. Frodo and I had been on friendly enough terms but to him I would always be nothing but the hired help. As it turned out, I needn't have wasted my time with schemes. The situation presented itself.
I was lurking outside the window when Gandalf and Frodo were having their little talk. Curse my luck for trying to get a view as well, for as I crept closer I stumbled over the gardenias and fell against the wall with a thud. Gandalf was on me in an instant, suspicious, but I allayed his fears with a few well chosen words and he decided to take me into his confidence.
After that, things fell rather neatly into place now that I consider it. I was to follow Frodo to Bree where we would meet with Gandalf, my assumption being he would then relieve Frodo of the Ring. Of course that whole thing went south and we ended up in Rivendell surrounded by bloody Elves. How I hate those uppity bastards. And as if hiding my intelligence behind the expected patois with Frodo wasn't galling enough, I ended up having to play the fool for weeks while we traveled with the Fellowship. I was never so glad to see the backs of a group of people in my life as I was when Frodo decided to go it alone. Even Merry and Pippin were getting on my nerves with their Tookish idiocy. Never more than a couple of layabouts back home, they were positively useless on the journey.
But eventually Frodo and I were alone at last with a clear goal and a mentally unbalanced guide. Easy enough to steer Frodo, who by then was slowly going a bit daft himself, in the right direction. Get that ring to Mt. Doom, toss it, and then I would have him all to myself on the journey back. Gollum would be easy to get rid of. He was treacherous, but even he had to sleep. I've always been able to get by on very little. My mind has never let me rest, so full of plots, plans, and schemes it is.
I'll not say I was completely prepared for how things turned out. All that walking made my feet ache and keeping Frodo moving was exhausting. My brief possession of the Ring almost blinded me to my goal, but I kept my eye on the prize. It wasn't the world I wanted, just the comfortable life of an extremely wealthy Hobbit. Then there was Frodo electing to keep the Ring at the end and putting it on. I would never have gotten a clear shot at him then if not for Gollum.
All Orodruin broke loose after that and we might not have made it if Gandalf had not arrived when he did. Thank goodness I was not so weak from my ordeal that I forgot myself and spoke as I do now. No need to hide anymore, not since everyone has sailed. Merry and Pippin were in for a surprise, of course, but there is not much they can do now that I'm the richest man in the Shire. They even supported me for Mayor. They know how to play politics as well as I.
Ah, bless me if it's not Lobelia Sackville-Baggins coming to check on me. She's not much of a maid but it is worth the little inconveniences to see her try to hide her loathing as she brings me my cider or slippers.
Life at Bag End is good indeed.