Well, here is the end at last. (I hate to see it end!) I can't leave Frodo and the rest of them alone, however, and a sequel to "Beyond the Havens" is almost done. It's titled "Long Home of Mortals" and I hope to get it up next week.
Thanks to all of you who have followed this long story and reviewed it – you are very much appreciated!
Chapter 33: Seasons
in which Rosie has the answer
It was weeks later that he told Sam about his plan to visit Bilbo. Sam took it better than I expected. The book was finished at last, and I guess Sam thought the master needed a holiday.
He rode away with Mr. Frodo that last morning, to start him on his way to Rivendell. He was a bit downcast to think of Frodo being away all winter, but he was happy too, to be going off with him again, even for just a couple of weeks. And I was glad for him to have that pleasure, and put out of my mind what must come next spring, if Frodo didn't return. After all, I comforted myself, he may think better of it. Bag End is such a happy place. Even among the Elves, he may get homesick and decide to come back to us.
I hoped for that, but it shook me when he came to say goodbye. Sam was out on the road holding their ponies, and I was standing by the gate with Elanor in my arms waving bye-bye. Mr. Frodo came down the steps behind me and wrapped his arms around me, the only time he ever did anything like that, and whispered in my ear.
"Take care of him, Rosie! You're such a comforting lass. Take care of him for me."
Two weeks later Sam came back, just as it was getting dark. He came in so quiet, I wouldn't have known he was there if I hadn't been looking toward the door, and I never saw a sadder face by any graveside.
"Well, I'm back," he said, and sat down in his usual chair like he meant to never get up again. It struck fear to my heart, the look on his face.
Elanor was sitting in her high chair banging her spoon on the tray; she'd just learned to hold onto her spoon, not that she could feed herself yet. She saw her Da and she set to laughing and warbling like a whole circus had rolled into the room, and Sam looked over at her and a little life, just a little, came back in his eyes. I scooped her up quick and set her on his lap, and I knelt down on the floor and wrapped my arms around the two of them.
"What is it, Sam? What happened?"
He buried his face in Elanor's curls and his voice was that muffled, I couldn't hardly hear him.
"He wasn't going to Rivendell. He was going to the Havens. He's gone over the Sea, Rosie, over the Sea forever. We'll never see him no more, never again."
He held on to Elanor with one arm and reached out the other to gather me in, and we clung together that way, the baby between us, crying in each other's arms for a long time. But Elanor got restless after a while and started fussing. It don't matter how your heart is breaking, there's always going to be someone around who wants supper.
So life went on, even without Frodo. I guess it was easier on me than Sam. I got to sit down and cuddle Elanor, feed her, every few hours, and that was a comfort to me. Still, I kept thinking I heard a step in the passage and turning to say a word to Mr. Frodo, and then remembering he was gone. There was many a day I cried as I sat rocking the baby. It was wrong, all wrong. He suffered so much to save the Shire, and then he couldn't stay and enjoy it.
He left Bag End to us; oh, he was always good to us, Mr. Frodo was! It was a mercy, for I don't know what I would have done with Sam, if we'd had to go looking for a new home right then. As it was, I feared for him. He was like a sleepwalker, going through the motions, doing his work, speaking when he had to, but all the time he wasn't really there.
One evening I went looking for him, thinking it was time we got off to bed, seeing we were always up early with the baby. I found him in Mr. Frodo's old room, kneeling by the side of the bed with his head down. I thought at first he'd fallen asleep that way, and I came in quiet like, hating to wake him yet knowing he'd have the backache if he slept like that. But then he moaned, and I saw he had that old mithril shirt of Mr. Frodo's in his arms. He heard me and lifted his head, and his face was all marked from that mail shirt pressed up against his skin, and wet from crying.
"Samwise, my dear, my dear!" I sat down on the bed and pulled him to me, and he laid his head on my lap. Even his hair was wet, from tears or sweat, I don't know which. He leaned against me, shivering, and I stroked his hair.
"Oh Sam, darling, you can't go on like this, you have to let him go. He's not dead, you know. He's safe, and healing from all his wounds, even if he's far away. He was suffering here, you know he was."
"I know." Sam shifted and wrapped his arms around me, still kneeling on the floor. "Rosie lass, I didn't tell you everything."
Now it's coming, I thought. There had to be more to it, something troubling him beyond just missing Mr. Frodo. I held my breath, hoping I could bear whatever was coming.
"I was a Ring-bearer too, Rosie. Only for a little while, but I was. And before he left, Mr. Frodo said my time would come someday, to go to the Havens. And Rosie, I want to go, I do! I don't know how I can bear it, else. But I don't want to leave you, nor the baby. I can't leave you, not again! Oh Rosie, I don't know how to go on, I'm that torn."
His face was so tragic, and I loved him so much. And it was so simple, so easy, if I could only make him see.
"Sam Gamgee, I'm surprised at you, and you a gardener. A person would think you'd never followed the seasons, from spring to summer, and summer to fall."
He looked at me like he thought I'd lost my mind, his head tipped to one side.
"Sam, didn't Mr. Frodo say you'd be Mayor someday?"
"You'll be Mayor, for as long as you want to be. That's what he said. And Frodo-lad will come, and Rosie-lass, and maybe other children, he said. And someday, someday, you'll go to the Havens, because you were a Ring-bearer, too. And you'll see him again.
"But not now, Sam. This is your season for the Shire, and for me. Later on will be your season to go after Mr. Frodo. You don't have to choose, Sam, you just have to follow the seasons, one after the other."
He drew my face down to his and kissed me, and we never did get out of Mr. Frodo's room that night.
That was back last fall, and I noticed this morning that the daffodils are coming up by the front door. I think he's all right now. And I think maybe Mr. Frodo was right, about all those children.