Sam's Voice

It was Sam's voice that greeted Frodo first thing in the morning.  Sometimes, for a brief instant, Frodo could well believe that everything was the way it had always been, because Sam's cheerfulness told nothing of the scars and nightmares of their quest.

"Good morning, sir," Sam would say as he pulled the curtains back. "Will you be wanting your breakfast here or in the kitchen? Either's fine, mind, but the cherry tree's a-blooming and you can see it from the kitchen window. It's a lovely sight, sir, and just the thing to make a morning brighter."

Frodo would smile and think how like Sam it was to know that his master was more often in no mood to get up, let alone have breakfast, and it was also like Sam to know just the right words to say to lift that gloomy lassitude and get Frodo to face the day.

Of course Frodo would come and have his breakfast by the warmth of fire in the kitchen despite the twinges of protest that his weary body voiced at being dragged out of bed and into another hazy, dull and exhausting day. He would sit in the armchair near the window, wrapped in a quilt and gazing out, letting Sam's voice wash over him. Sam would talk about his plan for the day, about the recent gossip of the neighborhood and about the progress of his beloved trees, and for a while the roar of fire of Sammath Naur was dulled in Frodo's ears, the raucous cackle of the orcs of the Tower of Cirith Ungol muted, the shriek of the Ringwraiths dimmed. He would listen to Sam, asking pertinent questions and making comments, wishing Sam could stay and talk all day long. But of course Sam had a lot of things to tend to.

There was the job of overseeing the restoration of Bag End. Sam had made sure that the master bedroom, the bathroom adjacent to it, the study, as well as the main kitchen were repaired first, so that Frodo could move in as soon as he wished to. The rest of the smial, the numerous bedrooms, parlor, dining-rooms, pantries, cellars and store-rooms were dealt with in stages afterward. At any time during the day Frodo could hear the steady scraping, hammering, sawing, and other usual noises of smial renovation in progress.

When his mood was at its darkest, such ordinary sounds could take him back to the coldest pits of his memories. Some reminded him of the Tower of Cirith Ungol. Other noises inexplicably brought back the memory of the march he was forced to take among the orcs. He could feel a tight band of ache closing around his head and for all that he loved Bag End and wished to see it restored, he wanted to scream and tell the craftshobbits to leave and never to return. But then he heard Sam chatting and laughing with the working hobbits and he reminded himself of that heartbroken look in Sam's face when first they inspected the damage done by the ruffians to the smial they both loved. Ensuring that Bag End was restored to its former luxury and beauty was as important to Sam as seeing the Shire healed. More than that, there was the strange niggling feeling that someday Bag End would be more important for Sam than for Frodo himself. So Frodo chose to ignore the headache and concentrated on Sam's voice, the voice of home, the voice that ended the unspeakable din of the Tower of Cirith Ungol.

When it was time for Frodo to do his duties as Deputy Mayor, he would often ask Sam to sit in the study with him. Hobbits would arrive with news to report, disputes to settle and problems to solve, and Frodo would listen and judge and decide. From time to time Frodo would ask for Sam's opinion, and some of his guests—usually the older, wealthier ones—would gape as though they were witnessing some shocking, indecent acts. Frodo ignored their reaction, and Sam's obvious discomfiture, and it was in these morning meetings that Sam learned more of his master's poise, tact and quiet wisdom which later helped in no small measure when Will Whitfoot resigned from office and a new mayor was to be elected.

What Sam did not know was that his presence in the room gave Frodo comfort and on the days when he could not attend the meetings, Frodo found it difficult to maintain composure. He remembered the taste of glory brought by the silken whispers of the Ring; power and command over all Middle-earth. Sitting there in his study minding petty quarrels over borders and right-of-way made him think of that promise and in his mind the Ring's voice rang in a shrill, ridiculing laughter. A suffocating mist of depression would float around him and his head would start throbbing. But when Sam came and they spoke together, Frodo would remember that Sam carried the Ring and paid no heed to Its lure. Sam's easy chatter reminded Frodo that the Ring could be destroyed, had been destroyed. What was real was the Shire and its freedom, embodied in Sam's every word and gesture.

Frodo rarely traveled out of Hobbiton even in his days of Deputy Mayor. When he did go out, usually to Michel Delving or to Tuckborough and Buckland to consult with the Thain and the Master, Sam went with him. They rode along familiar roads together, Frodo letting Sam do most of the talking. Trips were taxing on Frodo and when he was exhausted his left shoulder ached terribly. Having Sam with him helped Frodo forget some of the demands of traveling. Sam would sing something along the way and Frodo would remember the Trollshaw, when Sam's song broke through the mist of pain and dread that gripped him since Weathertop. He remembered he was laughing at the end of Sam's Troll song; his first laughter since the Morgul blade pierced his shoulder.

On the days that he had no duties to carry out, Frodo would just sit in his study and write. Now and again he got lost in the dreary landscapes of memory and they seemed more real to him than the bookshelves, the desk, and the fire in the room. He would panic and at times could not even breathe. But sometimes he could hear Sam in the garden: the snip-snip of his shears, the creak of his wheelbarrow. Occasionally he caught Sam muttering at some stubborn weeds that outgrew his precious flowers, or saying things like "There now, how's that? Better? More room for your roots, and more space for your leaves," or "Now, where should I put you? You'll want a bit more sunshine as you grow bigger, I'm thinking, so how about here then?"

Frodo would smile as he listened to Sam and everything would come back to him: the paper before him (sometimes with a splotch of ink where his quill had lingered when memory took over); his cup of tea; the fresh flowers, which Sam changed everyday, in the vase near the window. Then he could continue working, secure in the feeling that the horror was over and he was back at home, safe in the Shire. But there were times when he wondered what would happen if Sam's voice had not been there when he was mired in the memory of terror.

Frodo could write all day long, forgetting everything in his haste to put on paper all that had happened before that vague end that he felt was fast approaching. But at mealtimes he forced himself to stop and go to the kitchen and prepare something to eat. He could never forget Gorgoroth, where the only other sound he could hear amidst the racket of his own will battling the Ring was Sam's voice urging him to drink, coaxing him to eat, telling him to rest. The only proper way to thank Sam for it was to take care of himself now, however hard it was. He was tired and in pain most of the time that preparing meals was a struggle he would not normally choose to do had he not thought of Sam. But he remembered Sam's voice, and burned toast and leftover soup notwithstanding, eat he did.

Late in the afternoon, after seeing that Frodo had plenty of wood to keep the fires at Bag End burning brightly through the cold spring nights, Sam would take his leave. Frodo would usually invite him in for a cup of tea or a mug of beer, along with some biscuits or cake. They would light their pipes and have a quiet talk in the kitchen or in the study. Sam would tell Frodo everything that happened that day and Frodo would pretend to listen, dreading the heavy silence and the lurking terror that followed after Sam left.

Later, Frodo would have his dinner—simple and perfunctory—in the kitchen, the voices of darkness crowding around him and memories lying heavy on his mind. He would return to his study and write until he could no longer keep his eyes open then stumble to bed hoping that he would get enough rest before the nightmares started. When they did and he woke panting and moaning and sometimes unaware where he was, they left him wide awake for the rest of the night and he had time to think about how empty, how eerily void his world now was. He felt lost, and scared, and he was glad when the sky began to appear lighter because Sam would soon come from Bagshot Row, whistling or humming a song as he went into the garden, ending the oppressive silence and loneliness. He shuddered to think what it would be like if Sam never again came to Bag End and wistfully wondered whether it was possible for Sam to never have to leave at the end of the day. It would be nice to have someone to talk to over supper, thought Frodo. It would be nice to listen to Sam's voice keeping the hated shadows at bay.

So one afternoon, after the last carpenter bid his last farewell—for the renovation had finally been completed—Frodo asked Sam to come to his study for a pipe. They sat in companionable silence for a while, before Frodo took a deep breath and turned to Sam.

"When are you going to move in and join me, Sam?" he asked. But what he truly wanted to say was "I cannot bear to be alone anymore. Stay here will you, Sam, please."

fin