1 Sam's Tale

Reviews coveted and appreciated!

"I asks, yes, I asks. And it that isn't nice enough, I begs!"

Author: Nilramiel@aol.com, aka RosieCotton

Please do not copy or post this story to another website, or use it for your own purposes, without my permission and/or without the introductory comments. Feel free to link away!

Acknowledgements: The characters, setting, and much of the dialog belong to J.R.R. Tolkien, and I give full credit to him. This story focuses on the relationship of Samwise Gamgee and Rose Cotton, and it is how I imagine the events following the Hobbits' return to the Shire following the War of the Ring and King Aragorn's coronation and marriage. If you have read the book, The Return of the King, you will find the events familiar. I have tried to "fill in the gaps," regarding Sam's courtship to Rose Cotton. Sam is my favorite character in Tolkien's work, and this is written with the deepest respect for both Tolkien and the noble Samwise.

Rating: The first several chapters are rated G; however, eventually I may include a sweet romantic chapter, or more than one, involving Sam and his Rose. For those readers with more discerning tastes, I shall give you fair warning of this.

Genre: General/Romance

Setting: The Shire, year 1419

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1.1 Chapter 1: "I've come back"

1.2 Rated: G

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Sam kicked at the sides of the pony, urging him to move faster.

"Come 'on, lad," urged Sam, "I know yer weary, but we must get to the Cottons' farm, fast as may be!" He slapped the pony's neck encouragingly.

The pony went a little faster. Sam had a way with animals, especially ponies, and this one had carried him a long way already. They were fast friends. Sam didn't realize it, but if anyone he knew saw him, galloping like the wind through Hobbiton dressed in bright mail and girt with sword, they did not recognize him.

"Not much further now," said Sam, and reaching the center of the village, he turned and galloped down the lane south towards Cotton's. He had not gone far when he heard Merry blow a blast on the horn of Rohan. Although he had been expecting it, the horn's call was so compelling that Sam almost wheeled around and rode back. His pony reared and neighed.

'On, lad, on!" cried Sam, gaining control of the beast, "We'll be going back soon enough!"

He rode on, hearing the blast of horns, and a great din of voices, and the slamming of doors, as Hobbiton suddenly awoke. Before he reached the end of the lane, he practically galloped into Farmer Cotton and three of his sons. They were running down the road with axes in their hands.

"Nay! It's not one of them ruffians," Sam heard the farmer say, "It's a hobbit by the size of it, but all dressed up queer. Hey! Who are you? And what's all this to-do?"

Sam reined his pony, coming to a sudden stop a few feet from the four men.

"It's Sam," he panted, "Sam Gamgee. I've come back."

Farmer Cotton was amazed. After looking closely at Sam, and taking in his strange gear, he said "We feared you were dead, lad!"

Sam quickly explained the situation. Farmer Cotton and his sons were eager to join Frodo and the others as they went to battle against the ruffians.

"What about Mrs. Cotton and Rosie?" asked Sam, "It isn't safe for them to be left all alone."

"My Nibs is with them. But you can go and help him if you have a mind," said Farmer Cotton with a grin. He liked Sam, and he could read his daughter well enough. He knew that she would want to see him.

As the farmer and his sons ran toward the village, Sam hesitated. He longed to see if Rosie and her mother were safe, for more reason than one. But his deep loyalty for Frodo, and the ringing of the horns, pulled him in the other direction.

He did not hesitate long. Samwise had learned many things on his long journey with Frodo to Mordor, and one of them was that indecision is often worse than the wrong one. He continued down the lane towards the Cotton farm, and before the pony could reach a full gallop, he came to the door.

Standing by the large round door were Mrs. Cotton and Rosie. Nibs stood guard in front of them with a hayfork. He brandished it towards Sam as the pony approached.

"It's me!" shouted Sam as he trotted up, "Sam Gamgee! So don't try prodding me, Nibs. Anyway, I've got a mail shirt on, and you'd find it hard to skewer me."

Jumping down from the pony, he went up the steps. Rosie and her mother were staring at him in astonishment. Although he did not fully realize it, Samwise Gamgee was not the same hobbit who had left the Shire the previous year. He was fitter, and dressed in fine clothes, and a light was in his eyes that the women had not seen before.

"Good evening, Mrs. Cotton!" Sam said, "and Hullo Rosie!"

"Hullo, Sam!" said Rosie, her eyes wide. "Where've you been? They said you were dead, but I've been expecting you since Spring. You haven't hurried, have you?"

Sam felt suddenly shy. After all, his sweet hobbit heart had not changed, despite the other changes in him. "Perhaps not," he said, abashed, 'But I'm hurrying now! We're setting about the ruffians, and I've got to get back to Mr. Frodo. But I thought I'd have a look and see how Mrs. Cotton was keeping, and you, Rosie."

'We're keeping nicely, thank you," said Mrs. Cotton, "or should be, if it weren't for these thieving ruffians."

'That's why I've come," said Sam, "I've sent your men on to join Mr. Frodo, and Mr. Merry, and Mr. Pippin, near to town's center."

"Well, be off with you!" said Rosie, "If you've been looking after Mr. Frodo all this while, what d'you want to leave him for, as soon as things get dangerous?"

This was too much for Sam. It needed a week's answer, or none at all. He leapt back into his saddle, and turned his pony. But as he started off, Rosie came running down the steps after him.

"I think you look fine, Sam," Rosie called, "Go on now! But take care of yourself, and come straight back as soon as you have settled the ruffians!"

Sam galloped off down the lane, and Rosie watched him until he was out of sight. She turned and slowly mounted the steps.

"Now what'd I say that for?" Rosie asked her mother, blushing a little although Sam had gone. "I hope I didn't fluster him overmuch. But he did look so fine, mother, in that armor and all. Don't you think so?"

Mrs. Cotton smiled and put her arm over her daughter's shoulders. "Yes, he did. He looked wonderful. Now come on, m'dear. If there's battle brewing, there'll be wounded, and we can help prepare for that."

"I knew he wasn't dead," said Rosie, as they entered the farmhouse, "I knew he was coming back, no matter what some of the others said!"

Rosie's mother put a large kettle of water over the fire, then set Rosie at the kitchen table with a bundle of fabric. "I know, love, though I wondered how you were so sure. Still, I'm awful glad for you. I know how it woulda hurt ye if he hadn't come back."

"Oh, Mother," said Rosie, blushing again, "Is it so obvious to you?"

"It's obvious to everyone, m'dear," laughed Mrs. Cotton, "Except maybe to Sam. He's so humble, things like that just fly past him."

Rosie began to tear the fabric into wide strips. The torn strips they put into the kettle, to boil clean. Mrs. Cotton rummaged in her cabinets, looking for herbs with healing properties.

"Then what shall I do, Mum?" Rosie asked, "I shan't lose him again! I've never cared for anyone like I do Sam."

Mrs. Cotton paused and smiled softly at her daughter. She was well above marrying age, and although Rosie had had suitors, some fine sturdy lads, Mrs. Cotton had never seen her daughter look upon any of them the same way she looked at Hamfast Gamgee's son. When Rosie was very young, Mrs. Cotton had thought it plain jealousy. Her boys and Sam would go tramping all over the Shire, and Rosie would always beg to go with them. Like as not, if they said no, she would still follow, tagging along after them like a small dog. "Go home Rosie!" Young Tom would say, not cruelly, for her brothers were never cruel to her, but firmly, "We are going to the stream to catch lillypuds, and I don't want you near the water!" Rosie would come home, dejected. She wasn't allowed to play near the swift stream, and she was an obedient child, but she longed to be part of their fun. Thinking back, the farmer's wife decided that even then, her Rose was drawn to Samwise, and he to her. He was only a few years older than Rosie, and he treated her as sweetly as if she were one of his many sisters. "Aw, Nick," she had heard him say once, when Mrs. Cotton was in the garden and the boys were playing in the lane just over the fence, "Let Rosie play too. She's strong and fast as any of us, and I like her!" Mrs. Cotton smiled at the memory.

"Mum?" asked Rosie, snapping the farmer's wife from her thoughts, "Have you left me?"

Mrs. Cotton smiled, "No, m'love, just thinking how as to answer your question." She sat down for a moment across from her daughter. "I think, if it were me, I should put it to him direct. Tell him just how you feel. Sam is bright as a new penny, but as I said, he's humble, and honest, and I don't think hints and such would ruffle his senses, if you take my meaning."

"I do," said Rosie, "and I think you're right. When the time's right, I shall tell him, straight as a fencepost, and if he don't feel the same, well, then at least I'll know it."

Mrs. Cotton patted Rosie's hand encouragingly. She had no real doubts about how Sam felt, but she wasn't going to presume anything, not until the fruit was ripe, so to speak.

~TBC~