A Birthday Present Gone Wrong

"I'm back Rosie-lass!"

"You!" Just in time Sam managed to duck, as the flowerpot went sailing over his head and crashed against the doorpost, sending soil and bits of broken earthenware flying into all directions.

Thunderstruck he looked at Rose. There she stood, fuming with rage, her tear-smeared face as red as a ripe tomato. What the heck was wrong with her? Surely she couldn't be that upset because he had a mug of punch with Pippin, Mr Peregrin Took that was.

"Rose, my dear...", he tried again.

"I'll give you "dear"!" The vase from the sideboard followed the flowerpot.

"For goodness sake, Rose! Please calm down, I know I promised not to drink before lunchtime, but Mr Pippin bought me a drink, you see. It was only one mug of punch. Don't be so angry."

"Don't be so angry? She yelled. "Don't be so angry? You lecherous heel, you...", Rose was struggling for words.

Sam stared flabbergasted. Had she really just called him...? "But what have I done?" he exclaimed.

"What have you done?" Her eyes were daggers. "Didn't you put your dirty fingers around Lavender Grubb's waist and what's worse, even fumbled her tits? In broad daylight, in front of the Green Dragon?" Sam blinked. "You should be ashamed of yourself, messing around with that slut!"

New tears were streaming down her flustered cheeks, her hands clenching the hem of her apron. Sam felt utterly helpless. "But I haven't...", he stammered.

"Mother saw you!" she howled. "She told me. Do you have the face to tell me she's a liar?"

"No, but..." "No buts! How dare you come home!"

Sam gulped. Why was his head swimming like that? What should he do? He wanted to comfort Rosie, wanted to take her in his arms, but he wasn't sure if it was wise to do so, that is, he was quite sure it was not wise at all. He anxiously eyed the big water jug on the kitchen table. How could he explain everything without sending even more items aflying? He shook his head like a wet dog.

" But Rose," he finally managed, wondering why his voice sounded somewhat slurred, "I was just taking measurements."

"Taking what?" Rosie looked at him as if he had grown a second head.

"Well, it's your birthday soon," Sam stammered, " and Mr Pippin got that lovely brocade from Gondor , you remember? The one you liked so much when Diamond showed it to you last time we were at the Smials."

Sam tried to meet Rosie's eyes but lowered his head again , seeing the smouldering wrath in them."Well," he continued lamely, " so I asked Pippin if Diamond could spare some for a bodice for you, as a birthday present, if you get my meaning."

"No, I definitely don't. How does that explain your groping Lavender?"

"You see, Diamond agreed to cut and sew a bodice for you, but we weren't sure about the size and I couldn't quite ask you... would have spoilt the surprise, wouldn't it?"

Rose opened her mouth, but said nothing. Well, that was at least an improvement, Sam thought. "Diamond told me to bring her one of your bodices, so she could take your measurements, but I just didn't manage without you noticing. So time was running short and when I met Pippin today at the market he told me, Diamond needed the measurements. So what was I to do? You see, we had some punch at the Dragon and then Pippin said , he thought Lavender to be about your size. So he suggested we should ask her for one of her bodices for Diamond to take measurements for your birthday present. Well, I wasn't quite sure she really was your size, thought her breasts weren't as full as yours, and her waist didn't seem as slim, if you get my meaning."

Still Rosie did not interrupt him, so Sam plodded on. "Well, I said so, and then Pippin, Mr Peregrin Took that is, said I should check it. How shall I check it, said I. Well, with your hands, said he, won't you feel the difference if there is any? You see Mr Peregrin Took told me to..."

"Mr Peregrin Took told you!" Rosie was besides herself. "And you fool of a Gamgee do it! And if he tells you to paint your willy green, you'll do it! Have you drowned your wits in that darned punch?"

Sam was taken aback. Never before had he seen his Rosie that furious, never before had she used such kind of language in front of him, let alone against him! He gathered as much dignity as he could muster, straightened himself with the help of the doorpost and announced gravely: "Rosie, you know I won't do anything like that. I had just one mug of punch – that recipe Mr Pippin got from Dol Amroth in the South of Gondor, you remember? Just one mug! I told Mr Peregrin that I'd promised you to help you wring out the laundry and I turned down the offer of a second one, even though he himself had quite a few more. And he didn't press me to drink more, just suggested, if I didn't want to drink any more punch, I should just eat the fruit for company's sake."

"You ate the fruit of that Dol Amroth punch?" Rose started. "Sam, you idiot, That's dried figs soaked in brandy for at least two days before going into that punch! It's thrice as potent as the rest of the stuff!" Rose shook her head in disbelief. Sam stared at her, his mouth dropping open. Then, her eyes bristling, she grabbed the iron frying pan and made for the door. "That Took is in for quite a different kind of punch," she growled, "and you fool of a husband had better try and get sober!"

With a bang the door shut behind her. "Fool of a husband," Sam muttered. Well, as long as it was back to "husband " he didn't mind the "fool". He'd never been too proud of his intellectual abilities.

Gingerly he sat down at the big kitchen table. He rested his swimming head on his left hand , pouring himself a mug of water from the heavy jug with the other. What a blessing Rosie had not thrown that at him. "Soaked in brandy..." That was exactly what he felt like at the moment. He sighed deeply and sipped the cool water, trying to clear his befuddled head. What a ninny he had been! Pippin should really have thrown himself into that well in Moria as Gandalf had suggested.

And as he reached for the jug again to pour himself a second mug a smile broadened on Sam's face. By now Rosie should have reached the Dragon and Pippin might well wish himself to have done so!