4. Hodgie Podgie, Pudding and Pie
She gasped and put up her hands to pull the makeshift blindfold away, but they held firm. 'It's not funny,' she said stoutly. 'Leave off!'
'C'mon,' the voice whined. 'You're not playing the game properly. You're supposed to guess, you know!'
'Hodge Sandyman, if you don't leave hold of me this instant, I'll... I'll...' Goldilocks could not think of a threat dire enough.
The hands were taken away as the youth laughed. 'You'll set your big brother on me? The one as stood firm against those ruffians? Shivered under his cloak, I heard tell,' he ended mockingly.
'You'd shiver too,' Goldi said stoutly. 'And besides, he made up for it in the shooting that came later.'
'O yes,' Hodge jeered, 'it's easy to shoot from cover, when none can see you.' He eyed her speculatively. 'You know,' he said, 'You're very pretty when your blood is up.'
'You have some nerve!' she hissed. 'First you insult my brother and then you try to spread the butter thick...' She took up her basket and started to march away, but he caught her hand and pulled her back.
'I like a little honey with my butter,' he said. 'How about it?'
'I don't know what you're talking about,' Goldi said, trying to pull her hand away.
'You're pretty free with your kisses when it's a son of a Took you're with,' Hodge said nastily.
'You -- you --' Goldi was at a total loss for words.
'How about it?' Hodge repeated. 'Why not spare a little of that honey for the miller's son?' Goldi tried to swing the basket against him, but he grabbed her other hand, forcing her to drop the basket, spilling the cress over the ground.
'Stop it!' she shouted.
'Just one little kiss,' Hodge teased. 'If it's good enough for the son of the Thain, it's good enough for me...' He pulled her closer as she tried to wrest her wrists from his grip.
Suddenly Hodge was knocked sprawling by a furious Frodo Gamgee. 'You -- you beast!' the angry brother said. 'What do you think you were doing? I ought to...'
'Your sister's pretty free with her kisses,' the other spat back. 'She even dropped one in passing on the son of the Thain, and all he came for was to give a message to my dad. Yes, pretty free with those kisses, your sister is. I just thought I'd get one for myself while they're still fresh.'
Goldi was weeping in mingled rage and shame as Frodo turned to her. 'You kissed Faramir?' he asked.
'I was just telling him goodbye,' she managed to say. He met her eyes intently, then turned to Hodge, still on the ground.
'You stay away from my sisters from now on, if you know what's good for you,' he snapped. 'Come on, Goldi, we're going home.' He picked up the basket, ignoring the scattered watercress, took his sister's hand in an iron grip, and led her up the Hill.
Hodge stared after them, anger snapping in his own eyes. 'You may think you're so high and mighty, you Gamgees, but I'll show you...' he muttered to himself.
'Hodge!' he heard his father shout. 'Hodge, what are you doing lolling about on the ground when there's work to be done? You had better get to it before I take my strap to you!'
'I'm coming, Dad!' he shouted back, and got up, dusting himself off. 'I'll show you, Frodo Gamgee,' he said again, and picked up his hammer, to go back to the repairs on the mill wheel that had been interrupted while he watched the little scene between the Mayor's daughter and the Thain's son.
'You kissed Faramir Took?' Rose asked. Goldi did not answer, but kept her head down. Rose put a gentle finger under her daughter's chin, lifting until Goldi had to meet her eyes. 'Tell me, love, did you kiss him?'
'I only gave him a peck on the cheek, same's I'd give any of my brothers,' Goldi said hotly. She flashed a glare at Frodo. 'That's all I did.'
'Hodge seemed to think it was more,' Frodo said.
'You'd believe one of those Sandyman grubs over your own sister?' Goldi shot back.
'I'm only telling what I saw and heard,' Frodo said. 'Hodge seemed to think you were free with your kisses. Goldi, you do not want to have a name for that; you know what kind of lads will come around should they hear such talk.'
'It was one kiss,' Goldi said, fighting back more tears. 'On the cheek,' she added. 'Nothing more.'
'Even that is too much,' Rose said sternly. 'You know better than that, lass. Faramir may be a nice lad, but he's not your brother, nor even a cousin. He's the son of the Thain, and it's not your place to be dropping kisses in his way.'
'Yes'm,' Goldi whispered, turning her face away. There was no justice in the world, no, none at all.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.