6. Frodo Did a-Courting Go
Singing hey, my laddie, laddie ho!
That's for me to know and none to say,
Singing ho, my laddie hey!
Take a look at him, and I am betting
That come next Spring there will be a wedding,
Come and pluck the goose for the feather bedding,
Singing hey, my laddie ho!
--Courting Song (from the "Shire Songbook")
[A/N: To hear the music to this song, click Courting Song
Please note that this music is protected by copyright.]
Frodo Gamgee took another careful look in the glass in the entryway, adjusting his collar that would not lie straight, for some reason, and running his hand over his hair to smooth down that stubborn curl that had a life of its own.
Merry wandered by, humming a catchy little tune, and Frodo found himself humming along, until Pippin started to sing.
"O where are you going this fine day?" and Frodo recognised the old courting song and broke off his humming.
'That's for me to know and you to wonder,' he answered.
'No!' Pippin laughed, 'that's not right! You're supposed to say, "That's for me to know and none to say..."
Merry broke in, 'Singing ho, my laddie hey!'
Together, the two brothers warbled, 'Take a look at him, and I am betting that come next Spring there will be a wedding, Come and pluck the goose for the feather bedding, Singing hey, my laddie ho!'
From the kitchen, Mistress Rose was heard starting the song over again. 'O where are you going this fine day, singing hey, my laddie, laddie ho!' Other voices joined from various parts of Bag End, and even Frodo was drawn into the song, in the joy of singing one melody against another.
In the kitchen, Goldi bent over the onions she was chopping and brushed a tear from her eye. Surely her mother would think it the fault of the onions, and not the state of her heart. She moved her mouth as if joining in the song, but no sound came from her lips. Thankfully the rest of the family made up for her lack, and no one noticed that one member was not contributing her share of harmony.
The Gamgees finished with a flourish, and Mayor Samwise was heard to say from the back door, 'Now there's a fine greeting to be coming home to! Who's getting married?'
'Frodo!' Merry and Pippin chorused.
'Hush!' Frodo said.
'Look, he's turning red,' Merry said to his cohort in cheek.
Frodo made a fierce face in the glass and the two scampered off, but not before Pippin said over his shoulder, 'Don't be making that face at the Burrows' this evening or Daisy'll find someone else to walk out with!'
'Ah,' Sam said, poking his head in the front entryway. 'So you're walking out with Daisy this evening? We'll miss you at supper.'
'He won't miss us!' Merry chortled from the corridor and Frodo grinned with a shake of his head.
'Just wait,' Sam said. 'They'll hear it from Robin and Tolman when their own turn comes.' Frodo could only hope.
Samwise fixed his eldest son with a serious look. 'Come walk in the garden with me,' he said. 'I'd like your opinion on how we ought to lay out the vegetable plantings this year.'
Away from the hole and its listening ears, Samwise bent down, drawing lines in the dirt as they talked about where to plant the potatoes, and whether the peas would do better in another spot, and all the other things that are of import when your reputation hangs upon your harvest.
Straightening up, the Mayor said, 'How is your business coming?'
'Old Master Proudfoot just hired me to do his garden on Tuesdays and Fridays,' Frodo answered. 'I'm full up to here, and more folk are asking than I have time.'
'Good,' Sam nodded approvingly. 'If you make a name for yourself, soon enough you'll be able to name your own price.' He drew the stick idly along the ground and studied the resulting line. 'Rus Burrows might even make you a partner, and in that case you'll never want for coins. He's the best gardener hereabouts, since my old gaffer died.' Frodo smiled to himself. In his opinion, his dad took the honours.
'I'm putting coins away, Dad,' was all he said. 'It'll be quite a nice little pile, come next year.'
'Next year,' Sam said quietly. 'You'll be of age. Is that what you're thinking? Will you be earning enough to keep a wife and family?'
'More than enough, I think,' Frodo said. 'With what I've put away the past few years, I ought to be able to afford a nice little hole by next Spring, and still have something left over.'
Sam was silent. He pulled his pipe out of his pocket, filled it, tamped it, lighted it and drew on it thoughtfully. Finally, he said, 'You children are growing up. It was only to be expected.'
There was no answer to this, so Frodo took out his own pipe and proceeded to smoke it as they stood in silence, looking over the promise of the waiting garden bed.
Sam took his pipe from his mouth and regarded it solemnly. 'Will you be moving to the new territory? Lots of opportunity there. You can own your own land, make something of yourself.'
Frodo looked at him quizzically. 'You're not telling me to go?' he said.
Sam shook his head. 'It would be to your advantage,' he said. 'Land around here is all settled up, not much for you here.'
'If Mum could hear you talk...' Frodo began.
Sam chuckled. 'She'd put me on water rations for sure,' he said. 'But she's busy cooking supper, and now's as good a time as any to talk.'
Frodo drew on his pipe, blew a smoke ring, watched it dissipate. 'You know, Dad,' he said, 'I know it would be to my advantage to go out to the Westmarch, but it is not my desire. My heart is here, in the hole where I was born, the country around Hobbiton and Bywater.'
Sam relaxed subtly. 'That's good to hear,' he said. 'It'll be yours someday, you know.'
'Mine?' Frodo asked, confused.
Sam took his pipe out of his mouth again, gestured with it to Bag End and its surroundings. 'Yours,' he said. 'You're oldest now, with Elanor married. Her place is with her husband. Had she not married, it would have been hers, of course, but now...' He put his pipe back in his mouth and smoked in silence.
At a loss, Frodo said, 'I... thank you.'
'Don't thank me,' Sam said quietly. 'Thank the one you were named for.' Knocking his pipe out against a stone birdbath, he went into Bag End again, leaving Frodo alone in the garden with his thoughts.
Hearing his mother call the younger girls to come and set the table, he bestirred himself. Nearly suppertime! If he did not hurry, he would be late to supper at the Burrows', and that would not do. No, not 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.