7. Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be
'Let me borrow your knife a minute, Frodo?' Merry Gamgee said absently. He had found a rough spot on one wheel of the little cart he'd carved for Tolman, and as he'd absent-mindedly set his own knife down at home, it wasn't in his pocket at the moment.
Frodo took his pocketknife from his pocket, extending it to his brother. 'Don't forget where that came from, now,' he warned good-naturedly.
'How could I?' Merry laughed, taking the knife and pointing to the initials on the handle. 'F. G. Hmmmm, wonder who that could be? Frodo Gardener, perhaps?'
'That's why he's got all those hobbits hiring him, you know,' Pippin-lad contributed. He imitated a gaffer's drawl. ' 'at's young Gardner, y'know, son of Sam as what made the Shire grow green again after them scurrilous ruffians did their worst!' Merry nearly cut himself as he, Pippin and Tolman doubled over laughing.
'Careful with that!' Frodo said hastily. 'Perhaps you're over young to be trusted with a knife.' Merry gave him a pained look, and he laughed in his turn.
'It's getting so they know the name "Gardner" better than "Gamgee", Pippin said. 'Perhaps we all ought to change our names.'
'What, to drum up business, or honour Dad?' Merry asked, carefully shaving away at the little wheel while Tolman watched closely.
'Whatever would Grandad say?' Pippin said.
'Gardner or Greenhand, he'd be proud,' Frodo answered, getting up from the wall. 'Any name that meant his sprouts were following in his footsteps would give him something cheery to grumble about.' He looked at the angle of the Sun as she slipped from her high perch and began her descent. 'Well, my dinner's settling nicely, and old Mr Proudfoot will be expecting me. See you at suppertime!'
He received a chorus of farewell from his brothers, and whistling jauntily, bundle of tools over his shoulder, he set off down the lane.
'Try that,' Merry said, handing the little cart to Tolman. The youngest Gamgee solemnly ran the cart on the lane while Merry watched critically. 'No,' Merry said slowly, getting down on his hands and knees for a closer observance. 'That wheel is still not true. Dunno why it's giving so much trouble!'
'Maybe you ought to carve a new one,' Pippin said helpfully.
Merry shook his head stubbornly. 'No, I ought to be able to make this one work,' he said stubbornly. Picking up the cart again, he took off the offending wheel and the good one, and holding them together, carefully shaped the culprit to match the other.
'That ought to do it,' Pippin said approvingly. 'Don't know why you didn't match them sooner.'
'Because I was in haste,' Merry said, 'and thought I could do it by guess.'
'Work haste'd is work wasted,' Tolman quipped, and his older brothers laughed.
'That's right, Tom,' Merry said, putting down Frodo's knife to fasten both wheels to the cart again. 'There you go, good as any you'll see at the market.'
'Better try it out to make sure,' Pippin warned.
'Let us do that,' Merry laughed, and he got down on hands and knees in the lane again to watch Tolman draw the cart along.
'That's just prime, Merry!' Pippin exclaimed, bending low himself to see. 'You've a real way with a knife!'
'Faramir taught me,' Merry said absently.
'Wonder why we don't see him anymore?' Pippin said.
'I dunno. His da keeps him busy, I s'pose.'
'Does he have to weed the garden, and milk the cow, and feed the chickens?' Tolman asked.
'Something like that,' Merry laughed. 'Come on, Tom, let us get some string from Mum and yoke your little ox to the cart, then you'll be all ready for market.' He picked up the little ox he'd carved previously, while Tolman got his cart and Pippin sauntered along behind them, hands in his pockets, whistling.
Some time later, a hobbit coming up the lane saw the knife, abandoned atop the wall, and stopped. He picked it up, running his hand appreciatively along the fine blade. 'Be a shame to lose this,' he said to himself. 'I wonder how I'll get it back to its owner?'
He wiped the blade and folded it back into its resting place, weighing the knife in his hand. 'A right fine tool,' he said, racking his brains to think where he might have seen such a knife before. Turning it over in his hands, he came across the scratched initials. 'F.G.' he said to himself with a scowl. 'I know who that is, one as thinks too highly of himself, for certain.'
He thought things over. The right thing to do would be to go to Bag End, hat in hand, turn over the knife, receive thanks from its owner, but he didn't fancy kowtowing to the likes of those Gamgees. Besides, there was an idea growing in the back of his head. Yes, it might work. He might be able to use this knife to take its owner down a peg or two, after all.
O, he'd return the knife to Frodo, all right. For certain, he would...
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.