15. Letters to the King
Letters to the King
To my beloved Lord Strider,
You have certainly set me a pretty puzzle. Each time I speak to someone it adds more information to what I knew before, and makes all increasingly complicated.
I am learning that the Frodo Baggins you knew is one (or more) in a series of Frodo Bagginses, each far different from the rest. There is the happy child who was lost the day his parents drowned in the Brandywine River. There is the scholar Frodo Baggins whom all remember with awe for his prodigious hunger for knowledge that appears as great as the typical Hobbit hunger for food. There is the Frodo Baggins who desired only to please others, often at the cost of his own desires, and the Frodo Baggins who resented that self-sacrifice he felt impelled to make. There is the rebellious Frodo Baggins who used his knowledge of character to organize the raids on the farms, smokehouses, dairies, and glass houses of the district they call the Marish. There is the rebellious but repentant Frodo Baggins who stole a hoe in order to redeem himself for stealing food from the farms, smoke-houses, dairies, and glass houses of the district they call the Marish, and who did this in defiance of his family's desire he remain "safe" at home where the whispering in his heart would hopefully not be stressed. There is the Frodo Baggins who worshipped his cousin Bilbo Baggins and desired to be with him above all others, and the Frodo Baggins who half believed the gossip which indicated that Bilbo was mad and lived in squalor. There is the Frodo Baggins who gesticulated eloquently as he told stories to the children, stories of delight and awe and grandeur, most of which he learned from his cousin Bilbo; and the Frodo Baggins returned from war who rarely gestured but told stories of simple things and gentleness and loss and finding. There is the gentle Frodo Baggins who was repelled to be required to wear a sword and who swore he was incompetent at using one anyway, and the Frodo Baggins who saw injustice and learned to fell it with a single, well-placed blow so efficiently that the one who taught him to place that blow made his swear to strike only when it was merited--a vow it appears he kept faithfully.
I am finding the people of the Shire failed to understand Frodo Baggins when he returned from his adventure, but neither did he attempt to make such understanding easier for them to accomplish. I am finding everywhere a sense of mourning for the Frodo Baggins they knew from the days in Bag End before the Ring came to him, who laughed and flirted and even loved, briefly, before the Ring appears to have burnt that capacity from him. From a few I find grief for the Frodo they knew after his return, although most admit they saw him only briefly during that period. Mostly they saw an unapproachable shell, reminiscent of the fading youth who was beginning to despair of life before his cousin Bilbo exercised his right to take Frodo as his ward and, in the end, his heir. I start study after study, and then find that before I can complete the details the Ring gets in the way. I am coming to hate that Ring--to hate it with a passion beyond the measure of any I have ever known before. What Sauron wrought in this one's life through that Ring cannot begin to be told.
The Ring and his failing heart each took its toll of Frodo Baggins, and have left a measure of grief for him in this place I find almost overwhelming at times. As you told me in Minas Anor, the amount of loyalty and love he garnered just by being alive is incalculable; the amount of grief they feel for him is equally immeasurable.
I see now why Gimli stated one cannot picture Frodo without Sam--as different as they are to outward seeming, they appear to have been two halves of the same whole, and although he is very happy with his wife and children and home, there is a great empty place in the soul of Samwise Gamgee that will not be filled until he can be reunited with his other half and share the delight he has known through all of these with him. And I suspect that as fulfilled as he may be by the beauty of Elvenhome that Frodo may be experiencing, he, too, holds an empty spot which will not be filled until Samwise brings his experiences to fill it. Sam will live his life as fully as possible only to offer it, once it is complete, to the Master who cannot, through the offices of the Ring, experience such fulfillment for himself.
I stand in awe of both of them.
I still cannot decide on which design to use for the memorial. I fill page after page after page, and continue to find all lacking somehow.
I must go. Tomorrow we head for the Great Smial, and I will see Pippin's home of the heart. Then I will stop at Budgeford to meet the Conspirator you never met, whose heroism here in the Shire was as great as that of the others outside it. After that I will go on to Bag End, and hopefully find the details I need to complete the image I have of Frodo Baggins.
In my work over the past eighteen years I have found myself on the trails of many interesting individuals, but never have I met one as fascinating and as hard to catch hold of than Frodo Baggins, not even the mysterious Lord Captain Thorongil.
Until I can return in the Spring, I remain your faithful servant,
Ruvemir son of Mardil
To our Lord King, Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar Envinyatar Telcontar, King of Arnor and Gondor
From Paladin Took, Thain of the Shire
Our Lord King, I send you greetings from the Shire.
I wish to thank you for sending to us the sculptor Ruvemir son of Mardil. I will tell you that when we heard that you wished us to entertain this Man we were uncertain what to expect, nor were we all certain that we wished to support the project. But we have found ourselves not only now warming to the idea of a monument built to Frodo, Samwise, Merry and Pippin, but eager to see it accomplished. The courtesy shown by both Master Ruvemir and Mistress Miriel. as well as that shown by their ward Ririon, has been exemplary; their skills inspiring. Even Master Samwise has found himself not only accepting your wish to see the memorial made, but is now desirous of it coming to pass, and his suspicions appear allayed.
I do not know you, sire, save by the love and honor shown forth toward you by my son, my nephew, my cousin, Master Samwise, and now these three. But with the example these show, I am coming to respect you deeply. All I hear of your caring for the least of your subjects, your service in healing as well as in leading the forces of our lands against those who would enslave or destroy us all, your wisdom, justice, mercy, and honor shown appropriately to all who come before you, and your generosity toward those who need it inspire me to honor you as they do.
I am noting that as we seek to make these outsiders welcome to the Shire, our own people are developing a greater respect for that beyond our own borders and for our place in the world--and this extends to myself as well as to others. I have reason to believe we will be better subjects as we continue to learn more of the outer world.
There is one special thanks I wish to tender to you at this time--I offer you thanks for the gift of my son. I have loved him deeply since before his birth, but over the last few years ere he came under your warding he had become increasingly a disappointment to me for his impetuous nature, his frequently thoughtless actions, his ability to become distracted by anything that passed through his awareness, and what I saw as careless attitudes. I failed to recognize his compassion toward others, the intelligence indicated by his inquisitiveness, his capacity for living joyfully, and his deep sense of loyalty and responsibility. Not only did your healing skills and gifts send back to us the son we nearly lost, but your example of nobility has brought to the fore all his positive gifts. His love for you, Frodo, and Merry and his respect for Master Samwise has made of him a Hobbit himself worthy of honor, far greater honor than I have shown him at times.
And one last benefit I have noted--I find I am finding Frodo once more. My young cousin was one all loved when he was young, and no one understood his gradual withdrawal from society or his sudden disappearance, much less the worse changes we found in him on his return. In what I am learning of him as we answer the questions posed to us by Master Ruvemir and as we listen to one another, I have learned that he was still there, and that he had become more and more extraordinary as time passed. And I now appreciate more fully not only his self-effacement but what he was willing to sacrifice for all of Middle Earth, and how fully he deserved the grace offered him by the Powers.
We are doing our best to fulfill your desires for the development of a proper monument to Frodo's memory, and will continue to do so. And if there is any other office we of the Shire can offer you, you have only to ask.
And so I again offer myself and my people to your service in whatever manner you may find you need.
Your humble servant,
Thain of the Shire
Written at Brandy Hall, Buckland, the Shire
Dearest Lord Strider,
Mr. Frodo wouldn't have liked it none, I know, and I certainly wasn't keen on it when we was in Gondor. But now as I've seen your Master Ruvemir and his skill both with drawing sticks and with stone (he's done a small statue of you that's you to the life), and as I've seen he wishes to make it real like and not stiff and formal, I no longer object to a memorial of Frodo, and will even allow myself to be pictured as you wish.
All of us are impressed with Master Ruvemir's skill and his courtesy and his respect toward us as his subjects. And that he speaks of us with both respect and humility has done much to earn him even more respect here. He seems even to have convinced old Butterbur that yes, the Strider the Ranger as he knew is the King, and that, as you know, would take a powerful bit of persuading.
Rosie and the children are well, and we're looking forward to the birth of the third in just a few months. Elanor still looks at the door of her Uncle Frodo's room and the study door as if waiting for him to come forth and sweep her up and give her his Elvish greeting and his kiss. And I find I do the same.
We're planning the building of a glass house at the healers' herb garden at the Three Farthings Stone. The herbs seem to do extraordinary well, and the athelas and other herbs as Lord Elrond sent are flourishing. And a building is being built there not only as a shelter for them as are working on the gardens, but to house many of the notes those who help in it wish to share with one another on how each uses each herb. Budgie Smallfoot is very much active in all this, and is organizing a guild of healers for the entire Shire. Another gift from Mr. Frodo as is making it better for all, and I hope as it one day benefits those as are outside the Shire as it benefits those of us inside as well.
Give the love of Rosie and myself to the Lady Arwen, and remember, both of you, that we hold you in deepest regard.
With much love,
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