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Marigold's Tale Challenge 37 - A Kingly Discussion by GamgeeFest

Feb. 4th, 2007

10:24 am - A Kingly Discussion by GamgeeFest

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A very pleased Gaffer holds forth at The Ivy Bush...

This is a sequel to my talechallenge36 stories “The Birthday – Minas Tirith” and “The Birthday – Hobbiton”.

Betas: Marigold and Llinos

A Kingly Discussion

Spring, 1425 SR

“Surely you can’t be serious,” said old Farmer Cotton, looking at the letter held reverently in the Gaffer’s hand. “That there letter’s from the King hisself?”

The rest of the crowd at The Ivy Bush were just as skeptical. The fair spring weather had a lot of hobbits out of their homes and enjoying the beer and good company of the inn this Hevensday evening and the Gaffer was quite pleased with the attention he commanded for this most important occasion.

“That it is,” the Gaffer said smugly. “My Sam brought it down and read it to me just this afternoon.”

He held the letter up higher so that everyone could see it. The letter was written on vellum, a fine translucent parchment considered to be quite fancy and valuable. Only the richest hobbits could afford it and even they only used it sparingly for their most important legal contracts. The Gaffer turned the letter around to stare at the strange markings that covered it, the light from the fireplace making the parchment glow from behind with a warm hue. He slid his fingers along the edge of the letter, amazed at its smoothness. To think, the King had written a letter to him.

“Well, let’s see it then,” said the smith.

The Gaffer quickly pulled the letter out of reach. He glared cautiously at the smith, looking down at his coal-stained hands. The other hobbits were no better, their hands covered with hints of their day’s labors despite much scrubbing and washing to make themselves presentable. The Gaffer was not about to relinquish this pretty vellum to just anyone, lest it be stained and ruined by grubby hands.

After a while, he turned the letter back around and held it up but kept it close to himself. Those there that knew their letters stepped closer and leaned forward to analyze the bold and curving letters drawn upon the vellum. It was a fanciful script to their way of thinking.

“Are you sure that ain’t from the Queen?” joked the new miller, a young chap from Overhill named Thatcher and distantly related to the Sandheavers of Nobottle. Thatcher had taken over the mill after the Troubles, when Sandyman was chased for a traitor.

The others laughed but the Gaffer scowled at the hobbit. “It’s from the King,” he repeats. “Sam says as he was raised by the Elves and they’re the ones as taught him his letters. It ain’t no fault of his that he writes funny for a fellow, if you ask me.”

“So what does it say?” asked young Noakes. He didn’t care much for a history lesson on the King, but if they were going to be talking about this letter, then he wanted to know what it said.

The Gaffer allowed Farmer Cotton to take the letter after the farmer thoroughly wiped his hands with a wet towel and dried them on a clean handkerchief. Cotton ran his hands along the smooth almost silk-like parchment, then squinted at the flowery handwriting. He held the letter far enough away so he could read it. He cleared his throat and the inn grew silent. Even the innkeeper stopped wiping the counter to listen.

“To Master Hamfast Gamgee, son of Hobson,” he began.

“How’s he know who your father is?” asked the miller, looking for some proof that the letter wasn’t from a king living far off in the south.

“And why’d he include him in the letter when he’s been long gone these last forty-one years?” added Farmer Goodheart.

“Sam says as the Big Folk ain’t very good at keeping track of their relations,” Gaffer said with a sad shake of his head.

“I’ve heard Captain Merry and Captain Pippin use the same such phrase when talking about the Big Folk they met on their travels,” put in the innkeeper.

“You mean as all they can remember is who their parents are?” asked Cotton.

“Well, they know their siblings too and some of their first cousins I daresay, though Sam did once tell me a story about a pair of siblings that oughtn’t be repeated in polite company,” the Gaffer said, frowning at the half-remembered tale. He scratched his head and shrugged. “That might explain why some of those ruffians as worked for old Pimple weren’t the brightest folk in the world, if you take my meaning.”

His audience shook their heads, their expressions ranging from befuddlement to outright scandal. “They ought to do somewhat about that,” said a serving lass and the others mumbled their agreement.

“Now it ain’t so widespread as all that, I don’t think,” the Gaffer said. “Sam assures me as most folk can at least go back one generation, and the King himself can trace his lineage all the way back to the First Age. That’s some seventy generations.”

Everyone was mightily impressed by this and one lass in the back all but swooned. With such a King in charge, no more such mistakes would ever take place again, they were certain.

Cotton cleared his throat and continued, stumbling now and again on the bigger words. “To Master Hamfast Gamgee, son of Hobson. I am very much obli—obliged to you for your kindness and thoug—thoughtfulness in agreeing to pose in the family portrait that Samwise sent to me in honor of Frodo and Bilbo’s birthday.”

“So that party Sam threw was for the Birthday,” said a hobbit near the back, as though this statement clarified a long-debated topic.

“Tisn’t right, throwing parties for those as are gone,” said Goodheart. “Mr. Frodo was odd for doing it all those years, when he should’ve just celebrated his own birthday and be done with it.”

The Gaffer’s hackles rose at this, as did Cotton’s. “Now see here,” began the Gaffer. “Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo did a lot for folk while they was here and if my Sam sees fit to continue to honor them, then that’s his business and none of yours.”

“And Mr. Frodo did a sight more than what we know about,” Cotton added, “if I understand a’right everything Sam and Rose has told me. I won’t be having any bad speak of Mr. Frodo or my son-in-law while I’m around to hear it. Besides, if the Tooks can go on celebrating the Bullroarer’s triumph over the goblin king every year with their tournaments, then I don’t see no reason why Sam can’t honor his master if he’s a mind to do so.”

“Peace, friends,” said Goodheart, hands raised for mercy. “None of us think any ill of Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo, nor of your Sam, even if he is starting to crack what with him living up there at the Bag End and all.”

“I heard as Bag End was haunted,” said a fellow by the door.

“That were just a prank the young master played on his cousins,” said the Gaffer hotly. “There ain’t no ghost up at Bag End making anyone cracked, and those as go repeating false rumors don’t know their nose from a twig on the ground. Neither of the masters were cracked, and neither is my Sam, and I’ll crack you and anyone else as says so.”

“Here now. There ain’t no harm in being a little cracked, so long as you can keep your sense about you,” said the miller sensibly. “We all love Sam. We’d not have a Shire if it weren’t for him replanting it all. We owe him a great debt and we won’t be forgetting it soon.”

Everyone heartily agreed to this and many raised their mugs in toast and drank to Sam’s health, which appeased Cotton and the Gaffer greatly.

“What else does the letter say, Mr. Cotton?” asked young Noakes. He was getting impatient with all this talk and he had to be leaving soon if he didn’t want an earful from the missus come morning.

Farmer Cotton found his place and read some more. “Thank you also for allowing Pippin to send me a bottle of your homebrew. The beer was most delicious and hardy and every bit as strong as Merry and Pippin warned me. My wife and I were able to enjoy it over many nights.”

“Over many nights?” repeated the smith. “Your brew is hardy enough, Ham, but whoever heard of one little bottle lasting that long? A barrel, to be sure, but a bottle?”

“According to the Captains,” began the innkeeper, “them Big Folk don’t have much in the way of constitution. They reach the bottom of their mugs rather quicker than hobbits, for being so large as they are. Same thing when it comes to eating. Why, they hardly ever take thirds or fourths, and sometimes they don’t even take seconds!”

This announcement was greeted with much head shaking and muttering. The hobbit near the door said, “No wonder them ruffians always left so much food to go to ruin.”

“It’s a wonder they can keep their strength up to get aught done,” said the serving lass. “Do Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin ever say anything on the matter of them boots the Big Folk wear?”

“Sam says it’s a’cause their feet are weak and they blister just by walking on grass,” said the Gaffer.

“And these are the folk as are running things?” said the smith. “No wonder it comes to warring.”

“Now, now, don’t go getting ahead,” said the Gaffer. “My Sam says as the King and his folks are civilized and they’re not like them ruffians that were running things here. They have some sense at least, and some manners.” He indicated the letter as proof.

“Still, Men are Men and they all got the same weaknesses I suppose,” said Thatcher.

“Is that all the letter says then?” young Noakes asked Cotton.

“There’s a little more,” Cotton said and finished reading. “Let me also take this opp—or—opportunity to commend you on raising such a practical and stout-hearted son. If not for Samwise, Frodo would not have been able to complete his Quest and the Darkness would have prevailed. Samwise will be remembered and honored in Gondor and in all free lands for many years to come. With my respect and gratitude, El—Elis—Ilsar—Telc— why but he do got himself an odd name.”

“Sam pronounced it for me, but I can’t rightly recall how it goes,” the Gaffer said. “He did say as it’s an Elvish name, what with him being raised by them and all. Means something like ‘hope strides’ or some such. I reckon that’s why Sam and the Captains call him ‘Strider’.”

“Why was he raised by Elves?” asked Cotton, thinking there must have been better folk than that to raise a child, even if it was just a man-child.

“He was orphaned young and his mother had him hid with the Elves, or something along those lines,” said the Gaffer. “As he was the last King and all, and the Enemy would be a hunting him, she figured he’d be safer there. Though I don’t rightly know how that factors into him wandering about in the wilds later on like he did. Seems to me the best way to stay hid is to stay put, not go off fighting in wars and walking into the dark lands and all. But then, he was raised by Elves. He can’t be expected to be very practical I suppose.”

“And he’s the King?” said the hobbit by the door.

“Big Folk have an odd way of picking their leaders,” said young Noakes, shaking his head. “Lor’ bless us if we ever elect a Mayor as lived with Elves and wandered about in the Blue. But I guess you can’t expect much of folk who can’t keep their relations straight, not to mention can’t hold their liquor or vittles, and bruise their feet just by walking on ‘em.”

The others nodded in agreement and even the Gaffer couldn’t argue with that. He took the letter back from Cotton, folded it reverently and tucked it safely into the inner pocket of his waistcoat.

The King might be peculiar, but the man had saved Sam’s life and was kind enough to take time from his busy day to write the Gaffer a thank you letter. He was an all right fellow, as far as the Gaffer was concerned.

The end.

GF 1/29/07

A/N - The ghost story referred to is from “Pimpernel, Pervinca and Pearl’s Perfectly Plotted Prank” from my “Of Merry and Pippin” series. Sam’s observation of Men feet is from “Foot Notes” from “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hobbits”.


[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
I love how long it took for the hobbits to read and discuss this letter! I have no doubt that such an event would have happened exactly like this, and will be the object of discussion for many weeks. :D
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
I've watched enough movies with my mother's family to know how these sorts of interruptions tend to progress! lol It's a snowball effect and can make something as simple as reading a short letter take all night. Thank goodness Noakes was there to keep everyone on track. :D

The hobbits will be discussing this for a week and a day, or until the next big event of importance comes along. ;)
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC)
The constant interruptions are hilarious and so true to life! This is a fun story, GamgeeFest. I love the details like the Gaffer not wanting all those dirty hands touching the letter and Farmer Cotton having to hold the letter out far enough for him to read.

Especially Well Done!
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you Pearl! The hobbits could have gone on asking questions and interrupting all night, if not for Noakes. lol And I can very much see the Gaffer being so protective of the letter. I wouldn't be surprised if he has it framed and mounted to his parlor wall. :D
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
I adored the letter and all of the questions. My favorite part was:

(“Now it ain’t so widespread as all that, I don’t think,” the Gaffer said. “Sam assures me as most folk can at least go back one generation, and the King himself can trace his lineage all the way back to the First Age. That’s some seventy generations.”

Everyone was mightily impressed by this and one lass in the back all but swooned. With such a King in charge, no more such mistakes would ever take place again, they were certain.)

That would certainly impress hobbits even if nothing else did! : )
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
LOL! Anyone who can claim the ability to trace their lineage so far back must be close to god-like beings to hobbits! You know, if they believed in god-like beings. ;)'

Thanks for reading!
[User Picture]
Date:February 4th, 2007 11:30 pm (UTC)
“Big Folk have an odd way of picking their leaders,” said young Noakes, shaking his head. “Lor’ bless us if we ever elect a Mayor as lived with Elves and wandered about in the Blue. But I guess you can’t expect much of folk who can’t keep their relations straight, not to mention can’t hold their liquor or vittles, and bruise their feet just by walking on ‘em.”

Oh, that had me in stitches! This was a lovely and *very* entertaining tale to read!

[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you Pippinfan! I wonder now what Noakes' reaction was when he learned that Sam had been elected Mayor! Or maybe he conveniently forgot that Sam had 'lived with Elves and wandered about in the Blue'. ;)

No wonder hobbits think us Big Folk are so odd!
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 02:41 am (UTC)
This was so funny and cute! I love how hobbity everyone is, wanting to help the Gaffer read his letter. The continuous interruptions were hilarious, and I loved the Gaffer's "excuses" for this King! (raised by Elves, feet so tender they bruise on grass, LOL!)

And of course, the hobbits would be impressed with being able to go back *seventy* generations in one's family tree, *grin*!

But also, I loved how fierce the Gaffer was in defense of Bilbo, Frodo and his Sam--he might grumble a bit himself about certain things, but he's not going to let anyone else criticize!
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
"Raised by Elves" must be the hobbit equivalent to "raised by wolves". LOL! He can't help it, he was raised by Elves . *grin*

It was a lot of fun figuring out how the hobbits would view Big Folk and the new King, and what they would have pieced together given the few tidbits of information they have gleaned from the Travellers.

The hobbits would crown Aragorn king just for being able to keep track of that many generations, if for nothing else! That alone is enough to make them forgive his many shortcomings. ;)

Gaffer and Cotton know quite a bit more about what happened, and of course Gaffer's always been defensive of Frodo and Bilbo. They'll set anyone straight who dares to bad mouth them or Sam.
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)

::sneaks in to give two thoughts::

This was an awesome story--i loved it a lot for it made me smile amidst the stress. :D

Your brew is hardy enough, Ham, but whoever heard of one little bottle lasting that long? A barrel, to be sure, but a bottle?”

lol! That made me laugh a lot-- i also love how the hobbits of the pub are learning more about Men through that letter more than anything else that they probably had contact with. And that last bit with Aragorn thanking the Gaffer for Sam was the best because obviously Sam honoring is best... i would love to have heard the audience commenting and asking about that bit too though...

Also, GF--i read your newest on SoA about Sam's Conspiracy and enjoyed it a lot as well--i need to send you a proper review of that soon too but just want to tell you that i really enjoyed that as well. :)
[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 08:56 pm (UTC)

Re: ::sneaks in to give two thoughts::

They may not exactly be learning complete truths, but they are learning quite a bit! ;)

At this point in time, the hobbits would have already heard about the Travellers' adventures - or at least some of them - and discussed them to exhaustion. And they had already mentioned that they respect Sam greatly, even if he is a bit cracked. ;) So they would not have had much to say about Sam being honored by the King, except maybe to say that at least the King recognizes a good hobbit when he sees one. :D

And I'm glad you enjoyed my Conspiracy story. We rarely see it from Sam's POV, so it was interesting to see how he would have perceived it.
Date:February 5th, 2007 09:38 am (UTC)

From Elemmírë

Abslutely wonderful, GamgeeFest! Every bit was just perfect from the Gaffer's pride over receiving a thank you letter from the King; to his and Farmer Cotton's defense of Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam; to the scene of the local watering hole and the everyday, average hobbits' musings/opinions on the Big Folk in charge. :D

I especially like the name of 'Thatcher' for a hobbit.

I'm too lazy to go look up dates right now, but I wonder if the Gaffer and Aragorn ever met in person?

[User Picture]
Date:February 5th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)

Re: From Elemmírë

Thank you so much! It's very rare to see the Gaffer so excited about something. Seems Sam had the right of it when he requested that Aragorn send the Gaffer a thank you letter. It was especially fun looking at Big Folk from hobbits' eyes. My, but they must think we are silly things! lol

Aragorn doesn't come to the Shire until 1436 SR, and the Gaffer dies in 1428 SR. So no, they never met. :(
[User Picture]
Date:February 11th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)
Lovely story! I love how the hobbits discuss the so-called 'failings' of the big they never eat more than two helpings, they have to wear boots because they're feet are so tender, they can't remember family very hobbit-like to worry about such things! LOL.
[User Picture]
Date:February 17th, 2007 02:51 am (UTC)
Compared to hobbits, us Big Folk are just a mess. ;) No wonder they doubt our ability to rule things. But of course, none of them would presume to take command of anything more than organizing the next party.

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed the story! :D