For Into Darkness Fell His Star
By Dolores J. Nurss
Chapter 14, Part 155
Sam's Tales and Opinions
Mayor Samwise Gardner
Two letters arrived at once! The post has been all at odds these days,
from one thing and another, I suppose. And what letters--so much dark
news, so many trials! Your mother berates me for ever sending you off
adventuring, and I let her, because I deserve every word. Someone
else's son would not have made so desirable a target--I keep telling
myself that, too late. But then she puts her arms around me when I
stare out to the east and south, as darkness falls, and she helps me
bear what I have done.
Yet I have faith in you, too, son. You have suffered so much, yet you
keep right on working for the good of all concerned! I am more proud of
you than I can tell. But if you need to come home, you go right ahead.
I said it before, and the offer still stands. Nobody here would think
the less of you. If you had anything to prove, you have already done it.
I wager you want news from home, first things first. Ive changed the
family name to match your own, as I hope youll notice. It seemed good,
in a lot of ways. Ill never stop being a gardner, no matter what else I
do. Its where my strength comes from, straight up from the earth, just
like up the roots of an old tree. Thank you for giving me the idea to
go ahead with this.
Still no word on Buttercup. The Klaefields and their kin have closed
ranks on us since word got out that I have met with Ted Sandyman.
(Nobody in Hobbiton knows why, just that I inquired after him, and that
he came all the way to the edge of the Bridge to speak with me.) If she
thinks I mean to make her marry him, I cant blame Buttercup for hiding,
but being Mayor hasent made a fool of me. If laws dident sometimes need
exceptions, we'd leave it all to the books and not put somebody in
charge with a heart.
Your sister Elanor loves her new home, though she still hasent settled
in quite yet. She comes back to Hobbiton often, to gather this and
that--every time she turns around she remembers one more thing she
should have in a household of her own. She and her Mama make soap
together, stitch up pillow-cases, that sort of thing.
Rosie-lass made all of Elanors blankets, and folks came round to admire
the work even in the loom. Embroidery, too, on all of the linens and
curtains for Elanor's hole, and the prettiest tablecloth you ever laid
eyes on. So vivid youd think you could pluck the flowers up off of the
cloth. Ive gotten her some of that fancy yarn, after all, and fine
thread. Shes earned it. Shes starting to make a name for herself, and
people bring her work to do. I dont mind buying good tools for good
The saddest job brought her way was embroidering mourning garb for the
Maggot family. It was a long time coming, but the old patriarch has
finally gone for the Long Journey, following his wife at last, may he
have joy in the reunion. Im not sad for him--he couldent hardly walk
nor see no more, and his breathing hurt him. Yet the few times he got
out onto his porch, he could tell more from the breeze on his face,
about the weather to come, and the condition of the crops it blew
through, and stranger things than that, some say, than most people
could read plain in a book. Im sad for the family, though; he will be
missed. At least before the end he taught his sons and daughters his
queerest stories, the things he never told to anyone before.
It was a good wake, and a good funeral. Do you know Ol Tom and
Goldberry actually showed up! Nobody ever remembers that happening
before, for anybody, but he walked right into the inn, bold as you
please (close to the river and so within his territory) and when Peet
the barkeep challenged him on the grounds that men dont have a place in
the Shire, he ups and says, saucy as you please, "We aint of menkind,
neither one, so pour us a brew and then be done." And everybody felt
it, so nobody argued, though afterwards some of them denied anything
strange happening, saying a tall dwarf came to pay his respects, and
forgetting all about Goldberry, who soon split off with the womenfolk
anyway (and whatever happened there, the ladies wont say.) But after
that everybody dident just toast old Maggots memory, they sang their
tributes, even some as never could hold a tune before, and all of it
made up on the spot. Tom sang the most of all, now merry, now wistful,
now singing strong and true, giving us all a glimpse of just how large
a hobbit our Maggot was in the measure of his soul. His sons sat rapt;
even Bran knew less than half the tale.
But youll want news of your own family, first and foremost. Youll be
proud of your little brother, Pippin. He has taken to teaching younger
children their letters, and none dare stop him, he being my son and
all. I like that! I cant imagine why anybody ever wanted to keep some
folks from learning to read while encouraging others. Yes, it puts
ideas in their heads! We can use more heads with a few ideas rattling
around in them. I dont think that the good of the Shire depends on some
folks being ignorant--I just dont see the sense in that at all.
And your brother Merrys caused a bit of a sensation, visiting his
namesake. He couldent just cross the Buckland Bridge the normal
way--no, he had to go climb up and down the beams and pylons that hold
the thing up, balance-walking like some bird up there, just to show he
could. I shouted myself hoarse ordering him to get down from there, and
he did--on the other shore. I dont know whether to clap for him or clip
The other Merry, the grown one, is crushed, for bad news came to him at
the same time as your post. He supervises as much of Brandybuck
Mercantile as he can, yet he cant have eyes everywhere, nor
double-check every slip of paper that passes through their files. It
seems some folks of his have been making unwise investments in your
Mama's favorite shop, and some have gotten hurt from trusting them. He
will find and crack down on the perpetrators, I assure you.
I am pleased at least to hear that you finally got that plow and ass
that Merry has been going on about all this time. He worked out the
details on the sly, it seems, the day after Legolas got put into a
tree, while you were off riding Treebeard or some such thing, when he
had elf and dwarf together in a mood to collaborate on your behalf, and
then he arranged for the animal with King Eomer a few days later.
Rubys pressing flowers for your next letter. Their still a little too
damp for this one, but she figures we owe you for all of the flowers
you sent us. Speaking of which, Hamfast has been making some
interesting experiments in the garden, mixing new combinations of
flowers and vegetables all growing together that I never thought of.
Ive always done some of that, of course, but hes got new ideas about
what might grow best with what. Well see how it all turns out, but I
think hes onto something.
I like what you said about the glass houses for growing vegetables in
winter. I wont deny that Sauron had the wits to figure out how to get
what he wanted. I just dident see any good in the sort of things he
wanted in the first place. But he was bound to stumble upon something
useful sooner or later when it came to feeding all his slaves.
I loved your drawings and descriptions of the flowering kaktushes, by
the way. I would have gladly endured the terrors of a Mordor rainstorm
to have seen such a flash of hope in my day. But my words fall short of
the mark. Old Master Bilbo should of had a go at it--hed have found the
right thing to say. If Id of starved and thirsted and finally dropped
dead of exhaustion and poison air, Id still of been happy to let my
last sight be of a flower blooming in Mordor. That such a thing could
happen, flowers in Mordor, brings tears to my old eyes.
However, I must take exception to the rest of your adventure that day.
Maybe you ought to listen to Bergil and get yourself shod. If I had
your feet right here for measuring, Id haul you off to Bree and no
arguments, where they have "cobblers" to make boots and such. But your
on your own and have to make your own decisions.
Maybe you do have a point about needing your feet on the ground--what
with everything out there throwing you off balance. It could be that
your right in choosing the risk of giant cats chasing you or deadly
infections getting inside you, as better than losing one more defense
against all of the attacks upon your soul. Even so, your Mama is
tougher than she looks, but this time I really thought she would
faint when she heard about Kitty cornering you underneath that bench!
She turned as white as cream. But you do what you think best.
In regards to Sauron's pact, I am grateful beyond words that you wrote
to your Papa about that. And so, if I still have any authority over you
at all, or if you will listen to me on account of my greater age and
experience, then I would forbid you, indeed beg you, to never touch
Shire brandy again! I am sorry that in my ignorance I sent you any.
Please give it away, or sell it, or pour it into the nearest
snake-hole! In the meantime, your mother has some ideas of her own
about getting the Dark Lord off your back, which I am sure youll have
discovered by now.
Thats a marvel about Hazel! I cant think of anything else she might be
except an entwife. You dont know how hard its been to keep my mouth
shut about her when I meet with Merry or Pippin. But I can see your
reasoning. She has to make her own move. Still, like Buttercup
Klaefield, I am sure she has no idea how much her "privacy" costs.
Which reminds me. Frodo, I have been a patient hobbit, listening to
your adventures among female kind. But please do not, DO NOT let the
Mayor of Seaside rob you of your virtue! Have you protected it so long,
under so many temptations, only to toss it aside for a creature with no
respect for anything you value? Heaven forbid! But I think, from the
tone of your letter, that you see my point by yourself. Shocking, that
she did not know what marriage was, but I shouldent let it surprise me,
after all that Sauron has dragged her people through. Dont get dragged
down with them, but rather help to lift them up.
Two different kinds of brushes with dragon-spells! You poor lad! The
first time your virtue saw you through, but it showed you that you had
the seeds in you for vice--as do we all. The second time I see you let
some of those seeds bloom, and I guess you learned a few things from
that, too. You meant well, but ends never justify the means--only folks
like Sauron live that way, although any of us might fall for the lie
once in awhile. I know I did, lying about May, and now were all caught
up in that. No, I wont condemn you--I only know of one hobbit in
history to face more temptations than you have. Take courage, if you
can, from his example. Hold out as long as you can, and let grace cover
the rest--especially the grace that springs of the love that you have
inspired along the way, come back to you in the friends who stand by
you when you arent yourself.
Thats amazing about Beebee/Elenaril! So--Bergils dreams had more to
them than figurative meaning--yet they werent about a monster after
all! What a horrible fate for a good woman--and how bravely she rose
above it, all the same! I am glad to hear that Bergil came to his
senses where shes concerned, and welcomed her back into his
heart--Pippin was glad to hear of it, too, when I told him all about
it. Hard to believe that Bergils a man all growed up and marrying. One
can see time move on all around oneself, but one sort of expects people
and places that one saw long ago to stay unchanged. I know that makes
no sense, but youll understand when you get to be my age.
Speaking of which, in regards to Bergils batchelor party, maybe that
wasent your finest hour, but your right, it was the proper time and
place for it, and if you have no particular cause to feel proud, you
have no particular cause to feel ashamed, either. At least you did
better than your old man on a similar occasion! Have you ever wondered
why theres no account of Striders bachelor party in the Red Book? Its
because I dont remember it. Now mind you, that is the one and only time
in my whole life that I ever couldent remember a party!
The one thing I do remember--and it sticks out in my mind--is Frodo
(that would be Frodo Baggins) pulling me up out of a cold water bath
and trying to towel me off while I wobbled all around, trying to find a
wall to lean on and winding up settling for his shoulder. I told him he
shouldent do any such thing, he was the master and I the servant, and I
should take care of him, not the other way around. I will remember his
words to my dying day, even if you blasted half my head off (which I
felt like the next morning.) "Oh Sam!" he says to me. "Were a bit
beyond all that master and servant business by now, dont you think?"
Gandalf later said that Id had a perfectly understandable reaction to
everything Id been through, and that he was only surprised I dident go
overboard sooner at the Field of Cormallen. But at that time I was far
too intoxicated on music, most specifically on hearing my praises sung,
which was a new thing for me. I hardly noticed I even had wine at the
table at the Field of Cormallen.
Frodo B. also allowed as to how hed of done as bad as me or worse at
Striders party, if he hadent needed to pull hisself together to take
care of me, because a black mood got hold of him as soon as the
festivities started up, and he had headed straight for the wine. Hed
actually got a head start on me; the only reason the wine hit me faster
than it did him was because I had lost more weight than him, on account
of giving him most of the food and all in Mordor. (I dident know it
then; I had eyes only for how thin hed become. It shocked me when folks
pointed out that Id gotten even worse.)
He also claimed, more than once, that he took care of me because nobody
else seemed up to the task! At which point Gandalf would insist that it
did Frodo B. a world of good to think that and to take charge, and he
could of stepped in at any time, to which Frodo B. always rolled his
eyes and shook his head.
They both kept saying dont be embarrassed, but that was kind of hard to
do the next day at the wedding, when the groom kept stealing anxious
glances my way (at least till Arwen showed up, at which point he could
see nothing else, not if a volcano exploded under Minas Tirith) and
everybody afterwards kept coming up and asking, "Are you all right,
Sam?" Strider later told me that he could of kicked hisself to death
for not seeing how things headed, and he kept thinking, "I brought him
back from the brink of death only to kill him at my party!"
But that wasent the only excitement of the night. Apparently the women
had their own to-do. The elves were not used to human bridal customs,
and so assumed that if drink would flow at the bachelor party, it
should flow at the maiden party, too. Elvish women can handle their
wine some better than human women can, but they hadent thought of that.
Well anyways, the Lady Eowyn seemed all uncomfortable at a hen party, I
heard tell, and so the Lady Galadriel took pity on her, and sought to
put her at ease by chatting up the only topic they had in common,
namely warfare. So, they got to nattering away about swords and shields
and such and the Lady of Dol Amroth never heard such things discussed
between womenfolk, and got all worked up about it, and finally burst
out that shed like to try her hand at a little swordplay, herself, if
they would give her a lesson. Well, they did. I guess good judgment
went out the window some time before. The Lady of Dol Amroth got a
little nick, bawled like a branded calf, got the men all running (who
could still run) to see who was dying, and for the rest of her stay the
Lady sulked, complaining bitterly about how elves and men shouldent
ought to mix. I heard all about it from Merry, who got Eowyns side of
the story straight from the source.
Nor was that the end of it. I heard tell that the elves werent too
happy at our end of the party, neither, though I havent the least
recollection of what the fuss was all about. It seems that Master
Elrond took exception to some sort of dance that did not agree with
elvish custom in some way, though I cant see what harm there could of
been in plain old dancing. Pippin told me Strider swore up one side and
down the other that he had nothing to do with it, his best man came up
with it all by hisself, some Gondor custom that he had clean forgotten
about, and he assured Ol Halfelven that he was as shocked as his
father-in-law. To which, so Im told, Elrond replied that he found it
hard to believe that Faramir of all people could of come up with such a
thing, but Strider answered that with saying that Faramir was full of
You know, Frodo, to this day I still cant get neither Meriadoc nor
Peregrin to tell me what all went on in that dance that I missed. They
will get red in the face and snicker and then change the subject. You
dident mention any dancing in your letter, I notice. Is it really a
Gondor custom, or did Faramir play some kind of prank on the King? A
quiet man he may seem, our Lord Steward, but he and Strider can whip up
a wicked sense of humor between them when they get together, and often
play the most horrendous pranks on each other, all straight-faced.
Not that any of this is going to make its way into our book. Frodo B.
saw fit to leave it out, and Im not the one to gainsay him. You I will
tell anything--you trust me with your secrets and Ive got to return the
favor or it means nothing. (And if you are holding out on me about that
dance, I hope you now feel guilty enough to spill it all to me in your
next letter--I have waited more than thirty years to answer my
Speaking of dances, thats quite a novel custom Elenaril brought in from
Bristlescrub, to wake up the seeds! I spose natural seeds in Mordor
would have to have extra tough hides just to get by. But after reading
about all of that kissing, I really do wonder what went on in that
dance that embarrassed Strider so! I also notice that you got singled
out for it and wonder how you managed that. Dont get singled out
again--I am sure it is not good for you.
But oh, first planting! It always does tug the heart, doesent it, that
whole beginning of the cycle of life. I am glad to hear you had an
especially good one this year. You earned it. But starting out with
fireworks? I never heard the like! And poking holes with sticks to drop
the seeds in? Looks like Meriadoc had the right idea, sending you that
Thats quite an herblore lesson that you got. I wonder if therell be any
plant left in Middle Earth that you dont know about by the time you
reach a ripe old age. And good use for swamp slime? Will wonders never
cease! It seems like more than half of what grows in Mordor must of
been as undercover as your namesake and me in our orc disguises. And
here Sauron thought he had Yavanna and all the rest of them boondoggled!
When I reread the part in your letter about your dream, where you found
me and Frodo B. at death's door and took us in your arms, I cry to read
it. But there might be something to it. I remember an occasion just
like that, when we both fell asleep without a guard, yet woke up safe
and sound, bolstered up by dreams we couldent recall for anything. And
I am sure that the other hobbit must of been Bilbo, may Mandos show him
kindness! More and more I wonder how much he did for us in his dozing
off, and never got the credit for it.
As for your nightmares about faces disappearing into the walls and
hearing a wolf or warg sniffing out your trail, I hope this doesent get
to you too late, but I dont know if you remember that Sauron used to be
Lord of the Werewolves back in ancient history. I think hes using
poppy-slaves up to get strong enough to have another go at you! I hope
you figure this out for yourself before this letter gets to you,
because it wouldent be a nightmare if it dident need special attention.
It worries me, what you say about picking up glimpses from other
peoples minds. It aint natural. Thats all very well for elves and
wizards, but I can see trouble in it for the likes of you and me.
Theres such a thing as too much of anything, and even insights got to
have some limit.
What a clever way you found to get rid of the excess rations that the
Mayor allotted you, by throwing a feast for everyone! You are
absolutely right--you dont need her complicating your life with bribery
and seduction. Shes a tricksy one, all right, although I suppose she
had to be to get by. And yes, I do know what your talking about. But
its sad, that whats a sacred mystery between husband and wife, here in
the Shire, is nothing more to her than one more tool for power. Your
better off out of her clutches. And by gum, I will
pick out a wife out for you, and pack her out on the quickest
southbound horse--not even a pony!--if you dont stop getting into
One thing I have to say, for the record. We do not call Master Bilbo
"Mad Baggins", not in this family! And quite frankly, you dont sound
like one to talk. Maybe thats harsh to say, but Old Master Bilbo taught
me my letters. He changed my life. Everything I am and everything I
have I owe to him, more than my own flesh and blood elders, even. Ill
forgive you, but dont let me hear you say it again.
Putting that aside, I am so glad to hear about the births of all the
twin goats, and that you have turned a corner on this famine business.
Thats your own hard work as much as luck. Luck is seed on a shelf,
waiting to be planted--aint worth a penny if you dont work with it.
Seeds that sit too long wont sprout and dont have nourishment left in
them. But you know that.
Id like to wish Fishenchips the best on his ambitions to become a
healer. It sounds like hes got a remarkable teacher to make him into
one, too. Sad to hear about his troubles adjusting to the hook, but I
suppose thats normal. Frodo Bs missing finger mostly just embarrassed
him, although sometimes it spoiled its grip. But I used to think a lot
about Beren in the old tales, what it must of been like to lose a hand,
and Maedhros before him, too. Amazing, though, what folks can get by
You did good, taking in Leech and looking after him. You did it for his
own sake, I know, but rest assured, things like that come back around.
You know by now that nobodys strong all the time. You take care of
other people when you can and where you can, and sooner or later they
take care of you when you just cant do for yourself. I'm all for
independence and standing on your own two feet, whenever possible, but
the fact is, its not always possible, and thats why were social
critters. Someone comes along like Sauron saying hes complete unto
hisself, but he couldent of gotten along far without lots and lots of
slaves. The closest I ever heard of anybody that didn't need others was
Beorn, and even he had plenty of animal friends to help him get by. Im
just saying this because I know your probably feeling embarrassed about
needing healed twice in a row. I want to point out to you that you give
as good as you get, and itill all work out in the end.
So sad about Captain Watersheen and his crew! But Im glad Leech got out
all right. I dont suppose theres any safe jobs in that country, but
sailings got to be the worst for danger. You be careful around the
shoreline yourself, for you were in on the same dragon-kill that got
the Captain into trouble. I know theres nearly nothing on earth so
beguiling as a sea, but keep your distance all the same.
Just for the record, you ought to know that I have discovered
something. If you writ in one kind of ink, and blot it out with
another, an enterprising fellow can still read the original, by holding
a candle to the front while his wife holds a mirror to the back. But
that is neither here nor there, as gold will pass your way so long as
you and all my kin remain unharmed and free to write to me. The
unsavory habits of folks outside the Shire are none of my business.
So I do know of certain disappointments you have faced. Now, I can keep
a secret better than most, or Gandalf wouldn't have sent me on the road
with your namesake. (I am sure, now, that he knew all about our
conspiracy, way back then, and threatened to turn me into a toad just
to test my secret-keeping.) Still, just between you and me and the
rider who bears this, I keep reading about a certain messenger, by
candle and mirror, and as a father Ive got to speak up or swallow my
tongue. Mind you, I dont intend to get on the bad side of Mattie
Heathertoes or Greenbanks or whatever she wants to call herself. But
Ive a bone to pick with her, and a few words wont stand between her and
what she wants the most.
Mattie, I know your reading this. Youve had your choice--my son or your
gum. You chose. Now get out of his life, if you care for him at all. I
know you love him some--Ive seen that in what he writes about you. So I
expect you want good for him even if you cant give him all your heart.
You know Im in no position to make you do anything, but Im asking you
as a father, and as somebody who loves him more than you will ever
know. Im begging to the part of you thats still a hobbit, that still
feels something and remembers better ways. Leave him be. Dont drag him
down with you. I will go on being generous with you. I will do anything
you want. Just please care enough to leave him be.
Son, I know she left you all hurt and confused. You see the good in
her, all tangled up and dying, and you want to free her and to save
her, but sometimes you just plain cant. In Ithilien, I watched men in
battle, and I wanted to save every man I saw who fell to arrows or to
blades, but I couldent run out of shelter to do it, not without
abandoning my master and my mission, and even without that
responsibility Id of been a tomfool to think I could of done anything
except get myself killed. You cant always save everybody. Not even a
hobbit in trouble.
You have just got to hope that she can find healing somewhere else. You
know how to save crops, and how to save folks from starvation, and that
is no small thing. Do the saving that your good at. Even Master Elrond,
who had fought in many a battle and knew more than almost anybody ever
in Middle Earth, knew he could not carry the ring to Mordor, that he
had to do his part in something else, which was to maintain a safe
harbor for the free people to strategize and recuperate and things like
that, and in the end fight off a siege to keep on doing it. We all need
to know our jobs, and do them, to the best of our ability. Mattie is
not your job, and I dont see that changing any time soon.
Yet never give up hope, my son, my beautiful son, you just hold on
there, no matter how hard it gets. Because if you cant do a job,
somebody else can. And there are powers in this world that work day and
night to finagle the right people into the right positions to do what
needs done. Believe in it! We dont do anything alone. Help comes when
its least expected.
You have a wonderful example right there with Beebee, or Elenaril, I
should say. Whod of thought it? Some little orphan girl grows up in the
streets, despised, finds work with herbs and such as a camp-follower
(yes, I do know what some of them do for money with soldiers far from
home. Ive been to war and Im not blind. But Ive also seen theres always
some others like Beebee, all the same.) And shes still mostly despised,
and learns to hang her head, though she doesent do anything wrong. Then
she finds work in a disaster like Lord Lossarnachs mission, and gets
hurt so horribly, and you think thats the end to a sorry life. But an
eagle dies to save her, and people find her, and finish up her
education for her, and she becomes a regular godsend, healing wherever
she goes. And lo and behold, she turns out to have kings blood and
special powers! And she gets back the love she thought shed never have
again, and all goes better and better for her, and all her hardships
conspired to put her in the right place at the right time to save all
sorts of people who need her! Now what does that tell you about how
this universe is run?
Take care of yourself, dear boy. Were all scared for you and we sing
for you, but we trust youll come back to us all in one piece, even if
you carry home a few scars here and there.