The Adventures
Frodo Gardner

Volume VIII
From the Ashes a Fire Shall be Woken
By Dolores J. Nurss

Chapter 35, OUTTAKE

I really signed off on the last chapter too soon, trying to make the deadline for the MEFA awards. I cannot add this now to the final chapter until after the contest ends in 2010. So consider this a cutting-room floor extra scene, destined to eventually find its way into the extended version director's cut.:
Buddy helped himself to some potato salad. �I still say that adventure�s what done the Gaffer in. The curse might have led him to it, but he had his wits before, and didn�t have �em after.�
Ban set his mug down firmly. �And still came out the better hobbit for it, I say. Lads, you�re all missing the big picture. �Don�tee remember what Mordor was, before? I heard the old tales�make your blood run cold! You don�t get out of hearing tales when you�ve got Gardners in the family.�
Boffo shuddered. �I�ve heard some of them stories, myself. But it ain�t like that no more.�
�That�s right, Boffo!� Ban exclaimed. �And our master�s the reason why.� He stood up, lifting his mug. �So here�s a toast to old Frodo Gardner...�
Dorry interrupted, �You can�t raise a toast in vinagree swizzle. You need beer at least.�
�I�ll toast him in whatever I want, Dorry! And vinagree swizzle�s good enough for the Gaffer, so it�s right and proper, so to speak.�
Boffo said, �He�s right at that. And I heard tell that it isn�t so much that the Gaffer don�t like beer, it�s that he likes it too much.�
Buddy nodded. �The adventure changed him that way. Made it dangerous for him.�
�As I was saying,� Ban persisted, now putting one foot up on his stool to give himself more presence. �Here�s to Frodo Gardner. He went down into the pit of evil itself to do his duty there. It drove him mad, it drove him to drink, it left him covered with scars�but by the stars, lad, he changed it more than it changed him! He brought that dead land back to life with his own two hands and a heartful of love. And if he came back with a head full of scars, inside more than out, he came by his war-wounds honorably. I am proud to call him my cousin, and I�m proud to take his pay!�
�Hear, hear!� the others said, and tended to their food. For awhile chewing took the place of conversation, and the workers stared off into the fields as they ate.


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