Fishing by Kit: A Sam and Pippin Story

by Auntkimby

Author’s Note: Since it is not clear in the trilogy when Sam’s mother Bell passed away, I will employ poetic license and say she has passed away at the time of this story. This story takes place about one year after my story Sam, Can I Try? and it pairs up Sam and Pippin once more in a story that is both sad and sweet- but hopefully not maudlin.


Chapter One: The Plan


“I’m worried about Sam, Uncle.”

Frodo Baggins looked out the window of the smial he shared in Bag End with his “uncle” Bilbo and saw Sam trimming shrubbery at the far end of the lawn.
“How so, lad?” Bilbo asked kindly as he put a kettle on the fire to heat water for their ‘elevenses’.

“It has been nearly six weeks since Bell Gamgee passed away, and still Sam has not…”

“Has not what?” Bilbo prompted him.

Frodo let the curtain drop back into place and sat down at the table and absently fiddled with a napkin.

“He will not talk about it, Uncle. I have not even seen him shed any tears, even at the funeral. He just plunged right back into his work, as if nothing had happened.”
“Everyone grieves in a different way, Frodo-lad,” Bilbo said gently as he took down cups and saucers for their tea.

“But that is what concerns me, Uncle,” Frodo continued. “It’s as if Sam…cannot grieve. I know he is not his usual self and of course I do not expect that he would be, or that he would necessarily confide in me. But it worries me, all the same.”

“Someone does not have to weep or mourn outwardly to prove he is grieving, Frodo. Think of how you were right after your parents died. You withdrew and spoke to no one, and barely ate or slept. I recall seeing very few tears. Sam is dealing with his grief in his own way. Just treat him as you always do, lad. Sam obviously does not want a fuss made, or to speak about it at this time.”

Frodo nodded and accepted the steaming cup of tea Bilbo pushed in his direction.

They ate in silence for a few moments, and then Bilbo brightened.

“You know, Frodo-lad, Meriadoc has not been here for some time.”

Frodo glanced up and said with some surprise, “Well, no he hasn’t, but after what happened last time he was here with the butter-churn…”

Bilbo held up a hand. “Perhaps he could be persuaded to come for a visit, and bring a certain young cousin with him.”

Frodo blinked. “You WANT to bring Pippin for a visit, Uncle?”

Bilbo shook his head patiently. “Frodo, my young hobbit, you know how quickly Sam and Pippin became friends when last he was here. Pippin might be exactly what Sam needs right now.”

Frodo looked up hopefully. “Do you think so? I’d have Pippin move in permanently if it meant seeing Sam cheered up.”

“So would I, lad. But just to be sure such a visit would be welcome, why don’t you go down to Sam and think of some way to casually mention Merry is coming for a visit, and see what he says. Now, not so fast, Frodo! You finish eating your elevenses first.”

Frodo meekly finished his meal and went down to find Sam, who was sitting under a tree having his own midday break.

Sam hastily got to his feet when Frodo approached and nearly spilled the uneaten remains of his meal onto the grass.

“Oh, good morning, Mr. Frodo! I was just takin’ a bit of a break for elevenses, sir…”

“Sam, it’s quite all right. I am glad to see that you are. I just came down here to ask you a special favor.”

“Of course, Mr. Frodo. What would you like me to do?”

“I’d like you to pay some special attention to the pansies in our front yard. Merry is coming for a visit this weekend, and he especially admired those pansies when he was here last. I’d like them to look especially cheery and lovely when he comes.”

As Bilbo and Frodo both had hoped, a brightness that had not been in Sam’s eyes for weeks reappeared. Sam kept his voice casual as he said, ‘Of course, sir, I’d be glad to do that for you. But, Mr. Frodo?”

“Yes, Sam?”

“Might Mr. Merry…be bringing the lad with him?”

YES!

“Well, he hadn’t planned on it…”

Sam’s face fell once more.

“…but that could easily be arranged,” Frodo finished.

Sam nodded and said gravely, “I’m glad of it, sir. I’ll see to those pansies in time for their visit, Mr. Frodo.”

“Thank you, Sam.”

Sam turned back to his work, and Frodo waited until he was out of sight before turning around and throwing his arms up in the air in a gesture of silent exultation.


The next Friday morning, shortly after second breakfast, Sam was down in the vegetable garden trying to finish up some weeding he had not been able to complete the day before. He thought he still had several hours before Mr. Merry and Pippin would arrive, but vowed to tend to the pansies the very next thing.

“Sam!”

Sam turned around in astonishment just before he was hit by a blur with two legs and an unruly mop of sandy brown curls and was knocked onto his back.
Pippin Took straddled his stomach and looked down at him out of sparkling hazel eyes.

“Hullo, Sam! Are you s’prised? We’re here early!”

Sam managed to sit back up, and drew Pippin in for a welcoming hug. “Yes, you did surprise me, Mr. Pippin, without a doubt. And look at you! You’ve grown!”
Actually, it was a bit of a fib. Pippin had not gotten much taller at all; he was still nearly as small and slight as he had been the year before.

Pippin nodded proudly. “I know! One day I will be one of the tallest hobbits in the whole Shire, I know it!”

A shadow fell across them as Merry Brandybuck and Frodo came up to them.

“Hullo, Sam,” Merry greeted him with a smile. “I hope you don’t mind that we showed up early, but Pippin was so anxious to come and see you that I thought he’d swim the river ahead of the ferry to get here.”

Sam got to his feet, as Pippin still held on to him, and shook Merry’s extended hand.

“And I was very sorry to hear about your mother,” Merry added softly. “Please accept my condolences.”

“Thank you, Mr. Merry,” Sam replied quietly.

“So what are we going to do, Sam?” Pippin asked, all business.

“Well, Mr. Pippin…I, ah, I didn’t expect you so soon and I still…”

“…have the rest of the weekend off,” Frodo broke in.

“Mr. Frodo!”

“You heard me, Sam,” Frodo said pleasantly but also in a tone that brooked no argument. “You’re taking the rest of the weekend off. I already spoke to the Gaffer and he thinks it is a splendid idea.”

“Hurrah!” Pippin exclaimed.

Sam stared at Frodo a second, and then down at Pippin, who looked up at him with an expression that could only be described as adoring.

“Well, in that case,” Sam said slowly, “it might be a good time to go do a bit of fishing. Would that be all right, Mr. Merry? Would Mr. Pippin’s parents object to that?”
“Just bring him back more or less in one piece, Sam, and they’ll be happy,” Merry assured him. “Uncle Paladin is away, anyway, and Pippin’s mother and sisters are helping to plan a wedding, so they were grateful to put Pippin in someone’s else’s capable hands for the weekend.”

“I have extra clothes with me,” Pippin added.

“Well, then, I guess it’s settled,” Sam said. “I’ll get a few things together, an’ we’ll be off then.” He looked at Frodo and said softly, “Thank you, sir. It’s kind of you.”
“Don’t mention it,” Frodo said solemnly, doing an admirable job of masking the delight that filled his heart.

Sam and Pippin headed down the hill toward Bagshot Row, and when they had gone Merry looked at Frodo and asked, “Do you really think this will work, Frodo? I’m not sure inflicting Pippin on Sam is a cure for his grief.”

“Uncle Bilbo said that Pippin might be just what Sam needs right now, Merry, and I’m hoping he’s right.” Frodo sighed. “With all my heart, I’m hope he’s right.

Chapter Two: Pippin Gives it a Try


Since it was a little far to go on foot with a heavily-loaded pack, two fishing poles, and various other items in addition to a very active six-year-old, Sam borrowed a pony and cart from a neighbor, and he and Pippin left right after lunch for their fishing expedition. For the first time in several weeks Sam took a real interest in his surroundings, encouraged in part by Pippin’s endless questions. Sam welcomed the questions, in part because it kept his mind off his sadness, and also in part because it was refreshing to be around another hobbit that was not eyeing him worriedly and asking him if everything was all right.

Sam found a good spot to set up their fishing camp, and Pippin was nearly beside himself with excitement. Except for very occasional visits to Brandy Hall to visit Merry, Pippin had never really spent a night away from home, and never out of doors. He did, however, sneak surreptitious glances into Sam’s pack to make sure the older hobbit had brought plenty of food along. Remembering Pippin’s tremendous appetite, Sam had taken care to do just that. He was afraid the tiny Took would gnaw his leg off as an alternative, otherwise.

“Oh, Sam, what’s that?” he asked as Sam took a lumpy gray bundle out of the cart.

“It’s a tent, Mr. Pippin, to provide us with some shelter tonight, in case it would rain. My Gaffer’s elbows didn’t pain him, so it’s nowt likely, but a prepared hobbit is a dry hobbit. It’ll just take me a moment or two to set up.”

Pippin ran over and took hold of the tent. “Sam, can I try, too?”

Sam smiled as he remembered the results each time Pippin had asked that innocent question the last time he visited.

“Have you ever set up a tent before, Pippin?”

“Well, no. But I’m sure I can figure it out,” he added proudly. “I’m to be the thirty-second Thain of Tuckborough, you know, and I’m certain I should know how to do this. It’s in my blood.”

Sam sat back and folded his arms. “All right, then, lad, I won’t stand in your way. You go right ahead and figure it out.”

Pippin beamed at him, and set to work.

Twenty minutes later, an extremely frustrated future Thain was hopelessly tangled up in cloth, rope, and wooden tent pegs.

“Sam?” A muffled voice called out.

“Yes, Mr. Pippin?” Sam asked blandly.

“I think my blood and I might need a little help.”

Sam gathered the tent around Pippin and slung a half-protesting, half-giggling Pippin over his shoulder and gently rolled him out under a shady tree near the creek.
“Here, lad , you sit here while I do this. Have a cookie, and watch and learn.”

Sam had the tent set up in five minutes, and while he set about making them a spot of tea, Pippin had a grand time crawling in and out of the tent and chattering incessantly.

“Oh, Sam, this will be such fun! I’ve never slept outside before. But you can’t tell my Mummy, or she might faint.”

At the word ‘Mummy’ Sam’s heart clenched painfully, but he just said kindly, “Don’t worry, lad, I’ll not say a word.”

Pippin’s share of the tea drastically reduced their supplies, and Sam hoped he’d be able to catch enough fish to keep Pippin’s appetite at bay. He still wondered how such a small stomach could hold so much. He mentioned casually that he had packed a special treat for supper, and only with a great deal of difficulty did he keep Pippin out of the back of the cart to discover what it was. No hobbit could beat the Tooks for inquisitiveness, unless it was the Brandybucks.

Finally it was time to do some fishing, in those few last hours before sunset, as the sky faded to a bluish pink, and a cool crepuscular breeze moved through the trees.
“Very well, lad, it’s time that you had your first fishing lesson. Come over here.”

Pippin hurried to Sam’s side. “What do we do first?”

“Well, first, we need bait.”

“What’s bait?”

“It’s what we put on the hook to make the fish nibble so we can catch them.”

“Do you think they like custard tarts?”

Sam laughed. “No, that’s not what fish like, Pippin. The best thing is bits of dough, but I didn’t bring any of that with me. So, the next best thing is worms.”

Pippin made a face. “Worms?”

Sam reached into his sack and pulled out a spade and a small pail. “That’s right, Pippin. And we have to dig for ‘em.”

Pippin looked a little sick. “We have to eat something that eats worms?”

“They won’t actually eat it, Pippin. We just have to get ‘em to grab it, and then we pull ‘em in.”

“Oh, all right then,” Pippin said, but he still looked doubtful.

They located a patch near the creek that was soft and muddy, and Sam showed Pippin how to carefully dig up the warm, rich earth and extract the wriggling worms from it. Pippin overcame his reservations quickly, and eagerly plunged his hands into the soil to catch them. But he handled them with curious gentleness and carefully deposited them into the pail.

When they had enough, Sam got the two poles from the cart, his own pole that he always used, and a shorter, slimmer one that he had cut for Pippin the previous evening.

“What do we do with that?”

“We catch the fish with this, Pippin.”

“Are we going to hit them with it? If we hit them with it, what do we need worms for?”

“No, lad, we’re going to put a hook on the end of the line, and put the worm on it, and then we throw the hook out into the water.”

To Sam’s astonishment, Pippin’s large hazel eyes filled with tears. “Oh, Sam! We’re going to-to stab them with a hook, and then DROWN them??”

Twenty minutes later, Sam had taken a loaf of bread and rolled it into tiny fish-bite-size balls after he liberated the worms.

He took Pippin’s hand and led him down to the creek, but cautioned him not to go in.

“Merry lets me go wading,” Pippin informed him.

“Maybe tomorrow, when it’s warmer, lad. It’s too chilly to go wading right now. The water gets colder when the sun goes down.”

He was afraid Pippin would press the issue, but the little hobbit just nodded.

Sam led Pippin to his favorite fishing spot- a perch of rocks that jutted out over a deep part of the creek. There were always plenty of trout there under the shade of the rocks.

He handed Pippin the pole, and said, “Now, you want to get your line as far out as you can, without catching the hook on the rocks an’ losin’ your bait. Fish like the deep water.”

Pippin drew a deep breath, raised the pole, and proceeded to fling it back with all his strength.

They heard a rustling overhead, and Sam glanced up.

“Well, Pippin,” he said as seriously as he could, “that is perhaps the best way to catch a flying fish that I have ever seen.”

Pippin had neatly snared the limb of the tree that loomed over them.

The young Took gazed thoughtfully upward and said with as much gravity as he could muster, “It goes without saying that you don’t tell Merry about this.”

Sam climbed up to disentangle Pippin’s line while Pippin took a snack break. He tried tiptoeing to the back of the cart, thinking Sam couldn’t see him through the dense foilage of the trees, but was stopped in his tracks by a crisp, “Stay outa that cart, Mr. Pippin!”

Pippin sighed deeply and returned to the fishing hole.

While Pippin did not catch a flying fish, he did finally get the hang of casting his line, and even had a nibble or two at his line. Sam caught three fine fat trout, but not wanting to hurt Pippin’s tender spirit he sent him to the cart to finally extract the surprise while he cleaned the fish for their supper.

“It’s in the box, covered with a heavy cloth,” Sam told him.

Pippin ran joyously to the cart, and a few moments later Sam grinned as he heard the exuberant shout:

“MUSHROOMS! LOTS AND LOTS OF MUSHROOMS!”

Chapter 3: Pippin’s Cure


After their supper, Pippin was so stuffed with mushrooms that he could barely draw breath comfortably. That, combined with the fact that he had been up since very early morning and had had a busy, productive afternoon, was enough to make even Pippin’s eyelids grow heavy. He sat by the fire, his head jerking up and down as he valiantly strove to stay awake.

“Time for bed then, lad,” Sam said kindly as he stoked the fire with more kindling.

Pippin stumbled after him to the tent, yawning so widely that it was a wonder he didn’t split his head in two.

Sam took two blankets and folded them each three times to make as soft a bed as possible for Pippin. The little hobbit’s head had barely touched the blankets before he was deep in blissful slumber. Sam took his own jacket and tucked it snugly around Pippin and laid another blanket over that. “There, that should make you warm as toast,” he murmured.

Sam fed and watered the pony before he lit a lantern and set it on a stump near the tent, in case Pippin woke up and needed a “trip” in the middle of the night.
During the day, when he had much to occupy his mind and keep him busy, Sam did not have much time to think about things. But in the darkness, in the quiet, when everyone else had gone to bed, the pain and loneliness returned and enshrouded Sam’s soul.

He envied Pippin his slumber; the deep, innocent sleep of one who had yet to experience the pain of the loss of a loved one.

Sam walked down by the edge of the creek and sat cross-legged upon the grass as he gazed out into the night.

He could hear the pensive chirping of crickets, the water trickling over the rocks in the creek, and somewhere far in the distance wolves called out to each other.
Sam knew it was the way of things; hobbits were born, they lived their lives, they died eventually. But Bell Gamgee had passed away suddenly, in the prime of her life, when she should have had many more years ahead of her. She should have been able to see all her children grown, and to enjoy her grandchildren and perhaps her great-grandchildren…

Sam loved his father, and his sisters and brothers. But he had had a special relationship with his mother, and the years ahead without her loomed empty and frightening. Sam was not yet seventeen, still a lad himself in many ways, and he missed her more than he could bear. He knew his family and friends were worried about him; that he had remained dry-eyed and silent about his feelings. But what Sam felt was just too much for tears.

With a heavy sigh he got to his feet and turned toward the tent; he did not want Pippin to wake suddenly and think that he had been deserted in the middle of nowhere.
He quietly drew back the tent flap. Pippin lay sprawled on his back, his long-lashed eyes closed, the two middle fingers of his right hand stuffed into his mouth, his chest rising and falling rhythmically as he slept.

Sam gazed down at him and shook his head affectionately before he lay down himself, in the few bare inches Pippin left him on the ground.



The new day dawned warm but overcast; Sam worried that perhaps his Gaffer’s joints had led them astray this time and they were in for some rain. He wanted to get some more fishing in, primarily because he didn’t think there was enough food left to fill Pippin up for more than first breakfast. The little hobbit was fully restored and in high spirits, and made short work of the bacon-and-tomato sandwiches that Sam fixed for them.

“I’d like to try another spot further down, lad, but there’s no time for dallying about. We’ll have to be on our way home after lunch, as I promised your cousin Merry I would have you home at suppertime.”

“What, already?” Pippin lamented.

“I know, Pippin-lad. But I think we’d be totally out of food by then, anyway.” He playfully poked Pippin in the belly. “Lor’, Mr. Pippin, I’ve never seen any hobbit fill his breadbasket faster and fuller than you do, an’ that’s a fact.”

Pippin took this as a compliment and beamed-and for a hobbit, it was a compliment.

The new fishing spot was about a half mile down, just close enough for a pleasant walk. It was similar to the spot where their camp was, but the natural pool was deeper and clearer, and had a perfect spot on the creek edge for wading. Pippin looked hopefully up at Sam, who nodded and smiled. “All right, Pippin, go on an’ wade. But don’t go out deeper than your ankles, all right?”

“I won’t,” Pip promised, and soon was happily splashing about and chasing the tiny minnows that ventured near enough to inspect this interloper. He stood still for a moment to see if they would come back, and then giggled with delight when they curiously nibbled at his toes.

Sam looked upward, and the sky was growing steadily darker and the wind was picking up.

“Pippin-lad, come on out now. I think there’s rain comin’.”

“Does that mean we can’t fish now?”

There was a tremendous clap of thunder, and then the rain began to come down in a heavy, steady downpour.

“Oi!” Pippin cried as he ran to Sam, and the two hobbits sought shelter at the base of a giant tree whose densely-gnarled roots formed a natural protective cover.
Always prepared, Sam produced a blanket from his pack and draped over their heads to afford additional protection from the wet.

“We’ll just sit here an’ wait it out, Pippin. These little summer squalls never last long.”

“I hope the fish aren’t scared away,” Pippin said glumly.

“No, they won’t be scared. They live in water, after all.”

Pippin said a few minutes later, “I guess you’ll have a lot of weeds to pull now, won’t you, Sam?”

“Why?” Sam asked him.

“Well, you told me when I came over last summer that lots of rain means lots of weeds. And you spent the weekend with me, and that means you’ll have a lot of weeds.”

“I suppose I will, Mr. Pippin, but that’s quite all right, because it is my job to do.”

“I could stay and help you,” Pippin offered.

Sam smiled down at him and said, “No, that’s kind of you, lad, but your mum will want you to come home at the appointed time.”

They sat and watched in silence for a few moments as the rain fell more and more softly, until at last only a shimmering mist hung in the air and the sun began to peek out once more through the clouds.

Pippin looked up at Sam and saw the sadness in his friend’s eyes, and his little heart ached with pity. Merry had told him that Sam’s mother had died just a short time ago, and that he must not mention it when he came to visit. But it was not in Pippin’s nature to remain quiet when he wanted a question answered, and especially when it concerned someone that he cared about.

“You miss her, don’t you, Sam?” he asked solemnly.

Sam looked down at him questioningly.

“Your mummy,” Pippin said. “I saw how sad you looked when you told me that my mum will want me home on time.”

Sam swallowed. “Aye, lad, I do. I miss her a great deal.”

“She was very kind,” Pippin said. “And you seemed to like to be around her and do things for her.”

“Of course I did, Pippin. She was my mother and I loved her. You do the same for your mum, don’t you?”

Pippin nodded. “Except usually when I try to help, I mess it up and I get sent to my room.”

Sam managed a smile. “I did that a time or two, myself.”

The older hobbit became quiet again, and Pippin watched him unhappily, as he wanted so much to comfort him.

Then Pippin had a thought.

He tugged on Sam’s sleeve.

“Yes Pippin?”

“Do you see what I see?”

Sam followed the child’s pointing finger to the horizon.

“Do you mean the rainbow, lad? Yes, I see it. There’s often one after it rains.”

Pippin shook his head. “Not all the time. Uncle Bilbo told me that to have a rainbow; you have to have rain and sun at the same time. If you have rain, but no sun, you won’t have a rainbow. Or if you have sun, but no rain, you won’t have a rainbow, either.”

Sam said gently, “That’s good to know, lad.”

Pippin stood up and looked earnestly at Sam. “Sam, you are having a rainbow day.”

“What do you mean, Pippin?”

“What I mean is…you are sad about your mummy dying and you cannot see her anymore. That is the rain. But you loved her, too, and you have good thoughts of her, and of the nice things she did for you, and that you did for her. That’s the sun. You have rain and you have sun, so you have a rainbow. The rain makes you sad, but the sun is there too, to make it hurt less and you have the happy memories. So…you have a rainbow day.”

Sam’s eyes were very bright but he said nothing as he looked at Pippin.

“Do you see what I mean?” the little hobbit asked uncertainly.

Next thing Pippin knew, he was being held in a tight embrace while Sam wept; deep, tearing sobs that shook his entire body…but tears that had been too long pent up and resisted.

Pippin had accomplished in two minutes what no one else had been able to do for nearly two months.

Pippin whimpered, “Sam, I’m sorry. I was trying to cheer you up and now I’ve made you feel worse!”

Sam regained his composure and wiped his eyes as he shook his head. “No, Pippin dear, you didn’t make me feel worse. You made me feel much, much better.”
“But you were crying, Sam. People don’t cry when they feel better!”

“Sometimes they do, Pippin. You helped me to let her go, and that is what I needed to do.”

Pippin looked puzzled, but Sam just hugged him tight and said, “Never mind, lad, just know that you just did me a great service. I’d say the Tooks will be very fortunate to have you as Thain one day…at least once you learn to set up a tent properly.”

The rainbow had faded and the sun shone bright once more, and Pippin and Sam emerged from their refuge.

Pippin’s stomach growled loudly.

“Sam, I’m hungry,” he said.

Sam took his hand. “Well, then, let’s go catch you some lunch, shall we?”

“Could you catch me some more mushrooms?”


Epilogue:

It was just about suppertime when Sam and Pippin returned home in the cart. Frodo and Merry went out to greet them and both noticed immediately that Sam had changed. The haunted look had left his eyes and he seemed much more his old self. Pippin ran to meet his cousins while Sam returned the cart and pony to their owner.

“We had a great time!” Pippin announced as he embraced both of them.

“That’s good, Pippers,” Merry told him.

“Sam seems happier, too,” Frodo said as he tousled his young cousin’s hair.

“That’s what Sam said, too, but I’m not sure how,” Pippin said.

“What do you mean, Pip?” Frodo asked.

Pippin told them what he had told Sam about the rainbow day.

“And I hoped it would cheer him up. But instead he started to cry a lot, and for a long time and he held me really tight. Then when he stopped crying he said that I had made him feel a lot better. But I don’t see how I- oi!”

For the second time that day Pippin was caught up in a rib-crushing hug, this time by Frodo.

“Oh, cousin Pip, I love you so, you wonderful little Took!”

“What’s going on?” Pippin asked, bewildered.

Merry cleared his throat and said, “Pip, just when I think you can’t surprise me anymore, you come out and do something really beautiful. I’m proud of you, lad.”
Pippin blinked.

“I still don’t understand how what I said was good,” he said.

Sam returned then.

“Here’s your Pippin back, and in one piece, Mr. Merry. Perhaps he can come again one day soon.”

“Thank you, Sam. I don’t think you’d be able to stop him, anyway.”

Pippin looked around at the three hobbits he loved so well standing around him, and said with sudden inspiration, “You know, perhaps one day all three of us can go and have a grand adventure together! Wouldn’t that be fun?”

Sam hastily turned back toward Bagshot Row, Frodo coughed and went back into the smial, and Merry followed Frodo post haste.

“Oi, wait for me!” Pippin exclaimed.