(A year to the day that Sam had
sent the dust of Lothlorien scattering over the Shire)
"You did WHAT?" said Samwise Gamgee, startled out of his usually calm
lunch and spilling his tea on the table. He couldn't believe his ears.
"You heard me." Rosie replied, as she got up and got a cloth to wipe up
the tea. "I confess, one year ago last night, when you told me that you
were planning to spread the last of the Elven earth on the four winds,
I slipped into your room while you were out with Merry and Pippin, and
took a pinch of your precious dust."
"Now Rosie, you oughtn't to have done that." Sam replied with a
somewhat guilty tone. "I have been telling everyone that the garden out
back looked so good because of my hard work. Now I find out that it was
augmented by elven magic. I won't be able to set in the Green Dragon
with my head held high again. And your father . . ."
"Relax, Sam. I didn't put any of the dust, not one grain, on our
property. The garden out back is because of your hard work. You are the
best gardener in Hobbiton, and even Dad says so. 'You married a good
hobbit lad, Rosie' he says. 'Knows his way in a field as if he were
made of roots and leaves.' And you know Dad, he is not one to go on
about someone's skill with a hoe if it isn't him or his sons."
"Well then, where did you put it?" A sly grin played across his face.
"You don't still have it do . . ."
"Of course not!" Rosie replied, watching as the hope drained out of
Sam's face. "I couldn't tell you, because I knew you wouldn't
understand. But now that you have seen to the reconstruction of the
Shire, I feel you understand the aftermath of Saruman's evil, but not
the evolution. You were just back, and had a lot on your plate already,
getting Frodo back into Bag End, and all of the replanting. You didn't
need more to worry about. But now that things are settling down again,
it is time I told you what I did with it."
"Well . . . " Sam waited. "It must be pretty bad if you have to take
this long to tell me. So let's have it. What did you do with it."
Rosie took a deep breath, and absently began twisting the tea-soaked
towel. "Sam, dear, I . . ." She jumped,as the tea began to drip onto
her foot. "Well, to be honest, I took the pinch of dust and spread it
over the flowers at Lobelia's grave."
Sam stood up and looked at his wife, jaw dropped in amazement. Such a
look of quizzical shock, dismay and surprise washed over his face, that
Rosie giggled. "Sam, sit down. I will tell you the story, though some
of it will sadden you, and other parts will surprise you. Grab another
biscuit, and I'll begin. Do you want some more tea?"
Sam sat down. "I think so, though I may need something stronger if this
story gets any stranger."
Rosie poured the tea and settled in to tell the tale.
Rosie smiled as she poured the tea. “Honestly, I meant to tell you long
before now, but as time went on, there was no good occasion. Now that
it is an anniversary, I guess it is time to let you in on what happened
while you were gone.”
“The hard thing is finding a beginning. But there weren’t no sudden
shadow falling on the land, as there is in so many stories. There was
no sudden invasion, or great display of arms. Saruman was much more
subtle, like the power of his voice I suppose. And it began innocently
enough, everything going along as it should, and then, out of nowhere,
a small piece of good fortune. A trader from Bree would come to
Buckland and purchase a whole keg of ale for a party. Someone else
would slip into the South Farthing and buy up all the pipeweed they
could lay their hands on.”
“They were small pieces of good fortune, and no one thought to piece
them together until it was too late. And they didn’t happen all at
once. But a curious thing began to occur. Right before a large request
from outside would come, old Lotho would send his mother into town and
make a big purchase, and a few days later, a request by an outlander
would bring them to the gate of Bag End, hoping to do business with the
“master of Bag End.”
Sam gritted his teeth. “Call him ‘Master Pimple’ if you have to, but no
one excepting Mr. Frodo is the ‘Master’ of Bag End.”
“Simmer down, Sam. This story is not about ‘old Pimple’ it's about his
mother. She is the one that I felt sorry for.” Rosie replied calmly.
“You weren’t here, so you don’t know everything that happened.”
Sam grabbed another biscuit and waited for his wife to go on.
“Lobelia could not believe that her son was doing anything wrong, and
no ‘facts’ shown to her by folk who were ‘only jealous of Lotho’s
shrewd business sense’ were going to change her mind. She had to find
out for herself that he was involved with the ruffians, and by the time
she did, she was locked up in the ‘hole’ and it was pride that kept her
“That and a few metal bars.” Sam smirked.
“No, Sam. It was her Pride.” Rosie said softly, her eyes brimming with
tears. "I've got to get out of here and get some air. Walk with me, and
I will explain the rest of the story."
Rosie led Sam outside. Sam was so preoccupied with Rosie’s unexpected
revelation that he didn’t notice which path they were taking.
“Sam, do you remember when Lobelia was released there were folks who
“That’s not something I’ll soon forget!” replied Sam, “It’s not every
day that Lobelia Sackville-Baggins gets an ovation. Most folks usually
cheer only when she’s leaving, not when she’s coming.”
“True, and most of the ones who were cheering were congratulating her
for applying her umbrella to the guards when she was arrested.” said
Rosie. “But after seeing her in her cell, I was cheering her because .
“You saw her in her cell? Rosie, what possessed you to do that?” Sam
“Now Sam, you know how I am. My father used to get so mad when I would
let the field mice out of the traps he put in the barn to catch them.
That is why he got me a cat for a pet. I can’t stand to think of
something being trapped, and he couldn’t stand to think of what the
mice would do to his grain. So I got a cute pet to cuddle, and he got a
watchman that scared the mice away.”
Sam once again marveled at Farmer Cotton’s ability to find a clever
solution to a problem, and tucked this solution away for future use
with a little girl of his own. He was brought back from his thoughts as
“So I went to see her, and what I discovered made me take stock of my
opinion of Lobelia. I was not her first visitor, Lotho was. He was
leaving just as I got there. He stormed right past me, muttering
something about “hard-headed hobbits.” I figured that he was talking
about himself, but I was wrong. I arrived with a plate of cookies for
her, but the guard saw them so I had to bribe him with one before he
let me in to see her. When she saw the half-eaten cookie in his hand,
she refused to eat any of them. I tried to explain, but all she would
say was, ‘Lotho couldn’t force me to change my mind, what makes me
think you can?’
“Usually, I would have just left, but something in the way her face
changed when she said, ‘Lotho’ made me ask her what she was talking
about. It was almost as if she had finally allowed herself to see him
for who he was.”
“Then she said the strangest thing. Her face clouded over, and she
whispered, ‘I will never believe that my Lotho is involved with these
ruffians. And yet . . . ’ and then she fell silent, and she opened her
fist. In the palm of her hand, was a key to her cell.”
“She looked at me, begging me to come up with an excuse as to how
someone who was not involved with her jailors could have gotten a key
to the cell. I couldn’t do it. I just looked at her.”
“She told me, ‘I don’t need your pity, Rosie Cotton.’ She turned away
from me as if I were gone. I left the cookies with her, but I doubt
that she ate them.”
Tears were welling in Rosie’s eyes. Sam cradled Rosie in his arms, and
as he did, he realized that she had been steering them toward the place
where Lobelia was buried.
“That is why I took the dust, Sam. I hope you aren’t mad. She could
have left at any time, but she knew if she left, that it would have
been the same as admitting that Lotho was guilty as everyone knew him
to be. So she stayed there, in that awful cell.”
“When she left, she took none of the money that his hands had been on.
She just couldn’t. And when you were getting ready to spread the last
of the dirt, I brought a pinch of it here. She saw so much that was
ugly while she was alive. I wanted to remember that there is beauty to
be found in all of us.”
Sam hugged her tightly. “I think you did the right thing, Rosie my
Sam looked once more at the cairn. It was covered with flowering vines.
As his eyes followed the winding of the vines, Sam saw at the center of
the hill, the vines wound together to form a wreath. In the center, was
a small iron key.