Hobbiton was asleep as Sam slipped out of the door at Bag End. He
hopped easily over the low stone wall, avoiding the squeaky front gate
that he never got around to fixing. (He could always picture Mr. Bilbo
winking and saying that it warned him when callers were coming.) Across
the path and down along the grass he walked, his bare feet treading
noiselessly. In the hour before dawn all was mere shades of grey, but
Sam needed no light to see where he was going.
the party tree Sam stopped. He ran a reverent hand along the smooth,
silvery trunk and then gently laid his cheek against it. He never told
anyone, but sometimes he thought he could feel the heartbeat of the
earth in the great tree. Perhaps it was part of the Elven Queen’s gift,
held in that magical acorn she’d given him. Sitting down with his back
against the trunk, he closed his eyes, picturing in his mind’s eye how
swiftly and perfectly the tree had grown.
sighed, opened his eyes and lit his pipe. He knew what had drawn him to
the tree at this early hour. It was a year ago today that Mr. Frodo and
the others had departed on the ship from the Grey Havens. Sam loved his
family dearly and had become quite active in Hobbiton, but there was
always a small ache in his heart for missing Frodo. It was odd, but for
some reason he felt closer to Frodo here, at the tree, than anywhere
else, even in Bag End. Perhaps it was because Bag End was now Sam’s
home with Rosie and the children. But even though everyone in town
shared the party tree, only Sam and Frodo had seen groves of mallorns.
Only they (with Merry and Pippin, of course) had spent time among the
elves, had slept in flets in the trees and had met Galadriel. To the
Hobbits here, the tree had been a nine-days wonder - amazing and exotic
when it first grew, but now accepted as a matter of fact. To Sam it was
a living reminder of all that the four travelers had experienced,
suffered and accomplished.
had come while he pondered, and now Sam could clearly see the beautiful
golden leaves forming a canopy above his head. Here and there lights
were springing up in houses, and soon people would be out and about. It
would be awkward to be found sitting under the tree; he would have to
try to explain what could not be explained. With a final pat on the
trunk, Sam rose to his feet and headed for home.