The First Birthday

by Orangeblossom Took

Bilbo looked out on the warm end-of summer twilight. There had been a few cool mornings but summer had reasserted itself and the days were warm and dry, with many flowers still blooming. The reds and pinks of the autumn roses warred riotously with the oranges and golds of the mums. As he contemplated the lavender and coral light fading into indigo, his mind was on his new charge. His young cousin had been lost in the hubbub of the Brandybuck’s great warren by the river and the boy certainly gave life at Bag End a richer hue. The older Hobbit’s rambling soul had, he must admit, grown discontent of late. Something had been gnawing at him and he longed for another adventure.

That was before the boy came. Sharing Bag End with Frodo after living alone for so long was an adventure one could have without ever leaving the Shire, that was certain. The boy was a good boy, despite rumors of mushroom-thievery, but he was different. It was odd, Bilbo thought, how he could see something of himself in Frodo, who was unlike himself in many ways. Yes, there was a quiet courage there. Most people would overlook it but Bilbo saw it. Frodo had, Bilbo knew, a great capacity to endure suffering, too great. If he were not careful, the lad would let others use him unmercifully. He had not a stitch of conceit and was, if anything, unaware of his own worth.

Bilbo sighed. He did not understand his solemn, often melancholy young cousin completely but, like himself, the boy was intelligent and brave and interested in the wide world. All in all he was enjoying having him at Bag End and thought he made an excellent decision.

Bilbo heard voices over by the rose bed and started with surprise. There was Frodo deep in conversation with the youngest Gamgee lad, the one who couldn’t hear enough about Elves. The Fry did seem to worship Frodo. Frodo was good with fry and, Bilbo thought, would make an excellent husband and father some day.

Frodo smiled and said, “Sam here was telling me how to prune roses.”

Bilbo’s eyes widened, “Sam’s very knowledgeable for so small a lad but he’s a bit early for the cake.”

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Bilbo,” stammered the sturdy child, “I wanted to give Mr. Frodo here his present.” Sam held up a small, rosy-colored pebble. “I found it when I was helping Da with the pumpkins.

Bilbo took the stone and moved to a lamp to look at it. It had the imprint of a tiny insect on it. He wondered what Gandalf would make of it.

“An interesting find, young Gamgee,” he said. He gave the pebble to Frodo and asked, “Are your parents here?”

“Yes sir. I couldn’t wait and made us come early,” said Sam, blushing.

“I’ll treasure it always Sam,” said Frodo and, turning to Bilbo, continued, “I think more guests are arriving.”

Lanterns were lit in the gardens as the stars winked on one-by-one and a cake decorated with roses was brought out. It would not reach the size and magnificence of a certain later party but Frodo would always remember his first birthday under Bilbo’s roof fondly and kept Sam’s pebble the rest of his days.