A Spring Drowning

by Orangeblossom Took


A Spring Drowning
Buckland, the Brandywine River 2980

It was a beautiful night and the first full moon in spring. That was more than sufficient excuse for Gorbadoc Brandybuck to have one of his famous parties. Drogo Baggins was replete with the food, drink, and companionship but he noticed that his wife seemed unusually quiet and impatient with the company.

His suspicions that she wanted to leave the festivities were confirmed when Primula looked at her husband with pleading eyes and wheedled, “Please, Drogo. It is such a beautiful night and look at how glorious the moon is. Saradoc and Esmeralda will watch Frodo and I need to tell you something away from this crowd.”

Drogo sighed and looked at his wife. He knew members of the Brandybuck family were comfortable around the water but, despite his years among them, he was not. Primula was not the swimmer her male relations were but she was not helpless in the water. She tried to teach him to swim but, despite her efforts, he always ended up choking on water. She could get him in a boat only with the greatest of reluctance.

His gentle brown eyes remained fixed on her and he thought, “How can I deny her anything when she looks at me with those blue eyes she gave our son and those blond Brandybuck curls spilling over her shoulders?”

He ran his fingers through his own mop of wooly, brown Baggins locks and, in a resigned tone, said, “Alright, Prim. If you want to see the moon shining on the river that badly, I will go out on the boat with you.”

She gave him that maddening, secretive little smile that had been playing across her face the last few days and, with a teasing note to her voice, said, “I have been waiting to tell you my news, dear husband. We could go to some unoccupied corner of the Hall but the river in the moonlight will be so much more special.”

They made their way through the cool, moonlit night toward the river. Little flowers, leeched of their color by the moonlight, lined the path to the water and the dark silhouettes of trees stood out in relief against the glimmering night sky.

Primula gracefully stepped into the little boat but Drogo, to his chagrin, nearly tripped getting in and caused the small craft to rock violently. He was pale-faced and trembling as he settled gingerly into the seat.

Primula laughed musically and kissed him on the forehead without causing the boat to waver at all as she remarked, “I will never make a Brandybuck of you, my dear.”

Drogo, due to Primula’s prodding rowed out to the center of the river, which was bathed in the moon’s silver light. It was there she made the announcement.

She looked up at him with shining eyes and said, “Frodo is not going to be an only child.”

Drogo was speechless with an astonishment that quickly turned to joy. Hobbit families usually had many children but Frodo was almost twelve and still without a sibling. A brief, dark cloud of worry crossed his mind. Primula had not had an easy pregnancy with Frodo and almost came to grief delivering him. The healer said there would be no more.

With a hesitant voice, he asked, “Are you very sure, Prim?”

Her smile was brilliant as she replied, “Of course I am. I have been sure for several weeks but did not want to tell anyone, even you, until I was absolutely certain.”

If Drogo had been more confident about the boat, he would have risked moving to embrace his wife. He just moved forward slightly and cupped her hands in his.

He voice quavered as he replied, “I hope it is a girl as beautiful as you.”

Primula said, “Let us enjoy the night for a little while longer then go tell Esme and Saradoc the good news.”

That is when it happened. Drogo, in his confused last thoughts, would try to recall why the boat capsized but to no avail.

Primula went under the water first. She could swim but she was in a heavy skirt and petticoats and the recent spring rains had swollen the river and made its current swift. Drogo struggled and thrashed in the water in an attempt to reach her but he could. He quickly followed her under the surface of the river. Just before his lungs burst he frantically thought of Frodo and how his bright, sensitive boy would fare.

They were found washed up near a patch of water lilies by the river’s edge the following morning but not by the search party. Frodo, who slipped away to search for his parents, saw Primula’s hair fanned out among the flowers like golden water weeds and screamed his grief into the shell pink morning until Esme came running.