Shadows from the Past

by Rosie Cotton


Much has been said and written on how the Quest maimed Frodo’s life. But Sam has been through pain and torture as well and certainly his life has been in a way affected too.

It was a lovely summer evening, the sun had already gone down, yet the air was still warm. The first stars were blinking in the east and in the west the sky was a perfect symphony of rose and violet . On the little blue painted bench next to the Smial’s round green door sat two Hobbits smoking. For some time the only sound to be heard were the chirping of the crickets and the croaking of the frogs, but then a low rumble marred nature’s song. “ Mr. Frodo, you are hungry ! Ninnyhammer I am, we sat here all evening and I forgot to see to our supper. If Rosie was here she’d long have made it ready. See, I’m completely good for nothing now when she’s gone, be it just for a couple of days. I got so dependent on her though it’s just a couple of months since we got married.” Frodo laughed softly at his friend’s ramblings when his stomach moaned again to be filled. “ Your Sam really is a fool, Mr. Frodo, instead of going in and getting you some food I sit here gabbing. But I won’t let you starve under my very eyes, Mr. Frodo !” with these words Sam went into the Smial. Soon after he could be heard calling through the open sitting room window “Would you like some sausages ? And I got tomatoes, picked fresh from our garden this very morning. And Rosie made some bread before she went to Marigold’s. And there’s a blueberry tart in the pantry...” Frodo was laughing. “Sam, it’s just you and me, you know I can’t eat that much.” “ I know…..” Sam sighed and said in a low voice rather to himself: “You used to eat more than me once…before …” He resolutely swept away the thought that was slipping into his mind . This evening was too perfect to be thinking of the past. He started slicing the bread, produced butter and some boiled eggs from the larder and then went to the stove to fry the sausages. He reached for the big black cast iron pan hanging with its siblings on a hook above the stove. Thinking on whether he should make a salad of the tomatoes or serve them just as they were, he didn’t get a fast hold of the pan’s handle. It slipped from his grip and the heavy pan came clashing and clattering down on the stonepaved floor.
Frodo, raised by the shattering noise, rushed into the kitchen. He beheld a strange sight : His sturdy friend sat on the floor, crying. His whole body was shaking. His eyes were fixed on the pan. “ Sam, Sam, what happened ? Are you hurt ?” But the other Hobbit did not answer, he just sat there staring at the pan, sobbing “This Stinker isn’t going to mess with my pans, no he won’t.” Frodo knelt down beside Sam, gently laid his left arm around Sam’s shoulders and with the right hand he lifted his chin. Sam looked at him, his face tearstained, as if he did not know him. “Sam, look at me. Don’t you know me ? It’s me, Frodo.” Sam frowned and looked bewildered as someone who woke up in the middle of a nightmare. The next moment his face blushed deep red . “ I’m so sorry , Mr. Frodo, sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m alright, don’t worry, I’m alright. It’s just, you know, that clatter, it reminded me of….” “ I know, Sam, I know.” Frodo hugged him close and Sam allowed it until his tears had dried.


The air was hot, not a breeze stirred. The sky was cloudless and the sun burned down mercilessly. Sam wiped his brow and realized he wasn’t even sweating any more. “ This just ain’t natural” he grumbled and kept on watering his flowerbeds. Usually he would never have dreamed about watering the plants on mid day but for a few days now it had been so hot they wouldn’t have lasted the day without an additional sip of water. “ There you go, my beauties, I know you’re thirsty – I am too”. The watering can was emptied sooner than he’d expected. With a sigh he went to get it refilled. The sun made him dizzy and he stumbled a few times on his way . The well was situated under the shadow of some beeches in a corner of the garden. Usually it was comfortably cool here, but Sam noticed no change when he reached the shadow. Instead the air seemed to be even more stuffy here. Sam peered into the gloomy depths as the bucket wound its way down. The water surface was a lot lower than usual. Finally he heard a splash and after a few moments more he turned the crank around to get the bucket back up. The crank squeaked piteously and the sound added to Sam’s discomfort. Squeek...squeek...squeek – it was grueling. When the bucket had finally reached the brim he took it automatically and poured its contents into the watering can. All of a sudden something jumped at Sam. Something small, cold, with long limbs hurled itself right into his face. “ Oi, get off me!” he shouted reaching for his sword. But his hand only grasped thin air. He took a deep breath – his lungs seemed to fill themselves with fire. He was parched, his dry throat hurt him. Panic welled up in his heart and he felt himself swooning. With an effort he grabbed his assailant and flung him off. It took some time until his pulse slowed down and his gaze cleared again.
There in a patch of grass sat a small black frog, eyeing him angrily.