The tenth day of December, 3018 of the Third Age
To; Miss Rosie Cotton, Hobbiton, The Shire
My dear Rosie,
I am sure you are very surprised to get this letter. I am even more surprised to be writing it, as letters are not what I am best at, if you take my meaning, even though Mr Bilbo did his best to teach me. But Mr. Frodo said ‘You best write a letter, Sam’ and Mr.Bilbo agreed, so I was outnumbered.
I don’t rightly know where to start, so I will jump straight in and say how sorry I am to have run off in the night like I did. I know Fredegar will have told you a bit of how important it was for me to look after Mr. Frodo but I am sure you thought I’d just gone and forgotten you, or even worse, dumped you. But it wasn’t like that, Rosie lass…
You see, we fled the Shire, me and Mr. Frodo. No cheerful waving and goodbyes, just a frightful bolt for our lives pursued by a nightmare, some horrible black thing, and to be honest with you Rosie life was never the same after I saw it. It was a black spirit from a black land and although it were Mr. Frodo it was after, Rosie I had to stay with him, stand by him in case he were cornered and attacked.
‘What about Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin?’ you’ll say. ‘They were his cousins, and a lot more used to adventures than you..’
Well, you’re right, Rosie. I am not an adventurous hobbit, and no fighter. But Mr.Gandalf told me to stay with Mr. Frodo, so I knew he thought I was up to the task. And to be honest, Mr. Pippin and Mr. Merry are a bit, well, flighty. Mr. Frodo needed me, his Sam. I had to go with him, Rosie, I hope you understand.
The sad thing is I did not make any difference, in the end. We were caught, and Mr. Frodo badly wounded, at a place called Weathertop. You won’t believe this, but I carry a sword now. Your Sam carrying a sword! (just don’t tell the Gaffer, please Rosie…) Anyway, I wielded it in his defence but he put on….no, he disappeared, and when we found him again he had been stabbed.
Yes, Rosie, Mr. Frodo was stabbed. We would have lost him but we were helped by a man called Strider. He is one of them Rangers who guard the Shire, although I never knew it till he told me. We live with our eyes shut in the Shire, Rosie! But perhaps we are better off that way….
I did not like the look of Strider at first. He was dressed in weatherworn clothes that needed a wash and a mend. His hair needed a cut and he was wild and weatherbeaten, very tall and armed with this great sword. I did not like the look of him at first, no not at all. But handsome is as handsome does says my Gaffer, and he showed his quality at Weathertop, my word you should have seen him fight off those…whatever they were, and when Frodo was hurt he looked after him right gently and brought him to this place, Rivendell.
Rivendell belongs to the Elves, Rosie, and it is the most beautiful place you ever saw, and even with my slow writing I could fill pages and pages but still not do it justice. So I will just say it is like a dream, with gardens and fountains…..but I won’t go on. To be honest, it makes me feel sad, for the fair folk that built it have decided to leave it, and Middle Earth…so I will just go on with my tale..
The Elven lord of Rivendell is Elrond. It is funny, Rosie, but as you know I always hankered to meet Elves. Here I am surrounded by them, and yet the wonder never wore off. They are the most proud, tall and fine folk that ever walked the earth. And Elrond is their greatest lord, or at least one of them. I only wish you could see him, Rosie. He wears a silver circlet on his dark hair, and you would think he were no more than about two score and ten, but he is centuries old. He wears blue, mostly, such rich dress as you never saw, but even without ornament he has the air of a king.
But this great lord put himself to the trouble to sit up night after night to tend to Mr. Frodo. Better, he let me stay with him too. It was touch and go, Rosie. There was some sliver of the knife in Frodo’s wound and they had to work it out. He was that close to death, I go cold thinking of it. I knew then, like you do during a long watch at night when things seem blackest, that we were caught up in a dangerous business, and that I could never, ever leave him again. When he got up for the first time, Rosie, he looked into a mirror and saw what I saw, not a hobbit any more, but a pale little shadow of the gentleman who left Bag End.
‘We’re set on a journey, Sam’ he said to me ‘..and there is no turning back..’
You see, we had this thing, this powerful, dangerous possession of the Enemy. I won’t tell you just what, it’s enough to tell you that all the peoples of Middle Earth sent messengers to a council called by Elrond as soon as he saw what we had. But Rosie, it were no good! All those fine folks, and what did they decide to do? Let Mr. Frodo go on alone into Mordor to bring this…thing….back to be destroyed! A hobbit! Just a plain simple hobbit! I was that upset, I jumped up from where I was eavesdropping….yes, Rosie, I know you warned me off doing that, and so did Gandalf, but I just had to, and it turned out for the best, because Lord Elrond, after some sarcastic remark about me not having an invitation, let me go on with Mr. Frodo to Mordor.
I know what you are thinking, Rosie; did I not think of you, waiting back in the Shire? Did I not think of the Shire at all? Well, you see, that was the thing; we knew, on account of what this Thing was, that if we let it slip back into the wrong hands, we wouldn’t have a Shire, Rose. It’s not exaggerating, we’d be trampled, like the people of Gondor and Rohan, it was only a matter of time.
So you see, Rosie, I was thinking of you, only indirectly. I hope you understand….
After the council was over, I went back to the room with Frodo. He sat on the bed and he looked so forlorn, Rose, it would have broke your heart. For he knew then he would not be going back, not for a long time, perhaps not forever. And there came a knock on the door and who was it but Strider. Only now we knew he was not just some scruffy woodsman, he was some kind of king, Rose! Not that you would know to look at him, but Lord Elrond, and even some other Elf that was there, Legolas Greenleaf, deferred to him with great respect, although it seemed to bother him. Anyway, he came in and knelt down and asked Frodo could he come with him. And that lit up Frodo’s face with such joy and hope that it gladdened my heart too. He swore to protect Frodo, and from then on he sort of became our leader, advised by old Gandalf too, of course…and that is how we are now, about to set off….
Bilbo is calling me. They are ready to set off, and I must finish this letter.
Now Rose you are a darling lass, but you are bright as a button and you have been thinking to yourself ‘if this thing is so important and so dangerous, why is Sam risking everything by telling me about it?’
You are right, Rosie. Not that I don’t know you can keep a secret, but letters can go astray, or fall into the wrong hands. The truth is, this letter is not to be sent at all, unless….unless Mr. Bilbo gets word that our journey has failed, and we are not coming back. This is my goodbye, Rosie.
To be honest, lass, I don’t intend to not come back! But Mr. Bilbo wanted something to send rather than his own poor words, should the worst come to the worst. And Mr. Frodo, who is a more solemn soul since his illness, agreed with him.
It is winter now, Rose, but soon it will be spring in the Shire. Enjoy every apple blossom and lilac tree, every little stream and beech grove, remember that was why we did it. Why we would do it again….