The Eviction of Hamfast Gamgee

by sevilodorf


All that is necessary for Evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke

January 1419 SR

"Chief."

The timid inquiry drew an upraised finger, and Reginald Grubb remained in the doorway. Twisting his cap, he cast apprehensive glances down the long hall to the open front door.

But the Chief was never one to be rushed. "Unreasonable haste leads to unnecessary error" was one of Lotho Sackville-Baggins' favorite sayings, especially when it came to tallying his accounts. Thus it was a good while before the final tick was placed beside the last column and a plump finger motioned Reginald to enter.

"Sir, you're needed down the Hill."

The Chief folded his hands across the tight expanse of his silk waistcoat. "I would think Reginald, that a hobbit of your experience could deal with the situation without my assistance. Your uncle recommended you most highly."

"Oh, I am, sir, but…" Reginald hunched his shoulders against the storm and plunged onward, "the Gaff…I mean, Gamgee has a contract signed by Mister Frodo, and the shirriffs won't…"

A slight smile formed upon his pockmarked face as Lotho interrupted coldly, "Frodo Baggins no longer owns Bag-End, or its adjacent properties."

"Of course not, sir, however … well ... it seems there is a clause… a condition … most unusual, but it was an addendum to the contract of sale which Miss Lobelia signed…" Reginald swallowed loudly, then finished weakly, "I discussed this with Miss Lobelia two weeks ago."

"Your services, Reginald, were contracted to me, not my mother."

"Sir, she is the owner of record."

"As is fitting for a lady of her standing, she entrusted me with all her business matters. I assume you have read that contract as well."

"Yes, sir. You were away when the matter came to light, and I … I…"

"Have proven yourself incompetent," Lotho finished for him. "You can be certain your uncle will be informed."

"Yes, sir," Reginald replied with equal parts relief and misery. Uncle Bolliver's wrath, not to mention Aunt Gertrude's reaction, while horrible, would be far easier to endure than continuing as the Chief's lackey.

"However, being fully aware of the addendum to the contract of sale, I have made provisions."

From the drawer of the desk, Lotho took a paper Reginald recognized as the original bill of sale and tapped one carefully manicured nail upon the relevant phrase. "As written, Hamfast Gamgee and the others residing in Bagshot Row are granted tenancy for life without increase in rent. Correct?"

"Yes, sir."

"Does it state anywhere in this contract that location of the tenancy must continue to be Bagshot Row?"

Reginald's eyes widened as he accepted the contract from Lotho's hand and pored over it. "Why, no, sir. While it would be natural to assume that they would remain in Bagshot Row, the contract requires only they be granted occupancy of some property."

The cold smile returned to Lotho's lips.

"The houses recently completed on the outskirts of By-Water are vacant. I believe they will serve."

Reginald could not prevent a shudder. Built atop a rocky hillock, the houses, only slightly larger than many garden sheds, stood exposed to the uncertain mercies of the north wind. However, the accommodations would meet the terms of the contract, and that was what he, as representative of Messrs. Grubb, Grubb and Burrowes, had been hired to do. Whether he liked it or not.

As Lotho raised an inquiring eyebrow, Reginald responded hastily, "Yes, sir. An excellent solution, sir."

"I'm glad you approve." Lotho waved toward the door. "I trust you can handle the matter from here."

For a brief moment, Reginald imagined throwing his cap in the Chief's face and refusing to be a part of any more underhanded dealings. However, to be a hero required more courage than he could claim.

Heartily ashamed, Reginald muttered, "Yes, sir. I'll have them removed from the premises by nightfall."

"See that they are."