May 1, 1420 SR;
Well, here it is at last, my wedding day! Thank goodness it’s going to be fine, clear and bright after yesterday’s showers. I wonder if Sam is up and about yet. That was my last night in Mum and Dad’s house, tomorrow morning I’ll wake up with Sam beside me. I wonder what it will be like, to get up and make the tea for Sam, and sit across the breakfast table from him, every morning for the rest of my life? One thing I know, that Sam will always have a smile for me, so I must always have one for him. When he smiles, his eyes crinkle, and my heart just melts. He’s not handsome, my Sam, but his dear good heart just shines though when he smiles. And he has this way about him now, he’s become that masterful, and sure of himself. It’s foolish, I know, but a lass does like to feel her lad is a bit of a hero, and my Sam certainly is! Not that he puts on any airs, for that he doesn’t, but he seems to put his feet down different now, as Dad says.
I hear Mum in the kitchen, there’s the kettle singing. Dad and the boys will be out in the byre, nearly done with the milking. They’ve let me have a lie-in, but I can’t sleep any longer, so I might as well be up and doing. It’s a wonder I slept at all, though, after all the goings on last night. If the wedding is half as noisy as the rehearsal dinner, it will be heard all the way to Bree. I hope Jolly remembers not to turn the cows out onto the two acre field, that is to be part of the garden for today, and I don’t want any big cow pies underfoot for the dancing. I can just imagine what my fine Aunty Celandine from the Buckland would say, if she stepped in a fresh springtime cow pie!
Here’s my gown. I never had such a beautiful dress before, made of Silk all the way from Minas Tirith. Mr. Frodo gave it to me, for a wedding present. How cleverly Mum’s fingers have sewn it, such fine seams—and the lace! Fit for a queen, I think, and enough left over to make a bit of a veil. The lace is from Sam’s sister-in-law Daisy, married to Sam’s brother Hamson over Tighfield way. She sent it by carrier a couple of months ago, with the fruit for the wedding cake. I think Daisy and I will get on fine, she’s got a mort of sense and besides, they live a good way off. Mum says that’s one way to be sure you get on with all your in-laws, by not living in their pockets! Mind, Sam’s Mum and Dad will be near by, but that’s fine with me. Bell Gamgee is a jewel, and has always been very forthcoming with affection for me. Bell was so glad he’d come back safe and sound from his journey, and so ready to pop the question! So was I, of course, it was so hard to wait without fretting, wondering what might be happening, though I never doubted that Sam would be true to me, or me to him. It was just as well that we didn’t know what was to come, when he went away with Mr. Frodo.
We’re to live at Bag End with Mr. Frodo. There are those who warn me about going to live there, saying we’ll never have a moment to ourselves if we live with Mr. Frodo, but Mr. Frodo and I have talked it over and he has made over a set of rooms just for us, private-like. He’s moved his own things to the end nearest the old sitting room, and we’re to be nearer the kitchen end. Sam and I are to have the big bedroom at the front, the one with the climbing roses around the window, and that opens onto another little room next door. Mr. Frodo said it would do lovely for a nursery, that little room, he said he was sure that’s what old Mr. Bilbo’s mum used it for. I’m to take over the cooking and the cleaning for the whole house, and Sam will keep up with the garden as he used to. But Sam is also going to go into business with my brother Tolman who has a tidy concern carrying fish and salt from the sea all over the Shire, and who needed a partner with a bit of silver to help him expand. Tolman is a coming man, as they say, or a coming Hobbit, and Sam is as canny as can be, not afraid to take a bit of a chance in business. Folk have always thought him a bit slow, but they’re going to see a different Sam as time goes on, and he splashes out a bit. He’s been out in the big world beyond the Shire, and he’s learned a lot.
We’ve been taking our things over to Bag End, in the evenings. The rooms needed a bit of fresh paint, and we’ve had a jolly time doing that, Tolman and Marigold helping, and Wilcome and that sweet Melilot Burrows he’s courting. Mum’s made some new curtains for our little sitting room, a lovely bright red sprigged with little white flowers. We’ve been busy getting things set up just as we like them, trying different spots for the chairs and lamps and what not. Sam finally dug in his heels the other night, saying the big easy chair had more miles on its legs than he did, and blast it, if he was going to move it again! We had a good laugh over that, and over the table with the wonky leg that Sam’s uncle Halfred sent us for a wedding gift. He calls it an antique, which is just a fancy word for a “mathom”, Sam says, and surely he must have known there were tables to spare at Bag End! But we must use it, at least for a while, so as not to hurt his feelings, and it doesn’t wobble quite so much if we keep a chip of firewood under the bad leg.
Sam’s aunt May has given us a lovely crocheted bedspread that she started making the day Mr. Frodo supposedly moved to Crickhollow. She always said she knew he’d be back, and that anyway Sam would be back to marry me, and time has proven her right. She was reading the tea leaves for us last night and said the cup told her that we would have a dozen children to dance at our silver wedding, which made us all laugh, even Bag End might not hold Sam and me and a dozen children, and Mr. Frodo to boot. She read Mr. Frodo’s cup, too, and said she saw the sea in it, which Mr. Frodo said was not the sea at all, but the dregs of his tea, anyone could see that. He was as merry as any of the lads last night, poking fun at Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck, and threatening Sam with a Toast that will curl Sam’s toes. But I know Mr. Frodo would never say anything, even in fun, to embarrass Sam. He treats Sam as a son now, not a servant, although he was always kind and gentle enough, before. As for Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin, they don’t treat Sam as they used to, either. Sam is their equal now, or even more, after his deeds in the Black Land
I’m to do my own flowers, and the flowers for Melilot and for Sam and Frodo’s buttonholes. Mum’s forget-me-nots are a sea of blue down the side of the garden, they’ll be lovely arranged with water-irises and yellow primroses, all mixed in with trailing ivy and sprays of dried baby’s breath. There would be roses, if we were marrying in June or July, but we’ll have enough posies and to spare. Marigold had just such flowers on her table the night she had a bit of a “do” for me. All the ladies of the neighbourhood were there and they “showered” me with gifts, a new fashion of party that Melilot Burrows told of. So many things, not a “mathom”among them. Each gift seemed both pretty and useful, like the silver-gilt salter that Marigold gave, already filled with salt, or the dozen little crocks of jam that Mum brought from her own pantry. And good advice, well that was aplenty, for sure. I’m sure I blushed as red as fire when old Mother Cotton, the midwife from Bywater, said the best way to a happy marriage was to have plenty of babies and the sooner the better, then Marigold piped up that practicing to get the babies was a big help, too! Sam’s sister Marigold is to be my sister-in-law two ways, as she is wed to my brother Tolman. She has a bit of a tongue on her, for sure, but she’s a warm hearted lass, just the same.
We’re having the wedding right here in the garden at home. Mr. Frodo offered Bag End’s garden, but I wanted it here, even if it isn’t as grand as the garden at Bag End. Mother’s garden is good enough for me, and I don’t want Dad and Mum to think I’m too fine for home things, since I’m going up the Hill to live. They know I’m taking a step up in the world, marrying Sam, and I don’t expect to hear any of my kinfolk from the Buckland sneering at him for being too common to marry a Cotton. Mum and I and Sam’s sisters have been cooking for weeks, what with the wedding cake, and all the rest. We’re to sit eighty down to dinner in the garden, and we’ve cooked every mortal bite ourselves. Mr. Frodo is sending down the wine, and Mrs. Farmer Maggot sent a bushel of mushrooms, just last evening. They could not be done up too far ahead, but Mum will pop them on just before we sit down to dinner, and serve them as a bit of a relish with the salads. That will be Mum’s last work for the day, as some lasses from over Michel Delving way are coming to serve and clean up. I have a feeling Mum will fidget, being a lady of leisure in her own house, but Sam and I want her to enjoy the party, too.
The lads had a bachelor dinner for Sam at the Ivy Bush the same night of my “shower”, and by all accounts it was a rowdy affair, with plenty of naughty jokes and masculine advice. Sam is a bit shy, but he gave as good as he got, from what Tolman said. There are so many weddings planned for this spring and summer in Hobbiton that half the chaps at Sam’s bachelor party were new bridegrooms themselves, or about to be. Still, there’s no denying that our “nuptials” as Sam’s old dad calls our wedding, are going to be quite the event here, after all that’s happened in the last year or so.
The carrier is coming before lunch to take the last of my things to Bag End, my clothes and what not, and Dad has given me a cow of my own from his herd, so she’ll be tied behind the cart when it goes. Someone will pop over and milk her this evening, but tomorrow morning it will be my chore again, or Sam’s. The old byre at Bag End has only old Bill the Pony just now, and he’ll likely be glad of the company of Mrs. Buttercup. I have never minded milking a cow, it’s a pleasant chore when the good beast is as quiet as Dad’s cows all are, especially on a winter morning when the cow’s bag warms up the stiff, cold fingers that are doing the milking. It will give me a chance to earn a little pin money, selling butter and cream, and that reminds me, I must ask and see if the pullets I ordered from Granny Burrows will be ready next week. Mr. Frodo says there’s a good time coming, with fresh cream and eggs right at his own house, like the old days. He seems to want feeding up, I think. He’s a bit thin and pale and could use some hearty home cooking. I am even determined to keep a pig or two, if we can find room for them, even though Sam is not that fond of pigs. He’s fond enough of bacon and ham, though!
I am not to see Sam until he walks me across the lawn to the bower this afternoon. We are going to exchange our vows under the old apple tree, it is blooming more than Mum and Dad have ever seen before and smells as sweet as roses. Frodo will stand up with Sam, and Melilot with me, and that will be that. Nothing fancy, it just wouldn’t suit me or Sam, when you come right down to it. My Dad and Mum will be there, and his, and all our brothers and sisters and the friends we love the best. It isn’t the grand show that counts at a wedding, but the love in the hearts of the folks there. We’re not going on a wedding trip, Sam has had enough journeying about, and we’ll spend our honeymoon right where we will live the rest of our lives. Tonight he won’t kiss me goodnight and leave me at the gate, we’ll walk up the hill together by the light of the full moon to Bag End and the start of our married life.
Mum is calling me to breakfast, so I’d best be quick. I have the flowers to see to, and I must make sure that Jolly trims the grass as short as I want it. One more look out the window, to see the fine day, and the May Day sun shining on the Water. Well, Sam will never be able to forget our wedding anniversary, anyway, with this being May Day and all!