Nothing of Note
32. A Letter from Buckland
About a week later Bilbo was contemplating his windowboxes when Hamson Gamgee came to him with a letter in his hand.
"Hullo Hamson, good morning. Take a look at this windowbox, will you?
Do you think the end there is drooping down, or is it just me?" He
glanced up. "Oh, what have you there?"
"A letter came from the post for you, sir. As I was coming that way, I told 'em I'd just bring it along."
Bilbo took it from his hand. "Thank you." He turned it over to see the
addressing on it; there was only his own. The postal mark indicated it
had come from Buckland. But he knew the handwriting, knew it well. He
smiled. "Yes, thank you Hamson." He gave him a nod of friendly
dismissal, not inclined to share his personal communiqués with
the erstwhile rope-maker. Hamson understood, touching his cap politely
and heading back down the steps.
Hamson's light steps fading behind him, Bilbo was already turning to go
back inside Bag End. He pulled the door shut behind him and went to the
sunny window of the parlour to enjoy his letter. Scooping assorted
papers aside, he cleared a place then lay the letter there in the
circle of sunshine from the window, all glowing white on the glossy
brown wood of the table. He admired the effect, just enjoying it
being there for a few minutes while he went to get a cup of tea.
Returning with a steaming mug of spicy drink and a small cake, he
settled himself properly, took a deep, refreshing breath and reached
out to break the seal on the envelope. The creamy-colored folded paper
slipped out and he opened it. His own name, in firm, flowing script ran
across the top of the page.
My dear Bilbo,
Springtime has come again here in Buckland, and the brightly flowering
weeds are outstripping the more acceptable order of the garden
vegetables that someone has planted just outside my window. I don't
know why this makes me think of you; it draws me to place pen to paper
and send you greetings. Perhaps it is because your life always seems so
bright to me, thriving in the midst of your orderly neighbors as you
I am well, and life continues on here in Brandy Hall as it always has.
The last of the frosts are gone, and though I shall miss the silver
tree-shaped shadows in the morning wherever the sun has not yet touched
them, yet I am glad for the warmth. The planting and cleaning are
finished and I have been allowed some time to myself at last. What a
long winter this past one seemed to me with everyone indoors more often
than out! It is not so bad when the weather is good, but I suppose I
might be brought almost to be envious of you, with your own home all to
yourself. I sit here at the window trying to find something of interest
worth writing about but am somewhat at a loss. As I said, all goes as
it always has.
I think I have about finished the book you lent me in the Fall, and
found it to be of great interest. I look forward to perhaps spending
some long summer evening with you as we did this past year, to learn
more if you will have me. I have tried to find someone here to practice
speaking with, but they deem it of little practical use and chide me
for it, as a childish pastime. The Shire has so much history, and it is
of value, but they do not see that the rest of the world may have a
history also. I have been helping at odd jobs whenever I can to save up
for some books of my own.
Have you had any visitors, or met any travelers since we last
wrote? I would dearly love to hear some news from the outside.
Something in the spring makes me restless somehow -you are the only one
I think would truly understand that feeling, for I remember you
speaking of it. How I miss your encouragement, and your silences also!
I look forward to a reply from you, whenever you can manage it. Your
words always seem to be just the right thing for any season.
The shadows are growing and I am called to help set the tables and
chairs out for the evening meal. No doubt something of interest will
happen here the hour after I post this to you, such has been my luck of
late. Still, I remain
Bilbo smoothed the paper with his hand and read it over twice more
while he sipped at his tea, then carried it with him to his desk where
he laid out some fresh parchment and pulled up a stool. Where could he
begin? He touched the tip of the quill to the parchment, then pulled it
away again. What would he write? How could he sum up the
experiences of going to the Towers and back in a letter? It was
easy to do so for those who really didn't care to hear the details - in
fact he had already written to more than one relative that he had "made
a brief journey west and back again." But this was Frodo, and
he knew the thirst for details would not be so easily slaked with him.
He touched the quill to the parchment again and withdrew it.
It was simply too much to write, it would take a whole book to talk
about properly. In fact, it was; his somewhat battered traveling
notebook was proof of it. He made a rapid calculation of how many days
he had left until the Gamgees returned and the lawyer he had contacted
was supposed to arrive from Michel Delving. It was a favorable number,
though only just. He stood up, rattling the quill back into the
ink-bottle with a small ting.
He would have to take the story to Frodo then. He found himself
suddenly very cheered and a little excited about it, in spite of the
long drive. Leaving the parchment with its two lonely dots of ink on
it, he began to gather up his notebook, the feathers and grasses and
such, the fragment of Elven carving...It would be a short trip, the
weather was fair enough...
Hamson's eyebrows went up but he made no comment when Bilbo sent him to
arrange for the pony and cart he used from time to time, then announced
he would be gone to Buckland for about five days or so and was
entrusting Bag End's safety into the rope-maker's care.
By noon, Bilbo had packed up some clothing, food and money, filled his
pack with the mementos from his trip and was on his way driving along
the East Road. He knew getting such a late start wouldn't be too
much of a problem with the Floating Log in Frogmorton not quite halfway
along. It had been some time since he had stayed there, but it
was serviceable enough. With a quick luncheon under his belt and a
clean handkerchief in his pocket his mood was positively buoyant. He
hadn't been to Buckland since...well, he wasn't sure when. It had been
The pony was a patient beast and steady, and the road was dry enough
that mud-wracked wheels were not a problem as they might have been the
previous month. He hummed as the miles began to slowly roll away:
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!
Hill and water under sky,
Pass them by! Pass them by!