Nothing of Note

by Primula

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 do.

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

Yours affectionately,

Frodo Baggins

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 too long.

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!