He slept the rest of the trip to Hobbiton. The Gaffer pondered as
the miles wore on. He glanced now and again at the young hobbit
next to him. He shook his head in wonder. A nice enough lad
he thought to himself, though a bit strange. He was a dreamer, he
recognized it; he had been around long enough to know one when he saw
Mr. Bilbo Baggins was the same though of course he did not know him as
a lad. It was that bothersome Took and Brandybuck blood, he
thought to himself, which caused all the problems. The blood just
wouldn't let them settle into the quiet life expected of a
gentlehobbit. True enough, many Tooks and Brandybucks had settled
down, sure enough. But if one took a fit it was usually
attributed to "their Blood".
He sighed thinking fondly of all his children. Growing like weeds they
were; especially his Sam. He was the apple of his eye, only a
sprout as it was, but promising to be as stubborn as his old
gaffer. He smiled, as he thought of him grown and strong, taking
over his role as the gardener of Bag End. Servant to…He paused
and looked again at the thin slip of a hobbit next to him; perhaps, he
thought. He rolled the title around his mind, Frodo Baggins "Master of
Bag End". It fit somehow though he did not resemble master of
anything. No, he thought, that was not true; the lad had a way
about him, no way around it. He did not put himself forward, he
was just there, no proof was required; he was a hobbit of exceptional
When Bilbo confided in him he was uncomfortable. Then Master
Bilbo always treated him as such, asking his opinion and advice.
Still he was surprised when he told him that he was going to adopt an
heir. He was even more surprised when he learned who that was to
be. Even the lad did not know the truth. He would never
betray the trust that Mr. Bilbo bestowed upon him. But truth be
known or not the small unassuming lad beside him would one day be his,
and most likely his Sam's Master.
"Now don't go mixen with the doins of your betters". How many
times a day did he say that? How many times a day did he need to
remind himself of his own station. It was not his place to judge
Mr. Bilbo's decision, or to judge the little mite beside him. His
hand he found was absently rubbing the lads shoulder. He was fond
of him to be sure, ever since the day he saw him with his Samwise, he
had been covered with muddy handprints. It was a fact; the Gaffer
demanded he and his family pay strict attention to their "place".
Yet he found that those who ignored their place and respected him; he
respected all the more. It was an odd double standard and it had
begun to blur his views.
Frodo stirred on the seat next to him. He moved to sit up and the
Gaffer released his hold on his shoulder. He lingered a moment
and then ruffled the lads hair, making the unruly mess more
tangled. Frodo looked up at him with eyes still blurred from
sleep and smiled softly. It was close to Suppertime and Frodo
looked ahead and saw that they were nearing "The Hill". The
Gaffer saw his recognition and smiled back, "I was just getting set to
wake you young master; we are home." The Gaffer blushed slightly
at his familiarity and realized he had just slipped a bit. The
lad was not home, not yet anyways. Someday however it would be
true and Frodo Baggins would be home here in Hobbiton, on the Hill …The
Master of Bag End.
Bilbo heard the racket outside and knew. Frodo always created
quite a stir when he arrived. He heard the slam of the gate, and
the high clear voice of his beloved nephew.
"Bilbo, Bilbo!" The creak of the door and his name called
again. "Bilbo, I'm here!" The excitement was plain to hear
in his dear voice. It had been months since Frodo had visited Bag
End and Bilbo had missed him terribly. He had seen him for a
short time when little Meriadoc had been born.
Since that time he had not heard from him. He had first
felt saddened and hesitated to write to the lad. But eventually
his need to see him had won out; it was not what he had expected.
Frodo had missed him, he was just being a lad and being busy with
his new cousin, time had just sped past him. Bilbo had
entertained strange thoughts for a bit, he feared the loss of Frodo's
love and attention. When he saw him he knew he had been a fool.
Frodo had more than enough room in his heart for everyone he
loved. He knew it was true, wondered why he had ever doubted it.
"Frodo, my lad!" Bilbo returned the tight embrace he found
himself captured in. "I've missed you my boy"! Tears threatened
and Bilbo composed himself, he coughed and diverted Frodo's
attention. "So tell me of your new cousin! How is he, and how are
the proud parents?"
Frodo beamed, Merry was still his favorite subject. "He is so big
already Bilbo, I didn't know babies grew so fast." He likes me; I
play with him and keep him quiet. I sing to him sometimes, he
likes that. He is a funny lad, my Merry."
"That's wonderful Frodo, I am sure he loves you very much." Frodo blushed at Bilbo's comment, "I guess so."
"Bilbo? What are we going to do this visit? Merry is fun but I
want to learn some more things. I want to learn as much as I can, so I
can teach Merry later." And, Little Samwise Gamgee, do you think the
gaffer would let me teach him his letters?"
Bilbo was grinning, Frodo was all energy and ready and willing to
learn. He was now the most apt of pupils; he had a reason to learn a
goal to reach. His nephew would indeed one day be a formidable
Hobbit and a perfect heir. He knew he was lucky to have chosen such a
one; to even know Frodo was a treat.
The years were passing too slowly for Bilbo; he waited for the day when
Frodo would be home at Bag End. Yet he waited, one day it would be, he
would know when the time was right.