Iíve wanted to write a story in which we see Frodo Baggins as a child with his parents; but what specific situation I would cover was the question. In the end I examined the stories Iíve written previously, and chose one of the pivotal moments Iíve touched on in several of my stories beginning with For Eyes to See as Can--the choice of Drogo and Primula to move out of Buckland first due to the second flooding of their smial by the river followed soon after by the ending of Primulaís last pregnancy by miscarriage. The next question was that of the primary point of view from which the incidents should be seen: in the end I chose the character of Isumbard Took, another of the descendants of old Gerontius and thus a second cousin to Frodo. Here is a lad who probably has seen little enough of young Frodo and probably doesnít know Primula and Drogo all that well either. What would such a one have come to believe of his cousin Bilbo, and what would strike him about his visit to Buckland? For those whoíve read my stories Bard is now a familiar character--some years older than Frodo, Bard yet found himself in a couple situations in which two of them became rivals, first in dancing and then for the affections of Pearl Took. What might not only Frodo but Isumbard have been like when young?
Several of us have explored the idea that Primula Baggins might have experienced miscarriages, perhaps several of them, with only one successful live birth. Iíve been asked if Primula would have allowed herself to be subjected to multiple miscarriages, and I could certainly offer living examples to bolster the idea. A close friend of mine so desperately wanted a child she went through nine before she was forced to stop so torturing herself and had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy. Her sister had similar experiences. Both became mothers as I was also forced to do by way of adoption. That in Primulaís last pregnancy she should have managed to keep the child through the stress due to the flood only to lose it as a result of a sneezing jag is deliberately ironic.
Into my first story Iíd written the idea that after leaving Hobbiton in response to Lobeliaís poisonous rumor-mongering, Drogo and Primula first settled into a smial near the Brandywine, down in the flood plain area. Here I was influenced by the location of the Quaker woman Hannahís hut in the classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond as well as the footbridge across the Mersey we traversed with a friend in Sale, now a suburb of Manchester, England. We stood in the middle of the bridge as he pointed out the borders of the flood plain area, explaining how the Mersey will on occasion overflow its banks, and how it was necessary to enact legislation to keep folk from trying to develop the area only to have all flooded out on an irregular basis. That there might be such a feature in Buckland within sight of Brandy Hall was too attractive an idea to ignore, I found, and now I felt inclined to expand on it.
The idea of the fairy stone with a hole in it having special powers to allow the one viewing the world through the hole to see beyond appearances is an old one, and appears in many stories based on Celtic and Welsh legends. I recently came upon it once more in Coraline, in which a young girl must use such a stone to find the hidden souls of three kidnapped victims of a demon who takes the guise of a loving mother. As just before I read that story Iíd written the final chapters of Reconciliation in which Sam found just such a stone in the old mill building near Brandy Hall and had chosen to keep it as it reminded him of Frodo, although he had no real evidence the thing had anything to do with his departed Master, I found the impulse strong to write a story in which the green stone disk was used to reveal the True Shapes of some of our beloved characters to others.
Aventurine is a semiprecious stone as Iíve described it, although the presence of the black speckles in it is not a constant. Necklaces of beads shaped from lapis, aventurine, jade, malachite, and other stones with beautiful colors and visual textures we offered fairly commonly in our antique store.
The device of the abandoned mill building I first encountered in stories written by Anglachel; as to explaining why that mill would have been abandoned by such a tradition-loving folk as Hobbits, it was obvious that the stream which had powered it must have shifted its bed, probably in spring flooding.
If the Shire itself depicts England, it stands to reason that at least parts of it would have remains of prior settlement. Certainly in the walking song Frodo sings as he and Sam meet with the last riding of the Elves this is indicated:
Still round the corner there may wait
a standing stone or secret gate....
In the Appendices, Tolkien explains that after the ninth King of Arnor the northern kingdom was divided into three: Arthedain in the northwest, Rhuadar to the east nearest Imladris, and Cardolan to the southwest. Warfare and a virulent epidemic of plague proportions so diminished the Dķnedain populations of Rhuadar and Cardolan that in the end they lost their integrity as independent kingdoms, eventually leaving the rulers of Arthedain resuming the Kingship of all of Arnor by default. That Buckland might have been the site of settlements of Cardolan is reasonable in light of the fact that the Barrowdowns, which are not that far off, comprised the royal cemetery for this division of Arnor.
A review of the occupation layers of the city of York in England shows how many different civilizations have recognized the advantages of the confluence of the rivers there. Below the foundations of York Minster lie those of an earlier church from the early medieval period, with foundations of homes and businesses under that, then storage areas from the Viking era of occupation, several buildings from the Roman fortress of Eberacum (most notably the administration building), and underneath all a round bothie houseplace from Bronze-era Britain. That the original Brandy Hall mill was built on the foundations of its Dķnedain predecessor seemed both logical and romantic.
The influence of mold growing as a result of the flood leading to respiratory illness is consistent with real life, as is the damage flood water can do to masonry, plasterwork, and woodwork.
In The Kingís Commission Iíd written that Rose Gamgee/Gardner was born the same day as the royal Princess Melian, the first child born to the King Aragorn Elessar and the Queen Arwen Undomiel. In wanting to send pictures to Sam to honor him being elected Mayor of the Shire I was modeling after the hundreds of children Iíve worked with over the years who have done similarly to adults theyíve loved.
Brendi Brandybuck and Bard Took, as two cousins with quite different experiences with Frodo Baggins over the years who yet in the end developed a deep love and respect for him, have appeared in several of my stories, particularly since The Ties of Family. That their mutual caring for Frodo would lead to a similar vision of Sam as seen through the green worrystone again seemed proper.
I hope all enjoy this story, and hope you will check out a few of the others Iíve written as well. And I hope all will forgive its relative shortness. I just found this one wasnít inclined to drag on to a hundred chapters. Rejoice that this is so.