I hope this finds you and your family well. It has been long since our last meeting, and I dearly wish that I might meet with you again soon, for I would love to see you and your charming wife and your delightful children once more before I embark on this mission, but I fear it is not to be. Much of what I am about to tell you will seem very strange, although I dare say you know aught of it already, since you are able to hear your former Master's voice from out of the West by way of his Star-glass. You may rest assured that what he tells you is the truth....
Sam paused to empty his pipe of its ashes, looking up from the letter where he sat on the bench in the garden, to see little Elanor and Frodo-lad playing in the sand-box he had made for them. She was studiously decorating the cakes she had made with wild flowers, while her little brother constructed strange formations, talking to them the while he did so. He heard the cry of his youngest from within the smial and Rosie's voice speak to the babe in soothing notes, and he smelled supper cooking. Pot roast with onions and mushroom gravy, it was, or he was a Bracegirdle from Hardbottle....
Then he returned to reading the letter, which was quite long. His smile turned into a dismayed frown at one point, then to an outright scowl, which dropped into a gape of astonishment, then became a skeptical smirk, resolving itself to a sigh at the last.
...You would scarcely believe what a favorite Sméagol has become in the household, especially with Miss Carrie, who says she does not know what she would do without him sometimes. He does so much to help out about the kitchen and the rest of the house, although she knows his ankle is paining him much of the time, and she can swear Mr. Partridge is looking healthier and stouter, and Nell has gone back to her work at the tavern, which she very much likes. He is popular with the children also, who ask him for stories from his early life, and I am continually astonished at the things he tells. I can read a bit between the lines, and from the things he has told me in confidence I can see why he turned out as he did, more and more, and how the Ring reduced him to a beast-like state. It is a joy to see how his humanity has come back to him. The youngsters have even gone so far as to form a club, of which they have made him president! This was young Chip's idea--he has a mind full of odd notions, that one, and the club is a "secret society" so that Sméagol is not supposed to tell what goes on with it. I suspect they talk of "Gollum" and that Sméagol tells them tales of his former self, although I am sure they do not connect the two entities. I'm not sure I approve of this, but I hesitate to say too much of it just yet. Children take some strange ideas into their heads, most of which are quite harmless I'm sure. If I say aught of it to him, he tells me he was 'sworn to secrecy' and he is not allowed to tell of the activities. I tell myself to allow him a bit of the childhood he was denied in his youth, it is sure to do him good. But aside from that, he has told me everything....
Not so sure as I'd approve of it neither, Sam thought. I wouldn't allow him around MY young uns, and no mistakin'. He's up to somethin', and Mister Radagast ought to catch on. Reckon I should write and tell 'im. I can just imagine the tall tales that rascal told him to catch his sympathies. Pullin' the wool clean over his eyes, I've no doubts....
...Greenjade is learning carpentry skills from Mr. Partridge now, and doing far better at it than poor Sméagol. He made a little wagon for Nell and Miss Carrie to use for the laundry, and it works beautifully, so the ladies are able to take more clothes to the stream with them at a time. He helped to build the new furniture for the bridal couple, and the work went twice as fast as it would have otherwise, and I truly do think Mr. Partridge's health has picked up considerably. One of the children asked him to dance the hornpipe for them, and I had all I could do to prevent him. As it turns out, however, Greenjade is familiar with the dance, and he took a try at it, while Gil played the melody on a three-stringed fiddle, and Nell watched him for a while and then tried dancing with him. She's an excellent dancer, and did it better than he did, and the brothers were much impressed, although I think Mr. Partridge was troubled in his mind. And now he's constructing a cot frame for me so that I don't have to sleep on the floor any more. Think of that! He's proving quite clever with his hands, and does some carving in his spare time, and with practice he should become very good at it, judging from the work he has done so far. And I'm still astonished at how quickly he learned to read and write!
He still has a burning wish for knowledge that will not die. He says that the knowledge he acquired in his previous life was of the wrong sort. It had naught to do with life in reality, he said. This is the sort he should have been pursuing all along, but he had scorned it then. It was "night knowledge" he had sought before, he says, when he should have been seeking "day knowledge." Night knowledge, he explained, has to do with the things that lie at the bottom of the Tower I spoke of, and gives way only to greed, lust, hate, envy, idleness, spite, cruelty, and ultimate destruction and all ugliness. He said day knowledge is of the common folk, whom he once scorned, but this sort of knowledge is of love, joy, beauty, peace, delight, wonder, compassion, and contentment. I think he is oversimplifying things a bit; he seems to think he has it all figured out, at the moment. However, it is wonderful to see him seeking this path leading to the Light. I only hope I can keep him on it. He is hard-headed and proud yet, and even now at times scorns the help of others, thinking he can do it all himself. It's rather like a child who is first learning to be independent, curtly shrugging off his mother's attempts at assistance. Then there's the sticky problem of his reproductive instincts, which duty will compel him to sublimate, perhaps for life. That's the thing that worries me about him now. If only I could help him there, but I know all too well how powerful these urges are in Men, and perhaps more so than most with him. I've a feeling it will be rough going....
He has written a letter and permitted me to send a copy to you so that you might read it to Frodo if you wish. I will be taking the original to the West with me when I go, but Eru only knows when that will be, and I've no way to know if Anemone will even still be alive by that time. I still have not looked at it, myself, so I can only guess at the contents. I ask only that you show it to no one outside of your family.
I am worried that both Greenjade and Sméagol are becoming far too attached to the Partridges, and it will go very hard with them to have to leave. To be truthful, I've become much attached to them myself....
Sam looked at the sealed letter without opening it. Then he picked up another sheet of parchment, which was of the same sort Mister Radagast had used, but the writing was wholly different. It was like a child's hand, big and shaky, all in upper-case letters, and just one page of it, signed "YUR SMEAGOL". "My Sméagol" in a pig's eye, thought Sam, then after a moment, he began reading the actual message.
THIS IS ONELY TO SAY I AM SORY FOR THE WIKID DEEDS I HAS DUN. PLEES TEL MASTRE I REPENTS OF BITIN HIS FINGRE. I AM GLAD THE PRESHIOS IS GON. I AM SORY FOR CALING YU FAT HOBIT AND LEDING YU AND MASTRE TO THE SPIDRES LARE. I AM LERNIN MUCH FRUM BROWN MASTRE BUT AM NOT RITING GOOD YET BUT STIL I HAS TO TEL YU THES THINGS. THAT I AM THANK FULL TO MASTRE FOR GETING US FRUM THAT BAD PLASE. PLEES TO THANKS HIM FOR ME IF YU CAN. I NO IT WIL MAKE HIM HAPY. BROWN MASTRE SED SO AND HE IS ALL WASE RITE. ME AND HIM AND GREEN MAN GOS TO MORDOR WEN MI LEG HEELS TO CLEEN IT. I WIL BE SORY TO LEEV HERE COZ THEY IS GOOD TO ME BUT BROWN MASTRE SES WE MUST GOS AND SO WE GOS.
Sam shook his head once more, though less vehemently than before. I had better write to Mister Radagast, he told himself again. I hope he knows what he's letting himself in for. I just bet that Stinker has told him everything! Now what of this other fellow....
Frodo sat in the shade of his gazebo, smoking his pipe also, watching the grandchildren playing in the garden. His stepsons Northlight, Moonrise, and Ebbtide, along with their elf-sister Raven's brother Guilin and their friend Calanon, were all together on the beach below, playing in the water or wrestling on the sand. Anemone was talking with her eldest daughter Fairwind in the swing on the terrace, no doubt about her upcoming Wedding, along with Fairwind's sisters-in-law Sweetfern and Jasmine. They had recently had a Wedding also, and already they looked and sounded very wise and knowing on the subject. It was only mid-morning yet. Embergold was in the kitchen preparing second breakfast, and Frodo's nose told him to expect cinnamon buns and bacon.
The twins walked with Raven, laughing and chattering...also about the Wedding, obviously, Fairwind having told them she had no idea how such things went and she would leave it up to them to decide what they wanted to wear. The twins were now in light blue, but even as Frodo looked, one of them held out her skirt and suddenly, lo, she was clad in a lovely rose-pink gown of a different style than she had been wearing. Raven gasped as Nightingale turned about for her approval and admiration, and not to be outdone, Gloryfall stood forth in a gown of gold. Frodo chuckled, especially when both twins glanced back from time to time in the direction of Calanon in such a carefully casual manner, then suddenly put back their hair and went back to discussing the dresses with renewed enthusiasm, while Raven gracefully blew a kiss to Northlight.
Then his smallest grandchild, Summershine, came up and climbed onto Frodo's lap, wiggling into place, and he kissed her round pink cheek and held her close, wondering if things could be any better than this....And then he took a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket and looked at it once more, unfolding it awkwardly with one hand and reading what was written on the two pages within.
"How about it, my little sweetling?" he said to the golden-haired toddler in his lap, who looked so as her grandmum must have looked at her age, that he often felt she was the baby daughter he would never have, and yet had. And had the added privilege of spoiling and then sending home to her parents at the end of the day to let them straighten her out so he could spoil her all over again. "Should I read this to your grandmum now? Or wait until after the Wedding? She's got so many things on her mind just now. I just hope I wrote it all down right. I'm sure I missed a thing or two, but I know I got the most important parts. I know it wasn't a dream, for I can tell the difference between dreams and when I truly do hear Sam's voice. According to him, your uncle Greenjade, the one you'll never meet, is now living in Middle-earth as a mortal man, with Sméagol as well, and they are traveling to Mordor with Radagast the Brown. What say you to that?"
"Stowy," Summershine said, reaching for the paper.
"Aye, 'tis a story," Frodo said holding it out of her reach, "but not for little ones. It's for your granddad and grandmum, and for your auntie Fairwind, and for all the others too, I suppose. I met Radagast the Brown once, you know. It was a long time ago, after the Quest, when I was coming home with the others, but I remember him well. It seems he's been put in charge of Greenjade and Sméagol. Well, I've no doubt he'll make a fine guide and teacher for them. Seems already he's been a good influence, and has taught them their letters so they are able to read and write themselves. I did not expect that. I don't know what I expected really, but I just knew I could trust the Powers to see to things, and not to let them just roam about Middle-earth unguided. Looks like he's doing with Sméagol what I wished I could do, but could not. It's good that you're too little to know the story of the...the Ring now, my poppet. Someday you'll know it, although I wish I didn't have to be the one to tell it to you. But it's a tale I'll always carry with me one way or another."
"Buf-fly," Summershine said reaching for a large butterfly that fluttered close from the wisteria that hung from the gazebo roof.
"Aye, 'tis a butterfly indeed," Frodo said smiling. "Do you know what? I think your mum will be giving you a little sister by and by, and I'm guessing she will be named 'Butterfly' also. What think you of that?"
Summershine lit up as if she knew exactly what he was talking about. She was aptly named, and bursts of radiance from her were no unusual occurrence.
Just then Fairwind's groom-to-be, Barathon, came riding up, together with his little nephew Emerion, and Frodo stood up, holding Summershine on his hip.
"I suppose I'll not get a chance to tell my news until nightfall," he said in mock petulance, stuffing the folded paper back into his pocket and smiling as he watched his two eldest grandsons run to meet Emerion, and a beautiful white bird fluttered high over Barathon's head, circling in a downward spiral until it reached the ground before him, whereupon Fairwind suddenly stood there smiling in its place.
How can I thank you for the wonderful news you have tendered?
Yes, I considered waiting until after the Wedding to convey the news, but not for long. I knew I could not keep it to myself for more than a day, let alone for three months! And I knew it would be a comfort to Fairwind, at that; the business with Darkfin being the only damper on her joy. And so it was a comfort. I believe she is perfectly happy now, and Northlight was most thrilled to have good news of his wayward brother, and as for Anemone...I only wish you could have seen her face. It rather seems too good to be true, and you know what they say of that. But I have chosen to believe it. I had never once considered Radagast as a guide; sad to say, I had nearly forgotten him. Well, I've only met him but once, after all, and have scarcely thought of him since I have been living on the Island. I very much hope I live to see him come to his true home, and if I do not, I hope Anemone will live long enough--she says she will go when I do, but I rather doubt she will, with so much to live for, all these wonderful children and grandchildren, and many more to come.
Fairwind said today that she wishes her Wedding to be in the Place of the Bells--that is, the Temple, and I am glad of it. Her brothers had their Weddings on the beach, a double ceremony as I've already told you, very simple and plain. When Barathon suggested the Temple to her at first, she was hesitant, saying it was so huge and holy, it frightened her a little, she felt unworthy to be wed in it after what she had done. And when Embergold suggested the Palace, where Gandalf and Riannor were wed, she said she found it far too overwhelming for "the likes of her." She said she would be wed by the Light-house, where my own wedding was held, as well as so many others. But now that the news of Greenjade has come, she has decided she wishes to be married in the Temple now, and so it is set. The first sea-maid ever to wed an Elf, and in the Temple! And she has re-planned her bridal gown, wishing it to be more elaborate now. She and the twins have gone diving for pearls and beautiful stones to decorate it, and I start to tell them to be careful, then reminding myself there is no need now and laughing. But I said forget the pearls, there is no ornament more beautiful than natural flowers for a bride and those will be much easier to come by, but do you think they are listening to me now?
And I can scarcely stop my feet from dancing sometimes, to see how happy it has made my Anemone. Joy hangs like a chandelier full of a thousand candles about our home. She sings at her work at times--when she is not teaching, that is. She is still teaching her children, and I the grandchildren, and they are coming along beautifully. Even little Summershine wants to get in on it, although she is barely talking yet. She will sit beside her cousin Sandrose, looking in on her book, at times lighting up in that way she has, although I'm sure she can understand nothing of it. I've spoken of having them go to school with the orphans, but they seem shy of the idea yet....
But I digress. Sam, I hope you can see a way to forgive Sméagol now. I'm certain he is not 'up to no good' as you think. At any rate let us hope for the best. I can but pity him, for he will never be as happy as we are, although I am greatly pleased to hear that he is in a place where he is well treated and cared for, and even regarded with affection and respect. Perhaps it's all he really wants, at least for the time being. I think the children are the best things for him at the moment. Well I remember how much good the young ones did me and contributed to my own healing on the Island, and will be forever in their debt. And I know your own are a tremendous comfort and joy to you, Sam. I can scarcely tell you how thankful I am for that, and for the ones in my own keeping here. Hard to believe, at times, that no drop of my blood runs in their veins....