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42
A Treasure Unearthed

“Frodo-lad, look at this!” Bilbo said coming in with a large bundle, where the tween was hunched over a book he was not reading. “I was cleaning out one of my wardrobe rooms, meaning to get rid of some old things that don't fit anymore...and here this was. I've not the vaguest idea how it got there, or where it came from.”

“Let me see,” Frodo said sitting up straight. Bilbo laid the huge leather folder on the desk before him as Frodo laid the book beneath.

The folder was full of pictures, but not ordinary pictures. In fact, they looked exact images of real folks, rather than drawings or paintings. Many of them seemed to go far back, some showing evidence of much handling.

“This is my mother when she was a girl,” Bilbo said softly. “I know it. And here she is with her sisters...your grandmother, and my aunts. What bonny lasses they were. And here's your mother when she was just a wee thing...did you ever see a lovelier child? And here she is holding you when you were a babe, in the garden. How happy she looks, and what merry eyes you had!”

“How extraordinary!” Frodo exclaimed several times, as he picked up one picture after another. “This one must be you, Bilbo. Yes, I know it is! It's delightful to see how your mother looked...besides in that picture over the mantel, that is. She looks so wonderfully naughty, I would love to have known her. I can see where you get that wicked streak of yours, although you look the most like your father. And my grandmother Mirabella...she was so beautiful, even more than my mother. I barely remember her, since I was only about four years old when she died. Mum and Dad did have one drawing of her, but if this is how she really looked, it didn't begin to do her justice. I think Amaryllis might have grown up to look like her, don't you? Just a feeling I have. And these...why, look, it's Mum and Dad on their wedding-day! These are so realistic, it's positively uncanny. They all look as though they might speak, or wink, or laugh....Who could have made these?”

And then his eyes and Bilbo's met, and a slow smile spread over each of their faces, until it seemed they might have been mirror images of each other, had their features and ages been more similar.

“Of course,” they both mouthed simultaneously, as they came across a large picture of a very lovely lady, with hair of three different colors, and a little flower beneath her right eye.





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