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45
Keepsake

“Frodo-lad,” Samwise said a few days before he was to depart for the Havens, “there's something I need before we go.”

“And what would that be, Sam-dad?” his son asked him, as he paused in packing his father's valise.

“The Tree on the hill,” Sam said coughing a little. “Have you, at times, by any chance seen a bit of light coming from it of nights?”

Frodo smiled a little. “You mean the prism, dad?”

“Aye, lad, exactly,” Sam chuckled in relief. At his age, explaining things took a lot out of him any more. “Is there some way you can get it down for me?”

“You mean to take it with you then, dad?”

“Aye, I do. It's what I've heard Mister Frodo's voice from. She put it there, long ago—his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandmum, I mean. It was her last gift to me. I need to have it with me on the ship. I dread the very thought of crossing the waters without ever hearing his voice. Perhaps you could take a long pole and knock it out for me? I know of no one's got a ladder high enough to reach.”

“I don't know of how I'd find a pole long enough either,” Frodo-lad said with twinkling eyes. “But I'll think of something. Tomorrow morning I'll look into it.”

“I've an idea,” his son Holfast said as he came in the door just then. “I'll throw a rock at it. I can throw a stone clear into the next farthing.”

Sam laughed. “I bet you could, at that. Well, you could try it, my lad. But not tonight. In the morning, when you might see better.”

Yet in the morning, Sam said he had changed his mind.

“I'd best leave it here for the rest of you,” he said. “Then mayhap you can hear my voice. I can make do without.”

There was a clamor of protests, but Sam held firm, and at last he was ready to go.

After father and son had returned to Bag End, Holfast went out to the garden every evening and sat on the bench, waiting to hear his granddad's voice. This he did for several weeks.

One evening he got restless, and walked around the garden, and then climbed up on the hill, looking up in hopes of seeing the prism. But he could see naught but the stars winking through the branches at him.

The next evening he did the same, and the next. His mum told him to give it up, it was not likely he was going to hear from his granddad, who, she said when his dad was not in the room, was old and perhaps a bit “cloudy” in his mind, and had only imagined he heard Mister Frodo's voice.

And that night he decided perhaps his mum was right, and he did not go out again.

But alone in his room, he could not sleep. He went to the window and looked out, leaning his head on his arms.

If only I could know you was all right, Grandad, he thought. That would be good enough for me.

I'm all right, lad, Sam's voice spoke from outside the window. The boy jerked up his head, looking all around. But he could see nothing outside that had not been there before.

Without even dressing he ran out to the front door and the garden, in his nightshirt, and dashed up the hill. There he saw that gleam of light high up in the tree.

His heart pounding wildly, he plopped down on the ground to listen, and as he did so, he smiled....

This he did for five years...until at last the light went out, and did not come on any more.

A stone was carved and set next to Rosie's grave. There was a large family gathering, with all Sam's sons and daughters and their families standing about. A box had been made, and since there was no body to lay in it, it had been filled with things, objects the grandchildren treasured: old toys, dolls, books, items of clothing, stones, odds and ends of kitchen utensils, various keepsakes that had any connection at all with Sam. Aunt Elanor brought something she and her daughter Firiel had made. A fairy doll. It was too pretty to put in, everyone said. But it was put in anyway, on top of all the other things.

Holfast had meant to put the prism in, and yet when it came his time, he pulled from his vest pocket a handkerchief that had once belonged to his grandfather, and dropped that in instead, right next to the fairy doll. Never mind that it had a wet spot on it. Granddad wouldn't mind.

He hung the prism in his bedroom window, and although it did not speak to him, every so often he would wake to see a soft light gleaming from it, and he would remember his granddad's voice, and all his dreams were pleasant and peaceful for all the nights of his youth. In the daytime he carried it about with him in his vest-pocket, and he was often noted for the tranquility and kindness of his temperament.

And when his own son was born, he hung the crystal in the nursery window so that little Harding might be soothed in the night, and all wondered that he was such a good baby.

But his parents weren't telling.





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