West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Washday
Marigold Gamgee has a thing or two to say about the recent goings-on up at Bag End...
Author: Adrienne
Rating: PG-13

 

To say I weren't fair shocked by what I seen last washday would cast quite a clod upon my honor, as my Gaffer says. Now I'm right sure that I weren't half as shocked as I ought to've been, so mayhap I haven't any honor. If the whimsy takes me, I shall tell Tom, and he'll kiss my hair and say I'm a blasted sight worse than that brother of mine. And then I'll tilt my head back with nary a blink and we'll get about further clodding my honor. What my Gaffer don't know can't hurt him, like he says.

Now Tom don't come about on washday. He ain't like dear Sam, helping when the fancy takes him, or if he's seen I got too much on my hands, what between us and Mr. Frodo. The Master don't make all that much laundry hisself, mind, but what garb he has got is as dainty as thistledown. All them velvets, fine weaves. One day I wondered to myself what strange whereabouts he must have got them from, and Sam said, Hush you, t'aint your business, how Mr. Frodo goes about dressing. And I said, Well Sam, is it yours? Lo and dandy if he ain't gone red as one of my Gaffer's beets, and I ain't pushed it none since. That got me wondering.

I said to myself, Marigold Gamgee, you keep an eye out, as there's something afoot, and 'twixt eyes and feet, why, there's plenty. So I started watching. I watched the both of them as well as I were able, if you understand. Mostly I watched Sam, but that's plain sense. I saw him come home evenings looking as if he'd been all day at market pining for a lass next stall over, as if there weren't a thing he could do about it, neither. I remember telling May she got like that once over the Chubb lad that comes up from Bywater, and she near boxed my ears. So I ain't said much since, but I've growed up some. I think it instead.

Watching Mr. Frodo, now, that's hard. Harder than it's worth, considering Sam's as plain to read as that banner Mr. Bilbo set out on the party field, if only I knew my letters. Sam knows his, though; 'twas Mr. Bilbo that taught him. Mr. Frodo, too, I reckon, but he were younger then. Not but that he ain't young now, all fine and fair of face as never a hobbit under the Hill was before, says my Gaffer.

Sometimes he's out while Sam does the clipping, perched on the gate or curled up in the shade with a book in his lap and a pipe in his hand. He's got graceful hands, that Mr. Frodo. Passing by on days like that, it's what I notice. Sam's are rough, rougher than mine, sun-colored and sure of hold. He ain't never dropped those clippers, even when I'd shout Halloo! with a mind to scare him silly. Mr. Frodo dropped his pipe once, though, and Sam were close enough to fetch it with some sorry mumble that made Mr. Frodo chuckle as he waved to me. Glory and trumpets, if Sam didn't just give me a look nigh as cold as Dad's when he's woke too early on Sunday! Well, I wish I hadn't been no better than Sam with his own way of blushing. If I'd kept watching rather than scurry home all in a fool's fluster, then I might've caught more, if you take my meaning.

So much of seeing the same things over and over, that's enough to make a lass wonder if she ain't just imagining things. I finally decided I was. I took to ignoring Sam's mooncalf looks and Mr. Frodo's steady lingering at his window. You'd think it were ordinary, that sort of thing. It's easier that way. Besides, Sam and Mr. Frodo have got to be friends over the years. Since my Gaffer keeps minding Sam of his place and telling me about what strange, minglesome gentry them Bagginses are, well, my denying what I'd seen plain as day came right easy. Too easy, I reckon, because Sam's mooncalf looks sure didn't go nowhere, and neither did Mr. Frodo at his window.

Summer's turned the trees over to fall, and the weather's been a mite colder. Sam ain't got much reason for staying up at Bag End after hours now that all but the bulbs have given up leaf and shoot, but he don't come home much earlier than dusk, and sometimes not at all. Mayhap poor Mr. Frodo's getting up in years after all, I said to myself. Maybe he ain't as spry as his queer old uncle, wherever he's gone off to. My Gaffer tuts and gives me looks, so I quiet myself. He ain't said much these days, poor Dad. Especially not to Sam, though I know for a fact he's tried once or twice. Sam ain't said much, neither. Especially not to me, though I've tried once or twice to pry it out of him.

Last week weren't such a good one, seeing as I tried Thursday afternoon while he was home for luncheon and nigh made enough of a fuss to wake Dad from his napping. You've had better notions than that, Marigold Gamgee, I scolded myself after seeing Sam out the door in a huff. You'd best get up there to Bag End and collect the washing and say you're sorry by and by. So I finished scrubbing the pots and clearing the last night's ashes and got myself out the door with an empty basket on my hip. No Tom on washday, but a lass can never be too sure. Mayhap sometime he'll change his mind.

Mr. Frodo leaves the back entrance open Thursdays so I can collect his linens and such. All neat and piled he leaves them, there at the end of that winding hall. I look up it sometimes, and it fair makes my head swim. How Sam learned his way through them smials, I'll surely never guess. For building a hole, I can't say as I'd trust a Baggins. Too complicated-like.

So I trudged up the hill practicing my best forgive-me face, and before I knew it there was Mr. Frodo's front gate a-swinging unlatched in the wind. It gave me a fair smack on the bottom going in; I reckon that about ruined me for looking sorry. I'd end up saying summat about that saucy gate, more like. I chewed on my lip and kept walking, scuffing Sam's nice-kept grass between my toes. That grass ain't Sam's, I minded myself. Neither's that gate.

I was more like to laugh than aught when I got to the back door. The knob didn't creak under my hand like last time. Sam must've took some oil to it. The hall were all dark and cool as evening soon to be falling. I stood there a moment as I pleased, taking in the smell of meat pie just begun to cook. Sam must've gone to the butcher's afore he returned to Bag End. I stepped inside, and there was Mr. Frodo's washing, no more than usual, no less. A heap of bed linens, a tangle of breeks and weskits. A few wrinkled shirts and underthings. I set my basket down and tossed those in first, then the tangled breeks. And as I was reaching for the linens next, I took quite a scare.

Now it's not that I ain't never considered Mr. Frodo taking a lover. I'm blushing to my eartips just saying it, but that's the right truth. It's occurred to me that a bachelor hobbit must get lonely. Thank the stars he's got my brother if no one else, I always said, and got more clucking from my Gaffer. Anyway, I knew what I was hearing. I've suppose I've heard it once or twice, and not the worst it gets. Leastaways from what May says.

I got myself composed again and stood up, trying to get around the fact I'd heard a moan plain as day from the Master's bedchamber, and oughtn't I get out of there while the getting was sure? Well, I had to wonder if Sam were hearing it from the kitchen. I also minded myself I still owed him an apology, elsewise he'd stew all evening with Mr. Frodo's meat pie. Bother. And best of all, getting to him would mean slipping through that twisting snake of a hall. I've had better ideas in my day, like I said. I left the wash right there and crept up that hall as quiet as you please.

I've considered Mr. Frodo taking a lover, I truly have, but it weren't such that I'd ever expected I'd be hearing it. No more than I expected I'd be creeping up that hall with the wash left well behind. It weren't moans no more, more like a whimper every now and again, a wince. Getting closer every step, just like Mr. Frodo's bedchamber. There weren't any doubt by the time I rounded that bend, not a one. Those were loving-sounds or I'd been swallered by a snake for sure.

I froze on a sharp cry just past the bedchamber door. It were Mr. Frodo's voice from the sound of things, and I'd certainly heard no lass. Me, I'm quiet as they come, Tom reckons, and I've done swatted him for that, because he we ain't done nigh what it might take to warrant such a fuss, if you understand me. He went all red at that and muttered something about proper courting. That's my Tom.

I'm not much for being over-curious where I oughtn't, not like Sam. He's done learned hisself some elf-talk as a result. It's pretty enough, but I don't catch a word. Sounds like the ones I was hearing, well, they ain't elf-talk, and they don't take much to decipher. Mr. Frodo seemed to like whatever his company were up to. I had to wonder what that might be, to make a lad carry on so. Tom ain't much for it, not much more than me. Again, we ain't done that much improper. Just improper enough. I'd like to know what makes a lad moan like that, I thought. So I know for next time.

I stepped a little closer to the door, but that didn't help much. Mr. Frodo had gone all quiet again, but I could hear other sounds now, soft-like. Hard breathing, plenty of rustling. Clothes or bed linens, I thought, blushing again. That gate were the farthest thing from my thoughts now, and laughing along with. I felt all flushed with a tingle, least of all because Sam might come trodding along and catch me by the ear. I reached and set two fingers nice and easy-like on the door to brace myself and leaned a bit more. Mayhap I'd be able to tell--

I'd more than be able to tell, all right. The door swung in enough that I could see, quiet as you please!

Now I'm telling you, there's not a word in all Mr. Bilbo's books for a lass finding her brother half out of his clothes and kissing a gentlehobbit more than half out of his. Them rustles had been clothes all right, and linens, too. Mussed up left and right, what with the way those two was squirming about trying to undress. If that weren't bad enough, Sam went and picked that split second to go and let Mr. Frodo know just how much he liked where his fine hands was going, which was farther south than I cared to see. Mr. Frodo choked some reply with the words love and wonderful to see you smile, but I had already took off at a run. You mind that you're gentle with him, Frodo Baggins, and Sam Gamgee, so help me Lady if you forget about that pie--!

Fair out of breath I was for having dashed right back to the washing, and I shoved it all in my basket in a hurry. I ain't never gotten home so fast in my life, not from Bag End or nowhere. My Gaffer was chopping taters and coney for stew when I stumbled through the kitchen, and I hadn't much mind for answering some question he asked that I couldn't remember a heartbeat later. I got the wash out back and dropped it on the grass and just stared.

Come washday, I ain't so shocked no more, if you understand me. Tom ain't so quiet no more, neither. And he said next week he reckons he might just come on Thursday.

 

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