The First Four
The third time that morning that Rosie had to call her eldest child to the table, she confessed to Sam that she was a bit worried. He just smiled indulgently across the room at Elanor. His daughter’s golden curls seemed turned to golden flames in the dawn’s light that came in through the window, and her furry feet were curled beneath her on the cushions.
It was all right, he reassured Rosie. He’d remind Elanor to eat first breakfast, just as he’d often done for Mr. Frodo when his master had been lost in some tale or other. Whatever book that Aragorn had sent in the last package from Minas Tirith had drawn her in with something exciting.
He really couldn’t complain – he’d been scolded himself more than once when he was a boy, by his Da, when Frodo had been translating some elven tale of adventure. Sometimes you just plain forgot you were in the Shire.
“Don’ want to…” The faunt’s whine was muffled by the blankets on his bed.
“Shhhh…mum and da are still asleep, Fro’!” Rosie-lass shook her older brother’s shoulder, none too gently.
“Rosie! Stop th…” Sitting up so abruptly that his sister was thrown sideways to land on the other end of the bed, Frodo-lad’s eyes opened wide. “Oh! Is it today already?”
“Aye, it is! Uncle Legolas is meeting us at the hill after second breakfast and we should get ready now so we can fly the kite he made and…”
“I’m awake, truly I am.” Frodo-lad insisted, shaking his head in exasperation. “It’s still dark out, silly. No one else is up yet, but the breeze looks as though it will be just right.”
Laughing, the young hobbit picked his sister up and hoisted her up on his shoulders. “Then let’s sneak into the kitchen. I’ll bet I can make us a good first breakfast, then.”
“I think it fits, Da.” Rosie lass murmured, and patted the dirt around the seedlings carefully with one small hand. “Does it have enough room to grow if I put it here?”
Indulgently, Sam nodded at his dirt-smudged daughter. “Aye, it does. You got up early to help me make this garden for you, so you can choose. And there’s room enough to add your wren.”
She shrieked with a delight that made her father hide a wince, and dashed back to the hole. Sam shook his head, smiling, and went about setting the little fence around the plot she’d picked for her first garden.
“I’ve got it!” Running back to him, Rosie-lass fell to her knees. She was cradling a carved stone wren in her lap. It had arrived, to much excitement, in a set of packages from Gimli: one for each child at Bag End, of course. She’d unwrapped it that evening by the fire, marveling at the smooth and shining stone…it was so well carved that it seemed about to quiver and fly, which was odd for something made of heavy stone.
“Where shall it go, then?” Sam asked her.
After much serious contemplation, the little hobbit reached over the short fence and set the statue down just beside a patch of newly-planted primroses. “Here, Da. It looks right.”
“So it does,” he agreed proudly. “So it does, my dear.”
With a fairly loud whoop, Merry-lad plunged down the embankment toward the river.
His bare feet slid and slipped in the mud, which squished nicely between his toes.
“Ho, lad. Careful there…” his uncle called out. “Don’t want to drop the pole before you’ve begun to fish for the first time.”
“I won’t, Uncle Mer.” He could hear the older hobbit coming more carefully down the hill behind him, whistling a soft tune.
“Now, just here seems a good spot this morning.”
“Why’d we have to rise so early? Mum wasn’t even awake yet.”
Uncle Merry grinned at him. “But that’s half the fun, you see. Getting up ahead of everyone else. And to answer your question, the fish are more likely to be where we want this time of morning.”
“I want,” Merry-lad said proudly, “to bring a really big fish home for Mum to cook for dinner, all my ownself.” He skidded to a halt at the water’s edge. It seemed bigger this close, and he shivered a little at the sight of how swiftly the river ran.
“Merry-lad?” His uncle put a hand on his shoulder, looking down at him from a height that the young hobbit aspired to reach someday.
“It…it’s big. And fast.”
The hand tightened comfortingly and gave him a little affectionate shake. “Well, it is that, I’ll agree. Do you know how to swim?”
Merry-lad shook his head. “No. I’ve heard the stories you and Da and Uncle Pippin tell about your journey on the river, but we’ve not much cause to be near one at Bag End.”
“Well, then, we shall have to remedy that. If the Master of Buckland is going to have a namesake, lad, then both should have Buckland skills.”
Looking up at the older hobbit’s kind face, Merry-lad grinned back. “And I’ll know something new before my brother!” And he wasn’t ever sure why Merry chose that moment to burst into laughter.