Author's Chapter Notes:
I often dream of hobbits, but it's very, very rare that any of those dreams turn into actual stories. Mostly they don't make any sense at all when I wake up and actually think about them.
But last night I had this dream, and it worked out quite beautifully, as I dreamed of this little scene with Sam and one of his children. It needed very little embellishment to turn it into a real story.
I also had fun making a little illustration to go with it.
Sam the Turtle Goes to Mordor
Sam sighed and looked out the study window with longing. On such a fair day as this, he longed to be out in the garden with Frodo-lad, with his own hands in the dirt. But that would have to wait till these letters were done. Well, when this one to the new Head of the Goodbodies was done, he'd give himself a small reward and write his letters to the Thain and the Master next. It was still in the line of his mayoral duty, but at least his letters to Pippin and Merry could be plain and friendly-like. He didn't have to be so cautious and formal with them, anyhow.
The soft tapping low down on his study door was a welcome intrusion. It had to be Robin. Tommy was still young enough that he did not remember to knock.
He turned with a smile. "Come in, Robby!"
The door cracked open carefully, tiny fingers appearing at the edge, before a curly head followed. Robin's brown eyes were wide with astonishment. "How did you know it was me, Sam-Daddy?"
Sam gave a little cough to hide his amusement. Wouldn't do to give away his secrets. "Well, dads just know these things sometimes."
Robin rushed in, a bit of slightly crumpled paper in one chubby little hand, and presented himself to be lifted up to his father's knee. Sam plopped him in his lap and said, "What brings you here, Robin-a-Bobbin'?" His children had never been forbidden to interrupt him when he was busy with his mayoral duties, but such interruptions were supposed to be only for things of importance. For the youngest of his brood, however, the definition of "important" was rather nebulous. Robin grinned and thrust out the paper he held.
The scrap of cheap paper that Rose-lass used for her younger brothers' and sisters' lessons was somewhat crumpled and smudged from the charcoal sticks used to write upon it. At six, Robin was still a bit too young to be learning his letters, but when his sister Ruby started, he insisted he was old enough, too.
Sam took the paper and looked at it. Thirteen children had taught him not to make wild guesses. There was an arrangement of several rather wobbly circles. One had a couple of dots in it and a curved line, so it must have been a face of some sort and the largest of them in the center had a childish approximation of the letters S-A-M, more or less. He didn't think it was supposed to be his own portrait, but he would not risk hurting the child's feelings if it was.
"Oh! So, tell me about this, then, son."
Robin took it back, and in smoothing it, succeeded in smudging it a bit more. He held it up and looked at it happily. "It's Sam the Turtle." He looked up at his father seriously. "I named him after you."
"So I see." Sam tried to keep his smile neutral, conveying interest and approval, rather than amusement.
"Yes. He's Sam the Turtle, and he is going to Mordor."
Now Sam blinked in surprise. While he did tell the younger children some of the tales from the Red Book, he tried to avoid the parts about Mordor. He usually waited until they approached their tweens before he began to tell them of those harsher parts of the story.
"Mordor?" He asked.
Robin nodded. "Yes, sir. See, I heard Merry and Pippin and Fam and Goldie the other day. They were talking about it. Fam said Uncle Pippin told him that Mordor did not have any food to eat or good water to drink. Merry and Pippin and Goldie said they knew that. They were saying how you and Uncle Frodo didn't have anything to eat or drink, and you must've been awful hungry and thirsty."
Sam felt tears spark behind his eyes, and blinked them away. He sighed. "Yes, Robin, it's true that near the end there, there wasn't any food or water left." He would have to have a few words with Merry-lad, Pippin-lad and Goldie about little pitchers and big ears. They should have known Robin was within earshot-- Faramir Took was another matter. He'd never had to worry about younger brothers and sisters, as he was the youngest of Pippin's brood. He supposed he might mention it to Pippin though, the next time he saw him.
Robin patted his father on the arm. "But that's all right. See, Sam the Turtle, he can carry some water and some food on his back, and take it to you there," he said seriously.
The mental image of a large turtle with a pitcher of water and a sack of food upon its back steadily walking alongside his Master and himself through the parched land suddenly intruded upon his thoughts, and the incongruity of it made him laugh aloud.
"Is it funny, Daddy?" Robin looked up at his father, uncertain of the joke.
Sam gave him a fierce hug. "No, it's not funny, Robin-lad, but it makes me very happy to think of, and that makes me laugh. I wish that your Uncle Frodo and I did have a Sam the Turtle with us then! It's a very good idea, and I can't think why we didn't think of it at the time."
"That's all right, Daddy. I'm sure you had lots of other things to think of then." He held out the picture again. "Do you want to keep Sam the Turtle?"
Sam took it carefully. "Thank you very much, Robin. I will keep him and he'll make me smile."
Robin leaned into his father's embrace, and then turned his face up to kiss Sam's cheek. Sam returned the kiss on top of Robin's unruly brown curls.
"I will go now, Sam-Daddy, so you can finish your Mayor stuff. But I thought Sam the Turtle was important."
"Yes, he was, Robby. Thank you very much."
His son padded out, closing the door carefully behind him. Sam watched with a grin, and turned to look at the picture again. Next time he found himself dreaming of the Black Land, he'd just think of good old Sam the Turtle...
Sam the Turtle Goes to Mordor