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75
The Call Heard

For Antane for her birthday.


~~~

The Call Heard


Cyclamen Proudfoot looked up from where she played in the dooryard to Number Five, Bagshot Row, to see Samwise Gamgee walking down to the turn in the lane. A bench stood there that Sam had built for his Master to sit upon, and Sam now sat on it himself, his eyes sad as he examined what it was he held between his hands. He wore that grey-green cloak that was so similar to the one that Frodo used to wear. She knew that the other two Travellers also had the same type of cloak and that they often wore them when they came to visit their cousin in Bag End. Not, she knew, that they’d do so again, for a few weeks ago Frodo had ridden away from Hobbiton with Sam as his companion, and a few days ago Sam had returned alone, leading Cousin Frodo’s pony Strider and leaving it along with Sam’s ponies Bill and Berry at the stable at the Ivy Leaf.

She left her doll sleeping in the bed she’d made for it of fallen leaves, blanketed with petals from the rose bushes that grew each side of the door, and pushed her way out of the gate. Quietly she approached the seated figure until she was close enough to set a small hand upon his knee.

“Did he really go on a ship to sail upon the Sea?” she asked.

Sam looked up from his examination of what he held to search her face. “And how did you know as my Master was goin’ by ship?” he asked in return.

“The Elf as brought you the medicine as him needed let me know, and those cousins of his as stay with Mr. Griffo and Missus Daisy said the same. They say as he can’t come back again.”

He nodded slowly and took a deep breath. “And so it is, Miss Proudfoot. Yes, he’s gone now aboard one of the Elven ships, gone with them to Tol Eressea, far, far across the Sea. And, no, he won’t be a-comin’ back home again. That’s to be his home now, there with the Elves as he loves and as loves him. But him’s not the only Hobbit goin’ there, you know. Old Mr. Bilbo is goin’, too. Oh, but old Bilbo will like that fine, I’m certain, to be surrounded by all kinds of Elves. He does love bein’ with Elves, Mr. Bilbo does.”

She nodded thoughtfully, and looked at what he held in his lap. “What’s that?” she asked. “And where did you get it?”

He gave her a small smile. “And what does it look like?”

She examined it closely. “It looks like a snail shell for one of them snails as lives in water, but ever so big!” she said.

He looked down at it, pink and orange and white with a whirly pattern echoed by the bumps on it, and rubbed a finger around and around its pointed end. “We found it on the sand on the shore of the Sea afore we came away. An Elf as was by us in the night while we was comin’ back to the Shire told me that it was a snail shell, but for a big snail as lives in the Sea and eats plants they call kelp and the green slime as grows on rocks in shallower water. He said as it’s told that Lord Ulmo, the Lord of all waters, has his own trumpets, what they calls the Ulumúri, made from these shells, but ones as are big as big, bigger than Hobbits, even. He has the Ulumúri blown to call all his own folk to him when he has need of them, it’s said, or to call those as is to come home to the Undying Lands to sail.”

She reached out to touch one of the blunt bumps, following the swirling line of them with her finger. “Do you think as Cousin Frodo heard them blowin’, then, to make him ride off to the Sea to sail away with the Elves?”

He shrugged, but it wasn’t one of the shrugs that usually meant one was uncertain. “I suppose as he well might of, Miss Cyclamen. I suppose as he did.”

And I’ve heard them, too, blowing for me, he thought. Only it’s not time for me to sail, not yet. But one day I probably shall, and find him again, afore I go on.



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