Title: The Swamp Troll
Author: Claudia AND Trianne's daughter
Summary: A moment of friendship between Frodo and Sam (as well as Merry and Pippin), in the time just after Frodo came to live at Bag End.
It was late March and the first signs of spring could be seen blossoming around the Shire. Deep ocean blue, lush green, scarlet and yellow flowers littered the landscape.
Hiding amongst a cluster of giant sycamores sat a fair hobbit, young in age and innocent, lost in a world far from his own. His nose was buried deep in an old book, worn from being read countless times, both to himself and aloud to his younger cousins. The book told tales of distant adventures in fantasy lands and past heroics of different races, such as the dwarves and the Elves. And also of fantastical creatures of horror, like goblins and giant spiders. Frodo Baggins was very like his Uncle Bilbo, with whom he had recently gone to live. He loved listening to his Uncle's stories and he often dreamed of one day going on his own adventure, very unusual for a hobbit!
Another of Bilbo's fans came trundling through a nearby field and caught Frodo's eye. Smiling, Frodo called out to Sam Gamgee, who made his way over to see his friend. Sam was a little younger than Frodo but they were good friends, sharing a deep respect and admiration for each other, even from such a young age. Although Sam enjoyed listening to Bilbo's tales, and he longed to visit the Elves in Rivendell, his true passion was gardening, which he inherited from his father, the Gaffer.
Sam sat down next to Frodo and started admiring some newly-opened flowers. "Why do you always come up here, Mister Frodo?" he asked.
"It gives me time to think and read, Sam," replied Frodo. "It's so peaceful here-"
At that moment, two hobbits came bursting out of the hedge and bounded over to join Frodo and Sam. These two were laughing so hard they were almost crying.
"Did you see his face?" Merry said, falling down next to his cousin Frodo. Pippin fell down in a heap next to Sam and giggled.
"What you done this time?" Sam said, not entirely sure he wanted to know the answer.
“Oh, dear,” Frodo said, giggling. “Hobbiton will never be the same now that these two have come to visit. What did you do?”
“Lotho Sackville-Baggins was skipping stones on the lake,” Pippin said, still breathless with laughter.
“I told them all about what happened last week,” Frodo whispered to Sam.
“Oh,” Sam said, nodding, his chubby face flushed with indignation. “Well if it’s against him you used your mischief, then good for you.” He crossed his arms.
Not many weeks ago, on only the second day after Frodo arrived in Hobbiton, he left Bag End to take a walk. In Buckland he had always wandered freely, and now he had a whole new village and surrounding land to explore. He had not walked far, when Lotho and three of his friends surrounded Frodo. Lotho was older and bigger, and he and his friends looked ready for a fight.
“What do you want?” Frodo asked.
“So here’s the new Mad Baggins,” Lotho told his friends, and they all snickered. “His cousin’s cracked, you know.” He twirled his finger near his head and rolled his eyes, and they all laughed again.
“Leave me be,” Frodo said. “I’m just taking a walk.”
“Aww…” Lotho sneered. “He’s just taking a walk.”
“Buzz off!” called a shrill voice, and Frodo turned in surprise to find little Sam, the Gaffer’s young son, with his hands on his hips. He looked as grouchy as his old dad did after a saucy hobbit lad stole from his garden. “You leave Mr. Frodo alone.”
“You best mind your place, Sammy,” Lotho said, wagging a warning finger in front of Sam’s face. “Or I’ll tell the Gaffer you don’t know how to act around your betters. Then he’ll have Bilbo feed you to those dragons in his tales.”
The boys laughed, nearly choking from it, clinging to one another.
“Better yet,” one of Lotho’s friends cut in. “He’ll send you off to Gandalf the wizard and he’ll turn you into a spotted toad and put you in a yard full of snakes!”
Little Sam – so brave for stepping in as he had, now looked frightened and unsure of himself. Frodo mustered all his courage and tried to look as stern as he had seen Bilbo do on occasion, and he said, “It is you that know nothing about how to act around your betters. Sam is worth a whole pack of you. And Gandalf’s coming next week.” Frodo did not know this, but he hoped it would come true. “I bet I could tell him to turn the whole lot of you into toads….or snakes,” Frodo finished lamely.
Lotho and his friends walked away, snickering, leaving Frodo with the distinct feeling that his threat had rattled them very little.
He had all but forgotten about that ugly incident when his cousins came to visit not too many weeks later.
Pippin leaned forward, flushed with excitement. “Do you remember that tale Bilbo told us about creatures that live in the swamps and rivers? Big lizard-like animals with sharp teeth that would have a hobbit for a morning snack?”
“All-i-ga-tors,” Frodo said. “These are real animals, but they don’t live in the Shire.”
Merry giggled and began to chant,
Five little hobbits swinging from the trees,
teasing Mr. Alligator, can’t catch me
Along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
And SNATCHED a hobbit right out of the tree…
Four little hobbits swinging from the trees…*
“May I finish?” Pippin asked.
Sam was sitting cross-legged, listening in adoration to the older hobbits as they bantered with one another.
Merry made his two arms like the jaws of an alligator and smacked them together, making Sam jump and squeal with delight. “Go on,” he said.
“So,” Pippin continued. “Merry and I mashed some clay and grass together and made it look like the head of one of those creatures. And you know the lake’s not at all deep right there where Lotho likes to skip stones. And there’s that group of boulders right there. Well, Merry had me put this clay and grass mask on my head and wade in the water. I could see through a few holes in it, but I’ll never forget how foul that mask smelled! I waded around the boulders, keeping everything but my head underwater so that all that could be seen was the mask.”
“You didn’t!” Frodo said. He met Sam’s happy gaze.
“And there Lotho was,” continued Pippin, “skipping stones, probably thinking wicked thoughts. I could feel the mask falling apart in the water and so I knew I didn’t have much time. So I growled a little. And he saw me – or, I should say, the mask, floating on the water. Oh, Frodo, you should have seen him scream like a lass and bolt right out of there! Oh, I’ll never forget it!”
Sam grinned, his arms still crossed.
“Oh, I do wish I’d been there!” Frodo said.
“The only thing that would have made it better,” Merry added, “would have been if he’d been taking a swim without his clothes!”
Frodo shrieked with laughter, falling over on his side, hitting the ground with his fists until he could not breathe.
“It’s one of the best we’ve come up with,” Pippin said with a mischievous grin.
“I’ll say,” Merry said.
“I’ll bet he won’t go skipping stones there anymore,” Pippin said with a grin.
“And he won’t be tormenting me…or my friend Sam anymore,” Frodo said with sudden tenderness, cuffing Sam gently across the cheek. Sam beamed.
Merry yawned. “It must be time for a second luncheon or at least tea. What do you suppose Bilbo will have baked today?”
Frodo’s mouth watered at the possibilities. “Tarts or maybe scones with cream. Or maybe even seedcake. He’s very fond of seedcake. Come on, let’s go see.”
Sam looked hesitant all the sudden. “The Gaffer will be wondering where I’ve got to.”
“You’re with me,” Frodo said. “He won’t mind.”
Bag End smelled delicious with baking, just as the young hobbits had hoped.
“Just in time for a meal,” Bilbo said laughing. “Why does that not surprise me?” He hugged Frodo. “What have you rascals been up to? And Samwise Gamgee, I’m glad you’re along to keep them in line! Go on now and sit down at the table.”
“That he does,” Frodo said with a grin toward Sam. The young hobbits sat at the table, stomachs growling.
“By the way,” Bilbo said, suddenly looking suspicious. “Old Lobelia came marching up here demanding I not fill her son with any more outlandish tales. It seems her son has been seeing things over on the lake.”
“Seeing things?” Merry asked innocently. “Like what?”
Frodo covered his mouth to avoid a giggle from escaping.
“A swamp monster in the lake. An all-i-ga-tor. Can you believe it?”
The young hobbits could not help but burst into giggles.
“Imagine…” Bilbo took a puff of his pipe. “In the Shire… Perhaps in far Harad…But in the Shire? Ridiculous! And certainly not in spring. Ah, what a lovely spring it is, too. Can you smell the blossoms?”
But Merry had begun to chant, “Five little hobbits swinging from the trees…”