/The events in this story take place in the year 1427 by the Shire Calendar./

Samwise Gamgee, newly elected mayor of Hobbiton, was sitting at his kitchen table after dinner with his wife Rose when little Elanor posed the question.

“Daddy, what’s this book?”

Sam looked down fondly at his six-year-old daughter, before considering the book she held up to him. The smile became a bit wistful as he took the large red book from her, turning it over in his hands.

“Well now Elanor, this is a very special book,” he began, and then stopped, struggling to find the words to tell his daughter how special it really was. Six years had passed since Mr. Frodo had left Middle Earth, and nine since their quest began. Those six were happy, full years that lessened painful memories and strengthened joyful ones. Elanor interrupted his thoughts. “Can this be our new storybook?”

Sam glanced at his wife. Almost every night he would read to the children before they went to bed. Rose placed her hand on his. She had also recognized the book immediately; after asking her husband where he had gone the year before their marriage, he had showed her parts of it. “It’s time for them to learn their history,” Rose said simply.

Sam kissed her and rose from his chair. Swinging Elanor into the air and down again, he sent her off. “Bring your brother and sister into the library,” he called after her. Sam immediately regretted saying so however, as Elanor began shouting at the top of her little lungs, “FRODO! ROSIE!” He winced as the baby began wailing, and looked apologetically to his wife.

Rose laughed. “I’m sure Merry’s hungry anyway,” she reassured him. “Good,” said Sam as he stacked the dishes. “What respectable hobbit babe wouldn’t be?”

* * *

A few minutes later, Sam was leaning back in his chair, the baby on his lap and the book in his hands. Mrs. Gamgee had picked up her knitting, and the children gathered pillows into the center of the room. A fire crackled on the hearth, and everyone was caught in a wonderful feeling of anticipation. For a moment though, Sam only looked at the book’s red cover. He was remembering something said long ago, in a much darker place.

‘I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say, “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!”‘

Sam smiled to himself. ‘And here is the book’, he thought. It was only left to read it. He took a deep breath, and began, still with that small smile on his face: “The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King, by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins of the Shire…”

* * *

So began many nights with the red book upon Sam’s lap. Spring gave way to summer, and summer turned to fall, before the story was all told. Across mountains and plains, forests and rivers they journeyed, and back again; dark creatures, great kings, and simple folk defending their homes, all was relived.

Several times in the course of the telling, Sam would falter as he reached something that brought back particularly disturbing memories. Rose would nod him on, and he would continue, although he invariably passed over sections where Frodo praised his bravery. The younger children often fell asleep before a chapter was finished, but Elanor’s interest never lagged. Though the names were long and the places strange, she showed an understanding of the chronicle that Sam found surprising.

On the night the last chapter was read, Elanor and Sam finished the book by themselves. The other children were tired out from the wedding party of Mr. Peregrin Took and Miss Diamond of Long Cleeve, (which had begun six hours ago and had not yet finished), and Rose was putting them to bed. Elanor had learned to read that fall, and insisted on reading the last page, written in Sam’s own square hand. Her light head bent by Sam’s dark one, she followed his callused finger across the page, slowly sounding out the passing of elves and wizards into the West.

“Daddy, why are there more pages with no words?” Elanor asked, turning over the last leafs. “Well, if anything important happens, say with kings or dwarves or elves, I’m to write it down.” Thinking the conversation was over, and seeing his daughter about to fall off the chair with sleepiness, he picked her up and started toward her room. But before he had taken a step her head was up again: “So the story’s not over?”

Looking at his daughter, a fear he was not aware he had was laid to rest.

The remembrance of the two Ringbearers would be kept alive, for Sam was sure that when the time came for him to pass the red book on, his Elanor would read it to her children, and they to theirs. Perhaps someday, when Hobbits were so long forgotten as to be unheard of, one of the race of men would come. A man who would dust off the worn cover and present the tale anew, to be eagerly read by a world tired of wars fought for no reason, and weary of metal and wheels.

These images flashed through Sam’s mind, appearing and returning from where he knew not. He looked down at Elanor, still waiting for an answer. “No, stories never end, lass,” he said tenderly. “Only people come, and go, when their parts are over. So someday, this will be your story too.” Sam carried her out, and the book sat on a table, waiting to be opened again.

* * *

The words in bold are from the book ‘Two Towers’ by J.R.R. Tolkien

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