Bachelors and Babies

„Knock, knock, knock“ the front door of Bag End almost quavered - Frodo looked up from his desk. “ Why don’t you kick in the door right away ?” he murmured. Still grumbling he laid aside his pen and prepared to get up, when he heard that Rosie was already about to answer the short-tempered visitor’s attack to the door. “Hullo Marigold” he heard Rose say – the answer was some incomprehensible blubbering and sobbing. Realizing that he wouldn’t be able to pick up his work again anyway, Frodo stood up and went to the hallway to make out what this was all about.

Rosie stood at the door, holding a trembling and sobbing Marigold firmly by her shoulders. “The cake….only a few minutes….ruined…the dogs….such a mess….she’ll hate me…” “Calm down, dearest, calm down, I can’t understand a word !” After some last sobs and a very loud blowing of the nose Marigold regained enough composure to talk coherently. It turned out that Marigold had been preparing an elaborate dinner all morning long in honour of the visit of her future mother in law. She had gone outside for a brief time to collect some herbs in the back yard. The brief time was lengthened to quite a long time, when Marigold passed the dog house and spotted the irresistible little puppies. When she returned to the kitchen, the cake was burning brightly in the oven like a piece of coal. She wanted to extinguish the fire and had gone outside again to fetch a bucket of water. Unfortunately she had forgotten to latch the door of the doghouse again and when she got back into the kitchen the sight that greeted her this time was terrible : the puppies were all over the kitchen, licking and gnawing at her delicious dinner.

“ And now I won’t have the time to get it all fixed and the kitchen is a mess and Lily will think I’m no good.” “No she won’t, she’ll understand.” “But I wanted to show her my cooking and now there isn’t hardly a bite in the house…. such a shame…and now I have the cleaning and the cooking ..I won’t make it ‘til tonight.” Marigold cried again. “Oh Goldie, I would like to help you, but I can’t get away now. Elanor is fast asleep, Sam drove to the market at Bywater this morning, I can’t go and leave her here all alone.”

“Ahem….she wouldn’t be alone, I am still here,” Frodo, who had listened to the conversation, stepped forward. “Oh, Mr. Frodo, I know, of course, but you see, she’s only a few weeks old and….”Rosie looked for the right words….”And you don’t think an old bachelor is fit to take care of a baby for a few hours ?” Rosie smiled wryly. “Oh Rosie, I am sure Mr. Frodo can take care of Elanor. She’ll be probably asleep all the time anyway and if she does wake up she won’t be alone. It’s just for a few hours….please…” Rosie looked at Marigold and thought that she must have stolen that look from the puppies. “All right then, I’ll go, that is, if Mr. Frodo is really willing to watch Elanor. I don’t want to keep you from your writing…” “It is all right, Rosie, I will carry the crib to my study and do both the writing and the watching”, Frodo said. “Thank you, Mr. Frodo – and now let’s save the dinner!” Rosie put a shawl around her shoulders and went off with a obviously reassured Marigold.

Frodo went to the nursery. There in a crib that Sam had made (and almost sacrificed a finger in the process) lay baby Elanor. Her lids were closed, she sniffled a bit, her tiny fists were clenched. “She’s going to be a really beautiful lass” Frodo thought. Carefully he started to lift the crib and carry it to his study. Just as he turned into the study, he struck the doorpost with the crib. Elanor opened her eyes, threw her arms in the air and started to wail. “ Shhh, shhh, don’t cry, it’s allright, sorry, everything is allright ” said Frodo as he carefully put the crib down again. Elanor wasn’t convinced of that and cried even louder. Frodo caressed the baby’s soft cheek – Elanor didn’t like to be caressed by someone who obviously wasn’t her mom or her dad, so she protested against that with a voice much bigger than her body. Frodo decided to take the baby into his arms and rock her - he had seen Sam and Rosie doing that and Elanor had seemed to like that. She didn’t like it now – her cries reminded Frodo somehwhat of those of the Nazgul…”Elanor, little Elanor, please, please, stop ! There’s no need to cry !” Elanor didn’t share that opinion. Frodo was sure that every hobbit living within five miles from Bag End must hear that awful crying. He tried to muffle the noise by putting a finger into Elanor’s mouth. Instantly she began sucking hard on it. “Ouch, that hurts ! Do you want to bite off another of my fingers, sweetie ?” At least she was quiet now. But only for a few minutes until she realized that a finger wasn’t what she needed now and started to protest against the fraud with a shrill voice. “Probably asleep all the time, is it ? Hungry she is, even an old bachelor like me can see that ! Rosie should have known that !”

Frodo started to get a bit angry now, he felt alone, helpless with that red-faced screaming baby in his arms. He had looked forward to a quiet day to get along with his tale and maybe go for a stroll in the afternoon on this mild April day. “Maybe she’ll fall asleep again when I put her down” he mused and put the thought into praxis right away. For a moment Elanor fell silent.

Frodo sighed with relief. He went back to his desk, picked up his pen and tried to take up his writing again. The last paragraphs he had written were about his convalescence at Rivendell. He remembered one of the songs he had heard the elves sing in the evening; it was a song to welcome the moon and the stars and it had a very soothing melody. Frodo just dipped the pen into the inkwell as, without any previous warning, Elanor started hollering anew. Frodo jumped and the ink blotted the blank page and Frodo’s previously white shirt with a jolly black pattern. Frodo dropped his head and his shoulders, then took a deep breath and got up again. He stooped over the crib and looked at Elanor. “Please, please my lass, have mercy on me and get quiet,” he pleaded. Something in his voice caught Elanor’s attention – she closed her mouth, opened her eyes and looked at Frodo. “ I guess you don’t want me to leave you again, right ? Even if I’m just a few steps away ? Well, you’re so small, it must seem a lot more distant to you than it is for me, right ? Oh Elanor, I know what it feels like to be all alone in the world, even when your best friends are right next to you.“ Elanor turned her head a bit and waved her arms, her eyes still fixing Frodo, whose thoughts went back to the elven song. He started humming the melody and after a while added the lyrics.
Elanor’s fair eyes were wide open, her afore tense body relaxed as she listened to Frodo’s clear voice singing that strange tune.

Thus it was that Rose found them when she returned – the mature gentlehobbit standing amidst his study, singing a beautiful elvish song for her little newborn baby. She waited until Frodo had ended the song. “Mr.Frodo ?”- Frodo startled. “Oh, you’re already back ?” “Yes, the mess wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Trust a Gamgee to overact, Marigold really is the old Gaffer in a skirt.” She went to the crib and took Elanor up. “Thank you for watching her, Mr. Frodo. I’m glad she didn’t give you a hard time, I completely forgot she ought to get fed before I left. It’s still so new for me,” she added with an apologizing look. “ Yes, no less for me…,” Frodo said as he watched Rose leaving the room with the baby in her arms, “but who would have thought an old bachelor to have more common sense than a mother”. Chuckling in a way that would have reminded anyone who could have heard it of old Bilbo, he returned to his desk and wrote down the lyrics of the elvish song.


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