My eyes widened in surprise as Gandalf pulled Samwise Gamgee from outside through the open window. At first I felt annoyed that he had frightened me so. I sighed in relief and then realized he too was frightened, in fact, trembling in fear. Granted, Gandalf was none too gentle hauling him onto the table. Though Gandalf refused to show it, I am quite certain his brusqueness was in truth the way he hid his own sudden fear.
As I listened to Gandalf's interrogation and Sam's terrified replies, I recognized Gandalf as quite imposing but I cannot imagine where Sam somehow got the notion that Gandalf might turn him into something unnatural. Then again I must remind myself that he does not know Gandalf as well as I do. I smiled in amusement; it seemed an odd feeling to have at the moment. I felt certain we would simply reassure him, fill him in on my plans, and then I would be on my way. He needed to know anyway so that he could properly care for Bag End until I returned.
Suddenly I realized Gandalf had other plans entirely. I tried to protest but Gandalf brushed it aside. I needed a traveling companion he said, and Sam would be as good as any. I argued with Gandalf briefly knowing full well he would get his own way regardless of what I said. I felt certain I was all too unaware of the full extent of the danger that awaited me, but I knew enough to understand I did not want Sam in it. This was my adventure. My responsibility. I wanted no one else at risk because of me. A corner of my mind whispered, especially not Sam. Finally, in resignation I admitted that for all the good I thought it would do my arguments to Gandalf were not just dismissed but completely ignored.
Gandalf refused to listen, so I turned my attention to Sam. If I could just help him to understand the terrible peril I may face. It might be a long while before I came home. What of his dear Rosie? Nothing I said would convince Sam that staying here in the Shire would be better, though I truly hoped it would never be as bad as I painted it. I simply could not bear it if anything happened to my dear friend. But it seems my impassioned pleas were pointless. Sam, like Gandalf, would have none of it. One way or the other, he was coming with me. I truly knew my battle to protect my friend was lost when Gandalf mentioned the possibility of seeing elves. Sam could not be ready quickly enough.
The two were in agreement. Gandalf had appointed Sam to accompany me and accompany me he would, no matter where our path might lead. All that was required of me was to accept Gandalf's decision and Sam's choice. Only to myself did I confess that my heart seemed to give the merest sigh of relief. I would not be going alone.
I hoped to leave quietly, with no one noticing, by leaving Sam in charge, but it was not to be. As Gandalf helped Sam prepare his pack, I realized I would still be leaving quietly but a bit of paperwork needed doing. Without Sam here to take care of Bag End, I must make arrangements of some sort. I'd leave a note to Merry and Pippin but no telling when they'd see it or even if they'd carry out the instructions as directed. Instead, I decided to leave the letter for Fredegar, he being a good practical sort.
With Sam packed and ready, we headed out the door. For a moment I paused and glanced back. My happiest memories were here at Bag End. I gently closed the door. Then I allowed my eyes to wander over the view I knew by heart of the Shire from my front porch. Though it was still dark outside, I pictured it clearly in my mind. It was beautiful. The sun would be rising soon.