The Tailor's Tale by Kathryn Ramage

Soon after the tailor had gone, Sam brought in Frodo's tea. He'd hoped to have it ready while the tailor was still shut up in the parlor with Frodo, for he was always a little leery of leaving Frodo alone in the company of someone who could ask him to strip down to his smalls and touch him all over, even in a purely professional capacity. Sam usually liked to be present whenever the tailor came for a fitting and act as a sort of chaperone, but that had been impossible today. With a new baby in the house, Elanor just entering the over-active toddler stage, and Rose more busy with both children since Mrs. Cotton had gone home to her family farm, he was urgently needed elsewhere.

Frodo was pulling on the old smoking jacket he'd been wearing before Mr. Threadnibble had called, and was smiling to himself as he did up the buttons. A light snow had begun to fall over Hobbiton and he gazed out of the window, watching the flakes float down. "Domestic crises all smoothed out, Sam dear?" he asked.

"Little Frodo's quieted," Sam reported as he set the tea tray down on the table. "How he does howl! He screams a lot more'n Nel did at that age. And she's wore herself out and been put down for her nap. Rose's taking a nap too. She was hunting all over-" he hesitated, blushing. "She's missed her best petticoats."

"They'll turn up after the next wash," Frodo said complacently. "They always do, don't they? She'll have them to wear to the festival. It's a pity I can't have Tollo Threadnibble make a few things that fit me properly, but he doesn't do that sort of clothing and he'd be terribly shocked if I asked." As he turned from the window to accept the teacup Sam offered, he gave him a quick kiss. "I was just thinking, Sam--isn't love wonderful?"

"Is that what you was talking about with him?" asked Sam.

"No, not exactly. He had an interesting story to tell me, and I had some advice to give him." Between sips of hot tea, he told Sam the tailor's story, and Sam seemed as baffled by Miss Potts's behavior as Mr. Threadnibble had been. "Don't you see, Sam? A lonely, middle-aged lady has had to care for her father since her youth, and never had a romance or a chance to find a husband of her own. But she's on friendly terms with her father's tailor, who very likely called as regularly at the Potts household as he does here. She sometimes helped out with the fitting and sewing, and he says she's a good hand at it. After her father's gone, she must have discovered that she missed the companionship of those calls, and decided to visit him for herself. Since our good tailor doesn't make ladies' clothing and she no longer has a male relation who requires a tailor, she had to find an excuse to come to his shop and a reason to call on him again afterwards."

"You think that's what she's after? Marrying him?"

"Oh, it's an odd way to make a proposal, but she mayn't have had any other way to make her feelings known. She's rather shy, you see. and Mr. Threadnibble is rather self-effacing. He wouldn't realize that a lady might consider him attractive, and wouldn't dare court a lady he felt was above him. She'd have to take the first steps, and I believe that's just what she's done. If he does as I advise, we'll see if I'm right." When Sam came up and put both arms around Frodo from behind, Frodo leaned back against him and sighed. "I hope he takes my advice, Sam. The two of them deserve to be happy together. You know how I feel--everybody ought to have the chance to be in love. Goodness knows how glad I am I took the chance myself when I saw it, and understood." He twisted around to nibble the lobe of Sam's each and they shared another, longer kiss.

Then Frodo pulled back suddenly, eyes wide. "I hope I'm right, Sam. If I'm wrong and Miss Potts shows up with another bridegroom for her coat, then poor Tollo Threadnibble will be horribly humiliated. He'll probably never forgive me. Oh, dear! I may have to seek the services of another tailor."
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