The Gaffer, well known in Hobbiton, angrily strode the distance to Bag End, ignoring shouts of greeting that peppered the late afternoon. His eyes were fixed straight ahead, and his cheeks were near scarlet as that of his fevered son. He found no comfort in the familiar path, and the walk did nothing to cool his anger at his former master.
He stood outside the cheerful green door, and bellowed, "Bilbo Baggins!" He would not knock, he was afraid that he would break the sturdy door right down, and truly, the yelling felt quite good to Hamfast. So he did it again, and before he could emit a third, the round door opened, and Bilbo Baggins emerged. "Will you not come in, Hamfast?" he asked mildly, scratching the silvery curls on top of his head. Hamfast was of a mind to refuse, but as he didn't want all the neighbors to hear his business, he pushed past Bilbo, and stood with arms folded, just inside the doorway.
"This won't take long, Bilbo, no, sir, not long at all," the Gaffer began, the words sounding low and deadly in his throat. Bilbo did not appear surprised, or afraid, and merely shut the door behind them, and waited. "I'll not be takin' charity from you! I've brought up them children to be proud, not beggars, and though we've naught so much as you, we've quite enough! I'm payin' for that healer, and you'll naught be doin' such a thing again behind my back!" Hamfast was shaking, the muscles standing out in his thin neck, like cord. His grey eyes were full of heat, and in them, Bilbo saw the lad that he once was--reliable, careful, but sometimes full of mischief and fun. It was something that Bilbo, that anyone, had scarce seen lately, and for that, he was sorry.
Bilbo kept silent through the angry speech, and nodded in all the appropriate places. He tucked his hands into his weskit pocket, and took a deep breath. "I am sorry, Hamfast." And just as the Gaffer appeared satisfied, Bilbo went on. "I am sorry that you feel that way, but I've paid for the healer, and that is that. I'll not be taking one coin back from you, and you'll do well now to listen to me. Call it for all time's sake..." Bilbo offered a little smile, but lifted his hand when Hamfast started to speak, and he knew enough that he would not speak over him. Knowing his place was too important to Hamfast Gamgee, though it mattered to Bilbo only at times like these, when he needed his old gardener to listen to him.
"You ought to be home with your lad, Hamfast, not here, and certainly not debating how his care is paid for. Three days ill he came down here to work, and I had not the heart to send him home," Bilbo's normally pleasant voice, was choked with guilt, and with sorrow. "I knew he was ill, though not how seriously, but selfishly I listened to his pleading, to be allowed to stay and work. I selfishly wanted him here, and I believed his protestations. I ought not have done such, I should have brought him home the first day." The Gaffer's mouth hung open a bit, and his stormy eyes grew puzzled, what was Bilbo on about? He couldn't fathom it now, and he waited for some explanation that would suit him.
"So, I am indeed sorry, my old friend. I am sorry that Sam's illness has come to this. And the least I can do, to assuage my guilt, is to pay for the care he needs." Bilbo seemed to want to touch Hamfast then, but he did not. He instead ran his hands through his already mussed hair. The Gaffer was not satisfied by this, not by any of it, but there was little else he could say, or indeed, would say to his old master. He only nodded at Bilbo, and opened the smial door, and retraced his steps back home.
Bilbo watched him go, watched the road a long time. He felt Frodo's eyes on his back, and he didn't want to turn around. Didn't want any more questions. Still peering out into the coming dusk, he spoke. "Frodo-lad, will you set a kettle on?" He turned around there, and found his ward's face, his clear blue eyes and innocent countenance, full of questions. Bilbo went on, "Thank you, Frodo, tea will be just the thing now. Then. Well, then we'll talk." Bilbo absently touched Frodo's cheek, and wandered off into his study.