Gift of the Valar - Chapter 11: The Struggle
Sam got as close to the edge of the ice,to the opening that had claimed Frodo as he could, but he could see no sign of his friend. "Frodo" he screamed to the murkey depths....he looked about frantically and noticed a windswept spot on the ice a few feet from the opening that was clear as a window. He slid quickly to it and searched through the ice for a sign of Frodo....as he stared into the dark depths a face came into view. Frodo, whose legs were tangled in the muck and mire of the bottom of the pond struggled frantically to break through this window in his icy prison. Sam screamed and tried to show Frodo the opening a few feet behind him, but Frodo was stuck fast. As Sam watched, Frodo lips screamed "Sam....Sam" and he put all his strength into his attempts to break the ice, the blood flowed from his torn and mangled hands so hard did he struggle. Sam watched as his Friend's bright blue eyes slowly dimed and his hands ceased their movements...Frodo's lips moved one last time as he stared at Sam "namarie" his lips formed. Then eyes still wide open, but seeing nothing of this world, Frodo gave up his struggle.
Sam screamed from the depth of his soul; a pain wracked cry "Noooooo" he screamed with all his might as he beat upon the ice with his fists. Suddenly the Gaffer and the Miller were there with axes and hammers. Sam stood and ripping the axe from his Da's hands started swinging wildly at the ice....sobbing as he hit the surface of the pond over and over again....not caring who heard his cries or what he hit. The Gaffer struggled with his son for a moment to take the axe from him "Sam lad...not that way" he said firmly as he wrested the axe from Sam's shaking hands. Sam sunk to his knees and sobbed. "Hurry Da...hurry please" Sam cried.
After a moment that seemed to last forever The Gaffer and the Miller's strong arms wielded the axe and hammer and they broke through the ice. They reached in to drag Frodo's limp and bloodied body from the water just as Bilbo made his way to the edge of the ice. Frodo's body was still, his lips blue from the cold, hands and head bloodied from his fight with the ice and sightless blue eyes opened wide staring to the heavens above him.
Sam grabbed a frozen hand and slapped his cheek, leaving only the abrupt mark of his hand on the Hobbit's pale skin. "Frodo...Mr. Frodo wake up...it's your Sam.....Wake up Frodo" he screamed in pain and anger, as he lay near his friend. The children of the village gathered in a circle about those clustered around the still figure of the drowned Hobbit. Prody Goodfellow, an arm securely wrapped about his shaking niece, came through the circle. He handed Chrysanthamum to the Gaffers protective hug, while Marigold found refuge in her Da's other arm. The girls sobbed and their cries broke the silence of the stricken gathering.
Bilbo looked to Prody and they knealt together at the young Hobbit's side as the healer frantically ripped open Frodo's shirt...looking for any sign of warmth and life. He turned to Bilbo with tears in his eyes " I can do nothing Bilbo...he's gone my friend" the healer said with his agony reflected in his voice.
Bilbo wrapped his arms about Frodo's neck and leaning over the still form of his nephew, began to cry..."Don't leave me lad....don't leave me alone again." Sam pulled himself to his knees and moving to the other side of his friend he took his cold hand in his and staring into the endless blue of Frodo's eyes whispered "Namarie mellon amin"(farewell my friend). as he closed his friend's eyes Sam's hand strayed to a dark curl that had strayed to Frodo's forehead and he gently pushed it back so he could view this beloved face one last moment.
Just then, there was a motion in the crowd and Gandalf stepped into the circle "What's this then?" he asked. Prody looked to him with tears in his eyes "he's gone Gandalf".
"Well....move aside, let me see...perhaps with the cold he just needs some help to breathe" as Gandalf moved closer Sam helped a shaking Bilbo to his feet and away from Frodo "there's a good lad Sam" Gandalf said. Gandalf rolled Frodo's limp body to it's side and slapped him several hard blows upon his back, forcing a stream of water to flow from his slack mouth. Gandalf could feel the absence of life in the still form at his side, he placed one hand on Frodo's heart and one on his forehead, and shutting his eyes directed his life force. He felt himself thrust back time and time again as he struggled to infuse the body beside him with the strength of the Valar. After a long moment, his will won, his force dominated and he subdued the wishes of the Hobbit beside him.
Frodo's eyes flew open briefly and rolled into his sockets as his convulsing body arched and pushed his head back, his bloodied hands clenched; as his moment of transition from death to life passed his body went limp with a loud gasp with his first indrawn breath. Sam scarcely dared to breathe...with a stunned Bilbo in his arms he asked "is...is he alive then?".
As Sam looked down upon the now trembling body of his dearest friend, Gandalf pulled him to the side and whispered only for his ears "yes dear Sam, it appears your Mr. Frodo has pleased the Valar once again".
Sam looked abruptly to the wizard, wondering what he meant by that and if Gandalf know of Frodo's experiences with the voices of the Elven gods. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he saw Ted Sandyman's smirk and before Sam even knew what he was going to do, he broke free of Gandalf's grasp and tackled him. The two boys went sprawling onto the ice, sliding near to the opening that had nearly claimed Frodo. Sam landed on top and started punching. "Don't.....you....ever....hurt....Frodo....again!" he screamed each word and puctuated it with a punch to his face, till Ted's face was bloody. Then Sam grabbed a fistful of Teds curls and pulling his face close he snarled "Or ye'll be answerin' ta me." He let Ted's head drop with a slap to the ice and stood up. With a last shove from his foot Sam sent the sobbing Sandyman into the water of the pond feet first. Ted scrambled to keep his whole body from entering the water and laying half in and half out upon the ice he lay there and stared with fear upon this new and very angry Gamgee.
Sam came back to Frodo, who was being checked by a very puzzled Prody "don't understand it" he was muttering to himself "he was dead a few moments ago". Bilbo took of his cloak and gently wrapped the shaking Hobbit at he feet. "Confound it Prody, he will be again if we don't get him out of this cold." He said.
Gandalf looked at Bilbo "here, let me friend" he said as he bent over and gently lifted the injured Frodo in his arms. Sam followed Gandalf, Prody and Bilbo up the hill to Bag End, turning to give Ted Sandyman a last look that would give the Miller's son nightmares for many a day.
Gandalf walked slowly, savoring the life and the return of warmth that his shaking bundled displayed. He looked down at the bloodied face and blue lips of the Hobbit lad, he was worried, he'd encountered much resistence in his attempt to bring Frodo back to this world. He'd been given all the life force he needed to return the tiny Hobbit to life, the Valar had assured him of both their plans and his powers. Yet, the Hobbit had resisted him with a strength and fierceness that nearly broke him. He feared that Frodo's return would not bring the young Hobbit the joy that it was bringing to Bilbo and Sam.
The wizard looked over his shoulder in time to see the Gaffer's son take off his own cloak and wrap it protectively around the shoulders of the elder Baggins. 'Samwise is becoming the perfect companion for our Hobbit' he thought to himself 'kind, generous, gentle...with devotion and loyalty that will stand any test....at least so far'. He looked down at the bundled Hobbit in his arms and found himself reflecting on the wisedom of the Valar ' I hope this last test hasn't proven too much....I fear the recovery will be long and hard'....he found himself wondering if Frodo's recovery would be the 'last test' the Valar spoke of and he sighed deeply.
Sam mistook Gandalf's sigh as a sign of distress and hurried ahead to open the door for the wizard. He then ran down the hall to rekindle the fire in Frodo's fireplace and take dry nightclothes from his wardrobe. Gandalf brought Frodo to his bed and laid him down gently. Bilbo ran to heat up water and bring warm cloths to bathe the dirty and bloodied lad so Prody could continue to examine him. Frodo was quickly cleaned up and placed in a dry nightshirt, and Sam gathered every quilt and blanket in the house to warm the still shaking Hobbit.
Prody examined Frodo and shook his head glumly, he brought bandages over and carefully stiched and wrapped his mangled hands. Then, taking a warm wet cloth he washed the final mud and pond debris from his head and when he finished with his cleaning, called Gandalf over. Before he began to speak to the wizard he sent Sam on an errand with Bilbo to find all the pillows contained within Bag End. When Prody was certain Sam was out of ear shot he showed Gandalf his discovery.
"Lookee here Gandalf, young master Baggins has quite a nasty knock on his head." Prody lifted his bloodied curls and showed a four inch gash near the side of his head, which when moved aside revealed a portion of Frodo's skull that had been fractured.
Gandalf closed his eyes and sighed, he now knew his earlier fears were coming to fruition...this was going to be Frodo's most difficult trial. Prody continued "It probably happened when young Gamgee was wild with the axe, he wanted so badly to get Frodo out, you can't blame him" "No, certainly not" said Gandalf sadly. The wizard paused a moment "What do you think Frodo's chances are of a full recovery?". Prody stared at the wizard "Well, that's the rub, last time I saw a wound like this...it was the Smithy in Frogmorten that went and got himself kicked by a horse he was shoein'." He paused a moment and continued "he tain't the Smithy no more, 'cause he's blind and can only use one arm."
Gandalf saw now the course this would take and and he was fearful that the cost of this battle just might be too high...he sighed deeply, "What will we need to do?" he asked.
Prody thought a moment, "well, we'll need to keep the swelling down....that means regular dressing changes with lots of cold compresses....every hour. He'll need to rest propped up, no lying down for a long while. He'll need to have his body moved regular like, so he doesn't lose too much strength...so mayhap he'll walk on his own again someday." The Healer sighed heavily, there's just so much I can't tell ye Gandalf....so much depends on the swelling, his spirit and will to live, how quick we can get his fever down....so much I don't know..." Prody said wistfully.
Gandalf nodded and placed his large hand upon the Hobbit healer's diminuative shoulder "we will do our best and you are very skilled in your arts Prody...is there nothing more that can be done?" he asked.
Prody thought a moment, "ye can say a prayer to whatever you mystical and elven types ask favor of and perhaps we'll have young Baggin's about by summer." He paused, "I'll try to explain this to Bilbo....but my biggest worry about now is the fever he's starting to show....we gotta keep that down, or it'll add to the damage in his head." he said glumly