Gandalf carefully examined the face of the loyal hobbit in front of him….it pained him to rewaken the memories of Saurons evil in his young friend but he knew that there was no other way he could help Frodo. Gandalf began his questioning…
“Sam, I have an understanding of what happened as the fellowship broke at Amon Hen….what I do not clearly see is what happened after you left and traveled to Mordor…if you wish to help your Mr.Frodo you will need to re-live many painful memories to give me the vision of the path that you traveled….are you willing to do that?” Gandalf asked
Sam paused only briefly before answering “Gandalf, I’d go back through that dread land if I had to to help Frodo….ask your questions” he stated with a determined steely ring to his voice.
Gandalf was satisfied by the strengthh of Sam’s response that he’d not asked too much from Frodo’s loyal servant…if anyone could help Frodo now it would be his Sam….
“Sam what happened after you left Amon Hen?” Gandalf asked.
“Well sir….we walked for days, up and over more rocks than I care to count….we had the devils own time finding a way down from the rocks of that cursed land and then when we did finally make it down we ran into Gollum.” Sam paused recalling in his own mind the nasty shock he’d first encountered with his first meeting of this evil creature. Sam paused and searched for just the right words. “Go on Sam ” Gandalf urged. “Well sir, ” Sam continued “Mr. Frodo seemed right away to have control like of Gollum….you see once Gollum figured out that Frodo had this ‘precious’ that Gollum was after….well then Gollum could be either a ‘slinker’
and awfully sneaky or a ‘stinker’ because you just couldn’t trust him. Most of the time with me he was plain old ‘stinker’, I never did warm to him….but to Mr. Frodo he was more often ‘Slinker” because he was trying so hard to get in Mr. Frodo’s good graces.
Gandalf nodded knowingly….understanding that Gollums motives were a powerful force.
Sam continued, “we went on for days and Gollum had promised on the precious to be our guide so Mr. Frodo did trust him to lead us where he’d asked. ” Sam paused for a moment, a far away look in his eyes. ” He lead us to some horrible places Gandalf and I never knowed if he was leading us the most direct way or if he had some other plan for us….but Mr. Frodo he would trust Gollum…so we followed him through the dead marshes where the stench and horror of death went on and on sir. I couldn’t get outta there fast enough….but Mr. Frodo sir he was a little too taken with the faces and the lights in the marsh. He made both me and Gollum a bit nervous sir”
“Go on Sam” Gandalf urged gently.
Sam shook himself loose of his evil memory and continued. “We walked for days sir…the closer we got to the gates of the black land the more tiresome it seemed for Frodo to be carrying the ring. I encouraged him as best I could, but he seemed to walk slower and be more tired with each day. We finally came to the gates and saw that there’d be no entering there so we took a different path that Gollum had in mind…one which took us through the fair land of Ilthithian where we met up with lord Faramir.”
Gandalf nodded…he new already of Faramirs tale and strove to hurry Sam through this portion of the tale. “yes, yes Samwise….I have spoken with Faramir…what happened after you left Faramir and his men” he asked.
“Well sir” Sam continued ” Faramirs men gave us quite a start and once we’d recovered from our initial surprise we found them to be fair and honorable men….they wanted to help us and Faramir himself did his best to keep Frodo from following Gollums advice…but Frodo felt he had no other choice so follow Gollum we did.” Sam paused for a moment and Gandalf noted a black and evil look fall upon Sam’s face.
Gandalf wondered if he should give Sam a time to rest before they continued with the tale….As expected though Sam objected when Gandalf suggested Sam rest for a while…
“Why Gandalf sir, Frodo will be needing his Sam…now is no time for resting” Sam Protested.
“Sam” Gandalf continued “now is the time to rest….I cannot help but notice how weary you are and how these evil memories cross your face as a storm cloud through the mountains….you will rest and we’ll continue in the morning” Gandalf said
Sam did not want to admit it….but he was becoming tired and the strain of this retelling was beginning to show upon his normally cheerful countance.
Gandalf quietly exited Sams bedchamber and went next door to observe Frodo in his restless slumber. He stood and watched as Lord Elrond directed the ministrations of his elvish healers. Frodo’s hands twitched on the silken coverlet, the bandaged hand that bore the wounded finger tremored constantly and it pained Gandalf to see the tension and pain that Frodo bore even in his sleep.
“How is the halfling Samwise?” Elrond inquired. “Is he able to use clear mind and memory to describe what has happened to them?”
Gandalf paused a moment before answering “Sam thinks only of his master and while he too is exhausted and overwhelmed by the events of their journey he is able to recall many details”.
“How is Frodo? Has there been any change?” Gandalf asked with barely a trace of hope in his voice.
“He walks in dreams where I am not able to go” Elrond replied “He is feverish and restless…he lies asleep yet gets no rest for all his energy is given to pain wracked motions…..he calls for you Gandalf and yet has no hope in his voice even as he utters your name”.
Gandalf reached out and felt Frodo’s forehead…noting how hot and damp his brow was….his skin was the color of woodsmoke, cheeks sunken and with the faintest hint of luminesence….almost as if the goodness contined within this hobbit was trying to get out.
“I will finish my questions with Samwise in the morning Elrond….then we will have some difficult choices before us” Gandalf stated heavily as he left the room with out a backwards glance.