The citizens could be seen preparing for night. The blacksmith was preparing to leave his forge; the silversmith was examining his precise creations for the almost un-appreciable defects which he would have to mend in the next day; the soldiers were changing their watch; the farmer was gently patting his horse’s muzzle -his produce already having been loaded on his wagon. The dying rays of the once overwhelming sun gently played upon the citizens and ground upon which they stood; bringing with it the last manifestation of warmth that they would feel before returning to their fireplaces –although, the journey toward the fireplace would be made under the stifling blanket of night.
He stands apart from this throng. He walks, not toward the area of his house, but away from it. His goal is not the hearth, for it affords him only the recollection of the past; a past which is written clearly upon his brow. No! The hearth can offer no comfort for this citizen of Rohan! As he walks along, his grey hair is gently caressed by the gentle fingers of the wind; it spreads out -its voluminous nature being fully displayed, though to whom? The streets are nearly empty. He hobbles along. Pitiful.
Under his arm is violin of antediluvian nature. He holds it. Though old, decrepit, crippled, his grip is strong upon this violin; perhaps stronger than his grip upon life.
“Though the past differed greatly from the present,” he mutters to himself while continuing to travel down this now-deserted street. He recalls his family. The day of his wedding. Happiness. Bliss. Unmitigated happiness! And then the birth of his children; a day which was equaled in emotional poignancy in the day of their death. “Yes,” he mutters “their death.” They had both suffered so cruel a rend of body from soul in the same instant. He had seen it. He had understood it -it, so cruel and difficult a concept to grapple with. It was this grappling with this concept which had finally killed his wife.
So, the hearth can offer no comfort for this citizen of Rohan!
Upon his brow, this story is written. Etched into his wrinkles are the years of unmitigated sorrow.
At first, his fiddle had offered him solace from his grief. Running his hand up and down the finger board, he would forget his grief amid the flurry of his bow and fingers. He would forget. Forget. But just forget. He would not be happy; he simply forgot that he was unhappy. Eventually, he would have to return to his unhappiness, and this was the hardest part. So difficult, did it become, that he eventually ceased playing the fiddle. So painful was the return to suffering, that he forsook its brief alleviation.
And so, he walks upon the deserted street, under the cloak of night.
Looming into sight is the palace of king Theoden. The golden embellished arches and curves of this wondrous palace. Four soldiers stand upon either side of the entrance to the palace. They are young. They possess loyalty to Theoden that not even death would shake -so they state. They boldly speak of night, though they have yet to see darkness.
The night surrounding this palace is complete. He materializes out of the darkness. At first, the soldiers feel that he is simply an illusion; a trick played upon them by the darkness. They expect him to fade into the darkness. He does not fade. He approaches.
Three of them are too afraid of he with his violin. Crippled. Pitiful. One of them steps forward. With a hard swallow, he begins to pronounce the word “Halt.” He looks at the guard through eyes that have looked upon the marriage of Death and his family; through eyes under brows which have pondered the marriage of Death and his family. Beneath such a perilous gaze, the soldier can only bow his head. He has, as the soldier observes, not been diminished in importance by the fetters of misery!
With a strength seemingly beyond him, he reaches forward and grasps the un-flinching golden door and sends it clanging against the wall adjacent to its hinge. Panting, he grapples for his breath. He walks forward. Theoden is upon the throne, surrounded by advisors. He commands the silence of even Theoden.
Upon his shoulder, he sets his fiddle. He draws his bow across the string. The instrument is his. He is its master. Through it, he expresses himself, and in his hands it becomes a physical aspect of him. They are no longer a man and an instrument, but are one. Just as his fiddle is held by him, he is held by Them. The Ancient Gods of the Elves seem to hold him. And even as he plays his instrument, he is played by the Gods; and even as he becomes one with his instrument, the Gods and he are one.
He seems to cast a spell over his Lord and Master. Theoden cannot speak. Theoden is inundated by the manifestation of grief to which he has been presented.
Under Theoden’s eye, he gives one sigh. Out of his lifeless hands drop the fiddle. Embracing Death, he is divorced from Life.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.