Bilbo was speechless for a few moments. Miriel broke the silence.
“Gandalf informs me you are to go to Rivendell. Is this true?”
“I had planned the journey yes.” Bilbo answered. “I came back here to pack my things. I could not tell the others where I was going as you could very well know why.”
“Yes I can see why.” Miriel acknowledged. “However I believe disappearing was a worse judgment.”
Bilbo hung his head.
“Gandalf has instructed you to leave the Ring you carry with your nephew, Frodo as part of his inheritance.”
“My ring?” Bilbo questioned. “Of what importance is my ring?”
“More than you know Bilbo and more than what I am permitted to tell you. All I can say is that Gandalf’s orders to you are to leave the Ring here, with Frodo. It will be in good hands with him.”
Bilbo began to search around for his things. He started shoving things in a small round bag he held in his left hand. “I suppose I can give it to him. I trust Frodo.”
“As do I and as does Gandalf.” Miriel glanced at him. Where was the Ring? In his pocket still, perhaps? “The Ring, Bilbo. Where is it?”
“It is in an envelope on the mantelpiece. Oh wait.” He hesitated, slightly oddly. “It is here. In my pocket.”
Miriel gazed strangely at him. There was an odd hushed tone about his voice.
“Why shouldn’t I keep it? It is a valuable and priceless possession after all.”
“I think it will be well with you and Frodo if you left the Ring with him. You know the Ring is magical, or else you would not have put it on when you wanted to disappear today. I can tell you no more of this Ring other than it is dangerous to you and you must leave it here.”
Bilbo now had rage in his eyes. “Why shouldn’t it be mine, after all I found it, it came to me! Besides who gave you, a stranger to me, or Gandalf for that matter the right to tell me what I do with my own things? Who told you that you could come here and order me around?”
Miriel was taken aback that such a small hobbit could produce this much anger toward her. “There is no reason to be angry Bilbo. I am sent on Gandalf’s order. No need to anger toward me.”
“Well, if I’m angry, it’s your, and Gandalf’s fault. It is mine I tell you. My own it is, my precious.”
Miriel stood petrified at the hobbit. He had uttered the words that she had only heard in legends. The words Gollum uttered as the Ring’s powers took over him. The words Gollum uttered as Middle-earth lay in ruins under the Dark Lord’s hand in search of the Ring. Miriel knew these words all too well.
“Those words have been uttered before about the Ring but not by you.”
“Yes I know, Gandalf told me of the creature, Gollum. But I say it now because it is not his but mine.”
“You must give it up.” Miriel began to stand despite the low ceiling. “You have promised Frodo an inheritance. The Ring goes to Frodo if not by you willingly, than by you forcefully. I have traveled many days and nights wishing to speak with a hobbit who obeys orders. If you cannot obey these, than I have no choice but to take the Ring and give it to Frodo.” There was anger in her voice.
Bilbo began to quiver. “You want his Ring for yourself, don’t you, Miriel?”
“I never wanted such a gift. It will go to Frodo and no other.” She shouted.
“Very well then. To my nephew it shall go then.”
Bilbo picked up his bag and headed for the door.
“Leave the Ring there, Bilbo. Frodo will find it.”
Bilbo held out his hand with the Ring in it. He slowly tilted his hand until the Ring fell to the ground. It was heavy, heavier than most rings Miriel thought. It fell to the ground as Bilbo walked away.
“Farewell my elf friend. Tell Gandalf I send him greetings.”
“I will. Pleased of meeting you, Bilbo.” Miriel waved until the hobbit was out of sight, singing as he went.
Miriel went back inside to wait for Frodo. She stared long and hard at the Ring. She dared not touch it.
Moments later, a young-looking hobbit entered the room.
“Who are you?” He asked when he saw Miriel.
“You must be Frodo?” When the hobbit nodded, Miriel said, “Your uncle, Bilbo has just left.”
“He has?” Frodo inquired. “He always spoke of leaving. I didn’t think he would actually do it.”
“I am Miriel, an elf from Mirkwood. I am sent here my Gandalf.”
“You know Gandalf?” Frodo began to become excited. “How is he? It has been a long time since I have talked with him.”
“He is well. He sends his greetings and his remorse of not being able to come himself. He has been busy. So I am his messenger.”
“Very well, Miriel. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“And you.” Miriel drew a long breath as she began. “I am here because your uncle has left you with a Ring that involves you.”
“My uncle’s Ring. Yes I am familiar with it. He loved it.”
“The tale behind the Ring is a long one. Are you ready to hear it?”
“I knew not that a tale existed behind it so yes, I am.”
“Well firstly, you must know that this is no ordinary Ring. It is a magical Ring, used for evil. It was forged in the fires of Mt. Doom in the land of Mordor in the East, along with 19 other rings. Twenty in all. Three of the rings were given to my people, the elf-lords. Seven also were given to the Dwarves and nine rings were given to the race of Men. But this One Ring however was not for any race but for the Dark Lord who forged it. His name was Sauron. He controlled Middle-Earth and its people for ages. When all seemed lost and that the Ring of Power would never be destroyed and Middle-Earth would be doomed to destruction under the hand of the Dark Lord, during a great battle, Isildur, the king of Gondor, defeated Sauron.
“Isildur went into the entrance to Mt. Doom, the place where the Ring was forged. He was about to throw it into the fire when greed consumed him and he kept the Ring for himself. Isildur and his sons were killed some time later and the Ring was lost.”
“If the Ring was lost,” Frodo began. “Who found it so that it came into Bilbo’s possession?”
“A hobbit by the name of Déagol was fishing with his friend Sméagol when under the water, Déagol found the Ring. Out of greed and contempt for the Ring, Sméagol killed him and took the Ring. Because they knew what he had done, his family and other hobbits of the town banished him. He began to eat raw fish and making weird noises with his throat that sounded like Gollum and thus people named him Gollum.”
“Gollum?” Frodo muttered under his breath. “You mean the creature Bilbo found in the caves?”
“Yes.” Miriel answered. “Gollum went into hiding in the caves of the mountains where, legend says the Ring consumed him for five hundred years. I have witnessed this creature and seen him. He was taken to my home in Mirkwood before I arrived here. Bilbo found the Ring and took it.
“The Dark Lord is gaining power again in the East. As an elf, I have very keen eyesight and hearing. I have sensed the stirring of him for many years but it was only until Gollum was released from Mordor did it become known to all that the Dark Lord is searching for this very Ring.” She motioned to the Ring on the table. “It must be destroyed, Frodo. It is the only way this evil can stop spreading.”
“Then let us destroy it now.” Frodo motioned toward the cackling fire.
“Here,” Miriel handed him the Ring. “Place this in the fire.”
Frodo did so and with a pair of tongs, Miriel drew the Ring from the fire.
As she placed it in Frodo’s hand she said, “Look very closely, Frodo. What do you see?”
Frodo gazed at the Ring. On the surface of the Ring, fiery red letters became clear on the inside and out side.
“I see inscriptions upon the surface. I cannot read the writing.”
“I can however. It is that of an ancient elvish language. The language is that of Mordor. I will not utter it here however in Common Tongue it says `One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.’ It is only one line of a verse long known in Elven-lore:
`Three rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his Dark throne
In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.'”
Miriel gazed into Frodo’s eyes. Curiosity filled them. His blue eyes glistened in the moonlight.
“The fire did not destroy it.” Miriel said looking at the flames. “It can only be destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom, the place it was forged.”
“And what am I to do with it?” Frodo asked. “Must I alone go to Mordor and destroy this Ring?”
“No.” Miriel said, concern filled her eyes. “This task must be appointed to someone else. No Frodo, you are to travel to Bree where you will meet Gandalf at the Inn of the Prancing Pony. You are to keep your identity secret. Do you understand? The name of Baggins is not safe outside the Shire. My brother is waiting for me there. I cannot stay with you. There at Bree, Gandalf will travel with you to Rivendell, the place of the Elves. There the fate of the Ring will be decided in the hands of the Council. Do you understand?”
Frodo nodded. “You will not come with me to Bree?”
“I cannot. I am to meet my brother, Legolas and we are to leave before you arrive.”
“Will I see you again in Rivendell?” Frodo asked.
“I expect so, yes.” Miriel answered.
Suddenly from outside the window in the bushes was a rustling noise. Miriel drew her sword faster than Frodo could realize there had been any noise outside his window.
“Get down.” Miriel ordered Frodo.
Frodo did so as Miriel carefully edged toward the window silently and out of sight of anyone on the other side of it. Miriel stood by the window waiting for them to rustle again. As soon as they did Miriel reached in and grabbed the shirt of another young hobbit. She pulled him onto the table and pointed the blade of her sword at his throat. This hobbit was much heavier than Frodo. He had reddish-brown curly hair and had stubby legs and arms. He lay quivering upon the table as Miriel eyed him suspiciously.
“Who are you? What do you want?” Miriel demanded.
“S-Samwise Gamgee, my lady.” The young hobbit answered feebly.
“He is my gardener, Miriel.” Frodo cut in rising from the floor. “He means no harm. Please let him go.”
“What were you doing under the window, Sam?” Miriel asked her grip not loosening from his collar.
“I was trimming the grass and the hedges, my lady.” Sam said. He did indeed have a pair of shears in his hands however Miriel had never heard any sound of trimming hedges since Bilbo left.
“I have not heard your shears in quite some time, Sam. Were you eavesdropping?”
“No ma’am, I never drop no eaves I swear it, my good lady.” Fear filled his eyes as he quivered under Miriel’s grasp.
“What did you hear?”
“Not much, my lady. Something about a Dark Lord and a Ring and Elves and Mt. Doom and I heard you recite a lovely poem. Did you create it yourself? If so, you have quite a talent for poetry.”
“I did not write that poem!” Miriel shook him.
“Miriel stop!” Frodo pleaded. “He is my best friend. He meant no harm by listening in, I promise. Whatever he heard will not leave this room, at least not by his lips because I trust him.”
Miriel’s grip on Sam loosened. Sam gasped to breathe.
“It will not leave this room for sure. I am guaranteed on that. He will go with you to Bree.”
Frodo looked at her as did Sam.
“Come with me? But why, I thought I was to do this journey alone.”
“I cannot risk anything, Frodo. Even if Master Gamgee is trustworthy I am under orders from Gandalf that the word of this mission is not to spread past this house. Thus forth, you shall accompany Frodo on his journey to Bree. If any of the facts are hazy to you or if you did not hear the whole conversation, Frodo will explain the story on your journey. I cannot delay here anymore. You are to set out by night, this night. Your presence must go unnoticed and you must stay off the road. And never put the Ring on Frodo, for the agents of the Dark Lord will be drawn to its powers. Make sure he does not do this, Sam. Beware of Men as well, one known Bill Ferny is a spy of Sauron and will reveal you to the Dark Lord. I will see you again in Rivendell. Good luck Frodo. Sam, I am leaving you in charge of Frodo. If anything happens to him you’ll have myself and Gandalf to answer to. Understood?”
Sam nodded his head as he shook.
“Be safe and remember my warnings.” To Sam she whispered, “You best not lose him Master Samwise.” She exited the house. She called for her horse who answered promptly. She mounted Ferine and she took one last glance at the hobbits. “Make haste young hobbits. Farewell.”
Miriel rode into the darkness as Frodo and Sam looked at each other.
“I’m sorry if I’ve caused trouble, Frodo.” Sam said.
“You have caused no trouble Sam.” Frodo patted him on the shoulder. “I am glad she found you. I will like company on my journey.”
“That woman was certainly no hobbit. Who was she?”
“She was Miriel. She is an elf from Mirkwood.” Sam’s mouth dropped as Frodo continued. “We should make haste.”
Moments later the couple set off into the night following Miriel and her horse and the trail they had left behind.