One more secret-Ring concealed by a lie;
Held by a maiden who is lying unknown,
Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Five for Half-ling Hobbits in an underground home;
Who are quick and hasty and hard to spy,
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.
CONCERNING MIDDLE-EARTH, THE HOBBIT RINGS & THE FOURTH SIMARIL
In the beginning, when Middle-earth was plentiful, and the Valar and the Maiar walked among the people. When all could be loved and trusted. Fëanor of the Noldor Elves created the Silmarils; precious gems with great living beauty and power. Of these there were three.
Though Melkor the Dark Lord Rosie up and stole the three precious gems. Six hundred years later, after many deaths and much destruction the Silmarils came into the hands of King Thingol of the Sindar Elves. As fate may tell, greed and misfortune corrupts the strongest of hearts, Thingol gave a Silmaril to the Dwarves of Nogrod so they may cast it in the golden necklace, Nauglamír, but the Dwarves grew hateful and turned against Thingol and slew him.
Yet. Hope was not lost. As new dangers approach, more powerful than Sauron and Melkor.
A hope still remains; for unknown to Melkor, Fëanor had fashioned another Silmaril, a fourth. One that was more powerful and beautiful than all the precious stones and rings. It was made after the others, at the time when Fëanor also fashioned the `Palantíri’ or the Seeing Stones. Fëanor disguised it as one, for it had it’s own special purpose that only two people could use it for. One was to use it for banishing evil forever and the other banishing good.
Though foolish men who came by it used it for the purpose of a Palantír (seeing hidden sights by looking into its depths).
Hundreds of years after the making of the Silmarils and the Palantíri, Fëanor’s grandson; Celebrimbor, forged the seven Dwarf-rings, three Elven-rings, and nine-rings for the race of Men. He was guided and persuaded by an anonymous charmer known only by the name of Annatar. Though unknown to Annatar five more rings were forged, and these five rings were to be given to the race of Hobbits.
Many believe that the Hobbits were not a race of old like the Elves, but in fact they were, and had existed from around the middle of the First Age; and had evolved from the race of Men. One of the rings given to the Hobbits was named Chaeya by the Elves, the ring of the Earth; and some thought it to be even more powerful than the Elven rings.
This ring was first presented out of friendship to the Hobbit-Maia, Gweltha (whose mother; Varlindë, was an earth spirit, and one of the hand-maidens to the Vala; Nienna the Weeper and Nessa the Dancer). And with it Gweltha kept the race of hobbits a secret during the First Age of the Sun. Though she did not know that, with this ring, the user had the power to wield the fourth Silmaril’s powers, and use the ring and stone for good. Another ring could also be able to use it; which Fëanor had not intended, Sauron’s ring. When Celebrimbor and his Elven-smiths had finished work on the rings, they gave them to all the free-people of Middle-earth (as Annatar had requested). Annatar then reviled himself as Sauron the Dark Lord, the Elves were shocked and dismayed at their blindness. Sauron then forged his owned ring; the master ring, that could rule them all! One by one the people of the rings fell; the nine men came under his power, and were demolished into dead shadows that could be used by the Dark Lord for his own purposes in the living-world. They were known as the Nasgûl or Ringwraiths. Sauron captured and killed all the dwarf-lords, and took over their riches and kingdoms. Though the three, the three Elven-rings did not diminish; for he could not find them, though he searched.
And fortunately when Sauron had domain over the world he knew not of the fourth Silmaril, nor even the five-hobbit rings and did not seek them. Only few knew of their existence and powers, and even today the fourth gem lies in wait, it’s extraordinary powers untouched and unused.
The fourth Silmaril, the seventh Palantír.
Hobbits are among one of the races consisting in this tale; and I feel I should explain a bit about their habits and such, so you may learn and understand these small and curious creatures.
They are jolly, kind, respectful little creatures (though some would think rather dull!), who were by trade and nature hole-dwellers (meaning they lived underground), though their holes were not damp, or dirty or dusty, but clean, well-lived in and well polished little hobbit homes.
Most wore large eyes on their oval little faces, pointed ears, and grew a mop of brownish curly hair on their heads. Chiefly they were no taller than 2-4″ (with some exceptions), and their feet were well made, hard and tough, with curly hair sprouting from them; to keep them warm in winter (for they seldom wore shoes).
Much could be said about Hobbits; their families, backgrounds, adventures, births, deaths, events, calendars etc, and even though as much as I would like to, I must continue with the tale for it is one that is of great importance to the history, and indeed the future of Middle-earth. And now only the wisest and oldest inhabitant can remember it. Ere I continue I thought that I should also explain that even though Hobbits are related to our race of Men, Hobbits have a different aging process to Men, they age slower and live longer fuller lives than we, spending much of their time eating, smoking pipe-weed (though only the male Hobbits participate in this), dancing, singing and genuinely being merry little folk. A hobbit can live up to 120 or so if he is very lucky!
CONCERNING MERRY, SAM, FRODO & PIPPIN
Near on thirty years ago a Fellowship of nine set out from the Elven town of Rivendell embarking on a quest that was sure to be greatly painful and grievous for them. Two were of the race of Men; Aragorn son of Arathorn, and Boromir son of Denethor. One Elven Prince; Legolas of Mirkwood. A Dwarf; Gimli Gloin’s son. Gandalf the Grey; a wizard of the Order. And along too went four small Hobbits out of the land called `Shire’; Frodo Baggins (the Ringbearer), Samwise Gamgee (his servant), Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. Their quest was to destroy the One Evil Ring; the Ring of Sauron.
They succeeded in this but not without loss. One of the nine Boromir perished on the journey, and many times did death nearly grasp the others, but they preserved.
The hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin we shall now draw our attention to.
Since we last met these noble hobbits many a thing has happened:
Sam got married to Rosie Cotton and they had had thirteen hobbit children, Sam had said thirteen was now quite enough and that he was getting too old for this, even though he was only at the middle age of 68! Rosie and the old hobbit still lived in Bag-Shot Row, for Sam had refused to leave the house he had grown up in, where so many happy memories still lay close to his heart. After Frodo had left for the Undying Lands with Gandalf, Sam had rightly inherited Bag-End (where Frodo had lived), but on Frodo’s sudden return gladly gave it back. He was now also the Shire’s mayor for the fourth time in a row!
His eldest daughter; Elanor, married Fastred of Greenholm on the Fair Downs.
After the `War of the Ring’ Frodo had taken leave of the Shire and voyaged across the Sea to the Undying Lands with Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel and Bilbo vowing that he may never return, though after a few years of staying in their
luxurious accommodations he grew restless and so returned to the Shire. From the hobbit he was now and the hobbit he had been much had changed; and many believed something happened to him in the Undying Lands or though his life that had made this change, he never spoke of it or the Undying Lands but tried to continue life as a hobbit’s life should be, fraught of laughter and cheer (and of course a pipe of Old Toby’s Tobacco by the fireside). He did seem more content and fuller of laughter and speech since he had returned. Though generally Frodo had not changed much at all; he still remained a bachelor, and moved back into Bag-End which Sam had been looking after since his departure some years ago now.
Pippin had also wed, to Diamond of Long Cleeve. She bore one son, and they named him Faramir in honour Pippin’s noble friend, and brother to Boromir (one of the Fellowship of nine that had perished during their travels).
Pippin was 58 now and still in his prime! He had also been made the Thain (a very high and well respected job), and with the help of his close friend (and second cousin) Meriadoc he had reviewed and edited many consequential books. Earlier during the year; Pippin, Merry, Frodo and Sam had helped many hobbits move from Hobbiton, on what they called The Westmarch, to the Far Downs and the Tower Hills (Emyn Beriad; in the Elvish tongue), which was added on request of King Elessar.
And Merry, well, these past few years had not been a very jolly or happy time for the poor old hobbit! Firstly he did marry, to Estella Bolger.
Secondly he became the master of Buckland. The responsibilities of being Master of Buckland now fell heavily on Merry’s shoulders. Unfortunately Estella had drowned a few years ago on Brandywine River while boating with Merry. Stories began to crop up around the Shire of `Death by Drowning’, which as I understand, consists of a tell-tell story of how Meriadoc Brandybuck straggled Estella in the boat and through her body unto the River. Though this myth had never been proved. Though talk of it could still be heard when Merry wasn’t listening.
And so all the people of Middle-earth, during the thirty years, began to refresh, pull and piece their lives back together again after the defeat of Sauron and his Ring.
THE SMALL EXPECTED PARTY
Many of the stories and songs were lost and forgotten after the `War of the Ring’, since then the songs have been sung about the four great hobbits and their five companions, who braved all to destroy the Ring.
Other such tales did not come to pass the now comfortable, and contented Middle-earth.
One memory of a tale seldom remembered still flickered like a small flame in the wind, though few Men recollected it, and even the once immortal Elves had not heard it’s sweet words for many a decade. For from this race the tale had sprung.
An old man sat with his son on a cold September night, by an open hearth. Through his greying, matted hair was an old, weather-beaten, yet wise face.
He looked up at his young son through kind and well used eyes. The rough haired boy hummed a pleasant little tune, which the boy had not realised that had once had words. Aragorn’s face creased into a smile for he knew the tune well, and was one of the few of the surviving Men to know the words. For he was King Aragorn Elessar of the Reunited Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor, son of Arathorn, and father to young Eldarion who sat beside him still humming.
Eldarion was half Elf, half Man; his mother was Arwen the Elvin daughter of Elrond (who once ruled Rivendell).
For what had happened to them after the defeat of the Dark Lord the story will reveal later…
He scratched an old scar that he had received in the final battle against Sauron the Dark Lord. The servants of Sauron (Ringwraiths or the Nasgûl) had injured him on his lower left jaw in the battle, but it was no danger to him now; the Dark Lord had been defeated and the Ringwraiths too. For years it had been just a small white line, which did not hinder him. Until now………
Aragorn had felt a coldness in his jaw recently; he was suspicious but nothing more.
Aragorn waited till the tune began again, and added the words, softly singing in the elvish tongue:
The leaves were long, the grass was green,
The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,
And in the glade a light was seen
Of stars in shadow shimmering.
Tinúviel was dancing there
To music of a pipe unseen,
And light of stars was in her hair,
And in her raiment glimmering.
There Beren came from mountains cold,
And lost he wandered under leaves,
And where the Elven-river rolled
He walked alone and sorrowing.
He peered between the hemlock-leaves
And saw in wander flowers of gold
Upon her mantle and her sleeves,
And her hair like shadow following.
Enchantment healed his weary feet
That over hills were doomed to roam;
And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,
And grasped at moonbeams glistening.
Through woven woods in Elvenhome
She lightly fled on dancing feet,
And left him lonely still to roam
In the silent forest listening.
He heard there oft the flying sound
Of feet as light as linden-leaves,
Or music welling underground,
In hidden hollows quavering.
Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,
And one by one with sighing sound
Whispering fell the beechen leaves
In the wintry woodland wavering.
He sought her ever, wandering far
Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,
By light of moon and ray of star
In frosty heavens shivering.
Her mantle glinted in the moon,
As on a hill-top high and far
She danced, and at her feet was strewn
A mist of silver quivering.
When winter passed, she came again,
And her song released the sudden spring,
Like rising lark, and falling rain,
And melting water bubbling.
He saw the elven-flowers spring
About her feet, and healed again
He longed by her to dance and sing
Upon the grass untroubling.
Again she fled, but swift he came.
He called her by her elvish name;
And there she halted listening.
One moment stood she, and a spell
His voice laid on her: Beren came,
And doom fell on Tinúviel
That in his arms lay glistening.
As Beren looked into her eyes
Within the shadows of her hair,
The trembling starlight of the skies
He saw there mirrored shimmering.
Tinúviel the elven-fair,
Immortal maiden elven-wise,
About him cast her shadowy hair
And arms like silver glimmering.
Long was the way that fate them bore,
O’er stony mountain cold and grey,
Through halls of iron and darkling door,
And woods of nightshade morrowless.
The Sundering Seas between them lay,
And yet at last they met once more,
And long ago they passed away
In the forest singing sorrowless.
Little did they know that come a year or so every beast and creature in Middle-earth would be singing the tale again………
Meanwhile, in a small sorrowless village, little people went about their nightly workings. The people were called Hobbits.
It was in this hobbit-inhabited village that our adventure began………
The Shire had been buzzing with the news of Frodo Baggins’ 80th Birthday. Though Frodo was very rich, he kept himself to himself, or just to his close friends Samwise Gamgee, Pippin Took, and Merry Brandybuck.
It was the eve of September 22nd; Frodo’s birthday. Secretly they had all thought it best to have a quiet few drinks at the Ivy Bush Inn; Rosie’s pub left to her by her father, old Tom Cotton.
Now they all sat in the Ivy Bush. Sipping beer, singing songs and discussing the `War’ (referring to the Ring).
Neither any decent folk of the Shire, nor the strange and beautiful creatures of the Undying Lands had seen nigh hide nor hair of `that old fool of a conjuring wizard’ as some still called Gandalf the White, until now………
`What’s can I get yer sirs?’ bellowed Sam Gamgee, leaning over the bar.
`Just two beers please Sam, one for me, and one for Merry here!’ bellowed Pippin back forcefully, but smiled at Sam to make sure he knew he didn’t mean anything by it.
Pippin turned to Merry and patted him hard on the back smiling.
Merry made a funny `Gggnnoofff’ noise as Pippin continued to wind him. Merry managed a weak smile and then sunk into a dark, lonely corner behind some tables.
`I don’t know what to do with him anymore.’ Pippin sighed. `He’s been like this ever since Estella died, and Ted Sandyman started spreading all those rumours about the poor old hobbit!’ he added staring into the dark space where Merry lay.
`Mmmmmmmm!’ murmured Sam thoughtfully.
`Mmmmmmmm! Mmmmmmmm! Is that all you can say Sam! You’ve been talking to Ted I bet! What’s he bin’ saying now? And don’t you believe it Samwise Gamgee! You know better than that!’
Sam was a bit taken aback by Pippin’s sudden unexpected outburst. `I ain’t bin listenin’ to any of Ted’s tales, sir. There all lies about dear Mr. Merry, even if I heard one I wouldn’t believe it!’ replied Sam reproachfully.
He put two large tankards of beer on the bar counter, the milky froth trickled down it’s smooth metal, and some brown, bubbly, home-made beer splashed onto the all ready brown and sticky bar top.
`That’ll be ninepence please Master Pippin.’
`O come Sam, on Frodo’s birthday!’
`But he’s not here yet!’
`You miss my point, my old friend,’ tried Pippin again, `It’s the spirit of the birthday, we must think about as well.’
Sam scratched his head and ruffled his light brown (though greying) curls thoughtfully.
`All right you old rascal of a Took, you can have them on the house!’
Pippin smiled. He had done this before and often, but so he always had said, `It is not only to my advantage but to everyone’s!’ which was seldom true!
Rosie came down to help out Sam. Pippin went over with the two beers, one in each hand, to the black table where Meriadoc still sat.
Frodo was late.
At last he arrived just after 8 o’clock, but Pippin had not noticed, for he had been having his own private party with Sam and the beer, since 5 o’clock!
Even Merry looked slightly more happy and contented with himself. `Hhhhuuuoooorrrraaaaaahhh!!!!!!!!’
A loud cheer erupted as Frodo silently pushed open the heavy, stain-glassed, wooden pub door. He stepped in from the cold, the door swung back closed with a creak and a click. The large room was now well filled. It’s smoky atmosphere, open fire and warm, happy faces greatly excited and moved the dark haired hobbit!
He came in and sat heavily down between Merry and Sam. More beer was called for, and Rosie quickly brought them, her little hobbit feet going as fast as they could manage, for the demands were now becoming ever and anon and high! Sam smiled at her thankfully, she smiled back doubtfully.
The party was now in full swing, there was music from flutes, and drums, and harps. Around 30 empty beer tankards were now piled up onto Frodo, Merry, Pippin and Sam’s table, there were many songs and tales and much laughter too! And it was only half past eight!
`Wwwwhhhhaaaacccckkkk!!!!’ went a chair, which shattered on the floor into thousands of razor sharp splitters. The room instantly fell silent. Sam dropped the remainder of a once beautifully carved wooden leg of a chair to the floor. He got up and bent over something, grumbling, he picked it up and held it by it’s long, fat, grey, slimy, wrinkled tail. It was a rat, a rat of tremendous proportion!
`I got the blitter! I got him! Ha! Ha!’ said he in triumph.
Some of the younger and female hobbits screamed and turned or hid away in disgust.
Merry giggled, `Ha! Ha! You haven’t lost your touch, my old friend!’
`Nope!’ everyone agreed.
The noise level quickly grew again, until you had to shout into your friends’ ear to be heard!
During this time not one hobbit (for the noise was so loud) had marked the arrival of three large individuals. Two of
whom were now standing at Sam’s bar patiently, the other was nowhere to be seen.
Frodo glanced over to the bar and noticed two very large creatures in thick, dark green cloaks, standing there as if waiting for something or someone. Sam was complaining about the resent rat problem the Shire seemed to be having, and that they were `Everywhere!’ `I bet they came from Bree, I’ve seen big rats there too!’ he boasted.
Jolly Cotton slid off his chair and under the table, where he gurgled happily. Rosie quickly trotted up, stooped under the table and heaved her younger brother back onto his seat. `Jolly!’ she cried, `What are you doing!’ She turned to Sam. `Sam darling will you watch him for me?’ He nodded. Rosie smiled and trotted off to continue her duties.
`Come here Jolly old boy and sit with us!’ Sam called, grabbing Jolly’s arm and tugging at it until he flopped nearer to him and Frodo.
Pippin had arisen from his feet, and floundered over to a group of giggling female hobbits. Music started up, to a fast and springy jig. Pippin bowed low to the group of ladies.
`If you’ll excuse me ladies.’ He turned to his beautiful wife that stood among them, `could I ask you for a dance Diamond? For your beauty caught my keen eye across the room, and I could not just sit among my fellows and just pretend not to be unhindered by your bewildering sight!’ Pippin held out his arm abiding her decision.
She blushed and giggled at the presence of her husband, and replied: `Peregrin Took, I think you’ve had one to many beers tonight, though after all, it is Frodo’s birthday. And your clever, honey-tipped tongue had better be put away, because you will not win me over with flattery. But yes, I would be honoured to dance with you Peregrin Took of Tookborough.’ He smiled, she linked arms with Pippin, and together they skipped over to join many more dancing hobbits.
Sam spied them dancing, and an idea struck him. He got up and headed through the bar in search of Rosie. He soon came out again, as he had not found her. Then she suddenly appeared from behind a great cheering concourse of hobbits.
He beckoned to her, and she came willingly. Sam stared at the floor (; the way he always did when asking difficult or embarrassing questions).
`Rosie,’ he asked at last.
`Would you….you dance with me?’ he asked, his cheeks turning a brilliant colour of red.
She smiled. `Oh Sam! I’d thought you’d never ask!’
They too joined Pippin and Diamond in the circle of dancing hobbits. Pippin was now doing the popular `Springle Dance’, which could only be preformed by the Took family; as it was a very lively and vigorous dance. Pippin was managing this quite well, considering that he had had many glasses of beer that night already.
Frodo and Merry did not dance, but stayed at their table; keeping the beer and each other company; clapping along merrily to the rhythm of the music.
The song finished. Another soon started up, but Pippin and Sam came back to join the table; Rosie back to serving, though Diamond remained dancing and twirling around in little pirouettes.
Both hobbits (; Sam and Pippin) had turned red and were thoroughly warn-out.
`You’re getting too old for this!’ said Frodo.
`Us old! Never! I still feel as young as a schoolboy!’ laughed Pip.
Sam however felt different, and said so:
`Yeah well that’s you isn’t it Mr. Pippin! My old bones won’t be able to do this in a few years time! You are the youngest here Mr. Pippin, sir, and I’m sure you will last forever, and will probably still be doing silly things like that when you’re a hundred!’
`Oh Sam! I think not somehow!’ he laughed.
The music slowly drifted and died.
Hushed whispers came from the surrounding hobbits, who were all now watching Frodo and Sam’s table intently.
Then suddenly, many stood up and clapped and cheered, some bellowed, `Speech! Speech!’
Sam patted Frodo’s back encouragingly, and Merry and Pippin beamed in the pleasure of seeing Frodo being surprised and abashed, that the crowd had actually come to see him, and his birthday party!
This plot had been forming for some time now, contrived by Pippin, Merry and Sam. They thought a mere simple drink was too little for such a noble and braver friend, that was Frodo Baggins. And had secretly sent out invitations to all Frodo’s close friends and relatives in the Shire, they read:
You are invited to Mr. Frodo Baggines of Bag-End’s 80th Surprise Birthday Party.
To send replies please post to: Mr. Meriadoc Brandybuck,
It will be held in the `Ivy Bush Inn’ ,entry will start at 6 o’ clock by Shire time. It may last well in to the night. Food will not be provided, but drinks and presents at the end will be.
Please do not tell Frodo of his `surprise’ birthday party, other wise it will spoil the `surprise’. I hope you can all come.
Regards Sam Gamgee.
Frodo stood up on his chair.
`My dear old friends! I do not know the meaning of this, or why you all wish for me to make speeches to you?’
`It’s your birthday Frodo, and you thought you would just leave out all the noble hobbits who love and care for you, and celebrate it unhindered and alone except for Merry, Pippin and Sam? Well you were wrong, we have all been invited here by your three friends there next to you! We would not miss your 80th birthday Frodo Baggins! Not in a lifetime!
Happy birthday Frodo Baggins of the Shire!’ cheered Ted Sandyman.
Many `Happy birthday’s’ echoed simultaneously around the Inn.
`Ah! I see, so it was these three here was it! Somehow I don’t ever seem to be able to trust these three….these three….three friends of mine! When ever I turn my back they seem to be plotting something against me!’
His three friends looked a little hurt at this last remark, Frodo laughed, and they realized he was only playing with their feelings, and so laughed with him.
`Speech!’ came the cry again, `Speech! Give us a speech Frodo!’
`So I shall give you the speech you so much desire!’
Cheers erupted from around the room.
`I should actually like to thank my dear friends; Sam, Merry and Pippin; for I would have actually preferred to spend my time surrounded by my dearest friends and family rather than just sat here with these three, or even just by myself!
We have all experience with the twist and turns, the ups, the downs in life, I especially! Though I have always been glad I have had such admirable hobbits by my side, and I know some would even have died for me!’
He continued, gazing at length at Sam.
`But enough of sad times that have passed. We are here to remember something special to you all, I suppose. Though I would also like us to remember dear Bilbo my cousin, uncle and friend, who’s birthday also falls today; on September the 22nd. He shall be one hundred and sixty two today, and wherever he may be I wish him all the best!’
Frodo bent down for his beer flagon, holing it he then Rosie it above his head.
`To Bilbo Baggins, to finest hobbit in the Shire!’ he called.
`To Bilbo!’ the room echoed, and drank deep into their mugs, and set them again on their tables.
`Thankyou all for coming! I hope you have enjoyed yourselves as much as I have! Thankyou Sam for supplying the beer!’
More cheers from the excited crowd.
`And to Rosie for the service, and last to Merry and Pip. I’m sure they also had a very substantial part to play as well! But I will thwart you no more now with my rantings and ravings on, so may you be in the best health and have a lovely time tonight!’
Every hobbit in the room stood up and applauded and cheered Frodo’s words. Frodo bowed and settled back on his chair.
`You rascals!’ he said turning towards his three friends, `How long have you been plotting this scheme?’
`…Um?….For about two months I guess!’
`Two months! Oh dear! Ha, ha, ha!’
Frodo’s eyes wandered round the room for a minute studying the guests; and there were many, old and new.
Though a sight he had not wished to see again met his eyes. The two anonymous shapes clad in dark cloaks, still stood at the bar. Frodo became uneasy, he had forgotten about them! In all the excitement his mind had wandered; though really he did not wish to look upon such foul creatures that may be shielding under the cloaks.
Frodo quickly shoved Sam’s round stomach with his sharp little elbow.
`Oooowwww!’ yelled Sam, and let go of Jolly, `What you go an’ do that for, sir!’ said he rubbing his prodded side.
Frodo pointed at the new arrivals, and whispered something into Sam’s ear.
`Right, sir!’ agreed Sam getting up, he wobbled, and sat down again. `Two minutes, sir, just to get my head straight.’
Half an hour later Sam was still sitting there laughing, drinking and `getting his head straight’. Frodo had had enough, he didn’t like the look of these large creatures, and he demanded to know why were they hear and what they expected to get out of it. He drained his glass, and wandered over, thinking about what he was going to say to these two things, but he need not have bothered.
Frodo stammered to the bar, lay down his empty glass on it, and turned to face them. He stared, they stared back. Frodo’s lips moved but no sound came out. Merry, and a very besotted Sam now joined him. No one spoke. From underneath their hoods it was plain who or what they were. Goblins! The Goblins, Orcs and the Wargs, and most of the Trolls had been driven out of Middle-earth or killed, after the defeat of Sauron, but now there were two large goblins standing in front of them all. Their fat, grotesque faces just
hidden from view by their enormous and heavy cloaks. But up close it was plain as plain could be that they were goblins, the feared and hated, they killed and crushed aught in their paths. They killed poor defenceless hobbits! And now there were two live goblins standing in a room full of poor little, unknowing hobbits!
`We would like a room to stay the night,’ one hissed to Frodo, scowling.
`We have no more rooms. None for goblins.’ At that word every hobbit turned round to listen. `You are not welcome here!’ reminded Sam, butting in.
`I see,’ grumbled the second goblin. `We do not wish tonight to cause any pain or grief, we are too weary.’ A thankful sigh echoed round the room. `But then lest you not house two weary goblins who have travelled from the South then we will take your leave, and go!’
They turned and sauntered out the door. Everyone was quiet. Some hobbits were clinging on to each other with fear and fright, though Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merry seemed shocked but otherwise unhindered by the sudden appearance and departure of the goblins.
`Sam!’ whispered Frodo, breaking the silence. `You just threw two goblins out of your pub!’
`I know!’ said Sam turning red; the alcohol had begun to wear off a bit. `It was a bit silly of me, really! But what are goblins doing out here?’
`Yes, what indeed.’ said a dark, forgotten corner. The hobbits attention now turned to the forgotten corner.
`It still amazes me at how hobbits are so good at spotting and hearing things in the wild, but when it comes to inside I believe they could not even spot a troll if he stood still for long enough, even if he was right at their woolly feet!’ continued the corner, rather rudely this time. A shape started to blend and merge in the corner, the hobbits squinted to see what it was.
Flash! …. A blinding light stretched over them, there was silence for a long time.
When they at last opened their eyes, they saw that they were still in the Ivy Bush, but the dark, forgotten corner was no longer dark, but filled with the most wonderful, magical, bright white light they had ever seen. And now they could also just make out a very tall, old wizard standing behind the light, he was holding a long thrawn, wooden staff. The light seemed to be emanating from it. Pippin stood up. The man lowered the staff and stepped forth, his grey straggly beard and bushy eyebrows were long, thick and uncared for, he had an old wise face, and sad, but kind eyes.
The wizard held open his long, thin arms; he wore a thick, grey travelling gown that dragged on the marbled floor, and underneath Frodo spotted another brilliant glow from a white robe he wore concealed by the grey one. Merry, Sam and Frodo also gathered themselves to their feet to see what this oddity was.
Drawing his left arm over the stream of light that was now blinding him, Pippin could just make out………
`Gandalf!’ he cried and ran into the wizard’s arms, joined a few seconds later by Merry, Sam and Frodo. The light was dimmed and now all the hobbits could see Gandalf the White standing there in all his raiment and glory. A few hobbits eyed Gandalf with suspicion.
The music and revelry erupted once more, and the party continued, Gandalf came to join Frodo’s table, they had much to say and many questions.
`Gandalf! It’s good to see you!’ cheered Merry.
`How long have you been sitting in that corner?’ plied Pippin.
`When did you return from the Undying Lands?’ asked Merry, laughing.
`Why visit the Shire now?’ queried Sam.
`What have you been doing all these long years?’ cried Frodo.
`What is it like in the Undying Lands, sir, cos’ we couldn’t get nothing out of Mr. Frodo here!’ squeaked Sam.
Frodo glowered at Sam for a moment and then smiled. `Oh Sam! Dear old Sam! It would take forever to tell you all that I have done and seen there! And we do not have forever!’
`No we most certainly do not! But my friends! My friends! One question at a time! All will come apparent soon enough.’
Pippin was now very puzzled. `What do you mean by that?’
`Your late, again!’ said Frodo cheekily, turning on Gandalf and smiling.
Gandalf smiled. Frodo still remembered the jokes they told when he was in his tweens, he had not forgotten!
`A wizard is never late young Frodo Baggins! Nor are they early! They always arrive precisely when they mean to!’
The room buzzed excitedly.
`To your question Pippin, I was in that corner for two hours without you noticing, it is 10.30pm now, so I must have arrived around 8.30pm.
`I returned from the Undying Lands about ten years ago now it must be, Merry. I missed this old place and I would have given the world to see it again and now I have!
`All these long years since I returned, Frodo, I have been studying, and travelling.’ He paused.
`And I agree with Frodo about the Undying Lands, Sam, for it would take an Elven life-time to tell you about all the tales and wanders, and right now we do not have the time! Maybe one day Sam you could hear the tales, or even visit the Lands yourself.’
`I would like that very much, Mr. Gandalf, I think, but only if you and Mr. Pippin and Mr. Merry and Mr. Frodo and Rosie here could come too!’
`I’m not sure Sam!’ interrupted Merry, `It sounds very nice and all, but I think my place would be in the Shire to tell you the truth, I’d miss it so much.’
`And I would. I think I would stay here also with Merry,’ Pippin added.
`Come now, why are we idly chitty-chatting when there is business to discuss,’ interrupted Gandalf this time. `To your last question Sam, I feel I must not engage in here. Somewhere more private, perhaps, for it is very urgent that I speak with you all.’
`We could use the back bedroom?’ suggested Sam.
`Yes, very well that will suffice.’
Sam led the way through the bar, down large rounded corridors to a small, homely fire lit room.
The room was circular-shaped, and yellowish in colour, it bore three small little round windows one facing out east, one west, and the other north, and a welcoming roaring fire.
One hobbit bed, two chairs and a small wooden table. More chairs were called for, and Sam’s youngest son, Pippin quickly brought them. They all sat down; Merry, Sam, Frodo, Pippin and Gandalf around the little table.
Gandalf bumped his head on the ceiling a couple of times, until he finally was forced to retire to the chair. Which, when he sat on it, buckled under his weight.
`My dear friends!’ he said. `How old are you now?’
“How old are we? Why would you want to know that?’ asked Frodo apprehensively.
`No reason. Just curious,’ he replied innocently.
Merry was just as baffled as the others, but felt it unfriendly not to answer their old companion.
`I am 66, Pippin 58, Sam 68 and dear Frodo is 80 today!’
`Yes, well, I will come straight to the point. You must leave the Shire again.’
`Leave the Shire but why, Gandalf?’ they screeched, as if in pain.
`I will tell you why, but the real reason that I tell you, must not be told to any other, do you understand?’
They all nodded.
`Well, I believe that something is happening again, something evil and sinister, I believe it is happening in the South, in Rohan.’
There was a dim silence.
`In Rohan!’ cried Merry, `Rohan! Nothing evil dwells in Rohan Gandalf! Not in the noblest of lands, the land of the fair horse-lords, the Rohirrim. It cannot be true!’
`It is Meriadoc, I fear it is! Something ill is stirring there. Dark clouds shade the Sun, birds and an ill voice is in the air. I hear also tidings of a new tower, a nameless tower, shrouded in mist that has been erected from the earth. Who knows what strange creature dwells there, and what its plans are? Though I am certain they are evil ones. And even though I sent word to King Éomer of my fears, I have yet to have a reply.’
`Is it something to do with the Ring again? Though I believe it was destroyed, I have a feeling now………’ Sam trailed into silence.
`I believe it too Sam. I fear the Ring was not destroyed. I fear that the Ring has somehow reactivated again, but this time I feel it is in other more dangerous hands than it was in Frodo’s, it is stronger!’ Said Gandalf his voice slightly shaky, a look of thought flashed on his pallid face.
`But Gandalf, the Ring was destroyed with Gollum when he fell into the Fires, it destroyed him and the Ring did it not?’ `Yeah and I was with him and that wretched Gollum creature, and look what Mr. Frodo got for being nice and trusting to that foul creature!’ piped up Sam, holding up Frodo’s hand which had a finger missing.
Frodo grinned a thoughtful grin, `I know Sam, I should have listened to you about Gollum before.’ He sighed. `But it is too late now!’
No one spoke for sometime. At last, the questions plying in Frodo’s head became too much.
`But why come and see us Gandalf? There are many a younger and stronger man or elf that would go on your quest! I do not see what four aging hobbits can do about this new danger. You are surely not presuming that we will go off on your wild `ring’ chase!’
`The answer is very simple, dear Frodo. You have experience for a start, and there is a will, loyalty and bond in you, which nothing could ever describe. You are special. I, Gandalf the White, myself would feel much safer in the hands of hobbits like you, than some elven warrior!’
The hobbits looked shocked, Gandalf had never really shown them any gratitude for their work ere.
He leaned back in his chair smiling contentedly to himself.
Reaching inside his grey cloak he pulled out from a hidden pocket four small, glass bottles, each containing a purple foamy mixture. He set them on the table. They all stared at the peculiar bottles and their substances. The hobbits all leaned in closer to get a better look.
`This,’ said Gandalf slowly, sitting up. `Is the key, if you are going to accomplish your task.’
`What are they?’ asked Sam, foolishly picking one up by it’s corked rim. Gandalf snatched it back.
`Be careful Sam, they are very fragile!’ he screeched setting it carefully back onto the table.
`They are youth potions; they would take you back until you were aged between 20 and 33 hobbit years. You could look, feel and act like you were a tween again. I have made this potion to take you back to when you were most doughty, and so that you will not be too young. I have also made it especially so it will not affect your memory of the job in hand. There is one draw back though, it is a permanent potion you will go back to a certain young age, and you will just have to grow up again. This is an optional mission, though I would be grateful if you all decided to participate. I will give you these now. You have tonight to decide whether you will join me, if you will, then please take the potion ere you go to sleep. We will meet outside this Inn at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning; I will bring transport and some provisions. This will be a long, hard journey, worse than our first I fear. I hear that the Ringwraiths are already searching for it, the Ringwraiths may also be searching for us if they have heard of our quest, we nearly destroyed the Ring last time and they will not hesitate in finding us and hunting us down if they know we are also perusing it, and there will be many new spies and dangers along the way. Be careful, my friends.’
For a long few minutes everyone remained in their seats pondering how the Ring could have been saved, about the new dangers and if they should follow on this quest. Gandalf searched them with his eyes for a while, and then took out his pipe added some tobacco and lit it.
Merry Rosie from his seat first, and said, `I think I know already what I must do, and I hope you will make the right choices too for everyone’s sakes not just your own!’
With that he took the vial of potion and silently left the room. The others remained for a while longer, until Frodo also quickly took the bottle and left. Now only Pippin and Sam remained. They were both uneasy about the new journey and about what the last one cost them. Though they both agreed to return home and ponder some more, which they did.
They gathered their bottles of potion, and silently left the room.
Sam remind behind in the Inn for a while, Frodo also. Until they at last managed to get every last hobbit outdoors and grant them a small present each (; as was hobbit custom on birthdays).
When Frodo and Sam had finished in the Inn they wished Rosie a good night (Rosie had said she’d clean up and see Sam back at home), and now Frodo and Samwise walked side-by-side towards the Hill.
Merry had headed for Brandywine Hall. Pippin hurried off to Tookborough.
A lot went though their minds that night, they tossed and turned in bed not knowing what to do.
Frodo was calmer, but disappointed that he hadn’t properly destroyed the Ring. He made up his mind quite quickly. He had no need to stay in Bag-End, and the prospect of being young again excited him. He took the potion and went into a peaceful, dreamless sleep.
Merry was having similar thoughts, he also had no reason to stay on now he had no family left (save for distant relatives who still dwelt with him in the Hall), he would have to make arrangements soon if he was going, for someone to care for the Hall when he was gone and keep everything in order. He returned home late to Brandywine Hall. Merry had words with his cousin Doderic Brandybuck, about the keep of the Hall and that he would be left in charge of it as Merry was going away for some while, though he could not say where. Even though Doderic pressed Merry about it, Merry said no word.
And as Merry returned to his bedchamber he too swallowed the potion and went into a sleep; but since the death of his wife, all his once peaceful dreams had turned to haunting reoccurring nightmares.
Pippin and Sam on the other hand both had families; they both had decided not to tell their wives, as they would never allow them to go. There was much disturbance in their sleep that night. They could not make up their minds. Part of them wanted to see the mountains and the Elves and rivers again, but the other part told them to stay safe in their homes `But for how long were those homes to be safe? Thought Pippin’.
Sam opened his eyes, the sun streamed into the bedroom. It was morning. The cobwebs of a heavy sleep quickly lifted from his eyes. He got up and dressed.
Holding a shirt, he spun round to the mirror, his jaw dropped to the floor and so did the shirt. In the mirror he saw a young, handsome, thin, light curly haired hobbit staring back at him, the shirt dropped to the wooden floor with a thud. Rosie groaned, and tossed in her sleep, what would Rosie think if she caught him!
He slipped his shirt, braces, trousers and old brown, travelling cloak on. Then he hurriedly packed some food and utensils in a very large back-pack; apples, carrots, a flint box and some tinder, mushrooms, water, biscuits, his pipe and tobacco, bread and cheese, two old handkerchiefs, spare and extra clothes, pots and pans (not forgetting his little treasures he bought with him last time; some salt and some herbs), and a travelling stick. Sam reached over and took down his old sword (which was no more than a dagger to you and I) from its place above the hearth.
`Rope!’ he muttered to himself, `you always forget your rope don’t you, you silly old Gamgee! Bother! Where did I put that bloomin’ rope!’
Sam managed to find a good long piece of it curled up at the bottom of a chest full of his best waistcoats. `How on earth did it get in there I wander?’ he asked himself, but of course he could not reply. He kissed Rosie softly on the cheek, and went swiftly and silently out the room.
It was 7.30am, he just had enough time to grab a bite of breakfast, soon he found himself running about everywhere; he had forgotten how good it had felt to be young, he had so much energy and enthusiasm, he was ready to burst with it!
He managed to have a good filling, substantial breakfast quite quickly; of mushrooms, eggs, bacon and bread.
`That alone should at least keep me going for a week anyhow! And now something to fill up the edges!’ He grabbed some carrots and after he had demolished those he washed it all down with a good glass of cider. `There!’ he said. `All done! Funny old breakfast, but it will do, yes it will do!’
He stopped. `Poor Rosie!’ he sighed, `Leaving her all by herself, but I can’t reject my master, and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin.’ He thought. `I know! I’ll leave her a note, well; I’d prefer her to know I haven’t left her!’ So ere he left, Sam wrote a quick note a to Rosie, and this is what he wrote:
Dear Rosie (my love).
Do not be angry or upset, but I have gone away. Though I cannot tell you where, or how long I will be; I do not know how long for, maybe for years. Who knows? Please look after the children and the house for me! I am sorry to leave you like this, but I cannot leave my master and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin. I will entrust the duties of the office of Mayor to your dear brother, Tom (;I have not yet informed him of this, but I’m sure you will).
I shall return, my love!
Your loving husband,
He put the quill down, and set the piece of paper on the living-room mantle-piece.
At 7.45am he set out from Bag-Shot Row towards The Ivy Bush Inn where they had been informed to meet. It was not far, only half a mile or so. He thought of calling on his master, Frodo, but decided that Frodo might not desire the company at the moment.
It was a beautiful day; the blue sky stretched as far as the eye could see, and no cloud vexed its marvellously clear exterior. He passed many rolling wheat fields, sheep and goats chewed grass contently in their paddocks, and early songbirds sang to the rising red sun. He kicked the brown dirt under his feet contently as he humbled along humming little snatches of old songs here and there. The warm sun lighted his spirits and Sam felt sure he was ready for anything. `If even there was a big old cave troll standing right here trying to squish me I bet I could handle him, I feel like I could handle anything to day!’ he chuckled to himself. At last he caught sight of the tall blue and green Inn seemingly rising up from the ground.
The pub was like a small version of a man’s house, and though hobbits were characteristically hole-dwellers some did have to live in men-like-houses that were above ground. Though they had no upper floor (for hobbits did not like heights).
Sam trotted up to its door, and surveyed his surroundings.
`Always late!’ he joked to himself.
He set his packs down, turned and settled on them. The sun shone brightly and warmed Sam’s cold, stiff fingers; a gentle westerly breeze ruffled his brown hair. He smiled, and drew in long and hard breathes of the fresh, sweet autumn air.
He was not surprised at the faces some of the hobbits gave him as they went passed. `A lone strange, young hobbit firstly saying `hello’ or `good morning’ and then talking to them as if he had known them for years, and knowing their names?’
`Morning Ted!’ `Nice day today, don’t you agree Master Bolger?’ and `How’s your leg, today, Mrs. Took? Better?’ Sam was having a great time with this little game; he had totally forgotten about the adventure that he had promised to take part in. Until the arrival of 3 more young and handsome hobbits that remarkably looked just like Merry, Pippin and Frodo did when they were younger.
Merry arrived first, he was skipping along quite happily, and singing to himself, for he had not felt this good in a long while! Merry had also become thin again, rosy cheeked, bright eyed and his curly mop had returned to the youthful blonde-brown colour it had once been. Merry shone as he skipped along the path to the pub.
Secondly Frodo appeared. He now had his brilliantly dark hair back, a spring in his step and that old twinkle back in his azure eyes (though the twinkle had never gone, it had began to fade). At first they sat down next to each other, and exchanged glances. They did not recognize each other, they all looked so different!
`What are you waiting for then?’ Sam asked after a bit.
`I’m waiting for my three friends to turn up!’ answered Merry.
`Me too!’ said Frodo.
`And me!’ exclaimed Sam.
They stared long and hard at each other. After a while Sam added with a nervous disposition in his voice, `Mr. Frodo, Mr. Merry is that you?’
They both nodded.
`Sam is that you? You look so…..so….young!’
They all got up, ran to each other, and embraced. They laughed and cried at the excitement and pleasure to be young and active again, they could not remember a time when they had been so full of joy!
`But where is Master Pippin?’ inquired Sam.
Frodo sat down smiling and pondering to himself: `of course Peregrin! How could they forget him? Where was he? Could he not be coming?’
`We should wait for him. He will come. I do not believe our Pip would refuse a quest, he has not done so yet anyhow. Anyway Gandalf is not here yet, we must wait for him and the transport.’ Merry demanded.
They reseated themselves, and waited…and waited…time passed so quickly, like a swift spring breeze. It was reaching 11 o’clock and still there was no sign of Pippin nor of Gandalf.
`Oh! Where can they be?’ exclaimed Sam.
From afar, amongst the Golding beechen leaves, which stretched over the pebbly road, came the echo `Clip-Clop.’
`A horse!’ said Merry, shifting his weight.
`Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop. Clip-Clop,’ echoed the feet.
`And now there are six! It must be Gandalf with our transport, he promised to deliver.’ Sam squeaked, now himself on his own tough little feet.
Soon as the promising clip clopping drew nigh, two distinctive voices could be heard singing sweet melodies. One unmistakeably, was that which belonged to Gandalf for it was low in tone and flat in pitch. The other was a stranger to them; someone young perhaps, for they had a high toned voice that was used very well, and unmistakably often practiced.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Continued they, in unison.
Yes it was Gandalf, for his blue pointed hat, beard and bushy eyebrows that stuck out over the rim could now be seen appearing over the top of the small hill which the road stretched over. Accompanying him were four small hobbit sized beasts, one larger pack pony and a magnificent albino horse that Gandalf had mounted. And mounted on one of the fattest, oldest faced hobbit ponies sat a small, young, male, hobbit. It was this strange hobbit that had been singing such sweet and timely melodies. Riding up to the Inn they halted and dismounted.
`Hullo, my friends!’ cried Pippin, joyfully. `All ready for our little expedition, I presume?’
`How does this pale-faced hobbit know about our quest?’ Thought Merry.
`Now each please take the pony I give you, and do not mistreat or lose him. For these are special beasts, useful, they will become your friends. It is important that you have a strong bond with your beast, for that bond will be needed and tested at sometime in our journey. Beasts have not been especially important to any of our quests before, yet this will be different. We need all the help and encouragement we can muster, even if it maybe from our tame animals,’ explained Gandalf. The hobbits exchanged glances and looked slightly uneasy, but did what was bidden.
`To you Merry, I grant you the care of Pawfoot the noble. He is the fastest of our clan so be careful, his speed can be a bit overpowering for a hobbit,’ Gandalf warned.
`I will grant him my stern hand, and my friendship,’ said Merry, stoking the beasts’ nose.
`Sam, Crescentmoon the secret, will you travel on. For he is wary, he will keep you on your toes and your wits about you.’
Sam smiled; he liked the sound of his pony.
`Wisenose shall be your keep Frodo. In a situation he always knows exactly what to do.’
`Mine, as you should know in case of trouble, and you call upon his assistance, is Nightstream. He is a very good horse for long distance travelling, and is always a great help to me when I am in danger.’
`And what may we say is the name of this fine beast of burden?’ Sam asked, patting it’s back.
`Ahh!’ said Gandalf, smiling. `Our noble beast of burden,
our pack-pony. I bought and chose him with my own fair hand. I took much care and consideration on his name, but in the end I decided on a name that I am sure you will all remember, and to honour our two most brilliant companions I have named him `Saddle-built Bill’ or just `Bill’ for short.’
Sam gasped, and smiled a large thoughtful smile. He remembered their old pack-pony who was called Bill. Sam missed him still. Two small, wet tears formed in his eyes. He rubbed at them with the back of his sleeve carefully so the others would not see that he was upset.
`Pippin, to whom I have given the strongest little pony I have ever known. His noble owner granted his leave, so you should be grateful to Old Tom Bombadil for his best and sturdiest pony, Old Fatty Lumpkin.’
They all Rosie to their feet.
`Pippin, you mean this young chap here is our old Peregrin Took?’ asked they.
`I do indeed, after much thought last night your old Peregrin Took decided to join us.’
Cheers and laughter echoed round the whole Shire. Pippin had arrived!
`Now that’s enough, all of you, I know you are terribly excited about the adventure and all it’s new prospects, but we must be getting on now!’ interrupted Gandalf, his patience was growing short.
`Now, now patience is a virtue Gandalf!’ Pippin interrupted back, smiling.
`Ohh, come along you rascals lets getting going, or we shall all be in our graves ere you even mount!’
The 3 hobbits mounted, their given fair, and gently kicked off at a steady trot; though Pawfoot seemed to already be miles ahead, and whether this had been Merry’s intention we shall not know.
They set off into the wilderness just as they had done 30 years ago, not knowing what may come around the next corner, or where a path may lead.
Soon, as they caught up with Merry, they headed off the road and into more uninhabited and barren surroundings; as they had found out about the road’s hidden dangers the hard way. And if indeed the Ringwraiths fathomed out their quest and indeed were pursuing them, the road was no longer safe.
Little hidden freshets sploshed happily to themselves and small impertinent breezes replied, throwing fallen leaves about in graceful, merry circles as they crossed through the tall stalks of farmlands. Soon they came across wide-open and abundant, lush grass plains miles wide. With only a few apple-burdened trees, some great pine trees dotted here and there at the borders and hedges; they had entered the orchard country in the Shire.
The trees grew and grew, in number and in size. The apple-trees slowly disappeared like a slow morning mist does when it senses the presence of an auspicious sun, and insidiously the many pine trees closed in on them. So much so that after a time the tall over-shadowing trees seemed to almost obstruct the passing light of morning, until it was incomprehensible to even tell what time of day it was. From far off came the echo, `Hom, Hoom!’
`What was that?’ hissed Frodo. Everyone halted listening.
`I don’t rightly now, sir!’ replied Sam, `It sounded ever so strange, what ever it was! Maybe a Ringwraith or some other kind of ghastly beast!’ Gandalf said nothing but kicked Nightstream on. The others as if pulled out of a strange and threatening dream pulled them themselves up and shook their heads, and trotted after Gandalf, who was now disappearing into the trees.
`I don’t like this!’ squeaked Pippin. `And when are we going to set camp, and have dinner?’ he said rubbing his aching backside; they had been on horseback throughout the day.
Still they rode on. The only sounds to be heard, were the rustling of the ponies feet as they meandered on, and now and again the flutter of birds taking off or wild squeaking of floor animals going about their own nightly business, contented and happy. No other sounds now echoed round the grim forest, no `Hom! Hooming!’ which they where all grateful for. Still the great old pine trees that have seen many a sight, and heard many a whispered or raised word, continued to seemingly close their enormous barked trunks in on the unexpected riders. Gandalf stared worryingly at the trees for a while; his gaze softened and became concerned, though he tried to cover it with a smile.
Gandalf’s lack of speech and song (in which he usually participated in during such quests) had also begun to thwart Frodo and the other Halflings. The silence had become discomforting. After a long while of riding Pippin (who was also afraid of the forest, and why Gandalf was being so quiet) began to sing his favourite little tune to try and raise spirits. The same little tune that Bilbo had sung ere him. The others joined in also. Pippin’s cheeks puffed out as he began, and there dwindling was that old forgotten mischievous glint in his blue-green eyes.
Like a golden river that flows,
You must follow its path,
Wherever it swimmingly goes,
Under stream or over mountain tath.
You must follow. Ye he! Ye ha!
You must follow. Ye se! Ye far!
Let it take you wherever it may roam,
By Dwarf, Man, Orc and Elf,
Or even the dastardly, secretive gnome,
It will open up your eyes to one’s self.
You must follow. Ye ho! Ye me!
You must follow. Ye po! Ye ke!
Merry looked round. They had all been singing and enjoying themselves so much, that they had not noticed the absence of Pippin from their side. `Where had the silly Took got to? He thought.’ They had no time to wait for him, though they pleaded with Gandalf to stop for a rest, and give Pippin the chance to catch up, he flatly refused.
`No, I will not, and cannot wait for your young Took. Has strayed from us and that is no fault of mine. If he still has his ride then he shall be more than all right!’ the wizard explained, trying to calm the little woolly-toed hobbits down.
`Mr. Pippin shall be eaten by the wolves, or worst he will have to eat them!’ Sam wailed.
`Sam, I thought you had more sense in you to know that Peregrin always comes out for the best in these situations. His pony, Old Fatty Lumpkin knows these woods like the back of his hoof. They are in no danger, mark my words!’ Though on this last point Gandalf looked vigilantly at the ominous conifer trees. As if an undecided thought was about to be tested.
Pippin galloped through the evergreen trees. Old Fatty Lumpkin doing his best to go at Pippin’s needed pace.
`This is the place!’ he cried. `We’ll have a feast tonight!’ He dismounted and tied Fatty to one of the smallest, though strongest, trees he could find. His short curlish-wavy, light brown hair swayed in the breeze. As quietly as a hobbit could, he slowly crept up the gravel path, towards a brightly glowing wooden house. On either side of him grew barley wheat, three times the size of him! Holding their stalks, Pippin shook them. The tasty, precious golden wheat dropped to the ground beside him. Picking them up he hurriedly stuffed them in a small brown bag, and continued his way on the small path up to Old Farmer Maggots house. Dogs bayed from far off. Pippin dived into a crop of barley; cautiously he popped his head out from in between the tall stalks. Listening with his large, pointed hobbit ears, he heard nothing, no more dogs, no angry Farmer Maggot come to reprimand him for being in his crop again.
When Pippin had been in his young adolescent tweens he and his first and second cousins Merry Brandybuck and Frodo Baggins, had oft trespassed on Maggots crop. Scrounging for wheat, cabbages, or a hobbit favourite and dainty, mushrooms!
`A hobbit can never have enough mushrooms,’ or so many hobbits have said.
Pippin shifted his weight onto his arms and began to crawl out of his hiding place, kicking up much dirt. He cocked his ears. A strange sound had reached them. The sound of a very heavy thing, so heavy that as it got closer the ground under Pippin started to move with every step the beast took. Pippin had not noticed it before but it was now very dark. Though in the dim light that emitted from the lamps of Maggots house, Pippin could just see a very, very, very large beast, horse-like in appearance.
… … …