This is part three of five, but jump right in if you are new–you won’t be lost. You can always read the previous chapters later. Or, start with chapters one and two:
To Open Every Door – Gandalf, the Unexpected Visitor
To Open Every Door – Rosie Breaks Her Silence
Though the advance of spring seemed slowed by fresh winds from the north, the sun rose clear and bright the morning after the return of Frodo’s illness. The sound of Sam’s early morning singing drifted through the hall, calling Frodo from his healing sleep. Dreams and pieces of the day and night just passed began to flit through his mind, but he lay still, eyes closed, clinging to Sam’s merry tune. At least for the time being, the shadows that had bound him so tightly the previous day were pushed back into the recesses of his mind.
“When are you going to open those eyes of yours?” asked Gandalf.
“O,” said Frodo, raising his eyelids to find Gandalf sitting in a chair at the foot of the bed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that you would still be here.”
“I left you last night after you fell asleep, but I’ve been here now for quite some time waiting for you to wake,” said Gandalf.” There was the sound of the front door closing, and then a soft knock at the bedroom door. “Come in, Rose,” he called.
Rosie quickly bustled into the room with some small jars and containers. “Sam’s gone to bring in some more wood for the wood box,” she said. “It’s gotten cold again.”
“So last night was not a dream,” said Frodo, sitting up in bed.
“No,” replied Rosie, “not a dream and I’m here now to make good on one of my promises.” She laid out the jars and containers on the dresser and, after carefully studying Frodo’s face, opened three of them. “Let’s see what I can do about the way you look,” she said. Then, an amused Gandalf watched Frodo’s silent discomfort as she dabbed and rubbed various creams and lotions on his face, trying to hide the dark circles under his eyes and his almost transparent colour. After a few moments she leaned back and pronounced her work “good enough …if Sam doesn’t get too close.” Rose turned to Gandalf. “I think that you’re uncomfortable sleeping in the guest room and would rather have the study. It’s larger and has a nice window. Can you move Frodo’s desk in here?” she asked.
Gandalf started to protest that things were fine the way they were, when she shook her head and laughed. “I want Frodo’s desk in his room so Sam can think he is writing some of the time instead of lying in bed all day,” she said. Gandalf gave a hearty laugh, and then dutifully went to arrange the furniture as she had asked.
Rosie turned her attention back to Frodo. “Do you feel up to coming to breakfast this morning?” she asked. “You need to if you can at all. Sam really wants to see you. He wants to tell you about his trip yesterday.”
“Yes, I can come see Sam,” answered Frodo. “I still feel a little weak …and my shoulder aches a bit …but I am hungry.”
“Good,” replied Rosie. “It’s best to come out whenever Sam is in the house …if you’re able. That way he won’t worry when you’re not around.”
Frodo raised one brow in amusement. “Why Rosie,” he said, “you are a most formidable opponent indeed. I’m so glad you are on my side.”
“Don’t make fun, Mr. Frodo,” she said with a smile, replacing the lid on the last of the jars.
“No, I don’t think I will,” he said, turning serious. “I wish I had asked your help long ago. Maybe Sam would not have found me ill last year.”
“What’s done is done,” she said, trying to brighten his mood again. “We’ll just have to make the best of it here and now.” Frodo offered her a grateful smile as she patted his arm.
Soon Gandalf returned to the room with Frodo’s desk. Rosie slid past him and called from the doorway. “I’ll see you both at breakfast in a bit.”
Though the fever and longing for the Ring did not return, Frodo’s wounds continued to ache. At times that was his only trouble, but often he was cold and weary, or shadowed by a weight of fear or despair. When his illness was less, Frodo was able to spend time–time that he now treasured–with Sam and Rosie and Gandalf. And it was, in truth, more time than he was used to spending in the presence of others, for he had tried hard to give Sam and Rosie the privacy and space he felt they deserved. Now too, Gandalf and Rosie often urged him past his pain with words about the shortness of the time. But when his illness was so great that he feared he could not hide it from Sam, Frodo retreated to his room. Then, oftentimes, Gandalf or Rosie would come and sit with him and try to turn his mind to other things. On an afternoon of gathering clouds exactly one week after Gandalf’s arrival, it was he who sat with Frodo as he shivered under the covers.
“I cannot help but feel guilty about this gem …and about Arwen,” said Frodo, who had been holding it closely all morning, “though I know now, I cannot do without it.” He shuddered again against the cold that was in his soul. “Does Arwen know everything that is in my mind?”
“No, no… of course not,” answered Gandalf. “She does not know your thoughts at all, though she has seen and now guesses much through her own wisdom. She shares your heart, not your mind. If you are filled with sorrow or fear or shame she feels it, so you would do good not to add more unnecessary guilt to her burden.
Frodo opened his mouth to speak then hastily pressed his fist to his lips. He sat silently for a several moments, turning these new thoughts over in his mind. “If I wish not to cause Arwen further pain, it seems I must just simply accept her gift,” he said at last, rolling the white jewel in his fingers. “I seems my ruined heart is open to everyone–everyone but the one who knows me best,” he added wistfully.
“Does that bother you so much?” asked Gandalf.
“No …I would not have Sam share this burden,” he quickly answered. “Nor you or Rosie if I could help it. As for Arwen …to take another where I have been.” Frodo shook his head slowly. “In truth am still shocked to think that I am not alone even in my own heart.”
“Then all the world should be as shocked,” muttered Gandalf, with a small laugh. He brushed his hand at Frodo’s questioning look then went on. “But our help you must have, and you should not begrudge that which is given in love.”
“I know,” replied Frodo, nodding, “…and so I shall accept this with what little grace is given to me.” He turned the shining stone over again in his hand. “You said before that Lady Arwen sings to me?”
“Arwen uses all her powers to comfort you as she would herself or another in the same room; she weaves songs of light that take you out of the present world, so to speak.”
“In Lothlórien, Sam said he felt as if we were inside a song,” said Frodo. He closed his eyes as he labored to bring to light a hidden memory of beauty from the dark tangle of shadows that threatened to choke him. “I felt it so,” he said at last, “…that first night in Rivendell–it was as if I was carried away in a gold and silver stream.”
“Well, you are in Arwen’s songs now,” said Gandalf. “She is in them as well, and the comfort comes to both of you.”
“So if I gave this jewel to someone else, would she be able to help them?” asked Frodo.
“No, the gem is a gift,” answered Gandalf. “The giver is the one who shares in the gift. You would share the burden of the one to whom you gave it.”
“I could not sing elvish songs like Arwen,” said Frodo, lost in thought. “Though I know that the ones I have heard are still buried deep within me …somehow I cannot seem to remember them now.”
“She has been singing for more years than you can even imagine. But I suppose you could learn to use it, though use is not the right word. Are you thinking of leaving the jewel with Sam?” asked Gandalf.
“I am,” said Frodo, “if it is possible for me to part with it. …But it would be of little use. I have no songs of hope with which to comfort another, no matter how I might wish it.”
“You will sing again someday,” said Gandalf with an encouraging nod, “of that I am sure. As to the question of whether or not you are able give the jewel, is not really rather a question of whether or not you should give it. If the answer is yes, then you ought to do so, no matter what the cost. That is the way of true gifts. Still, I do think that you may safely part with it once you are in the hands of the elves.
“Then I must leave it,” he replied, “for I do fear for Sam. Twice he put the Ring on, and though he seems fine, there is no way to be sure.” Frodo grimaced slightly then put his hand to the old knife wound, gingerly rubbing it with his fingertips. “When I was rid of it at last, I thought I was whole again. But now, along with my other wounds, it is tearing me apart once more. I cannot take that chance with Sam.”
“Your decision is proper then,” replied Gandalf. “But I think it far wiser to worry about the here and now since that is where we are. It is time that you talk to Samwise. Rose has told me that he has been having some dreams about that last day on the mountain. Perhaps he thinks he failed you in some way.”
“Yes,” Frodo agreed, with a reluctant nod. “I do need to talk to Sam, but I’m afraid that if I start, I might break down and tell him things that would only hurt him more. It would crush him to learn how broken I really am …and that I could never be healed here and must sail with the elves”
“If it comes to that, then so be it,” said Gandalf. “I do not think that you have erred so far, but if it is right to tell Sam, then you will tell him.”
Though the next day was warmer, the skies were heavy with a slow steady drizzle that lasted all morning and kept Sam out of the beloved garden. He had begun the day before to turn over the soil in the main plot, that he might be ready to plant the seeds as soon as there was no more fear of frost. On this day of rain, Frodo himself felt better than he had since the return of his illness, having only a slight ache in his left arm. It seemed there would be no better time for his talk with Sam. Not long after lunch he entered the study and found Sam sitting with a book on his knees. As Sam looked up, Frodo came to stand before him, and in his arms he carried the red leather book. “I have finished with Merry and Pippin’s part in the war,” began Frodo. “Very soon I shall need your help for the hardest part Sam–the part on the mountain. I need to hear your memories of everything that happened.”
“It’s too hard for you, Mr. Frodo,” said Sam, shaking his head firmly and closing his book. Then he quickly softened and began to plead, “We don’t need to be stirring that up again. I don’t think you should write anymore.”
“Some things are hard to write,” said Frodo gently, “but I will miss the good, if I don’t tell our tale.”
“There’s nothing good about what happened in Mordor,” said Sam, “except that the cursed Ring went into the fire.”
“You are wrong, Sam. Remember when I told you that I could not see, or feel, or remember anything of the Shire?”
“Yes,” answered Sam, tears coming to his eyes. “I remember …but please …let’s not talk about that now.”
Frodo sat down beside him. “I’m sorry …but I need to tell you this,” he said. “What I said that day was wrong. When things were the darkest, when my eyes were too clouded even to see you, I could still hear your voice. You were the only part of the Shire that was left to me.” Frodo laid his hand on Sam’s shoulder as Sam brushed at the tears that were sliding down his cheeks. “I don’t remember everything, but I do remember the way you carried me and the way you kissed my hands and held them to stop me from putting on the Ring.”
“But I failed,” said Sam in misery. “You did put it on, and I wasn’t there to stop you. It’s my fault that you don’t feel right yet.”
“You did stop me when it was most important,” said Frodo, now firm and resolute. “If I had put it on then, all would have been lost.” He shuddered as if he saw again the fiery eye. “He …would have had us.”
“Well, I should’ve made you wait for me, instead of telling you to go on after Gollum jumped us,” said Sam.
“If I had waited for you, Gollum would have come upon us again before we reached the tunnel,” replied Frodo. “He would not have been so foolish as to try us both together again. You would have been knocked down first, as it happened at the end, and I would have had no choice but to use the Ring. Who won it in the end would not have mattered, for again, Sauron would have come to claim it.
Sam rubbed his head thoughtfully for a few moments, considering what had never occurred to him. “I suppose you are right about that; our quest would have failed,” he admitted. “The problem was that I was just too slow to get to you. If I’d been faster, Gollum wouldn’t have caught me, and I could have been there to stop you.”
“No, Sam! No!” cried Frodo, horror written on his face. “That would have been the worst thing of all,” he said, clutching at the gem and struggling for breath. Sam reached out to comfort him, but he pulled away. “I thought you understood about the Ring, Sam,” he cried, gasping between words. “I thought you knew what it had done to me. …I would not have heard reason. …You could not have taken the Ring from me, but by force.” Frodo shuddered and tears sprang to his eyes. “I would have fought you–you might have died in the fires.”
Time fell away, and they were both face to face with the horror of that other day. With a great sob Sam seized Frodo to his shoulder, and they clung together, grieving for a pain that was new again. Sam, for his part, drew near once more to the mountain that he had willed from his mind and looked full into the sorrow that had been. And bitter were the tears that he wept, both for himself and for the one who had carried the greater burden. Then …he turned from the Mountain, never again to tread that road in the same way.
And Frodo, for a time, found solace in the love of him who knew his failure to the full and yet loved him none the less. At long last he pulled away, but his eyes held Sam’s fast. “Though all the world had fallen into darkness that day, I should not have paid a higher price than if you had come to harm through my own hands,” he said. “I would have been as Gollum who killed his friend, but you are more than a friend to me, Sam …and more even than a brother.”
And Sam looked on Frodo, his heart full of marvel at the one whose light shimmered before eyes. “I know,” he said, running his sleeve across his tear stained face, “for you are much more to me than my own brothers. And I do understand what that thing was doing to you–what it’s still doing.” Sam’s voice grew strong and sure as he spoke. “And I know there was no other way for it to be destroyed.”
Frodo brushed at his own tears. “There was no other way, Sam–no other way …except to cast it into the fire myself …and I was not strong enough.”
Then Sam took Frodo by the shoulders as if by the force of his will alone he could turn his master’s mind. “But you carried it just far enough–the Ring did go into the fire, and that’s the important thing. We can’t go on feeling bad about it forever,” he said, shaking his head.
“Why can’t my dear Frodo see the truth?” Sam cried silently to himself. He was cut to the heart by the shining beauty that his master could not see. “Truth is, he’s still paid too dear a price,” he thought, for he knew that Frodo would have found death to be the easier road had he not led him from it.
“I do not want to feel this way, but I cannot help it … not yet, at any rate,” said Frodo. He took a deep breath. “That is one of the reasons why I have to write the book. It helps me to see more clearly with my mind even if it does not mend my heart.”
“Then we’ll finish this book and get it over with so we can go on with our lives and be really happy,” said Sam with desperate determination. “Then things will be like the old days, only better. We’ll go out to the Green Dragon, and we’ll have birthday parties again, like we used to. Me and Rose will find you a pretty hobbit lass. You’ll see Mr. Frodo. Then we’ll all have lots of children and have the grandest house in the Shire–why we’ll even pass the Tooks when it comes to hobbits.”
Frodo smiled. “That is a beautiful dream Sam–a very happy dream indeed. But for now, you and Rosie, and Merry and Pippin when they come, are all I really need–all I really want. Can you trust me?” he asked.
“Yes,” answered Sam. “For now it’s just us, and Gandalf too, but I can keep my plans can’t I?” he pleaded. And Sam pushed against the doubts that were in his mind. “Let’s have some of Rose’s pie now. You’re still much too thin for a proper hobbit.” He jumped up, dragging Frodo to his feet. “Not that you look bad mind me, but most hobbit lasses would like a bit more hobbit, if you take my meaning.”
Then Frodo laughed in earnest, and it was clear and strong and pushed away all the sorrows of the wretched mountain. “Yes, let’s have some pie Mr. Samwise Gamgee,” he said, putting his arm around his more than eager friend. “You know you are quite worse than Rosie–always trying to fatten me up.”
And in Frodo’s laugh, hope was born again in Sam. …No …Frodo would never again be just a simple hobbit, but, perhaps, he might be happy someday soon. Perhaps he would be healed after all.
A special thanks to Pippinsqueak for helping me think through all the “what-ifs” of Mt. Doom. I believe I’ve written a more satisfying and truthful story because of her insights
Check back soon for part four, “Frodo Faces the Night.” Comments are much appreciated.