Chapter Two: A Close Call
It was a good thing Frodo had grown up in Buckland – therefore being a good swimmer – for the water was much deeper here. He swam strongly against the current, and saw ahead of him sand being stirred up. His eyes widened as he saw Merry struggling frantically to get free of something wrapped around his ankle.
Frodo swam through the sand floating thickly around him and grabbed Merry’s hand. His cousin looked up at him with eyes wide with fear, and struggled harder as Frodo pulled with all his might. But the creature did not release the hobbit lad, but tugged back sharply, pulling both young hobbits down deeper.
Frodo let go of Merry’s hand and swam down to the bottom. As the sand shifted, he was finally able to see the creature that held his cousin. Had he not been under water, he would have gasped in horror. The beast was eel-like with reptilian scales and cunning red eyes with slit-like black pupils. It was even larger than the fish Merry had caught earlier; probably twice Merry’s size and thick as Frodo’s fist.
Frodo desperately drew his small, Elven-carved pocketknife and drove it into the scaly hide of the creature, which gave a hiss of pain and recoiled. It opened its mouth and snapped at Frodo, who withdrew his hand just in time. He yanked his knife out of the creature and grabbed Merry. His lungs were now burning from lack of air, and Merry had gone limp in his arms.
With one last burst of energy, he determinedly pushed himself and his cousin up to the surface. He gasped for air as found firm ground beneath his feet and the water down to his neck. His head was spinning but he quickly carried Merry to the shore and gently laid him down. He was nearly oblivious to Sam’s shouts of relief which quickly turned to concern as the younger hobbit saw Frodo kneeling over Merry’s motionless form. He splashed across the brook, heedless of the little black snake still trying to swim to safety.
Frodo frantically brushed his fingers under his cousin’s chin, and pressed for a pulse. After a few agonizing moments, he felt it, though very weak. He quickly wiped the tears from his azure eyes and looked up at Sam who knelt down beside him. “Is he…?” Frodo vehemently shook his head. “He has a pulse, but he’s not breathing. Help me get the water out of his lungs, Sam!” Sam nodded and placed his hands on poor Merry’s chest. “Now!” Both he and Frodo pressed down rhythmically three times then paused as Frodo checked for breath. “Again!”
Three times they pounded on Merry’s chest and Frodo felt tears welling in his eyes again. But suddenly, Merry coughed up what seemed like a bucket-full of water. “Push one more time, Sam!” Frodo and Sam pressed down hard on the young Brandybuck’s chest and he coughed up more water before slowly opening his eyes.
“What are you two blockheads doing, pounding on me like that?” he complained with another cough. “I feel like bread dough!”
Frodo laughed with relief and hugged Merry tightly, much to the younger lad’s embarrassment. “Oh, Merry! I thought I had lost you!” Frodo grinned, brushing away some tears sliding down his cheeks, “Of course, our first trip on our own and you have to go and nearly drown on me! What will Bilbo say? We’ll probably never be allowed out of his sight again.” All three lads laughed merrily, and Frodo helped Merry to his feet. “Come on, let’s go get some dry clothes on. Thanks to you, I’m soaked.”
Merry looked up at his cousin incredulously. “Me? If I recall correctly, sir, you were the one who pushed me in to begin with!”
~To Be Continued~
Thank you for your reviews! I have finished this already (although if any of you have suggestions, I may re-write parts of it), so I’ll be posting each chapter about every other day. 🙂