The Fellowship of the Ring icon

The Fellowship of the Ring



НазваниеThe Fellowship of the Ring
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Дата конвертации19.09.2012
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“What he had been doing he would not say. He only wept and called us cruel, with many a gollum in his throat; and when we pressed him he whined and cringed, and rubbed his long hands, licking his fingers as if they pained him, as if he remembered some old torture. But I am afraid there is no possible doubt: he had made his slow, sneaking way, step by step, mile by mile, south, down at last to the Land of Mordor.”

A heavy silence fell in the room. Frodo could hear his heart beating. Even outside everything seemed still. No sound of Sam’s shears could now be heard.

“Yes, to Mordor,” said Gandalf. “Alas! Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons. And all folk were whispering then of the new Shadow in the South, and its hatred of the West. There were his fine new friends, who would help him in his revenge!

“Wretched fool! In that land he would learn much, too much for his comfort. And sooner or later as he lurked and pried on the borders he would be caught, and taken—for examination. That was the way of it, I fear. When he was found he had already been there long, and was on his way back. On some errand of mischief. But that does not matter much now. His worst mischief was done.

“Yes, alas! through him the Enemy has learned that the One has been found again. He knows where Isildur fell. He knows where Gollum found his ring. He knows that it is a Great Ring, for it gave long life. He knows that it is not one of the Three, for they have never been lost, and they endure no evil. He knows that it is not one of the Seven, or the Nine, for they are accounted for. He knows that it is the One. And he has at last heard, I think, of hobbits and the Shire.

“The Shire—he may be seeking for it now, if he has not already found out where it lies. Indeed, Frodo, I fear that he may even think that the long-unnoticed name of Baggins has become important.”

“But this is terrible!” cried Frodo. “Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”

“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.”

“I am sorry,” said Frodo. “But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.”

“You have not seen him,” Gandalf broke in.

“No, and I don’t want to,” said Frodo. I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.”

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many—yours not least. In any case we did not kill him: he is very old and very wretched. The Wood-elves have him in prison, but they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts.”

“All the same,” said Frodo, “even if Bilbo could not kill Gollum, I wish he had not kept the Ring. I wish he had never found it, and that I had not got it! Why did you let me keep it? Why didn’t you make me throw it away, or, or destroy it?”

“Let you? Make you?” said the wizard. “Haven’t you been listening to all that I have said? You are not thinking of what you are saying. But as for throwing it away, that was obviously wrong. These Rings have a way of being found. In evil hands it might have done great evil. Worst of all, it might have fallen into the hands of the Enemy. Indeed it certainly would; for this is the One, and he is exerting all his power to find it or draw it to himself.

“Of course, my dear Frodo, it was dangerous for you; and that has troubled me deeply. But there was so much at stake that I had to take some risk—though even when I was far away there has never been a day when the Shire has not been guarded by watchful eyes. As long as you never used it, I did not think that the Ring would have any lasting effect on you, not for evil, not at any rate for a very long time. And you must remember that nine years ago, when I last saw you, I still knew little for certain.”

“But why not destroy it, as you say should have been done long ago?” cried Frodo again. If you had warned me, or even sent me a message, I would have done away with it.”

“Would you? How would you do that? Have you ever tried?”

“No. But I suppose one could hammer it or melt it.”

“Try!” said Gandalf. Try now!”

Frodo drew the Ring out of his pocket again and looked at it. It now appeared plain and smooth, without mark or device that he could see. The gold looked very fair and pure, and Frodo thought how rich and beautiful was its colour, how perfect was its roundness. It was an admirable thing and altogether precious. When he took it out he had intended to fling it from him into the very hottest part of the fire. But he found now that he could not do so, not without a great struggle. He weighed the Ring in his hand, hesitating, and forcing himself to remember all that Gandalf had told him; and then with an effort of will he made a movement, as if to cast it away—but he found that he had put it back in his pocket.

Gandalf laughed grimly. “You see? Already you too, Frodo, cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it. And I could not “make” you—except by force, which would break your mind. But as for breaking the Ring, force is useless. Even if you took it and struck it with a heavy sledge-hammer, it would make no dint in it. It cannot be unmade by your hands, or by mine.

“Your small fire, of course, would not melt even ordinary gold. This Ring has already passed through it unscathed, and even unheated. But there is no smith’s forge in this Shire that could change it at all. Not even the anvils and furnaces of the Dwarves could do that. It has been said that dragon-fire could melt and consume the Rings of Power, but there is not now any dragon left on earth in which the old fire is hot enough; nor was there ever any dragon, not even Ancalagon the Black, who could have harmed the One Ring, the Ruling Ring, for that was made by Sauron himself. There is only one way: to find the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the Fire-mountain, and cast the Ring in there, if you really wish to destroy it, to put it beyond the grasp of the Enemy for ever.”

“I do really wish to destroy it!” cried Frodo. “Or, well, to have it destroyed. I am not made for perilous quests. I wish I had never seen the Ring! Why did it come to me? Why was I chosen?”

“Such questions cannot be answered,” said Gandalf. “You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: not for power or wisdom, at any rate. But you have been chosen, and you must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.”

“But I have so little of any of these things! You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?”

“No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to wield it would be too great, for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.”

He went to the window and drew aside the curtains and the shutters. Sunlight streamed back again into the room. Sam passed along the path outside whistling. “And now,” said the wizard, turning back to Frodo, “the decision lies with you. But I will always help you.” He laid his hand on Frodo’s shoulder. “I will help you bear this burden, as long as It is yours to bear. But we must do something, soon. The Enemy is moving.”

There was a long silence. Gandalf sat down again and puffed at his pipe, as if lost in thought. His eyes seemed closed, but under the lids he was watching Frodo intently. Frodo gazed fixedly at the red embers on the hearth, until they filled all his vision, and he seemed to be looking down into profound wells of fire. He was thinking of the fabled Cracks of Doom and the terror of the Fiery Mountain.

“Well!” said Gandalf at last. “What are you thinking about? Have you decided what to do?”

“No!” answered Frodo, coming back to himself out of darkness, and finding to his surprise that it was not dark, and that out of the window he could see the sunlit garden. “Or perhaps, yes. As far as I understand what you have said, I suppose I must keep the Ring and guard it, at least for the present, whatever it may do to me.”

“Whatever it may do, it will be slow, slow to evil, if you keep it with that purpose,” said Gandalf.

“I hope so,” said Frodo. “But I hope that you may find some other better keeper soon. But in the meanwhile it seems that I am a danger, a danger to all that live near me. I cannot keep the Ring and stay here. I ought to leave Bag End, leave the Shire, leave everything and go away.” He sighed.

“I should like to save the Shire, if I could—though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.

“Of course, I have sometimes thought of going away, but I imagined that as a kind of holiday, a series of adventures like Bilbo’s or better, ending in peace. But this would mean exile, a flight from danger into danger, drawing it after me. And I suppose I must go alone, if I am to do that and save the Shire. But I feel very small, and very uprooted, and well—desperate. The Enemy is so strong and terrible.”

He did not tell Gandalf, but as he was speaking a great desire to follow Bilbo flamed up in his heart—to follow Bilbo, and even perhaps to find him again. It was so strong that it overcame his fear: he could almost have run out there and then down the road without his hat, as Bilbo had done on a similar morning long ago.

“My dear Frodo!” exclaimed Gandalf. “Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch. I hardly expected to get such an answer, not even from you. But Bilbo made no mistake in choosing his heir, though he little thought how important it would prove. I am afraid you are right. The Ring will not be able to stay hidden in the Shire much longer; and for your own sake, as well as for others, you will have to go, and leave the name of Baggins behind you. That name will not be safe to have, outside the Shire or in the Wild. I will give you a travelling name now. When you go, go as Mr. Underhill.

“But I don’t think you need go alone. Not if you know of anyone you can trust, and who would be willing to go by your side—and that you would be willing to take into unknown perils. But if you look for a companion, be careful in choosing! And be careful of what you say, even to your closest friends! The enemy has many spies and many ways of hearing.”

Suddenly he stopped as if listening. Frodo became aware that all was very quiet, inside and outside. Gandalf crept to one side of the window. Then with a dart he sprang to the sill, and thrust a long arm out and downwards. There was a squawk, and up came Sam Gamgee’s curly head hauled by one ear.

“Well, well, bless my beard!” said Gandalf. “Sam Gamgee is it? Now what may you be doing?”

“Lor bless you, Mr. Gandalf, sir!” said Sam. “Nothing! Leastways I was just trimming the grass-border under the window, if you follow me.” He picked up his shears and exhibited them as evidence.

“I don’t,” said Gandalf grimly. It is some time since I last heard the sound of your shears. How long have you been eavesdropping?”

“Eavesdropping, sir? I don’t follow you, begging your pardon. There ain’t no eaves at Bag End, and that’s a fact.”

“Don’t be a fool! What have you heard, and why did you listen?” Gandalf’s eyes flashed and his brows stuck out like bristles.

“Mr. Frodo, sir!” cried Sam quaking. “Don’t let him hurt me, sir! Don’t let him turn me into anything unnatural! My old dad would take on so. I meant no harm, on my honour, sir!”

“He won’t hurt you,” said Frodo, hardly able to keep from laughing, although he was himself startled and rather puzzled. “He knows, as well as I do, that you mean no harm. But just you up and answer his questions straight away!”

“Well, sir,” said Sam dithering a little. “I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy, and rings, and Mr. Bilbo, sir, and dragons, and a fiery mountain, and—and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn’t help myself, if you know what I mean. Lor bless me, sir, but I do love tales of that sort. And I believe them too, whatever Ted may say. Elves, sir! I would dearly love to see them. Couldn’t you take me to see Elves, sir, when you go?”

Suddenly Gandalf laughed. “Come inside!” he shouted, and putting out both his arms he lifted the astonished Sam, shears, grass-clippings and all, right through the window and stood him on the floor. “Take you to see Elves, eh?” he said, eyeing Sam closely, but with a smile flickering on his face. “So you heard that Mr. Frodo is going away?”

“I did, sir. And that’s why I choked: which you heard seemingly. I tried not to, sir, but it burst out of me: I was so upset.”

“It can’t be helped, Sam,” said Frodo sadly. He had suddenly realized that flying from the Shire would mean more painful partings than merely saying farewell to the familiar comforts of Bag End. “I shall have to go. But”—and here he looked hard at Sam—“if you really care about me, you will keep that dead secret. See? If you don’t, if you even breathe a word of what you’ve heard here, then I hope Gandalf will turn you into a spotted toad and fill the garden full of grass-snakes.”

Sam fell on his knees, trembling. “Get up, Sam!” said Gandalf. I have thought of something better than that. Something to shut your mouth, and punish you properly for listening. You shall go away with Mr. Frodo!”

“Me, sir!” cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. “Me go and see Elves and all! Hooray!” he shouted, and then burst into tears.


Chapter 3
^ THREE IS COMPANY


“You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon,” said Gandalf. Two or three weeks had passed, and still Frodo made no sign of getting ready to go.

“I know. But it is difficult to do both,” he objected. If I just vanish like Bilbo, the tale will be all over the Shire in no time.”

“Of course you mustn’t vanish!” said Gandalf. “That wouldn’t do at all! I said soon, not instantly. If you can think of any way of slipping out of the Shire without its being generally known, it will be worth a little delay. But you must not delay too long.”

“What about the autumn, on or after Our Birthday?” asked Frodo. “I think I could probably make some arrangements by then.”

To tell the truth, he was very reluctant to start, now that it had come to the point. Bag End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years, and he wanted to savour as much as he could of his last summer in the Shire. When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying, as it always did at that season. He had indeed privately made up his mind to leave on his fiftieth birthday: Bilbo’s one hundred and twenty-eighth. It seemed somehow the proper day on which to set out and follow him. Following Bilbo was uppermost in his mind, and the one thing that made the thought of leaving bearable. He thought as little as possible about the Ring, and where it might lead him in the end. But he did not tell all his thoughts to Gandalf. What the wizard guessed was always difficult to tell.

He looked at Frodo and smiled. “Very well,” he said. “I think that will do—but it must not be any later. I am getting very anxious. In the mean-while, do take care, and don’t let out any hint of where you are going! And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad.”

“As for where I am going,” said Frodo, “it would be difficult to give that away, for I have no clear idea myself, yet.”

“Don’t be absurd!” said Gandalf. “I am not warning you against leaving an address at the post-office! But you are leaving the Shire—and that should not be known, until you are far away. And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East—and the direction should certainly not be known.”

“I have been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving Bag End, and of saying farewell, that I have never even considered the direction,” said Frodo. “For where am I to go? And by what shall I steer? What is to be my quest? Bilbo went to find a treasure, there and back again; but I go to lose one, and not return, as far as I can see.”

“But you cannot see very far,” said Gandalf. “Neither can I. It may be your task to find the Cracks of Doom; but that quest may be for others: I do not know. At any rate you are not ready for that long road yet.”

“No indeed!” said Frodo. “But in the meantime what course am I to lake?”

“Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight,” answered the wizard. “If you want my advice, make for Rivendell. That journey should not prove too perilous, though the Road is less easy than it was, and it will grow worse as the year fails.”

“Rivendell!” said Frodo. “Very good: I will go east, and I will make for Rivendell. I will take Sam to visit the Elves; he will be delighted.” He spoke lightly; but his heart was moved suddenly with a desire to see the house of Elrond Halfelven, and breathe the air of that deep valley where many of the Fair Folk still dwelt in peace.

One summer’s evening an astonishing piece of news reached the Ivy Bush and Green Dragon. Giants and other portents on the borders of the Shire were forgotten for more important matters: Mr. Frodo was selling Bag End, indeed he had already sold it—to the Sackville-Bagginses!

“For a nice bit, loo,” said some. “At a bargain price,” said others, “and that’s more likely when Mistress Lobelia’s the buyer.” (Otho had died some years before, at the ripe but disappointed age of 102.)

Just why Mr. Frodo was selling his beautiful hole was even more debatable than the price. A few held the theory—supported by the nods and hints of Mr. Baggins himself—that Frodo’s money was running out: he was going to leave Hobbiton and live in a quiet way on the proceeds of the sale down in Buckland among his Brandybuck relations. “As far from the Sackville-Bagginses as may be,” some added. But so firmly fixed had the notion of the immeasurable wealth of the Bagginses of Bag End become that most found this hard to believe, harder than any other reason or unreason that their fancy could suggest: to most it suggested a dark and yet unrevealed plot by Gandalf. Though he kept himself very quiet and did not go about by day, it was well known that he was “hiding up in the Bag End”. But however a removal might fit in with the designs of his wizardry, there was no doubt about the fact: Frodo Baggins was going back to Buckland.

“Yes, I shall be moving this autumn,” he said. “Merry Brandybuck is looking out for a nice little hole for me, or perhaps a small house.”

As a matter of fact with Merry’s help he had already chosen and bought a little house at Crickhollow in the country beyond Bucklebury. To all but Sam he pretended he was going to settle down there permanently. The decision to set out eastwards had suggested the idea to him; for Buckland was on the eastern borders of the Shire, and as he had lived there in childhood his going back would at least seem credible.

Gandalf stayed in the Shire for over two months. Then one evening, at the end of June, soon after Frodo’s plan had been finally arranged, he suddenly announced that he was going off again next morning. “Only for a short while, I hope,” he said. “But I am going down beyond the southern borders to get some news, if I can. I have been idle longer than I should.”

He spoke lightly, but it seemed to Frodo that he looked rather worried. “Has anything happened?” he asked.

“Well no; but I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into. If I think it necessary after all for you to get off at once, I shall come back immediately, or at least send word. In the meanwhile stick to your plan; but be more careful than ever, especially of the Ring. Let me impress on you once more: don’t use it!”

He went off at dawn. “I may be back any day,” he said. “At the very latest I shall come back for the farewell party. I think after all you may need my company on the Road.”
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