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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At first Frodo was a good deal disturbed, and wondered often what Gandalf could have heard; but his uneasiness wore off, and in the fine weather he forgot his troubles for a while. The Shire had seldom seen so fair a summer, or so rich an autumn: the trees were laden with apples, honey was dripping in the combs, and the corn was tall and full.

Autumn was well under way before Frodo began to worry about Gandalf again. September was passing and there was still no news of him. The Birthday, and the removal, drew nearer, and still he did not come, or send word. Bag End began to be busy. Some of Frodo’s friends came to stay and help him with the packing: there was Fredegar Bolger and Folco Boffin, and of course his special friends Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck. Between them they turned the whole place upside-down.

On September 20th two covered carts went off laden to Buckland, conveying the furniture and goods that Frodo had not sold to his new home, by way of the Brandywine Bridge. The next day Frodo became really anxious, and kept a constant look-out for Gandalf. Thursday, his birthday morning, dawned as fair and clear as it had long ago for Bilbo’s great party. Still Gandalf did not appear. In the evening Frodo gave his farewell feast: it was quite small, just a dinner for himself and his four helpers; but he was troubled and fell in no mood for it. The thought that he would so soon have to part with his young friends weighed on his heart. He wondered how he would break it to them.

The four younger hobbits were, however, in high spirits, and the party soon became very cheerful in spite of Gandalf’s absence. The dining-room was bare except for a table and chairs, but the food was good, and there was good wine: Frodo’s wine had not been included in the sale to the Sackville-Bagginses.

“Whatever happens to the rest of my stuff, when the S.-B.s get their claws on it, at any rate I have found a good home for this!” said Frodo, as he drained his glass. It was the last drop of Old Winyards.

When they had sung many songs, and talked of many things they had done together, they toasted Bilbo’s birthday, and they drank his health and Frodo’s together according to Frodo’s custom. Then they went out for a sniff of air, and glimpse of the stars, and then they went to bed. Frodo’s party was over, and Gandalf had not come.

The next morning they were busy packing another cart with the remainder of the luggage. Merry took charge of this, and drove off with Fatty (that is Fredegar Bolger). “Someone must get there and warm the house before you arrive,” said Merry. “Well, see you later—the day after tomorrow, if you don’t go to sleep on the way!”

Folco went home after lunch, but Pippin remained behind. Frodo was restless and anxious, listening in vain for a sound of Gandalf. He decided to wait until nightfall. After that, if Gandalf wanted him urgently, he would go to Crickhollow, and might even get there first. For Frodo was going on foot. His plan—for pleasure and a last look at the Shire as much as any other reason—was to walk from Hobbiton to Bucklebury Ferry, taking it fairly easy.

“I shall get myself a bit into training, too,” he said, looking at himself in a dusty mirror in the half-empty hall. He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather flabby, he thought.

After lunch, the Sackville-Bagginses, Lobelia and her sandy-haired son, Lotho, turned up, much to Frodo’s annoyance. “Ours at last!” said Lobelia, as she stepped inside. It was not polite; nor strictly true, for the sale of Bag End did not take effect until midnight. But Lobelia can perhaps be forgiven: she had been obliged to wait about seventy-seven years longer for Bag End than she once hoped, and she was now a hundred years old. Anyway, she had come to see that nothing she had paid for had been carried off; and she wanted the keys. It took a long while to satisfy her, as she had brought a complete inventory with her and went right through it. In the end she departed with Lotho and the spare key and the promise that the other key would be left at the Gamgees” in Bagshot Row. She snorted, and showed plainly that she thought the Gamgees capable of plundering the hole during the night. Frodo did not offer her any tea.

He took his own tea with Pippin and Sam Gamgee in the kitchen. It had been officially announced that Sam was coming to Buckland “to do for Mr. Frodo and look after his bit of garden”; an arrangement that was approved by the Gaffer, though it did not console him for the prospect of having Lobelia as a neighbour.

“Our last meal at Bag End!” said Frodo, pushing back his chair. They left the washing up for Lobelia. Pippin and Sam strapped up their three packs and piled them in the porch. Pippin went out for a last stroll in the garden. Sam disappeared.

The sun went down. Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners. It grew slowly dark indoors. He went out and walked down to the gate at the bottom of the path, and then on a short way down the Hill Road. He half expected to see Gandalf come striding up through the dusk.

The sky was clear and the stars were growing bright. “It’s going to be a fine night,” he said aloud. “That’s good for a beginning. I feel like walking. I can’t bear any more hanging about. I am going to start, and Gandalf must follow me.” He turned to go back, and then slopped, for he heard voices, just round the corner by the end of Bagshot Row. One voice was certainly the old Gaffer’s; the other was strange, and somehow unpleasant. He could not make out what it said, but he heard the Gaffer’s answers, which were rather shrill. The old man seemed put out.

“No, Mr. Baggins has gone away. Went this morning, and my Sam went with him: anyway all his stuff went. Yes, sold out and gone, I tell’ee. Why? Why’s none of my business, or yours. Where to? That ain’t no secret. He’s moved to Bucklebury or some such place, away down yonder. Yes it is—a tidy way. I’ve never been so far myself; they’re queer folks in Buckland. No, I can’t give no message. Good night to you!”

Footsteps went away down the Hill. Frodo wondered vaguely why the fact that they did not come on up the Hill seemed a great relief. “I am sick of questions and curiosity about my doings, I suppose,” he thought. “What an inquisitive lot they all are!” He had half a mind to go and ask the Gaffer who the inquirer was; but he thought better (or worse) of it, and turned and walked quickly back to Bag End.

Pippin was sitting on his pack in the porch. Sam was not there. Frodo stepped inside the dark door. “Sam!” he called. “Sam! Time!”

“Coming, sir!” came the answer from far within, followed soon by Sam himself, wiping his mouth. He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar.

“All aboard, Sam?” said Frodo.

“Yes, sir. I’ll last for a bit now, sir.”

Frodo shut and locked the round door, and gave the key to Sam. “Run down with this to your home, Sam!” he said. “Then cut along the Row and meet us as quick as you can at the gate in the lane beyond the meadows. We are not going through the village tonight. Too many ears pricking and eyes prying.” Sam ran off at full speed.

“Well, now we’re off at last!” said Frodo. They shouldered their packs and took up their sticks, and walked round the corner to the west side of Bag End. “Good-bye!” said Frodo, looking at the dark blank windows. He waved his hand, and then turned and (following Bilbo, if he had known it) hurried after Peregrin down the garden-path. They jumped over the low place in the hedge at the bottom and took to the fields, passing into the darkness like a rustle in the grasses.

At the bottom of the Hill on its western side they came to the gate opening on to a narrow lane. There they halted and adjusted the straps of their packs. Presently Sam appeared, trotting quickly and breathing hard; his heavy pack was hoisted high on his shoulders, and he had put on his head a tall shapeless fell bag, which he called a hat. In the gloom he looked very much like a dwarf.

“I am sure you have given me all the heaviest stuff,” said Frodo. “I pity snails, and all that carry their homes on their backs.”

“I could take a lot more yet, sir. My packet is quite light,” said Sam stoutly and untruthfully.

“No, you don’t, Sam!” said Pippin. “It is good for him. He’s got nothing except what he ordered us to pack. He’s been slack lately, and he’ll feel the weight less when he’s walked off some of his own.”

“Be kind to a poor old hobbit!” laughed Frodo. “I shall be as thin as a willow-wand, I’m sure, before I get to Buckland. But I was talking nonsense. I suspect you have taken more than your share, Sam, and I shall look into it at our next packing.” He picked up his stick again. “Well, we all like walking in the dark,” he said, “so let’s put some miles behind us before bed.”

For a short way they followed the lane westwards. Then leaving it they turned left and took quietly to the fields again. They went in single file along hedgerows and the borders of coppices, and night fell dark about them. In their dark cloaks they were as invisible as if they all had magic rings. Since they were all hobbits, and were trying to be silent, they made no noise that even hobbits would hear. Even the wild things in the fields and woods hardly noticed their passing.

After some time they crossed the Water, west of Hobbiton, by a narrow plank-bridge. The stream was there no more than a winding black ribbon, bordered with leaning alder-trees. A mile or two further south they hastily crossed the great road from the Brandywine Bridge; they were now in the Tookland and bending south-eastwards they made for the Green Hill Country. As they began to climb its first slopes they looked back and saw the lamps in Hobbiton far off twinkling in the gentle valley of the Water. Soon it disappeared in the folds of the darkened land, and was followed by Bywater beside its grey pool. When the light of the last farm was far behind, peeping among the trees, Frodo turned and waved a hand in farewell.

“I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again,” he said quietly.

When they had walked for about three hours they rested. The night was clear, cool, and starry, but smoke-like wisps of mist were creeping up the hill-sides from the streams and deep meadows. Thin-clad birches, swaying in a light wind above their heads, made a black net against the pale sky. They ate a very frugal supper (for hobbits), and then went on again. Soon they struck a narrow road, that went rolling up and down, fading grey into the darkness ahead: the road to Woodhall, and Stock, and the Bucklebury Ferry. It climbed away from the main road in the Water-valley, and wound over the skirts of the Green Hills towards Woody-End, a wild corner of the Eastfarthing.

After a while they plunged into a deeply cloven track between tall trees that rustled their dry leaves in the night. It was very dark. At first they talked, or hummed a tune softly together, being now far away from inquisitive ears. Then they marched on in silence, and Pippin began to lag behind. At last, as they began to climb a steep slope, he stopped and yawned.

“I am so sleepy,” he said, “that soon I shall fall down on the road. Are you going to sleep on your legs? It is nearly midnight.”

“I thought you liked walking in the dark,” said Frodo. “But there is no great hurry. Merry expects us some time the day after tomorrow; but that leaves us nearly two days more. We’ll halt at the first likely spot.”

“The wind’s in the West,” said Sam. “If we get to the other side of this hill, we shall find a spot that is sheltered and snug enough, sir. There is a dry fir-wood just ahead, if I remember rightly.” Sam knew the land well within twenty miles of Hobbiton, but that was the limit of his geography.

Just over the top of the hill they came on the patch of fir-wood. Leaving the road they went into the deep resin-scented darkness of the trees, and gathered dead sticks and cones to make a fire. Soon they had a merry crackle of flame at the foot of a large fir-tree and they sat round it for a while, until they began to nod. Then, each in an angle of the great tree’s roots, they curled up in their cloaks and blankets, and were soon fast asleep. They set no watch; even Frodo feared no danger yet, for they were still in the heart of the Shire. A few creatures came and looked at them when the fire had died away. A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed.

“Hobbits!” he thought. “Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There’s something mighty queer behind this.” He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it.

The morning came, pale and clammy. Frodo woke up first, and found that a tree-root had made a hole in his back, and that his neck was stiff.

“Walking for pleasure! Why didn’t I drive?” he thought, as he usually did at the beginning of an expedition. “And all my beautiful feather beds are sold to the Sackville-Bagginses! These tree-roots would do them good.” He stretched. “Wake up, hobbits!” he cried. It’s a beautiful morning.”

“What’s beautiful about it?” said Pippin, peering over the edge of his blanket with one eye. “Sam! Gel breakfast ready for half-past nine! Have you got the bath-water hot?”

Sam jumped up, looking rather bleary. “No, sir, I haven’t, sir!” he said.

Frodo stripped the blankets from Pippin and rolled him over, and then walked off to the edge of the wood. Away eastward the sun was rising red out of the mists that lay thick on the world. Touched with gold and red the autumn trees seemed to be sailing rootless in a shadowy sea. A little below him to the left the road ran down steeply into a hollow and disappeared.

When he returned Sam and Pippin had got a good fire going. “Water!” shouted Pippin. “Where’s the water?”

“I don’t keep water in my pockets,” said Frodo. “We thought you had gone to find some,” said Pippin, busy setting out the food, and cups. “You had better go now.”

“You can come too,” said Frodo, “and bring all the water-bottles.” There was a stream at the foot of the hill. They filled their bottles and the small camping kettle at a little fall where the water fell a few feet over an outcrop of grey stone. It was icy cold; and they spluttered and puffed as they bathed their faces and hands.

When their breakfast was over, and their packs all trussed up again, it was after ten o’clock, and the day was beginning to turn fine and hot. They went down the slope, and across the stream where it dived under the road, and up the next slope, and up and down another shoulder of the hills; and by that time their cloaks, blankets, water, food, and other gear already seemed a heavy burden.

The day’s march promised to be warm and tiring work. After some miles, however, the road ceased to roll up and down: it climbed to the top of a steep bank in a weary zig-zagging sort of way, and then prepared to go down for the last time. In front of them they saw the lower lands dotted with small clumps of trees that melted away in the distance to a brown woodland haze. They were looking across the Woody End towards the Brandywine River. The road wound away before them like a piece of string.

“The road goes on for ever,” said Pippin; “but I can’t without a rest. It is high time for lunch.” He sat down on the bank at the side of the road and looked away east into the haze, beyond which lay the River, and the end of the Shire in which he had spent all his life. Sam stood by him. His round eyes were wide open—for he was looking across lands he had never seen to a new horizon.

“Do Elves live in those woods?” he asked.

“Not that I ever heard,” said Pippin. Frodo was silent. He too was gazing eastward along the road, as if he had never seen it before. Suddenly he spoke, aloud but as if to himself, saying slowly:


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.


“That sounds like a bit of old Bilbo’s rhyming,” said Pippin. “Or is it one of your imitations? It does not sound altogether encouraging.”

“I don’t know,” said Frodo. It came to me then, as if I was making it up; but I may have heard it long ago. Certainly it reminds me very much of Bilbo in the last years, before he went away. He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?” He used to say that on the path outside the front door at Bag End, especially after he had been out for a long walk.”

“Well, the Road won’t sweep me anywhere for an hour at least,” said Pippin, unslinging his pack. The others followed his example, putting their packs against the bank and their legs out into the road. After a rest they had a good lunch, and then more rest.

The sun was beginning to get low and the light of afternoon was on the land as they went down the hill. So far they had not met a soul on the road. This way was not much used, being hardly fit for carts, and there was little traffic to the Woody End. They had been jogging along again for an hour or more when Sam stopped a moment as if listening. They were now on level ground, and the road after much winding lay straight ahead through grass-land sprinkled with tall trees, outliers of the approaching woods.

“I can hear a pony or a horse coming along the road behind,” said Sam.

They looked back, but the turn of the road prevented them from seeing far. “I wonder if that is Gandalf coming after us,” said Frodo; but even as he said it, he had a feeling that it was not so, and a sudden desire to hide from the view of the rider came over him.

“It may not matter much,” he said apologetically, “but I would rather not be seen on the road—by anyone. I am sick of my doings being noticed and discussed. And if it is Gandalf,” he added as an afterthought, “we can give him a little surprise, to pay him out for being so late. Let’s get out of sight!”

The other two ran quickly to the left and down into a little hollow not far from the road. There they lay flat. Frodo hesitated for a second: curiosity or some other feeling was struggling with his desire to hide. The sound of hoofs drew nearer. Just in time he threw himself down in a patch of long grass behind a tree that overshadowed the road. Then he lifted his head and peered cautiously above one of the great roots.

Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible.

When it reached the tree and was level with Frodo the horse stopped. The riding figure sat quite still with its head bowed, as if listening. From inside the hood came a noise as of someone sniffing to catch an elusive scent; the head turned from side to side of the road.

A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring. He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand. He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe. The advice of Gandalf seemed absurd. Bilbo had used the Ring. “And I am still in the Shire,” he thought, as his hand touched the chain on which it hung. At that moment the rider sat up, and shook the reins. The horse stepped forward, walking slowly at first, and then breaking into a quick trot.

Frodo crawled to the edge of the road and watched the rider, until he dwindled into the distance. He could not be quite sure, but it seemed to him that suddenly, before it passed out of sight, the horse turned aside and went into the trees on the right.

“Well, I call that very queer, and indeed disturbing,” said Frodo to himself, as he walked towards his companions. Pippin and Sam had remained flat in the grass, and had seen nothing; so Frodo described the rider and his strange behaviour.

“I can’t say why, but I felt certain he was looking or smelling for me; and also I felt certain that I did not want him to discover me. I’ve never seen or fell anything like it in the Shire before.”

“But what has one of the Big People got to do with us?” said Pippin. “And what is he doing in this part of the world?”

“There are some Men about,” said Frodo. “Down in the Southfarthing they have had trouble with Big People, I believe. But I have never heard of anything like this rider. I wonder where he comes from.”

“Begging your pardon,” put in Sam suddenly, “I know where he comes from. It’s from Hobbiton that this here black rider comes, unless there’s more than one. And I know where he’s going to.”

“What do you mean?” said Frodo sharply, looking at him in astonishment. “Why didn’t you speak up before?”

“I have only just remembered, sir. It was like this: when I got back to our hole yesterday evening with the key, my dad, he says to me: Hello, Sam! he says. I thought you were away with Mr. Frodo this morning. There’s been a strange customer asking for Mr. Baggins of Bag End, and he’s only just gone. I’ve sent him on to Bucklebury. Not that I liked the sound of him. He seemed mighty put out, when I told him Mr. Baggins had left his old home for good. Hissed at me, he did. It gave me quite a shudder. What sort of a fellow was he? says I to the Gaffer. I don’t know, says he; but he wasn’t a hobbit. He was tall and black-like, and he stooped aver me. I reckon it was one of the Big Folk from foreign parts. He spoke funny.
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