Fellowship of the Ring
1-2-1. The Road Goes Ever On
After they had been walking for about three hours, Frodo, Pippin, and Sam made camp in the deep resin-scented darkness of a patch of fir-wood. Night passed and the morning came, pale and clammy.
[Frodo coughs and groans]
Walking for pleasure! Oh, why didn't I go by cart with Merry? My neck's stiff and I feel as though I've a hole in my back. And all my beautiful feather beds sold to the Sackville-Bagginses. These tree-roots would do them good. Wake up, hobbits! It's a beautiful morning.
What's beautiful about it? Sam! Get breakfast ready for half-past nine! Have you got the bath-water hot?
[Sam wakes with a start]
No, no, sir, I haven't!
[Pippin and Frodo laugh]
It's all right, Sam!
Mr. Pippin is pulling your leg. Come on, Pippin, up you get! You can help Sam get breakfast, and then we really must get started.
- - - - -
[A single bird calls]
I've never been this near the end of the Shire before, Mr. Peregrin. What river is that down there?
That's the Brandywine, Sam.
And do Elves live in those woods, over there?
In Woody End? No, not that I ever heard. Oh, this road goes on forever! When are we going to rest, Frodo? Frodo?
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 eager feet,
Until it join 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. Or is it one of your imitations?
Hm? I don't know. It came to me then, as if - as if I was making it up; but I may have heard it long ago.
In any event, it doesn't sound altogether encouraging.
No, I suppose not.
[He laughs, reminiscently]
Bilbo often used 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, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into a Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept of to."
[He sets his pack down]
...this Road won't sweep me anywhere for an hour at least. It's time for a rest, and if you fellows won't wait, well, then you must go on without me.
- - - - -
Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
Though wind may blow and rain may fall,
We must away...
[Sam stops and shushes them]
Oh, begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo! I can hear a - a pony or a horse coming along the road behind.
[Horse-hooves grow steadily nearer]
I wonder if that's Gandalf coming after us. It may not matter much, 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, we can give him a little surprise, to pay him out for being so late. Let's get out of sight!
[They enter the nearby foliage. The Rider comes to a stop and sighs loudly. Frodo's breathing becomes pained. The Ring inscription is heard overlaid with Gandalf's voice:
Ash nazg durbatulúk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
This is the Master-ring, the One Ring to rule them all. This is the One Ring lost many years ago, to the great weakening of its maker's power. Now, he greatly desires to have it again. But he must not get it! ]
[The Rider's voice fills Frodo's thoughts]
The Ring! The Ring! Put on the Ring!
[Gandalf's voice is again heard.
Gandalf: Remember what I said about the Ring?]
[Gandalf: Keep it safe and keep it secret! ]
[The inscription-chanting ceases. Frodo exhales in relief. The Black Rider sighs and moves on down the road]
Who was it?
I don't know.
What did you see, Mr. Frodo?
It was a man - I think. Wrapped in a black cloak and hood so that his face was shadowed and invisible. All I could see what his boots in the high stirrups.
What was he looking for?
I - I can't say why, but I feel certain he was looking for, or smelling for me. Yes, and I feel certain that I did not want him to discover me. I have never seen or felt anything like it in the Shire before.
But what has one of the Big People got to do with us? And what is he doing in this part of the world?
I don't know. But I wish I had waited for Gandalf! But then, perhaps it would only have made matters worse.
Then you know or guess something about this Rider?
Hm? I don't know and I - I would rather not guess.
All right, cousin Frodo! You can keep your secret for the present if you want to be mysterious. In the meanwhile, what are we to do?
I think we will move on, now. We ought to do a good step more today. Buckland is still many miles away. But we must keep off the Road, in case that Rider comes back. Yes, I'm going to cut straight across country from here.
Short cuts make long delays. The country's rough round here, and there are bogs and all kinds of difficulties. And if you're worrying about meeting that Rider, then I can't see that it would be any worse meeting him on a road than in a wood or a field.
Pippin, it is less easy to find people in the woods and fields. And if you're supposed to be on the road, there is some chance that you will be looked for on the road and not off it.
All right! I'll follow you into every bog and ditch. But it is hard! I had counted on passing the Golden Perch at Stock before sundown.
The best beer in the Eastfarthing of the Shire, or used to be.
That settles it! Short cuts make delays, but inns make longer ones. At all costs we must keep away from the Golden Perch. Eh, what do you say, Sam?
Well, I - I should go along with you, Mr. Frodo.
Oh! Then if we are going to toil through bog and briar, let's go -
[Pippin's voice is cut short by a Nazgûl, screaming in the distance]
What do you think that was? If it was a bird, it was one I never heard in the Shire before.
It was not bird or beast. It was a call, or... or a signal. There were words in that cry, though I could not catch them. But no hobbit has such a voice. Come! Sooner or later, we must go on. It's better that we go sooner!
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