Fellowship of the Ring
1-2-5. A Letter From Gandalf
There... eh, there is something else, Mr. Underhill.
You see, you see - it's like this. If I've - if I've done any harm, I'm sorry indeed. But one thing drives out another, as you'll admit; and I'm a busy man. But first one thing and then another is jogging my memory, as the saying goes; and not too late I hope.
Eh, um... I'm sorry, Mr. Butterbur, but I don't follow you.
Well, well, you see, I was asked to look out for hobbits of the Shire, and for one by the name of Baggins in particular.
Oh? And what has that got to do with me?
Ah, eh, you know best. I won't give you away; but I was told that this Baggins would be going by the name of, eh - Underhill.
Who told you this?
Ah! That was Gandalf, if you know who I mean. He - he's a good friend of mine. But I don't know what he'll have to say to me now. He'll turn all my ale sour or me into a block of wood, I shouldn't wonder. Still, what's been done can't be undone.
But, Mr. Butterbur - what have you done?
Well, Mr. Took, you see, about - about three months back, old Gandalf walked in. He says Barley, I'm in a hurry and I want you to do something for me. I want a message took to the Shire, he says. Have you anyone you can send and... and trust to go? Well, I - I can find someone, I said. Tomorrow, maybe, or the day after. Well, make it tomorrow, he says. And - and then he - he gave me this letter.
[He pulls out the letter]
It's addressed plain enough. I mean, Mr. Frodo Baggins, Bag End, Hobb-i-ton in the Shire.
A letter for me from Gandalf!
Oh, then your name is Baggins?
Yes, it is, and you had better give me that letter at once...
[He grabs the envelope]
...and explain why you never sent it.
Oh, I beg your pardon, master, but I didn't keep it back a-purpose. Well, I couldn't find nobody willing to go to the Shire next day, nor the day after, and none of my own folk were to spare. And then one thing after another drove it out of my mind. Oh, I'll - I'll do what I can to set matters right, you must believe me. I didn't know that it would bring trouble to you, Mr. Baggins.
What do you mean, trouble?
Well, these Black Riders who've been asking for Baggins, and that - that Ranger! Strider. He's been asking questions, too. Tried to get in here to see you, he did.
Yes. He did!
You! What do you want? You're always popping up.
Ah, it's... it's - he's here with my leave. He came to offer his help.
Oh, well! You know your own business, maybe, but if I was in your plight, I wouldn't take up with a Ranger.
Then who would you take up with? A fat innkeeper who only remembers his own name because people shout it at him everyday? They cannot stay in The Pony for ever, and they cannot go home. They have a long road before them. Will you go with them and keep the Black Riders off?
Me? Leave Bree! I wouldn't do that for any money.
Well, then. Let others help them.
Eh... but - but what are these Black Riders after? And where do they come from?
I'm sorry, Mr. Butterbur. I - I... I can't explain it all. I'm not sure, but - I - I think, I fear they come... from...
They come from Mordor.
From Mordor, Barliman, if that means anything to you.
Oh, save us!
Well, Mr. Butterbur? Are you still willing to help me?
I am. More than ever. Though I don't know what the likes of me can do against, against -
Against the Shadow of the East. Not much, Barliman, but every little helps. They must stay here tonight, and you must forget about the name of Baggins, till they are far away.
Oh, I'll do all that, all right. But I'm afraid they'll find out easier without help from me. It's a pity Mr. Baggins drew attention to himself this evening.
Well, we can only hope the Riders won't come back yet.
I hope not, indeed. But if they do, then they won't get into The Pony so easy. Me and my folk'll keep watch tonight; and you had best get some sleep, if you can.
Yes. In any case we must be called at dawn. We must get off as early as possible. Eh, breakfast at six-thirty, please?
Right! I'll see to the orders. Well, good-night, Mr. Baggins.
uh, Underhill, I should say. Eh, good-night, Mr. Took.
Good-night, Mr. Brandy... well, where's your Mr. Brandybuck?
Merry! I - I don't know. I'm afraid he's... he's out.
He said something about going for a breath of air.
Oh dear, oh dear! Well, you do want looking after and no mistake: your party might be on a holiday! Oh, I'd better send Nob to look for him.
[A horse comes to a stop. A Black Rider breathes with menace nearby]
Mr. Brandybuck... Mr. Brandybuck! Mr. Brandybuck!
[The fire crackles]
Well? When are you going to open that letter?
Yes, of course.
[He tears open the envelope and pulls out the letter]
Really, old Butterbur has made a shocking mess of things.
[He clears his throat. Gandalf's voice enters the parlour:
THE PRANCING PONY, BREE. Midyear's Day, Shire Year, 1418.
Bad news has reached me here and I must go off at once. You had better leave Bag End soon. I will return as soon as I can; and I will follow you, if I find that you are gone. Leave a message for me here, if you pass through Bree. You can trust the landlord. You may meet a friend of mine on the Road: a Man, lean, dark, tall, by some called Strider. He knows our business and will help you. Make for Rivendell. There I hope we may meet again.
Yours in haste,
PS. Make sure that it is the real Strider. There are many strange men on the roads. His true name is Aragorn.
All that's gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king. ]
[Frodo folds the letter]
Strider, why didn't you tell me you were Gandalf's friend?
Would you have believed me, till now?
I knew nothing of the letter. And anyway, I hoped you might take me for my own sake. But there...
...I believe my looks are against me.
They are! Well, at first sight at any rate. But handsome is as handsome does, as we say in the Shire.
What I want to know is: how do we know that you are the Strider that Gandalf speaks about? You never mentioned Gandalf, till the letter came out. You might have been a play-acting spy. You might have done in the real Strider. Took his clothes. What do you say to that?
That you are a stout fellow, Sam Gamgee, and I am afraid my only answer is this: I am Aragorn, and those verses go with that name.
[He draws the hilt of his sword and laughs]
Not much use, is it, Sam? But the time is near when this broken sword shall be forged anew.
I wanted to believe you were a friend before this letter came. And, well - I think if you were a spy of the Enemy, then you would - well... well, seem fairer and feel fouler. I mean, if you...
[Aragorn laughs loudly]
You mean, I look foul and feel fair.
Is that it? All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost. Well, now! With Sam's permission, with Sam's permission, we will call that settled. Strider will be your guide.
Yes. Thank you. We need a guide, for this is all far more dangerous that I'd ever realized.
Oh, I'm sorry, everyone. Oh, but I'm awfully tired. In spite of all the danger and worry I really must go to bed, or sleep where I sit.
[He and Frodo laugh]
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