CD No.1 Episode I: The Shadow of the Past


Narrator: Long years ago, in the Second Age of Middle-earth, the Elven-smiths of Eregion forged rings of great power. Then the Dark Lord Sauron forged One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom in the land of Mordor. This Ring he made to rule the others, and their power was bound up with it, so that they could last only so long as it too should last. And from that time, war never ceased between Sauron and the Elves.

Three rings they hid from him. But the others he gathered into his hands, hoping to make himself master of all things. Then was an alliance made against the Dark Lord, and Sauron was, for that time, vanquished. But at length, his dark shadow stretched forth once more, and he sought again for mastery over the Rings of Power.

One ring had come into the possession of Gollum, a slimy creature as dark as darkness, who kept it secret unto himself in the nether-most depths of the mines beneath the Misty Mountains. There it was hidden, even from the searching eye of Sauron, the Lord of the Rings.

- - - - -

Narrator: Long years Gollum possessed his ring, before it left him and passed to another. Gollum sought unceasingly to recover it, and without realizing what power drew him on, he made his way step-by-step and mile-by-mile to Mordor.

Gollum: Precious... precious, we've lost the Precious. After all these agesssss, it's gone.

[He hisses]

Gollum: It was our birthday present, and it's lost! Curse us and crush us, but we'll never find it again, no, no...

[A horseman rides towards him]

Gollum: Gollum... gollum...

Lord of the Nazgûl: You!

Gollum: Us, us, us?

Lord of the Nazgûl: Miserable creature!

[Gollum hisses]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Why are you lurking here?

Gollum: No, not lurking, precious, looking, yes looking for our birthday present. Aren't we, Precious? Yes, that's all.

Lord of the Nazgûl: The Lord Sauron has no liking for those who pry and spy.

Gollum: Spying? Prying? We meant no harm, precious! Did we? No.

Lord of the Nazgûl: None come or go here without the Lord's Sauron's leave!

[Gollum hisses]

Lord of the Nazgûl: If you will not answer here, you shall answer in Mordor.

Gollum: Nothing to answer! Is there, Precious? Nothing, no, no, nothing, nothing...

Lord of the Nazgûl: There are devices in Barad-dûr to loosen the lying tongue.

[Gollum cries out]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Come!

[Gollum screams]

Gollum: No, precious! No, precious! Puts us down! Puts us down!

- - - - -

[A torture device turns and Gollum screams in pain]

Gollum: No! No!

[He cries]

Mouth of Sauron: Why come you to the Land of Mordor?

Gollum: We were only looking for our Precious, weren't we? Our Precious which we lost.

Mouth of Sauron: Precious?

Gollum: Yes...

Mouth of Sauron: What is this Precious?

Gollum: It was ours, and the nasty noser stole it from us!

Mouth of Sauron: What was stolen?

[Gollum mumbles to himself until the device turns again. He screams]

Gollum: We only used it to catch our food with, precious, didn't we? Silly goblinses couldn't see us when we wore the Precious, gollum...

[He hisses]

Gollum: We would have died of hunger in those mountains, we would, we would, if it hadn't have been for Precious.

Mouth of Sauron: Where did you get this thing?

[Gollum cries out in pain as he is tortured]

Gollum: It was given to us, precious, as a birthday present. And we kept it safe, oh yes, very safe for long agessss, ‘til the thief took it from us!

Mouth of Sauron: Who took it?

Gollum: We don't know, do we? No, no, we don't.

[He screams]

Gollum: Nasty noser he was, wasn't he Precious? And tricksy too, tried to cheat us, he did. Lost in the mountians, he was, lost. Came nosing around our pool, he did. Asked us riddles, it did. Cheated, it did! Stole it, it did!

Mouth of Sauron: Who stole it?

Gollum: We've said, haven't we, Precious? We don't know, do we, Precious?

[The torture device begins to rotate quickly and Gollum screams]

Mouth of Sauron: Who?

Gollum: Baggins! Baggins he said it was! That's all we know, isn't it, Precious? Yes, yes, yes.

Mouth of Sauron: When was this?

Gollum: Long ago. Yes, yes, years, years ago, and we've been looking for it ever since, haven't we? Yes. Little cheating thief! We ought to have squeezed it!

[He hisses and spits]

Gollum: Squeezed it we ought.

Mouth of Sauron: Where is Baggins now?

Gollum: Don't know, don't know, do we, Precious? No, we don't know where the Baggins is... Came from the Shire, didn't he! Yes, yes, but we don't know where that is, do we? No, no.

Mouth of Sauron: You lie!

Gollum: No!

Mouth of Sauron: My master demands the truth!

Gollum: No, no, precious, we don't lie! Do we? No.

[The torture and screams of Gollum fade away]

Gollum: We told the master all we know! Haven't we? Yes, yes! Yes!

- - - - -

Narrator: And who was Baggins? He was Mr. Bilbo Baggins. And Mr. Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit. He had once lived at Bag End on the Hill, in the village of Hobbiton across the Water, in the Shire, in the peaceful Northwest of Middle-earth. Now, however, Bilbo was no longer the occupant of Bag End, and sinister shadows lengthened in the Shire. But let us go back seventeen years, to an evening in early September when the chief topic of conversation at the Ivy Bush Tavern in Hobbiton was Mr. Bilbo Baggins.

[Hobbits talk amongst themselves in the background]

Sandyman: You can say what you like, Gaffer Gamgee, but Bag End's a queer place, and its folk are queerer!

Gaffer: Mr. Bilbo is a very nice, well-spoken gentlehobbit, Ted Sandyman, and don't you go saying otherwise.

Sandyman: But what about this Frodo that lives with him? Baggins is his name, but he's more than half a Brandybuck.

Daddy Twofoot: Ay, Gaffer. Sandyman's right there. And they're rum folk in Buckland, living on the wrong side of Brandywine River and all.

Gaffer: Be that as it may, Daddy Twofoot. Mr. Frodo is a Baggins. He's Mr. Bilbo's nephew and his first and second cousin. And anyhow, he's as nice a young hobbit as you could wish to meet.

Sandyman: Well, there's still some as think that when young Frodo's parents up'd and died, Mr. Bilbo ought to have left well-enough alone.

Gaffer: And there's still some as think Mr. Bilbo did him a great kindness by adopting him as his heir, and bringing him back here to live among decent folk.

Sandyman: To live among queer folk, I says.

[Daddy Twofoot laughs]

Gaffer: Well, I've gardened for Mr. Bilbo more years than I care to remember; I finds him decent enough. And so does my lad, Sam. He's always in and out of Bag End. Mr. Bilbo's learned him his letters.

Daddy Twofoot: Hmm... what?

[Sandyman laughs, indignantly]

Sandyman: Letters!

Gaffer: Well, meaning no harm, mind you. I hope no harm will come of it.

Daddy Twofoot: Ah...

[He laughs]

Sandyman: Well, if you know so much about the goings on at Bag End, what's all this talk of a party?

Gaffer: It's to be a birthday party. Mr. Bilbo and Mr. Frodo have the same birthday, you know.

Daddy Twofoot: Oh?

Gaffer: September the 22nd. This year, Mr. Frodo will be thirty-three, come of age. And Mr. Bilbo will be eleventy-one, and a very respectable age too for a hobbit.

Daddy Twofoot: Ah, Gaffer's right, there. Well, the Old Took himself only reached one-hundred and thirty.

Gaffer: And Mr. Bilbo's certainly well preserved for his age. Why, he don't look no different now to what he did when he was ninety. Or come to that, when he was fifty!

Sandyman: Well preserved? Unchanged would be nearer the mark. Some folk have all the luck! Anyway, who's going to this here party?

Gaffer: My Sam says that everyone's going to be invited. And there's going to be presents, mark you, presents for all!

[Daddy Twofoot laughs]

Gaffer: This very month, as is.

- - - - -

[A fireplace crackles]

Bilbo: Honestly, Frodo, I shall be glad when September the 22nd's been and gone.

Frodo: Why, what's up?

Bilbo: Half Hobbiton's up. They're standing outside Bag End as if they expected to see a dragon pop out any minute.

[Frodo laughs]

Frodo: Our party certainly seems to be causing rather a lot of excitement.

Bilbo: Well, I put up a notice on the gate, now, saying, "No admittance expect on party business." So perhaps we'll have a little peace and quiet for a while.

[Someone knocks on the door and Frodo laughs quickly]

Bilbo: Ah!

[He opens the door]

Bilbo: Yes?

Sam: Oh, uh, I'm sorry if I'm disturbing you, Mr. Bilbo, sir.

Bilbo: No, no, no, no! It's alright, Sam. What can I do for you?

Sam: Nothing, Mr. Bilbo. I met the postman from Bywater on his way up here with another bundle of replies to those party invitations of yours. And as the poor fellow'd been up here four times already today, I said as how I'd delivery them for him.

Bilbo: Well, thank you, Sam.

[He retrieves the letters]

Sam: Not at all, Mr. Bilbo. Eh... may I say how much me and the Gaffer's looking forward to your party?

Bilbo: Well, a party at Bag End without the Gamgees would be unthinkable!

Sam: Hoo, well, anyway, if you'll excuse me, I best be getting on with trimming that there hedge of yours.

Bilbo: Ah, very good, Sam. And thank you again for playing postman.

Sam: My pleasure, Mr. Bilbo!

[The door closes]

Bilbo: Now, then, Frodo. Now, you start on these...

Frodo: Yes.

Bilbo: ...and I'll open this lot.

[Papers rustle as they open the letters]

Frodo: Um... "Thank you for your kind invitation. I should be very pleased to come. Rorymack Brandybuck." Good old Rory.

Bilbo: Oh, bless my soul, Frodo, listen to this: "We wish to acknowledge your invitation and to notify you of our acceptance. Otho and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins."

Frodo: Well, you didn't think they'd miss it, did you?

Bilbo: I suppose not. But I'm sure they're not at all happy that I made you my heir.

[Heavy knocking on the door]

Bilbo: Oh! Now who is it?

[Frodo laughs. Bilbo clears his throat and opens the door]

Bilbo: Ah, Gandalf!

Gandalf: Well, Mr. Baggins, you needn't look so surprised.

Bilbo: But what on earth have you got in that cart?

Gandalf: Fireworks.

[Frodo gasps quietly behind them]

Gandalf: Surely you weren't planning a party without fireworks?

Bilbo: My word, it's a good many years since any of Gandalf's fireworks were seen in the Shire.

Gandalf: Well, Wizards have more important business to attend to than making elf-fountains and goblin barkers for the entertainment of hobbits. Now then, how long are you going to keep me standing on the doorstep?

Bilbo: Oh, I'm sorry, Gandalf, I'm sorry. Come in, come in.

Gandalf: Thank you. Ah. Hello, Frodo.

Frodo: H - hello, Gandalf.

[He clears his throat]

Frodo: D - did I hear you say something about fireworks?

Gandalf: You did.

Frodo: I always thought Gandalf's fireworks were a hobbit legend!

Gandalf: Did you now?

Frodo: Can I take a peek?

Gandalf: You can do better than that!

Frodo: I can?

Gandalf: Yes, you can make sure no young hobbits go sneaking off with any.

[Frodo laughs with excitement]

Gandalf: Not a single squib, mark you.

Frodo: All right!

Gandalf: And that includes you, Frodo.

Frodo: Oh... very well.

[The door closes]

Bilbo: Now, sit down, Gandalf. We'll have a pipe of Old Toby together, and you can tell me your news.

Gandalf: Thank you, Bilbo. There's no pipe-weed to compare with that of the Shire. I've missed it. As to news, well that, for the moment must wait. Well now...

[He draws from the pipe]

Gandalf: ...this is pleasant. I must say, your garden's looking very bright.

Bilbo: Yes, Sam and his father keep it well for me, and I'm very fond of it, and of all the dear old Shire; but I think I need a holiday.

Gandalf: Oh, you mean to go on with your plan, then?

Bilbo: I do. I made up my mind, months ago, and I haven't changed it.

Gandalf: Very well, it's no good saying any more. Stick to your plan - your whole plan, mind - and I hope it will turn out for the best, for you...

Bilbo: Well, I hope so.

Gandalf: ...and for all of us.

Bilbo: Anyway.

[He laughs]

Bilbo: I mean to enjoy myself on Thursday, have my little joke.

Gandalf: Who will laugh, I wonder.

Bilbo: We shall see.

- - - - -

Narrator: Eventually, after much excitement, Thursday, September the 22nd actually came.

[Sounds of various fizzes, rockets, explosions, and awed hobbits are heard]

Bilbo: That is the signal for supper!

[The crowd cheers]

- - - - -

[Members of the eating crowd talk among themselves. A sharp rapping hushes the group]

Bilbo: My dear people!

Lobelia: Oh dear, I think Bilbo's about to make a speech.

Bilbo: My dear Bagginses and Boffins, ["Yes, we're here"] and my dear Tooks and Brandybucks, ["That's right"] and Grubbs, and Chubbs, ["Yes?"] Burrowses, and Hornblowers, Bolgers, Bracegirdles, Goodbodies, Brockhouses, ["Oh yes..."] and Proudfoots ["Proudfeet!"].

[The crowd laughs]

Bilbo: Proudfoots. Also my good Sackville-Bagginses that I welcome back at last to Bag End.

Lobelia: Thank you.

Bilbo: And while you're 'filling up the corners' as we hobbits put it, I hope you'll permit me a few words.

[The crowd cheers and bang on the table]

Bilbo: Today is my hundred and eleventh birthday. I'm eleventy-one today.

[They cheer loudly, banging and blowing noise-makers]

Bilbo: And I hope...

[They quiet down]

Bilbo: I hope you're all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.

[Noise-makers whirl. Cries of 'yes' (and 'no') are heard. They laugh]

Bilbo: Well, I shan't keep you long.

[They cheer]

Bilbo: But I've called you together for a Purpose. Indeed, for Three Purposes. First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that eleventy-one years is too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.

[They cheer]

Bilbo: I don't know half of you as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you as well as you deserve.

Lobelia: Thank you - eh...

Bilbo: And secondly I've called you all together to celebrate my birthday.

[They cheer]

Bilbo: Or I should say our birthday. For it is of course, also the birthday of my nephew and heir, Frodo. He comes of age and comes into his inheritance today.

Lobelia: Did you hear that, Otho? What does he mean, inheritance?

Otho: I don't know, Lobelia, but I don't like the sound of it at all.

Bilbo: ...Together our years total one hundred and forty-four. Your numbers were chosen to fit this remarkable total: one Gross, if I may use the expression.

Otho: One Gross, indeed!

Lobelia: Nasty, vulgar expression.

Bilbo: Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an announcement.

[A hobbit girl speaks out, and is shushed by her father]

Bilbo: I regret to announce that, although as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you, this is the end. I am going. I am leaving now. Good-bye.

[A firework explodes]

[The crowd reacts: "Where did he go?" "He vanished!" "One minute he was there, the next he's gone." "Yes..." "How did he do it?" "Did anyone see what happened?"]

Lobelia: How extremely bad mannered.

Otho: He's mad. I always said so: mad.

Narrator: While Bilbo Baggins was making his speech, he had been fingering a golden ring in his pocket: the very ring that Gollum had once possessed and lost. And as he said good-bye, he slipped it on his finger, vanished, and was never seen by any hobbit in Hobbiton again.

- - - - -

Narrator: He walked briskly back indoors and changed into some travelling clothes.

Bilbo: Ah, Gandalf. I wondered if you'd come to see me off.

Gandalf: I'm glad to find you visible, Bilbo.

[Bilbo laughs]

Gandalf: Hm. I suppose you feel that everything has gone off splendidly, and according to plan?

Bilbo: Well, yes I do. But that last firework was rather surprising. It quite startled me. A little addition of your own, I suppose?

Gandalf: It was. You've wisely kept that ring secret all these years, and it seemed to me necessary to give your guests something else that would seem to explain your sudden vanishment.

Bilbo: You are an interfering old busybody. But I expect you know best, as usual.

Gandalf: I do, when I know anything. But I... I don't feel too sure about this whole affair. Are you going any further with it?

Bilbo: Well, yes I am. I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday. Probably a permanent holiday: I don't expect I shall return.

Gandalf: Hm?

Bilbo: In fact, I don't meant to.

Gandalf: Why, Bilbo?

[Bilbo sighs]

Bilbo: I am old, Gandalf. I don't look it, but I am beginning to feel sort of stretched, like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can't be right.

Gandalf: Hmm... no, it doesn't seem right. No, I believe your plan probably is for the best.

Bilbo: Well, I've made up my mind, anyway. I want to see the mountains again; and then find somewhere where I can rest in peace and quiet without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. Gandalf?

Gandalf: Yes?

Bilbo: You'll keep an eye on Frodo, for me, won't you?

Gandalf: Yes, I will - two eyes, as often as I can spare them.

Bilbo: He would come with me, of course, if I asked him. But he doesn't really want to, yet. He's still in love with the Shire, with woods and fields and little rivers. Anyway, he ought to be comfortable here. I'm leaving everything to him.

Gandalf: Everything? The ring as well?

Bilbo: Well, er, yes, yes, I - I suppose so.

Gandalf: Where is it?

Bilbo: In an envelope, if you must know. There on the mantelpiece.

Gandalf: Where, Bilbo? I don't see it.

Bilbo: What? Oh, bless my soul! No, no, no... no, it's here; it's here in my pocket.

[He pulls the envelope from his pocket]

Bilbo: Now isn't that odd? Well then, after all, why not? Why shouldn't it stay there?

Gandalf: There's no need to get angry about it.

Bilbo: I'm angry because it's mine. It's my own. My precious.

Gandalf: Ah.

Bilbo: Yes, my precious.

Gandalf: Ah - it's been called that before, but not by you.

Bilbo: Well, I will say it now. Even if that horrid Gollum creature said the same once. It's not his now. He lost it, and I found it, and now it belongs to me, and I shall keep it.

Gandalf: If you say that again, Bilbo, I shall get angry. And then you shall see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked.

Bilbo: But the ring is mine, isn't it? I mean, I - I found it. And Gollum would have killed me if I hadn't kept it and used it to escape from him...

Gollum: The hobbit must have a competition with us, precious. If it asks us a riddle, and we doesn't answer, then we does what it wants, and shows it the way out. If Precious asks, and it doesn't answer, then...

[He hisses]

Gollum: ...then we eats it, my precious.

Bilbo: All right...

[Gollum laughs in anticipation]

Gollum: Ask us, ask us, ask us a riddle!

Bilbo: Er - what have I got in my pocket?

[Gollum hisses]

Gollum: Not fair! Not fair! That's not a riddle, it isn't fair, my precious. It isn't fair to ask us what its got in its nasty little pocketses.

Bilbo: What have I got in my pocket?

Gollum: Must give us three guessesss, my precious, three guessesss.

Bilbo: Very well, guess away.

[Gollum hums]

Gollum: Handses!

Bilbo: Wrong. Guess again.

Gollum: Knife!

Bilbo: Wrong.

[Gollum hisses]

Bilbo: Last guess. Come on, time's up.

Gollum: String - or nothing!

Bilbo: Both wrong! Now you must show me the way out of here.

Gollum: Did we say so, precious? Show the nasty little Bagginses the way out, yes, yes? But what has it got in its pocketses, eh? Not string, precious - but not nothing.

Bilbo: Never you mind, a promise is a promise.

Gollum: Course it is! Impatient, precious...

[He laughs to himself, but his laugh quickly fades]

Gollum: Gollum... gollum! We can guess what its got in its pocketses, can't we, precious? We've lost it, yes, and he's found it! Yes, he must have. Curse the Baggins.

[He hisses]

Gollum: Thief! Thief...

[Bilbo gasps]

Gollum: Where's it gone? Where's the Baggins? Vanished, it has. Curse the Baggins! We hates it! We hates it! We hates it forever!

Bilbo: I'm not a thief, whatever he said.

Gandalf: I've never called you one. And I'm not one either. I'm not trying to rob you, but to help you.

Bilbo: I'm sorry, but I felt so strange. You see, the ring has been growing on my mind lately. I'm always wanting to put it on and disappear, or wondering if it's safe, and pulling it out to make sure. Sometimes I felt it was like an... like an eye, looking at me.

Gandalf: Then go away and leave it behind. Stop possessing it. Give it to Frodo, and I will look after him.

Bilbo: All right, I will. After all, that's what this party business was all about, really. To give away lots of presents and somehow make it easier to give it away at the same time. It hasn't made it any easier in the end, but it would be a pity to spoil the joke.

[Gandalf laughs]

Bilbo: Very well, the ring goes to Frodo with all the rest. And now, I, I really must be starting, or somebody else will catch me.

Gandalf: Bilbo?

Bilbo: Yes?

Gandalf: You still have the ring in your pocket.

Bilbo: What? Ah, bless my soul, so I have. It's still in the envelope, with my will. You better take it and deliver it for me.

Gandalf: No! No, no, don't give the ring to me. Put it on the mantelpiece. It will be safe enough there, ‘til Frodo comes. I shall wait for him.

Bilbo: All right, if you say so. There. Well, that's that, then. And now I'm off.

[He opens the door]

Bilbo: Oh, what fun! Good-bye, dear Gandalf.

Gandalf: Good-bye for the present, Bilbo. Take care of yourself.

Bilbo: Don't worry about me. I'm as happy now as I've ever been. Good-bye.

[His voice slowly fades into the distance]

Bilbo:

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.

Gandalf: Goodbye, my dear Bilbo - until our next meeting.

Bilbo:

Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it join some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And wither then? I cannot say.

- - - - -

Frodo: Has he gone?

Gandalf: Yes, he's gone at last.

Frodo: Oh dear, I wish...

[He closes the door]

Frodo: ...I mean, well I hoped until this evening that it was only a joke. But I knew in my heart that he really meant to go. He always used to joke about serious things. I wish I had come back sooner, just... just to see him off.

Gandalf: I really think he preferred slipping off quietly in the end.

Frodo: Yes...

Gandalf: Don't be too troubled. He'll be all right - now. He left a packet for you. There it is! You'll find his will and all the other documents in there. And I fancy you'll also find a golden ring.

Frodo: The ring! Has he left me that? I wonder why. Still, it may be useful.

Gandalf: It may, and it may not. You must be careful of that ring. I should not make use of it, if I were you. Keep it safe and keep it secret.

Frodo: Why?

Gandalf: What do you know already?

Frodo: Well, only what Bilbo told me.

Gandalf: But what did he tell you, I wonder.

Frodo: He told me the truth. Not that old story about it having been a present.

Gandalf: Yes, it was odd that he should have invented that. But, odd things happen to people who have such treasures, if they use them. Let it be a warning to you to be very careful with it. It may have other powers than just making you vanish when you wish to.

Frodo: I don't understand.

Gandalf: No, neither do I. I've merely begun to wonder about the ring.

Frodo: You're being very mysterious. What are you afraid of?

Gandalf: I'm not certain, so I'll say no more. I may be able to tell you something when I come back.

Frodo: Come back? You're going away too?

Gandalf: Yes, and I must go at once.

Frodo: At once! But, but, why? I thought you were staying on for at least a week.

Gandalf: I intended to, but I've had to change my mind.

Frodo: Well, how long will you be gone?

Gandalf: It may be for some while, Frodo, but I'll come and see you again as soon as I can. Look out for me, especially at unlikely times. So take care of yourself. And remember what I said about the ring. Keep it safe and keep it secret. Good-bye.

[The door opens. A bird chirps]

Frodo: Good-bye, Gandalf!

[He murmers to himself]

Frodo: Keep it safe and keep it secret...

- - - - -

Narrator: Seventeen years passed, and Frodo all but forgot the ring. But the Dark Lord Sauron had not forgotten it, and learning from Gollum that a Ring of Power had been found by Baggins of the Shire, bent his mind to find it again.

Mouth of Sauron: Riders of Mordor, the Lord Sauron commands: seek for the Shire. Find Baggins.

[The Riders' voices fill the air and gallop away]

Narrator: The nine Black Riders galloped out of Mordor to begin their quest.

- - - - -

Narrator: While in the Shire, Frodo was oblivious to the interest being shown in the name of Baggins.

[The fireplace crackles]

Frodo: Ho, ho, ho, to the bottle I go...

[The clinking of glass is heard as he pours a drink]

Frodo: ...to heal my heart and drown my woe. Good health, Bilbo, where-ever you are.

[Someone knocks at the door. Frodo chokes on his drink and opens the door. A cold wind rushes outside]

Frodo: Gandalf!

Gandalf: Hello, Frodo. All well, eh?

Frodo: All well, though I've missed seeing my friend Gandalf. Come in, come in.

[He closes the door]

Gandalf: Thank you, Frodo. Well, you look the same as ever!

Frodo: So do you, or as far as I can remember.

Gandalf: Yes, yes... it's been too long.

Frodo: I thought you'd abandoned the Shire for ever, but I expect you've had more important people to visit than hobbits.

Gandalf: Important, yes, but not necessarily more important. In fact, my visit now is of the utmost importance.

Frodo: I'm sorry, Gandalf, I don't understand.

Gandalf: The ring, Frodo. Bilbo's ring. It's dangerous. Far more dangerous than even I had guessed. But, such matters are best left until daylight. We'll talk about it in the morning.

Frodo: All right.

- - - - -

[Whistling is heard from outside the window, along with the sound of shears]

Gandalf: Mm...

[His breakfast dishes clank]

Gandalf: That was an excellent breakfast, Frodo.

Frodo: Good! Now, oh... eh, how about a pipe, before we talk, hm?

Gandalf: Ah, splendid.

[Frodo laughs]

Gandalf: I once told Bilbo: the one thing I miss about the Shire when I am not there, apart, of course, from having breakfast with an agreeable hobbit, is its pipe-weed.

Frodo: Well now, which would you like? Eh, let's see... Longbottom Leaf or Old Toby?

[They laugh]

Frodo: Or Southern Style?

Gandalf: Oh, I used to smoke Old Toby with Bilbo, so let it be that.

Frodo: Fine. Help yourself.

[They fill their pipes and puff on them throughout the conversation]

Gandalf: Thank you, Frodo. Sam's at work early, I see.

Frodo: Yes, a great fellow, Sam. He manages the garden by himself now; the Gaffer's getting on. Now, Gandalf, last night you began to tell me that you thought the ring was dangerous. If it is, then I must know in what way.

Gandalf: In many ways. It's far more powerful than I ever dared to suppose. So powerful, that in the end, it would utterly overcome anyone of mortal race who possessed it. It would possess him.

Frodo: How do you mean, "possess him"?

Gandalf: A mortal, Frodo, who keeps one of the Rings of Power, does not die.

Frodo: Hm?

Gandalf: He doesn't grow, or obtain more life, he merely continues, until at last every minute is a weariness. And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end permanently invisible, and walks in twilight under the eye of the dark power that rules the Rings.

Frodo: How terrifying! And Bilbo? How much did Bilbo know about all this?

Gandalf: Very little, I'm sure. It seemed to him that something was wrong or odd, but he thought it was himself. He said he felt stretched, but he didn't suspect that the Ring was to blame for the fact that he showed no signs of age. But it was an indication that the Ring was getting control.

Frodo: But there wasn't any permanent harm done, was there? He would get all right in time, wouldn't he?

Gandalf: I don't think you need worry about Bilbo. Of course, he possessed the Ring for many years, and used it, and lied to others about how he came by it. So it may take a long while for the influence to wear off, but the important thing is he gave it up in the end of his own accord. No, no... once he'd let the thing go, I wasn't troubled about dear Bilbo anymore. No, its... its for you that I feel responsible.

Frodo: Me?

Gandalf: Yes. You, and all these charming, absurd, helpless hobbits. It would be a grievous blow if all the jolly, stupid Bolgers, Boffins, and Bagginses became enslaved.

Frodo: B - but - what?

Gandalf: You don't know the real peril yet; but you shall. Give me the Ring for a moment.

Frodo: There.

Gandalf: I spoke of there being Rings of Power, for there were many: some more potent and some less. They were forged by the Elven-smiths long ago. The lesser rings were only essays in the craft. But the Great Rings, they were perilous.

Frodo: Is this one of them?

Gandalf: No. The Great Rings had each a gemstone. This Ring, you see? Is quite plain and unadorned.

Frodo: But, then, is it one of what you call the lesser rings?

Gandalf: No, I think not. Frodo, can you see any markings on it at all?

Frodo: Em, no...

Gandalf: Well, then, let's see what a little fire will reveal.

Frodo: But, G - Gandalf, my ring! It will be damaged!

[The fire roars]

Gandalf: Wait.

Frodo: But Gandalf, the fire!

Gandalf: Wait... Now let's look at the Ring. Take it, Frodo.

Frodo: But, I can't -

Gandalf: Go on, go on. Go on - it's quite cool. Take it. Now, hold it up and look closely. Well, what do you see?

Frodo: There, there are fiery letters, outside and inside, but I cannot read them.

Gandalf: No, but I can. The letters are elvish, but the language is that of Mordor.

[The Black Speech is heard:

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul ]

Gandalf:

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

Frodo: What does it mean, Gandalf?

[The quiet chanting of the Black Speech continues: "Ash nazg. Ash nazg. Ash nazg."]

Gandalf: It's only two lines of a verse long known in Elven-lore.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

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.

Frodo: What I don't understand, Gandalf, is whose ring this is, if it is not one of the Elven-rings?

Gandalf: This Ring was made to rule the Elven-rings. It was made, Frodo, by Sauron the Great, the Dark Lord of Mordor. It's he who is seeking it.

Frodo: But stories are told of Sauron's fall long, long ago!

Gandalf: That is so, but always after a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again. He's fast becoming very strong, and he lacks but one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in darkness. He lacks the One Ring.

Frodo: Hm... but what of the other rings which that verse spoke of?

Gandalf: Three of them, the fairest of all, the Elf-lords hid from him. The others Sauron took and gave seven to the Dwarf-kings, who used them for getting great wealth. Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. The wearers of the Nine are now fell servants of the Dark Lord, Ringwraiths in his power. It's many years since they walked abroad. Yet who knows? As the shadow grows once more, they too may walk again. And the One Ring was his. He made it and wore it.

Frodo: But how did he come to lose it if he was so strong?

Gandalf: It's ancient history and a long story. It was Gil-galad, the Elven-king, and Elendil of Westernesse who overthrew Sauron, though they themselves perished in the deed. But Isildur Elendil's son cut the Ring from Sauron's hand and took it for his own. Thus was Sauron vanquished, for a while at least.

Frodo: But the Ring? What happened to the Ring?

Gandalf: The Ring was lost. Isildur was marching north when he was waylaid by Orcs, and almost all his followers were slain. He leapt into the waters of the Great River, Anduin. But the Ring slipped from his finger as he swam, and then the Orcs saw him and killed him with arrows. And there in the River, the Ring passed out of knowledge and legend. But, I think I can now carry on the story. Long after Isildur lost the Ring, but still long ago, a hobbit-like folk lived beside the River. One day, two of them were fishing in the River. They were called Sméagol and Déagol, and Déagol it was who found the Ring...

[Flowing water is heard]

[Déagol gasps]

Déagol: What a beautiful thing! How could anyone have lost such a treasure?

Sméagol: What is that, Déagol?

Déagol: Nothing!

Sméagol: Oh yes, it is.

Déagol: It's mine, I found it.

Sméagol: Give us it, Déagol, my love.

Déagol: Why?

Sméagol: Because it's Sméagol's birthday, my love, and he wants it.

Déagol: I don't care. I've given you a present already. I found this and I'm going to keep it.

Sméagol: Oh, are you indeed, my love?

[Déagol cries out]

Sméagol: Are you indeed?

[Loud splashing turns to silence]

Sméagol: And now, the pretty ring belongs to Sméagol.

Gandalf: Sméagol kept the Ring, and used it to thieve and find out secrets. He took to muttering to himself and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum.

Frodo: Gollum!

[He gasps]

Frodo: Do you mean that this is the very Gollum creature that Bilbo met?

Gandalf: Yes. He took to living in the dark passages beneath the Misty Mountains, where in time his torment became unbearable. He hated the dark, but he hated the light more. He hated everything, and the Ring most of all.

Frodo: Well, then, why didn't he get rid of it? Or - or go away and leave it?

Gandalf: He had no will left in the matter. A Ring of Power looks after itself, Frodo. Its keeper never abandons it. And when Gollum lost the Ring, it was really the Ring that left him.

Frodo: What, just in time to meet Bilbo?

Gandalf: Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, but not by its maker.

Frodo: Hm... what about Gollum, what happened to him?

Gandalf: The Elves have him now, in prison. But not before he made great mischief. After he lost the Ring, Gollum left the mountains to seek his Precious and the hobbit who'd robbed him of it. But before Gollum could find Bilbo, Sauron found Gollum. And that is how he will have learned that the One has been found again. He has, at last, heard of hobbits and the Shire. And I fear that he may even think that the long unnoticed name of Baggins has become important.

Frodo: But, but this is terrible! What a pity Bilbo did not kill Gollum when he had a chance!

Gandalf: Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand. One reason why Bilbo took so little hurt from the evil of the Ring was because he began his ownership with pity.

Frodo: I'm sorry, but I am frightened, and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.

Gandalf: You must understand that Gollum is bound up with the fate of the Ring. And my heart tells me that he may yet have some part to play, for good or ill. And when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many, yours not least.

Frodo: But why did the Ring come to me? W - why was I chosen?

Gandalf: Not for power or wisdom. But you have been chosen, and must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as you have.

Frodo: But I... but I have so little of those things! Gandalf.

Gandalf: Hm?

Frodo: You are wise and powerful. Will you not take the Ring?

Gandalf: No! No, no! No, do not tempt me. I dare not take it. With that power I should have power too great and terrible.

Frodo: Then why don't I destroy it?

Gandalf: How would you do that?

Frodo: Well, I suppose one could hammer it or melt it or something...

Gandalf: The heaviest hammer would make no dent in it nor would the hottest fire melt it. You saw how your own small fire failed to even heat it.

Frodo: Yes.

Gandalf: If you really wish to destroy it...

Frodo: I do, Gandalf, I do!

Gandalf: Then there is only one way: cast it into the Cracks of Doom in the depths of Orodruin, the Fire-mountain in the Land of Mordor where the Ring was forged.

Frodo: Gandalf, I am not made for perilous quests. But I see that I cannot keep the Ring and stay here. I ought to leave Bag End, leave the Shire, leave everything and go away. And I suppose I must go alone.

[Sam is heard in the distant background]

Gandalf: My dear Frodo! Hobbits really are amazing. And I'm afraid you're right. For your sake as well as for others. You will have to go. But I don't think you need go alone, not if you know of anyone you can trust. But...

[He clears his throat]

Gandalf: ...be careful in choosing. The Enemy has many spies...

[Gandalf begins to move away from Frodo]

Frodo: W-what's the matter, Gandalf?

Gandalf: Shhh... Got you!

[Sam yells out]

Gandalf: Well, bless my beard! Sam Gamgee. And what might you be doing under Mr. Frodo's window?

Sam: Lord bless you, Mr. Gandalf, sir, nothing! Leastways, I... I - I was just trimming the grass-borders if you follow me.

Gandalf: I don't. How long have you been eavesdropping?

Sam: Begging your pardon, sir, but there ain't no eaves at Bag End, and that's a fact.

Gandalf: Don't be a fool! What have you heard? Why did you listen?

Sam: Mr. Frodo, sir! Don't let him hurt me, sir! Don't let him turn me into anything unnatural! My old dad would take on so, I mean no harm, on my honor, sir!

Frodo: He won't hurt you. But just you up and answer his questions straight away!

Sam: Well, sir... I heard a deal that I didn't understand, about an enemy, and rings, and a fiery mountain - and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn't help myself, if you know what I mean. I do love tales of that sort. And believe them, too. I'd dearly love to see some Elves, sir.

Gandalf: What else did you hear?

Sam: That Mr. Frodo is going away, 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.

Frodo: It can't be helped, Sam. I have to go. But if you really care about me, you will keep that a dead secret. See? If you don't, if you even breathe a word of what you've heard, then - then I hope Gandalf will turn you into a spotted toad...

Sam: W - what? Sir!

Frodo: ...and fill the garden full of grass snakes.

Sam: Oh no, sir!

Gandalf: I have thought of something better than that.

Sam: No, Mr. Gandalf, sir, please!

Gandalf: Something to shut your mouth and punish you properly for listening. You shall go away with Mr. Frodo.

Sam: Me, sir? Me go and see Elves and all? Hurray, sir!

[They laugh]

- - - - -

Narrator: Gandalf stayed in the Shire for over two months. Then, one evening, at the end of June, he made a sudden announcement.

Gandalf: I am leaving tomorrow, Frodo.

Frodo: Oh...

Gandalf: Only for a short while, I hope. But I'm going down beyond the southern borders to get some news, if I can. I've been idle longer than I should.

Frodo: Has anything happened?

Gandalf: Well, no... but I've heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into. I think you should leave as soon as possible, now.

Frodo: I thought I'd go on September the 22nd. It will be my fiftieth birthday, and Bilbo's one hundred and twenty-eighth. That seems somehow a proper date on which to set out and follow the old fellow.

Gandalf: Very well, but it must not be any later. It's almost the end of June, already.

Frodo: How long will you be, Gandalf?

Gandalf: I shall come back immediately or at least send word. At the very latest I'll be back by your birthday. I think, after all, you may need my company on the road.

Frodo: Will it be that dangerous?

Gandalf: It may be. One thing you must remember: when you go, you must leave the name of Baggins behind you.

Frodo: But...

Gandalf: I'll give you a travelling name. When you go, go as Mr. Underhill. And in the meanwhile, do take care. Don't let out any hint of where you're going.

Frodo: Underhill. But where am I to go? I've been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving Bag End and of saying farewell, that I've never even considered the direction.

Gandalf: If you want my advice, make for the house of Elrond Half-elven at Rivendell. That journey shouldn't prove too perilous. Though the road is less easy than it was, and it will grow worse as the year fails.

Frodo: Rivendell. Very good, I will go east and I will make for Rivendell. I will take Sam to visit the Elves. He will be delighted.

Gandalf: Well, see that he doesn't talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad.

[Frodo laughs]

- - - - -

Narrator: And so Gandalf rode away, journeying to the southern borders of the Shire where he heard news of the Black Shadow that disturbed him greatly. He turned then east and north, and so journeyed towards the village of Bree.

Radagast: Gandalf! Gandalf! Gandalf the Grey!

[Gandalf brings his horse to a stop]

Gandalf: Yes?

Radagast: It is I, Radagast. Radagast the Brown.

Gandalf: Radagast! What are you doing here?

Radagast: Seeking you. All I knew was that you might be found in a wild region with the uncouth name of Shire.

Gandalf: It is the Shire, and you are near its borders now, but why are you seeking me? It must be pressing, for you were never a traveller, Radagast, unless driven by great need.

Radagast: I have an urgent errand, and my news is evil.

Gandalf: Hm?

Radagast: The Nazgûl... the Nine... they are abroad again.

Gandalf: Ah...

Radagast: They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black. The Enemy must have some great need or purpose, but what it is that makes him look to these distant and desolate paths, I cannot guess.

Gandalf: Who told you this, and who sent you?

Radagast: The head of our order, Saruman the White. And he also told me to say that if you feel the need, he will help. But you must seek his aid at once, or it will be too late.

Gandalf: I will go to Saruman.

Radagast: Then you must go now, Gandalf. For I have wasted time in looking for you, and the days are running short. I was told to find you before Midsummer, and that is now here. Even if you set out now, you will hardly reach Saruman before the Nine discover the land they seek. I myself shall turn back at once...

Gandalf: Radagast, stay a moment! We shall need your help, and the help of all things that will give it. You are wise in the lore of beasts and birds. Send out messages to all of them that are your friends. Tell them to bring news of anything that bears on this matter to Saruman and Gandalf at Isengard.

Radagast: Yes, I will do that. Fare you well, Gandalf!

Narrator: Leaving a message with the inn-keeper at Bree to be sent on to Frodo, Gandalf rode south to Isengard, a circle of sheer rocks that enclosed a valley, in the midst of which stood a tower of stone called Orthanc.

- - - - -

Narrator: While in the Shire, Frodo still watched and waited for him, and the news that Mr. Baggins was up to something began to get about.

[Hobbits talk in the background]

Daddy Twofoot: Well, Gaffer, is it true?

Gaffer: Ay, Daddy Twofoot, it is true. Mr. Frodo's selling Bag End. Sold it in fact to those cousins of his, the Sackville-Bagginses.

Sandyman: And for a nice bit, I'll be bound.

Daddy Twofoot: More likely for a bargain price if Mistress Lobelia's the buyer.

Sandyman: Poor old Otho. If only he'd lived a few more years, he'd have been master of Bag End after all.

Gaffer: Not that I wish to speak ill of the dead, Ted Sandyman, but I for one say the fewer Sackville-Bagginses at Bag End the better.

[Daddy Twofoot]

Daddy Twofoot: Right.

Gaffer: Mistress Lobelia and that there son of hers will be enough for me.

Daddy Twofoot: So, eh... where is Mr. Frodo off to, Gaffer?

Gaffer: He's going back to live among his folk in Buckland.

Daddy Twofoot: I can't think why. There are queer folk in Buckland.

Sandyman: He'll be well at home there, then! He's as cracked as old Bilbo Baggins was.

[Daddy Twofoot laughs]

Gaffer: There's not wrong with Mr. Frodo. Nor the friends of his in Buckland, Mr. Peregrin Took and Mr. Meriadoc Brandybuck.

Sandyman: Buckland... Brandybuck!

Gaffer: My Sam says Mr. Merry has found Mr. Frodo a little house in Crickhollow.

Daddy Twofoot: But what will your Sam do now, Gaffer? Will Mistress Lobelia keep him on as gardener at Bag End?

Gaffer: No need. He's going with Mr. Frodo to look after his bit of garden there.

[Sandyman laughs]

Sandyman: You know what, Gaffer? That son of yours is acting like he's as cracked as the Bagginses!

[He and Daddy Twofoot laugh]

- - - - -

Narrator: It was late one evening in July when Gandalf arrived at Isengard, and was met by Saruman who led him up to his chamber high in the tower Orthanc.

Gandalf: I have come for your aid, Saruman the White.

Saruman: Have you indeed, Gandalf the Grey? For aid? It has seldom been heard of that Gandalf the Grey sought for aid, one so cunning and so wise, wandering about the lands, and concerning himself in every business, whether it belong to him or not.

Gandalf: If I am not deceived, things are now moving which will require the union of all our strength.

Saruman: That may be so, but the thought is late in coming to you. What brings you now from your lurking place in the Shire?

Gandalf: The Nine have come forth again. They have crossed the River. So Radagast said to me.

Saruman: Radagast the Brown! Radagast the Bird-tamer! Radagast the simple! Radagast the Fool! Yet he had just the wit to play the part that I set him. For you have come and that was all the purpose of my message. And here you will stay, Gandalf the Grey. For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman of Many Colours!

[His cloak rustles]

Gandalf: I like white better.

Saruman: White! It serves as a beginning. White cloth can by dyed. The white page can be overwritten; and the white light can be broken.

Gandalf: In which case it is no longer white. And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.

Saruman: I have not brought you here to be instructed by you, but to give you a choice.

Gandalf: What choice do you speak of, Saruman?

Saruman: The Elder days are gone. The Middle Days are passing. Younger Days are beginning. The time of the Elves is over, but our time is ahead: the world of Men, which we must rule. But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see. Listen, Gandalf, my old friend and helper! I said we, for we it may be, if you join with me. A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. This then is the choice before you, before us. We may join with that Power. It would be wise, Gandalf.

Gandalf: How could it ever be wise to join with Sauron, our Enemy?

Saruman: There is hope that way. His victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those who aided it.

Gandalf: Saruman, I have heard speeches of this kind before, but only in the mouths of emissaries sent from Mordor to deceive the ignorant. I cannot think that you brought me so far only to weary my ears.

Saruman: Well, I see that this wise course does not commend itself to you. Not yet? Not if some better way can be contrived?

Gandalf: What better way?

Saruman: The Ruling Ring? And why not, Gandalf? Why not? The Power would pass to us if we could but command it.

Gandalf: Saruman, only one hand at a time can wield the One Ring and you know that well, so don't trouble to say we!

Saruman: I have many eyes in my service, Gandalf, and I believe that you know where this precious thing now lies. Well? Is it not so?

Gandalf: Now that I learn your mind, I will not even give you news of it.

Saruman: You are a fool.

Gandalf: Well, your choices are, it seems, to submit to Sauron, or to submit to you. I will take neither. Have you others to offer?

Saruman: Yes. The third choice is to stay here. You shall contemplate your folly from the highest pinnacle of the tower of Orthanc, until the end.

Gandalf: Until what end?

Saruman: Until you reveal to me where the One Ring may be found. Or until it is found in spite of you.





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