CD No.2 Episode II: The Black Riders



[A wind blows and the beating of an eagle's wings is heard]

Gwaihir: Gandalf!

Gandalf: Gwaihir, Windlord, swiftest of all Eagles. Why come you here?

[Gwaihir lands]

Gwaihir: I am sent to Orthanc with a message of import.

Gandalf: What message, Gwaihir?

Gwaihir: Dark tidings, Gandalf. Wolves are gathering. Orcs are mustering. And the Nine Riders go hither and thither in the lands. The Eagles of the Mountains have seen these things and learnt also that the Gollum creature has escaped from the Elves' captivity.

Gandalf: How did you know where to seek me?

Gwaihir: Radagast the Brown told us to bring whatever news we saw or heard to you at Isengard.

Gandalf: Ah! Then Radagast is not a traitor.

Gwaihir: I was bid by Radagast to seek both Gandalf the Grey and Saruman the White at Orthanc. Why find I Gandalf alone upon this perilous height? And why speak you of traitors?

Gandalf: For two months I've been imprisoned as a fly in the web of a treacherous spider, Gwaihir.

Gwaihir: Saruman?

Gandalf: Saruman is no longer Saruman the White. He is now Saruman of Many Colours. He seeks either to join forces with the Dark Lord of Mordor, or to find for himself sufficient power to rule in his stead.

Gwaihir: This is indeed evil news, Gandalf.

Gandalf: So it is, Gwaihir. But even the most subtle spider may leave a weak thread. Radagast he called a simpleton and a fool. Radagast the Bird-tamer he named him. But because of Radagast, Gwaihir the Windlord has come to me in my darkest hour.

Gwaihir: No mortal tames the Eagles of the Mountains. Not even Radagast or Gandalf. But I will carry you to freedom, since I do not wish to serve any Saruman of Many Colours. Take hold of my talons.

[Wolves begin to howl far below them. Gwaihir's wings beat the air]

Gwaihir: We are seen, Gandalf! I must fly with great speed.

Gandalf: How far can you carry me?

Gwaihir: Many leagues, but not to the ends of the earth. I was sent to bear tidings, not burdens.

Gandalf: Then I must have a steed on land, and a steed surpassingly swift for I have never had need of such haste before.

Gwaihir: Then I will bear you to Edoras, where the Lord of Rohan sits in his halls; for that is not very far off. And there are no horses like those that are bred by the Rohirrim, the Horse-lords of Rohan.

- - - - -

Narrator: Gwaihir the Windlord carried Gandalf to Edoras in the land of Rohan, to the halls of Théoden, King of the Mark.

[Footsteps echo]

Gandalf: Hail Théoden son of Thengel!

Théoden: Why comes Gandalf the Grey unlooked-for to my halls?

Gandalf: I have come to seek the aid of the Rohirrim and their King.

Théoden: I have never heard before that Gandalf sought the aid of any man.

Gandalf: Storm-clouds are gathering, Théoden. And when the storm breaks, nowhere in Middle-earth will be safe from its fury. Not even Théoden's halls.

Théoden: I know not what storm you speak of, Wandering Wizard.

Gandalf: Then you know not of the rise of the Enemy in Mordor, or of the treachery of Saruman the White?

Théoden: Gríma, faithful counselor. What say you of Gandalf Stormcrow's words?

Wormtongue: I say: Saruman is our ally against the Dark Lord of Mordor, King Théoden, and we should not parley with any who call him traitor.

Théoden: It is, I believe, as Gríma says. Rohan has no welcome for the warmonger.

Gandalf: I seek not war, Théoden. But if it comes, others than I will draw its bloody sword in Rohan. But if you will not help me, then at least lend me a steed that I may ride elsewhere in search of aid.

Théoden: Very well, Gandalf! Take a horse and begone!

[Gandalf's footsteps again resonate]

Narrator: Gandalf strode from Théoden's Golden Hall and went in search of a steed to carry him back to the Shire.

- - - - -

Narrator: And at Isengard, Saruman was suddenly faced with another unexpected turn of events.

[Many horses ride to a stop]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Come forth, Saruman, that we may speak with thee.

[Black Riders sigh with menace]

Saruman: Who calls thus on Saruman in such rude fashion?

Lord of the Nazgûl: I am the Lord of the Nazgûl, servant of Sauron the Great.

Saruman: What seek you here?

Lord of the Nazgûl: We seek knowledge, Saruman. Knowledge of how we may find that part of Middle-earth which is known as the Land of the Halflings.

Saruman: It is not a land that you look for. I know what you seek, though you do not name it. I have it not, as surely its servants percieve without telling, for if I had it, then you would bow before me and call me lord. I know nothing of this thing or of the land you seek. There is one only whom I guess to have this knowledge.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Who?

Saruman: Mithrandir! He whom some call Gandalf. Gandalf the Grey.

[The Black Riders again sigh]

Saruman: As it is but two days since this enemy of Sauron departed from Isengard, seek him nearby.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Seek him we shall, Saruman. Come!

[The Nazgûl ride away]

- - - - -

Narrator: But as the Black Riders of Mordor rode in search of Gandalf, they came upon another.

[Horses come to a halt]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Halt! Who rides there?

Wormtongue: I am Gríma, and I ride in haste, my lord. Do not delay me.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Why? What is your haste and where are you bound?

Wormtongue: For Isengard, lord.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Wherefore?

Wormtongue: I carry certain news to Saruman.

Lord of the Nazgûl: What news?

Wormtongue: That Mithrandir has sought to counsel King Théoden against both Saruman and Sauron.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Where is Mithrandir now?

Wormtongue: He seeks only a horse to return him to the Land of the Halflings.

Lord of the Nazgûl: Know you of this land?

[Wormtongue hesitates]

Wormtongue: Ah...

Lord of the Nazgûl: Speak or die. Where is this land?

Wormtongue: Spare me! I will speak as swiftly as I may. West, through the Gap of Rohan, yonder. And then north, and a little west. The Shire, they call it.

[The Riders sigh]

Lord of the Nazgûl: Come! Riders of Mordor! We will divide our company. Some to find this land and search it; some to seek Mithrandir. Come, away!

[They ride away]

- - - - -

Narrator: As the Black Riders rode away westward, Gandalf found on the plains of Rohan a horse suited to his needs. A horse that might have been foaled in the morning of the world. Light was his footfall, and swift as the flowing wind was he. By day, his coat glistened like silver and by night, it was like a shade, so that he passed unseen. Shadowfax they called him. Never before had any man mounted him, but Gandalf took him and tamed him, and swiftly he bore Gandalf north.

Gandalf: On, Shadowfax! We must hasten. Time is short!

- - - - -

Narrator: So Gandalf rode north on Shadowfax, while in the Shire, Frodo, not knowing what had delayed his friend, decided he would wait no longer.
[Birds sing]

Frodo: Well, Merry. Is everything ready?

Merry: Yes. Two cart-loads yesterday, full to overflowing, and now another one. I'm beginning to wonder if your new home will be big enough.

Frodo: Well, I've sold everything I could bear parting with to Lobelia. But some things I just had to take to remind me of Bag End and Bilbo.

Merry: Well, I'd best be off. If I leave now, I can get to Crickhollow and warm the house before you arrive. That's if you're quite sure you want to walk rather than go by cart?

Frodo: Quite sure.

Merry: Then, I'll see you the day after tomorrow, if you don't go to sleep on the way.

[Frodo laughs]

Frodo: I'll try not to!

[Merry's cart begins to roll away and his voice becomes slowly more faint]

Merry: I'll tell you one thing, Frodo. You had better settle when you get back to Buckland, because I for one am not helping you to move back again.

Frodo: What on earth makes you think Lobelia would ever sell Bag End back to me?

Merry: Oh, she might. At a profit. Farewell, Frodo! And good walking.

Frodo: Poor Merry. What will you say when you learn the truth about all this?

- - - - -

Narrator: As the sun went down, Frodo, Pippin, and Sam sat in the kitchen at Bag End.

[Their dishes clank. They sigh contently]

Frodo: Our last meal at Bag End.

Pippin: Sam and I'll wash up if you want to have a last look round.

Frodo: Thank you, Pippin, but I think we'll leave the washing up for Lobelia.

[Sam and Pippin laugh]

Frodo: I've already taken a last look round. Everywhere looks so sad and gloomy and disheveled. So! We might as well start.

Sam: Our packs are already on the porch, Mr. Frodo.

Frodo: Well-done, Sam.

Pippin: It looks as though it's going to be a fine night.

Frodo: Well, that's good for a beginning. I wish I knew what was delaying Gandalf! Anyway, I must start and he must follow.

- - - - -

[The door of Bag End closes. Frodo locks it and sighs]

Frodo: Well, good-bye, dear old Bag End! Well then, we're off at last.

Pippin: Haven't you got a song for the occasion, Frodo?

Frodo: Eh, w... ah, well, yes, there's one that might suit. Upon the Hearth?

Pippin: Yes.

Frodo, Sam, and Pippin:

Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! O, let them pass!

- - - - -

Narrator: The hobbits had scarcely gone when a dark and sinister hooded Rider rode up Bagshot Row, and arrived at Gaffer Gamgee's home.

[The door opens. The Rider's breath is low and gravely]

Gaffer: Yes? Who's there? Who is it? What do you want at this time of night?

Rider: Baggins! I'm looking for Baggins! Where is Baggins?

Gaffer: What's Mr. Baggins' business to do with you?

Rider: A friend of his is looking for him.

Gaffer: Well, you don't look like any friend of Mr. Baggins' I've ever seen.

Rider: Answer my question! Where is Baggins? There's no one at his house. Why?

Gaffer: For a good reason. Mr. Baggins has gone away.

Rider: Where did Baggins go?

Gaffer: That ain't no secret. He's moved to Crickhollow or some-such place, away down yonder.

Rider: Is it far?

Gaffer: Yes, it is. A tidy way. I've never been so far meself. They're queer folk down there.

Rider: If you see him, you'll give him a message from me?

Gaffer: I'm not taking no orders from you nor no-one. Not even if you are a friend of Mr. Baggins, which I doubt. Now, good-night to you!

[He slams his door. The Rider sighs in anger]

- - - - -

Narrator: 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]

Frodo: 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.

[Pippin stretches]

Pippin: 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]

Sam: No, no, sir, I haven't!

[Pippin and Frodo laugh]

Frodo: It's all right, Sam!

Sam: Huh?

Frodo: 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]

Sam: I've never been this near the end of the Shire before, Mr. Peregrin. What river is that down there?

Pippin: That's the Brandywine, Sam.

Sam: And do Elves live in those woods, over there?

Pippin: In Woody End? No, not that I ever heard. Oh, this road goes on forever! When are we going to rest, Frodo? 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.

Pippin: That sounds like a bit of old Bilbo's rhyming. Or is it one of your imitations?

Frodo: 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.

Pippin: In any event, it doesn't sound altogether encouraging.

Frodo: No, I suppose not.

[He laughs, reminiscently]

Frodo: 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."

Pippin: Well...

[He sets his pack down]

Pippin: ...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.

[Frodo laughs]

- - - - -

Frodo, Sam, and Pippin:

Farewell we call to hearth and hall!
Though wind may blow and rain may fall,
We must away...

[Sam stops and shushes them]

Frodo and Pippin:

...ere break...

Pippin: What? What?

Sam: 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]

Frodo: 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.

Gandalf:

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

Gandalf: 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]

Rider: The Ring! The Ring! Put on the Ring!

Frodo: No!

[Gandalf's voice is again heard.

Gandalf: Remember what I said about the Ring?]

Frodo: Yes.

[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]

Pippin: Who was it?

Frodo: I don't know.

Sam: What did you see, Mr. Frodo?

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.

Sam: What was he looking for?

Frodo: 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.

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

Frodo: I don't know. But I wish I had waited for Gandalf! But then, perhaps it would only have made matters worse.

Pippin: Then you know or guess something about this Rider?

Frodo: Hm? I don't know and I - I would rather not guess.

Pippin: 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?

Frodo: 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.

Pippin: 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.

Frodo: 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.

Pippin: 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.

Frodo: Ah!

Pippin: The best beer in the Eastfarthing of the Shire, or used to be.

Frodo: 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?

Sam: Well, I - I should go along with you, Mr. Frodo.

Pippin: 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]

Pippin: What do you think that was? If it was a bird, it was one I never heard in the Shire before.

Frodo: 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!

- - - - -

[Cows moo]

Pippin: Hullo! I know these fields! This is Bamfurlong, old Farmer Maggot's land. And - and that's his farm away there in the trees.

Frodo: Oh, no! One trouble after another!

Pippin: What's wrong with Old Maggot? He's a good friend to all the Brandybucks. Of course, he's a terror to trespassers, and keeps ferocious dogs - but after all, folk down here are near the border and have to be more on their guard.

Frodo: All the same, I'm terrified of him and his dogs, and I've avoided his farm for years and years.

Sam: Why's that, Mr. Frodo?

Frodo: Well, he caught me trespassing after mushrooms several times, when I was a youngster. And on the last occasion he beat me, and then took me and showed me to his dogs. "See, lads," he said, "next time this young varmint sets foot on my land, you can eat him."

[Pippin laughs]

Frodo: "Now see him off!" And they did. And I've never got over the fright.

Pippin: Well then, it's time you made it up.

Frodo: Hm...

- - - - -

[Dogs bark]

Farmer Maggot: Grip! Wolf! Come on, lads!

Sam: Don't worry, Mr. Frodo. I won't let this Farmer Maggot do you no harm. If he tries, he'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with.

Frodo: Thank you, Sam!

Farmer Maggot: Hallo! Hallo! And who may you be, and what may you be wanting?

Pippin: Good afternoon, Mr. Maggot!

Farmer Maggot: Well, if it isn't Master Pippin - oh, Mr. Peregrin Took, I should say!

[A dog growls]

Pippin: Yes.

Farmer Maggot: It's lucky for you that I know you. I was just going to have to set my dogs on any strangers. There are some funny goings on today. Course, we do get queer folk wandering in these parts at times. Too near the River. But this fellow was the most outlandish I ever set eyes on.

Pippin: Oh, which fellow do you mean?

Farmer Maggot: well, then, you haven't seen him? Oh, he went up the lane not a long while back. Oh, he was a funny customer and was asking funny questions. Oh, but - well, perhaps you'll come inside, and we'll pass the news more comfortably. I - I have a drop of good ale on tap...

Pippin: Yes!

Farmer Maggot: ...if you and your friends are willing, Mr. Took.

Pippin: Yes, well...

[A dog growls again]

Frodo: Eh, what about the dogs?

[Farmer Maggot laughs]

Farmer Maggot: They won't harm you - not unless I tell 'em to. Here, Grip! Grip, Fang! Heel! Heel!

Pippin: Ah... c - can I introduce my friends? This is Sam Gamgee.

Farmer Maggot: How do you do, Sam?

Sam: How do you do. Mr... Maggot...

Pippin: Uh, and - and this is Mr. Frodo Baggins. You may not remember him, but he - he used to live in Buckland.

Farmer Maggot: Well, if that isn't queerer than ever? Mr. Baggins is it? Oh, come inside! We must talk.

- - - - -

[They drink and set down their mugs]

Pippin: Well, Sam! This makes up for missing the Golden Perch, eh?

Sam: Yes... I suppose so, Mr. Peregrin.

[Frodo takes a drink]

Frodo: Ehm, I - I'm afraid Sam here is rather suspicious of you, Farmer Maggot.

[He clears his throat]

Farmer Maggot: Oh?

Frodo: Eh, well, you see, um - I told him the last time I came to visit you, you gave me a beating to remember you by.

[Farmer Maggot laughs]

Farmer Maggot: Well, Sam, I - I'm sorry I beat your Master, but he shouldn't 'a gone thieving my mushrooms! Oh, I remember you, Mr. Baggins!

[They laugh]

Farmer Maggot: Anyway, that's all in the past! And it wasn't mushrooms I was thinking of when Mr. Peregrin told me your name, Mr. Frodo. You see, I had just heard the name of Baggins before you turned up.

Pippin: How is that, Mr. Maggot?

Farmer Maggot: Well, it was like this. This - this funny customer came riding in at the gate on a big, black horse, and right up to my door. All black he was himself, too, and cloaked and hooded up, as if he did not want to be known. "Good day to you!" I says, going out to him. "This lane don't lead anywhere, and where-ever you may be going, your quickest way will be back to the road." And the Black Fellow sat quite still and then pointed back west, over - over my fields, if you please. He said, "I come from yonder. Have you seen Baggins?" "Oh, be off!" I said. "There are no Bagginses here. You're in the wrong part of the Shire. You had better go back west to Hobbiton - you can go by road this time." "Baggins has left," he answered in a whisper. "He is coming. He is not far away. I wish to find him. If he passes will you tell me? I will come back with gold." "Oh, no you won't," I said. "You'll go back where you belong, double quick. I give you one minute before I call all my dogs." And he gave a sort of hiss. It might have been a laugh, and it might not. Then he spurred his great horse right at me, and I jumped out of the way only just in time. I called my dogs, but he swung off, and rode through the gate like a bolt of thunder. Now. What do you think of that?

Frodo: I don't know what to think.

Farmer Maggot: Well, it's as plain as my nose that no accident brought you and that Rider here on the same afternoon. A - and maybe my news was no great news to you, after all. I'm not asking you to tell me anything you have a mind to keep to yourself. But I see you're in some kind of trouble.

Frodo: Yes, I'm afraid I may be. And since I must try to get to Crickhollow before dark, we must be going.

Pippin: Oh, drink up, Sam! We're off again.

Farmer Maggot: Ah, ah, look, Mr. Frodo! I - I've a notion.

[Sam drinks]

Farmer Maggot: It's nearly sundown and we're going to have our supper. Mrs. Maggot's cooking bacon and mushrooms. I daresay you still have a liking for mushrooms, Mr. Baggins. Anyway, we'd be pleased if you could all stay and have a bite with us.

Frodo: Well, and so should we! But - but, well really, you see, we must...

Farmer Maggot: Now, now, now, wait a... wait a minute! I was going to say: after a bit of supper, I'll get out our small wagon, and I'll take you on your way. And that'll save you a step, and it might also save you trouble of another sort.

Frodo: Thank you, Mr. Maggot! That would be most kind.

[Pippin laughs]

Pippin: Didn't take much to change his mind, did it? What... bacon and... what was it?

Farmer Maggot: Mushrooms.

Pippin: Yes, of course!

[They laugh]

- - - - -

[The wheels of Farmer Maggot's wagon roll along the road]

Farmer Maggot: This mist is going to get worse, I'm thinking. Now, I'll not light my lanterns 'till I turn for home. We'll hear anything on the road long before we meet it.

Frodo: You know, Farmer Maggot, I - I've been in terror of you and your dogs for over thirty years, though you may laugh to hear it. It's a pity, for I've missed a good friend.

Farmer Maggot: Well, you should never have gone gettin' yourself mixed up with Hobbiton folk. I shouldn't be surprised if this trouble you're in now hasn't come from those strange doings of Mr. Bilbo. Anyway, I - I'm glad you've had the sense to come back to Buckland. And my advice is: stay here.

[A horse approaches the wagon]

Farmer Maggot: Whoe, there! Oh, someone's comin'!

Sam: You'd... you'd better be hidden, Mr. Frodo.

Frodo: Yes.

Sam: Get down in the wagon. Cover up with blankets.

Frodo: All right.

Sam: We'll soon send this Rider to the rightabouts!

Farmer Maggot: Hallo there! Now, then, don't you come a step nearer.

[The horse stops]

Farmer Maggot: What do you want? Who are you?

Merry: Why, it's me, Mr. Maggot!

Farmer Maggot: Oh, Mr. Merry!

Merry: Yes, of course! Who did you think it was?

Pippin: You can come out, Frodo, it was only Merry.

Farmer Maggot: Merry!

Frodo: Thank goodness for that!

Merry: What's all this about? And where did you find them, Mr. Maggot? In your duck-pond?

Farmer Maggot: No, I - I caught them trespassing. Oh, but they'll tell you the story, I've no doubt. Well, it's been a queer day, and no mistake. But all's well that ends well; though perhaps we should not say that 'till we reach our own doors. Oh, there now! I - I... I was nearly forgettin'. Ah, Mrs. Maggot put this up for Mr. Baggins with her compliments.

Frodo: Oh, thank you, Mr. Maggot!

Farmer Maggot: Well, good-night to you all.

[They all bid him good-night. His wagon rolls away]

Pippin: What's in the basket, Frodo?

[Frodo sniffs]

Frodo: Eh, mushrooms, if I'm not very much mistaken!

[They laugh]

- - - - -

[A door opens]

Merry: Well, here we are! What do you think of it? I've done my best to make it look like home.

[The door closes and silverwear is pulled out]

Frodo: It's, eh - it's perfect, Merry. I hardly feel I've moved at all. What do you say, Sam?

Sam: Just like Bag End is is, Mr. Frodo. I - I'll make some supper.

[Sam rummages through the kitchen, preparing the meal]

Merry: Oh, good! Now, then. What have you three been up to? And... and what was the matter with Old Maggot? He sounded scared.

Pippin: We've all been scared. And you would have been, too, if you'd been chased by Black Riders.

Merry: Black Riders? What are they?

Pippin: Black figures riding on black horses. Cousin Frodo knows something more, but he's being close.

Frodo: Very well. I can't keep it to myself any longer. I've got something to tell you, but - well, now I see how pleasant and comfortable and welcoming you've made this little place, Merry... I - I don't know how to begin.

Merry: I think I can help you.

Frodo: Hm?

Merry: By telling you some of it myself.

Frodo: What do you mean?

Merry: Well, just this, my dear old Frodo: you are miserable, because you don't know how to say good-bye. You meant to leave the Shire, of course. But danger has come sooner than you expected, and now you are making up your mind to go at once. And you don't want to.

Frodo: But! How, how...? I mean...?

Pippin: Dear old Frodo! Did you really think you'd thrown dust in all our eyes? You have not been nearly careful or clever enough for that!

Merry: No.

Frodo: Good heavens! I thought I had been both careful and clever. I don't know what Gandalf would say. I mean... is all the Shire discussing my departure?

Merry: Oh no! No, no, don't worry about that! The - the secret won't keep for long, of course; but at present it is, I think, known only to us conspirators.

Pippin: Anyway, the conspiracy has now been unmasked. And we're not going to let you escape so easily!

Frodo: But I must go. It cannot be helped. It is wretched for us all, but - but please help me and don't hinder me!

Pippin: You don't understand! Of course you must go - and therefore so must we.

Frodo: What do you mean?

Pippin: I mean that Merry and I are coming with you. Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon's throat to save you, if he didn't trip over his own feet first.

[They laugh]

Pippin: But you'll need more than one companion in your dangerous adventure.

Frodo: My dear and most beloved hobbits! But I couldn't allow it. You speak of danger, but you do not know how deadly is that danger.

Merry: Of course we know. And that is why we have decided to come. We know the Ring is no laughing matter.

Frodo: R...!

Pippin: Y - yes, we know about the Ring. And we're going to do our best to help you against the Enemy.

Frodo: But how...! How... I mean, is nothing safe?

Merry: Not too safe, I should say. But if you want to be introduced to our chief investigator in our little conspiracy, I can produce him.

Frodo: Where is he?

Merry: Step forward, Sam.

Frodo: Sa...!

Merry: Here's our collector of information!

Sam: Well...

[He coughs]

Merry: And he collected a lot, I can tell you, before he was finally caught. After which, I may say, he seemed to regard himself as on parole, and dried up.

Frodo: Sam!

Sam: Yes, sir! Begging your pardon, sir! But I meant no wrong to you, Mr. Frodo, nor to Mr. Gandalf, for that matter. And he has some sense, mind you.

Frodo: What is that supposed to mean?

Sam: Why, sir, when you said go alone, he said no! Take someone as you can trust.

Frodo: But it doesn't seem that I can trust anyone!

Sam: Well, now, don't say that, Mr. Frodo, sir.

Pippin: Look, Frodo. It all depends on what you want. You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin, to the bitter end.

Merry: And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours, closer than you keep it yourself.

Pippin: But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone.

Merry: Anyway: there it is. We know most of what Gandalf has told you. We know a good deal about the Ring. We are horribly afraid - but we are coming with you.

Pippin: Yes.

Merry: Or follow you like hounds.

Frodo: You are a set of deceitful scoundrels! But... but bless you! Oh, I had so dreaded this evening.

- - - - -

Narrator: The next morning, the hobbits rose early and prepared to set out. They saddled up four sturdy little ponies for riding and loaded their baggage onto a fifth.

[A bird sings]

Merry: Well, Frodo. All is ready.

Pippin: Which way are we to head?

Frodo: For Rivendell, and the House of Elrond Half-elven. But we must not go by road. The Riders will be watching for us. So the only safe thing to do is to go of in a quite unexpected direction.

Merry: Then, we must go through the Old Forest and then on to Bree.

Pippin: And Merry must lead us, for he knows the Forest better than any of us.

Merry: That's settled, then.

Frodo: Still! I wish Gandalf were with us, all the same.

Pippin: Well, come on! Gandalf or no Gandalf, the sooner we leave the Shire and those Riders behind, the better.

Frodo: Yes.

Merry:

To Rivendell, where Elves yet dwell...

[Their ponies walk swiftly]

Merry, Pippin, Frodo, and Sam:

In glades beneath the misty fell,
Through moor and waste we ride in haste,
And whither then we cannot tell.

With foes ahead, behind us dread,
Beneath the sky shall be our bed,
Until at last our toil be passed,
Our journey done, our errand sped.

- - - - -

[The ponies' footsteps are heard]

Merry:

To Rivendell, where Elves yet...

Oh, that's Bree, up ahead!

Frodo: Ah! Is there anywhere there we can stay?

Merry: Eh, there's an inn, Frodo. The Prancing Pony, if I remember rightly.

Pippin: I must say it will be good to find a fire and put a door between us and the night.

Frodo: Well, it may be all we could wish, Pippin. But it is outside the Shire, all the same. Now, don't make yourselves too much at home. Oh, and please, remember, all of you that the name of Baggins must not be mentioned.

Pippin, Merry, and Sam: Right.

Frodo: I am Mr. Underhill, if any name must be given.

- - - - -

[Their ponies come to a stop]

Sam: Well, is this the inn?

Merry: Yes, Sam. Why? What's the matter?

Sam: Well, surely we - we aren't going to stay here, are we, sir? I mean - it's got three stories!

[Frodo and Pippin laugh]

Frodo: Never mind. It will have to do. And I - I daresay it's homelike enough inside.

[He knocks. The group shivers. He knocks again, louder]

Butterbur: All right! All right! I'm coming.

[The door opens]

Butterbur: Now, what's all this... oh, good evening, little Masters! What may you be wantin'?

Frodo: Eh, beds for four, and stabling for five ponies, if that can be managed. Oh, are you Mr. Butterbur?

Butterbur: That's right. Barliman's my name. Barliman Butterbur, at your service. And you're hobbits from the Shire, eh?

Frodo: Yes.

Pippin: Yes.

Frodo: Ehm...

Butterbur: Oh! Now, now, what does that remind me of? Might I ask your name, sir?

Frodo: Ehm, Mr. Took and Mr. Brandybuck.

Butterbur: How do you do?

Pippin: How do you do?

Frodo: And - and this is Sam Gamgee.

Butterbur: Evening.

Sam: How do you do?

Frodo: And, ehm - my name in Underhill.

Butterbur: Now, Mr. Underhill! Oh - oh, now. Oh, there now! It's gone again. But it'll come back when I have time to think. I'm run off my feet; but I'll see what I can do for you. There is such a crowd in the house tonight as there hasn't been for long enough. Still, it never rains, but when it pours, as we say in Bree. Hi! Nob! Where are you, you wolly-footed slow-coach? Nob!

[Frodo laughs]

Nob: Coming, sir, coming!

Butterbur: Now, where's Bob?

Nob: Oh, I don't know, Mr. Butterbur.

Butterbur: You don't know? Well find him! Double sharp!

Nob: Oh, ah...

Butterbur: I haven't got six legs, nor six eyes neither! Now tell Bob there's five ponies that have to be stabled and he must find room somehow. Well, off you go!

Nob: Oh, y - yes, Mr. Butterbur!

Butterbur: Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! Well, now, what - what was I going to say, now? Oh, I don't know. The trouble is: one thing drives out another, so to speak. And I'm that busy tonight, my head's going round.

[He laughs]

Butterbur: Anyway, it's a good job you're hobbits. Or I doubt if we could house you. But we've got a room or two in the north wing that were made special for hobbits. On the ground floor with round windows and all. I hope you'll find them comfortable.

Frodo: Happy now, Sam?

Sam: Oh yes, Mr. Frodo. That sounds most comfortable.

Butterbur: And you'll be wanting supper, I don't doubt, as soon as maybe?

Pippin: Yes, please!

Sam: Yes, please!

Butterbur: Well... well, come in, come in! You can go into the parlour. It's quiet in there.

Frodo: Oh, thank you!

Butterbur: Well, you'll have to excuse me now. I'm that busy.

- - - - -

[A fire roars. Dinner-dishes are handled. Merry stretches]

Frodo: More cheese to fill up the corners with, Merry?

[Merry pats his stomach]

Merry: No corners left, I'm afraid.

[They laugh. The parlour door opens]

Butterbur: Oh, begging your pardon for disturbing you, Mr. Underhill!

Frodo: That's all right, Mr. Butterbur. Eh, we've - we've just finished. And it was an excellent meal.

Pippin: Hear, hear!

[The other hobbits express their agreement]

Butterbur: Oh, good. I'm glad. But what I was wondering was whether you'd care to join the company when you'd supped? I mean, they'd be very pleased to welcome you, if you had a mind. We don't often get Outsiders - travellers from the Shire, I should say. And we like to hear a bit of news, or any story or song you may have in mind. So... so join us! Or not, as you please.

Frodo: Oh, well, thank you, Mr. Butterbur. Perhaps we will!

Butterbur: Well, now. I must be getting on again.

[He opens the door]

Butterbur: Nob! Nob!

[The door shuts]

Frodo: Hm, I think it might be quite pleasant to join the company for a while. What do you fellows say?

Pippin: Ah, I daresay we could give them a song or two if they like.

Sam: Well, I've got a tale or two.

Frodo: What about you, Merry?

Merry: Oh, no, no. I - I shall sit here quietly by the fire for a bit and perhaps go out later for a sniff of the air. And mind your Ps and Qs now, and don't forget that we are supposed to be escaping in secret, and we are still not very far from the Shire.

Pippin: All right! And you mind yourself! Don't get lost, and don't forget that it's safer indoors.

- - - - -

[Many people talk amongst themselves, drinking and eating]

Frodo: Mr. Butterbur?

Butterbur: Hm?

Frodo: Who's that strange-looking weather-beaten man, sitting by the wall? Smoking a pipe. I don't think you introduced him.

Butterbur: Oh, him! I don't rightly know. He's one of the wandering folk - Rangers we call 'em.

Frodo: Ah.

Butterbur: He disappears for a month, or a year, and then pops up again. What his right name is I've never heard: but he's known round here as Strider.

Frodo: Stri... why is that?

Butterbur: What, on account on his going about at a great pace on those long shanks of his. Though he don't tell nobody what cause he has to hurry. You know, Mr. Underhill, it's funny you should ask about him, because...

Patron: Barliman! Barliman!

Butterbur: There's no peace for a body, and that's a fact. Half a minute, Mr. Underhill. I'll be back. Nob! Where are you, lad?

Nob: Coming, sir.

Strider: Master Underhill! Will you join me for a moment?

Frodo: Oh! Thank you. Eh...

Strider: It is Underhill, isn't it? Only I wasn't sure if old Butterbur got your name right.

[Someone begins to play a fiddle in the background]

Frodo: Yes, he did.

Strider: Well, Master Underhill. I am called Strider and I am pleased to meet you. You know, drink, fire, and chance meetings are pleasant enough, but - ehm, well, this isn't the Shire and there are queer folk about. Though I say it as shouldn't, you may think.

[He laughs]

Strider: And there have been even stranger travellers through Bree lately. So, if I were you...

Pippin: So, as soon as the Feast was over...

Strider: ...I should stop your friends from talking too much.

Pippin: ...and then last of all that he had an Announcement to make!

Strider: You had better do something quick!

Pippin: Anyway. Then he gets up and gets on the table...

Frodo: Ehh! My friends! ...And I! Uh. Hello?

[The Pony patrons at first express disappointment at the interruption but soon are hushed to attention]

Frodo: We would like to thank you all for your warm and most hospitable welcome to Bree.

Patron: Ah, it looks like Mr. Underhill's had too much of old Barliman's ale!

[The crowd laughs]

Pippin: Frodo! I was in the middle of telling a story.

Frodo: Ah, we are all very much gratified...

[Pippin sighs in disgust]

Frodo: ...by the kindness of your reception, ehm, and I venture to hope that our brief visit will help to renew the old ties of friendship between the Shire and Bree.

[He coughs]

Patron: Ah, well. Let's have a song, then!

[The crowd excitedly agrees]

Patron: Come on, Mr. Underhill. Hop on the table; sing us a song.

[Members of the crowd bang on the tables]

Frodo: Ah, well...

Patron: Come on, now, Master! Sing us something that we haven't heard before.

Frodo: Oh, well...

[A fiddle begins to play]

Frodo: Well, very well! Eh, perhaps this will be new to you?

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

[The crowd laughs their approval]

Frodo:

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

Patron: Sawing in the middle!

[The patron is hushed]

Frodo:

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,
and the cat began to wail;
A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced,
and the little dog chased his tail.

[They laugh]

Frodo:

The Man in the Moon took another mug,
and rolled beneath his chair;
And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
That in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

The cat and the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would waken the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
And the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
"It's after three!" he said.

With a ping and a pong the fiddle-string broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

[The crowd cheers and claps]

Frodo: Thank you!

Patron: Let's here that last verse again!

Frodo: Oh... all right.

With a ping and a pong the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped - Oh!

Patron: Look out!

[Frodo crashes to the floor]

Patron: You jumped too high, Mr. Underhill!

[The crowd laughs, but suddenly falls silent]

Patron: Where'd he go?

Patron: He - he went slap through the floor! I seen him! Here, Barliman! Barliman, quick!

[The crowd mutters quietly]

Butterbur: Now then, now then. What's all the rumpus about?

Patron: I saw him! Or leastways, I didn't see him, if you take my meanin'. Mr. Underhill just vanished into thin air, in a manner of speaking.

Butterbur: You don't say, Mr. Mugwort?

Patron: I do say.

Butterbur: Well, there's some mistake somewhere! There's too much of that Mr. Underhill to go vanishing into thin air.

[He laughs nervously]

Patron: Well, where's he now, then?

Butterbur: How should I know? He's welcome to go where he will, so long as he pays in the morning.

Patron: Well, I say I saw what I saw, and I saw what I didn't.

Butterbur: And I say there's some mistake.

Frodo: Of... of course there's a mistake!

[The crowd again falls silent]

Frodo: I - I haven't vanished! Well, here I am.

Butterbur: Now, what you've been doing, Mr. Underhill? Frightening my customer and breaking my crocks with your acrobatics!

Frodo: Yes, I - I'm very sorry. I - it was quite unintentional, I assure you. A - a most unfortunate accident.

Butterbur: All right. All right, everybody! All right. Excitement's over. There's plenty of ale still to be drunk!

[He laughs]

Butterbur: And I'll ask you, Mr. Underhill, not to be doing any more tumblin' or conjurin' or whatever it was without warning us before-hand.

Frodo: I shan't be doing anything of the sort again, Mr. Butterbur. I promise you.

Butterbur: I hope not, Mr. Underhill! We're a bit suspicious around here of anything out-of-the-way. Nob!

Strider: Well, Mr. Underhill. You have put your foot in it! Or should I say your finger?

Frodo: I don't know what you mean.

Strider: Oh yes, you do. But we had better wait until things have settled down. Then, if you please, Mr. Baggins, I should like a quiet word with you.

- - - - -

Pippin: But Frodo, who is this stranger, and what's he to do with us?

Strider: My name is Strider and I want to talk to you.

Sam: What about?

Strider: A matter of some importance, although, of course, I have my price.

Frodo: What do you mean?

Strider: Don't be alarmed! I mean just this: I will tell you what I know, and give you some good advice - but I shall expect a reward.

Frodo: Hm. And what will that be, pray?

Strider: No more than you can afford. All I ask is that you take me along with you.

Frodo: Oh, indeed! Is that all? Well, even if I wanted another companion, I shouldn't agree to any such thing, until I knew a good deal more about you, and your business.

Strider: Excellent! You seem to be coming to your senses again, and that's all to the good. You have been much too careless so far. Very well! I will tell you what I know, and leave the reward to you.

Frodo: All right. What do you know?

Strider: I know you are a Frodo Baggins and I also know what you are carrying out of the Shire.

Frodo: What!

Strider: Now, now, don't mistake me! I shall take more care of your secret than you do. And care is needed! Black horsemen have passed through Bree. And believe me, they will return. And more are coming. There are others; I know these Riders and I know their number. There are folk in Bree who are not to be trusted, and it seems all too likely that, by morning, these Riders will know of your little prank.

Frodo: It was sheer accident!

Strider: I wonder. Anyway, that accident has made your position dangerous.

[Frodo sighs]

Frodo: I don't know why we behaved so foolishly. We ought to have stayed quiet in here.

Pippin: Yes...

Strider: It would have been better. And I would have stopped you going in there if I could, but the inn-keeper would not let me go in to see you.

Frodo: Do you think he knows anything?

Strider: No, I don't think any harm of old Butterbur.

Frodo: Well, in any event, I intend to leave Bree at first light.

Strider: But you dare not go by the open road, for the horsemen will watch it day and night. And even if you escape from Bree, you won't go far. They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there is no help. Do you wish them to find you? They are terrible, Frodo. Terrible! But trust Strider and he will take you by paths that are seldom trodden. Well? Will you have him?

Sam: With your leave, Mr. Frodo, I'd say no! This Strider here, he... he says take care; and I say yes to that, and let's begin with him.

Frodo: Hm... I think, Strider, that you are not really as you choose to look. Still, as Sam says, I - I don't see why you should warn us to take care, and yet ask us to take you on trust. Why the disguise? Who are you? What do you really know about - about my business; and how do you know it?

[There is a knock at the door]

Strider: Wait! Let me get out of sight.

Frodo: Quick! Ready?

[He opens the door]

Butterbur: Eh...

Frodo: Oh, eh - good evening, Mr. Butterbur. Ehm, I'm sorry about the commotion.

Butterbur: Oh, oh, that's all right, Mr. uh, Underhill. I - I... I've just come to bid you good-night. Ehm, Nob! Take the water to the rooms!

Nob: Yes, Mr. Butterbur.

[Butterbur closes the door]

Butterbur: There... eh, there is something else, Mr. Underhill.

Frodo: Yes?

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: Eh, um... I'm sorry, Mr. Butterbur, but I don't follow you.

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: Oh? And what has that got to do with me?

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: Who told you this?

Butterbur: 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.

Pippin: But, Mr. Butterbur - what have you done?

Butterbur: 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]

Butterbur: It's addressed plain enough. I mean, Mr. Frodo Baggins, Bag End, Hobb-i-ton in the Shire.

Frodo: A letter for me from Gandalf!

Butterbur: Oh, then your name is Baggins?

Frodo: Yes, it is, and you had better give me that letter at once...

[He grabs the envelope]

Frodo: ...and explain why you never sent it.

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: What do you mean, trouble?

Butterbur: 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.

Strider: Yes. He did!

Butterbur: You! What do you want? You're always popping up.

Frodo: Ah, it's... it's - he's here with my leave. He came to offer his help.

Butterbur: Oh, well! You know your own business, maybe, but if I was in your plight, I wouldn't take up with a Ranger.

Strider: 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?

Butterbur: Me? Leave Bree! I wouldn't do that for any money.

Strider: Well, then. Let others help them.

Butterbur: Eh... but - but what are these Black Riders after? And where do they come from?

Frodo: 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...

Strider: They come from Mordor.

[Butterbur gasps]

Strider: From Mordor, Barliman, if that means anything to you.

Butterbur: Oh, save us!

Frodo: Well, Mr. Butterbur? Are you still willing to help me?

Butterbur: I am. More than ever. Though I don't know what the likes of me can do against, against -

Strider: 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.

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: Well, we can only hope the Riders won't come back yet.

Butterbur: 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.

Frodo: Yes. In any case we must be called at dawn. We must get off as early as possible. Eh, breakfast at six-thirty, please?

Butterbur: Right! I'll see to the orders. Well, good-night, Mr. Baggins.

Frodo: Ah!

Butterbur: uh, Underhill, I should say. Eh, good-night, Mr. Took.

Pippin: Good-night.

Butterbur: Good-night, Mr. Brandy... well, where's your Mr. Brandybuck?

Frodo: Merry! I - I don't know. I'm afraid he's... he's out.

Pippin: He said something about going for a breath of air.

Butterbur: 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]

Nob: Mr. Brandybuck... Mr. Brandybuck! Mr. Brandybuck!

- - - - -

[The fire crackles]

Strider: Well? When are you going to open that letter?

Frodo: Yes, of course.

[He tears open the envelope and pulls out the letter]

Frodo: Really, old Butterbur has made a shocking mess of things.

[He clears his throat. Gandalf's voice enters the parlour:

Gandalf:

THE PRANCING PONY, BREE. Midyear's Day, Shire Year, 1418.

Dear Frodo,

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,
Gandalf.

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]

Frodo: Strider, why didn't you tell me you were Gandalf's friend?

Aragorn: Would you have believed me, till now?

Frodo: I...

Aragorn: I knew nothing of the letter. And anyway, I hoped you might take me for my own sake. But there...

[He laughs]

Aragorn: ...I believe my looks are against me.

[Pippin laughs]

Pippin: They are! Well, at first sight at any rate. But handsome is as handsome does, as we say in the Shire.

Sam: 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?

Aragorn: 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]

Aragorn: Not much use, is it, Sam? But the time is near when this broken sword shall be forged anew.

Frodo: 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]

Aragorn: You mean, I look foul and feel fair.

Frodo: No, no...

Aragorn: 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.

Frodo: Yes. Thank you. We need a guide, for this is all far more dangerous that I'd ever realized.

[Pippin yawns]

Frodo: Pippin...

Pippin: 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]

Pippin: Where is that silly fellow Merry? It would be the last straw if we had to go out in the dark and look for him.

Frodo: Yes.

[The door opens. Merry gasps for breath]

Frodo: Merry!

Merry: I have seen them, Frodo!

Frodo: What...?

Merry: I have seen them, in the village, here.

Sam: Who?

Merry: The Black Riders!





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