Lord of the Rings - 'Shadow of the Past' Page

 
Gandalf, beside the hearth at Bag End

Gandalf, beside the hearth at Bag End
A heavy silence fell in the room.  Frodo could hear his heart beating.  Even outside everything seemed still.  No sound of Sam's shears could now be heard.

'Yes, to Mordor,' said Gandalf.  'Alas!  Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there.  The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons.  And all folk were whispering then of the new Shadow in the South, and its hatred of the West.  There were his fine new friends, who would help him in his revenge!
'Wretched fool!  In that land he would learn much, too much for his comfort.  And sooner or later as he lurked and pried on the borders he would be caught, and taken - for examination.  That was the way of it, I fear.  When he was found he had already been there long, and was on his way back.  On some errand of mischief.  But that does not matter much now.  His worst mischief was done. Down from the Emyn Muil
'Yes, alas! through him the Enemy has learned that the One has been found again.  He knows where Isildur fell.  He knows where Gollum found his ring.  He knows that it is a Great Ring, for it gave long life.  He knows that it is not one of the Three, for they have never been lost, and they endure no evil.  He knows that it is not one of the Seven, or the Nine, for they are accounted for.  He knows that it is the One.  And he has at last heard, I think, of hobbits and the Shire.

'The Shire - he may be seeking for it now, if he has not already found out where it lies.  Indeed, Frodo, I fear that he may even think that the long-unnoticed name of Baggins has become important.'


Bilbo, at Bag End, with the Ring
'But this is terrible!' cried Frodo.  'Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings.  O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do?  For now I am really afraid. What am I to do?  What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'

'Pity?  It was Pity that stayed his hand.  Pity, and Mercy:  not to strike without need.  And he has been well rewarded, Frodo.  Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so.  With Pity.'

I am sorry,' said Frodo.  'But I am frightened;  and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.'

'You have not seen him,' Gandalf broke in.
'No, and I don't want to,' said Frodo.  'I can't understand you.  Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds?  Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy.  He deserves death.'
'Deserves it!  I daresay he does.  Many that live deserve death.  And some that die deserve life.  Can you give it to them?  Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.  For even the very wise cannot see all ends.  I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it.  And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring.  My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, for good or ill, before the end;  and when that comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours not least.  In any case we did not kill him:  he is very old and very wretched.  The Wood-elves have him in prison, but they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their wise hearts.'  
Wood-elves, at the Council of Elrond

Wood-elves, at the Council of Elrond
'All the same,' said Frodo, 'even if Bilbo could not kill Gollum, I wish he had not kept the Ring.  I wish he had never found it, and that I had not got it!  Why did you let me keep it?  Why didn't you make me throw it away, or, or destroy it?

'Let you? Make you?' said the wizard.  'Haven't you been listening to all that I have said?  You are not thinking of what you are saying.  But as for throwing it away, that was obviously wrong.  These Rings have a way of being found.  In evil hands it might have done great evil.  Worst of all, it might have fallen into the hands of the Enemy.  Indeed it certainly would;  for this is the One, and he is exerting all his power to find it or draw it to himself.
'Of course, my dear Frodo, it was dangerous for you;  and that has troubled me deeply.  But there was so much at stake that I had to take some risk - though even when I was far away there has never been a day when the Shire has not been guarded by watchful eyes.  As long as you never used it, I did not think that the Ring would have any lasting effect on you, not for evil, not at any rate for a very long time.  And you must remember that nine years ago, when I last saw you, I still knew little for certain.'
'But why not destroy it, as you say should have been done long ago?' cried Frodo again.  'If you had warned me, or even sent me a message, I would have done away with it.'
'Would you?  How would you do that?  Have you ever tried?

'No.  But I suppose one could hammer it or melt it.'

'Try!' said Gandalf.  'Try now!'


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