In Defence of Gollum
2. Appendix: The
In a dark crevice between two great piers of rock they sat down: Frodo and Sam a little way within, and Gollum crouched upon the ground near the opening. There the hobbits took what they expected would be their last meal before they went down into the Nameless Land, maybe the last meal they would ever eat together. Some of the food of Gondor they ate, and wafers of the waybread of the Elves. And they drank a little. But most of their water they were sparing and took only enough to moisten their dry mouths.
"I wonder when we'll find water again?" said Sam. "But I suppose even over there they drink? Orcs drink, don't they?"
"Yes, they drink," said Frodo. "But do not let us speak of that. Such drink is not for us."
"Then all the more need to fill our bottles," said Sam. "But there isn't any water up here: not a sound or a trickle have I heard. And anyway Faramir said we were not to drink any water in Morgul."
"No water flowing out of Imlad Morgul, were his words," said Frodo. "We are not in that valley now, and if we came on a spring it would be flowing into and not out of it."
"I wouldn't trust it," said Sam, "not till I was dying of thirst. There's a wicked feeling about this place." He sniffed. "And a smell, I fancy. Do you notice it? A queer kind of smell, stuffy. I don't like it."
"I don't like anything here at all," said Frodo, "step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid."
"Yes, that's so," said Sam. "And we shouldn't be here at all, if he'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they are exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually -- their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on -- and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same -- like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren't always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?"
"I wonder," said Frodo. "But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale. Take any one that you're fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to."
"No, sir, of course not. Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that's a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it -- and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We've got -- you've got some of the light of it in the star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?"
"No, they never end as tales," said Frodo. "But the people in them come, and go when their part's ended. Our part will end later -- or sooner."
"And then we can have some rest and some sleep," said Sam. He laughed grimly. "And I mean just that, Mr. Frodo. I mean plain ordinary rest, and sleep, and waking up to a morning's work in the garden. I'm afraid that's all I'm hoping for all the time. All the big important plans are not for my sort. Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We're in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: 'Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!' And they'll say: 'Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn't he, dad?' 'Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot.'"
"It's saying a lot too much," said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a laugh had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. "Why, Sam," he said, "to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you've left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stout-hearted. 'I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his talk, dad? That's what I like, it makes me laugh. And frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam, would he, dad?'"
"Now, Mr. Frodo," said Sam, "you shouldn't make fun. I was serious."
"So was I," said Frodo, "and so I am. We're going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"
"Maybe," said Sam, "but I wouldn't be one to say that. Things done and over and made into part of the great tales are different. Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale, better than he is to have by you, anyway. And he used to like tales himself once, by his own account. I wonder if he thinks he's the hero or the villain?
"Gollum!" he called. "Would you like to be the hero -- now where's he got to again?"
There was no sign of him at the mouth of their shelter nor in the shadows near. He had refused their food, though he had, as usual, accepted a mouthful of water; and then he had seemed to curl up for a sleep: They had supposed that one at any rate of his objects in his long absence the day before had been to hunt for food to his own liking; and now he had evidently slipped off again while they talked. But what for this time?
"I don't like his sneaking off without saying," said Sam. "And least of all now. He can't be looking for food up here, not unless there's some kind of rock he fancies. Why, there isn't even a bit of moss!"
"It's no good worrying about him now," said Frodo. "We couldn't have got so far, not even within sight of the pass, without him, and so we'll have to put up with his ways. If he's false, he's false."
"All the same, I'd rather have him under my eye," said Sam. "All the more so, if he's false. Do you remember he never would say if this pass was guarded or no? And now we see a tower there -- and it may be deserted, and it may not. Do you think he's gone to fetch them, Orcs or whatever they are?"
"No, I don't think so," answered Frodo. "Even if he's up to some wickedness, and I suppose that's not unlikely, I don't think it's that: not to fetch Orcs, or any servants of the Enemy. Why wait till now, and go through all the labour of the climb, and come so near the land he fears? He could probably have betrayed us to Orcs many times since we met him. No, if it's anything, it will be some little private trick of his own -- that he thinks is quite secret."
"Well, I suppose you're right, Mr. Frodo," said Sam. "Not that it comforts me mightily. I don't make no mistake: I don't doubt he'd hand me over to Orcs as gladly as kiss his hand. But I was forgetting -- his Precious. No, I suppose the whole time it's been The Precious for poor Sméagol. That's the one idea in all his little schemes, if he has any. But how bringing us up here will help him in that is more than I can guess."
"Very likely he can't guess himself," said Frodo. "And I don't think he's got just one plain scheme in his muddled head. I think he really is in part trying to save the Precious from the Enemy, as long as he can. For that would be the last disaster for himself too, if the Enemy got it. And in the other part, perhaps, he's just biding his time and waiting on chance."
"Yes, Slinker and Stinker, as I've said before," said Sam. "But the nearer they get to the Enemy's land the more like Stinker Slinker will get. Mark my words: if ever we get to the pass, he won't let us really take the precious thing over the border without making some kind of trouble."
"We haven't got there yet," said Frodo.
"No, but we'd better keep our eyes skinned till we do. If we're caught napping, Stinker will come out on top pretty quick. Not but what it would be safe for you to have a wink now, master. Safe, if you lay close to me. I'd be dearly glad to see you have a sleep. I'd keep watch over you; and anyway, if you lay near, with my arm round you, no one could come pawing you without your Sam knowing it."
"Sleep!" said Frodo and sighed, as if out of a desert he had seen a mirage of cool green. "Yes, even here I could sleep."
"Sleep, then, master! Lay your head in my lap."
And so Gollum found them hours later, when he returned, crawling and creeping down the path out of the gloom ahead. Sam sat propped against the stone, his head dropping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo's head, drowned deep in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master's breast. Peace was in both their faces.
Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shanking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee-- but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
But at that touch Frodo stirred and cried out softly in his sleep, and immediately Sam was wide awake. The first thing he saw was Gollum -- "pawing at master", as he thought.
"Hey you!" he said roughly. "What are you up to?"
"Nothing, nothing," said Gollum softly. "Nice Master!"
"I daresay," said Sam. "But where have you been to -- sneaking off and sneaking back, you old villain?"
Gollum withdrew himself, and a green glint flickered under his heavy lids. Almost spider-like he looked now, crouched back on his bent limbs, with his protruding eyes. The fleeting moment had passed, beyond recall. "Sneaking, sneaking!" he hissed. "Hobbits always so polite, yes. O nice hobbits! Sméagol brings them up secret ways that nobody else could find. Tired he is, thirsty he is, yes thirsty; and he guides them and he searches for paths, and they say sneak, sneak. Very nice friends, O yes my precious, very nice."
Sam felt a bit remorseful, though not more trustful. "Sorry," he said. "I'm sorry, but you startled me out of my sleep. And I shouldn't have been sleeping, and that made me a bit sharp. But Mr. Frodo, he's that tired, I asked him to have a wink; and well, that's how it is. Sorry. But where have you been to?"
"Sneaking," said Gollum, and the green glint did not leave his eyes.
"O very well," said Sam, "have it your own way! I don't suppose it's so far from the truth. And now we'd better all be sneaking along together. What's the time? Is it today or tomorrow?"
"It's tomorrow," said Gollum, "or this was tomorrow when hobbits went to sleep. Very foolish, very dangerous -- if poor Sméagol wasn't sneaking about to watch."
The parallel scenes from the movies, courtesy of StupidRing.com.
(Gollum crawls past, followed by Frodo and Sam. They walk through a forest in Ithilien and Osgiliath is visible below in the distance.)
Sam: I wonder if we'll ever be put into songs or tales?
Frodo: (Turning to Sam.) What?
Sam: I wonder if people will ever say, "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring", and they'll say, "Yes, it's one of my favorite stories!" "Frodo was really courageous, wasn't he Dad." "Yes, my boy, the most famousests of hobbits, and that's sayin' a lot. "
Frodo: (Smiling.) You've left out one of the chief characters... Samwise the Brave! "I want to hear more about Sam." (Frodo stops and turns to Sam.) "Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam."
Sam: Now Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun. I was bein' serious.
Frodo: So was I. (Frodo walks on.)
Sam: (Hitches up his pack again.) Samwise the Brave. Hm.
(Frodo smiles again.)
Sam: We're not goin' to wait for you. Come on.
[The hobbits and Gollum are, perched on rocks just off the stair. Frodo is sleeping. Sam struggles to stay awake but fails. When his eyes close, Gollum's open. Gollum sneaks down and takes the lembas from Sam's pack.]
[Gollum crumbles some of the lembas and lets it fall onto Sam. He throws the rest off the cliff face. Sam awakes just as he's dusting crumbs off his hands.]
Sam: What are you up to? Sneaking off, are we?
Gollum: S-sneaking? Sneaking! Fat hobbit is always so polite Smeagol shows them secret ways that nobody else could find, and they say sneak. Sneak? Very nice friend, oh yes my precious, very nice!
[Sam puts on his sword belt.]
Sam: Alright! Alright! You just startled me is all. What were you doing?
Sam. Fine. Have it your own way.
[Sam wakes Frodo]
Sam: Sorry to wake you Mister Frodo. We have to be moving on.
Frodo: It's dark still.
Sam: It's always dark here.
[Sam checks his pack.]
Sam: It's gone! The elven bread!
Frodo: What? That's all we had left.
Sam: [points at Gollum] He took it, he must have.
Gollum: Smeagol? No, no, not poor Smeagol. Smeagol hates nasty Elf bread.
Sam: You're a lying rat! What did you do with it?
Frodo: He doesn't eat it, he can't have taken it.
[Gollum reaches toward Sam.]
Gollum: Look. What's this? Crumbs on his jacketses. [He brushes them off.] He took it! He took it! I've seen him. He's always stuffing his face when Master is not looking.
Sam: That's a filthy lie!
[Sam attacks Gollum and begins punching him.]
Sam: You stinking, two-faced sneak!
Sam: Call me-
Frodo: Stop it! Sam! [He pulls Sam away.]
Sam: I'll kill him!
Frodo: Sam, no!
Sam: Oh my-- I'm sorry! I didn't mean it to go so far. I was just so... so angry. Here, just... let's just rest a bit.
Frodo: I'm all right.
Sam: No, you're not all right. You're exhausted. It's that Gollum, this place. It's that... thing around your neck.
[Frodo looks at him suspiciously.]
Sam: I could help a bit. I could carry it for a while. Share the load. [His words echo.]
Frodo: Get away!
Sam: I don't want to keep it. I just want to help.
Smeagol: See? See? He wants it for himself.
Sam: Shut up you! Go away, get out of here!
Frodo: No Sam, it's you. I'm sorry Sam.
Sam: [crying] But he's a liar! He's poisoned you against me!
Frodo: You can't help me anymore.
Sam: You don't mean that.
Frodo: Go home.
[Sam crouches and weeps. Frodo and Gollum climb the stairs and leave him behind.]
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