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Timeline Event

Gandalf exposes Gríma Wormtongue as Saruman's agent

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: March 2, 3019


An event in the prelude to the Battle of the Hornburg; see that entry for an overview:
At that moment Háma came again.... Behind him cringing between two other men, came Gríma the Wormtongue. His face was very white. His eyes blinked in the sunlight. Háma knelt and presented to Théoden a long sword in a scabbard clasped with gold and set with green gems. 'Here, lord, is Herugrim...,' he said. 'It was found in his chest. Loth was he to render up the keys. Many other things are there which men have missed.'

'You lie,' said Wormtongue. 'And this sword your master himself gave into my keeping.'

'And he now requires it of you again,' said Théoden. 'Does that displease you?'

'Assuredly not, lord,' said Wormtongue. 'I care for you and yours as best I may. But do not weary yourself.... Let others deal with these irksome guests. Your meat is about to be set on the board. Will you not go to it?'

'I will,' said Théoden. 'And let food for my guests be set on the board beside me. The host rides today. Send the heralds forth! Let them summon all who dwell nigh!'...

'Dear lord!' cried Wormtongue. 'It is as I feared. This wizard has bewitched you. Are none to be left to defend the Golden Hall of your fathers, and all your treasure?'...

'If this is bewitchment,' said Théoden, 'it seems to me more wholesome than your whisperings. Your leechcraft ere long would have had me walking on all fours like a beast. No, not one shall be left, not even Gríma.... Go! You have yet time to clean the rust from your sword.'

'Mercy, lord!' whined Wormtongue, grovelling on the ground. 'Have pity on one worn out in your service.... Do not send your faithful Gríma away!'

'You have my pity,' said Théoden. 'And I do not send you from my side. I go myself to war.... I bid you come with me and prove your faith.'

Wormtongue looked from face to face. In his eyes was the hunted look of a beast seeking some gap in the ring of his enemies.... 'Such a resolve might be expected from a lord of the House of Eorl, old though he be,' he said. 'But those who truly love him would spare his failing years. Yet I see that I come too late. Others... have already persuaded him.... hear me at least in this, lord! One who knows your mind and honours your commands should be left in Edoras. Appoint a faithful steward. Let your counsellor Gríma keep all things till your return — and I pray that we may see it, though no wise man will deem it hopeful.'

Éomer laughed. 'And if that plea does not excuse you from war, most noble Wormtongue,' he said, what office of less honour would you accept? To carry a sack of meal up into the mountains...?'

'Nay, Éomer, you do not fully understand the mind of Master Wormtongue,' said Gandalf, turning his piercing glance upon him. 'He is bold and cunning. Even now he plays a game with peril and wins a throw. Hours of my precious time he has wasted already. 'Down snake!' he said suddenly in a terrible voice. 'Down on your belly! How long is it since Saruman bought you? What was the promised price? When all the men were dead, you were to pick your share of the treasure, and take the woman you desire? Too long have you watched her under your eyelids and haunted her steps.'

Éomer grasped his sword... but Gandalf stayed him with his hand.

'Éowyn is safe now,' he said. 'But you, Wormtongue, you have done what you could for your true master. Some reward you have earned at least. Yet Saruman is apt to overlook his bargains. I should advise you to go quickly and remind him, lest he forget your faithful service.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 6, The King of the Golden Hall

Elena Tiriel 17Jan05

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