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Recaptured!: 76. Gollum and Co
'can see thing, pip?'
‘small like hobb’t – crawly like spide!’
'think it frodosam’s goll-gum?'
‘think that is be goll-gum’
'can hear he'
'not 'fraid he…i smack at he… scare he ‘way!'
Merry was suddenly pushed up against the wall and abandoned by Pippin. He drew Grutfley's knife and pulled the shield up into a defensive posture.
"Oh comes at us with a sword does it?” The miserable voice whined, “Poor Sméagol got no nassty blades, no stickeses - nothing!"
"Gollum!" Merry called out. "Pippin won't hurt you, but he can't hear what you say."
"Tricksy hobbitses!" Gollum was a vague shape in the gloom, Pippin could only just make him out, although Merry could hear him perfectly well, the creature seemed to be talking to himself. "Sneaked off and left poor Sméagol they did. Now She's hurt and tries to eat us, She did, because the tasty treat I brought got away."
"What do you mean?" Merry could half guess he might be talking about the giant spider Sam had warned them of. "Who tried to eat you?"
Gollum circled around Pippin, edging into the wall, Pippin backed up a little, putting himself between the creeping shape and Merry.
'what it do pip?'
'come near wall…'
"These hobbitses come with Sméagol. We show them nice way to go," Gollum's voice was getting nearer. "Find master, then he give back the Precious when we bring the lost hobbitses to him."
"We're not lost Gollum." Merry did not want to say where Frodo and Sam were, but he also did not want to appear to be at this strange creature's mercy. "We're going a different way that's all."
There was a sudden flurry of movement, Merry felt a cold bony hand grab his neck and almost immediately it was wrenched away and there was a thump and a squeal followed by a pitiful sobbing. "Oww! bad, cruel hobbit. Whack poor Sméagol, only being a help to little hobbit. You cruel like wicked Samwise, calls us a sneak, calls us slinker. Sméagol only being nice to good master. Oww, poor Sméagol, poor Precious."
'you smack he pip?'
'did! he grab you at neck…'
"We don't want to fight with you Gollum." Merry thought it was a good moment to call a truce, while the creature was hurt. "Now you leave us alone and we won't hurt you."
"Not hurts us, they won't! Funny hobbitses we think these are. Oh yes. One talks and one whacks at us, one can't hear he says and it doesn't talkses neither, doesn't say a word, just whacks at us and hurts us."
"I told you, Pippin can't hear and he can't speak." Merry did not want Gollum to get the wrong idea about his little cousin; maybe taking offence at Pip's silence. "But he can whack you again if you don't behave."
"And what about the other hobbit, my Precious." Gollum's voice was moving closer again. "Why does it stand by the wall and look at nothing? Can it see? We don't think so."
"It's dark." Merry was guessing, but it seemed likely in the enclosed smelly space.
"Not so dark my Precious, we think it wants to see and it can't. We think it gets very lost. One can't hear and one can't see. Poor hobbitses going to need clever Sméagol to help them. Oh we're very good at helping hobbitses, aren't we my Precious?"
Merry felt Pippin directly in front of him, shielding him from the creature.
'pip? if he take us… not go at frodosam…'
'where he take us though? go at big spides think…'
'…thinks too, but keep he 'way frodosam…'
'…best do then… i watch…watch… watch he…'
'good do pip…let he come at i now…'
"All right, Gollum, you show us the way if you want to help." Merry put away his knife and felt for Pip's hand, but Pippin was clutching the shield in one and his sword in the other. He caught hold of his cousin's coat instead. "Show Pip the way and I'll follow him."
"Sméagol help the poor blind hobbit, hold its hand." Merry felt the stink of fishy breath near him now. "or doesn't it trust Sméagol, good, kind Sméagol, my Precious."
"I've only just met you Sméagol," Merry thought using the creature's own name for himself might seem more friendly, "how do I know that I can trust you?"
"Oh it doesn't trust us at all. Thinks we're going to take it the wrong way." Sméagol took Merry's hand from Pippin's coat and held it tightly. "Have to trusts us it does. Poor hobbit can't see, Sméagol take good care of it. Other hobbit will have to follow. Not get close to Sméagol in case he whacks us again!"
Gollum quickly pulled Merry away from the wall and along the tunnel as Pippin fell in behind, feeling very anxious at this turn of events.
Of course they were right not to trust this warped creature and they had half guessed his plan, to lead them into the giant spider. But Sméagol was not so certain of the plan after Frodo had escaped the lair and then the evil, vicious Samwise had stabbed Her. She was angry now with Sméagol and he had to placate Her. These two new hobbits might serve, but the one with the sword could fight back. All he needed to do was to get rid of the smaller one and bring Her Ladyship the blind one. He would make a good morsel and a blind, helpless hobbit would be easy prey, even in Her present state.
Pippin was having difficulty keeping up and starting to feel rather panicked. The sword and shield were bulky and balance was a problem in the dark with the uneven surface underfoot. Gollum had dragged Merry along at an unexpectedly fast pace and the two were now rounding a corner. He sent a quick shout.
'merr! wait i…'
This was all happening too quickly for both the hobbits' liking. Merry pulled back a little, trying to feel for Pippin following and as soon as he heard the shout he dug his heels in. "Wait Sméagol, where’s Pip? We must wait for him."
"He comes, wait here for him little blind hobbit," Sméagol had seen his chance. The tunnel had started to honeycomb at this point and Gollum pushed Merry into a side tunnel, turning him as he did so. The hobbit was now completely disorientated but felt for the wall and stood still waiting for Pippin to catch up whilst trying to regain his bearings.
'pip i not move now… you come soon at i…'
'come round corn-rer merr not see you!'
Pippin raced on round the next corner missing the side tunnel in the dark. Sméagol, grinning in triumph, pulled Merry and started to retrace their steps as soon as Pippin was out of sight around the next bend. "Come quick little hobbit, your friend comes now. We have to hurry."
'merr! merr where you? i not see you! merr!'
'pip not know goll-gum make go fast now… get scare… i stop he.'
"Where is Pippin?" Merry pulled up and refused to move any further. "I'm not moving until you find him."
Sméagol pulled on his hand urgently. "Come little hobbit, it's not safe for you to wait here. Sméagol take you sssafe place, you can hide be sssafe."
"I don't want to hide." Merry was adamant. "I want to find Pippin."
"Oh it wants its nassty friend with the cruel steel to come and whack poor Sméagol again, does it?" Gollum saw that Merry was reaching for his own knife now and quickly caught his hand tightly in his skeletal like fist and pulled the knife free, throwing it away with a clatter. "We don't need that nassty cold ssteel to hurt poor Sméagol."
"Where are we?" Merry was getting angry now as well as frightened. "What are you playing at Sméagol?"
"Oh hobbitses always so high and mighty, so clevvver! Sméagol clevvver too." The creature stuck his face close to Merry now and the stink of his breath almost made the hobbit vomit. "Your nassty little friend with the sword has gone the wrong way. He iss running on ahead and we went back!"
"Why you…" Merry was outraged at Gollum's open admission of treachery.
"Nassty hobbit can't hear, so this hobbit can't call him. Make it too easy for clevvver Sméagol. This hobbit can't see, so can't find hisss friend." The creature was delighted with his trickery. "This hobbit have to stay with Sméagol now, be hisss friend instead."
'pip… stop run… we go back… turnded round we…'
'merr? i go past you?'
'did… think… turn round come back… look i 'gain…'
"Just take me on the right path, please Sméagol." Merry did not really expect any co-operation, he was just playing for time.
"Hold hands little blind hobbit," Gollum's voice sounded placating now. "Sméagol will take you the right way."
He took Merry by the hand again and led him forward.
'pip… we move more'
'find you soon merr…'
The hobbit walked as slowly as he could, stumbling or stopping every so often. Still Pippin had not caught up.
'still look you merr…'
Eventually, as they turned a corner Gollum slowed down, the smell grew more foetid and Merry heard a foul squelching, bubbling sound as if a large sack of rotting pig swill was being hefted around. The sense of evil was overwhelming and Merry gave a tiny mental whisper.
'pip… hurr-up… please…'
'merr can't find you!… tell i things!'
'is verra baddest smell heres… is like pig house in hot sun…'
They had stopped moving and Gollum let go of his hand moving away from him. Merry felt for the wall and, finding it, backed away. He stepped in something that crunched and then squelched beneath his feet, emitting a disgusting stench. He could not find the way out although he kept moving along the wall feeling frantically for a gap in the stone.
Gollum was whispering now, but not to him, Merry could only just make out what he was saying. "…iss blind, can't run, can't fight… is good meat… young tender hobbitses…"
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