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Things of Middle-earth


Type: Miscellaneous


Especially strong and light rope made by the Galadhrim; given as gifts to the Fellowship before they left Lórien:
Out of the shadows a ladder was let down: it was made of rope, silver-grey and glimmering in the dark, and though it looked slender it proved strong enough to bear many men.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 6, Lothlórien

Three small grey boats had been made ready for the travellers, and in these the Elves stowed their goods. And they added also coils of rope, three to each boat. Slender they looked, but strong, silken to the touch, grey of hue like the elven-cloaks.

'What are these?' asked Sam, handling one that lay upon the greensward.

'Ropes indeed!' answered an Elf from the boats. 'Never travel far without a rope! And one that is long and strong and light. Such are these. They may be a help in many needs.'

'You don't need to tell me that!' said Sam. 'I came without any and I've been worried ever since. But I was wondering what these were made of, knowing a bit about rope-making: it's in the family as you might say.'

'They are made of hithlain,' said the Elf, 'but there is no time now to instruct you in the art of their making. Had we known that this craft delighted you, we could have taught you much. But now alas! unless you should at some time return hither, you must be content with our gift. May it serve you well!'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien

Quickly Sam unslung his pack and rummaged in it. There indeed at the bottom was a coil of the silken-grey rope made by the folk of Lórien. He cast an end to his master. The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 1, The Taming of Sméagol

'It's good to be able to see again,' said Frodo, breathing deep.... 'I could see nothing, nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer somehow.'

'It does look sort of silver in the dark,' said Sam.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 1, The Taming of Sméagol

'Maybe you remember them putting the ropes in the boats.... I took a fancy to it, and I stowed a coil in my pack.'....

'How long is your rope, I wonder?'

Sam paid it out slowly, measuring it with his arms: 'Five, ten, twenty, thirty ells, more or less,' he said.

'Who'd have thought it!' Frodo exclaimed.

'Ah! Who would?' said Sam.... 'It looks a bit thin, but it's tough; and soft as milk to the hand. Packs close too, and as light as light.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 1, The Taming of Sméagol

'Well!' [Frodo] cried.... 'We've escaped from the Emyn Muil!'....

But Sam did not answer: he was staring back up the cliff.... 'My beautiful rope! There it is tied to a stump, and we're at the bottom. Just as nice a little stair for that slinking Gollum as we could leave.'....

'... I don't like leaving it, and that's a fact.' He stroked the rope's end and shook it gently. 'It goes hard parting with anything I brought out of the Elf-country. Made by Galadriel herself, too, maybe. Galadriel,' he murmured.... He looked up and gave one last pull to the rope as if in farewell.

To the complete surprise of both the hobbits it came loose. Sam fell over, and the long grey coils slithered silently down on top of him. Frodo laughed. 'Who tied the rope?' he said. 'A good thing it held as long as it did! To think that I trusted all my weight to your knot!'

Sam did not laugh. 'I may not be much good at climbing, Mr. Frodo,' he said in injured tones, 'but I do know something about rope and about knots. It's in the family, as you might say. Why, my grand-dad, and my uncle Andy after him, him that was the Gaffer's eldest brother he had a rope-walk 1 over by Tighfield many a year. And I put as fast a hitch over the stump as any one could have done, in the Shire or out of it.'

'Then the rope must have broken — frayed on the rock-edge, I expect,' said Frodo.

'I bet it didn't!' said Sam in an even more injured voice. He stooped and examined the ends. 'Nor it hasn't neither. Not a strand!'

'Then I'm afraid it must have been the knot,' said Frodo.

Sam shook his head.... He was passing the rope through his fingers thoughtfully. 'Have it your own way, Mr. Frodo,' he said at last, 'but I think the rope came off itself — when I called.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 1, The Taming of Sméagol

1For information about rope-walks, including pictures, see the etymology for Tighfield here.

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 11Aug06, 14Mar10

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