Another Night at “The Pony”
Untold Tale Number 1 from the Mayor’s “Green Book”
When Mrs. Fredegar Bolger suggested to her husband that he ride out to Bree for an evening, she did not realize that his absence would become an almost monthly occurrence. Fredegar, or ‘Fatty’ as he was still known, had spent a good deal of the three years subsequent to the return of Frodo Baggins and his companions kicking himself for his timidity. The many adventures related by Pippin Took and, especially, Merry Brandybuck left Fatty in a most conflicted state. Had he gone with them he might never have met his wife, the former Lila Maggot. At the same time he felt himself a most inadequate, even boring husband.
“But I like you to be at home,” Lila insisted.
“I’ve missed so much, though,” Fatty would moan.
Eventually Lila, whose wisdom surpassed even that of her estimable father, encouraged Fatty to take a holiday. “Why don’t you go out to Bree for a few days? That’s where Mr. Frodo and all got started with their adventuring. But don’t you go no farther than that.”
It was not at Bree, in fact, where the adventures of the Ringbearer and his friends began. Fatty had been introduced to the wilds and wonders of the Old Forest by old Farmer Maggot. This happened shortly after Fatty met Lila and commenced a serious courtship with her.
“Son, you got to know a few things and sometimes you got to leave home to find them out. Come along – we’re goin’ on a trip.” With that Farmer Maggot summoned Fatty on the first of many walks through the Old Forest. This became a pivotal point in his life. It was the Old Forest, its reputation and its mystery, which had terrified Fatty so much that he refused to accompany Frodo on his quest. And, too, it was the Old Forest, in its secrets and strangeness, which awakened Fatty’s desire for adventures of his own.
Those wanderings in the Old Forest, coupled with his experiences leading a band of rebels against the tyranny of foolishness under Lotho Sackville-Baggins, convinced Fatty of his own ability. Soon he was going off to the Forest alone and even spent a night beyond the Hedge. A happy bachelor growing in confidence, Fatty quickly grew to be judged a hobbit of worth by his peers. Few knew of his visits to the Forest, else the general opinion of him would have been much reduced.
Certainly nothing could have affected Lila Maggot’s opinion of her beau. She was much too sensible to be smitten with anything resembling ‘love at first sight’, but she knew immediately a good hobbit when she saw him. Fatty impressed her instantly.
Once the Shire had been scoured of rogues and the ravages ordered by Saruman Sharkey, the Travellers set about reestablishing themselves. Merry and Pippin invited Fatty to Crickhollow to convalesce from his ordeal in the Michel Delving lockholes. He accepted the invitation.
Not long after, when health and vigor returned, he accepted another invitation. Farmer Maggot was having a party for the returned Travellers. As members of the original conspiracy of the Ring, Folco Boffin and Fatty were asked as well. There Fatty and Lila met. Within the year they were betrothed.
Theirs was a long courtship. Fatty lived with Merry and Pippin fully five years. After that the two Travellers returned to their respective family seats, where in time they took up the headships of their venerable clans. The house at Crickhollow, the site of Fatty’s first brush with adventure, became his property. It took a few more years, several conversations with Farmer Maggot, and a variety of adventures in the Old Forest before Fatty deemed himself ready for marriage. Lila, prepared for some time for this eventuality, came to Crickhollow full of joy and hope.
Lila saw that her husband needed what her father called ‘a-get-going-kick-in-the-pants.’ “Go and visit Bree. It’ll do you good and get your mooning out of my hair. What was the name of the place Sam Gamgee likes the beer so much at? Go there.”
It was a sweet place. The sign of The Prancing Pony (by Barliman Butterbur) swung gaily in a brisk autumn wind sharp with the promise of a morning frost on the morrow. Cozy inside nigh on fifty faces smiled at the knowledge that the night was growing wild and they had friends and fire with which to savor the weather and ward its ills. The Pony had warmth to share, an aroma of fellowship, a taste of comradely delight, heady and dear, from the froth to the dregs of tall pints.
Fredegar was surrounded by a mass of curiosity. He had just arrived from the Shire and the Bree hobbits were hungry for news or a song from “outside”. Commerce between the Shire and Bree was a thriving venture since the King had returned to his throne, yet visitors twixt the hobbit settlements remained a rarity and a welcome surprise. Hobbits just don’t vacation much.
“What brings you to Bree, Mr. Bolger?” a happy, simple face (Fatty thought it belonged to a Bower in on business from Archet – introductions had been fast and furious) beamed an expectant grin reflected on the circle of hobbit faces around the newcomer’s table.
“Well,” said Fatty, puffing thoughtfully on his pipe, “this for one!” The crowd laughed their approval as he raised his pint in salute to Butterbur walking – nay, flying past. Fatty drained the mug in one deep draught.
Butterbur paused in his breathless motion for a moment. “You don’t say, Mr. Bolger, or Mr. Fatty, if you please.”
“I do say!” said Fatty.
“I can’t say but that my ale has been more than a seven-year wonder since ol’ Mr. Gandalf put a good word on it back before the King took up kinging again, if you take my meaning.” Butterbur was a picture of pride. “Why, did you know that the King is none other but that rascal of a Ranger Strider who came into The Pony none too seldom? Sat right in yon corner like he owned it. I daresay he does now,” Butterbur ended with a laugh.
“Barliman! I’m dying of thirst over here!” a jovial man across the common room howled in mock agony.
“Oh, dear. But I don’t know how I’m to do all I do with just one of me to be doing it. Coming, sir! Coming!” Butterbur vanished in a haze of anxious distress and apologies. Fatty and his tablemates went limp laughing at his retreat.
“If you don’t mind my asking,” asked a hobbit just to Fatty’s right, “how came a slim young hobbit like yaself by the name of ‘Fatty’?” The other hobbits in the vicinity murmured disapproval at such a direct question, leaning all the closer to Fatty to hear his answer.
Fatty chuckled loudly. “Well, sir, I think that’s a two-pint story and my first pint’s gone already. Anyone here curious enough to do me the favor of wetting my whistle and loosening my tongue?” Within two minutes a fresh round appeared, not only for Fatty, but for the whole table.
All around the room voices droned in a melodious flow punctuated by frequent peals of laughter. Fatty sat silent for a moment at his table. Something in his eye, or maybe how he tapped his pipe, or perhaps it was the deep sigh he let out – something draped a pall on everyone within earshot. The young Shire hobbit had caused an island of somberness to congeal within the Pony’s sea of mirth.
“We had trouble with a wizard not too long ago in the Shire,” Fatty began simply. Knowing glances were exchanged across the table. What Saruman had done with Lotho Sackville-Baggins was known in Bree. So far, however, few of the Bree-folk had heard a firsthand account of the troubles.
“It all began with Mr. Frodo Baggins and his friends setting out for points unknown. I was left behind to see after his affairs, you see. To tell you the truth, I didn’t half believe half of what they said it was all about.”
A hobbit named Mugwort broke in, “What’s this we heard of magic rings and talking trees and mines of golden silver and –“
“And oliphaunts!” a wide-eyed little red-faced hobbit named Sammy Sandheaver exclaimed.
“All true, as it turned out,” Fatty went on. “But I have to say that, at first, I thought Frodo and them all had gone off their rocker.”
“You knew that Baggins fella, sonny?” an older hobbit asked incredulously.
“Both Mr. Bilbo and dear Frodo, I did.”
“I was here that night, the night he vanished into thin air. Called himself ‘Underhill’, he did. That’s my name. Thought he might’ve been long lost kin from the Shire.” Curious eyes shot over his way and necks craned towards Fatty’s table. The common room was beginning to quiet down.
“How did he do it?” the older hobbit wanted to know.
For a long moment Fatty said nothing. Then he whispered, “The Ring!”
Fatty took another slow pull on his pint. “It’s hard to tell one of these tales without there being another half dozen dragged in. I said that we had troubles with a wizard and that Ring. Well, ol’ Sharkey wasn’t the first wizard to get into trouble on account of that Ring, but he had a thing or two to do with it.
“I don’t think any of you ever heard tell of Radagast before, have you?”
There was a general shaking of heads.
“Radagast was a wizard, a friend of Gandalf’s – I’m sure you all know of Gandalf. Radagast it was who told Gandalf about all the trouble brewing away east and south and how out of Mordor evil things was on their way.
“By now everybody knows how it all turned out. The Dark Lord was killed and the King came home and Barliman’s back in business.” General laughter accompanied this last remark.
“What a lot of folk have never heard is what became of Radagast. ‘course ol’ Saruman got his up at what used to be Bagshot Row – they call it Sharkey’s End up there now. My good friend Sam Gamgee owns all that property used to be Mr. Bilbo’s and then Mr. Frodo’s.”
“You’ve been up in that treasure hill before?” asked a man that Fatty thought was from Staddle.
“Many, many times, yes sir. Back when Mr. Bilbo was still there and then later when Mr. Frodo inherited it all.”
“There sure is a mound of dragon’s gold and dwarve’s hoard up in Hobbiton from what folks say,” Mr. Mugwort reminded everyone of what they already knew.
“They’ve been saying that for years. All I can say is that in all the time I’ve been visiting up there, I ain’t seen nothing of the sort. Just good friends and good sense is all.
“But anyway, that’s where Sharkey bought it, so to speak. Radagast it seems ended different. He was put up to telling Gandalf the tale that got Gandalf to go down to Isengard and get captured by Saruman for a time. Everything came out all right for Gandalf, but it was just the beginning of trouble for Radagast.
“Once the War was over and things started settling down the King sent his friends the eagles far and wide to tell the tidings and get folks ready for when the King himself would come. This great bird named Gwaihir was the chief of the eagles. He it was that Bilbo himself had met before anyone knew what the Ring was. And Mr. Frodo was saved from all the explosions at Mt. Doom when Gandalf flew there with Gwaihir when they won the War by throwing the Ring into the Fire.
“So Gwaihir was flying about doing the King’s bidding when he saw afar off this lonely figure walking between the River and Mirkwood that they calls the Wood of Greenleaves now. Eagles have just amazing eyes. They can pick out a hare from a rabbit at five leagues they say. Well, Gwaihir saw from way up in the sky that it was Radagst wandering down below.
“He makes these long graceful circles down the winds ‘til he lands next to Radagast. ‘Radagast, my friend,’ he says. Radagast was a true friend to all birds and beasts and spoke their tongues. ‘Where have you been all this time? These many months no one has had word of you and mighty things are afoot. How goes it with you?’
“’Not well, not well,’ Radagast says back. ‘I would rather that you had not found me and had left me to finish the woeful tale of my days in obscurity. Now I fear you will wish to hear my story and thence shall go tell all the world of the misery and failure of Radagast the Brown. Would that none had ever heard the name.’
“’But Radagast, friend of friends, you are one of the Wise. Would you deprive Middle Earth of your skill and lore? You should know that Gandalf has asked me many times where you might be and if any of my race have come upon you. I would like to tell him of your health, not of your sorrow.’
“’But there is naught but sorrow left to me, and of health only ill.’”
“’Do you ail, friend? Shall I find a healer for you?’
“’Nay, nay. What ails me can not be healed by any lore of Middle Earth. The illness of which I speak is not of the body – would that it were. Mayhaps then death could find a cure for me. But that I know is but a cheat despair wants to convince me of.’
‘”Then what is your complaint? What can be so terrible as to cause such hopelessness in one so great?’
“’If you truly wish to know –
“’Indeed I do.’
“’Then let us find a place where we can be somewhat at ease. It is a lengthy woe I have to tell. We are not far from Beorn’s Carrock. Let us keep our peace until we come upon it.’
“’My friend, you forget with whom you speak. Mount my back and we shall swiftly be at a place to your liking for the telling of your tale.’
“’Why, yes. It is you, my friend Gwaihir the swift and loyal. I am become enfeebled in so many ways of late. Of course, if you will be so kind I will mount you.’
“With that Gwaihir bore Radagast aloft into the highways of the air and in a short time they were at the massive hill of stone called the Carrock.”
By now the entire crowd was hushed. Even Butterbur was tiptoeing about filling mugs without so much as a “You don’t say!” Fatty had the attention of every table in the smoke-filled common room. As he went on with the story he rose and began to walk about.
“’It was a ferocious night of storm,’ Radagast began telling Gwaihir. ‘I was at Rhosgobel, the only place I’ve ever called home in Middle Earth. Long had I dwelt there in peace. Ever it had been my delight to learn the lore of wood and beast. Of course, I ventured at times to assist the Wise at the Council in our efforts to forestall the machinations of the Dark Lord. But I never really took much interest in the plots and schemes of those called great. Of much greater moment did I consider the affairs of which the earth herself spoke: of spawning and growth and quiet death burgeoning in a new spring.
“’Alas! I was not to be left to such joys in the end. You, my friend, must know what I mean. At Rhosgobel I had such wealth of comforts. My house was itself but a simple woodman’s cottage, but the place I thought my home was indeed a wonder. There was the stream without a name which bubbled from a spring whose source must be hidden in the Misty Mountains, fed by countless ages of snow and rain – the very marriage of winter to spring. This stream flowed within thirty paces of my house. It watered my garden and drew deer, larks, and even wolves at times for refreshment.
“’The trees of that land were a marvel to behold. Ages past, I know, the Entwives had brought them from orchards far away. Each night they sang laments for their mothers gone they knew not where. So dear they were to me, those lullabies that brought rest and dreams at the end of my every day. Do you know that there are no words sufficient to give them names in our tongue? The Entwives bespoke them secrets, names to which alone they will answer. Though they could hear and answer me, they would laugh gently as they told me what they knew I could never fathom. Beech and ash and sloe and oak and lovely willow – such I tried to call them and had to laugh at myself for such paucity of speech.
“’But do not mistake me. Far from being frustrated by the mystery of these friends of mine, I grew to love them all the more. My one desire has ever been to know who and whose they are. I learned of the birds and beasts of this wood all that I could – their languages and habits, their loves and fears – in the hope that perhaps they could cipher this living puzzle that surrounded me. Ah, but they were as enthralled and bewildered as I. All that we could do was to become just that much more enchanted. Willing slaves we were.
“’But all of that is past. A tempest blew about my house on a night during the spring of the last year before the overthrow of the Dark Lord. I sat alone contemplating the song of the wood in fear of lightning when I became aware that someone approached. Few knew the way to Rhosgobel and it was rare for them to arrive without sending word first. I wondered greatly that any could find his way to me unbidden, and even more that he would come on such a night as that.
“’I waited anxiously for the several minutes I knew it would take ere the visitor would make himself known at my door. It was not fear but a dark doubt that filled my heart during that interval between my awareness of an unknown presence and the rap at the door it would bring. Somehow I was certain that all would be different for me thenceforward. Not death as such, but the death of all that I had come to expect in life was upon me.
“’It was a man. His appearance was strange, though. There was something vaguely disturbing about his countenance which I could not quite place. He wore the livery of a knight of Rohan with the exception that at his breast he wore a badge with the token of a white hand opened palm outward. I had not seen such before.
“’This man named himself one Grima, counselor of Theoden King of Rohan and friend of Saruman the White. I welcomed him and gave him to drink and eat to fend off the wickedness of the night. It was not long before he stated the cause for his journey to me. Saruman, he told me, had need of me in Isengard. There was an urgency of which it could not be spoken until I came to Orthanc itself. Grima was to be my guard and guide, Saruman knowing that I have never been one wont to travel.
“’Convinced by Grima’s words of the gravity of Saruman’s need, I set out for Isengard the very next day. A black day which I shall rue as long as I am cursed to walk this Middle Earth, for it was the last day I ever have seen my beloved Rhosgobel.’”
Fatty paused in his meandering through the room. He stood before the large hearth with its mighty blaze. Staring at the leaping flames he drank from his mug. Even Butterbur had ceased his shuffling among the tables, sitting in a corner and giving Fatty his full attention. While Fatty gazed into the fire no one spoke. The only motion was that of a few mugs lifted to lips. Most of the eyes in the room were not on Fatty but were turned downward or looking about without sight of their surroundings or closed. Every thought was bent toward Rhosgobel, trying to imagine its beauty, wondering how its loss might feel.
“Gwaihir listened to Radagast with more interest than he had intended when he bore the wizard to the Carrock. Gwaihir was not of a people easily moved to pity. The pathos of Radagast’s description of his lost home, however, caused a reverberation in the heart of the great eagle. He hearkened in memory to the tales he had heard as an eaglet of Thorondor, his magnificent grandsire of old, and the aeries of the eagles of Manwe the Blessed upon Taniquetil the Everwhite. Gwaihir wept in spirit with a new understanding of what Radagast had endured. Gwaihir and his race were exiles as well, and Middle Earth was but the place where they nurtured hope; Valinor was ever the home of their ancient desire.
“’Saruman told me of War in Gondor,’ Radagast continued, ‘and of spent valor in Rohan. Tidings of dread, to be sure, but as naught compared to what he revealed as his primary motivation for summoning me to Orthanc. The Nazgul were about, in secret as yet, but surely a portent of the unleashing of more horrible terror to come at the command of their fell master.
“’Few remember, Gwaihir my friend, the evil which are the Ringwraiths. I endeavored to assist Arvedui in his war against the Witch-king, the chief of the Nazgul. I knew firsthand of their might and their hatred for all things that walk free under the sun. They are insatiable in their thirst for living blood, and yet unquenched is their loathing of life. I had been assailed by their spells and survived, but the memory was black. The fear does not lessen with the years, the centuries beneath sun and moon.
“’Saruman desired me to be his messenger to Gandalf to alert him to the peril at hand. Time had come for us to unite our efforts and to attempt to deal the Black Hand a mortal blow before he conquered utterly. I was given to believe that while I searched for Gandalf in some distant, uncouth land, Saruman would be preparing the means by which we would strike Sauron.
“’Foolishness! Why did I not see that I am not the one for such quests? It is against my nature. Had I paid more heed to my heart, perhaps much anguish would have been spared me. As it is I am all but destroyed.’
“Radagast sighed. ’I found Gandalf and he sought out Saruman. Great was the vision of Gandalf and great was the fall of Sauron – and Saruman received the ignominious end his faithlessness deserved. All know of these things. But what of me, of Radagast the fool, the dispossessed, the sorely deceived?
“’My deception was not merely at the hands of Saruman. Oh, no, would that it were. No, I was my own worst deceiver. I convinced myself that I had participated in the tremendous deeds of the age. I moved Gandalf to begin the labors that would end Mordor’s imitation of Angband. I even did as Gandalf bade me and sent word through you with tidings to Orthanc – where you did a deed of worthy renown. But do you know what became of me soon after our last conversation ere today? Does anyone?
“’I shall tell you and you can make it known to all. The King should know of it for it bears on his successful ascendancy to the throne. I told myself that my role was over. I had faithfully served both Saruman and Gandalf, the two greatest of my Order. I was entitled now to enjoy the fruit of my labor, to return to Rhosgobel, to listen to tree and leaf, to blade and birdsong, to the kine unfenced by Elf or Man. A fool’s hope it turned out to be.
“’Joyful that all seemed on its way to a felicitous ending I speedily took leave of Gandalf. What was my need of haste? Nothing! Just to be done with matters beyond me spurred my retreat. I rode my horse with an abandon born of desperation and a wild delight. I yearned for my house and wood.
“’I am not a horseman. Before long I had ridden the poor beast to exhaustion. He stumbled, went lame, and collapsed. I was fortunate to escape with no broken bones of my own. The animal died within the hour. But I was not distressed. To walk to Rhosgobel did not seem an onerous task. I was urged on by my desire for home and familiarity.
“’The journey was not without its pleasures. There are abundant beauties still in the world and I beheld much upon my way. Many were the small woods where I tarried. Ample opportunity was mine to converse with the creatures beyond the Road. As the days passed into weeks then months, I wandered afield, disregarding the route most direct toward my home. Long and needlessly I traveled. I was not discouraged as I became increasingly footsore. It seemed but the price to pay for the reward of delights unlooked for, with certain rest awaiting me at the end of uncertain paths.
“’Of a sudden the memory assailed me of the foreboding I had felt at the coming of Grima. Death had showed itself that night. Why had I not paid it more heed before now, I wondered? What was the meaning of the misgiving of my heart, and when would the answer make itself clear?
“’All too soon I discovered. While on foot not more than a few days’ march from Rhosgobel I became aware of the presence of Nazgul. Though the time of Arvedui was long past, no amount of time was sufficient to make me forget the terror of their presence. I knew that they were near.
“’Later I learned why they were as they appeared to me, shapeless and afraid, but horrific nonetheless. They had been unhorsed at the Greyflood by Elrond and Gandalf, fortunately for me. Alone I had to withstand the Nine in the wilderness.
“’It was a bitter and ignoble struggle. I have heard tell of Gandalf’s stand against them atop Amon Sul. He is truly heroic, as he showed in Moria and again before the gates of Minas Tirith. Yes, yes, I have heard tell of these things and more. The world knows little of me, true, but the world is well known to me.
“’Mine was not a battle to be compared with any of Gandalf’s. The Nine and I were a double handful of cowards, they fearing to move by day and I by night. It was terrible only in its tedium. They assailed me with dark visions of wraiths and other unreal phantasms, frightening only to children, really. Though they were much weakened by their defeat near Rivendell, I was rendered craven by my memory of the last days of the Witch-king’s realm. For my part I endeavored to put the fear of fire on them. But as I said I am no Gandalf. At best I was able to hold them at bay. I know not what either side hoped to accomplish. Certainly a final victory seemed possible to neither.
“’But we were in motion. Over what seemed weeks, but was no more than a fortnight, we made steady progress toward Rhosgobel. That was my goal. I thought to gain my home and to drive them thence with the aid of the friends I had there. I was not thinking clearly.’”
Fatty at this point returned to the table where he had begun recounting Radagast’s tale. “Barliman! I don’t think I’m the only one with an empty mug here.” Several trips to the privy were made, men and hobbits rose to stretch their legs, and several volunteers made shift to help Butterbur refill dozens of empty pints. Others brought in more logs for the fire. The night seemed to have grown closer as Fatty delved ever deeper into the subject of the Ringwraiths and battles against the forces of Mordor. No one left the common room alone during the pause in the story.
“It is not a comforting end to Radagast’s tale,” Fatty resumed. “’Too late did I reckon with the wanton hatred of the king of the Nazgul. He remembered me and the contempt in which he held me before his defeat at the hands of the elves and Gondor’s last king. All that was his desire in toying with me as he did was to inflict an unhealable wound upon my heart. In the end it cost him more than I, but that is small comfort to me.
“’As we battled toward Rhosgobel in the twilight of a late fall evening sudden flame sprang up in the woods about me. I was driven into a despairing rage. My one pride in all of this is that my wrath was greater than the Nazgul had thought possible. They did not understand that those woods were more to me than the value I gave myself.
“’Their chief poured forth a deadly flame upon the forest. The heat alone shriveled grasses and undergrowth, inspiring terror in the small creatures caught at unawares. He darkened their thoughts with the malevolence of his presence so that, rather than escaping, they fled into the depths of the conflagration. I shall never be put of their howling agony so long as I live.
“’It was this sound that freed me from my paralysis. I had been standing in disbelief at what I saw. Slowly I understood the game, played those fourteen endless days, of cat and mouse wherein I was less clever than a rodent. All had been a ruse to bring me to this pass. How contemptible I am finally was clear to me. To the Nazgul I was but a diversion to slow them on their return to Mordor where they themselves feared their master’s malign welcome.
“’Unheedful of pain I strode into the midst of the flames and lifted my staff high aloft. What 'til then had been a bright night of moon and stars above the hell-wrought blaze instantly became a blackness colored by my despair and anger. The very light of the fire seemed to be gathered into me and extinguished. I sensed the shock of the Nazgul and I laughed with a roar greater than the sound of burning had been. For fully a minute no sound was heard but my grim mirth, nothing was visible but my figure grown tall standing in the heart of the dying wood.
“’I knew that all was lost. My home was slaughtered before my eyes, my friends killed shrieking for some kind of help from me. I could offer them naught but revenge on their murderers.
“’With my last strength I uttered words Ulmo himself spoke when subduing the rebellion of Osse. To hear the words of the tongue of Valinor was enough to dismay the Nazgul even as they thought they had won a victory. But what came next they could not have conceived.
“’The waters of the stream without a name leapt from their bed. Where before they had been the sound of the delight of wind in trees and life within the womb, now they became as the hand of the Lord of Waters bent on destruction. Even now I know not how I remembered those words in that moment or summoned the strength to utter them. As a tidal wave they rose above the blackened roof of the forest and swept down upon the whole of the land that I had called home. Washed away in the deluge was the corpse of all of my joy in Middle Earth. Not a stump now remains, nor will any find a trace that once lived there the last memory of the handiwork of the Entwives upon the earth.
“’Almaren, Beleriand, Numenor – all were greater than Rhosgobel. None was dearer. Each is gone. Gone…’
“Radagast stopped. Gwaihir thought he wept. Slowly the wizard gained control of himself. ’And again, as at Rivendell, the Nazgul succumbed to the wrath of water. All the waters of the world are dear to Ulmo and he it is among the Valar who even still is most concerned with the welfare of the mortal lands. But the hand of fair Yavanna can be seen in this defeat of the Nazgul. She has the care of all growing things closest to heart, and among those she holds dear, the dearest to her are the trees. My utter defeat was the instrument of her victory.
“’The stream with no name has perished. With him vanished from that part of the West the Nazgul, never to return. It is perhaps no more than a footnote in the grand history of these days, but it is true that the Ringbearer progressed in his journey all the way to Moria ere the Ringwraiths came naked back to the Dark Tower. This respite proved invaluable in that the Morgul lord was unable to take to the skies in his hideous steed or to receive the command of his dread armies until the Company of the Ring was far east. Who knows how much further the Dark Lord’s plans might have gotten had not the fool Radagast stood in his mightiest servants’ path?
“’At last the night subsided. I awoke with the morn. Never will the desolation of that sunrise leave me. As I lay upon the ground I looked about. Nothing. There was nothing. The trees gone, not so much as a crow to mock me. Next to me lay the charred remains of my staff. Thus do I know that I have failed the trust of the Valar and there is no hope for me in all of Arda.’
“Gwaihir’s final sight of Radagast was of the wizard descending the Carrock on foot. He refused the eagle’s offer to bear him wherever he would. ‘Only bear my tidings to the King and whomever else might desire news of the downfallen of this age.’ It seemed to Gwaihir futile to laud the wizard for what bravery and valor he did show at his end. Flying swiftly towards Minas Tirith Gwaihir wondered anew at the unforeseen glories held in the mind of Eru. None has since had speech with Radagast.’”
Barliman was the first to stir several minutes after Fatty fell silent. The innkeeper went to the kitchen and began washing dishes. Others moved toward the doors. What talking there was was in whispers. Fatty drank the last of his beer and prepared to go to his room.
“Just one moment,” Mr. Mugwort spoke in a loud voice. “How is it you know so much about what the king of the eagles had to say to a half-dead wizard?”
“Simple,” replied Fatty with a sly grin. “Gwaihir told me himself.”
“Told you himself? Where? When?”
“That, my friend, is a subject for another night at The Pony. Look me up tomorrow. Good evening, sir.”
And with that Fatty went to bed.
Author Notes: Frodo Gamgee, the youngest son of Samwise, became Mayor after his father. Like his big sister, Elanor, Frodo kept a book of tales. Hers was red. His was green.