February 27–28HomeMarch 1

February 29–30, S.R. 1419 (T.A. 3019)

When the hunters awake Legolas says that ‘It is a red dawn,’ so they must be starting again before sunrise.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 6:20 am

Legolas wakes Aragorn and Gimli before sunrise. The three set off again on the trail of the Orcs, which leads north towards the line of high downs that they can see ahead.

The charge of the Rohirrim comes right after dawn: ‘The Sun’s limb was lifted, an arc of fire, above the margin of the world.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 6:52 am

Merry and Pippin enter the edge of Fangorn Forest. They look back and watch the sunrise glint on the Riders’ spears as they charge the Orc-camp. Seeing a band of Orcs fleeing in their direction, Merry and Pippin retreat further into the forest, along the course of the Entwash.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 8:55 am

Merry and Pippin climb to a ledge. Pippin sees clouds cover the Sun. ‘This shaggy old forest looked so different in the sunlight. I almost felt I liked the place.’

‘Almost felt you liked the Forest! That’s good! I almost feel that I dislike you both, but do not let us be hasty.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 8:57 am

Merry and Pippin have met Treebeard—an ancient Ent. He can’t place them in the old lists.

‘Learn now the lore of Living Creatures!
First name the four, the free peoples
Eldest of all, the elf-children
Dwarf the delver, dark are his houses
Ent the earthborn, old as mountains…’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 10:01 am

Treebeard carries Merry and Pippin towards his home, chanting about the ancient forests in which he once walked.

‘In the willow-meads of Tasarinan I walked in the Spring.
Ah! the sight and the smell of the Spring in Nan-tasarion!
And I said that was good…’

‘Slowly the downs drew near. It was still an hour before noon when they reached them.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 11:10 am

The three hunters reach the southern end of the downs. Aragorn examines tramped grass where the Orcs camped. ‘I fear that your heart spoke truly, Legolas…If they held to their pace, then at sundown yesterday they would reach the borders of Fangorn.’

As Frodo and Sam start working to descend the cliff face on the southern edge of the Emyn Muil, ‘the light seemed to be fading quickly, although the sun had not yet set.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 4:50 pm

On their fourth evening in the Emyn Muil, Frodo and Sam find a ravine that ends in the outer cliff-face only 18 fathoms above the ground. A storm approaches as Frodo starts the climb. They hear a Nazgûl wail, and are lashed with rain and hail. Frodo slips to a lower ledge.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 4:57 pm

Sam remembers—rope! ‘Yes, Mr. Frodo, in my pack and all. Carried it hundreds of miles and I’d clean forgotten it!’

They tie it to a stump and climb down. Then they realize: Gollum will also be able to use it. Sam gives a tug. The elven-rope comes untied and falls to the ground.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 5:55 pm

Treebeard reaches Wellinghall with Merry and Pippin after ‘seventy thousand ent-strides.’ They drink ent-draughts, and Treebeard sings of the Ent-wives.

‘When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf
and sap is in the bough
When light is on the wild-wood stream
and wind is on the brow…’

‘The sun sank and the shadows of evening fell like a curtain. They were alone in a grey formless world without mark or measure.’ This puts the three hunters atop the northern down at dusk.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 6:15 pm

As dusk falls, Legolas leads Aragorn and Gimli uphill to the top of the northernmost down—in the morning they will be able to see the lands around them. ‘Rest if you must. Yet do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede oft is found at the rising of the Sun.’

Just before Frodo and Sam see Gollum, we’re told that ‘The moon now rode high and clear.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 8:10 pm

Frodo and Sam watch Gollum climb down the cliff face behind them, splayed like a spider. Sam tackles him. He fights, but Frodo draws his blade.

‘Let go! Gollum, this is Sting. You have seen it before once upon a time. Let go, or you’ll feel it this time! I’ll cut your throat.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 8:58 pm

How might Frodo trust Gollum?

‘Sméagol will swear on the Precious.’

‘On the Precious? How dare you? Think! “One Ring to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them.” Would you commit your promise to that, Sméagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are!’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 8:59 pm

Frodo stands stern as Gollum paws and fawns in front of him. ‘Down! down! Now speak your promise!’

‘We promises, yes I promise! I will serve the master of the Precious. Good master, good Sméagol!’

Gollum starts leading Frodo and Sam toward the marshes to their south.

By the time Gollum has sworn by the Ring, Sam notes that ‘The Moon’s gone, and the night’s going.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 11:03 pm

Gollum leads them, splashing, down a ravine.

‘The cold hard lands,
they bites our hands,
they gnaws our feet.
The rocks and stones
are like old bones
all bare of meat.
But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!

And now we wish—what does we wish? Baggins guessed it—

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 11:04 pm

‘Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!’

Faramir will tell Frodo that he saw the boat bearing Boromir when ‘all the world slept at the midnight hour.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 29 · 11:59 pm

In the quiet darkness Faramir, guarding the Anduin’s west shore, sees a grey boat riding soundlessly on the current. It has a high prow and glows with light. Inside, he sees the body of his brother Boromir.

The boat floats on past him towards the sea.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 6:19 am

As dawn approaches, Gollum stops and insists that they hide during the day. Frodo and Gollum are soon asleep. Sam—not trusting their new guide—tries to stay awake on watch, but is soon asleep as well.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 7:10 am

At dawn, Aragorn sees motion to the north. He puts his ear to the ground. ‘Many riders on swift steeds are coming towards us!’

‘Yes,’ says Legolas, shading his eyes, ‘there are one hundred and five. Yellow is their hair, and bright are their spears. Their leader is very tall.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 9:32 am

The horsemen ride past the three hunters without even seeing them, but Aragorn calls out, ‘What news from the North, Riders of Rohan?’

The riders surround them. Éomer dismounts. ‘Who are you, and what are you doing in this land?’

‘I am called Strider…I am hunting Orcs.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 9:36 am

Satisfied that the Rohirrim do not serve Mordor, Aragorn for the first time openly proclaims himself—‘Elessar, the Elfstone, Dúnadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil’s son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 9:49 am

Éomer sets aside the law of the Rohirrim. ‘You may go; and what is more, I will lend you horses. This only I ask: return with the horses… In this I place myself, and maybe my very life, in the keeping of your good faith. Do not fail.’

‘I will not.’ The three hunters ride north.

As they leave Wellinghall in the morning, Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that ‘We must be there’—at the moot—‘before noon.’ But it’s not specified exactly how long before noon they arrive.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 11:41 am

Treebeard arrives with Merry and Pippin at the Entmoot he has summoned. The Ents start talking. Treebeard reports: ‘They have agreed that you are not Orcs, and that a new line shall be put in the old lists.’ The moot starts discussing Saruman—which will take several days.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 5:28 pm

Merry and Pippin are sent to sleep at the house of Quickbeam, a ‘hasty’ Ent who’s already made up his mind. They listen to him lamenting the trees that Orcs have felled.

‘…O rowan fair
Upon your hair
How white the blossom lay!
O rowan mine
I saw you shine
Upon a summer’s day…’

‘At last as the afternoon was waning they came to the eaves of the forest.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 5:52 pm

The three hunters have reached the battlefield but find no trace of Merry or Pippin in the dusk. They camp under a tree that stands well back from the forest. Gimli suggests a fire. Legolas agrees: ‘If those unhappy hobbits are astray in the woods, it might draw them hither.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 6:18 pm

Frodo and Sam wake in the twilight. After Gollum returns, muddy from a quick meal, they start following him south again down the ravine.

The Shire-Reckoning · Feb 30 · 9:10 pm

Gimli, on watch, jumps up—an old man with a staff, wrapped in hat and cloak, is standing at the edge of their fire-light! He disappears. They find their horses are gone.

They hear distant neighing: their horses are greeting the great Shadowfax, summoned north by Gandalf.

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