A Matter of Healing
(An Inkling About Tom Bombadil)
Gandalf watched as the four hobbits rode down
the Road towards The Shire. He was certain they would find mischief
afoot but he was also just as certain that his four friends would be
capable of handling anything that might be amiss. He was worried about
Frodo and the injuries he had sustained on his quest that would never
fully heal. They had no sooner left Rivendell than Frodo had fallen
ill. Sam had spoken to Gandalf about his concern for Frodo and Gandalf
understood those concerns. It was for this reason that Gandalf wanted
to talk to Tom Bombadil. Tom was not what he seemed with his great
yellow boots, bright blue eyes and long brown beard. Gandalf knew that
there was more to old Tom that met the eyes and he needed to seek him
out for Frodo’s sake. Telling the hobbits that he had a great many
things to discuss with Tom, he left the Road upon Shadowfax and began
crossing the dike following a steep wall that had once been the
boundary of an ancient kingdom from long ago. As he rode, he climbed
steadily upward upon a mound and upon its peak he found it littered
with golden objects of long ago. This must have been the former resting
place of the Barrow-wights that the hobbits had stumbled across. If it
had not been for the quick thinking of Frodo, the quest might have
ended right then and there. Gandalf then continued across the rise and
fall of hills and valleys when he came upon several ponies. One pony
large in girth pricked forward its ears and looked steadily at Gandalf.
‘Hello Fatty Lumpkin,’ said Gandalf gaily.
‘I don’t have a juicy carrot for you but if you would tell old Tom I
have come to pay a visit I would be much obliged.’
The pony immediately neighed, bobbed its
head and trotted off. Gandalf continued to ride with Shadowfax along
the rolling green walls of hillside and hillside and smelled the sweet
scent of turf. Eventually, Gandalf heard a deep glad voice singing
carelessly and happily.
Hey dol! Merry dol! A wizard Fatty found!
Ring a dong! hop along! To find him we are bound!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!
Tom came over the rise of the hillside
wearing a blue coat and his great yellow boots riding Fatty Lumpkin.
His eyes were sparking blue and his face was red as a ripe apple, but
creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter. Gandalf had dismounted and
leaned on his white staff as he watched Tom approach and smiled.
‘Good morning Iarwain Ben-adar,’ said Gandalf cheerfully and bowed to Tom.
‘Gandalf and Shadowfax,’ said Tom. ‘I have
been expecting you but please, I have not gone by that name in many
long years. I have taken the name of Tom Bombadil and it suits me for
this age. Come now and we will share a smoke.’
‘Pray tell who informed you of my coming,’ asked Gandalf as his eyes twinkled.
‘Gwaihir the Windlord and his Landroval his
brother, of course,‘ said Tom merrily. ‘They have told me much of what
has happened these past few months. Are the small folk with you?’
‘No Tom, they are not, but it is because of Frodo that I have come to seek your help,’ said Gandalf solemnly.
They mounted their horses and rode along and
by and by came to even ground. The grass was well-tended and bordered
with stone. It wound up on to the top of a grassy knoll, and above them
on a further slope stood the home of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. Smoke
was rising from a chimney from the cottage before them. A yellow beam
flowed out brightly from a door that was open and in the doorway stood
Goldberry with her long yellow hair rippling down her shoulders wearing
a blue gown shot with sapphire beads and her belt was enameled with
‘Lady Goldberry,’ said Gandalf as dismounted
and bowed to the fair lady of the house of Tom Bombadil. ‘It has been a
long time since I have had the pleasure of your company.’
‘Gandalf the White,’ said Goldberry smiling. ‘We have heard that your deeds surpassed all expectations and we are pleased.’
‘Thank you my Lady,’ smiled Gandalf as walked into the cottage and placed his staff in the corner of the home.
Tom gestured for Gandalf to sit down as he pulled out his pipe and implored Gandalf to do the same.
‘I am not sure how much Gwaihir told you of
the perilous journey of Frodo and Sam,’ said Gandalf. ‘However, Frodo
has suffered much both in spirit and in body and I am anxious for him.’
‘Gwaihir told me of the final battles and
how the ring that Frodo bore was finally cast into the flames of Mt.
Doom at a terrible cost to Frodo,’ said Tom sadly.
‘That is why I am here,’ sighed Gandalf.
‘After Frodo and the other hobbits left you, they met with Aragorn who
is now King of Gondor and traveled toward Weathertop only to meet with
the Witch King who pierced Frodo’s shoulder with a deadly blade. It was
only through Lord Elrond’s diligent healing for many days that we were
able to save Frodo early on in the quest.’
Tom continued to smoke on his pipe and nodded his head as he listened carefully to Gandalf’s words.
‘Frodo was also assailed by the wicked
spider, Shelob in Cirith Ungol once he passed into Mordor by the
treachery of another creature Gollum. Fortunately, Sam was able to
stave off the spider and thereby save Frodo from an untimely end. The
two hobbits traveled across the pits and filth of Mordor until they
reached Mt. Doom. Once they reach the fiery chasm of Orodruin, the ring
was cast into the pit only for Frodo to loose his finger to the
wretched creature Gollum. I knew that Frodo had wounds that would never
fully heal. The wound by the Witch King took place on the 6th of
October and on the anniversary date of Frodo receiving that wound, he
took ill. Elrond and myself no longer have the healing skills we once
had now that the one ring has been destroyed. It was the price paid for
its destruction. The elven rings’ power for healing has now diminished
and we can no longer help Frodo as we once could. I fear that Frodo may
also take ill on March 13th, which is the anniversary of his poisoning
by the evil spider Shelob. Of that, I am not sure but for certain Frodo
will be ill each October 6th.’
Tom thought for a long time about what Gandalf had just told him and after puffing on his pipe spoke softly to Gandalf.
‘I knew much about what you have told me
already Gandalf. The fate of the three elven rings is not my concern.
The rings were wrought long after I arrived in Middle Earth and have no
control over me. In fact, Frodo thought he could disappear with the one
ring but it had no effect on me and he was quite surprised to say the
least,’ laughed Tom. ‘However, I am not sure what you would like me to
do about Frodo. It seems that he is now safe and heading on his way
back to the Shire. Since Sauron has been destroyed, what is your
concern for Frodo?’
‘My concern is that Frodo’s illnesses will
steadily become more difficult for him to bear and I will not always be
around each time he is in need of healing,’ said Gandalf. ‘I need to
ask you to help me Tom. I believe that in your valley there is a
flowering plant that helps with a healing virtue called the poleria
plant. I would like to gather some of the healing properties from that
plant and take it with me so that Sam will have it on hand to help
Frodo when he becomes ill during these times. He will be able to add it
to Frodo’s tea and ease him during those times of darkness.
Unfortunately, I do not know much about this plant or where it can be
found so that is why I have come to you for your help.’
Tom looked at Gandalf with thoughtful eyes
and nodded his head. ‘Of course I will help Frodo but this plant is not
easy to find and only blooms once a year. You are lucky that you have
come at the right time of year for it will be blooming shortly. I will
gather what you need from the poleria plant. Gandalf remained with Tom
and Goldberry for the next few weeks until it was time for the poleria
plant to bloom. One evening, Gandalf traveled with Tom to the far
reaches of his lands and found an exotic looking plant with six-pointed
lavender flowers whose aroma was light and sweet as honey. The plant
only bloomed at night once a year and Tom carefully cultivated the
parts of the flowers that he needed to make the tonic that would help
Frodo during his illnesses and when they were finished, they walked
back to Tom’s cottage. After partaking of a late evening meal of yellow
cream and honeycomb, white bread and butter, milk, cheese, and ripe
berries, Gandalf bade Tom a good evening and slept for a night as he
had not slept in a long time. When he woke, he spoke to Tom to see how
he had fared with making the tonic for Frodo from the poleria plant.
‘I am almost finished blending the poleria
plant and other herbs together,’ said Tom as he continued to mix in
compounds. ‘The tonic for Frodo will be ready soon so that Sam can mix
it with Frodo’s tea. I know that you are worried for Frodo but this
should ease his discomfort.’
‘Thank you Tom,’ said Gandalf as he watched
Tom finishing the mixture and placing it in a watertight canister. Now
that the tonic was finished, he wanted to set off for the Shire as
quickly as possible and give the mixture to Sam to use when Frodo
As Gandalf was getting ready to leave Tom
walked over to Gandalf with a concerned look in his face and place his
hand on Gandalf’s shoulder.
‘You realize that this tonic will only help
Frodo temporarily Gandalf,’ said Tom with a sad look in his eyes. ‘From
what you have told me, Frodo will never have true rest in Middle Earth
and will one day need to travel to the Grey Havens.’
Gandalf slowly looked back at Tom and nodded
his head with a pained look in his eyes. ‘I know Tom. I am bringing
this mixture to Sam to give to Frodo to help ease the pain on the days
when he needs it most. One day, he will travel in honor with the elves
over the sea. Until then, as his friend, I will try to help him endure
any pain he might still bear.’
Tom patted Gandalf’s back. ‘Then go in peace White Wizard and watch over the Ring Bearer.’
Gandalf placed his hand on Tom’s shoulder and
smiled back. ‘Thank you Iarwain Ben-adar and may peace always be
yours,’ as he rode off toward the Shire.