Gandalf walked in front, and with him went Aragorn, who knew this land even in the dark. The others were in file behind, and Legolas whose eyes were keen, was the rearguard. The first part of their journey was hard and dreary, and Frodo remembered little of it, save the wind. For many sunless days an icy blast came from the Mountains in the east, and no garment seemed able to keep out its searching fingers.
From time to time Frodo felt a shiver run through him that the cold wind could not explain. He stumbled at these times, looking around at the others to be sure his misstep had not been noticed. He understood that his responsibility, to carry the burden that he himself had chosen, would cause him suffering, but he could not bear how much the others were affected by his every move. It pained him more than the keen wind to feel the cause of their discomfort. Thus he chose silence as he contended with the lonely pain of the ring, which he felt every moment against his breast.
Another shiver swept over him. He said nothing to Sam who walked just ahead of him with Bill, shielding him from the sharpest blasts of the wind, but kept his eyes on the uneven ground beneath his feet, with only an occasional look around. He felt something, but did not know what. He certainly did not know that he was being watched.
The small sly creature that shadowed him crept from rock to crag to stunted tree, keeping a wary eye on the elf that brought up the rear and looked his way with unsettling regularity. He matched his path as near as he could with Frodo’s, to the side but at what he felt was a safe distance off. He wanted to be close enough to see the treasure he pursued should it for some reason be brought forth. Failing that, he wanted to keep his eye on that hobbit. He slid down a slight gully as the hobbit stumbled again and seemed to glance over at him.
As he peered over the edge of a gorse bush near the top of the dip, he was dismayed to see that the leader of the company had paused and that the penetrating eyes of the wizard were looking straight at him. With a sharp hiss he slid back down the gully and out of sight.
“What do you see, Gandalf?” Frodo heard Aragorn ask.
“Nothing of any concern for the moment,” Gandalf answered. “But let us all keep our wits about us.”
Gandalf and Aragorn walked together in the growing dark of evening, and the others trudged in single file behind as a sudden blast of wind grasped at their cloaks with icy fingers.