The Magnificent Speaks
is a passage in the Hobbit that has always intrigued me: "It was often
said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must
have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly
there was still something not entirely hobbitlike about them..."
The character I have written into this chapter is based on this passage.
Once again a silence that usually never
occurred there lay heavily on the living room of Bag End, only
interrupted by some stifled sniffs and sobs. Merry was not even aware
of his tears until one fell from his face right into his teacup. “I can
still feel it,” he said in a voice that was barely more than a whisper.
“The mud under my knees as I kneeled down on the bank… The icy cold in
Frodo’s hand when I touched it… Pippin threw himself to the ground,
crying with grief and despair. Sam’s grief seemed too great for tears.
And I… I had still not quite realised what was happening. I sat there,
holding a sobbing Pippin and staring at the motionless body before me,
but I could not yet let it in.”
“But Frodo was not dead,” said Hamfast triumphantly. “It was not his time yet.”
“No Ham lad, it was not,” said Merry
thoughtfully, “but I have always believed that that was the moment when
the old Frodo was truly gone for ever. You can say that, in a way, a
part of him did die. But at this moment in the story however, we were
under the impression that he had died altogether, and we grieved.
Yet Glorfindel hurried over, gently pushed
the three of us away, and examined the body. “Despair not!” said he.
“Your friend and kinsman still lives, but only just.” He spoke a few
words to Frodo in the Elven tongue, and though there was no response I
fancied seeing the faintest colour returning to his face. Then Strider
picked him up almost lovingly, and carried him over to where Asfaloth
still stood, meanwhile rapidly speaking with Glorfindel.
“Where are you taking him?” I asked, but
they did not seem to hear me. Strider put Frodo on the saddle, holding
him steady so that Glorfindel could mount. Then the Elf-lord put one
arm tightly around Frodo, and with his free hand he grabbed the reins.
“He is not going to last much longer. I must get him to Lord Elrond
immediately. Aragorn shall lead you on to Imladris. Here, our roads
must part for a little while.”
“But I… my master…” said Sam in a strangled voice.
Glorfindel looked at him earnestly. “I am
afraid that there is nothing you can do for Frodo at the moment but
pray to the Valar for his salvation.”
The word just escaped me. Frodo had told me
of the Valar a few times, and I was desperate to do something to help
him, anything at all; but how could I send a plea to them? How could
they hear me? And would they even listen to a little Hobbit?
The Elf eyed me keenly, and a small smile
came upon his face. “If the prayer comes from your heart, Meriadoc,
have no fear. They shall be listening.”
With that, he urged Asfaloth forward and after a last wave of farewell, disappeared into the distance.
We hurried along in the horse’s footsteps as
fast as we could, not saying a word. I was trying to pray as Glorfindel
had told me to, but I still couldn’t quite understand how to do it. I
thought about Frodo and how much I cared for him, and found myself
begging in my thoughts: ‘please, if you can hear me… let him live. We
can’t do without him, we need him. Let him be spared. Save him.’ And
somehow I got the feeling they were indeed listening.
At the setting of the sun, we finally got the
valley in sight. And though we were still scared and worried for Frodo,
the first view on Rivendell took all our breaths away.
“This must be where the sun was born,”
whispered Pippin in awe. And indeed, the sun seemed to belong in this
valley. It winked at us on the rippling waters and made the roof of the
Last Homely House light up as if in greeting. Strider sighed as one
returning home after a long time. “Nay, the Sun was not born in this
valley, young Hobbit, though she loves to dwell in it, especially on
mornings in spring, when she wakes up the flowers. Alas that you cannot
see that now! But perhaps you shall return here in merrier days. Let us
The enchantment passed as the sun was
sinking and darkness fell. The first stars were beginning to appear in
the sky when we arrived at the House of Elrond.
A tall, fair-haired Elf was waiting for us on the large terrace, and although he courteously smiled, his eyes were worried.
“Is he Lord Elrond?” I whispered.
I had expected Strider to answer, but the
voice that replied was Sam’s. “I don’t think so. Mr. Bilbo described
him very differently in his stories.”
The Elf bowed to us and made an Elven
greeting gesture towards Strider, then began speaking to him in the
Elven tongue. Yet Strider held up his hand to silence him.
“If there is any news of Frodo, these Hobbits have a right to hear it as well.”
“Begging your pardon,” said the Elf with
another bow towards us. “I did not mean any discourtesy. My name is
Lindir, and I am greeting you on behalf of my Lord Elrond, as he is
looking after your companion’s injuries at the moment.”
“How is my master?” asked Sam immediately.
Lindir’s face grew grave. “I cannot say, for
Lord Elrond has not allowed anyone inside his chambers. I fear you will
have to wait for news of his condition. But come now,” he said, raising
his arms. “You are weary of your travels, and there are baths, beds and
a decent meal made ready for you all.”
He led us into a magnificent corridor full of
flickering torches illuminating the breathtaking carvings and paintings
on the walls. We, being only simple Hobbits after all, gaped at the
beauty of the House of Elrond as much as our weariness and worry would
When we arrived at a great staircase,
Lindir turned to Strider. “I trust you still know the way to your
quarters, Est… Aragorn?” he said with a small smile.
Strider returned the smile, and after
bidding us all goodnight, he walked up the stairs, while Lindir led us
to a room on the ground floor (thankfully).
As he opened the door we looked into a large
room with a view on the water and the pine forests in the distance.
Four beds were made ready – I felt a sharp pang of pain as I looked at
the fourth bed and hoped it would not be long before it would be
occupied – and I could see steam emerging from the door to the next
room that was ajar; our baths.
Sitting on one of the beds was an Elfmaiden
in a long blue gown. She stood up as she discovered us, and curtsied. I
noticed her studying each of us keenly through her long eyelashes. She
had long, raven hair and was very small for an Elf – only about a
head’s length taller than I was – though it was quite clear that she
was not a child.
“Linnadín shall provide you with everything
you need,” said Lindir. “She knows much of the customs and needs of the
Shire-folk, having dwelled among them herself once.”
“Really?” said Pippin, forgetting his
weariness for a moment at this interesting fact. “That must have been
long ago indeed, for I have heard no stories about an Elf living in the
Shire. This is interesting. Do you, by any chance, know the Tooks?”
Linnadín said nothing, but suddenly smiled
very mischievously, and a feeling of recognition filled me as I saw
that smile, one I knew better than any other.
“Even more so, Pip. I think she IS a Took.”
There was no mistake. The resemblance was
striking. I had never quite believed the stories about some Took
ancestor marrying a Fairy or an Elf or indeed anything other than a
Hobbit, but now I suddenly found them a lot more credible.
Pippin’s eyes nearly doubled in size when I
said this. He looked at me, then back at the young Elf, who was still
smiling with her eyes fixed on the floor.
“Am I right?” I felt very pleased with myself as she slowly nodded.
Pippin stood dazed for another few seconds
before the questions came tumbling out. “Does that make you my ancestor
then? Have you lived in the Great Smials? There is nothing about you in
the family tree, who were your close relatives? Why did you leave? And
why aren’t you saying anything?” he said in one breath.
“She cannot,” said Lindir, who was still standing on the doorstep. “Linnadín never speaks.”
I patted Pippin on the shoulder. “I take that back, Pip, she cannot possibly be related to you.”
Pippin grimaced at me, and I saw Lindir and
Linnadín exchanging a look. Lindir was trying hard to keep a straight
face. “Well then, I shall leave you now.”
“But what about my master?” cried Sam. He
had followed the exchange between us with interest, but had not said
anything. His eyes were brimming with tears.
Linnadín hurried over and kneeled before
him, gently wiping the tears away and holding out her hand in a
friendly, yet resolute fashion.
“Perhaps you will be able to find out more
about his condition later, master Samwise,” said Lindir. “But right now
you need to think about yourself also. Let Linnadín take care of you
now, and then we shall see what might be done.”
Having said this, he bade us farewell and left.
Linnadín proved to be very capable of taking
care of tired and famished Hobbits. She ushered us to the bathroom and
left, and when we came out again there were three sets of new, clean
clothes laid ready for us – Hobbit clothes. Made of Elven fabric and
with a delicate Elven touch to it, but they were made in a Hobbit size
and fashion. I wondered about them for a moment. Why did they have
these in Rivendell, a valley of Elves? Surely they would not often have
Hobbits come over.
When we re-entered the other room, we found
that ‘our’ Elf had set up a low table and some comfortable chairs –
once again Hobbit-sized – and a great deal of food, plenty even for
three hungry Hobbits. But even though the food was terrific and we had
not eaten a good meal since leaving Bree, we ate very little, with
Pippin’s lack of appetite being quite alarming. I saw Sam shifting
restlessly in his chair and chewing his food absent-mindedly. Finally,
I decided to ask the question he was obviously nervous of asking.
“My Lady,” I said softly and a bit
awkwardly, “not that we do not appreciate your exellent care, but we
would really like to know how Frodo is doing right now.”
To our great surprise, Linnadín made no sign
of protesting at this request. On the contrary, she nodded gravely and
gestured to us to follow her. Sam jumped off his seat and took her
outstretched hand. She took up the hem of her dress with her free hand
and set off into yet another corridor with us hurrying after her,
turning left and right and finally going up a stone staircase.
Several other Elves were standing at the door
of what appeared to be Frodo’s room, Lindir and Glorfindel being among
them. I noticed that the golden-haired Elf still had his riding gear
on, splattered with mud. I saw great concern in his eyes as he greeted
An agonized cry came from behind the closed
door. I felt Pippin cringe beside me and I, too, felt as if a mighty
fist was squeezing my heart. Sam had leaped forward at the sound, but
Linnadín quickly sank down on her knees and held him tight.
The following hour we remained motionless
in the corridor. With every cry that came from the room I closed my
eyes tightly and held Pippin more fiercely as he pressed his face into
my shoulder. Linnadín was still holding Sam, but he was no longer
struggling, merely crying.
Then the door opened, and a shabby-looking figure in tattered grey robes emerged.
“Gandalf!” cried Pippin.
“How is Frodo doing?” I asked him.
“And can we see him?” said Sam.
Gandalf looked older than ever, and there was an expression of sadness and pain on his face.
“Lord Elrond is doing all he can, but Frodo
is still in great peril,” he replied heavily. “You cannot see him
tonight, I am afraid. He sleeps now, thankfully, and I suggest you do
the same.” He looked sternly at Linnadín, who nodded. She resolutely
picked up Pippin in her arms and put him on her hip as if he were an
oversized toddler. He made to protest, but even before his head touched
her shoulder, he was already half asleep. With her free hand she gently
yet sternly guided me and Sam along, and put as all to bed as if we
were unwilling children. Despite my weariness I had trouble getting to
sleep, and when I finally drifted off into uneasy dreams, Frodo’s
screams of pain were still echoing in my ears.”
With special thanks to Mel Baggins for letting me 'borrow' Lindir.
Merry slowly turned his head and gazed
dreamily at the window, peeking between the half-drawn curtains. The
sound of raindrops against the glass had ceased, and a few stars shyly
reappeared from behind the clouds. He wondered what time it was.
Sam seemed to be thinking along the same
lines and cleared his throat loudly. “Well, it seems to be gettin’
late, an’ we’ve all had a long day. Why don’t you let Merry have a
smoke and a rest, an’ we continue the storytellin’ tomorrow, eh?”
His proposition was met with a cacaphony of protests.
“It’s not that late!” cried Primrose.
“It’s always dark early in September!” yelled Pippin-lad.
“You can’t stop now, it’s just getting exiting!” begged Daisy.
“We’ve all had naps after the arrival this afternoon!” said Rory.
“And my Da can perfectly tell stories while he’s smoking,” grinned Athelas.
Pippin laughed out loud. “It looks to me like you are far outnumbered, Sam!”
Sam, looking slightly crestfallen, tried to
regain his fatherly authority by announcing that ‘at least Robin and
Tom should go to bed’. The glare he received from his two youngest was
so fierce that, in spite of Robin’s massive yawn that followed, the
Mayor sat back down, defeated. “All right, fine, stay up, then,” he
mumbled, while several of his daughters kissed him on his cheeks. “That
is, if Merry thinks he’s up to it.”
All heads turned back to Merry, who had been
watching the display with amused interest. The tall Hobbit sighed
dramatically, stretched, and yawned widely, then looked up at Pippin
still sitting on the arm of the chair. “It is awfully late, isn’t it
Pip? What say you?”
The Thain grinned back and handed his friend the pouch of pipeweed.
“When I woke up the next morning, it seemed
that the rainclouds that had been following us on our path through the
deserted lands, had now reached Rivendell. Rain was lashing down on the
roof of the Homely House, so fiercely that I could hear it through the
I opened my eyes and saw Linnadín sitting on
a chair by the door, just as she had sat when I fell asleep. In her lap
was a jacket I immediately recognised as Pippin’s. Her skilled fingers
moved quickly and surely as she sowed a tear in the fabric back
together again. Well, at least the mystery of the Hobbit clothes was
solved, she cleary knew what she was doing with them.
I watched her for a while as she continued
mending our clothes and even some things that were Strider’s. I also
noticed that, while she seemed to have no problems with handling the
incredibly filthy Ranger’s garments, a spasm of disgust passed over her
face as she touched the hole in Frodo’s battered shirt.
“What time is it?” I said aloud, more to
announce that I was awake. She couldn’t answer anyway, though a reply
did come from another corner.
“It is about eleven, I would say,” said
Pippin’s voice. I sat up in my bed to see him sitting at the low table,
half-dressed and with messy hair. He smiled weakly and added:
I got out of bed and ruffled Pippin’s hair
affectionately. “It does not look to me as though you have been up for
hours, Master Took, so I do not think you are entitled to lecture me.
But…” – and here I turned to Linnadín – “I would like it if I was
wakened somewhat earlier.”
She looked up from repairing my waistcoat,
smiled, and nodded in understanding, then gestured with her free hand
towards the table, indicating that I should eat breakfast.
I sat down opposite Pippin and took some
toast, nibbling on it absent-mindedly. Then I realised something
familiar was missing in the room. “Where’s Sam?”
“Gone to see Frodo I think,” said Pippin.
“He was already gone when I woke up. I don’t think he’s had much sleep
tonight, even less than we had. Merry,” he said with a suddenly shaking
voice, “why were you crying in your sleep?”
“I was?” I said, trying to sound puzzled.
“Yes. You were crying and tossing and turning
and only settled down when Linnadín put her hand on your forehead. Were
I stared at the tablecloth, feeling the eyes of Pippin and the Elf on me.
“About Frodo?” asked Pippin carefully.
Memories of the past night flooded back to
me. It had been so real. Frodo, lying in a bed that seemed far too big
for him, cold and still. Sam lying next to him, looking far too thin
and pale. And finally dear Pippin on another bed, covered in blood and
not moving, with empty eyes staring at me without seeing…
“What happened, Merry?” Pippin’s voice was barely more than a whisper.
I shook my head wildly. “It was just a dream,
Pip,” I said harsher than I meant. I looked up to see Linnadín gazing
at me intensely, as if she was trying to read my mind.
I shook off the feeling and got up from the
table, patting Pippin’s shoulder a bit awkwardly. “Well ehm… I think we
ought to go and see Frodo now.”
A little later, as we were walking through
the corridors once more, the rain was still falling steadily and the
wind was howling around the Homely House. I was gazing dreamily at the
water falling from the sky, and was startled out of my reverie when
“Linnadín, this is not the way to Frodo’s room, is it?”
The young Elf, guiding our way, just smiled at us in an ‘you’ll see’ kind of way.
She led us to a room on the ground floor, very similar to our own, and knocked on the door three times.
“Ah, about time,” said a voice behind the door, a voice I vaguely recognised…
Linnadín pushed the door open and showed us a
large rectangular room, luxuriously furnished. At the far end of it was
a large window, and before the window there was a desk. A small figure
was sitting at the desk, bending over something, holding a pen in
Linnadín walked into the room and beckoned
us to come closer. The figure turned around and I saw a very old
Hobbit, a thousand wrinkles in his face as he smiled and took
Linnadín’s smooth, white little hand in his own two. “Good to see you
again, my dear. I was just working on that poem I read to you last
thursday. It is still far from finished, but if you like I shall read
some of it to you… who have you got with you?”
The young Elf stepped aside and walked back
to the door to close it, while the old Hobbit eyed the two of us
intently, his brow furrowed. Then his features broke into a smile.
“Merry Brandybuck! What a pleasant surprise!
Why, I almost did not recognise you, you have changed so much. So you
are here, too. That is good news indeed!”
I finally managed to squeeze a word out of my open-hanging mouth. “Bilbo?”
Bilbo Baggins beamed at me and adressed a
bemused Pippin. “And little Peregrin Took! My, have you grown, lad!
Well, of course you have. How silly of me, I forgot how long ago it’s
He ruffled our hair and grinned. “So, still
always together, are you? Some things just never change. I can still
remember the two of you chasing Frodo through the garden…”
His voice trailed off as he got lost in
memories past. I bit my lip and looked at Linnadín questioningly, then
exchanged looks with Pippin, wondering if Bilbo knew…
“You don’t have to be the bearers of bad news, lads. I already know about Frodo.”
I turned back to Bilbo, who fixed me with a
shrewd gaze. “In fact, I was about to go and visit him when you
arrived. Will you accompany an old Hobbit?” Without waiting for a
reply, he took my arm and, leaning on it, followed Linnadín’s lead to
Sam, looking exhausted and teary-eyed, opened the door of the room. His jaw dropped as he saw who we had with him.
“Hello, young Samwise,” said Bilbo. “I’ve come to visit my cousin, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all, sir, not at all,” mumbled Sam,
opening the door a little further and allowing us in, still gazing at
Bilbo with wide eyes.
Frodo was lying in a beautiful bed that was
a bit too big for him, apparently asleep. Bilbo carefully sat down on
the edge of the bed and gently touched Frodo’s face with a trembling
hand. He cleared his throat a few times before he managed to say: “I
believe he looks a little better than he did last night.”
If that was true, I did not want to imagine how he must have looked the previous night.
Even in the gentle glowing light of the many
torches and the small fireplace, Frodo’s face looked deadly pale and
terribly hollow. His eyes and cheeks were sunken, and his hair was
tangled and damp from sweat.
“Aye sir, he finally fell asleep just an
hour ago, sir,” said Sam a little nervously. “But he’s been tossin’ and
turnin’ all morning, and moanin’ too, sir, and he won’t keep any food
down, neither. And his poor hand, sir, it’s so cold…” Sam’s voice
trembled and trailed off, and he busied himself with preparing
something to eat while we sat with Frodo.
Bilbo held his beloved cousin’s left hand
and vainly tried to rub it warm, not taking his eyes off Frodo’s worn,
sleeping face. Pippin held his other hand as if he’d never let it go,
and I assumed the same position I had back on Weathertop, sitting by
Frodo’s head and stroking his forehead, which was neither warm nor cold
to my touch, as if it was not even alive. Frodo’s breathing was so
shallow I sometimes wanted keep my finger to his lips to make sure he
was still breathing at all.
I can’t remember how long we sat there, an
hour, two hours, or five… The rainstorm outside had turned into a
raging thunderstorm. At the first clap of thunder Frodo’s body
shuddered in a terrifying spasm, and he gave a hoarse cry of pain and
fear. After that he kept twitching, rolling his head from side to side,
and moaning deliriously. We anxiously tried to comfort him, but he did
not seem to notice we were there.
Then Lord Elrond entered the room. I knew it
was him even though I had never met him before. There was an air of
authority over him as he stood there, tall and fair, and smiled sadly
at us. “I fear it is time for you to go now, young masters. I must see
to Frodo’s wound and I shall not be needing your presence. But I shall
let you know if anything changes. Bilbo, perhaps you can take your
young kinsmen to your chambers and read some of that exquisite poetry
to them. I will send Linnadín to you with some supper.”
“If you don’t mind, Mr. Elrond sir,” said Sam. “I’ll just wait outside until you’re done.”
Elrond smiled gently at him. “If you wish, Master Samwise.”
We all bowed awkwardly to the Elf-Lord as we
exited the room. Sam sat down beside the door, while Bilbo slowly
headed for his room, leaning heavily on his walking stick and looking
very old and exhausted.
Pippin and I hesitated as we stood in the
corridor, looking at each other questioningly. Sam gazed up at us and
seemed to read our minds. “Why don’t you go and keep Mr. Bilbo company,
sirs. I’m sure Mr. Frodo wouldn’t mind. I’ll stay here.”
I nodded. “All right. Thank you, Sam.”
Pippin and I hurried over to Bilbo and lead the old Hobbit back to his room.”