The Magnificent Speaks
Merry struggled to keep his emotions at bay, while Rosie (who seemed to
disappear and reappear with refreshments at appropriate times) handed
out her famous cookies to the children. Athelas took three, but wasn't
so easily distracted. It was just beginning to get exiting!
"Go on Da, please!"
Merry looked into the eyes of his daughter. She was still so young…
Younger than Pippin had been on that faithful day where his story was
stuck now. Would she understand?
Pippin suddenly chuckled. "Hey Merry, do you know this is actually the
first time I've seen you tell something to Athelas without her
Sam laughed out loud and a few of the older children giggled. Athelas
blushed at the remark but smiled at her youngest uncle, who grinned at
Merry was also grinning. Pippin had guessed what he was thinking. And
he was right. This was the only way he could tell his child of the
dangers of the world and make her listen. If there was a way for her to
understand, this was the one. He straightened his back. "All right
then, I'll continue.
I was the first of us to wake the next morning. I woke up at four,
probably from all the exitement I was feeling. I got up and started
making preparations for both breakfast and packing, but after a few
minutes I heard a voice behind me. "Let me help you with that, Mr.
Merry, and you go and put the packs on the ponies and all."
Sam took the frying pan out of my hands. I laughed. "Do you ever sleep,
Sam?" I would learn on our journey that Sam was a very light sleeper,
ever watchful and started awake at the slightest sound. A good thing
with so many dangers surrounding. But at that time, I didn't think
about it and was just glad I had someone to help me.
I had wondered if he was upset with me about me 'betraying' him to Frodo. I stood around clumsily. "Look, Sam, I…"
A great noise echoed through the kitchen as I bumped into the rack with
pans and a few of them clattered on the stone floor. We both dropped on
our knees to pick them up. Pippin's sleepy head appeared out of the
doorway. He looked so comical, with his blurry eyes and messy hair, we
couldn't help but laugh out loud. Pippin grimaced and disappeared again.
"You were saying, Mr. Merry?" asked Sam.
"Well… about me giving you away to Frodo… I didn't mean to… I hope you…"
Sam shook his head. "Don't mention it, Mr. Merry. It's as you said: no more secrets."
Had I said that? I believed I had only thought it. I looked at Sam, who
looked back with a glint in his eye. "Now, if you pardon me, please get
out of the kitchen before you do any more damage." He waved the frying
pan in mock threat, and I hurried out, thinking that there was more to
this shy gardener than meets the eye.
I had expected Fatty, or at least Frodo, to wake up from the noise, but
as I opened the door to my cousin's room, he was still fast asleep. I
looked at him for a moment, and the thought crossed my mind that this
might be the last time for a long while that Frodo would sleep so
peacefully. I sighed and pounded on the door. Frodo bolted upright
almost immediately and stared at me with large, bewildered eyes. I
could see he had been dreaming, and it took some time for him to focus.
"All right!" he cried. "What is it?"
"What is it!" I cried. "It is time to get up. It is half past four and
very foggy. Come on! Sam is already getting breakfast ready. Even
Pippin is up."
That remark seemed to give him strength to get out of bed, and he silently dressed while I urged him to go and wake Fatty up.
It took us a little longer than I expected to get ready, but finally we
set off to the Forest. I looked back at the dimly lit windows of
Crickhollow and tried to see the Hall in the distance, wondering when I
would see it again.
At the Hedge we said goodbye to Fatty. I was a little disappointed he
would not be coming with us, but on the other hand I was glad. Now it
was just us. As much as we all loved Fatty, and he loved us, the four
of us were some sort of family. Ever since I was a child, I had looked
at Frodo and Pippin as more than just cousins. They were more like
brothers. We were a family. Sam seemed to belong with us ever since
Frodo came to live at Bag End. Of all the people I knew, these were the
ones I wanted to go on adventure with.
When I closed the gate behind us and we entered the Old Forest, I felt
strangely divided, so to speak. Here I was, leaving behind everything I
knew, to go on some wild adventure. Behind this gate lay the world as I
knew it, before me lay a dangerous and unknown future. For a moment I
hesitated. Then I saw Frodo, silhouetted in the mist and looking at me,
and my doubts were pushed aside. He needed me.
"There!" I said firmly, not knowing whether I was talking to myself or
the others. "You have left the Shire, and are now outside, and on the
edge of the Old Forest."
As we rode on, I told Pippin some stories I knew about the Forest,
although I don't know why I told them, as they were not very comforting
to him, considering we were IN the Forest at that very moment.
When I had finished my story, Pippin, and the others, seemed even more
apprehensive. And I must admit I, too, felt uncomfortable, as the
enmity of the Forest towards us became almost tangible. I kept
cheerful, though, I figured showing my uncertainty would not get us any
further. I was the one who knew the Forest, after all, and I felt it
was my duty to get us through. I didn't know of what use I could be
later on, but for now, Frodo would be able to rely on me to lead them
this far. With this in mind, I led them on, looking back every now and
then. Frodo seemed to be the least troubled of all. He did not look
comfortable, of course, but he also looked at me in a way I knew he
trusted me. The others did look rather doubtful. Sam seemed concerned
and Pippin downright scared. He suddenly called out to the trees,
begging them to let him through, and I felt my stomach squirm. Don't do
that, Pip, you silly Took! I wanted to yell to him. But I kept my tone
casual and my words polite. If I hadn't done either one of those
things, he would be upset even more.
It was far from easy, finding our way through. Every now and then I
felt my pony stumble on some sort of obstacle, and I kept looking
around to see if I could find anything that I recognised from my
previous visit. At a certain point I nearly panicked. We had gotten to
a place I did not know at all. Could it be? Did the trees in this
forest really move and did they deliberately make me lose the way? Or
was my memory just this bad and had I taken a wrong way somewhere? If
so, how could I get us back? I looked around frantically, realising too
late I should try to look a little less concerned. But Pippin, reading
my face correctly, had already spotted it. "It has not taken you long
to lose us," he said. I cringed at his words, casual as he tried to
make them sound. I looked up high, as if looking for help there - and
saw a small gap in the roof of leaves. And under it: the Bonfire Glade.
My panic lessened, and I could now see other things I could recognise.
Riding on to the Glade, the thought struck me that if these trees
indeed moved, we would have a long way ahead of us yet, and my
knowledge of the Forest wasn't going to be so helpful to us after all."
The children all released their breaths at the same time, it seemed.
Even being the children of the leading characters in this story, they
were still gripped by the exitement and tension of its telling. All the
previous versions of it they had heard seemed to be swept away from
their minds, and they listened as if hearing it for the first time.
Merry examined the eager faces of his audience for a while, before taking a deep breath and continuing.
"On the Glade, we could not feel the ill of the Forest on us so
heavily, and that gave us courage. But once we were back beneath the
trees again, it seemed to have doubled. Or maybe we just felt like
that, I don't know. We were all starting to get more anxious, and I
started to fear that our noble Quest would not even make it out of the
Forest. Still, I kept my head up and pretended not to feel the tension,
not to hear the strained silence.
That is until Frodo started singing.
When we were children, Frodo told me to sing a song when I was afraid
or sad. "Where words fail, music speaks," he often said. One of Bilbo's
When I heard Frodo's clear voice singing - muffled by the strange,
thick air so that I would not have understood the words, had I not
known the song - my heart sank. This meant that he, too, was afraid.
And he had a right to be, I thought angrily. He trusted me to find the
way through and I failed him! What a fool you are, Merry Brandybuck!
You are just as scared as the others! But I would die before showing
it. What would we be then? Four scared little lost Hobbits. That would
not get us anywhere.
It only got worse. At lunch on a tall hill, I looked out for
directions. There was still much forest left to go through, and I would
have to make sure that we would not lose our way and end up by the
Withywindle, or worse: the Barrow-downs.
But my first fear was already fulfilled: after hours of wandering
around I finally saw something I knew; but I wasn't sure I was happy
with it or not. The Withywindle river. As I went to explore I found a
path, and that gave me some hope. Perhaps this river wasn't so bad as
everyone said. I led us on, hoping that the end of the path would show
us nothing but the way out.
We were leading the ponies now, and walking; it was too difficult to
ride on the oneven ground full of obstacles. The afternoon seemed to be
nearing, and it was extremely hot. The air itself seemed to be
sweating, flies were simply everywhere.
I felt more tired than ever before in my life. It was as if there was
some sticky substance on the insides of my eyelids, that made it
extremely difficult to open them again when I blinked. My head fell
down several times before I jerked awake again temporarily; I stumbled
every now and then. Then I tripped over something I recognised as
Pippin. He had fallen flat on his face on the path. I nudged him, and
we crawled to a shadowy place against a willow, before falling fast
I jerked awake when I suddenly heard a snapping click beside me. I was
in a little hollow under the willow, and the presence of the tree was
so strong I could almost hear it think. In a split second, I tried to
wriggle out; but while I was doing that, I felt an iron grip take hold
of me. It was like my waist was in between a pair of scissors. I could
not move, and even if I could, I would not have dared.
I could see Pippin through a tiny hole in the wood. He was not moving,
either. Was he being held as well, was he just too afraid or… no, I
could not think about that.
Where were Frodo and Sam? Would they come and save us?
After a while, I could hear voices coming near me. I felt clammy hands
grab my feet and pull, and hear Sam's groan as he tried to open the
crack, but it was no use. I heard their voices mumble, but the sound
was so muffled I could not make out what they said. One pair of feet
moved away and came back. There was a silence of seconds that seemed to
take ages. Then, the grip of the tree tightened, and an excruciating
pain in my side told me that they were trying to force the tree to let
I did not know whether the voice I heard was only in my mind, but at
that point, I didn't really care. "Tell them to put it out!" it said.
I kept my silence, and did not know if I did it out of bravery or fear.
The tree squeezed harder and I let out a scream of pain. "Tell them!"
the tree hissed, "tell them or I'll squeeze you in two!" I heard Pippin
scream in fear or pain beside me.
"Put it out!" I yelled, not sure if they could hear me. "Put it out!"
I heard Frodo yell something back I could not understand. I just kept
telling them to put it out, each word with immense trouble and pain.
Finally, the tree loosened its grip a little, and I assumed they had
put the fire out. But I could not hear them anymore now. I kept very
silent, and tried to move my feet. Perhaps I could get out. But instead
of getting out, more of me was getting in. I could hear the tree make a
sound like he was laughing, and resisted the urge to try and hit it; I
did not want my feet to be chopped off.
It was still quiet and I was just wondering if maybe they had given up
and moved on - a thought that pained me even more than the tree's grip
- when I heard them come back. I immediately scolded myself for
thinking Frodo would ever leave me behind, but stopped when I heard
another voice, much lower than a Hobbit's voice. It was singing words I
could make out, but not understand. There was something in that voice
that made it different from any other I had ever heard. I wasn't afraid
anymore all of a sudden. The feeling came back in my limbs and I could
move again. Then I felt two strong hands seize my legs and I was pulled
out with surprisingly little difficulty.
I blinked against the light as I looked into the eyes of the man before
me. I immediately realised he was old. Older than anything I had ever
I heard Pippin fall on the ground beside me and got up with some
difficulty to look at him. He was wide-eyed and pale, but seemed to be
alright. My gaze wandered to Sam, who looked puzzled and immensely
relieved at the same time, and Frodo, whose hair and clothes were damp
- for a moment I wondered why, but I forgot to ask.
We thanked Tom Bombadil, because that's who it was of course, in
stammering voices, and followed him as he led the way to his house. Sam
explained to Pippin and me what had happened. Frodo just walked on
beside him, sometimes looking up at us with something in his eyes I
could only describe as immense grattitude.
Then we walked into a glade and looked upon the most welcoming house we had ever seen in our lives."