Part Fourteen

Today Mr. Frodo and I decided to take a short holiday in Ithilian. We had to get away from the masses. Merry and Pip are going with us. Not sure if they really understand the reason behind this. It is difficult when it was just the two of us for nearly 2 months to suddenly be thrust into a group of thousands. It was starting to feel stuffy, like a trap, all these people close in around us. Felt like I couldn't breathe at times.

Merry and Pippin had to get permission from the kings to go with us. That too sets them apart from us. They no longer have the freedom to just walk away from what they are doing. They are bound to the kings, and that duty comes first. Duty, a strange word, used so many ways, but always there is a price extracted. And what prices were extracted from Mr. Frodo, I do so hope he will recover from them. This holiday should do him some good. With fresh air and food, and no burden to bear I should be able to get him looking like his old self again, in next to no time. I made him Rosehip tea yesterday, but he has regained very little of his appetite. I do wish he would eat more. So thin and drawn he is, and so very pale. My Old Gaffer use to say that ìTime heals all woundsî we will see.

The flowers and birds are more plentiful then they were earlier this spring. Glad to see that the Gondor's gardens were not too badly damaged by the battles. Orcs have this terrible habit of slashing and burning as they go. They must have been driven to the battle to fast to spend time damaging. Still you can tell where they camped. The area surrounding these sights are burned and blackened, but already the fireweed and new grasses are starting to fill these areas back in again. It shouldn't take long for the wild flowers to recover. Things are such a marvel to me. How blue the sky is, how clear the water, how green the trees and grasses, how full the wild roses bushes, how bright the sunshine all these things are such a joy to behold.

In the Gardens of Ithilian The flowers bloom, the rivers run. The dappled sunshine through the leaves The smell of moss among the trees

As we walked I started to recognize some of the places that we visited before. We are camped again at the stream where we washed with such abandon. I think we will stay here for a couple of days and lie in the sunshine. That may bring back some color into Mr. Frodo's cheeks. I will leave off writing since I need to gather some firewood and some herbs. Sure is nice to be able to leave Mr. Frodo for a moment without worrying about something or someone springing on him out of the trees. I will trust Merry and Pip to keep him safe while I go a-gathering.

I wonder if there is fish in that stream. And how quickly I could make some poles.

Part Fifteen

I had forgotten how much I had really enjoyed camping. Last night laying under the stars has brought back the memories of camping with Tom and Jolly in the Shire. I remember how we use to camp on a hill about ten miles from the Cottons. There was pine trees all around it (they make the softest bedding material). The wind would make the trees sound like they were moaning as it blew through. And then when it would got really dark at night, we would sit around telling ghost stories to each other. We would make up the most outlandish tales and grab each others arms. How we could make each other jump sometimes. Some nights we would just talk about the stars and the clouds and the elves.

But during the day, it was always about Mr. Bilbo. We would pretend that we were warriors and bash each other with sticks that we pretended were swords. We would come home all black and blue and Mrs. Cotton would scold us about how hard we were hitting each other. We would pretend we were elves and climb up into trees, well that ended for me when I fell out of the apple tree and broke my arm. I remember it hanging all crooked and everything, didn't really hurt until Dad had to set it back into place. Never liked heights after that.

Back then we never thought where an adventure would lead to. I thought it was all about finding treasure, and "fighting" was just words in a story. Goblins and wolves were the worst things you could run into and elves were just beautiful creatures of legends. I thought we would go to Rivendell and then go home. That was to be my There and Back Again story. Not a half a year of fear and exile, without hope or happiness..I wonder will this journey forever haunt my memories? Will it always put a twist to my happiness? I no longer feel like writing tonight. Maybe tomorrow?

Well we tried out our fishing poles today. Merry was clearly the most proficent at the sport. He has supplied us with enough fish for several meals ( I smoked most of his catches). Mr. Frodo and I only caught a couple a piece. And Pippin? Poor Pip. My sides still hurt from laughing. He didn't catch anything with his pole, well at least not a fish, and not with a hook and line. Its like this:

Pippin after an hour or two of quietly fishing, soon got rather impatient after seeing Merry pulling out one after another. He decided he was going to try another tactic. So he took out his whittling knife and proceeded to turn the beautiful fishing pole, I made him, into a spear. Well that might have worked...if....

If he knew how to spear fish. He sauntered off quite merrily up the stream and we settled back to watch his fishing prowess.

He saw a rather large rock in the middle of the stream that he wanted to stand on, but first he had to get to it. He decided the easily way was to use some of the rocks as stepping stones (why he just didn't wade to it is beyond me) but there he was almost to his rock when his feet hit a bit of damp moss, and KERSPLASH...he landing flat on his back in the water. Well Merry and I broke out into fits of laughter. But our Mr. Pip just stood up shook himself off and proceeded to the next step stone. He must have seen something out of the corner of his eye because he turned his back on us. And suddenly even Mr. Frodo was rolling on the ground next to us. The entire backside of Pippin was covered in the greyest clay mud you have ever seen. It was all over his clothes. Oh how we howled. It was then that he raised his spear and shook it at us again...which set off more gales of laughter for there...on the end of his spear...was a Bullfrog...

The great hunter had speared a frog..Suddenly he broke out into that foolish grin of his, and waded back to us, frog and all... Threatening me with his "I caught it..so you have to cook it" attitude.

Hmmm...Now I am stuck pondering...How do you cook a frog?

Part Sixteen

Tomorrow we return back to the encampment. Strider has sent Legolas and Gimli in search of us. We have spent three days in the garden and in one more week it will be time to head on towards Minas Tirith for the May Day coronation of Strider as king. I still can't believe that, he is so different than the man we met in Bree last fall. This 'king' was disguised well. We have about a week of travel and then we will enter the great city. Legolas assures us that there are fewer people back at the camp. Most have either gone back to the city or made sure that the Easterlings and Harads have returned to their homelands. Strider has shown a kind of mercy to the people who were tricked by Sauron. However, no mercy has been show the orcs and trolls. What few of them survived after the fall of Barad-dur have gone into hiding into the mountains and are still being hunted.

Today was cloudy and a gentle rain has been falling. So we spent the time telling tales of our journeys.

Pippin told us about all the towers and walls of Minas Tirith. So much stone and so few gardens. He did talk about one garden in particular. He was complimenting its upkeep, even in the time of war. But he said he was surprised to find a dead tree in it. He said it was ancient looked be there for hundreds of years. He said Gandalf would tell him very little about it just keep repeating rhymes when he asked. Now, that sounds like old Gandalf, all riddles. He told us how Mr. Faramir was wounded trying to bring back the men from Osgiliath, and how his own father nearly burned him alive, thinking he was dead. Seems that a madness had struck the old Stewart. Well one thing Mr. Faramir will be happy for. He did not want to rule Gondor after his father, and he wont have to now. I wonder what will happen to the Captain. He was a good man and so kind to us. I am so glad to hear that he survived the war.

Merry told tales of a different sort. He told about the treeless plains of the Rohan. Grass as far as the eyes could see. He told about a young woman who joined the Riders of Rohan. How he spent the dark days and nights perched behind her saddle and never even knew that she wasn't a man. A woman fighting? He tells about the horns blowing and the death of the King of Rohan at sunrise. Then he started to tell that about the last battle between Eowyn (that was the ladies name) and himself and how they slew the Witch King. ButÖFrodo shivered when he heard the name and had to walk away from the circle of tales for a while. When he was away I told Merry and Pip about seeing the host ride out from Minas Ithil. Tried to put into words about his reaction to the call put forth by the Nazgul the pain, the temptation, and the fear. But my words fall short. I do not know if Mr. Frodo will ever be able to express it. Merry finished his tale shivering himself when he describes the cold agony of his arm, after stabbing the creature. Pippin and I glanced at each other and let Merry go after Mr. Frodo. Maybe they will find a bit of comfort talking to each other. Pip and I sat staring at the fire for quite sometime waiting for them to return. Gimli and Legolas said nothing. Just listened quietly.

Speaking of stories. I am hoping to see Linorian when we get back to the camp. I think his song of Frodo falters just before the end. But as I reread it I see what he has done. He has only written about what I have put into the journal. He has no way of knowing about the events that took place when I neglected to write. I wonder if he will think I am being too critical. But he did say he would teach me to play it. Maybe between the two of us we can set it to rights. Legolas has told me that Linorian is still at the camp, awaiting our return. So maybe the offer wasn't made in jest. I hope it wasn't.

One more night of solitude, and than a return to the masses, maybe it won't be quite so bad after all.