A Short Cut to Mushrooms
In the morning Frodo woke refreshed. He was lying in a bower made by a living tree with branches laced and drooping to the ground; his bed was of fern and grass, deep and soft and strangely fragrant. The sun was shining through the fluttering leaves, which were still green upon the tree. He jumped up and went out.
Sam was sitting on the grass near the edge of the wood. Pippin was standing studying the sky and weather. There was no sign of the Elves.
‘They have left us fruit and drink, and bread,’ said Pippin. ‘Come and have your breakfast. The bread tastes almost as good as it did last night. I did not want to leave you any, but Sam insisted.’
Frodo sat down beside Sam and began to eat. ‘What is the plan for today?’ asked Pippin.
‘To walk to Bucklebury as quickly as possible,’ answered Frodo, and gave his attention to the food.
‘Do you think we shall see anything of those Riders?’ asked Pippin cheerfully. Under the morning sun the prospect of seeing a whole troop of them did not seem very alarming to him.
‘Yes, probably,’ said Frodo, not liking the reminder. ‘But I hope to get across the river without their seeing us.’
‘Did you find out anything about them from Gildor?’
‘Not much – only hints and riddles,’ said Frodo evasively. ‘Did you ask about the sniffing?’
‘We didn’t discuss it,’ said Frodo with his mouth full.
‘You should have. I am sure it is very important.’
‘In that case I am sure Gildor would have refused to explain it,’ said Frodo sharply. ‘And now leave me in peace for a bit! I don’t want to answer a string of questions while I am eating. I want to think!’
‘Good heavens!’ said Pippin. ‘At breakfast?’ He walked away towards the edge
of the green.
From Frodo’s mind the bright morning – treacherously bright, he thought – had not banished the fear of pursuit; and he pondered the words of Gildor. The merry voice of Pippin came to him. He was running on the green turf and singing.
‘No! I could not!’ he said to himself. ‘It is one thing to take my young friends walking over the Shire with me, until we are hungry and weary, and food and bed are sweet. To take them into exile, where hunger and weariness may have no cure, is quite another – even if they are willing to come. The inheritance is mine alone. I don’t think I ought even to take Sam.’ He looked at Sam Gamgee, and discovered that Sam was watching him.
‘Well, Sam!’ he said. ‘What about it? I am leaving the Shire as soon as ever I can – in fact I have made up my mind now not even to wait a day at Crickhollow, if it can be helped.’
‘Very good, sir!’
‘You still mean to come with me?’
‘It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. ‘It is already dangerous. Most likely neither of us will come back.’
‘If you don’t come back, sir, then I shan’t, that’s certain,’ said Sam. ‘Don’t you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Rulers try to stop him, they’ll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed.’
‘Who are they, and what are you talking about?’
‘The Elves, sir. We had some talk last night; and they seemed to know you were going away, so I didn’t see the use of denying it. Wonderful folk, Elves, sir! Wonderful!’
‘They are,’ said Frodo. ‘Do you like them still, now you have had a closer view?’
‘They seem a bit above my likes and dislikes, so to speak,’ answered Sam slowly.