return of the king
same old: additional replacements in the text (mainly adding a character's name so you know who is speaking) are marked by [ ] brackets, and exclusions (again, nothing drastic, just the omissions of description etc. not necessary when trying only to highlight quotations) are marked ... with an ellipses.
here follows excerpts from the great ending of lotr epic, the return of the king. i got a little overzealous with certain moments (ie bergil) with this book as well, and as such, rotk becomes a two page event.
remember, if you haven't read the books and don't want to spoil the fun in store, please, stop reading this page now, for the love of all that which is holy.
all this text is copyrighted specifically to the 1965 ballantine book series, and consequently to the estate of j.r.r. tolkien, if there be a problem, sweet macaroni, contact me.
pippin looked out from the shelter of gandalf's cloak. he wondered if he was awake or still sleeping, still in the swift moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great ride began. the dark world was rushing by and the wind sang loudly in his ears. he could see nothing but the wheeling stars, and away to his right vast shadows against the sky where the mountains of the south marched past. sleepily he tried to reckon the times and stages of their journey, but his memory was drowsy and uncertain.
'...what is he? a dwarf out of the mountains in the north? we wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless they be mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.'
'i will vouch for him before the seat of denethor,' said gandalf. 'and as for valour, that cannot be computed by stature. he has passed through more battles and perils than you have, ingold, though you be twice his height; and he comes now from the storming of isengard, of which we bear tidings, and great weariness is on him, or i would wake him. his name is peregrin , a very valiant man.'
'man?' cried pippin, now thoroughly roused. 'man! indeed not! i am a hobbit and no more valiant than i am a man, save perhaps now and again by necessity. do not let gandalf deceive you!'
then pippin looked the old man in the eye, for pride stirred strangely within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in that cold voice. 'little service, no doubt, will so great a lord of men think to find in a hobbit, a halfling from the northern shire; yet as it is, i will offer it, in payment of my debt.' twitching aside his grey cloak, pippin drew forth his small sword and laid it at denethor's feet.
a pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed over the old man's face; but he bent his head and held out his hand, laying the shards of the horn aside, 'give me the weapon.' he said.
'take the hilts,' said gandalf, 'and speak after the lord if you are resolved on this.'
'i am.' said pippin.
the old man laid the sword along his lap, and pippin put his hand to the hilts, and said slowly after denethor:
here do i swear fealty and service to gondor, and to the lord and steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need of plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. so say i, peregrin, son of paladin, of the shire of the halflings.'
pippin sat down, but he could not take his eyes from the old lord. was it so, or had he only imagined it, but as he spoke of the stones a sudden gleam of his eye had glanced upon pippin's face?
there were three high narrow windows that looked northward over the great curve of anduin, still shrouded in mists, towards the emyn muil and rauros far away. pippin had to climb on the bench to look out over the deep stone sill.
'are you angry with me, gandalf?' he said, as their guide went out and closed the door. 'i did the best i could.'
'you did indeed!' said gandalf, laughing suddenly; and he came and stood beside pippin, putting his arm around the hobbit's shoulders, and gazing out the window. pippin glanced in some wonder at the face now close behind his own, for the sound of the laugh had been gay and merry. yet in the wizard's face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to go forth.
'indeed you did you best,' said the wizard; 'and i hope that it may be long before you find yourself in such a tight corner again between two such terrible old men. ...'
'nine o'clock we'd call it in the shire,' said pippin aloud to himself. 'just the time for a nice breakfast by the open window in spring sunshine. and how i should like breakfast! do these people ever have it, or is it over? and when do they have dinner, and where?'
'er, well,' said pippin, 'if i may venture to say so, rather a burning question in my mind at present is, well, what about breakfast and all that? i mean, what are the mealtimes, if you understand me, and where is the dining-room, if there is one? and the inns? i looked, but never a one could i see as we rode up, though i had been borne up by the hope of a draught of ale as soon as we came to the homes of wise and courtly men.'
beregond looked at him gravely... 'then you have not yet eaten today?'
'well, yes, to speak courtesy, yes,' said pippin. 'but no more than a cup of wine and a white cake or two by the kindness of your lord; but he racked me for it with an hour of questions, and that is hungry work.'
beregond laughed. 'at the table small men may do the greater deed, we say. but you have broken your fast as well as any man in the citadel, and with greater honour. this is a fortress and a tower of guard and is now in posture of war. we rise ere the sun, and take a morsel in the grey light, and go to our duties at the opening hour. but do not despair!' he laughed again, seeing the dismay in pippin's face. 'those who have had heavy duty take somewhat to refresh their strength in the mid morning. ...'
'one moment!' pippin said blushing. 'greed, or hunger by your courtesy, put it out of my mind. but gandalf, mithrandir as you call him, asked me to see to his horse- shadowfax, a greet steed of rohan, and the apple of the king's eye, i am told, though he had given him to mithrandir for his services. i think his new master loves the beast better than he loves many men, and if his good will is of any value to this city, you will treat shadowfax with all honour: with greater kindness than you have treated this hobbit if possible.'
'i will not hide from you, master peregrin,' said beregond, 'that to us you look almost as one of our children, a lad of nine summers or so; and yet you have endured perils and seen marvels that few of our greybeards could boast of. i thought it was the whim of our lord to take a noble page, after the manner of the kings of old, they say. but i see that is is not so, and you must pardon my foolishness.'
'i do,' said pippin. 'though you are not far wrong. i am still little more than a boy in the reckoning of my own people, and it will be four years yet before i "come of age," as we say i the shire. but do not bother about me. come and look and tell me what i can see.'
'i shall be glad to come,' said pippin. 'i am lonely to tell you the truth. i left my best friend behind in rohan, and i have had no one to talk to or jest with. perhaps i could really join you company? ...'
there had already been much talk in the citadel about mithrandir's companion and his long closeting with the lord; and rumor declared that a prince of halflings had come out of the north to offer allegiance to gondor and five thousand swords. and some said that when the riders came from rohan each would bring behind him a halfling warrior, small maybe, but doughty.
people stared much as he passed. to his face men were gravely courteous, saluting him after the manner of gondor with bowed head and hands upon the breast; but behind him he heard many calls, as those out of doors cried to others within to come and see the prince of halflings, the companion of mithrandir. many used some other tongue than the common speech, but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by ernil i pheriannath and knew that his title had gone down before him into the city.
boys were playing among the pillars, the only children pippin had seen in minas tirith, and he stopped to look at them. presently one of them sprang across the grass and came into the street, followed by several others. there he stood in front of pippin, looking him up and down.
greetings,' said the lad. 'where do you come from? you are a stranger in the city.'
'i was,' said pippin; 'but they say i have become a man of gondor.'
'oh come!' said the lad. 'then we are all men here. but how old are you, and what is your name? i am ten years already, and shall soon be five feet. i am taller than you. but then my father is a guard, one of the tallest. what is your father?'
'which question should i answer first?' said pippin. 'my father farms the lands round whitwell near tuckborough in the shire. i am nearly twenty-nine, so i pass you there; though i am but four feet and not likely to grow anymore, save sideways.'
'twenty-nine!' said the lad an whistled. 'why, you are quite old! as old as my uncle iorlas. still,' he added hopefully, 'i wager i could stand you on your head or lay you on your back.'
'maybe you could, if i let you.' said pippin with a laugh. 'and maybe i could do the same to you: we know some wrestling tricks in my little country. where, let me tell you, i am considered uncommonly large and strong; and i have never allowed anyone to stand me on my head. so if it came to a trial and nothing else would serve i might have to kill you. for when you are older, you will learn that folk are not always what they seem; and though you may have taken me for a soft stranger-lad and easy prey, let me warn you: i am not, i am a halfling hard, bold and wicked!' pippin pulled such a grim face that the boy stepped back a pace, but at once he returned with clenched fists and the light of battle in his eyes.
bergil proved a good comrade, the best company pippin had had since he parted with merry, and soon they were laughing and talking gaily as they went about the streets, heedless of the many glances that men gave them.
'what is the time?' said pippin yawning.
'past the second hour,' said gandalf. 'time to get up and make yourself presentable. you are summoned to the lord of the city to learn your new duties.'
'and will he provide breakfast?'
'no! i have provided it: all that you will get till noon. food is now doled out by order.'
pippin looked ruefully at the small loaf and (he thought) very inadequate pat of butter which was set out for him, beside a cup of thin milk. 'why did you bring me here?' he said.
'you know quite well,' said gandalf. 'to keep you out of mischief; and if you do not like being here, you can remember that you brought it on yourself.'
pippin said no more.
'i thought, sir, that you would tell me my duties.'
'i will, when i learn what you are fit for,' said denethor. 'but that i shall learn soonest, maybe, if i keep you beside me. the esquire of my chamber has begged leave to go to the out-garrison, so you shall take his place for a while. you shall wait on me, bear errands, and talk to me, if war and council leave me any leisure. can you sing?'
'yes,' said pippin. 'well, yes, well enough or my own people. but we have no songs fit for great halls and evil times, lord. we seldom sing of anything more terrible than wind or rain. and most of my songs are about things that make us laugh; or about food and drink, of course.'
pippin's heart sank. he did not relish the idea of singing any song of the shire to the lord of minas tirith, certainly not the comic ones he knew best; they were too, well, rustic for such an occasion. he was however spared the ordeal for the present. he was not commanded to sing.
... pippin soon found himself arrayed in strange garments, all of black and silver. he had a small hauberk, its rings forged of steel, maybe, yet black as jet; and a high-crowned helm with small raven wings on either side, set with a silver star in the centre of the circlet. above the mail was a short surcoat but broidered on the breast in silver with the token of the tree. his old clothes were folded and put away, but he was permitted to keep the grey cloak of lórien, though not to wear it when on duty. he looked now, had he known it, verily ernil i pheriannath, the prince of the halflings, that folk had called him; but he felt uncomfortable. and the gloom began to weigh down on his spirits.
already it seemed years to pippin since he had sat there before, in some half-forgotten time when he had still been a hobbit, a light hearted wanderer touched little by the perils he had passed through. now he was one small soldier in a city preparing for great assault, clad in the proud but sombre manner of the guard.
in some other time and place pippin might have been pleased with his new array, but he knew now that he was taking part in no play; he was in deadly peril. the hauberk was burdensome, and the helm weighed heavily upon his head. his cloak he had cast aside upon the seat. he turned his tired gaze away from the darkling fields below and yawned, and then he sighed.
pippin pressed forward as they passed under the lamp beneath the gate-arch, and when he saw the pale face of faramir he caught his breath. it was the face of one who has been assailed by a great fear or anguish, but has mastered it and is now quiet. proud and grave he stood for a moment as he spoke to the guard, and pippin gazing at him saw how closely he resembled his brother boromir- whom he had liked from the first, admiring the great man's lordly but kindly manner. yet suddenly for faramir his heart was strangely moved with a feeling that he had not known before. here was one with an air of high nobility such as aragorn at times revealed, less high perhaps, yet also less incalculable and remote: one of the kings of men born into a later time, but touched with the wisdom and sadness of the eldar race. he knew now why beregond spoke his name with love. he was a captain that men would follow, that he would follow, even under the shadow of the black wings.
'tell me,' [pippin] said, 'is there any hope? for frodo, i mean, or at least mostly for frodo.'
gandalf put his hand on pippin's head. 'there never was much hope,' he answered. 'just a fool's hope, as i have been told. and when i heard of cirith ungol-' he broke off and strode to the window, as if his eyes could pierce the night in the east. 'cirith ungol!' he muttered.
'but,' said pippin.
'but what?' said gandalf. 'only one but will i allow tonight.'
'no,' said gandalf. 'but [faramir] still lived when i left him. yet he is resolved to stay with the rearguard, lest the retreat over pelennor become a rout. he may, perhaps, hold his men together long enough, but i doubt it. he is pitted against a foe too great. for one has come that i feared.'
'not- not the dark lord?' cried pippin, forgetting his place in his terror.
denethor laughed bitterly. 'nay, not yet, master peregrin! he will not come save when all is won. he uses others as his weapons. ...'
no hours so dark had pippin known, not even in the clutches of the uruk-hai. it was his duty to wait upon the lord, and wait he did, forgotten it seemed, standing in the door of the unlit chamber, mastering his own fears as best he could. and as he watched, it seemed to him that denethor grew old before his eyes, as if something had snapped in his proud will, and his stern mind was over-thrown. grief maybe had wrought it, and remorse. he saw tears on that once tearless face, more unbearable than wrath.
'do not weep, lord,' he stammered. 'perhaps [faramir] will get well. have you asked gandalf?'
'comfort me not with wizards!' said denethor. 'the fool's hope has failed. the enemy has found it, and his power waxes; he sees our very thoughts, and all we do is ruinous.'
'farewell!' [denethor] said. 'farewell, peregrin son of paladin. your service has been short, and now it is drawing to an end. i release you from the little that remains. go now, and die in what way seems best to you, and with whom you will, even that friend whose folly brought you to this death. send for my servants and then go. farewell.'
'i will not say farewell, my lord,' said pippin kneeling. and then suddenly hobbit-like once more, he stood up and looked the old man in the eyes. 'i will take your leave sir,' he said; 'for i want to see gandalf very much indeed. but he is no fool; and i will not think of dying until he despairs of life. but from my word and your service i do not wish to be released while you live. and if they come at last to the citadel, i hope to be here and stand beside you and earn perhaps the arms that you have given me.'
'here we will wait,' [denethor] said. 'but send not for the embalmers. bring us wood quick to burn, and lay it all about us, and beneath; and pour oil upon it. and when i bed you thrust in a torch. do this and speak no more to me. farewell!'
'by your leave, lord!' said pippin and turned and fled in terror from the deathly house. 'poor faramir!' he thought. 'i must find gandalf. poor faramir! quite likely he needs medicine more than he needs tears. oh, where can i find gandalf? in the thick of things i suppose; and he will have no time to spare for dying men or madmen.'
merry wanted somebody to talk to, and he thought of pippin. but that only increased his restlessness. poor pippin, shut up in the great city of stone, lonely and afraid. merry wished he was a tall rider like éomer and could blow a horn or something and go galloping to his rescue.
'gandalf, gandalf!' cried pippin, and shadowfax halted.
'what are you doing here?' said gandalf. 'is it not a law in the city that those who wear the black and silver must stay in the citadel, unless their lord gives them leave?'
'he has,' said pippin. 'he sent me away. but i am frightened. something terrible may happen up there. the lord is out of his mind, i think. i am afraid he will kill himself, and kill faramir too. can't you do something?'
gandalf looked through the gaping gate, and already on the fields he heard the gathering sound of battle. he clenched his hand. 'i must go,' he said. 'the black rider is abroad, and he will bring ruin on us. i have no time.'
'denethor has gone to the tombs,' said pippin, 'and he has taken faramir, and he says we are all to burn, and he will not wait, and they are to make a pyre and burn him on it, and faramir as well. and he has sent men to fetch wood and oil. and i have told beregond, but i am afraid he won't dare leave his post: he is on guard. and what can he do anyway?' so pippin poured out his tale, reaching up and touching gandalf's knee with trembling hands. 'can't you save faramir?'
'well, merry! thank goodness i have found you!'
[merry] looked up and the mist before his eyes cleared a little. there was pippin! they were face to face in a narrow lane, and but for themselves it was empty. he rubbed his eyes.
'where is the king?' he said. 'and éowyn?' then he stumbled and sat down on a doorstep and began to weep again.
'they have gone up into the citadel,' said pippin. 'i think you must have fallen asleep on your feet and taken the wrong turning. when we found that you were not with them, gandalf sent me to look for you. poor old merry! how glad i am to see you again! but you are worn out, and i won't bother you with any talk. but tell me, are you hurt, or wounded?'
'no,' said merry. 'well, no, i don't think so. but i can't use my right arm, pippin, not since i stabbed him. and my sword burned all away like a piece of wood.'
pippin's face was anxious. 'well, you had better come with me as quick as you can,' he said. 'i wish i could carry you. you aren't fit to walk any further. they shouldn't have let you walk at all; but you must forgive them. so many dreadful things have happened in the city, merry, that one poor hobbit coming in from the battle is easily overlooked.'
'it's not always a misfortune being overlooked,' said merry. 'i was overlooked just now by- no, no, i can't speak of it. help me, pippin! it's all going dark again and my arm is so cold.'
'lean on me, merry lad!' said pippin. 'come now! foot by foot. it's not far.'
'are you going to bury me?' said merry.
'no, indeed!' said pippin, trying to sound cheerful, though his heart was wrung with fear and pity. 'no, we are going to the houses of healing.'
'i'd better wait here,' thought pippin. so he let merry sink gently down onto the pavement in a patch of sunlight, and then he sat down beside him, laying merry's head in his lap. he felt his body and limbs gently, and took his friend's hands in his own. the right hand felt icy to the touch.
... aragorn entered first and the others followed. and there at the door were two guards in the livery of the citadel; one tall, but the other scarce the height of a boy; and when he saw them he cried aloud in surprise and joy.
'strider! how splendid! do you know, i guessed it was you in the black ships. but they were all shouting corsairs and wouldn't listen to me. how did you do it?'
aragorn laughed and took the hobbit by the hand. 'well met indeed!' he said.
gandalf and pippin came to merry's room and there they found aragorn standing by the bed. 'poor old merry!' cried pippin, and he ran to the bedside, for it seemed to him that his friend looked worse, and a greyness was in his face, as if a weight of years of sorrow lay on him; and suddenly a fear seized pippin that merry would die.
pippin remained behind. 'was there ever any one like [aragorn]?' he said. 'except maybe gandalf, of course. i think must be related. my dear ass, you pack is lying by your bed, and you had it on when i met you. [aragorn] saw it all the time, of course. and anyway i have some stuff of my own. come on now! longbottom leaf it is. fill up while i run and see about some food. and then let's be easy for a bit. dear me! we tooks and brandybucks, we can't live long on the heights.'
... merry to his shame was not to go with them.
'you are not fit for such a journey,' said aragorn. 'but do not be ashamed. if you do no more in this war, you have already earned great honour. peregrin shall go and represent the shirefolk; do not grudge him his chance of peril, for though he has done much, as well as his fortune allowed him, he has yet to match your deed. but in truth all now are in like danger. though it may be our part to find a bitter end before the gate of mordor. if we do so, then you will come also to a last stand, either here or wherever the black tide overtakes you. farewell!'
and so despondently merry now stood and watched the mustering of the army. bergil was with him, and he also was downcast; for his father was to march leading a company of the men of the city: he could not rejoin the guard until his case was judged. in that same company pippin was also to go, as a soldier of gondor. merry could see him not far off, a small but upright figure among the tall men of minas tirith.
pippin had bowed crushed with horror when he heard gandalf reject the terms and doom frodo to the torment of the tower; but he had mastered himself, and now he stood beside beregond in the front rank of gondor with imrahil's men. for it seemed best to him to die soon and leave the bitter story of his life, since all was in ruin.
'i wish merry was here,' he heard himself saying, and quick thoughts raced through his mind, even as he watched the enemy come charging to the assault. 'well, well, now at any rate i understand poor denethor a little better. we might die together, merry and i, and since die we must, why not? well, as he is not here, i hope he'll find an easier end. but now i must do my best.'
at pippin's side beregond was stunned and overborne, and he fell: and the great troll-chief that smote him down bent over him, reaching out a clutching claw; for these fell creatures would bite the throats of those that they threw down.
then pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out. he toppled forward and came crashing down like a falling rock, burying those beneath him. blackness and stench and crushing pain came upon pippin, and his mind fell away into a great darkness.
'so it ends as i guessed it would,' his thought said, even as it fluttered away; and it laughed a little within him ere it fled, almost gay it seemed to be casting off at last all doubt and care and fear. and then even as it winged away into forgetfulness it heard voices, and they seemed to be crying in some forgotten world far above:
'the eagles are coming! the eagles are coming!'
for one moment more pippin's thought hovered. 'bilbo!' it said. 'but no! that came in his tale, long long ago. this is my tale, and it is ended now. goodbye!' and his thought fled far away and his eyes saw no more.
but when, after the standing silence, wine was brought there came in two esquires to serve the kings; or so they seemed to be: one was clad in the silver and sable of the guards of minas tirith, and the other in white and green. but sam wondered what such young boys were doing in an army of mighty men. then suddenly as they drew near and he could seem them plainly, he exclaimed:
'why, look mr. frodo! look here! well, if it isn't pippin. mr. peregrin took i should say, and mr. merry! how they have grown! bless me. but i can see there's more tales than ours.'
at length gandalf rose. 'the hands of the king are hands of healing, dear friends,' he said. 'but you went to the very brink of death ere he recalled you, putting forth all his power, and sent you into the sweet forgetfulness of sleep. and though you have indeed slept long and blessedly, still it is now time to sleep again.'
'and not only sam and frodo here,' said gimli, 'but you too, pippin. i love you, if only because of the pains you have cost me, which i shall never forget. nor shall i forget finding you on the hill of the last battle. but for gimli the dwarf you would have been lost then. but at least i know now the look of a hobbit's foot, though it be all that can be seen under a heap of bodies. and when i heaved that great carcass off you, i made sure you were dead. i could have torn out my beard. and it is only a day yet since you were first up and abroad again. to bed now you go. and so shall i.'