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Many Guises and Many Names
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The Hobbit and the Man (Bilbo)

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring.
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Gandalf had said, "You must meet another old friend of mine, a Man, who will help me find the creature. And my dear fellow, he is just your type. You might find him a worthy advisor in your next attempt at impressing Rivendell with your poems."

Bilbo had not known many Men, aside from those in Dale and a few in Bree with whom he had passing acquaintance. Apparently this one was the Chief of the Rangers who were now, Gandalf said, vigilantly guarding the Shire from the threats of the Wild and other evils. Bilbo's unerring nose for a story told him there was a good one here.

They met in the gardens of Rivendell. The Ranger's height, keen eyes and stern face discomfited Bilbo, but then the Man held up a large pouch of pipeweed. "It's Longbottom Leaf," he said, "the very best. I've just come from the borders of the Shire, and I understand from Gandalf that you will enjoy this as much as I. Shall we?"

In companionable silence they lit their pipes and got up a good smoke.

"I find myself at a disadvantage," Bilbo said. "I believe that Gandalf forgot to tell me your name, or who you are, beyond being the Chief of the Rangers."

"My name is Aragorn," he said. "As for the rest, let's put that aside for the present. Come! Tell me about Gollum, so that I may know how to track him. Tell me everything you remember. No detail is unimportant."

Bilbo found that in response to the Man's persistent, detailed questions, he remembered far more than he expected. Finally, the Man said, "Thank you. You've been remarkably helpful. I fear that now I must leave you," and bowed politely before he left.

Bilbo met the Dúnadan (as he discovered the Elves liked to call him) several more times before he got the answer to his question. And then he thought, Really, old Gandalf has gotten it exactly backward. I'm not going to ask Aragorn for advice on my next poem. I'm going to write it about him.


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