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3
Dealing with Guilt

Dealing with Guilt


They remained with the Elves that night also, and during that time Elrond ministered to him. At one point he and several Elves from Imladris disappeared into the forest for a time, and on their return they brought fresh herbs, not the ones, Sam noted, that had been sent before Frodo’s trip to Michel Delving. It was with these and directions on how they were to be used that Sam at last agreed to return to Bag End with his Master.

The return was swifter than the going, as if now he’d taken leave of Bilbo Frodo wished to crowd what he could into what time he might have left. To find that the smial was filled was a surprise, although Sam realized it ought not to have been one.

“Mr. Brendilac arrived first, you see,” Rosie told them, “and then Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin and old Gandalf. He’s lingerin’, he says, to speak with Master Frodo afore he leaves.”

“And where’s he going?” Sam asked.

Frodo turned his head away, his eyes weary. “To Aman, Sam--back to his home. So, he alerted Merry and Pippin, did he?”

“And then the Thain and his Lady, and the Master and Mistress--they come together from Buckland. And Missus Ivy Boffin arrived this afternoon with Miss Narcissa.”

Frodo’s eyes widened with alarm. “Why did they come?” he demanded.

“They heard somethin’, or so it seems,” Rosie explained. “I believe as Mr. Folco’s comin’ in a day or two, from what they said.”

“It appears that, no matter what my wishes are, I’m to have a birthday party of sorts after all,” Frodo said, shaking his head in disbelief. “Although what kind of birthday party is it when the host must perforce leave in the midst of it?” A tear escaped him, just as Sam found himself inexplicably starting to laugh. Rosie and Frodo looked at him aghast, only to see he couldn’t help himself at all.

Sam sank down on the bench and held his sides. “Of all I could ever imagine,” he finally choked out, “who’d a’thought of such a thing--that those as love you best would descend on you like this, leavin’ you with no way to hide from them? Oh, my Master, they love you, and you must face the fact as none of them is lackin’ in brains. You’ve tried to hide it, but you can’t--you can’t at all. Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin--they’d already told me, last time as they was here together, they were comin’ for the sixth. The other night when the Thain and Master and their ladies was here, they could see the truth of it.” The laughter had faded and tears were now forming.

“And we already have Freddy and Budgie due to arrive the fourth,” Frodo said with pain in his voice as he sat down heavily beside him. “They’re the only ones I agreed to have come.”

“You plannin’ on send us off again, as you did last March?” Sam asked shrewdly. He noted that Frodo’s cheeks became markedly pink, for a moment at least. “That would of been terrible hard, you know.” He turned and knelt down to take Frodo’s hands in his. “It’s not as if it was new to me, Master. I mean, I was there last time as I’d thought you’d died. Why, anyone would of thought as you were dead then, even Mr. Gandalf, I think. No breath, couldn’t feel the heart even flutterin’, your skin gone bluish. At least--at least....” He couldn’t finish.

“At least this time it will be natural?” asked Gandalf, who’d come with Elanor from the dining room where the others were gathered. “And yes, you were there the last time--the last three times he’s come close to passing through the Gates, to be precise.” He held the child out to Frodo, who withdrew his hands from Sam’s to take her and hold her close to his face.

Gandalf examined the Hobbit for a time, his eyes infinitely sad. “So, you would not accept the gift offered by all of us, would you?”

Frodo gave a small, delayed shake of his head, burying his face in Elanor’s gown.

“Is it because you don’t feel worthy, Frodo Baggins?”

A shrug.

“Is it because you fear to sully those lands by coming to them a mortal, one who has blood on his hands?”

For a time there was no answer, and then at last the hint of a nod.

Paladin Took had followed Gandalf, and now came to his side to look down on his younger cousin. “I told the others to stay put, although Merry and Pippin are anxious to come to your side. They are very distressed, distressed because you haven’t told them the truth of your condition, because you hid from them the fact this gift was offered, because you’ve not admitted your own fears to them, because you’ve tried to deny them the right--the right to see you off at the end, the right to tell you how very much they love you. Do you truly think you could deny us all that right, Frodo Baggins?”

Frodo’s shoulders were shaking as he wept into Elanor’s gown. At last they could hear, the tone muffled, “I don’t want to have to----”

“To say goodbye?” finished Gandalf gently after it became obvious Frodo could say no more. He set his hand on Sam’s head, and indicated the gardener should move aside. Now he knelt before Frodo, gently taking Elanor from him and giving her to her father. The child gave a cry of protest, but quieted at a word from Sam, and looked down from his arms at the Hobbit sitting on the bench, his face now hidden in his hands.

“Fo?” she said, her tone questioning.

Frodo looked up sharply, surprise winning out over the near-despair he’d known but a moment before, tears running down his face.

Sam looked down at his daughter, a tremulous smile trying to win out over his grief. “Suppose as it’s only right,” he said as he pulled her closer to his cheek. “First steps she took was to greet him, and now her first word is for him, too.” He kissed her.

Gandalf was looking at father and daughter from his kneeling position, his eyes filled with approval. He reached into Frodo’s pocket and brought out a handkerchief and pressed it into the Baggins’s hands. “Here, my dear Hobbit,” he said softly. “You need this, I think.”

Frodo nodded absently, wiped his face, and looked back at Elanor. “I’m here, our Elanorellë,” he whispered. “I’m here for--for what time I have left. I’ll not leave before I must.” He looked around at the Wizard kneeling before him, his friend with the child in his arms, at Rosie, and at the Thain, and straightened. His eyes lingered on those of his older cousin as he stowed the handkerchief back into his pocket. When he spoke it was with a degree of dignity. “I fear I am very near the end, Uncle Paladin,” he said, “but I’m not there yet. I refuse to be smothered before my time. No one is to try to shelter me, for after what I’ve seen done that is impossible anyway. No one is to deny me the right to do what I feel I must in--in the days ahead. Anyone who seeks to do so I will send away, and I believe I can count on Merry’s sword, at least, to see that order followed.

“Know this--over the past few months I have tried to come to terms with the knowledge I won’t follow Bilbo’s example and live a long, fulfilling life, and in the last few weeks I’ve tried to--to take my leave as I can. It has been tearing at my heart, each time I’ve had to accept that this is the last time. And now here you all come, and it’s all to do over again. I don’t know if--if you can appreciate what it’s been like for me, much of this last half year. Please--tell the others I won’t be coddled or confined to my bed or to the smial. Please accept that if I don’t fall to and eat what is presented to me it isn’t because I’m turning away from life so much as it’s because I just can’t eat properly. If you will insist on being here, then--then let me live as I can for as long as I can--and when the time comes, just let me go. If--if it happens as it did last year and the year before, and much as it has in the springtime, then I fear--I fear it won’t be pretty or particularly peaceful. But at least it will be over--at last, and it won’t have to be faced again.”

Paladin Took nodded. “All right, Frodo,” he said, his tone tightly controlled. “We will do our best to behave as you’ve asked. It’s been little enough you’ve ever asked of us, after all, save for you to be allowed to love us. Just don’t turn away from us now. Hopefully just our presence will help you realize that they are just memories and not real.”

“Maybe,” Frodo said, although his expression made it plain he didn’t hold out much hope. “Now--Gandalf and I have some talking to do before he must go on his way. I won’t have him stay his own journey solely for my sake.” He rose and, after giving the Thain a brief bow, led the way to the study, Gandalf following and closing the door behind them.

Once the door’s latch was firmly heard catching, Paladin turned to Sam. “How long does he have, do you think?”

Sam shrugged. “Can’t say for certain, of course, Mr. Paladin, sir,” he answered, “but the memories seem to hit on the sixth, and go on until the twenty-third, although I’m not positive as just what goes on betwixt and between, if you take my meaning. It was on the sixth as he was stabbed with the Morgul blade, and the twenty-third as they got it out of him at the last--the splinter, I mean. Lord Elrond and our Strider and the others was workin’ together on it, singin’ over him to slow its movement toward his heart, and at last Lord Elrond got it out of him. Had to open the wound twice to get it finally, he did. The first year I thought as it was just bein’ there, where he had to face those Black Riders at the ford and where he was stabbed at Weathertop, as was bringin’ on the memories, like; but last year he was memberin’, but not so bad, afore he left for Mr. Freddy’s, but it seemed to hit him while he was there. He was sent home with a draught to take, and wouldn’t take my tea until it was almost over. I’m not fully certain as he was really havin’ the memories on the twenty-third, even, but he was certain as it would be his last, he was--it was a relief to see him wake from it and go back to just livin’ again.”

“And it happens in the spring, too?”

Sam nodded. “Starts on the day on which the spider poisoned him, and he stays feelin’ less’n himself until the twenty-fifth of March when It went into the Fire at last. Two weeks. Rosie’s dad and Rosie saw it year afore last, and last year don’t know proper what happened on the thirteenth as he’d sent us off to Rosie’s folks’ farm, but on the twenty-fifth I realized after this one was borned he was intolerable weak. Was doin’ his best to hide it throughout, but he’s not truly recovered since.”

The nod the Thain gave was identical to the one Pippin usually gave when filing a fact away in his head, Sam noted. “I see,” Paladin said softly. “Thank you, Sam. Would you and Rosie mind coming in and explaining this to the others as well? It might be better accepted if you let them know than if I try.”

Sam thought about it and at last gave a nod, and with a look at Rose he carried Elanor back to the dining room.

*******


Sam was in the kitchen brewing Frodo’s draft when Gandalf at last came out of the study and joined him. “Those don’t look like the herbs Elrond sent into the Shire during his own journey,” the Wizard noted.

“They aren’t,” Sam answered rather shortly as he measured a pinch of one herb onto the pile he was forming on a piece of cheesecloth. “Changed them at Frodo’s request while we was with them.” He added a spoon of one last herb, then fastened closed the bags from which he’d taken each and set them aside before taking up the corners of the cheesecloth to twist the fabric into a loose bag. “Those other herbs--said as they was affecting him and makin’ it hard to concentrate. A few is still in this mix, but not some of the others as Lord Elrond said as could indeed affect his thoughts. He doesn’t wish to miss much, what time as he’s got left.” He set the twist of cloth and herbs in a teapot, and lifting the kettle off the fire he poured thickly steaming water into the pot and left it to steep. Once he’d refilled the kettle and set it again over the fire he turned back to the Wizard. “Is he right, Gandalf?” he asked. “Is his time come indeed?”

Gandalf sighed as he shrugged. “I fear so, Sam. Had he chosen to go with us we planned to be well out to sea by the sixth, allowing the aid of Lord Ulmo to reach him; and he could have seen to it the aid of the rest of the Valar would have freely reached him as well. However, having chosen to stay here, he can receive far less. The Song is much stronger and more vibrant in the Sea than in the Earth, you must understand. And there is the fact that, knowing he will be struck with the memories on each anniversary of when he was worst hurt before, he would prefer this be the last of it.”

“So, in a way he’s willin’ his own death, is he?”

The Wizard shook his head. “Not so much willing it as accepting the Gift now rather than later. He’s been granted some leeway, much as when his time comes Aragorn will be able to offer back what little remains that he not die unmanned as has happened with too many of his forebears.”

Sam spooned tea into a second pot that had been recently scalded, and checked the temperature of the kettle to judge when it would most likely be ready again. At last he sat at the table and indicated Gandalf should follow suit. “He don’t appear to be suffering a great deal,” he said at last. “Not in a good deal of pain, at least, so as he can’t bear it.”

“No,” agreed Gandalf. “No, not a great deal of pain, but what had been a dull ache has begun throbbing. And his heart is indeed failing him. Not all the herbs in Middle Earth will relieve it now, and not all the love held toward him be enough to strengthen him to remain much longer. It’s not fair, you know--not fair at all, what he’s had to live with since the two of you awoke in Ithilien; but at least he’s been able to see you and Merry and Pippin readied to take authority here when the time comes, and has seen the Shire renewed. Envinyatar could as well be applied to him and to you as to Aragorn, you realize.”

Sam flushed. “I’m no one such as them!” he muttered.

Gandalf smiled. “You think not, son of Hamfast? It wouldn’t be the first time Iluvatar sent nobility equal to the greatest of royalty to be fostered in a humble setting. Samwise the Brave and Stouthearted and Faithful, are you? Oh, indeed, and as worthy of the lordship granted you as is true of Frodo. You will learn that the Creator has a distinct sense of humor, and enjoys hiding His greatest treasures in the most difficult places to access. Why do you think diamonds and emeralds of great worth are found hidden in common soil and stubborn rock?”

They were quiet for a time until Sam at last rose to retrieve the kettle and fill the second teapot. “How long will you stay with us?” he asked.

“A day more at most--only long enough to reassure all he’s properly taken care of. Know this--he is not afraid of what will come, Sam. He is ready--fully ready. But he wishes to meet death on his own terms.”

Sam nodded.

Again they knew quiet between them, until at last Gandalf said, “The offer remains open for you, Sam. I hope when the time comes you will take your own grey ship and come to Tol Eressëa. But it will be at a time of your choosing.”

Again Sam nodded. At last he moved to pour a cup of tea each for himself and Gandalf. As he set Gandalf’s cup before him he murmured, “I can’t see as yet what I’ll do when that day comes, for it’ll not come for many years, or so I hope.” He looked up to meet Gandalf’s eyes. “He didn’t wish for me to leave Rosie now, you know.”

“Yes, I know.” The Wizard set his own calloused hand over Sam’s.

*******


Sam noted with approval that Frodo had remained in the study. Good--that way only two or three could approach him at a time, and not the entire family at once to overwhelm him. Sam knocked and brought in the draught he’d prepared and set it down on Frodo’s desk, then stooped to stir the embers on the hearth and add another couple logs.

“So,” Saradoc was saying from the sofa where he sat by Paladin Took, “you did see Bilbo, did you? And how is he doing?”

“As well, I suppose, as one newly turned a hundred and thirty-one can be, Uncle Sara. He is rather frail and dozes almost constantly. He will start a question, slip into a doze, then awake and try to finish what he’d already started to say, then sleep again for a time until he wakens to hear the answer. Yet he is as astute as he always was, bless him.”

“You didn’t want him to be here with you--now?”

“Uncle Sara--I didn’t want any of you to be by me now. I didn’t want anyone to have to see--to see what it’s like when the memories hit fully. It was bad enough the first time, and I was fairly strong then. The last few times....” He shivered, and he went paler, if possible.

Sam examined his Master--his lips had a slight bluish tinge, and there were circles under his eyes. The swelling that had been seen in his ankles yesterday had been gone this morning, but it was back now. “You need to drink that, Mr. Frodo,” he advised his friend.

“It does appear you’ve put on a bit of weight at last,” Paladin commented as Frodo picked up his mug.

Frodo sipped and made a face before answering the Thain. “I am told it is somewhat of an illusion, Uncle Pal. It is the excess fluid, Lord Elrond tells me, that my body is retaining. My heart’s beat is not as strong as it was, and so more remains within me. It is part of--of the failure of my heart.” He drank more deeply and looked up at Sam. “May I have some cider to take the taste away when this is done, please, Sam?”

At that moment there was a tap at the door, and Gandalf stood there with a mug of cider in his hand. “I thought you might appreciate something to take the taste away, Frodo. From what your great-grandfather said when it was recommended for him, this draught tends to be rather bitter.”

“Lord Elrond offered his aid to the Old Took?” asked the Thain, surprised.

“Your great-grandfather did travel to Rivendell himself, you realize,” Gandalf advised him. “He and Lord Elrond often conversed long into the night. It was partly for his sake that Bilbo was welcomed as he was. And it was for the sake of both Frodo was first welcomed there, although his own integrity and faithfulness and Sam’s have earned both more honor than any could give them.”

At Frodo’s face the Wizard’s own expression became stern. “And why may I not say such a thing, Frodo Baggins?”

“Integrity, Gandalf? What integrity did I show then? I let It take me! I cursed Sméagol, and he died as I said! How many died to let me reach that place, and how many might have been saved torture and death if I’d traveled faster?”

“And how much faster could you have traveled? How many times did you find yourself collapsing where you stood, or fall into the nearest shadows within reach, unable to go further without some rest? And at the end, there on the mountainside, how fast could you go then? Did Sam not have to carry you upon his back?”

Frodo turned his face away, his attention apparently fixed on the floor. “If we had not stayed the night with the Rangers----”

“If we’d not done that, how much further do you think as we’d of got?” Sam asked. “Not as far as the Crossroads, I think. You was so tired and fearful, you’d not of lasted many hours, if that, afore you’d of needed another stop. And we’d of run out of food that much the sooner, you realize, if’n we’d not received what Captain Faramir give us.”

“Plus there was the greater chance that the Haradrim would have captured you,” Gandalf pointed out as he set the mug of cider on the mantel. “Had that happened, it’s likely the two of you would have immediately been sent southward and east to Minas Morgul so that one of the Nazgul could have carried you to Barad-dûr right away--and that would have been the end of all.”

“But if we’d not gone with Faramir to the cavern behind the waterfall Sméagol would not have been captured and believed himself betrayed by me, and perhaps he would not have----”

“Huh!” interrupted Sam, his laugh humorless. “He’d already set himself to betray us, you know. I heard him, as you well know, Stinker and Slinker arguin’ as to what to do with us, and agreein’ at last to lead us to her, which he surely did. Mayhaps if’n I’d not called 'im a sneak as I did, there when him and me was both took with the Light of you, there on the stairs, just maybe he’d of thought better of it, although I still believe as he’d already been up there to let her know as we was on our way, so’s she was ready when we come. No, it would still of come to naught but what happened. You think as the Ring wasn’t workin’ on him the whole time as he was with us? You couldn’t fully shield even me from it, and had no hope of shieldin’ him. It knew him, through and through, and It worked on 'im constantly.”

“You never told me It called to you.”

“And add that much more to your burden of guilt?” Sam asked simply. “Couldn’t get through to me much, but now and then I felt It, playin’ with my thoughts, pullin’ at my heart.”

The two continued to examine one another’s eyes until at last Gandalf spoke. “It was not your responsibility to come quickly to the Sammath Naur, merely to reach there. That was all that was asked of you, and what you did. Those who died while you journeyed were not and are not your responsibility. And it would have done no good at the end if you’d hurried and blundered into more orcs on the road, more discerning ones than those who captured you briefly. Only the fact that those who captained the troupe with whom you marched were frightened because they were already behind the time set for them to arrive at their destination kept them from noting you wore no boots and your eyes were not those of their kind.”

For a time there was silence, Frodo seated, brooding, by his desk, Sam near him on one side of the mantel, Gandalf at the other, leaning on the door-frame, his arms crossed over his chest, Frodo’s older cousins seated on the small couch, looking at each of the other three in turn. Just how arduous and dangerous the journey made by these two had been was hitting more firmly home in their understanding, Sam noted as he glanced briefly at them before returning his attention to his Master.

At last Gandalf spoke again. “I tell you again, Frodo,” he said in a compelling voice, causing Frodo to look up at him from under his brows, “you are not responsible for those others who suffered and died. Are you responsible for those who died due to Sauron’s actions before you made your journey? Or those who died in the attacks made recently on Gondor by the Haradrim?” His eyes were sharply focused on the Hobbit.

A pause. “No,” Frodo admitted.

“As for Gollum, did you wish for him to take the Ring from you and fall with It?”

“No! Certainly not!”

“Did you wish for him to fall at all?”

Frodo remained silent for a time, but at length answered, “No--oh, at times I wished he were dead or at least gone from us; but what--what I really wanted was for him to come back, to prove I, too, could come back from Its influence.”

Gandalf’s expression softened as he knelt again to be at Frodo’s own level. “You had not the power to grant him that, certainly not of your own remarkable strength, for your strength was not given you for that purpose. Nor could you, even had you managed to truly master the Ring, have been able to use Its power to cause such a renewal, for Its strength was not in renewal but in destruction, as you know all too well. He had held It far too long for anything you could do in the short weeks you traveled with him to bring him the redemption you wished for him. But know this--in saving you from Its power at the last, even though his actions were mostly selfish in intent, he nevertheless found a part of what the Ring stole from him. It stole far, far more from him than It had had time to steal from you, my friend--far, far more. No, One far greater than you used his very weakness to the good of all, even for the good of Frodo Baggins, and rewarded him far beyond his deserving, perhaps, for in the end proving worthy to be so used.

“You see, your acceptance of him stirred much in him, bringing back memories of simple pleasures and days spent in the reflection of the light off the river, awakening his conscience once more, reminding him of beauties he once appreciated. Those the Ring had stolen away; but your own integrity forced It to yield them up in spite of Itself. If the Ring stole much from you and caused you greater distress than any should suffer, know that you did little to reassure It of Its overwhelming Power. You cannot appreciate just how much uncertainty you caused It, there in the wild, unable to reach you through images of honors and victories such as had conquered so many others, including Boromir and Saruman, Saruman who never saw It but yet heard and fell to Its call; unable to deter you with images of death and destruction and torture; unable to cause you to quail with Its threats against you, your companion, and your land. Only in the Sammath Naur could It finally overwhelm you and take you, leading you to take It for your own.”

“I had not the strength to wield It,” Frodo said. “I knew that all along.”

“Indeed, and that knowledge saved you from It along the way. Even there a part of you knew that to be true, and laughed at the conceit that you could become the Lord of the Ring there and then; and that part was relieved when the Ring was torn away from you. Your conscious mind was overwhelmed and in agony as Its awareness was lost at the last--seventeen and a half years it wound itself through your mind, after all. But that one portion of you that was horrified to see It place Itself on your finger was glad when the Creator used Gollum to relieve you of It before that last bastion of integrity fell completely to It. And so that portion of you spoke to Sam of forgiveness toward Gollum, there on the mountainside afterward when you thought you were but minutes from death.”

Gandalf straightened and stretched a bit. The eyes of Thain and Master, Sam noted, were fixed on the Wizard in fascination. “There is one other thing, Iorhael,” he continued, “one other thing you should know. I told you there that April before you left the Shire that amongst the inane babble of Sméagol when he was tortured in the dungeons of Barad-dûr there were two words to be discerned--two words of interest to us, that is--Baggins and Shire. But there were words aimed at Sauron by Gollum, followed by words uttered by Sauron himself, who left his throne and took a form of Shadow to observe the writhing of this victim.

“Gollum could not help voicing his thoughts aloud as he had done for five hundred years when he held It in his keeping, and a part of his thought was that he would defy this one who watched his agony--he would find the Ring and take It for himself once again, and then he would pay Sauron and his minions back for what was being done to him there. And Sauron laughed at him--laughed at him and told him that if he were to even touch the Ring again he would himself be cast by Its power into the fire and so destroyed.”

Frodo’s face was totally devoid of color, his mouth open in shock. Gandalf went on. “The Ring could see that memory in Sméagol’s mind, and used it to torture him and browbeat him and to goad him to seek to betray you. And in the end It shared that threat with you--and you again voiced it. And so the resentment of Sméagol grew, along with his fear, hearing such words from one he knew instinctively had not a temper to lead you to violence or empty threat.

“For if you had been one so given, the Ring would have far more easily have taken hold of you, Frodo. And so it was that on the journey you made you were compassed about with others to fight, others who were granted the authority to kill to protect you. There is a reason you did no more than to cut off the hand of a wight or to stab the foot of a troll or to slash at the Witch-king’s robes--the Creator did not wish the one who carried this thing to bear the burden of proper guilt and responsibility for the deaths of others. Such would have necessarily hardened you to the empathy needed to begin awakening Sméagol from the wreck of Gollum, and would have speeded the Ring’s taking of you.”

“But I uttered the curse!”

“A curse that originated from Sauron himself. A curse the Ring had to see fulfilled, for it came from Its Master. A curse that in the end led to the destruction of the Ring.” Gandalf began to smile. “Cannot you see the irony--that in the end it was the Enemy’s own curse on a weak, crawling being that led to his own undoing?”

Color was beginning to come back to Frodo’s face, and all could see that it was as if a great burden had fallen from him. “Then I’m not fully responsible....”

“Indeed not, you foolish creature. You dear, dearly beloved Hobbit. And had you chosen to come with us this and more would have been lifted from you in time. I fear I must rush things overmuch. Yes, you are indeed responsible; and no, no you are not. But how much you are responsible for and how much you are not, and for what--that I have not time enough to delve with you now--and others were intended to help you gain this knowledge, others who cannot come to you before you must accept the Gift.

“You once told me you felt that the Shire needed some shaking up, and perhaps needed a dragon loosed on it to shake its inhabitants out of their complacency. Well, a failed Istar and his creatures have had to serve instead. Perhaps your own perception was a part of what brought that to be; but in the end much good has come out of it, and indeed many who had ignored the outer world and their responsibilities to all both within and without the Shire have been awakened to that knowledge and have begun opening themselves to the needs of all of Middle Earth, and not just their own concerns. Well, Gondor needed the knowledge of the relative innocence and lightheartedness of the Shire and its inhabitants to waken it to the greater needs of all; and Aragorn could have no better examples to show his new realm than you, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. Yes, evil happened, and perhaps more evil because you could not travel faster than you did; but far more good has come out of it due to that delay; and you are far more responsible for that good’s occurrence than you were for the evil.”

Gandalf’s attention fixed on the mug. “That grows cold, and this draught is better for being taken freshly brewed. Drink it down, and then the cider, and be comforted, Iorhael.”

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