* * *
Scrap Paper Review
Issue #51
February, 2002

©2002 A.D. Sullivan
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Both Sides Now  Dan Newhaul
Lord of the Rings: the movie  A.D. Sullivan
Champagne Grapes  M. Dupey
Ghetto  Larry Greene
Last Call  A.D.Sullivan
Sam Gamgee's Dream  Sam Gamgee

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Both Sides Now

This stream ran to the river when I was a kid,
an open sewer, raw and vile,
stinking as its water gushed down the narrow gully

It seemed wider then,
framed in maples and willows and oaks,
leaf-filled limbs, weed choked roots on either side

A thread of hemp hung from one large tree,
jack ass kids beating at its roots to grab hold,
swinging from one side to the other as the rope
burned our fingers.
always too stupid to let go

We bitched when we bruised our knees or burst our britches,
blaming the sharp stones and shiftless dirt,
fighting each other for one more chance to keep hold.

When it broke, the others vanished,
leaving me to stare at that frayed piece of rope,
leaving me to curse the tree for letting me go.

When I needed it most, it was gone,
and I sat on one side of that stinking shore,
wishing I could be on the other.

Dan Newhaul

Table of Contents* * *

Lord of the Rings: the movie

God save us from true believers.

In making a classic piece of fiction into a movie, it sometimes better to let someone who loves the literature too little do it than someone who loves it too much.

In anticipating the release of this movie, I knew we would face the need to making changes to the original story. The Lord of the Rings (LotR) is a remarkably talky collection of books. It is as much a tale of story-telling as it is one of adventure. J.R.R. Tolkien, the author, had sought to create a literature that largely ceased to exist in modern times. It was more akin to Chaucer than to Steven King. Written from the 1930s to the 1950s, the LotR predated television's huge impact on modern consciousness, and certainly did not anticipate the cut and paste imagery of MTV.

With this in mind, anyone expecting a recasting of the original books would have been foolish. Tolkien's tales twisted and weaved their way through the three books forming a tapestry of stories -- largely unsuited for a modern audience impatient to get into the action. So in the months leading up to the release of this work, I knew to expect significant alterations in the basic tale -- despite promises that the film-maker, Peter Jackson, would remain loyal to the original. I little realized how it would be this loyalty to the original that would spoil the film for me, and not the necessary alterations.

I'm not saying the film is bad, merely flawed so significantly that it will never have the social impact I expected before its release. LotR always overshadowed the movie Star Wars, because Star Wars owed so much to Tolkien's masterpiece. For years, true fans of Tolkien's work muttered under their breath about how much more of an impact LotR would have than Star Wars if both works received equal graphic treatment.

We were wrong.

Star Wars -- the first episode released in 1977 -- worked because it was envisioned as a film, and the true believer who crafted it put heart and soul into the production of a film. He was not attempting to translate something that already existed in his audience's head. So when the images exploded onto the screen, I was shocked and delighted.

Peter Jackson, in producing and directing LotR, came at the work with the same intense passion, but missed two important points. One, he could never bring to the work the vision of the writer. Two, his reverence for the original could get in the way of the audience to feel the true power of the work.

While the visual aspects of the LotR film are nearly perfect -- Tolkien was particularly skilled in shaping his world of Middle Earth -- it is the subtler things Jackson missed, not only in interpreting the books, but in making Tolkien's vision attractive to a modern, impatient audience -- to whom the thrills of actions were more important than beautiful scenery, and to whom significant moments are boring.

Jackson did an incredible job in reducing the kinks of Tolkien's plots, installing complete story lines into the actual time sequence in which they happened. Readers of Tolkien often had to wait hundreds of pages to find out what happened to a character. While this gave the book a remarkable strength, it would not do for a film.

But Jackson -- too religiously close to the original books -- sought to hammer the audience over the head with moments he thought they should get, those moments and symbols he felt were too significant to allow the story to carry on its own. Thus, the audience was subjected to whole scenes dripping of unnecessary melodrama, and extended shots of the ring. Like plots found in Shakespeare, Tolkien's work needed none of these enhancements. Each of these -- and there were too many -- subtracted from the art, cheapening the overall feel of the film.

One other significant loss was to the book's incredible humor. In translating the hobbits to film, Jackson made hobbits "cute" in the worst meaning of the word. They were a happy people, a carefree people, a people who dance, sang, drank and squabbled, but seemed unable to escape an overly tenderized treatment. In presenting them, Tolkien never took hobbits overly seriously either -- but there was always an edge to his treatment. Each section in which they were portrayed as a people, Tolkien added numerous puns, a tongue-and-cheek treatment the Jackson failed to bring to the screen.

This cuteness becomes more and more acute as the film progresses, so that by the end of the first film -- and there will be two more of them -- the hobbits lose more and more of the stuff that Tolkien found so admirable in them. Jackson in altering the plot to fit the big screen also stripped the hobbits of those truly significant choices that gave them the character Tolkien intended. They became the baggage of an adventure in the first film Tolkien mocked in his books. The hobbits aren't the heroes of the first film, they are the victims. They are constantly being rescued so that when -- by the end of the first film -- two are carted off by evil people, the audience emits another yawn and says: "So what."

In simplifying the plot, Jackson reduced the opportunities for hobbits to show their mettle, and then in the two most important decisions hobbits needed to make in the first book, Jackson gives the choice to someone else.

Tolkien's books are character choices in reaction to fate: what a character does at a significant movement defines him or her as hero or villain. Thus when Bilbo decides to leave the evil ring of power behind in the early part of the volume, he grows in stature beyond his size. Frodo, heir to the ring, has many more such choices made throughout the stories. When confronted with the villainous-looking Strider in the village of Bree, Frodo chooses to trust the man and follow him, with little or no evidence. When confronted with the nine black riders near the river to land of elves, Frodo turns to challenge them -- a futile but significant moment in character development. In the film, we see Frodo thrust against the wall in Bree by an enraged Strider and carried off by an elf-queen at the river.

This lack of build-up to Frodo's character makes the choice at the end of the movie seem trite and less truly significant than it actually is. Part of the problem is Jackson's choice to shift the focus from the hobbits to human heroes. In Tolkien's books, the hobbits play the central role, but not in the film. This is a subtle and extremely important difference. Hobbits are not allowed to make choices of their own. They are granted approval by their elders or lead wholesale along. This is even true in Rivendell where Gandalf and Elrond debate the fate the ring before the meeting of the council. But no cleared indication of Jackson's preference for human heroes can be shown than at the end of the film.

Frodo -- from whom the ring was nearly taken -- has 'screwed himself up' to leave the others behind and go into the dark land to destroy the ring. In the book, he runs off without anyone's permission to seek the path on his own. But in the movie, he meets Strider at the last moment, who gives Frodo permission to leave, voiding any sense of independence Frodo might have obtained by leaving on his own. To Jackson, hobbits aren't the people Tolkien thought them, but rather curious children who when left in their own world can be trusted to provide a bit of entertainment and a bite of good food, but outside the shire must have man or elf around to protect them.

This shift of focus causes a major change in the body of work, and one that cannot be easily repaired in two films planned for the future, when more such opportunities for hobbit heroism will likely be voided by this film-maker's desire to shift heroic credit to the more typical characters: the king of Gondor, the warrior woman of Rohan, and to the Robin Hood-like warrior in the woods on the borders of the evil land.

It is a fatal flaw in the film-maker's vision, and something that likely evolves out of New Zealand where Jackson comes from and where the movie was filmed. This macho element only enhances flaws already inherent in the books. Tolkien -- raised in South Africa -- was never particularly comfortable with black people, and in shaping a world largely based on Northern European myth, gave them little space, and only insignificant roles. In a movie shaped by someone raised in a culture equally uncomfortable with races other than white, this flaw becomes an outright obstacle to many viewers. While I watched the film, numerous black people got up and left -- particularly at the point where the hobbits and their companions arrived at Lothlórien, and the ultimate characters in the book -- the high elves -- turn out to be white, blonde-haired blue eyed Aryans.

While the film and books are filled with a variety of races, the heroic races are nearly all varieties of western, white culture, reflecting the class structure you might find in England: Dwarves, the lower class miners; the Hobbits, lower class farmers; men, middle-class or above; Elves, royalty. In the books and the films, real race differences exist with any one other than white placed firmly on the side of evil. To make this even worse, Jackson chose to give face paint to the evil orcs that strongly resembled tribal painting found on the plains of New Zealand and Australia. The actors were also instructed to play the parts "ape-like" and since racists have often equated blacks with apes, the juxtaposition is uncomfortable. While this was likely an unconscious act, it sends a subliminal message to the audience about the deeper nature of the film: glorification of a European culture.

Tolkien in creating the work had used classical light and dark, white and black, to define good and evil. In doing so, places like Hobbiton, Rivendell, and Lothlórien were invested with brightness or a tolerable haze, where as Mordor and such places were dark and foul. Good creatures -- with the exception of the tree-like creatures viewers will encounter in the second film -- are of pale complexions, where evil ones are at best created in shades of gray -- mostly black. The use of black and white imagery to define good and evil was more understandable in a pre-civil rights era, but in a film designed for today's audience, it is intolerable.

In anticipating this film, I had hoped Jackson would make some attempt to overcome this basic flaw and open up the books and the Tolkien art form to a wider audience. But if the first film is any indication, the matter will likely get worse with the additional films where viewers get a closer glimpse at the evil cultures.

Although Jackson does seek to overcome one other flaw in the original books, his vision of women seems as skewed in Middle Earth as Tolkien's. Except for one female character -- whose desire is to take on a traditional male role and another painted as a elf-queen witch -- Tolkien's women are mostly subservient, the wives of great men who have gone out to do battle to save their world or to work their fields or to raise their horses. The only other exceptions is the shrew in Hobbiton and the great mother spider in Mordor.

Jackson saw the flaw in women's roles and sought to correct it by giving a greater role to a woman warrior elf -- modeling her largely after the horse queen Tolkien introduced in a later book, giving up her wish to be like a man when her true lover comes into her life. The witch-queen of Lothlórien is painted in much the way witches were in European, useful, but calculating. The film enhanced this impression, but did little to cure it. The most appealing roles are still dedicated to the men, and, in fact, the film goes far beyond the books in praising the brotherhood of warriors -- putting tears in Strider's eyes at the death of his fellow warrior at the end of the first film.

The male macho element of the film bothers me partly because of the environment in which the film premiered. While no one could have predicted the events on Sept. 11, 2001 or their war-like aftermath, this film seems to celebrate the warrior in a way that sits poorly in me. Tolkien's aims seemed to have been largely aimed at peace. He was a conservative, saying things should remain unchanged when they are good. Change from good is always evil. This message seems lost in the first film -- which has managed to touch its audience in only the most violent of ways.

None of this says that the film lacked quality. Gandalf, Bilbo, Strider and many of the other characters are delightful in their presentation. The dwarves are just as I pictured them. Just as Gandalf is, and Elrond -- well, what can we say about such a noble man as that. While I find Frodo far too cute, and reaction shots showing his wide and innocent eyes -- too frequent, Jackson clearly presented the hobbits as honestly as he could.

Each landscape in the film matched Tolkien's descriptions and brought them to life in a magical way, making me wish to walk in each -- even in the horrible places. The dwarf kingdom, the elf-worlds, but most of all the Shire. For these alone, it is worth any fan's salt to go see the film, a film destined to become a cult classic despite its serious flaws. But it will never equal the first Star Wars movie or have the same social impact -- despite its similarity in celebrating violence.

Table of Contents* * *

Champagne Grapes

Ruby-red clusters,
jeweled fruit of the vine,
voluptuously falling in my palm.
No larger than a teaspoonful.
My eyes linger lovingly.

Round molecules,
attached by threads of organic matter,
moving in all directions
so that I may understand
its true soul.

Tickling down my palm,
as I roll once more your many orbs of flesh.
I take one. Roll my tongue
over your sweet-pungent taste.
I go back for more.

M. Dupey

Table of Contents* * *

Larry Greene

"I don't know about this," she said as I turned the key to my apartment door. I looked back at her and tried to calm her, but she shook her head. "From hat you told me about the place, I'm not sure that I'm willing to chance it. You know what I mean?"

She looked at me with wide, frightened eyes, her long brown hair surrounding her face like a frame.

"Do you want to go home?" I asked.

She shook her head again.

"But is it really as bad as you way? I mean about the heat and all?"

I turned the key to the door but left it unopened.

"Yes, I told you. I have very limited funds. This is the best I can do. Besides, I'm a bit of a slob. Even if I could afford a better place, it wouldn't be long before someone decided to toss me out. This is where I live. If you want to come in, then come in. If not, then I'll take you home."

She hesitated, her gaze cast down surveying the cracks in the floorboards of my two-by-two foot porch. That little space was an example of the disaster within and I think she sensed it.

God! My Apartment! An illusive term for a two-room cold water flat whose quaint turn-of-the-century charm is merely marred by the subtle attempts at modernization: the heater in the sidecar of the stove emitting enough heat to warm tea for breakfast, if it isn't more than a degree or two below freezing outside; the sinkless bathroom equipped with a toilet bowl that floods unexpectedly (unlike the Nile); a rusting port-a-shower from which the curtain flutters out releasing the hot precious liquid to the floor.

Yep, apartment was a loose term, but this place was a part of me in spite of its flaws. It just wasn't easy existing here. In Winter, the wind blew right through the far room walls so freely that I could do nothing but close off the room or risk freezing off my nose when I stuck it out from under the electric blanket accidentally at night.


I could see her shake off a shiver of doubt. She knew about most of the problems. She stared down for a while, then looked up, shrugged and gave me a weak smile, the lips rising as if out of practice.

Brave girl, I thought as I turned back to the door, almost afraid to open it, always afraid to break the spell which we'd created here outside the door. Still, I pushed it open and trod the dark air, feeling ahead for the string that hung down from the ceiling light. I found it, pulled it and with the fluorescent light illuminating the kitchen, she gave a gasp.

Perhaps it was the ceiling which had just started peeling its paint, or possibly the lack of furniture: a desk and typewriter, two large pillows, an old card table with its vinyl top gone.

"You live like this?" she asked, mouth open in a clear indication of her shock. "This -- This is worse than the way the hippies lived."

I almost smiled, but didn't, aware that anything could make her leave. I tried to keep my face from showing my fear, watching her as she lowered herself, she looking every bit like a cat who was about to sit on something wet, hands clutching her purse in her lap, muggers under the bed instead of dust, each ready to rip the purse away. She jerked away from me when I gently touched her shoulder, then smiled weakly saying without saying that she could brave even this out, if it meant she could spend the night with me.

I popped open a bottle of German wine, and later, after a snack, rolled a joint, sharing it until neither of us could help but giggle, which ended in a kiss leading into something more.

Forty minutes later, something sounded from the corner, a scratching that jerked open her eyes. Not a loud noise, but enough to make her stiffen and stared at me.

"What is it?" she asked, as I sighed and held her naked body more tightly against mine.

"I knew there was something I forgot," I said. "It's only the mice."

Table of Contents* * *

Last Call

The last call from the river edge speaks of her dying
the mourning geese sit in October rain
with gray suits stained,
waiting as they have always waited
homeless noses dripping, orphaned children
fluttering up and down in protest at her absence

They cry at the empty lawn
where on fair days she spread crusts of bread or broken popcorn
the river land around her house, a sore sight
to city fathers for over forty years

Flocks of ducks and geese and pigeons
pained, abandoned creatures with tarred feathers and broken wings
crawling to the shadow of the bridge,
looking for handouts and mercy,

And she, dying on them as the golf course people
pay for cages to cart them away
and the state forecloses on the land
to reroute the highway.


Table of Contents* * *

Sam Gamgee's Dream
by Sam Gamgee
Part One: The Unexpected Guest

It was just before Will Whitfoot quit being mayor that Mr. Gildor sent word I should come. Rosey stared at the tall figure at the door like he had come from the moon, his golden hair and almond eyes like nothing anybody'd seen in the Shire since old Sharky got killed and his ruffian's run off or arrested. She shook like it was Sharky himself coming back from the grave and called.

``Samwise Gamgee, you come here quick!''

I was out in the garden, tending to a row of tatters and was struck by the odd tone in her voice. She sounded afraid. Not the ordinary kind of afraid that Eleanor gets when she's in a queer fit over a bit of lightning.

No, this was the old fear, the one I hadn't heard since before Mr. Frodo left, and we all set off with the ring for Mordor. I jumped up quick with a hand spade still in my hand, and ran around the side of the hill -- wondering just what I thought I could do against a black rider or some such creature with a small metal garden tool when all the swords of the west had struggled so hard and done but nought to them in the past.

But when I got around the hill to where the front door bore into the hill, I stopped short, spade falling from my fingers as if it was struck out of my hand.

An Elf!

``Glory be, Rosey! You could have warned me that there wasn't any...'' I started to say, then stopped that, too, when I saw her huddled behind the big green door of our Hobbit hole (Bilbo's hole folks still sometimes called it, though to me it would always remind me more of Mr. Frodo and those warm days before our dark journey south when he and me and Mr. Bilbo sort of lived here in peace, before the black riders came, before anyone knew anything about the ring except that it was something Bilbo used from time to time to get away from the Sackville-Bagginese.)

An Elf! Right here on New Row -- which folks still call Bagshot Row despite all the new talk and the battle and the Sharky's blood spilled on the door step. An Elf standing tall, golden haired and Rosie, my Rosie, scared to her hairy toes, looking out with wide eyes at him as if he was a black rider and come to take me back to undo everything ever done by me and Mr. Frodo and Mr. Merry and Mr. Pippin.

``Rosey!'' I said, crossing over the lawn -- just far enough away from the Elf to keep her from thinking I'd get hurt. ``It's all right. There's nothing to be afraid of.''

``Yes, there is,'' she said in a hushed voice. ``You're going away again. I can feel it.''

``Away? Me leave you and Eleanor. Not in this life,'' I said, though cast a side glance at that Elf and his bright almond eyes. ``What is it exactly that has you calling on us?'' I asked him.

``Gildor summons you to come,'' the figure said, his voice as sweet and hard as rock candy, like Elrond's voice had been, full of dignity and sorrow, yet with enough command to make me quake too.

``Wants me to go where?'' I said, feeling as if maybe Rosey was right. There was that flavor in the air again, like the night Mr. Frodo finally sold Bagend and pretended like he was moving to Crickhollow, but really going off to change the world.

``Your people call it Woody End, I believe,'' the Elf said.

``Woody End?'' I said, all of it coming back to me then. The dense woods, rolling into a fold in the hills where many brakes of Hazel climbed the slopes on either side, and the green ridge nearly unseen from the path, going through the thicket, winding back into the wooded slopes atop a shoulder of the hills that stood out into the lower land of the river valley.

``You mean Woodhall?'' I asked. ``That place where Gildor took us in the woods above the village Woodhall?''

A slow nod came from the Elf. I felt Rosey stir beside me, a nervous filly looking to kick out at me or the Elf, too afraid to do anything but shift her feet. But her nervous eyes hurt to look at, telling me to send this stranger on his way. It was the Mr. Frodo thing again. Ever since me and Merry and Pimpin saw Mr. Frodo and Bilbo off at the Gray Havens she's been expecting me to go, too, as if I'd ever leave her and Eleanor like that. Oh, the urge was there rightly enough, the way it must have been for Frodo after the big party when Bilbo slipped off, never to be seen again by anyone but us-- and not in the Shire either. But something inside me said: "Not yet, Sam Gamgee. Your time hasn't come. So you just do what you're supposed to do, keep your garden and mind your Ps and Q.s. When the time's right, you'll know it well enough."

And even as I looked at the Elf, I knew my time hadn't come. Yet I knew I couldn't go and say no to him when the call came from Gildor. Something in this elf's look said I was supposed to go.

``Let me just talk with Rosey a moment,'' I told the elf, then slipped inside the door, pulling her back into the hallway by the sleeve, my old hood and tunic hanging on one of the many pegs, forgotten from some long passed trek. It had been nearly seven years since Mr. Frodo had sailed, and walking in the woods always reminded me of him -- starting up that ache again.

``Look, Rosey, I'm not going away like I did with old Mr. Frodo,'' I said. ``But if Gildor's asking to see me, I'm willing to bet it's something important and I shouldn't say no. The most I'd be away is a fortnight -- that's no more than when Mr. Frodo sailed over the sea.''

``But what if they want you to do somewhere else, Sam?'' Rosey asked, her eyes so big they could have swallowed me then and there. ``If you went away like that, I'd die.''

``Well I won't go away like that or no other way. Wood Hall's the farthest I'm going and from there I'm coming straight back.''

``You promise, Sam?''

``I swear it on the Lady Galadrial's gifts,'' I said. ``And you know I wouldn't do that unless I meant it.''

She nodded again slowly. She didn't much like my talk of the old tales, and maybe didn't believe half of what me and Merry and Pimpin told her over the years. But she knew that I wouldn't ever take that kind of thing lightly.

``What if they make you?''

``Gildor wouldn't do that.''

``But someone else could. Couldn't you take someone with you-- someone that will make sure you come back.''

``Take someone with me?'' I said. ``Who could I trust to do that?''

``There's Sancho Proudfoot,'' Rose said. ``You and he have been real close since Frodo went away.''

``Sancho's too young,'' I said.

``He's been of age for five years and he's the same age as Pimpin, and Pimpin's getting ready to marry this year on all accounts.''

Pimpin had gone and done all that with Mr. Frodo, had seen black riders and fought in the great shire fight in which Sharky died. Sancho was a bit dull for all his years, a sleepy hobbit growing old the way most hobbits did, digging a bit of earth, walking along the Bywater to the Green Dragon for a pint of beer. He wasn't curious about elves or dwarves or even the rumors of ents on the North Farling. Yet, maybe that was why Rosey wanted him to go along. He wouldn't be tempted by the road, and wouldn't let the road sweep him off for other parts. A regular rock he was, and one that would give her some comfort to have around my ankle if the road tempted me.

``All right,'' I said. ``You go run and get him while I pack a little something for the road.''

She started towards the door, then stopped, her bright eyes peering at me from just inside the door jam, catching a bit of light from the kitchen fire. ``You won't go off on me while I'm gone, will you?''

``I won't budge an inch from Bagend until you get back.''

She looked relieved then ran off to find Sancho. I went back to the door and the elf still standing there. He was a wood elf, near as I could make out, more in line with Legalas than with Gildor, dressed in a green tunic and hood, with brownish hair poking out from under it. His thin pointed shoes seemed nearly new, made from a cultured skin or piece of soft bark. He must have walked miles and yet they showed no wear.

She was right. But Sancho and Pimpin hadn't aged the same way.

"Light as a leaf on water," Frodo once said of the way elves walked.

``I'm getting some gear together,'' I told the elf. ``And Rosey's gone to fetch someone to come with me if it's no burden.'' The elf said nothing, but nodded slowly. I went back into the hole and gathered some cakes and cheese and dried fruit from the pantry, shoving it in a leather sack. I grabbed a spare set of clothing and a blanket. It was still early spring and it got cold out in the woods, even around a fire. The buds were just poking their green and yellow noses out into the air. It would be a month or more before it was warm enough to sleep on the ground with only a cloak.

I was almost done when Rosey ran back, pulling sleepy Sancho along by the hand. He looked about as ready for a walk as a log, but pulled up short when he saw the Elf. He eyes went round.

``Mr. Sam,'' he said in a shaky voice. ``What's going on here. Miss Rose said I should come in a hurry and everything and I'm right here, yet I don't think I like the look of you standing there with a bag in your hand and a.. a...''

``Elf,'' I said. ``He's Elf, Sancho, not a black rider.''

``Pardon me for saying so, Mr. Sam, but an Elf's as bad as a goblin as far as I'm concerned. I mean, no offense intended to you,'' Sancho said with a frightened glance at the Elf. ``But around here, people aren't fond of strangers, and this place -- Bagend's got a queer history for people popping off without anyone saying a word, disappearing right before you eyes, if you can believe half the tales they say about the way old Mr. Bilbo vanished after his birthday party and all...''

``I'm not disappearing, Sancho,'' I said. ``I'm just taking a walk in the woods to Wood Hall to see some folks I used to know.''

``Pardon me for being a fool, maybe, Mr. Sam, but walking anywhere with a -- well, an Elf and all is down right dangerous. You might just go off and disappear like Mr. Bilbo did, or Mr. Frodo after him. If you get my drift.''

``That's why you're going with him, Sancho,'' Rosey said.

``Me? Go into the woods with an...''

``You've got to make sure my Sam comes back.''

``That's a tall order for a hobbit like me, Miss Rose,'' Sancho said. ``What you want is someone like Mr. Pimpin or Mr. Merry. Those two have been through hell and high water and know their way around in a pinch if you know what I mean, and they could take care of a dragon if it came and tried to pinch Mr. Sam and all. But me? I'm no good at that sort of thing. I ain't ever even picked up an axe, let alone a sword and such.''

``No one's asking you to take up a sword,'' I said. ``Rosey just wants you to walk with me there and back. That's all. I already promised I wouldn't go dancing away like Frodo or Bilbo, but she insists that you come along to keep my feet on the ground -- so to speak -- in case I get some fancy ideas in my head and start to float away like they did.''

``You just want me to walk there and back?'' Sancho said, looking relieved and confused at the same time, and perhaps just a trifle disappointed, despite the elf standing near.

``You think you could do that for me?'' Rosey asked.

``I can walk,'' Sancho said. ``I haven't been near as far as Woodhall in all my life, but I know where it's supposed to be and it ain't much farther than a few turns around here when I'm trying to get the garden in shape. I could do it. But are you sure there ain't no dragon on the other end of this, or walking trees the way they say there are up in the North Farling?''

``A few elves is all,'' I told him. ``And you won't have to talk to them at all unless you have a mind to.''

``I can talk to them all right,'' Sancho said, brushing his short brown hair with the palm of his hand. ``But will I understand what they say, them being foreign folks and all?''

``They speak our tongue,'' I said. ``When they have a mind to and a need. Right now, we'd better get you set up with a pack and food and some extra clothing. We might be gone as much as a fortnight and it wouldn't do to have you starve or freeze along the way.''

So I went and dug in one of the closets for another shoulder sack and some spare clothes of Mr. Frodo's (or Bilbo's maybe from the look of it) that neither me nor Rosey had managed to throw out.

And then I came on it, gleaming in a scabbard deep in the back behind the boots and umbrellas, stuck there as an afterthought by Rosey, or maybe hidden back there from before Mr. Frodo went.


This was the blade Bilbo had found in the troll's cave so many years ago, and carried through so many adventures, walking through the dark caverns of the Goblin's lair in the Misty Mountains, then through the webbed traps of the spiders of the Mirkwood. Bilbo had even carried this through to the battle of the Five Armies, though he hadn't much chance to use it then, since someone had conked him on the head early on.

Then, much later, in far-off Rivendell, a much older Bilbo passed it on to Mr. Frodo, saying "You'll need this more than me where you're going," and we did, this little sword cutting our way through the webs of the monster Shelob, and through her hard belly when she tried to crush me, and here it was, in my hand, its leather sheath long ago replaced with something more sturdy.

Holding it up, something cold passed through me, making me nearly drop it again, making me think it wouldn't be proper for me to think about taking it along on a trip to see Gildor, when I knew I'd not need it, yet almost without thinking about it, my hands lid in under my belt, and I turned to taking care of the other things, stuffing clothing into the sack. And then, when coming out again, Rosey handed me a bag full of food.

"I wouldn't want you starving while you're out there," she said.

``Okay,'' I told the Elf. ``We're set.''

Only Rosey wasn't, and rushed up into my arms like she wasn't fixing to ever see me again.

``It's all right, Rosey,'' I told her. ``There and back again, that's all. I promise.''

She nodded but her eyes didn't believe me. Maybe I didn't totally believe it myself, some of that old flavor seeping into everything even as the sun began to peak down into the Tower Hills to the west.

``Just the same you take care of yourself, Sam,'' Rosey said, and then glanced painfully at the elf before retreating into the hole and closed the door.

``Well that's that,'' I said, feeling none too glad to be off, despite Gildor and the old feelings. ``We'd best get on our way. We should put in a few miles before we stop again.''

click here for Part Two

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