کتاب ششم - فصل 08-03
- زمان مطالعه 22 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
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Into the middle of this talk came Sam, bursting in with his gaffer. Old Gamgee did not look much older, but he was a little deafer.
“Good evening. Mr. Baggins!” he said. “Glad indeed I am to see you safe back. But I’ve a bone to pick with you, in a manner o’ speaking, if I may make so bold. You didn’t never ought to have a’ sold Bag End, as I always said. That’s what started all the mischief. And while you’re been trapessing in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains from what my Sam says, though what for he don’t make clear, they’ve been and dug up Bagshot Row and ruined my taters!”
“I am very sorry, Mr. Gamgee,” said Frodo. “But now I’ve come back, I’ll do my best to make amends.”
“Well, you can’t say fairer than that,” said the gaffer. “Mr. Frodo Baggins is a real gentlehobbit, I always have said, whatever you may think of some others of the name, begging your pardon. And I hope my Sam’s behaved hisself and given satisfaction?”
“Perfect satisfaction, Mr. Gamgee,” said Frodo. “Indeed, if you will believe it, he’s now one of the most famous people in all the lands, and they are making songs about his deeds from here to the Sea and beyond the Great River.” Sam blushed, but he looked gratefully at Frodo, for Rosie’s eyes were shining and she was smiling at him.
“It takes a lot o’ believing,” said the gaffer, “though I can see he’s been mixing in strange company. What’s come of his weskit? I don’t hold with wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.”
Farmer Cotton’s household and all his guests were up early next morning. Nothing had been heard in the night, but more trouble would certainly come before the day was old. “Seems as if none o’ the ruffians were left up at Bag End,” said Cotton; “but the gang from Waymeet will be along any time now.”
After breakfast a messenger from the Tookland rode in. He was in high spirits. “The Thain has raised all our country,” he said, “and the news is going like fire all ways. The ruffians that were watching our land have fled off south, those that escaped alive. The Thain has gone after them, to hold off the big gang down that way; but he’s sent Mr Peregrin back with all the other folk he can spare.”
The next news was less good. Merry, who had been out all night, came riding in about ten o’clock. “There’s a big band about four miles away,” he said. “They’re coming along the road from Waymeet, but a good many stray ruffians have joined up with them. There must be close on a hundred of them; and they’re fire-raising as they come. Curse them!”
“Ah! This lot won’t stay to talk, they’ll kill, if they can,” said Farmer Cotton. “If Tooks don’t come sooner, we’d best get behind cover and shoot without arguing. There’s got to be some fighting before this is settled, Mr. Frodo.”
The Tooks did come sooner. Before long they marched in, a hundred strong, from Tuckborough and the Green Hills with Pippin at their head. Merry now had enough sturdy hobbitry to deal with the ruffians. Scouts reported that they were keeping close together. They knew that the countryside had risen against them, and plainly meant to deal with the rebellion ruthlessly, at its centre in Bywater. But however grim they, might be, they seemed to have no leader among them who understood warfare. They came on without any precautions. Merry laid his plans quickly.
The ruffians came tramping along the East Road, and without halting turned up the Bywater Road, which ran for some way sloping up between high banks with low hedges on top. Round a bend, about a furlong from the main road, they met a stout barrier of old farm-carts upturned. That halted them. At the same moment they became aware that the hedges on both sides, just above their heads, were all lined with hobbits. Behind them other hobbits now pushed out some more waggons that had been hidden in a field, and so blocked the way back. A voice spoke to them from above.
“Well, you have walked into a trap,” said Merry. “Your fellows from Hobbiton did the same, and one is dead and the rest are prisoners. Lay down your weapons! Then go back twenty paces and sit down. Any who try to break out will be shot.”
But the ruffians could not now be cowed so easily. A few of them obeyed, but were immediately set on by their fellows. A score or more broke back and charged the waggons. Six were shot, but the remainder burst out, killing two hobbits, and then scattering across country in the direction of the Woody End. Two more fell as they ran. Merry blew a loud horn-call, and there were answering calls from a distance.
“They won’t get far,” said Pippin. “All that country is alive with our hunters now.”
Behind, the trapped Men in the lane, still about four score, tried to climb the barrier and the banks, and the hobbits were obliged to shoot many of them or hew them with axes. But many of the strongest and most desperate got out on the west side, and attacked their enemies fiercely, being now more bent on killing than escaping. Several hobbits fell, and the rest were wavering, when Merry and Pippin, who were on the east side, came across and charged the ruffians. Merry himself slew the leader, a great squint-eyed brute like a huge orc. Then he drew his forces off, encircling the last remnant of the Men in a wide ring of archers.
At last all was over. Nearly seventy of the ruffians lay dead on the field, and a dozen were prisoners. Nineteen hobbits were killed, and some thirty were wounded. The dead ruffians were laden on waggons and hauled off to an old sand-pit nearby and there buried: in the Battle Pit, as it was afterwards called. The fallen hobbits were laid together in a grave on the hill-side, where later a great stone was set up with a garden about it. So ended the Battle of Bywater, 1419, the last battle fought in the Shire, and the only battle since the Greenfields, 1147, away up in the Northfarthing. In consequence, though it happily cost very few lives, it has a chapter to itself in the Red Book, and the names of all those who took part were made into a Roll, and learned by heart by Shire-historians. The very considerable rise in the fame and fortune of the Cottons dates from this time; but at the top of the Roll in all accounts stand the names of Captains Meriadoc and Peregrin.
Frodo had been in the battle, but he had not drawn sword, and his chief part had been to prevent the hobbits in their wrath at their losses, from slaying those of their enemies who threw down their weapons. When the fighting was over, and the later labours were ordered, Merry, Pippin, and Sam joined him, and they rode back with the Cottons. They ate a late midday meal, and then Frodo said with a sigh: “Well, I suppose it is time now that we dealt with the “Chief”.”
“Yes indeed; the sooner the better,” said Merry. “And don’t be too gentle! He’s responsible for bringing in these ruffians, and for all the evil they have done.”
Farmer Cotton collected an escort of some two dozen sturdy hobbits. “For it’s only a guess that there is no ruffians left at Bag End,” he said. “We don’t know.” Then they set out on foot. Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin led the way.
It was one of the saddest hours in their lives. The great chimney rose up before them; and as they drew near the old village across the Water, through rows of new mean houses along each side of the road, they saw the new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building straddling the stream, which it fouled with a steaming and stinking overflow. All along the Bywater Road every tree had been felled.
As they crossed the bridge and looked up the Hill they gasped. Even Sam’s vision in the Mirror had not prepared him for what they saw. The Old Grange on the west side had been knocked down, and its place taken by rows of tarred sheds. All the chestnuts were gone. The banks and hedgerows were broken. Great waggons were standing in disorder in a field beaten bare of grass. Bagshot Row was a yawning sand and gravel quarry. Bag End up. beyond could not be seen for a clutter of large huts.
“They’ve cut it down!” cried Sam. “They’ve cut down the Party Tree!” He pointed to where the tree. had stood under which Bilbo had made his Farewell Speech. It was lying lopped and dead in the field. As if this was the last straw Sam burst into tears.
A laugh put an end to them. There was a surly hobbit lounging over the low wall of the mill-yard. He was grimy-faced and black-handed. “Don’t “ee like it, Sam?” he sneered. “But you always was soft. I thought you’d gone off in one o’ them ships you used to prattle about, sailing, sailing. What d’you want to come back for? We’ve work to do in the Shire now.”
“So I see,” said Sam. “No time for washing, but time for wall-propping. But see here, Master Sandyman, I’ve a score to pay in this village, and don’t you make it any longer with your jeering, or you’ll foot a bill too big for your purse.”
Ted Sandyman spat over the wall: “Garn!” he said. “You can’t touch me. I’m a friend o’ the Boss’s. But he’ll touch you all right, if I have any more of your mouth.”
“Don’t waste any more words on the fool, Sam!” said Frodo. “I hope there are not many more hobbits that have become like this. It would be a worse trouble than all the damage the Men have done.”
“You are dirty and insolent, Sandyman,” said Merry. “And also very much out of your reckoning. We are just going up the Hill to remove your precious Boss. We have dealt with his Men.”
Ted gaped, for at that moment he first caught sight of the escort that at a sign from Merry now marched over the bridge. Dashing back into the mill he ran out with a horn and blew it loudly.
“Save your breath!” laughed Merry. “I’ve a better.” Then lifting up his silver horn he winded it, and its clear call rang over the Hill; and out of the holes and sheds and shabby houses of Hobbiton the hobbits answered, and came pouring out, and with cheers and loud cries they followed the company up the road to Bag End.
At the top of the lane the party halted, and Frodo and his friends went on; and they came at last to the once beloved place. The garden was full of huts and sheds, some so near the old westward windows that they cut off all their light. There were piles of refuse everywhere. The door was scarred; the bell-chain was dangling loose, and the bell would not ring. Knocking brought no answer. At length they pushed and the door yielded. They went in. The place stank and was full of filth and disorder: it did not appear to have been used for some time.
“Where is that miserable Lotho hiding?” said Merry. They had searched every room and found no living thing save rats and mice. “Shall we turn on the others to search the sheds?”
“This is worse than Mordor!” said Sam. “Much worse in a way. It comes home to you, as they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it was all ruined.”
“Yes, this is Mordor,” said Frodo. “Just one of its works. Saruman was doing its work all the time, even when he thought he was working for himself. And the same with those that Saruman tricked, like Lotho.”
Merry looked round in dismay and disgust. “Let’s get out!” he said. “If I had known all the mischief he had caused, I should have stuffed my pouch down Saruman’s throat.”
“No doubt, no doubt! But you did not, and so I am able to welcome you home.” There standing at the door was Saruman himself, looking well-fed and well-pleased; his eyes gleamed with malice and amusement.
A sudden light broke on Frodo. “Sharkey!” he cried.
Saruman laughed. “So you have heard the name, have you? All my people used to call me that in Isengard, I believe. A sign of affection, possibly. But evidently you did not expect to see me here.”
“I did not,” said Frodo. “But I might have guessed. A little mischief in a mean way: Gandalf warned me that you were still capable of it.
“Quite capable,” said Saruman, “and more than a little. You made me laugh, you hobbit-lordlings, riding along with all those great people so secure and so pleased with your little selves. You thought you had done very well out of it all, and could now just amble back and have a nice quiet time in the country. Saruman’s home could be all wrecked, and he could be turned out, but no one could touch yours. Oh no! Gandalf would look after your affairs.”
Saruman laughed again. “Not he! When his tools have done their task he drops them. But you must go dangling after him, dawdling and talking, and riding round twice as far as you needed. “Well,” thought I, “if they’re such fools, I will get ahead of them and teach them a lesson. One ill turn deserves another.” It would have been a sharper lesson, if only you had given me a little more time and more Men. Still I have already done much that you will find it hard to mend or undo in your lives. And it will be pleasant to think of that and set it against my injuries.”
“Well, if that is what you find pleasure in,” said Frodo, “I pity you. It will be a pleasure of memory only, I fear. Go at once and never return!”
The hobbits of the villages had seen Saruman come out of one of the huts, and at once they came crowding up to the door of Bag End. When they heard Frodo’s command, they murmured angrily:
“Don’t let him go! Kill him! He’s a villain and a murderer. Kill him!”
Saruman looked round at their hostile faces and smiled. “Kill him!” he mocked. “Kill him, if you think there are enough of you, my brave hobbits!” He drew himself up and stared at them darkly with his black eyes. “But do not think that when I lost all my goods I lost all my power! Whoever strikes me shall be accursed. And if my blood stains the Shire, it shall wither and never again be healed.”
The hobbits recoiled. But Frodo said: “Do not believe him! He has lost all power, save his voice that can still daunt you and deceive you, if you let it. But I will not have him slain. It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing. Go, Saruman, by the speediest way!”
“Worm! Worm!” Saruman called; and out of a nearby hut came Wormtongue, crawling, almost like a dog. To the road again, Worm!” said Saruman. “These fine fellows and lordlings are turning us adrift again. Come along!”
Saruman turned to go, and Wormtongue shuffled after him. But even as Saruman passed close to Frodo a knife flashed in his hand, and he stabbed swiftly. The blade turned on the hidden mail-coat and snapped. A dozen hobbits, led by Sam, leaped forward with a cry and flung the villain to the ground. Sam drew his sword.
“No, Sam!” said Frodo. “Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me. And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it.”
Saruman rose to his feet, and stared at Frodo. There was a strange look in his eyes of mingled wonder and respect and hatred. “You have grown, Halfling,” he said. “Yes, you have grown very much. You are wise, and cruel. You have robbed my revenge of sweetness, and now I must go hence in bitterness, in debt to your mercy. I hate it and you! Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.”
He walked away, and the hobbits made a lane for him to pass; but their knuckles whitened as they gripped on their weapons. Wormtongue hesitated, and then followed his master.
“Wormtongue!” called Frodo. “You need not follow him. I know of no evil you have done to me. You can have rest and food here for a while, until you are stronger and can go your own ways.”
Wormtongue halted and looked back at him, half prepared to stay. Saruman turned. “No evil?” he cackled. “Oh no! Even when he sneaks out at night it is only to look at the stars. But did I hear someone ask where poor Lotho is hiding? You know, don’t you, Worm? Will you tell them?”
Wormtongue cowered down and whimpered: “No, no!”
“Then I will,” said Saruman. “Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss. Didn’t you, Worm? Stabbed him in his sleep, I believe. Buried him, I hope; though Worm has been very hungry lately. No, Worm is not really nice. You had better leave him to me.”
A look of wild hatred came into Wormtongue’s red eyes. “You told me to; you made me do it,” he hissed.
Saruman laughed. “You do what Sharkey says, always, don’t you, Worm? Well, now he says: follow!” He kicked Wormtongue in the face as he grovelled, and turned and made off. But at that something snapped: suddenly Wormtongue rose up, drawing a hidden knife, and then with a snarl like a dog he sprang on Saruman’s back, jerked his head back, cut his throat, and with a yell ran off down the lane. Before Frodo could recover or speak a word, three hobbit-bows twanged and Wormtongue fell dead.
To the dismay of those that stood by, about the body of Saruman a grey mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.
Frodo looked down at the body with pity and horror, for as he looked it seemed that long years of death were suddenly revealed in it, and it shrank, and the shrivelled face became rags of skin upon a hideous skull. Lifting up the skirt of the dirty cloak that sprawled beside it, he covered it over, and turned away.
“And that’s the end of that,” said Sam. “A nasty end, and I wish I needn’t have seen it; but it’s a good riddance.”
“And the very last end of the War, I hope,” said Merry.
“I hope so,” said Frodo and sighed. “The very last stroke. But to think that it should fall here, at the very door of Bag End! Among all my hopes and fears at least I never expected that.”
“I shan’t call it the end, till we’ve cleared up the mess,” said Sam gloomily. “And that’ll take a lot of time and work.”
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