کتاب سوم - فصل 11-02

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کتاب سوم - فصل 11-02

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Gandalf looked at Aragorn, and then, to the surprise of the others, he lifted the covered Stone, and bowed as he presented it.

“Receive it, lord!” he said:”in earnest of other things that shall be given back. But if I may counsel you in the use of your own, do not use it - yet! Be wary!”

“When have I been hasty or unwary, who have waited and prepared for so many long years?” said Aragorn.

“Never yet. Do not then stumble at the end of the road,” answered Gandalf. “But at the least keep this thing secret. You, and all others that stand here! The hobbit, Peregrin, above all should not know where it is bestowed. The evil fit may come on him again. For alas! he has handled it and looked in it, as should never have happened. He ought never to have touched it in Isengard, and there I should have been quicker. But my mind was bent on Saruman, and I did not at once guess the nature of the Stone. Then I was weary, and as I lay pondering it, sleep overcame me. Now I know!”

“Yes, there can be no doubt,” said Aragorn. “At last we know the link’ between Isengard and Mordor, and how it worked. Much is explained.” “Strange powers have our enemies, and strange weaknesses!” said Théoden. “But it has long been said: oft evil will shall evil mar.”

“That many times is seen,” said Gandalf. “But at this time we have been strangely fortunate. Maybe, I have been saved by this hobbit from a grave blunder. I had considered whether or not to probe this Stone myself to find its uses. Had I done so, I should have been revealed to him myself. I am not ready for such a trial, if indeed I shall ever be so: But even if I found the power to withdraw myself, it would be disastrous for him to see me, yet - until the hour comes when secrecy will avail no longer.”

“That hour is now come, I think,” said Aragorn.

“Not yet,” said Gandalf. “There remains a short while of doubt which we must use. The Enemy, it is clear, thought that the Stone was in Orthanc - why should he not? And that therefore the hobbit was captive there, driven to look in the glass for his torment by Saruman. That dark mind will be filled now with the voice and face of the hobbit and with expectation: it may take some time before he learns his error. We must snatch that time. We have been too leisurely. We must move. The neighbourhood of Isengard is no place now to linger in. I will ride ahead at once with Peregrin Took. It will be better for him than lying in the dark while others sleep.”

“I will keep Éomer and ten Riders,” said the king. “They shall ride with me at early day. The rest may go with Aragorn and ride as soon as they have a mind.”

“As you will,” said Gandalf. “But make all the speed you may to the cover of the hills, to Helm’s Deep!”

At that moment a shadow fell over them. The bright moonlight seemed to be suddenly cut off. Several of the Riders cried out, and crouched, holding their arms above their heads, as if to ward off a blow from above: a blind fear and a deadly cold fell on them. Cowering they looked up. A vast winged shape passed over the moon like a black cloud. It wheeled and went north, flying at a speed greater than any wind of Middle-earth. The stars fainted before it. It was gone.

They stood up, rigid as stones. Gandalf was gazing up, his arms out and downwards, stiff, his hands clenched.

“Nazgûl!” he cried. “The messenger of Mordor. The storm is coming. The Nazgûl have crossed the River! Ride, ride! Wait not for the dawn! Let not the swift wait for the slow! Ride!”

He sprang away, calling Shadowfax as he ran. Aragorn followed him. Going to Pippin, Gandalf picked him up in his arms. “You shall come with me this time,” he said. “Shadowfax shall show you his paces.” Then he ran to the place where he had slept. Shadowfax stood there already. Slinging the small bag which was all his luggage across his shoulders, the wizard leapt upon the horse’s back. Aragorn lifted Pippin and set him in Gandalf’s arms, ,wrapped in cloak and blanket.

“Farewell! Follow fast!” cried Gandalf. “Away, Shadowfax!”

The great horse tossed his head. His flowing tail flicked in the moonlight. Then he leapt forward, spurning the earth, and was gone like the north wind from the mountains.

“A beautiful, restful night!” said Merry to Aragorn. “Some folk have wonderful luck. He did not want to sleep, and he wanted to ride with Gandalf - and there he goes! Instead of being turned into a stone himself to stand here for ever as a warning.”

“If you had been the first to lift the Orthanc-stone, and not he, how would it be now?” said Aragorn. “You might have done worse. Who can say? But now it is your luck to come with me, I fear. At once. Go and get ready, and bring anything that Pippin left behind. Make haste!”

Over the plains Shadowfax was flying, needing no urging and no guidance. Less than an hour had passed, and they had reached the Fords of Isen and crossed them. The Mound of the Riders and its cold spears lay grey behind them.

Pippin was recovering. He was warm, but the wind in his face was keen and refreshing. He was with Gandalf. The horror of the stone and of the hideous shadow over the moon was fading, things left behind in the mists of the mountains or in a passing dream. He drew a deep breath.

“I did not know you rode bare-back, Gandalf,” he said. “You haven’t a saddle or a bridle!”

“I do not ride elf-fashion, except on Shadowfax,” said Gandalf. “But Shadowfax will have no harness. You do not ride Shadowfax: he is willing to carry you-or not. If he is willing, that is enough. It is then his business to see that you remain on his back, unless you jump off into the air.”

“How fast is he going?” asked Pippin. “Fast by the wind, but very smooth. And how light his footfalls are!”

“He is running now as fast as the swiftest horse could gallop,” answered Gandalf;”but that is not fast for him. The land is rising a little here, and is more broken than it was beyond the river. But see how the White Mountains are drawing near under the stars! Yonder are the Thrihyrne peaks like black spears. It will not be long before we reach the branching roads and come to the Deeping-coomb, where the battle was fought two nights ago.”

Pippin was silent again for a while. He heard Gandalf singing softly to himself, murmuring brief snatches of rhyme in many tongues, as the miles ran under them. At last the wizard passed into a song of which the hobbit caught the words: a few lines came clear to his ears through the rushing of the wind: Tall ships and tall kings

Three times three,

What brought they from the foundered land

Over the flowing sea?

Seven stars and seven stones

And one white tree.

“What are you saying, Gandalf?” asked Pippin.

“I was just running over some of the Rhymes of Lore in my mind ‘ answered the wizard. “Hobbits, I suppose, have forgotten them, even those that they ever knew.”

“No, not all,” said Pippin. “And we have many of our own, which wouldn’t interest you, perhaps. But I have never heard this one. What is it about - the seven stars and seven stones?”

“About the palantíri of the Kings of Old,” said Gandalf.

“And what are they?”

“The name meant that which looks far away. The Orthanc-stone was one.”

“Then it was not made, not made’ - Pippin hesitated -“by the Enemy?”

“No,” said Gandalf. “Nor by Saruman. It is beyond his art, and beyond Sauron’s too. The palantíri came from beyond Westernesse from Eldamar. The Noldor made them. Fëanor himself, maybe, wrought them, in days so long ago that the time cannot be measured in years. But there is nothing that Sauron cannot turn to evil uses. Alas for Saruman! It was his downfall, as I now perceive. Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves. Yet he must bear the blame. Fool! to keep it secret, for his own profit. No word did he ever speak of it to any of the Council. We had not yet given thought to the fate of the palantíri of Gondor in its ruinous wars. By Men they were almost forgotten. Even in Gondor they were a secret known only to a few; in Arnor they were remembered only in a rhyme of lore among the Dúnedain.”

“What did the Men of old use them for?” asked Pippin, delighted and astonished at getting answers to so many questions, and wondering how long it would last.

“To see far off, and to converse in thought with one another,” said Gandalf. “In that way they long guarded and united the realm of Gondor. They set up Stones at Minas Anor, and at Minas Ithil, and at Orthanc in the ring of Isengard. The chief and master of these was under the Dome of Stars at Osgiliath before its ruin. The three others were far away in the North. In the house of Elrond it is told that they were at Annúminas, and Amon Sûl, and Elendil’s Stone was on the Tower Hills that look towards Mithlond in the Gulf of Lune where the grey ships lie.

“Each palantír replied to each, but all those in Gondor were ever open to the view of Osgiliath. Now it appears that, as the rock of Orthanc has withstood the storms of time, so there the palantír of that tower has remained. But alone it could do nothing but see small images of things far off and days remote. Very useful, no doubt, that was to Saruman; yet it seems that he was not content. Further and further abroad he gazed, until he cast his gaze upon Barad-dûr. Then he was caught!

“Who knows where the lost Stones of Arnor and Gondor now lie buried, or drowned deep? But one. at least Sauron must have obtained and mastered to his purposes. I guess that it was the Ithil-stone, for he took Minas Ithil long ago and turned it into an evil place: Minas Morgul, it has become.

“Easy it is now to guess how quickly the roving eye of Saruman was trapped and held; and how ever since he has been persuaded from afar, and daunted when persuasion would not serve. The biter bit, the hawk under the eagle’s foot, the spider in a steel web! How long, I wonder, has he been constrained to come often to his glass for inspection and instruction, and the Orthanc-stone so bent towards Barad-dûr that, if any save a will of adamant now looks into it, it will bear his mind and sight swiftly thither? And how it draws one to itself! Have I not felt it? Even now my heart desires to test my will upon it, to see if I could not wrench it from him and turn it where I would-to look across the wide seas of water and of time to Tirion the Fair, and perceive the unimaginable hand and mind of Fëanor at their work, while both the White Tree and the Golden were in flower!” He sighed and fell silent.

“I wish I had known all this before,” said Pippin. “I had no notion of what I was doing.”

“Oh yes, you had,” said Gandalf. “You knew you were behaving wrongly and foolishly; and you told yourself so, though you did not listen. I did not tell you all this before, because it is only by musing on all that has happened that I have at last understood, even as we ride together. But if I had spoken sooner, it would not have lessened your desire, or made it easier to resist. On the contrary! No, the burned hand teaches best. After that advice about fire goes to the heart.”

“It does,” said Pippin. “If all the seven stones were laid out before me now, I should shut my eyes and put my hands in my pockets.”

“Good!” said Gandalf. “That is what I hoped.”

“But I should like to know-“ Pippin began.

“Mercy!” cried Gandalf. “If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?”

“The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas ‘ laughed Pippin. “Of course! What less? But I am not in a hurry tonight. At the moment I was just wondering about the black shadow. I heard you shout “messenger of Mordor”. What was it? What could it do at Isengard?”

“It was a Black Rider on wings, a Nazgûl,” said Gandalf. “It could have taken you away to the Dark Tower.”

“But it was not coming for me, was it?” faltered Pippin. “I mean, it didn’t know that I had… ‘

“Of course not,” said Gandalf. “It is two hundred leagues or more in straight flight from Barad-dûr to Orthanc, and even a Nazgûl would take a few hours to fly between them. But Saruman certainly looked in the Stone since the orc-raid, and more of his secret thought, I do not doubt, has been read than he intended. A messenger has been sent to find out what he is doing. And after what has happened tonight another will come, I think, and swiftly. So Saruman will come to the last pinch of the vice that he has put his hand in. He has no captive to send. He has no Stone to see with, and cannot answer the summons. Sauron will only believe that he is withholding the captive and refusing to use the Stone. It will not help Saruman to tell the truth to the messenger. For Isengard may be ruined, yet he is still safe in Orthanc. So whether he will or no, he will appear a rebel. Yet he rejected us, so as to avoid that very thing! What he will do in such a plight, I cannot guess. He has power still, I think, while in Orthanc, to resist the Nine Riders. He may try to do so. He may try to trap the Nazgûl, or at least to slay the thing on which it now rides the air. In that case let Rohan look to its horses!

“But I cannot tell how it will fall out, well or ill for us. It may be that the counsels of the Enemy will be confused, or hindered by his wrath with Saruman. It may be that he will learn that I was there and stood upon the stairs of Orthanc-with hobbits at my tail. Or that an heir of Elendil lives and stood beside me. If Wormtongue was not deceived by the armour of Rohan, he would remember Aragorn and the title that he claimed. That is what I fear. And so we fly - not from danger but into greater danger. Every stride of Shadowfax bears you nearer to the Land of Shadow, Peregrin Took.”

Pippin made no answer, but clutched his cloak, as if a sudden chill had struck him. Grey land passed under them.

“See now!” said Gandalf. “The Westfold dales are opening before us. Here we come back to the eastward road. The dark shadow yonder is the mouth of the Deeping-coomb. That way lies Aglarond and the Glittering Caves. Do not ask me about them. Ask Gimli, if you meet again, and for the first time you may get an answer longer than you wish. You will not see the caves yourself, not on this journey. Soon they will be far behind.”

“I thought you were going to stop at Helm’s Deep!” said Pippin. “Where are you going then?”

“To Minas Tirith, before the seas of war surround it.”

“Oh! And how far is that?”

“Leagues upon leagues,” answered Gandalf. “Thrice as far as the dwellings of King Théoden, and they are more than a hundred miles east from here, as the messengers of Mordor fly. Shadowfax must run a longer road. Which will prove the swifter?

“We shall ride now till daybreak, and that is some hours away. Then even Shadowfax must rest, in some hollow of the hills: at Edoras, I hope. Sleep, if you can! You may see the first glimmer of dawn upon the golden roof of the house of Eorl. And in two days thence you shall see the purple shadow of Mount Mindolluin and the walls of the tower of Denethor white in the morning.

“Away now, Shadowfax! Run, greatheart, run as you have never run before! Now we are come to the lands where you were foaled and every stone you know. Run now! Hope is in speed!”

Shadowfax tossed his head and cried aloud, as if a trumpet had summoned him to battle. Then he sprang forward. Fire flew from his feet; night rushed over him.

As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.

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