کتاب چهارم - فصل 01-02

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سه گانه ارباب حلقه ها

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کتاب چهارم - فصل 01-02

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Under the first shadows of night they started out on the next stage of their journey. After a while Sam turned and looked back at the way they had come. The mouth of the gully was a black notch in the dim cliff. “I’m glad we’ve got the rope,” he said. “We’ve set a little puzzle for that footpad, anyhow. He can try his nasty flappy feet on those ledges!”

They picked their steps away from the skirts of the cliff, among a wilderness of boulders and rough stones, wet and slippery with the heavy rain. The ground still fell away sharply. They had not gone very far when they came upon a great fissure that yawned suddenly black before their feet. It was not wide, but it was too wide to jump across in the dim light. They thought they could hear water gurgling in its depths. It curved away on their left northward, back towards the hills. and so barred their road in that direction, at any rate while darkness lasted.

“We had better try a way back southwards along the line of the cliff, I think,” said Sam. “We might find some nook there, or even a cave or something.”

“I suppose so,” said Frodo. “I’m tired. and I don’t think I can scramble among stones much longer tonight - though I grudge the delay. I wish there was a clear path in front of us: then I’d go on till my legs gave way.”

They did not find the going any easier at the broken feet of the Emyn Muil. Nor did Sam find any nook or hollow to shelter in: only bare stony slopes frowned over by the cliff, which now rose again, higher and more sheer as they went back. In the end, worn out, they just cast themselves on the ground under the lee of a boulder lying not far from the foot of the precipice. There for some time they sat huddled mournfully together in the cold stony night, while sleep crept upon them in spite of all they could do to hold it off. The moon now rode high and clear. Its thin white light lit up the faces of the rocks and drenched the cold frowning walls of the cliff, turning all the wide looming darkness into a chill pale grey scored with black shadows.

“Well! ‘ said Frodo, standing up and drawing his cloak more closely round him. “You sleep for a bit Sam and take my blanket. I’ll walk up and down on sentry for a while.” Suddenly he stiffened, and stooping he gripped Sam by the arm. “What’s that? ‘ he whispered. “Look over there on the cliff!”

Sam looked and breathed in sharply through his teeth. “Ssss!” he said. “That’s what it is. It’s that Gollum! Snakes and adders! And to think that I thought that we’d puzzle him with our bit of a climb! Look at him! Like a nasty crawling spider on a wall.”

Down the face of a precipice, sheer and almost smooth it seemed in the pale moonlight, a small black shape was moving with its thin limbs splayed out. Maybe its soft clinging hands and toes were finding crevices and holds that no hobbit could ever have seen or used, but it looked as if it was just creeping down on sticky pads, like some large prowling thing of insect-kind. And it was coming down head first, as if it was smelling its way. Now and again it lifted its head slowly, turning it right back on its long skinny neck, and the hobbits caught a glimpse of two small pale gleaming lights, its eyes that blinked at the moon for a moment and then were quickly lidded again.

“Do you think he can see us? ‘ said Sam.

“I don’t know,” said Frodo quietly, “but I think not. It is hard even for friendly eyes to see these elven-cloaks: I cannot see you in the shadow even at a few paces. And I’ve heard that he doesn’t like Sun or Moon.”

“Then why is he coming down just here? ‘ asked Sam.

“Quietly, Sam! ‘ said Frodo. “He can smell us, perhaps. And he can hear as keen as Elves, I believe. I think he has heard something now: our voices probably. We did a lot of shouting away back there; and we were talking far too loudly until a minute ago.”

“Well, I’m sick of him,” said Sam. “He’s come once too often for me and I’m going to have a word with him, if I can. I don’t suppose we could give him the slip now anyway.” Drawing his grey hood well over his face, Sam crept stealthily towards the cliff.

“Careful!” whispered Frodo coming behind. “Don’t alarm him! He’s much more dangerous than he looks.”

The black crawling shape was now three-quarters of the way down, and perhaps fifty feet or less above the cliff’s foot. Crouching stone-still in the shadow of a large boulder the hobbits watched him. He seemed to have come to a difficult passage or to be troubled about something. They could hear him snuffling, and now and again there was a harsh hiss of breath that sounded like a curse. He lifted his head, and they thought they heard him spit. Then he moved on again. Now they could hear his voice creaking and whistling.

“Ach, sss! Cautious, my precious! More haste less speed. We musstn’t rissk our neck, musst we, precious? No, precious - gollum!” He lifted his head again, blinked at the moon, and quickly shut his eyes. “We hate it,” he hissed. “Nassty, nassty shivery light it is - sss - it spies on us, precious - it hurts our eyes.”

He was getting lower now and the hisses became sharper and clearer. “Where iss it, where iss it: my Precious, my Precious? It’s ours, it is, and we wants it. The thieves, the thieves, the filthy little thieves. Where are they with my Precious? Curse them! We hates them.”

“It doesn’t sound as if he knew we were here, does it? ‘ whispered Sam. “And what’s his Precious? Does he mean the’

“Hsh! ‘ breathed Frodo. “He’s getting near now, near enough to hear a whisper.”

Indeed Gollum had suddenly paused again, and his large head on its scrawny neck was lolling from side to side as if he was listening. His pale eyes were half unlidded. Sam restrained himself, though his fingers were twitching. His eyes, filled with anger and disgust, were fixed on the wretched creature as he now began to move again, still whispering and hissing to himself.

At last he was no more than a dozen feet from the ground, right above their heads. From that point there was a sheer drop, for the cliff was slightly undercut, and even Gollum could not find a hold of any kind. He seemed to be trying to twist round, so as to go legs first, when suddenly with a shrill whistling shriek he fell. As he did so, he curled his legs and arms up round him, like a spider whose descending thread is snapped.

Sam was out of his hiding in a flash and crossed the space between him and the cliff foot in a couple of leaps. Before Gollum could get up, he was on top of him. But he found Gollum more than he bargained for, even taken like that, suddenly, off his guard after a fall. Before Sam could get a hold, long legs and arms were wound round him pinning his arms, and a clinging grip, soft but horribly strong, was squeezing him like slowly tightening cords; clammy fingers were feeling for his throat. Then sharp teeth bit into his shoulder. All he could do was to butt his hard round head sideways into the creature’s face. Gollum hissed and spat, but he did not let go.

Things would have gone ill with Sam, if he had been alone. But Frodo sprang up, and drew Sting from its sheath. With his left hand he drew back Gollum’s head by his thin lank hair, stretching his long neck, and forcing his pale venomous eyes to stare up at the sky.

“Let go! Gollum,” he said. “This is Sting. You have seen it before once upon a time. Let go, or you’ll feel it this time! I’ll cut your throat.”

Gollum collapsed and went as loose as wet string. Sam got up, fingering his shoulder. His eyes smouldered with anger, but he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay grovelling on the stones whimpering.

“Don’t hurt us! Don’t let them hurt us, precious! They won’t hurt us will they, nice little hobbitses? We didn’t mean no harm, but they jumps on us like cats on poor mices, they did, precious. And we’re so lonely, gollum. We’ll be nice to them, very nice, if they’ll be nice to us, won’t we, yes, yess.”

“Well, what’s to be done with it? ‘ said Sam. “Tie it up, so as it can’t come sneaking after us no more, I say.”

“But that would kill us, kill us,” whimpered Gollum. “Cruel little hobbitses. Tie us up in the cold hard lands and leave us, gollum, gollum.” Sobs welled up in his gobbling throat.

“No,” said Frodo. “If we kill him, we must kill him outright. But we can’t do that, not as things are. Poor wretch! He has done us no harm.”

“Oh hasn’t he! ‘ said Sam rubbing his shoulder. “Anyway he meant to, and he means to, I’ll warrant. Throttle us in our sleep, that’s his plan.”

“I daresay,” said Frodo. “But what he means to do is another matter.” He paused for a while in thought. Gollum lay still, but stopped whimpering. Sam stood glowering over him.

It seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly but far off, voices out of the past:

What a pity Bilbo did not stub the vile creature, when he had a chance!

Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.

I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.

Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

“Very well,” he answered aloud, lowering his sword. “But still I am afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him.”

Sam stared at his master, who seemed to be speaking to some one who was not there. Gollum lifted his head.

“Yess, wretched we are, precious,” he whined. “Misery misery! Hobbits won’t kill us, nice hobbits.”

“No, we won’t,” said Frodo. “But we won’t let you go, either. You’re full of wickedness and mischief, Gollum. You will have to come with us, that’s all, while we keep an eye on you. But you must help us, if you can. One good turn deserves another.”

“Yess, yes indeed,” said Gollum sitting up. “Nice hobbits! We will come with them. Find them safe paths in the dark, yes we will. And where are they going in these cold hard lands, we wonders, yes we wonders? ‘ He looked up at them, and a faint light of cunning and eagerness flickered for a second in his pale blinking eyes.

Sam scowled at him, and sucked his teeth; but he seemed to sense that there was something odd about his master’s mood and that the matter was beyond argument. All the same he was amazed at Frodo’s reply.

Frodo looked straight into Gollum’s eyes which flinched and twisted away. “You know that, or you guess well enough, Sméagol,” he said. quietly and sternly. “We are going to Mordor, of course. And you know the way there, I believe.”

“Ach! sss! ‘ said Gollum, covering his ears with his hands, as if such frankness, and the open speaking of the names, hurt him. “We guessed, yes we guessed,” he whispered; “and we didn’t want them to go, did we? No, precious, not the nice hobbits. Ashes, ashes, and dust, and thirst there is; and pits, pits, pits, and Orcs, thousands of Orcses. Nice hobbits mustn’t go to - sss - those places.”

“So you have been there? ‘ Frodo insisted. “And you’re being drawn back there, aren’t you?”

“Yess. Yess. No! ‘ shrieked Gollum. “Once, by accident it was, wasn’t it, precious? Yes, by accident. But we won’t go back, no, no!” Then suddenly his voice and language changed, and he sobbed in his throat, and spoke but not to them. “Leave me alone, gollum! You hurt me. O my poor hands, gollum! I, we, I don’t want to come back. I can’t find it. I am tired. I, we can’t find it, gollum, gollum, no, nowhere. They’re always awake. Dwarves, Men, and Elves, terrible Elves with bright eyes. I can’t find it. Ach! ‘ He got up and clenched his long hand into a bony fleshless knot, shaking it towards the East. “We won’t! ‘ he cried. “Not for you.” Then he collapsed again. ‘Gollum, gollum,” he whimpered with his face to the ground. “Don’t look at us! Go away! Go to sleep!”

“He will not go away or go to sleep at your command, Sméagol,” said Frodo. “But if you really wish to be free of him again. then you must help me. And that I fear means finding us a path towards him. But you need not go all the way, not beyond the gates of his land.”

Gollum sat up again and looked at him under his eyelids. “He’s over there,” he cackled. “Always there. Orcs will take you all the way. Easy to find Orcs east of the River. Don’t ask Sméagol. Poor, poor Sméagol, he went away long ago. They took his Precious, and he’s lost now.”

“Perhaps we’ll find him again, if you come with us,” said Frodo.

“No, no, never! He’s lost his Precious,” said Gollum.

“Get up! ‘ said Frodo.

Gollum stood up and backed away against the cliff.

“Now! ‘ said Frodo. “Can you find a path easier by day or by night? We’re tired; but if you choose the night, we’ll start tonight.”

“The big lights hurt our eyes, they do,” Gollum whined. “Not under the White Face, not yet. It will go behind the hills soon, yess. Rest a bit first, nice hobbits!”

“Then sit down,” said Frodo, “and don’t move!”

The hobbits seated themselves beside him, one on either side. with their backs to the stony wall, resting their legs. There was no need for any arrangement by word: they knew that they must not sleep for a moment. Slowly the moon went by. Shadows fell down from the hills, and all grew dark before them. The stars grew thick and bright in the sky above. No one stirred. Gollum sat with his legs drawn up, knees under chin, flat hands and feet splayed on the ground, his eyes closed; but he seemed tense, as if thinking or listening.

Frodo looked across at Sam. Their eyes met and they understood. They relaxed, leaning their heads back, and shutting their eyes or seeming to. Soon the sound of their soft breathing could be heard. Gollum’s hands twitched a little. Hardly perceptibly his head moved to the left and the right, and first one eye and then the other opened a slit. The hobbits made no sign.

Suddenly, with startling agility and speed, straight off the ground with a jump like a grasshopper or a frog. Gollum bounded forward into the darkness. But that was just what Frodo and Sam had expected. Sam was on him before he had gone two paces after his spring. Frodo coming behind grabbed his leg and threw him.

“Your rope might prove useful again, Sam.” he said.

Sam got out the rope. “And where were you off to in the cold hard lands, Mr. Gollum?” he growled. “We wonders. aye, we wonders. To find some of your orc-friends, I warrant. You nasty treacherous creature. It’s round your neck this rope ought to go, and a tight noose too.”

Gollum lay quiet and tried no further tricks. He did not answer Sam, but gave him a swift venomous look.

“All we need is something to keep a hold on him,” said Frodo. “We want him to walk, so it’s no good tying his legs-or his arms. he seems to use them nearly as much. Tie one end to his ankle, and keep a grip on the other end.”

He stood over Gollum, while Sam tied the knot. The result surprised them both. Gollum began to scream, a thin, tearing sound, very horrible to hear. He writhed, and tried to get his mouth to his ankle and bite the rope. He kept on screaming.

At last Frodo was convinced that he really was in pain; but it could not be from the knot. He examined it and found that it was not too tight, indeed hardly tight enough. Sam was gentler than his words. “What’s the matter with you? ‘ he said. “If you will try to run away. you must be tied; but we don’t wish to hurt you.”

“It hurts us, it hurts us,” hissed Gollum. “It freezes, it bites! Elves twisted it, curse them! Nasty cruel hobbits! That’s why we tries to escape, of course it is, precious. We guessed they were cruel hobbits. They visits Elves, fierce Elves with bright eyes. Take it off us! It hurts us.”

“No, I will not take it off you,” said Frodo, “not unless’ - he paused a moment in thought - “not unless there is any promise you can make that I can trust.”

“We will swear to do what he wants, yes, yess, said Gollum, still twisting and grabbling at his ankle. “It hurts us.”

“Swear? ‘ said Frodo.

“Sméagol,” said Gollum suddenly and clearly, opening his eyes wide and staring at Frodo with a strange light. “Sméagol will swear on the Precious.”

Frodo drew himself up, and again Sam was startled by his words and his stern voice. “On the Precious? How dare you? ‘ he said. “Think!

One Ring to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them.

Would you commit your promise to that, Sméagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!”

Gollum cowered. “On the Precious. on the Precious! ‘ he repeated.

“And what would you swear? ‘ asked Frodo.

“To be very very good,” said Gollum. Then crawling to Frodo’s feet he grovelled before him, whispering hoarsely: a shudder ran over him, as if the words shook his very bones with fear. “Sméagol will swear never, never, to let Him have it. Never! Sméagol will save it. But he must swear on the Precious.”

“No! not on it,” said Frodo, looking down at him with stern pity. “All you wish is to see it and touch it, if you can, though you know it would drive you mad. Not on it. Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes, you know, Sméagol. It is before you.”

For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another’s minds. Gollum raised himself and began pawing at Frodo, fawning at his knees.

“Down! down! ‘ said Frodo. “Now speak your promise!”

“We promises, yes I promise!” said Gollum. “I will serve the master of the Precious. Good master, good Sméagol, gollum, gollum!” Suddenly he began to weep and bite at his ankle again.

“Take the rope off, Sam!” said Frodo.

Reluctantly Sam obeyed. At once Gollum got up and began prancing about, like a whipped cur whose master has patted it. From that moment a change, which lasted for some time, came over him. He spoke with less hissing and whining, and he spoke to his companions direct, not to his precious self. He would cringe and flinch, if they stepped near him or made any sudden movement, and he avoided the touch of their elven-cloaks; but he was friendly, and indeed pitifully anxious to please. He would cackle with laughter and caper, if any jest was made, or even if Frodo spoke kindly to him, and weep if Frodo rebuked him. Sam said little to him of any sort. He suspected him more deeply than ever, and if possible liked the new Gollum, the Sméagol, less than the old.

“Well, Gollum, or whatever it is we’re to call you,” he said.”now for it! The Moon’s gone. and the night’s going. We’d better start.”

“Yes, yes,” agreed Gollum, skipping about. “Off we go! There’s only one way across between the North-end and the South-end. I found it, I did. Orcs don’t use it, Orcs don’t know it. Orcs don’t cross the Marshes, they go round for miles and miles. Very lucky you came this way. Very lucky you found Sméagol, yes. Follow Sméagol!”

He took a few steps away and looked back inquiringly, like a dog inviting them for a walk. “Wait a bit, Gollum!” cried Sam. “Not too far ahead now! I’m going to be at your tail, and I’ve got the rope handy.”

“No, no! ‘ said Gollum. “Sméagol promised.”

In the deep of night under hard clear stars they set off. Gollum led them back northward for a while along the way they had come; then he slanted to the right away from the steep edge of the Emyn Muil, down the broken stony slopes towards the vast fens below. They faded swiftly and softly into the darkness. Over all the leagues of waste before the gates of Mordor there was a black silence.

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