کتاب چهارم - فصل 05-01

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کتاب چهارم - فصل 05-01

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Chapter 5:

The Window on the West

It seemed to Sam that he had only dozed for a few minutes when he awoke to find that it was late afternoon and Faramir had come back. He had brought many men with him; indeed all the survivors of the foray were now gathered on the slope nearby, two or three hundred strong. They sat in a wide semicircle, between the arms of which Faramir was seated on the ground, while Frodo stood before him. It looked strangely like the trial of a prisoner.

Sam crept out from the fern, but no one paid any attention to him, and he placed himself at the end of the rows of men, where he could see and hear all that was going on. He watched and listened intently, ready to dash to his master’s aid if needed. He could see Faramir’s face, which was now unmasked: it was stern and commanding, and a keen wit lay behind his searching glance. Doubt was in the grey eyes that gazed steadily at Frodo.

Sam soon became aware that the Captain was not satisfied with Frodo’s account of himself at several points: what part he had to play in the Company that set out from Rivendell; why he had left Boromir; and where he was now going. In particular he returned often to Isildur’s Bane. Plainly he saw that Frodo was concealing from him some matter of great importance.

“But it was at the coming of the Halfling that Isildur’s Bane should waken, or so one must read the words,” he insisted. “If then you are the Halfling that was named, doubtless you brought this thing, whatever it may be, to the Council of which you speak, and there Boromir saw it. Do you deny it? ‘

Frodo made no answer. “So! ‘ said Faramir. “I wish then to learn from you more of it; for what concerns Boromir concerns me. An orc-arrow slew Isildur, so far as old tales tell. But orc-arrows are plenty, and the sight of one would not be taken as a sign of Doom by Boromir of Gondor. Had you this thing in keeping? It is hidden, you say; but is not that because you choose to hide it? ‘ “No, not because I choose,” answered Frodo. “It does not belong to me. It does not belong to any mortal, great or small; though if any could claim it, it would be Aragorn son of Arathorn, whom I named, the leader of our Company from Moria to Rauros.”

“Why so, and not Boromir, prince of the City that the sons of Elendil founded? ‘

“Because Aragorn is descended in direct lineage, father to father, from Isildur Elendil’s son himself. And the sword that he bears was Elendil’s sword.”

A murmur of astonishment ran through all the ring of men. Some cried aloud: “The sword of Elendil! The sword of Elendil comes to Minas Tirith! Great tidings! ‘ But Faramir’s face was unmoved.

“Maybe,” he said. “But so great a claim will need to be established and clear proofs will be required, should this Aragorn ever come to Minas Tirith. He had not come, nor any of your Company, when I set out six days ago.”

“Boromir was satisfied of that claim,” said Frodo. “Indeed, if Boromir were here, he would answer all your questions. And since he was already at Rauros many days back, and intended then to go straight to your city, if you return, you may soon learn the answers there. My part in the Company was known to him, as to all the others. for it was appointed to me by Elrond of Imladris himself before the whole Council. On that errand I came into this country, but it is not mine to reveal to any outside the Company. Yet those who claim to oppose the Enemy would do well not to hinder it.”

Frodo’s tone was proud, whatever he felt, and Sam approved of it; but it did not appease Faramir.

“So!” he said. “You bid me mind my own affairs, and get me back home, and let you be. Boromir will tell all, when he comes. When he comes, say you! Were you a friend of Boromir?”

Vividly before Frodo’s mind came the memory of Boromir’s assault upon him, and for a moment he hesitated. Faramir’s eyes watching him grew harder. “Boromir was a valiant member of our Company ‘ said Frodo at length. “Yes, I was his friend, for my part.”

Faramir smiled grimly. “Then you would grieve to learn that Boromir is dead? ‘

“I would grieve indeed,” said Frodo. Then catching the look in Faramir’s eyes, he faltered. “Dead?” he said. “Do you mean that he is dead, and that you knew it? You have been trying to trap me in words, playing with me? Or are you now trying to snare me with a falsehood?”

“I would not snare even an orc with a falsehood,” said Faramir.

“How then did he die, and how do you know of it? Since you say that none of the Company had reached the city when you left.”

“As to the manner of his death, I had hoped that his friend and companion would tell me how it was.”

“But he was alive and strong when we parted. And he lives still for all that I know. Though surely there are many perils in the world.”

“Many indeed,” said Faramir, “and treachery not the least.”

Sam had been getting more and more impatient and angry at this conversation. These last words were more than he could bear, and bursting into the middle of the ring, he strode up to his master’s side.

“Begging your pardon, Mr. Frodo,” he said, “but this has gone on long enough. He’s no right to talk to you so. After all you’ve gone through, as much for his good and all these great Men as for anyone else.

“See here, Captain! ‘ He planted himself squarely in front of Faramir his hands on his hips, and a look on his face as if he was addressing a young hobbit who had offered him what he called “sauce’ when questioned about visits to the orchard. There was some murmuring, but also some grins on the faces of the men looking on: the sight of their Captain sitting on the ground and eye to eye with a young hobbit, legs well apart, bristling with wrath, was one beyond their experience. “See here! ‘ he said. “What are you driving at? Let’s come to the point before all the Orcs of Mordor come down on us! If you think my master murdered this Boromir and then ran away, you’ve got no sense; but say it, and have done! And then let us know what you mean to do about it. But it’s a pity that folk as talk about fighting the Enemy can’t let others do their bit in their own way without interfering. He’d be mighty pleased, if he could see you now. Think he’d got a new friend, he would.”

“Patience!” said Faramir, but without anger. “Do not speak before your master, whose wit is greater than yours. And I do not need any to teach me of our peril. Even so, I spare a brief time, in order to judge justly in a hard matter. Were I as hasty as you, I might have slain you long ago. For I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor. But I do not slay man or beast needlessly, and not gladly even when it is needed. Neither do I talk in vain. So be comforted. Sit by your master, and be silent! ‘ Sam sat down heavily with a red face. Faramir turned to Frodo again: “You asked how do I know that the son of Denethor is dead. Tidings of death have many wings. Night oft brings news to near kindred,”tis said. Boromir was my brother.”

A shadow of sorrow passed over his face. “Do you remember aught of special mark that the Lord Boromir bore with him among his gear?”

Frodo thought for a moment, fearing some further trap, and wondering how this debate would turn in the end. He had hardly saved the Ring from the proud grasp of Boromir, and how he would fare now among so many men, warlike and strong, he did not know. Yet he felt in his heart that Faramir, though he was much like his brother in looks, was a man less self-regarding, both sterner and wiser. “I remember that Boromir bore a horn,” he said at last.

“You remember well, and as one who has in truth seen him,” said Faramir. “Then maybe you can see it in your mind’s eye: a great horn of the wild ox of the East, bound with silver, and written with ancient characters. That horn the eldest son of our house has borne for many generations; and it is said that if it be blown at need anywhere within the bounds of Gondor, as the realm was of old, its voice will not pass unheeded.

“Five days ere I set out on this venture, eleven days ago at about this hour of the day, I heard the blowing of that horn: from the northward it seemed, but dim, as if it were but an echo in the mind. A boding of ill we thought it, my father and I, for no tidings had we heard of Boromir since he went away, and no watcher on our borders had seen him pass. And on the third night after another and a stranger thing befell me.

“I sat at night by the waters of Anduin, in the grey dark under the young pale moon, watching the ever-moving stream; and the sad reeds were rustling. So do we ever watch the shores nigh Osgiliath, which our enemies now partly hold, and issue from it to harry our lands. But that night all the world slept at the midnight hour. Then I saw, or it seemed that I saw, a boat floating on the water, glimmering grey, a small boat of a strange fashion with a high prow. and there was none to row or steer it.

“An awe fell on me, for a pale light was round it. But I rose and went to the bank, and began to walk out into the stream, for I was drawn towards it. Then the boat turned towards me, and stayed its pace, and floated slowly by within my hand’s reach, yet I durst not handle it. It waded deep, as if it were heavily burdened, and it seemed to me as it passed under my gaze that it was almost filled with clear water, from which came the light; and lapped in the water a warrior lay asleep.

“A broken sword was on his knee. I saw many wounds on him. It was Boromir, my brother, dead. I knew his gear, his sword, his beloved face. One thing only I missed: his horn. One thing only I knew not: a fair belt, as it were of linked golden leaves, about his waist. Boromir! I cried. Where is thy horn? Whither goest thou? O Boromir! But he was gone. The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was. and yet no dream, for there was no waking. And I do not doubt that he is dead and has passed down the River to the Sea.”

“Alas!” said Frodo. “That was indeed Boromir as I knew him. For the golden belt was given to him in Lothlórien by the Lady Galadriel. She it was that clothed us as you see us, in elven-grey. This brooch is of the same workmanship.” He touched the green and silver leaf that fastened his cloak beneath his throat.

Faramir looked closely at it. “It is beautiful,” he said. “Yes,”tis work of the same craft. So then you passed through the Land of Lórien? Laurelindórenan it was named of old, but long now it has lain beyond the knowledge of Men,” he added softly, regarding Frodo with a new wonder in his eyes. “Much that was strange about you I begin now to understand. Will you not tell me more? For it is a bitter thought that Boromir died, within sight of the land of his home.”

“No more can I say than I have said,” answered Frodo. “Though your tale fills me with foreboding. A vision it was that you saw, I think, and no more, some shadow of evil fortune that has been or will be. Unless indeed it is some lying trick of the Enemy. I have seen the faces of fair warriors of old laid in sleep beneath the pools of the Dead Marshes, or seeming so by his foul arts.”

“Nay, it was not so,” said Faramir. “For his works fill the heart with loathing; but my heart was filled with grief and pity.”

“Yet how could such a thing have happened in truth? ‘ asked Frodo. “For no boat could have been carried over the stony hills from Tol Brandir; and Boromir purposed to go home across the Entwash and the fields of Rohan. And yet how could any vessel ride the foam of the great falls and not founder in the boiling pools, though laden with water? ‘ “I know not,” said Faramir. “But whence came the boat? ‘

“From Lórien,” said Frodo. “In three such boats we rowed down Anduin to the Falls. They also were of elven-work.”

“You passed through the Hidden Land,” said Faramir, “but it seems that you little understood its power. If Men have dealings with the Mistress of Magic who dwells in the Golden Wood, then they may look for strange things to follow. For it is perilous for mortal man to walk out of the world of this Sun, and few of old came thence unchanged,”tis said.

“Boromir, O Boromir!’ he cried. “What did she say to you, the Lady that dies not? What did she see? What woke in your heart then? Why went you ever to Laurelindórenan, and came not by your own road, upon the horses of Rohan riding home in the morning?’

Then turning again to Frodo, he spoke in a quiet voice once more. “To those questions I guess that you could make some answer, Frodo son of Drogo. But not here or now. maybe. But lest you still should think my tale a vision, I will tell you this. The horn of Boromir at least returned in truth, and not in seeming. The horn came, but it was cloven in two, as it were by axe or sword. The shards came severally to shore: one was found among the reeds where watchers of Gondor lay, northwards below the infalls of the Entwash; the other was found spinning on the flood by one who had an errand in the water. Strange chances, but murder will out,”tis said.

“And now the horn of the elder son lies in two pieces upon the lap of Denethor, sitting in his high chair, waiting for news. And you can tell me nothing of the cleaving of the horn? ‘

“No, I did not know of it,” said Frodo. “But the day when you heard it blowing, if your reckoning is true, was the day when we parted, when I and my servant left the Company. And now your tale fills me with dread. For if Boromir was then in peril and was slain, I must fear that all my companions perished too. And they were my kindred and my friends.

“Will you not put aside your doubt of me and let me go? I am weary, and full of grief, and afraid. But I have a deed to do, or to attempt, before I too am slain. And the more need of haste, if we two halflings are all that remain of our fellowship.

“Go back, Faramir, valiant Captain of Gondor, and defend your city while you may, and let me go where my doom takes me.”

“For me there is no comfort in our speech together,” said Faramir; “but you surely draw from it more dread than need be. Unless the people of Lórien themselves came to him, who arrayed Boromir as for a funeral? Not Orcs or servants of the Nameless. Some of your Company, I guess, live still.

“But whatever befell on the North March, you, Frodo, I doubt no longer. If hard days have made me any judge of Men’s words and faces, then I may make a guess at Halflings! Though,” and now he smiled, “there is something strange about you, Frodo, an elvish air, maybe. But more lies upon our words together than I thought at first. I should now take you back to Minas Tirith to answer there to Denethor, and my life will justly be forfeit, if I now choose a course that proves ill for my city. So I will not decide in haste what is to be done. Yet we must move hence without more delay.”

He sprang to his feet and issued some orders. At once the men who were gathered round him broke up into small groups, and went off this way and that, vanishing quickly into the shadows of the rocks and trees. Soon only Mablung and Damrod remained.

“Now you, Frodo and Samwise, will come with me and my guards,” said Faramir. “You cannot go along the road southwards, if that was your purpose. It will be unsafe for some days, and always more closely watched after this affray than it has been yet. And you cannot, I think, go far today in any case, for you are weary. And so are we. We are going now to a secret place we have, somewhat less than ten miles from here. The Orcs and spies of the Enemy have not found it yet, and if they did, we could hold it long even against many. There we may lie up and rest for a while, and you with us. In the morning I will decide what is best for me to do, and for you.”

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