Well, I wrote this for a class assignment, actually, and I thought – why not! – I will post it onto my blog. I enjoyed writing it, and I enjoyed reading it, too! (Not often the case with my literary analysis essays).
Chapter XVII or-so: The Fellowship Returns to Hobbiton –
To Make Good on Sam’s Wish to Serve Gollum Stewed Coney
In this piece of “fan fiction” on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I will ask of the reader that he or she accept an alternate ending to take place – one in which Gollum lives. Let’s say: when Frodo puts on the ring, Gollum is too far away, watching from the nooks of the cliff wall; perhaps he tries so hard to get to Frodo that his feet can’t keep up with him, and goes headlong into the dirt, and hits his head on a well-placed rock. When he stops seeing stars, he looks up to see that it is Sam who has Frodo in a bear hug, his ringed hand and arm in a double python grip! of Sam’s arms and hands, and Sam is biting at Frodo’s knuckles. He knows, you see, that he will never get Frodo back if he lets him sneak out of that cave, and find himself a lair to lurk in for five hundred years. So Sam has no qualms about gnawing on his beloved Mr. Frodo’s hand to prevent this from happening. (Don’t worry, reader, he does not have to bite the finger completely off). He wrenches it from him! – at last – and tarries not an instant for the infernal thing to tempt his mind before he hurls it for all he is worth right out into the gawdamn Crack of Doom– … and a sadness, like he has never felt before, blooms in his mind and weighs him down; for he sees a glorious, charming image of the most heavenly garden in all of Hobbiton and Buckland combined, and him standing proudly with one foot atop his planted shovel, smirking (Sam perceived, though, an unsettling something in that smirk) smirking out at himself, and fading, fading – away into oblivion as the ring turns in slow motion and begins the drop down into the fires and – “OY! Where d’you think yor goin, Stinker?!” Sam charges off to his right and throws his arms wide before tackling the scrawny gray creature down, who had been flapping his feet like mad to reach the ring, just to touch it one more time. Just ONCE more; PLEASE! (I confess, reader: a lot of this is influenced by Peter Jackson’s film; I can’t not see Sean Astin, for example; and the distraught mess of a hobbit crumpled at the base of the cave wall over there, nursing his hand? Yep: Elijah Wood. Gollum? No disrespect whatsoever to Andy Serkis, but he is completely or mostly as-imagined while reading the novels). Anyways, so Sam – acting completely unconsciously – has discovered that he has astounding football skills – of a Rudy of Notre Dame, say – and once he cut Gollum off at the pass, of course it was hopeless for him to escape Sam, who wrapped him up in his patented bear hug and came crashing down on him into the dirt with an “oof!” – from Sam – and a long loud, blood-curdling shriek of physical and psychological agony from Gollum. (No, Sam’s reason for tackling him was not due to his desire to follow through on his promise, from a week ago, to provide Gollum with the best coney dinner he’d ever had in his life! he just – well, reader, I guess I just wanted to have Sam tackle him like Rudy of Notre Dame would. It was an epic tackle, indeed. Gollum was kind of not-alright. I don’t believe he broke anything, though.
And now we are on our trip back home, at last! I cannot say that all are in good spirits, but Sam sure is! The other two are still nursing their injuries. Frodo’s finger Sam took excellent care of, and it is all bandaged up, with a special elven ointment gotten from Legolas, when the whole crew had met up and celebrated their great victory – smoked, drank wine, ate salted pork – the whole nine yards. Anyways, Gollum was in pretty bad shape indeed, but, definitely no broken bones. His shoulder had received a pretty good sprain, and several other parts of him, deep bruises – hip, ribs, elbow – you get the picture. But at least he didn’t burn to death in lava and spend eternity reaching for the ring, and almost – so close! – able to grab it, but it always rolls on away further into the darkness. Well Sam was enjoying the scenery immensely. “Who would’ve thought it, Mr. Frodo! Little old Samwise Gamgee, in Gondor! Gondor of all places. … Ah if only the Gaffer could see me now.” “Yes, Sam. Indeed,” Frodo managed, with a glance up at Sam and an attempt at a warm smile. He still felt heavy and drab, and slightly ashamed of himself on top of it all. He was trying to block out that terrible image of himself, as he decided to keep the ring in the end (suffice to say, reader, he was not “the king of gardeners” in this image, no!). Yet he couldn’t help but feel his spirits lifted a little, looking at the grin of kind-hearted old Sam, and his mutely moving lips as he gazed out and grinned at a world that must be – just – good. “… and we’ll have strawberries and cream again, Mr. Frodo! Just think ‘a that, eh!” “Wh-what’s that, Precious?!” “Oh come off it, you! I know you’ve had it before, Gollum.” Frodo’s eye sparkled a bit. That did sound rather pleasant, strawberries and cream. They would be in season now, and the Gaffer will have had them all picked and washed and served in brilliant bowls. He looked about him, on their road, and the trees looked green and pleasant again. The birds didn’t only croak, like mocking crows, they also piped sweetly. He sighed a deep, shuddering sigh, and huddled into his elven cloak. Sam glanced at him worriedly. Something’s not right with Mr. Frodo his mind said, against his will.
They trooped on their way along the road: miles and miles – but so pleasant and peaceful. No orcs on their heels, no goblins chiding them and cracking their whips and laughing gleefully at their plans once they got them in their smelly grips and dragged them down, down, into the deepest cave in the mountains for endless torture sessions. “I wonder where old Bill the pony is by now!” Sam mused, and grinned out sadly, with his face turned to the forested hills. This gave Frodo a slight chuckle, the memory of how much Bill loved Sam. “Oh, Sam. Do not ye worry. He is more likely to have found his way back to Tom Bombadil than you could imagine.” Sam gazed and grinned dreamily. “Thank you, Mr. Frodo. I s’pose yor right…. Oy! Ha’ you e’er ridden a pony, Stinker?!” Gollum glared at him sidewise as he rubbed his sore shoulder and said, “keep your nasty ponies you fat jerk!” “Oy! Watch it, you! You might like to know that Rudy is also a wrestler at Notre Dame!” (Not true, reader; but Gollum doesn’t know that). Gollum’s eyes grew wide and he flinched off sideways. His shoulder could ill afford to get driven into the hard ground again; it would surely separate this time, and might require surgery. “Nice hobbit! Good hobbit!” He nervously grinned, palms up in a display of yielding. Oh, Sam was in far too good of a mood not to accept this apology with joy! But still, there was the dinner he had promised to prepare for Gollum. He must not forget about that. His brow furrowed. He was so silent and thoughtful that Frodo peered over at him in suspicion.
The day was mildly warm, clear skies, soft grassy hillsides stretching out before them. On the far horizon, the flapping wings of birds in their flocks could just be made out, as they led the way of the company, zephyrs on ether. Frodo’s eyes shined and stared in wonder, as he took it all in. He gazed ahead of him at his companions a stone’s throw ahead – various Rohirrim kind enough to escort them and to see the now-storied Shire; Gondorians; one or two elves; perhaps even some ghosts from the Paths of the Dead. And of course, the original Fellowship itself. They ambled along the green paths, in clusters of three or four. Frodo’s brow turned up and met in the middle in utter fondness, as his heart melted. Moments passed – he knew not how many; it could have been a second, or an entire day. He glanced up at Sam, who gazed ahead as well, lightly grinning as he massaged some husk or other in-hand. “Wait …” Frodo said. “I do not see Legolas. Is he not come with us to visit the Shire, Sam?!” Sam seemed to be pulled out of his own revelry: “Oh, um, he’s – away on business – er I mean to say, Mr. Frodo: he wanted to stop off at good old Mirkwood Forest, to say hullo! briefly-like, before makin’ ‘is way over to Hobbiton, Sir.” Frodo raised an eyebrow at this, as he scrutinized his friendly gardener’s odd deliberation. “And to get some – supplies, rather. If you will, sir.” This last bit of information Frodo’s heavy gaze squeezed out of Sam like a drop from a plant’s husk. “Oh Sam … how has it come to pass that you alone know of all this?” Sam’s adam’s apple rose and fell in his throat as he gulped and glanced sidelong at Frodo out of the corner of his eye. He got out his asthma inhaler and took a deep puff (bonus points to you, reader, if you get that [young] Sean Astin homage). “Oh as to that, Sir, well I – as you may know – have a special connection with the elves, if you will.” And he gazed off over the horizon, looking truly proud at this declaration. Frodo remembered Sam’s first ardent wish, so long ago, to see the elves; and it alighted upon him suddenly how fantastic and charming it all was, all that they had seen and done! and he grinned at Sam, who caught the glow of it out of the corner of his eye and looked back down at Mr. Frodo, grinning back more warmly. Gollum rubbed his sore shoulder and trudged on, frowning and watching his feet flap before him upon the dirt.
You must excuse me, reader, but I have no more space. Let us then usher them all (minus most of the Rohirrim and maybe one or two Paths of the Dead ghosts) into Frodo Baggins Dining Room, Bag End, Hobbiton. There they all are, gathered round the great-big, rectangular, oaken table. Plates, saucers, napkins, goblets, and silverware all set before each of them, waiting for the meal to be served. The old Gaffer had been working all day, with the best sous chefs that Hobbiton had to offer. Sam grinned and blushed with pride, as he stood up and announced that it was time, and that he would go and attend to his dear-old Old Gaffer and do the honors of bringing out the first dish: for the guest of honor – Gollum! Gollum received this peculiar speech sheepishly and awkwardly, gangling upon his oaken chair, his linen napkin haphazardly splayed out in his lap. He was sorely out of practice for such pleasantries as this day had introduced. Sam glanced at him and cleared his throat, as his grin faded away and he tromped off down the line of the table and through the swinging door to the kitchen. There was a heavy silent pause that seemed to take everyone’s breath, when the swinging door was kicked open again, and grinning Sam stepped forth with a large, silver, deep-set platter, almost twice as wide as himself. He headed straight for the chair of Gollum, who stared as wide-eyed and limp as a rag doll. The company murmured, and Frodo turned his head and peered over one shoulder then the other as Sam marched past behind him, over to Gollum.
He set the platter down before him and courteously pulled the silver top off, as Gollum half-grinned and stared expectantly. A puff of steam blossomed out before him – and he coughed once. Even to him it was fetid. When it cleared, he beheld – that a giant, gray-black spider filled the huge platter, its legs curled up in death, its once-glossy pitch-black eye now shriveled but still dully gleaming right at him; its fangs were the color and hardness of dry old bone, and long bristly hairs dangled out of its skin here and there on its body and segmented legs. The broth in which it marinated swirled with vile green and purple oils and poison, and a few sliced onions and carrot coins bobbed in the moat of broth. (Sam had to grin at this humorous touch by his old Gaffer). Everyone at the table gasped or shrieked, and some even pushed back their chairs in horror and disbelief. “Sam!” Frodo cried out almost angrily, appalled by the acrid steam-cloud now unrolling into his dining room, and shocked at the nerve of his kindly gardener. Who glanced at Master Frodo with a benign, questioning expression on his affable face. Gandalf, from his seat along the wall, was most intrigued, and stared unblinking at the scene, and lightly coughed out a small puff of pipe-smoke. Gollum reeled backwards, and gave a choked cry, almost falling over his chair. “NO!” He breathlessly cried piteously as he stared at the fiendish Mirkwood spider. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut to hide from the image of the spider; but it only made the imagistic projector of memory play on the dark walls of his mind: the giant spider, Shelob, who had squeezed herself into a favoured nook of the wall, was now sitting placidly above him as if she bloomed from the rock, her front legs bunched up together, propping up the gleaming bunch of her black eyes – in which a gangling movement could now be seen, as if entering through the edges of eight black mirrors. Up came a skinny, grey, pitiful fellow, creeping up along the cave floor below her, head bowed and arms held out in supplication, all gray skin and bones and sad eyes staring as if imploring the ground. Oh! how to dispel the memories! of all that he had done. The memory-figure’s mouth moved but he could not hear his words. He knew, though; he remembered the hateful promise to her, of his ability to deliver the hobbit. And her black eyes gleamed down on him more heavily, as a stifling heat filled the cave. He covered his face with both hands and lamented. But when he opened them, Sam was there grimacing fiercely at him.
“OY! Where ‘ya goin’ Stinker! Get your just desserts, you!” he almost-screamed at him. “This is for leadin’ us to your giant spider pal up there in Mordor!” In his rage he had seized the entire platter with the intention of dashing it into Gollum’s face. But before he could do this, Gollum was down on all fours and, leaping over Sam’s head like a frog, he alighted upon the lantern-chandelier over the table, where he perched and pivoted like a panicked raven. Setting the platter down, conscientious of not spilling the broth onto Mr. Frodo’s linen, Sam rolled his hobbit mass onto the table, and gathered himself into a kneeling crouch, looking up, and clutching at the coney-carving knife before straightening himself. At this development Gandalf released the cloud of smoke from his cheeks in a veil of exhaust and leaned forward, gripping his staff tighter; a rare glint came into his watchful eyes. “Oh do watch that, Master Samwise,” he thought. But before Sam could take a swipe at the dangling, flappy foot, Gollum pulled it in and leapt – pushed off hard from the chandelier, a gray fleshy dart he soared, parallel with the ceiling, until he met with the wall. Unused to prim hobbit-walls and their smoothness, he slapped against it and plummeted down the smooth surface to the floor in a gangly heap, and shot a glance over his shoulder. Gandalf relaxed, and lightly chuckled to himself, drew in a fresh draught of smoke for which he contemplated forming a Gollum-dart, to shoot through the swaying chandelier. “Sam! Come now. Release your carving sword!” ordered Frodo, with a light but stern pound of his fist onto the oak table. Sam, coming to himself a bit: “I’m sorry, Mr. Frodo; you don’t know how much the skulking creature vexes me.” He let the knife go and appeared to relax, ashamed. But the wheels of his mind still turned out parts of a plan for retribution as he glanced at and then fixed Gollum with his hobbit gaze. (Even orcs, if they are honest with you for half a moment, will tell you – an intent hobbit stare has a certain something in it that gives one a slight pause; and they will also tell you that Sam Gamgee was a stouter and more resolute hobbit than most). Gollum being far from an orc, picked up on this something instantly, and scurried to all fours again, wide-eyed, readying for another froggish leap to an undecided-as-yet destination. Something about this defensive posture flipped a switch in Sam’s mind, and his lip curled at the corner before he charged off to meet him.
Planting a foot in Celeborn’s dinner plate by accident and sending it skittering backwards with his churning stride, he set off. Aragaorn, at the head of the table, turned round from peering at Gollum behind him, just in time to duck as Sam leapt over him for his victim. But Gollum was far too quick, and was long gone, and it was Sam’s turn to go careening into the wall. The whole hobbit abode shook, and a pixie’s handful of debris trickled down from around the lantern fixture. Frodo shook his head and rolled his eyes a little. Gandalf took a fresh puff at his pipe and gazed at the event. “I think you’ve learned your lesson now, Master Samwise, hmmm?” (his gaze said), and he unfurled – not a Gollum dart of smoke, but a happy Gollum, pleasedly swimming a backstroke through the air. Gollum, in his desperation for a place to leap to, was as surprised as anyone to discover that he had wound up on Eowyn’s lap. Still frog-like, he sat on his haunches on her knees and held fast to her shoulders as he stared wide-eyed over his shoulder at the “fat rude hobbit’s” demise at the base of the wall. Eowyn gasped a little at the strange, frightened creature, and perceived that he wasn’t as dangerous as one might think. In fact, he was kind of cute. (Just kidding, reader. Actually…) she fought an instinctual repulse at his liver-spotted skin and greasy, hanging strands of hair, and stared deeply at him for a moment – into him, as it were – as he naturally began to relax his tension, seeing that the rampaging hobbit was incapacitated for the moment. (Sam had been planning to drive his head square into Gollum, and so it was that the dome of his head took the entirety of his charge; he was just now beginning to come-to, and to right himself, still leaning back against the wall, his curly hair hanging down over his eyes). As for Gollum, perhaps there was a certain comfort transferred to him from the being on whose lap he had wound up. Still looking at Sam, and slightly grinning now, he began to turn his head towards her – slowly, ever so slowly. He blinked once – slowly. She had developed a budding fascination for the frog-thing by this time, and the corners of her delicate lip began to rise, her eyes bright. His eyes finally unblinked; they met with those of Eowyn; and Gollum was struck motionless as stone. But his eyes still widened; and a glow of light the shade of which had not been seen there for ages kindled deep in the black orbs, as if twin fireflies approached through the night. Gandalf again paused from puffing on his pipe, and the smoke drifted out of his separating lips, rising before his bewildered eyes, stinging them; he blinked it away, and pulled his cap off sideways. Eowyn blushed, and leaned forward to kiss the adorable wretch on the cheek. Gandalf spluttered and nearly dropped his staff and hat as he bent forward, convulsively coughing out the remainder of the smoke. Gollum grew as red as an apple and Eowyn’s eyes squeezed together and her flaxen hair shook lightly as she let out a bright joyous laugh that rang about the room.
The spell was broken, and all began to murmur and chuckle, too, more or less. Gimli courteously clapped Gandalf on the back to aid his coughing. Gollum crept off Eowyn’s lap like a shy, smitten stray dog, one slinking limb at a time, looking back once over his shoulder, the light in his eyes still bright, vaguely of that color, but spreading out and fading away and leaving their black backdrop. He slinked over to Sam still in a half-dazed heap, hair not even yet brushed out of his eyes, cape askew, and a button missing from his felt vest. Gollum pawed gently, apologetically at his sleeve, his eyes like two wells deep with sympathy. Sam glanced up at him and sighed a little, resignedly. “’ey, Slinker.” He straightened up a little. “This is the first time you’ve ever slinked back to me.” “Nice hobbit. Good hobbit,” Gollum preened, almost begged, smoothing Sam’s crinkled sleeve and, holding out his other open hand, in it set Sam’s button, which he had gathered. Sam lugged himself up to his feet, took the button and deposited it into his shirt pocket. “I reckon the Gaffer can fix tha’ for me.” He smoothed out his hobbit hair and looked around at the company, as if waking up from a dream; they all sat staring at the scene, with half-grins and looks of wonder and great fondness. “Oh, I guess you’re alright – Slinker.” “Sam!” “Oh alright, Master Frodo- … Smeagol. Smeagol it is.” And he grinned at the gangly remnant of a hobbit, and patted his cheek. Gollum had not received as much kindness as he had on this day since Deagol had been alive. “Well? What’s everyone waiting for?” Sam crowed, with a touch of annoyance. Throwing out his hands he cried, “Let’s eat!” And he swaggered off to his seat to do, at last, what he likes best. The spell was broken and the room came back to life with the happy clamor of talking, laughing, and the scooting of chairs on the hardwood; and Eowyn made room for a new neighbor beside her at the table.
It was a fine meal that left nothing to be desired – delicious food, happy and cheerful company, and yes, Gollum got to taste the finest coney stew in all of Hobbiton, with Sam proudly grinning and chewing at him at every other bite. Gollum did his best to exercise that long-dormant hobbit courtesy, and did an excellent job of pretending he loved it. In his mind’s eye, though, wriggled a fish, which he couldn’t wait to bite into! and this helped him to maintain his smile as he chewed. … They all rose from the table to repair to the game room, or what have you, when Sam came over to Gollum and slapped him on the back. “Oy, come on. Let’s get rid of this filthy critter once and for all, eh?” At the prospect of this a light moved and changed color in Gollum’s lantern eyes. He stared at the nice hobbit to gauge his earnestness, and the big, kind creature just looked back benignly, almost goofily, awaiting a reply. “Yess,” he said. “Good Smeagol always helps.” “Yeah alright! Let’s just do it then, yeah?” They carried the pan of now-cold stewed spider outside very carefully, Sam picking out a carrot to nibble on (just kidding! he did nothing of the sort! Gross!) and they took it over to the fence at the edge of Frodo’s yard; and: “You get one end, I’ll get the other,” Sam officiated, as they both clutched two spider legs in each of their hands, and swung its body back and forth, like a sack of potatoes, Sam counting to three with each pendulum towards the fence. On Sam’s grunted-out “three!” they let it fly into the air and over the fence, slowly turning one and a half times as the legs lolled about like sticks tied together with twine.
Inside, in his drawing room, Frodo had been staring absently out the window, at his favorite planter box of daffodils and tulips. The butterflies and bees loved to amble about them, and it brought his shattered mind a measure of serenity to see them. He gazed at it now, musing on nothing, when – what on earth! There in the background was Sam and Smeagol heaving that awful, dripping spider carcass as if they were to throw it over that fence?! Sam was unaware that the Sackville-Bagginses had moved just next door.
Outside, the spider carcass flew, and gracefully tumbled, seemingly in slow motion … and splatted squarely onto the front of Lobelia Baggins! as she sunbathed in her pink bathrobe and slippers, eyes covered with cucumbers. It knocked her backwards and her feet flew out to the sides, knocking her enormous goblet of iced tea and gin on top of her.
Inside the house, Frodo gaped, transfixed, and – hearing the dull, soggy thud, and the clatter of the garden chair, and Lobelia’s muffled groan rising to a squeal – he divined what had happened on the other side of the fence. Involuntarily he gave a short burst of a chuckle as his eyes glowed bright and wide. “Oh, what luck!” And then he laughed true. The front door opened and Sam stepped through with an arm loosely draped over the shoulder of his new pal. He was glancing over his shoulder, at the fence, wondering about that shrieking. When he heard: “Sam! Smeagol! You did it!” And a laugh. He glanced over at Frodo and was stopped in his tracks by the look of bright joy, so long absent, upon his master’s face. He gazed and marveled and a warm smile spread over his face., and thru his mind: Oh where’ve you been, sir?! “Oh! It’s good to see you smilin’ again, Mr. Frodo!” Whose joyous smile now became a bright clear laugh.
“Smeeeeeeeeagoooooool” – the distant call carried upon the air through the maze of halls, and reached Gollum’s ear as he ambled forlornly, absentmindedly exploring the hobbit hole. He was struck into stillness in a dimly lit hall, as he touched a picture frame on the wall, of a scene painted, unbeknownst to him, by Bilbo. He was drawn to the location of the source of the voice – Master’s voice – by the keen radar-like sense in his ear. He popped his head round the corner of the door frame, and there Master sat in his leather chair in his drawing room, his hands held before him in a steeple, his mouth and eyes grinning. Gollum’s head remained peering round the corner, and his eyebrows raised in expectancy and fondness. “Oh Smeagol, I have been waiting for the time to make it known to you that there happens to be a fine specimen of a crick on the edge of my property here! How does that sound to you, Smeagol?” “C-Crick?! What’s th-that, Precious?!” “A crick is a smallish river, with friendly waters that won’t wash you away as you wade in it. (And by the way don’t call me that) [he said in a lower, quicker voice].” Gollum stepped into the door frame, head tilted. “What say you we go and catch us some nice fissh, Smeagol?!” And the creature got down on all fours and trotted to him like a fawning dog. “Haha!” said Frodo, “Come on, stand up. Let’s go! Quick! Before Sam pokes his head round the corner and snares me!” They dashed out through the back door, over waving golden fields of tall grass, toward the line of woods at the foot of the hill, cloaking a creek. They bounded over the land in the young sunset, Frodo’s hair flying back behind him. “I haven’t felt this free in ages. Like a child again, almost!” Out of the corner of his eye he saw Gollum’s form halt and disappear from his periphery. A few bounds more and Frodo halted and stood, turning round to look behind him. Gollum stood in the hip-high, yellow grass, looking piteous, but with one finger to his lip, on the verge of a decision. “I … must bring, other hobbit, M-Master.” Frodo gazed at him intently, the sunset lighting his cheek, his dark hobbit curls moving slightly in the breeze. “Ohh, time is wasting! Let him come find us if he may, Smeagol,” and he began to turn. But Smeagol hunched down onto all fours, almost hiding in the tall grass peering at Master, the crown of his head and glowing lantern eyes could be seen through the reeds. “He is my friend,” he said, as his eyes shined and he stared directly into Frodo. “OK, Smeagol! Do go, then. Do.” Smeagol smiled with relief and gladness at his Master’s decision, and turned, ran off towards the house at the top of the hill. Cupping his hand to his mouth Frodo called out: “Better tell him to bring a fishing pole!” and Smeagol’s flappy hand waved twice over his head. Frodo dropped down and took a seat on the turf and laid back all the way amongst the tall brown grass and folded his hands behind his head, gazing up at the vivid sky and its drifting clouds.