|J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lord of the Rings, volume 3:
The Return of the King
Copyright © 1955, 1965, 1966 by J.R.R. Tolkien
Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Halflings.
And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour, oath-breaking with vengeance.
Until the king should come again? said Gandalf. Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward.
|I do not know what put it into your head, or your heart, to do that. But it was well done. I did not hinder it, for generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel.
|An old campaigner, I see, he said. They say that men who go warring afield look ever to the next hope of food and of drink; though I am not a travelled man myself.
The Passsing of the Grey Company
He is not so mighty yet that he is above fear; nay, doubt ever gnaws him.
But he wields great dominion, nonetheless, said Gimli; and now he will strike more swiftly.
The hasty stroke goes oft astray, said Aragorn. We must press our Enemy, and no longer wait upon him for the move.
Too often have I heard of duty, she cried. [...] I have waited on faltering feet long enough. Since they falter no longer, it seems, may I not now spend my life as I will?
Few may do that with honour, he answered. But as for you, lady: did you not accept the charge to govern the people until their lords return? [...]
Shall I always be chosen? she said bitterly. Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return?
A time may come soon, said he, when none will return. Then there will be need of valour without renown, for none shall remember the deeds that are done in the last defence of your homes. Yet the deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.
And she answered: All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. [...] I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.
What do you fear, lady? he asked.
A cage, she said. To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.
The Muster of Rohan
|It was a skyless world, in which his eye, through dim gulfs of shadowy air, saw only ever-mounting slopes, great walls of stone behind great walls, and frowning precipices wreathed with mist. He sat for a moment half dreaming, listening to the noise of water, the whisper of dark trees, the crack of stone, and the vast waiting silence that brooded behind all sound. He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
|If the war is lost, what good will be my hiding in the hills? And if it is won, what grief will it be, even if I fall, spending my last strength?
|In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts.
Where will wants not, a way opens, so we say, he whispered; and so I have found myself.
The Ride of the Rohirrim
|Fey he seemed, or the battle-fury of his fathers ran like new fire in his veins, and he was borne up on Snowmane like a god of old, even as Oromë the Great in the battle of the Valar when the world was young. His golden shield was uncovered, and lo! it shone like an image of the Sun, and the grass flamed into green about the white feet of his steed. For morning came, morning and a wind from the sea; and darkness was removed, and the hosts of Mordor wailed, and terror took them, and they fled, and died, and the hoofs of wrath rode over them. And then all the host of Rohan burst into song, and they sang as they slew, for the joy of battle was on them, and the sound of their singing that was fair and terrible came even to the City.
The Houses of Healing
He said he was sorry he had never had a chance of talking herb-lore with me. Almost the last thing he ever said. I shant ever be able to smoke again without thinking of him, and that day, Pippin, when he rode up to Isengard and was so polite.
Smoke, then, and think of him! said Aragorn. For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning. Though your service to him was brief, it should be a memory glad and honourable to the end of your days.
|If your pack has not been found, then you must send for the herb-master of this House. And he will tell you that he did not know that the herb you desire had any virtues, but that it is called westmansweed by the vulgar, and galenas by the noble, and other names in other tongues more learned, and after adding a few half-forgotten rhymes that he does not understand, he will regretfully inform you that there is none in the House, and he will leave you to reflect on the history of tongues.
Ever since that night at Bree we have been a nuisance to you. But it is the way of my people to use light words at such times and say less than they mean. We fear to say too much. It robs us of the right words when a jest is out of place.
I know that well, or I would not deal with you in the same way, said Aragorn.
Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we cant live long on the heights.
No, said Merry. I cant. Not yet, at any rate. But at least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are things deeper and higher; and not a gaffer could tend his garden in what he calls peace but for them, whether he knows about them or not. I am glad that I know about them, a little.
The Last Debate
It is ever so with the things that Men begin: there is a frost in Spring, or a blight in Summer, and they fail of their promise.
Yet seldom do they fail of their seed, said Legolas. And that will lie in the dust and rot to spring up again in times and places unlooked-for. The deeds of Men will outlast us, Gimli.
And yet come to naught in the end but might-have-beens, I guess, said the Dwarf.
To that the Elves know not the answer, said Legolas.
Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.
We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless as we surely shall, if we sit here and know as we die that no new age shall be.
|As I have begun, so I will go on. We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin. To waver is to fall.
The Tower of Cirith Ungol
Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.
In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped him most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.
And then suddenly new strength rose in him, and his voice rang out, while words of his own came unbidden to fit the simple tune.
In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.
Though here at journeys end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.
The Land of Shadow
|Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his masters ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodos side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.
|No more debates disturbed his mind. He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them. His will was set, and only death would break it.
The Field of Cormallen
|I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? Whats happened to the world?
And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried: O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have come true! And then he wept.
The Steward and the King
A great lord is that, and a healer; and it is a thing passing strange to me that the healing hand should also wield the sword. It is not thus in Gondor now, though once it was so, if old tales be true. But for long years we healers have only sought to patch the rents made by the men of swords. Though we should still have enough to do without them: the world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.
It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden, answered Éowyn. And those who have not swords can still die upon them. Would you have the folk of Gondor gather you herbs only, when the Dark Lord gathers armies? And it is not always good to be healed in body. Nor is it always evil to die in battle, even in bitter pain. Were I permitted, in this dark hour I would choose the latter.
|Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.
|At last I understand why we have waited! This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away!
The Scouring of the Shire
If I hear not allowed much oftener, said Sam, Im going to get angry.
Youre breaking arrest, thats what youre doing, said the leader ruefully, and I cant be answerable.
We shall break a good many things yet, and not ask you to answer, said Pippin. Good luck to you!
|No hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire, and it is not to begin now. And nobody is to be killed at all, if it can be helped. Keep your tempers and hold your hands to the last possible moment!
|[...] everything except Rules got shorter and shorter [...]
Take Sandymans mill now. Pimple knocked it down almost as soon as he came to Bag End. Then he brought in a lot o dirty-looking Men to build a bigger one and fill it full o wheels and outlandish contraptions. Only that fool Ted was pleased by that, and he works there cleaning wheels for the Men, where his dad was the Miller and his own master. Pimples idea was to grind more and faster, or so he said. Hes got other mills like it. But youve got to have grist before you can grind; and there was no more for the new mill to do than for the old.
|Whats come of his weskit? I dont hold with wearing ironmongery, whether it wears well or no.
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.
|It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.
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!
The Grey Havens
|The fruit was so plentiful that young hobbits very nearly bathed in strawberries and cream; and later they sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conqueror, and then they moved on. And no one was ill, and everyone was pleased, except those who had to mow the grass.
|It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.
|Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.
Annals of the Kings and Rulers
The Númenorean Kings
Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion
|He read the hearts of men as shrewdly as his father, but what he read moved him sooner to pity than to scorn. He was gentle in bearing, and a lover of lore and of music, and therefore by many in those days his courage was judged less than his brothers. But it was not so, except that he did not seek glory in danger without a purpose.
|It did not seem possible to Faramir that any one in Gondor could rival Boromir, heir of Denethor, Captain of the White Tower; and of like mind was Boromir.
here follows a part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen
|But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! we are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory. Farewell!
|We fought this war for vengeance, and vengeance we have taken. But it is not sweet. If this is victory, then our hands are too small to hold it.
Will you come with me back to the anvil? Or will you beg your bread at proud doors?
To the anvil, answered Thorin. The hammer will at least keep the arms strong, until they can wield sharper tools again.
|But Orcs and Trolls spoke as they would, without love of words or things; and their language was actually more degraded and filthy than I have shown it. I do not suppose that any will wish for a closer rendering, though models are easy to find. Much the same sort of talk can still be heard among the orc-minded; dreary and repetitive with hatred and contempt, too long removed from good to retain even verbal vigour, save in the ears of those to whom only the squalid sounds strong.
text checked (see note) Mar 2005