A Moment in Mordor

This is to be inserted into the chapter "Mount Doom" after the second break, in the paragraph that starts "The hateful night." It goes after the sentence "Frodo was lying on his back not moving."

Before his eyes were the Dark Lord's smoke-clouds, but more clearly he saw the endless thirsty miles to cross against the weight of the Ring. "I cannot reach his forge," he thought. "Even now his Eye will find me, and I don't know where to hide. What am I to do? If only Gandalf were here!"

His mind spun free like the wheel of a cart that was driven too fast and has toppled onto its side. "Maybe Gandalf is still alive. He is a mighty wizard; why couldn't he have survived his fall? Maybe he killed or escaped the Balrog and wanders lost in the depths. Sam and I could go back to Ithilien. I could explain to Faramir and lead his men and other men of Gondor to the Gates. I could fight orcs as well as they. Sting stung the orc-captain indeed, when Boromir had failed. The Ring would find Gandalf wherever he was, and we would rescue him.

"But what if Gandalf is dead? Surely I should expect it. But the Ring kept Gollum alive, and the Nine keep the Ringwraiths in being. There might be a way to bring Gandalf to life, or at least to hear him speak and get his advice! I've been lost ever since he fell. I could learn to wield the Ring on the way to Moria, away from this cursed place. I could learn its power over death and never touch it for anything else. With Gandalf's help we could come back here, maybe on that swift horse he spoke of. We could finish the Quest and see the renewal of Middle-earth. The Shire still will be at peace. Rivendell will endure for ever, and so will Lórien. Bilbo and every poet will be honoured, and Sam will be the 'famousest' gardener in the world. The ignorant will come to love the Elves as Sam and I do. And maybe I too will have my reward: that green country in my dream.

"What of Gollum? My orc-armour, though ugly, will serve me. And Gollum is a slave to the Ring. Can't I command him?" Suddenly Frodo thought he could. As a baby finds in the jumble of sensations some act of will that brings its thumb to its mouth, so he found what seemed a nameless link from himself through the Ring to Gollum. "I am learning! I almost wish Gollum would appear again so I could try it! And if Faramir doesn't see the need to find Gandalf, there might be a way to reach him too."

What delight to hear Gandalf's voice. And if with the Ring he might accomplish that… Suddenly with his inner eye he saw his father and mother.

He saw them as in his dreams, their faces hardly discerned but known to be theirs as he knew little else. Father promised to take him on his first hunt, which he desired and feared, but it never came to pass. Mother listened to his tale of the hobbit-boys who barred him from their game because he was a Baggins, not a Bucklander. He ran to them. He was lifted to his father's broad back, his mother's hip. His thoughts could form no words; he only felt his mother's embrace, the end of the sadness that had lived in him for years, the end of the anger at their foolish drowning. In his heart he wept for joy. The Ring would give him this gift; it could not refuse. Perhaps his finger twitched.

But at the thought of the Ring all Gandalf's words came back to him with all he had learned of the Ring's trickery and all his hate for the weight that bowed him down. With a horrible but familiar shock like falling into cold water he saw that all his fancies were false. For a moment it was as if he had condemned Gandalf, father, and mother to death again. And he must get up and resume the hopeless journey, but in his grief he still lay like a stone.

The text continues, "Sam stood beside him, reluctant to speak."