And Bill could take on a bit more, couldn't you, lad?' said Sam. The pony looked at him mournfully.
"Very well, said Gandalf. 'But we must not use the wood - not unless it is a choice between fire and death.'
- FotR, The Ring Goes South.
A Bit More
A bit more snow swirls down, settling on my master's hair, and Mr. Merry's also. The soft flakes are still a bit of a novelty to all of us, I think. If we weren't so tired out and afeard, I think we'd be cutting capers among the flakes. They swirl this way and that when I wave my hand through them, sparking pinpoints of cold along my fingers and palm. My other palm is well wrapped around Bill's leadrope, of course. He doesn't seem to mind the snow too much. He snorted at it a bit at first, but now it's just melting on his warm fur, and dusting his burden. As if he needed more of a burden, however light.
We did give him a bit more of a load to carry, I admit. Maybe more than we should have, but it seemed a prudent thing to do. Now I feel a bit sorry for him as he's walking along. Always so patient, bearing up under it all. Both him and my master.
My feet are leaving tracks in the snow now, and sinking in a bit. Glancing back, I can see Bill's big half-moons of a print lining up right alongside my own. Just a ways back both of them are disappearing as the new flakes fill them up, making them little more than soft dents in the whiteness....
How much time has passed? How can we tell? The snow is getting so deep, and the wind drives it into my face like sand. I can't feel my feet, or my legs, or my nose. I can hardly see, sometimes. My good pony still moves along with us, but we're all kind of huddled around him now. All of us smaller folk, anyhow. I hope we're warming him some too, as he's warming us - and the ice kind of melts and then freezes again on him so he's getting rough and spiky all over. Maybe he can't feel nothing either. And now there's stones or something in this storm, that's a bad notion if there ever was one. No melting stones, there's not. Mr. Strider and Gandalf are making us stop, saying we've got to keep to our shelter, but tarnation if I can see any shelter. If this is shelter, than one wall and no roof make a house.
The wind is a bad notion too. Now that we're not moving, the wind is piling up the snow all around Bill, up to his hocks and higher now. Soon it'll be his belly. A bit more snow keeps coming down, always a bit more. Our pony makes a bit of shelter for us, the only house we've got it seems. I keep shivering, so hard I think I'm going to knock the teeth clean out of my head. My feet are down there someplace, but blamed if I can feel them. They're like dead weights on my legs, and my hands aren't much better. All us Hobbits just keep shivering a bit more, and there's no talking. Too hard to talk over the wind, even if I could move my face to do it anyhow.
How much longer will the storm last? Surely it can only go a bit more... Bill's legs are crusted with ice and ice is forming on his whiskers. Let me break a bit more of it off for you, old boy. We could use a bit more wisdom, or a good hot drink, I think. We could use a bit more shelter, though Bill is doing the best he can, poor beast. I'm sorry, Bill. I'm having trouble thinking, and my head's all muddly. I'm so tired. Just a bit more of this and then maybe I can lay down and sleep proper.
No, don't pull at me. Don't pull my arms. Leave me alone. Bill, get your cold nose out of my face. I'm warm, I'm finally warm and comfortable and I just want to sleep. Let me sleep just a bit more. Just a bit...
You know, Bill, we should have put a bit more wood on you, when we were further down, it looks like we'll be wishing for it. I don't think what we have'll last through the night, even if we can light it. And how could we?
It looks like it's fire or death, like Mr. Gandalf said. Will our fire be the stronger? I wish we had just a bit more.