A change has come over you.

I see it in the way that you seem to disappear from the front of your eyes, like something has stolen your sight and is gazing out without your leave. It's almost as if a stranger is lodging wrongfully in your mind and he's peering out the window of your eyes, if you take my meaning. Seeing that unfamiliar face and that cold stare fixed right on me, it gives me such a turn that my breath gets caught up in my throat and my heart stops working proper. It's a cruel thing, Mr. Frodo, that could change you in such a way that even your old Sam can barely recognize you. In a way, it's the cruelest thing that I've looked on in all of our travels, and goodness knows that I've seen an eyeful on this journey of ours. Orcs are terrible of course, and Black Riders are no laughing matter, to put it lightly, but it's much worse, somehow, to see that kind of ill will coming from the one you'd least expect – from the one that I would do anything for, even if it meant laying down my life.

What is it that you see, I wonder, when that Ring comes between us, when you're clutching at it as though your life depended on it, like it was the only thing you had left to hold on to? It isn't true, sir, begging your pardon. You must know somewhere deep down that it can't save you, that no matter what fair-seeming promises it makes, it only means to trick you and put you in harm's way. That's why I came all this way with you, Mr. Frodo, to make sure nothing evil lays hold of you. But you've got it all backwards, I'm afraid. You mustn't trust what it shows you or look to it for aid when the world feels like it's closing in all around you. When your courage has all but run out and everything seems hopeless, you have your Sam to hold you close. He won't betray you, and that's a fact.

So when I see you eye me in that suspicious way, when I see the fear and the mistrust and, yes, even the hate all mixed up in your eyes as they look into mine, it fairly breaks my heart in two, Mr. Frodo. I know that you don't mean it, I know it's all part of the Ring's mischief, but it doesn't take the sting out of that awful stare. When all I want to do is comfort you, to take your hands in mine and tell you that it will be all right, those eyes push me away as if to say, "Let me be, thief, hands off of what is mine!" But don't you know, sir, there is no warmth to be found in golden rings, least of all those forged by the coldest and blackest of hearts. For what kind of fiend could create a thing that could make those who love you best appear as enemies? You can't have forgotten my promise to you, how I promised to stay beside you through thick and thin, even if all the Black Riders were breathing down my neck and every orc that ever fouled the earth was hot on my trail. All that I have done and all that I have yet to do, whether we fail or succeed in the end, all of it is done for love of you, master. Don't let the Ring take that knowledge away from you, whatever else it might do. Please don't let it make you forget your Sam.

What happened to the life we once had? Will it be our lot to see happy days once again, I wonder? Will I ever throw back the shutters in Bag End again to let the sunshine come streaming through the open windows? Will we ever sit round the fireside with friends and family, or maybe throw back a pint or two at the Green Dragon like old times? Will we ever find it in our hearts to laugh again, after all the badness we've seen and all the troubles that we've faced? Can you remember what it was not to have a care in the world? When our biggest worry was missing out on a home-cooked meal, or a few weeds creeping into the garden beds? When we knew nothing of dark lords and ring wraiths, when Gollum was naught more but a character in Mr. Bilbo's stories and the Ring was just a bit of good fortune in a tight spot. But it's no good looking back. We must go on, no matter what lies in wait; I know that.

But what is to become of you, dear master, if we manage to pull off this task? Will you ever be rid of that wicked spirit that's draining the life from you for once and for all? I can see every day how the light inside you gets dimmer and you seem to drift further and further away from yourself with every step we take toward the Fiery Mountain. I see how the colour has drained out of your face and left you pale and sick-like, how frail and thin your body has become – that kind of thin ain't natural for a hobbit, nor anyone else, I'll be bound – and it is all I can do to hold back my tears. I see your pain and I wish I could take it on myself; aye, I would carry it a hundred times over if it lessened your suffering for even a single minute. And the longer you hold on to that cursed thing, the more I worry that it's stealing you from me forever. I think back on that accusing tone you aimed at me after I'd found you atop that awful orc tower, and fresh tears fill my eyes to the brim and spill over.

But the fit passed, didn't it, sir, and you saw me again as I really am. I mustn't think of you when you're not yourself, when the weight of the Ring is bearing down on you and cheating your eyes. That's not the Frodo that I know. The Frodo Baggins that I know is kind and wise, with a heart as good as gold. I know that underneath the clinging layers of dirt and the orc rags draped round your slumped shoulders, your elvish beauty shines on still. I know it just like I know that the stars still shine above the reek of these Black Lands. I know in the way that you relax in my arms that you haven't forgotten who I am and why I am here. Those are the things that I will remember when those strange moods come over you and you start to lose a hold on yourself. And I'll see to it that you are put to rights once again, as sure as my name is Samwise Gamgee. You'll see, Mr. Frodo. You'll see.