Note: C. Tolkien's comments are here shown in Arial font, and quotations from the writing of J. R. R. Tolkien is in a larger Times New Roman font.

 

IV

OF HERBS AND STEWED RABBIT

 

For this chapter, written as a continuation of ‘The Black Gate is Closed’ and only separated from it and numbered ‘XXXV’ after its completion, there exists a good deal of (discontinuous) initial drafting, some of it illegible, and a completed manuscript, some of which is itself the primary composition. As in the last chapter I distinguish the texts as ‘draft’ and ‘manuscript’ (in this case no other manuscript was made, see p. 121).

On 26 April 1944, in a letter to me already cited (p. 121), my father said that on the previous day he had ‘struggled with a recalcitrant passage in “The Ring”’, and then went on to say that ‘at this point I require to know how much later the moon gets up each night when nearing full, and how to stew a rabbit!’ From drafts and manuscript it is easy to see what this recalcitrant passage was: the southward journey as far as the point where Sam’s thoughts turned to the possibility of finding food more appetizing than the waybread of the Elves (TT p. 260).

The original draft begins thus:

 

They rested for the few hours of daylight that were left, ate a little and drank sparingly, though they had hope of water soon in the streams that flowed down into Anduin from Hebel Duath. As the dusk deepened they set out. The moon did not rise until late and it grew soon dark. After a few miles over broken slopes and difficult [?country] they took to the southward road, for they needed speed. Ever they listened with straining ears for sounds of foot or hoof upon the road ahead and behind  . . .

 

After the description of the road, kept in repair below the Morannon but further south encroached upon by the wild, the opening draft peters out, and at this point, probably, my father began the writing of the manuscript. Here the single red light in the Towers of the Teeth appears, but they passed out of sight of it after only a few miles, ‘turning away southward round a great dark shoulder of the lower mountains’, whereas in TT this took place ‘when night was growing old and they were already weary’.[1] In this text they came to the less barren lands, with thickets of trees on the slopes, during that first night, and the shrubs which in TT the hobbits did not know (being strange to them) were here ‘unrecognizable in the dark’. After a short rest about  midnight Gollum led them down onto the southward road, the description of which follows.

The precise sequence of composition as between drafts and manuscript is hard to work out, but I think that it was probably at this point that my father wrote a very brief outline for the story to come, together with notes on names. Frustratingly, his writing here has in places resisted all attempts to puzzle it out.

 

After so much labour and peril the days they spent on it seemed almost a rest. In Gollum’s reckoning it was some 20 [changed from some other figure] leagues from the Morannon to the outer wards of Minas Morghul, maybe more. Gollum finds food. Night of Full Moon, they see a white . . . far away up in the dark shadow of the hills to left, at head of a wide [?re-entrant, sc. valley], Minas Morghul.[2] Next night they come to the cross roads. An[d] a great [?stone] figure . . . [3] back to Elostirion . . .  [Struck out: Sarnel Ubed.[4] Ennyn. Aran] Taur Toralt [struck out: Sarn Torath.] Annon Torath. Aranath. reminding Frodo of the Kings at Sern Aranath. or Sairn Ubed.

But his head was struck off and in mockery some orcs? had set  . . .  a clay ball  . . .  The red eye was [?painted over].[5]

 

For Sern Aranath as the name of the Pillars of the Kings see VII.366 note 21; and cf. TT p. 311 (at the end of ‘Journey to the Cross-roads’): ‘The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath.’ It is not clear to me whether Sairn Ubed is an alternative to Sern Aranath. On this same page, later but not much later, my father made further notes on names (see p. 137), and among these appears the following:

The two King Stones  Sern Ubed (denial)

                                      Sern Aranath

The word denial makes one think of the description of the Pillars of the Kings in ‘The Great River’ (FR p. 409), where in the earliest draft of that passage (VII.360) ‘the left hand of each was raised beside his head palm outwards in gesture of warning and refusal.’[6]

It is plain from this text that at this time the emergence of Faramir and the Window on the West was totally unforeseen, while on the other hand the broken statue at the Cross-roads was already present.

The next step in the development of the ‘recalcitrant passage’ is seen, I think, in what follows the description the southward road in the manuscript:

 

After the labours and perils they had just endured the days that they spent upon the road seemed almost pleasant, though fear was about them and darkness lay before them. The weather now was good, though the wind blowing from the north-west over the Misty Mountains far away had a sharp tooth. They passed on into the northern marches of that land that men once called Ithilien, a fair country of climbing woods and swift falling streams. In Gollum’s reckoning it was some thirty leagues from the Morannon to the crossing of the ways above Elostirion, and he hoped to cover that distance in three journeys. But maybe the distance was greater or they went slower than he hoped, for at the end of the third night they had not come there.

 

This passage was rejected at once, but before this was done ‘thirty leagues’ was changed to ‘twenty’, and it was perhaps at this time that a sentence was added earlier, following ‘But they were not going quick enough for Gollum’ (TT p. 256): ‘In his reckoning it was twenty leagues from the Morannon to the crossing of the ways above Osgiliath,[7] and he hoped to cover that distance in three journeys’ (where TT has ‘nearly thirty leagues’ and ‘four journeys’).

My father now, if my analysis of the sequence is correct, decided that he was treating the journey from the Morannon to the Crossroads too cursorily; and his next step, on the same page of the manuscript, was to return to the first night (which was that of 5 February):

 

All that night they plodded on, and all the next. The road drew ever nearer to the course of the Great River and further from the shadow of Hebel Duath on their left. That second night the moon was full. Not long before the dawn they saw it sinking round and yellow far beyond the great vale below them. Here and there a white gleam showed where Anduin rolled, a mighty stream swollen with the waters of Emyn Muil and of slow-winding Entwash. Far far away, pale ghosts above the mists, the peaks of the Black Mountains were caught by the beaming moon. There glimmered through the night the snows on Mount Mindolluin; but though Frodo’s eyes stared out into the west wondering where in the vastness of the land his old companions might now be, he did not know that under

 

This passage was in turn struck out. The last words stand at the foot of a page.[8]

It was now, as it seems, that my father decided to introduce the episode of the rabbits caught by Gollum (developing it from the passage where it first appears, given in note 6).

 

All that night they plodded on. At the first sign of day they halted, and lay beneath a bank in a brake of old brown bracken overshadowed by dark pinetrees. Water flowed down not far away, cold out of the hills, and good to drink.

Sam had been giving some earnest thought to food as they marched. Now that the despair of the impassable Gate was behind him, he did not feel so inclined as his master to take no thought for their livelihood beyond the end of their errand; and anyway it seemed wiser to him to save the elvish bread for worse times ahead. Two days or more had gone since he reckoned that they had a bare supply for three weeks.[9] ‘If we reach the Fire in that time we’ll be lucky at this rate,’ he thought. ‘And we may be wanting to come back. We may.’ Besides at the end of [?their] long night march he felt more hungry than usual.

With all this in his mind he turned to look for Gollum. Gollum was crawling away through the bracken. ‘Hi!’ said Sam. ‘Where are you going? Hunting? Now look here, my friend, you don’t like our food, but if you could find something fit for a hobbit to eat I’d be grateful.’

Yes, yess.

Gollum brings back 2 rabbits. Angry at fire (a) fear (b) rage at nice juicy rabbits being spoiled. Pacified by Frodo (promise of fish?).

Night of full moon and vision of Anduin.

Third night. They do not reach the cross ways. [?Trying] to hasten they journey by day through wood. They come to cross ways and peer at it out of thicket.

The headless king with a mocking head made by orcs and scrawls on it.

That night they turn left. Vision of Minas Morghul in the moon high up in re-entrant.[10]

 

Here this text ends, and was followed by another draft, beginning precisely as does that just given, in which the story of Sam’s cooking was developed almost to the final form. On one of the pages of this text my father penciled a note: ‘Describe baytrees and spicy herbs as they march.’ It was thus the cooking of the rabbits that led to the account of the shrubs and herbs of Ithilien (TT p. 258) – ‘which is proving a lovely land’, as he said in his letter of 30 April 1944 (Letters no. 64).

He now returned again to the fair copy manuscript, and without changing, then or later, the opening of the chapter he wrote the story almost as it stands in TT, pp. 258 ff. (from ‘So they passed into the northern marches of that land that Men once called Ithilien’). At this stage, therefore, the chronology of the journey was thus:

Feb. 5    Left the Morannon at dusk, and came into a less barren country of heathland. Took to the southward road about midnight (p. 132).

Feb. 6    Halted at dawn. Description of Ithilien and its herbs and flowers. Sam’s cooking, and the coming of the men of Gondor.

With the introduction of a long rider to the following typescript text an extra day and night were inserted into the journey between the Morannon and the place of Sam’s cooking (see the Note on Chronology at the end of this chapter). At dawn of this added day they found themselves in a less barren country of heathland, and they passed the day hidden in deep heather (TT p. 257); at dusk they set out again, and only now took to the southward road.

At the end of the episode of ‘Stewed Rabbit’ there is a brief sketch in the manuscript of the story to come, written in pencil so rapid that I cannot make all of it out; but it can be seen that Sam finds that Gollum is not there; he puts out the fire and runs down to wash the pans; he hears voices, and suddenly sees a couple of men chasing Gollum. Gollum eludes their grasp and vanishes into a tangled thicket. They go on up the hill, and Sam hears them laugh. ‘Not an orc,’ says one. Sam creeps back to Frodo, who has also heard voices and hidden himself, and they see many men creeping up towards the road.

Another page found separately seems quite likely to be the continuation of this outline, and is equally hard to read. There is to be a description of men like Boromir, dressed in lighter and darker green, armed with knives; the hobbits wonder who they are – they are certainly not scouts of Sauron. The fight on the road between the men of Harad and the men of Minas Tirith is mentioned; then follows:

 

A slain Tirith-man falls over bank and crashes down on them. Frodo goes to him and he cries orch and tries to . . . but falls dead crying ‘Gondor!’ The Harad-men drive the Gondorians [?down] hill. The hobbits creep away though thickets. At last they climb tree. See Gondorians fight and win finally. At dusk Gollum climbs up to them. He curses Sam for [?bringing enemies]. They dare not go back to the road, but wander on through the wild glades of Ithilien that night. See Full Moon. Meet no more folk.

Strike the road to Osgiliath far down, and have to go back long [?detour] East. Deep Ilex woods. Gollums goes [?on] by day. Evening of the third day they reach Cross ways. See broken statue.[11]

 

The story of the ambush[12] of the Southron men thus seems at this stage to have had no sequel. But from the point where this outline begins (when Sam calls to Gollum that there is some rabbit left if he wants to change his mind, but finds that he has disappeared, TT p. 264) the final form of the story, partly extant in rough drafting, was achieved without hesitation – with, however, one major difference: the leader of the Gondorians was not Faramir, brother of Boromir. At this time he was Falborn son of Anborn (and remained so in the manuscript). Mablung and Damrod, the two men who were left to guard Frodo and Sam,[13] told them that Falborn was a kinsman of Boromir, and that ‘he and they were Rangers of Ithilien, for they were descended from folk who lived in Ithilien at one time, before it was overrun’ (cf. TT p. 267).

For the rest, Falborn’s conversation with Frodo and Sam proceeds almost exactly as does that with Faramir in TT.[14] Mablung and Damrod used ‘sometimes the Common Speech, but after the manner of older days, sometimes some other language of their own’, but the description of this other tongue (TT p. 267) was added to the typescript that followed the manuscript at some later time. Their account of the Southrons scarcely differs from the final form, but where Mablung in TT (p. 268) speaks of ‘These cursed Southrons’, in the manuscript he says ‘These cursed Barangils, for so we name them’ (subsequently changed to the later reading). The name Barangils is written on the First Map beside Swertings (see Map III, VII.309).

The account of the Oliphaunt was never changed, save only in the name by which the great beasts were known in Gondor (Mûmak in TT). In the original draft Mablung[15] cried Andabund!, and this was the form first written in the manuscript also. This was changed to Andrabonn,[16] then to Múmund. These were immediate changes, for a few lines later appears ‘the Múmund of Harad was indeed a beast of vast bulk’, where drafting for the passage has Múmar. Soon after, the form Mâmuk was introduced in both passages: this was the form my father used in his letter to me of 6 May 1944 (Letters no. 66).

Lastly, in the manuscript Damrod cries ‘May the gods turn him aside’, where in TT he names the Valar; gods was preceded by a rejected word that I cannot interpret.

On 30 April 1944 (Letters no. 64) my father described to me the course of the story that I had not read:

 

[‘The Ring’] is growing and sprouting again . . . and opening out in unexpected ways. So far in the new chapters Frodo and Sam have traversed Sarn Gebir,[17] climbed down the cliff, encountered and temporarily tamed Gollum. They have with his guidance crossed the Dead Marshes and the slag-heaps of Mordor, lain in hiding outside the main gates and found them impassable, and set out for a more secret entrance near Minas Morghul (formerly M. Ithil). It will turn out to be the deadly Kirith Ungol and Gollum will play false. But at the moment they are in Ithilien (which is proving a lovely land); there has been a lot of bother about stewed rabbit; and they have been captured by Gondorians, and witnessed them ambushing a Swerting army (dark men of the South) marching to Mordor’s aid. A large elephant of prehistoric size, a war-elephant of the Swertings, is loose, and Sam has gratified a life-long wish to see an Oliphaunt . . . In the chapter next to be done they will get to Kirith Ungol and Frodo will be caught . . . On the whole Sam is behaving well, and living up to repute. He treats Gollum rather like Ariel to Caliban.

 

Since it  was not until a week later that he referred to the sudden and totally unexpected appearance of Faramir on the scene, it seems to me that when he wrote this letter he had not progressed much if at all heyond the end of the Oliphaunt episode; for in the manuscript of the chapter that hecame ‘Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit’ the leader of the Gondorians is Falborn, not Faramir, and there is as yet no indication that he will play any further part (cf. the outline on p. 135).[18]

This chapter (including what became ‘The Black Gate is Closed’) was read to C. S. Lewis on the first of May 1944 (Letters no. 65).


[1] In the manuscript as in the draft, ‘The moon was not due until late that night’; in TT ‘the moon was now three nights from the full, but it did not climb over the mountains till nearly midnight.’

[2] That the illegible word is re-entrant seems assured by the recurrence of this word in perfectly clear form and in the same context in the text given on p. 134. In the present text at this point there is drawn a wavy line; this clearly indicates the line of the mountains pierced by a very wide valley running up into a point.

[3] The illegible word is certainly not pointing. It begins with an f or a g and probably ends in ing, but does not suggest either facing or gazing.

[4] The word Ubed, occurring twice here and again in the further notes on names on this page (where it is translated ‘denial’), is written at all occurrences in precisely the same way, and I do not feel at all certain about the third letter.

[5] Before the words ‘The red eye’ were written my father drew an Old English S-rune (cf. VII.382), but struck it out.

[6] The remainder of this page carries disjointed passages: as elsewhere my father probably had it beside him and used it for jotting down narrative ‘moments’ as they came into his mind. The first reads:

That great mountain’s side was built Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard, where Gandalf walked now deep in thought.

On this see note 8. Then follows:

For a third night they went on. They had good water in plenty, and Gollum was better fed. Already he was less famished to look at. At early morning when they lay hidden for rest, and at evening when they set out again, he would slip away and return licking his lips. Sometimes in the long night he would take out something . . . and would crunch it as he walked.

 . . . and lay under a deep bank in tall bracken under the shadow of pine trees. Water flowed not far away, cold, good to drink. Gollum slipped away, and returned shortly, licking his lips; but he brought with him also a present for the hobbits. Two rabbits he had caught.

With Sam’s having no objection to rabbit but a distaste from what Gollum brought, and a reference to his prudent wish, in contrast to Frodo’s indifference, to save the elvish waybread for worse times ahead, these exceedingly difficult ‘extracts’ come to an end. It was clearly here that the episode of the stewed rabbit entered; but it seems scarcely possible to define how my father related it to the whole sequence of the journey from the Black Gate.

[7] On the continuing hesitation between Elostirion and Osgiliath at this time see p. 133 and note 7.

[8] The last sentence is in fact, and rather oddly, completed by the first passage given in note 6, thus:

There glimmered through the night the snows on Mount Mindolluin; but though Frodo’s eyes stared out into the west wondering where in the vastness of the land his old companions might now be, he did not know that under / that great mountain’s side was built Minas Tirith, the Tower of Guard, where Gandalf walked now deep in thought.

See the Note on Chronology below.

[9] This sentence replaced a form of it in which Sam’s reckoning had been that they had ‘a bare ten days’ supply of waybread: that left eight.’ In the manuscript of ‘The Passage of the Marshes’, corresponding to that in TT p. 231, Sam said ‘I reckon we’ve got enough to last, say, 10 days now’. This was changed to ‘three weeks or so’, no doubt at the same time as the sentence in the present text was rewritten.

In TT (p. 260) it is said at this point that ‘Six days or more had passed’ since Sam made his reckoning of the remaining lembas, whereas here it is ‘Two days or more’. Three days had in fact passed, the 3rd, 4th and 5th of February (p. 118). In TT the length of the journey had been increased, both by the two extra days during which they crossed the Noman-lands (pp. 112, 120), and by an extra day added to the journey from the Morannon to the place of the stewed rabbit episode (p.135).

[10] re-entrant: see note 2.

[11] The brief remainder of this outline is illegible because my father wrote across it notes in ink on another subject (see p. 145).

[12] It is not clear that it was first conceived as an ambush, which perhaps only arose when the story came to be written – and it was then that my father added to the manuscript at an earlier point ‘They had come to the end of a long cutting, deep, and sheer-sided in the middle, by which the road clove its way through a stony ridge’ (TT p. 258).

[13] In a penciled draft so faint and rapid as to be largely illegible another name is found instead of Mablung, and several names preceded Damrod, but I cannot certainly interpret any of them.

[14] Rivendell is still Imladrist and the Halflings are still the Halfhigh (see VII.146). Boromir is called ‘Highwarden of the White Tower, and our captain general’, as in TT (p. 266).

[15] Damrod in TT; the speeches of Damrod and Mablung were shifted between the two.

[16] Cf. the Etymologies, V.372, stem mbud ‘project’: *andambundä ‘long-snouted’, Quenya andamunda ‘elephant’, Noldorin andabon, annabon.

[17] Sarn Gebir: an interesting instance of the former name reappearing mistakenly – unless my father used Sarn Gebir deliberately,  remembering that I had not read any of Book IV, in which the name Emyn Muil was first used. Cf. however p. 165 note 7.

[18] It is clear that in the manuscript the chapter halted at  Sam’s words (TT p. 270) ‘Well, if that’s over, I’ll have a bit of sleep.’ The following brief dialogue between Sam and Mablung (with the hint that the hobbits will not be allowed to continue their journey unhindered: ‘I do not think that the Captain will leave you here, Master Samwise’) was written in the manuscript as the beginning of the next chapter (‘Faramir’), and only subsequently joined to the preceding one and made its conclusion; and by then Falborn had become Faramir.

 

V

FARAMIR

 

The original draft for the end of what became 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit', which I will call 'A', continued on from Sam's 'If that's over I'll have a bit o' sleep' (TT p. 270) thus:

 

He turned and spoke in Frodo's ear. 'I could almost sleep on my legs, Mr Frodo,' he said. 'And you've not had much yourself. But these men are friends, it seems: they seem to come from Boromir's country all right. Though they don't quite trust us, I can't see any cause to doubt them. And we're done anyway if they turn nasty, so we'd best rest.'

‘Sleep if thou wilt,’ said Mablung. ‘We will guard thee and thy master until Falborn comes. Falborn will come hither, if he has saved his life. But when he cometh we must move swiftly. All this tumult will not go unmarked, and ere night is old we shall have many pursuers. We shall need all speed to gain the river first.’