The Lord of the... whatever, Book III, Chapter 3:
Pipsqueak lay in a dark and troubled dream: it seemed that he
could hear his own small annoying voice echoing in black tunnels,
calling "Frodo, Frodo! Gimme that biscuit!" But instead of Frodo
hundreds of hideous, nasty, mean and vicious goblin-faces grinned at
him out of the shadows, displaying bridgework that made him cringe.
Where was Morrie (and his dentist's drill) when you needed him?
He woke. Cold air blew on his face. He was lying on his back. Evening
was coming and the sky was growing dim. He turned and found that the
dream was little worse than the waking, except that he had shut up. His
wrists, legs and ankles were tied with string. Beside him Morrie lay,
asleep, with a knotted handkerchief over his face to keep the flies
off. All about them sat or stood a great company of goblins.
Slowly in Pipsqueak's aching head memory pieced itself together and
became separated from dream-shadow. Of course: he and Morrie had run
off into the woods leaving Boromir to the goblins; they had run a
long way screaming he could not remember how far or how long, his mind
having blanked out that rather embarrassing detail; and then suddenly
they had crashed into the same group of goblins, having described a
perfect circle: they were standing listening to Boromir play his horn,
several beating a syncopated rhythm on nearby trees and swaying
appreciatively to the mellow tones. The goblins did not appear to see
him or Morrie until they had drawn their swords and given five of them
Bywater smiles*. Then they yelled and dozens of other goblins had
sprung out of the trees (literally), but they did not wish to fight,
and only tried to stop the hobbits from killing any more by grabbing
hold of them, even when Morrie drew a miniature repeating crossbow from
his waistcoat and started shooting them in certain parts. Good old
Then Boromir finished the jazz number and started playing one of
Schoenberg's lesser-known works: this slew many of them and the rest
fled. But they had not gone very far on the way back when they were
attacked again, by a hundred music critics at least, some of them very
scathing, and they hurled an acid rain of sarcastic reviews: always at
Boromir. Boromir had blown his great horn till the woods rang, and at
first the critics had been deafened and had drawn back; but when no
answer but the echoes came, they knew they had no full orchestra to
contend with and attacked more fiercely than ever. Pipsqueak did not
remember much more. His last memory was of Boromir leaning against a
tree, muttering something about them all regretting it when his debut
album was released; then darkness fell suddenly.
"I suppose I was knocked on the head," he said to himself. "Knowing
Morrie, I doubt he got hurt. What has happened to Boromir? Why
didn't the goblins try to kill us? Why am I here? What is 2+2?"
He could not answer the questions. He felt cold, sick, stupid and
hungry. "I wish Gandalf had never persuaded El Rond to let us come," he
thought. "What good have I been? Just a nuisance: a passenger, a
messenger, a mariner that should have tarried in Arvernien, a piece of
luggage. And now I have been stolen and I am just a piece of luggage
for the goblins. I wonder if I'm insured? I hope Strider or someone
will come and claim us! But ought I to hope for it? Won't he just cash
in on the policy and forget about us? I wish I could think of a less
He struggled a little, quite uselessly. Whoever had tied this string
was an expert with ligatures (which made him think of Sam and his
family's skill with rope, something that had proved especially useful
to the Bywater lynch mob when they strung up three Shiriffs who were in
the pay of the Grumbleguts family), and also knew that he was about as
strong as Bree-land lager. One of the goblins sitting near laughed and
said something to Morrie in an abominable accent with ridiculous-
sounding vowels; Morrie chuckled sleepily. "Rest while you can, you
frightful little oik," he said then to Pipsqueak in the Common Speech,
which he still managed to to make almost as bizarre as his own
language. "Rest while you can! We'll find a use for your feeble little
legs before long. You'll wish you had none before we get back to Tower.
Not used to a brisk cross-country run, I expect."
"If I had my way, you'd wish you were expelled now," said the
other. "I'd make you squeak, you pathetic squib." He stooped over
Pipsqueak, bringing his yellow, uneven fangs close to his face. He wore
a purple tie with a crest on it, and had a cane with a long, whiplike
switch in his hand. "Lie quiet, or I'll tickle you with this," he
hissed. "Don't draw attention to yourself and disturb your betters, or
I may forget my orders. Curse the Guards! Cedríc in glasshouse the
bootless Aruman-tick handman blood..." he passed into a long angry speech
in his own tongue that slowly died away into muttering and snarling.
Terrified Pipsqueak lay still, though the pain in his head and bladder
was growing and the stones beneath him were boring into his back. To
take his mind off himself he listened intently to all he could hear.
There were many voices round about, and though goblin-speech sounded at
all times full of hate and argot, it seemed plain that something like a
quarrel had begun, and was getting hotter.
To Pipsqueak's surprise he found that much of the talk was
intelligible; many of the goblins were using ordinary language.
Apparently the members of two or three quite different schools were
present, and they could not understand one another's clique-speech.
There was an angry debate concerning what they were to do now: which
way they were to take and what should be done with the "new boy".
"There's no time to initiate him properly," said one. "No time for
tradition on this trip."
"That can't be helped," said another. "But why not enrol him quick,
enrol him now? We're in a hurry. Evening's coming, and we ought to get
a move on if we don't want to lose house points and face the Run."
"Orders," said a third voice in a deep growl. "Kill all but not the
Halflings; they are to brought back uninitiated as quickly as possible
for extra credit. That's my orders."
"What are they wanted for?" asked several voices. "Why uninitiated?
Are they good at sport?"
"Not likely: they look about as promising as Johnson minor. I heard
that one of them has got something, something that's wanted for the
Season, some elvish plot or other. Anyway, they'll both be interviewed."
"Is that all you know? Why don't we search them and find out? We
might find something that we could use ourselves: some drinks, or some
weed, or something like that."
"That is a very interesting remark," sneered a voice, softer than
the others but more evil. "I may have to report that. The new pupils
are not to be searched or molested: those are my orders."
"And mine too," said the deep voice. "Alive and as recruited. That's
"Not our orders!" said one of the earlier voices. "We have come all
the way from the Mines to kill, and avenge our shocking loss on points.
I wish to kill, then go up north."
"Then you can wish again," said the growling voice. "I am Cedríc. I
am the senior prefect. I return to Guard School by the shortest road."
"Is Aruman the headmaster or the Great Eye?" said the evil voice.
"We should go back at once to Tower."
"If we could cross the Great River, we might," said another voice.
"But there are not enough of us to venture down to the bridges, and these
new boys won't have got their Swimming colours yet."
"I came across," said the evil voice. "A winged Nazdaq awaits us
northward at the East Bank; he's just calling in a few of Pater's
"Maybe, maybe! Then you'll fly off with the new pupils, and get all
the kudos and house points for Tower, and leave us to hike as best as we
can through the golf-country. No, we must stick together. These lands
are dangerous: full of foul parvenus and new money with no form."
"Yah, we must stick together," growled Cedríc. "I don't trust you
little Mines House swine. You've no standards outside your own sties.
But for us you'd all have run away. We are the Uruk-Hai prefects! We
destroyed the confidence of the great musician. We recruited the new
boys. We are the pupils of Aruman the Wise, the White Hand Gang. We
came out of Guard House and led you here, and we shall lead you back by
the way we choose. I am Cedríc. I have spoken."
"You have spoken more than enough, Cedríc," sneered the evil voice.
"I wonder how the masters would like it in Tower. They might think that
Cedríc's neck needed relieving of a prefect tie. They might ask where
his strange ideas come from. Did they come from Aruman, perhaps? Who
does he think he is, setting up on his own with his filthy white House
badges? They might agree with me, with Clarénce their trusted bridge
club secretary; and I Clarénce say this: Aruman is a fool, and a dirty
treacherous fool. But the Head has his Eye on him.
"Swine, is it? How do you boys like being called swine by the muck-
rakers of a dirty little Chem master?"
Many loud yells in goblin-argot answered him, and the whispering
swish of canes being brandished. Cautiously Pipsqueak rolled over,
hoping to see what would happen. His guards had gone to join in the fray.
In the twilight he saw a large goblin, probably Cedríc, standing facing
Clarénce, a short crook-legged creature with no chin. Round them were
many smaller goblins. Pipsqueak supposed that these were the ones from
the North. They had drawn their canes and wet towels, but hesitated to
Cedríc shouted, and a number of goblins of nearly his own size ran up.
Then suddenly, without warning, Cedríc sprang forwards, and with two
swift strokes caned the hands of two of his opponents. Clarénce stepped
aside and vanished into the shadows. The others gave way.
"Boys, put those canes away or I'll thrash you," snarled Cedríc. "And
let's have no more nonsense! We go straight west from here, and down
the stair. From there to the downs, then along the river to the forest,
then three laps around the playing field. Along the Cadet Training
Course and back to Guard House in time for prep. That clear?"
The goblins were getting ready to begin the cross-country run
again, but some of the Northerners were still unwilling, and the Guards
prefects caned two more before the rest were cowed. There was much
confusion. For the moment Pipsqueak was unwatched. His legs were
securely bound, but his arms were only tied about the wrists, and his
legs were in front of him. He could move them both together, though the
bonds were cruelly tight. He tried gnawing through the string, then
remembered the knife that Morrie had convinced him to wear up his
sleeve "just in case". He waved his arms in what he hoped was an
inconspicuous, I've-got-cramp sort of way until the tiny blade worked
loose from its sheath: the edge snicked his arm, and then slid down his
wrist. Pipsqueak whimpered: he hated the sight of blood, particularly
his own, but steeling himself he drew the knot of the wrist-cord up and
down against the blade of the knife. The string was cut! Quickly
Pipsqueak took it in his fingers and knotted it again into a loose
bracelet of two loops and slipped it over his hands. Then he lay very
"Pick up those new boys!" shouted Cedríc. "Don't play any tricks with
them! If they are not in alive when we get back, it'll be detentions
and the glasshouse all round till someone owns up. Remember the good
name of your House and school."
A goblin seized Pipsqueak like a sack, tied a horrid brown tie round
his neck, grabbed his arms and forced him into a disgusting green
blazer with gold piping; then it gave him a good kick "for your own
good, you detestable midget" and picked him up by the ears while others
swished canes meaningfully. Morrie yawned, got up and put on the
uniform with every appearance of enthusiasm; the goblins were almost
deferential to him. Pipsqueak looked at Morrie in horror, as he
suddenly realised who must have hit him over the head, and tied those
knowingly mocking knots. Morrie glanced at him, and smirked. Pipsqueak
shut his eyes and slipped back into evil dreams. Most of them involved
Morrie and sharp implements.
Suddenly he was thrown onto the stony floor again. It was early night,
but the slim moon was already falling westward. They were on the edge
of a cliff that seemed to look out over a sea of pale mist. There was a
sound of water falling nearby.
"The scouts have come back at last," said a goblin close out hand.
"What a relief," hissed another, and the sound of water ceased.
"Well, what did you discover?" growled the voice of Cedríc.
"We had to destroy a couple of villages to get them, sir, but we've
got enough feather beds for the senior prefects, and breakfast for the
entire cross-country party. All's well now."
"Now, I daresay. But how long? You fools! You should have kept a few
of the yokels alive to carry the beds for us. Now we'll just have to
leave them here. Damn you all to hell!"
"Yes, sir," said the scout.
A shadow bent over Pipsqueak. It belonged to Cedríc. "Sit up!" said
the prefect. "My bloods are tired of lugging you about. We have got to
climb down, and you must use your legs. Be a man now. No crying, no
slacking, follow the principles that have made Guard House old boys
great. Let's see if you make the grade in one of our smaller tests,
He cut the string round Pipsqueak's legs and ankles, picked him up
by his ears and stood him on his feet. Pipsqueak fell down, and Cedríc
dragged him up by his ears again. Morrie laughed. Cedríc thrust a flask
between his teeth and poured some burning liquid down his throat, while
the goblins chanted, "Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!" Pipsqueak managed to
drain the whole bottle, and the goblins cheered. Cedríc looked
impressed. Pipsqueak felt a hot fierce glow flow through him. The pain
in his legs and ankles vanished. He could stand, although walking in a
straight line proved surprisingly difficult.
"Where's mine?" Morrie demanded. Cedríc glowered and looked about to
draw his cane, then thought better of it and signalled for another
flask. Morrie looked him in the eye, then unstoppered it and positively
guzzled the contents. The goblins were flabbergasted. "These Halflings
are damned good drinkers, I'll say that for them," one of them
muttered, sipping gingerly at an alcopop.
Morrie stood up, looking calm and relaxed, as though being proffered
drinks by goblins was nothing out of the ordinary. "Where do we get bed
and breakfast?" he demanded.
"Do I look like a scout?" Cedríc snapped. "Ask them, it's none of my
"Suit yourself," Morrie said languidly. "But I don't expect my father
will be very pleased once he hears that I haven't been treated well.
Why, he may even choose to withdraw his generous donation to the Guard
House trust fund
Pipsqueak could hardly believe his ears (which were now throbbing and
approximately three times as big as they had been at the start of
the "cross-country run"). Morrie's father was notoriously tight-fisted
(he was known as Sorrowduck Snatchgold, or "Sorrie" for short) and in
addition had not been seen by anyone outside his family for three
years: Gaffer Gamgee had voiced a commonly-held opinion that "young
master Morrie" had been rather previous in assuming control of the
household, resigning himself to the notion with the phlegmatic
observation that "it won't matter one whit when the Revolution comes,
you mark my words". Yet here was Morrie using his father's alleged
munificence as a bargaining tool with the creatures of the Enemy, and
getting away with it! He watched Cedríc back down with a muttered
apology and a summons to the nearest scout to give "Mister Brandybuck"
all the information he wanted. The scout promised obsequiously
that "you'll get bed and breakfast all right, sir, more than you can
"I doubt that," Pipsqueak said out loud, and was caned for speaking
out of turn.
The party began to descend a narrow ravine leading down into the misty
plain below. Morrie and Pipsqueak, separated by a dozen or more smaller
goblins who were busily toadying up to the new boy who could cheek
Cedríc the Guard blood and get away with it, climbed down with them. At
the bottom they stepped onto grass, and Pipsqueak's heart rose; he
could feel the fine-trimmed green of a golf course of Rohan under his
feet, and he remembered the old story about Bandyknees the Bullshitter
and King Golfball the goblin, drawing confidence from the connexion
with the hobbit who walked off with the first Masters trophy with a
staggering 61. He then remembered that the Bullshitter had been lynched
by a distinctly biased crowd, and that Golfball had given his name to
the sport for a very good reason, and suddenly felt a lot colder.
"Now straight on!" shouted Cedríc. "West and a little north. Follow
Eustáce. Let's trample their precious golf courses a little, that'll be
a good prank, eh boys?"
"But what are we going to do at sunrise?" some of the northerners
"We shall sing the school song, give three cheers for the Headmaster
and Aruman his Deputy, and cane Plowman Minimus for picking his nose
and eating it when he thought no-one was looking," Cedríc replied
promptly; Pipsqueak could see how he had ended up as senior
prefect. "Then go on running. What do you think? Sit on the green and
wait for the nouveaux riches to tee off?"
"But we can't run in the sunlight; we have allergies, and sick-notes
from our parents."
"You'll run with me behind you, you loathsome slugs," said
Cedríc. "Allergies? You pathetic frogspawn make me sick, with your
excuses and your weak chests and your heart conditions. No wonder Guard
House has thrashed you in every game of rugger for the last eighteen
seasons. You're not fit to wear those ties, you hear me? Now get out of
my sight. Allergies, my foot!" He raised the aforementioned extremity
and booted the nearest northerner into a bunker. It was then that
Pipsqueak noticed that, like hobbits, the Guards pupils wore no shoes,
and that their feet extruded little studs, and were toeless, being
fitted with steel toecaps instead.
Then the whole company began to run with the long loping strides of
goblins. They kept no order, thrusting, jostling and cursing; several
goblins got studded in the confusion, and elbows were used without
mercy. This was clearly an important run, as the prefects from each
house went up and down the line, beating those among their fellows who
could not match the pace. Pipsqueak, who was far back in the line
hiding among a group of no-hopers and hoping that Cedríc would not spot
him, gathered that an important trophy was at stake. He could not see
Morrie. He wondered how long he would be able to go on at this pace; he
had had no food since the morning. But at present the goblin-liquor
("ghash-water" as they called it) was still hot in him.
Every now and again there came into his mind an unbidden vision of the
fat face of Strider bending myopically over a dark trail, and waddling,
waddling behind. More vivid, however, was the image of the gigantic
five-headed hamster waving a sickle and singing "My Balrog lies over
the ocean" out of tune, and he began to sweat profusely and shiver at
the thought of its evil little eyes and its malicious whiskers.
They had gone only a mile or so from the cliff when the course sloped
down into a wide shallow depression, where the ground was soft and wet:
the goblins busied themselves knocking down the boundary fence. The
dark shapes of the goblins in front grew dim, and several were
"Damn it all! Quicksand!" shouted Cedríc from the rear.
Pipsqueak could stand it no more. If the quicksand did not swallow
him up, the mutant hamster certainly would. He swerved aside to the
right, and fell headfirst into the mist. "Come back here, you snivelling
little toerag!" Cedríc roared.
Pipsqueak sprang up and ran screaming, divesting himself of his
clothes as he ran.
"This'll shake that monster off the scent a little!" he reasoned. He
tore off his tie and blazer, then threw away his waistcoat and undid
his silver belt, which began to deliver a tinny rendition of "Happy
birthday to you" in Elvish. He moved to take off his trousers, but long
arms and hard claws seized him and he came to his senses.
Strangely the goblins refrained from punishing him, and he found
himself regarded with a degree of awe by the northerners; even the
Guards left him alone.
"I don't know why I did it," he whispered to Morrie, who was now
jogging next to him. "It seemed to make sense at the time."
"You've got guts, I'll say that for you," Morrie replied. "Either
that or you're even dafter than I thought. Haven't you heard anything
about public schoolboys? Still, I imagine they'll leave you alone for
now. I may make a Took of you yet, cousin!"
"What do you mean?" Pipsqueak demanded. Morrie smiled, but said
Neither Pipsqueak nor Morrie remembered much of the latter part of
the journey, since they were treated to copious quantities of Ghash-water
by their fellow runners. They veered, and zigzagged, and fell over, but
if they halted or stumbled they were picked up and carried by the
northerners, who had unofficially adopted them. The Guards prefects
scowled, but said nothing. There was still no sign of Clarénce.
The warmth of the latest flask had gone, and Pipsqueak was sick again.
Suddenly he fell face downwards on the turf. An hour and a half later,
the company noticed he was missing and sent a party back to retrieve
him. Whatever kudos his panicked streaking had won him evaporated; he
was carried in a sack and darkness was about him.
"I'm suffocating in here!" he yelled, but to no avail.
Dimly he became aware of voices clamouring: many of the more unfit
goblins were demanding a rest. Cedríc was shouting. He felt himself
flung to the ground, and he lay as he fell, until black dreams took
him. At three in the morning the company was woken by cries of "Clowns
are climbing through the window!" and an irate prefect kicked the sack
until Pipsqueak was silent once more.
Slowly he came back to the waking world with a bleeding nose and
bruised ribs. Orders were shouted (he heard Morrie bellow "Ten bacon
sandwiches!") and he was tipped out and thrown roughly on the grass.
There he lay for a while, fighting with nausea. His head swam, but from
the heat in his body he guessed that he had been given another draught.
His vision blurred. A scout stooped over him and flung him some bread
with a strange, oddly-coloured circle of meat in the middle. He ate the
sesame seed bun hungrily, but not the meat: he was famished, but not
yet so famished as to eat a hamburger, the flesh of he dared not guess
He sat up and looked about. Morrie was not far away. They were by the
banks of a swift narrow river. Ahead mountains loomed: a tall peak was
catching the first rays of the sun. A dark smudge of forest lay on the
lower slopes before them. There was no sign of any giant hamsters.
There was much shouting and debating among the goblins; a quarrel
seemed on the point of breaking out again between the northerners and
the Guards. Some were pointing back away south, and some were pointing
eastwards. One was pointing up in the air, but he was caned and
"Very well," said Cedríc. "Leave them to me then! If you want to
throw away what we've come all the way to get, throw it away! I'll look
after it. Let the Uruk-Hai look after it, as usual. If you're afraid of
the Whiteballs, run! Run! There's the forest," he shouted, pointing
ahead. "Get to it! It's your best hope: it's out of bounds. Off you go!
And quick, before I knock a few more teeth in, to put some sense into
the others." No-one appeared to understand the last part, but they said
There was some cursing and scuffling, and then most of the northerners
broke away and dashed off, over a hundred of them, running wildly along
the river towards the mountains and showing more athletic prowess than
they had demonstrated in the entire journey up to that point. The
hobbits were left with the Guard House contingent: a grim dark band,
four score at least of large, muscular, bone-headed jocks with great
canes and short tempers. A few of the larger and bolder northerners
remained with them.
"Now we'll deal with that little rat Clarénce," said Cedríc; but some
even of his fellow Guards were looking uneasily southwards.
"I know," growled Cedríc. "The cursed polo-players have got wind of
us. But that's all your fault, Jeffries. You and the other scouts ought
to have your wages docked. But we are the prefects. We'll feast on
horseflesh yet, or something better. Filet mignon would suit me, but I
suppose we'll have to see what's on High Table."
At that moment Pipsqueak saw why some of the troop had been pointing
eastward. From that direction there now came hoarse cries, and there
was Clarénce again, and at his back a couple of score of others like
him: long-limbed chinless goblins. They had a red eye on their prefect
badges. Cedríc stepped forward to meet them.
"So you've come back?" he said. "Thought better of it, eh?"
"I've returned to see that Orders are carried out and the new boys
safe," answered Clarénce.
"Indeed!" said Cedríc. "Waste of effort. I'll see that orders are
carried out in my prefecture. And what else did you come back for? You
went in a hurry. Did you leave anything behind?"
"I left a fool," snarled Clarénce. "But there were some stout fellows
with him who were too good to lose, especially if that cricket rematch
against Gundabad hasn't been cancelled. I knew you'd lead them into a
mess. I've come to help them."
"Splendid!" laughed Cedríc. "But unless you've some guts for a scrap
with the hoi polloi you've taken the wrong way. Tower was your road.
The Whiteballs are coming. What's happened to your precious Nazdaq? Has
he had another mount impounded by the police for speeding? Now, if
you'd brought him along, that might have been useful if these Nazdaq
are all they make out."
"Nazdaq, Nazdaq," said Clarénce, shivering and licking his chops, as
if the word had a foul taste that he savoured painfully. "You speak of
what is deep beyond the reach of your muddy dreams, Cedríc," he
said. "Nazdaq! Ah! All that they make out! One day you'll wish that you
had not said that. Ape!" he snarled fiercely. "You ought to know that
they're the apple of the Great Eye, you numbskull, but you clearly
haven't done your Evil Economic Forces prep yet. But the winged Nazdaq:
not yet, not yet. He won't let them show themselves across the Great
River yet, not before they've got their pilot's licences. They're for
the Season and other purposes, such as sky-writing."
"You seem to know a lot," said Cedríc. "More than is good for you, I
guess. Perhaps those in Tower might wonder how, and why, not to mention
who, when, where and what. But in the meantime the Uruk-Hai of Guard
House can do the dirty work, as usual. Don't stand slavering there! For
heaven's sake get a handkerchief or something. You make me feel quite
faint. The other swine are legging it to the forest, and you'd better
follow. You wouldn't get back to the Great River alive. Right off the
mark! Now! I'll be on your heels, and that," he stamped on a small
rock, which shattered completely, "will hurt."
The Guards seized Pipsqueak and Morrie, much to the indignation of the
latter, who shouted something about his father. Then the troop started
off. Hour after hour they ran, slinging the hobbits from one carrier to
another, while others tried to tackle them. "No point wasting time that
can be used for rugger practice," Cedríc boomed. The Guards gradually
passed through the Tower party, and soon they were gaining on the
northerners as well. The forest began to draw nearer.
Pipsqueak was bruised, torn, hung over and miserable. "Is this what all
public schools are like?" he thought to himself. His father had put his
name down for Dunharrow-on-the-Hill, but Pipsqueak had run away when he
found out. Morrie, of course, had been to Wood Eaton; Pipsqueak
supposed that he had learned his unquenchable self-confidence and
brutal habits there. Much good was it doing him now, though, being
thrown from one set of iron hands to another. This brought Pipsqueak
some consolation, until a penalty was declared and he was kicked fifty
yards through the air and bounced a further fifteen.
In the afternoon Cedríc's troop overtook the northerners. They were
sneezing in the rays of the bright sun; their heads were down and their
tongues were lolling out. One of them was searching for his antihistamine
"Maggots!" jeered the Guards. "You're cooked. The Whiteballs will
catch you and kill you. They're coming!"
A cry from Clarénce showed that this was not mere jest. Horsemen,
riding very swiftly, had indeed been sighted: still far behind but
gaining on the goblins. They were waving polo mallets in the air.
The Guards began to run with a redoubled pace that astonished
Pipsqueak, a terrific spurt it seemed for the end of a race. Then he
saw that the sun was sinking; shadows reached over the land. The Tower
contingent lifted their heads and also began to put on speed. The
forest was dark and close. The land was beginning to slope upwards, but
the goblins did not halt. Both Cedríc and Clarénce shouted, spurring
them on to a last effort.
"They will make it yet. They will escape," thought Pipsqueak in
typically optimistic mood. Then his latest carrier managed to twist his
neck, so that he ended up (in severe pain) glancing back over his
shoulder. He saw that the riders away eastward were already level with
the goblins, galloping over the plain. The sunset gilded their riding
helmets and mallets. They were hemming the goblins in, preventing them
from scattering, and driving them along the line of the river.
He wondered very much what kind of folk they were. He wished now that
he had learned more at Rivendell, or indeed anywhere at all, and looked
more at maps and books and things; but in those days the plans for the
journey seemed to be in more competent hands, namely those of everyone
else, and he had never reckoned with being cut off from Gandalf, or
from Strider, or Frodo, or Boromir, or... All that he could remember
about Rohan was that it was called Rohan. All things considered, that
was not very much help. But better than nothing, as far as it went.
"But how will they know that we are not goblins?" he thought, looking
at Morrie's wicked and sly face, and the uniform that they had once
more forced him to wear. "I don't suppose they've ever heard of hobbits
down here, and if they have they probably want to kill us anyway
because of our criminal network. I suppose I should be glad that the
beastly goblins look like being destroyed, but that isn't really much
consolation is it?"
A few of the riders appeared to be golfers, judging from the squires
riding beside them bearing club-filled bags. Riding swiftly into range
and then dismounting, they hit volleys of white balls (Pipsqueak was
strangely relieved when he made the connexion) and the goblins that
straggled behind, coughing and wheezing. Several of them fell, although
given their level of fitness they were probably having heart attacks;
then the riders wheeled out of range of the answering ink-pellets and
paper aeroplanes of their enemies, who aimed wildly, not daring to
halt. This happened many times, and on one occasion balls fell among
the Guards. One of them, just in front of Pipsqueak, got hit in the
temple and did not get up again.
Night came down without the riders closing in for battle. Many
goblins had fallen, but fully two hundred remained. In the early darkness
the goblins came to a hillock, but did not know whether to eat it or talk
to it, and so left it alone. The eaves of the forest were very near,
probably no more than three furlongs away, but Pipsqueak didn't know
how long a furlong was, so that wasn't very helpful. The horsemen had
encircled them. A small band disobeyed Cedríc's command, and began
playing a vigorous march, until they were caned into submission.
"Well, here we are," sneered Clarénce. "Fine leadership! I hope the
great Cedríc will lead us out again."
"Put those halflings down!" ordered Cedríc, taking no notice of
Clarénce. "You, Eustáce, get two others and stand guard over them!
They're not to be killed unless the filthy Whiteballs break through.
Understand? As long as I'm alive, I want 'em. But they're not to cry
out, and they're not to be rescued. We were entrusted to being the new
boys back to Guard House, and that's what we're going to do, whether
they like it or not. Bind their legs!"
The last part of the order was carried out mercilessly. But Pipsqueak
found that for the first time he was close to Morrie. The goblins were
making a great deal of noise, shouting and swishing their canes, and
the hobbits managed to whisper together for a while.
"Get your hands off my neck!" Morrie croaked. "I'll have you dumped
in the swamp with concrete shoes."
"Hobbits don't wear shoes!" Pipsqueak replied instinctively.
"A concrete waistcoat, then. Leave off!"
Pipsqueak let go. Morrie coughed for a while, then hissed: "What did
you expect? Look out for number one is my motto. They said they were
there to recruit us into their school, and they seemed to think that
tying you up was an appropriate initiation ritual. That's public
schoolboys for you. Anyway, I need to get to Isengard quickly, and this
seemed like a good idea."
"Isengard? Are you mad?"
"On the contrary, Isengard is the only reason I joined this stupid
expedition in the first place. Do I look like the altruistic type? Do
me a favour. Remember when my cousins Norbert and Clovis were found in
the Woody End riddled with holes? That was Sackville-Baggins work.
Young Lotho is getting some new kind of weapon shipped in from Isengard
in return for some high-quality weed, and I need to close it down
before we lose our investments in the Southfarthing completely."
"You are mad. You've travelled halfway across the continent, just to
shut down a weapons smuggling operation? Well anyway, that's all very
well, but why am I here?"
Just then, however, a savage kick warned Pipsqueak that the noise had
died down, and the Guards were watchful.
The night was cold and still. All round the knoll on which the goblins
were gathered little watch-fires sprang up, golden-red in the darkness,
a complete ring of them.
"There is nothing between me and the wheel of fire," Pipsqueak thought.
They were within a long bowshot, but the goblins had no longbows. The
riders made no sound. Later in the night when the moon came out of the
mist, then they could occasionally be seen.
"They'll wait for the Sun, curse them!" growled one of the Guards.
"Why don't we get together and charge through? What's old Cedríc think
he's doing, I should like to know?"
"I daresay you would," snarled Cedríc stepping up from behind.
"Meaning I don't think at all, eh? That's five hours' detention for you,
Harrison. You're just as bad as the other rabble: the maggots and the
apes of Tower. No good trying to charge with them: they'd just squeal
and bolt, and there are more than enough of these filthy middle-class
fools to mop up our lot on the flat. Still, there's one thing these
fine fellows don't know: Mauríce and his lads are in the forest, and
they should turn up any time now."
Cedríc's words were apparently enough to satisfy the Guards; but the
other goblins were both dispirited and rebellious. They posted a few
watchers, but most of them lay on the ground, resting in the pleasant
darkness. It did indeed become very dark: the fires brought no light to
the hillock, whatever it was. The riders were not, however, content
merely to wait for the dawn and let their enemies rest. A sudden outcry
on the east side of the knoll showed that something was wrong. It
seemed that some of the men had riden in close, slipped off their
horses, crawled to the edge of the camp and beaten several goblins to
death with their one-irons before fading away again. Cedríc dashed off
to stop a stampede.
Pipsqueak and Morrie sat up. The Guards had gone with Cedríc. But if
the hobbits had any thought of escape it was soon dashed. A long hairy
arm took each of them by the neck and drew them close together, Dimly
they were aware of Clarénce's great head and hideous lack of chin
between them. He began to paw them and feel them. Pipsqueak shuddered
as hard cold fingers groped down his front.
"Well, my little ones!" said Clarénce in a soft whisper. "Enjoying
your nice rest? Or not? A little awkwardly placed, perhaps; canes and
towels on one side, and nasty mallets on the other! Little people should
not meddle in affairs that are too big for them." His fingers continued to
grope. There was a light like a pale but hot fire behind his eyes.
The thought came suddenly into Pipsqueak's mind, as if caught direct
from the urgent thought of the enemy: "Clarénce knows about the Ring!
He's looking for it, while Cedríc is busy: he probably wants it for
himself. Good heavens, I hope that's what he's after." Cold fear was in
Pipsqueak's heart, yet at the same time he was wondering what use he
could make of Clarénce's desire.
"I don't think you will find it that way," he whispered. "It isn't
easy to find."
"Find it?" said Clarénce: his fingers stopped crawling, much to
Pipsqueak's relief, and gripped his shoulder. "Find what? What are you
talking about, little one?"
"For a moment Pipsqueak was silent. Then suddenly in the darkness he
made a noise in his throat: saddam, saddam. "Nothing, my precious," he
added, for good measure.
The hobbits felt Clarénce's fingers twitch. "O ho!" hissed the goblin
softly. "So that's what he means, is it? Very ve-ry dangerous, my
"Perhaps," said Morrie, now alert and aware of Pipsqueak's guess.
"Perhaps, and not only for us. Still you know your own business best.
Do you want it, or not? And what you give for it?"
"Do I want it? Do I want it?" said Clarénce as if puzzled; but his
arms were trembling. "What would I give for it? What do you mean?"
"We mean," said Pipsqueak, choosing his words carefully, "that it's
no good groping in the dark. We could save you time and trouble. But you
must untie our legs first, or we'll do nothing and tell all."
"My dear tender little fools," hissed Clarénce, "everything you have,
and everything you know, will be got out of you in due time:
everything! You'll wish there was more you could do to satisfy the
Questioner, indeed you will: quite soon. We shan't hurry the
experience. Oh dear no! What do you think you've been kept alive for?
My dear little fellows, please believe me when I say that it was not
out of kindness; that's not even one of Cedríc's faults."
"I find it quite easy to believe," said Morrie. "But you haven't got
your prey home yet. And it doesn't seem to be going your way, whatever
happens. If we come to Guard House, it won't be Clarénce that benefits:
Aruman will take all the pupils he can find if it'll help him pay the
rent. If you want anything for yourself, now's the time to do a deal."
Clarénce began to lose his temper. The name of Aruman seemed
specially to enrage him. Time was passing and the disturbance was dying
down. Cedríc or the Guards might return at any minute. "Have you got
it - either of you?" he snarled.
"Saddam, saddam!" said Pipsqueak.
"Untie our legs!" said Morrie.
They felt the goblin's arms trembling wildly. "Curse you, you filthy
little vermin!" he hissed. "Untie your legs? I'll untie every string in
your bodies. Do you think I can't search you to the bones? Search you!
I'll cut you both to quivering shreds. I don't need the help of your
legs to get you away and have you all to myself!"
"Wait!" shouted Pipsqueak. "Don't you want our help in finding the
"Ring?? What on earth are you talking about, you pathetic shrimp?"
Pipsqueak was suddenly much, much more afraid.
Suddenly he seized them. He tucked them one under each armpit and
crushed them fiercely to his sides. Then he sprang forward, stooping
low. Quickly and silently he went, till he came to the edge of the
knoll. There, choosing a gap between the watchers, he passed like an
evil shadow out into the night, down the slope and away westward
towards the river that flowed out of the forest. In that direction
there was a wide open space with only one fire.
After going a dozen yards he halted, peering and listening. Nothing
could be seen or heard. He crept slowly on. Then he stood up, as if to
risk a sudden dash. At that very moment the dark form of a rider loomed
up in front of him. "Nazdaq!" he shouted in surprise and alarm. It was
his undoing. A polo mallet whistled through the air and dealt him a
sharp crack on the skull. He gave a hideous shivering cry and lay still.
The hobbits remained flat on the ground, too afraid to move.
At last Morrie stirred and whispered softly: "I don't even want to
know what he was up to, but now we've got some sort of chance! But how
are we to avoid being walloped?"
The answer came almost immediately. From the yells and screeches that
were coming from the knoll they guessed that their disappearance had
been discovered. Then suddenly the answering cries of goblin-voices
came from the right, outside the circle of watch-fires. Mauríce had
apparently arrived and was attacking the besiegers with heavy-duty
riding crops and several cats o' nine tails. The riders were drawing in
their ring close round the knoll so as to prevent any sortie, while a
company rode off to deal with the newcomers. Suddenly Morrie and
Pipsqueak realised that without moving they were now outside the
circle: there was nothing between them and escape.
"Now," said Morrie, "if only we had our legs and hands free, we
might get away."
"I was going to tell you: I've managed to free my hands. These loops
are only left for show." Pipsqueak tugged at the string, only to find
that he had just unwittingly made the knot fast. Morrie said a word,
then pulled a stiletto from his heel ("Don't ask," he warned his
astonished cousin) and cut the bonds.
The hobbits then sat and ate two or three Twinkies, until Morrie
realised how stupid that was and gestured for Pipsqueak to get a move
They crawled. The turf was deep and yielding, but it was a long
slow business. They reached the edge if the river, then looked back.
The sounds had died away. Evidently Mauríce and his lads had been
killed or driven off. Already the night was old. In the east the sky
was beginning to grow pale.
"We must get under cover," said Pipsqueak, "or we shall be seen.
It won't be any comfort to us if the riders only find out we aren't
goblins when we're dead. I could stagger on now. What about you,
Morrie got up. "Yes," he said. "I can manage it. Twinkies do put
heart into you; it must be all the life-enhancing E-numbers and
preservatives. Damn, I have such a hangover. I need a drink."
They turned and walked side by side slowly along the line of the
river. "You seem to have been doing well for yourself, Master Took,"
said Morrie. "You aren't a total moron after all! Your father will be
Pipsqueak looked puzzled.
"Do you not yet understand, Paragraph Took? Your father paid me a
handsome sum to train you up to become a decent criminal mastermind
like the rest of your family. I thought he was throwing his money away,
but it looks as though you may shape up yet.
"But Cousin Brandybuck is going in front now, because for all that
you still have absolutely no idea where we are, do you? That's what you
get for not getting a decent education. We are walking along the Entwash;
in front of us is Fangorn Forest."
"Lead on, Moribund!" said Pipsqueak. "If you have any idea where you're
going, which I doubt."
"I am going to Isengard, as I told you," Morrie snapped. "Now shut up
if you don't want a dagger in your guts. We can take a short-cut through
the forest. Just don't do anything stupid."
"I won't," said Pipsqueak, lighting a cigarette and throwing the lit
The two of them made their way into the forest under the huge branches.
They looked back across the river, and with the dawn the riders charged,
waving their mallets, and launching a rain of golf-balls.
"That's what you get if you trample on the pride and golf courses of
the aspiring middle class," Morrie observed. "The highest echelon of
goblin society has had it: Sam would be ecstatic." He shuddered, and
So it was that they did not see the last stand, when Cedríc was
overtaken and brought to bay at the very edge of Fangorn. There he was
slain at last by Eowynn, who dismounted and beat him repeatedly in the
head with a sand wedge.
Then when they had laid their fallen comrades in a mound, the riders
made a great fire and scattered the ashes of their enemies. So ended
the longest cross-country run in the history of public schooling, and
no news of it came ever back either to Tower or to Guard House.
"Hey, look at this!" Morrie shouted. He pointed at a goblin that
looked as though it had been trampled to death by a pair of very large
and very heavy feet. Next to it was a violin-case. Morrie picked it up.
"It suits you," remarked Pipsqueak, not knowing what else to say.
Morrie grinned. He stood silent for a moment, then observed, "Didn't
those goblins seem a bit stiff, or scratchy, to you?"
"I don't know any more than you do about that," said Pipsqueak
innocently. "After all, you were the one who went to a public school."
"What are you implying?" Morrie demanded querulously.
They disappeared into the forest.
* The Bywater Smile - Shire slang for an expertly slit throat, not
to be confused with the Tuckborough grin, which under optimum
conditions required a corkscrew, an ell of twine and three enraged pigs,
or the Scary grimace, which was a particularly unnerving expression. In
the past Morrie had crafted some great smiles. These were not up to his
usual standard, but still effective.
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