The Lord of the... whatever, Book IV, Chapter 5:
Of Herbs And Stoned Hobbits
In the delightful new country in which they found themselves, the hobbits
thanked Eru, the Valar, and the renowned Elven-singer Daeron (of Daeron and
Glorfinkel fame) that they had escaped the wrath of Maglor the Possessive.
They used the few moments before the break of dawn to get away as far as
possible from the evil place. When daylight became too revealing, they found
a hole in which to hide themselves. As their breathing became less uneasy
Frodo turned to Sam and asked, "Well, Sam, what do you think of the Elves
now?" in a sarcastic manner which forced Sam once again to control his Fist
of Death. "I recall you were already sick of them when we were in Lorien."
"Aye, that I was," said Sam. "But now I'd gae further an' say they're a
bunch o' greedy, selfish, grasping feudal anachronisms."
"Bolsheviks, I call them," said Frodo disgustedly. Sam just smiled
Suddenly Frodo remembered the Stone of Galadriel, and the strange effect
it had had on Maglor. He took the stone out of his pocket and looked at it
as it shined on the morning sun, as if a living flame dwelled within it.
"Could it be that this is indeed one of the Slipcasts, which were
thought to be lost Ages ago?", he said wondering.
"No, no! That is not what the grazy music-teacher said to us," argued
Spiegel. "He only spoke of the Light inside it, that the light belonged to
his father, or something. Besides he's soo graazy! No. Give it to us! Give
it to Spiegel. Come on! You still owe me for that dress!"
"Hey now! I got that dress fair and square," answered Frodo angrily.
"Besides it wouldn't fit you anyway, you fat slob!"
Spiegel flinched as if she had been hit in the face, and turned away
with tears in her eyes. Frodo stood above her breathing heavily. Suddenly
he felt as if a cloud had passed away from his eyes. "What did I say? Oh
Spiegel, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to say that. It was the Ring, I tell you.
Sam looked at him and the stone he was holding. Suddenly he remembered
Frodo, as he had been in the Barrows, a small and insecure, confused little
Hobbit. Borish-bourgeois yes, but that was understandable considering his
background. But not this monster he had become.
"Maybe not," he said. "Maybe it has not been the Ring, but that accursed
stone all along, that has been twisting your mind. You saw what it did to
Maglor. Think about it! All the evil things - the Boromir incident, all that
changing of sexual preferences - have happened after Galadriel gave you
"But why would the benevolent Galadriel have done such a thing?" Frodo
asked. "Or are you suggesting that Galadriel has some kind of evil twin
sister, and she gave me that stone while the real Gladdy was hidden is
some dark dungeon?"
"I don't know," said Sam. "But I do know that we need somebody learned
to help us with this mystery. Somebody who has knowledge and wisdom.
Somebody with good heart and sharp brains. Somebody noble, yet friendly,
somebody with special - something..."
"All right, all right. Just don't start singing no matter what you do,"
said Spiegel nervously.
Deciding to set their jewellery problems aside for a while, Frodo gazed
at the lovely countryside, and Sam listened in delight as the birds warbled
the sweet notes of the Pastoral Symphony.
"This is the land of the Enemy?" he muttered. "And by the way, who the
blazes is leading us these days? Between Spiegel and Gulible, I'm sair
flummoxed, I are."
"We can both lead, my Precious," wheezed Gulible to Spiegel in a grotesque
attempt at seductive charm. "We goes together like a fissh and fisshbone, we
"Um, you can lead," replied Spiegel. "I'll take up the rear." Having
said this she promptly moved as far away from Gulible as possible.
They walked by a babbling brook, where the frogs sang the Moonlight
Sonata. Presently Frodo turned to Spiegel and remarked, "I've noticed
something odd about you, Spiegel. From one cha... moment to the next you
seem to adopt a different style of speech. Sometimes you talk like Gulible,
sometimes you talk like Yoda, sometimes you talk like the wife of a famous
shire-author, whose name escapes me... Why is this?"
"In my youth, I used to channel," replied Spiegel. "In those days, I
could control my gift, because of the dress Baggins stole." Her eyes
glowed with a reddish-purple glow of resentment, before she went on.
"When he -- it -- you took the dress, I lost the ability to distinguish
ourselves from others, and our identity became confuzzled, my Precious. The
only thing that can save me is pure love, but that I will not find until I
meet a handsome racially stigmatized stranger. If you would know more, cross
my palm with silver."
"No, thank you, that's enough," said Frodo, scratching his head. (He
thought he heard the strains of "The Blue Anduin Waltz" or something
similar.) "And as for you, Sam," he went on. "Why have you suddenly started
speaking in the Northfarthing dialect again?"
"I nae longer feel I hae tae deny my heritage. In solidarity with me
oppressed fellow-Northfarthingers, I defy your Hobbitonish linguistic
hegemony," said Sam. Frodo shrugged.
Suddenly they came across a large sign, bewritten with a mysterious
script called teuncwar. Fortunately there was a Westron translation, which
read: "Lugburz van Beethoven Memorial Concert Hall and Opera House -- Under
Construction" and in smaller letters, "Morgai Construction Company." This
reminded them again of their peril, which they had nearly forgotten in their
relief at escaping Maglor (or Muhammad Ali, as he was called in the Common
Speech). They might have left the University of Northern Mordor behind, but
they were nonetheless in an ominously cultured land. Once while scouting
ahead Sam came upon a baritone Orc and a mezzo practising that duet from
Act I of The Balrog of Sevîl.
"I'm nae gaein' doon there," he said to the others. "Higher up for me."
Presently, they came to an end of the classical music stuff, and found
themselves in a new, fragrant country -- almost too fragrant. They had left
behind the creepily harmonious lands of Dor Remi, and had entered Ethelien,
formerly the garden of Gondor in the days when the White Weed was in
flower. (Mayami it had been called in the Westron tongue, a name meaning
"Land of the Art Deco".) Or at any rate, it had been the garden of Minas
Tirith University, centre of a counterculture opposed to the anti-Sauron
The hippîs, as the counterculture types had called themselves, had
wanted for the people of Gondor to gather herbs and narcotics while Sauron
was gathering armies; and face his emissaries with flowers and peace signs,
and offer them hashish. Or so the Gondor historians always said; what the
counterculture types would have said for themselves, no tale tells, for the
Stewards ruthlessly stamped them out, while taking the drug profits unto
themselves. Sauron and his servants had little truck with drugs, and had
crushed the trade.
But in this region but shortly come under the rule of the Dark Lord,
the scent of a myriad intoxicants still filled the air: opium poppies, coca
plants, various breeds of cannabis, peyote cactuses, qat, heavenly blue,
black lotus, several kinds of mushrooms, and other mind-altering plants.
Suddenly Sam laughed, from intoxicant-induced euphoria not for jest. Then he
frowned, for narcotics were at best a product of bourgeois decadence, and at
worst an evil capitalist corruption that destroyed the communities of the
poor, and with whose ravages he was only too familiar, from the drug-addled
inanities of the Gaffer. From Spiegel's gasping and choking, he guessed that
she too smelled the vapours, and did not relish them.
"Drugses," she hissed. "Nasty, uncomfortable things! Make you late for
"Morrie would love this," muttered Frodo, who unlike the others rather
enjoyed the temporary relief from his burden - two burdens actually, which
the mind-numbing narcotics provided. He was walking in front with Gulible
now, stopping every now and then to enjoy a specially alluring scent, or to
snack an occasional mushroom.
They had travelled halfway through Ethelien when the drugs really began to
take hold of them. The day was bright and warm and they had decided to rest
and wait for the dusk, for Gulible would not travel under the Yellow Face,
since it showed up his ugliness and jeeringly rubbed in the fact that he
didn't have a chance in Angband of winning over the lovely Spiegel. So they
had found a deep brown bed of last year's poppies and settled there.
Frodo passed out almost immediately. The fumes helped him to forget for
a time a certain self-doubt that had been growing on him since the Spiegel
incident. He had had relatively few misgivings about his way of life up to
now. It had seemed right to him that, as a wealthier member of society, he
should do what he liked and let the less fortunate go hang themselves.
Poverty was probably good for them, anyway. Builds character, and all that.
Besides, Cassiopeia Took looked really good in that dress (though she looked
better with no dress at all ... wogah ... wogah ...) But his treatment of
Spiegel had awakened him to the true turpitude of his nature, and he was
filled with shame and self-loathing. It was true, the Phial might had been
responsible for the worst outrages -- but had it not, in truth, brought out
and exaggerated an evil which had long lay just beneath the surface? Oh, to
forget, to sleep a profound, dreamless sleep without pain or regret! Frodo
inhaled deeply. Ever since their departure from Lorien, he had secretly
longed to rediscover the Nirvana he had experienced there, and now that he
had found it, it was gonna take something remarkable to get him out of
Gulible was lying cowered away from the others, but the strange and
insidious fumes that surrounded their resting-place were having an effect on
him too; the fragrance of the poppies was confounding his brain, so that he
could see nought but the image of Spiegel in various provocative postures.
How could he win over - if not her heart, at least her body? Suddenly he had
an epiphany; so crystal clear that it almost blinded him. Dames didn't care
about a guy's looks, as long as he was polite and considerate towards
them! With this drug-addled insane idea in his head, he sprang up and ran
away, returning soon with arms full of flowers.
"I picked you some bosies, Ms Spiegel," he explained, handing the flowers
towards the surprised hobbit-lass.
"Why, thank you Gulible," said Spiegel, obviously pleased. She wasn't
feeling quite herself either, and the kind gesture of the old philanderer
almost brought tears to her eyes. It seemed to Gulible that his plan was
"Well, aren't you gonna eat them?" he asked. "Look! They're full of fresh,
Ok, that didn't work, thought Gulible, running to the woods again. Maybe
if I could find some frogses, eels, crickets or - Wait! Now we know what she
would like, yesss...
Sometimes later Sam woke up from an intoxicated sleep, in which he had
dreamed of his beloved Rose. Red Rosie, Revolutionary Rosie, the Rose of the
People, Rose of Solidarity. La Rosa Internationale was her name in Rohan,
Róza Luxemburg in the East; to the West she went not.
But oh, how they had marched together in the Mayday parade, and how hot
she had been later, while attacking the revisionist wing in the party
central-committee meeting... But what was this? There was his beloved Rose
lying right next to him! How did she get here all of a sudden?
Sam was trying to work out this problem, when another thought popped into
his delusional brains. "How thin and drawn she looks," he muttered. His
Rosie had always been a sturdy lass, with broad shoulders and strong hips, a
model of a working-class heroine if anyone. "The journey has taken a lot oot
o' her it seems, and that's a fact."
Spiegel didn't wake up when Sam touched gently her cheek. "Sleep, my dear.
Sleep," he muttered. "I will get ye something to eat, if it's the last thing
I ever do." Then he noticed something lying in the ground, next to the
sleeping hobbit. Something that looked exactly like two skinned rabbits.
What a stroke of luck! thought Sam. A gift from Gulible, no doubt. Well,
I shall put it in good use... He discovered an abandoned Isildur-helmet
lying nearby, and using that as a pot, Sam begun to cook one of his
specialities; stewed rabbit with herbs and mushrooms.
The Shire was not exactly known for its haute cuisine; for the hobbit's
idea of the gastronomic beau idéal emphasised quantity (mostly of meat and
potatoes, cooked to be as mushy as possible) over quality. But Sam was
accounted a relatively good cook, for a hobbit; although cooking a meal in
the absence of his beloved pots -- which he had dumped in the Dead Marshes,
where the alligators had seized them for their orchestra -- was clearly
going to be a tall order. Soon, however, the rabbits cut up lay simmering in
the helmet-pot. Still, something was missing though. Conveniently Gulible
was wandering about aimlessly, muttering something about being abducted by
"Hi, there, old snuffler!" said Sam. "Your new motto's Always ready to
"First we've heard of it, saddam," muttered Gulible.
"Shut yer mouth and bring me some herbs and mushrooms, or shall I present
the Fist of Death on thee! And onyway, dinnae ye want to help me get food
for the lady?"
"Have mercy!" shrieked Gulible. "We'll do anything! Get yummy food for
Spiegel. Don Giovanni swears it on the Precious!"
Spiegel? puzzled Sam momentarily, before figuring that it was probably
just another of Revolutionary Rosie's names, and returned to his pot/helmet.
Soon Gulible came back with ingredients. Only now did he get close enough to
see what Sam was up to. With a thin hissing shriek he dropped his burden
and gripped Sam by the sleeve.
"Ach! Nein - halt - raus!" he cried. "No! Evil hobbit! Steals the yummies
Gulible brought for Spiegel. Saddam! Don Giovanni captured two lab-rats
for Spiegel - one was a genius the other insane. Spiegel likes rats so much
she faints, and now hobbit tries to take the credit. Don Giovanni won't let
treacherous hobbit steal our wogah! We'll get even, precious. We have new
friends now, good friends and very strong."
With these enigmatic words he sauntered off. Suddenly Sam felt like the
world was rolling around in his eyes as he returned to his senses. Rosie was
gone and so were the rabbits, and he realised that he was boiling two
rodents on a hat which had funny round ears. His head was humming and
suddenly he collapsed to the ground and lay like a dead thing. The narcotic
fumes of Ethelien had defeated him.
Through the mists of his drugged sleep, Sam could see the figures of four
tall men surrounding them. He could hear their voices, but he was unable to
move or speak, or wipe the grin off his face, for that matter.
"We have found what we have found," said one men. "But what have we
"Not Orcs," said another one. "Unless UNM has lowered their standards
"Elves perhaps?" said the third man, dumbfully.
"Nay! Not Elves," said the fourth, tallest and also the one with thickest
hair - thereby probably the chief among them. "Elves have their own dope and
need no mannish stuff to get high, or so it is said. No, these three are
Hobbits or Pediannath from the north, also known as halflings, halfwits,
potheads, that in Rohirric are called les Américains, and in Dwarvish
damâb (singular dumb), or to those who speak High Language: Ylen
Sankia Priha. They are the result of a fascinating genetic experiment
undertaken by Miniwethil the mouse-eared, which explains their rodent-like
features and intellect. I wonder whether they have retained any traditions
concerning the Flying Mûmaks of Dumbar, which I am trying to collect for my
annotated version of the 'Dumbarcalevala' or The Adventures of Väinö - the
("Shut your mouth!" muttered one of the men.)
"They say Mini mated with one of the Corsairs of Dumbar, so some of
their traditions could easily have passed into hobbit-lore. Fascinating,
absolutely fascinating. The text, of course, inheres within the
diegetico-enacting praxis... But further discussion of this problem will
have to wait. In the meantime, let us carry these three dopeheads away from
here to sober up!"
At the tall man's command, the three others picked the hobbits up and
carried them away from the opiatic fumes, to the banks of a small stream,
and poured cold water on their heads. As Sam returned to his senses, he
could see that their captors were indeed Men, even though they were wearing
green tights. They had masks on their faces to protect them from the
dangerous fumes. All were armed, except the leader, who had instead a large
magnifying glass, with which he was examining Frodo's fingers, mumbling
something like: "Mmmm, interesting..."
"Hey! Who are you and what are you doing with that?" cried Frodo,
The tall fluffy-haired man laughed grimly. "I am Dr. Faramir, the
Scientist of Gondor," he said. "And what I do, I do to preserve the
might and majesty of Ye ole Gondor, and to promote the development of
science and arts of Humanism. Gaudeamus Igitur, and all that stuff. Or as
the Philosopher-King Earwag said: With each thing, ask what is its nature,
its being... Although, of course, there have been many philosophical
debates about what 'being' is. Dasein and Vorhandenheit, ens and
esse, but if I go on much longer, a lot of me will have to go in the
appendices. Personally, I find Sauron's theory of the erotics of being
fascinating, but fundamentally unsound. What do you think?"
Frodo muttered something barely audible, but Dr. Faramir blithely
continued his disquisition. "Quid-pro-quo. I don't have to ask your name,
Mr. Frodo Baggins of the Bilbohîni, since I already know about you and
the... thing you are burdened with, but I have many other questions."
"You know about his foot-fungus!?" cried Spiegel.
"You know about the One Ring of Power, which the Council of Rivendell
entrusted to me, and which Boromir tried to steal so that I had to
sta... escape from him and the Fellowship, which included Aragorn the Heir
of Isildur, the wannabe-King of both Gondor and Arnor® and the wielder
of the Broken Sword, which is now reforged and coming to Minas® Tirith
as we speak!?" cried Frodo.
"Yes," replied Faramir. "I know about the foot-fungus, since it was a
cover-story of last September's Shire Medical Journal, with some very
elaborating pictures, provided by S. Gamgee." Dr. Faramir said nothing about
Frodo's reference to Boromir, although his face had taken on a strange
expression when Frodo had uttered that name, and instead continued:
"But I must admit that I had forgotten all about the Ring of Rings, after
I had my last article concerning it published. I never thought I would get
to examine it any closer. A pretty stroke of fortune! A chance for Faramir
to win this year's Morbel Prize for Science. Ha!" He stood up and seemed to
grow larger above them as usual in these cases, and the magnifying glass in
his hand trembled with excitement. He began to sing: Some day my grant will
Hobbits looked at him with astonishment. "You and your big mouth, Sam!"
cried Frodo. "Stupid is as stupid does, Mom used to say and she was right.
Another fine mess you have gotten us into!"
"What?" cried Sam in outrage. "It was you who blabbered the whole thing
up, not me! Oh, old Gaffer used to say to me Whatever goes wrong, the Rich
will always try to pin it on the proletarians, and right enough too!
"Now look here, Doctor-sir!" he said, turning to Faramir. "Dinnae you go
punishing servants because their master is but a fool. Slice him up if you
have to, but let us go, u-heer!"
Suddenly Dr. Faramir seemed to regain control of himself and began to
laugh quietly. "Don't worry Sam. None of you has anything to fear from me.
Science may be my passion, but I still have my ethics - although I do
experiments with lab-rats, and to pay for my studies I sell drugs in
co-operation with a vile gangster known as the 'Voice', but that's another
"You sell drugs!" cried both Sam and Spiegel in unison.
"Only to Orcs and other such worthless creatures, I assure you,"
answered Dr. Faramir. "Demoralisation of the Enemy has always been a part
of the Gondorian Defence Strategy."
"But this is all wrong!" cried Spiegel, horrified. "We can't try to
demoralize the Orcs. Shouldn't we get to know them and try to be friends
with them instead? There is still good in them, I have felt it! Besides,
they're sooo sexy! One as learned as you should know better. How can you
Dr. Faramir gave them a somewhat pained look, before answering: "There
are other reasons too. As I said, the funding of all science has faced some
serious budget-cuts, and when the 'Voice' came to me with a plan which would
also provide quite remarkable profits to my university, I really had no
choice but to accept. It's a bad business, and one unworthy of my rank, but
as Aruman pointed out in The Ethics of Necessity: 'When faced with an
absence of choice, choice becomes non-choice.'"
"Who is this 'Voice' that you speak of?" asked Frodo, who thought his
servants were getting a bit too impudent, while criticising the doings of
the upper classes.
"He will not tell us his name, nor permit it to be spelt or spoken,"
said Dr. Faramir. "But his singing fills us all with dread. At first I
thought he was another friend of sciences, but lately I've begun to have
doubts about his motives and purposes..."
Dr. Faramir looked thoughtfully into the distance. "You have given me
a lot to think of, you strange wanderers from a distant country," he
continued. "This encounter may yet be proven useful for both of us, for I
know much about the Rings effects on psyche, and may be able to help you,
Frodo. But not now. We have business in hand. For your own safety and mine,
I will leave two guards to guard you. You also need these face-masks if you
want to avoid another hallucinatory episode. We will talk more when I
return. If I return, that is - but I feel that I know now what I must do."
"Break a leg!" wished Sam and waved his hand.
The Hobbits sat down again, and watched the two men on guard settling
close by. Speaking in pig-latin they discussed briefly what had become
of Gulible, but found no answer to that. After a while Sam spoke to the
guards, wanting to find out if they could be recruited to the cause of
Revolution; but they were slow and intellectually beyond such great visions.
They named themselves Blacklung and Ramrod, members of Gondor's National
Guard, and this crud was not what they had enlisted for.
"We don't usually come this far on the East-side," said Blacklung.
"Business has been slow ever since the Enemy took control of the bridgehead
in Disgiliath, and brought his accursed customs officials there. Today's
transaction is the biggest one the 'Voice' has managed to set up since then,
but to make that happen we had to let some Southrons from South Central to
get in on the deal. Curse them!"
"Yeah, curse the Southrons!" said Ramrod. "'Tis said that in days of yore
there were dealings with Harad, who provided labor for our sweatshops; but
there was never friendship. And now the drug-lords of South Central are
trying to get a piece of the action from our dealings to Mordor and eat
away our profits. Alas! Such are these days that a white man can't even sell
his own dope from his own backyard, without the help of some racially
inferior people. If only the King would return..."
"Aye!" said Blacklung. "But I wonder what the Doc is planning to do. He
looked like he had something in mind, I think. It sometimes seems he doesn't
have the kohones for this business, it sure does. But if he tries to
double-cross the 'Voice', there will be Udun to pay for us all."
After this there silence for a while, apart from the Ramrod's boombox;
and the hobbits, finding the men's company incredibly boring, dozed off a
bit, before they were suddenly awakened by a sound like one of Gandalf's
fireworks gone wrong. They heard yells of "Duck!" and "Run for cover!" and
"I ain't going back to jail!" A long, cinematic fight scene took place. The
air was full of bullets and loud coprologies. Suddenly a man fell face down
right over the edge of the coca plants that served as their hiding-place. He
wore cut-off jeans and a T-shirt, the back of which was bewritten Sauron
Roolz, and he looked swarthy and racially stigmatized. His brown hand still
held a rusty water-pistol. It was Sam's first sight of war between Men and
Men, and he found it a nasty consequence of the deep structures of
inequality. He was glad he could not see the man's face. He wondered if he
was really evil at heart, or just a victim of societal exploitation or the
product of a broken home, whether the presence of a positive male role-model
would have enabled him to avoid this fate -- all in a flash of thought that
was suddenly driven from his mind, when a loud noise broke out almost next
"Drive-by! Drive-by!" cried Ramrod. "May the Force or Valar or whatever
turn him aside! Khaddy! Khaddy!"
To his amazement and dread, and everlasting joy, Sam saw an enormous shape
come charging through the hashish groves. As big as a house, much bigger
than a house he seemed to Sam's astonished eyes, and noxious fumes gushed
forth from the hind portions of his anatomy. Fear and amazement, perhaps,
made him appear larger to Sam than he really was; but the Khadillak of South
Central was indeed a car of great bulk, and such of his descendants as live
on in these latter days are but a shadow of his girth and majesty. It is
possible that the effects of the dope had not yet worn off, or perhaps
bedazzlement had confounded Sam's vision; but he could have sworn that the
monster's feet looked a lot like wheels. But he had little time to get a
closer look, for in the driver's seat a man, who looked strangely familiar,
was bombarding the countryside with an AK-47. Sam hit the dirt as the
bullets ricocheted all around him; and within a moment the great beast was
lost to view, still trumpeting his horns far away.
Sam gave a deep breath. "It was an Oliphaunt," he said. "So Oliphaunts
exist, and I have seen one. What a life! But no one at home will believe
me, until the Revolution raises their consciousness. Well, now I'm going to
try to sleep off the effect of those cursed poppies. Don't wake me up!"
Blacklung laughed sarcastically. "Don't you halfwits ever do anything but
"Not really," muttered Frodo, waking up for a split-second before
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