The Tragedie of Frodo Baggins
Presented through the kindness of Mr. Todd Jensen <email@example.com>, this excerpt from William Shakespeare's lost play The Tragedie of Frodo Baggins was originally published in Beyond Bree in February 1998. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of Mr. Jensen.
Act Three, Scene Thirteen. Before Isengard.
Enter SARUMAN, the CHIEFTAIN OF THE DUNLENDINGS, and the ORC-GENERAL.
Saruman. What news from the Fords of Isen?
Dunlending. Good tidings, master.
The Forgoil are broken, and have lost many men.
Saruman. Glad tidings, in truth!
Before Arda is a fortnight older,
Théoden will be dispatched to Mandos!
Orc-general. King Théoden's son, Prince Théodred,
Is either slain or wounded dangerous;
I cleft his beaver with a downright blow.
That this is true, master, behold his blood.
Saruman. A sight most gladsome to my eyes.
But is he truly dead, Théoden's son?
Dunlending. Such hope have all the line of Eorl the Young!
Saruman. This bodes well for my hopes of conquest.
But a plague on that villain Uglúk
That thus delays my promised prize
Of captive halflings, taken close by Amon Hen!
One may posess the Token that I need
To topple Sauron from his throne
And take upon myself the rule of Middle-earth
To bring the order that I alone may provide
And I am louted by a traitor villain!
If he miscarry, farewell wars in Mordor!
Dunlending. Sire, by your leave, shall we depart
And finish the task which we began?
Saruman. Ah, yes. The downfall of Rohan.
Depart you at once, and return not
Until Edoras is consumed with your fires.
His oration to his Army.
What shall I say more than I have inferr'd?
Remember whom you are to cope withal:
A sort of vagabonds, rascals, and runaways,
A scum of Northmen and base lackey peasants,
Whom their o'ercloyed country vomits forth
To desperate adventures and assur'd destruction.
You had lands, and were blessed with beauteous wives;
They did restrain the one, disdain the other.
Fie, fie! What is the House of Eorl, in truth,
But a thatched barn, where brigands drink,
And their brats roll on the floor among the dogs?
Thieves sent for to steal what was your own,
Hirelings of the Stewards of decaying Gondor,
That routed your fathers from the green fields
Which now their horses trample as they will!
Shall they enjoy your lands? Lie with your wives?
Ravish your daughters? Oh, they are cruel.
They'll cut the throats of all those that they take
Or set them ablaze, as living bonfires.
Fight, gentlemen of Dunland! Fight, bold hillmen!
Draw, archers, draw your arrows to the head!
Upon them! Victory sits on your helms!
Exit the CHIEFTAIN OF THE DUNLENDINGS and the ORC-GENERAL. Alarums and
excursions. The army of Isengard passeth over the stage. Manet SARUMAN.
Saruman. Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot.
Take thou what course thou wilt!
Enter a MESSENGER.
How now, fellow?
1st Messenger. Sir, Gandalf is already come to Edoras.
Saruman. In thy foul throat thou liest! My Orcish spies saw
The Grey Fool and Durin's Bane fall alike
Into the abyss of Khazad-dûm, from which
None have ever returned. He is dead.
1st Messenger. Nonetheless, he liveth.
Now he is clad all in white, not in grey.
To Edoras he came, and there undid
All the subtle trains of your servant Gríma.
Théoden has roused himself, is arming!
Wormtongue is fled, no man knows where.
Saruman. No more, you knave! Or else I'll throw you to the wolves!
Begone, and trouble not my sight!
1st Messenger (aside). Were I from Isengard away and clear,
Profit again should hardly draw me here.
Enter a second MESSENGER.
2nd Messenger. My lord, view these letters full of bad mischance.
Théoden doth lead the Rohirrim towards Isen e'en now,
His sister-son Lord Éomer in his company.
Gandalf the White is with them join'd;
Aragorn, Isildur's Heir, doth take their part;
Legolas and Gimli fly to their side.
Saruman. O cursed fortune! What worse can befall?
Enter a third MESSENGER.
3rd Messenger. My gracious lord, to add to your laments,
I must inform you of a dismal fight
Betwixt the stout Captain Uglúk and the Rohirrim.
Saruman. What? Wherein Uglúk overcame, is't so?
3rd Messenger. O no; wherein Captain Uglúk was o'erthrown;
The circumstance I'll tell you more at large.
The twenty-ninth of February last this dreadful uruk
Leading his war-band and their captives to your hold,
Was set upon outside Fangorn Forest by Lord Éomer
And the Riders of Rohan under his command.
All were slain, down to the smallest and least Orc.
Prince Éomer himself alighted from his horse
To cross swords alone with the great Uglúk
Nor ever shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
But unseamed him from the nave of his chops
And fixed his head upon the battlements.
Saruman. And the prisoners? What of them?
3rd Messenger. Taken or slain; I know not which.
And all that they bore is gone with them too.
Saruman. Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect,
Whole as the marble, founded as the rock,
As broad and general as the casing air;
But now I am cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd, bound in
To saucy doubts and fears. The Ring is gone.
And I know not where it doth lie now.
Enter a fourth MESSENGER.
4th Messenger. My lord, the army of Lord Erkenbrand -
Saruman. Out on you, owls! Nothing but songs of death?
He striketh him.
There, take thou that, till thou bring better news.
4th Messenger. The news that I have to tell you, sire,
Is that the army of Lord Erkenbrand of Westfold
Was overcome at the Fords of Isen by your hill-men and Orcs.
Most of his command are scattered or slain,
While he flieth to Helm's Deep.
Saruman. I cry thee mercy;
There is my purse to cure that blow of thine.
Enter a fifth MESSENGER.
Thou comest to use thy tongue.
Thy story quickly.
5th Messenger. Gracious my lord,
I should report that which I say I saw,
But know not how to do it.
Saruman. Well, say, sir.
5th Messenger. As I did stand my watch upon the hill,
I look'd toward Fangorn, and anon methought
The wood began to move.
Saruman. Liar and slave!
5th Messenger. Let me endure your wrath, if it not be so.
Within this three mile may you see it coming;
I say, a moving grove.
Saruman. If thou speakest false,
Upon the next tree shall thou hang alive
(Were it not that my Orcs have felled
All the trees within Nan Curunír already)
Till famine cling thee; if thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I had quite forgot Treebeard and his folk,
But now they come upon me, roused at last.
Alas, I am not coop'd here for defense
With well-nigh all my men and orcs away,
Yet have I some measures left, sulfurous flames
And devices of my alchemy, sufficient -
I hope - to consume these Ents and Huorns
Before they lay proud Isengard on a heap.
I must within now, before they seize upon me.
Remarkable. Historically accurate in two completely different histories!