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Answering the Call: 1. Prologue
"You are lonely," Aragorn said suddenly as Frodo surveyed the Fellowship from his rocky perch to one side of the day's camp.
"It seems you can be lonely even when you are not alone," Frodo answered. Turning to his friend and leader, he said, "But I understand, Aragorn, why it is better this way."
Aragorn offered no response but gave the group his own perusal. Gimli busied himself with helping Sam prepare the meal. Legolas stood as he often did on a high rock on the outskirts of camp, using his keen sight to keep constant watch over their surroundings. Boromir paced the perimeter, his movements nervous but watchful. And Frodo's cousins pestered Gandalf with the usual barrage of questions, while the wizard gave the impression that he had finally tired of answering.
Aragorn realized then how familiar the scene before him was. Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli constantly busied themselves with cleaning their weapons, keeping watch, or other duties. The hobbits, for all their protectiveness of Frodo, drifted again and again to Gandalf's side. He could not remember, at least since entering Hollin, any of the Company spending more than passing time with Frodo, with the exception of Sam. They were keeping their distance. And Frodo knew it. Somehow, that was more dismaying to the Ranger than if the hobbit had been unaware of their shunning.
"They can all hear It, can't they?" Frodo asked, reminding Aragorn of his perceptiveness. "The voice is a constant in my ear, but I forget that It may speak to others as well." After a moment of shared silence, the hobbit asked, "Can you hear It as well?"
Eventually, Aragorn looked at him with a steely eye. "Yes, Frodo, I hear It. But I do not listen. I will not. You must believe me, Frodo."
Frodo looked at the others again and then slowly turned to Aragorn. "I believe you."
Aragorn was unsure whether he heard an emphasis on Frodo's first word.
Frodo drew the Ring out of his pocket again and looked at it. It now appeared plain and smooth, without mark or device that he could see. The gold looked very fair and pure, and Frodo thought how rich and beautiful was its colour, how perfect was its roundness. It was an admirable thing and altogether precious. When he took it out he had intended to fling it from him into the very hottest part of the fire. But he found now that he could not do so, not without a great struggle. He weighed the Ring in his hand, hesitating, and forcing himself to remember all that Gandalf had told him; and then with an effort of will he made a movement, as if to cast it away – but he found that he had put it back in his pocket.
– FotR, The Shadow of the Past
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