Playlist Navigation Bar
Across the Waters: 4. Tears
“Want some water? You must be awfully thirsty!” The orc’s voice was mocking and far too gleeful to hold any genuinely charitable intent. Yet Frodo was too worn and thirsty to ponder the orc’s motives. His mouth and throat burned with the liquor they had forced on him. He thought of clear water and almost trembled with need.
“Yes,” he answered, and his voice was so weak he could barely hear it himself.
“What’s that? What? I can’t hear you! Speak up for yourself!”
“Yes…I said…” Frodo paused and cleared his throat, and forced himself to speak louder, though it sent splinters of pain through his raw throat. “I said, yes.”
Frodo’s mind spun. What does he mean? What does he want me to say? He raised his head and looked up at the orc with terrible confusion. He tried to focus his vision and his mind, yet neither would clear. “What?” he asked, and suddenly thought, almost hysterically, Please? Does he want me to say…please?
“What do you want?” the orc asked cheerfully. “You said ‘yes,’ then I said ‘yes what?’ and then you said, ‘what?’ and now I don’t know what you want!”
The orc grinned at him and shook the jug by his side. The liquid inside it made a cool, splashing sound and Frodo almost wept to hear it. He cleared his throat again and said, “Water.” And then he added desperately, “Please.”
“Oh, well, since you said ‘please’ and all. Here you go!”
The orc pulled Frodo’s head back by the hair and set the jug to his lips, and even before Frodo tasted it, he smelled it, the same fiery alcohol they had already given him. He tried to twist his head away but could not, and swallowed a great scorching draught of it. Tears came instantly to his eyes and he began to cough. The orc roared with laughter as Frodo bent over his knees and vomited.
“That’s a bloody waste, if you ask me. Suit yourself!” He turned and disappeared through the trapdoor, and Frodo could hear him laughing all the way down the ladder.
Frodo cradled his forehead in his hands and retched until his temples throbbed. When the nausea subsided, he placed his palms on the floor and pushed himself away from what he had vomited. His bare back found the stone wall and he leaned against it, exhausted. He wiped the back of his hand against his mouth, and his hand shook like a dry leaf in the wind.
He clamped his hands under his arms and attempted to calm himself. But he could find no hopeful or comforting thought to grant him even a little peace. He had recovered enough from the spider’s poison to reconstruct the events that had brought him here. His lack of judgment had led him to trust Gollum, and so had caused their betrayal. His foolhardy actions in the monster’s lair had separated him from Sam at the worst moment, giving the spider a chance to attack him, while Sam was beset by some other atrocity. Surely, Sam must be dead, or imprisoned or in the spider’s foul den. And through no fault or failing of his own. Sam’s only failure was in trusting me, Frodo thought. He said he’d follow me to the Moon, but I brought him to a much darker place. All my choices have proved ill, from the very beginning.
Now his stupidity would cause evil to rain down on all of Middle-earth, on every living creature in it. The Ring was gone. And It had not been wrested from him after torment or captivity. He had delivered It to Sauron’s very door, with no excuse for his failure other than his own endless chain of foolish choices.
Frodo drew his knees up to his chest and laid his head on them. He knew he would be tortured and feared it terribly. He could barely breathe from the dread of it. Yet what could be more fitting, than that he should suffer for years in these dungeons? I have murdered my dearest friend, who loved and trusted me. I have unleashed ruin upon the world. I deserve whatever they do to me. I deserve it a hundred times over.
He put his arms over his head and wept.
Playlist Navigation Bar