The Lord of the... whatever, Book IV, Chapter 1:
The Untaming Of The Shrewd
"Well, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into,"
muttered Sam, shielding his eyes with his hand as he gazed eastward
over the bleak horizon. Their wanderings in the Emyn Mail had brought
them to a steep cliff, far enough above the ground below to make
jumping out of the question.
"But, Sammy," whimpered Frodo, beginning to sob and whine and
contort his face in a generally comical manner. He doffed his bowler
and scratched his head, causing his curly hair to stand on end. Sam
crossed his arms and looked askance at Frodo, rolling his eyes for the
benefit of an imaginary audience.
But beneath his outward show of exasperation lay a tangle of
turbulent thoughts. Now you've done it, Sam Gamgee, thought Sam to
himself while Frodo sobbed on. Played your hand when the game's
barely started, and how're you going to get him back to the Shire if he
don't trust you no more? Gruffly he said to Frodo, "I'm goin' off to
think. You stay put, hear?" Through his sniffles Frodo nodded.
Sam walked back up into the hills, settling on a rock bearing
the carven inscription "El Rond was here"; from this seat he had a piss-
poor view of anything of interest, but could keep a close eye on Frodo
while remaining out of earshot so that Sam could indulge in the
obligatory introspective soliloquy which should have been Frodo's back
at the end of Part One.
"Ah, Rosie," sighed Sam, unbuttoning his shirt and laying one
calloused working-class hand tenderly upon his tattooed chest. "Ah,
Rosie, have I gone and mucked up the Revolution before it's a-begun?
It felt good, so good, to give it to him straight, but the feeling
don't last, and what's left? He don't trust me no more, Rosie, and
that won't do, not at all. If he don't trust me, all our plans are for
Sam gazed thoughtfully, surprisingly thoughtfully for a working-
class hero, over the land before him, bleak and barren save for the
occasional neon-lit oasis. "I know, Rosie. I know, I've known all
along, what I ought to do." His gaze settled on Frodo's forlorn
figure, hunched at cliff's edge. He's still bawling, the git. Sam
gave a snort, then sobered again as the magnitude of his mission
reasserted itself in his inner vision.
"Ahhh," he sighed. "I know what I ought to do. But I am
afraid, Rosie. Simply afraid. And if I do it, go through with it, do
the deed that must be done, will you think me any less a Hobbit?" Sam
rested his plump chin in his plump palm and pondered.
Then, unbidden, it was as if a veil parted, revealing a
Vision: Rosie, riveting Rosie, bearing aloft the Standard of
Revolution! Revolution! And surrounding Rosie the masses, the
Workers, oppressed no more! And from the crowd arose the chant: For
the Shire! For the Shire! And suddenly Sam knew what he had to do,
and how trivial were his petty parochial concerns about his Hobbithood,
compared to the Great and Glorious Cause of Liberating the Shire.
"For the Shire!" exclaimed Sam, leaping to his feet, and very
nearly ran right down the hill and took Frodo then and there, but
fortunately the Great Vision vanished and Sam came to his senses,
realizing that he still had a hell of a lot of explaining and bridge-
mending to do first. So he crept down quietly, on his quiet Hobbit
feet, to return, as a good servant, to his (gag - choke - barf)
And damned if the silly git wasn't still crying and whining.
"I feared it was so. I feared it was so," whimpered Frodo
between gut-wrenching sobs.
"Here, come now, Mr. Frodo," murmured Sam in his most
soothingly subordinate tone. "It's not so bad as all that."
Frodo gulped and looked up, blinking in bewilderment at
Sam. "S-Sam?" he hiccupped. "Your-your accent--?"
"Oh, that," laughed Sam with a good-natured and not-at-all-
threatening working-class laugh. "D'ya like it? Learned it at a
workshop for the Shire Thespians Local 286."
"Why, Sam," said Frodo, astonished. "I had no idea you were a
Thespian--not that there's anything wrong with that."
"Oh, there's lots of things you don't know about me, and that's
a fact," replied Sam cheerfully. "But we'll have plenty of time to get
to know each other a lot better on this journey--least I hope so."
Now Frodo was utterly amazed, all tears forgotten. "Then
you're not angry with me any more? But what about all of that, back by
"Oh, you know me and boats, Mr. Frodo," Sam jovially
responded. "My therapist told me my PTSD was under control, but looks
like I've still got me some issues to work through when I get back
home, don't it?"
Frodo laughed. "Well, all right, Sam. I haven't the least
idea what this 'PTSD' is, but from what I saw of it I hope it isn't
catching. Not something I should wish to contract." He shuddered.
"Well, come along, then," Sam said, giving Frodo a hearty
heterosexual clap on the shoulder. "Let's find a way out of these
hills. But how's this, sir? We'll use our nimble Hobbit feet and
clever Hobbit hands to climb our way down."
"All right, Sam," agreed Frodo. "You first, then."
"Oh, no, sir, I couldn't think of it. You're the master, sir,
and I wouldn't be robbing you of your place of primacy."
Frodo raised his eyebrows, then nodded. "Very good, Sam. I'll
lead the way." Frodo lay flat upon the ground. Just as he had lowered
himself over the edge and begun to creep cautiously along the cliff's
face, Frodo heard a terrifying shriek. Instinctively he looked up, and
his blood ran cold: A giant red-and-black LED banner scrolled across
the sky, proclaiming over and over:
NAZDAQ DE-LIST SHARKEY ENTERPRISES.
"Ahhh!" cried Frodo, losing his grip; and all would have been
grim for him, indeed, had not Sam swiftly reached down with his clever
Hobbit hands and grasped Frodo, hauling him back up to safety.
"There, there, now," soothed Sam, comforting Frodo with his
arms and body. "All's well as ends well, as my Gaffer would say."
"Oh, Saaaam!" wailed Frodo, sobbing bitterly into Sam's
chest. "Better if you had let me fall."
"Don't be saying that, Mr. Frodo. You don't mean that, and
that's a fact."
"I do mean it, and that's a fact," cried Frodo. "I am
cursed, Sam, cursed in every way. Unlucky in life, unlucky in love--"
"Here, now, you've had a few setbacks in the market, is all,"
Sam consoled him. "As for love, why, we'll find a way out of here and
back to Rivendell, and that's a fact."
But Frodo remained inconsolable; indeed, at Sam's words he grew
even more gloomy, and fell strangely silent. Sam tipped his head to
look at Frodo with concern. "Mr. Frodo?" he said uncertainly. Frodo
said nothing, gazing morosely past Sam's chest at the desolate,
cheerless land in which they had been stranded. Speaking in his most
ingratiatingly obsequious manner, which never failed to lift Frodo's
spirits, Sam repeated, "Mr. Frodo, sir, just think of all the lovely
lasses thinking fondly of you back at..." but his voice faded as
Frodo's countenance grew all the more despondent. Then Sam understood.
"You faked it?"
Glumly Frodo nodded.
"But, but the Lady Arwen, sir," said Sam, confused. "You
weren't faking when you saw her, and that's a fact. I saw it with my
own eyes, I did, and that's--"
"The Lady Arwen was dressed all in leather and armor, and
wielding mighty weaponry, Sam," Frodo miserably interrupted. "Had she
been decorated in the traditional accoutrements of stereotypical
femininity, sitting sweetly at home sewing flags while the menfolk did
all the deeds of valor in the world, I should not have felt so much as
"Oh." Sam frowned, pondering this new twist.
"I am doomed, Sam, doomed to wander without a place in an
oppressive and heterocentric world, and it would be better for you not
to be burdened with me."
"Oh, Mr. Frodo, that's hard," protested Sam. Suddenly he
gasped and drew back, staring at Frodo. "Mr. Frodo, that's hard," he
repeated wonderingly. "Why, I never did feel no noodle like that, and
that's a fact! A pity we haven't a lass at hand. Perhaps we might
chance upon one, yet, if we ever--"
But sadly, ruefully, Frodo shook his head. "Sam, dear Sam," he
said, his voice laden with an existential anguish far beyond his
years. "Don't you understand? I don't WANT a lass."
Now Sam was thoroughly confused. "You don't...?" But then,
suddenly, it seemed to him that Frodo's face shone softly as if lit
from within, and all was illuminated for Sam: He loves me. He's like
that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But he loves me,
whether or no.
Then Sam realized that the illumination was coming from a
lantern hovering above his own head. "All right, I take your meaning,"
Sam said to the lantern, and it obligingly disappeared. This is
turning out better than I dared hope, thought Sam. He looked back to
Frodo, who was now gazing disconsolately over the barren
landscape. "Mr. Frodo, sir?"
Frodo turned doleful eyes upon Sam. "Yes, Sam?"
"Are--are you wearing your Ring, sir?"
At this Frodo suddenly laughed. "Dear, simple Sam! Do I
look like I'm wearing my Ring, you working-class ass?"
Sam blushed, and let his gaze drop before Frodo could see the
smoldering fires of revolutionary rage glowing therein. "Well, no,
sir, no you don't, Mr. Frodo, sir. It's just that--" Steeling
himself, Sam thought, For the Shire! and looked squarely at
Frodo. "It's just that I suddenly find myself wanting to kiss you,
and, well, I thought maybe--"
Frodo's mouth fell open in surprise, then spread into a broad,
delighted smile. "Well, then," he said coyly, "kiss me, Sam."
Sam leaned closer to Frodo, then pulled back. "Are you sure
it's proper, sir?"
"What? Two men together, you mean?"
"No, sir. I mean, is it proper for a mere servant-boy to be so
familiar with one of his betters."
"Oh, Sam," sighed Frodo, wrapping his arms around Sam, "you do
say the cutest things."
And so began the greatest Romance in all the History of Middle-
earth. The full Tale, all told, would require a dozen Volumes to
wholly tell; suffice it here to say that the world had never before
seen a Romance so Epic, so Magnificent, so Moving and Tender, so Star-
crossed and Riddled with Controversy, nor shall the world ever again
know its Like. Long after all other Romances have been recycled into
shipping cartons, long after those who would have shelved this story
deep in the Oxford Closet have been likewise recycled, the Romance of
Frodo and Sam will live on, in time and in memory.
Many days wandered Frodo and Sam, ostensibly in search of a way
out of the Emyn Mail, but they weren't exactly hurrying about it, to
say the least.
Frodo looked up from Sam's fingers, which, like his own, were
now perpetually saturated and as wrinkled as prunes. "Frodo."
"What's that, sir?"
"I think, Sam, dearest, given the degree of affection which we
are now showing to one another, that you no longer need address me as
your master--unless that turns you on?"
"No," Sam answered decisively. "No, sir, it doesn't."
"And drop the 'sir.'"
Sam gave Frodo his most winsomely proletarian smile. "Yes,
"Hmmm." Frodo rolled onto his back and smiled dreamily at the
clouds. "How about, 'Yes, Frodo, my most beloved and only love of my
heart and body.'"
Sam rolled his eyes and cast a surreptitious glance, laden with
dark and revolutionary portents, toward the oblivious and love-besotted
Frodo before reassuming the mask of cheerful and subordinate
stupidity. "How about we shorten that to 'Frodo, love,' and waste less
time talking, if you take my meaning."
Frodo beamed at Sam. "I take your meaning, Sam, love--and your
everything else," he crooned. Sam affected a tender countenance and
took Frodo yet again into his arms. Think of the Shire, he told
himself, and distracted himself from the duty at hand by filling his
mind with patriotic thoughts of Rosie the Red and the awaiting
"Yes, Frodo, love?"
Frodo drummed his fingertips lightly upon Sam's very masculine
chest. "What's this about, then?"
Aw, shit, think fast, think fast, Sam. "Well. Uh. Why,
it's--it's a Tradition, sir--love, Frodo, love--in the Gardener's
"The Gardener's Guild." One eyebrow rose.
"Why, yes. Frodo. Y'see, upon being received into the Guild,
it's custom for each member to get a tattoo of his most fav'ritest
flower upon his chest. And, well, I, as you can see, I like, ah,
roses. Beautiful flowers, sir--love. Beautiful."
To Sam's great relief Frodo accepted the explanation. "Well,
Sam, I must say I had no idea we had so many Guilds and Locals and such
in our very own Shire. You know how I disapprove of Organized Labor."
"Oh, yes, that I do," answered Sam, pouring a load of subtext
into every word. But Frodo's attention had returned to the tattoo.
"Hmm." With one finger Frodo slowly outlined the word "Rose"
beneath the flower. "It shouldn't be at all difficult to change this
to read 'Frodo.' Then," he smiled winsomely at Sam, "I'll always be
near your heart."
Mustering a performance worthy of an Odogar (the Shire
Thespians Union's most prestigious award), Sam crooned, "You already
are, Frodo, love," and braced himself for another round of sweet
"Yes, Sam, love."
"Don't take me wrong, now, but as delightful as these days have
been, I'm thinking we'd better get to Mordor and get the job done, so
you have a proper estate, again."
"Oh." Frodo considered, then nodded. "You're right, Sam,
love. Now that I have you, I've no further use for that silly Ring."
He raised himself from the ground, stood straight, and clasped his
hands together, rubbing them briskly. "Well! How shall we ever find
our way out of these hills?" Frodo's eyes darted about this way and
that and he set his jaw, looking very grim and intent with the urgency
of his Quest.
"Well, Frodo, love," ventured Sam. "I'm thinking we might take
that path, there." Sam pointed to a wide, gently graded blacktop path
that descended toward the plains.
"Well!" said Frodo, pleased. "I think I will trust to your
judgment, Sam, love. The path it is." They gathered their supplies,
strapped their packs onto their packs, and began the long but not
terribly taxing descent to the plains below, stopping at a log cabin
about midpoint to refresh themselves and pick up a few maps and
"The Dread Marshes," read Frodo from one such pamphlet as he
and Sam walked along hand in hand. "Oh, Sam, love, it sounds
fascinating! Is it on our way?"
Sam took a look. "Seems to be," he said. "I guess we can have
a look about, see the sights. But damned if I didn't forget to bring
my camera! If my Gaffer could see me now, he'd be saying, 'Sam, you
ninnyhammer, didn't I tell you to always bring a camera wherever you
go, because sure as you don't, that'll be when you'll be wanting one.'"
"Well, Sam, love, there's no use calling yourself all the hard
names your abusive father berated you with," soothed Frodo. "Besides,
I bought a camera at the rest stop while you were busy admiring the
"Did you?" Sam brightened. "Good. Good. That'll come in
handy," he added under his breath, smiling to himself. "Yes, indeed,
They sauntered on down the path. Sam cast a wistful glance
back over his shoulder, suddenly finding himself wishing he hadn't been
so quick to leave the Emyn Mail.
"There was LOVE! All AROUND! But I never HEARD it singing!
No, I never heard it at all, till there was YOU!"
Sam looked over at Frodo with mild annoyance, but not without
affection: and it struck him that despite his lofty intentions of
socially redeeming revolutionary value he had gone and gratuitously
fallen in love with Frodo. Well if that don't throw a spanner in the
"And there was MUSIC! And there were won-der-ful ROSES!"
Rose. Ah, she wouldn't be none too happy with him, she
wouldn't, and he didn't think she'd go for settling down as a happy
little threesome. But it was a long way back to the Shire; Sam
shrugged and put Rose out of his mind, determined to enjoy the moment
while it lasted.
"Till there was YOOOOUUU!!!"
Easier said than done. "Ah, Frodo, love, it might not be a
good idea to be singing at the top of your lungs in a strange country.
You never know what sort of riff-raff it might attract."
Just then a small, pale, androgynous creature stepped out from
behind a boulder. "Hobbitses," it hissed lasciviously. "Hobbit-
MENNNS. We likes, my Preciousss, we doesss."
"Exhibit A," muttered Sam.
The creature paid him no heed. "Tricksy, tricksy Elf-wimmins,"
it rambled on. "Tricksy Elveses. Tricksy Belden. No mystery here, my
Precious. Tricksy! Promises us a feast of mens and then kicks us
where it hurtses, nasty, nasty Elveses, never trust, never trust. But
we don't need Elveses now, my Precious, now we has Hobbit-mens all to
ourselves. Oh, yes, we doesss--"
"Oh, no, we doesn't," snapped Sam, tightening his grip on
Frodo's hand as he attempted to push his way past the creature.
But Frodo halted. "Sam, wait. I do believe he's that Gulible
"I'm not a he!" shrieked the creature. "I'm a she!"
"What?" exclaimed Frodo and Sam in unison.
"I'm a she," repeated Gulible.
"But I'm told you're a he," argued Sam.
"And I'm told he's a virgin," countered Gulible, jabbing a
scrawny thumb towards Frodo. "But that's not what I sees, oh, no, my
Preciouss, not at all--"
"And just how long have you been spying on us?" demanded Sam,
blushing a fierce shade of red.
"Well, he may be a she," Frodo quickly interjected, tugging at
Sam's arm. "What I'm told is never for certain."
"Well, whatever it is," grunted Sam, eyeing Gulible with
suspicion, "the sooner we're away from it, the better."
"No, no!" cried Gulible. "Nice Hobbitses! Cute Hobbitses!
Sweet, sexy Hobbitses! Nice Hobbit-mens take Spiegel with you!"
"Spiegel?" exclaimed Frodo and Sam, exchanging looks of
"Spiegel is me, and me is Spiegel," declared the
creature. "Spiegel, called Gulible because I once believed mens can
change. Silly, silly Spiegel! Bad, wicked, naughty mens, writing
storieses to please only themselves, storieses of buxom benippled
wenches and frat-boy lusts, but nothing, nothing for poor Spiegel! No
lusting after mens, oh, no, not allowed, not allowed! But the
Revolution is coming, my Precious, yes it is, when the Sisterhood shall
be powerful and the wimmins shall be gratified, and the mens shall not
stop us, not the Hobbit-mens nor the Men-mens shall stop us now, and we
shall overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome someday! Now, now
Spiegel knows, yesss, my Preciouss, she does, she knows mens are good
for only one thing, and when she gets the Precious back for her very
own, the Hobbit-mens and the Men-mens will give her all she wants, oh,
yes, they will. Oh, Precioussss! The Blessed Precioussss! Oh, the
"What an eccentric performance," muttered Frodo. "Still, she
seems to be mostly harmless." Interrupting Spiegel's catalog of
grievances, he said aloud: "All right, Spiegel, you may come along
with us--but no more watching Sam and I when we're together."
"Oh, no, of course not, no watching," said Spiegel, not very
"Swear it," growled Sam, flicking a switchblade.
"Spiegel swears it! Spiegel swears it! Spiegel be very good."
Frodo nodded, satisfied. "Well, that's that. Come along, Sam,
love, and you, Spiegel."
Spiegel trotted along agreeably after Frodo and Sam. Sam put
the knife away, but briefly pulled Spiegel aside to mutter sotto
voce, "If you're really good, maybe I'll let you take some
pictures." Spiegel looked up at him with a libidinous gleam in her
eye. "Oh, for that, Spiegel be very good, indeed," she hissed, and
in the meeting of their eyes was the meeting of two revolutionary and
This chapter of this epic work is presented through the courtesy of
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Copyright © 2000 by the author. All rights reserved. Some variance between this
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is to be preferred.
Confused about sexual identity? You can write to Spiegel's advice column c/o this newspaper.