„ Nice crispy bacon, I’d give anything for that now...” Sam was really grumpy. Three days had passed since the Fellowship had left The Last Homely House. Three cold nights they had been walking through a rough barren country, chilled to the bones by the cruel east wind. The young Hobbit was not used to continuing physical exertion. Of course gardening was sometimes hard work too. Those dandelion roots were mighty hard to get out of firm soil and among his chores was also to chop the firewood. But incessant walking was a downright different matter. Even the journey to Rivendell had been not as bad as this was. Or maybe he only felt it had been different. Everything seemed different then. He thought they’d go back home once Mr. Frodo had recovered. But then his master had accepted to take the ring to the land they called Mordor. It had been clear as daylight that he’d follow Frodo everywhere. But to be true, Sam hadn’t given much thought on what that would imply for him. Moreover it seemed a long way off yet, since they were sending out messengers first. The past two months at Rivendell had passed away in peace and bliss and no thought of what was going to happen marred that joy yet.
But here he was, cold, hungry and sore. Bill the pony whinnied and prodded his shoulder.
“I know, my lad, I know. But I don’t have a goodie for you in my pocket right now, they’re in the bags on your back and we can’t stop now. Strider says we mustn’t.” Sam sighed.
“Aragorn, please stop, I seem to have lost my knife !” Sam turned around and looked at Legolas who went right behind him. What was that ? He wasn’t sure if his eyes cheated him, it was quite dark, but it seemed as if the elf winked at him before he bent to the ground as if he was looking for something. “ Legolas, we can’t stop for long, please hurry. If you don’t find it soon we have to move on” cried Aragorn. Sam jumped at the opportunity and went to retrieve a goodie for Bill from the saddle bag. He offered it to Bill on his outstretched hand. The pony thanked him with a soft snort. “Don’t thank me. I guess you have to thank the elf for giving us that break”. “ Ah, here it is, I’ve found it, we can go on !” shouted Legolas that same moment. Sam looked into his face. Now there was no mistake : the elf smiled at him.

Sam had seen many elves at Rivendell, more than he’d ever thought he would see in his entire life. But somehow he had stopped thinking about them while he was there. The time he and his friends had passed at Lord Elrond’s home seemed kind of unreal. Like a dream that did not fade away when you woke up. Besides he was just a visitor there and he had spent his time rather with Mr. Frodo, Pippin and Merry and old Mr. Bilbo of course than with the elves. The thought to associate with elves seemed completely ridiculous to him. They were Big Folk. Magical Big Folk at that. But now here he was, a member of the Company who set out to change things for the better and other than his friends, Strider, another man and a dwarf there was an elf. He hadn’t thought much about that before, but he did now.
Legolas seemed to be rather young, but Sam knew that “young” was relative when it came to the age of elves. He could well be several hundreds or even thousands of years old without looking it. The idea made Sam dizzy. In a way this Legolas was different than most of the other elves Sam had met so far. He was.....what was it ? Less lofty ? Yes, maybe. He seemed to be more of a fellow to actually tackle things than the elves of Elrond’s household.
But still Sam was in awe with Legolas. He admired the grace of his movements. Hobbits could walk without being heard but that elf didn’t even seem to touch the ground with his feet at all. Had elves learn to move that way or were they born with that grace ? Sam tried to imitate Legolas’ way of walking. Step out wide, tiptoe down first, no, again, less heavy.
“What are you doing, Sam ? Is there something wrong with your legs ?” Sam had been trying elven walking so hard, he didn’t notice Merry was watching him. “ I’m allright…” he blushed a deep purple red and scolded himself silently for being such a fool. Hopefully Legolas hasn’t noticed too what he was doing ! He glanced back over his shoulder but obviously the elf was looking elsewhere. “They have keener eyes than everybody else” Sam went on thinking about Legolas, “ very much like cats I suppose...”
Slowly a new day dawned and went on but there was no real light. It was grey and cloudy like the days before. “Wonder if there’s a sun at all in that country or naught but that icy wind” Sam moaned. As they reached a hollow Gandalf signaled the Company to stop.
“ We will rest here for the remains of the day and move on by nightfall.” the old grey wizard said. Merry and Pippin slumped down on the very spot they stood on and Frodo looked so miserable it gave Sam a pang in his heart. He opened one of the bags and provided what food he could find that was eatable without getting boiled or roasted. Gandalf wouldn’t let them light a fire because he was afraid of spies. Some dried meat and dried fruits and some of those sweet apples the Hobbits had cherished so much at Rivendell. For a fleeting moment the image of crispy bacon and eggs arose in Sam’s mind again but he erased it resolutely.
The Company sat down and ate silently. They were all too tired to talk. All that could be heard was the sound of chewing and swallowing of men, dwarf, hobbits and elf as well as from Bill who had his nose in a bag of hay. Usually Hobbits never were silent when they were eating. To take a meal was a social event and to consume food without giving it praise would have been considered very ill-mannered among them. “ Master Samwise, will you give me another apple ? They are the best apples I have ever tasted. Not even in my woodland realm do they grow apples as sweet and juicy as those.” Sam looked at Legolas who was smiliing at him – again. Was that elf able to read his mind ? Sam was so bemused he completely forgot to give Legolas what he had asked for until the latter said : “…or do you Halflings want to keep them all to yourselves ? You’ve been pillaging the stocks in the cellars of Rivendell to a great deal already as far as I’ve been told.” “ We left enough for your kin !” Pippin said somewhat offended, “ we just had one, or two…well, maybe three a day.” “ Pip, you know that’s not true; you had at least ten apples a day !“ Merry looked reproachfully at his cousin. Roaring laughter met his remark. The Company had the first cheerful meal since they set out.

Sam wondered how long their journey to that Fiery Mountain would take. He had no sense of distance or direction and all the maps Frodo had been brooding over with Gandalf meant nothing to him. But he thought that however long it would take, he’d like to get a chance to learn more about his elvish companion and maybe even become friends with him.


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