Today's Date in the Shire
Fun and Games
Walk to Rivendell
Malbeth the Seer
The Passage of the Marshes
Gollum leads Frodo and Sam to a narrow gully which they follow to the reeking marshes. Along the way, Gollum is delighted to splash in the water running at the bottom of the gully bed. He croaks a sort of song that ends in his old riddle about fish, which he remembers Bilbo Baggins guessing long ago. Sam wonders how (and what) Gollum would eat on their journey.
The three of them settle down to rest through the day, since Gollum fears the Sun, the hobbits are tired, and it only makes sense to travel by night to avoid being seen. Sam and Frodo share their water, and try to share a wafer of lembas, the waybread of the elves of Lothlorien. Gollum is unable to eat the delicious wafer, to him it tastes like "dust and ashes." He cannot abide anything elvish.
Sam tries to keep watch for a couple of hours as Frodo and Gollum sleep. He resists the temptations of sword and rope, though he thinks that Gollum would certainly kill him if their places were reversed. Sam wakes nine or more hours later to discover that he himself has fallen asleep and that Gollum is gone from sight. He reproaches himself, but realizes that neither he nor Frodo were throttled in their sleep.
Gollum is nearby, as it turns out, but leaves briefly to find something to eat. Sam asks Frodo how much longer the road is, if three weeks short rations of lembas will be enough to do the job, and what they will do after the job is done. Frodo tells his dearest friend that they need not "give thought to what comes after that." He is beginning to feel he may not be strong enough to make it to Mount Doom, and wonders what will happen, if "the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand?"
Gollum returns with fingers and face soiled with mud. Sam thinks he's been eating "worms or beetles or something slimy out of holes." They move on into the northern borders of the "evil-smelling" marsh, which Gollum convinces them is the only way to proceed without being captured. After three days of travel with Gollum, they pass through the midst of the Dead Marshes. In the darkness, they begin to see strange lights, and as they go along, they see in the pools, visions of dead warriors, foul and rotting, Men, Elves and Orcs. Gollum remembers the days of the great battle, an age ago, on the plain before the Black Gates. Now the Dead Marshes have swallowed up the graves of the slain.
Eventually, they reach firmer ground but see a black shadow loosed from Mordor scudding across the moon. It wheels about and flies directly over them, but passes on. It is long before Frodo and Sam get Gollum moving again. Sam feels that Gollum has changed again, now fawning over Frodo and speaking in his old way. Frodo is now very weary, feeling the drag of the Ring grow more burdensome. When day comes again, they are much closer to the ominous mountains of Mordor. Sam hears Gollum talking to himself and realizes that the creature feels the call of the Ring. Two more times, they feel the presence of the evil shadows, flying high above. Gollum is terrified, but Frodo forces him to lead them on.