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Section XLIV-Into the Wild

Strider informs me he is leading us into the Wild, in the hopes of eluding the Black Riders along with any other possible pursuers. Leaving Bree, I am wholly unable to help myself, I at least momentarily entertain some vague hope that perhaps a more hobbit-like pace might be undertaken, but quite quickly it is clearly not to be... Instead, it is becoming an ever-increasing challenge just to keep up with the Ranger, what with his legs almost as long as any one of us is tall.

I awake this morning to the delicious smells of first breakfast. Bless Sam. But there isn't much time to savor it. What kind of world do Men live in that no time is given to sit and enjoy a bite of good food? Then again, Strider probably wouldn't mind so much if it really were just a bite, but where's the pleasure in that?

Strider insists that the way be swiftly taken up once again. My first thought is that the road should be taken to, but we follow no path but the one Strider sees in his mind. Please, let his 'shortcuts' be better than mine. I push the memories away and try not to shudder.

An attempt is made to stop for second breakfast, but all designs in that direction are swiftly dashed by Strider. He cannot hide his own disbelief that we would consider something he seems to have deemed trivial. He feels the urgency to move forward, and quickly, and the wandering pace of hobbits is apparently a hindrance. I find this small reminder of the change in our situation, almost painfully harsh, but only fleetingly so. I need only reflect for a moment on the Wraiths, to find myself hastening after Strider.

As another double back is pursued, I cannot help but wonder, are we really making it harder, or easier for anyone following? Might we find ourselves, in fact, facing them coming when we are returning one of these times? It seems to me there is also another consideration, if haste to Rivendell is of any import, and my impression is that it is, we are surely failing in this. Yet, when I search my mind for other alternatives, there is nothing.

Knowing where my thoughts are straying, I endeavor to ease the concerns of my friends, though perhaps the words are more for me.

"We have no choice but to trust him."

The beauty of Chetwood, at least for a time, sweeps away my unpleasant thoughts. It truly is peaceful here. I hear the birds singing and occasionally catch sight of a squirrel. I drink in the loveliness of the trees; their leaves are just beginning to turn. The smell of fall is heavy in the air. If I close my eyes and clear my mind, I am almost at home in the Shire. What a wonderful place to wander for a bit, just like we used to... if only there were time...

Our surroundings have succeeded in lightening all our moods, except perhaps Strider's. The cares are, for a time, lifted from my heart, as I listen to the banter and teasing that flies between Merry and Pippin. Their cheer and humor reminds me of our old adventures, and for a moment I am lost in the memories of them. I am struck by the thought that our last 'old' adventure was not that long ago and yet it feels a lifetime ago.

Even Bill the Pony seems to be benefiting from this trip. In truth, it is Sam's gentle care of the pony that is already having an effect. The creature does not look nearly as bedraggled as when he first came to us. Sam assures me that a simple brushing works wonders for a scruffy beast. This is not a particularly bad way to start a journey.