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Section LXXVI-Lament for Gandalf

As we are shepherded down the winding steps, I find myself gazing round me a bit, ever more deeply aware of the oddity of a hobbit being in a tree, separated so far from the ground. I remember climbing trees with Merry, both before I left Brandy Hall and when he would come to visit at Bag End, once it became home. As I recall, I shinnied up a tree or two with Pippin, as well. But those youthful exploits pale in comparison. I cannot help but give ear to, and agree with, Samís mutterings about being glad to touch foot to solid earth again.

We are led to a quiet clearing, where a pavilion and soft beds, of sorts, are already prepared and waiting for us. As we settle, the members of our little company begin to talk, quietly. It seems we shared a similar experience, with the Lady Galadriel, if not in content, then in nature. Each member felt or saw in his mindís eye the absolute certainty that she could grant him the greatest desire of his heart, if he would but turn aside from the Quest, and leave it for others to accomplish.

Boromir wonders what was offered to me. I determine not to reveal the memory, but to keep it ever to myself. Truly, it does not matter, for the Ring too offers me whatever I desire, if I will but claim It for my own. I could not tell him this, nor could I tell anyone. It is beyond all reasoning. My heart whispers there is no choice left to me, but to deny It and continue forward, single-minded to the task appointed. Such a consideration frightens me, for the undertaking grows increasingly impossible. I push the thought away, firmly. I do allow myself to admit an undeniable sense of relief to learn each member refused the opportunity presented them, at least for now.

My ears capture a gentle sigh, as the wind through the trees... no, a song of eloquent beauty and exquisite sorrow, and I allow it to flow over and through me, for a time. Though I know not the words at all, for it is in the Elven tongue, it soothes my aching heart and finally -- finally, I am able to unwrap my grief, from its velvet cloth, and embrace it, for a moment.

These Elves were well acquainted with Gandalf; they knew him, and loved him. And not just for a pitifully short span of years, but down through the ages. They called him Mithrandir. I do not recall having heard that name, before -- before the Quest. In all his visits to Bag End, he never mentioned it, not once, at least, not that I remember. I believed I knew him so well... Now, I suspect I knew him not at all. In life, he was so much more than I ever imagined. How does one mourn someone they did not truly know? And yet, mourn I must, for in truth, I miss him desperately, what I knew of him.

Sam does not realize how clever are his verses. He laments his current one and declares it sadly lacking, and yet as I listened, I captured a glimpse our dear wizard friend in the images composed by Samís poem.

The life of the tree, against which I lean, pulses through me. I sense no enmity, despite the evil I carry. Though my burden lays heavy against my breast, the voice is silenced, for now. Never have I been so bone weary. I breathe deeply of a peace long denied me, and lay myself down to rest for as long as I may.