Sam's place in the group? Ah, Sam had always intended to take good care of his Mr. Frodo. He was with Frodo from the beginning, you see, the only one of us who was. Even when we bumped into him at Farmer Maggot's field, right at the beginning, he was looking out for Frodo's safety. When I ran out of the corn and ran smack into Frodo, Sam hauled me off him so quick it made my head spin! Merry and I didn't think of Sam as anybody but Frodo's gardener in the early days, but we gained respect for him very quickly, I can tell you. It was at Weathertop, however, that I really understood Sam's determination and courage, and how far he would go to keep Frodo safe.
You have heard often enough about the Black Riders. I canna ever fully describe the horror they cast in our souls - like the freezing of our blood it was to see them. Their presence created a smothering sensation of menace - even of hopelessness. Just having them gliding toward us was a silent threat that stifled the will to action. I felt as if I could barely move my limbs. So when we stood on the cliff at Weathertop in the deep night and saw five of them drifting smoothly toward us below, our hearts stopped. It was Frodo that yelled 'Go' to us, spurring us to run up the dark stairs to the top where we stood amid the ruins, as if that was any more protection. That was one of the longest moments of my life, standing back to back with the others, circling around to watch for them coming over the edge, hoping that Aragorn would return from wherever he had disappeared to.
I had never seen being a hobbit as a liability before that night, until swords were put in our hands and we had to use them. Aragorn just tossed them at us, casually, as if he just assumed we would know what to do with them. My first reaction was to be impressed with my blade - a real sword! I thought to myself, though of course I knew it was short as swords go. It wasn't but a short time later that we had to use them. Almost as if the getting of them caused the needing of them. And then facing those Riders, huge, towering over us - I felt so small, so unprepared. Such a little person in the world.
Frodo was weary at the end of a long day and had already rolled himself up in his blanket, Strider had gone off on his own, so we didn't really consider the risks of lighting a fire that night. We hadna seen any sign of the Riders since leaving Bree, so I suppose we were somewhat lulled into a sense of security that wasna there. I suppose also that having Strider leading us made us feel safe, and if he felt it was alright to wander around, surely it must be! We had not had a good meal all day, so we set about cooking some sausages, bacon, and tomatoes for supper. The sizzling of the bacon is what wakened Frodo, or I suppose things would have turned out even worse. Even when he called out, What are you doing? in a horrified voice, not one of us realized what he meant. But before he had managed to stamp out the fire (with me, as usual, not catching on!) we heard the chilling scream they make.
We stood together, our backs to the cliff, looking down at them - five wraiths, illumined it seemed by a blue light, approaching. Time was suspended, I swear. We ran to the top, waiting for them to come, hoping for Strider, little hobbits with swords we had no inkling how to use held fiercely in our hands. Most fiercely in Sam's. When they finally came over the top, we all stood in front of Frodo, protectively, but Sam took the front. He leaped forward! Toward them, flashing his sword! He challenged them: Back, you devils, he cried, and lunged for one of them! He was knocked right out of the way, as if he were just an annoyance. But I will always remember that he was willing to take on the Nazgul for Frodo. Sam was truly one of us after that: in fact, the best of us.