The Taming of Sméagol
The Taming of Sméagol is the first chapter of the fourth book in The Two Towers.
The narrative returns to Frodo and Sam on the third day after they departed from their companions at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbits wander the barren slopes of the mountains called Emyn Muir, striving to make their way to Mordor, but frequently getting lost and having to retrace their steps. Standing on the edge of a tall cliff, they can see the way down into Mordor, but have no way to descend the cliff. Sam complains to Frodo about their desperate situation. He has been lugging cooking gear for days, but there is nothing to cook. The Hobbits survive only on old lembas cakes, and Sam yearns for a pint of beer and a chunk of bread. He expresses his hope that they have lost Gollum, the creature who has been pursuing them for some time. Frodo agrees, but says that he is more troubled by the unending hills of the landscape, which torture his feet. He observes that there is no turning back, as Orc warriors now patrol the banks of the river they have crossed.
Sam and Frodo continue to follow the cliff northward for several more days, finally arriving at a spot where it appears they might be able to climb down. Sam insists on going first, against Frodo’s objections. Sam lowers himself down the cliff, when suddenly a great dark shape appears overhead with a horrible wind and a crack of thunder. Sam loses his hold on the rock and falls, but is saved by a narrow ledge below. Frodo tries to hide his face in fear, but he loses his foothold and falls down onto a ledge below. It begins to rain. Sam suddenly remembers that he has a strong, thin Elf rope in his bag. He measures it out, and finds that it is long enough to allow the two hobbits to lower themselves to the ground below. After descending safely, Sam and Frodo prepare to go onward to Mordor. Sam regrets abandoning the rope, which is still attached to a rock overhead and cannot be untied. Suddenly, as if by magic, the rope is released and falls into his hands. Frodo suspects that the knot was not tied well, but both wonder whether it was perhaps enchantment that freed the rope. As the hobbits huddle in the cold, Frodo spots a crawling insect-like creature on a distant cliff, clinging to the wall by its hands. Sam realizes the creature is Gollum. As the creature draws nearer, he leaps on Sam. They wrestle. Frodo draws his knife Sting from its sheath and thrusts it against Gollum’s neck, demanding obedience from the creature. Gollum is suddenly subservient and vows total servitude, but Frodo does not trust him entirely. Gollum suddenly bounds away, attempting escape. The hobbits get him back and harness him with the Elf rope, which causes Gollum great pain. Gollum again vows obedience, and this time he seems sincere. The creature leads his Hobbit masters onward to Mordor.