The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 4 Summary
A Journey in the Dark
- Once they get down the mountain, the Company holds a council: either they have to go on or go back to Rivendell.
- Frodo decides that they can't go back to Rivendell; that would be shameful.
- Gandalf suggests one way forward – they could go through the Mines of Moria – but it's not a good way, and Aragorn is against it.
- Boromir offers an alternative: they could go far to the south, through the Gap of Rohan and into Gondor.
- Gandalf objects that this would bring them too close to Isengard and Saruman. Also, they can't afford to lose too much time.
- Now that they have failed on Caradhras, they need to get out of sight for a while.
- Moria is not Orc-heavy right now: most of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains were destroyed in the Battle of the Five Armies.
- Gimli agrees to go through Moria. He wants to see the halls of Durin.
- Aragorn has been through Moria once, but he doesn't want to repeat the experience. Still, he will follow Gandalf's lead.
- Boromir says that he won't go through Moria unless the entire Company votes against him.
- Legolas does not want to go either.
- Frodo decides, "I do not wish to go [...] but neither do I wish to refuse the advice of Gandalf" (2.4.30).
- He votes to wait until morning to decide.
- Aragorn suddenly realizes that the howl of the wind is actually the howl of wolves. They have no choice now: they have to go to Moria.
- They agree to set out for the door on Caradhras' south-west face the next morning.
- They climb to the top of a hill as a defense for the night; there, they find a ring of stones.
- Bill the pony trembles and sweats as he listens to the wolves growing closer.
- There is a "great dark wolf-shape" that appears at a gap in the ring of stones.
- Gandalf shouts, "Listen, Hound of Sauron! [...] Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within this ring" (2.4.42).
- The wolf leaps forward, but Legolas shoots it with his arrow.
- The wolves pull back and the darkness grows silent.
- Suddenly, a huge pack of Wargs – evil wolves – attacks them from all sides.
- Gandalf fights the Wargs back with fire, and by dawn, they have all been beaten back.
- But in the morning, the Company discovers that there are no wolf bodies left; Gandalf is sure that these are no ordinary wolves.
- They must race to the doors of Moria before sunset.
- At last, they reach Sirannon, the Gate-stream, and the dry remains of the Stair Falls.
- Gandalf mutters to Frodo that they cannot take Bill the pony into the mines; even though it will sadden Sam, they will have to set Bill free.
- The sun is setting as they reach the end of the Elvish road from Hollin to Moria.
- Near the doors, there is a green and stagnant lake.
- Gandalf breaks the news to Sam that they cannot take Bill with them; Sam bursts into tears and unloads the pony.
- Gandalf goes to the rock face and mutters a few words.
- In the light of the moon, a door shines out from the wall.
- The door says: "The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria [...] Speak, friend, and enter" (2.4.98).
- Gandalf decides that there must be a password, so he tries many words and incantations to try to get inside.
- The doors remain stubbornly shut.
- Boromir picks up a stone and throws it into the scummy pool near the doors.
- Frodo scolds Boromir for disturbing the water.
- Finally, Gandalf gets it: say "friend" and enter. He says the Elvish word for friend, mellon, and the doors crack open.
- As the door opens, Frodo feels something wind around his ankle and pull him down.
- Bill the pony bolts.
- Huge tentacles are whipping out of the water, and one of them is dragging Frodo down into the pond.
- Sam slashes at the tentacle holding Frodo and pulls him to safety.
- Gandalf shouts at them to get inside.
- The Company makes it through the doors just in time to see "many coiling arms [seizing] the doors on either side, and with horrible strength, [swinging] them round" (2.4.130).
- The door is shut and blocked behind them.
- Gandalf leads them down into Moria; it will be at least forty miles to the eastern gate and Dimrill Dale.
- The Company does not dare use their torches, so they have to trust to Gandalf's memory to avoid deep crevasses and rock falls.
- The journey is quite miserable.
- Frodo in particular feels on red alert: ever since his injury with the Morgul-blade, his senses have been unusually acute, and he feels hyper-aware of danger ahead.
- Frodo hears something padding behind them, something on soft feet.
- Finally, they reach a crossroads that Gandalf does not remember.
- They settle down to wait for a bit in a nearby guardroom; there is a deep well that seems to fascinate Pippin particularly.
- Pippin throws a stone in the well and listens for it to land with an echoing plunk (2.4.160). Gandalf once again scolds him for making a nuisance of himself.
- But then, deep in the mines, there comes a tapping sound, like some sort of signal; Gimli identifies it as the sound of a hammer.
- The Company sets watch and goes to sleep.
- Gandalf sits smoking for six hours until he decides what to do. In the end, he decides to take the right-hand passage, and the Company climbs up and up for eight hours.
- Finally, the Hobbits are too tired to go on, and they decide to rest for the night.
- Gandalf guesses that they are now actually a ways above the Dimrill Gate.
- He risks enough light to see where they are.
- They find themselves in a huge empty hall: "its black walls, polished and smooth as glass, [flash] and glitter. Three other entrances they see, dark black arches, one straight before them eastwards, and one on either side" (2.4.176).
- Gandalf puts out the light, but Gimli is moved to sing a song of Moria in Durin's day. Naturally.
- Sam asks why the Dwarves came back to Moria.
- Gandalf answers: mithril. Mithril is a spectacular metal that is light and yet harder than steel.
- He mentions that Bilbo had a coat of mithril mail, which would have been worth more than the Shire.
- Frodo feels a bit alarmed that he is currently wearing the worth of the Shire hidden under his clothes.
- The Company goes to sleep, and when they wake, it is morning – really morning, because there is light coming in from somewhere.
- Gandalf predicts that they will come to the Great Gates and the lake of Mirrowmere by the end of that day.
- Gimli is glad: he is happy to have seen Moria, but it has become a dark and dreadful place.
- They go toward the light beyond the northern archway and find a dimly lit square chamber. In it is a slab of stone that reads, "Balin Son of Fundin, Lord of Moria" (2.4.201).
- Balin is dead.
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