The Fellowship of the Ring Book 2, Chapter 9 Summary
The Great River
The Company drifts downriver for several days, saving their strength for the trials to come.
They see no sign of the Enemy on these treeless, cheerless banks.
Frodo can see the Misty Mountains in the distance, and soon, the Anduin broadens into shallower, marshier land.
Merry and Pippin, sitting in Boromir's boat, start to get a little nervous.
Boromir seems distracted, sometimes muttering to himself, and when he looks at Frodo, a strange light sometimes comes into his eyes.
One day, Sam tells Frodo that he has been dreaming: he has seen a log with eyes floating in the river. They both agree that this vision is probably Gollum. He has been tailing them since Moria, to Frodo's knowledge.
Sam and Frodo agree to keep an eye out: Sam takes the first watch and then wakes Frodo.
During Frodo's watch, he hears a hiss close by, followed by a splash. On guard, he draws Sting.
Aragorn stirs in his sleep, sits up, and asks Frodo what is wrong.
Frodo tells Aragorn his suspicions about Gollum, and Aragorn shows no surprise: "Ah! [...] So you know about our little footpad, do you?" (2.9.30).
Aragorn suggests that they try traveling faster the next day.
Finally, the Company reaches an area of low cliffs and brambles: they have found Emyn Muil, the southern border of Wilderland.
As the sun is setting, Legolas spots a black eagle flying low overhead, and Aragorn worries that the birds are spreading news about the Company. You know, as birds are known to do.
They reach the Rapids of Sarn Gebir in the night and almost run aground on rocks. Oops.
Aragorn is surprised by how far along they are on their route.
But as they try to paddle to the banks of the river, arrows start flying overhead. Dun dun dun. Orcs!
Sam suspects that this is Gollum's doing. Big shock.
The Company has to keep their heads and keep working to row to shore.
Thanks to the gray of their Lothlórien cloaks, they are somewhat protected from the Orcs' sight, and eventually, they make it to the bushes on the banks of the river.
There are noises of Orcs on the opposite bank, and a great, dark winged creature suddenly appears out of the clouds overhead.
Legolas calls the name, "Elbereth Gilthoniel!" (2.9.55), aims an arrow, and shoots the thing out of the sky.
The Orcs across the river wail and curse and disappear. Nice!
The Company decides to wait until morning to go on.
No one quite knows what Legolas shot; well, Frodo has a suspicion, but he won't share with the group.
The next day, the river is covered in thick fog. (Pretty much the norm, right?) Sam is happy to be cloaked from the Orcs, but Aragorn is concerned about losing their way.
Boromir suggests that they abandon the boats entirely and start cutting across the country to Minas Tirith.
Aragorn doesn't like this idea; he wants to hold on to the boats as long as they can, since the country of Entwash is hard to cross. He wants to go at least to the foot of the Rauros falls, past Amon Hen ("the high seat [...] that [was] made in the days of the great kings" [2.9.78]).
Legolas and Aragorn head off to explore the coast. When they come back, they report that the Company is close to the head of the Rapids.
There is a portage-way for transporting boats past the Rapids; so they all get out of their boats, take their luggage, and struggle past Sarn Gebir on foot.
They decide to rest for the night and make for the Gates of Argonath (which lead to the Rauros Falls) in the morning.
The next day, as the Company races down the narrow river channel, Frodo sees two great pillars. Aragorn announces that these are the Argonath, the Pillars of the King, dating back to the height of Gondor.
Enormous gray figures are carved into the stone, each with the left arm outstretched in warning.
As Aragorn looks at them, he undergoes a change: "the weatherworn Ranger [is] no longer there. In stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn [...] a king returning from exile to his own land" (2.9.102).
It is the tenth day of their trip from Lothlórien, and they have passed successfully through Wilderland. So far so good.