The Lord of the Rings – Book 4, Chapter 4: “Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit”

There is a spot of refuge in Mordor where green things still grow.  Who knew?  It’s a place called Ithilien.  Once it was part of the realm of Gondor, as all of Mordor once was, and it has since been reclaimed for Gondor by Boromir, though none dwell there now due to the dangers Mordor presents.  After several days of sneaking through Mordor in worry for being caught or for low provisions, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum arrive in Ithilien.  While Frodo and Sam are pleased to see a place such as this, Gollum is reviled as only he can be.  His revulsion continues when he’s sent out to hunt food, and Sam has the audacity to actually cook the rabbits Gollum brings back.  The nerve of some hobbits!

Of course, cooking means fire, and fire means being seen, of which Frodo reminds Sam.  Four men become known, wondering if they gaze upon elves or orcs.  Their leader identifies himself as Faramir, Captain of Gondor.  He says that the hobbits cannot be travelers, for uninvited travelers are not permitted in these lands.  As Frodo relates his tale, mention of the name of Boromir touches some nerves.

Battle is called, and the men chase after their sworn enemy, the Haradrim that we learned about in the previous chapter.  Frodo and Sam bear witness to the fight, horrified at the carnage.  During the fight, Sam gets his first look at an oliphaunt, known also as a mûmak by the Haradrim (plural: mûmakil), which is summoned to crush the enemies of the Rangers of Ithilien.

The hobbits are told to rest, for Faramir will soon return and the group will have to flee the enemy.  It seems unlikely that the hobbits will be allowed to go on their way.  Rather, they will likely be forced to travel with the Rangers.

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