“Frodo, forgive me!”
How many times had he called and shouted those words, to no avail? Frodo was gone. He had put on the Ring and disappeared, and no amount of calling or begging on Boromir’s part had caused him to reappear. The Ringbearer was gone.
Boromir passed a hand over his eyes, dashing away tears. He felt weary and empty, but he could not give up just yet -- not while there might be even a tiny chance that the Hobbit might hear him and return. He might not have gone far; perhaps he was still close by, in hiding….
"Frodo, come back! The madness has passed, I am myself again! Please… come back, Frodo!"
There was no reply. Boromir drew in a great breath and shouted with all his might.
"Frodo, I am sorry!" The forest rang with his despairing cry. "Frodo...!"
No answer came but the echoes of his shout and the thunder of Rauros in the distance.
With a heavy sigh, Boromir began to search the hill methodically, beginning from the point where he had last seen Frodo and moving out slowly in an ever-increasing circle. He had little hope now of finding the hobbit, but he felt he had to make an attempt at searching. He was desperate to run, to chase after Frodo, but Boromir forced himself to be thorough as he looked for signs of the hobbit’s passing. As he searched, he continued to call; he called until he was hoarse, but still no answer came.
He searched for close to an hour, but at last he was forced to admit defeat. Sitting down heavily on a mossy log, Boromir bowed his head to his knees and wondered what to do next. There was little point in searching further; if Frodo still wore the Ring, he could be anywhere by now.
No doubt he had returned to the Company, and was even now telling them everything. Boromir's heart quailed at the thought.
I am a fool! he berated himself bitterly. I sought to counsel Frodo, but instead I ended up driving him away; I vowed to protect him, but instead I repaid his trust in me with betrayal! I was angry that no one seemed to heed my advice -- but I was the one who was not listening.
Putting thought to action, Boromir raised his head to listen. All was quiet; there was no sound but the ever-present rumble of the Falls of Rauros, and the creaking of branches as the wind sighed mournfully in the trees. The silence was so complete he could hear his heart beating loudly in his ears.
Slowly it dawned on him that the throbbing he heard in his ear was truly just his heart beating, and not the pulsing, incessant whisper that had been growing harder and harder to ignore of late. He had hardly realized that sound was there until it had been taken away. He felt a great sense of relief, as with the lifting of a burden. His mind was clear, at last!
But Boromir’s joy was short-lived.
The whispering is gone because Frodo is gone! he realized in dismay. It was the Ring! The Ring, speaking to me... tempting me. And I listened! The Ring did its work, and I was taken in, as easily as that! What came of my belief that true-hearted Men would not be easily corrupted? I proved my own words wrong, for when it came to the test, I was the one who failed, so easily! I was so certain I could take the Ring and use it for good! No doubt that was just a lie of the Ring. Instead it took me, and used me. I believed myself to be strong; I knew well my ability to be sufficient to any task. My pride -- my need -- made it right. I called Frodo a fool, but I am the fool, not he. I am nothing but a weak fool....
'You are not yourself,' Frodo said to me as we spoke together just now. He tried to tell me something was wrong; and he was right! I was used... controlled... Yet the blame still lies with me. I listened, did I not? I succumbed to the soft tempting of those whispers. Why did I think myself so wise? Why did I not listen to the others? They all warned me! Even a Halfling who knew little of Sauron and the Rings of Power understood more of this matter than I! I am surely to blame, for I let it guide me... I let my pride guide me. I allowed Evil to work through me, and now Frodo runs from me in fear....
I have failed... failed!
Boromir covered his face with hands and wept, his whole body wracked with sobs.
"What have I done?” he moaned aloud. “What have I done?"
His sobs eventually stilled. After drying his eyes with the edge of his tunic, Boromir rose to his feet and began to pace.
So! he reflected solemnly. It seems I was wrong to think myself capable of using the Ring without harm. Could it be... might I have been in error about all the rest of it, as well? Have I been wrong all along in believing that the Ring should not be destroyed? Is there a chance that this absurd plan to carry the Ring into the heart of Mordor might actually be the only way to save us all? Is it possible it might even succeed?
Boromir sighed heavily as he recalled his own reluctance to believe the counsel given by the Wise in Rivendell. In answer to his urging to take the Ring as a weapon and go to victory, Elrond himself had replied that it was not possible to use it in such a way.
‘Alas, no,’ he had said. ‘We cannot use the Ruling Ring. That we now know too well. It belongs to Sauron and was made by him alone, and is altogether evil. Its strength, Boromir, is too great for anyone to wield at will, save only those who have already a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart….’
‘So be it’ had been Boromir’s reply, but in truth, he had been loath to see the Ring as anything other than a weapon that gave advantage in battle, and therefore something that should not be squandered or set at risk. And yet... here he was, living proof of what desire of that thing could do!
Boromir laughed aloud, but it was more a sound of pain than of mirth.
It is more than obvious that my own wisdom in this matter is lacking, he berated himself. Who was I to think that I understood the Ring and its wiles? I thought it only a tool, and yet it turned out to be nothing but Evil, as dangerous as if Sauron himself stood in our midst! Now I understand, but too late! The Ring cannot be used, least of all by myself! Any attempt to use it against its Master instead turns to Sauron's benefit.
Alas, what help is there for my City now if the weapon I hoped to bring them will instead bring only harm? But is it even possible to put the Ring out of the Enemy's reach? Can we possibly succeed in destroying it? Surely we will be stopped before we can even approach Mount Doom....
Boromir bowed his head and fought with despair. The future looked bleak indeed. What hope was there, if the Ring could not be used to save his people, and if any attempt to take it to the Fire meant to risk it being retaken by the Enemy? Was their struggle useless and in vain?
No! he said firmly to himself, rebelling at the thought of giving up. I must press on and not lose hope. All seems lost, but the ending is still in doubt. While we have breath, we must continue to fight this Evil! There is still a chance we may succeed -- a small chance, but a chance, nonetheless. There is still much I can do; I can still accomplish some good, now that my mind is clear and I understand the truth... I can still aid the Quest, instead of hinder it….
Boromir looked up through the trees at the sky above. It was approaching midday, and the sun was now filtering through the leaves of the old forest all about him.
I should be getting back, he thought. There is no time to waste. Even if Frodo has told them everything, I will not hesitate. I shall confess what I have done. They will be angry with me, but I shall do what I can to make amends. I will repair my evil, if I can. Frodo may be willing to forgive me... surely he understands the madness the Ring brings....
He started down the hill, moving slowly at first, then quickening his pace until he was almost running.
I hope I am not too late! I hope they have not gone without me....