Something has slipped.'
'And what is it then?' growled Shagrat.
'By all the signs, Captain Shagrat, I'd say there's a large warrior loose, Elf most likely, with an elf-sword anyway, and an axe as well maybe: and he's loose in your bounds, too, and you've never spotted him. Very funny indeed!' Gorbag spat. Sam smiled grimly at this description of himself.
'Ah well, you always did take a gloomy view,' said Shagrat. 'You can read the signs how you like, but there may be other ways to explain them. Anyhow. I've got watchers at every point, and I'm going to deal with one thing at a time. When I've had a look at the fellow we have caught, then I'll begin to worry about something else.'
'It's my guess you won't find much in that little fellow,' said Gorbag. 'He may have had nothing to do with the real mischief. The big fellow with the sharp sword doesn't seem to have thought him worth much anyhow – just left him lying: regular elvish trick.'
'We'll see. Come on now! We've talked enough. Let's go and have a look at the prisoner!
'What are you going to do with him? Don't forget I spotted him first. If there's any game, me and my lads must be in it.'
'Now, now,' growled Shagrat. 'I have my orders. And it's more than my belly's worth, or yours, to break 'em. Any trespasser found by the guard is to be held at the tower. Prisoner is to be stripped. Full description of every article, garment, weapon, letter, ring, or trinket is to be sent to Lugburz at once, and to Lugburz only. And the prisoner is to be kept safe and intact, under pain of death for every member of the guard, until He sends or comes Himself. That's plain enough, and that's what I'm going to do.'
'Stripped, eh?' said Gorbag. 'What, teeth, nails, hair, and all?'
'No, none of that. He's for Lugburz, I tell you. He's wanted safe and whole.'
'You'll find that difficult,' laughed Gorbag. 'He's nothing but carrion now. What Lugburz will do with such stuff I can't guess. He might as well go in the pot.'
'You fool,' snarled Shagrat. 'You've been talking very clever, but there's a lot you don't know, though most other folk do. You'll be for the pot or for Shelob, if you don't take care. Carrion! Is that all you know of Her Ladyship? When she binds with cords, she's after meat. She doesn't eat dead meat, nor suck cold blood. This fellow isn't dead!'