Book II, Chapter 4: "A Journey in the Dark"
Gandalf-with some reluctance but seeing no other alternative (save returning to
Rivendell with the Ring in defeat, and sealing its eventual doom)-proposes that the
Fellowship pass through the Mines of Moria. Balin's people may still populate the
Mines, but Gandalf warns they may also encounter Orcs. At night, atop a small hill, the
Fellowship is attacked by Wargs-wild wolves, servants of Sauron. The attack
encourages the company to move swiftly to the doors of Moria.
At the gates of Moria, Gandalf sends Bill the pony back to Rivendell with words of
blessing. Sam is sad to see Bill go, and the pony's departure means the members of the
Fellowship must now bear more of their burden themselves. Gandalf is at first unable to
open the enchanted door to Moria. Their legend reads: "Speak, friend, and enter." The
wizard tries many spells before realizing that the solution is simple: he must speak, not a
secret password, but simply the Elvish word for "friend." As soon as he does, the gate
opens, and the company begins to pass through. At that moment, a tentacle from a lake
outside the gate grabs Frodo's ankle, soon followed by twenty more. Sam stabs one of
the unseen beasts tentacles, and it lets Frodo go, using its arms to close the door to Moria
behind the Fellowship.
Led by Gandalf-and, to a lesser extent, by Gimli, who has been eager to enter
Moria-the Fellowship begins its dangerous descent into the mines. Frodo notes effects
of his wound: he can see more clearly in the dark than anyone but Gandalf, and his
hearing is sharper as well. He hears "the faint fall of soft bare feet" following the
company. Later in this chapter, as he takes a watch during the night, he sees "two pale
points of light, almost like luminous eyes." By these details, Tolkien is again preparing
readers for the introduction of Gollum in Book IV.
The Fellowship halts at a fork in its path at which Gandalf is unsure how to proceed.
While waiting, Pippin drops a stone into an ancient well. Gandalf rebukes the Hobbit for
making such noise, which is shortly answered by knocking from the depths.
At length, the Fellowship presses on. Gimli and Gandalf, conversing about Moria's
former glory, happen to reveal that the material of which Frodo's secret chain-mail is
made, mithril, is a priceless treasure coveted by Sauron. Gandalf mentions Bilbo's old
treasure, that the coat of mail had "worth greater than the value of the whole Shire and
everything in it." This knowledge does not bring any comfort to Frodo!