The day seemed to speed up to its end as soon and Sam and Dimple entered Binbole Wood, and after only about thirty minutes of walking through the thin layer of snow at the bottom of the forest, they were enveloped in almost total darkness. And though they were still in the Shire, which was generally a very happy and safe place, a dark forest is a dark forest, and they were frightened considerably by the strange shadows lurking at their feet and behind the formidable trees surrounding them.
But as before, Sam, who was older than Dimple and who was leading the journey, tried to hide his fear from his companion. Thus, whenever Dimple asked him whether he was sure they were moving in the right direction, or whether it might be a good idea to turn back and return to the wood in the morning, Sam stubbornly insisted on pursuing their course.
In reality, he was just as doubtful as Dimple, and more than once seriously considered turning back. Yet they moved on.
They were deep in the wood when Dimple asked Sam to stop walking.
"We have to keep moving," Sam said, refusing to turn around.
"Mr. Sam!" said Dimple in a pained whisper, insinuating something was seriously wrong.
Sam stopped walking but continued to look ahead of him, trying not to let Dimple have too much control over him. He shifted his eyes from side to side, searching the darkness for anything Dimple might have seen and listening closely for anything he might have heard. Yet except for the small circle of light created by the lantern Sam had lit, they were surrounded by complete darkness and silence.
"What are you getting on about?" Sam said impatiently.
There was no answer.
"Dimple?" Sam felt a chill up his spine.
Again, there was no answer.
When Sam turned, he was briefly relieved to see that Dimple was standing about ten feet behind him. But his relief quickly turned to alarm. Dimple's body was surely standing there, but he was completely rigid, and his eyes were wide open and lifeless. He looked like he had turned into stone.
"Dimple?" Sam said, his voice cracking.
Again there was no answer from Dimple, who just looked past Sam with this petrified look.
Then Sam saw a cloud of white mist forming behind his companion. He watched with horror as the cloud swiftly coalesced into the shape of a woman. After a few seconds, he could see some of her features in fine detail, including her long, knotty hair and her terribly scared face, which was grinning maniacally at Sam. When the cloud finally settled, he also saw that the ghostly figure had her hands around Dimple's neck.
"Let go of him!" Sam shouted, trying to swallow his fear.
The woman then let out a loud cackle and looked deep into Sam's eyes. Her look was so severe that it sent chills throughout his entire body.
"I will on one condition," she said in an icy voice, narrowing her eyes. "Give me the bracelet."
Sam grabbed his pack and felt the contour of the precious item. He had been warned about this, and though he was scared, he was going to remain committed to his task.
"It's not for you!" he said. "Now get away!"
"Very well, then," said the icy voice.
Then the ghost woman let out another loud cackle and suddenly vanished.
And Dimple was now nowhere to be seen.