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“Will you look at that?”
Sam looked up from stirring the pot as Pippin dropped the stick he had been feeding into the meager fire. Two deer were calmly grazing the thick, winter-browned grass at the edge of the clearing where the Fellowship had camped for the day. Sam slowly straightened and the deer flicked their ears in his direction before resuming their meal.
“That’s unnatural, that is.” Sam’s low voice did not seem to bother the deer. “They are downwind of us.”
The closest deer sidestepped nervously and raised her head as Legolas came to stand beside Pippin. After a moment, she relaxed and bent her head again to graze.
“I’ll get your bow!” Pippin whispered to Legolas. “That’s dinner.” He turned.
At the movement, the deer raised their heads again, their bodies tense and poised for flight. Legolas put a restraining hand on Pippin’s shoulder. Sam saw his gaze flick from the deer to Gandalf huddled and asleep in his bedroll next to Frodo’s to Sam and Pippin and back to the deer. The deer lowered their heads and took a few casual steps to get to a succulent patch of grass.
“I cannot.” Legolas shook his head. “They think an elf and a wizard should protect them from predators.”
That made no more sense to Sam than most things he had heard since he left home. He watched the deer for a moment more as they grazed. He shrugged at the loss of the venison and bent to the pot again.
“I hope Strider and the others bring back a coney or two, or it’ll be a mighty thin stew tonight.”
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