There's a lot we still haven't talked about regarding this chapter. Only a bit has been said about Gandalf's letter, and the various interactions between the hobbits, Strider, and Butterbur. And nothing at all has been said yet about Merry's encounter with the Black Riders.
But I want to go back to something that I said earlier, that no one responded to. I'll quote Wayne and Christina, who in turn quote Paul Kocher's Master of Middle-earth
(which I have been reading recently), regarding the line "If I was after the Ring, I could have it -- NOW!":
Paul H. Kocher observes that 'like every other leader of the West' Aragorn is given 'one fateful chance' to yield to the temptation of the Ring. 'But he conquers it and is never bothered by it again. ... And by his pledge of help he subordinates his own ambitions to their [the hobbits] safety as bearers of the Ring.'
Is Kocher right? Is Aragorn really tempted by the Ring at this moment? Certainly it is not as clear as Galadriel's temptation, or even Gandalf's, but still the signs are there.
He stood up, and seemed suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding.
For a long time, I thought that this, and the words that follow, where he lays his hand on the hilt of his ineffectual sword, were just for effect, and that he wasn't really tempted to take the Ring. But I think that gleam in his eyes is particularly telling, as well as the illusion that he grew tall and imposing. I think that just as Frodo sees Galadriel as a beautiful and terrible Queen, so too do the Hobbits get a brief vision of Aragorn as the Ring Lord, should he choose to step over the line at the fateful moment.
Quite an important sequence, when looked at from that point of view, hidden in plain sight, as it were.