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  • Chapter 3 THREE IS COMPANY

  • 'You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon,' said Gandalf.

  • Two or three weeks had passed, and still Frodo made no sign of getting ready to go.

  • 'I know.

  • But it is difficult to do both,' he objected.

  • 'If I just vanish like Bilbo, the tale will be all over the Shire in no time.'

  • 'Of course you mustn't vanish!' said Gandalf.

  • 'That wouldn't do at all!

  • I said soon, not instantly.

  • If you can think of any way of slipping out of the Shire without its being generally known,

  • it will be worth a little delay.

  • But you must not delay too long.'

  • 'What about the autumn, on or after Our Birthday?'

  • asked Frodo.

  • 'I think I could probably make some arrangements by then.'

  • To tell the truth, he was very reluctant to start, now that it had come to the point:

  • Bag End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years, and he wanted to savour

  • as much as he could of his last summer in the Shire.

  • When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying,

  • as it always did at that season.

  • He had indeed privately made up his mind to leave on his fiftieth birthday: Bilbo's

  • one hundred and twenty-eighth.

  • It seemed somehow the proper day on which to set out and follow him.

  • Following Bilbo was uppermost in his mind, and the one thing that made the thought of

  • leaving bearable.

  • He thought as little as possible about the Ring, and where it might lead him in the end.

  • But he did not tell all his thoughts to Gandalf.

  • What the wizard guessed was always difficult to tell.

  • He looked at Frodo and smiled.

  • 'Very well,' he said.

  • 'I think that will dobut it must not be any later.

  • I am getting very anxious.

  • In the meanwhile, do take care, and don't let out any hint of where you are going!

  • And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk.

  • If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad.'

  • 'As for where I am going,' said Frodo, 'it would be difficult to give that away,

  • for I have no clear idea myself, yet.'

  • 'Don't be absurd!' said Gandalf.

  • 'I am not warning you against leaving an address at the post-office!

  • But you are leaving the Shireand that should not be known, until you are far away.

  • And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or Eastand the direction

  • should certainly not be known.'

  • 'I have been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving Bag End, and of saying farewell,

  • that I have never even considered the direction,' said Frodo.

  • 'For where am I to go?

  • And by what shall I steer?

  • What is to be my quest?

  • Bilbo went to find a treasure, there and back again; but I go to lose one, and not return,

  • as far as I can see.'

  • 'But you cannot see very far,' said Gandalf.

  • 'Neither can I. It may be your task to find the Cracks of Doom; but that quest may be

  • for others: I do not know.

  • At any rate you are not ready for that long road yet.'

  • 'No indeed!' said Frodo.

  • 'But in the meantime what course am I to take?'

  • 'Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight,' answered the wizard.

  • 'If you want my advice, make for Rivendell.

  • That journey should not prove too perilous, though the Road is less easy than it was,

  • and it will grow worse as the year fails.'

  • 'Rivendell!' said Frodo.

  • 'Very good: I will go east, and I will make for Rivendell.

  • I will take Sam to visit the Elves; he will be delighted.'

  • He spoke lightly; but his heart was moved suddenly with a desire to see the house of

  • Elrond Halfelven, and breathe the air of that deep valley where many of the Fair Folk still

  • dwelt in peace.

  • One summer's evening an astonishing piece of news reached the Ivy Bush and Green Dragon.

  • Giants and other portents on the borders of the Shire were forgotten for more important

  • matters: Mr. Frodo was selling Bag End, indeed he had already sold itto the Sackville-Bagginses!

  • 'For a nice bit, too,' said some.

  • 'At a bargain price,' said others, 'and that's more likely when Mistress Lobelia's

  • the buyer.'

  • (Otho had died some years before, at the ripe but disappointed age of 102.)

  • Just why Mr. Frodo was selling his beautiful hole was even more debatable than the price.

  • A few held the theorysupported by the nods and hints of Mr. Baggins himselfthat

  • Frodo's money was running out: he was going to leave Hobbiton and live in a quiet way

  • on the proceeds of the sale down in Buckland among his Brandybuck relations.

  • 'As far from the Sackville-Bagginses as may be,' some added.

  • But so firmly fixed had the notion of the immeasurable wealth of the Bagginses of Bag

  • End become that most found this hard to believe, harder than any other reason or unreason that

  • their fancy could suggest: to most it suggested a dark and yet unrevealed plot by Gandalf.

  • Though he kept himself very quiet and did not go about by day, it was well known that

  • he was 'hiding up in the Bag End'.

  • But however a removal might fit in with the designs of his wizardry, there was no doubt

  • about the fact: Frodo Baggins was going back to Buckland.

  • 'Yes, I shall be moving this autumn,' he said.

  • 'Merry Brandybuck is looking out for a nice little hole for me, or perhaps a small house.'

  • As a matter of fact with Merry's help he had already chosen and bought a little house

  • at Crickhollow in the country beyond Bucklebury.

  • To all but Sam he pretended he was going to settle down there permanently.

  • The decision to set out eastwards had suggested the idea to him; for Buckland was on the eastern

  • borders of the Shire, and as he had lived there in childhood his going back would at

  • least seem credible.

  • Gandalf stayed in the Shire for over two months.

  • Then one evening, at the end of June, soon after Frodo's plan had been finally arranged,

  • he suddenly announced that he was going off again next morning.

  • 'Only for a short while, I hope,' he said.

  • 'But I am going down beyond the southern borders to get some news, if I can.

  • I have been idle longer than I should.'

  • He spoke lightly, but it seemed to Frodo that he looked rather worried.

  • 'Has anything happened?' he asked.

  • 'Well no; but I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into.

  • If I think it necessary after all for you to get off at once, I shall come back immediately,

  • or at least send word.

  • In the meanwhile stick to your plan; but be more careful than ever, especially of the

  • Ring.

  • Let me impress on you once more: don't use it!'

  • He went off at dawn.

  • 'I may be back any day,' he said.

  • 'At the very latest I shall come back for the farewell party.

  • I think after all you may need my company on the Road.'

  • At first Frodo was a good deal disturbed, and wondered often what Gandalf could have

  • heard; but his uneasiness wore off, and in the fine weather he forgot his troubles for

  • a while.

  • The Shire had seldom seen so fair a summer, or so rich an autumn: the trees were laden

  • with apples, honey was dripping in the combs, and the corn was tall and full.

  • Autumn was well under way before Frodo began to worry about Gandalf again.

  • September was passing and there was still no news of him.

  • The Birthday, and the removal, drew nearer, and still he did not come, or send word.

  • Bag End began to be busy.

  • Some of Frodo's friends came to stay and help him with the packing: there was Fredegar

  • Bolger and Folco Boffin, and of course his special friends Pippin Took and Merry Brandybuck.

  • Between them they turned the whole place upside-down.

  • On September 20th two covered carts went off laden to Buckland, conveying the furniture

  • and goods that Frodo had not sold to his new home, by way of the Brandywine Bridge.

  • The next day Frodo became really anxious, and kept a constant look-out for Gandalf.

  • Thursday, his birthday morning, dawned as fair and clear as it had long ago for Bilbo's

  • great party.

  • Still Gandalf did not appear.

  • In the evening Frodo gave his farewell feast: it was quite small, just a dinner for himself

  • and his four helpers; but he was troubled and felt in no mood for it.

  • The thought that he would so soon have to part with his young friends weighed on his

  • heart.

  • He wondered how he would break it to them.

  • The four younger hobbits were, however, in high spirits, and the party soon became very

  • cheerful in spite of Gandalf's absence.

  • The dining-room was bare except for a table and chairs, but the food was good, and there

  • was good wine: Frodo's wine had not been included in the sale to the Sackville-Bagginses.

  • 'Whatever happens to the rest of my stuff, when the S.-B.s get their claws on it, at

  • any rate I have found a good home for this!' said Frodo, as he drained his glass.

  • It was the last drop of Old Winyards.

  • When they had sung many songs, and talked of many things they had done together, they

  • toasted Bilbo's birthday, and they drank his health and Frodo's together according

  • to Frodo's custom.

  • Then they went out for a sniff of air, and glimpse of the stars, and then they went to

  • bed.

  • Frodo's party was over, and Gandalf had not come.

  • The next morning they were busy packing another cart with the remainder of the luggage.

  • Merry took charge of this, and drove off with Fatty (that is Fredegar Bolger).

  • 'Someone must get there and warm the house before you arrive,' said Merry.

  • 'Well, see you laterthe day after tomorrow, if you don't go to sleep on the way!'

  • Folco went home after lunch, but Pippin remained behind.

  • Frodo was restless and anxious, listening in vain for a sound of Gandalf.

  • He decided to wait until nightfall.

  • After that, if Gandalf wanted him urgently, he would go to Crickhollow, and might even

  • get there first.

  • For Frodo was going on foot.

  • His planfor pleasure and a last look at the Shire as much as any other reasonwas

  • to walk from Hobbiton to Bucklebury Ferry, taking it fairly easy.

  • 'I shall get myself a bit into training, too,' he said, looking at himself in a dusty

  • mirror in the half-empty hall.

  • He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather

  • flabby, he thought.

  • After lunch, the Sackville-Bagginses, Lobelia and her sandy-haired son, Lotho, turned up,

  • much to Frodo's annoyance.

  • 'Ours at last!' said Lobelia, as she