November 2, 3019

They come to Bywater and rouse the Shire-folk

Shire Reckoning: November 2, 3019 (Blotmath 2, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Scouring “The travellers were glad to leave the place” (~p.6) – “whether it wears well or no” (~p.17)

Events/Art:
– At ten o'clock the next morning, the travellers set out towards Bywater. The Sherriffs still insist that they are under arrest and that they need to be escorted. However, Merry makes the Shirriffs march in a group while Frodo & Co. ride behind. Thus it ends up looking more like the Shirriffs are the ones under arrest.
– After a long day of travel, the Shirriffs finally give up and agree to let the travellers go on by themselves. They ride on and come to Bywater as the sun begins to sink toward the horizon.
– Frodo and Sam are horrified at the state of Bywater. Many of the houses are gone, perhaps burned down. A whole row of hobbit-holes along the edge of the Pool are abandoned,  and their old gardens are filled with weeds. A row of ugly houses has replaced some waterside trees, and over towards Bag End a huge chimney is pouring out smoke into the air.
– The village is silent, and no one comes out to greet them. The travellers make their wasy to The Green Dragon, and find it in shambles and occupied by a group of nasty-looking Men.
– The ruffians jeer at the travellers, saying that they will be punished by the Boss. They explain condescendingly that the Shire needs modernizing, and that the Boss will do so under the command of a mysterious figure named Sharkey.
– Frodo tries to explain the new political climate in the South, and that the King will soon send messengers to Shire. The men are skeptical, and claim that they will occupy the Shire regardless.
– Pippin gets upset at the Men taunting Frodo, and pulls out his sword. He annouces "'I am a messenger of the King … You are speaking to the King's friend, and one of the most renowned in all the lands of the West. Down on your knees in the road and ask pardon, or I will set this troll's bane in you!'"
– Merry and Sam pull their own swords to back Pippin up. The Men are surprised by these dauntless hobbits, and flee in fear.
– After a short argument about the best way to drive out the ruffians from the Shire, Frodo & Co decide to rouse the Shire-folk into action and work together to overthrow Sharkey. Sam will ride off to Farmer Cotton's farm and enlist his help, while the other three stay in Bywater and gather the residents.
– As Sam rides off to Farmer Cotton's, he hears a great alarm go up behind him. When he reaches the farm, Cotton and his sons are already on the way to Bywater. Sam informs them of the situation and then asks about Mrs. Cotton and Rosie. He goes to the farmhouse and checks on the women. He has a bit of an awkward conversation with Rosie (implying they like each other), and then hurries back to the villages.
– When Sam returns, he finds over a hundred hobbits gathered, armed with various weapons. Merry is directing the construction of barricades across the raod at each entrance. Cotton is explaining the status quo to Frodo: in total, there are a few hundred ruffians scattered throughout the Shire, and at least twenty in Bag End at any given time. He also explains that the Tooks gave a good resistance to Lotho when he started taking power.
– Pippin decides to ride off to the Tookland and gather some of his people to help fight. He promises to return in the morning with 'an amry of Tooks.'
– Suddenly, the word comes in that a group of about 20 ruffians are coming to Bywater, and another group has been sent off to fetch another gang. 
– The squad of Men reaches the barricades and laugh. The hobbits quietly let them in and show no resistance at first. They march through the village, shouting out orders. When they reach the fire, they meet Farmer Cotton, who is standing alone. They ask Cotton what's going on, and he responds "'I was just going to ask you that … This isn't your country, and you're not wanted.'"
– Suddenly, a huge group of hobbits spring out of the darkness, having crept up in the shadows behind the Men. Merry commands the Men to leave, and tells them to surrender. The leader of the ruffians underestimates hobbits and decides to fight. He charges Merry but is shot down with four arrows immediately. The rest of the Men give in quickly. They are disarmed and locked up.
– Merry and Cotton decide that it's getting late, and they should wait to confront Sharkey and the Boss until tomorrow. In any case, Sam wants to go get his Gaffer and make sure he's safe. He goes off with one of Cotton's sons to Hobbiton.
– Cotton gives us some more backstory on the situation in the Shire. Lotho starting controlling the flow of goods (including pipe weed) after he took over Bag End, and last winter ruffians starting coming in to help enforce his will. Eventually, Sharkey came and turned Lotho into a puppet leader. Cotton isn't sure exactly who Sharkey is, but he is rumoured to be the 'biggest ruffian o' the lot.' He has been focused on basically industrializing the Shire. 
– Sam comes back with the gaffer, who is still in good condition. Much to Sam's embarassment, Frodo tells him about how Sam is now one of the most famous heroes in the South, after his great deeds in the war.

Trivia/Details:
– It's really interesting how Frodo is very pacifist throughout today's passage. He keeps emphasizing how he doesn't want any hobbits to harm each other, and that even the ruffians should be spared if possible. 
– I also quite like how Merry and Pippin take charge today, showing off how their maturity has grown drastically during the war.

From The Tale of Years:
They come to Bywater and rouse the Shire-folk.

Notes: Sorry for the delay, I had a ton of homework yesterday. Anyway, it was a little tricy to summarize today's action. I like the actual story of the Scouring of the Shire, and it's a cool way to show how our heroes have grown and can take on challenges on their own now. On the other hand, some of the hobbit politics are described in gratuitious detail, making the chapter a bit tough to read. In any case, we'll finally get to meet Sharkey tomorrow, and see what the big deal is. ~Tom

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November 1, 3019

Hobbits arrested at Frogmorten

Shire Reckoning: November 1, 3019 (Blotmath 1, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Scouring “The new Chief evidently had means” (~p.3) – “The food deserved no better setting” (~p.6)

Events/Art:
– Eager to get to Hobbiton ASAP, the hobbits start heading straight there in the morning. The sky is grey and the land is forlorn in the late autumn weather. They see a smoke cloud going up over the Woody End.
– About halfway back to Hobbiton, the travelers make it to Frogmorton, where they intend to stay the night at a good inn called The Floating Log. (illustration by MatejCadil)
– However, as they approach the east edge of the village, they are met with a large band of Shirrifs, who look a little scared. Frodo asks what's going on, and they announce: "'You're arrested, for Gate-breaking, and Tearing up of Rules, and Assaulting Gate-keepers, and Trespassing, and Sleeping in Shire-buildings without Leave, and Bribing Guards with Food.'"
– Sam is angry, and retorts he'd like to add some more charges to the list: "'Calling your Chief Names, Wishing to punch his Pimply Face, and Thinking you Shirriffs look a lot of Tom-fools.'"
– The Shirriffs say they're going to take the travelers by force to Bywater for prosecution, but Frodo and his companions just burst out laughing. Frodo insists he is going to Bag End on business, and the Shirriffs can accompany him if they will. They are a bit intimidated by this, and the leader says: "'Very well … But don't forget I've arrested you.'"
– The Floating Log is in fact closed, so the Shirriffs take Frodo & Co. to a Shirriff-house for the night.
– Sam recognizes one, Robin, and calls him out. Robin explains that all the inns are closed because the Chief doesn't want hobbits travelling freely. Sam is angry and tells Robin to leave his job, but Robin sadly explains that he isn't allowed to quit. Quietly, he says that the Chief's Men come around and drag off anyone who dissents to prison. The Chief has spies among the hobbits as well, and ways of getting news quickly.
– The Sherriff-house is damp and depressing inside, and both supper and the table its served on are gross.

From The Tale of Years:
They are arrested at Frogmorton.

Notes: Oof. I definitely feel bad for Robin. He was just living his life, being a Shirriff when all of the sudden the Chief takes over and makes the Shirriffs oppress their own folk. Hopefully Frodo & Co. can get this all sorted out when they get to Hobbiton tomorrow. ~Tom

October 30, 3019

Hobbits come to the Brandywine Bridge at dark

Shire Reckoning: October 30, 3019 (Winterfilth 30, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Homeward “No trouble by day, nor any sound by night” (~p.7) – RK.ScouringOfTheShire “Let’s sleep and forget it till morning” (~p.3)

Events/Art:
Homeward Bound:
– The travellers get up early the next day (Oct. 30) in order to reach the Shire by night. Butterbur wishes them luck, and warns them that they might find trouble in the Shire.
– As they ride out of Bree, Frodo wonders that Butterbur was talking about. Sam recalls his vision in the Mirror of Galadriel: "'trees cut down and all, and my old gaffer turned out of the Row.'" Gandalf reminds the hobbits that Saruman had an interest in the Shire.
– Gandalf then announces that he will not be coming with them back to the Shire. "'My time is over: it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folk to do so. As for you, my dear friends, you will need no help. You are grown up now … and I have no longer any fear at all for any of you.'"
– Gandalf parts ways with the hobbits at the edge of the Barrow Downs, saying he's going to find Tom Bombadil and have a long talk with him. He leaps off the road on Shadowfax and disappears into the mist of the Downs.
– "'Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together,' said Merry. 'We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.'"
– "'Not to me,' said Frodo. 'To me it feels more like falling asleep again.'"

The Scouring of the Shire:
– By the time the hobbits reach the Brandywine Bridge, it is after dark. They find a new gate on either end of the bridge, and new multi-story houses on the west side of the river (very odd for hobbits).
– The travellers bang on the gate and demand entrance. The gatekeeper tries to tell them 'no admittance between sundown and sunrise' but Sam protests that they are hobbits of the Shire. Then a group of hobbits comes out to inspect them. Merry recognizes one, Hob Hayward, and asks him what the big deal is.
– Hob fearfully informs them that they have orders from the Chief in Bag End to not let anyone through the gate. Frodo is confused, and assumes they are talking about Lotho (Sackville-Baggins). Hob warns them that if they make too much racket, they'll wake the Chief's 'Big Man.'
– Merry gets angry, realizing that the Chief has been hiring ruffians (Big Folk), and climbs over the gate with Pippin.
– Bill Ferny (the nasty guy from Bree), comes out of the guard house and demands that the intruders clear out. Merry pulls his sword and demands that he open the gate. Flustered, Bill Ferny unlocks the gate, and flees into the night. Bill the Pony kicks him on the way out.
– Merry and Pippin ask for a place to stay for the night, but Hob is still unwilling to accomodate them. Eventually, they convince Hob to let them stay in the guard-house. While they eat dinner, Hob tells them about the many rules that have been enforced by the Chief, and how the Chief's men have been stockpiling all the pipe-weed (and other supplies) for themselves.
– Sam is disturbed by the all the talk of rules and restrictions, and suggests that everyone just goes to bed and regroups in the morning.

Other content:
The Barrow Wights, by rain-and-sunshine. A really cool comic based on the chapter Fog on the Barrow Downs. You can use to refresh yourself on what happened last time the hobbits were in the Barrow Downs!
Tom Bombadil is master, by MirachRavaia. Fun art of Tom Bombadil, who the hobbits reminisce about today.

From The Tale of Years:
They leave Bree. The 'Travellers' come to the Brandywine Bridge at dark.

Notes: Something is amiss the Shire! Who could have guessed… Joking aside, it's quite sad to see the hobbits finally reach the home that they have been longing for this whole time, only to see it competely changed. Hopefully what Gandalf says is right, and our heroes can solve this last problem on their own. ~Tom

October 29, 3019

Hobbits stay in Bree

Shire Reckoning: October 29, 3019 (Winterfilth 29, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Homeward “The travellers stayed in Bree” (~p.6) – “events in the Common Room again” (~p.7)

Events/Art:
– The hobbits stay in the Bree on the 29th, attracting many curious visitors. Butterbur is pleased by the increase in business. 
– In the evening, the hobbits politely answer the questions of the inquisitive Bree folk. They remember their previous visit and ask Frodo if he had finished the book he said he was writing.
– At one point, someone asks for a song, but no one wants that, remembering what happened last time (Frodo vanishing).

Notes: Whoops, made a little error yesterday – the hobbits arrive in Bree on Oct 28th, not the 22nd. ~Tom

October 6-28, 3019

Hobbits reach Bree

Shire Reckoning: October 6-28, 3019 (Winterfilth 6-28, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.HomewardBound (start) – “until he had visited Bill in his stable” (~p.6)

Events/Art:
– “‘At last the hobbits had their faces turned towards home.’
– On the day they set out (Oct 6), they cross the Ford of Bruinen and Frodo feels a shadow of pain in his shoulder. It has been a full year since he was stabbed by the Nazgûl on Weathertop.
– The pain subsides, and by the end of the next day, Frodo is feeling merry as ever. The journey goes quickly, and soon they pass by Weathertop. They hurry past, not wanting to linger in its shadow for long.
– When Gandalf and the hobbits near Bree, the wind has brought rain from the West. It’s nearly dark out when the group approaches the south gate. The gatekeeper recognizes Gandalf and lets them in.
– While walking through Bree, Sam wonders what ever happend to Bill (the pony from Bree that he had to leave behind at the gates of Moria).
– The group arrives at The Prancing Pony, and is welcomed in by Nob. Inside, Butterbur is happy to see them, and immediately starts preparing rooms for them. The Prancing Pony is mostly unchanged from the last time the hobbits were here, althogh there are less customers now.
– They notice that Butterbur seems to be worried about something, and he asks to speak with them in private.
– The first clue as to what’s wrong is that when Gandalf asks for some pipe-weed, Butterbur explains that these days they don’t get any pipe-weed from the Shire.
– Over dinner, the group tells the tale their great adventure. Butterbur is more confused than anything, and mostly responds with “‘You don’t say!’“. 
– Butterbur then gives an update on Bree. There hardly come any visitors anymore, and the residents have become more fearful and shut-in. Ever since last year, there has been a huge influx of ruffians and such coming up from the Greenway. In fact, at the end of winter, a group tried to enter Bree and a huge fight broke out. They were repelled, but they still linger outside the town and rob people who enter or exit.
– Gandalf gives Butterbur some hope by informing him that there is a King again, and he will come up the Greeenway soon and set order to the land. Butterbur is skeptical, but Gandalf assures him that Bree will be left alone, and that there is plenty of room in Eriador for everyone.
– Butterbur is still worried about the king, but Sam finally gets it through his head that the King is Strider, Butterbur’s mysterious Ranger friend. Butterbur realizes that Bree may get some benefit out of the new king.
– Eventually, Butterbur remembers to tell them that Bill the Pony in fact returned to Bree. Sam is overjoyed and demands to see him before he goes to bed.

Other content:
North Downs, MatejCadil. Gandalf mentions this place today when explaining the old kingdoms to Butterbur.

From The Tale of Years:
(Oct 6) They cross the Ford of Bruinen; Frodo feels the first return of pain.
(Oct 28) They reach Bree at nightfall.

Notes: Uh oh, turns out the Shire isn’t quite as untouched by the war as the hobbits hoped it would be! Who could’ve guessed… ~Tom

October 5, 3019

Gandalf and the Hobbits leave Rivendell.

Shire Reckoning: October 5, 3019 (Winterfilth 5, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Partings “The next day Gandalf and the hobbits” (~p.15) – (end)

Events/Art:
– Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin take leave of Bilbo and bid farewell to Elrond. 
– Elrond gives Frodo a private message before he leaves: "'I think, Frodo, that maybe you will not need to come back, unless you come very soon. For about this time of the year, when the leaves are gold before they fall, look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire. I shall be with him.'"

From The Tale of Years:
Gandalf and the Hobbits leave Rivendell.

Notes: Finally starting the last leg of the return trip; the Shire is in our sights! ~Tom

October 4, 3019

Hobbits say goodbye to Bilbo

Shire Reckoning: October 4, 3019 (Winterfilth 4, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Partings “When nearly a fortnight had passed” (~p.13) – “with that he fell asleep again” (~p.15)

Music:
The Old Walking Song III, by Tolkien Ensemble.

Events/Art:
– After around two weeks in Rivendell, the weather turns cold and Frodo decides its time to leave. Both Frodo and Sam are really beginning to feel their longing for the Shire. Sam mentions that he's feeling worried about his dad.
– Frodo tells Elrond that they want to leave, and they agree that the hobbits will depart tomorrow morning. Gandalf will come with them, at least to Bree.
– In the evening, the hobbits bid farewell to Bilbo. A particularly senile moment, he gifts Frodo the mithril coat and Sting again, despite having done that last year. He also gives some new presents: a book called Translations from the Elvish for Frodo, a small bag of gold for Sam, and two fancy pipes for Merry ad Pippin.
– Bilbo nods off for a bit. When he wakes up, he asks Frodo: "'what's become of my ring, Frodo that you took away?'" Frodo reminds him that he got rid of it. Bilbo says "'What a pity! I should have liked to see it again. But no, how silly of me! That's what you went for, wasn't it: to get rid of it?'" Then, he vaguely remembers the whole story, and wishes he understood it better. 
– Bilbo sings a new version of his Old Walking Song, replacing the final lines with "'Now far ahead the Road has gone, let others follow it who can! … But I at last with weary feet will turn towards the lighted inn, my evening-rest and sleep to meet.'"
– Before the end of the night, Bilbo remembers to ask Frodo to tidy up his notes and papers. Now that he's feeling so sleepy at the time, he isn't able to finish his book, so he asks Frodo and Sam to finish it for him.

Notes: It's kind of sad how senile Bilbo has become, constantly nodding off and forgetting things. At least Frodo got to spend some quality time with him before returning home. ~Tom

September 21-22, 3019

Hobbits celebrate Bilbo’s birthday in Rivendell

Shire Reckoning: September 21-22, 3019 (Halimath 21-22, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Partings “At last one evening they came over the high moors” (~p.12) – “packing is such a bother” (~p.13)

Events/Art:
– At long last, the company comes to the valley of Rivendell, and enter the House of Elrond. (Sept. 21)
– They immediately look for Bilbo and find him in his small room, sitting by the fireplace. "He looked very old, but peaceful, and sleepy." He greets them cheerfully.
– The next day (Sept. 22) Bilbo's birthday is celbrated in Rivendell.
– During the next few days, the hobbits spend time with Bilbo, recounting their great adventures in the south. He listens as best he can, and takes interest especially in Aragorn's wedding. He was invited, but decided not to come: "'But somehow, when it came to it, I found I had so much to do here; and packing is such a bother.'"

Other content:
A Drinking Song, by the Hobbitons. A fun version of the Hobbit drinking song that was featured way back in the beginning of the book.
Bilbo's Song, by NyaNyaNinichan. A cute version of Bilbo's song from last time we saw him. I think the mood still fits really well with today's scene.

From The Tale of Years:
They return to Rivendell; The hundred and twenty-ninth birthday of Bilbo. *Spoiler redacted*

Notes: I think it's hilarious how Bilbo has become such a stereotypical old man: he sits around sharing stories with his pseudo-family, but is constantly falling asleep. The drastic change from the Bilbo of last year shows how much the Ring had been affecting him, and "stretching" out his life. ~Tom

September 13, 3019

Celeborn and Galadriel depart for Lórien

Shire Reckoning: September 13, 3019 (Halimath 13, 1420)

Pages to read:
– RK.Partings “Next day they went on into northern Dunland” (~p.11) – “I wish I was going back to Lórien” (~p.12)

Events/Art:
– The company travels up through Dunland, and into the southern part of Eregion. Eventually, they come to Caradhras (beneath which are the Gates of Moria).
– Here they rest for a week, and prepare for Galadriel and Celeborn's departure eastward over the mountains and back to Lórien. 
– Gandalf and Elrond spend many nights talking to Galadriel and Celeborn, reminiscing about days gone by and holding council about days to come.
– On Sept. 13, the Lord and Lady of Lórien depart with their people toward the mountains. The others watch them go until they pass out of sight. Frodo sees Galadriel hold aloft her ring of power in farewell.

Trivia/Details:
– According to today's passage, Gandalf, Elrond, and Galadriel do indeed have some sort of telepathy: "For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro." Interpret that how you will…

Other content:
Galadriel – Lady of Light, Norloth. One last portrait of Galadriel.

From The Tale of Years:
Celeborn and Galadriel depart, the others set out for Rivendell.

Notes: The company just keeps dwindling… Almost back to Rivendell now, where we'll finally get to see Bilbo again. And notice: Bilbo's birthday is approaching! (Sept. 22) ~Tom