|The Return of the King chapters|
Homeward Bound is the seventh chapter of the sixth book in The Return of the King.
The Hobbits are nearing home. On the 6th of October, a year since Weathertop, Gandalf asks if Frodo feels much pain. Frodo answers that he has been wounded by a knife and by the other torments of his long and heavy burden. Gandalf is silent. The next day, Frodo feels better, and they travel onward in relative ease. They arrive at Bree and speak to Barliman Butterbur, the innkeeper who aided them early in the quest. Butterbur, after welcoming them and making them comfortable by the warm fire, tells Gandalf and the Hobbits that their strange warrior gear has scared many locals. Gandalf laughs at this. Gandalf assures Butterbur that now that Sauron has been vanquished, business at the inn will once again pick up, as people will feel more free to travel. Butterbur asks about the dangerous region known as Deadmen’s Dike, which he imagines no one will be visiting. Gandalf asserts that the rightful king will return to that area, and it will become safe and prosperous again. He adds that the king is none other than Aragorn, once known in the inn as Strider. Butterbur is astonished at this news.
The next day, business in the inn is brisk, as many visitors, unable to restrain their curiosity, come to gawk at Gandalf’s party. Many people ask Frodo whether he has written his memoirs yet. Finally, the Company sets off. Gandalf tells the hobbits that he will not accompany them to the Shire. His horse, Shadowfax, makes a leap, and Gandalf is gone. Frodo remarks that it feels as though he is falling asleep again, his adventures now over.