A Short Cut to Mushrooms

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A Short Cut to Mushrooms
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
EventFrodo and company come to Farmer Maggot's house; they move on and find Merry.
Date25 September 3018
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A Short Cut to Mushrooms is the fourth chapter in the first book of The Fellowship of the Ring.

In this chapter, the Hobbits cut across country and end up on Farmer Maggot's land. The farmer welcomes them home for dinner, then takes them the rest of the way to Bucklebury Ferry, where they run into Merry who'd been out looking for them.

Summary[edit | edit source]

When Frodo, Sam and Pippin get up the next morning, they find that the Elves had already gone, leaving breakfast for them. Frodo thinks aloud about leaving the other Hobbits behind in The Shire to avoid dragging them to exile with him, but Sam proclaims his desire to continue the journey together. Frodo warns him that they both might never come back. In response, Sam tells Frodo what he'd told the Elves the previous night:

"If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain. [...] I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with."
Sam Gamgee

He also expresses a deeper feeling of purpose; that there is something he feels he must do before the end.

Frodo wants to cut across country straight to the Bucklebury Ferry. Pippin tries to convince him to go through Stock, saying that the countryside in this area is too difficult to traverse.

"Short cuts make long delays."
Peregrin Took

However when Frodo figures out that Pippin is actually just arguing for a stop at the Golden Perch in Stock, he makes up his mind to avoid it altogether, and the party sets out towards the Ferry immediately.

Both Frodo and Pippin quickly turn out to have been correct. On the one hand, they run into impassable hedges; but on the other, they narrowly evade a Black Rider that had been looking for them closer to the road. They take a long route around the obstacle, and eventually stop to rest, discovering that the Elves had filled their bottles with the same liquid they'd drunk the previous night. Soon enough, the Hobbits are cheerful again, and sing Ho! Ho! Ho! To the Bottle I Go.

The song is cut short when they hear an unnatural wail, not far off. It is answered by another, more distant wail. The Hobbits quickly pack up and continue the journey, looking for a clear path towards the Ferry. Eventually they find themselves having gone too far - deep in the farmlands of Buckland. Soon they find a gate into a tended field, which Pippin recognizes as Bamfurlong: Farmer Maggot's land.

Frodo confesses his trepidation about the old farmer, explaining that Maggot had once caught him stealing mushrooms and beaten him, then instructed his dogs to eat Frodo if he ever came back. Pippin laughs this off, promising that Maggot is a friend to all Brandybucks, and especially to Merry.

The party enters the property towards the farmhouses, and is beset by Maggot's large dogs. However, the farmer quickly recognizes Pippin and calls the dogs off. Maggot explains that a suspicious stranger had crossed his fields that day and asked him some strange questions, putting the farmer and his dogs on high alert. He is very surprised when Pippin introduces Frodo, cryptically saying that the arrival of a Baggins is very peculiar indeed. He quickly invites the party into the house to talk further.

Mrs. Maggot serves the party an excellent beer. Maggot reveals that he does remember Frodo stealing his mushrooms years ago, but quickly shrugs it off as a bygone. Instead, he is more interested in describing his encounter with the suspicious stranger earlier. He explains that the stranger was clad in black, and rode in on a black horse. Maggot's dogs were scared of him. The stranger asked Maggot the whereabouts of "Baggins", and even offered the farmer gold in exchange for letting him know if "Baggins" comes through. Maggot angrily told the stranger off, and even threatened to unleash his dogs, causing the rider to turn away and disappear down the road.

Maggot chastises Frodo for having left Buckland to live in Hobbiton. He blames Frodo's current problem on Bilbo's adventures, correctly guessing that someone has finally come looking for the treasures that Bilbo had brought back with him. He advises Frodo to stay in Buckland; but also guesses that Frodo has a mind to go elsewhere, and that he fears crossing the countryside at night towards the Ferry.

Frodo admits to having unjustifiably feared Maggot and his dogs for decades.

"I've been in terror of you and your dogs for over thirty years, Farmer Maggot, though you might laugh to hear it. It's a pity: for I've missed a good friend."
Frodo Baggins

Despite Frodo's desire to continue on as soon as possible, Maggot instead offers the Hobbits dinner, promising to take them the rest of the way to the Ferry by wagon. Frodo and his friends have dinner with Maggot's family and a few Hobbits who'd joined impromptu. When they're done, Maggot's sons prepare the wagon, and Mrs. Maggot bids them farewell.

Maggot and the three Hobbits continue by wagon along the road to the Bucklebury Ferry, lanterns turned off. After a tense but uneventful five-mile journey, they reach the Ferry and disembark. They suddenly hear hooves on the road behind them, and the Hobbits prepare to fight a Black Rider as Frodo hides in the wagon. Instead, the hooves turn out to be Merry Brandybuck, who had come down the road to look for his missing friends.

Maggot bids the other Hobbits farewell as he turns his wagon back onto the road. Before leaving, he presents them with a basket prepared for them by Mrs. Maggot. As Maggot rides away, Frodo is delighted to discover that the basket is full of fresh mushrooms.