Many Meetings

From Tolkien Gateway
Many Meetings
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
Number13
Synopsis
EventFrodo wakes in Rivendell; he learns about the Black Riders.
Date24 October 3018
LocationRivendell
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Many Meetings is the first chapter of the second book in The Fellowship of the Ring.

In this chapter, Frodo awakes at Rivendell and is reunited with Gandalf and the other Hobbits. He is invited to a feast in his honor, where he meets Glóin and hears many news of the Dwarves. He also observes Arwen. After the meal, he is reunited with Bilbo, who is still sick with longing for The One Ring.

Summary

When Frodo Baggins awakes, he sees Gandalf for the first time in months. The old Wizard tells him that it is 24 October; that he is in the house of Elrond at Rivendell; and that his other friends are fine.

Frodo cannot remember how he arrived at Rivendell. Gandalf explains that Frodo was beginning to fade due to the evil wound he'd suffered at Weathertop. Gandalf seems to know much about Frodo's journey thus far, explaining that Frodo talks in his sleep. Frodo asks Gandalf where he'd been all this time, but the only thing Gandalf is willing to reveal for now is that he was held captive.

Gandalf tells Frodo that war is about to break out; the Black Riders he'd encountered were in fact the Ringwraiths - the Nine kings of Men he had previously told Frodo about - who received rings from Sauron and became his servants. Gandalf says he had not learned that they were coming for Frodo until after he'd left The Shire.

Frodo says they wouldn't have made it without Strider's help. He'd previously thought all Men were either kind and stupid like Barliman Butterbur or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. Gandalf stands up for Butterbur:

He is wise enough on his own ground. He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time. But there are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn. The race of the Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end. It may be that this War of the Ring will be their last adventure.

Gandalf continues to explain that the Rangers are the last remnants of the Men of the West in the North of Middle-earth, and have helped Gandalf before. He hopes they will help again in the future, given that The One Ring's journey is not over yet. Frodo hopes he won't have to carry it any further.

Frodo discovers that his shoulder wound no longer hurts, and he can move his arm a little. Gandalf explains that Elrond has been tending to Frodo for days, and only managed to remove the splinter of the Morgul-knife from his shoulder the previous night. He says that had the shard not been removed, Frodo would have become a wraith himself, under the command of the Dark Lord. He marvels at the mettle and courage of Hobbits, to have carried the shard for 17 days without succumbing.

Frodo says he could see the Ringwraiths' true forms while he was wearing the Ring, but wonders how everyone could see their black horses. Gandalf explains that the horses were real, bred for that purpose to serve Sauron. He lists the many different types of creatures under Sauron's command, saying that their numbers are growing.

Frodo asks whether Rivendell is safe. Gandalf replies that it would be the last place to fall, as the Elves will not submit to Sauron. He says that Rivendell is home to some of the Elven-wise, who live in both the seen and unseen worlds simultaneously, and can therefore fight the Ringwraiths.

Frodo surmises that the glowing white figure he saw behind the Ringwraiths at the Ford of Bruinen was Glorfindel, as he appears on the "other side". Gandalf confirms this, calling him "one of the mighty of the Firstborn, an Elf-lord of a house of princes". Nevertheless, he says that even Rivendell and other places of great power (including The Shire) would eventually come under siege if all else around them falls to Sauron.

Gandalf examines Frodo with his magical sight, and sees a hint of transparency about him. He wonders to himself what will become of Frodo, but guesses that he would not fall to evil. He hopes that Frodo would eventually become "like a glass filled with clear light for eyes to see that can."

Frodo asks Gandalf to explain what happened at the Ford. Gandalf retells the story more clearly, adding that Glorfindel had the others prepare flaming brands to drive the remaining Black Riders into the river, after the first three had drowned. Frodo inquires whether the Ringwraiths have been vanquished for good. Gandalf explains that only the horses perished; the Ringwraiths cannot be defeated so easily, but have gone away for now.

Frodo asks what caused the flood. Gandalf says that it was Elrond, commanding the river that runs through his domain. Gandalf adds that the waves taking the shape of white horses and riders was his own personal touch.

Gandalf tells Frodo that he will be treated to a great feast to celebrate this victory, honoring Frodo as the Ring-bearer and heir to Bilbo, the Ring-finder. Frodo wonders what happened to Bilbo, wishing he could tell him of the last month's adventures. He falls asleep.

Frodo wakes that evening feeling much better. He examines himself in a mirror, discovering that he had thinned. Sam enters, quickly running to hold Frodo's hand, which he is glad to find warm for the first time in days. He raves about the Elves for a while until Frodo asks him to provide a tour of Rivendell. Sam takes Frodo to the gardens, where he is reunited with Pipping and Merry.

Hurray! Here is our noble cousin! Make way for Frodo, Lord of the Ring!

Gandalf chides Pippin for that epithet, saying that only the Master of the Dark Tower of Mordor is the Lord of the Ring.

The group goes to the hall of Elrond's house, where they meet many other guests. Frodo observes Elrond for the first time, noting that he is both venerable and youthful. At the dinner table he also sees Arwen Undómiel, Elrond's daughter, who is described to us as both queenly and thoughtful. The narrator explains that she had recently returned from Lórien, and that her brothers Elladan and Elrohir are currently away on an errand.

Next to Frodo at the table is a dwarf with a white beard. The dwarf introduces himself as Glóin, and Frodo recognizes him as one of Thorin's twelve companions. Glóin is curious what brings four Hobbits to Rivendell, but correctly guesses that the matter should not yet be discussed. Similarly, he refuses to discuss what bring him to Rivendell, until the time is right.

From Glóin, Frodo learns that Grimbeorn the Old, son of Beorn, is now master of the lands between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains, and holds it fast against the Orcs. Glóin laments that the Beornings now charge a heavy toll for passage through their land, and do not like Dwarves. He also tells of the Men of Dale, who've become strong allies to the Dwarves. Dale is now ruled by Brand, grandson of Bard.

With Frodo's permission, Glóin tells many stories about current events in the land of the Dwarves. He says that Dáin Ironfoot is still king of Erebor, and that seven of the Dwarves that took the Mountain are still with him, including Bombur who has grown incredibly fat. However when Frodo inquires about the fates of Balin, Ori and Óin, Glóin regretfully says that he does not know; it is one of the reasons he came to Rivendell, to ask for counsel on the matter.

Glóin continues to extol the virtues of the new Dwarven kingdom under the Mountain: the Dwarves have exceeded their former skills in architecture, but have yet to be able to produce the same quality of weapons and armor as they did before the coming of Smaug. Frodo promises to visit Erebor if he gets the chance. Glóin mentions Bilbo, and Frodo says he wishes to see his uncle again more than anything.

After dinner, the guests are shown to the Hall of Fire. Frodo spots Bilbo sitting alone in the corner. Bilbo tells Frodo that he and Sam sat together by Frodo's side throughout his recovery. At Bilbo's bidding, messengers are sent to find Strider (whom he calls "the Dúnadan"), who was missing from the feast.

Bilbo says that his journey out of Hobbiton was aimless at first, but seemed to lead him always towards Rivendell. He then joined up with Dwarves and went back to Dale - his final journey - before returning to Rivendell again, where he stayed.

Bilbo speaks about The One Ring, lamenting that he hadn't kept it and brought it to Rivendell himself, saving Frodo the trouble. He asks to see the Ring. Frodo discovers that the Elves had replaced its chain with a lighter, stronger one. He pulls out the Ring, but when Bilbo puts his hand out to take it, Frodo suddenly gets the urge to keep it away from Bilbo. For an instant he sees Bilbo as a gaunt, hungry creature, and feels a desire to strike him.

The hall suddenly goes quiet. Bilbo seems suddenly to understand the power of the Ring, and asks Frodo to put it away. He apologizes for having burdened Frodo with carrying on the adventure. Frodo puts the Ring away, and the hall is once again filled with music and merriment.

Frodo tells Bilbo many stories from The Shire. As they talk, Strider suddenly appears. Bilbo explains that the name he calls Strider - "Dúnadan" - means Man of the West. He asks Strider why he'd missed the feast, mentioning that Arwen was present. Strider says that Elladan and Elrohir had returned from their errand with important news, which he wanted to hear as soon as possible.

Bilbo asks for Strider's help in writing a song to cap the evening's celebration. While they discuss it, Frodo begins to lose himself in the music and singing of the Elves in the hall, as it carries him to sleep. He is awakened to hear the voice of Bilbo, who starts singing his new song. The song is very long, and by the time it is over, Frodo sees that many Elves had gathered around to hear it.

An Elf named Lindir asks to hear the song again, but Bilbo is too tired to repeat it. Lindir says that Bilbo is never too tired to repeat his own songs, causing Bilbo to chastise him for not noticing that Strider had written several of the verses. Lindir claims that it is difficult for Elves to distinguish between two mortals, much to Bilbo's dismay.

To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different. Or to shepherds. But Mortals have not been our study. We have other business.

To Frodo, Bilbo admits to have written the entire song; Strider wanted nothing to do with writing songs about Eärendil in Elrond's house. Bilbo suggests going to talk in private, and they both turn to leave. As they exit the hall, one of the Elves begins to sing the hymn A Elbereth Gilthoniel. Frodo looks back into the hall, briefly seeing Arwen again, with Aragorn standing beside her; he appears to Frodo as though wearing Elven mail, with a star shining on his breast. Arwen looks at Frodo, and he is instantly enchanted.

Bilbo leads Frodo to his room, and they talk for hours about the beautiful things they had seen during their separate adventures. Their conversation is only interrupted when Sam appears, begging his master to go to sleep, as a council has been scheduled for the next morning. Before saying goodbye for the night, Bilbo laments that he might not live to see what becomes of Frodo's story.

Composition

The chapter is the 13th of the published Fellowship, but during writing it was "Chapter 12" of the work so far.[1] The "Chapter 12" was completed by the end of 1938.[2][note 1]

The chapter was revised around 1940-1941, when Tolkien decided that Aragorn was the Heir of Elendil, and Bilbo's telling to Frodo of Aragorn's background was added at that stage; there are also early versions of the Song of Earendil (evolved from the earlier Errantry).[3]

Notes

  1. In The Lord of the Rings Foreword (second edition, 1966) Tolkien claims that "the tale had not yet reached the end of Book One" by 1939, but this seems to be a mistake while recollecting his writing process.

References