Three is Company

From Tolkien Gateway
Peter Xavier Price - Meeting with the Elves.jpg
Three is Company
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
EventFrodo, Samwise, and Pippin journey through the Shire and meet Gildor.
Date23-24 September 3018
LocationThe Shire
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Three is Company is the third chapter of the first book in The Fellowship of the Ring.

In this chapter Frodo Baggins leaves Hobbiton with Samwise Gamgee and Peregrin Took, headed for Crickhollow. Along they way they evade a Black Rider, and later meet a party of Elves led by Gildor Inglorion.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Frodo and Gandalf conclude their conversation about The One Ring. Frodo decides to leave The Shire immediately after his upcoming fiftieth birthday (22 September, T.A. 3018). Gandalf suggests heading to Rivendell. Gandalf also suggests coming up with some plausible excuse to leave the Shire, and obfuscating the direction of the intended voyage in order to confuse any pursuers.

With the help of his cousin Meriadoc "Merry" Brandybuck, Frodo purchases a small house in Crickhollow, publicly pretending that he plans to settle there permanently. He then sells Bag End to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins. Rumour around Hobbiton suggests that Frodo has run out of money and had to go live with his relatives. Some others insist that Frodo is only leaving because of some dark plot perpetrated by Gandalf.

Gandalf stays at Bag End for two months while Frodo prepares. In late June of 3018 he suddenly announces that he'll be leaving immediately to go look into something beyond the southern borders of the Shire - refusing to specify what. He promises Frodo that he'll be back by 22 September; however, by September there's been no sign of him. Fredegar Bolger, Folco Boffin, Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck help Frodo pack up his belongings, and on 22 September Frodo holds a small birthday party for them at Bag End.

By next morning, Gandalf has not yet arrived. Frodo decides to wait until nightfall, but no further. In the meanwhile, Merry and Fatty ride out to Buckland with the last of the packs, to get the house ready in advance of Frodo's arrival. Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her son Lotho come to Bag End, even though it would not be theirs until midnight. They receive Frodo's spare key and leave in a huff. Frodo has one last meal at the house with Pippin and Sam before sundown. Sam has arranged to go with Frodo to Crickhollow under the pretense that he will be helping Frodo with his new garden for a while.

Frodo takes one last stroll outside, hoping that Gandalf might suddenly appear. He overhears Gaffer Gamgee speaking with some unknown, shrill-voiced individual. The Gaffer tells the unseen stranger that Frodo has already sold the house and gone off to Bucklebury. Frodo, Sam and Pippin leave Bag End after dark, through the fields instead of the main road.

The party heads out of Hobbiton, climbing a hill overlooking the town where Frodo gives it a final farewell. The party continues on in the direction of the Bucklebury Ferry, until at Pippin's insistence they finally stop to sleep in the roots of a large fir tree.

The next morning the Hobbits continue onward along a narrow road. At lunch, Frodo spontaneously begins to sing "The Road Goes Ever On", though he doesn't know how or why he remembers the words.

By the afternoon, the three Hobbits reach Woody End. Behind them on the road, Sam hears a horse or pony approaching. Not wanting to be seen by strangers, Frodo resolves to hide from sight; reasoning that if it happens to be Gandalf coming, they could surprise him. The three Hobbits hide on the sides of the road - though for a moment Frodo feels some unexplained reluctance to do so. A large black horse appears on the road, ridden by a large man wrapped in black cloaks, his face shrouded in deep shadow under a black hood. The horse stops very near to Frodo, and the man appears to sniff the air as if searching for a scent. Frodo is almost tempted to use the Ring to disappear from sight, but before he can do so the rider hurries his horse up the road and disappears.

Frodo and Pippin wonder where the rider had come from and what he was looking for. Sam pipes up, saying that he'd talked with his Gaffer the previous night, and was told that a man had come around to ask questions about "Baggins". Sam says that the man described by the Gaffer seems to match the description of this rider. Frodo laments not waiting for Gandalf, but then realizes that waiting any longer might've put him in even more danger.

The Hobbits continue along the road, but keep their distance from it. After nightfall their fears begin to wane, and they sing a walking song that Bilbo had once written. Suddenly, they once again hear hooves, and again dive for cover. A shadowy figure on a horse appears on the road, sniffing the air. It seems to fall off its horse to sniff the ground where the Hobbits had stood moments before, and then starts crawling directly towards Frodo's hiding place. Frodo feels an even stronger urge this time to put on the Ring, groping at it in his pocket. At that very moment they all hear the sounds of song and laughter. The dark figure quickly withdraws to its horse and disappears into the trees.

Sam exclaims that these are the voices of Elves, and nearly goes running towards them before being stopped by the other two Hobbits. The voices approach, with one voice being heard more clearly above the others as it sings the Elven Hymn to Elbereth. Frodo recognizes the name of Elbereth and concludes that these are High Elves. The Hobbits remain hidden and let the Elves pass, seeing them as though bathed in mysterious moonlight on a moonless night. The Elf bringing up the rear then stops and addresses Frodo by name, wondering what Hobbits might be doing along the road at this time of the night.

Frodo asks the Elf how he knows his name. The Elf introduces himself as Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod, and says that his party are some of the last Exiles remaining in Middle-earth, wandering the land, destined to some day leave across the Great Sea. He tells Frodo that the Elves had observed him with Bilbo on occasion, though he never noticed their presence.

Frodo asks whether the Hobbits could walk with the Elves for company. The Elves laugh at this proposal, calling Hobbits "dull". Pippin suddenly interjects and asks the Elves to tell them about the Black Riders. The Elves turn serious as they hear the account of the Hobbits' encounters with two such riders. They tell the Hobbits to accompany them to a hill overlooking Woodhall, where they can sleep safely through the night. Gildor beseeches the Hobbits not to speak any secrets. Frodo thanks Gildor and utters a blessing in Quenya that he had learned from Bilbo:

"Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo, a star shines on the hour of our meeting."
Frodo Baggins

The party proceeds in complete silence towards the hill Gildor spoke of. Sam is overtaken with joy at finally meeting Elves. They finally reach the hill and make camp. The Hobbits quickly fall asleep as the Elves converse among themselves in hushed voices.

Suddenly, the Elves burst into song and the trees glow with the light of a fire. The Hobbits are awoken and taken to a clearing in the wood, resembling a great hall of trees. The Elves dance and sing around a fire, providing the Hobbits with exquisite foods and a clear and golden draught. Frodo continues to impress the Elves by speaking what few words he knows in Quenya. Pippin quickly falls asleep again, and is placed by the Elves in a soft bed. Sam refuses to leave Frodo, falling asleep at his feet.

Frodo has a long conversation with Gildor. They speak of current events and history, and Gildor even mentions that he'd seen Bilbo twice since he left the Shire, though he does not elaborate. Gildor seems to have a general sense of Frodo's mission, though he doesn't know any of the details. He refuses to explain the Black Riders, arguing that if Gandalf hadn't told Frodo about them, he might be better off not knowing just yet. Frodo complains about the sudden danger that has overcome his homelands, but Gildor reminds him that he shares his land with creatures who had been there much longer than Hobbits.

"The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourself in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
Gildor Inglorion

Frodo tells Gildor that Gandalf has missed the rendezvous and has not been seen for quite some time, asking Gildor for advice on how to proceed. Gildor becomes quite worried at this news, but tells Frodo that it is his decision whether to wait or continue on. Frodo retorts with an old saying:

"Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes."
Frodo Baggins

This amuses Gildor, who finally relents and tells Frodo that he should probably continue on his way as soon as possible. He urges Frodo not to go on alone. He still refuses to explain the Black Riders, but stresses the danger that they pose as "servants of the Enemy". When Frodo asks Gildor for reassurance, Gildor replies:

"Courage is found in unlikely places."
Gildor Inglorion

Gildor dubs Frodo an "Elf-friend", and promises that any passing Wandering Company of Elves will watch over him and render assistance if they can. Frodo becomes sleepy, and is guided to a soft bed next to Pippin's, where he falls soundly asleep.