Chapter Four: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

Frodo woke up in a tree’s trunk, the elves were no where to be found from the night before they had spent with them. The elves had left them food. The plan was for them to head for Bucklebury. Pippin asks Frodo if he talked to Gildor, the elf, about the Riders they had run from. Frodo responds, saying that he did, which then Pippin asks if he talked with Gildor about the sniffing. “I’m sure it is very important.” Pippin said. We can see that Tolkien had meant to draw attention to that fact, therefore the sniffing is important.

Frodo worries about Sam, and he tries to convince Sam to go back by telling him about how dangerous it is going to be. Sam proceeds to explain how the elves told him not to leave Frodo, which surprises Frodo.

Already Sam is beginning to change. Frodo can see it in him, even though he looks just as his old self. Sam talks about the elves, speaking deeply about things Frodo didn’t expect to hear from his young friend. Just being in the presence of elves affected Sam, though he didn’t quite expect the elves to be what they turned out to be.

Sam tells Frodo that he now desires to keep going forward, not because of his previous desire to see elves, or dragons, but because he feels it is right. He doesn’t quite understand why, but he knows that he must. He feels like there is something he needs to do before the end.

After Frodo finishes breakfast, the three hobbits discuss their path ahead. Frodo makes an effort to avoid the road, even if it means walking through bogs. Pippin, who was the one arguing against it, finally agrees, stating that he will follow Frodo wherever he chooses to go.

The hobbits struggle through banks and bogs, getting caught up and stuck. As Pippin turns to look back in the direction they had come, he sees a horse and a dark figure standing beside it. The short cut did take a long time, but at least they avoided the black rider.

The detour takes much longer than anticipated, Pippin begins to complain again. Frodo, however, doesn’t want to get out into the open just yet.

At lunchtime, the hobbits begin to sing loudly, but are cut off suddenly by a piercing, evil scream, which is then answered by another. Frodo jumps up. Frodo understood, somehow, that there were words in the call, but he didn’t understand the meaning. All of them immediately think of the black riders, but do not speak of it aloud.

Before long, they stumble on Farmer Maggot’s farm; Pippin recognized it. They are getting close to where they want to go. Frodo sees the matter as another trouble. Pippin and Sam are confused at the statement. They believe farmer Maggot to be a good old friend and wonder why Frodo would think it a trouble to stumble on his land.

The reason for Frodo’s comment was from a childhood experience. When he was young, he would steal mushrooms from the farm. One day, Maggot showed Frodo to his dogs and told them to watch out for him. Frodo had been terrified of him and his dogs ever since. Pippin laughs and tells Frodo he will have to get over it, if he is to live in Buckland.

As they near the farm house, they hear Maggot call out to his dogs and they stop in fright, all except for Pippin. Farmer Maggot comes into view and simply asks what they are up to, and he recognizes Pippin right off. He tells Pippin he was just about to set his dogs out on strangers, due to the strange folk that had been wandering around.

Pippin asks to whom he is referring, and he tells him about the black rider he had seen.

Frodo mentions his fear of the dogs, and Maggot tells him they are harmless unless told to harm. When Pippin introduces Frodo as Mr. Baggins, it intrigues Maggot who tells them to come inside his home.

They go inside and discuss how they had come into Maggot’s land without his knowing, which they explain. The reason Farmer Maggot perked at the mention of Baggins was because of what the black rider had asked him.

Maggot tells the hobbits his whole conversation he had with the rider. It was much like that of all the others that had seen riders. The black rider had wanted to find a Baggins, but he knew that the only Baggins had left. The rider offered to give Maggot gold if he told him when he saw Frodo, he did not accept.

Maggot for some reason mentions all the rumors he had heard about the Baggins’. He tells Frodo he should have stayed in Buckland and he is smart to be coming back.

Farmer Maggot realizes it was not chance that brought the rider and Frodo through on the same day. Frodo laughs that he had been so scared of Maggot for thirty years and he wishes he hadn’t, for he could have had another good friend. Maggot realized that Frodo was probably planning on going to Buckleberry Ferry without being caught, which he is right about.

Frodo takes some convincing to stay for supper, only at the suggestion of Maggot taking them to the ferry by wagon does he accept.

As they ride the wagon, they don’t turn any light on. They worry that light will attract unwanted attention. It becomes very cold and the hobbits can’t even warm themselves by bundling up. They finally reach the ferry.

Suddenly they hear a horse coming. Frodo gets down and hides under blankets. Farmer Maggot demands to know the rider’s business. The rider says they are looking for Mr. Baggins, but it isn’t a rider at all! It’s Merry Brandybuck!

Merry tells them he had been looking everywhere for them. He had worried they had fallen in a ditch and thought they would never show up. After explaining how Maggot came to find the hobbits, Maggot tells them he best be off to go home.

Just before Maggot heads home, he hands Frodo a basket. Frodo laughs when he sees it is full of mushrooms.

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