A Conspiracy Unmasked
All of the chapter names are chosen carefully to reveal little. This one intentionally misleads – Merry and Pippin have run a benevolent conspiracy to support their friend.
It starts with a look back at hobbit history. They pass Brandy Hall, home of the Brandybucks. And we get its origins – the Oldbucks who settled Buckland and were viewed as a bit odd by the core of the shire. It was a colonial settlement, though of largely empty lands.
Also a place with dangers, especially from the Old Forrest.
“The Bucklanders kept their doors locked after dark, and that also was not usual in the Shire.”
They find Frodo’s new home, which has many things from his old home, so he hardly feels he has moved.
Frodo starts to explain about what the Black Riders are searching for. But learns that Merry and Pippin have been spying on him, with Sam as an informant before Gandalf caught him. And call it a ‘conspiracy’. Merry had discovered about the Ring’s invisibility powers while it was still Bilbo’s.
They want to follow Frodo – but when will he move? Should they depart or carry on waiting for Gandalf? Wisely, Frodo decides to set out at once and keep it secret for at least a few days. And to go through the Old Forrest, though they are aware that this is dangerous. This is probably wiser than they know: the Riders represent the very opposite of the Old Forrest, the sterility of Mordor where most life has died.
In line with the original plan, Fatty Bolger stays and pretends to be Frodo, even wearing some of his old clothes. Note that he was there when Merry revealed what he knew of the secrets of Bilbo and Frodo, so he has some idea of who the enemy are. In
Meantime, Frodo has a dream that night. He is near the sea, and sees a tall white tower.
“A great desire came over him to climb the tower and see the Sea.”
He has never actually seen the sea. I take this to have symbolic meaning: the sea stands for a wider vision. And he has many dreams later on.
Copyright © Gwydion M. Williams.