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Timeline Event

Strider offers his services as guide to Frodo

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: September 29, 3018


An event in Frodo's Departure from the Shire; see that entry for an overview:
'[If] you please, Mr. Baggins, I should like a quiet word with you.'

'What about?' asked Frodo, ignoring the sudden use of his proper name.

'A matter of some importance — to us both,' answered Strider.... 'You may hear something to your advantage.'

'Very well,' said Frodo, trying to appear unconcerned.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony

Frodo, Pippin, and Sam made their way back to the parlour.... It was not until they had puffed up the embers [of the fire] into a blaze... that they discovered Strider had come with them....

'Hallo!' said Pippin. 'Who are you, and what do you want?'

'I am called Strider,' he answered: 'and... your friend promised to have a quiet talk with me.'

'You said I might hear something to my advantage...,' said Frodo. 'What have you to say?'

'Several things,' answered Strider. 'But..., I have my price.'

'What do you mean?' asked Frodo sharply.

'Don't be alarmed!... I will tell you what I know, and give you some good advice — but I shall want a reward.'

'And what will that be, pray?' said Frodo. He suspected now that he had fallen in with a rascal, and he thought uncomfortably that he had brought... little money with him....

'No more than you can afford,' answered Strider with a slow smile.... 'Just this: you must take me along with you, until I wish to leave you.'

'Oh, indeed!' replied Frodo, surprised, but not much relieved. 'Even if I wanted another companion, I should not agree to any such thing, until I knew a good deal more about you....'

'Excellent!' exclaimed Strider.... 'You seem to be coming to your senses again.... You have been much too careless so far. Very well! I will tell you what I know, and leave the reward to you. You may be glad to grant it, when you have heard me.'

'Go on then!' said Frodo. 'What do you know?'....

[Strider]... went to the door... and looked out. Then he shut it quietly.... 'I have quick ears,' he went on, lowering his voice, 'and though I cannot disappear, I... can usually avoid being seen.... Now, I was behind the hedge this evening on the Road west of Bree, when four hobbits came out of the Downlands. I need not repeat all that they said to old Bombadil..., but one thing interested me. Please remember, said one of them, that the name Baggins must not be mentioned. I am Mr. Underhill, if any name must be given. That interested me so much that... I slipped over the gate just behind them. Maybe Mr. Baggins has an honest reason for leaving his name behind; but if so, I should advise him and his friends to be more careful.'

'I don't see what interest my name has for any one in Bree,' said Frodo angrily, 'and I have still to learn why it interests you. Mr. Strider may have an honest reason for spying and eavesdropping; but if so, I should advise him to explain it.'

'Well answered!' said Strider laughing. 'But the explanation is simple:

'I was looking for a Hobbit called Frodo Baggins. I wanted to find him quickly. I had learned that he was carrying out of the Shire, well, a secret that concerned me and my friends.

'Now, don't mistake me!' he cried, as Frodo rose from his seat, and Sam jumped up with a scowl. 'I shall take more care of the secret than you do. And care is needed!' He leaned forward and looked at them. 'Watch every shadow!' he said in a low voice. 'Black horsemen have passed through Bree. On Monday one came down the Greenway, they say; and another appeared later, coming up the Greenway from the south.'

There was a silence. At last Frodo spoke...: 'I ought to have guessed it from the way the gatekeeper greeted us,' he said. 'And the landlord seems to have heard something. Why did he press us to join the company?'....

'I would have stopped your going into the common-room, if I could; but the innkeeper would not let me in to see you, or take a message.'

'Do you think he —' began Frodo.

'No, I don't think any harm of old Butterbur. Only he does not altogether like mysterious vagabonds of my sort.... But I hope we shall get to know one another better. When we do, I hope you will explain what happened at the end of your song. For that little prank —'

'It was sheer accident!' interrupted Frodo.

'I wonder,' said Strider. 'Accident, then. That accident has made your position dangerous.'

'Hardly more than it was already,' said Frodo. 'I knew these horsemen were pursuing me; but now at any rate they seem... to have gone away.'

'You must not count on that!' said Strider sharply. 'They will return. And more are coming.... I know these Riders.' He paused, and his eyes were cold and hard. 'And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted,' he went on. 'Bill Ferny, for instance.... He was very close with one of the Southern strangers, and they slipped out together just after your "accident". Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.'

'What will Ferny sell, and what has my accident got to do with him?' said Frodo, still determined not to understand Strider's hints.

'News of you, of course,' answered Strider. 'An account of your performance would be very interesting to certain people. After that they would hardly need to be told your real name. It seems to me only too likely that they will hear of it before this night is over. Is that enough? You can do as you like about my reward: take me as a guide or not. But I may say that I know all the lands between the Shire and the Misty Mountains, for I have wandered over them for many years.... I might prove useful. You will have to leave the open road after tonight; for the horsemen will watch it.... You may escape from Bree, and be allowed to go forward while the Sun is up; but you won't go far. They will come on you in the wild.... They are terrible!'

The hobbits... saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain....

'Perhaps I know more about these pursuers than you do. You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet. Tomorrow you will have to escape.... Strider can take you by paths that are seldom trodden. Will you have him?'....

Sam frowned... at last he broke out:

'With your leave, Mr. Frodo, I'd say no! This Strider here, he warns and he says take care; and I say yes to that, and let's begin with him. He comes out of the Wild, and I never heard no good of such folk. He knows something, that's plain, and more than I like; but it's no reason why we should let him go leading us out into some dark place far from help....'....

'No,' [Frodo] said slowly. 'I don't agree. I think... you are not really as you choose to look. You began to talk to me like the Bree-folk, but your voice has changed. Still Sam seems right in this: I don't see why you should warn us to take care, and yet ask us to take you on trust.... Who are you? What do you really know about — about my business; and how do you know it?'

'The lesson in caution has been well learned,' said Strider with a grim smile. 'But caution is one thing and wavering is another. You will never get to Rivendell now on your own, and to trust me is your only chance. You must make up your mind. I will answer some of your questions, if that will help you to do so. But why should you believe my story, if you do not trust me already? Still here it is —'

At that moment there came a knock at the door. Mr. Butterbur had arrived with candles.... Strider withdrew into a dark corner.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 10, Strider

Elena Tiriel 20Apr08

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