Hobbits enter the Old Forest
Event Type: General
Age: 3rd Age - Ring War
Date: September 26, 3018
An event in Frodo's Departure from the Shire; see that entry for an overview:
[They] rode down the slope and disappeared... into the tunnel....
At the far end it was closed by a gate of thick-set iron bars. Merry got down and unlocked the gate, and when they had all passed through he pushed it to again. It shut with a clang....
'There!' said Merry. 'You have left the Shire, and are now outside, and on the edge of the Old Forest.'
'Are the stories about it true?' asked Pippin....
'If you mean the old bogey-stories Fatty's nurses used to tell him, about goblins and wolves and things of that sort, I should say no.... But the Forest is queer. Everything in it is very much more alive, more aware of what is going on..., than things are in the Shire. And the trees do not like strangers.... They are usually content merely to watch you..., and don't do much. Occasionally the most unfriendly ones may drop a branch, or stick a root out.... But at night things can be most alarming.... I have only once or twice been in here after dark.... I thought all the trees were whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language; and the branches swayed and groped without any wind. They do say the trees do actually move, and can surround strangers and hem them in. In fact long ago they attacked the Hedge.... But the hobbits came and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest.... After that the trees gave up the attack, but they became very unfriendly. There is still a wide bare space not far inside where the bonfire was made.'
'Is it only the trees that are dangerous?' asked Pippin.
'There are various queer things living deep in the Forest.... [Something] makes paths. Whenever one comes inside one finds open tracks; but they seem to shift.... Not far from this tunnel there is... the beginning of quite a broad path leading to the Bonfire Glade, and then on more or less in our direction.... That is the path I am going to try and find.'
The hobbits now left the tunnel-gate and rode across the wide hollow. On the far side was a faint path leading up on to the floor of the Forest...; but it vanished as soon as it brought them under the trees. Looking back they could see the dark line of the Hedge through the stems of trees that were already thick about them. Looking ahead they could see only tree-trunks of innumerable sizes and shapes: straight or bent, twisted, leaning, squat or slender, smooth or gnarled and branched; and all the stems were green or grey with moss and slimy, shaggy growths....
'You had better... find that path,' Frodo said to [Merry]. 'Don't let us lose one another, or forget which way the Hedge lies!'
They picked a way among the trees, and their ponies plodded along, carefully avoiding the many writhing and interlacing roots.... The ground was rising steadily, and as they went forward it seemed that the trees became taller, darker, and thicker.... For the moment there was no whispering or movement among the branches; but they all got an uncomfortable feeling that they were being watched with disapproval, deepening to dislike and even enmity....
There was not as yet any sign of a path, and the trees seemed constantly to bar their way. Pippin suddenly... let out a shout. 'Oi! Oi!' he cried.... 'Just let me pass through, will you!'
The others halted startled; but the cry fell as if muffled by a heavy curtain.... [The] wood seemed to become more crowded and more watchful than before.
'I should not shout, if I were you,' said Merry. 'It does more harm than good.'
Frodo began to wonder if it were possible to find a way through... this abominable wood. Merry was looking from side to side, and seemed already uncertain which way to go.... But at that moment Merry gave a whistle of relief and pointed ahead....
'These trees do shift. There is the Bonfire Glade in front of us..., but the path to it seems to have moved away!'....
Suddenly they came out of the trees and found themselves in a wide circular space. There was sky above them, blue and clear to their surprise.... The sun was not... high enough yet to shine down into the clearing.... The leaves were all thicker and greener about the edges of the glade, enclosing it with an almost solid wall. No tree grew there, only rough grass and many tall plants.... A dreary place: but it seemed a charming and cheerful garden after the close Forest.
The hobbits felt encouraged.... At the far side of the glade there was a break in the wall of trees, and a clear path beyond it. They could see it running on into the wood, wide in places and open above, though every now and again the trees drew in and overshadowed it with their dark boughs. Up this path they rode. They were still climbing gently, but they now went much quicker, and with better heart; for it seemed to them that the Forest had relented, and was going to let them pass unhindered after all.
The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 6, The Old Forest
Elena Tiriel 20Jun08