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Timeline Event

Hobbits encounter the Nazgûl again

Event Type: General

Age: 3rd Age - Ring War

Date: September 24, 3018


An event in Frodo's Departure from the Shire; see that entry for an overview:
The shadows of the trees were long and thin on the grass, as they started off again. They now kept a stone's throw to the left of the road, and kept out of sight of it as much as they could....

The sun had gone down red behind the hills at their backs, and evening was coming on before they came back to the road at the end of the long level over which it had run straight for some miles. At that point it bent left and went down into the lowlands of the Yale making for Stock; but a lane branched right, winding through a wood of ancient oak-trees on its way to Woodhall. 'That is the way for us,' said Frodo.

Not far from the road-meeting they came on the huge hulk of a tree: it was still alive and had leaves...; but it was hollow.... The hobbits crept inside, and... had a light meal, talking quietly and listening from time to time.

Twilight was about them as they crept back to the lane.... Soon the road began to fall gently but steadily into the dusk.... They went abreast and in step, to keep up their spirits. After a time, as the stars grew thicker and brighter, the feeling of disquiet left them, and they no longer listened for the sound of hoofs. They began to hum softly, as hobbits have a way of doing as they walk along....

'Hush!' said Frodo. 'I think I hear hoofs again.'

They stopped suddenly and stood as silent as tree-shadows, listening. There was a sound of hoofs in the lane, some way behind, but coming slow and clear down the wind. Quickly and quietly they slipped off the path, and ran into the deeper shade under the oak-trees.

'Don't let us go too far!' said Frodo. 'I don't want to be seen, but I want to see if it is another Black Rider.'

'Very well!' said Pippin. 'But don't forget the sniffing!'

The hoofs drew nearer. They had no time to find any hiding-place better than the general darkness under the trees; Sam and Pippin crouched behind a large tree-bole, while Frodo crept back a few yards towards the lane. It showed grey and pale, a line of fading light through the wood. Above it the stars were thick in the dim sky, but there was no moon.

The sound of hoofs stopped. As Frodo watched he saw something dark pass across the lighter space between two trees, and then halt. It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow. The black shadow stood close to the point where they had left the path, and it swayed from side to side. Frodo thought he heard the sound of snuffling. The shadow bent to the ground, and then began to crawl towards him.

Once more the desire to slip on the Ring came over Frodo; but this time it was stronger than before. So strong that, almost before he realized what he was doing, his hand was groping in his pocket. But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter. Clear voices rose and fell in the starlit air. The black shadow straightened up and retreated. It climbed on to the shadowy horse and seemed to vanish across the lane into the darkness on the other side. Frodo breathed again.

'Elves!' exclaimed Sam in a hoarse whisper. 'Elves, sir!' He would have burst out of the trees and dashed off towards the voices, if they had not pulled him back.

'Yes, it is Elves,' said Frodo. 'One can meet them sometimes in the Woody End. They don't live in the Shire, but they wander into it in Spring and Autumn, out of their own lands away beyond the Tower Hills. I am thankful that they do! You did not see, but that Black Rider stopped just here and was actually crawling towards us when the song began. As soon as he heard the voices he slipped away.' 1

'What about the Elves?' said Sam, too excited to trouble about the rider. 'Can't we go and see them?'

'Listen! They are coming this way,' said Frodo. 'We have only to wait.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 3, Three Is Company

According to an unpublished Tolkien manuscript (Marquette MSS 4/2/36), it was apparently Khamûl whom the Hobbits saw twice:

Drawn by the Ring [Khamûl] goes to Hobbiton which he reaches at evening on Fri. Sep. 23rd..... [Khamûl] just misses Frodo, and misled by the Gaffers [sic] starts out east again.

[On 24 September he] picks up the Stock Road, and overtakes Frodo at approaches to Woody End — probably by accident; he becomes uneasily aware of the Ring, but is hesitant and uncertain because of the bright sun. He turns into the woods and waits for night.

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, Book 1, Ch 3, Three is Company

1According to Marquette MSS 4/2/36 (The Hunt for the Ring): 'After dark, becoming acutely aware of the Ring, [Khamûl] goes in pursuit; but is daunted by the sudden appearance of the Elves and the song of Elbereth. While Frodo is surrounded by the Elves he cannot perceive the Ring clearly.'

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, by Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull, Book 1, Ch 3, Three is Company

Elena Tiriel 13Jan12

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