HASA Resources

Character Bios

Bill Ferny

Location(s): Bree

Race/Species: Man

Dates: late Third Age

Description:

A man of Bree, who was corrupted by the Nazgûl during the War of the Ring.
'I thought, well, that [Big People] were just big, and rather stupid: kind and stupid like Butterbur; or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. But then we don't know much about Men in the Shire....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 1, Many Meetings

'And there are some folk in Bree who are not to be trusted,' [Strider] went on. 'Bill Ferny, for instance. He has an evil name in the Bree-land, and queer folk call at his house. You must have noticed him among the company: a swarthy sneering fellow. He was very close with one of the Southern strangers.... Not all of those Southerners mean well; and as for Ferny, he would sell anything to anybody; or make mischief for amusement.'

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

'I found him, sir,' put in Nob. '... Just nigh Bill Ferny's house I thought I could see something in the Road.... it looked to me as if two men was stooping over something, lifting it. I gave a shout, but where I got up to the spot there was... only Mr. Brandybuck lying by the roadside. He seemed to be asleep.'....

'I am afraid that's true,' said Merry, '... I went to pieces. I don't know what came over me.'

'I do,' said Strider. 'The Black Breath. The Riders must have left their horses outside, and passed back through the South-gate in secret. They will know all the news now, for they have visited Bill Ferny; and probably that Southerner was a spy as well. Something may happen in the night, before we leave Bree.'....

'But their power is in terror, and already some in Bree are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work: Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, the gatekeeper too.'

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

Bob came back with the report that no horse or pony was to be got for love or money in the neighbourhood — except one: Bill Ferny had one that he might possibly sell. 'A poor old half-starved creature it is,' said Bob; 'but he won't part with it for less than thrice its worth, seeing how you're placed, not if I knows Bill Ferny.'

'Bill Ferny?' said Frodo. 'Isn't there some trick? Wouldn't the beast bolt back to him with all our stuff, or help in tracking us, or something?'

'I wonder,' said Strider. 'But I cannot imagine any animal running home to him, once it got away. I fancy this is only an afterthought of kind Master Ferny's: just a way of increasing his profits from the affair. The chief danger is that the poor beast is probably at death's door. But there does not seem any choice. What does he want for it?'

Bill Ferny's price was twelve silver pennies; and that was indeed at least three times the pony's value in those parts. It proved to be a bony, underfed, and dispirited animal; but it did not look like dying just yet. Mr. Butterbur paid for it himself, and offered Merry another eighteen pence as some compensation.... He was an honest man...; but thirty silver pennies was a sore blow to him, and being cheated by Bill Ferny made it harder to bear.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

The southern travellers had lost several horses and blamed the innkeeper loudly, until it became known that one of their own number had also disappeared in the night, none other than Bill Ferny's squint-eyed companion. Suspicion fell on him at once.

'If you pick up with a horse-thief, and bring him to my house,' said Butterbur angrily, 'you ought to pay for all the damage yourselves and not come shouting at me. Go and ask Ferny where your handsome friend is!'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

But as they drew near to the further gate, Frodo saw a dark ill-kept house behind a thick hedge: the last house in the village. In one of the windows he caught a glimpse of a sallow face with sly, slanting eyes; but it vanished at once.

'So that's where that southerner is hiding!' he thought....

Over the hedge another man was staring boldly. He had heavy black brows, and dark scornful eyes; his large mouth curled in a sneer. He was smoking a short black pipe. As they approached he took it out of his mouth and spat.

'Morning, Longshanks!' he said. 'Off early? Found some friends at last?' Strider nodded, but did not answer. 'Morning, my little friends!' he said to the others. 'I suppose you know who you've taken up with? That's Stick-at-naught Strider, that is! Though I've heard other names not so pretty. Watch out tonight! And you, Sammie, don't go ill-treating my poor old pony! Pah!' He spat again.

Sam turned quickly. 'And you, Ferny,' he said, 'put your ugly face out of sight, or it will get hurt.' With a sudden flick, quick as lightning, an apple left his hand and hit Bill square on the nose. He ducked too late, and curses came from behind the hedge. 'Waste of a good apple,' said Sam regretfully, and strode on.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

[Strider] was taking a wandering course with many turns and doublings, to put off any pursuit.

'Bill Ferny will have watched where we left the Road, for certain,' he said; 'though I don't think he will follow us himself. He knows the land round here well enough, but he knows he is not a match for me in a wood. It is what he may tell others that I am afraid of.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 11, A Knife in the Dark

[They] put Frodo on the pony. In the last few days the poor beast had improved wonderfully; it already seemed fatter and stronger, and had begun to show an affection for its new masters, especially for Sam. Bill Ferny's treatment must have been very hard for the journey in the wild to seem so much better than its former life.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 12, Flight to the Ford

When they came to Bill Ferny's house they saw that the hedge there was tattered and unkempt, and the windows were all boarded up.

'Do you think you killed him with that apple, Sam?' said Pippin.

'I'm not so hopeful, Mr. Pippin,' said Sam.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Homeward Bound

'And there was trouble right here in Bree, bad trouble. Why, we had a real set-to, and there were some folk killed, killed dead!'....

'And Harry Goatleaf that used to be on the West-gate, and that Bill Ferny, they came in on the strangers' side, and they've gone off with them; and it's my belief they let them in. On the night of the fight, I mean. And that was after we showed them the gates and pushed them out:....

'And now they're gone for robbers and live outside, hiding in the woods beyond Archet, and out in the wilds north-away.... It isn't safe on the road.... We have to keep watchers all round the fence and put a lot of men on the gates at nights.'

'Well, no one troubled us,' said Pippin....

'[It's] no wonder they left you alone. They wouldn't go for armed folk, with swords and helmets and shields and all. Make them think twice, that would.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Homeward Bound

Merry and Pippin climbed the gate [at the Brandywine Bridge].... Another horn sounded. Out of the bigger house on the right a large heavy figure appeared against a light in the doorway.

'What's all this,' he snarled as he came forward. 'Gate-breaking? You clear out, or I'll break your filthy little necks!' Then he stopped, for he had caught the gleam of swords.

'Bill Ferny,' said Merry, 'if you don't open that gate in ten seconds, you'll regret it. I shall set steel to you, if you don't obey. And when you have opened the gates you will go through them and never return. You are a ruffian and a highway-robber.'

Bill Ferny flinched and shuffled to the gate and unlocked it. 'Give me the key!' said Merry. But the ruffian flung it at his head and then darted out into the darkness. As he passed the ponies one of them let fly with his heels and just caught him as he ran. He went off with a yelp into the night and was never heard of again.

'Neat work, Bill,' said Sam, meaning the pony.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 23Oct05, 24Nov05, 21Apr08

Related Library Entries

Characters Search

      

View all Bios

Things

No related things

Go to Things

Full Text Search


Search runs slowly