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Harry Goatleaf

Location(s): Bree

Race/Species: Man

Title(s): Gatekeeper at Bree

Dates: late Third Age

Description:

Harry Goatleaf is the gatekeeper at the West-gate of Bree when the Hobbits first arrive:
It was dark..., when Frodo and his companions came at last to the Greenway-crossing and drew near the village. They came to the West-gate and found it shut, but at the door of the lodge beyond it, there was a man sitting. He jumped up and fetched a lantern and looked over the gate at them in surprise.

'What do you want, and where do you come from?' he asked gruffly.

'We are making for the inn here,' answered Frodo....

'Hobbits! Four hobbits! And what's more, out of the Shire by their talk,' said the gatekeeper, softly as if speaking to himself. He stared at them darkly for a moment, and then slowly opened the gate and let them ride through.

'We don't often see Shire-folk riding on the Road at night,' he went on, as they halted a moment by his door. 'You'll pardon my wondering what business takes you away east of Bree! What may your names be, might I ask?'

'Our names and our business are our own...,' said Frodo, not liking the look of the man or the tone of his voice.

'Your business is your own, no doubt,' said the man; 'but it's my business to ask questions after nightfall.'

'We are hobbits from Buckland, and we have a fancy to travel and to stay at the inn here,' put in Merry. 'I am Mr. Brandybuck. Is that enough for you? The Bree-folk used to be fair-spoken to travellers, or so I had heard.'

'All right, all right!' said the man. 'I meant no offence. But you'll find maybe that more folk than old Harry at the gate will be asking you questions. There's queer folk about. If you go on to The Pony, you'll find you're not the only guests.'

He wished them good night, and they said no more; but Frodo could see in the lantern-light that the man was still eyeing them curiously.... He wondered why the man was so suspicious, and whether any one had been asking for news of a party of hobbits.... But there was something in the look and the voice of the gatekeeper that made him uneasy.

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

But there was one swarthy Bree-lander, who stood looking at them with a knowing and half-mocking expression that made them feel very uncomfortable. Presently he slipped out of the door, followed by the squint-eyed southerner: the two had been whispering together a good deal during the evening. Harry the gatekeeper also went out just behind them.

Frodo... did not like the looks of the men that had gone out.

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

[Strider] said in a low voice[,] 'Black horsemen have passed through Bree....'

There was a silence. At last Frodo spoke...: 'I ought to have guessed it from the way the gatekeeper greeted us,' he said.

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

'But [the Riders'] 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. They had words with Harry at West-gate on Monday. I was watching them. He was white and shaking when they left him.'

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

'Come in!' [the Gate-keeper] said, unlocking the gate. 'We won't stay for news out here in the cold and the wet.... But old Barley will no doubt give you a welcome at The Pony, and there you'll hear all there is to hear.'

'And there you'll hear later all that we say, and more,' laughed Gandalf. 'How is Harry?'

The Gate-keeper scowled. 'Gone,' he said. 'But you'd best ask Barliman. Good evening!'

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

'And there was trouble right here in Bree.... 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....

'They wouldn't go for armed folk.... Make them think twice, that would.'

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

Contributors:
Elena Tiriel 14Mar08

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