From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1, Chapter 10 Summary
Strider Frodo, Pippin, and Sam make their way to their room. Merry isn't there, and the fire has burned down. In the light of the new fire, they suddenly realize that Strider is sitting among them. Strider asks for only one thing: he wants to come with Frodo and the Hobbits. Frodo wants to know a lot more about Strider before he'll agree to that. Strider tells Frodo he overheard four Hobbits talking to each other just outside of Bree. He knows that Mr. Baggins wants to be known as Mr. Underhill. He's in on the cover-up. He also knows that Black Riders have been passing through Bree in search of Frodo. Frodo's position has become dangerous after his display in the common-room at The Prancing Pony. There are more Riders on the way, Strider is sure of it. Also, not all Bree-folk are to be trusted – Strider names Bill Ferny, who was present when Frodo disappeared. Strider promises that he knows the land they will be traveling well, and he "might prove useful" (1.10.26). He also knows more about the Black Riders than the Hobbits do. So will Frodo let him accompany them? Sam pipes up: "With your leave, Mr. Frodo, I'd say no!" (1.10.30). Sam doesn't believe that Strider is telling them the truth, and he doesn't want Strider to lead them off to some dark place, far from help. He's learned to be modest with his trust. Frodo disagrees: he thinks Strider isn't being honest with them about who he is, but he still seems trustworthy. At this tense moment, Butterbur comes knocking at the door. He has remembered what he had forgotten earlier: someone had told Butterbur to watch out for a Hobbit going by the name of Underhill, whose real name is Baggins, and who might pass through Bree. The person who gave Butterbur this instruction is none other than the Wizard Gandalf. What's more, three months ago, Gandalf also left Butterbur a letter for Frodo, which Butterbur was supposed to send to Hobbiton. Butterbur forgot – he didn't mean to, but hey, what can you do. The instruction Gandalf gave Butterbur was to help Frodo in any way that he can. So Butterbur tells Frodo that, just that Monday, two creepy fellows all in black asked after Baggins at the inn. Butterbur told them nothing, but he knows that they have been asking after him as far away as the village of Archet. When Butterbur finds out that Strider has found Frodo, he warns Frodo not to go off with a Ranger. He thinks Frodo should just hang out at The Prancing Pony for a while. Of course, Frodo can't do this, nor can he explain what all this business is with the Black Riders. Strider finally tells him, "They come from Mordor [...] From Mordor, Barliman, if that means anything to you" (1.10.59). The mere mention of the name Mordor terrifies Butterbur, but he agrees to help Frodo as best he can. Butterbur won't tell anyone about Frodo's real identity; though he does say once more that it's a shame Frodo had to draw attention to himself, especially after Pippin's tale of Bilbo's disappearance. People are starting to put two and two together, unfortunately. Butterbur asks where Merry has gone off to. Frodo is worried: it's getting late, and Merry still hasn't turned up. Butterbur wishes them good night. Frodo opens his letter from Gandalf: in it, Gandalf tells Frodo to leave the Shire by the end of July at the latest (oops – he left in late September). He also warns Frodo not to use the Ring at all, ever (double oops). He wants Frodo to travel with Strider, whose real name is Aragorn. Frodo wants to know why Strider (sorry, Aragorn) didn't tell him right away that he is Gandalf's friend. Aragorn replies that they would never have believed him. He also kind of wanted them to trust him on his own merits. It's a matter of pride! Sam is still suspicious: how do they know this is the same Strider Gandalf mentions in his letter? Aragorn answers that Sam can't know; he can only trust that if Aragorn had wanted to take the Ring, he could have done it by now. He swears, "I am the real Strider, fortunately [...] I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will" (1.10.84). Then he quotes a line from a poem that appeared in Gandalf's letter about him: " All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost" (1.10.86). The poem also mentions a sword that was broken. Aragorn draws the sword from its scabbard to show them that it is, indeed, broken about a foot below the hilt. Aragorn wants them to make for Weathertop, which is a hill about halfway between Bree and Rivendell. He's also worried about Gandalf, since this is the first time since he's known him that Gandalf has gone missing. Frodo wonders if the Black Riders have stopped Gandalf from coming. Aragorn tells Frodo not to give up hope – Gandalf is a great Wizard, after all. The door slams, and Merry comes running in, followed by Nob. Merry has seen the Black Riders in Bree. He saw one disappear near a row of houses, and he overheard two voices, one muttering and one hissing. Then Merry lost consciousness. Nob is the one who found him, lying just near Bill Ferny's house. When Nob woke him, Merry rushed back to The Prancing Pony as quickly as he could. Aragorn tells Merry that he fainted before the Black Breath. He also breaks the news that the Black Riders will know all about Frodo now, since Bill Ferny has surely sold Frodo out. The Hobbits should not to go back to their bedrooms. Aragorn takes Nob and goes to gather their luggage. Nob stuffs their beds with pillows and musses up the blankets, and the Hobbits decide to spend the night on the parlor floor. They talk for a while, and the other Hobbits bring Merry back up to speed before they fall asleep.
People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...