The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1, Chapter 3 Summary
Three is Company
Gandalf warns Frodo that he has to leave the Shire soon. Frodo decides to leave on September 22nd, his fiftieth birthday.
(Bilbo was also fifty years old when he set out on his adventure sixty years before, when he first discovered the Ring.)
Gandalf warns Frodo that it can't be any later.
Frodo's first stop should be the Elf stronghold of Rivendell, and he's happy about this: "I will take Sam to visit the Elves; he will be delighted" (1.3.13).
The news soon passes around the Shire: Frodo Baggins has sold Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses.
No one can figure out why he would leave his lovely Hobbit hole.
He is supposed to be moving back to Buckland (his pre-adoption-by-Bilbo home) in the autumn.
Frodo even has his cousin Merry buy him a house in Buckland to make this story look believable. They really thought this one out.
At the end of June, Gandalf leaves the Shire to get news; he says he won't be gone long, but Frodo starts to worry when Gandalf doesn't turn up as autumn arrives.
Frodo's friends arrive at Bag End to help him pack, and still, Gandalf doesn't return to the Shire.
On Frodo's birthday, he holds his usual feast for his four helpers (Folco Boffin, Fatty Bolger, Merry, and Pippin).
He doesn't know how to tell his cousins that he is about to leave.
The next day, Merry and Fatty Bolger drive a cart with Frodo's luggage to his new house.
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her son, Lotho, arrive to take the keys of Bag End.
Frodo, Pippin, and Sam have a last cup of tea before leaving bag End behind.
As Frodo is taking a last walk around his home, he hears voices: Sam's father, the Gaffer, and an odd voice asking after "Mr. Baggins" (1.3.36).
The Gaffer tells the owner of the odd voice that Frodo has moved away.
Frodo calls for Sam and Pippin and they set off at last.
When Frodo passes the border of Hobbiton, he turns and waves goodbye to it. He thinks fondly, "I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again" (1.3.52). We hope he will. We're kind of attached to him at this point.
Frodo, Sam, and Pippin camp out that night.
The next morning, as they find themselves back on the road, Frodo suddenly bursts into song: "The Road goes ever on and on/ Down from the door where it began ..." (1.3.72).
He doesn't remember where he has heard it before, but it seems appropriate to their present travels.
(As readers, we know this is the same song that Bilbo sang when he set out to Rivendell years before, after his eleventy-first birthday).
The sun is setting when Sam suddenly says, "I can hear a pony or a horse coming along the road behind" (1.3.77).
Frodo doesn't want to be seen, so he asks Sam and Pippin to get out of sight. They lie flat and wait for the rider to pass.
Around the corner comes a black horse, much too big for any Hobbit to ride. The rider is wearing a long cloak; they cannot see his face.
Frodo feels a strong desire to put on the Ring, but he remembers Gandalf's warning not to use it. He leaves the Ring in his pocket. Now that's willpower.
The rider passes on, and Frodo, Sam, and Pippin emerge from hiding.
Frodo admits that he thinks that rider was looking for him.
Pippin doesn't understand – what would the Big People want with a Hobbit like Frodo?
Sam tells Frodo what the Gaffer told him: "There's been a strange customer asking for Mr. Baggins of Bag End, and he's only just gone [...] Hissed at me, he did [...] He was tall and black-like, and he stooped over me. I reckon it was one of the Big Folk from foreign parts. He spoke funny" (1.3.91).
Frodo worries that the rider seems to be able to smell him somehow. He wants them to keep moving, but not on the road – it's not safe.
The sun sets and the three Hobbits sit down for dinner.
Frodo recites a little poem about adventure: "Home is behind, the world ahead,/ And there are many paths to tread/ Through shadows to the edge of night,/ Until the stars are all alight" (1.3.104).
The fun doesn't last long; they hear more hoofbeats and have to hide again.
Frodo hears the sound of snuffling and sees a black shadow.
He wants desperately to put on the Ring.
Frodo almost does it, but then he hears clear voices: Elves! Sam is thrilled: he has never seen Elves before.
The Elves are singing about an Elven star (and/or lady): "Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!/ Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath" (1.3.117).
Frodo is amazed. These are High Elves, who rarely come to the Shire.
Frodo, Pippin, and Sam come out of the shadows.
One of the Elves greets Frodo, commenting, "You are abroad late. Or are you perhaps lost?" (1.3.120).
Frodo won't tell the Elves his business.
The head Elf, Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod, tells the Hobbits that they are a group of Elves wandering for a time before they follow their people across the Sea. They have kin in Rivendell.
Pippin interrupts, "O Wise People! [...] Tell us about the Black Riders!" (1.3.128).
Troubled, Gildor invites Frodo, Pippin, and Sam to walk with his company.
They go to Woodhall, where the Hobbits eat and drink. Sam is happy as a clam surrounded by Elves.
And Frodo does his best to speak to them in their own language, which impresses Gildor and his friends. Elvish isn't the easiest language on the planet.
After Sam and Pippin fall asleep, Frodo talks to Gildor about the Black Riders, but he refuses to tell Frodo more about what they are, since Gandalf hasn't.
Gildor worries that it is a bad sign that Gandalf hasn't arrived yet when he promised he would. He warns Frodo that the Shire is no longer safe, and that he must hurry to Rivendell.
Although Gildor is reluctant to advise Frodo, he finally says that, if Gandalf doesn't arrive, Frodo should set out at once with "such friends as are trusty and willing" (1.3.167).
Gildor also calls Frodo Elf-Friend: "Seldom have we had such delight in strangers, and it is fair to hear words of the Ancient Speech from the lips of other wanderers in the world" (1.3.171).