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The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Return of the King Book 6, Chapter 9 Summary

The Grey Havens

  • The day after the battle, Frodo goes to Michel Delving to free the prisoners in the Lockholes.
  • His old friend Fatty Bolger, who acted as a decoy for Frodo at his house in Crickhollow to throw the Black Riders off the scent back in The Fellowship of the Ring, is in really bad shape.
  • He was caught leading a band of rebels, and came close to starving to death, so he has to be carried out of the Lockholes by Pippin. 
  • Lobelia Sackville-Baggins is so crushed at the news of Lotho's murder that she gives Bag End back to Frodo and goes to join her family.
  • When she dies the next year, she leaves all of her money to Frodo to be given to hobbits made homeless during the bad year.
  • Will Whitfoot, the mayor, has been in the Lockholes longer than anybody else.
  • He's not in dire straits physically, but he needs some time to recover before he can start his job again, so Frodo takes over as deputy mayor.
  • The only thing he does as deputy mayor is reform the Shirriffs.
  • The job of hunting down the last of the ruffians, on the other hand, goes to Merry and Pippin.
  • Meanwhile Sam is busy repairing and rebuilding the Shire.
  • They soon restore Bagshot Row (now "New Row") and return the Gaffer to his home at Number Three.
  • Sam grieves over all of the lost trees.
  • It takes him a surprisingly long time to remember Galadriel's box of garden earth, but eventually the gift comes in handy.
  • He uses grains of this earth throughout the Shire to replant his beloved trees.
  • Where the Party Tree grew (the big tree where Bilbo made his farewell speech all the way back in The Fellowship of the Ring Book 1, Chapter 1), Sam plants the little silver nut he received from Galadriel along with the garden earth. 
  • When spring comes, the trees grow incredibly quickly, and the little silver nut turns out to be the seed of a mallorn tree, the only one west of the Mountains and east of the Sea. 
  • That year in the Shire is an incredibly good one, all around. Everything is plentiful and bountiful, and, well, nice.
  • At first, Sam and Frodo live at the Cottons' farm, but when the New Row goes up, Sam moves in with his father the Gaffer. 
  • So Sam doesn't know that Frodo gets sick on March 13th, the first anniversary of the attack by Shelob. 
  • When the fit passes, Frodo seems completely normal. 
  • Merry and Pippin help Frodo put Bag End in order. When it's all ready, Frodo invites Sam to move in with him.
  • The problem is, Sam's just about ready to marry Rosie Cotton.
  • Frodo suggests that Sam and Rosie move into Bag End. There's plenty of room for a family.
  • In midsummer, Frodo resigns as mayor, because Will Whitfoot is recovered enough to take over.
  • Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin look dashing as they keep walking the Shire in their finery. Frodo wears his white jewel all the time, and can even be seen holding it in his hand. 
  • While it's a great year, Sam keeps worrying about Frodo. 
  • He notices that the hobbits of the Shire don't give Frodo the admiration they give to Merry and Pippin (and Sam).
  • One day, Sam finds Frodo looking pale and strange.
  • When Sam asks what's up, Frodo tells him, "I am wounded [...] wounded; it will never really heal" (6.9.40).
  • Afterwards, Sam realizes this funny spell came on October the 6th: two years after the Morgul-blade wound at Weathertop.
  • Frodo gets sick again the following March, but he hides it from Sam.
  • After all, Sam is busy with a new addition to the family: his first daughter, Elanor. 
  • Elanor is almost six months old when Frodo comments that Bilbo's birthday is coming up. He'll be 131, a year older than the Old Took.
  • Frodo asks if Sam can join him for quick outing, not more than two weeks. 
  • Over the next day or two, Frodo wraps up his business: he hands his keys over to Sam, and he also gives his buddy Bilbo's book.
  • The book has now been finished by Frodo, with details on "THE DOWNFALL OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS AND THE RETURN OF THE KING" (6.9.58).
  • Frodo leaves the last few pages blank for Sam to complete.
  • On September 21st, they set out on two ponies, and Sam notices Frodo humming lightly.
  • As though in answer, Sam hears the song of the elves: "Gilthoniel, A! Elbereth!/ We still remember, we who dwell,/ In this far land beneath the trees/ The starlight on the Western Seas" (6.9.65).
  • Frodo and Sam stop and watch as many beautiful elves approach—Gildor, Galadriel, and Elrond included.
  • Elrond and Galadriel greet the two hobbits, while Bilbo wakes up from his snooze on the back of a small grey pony.
  • He tells Frodo, "Well, I have passed the Old Took today! So that's settled. And now I think I am quite ready to go on another journey. Are you coming?" (6.9.69).
  • Yep, says our Frodo.
  • At last, Sam understands what's happening: Frodo is leaving the Shire to go to the Grey Havens.
  • Frodo tells Sam that he won't be torn between his adventuring life (i.e. Frodo) and his home life (i.e. Rosie) anymore. 
  • Sam grieves to think Frodo won't get to enjoy the Shire, after all he did to save it.
  • But, in a philosophical moment, Frodo tells his friend, "It must often be so [...] when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them" (6.9.76). 
  • Sam is Frodo's heir, so he will be able to raise his family at Bag End.
  • He will have other children: Frodo, Rosie, Merry, Goldilocks, Pippin, "and perhaps more that I cannot see" (6.9.76). He'll be healed and happy and busy. 
  • Finally, Frodo asks Sam to ride with him to the Grey Havens now, to watch Frodo set out to Sea.
  • When they arrive at Mithlond and the Grey Havens, Cirdan the Shipwright is waiting for them in front of a grey ship.
  • Gandalf arrives because he, too, will be sailing to the West.
  • As the elves prepare to depart, Merry and Pippin arrive in a big ol' rush.
  • Pippin scolds Frodo for trying to slip away again (as he did when he had to leave the Shire in The Fellowship of the Ring). 
  • It turns out Gandalf has told Pippin and Merry that Frodo would be leaving, because he knows that it will be less lonely for Sam to go back to the Shire with his two buds.
  • Frodo kisses Merry, Pippin, and Sam and boards the ship.
  • They watch as the light from the Phial of Galadriel disappears into the distance.
  • And finally, Frodo sails across the High Sea to the West.
  • He smells a sweet fragrance on the air and arrives at "a far green country under a swift sunrise" (6.9.85).
  • Sam, Merry, and Pippin stand on the shore watching for a long time.
  • When they turn around, they do not look back or speak as they ride back to the Shire.
  • Still, once inside the Shire, Merry and Pippin start singing again as they turn off to Buckland. 
  • Sam rides to Bywater and then to the Hill by himself.
  • When he arrives in Bag End, it is warm and golden.
  • Rosie welcomes him and puts Elanor in his lap.
  • And finally, Sam says, "Well, I'm back" (6.9.89).
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