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The Council of Elrond takes the entire morning of October 25th.
It’s explicitly stated that ‘the noon-bell rang’ as everyone sat silent, near its end, pondering the question of who would carry the Ring south. By counting back minutes and hours from that moment—reading the speeches of the Council aloud with a stopwatch, and guessing about the duration of the discussions whose words are not recounted—we can reach reasonable guesses about which phases of the Council belonged to which hours of the morning.
Gandalf brings Frodo and Bilbo to one of the east porches of Rivendell for the Council of Elrond.
Boromir, who arrived at dawn after a journey of nearly sixteen weeks from Gondor, gazes at them in wonder—are these the ‘Halflings’ of the rhyme for which he made this journey?
Elrond tells the long story of the One Ring, from its forging in the Mountain of Fire, to its betrayal of Isildur at the Gladden Fields. Frodo is startled to learn that Elrond himself marched with Gil-Galad in the Last Alliance against Sauron, more than three thousand years ago.
Elrond calls first upon Bilbo, and then upon Frodo, to tell of their history with the Ring—from Bilbo’s riddles beneath the Misty Mountains to Frodo’s long journey to Rivendell.
Bilbo whispers, ‘You would have made a good story of it, if they hadn’t kept on interrupting.’
Elrond now asks Gandalf to speak. ‘I call upon him last, for it is the place of honour, and in all this matter he has been the chief.’
The wizard describes an ancient scroll in Gondor. It revealed how the One Ring can be known: when heated, its gold will glow with fiery letters.
Gandalf recounts the story of Gollum, from his finding the Ring more than five hundred years ago to his recent capture by Aragorn.
Legolas, a woodland Elf, is dismayed: he’s been sent by his father to report that the Wood-elves were recently attacked—and that Gollum has escaped.
Gandalf finishes the story of his capture by Saruman the White, his escape, and his journey to Rivendell. ‘Well, the Tale is now told, from first to last. Here we all are, and here is the Ring. But we have not yet come any nearer to our purpose. What shall we do with it?’
With all voices having spoken, Elrond resolves that the Elves must not flee west with the Ring. ‘Now at this last we must take a hard road, a road unforeseen. There lies our hope, if hope it be. To walk into peril—to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.’
Bilbo offers to take the Ring to Mordor. ‘It is plain enough what you are pointing at. Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it, or himself.’
Gandalf gently refuses his offer.
Bilbo asks if the Council can please adjourn for lunch.
The noon-bell rings. A silence. Frodo speaks. ‘I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.’
Elrond answers, ‘If you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great.’
Elrond cautions Frodo that, ‘It is a heavy burden. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right; and though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them.’
Sam cries out, ‘But you won’t send him off alone, surely, Master?’ Elrond appoints Sam the first member of the Company that will go with Frodo.
Sam sits back down. ‘A nice pickle we have landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo!’
The Council of Elrond is over.
As the hobbits begin their several-week stay in Rivendell, the main narrative grants us a glimpse of only one brief conversation about the road ahead before lapsing into silence for the rest of October, November, and most of December.
Elrond sends scouts to learn whether the Nazgûl lurk near Rivendell. Bilbo notes that this will delay the journey until winter starts:
‘When winter first begins to bite
and stones crack in the frosty night,
when pools are black and trees are bare,
’tis evil in the Wild to fare.’
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