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September 26, S.R. 1418 (T.A. 3018)

The Tale of Years offers the quick summary ‘The Old Forest. Frodo comes to Bombadil’ for this rather busy day, which occupies not only the entire chapter ‘The Old Forest’ but also the first pages of ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 4:29 am

More than an hour before dawn, Frodo’s new house at Crickhollow is already busy. Sam is making breakfast, Pippin is packing, and Merry is waking Frodo—from a dream about an elven-tower near the Sea. Merry goes to the stable to saddle the ponies.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 7:16 am

After an hour’s ride from Crickhollow, the five hobbits reach the gate in the Hedge. Fredegar says goodbye and returns to the house, where he will keep up the appearance that Frodo is living there.

Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and their ponies enter the Old Forest.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 10:41 am

‘O! Wanderers in the shadowed land
despair not! For though dark they stand
all woods there be must end at last
and see the open sun go past:
the setting sun, the rising sun,
the day’s end, or the day begun.
For east or west all woods must fail—’

A branch crashes behind them.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 11:38 am

After several hours’ travel through the dark forest, the hobbits find a bare hilltop on which to have lunch. In the haze they can see no end to the forest, but to the south they do glimpse a landmark: the valley of the Withywindle.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 3:44 pm

For several hours the hobbits have been trying to force their way north to the Road, but the Old Forest’s deep ruts and thick brambles keep turning them south. Now they find that they’ve reached the bank of the River Withywindle. They follow its valley upstream, to the east.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 5:11 pm

The hobbits have struck a path along the river. It brings them to a willow-grove. They are suddenly sleepy.

An ancient willow traps Merry and Pippin in its trunk and nearly drowns Frodo before Sam—who’s still awake—pulls Frodo out from under the root that holds him under water.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 5:35 pm

Sam and Frodo threaten the willow with fire, but Merry and Pippin scream that it has started crushing them. Then—a song? From back west behind them they hear:

‘Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!’

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 6:28 pm

After rescuing the hobbits from Old Man Willow, Tom danced away upstream ahead of them. Hurrying along behind, they reach his house and hear Goldberry welcoming them with song.

‘Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 26 · 10:47 pm

After song, drink, dinner and talk, the hobbits are given soft bedding. ‘Sleep till the morning-light, rest on the pillow! Heed no nightly noise! Fear no grey willow!’

Frodo dreams of a great eagle carrying Gandalf away from a high tower—his rescue by Gwaihir eight days ago.

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