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September 27–28, S.R. 1418 (T.A. 3018)

To the events of main narrative that are recounted in the chapters ‘In the House of Tom Bombadil’ and ‘Fog on the Barrow-Downs’, we can add two updates about Gandalf’s progress, thanks to the Tale of Years entries for these two dates:

  1. Gandalf crosses Greyflood. Second night with Bombadil.
  2. The Hobbits captured by a Barrow-wight. Gandalf reaches Sarn Ford.

For the details and times of day of Gandalf’s ride, let’s provisionally adopt the timeline offered by Marquette MSS 4/2/33 as quoted in the Hammond and Scull note for pages 262–3.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 27 · 12:47 am

In the still hour after midnight and under the cover of darkness, Gandalf and Shadowfax cross the river Greyflood at the ford of Tharbad. They are now only two days south of Hobbiton.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 27 · 7:23 am

It’s pouring rain. Tom says this is Goldberry’s washing day, so the hobbits stay indoors and listen for hours to his lore—which seems not only to embrace every beast and bird and tree, but to be unimaginably ancient. ‘Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 27 · 9:49 pm

After supper, Tom Bombadil asks to see the Ring. Frodo is startled that Tom can wear it without becoming invisible.

Tom advises the hobbits to travel north tomorrow so as to pass the Barrow-downs and reach the Road. They sleep for a second night safe under his roof.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 28 · 2:41 am

In the small hours of his fifth day of riding, Gandalf reaches Sarn Ford on the southern border of the Shire. He will soon learn from Rangers about the Nazgûl that are searching the Shire—but must rest with Shadowfax before tackling the hundred remaining miles to Hobbiton.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 28 · 8:35 am

Tom Bombadil waves his old battered hat as Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin ride away up the slope behind his house. They say farewell to Goldberry when they reach the ridge, then ride their ponies north into the hills and hollows between the Barrow-downs and the Forest.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 28 · 12:31 pm

The four hobbits reach a hilltop and rest. To the north they see the hills ending, and might even see the trees along the Road. To the east are the Barrow-downs, topped by ancient burial mounds.

After having lunch against the cool east side of a standing-stone, they fall asleep.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 28 · 5:34 pm

The hobbits wake. They are still on the hilltop where they had lunch, but now the sun is setting into a heavy fog. They ride north for the Road, putting on their cloaks and hoods against the wet and cold.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 28 · 6:27 pm

The four hobbits become separated in the fog and stray ever nearer the standing stones. Frodo reaches a hilltop beneath the stars. A cold wind blows from the east, a dark figure towers over him, and he is taken by a Barrow-wight.

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