What mysterious, terrible place will the hobbits find themselves in next? What could be worse than this forest of horrors?
Nope. Not Limbo. Not yet, anyway. Gandalf will hang there for a little bit later. The hobbits find themselves stuck in a new hollow, steeper than the others so far. They have no choice but to follow it as it slopes downward, and begins to form a small stream. Suddenly, sunlight breaks out, and they find themselves in a cleft of a high cliff. Before them stretches a valley. A similar cliff is on the other side, and in the middle is a winding river. Willows are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. To no one’s surprise, Merry recognizes this as the Withywindle, and goes to check things out up ahead. As it turns out, the ground is firm enough to walk on, and there’s even a path heading somewhat eastwards. That should get things going back in the right direction. Pippin is skeptical, and suspicious of the path. Merry doesn’t exactly feel confident in the plan, but it’s all they have to go on.
So the Withywindle? Not so bad after all. In fact, it’s more of a paradise. Golden afternoon sun is pouring down on the valley, and the willow leaves are a beautiful yellow flying through the air. This is the kind of place I would want to end up in. What’s with that? Why are there so many stories about the river being mysterious, when in reality it seems pretty nice? Too early to tell? Maybe. I’m sure we’ll see in terms of what happens to the hobbits as they travel along the path.
And who is making all these paths? Pippin voices that question here. Is it a certain friend that we’re bound to meet pretty soon whose name may or may not be extremely similar to Bom Tombadil?
Face it, no single character in Lord of the Rings is as intriguing and ripe for debate as Tom Bombadil. I’m pretty sure I’ll have plenty of that when we get to him. For now, we can just wonder as to whether or not he has anything to do with funneling the hobbits along this route. You never know.
In the meantime, the most interesting man in Middle-earth is probably Gandalf. Anyone remember him? He’s still missing, you know. And how about them black riders? Our hobbits aren’t so scared of them anymore now that they have the Old Forest to deal with.
“There being nothing else for it, they filed out, and Merry led them…”