Archive for the ‘4 – A Short Cut to Mushrooms’ Category

And now it’s pouring. Oops.

Don’t worry! Today is all about…

No, really. Stay tuned.

So it’s raining, yes. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin are trudging through the woods, and it’s taking longer than expected. Pippin feels like it should have been shorter, but we tend to not like him, so whatever. They go on for a few miles, and then the rain lets up a little. They stop for lunch under a tree. To their surprise, the elves have left them some sort of drink in their bottles. Naturally, it’s delicious. They forget all about their worries and have a wonderful time. Frodo starts to take a nap, and Sam and Pippin sing a song together. Suddenly, an evil wail!

YES, but no.

Something screams. Something. Somewhere. Screams. Even worse? It’s answered by another. Somewhere. The hobbits are LIKE REALLY FREAKING SCARED.

Okay, wait, what hallucinogenic drugs did the elves give them? At first, our heroes are tired and anxious, then they drink and are suddenly relaxed and happy. All of a sudden they hear a terrifying scream cut across the countryside. IT’S IN THEIR MINDS, MAN. The elves are screwing with them. The only thing keeping me from absolutely believing this is that I know for a fact it’s not true. These are Ringwraiths screaming. OH NOES!

Let’s get to something pleasant, fast. The hobbits stop for lunch! Yay! Whatever the elf-drink does, it at least makes them happy, and Sam and Pippin sing us a song!

Sing us a song? A song, you say? A song, I say!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Sam and Pippin sing this song, and I’m pretty sure they make it up on the spot. Way to go, guys!

Their creation goes like this:

“Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go

To heal my heart and drown my woe.

Rain may fall and wind may blow,

And many miles be still to go,

But under a tall tree I will lie,

And let the clouds go sailing by.”

You see, it’s literally what they’re doing at the moment. They compose on the run, and I present:

Resting Time

(Closing Time – Semisonic)

YEAH ’90s! The song seems to start out as if it were a drinking song, but it really isn’t. “Closing Time” is about a bar’s closing for the night. So, yeah, the drinking-nature makes some sense. What more can you expect?

“‘If it was a bird, it was one that I never heard in the Shire before.'”

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So, Frodo has this plan. Will it work out perfectly?


The idea is to go through some woods, then hit open country and make a beeline for Bucklebury Ferry. It’s about eighteen miles. It goes sour pretty much right away. The woods and thickets are thicker than Frodo expected, and he, Sam, and Pippin have to fight through bramble patches. After hacking their way through to the bottom of the embankment they’re following, they find a stream. It’s too slippery and steep to go over, and Pippin feels validated in his concerns. As they stop to figure out what to do next, Sam glances behind them, where he can see the top of the bank that they just climbed down. What does he see in the distance? A horse, with a black figure next to it. Uh oh. Time to go. Frodo admits that Pippin was right: the short cut is going to go crooked, but Frodo knew that the black riders would find them either way. He can’t get down to them with his horse, so Frodo assumes they are safe for the moment, and they follow the stream as best they can. They hit an open field, and scurry over the stream when it evens out. Breaking into some more tree-cover, it starts to rain.

They’re going on a bear black rider hunt! Oh look! It’s a stream! Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around through it! Got to go through around it!

Real story. Actually about a bear hunt.

First Mentions:

-the Stock-brook: River that this stream turns into. Undoubtedly runs to Stock. Pippin says to cross it, INSTEAD of following it to Stock, and really good beer.

You know, they probably could have crossed the stream if they didn’t mind getting dirty and all, but they’re HOBBITS. Hobbits are nitpicky, awful little creatures. Would it be difficult to cross the stream? Yes, but it probably could be done, right? All it would take is a little effort, something these hobbits tend to lack. I’ll be less critical when they’re trekking across Mordor. Seriously, this is the Shire. Suck it up.

Granted, there’s a creepy black rider lurking above them, framed by trees. No big deal. These guys are so lucky that horses can’t climb down steep slopes. That’s probably saving their lives right now. Honestly, the fact that this entire quest isn’t blown up in the very beginning is a lucky miracle. Although, if there are nine black riders about looking for Frodo, why aren’t they just camped out along every possible way to Buckland?

Yep, being lazy. As usual.

Things are heating up, what with the rain and all. We’re going to see a chase soon, I’m pretty sure. Here’s an ominous last line of the page:

“Then the wind died…”

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While on the last page we got to see Sam growing up and having a meaningful conversation with Frodo, today we get Pippin being immature and argumentative.

Frodo decides that he’s ready to go, and Pippin ribs him for taking so long. Frodo says that he intends to cut through the country instead of taking (or following alongside) the road, which Pippin wholeheartedly disagrees with. Commence squabbling. Pippin thinks the country is too boggy to cut across; it will only take longer. Besides, the chances of running into a black rider don’t seem to change that much. Frodo shoots back, saying that the riders are expecting him to be on the road, so they might as well stay away from it. Pippin still argues that he wants to stop at an inn in Stock. They have great beer! Frodo says no. Inns will only delay them further. Pippin begrudgingly agrees to follow along anyway, and so does Sam, although he wants some beer too.

I can haz beer?

They set out, the sun beating down just as hot as the previous day, and start to make their way around Woodhall to the north.

First Mentions:

-the Marish: Region of the Shire noted for its bogs. See! It’s like “marsh”, but not.

-the Golden Perch: Inn in Stock. Said to have the best beer in the Eastfarthing. Does it come in pints?

For all the love we had for Sam yesterday, Pippin is just being lame. Yes, I think he actually cares more about beer than the possibility of capture and/or death at the hands of the black riders.

Beer or death?

Sam, meanwhile, is playing his cards right. He wants to stop and get some beer, but he’s sticking with Frodo, through thick and thin. If Frodo wants to go through the marshes and skip out on beer, Sam’s going with him. That’s sacrifice.

So what kind of beer is this? Let’s debate. If it’s supposed to be “the best”, what constitutes “the best” for hobbits? Ale? Stout? Clove undertones that fade away into a smooth and refreshing sip? For some reason, I get this feeling that hobbits like their beer darker. Not sure why. Not dark like a Guinness, but maybe something more like a Dragon’s Milk. I’m not just saying that because it has “dragon” in the name. Have you ever had a Dragon’s Milk? Stuff of legend. Anyway, who knows? Maybe hobbits like Busch Light. That would be sad for them.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:


So we soldier on. Hopefully these marshes aren’t confusing and deadly. We get plenty of those later.

“Their course had been chosen to leave Woodhall to their left, and to cut slanting through the woods that clustered along the eastern side of the hills, until they reached…”

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Remember those times in Harry Potter when everyone was joking about how angsty Harry was?

Bonus points if you remember Potter Puppet Pals.

Well, these are those times for Frodo.

Frodo is sitting, worrying about whether or not he really wants to drag Sam (and any of his other friends) into this mess he’s found himself in. Sam is sitting, creeping on him, so Frodo asks him if he still wants to come. I mean, he’s seen elves already, so there really isn’t a draw anymore, right? Sam disagrees. The elves told him that he should stay with Frodo as long as he can. And really, there’s some other reason drawing him to stick it out. You know, whatever that is. Frodo is alright with this. Sam is a good friend.

Yes, Sam is a good friend. Although, we let him sleep on the ground last night. Let’s not forget that.

Okay, so wait…Sam did talk to the elves? I thought he had the social capacity of a small child. He apparently talked to them enough for them to encourage him to stick with Frodo and protect him. This is a change from the fact that I thought he was mumbling incoherently all night. Congratulations, Sam, you might have something going for you after all.

I’m pretty sure that the quote that Sam gives from the elves, “Don’t you leave him! they said,” is what he says at the end of the Fellowship movie, as he’s climbing into the boat with Frodo after escaping from Amon Hen. Good re-purposing. Considering they originally cut this meeting with Gildor and the elves in the Shire from the theatrical cut, they needed to put that sentiment in there somewhere. It’s actually an important part of Sam’s character development. He goes from: “Ooh! Elves!” to wanting to protect Frodo for some higher reason. That’s good.

Yep, this one's for you, Samwise.

Honestly, this is a big moment for Sam. It kind of feels glossed over. I didn’t even realize the kind of change he undergoes here until I read it through a second time. I’m sure most readers miss that. It’s, like, a mature decision. Up to this point, we’re not really shown that Sam is capable of those.

“Then standing up he looked over the land ahead, and called to Pippin.”

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We begin Chapter 4 the next morning, still unclear of where Sam slept.

Some preteen girl wishes it were with her.

Frodo wakes up. Sam is sitting out on the grass and Pippin is watching the sky. The elves have gone, but left some food behind for the hobbits. Frodo begins eating while Pippin asks him about EVERYTHING. What’s the plan? What did Gildor say about the black riders? Anything? Anything at all? Frodo gets fed up (naturally) with Pippin and yells at him to leave him alone. Pippin shuffles away while Frodo continues worrying about their journey ahead.

WHY IS PIPPIN SO INFURIATING?! He’s literally asking any question possible, and Frodo doesn’t really have any answers beyond that he hopes to make it to Bucklebury as soon as they can. Pippin already tried asking the elves about the black riders, and it went poorly, as we know. Frodo tried to subtly get an answer from Gildor later, but that didn’t work either. STEP OFF, PIPPIN! Let the hobbit eat!


I can’t tell in the narration if Pippin is mad at Frodo because Frodo snaps at him, or if it’s because Frodo is already grumpy by breakfast-time. This is unclear. Aren’t we all a little grumpy at breakfast-time?

It’s actually noted that Pippin doesn’t seem to be worried about the black riders anymore: “Under the morning sun the prospect of seeing a whole troop of them did not seem very alarming to him.” Are you serious? You, Peregrin Took, can’t possibly not be afraid of those things anymore. And a “whole troop”? Really? You’ve only seen one at a time, and you think you could handle all NINE of them? (Not that he knows there are nine, but still.) You’d be dead before you could say Witch-King.

Sam is sitting, stupidly happy. WHERE DOES HE GET IT FROM?

Although, after Frodo snaps at Pippin, Pippin goes off and sings. What?

“‘To take them into exile, where hunger and weariness may have no cure, is quite another -…'”

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