Archive for the ‘9 – At the Sign of The Prancing Pony’ Category

Is everyone against Frodo? No. Absolutely not, but he can’t stop thinking that they are.


Butterbur speaks amiably to Frodo after all the hobbits, men, and dwarves have left, but he is certainly a little displeased with Frodo’s antics. Keep in mind, Frodo did break some mugs. Butterbur says that people in Bree tend to be suspicious of anything out of the ordinary, although he doesn’t doubt that his inn will be full again tomorrow with everyone discussing the strange doings of Frodo. Before Frodo goes up to bed, Butterbur tells him that he would like to talk to him privately, just like Aragorn had said. Frodo heads to his room with a bad taste in his mouth, awaiting the impending discussions with Aragorn and Butterbur.

Yes, let’s not forget that Frodo has a meeting later to talk with Aragorn! I’m sure that conversation will be much more important than whatever Butterbur has to say.

In the meantime, Frodo has ordered their ponies to be ready by 8am tomorrow morning. The plan is to set off early and make it as far as they can. I’m not sure what the typical travel time is from Bree to Rivendell, but don’t forget that that’s where Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are heading.

Because…that’s totally what’s going to happen. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you didn’t know!


And that’s the end of Chapter 9! Double digits, folks, double digits.

“He began to suspect even old Butterbur’s fat face of concealing dark designs.”

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Welcome to the aftermath of Frodo’s sudden disappearance. Things aren’t going so well anymore.

Upon his reappearance, Frodo is immediately scolded by Aragorn. Feigning innocence gets Frodo nowhere, and Aragorn correctly calls him “Mr. Baggins“.

No one disappears that easily, unless...

Strider/Aragorn makes Frodo promise to talk to him later about a matter concerning them both.

On the other side of the room, Butterbur is arguing with his patrons over what exactly happened. One hobbit is trying to explain how Frodo disappeared, but Butterbur isn’t buying it. Butterbur only cares that Frodo pays in the morning. That’s what matters to him. Frodo seizes the opportunity to reveal himself and shouts from the corner, saying that he crawled away quickly and has been talking to Strider. People don’t tend to like this very much either, and shoot him dirty looks as they leave. Only some dwarves and a few men remain, and they go to bed without saying a word to Frodo, Sam, or Pippin.

First Mentions:

-Mr. Mugwort: One of the Mugworts in The Prancing Pony. He’s trying desperately to convince Butterbur of Frodo’s disappearance. What a jerk.

If nothing else, it’s nice to see that Butterbur isn’t overly suspicious of Frodo. Perhaps that’s why Tom Bombadil recommended him so strongly. The guy’s got priorities, and as long as money changes hands, he’s all good. That’s more important to him than the ridiculous events that have transpired in his place of business tonight.

A more buff version of what happened.

By the way, I like to refer to Aragorn by his true name as opposed to Strider, but no one here in Bree seems to know his real name, so on occasion I have to use Strider. I’m trying not to do so too often, since it could get confusing. Sorry if it is.

Tomorrow’s page is the last one of this chapter! I’m enjoying having so much action and so many different people around. In a lot of ways, and I think I brought this up in a way earlier, this scene feels a lot like the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars. It’s a jumping-off point for everything else that’s about to happen.

“The Dwarves and the two or three strange Men that still remained got up and said good night to the landlord, but not to Frodo and his friends. Before…”

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Finally, we have something more to talk about other than the song!

Frodo finishes the final bit of the song we’ve been following now for a few days, and the Bree-landers cheer to hear it again.

Did Frodo have an encore prepared?

So, they sing the song AGAIN, with folks joining in as best as they can. (Don’t worry, we won’t do the whole thing again here…it isn’t written out again anyway.) Frodo gets quite into it himself, dancing around on the table, and jumps high when the cow jumps over the moon in the song. He comes down awkwardly on some mugs, and slips off the table with a crash. The surrounding men and hobbits find this funny, but are taken aback when they see that Frodo has vanished completely! The atmosphere of the tavern changes instantly, and Sam and Pippin find themselves ostracized by the Bree-landers who think that Frodo must be a traveling magician and they are his assistants. Frodo, though invisible, is quite embarrassed, and crawls to the dark corner near Aragorn to take the ring off. He has no idea how the ring slipped onto his finger.

Remember the rant I went on about Frodo needing to grow up a bit? Whoops. Here’s what happens when he acts foolishly.

Yeah you are, Frodo!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

And here it is, the end!

“The round Moon rolled behind the hill

as the Sun raised up her head.

She hardly believed her fiery eyes;

For though it was day, to her surprise

they all went back to bed!”

Epically concluded, I present:

Hobbits Sing pt.3

(Lions Roar – The Hush Sound)

And that’s how it ends. The night ends, and the sun rises, but all the people and various animals at the inn go to bed. Exciting, huh? I do hope you’ve enjoyed this musical journey. When this song began, I was thinking about how long it had been since I’d had to do a song. Then I got hit with a three-day project. Funny, karma, funny.

Of course, the people of The Prancing Pony love the song, and while calling for it again also remark that Butterbur (nicknamed “Barley”) should learn it, and Bob, the hobbit working in the stables, should teach his cat to play the fiddle.

Hidden after all of this is an answer to a question I had asked a long time ago. Does everyone refer to the sun as female? Apparently, elves and hobbits do.

Thank you, strategically placed asterisk!

So, unfortunately, now Frodo has gone and drawn a whole lot of negative attention to himself. HOW ARE YOU GONNA GET YOURSELF OUTTA THIS ONE, PUNK?

I have feelings sometimes.

“He did not like the looks of the men that had gone out.”

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Time for more music!

You've been dancing along with me, right?

The song continues, feeling more and more familiar…

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Here’s the bulk of the lyrics, with one more stanza left for tomorrow:

“The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,

and the cat began to wail;

A dish and a spoon on the table danced,

The cow in the garden madly pranced,

and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,

and then rolled beneath his chair;

And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,

Till in the sky the stars were pale,

and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:

‘The white horses of the Moon,

They neigh and champ their silver bits;

But their master’s been and drowned his wits,

and the Sun’ll be rising soon!’

So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,

a jig that would wake the dead:

He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,

While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:

‘It’s after three!’ he said.

They rolled the man slowly up the hill

and bundled him into the Moon,

While his horses galloped up in rear,

And the cow came capering like a deer,

and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;

the dog began to roar,

The cow and the horses stood on their heads;

The guests all bounded from their beds

and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pong the fiddle-strings broke!

the cow jumped over the Moon,

And the little dog laughed to see such fun,

And the Saturday dish went off at a run

with the silver Sunday spoon.”

Almost there, I present:

Hobbits Sing pt.2

(Lions Roar – The Hush Sound)

Starting to notice it? It’s an extension of the classic nursery rhyme, “Hey Diddle Diddle”! It has all the elements: a cat playing a fiddle, a cow jumping over the moon, a laughing dog, and a dish running away with a spoon. Look at the rhyme as we know it:

“Hey diddle diddle,

The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon,

The little dog laughed to see such sport,

To which the dish ran away with the spoon.”

There it is! The origins of this rhyme have been debated, and Tolkien appears to be suggesting that it was coined by Bilbo Baggins ages ago. In fact, this line from the previous page now makes much more sense: “Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered.” What’s being said here is that this song survived the epic passing of time, and now lives on in its incredibly shortened form as we know it today. It all makes sense, somewhere in the back of your mind.

You may know the feeling.

There’s also an interesting double-stanza, which you can pick out because I didn’t throw the short musical interlude phrase between the two. No, I didn’t make a mistake. It’s written that way.

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The exciting conclusion of the song to come tomorrow!

And the Saturday dish went off at a run with the silver Sunday spoon.”

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Okay. Oh, boy. Long day. And this hasn’t been easy to put together tonight. We’re going to have a very interesting next few days.

This is how I feel right now. Emotionally.

So, let’s get to it!

Frodo makes his short speech. The chant starts for a song, because, of course it does. All the men and hobbits of Bree in the room want a song, which makes Frodo even more uncomfortable. He desperately begins an old song that Bilbo once made up long ago.

First Mentions:

-the Man in the Moon: Yes! They have a man in the moon in Middle-earth! How wonderfully familiar!

Well, um, the song…let’s get to that.

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Oh, I hope you like this one, because you’re going to hear it quite a bit. I won’t say how much. Just…get used to it.

Bilbo wrote the song, and Frodo sings it now, in its entirety. Here’s what we have:

“There is an inn, a merry old inn

beneath an old grey hill,

And there they brew a beer so brown

That the Man in the Moon himself came down

one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat

that plays a five-stringed fiddle;

And up and down he runs his bow,

Now squeaking high, now purring low,

now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog

that is mighty fond of jokes;

When there’s good cheer among the guests,

He cocks an ear at all the jests

and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow

as proud as any queen;

But music turns her head like ale,

And makes her wave her tufted tail

and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes

and the store of silver spoons!

For Sunday there’s a special pair,

And these they polish up with care

on Saturday afternoons.”

At length, I present:

Hobbits Sing pt.1

(Lions Roar – The Hush Sound)

Maybe it’s repetitive, sure, but the song that we’re given is repetitive. So there.

It’s a ballad about an inn. How appropriate for Frodo to sing it in an inn! Let’s talk about what happens at this inn in the song. The beer is so good that the Man in the Moon comes to drink it! That’s a plus. There’s a cat, and it plays a five-stringed violin. Cool, right? There’s a dog that likes jokes, although that doesn’t sound like a healthy obsession if he’s choking on his laughter all the time. There is also a prideful cow that gets drunk off of music. The tavern keeps silver dishes and spoons, and uses a special set for Sundays that have to be polished on Saturdays beforehand. Sounds like your typical establishment, right?

The entertainment's cheaper if you pay it in tuna fish.

And here’s what’s great: we get to keep learning about this crazy inn tomorrow! And the next day, a little bit!

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It may not be considered a word, but at least you know which syllable to stress.

There’s even a special asterisk and footnote on this page, directing you from the word “Sunday” in the song to a note in the Appendices. What’s that all about? It turns out that when Tolkien “translated” this story from its “original language”, days of the week worked a little differently. While some days “translated” almost directly into Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the order was slightly different. Saturday began a week, and Friday ended it. In this sense, Thursday and Friday for hobbits were more like the weekend that we associate with Saturday and Sunday. Thus, when the song talks about Saturday and Sunday, it is talking about the weekend, which actually takes place on what “translates” to Thursday and Friday. If that makes some modicum of sense to you, congratulations.

And these they polish up with care on Saturday afternoons.”

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Okay. Aragorn’s here. Time to get real.

Well, actually, this page isn’t like super “let’s get real” or anything, but that’s what Aragorn’s here for, and we’re going to milk him for that.

We're gonna milk me for WHAT?!

Aragorn warns a nervous Frodo that he should watch his friends (Sam and Pippin) to make sure that they don’t talk too much. Sure enough, the two notice that Pippin’s speech has turned from the hilarity of the roof collapse in Michel Delving to Bilbo’s 111st Birthday Party. Frodo quickly connects the dots to see that Pippin might bring up the ring, or at least remind the hobbits and men of Bree of the name of Baggins. If someone’s been asking around about Frodo, that name will stir curiosity immediately. Aragorn urges Frodo to do something to stop this from happening. Showing childish foresight, Frodo jumps on a table. Most people think he’s had too much to drink, and he stands nervously, fingering the ring in his pocket. He wants to put it on, but resists the temptation and starts a speech, thanking the Bree-folk for their hospitality.

Here’s the difference between Frodo and Aragorn. Both see the danger of the moment. Both understand that Pippin cannot be allowed to continue. However, when Aragorn pushes for Frodo to resolve his own mess, Frodo gums it up royally. It’s the difference between a well-traveled man and a curious hobbit. It’s Frodo’s fight to fight, and Aragorn lets him do so, but he fails in a way that shows his inexperience, and ultimately brings more attention to himself.

It's time to grow up, Frodo.

This way of acting will only bring Frodo trouble, which he cannot afford. Aragorn will protect him, in fact, he is already sworn to do just that, but no amount of Ranger’s intuition and skill will be able to save Frodo from being easy prey. No table-jumping theatrics or feat of speech will keep impending doom at bay.

There is no singular funny or interesting detail that I want to take away from today. Only that. If Frodo is to survive in this strange and dangerous world outside the Shire, he must change his ways. This is where the book will start to pick up. This is the story you’ve all been waiting to hear. How will Frodo, the sheltered, naive hobbit, channel the strength and determination to carry this ring to its ultimate destruction?

History will not be written for the meek. Only the epic.

Things had better change around here for Frodo, and fast. We’ve got a lot of book left.

Bring it on.

We are all very much gratified by the kindness of your reception, and I venture to hope that my brief visit will…”

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Big introduction today. Who’s that there watching in the corner?

A+ in looking sketchy.

The hobbits in Bree don’t care much for the rumors of the southern men. They listen instead to stories from Sam and Pippin, who tell of a comical roof collapse in the Shire. Frodo watches the conversation, and feels uncomfortable when it shifts to him and his alias. Hobbits ask specific questions about the Underhills in the Shire. As he watches Sam and Pippin field the questions, Frodo notices a man sitting in the corner, watching as well. Though the room is hot, a hood covers the man’s face, and he appears to be very well-traveled. When given a chance, Frodo asks Butterbur about the observer, and learns that he is a Ranger. He is a regular in The Prancing Pony, but sometimes disappears for months or years at a time. The Bree-landers call him Strider, but not much else is known about him. After Butterbur is called away, Frodo sees that the Ranger’s attention has turned to him. He motions Frodo over, and introduces himself.

First Mentions:

-the Town Hole: Seat of the government in the Shire, in the town of Michel Delving in the Westfarthing. Roof collapsed sometime recently.

-Will Whitfoot: Elected Mayor of the Shire. Fattest hobbit in the Westfarthing, which must be some sort of accomplishment.

-the Mayor: Only elected position in the Shire, and thus de facto political leader of the Shire. In charge of things like the mail and law enforcement.

The story about the Town Hole roof collapse is wonderfully silly. Will Whitfoot is covered in chalk, and emerges looking like a dumpling covered in flour. Considering how fat he is, this is hilarious.

However, it could be EPIC.

And yes, this Strider is Aragorn, if you weren’t aware of that already. Here, his nickname is explained! He has very long legs, and is often seen hurrying from place to place. Thus, Strider. No one knows very much about him, and his ways are very mysterious. Well, we’re lucky, because they’re about to get a whole lot less mysterious.

However, what is Frodo doing just wandering over to this sketchy guy in a corner? It’s not like Aragorn looks friendly from a first glance. The fact that he isn’t a spy for the forces of evil is a lucky break. Otherwise, this adventure would be over right quick. You could say that Frodo’s judge of character is impeccable, but I think it’s just lucky.

So, our next member joins the Fellowship? Not so fast. Let’s see how long it takes for Frodo to trust him.

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Finally, we’re going to have a non-hobbit friend. Let’s move this story forward!

“‘I am very pleased…'”

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As with any busy bar, the company here at The Prancing Pony is teeming with various and sundry folks. There are men, dwarves, and hobbits, some from Bree and others resting from their travels. Butterbur introduces Frodo, Sam, and Pippin to everyone, although they have no hope of remembering enough to place names to faces.

It's the same fear this girl has about her first days at college.

The three hobbits mock the surnames of the men, thinking that they sound strange and vaguely botanical. The hobbits’ names, of course, seem normal enough. Some are even common in the Shire. The Bree-hobbits ask a lot of questions, and Frodo is able to make up a story about how he and his friends are traveling east in order to study the history and geography of hobbits living outside the Shire. The Bree-hobbits explode into offers of information, even putting together a list of who Frodo can talk to in hopes of learning more. As Frodo’s interest in the topic dwindles, so do the hobbits talking to him, and he finds himself alone in a corner, watching Butterbur talk to some men and dwarves. The news from the south is bad, as people are moving north, looking for more peaceful places to live. The people of Bree don’t find this very much to their liking.

First Mentions:

-Rushlight: Man in The Prancing Pony. Always knows how to turn the lights on quickly.

-Goatleaf: Likewise. Has crossbred a goat and a plant.

-Heathertoes: Another man. He was born with heather for toes.

-Appledore: Yet another man. Distant progeny of Johnny Appleseed and a certain British wizard professor.

-Thistlewool: Man? Yes. Makes sweaters that are horrifically uncomfortable.

-Ferny: Our final named man in The Prancing Pony. Really likes ferns.

-the Mugworts: Hobbits in The Prancing Pony. Like to drink out of warty mugs.

-Banks: Hobbit. Takes care of some financial business in Bree.

-Longholes: Another hobbit. Lives in a deep hole driven into Bree-hill.

-Sandheaver: Our next hobbit. Works in the business of throwing sand around. Someone’s gotta do it.

-Tunnelly: Add one more hobbit. Digs a lot.

-the Underhills: Hobbits from Straddle. Naturally believe that they’re related to Frodo, who is under the alias of Mr. Underhill.

And that’s our list! Naturally, I made up all those silly facts. I have to keep it interesting somehow!

And if all else fails, I find interesting pictures.

The most important detail on this page, hidden among the hobbits’ questioning of Frodo, is the fact that conditions further south in Middle-earth are deteriorating quickly. People are literally running away from there, almost like refugees. Maybe it’s only speculative at this point, but the growing evil is starting to be felt.

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Did you expect anything else from this page? There’s a huge list of names. It’s bound to happen every once in a while. Plus, we still get to rant about the English and their adding of extra letters. There isn’t much more you can ask for from that point of view.

Really, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this page, even though there are a lot of people at play here. Okay sure, Frodo lies about wanting to write a book. That ends up happening though, since this entire book is, in a way, written by him.

“The local inhabitants did not look pleased at the prospect.”

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I feel extremely validated when the characters feel the same way that I do. If you recall yesterday, I brought up how Butterbur talks in short sentences, almost rapid-fire due to his chaotic night at work.

The hobbits feel the same way, and are a little annoyed by it.

You see this face? This face is judging you, Mr. Butterbur.

Butterbur leaves the hobbits in their room. If they need anything else, they can ring the bell on the table to call for Nob. Before they even think to do so, Nob comes in with a platter of candles and plates. He shows them their beds and goes to get some drinks while they wash up. They’re enjoying their beers as a full supper is laid before them. Butterbur hovers around, inviting them to come join the “company” at the bar after dinner, if they don’t just want to go to sleep. Once he leaves again, the hobbits spend a full 45 minutes at dinner, which is as delicious as they could have hoped. So is the beer. Afterwards, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin head over to the bar, while Merry stays behind to rest, and possibly catch some air outside later. He warns them that they should still worry about staying safe. The group at the bar is a varied bunch, and the room is so dark that it takes Frodo a while to adjust. He sees Butterbur near the fire, talking to dwarves and men.

So now Merry is the antisocial one? I mentioned earlier that he was the only hobbit that we hadn’t yet found a reason to dislike. Maybe this is his thing. Every party needs a pooper, right?

I'm really enjoying these bizarre comic panels I keep finding.

So, what kind of dinner are the hobbits served? Take a listen: “hot soup, cold meats, a blackberry tart, new loaves, slabs of butter, and half a ripe cheese.” THAT SOUNDS DELICIOUS. I don’t think I’d care much for the blackberry tart, but that’s a minor detail. Half a ripe cheese? Like, half a wheel of cheese, fresh? Yum. It sounds like pretty traditional tavern fare, and very authentic. When you consider that these hobbits have been on the road all day, this must be very much welcomed. I wonder what Zagat has to say about The Prancing Pony’s meals. How many stars are we talking?

But seriously, people have done financial analyses of fictional characters. How about dining reviews of fictional restaurants? I want to know!

“On the benches were various folk: men of Bree, a collection of local hobbits…”

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Four hobbits walk into a bar…

I realized that I didn't have an end to that joke. Please enjoy this.

It turns out the bustling stereotype of a man is indeed Barliman Butterbur. Frodo requests four beds and stabling for five ponies. Butterbur suddenly remembers something, something that has to do with hobbits. Then he forgets it. This is a theme of the day. He asks for the hobbits’ names, and they give him them, with the exception of Frodo, who is in disguise as “Mr. Underhill” for now. Butterbur calls for a servant, and a hobbit comes to pass along word to take care of the ponies. All the while, Butterbur is going on and on about how busy the inn is tonight. Some group is traveling north, a band of dwarves is going west, and now Frodo and company are here! He shows them to a room, and promises to bring supper soon.

First Mentions:

-Nob: A hobbit working at The Prancing Pony. Known to be slow.

-Bob: Another worker at The Prancing Pony. If we’ve learned anything about how names work in Middle-earth, he’s also a hobbit and related to Nob. Outside, working in the stables.

In a wonderful turn of events, it looks like Butterbur is one of those classy guys who likes to insult people in ridiculously amazing ways. As he calls for Nob to come help him, he calls him a “woolly-footed slowcoach”. How great is that? And it really makes me want to imagine Butterbur as an uppity, Victorian-era salesman.

Egads, man! Only a woolly-footed slowcoach would dare copy my impeccable fashion! You rapscallion, you!

Thankfully for our heroes, The Prancing Pony features hobbit-style rooms! They are more than welcome to enjoy the amenities as if they were sitting by a warm fire in their own homes in the Shire! Round windows! Exclusively on the first floor! What more could a hobbit on a visit to Bree desire?

Safety. That’s what a hobbit could desire. If you were being chased by shadowy riders, and they clearly knew that you were a group of hobbits, wouldn’t you want to keep far away from anything as obvious as staying in the only available hobbit-fashioned rooms? You might as well put a sign on your doorknob saying: “Privacy please, unless you’re hunting me down. In that case, here I am!”

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Butterbur is so crazy busy right now! You can tell because when he speaks, his sentences are usually short and to the point. You pick up on these sort of things from time to time.

“‘I’ll look in again later. If…'”

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