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An entire year in one page? Seems reasonable.

People who can read small print do this all the time.

People who can read small print do this all the time.

That being said, this page is rather vague. Sam and Rosie move into Bag End to take care of Frodo, who becomes withdrawn from public life. Merry and Pippin live at Crickhollow, and ride around in their armor and colors all the time. They become the most admirable hobbits in the Shire, along with Sam, somewhat. Frodo remains a bit of a hermit.

As a year passes, Frodo becomes ill again on the anniversary of Weathertop, and once again in March of the following year. He wears a necklace with a gem on it now, seemingly standing in place of the ring.

I’m trying to remember if this white gem has some meaning, but I really think that it’s just something that Frodo wears to fill a hole left by the ring’s absence. He plays with it from time to time – sort of a nervous tic. He definitely shows some troubling tendencies, but you have to give him some slack after all the emotional trauma he experienced. If someone in Middle-earth were to be good at diagnosing psychological issues, Frodo might have PTSD.

The lingering effects of the ring’s evil have some part in that, too. Frodo wasn’t exactly Sauron, but he had a strong connection to that ring. Gollum had that issue as well.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 48 – “Absence makes the heart…remember all those terrible things you did.”

But let us not forget, that last thing was pretty great.

But let us not forget, that last thing was pretty great.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-fairspoken

Less than a week, folks! How many more years will fly by us in that time? The beginning and end of the book really do accelerate the pace. Remember when like 17 years passed in a few sentences?

No one dies today.

“Frodo was ill again in March, but with a great effort he concealed it, for Sam had other things to…”

Before midnight! I can do this!

Anyway, today’s page is a little bit more about how bountiful this year is in the Shire. The ol’ 1420 vintage becomes a point of reference when discussing anything of value in the future. (By the way, it’s the year 1420 in the Shire reckoning.)

The next part deals with Sam’s romantic interests and living situation. Frodo wants him to come live at Bag End, but will that sit well with Sam’s new flame?

Only if there's dancing.

Only if there’s dancing.

Frodo has a solution: Sam will marry Rosie, and they will both come to live at Bag End! Apparently…that’s not as bad of an idea as I think it sounds.

First Mentions:

-Widow Rumble: An older hobbit woman who takes care of the Gaffer. Secret romance?

I forgot, there is also a brief mention that Frodo falls ill during the month of March while Sam’s away doing his Johnny Appleseed work. The date is significant somewhat, as the ring was destroyed in March of the previous year. I do not know, however, how this plays into things. Frodo is ill on March 13th, and the ring was destroyed on the 25th. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing, but all the days ran together in Mordor, so I can’t be sure exactly what was happening on that day (the 13th) back in that last leg of the journey.

Nevertheless, my chief concern of this page is with Frodo’s idea to have Sam and Rosie live with him. I mean, I hear Bag End is quite a large hobbit hole, but does it make sense for the married couple to come live with Frodo, the third wheel? Perhaps this is about Frodo being cared for, but I still don’t see how it makes sense. Sam is a gardener, after all, not a house servant.

Everyone could really use a butler built into your door.

Everyone could really use a butler built into your door.

Speaking of other living situations, Frodo and Sam were staying with the Cottons all this time while Bag End was being repaired and refurnished. Merry and Pippin brought over Frodo’s belongings from his house at Crickhollow. Sam does eventually go back to live with his father when Bagshot Row is rebuilt as well. I presume Frodo stays with the Cottons during the period in between.

No one dies today.

“And if Sam thought himself lucky,…”

Tonight, I was able to sit down and count out how long we have. I hadn’t done that yet, and frankly, I was a little scared to do so since I screwed up royally with my estimations earlier. So, I know when we end. I’ll keep it a secret, though, just to be fun.

In that vein, I realized I need to commit to this a little harder. To say it mildly, I’ve been using the blog as a procrastination method for a while now. In my mind, I can’t sleep until the blog’s done, so it’s an excuse to stay up later and later doing…well, nothing at all. In the end, that results in a shorter, stranger, and weaker post than I would like or than the situation deserves. There’s not much further to go, and I’m going to commit to making a point of this during my day. Besides, I have so many serious things to say when I conclude.

Always has been.

Always has been.

Sam replants the Shire on today’s page. He goes around, sprinkling soil in places where important or beautiful trees once stood. One nut or seed-like thing is in Galadriel’s box, and Sam plants it in the field where Bilbo threw his great birthday party to replace the tree that was taken down from there. Come spring, Sam’s new trees flourish.

They grow swiftly, and the tree planted in the party field is a mallorn, one of the great stock of Lothlórien. It is the only one of its kind anywhere nearby, and travelers flock to see it as the years go by. Sam’s efforts are a wild success.

The following year is plentiful in the Shire. Not only are Sam’s trees thriving, but other plants as well. Harvests are good, specifically of pipe-weed, and hobbit children born in this year are especially fair and happy. It’s a good time to be a hobbit.

We do get one specific note that the only hobbits unhappy are those who have to cut the grass. And what a problem that is! Business is probably booming for them, even as much as they might grumble about it. You can’t turn down money. (I should say that I have no idea how the Shire economy runs…)

I assume that most fictional worlds use the Duck Tales method of banking.

I assume that most fictional worlds use the Duck Tales method of banking.

Speaking of swimming in non-swimmable materials, it is said that crops are so bountiful that hobbit children are practically bathing in strawberries and cream. While I do not doubt the excitement that could be derived from a dip in such a mixture, I must say that I don’t think it would be very conducive to bathing. Maybe that’s just me. Somebody, try it out and let me know.

That wasn’t too serious, was it? Nah, we talked about Duck Tales. Should be fine.

Here’s to writing this earlier tomorrow!

No one dies today.

“In the Southfarthing the vines were laden, and the yield of ‘leaf’…”

Jumping ahead doesn’t do this page service.

We’re rocketing ahead, learning all about how the hobbits rebuilt the Shire. When organized, they do a pretty good job.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

By Christmastime (or Yule, as they call it), all the “new” buildings put up by the ruffians are torn down. Those bricks are put into new use in rebuilding and strengthening structures that were taken down or harmed by the ruffians. At least they can do some good! An entirely new Bagshot Row is built, allowing the Gaffer to live once again at the foot of Bag End.

The greatest loss is in plant life, specifically trees. This hurts Sam greatly. For a while, he can’t think of a way that the Shire will ever be regrown anytime soon. Then, he thinks of the gift given to him by Galadriel: soil of her land, to be used to grow great gardens wherever the land is barren.

Hey! The Shire is barren! What better use could there be for this soil? How appropriate! It’s almost as if Galadriel could see the future

Yeah, she can see the future. That’s what that whole mirror thing’s about. No doubt she saw this coming, and knew that this soil was exactly what Sam would need to make his garden grow. Remember, the scouring of the Shire is even briefly seen through the Mirror of Galadriel in the film. That’s its one onscreen reference. Galadriel easily could have seen it herself.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

It’s no surprise that Sam is in charge of the rebuilding efforts. With Frodo off doing administrative duties and Merry and Pippin hunting down ruffians, Sam’s the one with the technical ability, heart, and nostalgia to take on putting the Shire back the way it was. He’s like Captain Planet for Middle-earth.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-levelled

Captain Samwise, he’s the hero! Gonna build the Shire back from zero!

No one dies today.

“‘On what?’ said Sam.”

I believe this is our last chapter. In fact, it should be the last chapter, considering there are so few pages left, and the title of this chapter concerns our final set piece. It’s page 1021. It’s the Grey Havens. It’s the end times.

But much happier than that.

But much happier than that.

This page is centered on the cleanup from Saruman’s reign in the Shire. Frodo’s first act is to head to Michel Delving and release the hobbits imprisoned in the Lockholes. He finds Fatty Bolger, Will Whitfoot, and Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, among others unnamed. Until Will Whitfoot is fit again to be the Mayor of the Shire, Frodo assumes the position of his Deputy Mayor. Merry and Pippin go around rooting out the remaining ruffians.

Most notable is Lobelia’s exit from the Lockholes, to great applause. She’s never been popular before. Unfortunately, she must learn of her son’s death, and she refuses to ever go back to Bag End, leaving it to Frodo. She also leaves him all of her money upon her death in the spring. The Bagginses and the Sackville-Bagginses can be friends again.

First Mentions:

-the Brockenbores: Tunnels in the north of the Shire where Fatty Bolger had holed up with some rebels.

-Scary: A small village in the hills where the Brockenbores are.

-Hardbottle: Another northern Shire village where the Bracegirdles live.

Reconciliation is nice, even when it’s with the Sackville-Bagginses. I have to admit, it’s a nice way to tie up the ownership of Bag End. With Lotho dead, and his father Otho gone some time before, Lobelia wants no part of Frodo’s belongings. It only feels right that Frodo can go back to living at Bag End after everything. After all, Lobelia wasn’t the one with the Baggins blood to make a claim on it. She does request that her money goes towards helping those hobbits left homeless by the ruffians, and that shows a kind side to her. Perhaps the terrors of Saruman’s occupation and her time in the Lockholes changed her.

And curiously, Lobelia’s umbrella is indeed referred to as such – her “umbrella”. The term “umberella” was used by Young Tom Cotton in telling the story of Lobelia’s capture. It must be a ruralism!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Brockenbores

-Hardbottle

I have yet to find myself a softbottle. I’ll let you know.

“Before the Year’s End the few survivors were rounded up in the woods, and those that surrendered were shown to the borders.”

And so, he’s had enough. After Wormtongue is offered the chance to stay in the Shire, Saruman mocks him. The fallen wizard says that Wormtongue isn’t such a nice guy. Everyone’s wondering where Lotho is, and Wormtongue knows. In fact, Wormtongue killed him.

Wormtongue won’t deny that, but he’s unhappy that Saruman made him do it. After Saruman kicks him in the face, Wormtongue lunges, pulling a knife, and slits Saruman’s throat. Wormtongue is killed as well by hobbit archers as he runs out.

Bag End sure isn't as nice as it used to be.

Bag End sure isn’t as nice as it used to be.

Saruman’s body decays rapidly, and his death creates a foggy smoke that rises above Bag End before being blown away. Again, he was a Maia, and in truth a very old and powerful being. We don’t get to see firsthand what happens with Gandalf’s “death” at the summit of Zirakzigil, but perhaps something similar occurred. Whatever it was, I find this line interesting: “For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.” Saruman’s soul, or whatever it is, looks to the west, where the Valar dwell in Valinor. He hopes to return there, but is denied. His evils have taken their toll, and a force comes from the west to blow him away. It’s very symbolic, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this could be what happened.

And this brings an end to this chapter. I fully believe that only one remains. We have merely 11 more pages!

“‘And that’ll take a lot of time and work.'”

Remember those times in high school (or around those younger years) when things would go down at school? Everybody would crowd around, of if it was one of those times you got called down to the principal’s office, they would all go: “Ooooooooohhhh!” really obnoxiously? This is one of those times, but for hobbits.

The hobbits are pressed against the windows of Bag End to see what happens inside.

Hey.

Hey.

Inside, Frodo holds serve with Saruman. Frodo very much wishes that no harm comes to Saruman, even through all the evil that he’s done. In fact, Frodo commands Saruman to leave, and Saruman agrees. He calls for Wormtongue, and the two begin to shuffle out.

BOOM! Saruman tries to knife Frodo. Thankfully, Frodo’s wearing mail under his clothes, and no harm is done. Sam and other hobbits jump Saruman with intent to kill. Frodo still refuses this, and Saruman does actually walk out. On the way, Frodo calls for Wormtongue to stop following this toxic wizard.

So, just in case you were wondering, Saruman is indeed very good at sleight of hand.

"I wasn't trying to kill you at all! I promise!"

“I wasn’t trying to kill you at all! I promise!”

Though I highly doubt that the hobbits outside are all applauding his tricks. Rule #1: don’t turn around and stab the dude who just gave you your freedom and your life. It reflects poorly on your character. And people probably won’t like you anymore.

No one dies today.

“‘You can have rest and food here for a while, until you are stronger and can go your own ways.'”