Away from Bree, the hobbits are able to talk openly about their fears with Gandalf. Has something happened to the Shire?
But that’s okay! They have Gandalf! Everything will be just fine.
Gandalf means to leave the group, and instead have a long talk with Tom Bombadil. He has full faith that the hobbits can solve the problems of the Shire on their own. They’ve been through a lot worse, remember. Even though Gandalf’s pretty sure that Saruman is behind all of this, his time is over, and it’s the hobbits’ turn to shape their world.
Wait, haven’t they done that already? Yeah, whatever.
There’s a weird hint here about Tom Bombadil that I haven’t heard anyone mention before. Gandalf calls him “a moss-gatherer,” (WAIT, THAT’S IT!), and Gandalf is “a stone doomed to rolling.” No, Tom isn’t just a moss-gatherer. It’s an analogy, but one that makes me wonder if Gandalf and Tom Bombadil are closer in relation than most people think. What if they’re two beings, much alike, but going about their business in opposite ways? Gandalf is the hands-on one, and Tom prefers hands-off. That would lead me to believe that Tom is some sort of Maia, but that’s about all that I could conjecture. I don’t even think I’m right. It’s just an interesting connection that Gandalf draws.
Tomorrow will bring about a short end to this chapter, and thus bring one more question: will it be the LAST chapter, or just the SECOND TO LAST?!
Be on your toes, ladies and gents.
No one dies today.
“He turned Shadowfax off the Road, and the great horse leaped the green dike that here ran beside it; and then at a cry from Gandalf he was gone, racing towards the Barrow-downs like a wind from the North.”