As our hobbits sleep in Bree under the watch of Strider at the Prancing Pony, something wicked this way comes. At the same time Fatty Bolger senses trouble coming to to Frodo’s house at Crickhollow. The Black Riders have mounted a two-front attack in their search for the Ring of power and leave the Fellowship without means of transportation. Can Barliman Butterbur find them at least one pony? Join us as we look at chapter eleven of The Lord Of The Rings, A Knife In The Dark.
A KNIFE IN THE DARK
It has been one hundred years since the Horn-call of Buckland has sounded; not since the Fell Winter brought in the white wolves over a frozen Brandywine river. But now the long silent horns rend the night along with shouts of “Awake! Fear! Fire! Foes! Awake!” while Fredegar Bolger narrowly escapes three Black Riders who splinter the doors of Frodo’s house as the cold hour before dawn was passing. At the same time Frodo was awoke from dreams of galloping hoofs, and noise, and wind. Strider roused the rest to get an early morning start on their journey only to find that all the ponies and horses at the Inn were driven off in the night!
THE GODLY CARE FOR THEIR ANIMALS
Frodo was crushed by the news that the ponies were gone. He could not see how they could possibly make it to Rivendell on foot while being pursued by the Black Riders. He wondered if Mr. Butterbur could help in any way:
‘Can’t we get a couple of ponies in the village, or even one just for the baggage? I don’t suppose we could hire them, but we might be able to buy them,’ he added, doubtfully, wondering if he could afford it.
The Lord Of The Rings, A Knife In The Dark, p. 177
The Innkeeper, feeling somewhat responsible for his guests’ misfortunes – and perhaps in an attempt to assuage a lingering guilt for having failed to deliver the letter from Gandalf -, spent twelve of his own silver pennies on a “poor old half-starved” pony owned by the unsavory Bill Ferny.
This Bill Ferny did not have a reputation of compassion or kindness. In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that the description of his house could be applied to his “care” of his beasts: dark and ill-kept. One can learn much about a person by observing the way they care for their animals. As the writer in the book of Proverbs put it:
The godly care for their animals,
but the wicked are always cruel
Proverbs 12:10 NLT
This pony was redeemed out of bondage to a wicked man with more money than anyone would find reasonable. And it had an immediate, marked effect on the creature. For as the Fellowship was making their way out of the village, Strider, Frodo, Merry, and Pippin lead the way, while pulling up the rear came Sam and the pony:
which was laden with as much of their baggage as they had the heart to give it; but already it looked less dejected, as if it approved of the change in its fortunes.
The Lord Of The Rings, A Knife In The Dark, p. 180
This pony is an important character in the story, and it gives us the opportunity to discuss the biblical themes of Grace and Faithfulness. We invite you to listen to this episode of The Secret Fire Podcast as we explore this much deeper.
What stood out to you in this section of A KNIFE IN THE DARK? Let us know in the comments below.
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