In A Conspiracy Unmasked Frodo, Sam, and Pippin finally make their way over the Brandywine river and to Frodo’s new home at Crickhollow. Merry and Fredegar Bolger have worked hard to make everything as comfortable as possible. Did they succeed? Let’s explore chapter 5 of The Lord Of The Rings on this episode of The Secret Fire Podcast.
Crossing The Baranduin
Over the Brandywine river lies Buckland, a “sort of colony from the Shire” settled long ago (T.A. 2340) by one Gorhendad Oldbuck. These “half foreigners” were the most peculiar of all hobbits according to the decent and sensible folk Samwise Gamgee was brought up around. After all, they were fond of boats. And some of them could swim! Crossing the river was possibly the most unnerving part of this adventure thus far for Sam:
He had a strange feeling as the slow gurgling stream slipped by: his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front. He scratched his head, and for a moment had a passing wish that Mr. Frodo could have gone on living quietly at Bag End.
The Lord of the Rings, A Conspiracy Unmasked, p. 99
For Hobbits of the Shire, the Brandywine was traditionally the demarcation between the known and unknown. The name is a pun. In Sindarin it is called the Baranduin, or golden-brown river. The Hobbits named it Bralda-hîm, or heady ale – which is Brandywine in English. The river flows out of Lake Evendim in northern Eriador and has two crossings in the Shire: Brandywine Bridge and Bucklebury Ferry.
A Conspiracy Unmasked
Meriadoc Brandybuck and Fatty Bolger had a short time before the arrival of this company of three, and they wanted to make Frodo’s new home at Crickhollow as comfortable as possible. They had even arranged the furniture to resemble Bag End. For the road-weary travelers Merry had prepared three bathtubs with piping hot water, soap, and towels. Dinner (the second that night!) was being prepared. Great care was shown on behalf of their friends; and Frodo was both grateful and remorseful:
It was a pleasant, comfortable, welcoming place; and he found himself wishing that he was really coming here to settle down in quiet retirement. It seemed unfair to have put his friends to all this trouble; and he wondered again how he was going to break the news to them that he must leave them so soon, indeed at once.
Ibid., p. 100
Fellowship Is Unity
What Frodo doesn’t know is that his friends are completely aware of his intentions. They had been for quite some time. Nor did Frodo know that they had plans of their own: they were going to go with him wherever this adventure would lead. This was the unmasking of the conspiracy. These Hobbits from various towns of the Shire (and even Buckland!) who have differing cultural mores are of one mind and spirit. They love each other and care for one another by placing the other’s needs first. This is exactly what the apostle Paul encouraged the Philippian church to do and be:
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus
Philippians 2:1-5 NASB
What a wonderful lesson Christians can learn from this fellowship of Hobbits in A Conspiracy Unmasked.
On The Secret Fire Podcast we travel chapter-by-chapter and book-by-book through J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth viewing it through Christian lenses. We invite you to join us each week as we continue the adventure on the Arkenstone server in Lord Of The Rings Online. We meet at the Three Farthing Stone in the Shire.
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