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Why didn't Gandalf tell Frodo..
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Gwytha
Rohan


Jun 3 2017, 5:55pm

Post #1 of 26 (4131 views)
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Why didn't Gandalf tell Frodo.. Can't Post

Re-reading FOTR the(number long forgotten)th time, a question that has often troubled me compels me to ask it-why did Gandalf never tell Frodo what had become of Bilbo? Seems kinda mean of him not to let Frodo know Bilbo was safe in Rivendell.

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 3 2017, 6:05pm

Post #2 of 26 (4066 views)
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Perhaps by Bilbo's request? [In reply to] Can't Post

Bilbo might have asked Gandalf to keep his location confidential. Also, once the wizard was aware that the Enemy was seeking for Bilbo, Gandalf might have thought that keeping his location a secret was worth any worry caused to Frodo.

I am sure that Gandalf would have been ready to reassure Frodo of Bilbo's safety if the subject came up.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 3 2017, 6:06pm)


Gwytha
Rohan


Jun 3 2017, 8:46pm

Post #3 of 26 (4034 views)
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Very credible conjecture [In reply to] Can't Post

It does seem like something Bilbo would do at least initially, now that you say it. Though I've wondered sometimes why in seventeen years Bilbo never sought a way to get a letter to Frodo, Gandalf wanting to keep the secret of Bilbo's location from the enemy would explain that.

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jun 4 2017, 12:55am

Post #4 of 26 (4012 views)
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Possibly... [In reply to] Can't Post

He didn't want Frodo running off into the blue prematurely, at a time before Frodo was ready. If Frodo had known Bilbo was living the high life in Rivendell the temptation might have been too great to resist.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


Gwytha
Rohan


Jun 4 2017, 2:33am

Post #5 of 26 (3993 views)
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Given that [In reply to] Can't Post

Merry had been worrying about the same thing ever since Bilbo had left that makes perfect sense.

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


dreamflower
Lorien

Jun 4 2017, 11:42am

Post #6 of 26 (3964 views)
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It's a good question [In reply to] Can't Post

As others have said, it's likely that at first it was at Bilbo's wish--if he had wanted Frodo to rush off after him, he'd have told him himself before he left. Also as the years passed and Gandalf began to be suspicious about the Ring, it's likely that it was thought best not mention Bilbo and where he was.

The same question could be asked about Strider/Aragorn: how much easier would it have been for him in Bree to simply tell Frodo and the others that he was a friend of Bilbo? The hobbits would certainly have trusted him more easily.

Of course, the story-external answer to both questions is that it would have spoiled the surprise for both the reader and the hobbits to know they'd find Bilbo in Rivendell.

But where's the fun in that? Much more interesting to speculate.

Some people call it fanfiction. I call it story-internal literary criticism.


Gwytha
Rohan


Jun 4 2017, 3:05pm

Post #7 of 26 (3942 views)
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That's a really good answer [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm beginning to think now that it wouldn't have been credible if Gandalf had told Frodo where Bilbo was. I don't now how long Bilbo was travelling about before he settled in Rivendell-he did go all the way to Dale and back after all--so it would have been really difficult for him to contact Frodo at first anyway. And if he had wanted to after taking up residence in Rivendell, I can well imagine Gandalf discouraging him. As they were working together on the Ring problem, Gandalf would likely have told Aragorn as well as Elrond the importance of keeping Bilbo's location a secret. When Aragorn was guiding the hobbits through the wild from Bree, Bilbo's name came up several times, but even at that point he most likely would not have felt it was his secret to share. And Bilbo did tell Frodo he had thought of going back for the Ring, and Gandalf dissuading him-I can imagine Gandalf thinking, we must at all costs keep Bilbo far away from that ring! Very glad I asked the question, the answers are really making good sense of things.

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Jun 4 2017, 7:15pm

Post #8 of 26 (3936 views)
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Gildor is similarly mysterious [In reply to] Can't Post

In Three is Company, Frodo says, "Tell me, Gildor, have you ever seen Bilbo since he left us?"
Gildor smiled. "Yes," he answered. "Twice. He said farewell to us on this very spot. But I saw him once again, far from here." He would say no more about Bilbo, and Frodo fell silent.

Is this just for dramatic effect or is there an internal reason to keep his location secret? Maybe because they feared Sauron would be searching for him and wanted to keep his location secret?


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Jun 5 2017, 12:22am

Post #9 of 26 (3907 views)
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"Scooby Dooby Bilbo! Where are you?" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Is this just for dramatic effect or is there an internal reason to keep his location secret? Maybe because they feared Sauron would be searching for him and wanted to keep his location secret?


I don't think there's any question that it was, if not common knowledge, at least known to the Wise and their confidants, that Mordor was searching for signs of "the halfling" that had traveled to Erebor several decades earlier. Bilbo even says as much when he and Frodo are catching up in Rivendell; he mentions that Gandalf seemed to feel that the enemy was looking high and low for him, and would make mincemeat of him if they found him. Since Gandalf had spoken to Gollum after his (Gollum's) release from Mordor, I suspect Gandalf knew whereat he was speaking of. Angelic

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jun 5 2017, 1:04pm

Post #10 of 26 (3827 views)
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I always thought [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf didn't tell Frodo to protect Bilbo from the Ring. If Frodo knew where Bilbo was, he would want to see him. But it would not be safe for Bilbo to be close to the Ring again, as we saw when Bilbo and Frodo did meet seventeen years later. Bilbo was still not immune to the lure of the Ring.

Even before Gandalf knew that Bilbo's ring was The Ring, he knew that Bilbo was too attached to it. Gandalf warned Bilbo to be careful with it from the beginning, and he saw how difficult it was for Bilbo to give it up. Gandalf, being naturally cautious, would be careful to keep Bilbo from the Ring, so he couldn't tell Frodo where Bilbo was.

I've always felt that Gandalf knew the Ring had to be destroyed, once he identified it's true nature. He went into Rivendell knowing the Ring would have to go to Mount Doom, and I think he knew Frodo had to do it. Gandalf was the only one of the Wise to respect hobbits and realize they were tougher than they looked, so he trusted that Frodo would be up to the task, even with a large amount of risk.

As for Gildor, the elves respect privacy above all, and he would not tell Frodo about Bilbo's location without Bilbo's permission. Elves don't interfere in other people's business, so they will not give out information that is not common knowledge.


(This post was edited by entmaiden on Jun 5 2017, 1:09pm)


dreamflower
Lorien

Jun 5 2017, 1:39pm

Post #11 of 26 (3822 views)
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Honestly [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think not knowing exactly where Bilbo was would have been any hindrance to Frodo knowing he was safe, or to occasional rare communication.

Frodo knew that GANDALF knew where Bilbo was, and I suspect that the wizard was a conduit for a few letters back and forth. Not often, not even every time that Gandalf passed through the Shire, but maybe every few years letters would be exchanged.

There is canon evidence for that: in "Shadows of the Past", Frodo said that Bilbo mentioned "in his last letter" that sometimes the Ring seemed to change its size and try to slip off. This indicates to me that Frodo had at the very least two letters over the years. (Or he would have only said "in his letter" and not in his "last letter". My guess would be, maybe four or five letters in seventeen years.

Anyway, that's my own suspicion.

Some people call it fanfiction. I call it story-internal literary criticism.


Darkstone
Immortal


Jun 5 2017, 2:22pm

Post #12 of 26 (3823 views)
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Plausible deniability [In reply to] Can't Post

"I have thought several times of going back to Hobbiton for it; but I am getting old, and they would not let me: Gandalf and Elrond, I mean. They seemed to think that the Enemy was looking high and low for me, and would make mincemeat of me, if he caught me tottering about in the Wild."
-Many Meetings

If the Enemy is looking high and low for Bilbo then it's probably best that as few people as possible know he's in Rivendell.

And yes, if Frodo knew then eventually all of the Shire would know:

'Dear old Frodo!' said Pippin. 'Did you really think you had thrown dust in all our eyes? You have not been nearly careful or clever enough for that! You have obviously been planning to go and saying farewell to all your haunts all this year since April. We have constantly heard you muttering: "Shall I ever look down into that valley again, I wonder", and things like that. And pretending that you had come to the end of your money, and actually selling your beloved Bag End to those Sackville-Bagginses! And all those close talks with Gandalf.'
'Good heavens!' said Frodo. 'I thought I had been both careful and clever. I don't know what Gandalf would say. Is all the Shire discussing my departure then?'
'Oh no!' said Merry. 'Don't worry about that! The secret won't keep for long, of course; but at present it is, I think, only known to us conspirators.'

-A Conspiracy Unmasked

Even secret correspondence would be out of the question because if the Enemy ever found out that Frodo had had contact with Bilbo then they'd find Frodo to question him in order to track down Bilbo and then incidentally find the Ring. Game over.

Best to keep Bilbo's location secret, and keep it safe.

******************************************

Once Radagast dreamt he was a moth, a moth flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Radagast. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakably Radagast. But he didn't know if he was Radagast who had dreamt he was a moth, or a moth dreaming he was Radagast. Between Radagast and a moth there must be some distinction! But really, there isn't, because he's actually Aiwendil dreaming he's both Radagast *and* a moth!
-From Radagasti: The Moth Dream


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Jun 5 2017, 2:32pm)


InTheChair
Rivendell

Jun 11 2017, 2:31pm

Post #13 of 26 (3636 views)
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Maybe Butterbur has another forgotten letter in his drawers. [In reply to] Can't Post

There could be an easy answer to this. Gandalf may have felt that as long as Bilbo himself didn't tell Frodo, it was not Gandalf place to spill the word. Gandalf would have tried to keep respect for both Frodo and Bilbo. If Gandalf knew where Bilbo was.


Ithilisa
Bree

Jun 12 2017, 7:22am

Post #14 of 26 (3586 views)
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Good catch, I didn't notice that before. [In reply to] Can't Post

[" and might suddenly slip off a finger where it had been tight.’ ‘Yes, he warned me of that in his last letter,’ said Frodo, ‘so I have always kept it on its chain.’ ‘Very wise,’ said Gandalf."]

Good catch, Dreamflower. I never caught that comment when reading that chapter before. I agree they must have exchanged at least two letters over time. Gandalf would be an obvious choice as the one who carried the letters. Since Frodo's mention of the letter did not seem to surprise Gandalf, he at least must have known the letters existed if not carried them himself.

"I name you Elf-friend; and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" - Gildor

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."- Thorin


noWizardme
Valinor


Jun 12 2017, 10:38am

Post #15 of 26 (3580 views)
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Interesting - I'd assumed... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd assumed that 'his last letter' referred to the papers Bilbo left Frodo when he left Bag End.

But it also makes perfect sense that Bilbo might have written from his travels if an opportunity presented itself. Such letters might arrive erratically (if at all). And perhaps once Elrond and Gandalf began to suspect that Bilbo was a wanted hobbit, they dissuaded him from writing any more, lest letters be captured. That could explain why Bilbo didn't send a postcard from Rivendell.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


dreamflower
Lorien

Jun 12 2017, 11:14am

Post #16 of 26 (3575 views)
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Frodo could keep a secret [In reply to] Can't Post

Since Merry learned about the Ring from observing Bilbo, and the only ones who suspected his leaving were his closest friends.

Remember, Merry had been spying on his older cousin ever since Bilbo left. And he's the one who spilled the beans to Pippin and Sam and Fatty.

So it's not like Frodo broadcast his secrets all over the Shire.

But I do agree that efforts would be made by Gandalf, Elrond, Aragorn and others to keep Bilbo's location a secret once the Ring was even suspected to be in the Shire--which is why I think Gandalf would have been the messenger of any correspondence. And I do think if the wizard told Frodo not to spread around the news of Bilbo's messages, he would have kept those secret as well.

I still think that statement only makes sense if the two had exchanged at least a couple of letters over the years.

Some people call it fanfiction. I call it story-internal literary criticism.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 12 2017, 2:36pm

Post #17 of 26 (3527 views)
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Mail Carriers in Middle-earth [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder whether the Hobbits were unique in possessing their own internal postal service or if they picked up the practice from the Men of Arthedain? Gondor, as an old and well-established kingdom, might have also had its own post system, at least within the borders of major cities such as Minas Tirith and Pelargir, and possibly encompassing most or all of the kingdom. I could also see a post office possibly being established in Dale.

I would mostly expect the Dwarves and Elves to employ private couriers, though Dwarf-cities such as Erebor and Khazad-dûm might have established local post services. Such a post might have even serviced both Erebor and Dale.

Gandalf would certainly be the most likely candidate to carry letters to and from both Bilbo and Frodo. I suggest that Bilbo might have received some correspondence over the years from surviving members of the company of Thorin, carried by trusted associates of his old Dwarf-friends traveling between the Lonely Mountain and the Ered Luin (possibly including the sons of some of the Dwarves). He might have sent letters via those same messengers.

Sending mail any distance in Middle-earth was doubtless a bit of a hit-or -miss proposition unless one could use private messengers. And even those could be intercepted, betray their trust or meet with accidents.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 12 2017, 2:38pm)


dreamflower
Lorien

Jun 12 2017, 4:05pm

Post #18 of 26 (3510 views)
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Well, in the real world [In reply to] Can't Post

The Romans had a postal system, and the first official "Master of Posts" in Britain was in the 16th century. But most early official postal systems were for official business.

It wasn't until the 18th century that places began to set up a system that could be used by anyone.

Since, sociologically, the Shire seemed to be more advanced in a lot of ways, I believe their particular system was unique--a system of Post Offices and official mail carriers who saw that letters got from point A to point B.

Gondor likely had the sort of official system--in which official gov't. business could be sent. But my guess is that civilians had to rely on private messengers, whether they paid a tradesman traveling in the right direction, or trusted a family member or friend to pass a letter on. (And it appears that was the system in the North--look what happened when Gandalf entrusted a letter to Butterbur.)

(Odd bit of OT trivia: when the first private mailboxes came out, many people objected to them on the basis that it meant people could send PRIVATE letters, which might lead to assignations! )

But back on topic, my guess is that the particular postal system used in the Shire was not found elsewhere in M-e.

Some people call it fanfiction. I call it story-internal literary criticism.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 12 2017, 6:30pm

Post #19 of 26 (3498 views)
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Oh, you're probably right [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sure that outside of the Shire, only well-to-do merchants and wealthy aristocrats could afford to use private couriers. And it is most likely that any official postal service used in Gondor or Arnor was intended for official government business only. But there is no harm in speculation and I like the idea that Bilbo's stories might have inspired a Shire-like post office servicing Dale and Erebor.

"He who lies artistically, treads closer to the truth than ever he knows." -- Favorite proverb of the wizard Ningauble of the Seven Eyes


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jun 12 2017, 7:45pm

Post #20 of 26 (3490 views)
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Nice idea but I don't buy it! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
There is canon evidence for that: in "Shadows of the Past", Frodo said that Bilbo mentioned "in his last letter" that sometimes the Ring seemed to change its size and try to slip off. This indicates to me that Frodo had at the very least two letters over the years. (Or he would have only said "in his letter" and not in his "last letter".

My interpretation is that by "his last letter", Frodo means not "his most recent letter" but "his final letter" - that is, the one Bilbo left, along with his "last" will and testament, in an envelope with the Ring. That's implied by Frodo's words to Gandalf, when he tells him about the Ring seeming to change size:
“Yes, he warned me of that in his last letter," said Frodo, "so I have always kept it on its chain.” [my italics]
If the letter had arrived some time after Bilbo had left, Frodo would have said, "so since then I have kept it on its chain". "Always", to me, implies that this habit goes all the way back to when Frodo first got the Ring.

And anyway, if Gandalf had any role in delivering letters from Bilbo, he would have been careful to warn Bilbo never to mention the Ring. Having told Frodo to keep it secret, he would hardly have wanted letters floating around Middle-earth with top-secret info like that in them!

I'm not even sure that Frodo was aware that Gandalf knew where Bilbo was. There's nothing ever said, in the text - all we learn is that on his brief visits, Gandalf “would not discuss his own business and journeys, and seemed chiefly interested in small news about Frodo’s health and doings.” And the fact that Frodo asks Gildor about Bilbo, which we are told is “the question that was nearest to his heart”, makes me think Frodo knows nothing at all - because if he had had any information from Gandalf, that would hardly have seemed such an urgent question. I always like Gildor's exasperated reply when Frodo moves on to his next question, about the Black Riders: “Has Gandalf told you nothing?" That's Gandalf though - he tells you nothing, except on a need-to-know basis. And up to this point, Frodo hasn't needed to know.

(I find it harder to imagine that Sam and the other hobbits managed not to spill the beans about Bilbo after Frodo woke up in Rivendell though!)


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



dreamflower
Lorien

Jun 12 2017, 7:50pm

Post #21 of 26 (3483 views)
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Plausible [In reply to] Can't Post

In my own headcanon Bilbo affected the Dwarves and Elves a lot*, in a number of small ways--who's to say that's not one of them!

*In said headcanon, he got both the Elves of Rivendell and the Dwarves of Erebor to have the meal named "tea", and got the Dwarves to celebrate Yule in what they thought was Hobbit-fashion. I love the idea of Bilbo spreading Shire culture wherever he went.

Some people call it fanfiction. I call it story-internal literary criticism.


GucciPiggy
Registered User

Jun 12 2017, 8:46pm

Post #22 of 26 (3472 views)
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. [In reply to] Can't Post

The way I see it is that Bilbo knew Frodo would come find him if he told him where he was. Probably found it better to keep Frodo safe by keeping his whereabouts secret for as long as possible.


Ithilisa
Bree

Jun 12 2017, 11:25pm

Post #23 of 26 (3456 views)
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Good point, FarFromHome [In reply to] Can't Post

[ If the letter had arrived some time after Bilbo had left, Frodo would have said, "so since then I have kept it on its chain". "Always", to me, implies that this habit goes all the way back to when Frodo first got the Ring.]

You make some very good points. it makes quite good sense that it would be a letter left with Bilbo's will (I hadn't thought about it this way) and that as you say Gandalf would have made sure for the safety of all that the Ring was never mentioned in any message since there was no guarantee that a message, even one carried by Gandalf, would not fall into the wrong hands.

"I name you Elf-friend; and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" - Gildor

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."- Thorin


Plurmo
Rohan

Jun 17 2017, 1:03am

Post #24 of 26 (3281 views)
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Wasn't Bilbo under spiritual house arrest? [In reply to] Can't Post

It is not only that Frodo must not receive news from Bilbo, but mainly the other way around. Bilbo doesn't get much news from the Shire and is not allowed to go back there. (Many Meetings)

Maybe Bilbo's increasing desire to leave the Shire was at least in part caused by Sauron.

"The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons." (The Shadow of the Past)

That refers to Gollum, but would also apply to Bilbo.

But then Gandalf tricked Bilbo into letting the Ring go, and so Bilbo, instead of going south (around those years Gollum headed south too - year 3009 Apendix B,) was free of mind enough to follow the call of Rivendell. From there he wouldn't have been allowed to leave (to the east, away from the Ring) had Elrond thought Bilbo wasn't already captivated enough.

Peaceful old age helped Bilbo stay, but Gollum was far older and still his obsession brought him to follow/pursue Frodo till the fires of Mordor. Without the captivity in Rivendell, it is not impossible that instead of Gollum, it could have been Bilbo the one falling into the Sammath Naur's pit with the Ring.

Once a Ringbearer, always a servant of its real master. Frodo (and the Ring) had to be kept away from Bilbo at least till Bilbo was pacified enough by elven therapy to allow his spirit to let things follow their natural course. That, I think, is one of the reasons why Frodo wasn't informed where to find Bilbo and Bilbo was not allowed to leave.


squire
Half-elven


Jun 17 2017, 4:14am

Post #25 of 26 (3266 views)
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Don't forget that Bilbo held the Ring in pity, not greed [In reply to] Can't Post

Although he was of course subject to its power, he was spared the full effects of its corruption in a way that Gollum was not, because of the difference in how the two of them acquired, and abandoned, the Ring.

It probably doesn't do to assume that Bilbo would have taken the place of Gollum in the story had he not been 'restrained' or 'held captive' by the Wise. Everything we learn from Gandalf suggests that is not what was going on.



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