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How Gandalf got news that made him leave the Shire in a hurry

GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jul 19 2021, 12:17pm

Post #1 of 21 (1327 views)
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How Gandalf got news that made him leave the Shire in a hurry Can't Post

How or what made Gandalf decide to suddenly leave the Shire, after he had stayed in Bag End two months following his discussion with Frodo as related in “The Shadow of the Past”? About this sudden departure Gandalf said to Frodo:

I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into.

The point is pressed on to the reader:

At first Frodo was a good deal disturbed, and wondered often what Gandalf could have heard.

So what could he have heard, and from whom? He mostly avoided being seen when he was in the Shire, already from Bilbo’s party (see “A long-expected Party”):

Though he kept himself very quiet and did not go about by day, it was well known that he was ‘hiding up in the Bag End’.

His means of communication in the Shire actually became worse, in the years after the party:

I shall slip in quietly. I shan’t often be visiting the Shire openly again. I find that I have become rather unpopular.

So, if he avoided contacts (or was even ostracized by the hobbit community) then what did he hear from whom? At the council of Elrond, Gandalf contradicted his earlier statement (‘I have heard something‘) as follows:

At the end of June I was in the Shire, but a cloud of anxiety was on my mind, and I rode to the southern borders of the little land; for I had a foreboding of some danger, still hidden from me but drawing near. There messages reached me telling me of war and defeat in Gondor, and when I heard of the Black Shadow a chill smote my heart.

Personally, I think I’ll go for his own explanation: Gandalf received no news at all while in the Shire; so he tried to explain his foreboding to Frodo by him having received some unspecified news. Out of tune, maybe: that's close to lying... different interpretations are welcome.


InTheChair
Rohan

Jul 19 2021, 5:51pm

Post #2 of 21 (1278 views)
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Don't know if it answers the question. [In reply to] Can't Post

The best, if not necessarily the closest sources of information I can think of for Gandalf, might be the guard of Rangers down at Sarn Ford. These are there until September, when they are driven away by the Black Riders. And Gandalf does head to the Southern Borders and beyond, so it doesn't seem impossible that whatever news he heard originated from that direction.

The news itself is probably something to do with the rumours of war and defeat in Gondor. Heard maybe by the Rangers from fugitives coming up from the Tharbad way, and then passed on by them, to Gandalf somehow. The source of the rumours would then be the assault on the Bridges of Osgiliath, which occurred in June (Although unless it occurred early in June, there doesn't seem enough time for fugitives to reach all the way to Sarn Ford, so I could be wrong here), and where there were vague rumours about Black Riders. Boromir confirms so at the Counsil of Elrond. That might explain Gandalfs comment about the Black Shadow at the Counsil.

Although why Gandalf would change his story from Talking to Frodo, to the Counsil, I have no answer for. (Meaning why tell Frodo that he heard something, while telling the Counsil it was only his own anxiety?) Probably, the answer might be that he did hear some of the rumors, causing his Anxiety, but didn't think a vital piece of information to include in his tale to the Counsil.

That's just an attempt to reconcile a discrepancy that Tolkien seems to have missed though.

That fugitives from war near Osgiliath should wander all the way up to Bree, seems a little strange, since they have to pass through all of Rohan and as long again northward to get there, but perhaps they were really jsut hoping to get as far a way from War as possible. Not sure. Also there might be some of Sarumans spies mixed in there.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Jul 19 2021, 6:00pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 21 2021, 4:14pm

Post #3 of 21 (1165 views)
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works for me! [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm enjoying this series of questions, GreenHillFox - thank you for sharing them!

I think a historian of Middle-earth would have to work out whether it was likely that Gandalf felt a foreboding (as per his account to the Council) or got news in a more conventional manner (as per his comment to Frodo). If we take Gandalf's comment to Frodo at face value there's not only the problem of who Gandalf's informant could have been and how he/she/they/it got to Gandalf: there's also why Gandalf doesn't say to the Council "At the end of June I was in the Shire, and received news from [informant]".

What to do about that inconsistency? As a feigned historian of Middle-earth's feigned history, I prefer the idea that Gandalf would explain things to Frodo in a way he thought Frodo would understand without being unduly alarmed or perplexed- Gandalf seems to be feeling mild unease and recrimination for being out of touch at this point, rather than the full-blown alarm he feels once he knows the Nine have crossed the Great River. By comparison, I can't think of a motive Gandalf might have for misleading the Council.
If it is a foreboding, I think the timing is right for Gandalf to have sensed (in some mysterious way) that Nine have crossed the Great River. Calendar help here please, but I think that happens on June 20, and Gandalf meets Radagast on Mid-year Day (June 21, unless I've got muddled up by Tolkien's calendars, which is entirely possible). If that is the sequence of events, then it is hard to imagine how any conventional news could have reached Gandalf. But all this is conjecture of course.
If it is a conventional messenger, then I think I recall discussing this before and someone suggesting that both sides use birds as a news service. Somebody probably remembers the supporting evidence for that, or I could try to find the discussion I'm remembering, if that would be helpful. If I recall, Tolkien starts out with the idea that both sides use such messengers and Sauron uses them as spies: but the idea is not developed in detail.

Whether even a bird could bring news that Nine have crossed the Great River... oh, but that brings us into Monty Pythonish territory of whether it was an African or European swallow. Wink
And of course news the news could have been about something that happened earlier, which would solve the timeline problem.

Yet another timeline is the one I think InTheChair is suggesting:
  1. Gandalf feels a cloud of anxiety
  2. Gandalf rides to the borders of the Shire and meets someone - Rangers perhaps?
  3. He then rides back to tell Frodo he's off to gather news, and that is when he makes his comment "I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into"
  4. The he sets out and encounters Radagast
That sorts out the mechanics of Gandalf getting the news though it leaves us wondering that the news was.

For myself, I just like the idea of Nine crossing the Great River as being something that Sauron can't do without 'the Wise' knowing about it in a paranormal way: and if I recall it does chime with Tolkien's "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales. But I usually complain about the inconsistencies and issues in that UT, so I can hardly now use it for support without a certain shameBlush.
If I stop being a feigned historian of Middle-earth's feigned history and think about LOTR being a book Tolkien wrote, I wonder whether the inconsistency isn't a tiny 'fossil' left from earlier drafts as the text evolved? The idea would be that Tolkien initially thought of Gandalf getting 'news', maybe didn't think about it all that much, and had changed his mind by the time he wrote Council of Elrond. HoME loremasters may be able to help on this, if there are interesting changes between the draft texts and the published one.

~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 21 2021, 4:34pm

Post #4 of 21 (1161 views)
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Oh...hang on...further timeline trouble... [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf leaves Frodo and rides to Bree - not a long journey. There he meets Radagast on Mid-year Day. Gandalf tells the Counci of Elrond that Radagast's news was:


Quote
”I have an urgent errand,” he said. “My news is evil.” Then he looked about him, as if the hedges might have ears. “Nazgûl,” he whispered. “The Nine are abroad again. They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black.”

Which is an odd thing for him to know already! It's only just happened, and Radagast complains later that he has taken longer than he wished carrying Saruman's urgent message, suggesting that he's been on the road for a while. How does it work then?

Maybe:
  1. I'm muddled up here and someone can put me straight
  2. This reflects a Tolkien timeline that doesn't quite work out and which is being ironed outin UT (as suggested here, for example https://scifi.stackexchange.com/...-the-river-in-secret - the first answer to the question
  3. [At risk of adding in my own ideas willy-nilly] Saruman has sent Radagast off before the actual crossing of the River by the Nine (it's a lie that has since come true; Saruman knew Sauron was going to do it before it happened thanks to their link via the Palantir; some other complicated thing emerging from the clash of Saruman's bluffs and schemes and Sauron's)


~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jul 21 2021, 5:19pm

Post #5 of 21 (1158 views)
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Trying to put a timeline on this [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks for your fine thoughts in relation to my topic, InTheChair and noWizardme! I appreciate your gentle discussions very much.

At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf suggested a timeline (pardon me, I should have given the full quote at the beginning):

At the end of June I was in the Shire, but a cloud of anxiety was on my mind, and I rode to the southern borders of the little land; for I had a foreboding of some danger, still hidden from me but drawing near. There messages reached me telling me of war and defeat in Gondor, and when I heard of the Black Shadow a chill smote my heart. But I found nothing save a few fugitives from the South; yet it seemed to me that on them sat a fear of which they would not speak.

He then goes on to mention his meeting with Radagast during that same journey:

I turned then east and north and journeyed along the Greenway; and not far from Bree I came upon a traveller sitting on a bank beside the road with his grazing horse beside him.

It is only there that he heard the concrete bad news:

“Nazgul,” he [= Radagast] whispered. “The Nine are abroad again. They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black. […] I have been told that wherever they go the Riders ask for news of a land called Shire.”

Since Radagast impressed on Gandalf extreme urgency to go and see Saruman, the idea looks not reasonable of Gandalf taking a long detour back to the Shire first just to tell Frodo “I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into”, only then to turn back southbound to Isengard. Nor was Shadowfax there yet to help out.

I cannot solve the riddle I posted here myself. If it all needs to be without contradictions -not strictly necessary, in my mind- then (by way of excluding other options) I would think of elves or dwarves traveling through the Shire (to the Grey Havens and the Ered Luin, respectively) and which Gandalf may have met and spoken to, as he might have sneaked out of Bag End at night occasionally. In any case, I cannot imagine that he had news from hobbits (who knew nothing about things outside their borders) nor from eagles or men (who never came to those parts).

If so, I have no guess about what they might have told him, to make him take such a swift and radical decision.


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jul 21 2021, 6:00pm

Post #6 of 21 (1153 views)
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I actually really like this reading [In reply to] Can't Post

[quote]Saruman has sent Radagast off before the actual crossing of the River by the Nine (it's a lie that has since come true; Saruman knew Sauron was going to do it before it happened thanks to their link via the Palantir; some other complicated thing emerging from the clash of Saruman's bluffs and schemes and Sauron's) [/quote]

It makes total sense to me that if Saruman had any inkling the Nine were abroad looking for the One, and that if he suspected Gandalf was the Ringbearer (as I think he does, based on my reading of their scene together in Isengard), of course he would try and get Gandalf to Isengard as soon as possible, before the Nine would have a chance to encounter him.

Of course, this doesn't really help the case for Gandalf's actions– why he would leave Frodo behind if he thought the Nine had passed the River.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 22 2021, 2:44pm

Post #7 of 21 (1107 views)
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Ah. The problem is...my idea doesn't work! ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

We do know for sure that Gandalf doesn't' return to the Shire after meeting Radagast. He tries to send a letter via Butterbur instead. And as we know that doesn't' work, though later maybe Gandalf would say “it may have been better so”

What I was suggesting was probably confusing to everybody who had already seen the problem with it (um - was that everyone except me, perhaps?). I wondered whether Gandalf went on a shorter journey, met an informant, returned to Bag End and then went off further afield where he met Radagast.
The only problem with that is Tolkien's text! Wink

It's pretty clear from the long quote at the end of my post that Gandalf sets off from Bag End saying he may be some time, and doesn't return. When Gandalf says to the Council:

Quote
"I rode to the southern borders of the little land; for I had a foreboding of some danger, still hidden from me but drawing near."


...he must be talking about his journey after he left Frodo.

Oh dear, another beautiful idea slain by ugly facts Wink.

So I agree - we probably can't answer the original question: a situation that real historians of real history are left in often enough.
Apologies for causing the confusion! Crazy

Here's the full passage describing how Gandalf leaves Bag End:

Quote
“Gandalf stayed in the Shire for over two months. Then one evening, at the end of June, soon after Frodo’s plan had been finally arranged, he suddenly announced that he was going off again next morning.
‘Only for a short while, I hope,’ he said. ‘But I am going down beyond the southern borders to get some news, if I can. I have been idle longer than I should.’
He spoke lightly, but it seemed to Frodo that he looked rather worried. ‘Has anything happened?’ he asked.”
“‘Well no; but I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into. If I think it necessary after all for you to get off at once, I shall come back immediately, or at least send word. In the meanwhile stick to your plan; but be more careful than ever, especially of the Ring. Let me impress on you once more: don’t use it!’
He went off at dawn. ‘I may be back any day,’ he said. ‘At the very latest I shall come back for the farewell party. I think after all you may need my company on the Road.’”


~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 22 2021, 2:59pm

Post #8 of 21 (1103 views)
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thank you! but... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you, but I do realize this could be one of those "fan theories to save the day". Unless I'm muddled up about the dates of events (more than likely) it seems like there isn't time for these things to happen:
  1. The Nine cross the River (20 June TA3018, I believe, with the attack on Osgilliath as a diversion?)
  2. Saruman discovers this and sends for Radagast
  3. Saruman gives Radagast a message for Gandalf to be delivered before Midsummer and Radagast sets off
  4. Time for a wizard to travel, presumably from Isengard, if that's where Saruman briefed him, to Bree (How long might that take? , and no I don't know whether Radagast is an African or European wizard Wink )
  5. Radagast and Gandalf meet (22 June TA3018 - so my problem is that Radagast's journey seems to have taken only 2 days)

(I'm getting the dates from here: http://lotrproject.com/...on=1500&layers=B )

~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jul 22 2021, 3:56pm

Post #9 of 21 (1099 views)
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Birds? [In reply to] Can't Post

The Fellowship at least fear that there is some kind of communication between the crebain and Saruman and it would make sense that Radagast would understand them as well.

LOTRO seems to be play with the idea that Radagast has other reasons to be in Eriador– is the text explicit that Radagast departed from Rhosgobel or Isengard, or could he have already been in the area?


(This post was edited by skyofcoffeebeans on Jul 22 2021, 3:57pm)


InTheChair
Rohan

Jul 22 2021, 4:06pm

Post #10 of 21 (1096 views)
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Radagast himself also confirms. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have wasted time in looking for you and the days are running short

Suggesting that he has at least spent days looking for Gandalf.

So yeah, the dates from the different sources does not really match up.

Both UT and Tale of years, place the assault on the Bridges on the 20th of June.
UT confirms that the Black Riders cross the bridge after the first assault, during which the Witch-King was allowed to reveal himself in full power.

So both the news from Saruman concerning Nazgul crossing the Anduin, and the rumours about the Black Shadow that Gandalf mention does not seem to be dated anytime before this. (Unless as skyofcoffeebeans suggest Saruman precipitaded the event in order to get Gandalf to Isengard as soon as possible)

If Gandalf and Radagast do indeed meet up at the 22nd, (Where does this date come from?) then there are at least two things that there does not seem enought time for.

1. Not time enough for Saruman to contact Radagast, (Even assuming they do this by pigeon post, Saruman with his Creabain, and Radagast with, well, all birds.) and for Radagast to then spend days looking for Gandalf. Depending on where he was at the time, just reaching the outskirts of Bree might take him two days.

2. Not time enough for fugitives to learn about the black shadow and spread the rumour all the way up to at least Sarn Ford, so that Gandalf could hear it, as he says to Frodo. (Not unless they are maybe fugitives from Ithilien who ran into Saurons forces before the assualt. How many days before the 20th do they need to sett out to make the assault that day?)


So I think, either Tolkien would have had to move the date for the assualt back by maybe a week to the mid of June, or else Saruman must have spread false rumours about events yet to come, and if the Rangers near Sarn Ford heard anything it must have come from Spies of Saruman blowing some smoke.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Jul 22 2021, 4:08pm)


skyofcoffeebeans
Lorien

Jul 22 2021, 4:22pm

Post #11 of 21 (1094 views)
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The simplest solution seems to be... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that the date of the Osgiliath attack and the crossing of the bridge should just be a month or two earlier for all of this to make sense.


GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jul 22 2021, 6:28pm

Post #12 of 21 (1089 views)
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Indeed, there is a timeline problem [In reply to] Can't Post

To put dates to this (taken from both the "Tale of Years" and the core text):

12/04/3018 Gandalf reaches Hobbiton
20/06/3018 Sauron attacks Osgiliath. About this time Gandalf leaves after saying "I have heard something that has made me anxious and needs looking into."
24/06/3018 Midsummer (date according to christian tradition, at least). Gandalf meets Radagast.
10/07/3018 Gandalf imprisoned in Orthanc

So just 4 days for news to travel from Osgiliath to Bree is impossible (leave alone summoning Radagast from Rhosgobel to Isengard first!).

As suggested before, Saruman may indeed have sent Radagast with false information to Gandalf! He said himself something in that sense:

Radagast the Fool! Yet he had just the wit to play the part that I set him. For you have come, and that was all the purpose of my message.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 23 2021, 3:18am

Post #13 of 21 (1068 views)
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Midsummer [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe we should consider that the Midsummer date is probably in reference to the Shire Reckoning. That would place the date on Mid-year's Day, two days after June 30 and a fortnight after the Nine cross the Anduin.

Seriously, how many hands just slapped foreheads?

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 23 2021, 3:21am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 23 2021, 8:58am

Post #14 of 21 (1047 views)
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There's still a problem though - or at least Tolkien thought so [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that note on Shire calendars Otaku-sempai! I was hoping you'd step in to help with the calendars; something I find impossibly confusing, but I know is an interest of yours. It's a good thing we have a range of specialisms here!

I'll doff my hat to you for the help, but won't go so far as slapping my forehead, if you don't mind - my brain works badly enough as it is Smile.

But there's still a problem! Or at least Tolkien thought so later. Since I posted last, I found a very helpful note in Hammond and Scull's Reader's Companion:

Quote
257 (I:270) The Nine are abroad again...

Gandalf's account will make it clear that his meeting with Radagast took place on the same day that he wrote to Frodo from Bree, i.e. Mid-year's Day, only twelve days after Sauron's attack on Osgiliiath. (In the first edition of The Lord Of The Rings, The Tale of Years placed their meeting three days earlier on 29 June). This raises some problems of chronology, of which Tolkien himself became aware when writing his accounts of The Hunt for the Ring Marquette MSS4/2/35 ...shows Tolkien working on a solution to the problem.

Hammond & Scull, The LOTR Reader's Companion 2014 edition , annotations to"The Council of Elrond"

The text of Marquette MSS4/2/35 then follows in the Reader's Companion. Trying to summarize : Tolkien is pondering whether the Nazgul should start crossing the Anduin quietly in the spring ("say sometime in early April" says Marquette MSS4/2/35, to make inquiries about 'Shire' and 'Baggins'. Radagast becomes aware of this, and travels to Isengard to consult Saruman. Saruman then sends Radagast on to find Gandalf, bearing Saruman's treacherous offer of help.
So that would be a solution to the chronology problem, allowing enough time for Radagast to find Gandalf, and also perhaps for refugees to start appearing in the Shire who have had the willies scared out of them.
But of course it raises other questions - for example, if the Nazgul can cross the Anduin pretty easily in the spring, the attack on Osgiliath wouldn't make sense as a diversion to get the Nazgul across the River (which is what Tolkien is pondering in The Hunt for the Ring., if I recall, before deciding that hydrophobic, bridge-requiring Nazgul got him into further difficulties.).

Sometimes I think it's a shame that Tolkien didn't finalize these ideas about the Cold War beginning to the War of the Ring, with all the secret investigations, mutual treachery and bluffing going on between Saruman, Sauron and the Council: it might make a good finished tale.

I'm also reassured to see that even Tolkien couldn't do always do these date conversions "right" ("In the first edition of The Lord Of The Rings, The Tale of Years placed their meeting three days earlier on 29 June") rather than a date that doesn't fit 'our' calendar exactly but could be rendered June 32. Tongue

~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 23 2021, 2:14pm

Post #15 of 21 (1029 views)
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Yeah, I know. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
There's still a problem though - or at least Tolkien thought so


Yes, two weeks is certainly better than two days, but it still is a very short time to allow for Radagast to travel from Idengard to Bree (?), especially when it took Boromir three months and another three weeks to journey from Minas Tirith to Rivendell (with a mount for a good part of the way). Still, it might just be within the realm of possibility. Wizards are tricksy and we don't know the full extent of Radagast's abilities.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 23 2021, 2:17pm)


Felagund
Lorien


Jul 23 2021, 7:54pm

Post #16 of 21 (1020 views)
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celebrating feigned historiography [In reply to] Can't Post

Inspired by noWizardme, I’m defo adding ‘feigned historiography’ to my CV!

I don’t have much to add to the excellent question and debate that has come before me. However, I was prompted though to take a look back over the drafts for these passages, collected in HoMe VI. And unsurprisingly found that both JRRT and CJRT were perplexed at various points about what Gandalf knew when and from whom. This note, collected under “Queries and Alterations” (Chapter XIII), sums things up nicely:

“Some reason for Gandalf’s uneasiness and the flight of Bingo [Frodo] which does not include Black Riders must be found.”

This wonderful JRRT ‘note to self’ appears to have been prompted by the precursor to the published “Many Meetings” chapter (HoMe VI Chapter XII), when Gandalf tells Bingo that “He had to get here [Rivendell] quickly” because things were moving “even faster than I feared”. Basically, the story was taking shape around a lacuna and not pausing, seemingly moving faster than JRRT could keep up! I note too that in this particular draft, the proto-Strider – Trotter –was the source of Gandalf’s knowledge about the presence of Black Riders in Breeland, before Radagast appears in the final cut.

On the topic of these fugitives from the South, who seem to have travelled at record speed, as InTheChair as pointed out. I wonder if we can assume that these are among the same people who are referred to in the gossip and news heard by Frodo and his party at the Prancing Pony? Here's the relevant passage, from The Fellowship of the Ring, just to be clear I’m no longer in the world of drafts (!):

“There was trouble away in the South, and it seemed that the Men who had come up the Greenway were on the move, looking for lands where they could find some peace. The Bree-folk were sympathetic, but plainly not very ready to take a large number of strangers into their little land. One of the travellers, a squint-eyed ill-favoured fellow, was foretelling that more and more people would be coming north in the near future. ‘If room isn’t found for them, they’ll find it themselves. They’ve a right to live, same as other folk’ he said loudly. The local inhabitants did not look pleased at the prospect.”

The opinionated ‘squint-eyed’ individual turns out to be an agent of Saruman, turned agent of the Witch-king but his description of events to the South broadly matches the ‘fugitives’ narrative. And coming ‘up the Greenway’ is strikes me as being compatible with other fugitives milling around the southern borders of the Shire, including Sarn Ford.

As to why they didn’t just seek shelter in Rohan, there’s probably no good answer to be had, from a feigned historian’s point of view. The best I can come up with is that if even Gandalf, long a friend of the Rohirrim, found a pretty poor welcome at Edoras after his escape from Orthanc, then what chance would fugitives out of Ithilien have? The question nagging at me though is that why would Ithilien folk not just head to Minas Tirith, Pelargir or some other Gondorian location? And, as the ‘Tale of Years’ tells us, there’s hardly anyone left in Ithilien after III.2901 anyway – so who’s left to flee, apart from soldiers stationed in Osgiliath? When it comes to it, perhaps these fugitives are largely just a narrative device, for explaining how Gandalf got news and for demonstrating that ‘things were going on down South’ and that ripples were beginning to be felt in gentler parts of the world.

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


InTheChair
Rohan

Jul 23 2021, 9:10pm

Post #17 of 21 (1011 views)
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There does seem to be Dunlendings in the refugee stream. [In reply to] Can't Post

Or am I misremembering some quote, from UT, perhaps, that the squint-eyed southerned had Dunlendish origins?

I think for certain when the fugitives were first written down, the specifics of who they might be or where they came from was not yet fully considered, except that in a general sense they were fleeing from whatever troubles Sauron cooked up in the South.
As we have to try and fit the puzzle ourselves, we could assume that the fugitives do not, or at least not all, come from Ithilien. Perhaps they are Dunlendings not happy with Sarumans encroachment? Perhaps they are People from South-western Gondor who had their homes raided by Corsairs? Perhaps they are Rohirrim of Westfold whose farms are burned by Dunlendings? (Although this last group would probably flee towards Edoras rather.)

I think really the difficulty is perhaps to fit in where the rumours of the Black Shadow comes from, which Gandalf seems to have heard. Unless he was just adding in retroactive knowledge in his account to the counsil.


Felagund
Lorien


Jul 23 2021, 10:04pm

Post #18 of 21 (1009 views)
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Dunlendings etc [In reply to] Can't Post

Yep, your memory serves you well: the squint-eyed Southerner was indeed a Dunlending - described as such in 'The Hunt for the Ring', in Unfinished Tales. But he's also described as an outcast from his own society, an 'outlaw' and spurned due to a suspicion that he had 'Orc-blood'. Frodo too thought that he looked "more than half like a goblin" ("A Knife in the Dark", FotR). Anyway, the point is, he may be a fugitive but not from the war in the South. He's seems to be an exile recruited at some point earlier by Saruman to procure pipeweed and other supplies for Isengard, and was already well-travelled on the roads between Isengard and the Shire.

I agree with you though: the fugitives whom Gandalf encounters and who are described by the 'half-orc' agent of Saruman could be a heterogenous lot, perhaps drawn from many or all of the populations you mention. That the Dunlending in question, one of Saruman's "most trusted servants", isn't exactly popular in his homeland lends some weight to your theory that not all was united in Dunland and that Saruman's intervention there had stirred up internecine conflict - perhaps enough to create yet more refugees. As an aside, I note that the Dunlendings and the Breelanders are relatives, according to the version of their descent in Appendix F of LotR.

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jul 24 2021, 8:50am

Post #19 of 21 (977 views)
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Might well be the exact explanation! [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks to all respondents, this is a fine discussion.

Felagund’s post #16 brings a very credible answer to the original question, namely what Gandalf could have heard for his sudden departure from the Shire. It would seem that JRRT made the note Felagund quoted as a reminder for himself to develop “something” later, but then omitted (or just forgot) to come back on it and do this “something” about it!

Well found!
Smile


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 24 2021, 3:10pm

Post #20 of 21 (956 views)
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FH-oMe-FH: "I'm a feigned historian of Middle-earth's feigned history" // ;) [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jul 28 2021, 5:54am

Post #21 of 21 (871 views)
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Gandalf probably just felt that he had stayed in one place for too long! [In reply to] Can't Post

 

 
 

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