Summary — Flight to the Ford

When Frodo comes to, the other hobbits are standing over him. When he put the Ring on, they saw only shadows rushing by and Frodo disappearing and then reappearing, collapsed on the ground. The Black Riders are gone, having been repulsed by Strider’s defense and by the Elven names Frodo invoked.

After hearing Frodo’s account and examining his wound, Strider becomes concerned—even more so when he finds on the ground the knife that gave Frodo the wound. Strider takes Sam aside and tells him that the wound will soon have an evil power over Frodo, and may well be deadly. Strider goes down the hill and returns carrying leaves of athelas, a plant with healing power. He uses the leaves to tend to Frodo’s wound, which has begun to spread a cold numbness through the hobbit’s side.

Day finally comes. Strider leads the hobbits down from Weathertop and across the road. They suddenly hear two shrill cries from far off. They scramble along in the forest to the south of the road. The next several days are difficult going, and Frodo gets weaker all the time. Strider finds a beryl, a pale green elf-stone, in the path; it appears to have been left for them, and he considers it a good sign. A few days later, they stumble across the three trolls that turned to stone on Bilbo’s journey many years ago (an episode from The Hobbit). This reminder of Bilbo’s adventure cheers them.

The party is forced to return to the road to make the last leg of the journey to Rivendell. Soon after they take to the road, they are alarmed to hear the sound of hooves behind them. They hide, but the rider turns out to be not a Black Rider but an Elf-lord, Glorfindel, a friend of Strider who lives in Rivendell and was sent out several days ago to help them. They put Frodo on Glorfindel’s white horse and tell him to ride ahead. The hobbit is at first reluctant to abandon his friends, but Glorfindel reminds Frodo that it is he, not the others, whom the Black Riders are after.

Frodo slips in and out of dark dreams as he rides. The party walks on through the night and rests only a few hours before heading out again at dawn. After another hard day’s march, they stop again. Glorfindel and Strider, despite their desire to push on, are forced to stop, as the hobbits are exhausted.

The next afternoon, they approach the Ford of the Bruinen River, beyond which is Rivendell. As they exit the forest just a mile before the Ford, Glorfindel suddenly hears the sound of the Black Riders behind them. He cries to Frodo to run for the Ford. Glorfindel’s horse, still bearing Frodo, sprints ahead. Suddenly, four Riders, who have been waiting in ambush, leap out from the trees ahead to intercept Frodo before he reaches the Ford. Glorfindel’s horse carries Frodo across the river just in time, but there the hobbit waits helplessly on the opposite bank.