Frodo woke and found himself lying in bed. At first he thought that he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory. Or perhaps he had been ill? But the ceiling looked strange; it was flat, and it had dark beams richly carved. He lay a little while longer looking at patches of sunlight on the wall, and listening to the sound of a waterfall.
`Where am I, and what is the time?’ he said aloud to the ceiling. ‘In the House of Elrond, and it is ten o’clock in the morning.’ said a voice. `It is the morning of October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know.’
`Gandalf!’ cried Frodo, sitting up. There was the old wizard, sitting in a chair by the open window.
`Yes,’ he said, `I am here. And you are lucky to be here, too, after all the absurd things you have done since you left home.’ Frodo lay down again. He felt too comfortable and peaceful to argue, and in any case he did not think he would get the better of an argument. He was fully awake now, and the memory of his journey was returning: the disastrous `short cut’ through the Old Forest the `accident’ at The Prancing Pony; and his madness in putting on the Ring in the dell under Weathertop. While he was thinking of all these things and trying in vain to bring his memory down to his arriving in Rivendell, there was a long silence, broken only by the soft puffs of Gandalf’s pipe, as he blew white smoke-rings out of the window.
‘Where’s Sam?’ Frodo asked at length. ‘And are the others all right?’
‘Yes, they are all safe and sound,’ answered Gandalf. `Sam was here until I sent him off to get some rest, about half an hour ago.’
`What happened at the Ford?’ said Frodo. `It all seemed so dim somehow; and it still does.’
‘Yes, it would. You were beginning to fade,’
answered Gandalf. ‘The wound was overcoming you at last. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid. But you have some strength in you, my dear hobbit! As you showed in the Barrow. That was touch and go: perhaps the most dangerous moment of all. I wish you could have held out at Weathertop.’
‘You seem to know a great deal already,’ said Frodo. `I have not spoken to the others about the Barrow. At first it was too horrible; and afterwards there were other things to think about. How do you know about it?’
‘You have talked long in your sleep, Frodo,’ said Gandalf gently, ‘and it has not been hard for me to read your mind and memory. Do not worry! Though I said “absurd” just now, I did not mean it. I think well of you – and of the others. It is no small feat to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the Ring.’
‘We should never have done it without Strider,’ said Frodo. `But we needed you. I did not know what to do without you.’
‘I was delayed,’ said Gandalf, `and that nearly proved our ruin. And yet I am not sure; it may have been better so.’
‘I wish you would tell me what happened!’
‘All in good time! You are not supposed to talk or worry about anything today, by Elrond’s orders.’
`But talking would stop me thinking and wondering, which are quite as tiring,’ said Frodo. ‘I am wide awake now, and I remember so many things that want explaining. Why were you delayed? You ought to tell me that at least.’
‘You will soon hear all you wish to know,’ said Gandalf. ‘We shall have a Council, as soon as you are well enough. At the moment I will only say that I was held captive.’
‘You?’ cried Frodo.
‘Yes, I, Gandalf the Grey,’ said the wizard solemnly. ‘There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil.