The festivities are over. Days have passed. While Aragorn knows that Frodo wants nothing more than to return home, Frodo acknowledges that he wants to stop at Rivendell on the way to visit Bilbo one last time. Arwen gives the Hobbit a white jewel from around her neck. She tells him that he may take her place on the ship to the Blessed Realm in the West, for hers is the choice of Lúthien, and she will not be going with her people.
Several of the Gondorian court accompany the Hobbits when they leave Minas Tirith. At Rohan, Théoden is laid to rest with a hero’s funeral, and Éomer announces the betrothal of Éowyn and Faramir.
The Company moves on to Isengard where they reunite with Treebeard. The Ent tells of the doom the Orcs met in the forest when they fled, and how he reported the news regularly to the captive Saruman. Gandalf notes that Treebeard uses the past tense and learns that Treebeard has let Saruman go. Powerless as he is otherwise, Saruman has retained the power of his voice.
Saruman and Wormtongue are happened upon later up the road, ragged and bitter. Galadriel and Gandalf offer mercy, and their kindness gets under Saruman’s skin. After a few days more, Galadriel and Celeborn turn east towards their home.
At the House of Elrond, the remaining travelers find Bilbo, the next day celebrating his 129th birthday. After a fortnight, Frodo and Sam are ready to return home. Bilbo remains, too old to travel, and Gandalf says he will go at least as far as Bree. Bilbo passes three books of lore to Frodo, entitled Translations from the Elvish. He asks that Frodo finish editing them. Elrond assures Frodo that he will visit the Shire in time, and that he will bring Bilbo with him.
Even with the quest at an end and the tale winding down, Tolkien still finds room for world building in the form of song. The “Burial Song of Théoden” is offered at the king’s funeral, and at Rivendell, Bilbo gives us a brief reprise of “The Old Walking Song” with newly lyrics to bring things truly full circle. The Tolkien Ensemble, of course, has their own renditions. Here are links if you’d like to listen them:
“The Old Walking Song (III)”