All had not gone quite as Gandalf had planned in the Elven ship bound for the Gray Havens. Perhaps by the last burst of Saruman’s mischief, the ship was blown far off course and caught in a storm so strong that even Gandalf’s magic could not sway it. The storm carried them far to the north until it dashed the ship onto the rocks off the coast of the North Pole. The beautiful Elven ship had not been built for such harsh climes, and it splintered on the icy shore. The party barely managed to survive.
Everyone was at a loss as to what they should do next. Galadriel and Celeborn wished not to stay in the barren, treeless land but they did not know what could be done.
They were soon joined on the wind-worn bluffs by the hobbits and their wives, Legolas and Gimli. Gimli managed to steer around the rocks and bring the ship safely ashore. There was much rejoicing at this reunion. But when Galadriel admitted to the newcomers of her distress at being stranded in that cold place, Gimli declared that she and Celeborn must take the ship that he and Legolas had built, and continue on to the Gray Havens. Gandalf did not like this idea, for the ship could not possibly carry all of them away.
Frodo stepped forward and, pitying them, said, “Too long have you, great Lord and Lady, dwelt alone in Middle-earth. It is time for you to return to your people and I will not let this reward be taken from you. Take this ship and find your people.”
Thus it was only Bilbo, the hobbit wives and the old Fellowship that remained. They stood on the icy banks and watched the ship until it disappeared beyond the horizon.
“Well, my dearest friends,” said Gandalf at last, “it seems that our adventures are not yet over after all. Come, come there seems nothing for it but to build ourselves a little town to live in, for there are no Mines of Moria here to offer us shelter from the snow and wind.
And that is just what they did.
They journeyed for many days, seeking the proper place to build a village. Then one morning as they crested a snowy hill they found it: a shallow valley protected from the icy wind and lit with the first rays of the sun. On their way they had, to Legolas’ relief and delight, come upon a vast, ancient forest of evergreen trees. The forest supplied the necessary lumber that the village would require.
Once again the skills of dwarf and elf, coupled with the magic of a wizard and the dedication of hobbits quickened the work required. Before long there was within the once lifeless valley a cluster of cheerful cottages. They were all vaguely hobbit-like with sloping roofs and windows like droopy, dreaming eyes always lit from within with firelight. The doors were not round but they were wide and squat and painted in red, purple, yellow, blue and green. It was as nice a home as any of the friends could wish. Even Frodo found himself more at peace in the north.
“I like it here, Sam,” he said one day, “the cold and the snow do much to sooth the fires of Mount Doom, which feel as though they are trapped in my heart forever. Yes, I think I will be at peace here.”
“I like it, too, Mr. Frodo. It’s not the Shire by no means, but it feels just right to be all together again.”