Frodo, Sam, and Pippin wake the next morning to find that the elves have departed, leaving fresh provisions for the hobbits. Frodo tells his friends that the roads are no longer safe, and they take to the woods to avoid the Black Riders. It is slow going through the underbrush toward the Buckleberry Ferry that connects the Shire to Buckland, and the hobbits become disheartened as they lose their way. They also hear frightening cries nearby that may belong to Black Riders closing in on them.
After many hours of pushing through the woods, the group emerges from the trees and realizes that they have navigated too far south. Pippin recognizes fields belonging to Farmer Maggot. This alarms Frodo almost as much as the Black Riders, for he has been terrified of the farmer ever since Maggot set his dogs on a young Frodo who used to steal mushrooms from his fields. Pippin advises that Farmer Maggot is a friend of his and Merry’s who will help them evade the Black Riders, so they make for the farmhouse.
Frodo feels fear of a different kind here—not fear of evil, but fear of the righteous wrath of a farmer aimed at a mischievous trespasser. The hobbits’ desperate situation means that he has no other choice but to go along with Pippin’s plan to ask Farmer Maggot for help.
Farmer Maggot is at home, and he and his family warmly welcome the three hobbits with food and beer. The farmer also reveals that a Black Rider stopped by the farm earlier in the day, searching for a hobbit by the name of Baggins. Farmer Maggot is an astute person who begins to piece together much of Frodo’s story, realizing that the three hobbits are in trouble. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin gratefully accept his offer to conceal them in his farm cart and drive them to the Buckleberry Ferry under the cover of darkness.
It is not just Frodo, Sam, and Pippin who recognize the inherently evil nature of the Black Riders, for Farmer Maggot recognized it immediately too. The scenes with Farmer Maggot speak to the sometimes surprising nature of hobbits and the generosity of strangers in aiding their travelers on the road.
On the way, Frodo, Sam, and Pippin hear muffled hoof steps, but luckily it is Merry, not a Black Rider, who appears out of the darkness. He has come to meet his friends after expecting their arrival earlier at Crickhallow. The hobbits thank Farmer Maggot for his aid, and before he turns back to his home, he gifts Frodo a covered basket. Frodo laughs when he realizes it is a basket of mushrooms.
In these early encounters with danger, the hobbits prove resourceful and courageous as they evade the Black Riders (even if this is the result of luck as much as skill). This bodes well if Frodo is to continue his all-important role as Ring-bearer.