Frodo prepares to leave on his fiftieth birthday, following the path that Bilbo took many years earlier. He sells Bag End to the Sackville Bagginses. Rumor suggests that Frodo has run out of money and must go live with relatives in Buckland. Some others insist that Frodo is only leaving because of some dark plot perpetrated by Gandalf. In truth, Frodo plans to go to Rivendell, as he has discussed with Gandalf. Meanwhile Gandalf has left, not even staying behind to say good-bye to Frodo. Pippin and Merry are also going along on the trip.
On the way, the band of travelers hears the sound of horses. They think Gandalf is joining them, so they hide in order to surprise him. Instead of Gandalf, the noise signals the arrival of a black rider on a black horse. He sniffs the air as if sensing their presence and Frodo gets a sudden urge to put his Ring on. But the rider moves on. Sam tells Frodo that this very Rider had been asking questions about Frodo. The travelers become suspicious and move on, more cautious than before.
Later, they meet a group of elves. The Lord of the Elves, Gildor Inglorian, asks the travelers to join him and his group. After they reach a safe place and have their fill of food and drink, Frodo asks Gildor for news and advice. Gildor tells him of the gathering darkness, the wars of men and the flight of the elves. He tells Frodo that the Black Riders are the servants of his enemies and that he must be careful. He extends his friendship and that of is people to Frodo and his group. Sam is delighted, since he has always dreamed of being on an adventure with elves.
There is no explanation for Gandalf's disappearance. Readers of The Hobbit will recall that he did the same when he sent Bilbo on his adventure.
Frodo's adventures begin here, as he is followed by a menacing band of Black Riders. Fortunately the Elflord arrives to fill him in on the potential threat presented by these menacing riders. Frodo and his companions proceed more cautiously.
On a side note, Sam is the only one whose fear is offset by his excitement and thrill for adventure.
When the adventurous hobbits get up in the morning, they find that the elves have already left, leaving breakfast for them. Frodo decides to take a short cut through the woods, in order to avoid the Black Riders on the road. They hear strange and frightening noises, and hurry along till they come to the farm of Farmer Maggot.
As a youngster Frodo was caught many a times stealing mushrooms from these fields and he is afraid of Farmer Maggot and his dogs. His fear is abated, however, when Maggot and the dogs greet them and offer assistance. Farmer Maggot tells the travelers that a stranger resembling the Black Rider has been asking questions about Frodo. Old Maggot advises Frodo not to get mixed up in these adventures, but realizes that Frodo will not change his mind. He offers to drive them to the ferry.
After supper the travelers set off in the thick fog. Farmer Maggot gives Frodo a basketful of mushrooms and bids them good-bye.
This chapter advances the suspense. It also adds some light-hearted fun to the novel. Frodo is afraid of Farmer Maggot because of some childish pranks from his past. He is afraid to go, but is relieved when Maggot appears not to remember and even offers his help. The chapter ends with Farmer Maggot good-naturedly supplying Frodo with a basketful of mushrooms for his journey.