Five or Six Ponies?

Sunday Aug 11   11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (1 hour)

Five or Six Ponies?

In the 2004-5 revision of the text of The Lord of the Rings, the editors changed Merry's line: "There are six ponies in a stable across the fields ..." to "There are five ponies ..." (Fellowship chapter 5) on the grounds that the original six ponies were for five travelling hobbits and a pack-pony, and when Tolkien reduced the number of questers to four, he forgot to alter that line. At least one critic took exception to this, as, he said, there must have been a sixth pony in the stable so that Fatty Bolger could accompany the hobbits to the Old Forest and then ride back alone. I could see both sides of this argument, and then I went back to the drafts in The Return of the Shadow to see if I could find a further convincing reason for one or the other reading. And so I did, one neither in the text nor contradicted by it. We shall be looking at a floor plan of the house at Crickhollow, and considering how Merry acquired those six ponies without arousing suspicion; and furthermore what might the Master of Buckland have said and done when he heard that Crickhollow had been raided.


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