Topic: "Gandalf's Challenge (2)"
Frodo was very concerned for the safety of one whom he barely knew. It was no secret around the College of the Shire that being different, or unconventional, would often produce conflict. The one that Frodo knew was a Professor, of Religion and Philosophy, who often made public statements which contrasted to the prevailing opinions of those troubled times. Frodo resented some of the things said, but others moved beyond resentment to consider violence.
Frodo discussed his concerns with the Fellowship, as well as his fears. Those planning violence would not hesitate to include Frodo, and there was no doubt that by sheer force they would get their way. There was nothing but conjecture on which to base a challenge of any kind, so Frodo wrestled with a time-honored conundrum.
Eventually it was learned that one specific behemoth would wreak havoc on the Professor. It was to take place during a basketball game between faculty and students. Frodo and several members of the Fellowship were also to take part in the event, as was the behemoth. The subject of the assault would participate, as would Gandalf, the Wise, as members of the faculty.
As the teams warmed up on opposite sides of the court, Frodo and his fellow Hobbits decided to warn Gandalf, so that he could pass a warning on to the Professor. While surreptitously adjusting his shoelaces, Frodo motioned to Gandalf to come to where the Hobbits were seated.
"Lord Gandalf," he said, "please tell the Professor that he is in grave danger. The behemoth is going to make every effort to cause him pain. We do not want to see him hurt."
Gandalf glared back to Frodo, and cast his gaze upon them all. In totally uncharacteristic fashion he yelled at Frodo, "And what are YOU going to do about it? Don't you understand? This is exactly why you are losing the War." With that, he turned his back on Frodo and began to dribble away.
The Hobbits were speechless until one said, on behalf of all, "What in the Hell was that? What did he mean about us losing the War?" Frodo's predicament was greater now than when silence had been the preferred course of action. Perhaps he should notify the game officials of the plan? Perhaps he should step to center court and make an announcement of what he knew? Perhaps he should challenge the behemoth directly? In any event, Frodo now had responsibility for what was about to occur.
The behemoth was not a good basketball player, and his time on the court would be limited. Frodo and his friends knew that at least one of them would be on the court at all times. Between them, they decided that when the behemoth was on the court that one of them would maintain a position between the two so that the behemoth could not make physical contact with the Professor. It worked. The behemoth was pushed out of the way every time he came near the Professor, and the planned victim was puzzled by the fact that he was given so many open shots at the basket.
Gandalf never brought the subject up with Frodo, nor did Frodo and his friends ever discuss what happened after that night. Frodo, however, has thought about those events every single day of his life, now some 40 years later. There is no greater honor that a student can give to a Wizard than to acknowledge that he made the student think about the choices to be made every single day. Frodo admits to the fact that he still does not fully comprehend the message conveyed. Perhaps, had Gandalf given a similar message to George W. Bush, today's war would not have been blamed on faulty intelligence, and someone would take responsibility.