'You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon,' said Gandalf. Two or three weeks had passed, and still Frodo made no sign of getting ready to go.
'I know. But it is difficult to do both,' he objected. If I just vanish like Bilbo, the tale will be all over the Shire in no time.'
'Of course you mustn't vanish!' said Gandalf. 'That wouldn't do at all! I said soon, not instantly. If you can think of any way of slipping out of the Shire without its being generally known, it will be worth a little delay. But you must not delay too long.'
'What about the autumn, on or after Our Birthday?' asked Frodo. 'I think I could probably make some arrangements by then.'
To tell the truth, he was very reluctant to start, now that it had come to the point. Bag End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years, and he wanted to savour as much as he could of his last summer in the Shire. When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying, as it always did at that season. He had indeed privately made up his mind to leave on his fiftieth birthday: Bilbo's one hundred and twenty-eighth. It seemed somehow the proper day on which to set out and follow him. Following Bilbo was uppermost in his mind, and the one thing that made the thought of leaving bearable. He thought as little as possible about the Ring, and where it might lead him in the end. But he did not tell all his thoughts to Gandalf. What the wizard guessed was always difficult to tell.
He looked at Frodo and smiled. 'Very well,' he said. 'I think that will do . but it must not be any later. I am getting very anxious. In the mean- while, do take care, and don't let out any hint of where you are going! And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad.'
'As for where I am going,' said Frodo, 'it would be difficult to give that away, for I have no clear idea myself, yet.'
'Don't be absurd!' said Gandalf. 'I am not warning you against leaving an address at the post-office! But you are leaving the Shire . and that should not be known, until you are far away. And you must go, or at least set out, either North, South, West or East . and the direction should certainly not be known.'
'I have been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving Bag End, and of saying farewell, that I have never even considered the direction,' said Frodo. 'For where am I to go? And by what shall I steer? What is to be my quest? Bilbo went to find a treasure, there and back again; but I go to lose one, and not return, as far as I can see.'
'But you cannot see very far,' said Gandalf. 'Neither can I. It may be your task to find the Cracks of Doom; but that quest may be for others: I do not know. At any rate you are not ready for that long road yet.'
'No indeed!' said Frodo. 'But in the meantime what course am I to lake?'
'Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight,' answered the wizard. 'If you want my advice, make for Rivendell. That journey should not prove too perilous, though the Road is less easy than it was, and it will grow worse as the year fails.'