Return of the King Book 6, Chapter 7
The four hobbits and Gandalf begin to travel back to the Shire. Frodo's old wounds trouble him. When they arrive in Bree the guard tentatively welcomes them. They come to the old inn and when they see the innkeeper, Barliman, he exclaims "'They've come back!'" Book 6, Chapter 7, pg. 301. Barliman cannot believe that they have returned after so long. The common room and the inn are pretty empty. They tell him a good part of their story and it amazes him. The situation in Bree and the Shire has not been good. Business is bad and people have been killed. Many of the men who served the Black Riders have taken to wandering and thieving. Barliman says that because they are dressed in armor and carry weapons many of the thieves have left the town for a while. Gandalf tells him that better times will come soon and Barliman just wants Bree to be left alone by the rest of the world. Gandalf assures him that there is enough space in the world and he also tells him that Bree is known and loved by the King of Gondor. When Barliman realizes that Aragorn is the king, he is amazed that a man who used to lurk in his inn is now a king.
They stay for another night and on the second night, people gather in the room and ask Frodo if he has written his book yet. On the third day they wake and decide to ride to the Shire as quickly as possible. Barliman bids them well but warns them that there are troubles in the Shire. Frodo and the others do not know what is going on, but Gandalf tells them that it has something to do with Saruman. He tells them that they will have to set things right in the Shire without him. They part from Gandalf and head towards Buckland worried about what they will find. Merry says that they are returning together just as they left.