Return of the King Book 6, Chapter 8
They arrive in Buckland after nightfall but the guards at the gate will not let them in the city. One of them recognizes Merry but cannot let them in because of their orders. Merry and Pippin begin to force their way in and a large man comes out to threaten them. He sees their weapons and simply unlocks the gate and runs away. Merry asks for shelter but "'taking in folk off-hand like, and eating extra food, and all that....'" Book 6, Chapter 8, pg. 311 is not allowed. The new men who have been brought to the region have been draining resources. Eventually, the hobbits are allowed to sleep in the guardhouse. In the morning they decide to go straight to Hobbiton. At night they encounter a band of shirriffs barring the road. They announce that the four companions are to be put under arrest. Frodo and the others laugh when the shirriffs tell them to be quiet. The inn is closed, so they sleep in the shirriffs house for the night. Sam knows one of them and he tells him that the chief closed all the inns and now all the ale and tobacco go to the chief's men. The hobbits all over the Shire are intimidated and beaten by these men. The chief already knows that they are in the Shire.
The next morning some of the shirriffs come out to escort them to Hobbiton but they don't have ponies. For about fourteen miles, the companions make the shirriffs move in front of them, but they give up. As they approach Hobbiton, they are shocked by the new ugly houses. Trees have been cut down and there is a new mill exuding black smoke into the air. They enter the old inn and find a half dozen men lounging around. They tell the hobbits that their boss Sharkey will take care of them. Frodo laughs and tells them that their day is over. Pippin draws his sword and the other hobbits rush the ruffians. They run away but Frodo fears they may have returned to the Shire too late. He warns the others that they must not kill hobbits and should avoid killing any men. Merry thinks they should call the Shire to arms and goes to the farm of Farmer Cotton. Cotton brings his sons out, very ready to help Merry. Sam talks to his daughter Rose. Within the day, a hundred hobbits have gathered together with axes and other weapons. Frodo asks Cotton how many men there are and he answers,
"'That's hard to tell....They moves about and comes and goes. There's sometimes fifty of them in their sheds up Hobbiton way; but they go out from there roving round, thieving or "gathering" as they call it. Still there's seldom less than a score round the Boss, as they names him.'" Book 6, Chapter 8, pg. 321
Despite how many men there are, they are poorly armed. Pippin rides off to get some of his family. Soon they hear that men are coming. Some hobbits stand up and tell them to stop and the men laugh. Then the rest of the hobbits show themselves, and the men realize that they are surrounded. Some drop their weapons and some fight but once their leader falls they stop.
Cotton tells them that the trouble started when a wealthy Hobbit started to buy up a lot of tobacco and land. He had men come to protect his stuff and soon they were just pushing around everyone in the region. A man named Sharkey came later and made the whole situation worse. Everyone listens to him and he built a big mill that fouls up the water. Sam comes back with his grandfather and Frodo proudly tells the old man that his grandson is one of the most famous people in the world. Everyone gathers the next day and a messenger says that Pippin is returning with a band of hobbits but a band of over a hundred men is coming. Pippin arrives with over a hundred new hobbits and they make plans to deal with the men. When the large band walks over the road, hobbits push carts and wagons in front of them and behind them and soon they are surrounded. Pippin calls for them to sit down but some charge the barricade. Some escape but 80 are trapped. The fight begins furiously. At the end 70 men lay dead and 19 hobbits. Frodo did not draw his sword during the battle, instead he cared for the wounded. He could not stand the thought of fighting any longer.
They gather together the sturdy hobbits and head off to deal with Sharkey. They are grief stricken by the desolation of the land around them. They come to the door of Frodo's old home and knock but there is no answer. Sam looks around and says it is like Mordor but Frodo says "'Yes, this is Mordor.... Just one of its works.'" Book 6, Chapter 8, pg. 332. Merry complains about Saruman and then the wizard himself steps out of the shadows. He tells them that he laughed at them when he encountered them before because he knew the state of their homeland and that Gandalf would not help them. He tells them that he took pleasure in ruining the land. Frodo tells him to leave even though the other hobbits want to kill him. As he walks by, Saruman tries to stab Frodo but his knife breaks on Frodo's mithril coat. Even then, Frodo tells the other hobbits not to harm the fallen wizard. He explains that he has fallen further than death could take him. Saruman glares at Frodo and complains that the Hobbit robbed him of revenge. Wormtongue follows him but Frodo tells him he can stay behind and be free. Saruman explains that Grima killed their boss with his own hands and then he kicks the man. Grima jumps up and slits Saruman's throat. Three hobbits shoot their bows and both figures fall to the ground, dead. Frodo watches Saruman's body dissolve. Sam says good riddance and Merry hopes that their war is over. Sam says that now it is time to clean up and repair.