So at this stage in the story, Frodo has done one of his famous ‘disappearing acts’ in order to give Boromir the slips but in the process given everyone else in the Fellowship a bad case of anxiety as to his whereabouts.
After his encounter with Boromir, Frodo fled blindly into the wild, following the path to the hill-top until eventually reaching the summit of Amon Hen and making himself comfortable in the high seat; the Seat of Seeing, an ancient chair built by the Men of Numenor. After spending some time alone on the summit and ending his ‘rest’ totally freaked out, Frodo knew what he must do.
Frodo rose to his feet. A great weariness was on him, but his will was firm and his heart lighter. He spoke aloud to himself. ‘I will do now what I must,’ he said. ‘This at least is plain: The evil of the Ring is already at work even in the Company, and the Ring must leave them before it does more harm. I will go alone.’
Boromir returns to the Company without Frodo and noone has seen Frodo in all that time, so now the anxiety levels reach a new high; realising that Frodo had vanished an hour ago and that he had felt the need to put on the Ring.
A sudden panic or madness seemed to have fallen on the Company.
They all split up in order to search for the missing hobbit and it’s when Sam falls behind Aragorn in the search that he has a real lightbulb moment –
‘Whoa, Sam Gamgee!’ he said aloud. ‘Your legs are too short, so use your head! Let me see now! Boromir isn’t lying, that’s not his way; but he hasn’t told us everything. Something scared Mr. Frodo badly. He screwed himself up to the point, sudden. He made up his mind at last – to go. Where to?’
I love the way that Tolkien here gives us a glimpse into the way Sam’s mind is working and his thought processes; we here see a very strong character who has the ability to think on his feet and think rationally despite pressure and panic.
Sam passed his hand over his eyes, brushing away the tears. ‘Steady, Gamgee!’ he said. ‘Think, if you can! He can’t fly across rivers, and he can’t jump waterfalls. He’s got no gear. So he’s got to get back to the boats. Back to the boats!’
Now the true lightbulb moment for Samwise, he figures out the most logical conclusion as to where Frodo would be going and he comes to that realisation ahead of the others.
Sam turned and bolted back down the path. He fell and cut his knees. Up he got and ran on. He came to the edge of the lawn of Parth Galen by the shore, where the boats were drawn up out of the water. No one was there.
I can imagine the sheer panic and dread that Sam must have felt at this moment, the idea he had was a great one and a true moment of clarity in realising Frodo’s next move, however, arriving at the boats and seeing the no one there must have been sickening.
He stood gazing for a moment, stock-still, gaping. A boat was sliding down the bank all by itself. With a shout Sam raced across the grass. The boat slipped into the water.
‘Coming, Mr. Frodo! Coming!’