Reading Comprehension - Literature: 'The Hobbit'

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The Hobbit is set within Tolkien's fictional universe and follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins, the titular hobbit, to win a share of the treasure guarded by a dragon named Smaug. Bilbo's journey takes him from his light-hearted, rural surroundings into the more sinister territory.
1. JRR Tolkien -- The Hobbit
In this reprint several minor inaccuracies, most of them noted by readers, have been
corrected. For example, the text on pages 32 and 62 now corresponds exactly with the
runes on Thror's Map. More important is the matter of "Chapter Five". There the true
story of the ending of the Riddle Game, as it was eventually revealed (under pressure)
by Bilbo to Gandalf, is now given according to the Red Book, in place of the version
Bilbo first gave to his friends, and actually set down in his diary. This departure from
truth on the part of a most honest hobbit was a portent of great significance. It does not,
however, concern the present story, and those who in this edition make their first
acquaintance with hobbit-lore need not troupe about it. Its explanation lies in the history
of the Ring, as it was set out in the chronicles of **the Red Book of Westmarch**, and is
now told in **The Lord of the Rings.**
A final note may be added, on a point raised by several students of the lore of the
period. On Thror's Map is written Here of old was Thrain King under the Mountain; yet
Thrain was the son of Thror, the last King under the Mountain before the coming of the
dragon. The Map, however, is not in error.
Names are often repeated in dynasties, and the genealogies show that a distant
ancestor of Thror was referred to, Thrain I, a fugitive from Moria, who first discovered the
Lonely Mountain, Erebor, and ruled there for a while, before his people moved on to the
remoter mountains of the North.
Chapter I
An Unexpected Party
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the
ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit
down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass
knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tubeshaped hall like a tunnel: a very
comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted,
provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit
was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into
the side of the hill - The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it - and many
little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going
upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes
(he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same
floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side
(going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows
looking over his garden and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.
This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had
lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them
very respectable, not only because most of them were rich, but also because they never
had any adventures or did anything unexpected: you could tell what a Baggins would
say on any question without the bother of asking him. This is a story of how a Baggins
2. had an adventure, found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may
have lost the neighbours' respect, but he gained-well, you will see whether he gained
anything in the end.
The mother of our particular hobbit ... what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some
description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they
call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the
bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards.
There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps
them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come
blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are
inclined to be at in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow);
wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair
like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-
natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have
twice a day when they can get it). Now you know enough to go on with. As I was saying,
the mother of this hobbit - of Bilbo Baggins, that is - was the fabulous Belladonna Took,
one of the three remarkable daughters of the Old Took, head of the hobbits who lived
across The Water, the small river that ran at the foot of The Hill. It was often said (in
other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife.
That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was still something not entirely hobbit-
like about them, - and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have
They discreetly disappeared, and the family hushed it up; but the fact remained that the
Tooks were not as respectable as the Bagginses, though they were undoubtedly richer.
Not that Belladonna Took ever had any adventures after she became Mrs. Bungo
Baggins. Bungo, that was Bilbo's father, built the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and
partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or
across The Water, and there they remained to the end of their days. Still it is probable
that Bilbo, her only son, although he looked and behaved exactly like a second edition of
his solid and comfortable father, got something a bit queer in his makeup from the
Took side, something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never
arrived, until Bilbo Baggins was grown up, being about fifty years old or so, and living in
the beautiful hobbit-hole built by his father, which I have just described for you, until he
had in fact apparently settled down immovably.
By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was
less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and
Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long
wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed) - Gandalf
came by. Gandalf! If you had heard only a quarter of what I have heard about him, and I
have only heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort I of
remarkable tale.
Tales and adventures sprouted up all over the place wherever he went, in the most
extraordinary fashion. He had not been down that way under The Hill for ages and ages,
not since his friend the Old Took died, in fact, and the hobbits had almost forgotten what
he looked like. He had been away over The Hill and across The Water on business of
his own since they were all small hobbit-boys and hobbit-girls.
All that the unsuspecting Bilbo saw that morning was an old man with a staff. He had a
tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which a white beard hung
down below his waist, and immense black boots.
"Good morning!" said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was
very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out
3. further than the brim of his shady hat. "What do you mean?" be said. "Do you wish me a
good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want not; or that you feel
good this morning; or that it is morning to be good on?"
"All of them at once," said Bilbo. "And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of
doors, into the bargain. If you have a pipe about you, sit down and have a fill of mine!
There's no hurry, we have all the day before us!"
Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his door, crossed his legs, and blew out a beautiful
grey ring of smoke that sailed up into the air without breaking and floated away over The
"Very pretty!" said Gandalf. "But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am
looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to
find anyone."
«I should think so - in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for
adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can't think
what anybody sees in them,» said our Mr. Baggins, and stuck one thumb behind his
braces, and blew out another even bigger smokering.
Then he took out his morning letters, and begin to read, pretending to take no more
notice of the old man. He had decided that he was not quite his sort, and wanted him to
go away. But the old man did not move. He stood leaning on his stick and gazing at the
hobbit without saying anything, till Bilbo got quite uncomfortable and even a little cross.
"Good morning!" he said at last. "We don't want any adventures here, thank you! You
might try over The Hill or across The Water." By this he meant that the conversation was
at an end.
"What a lot of things you do use Good morning for!" said Gandalf. "Now you mean that
you want to get rid of me, and that it won't be good till I move off."
"Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, I don't think I know your name?"
"Yes, yes, my dear sir - and I do know your name, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. And you do know
my name, though you don't remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf
means me! To think that I should have lived to be goodmorninged by Belladonna Took's
son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!"
"Gandalf, Gandalf! Good gracious me! Not the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a
pair of magic diamond studs that fastened themselves and never came undone till
ordered? Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons
and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows'
sons? Not the man that used to make such particularly excellent fireworks! I remember
those! Old Took used to have them on Midsummer's Eve. Splendid! They used to go up
like great lilies and snapdragons and laburnums of fire and hang in the twilight all
evening!" You will notice already that Mr. Baggins was not quite so prosy as he liked to
believe, also that he was very fond of flowers. "Dear me!" she went on. "Not the Gandalf
who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad
adventures. Anything from climbing trees to visiting Elves - or sailing in ships, sailing to
other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite inter - I mean, you used to upset things
badly in these parts once upon a time. I beg your pardon, but I had no idea you were still
in business."
"Where else should I be?" said the wizard. "All the same I am pleased to find you
remember something about me. You seem to remember my fireworks kindly, at any rate,
land that is not without hope. Indeed for your old grandfather Took's sake, and for the
sake of poor Belladonna, I will give you what you asked for."
"I beg your pardon, I haven't asked for anything!"
4. "Yes, you have! Twice now. My pardon. I give it you. In fact I will go so far as to send
you on this adventure. Very amusing for me, very good for you and profitable too, very
likely, if you ever get over it."
"Sorry! I don't want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning!
But please come to tea - any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow!
With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as
quickly as he dared, not to seen rude. Wizards after all are wizards.
"What on earth did I ask him to tea for!" he said to him-self, as he went to the pantry. He
had only just had break fast, but he thought a cake or two and a drink of something
would do him good after his fright. Gandalf in the meantime was still standing outside the
door, and laughing long but quietly.
After a while he stepped up, and with the spike of his staff scratched a queer sign on the
hobbit's beautiful green front-door. Then he strode away, just about the time when Bilbo
was finishing his second cake and beginning to think that he had escape adventures
very well.
The next day he had almost forgotten about Gandalf. He did not remember things very
well, unless he put them down on his Engagement Tablet: like this: Gandalf '¥a
Wednesday. Yesterday he had been too flustered to do anything of the kind. Just before
tea-time there came a tremendous ring on the front-door bell, and then he remembered!
He rushed and put on the kettle, and put out another cup and saucer and an extra cake
or two, and ran to the door.
"I am so sorry to keep you waiting!" he was going to say, when he saw that it was not
Gandalf at all. It was a dwarf with a blue beard tucked into a golden belt, and very bright
eyes under his dark-green hood. As soon a the door was opened, he pushed inside, just
as if he had been expected.
He hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and "Dwalin at your service!" he said with
a low bow.
"Bilbo Baggins at yours!" said the hobbit, too surprised to ask any questions for the
moment. When the silence that followed had become uncomfortable, he added: "I am
just about to take tea; pray come and have some with me." A little stiff perhaps, but he
meant it kindly. And what would you do, if an uninvited dwarf came and hung his things
up in your hall without a word of explanation?
They had not been at table long, in fact they had hardly reached the third cake, when
there came another even louder ring at the bell.
"Excuse me!" said the hobbit, and off he went to the door.
"So you have got here at last!" was what he was going to say to Gandalf this time. But it
was not Gandalf. Instead there was a very old-looking dwarf on the step with a white
beard and a scarlet hood; and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open, just
as if he had been invited.
"I see they have begun to arrive already," he said when he caught sight of Dwalin's
green hood hanging up. He hung his red one next to it, and "Balin at your service!" he
said with his hand on his breast.
"Thank you!" said Bilbo with a gasp. It was not the correct thing to say, but they have
begun to arrive had flustered him badly. He liked visitors, but he liked to know them
before they arrived, and he preferred to ask them himself. He had a horrible thought that
the cakes might run short, and then he-as the host: he knew his duty and stuck to it
however painful-he might have to go without.
"Come along in, and have some tea!" he managed to say after taking a deep breath.
"A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir," said Balin with
the white beard. "But I don't mind some cake-seedcake, if you have any."
5. "Lots!" Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling
off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and to the pantry to fetch two beautiful round
seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.
When he got back Balin and Dwalin were talking at the table like old friends (as a matter
of fact they were brothers). Bilbo plumped down the beer and the cake in front of them,
when loud came a ring at the bell again, and then another ring.
"Gandalf for certain this time," he thought as he puffed along the passage. But it was
not. It was two more dwarves, both with blue hoods, silver belts, and yellow beards; and
each of them carried a bag of tools and a spade.
In they hopped, as soon as the door began to open-Bilbo was hardly surprised at all.
"What can I do for you, my dwarves?" he said. "Kili at your service!" said the one. "And
Fili!" added the other; and they both swept off their blue hoods and bowed.
"At yours and your family's!" replied Bilbo, remembering his manners this time.
"Dwalin and Balin here already, I see," said Kili. "Let us join the throng!"
"Throng!" thought Mr. Baggins. "I don't like the sound of that. I really must sit down for a
minute and collect my wits, and have a drink." He had only just had a sip-in the corner,
while the four dwarves sat around the table, and talked about mines and gold and
troubles with the goblins, and the depredations of dragons, and lots of other things which
he did not understand, and did not want to, for they sounded much too adventurous-
when, ding-dong-aling-' dang, his bell rang again, as if some naughty little hobbit-boy
was trying to pull the handle off. "Someone at the door!" he said, blinking. "Some four, I
should say by the sound," said Fili. "Be-sides, we saw them coming along behind us in
the distance."
The poor little hobbit sat down in the hall and put his head in his hands, and wondered
what had happened, and what was going to happen, and whether they would all stay to
supper. Then the bell rang again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door. It was
not four after all, it was FIVE.
Another dwarf had come along while he was wondering in the hall. He had hardly turned
the knob, be-x)re they were all inside, bowing and saying "at your service" one after
another. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were their names; and very soon two purple
hoods, a grey hood, a brown hood, and a white hood were hanging on the pegs, and off
they marched with their broad hands stuck in their gold and silver belts to join the others.
Already it had almost become a throng. Some called for ale, and some for porter, and
one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was kept very busy for a while.
A big jug of coffee bad just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the
dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there came-a loud knock.
Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbit's beautiful green door. Somebody was
banging with a stick!
Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewuthered-
this was the most awkward Wednesday he ever remembered. He pulled open the door
with a jerk, and they all fell in, one on top of the other. More dwarves, four more! And
there was Gandalf behind, leaning on his staff and laughing. He had made quite a dent
on the beautiful door; he had also, by the way, knocked out the secret mark that he had
put there the morning before.
"Carefully! Carefully!" he said. "It is not like you, Bilbo, to keep friends waiting on the
mat, and then open the door like a pop-gun! Let me introduce Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and
especially Thorin!"
"At your service!" said Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur standing in a row. Then they hung up
two yellow hoods and a pale green one; and also a sky-blue one with a long silver
tassel. This last belonged to Thorin, an enormously important dwarf, in fact no other than
the great Thorin Oakenshield himself, who was not at all pleased at falling flat on Bilbo's
6. mat with Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur on top of him. For one thing Bombur was immensely
fat and heavy.
Thorin indeed was very haughty, and said nothing about service; but poor Mr. Baggins
said he was sorry so many times, that at last he grunted "pray don't mention it," and
stopped frowning.
"Now we are all here!" said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods-the best
detachable party hoods-and his own hat hanging on the pegs.
"Quite a merry gathering!
I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink!
What's that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think, for me." "And for me," said
Thorin. "And raspberry jam and apple-tart," said Bifur. "And mincepies and cheese," said
Bofur. "And pork-pie and salad," said Bombur. "And more cakes-and ale-and coffee, if
you don't mind," called the other dwarves through the door.
"Put on a few eggs, there's a good fellow!" Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit
stumped off to the pantries. "And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!"
"Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!" thought Mr.
Baggins, who was feeling positively flummoxed, and was beginning to wonder whether a
most wretched adventure had not come right into his house.
By the time he had got all the bottles and dishes and knives and forks and glasses and
plates and spoons and things piled up on big trays, he was getting very hot, and red in
the face, and annoyed.
"Confusticate and bebother these dwarves!" he said aloud. "Why don't they come and
lend a hand?" Lo and behold! there stood Balin and Dwalin at the door of the kitchen,
and Fili and Kili behind them, and before he could say knife they had whisked the trays
and a couple of small tables into the parlour and set out everything afresh.
Gandalf sat at the head of the party with the thirteen, dwarves all round: and Bilbo sat on
a stool at the fireside, nibbling at a biscuit (his appetite was quite taken away), and trying
to look as if this was all perfectly ordinary and. not in the least an adventure. The
dwarves ate and ate, and talked and talked, and time got on. At last they pushed their
chairs back, and Bilbo made a move to collect the plates and glasses.
"I suppose you will all stay to supper?" he said in his politest unpressing tones. "Of
course!" said Thorin. "And after. We shan't get through the business till late, and we
must have some music first. Now to clear up!"
Thereupon the twelve dwarves-not Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to
Gandalf-jumped to their feet and made tall piles of all the things.
Off they went, not waiting for trays, balancing columns of plates, each with a bottle on
the top, with one hand, while the hobbit ran after them almost squeaking with fright:
"please be careful!" and "please, don't trouble! I can manage." But the dwarves only
started to sing:
"Chip the glasses and crack the plates!
Blunt the knives and bend the forks!
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates-
Smash the bottles and burn the corks!
Cut the cloth and tread on the fat!
Pour the milk on the pantry floor!
Leave the bones on the bedroom mat!
Splash the wine on every door!
Dump the crocks in a boiling bawl;
Pound them up with a thumping pole;
And when you've finished, if any are whole,
7. Send them down the hall to roll !
That's what Bilbo Baggins hates!
So, carefully! carefully with the plates!"
And of course they did none of these dreadful things, and everything was cleaned and
put away safe as quick as lightning, while the hobbit was turning round and round in the
middle of the kitchen trying to see what they were doing. Then they went back, and
found Thorin with his feet on the fender smoking a pipe. He was blowing the most
enormous smoke-rings, and wherever he told one to go, it went-up the chimney, or
behind the clock on the mantelpiece, or under the table, or round and round the ceiling;
but wherever it went it was not quick enough to escape Gandalf. Pop! he sent a smaller
smokering from his short clay-pipe straight through each one of Thorin's. The Gandalf's
smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the wizard's head. He had
quite a cloud of them about him already, and in the dim light it made him look strange
and sorcerous. Bilbo stood still and watched-he loved smoke-rings-and then be blushed
to think how proud he had been yesterday morning of the smoke-rings he had sent up
the wind over The Hill.
"Now for some music!" said Thorin. "Bring out the instruments!"
Kili and Fili rushed for their bags and brought back little fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori
brought out flutes from somewhere inside their coats; Bombur produced a drum from the
hall; Bifur and Bofur went out too, and came back with clarinets that they had left among
the walking-sticks Dwalin and Balin said: "Excuse me, I left mine in the porch!" "Just
bring mine in with you," said Thorin. They came back with viols as big as themselves,
and with Thorin's harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful gold-en harp, and
when Thorin struck it the music began all at once, so sudden and sweet that
Bilbo forgot everything else, and was swept away into dark lands under strange moons,
far over The Water and very far from his hobbit-hole under The Hill.
The dark came into the room from the little window that opened in the side of The Hill;
the firelight flickered-it was April-and still they played on, while the shadow of Gandalf's
beard wagged against the wall.
The dark filled all the room, and the fire died down, and the shadows were lost, and still
they played on. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing as they played,
deep-throated singing of the dwarves in the deep places of their ancient homes; and this
is like a fragment of their song, if it can be like their song without their music.
"Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.
For ancient king and elvish lord
There many a gloaming golden hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.
8. Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.
Goblets they carved there for themselves
And harps of gold; where no man delves
There lay they long, and many a song
Was sung unheard by men or elves.
The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches biased with light,
The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
The dragon's ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.
The mountain smoked beneath the moon;
The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.
They fled their hall to dying -fall
Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.
Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!"
As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning
and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of
dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the
great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and
wear a sword instead of a walkingstick.
He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He
thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns.
Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up--probably somebody lighting a
wood-fire-and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all
to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-
Hill, again.
He got up trembling. He had less than half a mind to fetch the lamp, and more than half
a mind to pretend to, and go and hide behind the beer barrels in the cellar, and not come
out again until all the dwarves had gone away.
Suddenly he found that the music and the singing had stopped, and they were all looking
at him with eyes shining in the dark.
"Where are you going?" said Thorin, in a tone that seemed to show that he
guessed both halves of the hobbit's mind.
"What about a little light?" said Bilbo apologetically.
"We like the dark," said the dwarves. "Dark for dark business! There are many hours
before dawn."
"Of course!" said Bilbo, and sat down in a hurry. He missed the stool and sat in the
fender, knocking over the poker and shovel with a crash.
"Hush!" said Gandalf. "Let Thorin speak!" And this is bow Thorin began.
"Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are not together in the house of our friend and
fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbitmay the hair on his toes
9. never fall out! all praise to his wine and ale!-" He paused for breath and for a polite
remark from the hob-bit, but the compliments were quite lost on-poor Bilbo Baggins, who
was wagging his mouth in protest at being called audacious and worst of all fellow
conspirator, though no noise came out, he was so flummoxed. So Thorin went on:
"We are met to discuss our plans, our ways, means, policy and devices. We shall soon
before the break of day start on our long journey, a journey from which some of us, or
perhaps all of us (except our friend and counsellor, the ingenious wizard Gandalf) may
never return. It is a solemn moment. Our object is, I take it, well known to us all. To the
estimable Mr. Baggins, and perhaps to one or two of the younger dwarves (I think I
should be right in naming Kili and Fili, for instance), the exact situation at the moment
may require a little brief explanation-"
This was Thorin's style. He was an important dwarf. If he had been allowed, he would
probably have gone on like this until he was out of breath, without telling any one there
'anything that was not known already. But he was rudely interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn't
bear it any longer. At may never return he began to feel a shriek coming up inside, and
very soon it burst out like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel. All the
dwarves sprang Bp knocking over the table. Gandalf struck a blue light on the end of his
magic staff, and in its firework glare the poor little hobbit could be seen kneeling on the
hearth-rug, shaking like a jelly that was melting. Then he fell flat on the floor, and kept on
calling out "struck by lightning, struck by lightning!" over and over again; and that was all
they could get out of him for a long time. So they took him and laid him out of the way on
the drawingroom sofa with a drink at his elbow, and they went back to their dark
"Excitable little fellow," said Gandalf, as they sat down again. "Gets funny queer fits, but
he is one of the best, one of the best-as fierce as a dragon in a pinch."
If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realise that this was only poetical
exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's greatgranduncle
Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could ride a horse. He charged the
ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their
king Gol-firnbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through
the air and went down a rabbit hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of
Golf invented at the same moment.
In the meanwhile, however, Bullroarer's gentler descendant was reviving in the drawing-
room. After a while and a drink he crept nervously to the door of the parlour. This is what
he heard, Gloin speaking: "Humph!" (or some snort more or less like that). "Will he do,
do you think? It is all very well for Gandalf to talk about this hobbit being fierce, but one
shriek like that in a moment of excitement would be enough to wake the dragon and all
his relatives, and kill the lot of us. I think it sounded more like fright than excitement!
In fact, if it bad not been for the sign on the door, I should have been sure we had come
to the wrong house. As soon as I clapped eyes on the little fellow bobbing and puffing on
the mat, I had my doubts. He looks more like a grocerthan a burglar!"
Then Mr. Baggins turned the handle and went in. The Took side had won. He suddenly
felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce. As for little fellow
bobbing on the mat it almost made him really fierce. Many a time afterwards the Baggins
part regretted what he did now, and he said to himself: "Bilbo, you were a fool; you
walked right in and put your foot in it."
"Pardon me," he said, "if I have overheard words that you were saying. I don't pretend to
understand what you are talking about, or your reference to burglars, but I think I am
right in believing" (this is what he called being on his dignity) "that you think I am no
good. I will show you. I have no signs on my door-it was painted a week ago-, and I am
quite sure you have come to the wrong house. As soon as I saw your funny faces on the
10. door-step, I had my doubts. But treat it as the right one. Tell me what you want done,
and I will try it, if I have to walk from here to the East of East and fight the wild
Were-worms in the Last Desert. I bad a great-great-great-granduncle once, Bullroarer
Took, and -"
"Yes, yes, but that was long ago," said Gloin. "I was talking about you.
And I assure you there is a mark on this door-the usual one in the trade, or used to be.
Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, that's how it is
usually read. You ^an say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some of
them do. It's all the same to us.
Gandalf told us that there was a man of the sort in these parts looking for a Job at once,
and that he had arranged for a meeting here this Wednesday teatime."
"Of course there is a mark," said Gandalf. "I put it there myself. For very good reasons.
You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr. Baggins.
Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house, and you can stop at
thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal."
He scowled so angrily at Gloin that the dwarf huddled back in his chair; and when Bilbo
tried to open his mouth to ask a question, he turned and frowned at him and stuck oat
his bushy eyebrows, till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. "That's right," said
Gandalf. "Let's have no more argument.
I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to !6te enough for all of you. If I say he is a
Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than
you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live
to thank me yet. Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch the lamp, and let's have little light on this!"
On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shad he spread a piece
of parchment rather like a map.
"This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin, he said in answer to the dwarves'
excited questions. "It is a plan of the Mountain."
"I don't see that this will help us much," said Thorin disappointedly after a glance. "I
remember the Mountain well enough and the lands about it.
And I know where Mirkwood is, and the Withered Heath where the great dragons bred."
"There is a dragon marked in red on the Mountain, said Balin, "but it will be easy enough
to find him without that, if ever we arrive there."
"There is one point that you haven't noticed," said the wizard, "and that is the secret
entrance. You see that rune on the West side, and the hand pointing to it from the other
runes? That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls.
"It may have been secret once," said Thorin, "but how do we know that it is secret any
longer? Old Smaug had lived there long enough now to find out anything there is to
know about those caves."
"He may-but he can't have used it for years and years. "Why?"
"Because it is too small. 'Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast' say the
runes, but Smaug could not creep into a hole that size, not even when he was a young
dragon, certainly not after devouring so many of the dwarves and men of Dale."
"It seems a great big hole to me," squeaked Bilbo (who had no experience of dragons
and only of hobbit-holes) He was getting excited and interested again, so that he forgot
to keep his mouth shut. He loved maps, and in his hall there hung a large one of the
Country Round with all his favourite walks marked on it in red ink. "How could such a
large door be kept secret from everybody outside, apart from the dragon?" he asked. He
was only a little hobbit you must remember.
"In lots of ways," said Gandalf. "But in what way this one has been hidden we don't know
without going to see. From what it says on the map I should guess there is a closed door
11. which has been made to look exactly like the side of the Mountain. That is the usual
dwarves' method- I think that is right, isn't it?" "Quite right," said Thorin.
"Also," went on Gandalf, "I forgot to mention that with the map went a key, a small and
curious key. Here it is!" he said, and handed to Thorin a key with a long barrel and
intricate wards, made of silver. "Keep it safe!"
"Indeed I will," said Thorin, and he fastened it upon a fine chain that hung about his neck
and under his jacket. "Now things begin to look more hopeful. This news alters them
much for-the better. So far we have had no clear idea what to do. We thought of going
East, as quiet and careful as we could, as far as the Long Lake. After that the trouble
would begin."
"A long time before that, if I know anything about the loads East," interrupted Gandalf.
"We might go from there up along the River Running," went on Thorin taking no notice,
"and so to the ruins of Dale-the old town in the valley there, under the shadow of the
Mountain. But we none of us liked the idea of the Front Gate. The river runs right out of it
through the great cliff at the South of the Mountain, and out of it comes the dragon too-
far too often, unless he has changed."
"That would be no good," said the wizard, "not without a mighty Warrior, even a Hero. I
tried to find one; but warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands, and in this
neighbourhood heroes are scarce, or simply lot to be found. Swords in these parts are
mostly blunt, and axes are used for trees, and shields as cradles or dish-covers; and
dragons are comfortably faroff (and therefore legendary). That is why I settled on
burglary-especially when I remembered the existence of a Side-door. And here is our
little Bilbo Baggins, the burglar, the chosen and selected burglar. So now let's get on and
make some plans."
"Very well then," said Thorin, "supposing the burglar-expert gives us some ideas or
suggestions." He turned with mock-politeness to Bilbo.
"First I should like to know a bit more about things," said he, feeling all confused and a
bit shaky inside, but so far still lookishly determined to go on with things. "I mean about
the gold and the dragon, and all that, and how it got there, and who it belongs to, and so
on and further."
"Bless me!" said Thorin, "haven't you got a map? and didn't you hear our song? and
haven't we been talking about all this for hours?"
"All the same, I should like it all plain and clear," said he obstinately, putting on his
business manner (usually reserved for people who tried to borrow money off him), and
doing his best to appear wise and prudent and professional and live up to Gandalf's
recommendation. "Also I should like to know about risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time
required and remuneration, and so forth"-by which he meant: "What am I going to get
out of it? and am I going to come back alive?"
"O very well," said Thorin. "Long ago in my grandfather Thror's time our family was
driven out of the far North, and came back with all their wealth and their tools to this
Mountain on the map. It had been discovered by my far ancestor, Thrain the Old, but
now they mined and they tunnelled and they made huger halls and greater workshops -
and in addition I believe they found a good deal of gold and a great many jewels too.
Anyway they grew immensely rich and famous, and my grandfather was King under the
Mountain again and treated with great reverence by the mortal men, who lived to the
South, and were gradually spreading up the Running River as far as the valley
overshadowed by the Mountain. They built the merry town of Dale there in those days.
Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skilful most richly. Fathers
would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in
food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. Altogether those
were good days for us, and the poorest of us had money to spend and to lend, and
12. leisure to make beautiful things just for the fun of it, not to speak of the most marvellous
and magical toys, the like of which is not to be found in the world now-a-days. So my
grandfather's halls became full of armour and jewels and carvings and cups, and the toy-
market of Dale was the wonder of the North.
"Undoubtedly that was what brought the dragon. Dragons steal gold and jewels, you
know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard
their plunder as long as they live (which is practically forever, unless they are killed), and
never enjoy a brass ring of it. Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad,
though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; and they can't make
a thing for themselves, not even mend a little loose scale of their armour. There were
lots of dragons in the North in those days, and gold was probably getting scarce up
there, with the dwarves flying south or getting killed, and all the general waste and
destruction that dragons make going from bad to worse. There was a most specially
greedy, strong and wicked worm called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and
came south. The first we heard of it was a noise like a hurricane coming from the North,
and the pine-trees on the Mountain creaking and cracking in the wind. Some of the
dwarves who happened to be outside (I was one luckily -a fine adventurous lad in those
days, always wandering about, and it saved my life that day)-well, from a good way off
we saw the dragon settle on our mountain in a spout of flame. Then he came down the
slopes and when he reached the woods they all went up in fire. By that time all the bells
were ringing in Dale and the warriors were arming. The dwarves rushed out of their great
gate; but there was the dragon waiting for them. None escaped that way. The river
rushed up in steam and a fog fell on Dale, and in the fog the dragon came on them and
destroyed most of the warriors-the usual unhappy story, it was only too common in those
days. Then he went back and crept in through the Front Gate and routed out all the
halls, and lanes, and tunnels, alleys, cellars, mansions and passages. After that there
were no dwarves left alive inside, and he took all their wealth for himself. Probably, for
that is the dragons' way, he has piled it all up in a great heap far inside, and sleeps on it
for a bed. Later he used to crawl out of the great gate and come by night to Dale, and
carry away people, especially maidens, to eat, until Dale was ruined, and all the people
dead or gone. What goes on there now I don't know for certain, but I don't suppose
anyone lives nearer to the Mountain than the far edge of the Long Lake now-a-days.
"The few of us that were well outside sat and wept in hiding, and cursed Smaug; and
there we were unexpectedly joined by my father and my grandfather with singed beards.
They looked very grim but they said very little. When I asked how they had got away,
they told me to hold my tongue, and said that one day in the proper time I should know.
After that we went away, and we have had to earn our livings as best we could up and
down the lands, often enough sinking as low as blacksmith-work or even coalmining. But
we have never forgotten our stolen treasure. And even now, when I will allow we have a
good bit laid by and are not so badly off"-here Thorin stroked the gold chain round his
neck-"we still mean to get it back, and to bring our curses home to Smaugif we can.
"I have often wondered about my father's and my grandfather's escape. I see now they
must have had a private Side-door which only they knew about. But apparently they
made a map, and I should like to know how Gandalf got hold of it, and why it did not
come down to me, the rightful heir."
"I did not 'get hold of it,' I was given it," said the wizard.
"Your grandfather Thror was killed, you remember, in the mines of Moria by Azog the
Goblin -"
"Curse his name, yes," said Thorin.
"And Thrain your father went away on the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last
Thursday, and has never been seen by you since-"
13. "True, true," said Thorin.
"Well, your father gave me this to give to you; and if I have chosen my own time and way
of handing it over, you can hardly blame me, considering the trouble I had to find you.
Your father could not remember his own name when he gave me the paper, and he
never told me yours; so on the whole I think I ought to be praised and thanked. Here it
is," said he handing the map to Thorin.
"I don't understand," said Thorin, and Bilbo felt he would have liked to say the same. The
explanation did not seem to explain.
"Your grandfather," said the wizard slowly and grimly, "gave the map to his son for safety
before he went to the mines of Moria. Your father went away to try his luck with the map
after your grandfather was killed; and lots of adventures of a most unpleasant sort he
had, but he never got near the Mountain. How he got there I don't know, but I found him
a prisoner in the dungeons of the Necromancer."
"Whatever were you doing there?" asked Thorin with a shudder, and all the dwarves
"Never you mind. I was finding things out, as usual; and a nasty dangerous business it
was. Even I, Gandalf, only just escaped. I tried to save your father, but it was too late.
He was witless and wandering, and had forgotten almost everything except the map and
the key." "We have long ago paid the goblins of Moria," said Thorin; "we must give a
thought to the Necromancer." "Don't be absurd! He is an enemy quite beyond the
powers of all the dwarves put together, if they could all be collected again from the four
corners of the world. The one thing your father wished was for his son to read the map
and use the key. The dragon and the Mountain are more than big enough tasks for you!"
"Hear, hear!" said Bilbo, and accidentally said it aloud, "Hear what?" they all said turning
suddenly towards him, and he was so flustered that he answered "Hear what I have got
to say!" "What's that?" they asked.
"Well, I should say that you ought to go East and have a look round.
After all there is the Side-door, and dragons must sleep sometimes, I suppose.
If you sit on the doorstep long enough, I daresay you will think of something.
And well, don't you know, I think we have talked long enough for one night, if you see
what I mean. What about bed, and an early start, and all that? I will give you a good
breakfast before you go."
"Before we go, I suppose you mean," said Thorin. "Aren't you the burglar?
And isn't sitting on the door-step your job, not to speak of getting inside the door? But I
agree about bed and breakfast. I like eggs with my ham, when starting on a journey:
fried not poached, and mind you don't break 'em."
After all the others had ordered their breakfasts without so much as a please (which
annoyed Bilbo very much), they all got up. The hobbit had to find room for them all, and
filled all his spare-rooms and made beds on chairs and sofas, before he got them all
stowed and went to his own little bed very tired and not altogether happy. One thing he
did make his mind up about was not to bother to get up very early and cook everybody
else's wretched breakfast. The Tookishness was wearing off, and he was not now quite
so sure that he was going on any journey in the morning. As he lay in bed he could
hear Thorin still humming to himself in the best bedroom next to him:
"Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To find our long-forgotten gold."
14. Bilbo went to sleep with that in his ears, and it gave him very uncomfortable dreams. It
was long after the break of day, when he woke up.
Chapter 2
Roast Mutton
Up jumped Bilbo, and putting on his dressing-gown went into the diningroom.
There he saw nobody, but all the signs of a large and hurried breakfast.
There was a fearful mess in the room, and piles of unwashed crocks in the kitchen.
Nearly every pot and pan he possessed seemed to have been used. The washing-up
was so dismally real that Bilbo was forced to believe the party of the night before had not
been part of his bad dreams, as he had rather hoped.
Indeed he was really relieved after all to think that they had all gone without him, and
without bothering to wake him up ("but with never a thankyou" he thought); and yet in a
way he could not help feeling just a trifle disappointed. The feeling surprised him.
"Don't be a fool, Bilbo Baggins!" he said to himself, "thinking of dragons and all that
outlandish nonsense at your age!" So be put on an apron, lit fires, boiled water, and
washed up. Then he had a nice little breakfast in the kitchen before turning out the
dining-room. By that time the sun was shining; and the front door was open, letting in a
warm spring breeze. Bilbo began to whistle loudly and to forget about the night before. In
fact he was just sitting down to a nice little second breakfast in the dining-room by the
open window, when in walked Gandalf. "My dear fellow," said he, "whenever are you
going to come? What about an early start?-and here you are having breakfast, or
whatever you call it, at half past ten! They left you the message, because they could not
"What message?" said poor Mr. Baggins all in a fluster.
"Great Elephants!" said Gandalf, "you are not at all yourself this morning-you have never
dusted the mantel- piece!"
"What's that got to do with it? I have had enough to do with washing up for fourteen!"
"If you had dusted the mantelpiece you would have found this just under the clock," said
Gandalf, handing Bilbo a note (written, of course, on his own note-paper).
This is what he read:
"Thorin and Company to Burglar Bilbo greeting!
For your hospitality our sincerest thanks, and for your offer of professional assistance
our grateful acceptance. Terms: cash on delivery, up to and not exceeding one
fourteenth of total profits (if any); all traveling expenses guaranteed in any event; funeral
expenses to be defrayed by us or our representatives, if occasion arises and the matter
is not otherwise arranged for.
"Thinking it unnecessary to disturb your esteemed repose, we have proceeded in
advance to make requisite preparations, and shall await your respected person at the
Green Dragon Inn, Bywater, at II a.m. sharp. Trusting that you will be punctual.
"We have the honour to remain
"Yours deeply
"Thorin & Co."
"That leaves you just ten minutes. You will have to run," said Gandalf.
"But-" said Bilbo.
"No time for it," said the wizard.
"But-"said Bilbo again.
"No time for that either! Off you go!"
To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside,
without a hat, walking-stick or say money, or anything that he usually took when he went
15. out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys
into Gandalf's hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane,
past the great Mill, across The Water, and then on for a whole mile or more. Very puffed
he was, when he got to Bywater just on the stroke of eleven, and found he had come
without a pocket-handkerchief!
"Bravo!" said Balin who was standing at the inn door looking out for him.
Just then all the others came round the corner of the road from the village. They were on
ponies, and each pony was slung about with all kinds of baggages, packages, parcels,
and paraphernalia. There was a very small pony, apparently for Bilbo.
"Up you two get, and off we go!" said Thorin.
"I'm awfully sorry," said Bilbo, "but I have come without my hat, and I have left my
pocket-handkerchief behind, and I haven't got any money. I didn't get your note until
after 10.45 to be precise."
"Don't be precise," said Dwalin, "and don't worry! You will have to manage without
pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journey's
end. As for a hat, I have got a spare hood and cloak in my luggage."
That's how they all came to start, jogging off from the inn one fine morning just before
May, on laden ponies; and Bilbo was wearing a dark-green hood (a little weather-
stained) and a dark-green cloak borrowed from Dwalin.
They were too large for him, and he looked rather comic. What his father Bungo would
have thought of him, I daren't think. His only comfort was he couldn't be mistaken for a
dwarf, as he had no beard.
They had not been riding very long when up came Gandalf very splendid on a white
horse. He had brought a lot of pocket-handkerchiefs, and Bilbo's pipe and tobacco. So
after that the party went along very merrily, and they told stories or sang songs as they
rode forward all day, except of course when they stopped for meals. These didn't come
quite as often as Bilbo would have liked them, but still he began to feel that adventures
were not so bad after all. At first they had passed through hobbit-lands, a wild
respectable country inhabited by decent folk, with good roads, an inn or two, and now
and then a dwarf or a farmer ambling by on business. Then they came to lands where
people spoke strangely, and sang songs Bilbo had never heard before. Now they had
gone on far into the Lone-lands, where there were no people left, no inns, and the roads
grew steadily worse. Not far ahead were dreary hills, rising higher and higher, dark with
trees. On some of them were old castles with an evil look, as if they had been built by
wicked people. Everything seemed gloomy, for the weather that day had taken a nasty
turn. Mostly it had been as good as May can be, even in merry tales, but now it was cold
and wet. In the Lonelands they had to camp when they could, but at least it had been
dry. "To think it will soon be June," grumbled Bilbo as he splashed along behind the
others in a very muddy track. It was after tea-time; it was pouring with rain, and had
been all day; his hood was dripping into his eyes, his cloak was full of water; the pony
was tired and stumbled on stones; the others were too grumpy to talk. "And I'm sure the
rain has got into the dry clothes and into the food-bags," thought Bilbo. "Bother burgling
and everything to do with it!
I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!" It
was not the last time that he wished that!
Still the dwarves jogged on, never turning round or taking any notice of the hobbit.
Somewhere behind the grey clouds the sun must have gone down, for it began to get
dark. Wind got up, and the willows along the river-bank bent and sighed. I don't know
what river it was, a rushing red one, swollen with the rains of the last few days, that
came down from the hills and mountains in front of them. Soon it was nearly dark. The
winds broke up the grey clouds, and a waning moon appeared above the hills between
16. the flying rags. Then they stopped, and Thorin muttered something about supper, "and
where shall we get a dry patch to sleep on?" Not until then did they notice that Gandalf
was missing. So far he had come all the way with them, never saying if he was in the
adventure or merely keeping them company for a while. He had eaten most, talked
most, and laughed most. But now he simply was not there at all!
"Just when a wizard would have been most useful, too," groaned Dori and Nori (who
shared the hobbit's views about regular meals, plenty and often).
They decided in the end that they would have to camp where they were. So far they had
not camped before on this journey, and though they knew that they soon would have to
camp regularly, when they were among the Misty Mountains and far from the lands of
respectable people, it seemed a bad wet evening to begin, on. They moved to a clump
of trees, and though it was drier under them, the wind shook the rain off the leaves, and
the drip, drip, was most annoying.
Also the mischief seemed to have got into the fire. Dwarves can make a fire almost
anywhere out of almost anything, wind or no wind; but they could not do it that night, not
even Oin and Gloin, who were specially good at it.
Then one of the ponies took fright at nothing and bolted. He got into the river before they
could catch him; and before they could get him out again, Fili and Kili were nearly
drowned, and all the baggage that he carried was washed away off him. Of course it was
mostly food, and there was mighty little left for supper, and less for breakfast. There they
all sat glum and wet and muttering, while Oin and Gloin went on trying to light the fire,
and quarrelling about it. Bilbo was sadly reflecting that adventures are not all pony-rides
in May-sunshine, when Balin, who was always their look-out man, said: "There's a light
over there!" There was a hill some way off with trees on it, pretty thick in parts. Out of the
dark mass of the trees they could now see a light shining, a reddish comfortable-looking
light, as it might be a fire or torches twinkling. When they had looked at it for some while,
they fell to arguing. Some said "no" and some said "yes." Some said they could but go
and see, and anything was better than little supper, less breakfast, and wet clothes all
the night. Others said: "These parts are none too well known, and are too near the
mountains. Travellers seldom come this way now. The old maps are no use: things have
changed for the worse and the road is unguarded.
They have seldom even heard of the king round here, and the less inquisitive you are as
you go along, the less trouble you are likely to find." Some said:
"After all there are fourteen of us." Others said: "Where has Gandalf got to?" This remark
was repeated by everybody. Then the rain began to pour down worse than ever, and Oin
and Gloin began to fight. That settled it. "After all we have got a burglar with us," they
said; and so they made off, leading their ponies (with all due and proper caution) in the
direction of the light. They came to the hill and were soon in the wood. Up the hill they
went; but there was no proper path to be seen, such as might lead to a house or a farm;
and do what they could they made a deal of rustling and crackling and creaking (and a
good deal of grumbling and drafting), as they went through the trees in the pitch dark.
Suddenly the red light shone out very bright through the tree-trunks not far ahead. "Now
it is the burglar's turn," they said, meaning Bilbo. "You must go on and find out all about
that light, and what it is for, and if all is perfectly safe and canny," said Thorin to the
hobbit. "Now scuttle off, and come back quick, if all is well. If not, come back if you can!
It you can't, hoot twice like a barn-owl and once like a screech-owl, and we will do what
we can."
Off Bilbo had to go, before he could explain that he could not hoot even once like any
kind of owl any more than fly like a bat. But at any rate hobbits can move quietly in
woods, absolutely quietly. They take a pride in it, and Bilbo had sniffed more than once
at what he called "all this dwarvish racket," as they went along, though I don't sup-pose
17. you or I would notice anything at all on a windy night, not if the whole cavalcade had
passed two feet off. As for Bilbo walking primly towards the red light, I don't suppose
even a weasel would have stirred a whisker at it. So, naturally, he got right up to the fire-
for fire it was without disturbing anyone. And this is what he saw. Three very large
persons sitting round a very large fire of beech-logs.
They were toasting mutton on long spits of wood, and licking the gravy off their fingers.
There was a fine toothsome smell. Also there was a barrel of good drink at hand, and
they were drinking out of jugs. But they were trolls.
Obviously trolls. Even Bilbo, in spite of his sheltered life, could see that: from the great
heavy faces of them, and their size, and the shape of their legs, not to mention their
language, which was not drawing-room fashion at all, at all.
"Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey, if it don't look like mutton again tomorrow,"
said one of the trolls.
"Never a blinking bit of manflesh have we had for long enough," said a second. "What
the 'ell William was a-thinkin' of to bring us into these parts at all, beats me - and the
drink runnin' short, what's more," he said jogging the elbow of William, who was taking a
pull at his jug.
William choked. "Shut yer mouth!" he said as soon as he could. "Yer can't expect folk to
stop here for ever just to be et by you and Bert. You've et a village and a half between
yer, since we come down from the mountains. How much more d'yer want? And time's
been up our way, when yer'd have said 'thank yer Bill' for a nice bit o' fat valley mutton
like what this is." He took a big bite off a sheep's leg he was toasting, and wiped his lips
on his sleeve.
Yes, I am afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with only one head each. After
hearing all this Bilbo ought to have done something at once.
Either he should have gone back quietly and warned his friends that there were three
fair-sized trolls at hand in a nasty mood, quite likely to try toasted dwarf, or even pony,
for a change; or else he should have done a bit of good quick burgling. A really first-
class and legendary burglar would at this point have picked the trolls' pockets-it is nearly
always worthwhile if you can manage it-, pinched the very mutton off the spite, purloined
the beer, and walked off without their noticing him. Others more practical but with less
professional pride would perhaps have stuck a dagger into each of them before they
observed it. Then the night could have been spent cheerily.
Bilbo knew it. He had read of a good many things he had never seen or done. He was
very much alarmed, as well as disgusted; he wished himself a hundred miles away, and
yet-and yet somehow he could not go straight back to Thorin and Company empty-
handed. So he stood and hesitated in the shadows. Of the various burglarious
proceedings he had heard of picking the trolls' pockets seemed the least difficult, so at
last he crept behind a tree just behind William.
Bert and Tom went off to the barrel. William was having another drink.
Then Bilbo plucked up courage and put his little hand in William's enormous pocket.
There was a purse in it, as big as a bag to Bilbo. "Ha!" thought he warming to his new
work as he lifted it carefully out, "this is a beginning!"
It was! Trolls' purses are the mischief, and this was no exception. "
'Ere, 'oo are you?" it squeaked, as it left the pocket; and William turned round at once
and grabbed Bilbo by the neck, before he could duck behind the tree.
"Blimey, Bert, look what I've copped!" said William.
"What is it?" said the others coming up.
"Lumme, if I knows! What are yer?"
"Bilbo Baggins, a bur- a hobbit," said poor Bilbo, shaking all over, and wondering how to
make owl-noises before they throttled him.
18. "A burrahobbit?" said they a bit startled. Trolls are slow in the uptake, and mighty
suspicious about anything new to them.
"What's a burrahobbit got to do with my pocket, anyways?" said William.
"And can yer cook 'em?" said Tom.
"Yer can try," said Bert, picking up a skewer.
"He wouldn't make above a mouthful," said William, who had already had a fine supper,
"not when he was skinned and boned."
"P'raps there are more like him round about, and we might make a pie," said Bert. "Here
you, are there any more of your sort a-sneakin' in these here woods, yer nassty little
rabbit," said he looking at the hobbit's furry feet; and he picked him up by the toes and
shook him.
"Yes, lots," said Bilbo, before he remembered not to give his friends
away. "No, none at all, not one," he said immediately afterwards.
"What d'yer mean?" said Bert, holding him right away up, by the hair this time.
"What I say," said Bilbo gasping. "And please don't cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook
myself, and cook bet-ter than I cook, if you see what I mean.
I'll cook beautifully for you, a perfectly beautiful breakfast for you, if only you won't have
me for supper."
"Poor little blighter," said William. He had already had as much supper as he could hold;
also he had had lots of beer. "Poor little blighter! Let him go!"
"Not till he says what he means by lots and none at all," said Bert. "I don't want to have
me throat cut in me sleep. Hold his toes in the fire, till he talks!"
"I won't have it," said William. "I caught him anyway."
"You're a fat fool, William," said Bert, "as I've said afore this evening."
"And you're a lout!"
"And I won't take that from you. Bill Huggins," says Bert, and puts his fist in William's
Then there was a gorgeous row. Bilbo had just enough wits left, when Bert dropped him
on the ground, to scramble out of the way of their feet, before they were fighting like
dogs, and calling one another all sorts of perfectly true and applicable names in very
loud voices. Soon they were locked in one another's arms, and rolling nearly into the fire
kicking and thumping, while Tom whacked at then both with a branch to bring them to
their senses-and that of course only made them madder than ever. That would have
been the time for Bilbo to have left. But his poor little feet had been very squashed in
Bert's big paw, and he had no breath in his body, and his head was going round; so
there he lay for a while panting, just outside the circle of firelight.
Right in the middle of the fight up came Balin. The dwarves had heard noises from a
distance, and after wait-ing for some time for Bilbo to come back, or to hoot like an owl,
they started off one by one to creep towards the light as quietly as they could. No sooner
did Tom see Balin come into the light than he gave an awful howl. Trolls simply detest
the very sight of dwarves (uncooked). Bert and Bill stopped fighting immediately, and "a
sack, Tom, quick!" they said, before Balin, who was wondering where in all this
commotion Bilbo was, knew what was happening, a sack was over his head, and he was
"There's more to come yet," said Tom, "or I'm mighty mistook. Lots and none at all, it is,"
said he. "No burra- hobbits, but lots of these here dwarves. That's about the shape of it!"
"I reckon you're right," said Bert, "and we'd best get out of the light."
And so they did. With sacks in their hands, that they used for carrying off mutton and
other plunder, they waited in the shadows. As each dwarf came up and looked at the
fire, and the spilled jugs, and the gnawed mutton, in surprise, pop! went a nasty smelly
sack over his head, and he was down. Soon Dwalin lay by Balin, and Fili and Kili
19. together, and Dori and Nori and Ori all in a heap, and Oin and Gloin and Bifur and Bofur
and Bombur piled uncomfortably near the fire.
"That'll teach 'em," said Tom; for Bifur and Bombur had given a lot of trouble, and fought
like mad, as dwarves will when cornered.
Thorin came last-and he was not caught unawares. He came expecting mischief, and
didn't need to see his friends' legs sticking out of sacks to tell him that things were not all
well. He stood outside in the shadows some way off, and said: "What's all this trouble?
Who has been knocking my people about?"
"It's trolls!" said Bilbo from behind a tree. They had forgotten all about him. "They're
hiding in the bushes with sacks," said he.
"O! are they?" said Thorin, and he jumped forward to the fire, before they could leap on
him. He caught up a big branch all on fire at one end; and Bert got that end in his eye
before he could step aside. That put him out of the battle for a bit. Bilbo did his best. He
caught hold of Tom's leg-as well as he could, it was thick as a young tree-trunk -but he
was sent spinning up into the top of some bushes, when Tom kicked the sparks up in
Thorin's face.
Tom got the branch in his teeth for that, and lost one of the front ones.
It made him howl, I can tell you. But just at that moment William came up behind and
popped a sack right over Thorin's head and down to his toes. And so the fight ended. A
nice pickle they were all in now: all neatly tied up in sacks, with three angry trolls (and
two with burns and bashes to remember) sitting by them, arguing whether they should
roast them slowly, or mince them fine and boil them, or just sit on them one by one and
squash them into jelly: and Bilbo up in a bush, with his clothes and his skin torn, not
daring to move for fear they should hear him.
It was just then that Gandalf came back. But no one saw him. The trolls had just decided
to roast the dwarves now and eat them later-that was Bert's idea, and after a lot of
argument they had all agreed to it.
"No good roasting 'em now, it'd take all night," said a voice. Bert thought it was William's.
"Don't start the argument all over-again. Bill," he said, "or it will take all night."
"Who's a-arguing?" said William, who thought it was. Bert that had spoken.
"You are," said Bert.
"You're a liar," said William; and so the argument beg all over again. In the end they
decided to mince them fine and boil them. So they got a black pot, and they took out
their knives.
"No good boiling 'em! We ain't got no water, and it's a long way to the well and all," said
a voice. Bert and William thought it was Tom's.
"Shut up!" said they, "or we'll never have done. And yer can fetch the water yerself, if yer
say any more."
"Shut up yerself!" said Tom, who thought it was William's voice. "Who's arguing but you.
I'd like to know."
"You're a booby," said William.
"Booby yerself!" said Tom.
And so the argument began all over again, and went on hotter than ever, until at last
they decided to sit on the sacks one by one and squash them, and boil them next time.
"Who shall we sit on first?" said the voice.
"Better sit on the last fellow first," said Bert, whose eye had been damaged by Thorin.
He thought Tom was talking.
"Don't talk to yerself!" said Tom. "But if you wants to sit on the last one, sit on him. Which
is he?"
"The one with the yellow stockings," said Bert.
"Nonsense, the one with the grey stockings," said a voice like William's.
20. "I made sure it was yellow," said Bert.
"Yellow it was," said William.
"Then what did yer say it was grey for?" said Bert.
"I never did. Tom said it."
"That I never did!" said Tom. "It was you."
"Two to one, so shut yer mouth!" said Bert.
"Who are you a-talkin' to?" said William.
"Now stop it!" said Tom and Bert together. "The night's gettin' on, and dawn comes early.
Let's get on with it!"
"Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!" said a voice that sounded like William's. But it
wasn't. For just at that moment the light came over the hill, and there was a mighty
twitter in the branches. William never spoke for he stood turned to stone as he stooped;
and Bert and Tom were stuck like rocks as they looked at him. And there they stand to
this day, all alone, unless the birds perch on them; for trolls, as you probably know, must
be underground before dawn, or they go back to the stuff of the mountains they are
made of, and never move again. That is what had happened to Bert and Tom and
"Excellent!" said Gandalf, as he stepped from behind a tree, and helped Bilbo to climb
down out of a thorn-bush. Then Bilbo understood. It was the wizard's voice that had kept
the trolls bickering and quarrelling, until the light came and made an end of them.
The next thing was to untie the sacks and let out the dwarves. They were nearly
suffocated, and very annoyed: they had not at all enjoyed lying there listening to the
trolls making plans for roasting them and squashing them and mincing them. They had
to hear Bilbo's account of what had happened to him twice over, before they were
"Silly time to go practising pinching and pocket-picking," said Bombur, "when what we
wanted was fire and food!"
"And that's just what you wouldn't have got of those fellows without a struggle, in any
case," said Gandalf.
"Anyhow you are wasting time now. Don't you realize that the trolls must have a cave or
a hole dug somewhere near to hide from the sun in? We must look into it!"
They searched about, and soon found the marks of trolls' stony boots going away
through the trees. They followed the tracks up the hill, until hidden by bushes they came
on a big door of stone leading to a cave. But they could not open it, not though they all
pushed while Gandalf tried various incantations.
"Would this be any good?" asked Bilbo, when they were getting tired and angry. "I found
it on the ground where the trolls had their fight." He held out a largish key, though no
doubt William had thought it very small and secret. It must have fallen out of his pocket,
very luckily, before he was turned to stone.
"Why on earth didn't you mention it before?" they cried.
Gandalf grabbed it and fitted it into the key-hole. Then the stone door swung back with
one big push, and they all went inside. There were bones on the floor and a nasty smell
was in the air; but there was a good deal of food jumbled carelessly on shelves and on
the ground, among an untidy litter of plunder, of all sorts from brass buttons to pots full of
gold coins standing in a corner. There were lots of clothes, too, hanging on the walls-too
small for trolls, I am afraid they belonged to victims-and among them were several
swords of various makes, shapes, and sizes. Two caught their eyes particularly,
because of their beautiful scabbards and jewelled hilts. Gandalf and Thorin each took
one of these; and Bilbo took a knife in a leather sheath.
It would have made only a tiny pocket-knife for a troll, but it was as good as a short
sword for the hobbit.
21. "These look like good blades," said the wizard, half drawing them and looking at them
curiously. "They were not made by any troll, nor by any smith among men in these parts
and days; but when we can read the runes on them, we shall know more about them."
"Let's get out of this horrible smell!" said Fili So they carried out the pots of coins, and
such food as was un-touched and looked fit to eat, also one barrel of ale which was still
full. By that time they felt like breakfast, and being very hungry they did not turn their
noses up at what they had got from the trolls' larder. Their own provisions were very
scanty. Now they had bread and cheese, and plenty of ale, and bacon to toast in the
embers of the fire.
After that they slept, for their night had been disturbed; (and they did nothing more till the
afternoon. Then they I brought up their ponies, and carried away the pots of gold, and
buried them very secretly not far from the track by the river, putting a great many spells
over them, just in case they ever had the-chance to come back and recover them. When
that was done, they all mounted once more, and jogged along again on the path towards
the East.
"Where did you go to, if I may ask?" said Thorin to Gandalf as they rode along.
"To look ahead," said he.
"And what brought you back in the nick of time?"
"Looking behind," said he.
"Exactly!" said Thorin; "but could you be more plain?"
"I went on to spy out our road. It will soon become dangerous and difficult. Also I was
anxious about replenishing our small stock of provisions. I had not gone very far,
however, when I met a couple of friends of mine from Rivendell."
"Where's that?" asked Bilbo,
"Don't interrupt!" said Gandalf. "You will get there in a few days now, if we're lucky, and
find out all about it As I was saying I met two of Elrond's people. They were hurrying
along for fear of the trolls. It was they who told me that three of them had come down
from the mountains and settled in the woods not far from the road; they had frightened
everyone away from the district, and they waylaid strangers.
"I immediately had a feeling that I was wanted back. Looking behind I saw a fire in the
distance and made for it. So now you know. Please be more careful, next time, or we
shall never get anywhere!"
"Thank you!" said Thorin.
Chapter 3
A Short Rest
They did not sing or tell stories that day, even though the weather improved; nor the next
day, nor the day after. They had begun to feel that danger was not far away on either
side. They camped under the stars, and their horses had more to eat than they had; for
there was plenty of grass, but there was not much in their bags, even with what they had
got from the trolls. One morning they forded a river at a wide shallow place full of the
noise of stones and foam. The far bank was steep and slippery. When they got to the top
of it, leading their ponies, they saw that the great mountains had marched down very
near to them. Already they I seemed only a day's easy journey from the feet of the
nearest. Dark and drear it looked, though there were patches of sunlight on its brown
sides, and behind its shoulders the tips of snowpeaks gleamed.
"Is that The Mountain?" asked Bilbo in a solemn voice, looking at it with round eyes. He
had never seen a thing that looked so big before.
"Of course not!" said Balin. "That is only the beginning of the Misty Mountains, and we
have to get through, or over, or under those somehow, before we can come into
22. Wilderland beyond. And it is a deal of a way even from the other side of them to the
Lonely Mountain in the East Where Smaug lies on our treasure."
"O!" said Bilbo, and just at that moment he felt more fared than he ever remembered
feeling before. He was thinking once again of his comfortable chair before the fire in his
favourite sitting-room in his hobbit-hole, and of the kettle singing. Not for the last time!
Now Gandalf led the way. "We must not miss the road, or we shall be done for," he said.
"We need food, for one thing, and rest in reasonable safetyalso it is very necessary to
tackle the Misty Mountains by the proper path, or else you will get lost in them, and have
to come back and start at the beginning again (if you ever get back at all)."
They asked him where he was making for, and he answered: "You are come to the very
edge of the Wild, as some of you may know. Hidden somewhere ahead of us is the fair
valley of Rivendell where Elrond lives in the Last Homely House. I sent a message by
my friends, and we are expected."
That sounded nice and comforting, but they had not got there yet, and it was not so easy
as it sounds to find the Last Homely House west of the Mountains. There seemed to be
no trees and no valleys and no hills to break the ground in front of them, only one vast
slope going slowly up and up to meet the feet of the nearest mountain, a wide land the
colour of heather and crumbling rock, with patches and slashes of grass-green and
moss-green showing where water might be.
Morning passed, afternoon came; but in all the silent waste there was no sign of any
dwelling. They were growing anxious, for they now saw that the house might be hidden
almost anywhere between them and the mountains. They came on unexpected valleys,
narrow with deep sides, that opened suddenly at their feet, and they looked down
surprised to see trees below them and running water at the bottom. There were gullies
that they could almost leap over; but very deep with waterfalls in them. There were dark
ravines that one could neither jump nor climb into. There were bogs, some of them
green pleasant places to look at with flowers growing bright and tall; but a pony that
walked there with a pack on its back would never have come out again.
It was indeed a much wider land from the ford to the mountains than ever you would
have guessed. Bilbo was astonished. The only path was marked with white stones some
of which were small, and others were half covered with moss or heather. Altogether it
was a very slow business following the track, even guided by Gandalf, who seemed to
know his way about pretty well.
His head and beard wagged this way and that as he looked for the stones, and they
followed his head, but they seemed no nearer to the end of the search when the day
began to fail. Tea-time had long gone by, and it seemed suppertime would soon do the
same. There were moths fluttering about, and the light became very dim, for the moon
had not risen. Bilbo's pony began to stumble over roots and stones. They came to the
edge of a steep fall in the ground so suddenly that Gandalf s horse nearly slipped down
the slope.
"Here it is at last!" he called, and the others gathered round him and looked over the
edge. They saw a valley far below. They could hear the voice of hurrying water in rocky
bed at the bottom; the scent of trees was in the air; and there was a light on the valley-
side across the water. Bilbo never forgot the way they slithered and slipped in the dusk
down the steep zig-zag path into the secret valley of Rivendell. The air grew warmer as
they got lower, and the smell of the pine-trees made him drowsy, so that every now and
again he nodded and nearly fell off, or bumped his nose on the pony's neck.
Their spirits rose as they went down and down. The trees changed to beech and oak,
and hire was a comfortable feeling in the twilight. The last green had almost faded out of
the grass, when they came at length to an open glade not far above the banks of the
23. "Hrnmm! it smells like elves!" thought Bilbo, and he looked up at the stars. They were
burning bright and blue. Just then there came a burst of song like laughter in the trees:
"O! What are you doing,
And where are you going?
Your ponies need shoeing!
The river is flowing!
O! tra-la-la-lally
here down in the valley!
O! What are you seeking,
And where are you making?
The faggots are reeking,
The bannocks are baking!
O! tril-lil-lil-lolly
the valley is jolly,
ha! ha!
O! Where are you going
With beards all a-wagging?
No knowing, no knowing
What brings Mister Baggins,
And Balin and Dwalin
down into the valley
in June
ha! ha!
O! Will you be staying,
Or will you be flying?
Your ponies are straying!
The daylight is dying!
To fly would be folly,
To stay would be jolly
And listen and hark
Till the end of the dark
to our tune
ha! ha.'"
So they laughed and sang in the trees; and pretty fair nonsense I daresay you think it.
Not that they would care they would only laugh all the more if you told them so. They
were elves of course. Soon Bilbo caught glimpses of them as the darkness deepened.
He loved elves, though he seldom met them; but he was a little frightened of them too.
Dwarves don't get on well with them.
Even decent enough dwarves like Thorin and his friends think them foolish (which is a
very foolish thing to think), or get annoyed with them. For some elves tease them and
laugh at them, and most of all at their beards.
"Well, well!" said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it
"Most astonishing wonderful!"
Then off they went into another song as ridiculous as the one I have written down in full.
At last one, a tall young fellow, came out from the trees and bowed to Gandalf and to
"Welcome to the valley!" he said.
24. "Thank you!" said Thorin a bit gruffly; but Gandalf was already off his horse and among
the elves, talking merrily with them.
"You are a little out of your way," said the elf: "that is, if you are making for the only path
across the water and to the house beyond. We will set you right, but you had best get on
foot, until you are over the bridge. Are you going to stay a bit and sing with us, or will you
go straight on? Supper is preparing over there," he said. "I can smell the Wood-fires for
the cooking."
Tired as he was, Bilbo would have liked to stay awhile. Elvish singing is not a thing to
miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.
Also he would have liked to have a few private words with these people that seemed to
know his name and all about him, although he had never been them before. He thought
their opinion of his adventure might be interesting. Elves know a lot and are wondrous
folk for news, and know what is going on among the peoples of the land, as quick as
water flows, or quicker. But the dwarves were all for supper as soon 'as possible just
then, and would not stay. On they all went, leading their ponies, till they were brought to
a good path and so at last to the very brink of the river. It was flowing fast and noisily, as
mountain-streams do of a summer evening, when sun has been all day on the snow far
up above. There was only a narrow bridge of stone without a parapet, as narrow as a
pony could well walk on; and over that they had to go, slow and careful, one by one,
each leading his pony by the bridle. The elves had brought bright lanterns to the shore,
and they sang a merry song as the party went across.
"Don't dip your beard in the foam, father!" they cried to Thorin, who was bent almost on
to his hands and knees. "It is long enough without watering it."
"Mind Bilbo doesn't eat all the cakes!" they called. "He is too fat to get through key-holes
"Hush, hush! Good People! and good night!" said Gandalf, who came last.
"Valleys have ears, and some elves have over merry tongues. Good night!"
And so at last they all came to the Last Homely House, and found its doors flung wide.
Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to
spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are
uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal
of telling anyway. They stayed long in that good house, fourteen days at least, and they
found it hard to leave. Bilbo would gladly have stopped there for ever and ever-even
supposing a wish would have taken him right back to his hobbit-hole without trouble. Yet
there is little to tell about their stay.
The master of the house was an elf-friend-one of those people whose fathers came into
the strange stories before the beginning of History, the wars of the evil goblins and the
elves and the first men in the North. In those days of our tale there were still some
people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond the master
of the house was their chief. He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong
as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as
summer. He comes into. many tales, but his part in the story of Bilbo's great adventure is
only a small one, though important, as you will see, if we ever get to the end of it. His
house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing,
or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not
come into that valley.
I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs that they
heard in that house. All of them, the ponies as well, grew refreshed and strong in a few
days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers and their
hopes. Their bags were filled with food and provisions light to carry but strong to bring
them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with the best advice. So the
25. time came to mid- summer eve, and they were to go on again with the early sun on
midsummer morning.
Elrond knew all about runes of every kind. That day he looked at the swords they had
brought from the trolls' lair, and he said: "These are not troll-make. They are old swords,
very old swords of the High Elves of the West, my kin. They were made in Gondolin for
the Goblin-wars. They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder, for
dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago. This, Thorin, the runes name
Orcrist, the Goblin-cleaver in the ancient tongue of Gondolin; it was a famous blade.
This, Gandalf, was Glamdring, Foe-hammer that the king of Gondolin once wore. Keep
them well!"
"Whence did the trolls get them, I wonder?" said Thorin looking at his
sword with new interest.
"I could not say," said Elrond, "but one may guess that your trolls had plundered other
plunderers, or come on the remnants of old robberies in some hold in the mountains of
the North. I have heard that there are still forgotten treasures of old to be found in the
deserted caverns of the mines of Moria, since the dwarf and goblin war."
Thorin pondered these words. "I will keep this sword in honour," he said.
"May it soon cleave goblins once again!"
"A wish that is likely to be granted soon enough in the mountains!" said Elrond. "But
show me now your map!" He took it and gazed long at it, and he shook his head; for if he
did not altogether approve of dwarves and their love of gold, he hated dragons and their
cruel wickedness, and he grieved to remember the ruin of the town of Dale and its merry
bells, and the burned banks of the bright River Running. The moon was shining in a
broad silver crescent. He held up the map and the white light shone through it. "What is
this?" he said. "There are moon-letters here, beside the plain runes which say 'five feet
high the door and three may walk abreast.' "
"What are moon-letters?" asked the hobbit full of excitement. He loved maps, as I have
told you before; and he also liked runes and letters and cunning handwriting, though
when he wrote himself it was a bit thin and spidery.
"Moon-letters are rune-letters, but you cannot see them," said Elrond, "not when you
look straight at them. They can only be seen when the moon shines behind them, and
what is more, with the more cunning sort it must be a moon of the same shape and
season as the day when they were written. The dwarves invented them and wrote them
with silver pens, as your friends could tell you. These must have been written on a
midsummer's eve in a crescent moon, a long while ago."
"What do they say?" asked Gandalf and Thorin together, a bit vexed perhaps that even
Elrond should have found this out first, though really there had not been a chance
before, and there would not have been another until goodness knows when.
"Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks," read Elrond, "and the setting sun with
the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole."
"Durin, Durin!" said Thorin. "He was the father of the fathers of the eldest race of
Dwarves, the Longbeards, and my first ancestor: I am his heir."
"Then what is Durin's Day?" asked Elrond.
"The first day of the dwarves' New Year," said Thorin, "is as all should know the first, day
of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter. We still call it Durin's Day when
the last moon of Autumn and the sun are in the sky together. But this will not help us
much, I fear, for it passes our skill in these days to guess when such a time will come
"That remains to be seen," said Gandalf. "Is there any more writing?"
"None to be seen by this moon," said Elrond, and he gave the map back to
26. Thorin; and then they went down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the
midsummer's eve.
The next morning was a midsummer's morning as fair and fresh as could be dreamed:
blue sky and never a cloud, and the sun dancing on the water. Now they rode away
amid songs of farewell and good speed, with their hearts ready for more adventure, and
with a knowledge of the road they must follow over the Misty Mountains to the land
Chapter 4
Over Hill and Under Hill
There were many paths that led up into those mountains, and many passes over them.
But most of the paths were cheats and deceptions and led nowhere or to bad ends; and
most of the passes were infested by evil things and dreadful dangers. The dwarves and
the hobbit, helped by the wise advice of Elrond and the knowledge and memory of
Gandalf, took the right road to the right pass.
Long days after they had climbed out of the valley and left the Last Homely House miles
behind, they were still going up and up and up. It was a hard path and a dangerous path,
a crooked way and a lonely and a long. Now they could look back over the lands they
had left, laid out behind them far below. Far, far away in the West, where things were
blue and faint, Bilbo knew there lay his own country of safe and comfortable things, and
his little hobbit-hole. He shivered. It was getting bitter cold up here, and the wind came
shrill among the rocks. Boulders, too, at times came galloping down the mountain-sides,
let loose by midday sun upon the snow, and passed among them (which was lucky), or
over their heads (which was alarming). The nights were comfortless and chill, and they
did not dare to sing or talk too loud, for the echoes were uncanny, and the silence
seemed to dislike being broken-except by the noise of water and the wail of wind and the
crack of stone.
"The summer is getting on down below," thought Bilbo, "and haymaking is going on and
picnics. They will be harvesting and blackberrying, before we even begin to go down the
other side at this rate." And the others were thinking equally gloomy thoughts, although
when they had said good-bye to Elrond in the high hope of a midsummer morning, they'
had spoken gaily of the passage of the mountains, and of riding swift across the lands
beyond. They had thought of coming to the secret door in the Lonely Mountain, perhaps
that very next first moon of Autumn-" and perhaps it will be Durin's Day" they had said.
Only Gandalf had shaken his head and said nothing. Dwarves had not passed that way
for many years, but Gandalf had, and he knew how evil and danger had grown and
thriven in the Wild, since the dragons had driven men from the lands, and the goblins
had spread in secret after the battle of the Mines of Moria. Even the good plans of wise
wizards like Gandalf and of good friends like Elrond go astray sometimes when you are
off on dangerous adventures over the Edge of the Wild; and Gandalf was a wise enough
wizard to know it.
He knew that something unexpected might happen, and he hardly dared to hope that
they would pass without fearful adventure over those great tall mountains with lonely
peaks and valleys where no king ruled. They did not. All was well, until one day they met
a thunderstorm - more than a thunderstorm, a thunder-battle. You know how terrific a
really big thunderstorm can be down in the land and in a river-valley; especially at times
when two great thunderstorms meet and clash. More terrible still are thunder and
lightning in the mountains at night, when storms come up from East and West and make
27. The lightning splinters on the peaks, and rocks shiver, and great crashes split the air and
go rolling and tumbling into every cave and hollow; and the darkness is filled with
overwhelming noise and sudden light.
Bilbo had never seen or imagined anything of the kind. They were high up in a narrow
place, with a dreadful fall into a dim valley at one side of them.
There they were sheltering under a hanging rock for the night, and he lay beneath a
blanket and shook from head to toe. When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he
saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out and were hurling rocks at one
another for a. game, and catching them, and tossing them down into the darkness where
they smashed among the trees far below, or splintered into little bits with a bang. Then
came a wind and a rain, and the wind whipped the rain and the hail about in every
direction, so that an overhanging rock was no protection at all. Soon they were getting
drenched and their ponies were standing with their heads down and their tails between
their legs, and some of them were whinnying with fright. They could hear the giants
guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides.
"This won't do at all!" said Thorin. "If we don't get blown off or drowned, or struck by
lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football."
"Well, if you know of anywhere better, take us there!" said Gandalf, who was feeling very
grumpy, and was far from happy about the giants himself.
The end of their argument was that they sent Fill and Kili to look for a better shelter.
They had very sharp eyes, and being the youngest of the dwarves by some fifty years
they usually got these sort of jobs (when everybody could see that it was absolutely no
use sending Bilbo). There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something (or so
Thorin said to the young dwarves). You certainly usually find something, if you look, but
it is not always quite the something you were after. So it proved on this occasion.
Soon Fili and Kili came crawling back, holding on to the rocks in the wind. "We have
found a dry cave," they said, "not far round the next corner; and ponies and all could get
"Have you thoroughly explored it?" said the wizard, who knew that caves up in the
mountains were seldom unoccupied.
"Yes, yes!" they said, though everybody knew they could not have been long about it;
they had come back too quick. "It isn't all that big, and it does not go far back."
That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves: you don't know how far they go back,
sometimes, or where a passage behind may lead to, or what is waiting for you inside.
But now Fili and Kill's news seemed good enough. So they all got up and prepared to
move. The wind was howling and the thunder still growling, and they had a business
getting themselves and their ponies along. Still it was not very far to go, and before long
they came to a big rock standing out into the path. If you stepped behind, you found a
low arch in the side of the mountain. There was just room to get the ponies through with
a squeeze, when they had been unpacked and unsaddled. As they passed under the
arch, it was good to hear the wind and the rain outside instead of all about them, and to
feel safe from the giants and their rocks. But the wizard was taking no risks. He lit up his
wand - as he did that day in Bilbo's dining-room that seemed so long ago, if you
remember-, and by its light they explored the cave from end to end.
It seemed quite a fair size, but not too large and mysterious. It had a dry floor and some
comfortable nooks. At one end there was room for the ponies; and there they stood
(mighty glad of the change) steaming, and champing in their nosebags. Oin and Gloin
wanted to light a fire at the door to dry their clothes, but Gandalf would not hear of it. So
they spread out their wet things on the floor, and got dry ones out of their bundles; then
they made their blankets comfortable, got out their pipes and blew smoke rings, which
Gandalf turned into different colours and set dancing up by the roof to amuse them.