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The Hobbit / (by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2020) -

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The Hobbit /  (by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2020) -

The Hobbit / (by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2020) -

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: 239
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The Hobbit / (by J. R. R. Tolkien, 2020) -
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2020
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J. R. R. Tolkien
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Andy Serkis
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/ / / upper-intermediate
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upper-intermediate
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10:24:42
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128 kbps
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mp3, pdf, doc

The Hobbit / :

.doc (Word) tolkien_j_r_r_-_the_hobbit.doc [4.85 Mb] (c: 7) .
.pdf tolkien_j_r_r_-_the_hobbit.pdf [4.99 Mb] (c: 4) .


: The Hobbit

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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 tube-shaped 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 coatsthe hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hillThe Hill, as all the people for many miles round called itand 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 had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours respect, but he gainedwell, you will see whether he gained anything in the end. The mother of our particular hobbitwhat 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 fat 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 hobbitof Bilbo Baggins, that iswas the famous 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 hobbitlike about them, and once in a while members of the Took-clan would go and have adventures. 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 Bilbos 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 make-up 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 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 businesses 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 his long 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 further than the brim of his shady hat. What do you mean? he said. Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a 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! Theres 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 Hill. 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 its very difficult to find anyone. I should think soin these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I cant 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 began 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 dont 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 wont be good till I move off. Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, I dont think I know your name? Yes, yes, my dear sirand I do know your name, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. And you do know my name, though you dont remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think that I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Tooks 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 Midsummers 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! he 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 elvesor sailing in ships, sailing to other shores! Bless me, life used to be quite interI 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, and that is not without hope. Indeed for your old grandfather Tooks sake, and for the sake of poor Belladonna, I will give you what you asked for. I beg your pardon, I havent asked for anything! 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 youand profitable too, very likely, if you ever get over it. Sorry! I dont want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to teaany time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good bye! With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards. What on earth did I ask him to tea for! he said to himself, as he went to the pantry. He had only just had breakfast, 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 on his staff scratched a queer sign on the hobbits 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 escaped 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 Tea 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 as 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! That 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 Dwalins 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 heas the host: he knew his duty and stuck to it however painfulhe 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 dont mind some cakeseed-cake, if you have any. 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 then to a 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 openBilbo 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 familys! 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 dont 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 sipin the corner, while the four dwarves sat round 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 adventurouswhen, ding-dong-a-ling-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. Besides, 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, before 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 had just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones, when there camea loud knock. Not a ring, but a hard rat-tat on the hobbits beautiful green door. Somebody was banging with a stick! Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry, and altogether bewildered and bewutheredthis 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 Bilbos 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 dont mention it, and stopped frowning. Now we are all here! said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoodsthe best detachable party hoodsand 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! Whats 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 mince-pies and cheese, said Bofur. And pork-pie and salad, said Bombur. And more cakesand aleand coffee, if you dont mind, called the other dwarves through the door. Put on a few eggs, theres 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 dont 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 shant get through the business till late, and we must have some music first. Now to clear up! Thereupon the twelve dwarvesnot Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to Gandalfjumped 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, dont 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! Thats 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 bowl; Pound them up with a thumping pole; And when youve finished, if any are whole, Send them down the hall to roll! Thats 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 wentup 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 smoke-ring from his short clay-pipe straight through each one of Thorins. Then Gandalfs smoke-ring would go green and come back to hover over the wizards head. He had a cloud of them about him already, and in the dim light it made him look strange and sorcerous. Bilbo stood still and watchedhe loved smoke-ringsand then he 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 Thorins harp wrapped in a green cloth. It was a beautiful golden 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 flickeredit was Apriland still they played on, while the shadow of Gandalfs 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 gleaming 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. 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 blazed with light. The bells were ringing in the dale And men looked up with faces pale; The dragons 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 a 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 walking-stick. 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 upprobably somebody lighting a wood-fireand 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 hobbits mind. What about a little light? said Bilbo apologetically. We like the dark, said all 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 how Thorin began. Gandalf, dwarves and Mr. Baggins! We are met together in the house of our friend and fellow conspirator, this most excellent and audacious hobbitmay the hair on his toes never fall out! all praise to his wine and ale! He paused for breath and for a polite remark from the hobbit, 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 Thorins 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 couldnt 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 up, 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 drawing-room sofa with a drink at his elbow, and they went back to their dark business. Excitable little fellow, said Gandalf, as they sat down again. Gets funny queer fits, but he is one of the best, one of the bestas fierce as a dragon in a pinch. If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Tooks great-grand-uncle 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 Golfimbuls 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, Bullroarers 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 had 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 grocer than 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 dont 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 doorit 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 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 had a great-great-great-grand-uncle 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 doorthe usual one in the trade, or used to be. Burglar wants a good job, plenty of Excitement and reasonable Reward, thats how it is usually read. You can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Some of them do. Its 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 tea-time. 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 out his bushy eyebrows, till Bilbo shut his mouth tight with a snap. Thats right, said Gandalf. Lets have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be 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 lets have a little light on this! On the table in the light of a big lamp with a red shade 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 dont 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 havent 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. (Look at the map at the beginning of this book, and you will see there the runes.) It may have been secret once, said Thorin, but how do we know that it is secret any longer? Old Smaug has lived there long enough now to find out anything there is to know about those caves. He maybut he cant 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 dont know without going to see. From what it says on the map I should guess there is a closed door which has been made to look exactly like the side of the Mountain. That is the usual dwarves methodI think that is right, isnt 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 roads 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 Dalethe 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 toofar too often, unless he has changed his habits. 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 not 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 far-off (and therefore legendary). That is why I settled on burglaryespecially 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 lets 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 Tookishly 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, havent you got a map? and didnt you hear our song? and havent 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 Gandalfs recommendation. Also I should like to know about risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time required and remuneration, and so forthby 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 Thrors 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 workshopsand 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 skillful 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 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 grandfathers 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 for ever, 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 cant 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 luckilya 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 warriorsthe 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 dont know for certain, but I dont suppose any one 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 offhere Thorin stroked the gold chain round his neckwe still mean to get it back, and to bring our curses home to Smaugif we can. I have often wondered about my fathers and my grandfathers 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 True, true, said Thorin. Well, your father gave me this to give to you; and if I have chosen my own time and way for 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 dont 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 dont 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 shivered. 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. Dont be absurd! He is an enemy far 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! Whats 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 door-step long enough, I daresay you will think of something. And well, dont 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. Arent you the burglar? And isnt sitting on the door-step your job, not to speak of getting inside the door? But I agree about bed and breakfast. I like six eggs with my ham, when starting on a journey: fried not poached, and mind you dont 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 elses 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. 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 II ROAST MUTTON Up jumped Bilbo, and putting on his dressing-gown went into the dining-room. 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 thank-you he thought); and yet in a way he could not help feeling just a trifle disappointed. The feeling surprised him. Dont be a fool, Bilbo Baggins! he said to himself, thinking of dragons and all that outlandish nonsense at your age! So he 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 wait. What message? said poor Mr. Baggins all in a fluster. Great Elephants! said Gandalf, you are not at all yourself this morningyou have never dusted the mantelpiece! Whats 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 travelling 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 11 a.m. sharp. Trusting that you will be punctual, We have the honour to remain Yours deeply Thorin and 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, a walking-stick or any money, or anything that he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half-finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalfs 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 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. Im awfully sorry, said Bilbo, but I have come without my hat, and I have left my pocket-handkerchief behind, and I havent got any money. I didnt get your note until after 10.45 to be precise. Dont be precise, said Dwalin, and dont worry! You will have to manage without pocket-handkerchiefs, and a good many other things, before you get to the journeys end. As for a hat, I have got a spare hood and cloak in my luggage. Thats 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 darent think. His only comfort was he couldnt 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 Bilbos 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 didnt 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 wide 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, can be, even in merry tales, but now it was cold and wet. In the Lone-lands they had been obliged 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 Im 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 as they went down into a deep valley with a river at the bottom. Wind got up, and willows along its banks bent and sighed. Fortunately the road went over an ancient stone bridge, for the river, swollen with the rains, came rushing down from the hills and mountains in the north. It was nearly night when they had crossed over. The wind broke up the grey clouds, and a wandering moon appeared above the hills between 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 hobbits views about regular meals, plenty and often). They decided in the end that they would have to camp where they were. 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: Theres 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 dratting), 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 burglars 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! If you cant, 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 dont suppose you or I would have noticed 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 dont suppose even a weasel would have stirred a whisker at it. So, naturally, he got right up to the firefor fire it waswithout 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 dont look like mutton again tomorrer, 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 meand the drink runnin short, whats 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 cant expect folk to stop here for ever just to be et by you and Bert. Youve et a village and a half between yer, since we come down from the mountains. How much more dyer want? And times been up our way, when yerd have said thank yer Bill for a nice bit o fat valley mutton like what this is. He took a big bite off a sheeps leg he was roasting, 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 roasted 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 pocketsit is nearly always worth while, if you can manage it, pinched the very mutton off the spits, 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 yetand yet somehow he could not go straight back to Thorin and Company emptyhanded. 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 Williams 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 Ive copped! said William. What is it? said the others coming up. Lumme, if I knows! What are yer? Bilbo Baggins, a bura hobbit, said poor Bilbo, shaking all over, and wondering how to make owl-noises before they throttled him. A burrahobbit? said they a bit startled. Trolls are slow in the uptake, and mighty suspicious about anything new to them. Whats 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 wouldnt make above a mouthful, said William, who had already had a fine supper, not when he was skinned and boned. Praps 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 hobbits 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 dyer mean? said Bert, holding him right way up, by the hair this time. What I say, said Bilbo gasping. And please dont cook me, kind sirs! I am a good cook myself, and cook better than I cook, if you see what I mean. Ill cook beautifully for you, a perfectly beautiful breakfast for you, if only you wont 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 dont want to have me throat cut in me sleep! Hold his toes in the fire, till he talks! I wont have it, said William. I caught him anyway. Youre a fat fool, William, said Bert, as Ive said afore this evening. And youre a lout! And I wont take that from you, Bill Huggins, says Bert, and puts his fist in Williams eye. 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 anothers arms, and rolling nearly into the fire kicking and thumping, while Tom whacked at them both with a branch to bring them to their sensesand 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 Berts 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 waiting 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 down. Theres more to come yet, said Tom, or Im mighty mistook. Lots and none at all, it is, said he. No burrahobbits, but lots of these here dwarves. Thats about the shape of it! I reckon youre right, said Bert, and wed 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 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. Thatll 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 lastand he was not caught unawares. He came expecting mischief, and didnt 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: Whats all this trouble? Who has been knocking my people about? Its trolls! said Bilbo from behind a tree. They had forgotten all about him. Theyre 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 Toms legas well as he could, it was thick as a young tree-trunkbut he was sent spinning up into the top of some bushes, when Tom kicked the sparks up in Thorins face. The Trolls 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 Thorins 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 laterthat was Berts idea, and after a lot of argument they had all agreed to it. No good roasting em now, itd take all night, said a voice. Bert thought it was Williams. Dont start the argument all over again, Bill, he said, or it will take all night. Whos a-arguing? said William, who thought it was Bert that had spoken. You are, said Bert. Youre a liar, said William; and so the argument began all over again. In the end they decided to mince them fine and boil them. So they got a great black pot, and they took out their knives. No good boiling em! We aint got no water, and its a long way to the well and all, said a voice. Bert and William thought it was Toms. Shut up! said they, or well never have done. And yer can fetch the water yerself, if yer say any more. Shut up yerself! said Tom, who thought it was Williams voice. Whos arguing but you, Id like to know. Youre 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. Dont 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 Williams. 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 nights gettin on, and dawn comes early. Lets get on with it! Dawn take you all, and be stone to you! said a voice that sounded like Williams. But it wasnt. 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 William. 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 wizards 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 Bilbos account of what had happened to him twice over, before they were satisfied. Silly time to go practising pinching and pocket-picking, said Bombur, when what we wanted was fire and food! And thats just what you wouldnt have got of those fellows without a struggle, in any case, said Gandalf. Anyhow you are wasting time now. Dont 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 didnt you mention it before? they cried. Gandalf grabbed it and fitted it into the keyhole. 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 wallstoo small for trolls, I am afraid they belonged to victimsand 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. 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. Lets get out of this horrible smell! said Fili. So they carried out the pots of coins, and such food as was untouched 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 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. Wheres that? asked Bilbo. Dont interrupt! said Gandalf. You will get there in a few days now, if were lucky, and find out all about it. As I was saying I met two of Elronds 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 III 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 seemed only a days 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 snow-peaks 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 got to get through, or over, or under those somehow, before we can come into 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 tired 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 saw now that the house might be hidden almost anywhere between them and the mountains. They came on unexpected valleys, narrow with steep 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 over 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 lead, 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 supper-time would soon do the same. There were moths fluttering about, and the light became very dim, for the moon had not risen. Bilbos pony began to stumble over roots and stones. They came to the edge of a steep fall in the ground so suddenly that Gandalfs 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 a 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 ponys neck. Their spirits rose as they went down and down. The trees changed to beech and oak, and there 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 stream. Hmmm! 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 dont 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! Isnt it delicious! 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 Thorin. Welcome to the valley! he said. 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 a while. 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 names and all about him, although he had never seen 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. Dont 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 doesnt eat all the cakes! they called. He is too fat to get through key-holes yet! 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 evereven 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-friendone 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 Bilbos 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 time came to midsummer 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 dragons 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. 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 midsummers 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 Durins 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 Durins 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 Durins 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 again. 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 Thorin; and then they went down to the water to see the elves dance and sing upon the midsummers eve. The next morning was a midsummers 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 beyond. Chapter IV 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 mid-day 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 brokenexcept 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 last moon of Autumnand perhaps it will be Durins 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 thunderstormmore 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 war. 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 wont do at all! said Thorin. If we dont get blown off, or drowned, or struck by lightning, we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football. The Mountain-path 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 Fili 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 inside. 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 isnt all that big, and it does not go far back. That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves: you dont 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 Kilis 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 wandas he did that day in Bilbos 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. They talked and talked, and forgot about the storm, and discussed what each would do with his share of the treasure (when they got it, which at the moment did not seem so impossible); and so they dropped off to sleep one by one. And that was the last time that they used the ponies, packages, baggages, tools and paraphernalia that they had brought with them. It turned out a good thing that night that they had brought little Bilbo with them, after all. For, somehow, he could not go to sleep for a long while; and when he did sleep, he had very nasty dreams. He dreamed that a crack in the wall at the back of the cave got bigger and bigger, and opened wider and wider, and he was very afraid but could not call out or do anything but lie and look. Then he dreamed that the floor of the cave was giving way, and he was slippingbeginning to fall down, down, goodness knows where to. At that he woke up with a horrible start, and found that part of his dream was true. A crack had opened at the back of the cave, and was already a wide passage. He was just in time to see the last of the ponies tails disappearing into it. Of course he gave a very loud yell, as loud a yell as a hobbit can give, which is surprising for their size. Out jumped the goblins, big goblins, great ugly-looking goblins, lots of goblins, before you could say rocks and blocks. There were six to each dwarf, at least, and two even for Bilbo; and they were all grabbed and carried through the crack, before you could say tinder and flint. But not Gandalf. Bilbos yell had done that much good. It had wakened him up wide in a splintered second, and when goblins came to grab him, there was a terrific flash like lightning in the cave, a smell like gunpowder, and several of them fell dead. The crack closed with a snap, and Bilbo and the dwarves were on the wrong side of it! Where was Gandalf? Of that neither they nor the goblins had any idea, and the goblins did not wait to find out. They seized Bilbo and the dwarves and hurried them along. It was deep, deep, dark, such as only goblins that have taken to living in the heart of the mountains can see through. The passages there were crossed and tangled in all directions, but the goblins knew their way, as well as you do to the nearest post-office; and the way went down and down, and it was most horribly stuffy. The goblins were very rough, and pinched unmercifully, and chuckled and laughed in their horrible stony voices; and Bilbo was more unhappy even than when the troll had picked him up by his toes. He wished again and again for his nice bright hobbit-hole. Not for the last time. Now there came a glimmer of a red light before them. The goblins began to sing, or croak, keeping time with the flap of their flat feet on the stone, and shaking their prisoners as well. Clap! Snap! the black crack! Grip, grab! Pinch, nab! And down down to Goblin-town You go, my lad! Clash, crash! Crush, smash! Hammer and tongs! Knocker and gongs! Pound, pound, far underground! Ho, ho! my lad! Swish, smack! Whip crack! Batter and beat! Yammer and bleat! Work, work! Nor dare to shirk, While Goblins quaff, and Goblins laugh, Round and round far underground Below, my lad! It sounded truly terrifying. The walls echoed to the clap, snap! and the crush, smash! and to the ugly laughter of their ho, ho! my lad! The general meaning of the song was only too plain; for now the goblins took out whips and whipped them with a swish, smack!, and set them running as fast as they could in front of them; and more than one of the dwarves were already yammering and bleating like anything, when they stumbled into a big cavern. It was lit by a great red fire in the middle, and by torches along the walls, and it was full of goblins. They all laughed and stamped and clapped their hands, when the dwarves (with poor little Bilbo at the back and nearest to the whips) came running in, while the goblin-drivers whooped and cracked their whips behind. The ponies were already there huddled in a corner; and there were all the baggages and packages lying broken open, and being rummaged by goblins, and smelt by goblins, and fingered by goblins, and quarrelled over by goblins. I am afraid that was the last they ever saw of those excellent little ponies, including a jolly sturdy little white fellow that Elrond had lent to Gandalf, since his horse was not suitable for the mountain-paths. For goblins eat horses and ponies and donkeys (and other much more dreadful things), and they are always hungry. Just now however the prisoners were thinking only of themselves. The goblins chained their hands behind their backs and linked them all together in a line, and dragged them to the far end of the cavern with little Bilbo tugging at the end of the row. There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far. They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them. But they had a special grudge against Thorins people, because of the war which you have heard mentioned, but which does not come into this tale; and anyway goblins dont care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves. Who are these miserable persons? said the Great Goblin. Dwarves, and this! said one of the drivers, pulling at Bilbos chain so that he fell forward onto his knees. We found them sheltering in our Front Porch. What do you mean by it? said the Great Goblin turning to Thorin. Up to no good, Ill warrant! Spying on the private business of my people, I guess! Thieves, I shouldnt be surprised to learn! Murderers and friends of Elves, not unlikely! Come! What have you got to say? Thorin the dwarf at your service! he repliedit was merely a polite nothing. Of the things which you suspect and imagine we had no idea at all. We sheltered from a storm in what seemed a convenient cave and unused; nothing was further from our thoughts than inconveniencing goblins in any way whatever. That was true enough! Um! said the Great Goblin. So you say! Might I ask what you were doing up in the mountains at all, and where you were coming from, and where you were going to? In fact I should like to know all about you. Not that it will do you much good, Thorin Oakenshield, I know too much about your folk already; but lets have the truth, or I will prepare something particularly uncomfortable for you! We were on a journey to visit our relatives, our nephews and nieces, and first, second, and third cousins, and the other descendants of our grandfathers, who live on the East side of these truly hospitable mountains, said Thorin, not quite knowing what to say all at once in a moment, when obviously the exact truth would not do at all. He is a liar, O truly tremendous one! said one of the drivers. Several of our people were struck by lightning in the cave, when we invited these creatures to come below; and they are as dead as stones. Also he has not explained this! He held out the sword which Thorin had worn, the sword which came from the Trolls lair. The Great Goblin gave a truly awful howl of rage when he looked at it, and all his soldiers gnashed their teeth, clashed their shields, and stamped. They knew the sword at once. It had killed hundreds of goblins in its time, when the fair elves of Gondolin hunted them in the hills or did battle before their walls. They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter. They hated it and hated worse any one that carried it. Murderers and elf-friends! the Great Goblin shouted. Slash them! Beat them! Bite them! Gnash them! Take them away to dark holes full of snakes, and never let them see the light again! He was in such a rage that he jumped off his seat and himself rushed at Thorin with his mouth open. Just at that moment all the lights in the cavern went out, and the great fire went off poof! into a tower of blue glowing smoke, right up to the roof, that scattered piercing white sparks all among the goblins. The yells and yammering, croaking, jibbering and jabbering; howls, growls and curses; shrieking and skriking, that followed were beyond description. Several hundred wild cats and wolves being roasted slowly alive together would not have compared with it. The sparks were burning holes in the goblins, and the smoke that now fell from the roof made the air too thick for even their eyes to see through. Soon they were falling over one another and rolling in heaps on the floor, biting and kicking and fighting as if they had all gone mad. Suddenly a sword flashed in its own light. Bilbo saw it go right through the Great Goblin as he stood dumbfounded in the middle of his rage. He fell dead, and the goblin soldiers fled before the sword shrieking into the darkness. The sword went back into its sheath. Follow me quick! said a voice fierce and quiet; and before Bilbo understood what had happened he was trotting along again, as fast as he could trot, at the end of the line, down more dark passages with the yells of the goblin-hall growing fainter behind him. A pale light was leading them on. Quicker, quicker! said the voice. The torches will soon be relit. Half a minute! said Dori, who was at the back next to Bilbo, and a decent fellow. He made the hobbit scramble on his shoulders as best he could with his tied hands, and then off they all went at a run, with a clink-clink of chains, and many a stumble, since they had no hands to steady themselves with. Not for a long while did they stop, and by that time they must have been right down in the very mountains heart. Then Gandalf lit up his wand. Of course it was Gandalf; but just then they were too busy to ask how he got there. He took out his sword again, and again it flashed in the dark by itself. It burned with a rage that made it gleam if goblins were about; now it was bright as blue flame for delight in the killing of the great lord of the cave. It made no trouble whatever of cutting through the goblin-chains and setting all the prisoners free as quickly as possible. This swords name was Glamdring the Foe-hammer, if you remember. The goblins just called it Beater, and hated it worse than Biter if possible. Orcrist, too, had been saved; for Gandalf had brought it along as well, snatching it from one of the terrified guards. Gandalf thought of most things; and though he could not do everything, he could do a great deal for friends in a tight corner. Are we all here? said he, handing his sword back to Thorin with a bow. Let me see: onethats Thorin; two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven; where are Fili and Kili? Here they are! twelve, thirteenand heres Mr. Baggins: fourteen! Well, well! it might be worse, and then again it might be a good deal better. No ponies, and no food, and no knowing quite where we are, and hordes of angry goblins just behind! On we go! On they went. Gandalf was quite right: they began to hear goblin noises and horrible cries far behind in the passages they had come through. That sent them on faster than ever, and as poor Bilbo could not possibly go half as fastfor dwarves can roll along at a tremendous pace, I can tell you, when they have tothey took it in turn to carry him on their backs. Still goblins go faster than dwarves, and these goblins knew the way better (they had made the paths themselves), and were madly angry; so that do what they could the dwarves heard the cries and howls getting closer and closer. Soon they could hear even the flap of the goblin feet, many many feet which seemed only just round the last corner. The blink of red torches could be seen behind them in the tunnel they were following; and they were getting deadly tired. Why, O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole! said poor Mr. Baggins bumping up and down on Bomburs back. Why, O why did I ever bring a wretched little hobbit on a treasure hunt! said poor Bombur, who was fat, and staggered along with the sweat dripping down his nose in his heat and terror. At this point Gandalf fell behind, and Thorin with him. They turned a sharp corner. About turn! he shouted. Draw your sword Thorin! There was nothing else to be done; and the goblins did not like it. They came scurrying round the corner in full cry, and found Goblin-cleaver, and Foe-hammer shining cold and bright right in their astonished eyes. The ones in front dropped their torches and gave one yell before they were killed. The ones behind yelled still more, and leaped back knocking over those that were running after them. Biter and Beater! they shrieked; and soon they were all in confusion, and most of them were hustling back the way they had come. It was quite a long while before any of them dared to turn that corner. By that time the dwarves had gone on again, a long, long, way on into the dark tunnels of the goblins realm. When the goblins discovered that, they put out their torches and they slipped on soft shoes, and they chose out their very quickest runners with the sharpest ears and eyes. These ran forward, as swift as weasels in the dark, and with hardly any more noise than bats. That is why neither Bilbo, nor the dwarves, nor even Gandalf heard them coming. Nor did they see them. But they were seen by the goblins that ran silently up behind, for Gandalf was letting his wand give out a faint light to help the dwarves as they went along. Quite suddenly Dori, now at the back again carrying Bilbo, was grabbed from behind in the dark. He shouted and fell; and the hobbit rolled off his shoulders into the blackness, bumped his head on hard rock, and remembered nothing more. Chapter V RIDDLES IN THE DARK When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark as with them shut. No one was anywhere near him. Just imagine his fright! He could hear nothing, see nothing, and he could feel nothing except the stone of the floor. Very slowly he got up and groped about on all fours, till he touched the wall of the tunnel; but neither up nor down it could he find anything: nothing at all, no sign of goblins, no sign of dwarves. His head was swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment. He did not go much further, but sat down on the cold floor and gave himself up to complete miserableness, for a long while. He thought of himself frying bacon and eggs in his own kitchen at homefor he could feel inside that it was high time for some meal or other; but that only made him miserabler. He could not think what to do; nor could he think what had happened; or why he had been left behind; or why, if he had been left behind, the goblins had not caught him; or even why his head was so sore. The truth was he had been lying quiet, out of sight and out of mind, in a very dark corner for a long while. After some time he felt for his pipe. It was not broken, and that was something. Then he felt for his pouch, and there was some tobacco in it, and that was something more. Then he felt for matches and he could not find any at all, and that shattered his hopes completely. Just as well for him, as he agreed when he came to his senses. Goodness knows what the striking of matches and the smell of tobacco would have brought on him out of dark holes in that horrible place. Still at the moment he felt very crushed. But in slapping all his pockets and feeling all round himself for matches his hand came on the hilt of his little swordthe little dagger that he got from the trolls, and that he had quite forgotten; nor fortunately had the goblins noticed it, as he wore it inside his breeches. Now he drew it out. It shone pale and dim before his eyes. So it is an elvish blade, too, he thought; and goblins are not very near, and yet not far enough. But somehow he was comforted. It was rather splendid to be wearing a blade made in Gondolin for the goblin-wars of which so many songs had sung; and also he had noticed that such weapons made a great impression on goblins that came upon them suddenly. Go back? he thought. No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go! So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter. Now certainly Bilbo was in what is called a tight place. But you must remember it was not quite so tight for him as it would have been for me or for you. Hobbits are not quite like ordinary people; and after all if their holes are nice cheery places and properly aired, quite different from the tunnels of the goblins, still they are more used to tunnelling than we are, and they do not easily lose their sense of direction undergroundnot when their heads have recovered from being bumped. Also they can move very quietly, and hide easily, and recover wonderfully from falls and bruises, and they have a fund of wisdom and wise sayings that men have mostly never heard or have forgotten long ago. I should not have liked to have been in Mr. Baggins place, all the same. The tunnel seemed to have no end. All he knew was that it was still going down pretty steadily and keeping in the same direction in spite of a twist and a turn or two. There were passages leading off to the side every now and then, as he knew by the glimmer of his sword, or could feel with his hand on the wall. Of these he took no notice, except to hurry past for fear of goblins or half-imagined dark things coming out of them. On and on he went, and down and down; and still he heard no sound of anything except the occasional whirr of a bat by his ears, which startled him at first, till it became too frequent to bother about. I do not know how long he kept on like this, hating to go on, not daring to stop, on, on, until he was tireder than tired. It seemed like all the way to tomorrow and over it to the days beyond. Suddenly without any warning he trotted splash into water! Ugh! it was icy cold. That pulled him up sharp and short. He did not know whether it was just a pool in the path, or the edge of an underground stream that crossed the passage, or the brink of a deep dark subterranean lake. The sword was hardly shining at all. He stopped, and he could hear, when he listened hard, drops drip-drip-dripping from an unseen roof into the water below; but there seemed no other sort of sound. So it is a pool or a lake, and not an underground river, he thought. Still he did not dare to wade out into the darkness. He could not swim; and he thought, too, of nasty slimy things, with big bulging blind eyes, wriggling in the water. There are strange things living in the pools and lakes in the hearts of mountains: fish whose fathers swam in, goodness only knows how many years ago, and never swam out again, while their eyes grew bigger and bigger and bigger from trying to see in the blackness; also there are other things more slimy than fish. Even in the tunnels and caves the goblins have made for themselves there are other things living unbeknown to them that have sneaked in from outside to lie up in the dark. Some of these caves, too, go back in their beginnings to ages before the goblins, who only widened them and joined them up with passages, and the original owners are still there in odd corners, slinking and nosing about. Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum, a small slimy creature. I dont know where he came from, nor who or what he was. He was Gollumas dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face. He had a little boat, and he rowed about quite quietly on the lake; for lake it was, wide and deep and deadly cold. He paddled it with large feet dangling over the side, but never a ripple did he make. Not he. He was looking out of his pale lamp-like eyes for blind fish, which he grabbed with his long fingers as quick as thinking. He liked meat too. Goblin he thought good, when he could get it; but he took care they never found him out. He just throttled them from behind, if they ever came down alone anywhere near the edge of the water, while he was prowling about. They very seldom did, for they had a feeling that something unpleasant was lurking down there, down at the very roots of the mountain. They had come on the lake, when they were tunnelling down long ago, and they found they could go no further; so there their road ended in that direction, and there was no reason to go that wayunless the Great Goblin sent them. Sometimes he took a fancy for fish from the lake, and sometimes neither goblin nor fish came back. Actually Gollum lived on a slimy island of rock in the middle of the lake. He was watching Bilbo now from the distance with his pale eyes like telescopes. Bilbo could not see him, but he was wondering a lot about Bilbo, for he could see that he was no goblin at all. Gollum got into his boat and shot off from the island, while Bilbo was sitting on the brink altogether flummoxed and at the end of his way and his wits. Suddenly up came Gollum and whispered and hissed: Bless us and splash us, my precioussss! I guess its a choice feast; at least a tasty morsel itd make us, gollum! And when he said gollum he made a horrible swallowing noise in his throat. That is how he got his name, though he always called himself my precious. The hobbit jumped nearly out of his skin when the hiss came in his ears, and he suddenly saw the pale eyes sticking out at him. Who are you? he said, thrusting his dagger in front of him. What iss he, my preciouss? whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to). This is what he had come to find out, for he was not really very hungry at the moment, only curious; otherwise he would have grabbed first and whispered afterwards. I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard, and I dont know where I am; and I dont want to know, if only I can get away. Whats he got in his handses? said Gollum, looking at the sword, which he did not quite like. A sword, a blade which came out of Gondolin! Sssss said Gollum, and became quite polite. Praps ye sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my preciousss. It likes riddles, praps it does, does it? He was anxious to appear friendly, at any rate for the moment, and until he found out more about the sword and the hobbit, whether he was quite alone really, whether he was good to eat, and whether Gollum was really hungry. Riddles were all he could think of. Asking them, and sometimes guessing them, had been the only game he had ever played with other funny creatures sitting in their holes in the long, long ago, before he lost all his friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, down, into the dark under the mountains. Very well, said Bilbo, who was anxious to agree, until he found out more about the creature, whether he was quite alone, whether he was fierce or hungry, and whether he was a friend of the goblins. You ask first, he said, because he had not had time to think of a riddle. So Gollum hissed: What has roots as nobody sees, Is taller than trees, Up, up it goes, And yet never grows? Easy! said Bilbo. Mountain, I suppose. Does it guess easy? It must have a competition with us, my preciouss! If precious asks, and it doesnt answer, we eats it, my preciousss. If it asks us, and we doesnt answer, then we does what it wants, eh? We shows it the way out, yes! All right! said Bilbo, not daring to disagree, and nearly bursting his brain to think of riddles that could save him from being eaten. Thirty white horses on a red hill, First they champ, Then they stamp, Then they stand still. That was all he could think of to askthe idea of eating was rather on his mind. It was rather an old one, too, and Gollum knew the answer as well as you do. Chestnuts, chestnuts, he hissed. Teeth! teeth! my preciousss; but we has only six! Then he asked his second: Voiceless it cries, Wingless flutters, Toothless bites, Mouthless mutters. Half a moment! cried Bilbo, who was still thinking uncomfortably about eating. Fortunately he had once heard something rather like this before, and getting his wits back he thought of the answer. Wind, wind of course, he said, and he was so pleased that he made up one on the spot. Thisll puzzle the nasty little underground creature, he thought: An eye in a blue face Saw an eye in a green face. That eye is like to this eye Said the first eye, But in low place Not in high place. Ss, ss, ss, said Gollum. He had been underground a long long time, and was forgetting this sort of thing. But just as Bilbo was beginning to hope that the wretch would not be able to answer, Gollum brought up memories of ages and ages and ages before, when he lived with his grandmother in a hole in a bank by a river, Sss, sss, my preciouss, he said. Sun on the daisies it means, it does. But these ordinary above ground everyday sort of riddles were tiring for him. Also they reminded him of days when he had been less lonely and sneaky and nasty, and that put him out of temper. What is more they made him hungry; so this time he tried something a bit more difficult and more unpleasant: It cannot be seen, cannot be felt, Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. It lies behind stars and under hills, And empty holes it fills. It comes first and follows after, Ends life, kills laughter. Unfortunately for Gollum Bilbo had heard that sort of thing before; and the answer was all round him any way. Dark! he said without even scratching his head or putting on his thinking cap. A box without hinges, key, or lid, Yet golden treasure inside is hid, he asked to gain time, until he could think of a really hard one. This he thought a dreadfully easy chestnut, though he had not asked it in the usual words. But it proved a nasty poser for Gollum. He hissed to himself, and still he did not answer; he whispered and spluttered. After some while Bilbo became impatient. Well, what is it? he said. The answers not a kettle boiling over, as you seem to think from the noise you are making. Give us a chance; let it give us a chance, my precioussssss. Well, said Bilbo after giving him a long chance, what about your guess? But suddenly Gollum remembered thieving from nests long ago, and sitting under the river bank teaching his grandmother, teaching his grandmother to suckEggses! he hissed. Eggses it is! Then he asked: Alive without breath, As cold as death; Never thirsty, ever drinking, All in mail never clinking. He also in his turn thought this was a dreadfully easy one, because he was always thinking of the answer. But he could not remember anything better at the moment, he was so flustered by the egg-question. All the same it was a poser for poor Bilbo, who never had anything to do with the water if he could help it. I imagine you know the answer, of course, or can guess it as easy as winking, since you are sitting comfortably at home and have not the danger of being eaten to disturb your thinking. Bilbo sat and cleared his throat once or twice, but no answer came. After a while Gollum began to hiss with pleasure to himself: Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy? Is it scrumptiously crunchable? He began to peer at Bilbo out of the darkness. Half a moment, said the hobbit shivering. I gave you a good long chance just now. It must make haste, haste! said Gollum, beginning to climb out of his boat on to the shore to get at Bilbo. But when he put his long webby foot in the water, a fish jumped out in a fright and fell on Bilbos toes. Ugh! he said, it is cold and clammy!and so he guessed. Fish! fish! he cried. It is fish! Gollum was dreadfully disappointed; but Bilbo asked another riddle as quick as ever he could, so that Gollum had to get back into his boat and think. No-legs lay on one-leg, two-legs sat near on three-legs, four-legs got some. It was not really the right time for this riddle, but Bilbo was in a hurry. Gollum might have had some trouble guessing it, if he had asked it at another time. As it was, talking of fish, no-legs was not so very difficult, and after that the rest was easy. Fish on a little table, man at table sitting on a stool, the cat has the bones that of course is the answer, and Gollum soon gave it. Then he thought the time had come to ask something hard and horrible. This is what he said: This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers; Gnaws iron, bites steel; Grinds hard stones to meal; Slays king, ruins town, And beats high mountain down. Poor Bilbo sat in the dark thinking of all the horrible names of all the giants and ogres he had ever heard told of in tales, but not one of them had done all these things. He had a feeling that the answer was quite different and that he ought to know it, but he could not think of it. He began to get frightened, and that is bad for thinking. Gollum began to get out of his boat. He flapped into the water and paddled to the bank; Bilbo could see his eyes coming towards him. His tongue seemed to stick in his mouth; he wanted to shout out: Give me more time! Give me time! But all that came out with a sudden squeal was: Time! Time! Bilbo was saved by pure luck. For that of course was the answer. Gollum was disappointed once more; and now he was getting angry, and also tired of the game. It had made him very hungry indeed. This time he did not go back to the boat. He sat down in the dark by Bilbo. That made the hobbit most dreadfully uncomfortable and scattered his wits. Its got to ask uss a quesstion, my preciouss, yes, yess, yesss. Jusst one more question to guess, yes, yess, said Gollum. But Bilbo simply could not think of any question with that nasty wet cold thing sitting next to him, and pawing and poking him. He scratched himself, he pinched himself; still he could not think of anything. Ask us! ask us! said Gollum. Bilbo pinched himself and slapped himself; he gripped on his little sword; he even felt in his pocket with his other hand. There he found the ring he had picked up in the passage and forgotten about. What have I got in my pocket? he said aloud. He was talking to himself, but Gollum thought it was a riddle, and he was frightfully upset. Not fair! not fair! he hissed. It isnt fair, my precious, is it, to ask us what its got in its nassty little pocketses? Bilbo seeing what had happened and having nothing better to ask stuck to his question, What have I got in my pocket? he said louder. S-s-s-s-s, hissed Gollum. It must give us three guesseses, my preciouss, three guesseses. Very well! Guess away! said Bilbo. Handses! said Gollum. Wrong, said Bilbo, who had luckily just taken his hand out again. Guess again! S-s-s-s-s, said Gollum more upset than ever. He thought of all the things he kept in his own pockets: fish-bones, goblins teeth, wet shells, a bit of bat-wing, a sharp stone to sharpen his fangs on, and other nasty things. He tried to think what other people kept in their pockets. Knife! he said at last. Wrong! said Bilbo, who had lost his some time ago. Last guess! Now Gollum was in a much worse state than when Bilbo had asked him the egg-question. He hissed and spluttered and rocked himself backwards and forwards, and slapped his feet on the floor, and wriggled and squirmed; but still he did not dare to waste his last guess. Come on! said Bilbo. I am waiting! He tried to sound bold and cheerful, but he did not feel at all sure how the game was going to end, whether Gollum guessed right or not. Times up! he said. String, or nothing! shrieked Gollum, which was not quite fairworking in two guesses at once. Both wrong, cried Bilbo very much relieved; and he jumped at once to his feet, put his back to the nearest wall, and held out his little sword. He knew, of course, that the riddle-game was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it. But he felt he could not trust this slimy thing to keep any promise at a pinch. Any excuse would do for him to slide out of it. And after all that last question had not been a genuine riddle according to the ancient laws. But at any rate Gollum did not at once attack him. He could see the sword in Bilbos hand. He sat still, shivering and whispering. At last Bilbo could wait no longer. Well? he said. What about your promise? I want to go. You must show me the way. Did we say so, precious? Show the nassty little Baggins the way out, yes, yes. But what has it got in its pocketses, eh? Not string, precious, but not nothing. Oh no! gollum! Never you mind, said Bilbo. A promise is a promise. Cross it is, impatient, precious, hissed Gollum. But it must wait, yes it must. We cant go up the tunnels so hasty. We must go and get some things first, yes, things to help us. Well, hurry up! said Bilbo, relieved to think of Gollum going away. He thought he was just making an excuse and did not mean to come back. What was Gollum talking about? What useful thing could he keep out on the dark lake? But he was wrong. Gollum did mean to come back. He was angry now and hungry. And he was a miserable wicked creature, and already he had a plan. Not far away was his island, of which Bilbo knew nothing, and there in his hiding-place he kept a few wretched oddments, and one very beautiful thing, very beautiful, very wonderful. He had a ring, a golden ring, a precious ring. My birthday-present! he whispered to himself, as he had often done in the endless dark days. Thats what we wants now, yes; we wants it! He wanted it because it was a ring of power, and if you slipped that ring on your finger, you were invisible; only in the full sunlight could you be seen, and then only by your shadow, and that would be shaky and faint. My birthday-present! It came to me on my birthday, my precious. So he had always said to himself. But who knows how Gollum came by that present, ages ago in the old days when such rings were still at large in the world? Perhaps even the Master who ruled them could not have said. Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him; and then he kept it in a pouch next his skin, till it galled him; and now usually he hid it in a hole in the rock on his island, and was always going back to look at it. And still sometimes he put it on, when he could not bear to be parted from it any longer, or when he was very, very, hungry, and tired of fish. Then he would creep along dark passages looking for stray goblins. He might even venture into places where the torches were lit and made his eyes blink and smart; for he would be safe. Oh yes, quite safe. No one would see him, no one would notice him, till he had his fingers on their throat. Only a few hours ago he had worn it, and caught a small goblin-imp. How it squeaked! He still had a bone or two left to gnaw, but he wanted something softer. Quite safe, yes, he whispered to himself. It wont see us, will it, my precious? No. It wont see us, and its nassty little sword will be useless, yes quite. That is what was in his wicked little mind, as he slipped suddenly from Bilbos side, and flapped back to his boat, and went off into the dark. Bilbo thought he had heard the last of him. Still he waited a while; for he had no idea how to find his way out alone. Suddenly he heard a screech. It sent a shiver down his back. Gollum was cursing and wailing away in the gloom, not very far off by the sound of it. He was on his island, scrabbling here and there, searching and seeking in vain. Where iss it? Where iss it? Bilbo heard him crying. Losst it is, my precious, lost, lost! Curse us and crush us, my precious is lost! Whats the matter? Bilbo called. What have you lost? It mustnt ask us, shrieked Gollum. Not its business, no, gollum! Its losst, gollum, gollum, gollum. Well, so am I, cried Bilbo, and I want to get unlost. And I won the game, and you promised. So come along! Come and let me out, and then go on with your looking! Utterly miserable as Gollum sounded, Bilbo could not find much pity in his heart, and he had a feeling that anything Gollum wanted so much could hardly be something good. Come along! he shouted. No, not yet, precious! Gollum answered. We must search for it, its lost, gollum. But you never guessed my last question, and you promised, said Bilbo. Never guessed! said Gollum. Then suddenly out of the gloom came a sharp hiss. What has it got in its pocketses? Tell us that. It must tell first. As far as Bilbo knew, there was no particular reason why he should not tell. Gollums mind had jumped to a guess quicker than his; naturally, for Gollum had brooded for ages on this one thing, and he was always afraid of its being stolen. But Bilbo was annoyed at the delay. After all, he had won the game, pretty fairly, at a horrible risk. Answers were to be guessed not given, he said. But it wasnt a fair question, said Gollum. Not a riddle, precious, no. Oh well, if its a matter of ordinary questions, Bilbo replied, then I asked one first. What have you lost? Tell me that! What has it got in its pocketses? The sound came hissing louder and sharper, and as he looked towards it, to his alarm Bilbo now saw two small points of light peering at him. As suspicion grew in Gollums mind, the light of his eyes burned with a pale flame. What have you lost? Bilbo persisted. But now the light in Gollums eyes had become a green fire, and it was coming swiftly nearer. Gollum was in his boat again, paddling wildly back to the dark shore; and such a rage of loss and suspicion was in his heart that no sword had any more terror for him. Bilbo could not guess what had maddened the wretched creature, but he saw that all was up, and that Gollum meant to murder him at any rate. Just in time he turned and ran blindly back up the dark passage down which he had come, keeping close to the wall and feeling it with his left hand. What has it got in its pocketses? he heard the hiss loud behind him, and the splash as Gollum leapt from his boat. What have I, I wonder? he said to himself, as he panted and stumbled along. He put his left hand in his pocket. The ring felt very cold as it quietly slipped on to his groping forefinger. The hiss was close behind him. He turned now and saw Gollums eyes like small green lamps coming up the slope. Terrified he tried to run faster, but suddenly he struck his toes on a snag in the floor, and fell flat with his little sword under him. In a moment Gollum was on him. But before Bilbo could do anything, recover his breath, pick himself up, or wave his sword, Gollum passed by, taking no notice of him, cursing and whispering as he ran. What could it mean? Gollum could see in the dark. Bilbo could see the light of his eyes palely shining even from behind. Painfully he got up, and sheathed his sword, which was now glowing faintly again, then very cautiously he followed. There seemed nothing else to do. It was no good crawling back down to Gollums water. Perhaps if he followed him, Gollum might lead him to some way of escape without meaning to. Curse it! curse it! curse it! hissed Gollum. Curse the Baggins! Its gone! What has it got in its pocketses? Oh we guess, we guess, my precious. Hes found it, yes he must have. My birthday-present. Bilbo pricked up his ears. He was at last beginning to guess himself. He hurried a little, getting as close as he dared behind Gollum, who was still going quickly, not looking back, but turning his head from side to side, as Bilbo could see from the faint glimmer on the walls. My birthday-present! Curse it! How did we lose it, my precious? Yes, thats it. When we came this way last, when we twisted that nassty young squeaker. Thats it. Curse it! It slipped from us, after all these ages and ages! Its gone, gollum. Suddenly Gollum sat down and began to weep, a whistling and gurgling sound horrible to listen to. Bilbo halted and flattened himself against the tunnel-wall. After a while Gollum stopped weeping and began to talk. He seemed to be having an argument with himself. Its no good going back there to search, no. We doesnt remember all the places weve visited. And its no use. The Baggins has got it in its pocketses; the nassty noser has found it, we says. We guesses, precious, only guesses. We cant know till we find the nassty creature and squeezes it. But it doesnt know what the present can do, does it? Itll just keep it in its pocketses. It doesnt know, and it cant go far. Its lost itself, the nassty nosey thing. It doesnt know the way out. It said so. It said so, yes; but its tricksy. It doesnt say what it means. It wont say what its got in its pocketses. It knows. It knows a way in, it must know a way out, yes. Its off to the back-door. To the back-door, thats it. The goblinses will catch it then. It cant get out that way, precious. Ssss, sss, gollum! Goblinses! Yes, but if its got the present, our precious present, then goblinses will get it, gollum! Theyll find it, theyll find out what it does. We shant ever be safe again, never, gollum! One of the goblinses will put it on, and then no one will see him. Hell be there but not seen. Not even our clever eyeses will notice him; and hell come creepsy and tricksy and catch us, gollum, gollum! Then lets stop talking, precious, and make haste. If the Baggins has gone that way, we must go quick and see. Go! Not far now. Make haste! With a spring Gollum got up and started shambling off at a great pace. Bilbo hurried after him, still cautiously, though his chief fear now was of tripping on another snag and falling with a noise. His head was in a whirl of hope and wonder. It seemed that the ring he had was a magic ring: it made you invisible! He had heard of such things, of course, in old old tales; but it was hard to believe that he really had found one, by accident. Still there it was: Gollum with his bright eyes had passed him by, only a yard to one side. On they went, Gollum flip-flapping ahead, hissing and cursing; Bilbo behind going as softly as a hobbit can. Soon they came to places where, as Bilbo had noticed on the way down, side-passages opened, this way and that. Gollum began at once to count them. One left, yes. One right, yes. Two right, yes, yes. Two left, yes, yes. And so on and on. As the count grew he slowed down, and he began to get shaky and weepy; for he was leaving the water further and further behind, and he was getting afraid. Goblins might be about, and he had lost his ring. At last he stopped by a low opening, on their left as they went up. Seven right, yes. Six left, yes! he whispered. This is it. This is the way to the back-door, yes. Heres the passage! He peered in, and shrank back. But we dursnt go in, precious, no we dursnt. Goblinses down there. Lots of goblinses. We smells them. Ssss! What shall we do? Curse them and crush them! We must wait here, precious, wait a bit and see. So they came to a dead stop. Gollum had brought Bilbo to the way out after all, but Bilbo could not get in! There was Gollum sitting humped up right in the opening, and his eyes gleamed cold in his head, as he swayed it from side to side between his knees. Bilbo crept away from the wall more quietly than a mouse; but Gollum stiffened at once, and sniffed, and his eyes went green. He hissed softly but menacingly. He could not see the hobbit, but now he was on the alert, and he had other senses that the darkness had sharpened: hearing and smell. He seemed to be crouched right down with his flat hands splayed on the floor, and his head thrust out, nose almost to the stone. Though he was only a black shadow in the gleam of his own eyes, Bilbo could see or feel that he was tense as a bowstring, gathered for a spring. Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff himself. He was desperate. He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. He must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it. It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbos heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering. All these thoughts passed in a flash of a second. He trembled. And then quite suddenly in another flash, as if lifted by a new strength and resolve, he leaped. No great leap for a man, but a leap in the dark. Straight over Gollums head he jumped, seven feet forward and three in the air; indeed, had he known it, he only just missed cracking his skull on the low arch of the passage. Gollum threw himself backwards, and grabbed as the hobbit flew over him, but too late: his hands snapped on thin air, and Bilbo, falling fair on his sturdy feet, sped off down the new tunnel. He did not turn to see what Gollum was doing. There was a hissing and cursing almost at his heels at first, then it stopped. All at once there came a blood-curdling shriek, filled with hatred and despair. Gollum was defeated. He dared go no further. He had lost: lost his prey, and lost, too, the only thing he had ever cared for, his precious. The cry brought Bilbos heart to his mouth, but still he held on. Now faint as an echo, but menacing, the voice came behind: Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever! Then there was a silence. But that too seemed menacing to Bilbo. If goblins are so near that he smelt them, he thought, then theyll have heard his shrieking and cursing. Careful now, or this way will lead you to worse things. The passage was low and roughly made. It was not too difficult for the hobbit, except when, in spite of all care, he stubbed his poor toes again, several times, on nasty jagged stones in the floor. A bit low for goblins, at least for the big ones, thought Bilbo, not knowing that even the big ones, the orcs of the mountains, go along at a great speed stooping low with their hands almost on the ground. Soon the passage that had been sloping down began to go up again, and after a while it climbed steeply. That slowed Bilbo down. But at last the slope stopped, the passage turned a corner and dipped down again, and there, at the bottom of a short incline, he saw, filtering round another cornera glimpse of light. Not red light, as of fire or lantern, but a pale out-of-doors sort of light. Then Bilbo began to run. Scuttling as fast as his legs would carry him he turned the last corner and came suddenly right into an open space, where the light, after all that time in the dark, seemed dazzlingly bright. Really it was only a leak of sunshine in through a doorway, where a great door, a stone door, was left standing open. Bilbo blinked, and then suddenly he saw the goblins: goblins in full armour with drawn swords sitting just inside the door, and watching it with wide eyes, and watching the passage that led to it. They were aroused, alert, ready for anything. They saw him sooner than he saw them. Yes, they saw him. Whether it was an accident, or a last trick of the ring before it took a new master, it was not on his finger. With yells of delight the goblins rushed upon him. A pang of fear and loss, like an echo of Gollums misery, smote Bilbo, and forgetting even to draw his sword he struck his hands into his pockets. And there was the ring still, in his left pocket, and it slipped on his finger. The goblins stopped short. They could not see a sign of him. He had vanished. They yelled twice as loud as before, but not so delightedly. Where is it? they cried. Go back up the passage! some shouted. This way! some yelled. That way! others yelled. Look out for the door, bellowed the captain. Whistles blew, armour clashed, swords rattled, goblins cursed and swore and ran hither and thither, falling over one another and getting very angry. There was a terrible outcry, to-do, and disturbance. Bilbo was dreadfully frightened, but he had the sense to understand what had happened and to sneak behind a big barrel which held drink for the goblin-guards, and so get out of the way and avoid being bumped into, trampled to death, or caught by feel. I must get to the door, I must get to the door! he kept on saying to himself, but it was a long time before he ventured to try. Then it was like a horrible game of blind-mans-buff. The place was full of goblins running about, and the poor little hobbit dodged this way and that, was knocked over by a goblin who could not make out what he had bumped into, scrambled away on all fours, slipped between the legs of the captain just in time, got up, and ran for the door. It was still ajar, but a goblin had pushed it nearly to. Bilbo struggled but he could not move it. He tried to squeeze through the crack. He squeezed and squeezed, and he stuck! It was awful. His buttons had got wedged on the edge of the door and the door-post. He could see outside into the open air: there were a few steps running down into a narrow valley between tall mountains; the sun came out from behind a cloud and shone bright on the outside of the doorbut he could not get through. Suddenly one of the goblins inside shouted: There is a shadow by the door. Something is outside! Bilbos heart jumped into his mouth. He gave a terrific squirm. Buttons burst off in all directions. He was through, with a torn coat and waistcoat, leaping down the steps like a goat, while bewildered goblins were still picking up his nice brass buttons on the doorstep. Of course they soon came down after him, hooting and hallooing, and hunting among the trees. But they dont like the sun: it makes their legs wobble and their heads giddy. They could not find Bilbo with the ring on, slipping in and out of the shadow of the trees, running quick and quiet, and keeping out of the sun; so soon they went back grumbling and cursing to guard the door. Bilbo had escaped. Chapter VI OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN INTO THE FIRE Bilbo had escaped the goblins, but he did not know where he was. He had lost hood, cloak, food, pony, his buttons and his friends. He wandered on and on, till the sun began to sink westwardsbehind the mountains. Their shadows fell across Bilbos path, and he looked back. Then he looked forward and could see before him only ridges and slopes falling towards lowlands and plains glimpsed occasionally between the trees. Good heavens! he exclaimed. I seem to have got right to the other side of the Misty Mountains, right to the edge of the Land Beyond! Where and O where can Gandalf and the dwarves have got to? I only hope to goodness they are not still back there in the power of the goblins! He still wandered on, out of the little high valley, over its edge, and down the slopes beyond; but all the while a very uncomfortable thought was growing inside him. He wondered whether he ought not, now he had the magic ring, to go back into the horrible, horrible, tunnels and look for his friends. He had just made up his mind that it was his duty, that he must turn backand very miserable he felt about itwhen he heard voices. He stopped and listened. It did not sound like goblins; so he crept forward carefully. He was on a stony path winding downwards with a rocky wall on the left hand; on the other side the ground sloped away and there were dells below the level of the path overhung with bushes and low trees. In one of these dells under the bushes people were talking. He crept still nearer, and suddenly he saw peering between two big boulders a head with a red hood on: it was Balin doing look-out. He could have clapped and shouted for joy, but he did not. He had still got the ring on, for fear of meeting something unexpected and unpleasant, and he saw that Balin was looking straight at him without noticing him. I will give them all a surprise, he thought, as he crawled into the bushes at the edge of the dell. Gandalf was arguing with the dwarves. They were discussing all that had happened to them in the tunnels, and wondering and debating what they were to do now. The dwarves were grumbling, and Gandalf was saying that they could not possibly go on with their journey leaving Mr. Baggins in the hands of the goblins, without trying to find out if he was alive or dead, and without trying to rescue him. After all he is my friend, said the wizard, and not a bad little chap. I feel responsible for him. I wish to goodness you had not lost him. The dwarves wanted to know why he had ever been brought at all, why he could not stick to his friends and come along with them, and why the wizard had not chosen someone with more sense. He has been more trouble than use so far, said one. If we have got to go back now into those abominable tunnels to look for him, then drat him, I say. Gandalf answered angrily: I brought him, and I dont bring things that are of no use. Either you help me to look for him, or I go and leave you here to get out of the mess as best you can yourselves. If we can only find him again, you will thank me before all is over. Whatever did you want to go and drop him for, Dori? You would have dropped him, said Dori, if a goblin had suddenly grabbed your legs from behind in the dark, tripped up your feet, and kicked you in the back! Then why didnt you pick him up again? Good heavens! Can you ask! Goblins fighting and biting in the dark, everybody falling over bodies and hitting one another! You nearly chopped off my head with Glamdring, and Thorin was stabbing here there and everywhere with Orcrist. All of a sudden you gave one of your blinding flashes, and we saw the goblins running back yelping. You shouted follow me everybody! and everybody ought to have followed. We thought everybody had. There was no time to count, as you know quite well, till we had dashed through the gate-guards, out of the lower door, and helter-skelter down here. And here we arewithout the burglar, confusticate him! And heres the burglar! said Bilbo stepping down into the middle of them, and slipping off the ring. Bless me, how they jumped! Then they shouted with surprise and delight. Gandalf was as astonished as any of them, but probably more pleased than all the others. He called to Balin and told him what he thought of a look-out man who let people walk right into them like that without warning. It is a fact that Bilbos reputation went up a very great deal with the dwarves after this. If they had still doubted that he was really a first-class burglar, in spite of Gandalfs words, they doubted no longer. Balin was the most puzzled of all; but everyone said it was a very clever bit of work. Indeed Bilbo was so pleased with their praise that he just chuckled inside and said nothing whatever about the ring; and when they asked him how he did it, he said: Oh, just crept along, you knowvery carefully and quietly. Well, it is the first time that even a mouse has crept along carefully and quietly under my very nose and not been spotted, said Balin, and I take off my hood to you. Which he did. Balin at your service, said he. Your servant, Mr. Baggins, said Bilbo. Then they wanted to know all about his adventures after they had lost him, and he sat down and told them everythingexcept about the finding of the ring (not just now he thought). They were particularly interested in the riddle-competition, and shuddered most appreciatively at his description of Gollum. And then I couldnt think of any other question with him sitting beside me, ended Bilbo; so I said whats in my pocket? And he couldnt guess in three goes. So I said: what about your promise? Show me the way out! But he came at me to kill me, and I ran, and fell over, and he missed me in the dark. Then I followed him, because I heard him talking to himself. He thought I really knew the way out, and so he was making for it. And then he sat down in the entrance, and I could not get by. So I jumped over him and escaped, and ran down to the gate. What about the guards? they asked. Werent there any? O yes! lots of them; but I dodged em. I got stuck in the door, which was only open a crack, and I lost lots of buttons, he said sadly looking at his torn clothes. But I squeezed through all rightand here I am. The dwarves looked at him with quite a new respect, when he talked about dodging guards, jumping over Gollum, and squeezing through, as if it was not very difficult or very alarming. What did I tell you? said Gandalf laughing. Mr. Baggins has more about him than you guess. He gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bushy eyebrows, as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out. Then he had questions of his own to ask, for if Gandalf had explained it all by now to the dwarves, Bilbo had not heard it. He wanted to know how the wizard had turned up again, and where they had all got to now. The wizard, to tell the truth, never minded explaining his cleverness more than once, so now he told Bilbo that both he and Elrond had been well aware of the presence of evil goblins in that part of the mountains. But their main gate used to come out on a different pass, one more easy to travel by, so that they often caught people benighted near their gates. Evidently people had given up going that way, and the goblins must have opened their new entrance at the top of the pass the dwarves had taken, quite recently, because it had been found quite safe up to now. I must see if I cant find a more or less decent giant to block it up again, said Gandalf, or soon there will be no getting over the mountains at all. As soon as Gandalf had heard Bilbos yell he realized what had happened. In the flash which killed the goblins that were grabbing him he had nipped inside the crack, just as it snapped to. He followed after the drivers and prisoners right to the edge of the great hall, and there he sat down and worked up the best magic he could in the shadows. A very ticklish business, it was, he said. Touch and go! But, of course, Gandalf had made a special study of bewitchments with fire and lights (even the hobbit had never forgotten the magic fireworks at Old Tooks midsummer-eve parties, as you remember). The rest we all knowexcept that Gandalf knew all about the back-door, as the goblins called the lower gate, where Bilbo lost his buttons. As a matter of fact it was well known to anybody who was acquainted with this part of the mountains; but it took a wizard to keep his head in the tunnels and guide them in the right direction. They made that gate ages ago, he said, partly for a way of escape, if they needed one; partly as a way out into the lands beyond, where they still come in the dark and do great damage. They guard it always and no one has ever managed to block it up. They will guard it doubly after this, he laughed. All the others laughed too. After all they had lost a good deal, but they had killed the Great Goblin and a great many others besides, and they had all escaped, so they might be said to have had the best of it so far. But the wizard called them to their senses. We must be getting on at once, now we are a little rested, he said. They will be out after us in hundreds when night comes on; and already shadows are lengthening. They can smell our footsteps for hours and hours after we have passed. We must be miles on before dusk. There will be a bit of moon, if it keeps fine, and that is lucky. Not that they mind the moon much, but it will give us a little light to steer by. O yes! he said in answer to more questions from the hobbit. You lose track of time inside goblin-tunnels. Todays Thursday, and it was Monday night or Tuesday morning that we were captured. We have gone miles and miles, and come right down through the heart of the mountains, and are now on the other sidequite a short cut. But we are not at the point to which our pass would have brought us; we are too far to the North, and have some awkward country ahead. And we are still pretty high up. Lets get on! I am dreadfully hungry, groaned Bilbo, who was suddenly aware that he had not had a meal since the night before the night before last. Just think of that for a hobbit! His stomach felt all empty and loose and his legs all wobbly, now that the excitement was over. Cant help it, said Gandalf, unless you like to go back and ask the goblins nicely to let you have your pony back and your luggage. No thank you! said Bilbo. Very well then, we must just tighten our belts and trudge onor we shall be made into supper, and that will be much worse than having none ourselves. As they went on Bilbo looked from side to side for something to eat; but the blackberries were still only in flower, and of course there were no nuts, not even hawthorn-berries. He nibbled a bit of sorrel, and he drank from a small mountain-stream that crossed the path, and he ate three wild strawberries that he found on its bank, but it was not much good. They still went on and on. The rough path disappeared. The bushes, and the long grasses between the boulders, the patches of rabbit-cropped turf, the thyme and the sage and the marjoram, and the yellow rockroses all vanished, and they found themselves at the top of a wide steep slope of fallen stones, the remains of a landslide. When they began to go down this, rubbish and small pebbles rolled away from their feet; soon larger bits of split stone went clattering down and started other pieces below them slithering and rolling; then lumps of rock were disturbed and bounded off, crashing down with a dust and a noise. Before long the whole slope above them and below them seemed on the move, and they were sliding away, huddled all together, in a fearful confusion of slipping, rattling, cracking slabs and stones. It was the trees at the bottom that saved them. They slid into the edge of a climbing wood of pines that here stood right up the mountain slope from the deeper darker forests of the valleys below. Some caught hold of the trunks and swung themselves into lower branches, some (like the little hobbit) got behind a tree to shelter from the onslaught of the rocks. Soon the danger was over, the slide had stopped, and the last faint crashes could be heard as the largest of the disturbed stones went bounding and spinning among the bracken and the pine-roots far below. Well! that has got us on a bit, said Gandalf; and even goblins tracking us will have a job to come down here quietly. I daresay, grumbled Bombur; but they wont find it difficult to send stones bouncing down on our heads. The dwarves (and Bilbo) were feeling far from happy, and were rubbing their bruised and damaged legs and feet. Nonsense! We are going to turn aside here out of the path of the slide. We must be quick! Look at the light! The sun had long gone behind the mountains. Already the shadows were deepening about them, though far away through the trees and over the black tops of those growing lower down they could still see the evening lights on the plains beyond. They limped along now as fast as they were able down the gentle slopes of a pine forest in a slanting path leading steadily southwards. At times they were pushing through a sea of bracken with tall fronds rising right above the hobbits head; at times they were marching along quiet as quiet over a floor of pine-needles; and all the while the forest-gloom got heavier and the forest-silence deeper. There was no wind that evening to bring even a sea-sighing into the branches of the trees. Must we go any further? asked Bilbo, when it was so dark that he could only just see Thorins beard wagging beside him, and so quiet that he could hear the dwarves breathing like a loud noise. My toes are all bruised and bent, and my legs ache, and my stomach is wagging like an empty sack. A bit further, said Gandalf. After what seemed ages further they came suddenly to an opening where no trees grew. The moon was up and was shining into the clearing. Somehow it struck all of them as not at all a nice place, although there was nothing wrong to see. All of a sudden they heard a howl away down hill, a long shuddering howl. It was answered by another away to the right and a good deal nearer to them; then by another not far away to the left. It was wolves howling at the moon, wolves gathering together! There were no wolves living near Mr. Baggins hole at home, but he knew that noise. He had had it described to him often enough in tales. One of his elder cousins (on the Took side), who had been a great traveller, used to imitate it to frighten him. To hear it out in the forest under the moon was too much for Bilbo. Even magic rings are not much use against wolvesespecially against the evil packs that lived under the shadow of the goblin-infested mountains, over the Edge of the Wild on the borders of the unknown. Wolves of that sort smell keener than goblins, and do not need to see you to catch you! What shall we do, what shall we do! he cried. Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves! he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say out of the frying-pan into the fire in the same sort of uncomfortable situations. Up the trees quick! cried Gandalf; and they ran to the trees at the edge of the glade, hunting for those that had branches fairly low, or were slender enough to swarm up. They found them as quick as ever they could, you can guess; and up they went as high as ever they could trust the branches. You would have laughed (from a safe distance), if you had seen the dwarves sitting up in the trees with their beards dangling down, like old gentlemen gone cracked and playing at being boys. Fili and Kili were at the top of a tall larch like an enormous Christmas tree. Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, and Gloin were more comfortable in a huge pine with regular branches sticking out at intervals like the spokes of a wheel. Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin were in another. Dwalin and Balin had swarmed up a tall slender fir with few branches and were trying to find a place to sit in the greenery of the topmost boughs. Gandalf, who was a good deal taller than the others, had found a tree into which they could not climb, a large pine standing at the very edge of the glade. He was quite hidden in its boughs, but you could see his eyes gleaming in the moon as he peeped out. And Bilbo? He could not get into any tree, and was scuttling about from trunk to trunk, like a rabbit that has lost its hole and has a dog after it. Youve left the burglar behind again! said Nori to Dori looking down. I cant be always carrying burglars on my back, said Dori, down tunnels and up trees! What do you think I am? A porter? Hell be eaten if we dont do something, said Thorin, for there were howls all round them now, getting nearer and nearer. Dori! he called, for Dori was lowest down in the easiest tree, be quick, and give Mr. Baggins a hand up! Dori was really a decent fellow in spite of his grumbling. Poor Bilbo could not reach his hand even when he climbed down to the bottom branch and hung his arm down as far as ever he could. So Dori actually climbed out of the tree and let Bilbo scramble up and stand on his back. Just at that moment the wolves trotted howling into the clearing. All of a sudden there were hundreds of eyes looking at them. Still Dori did not let Bilbo down. He waited till he had clambered off his shoulders into the branches, and then he jumped for the branches himself. Only just in time! A wolf snapped at his cloak as he swung up, and nearly got him. In a minute there was a whole pack of them yelping all round the tree and leaping up at the trunk, with eyes blazing and tongues hanging out. But even the wild Wargs (for so the evil wolves over the Edge of the Wild were named) cannot climb trees. For a time they were safe. Luckily it was warm and not windy. Trees are not very comfortable to sit in for long at any time; but in the cold and the wind, with wolves all round below waiting for you, they can be perfectly miserable places. This glade in the ring of trees was evidently a meeting-place of the wolves. More and more kept coming in. They left guards at the foot of the tree in which Dori and Bilbo were, and then went snuffling about till they had smelt out every tree that had anyone in it. These they guarded too, while all the rest (hundreds and hundreds it seemed) went and sat in a great circle in the glade; and in the middle of the circle was a great grey wolf. He spoke to them in the dreadful language of the Wargs. Gandalf understood it. Bilbo did not, but it sounded terrible to him, and as if all their talk was about cruel and wicked things, as it was. Every now and then all the Wargs in the circle would answer their grey chief all together, and their dreadful clamour almost made the hobbit fall out of his pine-tree. I will tell you what Gandalf heard, though Bilbo did not understand it. The Wargs and the goblins often helped one another in wicked deeds. Goblins do not usually venture very far from their mountains, unless they are driven out and are looking for new homes, or are marching to war (which I am glad to say has not happened for a long while). But in those days they sometimes used to go on raids, especially to get food or slaves to work for them. Then they often got the Wargs to help and shared the plunder with them. Sometimes they rode on wolves like men do on horses. Now it seemed that a great goblin-raid had been planned for that very night. The Wargs had come to meet the goblins and the goblins were late. The reason, no doubt, was the death of the Great Goblin, and all the excitement caused by the dwarves and Bilbo and the wizard, for whom they were probably still hunting. In spite of the dangers of this far land bold men had of late been making their way back into it from the South, cutting down trees, and building themselves places to live in among the more pleasant woods in the valleys and along the river-shores. There were many of them, and they were brave and well-armed, and even the Wargs dared not attack them if there were many together, or in the bright day. But now they had planned with the goblins help to come by night upon some of the villages nearest the mountains. If their plan had been carried out, there would have been none left there next day; all would have been killed except the few the goblins kept from the wolves and carried back as prisoners to their caves. This was dreadful talk to listen to, not only because of the brave woodmen and their wives and children, but also because of the danger which now threatened Gandalf and his friends. The Wargs were angry and puzzled at finding them here in their very meeting-place. They thought they were friends of the woodmen, and were come to spy on them, and would take news of their plans down into the valleys, and then the goblins and the wolves would have to fight a terrible battle instead of capturing prisoners and devouring people waked suddenly from their sleep. So the Wargs had no intention of going away and letting the people up the trees escape, at any rate not until morning. And long before that, they said, goblin soldiers would be coming down from the mountains; and goblins can climb trees, or cut them down. Now you can understand why Gandalf, listening to their growling and yelping, began to be dreadfully afraid, wizard though he was, and to feel that they were in a very bad place, and had not yet escaped at all. All the same he was not going to let them have it all their own way, though he could not do very much stuck up in a tall tree with wolves all round on the ground below. He gathered the huge pine-cones from the branches of the tree. Then he set one alight with bright blue fire, and threw it whizzing down among the circle of the wolves. It struck one on the back, and immediately his shaggy coat caught fire, and he was leaping to and fro yelping horribly. Then another came and another, one in blue flames, one in red, another in green. They burst on the ground in the middle of the circle and went off in coloured sparks and smoke. A specially large one hit the chief wolf on the nose, and he leaped in the air ten feet, and then rushed round and round the circle biting and snapping even at the other wolves in his anger and fright. The dwarves and Bilbo shouted and cheered. The rage of the wolves was terrible to see, and the commotion they made filled all the forest. Wolves are afraid of fire at all times, but this was a most horrible and uncanny fire. If a spark got in their coats it stuck and burned into them, and unless they rolled over quick they were soon all in flames. Very soon all about the glade wolves were rolling over and over to put out the sparks on their backs, while those that were burning were running about howling and setting others alight, till their own friends chased them away and they fled off down the slopes crying and yammering and looking for water. What is all this uproar in the forest tonight? said the Lord of the Eagles. He was sitting, black in the moonlight, on the top of a lonely pinnacle of rock at the eastern edge of the mountains. I hear wolves voices! Are the goblins at mischief in the woods? He swept up into the air, and immediately two of his guards from the rocks at either hand leaped up to follow him. They circled up in the sky and looked down upon the ring of the Wargs, a tiny spot far far below. But eagles have keen eyes and can see small things at a great distance. The Lord of the Eagles of the Misty Mountains had eyes that could look at the sun unblinking, and could see a rabbit moving on the ground a mile below even in the moonlight. So though he could not see the people in the trees, he could make out the commotion among the wolves and see the tiny flashes of fire, and hear the howling and yelping come up faint from far beneath him. Also he could see the glint of the moon on goblin spears and helmets, as long lines of the wicked folk crept down the hillsides from their gate and wound into the wood. Eagles are not kindly birds. Some are cowardly and cruel. But the ancient race of the northern mountains were the greatest of all birds; they were proud and strong and noble-hearted. They did not love goblins, or fear them. When they took any notice of them at all (which was seldom, for they did not eat such creatures), they swooped on them and drove them shrieking back to their caves, and stopped whatever wickedness they were doing. The goblins hated the eagles and feared them, but could not reach their lofty seats, or drive them from the mountains. Tonight the Lord of the Eagles was filled with curiosity to know what was afoot; so he summoned many other eagles to him, and they flew away from the mountains, and slowly circling ever round and round they came down, down, down towards the ring of the wolves and the meeting-place of the goblins. A very good thing too! Dreadful things had been going on down there. The wolves that had caught fire and fled into the forest had set it alight in several places. It was high summer, and on this eastern side of the mountains there had been little rain for some time. Yellowing bracken, fallen branches, deep-piled pine-needles, and here and there dead trees, were soon in flames. All round the clearing of the Wargs fire was leaping. But the wolf-guards did not leave the trees. Maddened and angry they were leaping and howling round the trunks, and cursing the dwarves in their horrible language, with their tongues hanging out, and their eyes shining as red and fierce as the flames. Then suddenly goblins came running up yelling. They thought a battle with the woodmen was going on; but they soon learned what had really happened. Some of them actually sat down and laughed. Others waved their spears and clashed the shafts against their shields. Goblins are not afraid of fire, and they soon had a plan which seemed to them most amusing. Some got all the wolves together in a pack. Some stacked fern and brushwood round the tree-trunks. Others rushed round and stamped and beat, and beat and stamped, until nearly all the flames were put outbut they did not put out the fire nearest to the trees where the dwarves were. That fire they fed with leaves and dead branches and bracken. Soon they had a ring of smoke and flame all round the dwarves, a ring which they kept from spreading outwards; but it closed slowly in, till the running fire was licking the fuel piled under the trees. Smoke was in Bilbos eyes, he could feel the heat of the flames; and through the reek he could see the goblins dancing round and round in a circle like people round a midsummer bonfire. Outside the ring of dancing warriors with spears and axes stood the wolves at a respectful distance, watching and waiting. He could hear the goblins beginning a horrible song: Fifteen birds in five fir-trees, their feathers were fanned in a fiery breeze! But, funny little birds, they had no wings! O what shall we do with the funny little things? Roast em alive, or stew them in a pot; fry them, boil them and eat them hot? Then they stopped and shouted out: Fly away little birds! Fly away if you can! Come down little birds, or you will get roasted in your nests! Sing, sing little birds! Why dont you sing? Go away! little boys! shouted Gandalf in answer. It isnt bird-nesting time. Also naughty little boys that play with fire get punished. He said it to make them angry, and to show them he was not frightened of themthough of course he was, wizard though he was. But they took no notice, and they went on singing. Burn, burn tree and fern! Shrivel and scorch! A fizzling torch To light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Bake and toast em, fry and roast em! till beards blaze, and eyes glaze; till hair smells and skins crack, fat melts, and bones black in cinders lie beneath the sky! So dwarves shall die, and light the night for our delight, Ya hey! Ya-harri-hey! Ya hoy! And with that Ya hoy! the flames were under Gandalfs tree. In a moment it spread to the others. The bark caught fire, the lower branches cracked. Then Gandalf climbed to the top of his tree. The sudden splendour flashed from his wand like lightning, as he got ready to spring down from on high right among the spears of the goblins. That would have been the end of him, though he would probably have killed many of them as he came hurtling down like a thunderbolt. But he never leaped. Just at that moment the Lord of the Eagles swept down from above, seized him in his talons, and was gone. There was a howl of anger and surprise from the goblins. Loud cried the Lord of the Eagles, to whom Gandalf had now spoken. Back swept the great birds that were with him, and down they came like huge black shadows. The wolves yammered and gnashed their teeth; the goblins yelled and stamped with rage, and flung their heavy spears in the air in vain. Over them swooped the eagles; the dark rush of their beating wings smote them to the floor or drove them far away; their talons tore at goblin faces. Other birds flew to the tree-tops and seized the dwarves, who were scrambling up now as far as they ever dared to go. Poor little Bilbo was very nearly left behind again! He just managed to catch hold of Doris legs, as Dori was borne off last of all; and up they went together above the tumult and the burning, Bilbo swinging in the air with his arms nearly breaking. Now far below the goblins and the wolves were scattering far and wide in the woods. A few eagles were still circling and sweeping above the battleground. The flames about the trees sprang suddenly up above the highest branches. They went up in crackling fire. There was a sudden flurry of sparks and smoke. Bilbo had escaped only just in time! Soon the light of the burning was faint below, a red twinkle on the black floor; and they were high up in the sky, rising all the time in strong sweeping circles. Bilbo never forgot that flight, clinging onto Doris ankles. He moaned my arms, my arms!; but Dori groaned my poor legs, my poor legs! At the best of times heights made Bilbo giddy. He used to turn queer if he looked over the edge of quite a little cliff; and he had never liked ladders, let alone trees (never having had to escape from wolves before). So you can imagine how his head swam now, when he looked down between his dangling toes and saw the dark lands opening wide underneath him, touched here and there with the light of the moon on a hill-side rock or a stream in the plains. The pale peaks of the mountains were coming nearer, moonlit spikes of rock sticking out of black shadows. Summer or not, it seemed very cold. He shut his eyes and wondered if he could hold on any longer. Then he imagined what would happen if he did not. He felt sick. The flight ended only just in time for him, just before his arms gave way. He loosed Doris ankles with a gasp and fell onto the rough platform of an eagles eyrie. There he lay without speaking, and his thoughts were a mixture of surprise at being saved from the fire, and fear lest he fall off that narrow place into the deep shadows on either side. He was feeling very queer indeed in his head by this time after the dreadful adventures of the last three days with next to nothing to eat, and he found himself saying aloud: Now I know what a piece of bacon feels like when it is suddenly picked out of the pan on a fork and put back on the shelf! No you dont! he heard Dori answering, because the bacon knows that it will get back in the pan sooner or later; and it is to be hoped we shant. Also eagles arent forks! O no! Not a bit like storksforks, I mean, said Bilbo sitting up and looking anxiously at the eagle who was perched close by. He wondered what other nonsense he had been saying, and if the eagle would think it rude. You ought not to be rude to an eagle, when you are only the size of a hobbit, and are up in his eyrie at night! The eagle only sharpened his beak on a stone and trimmed his feathers and took no notice. Soon another eagle flew up. The Lord of the Eagles bids you to bring your prisoners to the Great Shelf, he cried and was off again. The other seized Dori in his claws and flew away with him into the night leaving Bilbo all alone. He had just strength to wonder what the messenger had meant by prisoners, and to begin to think of being torn up for supper like a rabbit, when his own turn came. The eagle came back, seized him in his talons by the back of his coat, and swooped off. This time he flew only a short way. Very soon Bilbo was laid down, trembling with fear, on a wide shelf of rock on the mountain-side. There was no path down on to it save by flying; and no path down off it except by jumping over a precipice. There he found all the others sitting with their backs to the mountain wall. The Lord of the Eagles also was there and was speaking to Gandalf. It seemed that Bilbo was not going to be eaten after all. The wizard and the eagle-lord appeared to know one another slightly, and even to be on friendly terms. As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound. So you see prisoners had meant prisoners rescued from the goblins only, and not captives of the eagles. As Bilbo listened to the talk of Gandalf he realized that at last they were going to escape really and truly from the dreadful mountains. He was discussing plans with the Great Eagle for carrying the dwarves and himself and Bilbo far away and setting them down well on their journey across the plains below. The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate The Lord of the Eagles would not take them anywhere near where men lived. They would shoot at us with their great bows of yew, he said, for they would think we were after their sheep. And at other times they would be right. No! we are glad to cheat the goblins of their sport, and glad to repay our thanks to you, but we will not risk ourselves for dwarves in the southward plains. Very well, said Gandalf. Take us where and as far as you will! We are already deeply obliged to you. But in the meantime we are famished with hunger. I am nearly dead of it, said Bilbo in a weak little voice that nobody heard. That can perhaps be mended, said the Lord of the Eagles. Later on you might have seen a bright fire on the shelf of rock and the figures of the dwarves round it cooking and making a fine roasting smell. The eagles had brought up dry boughs for fuel, and they had brought rabbits, hares, and a small sheep. The dwarves managed all the preparations. Bilbo was too weak to help, and anyway he was not much good at skinning rabbits or cutting up meat, being used to having it delivered by the butcher all ready to cook. Gandalf, too, was lying down after doing his part in setting the fire going, since Oin and Gloin had lost their tinder-boxes. (Dwarves have never taken to matches even yet.) So ended the adventures of the Misty Mountains. Soon Bilbos stomach was feeling full and comfortable again, and he felt he could sleep contentedly, though really he would have liked a loaf and butter better than bits of meat toasted on sticks. He slept curled up on the hard rock more soundly than ever he had done on his feather-bed in his own little hole at home. But all night he dreamed of his own house and wandered in his sleep into all his different rooms looking for something that he could not find nor remember what it looked like. Chapter VII QUEER LODGINGS The next morning Bilbo woke up with the early sun in his eyes. He jumped up to look at the time and to go and put his kettle onand found he was not home at all. So he sat down and wished in vain for a wash and a brush. He did not get either, nor tea nor toast nor bacon for his breakfast, only cold mutton and rabbit. And after that he had to get ready for a fresh start. This time he was allowed to climb on to an eagles back and cling between his wings. The air rushed over him and he shut his eyes. The dwarves were crying farewells and promising to repay the Lord of the Eagles if ever they could, as off rose fifteen great birds from the mountains side. The sun was still close to the eastern edge of things. The morning was cool, and mists were in the valleys and hollows and twined here and there about the peaks and pinnacles of the hills. Bilbo opened an eye to peep and saw that the birds were already high up and the world was far away, and the mountains were falling back behind them into the distance. He shut his eyes again and held on tighter. Dont pinch! said his eagle. You need not be frightened like a rabbit, even if you look rather like one. It is a fair morning with little wind. What is finer than flying? Bilbo would have liked to say: A warm bath and late breakfast on the lawn afterwards; but he thought it better to say nothing at all, and to let go his clutch just a tiny bit. After a good while the eagles must have seen the point they were making for, even from their great height, for they began to go down circling round in great spirals. They did this for a long while, and at last the hobbit opened his eyes again. The earth was much nearer, and below them were trees that looked like oaks and elms, and wide grass lands, and a river running through it all. But cropping out of the ground, right in the path of the stream which looped itself about it, was a great rock, almost a hill of stone, like a last outpost of the distant mountains, or a huge piece cast miles into the plain by some giant among giants. Quickly now to the top of this rock the eagles swooped one by one and set down their passengers. Farewell! they cried, wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journeys end! That is the polite thing to say among eagles. May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks, answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply. And so they parted. And though the Lord of the Eagles became in after days the King of All Birds and wore a golden crown, and his fifteen chieftains golden collars (made of the gold that the dwarves gave them), Bilbo never saw them againexcept high and far off in the battle of Five Armies. But as that comes in at the end of this tale we will say no more about it just now. There was a flat space on the top of the hill of stone and a well worn path with many steps leading down it to the river, across which a ford of huge flat stones led to the grass-land beyond the stream. There was a little cave (a wholesome one with a pebbly floor) at the foot of the steps and near the end of the stony ford. Here the party gathered and discussed what was to be done. I always meant to see you all safe (if possible) over the mountains, said the wizard, and now by good management and good luck I have done it. Indeed we are now a good deal further east than I ever meant to come with you, for after all this is not my adventure. I may look in on it again before it is all over, but in the meanwhile I have some other pressing business to attend to. The dwarves groaned and looked most distressed, and Bilbo wept. They had begun to think Gandalf was going to come all the way and would always be there to help them out of difficulties. I am not going to disappear this very instant, said he. I can give you a day or two more. Probably I can help you out of your present plight, and I need a little help myself. We have no food, and no baggage, and no ponies to ride; and you dont know where you are. Now I can tell you that. You are still some miles north of the path which we should have been following, if we had not left the mountain pass in a hurry. Very few people live in these parts, unless they have come here since I was last down this way, which is some years ago. But there is somebody that I know of, who lives not far away. That Somebody made the steps on the great rockthe Carrock I believe he calls it. He does not come here often, certainly not in the daytime, and it is no good waiting for him. In fact it would be very dangerous. We must go and find him; and if all goes well at our meeting, I think I shall be off and wish you like the eagles farewell wherever you fare! They begged him not to leave them. They offered him dragon-gold and silver and jewels, but he would not change his mind. We shall see, we shall see! he said, and I think I have earned already some of your dragon-goldwhen you have got it. After that they stopped pleading. Then they took off their clothes and bathed in the river, which was shallow and clear and stony at the ford. When they had dried in the sun, which was now strong and warm, they were refreshed, if still sore and a little hungry. Soon they crossed the ford (carrying the hobbit), and then began to march through the long green grass and down the lines of the wide-armed oaks and the tall elms. And why is it called the Carrock? asked Bilbo as he went along at the wizards side. He called it the Carrock, because carrock is his word for it. He calls things like that carrocks, and this one is the Carrock because it is the only one near his home and he knows it well. Who calls it? Who knows it? The Somebody I spoke ofa very great person. You must all be very polite when I introduce you. I shall introduce you slowly, two by two, I think; and you must be careful not to annoy him, or heaven knows what will happen. He can be appalling when he is angry, though he is kind enough if humoured. Still I warn you he gets angry easily. The dwarves all gathered round when they heard the wizard talking like this to Bilbo. Is that the person you are taking us to now? they asked. Couldnt you find someone more easy-tempered? Hadnt you better explain it all a bit clearer?and so on. Yes it certainly is! No I could not! And I was explaining very carefully, answered the wizard crossly. If you must know more, his name is Beorn. He is very strong, and he is a skin-changer. What! a furrier, a man that calls rabbits conies, when he doesnt turn their skins into squirrels? asked Bilbo. Good gracious heavens, no, no, NO, NO! said Gandalf. Dont be a fool Mr. Baggins if you can help it; and in the name of all wonder dont mention the word furrier again as long as you are within a hundred miles of his house, nor rug, cape, tippet, muff, nor any other such unfortunate word! He is a skin-changer. He changes his skin: sometimes he is a huge black bear, sometimes he is a great strong black-haired man with huge arms and a great beard. I cannot tell you much more, though that ought to be enough. Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North. I cannot say, though I fancy the last is the true tale. He is not the sort of person to ask questions of. At any rate he is under no enchantment but his own. He lives in an oak-wood and has a great wooden house; and as a man he keeps cattle and horses which are nearly as marvellous as himself. They work for him and talk to him. He does not eat them; neither does he hunt or eat wild animals. He keeps hives and hives of great fierce bees, and lives most on cream and honey. As a bear he ranges far and wide. I once saw him sitting all alone on the top of the Carrock at night watching the moon sinking towards the Misty Mountains, and I heard him growl in the tongue of bears: The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back! That is why I believe he once came from the mountains himself. Bilbo and the dwarves had now plenty to think about, and they asked no more questions. They still had a long way to walk before them. Up slope and down dale they plodded. It grew very hot. Sometimes they rested under the trees, and then Bilbo felt so hungry that he would have eaten acorns, if any had been ripe enough yet to have fallen to the ground. It was the middle of the afternoon before they noticed that great patches of flowers had begun to spring up, all the same kinds growing together as if they had been planted. Especially there was clover, waving patches of cockscomb clover, and purple clover, and wide stretches of short white sweet honey-smelling clover. There was a buzzing and a whirring and a droning in the air. Bees were busy everywhere. And such bees! Bilbo had never seen anything like them. If one was to sting me, he thought, I should swell up as big again as I am! They were bigger than hornets. The drones were bigger than your thumb, a good deal, and the bands of yellow on their deep black bodies shone like fiery gold. We are getting near, said Gandalf. We are on the edge of his bee-pastures. After a while they came to a belt of tall and very ancient oaks, and beyond these to a high thorn-hedge through which you could neither see nor scramble. You had better wait here, said the wizard to the dwarves; and when I call or whistle begin to come after meyou will see the way I gobut only in pairs, mind, about five minutes between each pair of you. Bombur is fattest and will do for two, he had better come alone and last. Come on Mr. Baggins! There is a gate somewhere round this way. And with that he went off along the hedge taking the frightened hobbit with him. They soon came to a wooden gate, high and broad, beyond which they could see gardens and a cluster of low wooden buildings, some thatched and made of unshaped logs: barns, stables, sheds, and a long low wooden house. Inside on the southward side of the great hedge were rows and rows of hives with bell-shaped tops made of straw. The noise of the giant bees flying to and fro and crawling in and out filled all the air. The wizard and the hobbit pushed open the heavy creaking gate and went down a wide track towards the house. Some horses, very sleek and well-groomed, trotted up across the grass and looked at them intently with very intelligent faces; then off they galloped to the buildings. They have gone to tell him of the arrival of strangers, said Gandalf. Soon they reached a courtyard, three walls of which were formed by the wooden house and its two long wings. In the middle there was lying a great oak-trunk with many lopped branches beside it. Standing near was a huge man with a thick black beard and hair, and great bare arms and legs with knotted muscles. He was clothed in a tunic of wool down to his knees, and was leaning on a large axe. The horses were standing by him with their noses at his shoulder. Ugh! here they are! he said to the horses. They dont look dangerous. You can be off! He laughed a great rolling laugh, put down his axe and came forward. Who are you and what do you want? he asked gruffly, standing in front of them and towering tall above Gandalf. As for Bilbo he could easily have trotted through his legs without ducking his head to miss the fringe of the mans brown tunic. I am Gandalf, said the wizard. Never heard of him, growled the man. And whats this little fellow? he said, stooping down to frown at the hobbit with his bushy black eyebrows. That is Mr. Baggins, a hobbit of good family and unimpeachable reputation, said Gandalf. Bilbo bowed. He had no hat to take off, and was painfully conscious of his many missing buttons. I am a wizard, continued Gandalf. I have heard of you, if you have not heard of me; but perhaps you have heard of my good cousin Radagast who lives near the Southern borders of Mirkwood? Yes; not a bad fellow as wizards go, I believe. I used to see him now and again, said Beorn. Well, now I know who you are, or who you say you are. What do you want? To tell you the truth, we have lost our luggage and nearly lost our way, and are rather in need of help, or at least of advice. I may say we have had rather a bad time with goblins in the mountains. Goblins? said the big man less gruffly. O ho, so youve been having trouble with them have you? What did you go near them for? We did not mean to. They surprised us at night in a pass which we had to cross; we were coming out of the Lands over West into these countriesit is a long tale. Then you had better come inside and tell me some of it, if it wont take all day, said the man leading the way through a dark door that opened out of the courtyard into the house. Following him they found themselves in a wide hall with a fire-place in the middle. Though it was summer there was a wood-fire burning and the smoke was rising to the blackened rafters in search of the way out through an opening in the roof. They passed through this dim hall, lit only by the fire and the hole above it, and came through another smaller door into a sort of veranda propped on wooden posts made of single tree-trunks. It faced south and was still warm and filled with the light of the westering sun which slanted into it, and fell golden on the garden full of flowers that came right up to the steps. Here they sat on wooden benches while Gandalf began his tale, and Bilbo swung his dangling legs and looked at the flowers in the garden, wondering what their names could be, as he had never seen half of them before. I was coming over the mountains with a friend or two. . . said the wizard. Or two? I can only see one, and a little one at that, said Beorn. Well to tell you the truth, I did not like to bother you with a lot of us, until I found out if you were busy. I will give a call, if I may. Go on, call away! So Gandalf gave a long shrill whistle, and presently Thorin and Dori came round the house by the garden path and stood bowing low before them. One or three you meant, I see! said Beorn. But these arent hobbits, they are dwarves! Thorin Oakenshield, at your service! Dori at your service! said the two dwarves bowing again. I dont need your service, thank you, said Beorn, but I expect you need mine. I am not over fond of dwarves; but if it is true you are Thorin (son of Thrain, son of Thror, I believe), and that your companion is respectable, and that you are enemies of goblins and are not up to any mischief in my landswhat are you up to, by the way? They are on their way to visit the land of their fathers, away east beyond Mirkwood, put in Gandalf, and it is entirely an accident that we are in your lands at all. We were crossing by the High Pass that should have brought us to the road that lies to the south of your country, when we were attacked by the evil goblinsas I was about to tell you. Go on telling, then! said Beorn, who was never very polite. There was a terrible storm; the stone-giants were out hurling rocks, and at the head of the pass we took refuge in a cave, the hobbit and I and several of our companions. . . Do you call two several? Well, no. As a matter of fact there were more than two. Where are they? Killed, eaten, gone home? Well, no. They dont seem all to have come when I whistled. Shy, I expect. You see, we are very much afraid that we are rather a lot for you to entertain. Go on, whistle again! I am in for a party, it seems, and one or two more wont make much difference, growled Beorn. Gandalf whistled again; but Nori and Ori were there almost before he had stopped, for, if you remember, Gandalf had told them to come in pairs every five minutes. Hullo! said Beorn. You came pretty quickwhere were you hiding? Come on my jack-in-the-boxes! Nori at your service, Ori at. . . they began; but Beorn interrupted them. Thank you! When I want your help I will ask for it. Sit down, and lets get on with this tale, or it will be supper-time before it is ended. As soon as we were asleep, went on Gandalf, a crack at the back of the cave opened; goblins came out and grabbed the hobbit and the dwarves and our troop of ponies Troop of ponies? What were youa travelling circus? Or were you carrying lots of goods? Or do you always call six a troop? O no! As a matter of fact there were more than six ponies, for there were more than six of usand well, here are two more! Just at that moment Balin and Dwalin appeared and bowed so low that their beards swept the stone floor. The big man was frowning at first, but they did their best to be frightfully polite, and kept on nodding and bending and bowing and waving their hoods before their knees (in proper dwarf-fashion), till he stopped frowning and burst into a chuckling laugh: they looked so comical. Troop, was right, he said. A fine comic one. Come in my merry men, and what are your names? I dont want your service just now, only your names; and then sit down and stop wagging! Balin and Dwalin, they said not daring to be offended, and sat flop on the floor looking rather surprised. Now go on again! said Beorn to the wizard. Where was I? O yesI was not grabbed. I killed a goblin or two with a flash Good! growled Beorn. It is some good being a wizard, then. and slipped inside the crack before it closed. I followed down into the main hall, which was crowded with goblins. The Great Goblin was there with thirty or forty armed guards. I thought to myself even if they were not all chained together, what can a dozen do against so many? A dozen! Thats the first time Ive heard eight called a dozen. Or have you still got some more jacks that havent yet come out of their boxes? Well, yes, there seem to be a couple more here nowFili and Kili, I believe, said Gandalf, as these two now appeared and stood smiling and bowing. Thats enough! said Beorn. Sit down and be quiet! Now go on, Gandalf! So Gandalf went on with the tale, until he came to the fight in the dark, the discovery of the lower gate, and their horror when they found that Mr. Baggins had been mislaid. We counted ourselves and found that there was no hobbit. There were only fourteen of us left! Fourteen! Thats the first time Ive heard one from ten leave fourteen. You mean nine, or else you havent told me yet all the names of your party. Well, of course you havent seen Oin and Gloin yet. And, bless me! here they are. I hope you will forgive them for bothering you. O let em all come! Hurry up! Come along, you two, and sit down! But look here, Gandalf, even now we have only got yourself and ten dwarves and the hobbit that was lost. That only makes eleven (plus one mislaid) and not fourteen, unless wizards count differently to other people. But now please get on with the tale. Beorn did not show it more than he could help, but really he had begun to get very interested. You see, in the old days he had known the very part of the mountains that Gandalf was describing. He nodded and he growled, when he heard of the hobbits reappearance and of their scramble down the stone-slide and of the wolf-ring in the woods. When Gandalf came to their climbing into trees with the wolves all underneath, he got up and strode about and muttered: I wish I had been there! I would have given them more than fireworks! Well, said Gandalf very glad to see that his tale was making a good impression, I did the best I could. There we were with the wolves going mad underneath us and the forest beginning to blaze in places, when the goblins came down from the hills and discovered us. They yelled with delight and sang songs making fun of us. Fifteen birds in five fir-trees . . . Good heavens! growled Beorn. Dont pretend that goblins cant count. They can. Twelve isnt fifteen and they know it. And so do I. There were Bifur and Bofur as well. I havent ventured to introduce them before, but here they are. In came Bifur and Bofur. And me! gasped Bombur puffing up behind. He was fat, and also angry at being left till last. He refused to wait five minutes, and followed immediately after the other two. Well, now there are fifteen of you; and since goblins can count, I suppose that is all that there were up the trees. Now perhaps we can finish this story without any more interruptions. Mr. Baggins saw then how clever Gandalf had been. The interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the story, and the story had kept him from sending the dwarves off at once like suspicious beggars. He never invited people into his house, if he could help it. He had very few friends and they lived a good way away; and he never invited more than a couple of these to his house at a time. Now he had got fifteen strangers sitting in his porch! By the time the wizard had finished his tale and had told of the eagles rescue and of how they had all been brought to the Carrock, the sun had fallen behind the peaks of the Misty Mountains and the shadows were long in Beorns garden. A very good tale! said he. The best I have heard for a long while. If all beggars could tell such a good one, they might find me kinder. You may be making it all up, of course, but you deserve a supper for the story all the same. Lets have something to eat! Yes please! they all said together. Thank you very much! Inside the hall it was now quite dark. Beorn clapped his hands, and in trotted four beautiful white ponies and several large long-bodied grey dogs. Beorn said something to them in a queer language like animal noises turned into talk. They went out again and soon came back carrying torches in their mouths, which they lit at the fire and stuck in low brackets on the pillars of the hall about the central hearth. The dogs could stand on their hind-legs when they wished, and carry things with their fore-feet. Quickly they got out boards and trestles from the side walls and set them up near the fire. Then baabaabaa! was heard, and in came some snow-white sheep led by a large coal-black ram. One bore a white cloth embroidered at the edges with figures of animals; others bore on their broad backs trays with bowls and platters and knives and wooden spoons, which the dogs took and quickly laid on the trestle-tables. These were very low, low enough even for Bilbo to sit at comfortably. Beside them a pony pushed two low-seated benches with wide rush-bottoms and little short thick legs for Gandalf and Thorin, while at the far end he put Beorns big black chair of the same sort (in which he sat with his great legs stuck far out under the table). These were all the chairs he had in his hall, and he probably had them low like the tables for the convenience of the wonderful animals that waited on him. What did the rest sit on? They were not forgotten. The other ponies came in rolling round drum-shaped sections of logs, smoothed and polished, and low enough even for Bilbo; so soon they were all seated at Beorns table, and the hall had not seen such a gathering for many a year. There they had a supper, or a dinner, such as they had not had since they left the Last Homely House in the West and said good-bye to Elrond. The light of the torches and the fire flickered about them, and on the table were two tall red beeswax candles. All the time they ate, Beorn in his deep rolling voice told tales of the wild lands on this side of the mountains, and especially of the dark and dangerous wood, that lay outstretched far to North and South a days ride before them, barring their way to the East, the terrible forest of Mirkwood. The dwarves listened and shook their beards, for they knew that they must soon venture into that forest and that after the mountains it was the worst of the perils they had to pass before they came to the dragons stronghold. When dinner was over they began to tell tales of their own, but Beorn seemed to be growing drowsy and paid little heed to them. They spoke most of gold and silver and jewels and the making of things by smith-craft, and Beorn did not appear to care for such things: there were no things of gold or silver in his hall, and few save the knives were made of metal at all. They sat long at the table with their wooden drinking-bowls filled with mead. The dark night came on outside. The fires in the middle of the hall were built with fresh logs and the torches were put out, and still they sat in the light of the dancing flames with the pillars of the house standing tall behind them, and dark at the top like trees of the forest. Whether it was magic or not, it seemed to Bilbo that he heard a sound like wind in the branches stirring in the rafters, and the hoot of owls. Soon he began to nod with sleep and the voices seemed to grow far away, until he woke with a start. The great door had creaked and slammed. Beorn was gone. The dwarves were sitting cross-legged on the floor round the fire, and presently they began to sing. Some of the verses were like this, but there were many more, and their singing went on for a long while: The wind was on the withered heath, but in the forest stirred no leaf: there shadows lay by night and day, and dark things silent crept beneath. The wind came down from mountains cold, and like a tide it roared and rolled; the branches groaned, the forest moaned, and leaves were laid upon the mould. The wind went on from West to East; all movement in the forest ceased, but shrill and harsh across the marsh its whistling voices were released. The grasses hissed, their tassels bent, the reeds were rattlingon it went oer shaken pool under heavens cool where racing clouds were torn and rent. It passed the lonely Mountain bare and swept above the dragons lair: there black and dark lay boulders stark and flying smoke was in the air. It left the world and took its flight over the wide seas of the night. The moon set sail upon the gale, and stars were fanned to leaping light. Bilbo began to nod again. Suddenly up stood Gandalf. It is time for us to sleep, he said, for us, but not I think for Beorn. In this hall we can rest sound and safe, but I warn you all not to forget what Beorn said before he left us: you must not stray outside until the sun is up, on your peril. Bilbo found that beds had already been laid at the side of the hall, on a sort of raised platform between the pillars and the outer wall. For him there was a little mattress of straw and woollen blankets. He snuggled into them very gladly, summertime though it was. The fire burned low and he fell asleep. Yet in the night he woke: the fire had now sunk to a few embers; the dwarves and Gandalf were all asleep, to judge by their breathing; a splash of white on the floor came from the high moon, which was peering down through the smoke-hole in the roof. There was a growling sound outside, and a noise as of some great animal scuffling at the door. Bilbo wondered what it was, and whether it could be Beorn in enchanted shape, and if he would come in as a bear and kill them. He dived under the blankets and hid his head, and fell asleep again at last in spite of his fears. It was full morning when he awoke. One of the dwarves had fallen over him in the shadows where he lay, and had rolled down with a bump from the platform on to the floor. It was Bofur, and he was grumbling about it, when Bilbo opened his eyes. Get up lazybones, he said, or there will be no breakfast left for you. Up jumped Bilbo. Breakfast! he cried. Where is breakfast? Mostly inside us, answered the other dwarves who were moving about the hall; but what is left is out on the veranda. We have been about looking for Beorn ever since the sun got up; but there is no sign of him anywhere, though we found breakfast laid as soon as we went out. Where is Gandalf? asked Bilbo, moving off to find something to eat as quick as he could. O! out and about somewhere, they told him. But he saw no sign of the wizard all that day until the evening. Just before sunset he walked into the hall, where the hobbit and the dwarves were having supper, waited on by Beorns wonderful animals, as they had been all day. Of Beorn they had seen and heard nothing since the night before, and they were getting puzzled. Where is our host, and where have you been all day yourself? they all cried. One question at a timeand none till after supper! I havent had a bite since breakfast. At last Gandalf pushed away his plate and jughe had eaten two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and drunk at least a quart of meadand he took out his pipe. I will answer the second question first, he said, but bless me! this is a splendid place for smoke rings! Indeed for a long time they could get nothing more out of him, he was so busy sending smoke rings dodging round the pillars of the hall, changing them into all sorts of different shapes and colours, and setting them at last chasing one another out of the hole in the roof. They must have looked very queer from outside, popping out into the air one after another, green, blue, red, silver-grey, yellow, white; big ones, little ones; little ones dodging through big ones and joining into figure-eights, and going off like a flock of birds into the distance. I have been picking out bear-tracks, he said at last. There must have been a regular bears meeting outside here last night. I soon saw that Beorn could not have made them all: there were far too many of them, and they were of various sizes too. I should say there were little bears, large bears, ordinary bears, and gigantic big bears, all dancing outside from dark to nearly dawn. They came from almost every direction, except from the west over the river, from the Mountains. In that direction only one set of footprints lednone coming, only ones going away from here. I followed these as far as the Carrock. There they disappeared into the river, but the water was too deep and strong beyond the rock for me to cross. It is easy enough, as you remember, to get from this bank to the Carrock by the ford, but on the other side is a cliff standing up from a swirling channel. I had to walk miles before I found a place where the river was wide and shallow enough for me to wade and swim, and then miles back again to pick up the tracks again. By that time it was too late for me to follow them far. They went straight off in the direction of the pine-woods on the east side of the Misty Mountains, where we had our pleasant little party with the Wargs the night before last. And now I think I have answered your first question, too, ended Gandalf, and he sat a long while silent. Bilbo thought he knew what the wizard meant. What shall we do, he cried, if he leads all the Wargs and the goblins down here? We shall all be caught and killed! I thought you said he was not a friend of theirs. So I did. And dont be silly! You had better go to bed, your wits are sleepy. The hobbit felt quite crushed, and as there seemed nothing else to do he did go to bed; and while the dwarves were still singing songs he dropped asleep, still puzzling his little head about Beorn, till he dreamed a dream of hundreds of black bears dancing slow heavy dances round and round in the moonlight in the courtyard. Then he woke up when everyone else was asleep, and he heard the same scraping, scuffling, snuffling, and growling as before. Next morning they were all wakened by Beorn himself. So here you all are still! he said. He picked up the hobbit and laughed: Not eaten up by Wargs or goblins or wicked bears yet I see; and he poked Mr. Baggins waistcoat most disrespectfully. Little bunny is getting nice and fat again on bread and honey, he chuckled. Come and have some more! So they all went to breakfast with him. Beorn was most jolly for a change; indeed he seemed to be in a splendidly good humour and set them all laughing with his funny stories; nor did they have to wonder long where he had been or why he was so nice to them, for he told them himself. He had been over the river and right back up into the mountainsfrom which you can guess that he could travel quickly, in bears shape at any rate. From the burnt wolf-glade he had soon found out that part of their story was true; but he had found more than that: he had caught a Warg and a goblin wandering in the woods. From these he had got news: the goblin patrols were still hunting with Wargs for the dwarves, and they were fiercely angry because of the death of the Great Goblin, and also because of the burning of the chief wolfs nose and the death from the wizards fire of many of his chief servants. So much they told him when he forced them, but he guessed there was more wickedness than this afoot, and that a great raid of the whole goblin army with their wolf-allies into the lands shadowed by the mountains might soon be made to find the dwarves, or to take vengeance on the men and creatures that lived there, and who they thought must be sheltering them. It was a good story, that of yours, said Beorn, but I like it still better now I am sure it is true. You must forgive my not taking your word. If you lived near the edge of Mirkwood, you would take the word of no one that you did not know as well as your brother or better. As it is, I can only say that I have hurried home as fast as I could to see that you were safe, and to offer you any help that I can. I shall think more kindly of dwarves after this. Killed the Great Goblin, killed the Great Goblin! he chuckled fiercely to himself. What did you do with the goblin and the Warg? asked Bilbo suddenly. Come and see! said Beorn, and they followed round the house. A goblins head was stuck outside the gate and a warg-skin was nailed to a tree just beyond. Beorn was a fierce enemy. But now he was their friend, and Gandalf thought it wise to tell him their whole story and the reason of their journey, so that they could get the most help he could offer. This is what he promised to do for them. He would provide ponies for each of them, and a horse for Gandalf, for their journey to the forest, and he would lade them with food to last them for weeks with care, and packed so as to be as easy as possible to carrynuts, flour, sealed jars of dried fruits, and red earthenware pots of honey, and twice-baked cakes that would keep good a long time, and on a little of which they could march far. The making of these was one of his secrets; but honey was in them, as in most of his foods, and they were good to eat, though they made one thirsty. Water, he said, they would not need to carry this side of the forest, for there were streams and springs along the road. But your way through Mirkwood is dark, dangerous and difficult, he said. Water is not easy to find there, nor food. The time is not yet come for nuts (though it may be past and gone indeed before you get to the other side), and nuts are about all that grows there fit for food; in there the wild things are dark, queer, and savage. I will provide you with skins for carrying water, and I will give you some bows and arrows. But I doubt very much whether anything you find in Mirkwood will be wholesome to eat or to drink. There is one stream there, I know, black and strong which crosses the path. That you should neither drink of, nor bathe in; for I have heard that it carries enchantment and a great drowsiness and forgetfulness. And in the dim shadows of that place I dont think you will shoot anything, wholesome or unwholesome, without straying from the path. That you MUST NOT do, for any reason. That is all the advice I can give you. Beyond the edge of the forest I cannot help you much; you must depend on your luck and your courage and the food I send with you. At the gate of the forest I must ask you to send back my horse and my ponies. But I wish you all speed, and my house is open to you, if ever you come back this way again. They thanked him, of course, with many bows and sweepings of their hoods and with many an at your service, O master of the wide wooden halls! But their spirits sank at his grave words, and they all felt that the adventure was far more dangerous than they had thought, while all the time, even if they passed all the perils of the road, the dragon was waiting at the end. All that morning they were busy with preparations. Soon after midday they ate with Beorn for the last time, and after the meal they mounted the steeds he was lending them, and bidding him many farewells they rode off through his gate at a good pace. As soon as they left his high hedges at the east of his fenced lands they turned north and then bore to the north-west. By his advice they were no longer making for the main forest-road to the south of his land. Had they followed the pass, their path would have led them down a stream from the mountains that joined the great river miles south of the Carrock. At that point there was a deep ford which they might have passed, if they had still had their ponies, and beyond that a track led to the skirts of the wood and to the entrance of the old forest road. But Beorn had warned them that that way was now often used by the goblins, while the forest-road itself, he had heard, was overgrown and disused at the eastern end and led to impassable marshes where the paths had long been lost. Its eastern opening had also always been far to the south of the Lonely Mountain, and would have left them still with a long and difficult northward march when they got to the other side. North of the Carrock the edge of Mirkwood drew closer to the borders of the Great River, and though here the Mountains too drew down nearer, Beorn advised them to take this way; for at a place a few days ride due north of the Carrock was the gate of a little-known pathway through Mirkwood that led almost straight towards the Lonely Mountain. The goblins, Beorn had said, will not dare to cross the Great River for a hundred miles north of the Carrock nor to come near my houseit is well protected at night!but I should ride fast; for if they make their raid soon they will cross the river to the south and scour all the edge of the forest so as to cut you off, and Wargs run swifter than ponies. Still you are safer going north, even though you seem to be going back nearer to their strongholds; for that is what they will least expect, and they will have the longer ride to catch you. Be off now as quick as you may! That is why they were now riding in silence, galloping wherever the ground was grassy and smooth, with the mountains dark on their left, and in the distance the line of the river with its trees drawing ever closer. The sun had only just turned west when they started, and till evening it lay golden on the land about them. It was difficult to think of pursuing goblins behind, and when they had put many miles between them and Beorns house they began to talk and to sing again and to forget the dark forest-path that lay in front. But in the evening when the dusk came on and the peaks of the mountains glowered against the sunset they made a camp and set a guard, and most of them slept uneasily with dreams in which there came the howl of hunting wolves and the cries of goblins. Still the next morning dawned bright and fair again. There was an autumn-like mist white upon the ground and the air was chill, but soon the sun rose red in the East and the mists vanished, and while the shadows were still long they were off again. So they rode now for two more days, and all the while they saw nothing save grass and flowers and birds and scattered trees, and occasionally small herds of red deer browsing or sitting at noon in the shade. Sometimes Bilbo saw the horns of the harts sticking up out of the long grass, and at first he thought they were the dead branches of trees. That third evening they were so eager to press on, for Beorn had said that they should reach the forest-gate early on the fourth-day, that they rode still forward after dusk and into the night beneath the moon. As the light faded Bilbo thought he saw away to the right, or to the left, the shadowy form of a great bear prowling along in the same direction. But if he dared to mention it to Gandalf, the wizard only said: Hush! Take no notice! Next day they started before dawn, though their night had been short. As soon as it was light they could see the forest coming as it were to meet them, or waiting for them like a black and frowning wall before them. The land began to slope up and up, and it seemed to the hobbit that a silence began to draw in upon them. Birds began to sing less. There were no more deer; not even rabbits were to be seen. By the afternoon they had reached the eaves of Mirkwood, and were resting almost beneath the great overhanging boughs of its outer trees. Their trunks were huge and gnarled, their branches twisted, their leaves were dark and long. Ivy grew on them and trailed along the ground. Well, here is Mirkwood! said Gandalf. The greatest of the forests of the Northern world. I hope you like the look of it. Now you must send back these excellent ponies you have borrowed. The dwarves were inclined to grumble at this, but the wizard told them they were fools. Beorn is not as far off as you seem to think, and you had better keep your promises anyway, for he is a bad enemy. Mr. Baggins eyes are sharper than yours, if you have not seen each night after dark a great bear going along with us or sitting far off in the moon watching our camps. Not only to guard you and guide you, but to keep an eye on the ponies too. Beorn may be your friend, but he loves his animals as his children. You do not guess what kindness he has shown you in letting dwarves ride them so far and so fast, nor what would happen to you, if you tried to take them into the forest. What about the horse, then? said Thorin. You dont mention sending that back. I dont, because I am not sending it. What about your promise then? I will look after that. I am not sending the horse back, I am riding it! Then they knew that Gandalf was going to leave them at the very edge of Mirkwood, and they were in despair. But nothing they could say would change his mind. Now we had this all out before, when we landed on the Carrock, he said. It is no use arguing. I have, as I told you, some pressing business away south; and I am already late through bothering with you people. We may meet again before all is over, and then again of course we may not. That depends on your luck and on your courage and sense; and I am sending Mr. Baggins with you. I have told you before that he has more about him than you guess, and you will find that out before long. So cheer up Bilbo and dont look so glum. Cheer up Thorin and Company! This is your expedition after all. Think of the treasure at the end, and forget the forest and the dragon, at any rate until tomorrow morning! When tomorrow morning came he still said the same. So now there was nothing left to do but to fill their water-skins at a clear spring they found close to the forest-gate, and unpack the ponies. They distributed the packages as fairly as they could, though Bilbo thought his lot was wearisomely heavy, and did not at all like the idea of trudging for miles and miles with all that on his back. Dont you worry! said Thorin. It will get lighter all too soon. Before long I expect we shall all wish our packs heavier, when the food begins to run short. Then at last they said good-bye to their ponies and turned their heads for home. Off they trotted gaily, seeming very glad to put their tails towards the shadow of Mirkwood. As they went away Bilbo could have sworn that a thing like a bear left the shadow of the trees and shambled off quickly after them. Now Gandalf too said farewell. Bilbo sat on the ground feeling very unhappy and wishing he was beside the wizard on his tall horse. He had gone just inside the forest after breakfast (a very poor one), and it had seemed as dark in there in the morning as at night, and very secret: a sort of watching and waiting feeling, he said to himself. Good-bye! said Gandalf to Thorin. And goodbye to you all, good-bye! Straight through the forest is your way now. Dont stray off the track!if you do, it is a thousand to one you will never find it again and never get out of Mirkwood; and then I dont suppose I, or any one else, will ever see you again. Do we really have to go through? groaned the hobbit. Yes, you do! said the wizard, if you want to get to the other side. You must either go through or give up your quest. And I am not going to allow you to back out now, Mr. Baggins. I am ashamed of you for thinking of it. You have got to look after all these dwarves for me, he laughed. No! no! said Bilbo. I didnt mean that. I meant, is there no way round? There is, if you care to go two hundred miles or so out of your way north, and twice that south. But you wouldnt get a safe path even then. There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go. Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description. Before you could get round it in the South, you would get into the land of the Necromancer; and even you, Bilbo, wont need me to tell you tales of that black sorcerer. I dont advise you to go anywhere near the places overlooked by his dark tower! Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best, and with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day and see the Long Marshes lying below you, and beyond them, high in the East, the Lonely Mountain where dear old Smaug lives, though I hope he is not expecting you. Very comforting you are to be sure, growled Thorin. Good-bye! If you wont come with us, you had better get off without any more talk! Good-bye then, and really good-bye! said Gandalf, and he turned his horse and rode down into the West. But he could not resist the temptation to have the last word. Before he had passed quite out of hearing he turned and put his hands to his mouth and called to them. They heard his voice come faintly: Good-bye! Be good, take care of yourselvesand DONT LEAVE THE PATH! Then he galloped away and was soon lost to sight. O good-bye and go away! grunted the dwarves, all the more angry because they were really filled with dismay at losing him. Now began the most dangerous part of all the journey. They each shouldered the heavy pack and the water-skin which was their share, and turned from the light that lay on the lands outside and plunged into the forest.

  • WALL-E / - (Disney, 2012)    WALL-E / - (Disney,
  • The Lion King /   (Disney, 2012)    The Lion King /
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs /     (Disney, 2012)    Snow White and the Seven
  • Dumbo /  (Disney, 2012) -   Dumbo / (Disney, 2012)

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