The Hobbit Novel by J. R. R. Tolkien - chapter 1
An Unexpected Party
In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and a bad smell, nor yet a dry, sandy hole with nothing in it: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.
It had a round door like a porthole, painted green with a shiny yellow brass knob in the middle. Behind the door there was a hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke. On the floor there were carpets and chairs, and on the walls there were lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit liked visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going into the side of the hill – The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it – and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. Bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries, wardrobes, kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side, because only they had windows, round windows looking over his garden and meadows, going down to the river.
This hobbit was a very rich hobbit, and his name was Baggins. The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for a long time, 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. This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and did completely unexpected things. Maybe, as a result, he lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained – well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.
The mother of our hobbit… what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, because 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 Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, but they can disappear quietly and quickly when the Big People come along, making a noise like elephants. They are often fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (especially green and yellow); wear no shoes, because the soles of their feet are leathery and covered with thick warm hair. They have brown curly hair on their heads, long brown fingers and friendly faces. Hobbits laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day). Now you know enough. As I was saying, the mother of this hobbit – of Bilbo Baggins – was Belladonna Took, one of the three 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. They said that long ago one of the Tooks had a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was something strange about them, – and sometimes members of the Took-clan went away and had adventures.
Mr Bungo Baggins, Bilbo’s father, built a luxurious hobbit-hole for his wife (and partly with her money), and there they remained to the end of their days. Still it is probable that Bilbo, their only son, although he looked and behaved exactly like his father, got something a bit queer from the Tooks, something that only waited for a chance to come out. The chance never arrived, until Bilbo Baggins was grown up, about fifty years old.
One morning, when Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking a long wooden pipe, Gandalf came by. Gandalf! He had been away over The Hill on his own business since the Old Took died.
So that morning Bilbo saw an old man with a stick. He had a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over which a white beard hung down below his waist, and huge black boots. “Good morning!” said Bilbo. The morning was really good: the sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows. “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?”
“All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And that’s also a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors. If you have a pipe, sit down and let’s smoke!” Then Bilbo sat down on a seat by his door, crossed his legs, and blew out a beautiful grey ring of smoke that floated away over The Hill.
“Very pretty!” said Gandalf. “But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for a companion in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.”
“Of course – in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and don’t like adventures. I can’t think what anybody sees in them,” said our Mr Baggins. Then he took out his morning letters, and began to read. He wanted Gandalf 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 angry.
“Good morning!” he said at last. “We don’t want any adventures here, thank you!” By this he meant that the conversation was at an end.
“Now you say ‘Good morning’ and mean that you want to get rid of me,” said Gandalf.
“Not at all, not at all, my dear sir! Let me see, do I know your name?”
“Yes, yes, my dear sir – and I know your name, Mr Bilbo Baggins. And you really know my name. I am Gandalf!”
“Gandalf, Gandalf! You are the wandering wizard that gave Old Took a pair of magic diamond studs! You are the fellow who used to tell wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses! You are the man that used to make fantastic fireworks! I remember those! Splendid! You were responsible for so many quiet young hobbits that went off for mad adventures! I beg your pardon, I had no idea that you were still in business.”
“Where else should I be?” said the wizard. “But I am pleased that you remember something about me. So I will give you what you asked for.”
“I beg your pardon, I haven’t asked for anything!”
“Yes, you have! Twice now. My pardon. I give it you. In fact I will even send you on this adventure. It will be very amusing for me and very good for you too.”
“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. But please come to tea – any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Good-bye!”
With that the hobbit turned and ran inside his round green door.
“Why did I ask him to tea?” 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 was still standing outside the door, and laughing long but quietly. Then he scratched a queer sign on the hobbit’s beautiful green front-door and went away.
The next day Bilbo almost forgot about Gandalf, but just before tea-time, when a tremendous ring on the front-door bell came, 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, hung his hooded cloak on the nearest peg, and “Dwalin at your service!” he said with a low bow.
“Bilbo Baggins at yours!” answered the hobbit, and added: “I am going to take tea; please come and have some with me.”
Very soon there came another ring at the bell. “Excuse me!” said the hobbit, and went off to the door. “So you are here at last!” he was going to say to Gandalf this time. But it was not Gandalf. Instead there was a very old dwarf with a white beard and a scarlet hood; and he too hopped inside as soon as the door was open. He hung his red hood next to Dwalin’s green one, and “Balin at your service!” he said.
“Thank you!” said Bilbo in surprise. He liked visitors, but he liked to know them before they arrived, and he preferred to invite them himself.
“Come in and have some tea!” he said after taking a deep breath.
“I would prefer a little mug of beer, if it is possible, my good sir,” said Balin. “But I don’t mind some seed-cake, if you have any.”
“Lots!” Bilbo answered, to his own surprise; and he ran to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and to the pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon.
When he got back, Balin and Dwalin were talking at the table like old friends (in fact, they were brothers). Bilbo put the beer and the cakes in front of them, when a loud ring came at the bell again, and then another ring.
“I am sure, this time it’s Gandalf,” he thought. 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. They hopped in, as soon as the door began to open – Bilbo was not 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 took off their blue hoods and bowed.
“At yours and your family’s!” replied Bilbo.
So the four dwarves sat around the table and talked about mines and gold and troubles with the goblins and the dragons, and lots of other things, but then the bell rang again. “Someone is at the door!” Bilbo said, blinking.
Then the bell rang again louder than ever, and he had to run to the door. There were FIVE dwarves. 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 the dwarves joined the others. Some of them called for ale, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes; so the hobbit was very busy for a while. Suddenly there came a loud knock. Somebody was banging with a stick!
Bilbo rushed along the passage, very angry. He quickly opened the door, and they all fell in, one on top of the other. More dwarves, four more! And there was Gandalf behind, leaning on his stick and laughing.
“Carefully! Carefully!” he said. “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, a very important dwarf, who didn’t like falling on Bilbo’s mat with Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur on top of him.
“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods hanging on the pegs. “I hope there is something to eat and drink! What’s that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think, for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-pie,” said Bifur.
“And some cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes, if you don’t mind,” called the other dwarves.
“And bring out a few eggs, the cold chicken and pickles!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit went to the pantries.
“They know as much about my pantries as I do myself!” thought Mr Baggins, who was feeling really confused. 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.
Gandalf sat at the head of the party with the thirteen dwarves, and Bilbo sat on a stool at the fireside. The dwarves ate and ate, and talked and talked, and time went 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 very politely.
“Of course!” said Thorin. “And after. We will not finish the business till late, and we must have some music first. Now let’s clear up!” And the dwarves jumped to their feet and made tall piles of all the things. They went off and the hobbit ran after them almost crying with fright: “please be careful!” But the dwarves only started to sing:
“Break the glasses and the plates!
That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates –
Pour the milk right on the floor!
Splash the wine on every door!”
But of course they didn’t do that, and everything was cleaned very quickly, 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. “Now bring out the instruments!” said Thorin.
Kili and Fili brought little fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori took out flutes from their coats; Bombur brought a drum from the hall; Bifur and Bofur brought clarinets; Dwalin and Balin brought big viols and Thorin’s harp. It was a beautiful golden harp, and when Thorin touched it, the music began suddenly, and it was so sweet that Bilbo forgot everything else. Soon the dark came into the room, but they continued playing. And suddenly first one and then another began to sing, and this is a fragment of their song:
“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dark deep caves and caverns old
We go away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
For ancient king and elvish lord
A lot of things of shiny gold
The dwarves produced, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.”
And then the song told the story of a dragon that came and burned down the woods on the mountain, killed a lot of dwarves and took their treasures. The hymn was heroic and its last words were:
“We go 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 magic, and he felt 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 explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick. He got up in excitement. 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.
“What about a little light?” said Bilbo feeling sorry.
“We like the dark,” said the dwarves. “Dark for dark business!”
“Of course!” said Bilbo, and sat down in a hurry.
And then Gandalf said, “Let Thorin speak!”
So Thorin said, “Gandalf, dwarves and Mr Baggins! We are here to discuss our plans. Before the dawn we will start our long and really dangerous journey. And I suppose I have to explain something before.” But he was interrupted. Poor Bilbo couldn’t hear it any longer. When he heard “really dangerous journey”, he began to feel something coming up inside, and very soon he made a sound like the whistle of an engine coming out of a tunnel. Then he fell on the floor and screamed “struck by lightning!” So the dwarves took him and laid him on the sofa with a drink at his elbow, and then they went back to their dark business.
“He is an excitable little fellow,” said Gandalf, as they sat down again, “but one of the best – as fierce as a dragon.”?
Meanwhile, after a drink, Bilbo crept nervously to the door of the room. He heard Gloin speaking: “Are you sure of him? Maybe Gandalf is right, and this hobbit can be fierce, but one scream like that in a moment of excitement would be enough to wake the dragon and all his relatives, and kill many of us. I think he was frightened but not excited! He looks more like a grocer – than a burglar!”
Then Mr Baggins opened the door and went in. The Took side had won, though many times afterwards the Baggins part regretted it.
“Pardon me,” he said, “I don’t know why you mentioned burglars, but as far as I understand, you think I am no good. I will show you. Tell me what you want, and I will try it, if I have to walk far away and fight the wild beasts.”
“Yes, I was talking about you”, said Gloin, “and you can say Expert Treasure-hunter instead of Burglar if you like. Gandalf told us that there was a man in these parts looking for a Job at once, he had marked your door and so arranged a meeting here this Wednesday at tea-time.”
“Of course,” said Gandalf, “I put the mark there myself. I did it for very good reasons. You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr Baggins because he is a real hero. So let’s have no more argument. Now Bilbo, my boy, fetch the lamp, and let’s look at this!”
On the table he spread a piece of parchment like a map.
“This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin,” Gandalf said. “It is a plan of the Mountain.”
“There is a dragon marked in red on the Mountain,” said Balin, “but it will be easy enough to find him without that, if we arrive there.”
“There is one point that you haven’t noticed,” said the wizard, “and that is the secret entrance. Do you see that rune on the West side, and the hand pointing to it from the other runes? That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls. It is very small. ‘Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast’ say the runes. Smaug could not creep into a hole that size, not even when he was a young dragon.”
“It is a great big hole to me,” said Bilbo.
“Also,” went on Gandalf, “I forgot to mention that with the map I got a key. Here it is!” he said, and handed to Thorin an unusual small key made of silver.
“I will keep it safe,” said Thorin and fastened it upon a chain that hung about his neck and under his jacket.
“So I decided on burglary”, continued Gandalf. “And here is our little Bilbo Baggins, the selected burglar. And now let’s make some plans.”
“Very well then,” said Thorin, “maybe the burglar-expert will give us some ideas or suggestions.” He turned to Bilbo.
“First I would like to know a bit more about the story,” said he, feeling confused. “I mean about the dragon and the gold, and how it got there, and who it belongs to. Also I would like to know about risks.”
“O very well,” said Thorin. “Long ago in my grandfather Thror’s time our family was driven out of the far North, and came back with all their things and their tools to this Mountain on the map. They became very rich and famous, and my grandfather was King under the Mountain. The mortal men, who lived to the South, respected him. They built the merry town of Dale there in those days. Kings often sent for our smiths, and rewarded them generously. Those were good days for us – my grandfather’s halls became full of jewels, and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North.
“Certainly that attracted the dragon. Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves; and they guard their stolen treasures. There were a lot of dragons in the North, and one of them, very greedy, strong and wicked, was called Smaug. One day he flew up into the air and came south. We heard a noise like a hurricane coming from the North, and then the dragon settled on our mountain in flame. He burned down the woods. By that time all the bells were ringing in Dale and the warriors were arming. The dwarves rushed out of their great gate; but the dragon killed them and destroyed most of the warriors. Then he went back and crept in through the Front Gate and after that there were no dwarves left alive inside, and he took all their wealth for himself. Probably, he has piled it all up in a great heap far inside, and sleeps on it. Later he crawled out of the great gate and came by night to Dale, and carried away people to eat, until Dale was ruined, and all the people dead or gone. What goes on there now I don’t know for certain, but I think nobody lives near the Mountain.
“Those few of us, who were lucky to be alive, wept in hiding, and cursed Smaug. Suddenly my father and my grandfather arrived. They only said that one day in the proper time I would know how they had got away. After that we went away, and we had to work really hard to earn our living. But we have never forgotten our stolen treasure.
“I think my father and my grandfather had a private Side-door, and only they knew about it. I am sure they made a map, and I would like to know how Gandalf got it.”
“Well, your father gave me this to give to you,” said the wizard. “Your father could not remember his own name when he gave me the paper, and he never told me yours. Here it is,” said he handing the map to Thorin.
“I don’t understand,” said Thorin.
“Your father,” said the wizard slowly and grimly, “gave me the map in the dungeons of the Necromancer.”
“What were you doing there?” asked Thorin with a shudder, and all the dwarves shivered.
“It does not matter. It was a dangerous business. I tried to save your father, but it was too late. He had forgotten almost everything except the map and the key. Necromancer is an enemy quite beyond the powers of all the dwarves. And the dragon and the Mountain are also impossible tasks for you!”
“Hear, hear! Hear what I have got to say!” said Bilbo.
“What’s that?” they asked.
“Well, I think that you should go East and have a look round. After all there is the Side-door, and dragons must sleep sometimes, I suppose. I am sure you will think of something. And well, what about bed and an early start? I will give you a good breakfast before you go.”
“Before we go, you mean,” said Thorin. “Aren’t you the burglar? But I agree about bed and breakfast. I like eggs and ham before a journey.”
So the hobbit made beds on chairs and sofas for them all and went to his little bed really tired. 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 singing to himself in the best bedroom next to him:
“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dark deep caves and caverns old
We go away, ere break of day,
To find our long-forgotten gold.”
That night Bilbo had very uncomfortable dreams. The next day he woke up late.